Past - Part 3 "Defenders of Mercy"
Character Background Stories
[Previously in Past - Part 2 "Guardian Angel"]
. . . . . .
Teya nodded as the Marine spoke. Once he was finished, she said, "To be very honest with you, Jackson, I have no idea what's going on. Most of the meteors were supposed to fly pass Ardola with a few possibly burning up in the atmosphere before they ever reached the ground. There was no indication that they would cause so much damage. Otherwise Starfleet would have dispatched a ship to deal with them."
"But more important, judging from the data reported back by all the landings teams, yours included, all of the major points of impact from the meteors are either right on top of our diplomatic compounds or near them. You should have seen what's left of our consulate on the eastern continent, the damage to the embassy here looks like bruises in comparison. It's almost like someone aimed those meteors at them."
"Oh, and did I mention that the Yorktown is facing down five Ardolan vessels in orbit as we speak? No one has fired their phasers yet, but the situation is tense. The El'nar Ascendant and the Bunker Hill are on their way, but they won't arrive till 2030 hours tonight in the earliest. We can take on the Ardolan ships in a firefight, but the captain would rather not resort to that unless it's absolutely necessary. Right now our priority is to retrieve and evacuate as many Federation citizens as possible, and then find out exactly what's going."
Jackson couldn't believe what he was hearing. Somehow, the meteors had been deliberately aimed at the planet?! Why would someone do That? And now the locals were threatening not only the away teams that were on the surface, trying to help, but the ship in orbit as well? The Marine shook his head slowly, feeling a little disgusted by the news.
"Our sensors detected a concentration of life signs in the hills to the north-east of the city, but the interference from the mineral deposit there means we couldn't tell who they were and how many there were. So you will take a small team there and investigate. I'll take the rest of your men back to the embassy and establish a base of operations there. It might be half destroyed, but the embassy is still technically Federation territory. Hopefully that will deter the Ardolans. If not, we will make our stand there. Captain Lans has no intention of leaving Ardola until every Federation citizen has been accounted for and secured."
Gesturing at the few crates her team had brought with them, she said, "I brought you some extra toys in case you need them."
Jackson moved over to the three crates in question and looked inside, smiling slightly as he saw their contents.
. . . . . .
::Northeast Section of Capital City, Ardola::
Like Wraiths in the mist, Jackson and his squad moved silently through the rubble and foliage that filled the hill region in the northeast sector of the city. It had taken them nearly two hours to carefully work their way through three miles of territory, stopping a few times when native patrols were about to cross their path. Finally, Jackson and his team made it to their destination. Using hand signals, Jackson directed Privates Donaldson and T'Pella to find a good vantage point from which to assume overwatch duties. He then directed Corporal Mills to launch to mini drone, one of the toys that the X-O had brought Jackson, when they met up in the supermarket.
The mini drone, once airborne, was nearly invisible to sensors. It was used when atmospheric conditions made tricorder or ship sensors useless. It relied on old fashioned technology of digital cameras, utilizing various types of lenses and vision settings, such as infrared or low light, to see the battleground. Once launched, Corporal Mills would control the drone remotely, seeing everything it sees, via a special monocular device attached to his helmet.
Once his men were in position, and the drone was launched, Jackson took a knee and had a quick drink from the water bladder built into his pack.
A few minutes passed in silence before Corporal Mill turned to Jackson and said, "The drone has detected fifteen life signs in a cave just over that hill, Lieutenant. I'm reading Andorians, Vulcans, Human, Betazoids . . . and Ardolans. They all seem to be juveniles, sir."
Considering their options, Jackson knew that there was no choice, they had to secure and protect those civilians. After ordering his overwatch detail to make their way over to a spot that would cover the approach to the cave, he rallied the rest of the squad and moved out. He didn't like the fact that there didn't seem to any adults with the group in the cave. Something very bad was going here.
Less than a half hour later, Jackson and his team finally made their way over to a spot about ten meters from the cave opening. After ensuring that there were no hostiles around, he ordered Privates Mavis and Freedman to advance to either sides of the opening and secure it. Once they were in place, he ordered Mills to put the mini drone into a circling orbit of the area. Then, he had Mills follow him up to the cave.
