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I was working on this story ages ago, put it aside and never got back to it. I hope to return to it

(It combines the IST, COH and Warriors Casts)

IST - Wolfpack

Rabat Muscow sighed and patted his fatigues down; checking each pocket in turn. His grim expression suddenly lightened as he felt the rounded paper tube. He had been sure
that he had at least half a cigarette left. He eagerly dug it out and fitted the filter between his lips, moving it
about until it was perfect. He resumed his patting, the joyous discovery of the half-cigarette having completely
blotted away the memory of which of his myriad of pockets he had placed his lighter in.

Rabat's smile grew wider as he located the lighter. The battered
Zippo had seen far better days; and quite a few worse ones; but it was still fully functional and far more reliable than many things in Rabat's
life. A quick flick brought a small glimmer of flame, which Rabat cupped in his hands, leaning down to light the
cigarette. The motion had the lazy ease of long practice. Rabat leaned his head
back and inhaled deeply, sucking the smoke down to his core. He savored it for a moment and then blew it back out
through his nostrils. The tendrils playing about his thick, black moustache.

The night patrol had been especially boring. Something of a
triumph. There had been nothing; nothing at all. The relationship between the
Republic of Margyar and their neighbors in Wellechia had never been friendly; even when they had both been under the dung-encrusted boot of the Soviet
Union. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, things had gone from bad, to worse and well past
it-couldn't-get-any-worse. The last few years though, they had just been dull.
Internal power struggles within Wellechia had kept them far too busy to even think about causing trouble. That
was good for the nation and particularly good for Rabat; but that did not make the long nights any shorter.

Rabat took a long drag from his cigarette and checked his rifle, ensuring that it was on safe. In another four hours he could go home and climb in bed with his wife; or climb on his wife in bed - provided she was
game. It was the least boring thought of the night. The orange glow from his
cigarette flared as the last of the tobacco was consumed; perhaps he would not be the only creature making noise

The noise! Rabat un-slung his rifle in a fluid motion and flicked the
safety off. The noises of the night were gone. Before he could take another
step a slight cough sounded. Rabat never heard it. The bullet traveled far
faster than the sound it made; blowing through the glowing tip of the cigarette, smashing through his teeth and continuing out through his neck, leaving an
exist wound the size of an apple.

The bad times were back.

* * *

IST Headquarters: Great Britain

The murmur in the auditorium quieted as Supreme Commander Diana Poulis walked up the short flight of stairs to
the podium. The silence continued for several long moments as she disconnected the microphone.

"Yesterday at 2:00 am, forces under the direct order of the Wellechian government made a sudden, deep
strike into the Republic of Margyar. As of 1:00 this afternoon they have covered some 60 kilometers and are within
striking distance of the Margyar capital. International Super Teams has been contacted by the government of Margyar and
a formal request for aid has been presented." Diana paused. "And we
have accepted."

In the audience, Thibor felt Cammy's small hand slide surreptitiously into his own. He squeezed it comfortingly and then released it. Behind Diana the auditorium screen lit
up, displaying an outline of the two countries and surrounding territories. Thibor didn't really need to look at
the maps. He had spent more than a year in the territory.

"Although it is small, Wellechia has a robust military force."
Diana continued, her low, richly accented voice filling the hall easily. "While much of it is considered
conventional, it should be noted that they have had extensive dealings with the government of Shadaloo and their illicit military technology. This includes Jugo and enhanced power armour."

"Preliminary estimates include a core cadre of Shadaloo Viper suits numbering in the low
hundreds." A schematic flashed on the screen of a bulky set of powered armour.
"With almost double that number in the older Copperhead configuration."

"Wellechia is also known to hire and utilize superhuman mercenary forces; as well as having several
native supers as part of their military. This includes their current leader - General Rhaskol." The image on the screen changed to a handsome, hawk featured man in an understated dress uniform.
"As some of you remember, General Rhaskol was very briefly an IST Member, who was discharged, with prejudice following several unauthorized,
criminal actions in the former Soviet Union."

