This forum uses cookies
This forum makes use of cookies to store your login information if you are registered, and your last visit if you are not. Cookies are small text documents stored on your computer; the cookies set by this forum can only be used on this website and pose no security risk. Cookies on this forum also track the specific topics you have read and when you last read them. Please confirm whether you accept or reject these cookies being set.

A cookie will be stored in your browser regardless of choice to prevent you being asked this question again. You will be able to change your cookie settings at any time using the link in the footer.

No Russian
Reed pounded a fist against her chest to clear the laughter.

Mercenaries! In the CCD. The notion was hilarious! Greatest empire on earth and they hired Jacques Danjou to do their dirty work. It'd be brilliant if it weren't so fucking funny.

"Well kids, let's split. Trano, have any easy way to get us down? Because I don't think I'm up for piggybacking all of you."

Trano's sass flattened her gaze. "We came up through that elevator shaft over there. Shouldn't be too hard to get back down."

"You mean back to the basement then up through the floor again? Fuck that."
Reed said and crossed to the ledge.

She wasn't dumb enough to outline herself on the edge of the building for anyone to see. So she took a knee and peered over carefully.

The Knights were unlikely to take kindly at Reed's sudden claim on leadership, but floating to safety with Trano's magic up her crotch didn't sound like her idea of a good time.

Sharp eyes flickered this way and that until she spotted the slender shape they needed.

She crouched for the first few steps and returned to them. "Fire escape straight to the tar mac, forty-five meters that way."
She rolled her eyes. A cloud of smoke suddenly wafted their way, and she coughed irritably.

"Let's go geniuses."
She was in no mood to take orders for the time being, and as the group made their way down the roof, she slipped a hand in one pocket long enough to power off a Wallet.

"There is to be no offensive. We are here to evacuate. This war is yours to win on your own."
Capitan Hakim glanced back as one of his men outside relayed they had encountered their VIP target for the terminal location; Mr Trano had arrived in the company of a group of CCD special operatives and with his registered assistant as well. At Captain Miko's confirmation that these were the last survivors to be found, it was time to leave.

At his signal, buses were fired up and rolled into place in the concrete lot outside the Fortress, the area secured at least for the moment by the Legionnaires. The evacuation was quick and orderly, mostly because they had no interest to put up with an argument or any strife with the civilians. They were all important people in the CCD to have warranted being at the airport that day to begin with, but to the Legion, at the moment, they were just cattle to be herded. Politely, but sternly.

The fighting around the Fortress intensified as the rebels realized what was going on, and began to press further against the Legion line. Over the roar of weapons fire and the fanatical screams of the rebels, none heard the distant thumps of mortar fire.

They certainly heard the mortars detonate though. Six tubes reigned 60mm mortar shells onto and around concentrations of rebel fighters, and their affect on the fanatics was stark. Unarmoured flesh gave before the explosives and the reign of shrapnel they tossed. Men screamed in the night with each detonation, and their sudden-found intensity melted away, at least for the moment.

It took far longer then Capitan Hakim would have liked to get the civilians loaded onto the buses; the remaining CCD troops, like the Legionnaires, had the unenviable task of moving alongside to cover the vehicles' movement. The assault group over-extended itself away from the Fortress and towards the fires that raged on the distant tarmacs, and soon enough the vehicles were thrown into gear and started towards the waiting planes.

Mr Trano and his assistant Reed were put onto the lead bus, with Capitan Hakim and his men showing no interest to listen to whatever arguments they had to offer to the contrary. The lead vehicle would likely be the safest in this case, only for the fact that it was the first one away and fastest moving, letting it outdistance the enemy soonest.

The run to the fire-base and waiting planes wasn't without incident. The enemy pressed them the entire way, and due to limited ammunition the mortars were unable to keep them scattered and suppressed. Their rounds would be needed in the next phase of the plan.

That left the brunt of the work to the CCD troops and Legionnaires of the assault group, moving on foot or in the backs of a few captured service trucks, and there were casualties along the way, although blessedly few. The inexperience of the rebels, and their growing exhaustion from having been fighting for long hours already, was greatly outmatched by the training of professional soldiers fresh to the field.

The assault group followed the buses till they reached the fire-base's location, and then they turned to bolster the perimeter, outside the blinding light of the flames. With the fires to their back, they were hard to see and the view ahead was illuminated to at least some degree, allowing them to lay an effective field of fire. Aided by the till-then silent .50 calibres of the fire-base, they were again able to drive off the rebels for a time.

The buses had taken some fire in the run, and the wounded were quickly seen to the plane marked for triage, while the pilots were escorted to their posts.

And among it all, Jacques Danjou stood in the light of the fires and the glow of out-of-date computers of his command and control point, flanked by junior officers and specialists, coordinating the scene.

And, apparently, on a conference call with the Chinese government.

"I understand your desire to keep your ambassador safe, but in light of the current climate, I suggest mutual support. My Legionnaires are moving into the Moroccan embassy as we speak, with members of the legally elected government. Should they be killed, the situation in Sierra Leone will only destabilize further."

"I do not see how a band of African mercenaries are of any use to us at this time. Our embassy has not been, nor is likely to be, attacked."

"Yet. It shall be. The Temne tribes hate outside influence on their country, and China owns most of the mining operations and processing plants throughout the country. To them, you are stealing their wealth straight from their pockets. They have turned on the government because of deals made with yourselves and the Americans. Should they win, you will be providing the Temne with very nice factories that you shall no longer see a dime of profit out of."

