Finally, a September Blog moment…

Okay, so, some folk still find being offended is the best state of being to be in. Yup, the TERF and CIS war of words just WON’T give up.
Me, I’m generally staying out of it, muting, unfollowing and just blocking in some cases some of the more vehemently violent.

I tried to tell folks. I even pointed to an Irish article from a Dublin paper that was about as pro British as I am pro Brusell Sprouts. For them, or the author/reporter to take such a stand or point out the futility and long term damaging effects of a war of words has produced speaks volumes.

However, it seems popular culture can’t be bothered with sense and reason, fact over hyperbole. Their loss in more ways than one and than can be counted in one generation. Yes, it’s that kind of long term damage and it WILL come home to roost sooner than later.

Now, on to more relevant to writer ideas and concepts…..

When writing a horror novel, it can be really a big pain to have to decide on how and which characters die. In my case with the array of monsters, items and other devices of lethal cunning it is a minor nightmare.
I know who and roughly when, but the how part is eating at me – figuratively speaking.

So, any ideas of how someone can meet their doom in a horror novel?
( I’m being rhetorical…)

For Camdens Follies, it’s now re – plotting out a massive series of pirate raids with new characters and introducing a new race from the quadrant of pirate clans.

Also, going through the general hassle of reformatting Book 1 of the first series so it physically fits in with the others in the set – 6″ x 9″. It’s a pain as I have the joy of making the cut and past is done chapter by single chapter.
This is because I need to take out the massive divides that occur when OpenOffice transfers to Microsoft Word. This also means seeing that sentences make sense and are complete and not cut off at the mid point or elsewhere.
If this seems complex or confusing; welcome to my world!
For now, since my ranting is over and I’ve gotten my literary notes in…
Here’s a sample chapter from Elder offensive…

© 2020 Jon Corres Pirate Poet

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the express written permission of the copyright holder, except where permitted by law. This novel is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination, or, if real, used fictitiously

Book 2: Ammutseba’s stand

Chpt 17 Aftermath – the second wave begins

Ahknam South

How Campinetti got himself and Aklonkonous to even the edge of town was a major miracle. No med tech, no comm tech and only hints at any of his squad surviving by the sound of running gun battles and the odd smoking corpses of Shambling Horrors he could smell.

His captain was barely awake; She’d lost a lot of blood after taking shrapnel while he was carrying her out to the APC. Campinetti vaguely recalled seeing Verdun pulling himself up and running over to get to Raymond as Salukous opened up on another of the giant furred beasts.

Sounds of explosions from further away echoed in his ears before he passed out from exhaustion in the back of the APC next to captain Aklonkonous. He doubted that his old friend Tenovoli was able to get out of that rat trap, but then again, Vakalas was with him and they could have met up with Verdun and company and made for shelter – though that seemed highly unlikely. Thomerson was practically in tears when she heard his voice answer her. Royker and MacDouglas were dead – at least Royker was after a second wave of Maultauk caught their squad off guard. Sands, Abbot and Shiverini were wounded, but they recovered one of those key devices. She lost track of Morningstone and MacDouglas after they went in to retrieve the key with Shiverini. Stravolini was with her seeing to Abbot after narrowly missing being crushed by debris and flying Maultauk parts.

The sergeant said, before he passed out, that there may be a chance those two were simply caught behind some rubble and out of radio contact.

That’s when the radio died. Aboard the lander, Malcom was going berserk with Kalkulokous. The e.m pulse they experienced shouldn’t have affected the lander as badly as it did. However, all satellites were seemingly flying either blind or on limited function or the reception towers were fragged. In any event, it would take a major act of the divine and the high command to deploy emergency satellites and assign ground crew to set up portable relay towers. In short, that would be when hell froze over!

No one heard a peep from the other lander. Malcom noted that the sensor logs recorded the medium sized troop transport vessel hurtling into the troposphere, with no active guidance system or evidence of human or otherwise piloting. The same scans showed a good chunk of the northern pole now at the bottom of the ocean and a new chain of islands had appeared, each with a very large crater where a temple once was.

