I brushed the striking fist aside and turned as I struck with a knife hand. It went over the arm and into the neck and the man went back and down. I continued to turn and slid to the side as another man snapped a kick through where I had been. My hand swept up as I side stepped and I lifted the leg until the man crashed to the floor.
I kicked out and down into his throat before looking around. Eight men were scattered around the room spasming as they died. I straightened and turned to bow to the old man in the corner. The room and world vanished and I sat up and removed the head net, "they seemed slow master."
The old man stood smoothly and smiled, "they were moving a third faster than normal. You are ready."
I stood and bowed, "thank you sir."
I left and went to shower and change before looking around my suite. I walked out carrying a single bag and acknowledged the guards along the way. The fleet base was busy but the single complex was isolated and at the edge of their port with a wild looking jungle area. The fleet security guard looked at me strangely and did more than double check my ID.
I smiled at the ensign as she let the officer in the other office know I was there. I knocked and waited and a moment later heard a man call out, "come!"
I opened the door and walked into the room and crossed to the desk. The man sitting behind it wore the uniform of an admiral. He sat back as he looked at me and finally gestured to a chair, "have a seat."
I sat and he shifted and lifted a comp screen and looked at it, "how did you manage to get your application through the process?"
I smiled, "I know you are a busy man. By now you know the name is not exactly real and have started a more through check. I am sure you should be getting a call from imperial security to explain."
He looked at me for another minute before nodding, "since you are here can you tell me what you believe is the most important thing or skill a special operation soldier should have?"
I glanced at the weapons on the walls, "I believe it is the ability to think and make decisions quickly and keep going no matter what."
I looked at the surprised admiral, "skill with weapons is important but anyone can use weapons. Looking at the situation and deciding if a weapon is needed and which to use is a skill. You should also know when not to use a weapon."
He smiled, "and you think you are qualified to be in special operations?"
I stood and turned to the door as the ensign opened it, "I believe I have the skills you need."
The next six months were intense, most days lasted twenty hours or more. The class started with almost a thousand men, all from fleet or the marines. One a hundred were left after the first month and ten after three and finally only three of us. The other two were from the marines, one had been a sergeant and the other a corporal.
Before I had started I had to be sworn in which the admiral did in private with a full fleet admiral as a witness. I rode in the supply ship and took the supply shuttle across to the small converted strike carrier that housed team three. I shouldered a duffle and picked up another as the shuttle docked.
I headed to the large cargo hatch as the crew began opening the two hatches. I nodded to the chief as I left and stepped onto the Sweet Maire. I set the duffle down and came to attention and saluted the ship's ensign. I turned and saluted a lieutenant that looked surprised, "ensign Saint James reporting aboard sir."
He returned my salute, "we were not expecting anyone."
I nodded as I bent to grab the duffle, "I need to report to the team commander."
He blinked before grinning, "you are a little young for special operations but if you made it through the training you must be good."
He turned, "head forward and up. The team quarters are on level three."
I nodded and headed into the ship and up a couple of levels before going forward. I pushed open a closed hatch and walked into a large common room and glanced at the men lounging around. I ignored all but one who was building a model ship to one side.
I set my bags down and crossed to him and came to attention, "ensign Devlin Saint James reporting for duty sir."
He glanced back before blinking as everyone went silent. He turned and looked me over from feet to head, "they said you were young but I was not expecting this."
I waited and he smiled as he looked around, "gentlemen this is the last class leader. Brown he is yours."
I looked around as a white haired man leaned back and turned his head, "lieutenant Grand?"
A young man stood, "looks like you belong to me newbie."
He turned and headed for a hallway, "grab your things."
I returned to the hatch and grabbed my bags and started to follow him. Each team had a commander in charge of two lieutenant commanders. Each lieutenant commander ran two wings with two full lieutenants as wing leaders. Lieutenant Grand was my wing leader and there was a lieutenant junior grade that completed our wing.
In two weeks of intense virtual training the men in the team had come to know my abilities. I had just returned from a shower after a real session of unarmed combat with lieutenant commander Brown. I turned when commander Ekerson cleared his throat. He was looking at me, "we have a mission and as the newest member of the team you are going to plan it."
I looked at everyone staring at me and stood, "to evaluate me."
The commander grinned, "yes."
I shrugged as I headed towards the other hatch, "so lets get the show on the road."
The mission was simple and yet complex. We had to slip into a system undetected and land close to the system capital and rescue or kidnap a man the government would be watching. I listened to what we had to do and thought before grinning, "okay."
I leaned over the holo table in the planning room and input the system. I looked around at the others, "first we are going to use the small stealth shuttle..."
Lieutenant Allen cleared his throat and two others bumped his shoulder. I grinned and glanced around, "now the shuttle is not large enough for all of us to last the seven days it will take."
Someone else shifted and was bumped and I grinned, "it will hold and support sixteen stasis tubes and the supplies we will need. We will take turns awake, two on a twenty four hour shift and then sleep for eight before returning to stasis."
I looked at the team, "do you know what the Ellington skip is?"
They glanced at each other and commander Ekerson leaned onto the table, "I know but how do you?"
I smiled, "lets just say I was there when the federation system scout was debriefed."
He looked at me as the others looked around, "only the emperor and..."
He glanced at the others and I smiled, "I know you probably have orders for me if certain things were to ever happen."
He nodded and I shrugged, "lets just say I was present."
I looked around at the others, "the Ellington skip is what a federation system scout uses. I can go over the procedures later. Once we reach the planet we go in at night..."
I glanced at lieutenant Grand as he was bumped, "we enter on the far side over the ocean. We descend to under a thousand meters and slow to the planets rotation speed. We slowly drop lower when we get closer. Behind the city capital building and about five kilometers away is a nature preserve."
I grinned, "mostly it is swamp but there is a small clearing where emergency vehicles can land, that is where we are going to land. First thing in the morning is a mass breakfast where our target will have to attend."
I looked at lieutenant commander Jorge, "your wings will have the job of securing the route in and out. They need to do it without anyone noticing."
I zoomed in the holograph and reached out, "this is..."
The next hour I went over my plan before I looked at everyone. The commander chuckled, "I will be damned. He is the first to make it through the planning phase with a solid plan."
They laughed as I looked around and lieutenant JG Harris hit my shoulder, "this would be where we pick your plan apart and shred it."
They laughed and I grinned, "but?"
The commander bent over the table, "but now we start filling in the details."
The next day the shuttle slipped out of the carrier and I started going over the new skip procedure. We accelerated the skip times as we moved into the system. We dropped through and descended over a dark ocean before turning to head for our landing site. The whole rehearsal went smoothly and the second went better and the third was perfect.
The mission went almost like we planned and once the man we had come for was in the stasis tube we lifted and headed away and then up. Seven days in, a quarter day on the planet and seven days out. When we started off the shuttle the commander was leading the man as a party of brass entered the bay.
I smiled at one that was a civilian as he looked at me and nodded. A fleet admiral was the one to debrief us and when we finished he tossed a set of rank to the commander. We returned to our common room and I stretched as I started for my room and a cold shower. Lieutenant Grand caught my shoulder and turned me.
The others were grinning as the commander crossed the room and removed the ensign rank from my uniform. He replaced them with a lieutenant JG and struck my chest, "welcome to team three."
.... There is more of this story ...