Thibor nodded. Rhaskol was a bastard; and not in the Colonel Byrd
way. It was very rare for a werewolf to refer to someone else as a monster, but Rhaskol certainly
qualified. He was a consummate military strategist, but his methods treated everyone; soldiers and civilians as hostile
combatants. He had vanished prior to his trial, reappearing several times over the course of the last two decades; and
had been linked to the deaths or disappearances of several IST agents. He was also extremely powerful, displaying a
dazzling array of constantly changing meta-human powers.

"Our primary force, consisting of a meta-human strike force, supported by Gamma and Delta power suits
will serve to blunt or halt the advance of the Wellechian forces." Diana said as the map returned. "While additional strike forces will be deployed behind the lines to engage specific, strategic targets. Individual briefings are to follow."

"Traditionally this is where the commander is required to give a stirring speech, meant to fire up the
troops in preparation for facing the enemy." Diana stepped away from the podium and faced the crowd. "I don't see a need for this speech. You would not be officers in the
International Supers Teams if you did not feel as strongly as I do about what we are about to undertake."

"Rhaskol is a tough, hard opponent. He will use every dirty trick
he knows to try and stop us." Sparks began coruscating around Diana's black hair and a static charge filled
the hall, tingling against exposed skin. "Well, I have seen what Rhaskol leaves in his wake and it will not happen
on our watch."

"He thinks he is tough and he thinks he is mean. He is about to
find out how wrong he is! Because we are about to show him! If he tries to advance, we push him back! If he tries to retreat we follow him to the ends of the earth! If he tries to surrender…
Let him! I have never seen a man surrender with a mouthful of knuckles before."

"You know what you have to do! You know who you have to do it to!
You know why we are doing it!" As Diana thrust a fist in the air there was a clap of thunder and lightning
coruscated around the room; sparks exploding around her as her uniform vanished; shredding under the onslaught of the liquid silver that covered every inch of
her skin. "Now let us get out there and do it!"

Cheers erupted throughout the hall as Diana walked down the aisle, lightening trailing behind her. Thibor added a long, howl to the cacophony, having assumed his wolfen form at some time during the speech; while Cammy pumped a
fist in the air; in an unconscious imitation of the Diana. There was a mad rush to the doors as the deployment got

* * *

"Roight then Hoyle." Colonel Byrd's grin was even more
maniacally sadistic than normal, and it was plastered on his face with all the subtlety of the Sistine Chapel ceiling.
Cammy reached across the table and took the proffered dossier. " 'Ave a shuftie at that and tell us what you

"We've assembled your assignments and team." Captain
O'Neil said from where he stood behind and to the left of his superior. "You will be very pleased with the
choices we've made. Your cadre has been designated Lazarus."

"Team Lazarus." Cammy repeated. She reached under the back of her uniform jacket and removed a Spetzer knife, slitting the sealed dossier open. She scanned it briefly. "My word."

"Would be better to use my word." Thibor read over
Cammy's shoulder. "Your word is not doing justice to this."

"Colonel." Cammy said, trying to conceal the edge in her
voice. "I am unsure that this roster is conducive to the successful completion of our mission. You have re-assigned the bulk of my team and while many of these agents are highly competent, I am unsure of their suitability in
working together under these conditions."

"You should trust Colonel Byrd." O'Neil piped up
hotly. "We've all done very well by him in the past. He knows what he
is doing."

"What is doing? Is taking the piss." Thibor said bluntly. "Is playing games; deliberately.

"Major Sawchyk." O'Neil emphasized the rank. "May I remind you that Colonel Byrd is a superior officer."

"Lieutenant Colonel Hoyle is superior officer." Thibor said,
completely nonplussed by O'Neal's tone. "Colonel Byrd is expert tactician; but is also world class, dyed
in wool, manipulative, completely unrepentant prick!"

"Now I'm blushing." Colonel Byrd's features gave lie
to statement. "Easy Bluey. The Major is just standing up for his fiancée
he is. Dogs are loyal that way. Give 'em the barest sniff and hint of
affection and they'll follow you to the ends of the earth they will."

"Colonel." Cammy said stiffly; "Provided that they have
arrived, I will have my team assembled and ready to move out on schedule. Will there be anything else?"

