11. A Jovian Pursuit
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Start: Traitor's Respite

The next couple days for Numa were both eventful and uneventful. Classes finally began for Numa, yet the ones he attended were boring to say the least, and frankly quite useless to say the least. There was a class on communications, there was a basics on leadership, but honestly Numa felt like there wasn't much of any value here.

About two months in they had their first weapons class, which Numa got some use out of, able to learn how to effectively use his weapons and learn about the different weapons they would encounter, strategies to minimize losses.

Then their training began in earnest, they learned about the different types of champions they would face, what their jobs were and how they would go about their best accomplishing it. Their job was simple, die slower than the average soldier. As such, they were taught guerilla tactics, meant to annoy, harass, and impede the progress of enemy champions and even regiments of soldiers. What champions were wasn't a hard-set designation, an enemy champion put simply was the enemies "win condition". Sometimes it could be an encampment raining down hellfire on the kingdoms of man, and as such marines were taught infiltration and siege warfare. Sometimes enemy champions were singular troops, extremely strong army wipers, and they were taught how to perform hit and run tactics to prevent these wipers from targeting large swarths of friendlies.

Psions were great examples of this, as the more powerful of their order had the power to completely wipeout regiments if not entire armies.

Time passed, and soon it was time for the first mission. They would be heading to a gas giant in the Sol system, Jovian. There were groups of insurgents that had taken over the couple of mining stations there, and it would be their job in conjunction with the Sol army to eliminate the threat. Each person in the CO class was given a weeks' notice to prepare and meet their squads. Each squad consisted of ten to fifteen people, but Numa's only consisted of four other augmented, this wasn't due to any inherent bias, just that there were only four other augmented designated to live combat roles.

Walking to their meeting place, a cafeteria located just across from their living quarters. Stepping into the cafeteria, Numa was soon flagged down by a group of augmented sitting at a table not too far to them. Walking over, Numa took a seat left empty for him at the head of the table.

Sitting down, Numa viewed the group for a half second before greeting his new comrades, "I'm Numa and I'm going to be your squad leader. I have cerebral implants as my augments, and I will also oversee recon and communications." Indicating for the person to the right of Numa to continue, the line of introduction continued. "My names Elizebth but my friends call me Liezel, I have cerebral, cranial and finger augments, I'll oversee tech in the field and any cybernetic warfare if needed."

The next person in line took a second, glancing at the person across from them, before stating, "My names Katas and I'm the demolitions and heavy weapons expert, and this is my brother Karthas, who is in charge of long-range operations, he's a real whizz with a sniper." Karthas simply waved at the group, choosing not to speak. Katas and Liezel had removed their helmets to eat, yet Karthas chose not to remove his helmet, nor did he have food placed in front of him. Finally, the final member of the group went to introduce themselves, "My names Aspida, and I'll be the shield of the group"

Numa nodded, understand everyone's position in the group, before quickly ordering a simple root soup himself. Soon, conversation broke out between the squad, with Numa not commenting instead simply choosing to observe the conversation quietly.

"Wait, wait let me get this straight. You don't carry any weapons, I get that you're a shielder but that seems kinda crazy, no?" Karthas, being the weapons guy seemed not to be able to wrap his head around Aspida not carrying any weapons.

"Well, that's not technically true, I meant I assume your shield could probably smash things up right, its not like you are completely defenseless, plus you have us!" Liezel seemed to be the positive person of the group.

"Ya, my shields are meant to defend you, plus I'm a very strong guy, smashing things could also be considered one of my specialties", Aspida proclaimed this all while raising up his arms to flex them.

No one comments on Karthas' silence, nor his insistence of keeping his helmet on. Many considered their augmentations ugly or otherwise unsightly, and many considered asking about the specifications about one's augment to be rude, and improper. As such, no one mentioned it and Karthas didn't offer anything up either.

In the middle of their meal, they all got an alert, their briefing for their mission would be taking place in thirty minutes. Wrapping up their meal quickly, they soon made their ways. Numa would be heading off to meet with the other commanders to be briefed, while the rest of the squad went to receive their half of their briefing.

This method of briefing was the embodiment of the compartmentalization of the marines and the kingdom of mankind as a whole—squad leaders such as Numa got a larger picture of the plans than those under them. This isn't that big of an issue as the bigger picture can often be distracting, and many times don't need to be known by the larger whole of the army.

But often this leads to a lack of flexibility, especially when there is a break in the command structure due to a lack of communication or something worse.

Making his way towards the command post, Numa parted with the rest of his squad, who wished him good luck and promised to meet with him later. Heading into the command post, his HUD soon directed him towards the basement floors. Slipping into the room designated by his HUD, Numa saw all his classmates and a couple of people Numa didn't recognize. His classmates paid him no attention, and Numa could see the princess was purposely ignoring him. Specifically greeting everyone with a nod or a simple hello once they entered, but specifically ignoring Numa.

