Our Last Defense

Part 1

I looked up at the stars in wonder, how amazing the galaxy is. Just then I heard dad call to me.

"Smith, come here."

"What Dad?"

My dad was a tall man. He was also my hero. He wore his uniform with pride and honor. I thought while I ran to his arms that I have the best dad on the planet.

"Smith, I have to tell you something. You see that moving star?"

I looked to were he was pointing and saw a bright shinning star, which was moving pretty slow.

"Yes dad. What is it?"

"It's the Marina, My ship."

I starred in awe by it. I had seen pictures of it in combat but never saw it close, and in person.

"One day my boy, you will do great things and possible take that ship into battle and win."

All ready I could not wait, I wanted to fly it. Be my own boss, lead the crew into the heart of war and come out victories. Maybe one day soon I will see it in person. Maybe just maybe.

12 Years later

"HAPPY BIRTHDAY SMITH!"

It was my 18th birthday. Today was special to me, Family and friends all around.

"Finally 18 little brother, it's about damn time."

"It feels good."

The party was going on for hours and still going. My best friend Jon Turner was still trying to get a date with Kate Ford but I knew it would take a long time to get him to finally go up and ask her. My brother was talking to the General and my mother, of course. My sister was flirting with all the guys at the party, and the food was perfect.

I walked over to Jon, just hoping to strike up a conversation, and maybe convince him to ask Kate out.

"What's wrong Jon, to chicken to ask her out?"

"Come on Smith; give me a break, besides I doubt she would even like me in return."

"You never know if you don't try, and she has known you for several years now. You can't even talk to her without losing all train of thought or stumbling over your own words."

"Come on Smith that's not far, I can't do any of that cause she is so beautiful and I'm nothing more than a low life idiot. I'm not Captain of the football team or a star Picher in baseball, or leader of any team for that, I'm nothing."

I could understand that. Being nothing really hurt, and it was even worse when the girls thought that way to, but I knew Kate was not one of those girls. She was a different type of person, one who really cared for people, people like Jon and I. it was nice and I knew one day Jon would see it.

I had known Jon since fourth grade, he was being picked on by a bunch of fifth graders and I did not take to kindly to that, I got into a fight with them and since then Jon and I where thick as thieves. It was getting close to the end of our high school career and I wanted Jon to go out with Kate before someone else asked her.

"Well if you don't ask her now someone else will and I don't want you to be hurt like that."

"Thanks Smith, I will ask her, just not now."

I left Jon to his thoughts and walked around the party again. A lot of people had come but there were still some missing, my eldest brother and my father.

My Dad and brother were not here yet. They have been fighting a war outside our galaxy. We were at war with the Drinia. A high breed race that we stumbled upon. We have been fighting for about 40 years now and it was getting worse, but our troops were strong so we were safe.

About half way through the party I heard a knock on the door.

"Mom! Can you get that?"

My mother got the door and I saw who it was. Sgt. Dan Strikes, My oldest brother. He was holding something in his hands but I could not tell what it was.

I was just about to go run into his arms to give him a hug when I saw the look on my moms face. She started to sit in the chair behind her and start to cry. I guessed what made her do that. I was praying that I was wrong.

Dan walked over to me. I saw my dad in his shoes. Tall, proud, and confident. He got closer to me and I could feel tears come to my eyes, but I was fighting hard to hold them back, until he was standing right in front of me.

"Brothers… Sister… its hard for me to say this but the Marina… was brought down. Dads dead. He left you this Smith."

He handed me dad's metals as well as the title and docking number to the Marina.

"Dads flag ship? Why?"

"Well when you get your wing the military plans to put you on the marina. No questions asked. It was in both dads and Admiral Jackson's will.'

I sat down hoping to find comfort in the chair. I found nothing, not even from the hands that pat my back and said it will all be good.

I was hoping that dad would be giving me this himself, not my oldest brother. I would never let this go, never.

12 years later

"Admiral Strikes. Please report to the bridge immediately."

I disliked morning calls. But it was part of the job. I rushed off to the bridge having to dodge solders and salute each one of them. I ran into one that always stopped me in my tracks.

"Admiral Sir!"

It was always the same corporal.

"Good day sir. I hope your sleep was well."

"It was good thank you for asking. Any reports, from the Romeo or Golden girl?"

Two ships, which I had sent on scouting trips.

"No sir. Not that I know of. I suspect that they will check in soon."

"Thank you. Well I must be off."

"Yes Sir."

I returned to my first call which was making it to the bridge before Kristina had fit and started sending troops out to look for me.

"Good Day sir"

Kristina was an A.I. she belonged to the ship and she had fought in many battles alongside my dad. I was more than happy to fight with her at the controls.

"Good Day Kristina. Any reports from the two ships I sent out?"

"No sir. They were supposed to call in 5 hours ago."

"What about Earth?"

"There was one but it was a personal call. For you."

"Put it on the main screen."

"Yes sir."

A girl with dark blond hair came into view. She had green eyes that I was just in love with. Her skin had not even been touched by time. She was beautiful.

"Hey honey. I miss you. I hope you are alright because I know the sky is a hard life sometimes. I know I can't talk long. I only wish I had the time to tell you all that's been going on. Jamie is getting bigger you would not even recognize her. In fact say hi Jamie."