"There Bluey." Byrd threw Cammy and Thibor a
half-salute. "Told you Lieutenant Colonel Hoyle would accept the team despite the misgivings of her
adjutant. You owe me a fiver. Dismissed, the pair of you. Carry on."

"Thibor, that was not appropriate." Cammy said she walked
briskly towards her office. "But your support was appreciated."

"You are superior officer." Thibor noted. "People will follow Byrd's orders because is more scared of him then enemy; is proud British tradition. That is him. For you, people will not just follow orders, but will move mountains to
ensure that job gets done. That is superior officer."

"Now I'm blushing." Cammy managed, going a light
pink. "Now superior adjutant, what do you make of this list?"

"Is bad; but not terrible." Thibor said. "Charcoal can handle war; is not worrying there. Simon is very good field soldier; no
problems. Naoko is going to be problem; but that is delegation. Is going to be
Simon's problem, not yours. Will square her away. Am a little worried about
Commander and Kid Chaos; is stiffer than… is very stiff and is going to have problems taking orders from you. Lady
MacBeth is pro; but touchy pro, is going to have to be careful."

"Fortunately Colonel Byrd did leave us Louie as our pilot."
Cammy said. "Thank goodness for small favors. One thing Major. There is a rather glaring hole in your analysis."

"Jackie Frost?" Thibor shrugged. "Is going to whine and complain; but is good to have in field."

"Thibor." Cammy's tone dropped to the icy
range. "Would you care to elaborate on 'good to have in the field?'"

"Jackie is big on comforts, and will ensure is comforts available for others. As long as is careful not to let her go too far out, will be fine." Thibor
explained. "Is also very practical coward when given choice. Is making very practical for behind lines missions. Will not take risks without

"And this has nothing to do with her parading around in, well rather less than would be considered
appropriate for a military operation." Cammy sighed. "However, given
the example set by Supreme Commander Poulis, there is very little that can be done about that. And Thibor, you can stop
grinning any time."

"Affirmative; Diathe is always giving great speech." Thibor
concurred. "Field packs and equipment is designated and is awaiting loading.
Is bullets, beans and gasoline. Personal gear has been requisitioned, approved and stowed for all team members;
is ready to go with one hour, fifty-eight minutes to spare."

"Champion." Cammy didn't bat an eyelid at the seemingly
impossible task of organization being handled in two minutes - both of which had been spent on conversation. If Thibor
said it was handled, it was handled. "Anything else?"

"Yes." Thibor said.
"Is about to be eating in the field for unknown length of time. Options are limited due to time restraints, but is
lovely inn forty minutes out. British fare mostly, good solid bangers and mash. Steak and Kidney pie is also good
option, is getting meat from farm down road, so is very fresh. Ale is brewed on premises and is good complement to
menu. Is driving there; having nice dinner and then heading back to field."

"That's eighty minutes round trip." Cammy
noted. "I take it that we order and then eat on the way back?"

"No. Is civilized meal eaten in civilized
fashion." Thibor seemed scandalized. "Have already made arrangements
for Louie to pick us up there."

"Very well then." Cammy smiled. "But I'm afraid we will both be bringing work to your civilized table. We have
our orders and now it is up to us to come up with a plan that will allow us to carry them out successfully and still bring everyone home alive and in one

* * *

"This is exciting!" Naoko hefted her pack onto her
back. "Unf. I think it might still be too heavy."

"Turn around." Simon considered his partner in crime for a
moment. Naoko was in IST camouflage fatigues. The thin, breathable material
contained a micro-crystal mesh that provided significant anti-ballistic properties. While not perfect protection, it
would significantly reduce the potential for fatal injury from standard ammunition and more importantly shrapnel. A
bullet fired from an AK-47, still wildly popular worldwide, would not penetrate the mesh, but the transfer of kinetic force could injure the
wearer. Perhaps not fatally, but certainly seriously. Simon's own fatigues
were of the same material, but they looked far more worn in and comfortable.

