Birth of a Leader - Recruitment

April 2920
Ballistic Logistics Secret Facility - Spider
Cathcart System

Matthius sat at a large oak table with shiny veneer. Staring at the unfamiliar winged logo on the wall, He'd heard of Ballistic Logistics before and even seen purchasing forms in the UEE with the rocket ship. The public and familiar logo spanned the verse and made it simply too foreign, too far fetched, and difficult to believe the things Deerfield was suggesting.

The attractive assistant, Alexis entered with a tray and offered him a drink. Her heels echoed in the massive conference room as she approached. Matthius pointed at a bottle of the hardest liquor he could spot.

"The others will be here shortly, Mr. Deerfield." The young woman's voice brightened the hard walls of the chamber.

As Matthius continued to process the day's events; he watched as Deerfield hobbled across the room with use of his cane. This room, like the whole facility, was lavish but he gathered a bit unfamiliar to the old man.

"I've been watching you for quite some time Matthius." Deerfield now stood opposite Matthius in front of the giant logo. Alexis filled a glass with a few pieces of ice and began to pour the liquor into it.

Meanwhile, Deerfield began pressing buttons on his Mobi-Glas. On the table just in front of Matthius a holographic projection emitted. The projection, a mysterious man sitting in a corner booth. He recognized it as the Sailor's Refuge, a local naval dive near the UEE Naval Academy. He continued to watch as Old man Sundavold, his drill instructor at the Academy entered and sat down. A few seconds later revealing an envelope he proceeded to slide across to the figure.

Alexis placed a now full glass by Matthius' side. She barely made a step in retreat before he finished the entire drink. His eyes never left the projection as Deerfield pressed another button changing it to another Ghost from his past. This time Captain Nelson Scott whom he served under for three years back in 2911.

Matthius set the empty glass on the table, perhaps harder than he had realized.

"As you can imagine, I was quite concerned with the reports coming out of Tiber." Deerfield added as his young assistant took the empty glass and walked towards the room's mini bar. Heels echoing once more.

"When one of my agents identified you in Croshaw. I was very relieved." He continued, pressing another button on his Mobi-Glas. Another meeting with the same mysterious man. Matthius couldn't tell who he was but his features were distinct. This time the informant was Ensign Natasha Vevich whom he'd commanded on Osiris.

"Once we were able to ascertain that you were making you're way here to Spider, I called a meeting." Deerfield continued pressing yet another button. "A very important meeting." This time the projection changed to a judge from his court martial. Matthius had been cleared of any wrong doing in Vendetta and now assumed this man may have had something to do with that. "I would have preferred to have you meet everyone in person, but there simply wasn't enough time to get everyone here and I prefer not to have too many high ranking officials in Cathcart, as you might imagine." He smiled to Matthius.

Alexis finished setting a new glass and the bottle by Matthius' side then proceeded towards the conference room door. Matthius couldn't help but glance a few times as Deerfield changed the image once more. "You'll want to listen to what Agent Sakamoto uncovered in Kellog." He pretended not to notice Matthius' coy looks at his assistant. The projection changed to the oriental female tech from the Wandering Mantis. Matthius recognized her but didn't really know her that well. She like the others was sitting and talking to the mysterious man in a mostly secluded booth in some dive. He didn't recognize the planet or establishment.

For the first time, sound accompanied the projection. It came from speakers in the ceiling of the conference room. "As per my mission parameters, I attempted to ascertain the presence of the enemy agent on board the Mantis. Eavesdropping on Vice Admiral Bennett and the enemy agent, a plot to assassinate Commander Stormfury was unveiled. The Vice Admiral made mention of a high costs in the Osiris system and instructed the agent to make sure the Commander never returned from Vendetta."

Deerfield had Matthius' full attention now. The news of a plot to kill him wasn't something he had been aware of and had not been revealed during the court martial proceedings. He'd been furious that Faulk had broken protocol and left the two of them to die, but he had not been aware of the actual plot. Deerfield let the recording continue.

"With limited time, I was able to find a device planted by the agent within the Commander's F7A. At the time, there was no indication that both hornets had been rigged to a remote device." She paused, obviously unsettled at what she was about to say. "Sir, I failed to find a way to determine the nature of the package retrieved in Vendetta. There simply wasn't enough time to protect the Commander and ascertain the contents, without exposing myself."

Matthius swallowed hard as the pit of his stomach started to ache with sickness. Faulk had killed Karis, not the Vanduul and not the damage to her systems. It had been Faulk all along.

Deerfield paused the video. "Captain. I know this is a lot to take in, but there is a major war ongoing and I'm not talking about dealing with the Vanduul." He sat down, almost as if on Queue the door to the conference room opened and Alexis held the door open motioning others to enter the room. Several people began entering into the conference room led by a man dressed in a very expensive suit, cowboy boots and hat.

"There are forces both inside and out that are hell bent on destroying humanity. Our organization." Deerfield pointed his finger at Matthius. "Your organization was put together to protect humanity."

"Osiris makes far more sense now." Matthius said as he watched the new participants coming into the room. A female wearing a full suit and carrying a briefcase came in next and sat almost directly across from him.

"You're referring to the Black Ops team attempting to start an intergalactic war on a tense but relatively peaceful side of the UEE?" Deerfield continued ignoring the distraction caused by the new comers.

Matthius tried his best not to show his amazement. Only three or four people had known the truth about the encounter and it had been so neatly swept under the rug.

