-Lieutenant Getty Roberts – 16 – Outpost 1.3.2A – 3.2.2127
Getty Roberts pulled back on the throttle as he lined the nose of the shuttle up with the landing pad. He fired the maneuvering thrusters only twice before he was completely centered above the yellow flashing arrow in the middle of the pad. Then, he rotated the wing thrusters ninety-degrees and deftly touched the wheels of the shuttle onto the metal grating. The teenager smiled inwardly at another successful landing before he activated his comm-unit.
“Destiny to Landing Tower, Destiny has landed and is prepared for passengers.” Getty waited patiently for the tower to get back with him. He had had to wait in queue to land for nearly thirty-minutes before the tower gave the Destiny clearance to touchdown.
“Tower to Destiny,” the female voice finally crackled back over the radio. “Passengers are in route to your LZ. All seven boarding passes are being transferred to your system, now.”
“Boarding passes have been received, Tower.” Getty stated as he watched the information flash across the control screen to his left. The pilot frowned as he noticed that the boarding party were all part of a high priority transport. Normally, these types of transports were reserved for more experienced pilots. “Tower, are you sure that you gave me the correct file?”
“Roger, Destiny.” The female returned a moment later. Getty figured she went to double check. “Once all parties are boarded, you will lift straight to an altitude of 5-5-0-0 before you receive further instructions. You have standing clearance to lift off, Destiny. You will receive no further communications from this tower. How copy, over?”
“I copy, Tower.” Getty replied in a stunned tone. “Destiny, out.”
Getty flipped his comm-unit over to broadcast within the shuttle.
“AJ, we have seven incoming high priorities.”
“Did I hear you correctly, Lieutenant?”
Getty chuckled at the surprise in his commanding officer’s voice. He and AJ had only just started working together a few months prior, and already the two had become close friends. While AJ was only a Sergeant in the Association of Colonization and Exploration, Getty was a Lieutenant Pilot serving in the transportation sector until he earned enough flight time to transfer to another division.
“Aye, AJ,” Getty said with a shake of his head. “You heard me correctly. The file says it’s Top Secret.”
“Shit,” AJ muttered in disbelief. “How did we get this Getty?”
“I have no idea,” Getty replied. Then, the teen saw his passengers approaching through the main window. He flipped the button to open the starboard door of the shuttle. “Once they’re aboard, we’re taking off.”
“Aye, Lieutenant.” AJ replied. “I’ll give them your apologies for not greeting them personally.”
“Thanks, AJ.” Getty said thankfully as he watched the seven hooded figures.
According to the file transferred to his ship’s computer, two of the passengers were the adult children of the Fleet Commander. Getty was certain that his co-pilot’s seat was going to be filled with one of those two men for the duration of the journey. Getty checked the file and scowled.
“Shit,” he muttered in disbelief. “It doesn’t even tell me what my destination is.”
Getty checked the starboard side monitors to watch as the passengers climbed aboard. Once the last person was inside, Getty closed the doors and fired up the thrusters. He expertly lifted straight up into the air as gently as he could so he didn’t disturb his passengers as they took their seats. Once he reached fifty-five-hundred meters, Getty held his position and waited for the instructions he was supposed to receive. He was just about to put the shuttle into hover mode when he heard a beep coming from his comm-unit.
“What the hell is going on?” Getty asked as he reached out to receive the message. “This is Destiny…”
“Good morning, Pilot Roberts.” A deep baritone voice said over the speaker in the young man’s ear. “My name is Admiral Tesik, and I am hailing you from Earth. The passengers aboard your vessel at this moment are all high-ranking members of my family. Yes, including the bodyguards, Mister Roberts.” The man said to stave off Getty’s questions before he continued. “I’m sure that you have millions of questions, but I ask that you hold them for a moment. I am not calling you to threaten you or anything like that, Mister Roberts. You can be assured of that before we continue any further. The journey you are going to take is a dangerous one, and that is why I chose you. Your record is flawless except for a few times that you circumvented protocol for certain maneuvers that wound up saving the lives of thousands.” The man on the tele-comm unit paused for a moment before he continued in a steady voice. “I am transferring your first set of coordinates to you now, Mister Roberts. You will enter them into your navigation system and maintain radio silence until you reach those coordinates. Do you understand, Pilot?”
“What if there is an emergency, sir?” Getty asked nervously. He hated questioning higher-ranking officers, but he wanted to make sure that he was clear on all of the finer details before he entered the coordinates that appeared on his navigation monitor.
