Year 2502 aboard the Tesla Super Stealth Carrier HFAX Silent Night in warp space to enemy-occupied Odeus 5.
I stood outside the main operations room of the Silent Night. I heard a commotion and decided to wait at the door to observe my squad using the interior cameras through my implant. It appears my squad might finally be bonding today. A tall Human man with brown hair and green eyes dressed in a skin-tight red Marine Force Recon Nano undersuit seemed to be pleading his case.
“Listen, I’m telling you, Hephaestus, the Elunari are practically space elves. They have pointed ears and everything!”
A large, well-built Filipino man with short black hair, caramel skin, and piercing hazel eyes stared listlessly at the complaining man. He lounged around in a green tank top, with muscles practically bursting out from the thin cotton.
He nonchalantly answers his new comrade while lazily slapping his legs on top of a desk. “Zeus… beyond the pointed ears, what do the Elunari share with any fantasy elf? I mean, their skin is bright pink along with their blue-shaded hair. Whatever cocktails Doctor Octario is dishing out to you, she needs to bring the dosage down a bit because you are trippin’, my friend.”
A supermodel of a man with his perfectly gelled blonde hair and deep blue eyes wearing a graphic tee reading “I’m the medic” next to a tiny heart on it makes an off-hand comment.
“I suppose if someone squinted hard enough, they could see how the Elunari could be considered the elegant space version of Elves.”
“See, Heph! Apollo agrees with me!”
A tall Native American Woman with long flowing black hair and bright brown eyes scoffs. “Those weren't words of agreement, kid.”
“Who are you calling a kid, Artemis!? I'm the oldest one here!” voiced Zeus, his face getting redder by the second.
A Human man with brown hair and blue eyes, wearing a dark blue Naval Intelligence Nano undersuit, chimes in with his French accent. “I believe the saying goes, ‘Maturity comes with experience, not age,’ Zeus."
“Marcel— crap… I mean Nike! You are supposed to be on my side here, man!”
“I don’t recall picking any side, Zeus. We are all on the same side after all,” Nike responded with a devilish smile.
It appears things are not going as well as I thought they were. I should stop things right now before we derail any further. I placed my hand on the bio scanner, and the door slid open with a pressurized hiss. The room was rather large for only six occupants. The lecture-style seating could fit at least three hundred Humans comfortably. I stepped to the front pedestal and activated it, instantly pulling up many images of a lush green planet. Hephaestus, seeing me upon entering, stands at attention and calls out to the room with a booming voice.
“ATTENTION!” Upon hearing the call, all six people in the room stand and salute.
“At ease, everybody. I’m glad to see everybody getting along. But space elves or not, I hope you understand we are fighting the Elunari and their little Xeno council. Lest you forget, they would have had the entire Human race sterilized twenty standard years ago.”
Humanity had made contact with the first Xeno race hundreds of years ago. At first, relationships were stagnant. As a species, we were kept at arms and sometimes tentacles length away.
We were refused joint research projects for years, citing many problems. Warp jump technology was kept away from us as the aliens moved behind the scenes. Soon after, we were labeled a Deathworld species due to our planet's “harsh” environment. It had started a cold war, Humanity versus everyone else. They were afraid of us, and rightfully so.
“Yes, sir, of course, it was just banter amongst comrades. I would never fraternize with the enemy, sir.” Zeus responded. His face was now red from embarrassment rather than anger.
“I understand. Now then, let us make this official and begin. With the passing of Commando Hypnos and Commando Demeter, I would like to welcome Commando Nike and Commando Zeus to Hades Squad. Although it seems you have introduced yourself, Zeus, for the record, please reintroduce yourself.”
“Yes, sir! My name is Michael Andrews designation, Zeus. I was born and raised in New Nevada's colony world, and I am twenty-six standard years old. I joined the Marines in my teens, where I then trained to join Marine Force Recon. I was then recruited to the God program on Mars. I graduated top of my class, and I am part of the second batch of Gen 3 Death Commandos. And uhh… I am also an explosives expert. Thank you, sir!.”
“Thank you, Zeus, and welcome to Hades Squad. Nike?”
“Sir! My name was Marcel Edwards, designation Nike. I was born on Earth, and I'm twenty-five standard years old. I was part of Naval Intelligence and was offered to join the God program. I accepted and promptly graduated. I specialize in Xeno communications and technology, specifically counteracting or adapting to them.”
“Thank you, everyone. Please take your seats. On behalf of Hades Squad, I would like to welcome both of you officially. May you serve Humanity until your final breaths. Now then, let us begin.” I sent them the mission outline over our closed communication implants.