"Do not let CCD propaganda sway you to thinking we are so weak that we fear this minor uprising of bankrupting us."

"Do not think I do not realize that Sierra Leone provides one of the only untapped sources of rhodium that is not already owned by the CCD. They will have no qualms with buying the mined product from the Temne even at a huge mark-up just to deny it to your industries. The elected government understands the importance of these industries being foreign run. The Temne do not."

The Chinese representative was silent a moment. Then the bursts of .50 fire opened up in the not-so-distant background. "Mr Danjou, can you explain again what exactly is going on there?"

"My current location is of no concern to our conversation, sir. Back to the topic at hand..."
Jacques turned away from the camera for a moment to talk to one of his assistants, confirming orders for a team in Sierra Leone to move on another possible government member's location, then turned back, "Assist in securing the embassy district. My men already hold the security contracts for many of your country's assets in Sierra Leone. Your men's actions there will allow me to focus my men on keeping your factories and mines secure. It's mutually beneficial. And, you will have this show of support to the legal government to better negotiate future terms with them."

The Chinese were silent again for a short time, discussing his argument among themselves then they finally gave in. Their embassy's security detail would keep the other embassy's secure, at least for the time being, in exchange for added Legion presence at their facilities throughout the country. He passed the call onto his staff at the home-office after some farewell pleasantries, with word to home-office to write up the new contracts. They were now legal in sending more men to Sierra Leone.

Then he stepped away from the command point and approached Capitan Hakim, Captain Miko, Reed and Trano, nodding to the group. "This is everyone? So be it. I want these planes of the ground ASAP. Their flight-paths are secure and cleared. Once they are gone, we begin phase 2."

Capitan Hakim saluted and moved away to start readying his men. Runners brought boxes of ammo out to the assault group, who in the current respite began reloading their magazines. There was precious little ammunition left already, but it would have to do. Each man carried far more then normal.

"Captain Miko, yes? Your men are clear to quite the field. There is room on the planes. I will take volunteers, however. Understanding that you will be under my command exclusively until this operation is complete. I have no ammunition for your weapons, so strip what you can from your wounded before they are evac'd. And where the hell is my satellite and comms access? A CCD specialist was supposed to meet me on the tarmac."

"Monsieur Trano, Mademoiselle Reed. I understand you are both causing quite a stir. I do not know what it is you are capable of doing, but please keep it in check. And should you run off again, do not be surprised when I do not spare a man to die for you again."
To Trano and Reed in turn. He did not know what Trano could do, or even what exactly he had done, but until he could be properly briefed, the man was an unknown. And Jacques did not like unknowns. If he were a weapon, he came with no instructions and was untested in real combat. He had proven capable under the heat of the moment, but that heat and pressure could shatter a quickly fired pot. And he could only hope Reed would not insist on taking things into her own hands again. He did not like unknowns, and DV had proven to be full of them.
The bus ride across the tarmac was surprisingly short, unexpectedly uneventful, and tremendously nerve wracking. Nicholas didn't care what some other arrogant prick might have to say about the sense of invincibility that comes with the power. When you find yourself slowly trundling across flat ground in a thin metal coffin surrounded by other people even more terrified than you are, with bullets whizzing by and explosive shock waves slamming against the walls, you might as well be a field mouse. He had the power to level buildings - or, at least, he suspected as much - yet in those few tense minutes he felt just as he imagined it would to be desperately holding onto driftwood in the middle of a stormy sea.

Then they were there. Nicholas was no claustrophobe, but he'd be damned if open air had ever felt so good. Jacques Danjou pulled him and Reed aside soon after they got off the buses. The CEO of the Legion Premiere was in a makeshift command center, of sorts, passing out orders and monitoring a dozen feeds at once. He was still sore about the man who died during the riot. Which was a good thing, as far as Nicholas was concerned - Jacques certainly wasn't heartless. At his not-so-subtle accusation, Reed put her hands up defensively. Innocent little her clearly had nothing to do with anything.

Nicholas quickly acquiesced to the man's requests. He was actually asking Nicholas to avoid getting shot at; who wouldn't agree to that? "Barring any more stray balls of fire, I'll stay out of your way."
The sooner and safer he was out of this tribal hellhole, the better.

Jacques seemed to think Nicholas needed more convincing. "No plan survives contact with the enemy, Mr Trano. But should you be needed to do... whatever it is you do, well, it is already too late I fear." He looked away for a moment, distracted by a long scroll of text crossing his screen. "The CCD has a flight of VTOLs to arrive here in two hours to take us all out of this place." He seemed to be talking more to himself than to the annoying civilian who was so rudely taking up space in his command post.

All non-combatants were being herded onto a pair of civilian jets. If Nicholas wanted, he could get on with them and be out of this hell hole. Still, he was ostensibly a reporter. It'd be a hell of a story he'd be telling when he escaped Saudi Arabia. He didn't want to leave before it was over. "So what happens until then?"
A few hundred soldiers would have to hold a thin line against thousands of extremists for two hours, on open ground. It didn't look particularly good. Not the kind of thing that had a happy ending, at least.

The loading of civilians onto the planes continued in the background, and rather than answering Nicholas's question, Jacques offered him exactly what he wanted. "I assume, as you are a reporter, you insist on staying?"