"You've got too much stuff in here." Simon commented as
he rooted about in Naoko's pack, drawing out several small items and dumping them on her already cluttered desk.
"Lose the books. Lose the makeup. Lose the deodorant. Game-boy. Gone. Hello Kitty doll. Gone. Batteries. Gone. Better. On the way down to the hanger, we're going to stop off at stores. You need another water bottle, foot powder and another pair of socks."

"What about you Chief?" Naoko eyed the small rucksack Simon
wore, half the size of hers. "You're not bringing your bow?"

"Not this time." Simon glanced at the rifle case and boxes
of ammunition that were carefully laid across his immaculately clean desk. "Remington model 700, bolt action

"I thought you didn't like guns." Naoko recognized the
weapon from her training courses. It was a sniper's rifle.

"I don't." Simon admitted. "But I hate dying even more and this is the compromise; the range and stopping power are much bigger than any bow out
there. With the proper ammunition that weapon can deliver a punch that will go through pretty much anything up to and
including a Copperhead powered suit. It might penetrate a Viper suit if you hit it in the right place, but either way,
the wearer is going to know he's been kissed."

"Are you worried about this?" The enthusiasm leaked out of
Naoko suddenly she seemed very small in her new fatigues.

"Just think of the hazard pay." Simon said with a half
smile. His expression became more serious as Naoko's shoulder's slumped further. "Yes. It worries me. It's going to be
ugly where we're going; and we're both going to see things that no one should ever have to see. There is also
the possibility that you are going to have to take another person's life and you have to be prepared for that."

"I don't know if I can do that." Naoko managed.

"Brutal honesty time." Simon said quietly. "This is usually Thibor's speech, but he's not here, so I'll give you the short, grammatically correct
version. If you don't think you can do it, get out now. Right
now. No one is going to think less of you for it; but if you are going to be a liability in the field, the last place
you should be is in the field."

"I'm going." Naoko announced, a trace of fire leaking
back into her eyes.

"Good." Simon nodded and gathered up the ammunition, stowing
it away with a smooth familiarity. "You know about gun safety from the basic course, so I'm not going to go
into that one; but if you break the rules, I will tear a strip off of you. Freckle by freckle. Once we're in the field your weapons, food, water and ammunition are not to leave your body.
Period. You can survive without most of the things in your pack; but those are the essentials."

"Gotcha Chief." Naoko said, glancing at the
clock. "We're due in the hangar in an hour."

"Well, we have an hour, and we're not going to have a chance to for who knows how
long." Simon said, with a raised eyebrow. "Do you think we're
going to have enough time?"

"Sure!" Naoko said enthusiastically racing to her
computer. "City of Heroes! See you on Pinnacle!"

Simon sat down at his own terminal and keyed up the game. Playing
computer games in the field was virtually impossible; especially where they were going to be. Other things could easily
be accomplished in the field; in fact, the situation encouraged them.

* * *

"Y'know, you could be helping here." Charcoal said as
she easily hoisted a stack of supply pouches and carried them into the shuttle. The pouches had a combined weight of
400 pounds, but the lithe redhead carried them with no sign of strain. She laid them down where Louie indicated and
went back for the next stack. The object of her jibe was perched haughtily on the largest stack of crates. Jackie loved work, and could watch it for hours on end.

"I'd only get in the way." Jackie said, flexing an
arm. "Besides, I don't have your muscles."

"Charcoal. The ammunition next, s'il vous
plait." Louie muscled the pouches in place with far more effort than Charcoal had used and secured
them. The pilot's was dressed in fatigues that looked well broken in. His
sidearm was almost comically small against his bulky, muscled frame.

"Can do." Charcoal shrugged.
"Shift 'em Snow-Globes, I need to move those."

"Of course." Jackie slipped gracefully off the crates,
leaving a small smear of ice in her wake. Her impossibly buxom breasts jiggling fetchingly. "So Felicity, do you think we'll get some real men this time around?"

"You have a one track mind." Charcoal hefted the crates

"That is simply not true young woman." Jackie said
playfully, her hands on her hips. "One track indeed. Five channel, Dolby
surround, and the equipment happily plays almost all formats in analog and digital. Especially digital. It's just IST Madrid only has the one guy and he's mooning over someone else."

