"What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight-it's the size of the fight in the dog." -- Dwight D. Eisenhower
202 to 204, 1122.
Viktor's party (Viktor, Geoff, Ezbeki, Max, Jenny, and her two Vargrs - Sgt. Udokso, and Corp. Dzough) moves out, on their way to Dickie's faux hunting lodge. As several people (especially Geoff and Ezbeki) are injured, they will be moving fairly slowly. This would not have been a quick march any way, as they need to avoid Vargrs, and try to find local militia members or at least local people to assist in at least the resupplying efforts.
After two uneventful days, Viktor's people arrive chéz Dickie as evening falls. Dickie's place is sandbagged, has machine-gun emplacements, armored cars, etc., and a flag with the red background and black wolf's head emblem on it. Looks like some place the high level muckity mucks might take up residence. Viktor decides to not stop by and see if he can borrow a cup of sugar. They skirt the very busy house, trying to at least estimate strength. Between the house and Vargrs in the town below, looks like infantry, and maybe several thousand Vargrs.
The mechanized units are apparently in the process of moving out of the area, being replaced by light infantry. The tanks and other mech units are being loaded onto ship's boats. There are columns being moved out in several directions, and there are large cargo containers being hauled in vehicles, the containers are olive drab with yellow letters - looks like fuel, armament, and supplies. Each group is going out really well equipped. Very interesting. Geoff: "Sir, we need to take one of those columns." Oh, sure. Viktor: "What's the next nearest town?" Jenny: "That would be Sussex, sir. Two hundred clicks away." It's a small town, but it's not on the way to the array, which is the (current) ultimate destination. The nearby city of Freeport is the starport, so that will be extremely well guarded. Dickie's place is in the suburbs overlooking Dresden. There are some of the big, silver Vargrs amongst the large group at the estate, speaking with a group of normal sized Vargrs, including some in local clothing.
Ezbeki has been taking recon pictures with his digital camera. If they can ever get to a computer and commo link, the photos can be sent to Marx, or Polowaczek. Dresden itself is almost literally crawling with Vargr patrols, etc. The HQ appears to be in a hotel in the center of town, with machine gun nests on the roof. There is some discussion of using the sewer system to move within the town, but there's no way of telling if the manhole covers actually lead to a sewer, or a storm drain, or some little access tunnel.
Regarding the activity at the estate, Geoff says: "Sir, I think the house is the best choice as a possible location for your wife. If they think she's a servant, they may have her here." Ezbeki: "Or maybe they ate her in some barbaric Vargr ritual." Geoff kicks Ezbeki. Sgt. Udokso: "Well, Ezbeki, you have nothing to worry about." True - no one would eat Ezbeki, under any circumstances; starvation is definitely preferable.
The sounds coming from the big house indicates there may be a big party going on. Most of the guards (even the ones on patrol) are in dress uniforms (white tunics, maroon riding breeches, chrome plated helmets, and chrome plated ACRs). They look highly stract. Geoff wants to do whatever Viktor wants - grabbing a machine gun on a roof mount at the HQ downtown and just firing away, assaulting the house, whatever. He'd rather die of a bullet wound than radiation. Dying Geoff's enthusiasm is appreciated, but overruled.
There's a cliff on one side of the house, and it looks like it would be a good direction to use to infiltrate the house. It's not a hard climb, and it's even under cover from a deck part of the way. The group knows the layout of the house, and they might be able to find AnaRad for Geoff, if Viktor's family aren't there.
On the way up the cliff, Geoff loses his footing and slides right into the arms of the Vargr guards (he rolled to the feet of two guards). One of them looks down and says: "Well, well. What do we have here?" Everyone else freezes on the cliff. Geoff puts his hands up, starts to get up, intending to grab the rifle of the closest Vargr. Unfortunately, the Vargrs move first. The first one misses Geoff entirely with his rifle as a club, the second guard hits Geoff in the face with his shotgun. Geoff draws his cutlass, and the fight is on, quietly.
After a few minutes, Ezbeki decides to go help Geoff, so he wafts down the hill in complete silence. Geoff, meanwhile, is slugging and slashing it out with the two Vargrs, who were not in dress uniforms. Geoff's other comrades take the opportunity to quietly continue up the hill, taking care to be quiet while going under the deck (there are guards up there, too).
