When Markus got to the command center’s ramp, the three of the five Elites were already in. Two Separatist sergeants, a Lieutenant and a Commander, all in full arms and armor, were standing around a terrain-table. All eyes were on Ashley as she finished stating her name rank. She finished off with “Reporting for duty.”
“Lt. Sanders” The young commander had clean cut jet black hair. “I’ve been anticipating your arrival. Your specialists are much needed.”
“I’ll say,” Ashley remarked with a grunt, “What’s the situation?”
“The pirate base is well fortified. Very well fortified. Now that reinforcements arrived we may have enough men for a direct assault.”
“Whoa, whoa,” The lieutenant spoke up, “With all due respect, we simply don’t have the firepower!” The young commander smirked charmingly.
“You’re right,” he zoomed in on the terrain-table to an enormous garage complex. “But they do.” A smile slowly spread on Ramey’s face.
“I like where this is going.” His deep, commanding voice coupled with his hard face and large scar caused people to stare at him for a bit before they reclaimed control of themselves. The commander locked eyes with him, then back at the terrain-table.
“Lt. Sanders, you and your squad will travel on foot up this mountain and back down, infiltrating the garage complex. Once inside, sabotage all but the five vehicles of your choosing. Then, hijack the other five and bust out of there. Markus thought of the inevitable before anyone else did.
“What about injuries?” He asked. Everyone in the room had his eyes fixed on Markus including Ashley. The commander had a blank stare.
“I take it you’re the rookie?” The Commander asked, his smile heard in his voice.
“We’re the Elites. We don’t take hits.” Ramey said plainly.
“When do we move out?” Ashley asked with impatience.
“In ten-hundred hours, just before the sun comes over the horizon.” The commander answered. “We have prepared a building for you all. It’s small, but it’s also temporary. Check the far east side of the base.”
“Much appreciated.” Johnson said with a nod and followed Ramey out the front door. Ashley, Markus and Dwayne followed him.
The five moved in natural formation to the eastern side of the camp. It was quiet. Soldiers and guards were busy doing work while the five had nothing to do for six hours. They easily found their little hut, since it was the only one in the residential area. There was the barracks, some tents, then the hut. It looked nice, for a portable building, that is.
Ramey approached the door and synched it with his Palm-Comm. The rest of the squad did the same. After that, the door glided open on its own. The five walked into the living room. A small coffee table with two couple’s couches around it facing the small television that hung on the wall. The rest of the room looked roomie enough. The bathroom door was behind the couches and the hallway led to five doors to the left hand side of the sofa. Plenty of weapon and armor racks were scattered throughout the living room.
“I could get used to this!” Dwayne said excitedly, tapping his Palm-Comm with his right hand, then slowly beginning to take his armor off and put it on a rack. Ashley started slowly walking to the bathroom. Johnson and Ramey to the bedrooms. Markus followed in Dwayne’s steps, starting to take off his armor and place it on a different rack.
Soon everyone was in their jumpsuits. The five small bedrooms provided some privacy for each Elite. A luxury in the Separatist ranks. Markus tried to retire to his room and get some sleep. Anxiety prevented it. It was only six o’ clock standard earth time.
He ended up cleaning his sidearm on the coffee table thirty minutes later. As the sun slowly fell out of the sky, a sunset emerged, creating an orange glow on the world. Ashley had left the house to go to the quartermaster and potentially get some food. That’s what she said, at least. Ramey wanted to scope the base out, he left shortly before Ashley did. Dwayne went to the mess hall. Markus wasn’t hungry. He usually wasn’t for some odd reason. He could usually be perfectly fine on two meals a day. Johnson had went to eat before everyone else.
Markus had the news on in the background of his gun cleaning. The name ‘Jacob Devroy’ caught his attention. He looked up at the television and caught only a glimpse before it suddenly turned off. Markus froze and looked around. Johnson stood beside him, plain as day. How Markus didn’t see him, or even notice him, was simply a miracle. Johnson either didn’t want to be detected, or Markus was deeper in thought then he realized.
Johnson dropped the remote onto the coffee table and it clambered before coming to a rest. Markus gazed up at him with open frustrated palms.
“You need to stay focused, John.”
“I am focused, Johnson, turn that back on!” He demanded. Johnson swore,
“No, John, you’re not! Neither is Ashley! I don’t know what’s going on, but both of you are going to get us all killed!” Markus sighed and continued scrubbing a piece of his weapon with a metal toothbrush. Johnson waited ten seconds before collapsing on the couch beside Markus.
“What about you, Johnson?” Markus turned his attention to the man rubbing the bridge of his nose, “Are you focused?” His arm fell into his lap,
“Most focused of the squad.”
“That’s still not very focused.”
“My point exactly.” Johnson waited until Markus wasn’t scrubbing metal to metal before speaking again,
“John,” He waited until Markus made eye contact, “What do you fight for?” The two held their stare for a long while before Markus answered.
“Justice.” Markus sustained his stare until he could think of another reason. He couldn’t think of one. Why did he fight? He was only mildly patriotic, it wasn’t for a sense of honor, what was it?
“What do you fight for?” Markus asked Johnson.
“Peace, safety, honor, pride.” Johnson was quick to answer. “My daddy was a marine, and his daddy, and his great granddaddy. I was the first to become an Elite.”
“Not really,” Johnson rubbed the back of his neck, “my whole family thinks I’m dead, I didn’t get a chance to tell her the truth.”
“Why not?” Johnson thought about it for a second. Markus could see from psychological training that a million bad memories flashed past his eyes. Wait, did he say “Her”? Thirty seconds passed before he answered,
“Because I did die that day.” He finally said with heavy words and a quivered voice. “And I’ve died every day since.” Markus didn’t dare say a word. He wasn’t stupid, he could connect the dots. It didn’t take long for the awkwardness to overcome Johnson. He stood up and began walking down the hall to his room.
“Sorry, just don’t like talking about it.” He continued mumbling even after he was out of ear shot. “Or thinking about it, or even mentioning it…” So there was a “her” in Johnson’s life. Interesting. Seemed as though Johnson wasn’t as focused as he though either. The team better get it together, or the mission would suffer greatly.
Markus took a deep breath and began reassembling his gun. He quickly rushed off to his quarters soon after. He needed… Isolation, more then sleep.