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Jovian Chronicles - On The Horizon


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The JSS Resolute buzzed with activity at the end of the dock with Argus Station. Exo-armors were being loaded into its bays while a small swarm of service drones and exo-suited personnel routinely inspected the outer hull and systems, performing an maintenance that was required. 

The Resolute was an older ship (by Jovian standards), one of the first of the Guardian-class of escort carriers, but she was still solid after many tours through the Belt. She had seen her fair share of clashes with pirates in that time, and though skillfully repaired and maintained, some of the scars from those battles could still be seen by the observant.

In a briefing room near the ships Exo Bay, two Lieutenants entered and each found a seat, pulling themselves into their respective chairs and buckling themselves in. A few moments later the door opened and in came a not quite middle-aged black woman with short hair pulled back, and in a JAF duty uniform. Her rank insignia indicated she was a Commander and the name on her uniform was Onuaha. Both Lieutenants saluted, which was returned.

"At ease." Commander Onuaha said as she pulled herself into a seat, buckling as well. 

"Welcome to the Resolute. I am her Captain, Commander Onuaha." the woman said, and then got right down to business.

"You may be wondering why you are here. The answer is simple; you are to be part of a special, multi-national unit. This unit is being formed for the purpose of joint training so as to prepare each nation for CEGA aggression in the likelihood of war. 

With the the recent, extensive military build-up the CEGA, indications are that they may soon decide to impose their rule over the Solar Nations with the intent of making them simple colonies of Earth once more. So let's face it, the CEGA and Jupiter are the two biggest kids on the block. If it comes to war, it will be us slugging it out and the fate of the solar system would hang in the balance. We have a technological edge over the CEGA, but that edge is slowly eroding, more on that later, and they certainly have a greater industrial capacity. That makes for a long and brutal fight, at best. 

Our friends, the Martian Free Republic, are prepared to fight tooth and nail. I am sure you have all heard tales of the Rangers' resiliency. They are no strangers to combat nor making due with little to nothing, but space warfare is clearly not their forte.

The Mercurians and the Venusians both seem to have the intent of remaining neutral in the face of any aggression between the CEGA, Mars and Jupiter, but neutrality may not be an option should the Free Republic fall. 

Therefore, our fellow nations are each sending officer pilots to form this unit so they may gain some operational experience and training. If things go well, they will return to their respective armed forces to share what they have learned. In the process we all learn to better cooperate, should a war take place and it allows officers of each military to known one another, also assisting in mutual cooperation and defense should the need arise.

Pilots will rotate in and out to spread their knowledge and build bonds, and ideally more such units will be formed. This unit is being Jovian led though, and as such I am counting on the both of you." she said and then looked to Lt. Mercer.

"Lieutenant Mercer, I selected you for this assignment since you are fresh out of OTS. You are a young officer who can hopefully develop relationships with the other officers that can assist our nations cooperation for years to come." she explained and then turned her attention to Lt. Summers.

"Lieutenant Summers, it is not easy to work through the ranks and earn your commission like you did. Your experience and instructional ability will be an invaluable assets to this unit.  And though command hopes for 'a spirit of cooperation' within the unit, this is Jovian led and therefore with your training and experience, you will be the ranking officer." Commander Onuaha explained.
"You are both among the best pilots in the JAF and have already worked together, that should help expedite things in making this unit gel, because this unit needs to work. It's success could mean a drastically different outcome in a possible war with the CEGA if it means the Solar Nations can unify against them. The Merchant Guild's fleet and the Venusians' bankroll could mean the difference between our subjugation or continuing independence.

Questions so far?"

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Summers had been excited when she received orders to Resolute, but now after, hearing the summery of their impending duties from Cmdr Onuaha, she wasn't so sure. Resolute was a well decorated warship but growing old and this assignment sounding more like the continuation of her previous two years work as an instructor filled her with dread of more time away from action and instead spent teaching others how to fly. She had very much hope for a combat assignment back in the space lanes hunting pirates.

And killing them.

"Commander is this going to be a real patrol assignment? Or are we," she glances at Lt. Mercer, "just going to be babysitters in a dog and pony show?"

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Commander Onuaha cocked her head at the question, her brow furrowed.

"Does this ship look like a circus to you, Lieutenant?  Did you pass by some hoops to jump through and little teeter-totter on your way in here?" she asked, her tone firm and authoritative, making it unclear if she was just being sarcastic or if she really did want an answer.

"No. You didn't." she said, not waiting for a reply.

"This is one of the finest carriers in the JAF with as long, storied and decorated a history as any vessel in the Gamma Division. I have had the privilege of being her Captain for as long as you have been in, and as far as I am concerned, it is an honor to be assigned to her. You are getting to grace her decks because of your reputation as an ace pilot, skilled instructor and and dependable veteran who earned her commission through a decade of hard work and service to the JAF and therefore could have what it takes to lead this unit on it's mission of such importance, not only to Jupiter, but to the entire, damned solar system." she explained in a near sermon. 

"Now is my assessment of you wrong, Lieutenant? If so, then there's the hatch back to Argos Station. You can pass on this assignment, no harm done, and I will put in transfer request for the third pilot on my list. I only want officers I can count on and want to be here. This is too important, and likely too fragile, to risk otherwise." she asked, nodding to the hatch. 

Not waiting for an answer quite yet, she continued, 

"If my assessment was correct though, and you are the fine soldier and officer than I think you are, then you will get the distinction of not only serving on the Resolute, but also being the field commander of this multi-national unit, the first of it's kind, so that everybody can learn to cooperate, sharpen their skills and tactics and gain some actual operational experience in case the CEGA gets aggressive.... all while blazing some pirates to boot.

Now tell me Lieutenant, can I count on you?" Commander Onuaha asked, though this time she actually waited for a reply.

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Summers was caught off guard by the Captains dressing down, she stiffened to attention in her seat and locking her eyes on a point above and behind the captain's head and waited for her to finish before replying.