Another cute girl no more than 4 showed up on the screen waving her little hand into the monitor.

"Hi daddy. I want to show you something."

She smiled and pointed to a small gap in her teeth. She had lost a tooth and I could tell she was happy about it.

"I lost a tooth."

"Its time to go sweet heart."

"Ok. Say hi to Uncle Dan and Kristina for me daddy. Bye bye."

"Bye Smith. Please be careful."

End of transmission.

I sat back into my chair. I was thinking of how much I was missing. My little girl was growing up.

"She's getting older Kristina. Soon she will be old enough to know why her dad can't be around for her all the time."

"I'm pretty sure that she will know you are doing your job to protect her. What do you want her to do?"

"Well I want someone to take the Marina off my hands. That's why I wanted a boy but I have a beautiful girl instead and I'm just as happy."

"She will be a great leader and fighter sir."

"I hope not Kristina, I truly hope not."'

"Why not?"

"I don't want my daughter in the war, I want her far from it, this is no life I want for her."

In the coming days I was ordered to leave our galaxy to find a new planet. Our planet was getting close to the end of its years. Our galaxy's sun was dying. It was my job to find new homes, new life, and new world. So we were sent out to a galaxy about 3 suns away. It would take us 3 to 7 months on earth.

"Kristina set a course for X-95 Beta."

"Yes sir, ALL HANDS, TO YOUR STATIONS, SET CORSE FOR X-95 BETA.

Back on earth

"Commander, the Marina is away."

"Good. Any signs from the colony chip Destoria?"

"No sir. We will pull up the long range sincere."

After about an hour of waiting a long range sincere picked up a small and weak signal. A man came on the screen for a short moment and then again.

"Hold that image. Who is that?"

"I think it's the transmission from the Destoria sir. Should we play it?"

"Yes."

"This is the Captain of the Destoria. We have been attacked by the Drinia. We found a perfect planet but we had little idea that Drinia were here before us. Once we landed we did the proper colonization and set up three bases. Two military outposts and one town. We were solid for about 2 months until we started to get Drinia sightings.

"Our first sighting was nothing more than a few simple tracks. We thought little of it. I mean we put more guards out of course but we did nothing else because they were about 2 – 3 days old.

"They just ran right through. The second sighting was an actual encounter. One of our small scouting teams ran into them. He asked to engage and of course I gave him the go ahead. He killed them in no time. He told me that they were scouts to."

"The last sighting was an attack on one of our military outposts. It was a frontal attack so the soldiers were ordered to retreat. They tried to make it to the town but were killed along the way."

"The Drinia attacked the town next and killed all the civilians there. They did not even spare the young or old. They just slaughtered them like pigs. Then the Drinia attack were the ship was. We had to call for a full retreat."

"Once the troops where all on we took off, well little did we know that there was an entire fleet waiting for us right as we hit the planet's atmosphere."

"We were under heavy attack. We ordered the ships A.I. to send a message to home cause we knew that hope for us was pointless. I also put a picture of the fleet that attacked us. One last thing…"

"Sir we have boarding parties. Orders?"

"Ok prepare all troops to fight."

"Yes sir."

"One last thing, tell my family I tried…. This is Capt. Jack Strike's last log, signing off."

"That's the end of the message sir."

"Hmm."

"Sir, what do we do next? Do we go after the Drinia and see what happened?"

The commander had a lost look. Not only did he lose good men but he also lost a lot of people. He was hurt by it.

"No. I want a full scan of our system."

"Yes sir."

Once the scan was done there was a Drinia flight cruiser. It had just entered the system and was just past the moon. She was all alone so it would be easy for a ship to take it down. But what was not good was that they had found Earth, we had remained hidden from them for a long time now we were in the fight

"Where are our flag ships?"

"Our flag ships? Well the Marina is out of reach to help. The Zion and Nova are under repair. The only one that we have is also our smallest one. The marina's sister, the Ariel."

"Get me the admiral. NOW!"

"Yes sir."

Aboard the Ariel

"This is the admiral of the Ariel. Go ahead command."

"Admiral we have an enemy cruiser in our system. We want you to engage and destroy it."

"Sir, do we have any help from the other flag ships?"

"No you will not."

"But sir, what about the Zion or the Nova, better yet call the Marina. I'm sure our sister ship will answer."

"I'm Sorry but both Zion and Nova are under Repairs, and the Marina has been ordered to escort a number of transport ships to a new star system. You're on your own."

"Yes sir. Arial out. Damn it. I hate it when I'm ordered to do all the heavy work. Just because I'm a girl does not give them any reason to treat me like maid. I mean I'm Smith's sister and I'm the daughter of the great Admiral David Strikes. The death star, they need to give me more credit."

"Mam what are your orders?"

"All men to stations. We have a battle to fight."

"Yes mam. ALL MEN TO BATTLE STATIONS!"

"While you're at it send a message to the Marina. Tell her our situation."

It did not take long for the Arial to get into firing range. The only thing that was wrong was the fact that the Drinia cruiser was not sending any small boarding vessels.

The fight was underway. The Arial struck first and lord o' mighty it was a grand shot. The big guns of the Arial hit the main deck. Even though she was small she packed a punch. The Drinia ship was crippled but something was still wrong. No heavy gun fire, no missiles, nothing.

"Admiral, the ship, it's doing nothing. What do we do?"

