Letter XXXVI

February 12, 2435

Barren, Mitchell D., 2nd Lieutenant

4th Fleet, 4th Fleet Security Forces (FSF)

Dear Dad,

This has been quite a week.  My team ended up doing something we didn’t think we would ever be doing again.  We were actually called upon to arrest some of our own. Fortunately for us, none of the Fleet members had much combat training so it was a fairly peaceful affair, all things considered.

FleetCom dispatched us to investigate a situation.  We had no complaints. It was actually nice to be back on a law enforcement mission.  We are getting a little rusty, but the recon training definitely came in handy. Given how much action we have been seeing, this was almost like a vacation.

Intelligence picked up on a specific unit that kept order large quantities of combat equipment after each engagement.  Normally, that would not be cause for concern. You know how war can be. Equipment gets damaged or destroyed and needs to be replaced.  Unfortunately for these guys and girls, they were consistently over ordering.

An investigation was conducted discretely and it was discovered from combat logs and reports that they were consistently ordering the same quantities over what was needed.  After further inquiry, it was also learned that a few of the logistics officers had bank accounts that were inconsistent with their grade and time in service.

My team was dispatched to follow them on their leave.  They didn’t want anyone in uniform or overly obvious to see what they were up to.  They moved the extra weapons and equipment off base at the beginning of their leave and I have to admit, they definitely have a brass pair between their legs.  They loaded it all up into a truck and drove it right off the base and directly to where they were storing it.

We decided to follow FleetCom’s advice and we posted our Marine team at the storage location while my team followed the officers.  They had no tact whatsoever. It was almost embarrassing but it was also nice to have things so easy for a change.

The two idiots went straight to the buy location and we were able to observe and record the entire transaction.  We were able to identify the buyers, who we later learned were operatives working for GFI units nearby, and once the transaction was completed and the buyers left, we took the two officers into custody.

The buyers were a slightly different story.  There were four of them and they decided that coming quietly was not an option.  We wanted to take them all into custody as well but ended up with only two, one if you don’t count the guy that is now in a coma.

I instructed the Marines to take them if possible but I don’t play that “at all costs” bull shit.  I told them to do what they had to do but I don’t want any casualties on our side. I am glad that there were no Fleet casualties.

Given the situation, the Fleet logistics officers and everyone involved in this ring is being charged with treason and be treated as such.  Aggressive interrogations are being conducted and my team will be following up on all of the information gathered so, at this point, my team and our Marines are standing by for information and a mission update.

I can’t believe that.  Fleet officers selling weapons.  It isn’t like they are underpaid, to begin with.  They are officers. Greedy bastards. All in all, we recovered enough weapons and equipment to arm about a company of GFI soldiers so we really need to find where they are operating.

The installation on this planet has more than enough Marines and defensive systems to deal with any kind of attack, but we would rather not wait for them to come to us.  FleetCom wants to always be the one to throw the first punch and I am inclined to agree. They sucker punched us a few months back and now, we don’t want to give any of them enough time to wind up and do it again.

There is no telling when I am going to be able to return to Outpost 86.  Things are starting to really pick up out here. The new direction FleetCom is taking is starting to be felt on a massive scale.  Unit activity is on the rise and so are the casualty numbers. Orders are orders but it is still a pretty tough pill to swallow.

Once we are done here, we are loading back up on the CSS Mako and heading towards another GFI outpost roughly 36 hours travel from Outpost 27.  I believe we will be doing a quick re-arm and ship re-fit at Outpost 27 before we join the 3rd Fleet Battle Group that has been tasked with destroying all GFI forces on the planet.

Time for me to go.  The officers and our GFI prisoner broke a lot faster than was expected.  Not entirely surprising. The logistics people are nothing more than a bunch of overtrained bean and bullet counters.  I will write again soon. Please give my best to everyone and let Mom know I love her and am always thinking about her.

Love,

Mitch

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Letter XXXV

February 5, 2435

Barren, Mitchell D., 2nd Lieutenant

4th Fleet, 4th Fleet Security Forces (FSF)

Dear Dad,

We have only been at this new strategy for a week and it is already getting a lot of people frustrated.  Search and destroy might be a good sub-strategy which would contribute to a much larger plan to end the war, but ending the war on its own seems so naive.  

