Group Reading: Freedom Flight 2022

Pedro

Admiral
Couple of thoughts from chapter 6:
Regs seem pretty relaxed for Hunter to be just going on a joyride like that
A couple of hours to clear the deck of a fighters debris? Obviously Rosie’s fighter was in one piece but that seems a long time.
Capship tractor beams sound really advanced and far more capable than I would have expected
 
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EmuMusicFan

2nd Lieutenant
I'm also playing SM2 as I go in tandem with the book, this is a great way to experience it. I find the novelizations of WC3 and 4 tough reading, this is an excellent balance of overlapping enough to excite my nerd genes. It also holds true enough to the games that it doesn't create a bunch of canon issues. It perfectly compliments the game and I wish we had more novels in this format for the WC1-2 era.
WC2 doesn't have its own Claw Marks, but it looks like Freedom Flight plays that role.

It's interesting that the franchise steered away from this path so fiercely, going so far as to try and write the Firekkans out for SWC and taking a very different course on future novels. I'd love to know what happened internally.
I guess WC3's forced rewrite of Ralgha to that kind had something to do with it?

I don't remember being overly fond of FF, but I'm enjoying it more than the other books I've gone back to recently (I'm going through chronologically, so before this read Actions Stations, followed by the 3 movie novels).
What I love in Action Stations are not the milirary style, but the non-combat drama dialogues. Now I find such kind of story in Freedom Flight again.
 

Pedro

Admiral
I don’t think Hobbes needed rewriting, the events of FF fit in quite well with his personality overlay. I think it was probably the firekkans.
 

EmuMusicFan

2nd Lieutenant
I don’t think Hobbes needed rewriting, the events of FF fit in quite well with his personality overlay. I think it was probably the firekkans.
I don't think such "overlay technique" is a good choice in story writing. Freedom Flight and WC2 gave us a relatively complex status of the relationship between Ralgha and Thrakhath, there were both personal and political interest conflicts. But then the "overlay"... let alone related FMV was removed from PC version.

Things about Firekkan is another problem, yes. I love the design in WC1 and the novels that there are a lot of other species in the story.
 
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EmuMusicFan

2nd Lieutenant
* What was the danger of Hunter's strategy when sinking Fralthi Kraj'nishk? How was this reflected in the history of human air combat?
I read in an article reviewing the Ace Combat series that in the era of air dogfight with machine guns, when fighters attacking bombers, they were not allowed to hit the nacelles directly because they could be damaged by the blast wave.

* Airlock and magnetic shield, how are these technology implementations used in the Confederation and the Empire?
This chapter mentions that Kilrathi ships were not yet popularly equipped magnetic shield, so airlocks were necessary. But from WC2 we know at least Hha'ifra, Thrakhath's flag ship at that time, had magnetic shield.

From WCA animation, magnetic shielding was there even when Blair was in academy.

Perhaps magnetic shielding is somewhat luxury to Kilrathi. In WC4 novel, Melek's ship was still using air lock.

* What type of uniform did Kilrathi officers usually have?
Heavy leather hauberks. In WC2 these are pretty good looking.

* Why did Ralgha ordered Kirha to ask Hunter the reason for kissing Spirit's face?

I think there may be three reasons:

1. Ralgha did get a little curious. From later depictions, it appears that Ralgha knew very little about human culture during this period.
2. But he might know what was happening about it at this point. He probably just raised a question to strike up a friendly conversation.
3. Also, he might be giving Kirha a chance to talk to humans.

* What new insights did Ralgha gain after being treated with courtesy?

Rlagha was satisfied that the humans not only did not mistreat their captives, but even treated them politely, showing their respect in a certain extent with diplomatic courtesy.

* What do you say about this sentence? "There had just been too much death on both sides, it made no sense to reckon up who owed blood-guilt to whom."
Let's not discuss whether this statement is true to reality.

First of all it reflects the reality that the war made at least some of the people of Kilrathi feel that something was wrong back then. From later summaries, it appears that Kilrathi casualties on this side of the Empire were several times higher than Confederation human casualties.

Secondly, I personally believe that Ralgha thought this way partly because it was related to his own experience and partly to give himself a sense of psychological balance.

