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Letters from Outpost 86

June 11, 2434

Barren, Mitchell D., SSgt, ESF

4th Fleet, 4th FSFS, Charlie Flight

 

Dear Mom,

I know I only put dear Mom, but this is for everyone else as well.  I sure as heck am not taking the time, every time I write home, to write out everyone’s name in an effort to include everyone in a letter that you all know is for everyone anyways…..please tell Russell I will be back before he knows it and we can do another tour of any of the Mars Museums he wants.  Just make sure he picks one out a few months in advance so I can make the reservations. Let him know all the museums in the capital are worth a look.

I finally made it to my new assignment.  Sorry that it took so long. Transit was crazy, unexpected issues arose that caused problems.  Although the issues were against the odds, it was still nothing bad enough to warrant any worries.  Travel delays that never cease. In the end, things happen. As we were departing and the pilots did their standard system checks before leaving Mars orbit, the systems responsible for air filtration began to short circuit due to defective wiring.  Sounds horrible but it is really no big deal. There are enough backup systems on these vessels but you know the military way. 100% or its a no go until its brought back to %100. A maintenance shuttle was dispatched and they fixed the issue in a matter of hours while we stayed in Mars orbit. Threw off the jump timing though.  More time to hit the shipboard dining facility and score some nachos. That one delay cost us nearly a week in transit time. Oh well. Made it.

Where do I even begin?  There really is nothing much out here.  The people who have spent the last decade colonizing have done an incredible job creating a livable situation but were less than pleased when they discovered that Fleet Command wanted to establish a military presence.  Being that those of us arriving today is the first from the fleet, we get the pleasure of building up the installation and preparing for the follow on forces and construction crews. The first order of business is to establish a defensible security perimeter.  I must admit this makes me nervous, being my first assignment as a non-commissioned officer. Still, I think I will do well. I have the experience and I know I can handle the pressure. Fingers crossed that things stay calm and the population receives us well.  There hasn’t been any reported insurgent activity so hopefully, that remains the case. There hasn’t exactly been a consistent fleet presence through either and given that the population is still so small it isn’t like there has been any reason for them to operate out here.

The planet is like a mixture between Mars, Earth, and the moon.  There are three massive continents and the rest is mostly water. There isn’t much vegetation or wildlife though so planetary engineers had to come in to conduct minor planetary modifications in order to make it livable for humans.  The only good part about the modifications is that the air is breathable. Sucks that it doesn’t make the planet much more useful other than a place to put humans and conduct trade. I honestly don’t even know why these people wanted to come here but who am I to judge right?  There is some kind of science station near where we are supposed to be establishing our perimeter but we have been instructed that all research being conducted is none of our business so we are ordered to steer clear of the facility and its personnel.

I am sorry that I have to keep this letter short.  I am exhausted after the trek and there is still so much more to do. Please extend my love to the rest of the family and let them all know that I will write again soon.  I promise that I will write to you as often as I am able but times may come when it gets busy, especially for the next couple weeks. Once the ansible is set up they will allow us to video call with the standard time allotments so we won’t be restricted to just letters.  Know that you will all be in my thoughts. Take care of yourselves.

Love,

Mitch

P.S. Tell Russell I am working on his request.  Should know by the next letter whether or not it will work.  Also, There isn’t a place where I can get good candy. No base exchange or commissary yet.  Please send some Tootsie rolls if or when you can.

_______________________________________________________________________

June 18, 2434

Barren, Mitchell D., Staff Sergeant

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

 

Dear Mom,

 

Things are progressing well.  I have been put in command of Charlie Flight’s Second Element (currently 11 members including myself).  Unfortunately, it does not look like ansible communication is going to be as high up on the construction list as I thought it would be.  Fleet Command wants all of our initial focus to be on the establishment of the ground and air defense while simultaneously setting up the ground-based orbital defense systems.  I know it sucks but look on the bright side, they want us to be as safe and as well secured as possible before we commit to other endeavors that are not of immediate importance.  Communication, while important, won’t do much good this far out anyway.

I wish you all could see what I see out here.  I promise that I will do my best to send some pictures soon.  We truly are on the frontier of human space and I must admit that it is difficult to contain my excitement.  In fact, that could be why they have us setting up an installation here. A way-point for future exploration even further out.  Once you get over the inconveniences involved in setting up a base on a planet that was not exactly meant for human habitation, the landscape is quite beautiful and perfect for anyone who loves an outdoor challenge.

There are mountain ranges galore; so many that some even blend in together to look like one massive collection of mountains. There is little to no snow and very small amounts of water, but the fact that there is water at all will allow the Whitecoats to play with the atmosphere and create a more long-term situation.  I hope. I don’t exactly buy into all this terraforming magical handwavium. Fleet intelligence and the Planetary Habitation Department like to keep secrets. Pompous jerks. Look at the acronym for crying out loud. PHD? Really?

We chose a cluster of mountains where there was some flat ground at a low enough elevation to where breathing won’t be affected.  It was difficult finding a spot like this where there weren’t any other ranges within close enough proximity to where anyone could sneak up on us and/or have the high ground.  Until we are able to finish the orbital defense system, a small carrier group is staying in orbit, just in case, which is another reason they want defensive focus first. It is weird really.  Committing a carrier group, even a small one, to this planet, makes little sense, but I am sure fleet has its reasons and I am quite sure that information is unlikely to trickle its way down to our level.

The base is located between the main PHD facility and the planet’s equivalent of a capital/main hub. We have enough defensive positions to where we are now able to focus on perimeter security while anti-air and counter-battery platforms are nearly established.  Funny how we have the capability to travel between solar systems now, yet we have yet to come up with a better tool than a shovel for digging ditches and latrines.

Fleet duties aside for a moment, how are things back home?  How is William doing? Has he been keeping in touch with Russell as well?  I am thrilled that he decided to take a mechanical job for Fleet closer to home where he can be relatively safe and periodically check in on you all and Russell from time to time.  I may only be a few years older than him but the Fleet is definitely aging me quickly. Although it could just be the specific career field I chose.

Security is a pretty thankless job but then when you add enforcing Fleet rules and regulations you become almost as hated as anyone in charge.  Did you know a lot of the other fleet personnel refer to us as fashion police? Of course, that is mostly just the members of the fleet that have never served outside of Sol so they have never encountered any of the revolutionaries or insurgents. Though there is a treaty in place between systems, tensions are still there.

We usually get treated like outsiders but people never hesitate to call us for help when they have a problem.  It is always amusing. We had to break up a minor dispute between a C-RAM (Counter Rocket, Artillery, Mortar) crew and a ground battery crew over a slight peak that both wanted to use to set up one of their weapon systems.  Apparently, there was a miscommunication and they both showed up on site with all their equipment and neither wanted to turn around and set up elsewhere. No one was able to use their words and the highest ranking member from either side was a 1st Lieutenant.

It was a petty fight, pathetic actually. It took minimal force to subdue both sides and we forced them to work it out right there in front of us in the hope that it would prevent any further issues. It did. Being forced to communicate and with us standing over them while they did, negotiations went quickly and one of the groups moved to a new location.  You were right Mom, communication is key.

Once we are finished setting up I promise that I will write more often.  For the moment, we only get enough time for one letter per week but that will change once more personnel are brought in.  There is no intention of this being a hardship post. This will eventually become a full star-port with all the capabilities of any other standard fleet run star-port.  Travel to and from this planet will become commonplace eventually and when it does I will take a HOP home and come visit. I miss you all very much and though things are rough for now, I don’t want any of you to worry.  I love you all very much and will write again soon.

 

Love,

Mitch

 

P.S.  Tell Russell that I will be able to send him those samples as soon as the Fleet mailing unit is established.  I got permission from the base commander. Also……still waiting on the candy.

_______________________________________________________________________

June 25, 2434

Barren, Mitchell D., Staff Sergeant

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

 

Dear Mom,

 

So there is some good news and some bad news.  Like you always said Mom, veggies before dessert is the best way to go so I will start with the bad.  Ansible communication is being left to last. While long-range instant communication is important, it was determined that until the starport has been completed, there is no need for instant communication.

There aren’t yet any assets out here that are worthy of an ansible device. The technology is too rare and valuable. Once the port is established and a permanent air power contingent is established, Ansible is the next step.  The good news is we were told why we are way out here. It is the most they are going to tell us but I feel like it is pretty exciting. We are going to be the jump-off point for further exploration, meaning this won’t be some minor installation or a hardship post. This will be a complete Fleet installation with all the perks of any other major base.

Most of the security systems are set up now so there will be much more time to write home and also work on my promise to Russell.  Now that we have received some reinforcements and most of the security systems are up and running, a more accommodating work schedule will soon be established and I will be able to get his present finished.  Though I am still not sure what my specifically assigned duties will be, I can venture a guess.

I am among the very few Fleet Security Personnel on location who also happens to have attended the Fleet’s recon training school so there is a pretty good chance I won’t be spending a whole lot of my time on the installation.  It is more along the lines of intelligence instead of special forces. There have been rumors that once the GFI found out about our being here and what we were up to they were angry. Still, I don’t want any of you worrying. We are too far away from anything even remotely useful or significant (strategically) so there is no reason to believe they would bother coming out here.  Besides, GFI can’t afford to waste resources on anything less than an absolute military or political necessity. We should be just fine.

Back to the land of the positive.  Since all security has been set up and a work schedule is now in effect, we are able to do some exploring around the immediate vicinity of the base.  I wish words could express how beautiful this planet is. You won’t hear that from most Earthborn people, nor anyone with a closed mind, but if you can look past what you pre-determine a planet should look like and have an open mind, it is really something else.

I found a system of caves not too far away during a patrol and I managed to convince my Flight Commander that they needed to be cataloged and explored in detail to assess whether or not they could provide any kind of strategic advantage or disadvantage to the base. It is a pretty good reason when you think about it and I must admit, I was quite impressed with myself.  It is located about two kilometers away from the base so we are going on our little spelunking mission tomorrow during duty hours. I will tell you as much as I can about it the next chance I get.

In other news, I got your letters and care package.  Thank you so much for the Tootsie Rolls. I almost cried when I saw that you added some beef jerky in there as well (not really though….but kinda).  I can’t even remember the last time I had red meat and it was every bit as delicious as I remember. I shared some with my element as well they wanted me to extend their gratitude.  We do our best to share what we get from home but that doesn’t always work out. It is pretty hard to split things like an individual candy bar or any personal items among 10 people.  It will be better once the port is set up and there are fewer weight restrictions on what can be mailed. Plus some things are not meant to be shared and everyone is pretty good about respecting that.

Things were a little rough to start with the workload but between all the care packages, letters, and now being finished with the base set up, conditions are starting to look much better. They even continue to improve every day.  The chow hall has been set up and they started bringing in fresh food for us so we have moved up from packaged food. No new incidents to report other than injuries from training or the typical work-related mishaps that accompany building anything big.  A lot of broken fingers pulled muscles, and damaged egos, but beyond that, We are doing great.

I hope that this letter finds you well.  Please give my love to everyone. Also, if it isn’t too much trouble, could you please start sending newspapers out my way.  Since there is no ansible yet, it will be the only way to get news from back home, even if it is a week or two late. It would be nice to read something other than the books I brought or military manuals and report.  If you are unable or Fleet won’t let you, don’t worry about it. It is a simple request and whether or not you are able, I will get by. I miss you all and look forward to hearing back from you.

 

Love,

 

Mitch

_______________________________________________________________________

July 2, 2434

Barren, Mitchell D., Staff Sergeant

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

 

Dear Mom,

 

What an exciting week!  The cave system was more vast and dangerous than we anticipated but fortunately, we were prepared.  There was more uncatalogued wildlife than expected and most of them were harmless. Nothing was big enough to do any significant harm to a human but there were a few predatory species that did not handle their first human encounter well.

I took a team of four recon members and we had more than enough munitions to deal with everything we encountered.  The rifle was unnecessary but the older model 12 gauges came in handy.  The animal size was not an issue but their numbers certainly were higher than we were comfortable with.

We were able to get a few samples of the different species but one, in particular, was more difficult to collect alive.  It was some kind of lizard and gopher mix but with six legs. They were only about half a meter long but they had pretty sharp claws about three centimeters long and teeth that looked almost shark-like.  Their skin was also problematic. They blended in very well with their surroundings and had a very similar temperature with lizards back on Earth.

With the exception of the wildlife issue, the cave system and the surrounding terrain actually looked like a good location to put an annex for quick reaction forces.  QRF would be able to respond either to the base or the capital in a matter of minutes and the geographic features make it easily defendable. All we would need is one defensive turret about a quarter mile into the system and nothing larger than an Earth mouse would be able to get in from behind.  I will probably make this recommendation during our debriefing.

My first stop was the science tent we finished setting up earlier this week to drop off all our samples of dirt, rock, and wildlife.  Our geologist and biologist were thrilled. They actually started to argue when I mentioned setting up an Annex there over who would get priority over being posted out there.  No fists thrown but watching the nerds go at it was amusing for my team.

On that subject, I interrupted them to discuss Russell’s request and they confirmed that the Commander signed off on it so as of your receipt of this letter, Russell can correspond with the assigned geologist.  All samples that are cleared as safe will be shared with Russell so that he can also do whatever research he wishes with them.

It was funny because most scientists here tend to be more of the lone wolf type but Dr. Valencia was thrilled once she found out he was interested in geology.  Thrilled to the point where I thought I might have to detain her when the argument started to get more heated. None of the scientists were authorized to bring an assistant so she views Russell as a sort of loophole to that.

I explained that he was well ahead of his age but she will want to exchange some correspondence with him as some kind of interview to see where he is at and how he can help.  This was more than I thought I could get for him so please advise him that he owes me a bag of Tootsie Rolls and a good size letter.

We got our first supply ship and some more reinforcements so the real build-up has begun.  Starport construction is about to commence so it might get a little busy around here. I will continue to write at least once a week but please don’t be upset if I have to miss it.  This is a crucial part of why we are out here so safety and security of the construction site and equipment are the top priority.

Rumors have begun to spread that GFI is working on getting some of their people out here to disrupt construction.  They know they don’t have the tools or manpower to stop us but they can sure slow things down. We are determined not to let that happen.

One of our security teams managed to catch a few GFI supporters and got some good intel on local operations so hopefully, we are able to stay ahead of them.  Don’t any of you worry. Those GFI crybabies are a joke and nothing more than an irritation. Everything is going to go just fine out here and if they try anything we will deal with them quickly and harshly.  You know us Mom, we won’t allow them to harm the Fleet or any of the locals without severe consequences.

I miss you all very much and look forward to hearing from you again.  Tell Russell that the only reason I am unable to send him some of those samples now is that Dr. Valencia wants to correspond with him first but they are coming.  It is just a formality. She wants to know a little more about his interests than I am able to share. I will write again soon. Please take care and be safe.

 

Love,

 

Mitch

_______________________________________________________________________

July 9, 2434

Barren, Mitchell D., Staff Sergeant

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

 

Dear Mom,

 

I don’t know where to begin.  You and Dad always taught me to be honest and you all know that I would never lie to you, but there are plenty of things we experience that are better left unsaid.  Please understand that what you are about to read is because you were going to find out anyways and my hope is that this letter gets to you before the news coverage.  You know how the media can be.

The Galactic Freedom Initiative attempted a minor attack on the installation a few days ago.  I, and everyone else stationed here are OK. The attack was brief and clearly not planned. There were no Fleet casualties and we captured the few troops that managed to escape their craft before it exploded.  We detected the enemy ship with plenty of time for our orbital defense system to do its thing.

A few troop carriers were able to get out before the ship exploded in orbit but either they didn’t know our orbital defenses were up and running, or they didn’t care.  I was conducting a secondary scouting mission on that cave system I told you about last week and had some of our engineers with me making some plans for an outpost when the enemy ship came out of orbit.

Fleet’s main concern was losing track of the troop carriers and them being able to establish any kind of foothold so my team and I were dispatched to keep an eye on them while Fleet Marines were assembling at our base.  We left the engineers at the cave system and were able to find the troop carriers a few miles further out. They were dangerously close to our base but there weren’t enough of them to warrant any kind of serious military threat.

I don’t know what the news will report, but there was about 500 of them.  We observed them unloading their transports and then scuttle them. They knew we would capture them within the hour and they wouldn’t be able to hide or defend them so all exploded with a thunderous boom.

We followed them for several miles while doing our best to avoid their scouting patrols and reporting their movements back to headquarters.  They were moving towards a large town that wasn’t much further when we came across one of their scouting patrols. They had a great tactical position and there was no cover for a large enough section along the route.  We were caught in a short firefight.

We were able to put down most of them but not before they were able to communicate with the larger body that we were following them.  It was too late for them at that point anyway. They were still several miles away from the nearest town when a Marine battalion and air support arrived and were able to head them off.

They may have had more men but we controlled the air and all the Marines had to do was keep them from moving forward.  One of the craft gave a quick weapons demonstration and that was clear enough for the GFI. They set their weapons down and surrendered to the Marines.  No one was injured or killed once the Marines got there. Whoever was in charge knew they had no tactical options.

I don’t know how the media found out about it but the short engagement was plastered all over the local news sources and the local population started to point fingers at us.  They claimed that the GFI had no interest in their planet until we came along so any incident from our arrival on would be our fault.

They act as if the GFI wasn’t planning on further expansion themselves.  I have to admit though, this attack concerns the higher-ups a lot more than they are willing to publicly admit.  We know that they have spacecraft, but their supply of war vessels, according to our intelligence, is supposed to be pretty scarce.  If that is the case, I don’t know, and I doubt FleetCom does either, why they would waste a war vessel on such a doomed attack.

I am starting to wish that Dad was still working in Fleet Intelligence so that I could get some better information than I am getting now.  The biggest questions are the ones causing the most concern. What are we not seeing? What is it that we don’t know? Questions as old as war itself I guess.

I don’t want any of you worrying.  The men on my team were fantastic and we worked together well.  So well in fact that the award packages that I put in for them were all accepted.  They conducted themselves professionally and without hesitation or fear. FleetCom agreed and put in an award package for me as well.

We have also been designated as the base’s main recon team and have received a new call-sign, given to us by the Marines that responded.  Jokes were made about how we were able to follow their scent and it started to circulate that we acted like a pack of wolves. The Marine battalion commander and the FSF commander joked about it as well and officially designated us the “Wolf-pack.”

Things settled down quickly but we are still maintaining an alert posture.  Everything else is fine. I do have some bad news though. I am running low on Tootsie Rolls so I would really appreciate it if you could send out some more.  No one would complain if some more jerky was sent along with that as well.

I love and miss you all.  The first samples should be there by now, right?  I haven’t been able to chat with a good doctor since this incident took place so I have not verified whether or not the package was sent.  Tell Russell I’m sorry. If you are able, can you do me a favor and control how much of this incident he sees or hears? I know he gets a little rattled sometimes and I don’t want him getting worked up over this.  Talk to you again soon.