"This is not right."

All of a sudden an alarm went off and it seemed like all hell was breaking lose.

"What's that?"

"I don't know mam. Give me a few seconds to see… umm Mam long range sensors are picking up a fleet and it's not ours."

Just then the dead ship came to life and blasted the Arial in her gut. She was in deep trouble.

"Damn… get us to hyper drive now."

"Yes mam. Where to?"

"To the Marina. We are in no condition to help earth at the moment. We need to get out of here."

"What about command?"

"Send them a transmission to where we are going."

"Yes mam."

"This will be a fight I don't want to be a part of."

Back on earth

"Sir the Arial has left the system."

"Is she damaged?"

"Not badly sir. Her hall has been struck and her left engine was hit pretty badly. But she'll make it to the Marina."

"Ok how about us? Is the Zion and the Nova mobile yet? We need our flag ships to lead our ships into battle."

"Sir the Zion is mobile but the second she got airborne she was in combat. Nova is still grounded."

"Sir, they are sending large landing ships. We are in bound for a big fight."

"At what areas of the globe are they hitting?"

"They have about 20 inbound for North America, half of that to south America. About 30 are going for Asia, 7 for Europe, 5 for Australia, and 15 for Africa."

"What is our ground status?"

"Already out and ready to defend."

"SIR, 3 cruisers have landed and they are all war parties."

"God help our boys."

Back on the Marina

"Kristina any word from earth?"

"No sir. Not since our sister sent us that transmission."

"Damn it!"

I slammed my fist into the console and started to curse under my breath.

"Sir?"

"I should be back home, helping out, not babysitting this."

"Sir, incoming transmission from command."

"Put it on."

"This is command to the Marina. I'm sorry I can't talk in person but we are limited on what we can do here. We have been engaged by the full race of the Drinia. We have belief that they sent out there hive to fight us. You are ordered to stay on course to X-95. Smith please don't come back. You are now the future. Your sister is on her way to meet you. Pick her up and go. Smith I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news but your brother Capt. Jack Strikes. He is dead. I'm sorry. This is command signing off."

"Sir what are we to do?"

I remained silent for a long time. The thought of my brother dead was unbearable to me. A true hero, friend, and brother dead. A man the Drinia feared. Now he is dead. My mind was now on Dan my oldest brother the Major General of the ground troops. If he was killed all hope would be lost for earth. He was the one men would talk about in camps. He was the hero every young boy wanted to be other than a Phoenix.

My mind went to the thing that mattered the most to me now. My family, they lived on earth. I could not run from this. I needed to go back and fight for them. I was not going to let them be killed or worse taken for slavery. If that happened I would not forgive myself.

"Sir?"

"We are going back."

"But sir, our orders were to stay on course."

"Kristina, my family is still back there. My wife and my daughter, we're going back. THAT IS AN ORDER!"

I was mad, but something made me lighten up. It was Kristina smiling at me.

"Sir, I'm more than willing to go back for that reason."

"Thank you. Put me on the com link to the other ships."

"Yes sir… you are on."

I took ahold of the microphone as I thought of what to say. I could only think of why I would ask them to go back and get killed. I would have to keep that silent but find a reason for them to want to return.

"This is the Admiral speaking. We are going back home. Command wants us to stay the course. But I know you all have family back home. I have a family back home. I am not about to abandon them to a bunch of damned beasts from another world. We are going to turn around to help the Arial and then join the battle for my home… your home… our home, I don't expect you all to want to go back, and I will not lie to you, if we go back we all might die. That's a risk we should be willing to take for our daughters, sons, wives, husbands, brothers, and sisters. We are going back to earth and we are joining the fight."

After that we made our way to the Arial. She was in bad shape. By the looks of it she had blown out her engines just getting here. Her hall was open and you could see dauber fling out of it.

"Kristina get me a signal."

"Yes sir…. There is a weak signal but I can patch you through to it."

"Good go ahead and do it."

"You are patched through."

"This is the Admiral of the Marina. Anyone aboard please resound."

"This is Admiral Jackson go ahead."

"Good to hear from you, how you holding up sis?"

"I could be better Smith. We can't move nor fight with our heavy guns."

"Well, you won't have to."

"What was that Smith?"

"My ship and all my battle ships are going back to earth to join the fight."

"Smith no. we have to go."

"Sorry Sarah. I'm going back. I have a family back there and I'm not leaving them."

"Smith I want my family too, but we both have to think about the human race."

"There are some colony ships that are still in route for X-95. You will be joining them."

"So be it Smith. Go get killed. You will get nothing done."

"I aim to try. Good bye Sarah."

Back on earth

Major General's Log

We held them for small amounts of time. It was no use. If anything it bought us time to get civilian's out of here. I was hoping that help might come. I know that the Marina will come back. But I know that the Ariel will not return. She was done. My sister looks at the odds to much; she misses the fact that this is earth. Her husband is still here. He is under my command. Then again she would leave her family behind to save her own skin.

I just hope that we get help from the solders with the Marina. They are called Phoenixes. Lord knows we need those birds here now.

Looking up from my log at the long sited battle, I left the comfort of my tent to join my men, with a rifle in hand I walked to the rally them.

"Hold the line boys. Well stop them here."

