I stand firmly attention, sweat beading on my brow as I wait for the instructions that are probably going to send me to my death.
"You and your Squad Troops are to command a reconnaissance mission of targets that have been infiltrated by enemy forces. Your sole objective is to locate and destroy all enemy positions. Good luck!"
Do I detect a slight sneer on the Colonel's face as he signs off? How am I supposed to create an effective squad out of the miscreants and criminals that I've been left with? I'm dead!
I look through the psychological profiles of all of the recruits, and it's worse than I had originally thought. There's definitely one coward in the bunch -- Henley -- who, despite all of his brave words, is going to panic and, probably, run as soon as he gets a chance.
There's also one full-blown nutcase -- Thomas -- but I should've expected that in these forces. I may just choose him as my point man; no reason to risk my ass if this guy will do it willingly. Besides, psycopathy is a condition that's both highly useful and adaptable when you're surrounded by gun-toting alien freaks.
The rest of the bunch includes the usual odd assortments of bio-engineered freaks, neo-hippies, a neo-feminist or two, and the criminally insane. Someone has thoughtfully left vidclips of all the psych profiles so I don't have to wade through endless chip databases, but they do little to reassure me. Four. I can choose four, but which of these freaks am I going to take to the surface?
I end up taking Thomas, the psychopath, the genmodded freak, and the neo-feminist. I also decide to take the coward, as his stats look Ok and I'll be able to use him as a scapegoat if the mission fails. We crowd into the dropship and prepare to launch. I look out the ship porthole and gasp at the sight; it's probably the last time I'm going to see the stars. As we descend, music swells around me. Is it just in my head, or is the ship's computer taunting us all with this melodrama? In any case, I note that it's really cheesy, and sounds like the crap you used to find in the really old movieclips that were supposed to have been realistic depictions of spaceflight. Junk.
I decide to file an official complaint if I return. When. When I return.
We glide over a desiccated beige landscape. The computer interprets this planet as a series of never-ending and mountain ranges, and I marvel at the grainy, lowres scenes shown on the screens. Now I'm really scared -- they've given us junk so old and out of date that it looks like something out of child's vidchip from before the interstellar era!
We enter some type of colourful chasm and descend into the planet's heart. It looks like we're approaching the first of the infested stations.
I can't get used to these weird suits. The controllers are pretty awkward, and it takes me a while to figure out that the different buttons trigger different displays on my suitscreens. Two buttons also seem to propel me forward with great speed, but I don't use these too often. It's too disorienting. And, just as I thought, it's clear that these suits are older than the moon: I can only get grainy, low-res images to show up on my screens.
This station is definitely giving me the creeps. I haven't seen anyone alive in over three hours exploring, and I seem to keep going around in circles. I keep in constant contact with the others, but Thomas is already using intercom to taunt the others and satisfy his own twisted desires. We're toast.
I move through endless corridors and what appear to be storage rooms filled with endless piles of crates and boxes. I can't open the
I approach a rack of elevators. One of the doors opens and a chip fragment is discovered at IOP-3533 near the remains of the first (unsuccessful) squad of Varuna's Forces.