Jade Imperium - Afghanistan, Pt. 3

Admiral Duck Sauce 2019-06-11 01:40:46
"Let's sunball 'em all while they're in formation," FTE suggests. "Just putting that out there for consensus."
e of pi 2019-06-13 03:05:57
FTE's suggestion stirs Luis out of black musings--it was hard to put on a cover while the Imperium's Chinese allies admired their handiwork with the Rah'pah's they'd been given. "I wish it was that easy," he says. "Honestly, if we thought we could get all of them, I might even be for it, but it wouldn't get all their outlying detachments, any hardened outposts, or those damn guns, so whoever left here would just dig in harder and still be holding down a beachhead for whenever they decide to turn this from a cancer into an all out invasion."
punkey 2019-06-14 04:46:48
"What about getting out alive?" Ngawai asks.
"We have their OPORD," Garrett says. "If we want more info, there's...safer ways to get it than starting a fight with an entire base."
Hale just looks vaguely disquieted by the idea of sunballing a few hundred people.
e of pi 2019-06-17 03:21:37
"I wish there was more we could do than that," Luis says, "But I'm having trouble thinking of anything."
punkey 2019-06-21 20:28:13
"What would this accomplish?" Hale asks. "They'd just replace them in a few days. They aren't a threat to us. They aren't a threat to anyone right now. And we would have this slaughter on our hands for nothing." He shakes his head. "This is too close to what you say you are fighting against. I know. I say we play along and get out of here."
Arketta nods, while Ngawai just looks at him for a moment, saying nothing.
e of pi 2019-06-25 23:13:31
Luis sighs. "I know. I just wish there was...something clever we could do about it. Let's get in formation, get clear of here with the OPORD, and figure something out from there."
Admiral Duck Sauce 2019-06-27 19:21:48
Front Toward Enemy nods. This slow, unsteady approximation of consensus wasn't the same as a Sheen node arriving at a decision, but there were familiar undercurrents that salved its processes in a similar rush of machine endorphins. "Yeah, let's bounce."
punkey 2019-07-01 07:00:39
Nothing would blow your cover as Turai faster than sneaking around during mandatory formations - it’s kinda hard to blend in when you’re the only ones running around. The team hustles over to the formation and is quickly waved into an open spot off to the left side, blessedly close to the Gateway but still right up front. Ngawai, Arketta and Hale take the front trin, being the ones that actually know a thing or two about Turai military bearing.

As they take positions, a vox channel opens to them and presumably everyone else around them - one Rav-Turai Harsani, standing roughly in the middle of the formation. “Get that last row closed up,” he says. Arketta, Hale and Ngawai space off each other, then snap to attention. “Outstanding,” Harsani continues. “There’s that First I like to see. At ease!” The whole formation shifts just a little bit to the left as the turai widen their stance and lock their arms behind them.

“I know you’ve all been waiting on word,” Harsani says. “We’re a fighting unit, like I keep telling the Rav-Odun. There’s only so much playing house we can do until we get a little restless.” A strategic pause. “But restless don’t mean sloppy. We can’t afford sloppy out here. Make no mistake, Turai, this is a combat operation, not a vacation. If you’re after a snowball fight, book your leave accordingly.” A bit of laughter ripples through the formation. “I look around and I see a lot of hard work getting done. The Rav-Odun sees it, too. The entire Imperium sees it. You can be proud of what we’ve achieved here. To be standing on the soil of the homeworld and be the Turai that led the effort to carve that last pillar is an honor that only we few will know. I’m no ravillar so I’m going to get to the point: right now, I need you all focused on the job. There’s more hard work ahead of us. The Emperor doesn’t send his best Turai on easy missions. Everything we do right here - every single job - is one step closer to a protected homeworld, to safety for the Narsai’i, to eternal glory for our banner. I know you’ll do the First proud.”

Harsani steps forward towards the formation. “I know that a lot of you are…unsettled by what the Narsai’i we’re working with have done. None of us like pacifications, but we recognize the threat that disorder and unrest poses to the Imperium - but what the Narsai’i have done goes beyond that.” He starts walking towards the team, eyes scanning the formation as he does so. “And I’m with you. The holos that the survey team here has gathered of that downed transport made me sick to my stomach.”