Geoff takes down the Vargr with the shotgun, then the other one jabs Geoff in the liver with the end of his ACR. Ow. Geoff's luck is getting worse, as his cutlass snaps off six inches in front of the hilt when he hits the Vargr. Luckily, this distracts the Vargr enough so that he misses. Geoff uses the remainder of the ex-cutlass, and stabs the Vargr, who stiffens and falls over. However Geoff wasn't responsible for the downed Vargr; Ezbeki drops down, walks over, and removes his spring-loaded knife from the back of the Vargr's head. Geoff and Ezbeki remove all the weapons and ammo on the Vargrs. This at least gets Geoff a machete as a replacement for his cutlass. It has been sharpened recently. Ezbeki may be unsavory, but he's useful in a fight.
The group is now under the deck, and safely on a concrete base. The party is definitely in full swing upstairs. The guards are moving above, and one of them stops to spit over the edge - chewing tobacco; he'll be back to spit again soon. And they won't be able to see the dead guards in the dark at the foot of the hill. All of a sudden, the party members with commo hear something on one of the Imperial frequencies: "I can see you, Imperial pig dog, prepare to die. Actually, just kidding. I can definitely see you guys though, jeeze. You've got two sentries just above you, you know. Leave it to the Marines to make the classic assumption that just because it's dark, no one can see you." Geoff turns and flips off the Army sniper. Sniper: "I could shoot that off from here, you know."
Another Vargr, evidently an officer from the party inside, comes out to have a little 'chat' with the boys. He's brought a "little something to warm yourselves with". The Vargrs are told to come inside for some food when their replacements come. Sniper: "These guys aren't going anywhere soon from the looks of them. They're in plain sight from here, too. And you guys are nice and bright with that cigar butt down there." The Vargr officer had tossed it off the balcony.
Sniper: "Wait a sec... Move about six meters, General, to your left. There's a heat bloom over there." They find a window that's been boarded up in the basement, to allow some kind of vent hose to go out. The sniper is watching the party, and he comments that "I could take out half the general staff from here." Viktor: "Not yet." Sniper: "No problem, sir. I only have three rounds left." Viktor: "I have your partner's rifle and ammunition." Sniper: "Sir, I'm about 800 meters from your position." Okay, so he's not close enough for resupply.
Ezbeki looks at the vent, and says "Sir, there is no way I'm going to be able to fit down that dryer hose." It takes a while to figure out how to quietly remove the tube, and the plywood out of the window so some one Ezbeki or Jenny-sized (or one of the Vargrs) can fit through. They are able to look in, and there's a drop ceiling. They listen, and there's sounds of laughing and splashing. Bugger - it's the hot tub, near the massage room. Ezbeki offers Geoff his shotgun and a single round of Teleshot, but Geoff declines. He definitely won't fit through that window.
The decision is made for Ezbeki to take the shotgun loaded with teleshot, and go in through the window, followed by Jenny, Max (he can just fit), and the two Vargrs. Viktor and Geoff will go up and take out the sentries above. The faint, but anticipated sound of the Teleshot is the cue for Viktor and Geoff to make their move.
The scene on the deck with Geoff and Viktor rapidly becomes a Mau-Mau attack, complete with machete and cutlass. After a couple of minutes, the sentries are down, the deck is covered with blood (Vargr), and there's a Vargr female looking out of the big window and screaming. Time to go in. Geoff fires into the window, taking care to not aim in the direction of the human servants, but it doesn't shatter, just stars (it wouldn't make sense to have dangerous glass around Dickie's intoxicated friends), so Geoff opens the unlocked sliding door, and tosses a grenade towards a cluster of Vargrs. One of them throws himself onto the grenade, so it's not as effective as it might have been, but oh well.
Downstairs, after Ezbeki has fired the Teleshot at the hot tubbing Vargrs. Jenny: "Okay, Navy, you're next." She slaps Max on the rump, sending him right through, and into the hot tub. Predictably, the squid lands in the water. Jenny is right behind, but she executes a perfect flip, landing on her feet in gymnastics dismount pose. Jenny: "Seven years of gymnastics pay off." Max applauds. Jenny: "You going to get out of there?" Max gets out of the hot tub as the Vargrs carefully drop down. Ezbeki wants to cut a ring off one of the dead Vargrs, but Max stops him. "We've got more important things to do." Ezbeki: "Oh, right. I'll come back later." Max glares at him. Ezbeki: "What? We're allowed to take souvenirs you know. It's not like he's going to need it." <Pause> Ezbeki: "Want to see my Vargr ear?" Jenny: "You got a gun, Navy?" Max shows his handgun. Ezbeki: "Perfect. You go first." Max: "Okay..." Ezbeki: "You're harmless looking." Jenny: "I have a plan -" Gunfire is heard from upstairs. Jenny: "Oh bugger, it's started. Let's go!" They charge up, with Max in front, for whatever reason (he's bigger than Ezbeki, so he's cover).
