Mistaken Identity (Closed, ATTN Romandeos)
Milkavich Airstrip Three
Airship Mooring Zone Alpha
It was early evening in Milkavich as Sergeant Ha'klo started his rounds in the mooring zone. Around him, buildings and smoke stacks belched clouds of steam into the dusk sky, creating a spectacle of lights as the dying sun light them up with its dark red rays, choked by the dust in the air. In the middle of the swathes of industry and apartment blocks, a large gouge of flat land lay home to one of the many aerodromes in the conurbation. Airstrip Three, run by the Mev'kho Corperation, was one of the goods hubs of the city. Whilst warehouses and refineries clustered around the coastal docklands, here lay another such area, devoted to the Alfegan transport type of choice - the airship.
In the centre of the large area, now illuminated by a multitude of landing lights, a feeble runway acted as a mere guideline for the craft that came in to land here, following it to the mooring zones in amongst the warehouses.
With the hundreds of airships and their many thousand tonnes of cargo that passed through the aerodrome daily came the people. With these people came the money, and from them came the import tariffs. In a city as lawless as Milkavich, the customs officials here were specially picked, since briberies were not the only things that came with the items unloaded here. Drugs, weapons and people traffiking were rife in Milkavich, a city where the government had never had total control as it needed to - the terrorist groups that based themselves in the city had no shortage of recruits, and thus were successful in their continuous war of attrition against the government and the police.
The aerodrome therefore was not only guarded by the Border Patrol Agency and the Army. One of these agents who patrolled the airship holding zones each evening was Ha'klo, who appeared at a glance to be any security guard. However, one how investigated his background closer would find a gaping five month hole in his life, followed by the career he was now in - an ISS operative. Working for the government, he was armed with much more than the bullets in his concealed and visible weapons - his authority meant that he need only speak to one person before he could wield power that most police officers could only dream of - cruise missile strikes, a company of soldiers, and even armour, at his superior's discretion. The Internal Security Service of Alfegos were detailed to protect the country from the threat of domestic terrorism, in the main form of the People's Revolutionary Army and the Worker's Brotherhood, and thus had been given powers to erase the threat with as much efficiency as possible. Short of levelling Milkavich and killing its fifty-million inhabitants, there were very few other options for removing the terrorist threat from the many hiding places its narrows streets provided.
One of the lifelines of the terrorists, and of the many criminals in the city, were the goods that passed through the aerodrome. Whilst each airship's cargos were checked, the crew often only needed a Visa and passport check, before they were on their way. And with the threat that the goods in the aerodrome could pose, specialists were needed to try neuter the problem.
Ha'klo walked to the internal security fence, checking the length of it either side for any signs of tampering, before opening the entrance gate. A pair of keycodes were needed for him to open the large segment of fence, five metres in height, topped with a vicious coil of razorwire - one was to open the gate itself, and the other was to turn off the electric current that hummed through the metal. Passing through and closing the gate behind him, he quickly moved away, the current starting again after five seconds. At the small booth just inside, next to where a series of pipes disappeared to an external fuel dump, another man sat waiting, watching over the zone with a pair of binoculars.
"Evening Ha'klo. Tonight, it looks pretty quiet. We've got two domestic 'Clippers' from Polinas with food consignments, five 'Liberty's from various novan nations with ore and oil, and..."
He pointed across to a far airship, still being towed across the concrete by a heavy truck. Amongst the darker grey airships, a mix of old and middle-aged craft, a bright white craft glided through the air, on its way to one of the twelve 'parking bays'. Whilst four of them were on gargantuan areas of concrete, the rest were over water, part of the reservoirs supplying the city with water used to house the airship when not doing anything. The empty parking space that the newly arrived airship was about to take was on land, a large mount holding a series of cables awaiting the craft. Underneath, a fuelling truck was already parked to load on more fuel ordered by the airship.
Ha'klo looked across at the craft as it was moved into place, looking over all the features of the craft.
"Romandeos. That'll be where its from."
His comrade looked at him with slight disbelief, as if asking him to explain.
"We'll start with the paint - no airship looks like that, unless it's brand new or foreign. All Alfegan airships use dyed fabric.
