This, in its own sense, is a Freelancer topic. Fanfic should make a Freelancer section, no?

~~~ And the Sun rose again ~~~

Chapter One: The Rheinland Advance

The Sun's gleaming white glow protruded above the skyline of Leeds. I wearily opened my eyes. Six hours of darkness takes a toll on a man, I thought to myself. I, in turn, had just arrived the day before, and it would be a long time until my mind had tuned into the planet's rotation speed, it was sort of like major jet lag.

Groaning, I lurched from my hard cot and slipped on my leather jacket. Activating the sub-monitor, I checked the current weather and temperature, as well as daily news. Nothing big was happening, a few Hacker attacks, five dead, that was normal for the Sirius sector. Pirate attacks were incredibly common now, since the ordeal with that Edison Trent character. Liberty claims that security has been beefed up, but the Rogues in that sector have gotten much more vicious, bringing more Wolfhounds and developing new fighters. Named the "Mako," or something down that alley, it is the ship they are using to brutally rip apart those transports. Aptly named, it was built for speed and deadliness, the transport leaders have very little time to react until they are torn to pieces. I have always wanted to buy one, but cash is short and I am part of the Liberty Navy, meaning that it is a big no-no to go anywhere NEAR Pirate ships (except to bombard them with laser fire). Tsk. . . Some job.

I picked up the sub-monitor and headed for the hangar. Scheduled to depart for Norfolk Shipyard, I clicked up and checked the status of my Negotiator, a standard issue ship similar to the Patriot. Everything was A- OK, and I sent a signal for the mechanics to prep it for immediate departure. I was on assignment in the Bretonia system from Norfolk and was about due to return. I stopped by the local bar and grabbed a bottle of Feines Gebräu, a new Rheinland drink which roughly means "Fine Brew." Nevertheless, it tasted good, but people looked down on those who drank it simply because of Rheinland – Liberty tensions in politics. They always argue on who gets what new system, what should be done about pirates, et cetera.

Rheinland, in the own sense, was being stunted economically and politically because of their attacks the year preceding. Liberty, Kusari, and Bretonia have pushed them back in every way possible to stop them from repeating their actions. No one is to trade with any Rheinland system, and all Jump Gates to their system network has been vaporized. The top Rheinland officials were infuriated and swore revenge by all means necessary. No one pays any attention to them at all

I arrived at the Leeds hangar and gave them my card. In a few minutes my sleek Negotiator slid into view. It wasn't much, but it kept me alive. The pointed nose and double - tailed body reminded me of a Patriot / Hawk mix. I paid the valet officer and piled what food I could afford into the cargo bay and climbed in. Activating what systems I needed (in order to conserve fuel), my ship came to life and I guided her out of the dock and into the atmosphere.

Perhaps that little job was necessary, but I guess I will never know. All the Liberty Navy assigned me to go along with is to investigate a small Outcast base that was being assembled in Cambridge. Not a very big threat, but it couldn't have been left to bloom into a real threat. It was just me, two wingmen, and a specially designed Defender equipped with a single Sunslayer. A single torpedo was all that was needed to down the small class Orillion station. Once the torpedo hit its mark, the other Outcasts turned their tails and fled like Hell on wheels, if one can call it that. I would be happy to get back to New York and rest for a little while and actually get some sleep! The major House planets (Manhattan, New Berlin, etc.) are really the only planets which have an orbit and rotation pattern very similar to Old Earth, so they say. I wonder what happened to those planets after the Hundred Years War. I guess I shall never know.

The ship purred softly as I approached the newly assembled Jump Gate to the New York system. This was constructed approximately a year ago, after the Arizona Alliance, named after the battleship it was signed on. Basically Bretonia and Liberty are completely allied provinces now, and now and then one can see a Bretonia cruiser in Liberty space, and vice versa.

I was about to jump to New York, the Gate loomed before me, when I received an urgent call over a secure channel. "---- To all Li—ty Navy and Mil-tary tro—s. This is Pl--- Manhattan, we are under atta-k! Send a—forces to Manhattan ASAP!" The message was garbled and full of static, obviously something was going on.

At once the channel was bustling with activity. "Planet Manhattan, this is Battleship Phoenix. We are en route to Manhattan now. What is going on over there?"

The response came back quickly. "It's an en---- fle-t! Battle—ps, cruise-s, we need supp—t, quickly! They're every-----, we cannot stop them! AAAAA--------" Silence echoed on the communicator. I did not know what to do.

I radioed to the Phoenix, which was detected in the Leeds system. "Battleship Phoenix, this is Jack Schwartz, what is your position?"

"We are almost on top of you, and will pick you up for transport to the battlefield shortly." The reply came. I immediately turned on all active scanners to find the Battleship. Sure enough, a Dreadnought loomed behind me.

As I entered formation, the Phoenix radioed me again. "Something is horribly wrong. We are receiving reports that Kusari space has been attacked. The ships came out of nowhere and attacked without warning!"

"Who do you suppose is doing thi-" I was cut short as my sensors went off the hook. Plasma and radiation readings were off the scale. I peered out of my cockpit's canopy and my eyes widened. A wave rippled away from somewhere to the left of the Jump Gate, and plasma sparked all around it. At once there was a glob of orange energy that quickly materialized and it seemed to split the very fabric of space itself! The orange sphere widened to about the size of a small asteroid until it stopped, plasma energy rippling around it. Suddenly a titanic battleship fleet cruised out of the tear.

"What the hell is that?" Phoenix radioed us back.

My hands shaking, I picked up the comm, "It's the Rheinland. They have come for their revenge."

The mammoth battleship was unlike any Rheinland Capital Ship I had ever seen. The bow of the ship looked like an egg, except the very front of it was flattened off with some sort of opening on it. It was slightly pinched in the center with five huge thrusters in the back. It truly was a sight to behold, but the sight of it made one tremble with fear.

The opening on the front of the Rheinland battleship opened slowly, revealing a clear dome of a glass-like material. The dome shimmered for a second, and then released an enormous plasma blast right at the Jump Gate, annihilating it. As the huge metal plates collapsed inward and our passageway was neutralized, it was clear that it was to stay and fight.

I broke formation and spun away just as the ship opened fire on the Phoenix. I never heard from any of my fleet members again. The battleship was torn to pieces by the rapid fire from the numerous cannons, and its wingmen were shot down by the Valkyries that swooped in from the strange orange "rip." I activated my cruise engines to try and save myself, but another orange sphere opened up a passageway right in the way of the trade lane. Again, a Rheinland Capital Ship, this time a cruiser, which resembled its big brother. In full cruise mode I spun my ship around and tried to escape. Immediately I was under heavy fire from both ships.

A photon blast ripped through my starboard wing as I sat furiously scanning for a possible escape route when I realized something. Why not take the same route that they came in on? I took odds of one hundred to one as I tore towards the gap in space. Narrowly missing many missiles and one torpedo, my ship broke the orange sphere and immediately I was plunged into a swirl of colors. It was some sort of inter-dimensional gateway that I had not seen before.

In a matter of seconds I was spit out in another part of space, but this was a part I had seen before.

It was one hundred thousand kilometers, sector 3E of the New Berlin system. From here my adventure began.

~~~ Next Chapter: A Closely Guarded Secret