From the personal log of Admiral Aken Bosch

From the personal log of Admiral Aken Bosch.

I remember well the day the destroyers came. The Galactic Terran Alliance was stretched thin because of the war with the Vasudans. We were winning the war when we encountered the Shivans. No one knows why they came, or what their motivation was. They slashed through both Terran and Vasudan fleets, killing everyone that came in contact with them. In every battle with them, they unveiled new and deadly technology like flack guns and shields, culminating with the Lucifer. Over a kilometer long, with beam cannons that could defeat a destroyer with one blow, and shields that could repel any attack, the Lucifer was almost unstoppable. It destroyed Vasuda Prime and set a course for earth. Only by tracking the Lucifer into subspace and detonating its reactor were we able to halt the Shivan advance. The explosion severed the jump node to Sol, cutting off our line to home. The tragedy of Vasuda Prime and Sol bound the Terran and the Vasudans together, creating the Galactic Terran Vasudan Alliance. For the past 32 years we have been living in the shadow of the past, waiting for the Shivans to come again. The destroyers will come and come again until we are gone. My duty is to erase the unholy alliance that the GTVA and to play the hero who will be remembered throughout the ages as the greatest villain of all.

"Good morning pilot. Welcome to the 53rd Hammerheads, onboard the GTD Aquitaine. Because of recent squadron losses, you will command the four fighters of Alpha wing, and your designation will be Alpha 1. Grab some sleep because we start a campaign against the Neo-Terran Front tomorrow." Talon Star watched as the recorded holographic head of the Hammerheads commander that had welcomed him faded into nothing. Talon was new to the Galactic Terran Vasudan Alliance. He had joined to help defeat the Neo-Terran Front, Admiral Bosch's rebel fleet. He also had a more personal reason for joining. When he was just a kid, during the Great War, he had watched while the Shivans destroyed the transport his parents were on. He remembered the specific ship that had destroyed it. It was heavy fighter, but it wore a pattern of alternate gold and black stripes on it, and it out performed any other fighter in the Shivan Armada. Talon suspected it was an ace. He wanted to make sure that never happened to anyone else. He was impressed with the Aquitaine. It was a GTD Hectate-class destroyer. It could destroy Terran or Vasudan ship in one on one combat and could probably beat another Lucifer. He realized he was tired from the shuttle ride to the Aquitaine. He walked to his quarters, pausing to glance around his room. There was no family holos, no souvenirs, and no personal items. All he had was a bed, a computer, and his flight uniform. He flopped down on his bed, and let the darkness of sleep overtake him.

He was awoken by a computerized voice that boomed from his computer. "Mission Briefing in ten minutes." He groaned. He must have slept through both the thirty minute alarm and the twenty minute alarm. He grabbed his flight uniform, and then hopped down the hall to the briefing room, trying to get his foot in his flight boot while moving. He finally managed to get it on and sprinted the last 50 meters, sitting down in his seat just as the lights went off and the automated briefing started.

"At 0200 hours, we received a distress call from a convoy of Saitis-class freighters. Each one carries over 500 civilians. They are escorted by a wing of Theta-class fighters. They are being attacked by the NTF and because they are Vasudan, the NTF will show no mercy in attacking them. We will dispatch Alpha wing to handle the situation. That is all."

Talon walked out of the briefing room and to the fighter bay. He climbed into his Myrmidon and fired up the engines. He engaged his subspace drive, and watched is the swirling blue vortex that was subspace. He and Alpha two arrived at their destinations only seconds after leaving. Instead of finding the expected three transports and wing of fighters, they found two badly damaged freighters and three fighters with near-critical hull integrity. Talon's computer designated the freighters Iota 1 and Iota 2, and the fighters Epsilon wing.

Alpha 2: "This is Alpha 2 of the 53rd Hammerhead, GTD Aquitaine. What is your status?"

A Vasudan replied, with its odd, croaking voice layered over by a mechanical-sounding translator.

Epsilon 3: "Alpha wing, this is Epsilon 3. We have repelled the rebel attack but have sustained heavy casualties. We fear the rebels will return in greater force."

Alpha 2: "Hang in there Iota. Command will send a recovery craft. We'll defend the transports."

Just then, Talon's sensor picked up a wing of Hercules' fighters emerging from subspace in front of him. Accelerating to intercept, he launched a salvo of four Rockeye missiles. They hit the group of fighters, blowing them apart. He dove behind the other fighters, destroying them with sustained fire form his lasers. Just then he saw the axe-shaped profile of a Hatshepsut-class destroyer coming out of subspace right next to the convoy.

GVD Psamtik: "This is the GVD Psamtik. We are here to rendezvous with the transports."

Iota 1: "Roger that Psamtik. We will dock with you. Setting course now."

The transports lit their ion drives and headed for the Psamtik docking point.

Command: "Hold on there Psamtik. A rebel Deimos-class corvette, the NTCv Belisarius, has run our blockade of the Sirius jump node. We have tracked them to your coordinates. Stand by to intercept."

