Elemiah Celestis

Frontier 12 - Dynamic Shift

From the completely off-the-record and unofficial notes of Sergeant Arius Numitor

Bastion Eos, 8th of May 240

It is Friday night - new colonists will be arriving on Eos soon. Normally I would be near the gate with our welcoming folders, or prepping to give the orientation talk. However, that task now falls our diplomatic corps, who took it off my hands and are a lot better at it. So I have some time on my hands, and have volunteered for duty at Forward Operating Base 'Wyvern'. It is a quiet post, and I catch up on my paperwork. Quintus, Estel and Cassius join me. Faustus is already there, doing maintenance. We quickly establish a random patrol schedule and attend our various duties.

Then a sonic boom roars through the night, somewhere to the west. Grabbing primaries, we all move to defensive positions near the main door. But it is no attack. A trail of flames moves overhead. Quickly bringing our sensors to bear, my heart skips a beat. A Vespa-class shuttle. Is it our trusty Louisa? But the cockpit is wrong - it is bigger, bulbous, bigger viewing panes - the premium all-weather model. It looks like Louisa, but it is the Dabur A01, the Sona luxury variant. Unmarked and without IFF signal. Quintus in the meanwhile walks up to me with his thermal scanner - that shuttle is haemorrhaging heat from places where it should not have a heat signature at all. It is coming down, hard.

It crashes to the east of us, at grid coordinates L28-6. The CiC gets back to me after my urgent communication. I tell them I can launch a rescue op but will need some reinforcements. The FoB can also not remain behind undefended. Additionally, being a civilian unmarked shuttle we suspect Elysium Optimum smugglers - we grabbed a few of them just two weeks ago. I hear that Victus is among the reinforcements, and ask him to bring the 'boombag', our demolitions kit. If it is Elysium Optimum, we are destroying that toxic shit in-situ instead of taking it back. With reinforcements en route and Delta taking over garrison-duties Estel and I quickly sketch out a basic mission plan – rescue any survivors, recover any bodies, salvage what is possible. In case of contraband, log and destroy.

A sizable mission party arrives, mostly Legionairs. It also includes one of the new arrivals, Combat Engineer Flax of the Legio Rapax - she must have stepped on to the shuttle right out of the gate. I can appreciate that. We split in three teams - secure, medical and engineering. Marcas offers to assist in scouting, and I gladly take him up on that.

Dubbing the mission 'Dark Autumn', we move out. Octavia calls the mission 'Dark Otter'. Thus another mission name is born, and we laugh. Then we hit the Operational Area and put all levity aside. We form up in a basic three-part fighting formation, take the shuttle out as the range lasts and hoof it the rest to the crash site. As a crashed shuttle also signals 'free biomass' to the Creeptoids, we go Condition One, brass-check weapons and approach quietly.

The wreck is in poor condition, but the principal hull is intact. Probably salvageable materials inside, though the shuttle will never fly again. Then the bad news. Marcas is physically sick as he confirms it carries not the expected contraband, but the crystal fungus that plagues Dzar. Someone, in a deliberate act of bio-terrorism, brought the pernicious stuff to Eos. Marcas stays outside, and the rest of us moves in. No bodies, but we locate a lot of blood and their ID's - they are probably very dead. Shuttle parts are everywhere. Most of the storage containers are empty. Being able to teleport, the enemy has been here. They extracted the cargo, and left a fighting party.

As our perimeter team skirmishes, we quickly salvage what we can. Flax locates and grabs the flight data recorder. Quintus liberates salvageable components including two gyro-stabilized cup holders. I set a charge on the last bit of fungus and the empty crates. Having been briefed by Mano I use our Mk. XIII Redox-Thermite - ultra-high temperatures are the only way to end the stuff, and our military grade goes low-level plasmic at 6600 to 7000 degrees. Have not used it since last year, when we used it to kill a god. Good stuff that will do the job.

Once set, we withdraw, still skirmishing. I detonate the charge remotely before the timer runs down. With some luck a Creeptoid or two also bought it. We hoof it back home with our salvaged bits, flight recorder and recovered ID's. Except for a fair amount of shield and armor hits, we're all good. Marcas recovers, which is a good sign that we have not inadvertently taken the crystal stuff with us.
Back home Victus cracks the datarecorder and decrypts the cockpit video log. It shows two cultists, talking and bantering. The intel is very interesting and relevant, but I my first thought is how nice the cockpit layout is, and that I would love to have one of those. At moments such as these I feel my Venator training. Regardless it is a lot of bad news. I loop Pontifex Fabor and the other Prisci in, and watch the vidlog with them. I see their faces blanch, tighten and settle in grim determination. Best to debrief the Governor on this mission sooner rather then later. She'll have questions.

For now, however, my task is done.

"Sergeant, we detected odd activity at these grid coordinates, could you set up a scouting mission?” Medea steps in next to me, a clipboard in hand. She would not ask me if it was not important. I nod my acknowledgement, take the clipboard and set out to form a scout team. And thus ends my quiet night at the FoB...
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Elemiah Celestis

Frontier 11 - Forward Unto Dawn

From the completely off-the-record and unofficial notes of Sergeant Arius Numitor

Bastion Eos, 24th to 26th of April 240

Damn satisfying. That is how I'd describe my last few weeks. Coordinating the off-world building crew and integrating them with our own local engineering corps has been an absolute delight. The upgrades are on track, on schedule and on budget. There was even time to assemble and test the new shuttle as the bays were being constructed around it. Long live Aquilan Standard Modularity and Pendzal Rapid Deployment Colonies.

That, and the fact that everyone here worked their collective asses off. Even those that could not contribute engineering knowledge did grunt work in moving things around, aiding the Corps Diplomatique outreach missions or making sure that critical functions remained up throughout the construction.

As duties allowed a lot of them took personal leave as well for a few days. The quiet would not last, so starting the new Bastion with an alert and refreshed population stood to reason. I am looking at taking some myself, after this job is done. Not like I can relax until I see Beacon's system monitoring board light up all green.

Now to tell the Apatar and Lieutenant that the CiC can be moved up to its permanent location. They'll be happy to be out of the hydroponics bay, despite the fact that they are now both properly hydrated...