"Thibor, Simon, Commander Chaos and Kid Chaos." Charcoal
noted. "Oh, and Louie."

"Not a bad selection at all." Jackie considered. "Something old, something new, something borrowed, something Sioux."

"I'm pretty sure Simon is Mohawk." Charcoal winced at
the wordplay.

"Pity," Jackie shrugged.
"I was hoping he would be more rabbit."

"He's also taken; even if no one has bothered to tell him."
Charcoal noted, wincing again. She slid the crates to Louie, who secured them.
"And I'm pretty sure that Naoko doesn't share."

"Have you asked her?" Jackie said. "You might be surprised."

"Not interested. He's not really my type. More bookworm than barroom brawler." Charcoal admitted. "Are you hell bent on causing trouble Aunt Jackie?"

"Yes." Jackie considered for a moment. "Yes I am. I didn't ask to be on this task force; I certainly didn't ask to
be part of this war; and when I tried to complain, John-boy Byrd told me that refusing this deployment would put my parole in jeopardy; or as he so eloquently
stated 'Listen up ducky; shut your Chevy Chase or it's back to bars and bull-dykes for you.'"

"That sucks." Charcoal considered. "But I really like Cammy and if you fuck things up, it's going to make it harder for her.
So don't."

"Okay. How about you then?"
Jackie teased. "Going to make your play?"

"Nope." Charcoal shook her head. "No can do."

"Too bad." Jackie sighed.
"It's worth it."

"You didn't!" Charcoal turned on the taller
woman. She reconsidered for a moment. "No.
I'm betting you did."

"Well I do have three distinct advantages over you." Jackie
pulled her shoulder blades together, thrusting out her breasts even further. "And the last one is that I knew him
before he met our dear Lieutenant Colonel."


* * *

"Not another bite." Cammy pushed away her plate; only to
have Thibor push it back towards her. They struggled for a moment, the heavy crockery sliding back and forth on the
table, until Cammy gave in. "Well perhaps one more."

"Is going to need strength; eat now, is not knowing when next meal will be possible." Thibor said gravely as Cammy raised her fork and sectioned out another mouthful of banger.
"Plan is good." Cammy nodded chewing. She swallowed and chased the
mouthful with a small sip of her beer.

"I am not entirely comfortable with certain aspects of it."
Cammy said, dabbing her lips with a napkin, "But I recognize the necessity; even if it has Colonel Byrd's fingerprints all over it. I do take issue with the risk it puts our team under; not do I like the necessity of secrecy between the members."

"Am agreeing." Thibor signaled the waiter, who disappeared;
reappearing several moments later with a large stack of take-out containers. "But is actually safer than other

"There is that." Cammy shrugged. "Do you know where the others have been placed?"

"Gabrielle and Peter have been assigned to emergency medical extraction team; is assigned to guard Minuet
Mac Hine." Thibor said, consulting a data pad. "Raisana and Sil are
on third assault team with Carmen. Is having triple helping of Mac Hine; Morgan, Marianne and the Mac Hine

"The Mac Hine?" Cammy paused to scoop up some mashed
potatoes. "Well that is worth noting.

Thibor nodded mutely. The Mac Hine was the mysterious patriarch of a
family that boasted a seemingly endless stream of red-headed children; with an equally diverse set of superhuman abilities.
There was quite a bit of idle and not so idle gossip floating around as to the parentage, as there was no indication that any of the Mac Hine's
children had actually had a mother at any time. Lieutenant Colonel Santos had briefed Thibor on the Mac Hine situation;
as Morgan Mac Hine had attached himself to her like a dutiful, if lethal, puppy dog. He didn't even mind being
referred to as Bella's boy-toy.

There was a muted roar as the IST Combat Assault Craft rose into the air.
Cammy accepted a mug of tea from Thibor, who was distributing the largess from the pub to the other passengers.
She noted that most of the drinks were non-alcoholic, but Charcoal and Lady MacBeth were nursing tins of Guinness; and collecting disapproving glares from
Commander Chaos; who had a can of Coke.

