History of FLEET
|This page contains information copied or paraphrased from the OCD FLEET site.|
The organisation known as FLEET - forming, as it does, the political wing of the patchwork military command made up of the various task forces and expeditionary fleets that assembled over Earth in the autumn following the butchery at Mohaborad - has it's origins in the worrying pattern of "accidents" and "navigational failures" many starship commanders claim brought them there. The fact that many of said commanders are clearly lying through their teeth worries everyone but the Admirals, who hold together their scratch-squadrons with the clear knowledge that whoever and whatever their civilian "leader" is, She beats the alternative down there.
What exactly attracted interstellar attention to this beleaguered Earth is something no two FLEET officers agree on, something the Board finds troubling. Some go with the accident view, others claim they were ordered here or arrived following something – a distress call, a fleeting sensor contact. A few mention encounters with mysterious, ghostly ships that dropped them off in-system after damage, accidental or in combat, to their engines. A familiar pattern was discerned when recovery vessels retrieved personnel identifying themselves as marines from, predictably, a human empire no other FLEET officer knew of, who claimed his unit was rescued from an exploding carrier vessel by such a ship - he clearly identified the short, dark woman with thick white glasses who'd opened his lifeboat, although fell silent when asked about other crew.
From the Board's point of view...following the loss of most of their fledgling military, their director, himself badly injured, told the Goddess the Board were not professional fighters by nature. Within a week, the first battlecruiser arrived - and they keep coming, with new arrivals occasionally emerging in-system with a strange tale to tell. Even stranger were the flotillas that arrived under their own power...and oddly enough, said forces (Admiral Loweko's and Admiral Jordanis's, respectively) are the largest and most driven. The more rational explanation as to what attracted them and their fellows was, ironically, the one the Board seized on because it made them feel better.
On the fateful night Mohaborad was destroyed, goes the more rational version of FLEET's history, with a single sweep of His hand, the Adversary had delegated the task of silencing the Board's mountain headquarters to Moloch, Captain of the Legions of the Damned, who had in turn smiled at the ingenuity of Mankind and produced a thoroughly human weapon for the purpose – the HARM. A volley of infernal missiles had smashed every broadcasting antennae minutes before the Damned were unleashed like a horrific burning tidal wave on the innocents below, ensuring the poor brave souls who'd volunteered to run escort for Dave and Margaret that night couldn't be recalled. What he hadn't counted upon, however, were the satellites.
Speculation had made use of satellites long before the Funky Horror, and some unnamed technician, for reasons sadly lost to history, had been reviewing material on the rapidly-deteriorating situation when the volley first hit. Boardies like to think whoever it was had spotted the trap and was attempting a warning, since that makes them feel better too. But whatever his reasons, the entire network was in the middle of wide-scale, complex analysis when, all of a sudden, Speculation went violently off-air. The simple little computer in the satellite directly overhead couldn't handle that. It crashed.
And it crashed hard, freezing into a loop that spewed the semi-corrupt contents of it's rudimentary RAM across the spectrum, ranging from half the UHF channels to faster-than-light gravcomms. In the moments before the little tin can's powerplant melted down, it was singing out signals in spectra even the Board hadn't taught it to. In the final few seconds, the unit's gravcomm was making distortions strong enough to be felt down the gravitational incline, in the realm others called "hyperspace".
Where it rammed straight into the bowshockwave of the DSN battlecruiser Insidious, and triggered the catastrophic misjump that gave birth to FLEET.
Commodore Robert Kilgore already had a reputation back home for pushing the limits of his equipment, and on this occasion he'd rammed his ship right up against the edge of survivable hyper, at dangerously fast speeds that left no time to react. When the grav wave hit his ship, it knocked the vessel end over end like a smack from the hand of God. It was an accident the ship had no right to survive, but survive it did, appearing in a blaze of FTL energies in the middle of the Solar System, sending out a ripple that, Bob's crew like to say, they must've heard in Hell.
The Netherworld's awareness of their arrival aside, the lost ship spent several days limping for the only inhabited world in the system to ask for directions, and discovered the battered remnants of the Urbalon low-orbit station's fighter squadron, all but wiped out in the Battle of Mohaborad barely a week previous, making a sortie to meet them. Rudimentary first contact with the Board followed, and the both organisations came to know each other as the DSN vessel attempted to repair it's drives...a task that failed utterly, as Earth had nothing remotely resembling the right equipment. Navigation proved impossible, and the Insidious grimly settled in for a long haul...which the Board welcomed with open arms.
Initially, the vengeance-seeking Boardies threw themselves into "Bob. Just Bob..."'s command style with aplomb, orchestrating a brutal trail of revenge killings on the locals and fifth-columnists who'd betrayed Mohaborad's existence. Once the wave of blood died down, though, the Commodore rapidly began to lose friends as cooler heads came to power in High Command. The backlash rapidly worsened until the situation became so tense fighting seemed imminent.
Then the Admiral arrived.
The moment that sticks in the Board's collective memory about FLEET was not the serendipitous arrival of the Commodore...oh no. The moment that laid the groundwork for their reputation (and, perhaps, sparked their legendary arrogance) was when they went from one ship to dozens.
