Generation Upon Generation, Chapter 10

“Captain Quinn, you wish to speak with me?”

“That is affirmative. there is much to discuss between us, starting with my earlier conduct during the voyage to your ship Lieutenant Commander Elder.”

“Most of the time I get called Captain, Captain. However, with you and Captain Mozart aboard, that could cause confusion. Come to my day cabin and we can talk in private.”

Once in Elder’s Day Cabin, with the flat picture of Constance prominently in place, Elder motioned to the dispenser and said, “Grab what you want. This is a wardroom, so we can be ourselves and not go the formal route, although as I remember, you have always gone formal even when not required.”

Standing at the dispenser, :That is affirmative. My upbringing and the directions I chose upon entering the Navy has engrained such with me so that becoming relaxed to the point of ease in the presence of others is challenging. Even with my wife and children.”

“Ah yes. I am sorry I missed your wedding, my assignment to the BALKANS prevented it. Maybe you heard about it.”

Taking a glass of red wine and a bowl of ice cream to a seat, Quinn actually chuckled. “Yes, the rebellion of a senior Captain and the destruction of a Class-G Dreadnought did become extensively known. As was your participation in the incident. There is a new class of Dreadnoughts in the prototype stages and these may be named after mountain ranges, so the BALKANS may fly again.” Quinn did not mention that the two of them had discussed the incident while instructors at the Academy, he knew Elder was proud of what he had done during the incident.

Getting his salami and mayonnaise on marbled rye sandwich and a beer, Elder snorted. “I doubt that, too much confusion over what name belongs to what class. My understanding is that the Navy will name the new Dreadnoughts with a different class name, what it will be I can’t guess and wait for a while until they start naming anything after mountain ranges again.”

Nodding his head in that cocked manner of his, that triggered a memory of their times together in the JACOTOT and the Academy, Quinn eased back into the chair and said, :You may have deduced this correctly, neither of us is elevated enough in the chain of command so that such knowledge would be available to us on a routine basis.”

“Oh come on Quinn. You have an intelligence network just like every other senior officer. So many of your family is in the Navy that you have a built-in network. But, I am willing to bet that you have an extensive network outside your family since family is too obvious.”

“And why would I have such a network?”

“During my probationary period, after one of the terrorist incidents that resulted in a formal hearing, my lawyer said that all officers create such a network because this gives them more information for the inevitable political warfare amongst ambitious officers. I have an extensive network among the various bases and ships where I served as well as bases and ships where my contacts were reassigned to. I just do not have the siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles and so forth that you have. Isn’t the present Grand Admiral a relative of yours?”

“By marriage, he is the brother-in-law of my mother’s aunt.”

“See? If you asked him nicely, you could get some nice data on such things like what a new class of Dreadnought would be named.”

:It was from him that I ascertained that the new class is in the prototype stage. It would be the G000143 series.”

“And why would the G000143 series be more likely to get built that he previous designs that were to replace the G000134 series?”

“This project has actually reached the prototype construction stage. Or rather, prototype construction has commenced but is still in the earliest phases. It commenced late last year.”

“Well, since we have yet to meet aliens and the fighting we do amongst ourselves rarely reaches the level of Dreadnought-to-Dreadnought combat, what improvements the new class has are theoretical rather than practical.”

“Dreadnoughts have devastated rebellious duchies in the past and you have experience with Dreadnought-to-Dreadnought fighting. There is little experience to provide guidance but there is enough to justify the new class.”

Nodding to himself, and saying, almost to himself, “The BALKANS, my first ship out of the Academy. Destroyed by her two sister-ships in the Section. If there had not been a telepath aboard, I doubt any of us would have been rescued. The Empire needs telepaths or some form of long-range faster-than-light communications or else sheer size is going to destroy it.”

“It is unfortunate that telepaths are still extremely scarce in the Empire. Presently the FTL communication are too shot-ranged. Useful for in-system communications but impractical otherwise.”

“Yeah, but the downside of interstellar communications is bureaucracy. I still remember what Sous-Lieutenant Palmer, the first telepath I ever knew, said. Increased communications increases control. As it stands now, the Empire cannot control, in detail, what happens in any kingdom or duchy except within maybe two Jumps. Local control still exists. Midshipman Mitchell, later King Mitchell, used to talk about how all politics is local. Moreover, he was right, who cares about Imperial politics? At best, most people focus on their county and rarely anything higher.”

“I concern myself about Imperial politics and so does the larger portion of my family.”

