The bellowing horn sounded, time to take off. The last of the cargo was loaded onto the ship and sealed in the hold. The massive iridium doors closed and were locked heavily from the inside. The bridge was a madhouse of crew members running about to their stations. All were wearing the usual grey uniform with "VEGA" stitched onto the left breast.
As crew members took to their stations, Fleet Commander David Grest took his seat in the CO chair. "Do we have all of the cargo loaded in?" He asked.
"Yes, sir. Loaded and sealed," answered one of the crewmen while observing security footage of the cargo hold on his computer monitor.
"Excellent. Systems check!" Grest ordered.
"To me, fellas, to me," followed a crewman. A list of data popped up on his screen. He examined it all. "All systems clear, sir!"
"Alright. We have a four hour flight to the Processing Complex. I want all of you to keep your eyes peeled for any rebels. We're in dangerous territory and they've been rioting. Sindy, you have my permission ahead of time to activiate shields immediately if you feel we're in danger of an attack. Once we reach the Processing Complex, we follow our orders and routine and immediately make our way to our sector ships. Then, we will have a twenty seven hour flight to planet 3146 to deposit the cargo." He paused and scratched his eyebrow. "Let's get going. I don't want to spend anymore time in this godforsaken helium-3 field, I want to get home just like all of you. Launch."
The bridge erupted into crewmen pecking at computers and yelling orders to others. The bridge began to shake lightly and the low hum of the ship taking off was heard. After a few minutes, the vibration subsided as they reached open space. The bridge had quieted down as people had calmed down and gave less orders. All that was heard was the typing of keyboards, the beeping of computers and the low hum of the ship.
Grest stood from his chair. "Baker, lets take a look at our surrounding area." He walked down to a round, silver table with a black, shiny surface that stood in the center of the bridge. Grest stopped at the surrounding rail that was a couple inches away from the table. It served simply as somewhere to rest your hands. It lit up and a blue holographic image of the Cruiser ship began to float above the table. Grest gave a pinching motion with his hand and the ship shrunk and five more ships came into view. "Okay, the fleet is too spread out. I'd like to tighten it up for security reasons. If we're too spread out, our ships could be picked off one by one and we don't want that happening."
"Aye, Commander," the Communications Officer replied. He began to type on his computer, giving the order to the rest of the fleet. "It's sent, Commander."
"Thank you, Steven." David Grest watched as the rest of the holographic fleet came together. He zoomed out even further on the hologram until the entire fleet was nothing more but a dot. Surrounding them in all directions were rebel space stations.The sight of the stations made him nervous so he tried to reason with himself. Once I see a rebel fleet is when I need to be nervous, he told himself. "It looks like a smooth flight to Processing. If there's any problems, you know where to find me." He shut down the hologram and walked to a door in the back wall of the bridge. Scanning his hand on a blue plate beside the door, the door whisked open and a pleasing female voice spoke, "Welcome, Fleet Commander Grest."
His office was nothing more than a large rectangle with a silver desk in the center. In front of it were two white chairs and behind was one black chair. He sat down in the black chair and activated his computer. The surface of his desk lit up a light blue with the words "VEGA Federation" appearing on it. He scanned his hand on the desk which logged him into his federation account. He tapped the mail icon in the corner of the desk and began to type out a personal email:
"Shai, I've just taken off from the helium-3 field and will fly four hours before reaching the Processing Complex. After that, I have a twenty seven hour flight ahead of me to our destination. I'll, of course, try to be home as soon as I can. Tomorrow marks exactly five months since I've been gone (Yes, I've been counting). Luckily, this is my last shipment so I'll be home very soon. I'm sorry to bring up the depressing truth but, you know me. I love you and I miss you (like, a lot). Tell Liam I love him, I found a cool stone for him in the helium field. Stop worrying about me, I know what I'm doing. Everything will be okay and I'll see you very soon. With love, David."
David hoped the lighthearted email would cheer her up a bit. He missed her terribly. He sat back in his chair and closed his eyes. He often wished his office would have a window view. Safety first, I guess. Before he knew it, he was home and hugged his wife and son. He gave Liam a red crystal he found in the helium-3 field. Liam looked at it and his eyes gleamed the same red. He looked at his father with a strange smile as his eyes began to glow bright red and the word "VEGA" appeared on his forehead. Their home disappeared as did their surroundings, it seemed to fall away into nothing. Now floating in the middle of no where, David watched as his son's eyes were glowing brighter and brighter. He began to laugh and hundreds of armed ships appeared behind him and began to open fire.