---------------------

The plan is going well enough - Lieutenant Andronicus may have committed the Venatores a bit too early but everyone is eager to get stuck into the fight so no complaints here. We screen the wide flank where there is a lot of open ground between us and the entrance. A good killing ground, but that goes both ways. The LT coordinates while he orders Estella to show DZ-3 where the generator is located. Rather impressed by his continuing patience. Most Clannies make poor soldiers despite being formidable warriors. We make due.

A few minutes later the generator is down and we push collectively with at least four military units. That pretty much clears the grounds and we take the entrance. Met Maati at the door for our usual 'good-to-see-you-while-others-shoot-at-us'. It is a comforting call-and-answer routine. Estel joins us while sweeping the inside, snagging a fresh drumclip from our supply backpack. Her munitions tally registers at least three confirmed kills, her resource-to-kill ratio remaining the highest in the unit. Forward Operating Base Wyvern is secure quickly after, with Lira and our scientists puzzling over a shielded room that we found. I'll read that report later.

Still rather annoyed about my grenade fumble. I owe Marcas a drink. Done is definitely better than perfect, though.

---------------------

As we Jericho and I touch down we already hear the gunfire bursts. I carry a pair of powerful strategic explosives to bring the FoB down if the enemy threatens to re-take it, and Jericho knows just where to place them to get it done. Just in time for some impromptu defensive actions.

I see Cassius and Estella flitting out of the main entrance to the corner of the FoB, and realize that is Victus' OP group pushing to the other side of the building to outflank. I go into a dead run from the landingfield and catch up with them as they complete the move - adding my gunfire to theirs. The Squibs were focused on DZ-3 with their backs toward us, and we prosecute them hard. The fight is over in moments.

SGM Quartus, who led the defense, dubs the move "The Octavius Reach-Around". I am sure it will be quite the page-turner at the academy.

I clap Cassius on the back. Our fresh-from-the-core-worlds Biochemist keeps up admirably with the combat patrols, and has taken a liking to our doctrine of rapid mobility and overwhelming force. Altum, our fresh Legio Rapax marine, saunters up from the other side reloading his experimental combat shotgun with the ease of a proven veteran. Yes, the Legions sent us solid reinforcements.

Imperative; locate threat and engage.

---------------------

Initially it is to help Sasha. He did not expect it to be quite this much fun, tho. A lot of the colonists dressed up as Pendzal Clan Fennik members in order to validate their existence to the counting commission. Sounded illegal, but Sasha ensured him that it was good fun.

And not only him. A whole bunch of colonists had taken to the challenge to dress up and register their name. So now Ilyan Dobvanfleski, Geo-Technical Engineer, was part of honorable Clan Fennik.

A fun Pendzal Clan tradition, indeed!

---------------------

I get them. I really do. And it is bloody hard to stay on your assigned mission when your friends are screaming for reinforcements. 'They have their job, I have mine' becomes very, very tricky. Days that I wish there was a second unit of Venatores on the planet. The shuttleride back seemed to take forever, and the comm-traffic kept coming.

Still, getting shouted at now we are here is damaging my calm. Donated blood to Marcus and de-facto coordinated defense of the FoB while the higher ups sorted themselves out. Medea aka Eagle 1-1 is our unflappable Operations Officer and calmly asks me direct questions about the FoB status she she can build the tactical picture. Honestly wondering what the rest of the military units was doing. But that is most definitively not my job.

Had a talk with the LT. He liked my suggestion for the FoB defenders. I think they will like it, too.

---------------------

Lira gears up, off on a mission with the other acolytes to support our Prisci. She brass-check her trusty Primitus Mk. V as I load a drum-magazine for her. She grins at the 36-round capacity monster and we joke that reloading is for saps.

Later that night I hear that they were tested on their mission, forced to fight enemies without their melee weapons. I hope our Prisci thanked Maïr for my sister, who is an absolute hellion in close combat and thought to bring a hi-cap magazine for her shotgun.

---------------------

Nimuel walks in to the Common Area at a brisk pace as most of us are in relaxing. It was a long, long day at the FoB, but Delta Company (“f-ing reservists”) has taken garrison duties, which means we can R&R. He hesitates for a moment, perhaps gauging if I am still sober ( I am ), but then asks if we can track our shuttles in any way. Arkady Vukov stole the Mouse - our scout ship - in order to go into the wilds to die there. He's been setting his affairs all day, apparently he is terminally ill. I curse his dramatic gesture - the Right to Self-Determination is sacred in the Republic, but it is known as the Directive of Dumb Decisions for a reason...

"So, is this a rescue mission or an asset recovery?"

I’ve never really liked Arkady. Too much of a joker. Plus, I am pretty sure we exchanged ship-to-ship fire in the Ziamlian Exclusion Zone as part of CMXCI pirate suppression duties. Still, he did his thing and did Clan morale wonders. I know he will be missed. But dragging an unwilling colonist back to the Bastion is unethical at best, bloody dangerous at worst.

The Apatar seems to process similar thoughts, and bluntly states "Asset recovery".

Good enough for me. I ask and receive his permission to take Louisa, grab a few volunteer pilots from the common area and we are airborne minutes later. We quickly brief and make a plan while tracking the Mouse beacon - stationary for now - with Fareed and me dashing to the Mouse upon landing, and Jinn, Yelena and Mayumi flying Louisa back.

We land, dash out, and find the Mouse blessedly uncloaked and idling in a clearing. We climb in, get ready for take off, and find out Arkady engaged the parking brake with the engines running. One last 'fuck you' to standard procedure - typical. I smile, disengage the brakes and boost up. Fareed proves pleasant company on the way back and pilots skillfully as I navigate. We land both shuttles practically simultaneously, and I make sure that all craft are secure for the night. I may no longer be Chief Shuttles, but I am still rather fond of our aerospace wing. The Apatar is relieved too, and we share a quick drink before retiring for the night. Not the optimal outcome, but losses were kept to a necessary minimum.

Imperative; determine what you need and acquire those things.

---------------------

I like Captain Volkov. Was somewhat sceptical, but he is more like the coreworld Pendzal that I was used to working together with doing border security. Clear, forthright, practical.

I will miss Sasha, but I am glad that the replacement worked out.

He signs off the sheet for the rescheduled mission "Panem et Circenses", and off we go.

---------------------

So far, so good.

