Infinite Space: A tale from beyond the rim
A Letter of Introduction
Space is cold. It's also dark and just plain unforgiving. But despite all of this, it's the desolate place I chose to make my home. As a young lad I dreamed of traveling the sea of stars. Back then, things were simple. My people had barely started to explore space and, in addition, our own moons. Then, everything we thought we knew about ourselves changed. That day started out well enough. We had launched a probe into space designed to seek out metallic asteroids and space debris that we might be able to mine for resources. The probe did its job well that day... with one slight problem. It decided through a programming glitch to not point out into space, but instead point down at the surface of my world; which, oddly enough, was named Kharak... Prison in the old tongues.
Remember me saying the probe did its job? Well, this is where it gets interesting. It found a ship; a single, massive ship buried in the sands of the Great Desert. That single event nearly destroyed our society. A civil war broke out and, as we reverse engineered the ship's technology, it escalated exponentially. The Gerudans, seeing that the Royal Family wanted to use the technology to start a colony, went on an offensive to try and take the reins of power. The war continued to escalate until the battles on the ground gradually worked their way into space. Space battles were intense and it wasn't until the advent of the positron cannon and the battlestars that carried them that the war turned in favor of the Royals. The valkyrie was soon developed as the pinnacle of fighter technology as it was capable of not only air and space superiority, but urban combat as well. Soon after, the war ended and the Royal Family remained in power. The world, for the most part, celebrated as work on out first colony ship started at full speed. I was only three when the project began. Still, in the end, the world was destroyed anyway. We had finally completed our first long range ship, equipped with a new, longer range Jump Drive. I was chosen to lead a squadron stationed on the ship itself.
My name is Sora Hyrin. And this is where my tale begins.
Prologue: ….and so the world ends.
"Transport Omega-Seven requesting docking vector, Frontier Control." As the unarmed ship approached the scaffold, a pair of small blips appeared on one of the station's monitors. "Omega-Seven, you are cleared for docking port seventeen. Please proce-...Omega-Seven, EVADE, EVADE. Twin bogies identified as SV-51 interceptors are approaching." The small transport, however, had no time as the two fighters opened fire. Large gouts of flame belcheds from the engineering deck as the vessel, caught by Kharak's gravity well, sank quickly in to the atmosphere.
Klaxons and sirens rang loudly throughout the main hangar as pilots and deck crew rushed to get their craft onto the catapults. On one end of the bay, an explosion rang out as a stray round slammed into a fuel tank. As launch signals were given, only two pilots were launched, catapulted to several times the speed of sound before leaving the launch tube into open space.
"This is Firekeese One; locked, loaded, and ready to engage."
"Firekeese Two. Bingo missiles. Ready to engage."
"Firekeese Flight, redirect vector two-two-zero mark eight-one -five. Engage Gerudan valkyries. Repeat, engage Gerudan valkyries."
The twin starfighters flipped around and fred boosters, moving instantly to intercept the enemy. One of the enemy craft managed to fire off a missile as the two flights passed between each other, but it was unable to compensate enough and missed. As the two groups manuevered to fire again, one of the Gerudans pulled in behind Firekeese One. Tracers streaked past the canopyas the pilot tried to evade, jinking wildly. "Firekeese One, taking heavy fire. Gonna try and lose him in the scaffold." As One dove towards the massive scaffold, the second fighter fell in on her tail. Two, however, had his own issues as the missile fired earlier reset and began tracking him. "One, this is Two. I am evasive, repeat, I am evasive. Will assist ASAP."
Twisting the throttle grip, he switched the fighter to gerwalk and felt it respond almost immediately. A whirling sound and a sudden high-g pressure on his harness followed as the twin engines swung forward then twisted, throwing the craft through a spinning immelmann. The missile, unable to compensate for the sudden manuever, slammed into an unmanned tug-ship.
"Firekeese Two, Re-engaging. Hold on, Klane`. I'm coming."
"Sora, I am pinned down in Scaffold Bay Twelve by both fighters. I'm in battroid mode taking cover behind some heavy machinery." Her valkyrie shook as several rounds slammed into the torso of her craft. -WARNING...WARNING...REACTIVE ARMOR OFFLINE- 'You better hurry up Sora, or I'll haunt you forever.' Bringing her gunpod up, she fired a burst before several rounds tore through it. As alarms sounded in the cockpit, she closed her eyes as she saw the enemy bringing up their own gunpods and prayed for safe passage. An explosion, followed by a second rocked her valkyrie and caused her to open her eyes. Instead of the twin SV-51's, a single VF-19 stood among the debris and flames. "Hey Klane`... you miss me?"