Nicholas covered the surprise before it registered on his face. "I thought you'd never ask."
He glanced at Reed, whose expression turned sour at that. But he saw more to it than just getting a good story. Now that his secret was out, he didn't exactly like his chances if he returned to the Custody. In a country that didn't believe in concepts such as rights, he could easily find himself drugged and waking up in Nikolai Brandon's personal rape dungeon. He crossed his arms and, leaning against a table, looked back at Jacques. "After those evac birds get here, where are you planning to go?"

"Freetown." He gestured among the various screens, then raised a hand for Trano to wait as he was forced to take a call. The conversation was short. Apparently, an American company was complaining about refugees being housed on its property in Sierra Leone.

Refugees in Sierra Leone?
Last Nicholas heard, that place was a model African nation in terms of peace and prosperity. But then again, "model African nation," he supposed.

Ever the humanitarian, apparently, Jacques pointed out that the company would win a lot of favor with the people of that country, particularly the ones likely to be in power once the dust settled. Some tribal group or another. It didn't take long for the call to end, and Jacques turned back to Nicholas. "I am establishing a field command at the foreign Moroccan embassy. I purchased it two hours ago for a tidy sum."

"At least you put my money to good use."
Nicholas let the smile die before it could fully form. Travelling from one war zone to another wasn't exactly what he'd been hoping for. But, then again, that second war zone was far from the Custody's grasp. "If you'll allow it, I'd be glad to stick around. I'll stay out of your way unless you need me. The cat's out of the bag on all this, so if you want to know exactly what I can do I'll tell you as much as I know."
Of course, that wasn't entirely selfless. He didn't want his eyes clawed out by that angry, escaped cat - a couple well publicized good deeds could go a long way.

Jacques turned from his work, at that, and fixed Nicholas with a long, considering stare. "Do what you can. I will not hold your hand in this, Mr Trano. My men are spread thin. We cannot assure your safety." He paused a moment, glancing to the plane marked for triage, where wounded CCD soldiers were being loaded. "Get yourself some armor. If this position is over run, we all die. Let that guide your decisions."

Nicholas nodded and glanced over his shoulder at the fighting. "I'll... keep that in mind."
He really wasn't going to be happy about all this in the morning. The us-versus-them mindset was a very momentary thing. But he seized hold of the power once again, welcoming the burn that spread throughout his entire body. There were a million and one things he could do, but only a few dozen he actually knew how to.


It took a few minutes, but Nicholas secured a set of armor - Custody symbol stylishly removed. He found himself a comfortable spot atop a burned out fuel truck, and set to work. Thick, heavy clouds of smoke hung across much of the battlefield. He'd managed to grab a pair of binoculars from one of Jacques's command staff, and he was about to test out a little theory of his. He was pretty sure the power would work so long as he could see what he was doing - assuming, of course, that it didn't drop off like direct current electricity.

Reed stood nearby, oddly quiet yet observant. She was tense, more in the manner of a cat ready to pounce than a woman scared for her life. If any Arabic ninjas snuck up through the lines to kill Nicholas, she was his last line of defense.

So he found his niche. Whenever a group of rebels popped up and started shooting, he'd make a wall of air to protect those they were killing. He moved the smoke around, blocking the rebels' vision - he knew the Custody troops had thermals, and he was pretty sure the Legion did too. A couple times he was forced to weave a vortex of flame, but it always left a bad taste in his mouth. Nobody should have to die like that.

Nicholas only took care of the obvious. He was a battlefield good Samaritan. He didn't try to make use of the power in such a way as to dictate Jacques's tactics - he just did what he could to support what everyone else was doing. He figured that was for the best - he'd never channeled to the point of being tired before, but a night's worth of holding the power was beginning to fray his wits.

Edited by Nick Trano, Jun 6 2014, 08:07 PM.
The time eventually came that those that would be leaving were loaded onto the planes. The signal came at Jacques' direction, and the steady thrum of gunfire at the perimeter increased. Mortars began firing again, dropping shells dangerously close to the Legion lines, and smoke pots were ignited to further thicken the obscuring clouds.

The two seized planes started their engines, the rescued crews tasked the unenviable experience of trying to escape the besieged city before the rebels could respond and try to pluck them out of the sky.

Rocked by the Legion's counter-attack, the rebels were pushed back. Aided by Mr Trano's magics, their opportunity was lost. The planes rumbled down the runway, away from the majority of the insurgent forces, and by the time they pierced the clouds of smoke they were already moving at speed. Within moments the lead plane began to lift off, the second following dangerously close behind, separated by less then a hundred meters.

The first left the ground and moved into the air before the enemy could begin to respond, and the second was too far for them to strike it down. The second plane lifted, and the Legionnaires began to move from their positions, pushing the rebels back.

With no running lights on, the planes quickly vanished into the cloud-choked night sky. And the next phase of the plan began again.

By all looks of things, the Legionnaires began to tear down their fire-base position. A costly push pressed and broke the enemy, who fled back into the city to regroup, and Legionnaires moved to secure the vehicles they would need to make their escape. The buses were abandoned, and other, more hearty vehicles were found.

Firetrucks and emergency vehicles mostly, with service trucks into which men were loaded. The weapons of the fire-base fell silent, and more planes were set aflame to make it seem as though the entire airport was being abandoned. When the Legion moved again, it was as an armed convoy of civilian vehicles, moving west into the city of Jeddah.