Halina, Rowena, Pavel and the rest of the CD did their job with extraordinary diligence, and separated the refugees and the captain. Called us in, with the Lt. and me serving as distraction, and the Estel/Victus snatch team taking down the captain just like we practiced half a dozen times. The guards grumble but accept the validity of the arrest warrant. The security team is scrupulously sticking to the zero violence protocol, only having to apply threat posture once against the guards. Just get the captain in the shuttle, make sure the refugees are in good hands and deport the detainee to Nadz. Almost there. We got this.

Then it happens. Some pulse of emotion ripples through the refugees, a flicker of hurt, the collective outcry of pain. They charge.

My adrenaline surges, and time stops.

For a moment it is all like the Battle for Eos again, with the Kadu grenade suicide attacks. Back when they were all still under mental control of the godling Ink’Nakal. My eyes meet the Sergeant Major’s, and he sees it as well. The security team falls into the practiced drill of a skirmish line in preparation to repel the charge. In the next two seconds their training will tell them to raise their weapons and open fire.

“Hold! Keep your weapons down”. I am surprised to hear it is my own voice. I twice resist the urge to drop my hand to my sidearm. Vitus keeps his Nx down through sheer force of will. Lira's posture telegraphs combat-ready but the combat shotgun never leaves her backplate. We will not fire on the refugees.

Then the CD physically interposes themselves between us and the refugees. Those few refugees that get through are not met with gunfire but with gentle hands and soothing words.

The crisis passes. Time resumes. I exchange glances with the CD, checking if they are okay. I gently guide a refugee back to the group, re-assuring her that Captain Balendin will face justice.

Today’s difficulty was not shooting at things. I am impressed, I am grateful and I am proud. This mission team performed above and beyond.

But holy fuckballs, I need a stiff drink.

Primary Imperative; the mission is all.

---------------------

Oh, dear Pandac. This "Documentation is Dishonor" thing will come back to haunt you. But at the very least the Imperium will run their 'lotus operations' on the up and up now, instead of skirting Bastion Procedures. If they actually are ‘training missions’.

Because the last ‘training mission’ brought the attention of the seriously insane Krall to Eos Colonia. That fucker is deranged enough to mess with the Imperial Family, and he will not blink or hesitate to glass this colony if he can't get what he wants. And that is if we are lucky.

Don't get me wrong, I trust Halina, Pandac and Kodama with my life. It is just that this Krally McKrallTits is a foe that seems... beyond us.

---------------------

Got the signal. Octavia and Quintus are in position, and Sasha is underway. Operation Serpens in Horto is a go, we gate in thirty.

Imperative; move.
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Elemiah Celestis

2018, the flipside.

Normally I post my year in review somewhere near my birthday, but time got away from my in December. It is generally not the easiest, and this year we were combining Lies' winterdip with Rory who decided to go for learning to walk before years end. Suffice to say that my last few weeks were beautiful and utterly exhausting. Can't remember starting the new year with a battery this low.

The big one is of course finding my feet as a parent. Can't say I've got it all down, nor do I believe I ever fully will, but I immensely enjoy my time with Rory, our time as a family and facilitating her development in whatever she decides to develop. She babbles, is figuring out all the tech in the living room, walks at a decent speed for about 10 steps, crawls at high speed and is enjoying her friends at daycare. She is a social, happy, relaxed child that likes to go explore things as long as at least one of the parental units is near. Daycare also means that Lies started work halfway through the year and I am particularly happy with that. We did the peak-family thing by going to Euro Disney which we all really enjoyed.
Work-wise I will start working for Doctors Without Borders in Amsterdam somewhere this month. It'll be a cool challenge, and as I am wholeheartedly supportive of this NGO I am also looking forward to getting to know the people working there. So far my initial meeting was inspiring, which can be rare in my field of work. I will accept needing public transport for the foreseeable future as an acceptable price to pay.

My orga-highlights this year are Styx and Dauntless. Styx was a lot of fun organizing and participating in, and made use of a whole slew of interesting mechanics to tell the story of a family gathering of the Greek Gods, with all attendant drama and dilemma's. Dauntless was super-unexpected - I'd found the Mercuur in Vlissingen, an old Dutch navy minesweeper, and we boldly inquired if we could use her for an event. After a few emails and a visit there we were allowed to use her for a one-shot that became Dauntless - that had to be put together in less the five weeks. I had to bow out from organizing it in regards to time and the fact I had committed to Styx prep, but I assisted as a ship's cook which was cool enough to see and experience. And we get to use the Mercuur again this year, which considerably more prep time.

My player experiences at among others Vampire Utrecht, Omen en Frontier were all awesome, with al lot more emphasis on calibrating experiences and helping others tweak theirs. It felt like working with being more conscious about what sort of play we want and facilitate, and that is cool. I am looking forward to tackling some bigger projects again, tho - whether some new swag, plans or specials. I took a back seat this year due to logical circumstances, but I feel ready to add a bit again ( though far below my capacity pre-parent - that is a given ).
My coolest larp experience this year is College of Wizardry - mainly due to the location and the awesome community. The people I played with made it all supremely cool. With a rock solid family with a wonderful dilemma, a boyfriend, werewolves, a murder to investigate and being part of a band of vigilante students I had plenty to do with Finn coming to life as more of a top level Witchard then I had anticipated. It also felt like a bit of the redemption of Sander the High School Student, as I had brought my old schoolbag from those days to be Finn's school bag. And that really worked.

Personal-wise I am doing okay-ish. Re-calibrating as a parent is cool, but it left precious little space for some other bits of me This is pretty much a given in a child's first year and perfectly acceptable. But now that the mini is ( sometimes literally ) up and running I am looking forward to spending more quality time with my loved ones - with or without the mini in question.
I am also looking forward to writing more again - I have the core of five articles on the larp platform standing by if I can only order to thoughts long enough to do some proper editing on them. Also, as a lot of friends struggle or have struggled with their own questions of identity I am considering writing up some of my own journey in that regard - but I want to do that proper justice and proper context. And that will take brainspace.
In regards to health I am not too dissatisfied, slowly shedding the stress-weight of Lies' pregnancy. My main aim with getting a fit-bit is fix my sleeping pattern, which has allowed me to raise my weekly sleep average to over six hours a night. I want to get it back up to at least seven - and move from the roughly 8k steps a day I do to a more wholesome 10k. Still, that is all pretty okay.

