Updated 10.5.1998

Looking for a Dog (Part 2)

Röt Rafen Chapter 3

by Carlos Lourenco

Return to Bri's Science Fiction Collection


"Have you seen a gray dog here?" Asked Gerard.

"Ja, I believe he has settled in vit a neighbor."  Replied the other man. He had a thick German accent.

"Perhaps you can see that he gets his food?"

"I tink the dog ist being looked after quite vell."

With the bonafides over, Gerard relaxed a bit and held out a hand which the other man accepted.  I'm Captain Gerard. Come with us."

"Ich bin Max." He turned and gave a signal with his hand. Four men stood up from covered position behind him and quickly picked their way down.

"How many are you?"

"Only ze four you see. Und you?"

"Three." They followed Gerard back up to Kenny's position. Colin maintained his alertness. He knew Kenny would have the whole group under observation.

"That's all?"

"There are more but we have to link up with them."

They stopped short of Kenny's position and squatted under some cover.  "Are you in charge, Max?"

"Na, he grunted, and through a thumb over his shoulder at another squatting figure."

The man removed his cap and nodded at Gerard. "Feldwebel Giesik."

Gerard reached out and offered a hand, which the other man took. "Ok sergeant Giesik. If it's all right with you, I'd like to take us back to out patrol base, where the rest of the men are waiting. Then we can move out from there. How far are we from our destination?"

"Far." Said the man. "Lead on, Herr Hauptmann."  Gerard looked at Colin, who shrugged, and they stood up and moved. As they passed Kenny's position, he stood and joined in, much to the startlement of the Germans.

The small group quickly linked up with the rest of 946. Without much fanfare or conversation they headed off. Giesek and Max lead up front with Donner, providing the navigation. During a break, Gerard was able to extract a few bits of information from the stoic looking Giesik. The RV was ten kilometers away across broken terrain. They'd been hiding at their no location for several days, and yes, the Kra'Vak were actively engaged in hunting them down. That piece of information had been quickly disseminated the rest of the team. Giesik described the Kra'Vak occupation as "brutal", and casualties amongst the hastily formed resistance as "very heavy".  He also expressed his disappointment, that Gerard's small group was all that had arrived, saying it would require many more soldiers to defeat the hated aliens.

About an hour before dawn, the patrol had been moving steadily down hill across broken rocks. The terrain leveled off and they found themselves in an odd sort of "forest" of spongy moss and three meter high bushes, which grew with the uniformity of an orchard.  Overhead the aurora was going through a particularly active cycle, flaring bright green adding to the eerie scene.  Gerard  was fourth in the column, behind the two lead Germans and Donner. He was moving without NODS, as he had been discovered after about thirty minute's use, he began experiencing eyestrain. Anyhow, the flashing lights above provided enough illumination to see well enough.

Donner stopped abruptly ahead of him. No hand signal was passed back, but Gerard quickly held up his hand signifying a halt, then peered ahead to see what was the hold up.  He could see the two point men frozen in place. Gerard quickly flipped down his NODs and in the green lit scene he could see the two Germans standing still, their weapons at the ready. Just ahead lay several bushy clumps on the  moss carpet. One  of the shapes suddenly grew to a humanoid shaped figure and the front of the column erupted into firing. Gerard fell to the ground and brought his weapon up.. He called for a break contact drill, then realized the Germans might not know what that is.  It sounded like someone was cracking a large whip right over his head as rounds flew past in both directions.

"Man down! Man Down!" yelled Donner, who crawled forward and grabbed one of the laying Germans, who had obviously been hit. The other German assisted.