It is like we are playing that old children’s game where you have a soft little beater thing and you hit those animals on the head that pop up from the ground.  I think it was called whack something. One of those old ground animals that went extinct. For some reason, I can’t remember what they were called. You get the point though right?

Over the last week, we have been able to locate several different enemy outposts on two different planets.  As soon as we were done with the second, we gained access to their computer and communication systems and saw they had received a message from the planet we had previously cleared while we were en route to their position about what had happened.

We went back to the planet we were previously on and, sure enough, the outpost had been reoccupied.  They are talking about potentially leaving behind troops from the Army whenever we finish with a planet but we do not have the resources to effectively execute that kind of campaign.

It is wearing my team out a lot faster than our previous directives.  My men are getting nowhere near the amount of rest I am comfortable with and my requests for a re-evaluation of this strategy are falling on deaf ears.  You have friends still positioned throughout the fleet that would listen to you Dad.

Could you please reach out to some of them and try to get them to see that this is a failing strategy that is going to exhaust the men and resources we have before anything good comes of it.  I am not asking that they give anything up. I am asking that they reconsider staying with the previous plan. It was slow, I know, but given the time, it was the smarter and safer strategy.

It utilized our resources much more efficiently and would cost much less life than the current plan.  We may have a considerably larger Army, Marine forces, and Fleet, but that doesn’t make this a war of attrition that we can win.  Even technology is only a minuscule advantage for us in this conflict.

Everything else is going fine.  My team did the best job they could with the resources available.  I am lucky to have them. Our team of Marines has also been fantastic.  They even saved my team from getting our asses handed to us on a few occasions because of this new strategy.  My team is for recon and rescue. Before that, we were security and protection. This people hunting trash is really starting to piss us off.

We were thrown into an assault plan that was a disaster, to begin with, and things only got worse from the first shot fired.  Obviously, my team does not mess up when it comes to navigation. The same cannot be said for the Army platoon’s butter bar idiot that we were assigned to support.

We went the correct route, the Army platoon did not.  We ended up getting cut off from the main assault force and we were surrounded by the enemy.  It was just the four of us, fending off assaults and capture attempts for nearly 11 hours. We managed to make contact with our Marine team and they were able to eventually fight their way to our position.

No permanent or major physical damage, but everyone did receive several small cuts, bruises, and my second had a close call with an incoming shot that nicked his cheek, just under his right eye.  He was inches away from redecorating the surrounding vegetation and being the first casualty under my command. That is more than I can say for the Army.

It was too damn close Dad.  It was too close and there was no gain from it.  That was one of the many outposts that the GFI reoccupied as soon as we left.  We are fairly sure that the entire planet was empty when we left. We did all surface scans possible.  There were no signs of life that weren’t supposed to be there. There are too many reasons that could be the case and my team does not have to tools or the training to investigate beyond that.

Bottom line, this strategy is going to fail and FleetCom needs to re-evaluate before the disaster becomes irreversible.  They won’t listen to me. Not only am I a new Lieutenant to them, but I am also an officer that did not attend any formalized academy that would gain their respect or willingness to listen.  Please reach out to them.

I have to go now, we are on our way to a new planet and it is time to gear up.  Take care Dad. Tell Mom that I love her and your letters are what is keeping me going out here.

Love,

Mitch

Letter XXXIV

January 29, 2435

Barren, Mitchell D., 2nd Lieutenant

4th Fleet, 4th Fleet Security Forces (FSF)

Dear Dad,

I have an update for you and it is not as good as I was hoping.  All leave is suspended until FleetCom is satisfied that current hostilities are dealt with.  The news outlets are all reporting that the lines have stabilized for the most part but who are they actually fooling?

Warfare will never be what it used to be when it was restricted to the surface of only one planet.  People can draw all the lines they want. The GFI may be a little more hesitant to fly through certain sectors in space but both sides know space is far too vast for the Coalition to effectively monitor all of it.

We are seeing plenty of clashes in and out of areas that were supposedly controlled by either us or them.  Those lines are a joke. The GFI attack may have been completely thwarted but they managed to split up enough to cause a whole new set of issues.  We are trying to find them all but it is proving very difficult.

