Chapter 2

Planet Manhattan, New York System:

"John, wake up, please you have to wake up!"

Feeling myself being shaken, I turned over, looking into the eyes of my brother. He seemed afraid, something I had not seen in a long time.

"What is it, why are you shaking me?" I asked, half-asleep.

"Newark Station was destroyed in a terrorist attack! They say pieces of the station keep re-entering the atmosphere, some of them are pretty big apparently. My friend told me he saw a piece of it land right in Dallas Square."

Pushing him out of the way, I made my way into the bathroom and quickly dressed myself. My brother was right, as I could see flashes of light in the sky through the window as the smaller pieces of debris burnt as they re-entered the atmosphere.

"Paul, I want you to listen to me. Stay home from school today. I need to go into work immediately, but I will get home as soon as I can ok?"

"Okay John, but don't be long. You remember what happened last time!" he said, clearly hurt that I had to leave.

"I do, but it won't happen again I promise. I'll see you later."

I locked the door behind me, and quickly rode the elevator into the lobby. Upon exiting the building, I could see an armoured transport was already awaiting me. The Liberty Security Force logo could be clearly seen on the side of the ship. As the ramp of the ship dropped, I could see the Director of the LSF standing in the entryway.

"Lieutenant Thomson, we need you on board immediately. Some agents will be stopping by shortly to pick up your brother, I will explain more at LSF Headquarters." he yelled, trying to fight the noise of the engine.

"Is this about Newark Station? What happened up there?"

"Just get on board the ship, we need to depart immediately."

I quickly hopped on board the ship, and strapped myself in the brief flight to LSF Headquarters. Director Meyers was quite visibly stressed, and lit the cigarette in his hand to cope.

"Care for one Lieutenant? By the end of tonight, we're all going to need one."

"No thanks," I motioned, having quit the habit ages ago. "What can you tell me about the current situation? I hear it was a terrorist attack. Is The Order attacking us again sir?"

"No Lieutenant, we picked up some survivors up there who report that they witnessed Outcast ships attacking the station. However, they also mention cloaking devices and nuclear weapons, both technologies we know they lack."

The very word Outcast shook me to my core, as the memories of my childhood came into the forefront of my mind. When Paul and I were young, our parents were killed when the convoy they were a part of came under attack in the Sigma systems by Outcasts.

"Lieutenant, I am aware of your past histories with the Outcasts. But we cannot single them out as the suspects in this attack. Once we are at headquarters, we will brief you with what we know. But for now, enjoy the quiet. It's the last you'll get for a long time."

After a few minutes, the pilot of the transport told us that we were approaching the building. The tall tower stood out in the skyline, with large glowing letters along the side of the building that said spelled LSF. After landing in the docking bay, we disembarked the ship, and moved down a corridor towards the briefing area. It was a fairly large room, meant to hold various officers and their sub-ordinates as they discussed the latest pieces of intelligence and operations reports. I was pointed towards the table, and sat down to hear the briefing. Only a handful of officers were present in the room.

"An hour ago, various stockholders and corporate officers met on board Newark Station for the anniversary meeting of Interspace Commerce. After the CEO's speech, a bomb went off, killing the CEO and countless other civilians. Moments later, 2 groups of ships de-cloaked around the station, and began to attack it and other ships that were in the local area. After the battle, one of the ships fired a nuclear warhead which destroyed the station. Witnesses to the attack say that the ships appeared to be Outcast Sabres, however we cannot be sure. We are still trying to salvage what we can from the station, but so far we haven't found anything useful. Our biggest priority right now in the LSF is to investigate the attack. However I have called this particular group of officers to this meeting for a specific reason."

The director paused as we processed what we had heard. We looked around at each other, trying to see if we recognized anyone, but to no avail.

"I have brought you all together for a classified operation that only I and the President know of. Because of this attack, the other Houses are on high alert. Because of this, none of them are willing to share any intelligence information they may have on the Outcasts or other criminals. Therefore, we are sending you out alone on a fact-finding mission. Each of you will report to your ships immediately, and disembark to the co-ordinates that are already locked into your nav-computer. We will keep in contact with you, but you will be unable to contact us. We need to know if the Outcasts really were the ones behind this attack, and we must get justice for those who died. Once we establish who it was who attacked Newark Station, we will meet again at an undisclosed location. Good luck everyone."

As the director left the room with his security team, the other officers in the room gathered their things and proceeded to the hangar.

"Hey, Lieutenant Thomson! I need to speak with you"

I turned to see who it was, and it was one of the instructors in the LSF, Colonel Edgar Peters.

"Colonel Peters, it is an honour to see you again. What can I do for you?" I asked.

"Your about to embark on an operation I hear, I've been privy to some of the information in that meeting. While your away, they've asked me to take care of your brother. You know he applied to the LSF a few weeks ago right?"

"Yeah," I sighed. "I'm not too happy about it, I was hoping he'd stay planet-side. He needs something that's safe."

"Funny, I remember telling you the same thing when you were younger and wanted to join the LSF. Don't you worry, I'll make sure that he's safe. I think that Paul will make a fine addition to the LSF"

I shook his hand, and he left. I continued down the hangar, where everyone else was boarding their ship. I could see mine was ready to go, so I got inside and engaged the engine immediately. The Defender Heavy Fighter handled well, but compared to the ships in the other Houses, it was definitely starting to show its age.

"Oh well, at least it should keep me alive," I shrugged.

Looking at the ships computer, I could see that I had a Lavablade turret, two Magma Hammer guns, and three Justice lasers equipped. It wasn't much but it would keep me alive in a fight.

"LSF 1-4, you are clear for take-off, good luck out there," said the control tower, as the other ships began to launch into space.

"Copy control, clear for take-off." With those words, the engines roared to life, and I began the ascent into space. It was strange to say goodbye to Manhattan, not knowing where I was headed to. But for the people of Liberty, it was important to seek leads on the incident at Newark.