A War for Hope

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Lord Damos
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A War for Hope

Postby Lord Damos » 2012-09-15 04:35pm

This is a completely original work and only a test of my own abilities. This is a first chapter of story I have had rattling around in my head for some time. Constructive criticism is welcome. Well here it is.

Chap 1

Standing before the vortex its angry maw hungry for his soul. He could feel the coldness of death reaching out to him and trying to pull him towards it. Knowing if he tried to step back it would only pull harder. All he could do was stand his ground. Just as the pull was almost too much for him he heard a wailing in the distance. He sat up from his bunk with a start realizing he was only dreaming and the wailing he heard was the alarm for all hands to man combat stations.

With years of training and honed instincts he was fully awake with in a few seconds and pulling his boots on. As he stepped out of his quarters with one last look at the sparsely decorated room he grabbed his flight helmet and shut the door behind me.

In the passage ways was controlled chaos. Crewmen and officers hurriedly made there way to their stations without ever actually breaking in to a run. He eased into the flow moving towards the flight deck not realizing he was was in front of his wing-mate, Smoke. Tapping him on the shoulder to get his attention he just nodded with out turning around or stopping.

“What do you thinks is going on, Slicer?” Smoke asked using his call sign he earned in flight school after slicing the melee combat instructor's finger off with a sword. Out here that is all we ever used is call signs we never learned anyone’s real name. With a pilot survival rate of only two missions, well, that just made things easier.

he shrugged his shoulders and turned the next corner to find three more pilots from his squadron entering a lift to go up flight ops deck. “Might just be a drill for all we know. That is all we have been doing for the last month is drills,” he said over his shoulder as he stepped into the lift. “What makes you think it's not a drill.”

“Eh maybe you're right, but don't they usually announce that it is a drill right after the call for combat stations?” Smoke said coming up behind me. Knowing that he did have a tendency to over react, that's how he got the call sign Smoke. In flight training his fuel mixture got rich and a little bit of Smoke started coming out of the engine. Slicer still think if he wasn't flying next to him to calm him down he would have lost control.

“Yea guess you got a point there. Guess we will find out in just a minute there is the ready room.” Pointing to the squadron ready room as the lift doors opened. The number of people in the passageways was thinning out.

The two wing-mates made our way to the door. At first glance everything look normal for a drill, then he noticed everyone looking in the same direction. The front wall was covered with a screen that would usually display flight rosters, duty stations, or mission briefings. Right now the only thing displayed was he picture of earth from high orbit. Slicer walked the rest of the way in to the room then he saw what had everyone’s attention. There was a battle going on over a blue and green world.

“What the...” Smoke did not get to finish when squadron commander Papa interrupted him.

The squadron commander Papa was standing next to the display. Papa was in his 40's but his hair was already mostly grayed.“It all started about three hours ago. We got a message through Comm Matrix One.” Pointing to the screen it zoomed in on the upper right quarter of the screen. “It seems who ever these aggressors are they are not the ones we have been fighting for the last six months. This group jumped in right on top of Earth defense force and immediately opened fire on anything in orbit. We lost six of our command ships within the first minute of the engagement.” He pointed out at least two of the broken hulks that where a Command Carrier and a Dreadnaught. “After that we got organized and have been fighting back and doing the best they can.”

The screen zoomed out a little and we could all see ships of all sizes with lances of light and miniature novas exploding between them.. and inside of them. “As hard as they have been fighting they are still loosing.” The screen zoomed out once more and flicked to show the night side of the blue marble that we all called home. “It has been decided at the highest level that earth is lost.” Gasps of shock and looks of horror on everyone's face quickly turned towards anger and out rage. “I know what you are all thinking I felt the same way when I heard the order. However; it would take almost every ship in the armada to repel this attacking force and there is no way to get them all together in time. Earth has been placed under Evacuation Order One. Yes the complete evacuation of every person and genetic profile of earth species as possible.” Slicer just noticed small to large spots of light leaving the surface and breaking out of the atmosphere. “The remaining defense force is just trying to hold long enough to get as many people away as they can.”

