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I am experienced roleplayer returning to online roleplay after 10+ year break. I have missed roleplaying and the creative outlet it is for me. I am interested in casual roleplay. I consider myself a decent writer and I will put effort into my writing. I am not into writing a novel for one post though. Descriptive, character building, engaging, yes. I will always write at least 2 paragraphs unless it is a quick fire session revolving around dialogue over private messages. I am a fairly laid back person and don't want to be a grammar nazi. I believe in quality over quantity. Roleplaying is a hobby and a escape from real life pressures.

Genres I am interested in:
Middle Ages
Science Fiction
Crime Drama

Fandoms I am interested in:
Harry Potter
Anita Blake
Dragonriders of Pern
Star Wars

I don't mind roleplaying romance but I am not looking for smut. It has to make sense for the roleplay. I am okay with a fade to black moment instead of roleplaying it out. For me its about the story and the character. I am open to roleplaying it out.

I am in the Pacific Standard Timezone. I work full time and will be seen in the evenings and weekends online.

Most Recent Posts

Charles “Chuck” Simmons - Callsign: Boomer

Rocking the Doors Down

Souk Semmarine, Marrakesh, Morocco

1355 Local Time

Chuck and Duke had been squeezed into the back of the box truck that was dressed up to look like a local delivery truck. The back was a tight squeeze with three giants in armor in it. The upgrades Sam had made to Chuck and Duke’s armor gave the animal some cooling along his body to help him deal with the oppressive heat. Duke was lying quietly but his ears kept twitching. He could tell that Duke was picking up on all the noise around him outside the truck. Merchants hawking their wares to tourists and locals alike. Tourists bargaining for the best deals. The sounds of that much humanity packed into such a tight space. Duke was well trained though and was alert but calm. He was not showing any signs of stress or heat exertion. Chuck always hated that period of time on a mission when you were waiting for the action to kick off. You could just stay revved up and tense while waiting, you would wear yourself out from the tension. You needed to be alert and ready to go at a moment’s notice if anything went wrong. Chuck rubbed Duke gently behind the ears to reassure him that he was there.

There was a window with a sliding wooden panel on the front wall of the back of the truck that could be opened by the driver allowing him to see into the back of the truck. The wood slid open and the man spoke to them through the window in harshly accented English. The driver said, "Okay, go time. Front door is yours, boss man says raise hell."

The sounds of explosions was in the background as they were told it was go time. Chuck had been towards the back of the truck with Duke. Oliver was closest to the door which he easily flung open. Chuck was amused as Oliver made a point to mention there was no water. Chuck grinned having been on that op with Oliver at the end. Oliver had come to help them exfil on the Columbia operation and had complained about being on the boat the whole time. He liked the man but found his distrust of boats and being on water amusing. He almost wanted to yank his chain and remind him that the garden had a fountain in it and was a natural oasis. He decided now was not the time to poke the big guy. He followed Tiny Nord out the back of the truck. Duke jumped down easily and stayed by his side. He gave Duke the hand signal for guard.

Chuck was a little puzzled when he saw Oliver looking at his shield. He raised an eyebrow with a wry smile at the megaphone duct taped to the top of his shield. He winced as the megaphone made that loud thump noise as he tapped it and then did a high pitched squeaky feedback noise. Oliver then fired a few shots in the air as he drew the attention of everyone nearby. Duke’s ears lowered as he growled softly not liking the noise. Chuck put a hand on his back to reassure Duke as Oliver began to address the crowd.

"For those who wish to leave, you have five seconds to do so, if you don't feel free to shoot at me and see how well it goes!" It was as if the announcement was open season on Tiny Nord as the megaphone was shot to tiny pieces.

Chuck could not hold back the laughter as he listened to Oliver’s announcement and watched as his megaphone met a quick death. He stepped up next to Oliver. “Thank you for trying,Tiny. It was a good idea” Chuck watched as Tiny Nord set up his shield and rifle and charged towards the heavy on the barricade side of the entrance to the garden. Chuck thought it was a great idea. Maybe they didn't understand him. Chuck asked his AI to set his suit to transmit on high volume. He then began to speak in Arabic. “If you don’t want to be involved in the coming fight, flee! Attack us and you will become a target too.” He flipped off his impromptu megaphone system and charged into the fight.

He pulled Lucille from its sheath on his back and ran off behind Oliver towards the MRAPs. Duke charged hard at his heels before slinking away into the alleyways along the sides. Chuck dodged as best as he could. He still had admirable agility and speed in his suit with the extra assists that Samantha had built into it. He was still taking fire from the auto-turrets. His armor was shrugging off the automatic fire as bullets pinged off his heavy armor. He lifted Lucille high and swung it with all his might at the auto-turret on the MRAP in front of him which was to the left of the main entrance. The heavy club crushed the barrel which caused the gun to misfire and explode. Chuck didn’t waste any time as he charged towards the next MRAP to disable the automatic gunfire the team was taking. Oliver was tanking the heavy in the middle. That left the two MRAPs on the right for Jamie. Duke had lunged out of a dark alleyway taking down a soldier who had been firing at Chuck from behind with a gun. Duke had torn the man’s throat out before moving on to look for his next target.

The fight had just began. The streets surrounding the garden became a scene of total chaos as locals who were not part of whatever was happening with the garden fled the area in terror. Those who were part of Artemis or getting paid by them came towards the team of heavies working to remove the barriers between them and the residence. Chuck noted that Ebrima was correct. The locals were getting off the streets and moving away from the fighting. That made Chuck breathe a little easier. He hated it when the bad guys used innocents as shields. Raven Squad's attack had obviously caught them by surprise. They were responding but were unable to use those kinds of dirty tactics and hostages to their advantage. Chuck decided it was the right time to show them why he was called Boomer. "Hey Tiny didn't you say you wanted some fireworks? I would tell you to hold my beer and watch this, but you seem like the type to drink it instead." He grinned as his southern drawl was playful as he joined Oliver in taking the fight to the enemy. He fired a missile at the two MRAPs now that he had disabled their automatic turrets. The MRAPs showered the soldiers around them in shrapnel as they exploded.
Samantha Dalton Callsign: Chaos

17:30 Local Time - The infirmary

Samantha had been nervous facing Freya. She was used to operating alone and not having friends. Having friends and people who depended on her was something she was still getting used to as she got used to Raven. It was probably a big part of why she was so protective of Skye and Freya and so defensive about her decisions. Samantha had not exactly been avoiding Freya but she had been nervous about how she would feel about what had happened when they landed. She knew that Freya understood that Skye had made her decision and why Samantha had supported that decision. They had talked on the plane. Sam was grateful that Ebrima had suggested that they bring her some food. A bribe wouldn’t hurt, right?

For a giant, Freya looked wan and pale. There was almost a fragility to her along with a sense of enduring strength. She knew her giant friend had been going through a lot of pain. They were keeping her on a drip to accommodate her physiology and metabolism. She looked to be resting when they came in. Sam was almost sorry they woke her up. Relief floods through her as Freya greets her warmly with a smile. Samantha relaxed as she felt Freya arms fold around her in a hug. Samantha squeezes her gently in return.

She gives Freya a stern look as she begins taking the blame for her injuries. “Hey no one gets to talk about my friend that way. Not even you! I agree that you have a bodacious butt though.” She smiles playfully at Freya for a minute before allowing her face to fall into more neutral lines. “Seriously, you did it to save us all. I have some ideas on ways I can improve your armor so you can’t injure yourself like this again. We will talk when I get back from this next op.” She gave her hand a light squeeze so she could pull her table and the food closer so she could eat.

Samantha bit her lip and looked down as Freya addressed her yelling at her sister. She looked up to meet Freya’s eyes with a sheepish look on her face. “I already apologized to her and she didn’t flatten me into bug paste. I appear to have been forgiven. We will make it work. You just focus on healing. You take your time and do it right yeah?” She gave Freya a stern look. “I have your siblings for back up. Honestly I feel like the midget in the giant brigade at the moment.” She gave Freya a rueful smile. She chuckled as Freya thanked her for the food. “I can’t take all the credit. It was Ebrima’s idea to bring you the food.” She chuckled a little as Freya’s stomach growled. “Rest, good food, and listen to the doctors. They will get you back on your feet before you know it.”

