Inquiry Into the Capture and Subsequent Escape and Return of Commander Taggart

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Compiled from Debriefings, Psychological Reports & Staff Intelligence, Confederation Navy 2641.350

PERSONAL HISTORY

Taggart was born on Mimas Colony in 2605, genetic parents James and Bethlyn Taggart. The Taggarts perished in the initial Mimist terrorist attack of 2613. He was legally adopted by his guardian, Mikal Taggart, and his wife, Anhel Taggart, in 2614.

Due to the success of the 2624 Mimite terrorist attack―which, although famous for shutting down the colony's primary systems, also successfully deleted most of the official colonial records―there are no official records predating 2624. However, all Taggart's records post-dating that period are in order.

He attended the University of Cairo for four years, earning his level-one degree in Physical Science in 2627, graduating 23rd out of 1055.

He was admitted into Space Force OCS in 2627. Graduated with honors, subsequently attended Flight School and Counterintelligence School.

OCS RECORD
GPA 4.33 Rank in Class 3 (of 221)
Flight School Academic Record
GPA 4.31 Rank in Class 20 (of 302)
Flight School Flight Record
Flight 91.0 Rank in Class 24 (of 302)
Marksmanship 89 Rank in Class 22 (of 302)
Safety 100

(0 accidents, 0 ships lost)

Rank in Class 1 (of 302)
Navigation 89 Rank in Class 28 (of 302)


MILITARY RECORD

First assignment to Patrol Carrier Horus, 2629.

Promoted to captain and transferred to Intelligence Services upon outbreak of Pilgrim hostilities. Attached to CIS for the duration of the war, record classified. Returned to flight duty 2635, with rank of Lt. Commander.

After the war, requested transfer to Exploratory Services. Promoted to Commander simultaneously with assignment to Iason, 2637.

Taggart is considered to be an honest, dependable officer, and an extremely competent pilot. He has never amassed many close friends, being somewhat insular in habit, but is well respected by his wingmen and fellow officers.

Taggart was apparently involved with a woman named Danielle Kura in 2627. She died of medical complications resulting from exposure to the TBM33 virus shortly before his graduation from the University of Cairo.

Taggart was listed as missing, presumed dead after the Iason first contact incident. He reappeared in 2641, at Tartarus Port, and reported back to duty from a public communications booth located in the Commercial Customs section of the station.

After debriefing, he was awarded accrued pay and leave. Other than certain vitamin deficiencies and some minor parasitic infections, he was in good health. He is currently on three month's R&R leave, after which the doctors have certified him psychologically and physically ready to return to duty.

FROM FIRST CONTACT TO THE DESTRUCTION OF THE IASON

[Excerpted from 2641 debriefing]

At 0450 hours, I was on free-time. I was in the flight sim, practicing reverse thrust turning maneuvers, and possibly Shelton slides ... I can't remember for certain. But I was simming when the first alarm went off. I remember I thought it was a part of the sim ship's systems, and couldn't figure which warning it was.

Then I notice that the deck lights were on Full Bright, and got out and started to run to station. It was a good battle-stations alert; everyone was in control, knew what to do. It was like a precision drill, only we knew it wasn't a drill. I don't know what we thought it was, maybe hold-out Pilgrim activity... .

My station was on the flight deck, of course. The three other pilots got there within a minute or two of me. The flight sim is just around the corner, so I was there in seconds. It was Hurry Up and Wait for a while.

There were only four pilots, and two Ferrets. We spent most of our time in the shuttles, ferrying the scientists around. The Ferrets had stripped-down armament and hyped-up sensors ... really flying cameras more than anything else. Solar patrols are fully loaded with escort fighters, but not the explorers
... of course, they had no way of knowing we'd meet anything alive out there that wasn't single celled and growing on a rock.

... the captain was good about keeping us informed about events. Every fifteen minutes we'd get an info-byte about what was happening. After about an hour, Farrah Izmuti and I were ordered out. If the Ferrets had been sent out when it first happened, I'd have still been off-duty, but I went on the clock at 0700, and we went out at 0715. We were laughing at the guys who had just clocked out... .

Aria―that was Captain Izmuti's callsign, Aria―was ordered to make flybys of the aliens, and I was sent out to scan the area. I was flash beaming the info back to the Iason, starting off with the ships themselves, and then turning the scan outwards. I was looking for anything unusual, but specifically anything that resembled another alien ship.

... the scans were unusual. I'd never seen anything that was alien and complex. I had experience scanning for life on planets, and I'd scanned probably two hundred Terran ships, and it was different. It was obviously alien, with completely different patterns on the scope than a human ship would put out.