“Included in the file is a frequency that you will use in case of an emergency, Pilot Roberts.” Admiral Tesik replied. “You will identify yourself only as ‘Angel-1’ from this moment if you must use the emergency frequency. There are also instructions for when you arrive at your destination, Pilot.”
“Okay, sir.” Getty finally stated. “I’ll do my best.”
“As I knew you would, Getty.” Admiral Tesik responded. “Fly safe, Pilot Roberts.”
Then, the connection was brought to an abrupt end. Getty reached forward and switched off his comm-unit before he opened the file. The very first words on the screen were instructing the young pilot to turn off his tracking device.
“Shit,” Getty mumbled.
He wasn’t expecting it to be a complete black out mission. Getty did as instructed, though. Just as any good officer in ACE would. The pilot entered the new coordinates into his navigation system and watched with a grin as the different monitors appeared on the windshield in front of him. The brown-haired youth smoothly adjusted the position of the transport ship with delicate touches to the vessel’s flight stick. Once the navigation ball was lined up with the coordinates Getty had received from Admiral Tesik, the teenager fired the thrusters to push him away from the Outpost. Pilot Roberts waited until he was certain that he was clear of the Outpost’s airspace before he adjusted his cruising speed. He fired the ship’s afterburners to help him break free of the planet’s gravity that OP1.3.2A orbited around. Getty didn’t turn off the thrusters until he was clear of the planet’s third moon. Only then did the young pilot activate his plasma core and prepare the Destiny to enter the lower grades of Star Speed. As he waited for the plasma core to prime itself, Getty activated the ship wide broadcasting system.
“Good morning, passengers.” Getty spoke softly into the comm-unit so he wouldn’t cause a panic. “My name is Lieutenant Getty Roberts, and I will be your pilot for this journey. Please, listen to the instructions that my assistant Sergeant AJ Miller gives you as I prepare us to enter Star Speed.” Getty took a quick glance at the screen where it showed the time remaining before he could launch them into the great abyss. “Time remaining until launch is sixty-seconds. AJ prepare the cabin.”
“Aye, Captain!” Getty heard AJ call back over the communication system.
Getty’s hazel eyes stared at the gauge intently as he waited to begin their journey. He didn’t like the details of this mission as they were slowly revealing themselves to him. The sixteen-year-old wasn’t certain that the mission was worth only the fifty credits it had listed with it. Then, the system beeped in front of the pilot drawing him back to his current situation.
“Launching in ten-seconds,” Getty announced before he flipped a few different switches on the control panel. The pilot reached out and touched two different glowing numbers on his windshield monitor before he finally reached down and grabbed the throttle lever with his right hand. “Five-seconds…”
“Cabin is secure, Captain!” AJ reported over the comm-unit.
“I copy, cabin is secure.” Getty acknowledged before he began to push forward on the ship’s throttle lever. “Initiating Star Speed.”
The ship shook slightly as it began to push forward towards the outer reaches of the solar system. Getty set the speed to SS-3 before the young man activated the ship’s autopilot and relaxed back in his seat. The hologram display on his windshield provided him with the current status of the Destiny’s systems as the vessel rocketed through space. He would be on watch for the next six hours before AJ took over the helm. That would be how the team would be spending the next few days as they traveled to wherever it was that the encrypted coordinates were taking them. Getty wasn’t surprised when AJ joined him a few minutes after they were underway.
“Requesting permission to join you on the bridge, Captain.” AJ announced as he stood at the open doorway.
“Permission granted, Sergeant.” Getty stated with a grin at his friend’s formality as he stepped inside the cramped space and sat in the co-pilot’s seat. “That permission stands for the remainder of this journey as well, Sergeant.”
AJ nodded with the same cheesy smile he usually wore whenever the two young men were sitting aboard the bridge of the Destiny together. AJ’s brown eyes were focused on the windshield in front of them. He wasn’t looking at the different data readouts around the edges, though. Sergeant Miller was staring out into the stars as if he was in love with them. AJ had joined the ACE Academy when he was thirteen and had been serving on ACE ships since he was fifteen. Getty had joined the academy when he was eleven and had been flying for the Association of Colonization and Exploration since he was fourteen years old. The youth had surprised all of his instructors with his thirst for knowledge and his drive to be better than he was the day before. That was the only way Getty was going to be able to achieve his goal of being a pilot on a real starship. He wanted to explore the universe instead of being bound to the confines of the local galactic quadrant. Mankind had yet to see the truth of what really lie beyond the stars. Getty wanted to be there for as many of those discoveries as he could be.
