This portfolio originally appeared in Jump Point 8.12.
In a comms call made early in March of 2862, Admiral Pavlina Marlin confessed to a friend that she felt frustrated with her posting. Assigned to oversee the naval shipyards positioned among the clouds of Stanton II (it wouldn’t become known as Crusader until 2865), she didn’t see it as the plum position others claimed it to be. The command was one others coveted, sporting some of the most extraordinary views in the UEE, but it felt too quiet and calm for the ambitious admiral who was certain that, despite the prestige of the position, her skills were being wasted.
Marlin made it clear through her entire career that her ultimate goal lay in leading the defense of the Vanduul front. It’s why she joined the navy. Her grandparents had fled the Vanduul conquest of Virgil in 2737 and told her harrowing stories of their escape and tragic demise of those less fortunate. In her office, she kept a framed photo of the former family home on Virgil, telling any who asked that it was “long since burned, bombed, and churned through a Vanduul Harvester to fuel their war against us.” Despite Admiral Marlin’s crystal-clear ambition, she always found herself commanding fleets assigned to rearguard or administrative duties. She constantly lamented her lack of combat command experience and believed this shortcoming truly kept her from the frontline. This trend continued in 2858 when she was reassigned to sleepy and safe Stanton. While High-Commander Irya Ruybal admired Admiral Marlin’s ambition, he hoped a few more years away from the frontlines would season her into a more patient and cautious commander.
Admiral Marlin knew the assignment was a test and sought to prove her potential. She improved the shipyard’s production output and convinced the tight-fisted budgetary committee to expand the network of platforms to increase manufacturing capabilities. To break the administrative monotony and hone her combat command experience, she frequently organized wargames to test her fleet’s readiness for anything, from outlaws blockading a space station to a Vanduul clan appearing insystem via an undiscovered jump point. Yet, after four years at the post, she saw herself no closer to her ultimate goal and wondered privately if she had done too good of a job for Naval Command to let her leave.
Amid this growing frustration in 2862, Admiral Marlin received a report that an illegal mining operation had sprung up on Daymar. The UEE had restricted most commercial and industrial development in Stanton since its discovery a decade earlier, a stance that confused and angered many at the time. The reasoning behind it only made sense when, in 2865, the UEE sold each planet to the highest bidder. Still, in the fourteen years between Stanton’s discovery and sale, independent miners often visited the system to extract a little ore and the navy mostly ignored them. People were still reeling from the economic downturn of the late 2850s and many still struggled to eke out a living. The navy had little interest in harassing hardworking civilians, as long as their mining runs were within reason.
Reports of this new Daymar operation went well beyond anything the Admiral had seen during her command. With a fleet of ships working together, they were stripping an incredible amount of ore in a very short period of time. Understanding that inaction would only encourage further incursions of such scale, Admiral Marlin sent a fleet of fighters and the UEES Flyssa, a Javelin-class destroyer, to Daymar to escort the offending ships to an impound lot and levy severe fines to dissuade similar operations. Admiral Marlin authorized the use of non-lethal force if they proved uncooperative and insisted that all ships involved in the operation be brought to justice. She was determined to drive home the point in emphatic fashion and give her crew some valuable in-field experience. She believed the proactive response would be a good test for her starmen and read well on her report to Naval High-Command. She never could have expected the terrible fate to come.
UEES Flyssa positioned itself above Daymar as the other navy ships entered atmosphere to find and escort the offending ships off-world. Admiral Marlin’s insistence that all involved be detained meant the navy sent no comms alerting the miners to their presence and intentions. The navy’s ships located the active mining site and approached it fast and hard, inspired by Admiral Marlin’s directive to announce their presence in a way that would “rattle their screws loose and shock them into immediate submission.” Instead, their sudden appearance scared the miners, who immediately ceased operations and fled in different directions. While most of the ships were quickly subdued via non-lethal ordnance, one managed to slip away and began to exit the atmosphere. UEES Flyssa tracked the fleeing ship and moved into position to neutralize it once free from Daymar’s gravity. Tragedy struck the moment it did. The mining ship, long overdue for much needed repairs, suffered a series of catastrophic component failures moments after it exited atmosphere. This triggered a chain reaction of explosions only intensified by a cargo hold filled to capacity with highly unstable ore. The concussive wave unleashed by the massive explosion hit the UEES Flyssa as it approached. Unable to adjust course or quickly reinforce its shield, ship debris and ore fragments peppered the UEES Flyssa, piercing the hull in dozens of places. Captain Chin Ormiston, believing the Javelin to be under attack, ordered a quick retreat only to realize too late that two of the ship’s thrusters had been damaged. The sudden directional change caused them to overload, followed rapidly by a series of system failures. Fires spread throughout the ship as the UEES Flyssa began to uncontrollably careen to the moon’s surface.
Already shedding parts due to the cascading onboard explosions, UEES Flyssa crashed upon a high ridge and came to rest with its bow dangling over a precarious ledge. All 65 crewmembers aboard died, making it one of the worst naval crashes of the 29th century. The subsequent naval investigation acknowledged the unlikelihood of the entire series of events, grading the chance of such a crash to happen again as infinitesimal, but still placed the blame squarely on Admiral Marlin. They deemed her order to send ships after the miners without first broadcasting their intentions to be the fatal decision. They highlighted comms where Admiral Marlin expressed frustration over her command and desire to distinguish herself as a motive for her ordering “overly intimidating and aggressive tactics not commensurate with the situation.” With this report, a once promising career was destroyed.
Admiral Marlin was finally transferred out of Stanton, but not to the Vanduul front. She would be pushed into administrative duty in Kilian until she was granted a general discharge in 2868. Her dream of commanding a frontline fleet would never come true. Today, few remember Admiral Marlin, or her role in the crash of UEES Flyssa, but the ship’s skeleton remains a landmark on Daymar. The navy decommissioned the ship of its ordnance and military computers with the intent to remove the wreck on a future date, but with the privatization of the moon, the plans never fully materialized. The site receives few visitors despite its historical significance and impressive views, as rumors abound that outlaws often inhabit it. A tragic fate for the ship, its crew, and the ambitious admiral who only wanted to prove herself.