“Yeah Quinn, but you are you and your family is your family. Your family is the oddball. Among those who do not have a professional reason to do so, how many care? I care because I do not like the idea of interstellar war destroying planets wholesale. The human race could get wiped out.”

“Yet it is a truth that the Empire has destroyed how many duchies? Moreover, the Federation and the soon-to-be Imperial Fleet destroyed how many during the War of Unification? How many mutinies, revolts, and other assorted war-like actions taken against the Empire that result in military action? You fear interstellar war but mayhap we have been in an interstellar war since the founding of the Empire.”

“I know of seven duchies destroyed for successful rebellion. Mutinies? I have no idea of the total, just the three serious ones that happened around me. Terrorist actions? Too many to count. Nevertheless, society continues and prospers. And my family will live for better times.” Elder rubbed his oversized nose and frowned at the death toll implied in what he had just said.

“Of the eleven of us who were on the JACOTOT together, how many are still alive? The Imperial Navy and Imperial Marines take what percentage of the youth of the Empire each year, and how many die each year?”

“I don’t know the answer and neither do you, unless you have inside information from your family connections Quinn.”

“I have such information, but only in general terms. The numbers are enormous although, relative to the entire population, insignificant. Would interstellar war be worse? I have no data upon which to make a comparison; however, in answer my own question, of the eleven of us aboard the JACOTOT, four are dead. So far, to my mind, the benefits of the Empire outweigh the drawbacks.”

“Four dead? I know of only three: Irving, Father Lester, and Ostrom. Who is the other one?”

“Lieutenant Commander Corbett perished three Imperial months ago. She was investigating a potential pirate operation and became a casualty in a sting operation by the ISA.”

“Damn it. All right, I know I am prejudiced against the ISA because of my experiences with them but does the Emperor pay any attention wo what the ISA does?”

“Emperor Caroline, according to what my family knows about her, does pay a great deal of attention to the Imperial Services Agency. She knows that they are fanatics for the Empire and as such can go to unwarranted extremes.”

“Well, that one who tried to frame me back at the Academy was not acting as an Imperial fanatic but a woman in love. The other three bad experiences were with fanatics who would have killed me just on the off chance that it would advance their investigation. And for all that they do, rebellions and terrorism still flourish.”

“However, we can never discern to what extent the condition of the Empire would be worse without the efforts of the ISA.”

“No Quinn, we cannot, I agree. Nevertheless, given my experiences with the ISA, I do not like their methods. Both Naval Police and Naval Intelligence are effective without using the techniques of the ISA.”

“That is true. However, discussing the ISA and the number of people killed each year does not solve the enigma with the colony ship and the various colonists aboard. I read the data acquired by your people and, like you, I question the intransigence of the Federation colonists. Is there any data not in your reports that might shed some clarity on this?”

“No, none. Unless my people learned something in the last two hours or so. Staying aboard that ship is a dead end. System losses will doom them, even if they can keep the equipment running. They will need outside input of food and other material to balance out the losses from waste. Nothing can be one hundred percent recycled. They can only have survived this long, regardless of how they got here – one Jump or several – because, as a generation ship, they had more supplies than could easily be used up.”

“Very well. What we have established is that a group of communists fleeing during the late UN or early Federation period, made contact with a Federation colony and for some reason the two joined and continued fleeing but now with Jump Drive. There are no records of the communist colony ship and we can expect none given that so many records of that era were destroyed during the Colonial Revolt and the War of Unification. In addition, we do not know the name of the Federation colony since there were so many colonies destroyed during the Colonial Revolt and the War of Unification. Even the knowledge that the colony had the capability to build space ships, thus the installation of the Jump Drive, does not help with the identification. The descendants of the communists surrendered easily but the descendants of the Federation colonists fought hard against capture and are resisting all efforts to integrate with the Empire. Is that summation essentially correct?”

“Yes Quinn, so the questions are: 1) Why did the two groups join, 2) Why did they start fighting so late, 3) Why are the former Federation colonists determined to not get rescued? And, as part of number two, now that I think of it, is why has the fighting been so nonviolent? According to the records, which I admit are spotty on deaths, very few on either side have ever died in combat. The Federation descendants have weapons that would allow them to crush the Soviets if they wanted to, but they do not. And, there seems to be a lot of co-operation between them in terms of mates, food exchanges, energy delivery and so forth. Sorry Quinn, I just thought of these. I’ll have to get my people working on those questions if they aren’t already.”

“It is to be expected that further questions would arise upon contemplation of the issue. You have raised questions that pose serious problems and I question if the answers will be readily available. What is the remaining time on your scheduled survey?”