I kept an eye on our backs, but started pulling the scanners in for another round of medium-range scans. That's when they fired on Aria. It was the first hostile action, and at first I thought it might have been a warning shot. She was buzzing them pretty close, and they didn't vaporize her, they just knocked her around a little. The captain ordered her back in, and she made it okay. I stayed out and kept scanning, as originally ordered.

I kept up medium-and long-range scans for close to an hour. There was a weird pulse from the alien ships, which I think was their shields readjusting in preparation for the assault, or perhaps their energy weapons coming on line. They commenced their attack on the Iason, and there was return fire. I had received no further orders, and although I considered making a pass on the aliens, I stayed in place, hoping that they would retreat, and I'd be able to catch the gate's fingerprint.

When the Iason was destroyed, I was hit by a piece of the debris. It came right at me, like someone had taken aim and fired a part of the ship directly toward me. I'm not sure exactly what part of the Iason it was―I was partly dazzle blinded by the fire fight, and partly ... well, in space, looking out of the canopy doesn't usually show you much unless you've got a sun over your shoulder. It just looked like a piece of blackness, unfolding right in front of me. I didn't even know what it was... .

CAPTURE AND FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Impact didn't destroy my Ferret, but it completely drained my shields and damaged my repair array.

The first thing I did when I saw that the Iason had been destroyed was hit the self-destruct. You know, it wasn't that difficult a decision. I always expected it would be hard to make myself do it, but it seemed like a really good idea. I slapped it like a bug, and when it didn't work, I hit it again. I really got angry that it was ignoring me. That's when I noticed that all systems were down. Totally down. The only thing I can think is that some shrapnel must have punched through my shields, past my armor, and actually opened both of my power supplies.

... it didn't get cold as quickly as I thought it would... .

I was getting punchy when I felt them pull me in. I still thought I would asphyxiate, but they cracked the canopy open before I actually passed out. When that green fog they've got started swirling around, I was sure I was going to asphyxiate, but I didn't. I didn't even pass out at first.

In fact, right off, it makes you feel pretty good. Then it makes you feel too good―like you're accelerating without moving―and then you pass out. I came to and passed out probably three times before I finally woke up in a filtered room.

In retrospect, I understand more things now than I did originally. For instance, the first time I woke up they were fighting, like kids fighting over a doll. One of these huge creatures was holding me under one arm, and another one would attack, and when I was dropped, another one would grab me, and then the others would attack, and so on. I got pretty cut up on each pass.... I think it was the pain that made me come to, really. Anyway, my brain was pretty muzzy, and I was thinking that there were good guys and bad guys fighting over me, and I was hoping the good guys won. Turns out there weren't any good guys. They just wanted me as a battle trophy, and the losers would only get to keep pieces of the Ferret.

The next thing I remember, I was on the floor, and it seemed like there was a lake of blood around me, and those guys were really fighting each other for keeps. I remember that I tried to crawl away, so I wasn't too bad off ... then somebody fell on me, and the next time I woke up, I could see my arm had broken―the bone was sticking about an inch out of my upper arm―and I was having even more trouble breathing.... I think a couple of ribs had cracked.

Anyway. The next time I woke up, I was in a small room, like a storage unit or walk -in closet. On the floor in the corner was a machine. There wasn't any light, really, but it felt like someone had taken two devices, cut them in half, and silver-taped the pieces together, sideways. I'm pretty sure it was filtering the air: I didn't get that rushing feeling. I was kind of mad about that, because the pain was really bad and I was sick on top of that. Oh yes, I don't really recommend throwing up with broken ribs... .

Eventually, the winner came in with another, smaller alien. They were both wearing helmets that covered their faces, but I could see by the overall shape that they weren't really humanoid. For one thing, I saw fangs. My arm had stopped hurting by that point, but the smaller one started pulling on it, trying to reset the bone―they were enough like us to know how to do that, anyway―and I passed out again. We'll just skip over all the screaming ... anyway, I know the first alien was the winner because the next time I come to, he's holding me by the throat, and it feels like he's ripping my neck into shreds. Turns out, he's scratching his name into my neck with his claw.

I don't know how long I stayed in that closet. I've been wondering if I should have tried to get out. I didn't try. I thought about it, but you know, I just didn't.

I was in there for maybe a month. I say that because my arm was pretty much healed. It was dark in there nearly all the time. There was no light in there at all. I think I got fed about once a day. I sure didn't starve. I got lots of meat and a fair amount of leafy vegetables. It was steak and spinach every day, only it wasn't steak and it wasn't spinach. I would have killed for bread.