Rav-Turai Harsani, The Hand that Shields the First, stops in front of Arketta and Hale. “Turai, what did you see?” he asks them.
“Slaughter, Rav-Turai,” Arketta replies.
“They had no warning, Rav-Turai,” Hale says. “The Narsai’i didn’t even give them a chance to comply.”
Harsani nods. “And that’s what makes us the good ones, Turai.” He turns back and walks to the front of the formation. “That’s what separates a pacification, as horrible as it may be, from a slaughter. We are here to save the Narsai’i from themselves, Turai. It will be hard, and we will have to work with the monsters that the Narsai’i can be. But we must prevail. For the good of the Narsai’i, and of the galaxy. Understood?”
Yes, Rav-Turai!” the formation calls back.
Rav-Turai Harsani nods. “Good. Keep that thought with you, it will carry you all through this.” Harsani returns to his position at the head of the formation. “Turai, atten-tion!” The formation closes back up as the Turai snap upright. “Dismissed.”

“Let’s get the fuck out of here,” Hale grunts. You don’t need to see his face to sense his disgust, his voice carries it over the vox just fine.
Admiral Duck Sauce 2019-07-08 19:30:07
Front Toward Enemy moves to leave with its quad. It thought Harsani's speech was ironic, how the man attempted to separate the Imperials from the Chinese when it was the Imperium's exploitation and so-called alliance that led to the attack in the first place.

This was just the Internet writ large, and writ real. Antagonism without consequences. The railguns protected the Chinese from retaliation, else they never would've had the balls to pull the trigger.

"Yeah," FTE agrees with Hale. "Don't feed the trolls."
punkey 2019-07-22 18:05:15
And after all that, the Turai help you carry your samples back through the Gateway. Rav-Samal Botha has a team ready to scan and clear your collection packages for contamination - biological or radiological - and it’s only a matter of a few minutes before you’re cleared and have a quad loading the survey crates onto your borrowed Manta.

“How was it over there?” Botha asks. The stony look from the team communicates perfectly well through everyone’s helms. “Right.”

Once the Manta is up and clear of the Akwhela’s Eye and thrusting towards the first orbital Gateway of the day, Hale drops into the seat across from Garrett and Ngawai and pops his helm open. He tries to start talking a couple times, opening and then closing his mouth while Garrett and Ngawai open their helms as well. Finally, he looks up at Garrett and narrows his eyes at him. “You are the most annoying person I have ever met,” Hale says.
Garrett breaks into laughter, and Ngawai simply raises an eyebrow at him. “Strong start,” she says.
“I cannot stop thinking about what you said on Whiirr,” Hale says. “I have tried and tried, I wanted to find out that you just dressed up what you did to sound better than what we do, that it’s what everyone does, that what we did was necessary.” He sighs and shakes his head. “But I can’t. In fact, it’s getting worse, and I hate that. I heard Rav-Turai Harsani’s speech, a speech I’ve given, and it just…it didn’t sound like our duty anymore. It didn’t sound like what we had to do to keep order, to keep peace. It sounded like a murderer.”

Arketta gets up from Luis’ side at this point and winds her way through the Manta to sit next to Hale and listen as he continued. “And I just kept getting angrier, and angrier, not just at him but at myself for saying the same things to my Turai. And…” He sighed again. “That’s your fucking fault, Smiling Beast, and I fucking hate you for it.”
Garrett nods. “I think that’s fair.”
Arketta puts an arm around Hale’s shoulder. “I went through the same thing. I don’t think all of our banner siblings will hate Garrett in particular, but...I know what you’re feeling. It’s a good thing.”
“Yeah, it is,” Hale says. “It is, and I intend to do something about it. I need to...they have to see. They have to see what they’re doing is wrong. I want in. For good.”
“Into the alliance, or the 815?” Garrett asks.
“The 815,” Hale says. “The Bashakra’i are doing the fighting, but you’re the ones showing the Turai how wrong we are. I want in.”
Garrett nods. “Well, you’re going to be having everyone’s back, so that’ll have to be unanimous. We’ll get everyone else once we gate to Atea, but how’s it sound to everyone in here?”
Admiral Duck Sauce 2019-07-23 14:34:21
"You weren't already?" Front Towards Enemy asks Hale. "From here it looks like you are stating what we've already known."
e of pi 2019-07-26 22:33:13
Luis nods, "I'm with the Sheen--I sort of forgot you weren't officially already. Welcome, officially."
CrazyIvan 2019-07-30 06:31:29
Angel is a little less sanguine about the whole thing. "They're not a threat to us because they choose not to be. Five minutes from now, if the right orders come down, they are. With respect, you don't get to hand your deranged friend a gun, egg him on, and then act like you're not a threat because you happen to not have anything in your hands."