She tilted her head to one side and tried to decide how to answer Freya’s question of where they were going next. Samantha had seen the intel. She had a good idea where the team was going next but it hadn’t been announced yet. “Adam has not given any official orders. Based on the intel I have been looking at, my guess is somewhere in the Middle East.” She looked at her friend and gave her a warm smile. “Enjoy your dinner. We have a briefing to get too. I will visit again as soon as I can, okay? You rest and get well. I will cover the team’s back on this one. It is my turn.” She gives Freya what she hopes is a confident smile. She then makes her way to the briefing room.

Souk Semmarine, Marrakesh, Morocco

1330 Local Time

Chaos in clear sight

Samantha sat with Purna in the little tea shop. They were drinking mint tea and seeking a respite from the sun and never ending heat. The streets that made up the maze like bazaar seemed to hold onto the heat like an oven. The warm breeze was almost non existent blocked by the buildings that lined the ancient marketplace. Samantha’s gray eyes picked up the color of the turquoise scarf and made her look even more exotic. Her face covering pulled down below her chin so that she could sip her tea. The little shop felt like an oasis of calm in the busy noisy marketplace. Sam’s eyes had taken in the interior with ease in a single glance when they entered. She had only spotted locals inside. None of the patrons had the bearing of a skilled soldier or cop. Samantha had been taught how to look for body language and posture that could give away a skilled operative or a person who had combat training. The patrons seemed to be shopkeepers and locals at the market for their own purposes.

Samantha smiled at Purna as he shared what would sound like a natural conversation to anyone paying attention to them. “It is lovely, Uncle. It is a bit sweet for my tastes as well.” She saluted him with her cup even as she replied in softly spoken Arabic. She kept to her role as the niece of a local shopkeeper helping her uncle with a market day. Samantha had watched careful for any signs of a tail or that they had drawn any attention at all. They had been accepted as one of the locals and blended right in. She had traded some common well wishes and greetings with other locals. The kind that they might offer a common acquaintance or someone they thought they knew. No one had batted an eye. She had trailed behind Purna at a respectful distance protruding a respectful and dutiful demeanor. Purna had played his part to perfection, acting the protective uncle to a favored niece. She nodded dutifully as he said it was time to leave. “Yes uncle.” She gave him a respectful nod as she answered in softly spoken Arabic even as her eyes twinkled mischievously. She rose to her feet and followed Purna out of the tea shop. She stayed a step behind him to his left. She didn’t want to be in the way of his weapon if he needed to draw it. She walked close enough to hear him.

Samantha listened to Purna describe his home. “I will have to visit your home at some point. It sounds like a fascinating place. I would love to see the history that I am sure is still evident in the culture there.” Samantha’s eyes followed the action as tourists were stopped by local military and police. Sam and Purna passed unmolested. She raised an eyebrow as she noted the t-intersection where so many of the tourists were being stopped. A gateway to other activities in the market perhaps? She casually stumbled and caught herself along the wall with a hand as she slapped one of her disposable cameras into place. She wanted to keep an eye on what was happening at that intersection.

Samantha paid attention as Purna went over the plan once more. Samantha was fine with this plan. Her skills were going to come in very useful for this op. She was glad to be paired with Purna for this operation. This kind of operation was more in her wheelhouse than attacking facilities. She was used to subterfuge and stealth to find the information she needed. She softly answered Purna again in Arabic in case anyone was listening. She wanted him to know she had heard him. “Understood.”

Samantha moved easily at Purna’s side as he held her hand. A way to signal to local men that she was under his protection as a family member. She understood that he was playing the part and this was expected in this part of the world. She kept a pleasant look on her face as she pretended to adjust her pack just like a native woman would if the load shifted. It added to their story. No one had tried to stop them or even sell them anything. The hawkers in the marketplace could be downright aggressive and were with tourists. Their cover as locals was holding up as they made their way through the Souk. Samantha easily picked out the armed men that were local military or police. The closer they got to the garden the more nefarious types of armed men began to show up. They appeared to be local muscle for the differing criminal elements around. She noticed the local military and police here didn’t seem to notice them at all. She did notice that tourists seemed to be stopped more frequently the closer they got to their target destination.

They approached the entrance to the La Jardin Villeneuve. What she could see of it through the opening was beautiful. There was a heavy presence of Morrocan Army soldiers at the entrance to the garden. Tall stone walls surrounded the garden. Across the streets surrounding the garden were buildings and shops in varying heights. There were tight alleyways between some of these buildings leading to inner courtyards behind shop fronts or residences for shop owners. Purna pulled her into one of these alleyways as if it was his shop. Confidence could sell that you belonged in a location. They went far enough down the alleyway to be out of sight.

Purna began to pull out his equipment. They were splitting up from here. She nodded as untied the fake cloth that covered her tactical pack. She unzipped it and began to pass him some equipment as she began to explain how to use it. “Wait, I have some gear for you. These are disposable button cameras. Just peel and stick and push once to activate.” She passed him a set of 10 cameras. “I will be able to watch their feeds and have my AI monitor them.” She passed him a small zipper pouch of buttons. “These can help disable cameras and electronic locks. Peel and stick. Press and count to five. It will deliver a small electrical charge that can short out electronics such as cameras, motion detectors, and electronic locks. They might also work on auto turrets that require motion detectors. It can prevent the lock from opening after being disabled. So use it carefully.” She dug back into her pack and pulled out one of the perfume bottles of knockout drops. “Spray in their face and it will put someone to sleep in a hurry. It's the same stuff as in the grenades but in a container for one on one use.” She gave him a grin as she watched him put it all away on his person.

Purna gave her a hug and she returned it. “Don’t worry. I will get in easily. I got your back. Be careful in there.” She released him and watched as he went forward and took off through the shop they had been next to.

Samantha put her pack back on and secured her look as a local woman once more. She walked out of the alley and passed the barrier in front of the garden. She deliberately walked past the guards and turned down the side of the garden. She grinned when she found what she was looking for. She turned down the alleyway next to a tall two story brick and clay building. The building had a flat roof with a terrace on top. The entrance to the terrace was from stairs from an interior courtyard that was hidden from the garden side of the marketplace. The shops all backed up together to create interior courtyards for the shopkeepers who lived above their shops. These interior courtyards became a communal outdoor living space for those who lived in that block of shops.

Samantha grinned as she ran and jumped up and bounced from wall to wall pushing up and over until she had landed on the rooftop terrace. She reached through the slit in her robe and began to slap button cameras along the edge of the roofline to give her a view of the street below. She then began to run and jump onto the next roof. She slapped cameras along the edge of the roof as she went. She went as far as she could before she ran out of rooftops that could take her weight. She knew if she landed on that tin roof she would fall through it. She accepted it. It was too far for her to jump across. She would have to get down and scale back up.

She climbed down and came out of the alleyway walking as if she had every right to be there. She had noticed there seemed to be fewer locals this close to the garden. She didn’t draw any undue attention. She made sure her face covering was on. All that was visible was a thin slit with her eyes showing. She walked to the far corner of the garden where the residence was. She quickly scaled the old wall. There was plenty of handholds for her. The wall was wide enough to walk on. She ran down the wall headed to the residence roof. She didn’t want to get spotted up here. She was fast. She thought for sure the guards below her would have spotted her. They had been looking the other way smoking.

She jumped over to the residence roof. She slapped a few cameras up as she climbed over the wall that separated the garden wall from the residence balcony. She ducked down below the balcony wall. She crouched low with her back to the wall. She pulled off the cloth and her tactical backpack. She pulled on her gloves and pulled off the turban. She pulled on her helmet. She rested back on her heels in a position she could move in a hurry if she needed too.

She was just getting started when she heard Purna tell her. "Inside, Chaos. We have a lot of hostiles here. Be careful."

Samantha kept her voice low so she wouldn’t reveal his position. “Chaos in position. Beginning electronic countermeasures.” She wanted him to know in case she kicked the hornet’s nest. She settled into the zone. “Bob begin scanning for accessible computer systems and signals. Deploying mini drone.” She touched her necklace and deployed the minidrone built into it. She began to scan the skies around the garden. She was surprised she had not been caught yet. She looked around and began to scan for drones. She laughed a little as she spotted them. No wonder she had not been spotted. The drones were hovering over the open main entrance that had all the soldiers and barricades. The other drone was hovering in front of the residence but had cameras that were stationary pointing down. They would have spotted her if the drone had been higher but it was just below the roofline. It was below where she had come in from. If they had another drone, she had not spotted it yet.

