Cazov - Interlude 1

Stories by Zume

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Cazov - Interlude 1

Postby Zume on Sat 02 Mar 2013 13:07

Dictate Mondo, leader of the Cazov, was humming as his second in command, Dictatum Smelnus, entered the office. The air hinted of lubricating oil, welding, and sweat. As for the cause it was Mondo’s latest project. Standing atop a plastic sheet over the carpeting was a robot. At least that was the intention, for if one didn’t know better it would appear to be a piece of art. “Good morning, Dictate. I have the monthly survey force findings for you.”

“In a moment, Smelnus.” Wiping the sweat from his brow with his left hand Mondo pointed with the linoleum knife fingered right hand at his creation. “I just completed my robot.”

“An actual robot, Dictate? I thought it was going to be an animatronic display at the adventure park.” Smelnus made a closer inspection of the assembly of parts. “So this is where the missing supplies for the palace renovation have gone to. I see PVC piping, electrical cords, wood paneling, and several motors from kitchen appliances.”

“Yes, Smelnus. A fine piece of work I must say. Just be mindful. I had to use my spare linoleum knives as robot feet until I can make proper ones.”

“I suppose you gave it a name?” Smelnus inspected the construction of the three legs and three arms more closely, intrigued by the mix of bolts, electrical tape and chewing gum that held the various parts together.

Mondo smiled as he placed his left hand on his creation. “Of course I did. It’s called RMNX3742, Stupid 2 for short. It can do anything a man can do, but better.”

All four of Smelnus’ equally-spaced eyes raised their brows. “Really? It can do anything a man can do, but different?”

“Different?” Mondo questioned.

“Different? Did I say different? I meant better.”

“As well you should, Smelnus, for I have plans for Stupid 2, the least of which is to demonstrate it to the visiting schoolchildren. They’ll be here shortly. Give me a summary of the report.”

“Certainly, Dictate. Our first survey squadron has found a habitable world three transit out from the Signpost system. As for the second squadron it found a hostile environment world two transits out from Signpost. While the world is mineral poor the two wide orbit asteroid belts are very rich in mineral content. For the third squadron it found a starless nexus four transits out from Signpost. No other open warp points were found, but it’s possible that a closed one exists.”

“How so?” asked Mondo as he applied some oil to the robot’s joints and gears.

“They found entirely by happenstance a derelict ship three light-hours from their entry point. It had a reactionless drive at the stern, but the ship appeared to be a conglomeration of industrial buildings two kilometers in length. It also appeared to have been in a battle, and through one of the breeches in the hull a boarding team was sent in.”

Mondo checked the mobility of the robot’s third (back) arm. It squeaked, so it got another dose of oil. “Sound terribly interesting. Lead on, Smelnus.”

“Well, the team found robotic constructs throughout the ship, powerless for apparently many years. They also found in nodal positions several boxes that contained organic matter. After testing it was found the organic matter was non-toxic, so the lead scientist took a taste, confirming his theory.”

“What theory was that?”

“That the boxes formed a dispersed food source for an organic portion of the crew, perhaps even for the robots. The latter seems more likely as nothing resembling a mess hall or food preparation centers had been found.”

“Intriguing. What did it taste like?”

“As the scientist described, it tasted like lizard. There were also a smaller number of other boxes containing different organic material. After testing, the content of one of the boxes was consumed. It had the taste of kitty cat.”

“Alien kitty cat? That sounds worthy of my gullet. I hope they remembered to send some of that to me.”

Smelnus smiled. “A pinnace carrying the boxes will arrive in two weeks, Dictate.”

“Excellent! Now I’ll have something special for my birthday! How about that ship? We’ll send a mobile yard to pry whatever technology secrets it may hold.”

Smelnus raised an interjecting hand. “About that, Dictate. Through a series of misadventures and an abundance of good intentions survey squadron engineers attempted to power-up the ship. It was through a combination of duct tape, a safety pin, and a roll of toilet paper that caused the ship to explode in a most spectacular fashion, incurring 40 deaths in the process.”

“Well, Smelnus, it goes to show that treasure and tragedy go hand-in-hand. Ah, the children are here!”

Directed by a secretary a gaggle of school children entered the office and immediately congregated around the robot. “Welcome, little ones,” Mondo proclaimed. “What you see is the prototype of what will be an educational aid for schools later this year.

“Really? So it’s not a toy?” said one of the children incredulous.

“It looks like it’ll fall part,” commented another.