“There’s something I need to tell you, Getty.” AJ said in a quiet tone without looking away from the view in front of them.
“Go ahead, AJ.” Getty said with a quick glance in his direction. “I’m all ears anytime you need it, man.”
AJ smiled nervously before he sighed deeply.
“I put in for a transfer for a position closer to Alpha Centauri,” he told the pilot quietly.
“Oh,” was all Getty could get out before AJ continued to explain himself nervously.
“Krista is pregnant,” the older boy stated. “I love her and all, and I want to be there when the baby is born.”
“Dude, that’s fucking awesome!” Getty said happily as he reached over and patted his shoulder. “Congratulations! You’re going to be a great dad, AJ!”
“Thanks, Getty.” He said as the cheesy grin returned to his face. The engineer’s brown eyes seemed to brighten up as he received Getty’s praise.
“When are you leaving me?” The pilot asked trying to mask his sadness.
“Admiral Tesik sent me a message that there would be a ship waiting to take me to my next assignment once we reached our destination,” AJ said trying to mask his own mixed emotions.
“Well,” Getty began softly. “I hate to see you go, but I completely understand.”
“Don’t worry, Lieutenant.” AJ reassured his friend. “I’ll still do more than my best during this trip.”
“Thanks, AJ.” Getty said with a smile before AJ left him alone on the small bridge of the transport vessel.
-Eddin Tesik – 15 – Outpost 1.3.2A – 3.2.2127
The black-haired boy stared through the viewport at the different ships circling the Outpost. Eddin Tesik, one of the grandchildren of Admiral Tesik, was stuck in a special waiting room with his older brother Wade, while he and his cousins waited for their transport ship. The teen understood that their journey was going to be classified, so they had to remain in the holding room to keep from being noticed by anybody outside of the ACE regime. Word had apparently reached his grandfather that a war was going to happen in the 1st Quadrant, so the Admiral was having his family moved to safety. Eddin was extremely grateful for his grandfather’s protection, he just hated the fact that they had to leave without telling anybody. The fifteen-year-old had made friends; friends that he had entrusted with secrets nobody knew about. Now, Eddin was stuck on a month-long journey to a planet he had never even set foot on before.
The boy sighed deeply.
He didn’t ask for this change, but he knew that it had to happen. His older brother Wade was one of their bodyguards. The young man was tough and took his job very seriously. Their Uncle Stanley was head of the security team, and he always praised Wade Tesik for his accomplishments. Their Uncle Stanley also made sure to encourage the up and coming bodyguard to achieve more, and to never give up.
Eddin heeded those words just as much as Wade did. Eddin never gave up as he entered the ACE Academy and began training to be a pilot. It was his one goal in life. Now, his grandfather was pulling him back to ACE space just when there were rumors of war. A smaller transport ship touched down on the platform directly in front of their waiting room. Eddin picked up his knapsack and slung it over his shoulder while his other family members did the same.
“It’s about time,” thirty-six-year-old Jackson Tesik complained as he grabbed his own knapsack. The ACE Colonel made sure that his three boys had their own belongings before he directed them over to the door. He made certain to check on his nephew as well. “Come join us, Eddin. From what I understand, the shuttle is only stopping long enough for us to board.”
“That’s different,” Eddin stated as he went to join his uncle and cousins. Mason nudged Eddin in the side as he joined them next to the departure doors. Eddin smiled at his younger cousin. Mason’s blue eyes were sparkling with excitement as they waited for the doors to open. “Are you ready for this, Mason?”
The fourteen-year-old smiled with joy and nodded quickly before pointing at the older boy.
“I’m more nervous and sad, than anything,” Eddin replied.
‘Why are you sad, cousin?’ Mason asked with a quick flick of his fingers.
Eddin had trouble following his deaf cousin’s fingers for a moment due to being out of practice in the use of Sign Language. He was about to respond to Mason’s question when a chime sounded and the door to the landing pad slid open. Eddin could feel the heat from the shuttle’s thrusters as he prepared to follow his Uncle Stanley to the waiting vessel.
“Follow me,” Stanley Tesik called out as he motioned for the others to follow. “Wade will take up the rear.”
Everyone moved in a single line like they had been taught to do when approaching a shuttle still under full power. It was dangerous for everyone involved, especially the passengers boarding or departing the ship in question.
