I tap at the computer attached to my Iron's wrist and watch as the minutes of this operation count down to zero. T - 57 minutes and counting until the objective has zero oxygen — well, at least according to the game briefing. I scan the theater of operations for any signs of the unit and come up blank.
"They're late," I announce to Tek, who's standing next to me, "if we can't trust Burnham to lead a company in a war game, how the hell can we trust him in the field?"
I scan the field again — it was once a lush forest housing a temple to that heretical sect, the Church of the Eternal Dream, before the Mundus Humanitas scorched the atmosphere, and burned it all to the ground. Now the mostly barren wasteland before us is an ashen jungle of charcoal, chromatic pools of acetic water, volcanic mud, and jutting ruins of the aforementioned temple, now half buried in the ground. A gust of wind peppers my Iron with pebbles and dust. I adjust my footing, and the crunch of dust under my feet reverberates up my suit. I check my rifle — it hasn't been used much lately. I consider going out to ambush Alpha company.
It has been several weeks since we've taken a contract from the Lord Steward in an effort to let them twist in the wind for a bit. They've been a significant improvement over their predecessor, but they have a tendency to monopolize our time if I don't take measures to prevent it, and I didn't leave the service to contract out to them exclusively. These war games were the perfect excuse to ignore some missives and be out from under the terraformers' oppressive, imposing shadow. I know they're returning this world to its natural state, but the price tag attached to them seems to be climbing every day.
A small iridescent lizard about five inches long skitters across the ground, pausing long enough to hiss at me before diving under a rock. I turn to Tek, and motion to the field. "Should we go find them?"