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Fool Me Twice

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Re: Fool Me Twice

Postby pennausamike » Sun Apr 03, 2016 7:16 am

A quarter-hour of determined hiking carried Wyatt through and out of the woods, along the tree line of a couple of abandoned crop fields, to the edge of an Alliance defensive perimeter.

As Wyatt walked past three troopers manning a heavy machinegun, he acknowledged the crew-served weapon's sergeant commander with a nod and forefinger to the bill of his helmet. He passed other troopers attending to other details, some unconcernedly milling out in the open; other, likely more experienced troopers, were conscious of where their cover was. Wyatt came to a small trapper's shack that, based on the guard detail at the door, had been commandeered for a temporary command post. Entering, Wyatt saw bored Alliance Colonel David Anthony looking at a combination of view-screen and written information, casually holding a general's baton. Two more armed guards were in the background flanking Anthony. The Colonel likely thought his haughty expression made him appear regal, but to Wyatt he just looked like a zero-combat-experience poser.

Wyatt stood at attention: "Reporting as ordered, sir."

Anthony lifted his head. "Yes Sergeant, at ease. I've been going over these orders regarding the solution of this insurrection..."

Wyatt interjected, "Excuse me sir, I'd hardly call attempting to flee an accusation, an insurrection."

Bothered to have been interrupted, Anthony continued, "Sergeant, if there's shooting involved, I'm defining it as an insurrection which, by the way, rather broadens my powers to bring a swift conclusion to this incident. I'll give you a couple of hours to find whom ever is in charge, make them see reason or make them ready for interrogation."

"And you expect to find out what, sir?" Wyatt asked.

"Who's shipping staple goods off world, illegally," was Colonel Anthony's response.

Wyatt was still not convinced either this discussion OR the assignment was moving in a positive direction.

"Without debating the legitimacy of Alliance control over basic commodities-"

Anthony attempted to cut Wyatt off mid-sentence, "Good thing Sergeant, because I'm sure that is too far afield from your area of expertise."

Wyatt stayed on his conversational direction. "Yes... well... despite the detrimental influence from Core World commodities brokers' kick backs, and Alliance social engineering disguised as selective taxation..."

"Alright Sergeant..."

But Wyatt plowed ahead regardless, "...application of military force to regulate business practices is not SOP. Although we can't prove it, we believe this is a local business, not an appropriate use of lethal force." There, he had gotten it out.

Anthony's face fully registered his indignation at having been rebuked by a lesser rank.

"Your conversational direction, well, I won't define it as treasonous, but you are bordering on insubordination. Sergeant, I'll be receiving these (tosses out General's shoulder pips) to go with this (motions with General's baton) because I get things done."

Wyatt made one last attempt to get his higher ranking but less experienced commander to see the ramifications of his plan of action.

"Yes, sir, only I strongly caution against..."

Anthony wouldn't hear it.

"Enough Sergeant. I'm going to remind you how this works. First, there will be no further discussion regarding the legitimacy of Alliance policy or your orders. Second, I am going to issue your orders to you, you will acknowledge understanding them or seek clarification. You will then carry out your orders to-the-letter-are-we-clear?!"

Wyatt mentally shrugged, he had tried to warn the colonel; then he snapped to and saluted, "Yes, sir!"

Anthony pulled out a viewing pad. "I'll even print your orders out for you, so there's no confusion."
Colonel Anthony started laying out his instructions and orders on the viewing pad.
"Now, there are two courses of action depending on who you are able to..."

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Re: Fool Me Twice

Postby pennausamike » Mon Aug 15, 2016 12:49 am


Well later than an hour after he first left the skirmish field in the woods, Sergeant Wyatt was hustling to return to his command. As he kept moving, he could tell that he was closing in on an intensified battlefield. There was an increase in shooting and indiscriminate shouting. As he approached, Wyatt could see a lot of movement among his own people, but from his vantage point, of the enemy, not so much. There was a shot, a burst of SMG fire, a shot, another burst, a shot and shouted obscenities

Wyatt dropped behind cover with his Corporal. Within a couple of dozen meters, they could hear the outburst of one of the smugglers. "Ahhh!! What the hell. You shot me?!"

About that time the Alliance Locals were closing in on the wounded Rourke, with a ring of Alliance Fed troopers coming up behind them.

Fitzpatrick's excitable deputy got to Rourke first. "That's the whole idea of the guns, bèndàn (dumbass). Now drop the weapon or I'll have to riddle ya with holes!"

Keeping it simple, the more experienced Fitzpatrick stepped in and ordered, "Hands up, weapon on the ground."