As the vehicles rolled away, the fire-base, with Reed and Trano, were hidden behind the flames of destroyed planes and the clouds of smoke. They would hide there as the assault group moved to it's other objectives, and as those vehicles departed Jacques signaled to the CCD that it was time for their VTOLs to begin their approach.

As the assault group rolled away, Jacques was finally joined by a Vega operative, tasked to oversee his access to the CCD satellites and communications. Within minutes he had what he had been after the whole time; real-time imaging from CCD satellites and high-flying drones. And with that access he was able to start tracking the enemy's movements.
Where Trano went, Reed followed.

Reed noted a dozen different qualities about Jacques, but she took them with a grain of salt. He was not the mission; Trano was. Destabilizing the CCD was. If Jacques ever became the man that could forward that initiative, then her people might send him a carepackage by the name of Samantha Reed. Until then, she flicked the frenchman a wink and disappeared into the smoke.

While Trano strapped on his armor, Reed watched without bothering to conceal her amusement. "Hey sailor, that goes that way.
" She finally couldn't take it any longer, and swapped the direction a pair of straps lay across his ribs. "There,"
she said, hanging on. She pulled that tall drink of water close, and stood on her toes to speak into his ear, "lets show those mother fuckers your wizard stick."

When he finally went to work, she lay beside him. She was the eyes that watched the perimeter around what could be the Legion's greatest asset. It was incredible.

If they all survived, she would have a lot to consider. Men like Trano were going to change the shape of war as they knew it.

Edited by Julie Reed, Jun 8 2014, 04:52 PM.
The assault group vanished into the city of Jeddah, leaving the fire-base group alone amid the flames and smoke of the destroyed planes. Their weapons were silent, the Legionnaires carefully adjusting their positions as the sounds of fighting faded into the distance.

There was still the sounds of fighting throughout the city, and far to the east a red glow marked the fires that raged in holy Mecca. That grim glow drew the gaze of the Legionnaires more then once. Few had stepped foot so close to the holiest site of their religion, and all they could see of it was the flames of war.

Finally supplied with the access to the satellites, Jacques quickly discovered that a portion of the city was hidden from him. Security clearance far higher then what the Vega could provide him with left a portion of eastern Jeddah hidden beneath an unchanging image. No live images could be gleaned from it.

Just what was the CCD up to? No angle he tried could give him a view of that part of the city, and in the end he could do little but hope that should trouble be brewing there, the extraction team would be tracking it and inform him.

Using the satellites, Jacques was able to track the movement of his assault group and of the enemy forces, which swarmed away from the airport to give chase. They had taken the bait, and the next few hours was spent coordinating their movement and providing them with over-watch.

Despite the enemy's numbers, the Legionnaires were always able to stay one step ahead of them; they had a more coherent command structure, they had active communications, they had training, and they had eyes in the sky.

The operation at the university went perfectly, and the convoy was bolstered by a large industrial bulldozer and a series of dump trucks, the thick metal sides of which would provide some cover for the noncombatants located within.

From the university it was south, towards the naval port,and his men responded in near perfect unison when the order came to suddenly turn east and towards Um Salama Hospital. It was there the first of his men made their stand; the enemy was proving surprisingly mobile. The concentration of enemy combatants in that area had been greater then he had expected when the assault group first started moving, before he had access to the satellites.

At his command, the mic and camera feeds of Sgt Wilks and his men were displayed on one of the screens, and Jacques afforded it most of his attention even as he continued to coordinate the convoy's movements, tracking the departure of a large group of armed men south-bound from the hospital.

The Legionnaires were singing as they died, and he glanced at the seemingly emotionless Vega at his side. "Le Bedouin. It is our song."
He smiled with a mixture of sorrow and pride as the cameras winked out, or gave immobile views of the sky or the earth.

The Legionnaires manning the command post were recording the stand. They were recording everything; every word spoken by the assault group, every man's camera feed. They sat unflinching even as tears of pride appeared on men's faces as the song rose to a crescendo and yet dimmed as the number of voices carrying it diminished.

"Tiens, voilà du boudin, voilà du boudin, voilà du boudin
Pour les Alsaciens, les Suisses et les Lorrains.
Pour les Belges y en a plus.
Pour les Belges y en a plus.
Ce sont des tireurs au cul.
Pour les Belges y en a plus.
Pour les Belges y en a plus.
Ce sont des tireurs au cul!"

Even as his emotions raged, Jacques could carry a tune. He sung with pride, and he leaned in closer to the display as if to steady himself as Sgt Wilks was beaten and born to the ground. "Ad anum."
That last was little more then a choked whisper before the image displayed one gloved fist clutching a hand grenade, and then it was gone.

He stood tall then, clasping his hands tightly in the small of his back, and turned his attention away. Their stand had bought the convoy the time it had needed to surround and secure the hospital. Already Legionnaires were moving inside; a short gunfight, more brothers lost. And the hospital was theirs. The enemy was halted, and began to swarm, drawing in from the south and north; those that had chased them from the airport finally catching up.

His men marked enemy positions and movement; buildings were flagged red as occupied. Fields of fire markers began to light up the screen as squads settled in and prepared. Images from in the hospital were surprisingly calm, all things considered. And then their VIPs were found.

His conversation with Michael and Dr Weston was relatively short and to the point. One of his men indicated they had contact with the extraction team; the VTOLs were thirty minutes out and ready to move in on request.