It seemed like all hell broke loose on the men today. I said we would stop them but every time I said that, we were forced to run. Nothing has gone according to plan. I pray and pray for something to go right, but nothing ever does.

"How are we with medical supplies?"

"We are low but I'm sure… IN COMING!"

A blast from a cannon hit just behind us. They were getting too close to our wounded. I could not let more people suffer. We had to get them out.

"That was a close one sir. We need more time to get them out of here. Can you give us that?"

"I will try. I'm sure we can do something to buy you time."

"Thank you, sir."

I walked away to be alone for a minute. I needed time to think. I was losing a war that I did not have the troops or the power to fight with. I found a small piece of ground that had not been touched by war. I sat and prayed.

"Lord I know that I don't deserve to be heard, but if you can hear me. Please give my men strength to fight on. Give them hope because we all need it right now. We are all lost and hurt. Please help. Lord one more thing if my brother is still out there please send him quick."

It was funny to me I used to not believe in god, but I guess that changes a mind of a soldier who looks for other openings and advantages for his troops.

I got up and left before I left I put a dog tag there. It was a solder I fought with on the field. I tried to get him a medic but I was too late. So I thought I would give the man some peaceful ground to call his grave. I looked back and I knew that god would not help me. I just needed something to believe in.

"Sir they are advancing."

"Damn. Hold them back if we can. We need to give the medics time to pull the wounded and civilians out."

"Yes sir. OK MEN ON ME!"

"Give them Hell boys."

A Humvee pulled up and by the looks of it I knew that it was from command. I was not going to like it.

"Sir Command wants you back at the F.O.B. now."

"Damn… alright Capt. Can you handle the area without me?"

"I can handle it sir."

"Alright, take me out."

Driving back to the base took an hour. In that hour I was thinking, my men are dying and quickly losing ground. At the same time I was thinking about my brother and sister. I knew that Jack was killed so I could not think of him. I was thinking of Smith and Sarah and what would happen if they were killed to. What would I do? Who would I look after? Life would not be the same.

"Sir welcome back."

"Thank you. Where do I go?"

"Command wants to see you in the operations tent."

It took me about 10 mins. In that time I thought about how close the enemy was to this base. It would not be soon till the Drinia start breaking down the doors of this base.

"Ah Dan come in."

"You wanted to see me?"

"Yes. We need to know how things at the front are."

"Well ok."

I looked at a map. And thought about all the points we lost. I pointed at areas that we were at but lost.

"Here, here and here is what we lost. We have been pushed back several clicks back."

"Hmm…not good then, I'm guessing that wounded are high?"

"Yes sir."

"Well we called you in to hear this as well. Alright Admiral you can talk."

A voice that I knew oh so well came over the mic. I was happy to hear it.

Aboard the Marina

"This is Admiral Smith of the Marina. I have heavy fire power. Request permission to join the fight?"

I looked at the microphone hoping that they would just say go ahead and join. But I knew that there would be conflict because I disobeyed a direct order. Instead of going with the colony ship and help with the new world, new colony, new life thing I was back here helping out with the fight.

"Admiral you know that you are very close to being court marshaled? I could have your head on a silver platter right now."

"I know sir but…"

"It's good to have you back Smith."

"Thanks sir. What do you need?"

"I need to know your states right now."

"I have 30 light gunships, 20 battle cruisers, 4 heavy bombers, hundreds of fighter's, and the Marina."

"How about troop count?"

"I have about 10 to 12 Phoenix squad's prepping to drop now, more than 500,000 ground solder's and about three times that number in air solders."

"Ok. Punch a hole in those God Damned creatures. NOW!"

"Yes sir."

"Ok Kristina you heard the man. Hit them hard."

I got up and was walking away to the elevator.

"Were you going?"

"I'm going to join the fight on the ground. I'm a solder not a flier. Take over Kristina."

I saluted her as the doors slide shut. War was so close but at the same time so far. I could not wait to be back on ground. I needed to be on the ground. If my family was in the ship I would be fighting onboard not down there. I also needed to get to the lower bunks before the drop. I needed to talk to an old friend.

Getting to the bunks was hell. People running past not knowing who I was, it was boot camp all over again. It took me about 1 hour just to reach the entry of the bunks.

I made it just before the launch was under way. I was also in time for an old friend to say hi.

"Well look who it is! Ha ha ha, Admiral Strikes."

"Hi Gunny."

He was a big man. Not the just tall but also in size. He was 6 feet tall and about as solid as a concrete wall. He was always the one with the biggest heart. He loved and cared for his phoenixes that he called his children.

"So what are doing here in the phoenix area?"

"I thought I would join the fight on the ground."

"You thought?"

"Yah you know, stretch my legs a little, have a few drinks, who knows what else."

"Well sir if you want to join we still have that extra phoenix amour in the back."

"I would love it."

"Ok sir. Ok lady's we are leaving in 10 minutes."

Solders started to rush off into their pods. They knew what time it was, it was time to go into hell.

"Hey Gunny, Can I ask you something?"

"Sure Smith, what do you want?"

"I need you to send a team on a special mission."

"A special mission, Let me guess your family?"

"Yes, I need a small team to go in and do that."

"You do know that your family is behind enemy lines right? The chance of them being alive is very slim."

"I know. Just do it, please."

"Ok I will gather my squad leaders and see who will volunteer."