An odd piece of information the comm tech gathered was what appeared to be the beginnings of a mass exodus by the Maultauk from various areas around the globe. All seemed to be headed for the southern pole or there about. Hundreds of contacts could be seen traversing the ocean on a southerly heading, none the less.

After a few hours, Malcom turned to Kalkulokous. “ All right, nothing here, but a few dead circuit boards. I think the old AM/FM band radios still work…” He walked over to a closet and began pulling out older models of the wireless systems they used – a bit bulkier, a little more clunky and the size of a small inventory and scanner pad. He handed it to her and motioned for the Greek private to follow him.

Planet Camus

United Earth Defence 10th Fleet
UEADSS Amartha

Admiral Hiroshi looked as if she died in her command chair. The e.m pulse knocked out over half of the morning side communication satellites just as she was trying to get word to Ahk – Setnusam that the European Oversight Committee had decided to adjudicate her claims against brigadier general Abrahms and had him removed from his post along with his advisor, admiral Nakamura.

Now, a promising beginning to an almost impossible operation was just thwarted in one swift stroke. MacReady was dead or as good as along with the rest of Ghost company’s Wraith platoon – the most honoured and decorated of any of the ranger’s in the brigade. Protocol dictated that she send out the emergency satellite retrieval and placement teams, send out at least 4 companies of rangers plus medical evacuation shuttles. Yet, here she was just sitting there on her bridge as her command staff looked between each other in a frightened fashion.

Comm tech 1st class Morris sat behind his console with white knuckles as he gripped the controls hard enough to rip them out if he wasn’t careful. He took a deep breath and, for what seemed the umpteenth time, scanned all known bands – plus a few of the defunct ones – in the military communications frequencies.

Just as Morris began to tune into something on the old AM/FM bands, a hail came through.

Hiroshi got up, slowly, but she got to the comm station. Morris was about to open the channel when the admiral did it for him. “ This is admiral Hiroshi of the Amartha, putting you on secure audio comm channel.”

“ This is captain Anson, security brigade aboard the former flag ship Kyle Morgan. I’m contacting you in regards to orders from the EOC Judiciary Division.” Hiroshi wanted to scream to the heavens, however she took a more calm and diplomatic tact. “ Go ahead captain, it’s just me and my private comm tech.”

Anson said nothing for a moment as someone in the background spoke to him in a whisper.

“ Admiral, it’s brigadier general Abrahms and admiral Nakamura – they’re gone. They vanished a few minutes ago after a communiqué from the European Oversight Committee on military judicial procedures. We found general Fitch, unconscious in his stateroom ma’am. Chief med tech Peterson is examining him now. We think it may have been Nakamura who knocked him out, ma’am. Orders? We’ve been informed you’re the new acting senior commanding officer on this operation and Chief of Staff by order of the European Oversight Committee on military affairs and assignments.”

Hiroshi had her head in her hand as a very large headache came over her. All she could think was, this is just great! Any more good news? She recovered in time to realise that her bridge crew were looking at her as if she just came back from the dead.

“ Since when did this become a zoo? GET BACK TO WORK! Stations! NOW! Captain Anson, how in the name of everything reasonable did two key members of the joint chiefs just vanish into thin air? What happened to security cameras? Where were the personnel assigned as escorts and security details? DON’T JUST SIT THERE ANSON! GET ON IT NOW!”

She began to breathe again as noises of chairs falling over and people running greeted her ears when she noticed Morris and what he was doing.

Venoshia 3

It wasn’t a cave to begin with. However, it was the first and most stable place that Ornaclan could find. Torres was unconscious again. Vargus, Marks, Forscolm and Lineheart were busy drying off. Tenaka and Jennsen were laying quietly a metre or so from Torres. Of the two teams, only a few of the members made it to either of the APC’s. Ornaclan had rescued Torres and managed to get the others – barely, from their APC.

Brichter and Buckley were nowhere to be found by Ornaclan. Then again, the dragon woman was only able to see into the passenger section. She knew that both the APC’s were floating off the shore and going with the current. One was around a thousand metres away from the other at an odd angle.

