He checked his Spacebook page again. Nothing. Checked his Sparkle account. Nothing there, either. Oh, there were a few Sparks from Falcoholics, the rabidly fanatic cadre of followers of the Millenium Falcon's exploits, but nothing juicy, nothing...newsworthy. Delando Rumbutter, the lead reporter of the Galactic Journal/Planet, specialized in reports on the huge Starfleet ship, which had just returned from a thrashing by the Delphinidae in the Cetacean sector. Oh, without a doubt, the MF was short-handed. They had suffered some grievous losses against the Etoufee in the Creole system, and then against the Ovis, protecting their home system. But the Cetacean forces weren't supposed to be all that dangerous. Yet things hadn't gone well against the Delphins.
Admiral Smith of the MF had done the obligatory interview with the press after returning from the Cetacean debacle, and Rumbutter was convinced he'd asked the tough questions. He'd recorded the interview on his pocket communicator, even though he could link directly to a recording of the presser from the Spacenet. But he'd pressed the start/stop buttons on the communicator recording, so he could save just his questions, and the Admiral's responses. He reviewed the recording for the 4th time.
Rumbutter: "Admiral, can you tell us what happened in that final effort by the Delphins, where they were so successful in third attempts to get past your forces?"
Smith: "Well, it was a challenge situation, and we didn't have tight enough coverage. We need to learn from that, and have tighter coverage in challenge situations."
Rumbutter: "Admiral, what happened when your forces were in their red space, and didn't score decisive hits?"
Smith: "Well, clearly we need to improve our success rate in their red space. We only scored decisive hits on two of our five penetrations of their red space. They scored decisive hits on two of two times they penetrated ours. We need to improve our situational effectiveness."
Rumbutter: "What happened with Lieutenant Douglas, when it looked like he waved your forces off and then took heavy hits, ending that offensive probe before it even started?"
Smith: "That's not the way that probe was supposed to happen. He broke the rules, there are details in our rules and the details were not followed."
Rumbutter: Can you tell us about the missed opportunities to seize their forces, particularly with Lieutenant Decoud taking poor angles and..."
Smith (interrupting): "We were not as effective wrapping up their forces as a group, not just individually. We need to be more effective when they get to our last line of defense."
Delando clicked off the communicator and tossed it on his desk in disgust. Nothing there. He'd thought he might have something when the unidentified MF crewmember called out Ryan's guard force, but that went nowhere. Even when he'd sent that Spark that Roddy was the likely culprit, it didn't create the opportunity he craved. "I need a scoop," he said aloud. He'd never make editor at this rate. With a sigh, he bent over his communicator and started sending Sparks designed to steer Sparkle readers to the Galactic's "pay for premium content" site.
It was late, and the wardroom of the Millenium Falcon would have been empty, if it wasn't for the small group of MF officers meeting quietly, and in private. They were going to be attacked in their home system in less than a week by the Shawmuts of the Neponset system, and they knew it. The Shawmuts had a recent history of excellence in battle, let by their durable Commander-in Chief, Bellicose. Captain Ryan opened the discussion. "Roddy, how's your ankle?"
Lieutenant White shifted in the wardroom seat. "It's fully reconnected, looks like new on the outside. Just have some nerves and ligaments that haven't completed regeneration." He looked directly at Captain Ryan. "I'll be ready."
"Good," said Ryan crisply. "Quizz, nothing personal, but we've gotta do something different in the Red Space. If we get down there close, and the Admiral calls your DNS server number, we're gonna pretend it was a technical malfunction. You stay back with the guard, and we're sending Roddy and Jonesy in position to score the hit."
Second Lieutenant Rodgers looked at him wide-eyed. "Are we gonna get court-marshaled for this?"
"If we only do it once or twice, I think it'll work. We just have to agree on our story and make it count. But we can't keep doing the same things, expecting different results. Agreed?"
Rodgers nodded slowly. "Yeah, I'll do it. We're gonna get killed if we don't."
"Good," said Ryan. "Levine? Can you circle around deep to get in position in case Roddy and Jonesy don't have a good shot?"
The big man stirred in the corner, dwarfing the chair that strained under him. "Sure," said Ensign Toilolo, "but you know I'm only gonna get one chance. Vice Admiral Koetter will ground me for sure."
"Okay," said Captain Ryan. "I'll try to make it worth your while. Maybe we can ruin Bellicose's day."
They all smiled at that. None were sure they'd ever seen Bellicose having a good day.
"Maybe it'll be fun," said Ryan.
"Beats losing." Roddy laughed. The others laughed with him.