The Natural Order, Part One

Written by Derrick Nadeau

“At ease soldiers,” Staff Sargent Riley said, addressing the squad of soldiers standing at attention in the briefing room before him.  “Take your seats and pay attention.”  As the squad quickly and quietly sat down, Staff Sargent Riley activated the computer terminal in front of him, bringing up an image of an earth-like planet on the large view-screen behind him.  Riley cleared his throat, and continued speaking to the squad.  “This planet is called Paxterra.  It is a newly discovered Earth-type planet that is approximately thirty light-years from Earth.  A small, scientific outpost has been built on this planet for the purposes of studying it for possible future colonization.  As you no doubt are aware, every scientific outpost is also populated with an army unit that is tasked with the protection of the scientists inhabiting the outpost.

Staff Sargent Riley paused briefly as he changed the image on the large view-screen to show an aerial view of a science outpost.  “This is an image of the outpost shorty after it was constructed taking by a satellite orbiting the planet.

Riley paused again as he changed the screen image to show another aerial view of the outpost.  In this picture, the outpost was  heavily damaged, with large plumes of smoke pouring out of several of the buildings.  “This is an image of the outpost taken by that same satellite approximately three weeks ago.  Though we are unsure the exact cause of the destruction seen here, we believe that the outpost was attacked.  Two days before this satellite image was taken, we intercepted this communication from the outpost.

Staff Sargent Riley turned to face the view-screen as the video image of a woman dressed in a white lab-coat appeared.  The woman appeared to be in her thirties, with short, black hair, and glasses.  A moment later, the  video activated, and the woman began to speak in a frantic tone.  “This is Doctor Eileen Stone at science outpost 12 on the planet Paxterra.  If there is any military unit out ther that can hear this message, we are currently under attack and need assistance!  I repeat we are under attack and need assistance!  Please!  We need-“

The video ended abruptly, cutting Doctor Stone off in mid-sentence as the video froze, then switched to a message that read, “signal lost”. Staff Sargent Riley turned off the view-screen, then turned back to address his soldiers, many of whom were whispering to each other quietly.

“This abbreviated message,” Riley stated, “along with the accompanying satellite image of the damaged outpost, is all of the information we have for this mission.  We have no intel on the nature of the attack on Outpost Twelve, nor do we have any intel on the identity of the attacker or the motive behind the attack.  Immediately after intercepting this message approximately sixty hours ago, a report was sent to Earth command, and the order was given for this unit to investigate the outpost on Paxterra, determine what occurred there, and, if necessary, eliminate any threat that is discovered there.  Upon reaching Paxterra and entering orbit around the planet, you will shuttle down to the planet surface.  The mission will be begin with a recon of the outpost and its surrounding area to determine the condition of the outpost.  Once the shuttle crew determines it is safe, you will land on the shuttle pad constructed adjacent to the outpost.  Once you land, Brawn team will deploy first to secure the outpost, and reactivate the generators if they have been damaged.  Once secured, Brain team will deploy and begin their investigation.  Learn everything you can about the outpost and the incident that damaged said outpost and report back to me for debriefing.  Are there any questions about this mission?”

“I have one question, Sir,” Private Richards said, standing up to address the Staff Sargent.  “What do we know about this Doctor Stone who sent out the distress call?”

“Doctor Stone is a member of the Xeno-biologist team on Outpost Twelve.  She and her team work directly under their team leader, Doctor Melissa Nichols.  It is unclear the current status of Doctor Nichols, or the rest of her team.  Are there any other questions?” Riley paused and took a quick glance around the room, giving each soldier a chance to speak up.  When no other question had been asked, Riley dismissed the squad, telling them to be ready to depart in five hours.

“That was a good question you asked there, Dave,” Private Dwyer said with a wry smile.  “Leave it to you to focus on the hot scientist there.  We all know where your priorities are, don’t we?”

“Funny Erick,” Private Richards replied, jabbing his elbow into Erick’s arm.  “I thought it was a good question that might yeild some important information about our mission.”

“Listen to you talking like an egghead,” Dwyer laughed.  “yield important information?  Right!  Admit it, you’re hoping to go down there and rescue that scientist and hope that she falls madly in love with you.”

“You are such and ass,” Richards exclaimed, shaking his head in disgust.  “You truly have the mind of a savage.  All you can think about is killing and sex.”

“Hey, that’s not fair,” Dwyer shouted, feigning indignation.  “I think about food a lot too!”

“Whatever man,” Richards said, turning away from Dwyer.  “Why don’t you just go get ready for the mission.  We don’t have time for your ballbusting.”

“Fine,” Dwyer said, throwing his hands up in a gesture of frustration.  “You eggheads on the ‘Brain’ team have no sense of humor.  You know that man, no sense of humor at all.  Maybe I’ll be the one to rescue Doc Stone there, and maybe I’ll be the one she falls for.  How does that sound to you?”

“Is there a problem here Private,” Staff Sargent Riley asked as he approached Dwyer.

“No Sir,” Dwyer replied, snapping to attention and saluting his commanding officer.  “No problem at all.  Private Richards and I were just having conversation regarding the mission, Sir.”

“Good to hear,” Riley stated.  “Then you should be well prepared for the coming mission.  You had better go and gather up your gear then, and prepare for departure in five hours.”

“Yes Sir,” Dwyer said, saluting again before turning away from Staff Sargent Riley and exiting the briefing room.

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