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RP: Bahram Wing [Bahram Wing Pre Phase: Mission 5] Operation Midwinter

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Inactive Member
ON, VSV Astarte
Navpoint Antilla, Near Draseed System
Bukor 26, 936
8:20, Commonwealth Standard Time

A single ship, alone in the avoid, plied the cosmos towards a single star resting on the very edge of a people's knowledge of space. The Astarte's mission had not lasted for more than a few weeks before the trail led them to the supposed homeworld of the NVR and the seat of their power. The emissions of tens of thousands of ship drives, many more than the Iromakuanhe had ever known lit the beacon for the small fleet's approach towards the system where their greatest enemy. Here, they would defeat that dark mirror of their own society and return them to the fold, ensuring eternal security and sovereignty for their people.

Operation Midwinter was underway.

The Marranr Serhan Nejem sat at his station on the bridge, longing for the opportunity to return to the field of battle, longing to bring the war to a swift resolution and return home to his daughter. He had run over the simulations hundreds of times, swallowed the possibility of attrition and accepted the eventual losses, willing to bear them on his conscience. Everyone on the ship was a resource being put to the task of war, and all were expendable to a degree, himself included.

He didn't have very long to stew in his thoughts, and found himself being addressed by the adjutants on shift. A mousy-haired woman keying on the sensors approached him, her hair still slightly wet from immersion in the interface pod. "Excuse me, Lanranr, but the reinforcements from the capital have arrived."

"Thank you for informing me. I'll be sure to keep my wetware keyed to the network until the operation begins." The officer nodded and adjusted his glasses, glancing over the analog displays before reaching out to the network with senses provided through external implants connected to the ship's informational network.

He then pulled on that same link, transmitting concepts and ideas encoded as language (the easiest sort of information for a biological to conceptualize) and communicated to the ship's central informational construct, the NI Ishtar. "Ishtar, inform the runners to prepare and be in the hangar in twenty minutes and raise the official mission grade to A1 on fleet channels."

"We are at war."
Re: [Pre Phase: Mission 5] Operation Midwinter

Ishtar, the NI Construct of the Astarte confirmed the command even as her voice came from behind the Marranr.

"Setting Fleet-Wide Mission Grade from B4 to A1, aye." the pink hood of her furred coat obscuring most of her face even though it was down.

"Wartime Deployment Status confirmed under Section 6 of the Astral Vanguard Military Policy Guidelines. Unlocking MACD Ordinance Canisters for deployment with VANDR forces." the petite physical manifestation of the ship's NI looked up a little then toward the Navsphere.

"VAADW and VAHIN units will be on standby status to supplement VANDR forces as necessary." Even as she verbally relayed the information, it was being fed directly to him via his implants, ensuring he was apprised of everything she was doing.

She paused before continuing. "Permissions to deploy OMDE munitions confirmed. Safeguards removed, and seals on my stores are unlocked. VANDR-MACD Canister and Shipborne OMDE shells will be distributed. "

"I will now begin my final status checks on the Astarte's systems and munition stores. And await permission to begin networking with the NI of our reinforcements."


While the officers and NI on the bridge went about readying for the conflict, Ishtar's voice was piped throughout the ship where ever her pilots were to be found. If they were sleeping, eating, or just loafing around her voice would eventually find them.

"Attention Runners: Gather in the hangar in twenty minutes. I repeat, gather in the hangar in twenty minutes."
Re: [Pre Phase: Mission 5] Operation Midwinter

It was dim, and it was quiet. Despite the shrine being full of devout warriors, the loudest noise was the quietest breath. The only lights were those of the heated lamps of incense burning sweet and dusty scents of Maekardan, Mazarin, and Hlarai. The plumes would rise, hover above the warriors and waft in to snap at their senses, but would truly strike home on those native to each world. Meditation erased their surroundings, and replaced the shrine with the image of their own home. They were encouraged to bring their memories to play, to live them, to enjoy them, and let those recollections remind them of what they fought for.

