Copyright © by Hammy
"Holy shit Ray, you weren't kidding about the size of this beast! I mean its like a city ship, except its a Warship that exceeds any standards set by the space committee," Tom exclaimed as he looked over the display of the ship's functions and many areas. "An actual inside Dropship hangar? Isn't that a bit of a risk putting all your eggs in one basket?"
Ray grinned, "Not at all, how it all works is classified, but I can tell you that this ship was put together with the best engineers in mind, including Sam himself."
"Jeez... that's an awful big shower area," Zach commented out of nowhere, causing a few hushed giggles among several SRE leaders. Ray narrowed his eyes at Zach, which Zach totally missed.
JP overheard and walked by along with Mick and Josh. "Oh, it's just big enough so Ray here has time to cover his ass when he drops the soap, which happens quite often." Mick and Josh thoroughly agreed while Vash just shook his head. Adam began laughing hard as Ray was staring daggers at everyone.
"ALL OF YOU CAN BITE ME!" roared Ray, at the giggling crowd.
Gail couldn't help but add her own remark, "Mark a spot, Ray. It would be my pleasure!"
Ray gave a loud growl and flipped her off, then headed towards the Bridge. Trying to ignore any further smart assed comments, Ray made sure everyone heard him as he bellowed, "WE JUMP IN 10 MINUTES!" Just as soon as he spoke those words, his face turned red and he muttered curses to himself while trying to walk away from the roaring laughter behind him.
After watching Ray depart, Epi turned to Adam. "Is he always like that?"
"You have no idea," Adam chuckled. "I'm sure it could have been a lot worse with JD and Chris around." He groaned inwards as he realized those two were sorely missing.
"We'll get em back if it's the last thing we ever do."
Adam looked at Epi wide eyed. "How do you plan to accomplish that? I mean, don't you guys do capture-the-flag stuff or something?"
"Yes and no. For training and fun, we play capture-the-flag, and on some competition levels. But when it comes down to the real thing, we steal information with our state-of-the-art technology and pilots. You only get ten seconds go steal data then get the hell out, because as scary as JD's gunnery skills are, there's only a handful of other pilots out there who are on par with him and we never know who we run into until it's too late. We are all about stealth, but once we're spotted, the game's afoot."
"Hmm, sounds interesting. I wonder how this would work if you were to rescue prisoners."
Epi stared at Adam for a minute. He wanted to say something, but every time a thought popped up, another one seemed to, causing him to open and close his mouth like a fish. His thoughts were broken up by several youngsters passing by.
"What if you added some sort of battling into the mix while you work in the backgrounds? I mean, wouldn't that provide enough distraction from the enemy for you guys to do your thing?" the black haired fourteen year old said after overhearing Adam's question.
Epi stared at the youngster for a while before answering. "I'm not sure I like putting my guys at risk like that. I might have a highly specialized unit of close knit pilots who are like a family to me, to send them off like that... all at once... scares me."
"Epi..." Adam started, "What if you added some of Gail's group into the mix?"
Epi started to brighten, but remained serious, "That could help somewhat, I foresee several issues; first being large groups of lights stick out like a sore thumb, and second, they tend to be easier to eliminate by the enemy. I still don't think..."
"What if you added alla us into the mix? We have all completed light 'Mech training under Banshee, and she is tough at handing out passing scores." The same fourteen year old spoke, interrupting Epi. "Sorry for interrupting ya, but what if we sent in a few distraction waves of lights for their lights to chase after? I mean how many lights to they really have or need? After all this massive pig should have a shit ton of lights don't ya think?"
Adam cringed at the boy's use of the word to describe his ship. "Kid, don't ever call this ship a pig, it might be massive, it might stick out like a sore thumb in battle, but this 'pig' is one hella Warship..." Adam stopped suddenly as he had a thought. "Epi, would it be possible to train these kids on their ideas and yours?"
"Yes, but that will take time..." Epi scanned the faces of the kids looking at him. He smiled as he saw how determined they were to help out. "Well, since that question is in the air, I was going to say a month, but I think we can do training in less than 24 hours. It will be tough and it will require everyone we have to conduct this training."
Adam smiled for the first time. "That we can do. We have enough pods here to cover most, if not all pilots."