GVD Psamtik: "Roger that command."

A moment later, the Belisarius thrust its prow from subspace, gliding in. Talon took a quick look at the ship and could see at a glance that it was badly damaged. Sparks were playing over its whole body, turrets were reduced to only so much rubble and char, and there were several deep gashes in its side that must have been inflicted by beam cannons. Talon's computer told him that its hull was at 20 integrity. The Psamtik turned so that all of its beam cannons faced towards the Belisarius.

GVD Psamtik: "Gunnery stations, power up beam cannons. Commence plasma core insertion."

The Psamtiks beam turrets glowed yellow with power.

GVD Psamtik: "Belisarius, power down your reactor and surrender. You will not get another warning."

NTCv Belisarius: "Negative Vasudan! The NTF is the only legitimate authority in this system. I will not give up my ship!"

GVD Psamtik: "As you wish."

Suddenly, bright yellow beams lanced from the Psamtik's beam turrets and struck the Belisarius. They hit dead center of the ship, burning away sections of armor and finally piercing the other side of the corvette. The Psamtik stopped firing and minor explosions started to ripple through the ship. Finally, a massive explosion ripped apart the ship, sending cruiser-sized pieces shooting in all directions. The Psamtik started launching fighters to escort the transports to the transports.

GVD Psamtik: "Now deploying Kappa and Zeta wings. You are relieved of your escort Alpha wing."

Command: "Permission to RTB."

Talon engaged his subspace drive and quickly arrived at the Aquitaine. He docked and then walked to the debriefing room. His commander spoke to him.

Commander: "You did very well Lieutenant Star. You defended the transport and got five kills. Instant ace. If you continue this performance, you will probably be in line for a promotion. Dismissed."

Talon wandered away after the debriefing. He was excited at being an ace, and he hoped he could live up to his commander's expectations.

About an hour later he heard the half-hour warning for a briefing. He got to the briefing room and settled down until the briefing started.

"This mission will use all of Alpha and Beta wing. Intelligence has found a depot where the rebels are moving cargo. The cargo is rumored to hold components to a rebel device called ETAC, possibly a weapon of mass destruction. Beta, you will scan the cargo. Alpha will escort Beta. Delta wing, two Ursa-class bombers, will be standing by in case any capital ships jump in. Go get them pilots."

Talon scrambled to his fighter. This time the jump took a little longer because the Aquitaine was pretty much as far as it could be from the target. When Talon reverted to realspace two Loki fighters were about a klick away. They turned towards him and opened fire. His shield level dropped, and he actually lost his front shield from a missile hit. He pulled a U-turn and found himself behind the fighters. As he chased fighters around, he listened to the conversation on the comm.

Beta 1: "Command, we've got a problem here."

Command: "What is it Beta?"

Beta 1: "We can't scan the cargo."

Command: "Run a diagnostics Beta. Are your sensors malfunctioning?"

Beta 1: "Negative command, there's some kind of shielding on those units. Our sensors can't penetrate."

Command: "Acknowledged Beta. Abort the scan and get out of there."

Beta 1: "What about recovery op?"

Command: "We will not risk a recovery ship in these asteroids. Destroy the cargo."

Talon heard the command and swung towards the nearest cargo container and opened fire with his lasers watching as other fighters in his wing did the same. Talon keyed his mike.

Alpha 1: "Command, permission to RTB."

Command: "Hold on Alpha. Long rang sensors detect something large 200 kilometers from your position. Sending coordinates now."

Talon powered up his engines and headed for what looked like a large asteroid. As he got closer he could see that the asteroid was actually a station that was bristling with weapons.

Alpha 2: "Command, that asteroid has turrets and a fighter bay. It must be a rebel installation."

Command: "Copy that. Sending Delta to support."

As Talon neared the station, the laser turrets rotated to track his squadron. They opened fire immediately when they were in range. One of them impacted directly on Alpha 4. His shields buckled under the blast and his ship rocked with the impact.

Alpha 4: "Oh God, my reactor breached! It's going critical!"

Alpha 1: "Alpha 4 eject!"

Talon watched helplessly as Alpha 4's ejection seat ignited its rocket motor, but his canopy did not jettison. His cockpit filled with flames. Finally the rocket pushed his seat free of his cockpit, but it only carried his limp body a few meters from his crippled fighter before his reactor detonated, swallowing both pilot and ship. Talon forced any thoughts of Alpha 4 from his head and dived towards the base, strafing any turret he saw. Delta wing was approaching fast, and it would not be long before they got within bomb range. Just then, a communication came from the rebel installation.

Rebel Installation: "This is Admiral Bosch of the Neo-Terran front. Allied fighters, break off your attack!"

Alpha 2: "Command, the rebel leader is on that base!"

Command: "Disregard that transmission Alpha. Admiral Bosch is in the Polaris system. This must be a decoy."

Rebel installation: "If you kill me here you sign the death warrant for our race! I demand unfettered access to the Sirius jump node!"