So, 2018 was... acceptable. Magical. Wondrous. If 2019 can be that with more time, more sleep ( how paradoxical ) and some more writing I'd be pretty happy about it. So lets make that happen. Hope to see you all out there in some capacity this year.
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Elemiah Celestis

(no subject)

From the completely off-the-record and unofficial notes of Sergeant Arius Numitor

Bastion Eos, 20th to 22nd of March 240

The Combat Information Center is coming online, and we are starting to plan. I have to get Denna up to speed as my second-in-command. My relatively simple Chief Shuttle Operations job has been assimilated into the CiC as a far bigger job, the equivalent of a Flight Captain or Wing Commander. It is a big responsibility, and I need the backup.
I like her immediately. She is one of the quiet Clannies, which made her pop on our radar. Her crew, the Red Brotherhood, has often stated it 'is under contract', and we suspect it is directly with Chen Che - who is the top of our shitlist - or Zalinsky Enterprises - who are not far below Che on said shitlist.

But she was vouched for by Sasha and Kat personally, and I trust them. Trust them. I grin. Things change. Ways change. Some for the best. Denna is attentive, asks questions, adapts ideas, communicates. We work out a shuttle schedule, inventory our assets and start making plans. I will enjoy working with her.

I see the Sergeant-Major from the corner of my eye. He is damn proud to be here. And he should. Against all odds we are still alive, and he is getting official command of what is basically our very own Legion tomorrow.

-------------------------

Decimus looks at me incredulously. "How many?" he asks again, slower this time as if that will change my answer. "A thousand Primitus Combat Shotguns. I'd prefer the Mark Five, if they are available." I state, in my calm flat Quartermaster voice. He is quiet for a moment, and I see his lateral thinking mind running through the same options I did, weighing the same numbers.

I understand it, mind you. Last week I had the same opinion - we should not be arming the locals, especially not those that were our enemies only a few months ago. I'd almost shot down the request as soon as I heard it. But that was before the new information caused me to re-evaluate our strategic picture. It has shown that the Kadu and Hasiru Tribes have only one of two futures with how this war is going. They are either refugees that we need to protect in order to prevent the alien enemy from harvesting their biomass. Or they are willing allies whose terrain knowledge and aggression can turn the fight.

At the very least something to stem the attrition rate of our own soldiers on Eos. The risks of an armed rebellion or tribal war are both very real, but arming them now is the surest way to deny the enemy a vital resource. It is as simple as that.

Rule 101 subsection 10: no means or method should be excluded if that exclusion leads to defeat.

-------------------------

Victus storms into the CiC, and surprises me. His anger is white hot unlike my usual slow simmer. Normally he is angry at people, but now he is angry at a place. It is the Strategium, the Combat Information Center. It is destroying the 991st. Three of its members are now active in running the offensive on the planet, and the unit is suffering. It has suffered since the beginning.

The problem is thus: Venatores excel at warfare, because Venatores are trained to excel at everything. And that makes us too damned useful. Trace back several vital colonial facilities and services, and you will find that a Venator set up this service or that system before handing it over to experts or civilian authorities. Sergeant-Major Quartus has used us as such during his time as Governor-Militant, as tools of government and coordination. He has continued that practice as Pan-Factional Commander, because it gets results.

But that means we get doled out in bits and pieces. Experts to lead strikes, patch holes, provide assistance. And that is not who we are. My brother's anger is white-hot, but it is just. He is right. There is a moment of crisis. I have to make a decision. We can't have three people in the CiC. We need to lead this unit.

I resign as Commander Shuttle Operations.

-------------------------

I throw my cap through the barracks, and slump briefly against my bunk. I am alone, Comms chirp, our shield generator recharge stations humms softly. I cared about the Chief Shuttle Operations job. I've worked hard to make it all happen. It hurts having to give it up. I care about it a lot, for reasons...

... I am briefly back on Merula, skimming the equatorial dunes in my Aurora LN. I am in the pilot's seat. Constanticus nuzzles my neck while Lena and Irene are making out in the back. We are heading for an anonymous oasis for an afternoon of private fun. I am enjoying the shoreleave with my friends. Rare time away from the 991st. How are my friends doing now, after the attacks? There has been no response to my letter...

No. Stop. Un-fuck yourself. Cap on, gear up, emotions off. Homesickness is a luxury for later.

Primary Imperative: the mission is all.

-------------------------

The parade files out on the Patio, looking pretty decent. People take their place. I glance at my squad, in full wargear. We've taken up close protection duties. I requested it, personally. The 991st is not really what you would call 'a parade unit'. Rapax is probably the best at parading on the planet, but even they look uncomfortable. Holding this transfer-of-command ceremony next to an active alien artefact is shit-stupid. But the ICC will not be denied its moneyshot. So close protection duties are necessary. It takes my mind off things.

As the civilians sit down, the military units start filing out. First are the Clans - I am honestly surprised at the Clannies who consider themselves 'a military unit'. They clown around, as usual. They are not military. They are not even militia. They are a war-band, a hap-hazard arrangement of 'enthusiastic' semi- and demi-combatants. If they ever run into something they can't handle by blowing an several drum-mags of ammo into it at point-blank range we'll lose them all. I hope the CiC staff is taking notes.

The Imperials are scrupulously correct, filing in neatly. But between them and the Clannies taking up a lot of patio the Legionairs that file out last have little room to stand. The Lt. solves it promptly, as she always does, and the ceremony drags on. Pretty flag, tho. Will make a nice campaign badge, once compliance on Eos has been achieved. The alien sphere seems content to pulse menacingly.

-------------------------

R&R! Warrant Officer Diem of the Morale, Welfare and Recreation Department has mandated two hours of downtime for us all. The weather is great. They shipped out Freedom Burgers for the lot of us. We slip into our chill clothes, and hang out. Some of us grab a book or a hammock to chill, but most take a corner of the patio and talk a lot. We have ice-cream, and live seems pretty good. Morale hasn't been this high in months.

Then the alien sphere pulses. Juno collapses. Briefly I feel morale twitch, but we all know what to do. Juno is quickly given the help she needs. In an act of contemptuous defiance, twenty-four members of the proud Civitas, Classis et Legiones Aquila flip the bird to whoever of whatever is watching on the other side of the sphere.

Squad morale restored.

