Episode 4: The Defense of Seven Sigma
Coordinates locked in. Jump drive stable. “This is Draco one, reporting ready to depart”, I said. The rest of my wing mates reported in, followed by the battleships. Our defense group was ready. As soon as we jumped into the sector we got to work on preparations. The colonies moved to positions where they could more easily be defended. The Armada would not be able to outflank us. This sector has been my home for many years. I was born in one of the colonies here. There are five colonies in total. Each of these vessels has a specialization. The three largest, the Argent, the Doma and the Silph are also the most productive. The other two, the Artemis and the Seraph are focused on military technology and parts construction. All of these colonies work together and are very well known in this system and beyond. People live mostly peaceful lives, though the occasional theft was not unheard of. Smugglers tried a few times to destabilize the colonies, but none ever succeeded and they stopped trying altogether a few years after I made it to Marshall. Our security forces were recognized as some of the most talented. By the time the Alliance formed I was Grand Marshall and kept a tight patrol of the sector. They admired my work so much I was allowed to join up, rank included despite not being customary.
The past few hours have been tense. Draco squadron has been making the rounds ensuring everything is in its proper place. Some of the pilots are a bit weary, but I’ve assured them that the plan will work. Just as we were turning around to make another pass through the sector one of the sensors went off. An energy signature was detected. An unidentified ship was making a jump to the system. Shortly after that several other sensors activated. The Armada will be here very soon.
“Alright everyone, buckle up!”, I said to the other pilots.
“Draco one, what should we prioritize? According to these readings there are at least three groups”, Draco five was worried, but he knew he could rely on my experience. Tilik was also from this sector and had served as deputy under me multiple times. Though he left the security force for some time, he returned to the field when he learned that I was working for the Alliance.
“Here’s the plan Draco Squadron. The largest group of ships will be the force that will make a beeline to the colonies. They will try to attack the colonies, but we’ll be there to intercept. The battleships will also cut them off. Once they’re engaged with the battleships we split into two groups. One will keep that force occupied. We have four bombers, two of you will remain in that group to take out the enemy battleships. In the meantime, Draco one through five will intercept the other ships trying to outflank us.”
“Acknowledged Draco one, let’s get them!”, said Hino. Her designation was Draco four. She is piloting one of the bombers. Armed with plasma cannons, they are our best chance at stopping the larger ships.
“Draco one, this is Draco six, let’s give them hell.”, and that was Jaan. I’m afraid of splitting these two up. They rely on each other a lot, but this is necessary for their growth as well.
Draco Squadron isn’t just the elite pilots of the Draco Star Alliance. It is also the training ground for the next elites. At least that’s what the generals told me. I was surprised at first, but considering our current predicament it would prepare the Alliance for any future conflict. These would be the new Star Pilots. Legends in their own right, but they would have to earn it by going through this squadron.
The battle for Sector Seven Sigma has been raging on for hours. Alliance forces have been successful in keeping most of the attacking force at bay. Draco Squadron, split into two groups, has been providing a great amount of support. Opposing fighters have been no match to our team. Meanwhile the bombers have dealt massive damage to the enemy fleet. The Alliance is sure to have victory here. Now all that’s left is to finish off the remaining battleships.
“Draco one, this is the battleship Guardian Four, sensors have detected two ships entering the system. One is a prison transport, the other a heavy assault carrier. The carrier is outside of engagement range and is likely here to launch an escort for that prison transport. Can you intercept and disable it?”
“Why would they send a prison transport through here? They know this area is controlled and monitored by the Alliance.”
“We don’t know, but we can’t let this opportunity pass. Get to it.”
“Acknowledged. Draco two you’re with me, three, four and five meet up with the rest of the squadron and finish off the remaining battleships.”, I was sure this was some sort of trap. There was one other explanation. A number of jump points here could be used to reach certain coordinates in deep space. They could intend to send the prisoners far from the system and any hope of rescue.
We quickly tore through the fighter escort that was accompanying the prison transport. I ordered them to stand down and stop their ship. They didn’t respond so we had to do things by force. While I whittled down their shield Draco Two was hacking into their systems. The pilot of Draco Two is Julian, one of our best engineers turned elite pilot. Despite not being at the top, his technical knowledge of both coding and mechanisms made him an ideal candidate for the team. After a few short minutes the ship was disabled.
“Good job Draco Two, let’s…”, before I could finish he screamed out a warning.
“Draco One! Move away now! Disengage!”
