Subsubsection: Training interphase 1 Up Subsection: Britannia Royal Naval College Subsubsection: 19 June 2016 (ROUGHEX on Luna) 

15 May 2016 (simulated battle, Iron Duke, skydiving)

The team runs a tactical simulation exercise: Keene acts as captain, Morrish is at the helm, Gretton runs engineering, Findlay’s on sensors and comms, and Stark is navigating. Their ship is a modern Juno-class destroyer with spinal antiparticle beam, missile launcher and X-ray laser turret.
The bulk freighter Stellar Providence reports a life support failure following an attack by pirates in a débris field; they’re attempting to make repairs but are requesting assistance. Keene calls Action Stations, Stark plots an approach course, and Morrish heads in.
Findlay spots an unexpected neutrino source in the débris field; he can’t lock it in, but it’s a power plant of some sort, close to the rendezvous course. Gretton reckons it’s probably from a ship slightly larger than the Juno. Keene broadcasts a command to stand clear, and this Target Bravo fires up active targeting sensors. Findlay’s having trouble getting a firing solution, though the sensor source is a good starting point.
Morrish brings the ship in for a close pass on Bravo, and Keene orders the spinal particle beam to engage; it’s a solid hit, but Bravo’s still active. There’s missile fire, but the point defence turrets engage successfully. Sensors indicate that Bravo is a nominally-scrapped Fearless-class destroyer, older tech but still tough.
A second missile salvo approaches, from the freighter, and Morrish goes into evasive manoeuvres, causing it to miss. The freighter is tumbling, but the bows are pointing towards the Juno.
Gretton suggests placing the Juno behind the destroyer relative to the freighter, and engaging Bravo with X-ray laser turret, and Keene complies. But Morrish doesn’t see a course plot, and looks over to see Stark frozen in place. Findlay works up a backup plot, while Morrish and Keene both try to snap Stark out of it. She gets things back together and produces a course plot, which Morrish follows.
Incoming particle beam and missile fire misses or is evaded. Keene orders Bravo hit with a second shot from the spinal beam, backed by missile fire, and this knocks her out of the fight. Keene orders a continued course, passing behind Bravo and lining up on Alpha (the freighter) for a close pass and full strike. Gretton boosts power to allow the X-ray laser to be included in the strike, but the antiparticle beam punches through missile tube, crew quarters and fuel tankage, and the freighter crew surrender. Exercise end.
There is extensive debriefing: Keene was concerned at the lack of ability to detect other ships mentioned in the distress call but didn’t act on this. He has a quiet chat with Stark, for whom everything was working well until she blanked; simulation logs show that this was when the first big missile salvo was coming in from the freighter, and looking at this she reckons the problem was that it all suddenly felt real and dangerous.
Morrish gets hold of a bottle of something reasonably drinkable and shares it with Stark, over commiseration and encouragement. Gretton and Keene have a more sober post-exercise chat. Next day, Keene and Morrish have an informal argument about that clash of leadership when they were both trying to get Stark back into action.
Findlay gets some tutoring from Stark on strategy and bigger decisions, which helps them both.
Some days later, the cadets transfer aboard HMS Iron Duke, a battleship just leaving refit, for passage to L5. It seems that Rattle already knows Captain Singh, judging by the back-slapping and shouts of “you old pirate”. This is the first time aboard a really big ship for most of them, and once the boost phase is over they’re shown round the ship (where the ratings uniformly take the attitude that “you don’t need to know about that, you’re an orf’cer”). There’s still a large empty space in Engineering where the new, more efficient drives have been fitted; the hangar deck would nearly fit the Juno-class they were simulating the other day. There’s a solar storm towards the end of the trip, but this is mostly a matter of pointing the drive section towards the sun and staying out of that part of the ship.
There’s a week of off-duty time on L5; the Ordovician Fish Brandy has arrived and Findlay shares it with his bunkmates. Keene dashes out the moment the bottle is opened, comes back to apologise, and decamps to the library.
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Isomäki has an idea. It seems he’s arranged to borrow a set of flight packs and do some orbital skydiving, all the way in from L5. He says it will be fun, and Cargill and Morrish are drunk enough to go along with him; Fleming goes for it too. Gretton decides not to roust Keene from the library until they’re safely away.
For the initial burn, Isomäki sets a course which Morrish regards as remarkably daring, though he goes along with it. There’s some confusion over the implementation, and Findlay finds Fleming following him – after some shouting and use of grappling lines, everyone’s back on course, and it’s most of a day until the next manoeuvre.
In the library, someone wanders in wearing a Russian naval uniform – with appropriate visitor’s pass, but this is still a bit unusual. He asks for Commander Rattle, and Gretton and Keene show him the way; “we met in the war”. Rattle certainly recognises him:
“I thought you were dead!”
“No, no, anti-radiation treatments are better these days.”
“Oh well, better luck next time.”
The hatch is closed and bottles are opened.
Gretton spends several days simply relaxing, trying new food and drink and socialising gently. Keene socialises with some different Russians, tries vodka, and mostly drinks gin.
In space, Isomäki talks about this as the best sort of flying (because you can see what you’re doing). Findlay mentions sailing a trawler on the high seas; Morrish mentions sail, but he’s clearly approached this as a hobby more than as a way of life, having the luxury of not going out when storms are coming.
For the re-entry itself, Isomäki is the one who’s drifting off course; the others ask him to double-check, and he comes back, and mutters something about the wrong vodka in the vodka bottle. Orbital Traffic Control recognises the transponders and flight plan, and issues an approach clearance in across the Atlantic. The automatic systems take care of the approach and landing, though Findlay tries for something flashy and sprains an ankle.
The group certainly appears to have landed in Wales… with a welcoming committee, led by Lieutenant Slade and the local police. There is a certain amount of frowning, and comment that there has not been a regulation against this activity before, but there will be now. (“Having a new regulation named after you is not generally considered a goal of training.”) The four are not formally punished, but they’re kept at BRNC for the remainder of the week. On the other hand they’re sitting in shuttles and OTVs within Slade’s Aura of Palpable Disappointment all the way back there. (Morrish arranges for a bottle of something decent to be sent to the Marines at L5 by way of apology.)
 Subsubsection: Training interphase 1 Up Subsection: Britannia Royal Naval College Subsubsection: 19 June 2016 (ROUGHEX on Luna)