Bob reported back within moments. “Encrypted Wifi signal coming from the residence. Cellular wifi signals coming from multiple directions. Some are encrypted, some are not.” Samantha thought about that. It made sense a great deal of the merchants probably had cellular wifi for their businesses to take card transactions. “Disregard cellular signals and focus on the encrypted wifi signal from the residence. Show me the camera feeds.” For the first time since she slapped up some of the cameras she could see what they were capturing. The best ones were the ones she had just planted on the residence facing the main gate where all the soldiers were. “Bob monitor camera feeds and notify me of soldier movements at the main gate.”

Samantha settled into work. She activated her haptic gloves so she could interface with her laptop and went to work trying to gain access to the systems remotely. Who knew she might get lucky. She was ready to announce she was here just yet. She wanted to give Purna a chance to get in deeper before she let them know they were here. She sneered as a short time later she had managed to infiltrate the residence wifi. She had gained access to their network. Within moments she had managed to take control of the drones. She left them hovering but had lopped the camera feeds. She doubted the operators were skilled enough to pick up on that though. She began to have Bob go after the databases and download as much as he could. “Bob scan active cameras using facial recognition. Notify if any high value targets show up.” She keyed her comms and reported in. “Chaos controls the airwaves.”
Charles “Chuck” Simmons - Callsign: Boomer

Briefing Room at Raven’s Rock

1800 Local Time

Chuck was not surprised by how fast they had made it to the briefing room. Raven had been working on finding leads since they got word the base was under attack. Not to mention they still had all the data and leads gained from the observatory mission before the base was attacked as well. They also had whatever they learned from Rose’s autopsy and gear. Chuck knew things like this were dynamic and when big stuff was happening missions came hard and fast. He took a seat next to Samantha which happened to look a little taller and reinforced for people of his size. He could get used to this base. It was nice not being the only giant around. Duke settled between his and Samantha’s chair. He laid down and put his head on his paws. Chuck stroked his back to reassure him it was okay to relax. He gave Duke one of the ribs that Tahlia had cooked without seasoning for him to keep him busy. Duke immediately began to gnaw on it enthusiastically, stripping it of meat. His furry buddy would be going into battle with him soon enough.

Chuck paid attention to the briefing. This was going to be a tough mission to pull off without collateral damage. He frowned, not liking that part at all. He was fine with shooting people who were trying to shoot him. What he didn’t want to see was some innocent merchant or worse a child or woman hit in the crossfire or by unfriendly fire. The images of this place showed it packed to the gills with people. Then he remembered those new rounds that Samantha had developed and shared with him. He waited until Adam asked if anyone had any questions.

Chuck’s deep voice was rich with smooth warm tones from his southern drawl. “How do we reduce collateral damage from bystanders? I understand that not everyone there will be friendly, however that bazaar is packed with people. Not all of them will be an enemy.” He turned and looked at Samantha "Did any of that new ammo make it to the base? Would it work in the other’s gear?” He turned back to Adam and nodded his respectfully to Samantha. “Sam developed some new rounds for my carbine and sniper rifle. A taser round that shoots out a bolt of electricity and a knock out gas. She made grenades like that too.” He shrugged and looked Adam dead in the eye. “I have been on missions in the Middle East before. I don’t mind taking out those who mean us harm, but I don’t want to see innocents in danger from us either.” Chuck was a man of honor and conviction. He would get the job done but he wouldn’t take shortcuts to do it.

Armory at Raven’s Rock

0000 Local Time

Chuck showered and dried off pulling on clean underwear before climbing into his heavy armor. He could see the repairs Samantha had made and was appreciative. He pulled on the stretchy gel-lined undersuit that worked like a neoprene diving suit.He paused to get Duke in his armor and gear before putting on the heavy outer layer. Chuck noted the reinforcement on the areas that had worried him and smiled. He appreciated that Samantha took care of his and Duke’s armor without asking him. He loaded extra magazines of Samantha’s new ammo into Duke’s saddle bags. He also added in some extra knock out gas grenades. He had enjoyed using them all in Columbia. He put in some explosives and detonation caps in case those skills were needed on this op along with some detonation cord. He made sure they were stored in separate compartments so there would be no mishaps with the explosives. He then gave Duke another rib to chew on while he finished gearing up.

Chuck pulled the heavy outer layer to his armor. He stepped into the heavy shell sliding his feet into the armored boots. He tightened the straps around his legs that would work with the undersuit to help provide the hydraulic assists and the synthetic tendons that gave him additional strength and speed. Chuck didn’t understand how it all worked. He had asked Sam and got lost in the explanation after about 30 seconds. He didn’t need to know as long as he knew it did. He slid his arms into the sleeves and the torso section which opened like a sideways clamshell shut as he triggered a button that closed up the suit. There was a whir of noise as straps tightened and the armor sealed itself onto Chuck.

He began to load up the pouches in his armor with spare magazines and grenades. He planned to take just his carbine since he was not needed for overwatch. He didn’t need his sniper rifle. He made sure his tactical sling was working properly and attached his custom carbine to it configured with an underslung grenade launcher. He preloaded it with knockout grenades. If they needed crowd control it was the safest option. Samantha had altered his suit to include a new holster for Lucille that had it on a slant across his back. It kept the handle easy to reach near his right hip. The new holster kept Lucille from swinging into anything and damaging the missile system or the jump jets. He checked and Samantha had already reloaded his missile system. He then grabbed his helmet and tucked it under his arm. He looked down at Duke and gave him a hand command. Chuck took the bone away from him and threw it away. He had stripped all the meat off it already. He would be sure to get him something similar when they got back. He grinned at Duke whose tongue was hanging out of his mouth with a little drool. "I take it you like reindeer? We will have to go hunting again when we get back." Duke gave a chuff and wagged his tail.

He then looked around to see who else was ready. He had not paid any attention to anyone else while he was gearing up in the heavy armory.
Samantha Dalton Callsign: Chaos

Briefing Room, Raven’s Rock

1800 Local Time

Samantha took her seat in the briefing room as she paid close attention to the briefing. They had a lead and they needed to pursue it. She knew Skye was doing her part. She needed to do hers and pursue any leads Raven found. Samantha had worked on a program to find the lead but then she had left it up and running with Raphael to babysit it. She had needed to work on gear and armor for their next op. So was unsure of exactly what lead had been found. She was finding out at the same time the others were.

Samantha gave Adam her full attention as he began the heart of the briefing.

"We believe him to be in the heart of the Souk Semmarine, a hive of markets, stalls, courtyards and alleyways. What we do know is that whilst Artemis's on the ground presence is low from most perception, we think they have something in reserve. Bribed guards, military, and worse, a significant security presence rolled deep into there. The souk is a maze. It's nearly impossible to look inside of, and worse still, incredibly easy to hide in so it is easy for them to entrench and hide further assets. But we've found him. No Rose, but he's there." Adam pulled in the Augmented Reality-enabled map on the table, projecting it out, visible to the team.

Samantha winced as she was familiar with that area. It was a crazy hive of modern technology and goods crossed with ancient traditions and culture. The black market was hidden in plain sight in a bazaar that felt never ending with twists and turns and dead ends. It could be a tourist's delight or trap. People went missing there and some never were heard from again. If you want a place where anything can happen, this was truly the place. She turned her attention back to Adam.

"That is La Jardin Villeneuve. A little slice of greenery in the arid souk, connected to Maison Villeneuve, an abandoned art gallery. Inside of there, small signs can be seen of an Artemis outpost, and preparing what, we do not know. But this all appeared four hours ago. Intel points to the fact they kidnapped him whilst he was on holiday, and they wanted security in case the Gendarmerie came knocking. The one that isn't on the pay. The other part of his kidnapping may be they are looking to do something with his expertise, in plain sight. Somewhere nobody could think to look. This is obviously a problem, requiring an immediate fix. We lose Henry from here, we have problem."