Shrine priests carried these lamps around the rows of meditating pilots, ensuring that they smelled the scent at its strongest. Some priests were greeted with the contours of torn and tense faces. Others showed tears dripping from their closed eyes. The more experienced pilots who participated were calm, most of them being learned veterans of the Third Outer System Conflict. All knew that there was the chance of the inevitable, a calling to the Eternal Dream.

Not all were ready.

At the center of the shrine, in place of the Nuocr Lamp sat Mu'Tasim Farouk, leading the volunteers in meditation. They had come to him in numbers throughout the day, seeking comfort in proverbs and guidance. Some came with friends, very hesitant at first, but quickly to adjust with the group. In all his years, Mu'Tasim had never felt, nor seen something more powerful in his time as a soldier.

He himself thought of home, of the people he left behind that fateful day. He thought of friends lost, and friends gained, but most of all, he thought of Zus. Her companionship was gratifying, and an anchor to the war that was to be had. In the coming battle, he would have to make decisions that could change, evade, or break him. He had faced them before, and they had all changed him, or broken what shells he wore. Whatever would affect him, or what would not, he knew he could rely fully on one person. That was his support, what guided him as a Temple Guard.

"Attention Runners: Gather in the hangar in twenty minutes. I repeat, gather in the hangar in twenty minutes."

The bristles of Mu'Tasim's beard brushed against his mantle as his head finally rose from his mild trance of thought. His golden yellow eyes revealed their glow from under his lids, just as he was met with a plethora of colorful glows returning his gaze. All who had cast in their faith, were looking on him now. A dismissal? A speech? A blessing? What would they want from a warrior who claimed holy guidance?

"Hatred." was what Mu'Tasim greeted them with. "It was Mu'Klamal's greatest weapon, but proved to be his greatest weakness. Brashness was the stone that sharpened Fanir's blades, but he carried that stone in guilt for all his life."

The Temple Guard rose to his feet, looking at them all, those who looked on him.

"Mind yourselves, and always remember who you are on the battlefield. Make your decisions with a clear mind, and a steady hand. You are the vanguards of the Saints, protectors of their homes and your own, act as such. Because of this, you must sacrifice to war for your way of life, but be mindful of the lessons, and do not sacrifice your soul to war itself."

Mu'Tasim waved his hand as he advanced through the procession, to the door to answer the summons.

"We are done, Ruh guide you all."
Re: [Pre Phase: Mission 5] Operation Midwinter

The Woman on Mu'Tasim's mind had been sitting quite close. Kneeled at the forefront of the group, Zus took in the three different scents that wafted from the incense lamps- Mazerin was familiar, having been the last place she was posted before coming to the Astarte, Maekardan faintly familiar, the spicy aroma having more to do with the Sund Wakir than the Eyr Ranr of which she was a part, but it reminded her more of something else- someone else, to be precise. Mu'Tasim.

"Attention Runners: Gather in the hangar in twenty minutes. I repeat, gather in the hangar in twenty minutes."

Zus tried her hardest not to stir- she still wasn't the best at this kind of meditation, despite having come from a deeply religious family. It was Likely the fact that her family was different from the Eyr Ranr people that made their lack of traditions so apparent. Zus did, however, open her eyes, and listen intently to what Mu'Tasim had to say, and when he arose, she was the first to rise behind him, taking her place at his heels like a loyal follower, though her right hand reached forward and grabbed his right, squeezing it.

"Don't worry too much, My dream. We can make it. We've made it this far, and I don't know anything that has been able to stand against us in a long while." She smiled, whether or not Mu'Tasim turned to look, and continued. "And we always have each other- and I don't mean just us two, the entire wing is here, and together we shall prevail."
Re: [Pre Phase: Mission 5] Operation Midwinter

She was the only one to really feel him, to receive that connection of emotion. They had hugged, held, and shared many close, vulnerable moments. Mu'Tasim often gave off a brimming confidence to shadow whatever else he had underlying his face. Though, Zus had known him long enough to know he often threw up walls to hide what he truly felt. Even as a Temple Guard, it had gotten more difficult to hide himself from someone who knew him so well. If her mind ignored the superficial neutrality of his readiness, she'd feel a sour tinge of doubt.

