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Chapter 50 - What Could Go Wrong[]

25 October 3041
New Avalon (Federated Commonwealth, FedSun State)

Command Sergeant Major Vernon Grimes, AFFC Department of the Navy, was not used to being summoned to his own office on a Sunday morning. Growling greetings at the few enlisted that dared to say anything to him, he looked at his watched and his irritation deepened, 7am on a Sunday, if someone has not invaded the Federated Suns, he swore he was going to kill someone. He pounded down the hallway until he reached his office, with its small alcove where his assistant sat, but today he was standing and just pointed to the closed door. He looks rather pale, like I just chewed his head off, Command Sergeant Major Grimes thought as he reached to open the door to his office.

Pushing the door open, his eyes locked on Command Sergeant Major Ernest Vanderhoff, Department of the Army, standing near a chair, but not sitting. "Ernie, what the hell is going on?" he asked before he realized that his chair was facing the window outside and he could barely see an arm. "WHO THE HELL IS SITTING IN MY CHAIR!!!!" He roared.

"Come now, Sergeant Major Grimes, you have been on New Avalon for over a decade." Quintus Allard said spinning the chair to face both Command Sergeant Major's "I am sure you know who I am."

Command Sergeant Major Grimes snapped to attention and almost swallowed his own tongue trying to answer, "Yes Sir, I know exactly who you are."

"I am getting along in my years; you don't mind if I stay right where I am?" Quintus Allard asked

"NO sir, you can sit right there as long as you like, Sir." Command Sergeant Major Grimes replied

"Why thank you, it is a very comfortable chair. Please gentlemen, take a seat, we need to discuss some issues that I recently became aware of." Quintus Allard said

Sweet Jesus, he knows what I have been doing. Damn Pullman and his you owe me bullshit., Command Sergeant Major Grimes thought while taking a seat in front of his own desk. He watched Quintus Allard play with a pen laying on his desk, spinning it on the desk calendar.

"All comfortable? Excellent. While the end of every conflict sees a rash of retirements and end of enlistments, I have recently become aware of quite a few retirements and end of enlistments heading off to Inner End. Not to mention four of the AFFS Navy's best Marine Instructors on Zero G warfare being placed on a 6 month TDY. Would you know anything about this, Sergeant Major Grimes?" Quintus Allard asked

Command Sergeant Major Grimes could literally feel the blood drain from his face as Quintus Allard had spoken. "Sir, I can explain." He stopped when Quintus Allard raised a hand.

"Please. Sergeant Major Pullman has already informed me about his collection of markers. Seems quite a few people owe that man a great deal of favors. I assume you have the newest crop of, shall we say, recruits already in the pipeline and on their way to Inner End? If not, then why not, his request to you arrived several weeks ago?" Quintus Allard said

Command Sergeant Major Grimes felt his mouth moving, no words exited, only it was opening and closing like a fish gasping for oxygen. He finally found his voice "Sir, I have not gone beyond a quick scan of those putting in for retirement or scheduled for end of enlistment."

"You need to double your efforts Sergeant Major Grimes. You will also submit a list of ALL potential recruits to MIIO for background checks. Is that clear?" Quintus Allard said

Command Sergeant Major Grimes was totally confused now, one second, he just knew he was about to get the axe and possibly a death sentence and now he was being told to put the pedal to the metal finding people. He glanced sideways at Command Sergeant Major Ernest Vanderhoff, who was sitting in a chair clearly confused at what was going on.

"I seem to have confused you both. WE, and I do mean WE are going to support Search and Recovery Inc to the best of our ability. That now includes you Command Sergeant Major Vanderhoff. We are going to do this on the down low, minimum of people outside this room involved. Is that clear?" Quintus Allard said

Neither Command Sergeant Major was going to disagree, so they both kept their mouths shut and just nodded in agreement.

"Excellent, I will let Sergeant Major Grimes fill in the blanks on his little operation after I have left. But first, I have taken the liberty of making an additional personnel request that Sergeant Major Pullman might have overlooked." Quintus Allard said as he pulled two sheets of paper out of his pocket and handed one to each Command Sergeant Major. He watched as each opened the folded slip of paper and read what was on it.

