“Give the people contests they win by remembering the words to more popular songs or the names of state capitals or how much corn Iowa grew last year. Cram them full of non-combustible data, chock them so damned full of ‘facts’ they feel stuffed, but absolutely ‘brilliant’ with information. Then they’ll feel they’re thinking, they’ll get a sense of motion without moving. And they’ll be happy, because facts of that sort don’t change. Don’t give them any slippery stuff like philosophy or sociology to tie things up with. That way lies melancholy.” – Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451.
It is runs like theses that make me really miss Wolf.
We had slipped up the coast. We had stopped to catch our breath. Well it was actually fish and chips over the border in the Conferderate States. Eldrige was on shore ordering food, and two CAS Coast guard cutters swept down on us. Lights up, and loud speakers blaring. It is standard operations for coast guard to run registration before closing. It give them some idea what kind of mess they have on their hands before they close to assault rifle range. Think of it like a traffic stop on the water, any excuse to stop and roust the usual suspects.
The problem we had with that, is we are in a stolen boat, with assault weapons and the birthday cake was still aboard. If they were close enough to hail us, they knew that we were hot.
We fled and our unfamiliarity with working together showed. At several times, if we had manages to work together rather then against each other, it would not have been as close or required so many complications.
We used thermal smoke grenades. Mad piloting. Mellie’s work. Vertigo’s magic. Not sure we held much back. After a crash, and getting knocked about by high speed sweeper drones. We sorely missed Wolf. those sweepers could hit us at extreme range. We limped into international waters.
I arranged to change ships, and sunk our ride. I dressed up Mellie, hopefully enough to confuse an ID. I finally met Angelfish. I hate having to call in additional resources. We concealed the prize in waterproof stuff sacks.
Vertigo slept off her magic. She pushed herself hard.
Mellie is valuable but, I need more time to get her working as communicating member of the team.
Eldrige is young. Unseasoned.
After floating in international waters, playing go and appeasing a overly aggressive semi-autonomous agent for most of twenty four hours, Afshan Kilbourne came by in his new zeppelin. Lolo is not flying on his crew anymore. His new rig is almost wiped clean of AR and augmented systems. By Design. He avoided the topic. He fingered Mellie as a technomancer. Hopefully my work on the disguise will hold so he will be polite “not be able” to solidly identify her.
I want to know what happened to Lolo. I carried her out of the North. I want to make sure she is safe. Maybe Mellie can take that on. But, how do I get her to share her findings?
Ocean to Zeplin. Zeplin to Lake. Lake to Boat. Boat to cammo-plate truck. Truck to the Square. Ascension cleared Eldrige and Melllie. If it had been my call, I would put an air wall between those two and the square.
Emily was on station. That was odd. 0400 is not her usual working schedule. She is showing a lot of interest in the special project division. Perhaps too much.
Things to include into future planning:
1. “If you are far from the enemy, make him believe you are near.” We need to be better at covering our moves to confuse the enemy. Misdiection, and concealment. Where this applies to us. We steal something, we glass the room to cover it up. When we leave, we pass as traceless as possible.
“It is all about teamwork. If you aren’t able to look after yourself and each other, then people die.” We need to be better at talking to each other so we know what everyone is doing. There were instances where Mellie, was doing things and we had no clue and co not coordinate with her. Eldrige and Vertigo worked against each other trying to get out hull out of the coast. This cost us.
It is time, I need some clear thinking . “Watch your back” is always the first line of the classic proverb. I always watch my back. But, in order to do more I have to have a bigger network. I deal with more people and more people know me. My team has even changed. Wolf, Chance, Silk, Cat, have been rotated through for Ascension, Mariner, Vertigo, Mellie and others. How much will it take for my teammates to sell me out? Who in my second tier would take that piece of candy? Johnsons? I am an expendable and deniable asset, even success is no guarantee of safety as eventually they like to turn over their talent to keep their costs down and their secrets buried. Then there are all the people who are targets of a run. Running means making enemies. The Law counts as well. So, I need a bug out plan or three.
Second line “Shoot straight” does not mean being a straight shooter, or a person who is very honest. It means more then knowing you way around a firearm. Smartlink? is definitely not what counts. Do what you need to do, and do it well. In the immortal works of Tuco “When you have to shoot, shoot; don’t talk.” When to kill? why to kill? When not to kill? In the immortal works of Suntzu “He who knows when he can fight and when he cannot, will be victorious.”
Third Line “Conserve ammo.” Never blow you whole wad. Carry more ammo then you think you will need. Plan for when things go bad. Have a fallback for when things go from bad to very very bad. Always have fresh back-ups. Write and then burn a plan for the future. Use quiet time to get ready. Sweat in training, to avoid bleeding in the field. Keep at least one backup stash of gear somewhere safe. Make sure you gear has extra socks.
Finally “And never, EVER cut a deal with a dragon.” Dragons are dangerous, cunning, test in the genius end of the curve, live a long time and impossible to outwit. So against a Dragon, you are in over you head. This is a specifically a warning against Dragons. But, also can be expanded into the general case, No matter how good you think you are, there is always someone better, faster, stronger, and with more resources than you. A open fair fight will kill you. if your clever, you can influence it, and maybe even bend it. Know your limits, and know your strengths, otherwise you’ll end up making your last deal.
Rebecca MacVanier and Paule “Paulo” Graves are dead. Details are limited. Open Source AK-97s, the most common assault rifle on the planet shooting Amazonian manufactured rounds. That as a style has the tell of a corporate kill squad. This saddens me. But, I did not move to catch the falling knife as I saw it falling, either. What duty do I, an “expendable asset”, owe a Johnson? Justice or Just Us? If I had recruited a team, and flown out to back them, out of my own pocket, Could, I have shifted the odds enough? Or Would I now be a nameless body on the floor at their murder scene? Am I still a loose end? Does Patricia MacVanier fear I might try to be the agent of her undoing? Is it up to me to avenge them?