|Film/Image Credit goes to 'Roughnecks: Starship Trooper Chronicles'|
The sensation of intraplanetary travel always made Coughlin's guts clench.
Everyone was strapped in to their seats and they were traveling at a hard 40 degree angle as the dropship rocketed upwards. Ignoring the concept of 'the quickest way from point A to point B is a straight line', the path was designed to create a great bell curve that went up and came back down over the small continent known as Han'ei. It cut travel time down by ninety percent and turned what could be a twelve hour flight into a one hour one.
In exchange, they got to be plastered into their seats in the equivalent of being strapped to an intercontinental missile.
They got used to it however.
All around her, Coughlin's squad was busy preparing.
Most everyone seemed to be doing something. A lot of it was little more than pre-game ritual. Afterall, a lot of the combat gear had been double checked before they even dispatched to the training ground for just such a potentiality. Even then, the team had immediately started field checking the equipment while they'd waited for the dropship.
Now it was little more than nervous habits.
"Brick", as everyone referred to Specialist Warfield from Bullocks' team, was counting out boom-tube grenades and muttering to himself. Next to him, Bullock's Rifleman Private Greer was quietly running her combat knife along a whetstone. Across the hall, Specialist Xi was rummaging through her medic's bag.
Technically all of it was against safety protocol, but Coughlin trusted them enough to not give them shit about it.
Most of them chattered with each other or went about reading the mission debrief. A few others, namely Specialist Dixon and Private Gorman, had simply laid their heads back against the chairs and passed out due to not having anything to occupy their minds.
Coughlin, on the other hand, read.
According to the dossier on the dimly lit screen, they were on their way to the eastern coast of Han'ei where a life pod struck surface a few hours ago. It was one of roughly a dozen ships that came down across the planet. While there was no response to initial hailing, automatic metadata claimed the ship had been dispatched from a science mega-cruiser owned by the Notori Corporation called the 'Icarus'.
Coughlin couldn't help but scoff at that name. Bad luck to name a ship that.
She kept reading.
The metadata also confirmed that some catastrophic event had occurred on board the Icarus of a 'Code 25436'; a proprietary company code that meant nothing to her. This led to an involuntary evacuation of all crew members. After traveling for over a month, it landed on autopilot just outside the coastal town of 'Calenburg'.
Her squad was to secure the ship, provide aid as necessary, and take any survivors to the closest base for medical care, debriefing, and relocation services.
In short, it was a cake walk.
"Yo Staff Sergeant." Private Nunez called. "What's the sitrep?"
"You didn't hear?" Cooper interjected quickly. "Your mother stopped by. We need full deployment just to move her fat ass."
A couple of the squad chuckled but Private Greer leaned forward, her features stone in the red light of the dropship.
"Seriously, Sarge." she said, being one of the only ones that didn't call her by her full title. "What's the deal?"
Cooper looked like he was about to say something else, but Greer glanced over at Private Mikhailov who promptly placed a hand over his mouth. He didn't fight back; it was all in good fun after all.
Also, Mikhailov had already proven she had no problem in knocking the wind out of him for being a smart ass.
"Looks like we're touching down about twenty clicks outside of a little coast town on the small continent. Standard rescue op. Pick up some civvies for a life raft, get em back for cocoa, call it a night."
Greer shrugged a little, but Bullock, sitting next to the Rifleman, narrowed his eyes a little as if judging Coughlin.
"You sure about that, Staff Sergeant?"
"Why wouldn't I be sure?"
He gave her that same questioning look and it was then that she noticed he had a screen pulled up as well. She reviewed the document before her again but saw nothing to the contrary.
There was a flashing circular arrow in the very bottom right of the screen.
She updated the document and, lo and behold, there was more information then when the flight began. Except now, the bottom text was bright red and highlighted.
NOTICE! CLASSIFIED INFORMATION!
INFORMATION PROVIDED BY NOTORI CORPORATION.
THIS INFORMATION ARE CLASSIFIED AND INTENDED SOLELY FOR DESIGNATED SQUAD LEADER AND IS ONLY TO BE SHARED BY IMPERATIVE IN THE INSTANCE IT EFFECTS THE LIKELIHOOD OF SQUAD SURVIVAL. THIS INFORMATION IS NOT TO BE SHARED, COPIED, OR DISTRIBUTED IN ANY CAPACITY. FAILURE TO ADHERE TO THIS WILL RESULT IN IMMEDIATE TERMINATION, COURT MARSHALL, AND/OR FIELD EXECUTION.
Coughlin's eyes widened at that last part.
She had certainly been on confidential missions before. It was nothing really new for most people in the military and sometimes you were exposed to weird or different shit that wasn't even supposed to exist.
But she couldn't think of anytime she'd ever seen a document refer to field executions.
She glanced up wearily at Bullock and could tell he was stonefaced, his focus on the ill-begotten document that he wasn't supposed to be reading. The soldiers all got watered down versions of her own dossier, but Bullock's technical aptitude tended to let him 'look over her shoulder' so to speak in exchange that he got to act as second in command and know that, if he ever shared unnecessary secrets, she'd castrate him with a rusty bayonet.
She went back to the update.
THE NOTORI CORPORATION HAS IDENTIFIED POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS ORGANISMS MAY BE PRESENT AT THE LANDING SITE. THEY ARE UNKNOWN IN NATURE AND ALIEN IN ORIGIN. COMBAT CAPABILITIES ARE ALSO UNKNOWN HOWEVER CREATURES HAVE A RECOGNIZED AGGRESSIVE NATURE. LARGE POSSIBILITY OF BIOLOGICAL CONTAGION FROM DIRECT CONTACT WITH SPECIMENS. USE ALL CAUTION TO AVOID EXPOSURE TO ALIEN CONTAMINANTS.
Coughlin let out a long sigh.
"Well this is gonna be fun." she said flatly as she felt the nose of the ship dip forward into descent back towards the planet's surface.