"Peel! Peel!" Announced Gerard. Donner and the other German, each grabbing a part of the fallen man's web harness, dragged their burden past Gerard to the rear of the column. Gerard, in keeping with the drill, fired on full automatic, only partly aiming at the flashes and clumps on the ground where the action had initiated. Suppressive fire and establishing overwhelming fire superiority was the desired effect here. Once the two men were well clear, he rolled on his side, got up, and dashed to the rear, careful to stay to the inside of the cigar-shaped perimeter his team had formed. Gerard zig zagged, careful to keep low. Several flashes tore at the ground near his feet. In his head he said: I'm up, they see me, I'm down!, then he hit the ground and rolled into a firing position. He then rolled to the opposite direction and repeated the quick rush, passing the next man in the formation. Once he was behind the cover of rocks he moved quickly to the rear of the formation, passing Lawrence at  rear security. He could see the team sergeant preparing several grenades, per team SOP.  Gerard moved ten meters past him and set up his firing position. He was pleased at the high volume of fire the team was sending at their unseen enemy. It sounded like a whole company.  That was meant to discourage any would-be pursuers.  Sharp, odd metallic cracks of enemy return fire punctuated the din. Brooks ran past him and set up to the rear. Frament passed him also, heading right for the casualty. In the Peel, each man in turn would fire off a full clip of ammunition using a high rate of fire, then turn and "peel" back along the center of the formation to the rear. Eventually the whole team would have displaced back. This maneuver would be repeated until they were clear of the threat.

"What's the status on the casualty? Who is it?" Asked Gerard.

"It's that guy Max." Said Frament.

"How is he?"

"Forget it, he's dead. He's got a hole clear through his chest the size of my fist. I can see right through it! But the other guy's hit too, the Corporal. Caught something in the side, I'm working it now."

"Make it quick, you guys need to displace again!"

"Give me thirty seconds for a quick patch. Donner, give me a hand with him!"

Giesik had not even noticed he'd been hit until they had set Max down. Then a sharp burning pain in his side had nearly doubled him over. "Wait, Wait, you must take Max. We cannot leave ze body. Ze enemy must not get his body."

"Fuck!" Said Frament, applying a  thick abdominal pad to the bloody trench in Giesik's side. Another inch and he would have had his guys spilled.  "Don't worry about your buddy. we'll get him. You are a lucky fucker!" As Miner ran by, Frament lucked up. "Eric! Pick up that body, we gotta take it outta here."

Miner skidded to a halt on the moss. "You're kidding?

"No. Do it! Donner, give him a hand."

"Eric, drop your ruck, I got it." Miner hit the quick release on his rucksack's carrying straps and the ruck fell to the ground. Behind them the firing increased as Freeman laid down a sheet of suppressive fire with the SAW. Miner hoisted the body on his shoulder, then grabbed his rifle.  Donner slung Miner's ruck over the top of his, balancing it on his shoulder and followed Miner as they moved to the rear.

"Just head back to the last rally point and get a perimeter going there", said Gerard.

"On the way."

"OK. We're ready to move", announced Frament. "Can you get up and walk?"

"Uhh, Ja, I think so."

"Here, give me your rifle and lean on me." The two rose and hobbled to the rear.

Charlie readied three APDs (Anti-Pursuit Devices). As the last man passed by him, on of the Germans, he twisted the upper and lower hemispheres of the spherical device and tossed it underhand about ten meters ahead. It rolled to a stop and popped out  a number of nearly invisible monofilament lines five meters in either direction. Anyone stepping on one of those lines would be in for a nasty surprised. As he turned to run, he dropped the second APD at his feet. During he teams second bound he dropped off the third.

As he ran passed Gerard he took a quick knee  "I don't think we're being followed let's haul ass to the rally point."

"All right, let's do it. Everybody up, let's move, move, move. Back to the last rally point." They ran off  to the rear, each man huffing and puffing, exhausted from the unexpected encounter. Behind them an explosion announced the end of an APD.

Charlie and Freeman kept up rear security, bounding back while the other covered. They heard yet one more explosion, then silence, save for their own labored breathing. five minutes and four hundred meters later they were back at the RV. The rest of the men had already set up a perimeter, with Gerard, Frament, and the casualties in the center. As Charlie entered he called for an ACE report (Ammunition Casualties, Equipment). Everyone reported "up!", having gone through nearly two magazines of ammunition.

"Doesn't sound like they're following us, but that doesn't really mean much. They could have called for help, or they could be stalking. Either way we gotta move out of here. How's he doing?" Charlie nodded over to Giesik.

"It's not fatal but he's in great pain. We're going to have to carry him." Frament was bolising an IV into the man to make up for the lost blood. "The other guy is dead."

"Well, who else knows where we are going?"

Giesik, grimacing in pain, said something in German to one of his men. "This one will take you."

"OK, good. Are you ready to move?"

"Ja."

