"You've not told them, have you?"
General Smythe turned in his spacious leather chair to face the stars.
"I don't see why I should. The less they know about what's at stake, the less they can give to the enemy."
The small woman sitting on the other side of the General's office shifted uncomfortably on the smaller, plastic chair.
"Surely that's going about the situation backwards? If they don't know how much is resting on their shoulders, they'll be less careful with it."
Smythe spun his chair back around to face her. He put his leathery looking hands on the steel desk, and looked her straight in the eye.
"I trust McAndrew, Maria. I trust him to do exactly as he's been trained."
"And if the situation changes?"
Smythe sighed heavily, and looked away from Maria's eyes.
"We have to trust that he's up to it."
Her eyes widened, and her jaw opened slightly, before closing again. "If there was any other way to do things, trust me, they wouldn't be out there."
"I know, I know. It's just, you're practically sending them on a suicide mission."
"Maybe for any other team, but I have complete faith in Bravo."
"They're not the same Bravo team that they were 2 years ago, sir. They lost a lot more on Bellevue Prime than a competant rifleman."
Smythe had to concede the point. Bellevue Prime had been a hard time for the Shadowheart Program.
"They came out of it one man short. Most teams didn't come back at all. Besides, I took the liberty of choosing Captain Harrison's replacement myself."
"Is it someone I'm familiar with?"
"Private Alexander Phoenix."
Maria Phoenix gasped, nearly falling from her chair. Smythe continued, ignoring his daughter's sobs. A hardness had overtaken his blue eyes, and they glinted dangerously in the unnatural halogen light. "Out of all the potential recruits, he was the best. By far." Maria could only cry in response.
Smythe left his chair slowly, all of his 63 years making themselves known by the effort on his face. He stood by the observation window, a six foot tall glass panel which took up most of the outer wall. Maria continued to wail with abandon onto the cold, unforgiving steel table. Her father's words were spinning around her mind, 'If there was any other way, the best by far.'
"Why didn't you tell me?" She managed.
"Because you wouldn't have let him go."
"OF COURSE I WOULDN'T HAVE LET HIM-" she began, angry now.
"He wanted to go." Smythe said, cutting her short. This defeated Maria's resolve, and she sank back into her chair, with her makeup running down her face.
"In any case, what's done is done. Go home, Maria." Smythe strode around his chair, and placed his finger on the intercom pad. "Miss Flemming, please charter a shuttle back to Earth, and send a message to Major Harlem that I'll see him now." He all but ignored the broken woman in front of him as he sat at his desk and began to read a report from the Centauri sector. Maria gave the old General one last fleeting glance before running to the door and slamming it with a parting sob.
When he was sure she was gone, he tapped a command into his desk, and a holographic projection of the Odo system appeared in front of him, along with an androgynous, virtual looking face. "Overlord, where are Bravo now?" a blinking gold star with the label 'Bravo' appeared near the fifth planet in the system, moving slowly towards it. "What's their ETA on Odo 5?"
"ETA: 30 minutes."
Smythe waved his hand through the projection, and it disappeared. Despite what he had said to Maria, he was still worried about his grandson. But it was true, there had been none better suited than him to this particular Heartbreaker, and this particular team of Shadows. Perhaps he was getting too old for this.