"Damnit, Bakuretsu! Could you have been any slower? I think I singed my flightsuit."
"Ha! If I hadn't shown up when I did, you'd have been pasted."
"Yeah, I know. I owe you dinner, lil bro."
Switching back to the main tower frequency, he said, "Frontier Control this is Firekeese Two. Firekeese Flight is RTB. Mission Accomplished." In unison, the two fighters did a lazy roll and banked left, moving to re-enter the atmosphere and head home.
And life, at this point, was good. I remember flying back that night thinking that things were great. We had the occasional Gerudan terrorists, radicals who believed we should remain planet-bound; that life begins and ends with the desert. Good for them, I give kudos for sticking to their beliefs. But damn, for a bunch of sand loving idiots, they can handle starfighters pretty well.
Dinner that night was pretty quiet. Though that might have been because of how we were raised. Our father, before wither of us was born, was a war hero. And for his services, he was given status as a member of the Royal Family. I guess saving and befriending the Princess will do that. Its funny, now that I think about it. I remember how Mom and Dad met. They were actually trying to kill each other...how messed up is that? Anyway my dad, the war hero, was hated by the Gerudans because they were the ones who summoned my mother... Well, they tried to summon a demon but fouled that up good and proper. Instead of a single bound demon, the split the demon into various parts. My mother was called the "Dark Wings of Chaos." Anyway, we were raised as royalty. We weren't spoiled, we had to earn anything we got. And I think that might have helped us.
Dad died when I was eight. He had always taken care of us and, in the end, it cost him his life. The Gerudans, who were the enemy of the last war, really didn't like him much. He turned my mother against them. He died when a Gerudan cell attacked us in the night. Mom died about five years later. Klane` thinks it was from a broken heart. I think she just wanted to see Dad again. Maybe both of us are right...
Due to our, unique, heritage our own powers manifested when we turned eleven. Mom started us on training to control ourselves, but we only got the basics before she passed. It's been several years now and we both trained our powers ourselves. And while we can both use all the same abilities, Klane` specializes in casting magic. I specialize in physical strength and speed. The next two weeks would pass quickly and without incident. Then, things proved to be interesting indeed.
From the journals of Captain Sora Hyrin.
Sora and Klane` walked through the bazaar in downtown Hulle Granz, talking amicably about nothing in particular, the conversation changing from moment to moment. A nearby electronics store had a news report about the combat sortie from two weeks prior.
"You know, sis. I'm glad the military doesn't release our names to the press."
"Yea, I know. We get enough attention from being related to Aunt Zelda."
-Tonight on Frontline News, Project Frontier nears completion with the announcement that a sub-project, Project Far-Jumper, was finally finished and tested successfully. As launch day for the HNS Frontier rapidly approaches, we are led to wonder. How are the colonists for the trip being selected? Will ordinary people be on board or is this a military only flight? Only the coming days will tell and we at the Hylian News Network will keep you apprised of all the details.-
"I don't get it. One minute they call us warmongers, the next we're heroes. They really need to make up their minds."
"Well, how else will they get people to watch that bullshit they call news?"
A beeping sound from their phones interrupted them as a message scrolled across their screens. -REPORT TO CASTLEGUARD STATION IMMEDIATELY- As they looked up at each other, the siblings blinked and thought for a moment. "Hey sis...isn't that the station where Project Frontier is run from?" It only took another moment of thought for her to answer. "I think so. C'mon bro, lets get back to the strip. Castleguard is in orbit."
Compared to most orbital stations, Castleguard was rather small. And considering its location next to the Scaffold, it appeared absolutely tiny. Yet, it was the best sensor station around. As the two fighters set down in one of its three bays, a small group awaited them.
"Captains Sora and Klane` Hyrin, reporting as ordered, Sir."
"Follow me." Then the group turned and left the bay leaving the two wondering what was going on.
Despite the station's small size, traveling on foot still takes forever. Twenty minutes later, they were shown into a small, barely furnished office.