By this time Rourke found himself surrounded by eight law enforcement types; Wyatt with four of his armored Alliance troopers and his Med-Tech, plus Lieutenant Fitzpatrick and her deputy. Randell Rourke was a mountain of a man, wearing a years old Independent field coat and cradling his light machinegun like kid’s BB gun, but he set it down as he was ordered to. As the Alliance Corporal reached in to relieve their grounded quarry of his weapon, he barked at the others who were milling in closer, “Step back, 'n case he's got a grenade!”

All Alliance and local fed law enforcement had their guns trained casually; at least until Rourke offered, “Well, I gotta grenade…”

Guns and Intensity came up a few notches.

“…Whoa, whoa, whoa it's in my kit! How many times you purplebellies gotta shoot me 'afor you're satisfied!?”

Wyatt, having had enough of the law enforcement amateur hour, took control.

“Ya only been hit the once son, and we'll be tending to ya in a minute, here.”

Rourke was feeling a little indignant. “Aw hell, it ain't that; just I got me a wound badge with three clusters on it in the War.”

Wyatt answers, but he’s trying to get to the point, “Yeah, well, you Browncoats nailed me a couple times so quit 'cher whining! Alright, before somebody tends to that graze,” Wyatt waves off the medic, “I'll cut right to the chase. I need to talk to someone in charge. In the absence of a face-to-face, the Dortmunder is going to send a couple of blockbusters in as a ‘better luck next time’ present and move on.”

Rourke still lay there, bleeding a little, pouting a little.

“Hey, don't you guys have some kinda rules about tending to the wounded?”

Lieutenant Fitzpatrick, nearly equal to Sergeant Wyatt in experience, is equally impatient to get the show on the road. “You ain't hurt that bad, Randell. Now shut the hell up and listen to the sergeant!”

Wyatt continues, “So, you're gonna take me to your leader, or if you're wounded too bad to go, tell me where to find him, or; I'm going to remand you to local custody, blow the whole site from orbit, and go back to my berth and catch the races on the cortex. Dong Ma?”
Rourke, seemingly not realizing how weak his position (prone) is, retorts, "Now look, buddy..."

Wyatt cuts him off, "That's sergeant."
"Ok... sergeant... You gotta realize I'm not going to rat out my friends," counters Rourke.

"You're not rattin' anybody out," Wyatt says. "I'm not forcing anybody to do anything. But the blockbusters are an inevitability if I don't get a word with somebody in authority. You have my word that that's the way it'll shake out."

Rourke scoffs, "Ha! Your word?! What gorram good's the Alliance's word?"

At this, Sergeant Wyatt's really in Rourke's face. "This ain't the Alliance's word, it's mine. Do you know why I'm a 50 year-old Sergeant?! Cuz I don't back-pat, glad-hand, ass-kiss, yes-man, BS, or brownnose. If I give you MY word, I won't take any one in against their will, you can bet your life on it. Or I'll just shoot you and we'll go hunt down your friends and ask them."

"You'd shoot an unarmed man?!" asks a surprised and mildly incredulous Rourke.

Wyatt shows no sympathy for the supine smuggler. "You weren't unarmed when you were stupid enough to get shot in the ass! I can't spare 2 people to drag you back to camp if I gotta run down your 3 friends and I'm more then a little peeved that you seem to be questioning my honor..."

At this point Randell Rourke's starting to feel a little overwhelmed. If it was just the local cops, this might not be so bad. But these Alliance Feds are just a bunch of ruthless ignoramuses. Trying to put on a brave face, Randell tells Wyatt, "I ain't afraid of death. Faced it a bunch already."

Angling for a break, Wyatt appeals, "And I ain't afraid to kill you, but that buys both of us nuthin'. I won't risk my men's lives to accommodate you, but you don't put me in touch with your head honcho, events are set in motion I got no influence over." He changes his tone to flip, or taunting, "C'mon, you can walk me into a trap if it makes ya feel better."

Rourke unconsciously grasping at straws asks, "You ain't taking nobody in against their will?"

Wyatt shrugs, "I gave you my word."

Rourke puts a hand up. "Alright... Lemme have my radio."

Rourke is handed his confiscated PAL radio by the Alliance corporal.

Rourke presses the button on the one frequency scramble radio.

"Able Fox to Echo Six... Come in. Able Fox to Echo Six... Come in, over."

after a second call out, Echo Six replies over the radio.

"This is Echo Six... Go ahead Able Fox."

Rourke answers back, "I got an Alliance Sergeant here says he needs to have a face-to-face with Echo One."

"Able Fox, you have been captured!" squawks out of the little speaker.

It pains him to say it, but Rourke answers, "That's aye'firmative Echo Six."

"What part of your mission is calling us? I only ask cuz I'm a bit agog at this breach of protocol," asks Echo Six.

