Letter XLIV

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 over watch 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.




Letter XLIII

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.



Letter XLII

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.



Letter XLI

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 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 because 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.



Letter XL

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.



Letter XXXIX

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 were 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 yo 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 anymore manpower or resources.  Eventually , they will run our of supplies and either have 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.




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.