Samantha studied the map that he was showing. She paid close attention to the pictures. She was grateful for eidetic memory that would allow her to recall this information easily. She paid close attention to the images they did have of the marketplace. There were no government or police cameras in this part of the city. If her memory served her right, different local families and criminal overlords had carved out pieces of territory within this maze. They policed their own turf. When they went loud, they might have to fight more than Artemis. It is possible that Artemis had approached many of these groups to gain access and security for their purposes. This was one part of Morocco that the government had trouble regulating and policing. This was one of those places where the government turned a blind eye because it was easier and cheaper to let the locals sort things out for themselves. They didn’t interfere unless there was a severe threat to the public.

She could see why Artemis would have chosen this spot. It is close to the heart of the maze surrounded by the security provided by these other groups. It is also the source of water which is very valuable in the dry arid country. Control of water sources was power in this region, one simply had to look at their Bedouin past to see that. They chose a strategic position well.

She listened to Adam’s plan and couldn’t really think of anything to add.

Armory, Raven’s Rock

0000 Local Time

Samantha was grateful that the container that had made it to the base from New Zealand had some of the gear she had developed for the Singapore operation. She had a tactical backpack that she was utilizing for now to store her gear. Surprisingly the base did have some of the local currency on hand. She shoved the hard cash and some American money in the outer pocket of the pack. She put explosives, detonator caps, and extra ammo in the bag. She shoved a large first aid kit in the pack. She also added some of the bottles of the knockout gas. She loaded the special ammo she had developed into the bag. She had two magazines of the knockout darts and two magazines of the taser darts for her pistol. She loaded in a magazine of high penetrating rounds and regular rounds. She added two stainless steel bottles of water and some protein bars to the pack. She wouldn’t be able to carry much more and move easily.

She had showered and put on clean girl boxer briefs and a sports bra before pulling on her armor. She had retrieved her laptop from the intel den and made sure it was charged before plugging it into its protected spot in her armor. She pulled the gloves over her belt and let them dangle held in place by the tension on the belt. She decided to leave her long guns here. She wouldn’t need them on this op. This operation was up close and personal. Her goal was to blend in and then move fast. She strapped her knives around her abdomen and clipped the sheath bandolier into her armor where they attached. She then strapped her equipment belt around her waist and threaded her pistol onto it. She filled the pouches with tools she might need: lockpicks, small one-use buttons that shorted out electronic devices by sending an electrical surge through them, she put about 25 disposable button cams in one, a screwdriver set, and a put a few spare magazines in the clips for them. Once she was satisfied that everything was in place and easy to get too, she began working on her disguise.

Tahlia had managed to source some Bedouin made female clothing from that region. She was grateful since the more genuine the longer she would blend in without being spotted by locals. She pulled the woven colorful robe over her armor. She wound the geometric mosaic patterned turban in blues and purples around her head hiding her short hair. She then left a section to hang that would eventually be pulled across her lower face. She picked up the Henna and applied some regional markings to look like tattoos to her face. She referenced some pictures she had taken when she had been on assignment last in Marrakech with the CIA. Once she was satisfied she cleaned the excess henna away leaving what looked like blue tribal tattoos. She then used Kohl to create an exotic look around her eyes, changing the shape subtly with the dark black eyeliner. She finished her look by adding in the necklace that hid the drone that she had made for the Singapore operation. She added some bangle bracelets and henna tattoos to her hands to sell the look. She had a long colorful turquoise scarf wrapped around her waist in the tribal fashion which acted as a belt. The bulky fabric hid her slender profile armor. She made sure she could reach through a carefully hidden slit in the robe that was hidden by a fold of fabric to reach her knives and gun.

She then clipped her helmet to the outside of the pack on a strap designed for stuff like that. She made sure her helmet was strapped down tight. She then zipped up the pack and began to disguise it as a pack carried by a local lady. She made it look like a folded and tied piece of cloth around her body. The bulk of the pack fabric helped hide the bulk of her shoulder armor. She did a little test jump. She made sure everything would not jostle or make much noise. She began patting everything going over a mental inventory. She looked around trying to think if she had missed anything. She didn’t think so.

She turned as Purna came in and gave him a mischievous grin. She spoke to him in flawless Arabic with only a slight hint of an accent. “Do I pass inspection Uncle?” She turned around and looked every inch like an exotic Bedouin native woman who was buying things at the market for her family.
Charles “Chuck” Simmons - Callsign: Boomer

Camp Hannula, Pöyrisjärvi National Park, Finland

Dinner is served!

Chuck had spent most of the afternoon outside in the cold brisk air. He felt more relaxed and at ease after all the physical work and action. Duke was looking more relaxed too. He had lost that tension across his shoulders that was a tell tale sign of stress. He looked like any other dog in a room filled with laughter, conversation, and eating utensils hitting plates. His head would tilt from side to side as he listened in a curious manner. Duke’s eyes followed Tahlia as she moved around until she finally took a seat to eat. Chuck laughed knowing that Duke liked Tahlia.

Chuck took another bite of curry and watched the others. He could appreciate how preparing a meal and working together to set things right on the base had started bringing these different groups together. It was even more challenging when people came from different backgrounds and places. Chuck had an American Military background. Many of those around him came from mercenary backgrounds from all around the world. A few others came from different militaries. No matter the background, they all were seasoned warriors and understood the need for team efforts. He was glad the tension that had been present when they had landed had changed from that brooding aura of imminent violence to one anxious waiting. He was familiar with that tension of hurry and wait for orders to move out. They all knew it was coming soon but not exactly when.

Chuck gave Samantha a nod and an encouraging smile. He didn’t know her well but he knew she had been through a lot since he had joined the team. He didn’t know the details but he had read the after action report on the observatory op. That operation read like a bad action movie plot and it had really happened! He had heard through the grapevine that she had apologized for her behavior. He was glad to hear it. Chuck had been embarrassed a little by her unprofessional reaction to being questioned but at the same time he had given her mad props for it. How many times had he held his tongue over bad orders in the marines just to lose good men to stupid orders? He knew there was a time and a place for that kind of thing and that had not been the time. It was good to see her chatting with Ebrima.

Chuck finished his plate and rose to his feet. He scraped his plate and put it in the wash stack. He then began to walk around and introduce himself to those he had not met. He made his way over to Jamie. “Hello, I am Chuck. You must be Jamie, Freya’s brother.” He stroked down the fur on Duke’s back. “And this Duke.” He stretched out a hand offering to shake Jamie’s hand. Chuck's deep baritone voice is silky smooth with his Southern accent. The tone is warm and friendly.
Samantha Dalton Callsign: Chaos

Camp Hannula, Pöyrisjärvi National Park, Finland

1400 Local Time: The Armory

Samantha felt better after apologizing to Athena and Jamie. The tension amongst the team and Blue Sword personnel seemed to decrease which was good. She looked over her notes of what absolutely needed to be repaired and what she needed to make those repairs. She gathered what she needed and had Tahlia help her find or resource what she needed to do it. She got to work after sending Oliver and Ebrima messages asking them if they needed help with repairs on their armor or kit while she was in the armory working on the team’s suits.

Samantha’s suit had just needed charging, cleaned, and reloaded. She had been in a vehicle for most of the battle. Chuck’s armor needed the most work. He had minor dents, dings, and scrapes everywhere on his. There were some larger areas where he had been hit with heavier ordnance and grenades that needed some repair. Samantha started by cleaning it really well. Chuck had been in his armor for a long time, it was ripe. She sprayed the inside with an odor neutralizer and set the internal fans on to air it out. She then got to work on repairing the rest. She stepped back after an hour and looked at her handiwork. It would do for now. She was planning to upgrade him the next time she had a bit of free time. She had some ideas to make him a better mobile destruction platform. She had gotten some ideas from Chuck’s armor to upgrade Freya’s with. If she had anything to say about it, Freya would never again suffer this kind of injury. She would share the details with her giant friend later.

Samantha was looking around the armory and sighed as she realized that she didn’t need to worry about Freya or Skye’s armor. Tahlia, while she had been in the field as a sniper, was not really on the team. Samantha felt very alone. She didn’t really know Oliver, Chuck, or Ebrima. They were Raven and Skye had brought them on. She would get to know them in time the same way she had Freya and Skye.