The last words from Ahk – Setnusam were about her going to MacReady’s side. Reed and McGuinnes plus the wounded on the lander hadn’t spoken on the radio since before the explosion. Ornaclan was drained from just saving her Stefan and rescuing who she could. For the moment, she’d nap with her chosen one in her arms.

Reed and McGuinnes were a hundred or so miles away trying to find a landing field. Thanks to the Scot med tech, Porkovyavitch and Shaver were out – under the influence of anaesthesia in the centre of the mini – shuttle they designated for loading the wounded on in case the lander was busy.

Neither man was interested in anything else, but getting to at least a temporary safe haven before attempting to recover the lander. The Scot physician wondered what happened to Ahk – Setnusam. One moment, she was in a panic near him on the bridge, the next she was gone and the explosions hit. The guidance system was shot by the e.m pulse and next he knew he was desperately racing to get his wounded on a evac shuttle.

They’d need Royker or Dokens to assist in getting the lander working – if they decided to get back to it – and currently; Neither man was answering their radios, nor did the med and comm tech have working comm stations. Meanwhile, slowly heading away and southward from the former big island, McGoff had dragged Dokens from the water and got him on an ammunition crate. Brichter and Buckley were on a similar makeshift life – raft near them with Thomerson. Ashlen was killed almost immediately as the first explosion caught him in mid run with Samuel on his shoulders. Thompson, Tims and Jameson were behind the Scot private and his limy charge. That was the last McGoff had seen of the trio as the land beneath them became like a giant pile of jell – o.

Had the big Scot the energy, he might have seen his fellow soldiers making for the top of the passenger compartment of the APC floating a few metres to his left and just behind him or the half – dragon and half – gryphon flying in circles above the group a couple of hours later.

West of Ahknam South

Morningstone had barely enough energy to hold up her rifle and it took her and MacDouglas almost 4 hours to get him out of his walk – tank suit.

Both were trapped in a small space between themselves and the remaining squad. She could swear that there was knocking on the stone wall from the outside and Shiverini was yelling for the two of them with Sands. She crawled over to her beau and collapsed in his arms as the scratching and digging noises grew louder.

MacDouglas knew that his walk – tank was out of power. He knew he’d lost some blood after the Maultauk who attacked him managed to get a good shot in and sliced him in the chest. He looked towards where the corridor was, emphasis on was and where Hirimoshi disappeared to and the key was located. By MacDouglas’s reckoning, the way the wall collapsed – the area where the corridor was, is now open air.

He felt Morningstone on his chest and resigned himself to buying the farm with the lady he’d been with the longest. The last thing he heard was an explosion – sounding distant and sunlight on his face. Outside, Shiverini was desperately clawing and digging his way through the rubble – despite being wounded. Hirimoshi had Thomerson basically drag Shiverini away so he could open the hole large enough to get the two soldiers out. The walk – tank began to protest as it was running low on fuel. The half – Japanese private cursed in Swedish and got out of his suit before it shut down on him and called Thomerson with Stravolini over to help him drag the wounded out. Just as the duo had gotten the latest pair of walking wounded to the APC, the sight of a mini – barge or emergency shuttle came into view.

One of the great reasons to have the little beauties – where they were stored they could be shielded from most types of attacks; Including e.m pulses! Malcom and Kalkulokous got out running over trying to explain everything that happened and how they couldn’t locate any of captain Aklonkonous’s squad.

On the other hand, when Mali saw the body of Royker she collapsed in tears. She really liked the old limy corporal. Malcom found Shiverini against the wall of the APC. “ Sergeant? Stay with me! Abbot! You still with us?” The med tech nodded and pointed to his shoulder. “ I got stabbed in the upper chest, got shock mainly you ruddy Scot mother hen! Now move, I can give him an adrenaline shot to get him going for a wee bit and he can talk for about fifteen minutes, okay?” Malcom bit back his sarcastic retort and nodded as the new 3rd senior med tech gave the big Greek sergeant an injection. Shiverini’s eyes popped open in time to see Malcom over him. He started to speak when the Scot comm tech held up his hand.

