Chapter 2 – "No-one said the real thing was easy, they just said it was real."

Kerrin was the last in the ready room. The three other pilots stared quickly at the door, and then snapped back to attention. Mikael kept his eyes in the Sergeant in the front, and betrayed no emotion. The other two pilots were new to Kerrin. Beta three was a Terran female, tall, nearly as tall as Mikael. Neither Kerrin nor Mikael knew her name. She gazed with rapt attention to the Sergeant, and was the first to glance back after Kerrin entered. The fourth was a Vasudan, and from Kerrin's point, the Vasudan was a male. He stood as high as Kerrin, and wore his flight suit. The Sergeant was the same from the briefing room, and shouted out, "Attention!" The rookies formed a tighter line, none wishing to draw attention to themselves. The Sergeant continued, and his voice was loud in the cramped room. There were plenty of seats, but none if the rookies wanted to sit. "We are en-route to the Alpha-Centauri jump node, and will exit subspace in an hour. At that time, we will be escorting a small convoy of freighters to Vega. There have been no reports of pirate activity, and as well, the convoy is guarded by Alpha wing from the Aeolus – class frigate, the Iron Hammer. There will no problem, you take over for Alpha wing, run the convoy to the jump node, then return to the Tempest. Be at the flight deck in twenty minutes. Dismissed." The pilots stepped out of the room to prepare. The new ones to Kerrin were out first, but the Vasudan turned around and raised his hand. Kerrin knew a little Vasudan courtesy, and he raised his hand opposite to the Vasudan's, and pressed the palm to his forehead. The Vasudan looked surprised, and then did the same. He began grunting strangely, until Kerrin realised he was trying to laugh. He asked, "What is your name, friend?" The Vasudan answered, his speech going through a translator in his throat, "My name is Vaa'shoom Dakl. What is your name Terran?" Kerrin also knew Vasudans were addressed with their second name. "My name Dakl, is Kerrin Roeber. This is Mikael Lebenen. We are your wing." Dakl bobbed his head back, and smiled. It looked strange on a Vasudan. Kerrin began walking and talking, "If I may Dakl, why are you in a Myrmadon fighter? Can not Vasudans only pilot ships made by your race?" Dakl nodded again, then answered. "That is true, but that my clan is wealthy, and I have always admired your style of ships, Roeber. My clan father is Mekhu Shem'seti, and with his money, I purchased a fighter designed for a Vasudan." Mikael broke in at this point. "Did you say your father is Mekhu Shem'seti? The owner of Mekhu Enterprises?" Dakl again nodded. "As Lebenen knows, my clan has much money. But when I enrolled at the academy on Vega, and was accepted quickly. But because of my clan family, no captains would accept me as a pilot. I transferred from ship to ship, but I feel dishonoured that I have not yet fought, and I was given wings nearly a year past." Mikael asked, "Well, it seems none of us will be able to fight at all today." Kerrin nodded, and turned away from the others. "I need to suit up, you two go ahead, I'll meet you there."

The flight deck was cold, the deep vacuum of space leaking through the thin shield between space and the deck. Kerrin stood there in his flight suit, holding onto his helmet and mask. The four Myrmadons were being prepped by the techs, the rising amount of cursing a testament to their success. Only one other pilot was there, the female from the ready room. Kerrin walked over and called out, "Hey there." She turned, and upon seeing who it was, shook her head, and asked, "What?" Kerrin was a little surprised, but asked. "I'm Kerrin Roeger, what's your name?" She looked annoyed, but said. "If we are going to be flying together, I suppose you need to know. My name is Lucia Delhardy. Beta four." Kerrin smiled, and continued, "Ah. Well, are you ready for this mission?" She glared fiercely at him. "Yes." He winced, but continued the attack. "Well, that's good news for us. Have you met Mikael or Dakl?" She kept her stare on him, "No." Kerrin shuddered, and looked around for reinforcements. Mikael and Dakl stepped off of a lift, talking animatedly. Kerrin waved them over, and saw that Mikael took an immediate interest in Lucia. They stopped in front of her, and Dakl gave his hand to her, "My clan name is Vaa'shoom Dakl, what is your clan name?" She seemed surprised, but smiled and shook his hand, "I am Lucia Delhardy." Mikael offered his hand with a grin and, "Mine's Mikael Lebenen." She snapped him a glare, and walked off to her fighter. Kerrin began laughing, while both Dakl and Mikael looked confused. The techs waved them over, and Kerrin sprinted to his fighter, "We'ed better get a move out."

The four myrmidons burst from the bow flight deck of the Deimos, and instantly began twirling maneuvers, and rolling. It had been a long time since they had been in a fighter and out of the simulators, and they felt it. A com buzzed in Kerrin's helmet. "Beta flight, this is Control. Form up, the convoy will be arriving soon." Kerrin flicked a switch on his board, "Alright Beta, take my wing. We hold at 4 mark 6 mark niner niner 2 from the Tempest." The four ships neatly lined up in front of the Deimos, and a little to starboard. The timer appeared on Kerrin's heads-up display. (HUD) He saw about thirty seconds until the convoy would warp back into real space from the Alpha-Centauri node. Kerrin waited, his eyes on the stars, and the imaged graphic of the node on his HUD. The timer clicked down to zero, and the warp field appeared. The giant blue arc was enough to encompass nearly three kilometres in every direction, but nothing came out of it. The arc was there for ten seconds, and nothing emerged. Kerrin heard his com click, "Control, this is Beta two. (Mikael) Where's the convoy?"