Episode 7: Edge of Proxima
Three more months of skirmishes. By now, neighboring systems were reporting an all out war between the Starlance Security Force and the Centauri Liberation Front. Many of these systems worried that, should Starlance’s ambition grow, they would be the next target. We folded most of our forces into the CLF not long after the destruction of the Supremacy Cruiser back in sector Gamma. I provided proof that those ships were not invincible. Starlance supply lines were also being hit hard by a counter offensive launched by the Liberation Front. This also held back the construction of additional cruisers. Despite some of the changes I remained a mercenary, mainly to retain my independence and a little to spite Ivanov who wanted to keep me as a personal guard for the King’s Crown. Jokes aside, being a mercenary provided the chance to take on jobs from other groups. Namely, a Sirius research fleet was dispatched to an area of open space and asked for a small fleet of fighters to escort them. Since the news of the war broke, none of them wanted to hire Starlance until the conflict was resolved. So, they turned to unaffiliated mercenaries. Now, I may not be affiliated with the Liberation Front, but I fully support their campaign against Starlance.
The Sirius research fleet is mainly composed of science vessels. Most, if any, have no weapons equipped. Thankfully, the area they’re traveling through is a fairly quiet region of space, at the edge of the Proxima Centauri system. I just arrived at the rendezvous point to meet with the other mercenaries and begin our escort.
“This is Adrian, sending identification data. Ready to begin mission”
“Copy that Adrian. Data received, we will be departing to our next research point in a few minutes”, the leader of the science team was diligent in verifying all the mercenaries they hired. They also provided us with the list so we had some idea of who we were fighting with. Lo and behold, I found a name that I recognized, Vivian Mathews. I was quick to send her a message. Maybe we could catch up if the trip was quiet.
As we approached a large nebula, I received a communication request from one of the assault ships accompanying us. It was Vivian.
“I would never have guessed that I would be seeing you again, Adrian. Even more so, like this, as mercenaries. How have you been?”. It was Vivian alright. She seemed in high spirits.
“I’ve been alright. Too many battles to count recently”
“Yeah, I’ve kept an eye on the ongoing war. Frankly after what happened at the Proxima Eclipse I didn’t think I would see anyone from there still alive. I’m glad you survived though. I escaped thanks to Captain Villanova’s sacrifice. She stayed behind and made sure most of us were able to leave the ship. I ended up moving to the Sirius system and took up different jobs as a mechanic. This latest gig has been the most stable. Been working with this band of misfits for almost six months now”
“I see, I’m also glad to find you well”, I spoke about my own misadventures. Mercenary work seems slightly more regulated in Sirius. They even have guilds, or so Vivian tells me. Their involvement in more political disputes is often avoided. Perhaps that could be my next step. Move to that system, join a guild, maybe even join up with Vivian more often. As I got lost in thought, the beeping of a warning startled me back to reality. Two battleships had just jumped into the system.
“Honestly, I don’t care about the usual pleasantries the other captains blab about. This is Starlance territory. None of you are welcome here. Prepare to surrender your ships, research or whatever it is you are hiding. We are at open war, you might as well be aiding our enemy”
The lead science vessel sent a message trying to convince them that they had no hostile intentions, but the Starlance captain would not budge. As quickly as they could, the research fleet began to retreat while we covered their backs. One smaller science vessel was closely studying the nebula, and thus, had not been able to communicate. I took it upon myself to get close to them and inform them of the situation. Bad move on my part. The battleships were scanning the entire area and very quickly they realized who I was.
“You! How dare you harbor a known criminal! Destroy them! Launch all fighter squadrons!”
“Looks like my reputation caught up with me. Vivian, do you copy?”
“Don’t worry Adrian, we’ve got a few tools on our side to protect them. Get that other ship out of here”
In a few minutes I arrived near the science vessel to warn them.
“Mercenary Adrian, you are interfering with our research. Your presence is destabilizing our measurements. By the way, that is a lot of power consump…”
“Forget all that, a Starlance assault is happening now against your fleet. Join back up with them and leave. It is no longer safe here for you to remain”
“Oh, goodness, why not lead with that?! Ready engines! We leave immediately!”
Some scientists can be a bit stubborn, but I guess it is part of their job to be persistent. Regardless, having them head back was a relief. I was a bit disappointed that they had to cut back their expedition. Research like this eventually led us to the stars. I escorted them back to the fleet. A few enemy squadrons had caught up with us and the mercenary escort was currently engaging them.
“Hey Adrian, what do you say we take the fight to those battleships. They’ll be too busy with us to do anything about the research fleet”
“Got any ideas in mind?”
“I’d rather not outright destroy them. We have an EM discharge cannon that can disable specific targets, but we’ll need their shields weakened”
“I’ll take care of that, let’s go!”, the ship Vivian is on is much larger than my fighter. They’re equipped with a larger variety of tools and weapons. I guess it gives them the versatility needed to take almost any job. While the other mercenaries make short work of the attacking fighters, we sneak to the backline and attack the battleships.
The attack on the battleships went smoothly. Our combined tactics allowed us to maneuver around their cannon fire. Their shields took time to break down, but we were successful. Two more squadrons tried to engage us, but by the time the battleships were disabled there was nothing else they could do. Starlance decided to retreat today, that is, once they finish restoring their crippled systems. All in all, they sacrificed their fighter pilots for a claim the security force cannot back up. The research fleet left without a scratch and my finances are doing very good thanks to that mission.
I promised Vivian that I would go to the Sirius system someday to visit. First though, I needed to resolve the current issue with Starlance. Ivanov had just the thing too. A message arrived from him saying that Starlance wanted to settle things with the Liberation Front. He sent coordinates. The meeting would be in about a week. Just a short time to prepare for, what I guess, could be Starlance’s final stand. Also gave me enough time to plan some additional contingencies.