 

Love,

 

Mitch

_______________________________________________________________________

July 16, 2434

Barren, Mitchell D., Staff Sergeant

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

 

Dear Mom,

 

I am glad that you weren’t worried but who are you kidding?  It is ok. I understand and I am sorry that what I do puts you in a position of worry.  I want you to know that no matter what happens, I have one of the best recon teams in the Fleet backing me up and as the weeks go by we are getting better and better.

The word was passed down to us that a special forces instructor is being assigned to us for the next several months to guide us for future missions.  They want us to have better and more specialized training but they also want the instructor to be able to take some of it back to teach future ARRC team members.

In case you didn’t know, or Dad never told you, Advanced Recon, Rescue, Capture (ARRC) Teams are the most coveted positions in the entire Fleet.  I have encountered officers that were willing to give up their commissions if it meant an opportunity to be on an ARRC Team. Throughout the Fleet, most people call them Archangels.

The Fleet wants my team and me to have a lot of their training because we are on the edge of human-controlled space and there are not enough members available to post a team out here.  Not with GFI aggression increasing throughout all of the currently controlled human space. I heard there was another attempt on the other side of this system.

It isn’t completely clear why GFI wants control of a planet that is on the boundary but there are plenty of theories and most of them are fairly plausible.  I would be willing to bet they want a jump off point for further exploration as well that could also serve as a tripwire for Fleet activity. They would be able to find an uninhabited system and start a massive buildup without interference.

I have no doubt that is making a lot of Fleet leadership members and the Coalition Council nervous.  With access to their own system, it would be much more difficult to track their progress without risking all-out war.  Some are saying we are already at war and some say there is still a chance for peace. A lot of that is contributing to the need for an ARRC Team to be on the edges of the system.

Which brings this back to me and my Wolfpack.  Fortunately, we already have a lot of the training required to be considered.  Given last weeks incident, they are putting my team on the training fast track by giving us our very own instructor.  I don’t know how long it will be before the training is complete but I am hoping you understand what all this means.

The Fleet is taking my team’s position very seriously.  We are being given the best training available and they will be doing everything they can to make us successful.  We are even being given missions now before the instructor even gets here. Easy missions but still, missions designed to prepare us for future “sightseeing.”

We had a fun one the other day.  No caves or valleys. This time, it was a mountain.  No creepy crawlies or enemy troops. Just a lot of climbing and some of the most amazing views you could imagine.  From the top, you could see everything so clearly for miles. The main objective was to determine whether or not any kind of base could be set up on it, but it turned into a nice little vacation.

Short of hollowing out the mountain, removing a large section, or completely cutting off the top, the mountain was good for nothing more than a fun climb and some fantastic views.  Our installation was barely visible but the nearest colony town was clear. It is a small little place. We estimated less than a thousand people.

Fleet wants a mission launched to gather as much information about the various populations but our immediate superiors want us waiting for the ARRC Instructor before we start taking part in real-world ARRC missions.  I agreed. We are pretty good, but we aren’t quite that level of good. Part of the training will involve blending in and not looking so……Fleet member.

The mountain mission only took two days.  We got to spend the night about halfway up and it was nice.  We rotated watch and had a nice MRE breakfast. It was amusing really.  Meals Ready to Eat (MRE’s) have existed for hundreds of years. Since back in the days of American dominance.  Hundreds of years, and yet, they still taste like preserved trash. Some things never change I guess. Unlike that view.  I wish you could have seen it, Mom.

How is Russell doing?  I spoke to the Doctor before I left for the mountain and she said his letters to her were very impressive.  I believe some of the more important words she used to describe their interactions were “articulate” and “potential.”  Apparently, she was impressed with his analysis of the biomatter she sent him.

I don’t know what to say.  All that stuff is way over my head.  Russell was always the intellectual one.  I just sat back and enjoyed the doctor’s reactions.  I have no doubt she will want him working with her once he is old enough.  That was my impression anyway.

I wish I could send you pictures but given the work, I am now involved with, that is not the best idea.  No communication is %100 secure and the fun missions are usually the ones that get people in trouble when the wrong people find out.  I have been permitted to share certain things with you. You can thank Dad for that. He was granted permanent top clearance status because of his former position.

Please give my best to Dad and everyone else.  I love you all and hope that this letter finds you in good spirits.  Take care.

 

Love,

 

Mitch

_______________________________________________________________________

July 23, 2434

Barren, Mitchell D., Staff Sergeant

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

 

Dear Mom,

 

The new instructor arrived on Tuesday and it wasn’t who we were expecting.  She brought so much new gear with her it was like Christmas. We were excited until she told us we were worthless and how disgusted she was that she was being made to instruct us in special warfare and reconnaissance strategies.  The first thing she said to us was “nearly a decade of special forces experience and I get assigned babysitting detail.” She will come around.

I wish I could share everything but you know the rules.  Talk to Dad if you want more details. He still has friends and what they talk about is their business.  The coolest thing I can tell you about is the camouflage. Typically, only ARRC members get these but they are making an exception for us.  Given our new assignment, FleetCom doesn’t want people seeing what we are up to.

We have been issued the adaptive uniforms I was telling you about.  The ones with the kinetic energy shielding and the ability to change based on whatever terrain we are in.  All we have to do is type in the setting and the uniform takes care of the rest. They even have the ability to neutralize thermal imaging so no one can see our body heat.

The only way to see someone in one of these uniforms is with one of two things.  The first is in the command and control center where they have a specific computer that can monitor where the uniforms are.  The second is a set of eye-pro that also serves as a heads-up display (HUD). Those things alone are a whole new level of warfare.

The glasses have infrared and night vision capabilities but they also have the ability to protect our eyes from rapid changes in lighting.  The vision of the wearer won’t be impaired if a light goes on suddenly. Pretty handy if it comes to working somewhere when the lights are off but suddenly go on in the middle of a mission.

A lot of the new gear this new gear was going to be withheld until the instructor had a few weeks to give us some “proper training but given the current climate out here, that plan was scrubbed.  I have no doubt you have heard by now what happened not too far from here. If you haven’t, well, I am sure you will have heard by the time this letter reaches you.

They tried keeping it quiet but that wasn’t going to last long and they knew it.  The fleet engagement was a few light years away from this planet but the distance in this kind of situation doesn’t have much of an impact on the travel of information.  Our casualties were higher than anyone might have anticipated. There wouldn’t have been any way to hide it from the families.

GFI was a little more prepared this time around.  They managed to ambush one of our carrier groups but our fleet managed to hold their own.  Apparently, the pilots aboard the carrier ESS Kratos were in the middle of a battle exercise when the attack started so they were already near the launch bays when the ambush started.  They were able to exit the ship before it was hit and they mounted a devastating counter-attack.

Three of our ships were destroyed and all received damage ranging from minor to significant.  I don’t know yet how many lives were lost. Some were able to reach escape craft before the ships were destroyed but not many.  This is the first major attack where the GFI managed a success of this magnitude.

They showed us some recordings of the ambush so we could study what happened.  I am sure that Dad could get you a copy if you want to. There were these two pilots that were untouchable.  I don’t know how else to describe it. They flew through and among the GFI fighters and the GFI couldn’t touch them.  The flying was unlike anything I have ever seen.

I would love to find out who they were and buy them a beer because they saved hundreds, maybe even thousands, of lives during the battle by taking out the GFI’s carrier and one of their battleships.  They turned the tide of the battle and we are all convinced that there might have been no casualties if it wouldn’t have been a sneak attack.

Anyways, because of this battle, FleetCom wants to set up a few extra fighter and bomber bases that are separate from the main port so they have ordered the Wolfpack and our new instructor to use our training time to scout for strategic locations to set them up.  There is also concern that someone is leaking information to the GFI so I can’t tell you anything about the locations. At least, not yet.

Once that mission is complete, and once our training instructor is satisfied we have enough skill to operate without her, we are being assigned to a ship to start scouting further into unknown territories and seeking potential outpost locations.  My team has been fairing pretty well so it will be at the instructor’s discretion.

I hope that things are well back home.  I miss you all so much and would love to hear more about Russell’s interactions with the doctor.  So far, she won’t shut up about how impressed she is with him, and I quote her on this, “are you sure he isn’t in college yet?”  He has potential, we all knew that. My only hope is that his ambitions keep him far outside of this conflict. He is destined to do so much more.

Please give my regards to everyone else as well.  I won’t be able to take leave anytime soon. Please send pictures.  I am not sure how things will work once my team is aboard a vessel but I promise you that I will write as often as I can.  Given the nature of what our mission will be, it won’t be a surprise if the ship has an ansible system built in. I might be able to write home more.  Time will tell. I love you all. Take care.

 

Love,

 

Mitch

_______________________________________________________________________

July 30, 2434

Barren, Mitchell D., Staff Sergeant

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

 

Dear Mom,

 

To answer your question, unfortunately, I can’t tell you much about our new instructor for operational security reasons.  Dad might be able to get some information from his old office but beyond that, I will have to leave you all shrouded in mystery.  Just know that she is one of the best and we are receiving some fantastic guidance and training.

We did a simulated reconnaissance mission last Tuesday with her strictly observing so she could assess where we were and determine a training course for us.  It was exciting, fun, and upon completion, she acknowledged that we didn’t seem as hopeless as she had been led to believe.

She is still mad about the “babysitting gig” (her words, not mine), but she is coming around a lot faster than we expected.  We worked out a deal with the Marine contingent here. They are training every single day and they have been told and agreed to play along in our training as well.

We have already done some training operations that involve escape and evasion and I feel like a kid again in a way.  ARRC missions typically involve the gathering of information and avoiding discovery. They want the Wolfpack to be ghosts.  If there is combat on any of our missions than it means that something went wrong.

We had a fun training op the other day where we were tasked with getting an accurate troop and equipment count of a Marine unit that was in the field doing some urban warfare training.  It was a lot harder than it sounds. They had a little village set up for the purpose of urban warfare training so there was no one position where an observer could see everything.

This proves to make a troop count difficult because you can get a count from one spot and then try maneuvering quickly to another to count the rest but there is a tactical balance that you can’t ignore.  The battlefield always has a way of enforcing the need for intelligent compromise. You have to be decisive and consider everything.

We can count, run quickly to another position, complete the count, and it would be a much more accurate number, but that increases the risk of discovery.  The run is much louder and our fast movement is easier to spot. We can also count, move slowly to a new position to ensure that we are not seen, but the count will be thrown off because of how long it takes to move to a new position.  The enemy isn’t gonna stay still for us.

It took a while and she was constantly interjecting new positions and movements to consider but it worked out well.  We are already a small unit but in a situation like this, the most prudent move is to separate and observe from different positions.  We took pictures from the different angles and then rendezvoused close by to compare and count.

The process was easy, fast, and safe.  We got a count and called it in and were commended when we returned to base.  There is typically a margin for error but our count was accurate and nothing was missed.  We have also done some simulations with the Marines that covers what to do if we are discovered.  While I hope that never happens on any of our missions, the training was a lot of fun. It was basically several laser tag games with the Marines.

I have to say, the Marines may not be special forces, but they are really good.  The first several simulations we didn’t make it very far before we were captured or killed.  It was unsettling but also eye-opening. We trained using several different maneuvers and tactics until we got it right consistently.  She wouldn’t let us break for the day until she was convinced and the Marines enjoyed every minute of getting to shoot their simulation rounds at us.

It will be a few more weeks until we get an actual off-world assignment but this will be our main base of operations.  Our instructor will be accompanying us on our first few missions but according to her, we are picking it all up quick enough to allow her to go back to her original assignment soon enough.

This part is for Russell.  How is it going, bro? I had to tell the doctor to piss off a few days ago.  You are really knocking it out of the park. I know that you will be heading off to university early but she is pressing the fleet to get you in even earlier.  She is also trying to convince the fleet to transport you out here to get some field experience. Is that something you would be interested in? If it is, between me and the doc, we can make that work.  Just let me know.

I love and miss you all.  I look forward to hearing from you again soon.  Thank you for all of the love and support you give me.  It isn’t easy being this far away from home. I hope that I am able to rotate home soon but it isn’t looking like I am going to get that wish.  One can hope. Take care.

 

Love,

 

Mitch

_______________________________________________________________________

August 6, 2434

Barren, Mitchell D., Staff Sergeant

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

 

Dear Dad,

 

I wish words could describe how proud I am to have the team I do and I wish that I could tell you who they were.  We have been told that we can share what we do within reason but they do not want us including the identities of the Wolfpack in our letters home.  Do me a favor and filter out or re-word it to what you think would be appropriate for Mom. I know you would find all this out anyway.

Our reputation is growing on the planet and throughout Outpost 86, though not many people know who or what we are.  They do, however, know what we are up to. At least, they know that there is a military unit moving around and collecting information.

This last week was a busy one.  We are still learning and our inexperience with this level of recon training nearly cost us two days ago, especially me, but when it comes to combat, my team is near flawless.

We had some of the locals come to the base to report that GFI had managed to slip some of their people into the population and they were planning something.  No information was known about what. The Wolfpack, along with our instructor, was tasked with physically searching for them while Fleet Special Investigations (FSI) tried other means of locating them.

The Wolfpack made it first.  We had to dress like the local population for our search and managed to slip into the town they were suspected to be operating in.  Still, don’t know how FSI figured that out but that didn’t matter so much. Same team.

FSI accompanied us on the search against our recommendation.  Our instructor lost it after the mission because of it. We don’t know who or how, but someone from the FSI team was recognized and the GFI team was warned before we even had a chance to gather enough information to choose a course of action.

There ended up being over 20 GFI cell members and they got the drop on the FSI team.  Basically, the matchup was 20 of them and 7 of us (4 Wolfpack and 3 FSI). One of the FSI agents was immediately caught in the ambush and killed.  The other two were severely wounded. None of them had even got a shot off.

FleetCom was monitoring all of our bio-metric sensors and they advised us that there was too much of a risk in us compromising our position and we were advised to not intervene.  Can you believe that? I could understand some pencil pushing tool-bags viewpoint but you all know me better than that. There was a Marine contingent en route but they were a little over 10 minutes out. Waiting was not an option.

The rest of the Wolfpack and our instructor were in complete agreement.  The FSI agents were incompetent and maybe even doomed, but there was no way we were about to stand by and allow them to die without knowing that someone at least tried to save them.

We quickly maneuvered to where they were pinned down.  We threw off the clothing we had that was hiding all our equipment and put on our eye-wear.  That was when we were able to identify that there was about 20 of them and they were in. They had a pretty good position and they were split up into 3 different groups but we had the element of surprise.

We split up into teams of two and snuck up on two of the three buildings they were occupying.  We managed to take out the individuals they had posted to watch their backs without being noticed.  It wasn’t until we got to the rooftops to take on the actual ambushers that we hit a problem.

The other pair managed to get onto the roof and take out their assigned targets quietly and without being noticed.  I and my partner were not so lucky. We got on the rooftop right as one of the GFI members was going to either switch with or check on (we will never know which) the guard they had posted.

We had no time to react.  I drew my pistol and put him down but it wasn’t quiet.  The other members on the roof turned but it was too late for them.  My partner already had his rifle up and ready and between that and my pistol, that engagement was short.  It was the third position that got us into trouble.

They saw what was happening and immediately shifted all of their fire on us.  My partner saw this before I did and he ran into me with a hockey-style check that put me on the ground just as a hail of incoming fire came in over our heads.

The other team engaged them from their rooftop and drew some of their fire.  As soon as we were able, we engaged as well and that split their focus. During this, our instructor made her way up to the third position and I don’t know how to describe what happened next.

She was majestic Dad.  The way she moved was so natural and it honestly looked like she was disgusted with how easy it was for her.  The best part….she wasn’t even armed with a firearm of any kind. She had two collapsible batons and she worked her way through the six men without a single shot being fired in her direction.  All of them still living and breathing. We were speechless.

After that point, the situation was concluded.  The prisoners were transported back to the outpost for interrogation and a thorough investigation was conducted.  Turned out they were planning to bomb an upcoming governmental rally to show the population what happens to local governments that allow the Fleet to occupy their planets.  They didn’t have any information on any other cells that might be on the planet but we will take the victory.

I put in my partner for an award.  His quick reaction saved my life, Dad.  Probably should leave that part out when/if you are going to tell mom.  Tell her I am sorry that I was unable to write a letter to her this week.  The investigation is still ongoing.

Love and miss you all.  I promise to write again soon.

 

Sincerely,

 

Mitch

_______________________________________________________________________

August 13, 2434

Barren, Mitchell D., Staff Sergeant

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

Dear Dad,

I had every intention of addressing this letter to Mom.  We almost made it through the entire week without any serious incident.  We are getting through the training requirements quickly and will be certified and out on our own soon enough.

Fleet Intel picked up so GFI chatter the day before yesterday and we were deployed to check it out.  Fortunately, this wasn’t anything like last time. The GFI position had no idea we knew about their presence.

FleetCom wanted prisoners so we couldn’t just identify the target and call in an air or orbital strike.  When we got to their position, which was about 2,400 kilometers away from the nearest settlement, we discovered they were in the middle of constructing some kind of tunnel system.

It was safe to assume they were planning on constructing some kind of permanent station that would provide them with protection from even air or orbital strike.  They had some intense digging equipment and were well underway.

If we would have had a larger fleet presence in orbit there is a decent enough chance they would have been spotted much sooner but with the coalition, fleet spread as thin as it currently is, things like this are more likely to be taking place.  I wouldn’t doubt it if there were more than just this one around the planet.

It is still a mystery how they were able to get all of this equipment past our orbital defense system but that is more than likely the reason FleetCom wanted the Wolfpack to nab a few prisoners.

We landed about two kilometers outside of their likely sensor range and managed to find three decent vantage points that provided extra concealment.  Once we had a reasonable idea of what was happening and their security situation, we came up with a plan to grab one of their sentries. I wish words could describe our luck.

We were keeping a close eye on a few of the more remote sentries they had placed when we noticed that a GFI officer was checking on the sentries with someone that wasn’t in a GFI uniform.  We couldn’t get a positive ID on either, which was no surprise but after 12 hours of close observation, we saw a pattern.

The officer and his companion were checking the sentries every four hours and at the midpoint between his checks, there was a sentry change.  Huge oversight maybe? Nerves? I don’t know. We identified the most isolated post and waited for them to do their next check.

Another one of the nifty devices provided by our Special Forces friend were those new laser pistols with a decapacitation feature.  The military calls them the Night Pistols because of their effect and how silent they are. I believe civilians call them stun-munitions.  The charge in each round is enough to bring down any man or woman and can deliver its charge through up to four inches of any kind of armor.

After 15 hours on sight, we saw the officer and his friend making their rounds and we readied our new toys and closed in.  We caught the sentries by surprise and had them incapacitated and out of sight before the officer arrived. We took up positions and as expected, the officer and his friend were right on time.  Idiots.