My team has just been notified that our mission is being slightly altered.  Originally, we were scouting planets for potential locations that the GFI might consider using and to set up a monitoring system so that FleetCom can keep an eye on things and get a heads up is there was any GFI activity.  We will still be doing that, but they have added a new parameter.

All recon team mission objectives have been updated to encompass actually sniffing out potential GFI positions.  It is no longer about searching for potential sights that may or may not be in use, they now want us going places where GFI outposts are likely to be operating and providing intel for follow on forces.

We will no longer be operating independently.  All recon teams are being assigned to an actual strike force and our mission is to assist in search and destroy operations.  Orders are orders and I will obey of course, but I do have some reservations about this tactic. It hasn’t exactly worked out well in military history and now we are operating in a much larger arena.

The task forces are still being organized without hampering the current operations that are already in progress.  So far, FleetCom has been satisfied with the work we have been doing with the Coalition Marines so they are most likely going to stick to attaching us to strike teams made up of Marines.  Given that information, the Army will likely contribute by mopping up after each mission.

The Wolfpack will still be riding around on the Mako and we will still have our Marine squad consisting of the same men and woman, for the most part.  Casualties from previous missions that are unable to continue have been replaced but it is mostly the same people. The Marine Lieutenant and I are both having our reservations about this new mission objective but orders are orders.

All of our equipment has been replaced and/or upgraded wherever possible.  A significant amount of resources are being committed to this new endeavor.  It looks like they have been planning this for much longer than they are letting on.  They used the overhaul of the CSS Mako to make some system upgrades. Mostly weaponry.

They added some advanced defensive weaponry as well.  They sacrificed a lot of speed and maneuverability but they made up for it with the new defensive weapon systems.  The Mako will now be able to put up much more of a fight then it has previously been capable of. It is impressive really.  They also added some kind of cannon to it. I don’t know much about it but they are claiming that the rounds are small but far more destructive than anything we have seen yet.  We will see.

We don’t yet have a date for when all this will start but we have been ordered to keep that part hushed.  No communication, regardless of encryption level or how advanced the security systems are for it, is being trusted with that information.  You being you though, I have no doubt you could come across this information using your own methods.

I am about to hit the rack.  It has been a pretty tiring week and I have a briefing to attend with my team in the morning.  Keep your fingers crossed that this all works out. The better this works out, the sooner I can take some time to come home and visit.

Please give my best to everyone and let Mom know that I miss her especially.  Also, tell her I think about the times we used to go to movies early in the morning and then follow up with a nacho lunch.  I look forward to the day where I can visit and spend some time catching up with her. You too. Take it easy Dad.

Love,

Mitch

Letter XXXIII

January 22, 2435

Barren, Mitchell D., 2nd Lieutenant

4th Fleet, 4th Fleet Security Forces (FSF)

Dear Dad,

Not much to report this week.  The CSS Mako is getting a pretty serious overhaul so we have been using that time to get some pretty intensive training in.  We even had a war game that started Tuesday and went on for a few days.

Outpost 86 has come a pretty long way since we first got here seven or eight months ago.  My team has gotten to see the evolution of the installation from a pretty interesting perspective.  We may be out spending time aboard the Mako or ground pounding on other worlds, but we are still assigned to Outpost 86.

They have put a lot more time and money than any of us were expecting into turning this into a first class military base.  Every time we have touched down here there has been a noticeable change, whether it is the latest air defense systems, shuttle ports, ground defense cannons, and so much more.

The base has also done a fairly decent job at keeping the invasiveness on the planet’s local ecosystem as minimal as possible.  It may not sound like much, but the even Russell and the scientists that he is working with are saying the Fleet is doing a better job than expected.  

I found that out during the war game.  FleetCom wanted all civilians working on the installation to participate in this one, given that recent GFI incursions involved attacking local populations and not just Coalition military positions.  They complained about it at first but by the end, I am convinced that they were all disappointed that it was over so soon.

While the air and ground defensive systems are the absolute best that the Coalition has access to, and far better than anything that the GFI could possibly get their hands on, you know where I am going with this Dad.  Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.

