November 27, 2434
Barren, Mitchell D., 2nd Lieutenant
4th Fleet, 4th Fleet Security Forces (FSF)
The last week has been quite intense. After further investigation, looks like the last controller we captured was able to fire off a distress call before we were able to fully sever all of the planetary communications. Furthermore, because he knew we were coming, he was able to escape his stronghold with some of his defense forces.
We ended up capturing him eventually, but it took the better part of the week. We were unable to sneak up and catch the defenders protecting the site. They knew we were coming so they were in prepared defensive positions. We had to fight our way in and there were some casualties.
Our Marine contingent accompanied us for support, once we realized there wasn’t going to be a quiet way in. No one was killed but a few of the Marines were wounded, one serious. We were able to stabilize him in time but it is unsure as to whether or not he will ever walk again.
Overwhelming the defenders and taking control of the facility only took a little over an hour and most of that was spent getting into position for the assault. Once we were inside, that was when our troubles began. The controller was gone. Fortunately for us, they didn’t do a good enough job of scrubbing their communications so we were able to deduce that they were still somewhere on the planet. The bad news was the planet is huge.
Not much bigger than Earth so the gravitational difference was noticeable but manageable. Even so, Earth is pretty big too. Searching for an individual on a planet this size was a pain. Especially when you consider the fact that we were down a few Marines and our team wasn’t exactly massive, to begin with.
We had to split into the smallest groups possible so we could cover the most ground. The CSS Mako did the best they could to support the search from above but that ship wasn’t built for that kind of support. We had a few things working for us. We had plenty of time and we know there weren’t any air, ground, or water vehicles on the planet.
The communication data we uncovered indicated that pickup was not possible until the GFI assault on our solar system was able to stabilize a defensive line that would allow for one of their ships to detach and come retrieve them. That gave us more than enough time, so long as our forces keep pushing the GFI position back.
As for the vehicles, the Mako may not be able to pick up readings on something as small as the life of a person without knowing where the target is first, vehicles give off so much more heat that if any vehicle were to be used, it would set off the Mako’s sensor’s and we would know where the vehicle was and what direction it was heading.
Lastly, one of my men spotted tracks heading away from the installation. I had him take a Marine fire team with him and they followed the trail for about two miles to see if they could find traces of any kind of vehicle. They found nothing but footprints. A good sign for us.
It still took us a few days to catch up, but fortunately, they were too rushed to cover their tracks. Also, we got lucky. The weather on the planet, according to the readings we eventually got through at the GFI installation, indicated that the weather on the planet could get pretty nasty. During the few days we tracked them, the weather held off and the prints were not destroyed or hidden from us.
When we finally caught up, we found that the controller had a two-man security detail with him. We drew their fire but given the amount of firepower and support we had versus theirs, we just let them burn through their munitions. I had my men and the Marines close the distance as slowly and safely as possible. It took time and we were concerned that the detail might execute the controller before we got to him, but that was just as much of a risk if we would have hurried.
You know me, Dad. I couldn’t care less about the prize if it meant risking the safety of my men. We eventually captured the three of them and I faced some scrutiny because of my approach but the Marine Lieutenant had my back. He wholeheartedly supported my decision to take it slow. We managed to capture the target and there were no further casualties.
It sounds like other teams had similar issues. The GFI finally issued a warning to their controllers to maintain a better visual on any potentially approaching vessels and the controllers headed the warning. FleetCom claims that our casualties were minimal, compared to what was at stake and what we were able to come out of the operation with. Maybe they are right. I disagree.
One of the assault teams lost half their Marine attachment, killed or wounded, and another of our ARRC teams was completely wiped out in their assault. The controller wired the entire installation with some kind of explosive. An investigation is underway. It is unknown whether or not the controller was in the facility. I would appreciate it if you edit this paragraph out of the letter (at least) before reading it to Mom.
I am exhausted and have some reports to file. I just wanted to give you a heads up. Please give everyone my best. I miss you all so much and hope that I get a chance to come home and see you soon.