“Um Sir, Where are we going to go,” Panic asked tentivly, giving voice to the question on everyone's mind wiith his hand up for everyone’s attention. “I mean earth was our home, and all we have out here are small colonies.”

“Your concern is noted Panic. Yes we only have a handful of colonies and even those we have been fighting to protect.” The screen changed to a star map and Papa walked over to point at a small star on it. “These are the coordinates that we have been given. All combat assets are to proceed at best possible speeds. However any ship of cruiser size or larger around or near a colony is to offer escort to any civilian ship wishing to join us.” A green line traced from that star to another point on the map. “this is where we are now to get there at our max speed will take four weeks. We have one small shuttle that we will meet with and then will proceed the rest with them on board. Any questions?”

Several hands went up among the pilots both new and seasoned. he just sat there and all he could think about was his dream. It was not the first time he had that dream and may not have been the last. What will tomorrow bring.
Last edited by Lord Damos on 2012-09-17 10:56am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: A War for Hope

Postby CyrilsScribe » 2012-09-16 11:09pm

Wall of text and an info dump, try to format it so there are blank spaces in between the paragraphs, it will be much easier to read, however a good start and decent dialogue.
Deep in the human unconscious is a pervasive need for a logical universe that makes sense. But the real universe is always one step beyond logic.

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Re: A War for Hope

Postby Lord Damos » 2012-09-21 10:44am

Chap 2

“Ready flight three report to your craft,” the call came out over the inter ship comm. The speaker sounded like nothing had happened yesterday, but you could look on the faces of anyone and see that we all knew home was gone. The spirit of the the crew was low before yesterday and now it has hit rock bottom... Or so we hoped.

The last images we got what was left of Earth Defense Force 20 midsize to smaller ships breaking away and leaving what was left of our home. As soon as the ships broke off and started leaving we could see bright flashes on the surface. Slicer knew there was no way everyone got out. He grabbed his helmet and walked out the door opposite the one he came in to yesterday.

The flight deck was busy as always, but there was a quietness to the clatter. Almost like watching a beehive with no buzz. He walked over to his interceptor an FS-210 Shadow. The Shadow was normally a fast agile fighter but never really had a lot of punch. That is until he got his hands on a Seeyk power core.

“She is all ready to go Sir,” Booster patted him on the back and winked. Booster was the typical mechanic, with greasy coveralls and a knowledge about the craft he fixed that would put the designers to shame. Booster was known for tinkering with every craft on the flight deck boosting engine, weapon, or overall ship performance. “Watch the power reading don't let the capacitors reach 280 or you will have a real mess to clean up,” with another pat on the back, that almost knocked Slicer over, and a chuckle he started to walk off.

Slicer called after him, “Why do you do it Booster? Whats in it for you?” He shrugged his shoulders and walked away.

Slicer walked around his ship inspecting and running his hands over the edges and smooth surface. The craft had a low profile with the wing shaped almost like a stingray in the ocean. The tips of the wings sat level with his chest. The thruster nozzles just at six feet off the deck. This little fighter had seen him through some tough times in the last few months. He had even given it a name, Casey. he put his helmet on and climbed the three steps up to the top of his ship. Checked the thruster ports and maneuvering vents. As he moved forward to the cockpit he looked over and saw that Smoke was about to climb in to his. As he slid down into the cramped cockpit he snapped his helmet down and secured it. With a slight hiss he new his suite was sealed but still checked to be sure.

“Good morning Slicer,” the sultry voice of his 'personalize' flight computer sang into his ears. “All systems are green and mission profile is uploaded and ready. Would you like to view it now?”

“No thank you Casey.” he responded as he went over his own pre-flight check list. “I know it is going to be 2 hours till we get to the rendezvous. I will view it en-route.”

Switching on his comm he set the frequency to flight deck control. “This is Shadow 21 all systems green, standing-by.”

“This is Shadow 22 all systems green, Sanding-by.” Smoke looked over at him and gave him a thumbs up.