“Four Imperial months, two more systems scheduled. That has obviously gone to the mules.”

“Very well, I would suggest that you concentrate on this system until you have been relieved or you can no longer support continuing here.”

“I already decided that. If I leave the colonists here, they could fire up the engines, go elsewhere, and stay hidden for who knows how long. I would be the first Captain in Second Fleet to lose a Lost Colony once found. I would be a laughingstock. I’s never get promoted and I am due for Commander in four months when I return to base.”

“You could retain necessary personnel aboard your ship so that they cannot conduct operations aboard theirs. That would keep them at their present location.”

“Sure, that might work if I knew exactly who was necessary but I don’t. I know some of them, but the skills may be scattered further than I presently know.”

“I realize that possibility, however, you have not considered that during your travel from the outer system to this locale, these colonists had the ability to start their engines and escape before you arrived at this location.”

“No, they didn’t have that chance. Remember, we knew they were here long before they knew we were here. If they had tried to flee, we would have seen them and followed them. And, we have better acceleration and better sensors. The onkly way that they could lose us is if they get up to Jump Speed and just as they Jump, twist their helm so that they are on a random course. However, that works only if they hit upon the proper course and speed for a nearby system. There are not that many within four parsecs and we would have a clear idea of where they went. With our training, we would recover from Jump disorientation before they would. We would be on top of them and boarding before they could recover and try again.”

“It has been an excessive length of time, apparently, since I had to consider chasing another vessel. I have not dealt with pirates in  any large amount so the necessity has not come into my consideration with any strength. You are correct, especially since the technology of the colonist’s ship is pre-Imperial, two hundred years out of date or thereabouts.”

“Yeah, I have sent a message torpedo to Section request that they reassign the systems my orders were to investigate to other ships. It may have to go to Squadron before there are any free ships but the request has gone forward. I cannot figure out these colonists and I do not want to leave until I have. There is something strange here, a lot of strange things and I don’t want to wonder for the rest of my life what the answers are.”

“Once the answers are determined, you will be able to obtain that information with a simple investigation.”

“Yeah, and I am good at finding things out. However, even I would have trouble finding out the answers if, as I suspect, the answers are classified to one of the higher classifications. You would have a better chance asking one of your relatives . I do not have the family connections; all of my relatives in the Navy are younger and of lower ranks than I am. Many of my younger cousins of various removes made it to the Academy in the last few years. However, I digress. I am here and until I get orders to leave, I am going to study this puzzle, and with some luck, solve it.”

“Very well. Since my mission was to make diplomatic contact with aliens and there are none here, I will return to Second Fleet Headquarters. Have you any messages I can deliver to your family?”

“Constance and the younger children are visiting Krasgia and should be there until I return to base. The four older children are away in the Navy. I seem to have started a family tradition in staying in for a career. The Elder family may be just as important to the Navy as the Quinn family in a hundred years or so. Or maybe it is just my children and the tradition won’t continue.”

“Are any at the Academy? I will there to lecture a seminar on a specific mission I performed and its consequences to the Empire. The mission being my attack on a pirate base without anything other than a Class-I Cruiser and a few Class-M Light Scouts. Moreover, given that I was successful, how I was able to succeed at the task. It was that mission that earned me the promotion to Captain.”

“You remember Meldrick, don’t you? The one that was always the schoolyard leader? He graduates in about six months. Going to be a Marine from his last message. Lieutenant Major Hartz has expressed an interest in having Meldrick assigned to his unit.”

From there the conversation drifted into personal reminisces and swapping of stories about family and mutual friends for another two hours. Finally, Quinn had to leave and get his business done. As he left, he apologized to Elder for his rude behavior when he had first arrived. Elder had wondered when that would happen, he knew Quinn to be too honorable to not apologize and Elder was shocked at how many words, and long words at that, that Quinn used in his apology. Elder accepted the apology, needing only an “Of course I accept your apology. I understand what you were going through. There is nothing hard between us.”

Once Quinn and his people were on their way back to the HINDO and the diplomatic team were arriving on the MACALPIN in preparation for their work on the colony ship, Elder checked in with his people who were trying hard to understand why the descendants of the Federation colonists were resisting so hard the efforts to make them Imperial subjects. He did check in with the history section and asked about the names of known generation ships and learned that there was no pattern to the naming of the ship; it was just what the Captain or sponsor decided. Given that, Elder decided to keep the name VOLGA since that was probably the original name.

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