Episode 2: Fear, Resolution
At different moments I could feel my heartbeat. Before leaving the hangar bay, while fighting against the enemy fighters and now tumbling through space. Each beat clear in my head. My eyes were closed the spinning and the lack of a reference point caused an intense disorientation. In a blind manner I searched with my hands the console for the right buttons. I needed to restart the ship or else I would continue on my errant journey.
A few minutes passed, my eyes opened, I nearly panicked. Then, to my surprise the instruments on the console began to light up, the ship was preparing to right its course. A variety of alarms warned me that the energy shielding was gone, any debris would cause direct hull damage. Stabilizers active, I took control back and began my return to the carrier. As I made my approach the carnage of the battle was all the more evident. Pieces of fighters, both allied and enemy, floated around the carrier. Much of the ship’s internal support frame could be seen as if a creature had carved a wound with a spike. Communications were back online, I quickly reached out to see if anyone of my squadron was alive.
“This is Ensign Adrian reporting in, squadron Sigma do you read?”, the rhythmic beat of my heart almost interrupted my hearing and then a sigh of relief.
“Adrian, this is the Chief, you did well, we will be alright. Head back to hangar bay sixteen, we’re on our way as well.”
My ship landed, Vivian was waiting out of the control room watching as what remained of the squadron arrived. Seven of us left the hangar bay, four returned. I took off my helmet, began the final shut down procedures and slowly made my way out. As I left the cockpit Vivian looked my way.
“Oh my goodness! Adrian?!”, there was a hint of joy in her voice.
“Vivian! I had seen you before leaving, but the circumstances were… adverse for conversation.”
“This was very unexpected, but seeing you here makes me glad I chose to serve here. Did you enter with the new recruits?”
The Hangar Chief and the other technicians gathered near us.
“Kid that was one hell of risk you took there, I commend you for your bravery. The name’s Mara.”, there was some surprise among all of us, the chief was privy of her name. Chief Mara left for the control room. A few minutes later Vivian explained that the chief was a very reserved woman.
“She had a rough childhood, or at least so it is rumored.”, Vivian made the comment while keeping a lookout.
In the short time we spent at the control room we exchanged a number of stories. Vivian had left the academy for another one at the Sirius system. Once there she received training in piloting and technical support. She requested to be assigned to the Centauri force because she was much more familiar with the star charts of this region. Our carrier, the Proxima Eclipse, was said to be the best to be stationed in. “So much for that”, I thought.
Our talk gave me great relief from the stressful situation from earlier. Soon it was time to return to our duties but not before one last event. A call to all the crew was issued for us to report to the nearest briefing room. Once at the room we were given a report by the captain herself.
“To those of you who took off to battle our enemy I am glad that you were able to return to us safely. This battle was a great test, this enemy is unknown to us but rest assured that we will find out who they are and bring them to justice!”, the room exploded in cheers. I was slightly puzzled, the soldiers must admire the captain greatly to devote themselves like this. I did not share the sentiment but felt somewhat sympathetic with the captain, she had lost a large portion of her crew.
I had spent hours making repairs and verifying the systems of the ship I flew. Before the end of my shift I received a direct message from the bridge.
“Ensign Adrian, the captain wants to meet with you, report to the bridge immediately.”
“Yes sir.”, my reply was perhaps a bit monotonous, I was very tired from all that had happened.
My arrival at the bridge was delayed, the only working transport rail was at a higher deck. Once there though I was greeted by the lieutenant that had contacted me. We proceeded to where the captain stood watching a video transmission from another ship that was investigating the damage.
“Well, Ensign Adrian Greer, hmm. You did a good job out there, certainly your family must be proud. I am curious though, as to why were your piloting scores so… average in the academy reports. I’ve studied your scores in detail. Surely there was a mistake.”, she suspected of my skills, this I could easily see, but I was not about to reveal the extent of my talents.
“No ma’am, it was a lucky shot.”
“Yet you broke off from your mission for this ‘lucky shot’. Regardless of what happened your actions endangered your allies. On the other hand you may have saved this ship from oblivion. I will be watching you Ensign, dismissed!”
This could be trouble. I made my way back to my quarters, if they were still there. Many of the crew quarters were destroyed by the powerful blast. I was relieved though that my assigned quarters were much closer to hangar bay sixteen than I thought, and thus they were safe. The few belongings I was allowed to bring had been placed there by someone. I looked at the small access terminal that could be used for research. I decided I would learn more of the ship and its crew.
Captain Patricia Villanova was the leader of this mighty vessel. The carrier called Proxima Eclipse launched from Centauri Starlance One after six months of construction. The latest technologies were implemented in its assembly and design. State of the art energy shielding and weaponry, this was to be the new strong arm of Starlance. The long list of crew was too extensive to read so I closed the monitor and sat at the small bed.
The beeping of the communications system alerted me of the arrival of a message, in fact two.
“Good job little brother, it seems you have gained the attention of the captain. She was kind enough to inform me that you are still in good health. Perhaps I should tell father? Nevermind, I have a very busy schedule. Stay alive.”
Dear sweet Anabelle, I could feel that envy of hers rushing towards me. I don’t know how she would handle my death, I am often scared to think that she might actually enjoy it. Just thinking that the next message could be my brother was enough to make me hesitate. I pressed a button to access the second message. My eyes opened wide when I heard the shy little voice. My breathing slowed down, I focused and listened intently.
“Hello Adrian, I received word that you would be boarding the Proxima Eclipse so I prepared this message for you. I am glad that you’re still around and not being bossed by dad. I’ve had such freedom after leaving home I think I may not ever go back, except for mother of course. I fear for her Adrian, It has been too much time since I left, I miss her and I miss you.”
Dana, hearing your voice again made me rekindle that love for my family, limited as it is. She is the only other person, aside from mother, that I appreciate greatly. The message was silent for about a minute and then she continued.
“There’s something I have to tell you, I am risking my life as is but you must hear this. There is turmoil within the ranks of Starlance. There are rumors of a group that wants to take over and cause chaos in the Proxima and Alpha Centauri systems. Some people are joining up to prepare for what may come. I have good allies here, they will protect me, but you are practically alone out there. Please, be careful.”
An intense feeling of worry washed over me. I dreaded the idea of how all this could turn so bad in such a short time. I knew father had dealt with uprisings before, though not in the most civil manners. When a small group tried to form they were often labeled as rebels, traitors and mercenaries. This turned them into enemies of Starlance, they became a new target for destruction. A greater number of groups meant that Starlance was falling apart, but how to determine what would happen?
My thoughts turned to the fighter I used. I remembered the hull damage I saw, then it dawned on me, the pilots did not file any reports on aggression of any kind. I opened up the monitor once again. A search through the reports confirmed my suspicions, something had happened that later triggered the attack on Proxima Eclipse. I knew few people I could trust, so I decided that for now I would work on my own to unravel this mystery. There were traitors within the ranks of the Starlance. Then one dreadful thought overcame me. If the Starlance Security Force fell what would happen to the colonies, the mining operations, the commercial trade routes and everything else under its protectorate? There was no way of predicting the result of such an event. The Starlance was a powerful military group but at many times their actions have brought trouble to the colonies. On the one part there is a rampant pirate group that harass and steal from unprotected commercial transports. This system is also home to a multitude of mercenaries ready to pledge their skills and resources to the highest bidders. There are also many political factions, none of them with significant military power but given the opportunity they would show their true colors.
I lie down on the bed, my mind busy contemplating the future. Tomorrow was going to be a very busy day. I looked at the clock, it is 23:27. My goodness, that was one difficult work shift. I fell asleep, not by ease of mind but by the exhaustion of my body.