USS VINDEX - NCC-2474-A
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Finding A Way In

Posted on Tue Jan 24th, 2017 @ 4:21am by Major Storr Garlake & Lieutenant JG Nealey Snowdon & Lieutenant JG José Muñiz

Mission: S1E3 - Operation Adrestia
Location: Gavara IV
Timeline: Mission Day 18; 04:15

As ordered José had reported to the main shuttle bay slightly before the time he was given to make sure the Sheaf was ready for the mission. He boarded the craft and began to conduct the last pre-flight checks before Storr and Nealey arrived to ensure the Sheaf was ready to go once the Chief Intelligence Officer and Marine Commanding Officer had both boarded the craft.

Captain Garlake struggled into the hangarbay, which was mostly empty save the Sheaf, with its bay door open and running lights on. He had not slept well at all the night prior due to his...encounter with Jaya and he hoped that his face didn't show his fatigue. It wasn't like he hadn't stayed up long hours before but he was mentally drained like he had never been before. Normally, Storr would send his intelligence troop, Kirtwood Smith, but the Efrosian was lent to the USS Thunderchild for a manning assist but had yet to be "returned". It wasn't all bad...while intelligence gathering wasn't a primary mission set for the Marine Captain, he always enjoyed expanding his repertoire. Besides, basic reporting was drilled into every Marine as "every Marine is a sensor" was beat into them during boot.

Approaching and then entering the loan runabout, Garlake spotted the Spanish pilot. "Hola," he said with a nod before taking a seat in the passenger seat next to José . He had expended nearly his entire Spanish vocabulary in that singular greeting but thought it worthy of the situation, he thought with a smile.

José smiled. "Hola Senor"

Nealey arrived and after giving a yawn and made her away aboard the Sheaf for the away mission.

After both officers were confirmed to be aboard José gained clearance from the shuttlebay manager and set off for the agreed landing point. Unlike the other mission led by Commander Tolan this one would see them observing from a much safer distance.

"I guess you're in charge this morning Captain. I have a feeling Commander Tolan's team will have their hands full, to say the least," José commented.

Storr nodded as he indeed was the Senior Ranking Officer (SRO) on the vessel. "It looks like I am, though I recognize that I'm not the subject matter expert here," he said, looking towards the cute, bubbly operations officer. He didn't recall meeting her before and Storr was sure he'd remember such an innocent face. "I'm trained in basic field intelligence gathering but anything beyond battle preparation will be your foray."

Nealey nodded. "I feel confident with the plan - although we shouldn't be around on the surface any later than 08:00 hours - otherwise we'll end up being detected and unless the Alwanir's orbit slows or it goes on a patrol we will be detected"

The trip passed in relative silence. José was tired and didn't really feel like talking and he guessed the other two officers felt the same way. Once they were in range of Gavara IV the Spaniard engaged the erratic flight plan and hoped they would be detected as a piece of space debris - and to appeared to go to plan.

"Can I come along for the ride, or do you want me to stay here with the runabout?" José asked.

Storr stroked the stubble on his chin. "I'm not sure that's wise. While we'll be at distance from Gavara colony, I can't discount the possibility that we'll be detected. Regardless, and depending on how far we move out from the Sheaf, I would hate to not be able to return to the Vindex simply because we left the runabout unguarded while we galavanted around the countryside.

Nealey nodded. "We need someone to stay aboard and guard the Sheaf. At least if you detect anything approaching you can take off then come and get us by beaming us aboard - we can't do anything if our runabout gets stolen or damaged"

"It's no problem, Captain. I don't mind waiting here anyway - I brought something to read while you're having a look around. There's plenty of phasers in the back too" José replied.

Storr smiled. "Thanks for being a good sport. I promise we'll bring something back for you from the store," he said with a grin.




José managed to land the shuttle smoothly after the erratic flight plan down to the surface. He powered everything down to reduce the chances of being detected and turned to face the two officers.

"I'll be right here if you need me. If we have to make a quick exit then I'll do my best to bring you back via the transporter - but hopefully we won't have to resort to that. I'll keep the comm open though just to be on the safe side" José said.

Captain Garlake nodded. "Thanks for the flight and we'll be broadcasting back to you on the bottom and top of the hour. I don't see us needing more than three hours, depending on how quickly we can move through this forest. Nealey, you agree?"

"Three hours is all I'd recommend - if we take any longer than that we'll get detected when we take off to leave the planet" Nealey replied




Moving out, Nealey and Storr moved mostly in silence through the massive, old-growth trees towards the far edge closest to the colony. Supposedly, there were no patrols here because the population stayed mostly in the city and the agricultural areas were on the opposite side.

After some time, light began streaming through individual trunks ahead of them and they slowed their forward progress. Storr brought up his rangefinders and looked through them towards Gavara Colony, unsure of what exactly he would see. Sure, they had done route study, map prep, and an analysis of the known Consotrium Table of Organization and Equipment (TO&E) at the time but nothing beat boots-on-the-ground intel...hence why they were there.

The nuclear fission plan came into focus, and the distance reading on the bottom right of his rangefinder projection showed it being 3.2km away from their location. Searching the vicinity, he remembered the SALUTE report standards: (S)ize and/or strength of the enemy; (A)ctions or activity of the enemy; (L)ocation of the enemy and direction of movement; (U)nit identification; (T)ime and date the enemy was observed; and (E)quipment and weapons observed. After making some mental notes, the MCO spoke quietly into his throat mic.

