The Stupidest Invasion, Pt. 2 Chapter 10

Image by Amy from Pixabay

Link to previous chapters

“We’re going to what?” I said, looking at Powell as if he had a giant horn growing out of his head.

“We’re going to steal one of their ships.” He said it like he was suggesting we all get lunch. Like it was just a normal, everyday thing and not some batshit crazy idea lifted from a special operator fever dream.

“That’s… that’s just fucking crazy,” I said. “How are we supposed to get close enough to do that?”

“We’re going to fly up to them in a couple of 280’s.” The Bell V-280 Valor had recently replaced the old V-22 Osprey. The special ops community was still split on the aircraft, though. It seemed like they either loved or hated it, with almost nothing in between. I didn’t know enough to have an opinion seeing as how I’d never flown in one. Ever since this insanity had started, we’d been ferried around Blackhawks mostly, with the occasional ride in a truck, since the 280 hadn’t quite filtered down to regular line units. Powell, however, didn’t seem to have a problem with them. Which didn’t really matter because the idea was fucking insane.

“We’re going to fly up to them,” I repeated back at him, hoping that he’d hear how crazy it sounded. It didn’t work. He nodded at me with this stupid grin on his face. “Okay, so what about the, oh, I don’t know, hundreds of thousands of Skinnies that will be standing around waiting to get wasted?”

“Oh, do not worry about them,” Xav interjected. “The Arvenoid are very set in their ways and are not good at improvisation. They will likely see you and be worried about what you are doing, but they will not deviate from whatever their plan may be.”

“Okay, that’s all well and good,” I said, “But, if we sit down on top of them, they’ll pretty much have to react. Right?”

“Probably,” Powell said. “But we won’t have to sit down on top of them. Bob, can you pull up those recon photos from the last attack?” Burchmann began fiddling with a tablet and Powell looked back at me. “When Xav recommended this op as a way to level the technological playing field, I thought the same thing you do. But, when I figured out my bosses liked the idea, I began looking at how to make it work. That’s when I found these photos. They were taken over the hour before the attack started.” He took the pad from Burchmann and turned it toward me. “What do you see?”

“Okay, there’s a fuckton of Skinnies forming up, their command post not far back.” I scrolled a bit. “And, I’m guessing these are their ships, here?” I said pointing to several squarish-looking objects sitting well back behind their line. Most of them were pretty good sized but there were a few smaller ones. Powell nodded and pointed to one of those smaller models.

“This is the type we’re after,” he said. “But notice how far away they are from their troops. We believe they put them there, thinking that’s outside artillery range. It’s not but we’ve let them believe it is, thinking it could come in handy at a later point.” He handed the tablet back to Burchmann. “We’re going to land right next to one of those smaller ships, neutralize whatever crew is still on board, and fly off with it.”

“You think it’ll be that simple?” I said. I still wasn’t sure about this idea but Powell was and I’d come to trust his judgment. Maybe it wasn’t as crazy as I thought.

“Well, probably not,” he said. “I mean, no plan ever survives first contact with the enemy. But, we’re good at making shit up on the fly, so…” He shrugged.

“Okay,” I said. “Next question: why? What are we going to get out of this?”

Xav stepped in again. “I believe I can answer this question. The Confederation prohibits us Llesote from supplying any technology to your race. It does not, ” he said with a smile, “bar us from suggesting ways for you to acquire it on your own.”

That was interesting. “What kind of technology are we talking about?”

“Oh, many different things,” the alien said. “But I believe what your government is most interested in is the fusion reactors that power their ships.”

Quiet Time

My mind reeled as I walked back to my tent. That was, of course, after a very stern lecture about not breathing a word of this to anyone. Fusion power, I thought. How long have we been chasing that dream? There had been multiple “breakthroughs” that ended up fizzling out. Was it really in our grasp? And, was I about to be one of the people who grabbed it? Fuck, that was some heady stuff. I just hoped I wouldn’t run into Zoe before I could process all this shit. That hope, unfortunately, turned out to be in vain because she was waiting for me when I got back to my tent.

“Hey,” she said with that awkward little wave of hers.

I responded with my own which I’m sure wasn’t anywhere near as cute. “Hey.”

She looked at me for a minute. “Are you okay?” she asked.