He gives Hale a shrug.

"I'm not saying putting down every fucking one of them is a tactically sound plan, but it's not unjustified. Especially not when they're running around with 'It's for their own good' rolling around in their heads. It's for their own good is how civilians start getting massacred. Again."
punkey 2019-07-31 23:29:36
"You wouldn't just walk up and shoot them, either," Hale replies.
CrazyIvan 2019-08-01 19:20:34
"You clearly didn't grow up in my neighborhood."

Angel shrugs. "But you're right. I wouldn't. Not my style."
punkey 2019-08-21 20:11:32
"But there will be times when we pop spearbombs and light them up without them taking the first shot," Garrett says, leveling a look at Hale. "You have to be ready for that."
"We're not in this to make friends," Ngawai adds. "This is war."
Hale doesn't quite have the same fire as he replies, but he does meet Garrett's eyes. "...yes," he says. "I understand that, I'm not a child."
"It's still hard," Arketta says. "But I think we could use a voice like yours."
Garrett nods, Ngawai just crosses her arms.
punkey 2019-08-21 20:17:49
36 Hours Previously, Afghanistan, Joint Forward Operations Base


”Chief!” one of the perimeter guards shouts as Hug’sh goes over the latest updates on a miniature projection of the battle map. Hunched over on a folding stool outside the Joint Security Area’s erstwhile command center, Hug’sh has kept one eye on the movements around him and one eye on the strategic situation for the last half hour. It is easier to stare at the holo than come up with a coherent answer to the evisceration of Russia’s nuclear strike. He would have been inside, but it’s currently being gutted down to the spraycrete walls by Turai and Wherren warriors who are packing every important and sensitive item into skimmers to be hauled over to Kabul and from there to the village and Atea.

Well, no, that’s not quite right. A coherent answer is easy: fuck. The tricky part is developing a useful answer.

”What is it?” Hug’sh replies, a new wave of orange washing over his fur as he watches the newsfeed summary out of the corner of his eye.
”Chief Cooper is at the gate and wants to see you,” the guard says.
Hug’sh nods to that, then catches himself nodding. ”Send him through to me, please,” he says, then dismisses the holo and reaches into his satchel to break out the good old notebook and pen again.
Cooper stomps up to the table, the sun glaring into Hug’sh’s eyes. “’I didn’t take you for someone to abandon your allies,’” he glowers.
Hug’sh sighs and indicates for Cooper to have a seat. He takes the notebook and starts writing, carefully and deliberately. We are not abandoning Narsai. But we need to react to what has happened. This is no longer the mission we set out to do here. Our presence in this desert is no longer useful. He meets Cooper’s eyes for a moment. We are sorry for the lives lost today. As he writes it, a ripple of purple cascades down his chest.
’And we need your support to not lose any more,’” Cooper replies.
Hug’sh nods. You have seen what the Imperial weapons are capable of. We are powerless to breach their line and blind to what they have hidden behind it. He pauses for a moment. Should he tell Cooper? As we speak, the alliance is assembling forces to occupy Narsai’s orbit over China. Their weapons cannot reach us up there, but we can keep them from launching their own craft. If they gain a foothold there Hug’sh’s writing stops abruptly. He just taps his pen on the notepad. The implication is clear.
’And if they decide to take the initiative and push out against our position?’” Cooper counters. “’You’re taking away half our unit strength.’
What would you do in my place? Hug’sh writes. This terrain is ill-suited to a defensive line. It holds little strategic value. We cannot begin to guess the enemy’s strength. He sighs. And none of us believes that they will venture out and fight you here. They had their field test of the Imperial weapons. They are safe from counterattack in their current borders. Again, Hug’sh hesitates before continuing. What do you think will happen next?
’I don’t know, that’s why we need you here,’” Cooper replies, obviously more scared than angry.
Hug’sh stares at Cooper. Are your forces staying here, then?
’No, we are withdrawing further in country just in case they use indirect fire,’” Cooper says.
Hug’sh harrumphs. Rah’pah weapons are direct fire only. You speak of China’s ballistic missiles? Do you think they would use them? After a moment’s thought, he adds If you are going, why should we stay here?
Cooper doesn’t have a good answer to that one right away. He looks at Hug’sh as the wherren can see the gears turning in Cooper’s head.
Hug’sh meets Cooper’s eyes. After a moment, he taps his finger on the Why should we stay here? part of the note.
Cooper opens his mouth, closes it, then tries again. “’Because we need you to cover our backs while we get ready to leave,’” he finally spits out. “’You’ve got half your gear in the air back to Kabul already. We can’t move that fast. If you leave now, that cuts our strength in half.’
Hug’sh nods. We are not leaving now. We are moving heavy equipment and making ready to withdraw the rest of our garrison as soon as it is tactically feasible. That includes making sure we don’t leave you hanging. I assume that is the same thing your people are doing. Another pause. If you need help relocating, ask.