As they reached the opening, Jackson said aloud, "Friendlies incoming, if you are armed, hold your fire." After hearing some soft shuffling inside, he spoke aloud again. "I say again, friendlies incoming, I am Lieutenant Jackson Werner, of the Starfleet Marine Corps. If you are armed, please do not fire." After waiting a few more beats, he nodded to Mills, then carefully entered the cave. Mills had his weapon at the ready, flashlight playing over the inside recesses of the cave, while Jackson kept his rifle pointed down, in a non-threatening way. The last thing he wanted, was to scare a bunch of kids, especially as they were certainly already on edge and terrified.
After moving about twelve meters into the cave, Jackson and Mills turned a corner, and came face to face with the civilians that the mini drone had detected. They were all huddled together against the back wall. Upon seeing the two Marines, they gasped in fear, undoubtedly in shock. Jackson gestured for Mills to lower his rifle, as he spun his around to his back on its sling. Raising his hands slowly, he spoke in a calm, quiet voice. "It's okay. We're not going to hurt you. We're here to save you. My name is Lieutenant Jackson Werner, and this is Corporal Johnathen Mills. We are with the Starfleet Marine Corps. Our starship is in orbit and will get all of you to safety. Now, who here is in charge of the group?"
"I am." A small, but firm, voice came from behind a human boy as an Andorian girl stepped forward. It was the same girl that the Marines had run into earlier in the food store. She had a few more bruises on her cheeks and right shoulder that weren't there before. "What do you want?" she asked cautiously.
Kneeling before the young girl, to look less threatening, Jackson replied. "I want to get all of you to the safety of my starship up in orbit. But first, I need some information from you."
Talas studied the Marine in front of her for a moment and then looked up at the other Marine behind him. Looking back down, she nodded.
Jackson gave the young girl a soft, non-threatening, grin. "Good." He kept his voice low and friendly as he spoke. "Okay, first thing, do you know where your parents, or the other Federation adults are?"
"They took them to the camp by the river." A pause. "Are you going to save them?"
Seeing how scared the girl and the other children were, Jackson started getting angry, though he didn't let it show. Instead, he kept his voice calm and soothing. "I'm going to do everything in my power to do just that." He signalled for the two privates guarding the cave opening to come inside. He then stood and moved back from the children to discuss strategy with his team.
Once a plan had been made, Jackson made his way out to the mouth of the cave and called in his situation report.
=/\=Teya here. Report, Lieutenant.=/\=
"Ma'am, my team and I have found a cave, located about five clicks northeast of the supermarket. Inside is a group of fifteen children, mostly federation species. There are no adults with them. After speaking with the oldest one present, an Andorian teenage girl, I have a possible location of their captured parents. Requesting a team to come collect these children, while my team investigates the location of the adults."
=/\=Copy that. I'll send Sergeant Caro and her team to collect the children. Proceed with caution, Lieutenant. You are authorized to use any and all necessary means to ensure the safety of Federation citizens, but no more than what's necessary, Lieutenant. The Yorktown is still facing down five Ardolan vessels in orbit, and our Ardolan friends on the ground are watching our every move. The Captain doesn't want to escalate the tension unless it's absolutely necessary, at least not until the El'nar Ascendant and the Bunker Hill get here. Also, our intel suggests that there might have been a coup. We have been unable to contact the Ardolan First Minister. So stay sharp, and ask questions before you shoot.=/\=
Jackson acknowledged both the information and his orders. He then closed the channel and told the children to remain hidden, that another team was on their way to get them to safety. Once that was done, the lieutenant led his team back into the forest, heading towards the site where the Federation adults were being held.
Less than an hour later, Werner and his team were laying prone, at the top of a ridgeline, gazing down into the river valley. They had found the camp. Unfortunately, they found more than just a small enclosure, holding Federation citizens captive. They also found the spot where the Ardolans were torturing, and then killing Federation citizens.
To say that the team was angry and itching to strike back, was putting things quite mildly. However, Jackson held his men back, for now. He needed to clarify his last orders. He moved back from the ridgline and contacted Teya again.
It took a moment longer than usual for Teya's voice to come through the comm link.
=/\=You'd better have some good news, Werner. The Ardolans just gave us an ultimatum to vacate the embassy within the next ten minutes.=/\=
"Ma'am, I have good news and bad news. Good news is that we found the camp where our people are being held. There are fifty-seven adults of various UFP species. They are being held captive by a squad of Ardolan soldiers. Bad news...the Ardolans are taking our people, one at a time, stinging them up in full view of the camp, then torturing them, before viciously murdering them. My team can take out the Ardolans before they get out a call for help. I am strenuously requestiong permission to rescue our people, using any means necessary, Ma'am!"