They were even easier to take down than the two sentries.  Since there was five of us and four of them, we each dragged one out of range while our instructor provided us with overwatch.  We called for a shuttle pick up and notified FleetCom about our prisoners. The GFI contingent never knew we had been there.

A battleship was dispatched and in orbital position above the GFI encampment and once we were out of range, a massive orbital strike was conducted.  I have to be honest, it was not the most awesome feeling. While the strike was every bit as impressive as any other orbital strike I have ever seen, the reality was hundreds of men and women were just blasted without ever having seen it coming.

I know what they are and what they have done.  The GFI has murdered hundreds of thousands of civilians during the course of this conflict.  They kill indiscriminately and had we not taken this encampment out it is likely they would have used it as yet another one of their murderous bases.  I just don’t like the idea of not seeing it coming. A soldier should be allowed to die with honor and dignity.

That being said, you should have seen it.  I have seen orbital bombardments from frigates and destroyers, but never a battleship.  We found debris several miles away from the impact site. No survivors were located after our search and none of their equipment was found intact.  I don’t know what happened to our prisoners once they were collected but that isn’t my place to wonder.

I hope that everything is going well back home.  I hope that the fleet is leaving you alone. I know they spent a long time trying to bring you back but I don’t know if you were ever aware they tried at one point getting me to try talking you into it.  I refused. I respect your decision, Dad. I know it was a difficult one. As far as I am concerned, you made the right choice for you and our family. Anyone who says differently is a fool and would never understand.

On another note.  The Doctor here, I can’t remember her name, the one Russell has been working with, is demanding that Russell be allowed to come out here and work with her.  It is amusing really. FleetCom has even started begging me to ask her to back off but she isn’t having any of that. They are starting to cave so let Russell know there is a chance he might be able to get some field experience before he even graduates.

I love you all and hope that you are well.  I am planning on taking some leave once the Wolfpack is finished with this training to come home and spend some time with you for a couple weeks.  Keep the letters and Tootsie rolls coming. Maybe even increase the candy. I have had to resort to hiding it because the rest of the Wolfpack enjoys good candy too.

Love,

Mitch

_______________________________________________________________________

August 27, 2434

Barren, Mitchell D., Technical Sergeant

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

 

Dear Dad,

 

We are currently in orbit over the first planet we have been tasked with scouting.  We did a preliminary touchdown yesterday to recon the landing site for the CSS Mako.  Fleet want’s complete surveys of the planet since we are here so they also ended up attaching a bunch of pencil pushing white coats to the operation as well.

Before departing Outpost 86 I was granted a field promotion to Technical Sergeant.  The Marine detachment’s Lieutenant was pissed off that an enlisted member was being put in overall command of the operation.  I have been given authority over everyone during ground operations due to the extra training and experience we have gained over the last 11 weeks.

While the jarhead was raising the fuss, there was the talk of commissioning me so he would shut up.  They asked my opinion on the matter and all I could think of was, though a commission would be great, that is not quite the why and how that inspires confidence in my men.  The promotion to Technical Sergeant was a decent enough compromise, although there is a potential commission in my future depending on my team’s performance.

During our time on the surface yesterday we encountered no wildlife.  We deployed the standard observational satellite system that the nerd squad brought with them and we were able to determine that there is wildlife on the planet.  We were unable to interact with any of it. Everything within 10 kilometers scattered when our shuttle finally made contact with the ground. It was not the most graceful landing ever.

We had a fire team of Marines with us for backup but we left them on the shuttle.  We did a thorough job of scouting everything within a kilometer of that sight and then did the same thing at four other sights.  It took the better part of a day, but we were able to learn what we needed.

The vegetation of this world is considerably different.  The colors don’t feel right, but that doesn’t make it any less spectacular.  There is a lot more blue plant life and it is strange because there is no liquid source that we were able to locate.  Even our scanners were not picking up any of the usual or familiar readings that normally accompany any kind of life.

Once we finished scouting all the different sights, we dusted off from the planet’s surface.  We brought all the rock and sand samples back and handed our readings over to the scientists so the white coats could decide which landing sights were optimal and which might not be worth landing at.  Wouldn’t make any sense trying to land the larger vessel down to the planet’s surface if we land on and sink into a damn sand pit.

We are waiting now.  More time for idleness and reflection.  I wish you were still apart of Fleet. I remember in my beginning years of enlistment, wondering why you refused to use your position to assist my advancement, and now I look back with gratitude.  Your not doing me any favors or providing any kind of special treatment was the greatest guidance of all.

In the beginning, officers and senior enlisted personnel would bother me because I was your son.  People were nervous during my first few assignments and they feared me, thinking I would go to you if I was ever dissatisfied and that you would destroy their career.  I would have to say that I attribute my current success to having to work my way from the ground up like everyone else.

Having earned the respect of my team and those in command is what lead me to where I am now.  Looking down on yet another new planet, in charge of a mission that could protect the lives of thousands.  The burden is heavy, but the path that has led me to this point prepared me well. I hope that I am making you and Mom proud.

Should be going back down in a few hours.  Satellite imagery has spotted a few open areas that look unnatural.  There have been potential non-native activity in those locations and my team and I are going to check it out.  The CSS Mako’s Ansible is top of the line so all messages will be instantaneous. I will write to you at the next opportunity I get.

I love you all and will try sending pictures one of these days.  Take care of yourselves.

 

Love,

 

Mitch

_______________________________________________________________________

August 27, 2434

Barren, Mitchell D., Technical Sergeant

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

 

Dear Dad,

 

We are currently in orbit over the first planet we have been tasked with scouting.  We did a preliminary touchdown yesterday to recon the landing site for the CSS Mako.  Fleet want’s complete surveys of the planet since we are here so they also ended up attaching a bunch of pencil pushing white coats to the operation as well.

Before departing Outpost 86 I was granted a field promotion to Technical Sergeant.  The Marine detachment’s Lieutenant was pissed off that an enlisted member was being put in overall command of the operation.  I have been given authority over everyone during ground operations due to the extra training and experience we have gained over the last 11 weeks.

While the jarhead was raising the fuss, there was the talk of commissioning me so he would shut up.  They asked my opinion on the matter and all I could think of was, though a commission would be great, that is not quite the why and how that inspires confidence in my men.  The promotion to Technical Sergeant was a decent enough compromise, although there is a potential commission in my future depending on my team’s performance.

During our time on the surface yesterday we encountered no wildlife.  We deployed the standard observational satellite system that the nerd squad brought with them and we were able to determine that there is wildlife on the planet.  We were unable to interact with any of it. Everything within 10 kilometers scattered when our shuttle finally made contact with the ground. It was not the most graceful landing ever.

We had a fire team of Marines with us for backup but we left them on the shuttle.  We did a thorough job of scouting everything within a kilometer of that sight and then did the same thing at four other sights.  It took the better part of a day, but we were able to learn what we needed.

The vegetation of this world is considerably different.  The colors don’t feel right, but that doesn’t make it any less spectacular.  There is a lot more blue plant life and it is strange because there is no liquid source that we were able to locate.  Even our scanners were not picking up any of the usual or familiar readings that normally accompany any kind of life.

Once we finished scouting all the different sights, we dusted off from the planet’s surface.  We brought all the rock and sand samples back and handed our readings over to the scientists so the white coats could decide which landing sights were optimal and which might not be worth landing at.  Wouldn’t make any sense trying to land the larger vessel down to the planet’s surface if we land on and sink into a damn sand pit.

We are waiting now.  More time for idleness and reflection.  I wish you were still apart of Fleet. I remember in my beginning years of enlistment, wondering why you refused to use your position to assist my advancement, and now I look back with gratitude.  Your not doing me any favors or providing any kind of special treatment was the greatest guidance of all.

In the beginning, officers and senior enlisted personnel would bother me because I was your son.  People were nervous during my first few assignments and they feared me, thinking I would go to you if I was ever dissatisfied and that you would destroy their career.  I would have to say that I attribute my current success to having to work my way from the ground up like everyone else.

Having earned the respect of my team and those in command is what lead me to where I am now.  Looking down on yet another new planet, in charge of a mission that could protect the lives of thousands.  The burden is heavy, but the path that has led me to this point prepared me well. I hope that I am making you and Mom proud.

Should be going back down in a few hours.  Satellite imagery has spotted a few open areas that look unnatural.  There have been potential non-native activity in those locations and my team and I are going to check it out.  The CSS Mako’s Ansible is top of the line so all messages will be instantaneous. I will write to you at the next opportunity I get.

I love you all and will try sending pictures one of these days.  Take care of yourselves.

 

Love,

 

Mitch

_______________________________________________________________________

September 3, 2434

Barren, Mitchell D., Technical Sergeant

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

 

Dear Dad,

We are nearly finished with our initial survey of this planet.  There were no complications during our preliminary scouting missions.  The Marines with us are getting pretty restless but I would consider that to be a good thing.  The scientists are nearly finished and we will move on to the next.

We were able to capture some of the local wildlife for study but other than that, there is nothing else out here.  The planet’s location is ideal in a strategic sense in terms of location, but it would be a logistical nightmare. We managed to find several different water sources and the water itself is compatible for human use, but there is some kind of microbial life within it that is not.

Not just that, it is actually fatal.  Before Mom starts worrying, you know to tell her that we brought enough water with us to last the entire crew for months and that isn’t even with strict rationing.  Plus, the microbe can be removed from the water and consumed, it would just take the kind of equipment that would make it not worth the military effort.

The water is infested with it.  We don’t have the equipment to see how long it would take to purify on an industrial scale, but with the equipment we have, it takes several hours for one liter.  The microbe, whatever it is, isn’t like anything we have ever encountered. The scientists are starting to throw words and phrases around like sentient and fighting back.  Being that it isn’t something we have ever encountered, it would stand to reason that not all purification methods would work.

The wildlife would also not be cooperative with human digestion.  They consume the water, and therefore, the microbes. Most of them have built up some kind of need for it in their bodies.  I think. I am a military man. I believe I have just about exhausted my scientific linguistic abilities.

We got word through ansible that another assault was made on Outpost 86.  Fleet Special Investigators and Fleet Intelligence determined that they spent the better part of a month smuggling ground troops and weapons planetside.  You worked intelligence for a while. Can you explain what they were thinking?

I understand the tenacity but the logic in some of these doomed attempts escapes me.  This isn’t like the history books where you are just trying to demonstrate that you aren’t afraid or the small hopes that the raid would be successful.  They sent something around the size of a battalion but Fleet Security Forces absolutely hammered them. There was never even a call made to the Marines. It was almost like they wanted to get rid of these men and the attack was so sad and pathetic that no journalist or reporters even bothered covering it.

Granted, if the attack would have done any damage or cost any life I would feel terrible for being all the way out here and unable to help my unit.  Based off what I was told, the auto defense system was more than enough. They even joked about removing some of the turrets because it was a waste of munitions.  Many of the attackers were hit by crossfire from multiple turrets.

Obviously, they have no intention of removing anything.  In the off-chance that was the purpose of the attack, the turrets are being left where they are, for the most part.  Adjustments are being made to some of the positionings of several turrets in order to increase round expenditure efficiency but that is about it.

It made me uncomfortable that I couldn’t help but we are in just as much if not more danger out here.  Any planet we set foot on is previously unexplored by the fleet. We are stepping carefully and taking every possible precaution, but that will not always be enough.  We have less than 20 fighting men on this vessel and we are taking on open space in a damn convertible. Running into any GFI vessel that isn’t a troop transport would be a disaster for us.

The Mako is a fast ship and has a fantastic crew, but the fighting capacity just isn’t there.  We could put up a bit of a fight but we are just too small and our munitions are mostly defensive.  We could take any individual vessel out, but to encounter more than one at any given time, we run. Mako may have some of the smallest guns, but she is a speedster.  As long as we don’t get caught in anyone’s targeting system, we stand a pretty fair chance of escape.

I have to mention a side note.  There is absolutely nothing that anyone can do about this, but I am hoping that our excursions will bring us within shuttle range of Midway Station.  There was this amazing bar not too far from one of our outposts that had good drinks but the strangest food. They said it was all food that is mostly no longer made or in circulation throughout most of the coalition but that part I can’t understand.  It was so good that I have been thinking about it ever since.

The place was called “Mira’s.”  They recommended this plate of little triangular things that were covered with cheese and some kind of ground up meat.  I think it was beef. There was also beans on it and the waitress told me that you are supposed to use the triangle things to scoop up the rest and eat.  I can’t remember what the dish or the triangle things were called but it was amazing. I would love the opportunity to take my team there sometime soon and order that meal.  So good.

I will talk to you soon.  Take care of everyone. I heard Russel is on his way to the research station near Outpost 86 so I will either write to him directly or see him as soon as we return.

 

Love,

 

Mitch

_______________________________________________________________________

September 10, 2434

Barren, Mitchell D., Technical Sergeant

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

 

Dear Dad,

This has been a rough week.  We were en-route to the next recon mission location on our list and the standard procedure is to jump in a minimum of one astronomical unit out.  On the Mako, we randomize it be rolling dice so there is no chance of it being predictable. All section leaders are present for several pre-rolls so everyone knows the di isn’t tampered with.

We jumped in about three astronomical units away from the planet and ended up less than 100,000 kilometers away from a GFI fleet.  The best guess was two battleships, 11 destroyers, and frigates (we weren’t able to get an accurate count of the types), at least one carrier, and a dozen other support vessels.  Our best guess was at least one or two were troop ships.

They noticed the gamma-ray burst from our entry immediately.  We knew that because two of the destroyers, four frigates, and one of the battleships diverted our direction almost instantly following our arrival.  Unfortunately for us, we had to wait at least 30 minutes for our jump drive equipment to recharge and reset and given the numbers, it wasn’t looking good.

Obviously, I am able to write to you now so you know things turned out all right but it was too close for comfort Dad.  The only things we had going for us were the fact that we were in a much faster ship and the crew of the CSS Make is some pretty hot stuff.  I am not joking Dad the men and woman that fly this vessel are the best I have ever encountered.

They started off by trying to outrun the GFI ships long enough for everything to recharge and reset.  In a race with no jump drives, the Make would win. This ships power and engine systems are the newest and most advanced in the Coalition’s arsenal and based on sensor readings, they were flying outdated rust buckets.

Unfortunately for us, they had charged and ready jump drives.  They could easily leapfrog us using a single jump and, outdated or not, vaporize us as they jump directly into our flight path and we fly right into their firing brackets.

Fortunately for us, the captain of the Mako not only knew it but saw it coming.  She was amazing, Dad. We have the weapon capacity to theoretically put up a fight but that would only work in a mostly defensive capacity.  Our captain used defensive weapons in an offensive manner and ended up taking out one of the destroyers, one of the frigates, and even damaged the battleship.

As she expected, all but two of the GFI vessels jumped ahead of us, but seeing this coming, she had some of the crew prepare several of the magnetic mines and two of our smart missiles for launch and release.  Once the Mako detected the enemy jump drives start to initiate their jump sequence, she launched the two missiles with preprogrammed targetting instructions and then executed a sharp 180-degree turn while simultaneously releasing four of the magnetic mines.

The GFI ships all jumped and appeared about 20,000 kilometers ahead of the direction where we had just altered course from and in the attempt to further pursue us, flew right into the ordinance we had deployed.  One missile struck a destroyer dead on while the other hit the stern of the frigate and completely destroyed the entire back half of the ship.

We detected that two of the mines were able to latch on the battleship and cause some pretty major damage but a battleship is still a battleship.  No matter how old, those things were designed to handle some serious punishment. The main bulk of the chasing ships were slowed but the two that had been behind us were now heading directly at us.

There were still three minutes left on the charge by the time we were within firing range so we had to endure the gauntlet.  Our defensive systems were able to hold off the missiles but their light rail cannons were a different story. They managed to get a few direct hits but only one was able to breach our hull and no one was near the breach.

That section of the ship was sealed off and we were able to make an escape jump not long after.  It was way too close and the captain admits it. It was a mixture of both good and bad luck. No one was hurt and we scored a few GFI warships destroyed but we also know now that GFI is making a move on one of the planets that we suspected.

I am not sure that GFI leadership will call it off but I do know that FleetCom was prepared for this possibility and has a fleet and a large number of troops standing by for our reports.  We will see what happens.

This is one letter that I prefer you do some next level sugar coating on for mom.  I don’t know that this incident would be reported but the engagement that is likely to take place between the fleet and GFI will be.  She knew that this planet was on our list (though she didn’t know the order) and she isn’t stupid. She knows my team is doing the recon for the outer planets.  It wouldn’t take much for her to figure this one out.

Please give my best to everyone.  I will keep you posted. There is a pretty good chance that we will be heading back to assist with the engagement.  We still have the only people in this part of the galaxy to gather the samples and conduct the tests that FleetCom wants to be done.  I will be in touch.

 

Love,

 

Mitch

_______________________________________________________________________

September 17, 2434

Barren, Mitchell D., Technical Sergeant

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

 

Dear Dad,

 

The last week started off hectic and ended with a result that was less than favorable.  It is a good thing your former position carries some weight because it is doubtful I would be able to tell you much.  I am sure the fleet understands there isn’t much they could do to prevent you from finding out so they let me share anyways.  For the most part.

We were wondering why we were not further pursued once we jumped out.  They had to know we no longer had the armament to put up much more of a fight.  Though we were able to escape the ambush and notify the fleet that the GFI was conducting a large operation in that sector, our response fleet was not able to get there in time to figure out what they were up to.

Using the ansible, our contact was immediate so the fleet knew to jump within minutes of our escaping, but the best guess is that having made contact with us was enough for them to not want to risk a larger engagement.  It took our response task force less than six hours to get to the GFI’s former location but they were already gone.

We transmitted the data to the CSS Valkyrie, the main battleship in our response fleet that the task force commander spends most of his time on, for analysis.  They escorted us back to the planet so that we could investigate.

Understandably, the Commander didn’t want to take any chances so two battalions of Marines were landed first to secure a large landing sight.  Once those Marines finished securing enough space for the CSS Mako to land planetside, they radioed us. We made planetfall and touched down right smack in the middle of them.

Once on the ground, we prepared to conduct our planetary recon mission so that the science team could do their survey.  I decided to take the small Marine contingent along for our recon and things went pretty well, for the most part. We operated fairly well together but I would be lying if I said we didn’t have some work to do.

Once we were done with the first recon patrol, I spoke with the Lieutenant in charge of our special Marine team and he agreed that we needed to do some remedial training with both of our teams operating together.  I have to admit, he isn’t so bad after all. I think he is starting to warm up to me, and I have to say, I am starting to feel that they aren’t a bunch of brainless jarheads after all.

The two battalion commanders, both Colonels, caught me completely by surprise when they asked me how I wanted them to move.  I am not quite used to that kind of rank asking me what to do but it was nice to see they were more focused on our mission and its intent than going on a GFI hunt.

