0900 Hours

©2001 R. Alexander Spoerer

"Mommy's home!"

A little boy runs up and latches onto a young woman who just entered the small apartment. At the kitchen table a man looks up from his paper and smiles, "Welcome home, honey. How was shopping?"

After ruffling her child's hair, the woman sighed as she sat down heavily, placing a two small bags onto the table.

"What's wrong mommy?"

The woman smiled half-heartedly to the now concerned child, "It's nothing to worry about, dear. Now go and play while I talk to daddy."

Obediently, the child scampered out of the room. The man looked at the woman, "That good, huh?"

It was then the woman let her frustration show, "I could only get 2 days worth of food...."

"What? But, we were supposed to get a week's worth!"

She solemnly nodded, "I know, but it was all they had at the center. There's just not enough to go around.... What're we going to do?"

The man reached over and gently grasped her hands in both of his, "We'll think of something, honey. We always do...."

The couple in the kitchen fades away to black and is replaced by an older man wearing a dark grey military uniform. He begins to speak in a firm, but sympathetic tone, "It is a time of crisis for Selene. And in this time of crisis, we need to conserve as much as we can to ensure everyone we care for come through. The Selene Population Authority wants to remind all citizens that unauthorized births are both negligent and detrimental to Selene. Working together, we will get through any adversity we are put up against. Remember, be responsible and wait to have a family. You'll be glad you did...."

The man disappeared as well, replaced by a logo with blue stylized letters spelling out SPA. A woman's voice prattles out cheerfully the finale of the commercial before Commander Amika Navasen turned off her holoset.

"This message was brought to you by the Selene Population Authority, encouraging conservation through moderation."


God did she hate those commercials. Every time they came on, Amika would feel her stomach churn in disgust. Bet they did not need to have 'population authority' on Earth. With all that room, anyone could do anything they wanted.

Her hands ran over the tactical reports on her desk before reaching a small white plastic stick. She pressed the top of it and a holographic projection of her and Solenn blinked into existence over her desk. They were holding each other at the edge of a large lake in the northern sector of Selene, called Luna Lake.

Amika's eyes locked with the picture for what seemed to be hours before she broke contact and sighed.

"I miss you, Solenn...."

A soft chime went off startling her back to reality. After a moment regaining her bearings she pressed the yellow flashing light on the desk, "Yes?"

"Commander? Admiral Sevrinson wishes to see you, sir."

Sevrinson? Why in the world does he need to see her? The 723rd Special Attack Wing no longer existed and she sure as hell did not have any other duties tied into his division.

"Tell the Admiral I'm on my way, Yeoman."

"Aye, sir."

Amika stood and after taking a moment to make sure her uniform was in order, walked out of her office.


"You wished to see me, sir?"

"Ah yes, Commander Navasen, please come in and take a seat."

Amika entered the well-appointed office moving over the immense Persian rug covering the floor of the office to one of the large cherry wood chairs in front of the antique desk, made of the same wood, Admiral Sevrinson sat behind.

He was a somewhat imposing man, with completely grey hair and harsh hazel eyes. Outwardly, he smiled courteously but she could see how those betrayed his smile.

"How are you commander? Having any problems adjusting to back to regular squadron duty?"

She shook her head, "No, sir. I should be up to speed before the end of today."

"Good, I'm glad to hear that."

"Is there something you needed to see me about, sir?"

The admiral leaned back in his chair, "I just came back from the Council and they want the 723rd re-instated."

Amika's eyes widened, "But, sir, that means sending more..."

"...suicide missions, yes I know that, Commander."

The uncomfortable pause was interrupted by the bells of an old desk clock near Amika. She did not break eye contact with the Sevrinson to see what time it was though.

"Sir, I thought there was no longer any need for the 723rd..."

"That was before Pilot Solenn found that large underground base on Earth, commander. Now things are different and we need more intelligence on that base before we send Fleet down there to begin the offensive."

Amika pursed her suddenly dry lips as she thought about what she would say next. She had been in command of the 723rd ever since its inception two years ago. It was just another assignment for her, until she met Solenn. After sending him to his almost certain death, she was glad the squadron was being dissolved.

That way she would not be constantly reminded of what she had done to the man she loved.

"You know, he's still transmitting."

Amika blinked her eyes, realizing she had been a little too deep into her thoughts, "Sir?"

"Pilot Solenn. His fighter is still transmitting telemetry and intelligence data."

She shook off the comment and stood up, "Sir, I cannot command the 723rd again."

"Oh? Why is that, commander?"

"I am not up to it, sir."

Sevrinson arched an eyebrow, "Not up to it? Commander Navasen, you are the best qualified to run that squadron. To have anyone else take over now would only cause delay for other Fleet operations. Do you know how many lives lost that could translate into?"

"Sir, I... Permission to speak frankly, sir?"

"Granted, commander."

"Sir, I don't care if I am the best qualified to do this, I just can't handle sending any more pilots off to die. Every time I sign the transfer orders to bring in new pilots I know I might as well be signing their death warrants. I understand that casualties are the inevitable result of any conflict but to me this feels like I'm murdering them myself. I can't live with that any longer, sir."