More importantly, combined with a conversation in SO1, I have a vague feeling that there is a foreshadowing here.

Hobbes: How many must die before the Empire finally collapses of its own dead weight? Perhaps we are doing this wrong. A simple assassination, kill the Emperor and the Heir…
Maverick: Wouldn’t matter, Ralgha. Kill one cat, another will take his place. This game is bigger than any of us. One man can’t make a difference.
Hobbes: It is strange to hear that from you, Christopher. Of all of us, surely you have made a real difference in this war.


Blair was right. At the time, Kilrathi needed the empire to be completely defeated to find a new way. But I have a vague feeling that Blair's words here may also point to another point: Then what if Ralgha himself could finally be the GOOD cat grand lord?
 
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EmuMusicFan

2nd Lieutenant
ASSIGNMENT FOR Freedom Flight, Chapter 6

DISCUSSION POINTS:

* So far the Tiger’s Claw and Austin pilots had done exceptionally well, no casualties and only a few ships damaged beyond repair, mostly because the cats didn’t seem to expect any enemy presence this far out in this system. What does this point reflect?
* “We’re going to start running out of missiles very soon, and fighter replacement parts, not to mention what’s going to happen once the Kilrathi really start fighting back and we begin losing pilots.” What idea of modern warfare does this inner monologue of Hunter's relate to? And what was the prevailing idea associated with it at the time in terms of the Empire?
* “The grizzled old Captain and the young Kilrathi. What was his name? Kirha, that’s right.” How old do you think Ralgha the grizzled old Captain mentioned here should be?
* “how many of these have I toasted so far? At least five or six.” How many should it be?
* It would be hard to get High Command to uphold a court-martial for insubordination on a pilot who had already flown back-to-back missions and narrowly escaped a crash to boot. What does this mean here?

EXTENDED DISCUSSION:
* "The top of the cockpit doesn’t pop off the way ours do, in fact it doesn’t seem to have an ejection system, either. That’d be awful, to be trapped in a dying fighter with no way to get out.” There was a idea that back in the day Kilrathi pilots didn't even use ejection systems. This is wrong, how many counter examples can you find?
 
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EmuMusicFan

2nd Lieutenant
* So far the Tiger’s Claw and Austin pilots had done exceptionally well, no casualties and only a few ships damaged beyond repair, mostly because the cats didn’t seem to expect any enemy presence this far out in this system. What does this point reflect?
* “We’re going to start running out of missiles very soon, and fighter replacement parts, not to mention what’s going to happen once the Kilrathi really start fighting back and we begin losing pilots.” What idea of modern warfare does this inner monologue of Hunter's relate to? And what was the prevailing idea associated with it at the time in terms of the Empire?
I think these points reflect the importance of logistics in modern warfare.

Although at this time in the military technology of the Empire was advanced enough, and there were stealth fighters and other advanced technology in the development, but their military concept was still heavily stuck in the ancient style of small-scale clan conflict.

If we expand our view to the rest of the series, we can also find that the Empire at the time placed too much military emphasis on fearlessness, and then discriminated against non-direct combat units such as logistics on that basis.

In WC2 we can see that the captain of a logistics transport ship chose to surrender directly to the coming Confederation pilots because of engine failure, which shows that his will to fight was relatively low.

And according to the description of Ralgha's perspective in Freedom Flight, the direct surrender of a space ship was not available in Kilrathi history, or at least not recognized. This may indicate that transports may not have generally been considered as target units on the battlefield throughout Kilrathi's military history, or more importantly, the long years of warfare with human started to bring something new to the Kilrathi.
 