“Shadow flight this is control moving you to air lock standby,” Several of the flight tech gave us thumbs up or salutes and the conveyor moved us towards a large door that was opening. This was the slow launch method. Typically in a combat situation the ships would be placed into air lock tubes with just the cockpit accessible and we would launch from there. But because this was not combat or an emergency that was not needed. Instead we were moved past the large inner door of the flight deck and waited for the outer door to open. “Shadow flight, Control, inner door secured begin start-up sequence.”

Flipping switches he could hear and feel the wine the rumble as his engines started up. Most of that would disappear once they remove the atmosphere from the air lock. “Control, Shadow flight all systems green and ready for vacuum.”

“Understood Shadow flight depressurizing now.” Watching the external sensor he could see the atmosphere turn to vacuum and when the outer door opened was the empty void of space. “Safe flight and good hunting.”

“YEEEHAW” Smoke called out as he slammed his throttles forward and shot out in to the emptiness. he took it just a little slower with just enough push to pull him back in his seat.

“Okay Smoke we have a long way to go,” he said as he brought his ship around. “Form up on me and and lets get this over with.” With out another word he brought his ship in just behind and to the right of mine. they turned back towards the Command Carrier 'Pathfinder', that was going to be their new home, slid his ship down and underneath to cruse along the bottom. Moving under at the amid-ship and moving along her keel for about 815 meters he veered to the left and out from underneath 285 meters from the bow. Looking back as he pulled away he could see the entire bulk of the 2 kilometer long .5 kilometer tall almost box shape ship.

After ten minutes we had moved to far for short range comm to be picked up by Pathfinder. “So what do you think will happen in the next few weeks.” Smoke asked.

“What the hell are you talking about, Panic?” Slicer snapped back in to his comm.

“Sorrrry,” Smoke said with emphasis on the R's. “Didn't need to bite his head of Sir. If you want quite for the next two hours that is fine by me.”

“No I am sorry Smoke. I did not mean to snap at you. Its just I have been out here since the beginning and have seen a lot of good people loose there life and I still don't know what started the war in the first place.”

“I didn't realize you have been out here since the first battle. You know I have only been out here for 4 weeks before that I was in the airshow squad touring all the earth bound bases.” Smoke did a barrel roll to show off.

“I will tell you on one condition.” he did a tight loop with slide to the right that put him right be hind Smoke. “Don't ever expect a plain barrel roll to save you life.”

Slicer started his story the way most people do at the beginning. “We had just jumped to Ferrum 2 the main mining station of the Orion arm. I had been on the Pathfinder for about two weeks. Just another rookie pilot getting stuck on escort duties. I was tasked with escorting three heavy haulers to the ventral grapplers of Pathfinder. As the last one was coming up they hit us. The Seeyk came in from behind the third moon of Ferrum 2. They had three ships to our one.”

“How did you survive,” The aw was evident in Panics voice.

“To this day I am not sure. We had known about the Seeyk for about 2 years but could not establish any real dialog with them because they refused to communicate, or could not communicate with us..”

“Then how do they communicate?”

“They are telepathic, I think. Not a trick we humans have mastered yet. So for all we know the whole time they were moving in on us they could have been asking for surrender or just telling us all to die. I would be more likely to believe the latter.

Pathfinder launched all her fighters and opened all her gun ports. Broadcasting the standard stand-down message three times. Their fighters came in fast and shooting. Of the 100 fighters we launched thirty of them bliped out in the first volley.”

“Three squadrons gone just like that. What where you doing?

He chuckled to himself. Slicer never thought of telling this story like this till he was telling his grand-kids. “I was still between the colony and the carrier. I listened to everyone's desperate fight. Once our pilots got organized they started to fight back. We started to gain ground. We have better ships and pilots they just have more.

Four Seeyk fighters started towards me and the hauler. I called for support but no one was able to break off. So I did the first thing that came to mind.”

“What was that did you turn towards them guns blazing?”

