Jerri heard the yelling and the crash. She put the call on her speaker then grabbed an intercom handset. “All Intel personnel report to stations! Captain XO to the Intel Shop! QRF prepare for deployment!” Yes, the Renegade was a pirate crew and most of them were not quite sober at any given time, but they still operated in a pretty efficient manner, to include maintaining a Quick Reaction Force for contingencies. Jerri was one of the few that had the authority to call for their deployment. Since she didn’t do it often, everyone would know that this was serious.
She put down the intercom just as the sound of a gunshot cracked over the speaker. Oh man, not good she thought, then her brain went to work. The words were muffled but the line was open, so the phone probably fell to the floor and under a seat. More sounds of shots being fired, which was probably Redleg and his family trying to fend off the attackers, whoever they are. Jerri had fired with Redleg several times, but she had also been on the range with Talia and the girls. She knew they had the ability to beat off an attack, assuming they didn’t run out of ammo.
The outer door to the S2 shop opened, and multiple people came running in. She recognized various voices from her team, and the voice of their fearless leader. “In here!” yelled Jerri, and some feet moved in her direction. Captain XO, Puck, who was the Airship’s pilot, and Platoon Sergeant Kim of the Bold Air Hussars piled into the room. “Talk to me Jerri,” said XO.
“I got a phone call from Redleg,” she said and indicated the open speakerphone line, the sound of more shouts, shots and crashes sounding over it. “He was asking about any threat info in the area, he thought he and his family were being followed. Right before I called you there was some yelling and a crash sound, then the first gunshots. It sounds like they’ve been ambushed in Wick but I don’t know where. I do know they were at their Church for services and thought they were followed from there.”
“Ok”, said the Captain XO. Then he turned towards SFC Kim. “Dan, who’s QRF today?”
SFC Kim replied immediately. “3rd Squad of the Bold Air Hussars. Viking already has them moving to the flight line for boarding.”
“Excellent. Go brief them up as they load, more info will follow as we have it. No one messes with family members, make sure they understand that. I don’t know who these guys are but they made a huge mistake today and I don’t want any of them getting away.”
Dan left and XO turned to Puck. “Puck, how soon can you get your toy in the air?”
Puck smiled. “My crew chief is pre-flighting, we will be up and headed to Wick in 5.”
“Ok, head to Wick and look for car accidents. If we get better info we will let you know.”
“Will do boss.” And with that Puck was out the door.
Captain XO turned back towards Jerri, and they both realized that they couldn’t hear any more shots being fired. They stared at each other for a couple of seconds with a knowing look between them, then the XO said “Let me know if you get any more information. I’m getting the Renegade spun up as well in case this is some kind of prelude to an attack on the base.”
“Got it” Jerri replied. “I’m already working on getting their location and I’ll get my people to look into the threat info.”
Suddenly Redleg’s voice came over the speaker. “We’re on the A99, south side of town.”
“Redleg, XO. SITREP.”
“It was a multiple vehicle ambush with a number of attackers. They grabbed my daughters and took off in a black Mercedes van, the license plate starts with Charlie, Papa, One, Eight.” Jerri caught the attention of one of her analysts and handed them a post-in with the partial plate. He ran off to get the required info. She turned back to the phone as Andrew continued talking. “They tried to grab my wife but she’s with me now and unharmed. We’ve got several bad guys down as well as some abandoned vehicles. We could really use some back up and an intel team to, plus a legal mate or two so they can deal with the local authorities if they ever show up. These guys were high on something, it took headshots to put them down, and I would swear some of them are still twitching too.”
“Roger, QRF is already in motion, you should see them soon” replied the XO. “Any idea who they were?”
There was a pause, then Andrew replied, “My first guess is Gilead.”
Captain XO swore. He hated those guys. The way they treated women and warped history to justify their way of life turned his stomach. Plus, he knew about the history Redleg and his family had with them. If Gilead was behind the abductions, this entire episode was going to get complicated and messy. With that thought, the XO decided he didn’t care how messy it got. While he and the majority of the crew didn’t agree with, or even understand, the McCalls choice of religious observance, crew are family, and his number one rule is that everyone puts family first.
“Understood. I’ll have Deuce pull up as much info as her section can get and then we can discuss further when you get here.” Then he continued “I’ve already got the Renegade spinning up for deployment. I’ll make sure my batman grabs your “Go” bag and, we’ll make sure Talia has stuff too.”
“Wait, what?” said Andrew, “Since when did you get a batman?”
“Airship Captain’s prerogative,” he replied, “and I really don’t think this is the time for that particular question.”
“It’s never the right time for most questions where this crew is concerned, so I ask them when I think of them” said Andrew.
“Whatever” replied XO. “Just link up with the QRF, scrub any intel you can get, and then meet us back here. We need to get aloft so we can get your girls back.”
“Roger, see you soon.” Answered Andrew, and the call disconnected.
The Captain XO turned towards Jerri, but she started talking first. “Redleg mentioned Gilead earlier, before the ambush hit them. What is going on? Why is a seriously whack religious cult from the US targeting him and his family? I mean all jokes about their religion aside, how is he involved with the Gilead cult?”
He sighed before answering. “You joined us right before we made the speed run from Maryland to Wick, right?” Jerri nodded yes, so he continued. “Redleg and his family were already onboard, but he wasn’t official crew yet.”
Jerri squinted as if she was looking back on those events two years ago. “Ok, I can vaguely remember that he was on board and working with the Tesla crews, but he wasn’t in charge, in fact there wasn’t a whole lot of organization with the gunnery crews back then. I think I ran into the rest of the family, but they weren’t too talkative back then. I’d say they were really skittish.”
“The issue with the Tesla crews is probably because they were a bit too drunk. After we got to Wick, I found I needed to tighten a few things up, but I digress. The point is we picked up Andrew and his family prior to recruiting you. And by ‘picked up’ that’s pretty literal, which is partly why the rest of family seemed skittish.”
“Ok, now I’m really intrigued” said Jerri.
“Save it for later, he needs to be here to tell the story. For now, find me some targets so we can go get those girls back”.
“Yes Sir,” said Jerri. Then she went to work.