The Youngstown Campaign...Discussions by Rich
Major Sanchez's POV:
A full shareholders meeting wasn't possible with so many of the shareholders in the field. However, the officers who were present held a majority of the shares (technically the Colonel did that all by himself), and therefore could reach a binding decision. It was decided to bring in Captain Zhukov, along with Master Sergeant MacKenzie and a few others who were at the mall. Commander Rana, Subadar Sakai, and Major Sanchez were invited as interested parties. After a brief discussion, it was decided not to invite Mr. Bregman. They took a short break while waiting for the others to arrive.
Sanchez had read Hailey's notes on the situation, at least in so far as Hailey had understood it, and apparently the two Gurkha officers already knew the basics.
"As I understand it, Major, the Rangers were hired by the Davions to check out what was behind the appearance of a "rift" in their own space, and the question is whether or not the Davions would pay for their more aggressive activities since their arrival ?" asked the Subadar.
"That was my understanding as well," replied Sanchez. "evidently they've gone well beyond what the original contract specified. But from what the ambassador said, it doesn't sound like that's a problem anymore."
"No, it doesn't." said Commander Rana. "The ambassador said she came here in both
of her official capacities, and that they want to extend
the original contract. It'll be interesting to hear what she has in mind. And why, of course - they don't sound like they're the sort of people who spend their money out of pure altruism. They have something to gain or they wouldn't be doing this."
When everyone had arrived, they found that they needed more chairs. Once they got that sorted out, the Colonel called the meeting to order. He then introduced the ambassador, because some of the newer Rangers didn't know her by sight, and also to get it on the record, which evidently was kept ny Lieutenant Miles.
Then he spent a few minutes bringing the new arrivals up to speed, which caused considerable comment.
"You're a Slayer
, Ambassador ?", asked Sonya. She seemed disturbed at the prospect.
"Probably not like the ones you've met here, Sonya.", Seydlitz replied. "I'm a little old to be chopping up monsters with a sword. I'm looking forward to meeting the young women who do, however. But my doctors assure me that I am unusually
healthy for my age, and my vision and hearing have improved a bit. Also I've lost a few pounds, and regrown two teeth. So I guess there have been a few advantages."
in the inner sphere ? Are we really sure
about that ?", asked a young pilot who Sanchez didn't know. She noted that in some ways, the rules of procedure were a lot looser for "shareholder's" meetings than they were for "tactical" ones.
"Not any more, Sergeant," replied the ambassador,"at least, not that we know of. But they were definitely there at one time."
Commander Rana started to speak, and the Colonel said, "Non-shareholders will please identify themselves before addressing the meeting."
The Commander nodded and said "Right, sorry." At the colonel's nod, she said "Commander Rana, 9th Gurkha Rifles, Spec...Dragoon wing. Ambassador, you said there were no demons in your universe. But that may be about to change, right ?"
"Oh, you're very quick, Commander," replied the Ambassador "and you've also hit on the problem, and the reason I'm here. As I said, the Blakists don't admit that they even have a problem. But our sources tell us that there has been a great deal of seismic activity around the southern end of the Great Lakes, in an area where there shouldn't be any at all; and it's getting worse. Weather patterns in the area have also changed, rather drastically. We've confirmed those things through our own covert observations."
Sanchez raised her hand. When the Colonel nodded, she said "Major Sanchez, HSC. How reliable are these sources, Ambassador ?"
"Very," Seydlitz replied, "The Word of Blake are fanatics, and they don't treat their own people much better than they treat anyone else; there are several of us here who have good reason to know what that means." Sanchez heard someone say 'Got that
right !', and saw people nodding, including Sonya Zhukov. The Ambassador continued, "Believe me, there are many people on Old Terra who have no love for their government. This information comes from multiple sources."
Sanchez thought it was a little surreal to talk about "Terra" like it was a different world; but of course it was, even if it was also the planet they were all standing on.
"Then they do
have a problem, and it's a bad one," she said, "because unnatural seismic activity is one of the classic signs that a Hellmouth is getting ready to blow wide open. Have there been any others ?"