“No I attached a tether to the hauler hit my throttles to the max and told the hauler to do the same. Once we both hit max speed I released them and then turned to try and swing in behind the fighters hopping to use the hauler as a diversion, as bait witch never would work. he had not realized that during the sling shot maneuver he just attempted with the hauler the four fighters had split off in to two pairs. One set coming straight for me the other trying to flank me. I dropped two rockets then pulled up and over like I just did with you to come in behind the other two and opened up with my rail guns. After that I don't remember much except explosions and fighting for my life. By the time the recall order came in we were down to only twenty three fighters but two of their bigger ships where floating hulks and the other one was pulling back, and Pathfinder was venting atmosphere from at least eight different hull breaches.”

“If we beat them so bad why are they still attacking us.”

“I have asked my self that many times. It turns out that, that first attack was not the only one. They hit five other colonies that day with the same amount of force. They were testing our defenses and assessing our tactics and technology.”

It was from that battle that he was able to salvage the power core that was now in the heart of his fighter. After that battle many more came and always out numbered but never out gunned for some reason. They always seemed to have just enough to hurt us but in the end start pulling back. Now the Pathfinder for the last month has been doing drill after drill running pilots through sims and constantly training. Slicer couldn't help but think 'What the hell is going on. Earth is captured or a wasteland now and the human race was on the run. None of the colonies could support the number of refugees or the supply demands of the armada.

The next hour of the flight was spent in silence, Smoke was probably sleeping. So Slicer ran system checks and thought about his brother. He had been a grunt training for low G missions on the moon when earth was lost. He pictured him in his mind sitting with his friends laughing and joking like usual. Then the strangest feeling that this was not a memory or just imagination. He shook off the feeling and went back to system checks.

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Re: A War for Hope

Postby Borgholio » 2012-09-21 03:27pm

So far so good. But losing billions of people in a single attack and having Earth be nuked to oblivion...they should be a bit more rattled than that.
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Re: A War for Hope

Postby Lord Damos » 2012-09-28 12:14pm

I was going with the perspective of one person so not seeing the whole scope of reactions. This is also mostly a military view of the situation, deal with it in off time but get the job done.

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Re: A War for Hope

Postby Lord Damos » 2012-09-28 12:54pm

“Ten minutes till rendezvous point alpha.” The fighters computer voice marked.

“Thank you Casey could you please scan for comm frequencies.” While she started to scan he looked over at Smoke and could see his head had lolled down with his chin on his chest. “Smoke less than ten minutes lets get alert.”

“I'm up, any thing on the comm yet?” The comm beeped just after he asked.

“This is transport Papa, Oscar, Echo. You boys here to escort.” The voice sounded just as sultry as his fighter computer.

“That is an affirmative.” he brought his sleek fighter in along side the bulky transport. As he did this he ran a scan but strangely was not surprised by the results. Two clicks on the comm indicated to him that Smoke wanted to switch to a private channel but he ignored him. “Transport P.O.E according to my sensors you do not need an escort I am showing your 'transport' is actually a modified gun ship. You have more weapons on that thing than my wing mate and me put together.”

“That is classified information you do not have a need to know.” This barked by a husky demanding voice obviously the mission commander. “For the next two hours we are to maintain absolute radio silence. You are not to brake that unless I give the order understood.”

Both Smoke and Slicer clicked twice as an affirmative. They slid into formation with Slicer's fighter in front and below and Smoke in back and above set the auto pilot and settled in for a vary boring two hours.

It was the dream again this time he started to hear voices coming from the vortex. The voice he had never heard before and a language he did not recognize but some how understood. he snapped awake realizing the voices where setting up and ambush.

“Casey scan full power 360 all bandwidths.” As he let his sensors run he started scanning the star field with his eyes. Then he saw it he would have missed it if he wasn't actually looking for it. Stars where winking in and out at different intervals evidence of a ship passing across them.

“Shadow-21 what the hell are you doing with you sensors running full sweeps.?” The voice of the mission commander barked in his ears. “I said radio silence that includes keeping sensors on passive scan not active.”

“Sir with all due respect please watch the stars at bearing three, five, zero by zero, one, five” he directed him to look at the same group of stars he was when he spotted the star shadows. At that moment his sensors went crazy with long range weapon signatures.