"Yes ma'am, you can count on me 100% ma'am."

Well shit summers, she thought to herself, way to go pissing off the new CO after only five minutes. That might be a record.

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Commander nodded at Blake's reply.

"Good. Then welcome to the Resolute." she said, apparently bushing the previous exchange aside.

She then turned her attention to Lieutenant Mercer.

"The same goes for you too. I selected you because of your ability and the fact you have at least something of a pre-existing relationship with Summers, that will give a little bit of a head start toward unit cohesion. But I also served under your mother for a tour on the Dauntless, years ago. She was an outstanding officer who earned my personal respect. When I saw your name on the list of candidates I thought that if you were even half of the officer that she was, then the future of this unit and program would be in good hands.

So tell me .Lieutenant.  Can I count on you as well? If not, then there's the hatch. No harm, no foul." Commander Onuaha asked.

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Garrett couldn't help the slight Wince as his former instructor questioned the credibility of the posting. For something as decorated as the Resolute to be relegated to what amounted to a glorified babysitting job sounded preposterous. And that was even before the ramifications of this particular squadron was taken into account. Given that he and Summers were the only ones here, odds were decent they were the only contingent being footed by the Jovians, which meant there was another 5 to 8 members unaccounted for across the other Nations. An op like this, with the express purpose to foster relations between the various militaries and gain experience for the Officers in question? Heads would roll if there wasn't at least some effort to get them time operating in combat situations. Beyond that, from the sounds of it, this was a Jovian idea. If they were unable to follow through, and prospectives returned to their militaries and proceeded to freeze during combat ops? Becoming a laughing stock would be the least of their worries.

The fact that it allowed them to thumb their nose at CEGA and visibly set themselves up as opposition without officially declaring so was probably just icing, as far as the brass was concerned.

He did feel sorry for Summers, though. Especially with the dressing down she was being given. He could imagine the thoughts that were going through her head. He certainly wouldn't want to get stuck babysitting junior officers after getting away from babysitting prospective junior officers in the Academy.....

Nodding to the Commander, he responds,

"Never a doubt, Ma'am. You can count on me." He offers a nod, before moving on.

"If I may ask though, Ma'am, have you decided on the rest of the unit? I'm expecting it will be a mix of Vets and greenhorns, in an effort to get us newbies up to snuff in as short a timeframe as possible, but I may be wrong."

He offers a little self deprecating smile, shrugging in a "What can you do?" manner.

"What will we have to work with?"

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"The two of you are the only official members of the JAF in this unit. Outside of that, I have little control of who is assigned. It seems that the other nations have taken this opportunity seriously enough though.

The Free Republic is sending one of their veteran Rangers, with his Martian-built Defender. He sounds like a lifer and one tough S.O.B. He's bringing his Exo-Suit as well. You and our Exo-Suited Infantry can likely learn just as much from him about planetside operations and combat as he can from us about space.

The Venusian Home Defense Force Venus is rather small and has served little more than ceremonial functions thus far as Venus has never really came into armed conflict with anybody. Though they may be small, you can bet that the Corporations have spared no expense in outfitting them and getting them the best training credits can buy. Unfortunately, that means that simulations and war games have been the extent of their battlefield experience. And you know that things are quite a bit different when your life is actually on the line. Simulators can only take you so far. 

So the the HDF is sending a young 2nd Lieutenant. She will be bringing along the first homegrown Venusian Exo-Armor for proper field testing. If they are committed enough to sink what was likely billions of credits into R&D for their own Exos, then they seem to take their continued independence seriously. How good the design is, remains to be seen, but field testing against pirates, though dangerous, it's still relatively safe for an unproven design. 

I do not have to tell you what the loss of their first, prototype Exo would mean to Jovian-Venusian relations. You do not need to babysit her, but keep and eye on her, especially the first time out. Because the fact is, no matter many hours she may have logged in simulators, she's still green who has never seen real combat and could get in over her head real quick.

And if you thought the HDF was small, then you should see the Mercurians. Aside from occasional pirates, nobody wishes to cause problems with the Merchant Guild and their fleet, so they have a few pilots mostly to protect and escort their own through the belt, mostly with aerospace fighters. They are sending a Lieutenant as well. Apparently, she started as an aerospace pilot before moving to Exos. She's seen some action in the Belt as a fighter pilot, so she is no stranger to combat, but I think she is still somewhat new to Exos.

She will be bringing her own exo, a Hercules. It is homegrown Exo-armor of the Merchant Guild, built just has much to assist in transferring cargo from their ships as it was for combating pirates. Its armament is also somewhat limited. No integrated weapons. They wanted it all hand-held so they could leave the weapons behind when operating peacefully in ports. I saw one in action once though. They are pretty fast if somewhat lightly armed.

And lastly we have some special help. Dash Carpenter. The CEGA does not have Earth as unified as they present, and in fact some nations actively still oppose them. Dash was a freedom fighter who was sent in to infiltrate the CEGA to learn their tactics, methods of operation and so forth and then return to the freedom fighter, bringing his Exo with him and ideally helping several more get taken in the process. Unfortunately due to some information gathered in a CEGA raid, his cover was blown and he had to flee. He managed to make it to Jupiter and made contact with us. 

Though he is not a formal member of the JAF, as I think he hopes to return to a liberated Earth one day, but he was trained as a Exo-pilot by the CEGA and so he is fully familiar with rank and structure. Hopefully he will something of an ace in the hole for us, as he knows the CEGA tactics and protocols and has information on their Exos as well. He is effectively a civilian advisor, but far from the typical civilian. He will effectively carry the rank of Specialist to reflect his unique situation.

Any questions so far?" the Commander asked, her gaze shifting from one Lieutenant to the other.