Upstairs, Geoff and Viktor are in mid fracas in what used to be the party. There are several of the silver Vargrs in the room, and they are naturally the targets of choice. Geoff is trying to not hit any humans, and he does take out one of the silver Vargrs. The sniper is not inactive, just using his three rounds very judiciously.
Viktor, in combat armor, is obviously the most dangerous one. He is shot in the right hand. Not a life-threatening injury, but it's definitely broken and very painful. Viktor switches the ACR to burst, and with the adrenaline level, he's able to continue firing even though he can feel things 'grate' when he uses the hand.
Ezbeki, naturally, notices the wine cellar on the way upstairs. When glared at, he says "What? Hey, strictly for medicinal purposes. Really!" A servant has stopped at the top of the wine cellar stairs with two wine bottles in his hands. He looks wide-eyed at the armed group, slowly backs down the cellar stairs, and shuts and bolts the door after himself.
At this point, several armed Vargrs come charging down the narrow stairwell. Max is lucky enough (and he knows it) to be able to take down the first one with one shot, and when he falls, the others go down like dominos, making them easy for the others to take care of, especially after Max darts to one side to get out of the line of fire. Once that's done, Ezbeki takes point and the charge is on. Ezbeki: "Right you guys, let's kill us some Vargrs! -- <to the Vargrs on his side> Sorry about that." Ezbeki, et al, come tearing up near the kitchen (which is where they were supposed to meet, any how). There are human servants in the kitchen area, two male, two female.
Back in the main salon: A Vargr guard has arrived at the doorway across the living room with a machine-gun, he yells "Windows!" in Vargr, and the Vargrs in the room drop leaving him a clear field of fire. The machine-gun rakes the windows and walls. The walls are apparently concealment not cover, since those rounds are coming right through the walls. Geoff exposes himself long enough to bounce a grenade at the gunner. Geoff is hit multiple times, and he falls. Viktor has taken what he hopes is cover on the ground, and is praying (a logical choice). There's a small boom from Geoff's grenade, then Viktor leaps up and heads out to avenge poor presumably dead Geoff, using HEAP grenades on his rifle. Now that's hard on the decor.
Max gets all the servants in the kitchen down at the far end, on the floor beside the walk-in freezer; if they need to they can shut them in there. The prisoners/staff tell Max that one of the female prisoners is back in the sleeping quarters with one of the Vargr generals; she was evidently dragged there. Max, heads that way, after checking with Jenny.
Jenny, Ezbeki, and the Imperial Vargrs head towards the salon, after Ezbeki grabs a chicken leg (he's just a bit hungry). The Vargrs inside the salon are retreating towards the kitchen, and get one heck of a rude surprise when they run into the Marines behind them. Some of the Vargrs, knowing that they are in a world of hurt, surrender. Jenny orders those who can move against one wall. Sgt. Udokso (one of the Imperial Vargrs) is moving to help with the prisoners when he drops like a rock. Followed by a ballistic crack, and the sniper radioing that "I got one. Your six is clear."
Jenny is keeping an eye on Viktor while she sees to it that the prisoners are all rounded up and not shot or choked out; not that she's concerned about the General... Viktor calls Sgt. Udokso over to him. Viktor: "I want you to get on their radio, and announce that the house has been mined and set to blow and take the whole hillside with it." The Vargr sergeant, falling back into the native tongue, broadcasts the message as requested. Sgt. Udokso is then told to assist with the prisoners, but when he steps forward a shot rings out and he falls to the ground. Whoops, that was a friendly. The sniper <on the radio with Viktor>: "Got him. You're clear on your six." Viktor <to the sniper>: "That was one of ours you just shot." Sniper: "Oh my God. I'm sorry sir." Sgt. Udokso slowly gets up, much to everyone's surprise, hand to his bleeding head. Ezbeki, behind Udokso, picks up the Vargr's ear, looks at Viktor for directions, mouthing "What do I do?" Viktor mouths back "Get rid of it." (Not wanting to upset Udokso, who doesn't realize his ear has been shot off.) Ezbeki quickly hides the ear under a serving tray cover. Viktor <over the radio>: "Fortunately, you missed a clean kill there. Imperial Vargrs have tougher hides." Sniper: "He's still alive!? He can't be!" <awkward pause> Sniper: "I mean, thank God for that. Tell him he's the luckiest man on the planet. Sir, I'm out of ammo, so I am going to unass the area." Viktor: "I have ammo for you." Sniper: "I'm over 800 meters away from you, sir." Viktor: "That does make it a bit difficult." Sniper: "This is going to stir up things, so I'll just join you away from the house as you move out. Don't worry - I'll find you."
