2948-01-28 – Tales from the Service: Outsiders to War
We are expecting news about the ongoing Battle of Matusalemme at any moment. Though the system’s Hypercast Relay has been destroyed by the Incarnation, the Fifth Fleet has rigged a fleet communications system back to command here at Maribel. Though the press pool is not privy to the nature of this system, it seems so far reliable and not subject to attack.
Last week’s entry in this space resulted in a significant amount of datasphere traffic and a number of questions, but to respect the wishes of the sender, I cannot comment on it in any great detail. River Plate is a secondary unit supporting the forces currently attempting to engage the enemy in Matusalemme; when the battle there is over, perhaps the person who sent it in will agree to engage with the datasphere audience.
This week, in lieu of any interesting data from the battle-front, Nojus and I thought we’d take a moment to discuss the odd interest certain non-Confederate xenosapients have taken in the war’s progress. There are a few Rattanai and Atro’me in the Confederated Fifth Fleet, but the experiences of these individuals are going to be similar to that of their human crew-mates. What we thought this audience would be interested in was a summary of the behavior (or suspected behavior) of the Angels and other species that keep themselves separate from the Reach’s culture and datasphere. For this special, I will present the facts, and then Nojus will provide analysis.
There have been several confirmed Angel sightings during the period of hostilities, though all but two of them (including Tales from the Inbox: Angels in Sagittarius) occurred before loss of contact with the Confederated vessels and civilians on the far side of the Sagittarius Gap. On the far side of the Gap, the behavior of the Angels has been erratic and difficult to interpret, with small groups of their signature strike-analogue vessels appearing and disappearing almost at random, zipping through systems on apparent high-speed snooping passes which often terminate early with the ships vanishing without a trace, perhaps into some poorly-understood form of star-drive jump. When contacted, the Angels respond to humans as they always have on our side of the Gap, suggesting they are at least in communication with the Angels who operate in the region of Sol.
The two sightings in the Coreward Frontier regions of Meriwether and Nye Norge are a bit stranger, and one of them is still under Naval Intelligence media embargo. The one we can talk about is similar to a few unconfirmed sightings from before the start of hostilities – a colonial outpost reported being visited by a trio of towering Angels who appeared out of the wilderness on foot, deposited a blanket-wrapped bundle on the ground in full view of the awestruck settlers who ran to meet them, then silently turned and departed. On inspection, the bundle contained an unconscious human child of perhaps three years’ age, as well as a collection of small trinkets and a Confederated Worlds credit-stub carrying a sizable sum.
[N.T.B. - Having seen several data payloads of this sort of encounter, I suspect they are looking for something – a lost comrade, perhaps. I have a hunch the Angels spotted on the far side of the Gap are some of the same Angels who’ve been lurking in the dark around the Core Worlds for centuries. Hells if I know how they managed to lose someone or something on the other side of the Gap – this might be the first time they’ve lost anything at all.
As for the foundling, I have heard almost a dozen such stories over the years. Settler legends insist that such youths are destined to live great and significant lives, though I can’t say I buy that.]
In addition to the encounter with a small Navy task force previously featured here (Tales from the Service: A Reacher's Request), there have been several Reacher sightings on the Coreward Frontier since hostilities began. Though their usual mode of interaction with humans is purely mercantile, the Reachers have on several occasions declined to rendezvous with nearby Confederated vessels for purposes of trade, citing more pressing business. This is the first time they have been observed to do this in a well-documented encounter; usually the Reachers are very eager to barter.
There were no Reacher sightings on the far side of the Gap before the chain of Hypercast relays to Sagittarius was cut. It is not known if the endurance of their vessels allows them to travel that far before needing to resupply.
[N.T.B. - Though no vessel of Reacher make has ever been seen twice, there can be little doubt there are at least several Reacher vessels in the Coreward Frontier, and that they are not making any particular effort to hide from Confederated eyes (or presumably the Incarnation). The pressing business cited might refer to searching for the Grand Journey which they mentioned to Mus’ad Balos. My personal speculation is that this is the name for the faction of Reachers who ply the far side of the Gap, and that the Incarnation dealt harshly with them, to the point of commandeering one or more of their vessels.