"I have some unfortunate news." Cammy took a sip of tea to
fortify herself against her announcement; hiding her smile behind the rim of the mug. "In order to carry out the
particulars of our mission; every single one of us is going to have to die. Horribly."

"Die!...Horribly?" Naoko's mouth dropped open.

"I don't do die horribly." Jackie shook her
head. "In bed - yes; Boots on - sure. Horribly - no."

"I am ready to die for this mission." There was a slight
twitch to Commander Chaos's jaw. "And I expect the rest of you to do the same."

"Oh come off it; all of you." Cammy lowered the mug, her
smile widening. "This is not the charge of the Light Brigade; we will be taking fire as enter Wellechian airspace;
we will be shot down; and everyone aboard will be killed in the resulting crash and explosion."

"We're not going to be aboard. Right." Naoko's grin matched Cammy's. "Lucky!"

"Precisely. We shall evacuate the craft approximately four
kilometers into Wellechian airspace; regroup and proceed to our objective." Cammy said. "Now, in order for our charade to be a little more realistic, we shall have to ensure that some remains are found in the
crash. Fortunately we have spare costumes and fatigues; and thanks to a friendly tavern owner, we also have ten pig
carcasses in the hold."

"I am not playing dress up with a dead pig." From the
expression on Jackie's face, she was clearly aghast.

"Well have it your way." Cammy said with an icy
calm. "If you feel that strongly about it, you can stay in the ship and we'll take the pig with us."

* * *

"Well if it is any consolation, you're not the first pig to wear Dior." Jackie tied the strings of the micro-bikini around the dead pig's haunches.

"Kermieee! Kermieee!"
Charcoal was holding her pig up and manipulating the slack jaw. The tube top and jean shorts were not
particularly becoming on the swine. "Why have you done this to me Kermie?
I thought you loved me!"

"I'm not listening." Jackie reached into her cleavage
and pulled out a tiny, metallic capsule. She unclipped two small buds from it and slid them into her ears.

"Oh wow." Naoko said, tugging the fatigues onto the pig
Simon was holding up for her. She abandoned the pig and practically ran over to Jackie.
"Is that an I-Pod Pico?"

"Yes. I call it my I-God."
Jackie held up the device for Naoko to examine. "Because it spends most of its time safely nestled in

"Full wireless operation, video and picture capability, full communications package, satellite upload,
photonic tethered ear-buds and holographic display with motion activated user interface." Naoko recited with the
fevered excitement of a dedicated techno-nerd. "It's one of the first commercial devices to employ Meernarian
technology. They sold out in the first hour and the waiting list is months. How
did you get it?"

"I know a few people." Jackie smiled. "You're welcome to play with it."

"Really!" Naoko was practically vibrating with
excitement. "Thank you."

"Provided you let me play with something in return." Jackie
continued smoothly.

"Forget it Snow-Globes." Charcoal casually tossed the pig
onto the pile. "She's not going to trade her boyfriend for your toy."

"My boyfriend?" Naoko managed, looking confused for a
moment, then her eyes hardened. "No. I'm not."

"Who said anything about your boyfriend?" Jackie said
wagging a disapproving finger in Charcoal's direction. "Don't mind Felicity, she has a dirty mind and is
always suspicious of my intentions."

"Oh… okay." Naoko said suspiciously.

"Besides." Jackie took a step closer. "I heard that you used to be an Olympic gymnast; so I thought I would see how… flexible you are."

"Eep." Naoko turned bright pink as Jackie took another step
forward, threatening to engulf the smaller woman in her cleavage. "You… mean…"

"Do I smell lilies?" Jackie continued in low, sensual, tones
as Charcoal rolled her eyes.

"No. No lilies. Not
one." Naoko babbled, a large drop of sweat forming on her brow.
"Okay… Once in college.. No. No thank you."

"Okay. Thought I'd ask.
Let me know if you change your mind." Jackie bounced backwards, tucking the I-Pod back into her
cleavage. "Felicity can you help me with this pig?"

