Guns of Ghost Chime - Prelude
Summary: A planning of the impending NLM invasion of the PANL's Ghost Chime island turns sour and fiery.
Cast: Norton, Lucius, Taeren, Jeff Ryan, Rukais
Air Date: 2006.11.08

Meeting Room <Hancock Station>

This executive room is carpeted in a utilitarian midnight blue weave, with a large, round table in the middle of the room. In a hole in the center of the table sits a miniature holographic imager. A viewscreen adorns one wall, and a rewritable board adorns the opposite wall. A port-style door leads to the Command Deck.

Norton is kicked back in one of the chairs, apparently napping.

Lucius walks in shaking his head and generally looking like an asshole. Such is his norm, of course. "Norton." He says. "Wake up. Our obesus porcus of a captain is coming up so we can make plans."

And it'd better not be /him/ they were talking about. Jeff walks into the room, not waiting for the others reaction he strides towards his usual chair under the whiteboard at the opposite wall. At least for now he's in his militia uniform again, even if it does sport /that/ badge.

Cracking an eyelid, Norton asks, "Fat pig?" He looks over at Ryan, gets out of his chair to stand at attention, barks, "Room, ah-ten-SHUN."

Lucius offers Jeff a salute, although it is a little less.. formal and extreme than Norton's. "Sir. Wasn't talking about you." He says, smirking a little bit.

Jeff returns the salute and offers a small nod to Lucius. There's a quick glance at Norton before he asks Third Company's XO, "So are you going to enlighten us as to why you've called me away from my flight time?"

Taeren enters the room followed by Rukais, just as Jeff poses his question. He walks to Lucius' other side and salutes. "Sergeant Castus wanted to go over our contingency plans for Sunday, sir. I don't know if you ... had a chance to look at the dossier I gave you two days ago, but our intel says there's a good number of armed radicals won't go peaceably. There's going to be bloodshed on Ghost Chime, General."

Norton just grins and retakes his seat.

Lucius nods. "Yes sir. We need to have a plan written down for moving on the compound. We also need to have proper approval from up high and you're the commander of the base, in all essential aspects. General Gerry deals with the administrative things, mostly. Also, I wanted Sergeant Norton, who's got a few more years in the military than me to formulate a proper plan with me."

...and as the merry tag along, Rukais takes position on the end of the line, standing next to Taeren and saluting fluidly. He remains quiet for the moment, with nothing to say and a curious expression.

Ryan leans forward on the table and nods to Taeran, "I've had a chance to look at it, but feel free to remind everyone here of the details. They'll be important." And then Jeff glances at his almost-by-accident old friend, "I think the Governor's announcement today was because I pointed out to him yesterday that I don't have the authority to put together the kind of mission we were planning before or the current mission we're being forced to undertake if they don't accept the cease-fire." There's a small smile, "Of course the situation has since changed. And after we've dealt with the rebels we'll have to consider what that means." He folds his hands in front of him, "Gentlemen... continue."

Taeren leans forward, his hands on the table. "Sarge, I have the assault plans you've seen on holo," he says, "but this was your initiative." He nods to Lucius as if deferring.

Norton leans back in his chair and continues to grin.

"Right." Lucius picks up a telescopic stick from the table, extending it and keying up a few maps from the system after entering password.. and another password.. and another one. The maps come up on the holoviewer. "So, as you can see, this segment of Ghost Chime is very heavily covered. I'd say by the difficulty we've been having spotting it from the air, they're using some sort of IR Netting. The same kind they used at New Hope, General. They also have a fairly large AA gun emplacement. The plan is to draw this gun's fire with one of the ships, then destroy it with another. Then the ships would proceed to make several LZs and bombard the outside of the base, which is mostly underground." He pauses. "Unfortunately, we don't have much intel on the inside of the base. Our contact hasn't gotten back to us. I expect us to take a team of twelve inside, and split them up into four fireteams of threes, as moving in bigger groups underground is generally dangerous and cluttered - makes us grenade fodder. We're to clear the generator first, destroy it, then sweep from room to room." He turns to Norton. "Sergeant? Suggestions, before we get a proper layout?"

