Episode 3: Threatening Despair
“This is Captain Bellam of the battleship Striker Four. We have arrived at our destination and have set up a perimeter. The aces are pushing ahead to scout near the sector border. So far, no signs of the Armada’s assault fleet.”, we listened intently to the recording on the Command Bridge. A week passed after the fateful mission. The star pilots are gone. Evidence collected in the area of Sector Seven Tau shows that a fierce battle took place. I took charge of that mission after Striker Four, the only surviving battleship, barely made it back to our station. It’s currently docked and receiving repairs. Meanwhile, Draco Star Command dispatched a few cruisers and a carrier to reinforce our position. The news shocked everyone. Now we listen to the evidence of what happened while our tacticians prepare contingencies. These days have been stressful to say the least.
We continued to listen to the recording. “It has been two hours since our arrival. We continue to wait for enemy forces, but no one is certain anymore. Our intel specified that they would be passing through here. That their first targets would be our data and telemetry satellites. Could they have…?”. An explosion could be heard in the recording. They were swarmed by ships jumping directly into the sector. The fleet they encountered had prepared an ambush that separated part of the intercepting forces into two. On one side, the aces and on the other the battleships sent to provide support. Whatever few fighters they had were quickly destroyed after launch. The ace trio made short work of any enemy fighters they encountered, but a large battle cruiser overwhelmed them. “Talia, Mira, Stella, Report! What is happening? Are you alright?”, the captain’s voice sounded worried. Then we heard Talia respond, “This is Talia, we are being overwhelmed. They’re using weapons to disable our ships. Stella has been captured and they will most likely do the same to us. Get out of here while you still can, I can open some space for you to maneuver, but you have to move fast!”. The rest of the recording depicted explosions, screams and a final sigh of relief. Three battleships lost. The ace trio have now been captured and we have no way of knowing what the Armada is planning to do with them.
There were so many injured or dead from this skirmish. At least our base was well equipped for such an emergency. I knew this was only the beginning, so I am bracing myself for whatever comes next. It was clear that the intent of that battle was to lure the aces out and capture them. The amount of resources the Armada used for that made it clear they wanted some of the biggest threats out of the way. Each day has been a scramble to read mission reports, writing new strategies to protect the Alliance’s interests and deployments to different sectors. In the coming weeks I’ll be busy leading Draco Squadron into the fray. The Armada will still attack Sector Seven Sigma, but this time we’ll be better prepared.
After another three weeks we finally have confirmation that the Rastaban Armada is deploying its forces to attack Sector Seven Sigma. This time we don’t have the aces, instead the newly formed Draco Squadron will be deployed to assist the colonies in their defense. Knowing my interest in defending the sector, General Yen Li has appointed me as the leader of the squadron. In all this time we have yet to find the aces. A task force was deployed and they have been tracking prisoner movements. So far all they know is that one of the star pilots was moved somewhere near Rastaban Prime. Intercepted communications point to the torture of the other two. Thankfully the task force’s pursuit has allowed the Armada little time for whatever they plan to do to them. Meanwhile I prepare plans for the defense of Seven Sigma.
The briefing room is packed with people from our logistics and armory divisions to the pilots of various squadrons, including Draco Squadron. We also have direct communication with the other generals of the Alliance. I started the briefing explaining the plan. We are to deploy sensor satellites around the sector. This sensor net will alert us of the energy fluctuations that happen just before a jump. This would protect us from being surprised by any ships that might try to enter the system at an advantageous position. Battleships will be posted around the colonies while they make preparations to stand their ground. I assured the generals and everyone that we would defend the sector at all costs. It was the key to maintaining the opposition against the Rastaban Armada. The final piece of the puzzle was Draco Squadron. We will punch through enemy defenses and take out as many of their battleships as we can. They will either be forced to retreat or suffer heavy losses. When the briefing ended everyone felt ready for battle. The generals approved of the plan and promised to send reinforcements if needed.
“Draco Squadron, you’d better take out some of that energy at the simulation chambers. Should also keep those senses sharp.”, I said to my new partners. Among them was both Jaan and Hino. The Alliance keeps records of pilot performance. I was both surprised and pleased they were near the top of the list, just below me. What surprised me the most was that I was in fourth position, below ace Stella. The years spent as protector of places like Seven Sigma paid off. Of course, I never sought to become one of the aces. About a year ago Yen Li approached me to take up a position among the aces. They’d accommodate me with them. Back then I remember the General said, “they take on the hardest missions”. To me, having those three was enough. I had my sights set on my little piece of space. I declined that position. If I had taken it back then who knows where we would be.
“Reminiscing?”, General Yen Li approached me.
“Oh, General. Yes actually. About that time you asked me to join the aces.”
“I’m glad you didn’t take it back then. We’d be in quite a pickle right now.”
“There are other great pilots, as evidenced by Draco Squadron.”
“Don’t sell yourself short. You aren’t Grand Marshall for a mere fluke. You earned your position because you are determined, talented and you look out for others.”, Yen Li has always been supportive.
“Thanks, and I have to keep working hard. I am afraid of this coming mission.”
“You would be a fool if you weren’t afraid. We all analyzed your plan and have already picked the forces to go. We have your back.”
“I’ll make sure to bring back Draco Squadron in one piece.”
“I’m sure you will, go get some rest. Tomorrow will be tough.”