Sir, you have mentioned losing the war twice now, with your vast experience fighting the swarm, is it really a possibility?
Jaldammarak sucks some air through his teeth. "The signs aren't good. But that doesn't mean we're finished. If you complete your patrols and report any and all pertinent intelligence back to me, I will make sure high command knows what us troopers are facing here on the ground."
Enoot can sense that the Major is holding something back.
After a few moments the vesk shakes his head and says, "I've been in a lot of battles in my time, and I've seen what the Swarm can do. It's not a matter of if this planet is going to fall... but how many Swarm we can kill before they eat us alive. Do you understand me, soldier?"
Sir, I know of your time in the Veskarium and your service with the Stewards. You have served with honor. If I may ask, what brought you out here?
"There's nothing I'm better at than swatting bugs. Wherever the Swarm shows their ugly faces, I'm there to punch them in. Fighting vexers is my one calling in life, by Damoritosh's doshko!
"Have I encountered these 'dredgers' before? What can you tell us about them?"
"Ah, they're nasty little critters. About the size of a khefak (Small), but they burrow right under you. They've got barbed jaws that latch onto you and take you down in a matter of moments. But just like any Swarm component, they die if you put enough rounds into them. My kill count is 112 since joining the war, but there always seem to be two more ready to take a dead one's place."
Is our first shift right now or do we have time to rest before our first shift?
"You have about one hour before I want you out the gates. I know this is stressful, but we're trying to get the upper hand here. I really want to know what the Swarm is up to before it's too late. We very well could lose this war."
"Sir, if we encounter swarm scouts, you want us to take care of them or disengage and report back first? I ask to be perfectly clear on our priorities, sir!"
"Take them out. If you don't kill them, they'll kill you or worse, follow you back to camp."
Sir, I would like to requisition a patrol vehicle with a planetary comm unit to enhance early warning and detection capability, as well as providing room for additional provisions.
"Sorry son, request denied. We have very few combat capable vehicles left, and the few that aren't currently deployed are being repaired to meet the next wave."
"I thought you might ask that. Go see the quartermaster to get some Wake-Up Patches. These things are potent, but they're like a shot in the heart, and will help prevent fatigue. They're perfectly safe to take... in the short term. Just be sure not to make it a habit."
A Wake-up Patch is level 2 item, 100 credits, L bulk. This patch delivers a cocktail of stimulants when applied to an appendage or torso as a standard action. After 1 minute, the person who received the patch gains a +2 circumstance bonus to saving throws against effects that cause the asleep condition and to Fortitude saves from sleep deprivation for 24 hours. If you use three wake-up patches in a week, you immediately gain the exhausted condition when the effects of the third patch wear off.
May I see the latest intel brief on the Delta Escarpment?
"Our latest reports show nothing, and that's hopefully what you will find. If you spot any evidence of creatures not native to Suskillon, report back immediately."
Do you have any suspicions as to what the swarm might be up to?
Major Sir, what do we know about this Delta Escaprment and about the recent retreat from these small cities? Could it be a feint for some other action?
"I've fought the Swarm on a handful of fronts, and every time, they were different. But even here on Suskillon, there's something... more cunning about these critters. Like they've got a purpose other than just killing everything in their field of view. We're seeing a number of new variations in their ranks, including the expendable scouts we're calling 'dredgers'."
Will we be provided with night vision equipment?
"I understand your request. Unfortunately, night vision equipment is about as rare as vehicles at the moment. Visit the quartermaster to make sure you have everything you'll need for 13 hours of patrol duty: a light source, clothing to withstand the cold weather, though your armor's environmental protections should be enough for the night. And perhaps something to help keep you awake."
The ready room is sparsely furnished. A table full of maps and datapads is flanked by two simple metal chairs.
An imposing vesk with dark green scales stands behind the desk as the team enters. His silvery spikes point forward, forming a sort of beard. One of his eyes has been replaced by a large cybernetic implant, giving off a bright orange glow. He inspects the team and their kit as they file into the chamber for a moment, before beginning to lecture:
"I am your new commanding officer, Jaldammarak, and I was killing Swarm before you were clutching your mothers' tails. I know more about this enemy than every soft-skin general in this system, and I know for a fact that we are losing this war. You've probably heard that over the last seven days, the Swarm has retreated from three smaller cities to the east of Brinnoa, and the media and the SDF alike are calling this a turning point for the war, but I know better. Those vexers are up to something, and I"m not letting the Fifth Battalion get caught with their spacesuits around their ankles.
You're now part of what I'm calling the Midnight Squad. For your first assignment, you'll patrol the Delta Escaprment a few miles west of Camp Cavalier from sundown to sun-up and report back with any unusual activity. Any questions?"
Feel free to barrage him with questions, and I'll answer them all at once.