Jade Imperium - Afghanistan, Pt. 3

punkey 2019-08-21 20:18:21
When even your most basic transports can fly, evacuations can go much quicker than expected. Within an hour of Iro’s order to fall back to Kabul, all the Bashakra’i Turai gear is locked up and secured for transport and in the process of being carried to the skimmer pad while the Narsai’i are still wrapping cables and sorting out hard cases. The Sheen, being Sheen, simply load their shells into crates and jump into the servers, which then walk themselves over to the pad and patiently wait their turn while the guards sit on the walls and roofs of the habs, dendritic solar collectors soaking up the last of the afternoon sun. Sundown brings the first wave of skimmers and helicopters - personnel and equipment for the off-worlders, but the Narsai’i actually bring in more people to help prepare for their convoy - still six hours out. It’s going to be a long night.

And watching over it all, the Wherren. The only good thing about having borrowed, shared and scrounged for their part of the operation is that their logistics tail is, well, what everyone carried into the mission and whatever they’re now carrying out of it. There’s not much packing to do and what there was to do has long been loaded onto the Bashakra’i skimmers. So the Wherren watch. Their patrols showed the flag at the Joint Security Area, but now that that is all but gone, they’re ranging further out again, covering the whole base perimeter. It’s not just that they’re doing everyone else a favor. No, this is Hug’sh’s design. Wherren feet hit the dirt together with the rest of the Alliance here and damn it, they’re going to hold the position until the last flight out of here.

“Hug’sh?” Iro asks, ripping the Wherren general from his very important task of staring towards the distant Chinese border. “I have confirmation from the village. Interceptors on full burn to orbit. Another ten minutes and we’ll have orbital supremacy.”
”Good,” Hug’sh comments. As a Wherren, that should be all that concerns him: an ally helping another ally, with a maneuver that neither affects nor involves his own troops. And yet… ”Thank you,” Hug’sh adds. ”I say it because I am not altogether certain you will hear it from the Narsai’i.”
“Probably because they’re not under our command,” Iro says. “Hunter Brand and Samantha Barnes apparently demanded they be under GRHDI control if they’re operating in Narsai’i space.”
Hug’sh smirks. ”They had no leverage whatsoever to force the issue,” he says. ”And you agreed?”
“It is Narsai’i territory, and they are Narsai’i leadership,” Iro responds. “That’s Brinai’s position, and I agree.”
”It is the kind of courtesy one would extend to a planet’s steward,” Hug’sh agrees. ”Of course there will be voices saying you acceding to the demand so quickly is just further proof that we arranged for all this in order to advance our own agenda.” Orange spreads over his fur. ”But I suppose that is how it is going to be. Any communications from Narsai’s other leaders in advance of our ultimatum?”
“It seems they are too busy worrying about the Imperium appearing on their doorstep,” Iro says. “What will be the Wherren response to all of this? I’m just a lowly Rav-Odun, I don’t speak for the Bashakra’i, but you…”
”The only power we have is words,” Hug’sh says. ”Our government will demand that the Narsai’i immediately vacate China’s seat in the United Nations, freeze all their offshore holdings, seize all civilian traffic outside weapons range and treat any Chinese warship they can hit as a valid target for first strikes. We cannot allow the Imperium to leverage Narsai’s divisions against us...or let anybody else think that they stand to profit from cutting a deal with them.” Hug’sh huffs. ”Not that I expect that our demands will be followed anywhere near this strenuously, but there is something to be said about being the first voice in a conversation.”
“After an appropriate delay to look into what Narsai’i powers and politics are for this, of course,” Iro says.
Hug’sh grumbles. ”At some point we will need to make a show of requesting briefings from a variety of Narsai’i experts,” he says. ”I grow tired of pretending to be ignorant of their many, many problems.”

