Episode 34 – Tough and Competent

Cyanos Geosynchronous Orbit Bravo – CSA TET 2 Control Room

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Central DaisSenior Control Room Officers and Call Signs

FLIGHT: Flight Director
TACTICAL: Tactical and Defensive Systems Officer
SECO: Security Officer

ECHO: Electrical, Environmental and Combined Systems Officer
CORE: Core Reactor Engineering Officer
AUXILIARY: Multi Use Console

: Communications and Sensors Officer
: TET-NET and Network Officer

GENO: Guidance and Navigation Officer

Monday – late afternoon

Monday. It had been a long day-watch in the CSA-TET-2 control room. Fight Director, Commander Tova from her station on the central dais had been particularly demanding. She had overseen the running of numerous systems checks and simulations which involved the highly tedious task of scanning thousands of lines of code and checking and re-checking the data read-outs. Tova had finally let up and had stood down from the control room.

Rönd the Tactical and Defensive Systems Officer (TACTICAL) now had CONTROL. Calico, the Electrical, Environmental and Combined Systems officer (ECHO) had just poured herself a cup of coffee and had flumped back into her chair rubbing her eyes.

Calico: I tell ya TAC, if I see one more > or <, my eyes are going to be permanently cross-eyed. That Tova, is such a hard-ass.

Rönd: I hear you ECHO. Tova is old school, brought up through the ranks under the Chief Designer. Attention to detail, and especially to lines of programming code, was drilled into her from day one.

Do you remember, your very first day and the very first lesson at the CSA Academy? It’s always the same – a history lesson on The Incident. A teeny error in the computer code which caused a catastrophic energy spike and the loss of a TET.

Calico: I remember it well.

TET Control will be known by two words:

“Tough” and “Competent”.

Tough means we are forever accountable for what we do or what we fail to do.
Competent means we will never take anything for granted.

Every time we walk into TET Control we will know what we stand for.

It was almost time to close out their tasks for the day and hand over to the night-watch. Rönd started going around the room for the final status check of the watch.

Rönd: Listen up all controllers. Report status!

CORE: Status green!
ECHO: Green!
GENO: I am green TAC!
TACTICAL: I am Green!
TETNO: Report all stations are green!
SECO: Station is secure – status green!

No answer

I say again – COMMS!

Hanne: TACTICAL this is COMMS: report faint distant unidentified contact.
Now establishing.

Rönd: COMMS – TACTICAL: report when established!

Hanne continued to tap her input screen, fine tuning any signal interference and adjusting the long range sensors to hone in on the distant contact. The contact was coming from the direction of the Aurora Viridis, an area of space known for its strong geomagnetic plasma storms, and usually avoided by spacecraft.

Hanne: TACTICAL – COMMS: Unidentified contact situated in Aurora Viridis – quadrant DELTA: bearing zero-three-one-five.
Designate contact as DELTA-1.
Continuing to resolve and establish.

Several tense moments passed as Hanne continued to zero in and establish the contact. Slowly but surely she continued to adjust and fine tune the long range filters on the sensor net.

An image of the contact gradually began to form on her screen, as it emerged from the interference of the aurora. As the image cleared, Hanne hardly had time to register what her eyes were telling her. A second later an alert warning flashed across her screen. ALERT – ALERT – ALERT!

Hanne: TACTICAL – COMMS: Contact established.

Unidentified contact Delta-1 is in hyper-space – lightspeed c-8.62.
Delta-1 at current speed and course will enter Cyanotic Space in eleven minutes. I say again – one-one minutes. Recommend condition ORANGE.

Rönd: Set condition ORANGE!
Set Delta-1 on central viewer.
TETNO – TACTICAL: Alert all stations – condition ORANGE.
Relay all contact data.

Wolfgang: TACTICAL – TETNO: Acknowledged – all stations are alerted – all report condition ORANGE set.

Moments later Commander Tova strode purposefully into the control room and up onto the central dais.

Commander Tova: TACTICAL report!

Rönd: FLIGHT – TACTICAL: Unidentified contact Delta-1 detected in quadrant Delta.
Current speed is c-8.62 and closing. Will enter Cyanotic Space in 8 minutes.
Condition ORANGE is set.
TET Network is alerted – all are at ORANGE.

Commander Tova: Very well. I have CONTROL.
Maintain condition ORANGE.
COMMS – FLIGHT: Broadcast halt and identify order on all frequencies to Delta-1.
Use high gain ultra narrow-band directional transmitter.

Hanne: FLIGHT aye.
Broadcasting order on all frequencies with the lemon squeezer!


Hanne continued to broadcast the order, however the contact made no reply and continued to close in rapidly on Cyanotic Space.