“ Okay, just sit still and listen. Looks like we’ve lost the captain – unless something comes up to contradict the evidence. Also, we may have lost Mac and the rest of Wraith Platoon. All comm channels aside from the old AM/FM channels on analog are fubar for now. We can get the lander going – with some help. Maybe we can fly up north and see if we can corral that lost lander and then maybe scan for survivors of that horrific explosion. Anyway, we have to get you and the others back to the lander and see if we can kick – start that bloody med computer and automated doctor. We’ve got a little over two weeks and 30 of those dirty great pains in the arse – the keys or this will have been for nothing! Stravolini! C’mon! Let’s get this walking hospital back to the lander and get our people back in one piece so we can put a stop to this lunacy.”

The Greek private spit out what he was drinking, looked at Malcom as if he were insane and then helped Shiverini to his feet. Hirimoshi and Sands exchanged exasperated looks and followed suit. Abbot was in good enough shape now to help with Royker’s body and Thomerson acted a human crutch for MacDouglas and Morningstone.

Ahknam South

Captain Aklonkonous adjusted her bandages. She felt that moving Campinetti wasn’t a great idea – especially considering there was no Davies or Abbot. Her radio was virtually junk; All she had left was the APC and some extra rounds of ammunition. Aklonkonous decided to do a reconnaissance of the area to find her surviving squad members and was slowly and methodically checking street by street, trying to avoid the Shambling Horrors and a few undead.

That’s when she found Raymond. He was hanging half – way up an emergency stair case. He looked as if he’d been launched there. She knew instinctively that he was dead. It was sickening how he looked like an old fashioned puppet. She carefully made her way up to retrieve his body when she heard Salukous cursing in Greek around half – way up.

“ Private? Salukous! Is that … ” ROAR!

Coming from around the corner of the building, climbing up like horrifying version of a sloth, a Shambling Horror made its way towards her with its maw wide open. Aklonkonous froze and was very nearly critter chow when the silence was interrupted by the opening of an Armbrister 900. The behemoth screamed in pain as it dropped from its perch 15 metres in the air and a fission grenade found itself at home in the horror’s mouth, virtually vaporising the beast. Salukous stuck her head out from behind a window just above the captain with Verdun on her shoulder. The comm tech smiled weakly before addressing his commanding officer.

“ Captain! Good of you to join us. I was just trying to recalibrate the radios for AM/FM bands when you showed up. Care to get us back to the lander?” Aklonkonous laughed in relief and assisted the duo down and then got Salukous to help her get Raymond’s body.

West of Ahknam South

The mini – barge made it to the lander, which was sitting around 15 miles from the outskirts of town. Thomerson got to work with Kalkulokous to get the spare circuit boards in case a re – boot was impossible. Malcom told the resting Shiverini that it would take at least 4 hours to get everything ready to go. The main problem wasn’t the engine or the core computer per se, but the peripheral guidance systems and access points.

This was why med lab was still working – that and it had a back – up generator that kicked in independently of the main system.

Abbot walked over and addressed the sergeant and the comm tech.

“ Okay, good news sergeant – you should be up and at ’em in two days. Sands is about the same as cleaning the wound and getting the stitching started was easier than I thought. MacDouglas thinks you have enough ammo to last about another two weeks – if used judiciously. Stravolini has expressed a desire to head out with Hirimoshi, Morningstone and maybe Thomerson if we can spare her. Why he told me and not you? Don’t ask sergeant! I just know he thinks they can find the captain and the others based on last telemetry reading, radio contact and all.” Shiverini just wanted to pull a MacReady, but held off and decided to just call the private in.

After about an half an hour discussion, Shiverini agreed, but only if MacDouglas would go with the trio. “ So, no heroics – got me? Walk – tanks plural! Thomerson should be bound to the APC on the portable, just in case they figured out what we did with Malcom’s help. Morningstone has her shotgun, so keep the rear closed tighter than a drum! Get out there and don’t make me wish I hadn’t sent you at all!” Just as Stravolini made for the APC Malcom came running down. “ Sergeant! We found ’em and we didn’t need much sensor help – they’re on the underground from the looks of it, no idea of who’s where, but there’s a butt load of uglies with ’em and they’re heading this direction! Tram exit to the outside is about a mile from here. Did you get that Stravolini?” The private waved as Hirimoshi and MacDouglas got their new walk – tanks going.