At this point Wyatt motions to Rourke, and takes his radio.

"This is UAP Federal Sergeant Wyatt. I've got an ambitious Colonel with his trigger-finger on a ship-load of Blockbusters. I just want a parley with your Dà nǎilào (big cheese.)

Back through the radio comes, "Did you say a ship load or a -"

Wyatt cuts him off. "It's the same thing. A city's worth of misdirected misery, if I don't get a face-to-face."

Echo six responds, "Alright, put Able Fox back on."

Wyatt hands the PAL back to Rourke.

Echo six continues, "Able Fox, bring your Alliance friend," at which comment Rourke bristles, "by way of escape route two."

Rourke answers, "Yeah, I, uh, can't do that Echo Six, I got myself shot." Rourke starts to mumble, "Kinda just below my, you know, rear end," trailing off...
After an e-x-t-e-n-d-e-d pause, Echo Six replies, "Oh-Kay, then point the Sergeant to escape route two and we'll send someone to pick him up."
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Re: Fool Me Twice

Postby pennausamike » Fri Aug 26, 2016 2:13 am

Sergeant Aaron Wyatt waited as patiently as he could while his medic patched up smuggler Randell Rourke. The medic noted that Rourke should get some internal stitching once he was back in town, but that, with help, he could move around for now. With an Alliance Fed trooper dwarfed on either side, Rourke led Wyatt to a path hidden behind some tangled brush. Some instructions on directions and simple landmarks, and Wyatt was on his way. He walked at an easy pace, weapon slung and out in the open. He was trying to find his contact, not get into a firefight with he/ she/ them. At this point he was on his own and winging it; not an entirely unfamiliar set of circumstances for a veteran of many skirmishes on a couple of handfuls of planets..

Further up ahead in a small clearing, Wyatt's smuggler contact was just arriving. Wearing a fringed buckskin jacket over a black and gold silk blouse, the slight and fair young woman's facial features were set in hard, determined lines. Quintan Shang removed a silencer from her kit and began deliberately screwing it on the muzzle of her pistol/carbine. She didn't want to be here and she didn't want to be playing guide to any Alliance scum. "This filthy Purplebelly gives me any grief, I’ll kill his ass and nobody needs be the wiser," she thought to herself. "I'll just say he never showed up." There might, maybe have been the faintest trace of a grin on her face at the thought of extracting a wee-bit of payback against the mighty Alliance.

Slightly later UAP Sergeant Wyatt entered in to the small clearing to be met by the armed young woman. Quintan Shang motioned for Wyatt to put his hands up, and stepping forward, relieved Wyatt of his drum-fed SMG, pistols, and bandoleer of grenades. Despite her internal monologue of bravado, Shang was slightly unnerved by Wyatt's calm in spite of being apparently defenseless. Of course, part of Wyatt's calm was the result of knowing, from a couple of prior experiences, how restricted his captor now was, burdened by all his gear in addition to her own.

Shang motioned with the silenced muzzle of her little carbine down another path leading away from the wooded clearing.

"C'mon Let's go. Keep yer han's up, an' don't be holdin' me up, none."
As they hiked along, some time had passed, and by now Wyatt had hands resting on his helmet.

Indicating his up-raised hands, Wyatt queried, "Is this necessary?"

"Up to you," Shang offered, "but put 'em down and I'll shootcha."

Wyatt countered, "What if I got an itch?"

Quintan Shang answered, with what Wyatt perceived to be an almost hopeful tone, "Be the last itch you EVER scratch."

Wyatt gave an unspoken al-right-y then, and continued on. After they had walked on for a fair way, Wyatt could see the edge of the woods and what looked like a farm in the distance. Wyatt, followed by Shang, started trudging across an untended field. About halfway across Wyatt was surprised to see two seated civilians; not camouflaged per say, but just clothed that they blended into their surroundings. Each was armed with an identical scoped rifle. They looked blankly at Wyatt, but he looked back to see them acknowledge his young guard. One of the pair got up to accompany them, apparently to the cluster of buildings that was a couple of hundred meters ahead.
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Re: Fool Me Twice

Postby pennausamike » Sat Oct 01, 2016 7:44 pm

Wyatt and his escorts approached the lower level of the barn. Like the rest of the farm, it seemed to be fairly recently falling into disrepair from purposeful neglect or abandonment. Well, not exactly abandonment; there had to be at least a dozen armed civilians milling about. The ersatz sniper who had walked in from the field with them split off to talk to one of the groups. Wyatt and Shang walked into the downstairs of the barn. There was a fair amount of hay, but it had been there for a long time and had an odd, rancid smell. A handful of armed men were spaced out around half of the perimeter, and there were two chairs, one occupied and one not, in the center of the radius of guards. Wyatt was pretty sure this arena was for his benefit. Oh, well; at least it looked more like an interrogation than an execution.

