Here is my story on the Squaresoft game that I have a dangerous obsession with, Einhander. If you haven't ever played the game, here's all the background information you need: sometime in the future people colonized the Moon. For some reason, the people on Earth and the people on the moon got pissed off at each other and had two wars. During the second war, the lunar colony Selene began to send tactical fighters down
to Earth. These fighters, called Einhanders, were extremely deady. Our protagonist is a pilot for the last three Einhanders being launched.
If you couldn't guess this already, the narrator of the story during first-person parts in the pilot in the game itself. Part 1 of my story will cover what happens during the game, and will probably have three or so chapters.
Revelations of the War
Part 1: Project Einhander
Time: 7:00 AM
Date: December 18th, 2247
Location: Unknown location in Lunar Colony Selene
I awoke with a devastating headache. I lifted my covers to find myself in a strange room. Quite simplistic, its wooden floors and unfinished walls gave the room an unpleasant look. Practically covering the floor, dust piled up on every surface. Slowly I rose from my barely sanitary bed. My memory was cloudy, I could not recall what had happened last night. I must have been drinking, alcohol is my Achilles Heel.
As I rose from my bed, I noticed that no doors or other exits could be seen. I felt along the walls for a concealed door, but found none. The room was far too simplistic to hide anything: no pictures on the walls, dressers against the walls or any other furniture which could conceal an exit. Even the floorboards under my bed were securely in place. Suddenly, I felt my head pound as a loud, high pitched beep commenced. A red light flashed
brightly on a small black object, laying on the floor next to my bed. I picked up the object and examined it, it looked to be a radio of some sort. I searched the device for a button to turn the flashing light off, its high pitched beep was infernal. The beeping did little to aide my intense headache. After much searching, I found a very small switch on the device and flipped it.
"Received a message from Selene military satellite Hyperion," a synthetic female voice said from the device. I couldn't believe it, what business would the Hyperion have with me? I knew little of it, only that it was an extremely important military satellite for my home colony, Selene. I had no history with Selene's military, such a message confused me greatly.
I looked to find that several small green lights had lit up when I had flipped the switch. They were atop buttons that I had overlooked previously. The word "Play" was written in small text above the leftmost button. I pressed it, and heard a whirring noise from within the device.
A loud, deep, masculine voice boomed out from the device: "Do not attempt escape or rebellion. From this point forth, you will hereby be referred to as Pilot 2144. Stand by for further instructions."
I sat down on the bed and pressed the button again. I had not heard the message wrong. What could be happening?
Time: 2:45 PM
Date: Same day.
Location: "The Capital", Terra Military Headquarters Building
Two military officials, clad in intricate blue uniforms, stood before a large, tinted window. The plethora of bright lights, from the city building and patrolling police vehicles, twinkled like colored stars in a black sky. Polished wooden walls and thick green carpet gave the room a fancy look. Pictures of past military officials covered the walls, and a paper-filled desk stood in the center of the room.
"General," one of the men said. He was a high ranking officer of the Empire, his name Admiral Benjamin Saels. He had invited his good friend General Mark Derire for a private meeting.
"Good day, Admiral," General Derire said.
"Good day to you as well, but I did not call you here for a friendly chat," Admiral Saels said. He sat down at his desk and opened a drawer. He removed a blue piece of paper and flattened it out on the desk. He removed a white pencil from a desk drawer and drew a circle on the paper, with a small dot inside it. He then drew a much smaller circle just outside the larger one.
"General," Admiral Saels said, "I have called you here to discuss Selene's suicide assaults."
"Einhander?" the General asked.
"Yes," the Admiral said," over the past few years, these fighters have descended and wreaked havoc upon our city. As well prepared as we were, they managed to destroy each time us by stealing our own weapons in mid-flight."
The Admiral drew a line from the bottom of the smaller circle, which curved downward, then back up toward the dot in the larger circle.
"Now," Admiral Saels began again,"each of the Einhander fighters launch from Selene, on the moon's south pole," He pointed to the smaller circle he had drawn, which indicated the moon, "they have traveled in a such a curve as to perfectly match the rotation of the Earth," he said and pointed to the larger circle, which indicated Earth.
"Yes?" the General asked, looking at the picture.
"Now, with our technology, we will know when an Einhander takes off, what path it will take, which direction it will enter the capital from, and when it will enter the capital," the Admiral said and pointed to the dot inside the larger circle, which indicated the huge metropolis they stood in.
"Shall I order our forces to intercept them?" the General asked.
"When the next Einhander lifts off, we will immediately know all we'll need. At that point, dispatch a number of police forces there," the Admiral said.
"Yes sir," General Derire said.
"We already have dispatched three hundred Drache tanks outside the perimeters of the city, and our police vehicle "Greif" has been repaired and modified. Furthermore, over ten thousand armed police vehicles are protecting the capital. Nothing will be able to pass such incredible opposition."
Date: Same day
I found myself in a dark, cold room. I had no recollection of how I got here. I did not feel as if I had just awakened, or rose from a coma. It was almost as if I had vanished from existence for a period of time.
Slowly, my senses came back. The room I stood in was gray and dark, illuminated by weak lights hanging from the ceiling. I found that I was not alone; I was standing upright in military fashion with about eleven other prisoners. Motionless, they stood in two even rows, each row facing the other. They did not appear to be high class military officers, their clothes were torn, their hair was messed, and their skin was greasy. I felt the sting of cold
steel on the back of my head: a gun. Selene military officers stood behind each of the men, pointing a gun to the back of their victim's heads to keep them still. I dared not move.
A tall, slightly obese man with a thick mustache and officer's cap entered the room. He spoke a few words to an armed military officer standing in the corner. Their words were silent, as to not be heard by others. He then walked into the center of the room.
"Gentlemen, if that surely is what you are, let me begin by introducing myself," he said in an intimidating voice, "I am the head of Selene's police department. My name is not to be mentioned among you worthless 'humans'. You are now prisoners, and as prisoners you will refer to me only as 'The Superior'.
I mind was filled with mixed emotions of confusion, anger, and fear. Either this man was God, or had an ego as high as his rank. Opposing him seemed just as lethal as obeying him. He walked around the room, staring at each of us. He then came to me.
"What is your name?" he said in his low voice, his face only inches from mine.
I began to say my name. He suddenly punched me in the gut with a sharp fist. I began to fall to my knees, but the officer behind me seized me by my neck and lifted me up vigorously.
"What is your name?" he asked again, louder this time. I froze, I did not know what to do. Suddenly, my lips moved, almost involuntarily.
"My name is Pilot 2144," I said weakly.
