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Author Topic: Chapter 6: M.I.A.  (Read 1822 times)

Bobitron

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Chapter 6: M.I.A.
« on: April 02, 2017, 02:45:13 PM »

The squad shuffles back to barracks, beat from a long day in the field. After a cycle through the showers, warmed to just below body temp enough to ward off a chill but not enough to make the experience comfortable, you all settle in to tear down your gear under Hood’s watchful eye. Brushing out the soot, sand, and mud from your weapons is time consuming and a bit mind numbing, but the quiet ritual feels welcome after a hard day’s work. 



Sawyer and Cort need a good deal more time for Pearl. A full day outside the fence means hours of maintenance even if they don’t find any problems. They get a good head start on tomorrow’s work. Cort points out a few parts needing replacement. As Sawyer reviews the final list, he’s relieved to note they are all items on hand.



Lt. Gormund shows up just after the lights go out across Canary, a necessary precaution that was brought in as part of the updated security protocols. No sense in lighting up the target for the Vetnan’s mortars and antiquated but still dangerous rocket launchers after sunset. So far the  firebase has avoided such attacks, but the risk is ever present. Full light suppression hasn’t been enacted, so flashlights and personal lamps are allowed.

Gormund knocks gently before entering, his face glowing red in the pale glow of his filtered light.



“2nd Squad. I should inform you this is an official debriefing despite the circumstances. But let’s keep it short and simple. You’re being recorded.”



The debrief doesn’t last long. Gormund asks a few questions, and the squad responds honestly about the events. The LT doesn’t seem to question the decisions made or actions taken. He hands over Hood’s dataslate and bids the team good night. One last job for Sawyer before bed. The slate checks out fine. It’ll require a few more simple steps to use, but there’s no question to piece is more secure; both from physical compromise and wireless. 



The next week passes without much incident. Two full days are spent clearing brush and light trees around Canary. A 48 hour patrol brings you deep into the DMZ via Early’s Valkyrie and a long 120km hike back to Canary, but it goes without incident other than Pearl getting a broken suspension arm that cuts the useful speed of the Venator down to a walking pace. Unfortunately, a replacement part will need to be flown in, so Pearl is out of action for another week or so. Cort won’t let Sawyer go easily, though. A bad driving decision sent a tree stump up between the wide wheels and the body and crushed the alloy strut. A steady stream of vitriol over the error got so annoying Hood even interjected after a couple hours.



There’s mixed news waiting for the squad back at Canary. It seems that B Company is finally getting some reinforcements, and not an insignificant amount. The three undersized companies on Vetna will be brought up to full strength next lunar cycle as Elysian command distributes the rookies straight out of training directly into the field. However, General Giap has captured one of the rare anti-air missile batteries dedicated to stopping off-world orbital landings, and the weapons are stored half a kilometer under the ground, unassailable by even the heavy shells of an Earthshaker. Plans are underway to bring in the landing via dozens of shuttle landings, but heavy equipment and the sheer number of flights needed are causing logistical nightmares. Even once the Elysians are in orbit, it’ll take weeks to get the transfer to ground completed safely. Still, the mood among the Elysians and the PDF alike is buoyant as the news circulates. 



The next day is set aside for refitting and maintenance. The entire squad’s gear is laid out over a dozen square meters of tarp as they meticulously go through each bit of equipment with sharp eyes. The job done, the squad settles in for a tinned lunch, the cold and goopy meal serving to dull even the most chipper atmosphere. 

The familiar scream of a Valkyrie in a spiral descent assails your ears as the daily supply run arrives. Soon after, Hecate bolts up in her seat as a figure steps toward the squad. 



“Great Emperor on the Throne! It’s Bookie and Crouch!”



The hulking guardsman approaches the team carrying a cooler dripping from condensation. Crouch pops out from behind him, grinning ear to ear. 



“We brought cold bia!”
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Padre

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Re: Chapter 6: M.I.A.
« Reply #1 on: April 05, 2017, 08:26:22 PM »

Sitting in a back corner lazily playing a game of cards, Zurk's attention was directed toward the door by a nod from Sola before the names Bookie & Crouch are called out.  Sharing a look they both the bald guardsman perked up at the sound of cold beverages, but the medic remained relatively emotionless.  Ever since they first set foot in B Company, Hood talked about how great Bookie & Crouch were and how he and Sola were expendable. 