She felt the tension from being bent over the computer and now the workbench in the armory. She let her head fall to her chest as she stretched out the tight muscles in her neck and back. She looked up at the clock and began to look over Duke’s armor. She frowned as she noted she wore spots on the armor. She made temporary repairs to the frayed webbing and added some flexible reinforcement over those areas for now. That should help prevent the extra stress the webbing was experiencing in those areas to prevent it from failing.

1700 Local Time: Chow Time

Samantha looked up from her bowl of curry and rice as Ebrima approached and suggested that they sneak some curry to Freya in the infirmary. She gave him a warm smile “I would love to help with that. I wanted to check on her anyway. Please have a seat and join me.” She indicated the empty chair across the table from her. “I am grateful for the company. How are you settling in? Sorry you had to join us in the middle of a turbulent time. I appreciate you sticking with us.” She was feeling better about everything now that her mind was working on other problems.

Samantha looked around to see where everyone was. Chuck was sitting on the couch eating with Duke laying at his feet. They both looked relaxed. She saw Tahlia was eating with Purna after helping serve dinner. Freya’s siblings were hard to miss as they seemed to be roving around and speaking with everyone. She inclined her head in greeting to Purna and Adam as she met their eyes. She turned to Ebrima. “What is your specialty?” She had no clue what was on his dossier. She could probably find it but she didn’t want to rock the boat anymore than she already had.

17:30 Local Time - The infirmary

Samantha grabbed a tray and set a big bowl of curry on it along with some reindeer ribs. She nodded to Ebrima. “Let’s go find our missing giant!” She took off for the exit as fast she could without spilling anything. She turned to Ebrima “This is heavier than it looks. Would you mind getting the door?” She waited for him before walking through and entering the hallway that would take them to the infirmary. Samantha just kept walking. She was not challenged by any of the guards or nurses. She found Freya easily enough. The infirmary was small but well outfitted.

Samantha gave Freya a brave warm smile as she approached the bed where she was laying. She set the heavily laden tray down on the table that was on coasters and would swing over the bed so Freya could sit up and eat in bed. She gave Freya an overly bright smile. “Hi Freya! Ebrima suggested that we should sneak you some of the good stuff.” She winked at Freya. Her smile wavered a bit as she finally met Freya’s eyes. “How are you feeling?” She felt compelled to rush out. “I am sorry I yelled at your sister! I apologized.” She bit her bottom lip and looked away nervously.
Samantha Dalton Callsign: Chaos

Camp Hannula, Pöyrisjärvi National Park, Finland

1200 Local Time: Lunch in the Rookery

Chaos had slipped in the door almost unnoticed at first. The team was mixing with the Blue Sword members and trying to get to know one another. She was hit with a wave of nostalgia as the scene while different resembled how they would gather at the New Zealand base for meals. She felt sucker punched as realized that Skye and Freya were not among the faces in the room. She would have to find out where the infirmary was and go visit her. She pushed the pain of that reality away. Freya was here just being cared for. Who knew if she would ever even see Skye again? She tried to turn her thoughts from their negative downward trajectory to something more positive.

She pulled up her big girl panties and apologized to everyone. She couldn’t take back what she had said. She could only move forward. That was a truth and one she tried to work from. She had wanted to blend back into the wallpaper but social cues meant she needed to respond to people. At least the nerves in her stomach had calmed down. She no longer felt like her stomach was trying to eat itself. Samantha nodded and returned Ebrima’s smile. She felt her shoulders finally coming down from up around her ears as her own tension lowered.

Samantha gave Jamie a tight smile at his very gracious and forgiving words. Jamie had offered to shake her hand. She looked like a toddler trying to shake the hand of a professional wrestler. Her hand was a third the size of his. She did her best to give him a firm businesslike shake. “Thank you for the kind words Jamie. I hope we will work well together.” She tilted her head back to look up at him. The two of them next to each other was a comical sight. Jamie was almost 3 feet taller than Samantha. Athena came to join them and it was even more comical since Athena was over 2 feet taller than Samantha. She looked like a munchkin visiting from Oz. She looked up at Athena as Athena was bent over to look her in the face. She was surprised by the questions about Singapore. She hadn’t know the details of that operation had been shared with other teams. Maybe Freya had shared the story with her sister? Samantha nodded graciously at Athena. “I get your ads on Social Media. I like to climb, sky dive, base jump, fly, and drive fast. You promote some of the brands I like to buy gear from.” She shrugged since all women who were into rock climbing, skydiving, or extreme sports of any kind knew who Athena was. It was simply the nature of the beast. The best gear for women who liked those extreme sports was often modeled by Athena. She sighed as she was hit with the realization that she would probably have to replace some of her more custom gear. Even for a woman, Samantha was short and petite.

Samantha was amused as Tiny Nord almost randomly asked if the group was having Poutine for lunch. It sounded like they had decided to make Poutine now. She gave a wry smile as she found herself smiling and it felt good. She nodded to Tiny Nord. “Poutine does sound good. I have always wanted to try it. I have heard about it. Never tried it.” Samantha just realized that Tahlia and Chuck were missing. “Where’s Chuck?” How did one misplace a 7’8” giant with a 4 foot fluffy canine with monster teeth that are always at his side?

1300 Local Time: The Armory

After lunch, Samantha went to the armory where she pulled her armor apart and cleaned it. She decided to add the anti-radar coating she had developed for the Observatory operation to her armor. It didn’t make sense to put a jumpsuit over the top if she can build that layer in. She worked on updating the optics in her HUD. It had been a little glitchy at times in the last operation.

She then took a close look at what was available for upgrades. She took a careful look at the shielding on Rose's suit. She would like to duplicate that shield for Duke. She would have to work on it. It seemed to be a huge power suck. If she could figure out ways to decrease the power draw and reduce the needed battery pack it might be feasible for Duke. She was reluctant to add too much to his armor. Duke’s partner was a heavy operator though. She felt his armor should be closer to Chuck’s while they were paired in the field. She worked on understanding the technology to see if she could reverse engineer it so she could improve it and duplicate it for those who wanted to add that feature to their armor.

She then spent some time pulling apart Chuck’s armor. She was not really happy with his armor and felt it could be better. She sighed since they didn’t have time for her to build anything from scratch right now. She noted the obvious repairs that would need to be made and what she would need to do. She kept a list of needed materials and supplies going using Bob’s verbal interface. She found that feature so helpful when she needed both hands.

She saw Tiny Nord’s and Ebrima’s armor was there as well. She felt she should ask them if they wanted her to look at it. She didn’t know if they would want her to or not. Some operators liked to maintain their own equipment.

She pulled out Freya’s battered armor and broke down in tears. Her friend’s armor needed only minor repairs yet she had taken some serious damage. The armor had done its job to protect her but she had still managed to tear up muscles, tendons, and ligaments. She did a lot of soft tissue damage which hurt more and took longer to heal. She wiped away the tears and checked the time. She would go see Freya after dinner. Time had gotten away from her while she focused on what equipment needed repairs or overhauls before their next operation. She washed up in the shop sink before heading back to the Rookery.

1700 Local Time: Chow Time

Samantha entered the rec room which had been turned into a dining hall. She smiled and nodded, accepting a plate of food from Purna and Adam. “Thank you. It smells good.” She took her plate to find an empty place at the table to eat. She dug into her food with gusto. Her appetite had finally returned and she was starving.

Chuck and Duke

Camp Hannula, Pöyrisjärvi National Park, Finland

1300 Local Time: Hunting Reindeer

Chuck had asked Tahlia how far they were going. He decided to take Duke with him. He didn’t feel comfortable leaving him behind on base. No one had really asked him or told him about any policies they had for canines. Until he was told otherwise, he would continue to keep Duke with him when possible. He put Duke’s harness on him before he grabbed the winter jacket that had been given to him.

He loved being out in nature. There was something about being outside and enjoying god’s handiwork that helped him feel normal. He didn’t remember his size or strength when he was climbing a mountain or tracking prey through a forest where trees were ancient and taller than him. There was something magical about those moments. It made him feel human and small. He was in awe of what nature looked like and could provide. Chuck even appreciated the heat and desert terrain of his last posting in the Middle East. The sunsets there were some of the most beautiful he had ever seen.