Iro’s vox pings on his ear, and his hand waggles for a moment. “That was Bello - Paul, Onas, Swims-the-Black and Garrett and Ngawai’s daughter are safely at the village beyond the reach of Narsai’i, and the last wave of equipment just dropped off. We’re going to start getting our people out. We have a couple quads volunteering to stay behind and pull security while we wait for the Narsai’i convoy.”
”It’ll be good to have company,” Hug’sh says. ”But just so you know, we intend to be the last ones out here with the Narsai’i.”
“You’ll have to share space with me and my quads,” Iro says.
“Fuck you guys, we can fly back,” Gunny says from the table, having downsized to a cat-sized shell. “We’re last out.”
Hug’sh looks down at the small shell and smirks. ”How about I arm-wrestle you for it?” he asks.
punkey 2019-08-21 20:18:41
Hug’sh’s hand hovers over his brow as he tries to watch the final departure of Narsai’i troops. It’s a most unpleasant event to experience, and not just for the sense of finality it imparts on the whole mission; there’s also the dust kicked up by the UH-60 idling on what passes for a helipad, the harsh glare of chemical flares for ground illumination and the high-pitched turbine whine at frequencies that had, mercifully, been long extinguished in Hugh Verrill’s ears. Finally the whirlybird’s engines spool up and the rotor bites into the air, dragging the heavy chassis upwards with it. Hug’sh supposes that its inhabitants are far too preoccupied with other thoughts to properly appreciate the miracle of flight, but from the ground, it seems pretty clear that helicopters were a mistake. Still, Hug’sh watches it rise and then tip forward ever so, setting it on its journey back to Kabul.

“Fitting that we are the last ones out of here,” Iro comments, watching it go through the artificial illumination of his helm.
”Yes,” Hug’sh says.

He turns away from the helicopter and towards the remaining Bashakra’i loading up the skimmers. Between palleted equipment, small Sheen shells - the last left at the FOB - climb over cargo and fold themselves into any nook and cranny that will have them. Away from them, the remaining Wherren troops are sat in a circle around their gear, hands still on their weapons. It’s tactically unsound but Hug’sh feels disinclined to speak up against hunting tradition. What matters is that his warriors all trust each other enough to have their backs turned to each other.

Then their skimmer powers up. How much more graceful it looks in comparison, its impellers offering a soft thrum as it rolls a bit this way, rotates in place to face its rear loading ramp towards the waiting warriors and then sets down gently. Hug’sh gives the sign and his warriors get to their feet, slinging their packs over their humps and filing into the craft. By all rights, he should be angling to be first in there, even if that won’t get him back to Kabul and therefore back to the village and therefore back to Whirr any faster...but dragging his feet isn’t helping either. Still, he gazes out into the desert. The usual second-guessing. What did we do right, what did we do wrong...and where does it leave us. Somewhere beyond sight, there sits the enemy, safe behind their border. But somewhere behind this border there are his friends, too, hopefully figuring out what can be done to counter this latest move. There’ll be politics. Oh ancestors, there will be politics, and a lot of trying to explain things in ways the Narsai’i will understand.

Hug’sh thinks of Rhea’s warm embrace. Her musk in his nostrils as they lie together, her hand on his hump. Torega fast asleep on his chest. What did he do to deserve them? What did he do to deserve not being with them right now?

He sighs, ignoring the dust being blown against his fur the wind. Rodirr taps him on the shoulder.

”We are ready to leave, Chief,” Rodirr says.
”Yes,” Hug’sh says. ”Yes, we are. Let’s go.”

Rodirr gives him a smile and a bit of green and another reassuring clap on the shoulder and bit of grooming, then he leads the way, every bit the second-in-command you could ask for, and Hug’sh slinks behind him, a bit tired, a bit defeated and a bit wiser, too. Hug’sh climbs on and the skimmer lifts off the ground, already gliding forward as Hug’sh finds his seat. He doesn’t look back, though, preparing to look at his warriors and grant them a smile. They smile back for him, despite all.

Behind them, what’s left of the FOB’s joint security area goes up into smoke and fire as the scuttling charges destroy the habs and break the barriers. A final footnote, and nothing beside remains.

Deserve’s got nothing to do with it.
punkey 2019-08-21 20:19:19
It takes a special kind of madman to consider an eight-hour ride in the back of a skimmer to be the most expedient transportation, but as the ancestors are his witness, Hug’sh is that madman. He did ask for the absolutely quickest way to do it, after all, and this way there’s no formalities in Kabul, no unloading and loading, no...absolutely no Narsai’i to deal with. Besides, it’s not like the seats in a C-5 are any better for Wherren. Huddled together is just fine for them, and with Rodirr beside him, Hug’sh lets the exhaustion of the last few days wash over him and lull him into an easy half-sleep.