------------------------

Word had some down from the CiC - we're going in with the entire 991st. The second node location has been found, and we are hoofing it at best speed. We find a patrol from one of the firebases who got ambushed by the node guard force. The soldiers are all down, and half of them are already dead. We save the rest and start working on the node while treating the wounded. The Governor and Taga are with us, and so it pretty much feels like the old Eos Castellum crew. I am comfortable with these people having our back.

They come at us a few times, but they are facing the full 991st. We cordon, contain, target and destroy. No holding lines or static defense for us. Venatores fight dynamically. One tries to flank, and I pin it behind a tree. I have no cover myself but that barely matters if I can force it to keep its head down. As it finally musters the courage to take a shot at me, it gets hit from the side.

Estella has flanked, prosecuting the target hard. Her first two hits collapse its shield, the third hits the torso and the fourth blows out something in its neck – arterial spray everywhere. It gurgles and dies. She flashes me her trademark half-grin before folding back into our formation to screen the wounded.

Gnaeus protects the other flank, and one tries to rush him. He kneels and calmly lets his experimental Scorpio-pattern weapon rip it apart even as it tries to impale him. He reloads, and quickly checks all our munitions tallies.

We get the job done, medevac the wounded patrol and return to base. Mission accomplished.

-------------------------

Our comms chirp. Octavia is heading back to the Bastion in the shuttle, and requests assistance. Their mission went tits up - something about snipers - and they had to medevac. They have wounded, and more people still in the field. I acknowledge and head to the shuttle bay. Cass comes over the comm a moment later, acknowledging she's on her way, too. Between the two of us, we can fly that shuttle in and out of hell if need be.

Three Clannies jump in with us. DZ-3 and Red Brotherhood. Their people are out there, I understand their worry. We nod and they strap in. I don't trust them to be able to hit any actual targets, but that is not what this mission requires. Their 'suppressive' fire will be enough to reel our people back in.

Octavia stays with us, despite the sniper-hit to her shoulder. As I inquire about her armor-status, she casually mentions that it is fine - the sniper was kind enough to score a direct hit to her shoulder, leaving the armor undamaged. I see in her eyes that her brain is swimming in adrenalin and endorphins. She is loving it. She lives for this. I am damn glad we got some veteran reinforcements like her.

We bring everyone back home safe, and conduct them to the med bay. Victus actually has to force Octavia to be treated. She wants to keep going. But we need her nominal for tomorrow - the alien sphere might have a command center that needs raidin' - and we do so love to drop in uninvited.

-----------------------------------

One of the new DZ-3 members stands next to me, the Intergalactic Cheerleader. "Uhm, could you come down? The party is getting out of hand..." she hesitatingly remarks. Now that gets my attention. When a Clanny sends for a Legionair, it is bad. I may not be security, but we are the keepers of the peace. I nod to her, and let her know we will be down momentarily. She looks relieved. I routinely check my shieldgen (full charge) and my sidearm (fully loaded). I move down.

Vitus is there, I can see the pain in his eyes. "Did you hear, Anna..." but I stop him there. I need to focus him on something actionable. He explains these five visiting Clannies may have something to do with Anna's overdose. Baron is trying to fix stuff, but if they try to make for the gate we will have to stop them. I pull my sidearm. "Sanction Five it is". Vitus looks better, he knows he's got my support. He removes his patches, and I follow suit. This is personal.
The Sergeant-Major comes out of the CiC and notices our lack of patches. He inquires. Vitus looks pained again. I play my card. "Personal Matters, sir". He nods, and moves off, knowing better then to stick around. Vitus' eyes meet mine, understanding. We turn back to the clusterfuck. Luckily it is fixed soon after, and the party continues. There are days I do not get Clannies. At all. But Vitus is doing better, and no blood was spilt. The Intergalactic Cheerleader is called Hannah. We shake hands, exchange introductions and she thanks me. Optimal outcome.

Primary Imperative - I am my Brother's Keeper.

---------------------------------

I run Mila through the basics. I sense her need to be useful. She is a fighter pilot, and while she can fly the shuttles she is at her best flying something nimble. We both grin widely as we feel the twin engines throttle up to full. We bond over both being pilots. The AM-50 Razor cuts through the sky like a blade, and we get the scouting run down in record time.

Perhaps I should ask Denna to be a flight instructor. I can continue doing some good here

Secondary Imperative - Maintain optimal readiness at all times.

---------------------------------

Quintus needed the shuttles to bleed off excess reactor power from the Bastion after a huge fuckup. The clusterfuck will be addressed later, but for now he needs Lira, myself and the newly arrived Imperial engineer Hayato to do what he says, exactly how he says we should do it.

I sigh, close up the box of EMP grenades and head up. Soon after, we have both shuttles running at max idle thrust while still attached to the umbilical to the Bastion. I flick on my comm, and radio Quintus: "So Legionairs in shuttles make for good capacitors?"

I hear the grin in his answer as the comms crackle. "Of course. Don't hover too far above the Bastion, you are about to drop."

I am glad I trust my brother. It would have gotten awkward otherwise.

---------------------------------

The debriefing is fairly routine, but I am impressed they sent three agents to debrief us in person. This is being taken seriously, and now we are being given a follow-up mission.

"In short", Agent Flavius says "We need you to go back, and salvage the Anubis. We can provide a ship, but the mission needs to be launched soon."

Lt. Sevso's eyes meet mine. We both have the same twinkle. This is what we were hoping for.

"I'd prefer the ARNX Mayhem, if she is available." I know I am aiming high. The ship is a modular prototype, part of a project the 991st consulted on. It was also named after one of their own, a brother fallen during the Skalatrax Landings. Sometimes you can combine the personal with the practical...

"We will see what we can do. We recommend a multifactional team." Agent Flavius concludes, closing her notepad and getting up to leave. The debriefing is over, and we escort the agents back to the gate.

Our own ship, a challenging problem and a tight deadline. Now this is more like it...
Elemiah Celestis

Goodbye, 2017.

2017, it barely feels like you started, for a very good reason. In spring the news came that we were expecting, and that pretty much structured my year. A lot changed and at the same time it feels perfectly natural. Like Rory slotted nicely into a well-prepared niche in our family. She may only be a month old, but it strangely feels far longer. Yay for genetic programming.

The main project at the moment is helping Lies recover and get her body autonomy back. She's taken a few expeditions with me doing overwatch on Rory, and that has worked out great. I hope to enable many more adventures for both of my ladies in 2018.