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"A few Captain. I am very eager to get back out there and burn some pirates. But It is going to take a lot of work to get a mismatched unit like this up and running. I'm going to need specs on their armors.So i can make a training program. I'd like service files if we have them. It's one thing training raw recruits who have only seen and Exo-armor on the vid. But these officers are already trained, that is liable to create a whole slew of new problems. I'd like to know as much about them before we start as I can." She pauses a second looks at her tablet where she had been taking notes during the briefing. "I guess the first thing we are going to need is Time. How long till they arrive? How long do we have to train up? And how long til deployment?" She rests her hands on her tablet and looks at the captain expectantly.

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Garrett hummed in thought. It seemed like an interesting mix for a squad, but that sort of went without saying given its nature. And it was unlikely that there would be any issues with competence from any of the candidates. As the first wave, every nation would be looking to put it's best foot forward. He felt a well of pride at being one of the Jovian candidates. His simulations spoke for themselves and he had pulled manoeuvres in the Mentors that had most of the other students (as well as some of the younger instructors) looking a bit green around the gills. That he had maintained some semblance of accuracy while doing so was apparently even more impressive ("I didn't know it was *possible* to move it like that!"). This being said, it was still an honour to be hand-picked like he was.

He nods along to Summers' rapid fire string of questions. All reasonable. The biggest hurdle to begin with would probably just be getting everyone situated and used to the situation. Doctrine and standard operating procedure will likely be the biggest stumbling block to begin with. Each military will have slightly different ways of doing things, which could cause problems in the field. The right hand not knowing what the left was doing was likely to get both killed when the left was expecting them to take advantage of the situation, if you pardoned his butchering of the idiom.

Intelligence being what it was, though, he would be surprised if they had even a fraction of what the other Lieutenant was asking. Intelligence had a time honoured tradition of being just this side of useless in practical situations. Enough so that if an Intelligence officer informed him that they were in orbit of Jupiter, he would look out the nearest porthole to check and make sure.

"Nothing from me that Lieutenant Summers hasn't already asked. I'll admit to a curiosity about the area we'll be patrolling, but it's not required for my continued well-being, so I can wait."

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"Unfortunately, this program is being rushed, so we are lacking on some information at the moment, and time, to be honest.

"The Resolute should be departing..." the Commander said as she looked up at the various clocks on the wall, "..in a hour, maybe two, and will burn for the Belt. The Merchant Guild has been nice enough to discretely pick up the rest of the team on a standard run from Mercury to Jupiter. They will rendezvous with us on this side of the Belt in a week, where they will transfer over the rest of the team and their Exos, away from prying eyes. 

That gives you about two weeks on ship before we hit the Belt, and I can give you a couple of days on the edge of the Belt for training before we begin field operations. So a fair amount of this will have to be OJT. That's just the way it is. You know how long and boring patrols can be, so they should give you plenty of extra time to train while in your exos." she said, matter-of-factly.

Commander Onuaha pulled up a holographic map of the Resolute and zoomed in on the Exo Bay that made up a majority of the ship with the dual catapults running the length of the bay.

"The Resolute can carry a dozen exo-armors. Your unit is the size of two standard flights, so you will have the six forward bays. The six aft bays will be for the two flights reserved for ship defense, and extra support if you need it. Those two flights will be on rotation as the alert flight as well, to give your unit more time.

The Resolute also has twin catapults. I seriously doubt any of the others have used them before, so that might be a good idea for one of the early training topics. They take a little getting used to. I am sure you both remember your first catapult launch.

Your Pathfinder Command and Retaliator are loaded in their bays, as is Carpenter's. He has been assigned a Pathfinder Strike, since that cluster missile launcher is helpful on an op like this. 

We have details on the Defender, of course. Even though it is Martian made, there is no appreciable difference. The thing is still a tank, sporting more armor that any other two Exos in the squad combined, most likely. 

The Hercules is not exactly a secret either, since the Guild has been using them for nearly a year now. The Merchant Guild has not exactly sent over specs for it yet, but we have solid intel on its capabilities. 

We have virtually no data on the Venusian exo at this time. It is their first homegrown design and a prototype, so they are playing it pretty close to the chest. Right now we only know that it is a medium exo-armor. But the HDF has few pilots and lots of credits, so I am sure they spared no expense.

As far as personnel files go, I have you files and what we pieced together of Carpenter's. I just told you what I know of the others at the moment. They should have their files with them when they report in, so I will see that you get them too, Summers.

Any other questions?" the Commander asked.



OJT: On the Job Training.

Specs on Exos: You essentially have access to the information I have posted in the OOC threads about the different Exos of each Nation. The spoilers in each post have game stats for you. I will list a link to each post below.

Pathfinder Command
Pathfinder Strike

There is no additional info about the Venusian prototype at this time.


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Blake took a couple of breaths before answering this time, then shook her head. "No, captain. This kind of job creates a lot of questions but they won't be able to be answered until we have a better sense of what we have to work with and what we are going to need." She shrugs but also give the captain a smile. " I do hate not being in a position to no be able to requisition any equipment or parts we may need. There is an awfully big chance our spare components won't work on their exos nd with the clandestine nature of the op, I'm guessing they aren't going to arrive with their own maintenance crews and parts. Our techs will probably have to make modifications to their exos before all is said and done."

She laughs a little. "Well ma'am, I do like a challenge, and you are certainly giving us one."

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"Actually, that is exactly what the Venusian will be showing up with. This is a field test for their prototype, so they are sending a full tech crew and enough parts to make tweaks, modifications and repairs. They argued for an empty bay between themselves and the next exo, but I nixed that shit. We have limited room and I am not going sacrifice an exo, the primary means of defense for this ship, just so they can be all hush hush and keep their secrets, If they want to bring their unproven exo onto my ship and take up one of those valuable bays, then fine. But they are not going to take up two bays. They can just deal with it. The whole point of this is to learn to work together and cooperate. So they have the same amount of time to get glad in that they got mad in." Commander Onuaha said sternly.