Part of him wanted to stand up and make a sarcastic introduction, but the other part of him just didn't care.  Turning his attention back to the cards, he tosses the cards over to Jace, "Just shut up and deal."
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Lesson Learned: When a girl you're courting says she's looking forward to a hot night on the town, that doesn't mean arson

Colonel Blood

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Re: Chapter 6: M.I.A.
« Reply #2 on: April 06, 2017, 01:24:09 PM »

Hood hops off his bunk and approaches the new arrivals. "Bookie! Crouch! Welcome home you two." He claps Bookie on his wide shoulders and gives him a careful appraisal. "I think your new scars make you even more attractive than last time I saw you."

He jerks a thumb towards the medic and his buddy. "This is Zurk and Sola. Zurk's a saw bones. Next time you get yourself shot up he'll make sure you don't use it as an excuse to get a few weeks rack time while we slog through the green."
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Perius

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Re: Chapter 6: M.I.A.
« Reply #3 on: April 06, 2017, 01:33:26 PM »

Bookie bends over to place the barrel of bia carefully onto the dirt, wiping his hands free of the cooler's moisture before stiffening into a salute.

"Sarge," he growls, voice like gravel. His eyes flick over the team, pausing only a fraction of a second longer on the two new additions. "I take it the cat's dead." Perhaps it's just the scarring down his face, but it looks like the big man's smiling.

A grinning Crouch barges past him to the table, only to recoil in mock horror at the food. "Ergh! As if sarge's flirting wasn't bad enough," he grumbles, "this is what they're feeding us now? What happened to Old Granny Ba!?! Shuffle up, Mara. Good to see yer. Pass us a bowl, will you Saw?"

He gestures over his shoulder at Bookie. "I tell yer, I am sick of that man. A hundred beautiful Vetnesse nurses bending over him and all he wanted to talk about was getting back to you lot and the front. If he talked at all." He shakes his head. "Doesn't know what's good for him, that's his problem."

"So - kill many Nannies whilst we were gone?"
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Colonel Blood

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Re: Chapter 6: M.I.A.
« Reply #4 on: April 06, 2017, 03:48:40 PM »

Hoods eyes flick nervously to the others and then back again. "One or two. Wasn't the same without you. You were better off out of it."
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Brother Anselm

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Re: Chapter 6: M.I.A.
« Reply #5 on: April 06, 2017, 04:37:35 PM »

Sawyer grins and stands, too fast his legs connect upending his end of the table, he looks down sheepishly at the debris that spills onto the table and floor. without thinking he stoops down, crack! his forehead slams into the edge of the righted table edge.
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Colonel Blood

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Re: Chapter 6: M.I.A.
« Reply #6 on: April 06, 2017, 06:33:16 PM »

Hood takes the opportunity to change the subject. "Zurk we have a man down here."
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Padre

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Re: Chapter 6: M.I.A.
« Reply #7 on: April 06, 2017, 08:50:51 PM »

Hugo had just looked at his fresh hand of cards as Hood pointed them out to Bookie and Crouch.  Acknowledging their presence with a raised hand and a half-smile he redirected his attention back to the cards at hand before a loud bang echoed out the room as Sawyer's head met his table.  Already halfway out his seat as Hood called out, he muttered "Yeah, yeah..." in disbelief of the situation. 

Making his over to the operator he calls out, "Sawyer, you okay there buddy?"
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Lesson Learned: When a girl you're courting says she's looking forward to a hot night on the town, that doesn't mean arson

Perius

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Re: Chapter 6: M.I.A.
« Reply #8 on: April 07, 2017, 02:46:13 PM »

Crouch laughs, rolling his eyes. "Nothing changes. I said pass a bowl, not throw it on the ground, yer lummox."
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Colonel Blood

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Re: Chapter 6: M.I.A.
« Reply #9 on: April 07, 2017, 04:31:21 PM »

Hood goes to his foot locker and rummages around before pulling a box out, wrapped in burlap. "Here we are. Got a box of zubans here I picked up from a trader on our last furlow. Straight from the cloud farms back on Elysia. They'll go great with a bia and whatever meds Sawyer is on at the moment." He opens the box and rolls one of the cigars around on his bushy moustache. "Ah! That's the stuff. Where's the flamer?"
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Bobitron

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Re: Chapter 6: M.I.A.
« Reply #10 on: April 13, 2017, 09:29:21 PM »

The smoke is just beginning to settle in a heavy cloud over the barracks when Fan chirps in on comms, his voice serious.



