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Röt Hafen Saga, Chapter 2-1

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Note: This chapter references Karla's Kidnap by Robert Deacon which can be read on Brian Bell's Full Thrust fiction page.

Lancaster, New Michigan
15 July, 2184, 0700 (Local)

The brisk morning air held a faint scent of evergreen as Charlie Lawrence ran along a forest path on the reservoir. Dried fur needles muffled his steps and he was alone with his heavy breathing as he pushed himself up the steep hill. Upon reaching he crest he kept up the fast pace for another hundred meters, then relaxed a bit as he exited the forest path and turned right on to ridge road and toward home. He picked up the pace again for he last five hundred meters to the front steps of his house. He walked for five minutes, stretched, and went inside to prepare his morning coffee.

Upstairs, his wife Anne was still sleeping peacefully. After all it was only 7 am and since the baby was not yet awake, there was no reason for her to get up either. Charlie showered, then had his coffee as he viewed the download of Morning Edition. Nothing much cooking round the universe today, he thought. Good.

Charlie finished his coffee and tip toed upstairs to his bedroom. The baby was already awake and cooing. He knew his six month old son, Gregory, would start yelping for breakfast soon so he picked him up and carried him quietly into he bedroom and laid him down atop Anne. She began to stir, a big smile spreading across her drowsy face.

"Hey what are my two guys up to this morning?" She said as she stretched.

"Both of us are looking for a little nip," he said wryly.

"Yeah well back of the line, Bub. Gregory gets first divs on breakfast."

"You're the boss!"

"So today's the big day!" Said Anne.

"You bet Hon. Gonna sign those closing papers at noon. Then the place will be ours." Charlie scoped his son and turned to the mirror. "Look Gregory. Who's that with daddy?" The boy smiled, which warmed his dad's heart. There was a resemblance between the two. They both had a dark complexion, green eyes and dark brown hair. Despite his 38 years and his line of work, there was not a touch of gray in his short hair. Nor was there any fat on his 5'9", 170lb runner's frame. Nor any worry lines on his young face.

"I can't wait," said Anne. She stretched out her lithe body on the bed, grinning. "Our first brand new house. Then, three months from now you retire. I never thought it would happen."

"Hey it hasn't yet."

"Now, what's that supposed to mean!" Anne said nervously.

"Nothing, nothing," Charlie stroked her hair. "Just screwing with ya. I start terminal leave in six weeks. Then…" The vid-terminal bleeped.

Anne looked at the time. Who's calling this early on a Sunday? I bet it's your mom again. Doesn't she realize people sleep in on the weekend?"

"You know my folks, always up at the crack of dawn." Charlie hit the answer button, smiling in anticipation of the ribbing he'd get from his mom from not picking up on the first ring. "Hello."

A young man appeared on the screen. "Hey boss. Sorry to disturb you on a Sunday but the old man wants to see you."

"Now? What's up Dave? Doesn't he know we're on white cycle."

"Hey I don't know, I just work here. He told me to call the whole team in. I gonna call Gerard now."

Charlie put a hand on Anne's head and stroked her hair. He could tell she was working hard at not appearing annoyed. "Alright. I'll be there by ten. Get everybody else in too. Out here."

"Really nice," said Anne.

"Sorry hon. I'm sure it's just some stupid bullshit drill. I'll be back as soon as I can." Charlie was up and around the room getting dressed. When he was finished, he kissed Anne and the baby and said good bye.

When Lawrence arrived at the shop he noted that CO and Sergeant Major were already there as was half the team. He passed by the team room, collected and verified that everyone had been contacted, then went into the office.

Major Dees was waiting for him with a customary toothy grin. He stuck out a hand. "Hey big Sarge, how's it going?"

"Going great, Sir. How about you?"

"Fine. Fine."

"What's up?"

"Well let's give it a minute till your O shows up."

Just at that moment, Captain Tom Gerard walked into the office. "Hey guys."

"Hey, Sir."

"Ahh good, you're both here. Step into the office." Lawrence and Gerard eyed each other suspiciously and shrugged their shoulders. Neither knew what this was about.

Seated in Dees' office were Sergeant Major Mullen and Chief Leonard the company S3 or Operations Officer. Dees was immediately businesslike. "In case you haven't surmised it yet, 946 is being tabbed for a green call out."

"Really?" asked Lawrence, nonplussed.

"There's not much info on the mission. But it's TS and has the highest priority status."

"When?" asked Gerard.

The bird leaves for the spaceport at 2100 tonight," Said Chief Leonard.

"0900? Jeez they're not leaving much time! What about team gear?"

"Bring personal gear and the contingency pallet."


"Unknown, but unofficially the BC said it could be anything from 4 to 8 weeks."

"Christ." Said Lawrence. "I assume you guys know I'm short. You did, after all, approve my terminal leave, Sir."

The Sergeant major chimed in. "It's cancelled. But don't worry, you should be out in time. The BC authorized a double separation allowance to make up for it. Fact is we need 946 to execute this and the BC requested you. Hey after it's over, c'ya, and don't let the door hit you in the ass."

"Great, Anne's gonna love this."

"Don't worry, we'll take care of the families. You guys get your shit together. We'll get all the families in here tonite for a last visit, then you guys are off." Said the Major.

"Here's the warning order that came down on the TWX this morning. Not much to go on." Chief Leonard handed Gerard the packet.

"Any questions?" Asked Major Dees. There were none. "Right. Off you go."

Lawrence and Gerard left the office thinking about the hard good-byes they would be faced with tonight.

By midnight, the 9 men of 946 were aboard the interface lander and on their way to rendezvous with their transport. The first indication of anything out of the ordinary was the long duration of the flight. They were in flight for 5 hours, well past anything needed to get even to high orbit. The second indication was the ship they docked with. Charlie was surprised to se it wasn't a standard NAC fleet or assault transport.

As they approached within visual range, several of the men were able to crowd a viewport and get a look at the odd shape and markings.

"What kind of ship is that?"

"That," observed Captain Gerard," is an NSL assault transport."

"NSL? You mean Schwabs?" said Sergeant Molitoris.

"That's right, Neu Schwabian League."

"All passengers, please put up your seat trays, lock you seat in an upright position, and secure shock frames. Commencing auto-docking procedures." They scurried back to their seats.

On to Chapter 2, Page 2.

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