"Did everyone hear that?" he asked the room.
"Did everyone hear?" he repeated, louder this time. Each man yelled "Yes, Sir!".
"Now," he began while walking between the lines, "you no longer have identities. Your lives belong to Selene's police and military. Your past is as worthless as your names. You now are mechanical. You will do nothing but kill your enemy."
He paused a moment. He looked for the fear in the faces of his victims, finding no shortage.
"We will need three pilots, and only three pilots" he said. He walked over to the first prisoner. The Superior examined him, lifting his arm and tilting his head, searching for weaknesses. Were we nothing but slaves, to be sold to the military as the Negroes had been to the white men? The Superior shook his head in rejection and advanced to the next man. The officer behind him shot the prisoner in the head. The bang didn't even startle the room;
each man kept perfectly still. I wanted to leave, to escape from this terror, but fear bolted my legs to the floor.
'The Superior' walked to the next man. He examined him just as he had before. He nodded his head in acceptance, and moved to the next prisoner. The man lived.
All time seemed to stop as The Superior examined each man. Our hearts froze as we waited for either silence of acceptance, or the brutal gunshot of rejection. I could not believe what was happening. The horror of selection was overwhelming.
"What a worthless group," the Superior said to another officer. By the time he had reached me, only two others were alive. The others were sprawled lifeless on the floor, being thrown uncaringly into the corners of the room by the officers. He examined me as he did the others, searching my body for any weaknesses. I wanted to grab his neck and seize the life out of him, but I couldn't. I stared up at him with weak eyes, and watched him nod to the
officer behind me. I couldn't believe it, I had been accepted. But for what?
Myself and the two other survivors were escorted by several armed officers through a long hallway. I felt like a lowly animal as I walked through the corridors, my head down. We soon reached a very large, well lit room. The floor was a bright, shiny gray, the walls and ceiling white. Several pieces of machinery covered the walls, and technical pillars extended from floor to roof. But the room contained an incredible site. Before us, three huge
fighter planes stood in the center of the room. Each was a smooth metallic blue, their contours, engines and wings perfectly shaped. Two machine guns stood slightly above and behind the cockpit. A huge claw, like the talon of a vulture, hung from below the ship. Works of art. Works of destruction.
"These are our last three tactical suicide fighters," an officer said. His voice was much less intimidating than The Superior's, but far from friendly.
"This is the Astraea FGA Mark I, capable of equipping two gunpods simultaneously," he said and pointed to one of the three ships. I had never heard of such a creation, but I dared not ask any questions. The officer moved on to the next ship.
"This is the Endymion FRS Mark II, capable of loading two spare gunpods in addition to the one it is using," he said. By now I was completely confused.
"Finally, this is the Endymion FRS Mark III, with advanced default weapons but only room for one gunpod," he said. He was briefing us as if we knew what was going on.
"Do any of you have flight experience?" he asked us three. One man raised his hand. The officer walked over to him.
' "What is your name?" the officer asked.
"Pilot 9314," he said mechanically. The officer violently pushed him in front of the Endymion FRS Mark II. He then directed the other man toward the Endymion FRS Mark III and myself toward the Astraea FGA Mark I.
"These are suicide fighters," he said while walking back and forth between us, "that is they have very low armor and very high firepower. Flight directions are inside the fighters. Do not attempt to fire upon our own forces, or your ship will self destruct. Your mission and target will be given, navigation will be handled by the onboard computer. Enter the fighters now."
The cockpits opened with a soft metallic whir. I climbed into the fighter and sat in the pilot's seat. The seat tilted back, and was quite comfortable.
"Strap yourselves in," the officer commanded. I didn't hesitate to obey; I buckled the many safety straps on. In front of me was a thick helmet with a black visor. I put it on and adjusted it to fit my head. Suddenly the cockpit closed, darkening the interior of the ship to an ominous blackness. A computer monitor blinked on in front of my eyes, its small image magnified by my helmet's visor. Random numbers and technical terms I did not understand
filled my vision.
A synthetic female voice, the same I had heard in the recording, spoke from the fighter's computer: "Welcome, Pilot 2144. This is the Astraea FRS Mark I, a tactical suicide fighter. Your mission will be to enter Earth's capital and destroy as many of their fighters as possible until your demise."
I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Was I to fly into the most heavily guarded metropolis ever built, and take on hundreds of fighters myself? Surely no man could accomplish such a feat.
"Navigation to Earth's capital will be handled by the onboard computer," the voice said, "once in the capital you will control the fighter on your own. Flight instructions will be given shortly."
This must be wrong. I had no military training, no flight experience, I had never even handled a gun. Why would I be recruited to pilot such a powerful fighter?
"You have no mission except to destroy all you can. Do not leave the capital or attempt to escape in any way unless instructed. You're mission will begin in five hours. Take the time to rest and learn the flight controls."
The voice stopped. I took a moment to contemplate on what had happened. Was this a punishment? For what, I had done no wrong. It surely was not a reward. I wanted to just let myself die, to abandon all hope, but something inside of me kept me alive. An inner lust for battle. A hatred for Earth.
Revelations of the War
Part 1: Project Einhander
I cannot believe I had fallen asleep. Before me, the timer blinked 15:00. I stretched out, readjusted my helmet and rebuckled my straps. I had already mastered the exceptionally easy controls for this fighter craft. Somehow, I didn't feel like a war slave anymore. I almost WANTED to take off, anticipated the time when I would descend and wreak havoc upon my longtime enemy: Earth.
Five minutes left. Only five minutes until what could be the greatest, or the worst, experience of my life. I played around with the controls, imagining myself taking down numerous Earth fighters. Suddenly, a chill came over me. What was I doing? I was a sheep, nothing but a sheep to do the military's bidding. They had carved my mind into that of a soldier. No, not a soldier, a killer. I was torn between myself: half of me wanted to escape, to end
this and live in peace. The other half had visions of destroying countless enemy fighters.
One minute. Only sixty seconds left. Time slowed to a crawl. I counted the seconds as they passed, my heartbeat synchronized with the beeping of the timer. The die was cast; there was no turning back.
"Pilot 2144, do you read?" a human voice said from the onboard speaker.
"Reporting," I said, trying to sound professional.
"Takeoff will commence shortly, be ready immediately, " he said.
Suddenly, my computer monitor flashed on again. Several lines, numbers, and codes appeared, none of which I understood. Soon, three other monitors flashed on: one in front of me and two to my sides, each respectively displayed what was to my front and sides. A cross hair appeared in the center, and small radar screens showed what behind and around me.
