Hartford Military Base
New Star, Mars Colony
1115 hrs Local Time
Captain Gardner allowed the others to walk by before tapping the Corporal on the shoulder as he walked by, indicating to walk with him just out of earshot of the new bloods while keeping them in sight. “Bit heavy back there, don’t you think?” Corporal Renser shrugged, pulling out a toothpick and putting it between his teeth, chewing it a little before replying, any attempt at hiding his accent gone.
“Perhaps a wee bit, but if it means I’m not rubbin’ me blarney stone every ten minutes that we all make it home, I’d do it again. Let the gal resent me a bit, she wouldn’t be the first and I doubt she’ll be the last. Though, I have some concerns about Private Devries. I think she’s spent a wee too much time in the dating sims.” Trent shook his head and sighed.
“I’ll...have to look into it. But for that first bit, you Irish are a strange lot, you know that?” The only response as they walked up the ramp onto the skimmer was a chuckle from the Corporal as he took his seat near the exit. Meanwhile, the Captain stood before the seat nearest the cockpit and looked over his squad. “Alright, we’re looking at about a ten minute flight to the USS Bronzebeard. From there, the time is yours to spend as you see fit. Well mostly.” As the Holy Mackerel
rumbled from take off, the captain stayed standing. “There’s a couple of team exercises planned to get used used to first working as a squad and second as a part of a larger force in preparation for the attack, which will take place near the end of the trip so the drills are fresh in our minds.”
Finally sitting, the Captain secures himself as the ship begins shaking from breaking atmosphere and heading into orbit, where the USS Bronzebeard is waiting for them. “That’s all I have for you for now, so once we’ve gotten you situated, as I said, the time is yours.”
Orbit around Mars
1622 Shipboard Time
The trip to the Bronzebeard certainly proved to be quick, and landing was so smooth, none of the new recruits knew they had reached their hangar until the Mackerel
’s loading ramp opened, with the Corporal down first. During combat, his job would be to ensure that their skimmer isn’t rushed during insertion, but right now, he was simply to guide the new bloods to their line-up position. Once everyone was in position, the Captain stood just in front of them at their right with the Corporal standing behind him. Several other squads were lined up similarly, though there was much more variation to them than to Ox Squad, several containing MEC troopers and even the shimmering advanced concealment cloaks of Strikers. There was no sound after everyone lined up, just stretching silence.
After what would have felt like an eternity, three figures walked out of a door on the other end of the hangar, towards the depths of the Super Heavy War-Cruiser. Two were clearly armored up in the Praetorian armor of the personal guards of Military Command while the third bore the military uniform of none other than Brigadier General Joseph Hartman, who had led the purging of the Europa Chrysalid hives from the frontlines no more than six years prior. Standing on a podium that had risen up in the center of the hangar, his glowing red cybernetic eye unflinching. “Ladies and Gentlemen of the XCOM Initiative, my fellow soldiers. Today marks the first time we’ve actively sought conflict with the Alien Hive Mind led by the Ethereals since they first touched down on Earth, over sixty years ago. Their technology and unfamiliar physiology gave them an early edge on the standard militaries of the world, but the UN and its allies had foreseen this possibility and created a task force specifically to counter any extraterrestrial threat, founded in the form of XCOM. Using ambush and guerilla combat tactics, the Commander single handedly turned a losing war into the greatest victory humanity has ever seen against any foe. It was because of XCOM’s R&D that we were eventually able to turn the tools and technology of the aliens against them and even the playing field, first through improved energy dispersion armor and laser weaponry and then through full Ostryx armor and plasma weaponry. Needless to say, XCOM was the foundation of victory for us.
But that victory did not come without its price, as the memorials show. Not to mention, thirty years ago, after the end of the War, Germany and the United States shut their borders to the rest of the world in response to the revelation that the enemy had been using mind control on their people to get results that cost an unnecessary loss of life. Germany has since rejoined the world at large and the United Earth Government in recent years and now we are prepared to launch our first real counter attack in nearly half a century. Among the long-time squads that are here today is a batch of new bloods,” at this point he points to Ox Squad, everyone’s eyes following his indication, “in Ox Squad, who’s job will be to take on and either contain or eliminate the Ethereal waiting for us on Arthan-3. Everyone else is to secure the stronghold and support them. Now, the UEG regulars don’t know that and we’re going to keep it that way. Far as they know, everyone has objectives that line up.” He looked over each and every squad assembled in the hangar before nodding. “For Humanity! Dismissed!”
And with that one word, the hangar became a flurry of activity as the squads gathered up their gear and split off down different doors heading into the War-Cruiser’s interior. Captain Gardner led his squad through a door on the right side of the hangar and down a series of halls that seemed to take them down lower before reaching a door with the head of an Ox painted on it as two other XCOM squads entered doors further away from them on either side, talking and laughing with each other. The path to their barracks and back to the hangar had been easy for the group to memorize and as they walked in, it wouldn’t be surprising if they decided to keep to themselves in their barracks, as it was most definitely one of the most advanced setups any of the newer recruits would have ever seen. “Welcome to Ox Squads barracks here on the Bronzebeard. Like I said, we do have independent facilities here, as you can see, but at least TRY to play nice with the UEG regulars. They’re what make up the bulk of our forces after all. Go ahead and get comfy, dismissed.” The Corporal was already on his way to a small section clearly intended for the squad's SIC and the Captain headed for the only other REAL closed door besides the showers and restrooms and opened it up, revealing an office.
The door closed behind him and Damian was content to set to cleaning his revolvers once his gear was stowed away, which left the others to do what they liked, including checking out the training and PT areas, the mess hall they had and the shooting range. After a few minutes, the Captain came out. “Specialist Weisser, a word before you get too deep into exploration.” He went back into his office and waited until she had come in and the door closed before speaking.
“Alright, Specialist. I know the Corporal gave you quite the roasting, so you have my permission to speak freely on the matter. Nothing you say to me will leave this room and I will not reprimand you for any of it. It wasn’t hard to see how that left you...unhappy and I need your mind clear for the upcoming mission.”