From that, we narrow it down to the other likely nations - Pan Arab Barronia, Prevania and Antigr. All these manufacture their own airships in addition to purchasing our own, meaning that they are likely not to use Aerofibre. Prevanian airships use painted nylon and painted aerofibre, but this airship isn't due to the lack of any reference to their premier, Boris Beranovski. I've never seen a civilian airship that's Antigran, which rules them out. And the numbering on the airship is definitely not Barronian. That leaves us with Romandeos. Now look at the engines."
The man pointed at one of the many bloated pods mounted on the cargo bay of the airship.
"The airship is about four hundred metres, so comparable to the Liberty Class. However, the liberty class only uses four turboprops, which run on methane. This airship uses eight engines, and they're all kerosene turbofans. The excessive thrust also hints at it being from Romandeos."
His colleague sat bemused for a moment, before speaking.
"I thought you would have just told me about the massive flag painted on the tail."
“Mooring altitude achieved, Skipper; put out the anchorage lines?”
Captain Gwendolyn Dorsey of the SS Rachael Huntington removed the dark cigarillo she had been smoking from her mouth and looked to the crewman who had spoken.
“Put out the lines, Landsman,” she said. “Claude, how’re the engines looking?”
Her ship’s First Officer, Claude Ruiz, looked up from his panel.
“Pod Eight is still running too hot,” he informed. “Otherwise, we’re good.”
“We still haven’t figured that overheating problem out, eh?” Dorsey asked. “Well, I guess it’s for the shipyard boys, then. I was hoping to fix it without them. Damn it.”
“Well, at least we can afford it, Skipper,” Ruiz replied with a shrug. Dorsey snorted.
“I was kind of hoping to save some of that money those suits gave us,” she said.
Ruiz just shrugged. Two days before they had sailed, the two had been approached by the local Port Authority officers in Oswego, the port city in north Romandeos where they had made a home for themselves running cargo on behalf of their mother-company with some kind of message from the Federal Government. Oh, it wasn’t officially governmental, but it had been plain the “request” to meet the “Federal Inspectors” was more a command.
Dorsey had also decided they had best make the meeting because the funding to construct her beautiful new airship had come in part from a governmental loan. Given she had been in the merchant air-shipping business only a handful of years, she did not have the money in place to fully repay that loan as yet.
Dorsey and Ruiz had gone to meet the suits in a low-key Oswego bar, and had met with a handful of people they had not met before that point. The group’s spokesman, a man with intelligent gray eyes and an otherwise entirely unremarkable appearance had told them he had been sent to contact them by people in the Defense Ministry to secure their assistance in a somewhat critical mission. When asked he had responded only that they were tracing illegal weapons smugglers and needed help from a legitimate cargo hauling operation that had ports of call in several different nations. Huntington fit the bill.
Dorsey and Ruiz had been assured that if they helped, a portion of the loan would vanish, in addition to a sizeable payment being deposited in their personal accounts. How was the money to be earned? Simple, really; they just had to carry some people with them.
“How’s everything going, Captain?” The question was asked by one of the people Dorsey had been paid to transport. Samuel Rice, whose occupation Dorsey did not honestly know had walked onto the bridge while she was speaking to her bridge crew. She suppressed an intense urge to shudder, and looked at him. He frightened her, honestly. She knew that he held some kind of position with the Defense Ministry, probably Army, and that was all he had been prepared to confirm when pressed. His unit, seven others, were less forthcoming in comparison, exchanging only names Dorsey wasn’t sure were genuine, and little else, a mysterious lot. She’d heard about people in the military like this. Supposedly the Defense Ministry had a specialized black ops unit. She’d believe it when she saw evidence.
Meanwhile, the mooring lines had been latched, and the ship was secured. She was pulled lower, until she could safely release her personnel and cargo ramps. Once that was done a landing party, led by Ruiz, and five strong (two of Rice’s people among them) headed out in order to greet the incoming customs officials.
