Sierra Two Two: Chapter 2 [Updated: 19 JUL 2010]

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Sierra Two Two: Chapter 2 [Updated: 19 JUL 2010]

Postby Cralis on Sun 03 Jan 2010 17:10

18 AUG 2086 ~0930 (local): Captain’s Ward, SUN Pendleton

Initially, Captain Harding wasn't sure how to interpret his orders. The Security Cabinet's orders were to cut negotiations and stand by for redeployment. But when approached by his Intelligence Officer Colonel Eir, he was anxious about the uneasiness he felt. He was contemplating his orders when the Colonel stopped by. After telling the Marines to let him in, he shared his orders with the Colonel and asked for his opinion. He sat for several minutes waiting for the Colonel to tell him what he was thinking.

"James," he began, "I'm not sure how to approach this subject. Your orders are..." he trailed off.

Captain Harding guessed that Colonel Eir was debating on saying something that could get him in trouble.
"Nothing you say will leave this room,” Harding said. “I am confused by my orders, and any light you can shed on them will be appreciated. Even if I find that I do not particularly care for, or agree with the information. No one will hear what you tell me."

"Thank you." Colonel Eir sat forward a little. "I cannot say where, but when I was a Captain I was part of an expedition to negotiate with a colony that was trying to break off from the Union. To make it short, our expedition leader received these same orders and the colony was taken by orbital invasion a week later."

Captain Harding sat back. He needed a moment to think about this. If the Colonel was correct, then this would mean the Security Cabinet was contemplating invading the Soffran. Or worse...

"John, do you think they intend to invade the Soffran? Do you think the Solar Union would want to attempt to occupy the planet of a violent alien race?"

Colonel Eir relaxed and sat back. "I can't see justifying an occupation. It wouldn't be responsible to conquer and oppress a people simply because they aren't like us. It would be unpopular and it would cost us human lives. And with an alien race, who knows how long it would take. We may have become a civilized people, but we are still human."

"Then I will ask this only once and then we will forget I asked. Do you believe they will invoke Mandate 44?"

Colonel Eir didn't even blink. He simply stared back. "The Soffran are a violent people. If they were to advance to space technology, they would be a close neighbor to Earth. What do you think is being viewed as the responsible and course of action to protect the citizens of the Union?"

19 AUG 2086 ~1100 (local): Main Bridge, SUN Pendleton

Despite objections from Ambassador Kusari and his team, Captain Harding agreed to go with a plan by Colonel Eir. In the middle of the night shift, the Colonel woke him up to present him with this 'late night brainstorm' as he called it. Over the last 48 hours the plan was put into action. Under the guise of negotiations each of the national leaders were to be allowed onboard a shuttle and captured. The Soffran were paranoid, but each of them practically lusted for Terran technologies and all were eagerly agreeing to the ‘negotiations’. It would be called “Operation Flash Bang” after the decade’s old hand grenade by the same name.

Captain Harding oversaw the operation from the bridge, where he watched video feeds and informatics tracking each of the teams and their status. If something went seriously wrong the Pendleton would have to provide support from orbit. That, however, was a last resort because it would result in the loss of many Soffran lives. Over the last twenty minutes all four of the shuttles had landed and were awaiting a Soffran leader to come aboard.

As he watched each of the teams made contact, invited their target aboard, and then made their get-away. Team 1 had no problems as Lercana Murchan came aboard alone and surrendered when it became clear they intended to take him. Team 2 and 3 had a little more trouble, having to bodily eject the target’s personal guards from the shuttle in order to seal the hatch and take-off. Team 4 had the worst luck as one of the guards managed to toss a grenade-like device while the other took several shots with their slug-type weapons. They were successful, but not without a report of an injury.

Captain Harding watched Major Nessur direct each of his four-man teams over comms, and he allowed the Major to stay in charge until the targets were handed over to the ship’s security teams. Perhaps it might be wise to have the Marines guard our negotiations as well, they have done excellent work here.

“Major?” said Captain Harding.

“Yes sir?” he replied.

“Your teams have done very well. I would like you to assign details to assist ship security during the negotiations. Assign stunners and make sure they come in those intimidating dress uniforms.”

“Yes sir!” Major Nessur replied, beaming pride.