"Moving on..." she said, composing herself and pulling up a schematic of the Defender.

"The Defender our techs will be somewhat familiar with. In fact, we have a old tech who used to work on them, so he will lead that exo's tech crew. It is an older Jovian design anyways, so it is not going to be all that different, just older. The thing is a fucking tank though, with easily as much armor as any other two exos in the unit combined. So aside from replacing armor, I doubt there will  be any significant repairs needed. And if their are, it's still our old design. So if he does not bring spares, then we can make it work until such time we can get spares from the Free Republic.

"More or less the same goes for the Hercules. Yeah, it's their design, but it does not take a technical expert to tell the Explorer and Defender were used as a basis. They are sending a lone tech familiar with the Hercules to work with our own techs. If it doesn't arrive with spare parts, then we should be able to make it work, at least in the short term until we can find a Guild ship to get some parts from. They are most of the craft in the Solar System, so it should not be too difficult to acquire replacements and spares."

"But yeah, if other modifications are required on any of the exos, then we'll make them as needed. And you can requisition equipment and parts though. It is just unlikely to be fulfilled before we leave the dock. With luck, it can be waiting for us on our return or supplied by other ship in the field." she added.

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  • 2 weeks later...

- - JSS Resolute briefing room - -

"Very good then." the Commander Onuaha said as she looked down at her tablet and tapped a few times.

A few moments later a hatch opened and a young man in a Jovian uniform pushed his way in and over to a chair.

"Then I would like you to meet Specialist Dash Carpenter. He was trained by the CEGA to be an exo-armor pilot and severed for a short time, so he is as close as we have to an expert on their tactics and exos. Indeed a fair amount of the intel we have on the Wyven is due to him." the Commander explained.

"If you have no further questions, then I will be on my way and let you all get acquainted." she said.



- - Miller's Ridge, Martian Free Republic - -

Dragoon Captain William "Dusty" Rhodes tucked the tablet under his arm as he crouched down and poured the hot coffee into the metal cup of his mess kit.

"Good to see ya, Mad Dog." he said as he sat back on a small rock and lifted up his cup in a small toasts before taking a drink. 

"I came out here because some orders came down. It looks like you have been handpicked for a special assignment." he explained, tossing the tablet with his free hand.

Across from him, Ranger Rachel "Mad Dog" Madeline Hayes caught the tablet with her cybernetic hand and looked down at it.

"Oh?" she asked.

"Yeah. As you know, when the CEGA emerged they offered to graciously take all of the former colonies back into the fold, and were summarily told to go fuck themselves. Well, since then the CEGA has been building up and it's startin' to look like they might just try to do it by force. And with the Feds being so chummy with the CEGA, Mars is likely to be the place where this war, if it happens, kicks off.

So the Jovians had an idea of gettin' all the rest of us to work an train together in a single, multi-national unit. That way we can all learn from each other, and the Venusians can get some real combat time. Well, it seems everybody is on board; Mercurians, Venusians, Jovians and us. Everybody is sendin' officer pilots too so they can eventually come home and share what they leaned. 

So... guess who got selected to represent the Free Republic in this unit?

The Guild is being nice enough to quietly pick up the Venusian and you, exos an all, and ship you over to the Jovians. Since we gotta use the orbital elevator, we will crate up your exos and you will need to wear your civvies. We are trying to keep a low profile for the moment. No need to go tippin' off the Feds so they can give us a hard time.

Anyways, all the details are there for ya. Remember, you are representin' the Free Republic and the Rangers. So go show'em what a Ranger can do." he said with a grin as he saluted by grabbing the front brim of his stetson hat.



- - Torunaga Proving Grounds, Venus - -

"Enter." the voice of the Taisa (Colonel) 

"At ease. Have a seat." the Taisa (Colonel) said, to which Shoi (2nd Lieutenant) Evangeline Akame "Eva" Date nodded and sat down.

The lights dimmed in the briefing room and the holographic display in the middle of the table lit up. As the Colonel spoke it began to display relevant reports, timelines and other information.

"We have reached the extent of the testing we can do with Ghost on the testing grounds and simulations. The time has come for proper field trials. We have been presented with a unique opportunity to do just that, and more.

As you know the CEGA desired to reassert itself over Earth's former colonies, now the Solar Nations, and was rebuffed. With the mass production of their new Wyvern exo-armor added their pre-existing Syreens, conventional craft and growing spacefleet, it appears that they intend to reassert themselves, even if by force. The Earth Orbital Colonies and Luna have already joined the CEGA and the Martian Federation is quite friendly with them as well. The main source of tension is between the CEGA with their Martian Federation allies and the Jovian Confederation along with their loose allies, the Martian Free Republic, while the Mercurians and ourselves seek to remain neutral in the face of such aggression. It may be possibles for us to remain so, thanks to the power of the Venusian Bank and the need for the Mercurian Merchant Guild.

Neutrality may not be an option though, or possibly only a short-lived one while the rest of the Solar System is brought under CEGA control. To combat this the Jovians have made a proposal. Mercury, Venus and the Free Republic all send and officer pilot to Jupiter to form a special, multi-national unit with the intention of training, cross training, fostering cooperation and understanding all while gaining some real combat experience fighting an actual, common enemy. The belt pirates.

So the council has decided to send you with the Ghost to join this proposed unit, and at the same time conduct actual field tests against a real enemy. To this end we are sending the full tech crew with you, as well as spare parts for repairs and adjustments in the field. Since this is the prototype, all of the armor is being replace with upgraded reinforced mesh armor to help ensure it stays in one piece.

I cannot stress enough to you how important this is. A great deal of time, effort and credits have gone into the development of the Ghost. It looks good on the testing grounds and in sims, but this will be a test in real combat. By sending you with the Ghost it will also show the other Nations that we are serious about our defense and have cut into the technological lead of the Jovians significantly, if not surpassed them. So this is as much a subtle show of force as it is a field test and keeps our options open allowing the Council to decide on where we will stand, or who we will stand with, should things come to war. 