I asked the two battalion commanders to perform a leapfrog security strategy while we did our survey.  Every time we selected the next sight, one of the battalions would take their combat shuttles in advance to secure the sight while the other stayed behind for security.  We chose all of our sights in advance and communicated them to the battalion commanders. Once we departed a sight, that Marine battalion would move to the sight after next so it would be secure before we finished the next and the process would be much faster.

It took less than 16 hours to complete our survey.  We didn’t wait for on sight analysis by the science team this time.  While we were ready for an engagement, we didn’t want a battle taking place because our science team was taking their sweet time.  We got all of the samples and data that we needed and made our way back into orbit. All of our findings were transmitted to the CSS Valkyrie and we stood by while their people assisted our scientists.

In the end, we were unable to identify what might have made the planet so interesting to the GFI, other than its location.  It was near enough to Coalition controlled space and the planet’s size and gravity was comparable to most human-friendly planets.  The water was compatible with the human body and there were some local vegetation and wildlife that was edible.

The best we were able to figure was that it would make a decent enough jump off point for a GFI fleet to be serviced and operated from.  All of that is a problem for fleet intelligence to figure out. We are heading back to Outpost 86 for a resupply and to have the CSS Mako serviced.

I am thinking I will surprise Russell when we get back.  There is this place just outside the installation in the nearest town that has some really good chow and it isn’t too expensive.  I am pretty sure he will like it. It will be nice to see him and catch up. Tell mom I promise not to pick on him or give him a rough time.  To be honest, I don’t much have the energy for practical jokes at the moment

Please give everyone my best and tell mom not to worry.  The fleet is taking pretty good care of us and the crew on this vessel are proving to be among the very best.  They will keep my team as safe as possible. I love you all and will talk to you soon.

 

Love,

 

Mitch

_______________________________________________________________________

September 24, 2434

Barren, Mitchell D., Technical Sergeant

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

Dear Dad,

In response to your last letter, no, there were no signs that GFI ever made landfall.  Once we made contact with them, telemetry indicates that the rest of their fleet paused where they were while their ships attempted to intercept us.  Beyond that, if they did make landfall, they covered their tracks too well.

Also, please tell mom that, while it would be greatly appreciated, I cannot give a good answer as to when a care package would find its way into my hands.  Given the way things are going at the moment, it could be a while for anything beyond electronic communication to get to me. We are going to be moving around at an even more rapid and random pace then we were before this contact.

Fleet has been on high alert for the past several days.  While the task force was unable to locate the GFI fleet we had run into, the Valkyrie finished analyzing the sensor data that we had originally sent them and the task force commander freaked.  Turns out we were lucky that we didn’t encounter them planetside.

The ship numbers were not shared but the troop numbers were since that information is most relevant to me and my team.  There were several personnel carriers and construction vessels that were among the GFI fleet encountered. Unless we encounter them again, there is no way to know for sure, but the intel boys and girls are theorizing that the GFI was intending on building a fleet installation.

Some of the construction equipment they were able to identify were the kind that the GFI has been seen using to construct orbital defense cannons and ship docking platforms.  The fact that we spooked them has the fleet going crazy even more because now we don’t know where they are. FleetCom wants the Mako to keep scouting and they want my team to stay aboard but the mission parameters are being altered.

I am pretty sure mom will appreciate that we have been ordered to find out what they are up to but not to engage unless absolutely necessary.  Given that our warship is a bit of a runt compared to most war vessels, the Captain was inclined to agree that was a reasonable order. We are currently attached to one of the fleet support vessels for repair and rearmament but will be setting off immediately.  I am afraid that Russell and my reunion will have to wait.

I would love any input you have on what you think the GFI is up to.  You were a member of the fleet the last time they made an attempt like this.  It is one thing for them to attack and/or raid a planet within the Coalition’s domain, it is quite another to make an attempt at a planetary seizure like this.  Do you think they have the kind of numbers that our fleet has been fearing they would attain? Do you think they are confident that they have the fleet and ground strength to take us on again?

Fleet Intel is being fleet intel.  You know what that is like. They share the bare minimum with us and more than half the time, they are way off base with their information.  I would appreciate your input. If you are able to get your hands on the data and give me your analysis, I would appreciate it. If not, don’t do anything stupid to get it, please.  While I would love to know more, I don’t want anyone getting in trouble over this.

Trust me when I say I have a great team, the Marines backing us up are among the best the Fleet Marine Corps has to offer, and the crew of this ship has proven themselves to be among the best.  If anyone can handle the challenges that lie ahead, it is us. We are prepared and equipped to get through any scenario we can think of. Tell mom that is the case. We will be fine.

I hope that this letter finds you all well.  I will do my best to take some leave and come home as soon as I am able, or as soon as they will allow.  Given how busy my team and I have been since receiving the assignment to Outpost 86, I kind of feel like they owe us some leave.

Please tell Russell that he needs to be careful.  That planet’s defensive systems may be up and operational, but that doesn’t stop insurgency from within.  Even the GFI is not so low as to target innocence when they can help it but that doesn’t mean it is safe out here.  You know as well as I do that nowhere among the stars is safe. You and mom also know that there can be no progress without risk.  Russell is going to be human progress. I just know it.

Please take care and I will write to you again next week.

 

Love,

 

Mitch

_______________________________________________________________________

October 1, 2434

Barren, Mitchell D., Technical Sergeant

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

Dear Dad,

 

Thank you for your letter.  Regardless of whether or not you are still an active member of the fleet, your opinion still carries a lot of weight.  Everyone I am working with knows who you are and knows that I am your son so when I tell them what you think, they listen.

We are all in agreement with your assessment.  The GFI fleet is looking for a jump-off point that is located somewhere on the outskirts of Coalition controlled space and is undoubtedly planning a major operation.  We are still working on finding the fleet that we lost track of but have not had any luck yet.

The last week has been spent doing some training with my team and the Marines.  While we do a lot of things differently, we are definitely making progress. We took it, in turn, to show each other different maneuvers and procedures in an effort to better understand each other and it paid off.

The Lieutenant and I shared many different strategies and our teams were able to practice with each other and form much stronger bonds than we had before.  Our roles will not be changing in future operations, but there has been plenty of progress made towards the earning of respect and appreciation for each others’ role out here.

There were even some maneuver’s he showed me that, I must admit, surprised me.  Marines so often do not get the credit for intelligence that they are doing. I have no intention of easing up on the paint eating and window licking jokes, but I certainly have a much better appreciation for the Marines than I had before embarking on this joint training exercise.

It is unfortunate that we have to cut it short.  We will hopefully be re-visiting joint training in the future but fleet received a distress call from one of the other recon vessels that have a similar mission to us but in a different sector.  Being that we are in the middle of a 2-week training cycle and not committed to a specific mission of our own, fleet wanted us to join the reaction force to investigate.

We are hoping that they have not run into any trouble that they could not manage but the distress call was uncomfortably brief and unspecific.  There are concerns that something bad happened. Nothing has been heard since and given that they have an ansible device aboard their ship, it was quickly anticipated that the only possibility is that things went south with their mission.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much more I have time to say.  We will be jumping to the last known location of their vessel before I even press the send button for this message so I will be heading for my battle station aboard the CSS Mako immediately.  I hope that you and everyone else are well. I will try to write again sometime during the week to give you an update but the klaxons are sounding now and it is time to go to work. Give everyone my best.

 

Love,

 

Mitch

_______________________________________________________________________

October 8, 2434

Barren, Mitchell D., Technical Sergeant

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

 

Dear Dad,

Technically, we found what was left of the missing ship, but we only found the debris that was left of it.  We were able to find a few of the bodies but there were still a few that were missing. The debris was located in the orbit of the planet they were tasked with searching so we are hoping that some of them managed to make it to the planet’s surface but we have not been able to locate anyone yet.

Given the situation and the fleet’s inability to locate the enemy battle group, they were unable to provide any assistance in searching the planet so my team and our Marine friends have been doing the search on our own.  It is a pretty big planet and we were unable to recover any data from the debris so we had next to nothing to go on.

I had the Mako do a spherical flight around the planet so that I could identify all the various locations that I would have picked for a recon mission.  Once we had every site that looked even remotely possible, we started to conduct a systematic search. It has been slow going but we had a somewhat confirmation yesterday that there are likely members on the ground.

We encountered some GFI ground forces that also looked they were searching for something.  There was eight of them but my team is pretty good and we had the element of surprise. We got lucky and they had split up enough so that we were able to capture them all piecemeal.  No casualties.

As a result of this encounter, I recalled the Marines and we brought our prisoners back to the Mako for an interrogation.  We want to find out how many others might be planetside before resuming our search and I feel it prudent for my team and the Marines to stick much closer together during our searches.

We had been searching adjacent locations, never too far apart so that either team to respond to the others’ location in a matter of minutes, but GFI being on the planet changes things.  If there is a larger presence, it might justify the fleet dispatching a larger contingent of troops to support us. Fortunately, fleet gave us an intel officer before we were dispatched to this search so he will be conducting the interrogation.

I have to admit, all things considered, this has been one of the more beautiful planets that we have been too.  Unlike the planet that was chosen for Outpost 86, this planet has much more vegetation, and there are even a few massive bodies of water.  We haven’t had a chance to do much sampling, given the current situation, but I would like to.

During our search, we also came across a mountain range that was absolutely amazing.  Those that feel they conquered life by climbing Everest would definitely not be celebrating it if they knew about this one.

The scientists we have aboard were telling me that range would not be an option to search because of its elevation.  They said that without oxygen masks, we would suffocate in a matter of minutes because of the likely lack of air. No chance to investigate at the moment though.

Some of us are hoping that we find a massive GFI presence out here but I keep having to remind them that even if we do, their fleet isn’t here.  The fleet is the problem. All of these minor engagements are just a preamble. Eventually, our fleets will find each other and I just hope that I am not aboard one of the vessels when they do.

What good would my team be in a fleet engagement?  Not to mention, it gets pretty claustrophobic aboard these vessels.  I have made a request that my team and the Marine team get a few days R&R the next time we have to visit a port for resupply.  The fleet agreed, provided the conditions allow for it.

The Mako could use some attention in a ship shop too.  We still haven’t had a chance to repair some of the damage done during our engagement with the GFI fleet.  Unfortunately, when we did our training last week, all they had time for was to ensure that the Mako was still flight worthy and the damage would not immediately or dangerously affect the ship’s operations.  That was when we got the distress call.

Unfortunately, I have to get back to work.  I am going to attempt a video link chat through our ansible with Russell once I have sent this but could you do me a favor and apologize to him for me if I am unable to reach him?  It has been difficult trying to communicate through video links with everyone given the schedule but we all knew that would happen. Please give mom my best and let everyone know that I am thinking about them while I am out here.

Talk to you soon.

 

Love,

 

Mitch

_______________________________________________________________________

October 15, 2434

Barren, Mitchell D., Technical Sergeant

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

Dear Dad,

 

We couldn’t find any of the crew of the missing vessel.  While there was definitely evidence of people planetside, we did a fairly thorough search and came up empty.  Typically, the fleet protocol will only allow for a week to search. After that, it is determined that the expenditure too greatly exceeds any gain from the recovery of any ship and it’s crew.

The fleet even allowed an extra 48 hours in this situation, given the sensitive nature of the ship’s mission but we still couldn’t find them.  Their statuses have been changed to missing in action and we have received orders to return to Outpost 86 so the CSS Mako can receive a full retrofit with all system updates and repair all the damage that enemy action and wear and tear have inflicted.

Both my team and the Marines are looking forward to some time off.  The only real breaks we have gotten over the last several weeks were when we could write home.  We are about 36 hours out from the Outpost but I have not yet told Russell. I request that you don’t either.  I would like to surprise him.

The scientists we have aboard the ship are quite gitty at the prospect of having access to a real science facility once we have returned so they can properly analyze all of the samples that were collected on the various planets that we visited.  I have no doubt that Russell will enjoy himself too. Him and that doctor. I can’t even remember her name now. Dr. Nerd.

I am looking forward to getting some time off but I do also have concerns, Dad.  I wouldn’t even know where to begin. The skirmishes between the GFI and Coalition fleets, as well as the increase in skirmishes on the ground,  is a clear indication that they are up to something.  Fleet intelligence hasn’t given us much information.

I know that the Mako’s Captain, the Marine Commander, and I, have all expressed our concerns to both our chain of command and the commanders of fleet intelligence, but I am getting the feeling that our warnings are either being brushed aside, or completely disregarded.  I know that my letters aren’t even a small fraction of the information that you have access to so I am going to ask that you please find out what you can and tell me what you are able to tell me.

Now is not the time for the whole “Classified” bull shit.  They may feel that the front line troops don’t need to know, which is beyond stupid in my opinion, but we are going beyond the front lines.  We don’t even know if we are stepping into territory that the GFI considers to be theirs and that is something that we need to be informed of.  While we would still continue our exploratory mission, we would do so with the correct type of caution, rather than flying blind.

I am going to see what I can dig up once we return to the Outpost and the Captain and Marine Lieutenant have agreed to go through their respective chains to do the same.  Hopefully, our mission will continue with better and more accurate information. Maybe better information might have saved the other vessel and maybe not, but at this point, it is unlikely that we will find out.

In other news, upon our return, I have been notified that fleet command no longer wishes to postpone my commission.  I was told that some of the officers that I was coordinating with during our previous engagement and search for GFI ground forces complained about taking instructions from an enlisted member, regardless of fleet orders.  They have decided that, even though it hasn’t even been that long, they don’t want to hear any more complaints.

They asked if I had any requests and I insisted that I thought a ceremony or celebration of any kind would be stupid.  They were reluctant at first but I managed to convince them. Being that it won’t take long to get the Mako ready to continue our mission, I asked that my team and I be allowed as much time as possible to be spent with friends and family on the planet, which included the Marines and the ship’s crew.  Fleet officials agreed. There will be a minor presentation in a few days and the rest of the time will be left to me and the other officers.

You read that correctly, the next letter that you receive from me will be marked, Lieutenant Barren.  As pleasant as that sounds, and as pleasant as the pay bump might be, I am not 100% sure I am that pleased with it.  They keep telling me that I earned it, but even so, Lieutenant just sounds and feels like a rank that was given away as if it were nothing.  I earned my NCO stripes and when you have them, everyone knows that you earned them. With the Lieutenant bar, not so much.

Luckily for me, I won’t be exposed to too much of the political garbage that entails.  Being aboard a vessel, and an especially small one where the entire crew knows who I am and what I have done makes things much easier.  I demanded that all of my men receive a rank bump as well and the fleet brass agreed. I don’t know how many other teams like us there are or if we are the only ones with this type of mission, but I am fairly certain we are the most experienced.

We are moving into jump position now so this is where this letter ends.  Please let mom know, I won’t pick on Russell too much when I get planetside.  I promise. Might even let him tack on the Lieutenant’s bars on my uniform. We will see.  Take care. I love and miss you all.

 

Love,

 

Mitch

_______________________________________________________________________

October 22, 2434

Barren, Mitchell D., Technical Sergeant

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

Dear Dad,

 

I have no doubt that Russell will have told you what happened.  I am so glad that I got a chance to see him and we were able to hang out and grab something to eat.  It was really nice being able to spend some time with him and catch up. Unfortunately, as you know better than anyone in our family, duty called.  We were planning an overnight trip to one of the mountain ranges that I had explored with my team but I got a call from FleetCom.

Fleet Intelligence intercepted some GFI communication’s that spoke about some of our missing personnel and were able to get their position.  The transmissions claimed to have possession of more than a dozen of our men and woman on a planet that was two jumps away from where they were declared lost.

Fortunately for us, they also claimed that they were together for the moment, but that luck won’t last.  They are about to be split into several different groups and transported to separate locations. We can’t afford to wait.  My team and our Marine contingent were all immediately recalled and the repairs on the CSS Mako were made a top priority.

Repairs and resupply were completed simultaneously within a matter of hours and all craft were grounded so that we could take off and get to our first jump point without anything being in the way.  We are too small of a force but at this point, the priority is to get eyes on where they are being held so that follow-on forces can mount a rescue operation.

We are lucky that there is a team of special forces that were boarding another craft and planning to rendezvous with us about eight to ten hours after we get there so we will have some time to touch down planetside and gather some intel before the ARRC team gets there.  My team is pretty damn good but those Advanced Recon, Rescue, Capture teams don’t mess around.

I thought about applying for a career change and joining their ranks in more than just an honorary function (like now), but my chain of command says that our current function is too important at the moment to warrant allowing us to take the kind of time it would take to properly get trained for it.  That is also why they are so adamant about saving the team that is currently in enemy hands.

Perhaps, someday I will be allowed the honor of joining the ranks of special forces but for now, that will have to wait.  We have work to do and too little time to do it. Just wanted to give you a quick update. I know that Russell understands.  Hopefully, I can make it up to him when I get back. He was also supposed to show me some of the things the doctor has him working on but the recall was so sudden that we never got the chance.

He was really excited about it too.  You should have seen him. Apparently, one of the creatures we found had a venom in their system that possesses some kind of medicinal properties.  Sadly, that was as far as we got due to my abrupt departure. I will let Russell tell you about it and I will hopefully get to find out soon enough.

Please give my best regards to everyone and tell mom I love her.  I will keep you posted on what happens. This could potentially affect us all so I hope that you and mom are still living by your “always prepared” motto.

 

Love you,

 

Mitch

_______________________________________________________________________

October 29, 2434

Barren, Mitchell D., Technical Sergeant

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

Dear Dad,

 

I am sad to say that things are getting more and more difficult now.  Our mission has been suspended due to recent circumstances. Suspended might not be the right word.  They are altering the parameters. We are no longer looking for locations that could potentially serve as GFI bases.  At least, not with the sole intention of information gathering.

While we were preparing to head back out, we got word that a large GFI fleet was spotted moving towards Earth space.  A task force was dispatched to intercept but they encountered heavy resistance. The engagement lasted for several days but the task force we had sent was too small and hadn’t had enough time to prepare for such a long engagement with enemy forces.

FleetCom did not anticipate that GFI would attempt such a large-scale assault in Earth space.  Current telemetry shows they are moving to take the station on Pluto. There are no resources within strike range that would be able to counter attack so the coalition did what they could to evacuate as many people from Pluto as possible.  Those that were left behind mounted a defense.

It was a daring but ultimately doomed defense.  We have had no further contact from anyone and it is assumed that all were lost.  The ansible connection with the Fleet outpost is offline. All vessels that were posted on Pluto were withdrawn to Mars and evacuation of Europa is already underway.

The hope is that defenses can be consolidated at the coalition bases on Mars and they can hold out until reinforcements arrive.  The task force I was assigned to was dispatched to respond. I have no doubt that you have been seeing a lot of movements so if you didn’t know why before.  You know now.

Up to this point, the engagements have been minor, relatively speaking.  This was a last straw kind of deal. Up to this point, we have been trying to avoid open large-scale military engagement, but that time has passed.  The coalition is tired of allowing this to continue.