Quintan Shang unloaded her pile of confiscated ordnance with one of the perimeter guards, all while still keeping her shiny little carbine pointed at Wyatt. On second glance, she was the ONLY one actually pointing a weapon at the Sergeant.

"Here he is, undamaged like you asked," she said. To Wyatt, with a wave of her weapon, "Ok, put 'em down. Gorram purplebelly."

Although it is potentially the least of his problems, Wyatt's just a might irritated. Arms still sore, and now beginning to tingle from the blood returning to 'em.
Directed at Shang, he asks, "Problem?"

"My brother was in the 38th. He was killed by the likes of you at the battle of Du-Khang," she answers coldly.

Wyatt's not heartless.

"I got shot at Du-Khang. Tough outfit, we didn't get anything cheap from the 38th."

Shang reacts a little. Not happy, but maybe a small hint of satisfaction / redemption.
At this point, the seated man in the old, Independents officer's duster addressed Shang, "Alright Quintan, you can go now."

With a casual-not-quite-a-salute, Shang answers, "Yessir", and takes her leave.

Seated man, with his machine carbine on his lap, watches her leave, and after she is out of earshot, he turns to Wyatt.
"Ok, what was that? You startin' off with lies? If you were at Du-Khang, you know the Alliance rolled through the 38th like Tōngguò é fèihuà (crap thru a goose.)

Wyatt knows the unit was poorly trained and rushed into battle. They were as lambs led to the slaughter.
"Coulda been me or one a' my men killed her brother. No need to sully his name and take her memories from her, too."

The seated man's face relaxes slightly to an expression of, Alright, I'll give you that. He then waves Wyatt to the empty chair.
"So, to the matter at hand. What vexes me is what an Alliance Sergeant is offering me to justify concessions or incarceration on my part?"

Wyatt walks behind the seat and places one hand on the back. "What I'm offering you... Speaking of you, you look familiar. Should I be addressing you by a name or is Echo One good enough?"

Seated Man indicates himself. "Rancher Dan Anderson. We use call signs cause we figure the Alliance monitors everything. If they misconstrue some perfectly legitimate, innocent business dealings as a violation of their latest edict, we don't want 'em knockin' on our door."

Wyatt nods agreement, but, "And yet here I am, Rancher Dan Anderson." Wyatt scrutinizes his opposite for a second. "I believe eight years ago it was General 'Digger' Dan Anderson. Seeing as you're a military man and not just simply a rancher, I'll tell you why I'm here in military terms. General, you've been out flanked and out gunned and you're facing an enemy who'll gladly pull the trigger on your whole way of life for 3 gold pips and a seat at the generals' dinner table."

Anderson is annoyed, pfft, dismissive! "You?!"

Wyatt answers, possibly more annoyed than Anderson. "Me?! Hell no. I've caused and dodged too much death to be that frivolous with life. I'm talking about the patrol ops Colonel on the Dortmunder."

Anderson just wants to get on with it. "All right, sergeant, assuming for the moment that I accept your assessment, and want to appease the Alliance, what am I expected to do?"

With the "introductions" over, Wyatt can get to the purpose of his mission. "Well actually, Sir, for a simple trade violation investigation, supported by a lethal force authorized military mission, the terms are fairly generous. I was told to bring back a letter of intent to comply, or a subject for questioning, or a straight-up prisoner. And, of course, the authorized use of a pair of Blockbusters gives you a 4th choice, (makes quote signs with fingers) bombing-victim."

Wyatt takes a seat. "I'm thinking bombing-victim and prisoner are the bad choices. Interrogation-subject depends on the interrogator so... writing and signing a letter of compliance would seem the least objectionable. That would be a binding letter, of course, carrying increased penalties for violations."

Anderson folds his arms in front of his chest. "So tell me sergeant, which of those choices would you deem the most honorable?"

What can Wyatt say? "In the final analysis, sir, none of them. But I think the letter offers the best chance to fall back and preserve what you can of your present situation."

Anderson's belligerence makes the start of a return. "You showing your Alliance colors, sergeant? Like at Serenity Valley, where shoveling soldiers into the open maw of a meat grinder was packaged as a noble defeat and 'the first step on the path to unification'?"

Wyatt spreads both his hands. Training says its supposed to demonstrate openness. "Give me a little credit, General. I'm not trying to spray perfume on manure and package it as something it's not. And frankly, I'm less than impressed that most of my Rim-World assignments of the last few years seem geared towards funneling ex-Independent business activities into benefiting Core-World power brokers. But I don't think it's about honor, sir, it's about survival."

