Peyton, Elizabeth, and John had made it home safely, in an empty room. It was nighttime and Peyton was busy setting up the holocubes while Elizabeth tried to calm an excited John.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea to put these in the Guestroom.” Elizabeth said.
“It’s perfect!” Peyton said, “No-one ever uses this room.”
“Peyton,” Elizabeth said, “This room is used almost every holiday.”
“Elizabeth,” Peyton said, “It’s going to be a holoroom. They can have any room they want.”
“That’s the beauty of it!” John declared, waving his fists in the air.
“Sleep talking,” Elizabeth pointed out, “People talk in their sleep. How would you like to suddenly be in the water with a shark above you, wondering what the hell happened? It’s happened you know.”
“You believe everything,” Peyton whispered to himself, “Then they can use another room. Besides, where else are we going to set this up?” he said, placing the last cube, “Done. There you go my little doppelganger wannabe.”
“Peyton.” Elizabeth whispered angrily.
Just then came the sound of a doorbell. Peyton and Elizabeth went to open the door only to see two men, Myrmidons, and a shuttle on their front lawn, waiting. “Sgt., please come with us right away.” one said.
“Why? What happened?” Elizabeth asked.
“Relax,” Peyton assured, getting between the men and Elizabeth. “I’m sure it’s nothing. Probably has to do with earlier.”
“The Maj. sent us.” A soldier said.
“Maj.? Maj. Tom?” Peyton asked, looking at his wife, “See, nothing?”
Elizabeth watched as Peyton entered the shuttle and take off into the night sky.
“So no idea what the Maj. wants?” Peyton asked.
Both soldiers shook their heads.
“I guess we’ll just have to wait until we get there,” Peyton said, then, noticing a big starship he had never seen before. “Is that the new unity-class?” he asked.
One of the soldiers looked at Peyton and nodded his head, “That’s where the Maj. is. That’s where we’re taking you.” he said.
The shuttle landed in one of the bays. Peyton followed the soldiers, there was a short tram ride involved, to the Maj’s office, “Please, enter at your discretion, sir.” one said.
Peyton entered and there he was at his desk, Maj. David Peter Thomas; a strong, slightly older man with a shaved head, brown eyes, and inactive nodes. He had a medium, slender build.
“Sir, I hope I’m not dis…” Peyton began, as he started saluting.
“Nonsense,” the Maj. interrupted, as he came around his desk and gave the Sgt. a big hug, “Peyton! I’m glad to see you.”
“Sir?” Peyton said.
The Maj. sat on his desk, “Peyton, please, I’ve told you before it’s just David when we’re alone. We’ve known each other too long for these formalities. Drop it. Relax!”
Peyton eased up and had a seat, “How’s Jane?” he asked.
“The wife?” David repeated, “Ok I suppose. She’s asked about you? Happy you’re the one going on this assignment?”
“What assignment?” Peyton asked.
“Pickup,” David said, “We got a signal from Zera IV last night. I’ll tell you more in briefing. So you’re a Sgt. stuck behind a desk, and I’ve got just the thing to get you out.”
“Pickup sounds like a one-man job.” Peyton said.
David held out a hand, “Wait, wait, wait, you’re not alone on this one. We’re going to get you a small team, including you makes four. Let’s see, who do we start with?”
Corporal (Cpl.) Samantha Stevens was in the gym trying to work up a sweat. From an Earth colony on Massama III, she’s a young, tall girl with short, spiky, brown hair and blue eyes - she was best in her class for close quarters combat (CQC) and got a perfect score. As such, she wore the CQC variation of the suit and favored SMGs or shotguns for what she considered her duty. She went to the locker room for a shower and change.
In her room, writing in her diary, Lance Corporal (LCpl.) Jenny Nguyen was inputting her latest entry. Whatever it was it made her laugh. She was a young, short girl from Southeast Asia with green eyes. Her black, straight hair was pulled back in a ponytail. As a medic, she graduated at the top of her class in medical school. Her suit, the medical (MED) variant, had a big red cross painted in the middle to show she was medic. She had a few light weapons, but mostly medical tools and equipment.
Jenny looked at the time on the wall and jumped from her bed, fixing her uniform as she ran out the door. After a brief run in the corridor, she ran into the recreation room or rec room and stood near one of the doorways. There were quite a few Myrmidons around playing various games or just relaxing.