David gasped awake. His desk was flashing a red "ALERT" sign. He cursed as he leaped up and darted to the door. The bridge was surprisingly calm despite the warning his desk gave. "Anyone want to film me in on what's happening?" His question was more of a demand.
"I activated the shields, sir," answered Sindy. "There's a rebel fleet in our proximity."
David contained his panic. "Are they on the move?"
"What are they doing?"
"I assume they're waiting. I wouldn't panic just yet, though. They may be waiting for an artillery fleet or scouts, not cargo."
"That's right. Many rebels have been attacking those fleets lately for parts and data on VEGA ships. How far out are they?"
"Thirty eight minutes, Sir."
"Okay, I'd rather play things safe. We have our shields up which was a good call, thank you, Sindy. I want to prepare our weapons. This fleet needs to be defended at all costs. We're at war, getting out of this peacefully will be near impossible, especially if they're waiting for us. Is the rest of the fleet aware?"
"Aye, Sir. They do." The Communications Officer replied.
Commander Grest walked to the table and fired up the holograms. He observed the location of the fleet compared to them. He zoomed in on the rebel fleet. All six ships were heavily armed. "Can we avoid them? Go around them, I mean?"
"We wouldn't make it to the Processing Complex on schedule."
"I realize that, Sindy. I'd say it would be better to arrive late than not at all because we're all dead because of a rebel fleet attacked us and stole all of the cargo we were tasked to transport." His panic could be heard through his words, he did a poor job of hiding it.
There was a pause in the bridge. For several moments, it was quiet. That is, until Sindy spoke up. "Carson, do you think we can steer clear of the fleet?"
Carson answered, "Considering we haven't stressed the engines too hard, I think we can. And I speak on behalf of the whole fleet. But, just because we try to scurry away doesn't mean we'll actually get away. The real questions we need to be asking are 'How do we fly a damaged ship?' or 'How can we all survive this attack?' I don't mean to be the bug in your coffee but the chances of us getting out of this alive are slim to nothing." Everyone stared at Carson. "Like I said, I don't mean to be the bug in-"
"Okay, here's what we do," interrupted Grest, "We attempt to avoid this fleet but we still prepare for battle. Either way, we're prepared and there's a chance for us." There was another pause in the bridge. Everyone was terrified of the very near future. Everyone on the bridge was contemplating death. "Battle strategy," he displayed the holographic fleet. "We are this Cruiser." He pointed to it. "In our fleet we have two more Cruisers, two Destroyers and one Battleship. When it's time to attack, we will fly around the rebel fleet and focus all of their attention on us, opening up plenty of chances for the rest of our fleet to attack. We need to hope they focus on us. It's cheaper to repair one ship than six."
"So we're a distraction," Carson mused. "Awesome. Every single one of those ships will be firing at us. Do you really expect us to get out of this alive?"
"Yes. We are the only ship in this fleet with boosted strafe thrusters and rear thrusters. The rest of the fleet is outfitted with stronger weapons and weapon boosts. If you really think about it, this ship was literally built to be a distraction."
"Because this ship is a distraction, I assume we have stronger shields than the rest of the fleet? Asked Sindy.
"No, we have the same shields as the rest."
Carson groaned, "That's just fantastic-"
"We have stronger armor." The entire bridge was silent.
"They're on the move!" A Security Administrator yelled.
"Contact the rest of the fleet and inform them on the plan." Steven, the Communications Officer, complied. "We need to move into a wedge formation. We need to be up front, the other Cruisers need to be behind us, Destroyers in the back and Battleship in the middle. When the other fleet begins to turn, the rest of our ships will turn adjacent to them, they should be firing at their backs." David scratched his eyebrow and wiped his brow of the sweat gathering on it. He examined the holograms, watching as the ships got into the wedge formation just like he ordered. "Are our weapons primed?"
"Aye, Commander," said the Arms Officer. "As are the rest of the ships in our fleet."
"Good. Can I get an ETA?"
"Eight minutes, sir."
"I want you all to stay calm, think straight and don't worry." David was never any good at giving speeches. He scratched his eyebrow again.
"Don't worry," Carson mocked.
"Seven minutes, Sir."
"Is the rest of the fleet ready?"
"Aye, Commander," Steven assured.
David scratched his eyebrow.
"They increased their speed. Five minutes."
David gave a little prayer to whatever force watched over him. He could see the rebel fleet through the window of the bridge.
"Two minutes, Commander!"
David felt like he was going to throw up; his stomach was twisting. He tried his best to ignore the nausea and scratched his eyebrow. "Hold engines."