He’s never seen the Bashrakra’i village this busy. It’s good to be there - passed through US airspace, now there really are no more Narsai’i in his path - but with the tiny village having to accommodate masses of returning Bashakra’i warriors, Sheen hardware and well-intentioned but just a bit too big and bulky Wherren, it’s a tight squeeze down at the gateport. Everyone’s got different places to go, the schedulers are losing their hair by the minute and you can’t have this many different warriors all pushing through the same space without some friction, so the Kansatai are getting their workout, too. Hug’sh just keeps his head down and sticks with Rodirr, who reveals his talent at parting crowds with the simplest of gestures. As they pass first past a group of Bashakra’i warriors and then a claw’s worth of Wherren, Hug’sh takes the quiet nods and shoulder claps in the way they are intended. Well-fought, they say. Gallant, a Narsai’i might describe it.

All Hug’sh wants is to be home. On the flight he had Rodirr to literally lean on, his warmth and his musk comforting his every breath. But here it’s loud and cramped and too cool by half. Before he can get into any well-intentioned argument along the line of “I’m not going home before my warriors”, Rodirr drags him along to the front of the line of the Wherren detachment, his colors making it obvious that he’s not going to hear any arguments against it. For their part, the warriors bow their heads and step aside, letting the two of them take their spot up front. Rank hath its privileges.

“Whirr outgoing in zero minus thirty seconds,” an automated voice echoes from every loudspeaker in the gateport hall at once. “All Whirr travelers stand by for departure and await clearance to approach the gateway.”
”Almost there, Chief,” Rodirr says.

Hug’sh feels a shiver run down his back. The damn climate in here. He turns his head to look at the ‘cargo’ line, where heavy equipment has been loaded onto sleds and the loadmasters are doing a final walkaround to make sure everything’s lashed in place. You don’t wanna be the guy who holds up a gateway transfer because your cargo tipped off the sled in the hot zone. As his eyes scan past the equipment crates, he stops at a few rather incongruous forms wrapped in fabric. It takes him a moment to realize - to consciously see - that he’s looking at the fallen, wrapped in field-expedient shrouds, to be delivered to their families for a proper burial. Every one of them puts a separate knot into his gut.

“Whirr outgoing in zero minus ten seconds,” the automated voice cautions. “Nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two -”
Hug’sh squeezes Rodirr’s hand.
“Mark,” the automated voice says, and just like that, physics takes another battering. The gateway initializes and flashes open to the Whirr gateport. “Whirr gateway established. Whirr travelers, you are cleared to transit through the gateway.”
”Let’s go,” Hug’sh says.
punkey 2019-08-21 20:19:46
On the other side of the gateway, the midday heat and humidity hits Hug’sh like an extremely welcome slap to the face. Within seconds, it feels like he’s got to sneeze and spit and also there must be several tons of loose sand in his fur. Rodirr helps him push forward, clearing the gateway for everyone behind them, which is, well, the better part of everyone. The other part of everyone is already here, though. Even the sunsails and security guards and little kitchens added to the gateport proper during Hug’sh’s absence pale in size to the much larger encampment around the gateport. Demobbed warriors, support staff and families have set up shop here, awaiting the moment when they’ll be told it’s all right for them to go home with their loved ones. A happy day, then, for most of them.