"Pilot 2144, prepare for takeoff," the synthetic female voice from the computer said. Soon, I felt my plane lift off. It shot forward into the starry sky, flying toward the huge blue Earth. Adrenaline filled my veins as my fighter craft smoothly traveled through the blackness of space. I saw the other two fighter planes in my side view screens
Suddenly, the computer monitors blackened. The message, "entering Earth's atmosphere" flashed on each of the three screens. My stomach ached and my head pounded as Earth's gravity grasped me and pulled me into it. I seized the controls with the strength of a bear and readied myself.
"Pilot 2144, prepare to strike," the computerized voice said. Suddenly, the view screens filled with the distant lights of Earth's capital below. The huge city seemed incredible even at this distance. It was almost too good to destroy.
"Warning, antigravity enemy craft approaching," the computerized voice said. I dried off my trigger finger and prepared for combat. Suddenly a missile whizzed by on my left view screen, barely missing my fighter. Soon, several more missiles flew at me. I desperately maneuvered my fighter to avoid them, each barely missing. As I grew closer to the city, I began to see the outlines of the many buildings approaching. But as the building came toward me,
so did hundreds upon hundreds of small, yellow fighters.
"Detecting presence of 2,410 Schabe fighters," the computerized voice said. Bursts of bullets soared through the air as I clenched the trigger. The enemy ships fell like flies with the firepower of my fighter. Few even had the chance to fire at me, and even when they did they're bullets were slow and easily avoided. This was great! A war slave or not, so be it; I had never had so much fun in my life.
As the Schabes continued their short-lived flights, another fighter came toward me. It was least as large as my ship, with a cannon on its top and yellow lights covered the perimeter of its bottom. I fired my weapons at the enemy, but the bullets seemed to merely bounce off its armor. A blue blast, quick as lightning, fired out from the enemy's top-mounted cannon. I pushed my throttle upward, and my fighter dove downward to avoid the blast. I came
up toward the enemy ship and fired at it some more. Soon, its armor began to break off, and the craft fell downward. I immediately remembered my 30-minute training procedure for grabbing gunpods. I positioned myself directly above my fallen enemy.
"Gunpod is in range," the computerized voice said. With a metallic clank, my fighter's claw grabbed the cannon.
"Received Cannon Gunpod," the voice said. I tested out my weapon and fired a single shell at the oncoming Schabe fighters. The shot cut through five enemies, like a chainsaw through butter, before crashing into a building and exploding. The fighters fell in droves, but not even a nuke could do away with all these ships. Small, annoying, almost threatless and far too numerous, they were like huge houseflies.
As I flew further into the capital, resistance became greater. Hundreds of police craft, armed with gunpods, began approaching me. The Schabes still didn't stop coming either; they arrived faster than I could kill them. I circled the buildings, bringing down not only the weak Schabes, but the larger police craft too. Remembering that the Astraea can hold two Gunpods, I moved my Cannon to the top of my ship to free my claw and approached another
enemy. With only a few shells, I cut through its armor. The ship, carrying a very different cannon of the gating sort, fell downward and left a smoke trail. As the ship sparked and fell towards its death, I descended and snatched its gunpod like a bird of prey catching its dinner.
"Received Vulcan gunpod," the computerized voice said. I tried my new weapon out, its incredible firepower made the killings even easier. The Schabes began to fall in increasing numbers.
"Hey...uh, can you hear me?" a human voice said from a speaker. It certainly did not sound professional.
"Yeah?" I asked.
"This is pretty fun, isn't it?" the voice asked.
"Scary, but...," I thought for a moment. Was I enjoying this? Without hesitation, I answered yes.
"These guys are falling like bugs!" he said.
"You're right," I said, "how did you find me?"
"Oh, there's some buttons below the screen," he said. I looked and found them, appropriately marked: "Communications". I can't believe I had over looked them.
"We'd better stop talking before we get hit," I said. By now, killing Earth's forces was almost second nature. I didn't even think as I fired upon the helpless fighters of Earth.
"Don't worry," he said, "these guys are so easy to kill, I could do this in my sleep!"
I was hard to believe how well I piloted the aircraft, considering the fact that I only had a few minutes of training, and no flight experience otherwise. Something seemed strange, I was flying too well for my mere hour or so of training.
Suddenly I heard German voices covering the city. Soon, a siren wailed and my radar picked up a signal from behind me.
"Greif Police Vehicle approaching," my onboard computer said. I flew downward as the blue saucer-type vehicle flew above me. It was huge, about three times the size of my ship. I riddled it with my remaining shells, but they simply bounced off. Soon, the blue craft turned to face me, and kicked its reverse engines in. I heard a release of steam, and a once concealed upper body rose up to face me. Its red eyes flashed as it removed two cannons from
its upper body with its claws. I continued firing, but to no avail. Without warning, a burst off bullets shot out from his guns. I flew downward, but I was too late: the shots hit my gunpod and knocked it clean off.
"Lower Gunpod has been destroyed," the computerized voice said. The machine didn't seem to ever die. By now, the Schabes were decreasing in number, in fact I had not seen one since the blue vehicle arrived. I was thankful, I needed all the space I could get to avoid this machine's fire. Desperate, I pressed one of the communications buttons.
"Can you hear me?" I said.
"Who is this?" an Italian voice answered.
"I need help, fast," I said while trying to avoid the Greif's attacks.
"What? This isn't easy enough for you?" he said with a little laugh.
"It was until this blue thing came," I answered.
"I'll check it out," he said, "where are you?"
"I don't know, I've never been in this city before!" Suddenly I felt my ship tilt back vigorously. I desperately tried to regain the controls as I read the message: "Upper Gunpod destroyed".
"Never mind, I see you," the Italian man said. Soon, I saw his fighter, an Endymion, equipped with a green Gunpod I had not seen before. We circled around the Grief as it continued to fire at us. I began to fire my machine gun and Vulcan at his cannons, while the Endymion fired at his head. Soon, I knocked one of his cannons off.
As his cannon fell, the Grief threw his other one directly at me, but I managed to avoid. Another compartment opened on his back, and he pulled out a larger cannon. We continued firing at his head with every bit of ammunition we had left as the Greif madly circled around the buildings. It aimed its cannon at the Endymion, and fired a huge blue blast at it. He dove downward and dodged at the last second.
"Shit, this guy's tough," he said to me. But as he talked he was caught off guard, and a second laser hit him dead on. My heart froze as I saw his ship fall down in flames, his screams drowning out the loud explosions. He collided with a building, his fighter shattering into several pieces. Could that have been me? Suddenly, this mission did not seem as exciting as much as it was terrifying.