"Don't ask." Naoko was still pink as she returned to
where Simon was straining to keep the pig upright. Simon shrugged as best he could; there were times for discretion and
this was one of them. The coming days were likely to offer several opportunities to court a painful death, why get
started early.

Across the compartment, Kid Chaos tossed his pig on the pile and crossed the compartment to where Lady MacBeth
was working a combat harness over her own pig. He waited a moment for her nod and then hoisted the carcass up, easily
holding it in place while she worked.

* * *

"Champion job. First rate."
Cammy said, examining the porcine abattoir. There was something so incredibly wrong about the
situation. Swine should not ever, ever, wear spandex. Fortunately it would soon
be a moot point as Thibor was carefully rigging explosive charges around the passenger compartment. When their vehicle
was 'shot-down' by the enemy, the pigs would be strapped in where the people usually were and subjected to explosion, decompression and severe negative
acceleration as they smacked into the ground. The remains would be fragmentary, with a few spare odds and sods stuck to
the shreds of cloth that remained.

"Now, this brings me to the next; and rather important; part of the plan.
Not being here when the ship is shot down. Timing is going to be crucial; as we are likely to be taking fire at
the time and cannot allow ourselves the luxury of parachutes. Fortunately we do have additional resources at our

"You requisitioned gravity belts?" Naoko said
hopefully. "I haven't tried one, but they sound like fun."

"No." Cammy stated.
"We will be descending into heavily wooded areas; and as you have mentioned, most team members lack the training in these devices. Fortunately Thibor and Charcoal are both capable of unassisted descent into the terrain; which means that the rest of us shall
have to find an alternate way down. Miss Frost."

"Just Jackie. Sure. I can
do it." Jackie said. "If everyone stays close I can create a funneled
spiral that should safely bleed out our velocity; but it's going to be obvious."

"Only for a moment." Cammy countered. "And Commander and Kid Chaos can use their abilities to melt it away."

"Simon. Job opportunity."
Thibor whispered. Simon crawled up and positioned himself next to Thibor, folding out the rest for his
rifle. He made a quick adjustment to the scope, settled the rifle against his shoulder and pulled the trigger.

"Target down." Louie confirmed, looking through the
binoculars. "Simple Simon."

"Don't start that again." Simon folded the rest back up
and carefully covered the scope up.

"Simple Simon?" Cammy asked.
"Am I missing something."

"Simple Simon." Thibor confirmed. "And has nothing to do with pie man or pennies. Is just that is making it look

Cammy considered her Intelligence and Operations Officer. The shot had
been at an extreme range. She probably could have made it, but it would have taken her considerably longer to set up
and execute.

"It's just math." Simon explained, becoming aware of
Cammy's scrutiny. "If I know the distance to the target, the scope gives me that, the speed of the wind, and
the specs on the cartridge, then the shot is going to be the same every single time. I just eliminate as many of the
variables as possible."

Cammy nodded. Simon had the minor meta-human ability to manipulate
data with the precision of a computer - he couldn't take it in faster than he could read, or retain it permanently.
She considered the ramifications for a sniper. He would know, exactly, the arc, speed and ballistic path of any bullet
he fired; provided it came from the same manufacturing lot. All he would have to do to make the shot is be in control
of his own body; aligning the rifle perfectly, and controlling his own breathing so he could fire between heartbeats.


* * *

The tree line seemed to shake in the distant and a low, choking growl could be heard in the hastily dug in
position. Georgi Skall raised his binoculars slightly over the rim of his foxhole and peered through them. A line of Wellechian tanks appeared from the trees, stretching out in front of him. His
count reached fifty vehicles before the world exploded around him as the tanks opened fire. He spat earth and dust from
his mouth and hazarded another glance. Several light anti-tank weapons arced out from around his position, but either
missed or were blunted by the tank's armour. He and his men were about to be, in the popular vernacular, taken
roughly from behind. Strikes from Viper Suit teams had disrupted the artillery division that was supposed to be
covering him, and the Margyaran airforce was stretched far too thin to provide any support. They were corn-cobbed;
screwed; fucked.