Numa paid this no mind, sitting down on a chair in the corner of the room, Numa began downloading the mission data from the server provided. Reviewing it, the overall objective was to retake the mining platforms over Jovian, but the marines' specific mission was to one, locate the insurgent leader, and to eliminate any troop transports the insurgents might have. The cadets would handle these missions, while the main marine force would eliminate the insurgent leader once located.

The Sol corps cadets would be engaging the main body of the insurgents while the marines completed their tasks. Having learned all that needed to be learned, Numa waited patiently in his seat for the formal briefing to begin.

A man clads in blue fatigues soon stepped up to address those gathered in the room. Surveying the room for a second, waiting for it to quiet down the man introduced himself, "I'm commander Selvin and I will be running point for this mission. The princess over here will be the marine's liaison for this mission. Now, as many have read from the briefing a group of insurgents have captured the mining outposts of Jovian. The golems have been lost, but some of the human miners have escaped and alerted us to this. Resistance shouldn't be that big of an issue but keep an eye out of the insurgent leader. Some early scouting has revealed that the commander is clad in some Xeno tech, and his guards are equipped with vindicator class suits. The marine cadets will be tasked with locating the commander, but you shouldn't engage, a special marine task force has been tasked with capturing the commander alive. The secondary objective of the marines' squads will be to destroy any troop transports and to gather as much data as you can from the insurgents, but that is a tertiary objective. Insertion will be handled by our ariel corps, and transports will be landing. The Sol corps will be landing before us and should clear us a landing platform."

Turning to gesture at the princess, "Now I will let miss explain the jobs of your specific squads." And with that Commander Selvin took a seat and let Princess Damocles have the spotlight.

"Ok, breakdown will be simple, of the ten squads, nine will be tasked with removal of enemy transports and once that's done assist with the cleaning up of combatants. The tenth, the augmented squad, will be tasked with heading into the base to both hack the systems, giving us back control of the defenses of the base and the remaining golems, and using those to locate the insurgent commander. Are there any questions?"

After a second, the ox's sister raised her hand and with a nod from the princess asked her question, "Excuse me ma'am, but what support will we have?"

"Good question, there will be minimal ariel support for those going after the troop transports, and none for the squad entering the backend of the facility. And if you mean support as in backup from the main marines, there will be none unless you run into the insurgent commander. Now, go prepare and don't let humanity down!"

And with that, Numa and the rest of the squad captains were dismissed. Now, Numa was given a very important task, and that made Numa not worried, not happy. This was something that shouldn't be taken as an honor nor taken as belief in Numa's ability. Instead, it meant they were disposable. The fact that it seemed they would be getting no backup, and the fact that Xeno technology was being used meant that this was probably a trap/not something cadets should be going through.

In the theme of "trial by fire" or better yet disposability, to Numa it seemed that they were being used to draw out the unseen forces at work. Maybe these insurgents were just that for the Xenos, disposable and thus presenting no real threat, but the fact that one, the princess would only be taking part as commander offsite, and two, that a special squad had been formed to capture the insurgent commander meant this was probably a pipe dream.

Making his way back towards his living quarters, he was soon contacted by Karthas who wanted to meetup. Surprised, Numa agreed, turning away heading back towards the command post. Reaching the building, Numa followed the directions of his HUD, heading behind the building and soon reached a tiny plaza of intersecting back alleys.

Standing in the center of this plaza was Karthas, leaning against the wall. Soon, an internal call was setup between the two.

"You wanted to see me?"

Karthas' voice was much quieter than Numa was expecting, a rasping whisper at best.

"So how was the briefing?"

"It was… illuminating. Why did you want to see me without everyone else?"

"My brother is talking to them now, I wanted to chat alone with you first though. I'm assuming you've been harassed by the Guiding Hand?"

"Harassed? What do you mean?"

"I mean work orders being denied, hang up on gear being issued, vague hostility…"

"Uh, yeah something like that…" Numa wasn't sure what he was getting at here, but he wasn't going to reveal the extremes the Guiding Hand had taken to "deter" him.

"Well, the Guiding Hand has a big hand in our inclusion within this mission, and in fact using cadets at all. This is a trap, but it seems to be more inclusive of a trap than just against us, the augmented."

Nodding to himself, Numa was glad that he wasn't the only one who felt uncertain about this whole affair.

"How do you know about all of this, and isn't the Guiding Hand supposed to be an underground movement?"

Not answering him, Karthas simply waved, ending the communication, and moving away through one of the back alleyways. Wracking his brain, Numa's mind race trying to place Karthas or Katas anywhere on his timeline—or to any noble family he had heard about.

Realizing he wasn't going to get anywhere knowing as little about Karthas as he currently did, Numa instead transitioned to thinking about the training and planning Numa would need to do to guarantee his survival for this mission…