Five figures dropped from the low flying craft. As soon as they cleared the darkened drop bay, the ship peeled off, making for the upper atmosphere. Anti-craft missiles traced after it, but its engines burned hot and managed to escape to the vacuum. Not meant for space travel, the missiles burned out and exploded, covering the craft’s escape.
The five figures freefell for as long as they dared, waiting for the explosion of the missiles far overhead to activate their rocket packs for short, powerful bursts. The sensors of the enemy would be so focused on the heat overhead they would hopefully miss those of the SADER squad that had slipped behind their lines.
Far above the surface of the planet, Clarisse Halling stood in an observation bay of the command dreadnought, the Decartes. She saw the dropship return to the hangar. Moving her gaze and fingers to the screen on her wrist, she quickly hacked the ship’s records, removing evidence that the ship had even entered the planet’s atmosphere. As far as the Advanced War Commission, ADWARCOMM, was concerned, the SADER dropship had simply been testing an engine modification, a fairly routine thing for the mod-happy mechanics that serviced the vessels.
Her tracks covered, Clarisse brushed a stray hair back into her ponytail. Lucky Squad had made it safely to Targus-4. Now it was up to them.
The leader of Aleph Squad, her personal bodyguards, moved to her side, his helmet at his side. His four companions stood behind her, watching the entrances to the room with never-failing vigilance.
“Ma’am? Is something wrong?” The man’s—young man’s—name was Kyle. His last was that of his squad. Kyle Aleph.
Clarisse, for all intents and purposes Kyle’s mother, shook her head slightly.
Kyle, sensing her need to be alone with her thoughts, dipped his head and stepped back, but she turned with his movement.
After studying him for a moment, she gestured to the planet. “Lucky Squad was inserted only minutes ago. As you know, that is violation of the standing orders of SPECF.”
He didn’t respond. He, like most SADERs, trusted Clarisse’s judgment over that of her superiors in the ranks of ADWARCOMM.
She continued. “But those orders are unnecessary. Why would anyone want to attempt to attack the guerilla camp? They have no dangerous tech, no off-planet transport, no political or media support…so someone is hiding something. Lucky Squad will find out what.”
Clarisse’s wrist-computer beeped. A summons to the command bridge. She acknowledged, even though the officer-in-charge of the Descartes was in no respect her superior. He would not have called her if there wasn’t a good reason.
Aleph Squad fell in, three in front, two behind, guiding and guarding Clarisse Halling, mastermind of the Lifetime Project, to the command bridge deep in the center of the ship.