Marcus waited in the briefing room, he looked at the time once again and swung around in anticipation when the door hissed open but was disappointed to see the recce team enter followed by Commander Schindler and Commander Horace. Marcus studied the six men who made up the recce team. He noticed immediately that this team was not made up of average members of the combat arms. They seemed battle hardened and where breaking several dress and deportment policies aside from the named tactical jackets they wore. This fact told Marcus that they were obviously from some kind of special forces unit which was exempt of the policies in order to not fit the stereotype of Tribunal soldiers when in civilian populations. One was particularly tall and built, he wore his blond hair short, nearly to the skin. His rectangular features were highlighted by piercing blue eyes and a tattoo that hung from his left brow. At first Marcus recognized it as an artistic version of the mathematical symbol pi, the top bar being above his eyebrow and the two legs hanging down across his eyelid reaching below his cheekbone. There was a spearhead shaped symbol which pointed up between the two legs of the pi, its base was level with the bottom of the legs. It wasn’t until Marcus made note of the sky blue colour of the tattoo that he realised it was most likely Celtic in nature; war paint. The name tag on his jacket read “Thor” which was obviously a handle. The man behind the tattooed brute had long dark hair which bracketed tight fitting ergonomic goggles. The lenses were dark read and dull, not reflective. Marcus imagined the texture to feel like leather and they reminded him of bug eyes. He’d seen these before on sensitive optical technology, they were light spectrum filter lenses. He assumed that the man wearing them had his eyes genetically altered to “see” in the infrared range or higher in the electromagnetic spectrum. His name tag read “Deadeye”. The third man seemed like a regular civilian. He was older with salt and peppered hair and he wore nondescript clothing under his jacket which bore the handle “Bishop”. Behind Bishop was a man who wore a muscle shirt beneath his jacket. He had a dark skin complexion juxtaposed to light grey coloured eyes. The only other notable items on his person were two knives, one fitted sideways on the small of his back followed by another strapped to his thigh. “Hunter” was embroidered to his jacket. The fifth man was albino, he wore sun glasses to protect his eyes. His white hair was worn at mid length, just enough to blend in strangely with his white eyebrows. His handle was “Trigger.” The last man was of African decent and shaved his head completely. His posture was firm. For some reason Marcus’ first impression was that he was an all round kind of person, jack of all trades but the master of none. On his jacket was written “Magic”. Before he knew it Marcus was face to face with the Commander, he stood up quickly and snapped a crisp salute. “Commanders.” Marcus said. Commander Schindler Saluted in return. “Second Lieutenant. Where’s your pilot?” “He’s on his way Commander, he’ll be here very shortly. “He’d better not be late, he has five minutes.” “He won’t sir, I assure you.” Marcus said. As the soldiers from the recce team took their seats the door to the briefing room hissed open once again. On the other side Enora stood leaning against Vincent. “Hehum.” She cleared her throat, backing away from Vincent as inconspicuously as possible. “I’ll see you later.” She whispered to him and smiled. “See you later.” Vincent said before walking into the room and sitting down beside Marcus. “Alright.” Commander Schindler said. “Lieutenant, this is the recce team you’ll be escorting to the derelict. Now, I’ve read your file and I know you have a lot of experience in urban combat and boarded combat as a land forces member. Nevertheless, your part in this mission is strictly as a pilot, you have no combat status. Understood Lieutenant?” “Crystal clear sir.” Vincent replied, slightly frustrated at the idea of babysitting the cruiser while the recce team would go ahead into the most exciting part of the mission. “Alright.” said the commander once again. “Situation friendly: The Zerachiel is still en route in system to rendezvous with the target craft. Situation Enemy, currently there is only vague intelligence on some mobile launch units that may contact us before we reach the first outer planets, however we are relying on previous reconnaissance that highly suggests enemy forces are built up in a defensive position within the inner planets of the system.” Vincent watched as the recce team typed diligently on data pads and listened intently to the commanders every word. He was glad to know that the team he was bringing in was not complacent, nor overly excited by a bit of action thrown their way. Vincent was pulled back to the briefing by Commander Schindler’s hoarse voice. “Mission. You are to investigate the condition, cargo and information aboard the derelict vessel codenamed Delta Sierra. No move before 0200 hours today the 16th of December. You’ll use this time to prep the cruiser in Charlie bay and load stock. You’ll dock with Delta Sierra no later than 2300 hours 21st of December and push off no later than 0300 hours on the 22nd. You’ll be hitting four g’s for at least four days during your approach to the vessel. After assessing the situation you’ll load back up onto the cruiser and rendezvous with us at nav point 8 on the Zerachiels fight plan no later than 1200 hours on the 30thth of December. Actions to take if the Zerachiel is not there; wait in concealment for 24 hours at which point if there is still no contact with the Zerachiel you will fall back to Nav point Echo. Questions?” The floor was silent, some shook their heads in agreement but none spoke. Schindler stood down from the podium and walked to the side of the briefing room where he followed the ramp up to the doors at the back. When he reached the back he took a seat and nodded to Commander Horace. Commander Horace walked up to the podium from where he was standing in the shadows against the wall and began to