Tahlia couldn’t have asked him to help with a better assignment. He tried to remember the last time he had gone hunting. He had gone wild boar hunting with his father when he had been home on leave almost 2 years ago. He had managed to squeeze in some fishing with his dad but it was a different type of outdoor focus and contentment. Hunting took more skill and there was the thrill of pitting your cunning and strength against other animals. He was looking forward to seeing what this part of the world was like. He wondered if it would be reminiscent of his time in Alaska.

Chuck had threaded his hunting knife sheath onto his belt and situated it comfortable on his side. He had grabbed his sniper rifle from the armory and a pouch of bullets. He slung the rifle over his shoulder situating it for easy movement. He made sure it was snug and would stay put and not catch on stuff or rattle and make noise. The cold bit into Chuck’s face and skin as he stepped outside. He was used to warmer temperatures. It would take him some time to acclimate. He was excited to be doing something outside though.He bounced on his toes and breathed into his hands to warm them up. He nodded, satisfied he was ready and had what he needed. He smiled as he found some gloves and a black beanie tucked into the pocket of the jacket when he went to put his hands in to keep them warm. He pulled on the gloves and tugged the hat down over his ears and dark blonde hair. He felt better already.

He looked down at Duke whose tongue was lolling out of his mouth. “Are you ready to go for another run?” Duke bounced on his feet, his body full of excited energy. His tail wagged his whole body as he circled and barked once in reply. Chuck laughed and gave him a quick rub behind the ears. “Well come on then. We need to go meet up with Tahlia. She said to meet her by the garage which was supposed to be over by the warehouse where we saw her earlier.” Chuck acknowledged that it might be weird that he talked to his canine partner like he was a human. He swore the Malinois understood him half the time. Duke followed along at his side keeping up with him easily.

Chuck walked in the general direction that he needed to go. There was still a lot of activity and people around the warehouse. Chuck was grateful he was much taller than almost everyone on the base. He could easily see over the heads of most of the people on base. Duke stepped in front of Chuck and led the way. He didn’t question his companion. He knew Duke’s nose was probably better than a GPS map. He followed the dog past the work crews and around the building. He smiled as he spotted Tahlia arguing with someone about using a quad bike. Chuck just approached and waited while she finished. He stood behind her a little ways with crossed arms and an amused expression.

Tahlia seemed to win the argument as she turned towards him she had a satisfied expression on her face. She blinked as if surprised to see him so close. He chuckled as she startled. “Sorry Tahlia I didn’t mean to startle you. Duke and I are reporting for hunting duty.” He grinned at her as Duke sat at his side, his eyes following Tahlia’s movements.

Tahlia gave him an annoyed look before smiling. “You and Duke get to ride in the sled. We need to bag some reindeer to supplement the food supply here at the base.”

Chuck just nodded as a smile lit up his face. “I am looking forward to it. It will be nice to see more than just the base.” Chuck noticed another man coming towards him. He kept a neutral expression as the man approached. He looked to be joining their hunting party considering the gear he was carrying. Chuck waited for the man to approach and Tahlia turned noticing his attention was on something else.

Tahlia turned and swallowed nervously. “Chuck, this is Andrew. He will be joining us to give us a hand.” Tahlia couldn’t help but remember the embarrassing conversation with her father earlier. She hoped he would not embarrass her. She was very excited to spend time with him and get to go hunting with him.

Tahlia looked nervous for some reason and Chuck raised an eyebrow as he looked at her for a clue.

She fidgeted nervously with the strap of her rifle that was hanging across her chest. She looked down and swallowed before looking back up at him. Tahlia replied in a squeaky voice. “Andrew is my father. He taught me to hunt and shoot.”

Chuck smiled warmly at Andrew and bent to shake the other man’s hand. “It is a pleasure to meet you sir. Taniwah is an excellent shot and warrior. I am sure you had a hand in making that so.” Chuck wanted to be sure the man knew he appreciated the skills and aptitude his daughter had shown. “We have only worked together for a short time but she is exceptional.” He gave Tahlia a warm smile. Chuck knew Tahlia was still struggling to regain confidence and feel more like the person she was before her injuries. He hoped her father saw that she was still just as capable as she always was. Chuck’s American accent was prevalent as his Southern drawl was slow and deep as he spoke.

The older Kiwi sniper chuckled, the dark-haired special forces sniper turned simple farmer and part time consultant a little bemused by the snow, but no less, happy to help.

“I bloody hope so. Taught her everything I know!” He replied, a wry Kiwi accented chuckle as he looked up to the giant, a towering figure, at least as tall as Victor was. God, that was a hell of a fucking time ago, now in his late fifties, this was one long-arse way to go about things. The world’s ending again and here they were, hunting reindeer. Chuck however, was a nice guy. A lovely bloke, and while he expected nothing between them, at least, intentions never felt that way and Tahlia was more embarrassed than anything, well, he seemed okay to have around his daughter. She could hold her own, even against a giant like him.

“But, now she’s seen you, she’s a bit cocky, eh? You certainly brought out something in her. It’s alright. I know how it is. I covered Natalie Kanatario’s arse back in the day, picking off things that might hurt her and her lover. Now look at the two of you. And here we are again, doing the same. Cycle of life.” Andrew spoke with a certain Southlander charm, chuckling as he knew he could be so much worse, but hey, here it was.

Tahlia couldn’t stop the blush that flamed across her cheeks as unbidden was her earlier conversation with her father. She was grateful that he didn’t mention it in front of Chuck. She relaxed a little. Even as Chuck’s words of praise made her smile and gave her hope. Tahlia just hoped her father continued to be nice.

Chuck smiled warmly Tahlia’s father and laughed at his response. “Well shall we go?” He looked over at Tahlia as he sat down cross legged on the back of the sled and grabbed one of the handholds on the edge. He called Duke to him and had him lay next to him. He clipped a tie from the sled to the back of Duke’s harness. That should prevent him from being thrown off the sled should it become necessary.

Andrew clambered onto the back of the quad, leaning his feet on the back of it, readied up and good to go.
“Hit it, Taly.”

Chuck tightened his grip on the leather strap that was his handle on the sled as the sled jerked as the quad took off at speed. The quad handling the extra weight just fine. Chuck wrapped an arm around Duke as the wind whistled around them and the scenery flew by as they left camp.

Chuck had jumped off the sled when it stopped. He unsnapped Duke’s harness so he could move around. He followed towards where he had seen the reindeer go down. He didn’t waste any time field dressing the reindeer so that they could haul it back to camp. He left all the entrails and organs for the scavengers in the area. He wrapped the carcass in one of the tarps that had been brought for this purpose. Chuck easily managed to lift and wrangle the large game carcasses without any help. The activity warming him up from the cold. He used the tie downs and rope to secure the two carcasses to the back of the sled leaving room for him and Duke. He patted the back of the sled to let them know they were secure and ready to take off again. They went in search of the next herd.

1700 Local Time: Dinner time

Chuck had helped Tahlia unload all the reindeer carcasses and helped to clean them up in the industrial kitchen area. He helped break the animals down into smaller and more manageable pieces after helping skin them. He had cut off the heads for anyone who wanted them for trophies. He had done all the heavy lifting as the animals were broken down from a whole animal into halves and then quarters and finally smaller cuts of meat like ribs, steaks, and roasts. He made sure those preparing dinner didn’t need any more help before heading back to his room for a shower. He couldn’t help but feel a little nostalgia. His father would have loved hunting reindeer and relished the challenge as much as he had. Maybe he would see if his father would want to go hunting in another country in the future.

Once he got to his room he looked over at Duke and sighed. He needed a bath. He looked into the shower and sighed. Thank goodness it had a wand attachment or this would be awkward. He managed to get Duke clean after some contorting to fit them both into the small space. He rubbed Duke down with towels and got him as dry as he could. There was one of those hotel style hairdryers in the bathroom. He unplugged it and used it in the bedroom to get Duke dry. Duke laid his ears back, not happy with the noise it made. He sat still while Chuck got him dry but it took him almost an hour to bathe the dog. He sighed and washed his hands and put clean clothes on before leaving to find dinner. He had missed lunch and was hungry.

Chuck had been told dinner would be served in the Rec Room by Tahlia. He stepped outside and looked up at the sky. Even with light pollution from the base there was an impressive array of stars visible. He stood there quietly for a moment just drinking in the night sky. He absently stroked Duke’s head which was pressed into his leg. His stomach growled and he remembered where he was going.