Hanne: FLIGHT – COMMS: Contact Delta-1 is now entering Cyanotic Space.
No acknowledgement to halt and identify.
Speed is halved to c-4.31 and slowing.
Be advised – Delta-1 has six escorts – repeat – six, two vanguard, two each flank.
Designated new contacts as Delta 2 through 7.
Continuing to broadcast halt and identify with the lemon squeezer.

Commander Tova: TACTICAL – FLIGHT: Scramble and deploy fighter drones – defensive formation. Raise shields.
TETNO – FLIGHT: Relay order to network – advise same – defensive deploy.

Wolfgang: FLIGHT-TETNO: Acknowledged – relaying now.

Rönd: FLIGHT – TACTICAL: Drones are deployed – defensive formation.

The unidentified contact Delta-1 and its escorts continued towards Cyanos and its four alerted sentinels. A squadron of fighter drones took up defensive positions around each TET.

Delta-1 had now reached the Cerulean Meridian; the midway point between the edge of Cyanotic Space and the planet of Cyanos itself. Just as Tova was about to give the order for the fighter drones to move from their defensive formations and advance, Delta-1 finally dropped out of hyper-space and stopped right on the meridian line.

The main ship – if that was what it really was, resembled a large insectoid type creature, complete with imposing vivid green pincers at the front and more green spikes over the extremities of its body. The magenta thorax and abdomen contrasted strongly with the vivid greens of the extremities. Acid green pimple like spots covered the thorax, and the same acid green formed banded stripes around the abdomen.

A few tense moments passed.

Hanne: FLIGHT – COMMS: Incoming signal from Delta-1.

Commander Tova: COMMS – acknowledged.

On main viewer.

If those watching with their eyes glued to the holo-viewers in each of the four TET’s control rooms, were taken aback by the external look of the ship that had just popped out of an aurora like a newly hatched insect from a chrysalis; then what now appeared on their screens was quite beyond what anyone had expected.

Commander Tova: I am Commander Tova of the Cyanos Space Agency TET-2.
Your ship has entered Cyanotic Space without authorisation. You will proceed no further. State your identity and your intentions.

There was a pause. Just long enough to raise tensions a further notch. The creature spoke with a slightly raspy, wheezy voice, which had a similar effect to fingernails being scraped down a blackboard.

Unknown Creature: Identity? Intentions? Such impertinence!

The creature’s mandibles gnashed irritably as it spoke

So bold you are to question. Audacious to presume and intrepid to challenge!
However – I shall trifle with you for a moment.

Number Six! Announce your Queen!

Alongside the creature who spoke was another around half the size. He shuffled and cowered at being addressed directly by his mistress. He cleared his throat, which sounded like wet mucous being strained through a straw.

Number Six: Ah-herrrrruk-em…

May I present, Her Imperial Majesty, Queen Anostosia, Arcane Palatine Defender of the Void beyond the Viridian Aurora, Bugaarian Matriarch of the Wandering Stars across the Reach of Shadow, Dawn and Dusk!

All hail! All revere! All venerate! Oh gracious and benevolent mother we…

Queen Anostosia: Yes, yes, Number Six that will do!

Again her mandibles gnashed irritably

My intentions are clear. You will stand aside with your puny defenses and deliver unto me the nest – unharmed and free of further molestations!

I graciously give you one solaris until shadow of the dusk falls!

For Commander Tova who had no idea what the nest was or might be, needed to think fast to make her reply.

Commander Tova: Queen Anostosia, I assure you that our defenses are more than capable of keeping any threat contained. I have stationed our defensive ships between you and us purely as a precaution. Proceed no further and no harm will come to you. I will contact you again in one hour.

With that Tova gave COMMS a signal to cut the communication link. Having the last word in this particular conversation seemed prudent.

Commander Tova: COMMS – FLIGHT: Get Chancellor Saxe at the Central Committee and the other TET commanders online smartly – secure channel.

Blue-print plan of TET Control Room – commissined from Falke2009
Images of TETs and Bugaarian ships – commissioned from Colourbrand
Image of Bugaarian Queen and Number Six – commissioned from Ensoul

Previous: Episode 33 – Balls and Malls
Next: Episode 35 – Kaerulaus

6 thoughts on “Episode 34 – Tough and Competent

  1. Chris S 10 April, 2022 / 03:13

    So…. it begins 🙂 Very well laid out and very well played! It all fits together like a good puzzle 🙂 excellent!

    • Craig 11 April, 2022 / 19:09

      Puzzle pieces are coming together fast now.

    • Craig 1 May, 2022 / 13:24

      Unfortunately mealworms are not what they are after.

    • Craig 3 September, 2022 / 11:41

      He’s a good boy.

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