Rukais raises an eyebrow at the initial idea of drawing the guns fire, opening his mouth to interject before snapping it shut with a second wind of consideration, content to listen for the moment.

Ryan is paying attention during Lucius' briefing, he's a little startled by the relatively low number of marines, "Should we be sending in more? We saw more than that just twelve during our brief meeting with Hart. And remember a large part of their force are disgruntled ex-employees." He turns his attention to get Norton's opinion.

"The anti-air emplacement is a .50cal quad turret," Taeren explains. "Our spy says it was disabled before it even got into the base, but I don't know if it's even an issue. Just the same, LeBeau has said that he wants to be involved, and he seems pretty confident his ship can handle any anti-air attack long enough to disable the threat. Initially I had planned to draw fire in the Riposte and let the Hobart run cleanup.

From what I understand it's Hart's people who had control of the fifty-cal. What Fitzgerald has is a railcannon, a massive long-range mass driver like what we've got on Hancock. It was this cannon that destroyed that freighter recently -- the seismic data picked up from Greenville matches the time the freighter lost contact and the report of a test firing from our spy, who is getting us data on the cannon's location. We already know it's built into a cliff face somewhere on the island. You'd know better than me, but it sounds like most of our opposing force is going to go peacefully, especially with this amnesty offer. And anything above ground we can more than likely get at from the air. The unknowns are all underground in the base complex; anything you could get from Hart, sir, would help. I had thought of using seismic sensors from the research base in Greenville to get an outline of the underground tunnel system."

Norton just rolls his eyes and keeps on grinning. "A bit above my paygrade, sergeant."

Lucius shakes his head. "I really don't think that most of their force is going to go peacefully - all things considered though, the air side of things is not what I'm worried about. What I'm concerned about is what we have on the ground. Originally General Gerry only cleared a twelve man squad to go in. It's very little. I want at least a platoon going in, if not more. The problem is, we risk cluttering at the entrance, since apparently there's only one. We're going to be getting more indepth intel on the inside tommorow but.." Again, Lucius turns to Norton. "Sergeant, what do you think of the GROUND plan?" He repeats, staring at the man.

"Well, a think the ground plan needs to be prepped by fire from our ion cannon," responds Norton as he continues to grin and lean back in his chair. "I also think that having three four man fireteams trying to do much of anything is a waste of time."

"That's all I was cleared for, Nort, but I agree with you on that one." Replies Lucius quickly.

Jeff nods during Taerans input, "I'll see if I can contact Hart for the necessary intelligence about what's underneath, but we DO need to find their 'superweapon'." After Norton's said his little piece Ryan frowns and looks as though he's about to say something when Lucius interjects. "I agree Sergeant. I'll authorise Third Company to go." He glances at Tay, "What we got that can drop them down safely?" And after Norton and Lucius, "I'll clear it, less this costs us the better."

"The Franklin," Taeren replies. "The ion cannon would be a big help, but work on their installation's not yet complete. We've just got some new engineering staff; maybe I can work them and take advantage of Pia being around to get it done." He scratches his chin. "I figure Jantine in the Hobart running close air support -- we've got the Hobart outfitted with upgraded hull and guided missile systems, and Jan has taken fire from the ground before. He's shaping up to be a good pilot. So with Jan overhead, I could take the Riposte solo or with some engineering help. That leaves Colonel Moss' Franklin, the good Flight Sergeant here at the helm and our contractor in the back keeping it running." He looks over at Ryan. "Not the best air power, but nothing to sneeze at. Especially if we had the ion cannon to clear an LZ rather than conventional weaponry ... I've got to run some calculations though to work out if that thing could be effective through atmo."

After a moment, he adds, "And Gerry has cleared us for the use of Greenville's VTOL craft, if we need them. We could use those to drop the Marines, if necessary."