After so I went to the area were extra armor was kept. I would not to go to war in any other peace. It had a medium defiance against plasma and direct assault damage. It was black and blood red coloring. It had one long blade across the back. I was ready for a good fight in the armor that was meant to for me.

In the bunks

Gunny walked into the room with a stone look on his face. Nothing seemed to scare him. It was a look that the elite solders called phoenixes were used to.

"Alright, everyone listen up. I need all the squad leaders to come with me."

He walked out of the room with a stride of confidence. He knew who would take the job but he wanted to make sure of it.

One by one 7 phoenix leaders walked into the briefing room. Each one held some sort of respect to their walk. But one held his head higher than others, walked with different stride, almost as if he was carrying a big burden.

"Alright I don't need to tell you much of what 6 of you will be doing but 1 of you just 1 will be in a completely different area. You will be behind the enemy lines. You will be going after Admiral Strike's family. They are out there somewhere. Your job will be to find them and bring them home safe and sound."

"Sir how many people are we going after?"

"Only two, Jen is a 28 to 29 year old female, dark blonde hair with green eyes, about 5'5 and weight around 139. Jamie is a 4 year old girl, same color hair and eyes, I'm not sure on the height or weight."

"So we are to drop into hell and search for two civilians, that we have no idea where at or if they are even still alive, is that correct?"

"Yes that is, so who will volunteer?"

No one raised their hands not one.

"Sir this is stupid. No one is going to risk solders that are too important to the war, No one."

"Sir I will."

Everyone looked at the entrance. A lone man stood there looking at the rest of the men. In ways he was the man Gunny was expecting to go and do the job.

"You are aware of the risk, right?"

"Sir I am aware, besides my team is ready, we will get them out I promise."

"Ok then, I wish you and your team best of luck."

"Thank you, sir."

The man was about to turn away when Gunny stopped him with a short sentence.

"Hey, this time make sure you come back with all your men Riker."

He turned back on last time and with a crippled voice said "Yes sir."

In the drop area

"Ok sir you ready?"

I stepped out of the bunk rooms with my armor. I felt bigger, stronger, and even better than when I started.

"I'm ready."

"Ok then, LET'S LOCK AND LOAD BOYS!"

Almost all at once troops were jumping into the pods and into the falcon gunships. We were going to hell.

As the loading doors dropped we saw earth for the first time in months. Everything you'd expect hell to look like was right underneath us. Flames, death, and we were moving towered it.

"Alright solders, DROP!"

The next thing I know was a sort of shock wave feeling, it felt like being shot out of a cannon. I was looking at my feet to see where I was going. I was put in a pod, so I would be one of the first to hit ground.

Back on the Marina

"Mam, the Drinia are closing in on the fleet. We are entering the target range of the capital ships."

"Alright then, open fire, hold nothing back."

The Marina was first to attack. The blasts sounded like a sonic boom and the bright fire that came from the Marina's heavy guns was just beautiful. It was as bright as the sun. In many ways it looked like the sun setting behind the mountains. When the Marina fired again that was a queue for all ships to engage the enemy. Combat was under way.

"All ship's to attack. Give them hell boys."

Earth's atmosphere

"OK BOYS! LANDING IN 1 MINUTE, BE PREPARD FOR A FIGHT RIGHT AS YOU EXIT."

It was training all over again, adrenalin rushing to your head, your heart pounding faster than the pistons of a car and harder than the beat of a heavy bass guitar. Sweet running down my forehead, I was ready.

"10…9…8…7…6…5…4…3…2…"

Count down ended I knew what was coming next, ground.

Earth 6 years ago

"Smith, Are you sure you love me?"

"Of course I do, why would you ask me that?"

"Then don't leave on the Marina please."

"Don't worry. I have been through worse ok. I promise, nothing will happen."

I did not know how I could say that. I did not know that nothing would happen. If I was asked to go to war I would have no choice but to go to war and if I died I would not be coming back.

"You swear Smith?"

I kissed her and got up. I did not want to leave but I had to. I gave her my hand to help her up. As she got up she wrapped her arms around me and held me. I wrapped my arms around her, to shield her from the cold but manly to protect her from harm. She looked up at me and I said.

"I swear."

"I only wish that I could remain with you like this always."

"I know. I wish that to."

Taking one last look at her, I felt happy. She was out of harm's way. She was safe.

Then I woke up to the sounds of hell. But I was still standing there with her in my hands. But then something made me shudder and try to run away, she was on fire and was quickly engulfed in flames, all of a sudden she was gone.

Back at the front

"Smith you ok? Come on boy wake up… you give me a hand…. Don't worry smith well get you outta here."

I woke only to find Gunny standing over me. I also saw cannon blasts going over my head, as well as gunfire.

"Smith you ok?"

"I could be better."

"Here, let's get you up."

As I got up I looked around. I found blaster fire on the rubble around me. I could hear the sounds of the battle. I could also see it. I landed right on the battle line.

"Sir get ready, here they come. Dig in boys, its going to be a long day."

With that we opened fire on our enemy. The shots ran from the muzzle of our guns and into the heads and hearts of the Drinia. I could tell that we were going to be able to hold them.

"Hold here boys! We can hold them!"

"Gunny you sure we can hold them?"

"No I'm not sure. But I am sure we can hold this spot for a few hours."

