Terran Confederation space dock. Sol System. 2668.346

Space particles moved past the shuttle windows as it neared space-dock. The confederation was recovering from its near defeat following the false peace. Most of the docks not to mention the manufacturing facilities on Terra and Luna were destroyed. The Kilrathi had intended to do more damage as they assaulted the human homeworld; in fact they had wanted to make the blue orb, on which humanity started its existence, uninhabitable. Why they didn't do it wasn't known. Their attack had limited the production capabilities of the Confederation hampering its fleets severely. Luckily what did trickle of the assembly lines, -new, repaired, or upgraded- was enough to keep the Cat's at bay.

Jason Paul Twain, second Lieutenant in the Confederation Space Force sat in the shuttle staring out into space. He was only recently graduated from the space force academy. He flew during the attack on earth, while officially still in the academy. When it was over, he and his classmates were immediately sent back to school to learn what they still had to learn, officially anyway, in truth he and his surviving friends had been retrained on the new fighters coming out of a secret and undamaged factory. He could now fly the "Light Arrow fighter" or the slightly heavier "Medium Hellcat fighter". He preferred the arrow since she was faster. These new "birds" were rolling of these assembly lines quickly replacing the aging Rapiers, broadswords and whatever else flew out there. They proved to be excellent new fighters in these dangerous times. He smiled as the recently repaired and refitted "TCS Centurion" came into view. She had the typical design of a Victory Class Carrier. She wasn't really something to boast about from an observer point of view. She was built easily and compared to some other designs cheaply, the armor on her was thin and the weapons didn't pack much of a punch. Yet she served her purpose on the frontline, basically launching fighters at targets, while Filling in for her bigger brothers and sisters of the Confederation Class. Next to the Centurion floated her escorts, a cruiser and two destroyers. Jason stretched and elbowed his friend Jasmine Harris.

'Wake up, we're nearly there' she amazed him with her ability to sleep anywhere at any time.

She grunted slowly forcing her eyes open. 'What' already, I just closed my eyes.'

Jason shrugged. 'The pilot cut some corners, the Centurion is out there if you don't believe me.'

'How do you know it's her?'

'They replaced the starboard section of her bow, I can see the edge of it thanks to the scorch marks.'

'Ah, well done, Sherlock.'

Jason blinked at her. 'Who?'

'Sherlock Holmes, the great British detective' she rolled her blue eyes' jeez, crack open a book sometime.'

Jason smiled and looked at his friend and wingman, or rather woman. She was attractive to say the least, her blue eyes rested in a pretty face. The brown reddish hair was tied into a ponytail giving her a severe or professional look. The twinkle in her eye was the only way to give her usual playful attitude away. She and Jason started out as rivals, but when the instructors teamed them up together they became friends. They eased through the practical tests and exams getting into the top tens of most classes. The theory was a little more trouble some, but they made it. When they graduated, strings were pulled to get them assigned to the same ship as wingmen. The Centurion Wing Commander was busy rebuilding its wing and happily accepted the two new pilots.

'What why are you smiling about?' Jasmine asked him stopping his thoughts.

'Oh, just musing a little.'

'About?' Jasmine inquired.

'Us, the war, our training, you name it.'

'Ah, the usual then' she grinned' you worry to much, we'll do fine, and even if we don't you will.'

Jason snorted. He was the leader when they flew, during training he had gotten the simulated kills, but it was her flying that made him able to do the scoring. Without her he wouldn't have gotten that far into the high scores. 'If you have my six no cat can hurt me.'

'You'd better remember that.'

'Like you'd let me forget it?' he asked.

'Well, no' she replied with her usual brutal honesty. As she said it the Shuttle turned and readied itself to land.

Flightdeck TCS Centurion. Space Dock. Sol System, Sol Sector. 2668.346

Lt. Colonel Alexandra Thorbecke, the Centurions Wing commander stood to the side of the flight deck. Officially she was reviewing some of the repair work on her fighter. Unofficially she wanted an excuse to greet the new pilots coming aboard. Especially young Lt. Twain. Being present as they came aboard would be enough of an excuse. She wasn't a beautiful woman, striking was one word for it another was plain. The one thing that stood out were her brown eyes. Which went well with her short dark hair. She felt anxious about meeting the new pilots.

She watched their squadron leader Capt. Miller move toward the spot where the shuttle would land. She saw his second Lt. Dawson follow him closely. Dawson reminded her of herself before she got the promotions. It took a special breed to learn new pilots the drill and teach them how to survive away from the safety net the academy provided. Some took the lessons well; others refused to listen and got blown away. That was the hardest part. If this Jason were like his father, he would listen and listen well.

As the shuttle descended, the pilot putting her down right in front of the small reception party. The doors opened with a slight hiss and out came the passengers. First a young woman came out of the Shuttle. She was pretty enough. Next came Jason, she gasped for breath. He was the spitting image of his father. His short unruly blond hair seemingly refused to yield to comb or hair-gel. His face was the same, a few lines stemming from his father softened by his mother's genes apparently. She couldn't see his eyes but from the images in his file she knew they were green, they made him handsome or so she personally thought.