"Good, how long to reach Panthera?"
"Oh shit..." Adam punched his shoulder to activate comms. "Ray, abort the jump sequence!" He looked at Epi. "In this beast, 5 hours, straight to planetside."
"What the fuck, Adam?" Ray sounded irritated over comms.
"Please Ray, we have an idea we want to talk to you about, then get everyone into the pods pronto for training!" Ray growled as a response and Adam rolled his eyes. "Ray, you do realize that we are entering into battle without a solid plan of action, and once we get there, this beast will stick out like a sore thumb? We are requesting 24 hours to plan and train for battle, which would require some sleep, but hopefully you and Gail like the idea as well as Epi."
"Fine. My office, on the Bridge."
"How about the conference room instead?" Adam started walking towards the lift, followed by Epi, as the teens watched them depart. "I have a large group of pups who brought this idea up after overhearing Epi and me share a few ideas." The 'pups' made a face, but were nonetheless happy to follow, once they figured out Adam was talking about them.
Ray growled, causing Adam to chuckle and Epi to question the answer. "It means he's okay with it, but doesn't like it. Gail, did you get all that?"
"Yep, I'm on my way." Adam acknowledged her response and tapped his shoulder to close comms. Once the doors opened and Adam and Epi stepped inside, they waited for the group to follow, but they seemed reluctant to. "Come along guys, we want you all with us."
"B-but... it sounded like Wolf was mad?"
Adam smiled, "That's normal. He is actually a big ole softie, but you didn't hear it from me."
Epi grinned and tapped his comms to invite some of his senior staff with them as well.
That response caused the group to break into a grin and they all piled into the lift.
Adam's group entered the room leaving Adam and Epi walking towards Ray, who was standing at the head of the table looking confused. Another set of doors opened and Gail entered the room as well as three others who were unknown to everyone except Epi. The group of teens stood there gawking at the size of the room. It's not like they haven't seen anything like it before, but it was a room for most commanders, not a place fourteen and fifteen year olds would ever dream of setting a foot into.
"You guys going to stand there all day like chickens, or are you gunna come in and speak your minds?" The group jumped when Ray spoke and they suddenly became nervous. Gail elbowed Ray as a way of silently telling him to go easy, then she told the group to come on in. There was some hesitation on their part, but they entered the room without any further prompting.
"Take a seat, guys. We'll introduce ourselves and get down to business." Ray said a bit more calmly, realizing the group of 'pups' must all be cadets in some form or another.
Once they were seated, Epi spoke first. "As all of you know, my name is Epi. These are my senior staff and some of the most trusted pilots. 'Raz' to my right, 'Quarter' to his right, and Adler to my left."
"A tad young don't you think, Epi?" Adler asked with a deep voice, kinda surprising everyone given his elderly looks, but fact was, he is a damn good pilot and a long time friend of Epi.
"Maybe, but they had a good idea." Epi then looked at Gail and winked.
Gail rolled her eyes, muttering 'boys' under her breath, and before anyone could ask, she introduced herself, followed by Adam then Ray.
"So, which one of you is the spokesperson of this group?"
The fourteen year old boy stood nervously. "My name is Yan, I am a Senior Cadet under Banshee's command."
"Yan, you may use first names here, but please continue." Gail quickly corrected Yan.
"Sorry ma'am, umm, well, some of us were talking over an idea that we came up with for the pods, but then I overheard Adam and Epi talking about a rescue attempt and I couldn't help but offer another option they could consider."
Ray looked on and stared at the kid for a few seconds then stood and walked towards him. Once he got there, he bent down so he was level to his ear and whispered loud enough so everyone could barely hear, "Do you realize that you really shouldn't be offering such a suggestion, nor talking to an officer without their permission?"
Yan gulped, "Y-yes sir."
Ray sighed, "But... in this case, I'm going to let it slide, since Adam so kindly told me to abort jump sequence. So, please explain your idea and why you think it will work."
