"I believe that when we leave a place, part of it goes with us, and part of us remains. Go anywhere in the Station, when it is quiet, and just listen. After a while, you will hear the echoes of all our conversations – every thought and word we've exchanged. Long after we are gone, our voices will linger in these walls." – Citizen G'Kar, Babylon 5, 2262.
Chapter 1: Hope reborn.
December 28th 2285
In the Mars-Jupiter Asteroid Belt, it is uncommon for vessels to be seen travelling at high speeds, but, this is an unusual situation. Flight Lieutenant Mac Thompson and the other eleven members of E.A.S. Maryland's Alpha Squadron were deployed over half an hour ago from their mother ship, currently stationed at IO, to respond to a distress call from the Earth Force transport "Hercules", which had been damaged and was lost in the Asteroid Belt.
Now, Alpha Squadron is flying at high speeds through the hazardous region of space they find themselves occupying, either dodging the giant asteroids or destroying them altogether with their plasma cannons. Alpha Lead has a head-way on the rest of the Squadron by about half a kilometre, trying to keep a lock on his fellow pilots while still paying attention to any threats to them that may linger ahead of him.
"Alright, guys. We're almost through the worst of it. Let's form back up," the lieutenant calls over the comm. line, noting no answer after several seconds. "Guys?"
He glances at the holographic HUD on the screen of his cockpit canopy, which showed, among many other things, that his comm. link to the rest of Alpha Squadron was still open. He turned his head around to try and see behind him. The site he gazed upon would terrify him to no end.
The lieutenant's eyes open into near circles as his jaw hangs at the site behind him. A bright pink energy beam slices through his squadron, people he'd called 'friends' for the better part of three years now. While some of the Lightning-Class Starfury Interceptors manage to dodge the initial attack, it proves futile as their unknown attacker finishes four of them off with frightening ease, while the rest just crash into other nearby asteroids.
The attacking vessel comes into Mac's view; a ship with a hull so black he had to focus to keep his eyes from slipping from it. It had menacing-looking spikes protruding from a central body, forming a series of X-shapes running down this monster. Its bow was in a shape that Mac would almost call a 'mouth'. It glided past him, passing over his canopy, with an unnatural grace. As it passed, Mac's mind splintered as he heard an earth-shattering scream echo throughout it's already distressed interior – a sound that could only be described as 'the sound of hell calling out'. After a few moments, the ship shimmered from view.
Mac's mind had been so centred on this monstrous ship, and the fighters it had destroyed, that he was oblivious to the repeating Collision Alarm resounding through his helmet and the Cockpit. When he finally directs his attention back to his instruments, he executes a hard right turn, rotating his fighter 90-degrees both downward and to the left, before hitting his main thrusters to try and dodge the massive asteroid that had crept into his path. This proved futile, as the port-dorsal thrusters collided with the crest of the rock, sending the fighter out of control.
January 7th 2290, Epsilon Eridani Star System, Epsilon 3 Orbit.
Captain Mac Thompson looks out the shuttle viewport, anxiously. Earth Force acknowledge the less 'Military' duty of the new Babylon Station, so they didn't have a problem with him wearing the Earth Force 'Explorer' issue black uniform. He's wearing the newly defined 'Senior Officer' red undershirt beneath it, with his right shoulder bearing a mission patch: the yellow number six with a gap between the 'tail' and the joining end of the 'loop', with the word 'Babylon' displayed above it. His shoulders bare the rank insignia of 'Captain', with the left breast of the uniform jacket wearing the metal Earth Alliance insignia. His hair is a dark brown, matching his eyes.
Outside the shuttle, Captain Thompson sees the newly completed 'Babylon 6' fall into view. The station is 6.4 miles long, not including the Zero-G docking and energy generation section, which extended it to 7.2 miles in length. The habitat section of the station rotated at 60 mph to generate the Earth-equivalent gravity that the inhabitants would require. It was mainly a light metallic silver/grey, with an almost chequered yellow pattern of markings.
'Gold Sector', the only part of the station that didn't rotate since it would be unmanned most of the time, consisted of two fork-like structures, leading into the Zero-G Docking Bays, forming into a long gantry-like structure wrapping around the habitat section at three points, with two large solar-collector arrays mounted either side, perpendicular to the Zero-G Bays.
"Wow," was the only word that Mac could utter at the site of what has been called 'the Galaxy's final chance at peace'. Though the Interstellar Alliance had done a fantastic job, things have been tough lately with border disputes and economic troubles among many of the members. The idea is that by giving them a fully neutral ground, they'll be able to resolve their differences without violence, and it doesn't hurt to have another free-port to fuel Earth-Dome's pockets.
