It has been a couple of days since the marines were Debriefed after their close shave with the F.U.R.I.E. and Command wishes to send them out on their first mission.
As the C.O.s and N.C.O.s of their platoon all died in the cryo-tanks, and there isn't more than a squad of them left, Lt Louisa DeVries has been assigned their new 'Top'. DeVries has herself only recently been cleared to return to duty from medical, after receiving serious burns after her last drop ship insertion was hit by a incendry missile, which killed the rest of her squad. DeVries still has a series of skin grafts to come, but insisted she was fit for duty without them ("I don't need to be pretty to lead, as long as I can use a suit.").
DeVries also is glad to inform them that not all their fellows were killed in their cryo-pods as they first believed: there were a couple of marines who the trauma team were able to save. Of these, one has recently been declared fit for duty, and joins them on this mission: He is Reginald Bradigoggles, a good man for fixing things.
Lt DeVries begins the briefing:
"Ok squad, listen up. We are currently in the Ross 154 system, approx 9.4 light years from Earth. We're here because of the 4th planet in this system. It's official designation is Zeneca 72c (the 72nd claim put in for rights by the Astra-Zeneca phamacological group way back when the systems were up for grabs. The colonists call it 'Pharmacopia'. That's because the first survey team on planet found so many new drug types they started calling it pharmacopia, and the name stuck.
It is now home to several drug research and manufacturing companies, and numerous black market drug labs. It's estimated that 75% of the drug trade for the united systems comes from here, and 80% of the illegal drugs in the united systems were made here. The vast rainforest and hot climate makes it hard to spy on and track the drug cartels, and it is impossible to blockade the planet with the limited resourses the USF has at it's disposal.
That is why this ship was recently outfitted with 4 brand new S24 'Prowler' Stealth Recon scout ships. They have been constantly on missions to locate, track and log all drug cartel traffic. Unfortunately, a couple of hours ago, Prowler 4 stopped communicating. Command thinks that it may have been system fault, but there is a slight possibility that it was seen and shot down.
Our mission is to take a Rhino drop ship and set down close to Prowler 4's last recorded position; find the prowler, recover it's two man crew and either guard it until it can be salvaged or destroy it so that it's top secret stealth systems cannot be reverse engineered."
They all proceed to the launch bay, where the Rhino is waiting for them. It seems the mission is weighing heavily on their shoulders, because they do not even bother to get to know their pilot and co-pilot, instead checking their gear. Each marine has been issued a set of combat armour and a SMG, as well as various explosives for Alfred Jermaine to use on the Prowler if required.
The Rhino gets as close to the last position of the Prowler as possible, before dropping off the team. Lt. DeVries stays on board the Rhino as over-watch, telling them to call for air cover if needed. The team take cover as the Rhino launches into the air, before moving out to the last position of the Prowler.
As they make their way through the jungle, the team come across a camouflaged cable, designed to look like a vine. It appears to have been charred by an electrical impulse, and lays across a ridge. Cameron climbs up the ridge, to find some kind of barrage balloon at the end of the tether, again looking charred. From the ridge he can see a gouge running off into the jungle, as if something had crashed. Thinking that this would be the most likely place to look first, the team head down this gouge.
As they are heading out, Alfred ( who is on point) sees something glitter in the sunlight. Holding up his hand to halt the team, he checks it out. He finds several spent shotgun casings. Bemused, he wonders who would try and take out a Prowler with a shotgun. However, there is nobody around, so the team carry on.
After a short while, they come across the damaged Prowler. It has severe electrical damage and its ailerons are wrecked. The ship appears intact, so they enter through the aft airlock, and check out the interior of the machine.
With no power, they have to use the manual opener on the airlock, but it opens easily. Reginald looks for an access port to the main computer, and tries to re-boot the system. Alfred and Cameron head for the cockpit. There they find the unconscious co-pilot, but no pilot. Cameron is able to treat the co-pilot, and he rouses.
The co-pilot reveals that they were flying quite low when they hit something small, which must have grounded out the electrical field on the skin of the prowler, causing it to lose its stealth systems. At that moment, they were shot at from the ground, which must have damaged the ailerons, because the controls were jammed. The pilot tried to level them out, but they hit the ground and slid quite some way. The co-pilot hit his head upon impact.
Alfred asks the co-pilot where the pilot would be, and he replies that possibly he would have gone to find a high place from which to try and contact control. This is when they realise that the Starboard airlock is already open, with a bloody hand-print on the manual opener.
Reginald manages to get comms up and running, and informs the Rhino that the Prowler is recoverable. Lt. DeVries replied that a lifter is on it's way, and the Rhino will remain with the Prowler until it gets there. Alfred tells her that the team are going out to look for the pilot.
The pilot is easy to track, and the marine team make good progress. This is soon ended, however, when the tracks are crossed by a vehicle, which seems to have picked him up. Following the vehicle tracks leads them to a hidden warehouse, but before they get closer, they come under fire.
Using the jungle as cover, they get closer to the Warehouse. A group of Drug runners belonging to one of the major cartels on the planet are firing indiscriminately in the direction the marines came in by. The team open fire, and a firefight ensues.
After a lengthy firefight, in which Alfred is wounded, The team make it to the warehouse. Inside they find the missing pilot, bound and gagged. He is glad to see the team, because the drug runners were about to torture him for information about Fleet maneuvers, in order to evade the patrols.
The team free the pilot, and return to the Prowler. The Prowler is picked up, and the team return to the StarBreaker in their Rhino…
Fleet intelligence informs the team that the Drug runners belonged to the Escovar Cartel, which is one of the Cartels that the StarBreaker is tasked with breaking up. The information the Prowler gained on the cartel is being evaluated now….