This hesitation wasn't like any she felt before, though. Several times he had come to doubt himself only to power through it. This felt like a mild, haggard acceptance. The grim spice of experience seemed to sour this emotion so. If anything, she could come to one conclusion.

Mu'Tasim was not optimistic.

"Very Jafar of you." quipped the Temple Guard, gripping his love's hand gently, "Mu'Klamal would have us believe that optimism in this, a deciding battle, is a weakness. I have no lack of faith in the runners, but many foolish soldiers put more power in something other than themselves, a medallion, the saints, what not. That's why I imparted harsh lessons of Mu'Klamal and Fanir, to let them find their own power."

He finally looked at her, an honest, curious gaze in his eyes. Though she'd find herself having to keep a stiff pace as the Temple Guard was not slowing down at all as he made his way to the hangar.

"Do you think I should have done it differently? Perhaps imparted Jafar and Ruh?"
Re: [Pre Phase: Mission 5] Operation Midwinter

One out of many young men sat within the congregation, part of his face marked by a burn that slightly tugged at the edge of his lip. That side of his face almost, almost, seemed to smile, but the other half was relaxed yet grim as he listened to Mu'Tasim speak. The man, though young, had wisdom beyond his years, and if he didn't, it was at least most certainly beyond Akjit's! But this was only one reason why he was present.

"Attention Runners: Gather in the hangar in twenty minutes. I repeat, gather in the hangar in twenty minutes."

A sweet, familiar voice rung in his ear; the training he'd been having with Mu'Tasim would have to wait. It was just 'a little' harsh, but the man was a good mentor, and with Zus occasionally dropping in on their sessions, occasionally literally so with a flurry of missiles, Akjit was always kept on his toes. As he got up to make his way to the hangar though, the Ivuori's thoughts wandered back to Ishtar, the NI.

What was she thinking? What did she know that he and the rest of the crew didn't? Was she going to deploy them? And, like all young men, he also wondered how she was doing at the moment, despite the fact she was an NI and he wasn't.

As he followed behind Zus and Mu'Tasim as the duo spoke, Akjit's hand danced across his paper pad as another sketch was started.
Re: [Pre Phase: Mission 5] Operation Midwinter

"I'm not spiritual expert, but I think you gave them what they needed to hear. Jafar and Ruh are for you, as I think you are the one doubting yourself the most. I've heard of this many times- Those with more responsibilities find it easier to doubt. Having some is healthy, for without it we tend to build up pillars of sand, thinking them of stone, and fall only that much harder." Zus reasoned, easily keeping up with the Sund Wakir.

"I have my own doubts, love, but I do not let them give me fear, for it is the fear that will drive us to the destiny which we fear most."
Re: [Pre Phase: Mission 5] Operation Midwinter

"True," Mu'Tasim replied, "in some cases."

It was strange sensation to have a great deal of faith placed in his wisdom. The Temple Guard felt that he himself had a great deal to learn still, being an Acolyte still after so long. Being of this kind was a lifelong commitment to the teaching and values of the Vigil. Still, he was a shattered wreck when he was brought before the Knight Guardians, perhaps this battle would strengthen his own faith. Perhaps it was because he isolated himself so, or maybe it was the dual-mentalities of idealism and realism colliding with one another.

The Vaytulri in him carried the bloody carcasses of the past on his back, reminding him thoroughly of the reality of battle.

The Acolyte in him pushed away those heavy weights wanting empower all those around them with the glory of victory.

"Time will tell, all I can say is that our focus is in the right place. Everyone's heart and mind are set for the fight ahead. It's in the hands of the Marranr now." concluded Mu'Tasim, before shaking his hand from Zus' and wrapping it around her shoulder, eying the hangar and entrances to the locker rooms to change into the link-suits.

"Though I'm not sure if we can say that for everyone." the Temple Guard looked over his shoulder at Akjit.
Re: [Pre Phase: Mission 5] Operation Midwinter

Aiaru was seated crosslegged on one of the benches, eyes closed. She knew that Mu'Tasim had been doing a session in the shrine, but at the same time, she was feeling the need to just sit and meditate on her own at the moment. It was at least in part because of the fact that it was Mu'Tasim leading that group, she had to admit to herself.