"Well, let's get going, as soon as we find someplace secure, we'll bury the body. We can't carry him with us forever. Did anyone even get a good look at those things?"

"Not really", said Miner. "I couldn't get a clear view. Just fired at shapes."

    "Chuck, check it out." Mellor twisted his torso towards Lawrence and held a canteen out from his webgear. It was dripping water, partly torn away by a round.    "Something almost got me. I felt a tug."

"Looks like they came close to tearing you a new asshole."

Molitoris fished the telescopic poles for a stretcher out of his ruck, extended them, and slipped over the canvas webbing. They laid Giesik down upon it. The man grimaced at every move. Colin gave him a shot of morphine.  One of the Germans, Molitoris, Mellor, and Brooks each grabbed an end of the stretcher and lifted.

They moved off at a quick pace, perpendicular to their original route, determined to put as much distance between themselves and the chance encounter before the daybreak. Donner and the German pointman led off, followed by Gerard, then the stretcher party, with Frament, Miner with the body, with Lawrence and Freeman on rear security. Charlie swore to himself as the struggles under the new burdens, Christ, fucked up already...

Röt Hafen
24 July, 2193,  0015 local

946 endured a grueling 6 hour movement with their additional burdens. It appeared they weren't being followed though no one knew why. Either they had killed all the Kra'Vak, or had sent them scurrying. It was clear that both sides had stumbled upon each other. Lawrence hoped the small patrol had not had an opportunity to get off a message.

They rested for 6 hours. During that time they buried Max, making movement a bit easier. They set off again at dusk. The German on point was not forthcoming when pressed with question like "how long until we reach our destination?", or, "what are  the coordinates of the base". At midnight, the patrol halted for a quick rest.

After fifteen minutes Gerard was anxious to get moving and directed the point element to do so. The German, sitting on his haunches, just shook his head. He didn't know much English, but grinned and said, "Vee vait hier."

"Why?" asked Gerard.

"You see."

Several minutes later, Donner heard movement and give the signal to take cover. The patrol waited tensely, and the lead German stood up and flashed a tiny red light. Two flashes returned. He looked back at Gerard.

"Unserer männer." Our men.

Four dark shapes emerged, and Gerard saw they were equipped in the same non descript manner as the other NSL party. One man went up to Gerard.

"You are ze leader?"

"Yes."

"How many in zis party?"

"Twelve."

"Hmmph. Follow us please."

He led them down a narrow ravine. They passed several sentries up in the rocks above the ravine.  Eventually they came top a small opening I the rocks, a cave. Two more men were waiting for them there. The leader of the party counted in each man as he passed through the opening. Another man beckoned for them to follow. It was pitch black, and everyone activated their NODs.

They had gone about 50 meters when they saw a glow in one wall, as they approached the glow intensified and they switched off their NODs. Yet more Sentries waited at the opening and once again the patrol was counted through one at a time. Gerard noted to himself that security was tight, which spoke well for their professionalism.  They moved into a lighted chamber. Inside were a half dozen men, gathered in a semi circle. One stepped forward.

"Who's in charge?" He said in good English.

Gerard stepped forward. "Captain Thomas Gerard, multinational forces, at your service, Sir."

The other man took it. I am Walter Matthais, Partisan Commander. Former Shift Sergeant in the Colonial Polezei. Good to see you." Matthais was tall and lanky, perhaps six five, with an angry red scar which started at his jaw and curved up to his right temple, ending just before  a crop of bushy black hair.

"Do your men require anything Captain?"

"We have your Corporal Giesik in a stretcher, wounded in an encounter with the Kra'Vak. I'm afraid your man Max is dead. We buried him about ten kilometers from here."

Matthais frowned. "Were you followed?"

"As well as we could tell, no" The German point man corroborated the story.

"I guess we could use a refill on water, and if this is where we will be staying, then we'd like to know where we will be setting up. We also need power to set up our powercell recharger. Do you have a generator?"

"Not here. Given you encounter with the Kra'Vak, I think it is best we move on to an alternate site. We will be leaving in two hours. My men will see to your needs. Until then  you and I should talk."

"I'd like you to meet Master Sergeant Charlie Lawrence. He's the senior NCO on  the team, and that's Sergeant First Class Ken Mellor, my intelligence NCO. I'd like for them to join us."