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Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
General Notes on Chapter 6

  • "Joe pulled the blanket off, leaving him shivering in the blast from the ventilators." - I like the degree to which the book is simply describing the save/load gameflow screen. I believe the design for the screen specifically calls out the ventilator, too.
  • " the week since they’d brought the renegade captain’s Fralthi into a parked position next to the Claw" - this is trouble if you're trying to really get into the weeds of the Secret Missions II timeline, since it's fundamentally incompatible with the game (where Bossman dies the same day the Ras Nik'hra is recovered).
  • "He consulted his mental tally. Another Fralthi cruiser. Two Dorkir. A Snakier carrier. Several corvettes. And lots of enemy fighters." - I wonder if that's the second Fralthi that attacked the Ras Nik'hra or if it's a /third/ Fralthi. Also interesting to note that there was no corvette in Wing Commander I, the Spikeri having become the Snakeir… although the Kamekh existed in the world building toolkit by this point!
  • "Joe said as they walked to the flight deck, too tired to sprint the way they had a few short weeks ago." - very subtle joke about the Wing Commander I scramble!
  • "I’m Janet McCullough, a new technician on the Austin, sir. " - fun Sparks cameo; I've always wondered if she was at some point intended to be the female character that accompanies the crew at the end of the novel
  • "So they’re finally taking that tugboat back to Sol Station?" - I like the casual introduction of Sol Station, a concept that didn't exist in Wing Commander lore before this… Freedom Flight does a good job of mentioning it casually a bunch of times before we actually shift the focus of the story there.
  • "The grizzled old Captain and the young Kilrathi. " - I know this is a topic Emu wants to discuss! According to Victory Streak, Ralgha is *28* in 2669 which would mean he was born in 2641… making him 15 in Freedom Flight. So the question is: is Victory Streak just wrong (other ages are a little shaky!) or do Kilrathi age VERY quickly compared to humans (like real cats?). The answer is… I don't know, maybe even a third thing: perhaps that layer of stolen Forever War time dilation from the movie!
  • "Now I know how the old Rajahs fell when they got those white elephants." - Hunter's culture references are barely recognizable anymore in 2022, much less 2655.
  • “Hunter! What’s taking so long? I’m waiting to launch!” Joe Khumalo’s voice boomed out over the flight deck PA. Everyone on the Deck stopped working and looked up. A moment later, Khumalo’s voice continued, “Oh, this is set to the loudspeaker frequency? Sorry about that, let me switch it to . . .” - I laughed out loud at this goofy slapstick bit. I feel like I probably cringed about it when I was 14!
  • "The Tiger’s Claw floated beside them, huge and imposing against the starfield and the silhouetted planet of Firekka." - another mechanic of Secret Missions 2, you see Firekka in the skybox and its size varies depending on how far you are.
  • "“You’re a married man, Joe,”" - we know VERY little about Knight and it's interesting to me that I don't believe this is mentioned anywhere else… it's NOT a reference from Claw Marks, it's an original fact that Knight is married.
  • "Then I’m going to set my Nav computer and put this on Autopilot. Wake me up if anything interesting happens, okay?" - this scene is repeated with Maniac and Blair in the second episode of Academy!
  • "Aside from a few minutes of conversation and bad dirty jokes with the Deck Officer of the TCS Austin, as their patrol path brought them within sight of the smaller Gettysburg-class ship, the patrol was totally uneventful." - here it is, the reference that really stuck in ship-head fans' heads! What happened is that the TCS Austin is introduced in Secret Missions 2 but it's mostly only talked about… the one mission where you 'see' it it's played by an Exeter that's too far away to target (it jumps out almost immediately). So then Freedom Flight adds the fact that it's "Gettysburg class" to the lore, which has people imagining some new kind of ship we haven't seen… OR, confusingly, the contemporary-from-the-same-writers Waterloo-class TCS Gettysburg which will be further obfuscated by its appearance in End Run. Super Wing Commander later says the Gettysburg is (semi-contradictory) larger than the Tiger's Claw, so the legend of a giant Exeter-like battleship was born (despite all we know being that it carries a fighter squadron and is fresh-Admiral Tolwyn's flagship that replaces the Concordia supercruiser). What's the intent here? Almost certainly to say that the Austin is a Waterloo-class ship… but of course as written it says everything but!
  • But what strikes me most today is that I really like the idea of Hunter just casually chatting with the Austin's com officer while flying escort.
