This is Volorty. Here, the Armenian nation is always in a primitive state of development. Meanwhile, the Great Powers grow, breed, and build new technology all around them.

This is the moon Oceanus. It's a moon of Neptune. It's a very long way from Stepanakert...and Sofia...and Paris...

There are space stations in orbit, around this moon. Some are Kannada-Tamil. Some are Altai. Some are Hungarian. Some are Zulu. Some are of the Brazilian States. Some are Manchurian. Some are Japanese.

None are Armenian...which is both expected and not. Back on the planet Yerkir, the home planet of humanity in Volorty, the Armenians have never been a Great Power. But more Armenian specimens have joined the military than of any other race. This way, they've had to fight each other. But then, that's part of what makes it all so impressive.

Ocean covers much of this moon. For that reason, fleets of warships patrol it. Their colors are the same as those of the space stations' roundels in orbit. Across these vast seas, the Great Powers of Yerkir expand their respective thalassocracies. Some of them might never stop.

In the extreme northern seas, there are ice floes. The ice, up here, isn't much different from that on Yerkir. But every now and then, a naval fleet or two stumbles upon a native inhuman, or some astrobiological specimen of sorts, who's cryo-kinetic. A few, even, have been refugees from the Benthic Dimension.

This is Taiga Island. It's named after its vast softwood woods. On this island, astrobiology thrives. Most of it is endemic to Oceanus...although there are, and have been, exceptions. Some of the softwood trees here, e.g. are as big as sequoias. And if they're not, they can size-shift into giants.

Offshore, a frigate drops anchor. Its taffrail flies the colors of the Brazilian States; Amazonas, Acre, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Brasília, and the like. A little less than half of its crew are Tupian hybrids. And if they don't speak Galician, they speak Portuguese. Otherwise, the crew is a melting pot. But then, the Brazilian States mean to be. They might be an imperialist nation...but at least they're not an elitist one. Or at least, not when it comes to racial issues.

From the guided missile frigate's port side, a derrick lowers a smaller boat into the water. It's clear they're sending someone to shore. And they won't likely be going alone.

Soon, that boat is anchored in the shallows. A few of the crewmen stay aboard, while the rest slip over the side, and swim for shore. It's a chilly dip...but with luck, whatever's ashore might be worth the swim.

These sailors wear blue pixelated camouflage. Naturally, it wasn't made for concealment. Even so, at one point, the BDF got tired of drab; so they switched to something stylish. Now, all of the junior sailors wear this while do most of the junior petty officers.

They also wear an IR flag patch on one shoulder. The flag is of whatever Brazilian state they're from. Its purpose is IFF (i.e. "identification friend or foe"). Essentially, it protects them from friendly fire. And in some sitches, it helps them get rescued.

Deep in the taiga, the shore party finds a clear patch of land. The men and lesbians get shovels. On the Lieutenant Commander's orders, they start digging up part of it. Funny; some of them feel like pirates coming to collect their own treasure.

With a small group of junior she-sailors and gay male sailors, an Armenian recruit stands and waits. Meet Renata Yelian. She was born and raised by the Armenian Apostolic Church. By their tutelage, she almost became a missionary.

As the boys dig, Yelian bonds with some of the other well as some of the apprentices and full seawomen. They judge their superiors, and giggle. The highers-up sometimes overhear them...but they're sick and tired of trying to stop it. They've been around long enough to understand that they're never going to be well-liked by their subordinates.

Aloft, there are crossbills, grosbeaks, and buntings that look like parrots. The brown creepers look like potoos. All of the squirrels can glide. The martens and fishers are like bear cubs. The porcupines are like arboreal armadillos, and have spiked mace-like tails.

At last, the sappers find what they're digging for. With steady hands, they haul an armored chest out of the hole they've dug. They summon a hull tech, who hacks the chest's lock, and opens the hatch.

Inside, there's a bomb. It's a magma-bomb; its blast is capable of flooding a city-sized target with artificial lava.

On the Lieutenant Commander's orders, the shore party gives the bomb its space. He summons the EOD techs, who come with their equipment, surround the bomb, and get to work disarming it...

"Hold it!"

They stop. Their boss, the Commander of the frigate, has arrived. Hence, everyone stands at attention, and salutes.

At the sight of him, Yelian's heart races. She eases behind her teammates and lowers her head, for some reason...

The Commander salutes back, and orders them back to "as they were." He's come dressed in his NWU, just like the seamen recruits. This is strange; officers usually wear their khakis, if they don't wear their whites...

Cdr. Borzakovsky has come to disarm the bomb himself. He insists that this is an "officer's job."

Naturally, the Lieutenant Commander objects to this. He, after all, IS an officer.

"I'm your captain," Borzakovsky insists. "If anyone must put their life on the line for you in the presence of a live magma-bomb, it's me. Plus, I've come all the way across the solar system to see this through." With that, he bends down over the armored case the bomb's in. "So, I will do this myself. Stand back."

He looks around, behind him. Everyone's too close.

"That's an order," he repeats.

So, they all stand back...all but the EOD techs, who stand nearby, and give the Commander instructions. They're all PO1s (i.e. petty officers first class). But of course, a magma-bomb would require them to be...that, or CPOs (i.e. chief petty officers).

Yelian takes this moment to slip away, and take a leak. Lately, she's spent a lot of time with the Commander. And that's both good and bad.