Without help, I fired at my enemy madly. Soon, I began to notice his armor breaking off. I continued firing at his head while he aimed at my fighter. A huge blue blast fired from his cannon, but missed.
"Hello, can you hear me?" I said while pressing the communications button.
"Yeah?" a voice answered. I recognized the voice, I had talked with him just before my encounter with the Grief.
"I've got a problem," I said, "a BIG problem." The Grief chased after me as I tried to escape, but it was too fast. It swung in front of my ship and fired another shot. Soon, the Schabes began to appear again, in ever increasing numbers. It was almost too much to avoid them.
"I'm listening," he said, calmly.
"Have you met this blue robot thing?" I asked.
"No," he answered.
"I guess that's why you're still alive," I said, "he killed one of the pilots."
There was a slight pause.
"Damn," he said, "hold on, I'll try and find you."
"Hurry," I said. The Schabes didn't seem to ever stop, for each one I killed several more appeared. Desperate and out of Gunpod ammunition, I had only my machine gun to hang on to. The lightning-fast Grief circled me several times, firing its cannons. It was only a matter of time before one slight mistake would kill me.
"Here I am!" the other Endymion pilot said while flying toward me.
"I need to get out of here, take care of this guy!" I said.
"No problem," he answered and began firing at the Grief. No longer occupied with me, I was able to get away from the monstrous blue menace.
"They're doing nicely," Colonel Kurt Washington said. He was a top-ranking Selene officer, watching the progress of the remaining two tactical fighters from the Lunar GPS Building.
"You mean they're not dead yet?" a woman asked. She was the Colonel's wife, her name Kate Washington, and while not officially part of the military, her help was invaluable. She had long red hair, light skin, and wore a white outfit around the base.
"Amazing, isn't it?" the Colonel said.
They were the only two in the cramped room, filled with GPS monitors, charts, and computers. Suddenly the Colonel heard a beep.
"I've got a call," he said.
"From who?" his wife asked.
"Received message from military satellite Hyperion," the synthetic female voice said from his wrist-mounted communicator.
"There's your answer," the Colonel said.
"Project Einhander has received sufficient data for the EOS tactical fighter," the voice said, "terminate all current missions."
"What was that?" the Colonel's wife asked.
"Are you familiar with EOS?" he asked his wife.
"No, I'm not part of those top-secret project things," she said with a little laugh.
"EOS is an extremely powerful set of fighters," the Colonel said, "one is an unmanned fighter capable of killing specific targets or sets of targets with any Gunpod. The other is a manned Gunpod similar to the Astraea, save its thicker armor and increased firepower."
"And this is your big project here?" she asked.
"You could say that," the Colonel said, "the main purpose of the Einhander flights is to gather Gunpods and other flight data for EOS."
"Are those the suicide missions?" Kate asked.
"Yes, they are told to fly into Earth's capital and take down as many fighters as possible," Washington explained.
"I heard that not one fighter made it alive," Kate said, worrying that asking too many questions would make her look stupid.
"Its a suicide mission, there is no return," Colonel Washington said, "they come, they fight, they die."
"That's terrible! How could you do such a thing!" Kate said.
"I'd tell you why, but you don't have the authorization to know," Washington said.
"Authorization? I'm your wife!" she reminded him.
"I know, I know. But this information I wouldn't give to my father," the Colonel said.
"I understand," Kate said in a lower voice. She tried to change the subject, "So why are only lowlifes and city scum piloting these things?"
"Well..." the Colonel said with a slight pause, "we wouldn't want a good soldier to die, would we?"
"I think you're lying!" she said and give a light push to her husband. He then shut off all the nearby communicators.
"Don't tell this to ANYONE," Washington said and explained everything to his wife.
"Okay, you are not going to tell this to anyone else,"
"Hey, I got him," the Endymion pilot said.
"Great," I responded while firing away at the Schabes, "how was he?"
"Hard, very hard," he said, "knocked off my Gunpod!"
"Happened to me too," I said, "While we're no longer in danger, why don't you tell me who you are?"
"Oh me?" the Endymion pilot said, "my name is Mark Henning. How about you?"
"My name is....," I suddenly froze. I could not remember my name. I tried, but my mind blanked. My head began to pound as I desperately tried to remember my past life. Ever since I had awoken in that small room, my past was shattered. I could only remember fade, blurred images of what might have been my life.
"I don't know...." I said.
"Don't worry," Mark said, "you don't have to call yourself 'Pilot Whatever' anymore."
"No, I...I don't know my name," I said.
"You all right?" he asked, sounded a bit concerned.
"Yes..." I said, "let's get out of here."
I tried to get my thinking straight as I plowed through the helpless Schabe fighters. I had picked up a new Gunpod, a W.A.S.P. launcher, which greatly helped me. Its homing capabilities made it quite valuable.
"There's a tunnel ahead," I said.
"I see you, I'm coming up right behind you," Mark said.
Side by side, we twirled through the long, straight tunnel. Suddenly, the Schabes, began to pull back, and nothing stood between us and freedom.
"Warning," the synthetic voice from my computer said, "you do not have authorization to leave the city." I did not heed the warning, I kept on flying toward the stormy skies ahead.
"This is your second warning, return to the Capital or your fighter will self-destruct," the voice said.
"Shut up," I mumbled under my breath as I shot out of the tunnel. Freedom, freedom from the horror of war. But we had not escaped Hell, we had only drove deeper within it.
Sirens flailed and thunder blasted through the skies as I flew through the barren wastelands. Several figures, appearing only inches tall at this distance, walked across the horizon.
"Warning, warning," the synthetic voice said. I look at my radar, and noticed a HUGE object behind me. I turned my ship around to find myself face to face with the most terrifying machine I had ever seen.
I was huge, its body alone was several times larger than my fighter. Its long head fired out searchlights, cutting through the darkness like a cold knife. The huge, ultra heavy machine slowly walked on two hind legs. I raised its head to the sky, directly above my fighter. Like a hammer, its head slammed into the ground, trying to crush me. I barely managed to avoid the huge beast. The machine began walking toward me, opening several cannon bays on
"What the hell is this?" I asked the Endymion pilot.
"I don't know, but I see it," Mr. Henning said, "I'll try and get it."
In my side viewscreen, I saw Mark's fighter descend and fire a salvo of missiles at the machine's side. The beast's head turned to face the attacker, but it was still walking toward me.
"This is your last warning," the onboard computer's voice said, "you have ten seconds to return to the capital or you will be destroyed."