Anderson shakes his head. "I can't make that call, again. I can't trade our freedom for a promise of limited security." He chuckles mirthlessly. "You sergeants are always the grease in the cogs and the fly in the ointment. After we made the decision to surrender at Serenity Valley, a sergeant from the 57th Overlanders radioed in to verify the orders. When I heard him cursing the Radio Operator, I told the RO to put me on. What ensued was the most epic ass-chewing up OR down the chain-of command I've ever been witness to." Anderson shrugs, "That sergeant and the few thousand in that valley fought on, unwilling to accept Alliance rule." The ex-General lowered his eyes, and it was as if a little air had been let out of a balloon. "After the war, the sergeant's words ate at me. He had verbalized my own crushing disappointment and sense of shame for accepting defeat."

Wyatt had been on the victorious side, but the legendary viciousness of the Independents' last desperate stand at Serenity Valley meant his memories of that time were of relief more than elation. At that, Wyatt gets up from his chair, feeling that he thinks better on his feet, even if it does make the ring of guards nervous. "Sometimes saving people is more important than saving their pride. Second World War, Earth-That-Was. Japan, millions dead, empire gone, cut off; Sending hand-built wooden suicide fighters against their enemy's ships and 60-ton, silver bombers flying so high over their cities they were mere specks in the sky. And millions more died as they fought on to inevitable defeat. Who was their leadership helping by refusing to surrender? Where's the line between nobility and futility?"

Anderson shrugs. "I don't know, sergeant, but I'm come back around to the belief that it's not the Alliance's place to draw that line for any man. We deserve the freedom to choose for ourselves. A man can only live down so much humiliation in a lifetime 'fore he ain't a man no more."

Wyatt pauses. "So where does that leave us?"

Anderson returns, "You tell me... I'm NOT going to be forced to sell my cattle for a break-even price, determined by a bureaucrat, in a market that only benefits the tax collectors. I need to make a REAL profit, and I can do it by selling my stock to people who really need it."

Wyatt finds himself forced into a wry grin. "I'm gonna have a hard time sugarcoatin' THAT, General..."

Anderson looks straight at Wyatt. "What I don't get, is why you even want to?"

Wyatt is taken aback. "Whaddaya mean?"

Anderson lays it out for him. "You're no bureaucrat. You got guts, coming here alone. You seem like a man who values honor. You said yourself you are dissatisfied with your assignments. Why bother?"

At this point Sergeant Wyatt is a little unsure of where this is going. "It's what I'm trained to do. Duty; I take care of my people when no one else cares to. And, I'm getting' close to pensioning out."

One of the guards steps forward from the perimeter group. He is Buddy Lee Creek, whose Independent battle decorations would be a pretty good match to Wyatt's collection of Alliance medals and ribbons, if either man was given to showing off their chest candy. Buddy Lee was an ex-combat officer, though. The squad support weapon with grenade launcher he was carrying meant business, as did its owner.

Creek leans in to Dan Anderson. "General, may I?"

Anderson nods, "Sure..."

Creek faces Wyatt. "And that big pension, sergeant; gonna take lots of exciting vacations? See the 'verse, buy all the very best toys?"

Wyatt's internal answer is a profane, are you effin' nuts?! But his mouth keeps it civil with, "On a sergeants pension?! Of course not!"

Creek gives Wyatt a slightly scornful look. "So what then? You gonna pull up an easy chair and stare at the Cortex all day?" That's a score, and Creek knows it.

Wyatt is losing ground, here, and he knows it, too. "Naw, I'll probably end up working. Maybe a security job... somethin' like that..."

Creek keeps pushing. "So a guy like you, responsible for people, risked your life, years of service. That's how you want to end out your life?"

Wyatt flounders a little. What happened to his negotiation? "Not really, that's why I've stayed out on patrol to the end."

Anderson, watching from his chair, says to Wyatt, "I dunno sergeant, sounds like your uniform might just be the wrong color, after all."

Although not his intent, in a single sentence Wyatt sums up all the simmering discontent that the bloodiest conflict in human history failed to make go away. "Yeah, well, there's plenty in the Alliance for whom the cost of Unification exceeds the value."
Last edited by pennausamike on Sun Oct 02, 2016 8:00 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Fool Me Twice

Postby pennausamike » Sun Oct 02, 2016 5:19 am

Creek has a new angle; or, at least another tangent from his original point. "So let me ask you sergeant, what would that pension be worth on a Rim-World?"
Wyatt, who had always just accepted that he would return to his home world, tries to hide the Holy-Crap-I-Never-Thought-Of-That-Before look.
Creek continues, "Hard Alliance currency on a planet like Hera, here, only recently receiving the benefits of Unification?"