“Inbound!” Smoke cried out

“Evasive.” the female voice called out.

“Smoke form up on me this time we go in guns blazing. Poe you fall back try to send a data burst to Pathfinder if they are not jamming us.”

Smoke started to pull past the transport when “Belay that order shadow-22 you stay with us.” the husky voice ordered. “Shadow-21 break and intercept.”
Smoke continued his maneuver to come along side Slicer's fighter. “With respect sir,” he said with a slight pause, “up yours. I wont leave my wing man and beside you have not given command code that tells us why we should listen to you.” With that he could see the weapons on the transport almost start glowing as they charged.

The rockets fired towards them where long range but not tracking so it took a little finesse to take out the main bulk that was head for them while the rest went wide. his target identifier showed no less than 20 red blips all fighters thankfully.

“Ok Smoke lock on with swarms fire on my mark then fallow me through the middle formation 2 bravo.” As he gave the order his targeting computer switched to his swarm missiles an locked on to ten of the blips on his Helmet Visual Target Display. Smoke Lined up directly below him with only about 2 meter between them. Once the range showed 8 kliks, the max rang for swarms, he gave the order, “Fire, fire, fire.” They both launched two missiles each and push their throttles past their safeties. They were shoved back into the seat by the force of acceleration.

Immediately after the missiles left the wings they broke apart in to 5 separate warheads each tracking there designated targets. They passed between the opposing craft just seconds after the first explosions started to light up the vacuum of space. Slicer felt a buzzing in his head and a shiver down his spine. He marked it up to the acceleration forces on his body. After passing the first line he started a hard left turn almost blacking out from the force pushed on his body as Smoke did the same to the right. He switched to his rail guns and started raking the back of the first fighter he saw. he was close enough to see the pilot eject in a small capsule about the size of the cock pit just before the ships energy core went critical.

He don't know why but he felt a sense of relief when he saw the ejection capsule. He quickly shook it of and adjusted to the next fighter. He realized that these fighter must be stronger than the Seeyk of the twenty that were originally here 9 of them where still maneuvering and of those four showed signs of heavy or critical damage. The other five where streaking towards the transport. He quickly designated those five for a swarm with a blink of his eye and fired. It seems like Smoke had the same idea but targeted the damaged four. Target sensors linked together to show who is targeting what so there is no wasted shots.

“What the...” Was all he heard just before Smoke's fighter exploded like a short lived sun.

“Poe Get out of here now I'll cover you,” Slicer shouted in to the comm as he took out the last of the fighters he could see. The rest had been taken out by the last two swarm missiles. Just then his sensors placed a large blip on his HVTD. He quickly brought his fighter up and around with a half loop and twist. This brought into view a new group of fighters. Even though there was only six of them this time he new these where different.

He saw a shift from the three on the right and he just knew they were going to split. Three on him and three on the transport. he brought his nose down and to the right to put him between them and the transport forcing them to stay together. Armed his last swarm missile and fired. he noticed the warhead detonating five hundred meters before impact. he should have known that wasn't going to work again. As he fought to keep his self between them and the transport until help arrived he kept getting the feeling that they knew what he was going to do before he did it, but also he was doing the same with them. Just as one moved in behind him and was about to fire he would would juke left or right to put that one between another that was about to fire on Poe. The transport was doing the best it could too chase off any that got too close, but would also take a few pot shots at any that stayed be hind him for to long. After about five minutes, witch felt more like five hours, he had taken minor damage from a few lucky hits. Poe was still undamaged and one of the enemy fighters was disabled.

“Three minutes until Pathfinder arrives, Keep it up Slicer.” The female voice encouraged. he could only click his comm to signal while he was too focused on what was going on around me.

The remaining five fighter seemed to have decided that he was an obstacle that just could not be ignored any longer. They all angled in on him so when he tried to dodge one he flew in to the path of another. No matter which direction he turned he was in the line of fire.