Ezbeki finds the downed Geoff on the deck outside, and shakes him. Ezbeki: "Geoff! Don't die on me, buddy." No response from Geoff. Ezbeki: "You bastard, I just stole this from the doctor yesterday." He injects Geoff with RegenII. Even Ezbeki's scrounging is having a hard time keeping up with Geoff's medical needs.
Max has gone down to the corridor with the sleeping quarters, to look for the missing servant. All the doors are closed, but once the gunfire stops, he is able to hear sobbing coming from one of the rooms. He stands to the side (good choice) and knocks on the door. By way of answering, a number of rounds are fired through the door, leaving pretty big holes that indicate whoever in there is probably not friendly, and has a bigger gun than Max does. Max returns to the kitchen for a 'prop', not wanting to get into a shoot-out with a civilian female in the middle.
Viktor does a head count, and comes up short, so he asks where Max is. Jenny tells Viktor where Max went, and Viktor decides to go after him. When Viktor gets to the corridor, it's empty. He slowly heads down the hall, until he hears some one behind him. Max has come out of the kitchen behind Viktor, with a tray and champagne, holding his gun in the other hand below the tray. Viktor spins around, recognizes Max, and when Max aims his pistol right at him, Viktor drops to the ground (perhaps wondering if the Navy guy has snapped). What Viktor didn't know is that just as he turned around, a large silver Vargr stepped out of the room, surfgun in hand, and it was him Max was aiming at. Max just barely gets his shot off before the Vargr is able to fire. The Vargr is mortally wounded, but as a surfgun has a 'dead man' or release trigger, it's a good thing that the very angry female chose that moment to barrel out of the room and into the Vargr's gun arm, deflecting it up so that no one was hit by the surfgun fire.
After a few somewhat stunned moments standing in the hall with the now dead Vargr on the floor, Max steps out of the way so Viktor can properly greet his wife, Katarina. She's in a servant's uniform, wearing no makeup, but looking unharmed. Vasilli is in one of the other rooms, so Viktor and Katarina go to retrieve him as Max checks the body.
The dead Vargr was one of the large silver-colored ones, but older and greyer than the others. Max removes the Vargr's ID and tags, his weapons (the surfgun is empty, so it's left) - a handgun, and a riding crop that doesn't feel quite right; on closer examination, Max finds the crop actually has a hidden three-edged blade. The Vargr also has two sets of three black cloisonné on red wolf's head collar tabs, which Max takes as well.
The Androchevs and Max rejoin the rest of the party in the main salon. Viktor tell the two Vargrs that on the way out they are to "go into the kitchen, and acquire food. All you can carry." Ezbeki reports that there are Vargrs moving up on the position. Ezbeki: "I figure, about five minutes. Maybe we should make them a bit more cautious, maybe slow them down a bit?" Viktor agrees, and Ezbeki and the Vargr corporal take up one of the machine-gun positions, and impress the need for caution upon the approaching Vargrs.
The servants want Viktor to take them somewhere. Any where. Isn't that his responsibility? Viktor does not have the personnel or resources to baby-sit, but he makes sure they have directions to the cabin, so they can at least find shelter and food.
The five prisoners are given the choice of burning with the house, or leaving." Vargr: "And then you shoot us in the back?" Jenny fires at their feet, they take off running down the driveway toward the road and town. Everyone prepares to leave in the Vargrs' vehicles.
Max sees Ezbeki struggling to carry the unconscious Geoff over his shoulder in a fireman's carry. Max: "Are you carrying him because you can, or because it looks good? If you drop him, you'll do more damage. You decide." Ezbeki <grudgingly>: "Okay, take his legs."
A last search of the house, prior to setting it on fire, reveals one or more Vargrs apparently holed up behind a rather stout door in the basement. When they are commanded to come out, they say they'll die before they surrender. Viktor: "Surrender to whom?" The response was "Stinking furless pig dogs." Viktor: "Leave them. We're out of here." They head upstairs. "Marines, we are leaving." Everyone piles into the limousine with the Vargr flags on the hood. Jenny and the two Vargrs in the front seat, the others in the back. Jenny: "This thing steers like a pig, sir." That's at least partially because it's armored.