“In forty-eight hours, we will be dropping out of warp above Odeus 5. The planet is currently contested. The Navy has engaged the enemy in space along with Marine and Penal Squads on the ground. Naval Intelligence has intel on an Elunari facility they want us to secure. We will be dropping four hundred miles away from the site, where we will have to make our way on foot through the forest to rendezvous with a Marine Force Recon Squad. We will reach the facility by nightfall the same day. We expect little to no defenses en route as the battle lines are nowhere close to the facility yet. According to our intel, the facility should also be lightly guarded.”
“Sir, question. If this facility is so under-protected, why can’t the Marines handle it?” Apollo questioned.
“Naval intelligence believes this might be one of the first Elunari black sites, so they want the facility intact and all data to be secured by us.”
Apollo gave a nod of understanding as Zeus inquired with a concerned look on his face. “Uh sir, how are we supposed to cross four hundred miles of forest on foot in like… eight hours?”
“Well, Zeus, that's easy. We run, of course,” I said casually.
“Yes, sir, of course…. we just run.” Zeus had the look of a dead man as he simply nodded to my answer with a far-off look in his eyes.
It seems the Gen 3s aren’t used to their new bodies yet. I’ve read the notes, but they were lacking in substance and detail for some reason. Their augmentations are nowhere near mine or the Gen 2s, so I wonder what the purpose of these new soldiers is?
“Any details on Odeus 5, the situation on the ground and orbit, and the mission are present in packets that I have sent to your implants. After that, Zeus and Nike make sure you head to requisitions and gather your new under suits and gear for the mission.”
“Yes, sir!” they replied in unison.
“Other than that, free time is allocated to you until we exit warp jump. You are all dismissed.”
I walked back into the hallway to head back to my room to prepare, but I could hear somebody approaching me from behind. She always moves so silently. Without my augmentations and implants, I doubt I'd ever be able to hear her coming.
I turned and looked at the young woman. She was short for a second-generation Death Commando, her jet black hair and eyes so brown they might as well be black. Her dark appearance contrasted against her pale skin. She rarely spoke to anyone besides the recently departed Hypnos or me. I was curious about what she wanted from me.
“Yes, Commando Nyx?”
She gave me a smile that didn’t quite reach her eyes. “I’ll never be able to sneak up on you, Commander Kronos, huh?” she said playfully.
“I’m afraid not anytime soon, Nyx. Do you have a question about the mission?” I asked curiously.
"No, sir. Permission to speak freely?”
This is uncharacteristic of Nyx. All the second generations seem to have some form of quirk or a distinct personality trait. I didn’t mind that about them at all, it made them easier to understand, yet it was difficult for me when they deviated from their normal patterns.
“Sure. Perhaps we should take a little walk?” I suggested.
She nodded. “Of course, Commander.”
I turned around and slowed my gait to match her. Being over a foot taller than her made walking next to her difficult in these tight hallways. Currently, it was technically night on the ship. Most of the regs were sleeping since we were in warp.
Only the engineers and navigators needed to be awake to keep the ship running, so the hallways were empty. Everybody who wasn’t essential was trying to squeeze the most amount of sleep they could out of what little time they had left. After some time, I inquired about Nyx’s concerns.
“So what is on your mind, Commando?”
“It’s the Generation 3 Commandos, sir. I don’t like them…” she had a complicated look on her face. Nyx rarely showed any kind of emotion and seemed to me that she belonged to the first generation despite being a Gen 2.
“I mean, Nike seems okay… but Zeus bothers me. They are essentially just souped-up regs?” she asked boldly.
Uncharacteristic indeed. Like me, most of the Gen 2 had suppressed and altered emotions. For Nyx to speak out like this, something must have caught her attention that I missed. Perhaps she was onto something, though.
These 3rd Generation Commandos were fundamentally different from myself and the second generation. They are regular humans who have already lived most of their adult lives before becoming Death Commandos. They weren't raised for war like the second generation or created for war like I was. I could see how their personalities and world views would clash. However, I was ordered to make this work.
And make it work, I shall.
“Your concerns are noted, Commando, but my hands are tied. You should attempt to get along with the new generation. You will most likely be seeing and working with many more of them in the near future. After all, the 3rd generation will double the number of your second generation and nearly quadruple that of my first generation. I understand they are no replacement for Hypnos and Demeter, but orders are orders.”
Nyx winced at the mention of Hypnos. She was close to the former stealth specialist. I suppose they might have been closer than I expected.
“That’s not what I mea—….Sorry, sir. I understand. Thank you for your time.” She cut herself off mid-sentence and seemed… frustrated?
Nyx promptly gave me a crisp salute and walked down an adjoining hallway. I didn’t mind the abrupt ending to our conversation. I did give her permission to speak freely, after all. I guess I'll just never understand her completely.