Still, there was plenty of gaming to be had. Generally stuck closer to home with less events, but there were notable exceptions such as Wards of Czocha that was definitively a highlight of my year. Halfway through the year my CMXCI team had a wonderful day after which we had fresh momentum and new teammates - preparing us all for the fall event was absolutely delightful ( accessories, wheeeeeeee ). Vampire was excellent even with going abroad less and World of Darkness Berlin was a dream come true. Cirque Noir feels ages ago, but I feel very very good about supporting that team in making the event. Sitting out Awakening ( as it was only a few days before Rory's birth ) was very tough, but I am happy that the team included me with as much as possible including working through the feedback and the workshops for the consent mechanics. All in all, it has been a solid gaming year.
Still, a few larps were a bit of a struggle for me for personal reasons - as my priorities change I am definitively feeling that I have a lessened capacity for 'mucking about' ( whether mistake, malice or misadventure ) and am quicker to react to what I perceive are issues during events. In part I will solve this by choosing more stringently, and for the rest I will try to communicate more clearly when stuff bothers me. Diplomacy has always served me well, but it has also led to a bit of a softened approach that did not always produce the most ideal circumstances for me. With less time to game I will have to prioritize - some I will give up, and with others I will change my playing approach to be less dependent on those factors that did not work for me.
Next year will be mostly the same schedule, with some adaptations to ensure that Lies and I both have the chance to attend our favorite larps as the other spends the weekend with Rory. I am especially happy with already booking an edition of College of Wizardy.

Politically there were a lot of ups and downs. But people are seemingly catching on with a few tricks of the more toxic elements of our discourse, so here is to hoping that the dawn is indeed coming. We need some people to actually lead instead of scream, point at the other 'side' and posture. Reality will be there regardless of cable television and most of my friends and family live below sea level, thank you very much.

From a personal perspective there have been a lot of changes, but all of them for the positive. I've been to a lot of friends, Lies and I had a lot of friends over - especially as we became less mobile it was wonderful to still be able to chill, game, watch stuff and eat at our place. Thanks for taking the effort to visit us, and we hope to return the favor in the future. I got to know a few people a lot better over the year, and I am happy to know them. Thanks.

Lastly, I am proud of a few of my friends who struggled through recovery and personal development. It has not been easy for them, and finding help is always hard, but they persevered and got through. I am happy to have been able to help in my own small way as best I could.

So there is to 2018, in which I will find out more about this whole ‘dad’ thing, work on my own personal development within that new situation and go on a few more adventures, this time with my daughter in tow. My best wishes for 2018, especially those who of you that I know are embarking on a grand adventure of their own.

Catch you on the flipside.
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Elemiah Celestis

(no subject)

From the completely off-the-record and unofficial notes of Sergeant Arius Numitor

Bastion Eos, 15th of March 240

Focus.

On days like this it feels like I am controlling myself from a third person view. So much happened, so much death, so many hurt. The professional in myself coldy regards the quivering bit of human in the corner of my mind. Stressed out of his brain, probably some PTSD too. But I don't have time for that. Normally I'd talk to Cass, but she has her own issues. So for what seems like the twentieth time today I try to focus and I recite the NCO oath in my mind. Gotta keep moving.

"I am a noncommissioned officer, a leader of Legionairs. As a noncommissioned officer, I realize that I am a member of a time honored corps".

Get that shuttle repaired. Ask Juno and Gideon to help. Get it back into the fight. On day like this I miss my appartment on Merula. Tinkering in the garage on that old banged up Aurora LN. But this thing needs fixing, or people will keep dying. Briefly hope drains as I mentally run through the damage control list.

"I am proud of the Corps of noncommissioned officers and will at all times conduct myself so as to bring credit upon the Corps, the military service and The Republic regardless of the situation in which I find myself. I will not use my grade or position to attain pleasure, profit, or personal safety."

Work. Focus on the work. Don't focus on the mountain, focus on the hill. One step. Then another. Then another. Else nothing gets done.

"Competence is my watchword. My responsibilities will always be uppermost in my mind — accomplishment of my mission and the welfare of my Legionairs. I will strive to remain technically and tactically proficient. I am aware of my role as a noncommissioned officer. I will fulfill my responsibilities inherent in that role."

A tool slips my hand as Juno and I struggle to re-align the port engines, hitting the hangar floor with a clang. She asks if I am okay. I smile and I give her a "I'm fine". We both know that neither of us is. A mutual lie to get through the day.

"All Legionairs are entitled to outstanding leadership; I will provide that leadership. I know my Legionairs and I will always place their needs above my own. I will communicate consistently with my Legionairs and never leave them uninformed. I will be fair and impartial when recommending both rewards and punishment."

Gideon hrmps to himself sitting on the co-pilots seat running power diagnostics. Only a trickly of what the rear actuators need actually makes it to the stern. He's replaced over a dozen relays already, but still nothing. At least he is thorough, working the problem instead of bodging it up. I was glad to countersign his transfer orders to VAS CCCLI.

"Officers of my unit will have maximum time to accomplish their duties; they will not have to accomplish mine. I will earn their respect and confidence as well as that of my Legionairs. I will be loyal to those with whom I serve; seniors, peers, and subordinates alike."

Why do most people call him Numitor? Why only the last name? A few call him by his rank. Only a few call him Arius. Fewer still the other thing. He always tries to remember first names. Regard people with warmth. Sometimes he still needs to fake it, but he genuinly likes working with Kat, with Hryar, with Mano, with Mayumi, with Pandac... so why do they keep using his last name?

"I will exercise initiative by taking appropriate action in the absence of orders. I will not compromise my integrity, nor my moral courage. I will not forget, nor will I allow my comrades to forget that we are professionals."

All bolts tightened on the engine cowling, looks good to go. There. Fixed. Another light switches from red to amber, and flickers to green. Only seventy-or-so to go. Mind keeps racing, flying, reviewing decisions and choices. But there is no time for that. Keep moving, don't stop to think.

Focus. Keep moving. Or nothing gets done.
Elemiah Celestis

(no subject)

From the completely off-the-record and unofficial notes of Sergeant Arius Numitor

Bastion Eos, 2nd of february 240

The Look.