Russell enjoyed it as well.  They let him participate without regard for his age.  You and I both know why but that one will be your call as to whether or not you tell mom.  He did quite well for himself. As a courtesy, the base commander contacted me in regards to Russell and allowed me the decision of who he trained with.

They refused to allow me, given the family connection, but fortunately, the Lieutenant attached to my team was with me during the discussion and offered to have his Staff Sergeant take on that task.  I graciously accepted. I was unsure of how it would go at first, but everyone was more than pleased with the results.

The Staff Sergeant, also being what most would consider to be a “Poster Marine,” did not take it easy on him, but he did inform me that Russell took to the training well.  He even told Russell that if the lab coat wearing days ever became too dull, “he would make a helluva Marine.” The NCO’s words, not mine. You and I both know he belongs in a lab coat.

I need to cut this one short.  The CSS Mako is dusting off in about 30 minutes.  Unknown at this time whether the next mission is combat or recon.  Fingers crossed for recon. I have had more than enough combat as of late and would like to actually spend some time on a planet where my team and I are not being shot at.

Please give my best to Mom and everyone else.  Might be getting some leave in the not too distant future but that is another unknown for the time being.  I will keep you posted. Take care.

Love,

Mitch

Letter XXXII

January 15, 2435

Barren, Mitchell D., 2nd Lieutenant

4th Fleet, 4th Fleet Security Forces (FSF)

Dear Dad,

I absolutely love this girl.  I am talking about the bartender that I went out with last time we came through Outpost 86.  She doesn’t know it yet and I am too chicken to tell her anytime soon for fear of scaring her off, but I am fairly certain she is the one.  I don’t even know where to begin explaining how awesome she is.

I went with my guys to her bar to grab some nachos and drinks.  We haven’t had fresh food in a few weeks and it was driving us a little mad.  We got there and she was standing near the door when we entered. She escorted us to a table and made sure that one of her staff took care of us immediately.

I have to admit, we felt pretty great about the service and special treatment, especially considering it has been a rough and busy couple of weeks.  There were several different groups of Fleet personnel and one of them saw that she had personally sat us down and was taking a special interest in us.

The Wolfpacks operations aren’t classified so plenty of people within the Fleet have heard of us and know what we do, but we don’t exactly go around advertising it.  FleetCom does the best they can to protect our identities but as I am sure you are well aware, it is not the easiest task. Not everyone knows who we are or what we look like.  We certainly don’t go around asking for special treatment or favors.

It was apparent that this group had no clue who we were and when they saw her taking a special interest in us, they were less than pleased.  My girl was coming back to our table when a pair of them got up and into her way. I never found out what was said but they resumed their seats with a look on their faces that suggested they had homicide on the mind.

We got our food and drinks but I couldn’t help but keep at least one eye on these guys.  I don’t know if I will ever be able to sit comfortably in a crowded room ever again to be honest.  These guys were transfixed on us and when we ordered our second round and got it quickly I guess that was the tipping point for them.

They got up and practically announced to the entire room that a fight was about to break out.  We just wanted to be left in peace to enjoy our food and drinks but my guys were more than ready to step in if need be.  It never got that far. I couldn’t make this stuff up Dad. What came next was the best show with food and drinks my team has got to experience since we got this new assignment.

One of the guys making their way toward us knocked a server out of the way and caused her to drop her tray and all its contents.  My girl observed this and then proceeded to make clear for all to see that her staff was off limits. Now, I know for a fact that fights break out here every now and again but I never noticed that the locals always avoided hurting any of the staff members.  We now all know why.

I have never seen two grown men that were not on a battlefield cry for their mothers so quickly in my life.  I have no doubt that both of these men had at least one broken bone each and I would not be surprised if they both had more.  It was quite a show. The caper was when she called Outpost 86 and had Fleet Security Forces come to arrest them for assaulting one of her people.

I have to admit, I love a woman that can take care of herself, but a woman who is that protective of the people she is responsible for was the true selling point for me.  A woman after my own heart. She eventually joined us when she was finished with her duties and by the end of the evening, the rest of the Wolfpack was talking to someone of the opposite sex as well.