She watched as they crisply saluted the Capt. and Lt. in front of them. Introducing themselves in typical academy fashion. Dawson would fix that soon enough.

Flightdeck TCS Centurion. Space Dock. Sol System, Sol Sector. 2668.346

Jason stepped of the shuttle ramp, dropping his duffle to the side as he took up his position next to Jasmine.

'Lt's Twain and Harris reporting' she snapped of as they stood to attention.

'Welcome aboard, Lt's.' the man wearing the Captains rank insignia greeted them. 'I'm Captain, Miller, this is Lt. Dawson, and she'll be leading the element I've assigned you to.' Squadrons usually consisted of more than one element, each counting four fighters, which separated into two's, Wingleader and Wingman.'

The woman nodded at them, apparently done appraising them. Jason offered her a half smile.

'She'll show you around' Miller continued. 'When she speaks, you'd do well to listen, she is one of the more seasoned pilots on this crate.'

Jason saw the Captain straighten suddenly and followed his example more out of habit then actually knowing why he was straightening. A woman whom seemed to be about forty, with lines of worry around her eyes, stepped into his line of sight.

'Captain' she greeted calmly. Clearly waiting for something

'Colonel' he returned the greeting, picking up on the hint after an awkward silence. 'These are the new pilots for my squadron, Lt's Twain and Harris.'

'Welcome aboard' she said nicely, giving Jasmine a quick glance but taking in Jason's appearance deeply. 'I flew with your father of the Trafalgar, excellent pilot, saved my life almost as often as I did his, we were a good team.'

Jason nodded, not really sure how to react to this.

'Well, that's all, continue, Captain.'

'Thank you, colonel.'

Jason watched her walk away through the corner of his eyes. He wasn't sure what to make of this encounter. His father never was a high profile flier; he just did his thing. Fighting like many others in this war. His single heroic act got him killed. To meet someone whom knew him, flew with him after all this time was like finding a needle in a haystack.

'Lt. Dawson, will take care of you from here, welcome aboard.' The captain turned away walking off through some hatch.

'Don't mind him,' Dawson spoke for the first time. 'He's very busy, if you guys will follow me I'll see to getting you settled in.'

They walked through several corridors Jason managed not to get lost, mostly because of the small signs on the wall on intersections. Finally Dawson stepped through a hatch.

'This is the berths for our squadron, you'll be sleeping here.' She pointed to a couple of bunks. 'Those are free, put your stuff in the locker, remember to put valuables in the strongbox.'

Paul dropped his bag on the bunk to the far wall. He hadn't expected much, but if this were to be home for his tour here, it would need work. He looked at Jasmine and saw her think the same things.

'It's not much, but you'll look forward to sleeping here often, trust me' Dawson said.

They smiled and followed her through pilot country. They quickly entered the Bar/Mess or as Dawson called it the "Hub of flight operations." 'We've got alcohol, most non-alcoholic beverages; there are complementary nuts and other snack-foods of course.' She pointed to a table containing the typical board. 'There is chess, all kinds of weird board games and the barman, holds several decks of cards. More importantly however, we're all pilots when in here, not Captains, Colonels, just pilots.'

Jason looked at the pilots playing a round of poker. They were very into it, or so it seemed because of the pile of chips in the center of the table.

'Bomber pilots, they typically ignore us "Fighter jockey's" until we need to get a Cat of their big ass sixes'

'Keep on dreaming, Dawson' one of the players said.

'Bite me, "Target".'

'Don't use my call sign in vain, "Chaser".'

Jason quickly picked up on the banter in the room. It seemed a typical occurrence here.

'Who are the new faces?' "Target" wanted to know.

'These are Lt's Twain and Harris' Dawson intro-ed her charges.

'No, call-signs?' Target asked.

'Oh, sure, they called me "Ice Queen", he's called "Striker" cause he played that position in the academy, soccer team' Jasmine quickly stepped in.

'Your lucky, you've got nice ones that one over there' Target pointed across the table to one of his friends' he was called "Goblin" and it stuck.'

Goblin glared at his friend. 'I told you all the good call-signs were taken by the time they gave me one.'

'That's because you didn't stand out' a third player interjected throwing another chip on the pile.

'Yeah, well, I couldn't go around being called "Guy who slept with the admirals only daughter" now could I, my career would have been over before I even blinked.'

'You didn't sleep with her' "Target" returned.

'What Career' the third man asked at the same time.

Dawson rolled her eyes motioning her charges to follow her. 'They'll go on bickering like that for hours, it amazes me they actually get the job done,' she paused' personally I blame it on their gunners.'

'Hey, we heard that' Goblin responded.

Dawson smiled as she led her newbies into the corridors. 'Sometimes they make me think they're faking it.'

'They're very good if they are' Jason responded.

'My thoughts exactly' Dawson said opening another hatch allowing them to entered before she did. 'This is our ready room, the Captain, briefs us here, I suggest you follow the other pilots to the flightdeck from here, it's pretty close but you might take a wrong turn.' She smiled vaguely. 'I'll take you to it, you'll be wanting to see your fighters.'

They nodded with wide grins. This would be good.