INT – DAY – Tajemnica’s cargo bay, as it sits on pad D9
Ramp is down, main airlock door is open, daylight streaming in. There are seven trucks on board, including three tankers. One cargo truck is being unloaded, and there is a large pile of stuff where another had been unloaded. The rest have been driven on and parked, still loaded.
Bipasha watches, then walks up on some soldiers stacking some crates taken from the back of a truck.
Bipasha: You can’t just throw things in like that! You have to stack things carefully, and secure them properly so they don’t go flying around if we lose grav or crash! AND you have to tie down the trucks staying on board so they don’t roll!
Private3: Look, Super, you’re just making a short hop over to the outpost, have your Colonel say howdy to ours, drop off the rats ‘n ammo, ‘n fly back. The only way we are losing grav is if the whole blipp’n planet loses it. And that’s only slightly less likely than finding a Planet Mover’s overdue library book.
Bipasha: Maybe so, but crashing is a LOT more likely-
Private3: Crashing? – well, that’s more likely, but we’ll be dead so… *shrug*
Bipasha looks at him in a way that says she’s thinking over her response, then sort of chuckles and shakes her head.
Bipasha: I’d be happy to have the Sergeant check how well you followed loading instructions…
Private3: Oh, no, no, that’s OK. I’ll make sure I tie them down, tight and proper-like. Just point me to the tie-downs, ma’am!
EXT – DAY – High over base Raptus Regaliter
A tan expanse of boring with patches of slightly less boring scattered about, in the middle of a wide basin chock FULL of boring, surrounded in the distance by mesas and craggy mountains. The base is a rough circle a bit more than a half-kilometer across, with a collection of dug in artillery, wheeled and tracked combat vehicles such as tanks and APCs, tents, trucks, supply bunkers, and whatnot, and a lot of individual fighting positions. Near the middle is clear space with a line of simple sand-bagged pre-fab storage bunkers. Tajemnica arrows down through the air above it.
Aft cargo ramp
Quinn, Allonia, and a couple of the base soldiers stand back a bit from the edge of partially-lowered ramp, watching the expanse of plain pass below, as the wind swirls around and ruffles their hair. All are wearing safety harnesses and lines. The soldier is pointing out things as they pass them.
Soldier: Those are the 120mm artillery pieces. They can shoot for more than 30 kilometers! Into those hills in the distance. That’s an Armored Personnel Carrier.
Quinn: COOL! Can we look closer?
Allonia: I’m sure they’ll be busy!
Soldier: No problem! Be happy to give you the two-cent tour!
Helton, Quiritis, Cooper, Lag, Bipasha are present
Helton: How many people at the base right now?
Ship AI: (OC, with heavy pirate accent) Thar be three hundred ‘n twenty-one ‘o th’ wretched lay-abouts in port at the moment.
Bipasha: Say again?
Ship AI: (OC, still with accent) Thirrrrty two gentlemen, n’ th’ rest are th’ normal chum-dippers and plank-walkers.
Quiritis: Why the accent, Taj?
Ship AI: (OC, still with accent, as if it was obvious) It be th’ nineteenth o’ September, o’course.
Helton: And that means-?
Ship AI: (OC, still with thick accent) Ne’r ye’ mind, Cap’n, ‘til th’enemy sail is in cannon-shot, so we can hoist the black flag ‘n make buckets ‘o shark-bait of em.
Helton: Ooooo-kay, then, three hundred twenty one scurvy dogs it is.
Ground view, from near the perimeter.
Tajemnica glides down smoothly through the air into the center clearing, settling gently down with the aft ramp not far from the storage bunkers.
EXT – DAY – Ground-level view of Tajemnica being unloaded
She is very low on her landing struts, almost flat on the ground. A tanker truck drives slowly off the ramp. There is still a lot of stuff stacked and tied down in the cargo bay, but the trucks are all gone. There are a couple of troops in the cargo bay loosening tie-downs and unloading a few things.
EXT – DAY – near a few sand-bagged buildings
Cooper, looking dashing in his red uniform jacket, appears to be chatting up one of the few ladies in uniform on the base. She’s pretty average looking, and her baggy uniform conceals her shape well, but she’s interested and he’s new and charming and without chain of command complications, so they walk off towards someplace a bit more private.
