Chapter 03: Mission Briefing

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Jennifer led the way through the airlock.

She was surprised by how good it felt to be docked with the Dauntless again. It felt like coming home. She'd always been good at settling into new places, since the way she lived her life meant that she was never in one place for more than a year or so, usually less. But her job with Anomalous Ops made her feel...like she belonged.

She hadn't felt that in a long time.

The airlock finished hissing its way through its cycle and the outer doors opened. She and Allan were given a view of the hangar beyond. The Dauntless came with four small hangars, each one serving as a nest that catered to each of their brand new, top-of-the-line speedships that the crew had started referring to as Vipers. One of the hangars housed a pair of simpler jump ships. As she and Allan descended the stairs that snapped into place below the airlock, a pair of technicians made their way to the vessel to perform some basic after-mission maintenance. She left them to it, heading out of the hangar and into the corridor beyond.

Hawkins was waiting for them.

"Allan, Jennifer, I'm glad you're back," he said.

"We didn't really find anything," Jennifer replied.

"I've looked over your after-action report. Jennifer, you've got a mission," he said. "What you might call a 'real' mission."

Instantly, the lingering lethargy from the long haul she was feeling seemed to evaporate. "What is it?" she asked immediately.

"You'll know within the hour."

"What about me?" Allan asked.

"You and Callie can take a break, but we've got another hit on these crazies. Spec Ops has a team there already and once the others depart, we're headed that way."

"You aren't coming to support the larger mission?" Jennifer asked.

Hawkins sighed and shook his head. "No. It's a political mess. Your mission involves a science project that very few people think is actually going anywhere, the other one involves a lot of dead civilians and soldiers. So the men who control our funding have requested the presence of the Dauntless personally."

"All right, I've got to go take a shower," Allan said.

"Okay. And, Allan..." Hawkins hesitated. "I can't seem to get hold of Greg. I've been led to believe he might be in your and Callie's quarters?"

Allan nodded. "Yeah, probably."

"Would you mind sending him my way?"

"Not at all." Allan turned and left.

Jennifer and Hawkins watched him go.

"Don't you how you guys do it. I had a hard enough time figuring out one girlfriend, let alone two or three."

"I know what you mean," Jennifer replied.

"Well, I've got to go finish prepping the briefing. Be in Briefing Room Two in half an hour," he said.

"I'll be there," she promised, then watched him go.

Feeling her excitement welling, Jennifer turned and hurried off towards her own quarters. It was time for a real mission.

* * *

Greg began to towel himself off.

He was at least feeling awake, invigorated and distracted. Sex in the shower with a woman who wasn't actually his girlfriend was apparently good for that. Callie was still in the shower. He'd learned that she had a particular love for them, and often stayed in them for quite awhile if she could. Right now, he was trying to organize his thoughts and the day ahead of him. He figured a fifty-fifty chance of Hawkins throwing another mission at him that would probably amount to nothing. He had to admit, he was intrigued by these mystery men sporting tech mods, but he knew they needed to get ahead of the game if they were ever going to crack the case and right now no one seemed to have any real ideas on how to do that.

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