Command Sergeant Major Vanderhoff (Army)

24 Battlemech Pilots
120 Armor Crewmen
112 Infantry
56 Engineers
40 Mechanics
24 Senior BM Technicians
96 BM Technicians

Command Sergeant Major Grimes (Navy)

24 Aerospace Pilots
30 Senior AS Technicians
120 AS Technicians
8 Jumpship Pilots
4 Jumpship Navigators
6 Jumpship Engineers
36 Jumpship Crew
20 Dropship Pilots
120 Dropship Crew
28 Marines

While both looked at their respective lists he continued speaking "I expect full discretion in this matter. The least amount of people are to be involved in this task. I will not be happy if this gets out. It did not take me long to figure out that they are seriously lacking technical support, that needs to be corrected ASAP. Am I clear?"

Both Command Sergeant Majors looked up from their lists and just nodded in reply. Neither knew really what to say. So, when in doubt, stay quiet.

Quintus Allard stood up from the chair and walked around the desk heading for the door but paused to say, "Do not forget to submit your lists to MIIO for background checks." He then left both Command Sergeant Majors still sitting in their chairs wondering what the hell they had been dragged into.

25 October 3041

Chief Zuniga's revelation brought everyone back to the reality of the situation. While Master Sergeant Caldwell supervised the various techs as they brought those vehicles and Battlemechs containing fusion reactors back to life after being shut down for almost three centuries, Master Sergeant Croyle had his engineers busy filling in the massive trenches they had dug, leaving only the side with the door open. Massive boulders were brought over and rammed into the hole the Mining Mechs had made in the outer shell of the cache before filling in the trench with rock and dirt.

Aboard the Intrusive, Intruder Assault Dropship, the rest of the Command Team huddled trying to solve this massive problem they now had. After a full day, no one had a solution. They were looking at over a year of shuttle runs back and forth to recover what they had found. Utilizing every ounce of cargo tonnage that they could. It was Corporal Tyler Crenshaw that proposed a solution while cracking a joke to his squad mates while Leftenant Colonel Mitchell was passing by without his knowledge.

"They are still racking their heads trying to figure out what to do. The old man should call up his best buddy Allard and ask for help getting all this out of here. Damned if I want to spend the next year or more playing yo yo." Corporal Crenshaw said

Leftenant Colonel Mitchell stopped dead in his tracks. "What did you say, Corporal Crenshaw?"

Spinning around so fast he almost fell over, Corporal Crenshaw snapped to attention and waited for the hammer to fall on his head. "Nothing sir, I was just being a smart ass. No offense meant, Sir."

"None taken. Now repeat what you just said." Leftenant Colonel Mitchell replied

"I said that you should call up Allard and ask for help." Corporal Crenshaw said, hoping the Colonel would forget any of the other stuff he had said.

"That is an excellent idea, Corporal Crenshaw. Excellent idea. Now, how about you grab your entrenching tool and go help Master Sergeant Croyle fill in the trenches." Leftenant Colonel Mitchell replied as he walked away.

Corporal Crenshaw looked at his squad mates "You think he meant what he said?" But before anyone could reply, Leftenant Colonel Mitchell's voice said, "Get to it Corporal Crenshaw, and take your squad with you."

  • Author's Note
    Square footage was calculated assuming a Merkava Mk VIII is the same size as a M1A2. I used 140 meters by 140 meters for the Mule's cargo deck, assuming the remaining 18 meters of their canon dimension of 158 meters wide, 158 meters long is piping and such around the cargo bays. Close enough for a story. Each upper cargo deck I used 130 meters by 130 meters for another 180,000 sq feet on each deck.

26 October 3041
Joshua (Former Outworld System)

"How many trips can we make from here to the Jump Point, Chief Zuniga?" Leftenant Colonel Mitchell asked

"With current fuel on hand, about two more trips. But that lake about 3 miles away can provide us with all the fuel we really need. Every fusion power plant can provide us 10 tons of fuel every 8 hours from that lake. If we use those fuel tankers, to shuttle water over, we can avoid boosting the Dropships closer. Why?" Chief Zuniga replied

"No way can we hide this facility that someone actually looking for something will not spot. So how about if we carry all of this to the wrecked station? Make it a little harder for someone to recover at least. Plus, it beats the hell out an almost thirteen day trip each way. That is almost a month of travel for a single trip. Spend the time now and save ourselves the travel time later." Leftenant Colonel Mitchell said

Chief Zuniga did some fast math in his head computing fuel in addition to the food stores they had brought with them before answering "Going to be cutting it close on rations sir, real close."

"We got that covered. Several hundred tons of SLDF combat rations in the depot. How bad can they be after almost 300 years?" Leftenant Colonel Mitchell said

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