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Cassie Granger

Total Recall

Conyer Training Base

April 1, 2281

0230 hours


Spring came late on the Alaveris Plateau, the fickle change of seasons bringing severe unpredictable storms off Kane Mountain. Born on the polar ice caps, they swept across the promontory’s massive glacier, then barrelled down its slopes to slam across the savanna, digging its fingers into the powdery topsoil, uprooting dead shrubs, and swirling into towering dust devils that mounted a full-on assault against the invaders. Soon sleet and freezing rain joined the fray as the invading team crept cautiously toward a limestone overhang some distance away.


Rising barely two meters above the rocky ground, clumps of grass, dirt, and shrubs had been packed into the sole windbreak by a merciless wind, but Kilo team hoped it would give enough shelter to plan their next move.


"Red just took Bravo," said a female voice over the com as the group pressed against the leeward side, slipping into position to cover their perimeter. The speaker, a tall blonde stretched long and unimpressive in the flattened scrub, pulled up her night-vision Leupold to scour the area.


“O’Neill, get me a take on Blue nearby,” she said, lowering the scope to pull the area grid up on her slate. "Red's Charlie post is ten clicks due north,” she mused, scanning the slate for possible objectives, “ too far, well defended, and not enough time. Blue Sierra’s compromised. The only Blue left is Lima. Okay, ladies,” she looked up, “we have five hours left. I need a decision. Moa?"


To the untrained eye, the massive bulk of a Maori warrior pressed in on right flank was another mogul in the landscape. His voice on the com was deep and deceptively calm and smooth. "Sierra can't hold out much longer,” he replied pensively. “Delta's already Red. We only have one left and the condition it’s in, one team’s not going to make much difference."


A snort cut into the conversation.


"Spit it out before it rots your guts, Danny," the leader sighed as she rolled to a hunch and shifted slate schematics to look at it from another angle.


"Yeah we got one left,” said the kid, “and they got a few more. But….”


The pause had cautionary overtones. “But what?” she pressed.


“The snake. It's damn close... and way too juicy to ignore. I say we cut off the head and hang it out to dry. Poor bastards won't expect it, and they won't know what hit 'em.”


The team leader paused to give the lance corporal a good, long look. "You wanna take out Cobra." Not a question, it was laced with unbelief.


"Well, Gunnery Sergeant, it's either use it or lose it. I got a couple hundred rounds left, and that ain’t much. Rats are short. Time’s running out.” An agitated breath blew into the com.


GySgt Granger sighed skeptically into hers. "Right. Anyone else want to chance a career cluster frag by takin’ out Big Mac?"


"Kid's got a point," drawled O’Neill, firmly entrenched on left flank, the crunch of an energy bar punctuating his comment. “Hell, my career's about over anyway, and it’s about time someone took Mac down a notch."


"And a kick in the ass from a Marine team would take him down more than a notch, Jack,” she snapped. “He could - and probably will - hang us all out to dry, then thumb his nose at the admiral, and then the admiral gets a piece of us.”


Granger flipped up her visor and drew her keffiyeh tight against the swirling sleet and dust, her lungs straining for one breath of unrecycled air. A few forced inhales and she pinched the bridge of her nose to stem a growing headache from hunger and fatigue. “Hector? Tasha?" she polled the two remaining team members.


"With you," came from both.


Taking out the opposition’s command base of operations was considered taboo, though no one ever figured out why. It didn’t go against the established rules of engagement, it was just taboo, like a gentleman’s agreement. But there had to be a first time, and it was their best option.


After another look at the area grid, Granger secured her slate, tucked in the scarf, and flipped down her visor to engage the night-vision for one more complete scan.


"A'ight," she sighed. “O’Neill, check in with Hammer Base. Give our present position, but damn, Jack… do not tell ‘em where we’re goin.” By this time her breath had formed ice around her helmet vent, a sign of plummeting temperatures that signaled an approaching dawn.


“Danny, get us a clear shot. We have…” she tapped her helmet to check the time, “...2 hours 17 minutes before first light. Let's get out of this fish bowl and show 'em what we're made of."


Three hours later, a half-frozen, mud-encrusted scruffy team of Marines, bodies reeking from over a week of war games, picked their way through Red Team’s Cobra Base, ignoring derogatory looks and comments from personnel marked killed and wounded, while their breakfast froze in the early morning chill. After a thorough sweep, the base commander capitulated and GySgt Cassidy Granger, flanked by LCpl Danny Souter and GySgt Gleason Momoa, strode into Red Team’s Command and Control Center.


General MacIntyre, Federation Army and Joint Special Operations Command Division commander, met them just inside the command shelter. Arms crossed, standing proud, his toned six foot five inch frame was more imposing than usual in his well-worn Combat Utility Uniform. Beside him, Colonel Sanderson mirrored the general's stoic but piercing expression. Observers and a security detail stood ready but kept their distance.


MacIntyre was a universal legend. One of the most respected senior officers in the Federation Armed Forces, he was a true leader who stood behind his troops one hundred percent. He was Army Proud, but able to work with anyone in any branch. He got to know his troops personally, always stayed on the field with them, and had often gone outside the wire himself to rescue a downed soldier. There wasn’t a man or woman who wouldn’t take a hit for him. He was a master tactician, and by all rights the Marine team should not have been able to outmaneuver him.