"Take a seat, you two. You're not in trouble."
"Sir, may I ask just why we are here?"
"Captains, you are here to be given new orders and assignments. Captain Sora Hyrin, you are to report in three days to the HNS Frontier as the lead pilot to the new Angel Squadron, which pilots the prototype VF-25 Messiah. Captain Klane` Hyrin, you are to report to the Commander Air Group at MoonBase Nayru as his replacement."
Klane` was the first to speak up. "Sir, we've always been stationed together. Why are we being separated." The station commander laughed.
"We are already in the process of building a second Frontier class vessel. When finished, it will travel as fast as possible to catch up to the Frontier.. It launches next year. As you fly an older model VF-4, you are going to be trained from the ground up on how to fly the VF-25. Since your brother flies the VF-19, which has a control setup almost identical to the new fighter, he was chosen to go on ahead. If you had both flown the 19, you'd both be going." The siblings both nodded. "The passenger list is already complete. They will begin boarding the day before launch. Be on your best behavior on board the Frontier, Sora. Princess Zelda will be on board for the first jump. The Frontier will then jump back to Kharak where Her Highness will disembark, and the ship will continue on mission. Dismissed." And with that, he left the office, leaving the two to their thoughts. Shortly after, they too left the office, making their way to the hangar. It was a slow, quiet trip and when they finally launched, neither know what to think.
"Sora...Will I see you again? Something is telling me that something bad is gonna happen." Klane`hadn't activated for video feed, so he couldn't see her face. "We'll see each other again, sis. Its only about a year or so." "I hope so. It's gonna be weird withour you around. Anyway, I'm gonna divert and report in. See you on launch day."
With that, Klane` rolled left and changed course. As the flames of re-entry enveloped her craft, Sora watched her until the flames were no longer visible. As he veered off towardes the scaffold, a light pain in his chest left him wondering if maybe she was right.
I reported in three days early, just like my sister. We didn't want to make it any worse for us. Now I'm sure by this point, people are wondering just what kind of relationship we had. We were close because we pretty much raised each other. Aunt Zelda wasn't around much due to always working on matters of state. And that was especially true now, what with preparing for launch day and all.
The next three days were hellish. Civilians everywhere, trying to get into everything. My new CAG was a complete Dick...with a capital D. He did everything in his power to make my life a living hell. If we didn't let him win in mock sorties, he gave us latrine duty. I swear to Nayru, Din, AND Farore that he is gonna get us killed.
The three days came and went, and I was finally introduced to my squadmates. Because we were flying prototypes, there was only four of us. I was given an armored version of the VF-25. Luca, my computer guy, had an AWACS version complete with spinning dome. Mikhail was my sniper. Instead of a standard gunpod like the rest of us had, he was issues a modifed laser gunpod. My last team member, Tio, used a high mobility version
Launch day day finally arrived...and with it, the end of life as we knew it. I never even suspected that the talk I had with my sister three days ago would be the last time I ever saw her alive.
From the Journals of Captain Sora Hyrin
"Frontier Control, this is Shuttle Victoria. Request escort and priority clearance."
"Shuttle Victoria, this is Angel Lead. Welcome to the HNS Frontier. My squad and I are now taking positions and will escort you in."
After a few more moments, a second, more familiar voice came on the radio. "Hello Sora, how is Frontier?"
"Hi Aunt Zelda. Frontier is nice, but nothing like home. How is Klane`?"
"She couldn't make it. She is doing well though."
As the formation flew on to the Frontier, the Ship itself was going through its final checks. The bridge was buzzing with activity as its crew run through hundreds of tests and simulations.
"Life support Online."
"Looks like the Primary systems are go, Commander." The commander nodded. "All that's left is the jump."
"It's a pity though." "What's that, Sir?" "I was hoping to get both Hyrin siblings off the bat." The crew, knowing of the two pilots, laughed. It was only a matter of minutes before the shuttle and its escort landed. Another twenty by land cruiser, brought Her Highness to the bridge.
"Welcome, Your Highness. We are ready to begin on your command."
"Open comms, Commander." As the order was carried out, the communication systems began broadcasting planetwide.