The Guild is sending a vessel to discretely transport you, the Martian pilot and their own pilot, along with your exos and tech crew. It will rendezvous with a Jovian escort carrier, the JSS Resolute, where you will all be transferred. The Resolute will be the base of operations for the unit for the foreseeable future.

The Ghost along with the parts are already being secured for transport. So gather up your things and do the HDF proud." the Colonel finished.

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The Diminutive silver haired officer watched as the Terran strapped himself in she shook her head mentally, he certainly wasn't used to zeo-g.

"Welcome to the unit Specialist, I'm Summers, this is Lt. Mercer. Hope you had a good Trip."

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Dash let out a breath of relief as he got strapped into the seating. How did the Jovians make it look so simple? Granted, the motions didn't seem natural, but certainly with a lack of effort involved. The Terran smiled back and brought up his hand in salute. "Are you talking 'trip to Jupiter' or 'trip to here'? Because your answer would affect mine quite a bit."

Dash's grin turned a bit ruefully and flushed with exertion. "I was born on Terra and as you can see, stayed on planet my entire life. Due warning."

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Eva nodded along with the lecture, taking some notes on her wrist mounted datapad before looking up and speaking "I will do all in my power not to let to council down and to learn what I can in combat Sir. However, I have one question... Are their dossiers of my officer peers in this unit? I would like to know all I can about them before I set foot on that ship" 

She then leaned back and straightened her blouse. She deserved this, she was the best at what she did, and her and her... Well Venus's Ghost would prove that. 

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3 hours ago, Evangeline Date said:

Eva nodded along with the lecture, taking some notes on her wrist mounted datapad before looking up and speaking "I will do all in my power not to let to council down and to learn what I can in combat Sir. However, I have one question... Are their dossiers of my officer peers in this unit? I would like to know all I can about them before I set foot on that ship" 

She then leaned back and straightened her blouse. She deserved this, she was the best at what she did, and her and her... Well Venus's Ghost would prove that. 

"Not really, no. Information is very limited at this time since this program is being rather rushed. The Mercurian pilot will be operating on the ship that will transport you and pick up the MFR Ranger. Being that this was the Jovians' idea, I would expect them take it quite seriously and put their best foot forward.

Also, keep in mind that the armed forces of each nation has different SOP, so that may take some getting used to. Such as the Rangers having a much more loose structure and valuing initiative and adaptability. And the Mercurians do not even have actual armed forces. Their exo pilots are more or less security and protection for their shipping. So my guess is that it may take a little time for the unit to gel. The faster it does though, the better it will be for all parties." the Colonel explained.

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Eva bit her tongue. She had something to say, however it would not be in her best interests to say it, instead she absentmindedly patted her datapad. She hoped to put her best foot forward as well, and generally was interested in the unit getting along, however the fact that they might all not be up to her standards was certainly something she'd have to work on. Especially with this MFR Ranger. So she stood up, gave a crisp salute and spoke. 

"Well, I believe that is everything Sir. I shall go and prepare myself for the trip"

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15 hours ago, Dash Carpenter said:

Dash let out a breath of relief as he got strapped into the seating. How did the Jovians make it look so simple? Granted, the motions didn't seem natural, but certainly with a lack of effort involved. The Terran smiled back and brought up his hand in salute. "Are you talking 'trip to Jupiter' or 'trip to here'? Because your answer would affect mine quite a bit."

Dash's grin turned a bit ruefully and flushed with exertion. "I was born on Terra and as you can see, stayed on planet my entire life. Due warning."

"Mine wasn't a question, specialist. I was hoping you had a good trip because in a few days you may wish you were back there."  She flicks her padd bringing up on the screen info on the exo armors.  "We are going to be training hard as soon as the rest of the unit arrives, but a lot of that training is going to be OJT. We are going to be heading directly out on an active patrol of the belt, action is almost a certainty, so we need to be ready."

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Garrett had to bite back a groan at the response. He was having flashbacks to his training. But then, she was just coming out of being an instructor so it wasn't entirely surprising. It would probably take her a while to ease up and remember that everyone here was an officer already. Not a wayward student to be chastised and directed. He could see that having poor responses from the Martian, at least. Or maybe that was supposed to be humour? Hard to tell. As a rule, the flight instructors had none. But maybe hers could just have pulled double duty as sandpaper?

Either way, a small smile crossing his features before answering commenting.

"Perhaps a little hard out the door, Ma'am. No point briefing till we've got everyone together."

He turns to Dash.

"I would ask after both, but that's just me. As the Commander and Lt. Summers have said, I'm Garrett, or Lt. Mercer. Looking forward to working with you."

He smiles fully as a teasing note enters his tone.

"Just if you must be sick, point it in the other direction, yeah?"

He leans forward, a more curious expression on his features.

"If I can ask, what was it like growing up Planetside? You may have never set foot off Earth before now, but I've never been on Terrestrial land before. It's been one ship or station after another as long as I've been about."

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Rachel just chuckled as she heard about the assignment, her day was just getting better and better. She had a few questions, but her primary one was. Why her, what'd she do to deserve getting sent to a Multi-National unit... Nothing came to memory, but she figured the Rangers wanted someone tough as nails there. So she kept her mouth shut, waited for dismissal, saluted and went to get civilian so that the dirty Feddies wouldn't know what she was up to.


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Dash gave Mercer something of an expressively skeptical look. "That's a rather difficult thing to just answer, Lieutenant." traces of the CEGA's iron-clad formality leaking back into his voice. "But I think the best starting point is to answer your question with another question: how do you handle living with all this?!" Dash
's hands jabbed in a general indication.