Out on the concrete surface, a small military vehicle drove across along a small marked path, dim lights cutting a safe path amongst this realm of behemoths. Whilst from its shape one could determine that is was definitely an armoured car of some sorts, the markings on its side painted a different picture, along with 'Customs' emblazoned in bright white letters on its side. The vehicle even appeared to have some form of weaponry mount on the roof, which the massive floodlights illuminating the airships revealed to be merely an antenna cluster and the flashing lights. Behind the vehicle, another lorry drove, more sombrely identified as an ancillary vehicle run by the aerodrome. The vehicles cut underneath the nose of a massive Clipper-class airship run by Alfegos Aeronautics, before finally arriving by the side of the cargo gondola of the more humble foreign craft.
The lead vehicle pulled up to a halt, engine dying down from a rattle to a mere hum with a cloud of sickly black smoke. The roof hatch opened, displacing the light unit, allowing a group of three men in Police uniform to disembark. All wore bright fluorescent jackets, with 'Customs' emblazoned both on the back of their stab/bullet proof vests and on their jackets. All three were visibly armed with a TASERNET stun gun on a leg strap, with Ev'ka 02 pistols located further around on their waist holsters. Whilst one might be intimidated by such personnel performing mere custom duties, the nature of the city that surrounded them meant that even an armoured car was asking for trouble. Police chases often involved rockets flying between vehicles, and it was not unheard of for police helicopters to be shot down.
The three men arrived at the side of the crew gondola, signalling for the crew to leave the gondola. Waiting at the base of the ramp, they smiled at the band of people leaving.
"Good evening! Welcome to Alfegos. As I am sure you are aware, we need to check all your papers, to ensure you are who you are and you are carrying the goods that you should. First though, if we could check your passports? I am assuming you have all crew passports on you, of course."
A couple hundred metres down the airship, one of the engineering ground crews was busy with starting refuelling operations on the airship, along with quick flight-worthiness checks on the engines. A total of twenty men were involved in this operation, ranging from the actual trained engineers busy with checks over the engines to the drivers of the fuel trucks. One such man was Iu'jo Ghi'su, a part-time worker who supplemented his day job working on an airshipyard run by Mev'kho with evening fuelling of airships landing at Mev'kho aerodromes. His salary was pitiful, but it got him by. One thing his training certainly did not cover though was his people skills, which at best left something to be desired.
As he clambered up the mobile platform mounted atop the fuelling truck to reach the side of the airship, he was still in a foul mood. Earlier, he had got into a fierce debate involving what fuel the airship actually used, raging for ten minutes in the truck hanger before his foreman interjected with a page from the ground manual from the airship. As was obvious from the mutters under his breath, he had lost that arguement. His temper meant he had little focus on the job at hand as he began to work on the airship fuelling. On his platform was a large pipe nozzle, painted in peeling red paint and with a shining adapter mounted in place of the standard fuel injection unit. The unit itself was old since it was barely, used, the majority of Alfegan airships running on gaseous fuels pumped from storage reservoirs beneath the aerodrome, and made creaking noises as it was moved into place on the side of the cargo gondola.
Due to his lack of attention, when he leant forwards to open what he thought was a refuelling hatch, he instead opened up a large side hatch of the cargo gondola, revealing a space large enough for a man to crawl inside. Whilst it was obviously a ventilation hatch, looking over a series of large wooden crates, the man was taken aback by what happened next. He heard a loud shout, as a crew member on the side walkway inside called at him in Fegosian.
"What are you doing? You not are to be in here!"
The aggressive tone of the man's voice, coupled with the poor linguistic skills of his antagonist, set the engineer off.
"You can keep your bloody* mouth shut you bloody* foreigner! I opened the damn* hatch by accident - it's not my fault this bloody* foreign airship was built by an idiot, and not my fault this doesn't run on a fuel even approaching sensiblility. So you can go bugger* off if you want this airship fuelled on time."
The engineer gave the other man the finger before moving to check if the fuel pipeline could be mounted inside the pipeline. As he did, the crewman shouted at him again, this time more coherently in English - luckily for the both of them, the man had not understood the entirety of the engineer's outburst.
"I told you to keep your filthy hands out of my gondola. If you don't shift yourself now, I'll ring in the airport authorities and get them to remove you from here. It's none of your business what's inside here, so clear off."