”Where are they?” Hug’sh asks, blue creeping through his fur. ”I messaged ahead, I told them to wait here -”
”There’s kind of a lot of ‘here’ here, Chief,” Rodirr says. ”Let’s go towards the village.”
”...yes,” Hug’sh agrees.
But it's just the sweaty crowd and bulk equipment masking their scent, as no sooner does Hug'sh clear the dome's arch that he hears Rhea bark, "Hug'sh!"
Hug’sh’s eyes snap to the source of the sound, the call of his mate cutting through the noise, and then he seems them: Rhea, still panting a bit from the effort of rushing to the gateport when she got Hug’sh’s message, and Torega clinging tightly to her chest, looking oh so much bigger than Hug’sh can remember. ”Rhea!” Hug’sh barks back. It’s the last thing he manages to get out before he lets go of Rodirr and starts running, pushing past the crowds and weaving down the most direct path to his mate. When they meet, their riotous colors merge into a tight embrace. As they hug, Torega climbs over to Hug’sh and digs her little claws into him, squeezing herself against him so close that he can feel her sobs more than he can hear them. He bends his head towards her and grooms her softly.
”Hello, bondmate,” is about all Rhea can get out between grooming Hug’sh.
Hug’sh can’t even manage that much. He just holds onto his family as tight as he can for a minute before a heaving sigh forces its way out. ”Hello,” he chokes out. ”I’m back.”
”We heard the news,” Rhea says. ”Are the others…”
”The warriors are right behind us,” Hug’sh says. ”815 is...still out.” He takes a deep breath. ”Let’s go home.”

”Chief,” Rodirr barks, finally catching up with Hug’sh. ”Excuse me, Chief, but we need to start organizing the post-deployment checks and inspections.”
Walk away. No, walk away. No, think!...walk away. No! Hug’sh just manages to let go of Rhea and then around to look at Rodirr, cradling Torega to his chest. ”You speak with my voice in this, Rodirr,” Hug’sh says, not quite looking at his second in command. Rhea gently elbows him; Hug’sh looks at her.
”What the chief means is that he will be there in a few minutes,” Rhea says, finally wiping her eyes before giving Hug’sh one more lick. ”I can be with you today. I made sure.”
”Yes,” Hug’sh says. ”Go ahead and...and get accountability from all sections. We need to know who’s here before we continue.”
”Yes, Chief,” Rodirr nods and wanders away.
”Don’t think I’m going to let you get away with using our cubs to avoid your duties,” Rhea purrs with a smile.
”Sometimes I wonder if I run this army or if this army runs me,” Hug’sh muses quietly. He grooms Torega again. ”It’s so good to be back with you.”
”I missed you,” Torega whines. She climbs up onto Hug’sh’s shoulders, where she’s just barely light enough to balance on his shoulder but not quite big enough to straddle his neck while sitting on his hump, and leans against Hug’sh’s head.
Hug’sh reaches up to stroke her back, getting a little purr from her. ”I missed you, too,” he says. ”Let’s go help Uncle Rodirr now.” He looks to Rhea. ”And maybe get something to eat.”
Rhea smiles and reaches her arm across to Hug’sh’s other side and pulls him against her. ”Food sounds nice.”
punkey 2019-08-21 20:32:25
20 Hours Later, Atea, Turai Docks


The flight back wasn't any more exciting than the flight out - holos and naps and what little stretches and exercises could be done in a loaded Manta filled the time - but the atmosphere was definitely more somber. Not only was the threat here, on Narsai, but the cost in lives was very definitely made manifest by the excursion. The lack of knowledge of the outside galaxy that comms silence brings also breeds a degree of nervousness about what else is going on while you're running dark.

The Manta docks with Atea without much fanfare, and just a few people are on the other side to meet you - Brinai, naturally, but also Onas, Paul, Hug'sh, and most surprisingly, Samantha Barnes, with her assistant Katelin Brand in her Marine field uniform by her side.

"I see you are not dead," Brinai says, her face all business. "Disappointingly, the Imperials on Narsai are still alive as well. We need to make plans to change that."
"And I am not so sure," Onas says.
Barnes doesn't reply, but her frosty body language says that she's not liking any of what's going on. "What intelligence were you able to gather on the ground? What few sources inside the barriers we have are limited in their ability to send messages - if they're not already captured."
punkey 2019-08-22 05:35:52
Hug'sh waits for the cool/calm/collected professionals to say their piece, but then he can't hold it back any longer. Pushing past the Bashakra'i leadership, Hug'sh quickly gathers as much of 815 as his arms can span into a big hug. Garrett even gets a little tongue to the side of his face.

"You made it!" Hug'sh says. "Welcome back!"
"Hey there," Garrett says. Even Ngawai and Zaef can't help but relax a little. Hale's the only one who managed to be outside the hug.
"I brought spink for the hungry and extra pillows for the tired," Hug'sh comments, then looks to FTE. "And...um...is there a good kind of power? I'll make it happen."
"Maybe after the debrief," Arketta says with a smile, before any one of a couple other teammates says something else less gently.

