Episode 5: Pushing Back
Draco Squadron has been moving around a lot. Sometimes I take command, others I let Julian lead the group. As far as I’m concerned it’s more training, but I know the generals are relying on us to deal with the more stubborn problems. Skirmishes have been going on all over the system. Our tactical expertise has given us an edge. Ohmaaran knows this and has pulled back some of his forces to the vicinity of Rastaban II. At this rate the Armada will have lost more territory than what they started with. Not that the Alliance is looking to gain anything. Before all this we were one system, united under the Alliance’s banner. Their bid for conquest has only thrown the system into pointless conflict and loss of life.
It has been about three weeks since the battle of Sector Seven Sigma. Talia recovered from most of her wounds and returned to the front lines, though the doctor advised her to wait at least another week. She has been investigating a number of reports that state that another of the star pilots might be held in a research facility. I’m heading up to the Command Bridge for a briefing with her and Yen Li. Some of Draco Squadron will be with me as well. It is likely we’re going to head up the next mission.
“Alright, everyone is here. Talia, give us the news.”, General Yen Li was eager to learn what Talia had found in her investigation.
“The Armada has been pretty sloppy in their attempts to hide information from us. With the help of Julian I was able to gain data on the whereabouts of both Mira and Stella. We suspected that High Lord Ohmaaran’s reinforcement of the area around Rastaban II must have had some proper reasoning. Well, I discovered a research facility there. They are going through prisoners doing odd experiments. The other generals have approved of the next mission. We are going to lead an assault on that research facility.”
“How is that going to work?”, I asked worried about how dangerous this mission was considering the Armada had just moved a large amount of its forces to that area.
“I’ll answer that.”, Yen Li said. “Draco Squadron will enter the system and engage the station’s defenders. Your mission is to keep them occupied while a pair of transports, led by Talia, continue on to infiltrate the facility. Expect heavy resistance. We are deploying some of our most experienced tactical assault teams. One team in space, two teams in the corridors. Keep in mind that not all of Draco Squadron will be present. You will have to make due, but if you can deal some damage, go for it.”
“This will not be an easy mission, but it will be worth it. We can free the prisoners, gather intel and find Mira and Stella.”, said Talia.
When the briefing was over we had a short time to eat at the mess hall and then get ready at the hangar bay. I was inspecting my ship, a bit lost in thought when Cass, Piers, Lara and Clair approached me.
“Grand Marshall, you called for us?”, Piers said.
“I did. As you know Jaan, Hino and Julian are out on another mission. I’ve picked you four to join me in the mission to distract the Armada’s forces. While we’re risking our necks out there, Talia and two assault teams are going to infiltrate a research facility in the hopes of freeing the prisoners there. Intel suggests that Mira and Stella, the other two star pilots, might be there as well. Our team will have four fighters and one bomber.”
“I’ll take the bomber this time, if that’s alright.”, Piers said eagerly.
“Good choice. Lara and Clair will be your cover. Meanwhile Cass and I can go hunting for enemy fighters and being an overall annoyance.”
“Oh I’m down for that.”, Cass, one of the youngest, was also fired up.
“Slowly but surely we’ll help bring this dumb conflict to an end. We depart in half an hour, get your ships ready!”
“Yes ma’am!”, they said in unison.
When I saw the list of pilots being assigned to Draco Squadron I was worried about Lara and Clair. Both of them are very talented and I hear it runs in their family. They’re sisters. Many times they’ve insisted on going on missions together, despite what the loss of both of them might mean for their family, but they tell me that no matter what they want to do as much as they can to help in the conflict. Their father is none other than General Victor Garlan, head of Alliance security and a peer of General Yen Li. Then there’s Cass. Cassandra Olivares spends her days in the simulation pods hoping to beat the highest scores. There are records from pilots all over the system, even a few from Sirius and Centauri. Those Centauri pilots are no joke, many of them hold the highest scores. Every now and then I join her in the training runs. It helps to hear a familiar voice and gets her accustomed to receiving orders. The last of today’s group is Piers. From what little I can gather he’s quiet, but determined. Not much else about him. He came from Proxima Centauri trying to escape the conflict there, only to find another one here. Hopefully this war will end soon and we can all get back to living our lives.
Draco Squadron arrived at the vicinity of Rastaban II. Our jump point was deliberately in the middle of a sensor net. The plan was to engage enemy fighters while the transports and Talia moved in from outside their detection range. The Armada would still notice them, but by that time we should have taken care of most enemy fighters.
The dogfights were fierce, but in the end we were able to defeat our opponents. The last few fighters we faced came from a small fleet that was now headed our way. Two battleships and a carrier were bearing down on us. If the carrier could get close enough they would be able to overwhelm us with sheer numbers. Talia reported that their attack was successful in reaching the command bridge of the station. Most of the data was split into parts so that if any one of us was lost we would have something to work with. The part I received mentioned the prisoners. Talia confirmed that Mira was still there but Stella had been moved to a hidden base on Rastaban Prime.
“Talia, you’d better hurry up. A carrier is nearing and if they launch their fighters we will be overwhelmed.”, I said while keeping track of the action around me. Several fighters were still trying to take us down.
“Copy Draco One, we’ll be out shortly. I found Mira and freed most of the prisoners. They will commandeer some of the transports here and launch as soon as possible.”, Talia replied.
After a few more minutes I saw an explosion in several areas of the space station. At the same time our transports along with several others launched from the station’s hangar bays. The battleships had nearly arrived and started to fire on the transports. Due to their distance they could not hit their targets. The carrier launched its fighters, but they couldn’t catch up. As soon as we reached the jump point we were out of the system.
We arrived at home base with a haul of tortured prisoners. All the reports of the experiences were painful to read. The prisoners were experimented on with unknown substances and technologies. Some reported that Stella had some compatibility with something they couldn’t identify. Data from the research station supported this and explained why she wasn’t there. Whatever they discovered through the experiments was something they needed desperately back at Rastaban Prime, hence her transfer. We are now hoping that she can hold on just a while longer as we prepare a rescue mission.