"All the intermittent periods of 0G! It's not so much an issue of solid ground as solid gravity. Granted, if I had been Navy, I likely wouldn't have that trouble by now. Beyond that? Fresh air, food, water. I felt the difference barely a day onto the departure voyage off-Earth."

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- -  JSS Resolute  - -

"I will leave you to get acquainted." The Commander said as she unbuckled from her seat.

With ease she pushed off for the hatch and stopped as t opened. 

"Though we will be leaving port shortly." she reminded before exiting.

It was indeed not long after that the ship left the station and warnings echoed over the ship, indicating that its plasma drive was preparing to burn. The acceleration was welcomed by Dash, as it simulated gravity within the ship and made movement and other tasks much more easy and familiar for him. 

Over the next few weeks the Resolute made its way toward the Belt, giving those of the new unit some time to get to know one another and go over some basics, all lead by Lt. Summers.  


Finally, after several weeks the warnings sounded again, signaling the beginning of a breaking maneuver. The plasma drive disengaged and ship made a 180 degree spin as it traveled, causing a brief period of weightlessness until it finished the turn and the plasma drive engaged once again, causing the ship to break and once again simulate gravity until it came to a complete stop and weightlessness returned.

"We have arrived at the rendezvous with the Mercurian vessel. The transfer of personnel and material will begin shortly. Lieutenant Summers, collect the rest of your unit and report to the briefing room." Commander Onuaha's voice directed over the ship's PA system.


- -  MGS Silver Strand - -

Due to the length of the trip, and that fact that the ship was a cargo hauler and not really a passenger liner, their few passengers would be spending the trip in cold sleep to minimize the resources needed and to spare them the boredom and possible cabin fever of a several week long trip. At each stop the Mercurians transferred over their passengers by shuttle and used the dual Hercules exo-armors to move and secure the large cargo containers containing their exos and equipment. In zero G the Mercurians seemed almost angelic, moving with speed, grace and ease as they went about their work. They guided the passengers to their sleep pods and oversaw the process, something they were very familiar with. One by one each passenger faded from consciousness...

Gradually the darkness faded as eyes blinked open. The cold room was dimly lit to deal with the brief light sensitivity after week of cold sleep. In the center of the room floated one of the Mercurian crew with a small smile.

"Waky, waky. We're here at the rendezvous with the Resolute. We let you sleep through the breaking maneuver to spare you from it. Those who've been born and raised planetside can find it a little hard on the stomach the first time, especially right out cold sleep." a crewman said as an announcement to the room.

"Wake up, and get dressed. We are beginning the transfer of your cargo in a few minutes. We have some water pouches here for you. We do not advise eating or drinking anything else for an hour. The cryo drugs leave you a little queasy for a short time. Water is fine right now, but sip it. Don't chug. A blob of vomit floating around in zero G is not a pleasant sight, nor easy for you to clean up." he added.

Over the next several minutes people shook cobwebs from their minds as they woke up and struggled somewhat to get dressed in zero G. The lack of gravity was rather unfamiliar to them making the simplest of tasks more difficult. Eventually though both exo-pilots and the Venusian tech crew got dressed with the techs meeting up with a Mercurian tech and making their way to the shuttle while the pilots donned spacesuits and were guided to the cargo containers with their individual exos. 

Over the next hour or so the Defender, Ghost and Hercules exo-armors were each docked in their individual bays on the Resolute, while the remaining Hercules transferred over the containers of parts, ammo and other gear. At the same time the small shuttle delivered the various techs to the Resolute where the techs were guided to the briefing room. As each pilot exited their exo-armor a member of the deck crew met them and guided them over to the briefing room directly across from the exo bay. One by one they arrived in the briefing room, though those born planetside had a little more difficulty making the trip with the unfamiliar lack of gravity. The Jovian crew was helpful though, if slightly amused.


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It was one of the rare quiet moments since their departure. All three exo-pilots of her flight were in the wardroom at the same time. She was at a table going over maintenance reports, it truely sucked not having an office of her own. The other two, Mercer and Carpenter, were sitting together playing a game to pass the time.

Blake picked up her drinking bulb of coffee and looked over at them as she took a big pull. She had been riding them pretty hard with simulator time and other things designed to bring out weaknesses and to be honest she hadn't found many. Aside from Carpenters inept ability to maneuver in a zero-g environment without mechanical aid, he was a decent pilot and had the potential to be a great one. Mercer was as good here as he had been back at flight training. She just hoped that the rest of the unit was at least as good,

All of them looked up when the Captains' voice came over the speaker. After Blake stood. "Alright, you guys heard the Boss. let's square up in here and get to the briefing room."


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Eva was in, a little bit of shock as she reached the briefing room, she hadn't spent much time on carriers before and this one was quite interesting. Well at least to her, she assumed the Jovian pilots saw this as rather mediocre or something. However she was quite impressed, so as she waited in the briefing room she did her best to calm down her energy levels and seem. Professional. 



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  • 3 months later...

The pilots and their Head Techs more filled the briefing room, found their seats and waited a minute or so before Commander Onuaha arrived. She maneuvered quite gracefully in Zero-G, a benefit of such a long career serving on various Jovian vessels, and took her seat. She took a moment to pull up some information on her station and then got right down to business.

"Welcome aboard the JSS Resolute. I am her Captain, Commander Onuaha. You have all been selected by your respective armed forces to be the first to serve in this unprecedented Joint Training Unit. Though some join training has taken place before between some of our armed forces, never has so many of the Solar Nations been represented in a single unit such as this.

Though this joint training will be taking place as pirate busting patrols and other similar activities, let's face it. You all know, or at least have an idea, of why you are here.

Each of our respective nations were offered entry into the CEGA. And each of our respective nations refused. Judging by the intelligence reports about the CEGA's recent military build-up, it looks like another round of 'invitations' may be coming, but this time at the end of a railgun. So the rest of the Solar Nations decided that a joint unit would be formed so all parties involved could cross-train, gain some combat experience and foster mutual cooperation and support among the rest of the Solar System if, or more likely when, the CEGA decides to get rough.