Putting the legend aside, Cass removed her helmet and tucked it firmly beneath her left arm, came to attention, snapped a salute, then spoke with crisp authority.


“General MacIntyre, sir! In the name of Blue Team, and by the rules of Operation Ready Man, I declare you and your forces prisoners of war and require your capitulation, sir!”


After a long pause, the general stepped into her personal space, towering over her. "Gutsy move, Gunnery Sergeant, attacking Red’s base of operations," he commented dryly, his chin jutting out in judgment as his eyes raked her up and down.


"Gutsy opposition, Sir,” she replied, standing her ground. “No other choice."


The General regarded the three for a long moment, lips pursed, but his expression slowly softened as he chewed on his thoughts before responding.


"Red Force capitulates to Blue Force, Gunnery Sergeant,” he stated flatly. “Transport’s standing by. Get aboard, get your sorry asses outta here, and for god’s sake, take a shower."




Boon Medical Center

Starbase 179

July 18, 2297

24 hours post docking


Staring at the ceiling just didn’t cut it. Every ceiling in every sick bay, med bay, hospital, you name it, looked the same no matter where you were. They needed some swirls or designs or pictures up there. Yeah, pictures. Ship-to-ship combat, atmo dog-fights, teams in training, tactical equipment….


Granger was going stir-crazy. Having a lot of time to think, she had begun to remember past operations, especially Operation Ready Man, the annual Army-Navy maneuvers on Conyer, when she was in the field with a team. Putting a Marine anywhere but in the fight was like chaining a Malinois and giving it the take-down command. She was straining at the bit, pulling at the chain…. Revere!* First class non-lethal force on point....


“Hey, Marine.”


The last voice she expected to hear jerked her out of her thoughts.


“Major Ishiiu!” She sat up as best she could. Surprise was an understatement; Ishiiu was assigned to battalion, not anywhere close to Starbase 179. She wanted to ask what he was doing there or if there was something she should know about, but at this point she was just glad to see him.


“Striker.” He pulled up a chair. “I was passing by and heard you had a disagreement with a chair, so I brought you the latest Leatherneck to keep you busy.”


Leatherneck was the premiere magazine of the Marine Corps, and this edition had a glossy cover illustration highlighting the latest combat gear for ship-to-ship incursions, and the main article explored close quarters tactics with civilians in the line of fire. Granger’s eyes lit up.


“So you were just passing by,” she said a little skeptically.


“Well, in a manner of speaking. I would have passed by if I kept going.”


“Right,” she replied, grinning. “And the chair was a lose-lose situation. I took it out; it took my ribs out and messed up my insides. You come to bail me outta here, sir?”


“Me against medical?” He scoffed. “Talk about a lose-lose situation. But my guess? A couple days and they’ll kick you out the door just to get rid of your sorry ass." His signature grin lit up his face, triggering one from her as she held up the Leatherneck.


“Thanks for the magazine, Major. Appreciate it.” She put it aside and gave him a skeptical look. “So, 179 is pretty far from battalion, it’s not on the way to anywhere important, and you seem to have come here to see me. Something coming down the Intel wire that can’t come over the line?”


“Colonel Branson thought I needed a trip,” he replied casually, pausing like there was more coming, so she waited.

“He’s putting together a SOG* for JSOC* and wants you aboard.”


After a minute she said, “Analyst?”




She smiled. “Revere?”


“You got it.”


The smile broadened. “What’s the mission?”


“Well, we’re going to climb aboard this thing, go there, get this thing, take it there, come back.”


She dropped her gaze to think, then ticked her head to look at him. “I get a choice?”


He nodded. “A request, not an order. If you’re in, your fully vested; if you’re not in, that’s it.”


“How long do I get to decide?”


“Well, assuming you said yes, we were due at Division today. Your disagreement with that chair in Flight OPS put that back a bit, but General Mac says to take your time.”


She blinked. “General MacIntyre... wants me?”


“Hell, Cass. Where do you think I got that hard copy of Leatherneck? They’re pretty hard to come by and he wanted to get your attention.”


Her eyes dropped to the magazine in her lap, then she gave a teasing grin, “And here I thought you brought it out of the kindness of your heart.”


“Well, I would have,” he said, feigning embarrassment, “but command has a monopoly on those; you know that. Does it count if it was my idea?”


“Only if you didn’t read it on the way out.”


“Well… I couldn’t just let it sit there all on its own, unattended, now could I?”


Enjoying every minute of this, Granger flipped through the pages. “So… let me see. Desk or field… desk or field. Hard choice, Sir.” She shook her head, milking it, then replied, “I’m in.”


“Okay. The official orders will say you’re transferred back to battalion. Heal up. I’ll be waiting.” Ishiiu stood to leave, then turned to point at her lap. “And guard that magazine with your life. I have not read it yet.”


* The “pursue and detain” command for a Military Working Dog (MWD), usually a Belgian Malinois.

* SOG - Special Operations Group

* JSOC - Joint Special Operations Command, with personnel from all branches of the service

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