"As far as assaulting through a single entrance, that's just stupid. We can dig our own if we really wanted to go in, but in the unlikely event they were too stupid to have multiple egress points, there's no reason why we couldn't just sit on it and wait for them to give up," says Norton as he continues to grin. He looks over at Taeren. "Why not, sir? If you can't keep your own area squared away, why are you getting involved in everyone else's? Ain't you a spacer or something first and foremost? Wouldn't on station weapon repair be right up your alley?"

Lucius doesn't touch Norton's second comment with a twenty five and a half foot pole. Or polearm, for that matter, just incase he wanted to poke it sharply. He does reply to the first one, though, nodding at all that Norton says. "All I know is we have only one sapper in our platoon. Other platoons might have more, too, though. I guess we better wait for the new intel to come in so that we know where we'll be inserting from, but point taken and taken well, Norton. In any case, I'll get supplies so that we can burrough if we need to. I don't care about collateral anymore, this isn't a rescue op."

"Very good Captain," says the Brigadier General after Taeran's input. "I think I'll take command of the Franklin for this exercise, she /is/ supposed to be my flagship. She'll also serve as the communications center. And I'll see if Pia can fix up our ion cannons." He glances over at Norton sharply, "Show some respect for your superiors, fake it if you have to." And as an after-thought, "And report to Lieutenant Li about extra-duty, I believe we've got a shipment of supplies due in tomorrow that need stored. A few crates and pretty heavy I understand, after they're off the ship I'll see to it you're solely responsible for having to cart them to storage. I believe we have other uses for the grav-lifts too at that hour." He snaps back to Lucius, "We'll wait for final intel before confirming whatever we set out today."

Rukais still remains firmly quiet, standing with his hands wrapped together behind his back.

Taeren nods, Norton's comment going ignored for now. "Sounds like a plan, sir. But the issue of how the Marines are going to handle the ground assault remains incompletely resolved."

Norton leans back in his chair and continues to grin. "If there is no one who'd greet us with a smile down there being held in a hammerlock by someone with a grin and no other exits, just sit back and watch as they go crazy in their hole. There's no reason to run head first into a hail of fire and booby traps. Anyone on the surface can get chewed up by our ever so lovely air power if the AA is useless." He just grins at Ryan. "I'm an NCO, sir, I can only supervise. It's part of the whole respect thing. In order to give me extra duty like that, you'd have to write up charges, too, and demote me, sir, which is fine by me. Only, that'd be a breach of contract with the militia, so my term would be over, and I would be a civilian, so your power over me would evaporate, and I'd sit around till after this little mission for security reasons before being free as a bird."

Lucius again ignores Norton's tirade. He's an NCO as well and disciplining other NCOs really isn't under his durisdiction, bsides the look he gives to Norton. To Taeren, "Sir, that's what we're going to have to do tommorow. Our contact told me she'll contact me, and I assume you, sir. But regardless, we're going to be moving from more than one entrance all at once. Overwhelming their defenses by several assaults at the same time is vital."

"Lack of Intel, however I can't agree to sending in only twelve men to their underground complex, we'll wait and see," he says to Tay. He then glances over at Norton, "Done and done. I'll write up the charges this evening, you'll be confined to the brig until this mission is over or you can apologise to the Captain, conduct yourself professionally and go about your duties. Concerning sitting on their hole, we don't know for certain it is the only entrance they have. And we don't have the man-power to comb the whole island." He nods at Lucius, "Let me know when she does."

Norton just grins. "I'll be in the brig, then, writing up charges of being psionically assaulted." He starts to remove his belt and uniform top. "I can find my own way there unless someone wants to leave this little meeting to escort me. I'd suggest you stay here and build a better mouse trap."

"The more men the better," Taeren replies. "Franklin could drop a platoon without breaking a sweat."