I've known Gunny for years. He has always loved me like a son. He fought with my dad long ago so fighting with me was almost the same if not better.

"Hey Smith don't worry about a thing, I have all under control, you just leave it to me ok?"

"Gunny, what about my wife and daughter?"

"I have the best team out there looking for them. They will find them no doubt in my mind."

"Who did you send?"

"I sent the best that's all you really need to know."

"Thanks… I hope they make it."

North about 100 miles behind enemy lines

"Sir, I have three in my sights now. It looks like a small scouting party. What should I do?"

"Hold all fire. The Drinia don't know we are here. Let's try and keep it that way. Ok Sergeant?"

"Yes sir."

"Hey Capt. I've been thinking. Why would Gunny send his top best troops away from the real deal?"

"That's classified. Sorry Sergeant Major."

"Riker please tell us. If we are giving our lives for something we at least need to know who or what for."

I thought about what Viper said. She was right, why should they not know. A rescue mission, that's all it was. At the same time if I told them that I volunteered them for this then they would think I'm doing the same thing I did back on Dante, get my team killed.

My mind started to wonder around a bit. I started to think about Dante. A small colony program, a stupid one at that, setting up a colony on the front line of the rim right in the heart of the war.

I would never forget that day.

Dante's city center

6 years ago

"Riker I'm not sure that we can do this."

Flame was right to. Blowing up a 40 story building was hard. But it had to be done. The building was being used as a Drinia headquarter, it had to go.

"Flame is right. We should just wait for more troops on this one."

"Listen to me ok. We have hundreds of Drinia up there. If we blow this building up we would save a lot more lives."

"I agree with Riker on this one. I say we do it. What about you Twitch?"

"I'm down for it Dozer."

I had been in charge of this team for about two years and we came to love and respect each other, each one of us was a family member to the other, if one goes we all went.

After that Flame and Rat finally agreed to it. We would sneak in through the basement of the building and make our way to the top planting charges in key areas of the building. After that make our way to the roof and call for a pickup. Easy? No. Possible? Yes.

Once in we found the first area and planted the charge, it was simple because there were few Drinia in our way. So far we're able to remain undetected. Once we were to the second area we had trouble but still made it. It was the third point that was hard, the cafeteria.

"Riker, still think we should continue?"

"Of course Flame. We still have four more charges."

"Sir, we have company."

We did. Drinia were pouring into the cafeteria, all the doors were filled to the brim with them. I was not sure of what to do. Flame was trying his best to plant the charges fast, but could not do it fast enough.

"FLAME, can you hurry up?"

"It's a delicate process."

Just as I turned back a blaster shot came whizzing over my head and hit Dozer in the chest. I looked at the big man with shock. He was a good friend, and I just got him hurt.

"DOZER!"

"I'm… I'm fine."

I looked at his wound. He was not going to make it up the next flight of stairs. He looked at me and stuck his hand out. I grabbed it thinking I was going to help him to his feet, instead he drew me close.

"Get out of here. I will hold them long enough for you to run."

I couldn't leave him. He was my troop…my friend…my brother. I just couldn't, but I had to. Before I let go he gave me his dog tag and he grabbed his gun.

"Flame you done?"

"Yah, we can go."

"Ok. Give them hell Dozer."

"Will do Riker."

We went out a small kitchen door. I could hear the sound of Dozer's gun. It was loud and powerful. I knew well enough it was only a matter of time before the Drinia overpowered him and killed him. I did not want to realize that but, I knew it was true.

After that we were able to make our way to a small area which just happened to be the next point. Flame got to work immediately, I knew it would take him some time but I also knew that it would not take long for the Drinia to find us, and I was right, they hit us harder than they did before.

"Hold them."

"Damn it Riker we can't hold them. We have to get out."

"This is the last one ok. This is it."

Once we finished we started to make our way to an exit when we were being heavily pursued. It was getting out of hand.

"Riker, Rat, Flame. Go I will hold them off."

"What? No Twitch we are not leaving another behind."

I looked at Twitch and saw he was holding his left side. A piece of metal was sticking out of his side. He threw his helmet off; it landed off to the side and started to bounce down the stair case. I looked at him again and I could only think why I would leave another brother behind. He came up to me and gave me his dog tag.

"Listen Riker, I'm not going to make it. We all know that. I can't go on, I'm sorry ok."

He turned around to face his death, and once again I watched another brother go. Before he left he looked at Flame.

"Hey Flame, do me a favor."

"Sure, anything you want."

"Love her with all your heart, don't ever let her go."

We all knew that Rat and Flame loved each other. I was always going to respect that. Twitch was the only one to have ever cared about them like that.

Just like that though. Twitch was gone; he had turned his back to us and put his face to death. He was a good man, I was more than proud to fight with a man such as him.

We had made it to the roof and we were waiting for the chopper to come in and pick us up. I had realized something though. What was going to happen if the chopper never came? For the first time I was scared, scared that my team was not going to make it.

The time came for the chopper to be there, but there was none. No sound of the blades, no sound of the turbines, nothing, only the sound of the wind.

"Sir, what do we do?"

"I don't know let me think."

Just then Drinia came through the doors and started shooting up a storm. We had barely enough time to react before one of us was hit. It was Rat, she was hit three times, once in the chest, once in the upper leg, and then in the neck. She hit the ground hard, she was dead.

