“…And as such, the technical data contained in the disassembled warship has advanced our knowledge of subspace currents significantly. The increased familiarity with physics (inasmuch as they apply to alternate dimensions) and improved jump calculation programs in development show promise in coaxing additional speed and acceleration from the hyperdrives. Eventually we will have to replace the actual machinery: however, until we reach that limit improved programming will be sufficient.
Leontios’s report to the princeps was unfortunate, but not entirely unexpected. The field of hyperdrive refinement was brand-new and entirely unsupported by the current budget. It would be some time before funds and research stations could be allocated towards finishing turning raw operational data and theorems into a runtime which is operable on ships equipped with the Terran Exodus subsystem.
Constantine rubbed his temples and sighed. The head researcher was assaulted shortly after forwarding a report on weapons. Thankfully, security personnel had interrupted the situation before Leontios could be murdered. However the assassin escaped into a sublight parasite cruiser and drifted into the Dark Vortex. Any knowledge about the attack’s motivation was torn apart along with the perpetrator.
Though in critical condition, he was expected to survive. Without his guiding hand for test trials, equipment was damaged and critical information lost on the project to deploy scanning arrays across the breadth of the Empire.
The princeps had his own suspicions where the attempted murder was concerned. John had put forward the hypothesis that a rival researcher had snapped under the pressure his boss had placed upon him to produce a working warhead. Publically, Constantine embraced that explanation whole-heartedly. He had even held two separate masses on the subject of mental illness and the application of sin thereof. But behind closed doors only Guderian and John knew where his true suspicions lie.
“I’m telling you John, Manuel is becoming more aggressive. In the past month alone our agents,” Constantine nodded towards Guderian, who also managed the intelligence network, “have seen a dramatic rise in recruitment for saboteurs. That combined with the Admiral’s previous intention of expanding the fleet regardless of circumstance tells me that he’s ready to escalate further. Assassinating – or rather attempting to assassinate – a vital researcher is a major step towards civil war.”
John sipped from a glass of water. “That may be, but I feel as though Manuel is becoming peripherally aware of how the fleet isn’t turning out to be completely in his corner. I’ve got reports from several captains, including,” the twinkling in his eyes only amplified the effect of his wry smile, “the Komnenos family as a whole. That not only puts Task Force 1 in our corner but gives us the capacity to drop the Emperor’s Own on any potential usurper.
“However, the crew aboard Heresies is split almost completely evenly, with perhaps a slight advantage to Manuel. It goes without saying that the flagship is strong enough to destroy any ship or installation short of Nexus itself, and even that would be a close-run thing. As such I am putting forth an emergency directive through to Licinius; he should be able to provide a construction crew to us that can keep their mouths shut. I want a dozen of the new missile magazines installed at the earliest possible moment. That should ensure Terra will be immune to threat.”
Writing furiously, John asked the princeps, “Majesty, do you want the weapons installed on Nexus base? If we do so there will be very little chance of hiding what we’re doing from spies Manuel has aboard, and even sheer gossip from the crew members ought to let him know something is up. If I may make a suggestion,” he indicated Terra’s sole orbiting natural satellite, “the moon would provide us a much better, controlled environment with all the advantages it entails. Once the construction crews have had experience handling the missiles, we can install additional tubes in Nexus much more smoothly.”
Constantine nodded. “A very good point. Make it so. What else is on the agenda?”
Tannenbaum cleared his throat. “Your son sends his regards, Majesty. He has also passed along a message that research and production facilities orbiting Nurval 4 have reached completion. Additionally,” he permitted himself a wry smile, “Ardent Wayfarer has run into some unexpected trouble with a pirate ship. They had the audacity to think that an ‘unarmed’ exploration ship would be easy pickings. There were no survivors.
“However, Captain Komnenos reports that they have recovered a set of coordinates from the wreckage which indicate some sort of Special Projects Zone; coincidentally the area has long been marked a hazard on our charts. As we speak the ship and her crew are en-route and investigating.