"Of course. Right this way, if you will." They moved into another chamber which had a small camp light, a pack, a small foldable camp stool, and a large flat rock with a map opened upon it."

"I was beginning to doubt whether we'd ever see you, Captain. We've had no offworld communications for days."

The three Special Forces soldiers dropped their rucks and used them as seats, gathered around the map. "Yes, well your contact ship had to warp out to get us for the insertion. She should be back on station now. We have a scheduled contact with them in a few nights. Can you give us a brief update on your situation, Commander?"

"Yes. As you know, on the 27th, Kra'vak forces appeared in orbit, ambushing our fleet units and destroying them. They also made quick work of our orbital defenses, meager as they were. However, we were given ample warning to prepare.  Something like this was always a possibility given our ongoing war with the FSE, so we did have some contingency plans on the planet. The Kra'vak took station in orbit and proceeded to destroy most all satellites and ships in orbit. Apparently they occupied the Station at Z5. That is the only one which has not been destroyed. They then nuked every settlement on the planet except for Röt Hafen, though oddly enough they have not interfered with the atmosphere processing stations or mining facilities."

"This orbital bombardment was followed up with an occupation force. They quickly overcame our meager defenses and dealt harshly with anyone who resisted. I tell you Captain, these creatures are absolutely brutal. Many fled Röt Hafen. Most were hunted down and killed but enough of us survived to set up a small resistance band. We have been observing the Kra'vak and reporting back our contact in orbit."

"Have you conducted any raids against them? asked Mellor.

"Just once. We ambushed a patrol on the outskirts of the city and stole some of their equipment. They conducted a horrific string of reprisals. They rounded up over one hundred men, women, and children, killed them, and impaled their bodies on poles at the sight where the ambush took place. At that point we decided not to conduct any more direct actions."

"Do you know what their intentions are?"

"It is difficult to discern, however one thing is clear. They intend to stay. They have recently reinforced the garrison here and have been conducting major construction and modifications to the local starport and shipyards."

"What kind of construction?"

Difficult to say. I am no expert on alien technology, but we had two escapees from the slave labor force they are using. Conditions amongst the workers are harsh. Our two escapees believe they are building maintenance facilities on the planet. Perhaps they intend to build a logistical base here."

"You say Slave labor. Does that mean the Kra'Vak are able to communicate with humans?" Asked Mellor.

"Yes and no. They have the ability to communicate with their work force, but I'm ashamed to admit that they are actually working through human overseers. It appears that certain criminal elements on the planet were either contacted or came forward and are actually running the administration of the slave force in return for special privileges. It makes me sick to my stomach that someone would actually betray their own race."

"How many people do you have in your band and what have your operations been?"

"We have almost one hundred fighters and another two hundred elderly, children and infirm. Not here of course but at other locations. We are fortunate that  we have some of the surveying team and engineers amongst our group, who are aware a little enclaves that were reconstructed during the early days of colonization, most abandoned. We keep our force moving."

"As for our operations: Predominantly reconnaissance, keeping tabs on their movements, looking for additional survivors, and waiting for you. What is your mission?"

"We're here to collect and report intelligence. We are particularly interested in a detailed Kra'vak OB, as well as ascertaining exactly what they're up to. We have some areas we need to conduct reconnaissance of. I'm afraid we don't really know what the multinational command has in store for Röt Hafen. Surely you can appreciate that operational Security measures demanded that we were kept out of the follow-on planning loop. But I'm sure it is something big." Gerard grinned.

"We will cooperate in anyway we can. For now, I suggest you rest since we will be moving shortly. We have about a two hour movement to our next location. You can stay here. I need to go attend to some details."

"Very well, Commander." Matthais left. They gathered closer around the map.

"Pretty gruesome, huh?" Mention Charlie.

"No shit." Said Gerard.

"Well, in the morning we get to work. First thing we should do is get those LZ/DZ site surveys done."

"Right. You and I can get those missions organized and out the door as quickly as possible. Kenny, you work with their guys and collect and collate all the intel we gathered. Work up a good OB on the enemy. Then work with Brooks to prepare the message for our next contact."

Kenny sat silently, obviously deep in thought, staring at the map. "You know what I want?"

"What?" Asked Gerard.

