Unification Day, August 14th, 94 ALT
"Most sane men would be out drinking right now, General." The Colonel stood out on a balcony, the openness of space being kept back only by a dome of transparent metal. It was a gorgeous view... or would be, if not for the ships and stations that surrounded the planet. They were all in various stages of decay and destruction, the planet still reeling from the Invasion. The Earth itself was still dark, the ash and smoke floating in ominous clouds. Scientists said it'd settle in a few more months, though it'd continue to cause health problems for some time more.
"Most would, aye." General Talos came up beside her, peering down on the planet. "We should be celebrating, celebrating the day we came together as a species to better ourselves and commit ourselves not to die on this little planet."
"Lot of people thinking we should have stayed on this little planet."
"It'll pass." Talos turned, motioning for the Colonel to follow. "You've seen your ship?"
"The Kestrel, aye. She'll be a fine ship, when she's finished."
"State of the art weapons, computer systems, and long-range sustainability." The General smiled to himself, the two stepping into an elevator. "More importantly, though, small enough to evade attention. Your FTL signature will only last a few hours before dissipating. Slippery enough for the cargo you need to carry."
"Of course sir."
"Not very talkative today, I see." The General raised an eyebrow. "You sure you don't need a drink?"
"Drinking doesn't solve my problems sir."
"Spoil sport." The two left the elevator, heading towards a conference room. "What happened to the Lt. Colonel I knew, the one who'd drink men under the table?"
"I visited Mexico City sir."
"I see." The General dropped the conversation, a door hissing open to reveal a long table, and a motly mix of officers present. They all stood at attention, the General nodding and directing the Colonel's attention. "Your command officers, Colonel. Lt. Colonel Sophie Chastain, though I hear you've already met."
"We've known each other a while, yes."
"Major William Daniels." Talos motioned at the man. "Former member of the Archangel crew, weapons specialist. Held out valiantly during the Invasion, took down at least twenty Mantis bombers."
"The ship did most of the work, sirs." the man replied with a grin.
"Mm." The General motioned at a pink-haired woman. "Major Estelle Walker, your flight commander. Shot down over the Nile and crashed outside of Cairo, took plenty of the bugs out before she did though."
The woman also smiled, extending a hand. "It's a pleasure ma'am."
The Colonel shook it, then looked further down the table. "Harken, I see you could join us."
"Ah, yes, your sargent. Staff Sargent Kenshin Harken, protected the governor of Gaia until an evac could be made. Doesn't look like much by himself, but he's got himself a suit of power armor that can tear Mantis in two."
"So you're my command staff." Ojeda gave the group a sweeping look, then settled down in a chair. "Well, you best know what you're getting into. You've all seen the Kestrel; she's going be under construction for the better part of a year. Her mission, is to carry vital and sensitive cargo and information to the Zoltan Homeworlds. You all know the intelligence reports, the Mantis manufacturing capabilities far outstrip our own. Without a superweapon on our side, we will be overrun both in troops and armor."
"So what's the superweapon?" Daniels asked.
"I don't know." The Colonel gave a faint smile. "Not sure General Talos even knows. All I know is that with Zoltan science, our cargo will turn the war around. It'll be a long trip, across alien and unchartered space. The risk of failure is high, but we're soldiers, we don't care. Our job is to make this work. First order of business, logistics. Major Walker, I'll need you to monitor..."
Ojeda watched Chastain's silence carefully, deciding that she might have pushed the wrong button. "Punching bag's set up in the rec room. Work it off."