Dreadnought Chapter 24

Elder caught himself before screaming out but instead whispered, “Stage a mutiny? What the hell? A legal mutiny?”

“Exactly, a legal mutiny. What is the responsibility of the First Fleet? To protect the Emperor right? The government as well, and the families of senior government officials but all of that is part of protecting the Emperor. So, we have a Class G Dreadnought heading back towards where the Emperor is, in secret, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Political assassination.”

Elder stared at Palmer, slack jawed. “And to protect the Emperor every ship in the Imperial Navy would come after us. No questions, no chance to surrender, just the presumption that we are all in on it and we’d get blasted with no survivors allowed.”

“Our only hope is to prevent the Captain from starting off. Once he starts off, we are guilty of treason and killed without trial. We have to do something, but what?”
“I’ll talk with the Lieutenant tonight, I’m not on duty and neither is he. He has relatives in Engineering and on the bridge. I have met them. I don’t know exactly what I’ll say but I will ask about the rumor he mentioned, he didn’t order me to keep quiet so my investigating it should be all right.”

“Was he sounding you out in some way?”

:No, he was just mentioning something. He did say that he did not have any information on if it was true or not. I think he was just talking. He does that a lot.:”

“Be careful, if this is something treasonous then your life is in danger once you start talking about it.”

“ut how else can we find out anything? Captain Mizutani has many people from Nihon on his staff and on the Bridge. Oh my God! That is it! The Kamikaze Myth!”

“What are you talking about?”

“Pre-Imperial history. The Federation abolished the Japanese Empire and  the reigning Emperor and many of the Japanese fled during the First Expansion. They founded Nihon as the new Japanese Empire. The planetary Duke is a direct descendant of the Japanese Emperor. The Japanese culture has a long history of using suicide as a military weapon. Early in Japanese history there was an invader who was defeated by some violent storms and later when faced with an invasion again thousands of Japanese flew airplanes into the invading force’s ships in order to defeat them.”

“What has that to do with this?”

“The Marine division on board was stationed on Nihon prior to being assigned to the BALKANS, Captain Mizutani has a lot of people from Nihon as senior staff. My guess is that je intends to fly the BALKANS or use its weapons in order to avenge the perceived insult against the Japanese Empire when the Federation abolished it.”

“That was centuries ago!”

“Yeah, so? On the other hand, maybe he intends to cause enough chaos so that Nihon can declare independence and reestablish the Japanese Empire. Both ways, we are all dead and he is a national hero.”

“How do you know all of this?”

:When Captain Mizutani visited me just before taking command of the BALKANS I investigated him and his culture. He was wearing a kimono, who wears such clothes anymore? Kimonos are common on Nihon and its colonies but nowhere else does anyone wear anything but common clothing or court fashion.”

“A lot of the crew is going to be confused. They will be loyal to the Captain just because he is the Captain. A lot will fight a mutiny just because it is a mutiny. We can’t do it; an outside force has to do it.”

“Who?”

“The ALPS or maybe the ANDES, probably both. Even then a lot of people are going to die.”

“Before you call them, or have Fourth Fleet call them, is there any way to confirm the rumor?”

“We have been accelerating towards Jump Speed for close to a week now. We do not have a lot of time before the BALKANS can do a Jump. Once we Jump, and we Jump somewhere other than where we are supposed to, we are all dead.”

“If that’s the case, we have no more than one day. We should hit Jump Speed early tomorrow afternoon. I think the time is 1305 or so – that is not enough time to do anything except act immediately. Fourth Fleet has to order the BALKANS to stand to and have the ALPS and the ANDES ready to act if Captain Mizutani does not stand down. You are the ranking officer here Sous-Lieutenant and you have the special communications ability. I am out on both counts. If Captain Mizutani is committing treason and he fails not only are we dead but our families might as well be dead also.”

Sous-Lieutenant Palmer leaned back and stared at Elder. “For a person still in his probationary period you can act with a lot of authority, authority you don’t have.”

“Maybe it’s my Academy training, but regardless of that, there is still the issue of possible treason by Captain Mizutani. We do not have the time to sit and debate, we have to act and you are the only one who has a chance to take effective action. SIR.”

“I’m not a line officer,” and here Palmer tapped his chest where the insignia for communications was, “I’m support. You are a line officer…”

“Not yet sir.”

“…and therefore you… Oh, yes, until you finish your probationary period you are still considered a cadet in the Academy. Damn. All right Elder, I do not know what I am doing, but the risk is too great. We either will be heroes or disgraced. At least you will be, given my talent the Navy will probably treat me easy if we are wrong. But, it has to be done, you’re right there.” Sous-Lieutenant Palmer’s eyes glazed over again and he began breathing deeply. Elder waited.

“Sous-Lieutenant Palmer report to the Bridge. Sous-Lieutenant Palmer report to the Bridge. Sous-Lieutenant Palmer, the Captain wants to speak with you immediately.”

Palmer’s eyes were still glazed over, he probably had not heard the summons. After another minute, “Attention all personnel, report the whereabouts of Sous-Lieutenant Palmer to the Bridge immediately.” Elder looked around, there was still no one other than Palmer and him in the wardroom. Should he take the risk? Almost five minutes had passed since Souse-Lieutenant Palmer had gone into his telepathic trance, Elder decided to wait for another minute since it was unlikely that they would be discovered that quickly. Palmer came out of his trance and glanced around trying to get his bearings.

“The Captain wants you right now Sous-Lieutenant Palmer. You were ordered to the Bridge and when you did not respond, the call went out for anyone who knew where you were to report your location to the Bridge. That last was about a minute ago.”

Palmer had recovered by then and said, “Thanks. Did you report me?”

“No sir, as far as I knew you were in communication with Fourth Fleet and couldn’t be disturbed.”

“Actually, I was in communication with not only Fourth Fleet but also with the other two ships in our Section – the ALPS and the ANDES. I notified them of our orders from Fourth Fleet. We must stand down and stay where we are pending a message torpedo from Fourth Fleet with specific instructions. The matter is cut and dried.” Moreover, Sous-Lieutenant Palmer quickly described the orders from Fourth Fleet to Elder.

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