"My fellow Hylians. Today is a historic day for our people. Today, we set sail in the sea of stars and begin to expand our race to other worlds. We set out to search for new races and new homes. Today, the single largest vessel ever constructed, launches to perform a historic leap through space." Turning to the commander, she said, "Take us out. Start the count."
-All hands prepare for jump. Set condition two throughout the ship. All civilians are to remain indoors. All hands, prepare for jump.- As the jump clock counted down, the Frontier's massive engines flared to life, slowly pushing the behemoth away from the scaffold. People worldwide watched as the count neared zero. At zero, the hull crackled with lightning, then the ship vanished in a flash of light.
Travel by jump is strange. Its near instantaneous so you really shouldn't feel much. The problem is, it feels like being squeezed through a too-small tube. It's a very disorienting experience. I will admit that I tossed cookies my first jump...and my second...and my third. To this day I still get a bit queasy. Somehow my aunt managed to make it through alright... ok, she's a Goddess damned trooper. She took it like it was nothing. I remember getting and and looking outside thinking the stars were all wrong. Technically they weren't. We were on target about a hundred light-years from Kharak. There was only one problem. The Khar-Selim, a vessel with a short-range jump drive, was supposed to be waiting for us. It wasn't.
As the Frontier completed its jump, a flash of light followed by lightning across the hull, silence and the darkness of space greeted it. "Jump Complete. We are on target."
"This is the HNS Frontier calling the Khar-Selim. Come in, Khar-Selim. Jump Complete."
Silence filled the radio like a bad dream. As they repeated the call, the Khar-Selim's emergency beacon popped up on sensors. "Sir, I'm getting the beacon but no response to hails. Perhaps their comms are down. It did take them over a year to get here." The commander nodded. "Send out Vermillion Flight to check up on them."
As this wasn't a scramble, the deck crews weren't rushing to get planes airborne. And while they did hurry to do so, they were able to make sure each one was armed and ready. The civilians near the hangarcould hear as the first craft was launched.
-APU active, Vermillion One, standby. Standby for Fast-pack ignition. Catapult is green. Vermillion One clear for launch.-
-Vermillion One, Launching.-
The sounds of turbines spooling, the roar of the engines, and the crack of the catapults throwing the fighters forward filled the hangar. And, once in space, they all adjusted course, heading for the beacon. It wasn't a long flight by any means, and was over far too soon. The sight that met them left them all reeling, and it took a few moments for the pilots to recover enough to try and report in.
"Vermillion One to Frontier. It pains me to say we have found what is left of the Khar-Selim. Heavy weapons damage is visible all over the hull. It also looks like they were boarded...Wait..." The next instant would also be his last, as when he saw the radar contact it was already firing. "Vermillion Three to Frontier, we are under attack by unknown fighter and corvette class vessels. Requesting assistance."
-Battle Stations...Battle Stations. All hands to Battle Stations. Set condition one throughout the ship.-
Alarms sounded as personnel scrambled to bring the massive ships weapons online. In the hangar, all remaining craft, including Angel Squadron's VF-25's, were prepped and launched. As the ship approached combat readiness, secondary power grids came online with a low hum.
"Rail Batteries one through twenty, locked and loaded."
"Valiant batteries one through eight, ready."
"Missile batteries, primed and ready."
"Heavy PBC batteries, online."
"Triple-ay online and tracking."
"Main gun charging. Four-Five percent and climbing."
"All birds airborne."
Sora piloted his new craft cautiously as it was supposed to be much more manueverable than the old VF-19 he was used to. -Angel One, this is Frontier Control. You are now CAG. Vermillion One and Two are down.- 'Aw hell...' Switching his IFF over to broadcast his new status, he opened wideband comms to all fighters. "Angel One to all fighters. I am taking field command." As all the pilots acknowledged, he hit the afterburners and pulled back hard just as tracers of some kind flew past his canopy. Rolling hard right, he dove towards the Khar-Selim then switched to GERWALK. Asa the leg thrusters threw him upwards, the gunpod swung down and fired. The rounds tore through the hull and the craft exploded.
"Angel One, Splash one."
Soon the battle began in earnest. Craft of all types dipped, spun, twirled, and danced in tha deadly waltz where a wrong move would be fatal. Slowly though, the enemy was being pushed back.
"Area clear, Commander. Fighters are RTB."