And then his convoy was on the move again, and word was given for the extraction team to move in. His mortar teams were ready; they were nearly out of ammo, but more was on the inbound VTOLs, or so he was promised. Belts of ammo for the .50s as well. And more then enough craft to take everyone out.

The convoy reached the mall, and laagered there for a time, extracting more CCD civilians. And then they moved north.

Jacques did not freeze. He did not hesitate, or curse, or loose his composure. Save for his hands. The grip there turned his knuckles white. The satellite feed showed insurgents moving west, out of the sensored part of the city. Hundreds, bound not only for the highway his men were travelling north on, but chasing something on highway 320 west bound too.

He cycled the image to the edge of the sensored area, and soon enough was met with the view of a group of CCD military APCs rolling slowly down the road towards the overpasses into the airport. And as they emerged, he was sudden graced with a signal from them.

"This is Lieutenant Colonel Romanov. I am escorting civilians and VIPs. Priority passage with extraction team. Over."

Jacques glanced briefly at the Vega at his side, his expression...cold. The sounds of the VTOLs approaching the airfield could be heard over the roar of the flames. The satellite image displayed two VTOLs flying north, low over the city towards the CCD convoy, weapons firing at targets on the ground.

"This is Jacques Danjou. Commander of this rescue operation. Understood. Out."
He began coordinating with his staff, and markers were placed on the north side of the overpasses, covering the wide fields that overlooked the highways.

Romanov spoke up again, the muffled sound of rounds pinging dangerously off the side of the man's hard-skinned vehicle. "Civilians do NOT out me, mercenary."

"Lieutenant. Monitor all further comms with that bastard. And shut him the hell up."
His entire posture had changed, subtly. His back was straighter, his voice firmer as orders were given. A line in the sand was to be drawn. The assault group would be on the airport before the CCD convoy, and that group would be over-run before they could reach the extraction point.

Orders were given, and icons indicating his men's positions began to move with greater urgency. Within minutes, eight vanished as a gas station exploded, the flash and column of flames clearly seen even from the fire-base. Others fought hand-to-hand in alleys or buildings as their ammo began to run out, or endurance faded.

VTOLs began to touch down just north of the fire-base team, and additional CCD troops began to pile out to bolster the fire-base perimeter. They carried cases of mortar rounds and .50 ammo, and Legionnaire runners met them and began leading them towards the necessary weapon positions.

The arrival of the CCD aircraft ended the silence of the Legion fire-base. The mortars opened up again, raining death on the insurgents chasing both the assault group and the CCD convoy. He hadn't enough to hold the enemy at bay, but it slowed and scattered them.

And then they stopped; first one, who barked a worried warning to another group, who stopped. Then another group, and eventually all of them. Arguments broke out. African Legionnaires tore open the boxes of mortars the CCD had delivered and pulled open ammo cans of.50 belts, and all came to a horrifying realization. They had brought CCD ammunition. Caseless ammo. CCD military technology was decades ahead of what the Legion used.

"It's useless sir. All of it."
He glanced to the member of his command staff that delivered the message, and just nodded. There was nothing to be done about it now. They had boxes and boxes of ammunition, enough to cover the assault group's withdrawl after the CCD convoy had reached safety.

They just didn't have any weapons that could fire it.

The two VTOLs covering the CCD convoy were plucked from the sky. One was struck dead-center by a MPAD (man portable air defense weapon). It exploded and spun out of the sky to crash into an apartment block. One that had shown dozens of heat signatures. Families hiding from the violence.

The second was hit in the tail and it crashed to the earth on the airport grounds far to the south of the fire base, then exploded in a rain of debris.

And then the assault group convoy burst onto the airport grounds. They avoided the over passes, and the lead dozer pushed concrete barricades and cars and earth into the irrigation ditch that ran on the north side of highway 320, filling the gap. The dump trucks rumbled across next, and Legionnaires began to fan out at a dead run, a final burst of speed to start occupying firing positions.

Edited by Jacques, Jun 8 2014, 07:29 PM.
Assault Team Vega Major Mitzman accepted his orders with only the barest moment of hesitation. He dared not question authority, only the quality of his hearing. Orders were supervised infiltration of a known foreigner - with his own army - as he perused CCD intelligence.

Alright then.

Major Mitz was Jacques' shadow throughout the duration of the campaign. He passed through hell to get to the airport, and once arrived, was met with thankless greetings and asked to stand aside. He complied, but remained within arm's reach. What Jacques saw, he saw. What the foreigner ordered; the Major approved.

He didn't like it, but he didn't have to. Jacques was saving lives not of his own men, and Major Mitzman was witness to it. That was enough for him.


Fighter jets were not the only plane streaming through the Arabian skies that night. There was one more, though none in the ground in Mecca, and a rare few in the Kremlin, knew exactly where it was.

The Ascendancy's plane, battle-capable in and of itself, soared in the lower levels of the stratosphere. The boardroom that served as host conference with the Sphere mere hours beforehand was now occupied by one quiet figure.

The chair at the head of the table was turned away. The figure enthroned within reserved, watchful. Nikolai did not favor war; nor would he consider himself a commander. The distaste in his mouth was genuine as he assimilated screen after screen of updates. In one corner, troop-POV's on the ground in Kuwait City scrolled. In another, Baghdad. Even the glittering skyline of glorious Dubai was tainted.