Shuttle 3 (‘Tripoli’), exiting the atmosphere of Soffra

Generally speaking, thought Gunnery Sergeant Morris, Solar Marines don't do shit like this. Streaking back through the atmosphere, the assault shuttle was enroute to the SUN Pendleton. Gunny had been reviewing in his mind the mission and how he would file his report upon return. I am more comfortable blasting things than taking them alive. Fiddling with his web gear he unseated and then re-seated his Ka-Bar in its sheath. A replica of the knife issued to United States Marines during The Great War, the twenty centimeters of steel was razor sharp and could kill an unarmored man just as easily as any firearm. Or an armored man if you knew where to strike. All Solar Marines were trained in knife fighting, but knives and bayonets were not standard issue for ship-board duty. Gunny only took his out for off-ship missions and the Major, obviously not wanting to approve of the knife, ignored that he brought it from Earth.

The mission of his four Marines and the diplomatic team were to invite Precent He'lason, the leader of the Josalan nation, onto the assault shuttle for talks and then to kidnap him. No - correction - to extract a valuable subject back to the ship. Except Corporal Aremin got hurt.

The truth was, after bodily picking up the Precent's two personal guards and throwing them out of the shuttle airlock, a grenade-like explosive thrown back through the lock by the guards outside would have killed the half the team, probably the Precent, and injured the armored Marines. The Corporal grabbed the grenade and laid his armored body over it. He wasn't badly hurt, but he lost some blood from fragments from his armor before anyone realized he was actually hurt.

The shuttle was nearing the ship, so he got up and to prep the prisoner for transfer. The Precent had knocked out two of his Marines in less than two seconds and only the fact that Gunny had planned to and immediately stunned the target with a stun blaster saved him a lot more grief. The kid should get a commendation. Bah, just means more paperwork.

“Sergeant G,” Gunny Morris said to Sergeant Grellawan, “tighten those restraints again. I’ll grab the extra restraints and we’ll make sure he won’t try that again.”

21 AUG 2086 0800 (local): Briefing Room 1, Intel Section, SUN Pendleton

After the Soffran leaders had been brought aboard each was allowed to "negotiate" with Colonel Eir and Ambassador Kusari so they could be semi-covertly interrogated on the Soffran people and history. The Ambassador planned to lodge a formal complaint about how much damage this did to his ability to actually negotiate, but agreed to wait until the Colonel presented his report. This meeting was a direct result of what he uncovered.

Captain Harding was sitting at the conference table with the Ambassador, several intelligence officers, the Captains of his task force, and Lieutenant Commander Andrey. Colonel Eir flipped on a holographic display. Displayed were images of the four different leaders and some data. Precent He'lason was from the northern continent, from a nation called Josalan. Precin Sonarus was from the eastern side of the southern continent, her nation was called Norovas. Precent Keelus was on the western side of the continent in the nation of Levisis. And the archipelago that stretched across half the planet was the nation of Muurtan, led by Lercana Murchan.

Colonel Eir’s first sentence drew a sharp breath from Ambassador Kusari. "The Soffran are not communists...not even socialist."

The Ambassador sniffled for a second and then gave his opinion. "The Soffran have a communist government. They have a centralized economy. They have no class system. The government owns the means of production and resources. When described to them, they indicated that it sounded the same."

The Colonel looked at his datapad for a moment before responding. "That is all true. However, every one of the Preco and their family are all related to the Lercana. ‘Lercana’ roughly translates into 'king of all'. ‘Preco’ seems to mean ‘little king.’ And the entire world used to be a single nation under the Lercana. They appear to be a state-owned society and have a centralized economy because the Preco owned everything, and now they have delegated control of the major industries and resources to controllers in their own governments. Small enterprises and entrepreneurships still thrive at the local level."

Kusari laughed. He blurted "Semantics.”

Captain Harding interrupted. "All of them used to be related? What do you mean?"

Colonel Eir sat down at the table. "About two hundred years ago the Soffran were united under a single king, Lercana Nuur. Each of the Preco was nobility, a regional leader that led a region of the world. If I am getting the names right, there were about 12 regions at the time, including some that included sections of the archipelago. The Lercana was aging and thinking about his legacy, and apparently felt that his family's cruelties towards their people were wrong. He tried several incentives and threats to change them to no avail. Finally he invited them all to a meeting at his... well equivalent to a castle. He blew up the meeting hall and killed himself along with several of the Preco. Not realizing that the Lercana was at fault, the remaining Preco blamed each other."

He paused. Shaking his head, he continued.