The mission 'Thunderstruck' was running into difficulties, chewing through successive waves of suicide bombers and psychic horrors - but the Legio Venatores CMXCI had strict orders: we were to hold in reserve. It made good strategic sense, and it is not that we're not useful at the Bastion - we are all cross-trained in casevac, medevac, recovery and triage procedures which proved quite handy as shuttle after shuttle started returning with injured combattants. But as the call for reinforcements came in from the notoriously unshakable Animar Subal of the 808th...

We all got the Look.

The Look that said 'Cut us loose. Let us go. This is what we do. Cut us loose'. The Lieutenant kept a tight rein on things, but she had seen it in all of us - she is good like that. The Look even got into Admiral Galerius' eyes - retired or not, a lifetime of service to the Republic is not so easily put aside. A nervous energy started building and it was the retiree that finally broke the tension as he turned to us. "Get Dressed!" he barked, followed by a simple nod from Lt. Sevso. "Yes, Sir!" we replied, as we ran to the barracks. We crammed five minutes worth of prep in two, got into our Venatores gasmask standby kits and crammed into the shuttle with whoever was ready.

SC-01 Louisa, our reliable little Vesta, was wheezing and tired after her twenty-second sortie that day - the interior smelled like cordite and blood which only heightened our sense of urgency. Lieutenant Sevso handed me my spare ammo drums that I did not even remember giving to her, and I saw the Look in her, too. If she could she’d grab one of the spare rifles now and join us on the field. But she had her own duties and slammed closed the hatch. A quick double knock indicated that she’d secured the hangar door and Louisa roared back into the night sky. Only at that point we noticed the pooling blood under the pilot seat - Specialist Juno Valeria had flown multiple sorties with just basic triage after what looked like a through-and-through gunshot to the leg. Nothing to be done about it now, tho. All our pilots were in the fight, on the board or in the medbay - and we'd have to make due.

We came down hard and disembarked in a rapid two-by-two line - as soon as we were out the hatch closed behind us. The landing field was eerily silent as the roar of the VTOL echoed away, but our feet were crunching through shell casings and spent clips - definitely the right place. We fell into our well-trained routine with Victus leading the strike - for all my own seniority it was in this kind of environment where my brother thrived, and we could not afford any fuckups. He ordered a wide advance and moved towards the target structure, where we saw what remained of one of the 808th: young Akizuki had regained his honor by falling in combat. There was little we could do for him, and we moved on as gunfire picked up on the other side of the structure - we had been spotted.

My own group held the corner while Victus and Cass swept around - a few of the Ecoform soldiers who were pre-occupied by us fell seconds later - they never saw the push from the other side. The last one realized his position and rushed Caelius. We poored fire into him and he detonated just short of Caelius' position, knocking him down. We secured the flank and I got my brother back on his feet. Then the door of the target compound burst open and the team we were here to rescue poured out, being pursued. We gunned the baddies down, and a moment's confusion came over them until Cass simply remarked "Don't worry, loves. Cavalry's here". The relief on some of the faces was telling, but the mission was not over yet - we still had to get back and there was no way we could squeeze all of us into fewer than three shuttle-rides.

We herded them back to the landing field - unsurprisingly they had a lot of wounded and were carrying a salvaged generator. Adrenaline was up, and it took some shouting by Victus and Cass to get them moving into the shuttle - the wounded were casevaced first. Minutes later Louisa returned and the generator plus the rest of the Thunderstruck team followed. And there it was just us, waiting for the last shuttle out. We quickly took stock of the situation. My own team had only expended a few rounds while making the push, and all reported ready to go, spreading in a reinforced half-square formation around the landing field. With us were Marcus, Armond, Maati and Lazar. I was pretty sure about Marcus Wakefield, Corporal Armond Vincere and Baguhan Maati Infor Dannam - the first was a Legion trauma-specialist who had survived in this warzone as long as any of us, the second a career soldier from the Sturnus anti-terrorism taskforce and the third an veteran of the Imperial 808th 'Gubat Bantay'. The unknown factor was Lazar Varnava, nominally a merc from the Pendzal DZ-3 - but his normal loudmouth swagger was absent. He was scanning the forest’s edge with a professional detachment and a loaded weapon. It would have to do.

Then the entire landing field fell quiet as if nature herself was holding her breath - the enemy was coming. Victus quickly instructed all to fall back to the shuttle upon the ‘rally’ command, and we prepared to defend ourselves. Twice they tried to attack and flank us. Twice they were repulsed. All were calm, collected and composed - holding their quarter and carefully screening those left and right of them from enemy attempts to break into the landing field. I saw some flickers of shield generators taking hits, but otherwise we simply stale-mated the enemy and bought the time we needed. I myself took a hit to my field with some sort of fragmentation round - it broke apart on impact and shrapnel clipped the side of my head - for a moment I was worried how pissed the medical staff would be that I had taken a second headwound today.

“Rally, rally!”

The shuttle touched down almost gracefully, and we fell back in good order, laying down covering fire as we went. A quick headcount confirmed we’d all made it. Kat sat alone in the cockpit - apparently she had convinced Specialist Valeria to seek medical help at one point. But I was not worried - I was one of the few Aquila that knew of her part as one of the avenging angels of Nadz, flying bomber sorties against the enemy. Cass quickly took the co-pilot station and between the both of them had pretty much the most experienced shuttle crew we could ask for. SC-01 Louisa quickly gained altitude and got us to safety. “You okay back there...!?”, came Kat’s voice, and we confirmed we were all good to go. “Great, I got some good music for this.”

As an old pre-war protest song sounded throughout the shuttle we finally relaxed - Specialist Acilia quickly checked us on wounds but except for minor scrapes and my headwound we were all okay. Smiles were all around, including Maati and Lazar. And something one of our instructors had said during recovery training came to mind: “The Venatores do not make their hard decisions and necessary sacrifices with callous detachment, but neither do they let tears blind them to the greater purpose they pursue.”

This is what the ICC was all about. An Imperial officer had requested reinforcements, a Legion mission team had compacted with who-ever was available to exfiltrate them and they were flown being flow out by an Independant pilot. We had done the right thing, and we'd pulled it off. We all felt it, an honest pride-by-associaton. Finally the Look faded from our eyes.