The ensuing arguement was heard across the airship area, many pausing for a moment to watch the man arguing.
The ISS agents were out on patrol of the holding area as the arguement ensued. Unlike the customs officials, they had a small 'Gecko' fast attack vehicle, a pimped-up dune buggy touting a powerful searchlight unit in place of a machinegun, and plates of bullet-proof glass around the two men inside. Both were dressed in darker clothing than the customs officials, with armaments more evident on their holsters. The bullet-proof vests they were were also higher grade, plates of ceramic inside a multi-layered kevlar liner. The vests extended with kevlar padding on their arms, on their forearms and elbows. Here, it was possible to see the shock-absorbing fabric base upon which the bulletproof suits were built, along with the identifying marks of their service: silver lettering on their shoulder pads marking out ISS, along with the Interior Ministry Insignia both on the backs of their bulletproof vests and on their shock helmets.
"I reckon we should check our newcomer friends out, just in case they need gentle guidance on the national law."
Ha'klo nodded, turning the wheel as they moved away from the security fence along a small lane underneath one of the moored airships. The straight road was perfect for weaning out the full potential of their vehicle on, travelling for a kilometre uninterrupted along the side of the Clipper-class airship moored there, with the airship itself taking up the majority of the space above them for its duration. Speeding up to a hundred kilometres an hour, the engine screeched as it reached the limits of its gearing, bouncing violently as it crossed a small bridge across a pipe conduit cut into the concrete. They slowed down as they turned off, moving up over to the side of the airship. What they weren't expecting as they arrived was the hot dispute involving one of the airship engineers, loud above the relative quiet of the aerodrome.
The vehicle cruised in next to the arguement, listening in intently.
"Pretty petty arguement isn't it? Over fuel I guess?"
"No." Ha'klo was silent as he listened in, making up his mind.
"The bloke inside the airship is pissed off at the guy opening the wrong hatch for the fuel. Big deal eh?"
"That's why I'm interested. I'll tell you what I think later, but for now we'll break this up."
Ha'klo stepped from the vehicle, shouting over to the engineer.
"Oi mate, calm it will you? Do you want to come down here and explain what you're arguing all about?"
The engineer almost froze as he saw the two ISS agents, whipping around and fumbling with the pipe attachment as he moved along the side of the airship.
"It's nothing, officers. Just a petty dispute over me opening the wrong panel."
He had quickly quietened down, opening the correct panel to start fuelling the airship.
Ha'klo turned away, walking back to the vehicle smiling.
"It gets me each time that me merely walking out is enough to calm an arguement. But, on a more serious note, I think there's more to this than meets the eye."
He took out a notepad, jotting some notes as he spoke quietly, the sound of the fuel pumps on the tanker now covering their conversation.
"The arguement was petty enough, right? However, what we need to do is look at the response. The bloke inside sounded pretty aggressive, which you would think would be strange for such an encounter. Thus, I reckon there's more to the bloke than meets the eye. You go check out with customs lot about the crew, once you've seen to that engineer. I'll take a look about inside, once the customs lot have finished with all the paperwork.
“Good evening, sir,” Ruiz answered with a smile as he approached. “I have the passports, right here actually.”
He had just produced the documents in question when the sound of angry people shouting reached his ears. He glanced over, saw the argument and decided to step in quick.
“I’ll get it, Boss.” That was Amy Grant, one of Rice’s people. During the trip he’d got the impression she was Rice’s adjutant, even if unofficially. She was a tall woman with blond hair kept short like a man’s, iced, blue eyes, and a fit, toned body which was kept covered in heavy denim coveralls and a thick hooded gray sweatshirt. That way she had addressed him was, he knew, merely a formality, a show, put on for the locals. This woman was one hard, tough lady, and if she recognized anybody as her boss, it wasn’t him.
He snapped his mouth shut against a protest. That would not make sense to these officials here. They might get suspicious and cause problems.
“Alright then, Amy,” he said. “See to it.”
Grant nodded and started toward the arguing men. As she approached, however, the fight, really just a shouting match, came to a finish. She kept moving anyway. First she grabbed her “fellow crewperson” and yanked him aside.