I had so little time to react. The prison transport exploded with incredible force. The shockwave of energy nearly knocked my ship out. Draco Two wasn’t so lucky, but despite the damage to his ship, he was alive.
“Draco Two respond! Are you alright Julian?”, at first there was only quiet. Then a short burst of static followed by his reply.
“Sorry about that. Had to rewire the comms. My shields are down but I think I can fly home. Could you do a sensor sweep? Before the ship exploded I detected something leaving it. I think there really was someone in there, it could have been an escape pod.”
“I’ll search around, but don’t leave yet. I don’t want you heading back without an escort.”
“Roger that. I’ll use the time to try to get at least some shield charge back, also I’m transmitting some of the data I got. It might prove useful.”
And indeed it was. A signal within the data helped me adjust the sensors to quickly find what left the ship before it exploded. It was an escape pod, like Julian suggested. I got near it and tried to see inside, but the window was obscured. Possibly damaged when the ship exploded. If anyone had survived inside it might be out of pure luck. Further scans revealed the pod was mostly in working order. I also confirmed someone was inside. Before I left, towing the pod behind me, a communication arrived directly to me.
“I thought I had all the elite pilots. Did the Alliance grow a spine to use the rest of you?”
“Who…?”, before I could continue the message continued.
“Well, I have no further need for the star pilots. You might find them all in pieces, good luck. Oh and by the way, just so you know, I will see you swear allegiance to me Grand Marshall. I will keep an eye on you and your squadron.”
The transmission ended. I looked to my side and saw the carrier in the distance. As I was watching it jumped away. Two of the Armada’s battleships escaped, but the rest were destroyed. The sector was safe, but I couldn’t shake off this feeling. Who could have sent that message? I suspected it could have been High Lord Ohmaaran. I sent the transmission log to Julian so that he could analyze it. He confirmed that the voice matched what was on record. Ohmaaran seemed obsessed with the elite pilots of the Alliance. This means that Draco Squadron was in danger.
Upon our return to the station we reported our victory. The escape pod was hauled into one of the battleships which would arrive shortly after us. Everyone was eager to find out who it was inside. I thought it could have been the pilot of the prison transport, but Julian mentioned there was no pilot. It was being remotely controlled. The plan apparently was to send that ship to a specific jump point where it could reach home base. This very space station. Had it reached its destination it would have been a tragedy. Our intervention forced their hand. During our debrief Julian also commented on how that ship was supposed to sneak by through the chaos of the battle.
“If they had been successful in their attack they could’ve taken out one of our most important outposts.”, I said.
“Yes, I don’t think they expected the Alliance to regroup so well after the loss at Seven Tau.”, Julian continued.
“What about the pod? Is it here yet?”, Jaan was curious, as was I.
“General?”, Yen Li was there and she looked worried.
“Draco Squadron, you all did incredibly well. As for the pod we found one person inside. She is in the infirmary recovering. At the very least I’m glad she is back with us. When we opened the pod we discovered Talia, the leader of the star pilots, unconscious. She managed to escape her confinement but the explosion of the prison ship damaged the pod. It’s likely she got tossed around in that thing quite a bit. The doctors have said that there are also signs of torture.”, everyone in the briefing room was shocked. I could see their anger rising. “She will need a few weeks to recover so I ask all of you to remain focused. This is just the beginning, but Draco Squadron has shown that the Armada is nothing but amateurs playing at war. I will convene with the other generals for our next steps. In the meantime, take a well deserved break. Dismissed!”
I stood outside Talia’s room in the infirmary. Hino and Jaan joined me. Hino asked, “Are you ok?”
“Yes, I’ll be fine. Ohmaaran sent me a transmission. He was there, in that carrier. He seems obsessed with the pilots of the Alliance. Especially the star pilots and now Draco Squadron.”
“Do you think he has spies here? He learned of you awfully quickly.”, she continued.
“We can’t know for certain, but I wouldn’t dismiss that idea. Maybe they’ve been intercepting coded transmissions. Regardless, it’s unsettling. I can’t shake his voice from my mind.”
“How about we go to the mess hall. The other pilots are there, we should celebrate the victory at least.”, Jaan’s suggestion was on point. Perhaps getting distracted there would help.
Julian, Kai, Hino, Tilik, Jaan, Cass, Piers, Lara and Clair. Draco Squadron. That scare of nearly losing Julian shook me a bit, but seeing them now in celebration puts my mind at ease. I trust that we will become the force that defeats the Armada and brings peace once more.