Like I said, I was in there for several weeks, and then this pack of aliens come in, grab me and the machine in the corner, and carry me out into the hall. That's all I remember of the first ship.

TRANSPORT AND ACCLIMATIZATION

As far as I can tell, the war was beginning to first heat up, and the commanders wanted some firsthand knowledge of who they were up against. I can't be certain. Maybe that alien ... that Kilrathi . . . who won me in that fight had gotten in trouble, and they confiscated all of his things. There was simply no way of telling from my perspective.

I'd like to say I picked up some of their language, but I never really understood anything they said, besides the basics like "yes" and "no," and even that I couldn't pronounce myself. I did get to be pretty good at deciphering their insignia, but it didn't really make any difference. It was just a game I played to keep my mind occupied.

But I eventually woke up in a real cell, thick glass on all four sides, with the bottom three inches of the walls being open and barred, and a barred ceiling. It was an enormous room, filled entirely with row after row of glass cells. The light was dim, but at least there was enough light to see by. You have no idea how important that was. That first day, I was the only person in the entire room. It probably held thousands of humans eventually. It was hard to count―there was light, but it was still pretty dark.

At first, they kept me pretty busy. They tried all sorts of endurance tests, but I was lucky because at first I was the only one they had, so they were going out of their way to keep me alive. They did things that I had trouble trying to foil, such as how much heat or cold I could endure, things like that. I really don't remember that much about them because so many of them ended up with me passed out cold. There were times I'd wake up, and I'd have a new abrasion or whatever, and no idea how I got it. It wasn't terrible, though. It was just really, really unpleasant. I tried to screw up the results when I could, but that wasn't often.

After a while, they started bringing in more humans, and once they had a surplus, they weren't so careful. They were getting humans by the thousands, as the war started to swing back and forth. They'd take a colony, restock the cells, and as far as I could tell, kill everyone else. I was able to get updates from the few people I could talk to, the ones who could speak Standard.

Really, after they got a surplus, they didn't bother me that much anymore. It was like having a window to hell. Believe me when I tell you that they know exactly what can kill a human. Exactly.

I'm not sure, but I think I was still that first Kilrathi warrior's trophy. That's the only thing I can imagine, that would have made them leave me alone like that.

I know now that I was in there for about two years.

I have only one guess why they came and took me away. It's the trophy thing again. They came, strapped a filter device to my back and fitted a mask over my face, and took me to a launch bay. I was stuffed into something that looked like a cross between a fighter and a shuttle, and strapped into the back seat. I can only guess that I was being "returned" to the warrior that claimed me originally. I didn't particularly want to be returned, and started to work at the straps, very quietly.

We jumped about three times. The final jump landed us next to a big cruiser-type ship that was trying to laser a fast little cargo-scout. Like trying to kill a grasshopper with a cannon. Still, it was going to win, because the second that scout stopped maneuvering, or ran out of power, it would be an unarmored, unshielded target. I didn't know that when we jumped in, though. I just decided that it was now or never, got clear of the straps, and used the filter device that I was hooked up to as a club to cave in that Kilrathi pilot's skull. Kilrathi have very thick skulls. It was messy.

I didn't know how to work the controls, but I could aim the thing, so I aimed it at what I thought was the bridge. Remember I mentioned how I didn't hesitate to hit the self-destruct button on the Ferret? Same thing. Crashing that little ship into the bridge of the cruiser seemed like the best idea in the world.

As it turned out, it wasn't the bridge. I don't know what it was, but it wasn't the bridge. I think it may have been an external shield generator, because I skipped off the field once, then slammed into the hull―which was unexpected―and then went spinning off into space.

... and I didn't pass out . . .

RETURN TO CONFED SPACE

Next thing I know, I'm being tractored in by the Confed cargo-scout. No, I didn't believe it either.

Turns out, it's a scout for ... salvagers? ... small, space-faring entrepreneurs? ... really, it was part of a small band of out-of-luck pilots who buy cast-off ships, fix them up with grapples and tractors and so on, and do whatever they can to make a living. Mostly, they scavenge debris for valuable scrap. In this case, they scavenged me. Or rather, the battered and broken Kilrathi ship. I would like to formally thank the Confed for putting a bounty on any Kilrathi artifacts... .

Still, those marvelous gentlemen aren't exactly welcomed by the authorities, and although they sympathized with my plight, and gave me a truly memorable meal, the best they could do for me was to drop me off at a convenient port. Which they did.

That's when I reported back for duty.