He looked at her for a minute or so, not making a word or motion. Amika waited through the silence for her court-martial but was surprised to see Sevrinson begin to clap his hands in applause.

"Bravo, commander! That was a splendid performance."

"Sir, I don't understand what you mean."

Sevrinson tapped a button on a control panel at the edge of his desk to bring up an image of the inside of a Selenian fighter. Inside the cockpit were both she and Solenn sharing their last kiss before he launched a week ago.

Amika's voice died in her throat as the admiral played the last moments they had together. She felt her hand clutch the armrest of the chair in such a grip they threatened to puncture through the old leather.

"I know of your 'affair' with Lieutenant Valior, commander. I also know you spent a considerable amount of time with him before this last, touching remembrance."

Amika steeled herself, releasing the armrest of the chair, "Yes, I did spend some time with him, sir. However, that has nothing to do with any of this."

"Now you're twisting the facts, commander. Before you met this pilot you executed your duties without fail. But after you developed feelings for him you decided 'you cannot murder any more pilots'? Don't insult my intelligence."

"Regardless of my motivation, sir, I refuse to take command of the 723rd Special Attack Wing and if need be I will tender my resignation."

She stood abruptly and began turning to leave but stopped when Sevrinson's voice assaulted her from behind, "Sit down, Commander Navasen!"

Reluctantly, she returned to her seat, waiting for him to do the next move.

He reached into his desk and took out a hardcopy of a medical report. Toward the bottom, something was circled. Amika felt all of the color leave her cheeks when she saw it.

"Commander, I believe you don't understand the level of trouble you are in right now. You are right, you could resign, but then you'd have to deal with the SPA."

She kept her mouth completely shut as he spoke.

"Of course, there is no need for any of this information to see the light of day.... In fact, this problem could disappear and you'd never have to worry about dealing with the SPA ever."

Finally, she began to speak, her voice soft and thick, "You can't do this..."

"Oh I can't? I am the best chance you have, commander, for you to keep the only thing you have left of your beloved. All you need to do is to do your duty.

Amika closed her eyes, her head tilting downward.

There was no way out.

"...I'll do it."


"Is this it, Lieutenant?"

"Yes, sir. The new Astraea FGA Mk.II. It just came in last night straight from the Mare Crisium Shipyard. Incredible, isn't she?"

"Yes, it is..."


The young Lieutenant slumped backward onto Amika's shoulder after hitting him with the butt of her pistol. She quickly caught him and dragged his unconscious form outside the launch bay.

She needed to work quickly since the next shift of engineers would be coming shortly through the bay's auxiliary doors. Running to the door, Amika took out a black box and slid it into the door's reader, pushing a couple of buttons. Noises could be heard from the door as locks secured it in place.

Three minutes left.

This entire plan was pure insanity at best, sheer lunacy at worst. Before several days ago, never in her wildest dreams would she have considered doing something like this, but all that changed with Admiral Sevrinson took out that report.

Rushing into the launch bay's control room, Amika typed in the necessary access codes to open the main doors to space. The computer accepted the codes and red klaxons began to scream through the launch bay as well as the monotone female voice of the computer.

"Warning, all personnel evacuate launch bay immediately. Launch bay doors will open in two minutes. Repeat, all personnel evacuate launch bay immediately. Launch bay doors will open in two minutes."

Amika ran toward the fighter and climbed up the cockpit ladder and into the new fighter.

It smelled as if they had just removed the plastic from all the control surfaces as she settled into cockpit chair. Putting on her flight helmet, she initialized the fighter's main computer and started to enable all systems on the fighter.

She could have easily stolen one of the other fighters that the 723rd regularly uses instead of this one, but the Astraea FGA Mk.II had one extra system the other three fighters did not have: Electromagnetic Camouflage.

"Warning, all personnel evacuate launch bay immediately. Launch bay doors will open in one minute. Repeat, all personnel evacuate launch bay immediately. Launch bay doors will open in one minute."

The lifeless voice of EOS chimed in after Amika had completed the last check, "Systems check complete. Fighter ready for launch."

A loud whirring noise permeated the bay as the main launch doors opened to space. Anything that wasn't nailed down flew out as decompression occurred.

Amika glanced at the launch control room one last time and saw that Sevrinson and some technicians came rushing in.

"EOS, activated Camouflage system."

"Acknowledged, Camouflage system active."

As the fighter disappeared from everyone's view, she could still see the shock plastered all over his face as he almost gawked at the situation before.

Amika opened an audio-only communications channel, broadcasting as she hit the throttle to full hurling the fighter out of the bay, saying one last thing to the admiral

"Give my regards to the SPA."


Author's Notes:

Well, I hope you like this. It's a continuation from my last story 0830 Hours, so you should probably read it before reading this one. (Hmmm, guess I should put that disclaimer in the front huh? ^_^;;)

Speaking of disclaimer... Einhander and related concepts are owned by Squaresoft and are being used without permission. Characters copyright Author.