An elite military corps of the United Nations. The odds were against long-term survival in the Pathfinders and few saw their luck hold for long. Most did not make it whole after the Secession War.

When intelligence learned about the development of Hype, Lewis Tyrell, commander of the Fourth Platoon, was tasked to penetrate an Alliance facility in the Sierra Nevadas, acquire as much information as possible, secure a sample of the drug, before destroying the facility and its staff.

Carrying 75kg of combat gear, the platoon took off in a graceful, deadly assault transport. The flight to the Pacific coast of North America took 8 hours.

Tyrell and his unit walked in across more than 100 km, or 3 nights of forced march, on mountain and desert, always forcing the pace. At daybreak they rested beneath draped camfiber. They carried everything, even bodily waste, which they dumpeded it only at rivers.

On the second night, in the Tehachapi valley, the rearguard spotted a gunship coming over a ridge. They went to ground beneath the desert scrub. Even after it passed directly over them, they remained motionless in place. Their camfiber combat uniform matched their infrared output to the background by dumping waste heat into chemical chill cans, consisting them invisible as long as they remained still. After an hour, Tyrell gave the signal and then had to force the pace to reach the daybreak objective.

Knowing from Intelligence that sentries in a skimjeep routinelly check for animals raising the alarm, they located a a 100-meter front where the perimeter sensor strip entered a small depression and deliberately triggered the proximity alarm several times. The skimjeep arrived, reported the area clear, and then the Pathfinders killed the with their bayonets and two of the 1st section mounted it.

Once the gate guards opened the barriers to the skimjeep, they were killed by the rest of the 1st section with a magrifle 800 meters beyond the perimeter and sprinted for the gates shooting against the sentries in the towers nearest the gate. 3rd section moved its support weapons out of the underbrush and into positions to cover the 2nd section as it followed.

Immediately they entered the research building. 1st section sentries posted at the intersections guided 2nd section led by Tyrell through the front doors and down the corridors to the main lab which they ransacked for documents and a sample of Hype. The demolition team began setting their charges.

main battle tanks and a platoon of combat skimmers covered the central compound. A hypersonic blast of a shoulder-fired kinetic energy missile shook the building, followed by the crackle of magrifles and another blast from a tank. 1st section called for anti-tank rounds and the 3rd section responded with their support weapons. Tyrell gave the order to 2nd section to evacuate as he continued searching. Hastily, he opened a sealed cabinet with a detpak. He glimpsed an intact vial as he prepared to leave, labeled as HYPE 1131.

He joined 2nd section leader outside the lab door and ran down the corridor. 2nd section was already outside and secured the platoon's retreat from the next fallback point. A lance of KEM fire was seen from the hillside beyond the main gate. Across the valley a gunship exploded into flames and another pumped cannon fire back at the hillside as the remnants of the 3rd section retreated. Valdi was killed and Tyrell stood up with hands above his head. The survivors, badly wounded, were taken to a storage shed converted to a makeshift guardhouse. They helped their wounded, and twice during the night members of 3rd section were thrown in. By daybreak there were 14 of them and by noon 2 had died. That evening they were sadistically beaten. That evening Tyrell was taken by the Security Intelligence Service.

5 years later the 12 survivors of the Fourth Platoon had a reunion and talked about their past successes and drank to the memory of their dead companions. It was then when Tyrell revealed that their last mission was a success, despite the outcome of the war, as he had still with him the Hype vial.

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