Entry 23 – Voyage
Contrary to my expectations, there wasn't much time to write these past days. Life at sea keeps you far busier than you might think and by the time you strap yourself to bed, you're in no mood to write diary entries. Our day was filled with drills, exercises and helping the crew with various tasks. I even got to help in the kitchen once. It was not fun on a ship with flat keel – trust me, after a day or two, clear weather and smooth sailing prayers become a part of every evening even for the non-religious sort.
The entire ship had a crew of fifty plus our three dozen men strong team – anything more would be incredibly conspicuous. What we had an abundance of were grenades – lots and lots of guns, grenades, rigs, explosives and other military hardware. You name it, we had it. It feels mighty fine to be dressed up in a full rig, plates and all, with a Mossberg shotgun on your back and an M4 in your hands. Heavy as shit but still feels good.
And then there were the vehicles we received, courtesy of Ezra Rosenstein. I'm not quite sure how but this time, we received the very best and it wasn't left up to us this time. For fire support we had a Jaguar SV and a Gepard – these things can shred anything, from helicopters to people. You really don't want to be on the opposite side of the barrel when their two 35mm autocannons open up.
And then there were the IFVs, cutting edge all of them. Say what you will about the Germans, they know how to make amazing weapons and the Puma is amongst the best. It's a finicky bastard, I'll give you that, but give it proper care and it's second to none. And that we did, learning their ins and outs along the way. I've never read that many manuals just in case I get to operate one, even though mine's the Jag. I just didn't want to leave Espinoza hanging and she seemed to have enjoyed my company providing we didn't touch some specific subjects that she simply refused to discuss.
Of course there was the matter of blending in. At least that part was easy – in Ireland, you get to drive whichever armored vehicle you want as long as it's white. Passing as the Irish Army was a no-go from the beginning – the Irish haven't had tanks since the 1970s and their last proper armored vehicle was a WW2-era Comet. The Vigilants, on the other hand, have all the cool toys, including cutting edge British and German tech – best in the world, really. Ireland is probably the only country in the West where, should its army go up against what's officially a corporate security force, the army would lose.
We're making the landing tomorrow. Generally speaking, it's not that hard a plan to execute. Ferguson provided us with fresh images of suitable beaches and enemy patrol routes. How she got it, that I have no idea but given the fact we haven't had a single communication issue lately and the quality of the intel, I suspect Murdoch owns (or has recently acquired) a spy satellite. Considering my generous advance (which I feel I've earned already but haven't touched yet) I knew he was rich but the sheer amount of resources available is staggering. The operation clearly must matter a lot to both Murdoch and Ferguson who's been in touch more and more as we approached our destination.
As it turns out, landing this kind of ship is actually not that complicated. Simply put, you just perform a controlled beaching and hope for the best – and when it's time to leave, the second ship tows you back to the sea. Luckily for us, the captain is a Navy veteran who has plenty of experience with precisely this kind of operation.
In the evening, I had a short chat with Espinoza. I caught her on the upper deck, staring at the sea. She didn't respond to my greeting at first, clearly lost in thought. Only after several minutes spent in silence together did she acknowledge my presence.
"Do you think we're doing the right thing?"
"The right thing?" I frowned.
"Working with Murdoch. I know we don't have a choice given who we are, but still..."
"What do you mean?"
She looked at me strangely.
"I had a brother, you know. So I was told, at least. I don't remember him at all. When I first... when Doctor Haswell finally figured out what was happening back home, I created video logs as a reminder, just in case. It turns out it was a smart idea but... it was like listening to a stranger using my own voice. It's... hard to describe. Anyway... he loved the sea, or so I heard."
I was at a loss for words and she didn't seem in the mood to continue talking anyway. Some truths are hard to bear but what little was explained to me triggered almost a primal fear in my heart, fear of things I didn't understand, of things I was never meant to understand. And she didn't just learn about them. She lived them. Something like that scars you for all eternity. As she turned back towards the sea, I realized I couldn't imagine how she could have stayed sane.
And deep inside, I began to wonder... did she really?