My team has been tasked with finding any GFI leadership, military or civilian, and either apprehending or terminating.  I wish I could be there with you and help in the defense of Mars and Earth but this mission is something where I can make a much more profound contribution.

The Marines with us are just as pissed.  While we want to help, we know that this will be the best way for us to contribute.  We have confidence that the fleet will mount one hell of a defense and the GFI fleet will either be pushed back or destroyed.  To be honest, this doesn’t feel right. They should know that this would be a doomed attack.

All fleet outposts are being placed on high alert and all civilians have been notified of the dangers.  A temporary martial law has been put into effect so as to prevent as much collateral damage as possible.  Surprisingly, there has been almost no resistance to it. People seem to understand the dangers and are providing their full cooperation.

Near Outpost 86, several of the towns have even established volunteer groups to assist with battle damage control and assessment.  Different programs are being put into place for various situations and contingency plans for responses to different kinds of attacks are being formulated.  It is incredibly impressive.

I don’t want you to worry about Russell and neither does he.  Being where he is at right now, he is probably the safest of us all.  That science facility was one of the toughest and most secure buildings on the planet.  Probably even safer than the outpost itself. Also, all ground, air, and orbital defense systems are online and Outpost 86 has one of the more extensive in the entire coalition.  He will be OK.

I am more worried about you and Mom.  While most people, I’m sure, are considering going to one of the Fleet or Marine installations, you and I both know that is not the smartest or safest option.  You both need to stock up immediately on food and water and make use of that bomb shelter. The safest bet for anyone is going to be to stay out of the way.

I know you want to fight Dad but that isn’t your job.  While I know that intelligence is essential, it won’t do much good in this fight.  They know the GFI is coming. You and mom please stay home and be safe. And please don’t tell Mom what I’ll be up to.  I don’t want her to worry. I know she won’t be the only one but you and I both know this has to be done.

I love you both.  Be safe. Trust in the Fleet, and in me.  I will get those bastards Dad. I will get them.

 

Love,

 

Mitch

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November 5, 2434

Barren, Mitchell D., 2nd Lieutenant

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

Dear Dad,

I would like to start by saying yes, you read that correctly.  2nd Lieutenant. My excuse of wanting to maintain my position and status for the sake of my men was no longer acceptable according to the Fleet Admiral.  While the last week has been tough for everyone. My team has been experiencing some major success.

I heard that the outpost located on Pluto put up one heck of a defense and all of the outposts on Europa didn’t fare too bad either.  While there were still plenty of casualties, there were much less than expected. Any loss of life is unacceptable, but being able to save as many as the fleet did was truly a miracle.

Fortunately for my team, all outposts within the Sol Sector were able to keep the GFI fleets and ground forces engaged long enough for the CSS Mako to fly through GFI space unopposed. We aren’t sure if it was luck or poor planning, but whatever it was, I would love more of it.  Because of this free reign in GFI space, Fleet Intel operations were carried out with ease.

The GFI leaders and planners were so invested in this operation that they overlooked their personal and planetary security measures.  It turns out that most of them were not physically with their attack fleets and while they were directing their fleet and troop movements, they were paying little to no attention to their homeworlds.

I am unable to provide any names at this time but during the course of my team’s involvement with the investigation (everyone is calling it the Head Hunt now), we captured a few high ranking military officials that eventually sang like birds to their interrogators.  Using that information, my team and a few others spent every single day of the last week hitting several of the locations where they were coordinating this offensive from.

Apparently, they thought that because their coordinators and planners were so spread out and hidden away, it would be impossible for us to catch them all.  They assumed that if one of them was taken, one of the others would be able to step in to assume command of the mission coordinators assets. They didn’t account for all of them being taken into custody.

We didn’t have to kill any of them but I can’t say the same for the security teams that each had assigned to them.  We couldn’t use a show of force and fleet didn’t want to risk any of them getting away so each individual capture and extraction was done with extreme force authorized.  Fleet wanted this siege to fall apart before they were able to do any massive damage and I am inclined to agree.

I don’t know how close you were following the engagement progress but I am sure that you noticed there was a point where the GFI fleet and ground troops started to experience some disorganization and eventually, had to withdraw, even though some of the attacks were completely unopposed.

I am sure that each member we took into custody was able to relay to their elements that they were about to be taken offline through the ansible devices we found at each command location.  One or two instances would have probably gone unnoticed but we were told that FleetCom started noticing a change of GFI fleet movements once we took the fifth into custody.

By that time, they should have realized that something was going on.  I don’t see how they couldn’t. These locations were so well hidden that I have to admit, we would not have found them without the information gathered through our interrogations.  We grabbed some of them on planets that were completely uninhabited. Some of these locations were actually on our list to be checked out before the attack took place but they were slated so far down that it is unlikely we would have found them before they launched this attack.

While I am not permitted to tell you who we took into custody, I can tell you that more than 30 command and controllers were apprehended over the last five days and a majority of those were captured by my team.  Using the ansible, we were able to coordinate some of the incursions so that several members were being captured simultaneously. By the time they realized we knew where they all were, it was too late.

We had taken so many into custody so quickly that they didn’t have the time to organize or execute any kind of rescue or escape plan.  They had thrown most of their space-worthy vessels into this attack. Some of the captured eventually informed us that some of their controllers were able to escape but the lack of space-worthy craft made it impossible for all to be extracted.

They really took a gamble with this one Dad.  A gamble that doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.  They had to have known that there was no way this could have worked.  Their numbers were nowhere near a reasonable amount to pull off a massive offensive while also being able to provide adequate security for their homeworlds.

That is as much as we have been able to get out of them so far.  Our interrogators are working them over pretty good so they will eventually tell us everything we need to know.  I am just glad they were unable to make it as far as you guys. You have no idea how relieved I am. For a day or two, I wasn’t sure that we were having any effect, but then the Admiral told us that the Fleet attacking our outpost at Pluto started displaying acts of confusion.

Before long, other GFI fleets were also starting to exhibit some of the same confusion.  The last few sites that we hit were completely evacuated so we knew they were aware of what was going on and decided to pull back and regroup.  We continued operations all the way through the last site that was told to us. All the information we were provided was good but they saw that we knew what was going on and they changed their strategy.

FleetCom took notice of our success and I was given a field promotion to 2nd Lieutenant.  Personally, I could care less about the rank. I am just beyond relieved that you and Mom and safe and Mars was untouched by the assault.  I know that Pluto and Europa put up one hell of a fight but there was no way they were going to be able to hold out against that big of an attack.

I have to get back to work.  There are still no guarantees that this assault is over.  We know that the GFI fleet is still close by so my team and the Mako are going to do some recon in some of the adjacent systems to Sol and hopefully find out what they are up to.

I also wanted to let you know that Russell is ok.  He and the Doc were on lockdown the last week and were not authorized to use the ansible until this seige was dealt with.  The powers that be didn’t want anything other than military communication taking place to prevent any confusion. They continued their research and Russell is getting even smarter than he already was if that is even possible.

You and Mom take care of yourselves and make sure you are stocked up on food and water.  The siege may be over for the moment but we don’t know enough yet to ensure that this is all over.  You know how it works Dad. Don’t make any assumptions. GFI did and look where it got them.

I will talk to you soon.  Love you both so much.

Love,

Mitch

_______________________________________________________________________

November 13, 2434
Barren, Mitchell D., 2nd Lieutenant
4th Fleet, 4th Fleet Security Forces (FSF)

Dear Dad,

Things are starting to heat up pretty quick out here. It looks like the fleet is tired of putting out the fires that GFI is causing and is looking to adopt a more preventive strategy. They gave my team, the Marines that have been assisting us, and the CSS Mako’s crew, a few days of R&R before embarking on our new mission.

It is basically the same as the old mission but some new parameters have been added. The last mission was solely the gathering of information and avoiding contact wherever possible. That has been changed. Now, wherever possible, we have orders to search and destroy, if we can manage it with minimal to no casualties. They also say to “capture when possible,” but right after that, “do not risk capture if it is likely to cost a life.”

FleetCom is also lending us someone with a little more rank and authority so that engagement decisions can be made/discussed. I still have authority over the mission, but she will be helpful in determining strategies and whether or not a target is worth capturing or taking out. That sounds a bit cumbersome, I know, but I feel that will come in handy when a tough decision comes up. You know as well as I do those tough decisions are inevitable.

They gave us three days for R&R and wanted us to spend four days training. They left it up to me as to how I wanted to schedule but I saw no reason on this one to decide for my team. They decided they wanted to do the R&R first. I thought they might want to do the training first so the three days R&R would precede our journey but they were in the same mind as I was. They thought it best to do the training before lift off so they would be refreshed and in the right mind.

I count myself to be fortunate to have such a devoted team. The Marines and the ship’s crew all agreed. We spent some of our time in the town near Outpost 86 but everyone drifted off as time progressed and we all met back up at the last minute when R&R was over. It is unfortunate that I didn’t get to see Russell. I contacted him on his communicator but he and the doctor were several kilometers away on some kind of dig or sample gathering thing.

That doctor is really keeping him busy. I am just glad that the action isn’t deterring them from continuing their work. You and Mom should be so proud of him. I know I am. He is so committed to furthering human knowledge and understanding while the rest of us seem so keen on destroying it. I almost feel ashamed when I speak to him. Like what the rest of us are doing while he does his research and studies completely undermines his purpose in life.

I hope this war ends soon but it doesn’t look like it. We may have managed to beat back the GFI forces but they were able to supply reinforcements and establish a defensive line that is still deeper in Coalition controlled space than anyone is comfortable with. I am elated that we didn’t encounter those troops during our search and capture mission. We would not have been able to handle those kinds of numbers.

Unfortunately, it looks like they had other command and controllers on standby after all. There was enough confusion that we were able to beat them back but it didn’t last. It also would appear that the reason my team didn’t encounter much resistance during our mission was that they had all of their reserve troops awaiting orders to get into the fight and reinforce the attack.

Our capturing of their command and controllers caused a considerable delay in the GFI’s ability to issue those orders, but they did eventually come. FleetCom was able to push them back far enough to give our forces some breathing room so we are counting that as a victory.

I apologize but I am going to have to cut this letter short. I have just been summoned to a briefing with FleetCom before we depart. I will let you know how things go. Take care of yourselves.

Love,

Mitch

_______________________________________________________________________

November 20, 2434

Barren, Mitchell D., 2nd Lieutenant

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

 

Dear Dad,

We caught another controller and had to terminate another.  It almost feels like we are dealing with a hydra but we managed to learn something new from the one we were able to take alive.  It turns out that all of these controllers have been answering to one overall army commander back on what they consider to be their main home-world.

We were able to get the drop on the last mission’s target and he did not have the time to do a data wipe of his computers.  We left them intact and on-site and had the CSS Mako contact FleetCom using ansible. FleetCom immediately tasked a geek squad to come and check it out and they were able to disarm all the security measures that the GFI had in place.

From these computers, we weren’t able to get much.  Someone was able to conduct a remote data wipe, but not before we were able to learn a few more secrets they were trying to keep.  We are unsure who it is, but we know that there is one overall commander and we know what planet he is on. It is being discussed at a much higher level as to how we are going to proceed with this new information.

Unfortunately, we also know that the planet where he or she is located is not being treated like the rest of these mid-level officers.  It is their home-world. They aren’t trying to hide their presence on this world so there is a considerable orbital defense system. The tough decision will be whether or not FleetCom wants to risk a planetary assault or plan something a little more clandestine.  We will see what they decide.

We were also able to learn the location of a few more of their controllers and we also know that there are less than five left.  We are making progress. Of course, they will promote more, but at least their A team will be sidelined once my team is finished with them.

I wanted to tell you about the planet we found the last guy on.  I have to admit, the GFI has pretty good taste when it comes to selecting the planets where they have been posting their controllers.  This planet was mostly covered with what can only be described as a ton of tropical islands. There were a few that were almost big enough to be considered continents, but it was pretty much a planet of islands.

There was also a fantastic smell that is difficult to describe.  There were so many different types of fruits that we found planet side.  Some of them were even edible for humans. After we took possession of the controller, we had to wait a few hours for the geek squad so we took our team of nerds on a little expedition while the Marines guarded the compound and watched our new guest.

The white coats had a field day with the local plant life.  I contacted Russell and he passed on a few requests from his lab.  I had our science team gather some samples of a few different types of vegetation and we were even able to capture some different types of wildlife.

The different kinds of sea life were absolutely incredible.  There was one that I didn’t even have the words to describe. I am going to let Russell tell you about it when he gets a chance.  I am told that his reaction was something to behold. I, unfortunately, was unable to be there for it. Wish I could have been though.

The thank you note I got from him and his boss indicated that his reaction was probably not exaggerated.  I would have loved to have seen it. Duty calls. We still have a long way to go before this war is over and we can’t predict if everything will end once we do figure out a way to capture or kill the head of this snake.

It looks like things are starting to return back to the stalemate it was before this massive attack.  Fleet intelligence seems to think that they were banking on this attack catching us so off-guard that they would be able to steamroll their way to Earth and force a surrender.  No one seems to think that they were prepared for this engagement to be drawn out as long as it has been.

Just like the Japanese way back in World War II, they skipped some targets that would have caused a lot more damage in the long run but were not immediately important for the goal of taking Mars and Earth.  Targets, including ship supply and repair stations, munition and fuel depots, etc. They are probably regretting that right about now.

Oh well.  That is their problem and our benefit.  Please let everyone know how much I miss them.  I think about all of you all the time. I look forward to being able to come home and visit once things start to cool down out here.  I will talk to you again soon.

 

Love,

 

Mitch

_______________________________________________________________________

November 27, 2434

Barren, Mitchell D., 2nd Lieutenant

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

 

Dear Dad,

 

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.

 

Love,

 

Mitch

_______________________________________________________________________

December 4, 2434
Barren, Mitchell D., 2nd Lieutenant
4th Fleet, 4th Fleet Security Forces (FSF)

Dear Dad,

For the first time in weeks, I don’t really have much to report. We have been standing by the last few days and not much has been going on. Things have become a stalemate for the time being. We managed to push the GFI back far enough to provide comfort and security to the civilian populations that were in harm’s way.

We also took enough command and control centers out of commission to where there is a noticeable effect on the GFI attack forces. They have on scene authorities and it is clear that they have taken command. The individual units and attack groups are doing fine on there own but there is a noticeable difference in the overall picture.

We are working on getting into their communications but that is proving to be more difficult. We were hoping that the access we were able to attain from the command and control centers would get us into their radio chatter but that wasn’t the case.

Lucky for them and unlucky for us, the men and woman we were able to capture activated some kind of fail-safe that scrambled the ansible’s systems and won’t allow access into their comm network. Our tech experts are working on it but no one is holding their breath. It would have been a plus but I have yet to hear of a battle where one side got everything they wanted.

My team and I are starting to get a little worn out. We have had some sporadic time off but it has not yet been enough time to truly decompress. Most of them were cut short. My team is hanging in there but they are going to need a real breather sometime soon and more than a day of access to fresh air and open space.

The ship may have a pretty good amount of space when you factor in the size and compare it to the ratio of most ships and the number of crew members aboard, but no matter what the size, you always know that you are still living in a metal can. Constantly breathing recycled air and drinking recycled water eventually will take its toll on anyone, no matter how much training.

The word from some of my guys back at the outpost are telling me that there is the talk of having my team reassigned back to the outpost. To be honest, I think my team and I would find that to be a nice change of pace. We love to travel but there are times when a break from travel is also nice. That decision will depend on too many things though. The outcome of this GFI attack for starters.

There would also be a lot of changes if that were the case. Now that I hold an officer’s rank, my position within the unit would have to change. They spent a pretty large amount of money training my team to do what we have been doing so I don’t foresee administrative work of any kind in our immediate future. At least, not a full-time administrative position.

It would be nice to be able to spend a little more time with Russell though. Who knows? Maybe some of his intelligence will rub off on me and I can consider going back to college at some point. I can see it now. Me, sitting in a college government and economics class, surrounded by a bunch of kids more than 10 years younger than me, asking questions about the war with the GFI, and then the professor giving answers that I know to be false because of security classifications.

Now that I think about it. I don’t know if that would be a good course of action for me. I am already an officer in the Fleet now and I didn’t require a degree to get here. I have to tell you Dad, I believe that this is going to be my life. I know I was on the fence and you and Mom thought I would be done after my 10th year, but things have changed.

I am doing well and I am doing good. I am serving with good people and the things we are doing are right and just. I can’t imagine doing anything else that would satisfy me as much as what I am doing here and now. We are making a difference and our work is saving lives. This is the path for me. I think I have made my decision Dad. I am going to make Fleet service my career.

Plus….I get to shoot all the coolest guns, play with the most advanced military technology available, and Dad, I get to blow shit up (please leave this paragraph out when you read this letter to Mom). You know how it is. This is what I dreamed of when we were kids. I love this shit, Dad. The adventure and excitement. I don’t want to walk away from this.

Well, it looks like we are now heading back to Outpost 86. I will keep you posted as to what is going on once we get there and get our orders. I hope that you and Mom are well. Please give my best to the rest of the family. I love you all.

Love,

Mitch

_______________________________________________________________________

December 11, 2434

Barren, Mitchell D., 2nd Lieutenant

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

Dear Dad,

The last few days have proven to be rather interesting.  I just hope that it ends up being a good thing. My team was granted some time to get some rest and to decompress a bit.  It was initiated at Outpost 86. Given the nature of our work, they don’t want us going off-planet but they also knew that we needed a few days of being left alone.  They met us halfway.

We were allowed anywhere on the planet given that someone on the base knew where we would be.  It wasn’t much, but it was good enough. I managed to snag Russell away from the lab for a few hours and we went into the nearest town to get some lunch and catch up.  I hope that he has been writing to you. He is really blowing them away out here.

I talked to some people about him and there is chatter going around that they are going to bring someone out to finish his formal education as quickly as possible.  He is going to be a pretty big deal out here. I know how proud of him I am so I can only imagine how proud you and Mom must be.

His appetite hasn’t changed much though.  Apparently, once I introduced him to the nachos out here, that was that.  He asked me to come up with a work out program for him that he can safely go around the lab.  When he orders these nachos he gets everything on them. I don’t blame him. The chips are always crunchy, never stale, the cheese is always hot and never grainy, the beans, meat, sour cream, lettuce, and tomatoes are always fresh, and when all this is combined, it makes a plate of irresistible and crunchy deliciousness.

The people in town are still warming up to the Fleet presence on their homeworld.  They love the money that our service members bring to town but that is about the extent of their appreciation for us.  Outpost 86 was meant to be the jump-off point for further exploration, instead, it has become the rally point for ship and troop deployment to combat this latest GFI threat.

That being the case, troop and fleet numbers have greatly increased and while that is good for business, it is also creating other issues.  Supply shortages, late deliveries due to the increase in security measures, and some additional trouble from other causes. Troops will be troops.  That, unfortunately, led to a bit of a brawl while Russell and I were out to lunch.