This is our place. This is our mission. A mission that is shared among all factions - this proved that when push comes to shove Humanity stands together on Eos as one. I don't feel quite so lonely, anymore.
Elemiah Celestis

(no subject)

From the completely off-the-record and unofficial notes of Sergeant Arius Numitor

Bastion Eos, 25th of January, Year 240

It has been a rough day. Finally had some kind of talk with one of the shits that took our blood, and there is just no sense of responsibility there. I just hate that they can't police their own people, and I just know that if the Conclave needs to take action it is going to be all 'everybody is against us, boohoo' again. No sense of consequences, of loyalty, of dignity, of team spirit. Like we don't even live on the same planet. It bothers me beyond the facts of the matter, and I finally figured out why.

I am trained to think alike. Everything is so standardized amongst the Legiones Aquila that you can function without thinking. If I ever needed night vision goggles, somebody could throw me their bag, and I’d know exactly what pocket to find them in. We were like cogs in a wheel. And that may sound like a bad thing — but it’s not.

Nobody wants to think of themselves as cogs in a wheel, but it is human nature that we love structure. Our behavior is predictive. All of us tend to be in the same place, at the same time, every single day. This tendency is just accelerated in the Legion. And it feels good. It feels good to know your place. It feels good to wear the same uniform. It feels good to know exactly what you’re contributing to the mission, to the team, and to the Republic as a whole. Your value is so clear.

But on Eos the lines are blurred. It's hard to discover that value. You’re not sure where you fit. You’re not sure how you connect to other people. You’re not sure how to make a difference. It is hard to relate to other factions. It can be very isolating. And all you want to do is just to be back in the Legion, with my team, out on our own, being of value to the Republic.

Don't get me wrong, I believe in the mission. But some days are harder then others.
Elemiah Celestis

Personal log cont.

From the completely off-the-record and unofficial notes of Sergeant Arius Numitor

Bastion Eos, 12th of January, Year 240

Abominable. That is what he'd called it.

Captain Whats-His-Name may have been an rear-echelon twat, but he'd been right about this particular point. Weapon maintainance had suffered in a last few weeks, and their combat effectiveness had degraded accordingly. These were mostly second-tier weapons after all. Spares they'd saved or salvaged in the past week during the evacuation of Eos Castellum and the recovery of the Ecoform Alpha Base (now called Bastion Eos).

It wasn't that it was unexpected. The Governor has managed to wreck another bolt sled, Victus had his usual flora-related jams, the Lt. has a persistent discharge failure in one of her two Conatio's he had not been able to correct. Even his own Praecursator had failed - an internal ammo explosion had rendered the gun internals a tangled mess. Quintus and Cass' Primitus Combat Shotguns were still in the fight, tho - perhaps there was something to the commercials about its supposed indestructibility. All of their primary weapons were still in fighting condition, but if any of those broke it would mean an immediate reduction of firepower on the line.

Time was the issue. His promotion had come through, but that also meant that with Gnaeus still out on WMD-hunt he was now the Governor's Executive Officer. With this new swanky base to whip into shape that meant a lot of work, a lot of organizing and a lot of civilian management. He did not have to do it alone, mind you, but coordinating it all took a lot of time. His toolbox was still in the corner of the barracks he'd put it over a week ago. And the maintainance suffered.

The one evening of downtime had been good, tho. Time to relax a bit, kick back with his squaddies, his fellow legionairs and whatever other colonists felt like hanging with in their precious spare time. There were good talks, good laughs and some accidental weapon discharges. Nothing that could not be fixed with some plaster and a stern talk later. Nothing that could not be fixed now by the supply of alcohol that the Lt. had 'liberated' from Ecoforms personal stash. And nothing that could not be made better by requisitioning Colonel Cicero's personal Mochachino maker.

For much the same reason he liked the fact that he'd been able to fly the shuttle with Kat and Cass. It was a personal moment, something that was just Arius' time, and not part of the professional life of Sergeant Arius Numitor. Much like a talk in the barracks with his squad about a personal matter. He had faith in them all - griping aside, when push came to shove he had a good team. A trusted team. A team that could give the aliens a run for their money. And the way that it was all shaping up, they'd soon have ample opportunity to prove that for all the universe.

But first, weapon maintainance.
Elemiah Celestis

Personal log

From the completely off-the-record and unofficial notes of Corporal Arius Numitor

Viridis low-orbit, 28th of November, Year 239 (New Count)

Large public parks, wide open-plan cities, deep blue inland seas and massive stretches of bright green nature preserves. That is how Viridis looked from above, belying the title "Fortress World" that made many foreigners think of a grey concrete box loaded to the brim with weapons and soldiers. Of course, looking like a pleasant and open planet was the plan all along. Arius Numitor had heard a slightly tipsy Captain from the Panopticon describe it as: "Surprise! That large, flat, poorly defended tundra conveniently located near a number of major metropolitan areas is actually the heart of a large, dense, and heavily armed bunker system!"

Of course, now that Lira was piloting the brand-new two-seater Origin Jumpworks M50 out of the atmosphere the massive orbital plates became visible, bristling with capital level weaponry. Legion clearance codes allowed them to fly this close to the military orbitals, and the rows upon rows of ships birthed on their protected underside were a beautiful sight. She gunned the engines and flew closer to the ship docks, drawing a series of disturbed hails from shuttle pilots and maintenance lighters, and navigated between the massive struts that held destroyers, frigates and cruisers in place as they were being loaded or repaired.

The transponder kept beeping insistently. Probably the owner of the M50 trying to find out where his prize ship had gone. He should not have left it in a seemingly abandoned and dilapidated industrial hangar with the canopy open. Lira and Arius had only the one day of liberty on Viridis and decided to go urban exploring near one of the older spaceports when they had found it. And decided to take it for a spin.

Besides, there wasn't really an 'owner' to begin with. Arius recognized spoofed ID codes when he saw them. They should fly it back to the manufacturer, and perhaps cash themselves a nice little recovery fee. Also, CMXCI was officially not on Viridis, so Arius and Lira were not here and could not have possibly 'borrowed' a ship from 200 light years away. Plausible fracking deniability. Gotta love the military.

They would return to Eos tomorrow, but today they were free to enjoy all the perks a core world could offer while the Sergeant-Major was being debriefed at the Panopticon. Now, if he could just convince Lira to give him a spin at the controls. Or stop smirking quite so much at near misses as she jinked through onrushing orbital traffic...