The transport was still there able to take shot at any that where trying to get into position for a kill shot, but his fighter was getting torn to pieces. Just as he thought all his alarms where blaring and his eject button was flashing at him he noticed his power core reaching the critical point. He sent his fighter in to a dizzying gut wrenching gyro like spin and used the momentum to eject the core from his fighter in the direction of three of the fighters. It bounced off of the center fighters nose and detonated with a blinding flash that consumed all thee. Just as he saw the last two moving in to finish off his fighter now dead in space Pathfinder came out of FTL right above him and let loose with a barrage of rail gun fire that just obliterated the last two fighters.

He felt more than saw the grappler line attach to his fighter but didn't actually remember being towed in to the flight deck.

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Re: A War for Hope

Postby Lord Damos » 2012-10-12 03:57pm

The vortex was spinning much faster this time and pulling him in and nothing he did slowed or stopped it. Through the center of the maelstrom he saw his self as a small child and his brother sitting next to him in a white room. A man in a uniform was talking to another man in a lab coat. Both had a shoulder patch that had you yellow circle with eight rings around it.

“This one we are going to take for flight school.” The uniformed man was saying as he pointed to him. “The other one we'll give grunt training. Monitor their progress and send me monthly reports. Such a shame to stop funding when we finally have two viable results.” With that the uniformed man walked out of the room leaving him and his brother with the lab coat man to wonder if they would ever see each other again. This was his earliest memory he was only five years old at the time.

The next image was about five years later he was wearing a uniform similar to the one worn by the man in the lab. He was standing in a large field and there was four other boys his age standing around him. One of the boys charged at him with his fist raised. Time seemed to slow down as he quickly side stepped to the right to avoid the fist but without thinking he had brought his left knee up to impact with his gut. The boy let out an woof as all the air was forced from his lungs. He collapsed to the ground as he brought his leg down then immediately kicked out with his right leg to catch another boy in the chin. As the second boy fell backwards he ducked and mule kicked behind him and felt the impact and another woof. Snapping back up with his fist leading and lifted the last boy of his feet as he struck him under the chin. As he looked around to see the four boys rolling on the ground holding their faces or doubled over trying to huff air back in to their lungs. Slice just walked away.

The next scene to play before him was from when he was fifteen and was holding a sword in what looked like a training room with large square mats on the floor. The man standing before him was taller and had broad shoulders. He came in with a thrust at his chest. he shifted his stance just enough to let his sword scape along his blade and was by him left shoulder just barely. As he drew back from his parry he fainted a thrust that he attempted to parry the same way he did to his left, but as he did so he twisted his wrist and dropped the tip to move inside his guard. He quickly recovered by shifting his sword to a downward vertical guard and pushed his sword out to his right. The big man came back at him with a vertical slash meant to slice him from head to groin. Slicer brought his sword up with a high guard angled down and to the left. As he made contact with his sword the big man over extended and Slicer brought his sword around. As he tried to recover to parry he was not quick enough and Slicer's blade hit his hand and hilt. He dropped his blade as the shock of losing two of his fingers over took him.

As he started to wake up there was a bright light being shined in his eyes.

“He is starting to come around,” he heard a voice of to his left.

“Good when will he be ready to report back to duty?” he heard from the right side as the light was turned off his eyes began to readjust and focus.

“Not so fast he is lucky to be alive. I want to keep him for observation for at least thirty-six hours.”

Slicer's head was pounding and his body felt like he had fallen of a five story building. He looked to his left and saw Papa standing with his arms folded across his chest. “Sorry sir Smoke was a good wing man and I let him down.”

“Nonsense son you did the best you could and accomplished your mission.” He placed a reassuring hand on his shoulder. “Smokes memorial will be in two days at fifteen hundred hours,” He looked up for a moment at the doctor. “You should be back on your feet by then. When they let you out of here come by my office I will have new orders for you.”

“Yes sir.” Slicer laid his head back as Pap walked out of the Med Bay. “No sedatives please and can you get me a pen and paper I want to work on my report.” The doctor just nodded and walked out.

Slicer raised his bed up so that he would be in more of a reclined sitting position. He started composing his report in his mind while he waited. A knock on his door brought him out of his thoughts.