The delay in Teya's response was even more noticeable this time around. When her voice finally came back through the comm link, the Marines could hear explosions and weapon discharges in the background.
=/\= The Ardolans have begun their assault. Those dammed poozers had a very different idea of how long ten minutes are. =/\=
Another long pause before Teya returned on the comm.
=/\= Lieutenant Chang's team has just . . . First Minister Al Luan from the mutineers. The Minister has officially requested Federation assistance in restoring his government. Your order . . . rescue all Federation hostages, secure the camp site, and await further order. Lethal force is authorized. I repeat, lethal force is authorized. Our ground teams are stretched pretty thin, so you will be on your own until the . . . Ascendant and the Bunker Hill arrive. Their current ETAs are ten and twelve minutes."
"Orders heard and understood, Ma'am," Jackson replied coolly. "We will get the job done, Ma'am. Jackson out." He closed the comm channel on his end. Then, using hand signals, he ordered his team to take up positions all around the camp. Each Marine was responsible for eliminating two hostiles each. Next, he ordered Mills to use the drone to take out the lone guard tower. The assault would start upon that happening.
A few minutes later, each Marine was in his or her position. Jackson took a breath and nodded to Mills. Suddenly, the drone, which had been launched while the team was getting in position, locked onto the base of the tower and dove straight at it at its full speed.
The Ardolans were too busy torturing the next prisoner, a Vulcan woman. They had ripped her clothes from her body and had tied her down to the ground, spread eagle. They were about to enjoy themselves at her expense, when the guard tower base exploded, causing the structure, which held both the comm unit for the camp, and the camp commander, collapse to the ground in flames.
Almost instantly, five guards dropped to ground, after their heads exploded. Less than a heart beat later, five more met their end as well. It was at this point that the remaining Ardolans regained their senses and started to fire back out through the fence. Unfortunately for them, they couldn't be sure how many enemy troops were out there.
Over the next few minutes, a heavy firefight ensued. Private T'Pella was killed when the Ardolans had used a mortar on her position. Immediately following, the mortar site was demolished by several rounds of high explosive grenades.
The outgoing firing ended soon thereafter. After waiting a few beats, Jackson signaled his remaining team to rise and advance on the camp. They did so cautiously, unsure of any hidden traps that may have been laid.
Ten minutes later, Jackson and his team were entering the camp. Carnage was everywhere they looked. The bodies of UFP citizens were piled up near a small barracks hut.
Jackson first went over to the tied down Vulcan woman. Pulling out his poncho, he covered her nude body, then had Mills cut her restraints. Private Donaldson, who was also the team medic, immediately got to work, stabilizing the terrified woman, well, as terrified as a Vulcan can express.
Jackson moved towards the barracks, the other two Marines in his team following close behind. The two privates took up flanking positions on the only door into the building. Jackson reached slowly for the door handle.
Suddenly, the door burst outwards, and a very large Ardolan rushed out at Jackson, tackling him to the ground. The pair immediately became entwined in a desperate struggle to the death. Neither of the young Marines could get a clear shot on the Ardolan as the struggle escalated.
After several tense moments of Jackson and the Ardolan wrestling, one trying to gain the upperhand on the other, Jackson finally found his opening.driving his right knee upwards as hard as he could, he found his target and was rewarded with the surprised, high-pitched, grunt that left the Ardolan's lips, as his genitals were assaulted. A good portion of the fight went out of him, and Jackson cashed in on the opportunity, before adrenaline-fueled anger brought his foe back into focus.
Moving quickly, Jackson kicked out of the Ardolan's weakened grasp, then, while holding tightly on to his left wrist, wrapped his legs around the Adrolan's neck, interlocking his ankles together. He then squeezed his thighs together as tightly as he could, while pulling on the left arm. The Ardolan quickly started to thrash about, however, Jackson had rolled him onto his back and had all the leverage. After a few more minutes of drastic struggling, the a loud cracking sound was heard, and the Ardolan stopped moving, his neck broken.
Panting heavily, Jackson released his opponent and started to get to his feet, one of the privates moving to his side to aid him. "Thanks." He said, as he tried to slow his breathing. "Check the barracks, anyone tries anything, kill em," he ordered both marines. As they moved off, to carry out his orders, Jackson walked around a bit, stretching his sore muscles. He knew that he probably had some minor internal injuries, however, for now, they would have to wait until they got back to the ship.