Chuck stepped into the Rec Room which had been turned into a dining hall. The fireplace was lit and a long banquet table was filled with food. Reindeer meat was the star of the menu as curry was plated up and handed out. Chuck would feed Duke after they got back to the room. He had asked Tahlia to have a few reindeer ribs roasted for him without all the seasoning. That should keep his partner happy for the evening and be a good change in diet for him. Chuck made his way to a seat on the couch. He began to eat like the starved man he was. He got up and fetched a second plate before the hole in his stomach felt like it was beginning to fill. He would have fed a few tidbits to Duke but wasn’t sure what spices were in it. Some spices were dangerous for dogs. Duke sat relaxed next to Duke’s feet, his furry head moving around the room watching everyone. Chuck looked around and noticed that most of the team was here. He began to look around curiously. He had not really had a chance to meet many of them yet outside of run and gun situations. Duke looked relaxed and approachable.

Samantha “Sam” Dalton - Callsign: Chaos

Camp Hannula, Pöyrisjärvi National Park, Finland

Hiding in the nerd cave

Samantha had left her debrief with Adam and swung by her room. She pulled out her cell phone and texted Tahlia a list of things she wanted for herself. She needed some clothes that fit. She knew that Tahlia had done her best with what she had access to; however Samantha was only 5’4” and had a curvy figure. Most of the supplies on base were for mercenaries who were taller and bigger than she was, even the women. She sent her sizes, colors, preferred brands, and styles. She then grabbed her laptop and armor. She swung by the armory and stowed her armor where she was told too. She didn’t take the time to look around just yet. She would do that when she had more time. She would need to check over everyone’s armor and make any repairs. She then took her laptop with her and went to find her fellow nerds.

Samantha raised an eyebrow as she looked at what looked like a fancy log cabin home with a path through the snow. That is the location that Adam had pointed out from his office window. Samantha shivered as she quickly made her way into the building. She really needed a jacket. She bustled into the warm interior. She shut the door as fast as she could before turning around to inspect the space. She saw an open space with numerous empty desks and a rack of servers along the back wall. She smiled as she realized the servers had been set up in such a way that they help warm up the room. The backside of the servers had a vented wall that let the cool air outside help ventilate and keep the servers cool. She wondered what they did in the summer.

There were a few analysts working in the room on keyboards and laptops. Most of them had looked up at least once with looks from indifference to annoyance and some with outright hostility. She spotted Raphael and smiled as she saw him at a desk hunched over a keyboard. Her smile fell as she spotted the dark circles under his eyes and signs of tension in his face. He had not looked up yet. She sighed wondering if he was upset with her. He had been professional on the plane but had looked confused and resigned more than anything else. She approached his desk slowly unsure of her welcome. “Hi Raphael.” He had an almost empty coffee cup sitting next to him. He looked up as she spoke to him. He gave her a look that she couldn’t quite interpret. “I was sent by Adam to help with the latest data and what I managed to get out of New Zealand. I have some data from the attack on my laptop that we can analyze.” She lowered her voice some. “Are you okay?”

Raphael looked at her without saying a word as he polished off his cup of coffee. He didn’t look angry. He looked frustrated and tired. “I have been better.” He paused searching for the right words. “Samantha, this is my job and I am damn good at it. When a leader goes off script and outside protocols, their actions paint the whole team in the same light. Those protocols are there for safety. What you said and did carries consequences not just for you and Skye but the rest of the team. Yes you took ownership of your decision but all these other people working to keep the world safe look at your team and wonder if we were in on it. They wonder if we can be trusted to do the job. They wonder if we are blindly loyal like the previous team leader who was demoted.” He waved a hand to indicate that he meant her. “I am not angry with you Samantha. I am disappointed. I am frustrated that someone as intelligent as you didn’t use logic and let emotion make decisions for you. I know you did what you thought was best. But was it best for Raven? Was it best for the team? Or was it best for you?” Raphael maintained eye contact to show the depth of his seriousness. He was not afraid to tell her hard truths that he thought she needed to hear. He shook his head and got to his feet reaching for his coffee mug. He pointed to a small break room situated near the entryway to the left. “Coffee is over there if you need some. Pick any desk. If you need anything, you know where to find me.” He walked away carrying his cup.

Samantha watched him walk away feeling conflicted. She had worked with Raphael almost as much as she worked with Javi and Tahlia. She had never been at odds with him. She wanted to snarl and be angry but the truth was she just felt ashamed and sad. She felt as if the whole world was out to punch or kick her. Her face flamed as she watched him. She still felt like she made the right decision to let Skye go. She was embarrassed about how she acted once they had made it to the base. This was another example of why she had always been a lone wolf working on her own in the past. She didn’t want to be responsible for others. She had never asked for a leadership role. She had never even asked to be put in the field. She did the tests for it because she had to in order to join. Skye was the one who decided she needed to be in the field. She felt as if she had let her team down and embarrassed them. Were they all angry and upset with her? She still hadn’t seen Freya. Freya had been there though when she had yelled at her sister. She let her head fall as she studied her feet. She felt as if her heart was going to be pulled from her chest. She couldn’t deal with this right now. She didn’t have time. She would apologize to Raphael later.

She took an empty desk close to Raphael’s and plugged in her laptop. She took a deep breath and narrowed her focus to the computer. She would take solace in the task Adam had given her. She deliberately used some techniques that a former therapist had recommended to drop into a hyperfocus state. It was like the rest of the world faded away. It became about her and the computer. Her world was reduced to ones and zeros as she began to parse through coding. She sent Raphael a data dump of what diagnostics and sensor readings Bob had pulled during the base attack including any camera footage. She sent him the whole shebang. She then did a quick dive on that same data and decided while there was some stuff for leadership to look at in regards to Artemis assets and how they were being used and moved about. There was nothing there to help her find Rose.

Samantha stopped and thought about the real issue at hand. They needed to figure out what Rose’s end game was. What did she need Spectre for? What did she need that drug for? What was she planning to do with it? Where was Rose and Henry Simmonds? If she couldn’t find what she wanted with available data, then she needed more data. How was going to do that?

Samantha began madly typing as an idea came to her. She began putting together a search program based on facial recognition software. The program would not be perfect and it could be beaten. But maybe just maybe with a little luck they might get closer to the answers they needed and a direction to turn in. Samantha built a program that would take databases that Raven had access to such as airport security footage, border crossing footage, government buildings, banks. Any type of military or government database or surveillance footage that they were granted could be searched by the program to find and mark footage of a searched image. Of course the person had to be caught by the camera, at an angle good enough for the facial recognition software to work. But maybe just maybe they could trace where Rose had been and where Henry had been or was.

Samantha had been typing away at her computer for hours barely moving at all. She blinked as she noticed the time. Her stomach rumbled telling her that breakfast was a long time ago and she had missed it. She noticed most of the people in the room had left. She rose to her feet leaning on the desk as she stretched out her back. She twisted from side to side stretching to get the feeling back in her legs. She left her laptop up running the search for Rose and Henry. She had it working on cross comparison with all of Raven’s known databases. She knew the search would take time. The search was taking take up a lot of computational power and memory as it searched through literally a world's worth of imagery from assets all over the world. She left it working and went to find food.

Samantha ran back to the main building to get out of the cold faster. She turned into the rec room and entered, pressing her back to the wall. Her conversation with Raphael returned. Were they all upset with her? Would she even be welcome in the room? She looked around feeling very unsure. She did her best to keep a neutral expression on her face.

Samantha looked around to see who was where. She saw Purna speaking with Ebrima. She saw Adam speaking with Athena. She saw who could only be Jamie, Freya’s brother sitting in his heavy assault armor drinking a child size juice box. Was this something he did to practice control? He could probably fit the whole juice box in his mouth, chew it up and spit out. Samantha was fascinated and watched him for a minute.

Her attention was drawn to Athena as she rushed Purna for the chocolate he had offered to share. Samantha watched the shenanigans for a few minutes before she cleared her throat. “I would like to say something to you all.”