The main part of the reason she felt the need to meditate was because she felt attracted to him, she had to admit. Aiaru knew that he was with someone, and that he probably felt nothing of the same, but the attraction was there for her nonetheless, and she had to decide how to proceed here.

"Attention Runners: Gather in the hangar in twenty minutes. I repeat, gather in the hangar in twenty minutes."

She opened her eyes slowly, sighing. Either more time had passed than she'd realized, or something out there didn't want her to sit around and think about the situation. In either case, it obviously wasn't meant to be, so she might as well get moving.
Re: [Pre Phase: Mission 5] Operation Midwinter

'Did that work? No. But what if - maybe...yes. That'd do. And what about the - or this? But what about that?' Akjit's drawing utensil quirked about has he continuously edited, drew and edited what was on the notepad. This was going to be one of his more complex and detailed sketches...if he had the time, the Ivuori might even go to a computer console and turn it into a colored drawing proper!

"Though I'm not sure if we can say that for everyone." the Temple Guard looked over his shoulder at Akjit.
"Huh?" Akjit spoke cluelessly, his eyes looking up from the notepad with confusion.
Re: [Pre Phase: Mission 5] Operation Midwinter

♪ By the light of the day, I shan't have strayed /
This journey of mine cannot be delayed /
I will find your resting place and- ♪--

"Attention Runners: Gather in the hangar in twenty minutes. I repeat, gather in the hangar in twenty minutes."

Isha Ragnar lowered her headphones and looked up at the ceiling, the telltale sign of someone listening to the ship's PA. Her run became a walk, and she moved aside so others could continue to run the track unimpeded. She took an especially deep breath and sighed. The field physician wasn't looking forward to this. It could only mean they had arrived at their destination, that war was upon them yet again.

She showered before making her way to the hangar, and chanced upon Aiaru Dahra along the way. "Vayshirin... Dahra was it?" Isha inquired as she came abreast of her colleague.
Re: [Pre Phase: Mission 5] Operation Midwinter

"well... We'll see. Now, It's time to get ready, so I'll see you soon. Oh! Warn me if you see my brother, or do something to get rid of him, if you can." Zus responded to Mu'Tasim. She gave him a squeeze before breaking away and making her way into the women's changing rooms to change into her linksuit, and be ready for what was likely an upcoming battle.


A sudden sound of tools falling followed by a thump and a yell of surprise would greet those already in the hangar, and a blond Eyr Ranr found his direction and velocity suddenly changing, heading toward the floor rather quickly. Thankfully, Szemis wasn't as stupid as he was clumsy, and a safety belt performed its function, bringing the wayward pilot safely down- kind of.

He had fallen at quite an arc, and now swung toward the EV II he had been checking over, thudding as he smacked into its hull. "Owww....." he complained, hanging from his line, which soon slowly lowered him to the ground, where he grumbled that they should work harder at making the Organoids less slippery- Not that he was supposed to be up there, but, that was another story entirely. For now, the Eyr Ranr simply scowled as the only thing truly hurt was his pride.
Re: [Pre Phase: Mission 5] Operation Midwinter

Aiaru's head popped up, surprised to see someone she'd met already before she'd made it to the VANDR bay. She'd been lost in thought, despite her idea that she simply wasn't meant to figure this out, and someone else poking her out of her reverie just about made her jump out of her skin.

"Ah... yes. You're Vayshirin Ragnar, right? Sorry, I was thinking about something."
Re: [Pre Phase: Mission 5] Operation Midwinter

"You have permission to synchronize with the remainder of the fleet once the full battlegroup of ten enters formation." As preparations went underway, Serhan turned his attentions to the small and lithe figure of the fleet NI's body, nodding intently. He rubbed his chin, attempting for the briefest moment to consider what sort of emotions a warship being given unilateral command over her peers would be experiencing and returned to his work.