“Keep your fucking head on straight,” she whispered harshly, then released him, and kept her course towards the fuel technician.
“Hey there, friend,” she said. “You having trouble finding the fuel intake? Follow me. I’ll help you find it fast.”
Grant then turned her back on the man, intending to walk around the airship and show the lost technician where the fuel intake valve was located. She paused briefly however, upon hearing the man whispering something very…unsavory. Perhaps he could benefit from an intensive physical education; a very intensive, and very physical education.
Making up her mind, she began getting ready. She nodded to Chelsea Sexton, standing on her perch on one of the gondola entrance ramps, and nodded discreetly to the cargo bay at its back. Sexton nodded, equally slightly. She would be there. With support assured Grant looked back at her tagalong, gave him a little smile, and began calmly, naturally throwing him signals. She added just a little sway to her hips as she walked, and tugged on her shirt in order to tighten it around her upper body, accenting her admittedly good figure.
“You know,” she said casually. “I’ve done this job before too, fueling ships. It’s not a fun kind of job, is it? Well, it pays the bills, which is what matters.”
He nodded, and Grant smiled inwardly as she noticed his eyes wandering, focusing at last right on her chest, then her thighs, then her ass, and so on.
“Is this your main job?” she asked coolly. He shook his head, obviously distracted. Times like these made Amy wish she kept her hair out long. A wave or two of thick, blond locks like she’d once had could drive any man with a decent pulse bonkers.
“Really?” she said, feigning shock. “A second job, then?”
“Yeah,” he replied.
“What are you doing out here?” she asked. “Don’t you have a girlfriend?”
He nodded once more, his eyes wandering even more as they continued on.
“Why the second job then, instead of being at home, cuddling on the couch? Is she a little high maintenance?”
“That’s bloody putting it mildly,” said the man, with a snort.
“I think that’s probably the most you’ve said to me this entire time,” she said. “Well, here it is; the fuel intake valve. I’ll let you get to work.”
Grant hung back, out of the man’s way but still easily noticeable, and let him do his work in relative silence for a few minutes.
“You know,” she said as he finished, smiling inwardly yet again, as he jumped a bit. “It’s really a shame that she’s so demanding that you have to work two jobs. I mean, it doesn’t leave you much time to yourself, to relax and have fun.”
“It doesn’t,” he agreed after a moment.
“What do you do to let off steam, anyway?” she asked.
“Well,” he said. “Usually when I’m done here, I go to the pub and have a drink.”
“Really?” she said. “You know, if you’ve got a minute, I keep a stock of good whisky out in the cargo bay hidden in the ventilation shafts. It’s really good stock.”
“Are you trying to ask me for something?” he asked hesitantly, standing.
“You just look a bit lonely is all,” Grant replied.
“Lonely,” he said. “So, you’re asking me to…”
“Basically,” she said, winking at him. “You game?”
Maybe thirty minutes later, a search by the local authority turned up the man unconscious in a storage bin next to the landing pad. Grant had given him what she had implied, and then a little bit more, as she and Chelsea Sexton beat the living daylights out of him, and dumped him in the empty storage bin when nobody was watching.
Romandeosian women were not to be trifled with.
With the customs arrangements seen to, and a lengthy exchange of paperwork completed, the customs officials returned to their small motor convoy, driving off across the dark concrete now lit up with the occasional floodlight amongst tiny marker LED bulbs. The sky now was a crimson purple, stars starting to poke their way through the patches not obstructed by haze and steam clouds, a brilliant crescent moon caught in glimpses behind a furnace smokestack. It was a good time for Ha'klo to give the airship a quick going over, with his suspicions now aroused by the loud arguement of earlier. His gut was trying to tell him something, and that something was most definitely not that he was hungry.
Taking out a small LED flashlight, he quietly ducked past a lorry receiving deliverance of some of the airship's perishable goods, moving through the shadow the dark green object cast onto one of the ramps, and into the airship. His flashlight now cast an eerie blue glow as he started looking through the darkened interior, not turning on the lights for fear of giving himself away too soon. All around him, he took note of the potential danger that lay either side of him as he stepped across the claustrophobic walkway, looking into boxes that he passed. All seemed to be in order so far - the few crates that he could see all appeared to be carrying what their labels said - a random search revealed numerous plastic children's toys, of which the only fault he could find was a possible lack of taste.
