"We're on final approach," came a voice from the cockpit. "Touchdown in ten, better strap in, might get bumpy." Lost in thought Wade barely registered the recommendation before the first wave of turbulent atmosphere gripped the ship. What in the world had happened down there, he wondered. Querent was one of the most promising graduates of the academy, a shining gem of the Federated Union. How could a fresh squad led by her have gone silent on a simple deployment for maneuvers?
Calling up his mini-comm's neural link he directly called up all the information he could to re-brief himself. A four-member squad had been deployed here consisting of Querent, Jeffers, Farrow, and Everett. All decent enough pilots, according to the records. Jeffers file showed a some low marks, but had been personally attested by his instructors as having the heart needed to be the core of a squad with some experience he should prove to be a valuable soldier.
Farrow's own record marked his somewhat reckless use of excessive force and lack of self control. However it also hailed him for an impressive knack for manually coordinating attacks against multiple targets.. And then there was Everett, a bit withdrawn and callous but his final review showed evidence of his own leadership potential. With some experience and a little guidance he should of been more than capable of growing into an excellent second in command. Perhaps even coming into a command of his own.
Her first command, Querent had only just been assigned the squad shortly before shipped out. Every score, every evaluation exemplary, the only thing unusual in her file was the mecha she had selected. It was a quadruped unit, designed for mobility, favored by scouts and often modified by artillery and support teams for it's improved capacity for mounting weapons not normally found on chassis of it's size. However it didn't possess any manipulator arms, and only could of relied on structurally mounted hard points. Something about that puzzled Wade, it wasn't anything most graduates of the academy would of been familiar with piloting. But from Querent's records she wasn't an average pilot, and yet that unit was rated for multiple operators. As the squad's leader and it's tactical officer, it made sense for her to consider a mobile mecha for her combat role, even one with weapons to allow her to supplement her squad's firepower. But how could even she manage to pilot a mecha like that at full efficiency?
Deployed along with the squad was a second ship with a full compliment of combat drones. Automated with pre-landing mission parameters they should have activated and engaged the squad in a series of practice skirmishes. For some reason though, their beacons activated and then cutoff. The last detected transmissions were from the drones' ship's log marking a command authorized altering to their parameters. No other transmissions, not even the squad's beacons were active. So now, ordered to go down with the pickup team, Wade was reroute. With eyes closed all he could do was wonder, what waited for him down there, and who would come for him if a similar fate awaited him.