The Ambassador answered, "120 degree heat in March, birds falling from the sky, spontaneous human and animal combustion - including fish. We've also had a report of a hamster giving birth to a litter of scorpions; and it was a male hamster. That one has not
Several people laughed at that. Sanchez didn't. She said, "It's not conclusive proof, but I'd say that there's a good chance that what's happening in this universe could be happening in yours before too much longer."
Ambassador Seydlitz replied, "We agree, as a matter of fact. And we can't stop it from happening there, unless we're prepared to kill several billion people by totally destroying the planet, assuming that we even could."
"So, the only choice is to stop it at the source. We have to stop it here
Emmett Bregman's POV:Interview with Lieutenant Adams, 101st Air Assault Division:
The Lieutenant and his men were sitting or leaning against the wall of an industrial building, somewhere in south Youngstown. A week ago Bregman wouldn't have noticed, but there were only about two squads present - roughly half the number of men the Lieutenant had had when he first landed at the airfield.
Lieutenant Adams said, "The first day, at the airfield - that was pretty bad. If it wasn't for the Slayers, and the Rangers, I don't think any of us would have made it. Our platoon had more than twenty percent casualties just in the first two hours."
"After that we got a break for a day, while the Rangers moved down into the city. We did some reorganizng while they did that. Our company got a team of Jaffa, for extra fire support; and we really needed that. Our M4s were one step away from useless against the demons. But we got some extra grenade launchers and rocket launchers, and those work a little better. See, the problem is that a lot of these things aren't really alive to start with, so you can't really kill them with bullets. You've got to do a lot of damage just to stop them."
Bregmann looked around, and said "I notice that most of your men have their bayonets fixed, and that some of them have armed themselves with other weapons. Does that help ?"
"Some, yeah. Big bore shotguns with solid slugs will at least slow them down, and sometimes knock them down. Large caliber weapons of any type are better than small," he said, holding up his own Desert Eagle fifty caliber handgun. "Even with these, it still takes multiple hits to really stop these things; then you've got to finish them off with blades of some kind. That's why a lot of the guys are carrying axes or machetes. And of course, there's a supply problem, since these aren't regular issue weapons."
Bregman asked, "The Army can't supply the right ammunition ?"
"The Army doesn't have
the right ammo. Why would they ?" answered Lieutenant Adams. "It's not like anybody planned
to fight an enemy like this one. Everybody's just making things up on the fly."
"Can you tell us what happened after you got here?", Bregman inquired.
"Sure," replied the Lieutenant. "For the last couple of days, we've been doing 'clearing'; mostly that's trying to get the civilians out. Sometimes we'll do a 'search and destroy' operation. Either way, we usually take a back seat to the scout teams - that's the Slayers and their groups. The Gurkhas and Rangers have weapons that can kill demons, and the Slayers are
weapons that can kill demons. So the scout teams take point, and the Slayers take point for the teams. They can generally spot the things before they get spotted, then they try to get them out in the open, so the GEVs or mechs can get a clear shot. If that doesn't work, then the teams go in after them; destroying the building is strictly a 'last resort' kind of thing. It's a rough gig; a couple of them have been wounded doing it."
At the Field Hospital:
Tamiko tried to sit still while the medic bandaged her wound. Fortunately, Polgara skewers weren't venomous, and her Gurkha breastplate had deflected the strike, so she had a slashed arm rather than a skewered torso. It still hurt
, but she'd heal without too much trouble. The bite wound was potentially more dangerous in the long run, according to the medic.
Doreen could have given her some herbs to combat the pain and accelerate healing. But Doreen was with Captain Calvert at the front. The Captain had been very impressed with the circle of protection which Doreen had created during the "rescue" of Captain Zhukov, and wanted to see if the same technique might have an offensive application.
Tamiko didn't see how that could work, but if anyone could figure it out it would be Doreen.