Whether my girl introduced them or they met on the dance floor or at the bar, I wanted to ensure that my guys get a reminder of why it is we do what we do.  The last few months have been a fairly rough road and it becomes easy to forget right versus wrong when you spend so much time in isolation or in situations that are nonstop stress.

We all ended up taking these lovely young ladies on a trip to another part of the world to a cave system we had previously been through and did some exploring.  It is fascinating that people live on this planet and still know so little about it. We encountered some new animals and we captured a couple that we could bring back for Russell to have a look at.

I wanted to let you know that my team and I are safe for the moment and enjoying some much-needed downtime.  I love you all very much and hope that the time comes where I will be able to see you all soon. Please take care of yourselves.

Love,

Mitch

Letter XXXI

January 8, 2435

Barren, Mitchell D., 2nd Lieutenant

4th Fleet, 4th Fleet Security Forces (FSF)

Dear Dad,

I warn you now, this letter might get a bit long-winded (or long worded I guess would make more sense), but there is a story I have to tell you.  This is one you will have to use your best judgment with as to whether or not you are going to share it with Mom. It wasn’t exactly a mission that we were trained or ready for but I definitely got the “feel goods” after.

One of our advanced recon teams went missing 10 days ago on some uninhabited jungle and desert planet somewhere near the planet Outpost 27 is on.  The ship that carried them, the CSS Marlin, and their Marine contingent lost contact with them but was unable to determine how. Around the same time, their planetary scanners went offline.  At the time, it was for reasons unknown.

The call for help was sent and my team was dispatched to investigate.  We got there four days after contact was lost. As soon as the CSS Mako hit orbit, we knew something was going on that wasn’t friendly.  Our scanners were not functioning properly either. It would be one thing if we were unable to track human life, but there was no sensor activity at all.

Fortunately, knowing that our vessel had just been overhauled and all systems were at 100%, we knew something was wrong.  We took a shuttle down and made contact with their Marines and the shuttle that had brought them. There was still no contact, but we did have their recon route so it wasn’t going to be difficult to track where they were supposed to be.

We took one of their Marine fire teams for extra support and followed the other recon team’s trail to their last known location.  I put my designated marksman, code name Overwatch, and one of my Marine fire teams in a good vantage point so they could observe our approach and call out any potential threats.  It is a good thing too, he has the best eyes in the business.

Once we were about 200 meters away from the last known location, Overwatch called out a well-concealed ambush.  They had been monitoring all communications up to our arrival, using the recon teams captured communication tech.  They knew we were coming, but fortunately for us, we knew they were waiting before we walked into it.

Knowing they were there, we were able to make last minute adjustments to our approach and were able to take half of them without a shot being fired or a warning being given to their fellow ambushers.  I would be lying if I told you there wasn’t a minor firefight. It was shortlived. Having already taken half the ambush into custody, we were able to turn the ambush on them.

It must have been our lucky day.  One of the ones we caught before the firefight ended up being the officer in charge of all the GFI forces that were on the planet.  There wasn’t much of a GFI presence. Not enough to warrant calling in a larger battle group. But there was more than enough to cause us to pause before proceeding with what we now knew was going to be a rescue operation.

The GFI officer didn’t say much but we didn’t really need him to.  Some of the other prisoners we took were more than a little loose-lipped and we had a detailed layout of what was going on.  They were able to get some access to new tech that even Coalition forces weren’t employing yet on any kind of massive scale and it was interfering with all sensor access within the field the machine established.

Once we knew where to look and what we were dealing with, some of our engineers aboard the Mako were able to adjust our sensors and we were able to see where the GFI was holding our team and how many there were.  They numbered almost 200 so any kind of assault was out of the question.

We had to settle for a plan that was snatch and grab with minimal exposure.  We set up our Overwatch and a defensible fallback point in case things went bad.  I took the other two members of my team in and we were able to locate the missing recon team members quickly and quietly.  It wasn’t until we were making our way out that we ran into an enemy patrol that was out of Overwatch’s line of sight and was forced to engage.

We were close enough to the perimeter that running for the fall back point wasn’t going to be interrupted by any more patrols.  Overwatch was able to cover the rest of our escape with ease but we were pursued all the way back to the shuttles. We made a short stand at our fall back position in an effort to cause the GFI forces to pursue us with more caution.  It worked.