Mixed data streamed ran unfiltered through his mind for a moment, though not in such a concentration as to harm him, but made clear the parameters of the coming confrontation. "Hmmm, seems like we're facing a mixed fleet of nearly fourty vessels, based data from the pickets. Likely backed by ground emplacements and defense satellites."

He glanced at both the Vaygraiv who was his superior on the ship, and the NI was effectively his peer. "If you'll suffer my questions for a moment, what's your appraisal of the situation given our past performance?"


The VANDR bay was a mess of mechanists scrambling to finalize tune-ups and runners impatiently to get into their units. Szemis, a Frame Runner without many of the high-level permissions and certifications of the technical staff, hadn't entirely escaped notice for his little gaffe.

"Hey! Watch it there!" A woman in work coveralls and a suspensor belt, whom most had come to recognize as Khiyai Sahrzad, the mechanist who was as quick to anger as she was unlucky in her dealings with the crew. "You're going to get someone killed, and it'll probably be you when something BREAKS because you fiddled with it... AFTER I kill you for messing around with your unit when you aren't properly trained in its maintenance."
Re: [Pre Phase: Mission 5] Operation Midwinter

Ishtar merely tilted her head a little to the side as she continued her multitasking duties while also thinking of the question. The Vaygraiv however merely readjusted his eyepatch as he spoke.

"They seem to favor massed attacks. Hordes of inferior units backed up by several elite units that actually contain pilots." Once done he looked to the NI.

"Prior to the EV.II Program, the EV.I proved ineffective against even their baseline automated units. Unless the EV.I was piloted by an experienced pilot our losses were markedly higher than our kill count. " Ishtar then put a finger to her chin as she continued to think.

"En masse even our frigates can be easily taken out due to their light starship, heavy anti-frame weaponry. However the piloted units prove to be more of a threat than their automated cousins. Quality equipment, marginal aptitude in piloting backed up with rudimentary NI assistance can make for an effective platform that is a threat to even the EV.II's."

She then pulled out what looked like a sucker from a pocket, unwrapped it and promptly kept rolling it around in her mouth while speaking.

"Statistically speaking, the EV.I vs the automated units typically warranted a 2:1 kill ratio in favor of the NVR amongst non-veteran pilots. In addition to the fact that we had used the EV.I during the Third Outer System Conflict, which ultimately gave this enemy valuable intel on the unit. Capabilities, weaknesses."

"The EV.II gives us the advantage against these units with a 10:1 kill ratio while the NVR's piloted units could be a 1:1 ratio. Ultimately it would come down to pilot skill ans squad-based tactics and squad makeup."

The Vaygraiv just 'Hmm'd' at what Ishtar said. "They also use fusion based ordinance. Just like in the Third. It might be old technology, but it is effective technology. Cheaper and easier to produce than our charged particle and repulsor weaponry. But just as dangerous, even more so if used in the atmosphere."

"There is one thing that concerns me... " Ishtar looked between the two men, the Vaygraiv nodded for her to continue. "Their automated units can be easily replaced. Our pilots cannot, and if the NVR has a massive industrial base, they could keep creating hordes of these units to pick off our pilots through sheer numbers. It'd become a battle of attrition. In which case I would have to take appropriate measures to ensure we were the winners in that conflict."
Re: [Pre Phase: Mission 5] Operation Midwinter

Promptly dismissed just as quickly as he was mentioned, Akjit went back to his sketch pad as he trailed behind the two people in front of him on the way to the hangar. Yes, he knew he should have been thinking about things like strategy and tactics since it was the calm before the storm so to say, but if he didn't get the initial sketch down, he'd probably mess it up later!

The tip of Akjit's tongue could be seen just ever so slightly poking out from between his lips as the writing utensil moved frantically to get the general shape, position and forms of what he wanted to happen down. As he raced to complete the initial sketch, his eyes seemed to shine.

"YES!" The Ivuori cheered, pumping a fist. The sudden noise his own voice made caused him to quail. "Uhm, s-sorry!" he apologized meekly, stuffing the pad away.