  • "The top of the cockpit doesn’t pop off the way ours do, in fact it doesn’t seem to have an ejection system, either." - okay THIS plus people confusing the Kilrathi with the Klingons is where people come up with the original claim that the Kilrathi don't use ejection systems. It's actually that they don't use a human-style ejection system… which is all SM2 says about the Dralthi… and then Hunter is clearly able to escape a destroyed Dralthi shortly after this!
  • "Maybe that’s why they built it in this “flying pancake” style, he thought, to spread out the stabilizers over a larger area, make it easier to stabilize at high speed." - I think probably this science makes no sense but I love that they tried.
  • "What’s going on there? Why didn’t any of their patrols spot these blokes?" - perhaps intended to be the first case of Jazz sabotaging something? Jazz is the only person in space when the attack arrives… was he trying to destroy the 'Claw and escape right here? I think the intent is yes.
  • "He enabled the missiles and fired a split-second later, yanking the stick to veer away at the last moment as the lead Gratha was engulfed in a fireball, taking two of the closest Gratha with it." - three Gratha at once is an extraordinary hit.
  • “Jesus!” - always weird when there's some casual religion mentioned.
  • "He quickly slid down to the Dralthi’s exit hatch. A very long two seconds later, he had the hatch unfastened and shoved it open. All the air in the cockpit rushed out past him, blasting him through the hatch and into open space." - see, he ejects himself… it's just manual like a WW2 airplane.
  • "He spun uncontrollably in his suit, still carried by his momentum directly toward the silvery hull of the Austin." - attn ship fans: the Austin is not green.
  • "Commander James Reilly, the Executive Officer of the ship, and Major Petrenkov" - these have to be Tuckerizations.
  • "“I’ve already thought about it, Captain,” the Exec said. “If you’d like to talk about it in the Rec Room, I’d like to hear your suggestions.”" - this is kind of a funny reveal, that Hunter Forrest Gump'd Angel her promotion.
  • “Damn, but that boy is good,” Hunter said, cheerfully acknowledging excellence, even when it wasn’t his own. He wiped at the trickle of blood from his nose again. “I think he’ll go far.” - yeahhhhhh
  • "He waved to Cafrelli, who was working on a disassembled fighter engine on the far side of the Deck, and headed for the Barracks." - that's a nod to Charles Cafrelli, lead programmer on Wing Commander II (and voice of a Kilrathi admiral!)
  • "But just on the off-chance . . . Angel actually likes that horrible soda they have there, hell if I know why." - this is funny because that soda would go on to make appearances several times, including left on the trainsim in the SNES port and in dispensers along the other side of the room in the movie!
  • “Bossman’s dead, Hunter,” she said. - you're talking about a… wait nevermind. Of course Bossman's death and its impact on Angel comes from Secret Missions 2 originally, but Freedom Flight expands it and then it's ultimately adapted to the movie. A pretty interesting walk for something that doesn't /seem/ like an essential aspect of the IP at all.
  • "A Fralthi cruiser, several corvettes, two Lumbari tankers. Bossman knew that the corvettes would overtake us if we ran, that there was no way to outrun them, so he . . ." - this is the second time we've namedropped a transport in a list of capital ships which just seems a little weird… Lumbari shouldn't have impacted that battle at all. Also when you first think about it this makes no sense with corvettes outrunning fighters… but the background lore for how engines on capital ships work had already explained that behind the scenes.
  • "then he said, ‘Angel, tell my wife I love her.’ There was a burst of static on the com, and then, nothing.”" - possibly entirely a coincidence, but Strike Commander has a very similar line ("tell my wife I lo {static}") when you shoot down an airliner.
  • "He thought back about the wingmen he’d flown with, and how he’d felt when Littlehawk had crashed on the Flight Deck after they’d both been shot up badly during a Vega mission. " - love these totally otherwise untold lore blobs. I suck them up like a fish. Bloop.
  • "but we are not abandoning the Firekka System. The Firekkans are evacuating as many of their people as they can, and we’ll assist that in any way possible" - oof, this sounds scarily familiar in 2022
  • "four tankerships" - AGAIN!
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
* So far the Tiger’s Claw and Austin pilots had done exceptionally well, no casualties and only a few ships damaged beyond repair, mostly because the cats didn’t seem to expect any enemy presence this far out in this system. What does this point reflect?