“Nonsense, future productive citizens. Stupid 2 will demonstrate exercise routines and conduct safety classes. Now, switch on!” Mondo pressed the recessed button on Stupid 2’s back and brought the amalgamation of parts to life. The robot made whirling and clicking noises as it tested gears and springs. “Stupid 2, show them some exercises.”

“I obey,” the robot replied in a totally expected mechanical voice. It kicked forward with its left leg and sent one of the linoleum knives that formed its feet flying, hitting the wall with enough force that it became embedded halfway.

The children screamed and ran out of the room. For Stupid 2 it took that as a sign that the children wanted to learn how to conduct the 100 meter dash properly. So it followed, linoleum-knife feet cutting into the floor with each step. Mondo followed too, trying to salvage the situation. “Come back! Stupid 2 is the friend of all children!”


/Excerpt from Cazov Destroyer Captain, by Fumenous Harna/

Like all good things my stay on Cazov has come to an end. My Flintlock had just been released from the yards, fresh from being refitted with new equipment. While improved shields and point defense are appreciated it's the addition of gunboats that held my interest. Now destroyer flotillas could field 36 gunboats, enhancing firepower for fleet warp point assaults, defense, and independent patrols.

For the first month the flotilla that the Flintlock was part of conducted exercises in the Cazov and Signpost systems. While I started with high expectations by the end of the month I knew that much more work was needed. For starters it's apparent that training for gunboat crews has much to be desired. Talking with other captains in the flotilla, it seems like the prime candidates for pilots were truck drivers, forklift operators, and baggage handlers. Formation flying was an exercise in frustration. In simulated attack runs it was a wonder that the ships weren't rammed. Maneuvers looked more like something derived from action videos than from practical sources. When it came to defending the flotilla from a simulated fighter strike the gunboat pilots acted as lone silver wolfs. Had it been real it would've been a total loss. In short these pilots were a few lead licks short of a clean stick.

With all the knowledge to draw upon from Gander usage of the gunboat it's inexcusable for the performances I witnessed. Perhaps it’s pride on our part that preventing us from recognizing answers that come from other sources. We’re going to have to make mistakes and suffer casualties before we adopt lessons that were so obvious. A universal truth for all militaries, I believe.

While the gunboat pilots had their own host of headaches my crew had to adjust to the addition of the gunboat crews and service personnel aboard ship. 66 in all, ranging from ordnance handlers, technicians, to shipsuit tailors. A separate quarters area was part of the refit, all of which reserved for the GB personnel and support personnel. Included was a full-sized gym, rec hall, dining and sauna areas. This had caused some grumbling among my crew, especially since the GB crews have no other shipboard responsibilities. Teaching GB crews other duties would be counterproductive as the nature of their job was that of expendable assets. However, their support personnel is another story altogether. At the end of the exercises every captain and the flotilla commander himself recommended that the GB support personnel become part of a ship’s crew instead of being a separate entity. Combined with the recommendations of the other flotillas it’s hoped that the higher-ups would approve of the change.

After an all-too-brief return to Cazov my Flintlock and the flotilla were sent out to the frontier, six transits out. Waiting for us there was three carrier groups and six other destroyer flotillas. An outpost had already been set on the system’s fourth planet, a rockball with above average mineral resources. Our assignment was to keep watch while the planet was further developed and to provide a rapid-reaction force in case the survey group, investigating the system’s two other warp points, finds a threat. Unlike my experience I found out during exercises here that the gunboats were handled with great effectiveness. I chalk this up to the fact that both fighters and GBs were coordinated by the carrier’s flight operations officer (FOO). This made me to think that all non-carriers equipped with GBs should have a dedicated FOO as well. If not that, then perhaps having it made the responsibility of the assistant tactical officer. Definitely something to look into.

During the deployment the outpost received an influx of new settlers, and along with them came prefabricated components of a space station. A sensible addition, allowing for the manufacture of expendable munitions and replacement fighters and GBs without having to depend on supply runs from the homeworld. Then more warships arrived along with prefabricated base components. Something was up, and the higher-ups saw fit not to say the reason why. Everyone guessed that the survey squadron found something. Until the Dictate sees fit to inform us then we’ll have to stand and wait. I hope it won’t be an overly long wait.

Cazov Atomic Space Authority Tornado Gunboat
Artwork by Adam Kop

Cazov Atomic Space Authority Gunship Class Destroyer
Artwork by Adam Kop
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