EXT – DAY – Near a 120mm gun emplacement
Quinn is being shown the gun by a soldier, and Allonia stands nearby, watching. The soldier pushes one of the control buttons, and as he does the barrel of the gun slowly elevates. Then he indicates that Quinn can push another button, and as he does do the barrel slowly lowers. His eyes are wide, and he’s vibrating with excitement.
INT – DAY – Command bunker
Lag and a couple of the senior officers are meeting over a large table with a map spread out on it. The bunker is walled in sandbags, and has heavy beams overhead in its low roof. In the background there are several other soldiers, junior officers and a some NCOs.
Lag: Move, counter-move, counter-counter-move, you ended here. I understand how you GOT here. But this place has been static for WAY too long. SOMETHING isn’t right, but if your intel is right, I can’t for the life of me figure out the last half-dozen moves and non-moves each side has made. Which means either there are complete imbeciles in charge on BOTH sides-
Camp Col: (dryly) -more than possible-
Lag: -or your intel is WAY wrong…
Camp Col: But WHERE is it wrong?
Lag: THAT is what I’m here to try to figure out. Hopefully, eyes on the ground can clarify the situation. When your best estimate is a platoon, a company at MOST, and it turns out to be an entire air-defense BATTALION, SOMEONE isn’t doing their job.
Camp Col: I’ve heard the rumors, but that wasn’t our region – what can you tell me about it?
Lag: The ship out there was contracted to fly civ refugees out, got wind of air-defense movement. Your guys said back-bench platoon, we air-dropped a squad in to deal with it. Turned out to be an officer-heavy battalion that we left as a leg infantry company led by a lieutenant. Still not sure why that size unit was there.
Camp XO: Good GOD! With a SQUAD?
Lag: There’s a reason your bosses hired us. Might have done more, but only three of the eight weren’t green recruits, and we only had a few hours to prepare.
The camp officers digest this information, and several emotions play across their faces for a few long seconds.
Camp Col: If you were in charge, based on what you DO know, what would your orders be?
Lag: (thoughtfully) You have some good equipment, and a few good people along with the typical free-force rejects and average guys, but the mix of things and position is ALL wrong. Either some other unit stays here with totally different hardware, or you just pick up what you have and haul ass NOW for any of a half-dozen better spots.
Camp Col: Are we at THAT much risk?
Lag: Not sure what your risk is. I know your OpFor intel is wrong, just not HOW wrong, but your offensive abilities are totally wasted here. The Kiv can mostly just ignore you.
Camp Col: But we have artillery! Air defense! Direct fire! Good soldiers!
Lag: Yes, you do. But you have no obvious targets, and wheels and tracks give you insufficient ability to get to them. You do not appear to be blocking any movement, so you pose no threat that ties up Kiv units.
The Camp Col looks a little surprised, then thoughtful, then concerned, as he looks at it from a new perspective.
In the background, a soldier wearing a headset sits up, and makes a quick adjustment on his set.
Radio Tech: SIR, jamming again. Broad Freq, high intensity… Gone again.
The Camp Col nods acknowledgment, and Lag raises an eyebrow in question.
Camp Col: Jamming bursts happen regularly. More frequently recently, but shorter duration. Not a problem, but a nuisance. Doesn’t seem to cause any problems.
He shrugs it off.
Camp XO: Speaking of tech, I’m assuming you’d not take a prohibited ship to a military base, but should that thing be here?
Lag: It’s unarmed, civilian registered. Feel free to have the compliance monitor check it out. It can haul some equipment and basic supplies and casualties, but not large numbers of soldiers or active weapons systems, limited even then to mid-speed air-drop only, unless the Kiv are in major violation. Speaking of, are you using tech-level only or dual-level with the higher electronics disabled?
Camp Col nods understanding.
Camp Col: Dual level. Powered movement only. Aiming electronics still in place, but certified non-active. Generals didn’t want them fully crippled, but agreed because… well, I’m not quite sure, but here we are.
Lag: Two edged sword – if the Kiv manage to get then reactivated, YOU are in violation, and THEY can rake you over with whatever they have up their sleeves, unless you can prove they did it AND that you didn’t use it.
Camp Col: I just work with what they give me. You understand.
Lag: Yes, indeed I do. Just be REALLY careful. Being on the wrong side of a level violation gets REAL ugly VERY fast.
They both lean in, and start examining the map intently.