6: First Rule of Engagement (3/3)

22 3 0

March 24, 2180 (New Era Calendar)/
Antilla System, Arveria Aerospace

"Commander, where are we? This isn't Stagea TACTS." That, from Antes Eslos.

"No shit, Golden Boy," Kalvyn Jemara quipped.

"Stow the excess, Alpha Twelve. We're at..." Commander Myles Warren paused to check his nav computer. "...Arveria."

It came out more as a question than a statement. The next voice on the Alpha Squadron frequency belonged to Camilo Ripley in Alpha Five. "That doesn't make any sense, Commander."

"No, it doesn't Five." That was Dara Joyce, Alpha Four. "Arveria should be in our database. But I'm not seeing it anywhere. It's like the planet was wiped from our navs. No wonder our hyperdrive failsafes kicked in."

Myles was impressed with Dara Joyce. She was going to make one hell of an Intelligence officer some day. And she was right. All navigation databases contained the stellar coordinates of every charted celestial body. This allowed for navigators to plot hyperspace courses without fear of blasting off into a planet, star or other anomaly. If someone mistakenly plotted a course that sent them into a star and jumped to hyperspace on that vector— entirely possible in an emergency situation — then hyperdrive failsafes would kick in the moment they came into range of a gravity well. Arveria was the tenth planet away from the G-class star at the heart of Antilla. Because of its irregular orbit Arveria's status from planet to dwarf-planet was always in question. Planet or not, it should have been in the star chart.

He toggled through modes on his sensor board and picked up anti-matter warhead signatures. Out ahead of them, chained explosions, flickering light pulses and other tell-tale signs of a major hard-space engagement.  

"Commander, what's going on out there?" That was Izzy's voice.

Myles flipped through the comm channels searching for anything that would give him a sit-rep. Then, he picked up something. It was faint and full of static, but SOS calls rarely needed to be clear:  "Mayday. Mayday. This... Alliance... Skyline... attacked... Patriots... need assistance..."

Myles froze. The Alliance had come to Antilla. The Patriots arrived to give them a warm welcome. This wasn't good. He clicked back over to Alpha Squad's tactical frequency and prepared himself for what needed to be done. It only took Myles a heartbeat to decide on the proper course of action, even if it meant leading a green unit into the line of fire.

Were they ready? Probably not. But they were good enough. They'd have to be. And without their help, the Alliance group would surely be wiped out. A political nightmare Antilla couldn't afford. He hated thinking like that, but that was an unfortunate truth -- one that could not be ignored. Myles keyed his mic.

"Alpha Squadron, listen close. There's an Alliance Space Station out there being hounded by a Patriot task force and they need our help. We'll have to sort out the details on that later. But for now, let's see if we can give the Alliance boys a hand. Remember, this is the real thing, people. So no fancy heroics."

Myles shook his head in disgust. Whatever you do, just bring these kids back alive.. He exhaled tirelessly.

"Form up and accelerate to attack speed. Fly fast and shoot straight. We're going in!"

-    -    -

Kyra raced past Gonzo's field of vision, her Hammerhead venting streams of plasma from both engines. One Tigershark had already fallen under her cannons, but another had already taken position on her six.

She rolled and tumbled in an attempt to evade enemy fire. For a split second, she thought of requesting help, and realized that everyone else had their backs against the wall as well. There was no way any of them could break off long enough to wax the bandit off her tail.

Into the Black: Birth of LegendsWhere stories live. Discover now