“Iā€” yeah, I, um, I’ve got a lot on my mind right now.” Oh, I thought, I am such a shitty actor.

“No,” she said, “Something’s bothering you.” She looked around for a second, then back along my track to see where I was coming from. All of a sudden, she whispered, “You met him, didn’t you?”

“What? I… I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I stammered.

“It’s okay,” she said, “I had to get scanned to join D-7.”

“Oh,” I said. “Um, well, yeah. I guess I did.” I stood there like a doofus for a second before blurting, “That’s all I tell you, though,” and ducking into my tent.

She followed me in. “Okay, that was weird. What is wrong with you?”

“I’m sorry,” I said, as I dropped my gear and stripped out of my jacket. “I just got this big lecture from Powell and that Burchmann guy about security and not telling anyone about this. When you asked that question, I kind of freaked out a little.” She gave me a look and I said, “Okay, a lot. But not as much as it looked like. I was already kind of freaked out after meeting aā€””. She threw up a hand and cut me off before I really screwed up. “Well, you know,” I said waving my hand. I flopped down on my cot, dejectedly.

“Yeah, I know,” she said, sitting down beside me. “It’s okay, I understand. It is a lot.” She looked at me with a conspiratorial glint in her eye. “It was weird, wasn’t it?”

“So fucking weird,” I said, lying back on the cot. Before I knew what was happening, she snuggled in beside me. That was no easy feat because those cots were not big. Neither one of us being all that bulky (my tall, skinny ass was enough to offset Zoe’s shorter, stockier frame), we made it work. Every time we got the chance.

“You get used to it,” she said, shrugging into me. “It helps that he’s so respectful and just nice.”

“Yeah, I guess.” I was going to have to take her word on that. “And, the way I felt afterward? I’ve never felt so peaceful and relaxed. Like, ever. In my whole life.”

“It is pretty nice,” she said. She propped up on an elbow. “You know what else makes you feel peaceful and serene, don’t you?” she said with a grin.

I took her hint. “I do. But it’s like 5:30. People are around.”

“So,” she said, pulling my t-shirt out of my trousers, “We’ll just have to be quiet, won’t we?”

The Devil Is In the Details… Whether You Know Them or Not

The training began to make more sense after I knew what it was about. And, I say “more” sense as opposed to “complete” sense because, while I knew what we were going to do, I didn’t know how we were going to do it. A couple of days later, I brought that up with Powell one day in the D-7 team hooch.

“Chief, am I cleared for all the info about this mission?”

“Yeah,” he said, getting to pour another cup of coffee. “Why do you ask?”

“Because I’m stumbling around in the dark, here. At best, I know the broad strokes of the mission but no fucking details.”

“That’s because I don’t know all the details yet,” he said, placing a cup of very strong black coffee in front of me. I was one of the few people on the team who even could drink Powell’s coffee ā€” the D-7 crew generally wouldn’t let him make it if anyone else was around ā€” much less enjoy it, but I did. It was one of the reasons he had taken a shine to me according to Zoe. He took a sip of his own and said, “Well, didn’t know. We finally got the last of the intel last night and can start working that shit out.”

“Wait,” I said, somewhat confused, “You didn’t have all the intel til last night?” He nodded. “Then, what the hell have we been doing for the past week and a half?”

“Mostly, just staying in shape and keeping your edge,” he said. “There are a few things that are mission-specific,” he paused before amending that. “Well, as mission-specific as they could be, given the circumstances.”

“What the fuck does that mean?”

“It means that the exercises are as close to reality as we can make them with the knowledge available to us at the time.” He took another sip of coffee. “Things like insertion aren’t going to change all that much. I mean, there are only so many places they can park their shit and we know what the terrain looks like, so we can work on that without much fear of it getting tossed out when we know more.”

“Okay,” I said. “I guess that makes sense. But, now we know more, right?”

“We do. Finish your coffee and we’ll head over to G-2 and start hashing this shit out.”

“You want me to help?” That caught me off guard. 2nd Lieutenants aren’t usually included in that level of planning. We’re handed the plan and expected to execute it.

He stood up, draining his mug. “You’re a part of this team, aren’t you?”

“Yeah, I guess I am.”

“Then I want your input. Now, drink the fuck up. We got shit to do.”