Narratively speaking, this is structured to set up for the shock of losing Bossman. But moreover it's a very odd line because it's NOT TRUE… Youngblood was killed two chapters earlier! We went to his funeral!

* “We’re going to start running out of missiles very soon, and fighter replacement parts, not to mention what’s going to happen once the Kilrathi really start fighting back and we begin losing pilots.” What idea of modern warfare does this inner monologue of Hunter's relate to? And what was the prevailing idea associated with it at the time in terms of the Empire?

It's a bit odd because the Tiger's Claw just spent months behind enemy lines functioning independently… but I understand the idea that there's not an existing supply chain established because no one expected there to be any real fighting at Firekka.

* “The grizzled old Captain and the young Kilrathi. What was his name? Kirha, that’s right.” How old do you think Ralgha the grizzled old Captain mentioned here should be?

I talk about this one in my notes above too, but I agree it is hard to imagine a fifteen year old Kilrathi would be grizzled and old (or as generally melancholic as Ralgha seems to be). But I am also against the sci-fi trope where all races age at the same rate as humans… so I guess I don't have a side to take!

* “how many of these have I toasted so far? At least five or six.” How many should it be?

I'm not sure we know enough to answer. Hunter has 64 kills at the start of Secret Missions 2 but we don't know quite what that breaks down to. He shoots down one Dralthi in the movie, so that could count as one (unless the KF-100 is different)... I guess we could go through his other appearances (Pilgrim Stars, the WC1/2 guide) and see if more are specified, but I'm betting it won't add up to 5 or 6. (Fun project some afternoon, though…)

* It would be hard to get High Command to uphold a court-martial for insubordination on a pilot who had already flown back-to-back missions and narrowly escaped a crash to boot. What does this mean here?

I started to think about how to answer this and then I realized that Hunter does a better job of explaining exactly his philosophy in Claw Marks: "However, every [expletive deleted] thing we're given - ships, weapons, training, an' standing regs - is there for us to push to the limit, an' maybe a little further, if we're going to get the job done. Notice I say 'push to the limit' an' not 'break.' Maybe there's not much of a difference, but it's usually the difference between dusting a furball an' sucking vacuum." Basically, Hunter knows he's obnoxious but he also knows when to stop!.

* "The top of the cockpit doesn’t pop off the way ours do, in fact it doesn’t seem to have an ejection system, either. That’d be awful, to be trapped in a dying fighter with no way to get out.” There was a idea that back in the day Kilrathi pilots didn't even use ejection systems. This is wrong, how many counter examples can you find?

Many, many! From Ratha ejecting in Action Stations to Vengeance in Word of Honor to Thrakhath in Wing Commander 2… to the fact that they eject from ships in-engine in WC3, WC4, Prophecy. (A lot of the fanlore about this started at a website called the Terran Confederation Underground in 1995 which came up with its own lore for the different ships, much of which was passed on forever. But it's also printed literally in the Confed Handbook that (at least Confed thinks) the Kilrathi don't have ejection seats at the time of the movie.
 

EmuMusicFan

2nd Lieutenant
"The grizzled old Captain and the young Kilrathi. " - I know this is a topic Emu wants to discuss! According to Victory Streak, Ralgha is *28* in 2669 which would mean he was born in 2641… making him 15 in Freedom Flight. So the question is: is Victory Streak just wrong (other ages are a little shaky!) or do Kilrathi age VERY quickly compared to humans (like real cats?). The answer is… I don't know, maybe even a third thing: perhaps that layer of stolen Forever War time dilation from the movie!

I talk about this one in my notes above too, but I agree it is hard to imagine a fifteen year old Kilrathi would be grizzled and old (or as generally melancholic as Ralgha seems to be). But I am also against the sci-fi trope where all races age at the same rate as humans… so I guess I don't have a side to take!

I think here are some other clues pointing to the situation that Ralgha was much older than 15 years old at the time of Freedom Flight.

“Now the leader—who is probably the so-ambitious young Prince Thrakhath—is withdrawing his troops,” Ralgha interrupted, and suppressed a purr of amusement at the widening of the human’s eyes.

“There is no other choice for him. He must,” Ralgha replied. He looked up at his young liegeman. “Tell the human, Kirha, why the Prince must withdraw, since the ceremony has been corrupted.”

from Chapter 8


Although the second place is not Ralgha's line, nor is his thinking, but as far as I understand it, this is clearly a description from Ralgha's point of view.