Something in the phrasing puts Wyatt on alert. "Benefits?"

Anderson joins in, "Sure, benefits, like a new maze of Rules and Regulations to adhere to."

Wyatt's getting where this is going. "Or to circumvent."

Creek rejoins with, "Exactly! And who better to guide the way around those Rules and Regulations than a person responsible for enforcing them?"

Wyatt is intrigued by the scenario laid out by Buddy Lee Creek. "Something like an Alliance Revenue Service accountant going to work for a defense contractor. As entertaining as your suggestion is, I'm still responsible to my current assignment. I need an agreement, a subject for questioning or a prisoner..." Wheels humming, gears grinding, Wyatt "hmmms" to himself. "Or... a target. What is this place, General?"

Anderson answers, "It's a settlement that failed. Soil's no good, so everybody moved on."

"That must be why this was made the main storage facility for illegal off-world trade." Wyatt motions around the mostly empty barn. "All this contraband everywhere, my, my."

Creek's getting it. "Yes, it would look like a good target from orbit."

"Sure," says Wyatt "and if you file the right paperwork, you can even get reconstruction money from the Alliance for blowing it up."

Anderson's not minding this a bit, but... "That sounds a bit underhanded, sergeant?"

Wyatt's unconcerned. "Not at all. My men are safe, Your men will be safe, and the Alliance will have proven that they are willing to use lethal, military options to enforce economic laws. I imagine my commander, Colonel Anthony, will get everything he deserves for that decision."

Anderson asks, "What about you, sergeant?"

Wyatt absently agrees. "Yeah, I'm kinda still workin' that part. I don't really want to report back after this mess, but I don't want to lose my pension, either." Wyatt seems to have found a resolution. "OK, get all your people in here."

Ex-General Dan Anderson stands and motions to one of the perimeter guards, who takes his leave. Anderson turns back to Wyatt. "You comfortable with this decision, sergeant? That seems a pretty quick switch in loyalties?"

Wyatt answers, nonplussed. "We're good, General. I've felt this way quite awhile. Just never had an escape hatch. Now I'm going to follow my final orders to-the-letter and finish out my career recovering from combat injuries here on Hera."
With Buddy Lee Creek's nod of approval, one of the perimeter guards returns Wyatt's gear and weapons to him.

All the local Browncoats enter, including Quintan Shang, cutting off further discussion.

Wyatt continues, now to the group. He's in charge of his mission again. "Everybody, Listen Up! OK, folks, here's the deal -"

Shang's gun comes up aimed at Wyatt. "What the hell, General, yer turnin' us in?!"

Creek pushes the gun down. "No, Quintan! We're leaving and the sergeant's savin' our bacon, so do what your told!"

Shang is maybe a little chagrined. She STILL didn't get to kill a gorram purplebelly...

Wyatt is not excited or panicky, but firm and sure. "You're all getting out of here in a minute. Two Blockbusters are going to be hot on your tails, blast radius 500 meters each, concussion up to three kliks beyond that. I'll give you about thirty minutes, so don't tuō tuōlā lā fùxián (dilly-dally)."

Shang mutters, but loud enough to be heard, "Pro'ly launch 'em early..."

Wyatt hears her. "I'd be blown up too, darlin'. Oh, and everyone leave any electronic gear you got here in a pile on the floor. If the Dortmunder picks up any electronic signatures it scanned on this site, a team will be sent to hunt down the user. Radios, cortex access devices; hell, I guess watches and hand-held games; Anything you ain't willing to die for."

All the Browncoats look at each other for a moment, but decide it must be true. A pile of gizmos forms on the floor.

Wyatt continues, "All right. Everybody out!"

Once again, there is no panic, but nobody screws around either. Except the Browncoat Ex-General, who shakes Wyatt's hand. "Good Luck, sergeant."

Wyatt affirms, "And to you, sir."

Anderson's still not convinced. "You gonna be alright?"

Wyatt reassures him. "Don't worry, General, we'll toast my brush with death about eight weeks from now, when I'm officially retired!"

And with that, Wyatt is alone in the barn. He checked his watch, calculating at what point each phase of his plan has to unfold. Wyatt the removed his helmet and set it on the chair seat vacated by Dan Anderson.
He then removed his armor and placed it neatly on the chair back. Even knowing it wouldn't survive, he couldn't bring himself to toss it aside. At times bulky and uncomfortable, it didn't matter. Wyatt needed two hands and even some toes to count the number of times that high-tech tortoise shell had saved his life. But the armor was lo-jacked, and the helmet was part of his radio equipment, so like the Browncoats' electronic devices, it had to stay. A few minutes later and Wyatt had the other chair pulled over by the one with the armor.