"I want to have a little chat with one of those overseers. That's gonna be key to our intel gathering."

"We talking a snatch here?" Asked Gerard.

"Yup."

"Hmm," thought Gerard. "Sounds very risky."

"Think of the intel benefits! I mean, these guys are actually communicating with the Kra'vak on a regular basis. The first humans to do so. You want to find out enemy intentions. What better source?"

"I don't like it, we can't risk compromising this mission by exposing ourselves to that much risk."

"What the hell you talking about, Sir? We need to talk to one of those rat bastards. That'll equal a month of snoop and poop."

"How the hell are we supposed to get in there."

"I'll work with the partisans on this one. I'm sure Matthais would love to get his hands on one of those guys."

"I don't know. If one of those guys goes missing, you know there will be civilian reprisals."

"Can't make an omelet of you don't break a few eggs."

"Yeah, whatever, lets say if you think that when you see some three year old skewered on a stick."

"Look, Sir. We need that intel. I know the price is high. I have a three year old. But without this intel, we have a huge vital hole in our intelligence picture. Besides, put it up to Matthais, see what he says."

Gerard frowned, worry lines creasing his forehead. He looked over to Lawrence. "I don't know, what do you think?"

"Fuck it, I say we do it. Who dares wins."

Aboard the KRS Köhl
Unknown Space, approximately 25 light years from Röt Hafen
24 July, 2193, 1000 ship's time

"You must be joking?"

"I wish I was Herr Kapitän, but it is true. The external power coupling to the boat bay was bleeding emissions. We found the damage to the shielding which could have occurred during our initial warp.  The cable was probably a sub-standard part. This could very well have led to a compromise in our cloaking system. While not a major leak, it could have been enough if one was looking in the right area. Especially if they noticed the shuttle being deployed." The assistant. chief engineer, did not look very comfortable.

"Is it repairable?" Asked Hauser.

"Possibly, Herr Kapitän. However I recommend that we just remove the whole assembly. After all we no longer have a shuttle to hide or deploy, do we?"

"Good point. Make it so." Hauser scratched his eyes and reached for his coffee mug. It was a long day. "Number one, run down the status of other repairs."

"Yes, Herr Kapitän. The jump drive is back on line. It will work just fine. We have a good fix on our location and have already worked up a solution for reinsertion to Röt Hafen in order to pick up the mail. The main drive is just now back on line. We had to replace the entire fuel flow control unit and mixture sensor, but testing, so far, shows  that it is operational. We will be completed with final testing within two hours. The three aft engineering spaces have been cleaned up, and all components which suffered damage in he fire have been replaced or repaired."

"Good."

"The one system not operational yet is the cloaking subsystem. The emission lattice in the aft quadrant of the ship was damaged when we were hit. It's taking longer to repair and fabricate new lattice as needed. Also we are removing the entire shuttle mount assembly since it's no longer needed and degrades our cloaking performance anyway, bad power coupling or not."

"Well, when do you anticipate being back on line with the cloaking system."

"We have about two more hours of work, then three hours of testing. Then we need to put the Köhl through an entire shipwide systems diagnostic."

"Very well, Number One. I want this ship ready for transit by 2000. Navigation, I want you to plan on a three-jump return cycle. I'm looking for  precise accuracy in our jumps here. The last one should put us just inside of minimum safe jump distance from Röt Hafen. We jump in, check the mail, then leave."

"And if they've gotten our satellite," asked Hrabek.

"It's all in the communications annex of he plan, Number One." Hauser thumbed through the document to the appropriate section, then read aloud. "In the event of a missed scheduled contact. Procedure will be to attempt to make contact exactly 24 hours later. If that is missed, then the next scheduled contact will be used. Failure to make two scheduled contacts and their back ups will result in the assumption that the mission has been compromised and the team has entered the Escape and Evasion net."

Hauser looked around at his staff. "Anyone have any further questions?" There were none. "Good, then dismissed."

Hrabek hung back in the room and waited for the others to leave. She shut hatch after the last exited. "Paul, you realize the grave risk we take going back so early. It's a safe assumption that they know what we were up to in system. It is an awful risk."

"I agree, Anika." Began Hauser. "Nevertheless, getting those transmissions and getting them back to the task force is the whole purpose of our mission. Without that intelligence, this whole endeavor is a failure."