"Four enemy fighters conducting vehicle-mounted patrol of the plant, Grid Coordinates 783209 moving east, part of the planetary marine detachment, observed..." he looked down at the chronograph on his wrist before continuing, "0520 at 65619.4, wearing planetary garrison clothing and carrying 4 Type-3 phaser rifles with possible additional weapons in the back of black wheeled vehicle. Observer’s location is grid coordinate 780209 and will remain in position. Out." The transmission was a tight, directional encrypted beam to the shuttle utilizing the lowest power necessary to avoid Direction Finding (DF) equipment and Storr felt reasonably confident that it would be both secure and undetected.

Looking down at his left wrist, he made several annotations on the map displayed via the flexi-PADD, especially marking the direction, times, and dispositions of patrols that passed by the plant and also near the large clinic nearby. Looking around, the removed his pack and propped it against a tree, sitting down against it and still watching the city. While one look was good, it was observation over time that was the real value and to obtain that, they needed to get comfortable...




Time passed by slowly, (un)fortunately giving the Afrikaner plenty of time to think about the previous night. What exactly had happened?

Separated by time and space (and pheromones), Storr tried to think clearly about the preposterous situation: Him, a thirty-six-year-old bear of a Marine, lacking any real experience in romantic relationships propositioned for marriage by a twenty-five-year-old Deltan who was playing with fire by trying to keep the letter (if not spirit) of her Oath of Celibacy so that she could satisfy her desire to be intimate. If that were not enough, being in the same room made his blood boil with desire, the most casual of touches caused the MCO to be beside himself, while a peck on the lips produced a euphoria heretofore unknown. A full-on kiss resulted in unconsciousness.

Thrumming his fingers on the ground, he sighed. Were those feelings the result of her pheromones and the latent link that they shared or true ones of love? Did she see him as simply a vessel for her intimate desires or as a true partner? What would happen if they truly kissed? Would he be able to stay himself (let alone keep his life) if they sexually consummated their marriage in the way that he found himself so longing for? All these questions and more tumbled through his mind. Would he be able to make their public relationship a success? He didn't know how to woo a woman...if he were completely honest with himself, cheesy one-liners, flattery, tales of his exploits, and alcohol were his mating calls. Sure, they had worked (and worked quite well!) in the past but being honest again, they were hollow.

A small spark, however, lit deep in Garlake's heart.
Did he not desire to find a woman, make her his, and raise a family?
The spark grew into an ember.
Would not a true test (and mark) of his manhood be putting his boyish ways aside and becoming a man in his romantic life?
The ember glowed hotter and brighter.
Was this not the greatest challenge he had yet come across?
The ember ignited and turned into a flame
Was the victory not more than worth the potential price? True love not worth death?
The flame spread into many
Was love a simple emotion, a chemical reaction or an ACTION, something that he could do and existed outside of pheromones, telepathic bonds, or anything else?
The flames turned into a conflaguration
He could do this...he would do this. He wanted this. There was attraction; there was passion; there was desire; there was...love. In those brief moments of bonding that he had had with her, even if she hadn't admitted it, Storr saw that many of the same feelings he had for her were reciprocated. Deltans might not know love or relationships like humans, but what he faced was like breaking a wild horse back in Rhodesia...you didn't pen it up, because doing so would cause too much stress, fear, and grief, putting you both in danger. No....you put it on a long, long rope tied to a central pole. The horse would enjoy the large relative freedom it enjoyed while you slowly, over time, shortened the rope. By the time the rope was next to the pole, the horse was used to the area and the contact you had made with it over the time and gladly took the saddle. While the analogy wasn't the best, he would show her just how mature humans could be in their courtship and sexual nature.

He would win her, and in the process, win himself.




After several hours of observation (and rest), a SALUTE report every thirty minutes, and consuming two full field rations, Captain Garlake leaned forward, stretched, and turned to remove two drones from his pack. Pulling up the list prepared for him by Cara...err, Doc O'Reilly, he downloaded it into one of the drones and programmed the other for continual observation. After running a quick diagnostic check, Storr released them and they flitted off towards Gavara Colony like two Tilonisian swallows. Unlike the two officers, they could stay in the area nearly indefinitely and virtually undetected, uploading their reconnaissance to either the Vindex herself or to ground troops.

"I'm good, Nealey. Anything else?"

Nealey shook her head and watched as the drones disappeared into the distance.

"I've got all I need Captain" Nealey replied.

The MCO nodded and began donning his pack and policing the area, making sure that nothing had been left behind and that as much of their presence there was obscured. Satisfied with their efforts, the two made their way back to the shuttle, utilizing a different route in case their original one had been compromised.




José was waiting patiently in the runabout but was running away from them and it was now light - they needed to get moving quickly or risk being detected and or seen leaving the planet on the way back to the Vindex.

=/\="Muniz to away team. You'd better hurry up if we want to get off this planet without being seen"=/\= José said.

Looking ahead and then back down at his wrist, they were a little more than a kilometer away from the runabout.

=/\=We're approximately twenty minutes out. What's your situation?=/\=

=/\="No problems to report here. I'll be ready when you get back - Muniz out"=/\= José replied.

Storr motioned to Nealey to keep up as he increased the pace. They needed to get off the planet with their information as quickly as possible as intelligence was a time-depreciable asset. Truth be told, the Marine was also looking forward to a little shuteye...

 

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