"Shit, not now," I mumbled. The machine began to fire its cannons at my ship. Its missiles left behind a thick smoke trail as they zoomed toward me. I tried to avoid, but one of them hit me. My ship shook, but it was not destroyed. Neither were my gunpods. A message flashed on my screen:
"Interplanetary Connection Destroyed, Contact with Hyperion Lost"
"Damn," Colonel Washington said and slammed his fist down.
"What?" his friend Matt Baker said and peered into the laptop computer that the Colonel was looking at. Matt Baker was a technician for the Hyperion, but spent most of his free time hanging around other officers.
"We've lost contact with the Astraea," he said, and struck his coffee cup off the table. The empty cup shattered into many pieces.
"Was it destroyed?" Baker asked.
"No, the connection was just cut off," the Colonel said angrily, "he is still alive."
"What about the Endymion?" Baker asked again.
"I don't know, we can't get a signal on him either," Colonel said, "all I know is that they've escaped from the city."
"So just blow them up!" Baker said in his common non-proffesional voice.
"Are you deaf?" The Colonel shouted, "the connection was destroyed! We can't contact their computer; they're both free to fly wherever they please."
"Well, I was planning on taking a break..." Matt said, despite the fact that he had not worked in days, "But I'll try to fix this."
"Report to me when you do," the Colonel said as Mr. Baker left.
I circled around the huge walking tank as it fired tons of ammunition at me. I noticed the other Einhander off in the distance, hovering in one spot.
"What are you doing?" I asked him, "Help me here!"
"Hey, I'm on to something," Mark said.
"Make it quick!" I snapped and continued firing at its head.
"The onboard computer here has very low security," Mark said, "I was able to cut off contact with Selene, they can't do shit to us now."
"The same thing happened to me, but in a different way," I said and tried to laugh.
"I also have data files on Earth's forces," he said, "apparently this bastard is a Drache tank."
"What help is that?" I yelled while trying to avoid the Drache's missiles. One of them blasted off my newly gained W.A.S.P. gunpod.
"Well, you'll be there all day if you aim for his head," Mark said.
"I'll be firing all day if I aim anywhere, look at this guy's armor!" I said, very annoyed.
"Hit the part where his neck meets his body, its not very strong and will reveal its computer core," Mark said.
"Well, stop hacking that computer and start firing!" I said. I opened fire on the Drache's neck as the Endymion flew over to join.
"Success!" Mark said as a small explosion blasted out from the Drache's neck. The walking tank tried to lift up its head, but the lever was too damaged. The neck snapped off and crashed to the ground.
"Okay, now aim for the core, where the neck used to be," Mark said.
"He's not out yet," I said and fired at the Drache's core. However, the tides turned when a hatch opened on his back, revealing a very powerful gating cannon. It fired incredibly fast, each bullet glowing as it soared through the air.
"What kind of Vulcan is THAT?" I asked.
"Hold on," Mark said, "I think I found what it is."
"What?" I asked.
"One second," Mark said, "okay, its a Juno cannon. The bad news: its bullets can go straight through a building in seconds. The good news: its a Gunpod."
"I NEED that weapon," said, "I'm out of Gunpods."
"So am I," Mark said, "our machine guns don't seem to be powerful enough."
The Drache madly fired its Juno cannon around the barren wastelands. The bullets blasted through the rocky ground like dynamite. Imagine what I could to with such firepower!
"I'll try to grab the Juno," I said.
"No, don't! The Juno can rotate itself to face any direction, it will knock you into next week before you could get close enough!" Mark said.
"That might be bad," I said while avoiding the never-ending plague of Juno bullets.
"Hey, I'll try to attract the bullets, and you can try and grab the gunpod," Mark said.
"Thanks," I said with a smirk, "you're going down, Drache boy."
The Endymion flew across the Juno's barrel and drew its fire. I saw him fly in corkscrews, avoiding the bullets like a pro.
"Now!" Mark shouted. I positioned my fighter above the Juno and fired my manipulator claw. The claw grabbed onto the Juno, but it would not come off. I tried to fly my craft straight up, but the Juno kept my grounded like an anvil. However, I had stabilized the cannon, preventing it from moving and allowing the Endymion to get away safely.
"Keep trying," Mark said. Soon, I began to feel the Juno giving. After much struggle, the gating cannon snapped off. With a spark of electricity and stream of flame, I flew away with the cannon.
"Gunpod gained: Juno," the synthetic voice said.
"Make this guy sorry," Mark said. I turned to face the Drache's core and fired away. In seconds, the bullets shattered the tank's nucleus. It began to spark rapidly, flame and light swirling around it like a dance of mechanized death. As we flew away, we saw the tank collapse. We watched the lights on its body fade away, seconds before a huge explosion ripped the walking tank apart.
"Good job, we got him," I said with a smirk.
"Well, that's not the only one of them," Mark said.
"Shit," I said, "I don't want to fight another one of those!"
"No problem, we won't stick around for the fight next time," Mark said and flew away.
Matt Baker was walking casually down a Selenian transport tunnel when his wrist-mounted communicator beeped.
"Mr. Baker, this is Colonel Washington."
"Yes, sir?" Matt asked.
"Have you regained contact with the Einhanders?" he asked, in a particularly unfriendly voice.
"Soon," Matt Baker said, "his standard communicator is still working. Its only the connection to his computer that was lost. We can still contact him, and monitor his flight progress."
"What do you mean 'he'? There were two of them!" the Colonel said angrily.
"That's a problem," Matt said, "the other guy cut us off completely."
"What?" the Colonel yelled.
"He somehow managed to hack into the onboard computer," Matt said.
"Get him back!" the Colonel shouted, "they must be destroyed!"
"Destroyed? What did they do?" Matt Baker asked.
"Ugh," Colonel Washington said and shook his head, "its a suicide mission, remember?"
Matt Baker could tell the Colonel was lying. No one sends a soldier into battle and orders them to die. Washington was not known to be a liar, something must be happening. However, he played along with the Colonel's lie.
"We can't make them self destruct," Matt said and thought for a moment, "but there is something we could do..."
"I'm listening," the Colonel said, sounding less angry.
"We can order them into an impossible mission, so they would die no matter how well they piloted," Matt explained.
"Perfect," the Colonel said.
"Pilot 2144, can you hear me?" a human voice said from my onboard computer.
"Who is this?" I asked.
"A Selene officer," he said quickly, "you did well with the Drache tank."
"Shove it," I said casually, "you can't do a damn thing to me. So what if I leave the city?"
"To tell you the truth," he said slowly, "we couldn't care less if you leave the city. In fact, you completely your first mission."
I wasn't buying it. I knew what a suicide mission was, the end of the mission was the end of your life. Something was strange.