"Captain, we fight off these types of engagements on a weekly basis. Evil forces do not rest, and neither can we. I'm old, tired, and time for me to pass the torch." Deerfield stepped up to the head of the table opposite the entry door and mini-bar and to Matthius' right. "Faulk had been behind the black ops team's ability to sneak past your sensors." Deerfield smiled and nodded his head as another female entered dressed in skirt and blouse. At first Matthis didn't recognize Ensign Vevich.

"We had wondered who was behind that, but it wasn't clear until the events on board the Mantis." Another man in full combat fatigues entered the room. "It was not until Omi reported in that we put two and two together about Agent Faulk. Her intel from the Mantis was invaluable, not to mention her actions." Matthius knew it was a reference to saving his life. He sat and watched as the soldier sat opposite him and between the two women.

Deerfield walked over and stood behind the one Matthius was mentally calling Cowboy, resting his right hand on his left shoulder. "Matthius, allow me to introduce Dallas Hartgrove Vice-President of Sales and Marketing.

"How do." Hartgrove tipped his hat. Deerfield moved between the woman in the suit and the man in combat fatigues. "To my left you have Emily Miura, Vice-President of accounting and granddaughter of Lain Miura." Matthius had seen a picture in the facility of Lain along with Deerfield and Aleksander Ruiz. Matthius could tell she had an air of intelligence to her and Ruiz and Miura were labelled as founders on the paintings, so her opinion was obviously important.

"To my right, we have Cole Ruiz, Commander of this facility and second cousin of Aleksander." Matthius sensed a bit of tension between Deerfield and Cole. The Commander took a moment to salute Matthius which felt more formal than respectful.

Deerfield continued behind the final new entrant, stepping up to the woman he knew as Ensign Vevich. "You've already met our Director of Intelligence Rachel Winters." Rachel excitedly cut in. "It's a pleasure to see you again Captain Stormfury. This time without the subterfuge." Matthius wasn't quite sure how to feel. After all that Deerfield had revealed, the events over the past 10 years seemed to imply nothing in his life was really what it had seemed for some time.

Deerfield moved and took a seat at the other end of the table just by the mini bar where Alexis was fixing drinks for the four new guests. Matthius sat across from them with all eyes on him.

"We still don't quite understand the full picture about the events in Vendetta. Only Agent Faulk whom we've lost track of three years ago and yourself returned from that day. What was in Vendetta? What happened to Karis Pennefeather?" Rachel queried.

Matthius took a long hard sip from his glass as he watched Alexis carrying a tray move from interviewer to interviewer. He struggled to hold back the emotions from five years ago.

"I suppose I have all of you and this Omi to thank for Vendetta." He placed the glass on the table. "We were holding off 4-5 Scythe while Faulk searched the Merchantman debris." He felt a tear betray him to his cheek. "Our orders were to escort and protect him. Both Our Hornets had taken quite a beating." He reached for the glass only to notice Alexis now pouring from the bottle she'd place there earlier.

"Allow me." She said softly as she started to pour.

"Two more Vanduul were approaching." He continued. "As soon as we arrived, I had Karis, and myself, program our exit jump coords, just in case." Alexis handed him the glass of Whiskey. Matthius took a long sip. It burned in his throat which felt like a noose was gripping it. "I'd just ordered Karis to emergency jump. Her F7A was in bad shape and I knew couldn't take much more." He replaced the glass on the table and thanked Alexis. More tears betrayed him but he pressed on. "I had always assumed it was Vanduul fire, a missile, damaged component, or something that had kil..." His voice trailed off and the group sat for a few moments. Matthius composed himself and continued. "Faulk cut in said some obscenities then jumped leaving us to fend for ourselves, completely ignoring protocol." silence. "But in that instant. She was gone."

Matthius took a deep breath and wiped his face with his sleeve. "I had been so angry that he left us to die, that the Vice Admiral seemed to want to send us to our death, Faulk could have given us support to deal with the last two or time to coordinate exiting the system. He'd taken no damage. Now to find out he'd been the reason for her death all along."

"The remote bomb." Deerfield added. Matthius nodded.

"And you're sure it was a Merchantman?" Rachel probed for more details.

"Yes, but we didn't have enough time to determine any markings and whoever destroyed that ship wanted it wiped out. I've never seen so many pieces and parts to a debris field."

The group continued to ask questions about Vendetta for another ten minutes. Eventually moving the conversation to Ballistic Logistics and how it operates, divisions and such. Matthius sat mostly silent lost to his thoughts. Deerfield wasn't sure he'd accept the position and was surprised he wasn't asking 100s of questions. This was his first time handing over the organization and was full of questions himself.

Twenty minutes more passed when Matthius broke into the conversation. "You've been grooming me for 15 plus years? One question... Why me?" Matthius wasn't sure but he thought he saw Cole Ruiz tense up.

Deerfield chuckled. "I won't insult your intelligence, Matthius. We've literally vetted 1,000s through agents like the one you know as old man Sundavold." He could see the faces of the other nodding in agreement. "Only a handful make it past the first two phases. Even then, more perish through war, or even acts of terrorism via our enemies. Fewer still have experience preventing our enemies plots but only you have survived a hand full of encounters with them. Quite simply Matthius, you're a survivor."

Matthius sat quietly for a few moments more. The group looked on unsure what to say or expect.

Matthius said softly, barley audible. "When do we start?"

Relieved, Deerfield smiled. "We've already begun."