Do not fear though.  It was not difficult to move him out of harm’s way.  Even though I am not around as much as I used to be, the owner still remembers me.  I moved him to her office and then assisted in restoring order. It didn’t take long.  The owner’s bartender just so happened to be a Marine, once upon a time, and I jumped in to help him remove the trouble parties from the establishment.

No physical damage to either of your sons, I assure you.  That was when things got interesting. The owner thanked me and then asked if I would be coming around for dinner.  She even told me that if I did, there would be a plate of nachos and a captain and coke waiting for me, on the house.  How could I refuse?

After Russell and I finished our lunch, we went for a hike not too far off base.  It was near one of the cave systems I explored a while back. We got in some exercise and enjoyed a nice and relatively quiet afternoon.  It was nice being able to catch up in person. I dropped him off back at the base not too long after.

I went back to the bar later that evening and she joined me for my meal.  Come to find out that she has been trying to find out when my team would be back for a while.  My team was in here a lot before we got our new duty assignment and she was under the impression that she might not be seeing me again.

I couldn’t believe it but she asked me to go on a date with her while we sat there having dinner and told me that she would understand if I said no.  I agreed that a date would be nice but I also explained to her the nature of what I do and that it might not be in her best interest to go out with someone like me.  She told me that she understood and didn’t care.

The next day, I took her out for dinner and we had a pretty nice time.  She is absolutely beautiful, Dad. Only a few inches shorter than me, long and wavy brown hair, the bluest eyes you have ever seen, and a sense of humor that was able to tolerate my personality throughout the date.  We ate and danced and it was a wonderful time.

I explained to her that a relationship would be extremely difficult but she claimed not to care.  She said she would like to at least correspond with me to see how things go. I agreed to give it a try.  We spend a few more days going on dates and even a couple hikes but you know how it goes Dad. My time off came to an end and I am now awaiting new orders with my team.

Not sure yet whether we will be redeployed to conduct further recon or possibly reassigned back to Outpost 86.  Time will tell. I will keep you posted. Please give everyone my best. I will write again soon.

Love,

Mitch

_______________________________________________________________________

December 18, 2434

Barren, Mitchell D., 2nd Lieutenant

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

Dear Dad,

I hope that you and Mom have something nice planned for the holidays.  I am not quite sure where I will be or what I will be doing but it is unlikely that any of us will be off.  It has been a few weeks since the last major encounter with GFI forces but that doesn’t mean they aren’t still out there.

There is still a pretty large fleet unaccounted for that could be lurking somewhere close by.  Until we find and deal with them, no one back home is safe. There is nothing I want more than to make that a reality for you and everyone else on our homeworlds.

I discussed it with my team and even the Marines that have been supporting us agreed that they wanted in on the action.  We are joining the search effective immediately. We were not originally assigned the task but I spoke with an Admiral from FleetCom and he agreed that any assistance would be welcomed.

There was a large number of ground forces that were accompanying the GFI fleet and so our mission will be to locate them and determine what they might be up to or planning.  If they haven’t yet retreated back to GFI controlled space, there must be a reason. We will uncover what that is as quickly and safely as possible.

Until that happens, everyone is on full alert.  There have been some complaints but the threat is still all too real and everyone knows it.  Even though we were able to beat the attack back, that doesn’t make them any less desperate or dangerous.  For all we know, they could be trying to bait our main forces so that another fleet could launch an attack when and where we aren’t looking.

Intelligence gathered suggests that there is a good chance that the fleet dumped their ground forces off somewhere and took off.  The ground forces have had enough time to dig in deep enough to protect them from any kind of orbital bombardment. There are plenty of unoccupied worlds where they could be with enough resources to maintain a big enough force.

We will let the fleet sniff out the GFI’s fleet.  Our job is the ground forces. There is little chance that any kind of significant force wouldn’t leave some noticeable signs of activity on the surface so we will be conducting orbital surveys of every world we go to.  Any world with signs of use that are supposed to be unoccupied will be thoroughly investigated.

It is pretty much the same thing that we were already doing but instead of new worlds, it will be worlds that we have already charted.  It is most unfortunate that the worlds were cataloged but nothing was left behind to at least monitor for any signs of activity. Yet another one of our Armed Forces leadership blunders has come back to bite us.

I hate to say it Dad but this lack of foresight is likely going to cost a lot of lives.  When we do find them, they will have had plenty of time to prepare defensive positions. We will have to root them out and it is going to get messy.  Had we been able to identify where they are in a faster manner, we might have been able to hit them before they were able to dig in. Now, not so much.

I have been keeping in touch with that girl I was telling you about.  She is pretty good when it comes to keeping in touch. While I am unable to write back as often as I would like, she is pretty consistent.  Things at the barkeep her pretty busy but it is pretty clear she understands how important letters are to military personnel.

Let me know if there is anything I can get you or Mom or anything within my power to do so that your holidays can be more enjoyable.  I will tell you this, I have sent a surprise for you. I hope that it gets to you in time for Christmas. You know how delivery goes. No matter how advanced technology gets, Christmas time will always muck up the delivery services.

Take care and give my love to everyone.

Love,

Mitch

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December 25, 2434

Barren, Mitchell D., 2nd Lieutenant

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

Dear Dad,

Before I say anything else, I would like to wish you and Mom a Merry Christmas.  Please express my well wishes for the holidays to everyone else as well. I hope that you have plans to make the day a special event.  I must apologize now. I wanted to get you something and had every intention of doing so once we got to Midway Station.

We were supposed to be stopping there for a 48-hour refit.  The CSS Mako needed some mechanical upkeep that had to be conducted there so we were supposed to have that time for some liberty.  Unfortunately, that ended up getting canceled. I am sure that by now, you know exactly why.

We pulled in to the port on Wednesday as expected but before the Mako could even begin initiating the docking procedures, we got an emergency call from FleetCom.  We were instructed to disengage from docking procedures and to immediately rejoin with the rest of 4th Fleet.

It only took us about an hour to get to where the rest of the 4th Fleet was gathering.  Intelligence claimed that they discovered where the GFI might have set up a small forward operating base (FOB) on Mars.  No one knows how it was missed during security sweeps but that didn’t matter.

We immediately set out for Mars while the 4th Fleet came up with an assault strategy that they hoped could be kept relatively quiet.  I am fairly certain that you know by now that didn’t work out too well. What a mess they made.

The CSS Mako got us into orbit above the suspected location but we didn’t want to risk whoever might have been on the surface that we were aware of their potential presence.  We took a shuttle down but we landed in the nearest settlement with the Marines to back us up. We got our hands on a couple trucks and made our way towards the suspect location.

We parked the trucks a little more than 10 klicks out and made our way on foot with the Marines in tow.  We had the Marines set up our own little FOB about two klicks from the suspect location and my team proceeded the rest of the way alone to conduct some reconnaissance and see what we could figure out.

That was when things started to go sideways.  It is no one’s fault. The intelligence we received didn’t tell us enough, that is why we were there, but we couldn’t have known the GFI’s numbers or defensive situation.  We were able to get eyes on their base of operations but one of their security patrols stumbled upon the Marines while they were setting up.

The Marines were able to make short work of the patrol but not before the patrol was able to send a distress call to alert the FOB that Coalition troops were nearby.  The FOB went on high alert and we lost the element of surprise. They couldn’t see us because of our adaptive camouflage so they started lobbing ordinance in several different directions.

The Mako was in orbit to keep overwatch and to let us know if any air or spacecraft attempted to enter the area of operations but they were also maintaining contact with the 4th Fleet.  They informed the Admiral that we got burned and the hostilities began prematurely. We still had no idea about GFI numbers or equipment.

The Marines set up hasty defensive positions while we kept our eyes on the base but that wasn’t going to do much good.  We watched as nearly 200 bodies ran out of a tunnel system that must have been dug out recently and they ran towards the Marine’s position.  We gave them the heads up and told them to bug out and await reinforcements but they refused. Stubborn bastards.

The sentiment was nice but the next hour was chaotic.  I couldn’t let them fight on their own Dad. The numbers were no good.  I commanded two of my men to maintain a visual on the FOB and I took one with me to provide support for the Marines while we waiting for the 4th Fleet.  Longest 30 minutes of my life Dad.

The Marines put up one hell of a fight.  Fending off wave after wave. Given the circumstances, I can’t believe they didn’t suffer worse casualties.  I have to give them credit, they may be a bunch of crayon eating jarheads, but there is no other service I want getting my back more than a Marine.  They are fighters to the end and they put up a fight for the history books.

By the time the 4th Fleet arrived and landed ground support, the Marines had completely beaten back the attacking force.  The fleet landed an Army regiment and they took over from there. My team managed to conduct a basic perimeter recon of the FOB while the Army was landing and we gave them all the information we were able to gather.

I had hoped they would have been a little more strategic with the information, but it was the Army.  They disregarded most of what we gave them and just went straight in with an attack. They may have won the battle, but their casualties were appalling.  They called it a win, but I call it a disaster.

Our Marine contingent, fortunately, did not suffer any deaths, but more than half of them sustained wounds, three of which are critical.  Medical tech is taking care of them but one of them might not make it. Medical is telling us it is still not clear whether or not he will survive.  We got them all back on to the Mako and hauled ass to Midway Station. Their medical facilities are second to none.

We will be here for a while but I have spent the last few days going over the intelligence that the Army gathered with the Marines still able to fight and discussing what our next course of action might be.

I wanted to give you the heads up because I know you had to have heard of my team’s involvement by now and I wanted you to know that we are all physically and mentally OK.  No permanent damage. I also wanted to wish you a Merry Christmas. I will try to keep you posted. Please have some prime rib for me.

Love,

Mitch

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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

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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

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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

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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 being 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

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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

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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

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February 19, 2435

Barren, Mitchell D., 2nd Lieutenant

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

Dear Dad,

I love being out here and seeing the universe.  I have been on so many different planets that it is getting difficult to keep count without going through my mission reports.  Never in my life did I think I would get so lucky. It is truly magnificent.

I remember when you used to tell us stories about a time in history when people considered themselves fortunate to see other continents on Earth.  And now, here I am, flying around the galaxy in an intergalactic spacecraft, hopping from planet to planet.

You know the most important thing I am realizing is the amount of time my team and I spend staring at the interior of various spacecraft.  We have a lot more time on our hands than people might think. The travel is pretty fantastic, but we get sick of being so confined for long enough periods of time.

This may be the most bipolar letter I will ever write to you.  I love flying around out here but the confinement sometimes has the ability to drive me to my breaking point.  The same thing goes for my team. We love what we do but at the same time, the time between missions can get maddening.

I don’t even remember what this planet is called.  We are currently in orbit over yet another GFI Stronghold.  This one is by far the most massive one we have come across yet.  We touched down a few days ago and scoped out the place but once our main force hit the ground we were pulled.  The fighting was expected to get pretty nasty this time.

There must have been at least three or four thousand GFI troops on the ground and they had a fairly impressive and extensive system of defense in place.  They also had some kind of shielding on the part of the installation that was above ground and as far as we could tell, the majority of their installation is below ground.

An orbital bombardment was attempted but based on initial contact reports, it isn’t looking like much damage was done.  Everything above ground was softened up pretty good, but I am thinking they put that stuff above ground on purpose. Our casualties are already mounting much faster than Fleet leadership out here anticipated.

We have managed to take and question a few prisoners but they are all providing conflicting information.  It is starting to look doubtful that we will get any good information until we manage to get our hands on one of the GIF leaders or their computer systems.

So far, we have managed to irradicate about a third (according to our best estimates) of the GFI forces planetside, but it is starting to look like we are not going to know for sure until we have control of their installation.

They actually dug out a tunnel network Dad.  I remember those stories you used to tell us about the Japanese during World War II or the Vietnamese and Viet Cong during America’s attempt to keep the North out of the South to prevent the spread of communism.  It is absolutely blowing my mind seeing it firsthand.

Even with the technology we currently possess, as far as we have come, the only way to completely destroy the enemy is to dig them out with manpower.  They have managed to counter our most advanced technologies by using shovels. It is actually quite impressive when you stop to consider it for more than a few seconds.

By going backward, they have managed to render our technologies useless and put us on a much more even fighting situation.  In a way. Not really though. We are still going to smoke them out. There might be a few more casualties on our side than our usual engagements, but that won’t matter much to FleetCom.  They have already determined acceptable casualty numbers and it is doubtful, though not impossible, that tunnels will make that much of a difference.

How are things back at home?  I am hoping that everything is a little closer to normal now that we have managed to push all GFI forces back away from our home system.  It isn’t looking like they will be able to recover from this mess they have made but I am not making any assumptions. Hope for the best but prepare for the worst.

Please give my best to everyone and know that I am always thinking about you all and I look forward to the day where we can reunite and all go to dinner and a show together.

Love,

Mitch

_______________________________________________________________________

February 19, 2435

Barren, Mitchell D., 2nd Lieutenant

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

Dear Dad,

I love being out here and seeing the universe.  I have been on so many different planets that it is getting difficult to keep count without going through my mission reports.  Never in my life did I think I would get so lucky. It is truly magnificent.

I remember when you used to tell us stories about a time in history when people considered themselves fortunate to see other continents on Earth.  And now, here I am, flying around the galaxy in an intergalactic spacecraft, hopping from planet to planet.

You know the most important thing I am realizing is the amount of time my team and I spend staring at the interior of various spacecraft.  We have a lot more time on our hands than people might think. The travel is pretty fantastic, but we get sick of being so confined for long enough periods of time.

This may be the most bipolar letter I will ever write to you.  I love flying around out here but the confinement sometimes has the ability to drive me to my breaking point.  The same thing goes for my team. We love what we do but at the same time, the time between missions can get maddening.

I don’t even remember what this planet is called.  We are currently in orbit over yet another GFI Stronghold.  This one is by far the most massive one we have come across yet.  We touched down a few days ago and scoped out the place but once our main force hit the ground we were pulled.  The fighting was expected to get pretty nasty this time.

There must have been at least three or four thousand GFI troops on the ground and they had a fairly impressive and extensive system of defense in place.  They also had some kind of shielding on the part of the installation that was above ground and as far as we could tell, the majority of their installation is below ground.

An orbital bombardment was attempted but based on initial contact reports, it isn’t looking like much damage was done.  Everything above ground was softened up pretty good, but I am thinking they put that stuff above ground on purpose. Our casualties are already mounting much faster than Fleet leadership out here anticipated.

We have managed to take and question a few prisoners but they are all providing conflicting information.  It is starting to look doubtful that we will get any good information until we manage to get our hands on one of the GIF leaders or their computer systems.

So far, we have managed to irradicate about a third (according to our best estimates) of the GFI forces planetside, but it is starting to look like we are not going to know for sure until we have control of their installation.

They actually dug out a tunnel network Dad.  I remember those stories you used to tell us about the Japanese during World War II or the Vietnamese and Viet Cong during America’s attempt to keep the North out of the South to prevent the spread of communism.  It is absolutely blowing my mind seeing it firsthand.

Even with the technology we currently possess, as far as we have come, the only way to completely destroy the enemy is to dig them out with manpower.  They have managed to counter our most advanced technologies by using shovels. It is actually quite impressive when you stop to consider it for more than a few seconds.

By going backward, they have managed to render our technologies useless and put us on a much more even fighting situation.  In a way. Not really though. We are still going to smoke them out. There might be a few more casualties on our side than our usual engagements, but that won’t matter much to FleetCom.  They have already determined acceptable casualty numbers and it is doubtful, though not impossible, that tunnels will make that much of a difference.

How are things back at home?  I am hoping that everything is a little closer to normal now that we have managed to push all GFI forces back away from our home system.  It isn’t looking like they will be able to recover from this mess they have made but I am not making any assumptions. Hope for the best but prepare for the worst.

Please give my best to everyone and know that I am always thinking about you all and I look forward to the day where we can reunite and all go to dinner and a show together.

Love,

Mitch

_______________________________________________________________________

February 26, 2435

Barren, Mitchell D., 2nd Lieutenant

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

Dear Dad,

I still maintain what I told you in my last letter about being out here and seeing the universe but I need to make a slight amendment to my statement.  I still love it and I still consider myself lucky, but there is a slight catch. I do not like being aboard a vessel that is in the middle of a combat engagement with enemy ships.

I am sure that by now you have guessed, since the last time I wrote to you, we were involved in a combat engagement with GFI vessels.  You would be correct. It also ends up being one of the few times in the military where I don’t believe I could possibly be more useless and possess absolutely no control over the situation.

My team was assigned to assist in damage control, along with the Marines, while the Marine Lieutenant and I stood on the bridge to assist the Captain in any way needed.  She didn’t need it. While I hate the lack of involvement in the situation, I have to say, watching her thump those GFI ships was amusing for us, and quite shameful for them.

There is even a part of me that is convinced she was disappointed in the lack of challenge and when I discussed my theory on it with the Marine Lieutenant, he agreed.  We took a few hits but some of the more recent modifications made to the CSS Mako were meant for this kind of engagement. Much better armor and shielding, combined with the additional weapon systems, made this entire engagement a one-sided fight.

As a result of this engagement, FleetCom has ordered us to return to Outpost 86 for a debriefing.  While it is nice that the battle was so one-way and less than five minutes in we knew we were in complete control of the battlefield, the circumstances surrounding this engagement are somewhat troublesome.

I can’t go too far into the details on that, but I can say that even though we crushed them, everything about the fight is being hushed, other than the fact that there was a fight.  Even though we completely dominated, there is no way we can hide the fact that our ship was in a fight due to the damage we sustained. Nothing major, but more than enough to be noticeable.  We will need some repairs and that is going to involve parts and paperwork.

I am looking forward to another break.  It has been a few weeks since our last nacho binge and I would love a chance to catch up with Russell and see what he and his fellow white coats are up to.  He is going to do such great things. I know that you and mom are proud of him. I am too. I am glad he is breaking the cycle and going the science route.

I love what I do but there are times when I wouldn’t wish some of these hardships on anyone.  It would break my heart thinking about Russell trying to get by in this kind of life. I promise you and I promise mom that I will do whatever it takes to keep encouraging and motivating him to stay on the path he is on.  It is a good one and it is perfect for him.

They are talking about potentially letting him accompany planetary reconnaissance vessels in the future.  He is catching the attention of some high ranking people. They like what they are seeing. His research into planetary biology and ecology is incredible and the fact that he is so young is making some pretty big waves.

If that comes to pass I will look into making sure that he has the best security team and vessel crew available.  I know that Fleet research and development teams could use help in their field of planetary exploration. There haven’t been any casualties in those departments yet but with all of the military escalation that has taken place, they are understandably much more nervous when it comes to setting foot on previously unexplored worlds.

Given the fact that there are so many of them out here, I am not surprised that FleetCom is looking into potentially contracting exploratory security out to private military contractors.  I am not a big fan of PMC’s looking out for Russell, but we will see how things go. It is still in the development stages.