Seated there, Wyatt checks his watch, un-holsters one of his pistols and picks up his radio. He keys the mic. "This is Sergeant Aaron Wyatt authorization code 'Sihnon's Gift' to be delivered on my beacon at 18:10 local time. When you have my mark, give me the go-code and proceed, over."

A quarter of a world away in the Fire Control Room of the Dortmunder, a young Fire Control Tech picks up Wyatt's call on her comm gear. She matches Wyatt's name to his signal on the screen in front of her. "This is Fire Control Dortmunder. Go ahead."
Wyatt repeats his message.

The tech uses the console to zoom in on the barn. Crosshairs appear on it.
"Alright," the FCT responds, "We have a lock. Time-on-target is 12 minutes from your confirmation and mark."
Over her radio the Fire Control Tech hears two fast pistol shots followed by a burst of submachinegun fire. She then hears the obviously stressed sergeant, "This is UAP Sergeant Aaron Wyatt Ah-firmative and... mark!"
The FCT triggers first one, and then the second missile launch. She tracks them on her screen, starting to arc away from the city-ship I.A.V. Dortmunder, beginning their curved approach to their planetary target. "Big Buddy One and Two are go. Tee-Oh-Tee is 12 minutes and counting down." Only static, then dead air answers her back through the radio....

In the barn basement Purplebelly Sergeant Wyatt looked somewhat wistfully at his armor for about 2 seconds. "So many years..." he thought. Wyatt slung his submachine gun, holstered his pistol and then turns and jogs from barn.

Last edited by pennausamike on Sun Oct 02, 2016 8:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Fool Me Twice

Postby pennausamike » Sun Oct 02, 2016 7:58 pm

Act Three

By this time Colonel David Anthony had made his way to the fire control console with Fire Control Tech.
Anthony was glowering at the arcing path being described on multiple screens on the console.
"And they've already been launched?" he asked.

The Fire Control Tech sensed more to the question than the obvious answer seen on her screens. "On the sergeant's authorization, per your orders, sir."

Anthony was just disgusted. All these stupid Independents had to do was sign a damn piece of paper, or if they wouldn't do that, show up and make up some excuse. And that half-wit he sent to talk sense into these greedy morons...
"Well, where is the Sergeant now?"

The FCT pointed to the target screen. "His beacon is still at the target site he called in, sir. I heard shots. I guess he's pinned down."

Anthony couldn't contain himself. "Gorram it, he's going to screw up the casualty-free status of my mission!"

Sotto voce, not looking at Anthony, the FCT muttered, "Won't do much for his day, either..."

Arms crossed on his chest, Alliance Colonel David Anthony could only stand helplessly, scowling at the Fire Control Tech.

Back on another escape path through the woods, the Browncoats are pushing ahead briskly, leaving the blast zone behind them. The Blockbusters hit with a winking flash and at about ten seconds the rumbling impact could be felt and then heard.
Bringing up the rear of the small group, Anderson looks to Buddy Lee Creek. "I hope he made it..."

The next nine weeks passed fairly uneventfully on Hera. The I.A.V. Dortmunder moved on to meddle in another government manufactured crisis elsewhere, a number of small businesses were able to secure lucrative (though not entirely legal) contracts to ship their goods off-world, and the planetary population increased by a few thousand souls; one of whom was a retired Alliance Sergeant. This event was apparently worthy of a celebration at a decidedly NOT Alliance friendly bar. Browncoat memorabilia is very much in evidence on the walls of this fine establishment. There are pictures and maps and displays commemorating the sacrifice of a number of gallant Independent units. The only sign of which side of victory the Independents ended up on, is a poster commemorating the birth of unification at Serenity Valley; a poster with a giant red "X" spray painted across it, bullet holes through it, and the names and sentiments of Independent survivors and families written all over it. A waitress moves between her tables in one corner of the bar. At one table is a fairly high stakes game of Tall Card, another is a small group of workers from the local Blue Sun shipyard, and last is two tables pushed together for a rather loud group whose loyalties are worn prominently on their sleeves. In fact, the clothing of most of the laughing, partying folks at the table seems to be kind of a brownish color, including a VERY differently attired Sergeant Wyatt. Also amongst the crowd are General Anderson, Buddy Lee Creek, and Quintan Shang. Who is obviously feeling no pain, apparently at the end of what has everybody laughing. "Aw, shoot-hell," she says, slightly swaying, "I guess I'm glad I didn't shoot you, ya purplebelly bastard."