When handed the dog tags and papers from the Vargr in the hallway Sgt. Udokso says: "Ah, a colonel-general. Doesn't give a unit number, but it does have the wolf's head insignia." The insignia is a bit more stylized on the ID card - the heads are in a circle, biting each other. That's at least one officer who won't be any more trouble.
Ezbeki <shaking the unconscious Geoff>: "Geoff, Geoff, come on man." Geoff finally stirs. Ezbeki: "How are you feeling?" Geoff: "Why do you always ask stupid questions?" There's a screeching of brakes, and a long slide. A person magically appeared in the road ahead- bampf! It's the sniper, naturally, who has just turned off his chameleon gear. He's invited into the car for hot food, and he shoves Ezbeki out of the way with a "Move over, stinky." Viktor gives him his deceased partner's rifle and ammo, and dog tags. Viktor: "What your name?" Sniper" "John. Plexo's the last name." Viktor: "Glad you were with us." The sniper motions toward the Vargr with the bandaged head in the front seat, Sgt. Udokso. Plexo <whispering to Viktor>: "Does he know?" Viktor: "No."
Viktor: "We don't want to be running around in this car. Jenny, how much fuel do we have?" Jenny: "I don't know what the consumption rate is, but we have a quarter of a tank." There's some discussion on whether or not to go to the farmhouse, but it's decided that they shouldn't draw Vargr attention toward the civilians.
Speaking of trouble, an aircraft comes over the car flying really low, pivots and returns for a strafing run. Seeing the line of tracers advancing on the car, Jenny jams on the brakes and everyone bails out of the car. The car becomes swiss cheese flambé. After everyone is accounted for, Viktor invites Plexo, the sniper, to travel with the team toward the smuggler rendezvous with them in case they can locate a ship there. Viktor: "Unless you need to get back to your command." Plexo: "Well, I don't know that I have a command any more. I don't even have a partner, and I'd rather have some one to watch my back." Viktor: "You're welcome to join us, but it's up to you." Plexo: "That's okay sir, I can lower my standards in this case, what with you being Marines and all."
The party continues into the woods. The Vargr corporal, Dzough, is lugging the light machine-gun he was firing at the house. Evidently he really liked it.
Although they are not moving at a good rate, due to the wounded, there are no incidents. Just as the sky starts to lighten, Plexo, who has been on point, reappears and suggests holing up during the day. He is able to make an incredibly well camouflaged little hide, so people can get some sleep. Watches are set, but they are to stay under cover. Aircraft is heard overhead, along with an occasional explosion or two (not in the direction of the farmhouse. Everyone rests and eats.
The group is warmly dozing, when the ground begins to shake and loud engine and squealing noises are heard headed their way. Bugger, tanks. Which are going to go all around, and possibly over them. The tanks have crossed swords on the front, and Imperial markings. Wow, they're "our" tanks for a change that are about to squish us. There's a man sitting unbuttoned in the command turret of a tank, directing the movements of the other units.
That would be the 62nd Armored Cav unit. Viktor gets on the radio as the first wave of tanks passes, followed by the aircraft flying below the trees. Fortunately, John Plexo (the sniper) has the Army authentication codes. John: "We have some friendlies in the middle of your exercise area." The Cav commander radios back, requesting purple smoke, which John has of course. The smoke is thrown indicating the position where the tanks should NOT drive. The commander promises to send one of the medivac ships back for the party.
Aerial pick up arrives, but not in the form of a medivac unit, as promised. The vehicle lands (it's one of the assault boats), the door drops, and everyone runs in as quickly as possible before the boat lifts. It does, very quickly. Pilot: "You should have been here earlier, sir. There was some general cruising down here in a big car, and we nailed his ass." Viktor: "That was us." Pilot: "Well how was I supposed to know that you were in a Vargr staff car? No hard feelings." Pilot: "Anyone want some joe?" Everyone except Max (who is leaning and braced quite comfortably) declines, due to the wild evasive maneuvers of the ship. A thermos is passed back. The Vargrs look very uncomfortable, and don't want coffee or anything else; actually they both look rather green.