Ahknam South Underground railway

“ Salukous! LOOK OUT!” FWOOM! ROAR! KA – BOOM!

Tenovoli threw a high arcing fission grenade 5 metres behind the head of the abysmal dragon as the APC with Aklonkonous at the wheel rocketed forward. Opposite Tenovoli, Vakalas was laying down limited cover fire with his QFNAL while running backwards motioning for the Italian corporal to get moving as undead were beginning to pour in from the side entrances to the tram station. Salukous barely avoided being crushed in the jaws of the dragon and was sprinting like a mad woman for the APC. Campinetti and Verdun were busy taking single shots at the zombies as Vakalas practically carried Salukous with him to the waiting transport. Aklonkonous heard the running gunfire when passing a storm drain and heard the duo of Vakalas and Tenovoli cussing up a storm and running from something.

The APC was just small enough to fit into the entrance to the underground tramway and the captain and her recently rescued remaining squad ran right into the giant meat grinder – clipping the beast in the lower jaw, stunning it briefly as the two wounded in the passenger section of the armoured transport opened fire and Salukous flew out to help the corporal and private.

SCREEE! KA – BAM! RIIIIP! “ DAMN! You all right back there?!?”

Aklonkonous called back as she realised she ripped the top of the passenger side clean off when she hit the stairs to the platform and underestimated the height of the entry way in.

Verdun opened the partition between the cab and the passenger side looking as if he just survived a bucking bronco! “ Yeah, just peachy captain! Now… WATCH IT!” Aklonkonous barely turned in time to slam on the brakes and nearly do a 360 as an abysmal dragon crashed through an arcade a block away and just missed biting the rear of the APC off.

Tires squealed and the smell of burning rubber filled the passenger section. Whomever could, threw a couple of fission grenades at the behemoth. The captain made it as far as the end of the boulevard when a Shambling Horror leapt and bounced off the back of the APC, denting the frame further as Aklonkonous never hesitated and floored it doing 100 mph heading for the western side of town. More roars greeted her and her squads ears; All getting closer! She was almost out of petrol when another APC rambled out of nowhere with a pair of walk – tanks leading it. BOOM! KA – BOOM! FWOOM! Three volleys of h.e incendiary rounds hit their mark and a wall of heat washed over the two APC’s as Stravolini jogged up in his walk – tank. “ Captain! C’mon! You can switch APC’s – Malcom and Kalkulokous are working on the lander with Shiverini and Thomerson… SHITE!” WHOOSH! BRRRRT – BRRRT FWA – BOOM!

The giant clawed paw of a Shambling Horror missed the private in his walk – tank as Hirimoshi caught the movement and unloaded with a 55mm round to the beasts chest shoving it backward into a store front, igniting the entirety! Morningstone chanced to get out and help the others from the nearly destroyed APC to the one she and Thomerson were driving as Hirimoshi and Stravolini provided covering fire. Several tense minutes later the squads arrived at the lander just as Malcom had made a breakthrough.

Abbot made to get Campinetti, Salukous and Aklonkonous to the med lab. Malcom rushed over as the returning surviving squads got checked out as well as the chem cleaning of the APC’s to be sure of no contaminants – not that they hadn’t thought of that before, but the remnants of both platoons had a heightened sense of paranoia.

“ Abbot! I need to talk to our captain… please!” Abbot nearly took Malcom’s head off till he saw the look in the comm tech’s eyes. “ Fine! She’s suffering from blood loss, however her wounds are healed and cleaned enough she can sit up and listen – for 10 minutes max!”

Aklonkonous gave the unified platoons current senior med tech a very dirty look before sitting up and seeing what Malcom wanted to tell her so badly. “ Okay, give me the good and bad news – bad news first.” She turned her original sour look on Malcom. He put his hands up and wrung them frantically. “ No! No, bad news! Besides, we have another 30 or less of those keys to find. It turns out that only 1/3 of the circuit boards were damaged and only half of the satellites on this side of the planet were taken out. I found out about the later after we got the sensors working and the computer rebooted. I have an updated map of the world with the locations of the sleeper keys. Mind you, I’m not sure how we can destroy the others – not with no Ornaclan or Ahk – Setnusam, but I’m game if you are! We can always launch the lot into a sun or blow ’em up in a rocket in an asteroid belt, yeah?” The captains look went from sour to confused to amused in near record time. She laughed as she realised Malcom was trying to make her feel better.

