Disclaimer: I do not own the Homeworld series, only my original characters (which, funnily enough, is probably about 99% of the cast).

Chapter 1

Elan woke up from a scant six-hour sleep. He noted the current time at 2300, acknowledging his upcoming shift with a tired groan. He got out of bed and saw that his other roommates on the graveyard shift were beginning to awaken as well. Dimly lit bodies were slowly beginning to slide out of their bunks as the crewroom quietly came to life.

Elan swiftly hit the bathroom, intent on keeping the large crewroom-wide facility to himself for as long as possible, and went through his usual waking routine. He quickly brushed his teeth and splashed some cold water on his face before heading back into the crewroom. He headed for his locker, opening it with a swift tug to the latch and pulled his flight suit out. He quickly dressed and checked the time again. Less than ten minutes had passed since he had awoken. Smiling to himself, Elan scooped his helmet from his locker before he closed it and turned to leave the room.

He walked up to the automatic sliding door but quickly stopped within a foot of them. The sensors should have picked him up by now and opened the door, but were lagging for some reason or another. Elan waited for all of ten seconds before hitting the manual override button, forcing the doors to open. Light flooded the dim crewroom as the doors parted, forcing Elan to blink and squint through the brightness but permitting him into the hallway. He walked out into the gunmetal grey hallway and made his way to the elevator, wishing the lights would be turned down. He dialed for the mess hall once inside before settling his weight against the wall, recounting the events of yesterday as the elevator made its way to his destination.

He had just returned from a seven-hour combat alert. Sightings of unusually large pirate groups had sent resourcing crews into a frenzied retreat, calling for fighter support all the way back.

Pfeh... See the workers in full retreat and keep me and four whole Acolyte squadrons on combat patrol for almost 24 hours straight... What the hell was command THINKING?

The elevator came to a stop, pulling Elan from his thoughts. The door slid open as his eyes were met with the familiar sight of the mess hall's long tables and benches. Elan made his way to the counter, quickly grabbing a plate containing what appeared to simply be standard military rations before claiming a seat to eat his meal and continue his thoughts. They immediately turned to his fleet commander.

Commander Rediv Somtaaw's talent with tactical command was seen as many of his subordinates as the only reason he was promoted. Unfortunately, it was mated to a tendency to quickly crumble under pressure. When he was informed of all workers in the area going into full retreat due to a pirate threat, he immediately scrambled every Acolyte and Recon at his disposal to full combat alert. However, even after six hours of inactivity and reports of the pirates going into hyperspace, Commander Rediv refused to recall his exhausted pilots just yet, allowing the pressure and his paranoia to overtake his reason.

Elan's wingmen had become so exhausted that when he heard the latest report claiming the pirates had disappeared into hyperspace, he immediately made the call for his pilots to return to their carrier, the Feng-Yuun, and get some sleep, despite the demands of his freshly-promoted fleet commander.

Oh yeah... I forgot... Me and my lieutenant both lost our wings because of that incident...

Elan's remembering the result of his actions was a bitter sting to him. He himself had just been promoted to Captain, but his actions just yesterday were all his commander needed to have him reassigned to Worker duty. He had worked hard to turn his squad into a cohesive and effective combat unit too, so the memory of his demotion doubled in it's feeling of painful loss. Elan technically hadn't lost his flight authorization, but the fact that he was no longer at the controls of an Acolyte was enough for him to say that he had lost his "wings".

It was at that moment that Elan realized that he was not wearing the black and crimson flightsuit of a Beastslayer Acolyte pilot anymore, but the blue and white suit of a Somtaaw Worker pilot. He was so used to his previous reality that his brain hadn't recognized his current one. Snorting in disgust, Elan pushed what remained of his food away as he grabbed his helmet, which he recognized as a Worker helmet in another moment of recognition, and made his way to the hangar. Rather than entering the "fighter/corvette" section of the hangar, he now entered the "Frigate" section.

Nine Workers were lined up front-to-back in three rows of three as Elan moved to the front and center worker and climbed inside. His former lieutenant, Zerik, had been reassigned as Elan's co-pilot and PDA operator. He was already in his seat, patiently awaiting the arrival of his ex-captain.

"Are we ready, Captain?"

Elan chuckled sadly as he replied, "You don't have to call me that anymore, Zer. I was stripped of rank and wing because of that idiot commander."

"That may be true, but to me you're still the 'Captain'. The rest of the squad still thinks so too."

"At this rate, Rediv will have them all reassigned. The squad I remember will be just that: a memory."

"Don't kill it off just yet. We've filed an official complaint to Somtaaw Fleet Command about Rediv. He should be reassigned somewhere nice and safe before long."

Elan climbed into his seat and strapped himself in as he quipped, "Were it my decision I'd have him loaded into a drone for target practice. At least there, his paranoia would be justified."

Zerik openly laughed as he started the worker up and said, "I doubt Fleet Command will be so accomodating, but at the very least we'll know he'll soon be in a position where he won't be able to do something so stupid again. How he ever made it to a position of command, I have no idea."

Elan laughed as well and said, "Same with the rest of us. It's about time someone filed a complaint too. I hear that even his XO can't stand him." He laughed again as he continued, "Anyways, we should get comfortable where we are at the moment. That complaint won't reach the higher-ups for a while."

"You're right. Ready for launch, Captain."

Elan rolled his eyes and chuckled as he launched the worker from the carrier's frigate bay.

Though still classified as a Shaman-class carrier, this generation of Shaman had undergone multiple modifications to the original design. She still resembled the first carriers produced by Somtaaw, but only barely. The current Shaman was about 30% larger and included a third frigate bay, blast doors covering the fighter bays, heavier armor and a more generous complement of modern weaponry.

Elan looked out from his worker to see the detachment of the Somtaaw resourcing fleet that he had been assigned to. It consisted of a single processor, a few ramming and hive frigates, two escorting destroyers, and the Feng-Yuun which herself contained multiple squadrons of acolytes, recons and nine workers. This detachment was assigned to the Osiris asteroid belt, known among Somtaaw for being somewhat rich in resources and low in pirate activity. It was their favorite place to test new recruits.

Despite it's renowned lack of pirate activity, the Osiris belt seemed to be undergoing a boom in piracy. Nobody could quite figure out why, besides the fact that they would appear in large numbers, causing workers to make a full retreat before disappearing into hyperspace as recons made their approach. Elan noted that he himself had never actually seen the pirate vessels himself, but with workers retreating in such large numbers, he doubted it was some kind of scheme amongst the pilots. Such a large blow to productivity would be answered with force. Those involved would be swiftly punished and reassigned to laborious tasks somewhere far away from a cockpit.

Now that I'm in a worker.. Maybe I'll have a chance to see these pirates for myself... he thought with a grim smile. He didn't fancy the idea of facing pirates in a worker, but his curiosity was eating at him. He had only heard reports of sightings by workers and reports of closing quantum wavefronts by recons.

At the moment, however, he no longer had time for his thoughts. Elan and Zerik had arrived at the assigned resourcing area. They quickly set about their work, firing the onboard Phased Disassembler Array at the nearest asteroid and began harvesting it.