I just got word from FleetCom.  They want us in a briefing via ansible on Tuesday, time to be determined, so I will be at Outpost 86 for at least 48 hours.  That is good to know. Plenty of time for some nachos. Might even try taking my girl out on another date. Long distance relationships are difficult, but given how busy we both are, it isn’t proving to be impossible yet.

We write to each other often enough and knowing that we are both more than capable of taking care of ourselves makes things a whole lot easier.  In fact, as soon as I am done with this, I will be writing to her to let her know we are en route now and should be touching down at Outpost 86 within the next few hours.

I will keep you posted on things.  Please give mom and everyone else my best.  Miss you all.

Love,

Mitch

_______________________________________________________________________

March 5, 2435

Barren, Mitchell D., 2nd Lieutenant

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

Dear Dad,

I want to start this letter by letting you know that both Russell and I are safe.  My team and my girlfriend as well. The same cannot be said for a lot of the fleet personnel that are assigned to Outpost 86 but the situation could have been a whole lot worse.

It looks like the GFI attackers were not anticipating the fleet presence that they ended up facing.  Luckily for FleetCom and Outpost 86, we were not the only ship that just so happened to be present for a retrofit when GFI forces attempted their assault.  There was also a troop ship and two destroyers from 3rd Fleet.

That being said, the fight was anything but one way in the beginning.  The extra manpower and support on our side just made it an almost even fight, almost.  They still outnumbered us by a noticeable amount, but having an extra battalion of fleet Marines and two destroyers prevented this from being a massacre.  We were able to hold them off long enough for help to arrive.

There is still some fighting going on but we have managed to hold them back long enough for the rest of the 4th Fleet to be recalled and to tip the scales completely into our favor.  It is now a pretty one-sided fight and we should have the problem eradicated within the next few days. The GFI ground troops made an attempt to evacuate but our 4th Fleet chased all their craft away and cut off all support.

All scientists and civilian personnel were able to be evacuated to the battle bunker that was set up for them in the case of this type of incident and all are present and accounted for.  I personally saw to it that Russell was there and safe. My team took charge of ensuring all noncombat personnel was safely out of the way and we were able to complete the task before the real attack began.

4th Fleet was a pretty long distance away but they were already heading back when the attack started.  Our call for help got them to speed up and skip a few stops they were intending to make so we only had to hold the GFI off for about 30 hours.  We are all pretty exhausted and there were a lot of casualties, as I am sure you are aware of by now. Please let Mom know that everything is OKnow.

There still may be a minor fight going on out here but it is to the point where the scientists and civilians have all been able to safely resume their normal routines.  GFI forces dug in roughly 1,500 kilometers away from the nearest settlement in an effort to evacuate. They still have their shuttles but with their fleet on the run, they can’t go very far.

They could use the shuttles in an attempt to attack the town but now that we are in complete control of the high ground, it is doubtful they are going to use the shuttles to do anything other then make a run for it if their fleet is ever able to return.  Any attempt to go even within 500 kilometers of any inhabited area would result in one of our carriers dispatching a fighter wing to destroy them.

At this point, it looks as if whoever is running the show on their end plans on playing it safe and smart.  Not much can be said for the smarts, but it is a bit late for them now. We have a pretty accurate estimate as to how many of them are left and at this point, all they present is a nuisance.  I don’t even think FleetCom wants to initiate any engagement for now and I agree.

We have a pretty solid net set up around them.  They can’t go anywhere without us knowing about it and we don’t need to risk any more manpower or resources.  Eventually, they will run out of supplies and either has to attack or surrender. An attack would be suicide.  We have any ground approach covered with mobile ground defensive systems, and if they try the air, 4th Fleet will blast their shuttles out of the sky before they can get anywhere useful.

I have to get back to work but I wanted to let you all know that we are OK and Russell is safe.  I have no doubt the reports have reached home by now and I am also certain that Mom is freaking out to the next level.  Please tell her we are OK. I love you both. Russell asked me to say hello to you for him as well so there it is. Take care.

Love,

Mitch

_______________________________________________________________________

March 12, 2435

Barren, Mitchell D., 2nd Lieutenant

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

Dear Dad,

We managed to locate the planet that was used by the GFI to stage their assault on Outpost 86 last week.  One of the major concerns was how they managed to attack at all, given that the orbital defensive systems we had were second to none.  Many of the different locations did their job, but not all. It took some investigating but we learned that this plan was in effect for a while.

There were very few GFI members left at the staging area so it was not difficult to take them out and gather some intelligence.  They were in the middle of cleaning up and abandoning the site so we got there just in time. There was more than enough information to put the pieces together and we got a much better picture of how long they were planning the attack and what they threw into it.

Most of their initial strike centered on an area of our defensive system that would make a hole large enough to allow for several troop ships to fly in without the threat of being shot down.  They smuggled in a few hundred troops to assault the sites where our defenses were located and they were able to overwhelm all of them.

We got lucky and two of the sites were able to get out a distress call before they were overrun.  One call would have been investigated before any further action was taken but the second site was enough to solidify that a coordinated strike was taking place and FleetCom immediately sent out an all hands on deck.  All our troops were immediately recalled and you pretty much know the rest.

Based on what we learned from the information we have now gathered, they had deployed some new kind of communication jammers on this assault.  It was untested and they were forced to learn the hard way, why it is good to field test things before deploying them in a major operation. All of our Outposts sent out a distress call and the jammers prevented almost all the messages from getting through.  That “almost” is what cost them the entire assault.

If it wouldn’t have been for those two malfunctions, they would have gotten all of their troops on the ground before we had a chance to recall everyone and counter the attack.  There is nothing amusing about how many people had to die during this sneak attack, but it is funny that their lack of patience is what cost them everything.

There were some concerns of espionage due to the efficiency of the assault in the beginning but the more information we gathered, the more we learn about how bad things actually turned out for them.  There was clearly no “inside man” or “inside woman” on this one. Now that we know more, their attack wasn’t just a failure for them, it was a complete disaster. They didn’t accomplish any of their objectives and they lost far more than they were ready to.

None of us are complaining or shedding any tears for them.  A lot of noncombatants were killed during their attack and FleetCom is furious about it.  We had to exercise restraint with the GFI troops that we managed to capture and in some cases, we had to hold some of the Marines back.  They were less than pleased but they also know that the future isn’t looking bright for any of our new POW’s.

Everything is going well now.  We are on the move and it is starting to look like most of the GFI forces that have been roaming around throughout our sectors of space are mostly dead or have been pushed back to GFI controlled space.  I am still not a fan of the search and destroy method but it does seem to be working for the moment.

Some of the communication exchanges we managed to gather from the GFI outpost indicate that they are having trouble countering our assaults and a lot of their forces have been ordered to withdraw and regroup.  That will give us time to set up a more secure defensive line and we can go from there.

My team and I are doing OK and the Marines working with us are better now.  All the wounded are back now and their morale is much higher than it was before.  We are going to be having some friendly competition sometime this week. The Marine Lieutenant challenged us to a basketball game and we accepted.  Some friendly branch rivalry for the entertainment of others couldn’t hurt.

I love you both and will be coming home soon.  I only have three months left on this deployment and then will have to decide where I want to go from there.  Plenty of time to think but I know for a fact that I would like to come home for a couple of weeks and catch up.  I will keep you posted.

Love,

Mitch

_______________________________________________________________________

March 19, 2435

Barren, Mitchell D., 2nd Lieutenant

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

Dear Dad,

I am going to have to keep this one brief.  We are currently engaged with GFI forces and it isn’t going so well.  My team is fine but the same can’t be said for the rest of the task force.  Casualty rates are much higher than anticipated.

Based on the intelligence we were able to gather from the outpost we took last week, we were able to locate another GFI stronghold on the same planet, not too far from the outpost.  It looks like the reason the outpost was so easy to take was that most of their men and defensive systems were moved to this much more defensible position.

The standard defenses we have encountered before in this kind of situation were already pretty intense but now that they have doubled up, it is proving to be much more difficult and costly to overtake.  So far, we have barely managed to make a dent and FleetCom is getting impatient.

My team has been probing for a way in but it is not looking good.  We have yet to find an approach that isn’t as heavily covered but so far, we have gotten pinned down on every attempt.  On our last try, we had to have our Marine contingent come to bail us out. My second in command nearly lost his head and my radioman’s communication gear took a shot that was meant for him.

With that close of a call, I had a chat with the officer in charge and she agreed that we needed to take a step back and re-evaluate our approach.  So far, there are only a few dozen casualties, but based on the way things have been going, that is lucky. The whole thing is unacceptable and to make matters worse, they have some kind of orbital cannon we can’t get to.

We had a destroyer come in for an attempt to bombard the position from orbit but during its approach, the cannon opened up and nearly destroyed our ship.  They lost almost a third of the crew and were barely able to limp back to the fleet position.

All of our forces are holding their positions or have fallen back to a safe enough position while also maintaining a perimeter to keep an eye on things while we regroup.  FleetCom is strategizing right now so I thought I would take a moment to get you up to date.

I am sure they will come up with something.  I just hope that something doesn’t risk massive casualties.  There is no point in taking the hill if there is no one left to stand on it and I won’t lead my men into a slaughter.  There are still plenty of options.

We haven’t used any of our combat aircraft yet because of the need to preserve potential intelligence gathering but at this point, that doesn’t matter.  It is unlikely that any useful intelligence hasn’t already been destroyed.

An air strike might be the only low casualty option (for us anyway) left at this point.  If FleetCom doesn’t come to the same conclusion, you better believe I will do all I can to persuade them.  My team and I have flirted with death a few too many times here and I have no interest in pushing our luck any further.

I miss you guys and am looking forward to our reunion.  I only have another 11-12 weeks left on this tour and then I am coming home.  I have every intention of taking some leave and taking a much-needed rest. I will keep you posted.

Love,

Mitch

_______________________________________________________________________

March 26, 2435

Barren, Mitchell D., 2nd Lieutenant

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

Dear Dad,

FleetCom eventually gave in to authorizing an air strike on the GFI position.  They took their time coming to that conclusions and while they were waiting, there were several more casualties, including a member of my team.  He is going to live, but his time working recon and being on special assignment are over.

It infuriates me that he was wounded during an operation that I strongly opposed.  I followed orders, but I did not do so without first trying my best to convince my chain of command that it was unlikely that my team could get that close to the installation without being spotted.

They wanted us to spot for an artillery strike.  Given the location, I advised that an artillery strike would be wise, but then they informed me that they wanted to do pinpoint artillery strikes in an effort to preserve as much of the installation as possible.  It went beyond grasping at straws but the officer in command refused to listen.

The problem is the location of the installation.  It is in a valley and much of it was underground. There wasn’t much on the actual service to target with any kind of pinpoint accuracy and to approach it from any direction on foot in a way that would provide a good line of sight was basically suicide.

The reason none of our ground attacks have been successful is the position is very easily defended and doesn’t require much.  We made our approach as cautiously and carefully as possible but that wasn’t enough. Before we got within 600 meters of the GFI position, we came under heavy fire and my point man was struck.

We never made it closer than that.  The incoming fire that followed intensified and we had to pull him clear.  We managed to get him back to cover before we called for a medevac and they took over from there.  It was a complete waste of time and now my team is a man down.

After that incident, I pulled some of the commanders aside and was finally able to convince them that there wasn’t going to be any reasonable strategy for preserving this installation.  An air strike was called and our aircraft leveled everything within the valley. There was no further resistance after that.

My man was in critical condition for a few hours but they managed to stabilize him in time to ensure that he will likely make a full recovery.  It won’t be anytime soon, but he will eventually be able to return to active duty.

We are currently wrapping up on this world but things are going to be difficult from here on.  My team will continue operating but one member less. We are en route back to Outpost 86 for another refuel and refit.  I also demanded that my team get a little bit of downtime.

I am planning on spending some time with Russell but I would also like a chance to see my lady friend again.  We haven’t had much opportunity the last few times I was back there due to the current operational tempo but hopefully I will be able to see her this time around.

Command asked if I wanted to pull another member from the outpost to replace my down team member but I rejected the offer.  We had a good thing going and I feel like it would be smarter to not add new blood into the mix. We have trained and served together as a team for the last several months and I don’t want to jeopardize our cohesion by adding someone new into the mix.

Do you think I am making the right call with that one?  I could use some advice. I feel like it is the smart choice and I am concerned that adding someone new, regardless of how well trained or experienced, would alter the flow and connection that my team currently has.  I am trying to make the decision from a leadership standpoint but as a member of the team, I know how I would feel about adding a new member.

I will write again when we touch down at the Outpost.  Take care. I miss you all dearly.

Love,

Mitch

_______________________________________________________________________

April 2, 2435

Barren, Mitchell D., 2nd Lieutenant

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

Dear Dad,

Thank you for the advice.  Thank you for all the guidance you give.  Having the support of my family gets me through all the times when the burden of responsibility starts to weigh heavily on my shoulders.  I made my decision. It was a tough one, but you were right.

I asked my team how they felt about bringing a new member on as a replacement and we had a long and serious discussion about the benefits and the drawbacks.  While there are many good reasons to bring someone new in, the few reasons not too far outweigh them. After the long discussion, we were all in agreement and I made my decision.

I have decided that the Wolfpack will remain at our current number and status for the duration of our deployment.  Nice as it might be to bring on another member to help keep tasks and responsibilities easier, it is not worth the risk of exposing my team to someone that could potentially endanger their lives.  It would take longer than we have left out here to properly train and acclimate someone.

I already told our leadership and, surprisingly, they understood and even agreed.  I was expecting to have to defend my decision but it ended up not being necessary. That was a relief.  It was also a relief to get back to Outpost 86. I saw Russell but we didn’t really get to hang out much the first day I was back.  He was busy with something, but we were able to make some plans for the next day.

There is a large body of water on the planet.  It is typically too far to walk or drive to in a reasonable amount of time but I was able to wrangle up a pilot and an aircraft for the day and we got a little group together to fly out there for a barbecue and to do some surfing.  I sold it to the brass by explaining it could serve a double purpose.

I told them that while we were there, Russell could collect some samples of the local plant life and we might even be able to catch some of the wildlife.  At first, they weren’t buying it, but I knew this would be good for the remainder of my team. I explained that my men and I could use some long range R&R.  The outpost commander agreed with me and authorized us with the condition that we had to find a pilot that was willing.

As you can imagine, that was not difficult to do.  I invited my girlfriend and told Russell and my team they could all invite one or two people each.  Russell brought one of the doctor’s assistants, each member of my team brought a girl, and even the pilot brought someone he was seeing.  We made a day of it and had a really good time.

It was nice to unwind.  We spent the next few days relaxing but all good things must come to an end.  We received new orders to do some reconnaissance on some supposedly uninhabited planet in the neutral zone.  Well, used to be a neutral zone. One of our battle groups was passing by the planet in transit back to Coalition controlled space and a destroyer that was close enough to the planet detected radio signals

It is unknown where they originated from but that planet is the only place that is not mobile that was within the range of being able to transmit anything so FleetCom thought it was worth a look.  We are going aboard the CSS Mako. It is unknown at the moment whether or not we will be taking any escort ships. I don’t think FleetCom wants to send a large force if it turns out that we would be chasing ghosts.

I will keep you posted.  We know next to nothing about this world so it will be interesting to take a look either way.  We are getting a second Marine squad assigned to us for support so that is a nice new tool to use if need be.  We love having the Marines for support and get a whole new and fresh squad to back us up is definitely a relief to our being one man down now.

Take care of yourselves and please give Mom my best.  I love you and will write again next week.

Love,

Mitch

_______________________________________________________________________

April 9, 2435

Barren, Mitchell D., 2nd Lieutenant

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

Dear Dad,

I have to admit, the last few days has been a fairly nice series of events.  At first, I was not quite sure how I felt about it, but after further thought, this was exactly what my team needed.

We popped into orbit and as soon as we did, the ship started detection radio transmissions.  The encryption level was pretty sophisticated. In fact, there was something about it that was a little, too sophisticated.  Mix that with the fact that there was no attempt to hide the radio transmissions, cause us to wonder what was going on.

My team and our Marine contingent hit the atmosphere far enough away so that we would not be detected and flew in to land about 15 kilometers away from the origin of the transmission.  I took my team and had the Marines follow about 500 meters behind us, in case we needed back up.

About half a kilometer away from the origin point, we came across what we thought might be a scout or some kind of patrol, but there was no weapon in sight.  We didn’t want to jump to any conclusions so I had the Marines halt where we were and I took my team to follow the scout.

He went back to his camp and we knew immediately that it was not GFI.  The man practiced absolutely no operational security. It was too easy to follow him.  We were concerned at first that maybe he was just too good and likely knew we were there and was leading us into a trap.  That concern was quickly thrown out.

When he got back to his camp, we took up positions that would allow us to discretely watch and observe.  They did not have any kind of security measures in place and it was almost instantly obvious that the men and woman we were watching were noncombatants.

Turns out, we stumbled upon an unregistered science operation.  They were wearing white coats, but it was pretty easy to spot the sample collecting and some of them were sorting and clearly cataloging everything they were collecting.  Not exactly the kind of thing you get any kind of prison sentence for, usually, but this time around, there were other factors to consider.

Because this was not something the military dealt with, we kept eyes on them while we signaled the CSS Mako and had them contact FleetCom to apprise them of the situation.  Civilians are not something we are authorized to deal with unless they attack for whatever reason.

It only took about 10 minutes for Fleet leadership to decide they were going to dispatch an investigation team and to keep us and our team of Marines in a position to overwatch everything and provide support to the investigators, if necessary.  I called the Marines up and had them help with setting up a complete over watch perimeter around the campsite.

It only took a few hours for the investigation team to arrive on the scene and once they did, they wrapped everything up nice and quick.  We listened in on all the communications and at first, we could tell that the scientists were contemplating being difficult. As soon as it was explained to them that there was Fleet personnel and Marines observing their every action, the compliance was overwhelming.

I am not sure what or if the Fleet is going to anything to them or about them.  That is not only above my pay grade, but it is also completely outside the scope of our operations.  Once the investigators had complete control over the situation, they radioed us and thanked us for the assist.  They informed us that they no longer needed us and we got orders from FleetCom to rejoin our battle group.

We had our shuttle lift off and come pick us up.  There was no point in hoofing it all the way back since discretion was no longer necessary.  We loaded up and rejoined the CSS Mako in orbit. Once docked, the Mako didn’t even wait for us to de-board.  We started immediately flying to were our battle group was located.

Looks like we might be gearing up for another major operation.  There are few details coming our way but one thing is clear, we seem to be mobilizing much faster than plans are being made so something big is up.  I am not sure what but I was contacted by a staff officer from FleetCom and was informed to have my team immediately eat and rest up.

I will keep you posted as best I can but you know how this goes.  Love you all and will write again soon.

Love,

Mitch

_______________________________________________________________________

April 16, 2435

Barren, Mitchell D., 2nd Lieutenant

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

Dear Dad,

The last week has been pretty eventful.  It looks like we are gearing up for a major operation but FleetCom is keeping it pretty close to the chest.  The training has been all over the board so we can’t figure out where we are going or what the main objectives of the operation might be.