“ All right Malcom, I’m not sure about the primitive approach, but I do agree that we can still get those keys. Any sign of any of our wandering people?” The Scot comm tech sadly shook his head.

“ No ma’am. We did find, on the sensor sweeps, 2 half – submerged APC’s near where the northern pole used to be or rather where the majority of land mass that was their Arctic circle used to be. Life signs in the area are still too tough to pin down – let alone any critters wandering the area. One something to note; There seems a mass migration of the Maultauk heading south or to the southern seas or possibly to the southern Antarctic pole of Venoshia 3. Sadly, there’s signs that they’re taking humans along with them some how – for food or whatever is still to be determined. We’ve also yet to pick up on the comm channels the high command have been using, nor have we noticed anything on the bogus emergency channels either.” This last tid bit got the captain’s attention.

“ Wait, nothing? What about the scheduled med bus? Didn’t the brass think that they might have to try a live contact or were even remotely curious about what was going on or if they’d have to send in a full regiment… of anything?” Malcom just angrily shook his head no. “ No offence ma’am, but those shite heads – aside from admiral Hiroshi – were counting on us failing. Or did MacReady fail to mention that part?” She shook her head and spoke in almost a hiss.

“ He did, but I didn’t believe that it went this far! And yes, he did hint that Wraith Platoon was on a suicide mission of sorts. As I said Malcom, I didn’t believe it. I knew Fitch and Nakamura were always waiting to pounce on Mac for anything – they hated him for his results and the fact he had more savvy than them. Or was this that infiltrator or collaborator – general Lewis possibly – with Ammutseba that turned them and Abrahms too?”

Malcom threw his hands in the air and Abbot of all people jumped in.

“ Captain, your guess is as good as ours or Mac’s would be. Right now you need to heal so we can have you on the line with us! I hate the idea of losing Davies, McGuinnes and Marks along with the rest of my platoon. I just know Mac would have wanted you and the rest of us to keep going and make these bastards pay and pay big! Who knows? We may get lucky and find some of the guys too tough and determined to snuff it here. Let’s get this done – I have first shot at Fitch though, okay?” She looked into the older Scot med tech’s eyes and noted the angry fire that reminded her of MacReady. “ You’ve got it Shane. As long as I get to kick Nakamura’s arse first!” She got a brief smile before Abbot got back to seeing to Campinetti.

Aklonkonous looked out beyond the med lab and noticed how everyone was keeping busy. Hirimoshi kept an almost stone like mask with as little emotion as possible, but there was a band on his arm with the names of Tenaka, Porkovyavitch and Dokens on it… among others, in Japanese kanji and Swedish. Tenovoli was busy with Shiverini, they looked like they were hashing out tactics and teams – as usual. Before she gave in to exhaustion to sleep for a bit she even saw Kalkulokous and Thomerson talking in near whispers with Sands and Morningstone; Consoling each other while looking at Royker’s shroud.

The Northern Pole Islands

Ornaclan dived at mach speed while shredding Maultauk stragglers. It would seem that not all of the local amphibians were wiped out and the few that had awoken from being stunned or badly burned had decided to stop and make a snack of the survivors on the floating debris.

Small arms fire could be heard for the immediate area as Brichter and Buckley were taking careful pot shots at roughly a dozen wounded Maultauk with Samantha Thomerson. McGoff was using a combat knife and pistol while the trio of privates were shooting with their QFNAL’s.