Flame grabbed her and dragged her behind cover, I joined them but when I did Flame was holding her. He had removed her helmet and his own, he was crying. In all my life I had never seen emotions like this from a phoenix before.

"Flame I'm sorry."

He looked up at me with broken eyes. They looked right into me, I could tell he was mad, but at the same time he was happy.

"Listen Jon, I'm not mad at you, you followed your orders, and I wished that you would have thought them through more but I'm not mad. In many ways I'm glad she went like this."

"Still, Flame I'm sorry, not only for losing both Twitch and Dozer but for taking this job. Now your love is dead, our brothers are gone. It's all because of me."

Flame looked at me with tears coming down his checks. He removed his dog tag and Rats and held them out.

"Jon take them, I'm not going back without her."

"Flame just wait for a chopper, they will…"

"There's not going to be a chopper, ok."

I looked down at the ground, I was not happy. I didn't want to leave both Flame and Rat on this building. I knew there was no chopper, I was not going to like the way off this building.

"Jon I'm blowing this building up, this area will be our tomb. I plan to go out with my love. Jump."

"Ok."

I took the dog tags and walked to the edge, I took one last look at Flame. I placed my helmet on and said something to Flame only a Phoenix would understand.

"Die with freedom brother."

"Live with faith and strength brother."

"Give them hell."

After that I jumped, as I fell I looked back and saw the building explode. It was a sight I would never forget, I couldn't forget. I hit the ground hard and could have sworn that I went in a few feet. I got up to see the work that my team had done.

Once I was back at the base, men treated me as a hero, but I would not accept that title. I walked past them with four dog tags dangling from my hands; this would be a day of grief and shame, not of joy and happiness.

Back at the camp

"Captain, are you ok?"

I woke up from my day dream finding myself back on earth.

"Yah, I'm fine. Just need a little time."

I sat down; I could feel the emotions coming back, of that day. I had to push them aside because my team needs me.

"Ok, I will tell you what we are doing. We are looking for two civilians."

"We are on a search and rescue mission? Come on I'm not risking my life for some stupid person."

"Well Snipe this two are special; they are the wife and daughter of Admiral Strikes."

"What?"

"Yah, what I have to work with is the daughter is 3 to 4 years old, named Jamie. The wife is 29 I think, named Jen. That's all I have."

"Well, what are we waiting for? Let's get started."

I knew Viper would say that, she wanted to finish the mission so we could all go home. In some ways I think we all did.

"I still don't understand why we have to do this."

"That's because Snipe, you are a self-centered baster. You'll never understand because you're as fucked up as a football bat."

Thunder of all people would know not to piss off Snipe, even so Thunder was a big man and let his power and strength do the talking for him. Snipe on the other hand would always look for ways to start a fight; even though he was small he was not afraid to take on a man like Thunder.

"Why you nasty peace of shit, I will show you what a football bat feels like. I will turn your clumpy ass into nothing Thunder."

And with that Snipe and Thunder were in each other's arms trying to chock or clobber one or the other.

"Oh God."

Hitting my head with a rock seemed like the right idea at the time but I knew it was not the smartest thing to do.

"Ok Viper, kill both of them or shut them up. You chose."

"Alright Riker, I will find something thick enough to hit Thunder over the head with and you take care of Snipe."

"I hate war."

Back on the Front line

"Sir, we can't hold them back."

"What? Why?"

"We have no relief and we are short on medical supplies."

"What about the support from our drop boys?"

"Still no contact with the phoenix boy's as well as the troops that dropped in."

"Damn… Ok hold the line for the civilian evacuation then we hightail our asses out. Got it?"

"Yes sir, OK MEN, HOLD HERE!"

Pistol in hand, I finally figured out why smith returned. He came back for his family, he could have started a fresh start but earth had something he would not trade for all the stars and planets in the universe, his wife and daughter. I had forgotten all about them, if anything I left them behind enemy lines. How could I be so stupid leaving my brother's family behind.

Looking up at the Marina and her children were kicking ass, because down here we weren't.

"Sir, your hit."

"I am?"

I looked at my arm and sure enough I was hit. I thought a little about it then said to myself it was possible nothing harmful, then again possible it could kill me. If it did smith would have no reason to help us out. He would see that all hope for earth is gone. He could leave.

"Come on sir, let's have it checked out."

"I'm fine, its nothing."

"Sir, just let the medic check it, MEDIC!"

About two to three minutes later a medic came running up and checked out my arm.

"It's nothing big to worry about but I would like to patch it up o stop the bleeding, if you will let me."

"Ok, but hurry up with it."

"Yes sir."

So much for that idea, I hate it when things you want never happen.

Aboard the Marina

"Mam, about 30% of our small fighters are down and dropping fast."

"How are the surrounding battle cruisers?"

"Taking heavy damage, but putting up an impressive fight."

"Mam, incoming message from the Xion, should I put it on?"

"Yes."

"This is Admiral Jun, I demand Admiral Turner's presence."

"Sorry Admiral, Turner is not aboard, he is on the planet's surface."

"What? Why is he on the ground?"

"He is retrieving his family."

"That idiot, we need all ships and there leaders ready for combat. He is a damn Admiral not a grunt on the ground, and he left a A.I. to be in charge of a fleet that's even worse."

"Sorry sir… I am really sorry about this but I must leave, the troops need me."