"There's a heavily guarded Earth airport to the North," the voice said, "infiltrate it and cause a diversion until our forces descend."
"And what makes you think I'm gonna obey?" I said confidently, "You can't kill me now!"
"This is a very important mission," the voice said. Whoever he was, he sounded more serious now, "their strategist spacecraft will launch from this base. It could easily destroy our Hyperion Satellite, and put Selene under Earth's control.
"Forget it," I said with a smirk on my face, "you can't make me do anything." Killing the Drache tank gave me a feeling of power, I felt I had control over all others. After all, what could he have done to me?
"Well, I see you have a liking for powerful weapons..." he said with the voice of a used-car salesman.
"You've got that right!" I said with a little laugh.
"Well, the enemy airport is filled with Earth's best forces, and Earth's best weapons," he said, "including a very valuable Gunpod."
"What is it?" I asked.
"A new plasma-accelerated rail cannon: the Flash," he said. I had caught the bait: I needed to get that weapon.
"Hmmm, how strong is it?" I asked.
"Its firepower is incredible, several times more than a cannon shell," he said.
"I'm there," I said.
"Did he agree?" the Colonel's wife asked just before the two retired for the night. Kurt made himself comfortable, then answered.
"I heard he did," he said.
"That's nice," Kate said and kissed her husband goodnight. They talked a while before finally falling to sleep. Sleep, however, was impossible for the the Einhander pilots.
Revelations of the War
Part 1: Project Einhander
"We should probably take a rest," Mark Henning said. We were both hovering in place, hidden in the contour of a crescent-shaped plateau. Dawn was approaching, and the once black skies turned to a beautiful red and orange. Ancient remains of buildings, shattered and broken from the wars, cast dark shadows on the radioactive blue ground. Above, clouds nearly covered the sky, tinted orange by the dawn Sun.
"You're right," I responded, "we'll give ourselves a few hours." I took off my helmet and unbuckled my straps. I casually laid back and watched the bright Sun rising.
"Tell me about yourself," I asked Mark.
"Well, I guess I had a pretty normal life," Mark said, "I joined the Selene Air Force a few years back."
"So that's why you fly so well," I said.
"Yeah, but I got kicked out," he said. His voice became less enthusiastic as he talked about his past.
"Why?" I asked.
"I don't remember, I was probably goofing off or something," Mark said. His voice sounded strange, not quite as sincere as before. Yet I didn't sense he was hiding something from me. Suddenly, he gave out a loud moan.
"My head!" he yelled.
"You okay?" I asked, perking up from my seat.
"Yeah....yeah, I'm fine," he said, "my head was pounding."
"I don't know....I've had a lot of headaches," I said.
"Say, do you remember what were you doing right before they took you in?" Mark asked, trying to change the subject.
"Well.... I think I was with my friends," I responded. I sounded vague, it was almost as if I was lying to myself. I took a moment to recollect before I spoke again.
"I don't remember where..." I said slowly.
"Let's rest up, we want to be in good shape for our next battle," Mark said.
"Warning, unknown enemy fighters approaching," the synthetic female voice from my onboard computer said.
"Shit, no time for sleep," I said. I check my radar, two fighters were coming from behind on either side of the plateau.
"You think they saw us?" I whispered to Mark.
"They're moving rather slow," he said in a low voice, "I think they're just patrolling the area."
The two enemy fighters flew past us. Hidden by the plateau's concave, we remained out of the enemies' vision. The small ships, only about half the size of our fighters, were simplistic in design. Several cannon bays were on their backs, they looked to be standard machine guns. Their front sides were narrowed, and thin wings extended in a V shape from their sides.
"Stay here, let me get a good view of the airport," Mark said.
"Gotcha," I replied. Staying low, Mark slowly piloted his Endymion around the plateau. The two enemy ships were far in the distance, and could not spot us from here.
"How's the defense?" I asked Mark.
"Its pretty heavy," Mark said while returning to the concave.
"Any way in?" I asked.
"The airport is covered with enemy craft, both land and air. They appear much tougher than the Schabes," he said.
The two enemies ships turned and came toward us.
"Damn, they'll spot us," Mark said. The enemy craft came near, but had not found us yet. Suddenly they stopped. Hovering in midair, one of them opened a bay on its back. A radar dish revealed itself, and began to scan the area.
"Quick, knock the radar off!" Mark yelled. I positioned my Juno and fired. The shots hit the radar and shot it clean off. The radar fell, bounced off the ground, and rolled for a while until it settled. The fighter began looking in random directions, trying to find me.
"Its now or never, take them out!" Mark yelled. Hugging the ground, we left our hiding space. The enemy ships came toward us, firing their machine guns. I fired my Juno cannon like mad, circling the ships to avoid their fire.
"Good, one's down!" Mark said as one of the enemies burst into flames. We continued firing at the other while it zoomed about, firing its cannons.
"Got him!" I yelled. Both ships were smoking on the blue ground, never to fire another shot.
"Did you take any hits?" Mark asked.
I noticed a message on my screen: "Juno Cannon has been damaged"
"My Gunpod took some shots for me," I said.
"We need to get into the airport," Mark said, "but with this kind of resistance..."
"Do you think we can make it through them?" I asked.
"Well.....no," he replied, "but the defense isn't getting any weaker."
"Yeah, let's just fly in and see what we can do. We'll get right back out if there's any trouble," I said.
I slowly piloted my fighter around the plateau. The blue rock ground gave way to the steel floors of the airport base. Red lights, black and yellow warning strips, and strange radar gadgets covered the plated metal ground. Ahead, several tall buildings could be seen, quite simplistic in design. Radar dishes were everywhere, it was strange how no one had spotted me yet. Six hangars were ahead, providing good cover. I ducked into an empty open hangar
before any enemies could spot me.
"Good, we're in," Mark said, "Now what?"
I took a moment to observe the hangar. The walls and floors were a simplistic light-brown color, the roof curved into an arc. An idle Mech stood in the corner, partially disassembled.
"Hey, what is that thing?" I asked Mark, since he seemed to know everything about Earth's forces.
"Hold on, I'm looking," Mark said, and after a few seconds responded, "I think this is an Ausf A Gestel."
"Are those things tough to kill?" I asked.
"It looks that way, but this one's not going anywhere," Mark replied, " its missing both legs and one arm, and some other parts of it too."
"Does this guy have any Gunpods?" I asked.
"No, not this one," Mark said, "this place won't hide us for long, let's just get out of here."
"Yeah, we'll see what we can do," I said and slowly flew my Astraea out of the hangar.
"Funny, with all these radar dishes, you think they'd have found us by now," I said.