"Launch a Jump-drone to Kharak. Tell them to prep for possible hostile contact. How long until we can jump again?"
"Another hour, Sir. We overloaded one of the spooling mechanisms for the FTL with the first jump."
"Let the pilots know to stand ready. We may have to defend Kharak."
I'll never forget that day. Hehe. History was made alright...all the wrong kind. The sights that awaited us still give me nightmares, though after a time they were few and far between. Married life helps with that. And it wasn't the actual sights that did it. It was what they meant. Home was gone. And so was everything else...
-Jump in two minutes. All hands, prepare for jump.- Fighters, personnel, and civilians all started locking down equipment and personal belongings as the warning sirens rang loudly. Down in the hangar, Sora sat in the cockpit of his fighter. As he listened to the count, he prayed to the goddesses that Kharak was there...that Klane` was there.
-Ten...nine...eight...seven...-'Goddess Nayru, protect us.'-Two...one...JUMP-
Sora immediately felt the tube-like sensation; and as reality snapped back into place, he immediately lost it over the side of his cockpit. Regaining his composure, he switched the radio on...only to hear nothing. Even the civilian channels were dead silent.
-This is the HNS Frontier, calling any vessel in range. Please respond. Repeat, This is the Frontier to any comm in range. Respond.- "This is Frontier Control. Kharak is a burning fireball. We are getting no comms from anywhere...not even beacons." Sora picked up a quiet squawk and adjusted his receiver. As the noise came in clearer, he turned it up.
"Control, this is Angel One. I'm picking up a squawk...its real quiet, like a fighter beacon."
"Angel Squadron, you are clear to launch. Locate that beacon. It may hold the answers as to what happened here."
Maybe it was just the urgency of the situation, but it seemed to Sora like the catapult force was a lot harder than before. As he exited the launch tube, the sight before him was burned into his mind. Parts of Kharak had already cooled and shone brightly like glass. "Sweet, merciful Din..." "Hey Cap, if I remember right... Din was neither sweet not merciful." "Shut up, Luca and keep your eyes peeled."
It didn't take long to pick up the beacon again, but it did take a while to get to it. High orbit around Kharak was filled with debris and burned out hulls, including some of types he had never seen before. "Looks like we put up a hell of a fight, Control. Wreckage here isn't all ours...and there's a lot of it." "Any sign of the beacon?" Checking his sensors again he found it was right below him. A closer inspection revealed a still burning battlestar by the name of FARORE'S WIND. The beacon wasn't that ships though, it was coming from the port side hangar...or what was left of it.
"Control, we found the source's location. Battlestar FARORE'S WIND. Its coming from what's left of the port-side hangar. Luca, Mikhail. Wait here. Tio, stay close. GERWALK is authorized." Closing on the bay, he slowed and landed on the deck, walking the mech through the wreckage. It didn't take long to find the beacon...but now he was wishing he hadn't. The hangar had no air inside, and he stood next to another mech. The shattered canopy and face mask showed the pilot was dead. But, what caught his eye was the name stenciled to the side...CPT KLANE` HYRIN - "TENSHI". Gingerly, he grabbed the fighter, and made his way back to base. He wasa silent the whole way.
I think it was the shock. At least, that's what the doc tells me. They had pulled me off the flight rotations almost immediately after I landed. Hell, I don't remember landing. The only thing I could really process was that my sister was dead and I was now completely alone. Frontier remained above Kharak for two weeks, salvaging what it could from the wreckage in orbit. My earlier comment of putting up a fight was more accurate then I thought. Judging from pieces of recording and logs, the enemy had arrived with a fleet of about a hundred cruiser class ships. We had about twenty, plus another three hundred fighters or they caught us by surprise, we actually took down half of them before we lost Kharak. Turns out my sister lead the assault that damaged the flagship. Then when she was re-arming, a nuke hit the hull. Her canopy wasn't shattered, the force of the blast tore it clean off and smashed in her mask. She died of suffocation, but at least she wasn't conscious for it. She died peacefully.
The next two or three months passed uneventfully. We jumped every three days, CAP was launched, and we started to settle into our new home. Turns out that command was tracking the fleet that laid waste to our homeworld. Our journey had begun, and none would stand in our way.
*Please read and review! I can never improve without both positive and negative feedback. Flames however...will be used to roast marshmallows.