Two weeks before Landown invasion…

The situation was getting worst now. Doubts flooded his mind of winning this war. Maybe a few years back the COG could have won the war over the Locust, but now…there are things that the COG had never seen before that emerged out of the Hollow; new creatures, soldiers, and weapons.

Lieutenant Colonel Wade Kinsley walked down the empty, dim corridors of HQ, dressed in traditional Gear uniform; grey uniform, tagged with multiple rainbows of campaign ribbons, grey trousers, and a Snub pistol holstered at his hip.

He was called for a meeting and headed for Spec Ops room. As he approached the thick metal door, Kinsley got a biometrics scanning; his palm and retina. With approval, the door buzzed and hissed open.

Kinsley entered, closing the door behind him. Inside the heavy shadowed room was Chairman Richard Prescott, Command's Operation Expert Anya Stroud, and Colonel Hoffman himself, in full battle gear as usual; it was like the armor was his second skin.

The room entrance had sealed air tight, automatically. Kinsley quickly looked over his shoulder to the door, then turned his attention back to the three.

"Good evening, Lieutenant Colonel Kinsley," The Chairman said, extending out his hand.

Kinsley gripped Prescott's hand and shook. "Good evening, sir." Along with Anya's and the Colonel's.

"Sorry to pull you away from whatever you were doing," Prescott said. "But we called you here for an urgent meeting.

"We've got a mission for you." he continued. A holographic map of a city popped up from the center table.

A city surrounded by high walls was in ruins. Buildings all everywhere crumbled. Out of three dozen skyscrapers only a quarter still stood. The urban areas were deserted and columns of black smoke filled the air. This city was once known for its rich culture and love of the arts. Most of Sera's population was concentrated in Montevado.

"Montevado, sir?" Kinsley stated. "You want me to defend it?"

"No," Hoffman said. "We already have a man on that mission. We want you to lead the assault derricks to Landown while the Locusts are distracted with us."

"This operation is highly classified," Anya cut in. "So, lips are sealed once you leave this room. Understand?"

Kinsley nodded. "How many men and women are station at Montevado?" the Lieutenant Colonel asked.

"Approximately…" Prescott started and looked at both Anya and Hoffman for the answer.

"Ten thousand troops," Hoffman finished. And with a grin, he add, "I'll be the one station with our boys and girls; giving you time to reach Landown."

Again, Kinsley nodded. I should be at Montevado when the invasion begins, he thought. But if the COG wants me on a mission then that's what I will do.

"Is that it, sir?" he asked.

"No," Anya said. "The reason why this mission is classified is because, we think there's a trader in the COG; giving information to the Locusts. And if we're right, that trader will either be at Montevado, where they won't know about the operation or with the assault derrick; giving them all the information they need; location, ETA, and our strength."

"That seems like a big stretch, ma'am," Kinsley said. "If it is true-"

He voice cutoff. All the pieces started to fit together. The falls of Jilane, Berephus and Tollen. This couldn't be a coincidence…

"I understand," he nodded. "When will the invasion begin?"

"In two weeks," the three said in unison.

"You will be riding with Echo squad," Hoffman said. "Alan Bane is your driver's name. But just call him Al."

Kinsley nodded. "Is that all?"

"Yes, Lieutenant Colonel." Prescott said. "You are dismissed."

"Aye aye, sir," Kinsley snapped to attention and saluted his superiors.

The metal door automatically unlocked and Kinsley exited the room. Walking through the deserted corridors, back to his office, Kinsley would have never thought of a trader in the COG. Why would one of their own betray the human race? And to the race that wanted to wipe out all humanity? Were they being rewarded? The grant of their families' safety? Or was all for greed?

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Prescott looked to Anya and Hoffman with fatigue in his eyes.

"No one will ever know what happened to these men," he said, "if this operations goes wrong."

"Yes. But it's all for the sake of humanity, sir," Anya reassured. "This operation is going to be the first of many that is going to be a disaster. You might as well give a speech to those who are headed to Landown, sir."

Prescott nodded.