The little lost satellite (but see below...)'s incoherent burst of static had taken months to reach another receiver. Barely a quarter of the data was even remotely readable by that point, but there was enough to recognisably be a signal, rather than mere background radiation, and that was apparently enough to attract attention from galactic passers-by. The first arrivals had loitered outsystem to set up a refuelling platform around Jupiter. In the process, they had hooked up with other stragglers and lost vessels and made common cause...the Board suspect their patroness might have been involved here, but FLEET tend to slap CLASSIFIED stickers on any records. Whatever their reasoning, the resulting armada's cautious advance towards Earth was quite spectacular. And "armada" was the word. Everything from colossal warships to fuel tankers and equipment transports seemed to find their way into the solar system over the next few months, but most importantly for the Board, they brought skilled engineers, inspired tacticians, urgently-needed supplies and technologies...and a couple of downright scary flag officers.
A master of Byzantine politics, Admiral Lowen's political cunning saw to the creation of FLEET as a Board lobby group along the same lines as the old Speculation cliques (when informed it was traditional for the name of such a group to be an acronym, he suggested the questioner imagine whatever he thought appropriate), and within a few months he'd acquired enough influence and favours to ensure the Board held relatively little political power within it. A quiet spin campaign also attracted many of the best and brightest of the new generation of Board recruitment into FLEET's ranks, alongside a steady trickle of periodic new arrivals.
And then came FLEET's baptism of fire, when Mental turned traitor and took most of the Acanceh base with him in an attempt to silence the Goddess. The Board's counterattack was swift, impressive...and firmly lead by FLEET units, which demonstrated just what they could do in a spectacular recovery operation. Success followed success as combined forces capitalised on their victory by rooting out troublesome cabals, terminating suspected dark sorcerers, and outright obliterating anywhere Hell was suspected of having a foothold in the corporeal realm. For a heady, glorious few months, the Darkness seemed to be being smashed at every turn and FLEET could do no wrong.
Then the Dragon showed up.
While the resulting power struggle between the Board and her spy ring was fairly mild, when the dust settled it had illuminated serious deficiencies in the Board's counterintelligence efforts. FLEET ordered an overhaul...and the new generation of Board political pundits wasted no time in nudging their sympathisers out of key posts. The resulting upheaval allowed the Board's ever-chaotic politicians to shine, regaining their former prominence and installing more liberal attitudes. The resulting internal friction was...spectacular, to say the least. Spectacular, and highly nerve-wracking. Co-operation plummeted, infighting peaked, and outright sabotage was not unheard of. Boardies accused FLEET of resorting to scare tactics and intimidation to silence their critics. FLEET responded by very publicly laying the foundations for an invasion of Earth. The Board immediately ordered a bilateral disarmament program. FLEET started running tactical drills right outside the Funky Horror. Boardies started arranging public humiliation of major FLEET officers. And so on, ad infinitum...
It ironically took the Green family's next powerplay to break this highly dangerous deadlock. Whether she knew of the infighting is unknown, but Hazel Green's polite offer to assist with the construction of Nemo Base provided a target to both sides of the argument that, handily, wasn't each other. The resulting wave of internal security sweeps was amusing, if one was a paranoid maniac, but crucially they allowed all involved to find other outlets for their anger over the dispute - the long-suffering FLEET Intelligence and Board Internal Security Bureau. Given the backlash, it was no surprise High Command okay'd the project over their objections. FLEET in turn responded by quietly funnelling more resources into their intelligence effort and tightening their security, creating their current clearance-obsessed public image in the process.
By now, the friction has cooled somewhat, becoming more of an internal rivalry as each organisation seeks to outdo the other. More and more areas of operation are becoming joint commands as FLEET engineers learn how to deal with Board weirdness, and vice versa. While many oldbies still eye them with alarm, their views are increasingly dismissed as extremist. FLEET's ranks continue to swell, alongside their resources as more and Boardies are trained in FLEET methods and tactics aboard FLEET assets.
In the meanwhile, the rising darkness continues to rise, with hotspots and occult activity growing steadily, stretching both forces thin and making the Admirals' visages grimmer and grimmer. If they ever did plan to invade, then now would most certainly be the time...and yet the button hasn't been pressed yet.
It remains to be seen how long their patience will hold.
The other version of the tale, the one repeated by breathless newbies at the back of lecture theatres...and nowhere else, because Boardies are careful to dismiss it as patently ludicrous...points out that the distances between stars are insanely huge, and that there was no way one satellite could broadcast a signal so far in so short a time, let alone have anywhere near the power needed to transmit it. And as for the tiny gravcomm being able to knock an immense battlecruiser off-course...!
There is an alternative thesis, that points out that backtracking the shockwave that had such a spectacular effect, and cross-referencing this with records of the time, co-incides neatly with an entry in the Archives. It is well-known that, that night, David Jones watched his life crumble before his eyes and begged for some form of intervention from above, screaming his tear-filled rage at the stars. Boardies say their patroness clearly took pity on him and gave him the strength to survive...but some ask if her intervention was perhaps rather more...dramatic? Wide-ranging? Did he finally inspire Her to go on the offensive? Such divine largesse would be in character...but indicates a few unnerving things about their patroness.
Unless, of course, he didn't need any help. It takes a lot of energy to boost a signal that far, but David has demonstrated the ability to wield spectacular amounts of energy in the past. Boardies tend to reject this, or say that it was just one outpouring of emotion in a night that may well have ramifications for humanity as a whole. Because that version, even for Boardies, does not make sense.
Curiously, knowing as they do the gravitic tolerances of advanced drives, and perhaps allowing a mild romantic streak to flash a fin, FLEET have no problem with this interpretation at all.