Banzaidyne Press

Banzaidyne Press

Continued from Part One

"The Mekong Dominion has decided to withdraw from the Treaty of Coronado. All Peacekeepers have been immediately recalled."

Helena Matsuo blurted out the words to Jack Sanlander, as she stood before the doorway to his house. He stood in front of her for a moment, then sighed deeply and rubbed his eyes as he took in the news.

Yet he didn't seem at all surprised.

"Come on in," Jack said quietly as he opened the door fully. She entered and followed him into his living room, where the rest of the command officers of the Hong Kong Crusaders were gathered. Steve Brooks and Gabriel Koenig were seated in chairs talking quietly to each other, while Danielle Gibson, Geoff Peale and Larry Sullivan were stretched out on a couch. They all turned to Jack as he entered the room and said, "Well, folks, the other show dropped."

Steve looked at Helena as she entered the room, then at Jack. "The Dominion's leaving, too?"

Jack nodded, and the group erupted with curses and shouts. Jack let them vent for a moment, then held up his hands and yelled over the din, "All right, all right, let's settle down, people." As the noise subsided, he continued, "We figured this was going to happen, and unfortunately we were right. Now let's figure out what to do next." He turned to Helena, and in answer to the question on her face said, "We received word this morning that the United Mercantile Federation is also withdrawing from the Treaty and recalling all of its personnel. We rather figured the Dominion would follow suit."

"This really put the screws to us," exclaimed Danielle. "Mercantile and Mekongese personnel make up a fifth of our complement. Our readiness is going to go down the toilet."

"It's worse for the Flying Circus," Gabriel remarked. "A full third of their personnel are from one nation or the other. They'll have to scrounge a lot of their ground crews and support specialists from Coronado Aerospace and other civilian aircraft firms. I'll have to do the same thing for some of my maintenance crews, but we're not as dependent on foreign personnel."

"Sweet Prophet, we're in trouble," Geoff muttered.

"In trouble or not, it doesn't change the fact that they're leaving, and that the Governor wants a report by oh-nine-hundred hours on how we're going to handle it," Jack said as he paced back and forth across the room. "Okay. Most of these personnel are assigned here as infantry, right?"

"Yes, sir," Danielle affirmed. "They're mostly Peacekeeper Constables or infantry from the UMF Army, spread out amongst our armored cav troops."

"And they operate primarily out of the vehicles in those squadrons, our Piranhas and the Bradleys in Geoff's troop," Jack said as he continued to pace. "Those vehicles are crewed by Coronado personnel, aren't they?"

"Mostly, yes," Danielle agreed.

"Okay, then how about this?" Jack said with a crooked smile, the way he did when an idea came to him. "Once the UMFA and Peacekeepers leave, we reassign the remaining infantry to one troop in a squadron, and redesign the other troop as, say, a recon and fast strike unit? Any personnel left over can be reassigned to fill holes in other departments."

Steve raised his eyebrows and replied, "That shouldn't be too hard. The Piranha was designed for recon missions. We use them as infantry carriers mainly because their tires don't chew roads the way tracks do."

"What about my Bradleys?" asked Geoff.

"I'll have to make sure, but I seem to remember that there was a scout version of the Bradley," Steve said." Even if there wasn't, I'm sure the guys at Banzaidyne can come up with some kind of conversion kit."

"Okay, we'll hammer out the details in a minute," Jack said, "but this sounds workable." He let out a deep sigh as he realized just how tired he was. "That'll square away the combat part of our operations. How about our support units?"

"That's not as bad, but there are a number of departments that will be hit hard," Larry said. "Our MP company, naturally, our engineers," he paused as he motioned to Helena, "our medical staff ...."

Jack turned to Helena." Well, let's start with that. How will our medical staff be affected?"

Helena rubbed her neck; she felt as tired as Jack seemed. "Well, there's myself, Nagumo, McPhearson, a few others ... " she mumbled as she trailed off in thought. Then it hit her. "Damn it."

Jack looked at her with raised eyebrows. "Our - er, rather, the Crusaders' line, trauma and basic medical services will be fine, sir," Helena stated, "but you'll lose specialists in several fields."

Jack said, "Okay. Can cases involving those specialties be handled by the staff at Coronado General Hospital?"

Helena thought for a moment, then replied, "Not as well, but yes."

Jack shrugged and said in resignation, "Well, 'not as well' will have to do for now." He turned back to the other officers and said, "All right, then. Larry, what about supply?"

By the end of the evening, the Crusaders had worked out the basics of a transition plan, and hammered out several of the specific details. The meeting finally broke up shortly after dawn, as everyone else headed to their own homes for some sleep and a shower while Jack prepared for his meeting with the governor. Helena was refreshed by the cool wind in her hair as she drove back to her apartment, then cursed as she realized she had rounds soon. As she turned her car back towards the Crusaders' base, she wondered briefly how Sergeant Ortega was feeling - then she realized no other doctor in the county had as much experience with exotic Terranovan diseases as she did, and didn't think any other doctor could treat Ortega as well as she could.

What if she had to leave before his fever broke?

Wondering again how she had so aggravated her ancestors, Helena shook her head as she drove through the cool morning air.

Continue to Part Three

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