Cooper nods - the answer is reassuring, yet Cooper very definitely does not look reassured. “’Yes, of course, that...that makes sense. Thank you, General.’
Hug’sh looks Cooper over. The man clearly needs a hug and some grooming, but Hug’sh resists the impulse. Instead, he takes a breath and flips the notebook to a new page. You came here to talk to me. So talk to me. I will listen. Your worry is clearly bigger than this base.
Cooper looks around. “’They just shot twenty ICBMs out of the goddamn sky, that’s what worries me,’” Cooper says. “’If they can do that, how the fuck are we going to take the fight to them?’
“You don’t,” Iro mentions from his holo at the other end of the table.
Hug’sh nods. If we had a clever answer to this situation we would have come to you already. Right now our focus is on protecting our people and finding ways to keep the enemy from pressing their advantage. But there is nothing we can do to defeat them right now. Just as there is nothing we can do right now to bring a thousand worlds to their knees or return the soldiers you lost on Botane or free the millions of my people who live in bondage throughout the Imperium. He looks up to Iro. ”Or save Bashakra from the fires.” He turns back to Cooper. I know this pain, Cooper. I know the anger and I know the fear. They will not go away. But we must keep going. We must seek the fights we can win. And we must do it together. If I have been subtle in expressing this, then I apologize.
’Horseshit,’” Cooper says. “’As long as they’re here, they’re a threat - we have to work together to figure out how to take the fight to them, seize the initiative and -’

Iro’s translator must have caught up enough to get to “take the fight to them”, because it’s now that he interrupts. “Vidas fucking Lam, when will you Narsai’i figure it out? You are not the powerful ones anymore. We Bashakra’i survive by hiding and striking from the shadows. The 815 succeed only because they find the few weak points the Imperium have and strike at them before the Imperium can respond. You cannot take your flying craft and your big vehicles and do whatever you please anymore. The Imperium are stronger than all of us. The best we can hope for in direct confrontation is a draw.” He sits back down. “For First’s sake, listen. Before you get yourselves killed.”
Cooper waits for Iro’s outburst to be translated - he turns redder and redder, but doesn’t interrupt. “’Well, that’s a pretty goddamn defeatist attitude if I’ve ever heard one. They let you lead men into battle?’
“It is the perspective of someone who knows when they’ve been beaten, because they’ve experienced it before,” Iro replies. “As far as I can tell, you Narsai’i don’t know what that’s like.”
That, Cooper doesn’t have a response to.
We will be beaten back, Hug’sh writes. We will lose people, we will watch helplessly. We will be lost. And we will bleed and suffer more than we ever imagined we could. Many of us will die. Maybe all of us. But we will not be defeated. His fur flashes red. Replace your pride with true determination. Replace glory with doing what is necessary. Until you do, you will only play at war. And I tire of explaining this to your people. If after all of this you still do not understand, then maybe your leaders should let our ultimatum go unanswered. We have enough problems of our own without the Narsai’i and their self-enforced blindness.
’What they said,’” Gunny says, making Cooper yelp and jump half a foot back. Its shell had been next to Cooper the whole time, but he just hadn’t noticed. “’Shit sucks when you’re not on top of the heap, General. As the great thespian Clint Eastwood once said, a man’s got to know his limitations.’

Iro sighs. “They haven’t pushed out yet because they’re waiting for orbital superiority. That means they don’t have an orbital up yet, which means we have time to contain them. We are working on that now. If we get Interceptors in orbit before the Imperium does, then we are at a draw. There are too many Narsai’i Turai for the Imperium to fight, and they cannot take Narsai without orbit. Their perimeter is too strong for us to breach directly, and too many hostile Narsai’i inside it for a small strike force to win. It is not ideal, but it is our best shot.” He looks over to Cooper. “Does that make sense, Rav-Odun?”
Cooper nods at the translation, slowly. “’Yes. I suppose it does.’
Hug’sh clears his throat. The red in his fur is slowly fading. Then let us get to work. Time is not on our side.