By ChaosEternus Chapter 1: In the Beginning

"In the beginning there was light, or so they say. Personally I've never been a big believer in the bible, hell in anything remotely religious. I just believe in me, and my wingmates. Everything else isn't that important to a RAF pilot on combat operations, except if he is going to 'buy' it, but that we tend not to think about"

"Anyway, from who knows where and who knows how, the RAF had managed to quietly get enough money from the government for us brits to finally have a true space program of our own, not just one that rides on the back of NASA, ESA and the Russians. How they managed that I don't know, talk about your Herculean tasks, getting money off Labour for anything new is like trying to shut up a group of gossiping housewives for more than 10 seconds, not gonna happen"

"But still, somehow, someway they had managed it, and without twenty trips through parliament too"

"So here I am, a 25 year old veteran strapped to something created out of 20million individual pieces, each one made by the lowest bidder, something to make you feel real safe when your about to blast off, with a few thousand tonnes of propellant shoved up your arse on a craft which you are getting the pleasure of test piloting"

"Its fun. Really"

"At this point, the aging 747 Classic, bought second hand of British Airways we are using to carry the Tempest , as this baby is called, has just reached release height, and I am quickly running through the final checklist, all checks out okay, when the first slight hint of what's to come is heard over the radio"

"Ground Control, this is Mother Goose, anything on meteorological? We're seeing some weird atmospheric effects ahead, almost like a stuffed cloud"

NB: Stuffed Cloud- Heavy Flak in Clouds

"Negative on that Mother Goose, weather shows nothing, nothing on Radar or the real-time sat feed, are you aborting?"

"Negative, must just have been a reflection or something, we are go here"

"Copy, begin final launch sequence"

"At which point, I was hitting controls and flicking switches all over the place, and had no time to wonder about the strange messages floating between Mother Goose and Ground Control, several miles below, we were go, so I had a lot of work to do"

"We launched, that is me Wing Commander Nichol Foster, my co-pilot who is also a Wing Commander, Donnelly, the Engineer Flight Lieutenant Dafydd and the engines ignited perfectly, sending us barrelling the last few miles to orbit at roughly five times the speed of sound, 'cause not going vertical as the American Space Shuttle used to meant we could go slower and use less fuel"

"Anyway, we were barrelling along, almost at orbit, we had certainly left atmosphere when it happened, the craft shook as if grabbed by pair of mighty hands, each one struggling for control over us, the screens and readouts going wild for a brief while before flickering off, and Ground Control faintly screaming for us over the radios, shouting that we had just disappeared off their screens. That stopped abruptly, the shaking with it and we sat their in our seats as an unfamiliar red gas giant, with three large rings and a moon the size of Earth"

"We had either had drunk some well spiked drink or we were, to put it mildly, up the creek without a paddle"

"Which was when it happened, a strange tri-winged fighter, painted a faded, battered white with red highlights flashed past the cockpit, followed by a second, a third, a whole squadron"

"I glanced around my crew, and the same sure knowledge was written on the faces on each of them, we weren't exactly in Kansas anymore"