As moved further into the airship, he began to become aware of the great differences in the design of the airship, enough to make his job difficult. Whilst most Alfegan airships were designed around a quick and efficient RIRO system to allow for fast turnaround times, this airship appeared not to use such an efficient system, with bulkheads separating each area much like the design of a conventional ship. The one benefit at least was that the airship was built more sturdily - with the Alfegan Lightened Payload System that was prevalent in Milkavich, the sides of the airship cargo gondola were often a mere 5mm of composite thick, enough to keep the wind off the internal cargo but easy enough for somebody to fall through if they were propelled with enough force, especially in craft with more dubious operators. Here, the walls were definitely not moving anywhere with even severe provarication - Ha'klo saw from a bulky aluminium girder behind a crate he was checking that the walls weren't even likely to give if they were attacked by a sledgehammer.
Ducking under a bulkhead, Ha'klo turned back on himself to see a pair of figures exiting the airship, silhouetted in the headlights of a departing lorry. He considered confronting them, before turning back to look at a group of crates near the far side of the gondola. Some of these were already open, as if they had also been checked. From the sprawl of polystyrene nuggets, he could see some high value electronics goods inside the crate, all still in their wrapping. Moving over, he turned his flashlight to an ultraviolet setting, the dark purple glow changing the entire appearance of the crate. Security marks sprung up like hidden runes across the objects inside and on the crate itself, glowing with a surreal light. Eliminating the possibility of it being some sort of counterfeit, he moved around to check the other crates, others showing signs of being opened, anti-tamper seals very carefully removed using some form of improvised security tool.
If they've got a coded key unit onboard, then they're obviously carrying something of high value, or helping themselves to a bit. I wonder...
He drove a hand into one of the crates, feeling about amongst boxed games consoles to see whether anything was out of the norm. Nothing. He repeated his experiment on another crate, and was rewarded unexpectedly by a large, heavy object hidden deep underneath. Curious, he lifted out the object, moving his torch over to light it up. He immediately recognised the item, placing it atop the crate before removing his mobile phone. As an agent of the ISS, his pay was rather good compared to many others, and as such allowed him to acquire niceties that others in Milkavich could only dream of. His phone was a Fegonet Y77 Mesolite phone, relying on the more stable mesolite signal rather than the dodgy mobile phone networks in Milkavich. Even so, the bulky antenna had been taken in the designer's stride, incorporated into a stylish hand-held unit that rested snugly within a deep pocket. Flicking on the small camera, he took a few pictures of the item, before hurriedly stuffing it back into the crate and placing the lid back on.
Hardly enough to arrest them now. But enough, I reckon, to give it another shot a little later.
Hearing movement in the darkness, the agent turned around, whipping out his identification, before thinking better of it. Hand resting on his sidearm, he turned to make a hasty retreat from the airship, footsteps seemingly echoing behind him on the gantry as he moved through the oppressive darkness into the light. Outside, as he was caught in a floodlight on one of the fuelling trucks, he waited for a few moments to let his eyes re-adjust, before walking over to their small patrol car. Inside, his comrade was already waiting, a look of concern on his face. They did not speak as they drove away, until they were far away from the airship. Ha'klo spoke first.
"It seems that our foreign friends are more than they appear. Quite pleasant on the surface of course, though it seems that they have some rather interesting items on board."
Ha'klo took out his phone, accessing the images he had taken inside. Only now, he was realising that someone may have seen him taking the photos.
"Now how can you explain carrying that around, hidden in a crate of other goods?"
The image showed a full set of body armour, coloured a basic olive. Not only was it kevlar-filled, but heavy bulges showed the location of ceramic plates pre-inserted. It was obviously military, though no marks were there to show which military it belonged to.
"It appears that we may in fact have to keep them here for longer than intended. They are going tomorrow morning, am I right?"