speak. “Recce team, your call sign is now one one Alpha, you will breach and board call sign Delta Sierra as per previously mentioned timings and conduct a level three search for pertinent materials, information or evidence. Rules of Engagement are as per operational norms, if there are any survivors you are to detain them and give them appropriate medical attention. Anything useful that can be salvaged reasonably shall be loaded on to the cruiser, this includes any compatible fuel, ammunition, rations or miscellaneous items of importance. No looting under any circumstance, items will be tagged and checked as per S.O.P.’s, if any of you want a souvenir you’ll be paying dearly for it when we scan your asses on your way on to the Zerachiel. Any questions?” Once again the room was silent, this time no one even bothered to nod. The majority of the men in the room had undertaken missions of much greater tactical importance. All of them felt, at some level, that this was going to be a simple short mission. The hardest part would be the physical demand during the high G insertion. “Very well.” Said Commander Horace. “It is 2352 hours, time Synchronize to 2353 hours in twelve seconds. Ten. Five.” Everyone in the room reached for their watches or arm pads and got ready for the countdown. “Three. Two. One. Check.” Several beeps were heard in the room as the times where set. Commander Horace stood down from the Podium and joined Commander Schindler at the back of the room. Just before they exited Commander Horace turned about. “Good luck, and remember, we have no idea what may be waiting for you on that vessel. Be cautious and come home alive and in one piece.” The member with “Magic” on his jacket stood up and faced the Commanders. “Thank you Sir. We’ll perform our duties at one hundred and twenty percent, you have nothing to worry about.” Both Commanders exited the room and left the team in silence. For a moment no one moved or spoke, then the man who had given the farewell to the Commanders turned to the group. “Alright. Let’s get to the Cruiser and start loading up, we don’t have much time. Schooner already brought our Armoury up to Charlie bay. ” He turned and looked at Vincent. “Lieutenant. I am Sergeant Druke. I am in charge of the Recce team. I don’t give a shit about you and have operational importance enough to say whatever the fuck I want to you, don’t think because you have a few bars on you that you can tell me what to do. You’re the pilot, I’m the Recce team. You do your job I’ll do mine and as far as I’m concerned I’d like to keep our contact to the minimum.” Vincents brow furrowed. “Whatever you say Sergeant.” He turned and left the room, followed by Marcus who eyed the Sergeant angrily. Vincent knew that the Sergeant was truthful in what he said. The crews of many star ships worked on a basis of respect within the rank system. A Corporal with good battle experience and an honourable record could be taken more seriously than a Sergeant fresh from training soldiers for seven years. Vincent and Marcus were new here, and regardless of their rank, they would need to prove themselves to every individual organization on the ship before they would be taken seriously within operational status. Of course this didn’t mean that the Sergeant could tell him to fuck off in any situation. The fact that they were within operational capacity and where designated specific jobs simply meant that the seniority of the Sergeant upon the Zerachiel gave him some privileges which included getting away with the words he just spoke. Vincent didn’t care much, he was simply doing this job to keep himself busy and useful. He knew that because he was a pilot, there would be inevitable rivalry between himself and the combat arms members of the Zerachiel. The Recce team made their way to the back of the room lead by Sergeant Druke, “They seem very friendly.” Marcus said facetiously. “Lets hurry up and get that cruiser prepped, it’ll take at least half an hour to an hour to load it up and get all our checks done before we leave, we don’t have much time. “I agree, I’ll get my gear from my locker. Meet you in the docking bay?” “Will do.” Vincent replied. They both exited the room and made their way toward their individual destinations. Vincent entered his room, not conscious that Enora was sitting on the couch in the living area. “So when do you leave?” She said, startling him. Vincents head shot in the direction of her voice and his body tensed up, relaxing only slightly when he recognized the curves of Enora’s face. “You just scared the shit out of me. How did you get in?” “I have access to all my teams living spaces in case of an emergency.” She said smiling. “Well I’m glad you’re here actually I have very little time to pack a lot of shit.” “What exactly do you intend to bring? You’re just the pilot.” “I like to be prepared.” Vincent said as he pulled a tactical vest from a closet. Enora’s eyes widened. “You’re not going to board the ship with the Recce team are you?” “No, but I want to be ready in case something boards us.” Vincent said, emphasizing the us. Enora stood. “Alright, what do you want me to do?” Vincent looked at her. “First of all, you’re going to come here and kiss me. She smiled and walked over to him, putting her arms around his shoulders and kissing him passionately. “Thank you, and now you’re going to go into that room and pull out a duffel. Pack it with a weeks worth of cloths and that should be good.” Enora began to walk toward the bedroom and turned about before she got there. “Don’t for a second think that you can tell me what to do whenever you want, I’m helping you out of good faith here, not obeying your every command.” Vincent smiled at her. “Damn it, and here I was thinking I had you wrapped around my finger.” Enora disappeared into the other room, her soft laughter could still be heard. Vincent continued packing his tactical gear in a separate duffle bag. He knew that Marcus would be doing the same. He packed a holster for his personal pistol, and reminded himself to pick it up at the armoury on his way to the docking bay.

The End

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