“LT needs you in briefing, 2nd.”



Hecate looks at her sweating mug of bia with a sigh. 



“Of course he does,” she says, gulping down the rest as she stands.

The squad crams into the tight confines of the FDC, the heat overwhelming. Gormund’s back is turned as he inspects a regional map, comparing it to the dataslate in his hands. When he turns around, his eyes stay locked down on the slate.



“Okay, listen up. Real problem developed overnight. 1st Squad missed three check-ins over the last 20 hours.”



1st Squad is the premier team in Pegasus. Led by the only Master Sergeant in the company, Frane "Deck" Decian, close confidant of Captain Gerek and the most veteran guardsman in the regiment. While Gormund holds rank over Deck, there’s little question about who commands more respect and holds more tactical acumen. Standard procedure is a check in every six hours. Even if there is nothing to report, just a click to confirm comms is required. Missing one check isn’t unheard of. Two would be incredibly rare. Missing three means disaster.



“Last contact was here, 95 km from Firebase Sparrow. That’s the far end of their patrol. They had just finished an overnight at some overrun ruins and were about to head back. The mission was routine. Just a patrol, long loop.”

Looking at the map, the patrol ran deep in the DMZ, but nothing that isn't done by Pegasus regularly.

“Their Valkyrie has done a flyover of the route these last three hours. I'm afraid he saw two bodies near the ruins, both ours. No PDF troops close enough, so we go in and get our own. Good landing spot a couple clicks out for dropping the Sentinel. I’d have you fast rope in, but the canopy is just too damn thick. Sour and Early will be ready in fifteen minutes, so you’ve got to hurry. Oh. Right. Mission designation is Crystal Pirate. 1st Squad is Wind, 2nd Squad is Sun. Deployment point is Table, undecided extract point is Halo. Canary is Doorman. Any questions?”
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Colonel Blood

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Re: Chapter 6: M.I.A.
« Reply #11 on: April 15, 2017, 05:12:09 AM »

"No sir." Hood goes way back with Decian. He is anxious to leave as soon as possible.
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Brother Anselm

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Re: Chapter 6: M.I.A.
« Reply #12 on: April 15, 2017, 07:48:32 AM »

Decian, The man was a legend, if he was in trouble and needed help, if this mission went south, it didn't bear thinking about. Scoot was up to the mission, he'd had a long rest, I'm good, I think...  Sawyer shifted uneasily in his seat.
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Padre

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Re: Chapter 6: M.I.A.
« Reply #13 on: April 17, 2017, 08:37:10 PM »

Zurk let out a long exhale at the news.  He never spoke with Decian personally, but from second-hand stories and accolades, the man was certainly held in high regards by most.

"Just one question sir," he chimed in a few moments after Hood.  "How many were out on patrol in 1st? I know you said we got two confirmed down, but how many are we looking for in total?"
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Lesson Learned: When a girl you're courting says she's looking forward to a hot night on the town, that doesn't mean arson

Bobitron

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Re: Chapter 6: M.I.A.
« Reply #14 on: April 17, 2017, 09:15:17 PM »

Gormund nods, flipping through a couple screens of info on his dataslate.

"Master Sergeant, second in command is Corporal Tillian. Looks like they went out light a couple, but still eight total."

Tee. Hearts sink as Tillian is mentioned. Talio “Tee” Tillian was a member of 2nd squad back on Kastorel-Novem. He moved to 1st during the restructuring when the company was nearly destroyed. The man saved Hood's life more than once. Used to stay up late letting Bookie blather on on whatever mildly heretical paperback he had managed to find. Treated Mara like a kid sister in need of protection even though she is a couple years his senior, which drove her nuts and the rest of the squad to laughter.
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Time flies like an arrow and fruit flies like a banana!
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