Once the boat gets to the area of the estate, and town, there is much shooting, including a little strafing run at a Vargr on bicycle that results in the pilot literally knocking the Vargr off the bike with a landing strut. The Vargr picks himself up and runs for it, making obscene gestures. The armor comes up and blasts the Vargrs' little light tanks. Geoff tells the pilots about the HQ on the hotel downtown with all the machine-gun emplacements, and the assault boat calls in a priority target run, in spite of Viktor's protests about having civilians on board. The hotel is taken out, after a really wild ride between buildings and along city streets. Pilot: "Hey, I think that was the Hotel George." Copilot: "No, really?" They dip out and take a look. Copilot: "Oh, damn. That was a really beautiful hotel." Geoff: "You didn't think they were going to use some dive as a HQ, did you?"
The assault boat heads away from the city. Pilot: We better head home before air cover comes back. The planetoid took a jaunt over to the other side of the planet." Viktor: "It did?" Pilot: "Yeah. Otherwise, we wouldn't have been able to make this little trip at all. I'm Leon, by the way, and this is my right man, Jimmy." Jimmy looks about twenty. Introductions are made all around. Off they go on a little boat ride; although they don't call them 'boats', that would be too Navy - they call them 'slicks'.
They get to the Army's staging area, deep in the forest, under a huge rock outcropping that slopes out for several hundred meters. No wonder the Vargrs can't find them. It is kind of scary, the way they fly into their 'parking' slots. Typical zoomies.
Viktor gets to meet Col. McGonnigal, who is a strapping man with a Stetson and spurs. He's very demonstrative in a Texan sort of way, very effusive, and is able to provide good alcohol, with ice or soda if they want. Ezbeki has already turned his camera over to the S2, so Viktor doesn't need to get the camera. Information will be exchanged.
Viktor tells McGonnigal that the planetoid probably went after the 122nd. McGonnigal: "Oh shit, oh dear. Well, we gave them a bloody nose. Who knows what they'll do to us. We've got nothing to fight them with, since the Navy buggered off like cats with their tails on fire. Fucking squids." Viktor: "They did lose their cruiser." McGonnigal: "Too bad. Well, I think we put the fear of God into the town of Dresden. I'll see about getting some quarters for you and your family there. <shouting> Orderly! Peterson, get your ass in here!!" Peterson: "Yes sir! Sorry sir!" McGonnigal: "See that these two are taken care of." Peterson: "Yes sir." McGonnigal: "You play golf, General?" Viktor: "A bit." (Viktor has in fact, played golf. Once. He has a great drive, although not much control.) Viktor will join them for a round of golf, once his hand is taken care of. McGonnigal: "Peterson, have the General seen by my doctor. If he's sober." Viktor asks that quarters be found for his people, and that won't be a problem. Viktor tells McGonnigal that the two snipers were "instrumental in taking out the Vargr mine and prisoner camp, even though John's partner didn't make it." McGonnigal will make sure they get credit for their actions. Viktor and Katarina take Vasilli and leave with Peterson. Katarina is eager for a bath, and McGonnigal has promised to arrange that.
The potentially terminal Geoff is mediced for his machine gun holes. He also explains his radiation burns and requests Anarad; which they have! Never has an injection of thick syrupy stuff hurt so good. It looks like he'll live after all.
Out in the general camp, an army officer yells at Max: "Hey Navy, the Colonel wants to see you." He takes Max in to see McGonnigal: "Navy, huh. You a pilot?" Max: "Yes sir. I'm not jump-qualified though." McGonnigal <to the officer>: "Bill why don't you take the Lt. Commander here out to our 'toy'." Bill: "Yes sir."
They take a little trip in a jeep out into the woods, to a hidden 200 ton Marava class Far Trader. Bill: "We picked this up off a gentleman who was involved in small package trade with the locals. We figured we had better use for it than he did. He wasn't as sensible as he might have been, so we had to pump a few rounds into him, but he settled down right quick." That would explain the 100mm diameter holes through the body of the ship.
What McGonnigal wants to know is: A) how to do it (use the ship against the buffered planetoid), and B) if this thing would even get off the ground. The first thing the Colonel wants is a report on the operational condition of the vessel." Evidently, the Army guys tried to patch up the ship, since their thinking was "How hard could it be if Navy guys can fly these things?" Oh dear. They were able to patch the holes in the hull, but the internal damage is another issue. Max will bring Geoff out to the ship once he's physically able, and maybe they can figure out how bad it is.
For now, there is at last time to rest, in the midst of the Army's 'suffering'. BBQs everywhere, beer all over the place, people playing frisbee. it's like a flipping beach party!