"The eldest son stepped to the throne and annexed the outer archipelago regions since their Preco were dead. This is the nation of Muurtan today. Several other family members did the same with other leaderless regions, and it caused disputes. The original explosion that injured and killed caused finger pointing. Over thirty or forty years it turned into open conflict with each of the regions declaring themselves the rightful ascendant. The Soffran were ruled by a royal family that turned upon itself. The citizens are very loyal, and they sided with their Preco. Over more than one hundred and fifty years this has turned each region into a de facto nation with independent economies, standards, armies, etc. However, each of the nations never recovered from the break-up of the original world-wide economy - the war degraded their economies faster then they rebuilt, and the loss of trade was devastating.. They've made some technological progress but not much truly new innovation."

Harding pointed to the display of the Preco. "Can we convince them to stop?"

Ambassador Kusari answered with what sounded like a growl. "Do you jest? They've been at war for longer than all of us have been alive. The Colonel is right - the people are loyal and even if we killed each of the Preco we would not stop the hatred that keeps them fighting."

Harding turned to the Ambassador. "What if we told them that we would be forced to destroy them if they did not stop fighting and change?"

The Ambassador nearly leaped out of his chair, pointing a rigid right hand straight at Captain Harding. "Are you mad? The Solar Union is not barbaric and we do not condone such behavior. I should have the Foreign Cabinet demand your removal from First Contact missions for even thinking about such an action!"

Captain Harding didn’t even blink. He expected the Ambassador to be against such an idea, but he didn't expect the Ambassador to take it literally and personally. Kusari continued to glower at him. Harding slowly blinked and then leaned back, hoping to create a little calm and seem less threatening.

"I did not mean it literally Ambassador. Of course the Solar Union would never consider such an action. Do you honestly believe that I rose to the rank of Captain without understanding my own government and the Navy that works for it?"

Kusari was stumped. He was not expecting reason from someone in the military. He thought about it, and responded "All soldiers want to do is kill. Why would I expect anything different from you or your men?"

As if a single action, Captain Nikolai and Captain Stevens started rising out of their chairs. Lieutenant Andrey seemed to sink further into her chair, and everyone turned their eyes upon Captain Harding. But it was a quiet voice from Colonel Eir that broke the silence.

"It’s a good thing the Captain isn't a soldier,” Eir said.

Everyone froze. Kusari seemed confused and mumbled something like "what?" while stepping back to his chair.
"It is a good thing the Captain isn't a soldier. Really he is an astronaut, although out of traditional we can call Naval personnel 'sailors'."

Captain Harding leaned forward and quietly whispered to Kusari, "Ambassador, I lead this First Contact Task Force. Do not insult my men and women again, it is not how civil people act."

"You kidnapped the very people I am to negotiate with. What kind of message does that send? How am I supposed to do my job?"

Captain Harding leaned back and frowned. "In the last three days we have learned what you and your team have not known for six months. Am I supposed to think you can do your job?"

Ambassador Kusari stood, shaking with visible anger. "You are done!" he shouted, "And I will see to it that you never command so much as an orbital shuttle." Pushing Captain Stevens into the table, he plowed his way out of the conference room. Everyone remained silent and all looked to Captain Harding.

Collecting himself, then standing, Harding said "I think this meeting is done. Colonel, I'll need your assistance as well as a few minutes to make sure we are clear about the next part of the plan. Lieutenant Commander Andrey, I need your team to occupy communications for the next few minutes uploading our collected information about Soffran into a mercury drone, and tell the OOD this has priority over everyone and everything else. Dismissed."

Continue to Chapter 3
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Re: Sierra Two Two (part 2)

Postby Cralis on Wed 06 Jan 2010 21:13

I'm surprised, 28 reads and no comments yet... I'm curious if anyone can guess where this is going. I'm a novice writer, so it shouldn't be too hard!
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Re: Sierra Two Two (part 2)

Postby Club on Wed 06 Jan 2010 23:50

Aside from the overused trope of "The military knows better than the civilians", it seems fairly solid.

Note that I sais overused, not unrealistic - reference early Iraq
TAG: As I understand it, he sought to avoid turning one-point-six trillion Terran sophonts into undead, war-mongering super-soldiers.
Captain Tagon: It it wrong for me to think that would be pretty cool to watch?

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Re: Sierra Two Two (part 2)

Postby Cralis on Thu 07 Jan 2010 01:19

LOL yeah, I guess it is overused. No spoiling, but I have a twist on that coming.