"Well, no enemies are on my radar, so I guess we're..."
We both froze. Before us were hundreds upon hundreds of fighters. Some were huge, some quite small. Enemies covered the sky, of all different shapes and sizes, each of them aimed at our fighters. This was too much to handle.
"Damn, there must be every fighter on Earth here!" I yelled.
"Let's get out of here!" Mark said. We flew our fighters into the air, firing our weapons at the enemy fighters. As powerful as my Juno Cannon was, it seemed worthless against these enemies. There didn't seem to be any way to stop them.
"Radar destroyed," the synthetic computer said as an enemy missile struck my craft. My radar screen blanked.
"This is hopeless," I said. But there was no response.
"Mark?" I yelled, "Damn it, where are you?" His fighter was no where to be found. The enemies' fire was too much: I hadn't killed a single enemy and already I was almost dead. Suddenly, I heard a loud explosion. My ship shook, my view screens flicked, and I could feel my ship going down.
"Damn, they got me!" I yelled. I could no longer fire or move, my ship was falling toward the ground. My viewscreens faded, and the interior of my craft became pitch black. I hastily unbuckled myself and took my helmet off. I pounded at the cockpit, trying to open it. I could sense death near me as I fell further and further. I had never experienced what its like to know your own death is seconds away. My muscles froze, my body ached, and my senses
seemed to shut down. There was nothing left to do, nothing.
Suddenly, it stopped. I no longer felt my fighter falling. My cockpit opened, pouring light onto my face. I rubbed my eyes, hurt by the sunlight. As I opened my eyes, I saw hundreds of enemies, all aimed at me. Several small machines had attached themselves to the side of my craft, keeping it floating in midair. My aircraft was only inches away from the ground, where several armed men stood.
"Get out of the fighter!" one of the guards yelled in a German accent. Each of them was covered head to toe with armor; I could not even see their faces. Each held their weapon directly at my head, their aim solid as rock. I climbed out of my fighter and jumped to the ground.
The guards began speaking to each other, I could not understand them. Before I knew what was happening, a guard cuffed my arms behind my back.
"Where's Mark? What did you do with Mark?" I screamed while trying to fight the guards.
"Do not attempt escape," one of the guards said in a deep voice, "these bullets will go through twelve inches of solid steel." He tapped his long, black rifle. I tried to fight them, but soon I was blindfolded. I was being dragged mercilessly through the airport base. I soon lost track of time, nothing seemed to matter. I could feel my death becoming closer and closer.
I suddenly felt myself thrown into an uncomfortable metal chair, my arms and feet locked onto it. As my blindfold was ripped off, I noticed myself in a small, cramped room. Buttons, dials, and other technical devices covered the gray wall. A single light dangled from the ceiling, barely illuminating the cold, metallic room. I noticed two guards: one standing in the corner, his weapon drawn, the other busy with the machines behind me. I looked at the
guard in the corner aiming at me. He did not move a muscle, he didn't even seem to breath. I could almost feel his gun on my forehead. I looked at the insignia on his shoulder, he was a Sergeant. I turned my head to look at the other man, who looked to be a Commander.
"What's going on?" I yelled.
"Quiet!" the Commander said.
I didn't bother talking any more. I simply sat their, waiting. Was this an electric chair? Was I to die here? They had captured my fighter, all hope was lost.
"Everything looks ready," the Commander said in his German accent. He fastened several devices to my head. I could not see them, but they felt heavy.
"Sergeant, remove your armament," the Commander said. He did so promptly, without question or hesitation.
"Shall we try the interrogation first?" the Sergeant said.
"Give it a try," the Commander said. The two began speaking to each other in German. Then the Commander walked right in front of me, kneeling down to meet me eye to eye.
"What do you know about Project Einhander?" he asked in a dark voice. His face was only inches from mine. He reminded me of The Superior.
"Nothing, I know nothing!" I said and shook my head.
"Tell me!" he shouted, "What do you know about Project Einhander?"
"I...don't know...," I said slowly.
"Liar," the Sergeant said from under his breath.
"No, he is no liar," the Commander said, his eyes locked onto mine, "I can smell a liar from a mile away... You're not with the Selene army, are you?" he asked me.
"No...no I'm not," I said softly.
"What is your name?" he asked.
"No, don't ask me that, please!" I said. My past was shattered, if I had a past at all. Nothing seemed to make sense anymore.
"Exactly," the Commander said, "his mind has already been manipulated."
"The marks on his neck would prove so," the Sergeant said.
"Yes, he has been programmed by the Selene army," the Commander said.
"Programmed? What are you talking about?" I asked in a weak voice.
"They've erased most of your memory," the Commander said.
"No, what..., it can't be," I stuttered.
"Not erased, exactly," the Sergeant said, "More so hidden in a different part of your brain..."
"Listen," the Commander said, "we can help you."
"Why? You're my enemy! Why would you help me?" I asked
"Because you can help us," he said. Suddenly, my vision faded to black.
"Prepare the device," I heard the Commander say. My senses seemed to leave the physical world. Mysterious voices, scrambled and confusing, filled my head. I tried to remember who they were, if I knew them at all. I began to distinguish one of the voices... Tom, Tom Myers, my childhood friend. I remembered him, as young children we would play for hours on end. I couldn't remember what had happened to him.
"Joey, Joey!" a female voice called out. My mother, she was calling me. I then remembered, my name was Joseph Chambers. An image filled my mind, somewhat distorted. It was my home, on the lunar colony Selene. I was looking through the eyes of my childhood self. The walls and floors seemed blurred, I could not distinguish any shapes. I tried to remember my home, piece by piece. Things began to become more clear as I recalled my past.
"Coming, mother!" I said in my enthusiastic voice. It was strange, watching my past through my own eyes. I then saw my mother, her image blurred. I remembered her fondly, she was a strict one, but she would have killed herself for me.
"Your friend Tommy is outside!" she said.
"Mom, don't call him Tommy!" I yelled. I remembered this all clearly. I ran outside my house, where Tom was waiting. I had not seen Tom in years, his face bought back millions of memories. It was confusing how children could be so happy and optimistic, playing in a carefree way, all when the rest of the world stands in a horrible war. Yes, the dawn of the Second Moon War, I didn't even seem to care when I was young. Now, the war is closer to my soul
"Did you bring it?" my childhood self asked Tom. He nodded, and revealed a small wooden box. I undid the latch and slowly opened it. Inside was a handgun, outdated and dusty, but still deadly.
"Yes!" I said. As I grasped the firearm, I felt a chill in my heart. I no longer felt like a carefree child. I felt like a killer. Images began to flash in my mind, I could not understand them. I then saw myself aim the gun to Tom's head.