By that time, Thrakhath was the No. 2 male in the empire, so if Ralgha, also a member of the high bloodline of the empire, refered to him as young prince, I think it may only be because Ralgha was born earlier.

Note that Thrakhath had the title of Prince from his birth. And even if it is changed to Crown Prince, an outsider who may not be related can objectively describe him as a young crown prince according to the age at which Thrakhath obtained the status of the first heir, but Ralgha is definitely not an outsider anyway.

Maybe for Ralgha, Thrakhath was a young one, although elder than Kirha.



Then there is another problem, how old was Thrakhath by that time? Could he be younger than 15 years old at the time?

According to Action Stations, Thrakhath was a very young cub in 2634. In this way, his was at least over 20 years old at the point of Freedom Flight (actually I belive he was around 25). Although this description of Action Station is in the category of historical fiction, such a basic issue should not go wrong.

Then, do Kilrathi age VERY quickly compared to humans?

According to Fleet Action, Baron Jukaga did not look old by the time of 2668. His mane didn't turn grizzle, but still very bright in color. And from Action Stations and End Run (this is not a historical fiction!) we know he was born before the war. Therefore, we can infer that Kilrathi can maintain a relatively youthful appearance around the age of 40s.

Then we come back to the three old Kilrathi who lived through the Varni war: the Emperor, the old Baron Vakka and Harga.

Since Varni war was in 2594, then by the time of 2669 the emperor was at least around 80 years old.

According to some psychological descriptions of Thrakhath in the WC3 novel, the age of the emperor was nothing too special and was not regarded as extremely longevity. So the average nature lifespan of Kilrathi people is unlikely to be very short compared to that of humans.

Then let's take a look at this descriotion from Action Stations Chapter Five:

Harga closed his eyes and Jukaga realized just how old his father's friend really was. His mane had gone nearly to white, the ripples of muscle on his limbs were melting away into nothingness.

I think there is a very likely situation hidden here, Harga was still a middle-aged kilrathi with at least not-white-mane and strong muscle when Jukaga was a very young cub.

The situation, then, is: if Kilrathi's formative years are so short that Jukaga's early years were just a few years ago, then Harga would still be in his prime at least in his fourties since he should be an adult who had cubs by the year of 2594, at which year old Baron Vakka was also there.

Therefore the hypothesis that Kilrathi takes a short time to reach adulthood should not explain the situation of Ralgha the old captain with a grizzle mane could be at the age of 15.



To sum up, if Ralgha was born around 2641, then there would be many things that are not easy to explain whether in Freedom Flight or some other works in the series. Yes, there is no absolute proof, but I still think on the balance there is more weight on the side that Ralgha's birth year is much earlier than 2641.
 
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EmuMusicFan

2nd Lieutenant
ASSIGNMENT FOR Freedom Flight, Chapter 7

DISCUSSION POINTS:

* He’d passed a couple Kilrathi heavy troopships on his way in, parked in orbit above, but no other ships. What does this tell us?
* "... Oh, they’ve got some crazy plan of sending down some Marines to crash the Kilrathi party, disrupting the religious ceremony. But they won’t give us enough troops to defend your planet.” What would happen next in the game?
* "... my people are good fighters, but not against the technology of the Kilrathi.” What did K'Kai mean here?
* “Kilrathi fighter, identify yourself immediately or be destroyed!” Was this an extra IFF step to show that Tiger's Claw was still waiting for Hunter?
* “Poor old girl, I put her through a lot today.” What was changed?
* In silence, they watched as the last Kilrathi ship disappeared into the night sky above them. What critical change in the situation happened?

EXTRA DISCUSSION:

* For now, what kind of relationship do you think Firekkan should present with humans and Kilrathi after 2669?
 