"Oh, yes, yes, of course," Hug'sh says, releasing the embrace. "There's a lot going on. Let's not delay." He thinks for a moment. "I'll grab the pillows, though. You would not believe how uncomfortable these chairs are. No offense, Brinai."
"None taken," Brinai grunts as best as her voice can, and waits for Hug'sh to hustle back down the corridor towards...wherever his stash of items was left.

Brinai shakes her head. "The changes from when he was human were surprising enough, but now I barely recognize him."
"Fine by me," both Onas and Paul say simultaneously.
Brinai turns back to the away team. "So, what happened?"
e of pi 2019-08-23 03:55:06
Luis shrugs. "The backgrounds passed, we made it in and out clean, and Garrett and FTE managed to snag their operational orders. The whole First is there, with gear and space to spare, and a secure Gateway home, but for the moment they seem content to hold their positions. The Turai are feeling upset and righteous because the people they gave Rah'pahs to used them on civilian targets without it being a properly authorized pacification, which just proves how much the Narsa'i need to be brought to heel."

"I wish we saw an easy way to knock them out, but from what we saw they were pretty well dug in for the long haul."
punkey 2019-08-24 17:27:15
Brinai scoffs. "How terrible that the people we selected because they will be thuggish murders used the accelerators we gave them."
"You've seen this strategy before?" Barnes asks.
"Early on, after we fled Bashakra and were still scattered and fighting with each other," Brinai says. "The Imperials found the more...extreme elements in our resistance and armed them through proxies. The public shootings and bombings they committed were then blamed on all of us to discredit our movement and paint every piece of justice as a bloody massacre."
"And that's why -" Garrett starts.
"Yes, yes, why we stopped assassinating murderers," Brinai continues. "But this is not a new tactic for the Imperium. Just a bigger one."
"And before the week is out, the Imperium will have holos of the attacks blasted across the galaxy, probably," Paul replies.
"Quite," Brinai replies. "The ravilars will be working overtime."

"The more immediate question," Barnes says, obviously trying to drag the conversation back to Narsai, "is what are our options on Narsai? By your reports and my own intelligence, a push into China would be immensely costly in terms of lives and equipment."
Onas nods. "It could be done, but it would be suicide for almost all of the force."
"And the Interceptors are holding orbit," Barnes says, then looks to Brinai. "When will you be sending an Odun to the village to take over command?"
"Oh, well, I talked it over with my advisors, and we feel they would be better served transferred permanently to your command," Brinai says. "The ships are surplus from the Needleship the 815 captured, and the Interceptors are new. We will send a handful of Samals for training, but the Interceptors and their ships will be yours. Consider it the start of the Narsai'i Interceptor wings."

There's a bit of silence - unavoidable, really, when something of that import happens. The GRHDI just gained more military strength than most Narsai'i nations.
"Thank you, Brinai," Barnes says. She turns to Brand. "Make sure we get them onboarded and housed in the Village as soon as possible, work rotations, time off -"
"Understood," Katelin Brand says.
"So, what are our options beyond suicide rush and status quo?" Barnes asks. "No stone unturned, no idea too crazy."
Gatac 2019-08-24 17:45:17
"I don't know if you know what you're asking, Director," Hug'sh says as he rejoins the conversation, now with a satchel slung over his shoulder. "If we could take out the entire Rah'pah perimeter in one moment and get the kind of UN mandate that comes with the equivalent of an army group's worth of soldiers invading China on our mark, with all the logistics that entails and we put a Needleship or equivalent in orbit for fire support of that invasion...that might do it." He gives an unsteady smile. "There, that's replacing one impossible thing with three very hard things. Alternatively, you can try diplomacy, of course, for all the good that's done us with the Narsai'i so far. You can see I've given it some thought in the hours since. Then I made some food to distract myself. Anybody else hungry?"