Wyatt, who owns this story, laughingly agrees. "Ha! Me too! Anyway, 'til they sorted through the MIA reports and the local doctor's reports and the mission reports and re-routed and re-filed everything after I filed MY reports; guess what?! I was retired! And I even got a medal!"

Creek is calling BS when he hears it. "It's just a wound badge, you gutless faker! If you hadn't fallen into those rocks running away from the blast-zone, even that would be a total lie instead of just a gross exaggeration!"

Wyatt feigns mock indignation as the laughter continues.....then trails off as Lieutenant Amber Fitzpatrick approaches the table.

Fitzpatrick, who overheard at least some of this tale, approaches the table with a bit of a grin. "So, Sergeant, recovered nicely from those nasty 'blast wounds', I see."

Wyatt, in an ill-concealed burst of fake sincerity raises his glass. "To modern medicine."

Fitzpatrick, who liked and trusted the sergeant on their brief assignment, answers, not insincerely, "Well, good for you, sergeant. Oh, and here, I printed out a little piece of news for you that came over the official channels. Intended for one of the garrison commanders on Shadow." She hands Wyatt an official UAP forces communiqué.

Wyatt starts reading it, then switches to reading aloud, "Captain David Anthony; ouch! Dropped two full ranks!" Wyatt grins. "Blah-blah-blah, your most recent unsatisfactory performance review, blah-blah-blah, and here's the best part, General Oberholtzer, your uncle-in-law, will no longer have input into your performance reviews as he has been indicted on charges of misappropriation of Alliance defense funding." Wyatt hands the paper back to Fitzpatrick. "I KNEW having those ridiculous printed orders would be pure gold. Now he'll have to make it on his own merits. I can't imagine a better end for that pompous pigu (ass). No-longer-a-sergeant Aaron Wyatt raises glass again, and drinks. "Another round on me. Care to join us, Lieutenant?"

Fitzpatrick hesitates for a moment, "I would but I'm still... oh, hell." She hands her hat and jacket to the waitress. "Count me in!"

General Anderson raises his glass to toast. "To good friends, bad enemies and second chances!"

All at the table lift their glasses, "Hear, hear!"

And fade out to


And so, there it is, what I had hoped would be the introduction to the adventures of some characters I liked, in circumstances I thought would be fun to explore further. I have already completed the outline for the next chapter in the saga of "fish out of water" Sgt. Wyatt. I planned the next adventure to come in at an hour-plus, with the idea that, joined up with the first half hour of "Fool Me Twice", they would combine to make a movie. But of course, that was predicated on the idea that the response to FMT was positive. I also envisioned a couple of short 5-minute vignettes to go with the main story; just little character pieces to accent the motivations and decisions seen in the primary story arc.

To tease a little of the currently dormant second chapter, Wyatt and his rancher friends run afoul of a system-wide crime syndicate that feels entitled to muscle in on the ranchers' business dealings. But, our ranchers are a pretty tough bunch, and Wyatt made a few interesting connections during his 30 years in the service; including with a group of Alliance federal level law enforcement folks who moonlight as revolutionaries looking to reign in the Alliance with its own laws. Browncoat Captain Buddy Lee Creek and Alliance Sergeant Aaron Wyatt work well together, but occasionally butt heads on the ethics of "honest-but-illegal-work", and Wyatt gets an unexpected surprise when an old flame from the service hears that he retired to Hera, and decides she should look him up. And did I mention that the crime syndicate bad guy skins people with tattoos for office art? Wyatt even gets to wear the armor of an Alliance Fed Sergeant, again.
I'm not sure if or when I'll get much further on that without a winning lottery ticket, but, we'll see!

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Re: Fool Me Twice

Postby Fanfromthefirst » Thu Oct 06, 2016 11:40 pm

Great work Mike ! Here's to you winning the lottery so we can see this made !
"Wanna meet the 'real' me now ?"
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Re: Fool Me Twice

Postby pennausamike » Fri Oct 07, 2016 6:28 am

Fanfromthefirst wrote:Great work Mike ! Here's to you winning the lottery so we can see this made !

Thanks, and hopefully it is a little entertaining as a story because
(with lottery odds at about 1 in 292 million)
it's not looking good for FMT to ever see the light of day as a film.

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Re: Fool Me Twice

Postby Miker » Wed Oct 12, 2016 9:15 pm

I'll comment by saying, viewed 4158 times Mike. That's saying something. :serenity1:
"If anyone gets nosy, just...you know... shoot em"
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Re: Fool Me Twice

Postby pennausamike » Sun Oct 16, 2016 3:32 pm

Miker wrote:I'll comment by saying, viewed 4158 times Mike. That's saying something. :serenity1:

Yes, thank you; I only hope more than half of them aren't just me checking back on the thread :-)

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