One city took the center-most screen, however. The CoD had eyes and ears with all Custody forces in Mecca, and Nikolai was content to trust in their judgments. The larger picture was theirs to monitor. He was fixed on one individual.

Smoke wafted like ominous fog on the horizon. Flame and explosions flashed and glowed; illuminating a scene terribly different than the one freshly ensconced in his mind.

The young man's song filled the speakers.

Nikolai had not heard it before, and at the press of a button the CEO's lyrics scrolled alongside, untranslated. His eyes narrowed ever so slightly; he turned up the volume and lay his head back in the seat.

He let the significance fill him. He let the weight of the Dominance rest on his shoulders. Tomorrow, the world's reports of the casualties would be laid unfairly at his feet. He could feel them now, the dead, crawling their way up his ankles, bony hands scratching at his shins.

Jacques' hymn fell quiet while the tune continued in Nikolai's mind for some moments.

"This is not my fault,"
Nikolai breathed, his mercy falling empty.

His eyes shot open. Conviction cooled the remainder of his love for Dominance V. "To the pitiless house of wailing they shall go."

He signaled to his staff, "Send them to hell."

The shooting hadn't let up for more than an hour. Nicholas was still in his spot atop the command post, still dealing out death through the lenses of a borrowed pair of binoculars. He'd never felt so exhausted in his life. It wasn't the type of thing you got from a long workout, his body wasn't sore in the least. But at the same time, he felt weak. If he sat down he doubted he could get up again, if he closed his eyes longer than to blink, he wouldn't be able to open them again.

He'd probably killed hundreds of people. The mental clarity that comes arm in arm with the power was the only thing propping him up from the guilt. The Custody VTOLs were supposedly only a few minutes out, but Nicholas didn't have the time to think about it. He had to stay focused. The tiredness was creeping in, sapping his concentration. It was all he could do to keep killing. Any attempts at smoke and mirrors had died a while ago.

A cluster of explosions, so close together that they almost sounded like the same one, were the result when he was just a little too late to destroy a nest of RPGs that popped up behind the wreckage of a plane. His eyes darted to the site of the explosion, and were greeted with the sight of several dismembered legionnaires. Most of them were still writhing on the ground. It was exactly the kind of thing he'd always planned to avoid seeing in person. Funny how that never seemed to work out.

Nicholas wished there were some way to heal them, but it seemed magic only worked to destroy or dominate. He was going to have a hell of a time selling it to the... it winked out of his grasp just as the first of several VTOLs came into view overhead. Without the power, it was like the floor dropped from under him. He blinked, and he was picking himself up off the floor. He only made it to his knees before the ground started looking very welcoming. He was sure the loud noise around him wouldn't be a bother once he closed his eyes.

Then Reed was right next to him. "What's wrong?" She asked, before turning to plant a few rounds in some unfortunate rebel. The simple act of talking to him brought him back to reality somewhat.

Nicholas's mind wasn't quite there, yet. "This really sucks."
He tried to push his way to his feet, but couldn't muster the strength. He looked up at Reed, very aware of how helpless he must have looked. "Help me up?"

She obliged, and with her help he was standing again - for the moment. Nicholas didn't trust his legs just yet. Reed grabbed him and forced him to look at her. "You're not answering my question. What. Is. Wrong? I've never seen you like this before."

"Ever run two marathons in a row?"
Nicholas could just barely keep his eyes open. He was surprised he could form coherent sentences. "It's like that, but worse."

"You're tired?"

"The award for understatement of the year goes to..."
Nicholas stumbled again, only keeping his footing by grabbing Reed's shoulder. He looked at her. "I've been doing this for hours, Reed."

"Granted, I can't quite say I know what it's like to be a wizard." At Nicholas's gesture, Reed started pulling him away. He couldn't think up there, with the bullets flying in every direction. "But if you're tired after a couple hours of billowing smoke and shit, we need to get your ass in the wizard gym, kid."

Nicholas was getting weaker with every step. If he didn't seize the power soon, he'd be out. Reed managed to get him down from the top of the command post, and was half-carrying him to a more covered area nearby. "I just need to - to think. I'll be fine once I get control again."

"I think you need a nap, kiddo." She hefted his weight on her shoulder, making it easier for her to help him along. She wasn't short, but he was still several inches taller than her. Her mocking tone changed to something that could almost pass for motherly concern. "This the first time you've gotten tired like this?"

He signaled for her to let him down. He needed to concentrate, and they were as well insulated from the fighting here as they would be anywhere. "It's like I can barely think."

Reed must have seen something, because she snapped back into battle mode. "We shouldn't stay here long." She was crouching nearby, keeping her eyes on the fight unfolding around them.

He didn't respond, and instead set to work finding the power. Clearing his mind was easy enough - he was so exhausted there wasn't much going on in there anyways. The light was dancing around the edges of his mind. It was like a hallucination on the periphery of his vision - look directly at it, and it disappears. He felt like he was back in that seedy apartment in Zamoskvoreche, or at his home after the interview with Nikolai Brandon. Almost there, but... nothing. Then he had it.

He drew more deeply than he had all night, and strength filled his limbs again. He clawed his way to his feet. He could think again. It was like being dunked in cold water. "Alright Reed, let's get back up there."
He took a deep breath, and sighed. "It's not over just because the VTOLs have landed."

Reed was right behind him. "Alright. I wonder if this wizard thing can kill you."[/color] He looked at her, and she shrugged. "Interesting thought."