Samantha didn’t raise her voice but it carried to every corner of the room. She turned to face Purna and Adam. “I want to apologize for my behavior when I arrived. There was no excuse for some of it. I am sorry. I will work on doing better.”

She tried to meet all their eyes. “I know most of you have not worked directly with me and I certainly didn’t give the best first impression. I can’t take it back. All I can do is move forward and promise to do better.” She turned to meet Ebrima’s eyes with that comment. She literally didn’t even know he existed until the base was under attack. She certainly had not given him much reason to trust her. She realized that now.

She then turned to Jamie and Athena. She owed Athena an apology. She needed to work with Freya's siblings and she knew Freya adored her siblings. She didn't want to put her friend in an even more awkward situation with her family. “I know you are Freya’s siblings. She is a very dear friend to me but you are her family. Athena I am sorry for yelling at you.” She held a hand out towards Athena. “I hope you can forgive me and that we can work together.” That was probably the longest speech she had ever given. It certainly ranked up there with one of her more embarrassing and humble moments. She hoped it didn't make the others feel as awkward and uncomfortable as she did. Where was Glitch when you need a refrigerator randomly lobbing beers at people to divert the attention away from your personal social hell?

Charles “Chuck” Simmons - Callsign: Boomer

Camp Hannula, Pöyrisjärvi National Park, Finland

Who said men can’t multitask?

In the Heavy Gym with Athena

Chuck had finished cleaning his armor and had it on the rack charging. It would need some maintenance. He wasn’t sure if techs from Blue Sword would work on it or Samantha. But it was ready and where he was told to put it. It had taken a while to get it all moved over. The inner suit lining he had cleaned as best he could in the shower in his room. He had hung it to dry from the rack suspended from the ceiling for that purpose next to the hard outer shell that went over it. He was inspecting Duke’s armor and making note of wear spots and spots that might potentially fail. He wanted to show them to Samantha. Maybe she could adapt those or modify them into something better. She had told him that this was her first set of armor for a canine. He had been impressed with it so far. Duke did not lose much agility and was better protected which made Chuck happy.

He had been so absorbed in his task, he had not noticed when the music started. It had been in the background to the sound of heavy weights being slammed around. Now that the weights had stopped he could hear the music better. He frowned and tilted his head to the side. He liked the heavy bass beat but he made a face when the guy started rapping. He couldn’t decide if he liked it or hated it. The music stopped and Chuck had returned his attention to Duke’s Armor. Chuck looked up as Athena approached. He had stepped between her and Tahlia last night when they had left the plane. Tensions and emotions had been high on both sides. His body tensed up not quite sure what to expect.

Chuck could not have been more surprised when Athena straight hit on him with a beaming smile as she walked towards him in a tight workout outfit. "Hey there....so, what piece of marble did they cut you out of? You're Chuck, Chuck Simmons, right? Boomer by name, Boomer by nature." Athena was holding her hand out to shake.

He felt like Freya had gobsmacked him with her hammer. His neutral expression turned to one of surprise. Chuck was not used to women hitting on him. Most women were intimidated by his size. Chuck couldn’t suppress his embarrassment if he tried as his face colored red. Chuck knew that Athena was Freya’s little sister, she looked very young to him. Freya was the woman he was currently interested in. He had already tried to get to her to go out with him. Not to mention that her brother Jamie was joining the team and her parents were around as well. Chuck knew that was trouble waiting to happen. It took Chuck a moment or so to get his surprise under control so he could respond. He shook her hand gently. “Yes I am Chuck, callsign Boomer. Nice to meet you Athena.”

Athena had managed to get Chuck’s attention. She had shaken his hand briefly before inspecting his armor. She continued to talk, not really letting him say much before she continued. "Athena Kaantario, Valkyrie. Freya's sis. She's probably told you all about me. All sorts of shit, I bet....trust me, it's all true. #AthenaAwesome and everything, at your service." Chuck noticed that Duke, who had been curled up peacefully, had gotten to his feet and moved to his side. Duke seemed nervous around Athena. Then Athena squealed and moved in to love on Duke who was startled and let out a nervous woof. "Heyyyy! Oh, and who are you!" Before he could intervene Athena had bent over and was getting down on Duke’s level. She had put her hand out and was rubbing his ears. Duke’s body language told Chuck that he was nervous and unsure as he stood tense and motionless waiting for a cue from Chuck.

Chuck gave Duke the hand sign for hold, friendly. He was never more grateful that he had worked to teach Duke how to hold those instincts in situations like this. Otherwise he would have probably mauled a few of Chuck’s former commanders. Chuck sighed as he realized that he would need to teach Athena that Duke was a working dog. He couldn’t help but smile at how ridiculous it was though. She was baby-talking to him in no time. "It's okay, baby. Aww, you're so, so cute. And handsome, yes, you are!" It was obvious to Chuck that Duke had won over yet another admirer. "You two. Jesus, my hearts are melting. You gotta stop this, 'cos you are doing something to me. Somethin....gooooood!"

He took a moment to intervene. He ran a calming hand down Duke’s back. “Athena, this is Duke. He is a working military dog. You need to wait and ask permission before approaching him. He could have just as easily attacked you if he had been on a guard command. Next time please ask me first. Then slowly offer your hand for him to sniff. Wait for him to sniff it and lick it or push his hand into yours before petting okay? This is for your safety and his.” Chuck tried to show her the right way to approach Duke. Chuck could tell that Duke was just picking up on Athena’s natural outgoing energy and personality. He didn’t necessarily dislike her but it could be overwhelming and he was still recovering from the base fight and two very long plane rides and adjusting to a new location. It was a lot for a dog.

Chuck shook his head laughing as he barely got a word in before she was back over inspecting his armor once more. She launched into an invitation to work out with her. He tried to follow the conversation but got lost on the way. She went from working out with her to tearing shit up, to talking about him working with her brother. His head was spinning trying to keep up with the tornado that was Athena. Chuck’s expression grew serious once more as she apologized about being angry when they landed. He couldn’t help showing some sympathy for her. His expression softened as he thought about it. If that had been one of his family members he would have been emotional too.

“Apology accepted, Athena. I meant no disrespect by my actions. There was tension on both sides when we landed. The team had been through the blender and on the go for almost 48 hours. I understand. My family is important to me too.” He paused and gave her a saucy wink and grin. “You should know that Freya is important to us too.” And in true Athena fashion the conversation passed to a new topic, armor and weapons.

Chuck tried to follow the conversation about weapons and comparisons between the sisters. He almost felt like he was talking to the guys back home about souping up American Muscle cars and what would work best. He tried to resolve that with the almost young teenage girl energy and vibe she had as she giggled. He just laughed and shook his head. “My suit just went through some upgrades. Samantha will need to take a look at it. It got damaged in that last push to get everyone off the island. Honestly she will probably be the one to decide if any weapons get added. I will be sure to let her know you offered.” He motioned to his armor to indicate exactly what he was talking about. Chuck wondered if Athena ever stopped moving and bouncing. Her energy was making him almost dizzy.

About that time Chuck got a ping on his personal cell phone. He look up at Athena with a polite smile. “I need to take this.” He answered the call “This is Chuck.” He listened as Tahlia rambled quickly into the phone.

Tahlia: “Hey, Chuck. You alright lugging some fat reindeer and fighting bears, just in case? Thought you may want a workout that might keep you off Athena for a bit. Wait. Don't reply if she's there, she just went in. I think." Tahlia commented, a sly chuckle…

Before he could say anything he heard Tahlia greeting someone else and the phone was set down. The conversation was muted somewhat. Which was probably for the best since Chuck would have found out he was meeting Tahlia’s father and that she thought he was cute. He waited a few more minutes and then the phone went silent and hung up. He looked at it like it was broken.

He sighed and texted the Kiwi. “I would love to go hunting and fight polar bears with you. Where do I meet you? Just gotta grab my jacket and hunting knife.”

He smiled in excitement. He would love to explore outside the base. It was beautiful here and Chuck’s kind of place. He looked up at Athena. “Thank you for the kind offer, Athena. I will let Sam know about the upgrades. I need to run. I have something I need to do for a team member. Pleasure meeting you.” His southern drawl was warm and sweet as honey as he said his good bye.

“Duke come.” Duke bounded after his master with a happy lope. He tipped his head like he had on hat as he left Athena in the gym.

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