March 25, 2180 (New Era Calendar)/
Pegasus System, Utopia Shipyards, Pegasus Three high-orbit
Colonel Reece Lawson climbed swiftly out of the cockpit of his Z-50X Mako and into a sea of activity. The pilot glanced up at his bird and gave it a nod, thanking it for bringing him back home safely. He was the leader of the Confederation's Jasta 2, an archaic nomenclature abandoned just before the Aegis Initiative went into effect, but still used in an official capacity.
Jasta, a linguistic relic from the Old Era, roughly translated into fighter squadron, though most who knew of Jasta 2, knew them commonly as Daemon Squadron. Those same people regarded them as the best pilots the Confederation had to offer. Some would have gone as far as to consider them the best unit in the entire galaxy. None of that concerned their leader, a man who took more pride in adherence to his own personal code of honor than in the opinions of others.
Reece yanked his helmet off, revealing a head of fiery red hair that bad begun to go bald at his temples. Contrasting with his hair, a set of ice-blue eyes that almost seemed artificial. A scar ran down the length of the left side of his face, from forehead to the middle of his cheek.
Flight gear in hand, Reece entered the lift that would take him from the operations deck to the executive level of the orbital shipyard facility. Second later, the lift ended its descent and Reece stepped off into what was known as the Hall of Heroes. Unlike most of the decks on the Utopia, which were properly military, the executive deck most resembled a museum.
Wall-to-wall red carpet highlighted with gold accoutrements greeted Reece as he began the journey back to his office. The walls were, in fact, holographic projectors and as Reece walked on, the walls lit up with holographs from the short history of the Confederation. The pageantry galled Reece. He would never question the Confederate cause but often called the Confederation's resolve, and that's what irked him about all of this.
He passed the first hologram -- the four generals who led the heroic first strikes against the Alliance installations that ultimately kickstarted the war. They became known as the Four Fathers and would always hold a place in the hearts of many, including Reece. The holographs, garbed in black dress regalia, saluted in unison as Reece passed.
The next hologram he floated past sprung from the wall, a technological spectre. This was Jefferson Terrell, the first President of the Confederation of Seceded Systems. The hologram floated, larger-than-life, waving diplomatically next to Reece as he continued down the hall. We could certainly use another one like you, Mister President, Reece thought to himself as he came up on the third hologram.
A towering hologram of the white-haired Aron Lagerfeld made Reece Lawson scoff. Lagerfeld, evidenced by his station here in the Hall of Heroes, garnered the highest of praise from the politicians that ran the Confederation. But those who knew better believed the man was beyond undeserving of this recognition. Perhaps it was just easier to label the man a martyr after Gonzo Antreya vaped him and went over to the Alliance immediately after. Reece held no reservations, a monster like Lagerfeld needed killing there were no questions in his mind about that. But the leader of Daemon Squadron knew that there was no honor in defection.
Reece ran a gloved hand over the scar tissue along the side of his face -- a reminder of a wrong he hoped to right before he met his inevitable end -- and stopped to glare up at Lagerfeld's hologram. Antreya should have used you as a lesson to show the damned politicians what should be done to those who dishonor the purest principles of the Confederation. You got off lucky.
Two more holograms waited for him as he continued the trek to his office. The next, one of a man in an all-black Admiral's uniform. Reece shook his head. The holograph on display had been altered from its original -- a hologram of the Admiral, Korrin Vinder, and two of his best and brightest students, one of which was Reece himself.
The Colonel, mere meters away from his office, stopped to look at the last hologram, a lavish image, shuffled through a dozen enhancement filters. This one was of Oram Trigent, the current sitting president of the Confederation. It didn't take much for Reece to conceal his disdain for the president -- he'd allowed much of the decay within the Confederation to fester -- and as Reece saw it, was a worse enemy than the Alliance could ever hope to be.
Whether or not it a shrewd political play to keep Reece in line, the president placed his own son, Enygma, into Daemon Squadron under Reece's command. Had Enygma proven to be a liability, this would have proven problematic. Thankfully, the young pilot was skilled, so much, in fact, that he'd already made ace and showed flashes of leadership that made Reece almost thankful. Hell, a part of him almost doubted that Enygma was even President Trigent's son.
Finally through the Hall of Heroes, Reece threw his gear on the floor and took a seat at his desk and activated his computer terminal. Removing his flight gloves, the Colonel punched in a series of commands that brought up messages that had been forwarded to him while he completed another routine CAP -- Combat Aerospace Patrol. He scanned down the list of messages, mostly trivial, until he got to the last one. His eyes lit up as he pressed a finger on the terminal screen.
He was prompted for a complex twenty-string decryption code that his fingers input in the blink of an eye. "Confirm, Colonel Reece Lawson."
Vocal ID confirmed.
"Begin playback," Reece commanded. The message began, the voice on the recording digitally distorted.
Colonel, the Patriots were successful in the acquisition of the new Alliance weapons. Unfortunately, the Alliance Research Station was lost with all hands. Antreya and his people fought valiantly, thought I would expect no less from one of your best students. We may have to accelerate our time table. Stenbach is itching to make his move on Antilla soon. We will need to get our hands on Nova before then. I will keep you apprised as the situation evolves. And I look forward to returning to the squadron. Major Jaqsun, out.
Reece hated using subterfuge, but at this point in time, enemies foreign and domestic threatened his Confederation and he would do everything, anything, he deemed necessary to insure the survival and prosperity of Pegasus and the Confederation.
Then he began drafting a brief that he would take to President Oram Trigent informing him of the plan already in motion -- one that would bring Antilla into the Confederation.
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Into the Black: Birth of LegendsScience Fiction
A squadron of trainee pilots who only want to make their mark. A secret experimental weapons platform at the heart of a wide ranging interstellar conspiracy. A galaxy on the brink of destruction... And a little bit of freshly squeezed, space opera p...