Letter XXVI

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

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Letter XXV

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  

Letter XXIV

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