From the depths of space, emerging from the shadow of a dead world, the nearby red sun revealed the immense bulk of the HCH Star Warden. Harvesting valuable minerals and artifacts from the long dead precursor ruins, the Warden loitered as several constructors and scientific craft hummed about the planetoid like so many busy little bees.
The Captain sighed. "There's no doubt it was a Hegemony transmission?"
"None, sir. The datastream contains encrypted protocols unique to our technology. Yet it was transmitted broadband, sir; they weren't concerned with secrecy, any number of listening posts could likely picked it up. We were lucky to have recieved as much as we did, given the distance."
"Lucky!" . The Captain scowled. We find evidence of another fleet, and a powerful one, headed by a comrade - Captain Demitrius Quixen. While he had personally never met the man, the Captain knew of him by reputation; a ambitious and capable officer with a steel trap for a mind.
"Pursue them! You know as well as I the penalty for divergence from the Logic of the Irrefutable". The ship's political officer, and head cleric, shrilled, his face turning beet red at the thought of rebellious hegemony members. He grasped the captain by the elbow. "Reindoctration for the entire crew, and brainwipe for it's traitorous Captain and senior staff!". The cleric trembled in outrage.
The Captain slowly turned and eyed the thin, trembling priest, then looked down at the grasping hand. The Cleric noticed his impropriety and released him, but his manner remained unchanged. "You know the Law, and I implore you to employ the sanctions necesary to reclaim our property!".
The Captain sighed, and thrust a narcostick into one corner of his mouth, knowing it'd further annoy the outraged priest. Then he looked the man in the eye. Insubordination was not to be allowed, by either fleets . . . or men. His glare was infamous, unmanning, and he used it sparingly, to great effect.
"Priest, you forget yourself, and who you address. Knight Commander am I, and I make the decisions aboard the Warden. The penalty for mutiny is spacing, as you well know.". The priest stopped trembling and eyed the Captain warily. He is threatening ME? the cleric thought, surprised. Then the Captain turned back to the viewscreen, and the moment passed.
"We have neither the resources nor the ability to pursue the good Captain Quixen and his renegade fleet, priest. We could certainly try, and if the solar winds favored us, we might catch him in time to stage a battle before any newfound friend comes to his aid. Of course, the battle would likely cost the both of us the bulk of our fleets."
" . . and THEN, priest, we would be torn to pieces by the several alien fleets pursuing us, alerted by our high speed hypereddy as we passed through their systems and listening posts. ". The cleric began to sputter and form a reply, and the Captain curtly cut him off with a gesture. "I'm not going to sacrifice one of the last fleets of the sacred Hegemony, property of the Emperior, and that's final. Now, I believe you have duties to attend to, confessions to be heard . . . ?". The Captain turned, his back to the political officer in dismissal.
When the cleric left the bridge, the Captain amended, in a hoarse whisper, " . . . . for, Emperior forgive me, it appears our Cause is Lost . . . "