"Understood. I just wanted to point out that us getting killed ensures failure of the mission also."

"Point taken. And your suggestion?"

"We extend our stay here an additional twenty-four hours. Spend the time on some further modifications and improvements to the cloaking system. Cut the jumps down to two. I have faith in our young navigation officer to put us on the mark."

Hauser sat back in his seat sipping coffee. He removed his dirty white Captain's cap and scratched his scalp through his unkempt hair. "You realize you are cuttng it close regarding picking up the mail?"

"Maybe so, but we will make it."

"Very well. I agree. Make it so."

"Jawohl Herr Kapitän!" Hrabek winked at Hauser and left him alone in the room. Hauser browsed through the mission operations order as he enjoyed the last dregs of his coffee.

 

NAI (Named Area of Interest) 002
Röt Hafen
25July, 2193, 1400 local

Frament read down the DZ site survey checklist to the next item: "Obstacles."

"So for obstacles, I got a gully that runs along the northeast corner of the DZ. I'd say it's about 150 meters in length."

"Width and depth?"

"What and I a fucking magician?" Asked Miner. "Wait till Hans gets back with the measurement."

Colin put down his datapad and affected an annoyed look. "Look for the second time, the guy's name is not Hans, it's Rudi."

"Whatever, as far as I'm concerned all these schwabs are named Hans." Eric twirled his bushy red moustache.

"Nice way to build rapport, Sergeant."

"Actually, you know who that guy reminds me of?"

"Who?"

"Steve Topp."

"What? You mean the guy in C Company?"

"Yup. You know he used to be in Company A?"

"Musta been before my time."

"Yeah it was back in '87. He worked in headquarters as the space movement NCO." Eric chuckled to himself. "He was a funny guy."

"I only know who he is, don't really know much about him."

"Check this out. One day, him, Max Delsignore, and me were running PT out by the officers housing area on post. We had just run by the post commander's mansion. So all the sudden Topp starts grabbing his belly. I'm like, what the fuck, over?"

"He goes 'guys I gotta take a shit real bad. Wait up for me'.  Me and Max just shrug and tell him to hurry up. So there we are, me and Max, jogging in circles in that little tiny park on that's at the entrance to the General's Mansion, running in circles like two idiots while Steve's in a corner behind the park bench in the bushes doing his business."

"Anyways, he finally finishes up then realizes he doesn't have any shit paper! Here we are in our PT gear with nothing to help him out with. Quite a dilemma."

"Yes it would seem so", commented Frament.

"Then all of the sudden, Steve sees little kitten coming towards him all friendly like. It had a tag so it musta belonged to one of the families from housing. Heck, maybe even the General! So he calls to it, all friendly, and coaxes it over, then grabs it by the neck."

"Suddenly it dawns on me, and I'm going: 'Steve, for chrissakes, what are ya doing?' He looks around all guilty like and says Shut up! Then proceeds to wipe his ass with the cat."

"Godů"said Colin laughing.

"When he's done he tosses the thing aside and it's like all stiff and annoyed looking arching it's back all disgusted like. I swear to god it was the funniest thing. Steve didn't think anything of it. It was the damnedest thing I ever saw."

Colin fell over onto his side grasping his sides unable to breathe he was laughing so hard. Miner kicked him in the side. "For chrissakes will you shut the fuck up. I would remind you we're like a million light years behind enemy lines!"

Colin regained his composure, picked up his datapad and brushed himself off. He was still chuckling. "Oh my God that's some funny shit."

"Yeah, Steve was a riot. How many people can say they wiped their ass with the Post Commanders cat? So anyway, let's get back to this DZ survey, shall we?"

"Hey, you started the story not me."

"Here comes Hans."

"Rudi!"

"Oh yeah, right."

The third man in their little recon party, Rudi, was one of the members of Mathais' partisan group. "I have ze measurements."

"Good, lets finish up this survey so we can get back."