Hug'sh's satchel yields several brick-sized objects, verdant green shining through the fine cloth wrapped around them. Each brick consists of two to three layers of Sweetsap tree leaves, pulling triple duty as protective outer layer, dietary fiber and light abrasive for keeping your teeth clean. The inside is further slathered with a mix of leaf lard and crushed nuts, sealing the insides further and providing a caloric boost. Finally, the interior is a mix of cooked tuber mash, chopped citrusy fruits of unknown provenance and shredded spink in a bitter-umami marinade. It's breakfast food, meant to be buried with some hot rocks in the evening after the fires go out and be left to steam in its own juices overnight, but it should be all right to eat cold - if you can manage to chew it.

"I prepped the briefing room for us, and after the debrief, we can do my AAR of our Afghanistan operation from the ground perspective," Hug'sh adds. "Should be a nice nap for anyone who needs it."
Admiral Duck Sauce 2019-08-26 18:51:21
"Do you need the... I don't know, ten to twenty miles around each railgun?" FTE asks. "Because I've got a really irresponsible idea- no nukes, nothing like that, don't worry," it adds.
Gatac 2019-08-26 19:12:53
Given that Wherren don't really have eyebrows, Hug'sh's hard work in trying to raise one is ultimately futile, but surely appreciated.

"A two-digit percentage of their entire civilian population in the affected areas is a little beyond 'irresponsible'," Hug'sh says. "But we're not here to talk about what we can't do. Go on, then."
Admiral Duck Sauce 2019-08-26 19:51:58
FTE shrugs. "Precision matters, but hey, you have us helping, NBD. You just got finished telling everyone we're going to have space superiority. Let's use it. I figure those guns are going to be able to cover each other if we're talking dropping rocks or even tungsten penetrators - which are just fancy rocks anyway. Time to impact is too long, too much atmo in the way, no cover, plus if you saturate each emplacement what if they don't cover each other optimally and there's more impacts than we want? That's nun soup. No good."

The shell makes a gun with its fingers next. "But let's put our own accelerators in space. Yo dog, I heard you liked railguns so let's railgun their railguns."
e of pi 2019-08-27 01:05:14
"That seems like it'd require almost a Needleship to do the job right, and we know what kind of collateral damage that'd imply." Luis says. "Hitting all the rah'pah sites would be that multiplied by a lot." He frowns. "Is there any chance we could get some kind of strike through via saturation or another approach if we focus it on just their logistics site? We know where their Gates were, and we have their OpOrd--I don't think they were thinking in terms of distributing spare kegs. If we can cut off their logistics tail, and the only thing in range of the impact damage was their groundside base...that could be worth it."
punkey 2019-08-27 04:45:36
"Rah'pah would still be there if we take out the First's toehold, but...we don't need to hit them that hard," Arketta says.
Onas nods. "A light shot from orbit should be able to open a hole, take out the Rah'pah without too much collateral damage. Open the doors for a Narsai'i land invasion, but...either way, there are problems with the Narsai'i with this, as I understand it."
Barnes nods. "It's going to be a hard enough sell having 12 Interceptors that can outgun any air force on the planet by themselves under GRHDI control, but a Needleship orbiting Narsai, even under our control? Also, wouldn't we need to build an orbital Gateway, something that the Narsai'i have refused to allow?"
Brinai nods. "They do. There are also accelerators for mining that we can use. Normally they would be impossible to defend, too fragile to use in an attack, but against the Narsai'i? It would be easy. They would also need an orbital."
Barnes shakes her head. "The GRHDI is already going to be accused of trying to be the 'New World Order' for the Interceptors - a Needleship or accelerators over Narsai, an orbital Gateway built against Narsai'i government orders -"