If Nightmare found out he was doing this instead of getting ready...
Re: [Pre Phase: Mission 5] Operation Midwinter

Mu'Tasim waved at Zus as she departed into the changing room. There was a certain feeling of seeing her come and go, it was hard to explain, even to himself. Such sensations made him stand and watch, but he didn't let it affect him long. The soldier turned to the locker rooms and hunted down his own locker.

No need to damper myself with thoughts of the grimness of the coming battle. All that's left is preserve more morale and lead on. he thought quietly before catching side of his little storage unit. Even though he was of a prestigious occupation and of a warrant officer's rank, his own locker was no different from any other. Though, every time he came to it before a mission, he'd find little notes pasted upon it. Some of them were from people too embarrassed to approach him, wishing for private counsel. Others were from ardent admirers, people who wanted to ignore the fact that he was already taken. Some were offers of private counsel of a different variety, one such was marked from Agni with a squiggly line and a heart.

I'll never understand Lantulri Dev.

He took up all the notes, almost all of them marked with datarod numbers, and quickly sorted them into three different stacks. One for the people needing counsel, one for the admirers, and one for the deviants. Despite not wanting the attention rumored around by gossiping soldiers, he made it a point to discuss the issues with each person, whether to help, redirect, or deny them.

Why? It was his duty as a Steward of the Vigil. Things must never go on as a mystery or as a 'maybe'. Ahni, Ghaliya, and Abu'Nal have all differing views on what made a healthy person, but all agreed that one thing that was harmful, was doubt. It often rung true with his own problems, which was what made him persevere in his work. His small counsels had gained him many friends, but several awkward acquaintances. No one takes denial well if their heart is vested in it, but they'll recover time. This was what Mu'Tasim believed, as Ahni taught him.

He zipped up his link-suit, and decided to store his mantle in with the rest of his clothes. As regal and appropriate as it were to wear the adornments of a Guardsman everywhere, he was a Vaytulri in this moment. He would carry his intense training as a Temple Guard into battle, empowering others, but as his previous experience taught him, firm direction was required.

He stepped outside, and waited on Zus and Akjit.
Re: [Pre Phase: Mission 5] Operation Midwinter

"Yes, though Isha is quite alright- no need to be formal right now." Her smile was winning. "Sorry to have startled you... would you like to talk about it?" In the field physician's experience, most people wanted to talk about their problems. It was just a matter of when, where, and to whom. Saying no was a perfectly acceptable answer to Isha; what was infuriating was when people attempted to deny the emotions plainly displayed on their face rather than answer honestly.
Re: [Pre Phase: Mission 5] Operation Midwinter

"Attention Runners: Gather in the hangar in twenty minutes. I repeat, gather in the hangar in twenty minutes."

Awoken from a dreamless sleep, Kuzman groggily stumbled out of bed and adorned just enough clothing to make it to the changing rooms for his suit. Nearly emulating a dead man, he stumbled and yawned as he moseyed, weaving as he traveled, to the changing room. He arrived only a few steps behind Mu'Tasim.

Still too sleepy to speak, he slowly pulled on his suit and stashed his clothes in his locker. Well, he thought, guess Nuk'Dukam is going to have a field day with me not being awake. He quickly splashed some water on his face and felt quite refreshed and a bit more awake and strode out the door to wait for the rest of the team to get into their gear.
Re: [Pre Phase: Mission 5] Operation Midwinter

As Mu'tasim waited, he would hear a somewhat familiar voice yelling across the hangar at another familiar voice. Zus' younger brother seemed to be having a heated exchange with the mechanist, Khiyai.
"Who needs training! I've been fixing stuff all my life, I know how all this junk works!" the Eyr Ranr called back at Khiyai, before unhooking himself from his harness, and running to the locker rooms, blowing a raspberry at the Mechanist in defiance.

Luckily, just as Szemis disappeared, was when Zus emerged from the changing rooms, clad in her linksuit like Mu'Tasim was. she strode up to him, and then stood next to him in a joking mimic of standing at attention, before giggling and looking over at the Sund Wakir.
"So, see anything interesting while I was gone?" she asked.
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