That being said, Georgi reached for his radio and barked out several orders.
It might have been a futile fight, but it was his futile fight, and he wasn't prepared to just roll over and die without whipping it out and making
an effort to give as good as he got. Three missiles streaked from his position and flashed towards the lead tank,
leaving streamers of exhaust in their wake. All three struck; momentarily obscuring the target as they
exploded. As the smoke cleared the tank continued to advance; seemingly undamaged by the barrage. It traveled another fifteen meters and then exploded violently. Georgi blinked, rubbed his
eyes and then looked again. That was something you didn't see everyday; which was a pity. His radio chattered and he absently keyed the handset and issued a call for everyone to put their heads down.

There was the unmistakably crackle of a lightening strike and the heavy scent of ozone as the line of tanks
exploded violently; their ammunition stores detonating in unison. The earth trembled, then stilled as thick, choking
smoke and dust filled the air. Georgi kept his head down for several long moments and then got up; brushed the dust
from his uniform as best he could, and then climbed out of his foxhole and calmly walked out onto the field; weaving through the shell craters that marred the
surface. He snapped into a parade-ground perfect salute; there was no need to worry about snipers; all they could do
was kill him.

"General Georgi Skall. Margyaran armed forced." Georgi forcing himself to meet the eyes of his rescuer. "Thank you for your

"Supreme Commander Poulis. International Supers Team. Glad to be of service." Diana Poulis returned the salute sharply, the motions causing
a number of interesting motions on her muscular, naked body. Georgi tried not to notice how the pure silver skin picked
up the flickering lights of the fires that dotted the field, wrapping them around lush curves. "We are now at full
combat deployment and are securing the front; our second wave of medical and logistical support staff should be on the ground in the next half hour."

"Excellent work Supreme Commander." Georgi considered for a
moment. Less than sixty seconds ago he had been facing his own death. Now he
was facing a naked, silver woman who had demonstrated the power to decimate state of the art tanks en-masse. The
situation called for tact and diplomacy; neither of which he was emotionally prepared for; the alligator portion of his brain having assumed
dominance. "I will have my command and communications staff link up with yours.
Permission to check you out."

Diana's lips quirked slightly at the request, which was enough to convince Georgi that he would not be
treated to a 200,000 volt rebuttal. So he looked; and having done so, looked again.

"Thank you Supreme Commander." Georgi said, returning his
eyes to hers. "Now, I would like to co-ordinate responses in sectors six and nine.
We are experiencing defeat in detail and need to fall back from these areas to regroup…"

* * *

"I can't believe anyone… would …do.." Naoko's face
became even paler, her freckles standing out vividly. She turned and vomited on the floor.

"Thank…you.. I didn't want to be first." Jackie echoed. There was a gargled cough and the unmistakable splatter of regurgitation as
the tall blonde spewed explosively. Thibor's jaw set in an iron-like scowl.
He knew what was expected of him; and it wasn't to nose around in the vomit looking for undigested morsels.
Whew, that's big. I don't have the time to read it right now, but I've saved it to a local file in case I get some free minutes at work this
afternoon (as unlikely as that prospect seems right now).
-- Bob
Then the horns kicked in...
...and my shoes began to squeak.
I -like- this, Rev, I really do. I know how it is with things that get put aside, though; I hope you'll be able to expand or even complete it someday,
because I really think you've got something here.

As-is, I feel like I just caught the first 20 minutes of a good movie, something like a James Bond movie with more than one lead role... and the projector just
shut down. Aaaah! Noooo!

[Image: smile.gif]

--"Listening to your kid is the audio equivalent of a Salvador Dali painting, Spud." --OpMegs
What Sofa said. I finally got a chance to sit down and read this, and I agree on all points. There's a distinctly neat vibe here, with the characters thrust into a tense situation. Aside from the story itself, I also liked a lot of the details...the whole bit with regards to Simon using his powers to be a scary-heck sniper...that's just a flat out clever development.

Oddly enough, the bit about Simon insisting that Naoko needs more socks, powder, and another water bottle in her field kit - that amused me the most. That just rings as right to me, since, yeah, I agree,when stuffing a field pack, that's what you can't ever get enough of. Heh.
-- Acyl