After a few intense moments, the remaining Maultauk made for the depths and headed south away from the humans and dragon. Two hours and a few rather comical moments of soldiers getting air sick, the remaining members of MacReady’s teams were huddled in a cave. Marks was looking after Torres, Tenaka and Jennsen. Torres had some minor cuts and a concussion, while Tenaka and Jennsen mainly had burns and hypothermia from being doused in ice cold ocean water for about an hour or so. Vargus, Forscolm, Lineheart acted like nurses and tried to plan out how to fish the ammunition boxes out while they were still dry and perhaps salvage some of the weapons. Dokens sat with Ornaclan who was fussing over Torres. “ … as I was saying before the Portuguese drama king here got started; If you can get me to the airlock of the lander, I can manually get in and open the cargo bay after activating the atmospheric shielding. I just need to be able to reach the external lever to open the door. I know where all the spare parts are. If nothing else I can get to one of the mini – barges and get the portable automated doctor. It would save us some time, considering that the high command have probably abandoned us to the fates and done a bunk, er run off with their tails between their legs.”

Ornaclan looked up from a furiously blushing Torres and addressed the corporal. “ In other words; You want to fix or re – start the lander and or get an emergency transport to us to get the wounded to proper medical facilities and recover what equipment we can to finish this mission? All right – If you don’t mind hanging on my back.”

Forscolm walked over with McGoff. “ Not a problem Ornaclan! We’re going too you limy moron. Or are you forgetting we’re both in your league and Royker’s for mechanics and ship repair?” He grinned at the limy corporal as McGoff shook his head. “ Seems he has laddie. Sad to say – and don’t look at me like that! Mum looks at me like that enough to be getting on with. You know as well as I do that 3 can do this faster than 1- so quit trying to think of a good way to call me a bastard and let’s get this show on the road, yeah?” Dokens just sighed. “ I suppose I’m suppose to put together a make – shift saddle or something? No? Okay, we’ve got some rope on the APC’s if they haven’t sunk to the bottom yet and those fish fiends aren’t still trolling for food – are they Ornaclan?” It took the dragon lady a minute or two to sort out what the corporal was talking about before she seemed to nod in recognition. “ No, they left. It seems they’re being called or compelled to migrate to the southern oceans. Not to mention your squad made it very difficult for them to get close enough even to taste you – and that was a joke. Your weapons are very effective and you’re too tough for an easy meal. Anyway, are you going or do you need my aid for that as well?”

She realised a bit too late that she had stated the last with a little more than a bite of angst in it. The looks on the trio’s faces was priceless.

Dokens and company even started to head to the opening of the cave and look for a way to traverse the distance down when Ornaclan ran up with her hands up. “ Wait! I’m sorry! I know you need my help and I’m not begrudging you that. Even in my human form I’m strong enough to carry all three of you down to the ocean before transforming into my natural state and flying you the rest of the way – please, let me help you!” Three heads looked down at their feet before Forscolm made a hand gesture to defer to Dokens.

“ All right! Forgiven! Besides, Stefan would probably shoot us if we didn’t accept your apology…” Torres limped up at that point looking fit to be tied. “ Shoot you!?! Maybe, but not for that! Ornaclan, I’m well enough to walk this far without help, okay? Sheesh!” The dragon lady merely smiled at him and chuckled. “ So you ARE fond of me! * smooch * I knew I grew on you…” Now the other three were laughing and the Portuguese private was redder than a tomato! “ THAT’S NOT FAIR! Well, okay, the kiss was nice, but… * mmmff *” Ornaclan held her shorter beau close.

“ Be quiet you Portuguese Peacock! I’ll be back and in one piece and we can continue this on a more appropriate occasion, okay?”

Torres just nodded and slowly limped back to where he was napping and recuperating. All three of the engineering squad stood off to one side as Ornaclan took her natural form. It took five minutes to find the floating APC’s and around an hour for all three to find what they had in mind for a long flight plus some other items in case the enemy miraculously discovered the power of flight.

Ornaclan only needed 4 trips to get everything back to the cave for the soldiers to go through and see what was useful – which thankfully was all of the ammo and weapons!

As the teams worked independently of each other, not knowing their fates, Ornaclan sat by private Torres and let her thoughts drift to her old friend Ahk – Setnusam. Above, in the space between Venoshia 3 and Camus, two med buses and a troop carrier led by admiral Hiroshi and comm tech Morris began to make ready to replace the dark satellites and possibly lead a full company down to find MacReady and possibly the survivors of Liekos Company.

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