Lieutenant Adam's Interview:
"They've been fighting smarter," said the Lieutenant. "The Slayers think that the demons who came through the Hellmouth are basically feral, and some of them seem to be kind of disoriented. But the local demons are another story."
"The Slayers say that a lot of those probably don't want to fight us at all, since they've adjusted to living in this world and they don't really want to change it. But there's some that do; they have this mythology about 'the Old Ones coming back', and maybe they think the story is coming true. Also, there's some demon politics involved."
"Excuse me," said Bregman, "But did you just say 'demon politics' ?"
"Yes sir," said the Lieutenant. "See, there's lots of different kinds of demons, and some of them hate each other just as much as they hate us. There's this whole pecking order thing going on - a lot of demons look down on vamps, for example, like they're 'not real demons', or something. Personally, I wish they were a little more
like the others; most of the others will just kill you, but a lot of the vamps like to play with their food. I won't go into details, but we've found some very nasty things in vamp nests; let's just leave it at that."
Bregman agreed. He'd seen some of what the Lieutenant referred to, and he didn't want to see it again.
Adams continued, "Anyway, the problem is that the locals are smart enough to know how we fight. The vamps especially, since they all have human memories and human intelligence. So they don't just charge like some of the 'foreign' demons do. We've had ambushes and snipers, and this morning some of them tried to take out a Puma with an IED. It didn't work, of course, but it's not a good sign."
At the Meeting:
Ambassador Seydlitz said, "Based on the reports you've sent thus far, we don't expect that you have the ability to actually close the Hellmouth. We certainly
don't. But from your reports, it appears that there are people on this world who do. Is that correct ?"
The Colonel signaled to Sanchez. She replied, "To be perfectly honest, we don't know for certain. But there are people who've done it before, and they're working on the problem. All the rest of us can do is try to control the situation until they succeed, and minimize the damage; and kill demons, of course."
"I'd hoped for a more optimistic answer; but I wasn't really expecting one." said the Ambassador.
The ambassador then proceeded to detail what her superiors intended, and what they were offering. Basically, they wanted to hire the Rangers to remain on Earth, and continue fighting, for the duration of the emergency; and at a significantly higher "per diem" than the original contract. This was apparently calculated through a complex formula which involved (among other things): the number, rank, and job description of personnel; the number and type of mechs; the potential for usable salvage; and the duration and severity of the campaign - and for all Sanchez could tell, the phases of the moon. They were also offering a substantial bonus, payable in advance, no questions asked. Finally, the ambassador had brought a considerable quantity of supplies; those would be turned over regardless of whether or not the Regiment accepted the deal.
Sanchez had no grounds for comparison, but judging from the reactions of the people around her these were apparently generous terms - almost suspiciously so. Of course, the idea of bargaining
over the price of stopping an apocalypse still struck her as a bit strange.
"No offense, Ambassador," said Captain Crook, "but that hardly sounds typical for the Federated Suns. Usually, they quibble over every credit."
"No offense taken, Captain." she answered, "House Davion regards this situation as a potential universe-ending event. If your efforts fail, then there may not be any credits to quibble over, or anyone to quibble with ...Not that I'm trying to pressure you or anything."
"Well, I for one certainly appreciate that." said Crook.
"I'm glad to hear it." replied Seydlitz; then she seemed to consider her next remarks. "Look, let's quit playing games. My superiors are very worried about whether or not you'll accept this offer, but they don't know you as well as I do. If you wanted to leave this place, you would have done it a week ago, and the reason you haven't is that you've already decided to stand and fight this thing out - right ?"
Sanchez looked around, and almost everyone in the room was grinning or nodding.
"Actually, Maria," said Fetterman, "we weren't planning on 'standing', exactly."
"No, of course you weren't." she replied, "You're planning on attacking, as usual, and as soon as you can manage it. Well, my bosses are willing to pay you to do something that we all know you're going to do anyway. Hell, you'd do it for fun !!
So just say 'thank you', take the damn money, and then go do what you always do; win the damn war !!"
Commander leaned closer and said in a low voice, "You know, I think I like this woman."