"Isn't the plan for you to take over Narsai?" Ngawai asks.
The assembled leaders go silent. Brinai smirks at Ngawai's bluntness.
"That is the plan, right?" Ngawai continues. "We're all tired of waiting for the Narsai'i to pull their heads out of their asses. We don't have time for them to get out of their backwards ways, so we take power until Barnes is Steward."
"It's more complicated than that," Barnes says.
"It's going to have to be more delicate," Paul explains. "It wouldn't go over well if we just...came out and did it."
Brinai rolls her eyes at that. "For First's sake, the amount of tiptoeing around the Narsai'i and their egos -"
"It's not about egos, Brinai," Paul counters. "They're paranoid about us just taking over their planet. We actually do it, they'll turn against us."
"That's why the plan is to do it slowly," Barnes says. "It was to move to the UN, slowly transfer power, gain independence, and then start making our own decisions, but even now, it's not like I can just snap my fingers and the Narsai'i will fall in line." She looks at Brinai. "Unless you want to take out Narsai'i governance from orbit."
"Tempting," Brinai grunts. "I see your point, but, if we want to do anything about the Imperium on Narsai, this is what it will take. The Sheen is right, the only way in is through sustained orbital strikes."
Onas looks over to the 815. "What do you all say?"
Gatac 2019-08-27 04:55:33
Hug'sh harrumphs. "I believe everyone here knows exactly how big my frustration with the Narsai'i is," he says. "But Director Barnes is right. Convenient as having a Steward who can authorize orbital bombardment would be, this is a decision the Narsai'i have to make." His fur tinges orange. "Let us give them an opportunity to come to a decision. Perhaps, under the circumstances, they will see the wisdom in working with us. Then again, perhaps not. If so, that will still be their choice."

His mouth hangs open for a moment as he wants to add a final sting. Something about water and - horses? That doesn't even make any sense. His mouth snaps shut.
CrazyIvan 2019-08-27 05:20:26
Angel listens to the current arguments, chiming in only once when the topic of the Interceptors comes up.

"I wanna name one."

He shrugs at a few of the confused expressions. "What? Earth's got fucking space fighters. I want to name one."

Ngawai's comment gets a slight shake of the head though. "That's not my plan. Fond as I am of Barnes - and the idea of orbital strikes on select parts of the Chinese landscape, there are some upsides to what we've got. Slow to adjust to a complete paradigm shift in understanding how the universe works, yes. But I'm not too excited about the idea of swapping out one divine mandate for another."

Turning his attention away from the very tempting prospect of said orbital strikes, he motions to Brinai. "She's right though. The ravilars are going to have a field day with this. A beachhead on the home world. Narsai's impudent fury. The savage, civilian-murdering barbarians who justify everything that's going to happen later. It's a victory lap. We need to figure out a way to taint it."
e of pi 2019-08-28 00:06:20
"Tainting it seems like there's two options, "Luis says. "First is making it into a disaster instead of a triumph. The second is pulling something of our own, equally as showy. I don't know that there's a way to taint their beachhead, cut them off or really defeat them, without orbital support...and Director Barnes is right. The Narsai'i would pitch a fit if we did that unilaterally, even if we figured out a way to do it that didn't have any additional impact beyond the Imperial forces on the ground. That leaves finding something we can do, something that's not just reactive here, but proactive someplace else. Something that makes them realize having a beach head here doesn't make them any safer out there. Anyone have any ideas?"
Gatac 2019-08-28 04:56:32
"Hmm," Hug'sh says. "How about we send a small team through the Akwhela's Wheel, which should by all rights be one of the most secure locations in the galaxy, use their own secret gateway to Narsai and then do a mission right under their noses?" He grins. "Oh, wait, you already did that. Come on, tell me more about it. Then we can figure out how to capitalize on it."

He holds out the leaf wrap, but seeing as there are no takers, he shrugs and chows down on it himself.
punkey 2019-08-30 07:04:31
Ngawai looks at Garrett. "There's the thing we've been talking about. This would be a good time for that, yes?"
Garrett nods. "Yeah, you're right." They both look back towards the team. "We've been doing a good job stealing things and blowing things up, but how do you all feel about some wetwork instead? Targeted assassinations, low casualty. It'd be a good counter to the ravliars talking about the Narsai'i as indiscriminate killers."
"Exactly, we prove that the 815 and Bashakra'i are very discriminating in who we kill," Ngawai says with a smirk. "Get a few targets, take them out simultaneously." She looks to Brinai and Onas. "There's got to be a planet somewhere that could use a good Imperial housecleaning."
Admiral Duck Sauce 2019-08-31 15:36:18
"Embarrassment of riches there," FTE says. "But find the intersection of 'send a message', 'vendetta', and 'strategic blow' and I'll bet the list narrows a bit."