Yan gulped again as if to clear his throat and was somewhat surprised Ray didn't yell at him like he was used to being yelled at. "Well, my comrades here and I were throwing ideas back n fourth on the best way to approach a flag, even with unlimited settings. Say for example, you had a group of heavies, mediums, and assaults attacking a base as a distraction that would pull most 'Mech divisions towards them, leaving the prisoner barracks somewhat open. Another group of faster 'Mechs would attack the defenders while the remaining lights would sneak into the hangars and stage the rescue attempt. The amount of lights would depend on how many are being held. Once the objective is complete, the game is afoot and any chasers would have to chase after each light that has an extra person in it." He stopped to look around at the disbelieving faces then looked back at Ray, who had a slight grin on his face.
"You realize this type of planning is not a game?" Ray asked, half serious, half joking.
"Well, we do play capture the flag often, so that could work cause it's never been tried before."
Before Ray could respond, Quarter spoke up, "Well, maybe in a limited setting, it won't because defending the prize is far more worth it than a mere distraction. Maybe changing the rules a bit to adapt for this kind of rescue attempt... but I see a few holes in the plan. First, this isn't something where we would have to have a defender on our side to protect whatever intel we stole? Second, sending too many little ones in raises alarm bells."
Adler spoke up. "What if we decide to come in at the last minute and actually assist the heavies to do their work faster? I realize we will need to make adjustments on our part, but this would have to be practiced and perfected in time, and time is what we are lacking. Even with the most experienced pilot, you still need to know each and every one on your team like the back of your hand and something like that is hard to come by."
"I think this might work," Raz began as he leaned forward. "I mean this kid's got an idea or two how the game works, but at the same time, this is for real. How would you minimize the losses on our side?"
"Umm, we haven't gotten that far yet, but that's what practice is for, right?" Yan responded timidly.
Ray smiled and patted Yan's shoulder. "Kid's got balls, I'll give him that." He walked towards his seat and sat down. "Let's have a practice and see what we can come up with. Those of us in this room will be assaulting and whomever else on the other side will be defending. I'll set the mission objectives for each team to make it realistic and we'll make adjustments and talk it over on private comms. Epi, do you agree?"
Epi actually smiled and nodded his head in agreement. "Ray, I'm going to request having all of my guys attend the attacking team. Judging by the intel reports from our tail on JD, Panthera seemed like a blur of activity with only a warship present. I'd almost hate to say it, this big lug can stand out like a sore thumb and the minute we exit jump space, alarm bells are going to go off. That isn't really going to give us much time to deploy and strike."
"Actually, I happened to have a working Angel ECM and a Jump cloak aboard The Scorpion. What both of those do is shield us from enemy ships that do not have a line of sight on us and lessen the blow on the ripples when a ship exits jump space. I'm fully aware I'm sharing classified information with all of you, so please do not share this information with anyone else. I don't need the whole galaxy knowing what this ship is capable of."
Before anyone could respond to Ray, comms came to life with Tommy's voice sounding very excited, "Holy shit, Ray, I never knew this ship had a shit ton of stealth shiz and what not!"
Ray growled after five minutes of silence, followed by many giggling noises. "Ray, I tried to tell you about level's of access, but you did say it was fine as it is. It didn't take long for a new SRE pilot to figure that out," Adam whispered to Ray, loud enough for all to hear, causing more giggles.
Ray groaned and facepalmed then thanked Tommy for his insight and had him to get everyone to head to the pods deck for a training mission. Once he got his acknowledgement, he brought up a screen on the table and set the mission parameters and objectives for two teams, assuming their drop landing goes unnoticed. Then, at the request of Epi, he set a second of mission parameters, should the drop landing go noticed with the same mission objectives. Once he competed that task he stood. "Guys, I've set the teams to twelve per Dropship and I only have 12 DropShips onboard. While that can give us an army of a hundred forty-four 'Mechs, some of us are going to have to carry heavier 'Mechs, since each of our Dropships can hold a combined weight of seven hundred twenty tons. Starting now, I want you all to form your teams, who goes with who. Please note that the defenders are all going to be on a single team while the rest of us have to be broken up. I'll leave all decisions to Epi, since this is his area of expertise, and I suggest we all get acquainted with one another before we decide on teams. Is everyone in agreement?"
Epi's smile grew wide as he looked to his right then left side, getting nods in return, "Perfect. RAGE is in full agreement."