Command: "There will be no negotiations Bosch."

Rebel installation: "Listen to me! If you give me safe passage to Sirius, I will pull all my forces out of Deneb."

Command: "Pilots, destroy that installation. You have your orders."

Talon looked at his tactical map. Delta wing was in range and had already launched some of their bombs. He watched as they flew to and hit the rebel base. He saw that the base was starting to break apart, a sign of a good hit. But even as he thought that he knew it was wrong. The bombs that were launched were not strong enough to destroy the station. Plus, most of the explosions were coming from inside the station, suggesting a self-destruct. The station suddenly exploded, shooting cruiser-sized pieces of rock hurtling at high speed in all directions. In the center of the destroyed asteroid there was a destroyer; one which's design had been made by Admiral Bosh when he was in the GTVA, a destroyer called the NTD Iceni. For it to be there, it must have been placed at the center of the asteroid.

Command: "That's not an installation! Destroy the engines of that warship. Do not let it escape!"

Talon tried to shoot the engines, but the Iceni engaged its subspace drive and rocketed out of the asteroid field.

Command: "All fighters pursue the Iceni! Stop it before it reaches the Sirius jump node!"

Talon obligingly engaged his drive, waiting the couple seconds it would take to get to the new section of space where the Iceni was. Most space ships were equipped with a jump drive. This allowed easy travel with in a system. Larger ships had a high power jump drives, which allowed them to jump between systems. However, they had to occur at a special anomaly in space called a jump gate. The Iceni needed to reach the node so it could get to the Sirius system. Talon knew what would be waiting. A blockade of 3-4 corvettes and a destroyer would be waiting to intercept the Iceni. And Talons quadroon was supposed to jump in right behind the Iceni, giving it easy access to the destroyer's vulnerable engines. At least that's would he thought. When he reverted he got a big surprise. The blockade was nowhere to be seen, and the Iceni were 5 kilometers from his squad.

Command: "Engage you after burner and intercept."

Alpha 3: "Command, were five klicks from that destroyer. Those coordinates you gave us were bogus! We don't stand a chance at catching it."

Command: "Try any way, Alpha.

Alpha 3: "Command, where's the blockade? Why aren't we guarding that node?"

Command: "Those ships have been reprioritized for engagements elsewhere in the system.

Talon diverted all power to his engines and engaged his afterburner, but he knew they could not catch the destroyer. When he was still three kilometers from the destroyer it got to the node. Talon heard a message from the Iceni come over the comm.

Admiral Bosch: "You've failed pilots. You would be well advised to question the wisdom of your leaders. Admiral Bosch out."

The Iceni accelerated and jumped out of the system. Talon heard Alpha 3 arguing angrily to command.

Alpha 3: "Request a status brief here command. What the hell is going on here?"

Command: "You're out of line, pilot."

Alpha 3: "Out of line? I don't think so! We're risking our lives out here, we deserve an explanation."

Command: "You will get an explanation when we decide to give it to you pilot. Command out."

Alpha 3: "Damn it! Command let Bosch escape!"

Beta 2: "What are you talking about?"

Alpha 4: "They pulled the blockade; they gave us the wrong coordinates! There's no other explanation!"

Beta 2: "Why? Why would they do that?"

Alpha 3: "You tell me pilot. I'm informed on a need to know basis!"

Beta 2: "Stand down; we're on your side here."

Alpha 3: Why did we hit that cargo? Why did we attack the Iceni? I can live with being a pawn if the game makes sense!"

Command: "All fighters return to base. The Aquitaine is shipping out."

Talon jumped back to the Aquitaine, all the while wondering why command had did what it did, and where the Aquitaine would be shipping out to. When he got debriefed he was not told any reason for the Iceni incident. He doubted that what actually happened would ever be classified below top-secret. He headed to his bunk, saddened by the loss of Alpha 4. He knew that they would have a replacement pilot and ship within a day. He was about to go to sleep when his beeper buzzed. He was wanted in his wing commanders office. He got quite a surprise when he got his commanders office. No only was his wing commander there, there was also another officer wearing a commanders sign and a patch with a Raven on it. His commander spoke first.

"Lieutenant Star. Due to your out standing performance and kill rate, you have been selected to transfer to the 107th Ravens, a heavy assault fighter squadron. They now operate the Hercules Mk.2, a heavy assault fighter. This is Commander Samson, leader of the Ravens.

Commander Samson reached out and shook Talons hand. He was a big man, and he had to keep is head lowered so that it would not bang into the ceiling. He talked to talon. "I am glad to welcome you into the 107th Ravens. We have a new campaign coming up, and the Ravens will be heavily involved in it. You will lead Alpha wing, just as you have been doing in the Hammerheads. Your transfer will be immediate, and the Hercules controls just like the Myrmidon, so you should have no trouble getting used to it. Your new ship is in bay 12-8. You are dismissed."

Exited by the prospect of a new squadron and ship, he headed back to his bunk. He flopped down and fell asleep.