You are that unit.

If things go well, this will be the first of many units such as this to help us prepare for the unfortunate likelihood of war with the CEGA. And to prepare for that, we have a bit of help. This is Spc Carpenter," the Commander said as she motioned to him. "and that's his Pathfinder Strike in the Exo-Bay. He was a freedom fighter on Earth. It seems that things are not quite as 'unified' on Earth as the CEGA claims. He infiltrated the CEGA and was trained as a Exo-Armor pilot, so he has some insights and understanding for CEGA tactics, thinking and procedures.

This unit is the brainchild of the Jovian Confederation, and since we have the experience and military vessels to best carry out the mission, the JAF has the lead on this. Lt. Summers," she said, gesturing to the pale-haired woman, "is the unit commander and that's her Pathfinder Command in the bay. Next to her is the unit's Retalliator pilot, Lt. Mercer." 

Even the Mercurians and the Guild are on board with this, despite the fact that they have no formal military. That should give you an idea of how seriously they take the situation. So to avoid CEGA interference, our Mercurian friends covertly transported the rest of you here along with their own exo-pilot Moore and her Hercules.

If CEGA aggression begins, it is most likely to kick off on Mars, with the help of their Martian Federation buddies. The Martian Free Republic Rangers are masters of planetside combat and renown for doing a lot with very little. They have sent Ranger Hayes along her Defender.

Venus is even on board. To that end they have sent 'Shoi', or 2nd Lt, Date and their prototype Ghost Exo-Armor. This unit will also truly field test the Ghost, so I am sure you all want to know what you can expect from it since you'll all be working along side it. This is Dr. Eisenfaust, the Lead Tech on the Ghost project. I'll let her fill you in on it. Doctor?"



Dr. Johanna Eisenfaust, Ghost Project Lead Desiger/Engineer



Dr. Eisenfaust nodded to Commander Onuaha and then looked over the assembled pilots and techs for a moment before she began.

"I am sure it is well known that the VDF, despite being well funded, is short on Exo-Pilots. That being the case, the idea was to design an Exo-Armor that would offer excellent survivability. This would be achieved not only by the advanced armor, but also it's weapons loadout and additional systems. The reslt is the VEAM-01X Ghost. It stands at a height of 15.8 meters and weights in at 48.1 tons with a standard, linear frame control system. As field testing progresses, the loadout may change, but here is a rundown as it is currently equipped." Dr. Eisenfaust explained with just the slightest hint of a German accent. 

She slid a small drive into the tabletop console and pressed a few buttons, causing the display to project an image of the Ghost.



VEAM-01X Ghost



"To increase operational range, all ranged armament consists of variable beam weapons, avoiding the need to re-arm with missiles or ammo. The primary weapon system is a Variable Beam Cannon. In standard firing mode, the weapon is roughly equivalent to the Jovian Optics 652A Particle Cannon found on the standard Pathfinder. To provide extra punch often provided by missiles, the weapon also possesses a secondary firing mode in which the beam is supercharged, resulting it an approximate 50% increase to both range and output. The power draw is significant though, so the cannon is fitted with a supplementary, pre-charged capacitor cell that can only provide enough additional power for a handful shots in secondary firing mode. 

In addition to the Variable Particle Cannon, the Ghost is equipped with a Laser Defense System inspired by the ACDLS of the CEGA Syreen. For offense the LDS can fire as a pulse laser, while for defense the LDS can function as an anti-missile system. Due to the lack of free space within the torso of the exo-armor, the LDS is housed in an external weapons pod attached to the shoulder of the Ghost.

For close combat the Ghost is equipped with a powerful pincer claw, in place of the left hand manipulator. This removed the need for ammo or fuel, such as with massdrivers and plasma lances, and keeps the weapon always at the ready instead of needing to be drawn and readied like a plasma lance or the vibo-knives found on some Wyvern models. Dual claws were considered, but the right hand manipulator was retained to allow for the addition of supplementary hand-held weapons as well as a variety of other uses.

Much like many of the current Jovian designs, the Ghost is equipped with an additional thruster pack and maneuver verniers, complete with supplementary reaction mass tanks for extender range, speed and maneuverability in Zero-G environments. The pack can be removed via explosive bolts to decrease mass or in case of emergency.

For armor protection the Ghost is currently equipped with full Reinforced Mesh "Alpha" armor over all locations. Field testing will determine if the extra protection, and corresponding cost, of the cutting edge armor is required, or if it can be limited to a few key areas, such as the torso. 

The Ghost was so named as from inception the exo-armor was designed with an eye to stealth as an extra layer of defense and survivability. It possesses both passive and active stealth systems, such as cooled and baffled exhaust, shielded electronics to minimize the EM field, tight beam communications to avoid detection and interception, and radar absorbing materials and coatings. These systems should the Ghost extremely difficult to detect and track with any form of sensors, including recon systems, hence the name 'Ghost'. Despite it's name though, the Ghost's stealth systems do nothing to counter visual detection, though it's stealth systems should have a significant enough advantage to drastically increase survivability and make up for the smaller VDF Exo-Armor Corps against a numerically superior enemy.

As I stated, the loadout and systems may change as testing progresses." Dr. Eisenfaust finished as the image vanished.

"So there you go." Commander Onuaha said as she looked over the assembled pilots and techs.

"Normally you would all spend the next few months in the sim pods, but this program is on the fast track so sims are not a luxury of time we really have. We are starting a patrol of the Belt. With luck we find some pirates and get you some combat time with a real, though manageable foe. 

Take some time to get familiar with each other, your techs and the ship. We will begin training operations in the morning, starting with catapult launches.

"Any questions?" the Commander asked, preparing to dismiss the room.