They followed us with enough apprehension to allow us the time we needed to load both of the shuttles and make our escape.  Once we were back aboard the Mako and the Marlin, we called for a battle group to come in and finish them off. The Fleet Admiral was reluctant at first but once we explained the tech that the GFI had employed, we got more than we asked for.

The deployment of this newer disruption technology is cause for investigation.  The battle group that was dispatched to help us did a fine job at mopping up the GFI forces on the ground but all enemy engineers were found dead within the GFI position.  All were executed by their own men. It is unfortunate that we were not able to capture any of them but their execution was indication enough that this is something the GFI doesn’t want us knowing more about.

We were also unable to capture any of the equipment intact.  Once they realized what we were trying to do, they proceeded to destroy anything and everything related.  We were able to capture bits and pieces but no information or instructions of any kind. Looks like the nerd squads are going to have their work cut out for them.

Needless to say, it has been a rather busy week.  My team isn’t exactly meant for search and rescue but it definitely felt good to do good.  We are en route back to Outpost 86 for a re-supply. I am planning on dropping in to say hello to Russell.  I hope that this letter finds you and Mom well. Please know that I am doing great and I am loving every minute of what we do.  Take care.

Love,

Mitch

Letter XXX

January 1, 2435

Barren, Mitchell D., 2nd Lieutenant

4th Fleet, 4th Fleet Security Forces (FSF)

Dear Dad,

Happy New Years to you both.  I hope that you and Mom have more fun plans to execute to ring in the new year.  Do either of you have a New Years resolution you are planning to try to stick to?  I never was much for those, but this year I think I am making a slight exception to the rule.  I am planning to read at least one book a week that is not a military manual or military-related in general.

I believe I have to read enough military rubbish during my day to day operations so why put more on myself.  Might make some exceptions for some memoirs though. There are a few that I heard were really good and some that would actually help me in my leadership role.  I will take all the help I can get in that regard.

So far, my team has been pretty fortunate.  We have come through all these hostilities relatively unscathed (knocks on wood), although things have been far from uninteresting.  We have had so many close calls that I can’t help but feel like our luck will run out soon. I need to stay ahead of it and keep doing anything I can to keep getting better.  Same goes for my team.

You always taught me to treat those under my command as I would if they were my children.  I have taken that quite literally and I see now why you always said that. I care about my men and I want to do whatever it takes to get them through this.

We had an interesting situation a couple days ago that could have turned disastrous.  We were in the middle of a recon operation and one of the Army’s combat patrols were way off course.  The Lieutenant in charge was some lazy scumbag that dumped all his responsibilities on his NCO and there was a miscommunication with their navigation.

We nearly ran into each other while searching for potential enemy outposts.  Fortunately, my team members are as good as they get. My point man was able to identify them as friendlies and we were able to contact Army headquarters and identify what was going on.  Turns out, the combat patrol was about two kilometers off course.

My team nearly lost all control over our noise discipline when we heard the company commander shouting at the Lieutenant over the comms.  I wouldn’t be surprised if that company commander got a talking to in regard to her radio etiquette. Enjoyable as it was, it was also not at a good time.  We ended up making contact with a GFI outpost a few hours later.

There were no casualties on either side during our initial engagement.  I didn’t want to take any chances with my team. The GFI had a really good defensive position and we couldn’t get an accurate count on their numbers.  I called in our Marine team for support but they are still hurting after the last engagement. We eventually called for an air strike and once the flyboys were done, we let the Army mop it up.

I am going to be keeping this one short.  We have a lot of work to do and the war isn’t going to take a break for the holidays.  If anything, the GFI is picking up the pace with their operations. They are growing desperate, which is not a good sign.  Our biggest fear is them to focus their attention on a civilian target.

So far, they haven’t hit as many civilian heavy locations as originally expected, but desperation can change that pretty easily.  We will just have to stay focussed ourselves and maintain vigilance.

Please give everyone my best and let Mom know that I am thinking about you both every day.  I love you with all my heart. Happy New Year!

Love,

Mitch