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EmuMusicFan

2nd Lieutenant
ASSIGNMENT FOR Freedom Flight, Chapter 8

DISCUSSION POINTS:

* What do you learn from the stereotypic behaviour revealed at the beginning of this chapter?
* Ralgha had learned in his earlier captivity that such mind-numbing occupations did nothing to make the time seem any shorter. Which captivity is this referring to? Here on Tigers Claw or the earlier one at Imperial Intelligence Headquarters?
* Different approaches to coping with the captivity time could be found from Ralgha and Kirha. Does this come from the difference in status between Thrakhra (noble) and Kilrahra (commoner), senior captain and junior officer, or the older and the younger? Ralgha began to study human culture more systematically and quickly made considerable progress. How do you feel about this?
* The walls were gray and could not be marked, the floor bare metal. Marked? What does this mean? 🐈‍⬛
* In a way, Ralgha was torn. He was angry that the ceremony had been disrupted, and burned for those who had been so betrayed—yet this would not have happened if the Prince and the Emperor were not already corrupt. The humans were not the cause, only the means. ... But best of all, the Prince would doubtless survive, and would have a great deal to account for to the Emperor. The Emperor’s displeasure was going to fall heavily on him—and on any who were his favorites. The repercussions of this disaster would echo down along the chain of command, affecting anyone who was partisan to the Prince’s cause. They all, from the Prince downward, might well find themselves piloting fighters on the frontlines. What could we learn from all of these above?
* “But the first ship off-world took with it not only the Prince, but his hostages. They took our flock-leaders with them!" How many things had Thrakhath done up to this point that were not in line with the traditional ethics of Kilrathi?

EXTENDED DISCUSSION:

* Someone must have deduced that too strong a human-scent would make both of the Kilrathi edgy and nervous. Where else do you find this point in the series?
* they did not permit their subject races to have command of much in the way of technology, as it made them easier to keep under their thumb. Is there anything different mentioned in Action Stations?
 
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EmuMusicFan

2nd Lieutenant
* "... my people are good fighters, but not against the technology of the Kilrathi.” What did K'Kai mean here?
From my impression of the entire story, K'Kai is not only a forthright female warrior, but also a sane leader.

If I remember correctly, although K'Kai gave me a first impression of airy, but she made NO mistakes because of emotionalism at all the key points in the story.
 
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EmuMusicFan

2nd Lieutenant
* In a way, Ralgha was torn. He was angry that the ceremony had been disrupted, and burned for those who had been so betrayed—yet this would not have happened if the Prince and the Emperor were not already corrupt. The humans were not the cause, only the means. ... But best of all, the Prince would doubtless survive, and would have a great deal to account for to the Emperor. The Emperor’s displeasure was going to fall heavily on him—and on any who were his favorites. The repercussions of this disaster would echo down along the chain of command, affecting anyone who was partisan to the Prince’s cause. They all, from the Prince downward, might well find themselves piloting fighters on the frontlines. What could we learn from all of these above?
My understanding is that from this paragraph we can see that Ralgha is in opposition to Thrakhath and emperors, both in public benifits and in private relationship.

From the relevant narratives, Ralgha shows these aspects of antagonism with the emperor and the emperor's grandson.

1. Ralgha believed that the emperor was so corrupt and incompetent that he could not bring benefits to Kilrathi, but instead brought countless unnecessary losses to everyone.

2. Thrakhath arrested many priestess, which may have been an aspect of their an infringement on the traditional social power structure of Kilrathi, which is over the line to Ralgha.

3. Lady Hassa.

It can be inferred that the emperor was originally trying to centralize power in his own hands through war with humans, so the above were expected to the emperor.

Therefore, these are not misunderstandings or emotional conflicts, but fundamental conflicts of interest.
 
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Kelly_

Spaceman
From Chapter 6...
* So far the Tiger’s Claw and Austin pilots had done exceptionally well, no casualties and only a few ships damaged beyond repair, mostly because the cats didn’t seem to expect any enemy presence this far out in this system. What does this point reflect?

Narratively speaking, this is structured to set up for the shock of losing Bossman. But moreover it's a very odd line because it's NOT TRUE… Youngblood was killed two chapters earlier! We went to his funeral!
The lesson here is if you want to be remembered by your comrades, be a good sport; and I quote... Lieutenant Peter "Puma" Youngblood looked like he'd bitten into something sour as he tossed his cards onto the table.