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Rachel just waved when she was introduced, showing off her seemingly crudely constructed cybernetic arm, as she listened to the briefing she concluded two things. One the Ghost sounded like it could become a large paperweight planetside, and two that she didn't have any questions. Satisfied with this she just waited and scratched her mechanical hand, phantom itch still plaguing her.



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Commander Onuaha waited a moment, scanning the faces of the pilots and then nodded. 

"Good. I've already assigned quarters. You'll be bunking three to a cabin with a shared common area between both cabins. It's a small ship, so space is at a premium. Just be glad you're not hot racking." she said with a grin at the end.

"I'll leave you the room to get acquainted." Commander Onuaha said as she unbuckled from her chair and returned the salutes.

She pushed her way effortlessly to the hatch, opened it and paused for a moment before turning to look back over her shoulder.

"Oh. Since the training of your unit is our priority, you will not need to stand Alert duty. The other two flights will alternate as the Alert Flight. I expect every member of my crew to do their job, and they certainly do, but it still wouldn't hurt to show the other flights some appreciation." she suggested.

"We'll be underway within the hour." she added and then pushed out through the hatch which closed behind her.


After a moment or two the Mercurian waved a hand and took the initiative to break the ice.

"So, hey. I'm Natasha Moore. They call me Buster. I'm a Herc pilot for The Mercurian Merchant Guild. I started as a fighter pilot, but I am certified in shuttles and almost anything else that burns too. Anyways, the Guild has been switching over to the new Hercs, so I switched over too in order to keep my job and membership in The Guild.

The Guild does not really have ranks quite the same way you guys do though, since it's a merchant guild, not a military. My rank, if you want to call it that, is just 'Pilot' because I am usually one of two Herc pilots on a Guild ship. We guard Guild vessels and help with the loading and unloading of cargo. I've seen my fair share of combat with pirates though, so I'm far from green. And this is my tech, Sita." the dark-haired Mercurian said as she motioned over to the woman of obvious Indian descent in worn, coveralls.

"My Herc's no tank or anything, and not dripping in weapons, but she's plenty fast and I'm a pretty good shot with that massdriver rifle. We brought spare parts, plenty of ammo and some other goodies, so we should be good to go." Pilot Moore mused.



Flight: Jovians organize Exo-Armors and Aerospace Fighters into a unit of 3, called a Flight. Suited Infantry (Exo-Suit units) are organized into Flights of 10. 

Alert Flight: Carriers and bases with Exo-Armors and/or Aerospace Fighters always have some pilots and their craft (at least one Flight) on standby, ready to launch in an emergency. 

Hot Racking: On ships where there are more crew than bunks (or racks), some crew members have to share a rack, with the off-duty crew member getting to sleep in the rack. Because there is somebody almost always in the rank, it stays warm/hot (from body heat), hence the term "hot racking"


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Eva, following the Mercurian's example. Stood up and put her own twist on it, bowing deeply before bringing an honest attempt at a smile, which she hoped would work. 

"Hello, though I have been introduced by your Commander, I shall introduce myself. I am Second Lieutenant Evangeline Date, They gave me the name Razor-Girl in training, so if you are inclined. You may call me that, or Eva, or Evangeline. I am pleased to make all of your acquaintance and I hope to work, well with you. I of course pilot the Ghost which my technical officer has provided details on, though I am also trained on most of the Venusian arsenal I specialize in sniping, and while I may have not seen combat. I did perform extremely well in simulations, setting academy records." 

She paused for a moment, bowed again and stood at a sort of half rigid attention. She was meaning to be impressive



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Like the Venusian, Dash rose as at attention, but did not bow. That was the difference between Japanese-influence Venus and the alternative, but still formal protocol of CEGA. "I'm Dash Carpenter, callsign Sleeper. You've already heard the gist of my unique situation from the Commander - I hold the title of Specialist since, technically, my status is that of an expert civilian. I can pilot, I can fight, I know the standard CEGA officer education plus the tricks I picked up as an insurgent and undercover agent. I cut my teeth on the Wyvern, but the Pathfinder model handles even better for sure."

Dash was friendly and straightforward. "So I don't know how precisely we'll be doing this, but I'll probably be giving you a seminar or few."

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"Ok as the captain said, I'm Lt. Summers, callsign Mongoose. Here in the JAF we follow the age old tradition of pilot callsigns, if you don't have one we'll figure one out for you. Out in the sky we use callsigns only it's easier to remember and safer. On board we generally use rank and name when on duty or just rank, callsigns are ok too. Off duty use whatever you and who ever  your addressing is comfortable with. I've never worked with civilians in the past but like all military i have preconceived ideas about civies. I will try my best to keep an open mind and not to offend you.

Check your Tablets and synch them with the ships network, I've sent you the Frame location for our cabins and assigned bunks. If you have any problems let me know. Once we're done here find your bunk, stow your gear and prep for Accel.

Once we get to cruise I'd like to get started we have a lot of work to do before we get to our patrol zone." She slipped her tablet into its holster. "I know you guys are tired from your trip out so this first session is gonna be more of a get to know you and your exo. Lt. Mercer I am very familiare with and Spec. Carpenter has been aboard for a bit and i have an idea of his capabilities. I want to get a feel for the rest of you so I can make a good training schedule. Any questions?"

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Rachel let her arm whirl down as she listened to the first three to, the prim and proper Venusian, an earthling of all things and the fearless leader. She smiled her half cybernetic smile, something her boss called unnerving. 

"Well I'm Rachel Hayes, Ranger Rachel Hayes. You Jovians would call that a lieutenant, as for my callsign. I got one... On account of my being they call me Mad Dog. So that issues resolved, and as the good commander said I pilot a defender. Cut my teeth and bled in the damn thing. It's like a good 'ol extension of me now, and it's the only thing tougher than me." 

She smiled again and gave a half salute 


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