"My intention was at least a platoon if not a company from the start, sir. It just wasn't improved, but now that you've done so that removes my entire qualms about the operation itself. All we need is that extra intel and we'll be ready to move in. The supplies have been secured and are ready. The VTOLs are on standby, waiting for our orders. The soldiers could be ready to move within an hour." Lucius turns to Norton and walks over, placing a hand on the man's shoulder. "Norton, I'm asking you to reconsider. You weren't psionically assaulted, if you're talking about what I think you are. We were all sniffed out, including myself and all the officers. It was necessary because of who we had in the ranks. If some information you didn't want people to know came to surface well.. sorry to hear that, but you're not a traitor and that's the important part." He turns to Jeff. "Sir, I'd appreciate it if you held off judgement until after this. The Sergeant is an excellent combat leader with a grasp on tactics that is not rivaled by any other in the company, and his involvement will save lives."

Ryan just raises an eyebrow and looks bemused, "Psionically assaulted sergeant? By whom?" He then nods at Tay, "I'll see to it." He glances at Lucius, "What do you mean sniffed out?"

"In a court of law or military tribunal, what Sergeant Castus is referring to would not count as psionic assault," Taeren tells Ryan, "and I'm not sure it's in Sergeant Norton's best interests to hear the specifics, if he does not know already, seeing as he will be leaving us shortly. I'll fill you in privately, sir, unless you'd rather I do it now." he frowns. "As far as letting Norton stay on, I know he's a knowledgeable man, but I have not seen him do anything in a tense situation save make insubordinate comments at inopportune times, rather than put his knowledge to constructive use. If anything I would say he's been using his knowledge to be a deliberate pain in the ass. I'm not a Marine, sir, but at this point I'd say he's proven his knack for shit-disturbing more than he's lived up to his record as a competent noncom."

Norton shucks his top. "Violated. Paranoid feelings ever since. Horrible, just horrible, but you need to prioritize and deal with this whole vague tunnel in the ground of the island thing right now with possible AA and rail guns right now. My emotional suffering and the monentary compensation can be sorted out later. Unless, of course, everyone dies first. Then, it won't matter." He removes his belt and leaves the stun and DS pistol on it while removing the psi blocker from a pouch. "I'll hold onto this, just to, you know, be sure. Until the trial, anyway. Maybe I'll have learned how to distinguish the terms by then, but I doubt it." He's still grinning as he tells Taeren. "You haven't had the ground assault issue resolved because no one knows anything about it. Standard procedures, though, should be able to solve the problems once marines are on the ground. Depending on the problems, more marines might need to get shuttled in. In the unlikely event that the tunnel is the single threat, it can be solved either by blowing and blocking it and setting up sensors around the island if we don't have the man power or by going in hot. Going in hot, the procedures would be much the same as clearing buildings or ships. If you were a marine, you'd know that, but since you're not and can't provide sufficient information to formulate a better plan, that's the best you'll get from me." Normally the type of man who is able to keep a tight leash on his emotions and how he expresses them physically, Lucius now growls loudly and thumps his hand on the table. "Fucking hell, Sergeant, why the hell do you have to be so damned difficult? You're making it worse for the troops by not being there." Finished his rant, he simply shakes his head and takes a seat.

Jeff Ryan turns sharply at the bang, "Enough Sergeant." He then nods to Norton, "As you wish, if you don't want to tell me what the particular grievance is, there's not a lot I can do about it." The lunite rubs his eyes obviously under a lot of pressure.

"Sergeant Norton is playing off of a rumor, a misunderstanding of the facts, a misunderstanding of his relationship with the Militia, and a lack of respect for how serious the situation was up here and potentially still is," Taeren replies, arching an eyebrow at Norton. "Unless you want to come out and make an accusation?"