* “The grizzled old Captain and the young Kilrathi. What was his name? Kirha, that’s right.” How old do you think Ralgha the grizzled old Captain mentioned here should be?
I don’t think that we can really draw any conclusions about Kilrathi biology with only this… This quote is from Hunter’s interior monologue matching his introductory description of Ralgha as grizzled back in chapter 5 due to a white mane, but Hunter would be applying his own preconceptions of appearance.

I started to go gray at 32, but I have met people who went gray / white in their twenties, and hair pigmentation could be just as divergent in other species. At the beginning of the novel, we are shown wide variations are possible among the Kilrathi as Ralgha contrasts himself with Jahkai in terms of color, pattern, and texture of their pelts, not to mention the skull and teeth comparisons. Part of this could be ascribed to Ralgha’s classist / borderline racist attitudes towards Jahkai, but the physical differences are there even if their extent would not be evident to an outside observer from another species like Hunter.

Most likely, the fact that Ralgha was in command of a cruiser, not a post accorded to youth in the Confederation, and that he was war weary enough to defect were the factors that Hunter decided made Ralgha seem old. We really only know that Ralgha was older than Kirha, and that Kirha was young.

Also, his derision of Thrakhath as ‘young’ throughout the book is probably just a veiled insult to the prince and I expect that would have still been used whether or not Ralgha or Thrakhath had been born first.
 

Kelly_

Spaceman
From Chapter 7...
* "... my people are good fighters, but not against the technology of the Kilrathi.” What did K'Kai mean here?
Firekkans were barely space-faring at that point, and the Kilrathi empire was not only spanning multiple sectors but had centuries of combat experience to draw on... if Firekka did not have the good fortune to be neighboring the Confederation they never would have had a chance, and I think K'Kai was being realistic about the situation.

* “Poor old girl, I put her through a lot today.” What was changed?
He spent the better part of a day flying, 20 hours opposed to the 2 hours the fighter was prepped for, and the Dralthi held together through his crash landing. Even Hunter would have to have a grudging respect at that point for Kilrathi engineering.
 

EmuMusicFan

2nd Lieutenant
I think K'Kai was being realistic about the situation.
That is the point.

Note that not all intelligent beings who are new to advanced civilization have such clear and rational judgment, especially considering the social structure of Firekkan is actually more closer to Kilrathi than and to human. And, not only K'Kai, from the later story we know in the resistance Firekkan did a pretty good job.
 
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EmuMusicFan

2nd Lieutenant
We really only know that Ralgha was older than Kirha, and that Kirha was young.
That is the direct information. In addition to this, there are many clues that Ralgha is not a young Kilrathi, such as:

He was tall, even for a Kilrathi, and still in his warrior-prime.

I think this statement is a hint that Rlagha was in his late stage of warrior-prime.

Also, his derision of Thrakhath as ‘young’ throughout the book is probably just a veiled insult to the prince and I expect that would have still been used whether or not Ralgha or Thrakhath had been born first.
Would you please explain this issue? As far as I know, using young as an insult is inappropriate for the real younger speaker. And it's a diplomatic occasion to talk to humans. If Ralgha needed an insult, then he could have just called Thrakhath by the given name.
 
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Kelly_

Spaceman
Would you please explain this issue? As far as I know, using young as an insult is inappropriate for the real younger speaker.
Going by earlier dates, Thrakhath had only become the crown prince at the most a year prior to Firekka, due to his father's execution; his elevation was brand new.

I do not think that Thrakhath was ever shown as being respected by anyone, and by referring to him as 'young' prince or 'young' crown prince is factually correct, in comparison to Gilkarg, and would immediately bring to mind his predecessor who was much more accomplished than Thrakhath, as well as the over-reaction of the emperor. Ralgha could not have been the only Kilrathi who could see the way the Kirankas were mismanaging the empire and the use of 'young' to describe Thrakhath is the perfect way to show social disrespect without reprisal because the statement is technically correct. If we saw other nobility in the novel, they would probably use the same term, as the breakdown of social decorum among the highest levels of the imperial court started years before with the lack of discipline of the Kirankas in Action Stations.

The same could be seen in the present day any time someone is introduced as the 'new' manager; they will still be the 'new' manager until another is hired, but the tone in which they are referred to is where the insult would come in.
 
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