They hadn't made their way far from the post - just to a small depression next to some empty crates. "One I don't want to consider right now."
He was about to turn back around and keep going, but what he noticed behind her made him force her to the ground with threads of air. Nearly two dozen rebels were charging towards them, and more were crawling out of the ground behind them.

Bullets started landing around him, cutting into several unsuspecting legionnaires facing the other direction. He felt a whole herd of mules kick him at the same time. Nicholas didn't have the time to dive for cover, so he threw everything he had into demolishing the men trying to kill him. A wave of fire swept out in front of him. The shooting from that area stopped abruptly, but he was already on his back.

Three hot coals were embedded in his flesh. He tried to lift his right arm but it wouldn't work. People always liked to say that in the heat of battle, you didn't even feel it when you got hit. They were lying bastards.
Trano's behavior kept Reed close. When his eyes fixed upon something she did her damndest to see whatever it was, when he stumbled, she hefted him back up, and most importantly, when he decided to trudge back into the thick of it, she did too.

Trano's final comment made Reed smirk. He seemed well-enough recovered, now. Though the edges of his expression were harder than earlier, she didn't think much more on it. Until that hardened gaze cracked, and a millisecond later, all hell broke loose.

A yell and Reed found herself face planting the ground. Asphalt kicked into the air beneath the sting of bullet spray, and instinct made Reed's limbs scramble for cover. A flame thrower sprayed flashes of heat way too close for comfort as she was calculating how many shots she had left in the pistol.

The nearest cover turned out to be behind an equipment crate, but she dove right into the side of Legionnaire who'd had the same idea.

They locked eyes onto one another and silently shared a simultaneous countdown. A second later, both jumped to their feet with a roar, weapons aimed... and found the unbelievable; both dropped their jaws.

A wall of burning bodies revealed just how far the enemy made it to the command center without being seen. Between the soaring flames she could see a few survivors running away, screaming and tearing away burning clothes. The rest were smoldering stumps.

She lowered the pistol. "Well hot damn,
" she smiled at the scene, but when Reed looked to the Legionnaire, that smile died faster than the Arabs. "Get help!"
she yelled while shoving the bigger man aside.

She landed at Trano's side and ran her hands over. Alive. Breathing. Eyes open. "Nicholas,"
she spoke breathily, gauging the damage. Thigh and arm were pot-marked red. His upper chest... that damned armor! she flicked at a strap woven through the wrong loop. She'd even been the one to correct him when he put it on, and now he was as useless as a boat with a hole in it.

He sensed she was there and choked out some words, "This really really sucks, Reed."

Always the comedian, he was definitely going to be alright. She smirked and leaned over him so her face would fill his view of the world. The hair around her brow was a hard line of sweat, her cheeks flush with adrenaline. "There's worse things than getting shot. Believe me."
Her eyes tightened, seemingly narrower than normal, but now was not the time to elaborate.

He tried to move, but Reed easily kept him still while her dangerous gaze swept the immediate area. There were no signs of the enemy. Help was quickly coming, though. Trano's voice pulled her attention back to him. "And here I thought I had plot armor. Last time I dress like a storm trooper."

Reed barked a laugh. "If only."

A flinch darkened his expression, one that Reed did her best to comfort. There were worse things than getting shot, but a bullet in bone didn't exactly feel great, either. But like all men facing mortality, he had to get one thing off his chest. "What's your name, Reed?"

The question took her by surprise. For a moment, they were not on an air strip, not surrounded by human barbecue, and not facing their own deaths. They were just two people, although the term barely applied to her; Reed had to think for a moment.

She could say, and if he died, no one would be the wiser, but if he did die on her watch, she'd be in a lot more trouble than telling him her birth name. It'd drive a wedge between them to refuse an answer; a trust she worked hard to earn. She had his allegiance the day in the limo when she told him about her status with the agency, if not also his affection. She remembered the way he looked at her that night in the safe house and the heated hours two nights ago that finally brought them together. He wanted to trust her because thats the kind of man he was, and Reed needed him on her side.

Dice rolled.

Her name slipped all too easily from between her teeth.

Edited by Julie Reed, Jun 10 2014, 06:57 PM.
The final tenuous lines that held the plan together fell apart like dominoes struck by some unseen hand. The convoy of civilians and high-profile prisoners lumbering out of the fog of war. A fog created by the CCD to protect their secret prison. The crates of ammo that were entirely useless to his men. Even to the CCD troops on the ground; they had no mortars, and what few heavy machine guns they did have were on the prison convoy, which would have no use for the ammo once their vehicles were abandoned for the evacuation.

Those would have to be destroyed...Jacques delegated to one of his few senior Caporal's to see to it that a group were ready for the task. Explosives were few and far between, but they had other means of destroyed armoured vehicles, especially when you had the luxury of crawling inside.

The sudden wash of weapons fire and flames barely distracted Jacques from his task, although some of his command staff flinched, reaching for weapons or ducking more fully behind their computers.

He glanced up long enough to understand what had happened; a band of insurgents had gotten close. Service tunnel, likely, one that he had missed in his initial site survey. Another flaw in his plan. More of his men that would not be joining their brothers in Sierra Leone. Every one last here was both one of his sons and one of the tools he would need to bring that torn country together again. Each Legionnaire lost were more Sierra Leoneans he would not be able to protect. They were an invaluable and all too exhaustible resource.