The door slid open to reveal a woman in a loose fitting flight suit. Her eyes where a cool brown, her hair was raven black. He knew she was not military because she had a piercing in her nose and lip. She smiled a little and looked him up and down as if trying to decide if he was really the person she had come to see. She crossed her arms as she stood at the foot of the Med bed.

“You would be...?” Slicer asked after a few moments of silence while she just stood there looking at me.

“They call me Psycho,” her voice was the pilot of the transport. “You must be Slicer, just wanted to come by and say thanks. I don't know if I could have held off that many fighters long enough without getting blasted. Where did you learn to fly like that?”

Slice thought about her question. He was a pilot in the Sol Space Navy, so the obvious answer would be the academy. “The academy, I had a good teacher.”

“That was no academy flying, that was years on the run smuggling flying.” She uncrossed her arms and put her hands on her hips. “Now tell him where did you really learn to fly like that. At least three times I know you pulled ten G's and snapped out like it was nothing and he know those little fighters don't have inertia controllers.”

“Don't know. I really don't remember much just kinda reacting on instinct.” he sat up a little more trying to replay the maneuvers in his head.

“Well thanks anyways,” this as she walked out of the room.

As she left the nurse came back with a blank report and a pen. She set them on the table next to the bead and quietly walked out. After a while of trying to remember everything that happened from take off to waking up in Med Bay some of his squadron came by to check on me. His flight leader brought in the data recording from his fighter. he was a little surprised that it survived intact.

After he finished his report the next day was pretty quite no dreams and no excitement. He watched the information reports on the monitor next to the bed and nothing new was happening ship wide. There was still a lot of talk, and speculation about what had really happened on earth. The next day he was released about eleven hundred hours. He went straight to his quarters and put on his dress uniform. Standing in front of the mirror to make sure every thing was in order. His shoes polished, his dark blue slacks with the gray strip on the side, the gray jacket with four gold buttons on each sleeve, and high collar with two round buttons. he placed the shoulder boards with each with two broad stripes at the outside edge and gold wings in the middle. Pinning his medals on, he took one final look and left his quarters.

From his quarters it was a short walk to the lift car that would take him to the observation and recreation deck. As he walked into the observation space he noticed that there was a few more people than he had expected. Nobody was seated yet. He walked over to the casket setup in front of the seats. The casket was empty there was nothing left to recover. he felt a hand on his shoulder and turned to see Papa the squadron commander next to him.

“I have new orders for you after the memorial service,” he said quietly, “come see me when this is done.” Slicer felt a twinge of frustration. To Papa this was just business as usual, but not for Slicer.

Slicer took his seat as everyone else began to sit down. The memorial service began and the chaplain said a prayer for the lost as the casket was loaded into an airlock and shot into space to drift. Everyone came to attention and saluted as twenty one burst rounds where fired from the aft guns.

Shortly after the ceremony he was knocking on the Squadron Commanders door.


Slicer opened the door took three steps in, stood at attention, and saluted, “Flight Lieutenant Keys reporting as ordered.”

“Flight Lieutenant Keys,” Papa stated flatly as he stood up behind his desk. “You are hear by found guilty of performance above and beyond any expected measure. You will at this moment be summarily..” He paused as he stood directly in front of him and reached into his coat and pulled out a blue and black case with two broad gold stripes with a thinner gold stripe in between. “Promoted to Flight Lieutenant Second Rank.” He handed him the case and shook his hand. “Congratulations this is long over due.”

“Permission to speak freely sir,” Papa only nodded as he sat back down at his desk. “Sir I feel that I do not deserve this yet. I failed in my mission to escort the transport back to the ship and ensure that myself and my wing mate returned safely...”

“Stow it!” Papa cut him of curtly. “You did what had to be done and your mission profile only had one objective. The transport and all cargo was to arrive safely, by the way the President of Earth sends his gratitude for keeping his ass in one piece. Dismissed Lieutenant Keys.”

Slicer performed an about face an march out of the office. As he walked past the yeoman’s desk he was handed a data chip. “Your next orders sir.”

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