Norton grins at Lucius. "If the troops go in guns a blazing, hey diddle-diddle, down the middle there's not much anyone can do for them. What do you want me to tell you? I've got no idea about this island's geography, supplies or enemy men on the ground, or anything else. I talked to one of the prisoners, so I know there are traps. I don't get told anything else, so I can't help you anymore than that. Apparently, there's a railgun in some cliffs. If they can mobilize that, they can shoot down ships. They can use the quad barrel fifty call to blaze you poor guys, too. If they can't mobilize the rail gun, they can shoot surface vessels and maybe ships flying CAS. Maybe just from one side of the island. I don't know. They'll probably have snipers in trees, spider holes, double layer ambushes, and all sorts of other nasty tricks up their sleeves." He looks at Ryan, "Beats me, sir, talk to the sergeant first class or the good captain. It was probably one of the glowsticks in a misguided effort to weed out traitors." Then, he resumes his earlier topic, grinning, "I say level the island with concentrated fire from heavy weapon platforms, but some environmentalist will probably have hysterics. Don't go into any holes you can't burn, but some pacifist will have a hissy fit. Heck, I don't even know what the rules of engagement are on the civilian population of my own planet when I am called upon to attack them, but I'm late for my appointment with a brig cell. Good luck with your real estate venture. Going down that hall without prepping it is going to be sixty percent casualties if the guys in the hole have any brains. Island wide, probably looking at thirty percent. Combat armor just get you hung up in trees and stuck in mud." He looks at Taeren. "No, sir, I'll leave that for my lawyers, but by your own admission Sergeant Castus was referring to something, and I have personal records that back that from people earning more rayden than you, so don't try to BS your way out of it by pretending it never happened. Find a way to turn it into a lawful order instead of a black op if you can." He sketches a casual salute with two fingers of his left hand and turns for the exit, psi blocker in hand. "Time to see about the accomodations in the brig."

Lucius just remains silent at this point, watching the proceedings with a pissed off looking expression plastered all over his face like he was an impressionist work of art.

"It worries me that even outsiders have commented we have a severe discipline problem," notes Ryan. "And I'm probably the one to blame." He glances at the three remaining men, "Anything else?"

"Enjoy your cell, Norton," Taeren replies to the Marine, waiting for him to leave before continuing.

"Norton is full of shit," Taeren growls to Ryan, as the man leaves. "Yes, I had Doctor Voliast get a good portion of the crew through the medbay after there was talk of a potential flu outbreak on station. As each one went through, Doc Voliast read for signs of deceit or pretended identity -- but the process was, A, not a violation of ethics or of the Militia's right to check up on its soldiers, and B, approved by General Gerry. It *was* a legal order. Sir, Norton's personnel file is all screwed. He had the rank of Major but lost it -- I think deliberately. He seems to forget his rank. And he seems to think he's the boss around here." He nods to Lucius. "This is nothing Castus doesn't already know, but he didn't find out until long after the fact."

Lucius shakes his head. "No sir. He pretty much summed it up. We're going to need massive medical aid prepared nearby, and we're going to need more air support to extract wounded, I think. If we could bring in sea ships.. well, I guess we can't, cause of that fucking gun. Iuppiter, if only our spy could sabotauge it.. Or maybe its power supply." He eyes Taeren. "Forget Norton. He's not important right now, not when we need to be worrying about more pressing matters."

"I'll check on both counts Captain, and if you're wrong..." he lets the rest remain unsaid before turning his attention to Lucius, "You're correct sergeant, we'll discuss this tomorrow and deal with Sergeant Norton and the rest..." there's a glance at Tay "...after Sunday. Let's hope we get some more Intel soon."

"Dismissed gentlemen," adds the Brigadier General.

Lucius gets up and moves to walk out, collapsing the telescopic rod and turning off the holo-display before hand. He reaches into his BDUs to retrieve a smoke from his pack, and lights it with his shiny silver zippo.

"We can take the gun out with Hancock or with starships. The thing is huge and homemade; there's no way they can track a vessel fast enough to shoot it before it's gone, especially if we use an air-to-surface missile from the Hobart," Taeren replies. "The gun will be gone, and sea support can be tapped at the end. Just worry about the caves." He glares at Ryan, snapping crisply to attention and saluting. "Sir," he replies, but it sounds more like an accusation than acknowledgement.

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