The range has been much broader than we are typically used to.  Our best guess is that the wide range of training and capabilities is an indication of an extended operation somewhere.  Won’t know for sure until we get our orders. One thing we know for sure is that we will not be returning to Outpost 86 for some time.

Some of the training has been pretty fun but most of it is acclimating Army to the operations of my team and other teams like us.  They are not accustomed to using manned reconnaissance. They have grown overly reliant on drones and, according to some of the reports I was given to study, it cost them dearly in a few different operations.

FleetCom is concerned about some of the advances the GFI military has been deploying on the battlefields.  They have some kind of counter-drone technology that has caused some Army operations to endure a much heavier casualty rate on some of their operations than they anticipated.

Army commanders reached out to Fleet and the Marines and asked us how we were countering it.  The truth was, we never overly relied on drones for recon or intel gathering, and we told them so.  They discussed us potentially training some of their special forces in the tactics and strategies we have been using but, apparently, there is not enough time before the next operation to do so.

FleetCom decided that my team, and a few others, would engage in co-operative training with the Army to see if we would be able to work well enough together in future operations.  So far, it is going better than expected. The Army has been very receptive and has been following our lead much better than we expected.

There were ever several training operations where, instead of our Marine team, we were accompanied by a team of Rangers or Drop Troopers.  I have to admit, dropping with the Drop Troopers was a lot more fun than we were expecting. We actually got to do a few insertions using their drop pods.  What a ride!

It was a simple recon training mission, but we used the orbital drop pods so we could be certified to accompany Drop Troops in future operations.  It was incredible. I couldn’t even tell you how fast we were going and the technology involved absolutely blew my mind. I like to think that FleetCom gave us the best and coolest technology, but Drop Troopers get some pretty cool stuff too.

They were also very appreciative of our training.  The Drop Troopers are the closest thing that the Army has to any kind of recon force so they have been the ones trying to compensate for the counter drone technology but they are telling me that strategy has also been costing them lives.

They were the ones that originally started falling victim to the unfortunate lack of information on the counter drone technology and the incomplete intelligence they were provided.  There were a few completely blown operations that took place before they discovered that the information the drones were gathering was faulty.

Hopefully, we can help to reduce some of this unpleasantness with some good, old fashioned, hands-on recon, and branch co-operation.  We still have a pretty intensive training schedule for the next few days so this is where I am going to have to leave things this week.  I love and miss you all.

Love,

Mitch

_______________________________________________________________________

April 23, 2435

Barren, Mitchell D., 2nd Lieutenant

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

Dear Dad,

The next few weeks are going to be difficult for communication.  We are in the middle of a very large operation and my team is being used to the extreme.  It is a pretty good thing when you consider what we are trained to do. The officers in charge of this operation want to know what it is they are sending their people into.  I can’t fault them for that.

I don’t even recall what it is FleetCom was calling this planet but that is not among the information that would contribute to our success so it’s OK.  It was a bit of a rush job getting us over here and putting our boots on the ground. Not a moment too soon either.

We have clearly struck a nerve by being here.  As soon as the CSS Mako breached the planet’s orbital defense capabilities, every defensive battery even remotely within range opened fire on us.  We barely had enough time to get to the drop pods before the Mako had to start executing some serious evasive maneuvers.

The Wolfpack and our Marines launched as soon as was possible before the Mako had to jump out of range of the planetary defenses.  Unfortunately, we were ground side at first without any flight worthy craft. The Army gave us a pretty short list of tasks they needed to be done before their arrival.  We managed the first with ease but without any aircraft, the second was much slower at first.

We scouted a few locations that were worthy of the Army to establish a forward operating base and then had the Marines start setting one up while my team started conducting reconnaissance.  Without aircraft, we were limited to only walking range from F.O.B. We also had to take extra precautions due to our not having support or a way to make a quick getaway if anything went wrong.

The original plan was to take a shuttle planet-side but given the immediate response by the planetary defenses, the Captain was concerned that anything larger than a drop pod would draw fire.  I and my Marine liaison were in agreement. It would be too risky.

Unfortunately, there was also little time to load the drop pods with anything more than what we could carry on our individual persons.  We got lucky that one of the Marine fire teams was by the supply section of the ship when the notification for an immediate drop went out.  The fire team leader probably saved all of our lives and the entire operation.

Thinking on her toes, she split her team up and grabbed everything they could in the short amount of time they had.  They loaded two duffles with food and water and another two duffles with munitions and other equipment they thought we might need.  It was brilliant and it saved our lives. It didn’t take long for GFI forces to find out that coalition troops made it planet-side and the munitions started getting used quickly.  I put her in for a medal as soon as the opportunity presented itself.

The supplies were not enough to keep us going long term, but through rationing and restrictive usage, we were able to make them last long enough to survive until reinforcements arrived.  The Army arrived on the planned date but it took them longer to get a substantial force planet-side than was planned. The defenses were much more extensive than Army intelligence anticipated.  Shocker right?

Anyways, there is still a lot of work to be done.  We have managed to establish a strong enough foothold and a steady supply flow so operations are running a little more smoothly now.  I will try my best to keep you posted. Take care.

Love,

Mitch

_______________________________________________________________________

April 30, 2435

Barren, Mitchell D., 2nd Lieutenant

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

Dear Dad,

This is going to be a semi-happy letter.  We got a report from FleetCom intelligence that there was a wanted GFI fugitive somewhere on the planet.  Being the only Fleet Security Forces members in this operation, we were asked to look into it. The information was a little thin, but there was enough to at least get started.

We knew that we would need better and more up to date information so we started to scout GFI outposts on the planet to see if we could find a position that was poorly defended enough to the point where we could take it intact.  While doing so, we managed to locate a few that were more poorly defended and worthy of further investigation.

We took our Marine liaison with us to get his perspective and we managed to locate two possible candidates for an attempt at capturing the sights without shots being fired.  We organized a Marine overwatch for each and then spent half a day practicing for an assault on both positions using nonlethal weapons. The target order didn’t matter, considering we had no idea whether either position possessed good intelligence, if any.

We hit the outpost we designated as “Target Alpha” and were able to knock out and detain all GFI personnel in a matter of minutes.  We called in FleetCom investigators to look through the site and their computer systems to see if they could find anything useful.

The computer’s had some good intel on them, but nothing that we could use to locate our objective.  They passed the data on before interrogating our prisoners. The prisoners were not cooperative, as expected.  I didn’t want to waste time so it was decided that while the investigators were working at this site, we would move on and hit the next site.  Regardless of what our individual objective was, the main objective was winning the battle. Taking out an enemy outpost will always be apart of the objective.

We were shuttled to the next site and the Marines watching over it reported no changes.  We moved in and things started off well. Calling it a disaster would not be accurate. We were still able to seize the outpost and we suffered no casualties.  I consider that a win. Unfortunately, these defenders were much more seasoned and were actually implementing an impressive defensive strategy. There was no way to take the facility quietly.

We were able to take all of their perimeter patrols without shots, but there was no approach to the outpost that was likely to escape sensor notice.  We moved in quickly and quietly. We were lucky because the alarm did not sound until we completely cleared the open ground between our perimeter, and theirs.

Shots were fired and our overwatch was forced to engage.  We were lucky that there was no structural damage but by the time we were able to have complete control of the outpost, several of the GFI defenders were dead.  We managed to take a few alive, but no one high ranking enough survived the engagement.

My team left the Marines in control of the outpost, designated “Outpost Bravo,” and took our prisoners on a shuttle back to “Outpost Alpha.”  Fortunately for us, as soon as the defenders of the first outpost saw the defenders from the second, that words started to flow. Our best guess is that they say how quickly we were taking their positions and they decided it was over and time to make deals.

We didn’t care.  We just wanted the intelligence.  Evidently, every member of the GFI forces stationed on this planet knows about this fugitive and where he was located.  We had him in custody less than an hour later and most of that time was flying to his location and scouting the position.  It was completely undefended and we are convinced now that he was relying on us focusing on the major GFI positions with the hope that he would go completely unnoticed by us.

He was a real peach too.  Taking him into custody was a pleasure, and given his crimes, once we passed him off to the Army, they were less than kind when it came to his treatment.  It bothered no one. Wanted for terrorism, theft, smuggling, kidnapping, piracy, and murder, no one is feeling too obligated to take his personal comforts or feelings into consideration.

There is still a lot of work to be done.  I love and miss you all. Please take care.

Love,

Mitch

_______________________________________________________________________

May 7, 2435

Barren, Mitchell D., 2nd Lieutenant

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

Dear Dad,

I am sorry that you are getting this letter a little late.  Work has been pretty busy but one of the Marines I work with is getting married soon and he invited my team to join him and his team for his bachelor party.  It was plenty of fun.

Not much new to report.  I say that work has been busy, but it is mostly routine stuff.  The defenses that were still active on this planet fell into complete disarray four days ago when one of our destroyers in orbit was conducting an orbital strike and took out a command and control center.

The funny thing is, it was semi-accidental.  They were practicing excellent operational security and not communicating anywhere near as much as a typical GFI command and control center would.  Our intelligence section thought it was likely nothing more than another outpost that was added to the orbital strike list.

The list was not very long.  Once that position was destroyed, we noticed an increase in poor communications and uncoordinated attacks that didn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense.  It took a few days to learn that we had apparently taken out the command structure for the entire planet. The rest of the outposts were either captured or destroyed with few casualties.

The bachelor party served as a sort of double celebration.  A celebration for the victory on this planet, and a celebration for one of the jar-heads surrendering his heart to the woman he loves.  Not a bad time for a good celebration.

I hate to cut this short but we are moving out.  The defenses on this planet may be crumbling, but they are still active.  Time to go sniff some more out so that air or orbital strikes can be called in.  I love and miss you all.

Love,

Mitch

_______________________________________________________________________

May 14, 2435

Barren, Mitchell D., 2nd Lieutenant

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

Dear Dad,

I have come to the point of counting down the days until reassignment.  There was a time when I was unsure as to whether or not I would re-enlist but now that I have been made an officer, I am not so sure that I want to get out now.  Part of me wants to see how far up the chain of command I can get.

I will have some time to think it over when I come home for my annual leave.  Three more weeks Dad. Tell Mom that I will be home soon. The last week has been fairly relaxing, but that is only when you compare it to the last few months.  A lot of training for an upcoming operation most likely.

The CSS Mako was ordered to return to Outpost 86 for some maintenance and system upgrades so we decided to conduct some advanced training.  We found a similar class ship that was willing to lend a hand and we did some orbital drop assault training. I also thought it would be a good time to try some stealth orbital drop training for my team.

The Marines joined us on the assault drops but when we did our recon drop practice, they just continued assault drop training.  The only reason they are ever going to execute a drop like this is if we run into trouble so their drops are always going to be assault related.

We also got some new GPS tracking systems and the CSS Mako was given new sensor systems that I wanted to test in a field exercise.  We executed some war games and put them all to the test. I can’t say much in a letter about them, but I can tell you that they worked fairly well.  These sensor systems would have come in handy a couple of weeks ago. Better late than never though right?

This was also an opportunity to meet up with Russell and get our nacho fix taken care of.  After having relied on field rations for the past couple weeks, I can’t even begin to explain how much of a relief it was to get some real food.  I think I might have made Russell a little uncomfortable with my enthusiasm but I am sure he understood. You can only stand processed or freeze-dried food for so long before you need something real.

I am unsure as to when our next deployment will take place but if it does, know that my time will most likely be extended to accommodate the operation.  I am glad to do it. The work we do is important and it needs to be done. I will keep you and Mom posted. You both know that I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if someone else had to take my place and something bad happened.  We will talk more about that later though. I am being summoned.

I have to get back to work now but we will chat again soon.  I love you all.

Love,

Mitch

_______________________________________________________________________

May 21, 2435

Barren, Mitchell D., 2nd Lieutenant

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

Dear Dad,

I am both excited and dreading coming home.  I miss you all so much and it will be so nice to see you, but at the same time, I have been up to so much out here and the pace has been so consistent that I don’t know if I will be able to handle the stagnation.

I think that, once my year is up, I will be opting to stay with the Fleet.  We will talk more about it when I get home, but I think it best that I tell you now so that you and Mom can be better prepared when I get home.  This way, there won’t be any surprises.

I love what I do.  I love what we do. I know that we have been making a difference and I love the mission that my team and I have been assigned.  I don’t know if they will let me continue this specific mission or not, but I have every intention of bringing it up with my commanding officer.

There is still so much work to do and the war is so far from being over.  I am ready and willing to do whatever I can to protect our boys and girls and that is exactly what my team’s work is all about.  We seek out the traps. We find the enemy so that our men and woman don’t accidentally stumble upon them. We save lives. There is no better task.

We did some more orbital drop training this week.  Every time we hit the atmosphere and then pick up speed it is such a rush.  It almost makes me think I picked the wrong career field but then I remember that my team gets special privileges so I can request any training I think my team needs and it will most likely be granted.

At least, for another few weeks, I can.  At this point, I am not sure if they would approve.  I haven’t yet discussed my intentions to stay just yet so as far as my leadership knows, they only have me for another two weeks.  Not much point in training someone to do something when you think there are only two weeks where they can apply that training.

I also don’t want to leave my girl on Outpost 86.  I know I haven’t talked about her much, but that is only because I don’t get to see her often.  She writes to me on a consistent basis though. She is great Dad. She sends me pretty good care packages.  She sends everything I need to make the nachos she serves at her bar. Mine never come out as good, but she taught me to make them well enough.

She has also been keeping an eye on Russell for me.  She tells me he is the talk of the bar whenever they have some of the scientists from the Outpost at her bar.  Russell is blowing them away and they are always talks of how to facilitate the best academic future for him. I am pretty sure he is going to get a free ride through school because of this internship.  Well earned from what I am told. He is a science team all by himself and he hasn’t even been to college yet.

I have to go.  I am getting called to the CSS Mako’s bridge.  I love and miss you all. Take care.

Love,

Mitch

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May 28, 2435

Barren, Mitchell D., 2nd Lieutenant

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

Dear Dad,

We were tasked with an assignment a few days ago that helped me make my final decision as to whether or not I will be staying in or getting out.  It has been a rough road and there have been plenty of good and bad times but things are clear to me now. I know that no matter what, you and Mom will support my decision.  Once my leave is over, I will be rejoining the fleet.

It was not an easy decision but my team’s most recent mission reminded me that no matter how many tough times there are, there are plenty of times that make it all worthwhile.  It was a search and rescue operation for a pilot that was shot down during an operation in another sector. We were already en route to a planet that was maybe 16 hours travel away so the divert only took us a few hours.

The CSS Mako got a call from fleet command with orders to reroute to the planet the pilot was stranded on for an emergency search and rescue.  The carrier group that was conducting operations there had a search and rescue team but they wanted a team with more combat capabilities. Given that there was a full-scale battle taking place on the planet, it was understandable.

As soon as we arrived, my team conducted an orbital drop while our Marine contingent finished prep and launch of our shuttle.  We didn’t want to waste any time initiating our search. Our target zone was practically right on top of where the pilot’s last known location was.  We were not surprised to find the wreckage of her craft without her or her body present. We were informed that she ejected long before it hit the ground.

It did not take long for us to track her down, unfortunately, GFI forces on the ground had found her first.  We used the tracking system woven into the fabric of her flight suit and it took less than two hours for us to find her.  There were too many GFI troops in the vicinity and the environment was not favorable enough for us to confidently attempt any kind of rescue on our own.  That was why we had the Marines though.

We followed them while we coordinated with the Marines and we were able to formulate a plan where the Marines would set up an ambush ahead and hopefully we could divert them into a position where a rescue attempt would be more favorable.  Time was critical though. We were also concerned that they might just kill her so they could focus on their own safety. Given the way they were treating her, it was a legitimate concern.

We ended up getting lucky.  When we sprung the ambush, all but two of the GFI soldiers responded.  That wasn’t the only lucky part though. We don’t know what these two were thinking, and at this point, we don’t care, but they took off with her while the other GFI forces were engaging our Marines.  This presented the best opportunity for us to grab her and get her to safety.

It was easy for us to get ahead of them and set up our own little ambush.  The Marines kept the others engaged. We sprung our own and were able to overpower the two GFI soldiers without a shot being fired.  We used nonlethal weapons to minimize the risk to the pilot. Once the GFI soldiers were subdued, we identified ourselves to her, did a very quick medical check on her, and got out of there.

Once we had her and were moving, the Marines disengaged.  They could have easily finished off that GFI group, but that was not the mission.  The mission was the rescue and evacuation of the pilot. We had her. There was no purpose or need for the Marines to continue the engagement.  As soon as they broke contact, the GFI forces bolted in the direction that the other two had been taking the pilot.

While I wish I could see the looks on their faces when they catch up with the two men we left unconscious, I was more than satisfied with a successful mission.  Especially when it is a rescue operation. These are the kinds of missions that remind me that, even though there is a war going on, there is still a lot of good work to be done.  My team didn’t have to kill anyone, and we saved a life. I call that a good day of work.

We returned her to her unit and we made our way back to the CSS Mako.  That was quite a mission, but we still had our own to conduct. Speaking of which, that is where we are now.  I have to be off now but I will be writing again next week and then I will be home for a bit after that. Please give my best to everyone.  I will see you all soon.

Love,

Mitch

_______________________________________________________________________

June 4, 2435

Barren, Mitchell D., 2nd Lieutenant

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

Dear Dad,

Ever since we completed our last mission, FleetCom has been taking it easy on my team.  We have been performing pretty simple duties aboard the ship and have been ordered to start preparing for our leave.  I think that is mostly because they know that everyone in my team has notified FleetCom that we will all be staying in the fleet.

They don’t feel like they have a limited time to use us and while my team is resting up and recouping, FleetCom can come up with a list of things to do once we all return.  At first, we weren’t sure if we were all going to be reassigned or receive new orders, but it is starting to look like they want us all to be returning to this post to resume what we have been doing for the majority of this tour.

I have spent a lot of time in the last few days reflecting on the year I have had.  We have had the opportunity to do some incredible work out here. There have been so many intense times and a lot of close calls.  I wonder if I might be pressing my luck by asking for more but there is still so much more to be done. The GFI is so far from defeat and as long as they remain a threat, I will know that the true mission is not yet complete.

You always told me to finish what I start.  I started fighting against the GFI and protecting our people from their hate and violence because I believed, and I still believe, they are a threat to peace and freedom.  As long as that remains the case, I will do anything and everything I can to protect the ones I love.

I am boarding the transport shuttle now and will be docking with the civilian transport in about 12 minutes.  I just wanted to shoot you a quick message to let you know that I am coming home and I will be seeing you and Mom soon.  Thank you for all of the love and support you have given me over the past year. It made all the difference in the world.

Love,

Mitch

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