"At 0800 hours, they are taking their delivery of airship components - mainly electronics, but with a couple hundred reels of aerofilm as well. They have a slot between 0930 and 0940 hours to takeoff, and would be outside of the country by 1030 as an estimate." His comrade spoke as if he had already calculated the times, a habit that had its uses for Ha'klo.
"That should give us time to organise another search. However, I wait on your observations until I decide what sort of search is conducted. Tell me, was your talk with customs eventful?"
His comrade took out a notepad, filled with jotted notes and a few tables, before he arrived at the relevant heading.
"The main crew members all have valid passports, and a full record as requested by customs does exist. None of them have committed any criminal offences, save for a couple parking tickets here and there, so they can possibly be seen as those being used in this case. The other members they have as 'crew' are however more suspect. I ran my own check, and came up with nothing. But this isn't the nothing as in clean record. They don't exist on any computers, save for having a valid passport. And if that isn't suspicious enough, I made some observations on weapons carriage. All appeared to be porting concealed and semi-concealed arms of some form or another. Though I doubt they have a declared onboard armoury, I suspect they have more weaponry than meets the eye, though that may be me reacting to superflous weaponry carriage. I didn't check, but I believe at least one may have been carrying an automatic weapon. Therefore, I recommend extreme caution."
Ha'klo smiled as he pulled up at the security checkpoint, taking out a radio as he left the vehicle.
"You know what the ISS are like - if a job's worth doing, it's worth doing as overkill."
The reflections of helicopter gunships glinted in his eyes as he remembered the last major rally that the ISS had broken up. Most other cities would send in riot police, but the ISS had decided to bring in the majority of its air arm to oversea the demonstration. Thank whoever was up there that they had only been used for observation.
The sky was finally black as a group assembled in the security checkpoint, preparing for the operation they had ahead. Including Ha'klo and his comrade, a total of twelve men sat with the blinds pulled and lights dimmed, as Ha'klo watched his superior draw an attack plan on the whiteboard. The briefing hadn't started yet, as shown by the final checks to equipment as men finished battle-preparing their weapons of choice - a mix of automatic and semi-automatic shotguns bombed up with slug rounds, with Ha'klo being the odd one out in his choice of an AMP-99 machinepistol, complete with a drum magazine. Whilst low powered, the weapon was able to eat through the small 6.8mm AFP cartridges it used at a staggering rate, more than enough to floor a potential aggressor. The attack on the airship was meant to be primarily surveillance - with it being a foreign airship, they needed to gather as much evidence as was possible before arresting the crew, using both helmet-mounted cameras and gathering smaller items of evidence in large holdalls.
As they finished final checks, the IC officer walked to the front of the room, clapping for attention before speaking.
"As you are aware, this is primarily a surveillance operation, following to a detainment operation. Mission change will only occur when authorised by ISS command in the central Milkavich station, who will be monitoring your camera feeds at all times.
Due to the potentially dangerous nature of the suspects, the primary stage of the operation must be stealthy - no shots are to be fired save in self-defence and if it is certain the operation has been compromised. We do not want them to know we are gathering evidence, and most of all want to avoid gunfire if we are to detain the subjects for questioning - surprise will be the key to ensuring minimal casualties.
For insertion, we will use a decoy to attract attention away from the airship during boarding, in the form of a diverted military jet bomber flying low over the area and deploying flares. During that time, Team 1 and Team 2 will move in using Gecko Fast Attack Vehicles to the nearest airship, before running on foot into the airship. Upon arrival, all lighting circuits in the main gondola must be deactivated, using the master controls near to the loading system controls. Team One will enter via the loading/unloading ramp, and commence their search from there inwards. Team Two will enter via a mobile panel accessible from the refuelling platform, and commence search around the area the bullet proof vest was found.
Team Three will provide backup and fire support from their Gecko parked at the adjacent airship. Your Gecko will be armed with a 7.62mm GPMG to allow for fire support on the airship side, should things take a turn for the worse.
If there is an extensive firefight, you are to engage and call for backup. That backup will likely be Aeromarine Shock Teams, so be prepared to give them cover to enter the airship. In the unlikely event that the airship tries to take off, you are to exit the airship by safe means immediately, or retreat into the airship gasbag. From there, we will scramble an Aerodropcraft to commence boarding.