Letter LI

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

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Letter L

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

Letter XLIX

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

Letter XLVIII

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  

Letter XLVII

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 over watch 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 over watch 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   

Letter XLVI

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 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 do 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

Letter XLV

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 these 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