Episode 1: Enter the Aces
“The political landscape in Rastaban Prime has once again been shaken up. High lord Ohmaaran believes it is time to change leadership and denounce that the Draco Star Alliance will eventually end up being another oppressor to their free world. Meanwhile on interstellar news the war in the Centauri system has been going on for almost two years now, we go live to Paul at outpost…”, I tuned out the rest. Conflict and war was something I didn’t really want to hear this morning, but I’m afraid we might get our dose of it soon. I was reviewing reports of more unrest in Rastaban Prime. This world is one of the most important in the system with large amounts of trade and production coming from it. Another news segment started, “Today we watch the special sky show performed by none other than the legendary trio of the Draco Star Alliance. Live from Eltanin IV, here is Millie with more on the show”. The star pilots. Three of the best fighter pilots in this system performing a show for the masses. Of course, it all helps the public image of the Alliance. Not too long ago it was every planet on its own. The governments were at each other’s throats trying to settle the territorial lines, but in space it’s very difficult to settle on who can claim what. So the alliance rose and not only settled the debates, but the hearts as well. Our peace is fragile though. The government of Rastaban Prime has been in opposition to the Alliance for some time now and internal dissidents have been particularly aggressive about it.
“Grand Marshall Olivia Manzanares, please report to the Command Bridge”, that was my cue. I finished with the small details of my uniform, turned off the monitor and headed out. As I made my way to the Command Bridge, my mind was swarmed with thoughts. I was glad that the Alliance formed. I kept my title and they provided some nice cozy quarters on the recently remodeled security station. There was, of course, a lot of work to do. Smugglers, pirates and all manner of rebellious groups had to be dealt with. It was difficult to keep everyone happy and the leaders of the Alliance were painfully aware. The majority of the people supported them. Most of the leaders were reelected after evaluating their previous performance. It has barely been four years. I hope the current peace lasts, I also hope I didn’t just jinx it. Meeting the general always gets me a bit nervous.
When I entered the command room everyone was laser focused on the forward viewport. The star pilots were giving their best performance yet.
“Wait really? Is this why you called me?”, I asked somewhat puzzled.
“Oh of course not Grand Marshall.”, the General said.
“Ah, ok, hit me. Why am I here? I was kind of enjoying the few days off.”, I said rather playfully. Nothing much had been happening recently and General Yen Li always worried that I was too focused on work. She ordered those days off.
“Always eager to work eh? Well, I have just the thing. You see that monitor? Those aren’t the aces.”
“They’re actually on a mission and they want us to send a cleanup crew.”
“Seriously? Now I’m just clean up?”
“Hey, don’t scoff at a mission like this, we could gather some good intel. Regardless, their mission is to sweep some smugglers before they reach Rastaban Prime.”
My eyes widened, “That planet again. I keep hearing rumors and I don’t like them.”
“Don’t be surprised, but we think it might be connected. I want you and two other fighters to hack into the cargo transports. You can do that from your ship now by the way. I took the liberty of installing the new systems.”
“That’s great. Are those the new ones we ordered from Sirius?”
I smiled, we had those systems ordered for months. Then, I said as I grinned, “I’ll contain my excitement for now.”
“Sure, take two pilots and get going. You are to report back in three hours.”
“Yes ma’am. I’ll be heading out then.”
Our jump to the sector was smooth. When we arrived the renowned star pilots were finishing up the last of the escort ships. Talia, Mira and Stella. It was awe inspiring to see them in action, even if for a short time.
“Alright you two, let’s get closer to the cargo transports. We each take one and then converge on the fourth. Should be a piece of cake. Hino, take the farthest one. Jaan, take the closest and I’ll take the middle transport”, I said to my wingmates.
“Acknowledged.”, said Jaan.
“Heading there now.”, said Hino.
I was glad to pick these two. Some of the best friends one could ask for. We’ve stuck through thick and thin. I wonder if the star pilots were the same.
“Grand Marshall, glad you made it. We’re gonna stick around for a bit to make sure there are no reinforcements. The combat unit will be infiltrating the transports soon, you’d better get to work quickly”, Talia said.
“Acknowledged, this won’t take long.”, I responded.
A little over an hour passed and we finished our mission. We stopped to watch as the trio of elite pilots jumped away to their next mission.
“Let’s head back to base. The general will want to see what we found.”, we made our own jump out shortly after.
As soon as we arrived we noticed quite the commotion in the station. When we arrived at the Command Bridge everyone was staring once again at the screen. I was surprised to see the star pilots here with us. Then, I noticed the voice of the newscaster, “…that is the information we have so far. Relations with Rastaban Prime had been shaky for quite a long time. Their declaration and the apparent death of their leaders has us questioning if this will be the end of peace in Draco. This is Liliana, reporting live. Our coverage…”, the sound was cut off. General Yen Li had that look. She was worried. Our next steps would be very important. Rastaban Prime has declared war against the Alliance.