"Forward that order to the fleet."
"Already done, Sir."
He saw the fleet ahead hold their engines as well. Each fleet faced each other, still. "Continue hold until they move. We will not make the first strike." He kept glancing back and forth at the fleet in front of them and the holographic display on the table. He scratched his eyebrow once more.
"Hold." It felt like he was standing there forever. His heart was beating ferociously and his stomach twisted even more.
"We're at war. I don't think Bishop will tolerate mercy. We must attack." Sindy said.
"This isn't mercy, it's patience," he replied. "Strategy." After what felt like thirty minutes of tense waiting, the fleet moved. All ships thrust forward. "Engage," he ordered. The ship began to move several degrees starboard, beginning its strategic move around the fleet. "Once we're in range, I want all weapons firing." After a few more seconds, the weapons of the ship began firing. The ship rumbled as yellow pulses fired towards the fleet. Just like he planned, the rebel fleet followed them, turning away from the rest of the fleet. The opposing ship began to fire scatter missiles. The ship rumbled as the missiles exploded on the shields.
They were nearly halfway around the rebel fleet when the rest of their fleet was in range and began opening fire. No one could witness it through the windows because of their position put the rest of the fleet behind them. Commander Grest watched on the hologram but wanted a quick upgrade. "Can I get live imaging instead of holograms, please?" His order was followed and a capsule was shot up from the roof of the ship, traveling up until small puffs of air slowed it down to a stop. The capsule popped open and a camera pointed down at the battle began recording and streaming back to the ship. The hologram cut away and was replaced with a live image of what was happening.
The rebel fleet focused all attention on them while the rest of the VEGA fleet opened fire on them. Scatter missiles, pulse rays and gauss drivers made solid impacts on the fleet. Despite the intense action, it was eerily quiet besides the rumble of the ship. David gripped the rail around the display table so tightly that his knuckles began to whiten. Sweat dripped from his face and was seen soaking through his clothes. He heard someone shout, "Shields down!" but couldn't place who. As soon as they did say it though, the ship began to shake more violently and the impacts were deafening.
On the live image, three of the rebel ships were destroyed. Looking out the window, David watched as the destroyed ones idly floated in every direction and witnessed another explode in a fiery ball that sent debris flying in every direction. After shielding his eyes from the bright light of the explosion, David reopened his eyes to a corpse slapping against the window of the bridge. It's helmet was shattered and the skull of whoever it was was visible within it. No one mentioned it. Another ship was destroyed, one left in the fleet.
"Our armor won't hold much longer!"
"We're sitting ducks!" yelled Carson.
"It's fine! We won the battle already." David watched on the display as every ship in the fleet opened fire at once. A wave of missiles hurled toward the last ship and made full contact, sending it into a million pieces. The bridge erupted into a victorious pandemonium. Everyone was cheering, shouting, clapping, laughing and embracing. Fleet Commander Grest stood astonished and walked to his office.
After the door closed, he hunched over onto his knees and took deep breaths. He grabbed a handkerchief and wiped away the sweat on his face. Walking over to his desk, he contacted his superior. On the wall, the VEGA Federation symbol disappeared and a figure with red eyes stood in its place. David saluted and spoke. "Lord Bishop, I was just attacked by a rebel fleet. The cargo and the blueprints you had me transport are safe and still in VEGA hands. How they would know about the blueprints, I don't know. Perhaps it was a coincidence but the entire rebel fleet is destroyed.This has set us back about three minutes but we will still continue the mission upon your request."
Bishop spoke, his voice altered by the computer and his face covered with a helmet."Thank you very much Fleet Commander David Grest. As you know, these blueprints I had you transport are very vital. I'm glad to hear they are still safe. Do you suffer any damages to the fleet?"
"Minor damages to one ship, Sir."
"Excellent. I must say, Commander, I am very pleased with your performances and duties. Thanks to Commanders like yourself, we would have no chance destroying these ridiculous rebel forces. I think you've earned a promotion."
"Thank you very much, Sir," David said with a smile. He saluted once more and the image turned to static before returning to the VEGA Federation symbol. His smile disappeared and he sat down at his desk. Instead of scanning his hand, he signed onto another account and began typing an email:
"Burr, I am sorry to inform you that I've had to destroy one of our rebel fleets. I did it with good intentions, Sir. I cannot blow my cover. There is good that has come from this, I have been offered a promotion and will rank up. Soon, we will turn VEGA into a pile of dust. My actions are for the good of the Rebellion. Fleet Commander David Grest."
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