"Mam, Black Hawk Leader is contacting."

"Bring him up."

"This Black Hawk 1, we are taking massive losses, requesting backup or replacements."

"We will send what we can, but no promises."

"Thank you Black Hawk 1 out."

"Mam, what do we send? We have no more fighters."

"We have one."

"But Mam, that would be suicide, we would not be able to take that much damage let alone fight in that much space."

"We can fight in that and we will help out Black Hawk, ALL HAND'S TO GUNS! We are going into the heart of the battle."

The Marina began its slow crawl towards the front of the battle. War was not coming to them they were going to it. Battle for the skies was about to begin.

Back on Earth behind enemy lines

"Hey Riker."

"Sergeant Major you know to call me Captain, Not Riker."

"Come on Riker. We know each other by names, we are solder's but we do have names."

"Fine, but in front of Gunny call me Capt. Ok?"

"Fine, so Riker tell us. How do you know the Admiral?"

"Smith, we were friends for a long time, heck even Viper knew him."

"Sure did."

"Anyways both of us were the few picked to join the phoenix ranks."

"What happened?"

I thought about that day. Another day I wish never happened in my life but did.

10 years ago

"SMITH, JON! FRONT AND CENT!"

We both stood in front of the training officer, both thinking what the hell we did now. Life sucked here, but I knew it was all worth it if we could help out the war.

"Congratulations, you both have been picked to join the high ranks of the Phoenix program. Report to the Col. Immediately."

We saluted him and off we went. I could not believe it, me join the phoenix ranks. I have always dreamed of it, joining them was going to be the thing that separates me from the rest.

"Smith how great is this?"

"What do you mean?"

"Both of us, in the Phoenix program, I mean I just can't believe it, but of course I wish that Kate could be with us but I guess only two can."

"Come on Jon, why join?"

"What?"

"Think of it. No family, no love, no nothing, Jon you can't ask Kate out on that date with you, even though you have been wanting to ask here out for the past 4 years, but no marriage, no life, only war."

"Come on Smith, this is what we were trained for, the best of the best. Yes I want to ask Kate out, but I can't I don't know how to, so I guess that this is how I will move on."

"You're an idiot Jon."

"Wow, hold up Smith, what is wrong? We were trained to be the best and that's what I plan to be."

"WELL YOU GO AHEAD, BUT IM NOT GOING TO!"

We walked to the colonel's office without saying a word to each other. I could not believe he said all that, it felt like he did not care about all this. Once in the office we were rushed to the meet the Colonel.

"Alright boys, I don't need to explain what you will become or what you will do. I believe you know what will happen if you join, your personal life stays behind. I guess I only have one question, do you want to join?"

"Sir, I want to join."

"Ok welcome to the ranks, and you?"

"Sir, I do not want to join."

"That is not a surprise; about one out of ten people chosen to join will decline. Do you know anyone who would join?"

"Yes sir, Kate Ford."

I looked at him with hate but with question. Why would he give her his spot? Why would he allow my torment to continue, he knew I liked her. I don't understand why he would do this. Just maybe he wanted me to get a chance to ask her out, just maybe.

"Ok thank you, you both are dismissed."

Once we got out I stopped him.

"Why did you do that?"

"I picked someone for the job Jon. Maybe you are just too stupid to realize that I gave you a second chance to ask her out. I know you like her a lot, so I gave you one last chance. If you can't see that then have fun in hell, that's all you will ever know.

I remained standing there, just thinking. I thought he was a friend, a brother. Not an enemy, I guess people change. At the same time we turned and walked away from each other, but I thanked him at the same time.

Back at the camp

"So, Smith gave me the job."

I looked at Viper as if I just betrayed her, I did not want her to feel that way but sometimes I guess the truth hurts.

"Yes, Smith gave you the job; he did not want to join. Few years later Smith met someone and then after that, he go married."

"Did you go?"

"Yes, I did go, but I came in my Phoenix armor. At the end I told smith that I would be in charge of an elite team, and we would be going to other areas to protect colonies."

"And what happened after that, sir?"

"Well Snipe, I was out on Dante, lost my team and was put on a team better than the one I lost. Found out I was going to be on the Marina, I was more than happy with that because I had been on it before and knew it well."

"And that's when you were picked to go one this mission, right?"

"No, Gunny gave us a choice; I volunteered us to go on this mission. I am sorry I did so."

"Did what?"

"I'm sorry Snipe, but I volunteered this team."

"I forgive you, sir."

"You do Thunder, why?"

"Well in all the time that I have been under your command never once have I been lead into a mission that we did not make it. There is a risen we are the best team out there."

"I agree with Thunder, the Drinia fear you because you're the phoenix that fought on Dante and won. They also fear this team because you lead us into impossible missions and we came out victories."

"Well I don't."

"That's alright Snipe, but thank you guys."

Suddenly the radio went off.

"Phoenix Team1, come in."

"This is Phoenix 1 go ahead."

"We have found the Admiral's house, we have a thermal image of it and from the looks of it there is still life but we advise you to hurry."

"Copy that, how far?"

"10 miles from your current position."

"Copy that, over and out."

"Well people you heard what command said, we are close so let's move."

Getting up from our camp site we began our long walk over a burnt valley. From what we could see death, decay, and fire lay in our way, but we don't care, we lived for this.