The Command Module was in the center of the installation. It had several wings shooting off of the central hub. Jeanne imagined it looked like a snowflake from above. Aesgir led her into one of the briefing rooms, where the rest of Kilo Squad had already gathered. They leaned against a holo projector with an hologram of Vihera rotating slowly. A tall bald man stood among them, the green light of the hologram illuminating the hard features of his face. Jeanne noticed there was a dark scar across his right eye which seemed to reflect light like a cat’s. Jeanne assumed he was Commander Juywut.
“Good, you are all here.” His voice was gruff and gravelly. “You must be the newest member of Kilo Squad,” he barked, looking at her.
“Yes ser.” Jeanne saluted.
“At ease, I’m not fond of protocol, makes me target. Gather round.” Jeanne relaxed and joined her squad mates next to the projector.
“I’m sending Kilo Squad up north into the Highlands, to the Gaerlei Valley. We’ve picked up some interference in Grid Sector Alfa-Charlie-Six, and all the scout drones we’ve sent up there have disappeared before they were able to transmit any intel.” Cmdr. Juywut manipulated the hologram and zoomed in on the sector to which he was referring. Jeanne was surprised to see that his left forearm was completely bio-mechanical.
“The IP is five-point-six kilometers from the last drone’s last known location. You are to search the area for the drone, recover it, and mark it for pick up. Then you are to scan the area in a five kilometer radius for the source of the interference. Once you complete your sweep, proceed to EZ Alpha for extraction. The SatTopo map will be uploaded to your suits TacNav. Any questions?” Cmdr. Juywut placed his hands behind his back.
“Will we have any support?” asked Aesgir.
“In the situation where support would be required, Fire Base Restrepo will be available with gunships and X-gun batteries,”
“How will we be inserting?” asked Zephor.
“The IP is in clearing near a river, the transport will land and dust off as soon as you are clear,”the commander paused, and when no further questions arose he spoke again, “This is just a scouting op, I don’t want any unnecessary risks. You all be careful out there. Who knows what sort of nasty beasts crouch out deep in the bush. Good luck.” Everyone nodded, and filed out of the room.
As soon as they returned to their barrack module everyone pulled off their dusty fatigues and filed into the attached washroom and shower. Jeanne noticed that all of them except for Zephor had numerous tattoos. The water was hot and gave off the scent of various metals. She felt her squad mates eyes watching her as the water washed over her. She had never been particularly shameful of her body, but their stares made her uncomfortable.
After they had showered they pulled on their under armor body suits. The suits were like a second skin and were made up of nano fibers that were impervious to traditional weapons such as slug throwers and projectile weapons. They were tight but didn’t restrict movement. The outer armor connected to the UABs and added protection from modern weaponry.
As they suited up Jeanne spotted that each of her squad mates armor had small bits of graffiti drawn over them. Aesgir had a pair of cornix birds painted on both sides of her breast plate. Amkell had written, ‘Kill an Isorain for Mum’ in a heart, on his shoulder, and ‘Fun Here’ on his groin protector. Damari had numerous tally marks on his his arm guards, and ‘KILL ‘EM ALL’ scrawled on his shoulder. Zephor simply had a smiley face drawn on the back of his armor. How can they not be busted for that?
Once they had suited up, they filed out with their helmets tucked beneath their arms and headed to the armory where they retrieve their plasma carbines, and grenades. Damari was equipped with a Plasma Lance. They then marched to the landing pad. As they approached they were greeted by a spotter drone.
“Good morning Kilo Squad,” said the drone, it’s voice was precise and mechanical.
“Morning Zima,” grinned Zephor, “You ready for a hike?”
“Affirmative.” Aesgir ordered them to mount up, but stopped Jeanne before she stepped into the troop compartment.
“Hold up a moment,” she said.
“Yes?” asked Jeanne, her stomach clenched.
“Are you good? ” questioned the SL, her blue eyes staring into Jeanne’s purple.
“Yeah. I just don’t feel like I fit in with the rest of them,” admitted Jeanne. To her surprise, Aesgir grinned.
“That’s normal. Don’t take it personally. They’re still getting over Lakan leaving. Damari likes to pretend he’s the biggest baddest motherfucker in the galaxy, but he’s really nice once you get to know him.”
“What happened to Lakan?”
“He got a medical discharge. Seizures.”
“Don’t worry about them, we’re a team. I would put my life in their hands in any situation. They’re good troopers.”
“A-a-alright,” stammered Jeanne.
“You’ll be fine.” Aesgir slapped her shoulder, “Mount up!”