"Do you want to make another pass, Mac?" Mac turned to see the face of his First Officer; Commander Michael Drake, sitting next to him. The Commander's uniform was identical to Captain Thompson's; with the exception that Michael's had the commander-level rank insignia instead of the captain-level rank insignia. He sported a lighter shade of brown hair than Mac's, with light, ice-blue eyes.
"Nah!" was Mac's jovial reply, "let's take her in."
The pair of military officers stepped through into the Custom's Lobby, which was still being furnished. The walls were cool, matt silver with a blue light strip going along at middle height.
"I guess 'fully constructed' doesn't equate 'fully operational'," was Drake's reaction to the, frankly, chaotic state of the lobby, as they walk through toward the transport tube.
"It'll only take another day or two... hopefully..." Mac chimes in, with a cautious tone in his voice.
The two soon enter the square-floored transport tube, similar to the walls of the corridor outside but with light tubes in each corner running up the length of the walls. Mac soon requests that the tube take them to 'Blue 5, C&C', watching as the lights glow blue and the tube motors begin humming. After a few moments, the tube comes to a halt and the doors slide open into a corridor running perpendicularly with the tube, with the doorway to 'Command and Control' lying directly ahead. Mac and Michael cross the corridor, stopping while Mac inserts his 'Identi-card' into the door lock, before a cheerful tone is chirped out and a green light turns on above the card slot. The door to C&C slides open, incredibly quietly, and the pair cross the threshold, glancing back briefly as the door closes again behind them.
The Command Deck was spacious, with a circular sub-level below the main command area, accessed by a small set of steps either side of a railed bridge allowing quick access from the corridor outside to the primary command console at the base of the panoramic observation window.
The Operations sub-level was occupied mainly by computer consoles, controlling Life-Support, Rotation, Environment, Communication (with separate consoles for Internal, Inter-Ship, and Inter-Stellar communications), scanners, and almost a dozen observer and operator consoles for the Defence Grid.
This was one of two of B6's 'Observation Domes'. The second was on the opposite side of the station, 'below' the docking bays (if we assume that the first was 'above' the bays), and was only used in emergencies. It served as a back-up in case C&C was disabled in an attack.
Across the Command Deck, staring out into the stars – which is pretty hard if you consider that the stars are moving past at roughly 60 miles per hour – is the station's 'Fleet Logistics Officer'; Commander Zoe Forest. She's wearing the standard Earth Force blue-and-brown leather uniform, with the appropriate rank insignia and mission patch. Her dark blonde hair is coming to just above her shoulders.
Mac just waits there looking at her, remembering back to five years ago, when an Ensign Zoe Forest was the first face he saw after the Military Transport she was serving on rescued him after his fighter had been damaged and he blacked out. He comes back to the present for a moment and walks to right beside her, catching her attention as he leans on the command console to meet her gaze.
"You cut your hair," was the first word out of Mac's mouth, half flirting, though he hadn't meant to.
"Glad you noticed," Commander Forest replied, smiling at him.
"How long's it been? A year?"
"Try six months!" Zoe just lets out as she laughs at the question.
"Only six months?" he asks, as Zoe just gives a short, playful, nod, "Wow. Where doesn't the time go?"
"Don't know, but I can tell you where it does go," she says, nodding her head to the observation port to her right, "out there."
"Yeah, guess so. What's our situation, Commander?"
"We're almost fully operational. Once Maintenance finishes putting the chairs down, we'll be ready to go."
"Great. Well, when President Delenn asked me to come and take Command of Babylon 6, she told me that I had no idea what I was getting myself into. But, if every day on the job is as easy as this-"
He's interrupted when the station shudders. He looks out the observation window to see that a Narn Transport exploded on approach.
"You had to say it!" was the cynical response from Commander Drake, as they look out at the green and grey debris floating past.
*Part of an ongoing "series" hopefully.
*I have designed a rough idea for the look of the "Lightning" Starfury, but I won't post the link to it here. It is in my profile though.
*Now, before anyone goes "Sleeping in light", if it bothers you that much, this fic is set in an AU.
*The ship at the beginning *SPOILER*, as you may have guessed, is based on the same ship from Crusade, which destroyed the E.A.S. Cerberus. JMS always intended for that ship to lead back to Earth, so I consider this my way of trying to "finish what he started".
*Stay Tuned! There is more to come!