What makes me think we’re missing something big here is that Nate would attack the Reachers at all. They don't care about any of our mad ideas, counterhumansim included, and probably would have happily sold Nate everything they had about the Confederated Navy for the right price.]
The most celebrated xenosapient species encountered on the Coreward Frontier itself, the inhabitants of the Chromatic World, not being natively capable of space travel, have not participated in or been affected by the war to date. I made a few inquiries to the chief of the Makaharwa scientific mission this week, and was informed that while Makaharwans of all ages have listened attentively to stories about the war told by Confederate missionaries and scientists, this is not different than the way they react to any story that has been translated into their language.
While they grasp the concept of space travel rather well, I was informed that most of the members of the research team doubt the clever avian-sapients quite believe the stories. Their own legends are obviously exaggerated, and most likely the Makaharwans think their human interlocutors are exaggerating their stories as well.
[N.T.B. - I still haven’t had the luck to visit Makaharwa... Maybe when this is all over, I will. I hope and pray the Incarnation leaves them alone; the Makaharwans could easily vanish into the rocky uplands in which they nest, suffering no hardship, and leaving the Incarnation in control of whatever land they wished to take, but the process of levering a strong Incarnation garrison off that beautiful world would inevitably cause destruction on a scale they are almost certainly not prepared to face.]
Though Cold Refuge is on the far side of the Confederated Worlds from the Coreward Frontier, several of its automated mercantile haulers have meandered their way into the areas threatened by Incarnation raids. According to Naval Intelligence, four Cold Refuge haulers are operational in the Frontier, and they have been making a habit of visiting systems only days after an Incarnation cruiser raid.
[N.T.B. - Most likely, the Guardian of Cold Refuge, who is at least partially connected to the datasphere, is seeking to learn more about the conflict, which is the first since the Brushfire War, and thus its first opportunity to observe Confederated fleets as an un-engaged observer. This just goes to show how information is more valuable than hulls – especially when one can send semi-autonomous spies which, if not destroyed, more than pay for themselves hauling bulk goods from system to system.
It might also be a public-relations move; with all the disruptions caused by the raids, most of the Frontier colonists probably don’t mind the help moving supplies and goods from place to place.]
The Grand Journey
We know little about this variety of xenosapient except that it was mentioned to Navy personnel by Reachers. Naval Intelligence parsed the recording of Mus’ad Balos’s conversation with the Reachers hundreds of times, and were happy to tell me they think based on this analysis that the Grand Journey is not a single species, but instead a cross-species identity held together by bonds of common beliefs.
The Reachers believe that the Incarnation operates captured Grand Journey vessels, and while it’s not clear what variety of starship this refers to (perhaps the blocky, unwieldly transports they brought to Matusalemme a few weeks ago), it is expected by Naval Intelligence that they were appropriated by force.
[N.T.B. - Odd that a multi-species coalition could exist in Frontier space without anyone knowing about them until now. Perhaps, given their name and association with the Reachers, we’re looking at a nomadic society, one far less focused on trade and more self-sufficient. Someone is going to have to pay the damned Reachers a fortune to learn more, and I bet that’s why they slipped Balos that tidbit. They might have showed up in front of those destroyers just to let the Navy to know they had information to sell.]
Other than the Grand Journey, there have been at least three sightings of unknown spacecraft in the conflict zone. Two of these have been covered on this feed before (Tales from the Service: Gabriel's Dutchman and Tales from the Inbox: Indigenous Immolation), but the third is more recent, and does not seem related to either of the previous two.
In an odd data snippet captured by a Navy cruiser heading to Berkant some weeks after the battle there, a cluster of small (none greater than three meters in length) self-powered objects are seen circling curiously around the vessel just after its arrival at the edge of the star system. A spooked gun-battery commander opened fire on them, and though the guns don’t seem to have hit anything, they encouraged the tiny vessels to scatter in all directions, and the cruiser soon lost track of them.
[N.T.B. - I don’t think I could say anything about the previously published items on this feed which the audience has not already speculated since they were published. As for the recent sighting, sapient or no, the objects probably weren’t spacecraft. Though cloudsprites have never been observed outside dense nebular clouds as far as I know, that story lines up with what I've heard about them. Most likely these aren’t sapients at all – if they are similar to cloudsprites, they’re not even really alive.]