When they reach their destination the squad of four are not left to wait, or queried about their number. Instead they are ushered into an open space at the centre of which sits a circular pad. The four of them stand on the pad, making sure to keep from the edges. Lyra and Sasha stand ahead of Frank and Josh, who are just behind them.

Past their own circle lay five more, all dark and lifeless for a few seconds before they each, almost in unison, spring into life, casting visages of the highest ranking members of command. Each face is a General, highly decorated and wearing stern looks.

“Echo Squad.” A female General offers from off to the groups left.

“Ma’am.” The squad reply in unison with salutes as they stand at attention.

“Report.” The female General orders.

“Abridged.” A male General says from the circle directly ahead of the squad.

Sasha looks at her younger sister as she stands at her side and nods encouragement her way in the moments before Lyra takes a half step forward. It’s all the pad they are stood upon will allow, but it’s enough.

“Echo were fighting on Terra 3. We sustained heavy losses.” Lyra begins.

“How heavy?” A new voice says from off to Lyra’s right.

“Only me left generals.” Lyra responds without pause.

“Continue Lieutenant.” The female General urges Lyra.

“The aliens…the…”

“Swarm.” The male General directly ahead of them interjects only to get glares from the other Generals, as well as Sasha.

“They spoke to me.”

“And what did they say Lyra?” The female General asks now. The woman’s greying hair pulled back into a bun. Lyra has always liked General Holloway. She’d been present when Lyra had first been administered for tests and always treated Lyra more like a daughter than just another recruit. Unlike the General whose face is directly in front of her. She’s never seen him before and doesn’t like his abruptness thus far.

“They’re not…they’re being controlled. They said they serve their masters. That’s why they fight.” Lyra answers honestly.

“Who are their masters?” The General in front of her asks unconvinced by Lyra’s words. He is sure Lyra, along with her squad, are simply wasting the generals time, likely in an effort to avoid duty. Cowards, he thinks as he stares at them.

“I…I don’t know.” Lyra replies.

“So let me get this straight…you called us here to tell us the aliens spoke to you, have masters, but you don’t know who these masters are.” The General directly ahead of Lyra summarises with more than a hint of scepticism in his voice.

“What sort of a waste of time is this?” The same General then asks annoyed.

“Silence Walter.” One of the other male General’s orders no longer willing to listen to his counterparts continued interruptions.

“You can’t silence me we’re the same rank.” Walter then replies arrogantly.

“No, but I can do this.” General Holloway says as she cuts the link with Walter, whose holographic visage disappears in an instant as she does so.

“Ah, much better.” General Holloway then says with a wide proud grin as the other general’s nod in approval.

“Captain Jones.” General Holloway says warmly.

“Yes ma’am.” Sasha replies instinctively.

“We received curious anomalies on the far side of Terra 3. Echo squad are going to rendezvous with the third battalion for investigation.”

“Yes ma’am.” Sasha replies with a curt nod of understanding as the other three holographic faces disappear leaving only General Holloway.

“Lyra…Thank you.” General Holloway says with a warm smile before cutting her own signal upon seeing Lieutenant Lyra Jones’ reciprocating smile.

“Well that was fun.” Josh offers as he lets out a sigh.

“Speak for yourself.” Lyra offers with a chuckle as the squad of four leave the room.

The holographic projection of Walter appears again.

“How dare you cut my connection Margaret.” Walter says ready to explode into a tirade. That is until he realises that the room is empty. His anger boils over as he cuts his own connection this time, seething as he does so.

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