Matthius stood at attention on the briefing room floor. Ten full minutes he'd held his salute, as Vice Admiral Malcolm Bennett continued to chastise him. The occasional spray hit his face, but Matthius held his pose and refrained from blinking.
"YOU WILL FOLLOW MY ORDERS WITHOUT QUESTION!" He barely paused for a breath. "IS THAT UNDERSTOOD?"
"Sir.." The Vice Admiral didn't let him finish. "IS THAT UNDERSTOOD?"
Defeated, Matthius nodded and waited to make sure the Vice Admiral was finished.
Barely letting him finish, Bennett dismissed the room. Matthius stood a few seconds longer with his salute. Once the Vice Admiral finally turned, Matthius put himself at ease.
"Well Commander, You kind of asked for that one." Lt. Commander Karis Pennefeather said as she stepped to his side. She let out a bit of chuckle as the two watched the room empty. "Just because he wants us to go into a situation ill armed, with minimal forces and in the heart of Vanduul space doesn't give you the right to ask for additional wing support." She punched him lightly in the shoulder. "Sir" She said as her punch turned into a firm grip on his shoulder.
"He has it out for me Karis" Matthius dropped rank. "It's not right to put you and the others into a bad situation just because he's trying to get me killed." His brow tensed.
Karis started to say something when the intercom interrupted. "All hands prepare for jump sequence." Matthius and Karis both braced themselves for the impending jump. The UEE - Wandering Mantis Idris Frigate almost immediately lept light years across space. Arriving in Kellog, on the edge of Vanduul territory.
"Let's go check on the team." Karis said as she started walking towards the briefing room exit. Matthius followed his xo out and into the hallway. HIs mind still clearly on the mission parameters and the Vice Admiral's apparent beef with him.
"We've flown hundreds of sorties against the Vanduul. We've never been asked to go into their territory with so few forces before. I just don't get it." He said as the two walked past the brig. Prisoners were being chained together for transport to the hangar bay with their ultimate destination a date with Quarterdeck. The infamous prison world. A clever cover for our mission, Matthius thought as the two continued towards the combat flight deck. "It's just Bennett" Matthius let his emotions out a bit more than he intended. "Since he came on board two months ago, he's been riding me like I'd knocked up his daughter and skipped town."
"Maybe he's jealous" The two stopped as Karis implied.
"Jealous?" Matthius responded with a confused look across his face.
"Commander..." Karis turned the conversation formal as a couple soldiers passed by their location. "... Matthius, he doesn't have the respect of everyone on the Mantis. YOU DO." She urged. "Perhaps he is just uncomfortable with a subordinate having so much respect?" The two continued walking. "After all not everyone can live up to the standards of the Osiris champion." She jabbed. Matthius hated when she threw that one in his face. He still felt odd about the medals, promotions and fame produced from killing their own. He'd been scattered from his team there and like a lot of dust, it was swept under the rug and forgotten save for the fame.
The two turned and entered the flight deck where various deckhands were busy loading up two F7A Hornets with stealth gear. The mission would require as little electronic signature as possible and the two hornets would be with limited weapons due to that fact.
As they approached Chief Tech Saskia Linsen with grease smeared on both cheeks turned and greeted them. "Commander... Lt. Commander. We'll have these so black, we might not be able to see you when you return."
Before they could respond warning lights blared in the hangar signalling a ship landing was about to happen. Matthius watched as a stealth equipped Gladius Interceptor burst into the hangar bay and sped past the two parked hornets.
Saskia let out a whistle. "I haven't seen one of those in person." She yelled over the noise of the Gladius slowing down referring to the stealth variant.
"Me either." Matthius responded. None of them had seen the stealth fitted craft before in person. Matthius and Karis had flown the standard military specced version of course, but the stealth variant was reserved for black ops or intelligence assets.
The Gladius screeched to a halt as it's wheels faught momentum and friction. Matthius been told that a courier was coming and that their mission was to escort it into Vanduul space, but he hadn't expected a black ops ship.
The trio continued to watch as the cockpit lifted on the Gladius now nestled in it's bay and techs rushed over to refit and refuel it for the upcoming mission. The pilot, heading their way, began to take his helmet off but was having some issues with one of the latches. Matthius sized up the man flying this machine, when he noticed his rank.
"Ten hutt! Captain on Deck!" Matthius yelled and stood to attention. Saskia and Karis followed suit.
As the Captain reached the trio, the last latch finally gave way allowing him to return a salute.
"At ease Matthius, my old friend." Captain Tony Faulk smiled and turned to Saskia. "Security Code Delta Nine Victor Eight Six. Only you and myself are allowed in the cockpit of that ship" He pointed at the Gladius. "No one else as long as it's on this vessel. Is that understood?"
Saskia, saluted "Yes Sir."
"You two, briefing room in 20 mikes." Faulk then headed towards the aft of the ship and the bridge. Matthius stood with his jaw hoovering just above the floor.