Trano's fall was noted, and he personally laid the way-point marker that sent one of the few Legion medics still left at the base-camp running their way. The man was far too important to let die. Especially considering that his...magic...had made their position tenable for so long. The more the plan had begun to fall apart, the more his attention was forced away from the fire-base, the more Trano's abilities had been what had kept the position safe.

Without the ammo for the mortars, his decision was clear. There was only one thing that could be done to keep the enemy off the VTOLs, to keep the road open long enough for the prison convoy to arrive. Had they not been loaded with civilians as well, he may well have left them behind and gotten his men out. But there were innocents crammed into those APCs, and soldiers just trying to do their jobs. He could not fault them for their commander's poor decision making skills.

"Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can't practice any other virtue consistently. I must ask of you the final sacrifice. We have been trapped by the Custody's love of secrets, and our adherence to what is right."
Orders were delivered to the fire-base team. Most of the forty remaining Legionnaires began packing up their .50s, others darted off to bring in another bus to bring them quickly to the front line.

The mortar crews collapsed their weapons, and men ran the mortar tubes into Jacques' jet. They were tagged out by CCD soldiers from the freshly arrived VTOLs, who replaced the Legionnaires with mixed reactions of confusion or stark realization.

Then they loaded onto the bus, and one of their men handed Jacques the chains of dozens of dog-tags. Their bodies would never be recovered, would never be buried in the company graveyard outside Casablanca. After gathering what little ammunition they had left, they were bound for where their brothers would be digging in.

"You must hold this line. Should the enemy advance further, the CCD crafts will be plucked from the sky and all of this will be for nothing. You must open a path, such that the stragglers can reach us, or all is for naught."
Jacques had to pause, and took a steadying breath as he surveyed the scene that was unfolding. The assault group had already barged onto the airport grounds, and were slowed to a crawl as their vehicles struggled through the breach and the partly filled ditch.

"Battle of Camarón. 62 Legionnaires held 2,000 Mexican soldiers at bay for 10 hours. I ask of you only one."
Dozens of way-point markers began to pop up on the screens of the command post. The men of the assault group were laying their cratering charges and plotting their fields of fire. He could see the movement of each of his men as blue triangles swarming across the flat field of the airport.

"You only live twice: Once when you're born, and once when you look death in the face. Know that the enemy, these cowards and fanatics and fools, are blinded by their hatred. Let them die not knowing their true mettle."

Tears were freely flowing as Jacques took a steadying breath. He had never been in such a position before. Not one where there was not a way out, where he hadn't a plan to see everyone to safety. He could only save a few. The wounded, those already too injured to fight with their brothers on that line.

The CCD convoy drew closer, the first detonations of the cratering charges could be heard in the distance. And then all hell broke loose. The view from the satellites was obscured by great clouds of smoke and dust, but flashes of light and surges of earth still showed through occasionally.

So he switched to the cameras of his men. And froze. That CCD officer, Vellas, stood near the front edge of the line of Legionnaires, staring into the buildings and highway that marked the line between airport and city proper.

He could not understand what was happening. His mind tried to equate it to artillery fire and rocket salvos. But that was not right, and so he swept those preconceptions aside, and really watched what was happening. And more importantly, what Vellas was doing. He had recordings already of Trano's posture and gestures during the American's efforts to defend the fire-base.

The face of warfare had changed. Drastically and terribly, and Jacques had no intention of being unprepared.

His distraction with Vellas' display was ended by necessity. He barked orders to his men, and some in the assault group snapped out of their stupor and finished the cratering charges as the bus with the men from the fire-base arrived. They dismounted, and ran to their positions. Michael was buying them time, and they would damn well make use of it.

Michael's magics seemed to have left him exhausted, and the man quit the field as the CCD convoy rolled through the Legion position; they hadn't the same view of the hell that Michael had unleashed, and had likely thought it was indeed friendly artillery. The human mind could do amazing things to trick itself, after all.

The APCs rolled through the Legion line, and even as the dust and fires of Michael's display faded, the enemy was on them once more, pressing hard on the Legion position.

The first of the evacuees arrived at the fire-base, the dump trucks and heavy equipment the Legionnaires had used to carry their charges. The students, the people of the hospital and mall. Victoria Weston and the Legion medics, whom would have no purpose on the line.

CCD soldiers ran forward to start seeing the evacuees to the VTOLs, or to help carry the wounded, and Jacques' command staff began to collapse their computers and screens and load them back onto his jet.

He glanced at the Vega at his shoulder, and waved the man away, "You are dismissed, Major. Do as you must."
Jacques' tone was hollow, distant. He was still watching the live feeds from his men. The enemy had insinuated themselves into buildings and onto rooves, where RPGs and Dragunov rifles were able to strike down on the dug in Legionnaires.

Jacques stepped away from the collapsing command post, and stood with his hands clasped tightly behind his back. From afar, he looked calm, imperial even. The spitting image of an officer supervising a task. What few of his men remained at the fire-base came and went as CCD troops ushered civilians and wounded towards the VTOLs. There were too few familiar faces in the crowd; some of his men were carried or dragged/limped to the waiting crafts.

The civilians were panicked, but the waiting crafts held their attention now, and they needed little guidance from the CCD soldiers to start boarding the crafts. The first were already lifting off as the CCD convoy arrived with Michael.

Forum Jump:

Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)