Sitting on a couch, laughing and watching TV, was Private First Class (PFC.) Anthony Azande from Feron III, but his parents are originally from somewhere in the Africa region - a young man with a medium, slender build, short, black hair and brown eyes. He went through sniper school and just finished demolition school. As a demolitionist, he liked the DMO variation of the suit with a nice sniper rifle, among other weapons and a lot of explosives.
“C’mon, Anthony we’re gonna be late for debriefing,” Jenny said, looking at what Anthony was watching, “Isn’t that a very old rerun?” she asked.
“Yup, centuries old,” Anthony replied, “It’s based on that game. They made a movie in the twenty-first century that bombed. I thought it was so-so.”
“Still rooting for the same color?” Jenny asked.
“As always,” Anthony said, getting up.
“Let’s go meet your team,” David said to Peyton. He led the way as Peyton looked around at its numerous facilities, “Beauty, isn’t she?”
Peyton didn’t hear David, he was in too much awe, “Sorry, what was that?” Peyton said.
David laughed lightly, “Watch your step.” he said, entering a tram.
At the briefing room, Peyton had a seat, followed by Samantha. Jenny and Anthony arrived a short while later and sat.
“Ladies and gentleman,” David began, “First, allow me to welcome you to the S.S Unity. Called so because she was designed to unite with other ships in the fleet and make a bigger one.”
Ships of the UEC began to slowly dock with the Unity from back to front, largest to smallest, making a larger one with rough edges. No one in any of the ships could feel anything. It was a seamless process that only took a few minutes. Numerous airlocks connected the ships.
“She’s completely mobile,” David continued, “With her current load out. The Unity will be over twenty thousand feet long, over three thousand feet in width, and over four thousand feet in height. It varies. Even connected, Unity can still fire her apocalypse and kinetic cannons, and more countermeasures than I can count. She has her own fighter wings and graviton drive. Any ship docked can still fire their weapons or launch whatever, depending on how they’re connected. Unity’s one of four ships. Each ship is to protect a vital area of human space. Unity’s is to protect Earth and its nearby space. Second, I want you to meet the Unity’s artificial intelligence.”
A holographic woman in uniform suddenly digitized or materialized next to David. She appeared young, had a medium build, straight, brown, neck length hair, and light blue eyes. “Hello, Maj., everyone.” she said. She looked and moved like a human and picked up a stick off the table. She whipped her opposite palm with the stick and didn’t even wince in pain, “I am officially designated artificial mobile intelligence seventy-nine hundred. You can call me Amy.”
Jenny raised her hand until Amy called her, “You mean Ami, right? she asked.
“Amy.” she said.
“Ami?” Jenny asked.
“Amy,” she corrected.
“Anyway,” David said, “Amy will explain our mission.”
Amy explained, “We are headed to Zera IV. We got signal late yesterday.”
A holographic picture of a woman’s head sprouted up from the floor.
“This is Dr. Anjum Sayyad,” Amy said, “From Canada, but her parents are from India. She is an archeologist, working for the UEC, leading an excavation at one of Zera IV’s sites,” she said, then pointing with the stick at another image that sprouted up, “We will drop you here in this field by these buildings near the site after sunset so you can move under cover of night. It is the closest we can get, and we don’t want to rouse any suspicion.”
Anthony raised his hand until called, “Two things. How do we know it’s her? And why not just read the message?”
Amy answered, “She was the only one given this beacon. Only she could have purposely phased it out and activated it, and it is a beacon - nothing to read, just a signal. It must be important for her to activate it. Your mission is simple: go in and extract the Dr. The thing is you will have to use a shuttle for extraction; she is not a Myrmidon, but she’s using a Phase type V, first or 1ST generation / exploration suit. Your team call sign for this assignment is ‘Horsemen’. Cpl. your call sign is ‘Famine’, LCpl. is ‘Pestilence’, PFC. you’re ‘Death’, and Sgt. your call sign will be ‘War’. The mission begins when the Unity is in orbit around Zera IV. It is a ringed planet with two moons, so even without the suits, you’ll be able to see a little. That is all I have now.”
“Thank you, Amy,” David said, “You can upload to the mainframe or whatever. You’re all dismissed. Sgt., please follow me.”
Everyone exited; Peyton did as he was told and followed David on to the tram.
“See?” David said to Peyton, “I wouldn’t even call it an assignment. Just get the Dr. and get out. It’s a little something to get your feet wet, or boots dirty, or whatever. Now, let’s go to my office and blow off some steam with a friend of mine named ‘Scotch’.”
After she had all her ships, the Unity set course, and like Tyrant, activated her graviton drive and took off.