"You think it still works?" Tom asked. A loud bang filled my head, and all I could see was Tom's shocked face as he fell to the ground. My gun smoked, and a stream of blood ran down my friend's head. How could I have done this? I had killed my best friend, and had not even felt remorse. Images began to fill my mind again. Gunshots, death, murder. My life was coming back to me. I was a killer. Everything became dark again. My life was clear, I was
nothing but a murderer. But no questions were answered, and there were many more to ask.
I then woke up. My eyes were shut, and my muscles were frozen, but I was awake. I heard the Commander and Sergeant Major talking.
"Are you done?" the Sergeant asked.
"He's never been in the military," the Commander said.
"Just an ordinary civilian?" the Sergeant asked.
"Ordinary civilian? Certainly not, this man is a dangerous criminal. Murder, robberies, you name it," the Commander said.
"So why would the Selene army choose him to pilot such an incredible aircraft?" the Sergeant wondered.
"That's all a mystery to us," the Commander said, "we're also puzzled as to why Selene would order one of their ships into our airport."
"Our airport is the most heavily guarded area on both the Moon and Earth, no sane man would walk near it!" the Sergeant Major said.
"Exactly," the Commander said in his deep voice, "in addition, his first mission was to be a suicide mission; that is you fight until you die."
I began to wonder, were all those men criminals? All those men, who were tortured like animals by the Superior, were they murderers like me? I deserved to die. Why couldn't I just have been shot during the Superior's selection?
My muscles started to warm up. I twitched my arms and legs, trying to get my blood flowing. My eyes slowly opened.
"How did it feel?" the Commander asked. His voice sounded less intimidating.
"Was that really me?" I asked.
"I'm afraid so," the Commander said, "you were quite a gunman."
"What do you want from me?" I snapped.
"Calm down," the Commander said, "we can help you escape from Selene."
"Escape from Selene? Why?" I asked.
"Every past Einhander launch," the Commander said with a pause, "not one pilot returned alive. Even if one of them should escape the Capital, their ship is detonated by the Hyperion. They won't let you escape, but we can help. We just need a small favor of you."
"What do you want?" I asked.
"Allow the General to explain," he said. I was released from the chair and escorted out of the room. The three of us walked down many long hallways, each repetitive and simple in design. The gray floors and walls were sparsely decorated, and lights covered the ceiling. After what seemed like hours of walking, we reached a fancy wooden door. The Commander gave me a gesture to open the door, then left along with the Sergeant Major. I was alone again.
I slowly opened the door and crept in. I found myself in a large, well decorated room. The floors were polished wood, covered with thick red carpet. The walls, a shiny brown, were covered with portraits and paintings. A window looked upon the stormy noon sky, with countless hovercraft flying in the distance. A desk, cluttered with papers, was in the center of the room. A tall man, his back turned to me, stood with his arms behind his back. He was
dressed in a green uniform with several medals on his arms and chest.
"Mr. Chambers," he said in a thick German accent.
"Yes?" I asked, trying to keep far from him. He turned around and sat down in his chair. He was dark skinned, with thick features and a full beard.
"My name is General Mark Derire," he said, "We wish a favor of you."
"What do you want?" I asked.
"We've implanted a special device in your neck," he said. I felt around my neck and found a small bump near my left shoulder.
"What is it?" I asked.
"With this device, we can monitor every aspect of your life. Where you go. Who you're with. Every word you speak. Each step you take," he said in a sinister voice.
"Why? Am I a prisoner?" I asked.
"No, of course not," he said, "we can help you escape from Selene. They will no longer be after your head."
"Tell me how!" I said desperately.
"We've manipulated the Astraea's onboard computer after we captured it, Selene can no longer contact you. We want you to return to your fighter craft, at that point we will restore the connection to Selene. We will hear every word your Commanders speak, and gain valuable information on Project Einhander. We will also use you to infiltrate the Hyperion's security as well," he said. I felt like a soldier, but not a proud one. I didn't know what to do,
all my life I had sided with Selene. Yet I couldn't resist Earth's offer. I didn't feel like a hardened criminal, or a trained soldier. All I wanted to do was live.
"And if I refuse?" I asked.
"You won't," he said calmly, "remember the device we placed in your neck?"
"Yeah, what about it?" I asked.
"If you fire upon our forces, or refuse to obey our orders, we will detonate it," he said, "if you try to remove it, it will automatically detonate. And don't even think about reprogramming it."
"Okay, I'll obey," I said. Without warning, two soldiers escorted me out of the General's room, back through the long hallways. I was again blindfolded, for they told me I was traveling in top-secret areas. It wasn't long before we reached our destination, and my blindfold was removed.
I arrived in what looked to be a hangar. The ceiling was quite tall, and curved. Fuel tanks and maintenance robots lined the walls. There before me, in the center of the room, was the Astraea, good as new. Attached to it were two Gunpods which I had never seen before. Several cables and mechanical arms held the fighter-craft up. A man in a white coat came to me.
"Mr. Chambers, are you?" he said. He was a tall, thin man, with black hair and dark Indian skin.
"That's me," I replied.
"We've readied your fighter, fixed all damages, and attached two rail cannons to it," he said and pointed at my ship.
"Rail cannons? You mean the Flash Cannon?" I asked. An evil smirk came across my face as I imagined the destructive force of these weapons.
"Precisely," he said, "but there is one thing we need to ask you."
"Yeah?" I asked.
"We've found, and disarmed I might add, several pressure-activated detonators on your fighter," he said.
"What?" I asked, quite perplexed.
"Under the armor of your fighter, many bombs were placed," he said, "bombs which detonate when pressure is applied. Do you know why Selene would place bombs on its own fighter?"
"I have no idea," I said, confused. Suddenly it all made sense: why had all the previous Einhanders died so quickly? Simple, the pressure bombs. One enemy bullet wasn't enough to pierce the craft's armor, but it could apply enough pressure to detonate the bombs. But why?
"Well, no worries," he said, "we've removed them all."
"So what do you want me to do?" I asked.
"Simple, just jump in your fighter and proceed as usual," he explained, "we will monitor everything you see, do, and hear. You can contact us with this communicator." He handed me a small device, a pair of headphones with a microphone attached. I put it on my head and adjusted it.
"Good, speak into it at any time if you need help," he said.
"Can I take off now?" I asked while staring at the Astraea.
"We will arrange all flight preparations," he said, "you may take off whenever you wish."
Without another word, I climbed into my fighter. I buckled my straps and adjusted my helmet. As I stared into the blank viewscreens, I awaited take off.