January 4th, 2013
It had been two days before when Divina and the Jersey Devil had been sent to Bamako, Mali at the request from the French for some Crusader support. Currently, they were flying towards a supply stronghold of the Islamist militia that had taken control of northern Mali. The goal was simple: disrupt or destroy what they could to give the French a chance of taking back control of the country before it completely destabilized in the wrong direction. As they raced across the sky, their thoughts turned back to the briefing.
Forty-eight hours ago...
It was in the early afternoon when the duo had been called to the conference room at the New York base of operations. The television was on one of the mainstream media networks covering the situation in Mali. Shannon Scott was standing off to one side of the table seemingly listening to the news report as she prepped a communication device in the middle of the table. Meanwhile, a woman with red hair had her eyes glued to the screen shaking her head and muttering. "This is getting more and more messy. I guess we'll have to see if you are worth the hype."
"Lila, we've been worth more than the hype for longer than you may realize. ... It seems both of people that have been assigned this mission have arrived. Divina and Jersey Devil, this is Lila Cosgrove, our new UN liaison. Take a seat, you can get acquainted after the briefing." She spoke with definite British lilt that Airborne once termed 'sexy librarian talk' right before she planted a jab to his eye. Looking up, she gave them a professional smile. Tapping a couple of buttons on the console caused the TV to shut off as a three dimensional screen appeared above the conference table.
Lila stepped toward the table and took a seat. Her demeanor was one of implied professionalism, although Diana's could easily hear the nervousness in her head. She had never been in the building before and was slightly unnerved even if she did not show it. Shannon started the briefing.
"The situation in Mali has deteriorated over the last year. Since March, there has been a civil war of sorts with the government failing to deal with rebels who have gotten stronger every day. In September, Tuareg rebels seized control of an area of northern Mali and no one panicked because they just wanted their own area. They were never recognized as their own country like they wanted.
In December, several groups of Islamists moved into that same area and took it over. They've been attempted to set up Sharia law which was forbidden under the secular Constitution of Mali. Like the US Constitution, they have freedom of religion but these fundamentalists are trying to change that. Thanks to our networks, we have confirmed they are in fact Al Qaeda and this following a pattern of Syria, Egypt, Libya, and so on. The French have sent military forces into the area and are requesting some kind of backup from us for a short time."
Lila spoke up quickly, almost interrupting, certainly eager. "The French have the backing of the UN Security Council to involve the Crusaders on a short term basis at the moment. The Moroccan Ambassador on the UNSC has stated whatever air travel the Crusaders need to take they are welcome to land and refuel in Marrakech before heading on to Bamako in Mali to meet with the French Command. This is a big deal for them beyond being a former colony. A sizable percentage of the gold of Mali is exported to France right now and losing that industry would be bad international trade. ...
Although I'm not too sure why you two were chosen. What about the more prominent members?" Lila's tone had been mostly that of a routine businesswoman until the last question which came out almost as an insult and slightly condescending.
Before Diana or John could say something, Shannon spoke up quickly with sense of authority as she gave Lila a stern look like a mother to a child who wants a cookie right before dinner. "Every member of this organization works. The Crusaders you are wanting on this are previously engaged. Jersey Devil has been more than competent for a while now and Divina's mentor has assured me she is ready to head back into the field." Lila seemed slightly astonished she was talked to in such a fashion but quickly gained her composure.
Turning back to the duo, Shannon continued with her briefing. "Your timeframe on this two weeks. You are to focus primarily on disrupting supply lines and taking out any mountain strongholds. Devil, you should know Al Qaeda has demonstrated they have heat seeking surface to air missiles so you may be a target of opportunity. Now then, your contact in the French military is an officer named Lt. Colonel Valentin Villefort and he will have any maps of the area that the French Air Force has gotten through aerial surveillance. Now, are there any questions I, er, we can get out of the way for you?" Shannon gathered up the paperwork she had been referencing and turned off the display on the table.
Forty-eight hours and twenty minutes ago
"This is it..." Diana thought to herself as she finished putting up her new and re-vamped Crusader uniform. This one had more protection against bullets and knifes then her former one. It covered more of her body, but she was finally agreeing with Gerhart and Kumba that sometimes more was more sensual then less. Who would imagine that those two men had such good fashion taste.
Diana couldn't help but smile as she thought in the conversation she had with Gerhart, Kumba and Caesar when they gave her clearance and deemed her fit to be back at full operative work. The three of them, had made her tests hard and Caesar even tried to mess with a bullet, to see if she had already surpassed the trauma of being shot. It had been a long recovery but she was stubborn as hell and would not allow herself to stay dormant. No she had fall and she got up again. She knew she had been deemed ready by Caesar when he gave her one of his smirks. The perks of knowing the man for so many years.
Ten minutes ago, she was informed that she would go on a covert operation with another member of the organization. For reasons she was still gathering why, most of the three teams that were operational when she got shot, had been shut down and the member with whom she was going to tag along was a member of Australia team. So as soon she got the message she went to the locker room and started getting ready.
She then preceded to move at a steady pace to the conference room, where she would be given more information about the mission, that she had been assigned to. When she reached the door Diana gave a smile to the tall, good looking blond man that was already there. "Hello! I'm Divina. I guess I'll be your partner for this mission." The dark-haired telepath introduced herself with a broad smile and extended her hand towards the cute blond man. Before entering the room, Diana gave a deep breath as she shacked the nervousness that she felt for a moment. She was going back on the adventure.
As both of them entered the room they were greeted by Shannon Scott. Diana gave her a slight head bow and then looked at the woman who was the organization new Liaison with the UN. As Shannon introduced the woman, Diana realized who Ms Cosgrove was. Diana shared with the woman the fact that they were both born on political families. As Shannon started the meeting, while her and Jersey Devil took their seats, the telepath noticed how serious the situation really was. The attempt to her live had made a few transformations on her care free personality. She was now more quiet and centered as well more ruthless. So very unlike her old self, Diana analysed in silence every piece of information she was being given.
At same time she could feel the mixture of emotions coming from Lilla Cosgrove. The woman thoughts and emotions, were being like screams and even a low-telepath would hear them, even if they didn't want to read the woman mind. The woman seemed to have a few qualms about her and Jersey Devil. And that was actually annoying Diana, who was not disguising her facial expressions.
It was then that the woman finally worded out-loud her hostility and Diana raised her eyebrow to the rude tone of the woman voice and was about to reply to Lilla, when Shannon spoke first and defended both of them. Diana liked Shannon when she first meet the woman after coming out of her coma, but right now she was loving Shannon. Diana gave Lilla a glare and a smirk, as the liaison was stunned with the authority in Shannon voice. Lilla luck, was that Shannon decided to move with the meeting and started giving her and John their mission objectives, cause Diana would love to see Shannon chew the woman a bit more.
Once Shannon began stating their directives, Diana remained quiet as she absorbed the information that was being given to them. Her face was now serious and focused and she was ignoring Lilla. This was going to be her first mission after a year and she didn't want to look like a rookie.