Wiederstandstelle 24
Röt Hafen
25July, 2193, 2300

946 were safely tucked away in their new hideout, another underground cave complex ceremoniously dubbed a "resistance post".  The team was given it's own section and Mellor had converted one chamber into an operations room adorned with maps, boxes of paperwork and data disks, a small holo-projector and his notebook computer. Working with Mathais' operations officer, Mills, he collated all the intelligence that had been collected by Mathaius' band. To that he was now adding the Site surveys. The last of the teams had gotten in 30 minutes previous. Now the captain was anxious for an update. Gerard, Lawrence and Matthais, as well as Mills were gathered in front of Ken.

"OK, at this point we've done all four LZ/DZ surveys. At a glance all of them are technically suitable but two of them have potentially hazardous obstacles for drop troops while one is not suitable for anything larger than a 30-ton lander. Of course when we get a good picture of enemy forces in reaction times then we can make a better recommendation as to the suitability of these DZs. Mister Mills hooked me up with one guy in the band worked for the meteorology office here so he's been hooking me up on the weather data we need to complete the picture."

"What about these reconnaissance patrols you wish to take to Röt Hafen?" Asked Matthais.

    "We'd like to launch those late tomorrow morning." Said Mellor.

Gerard continued. "Sergeant Lawrence and myself have been working out the details. As you know, we've been mandated to observe these locations by our mission orders. We have made some minor modifications to the locations based on the current situation and a more accurate picture of the terrain." Kenny used to Holo-projector to display the sites. "One has a good view of the spaceport, one the capitol building, and one will observe the main road as it crossed a deep valley into Röt Hafen. Based on the information your Mister Mills provided, we are shifting the last team to observe the Kra'Vak enclave here, between the capitol building and the space port The men you assigned to our reconnaissance teams today were instrumental in getting our teams out and back so quickly. We'd like to keep them working together if that's all right with you?"

Matthais leaned forward in his seat, his elbows on his knees, cigarette in one hand. "I don't have a problem with that. As I said, we're here to support you. Anything that rids us of these pigs as quickly as possible, we will do."

    "Well, I'm glad you say that, Sir, because we are going to need your support on an additional operation we are planning." Said Mellor.

"Which is?"

"We need to capture one of the slave overseers that the Kra'Vak are working through."

Matthais puffed on his cigarette staring at the map, thinking. "No. This cannot be done. They are too well guarded."

"Believe me, this mission will be well planned out."

"Makes no difference. They all live within the Kra'Vak enclave. You cannot get in there. And when you try, and fail, this will result in the deaths of many, many civilians."

Mellor joined in. "Matthais, you said yourself, anything that can help get rid of these aliens you would do. Well here it is. We need to find out Alien intentions. What better way than by snatching one of these guys? They'll know the purpose and extend of construction. If they are living in the enclave like you say, they may know enemy defenses, capability, and intentions. It's too valuable of a resource not to pass up. They have exactly the information we need to pass back to our superiors. Without them it could take a month to gather half the intel."

"How are you going to get in? How are you going to find one of them?"

"We don't have to get in. We'll take him on one of the job sites. What we need is some detailed surveillance from within the city of several of their worksites. Then we'll piece together target, time and place. I've already drawn up and preliminary collection plan for the data I need. Some of it will come from the four recon teams we're setting up."

"What will you do with this person after you get him?"

"Interrogate him for every last piece of information we can."

"Then what?"

Gerard saw what he was leading to. "I think it would be best if we turned him over to UN authorities for War Crimes Trů."

Lawrence grabbed Gerard arm and squeezed shaking his head. "We'll turn him over to you."

Mathaius nodded his head at that, the first indication that he found anything favorable in the plan. He looked at Mills. Mills nodded imperceptibly. "Regardless of what you say, this will result in reprisals against the civilian population."

"We can make it look like an accident."

Even Mellor looked at him askew. "Sir, we can't guarantee that."

"That's right. Many innocent people will die because of this." Said Matthais.

"That's why we are putting it up to you". Said Lawrence "It's ultimately your decision. We've told you how important this is. Now it's time to make the tough decision."

Matthaius stood slowly, staring intently at the ground, contemplating all he'd heard.  He dropped his cigarette and rubbed it out slowly with his heel. Exhaling his last puff, he walked slowly for the exit, stopping at the door and turning to the group.

"One thing. When you turn him over to me, he' needs to be conscious and capable of feeling pain." With that he was gone. Mellor felt a chill in his spine.


The story continues in Looking for Trouble, chapter 4 of Röt Hafen

 


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