I've been using this to play around with manipulating the plots. I guess I'm sort of cheating by using the opportunity to practice writing style/method instead of letting the story specifically drive it. But the short stories won't have much bearing on the campaign stuff (when I get to it), it is mostly to flesh out history and story elements.

I am finding that fiction writing is a lot more difficult then I remember. Its been years since I've tried. I'm trying to convince my wife (who does it all the time) to help me out...
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Re: Sierra Two Two (part 2)

Postby xtfoster on Thu 07 Jan 2010 08:12

Cralis wrote:I'm surprised, 28 reads and no comments yet... I'm curious if anyone can guess where this is going. I'm a novice writer, so it shouldn't be too hard!
Sounds to me like there is going to be some kind of military coup.
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Re: Sierra Two Two (part 2)

Postby Cralis on Thu 07 Jan 2010 23:25

We have one guess :-)
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Re: Sierra Two Two (part 2)

Postby xzvfstarfire on Fri 08 Jan 2010 09:51

I would suspect an attempt to emplace a "legitimate" king to unify the government. The Solar Union has already has a standing policy of genocide and oppression against human colonies that rebel, so it wouldn't be a stretch to wipe the planet clean and start over with human colonists. It would be fairly cheap to blockade them and never let them into space, but that would eliminate trade income. They could combine blockade with arming one side and letting that nation unify the government. Over time we could get a stable, non-warlike, central authority.

Attempting to solve their historical schism by finding their true king would probably provide the best of all options. They could introduce the legitimate king to the kidnapped rulers, or present him to the population.

I'd bet on genocide from the tone of the story.
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Re: Sierra Two Two (part 2)

Postby PracticalM on Fri 08 Jan 2010 12:21

Unfortunately I haven't actually read it even though I've been on the page. I'll get around to it sometime. Maybe after the prototype i'm working on is up.
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Re: Sierra Two Two (part 2)

Postby Cralis on Fri 08 Jan 2010 18:47

xzvfstarfire wrote:I would suspect an attempt to emplace a "legitimate" king to unify the government. The Solar Union has already has a standing policy of genocide and oppression against human colonies that rebel, so it wouldn't be a stretch to wipe the planet clean and start over with human colonists. It would be fairly cheap to blockade them and never let them into space, but that would eliminate trade income. They could combine blockade with arming one side and letting that nation unify the government. Over time we could get a stable, non-warlike, central authority.

Attempting to solve their historical schism by finding their true king would probably provide the best of all options. They could introduce the legitimate king to the kidnapped rulers, or present him to the population.

I'd bet on genocide from the tone of the story.


Are you sure you don't work for the CIA or something? Sheesh! You've got nearly all the angles covered here.

But the 'true king' thing is interesting... the king died. I did assume that the eldest son would be the heir, and he even took the throne. So what is your thinking here?
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Re: Sierra Two Two (part 2)

Postby xzvfstarfire on Fri 08 Jan 2010 22:51

It depends on the Soffran population. Even with a monarchy or dictatorship, you can only rule with support from a power base. A lot will depend on Soffran mythology and their view of the last true king. Depending on technology, you could grow a heir Avatar style, or find a popular figure in Soffran society and brainwash or bribe him. The Solar Union basically decapitated the leadership of Soffran. Considering most hereditary governments have succession plans, it might already be too late. Plus humans aren't beneficial aliens anymore, after kidnapping their leadership, they probably are in disarray and fearing invasion. What I would do is create a king.

Go ahead and space the current leadership. Create a void, then send in your invasion force fast and overwhelming. Spank their military, but don't occupy any territory. Once most organized military is sent into hiding, find a mid ranking military officer you captured and co-op him. Kill anyone who knows you captured him and plant him back on the planet with some captured weapons. Give him time to recruit a small army. Have him "win" a few minor battles and "force" the aliens back to the negotiating table, where the "hero" of Soffran speaks for the entire planet, ending hostilities and the threat of genocide, while negotiating massive rebuilding aid. Hopefully, providing health care and eliminating hunger plus a liberal dose of consumer goods, along with eliminating most the the old leadership's power base will allow a unification government to be formed and supported by the populace. If the hero leader can dye of a heart attack after giving a speech calling for forgiving our new human friends and exploring the universe as members of the Solar Union, all the better.

That's an overly complex plan with many places it could fail. Blockade of the planet is safe, you can exploit the rest of the solar system, and covertly provide biological weapons to all sides so they can either work out their differences peacefully or commit planetary suicide.
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