::Later, Camp Commandant's Office::
Sam struggled against the burly Ardolan as she was dragged toward the inner office and was promptly rewarded with a slap to her face that nearly knocked her unconscious.
"Quiet, you brat!" an irritable Zon shouted at the human girl. Just then the doors to his office burst open, and a team of Marines rushed in with Jackson taking the lead.
Quickly turning around, Zon held the girl in front of himself and pointed his disruptor at her temple. "Don't you come any closer, or I'll blast her head open."
Werner and two of his Marines covered the guard and his hostage from three different angles. Knowing that this situation could get real bad, real quickly, Werner raised his empty right palm towards the guard, lowering his phaser in his left hand a few millimeters. "Easy now, partner," he spoke calmly and quietly. While his outside demeanor seemed calm, his mind was a flurry of activity, as he quickly did the math of the situation. He would only have one shot at saving the girl.
While still keeping his eyes on the guard, Jackson calmly spoke to the girl. "Everything will be okay, sweetheart. Go ahead and close your eyes, you don't want to see this."
As the cold barrel of the disruptor pushed against her temple, Sam quivered and closed her eyes, tears streaming down her cheeks in terrifying silence.
When the girl's eyes were wrenched tightly shut, Jackson turned all of his attention back to the guard. Continuing to speak in a calm, level voice, he said, "There's no need for more bloodshed. Release the girl unharmed and I give you my word as a Marine that my men will not harm you."
Zon sneered at the offer. "How about this? I'll walk out of here with this brat, and you will give me a warp capable shuttle. Once I'm out of the system and certain you are following, I'll drop her off somewhere nice." Pressing his disruptor harder against Sam's temple, he continued, "And you have five seconds to decide, Lieutenant Jackson. Five, four . . ."
Just then a loud explosion outside caught the Ardolan's attention and paused the dreadful countdown momentarily.
That slight break was all that Jackson needed. In one fluid movement, with his right hand, which he had been slowly moving to his right thigh while he kept the Ardolan's attention on his left hand, pulled his M31 Tactical Pistol from its holster, brought it up, aimed and squeezed the trigger.
A instant later, the Ardolan's head jerked back and he fell to the ground dead, a nine millimeter hole suddenly visible above his right eye. The young human girl was left standing, shivering in fear, where he had been holding her. Jackson quickly reholstered both of his pistols and moved forward to gather the scared girl up in his arms. "Shhh, you're safe now, sweetheart," he spoke softly to her as he moved her away from the dead body.
As soon as she was in the Marine's arms, all the tears that had been held back by sheer terror broke through and gushed down the girl's bruised cheeks. Her cry filled the small room. The nightmare was over.
Two privates exited the barracks and reported that it was empty. Jackson's mission to take the camp and liberate the prisoners was a success. After ordering the privates to go help with the prisoners, Jackson called in the status report. "Jackson to Commander Teya, come in please, Ma'am."
=/\= Teya here. Your status, Lieutenant. =/\=
"Ma'am, camp secured," Jackson reported. "All hostiles eliminated and the prisoners are free. We need a medical team at this location asap, as there are a few injuries."
=/\= Roger that. Medical team is on their way to relieve you. We have repelled the Ardolans here at the embassy. The Yorktown, the Bunker Hill, and the El'nar Ascendant have disabled most of the Ardolan flotilla in orbit, and the rest are standing down. Once you are relieved, return to base camp. We still have some mopping up to do in the capital city and can use a few extra hands.=/\=
Jackson nodded as he replied. "Roger that, Ma'am. As soon as the medics get here, we will beat feet back to base camp. Jackson out." He double tapped his communication unit, terminating the channel. He then moved over to the remaining survivors, helping them as best he could. Less than twenty minutes later a medical shuttle came into view. After banking around the compound, it set down rught outside the main gate.
As soon as the shuttle touched down, the rear loading hatch fell open, and several medical personnel scurried over to Jackson and the rest of the group. After ensuring that his Marines had received any necessary treatment, and securing the remains of his dead in the shuttle, Jackson led his remaining unit back towards town. As the tactical situation had changed, they were no longer quiet in their movements. They would reach their destination in a quarter of the time in which it had taken them to get to the compound.
Constable Zon Morin
(NPC - Oliver/Roger)
XO, USS Yorktown
(NPC - Oliver/Roger)
Lieutenant Jackson Werner
3rd Platoon Leader
45th Ranger Detachment