Eddin identified the ship as a Class II Transport Cruiser operated by the Association of Colonization and Exploration. The door on the starboard side of the shuttle stood open, and a man wearing a gray flight suit stood in the open-door motioning for the group to board the ship. Eddin moved as fast as he could towards the ship without running. That was another rule that was supposed to only be broken in extreme emergencies. Never run on the landing pads.
“Please, keep moving, everyone.” The man in the door stated calmly. “We’re taking off once the door is sealed. Take a seat in the passenger cabin as quickly as possible. It’s the first door on your left.”
Eddin followed his cousin Mason onto the shuttle and turned down the corridor with his uncles in the lead. His Uncle Stanley stopped outside of the passenger cabin door and motioned everyone inside.
“Hurry up and take your seats, boys.” He instructed in his business-like manner. “We’re doing a live launch.”
Wade and Stanley were the last to take their seats as everyone felt the small ship jerk upwards.
The man that had greeted them at the door stepped into the large dimly lit room.
“Good morning, everyone.” The crewman said with a brief smile. “My name is Sergeant Miller, but you may call me AJ during our journey. Lieutenant Roberts is your pilot for this trip, and he’s the best in the entire fleet.” Stanley and Jackson chuckled quietly. “Due to the nature of the flight, he is unable to be here to greet you himself. So, welcome aboard the Destiny, everyone!”
“Thank you, Sergeant.” Jackson said with a brief nod. “Tell the Captain that we look forward to meeting him.”
“I’ll make sure he knows, sir.” AJ said before he excused himself from the passenger cabin.
Eddin turned his attention to the monitors as the Destiny started to move forward.
“Good morning, passengers.” A voice said softly over the speakers above their heads. “My name is Lieutenant Getty Roberts, and I will be your pilot for this journey. Please, listen to the instructions that my assistant Sergeant AJ Miller gives you as I prepare us to enter Star Speed.” There was a slight pause before the pilot spoke again.”Time remaining until launch is sixty-seconds. AJ prepare the cabin.”
Eddin sighed and leaned back in his seat. He loved this part of the launch. He could almost hear the hum of the ship’s engines as the plasma core powered up. Eddin glanced to his left to see the look of fear on Mason’s face. The older boy reached over and took the younger boy’s hand into his own with a reassuring smile on his face.
“It’ll be okay, Mason.” Eddin stated when his deaf cousin turned to look at him. “I promise.”
Even though Mason was deaf, Eddin knew that the boy could read lips like a pro and used that to his advantage to distract the boy as he felt the ship begin to vibrate.
“Launching in ten-seconds,” Eddin heard the pilot announce. He smiled back at Mason and squeezed his hand. “Five-seconds.”
Mason squeezed Eddin’s hand tightly.
“Initiating Star Speed!”
The passengers of the Destiny were pushed into their seats for a moment as the ship accelerated to SS-3. The boys cheered as the ship settled into its cruising speed and smiled at each other. Stanley and Jackson each sent messages out on their telecom units that they were underway. Eddin and Mason continued to hold hands until AJ returned to show everybody to their cabins.
-Mason Tesik – 14 – Destiny – 3.2.2127
Mason didn’t mind sharing a room with his twelve-year-old brother, even if Cort was a major pest sometimes. The boy just happily ignored his brother’s antics and hoped that their time together in space would change the younger Tesik boy. Then, Mason’s thoughts strayed to that of their cousin Eddin. He thought of how warm the hand was against his own, and how that simple touch was enough to send butterflies tumbling through Mason’s stomach. There was no doubt to Mason. He had a major crush on Eddin. Mason only hoped that Eddin didn’t find out.
‘Why didn’t he pull his hand away from mine, though?’ Mason questioned himself.
The boy was so lost in his own thoughts that he didn’t even notice his older brother step into the room. Mason jumped when Fyn sat on the cot next to him and slipped his arm across the younger boy’s shoulders.
“Are you okay, Mason?” Fyn asked with concern in his blue eyes as Mason turned to look at him.
Mason just shrugged his shoulders. He had enough to deal with. He didn’t want to have to worry about ruining his family name at the same time.
“You’ll figure it all out, soon enough, little brother.” Fyn reassured Mason with a smile. “Trust me.”
Mason nodded sheepishly as his brother hugged him tightly for a moment before releasing the younger boy. Fyn stood from the bed and made sure his little brother was looking at him again before he spoke.
“You can come to me if you need to talk about anything, Mason.”
‘I know,’ Mason signed in reply.
Fyn ruffled the boy’s hair before he left him alone in his cabin. The door slid shut behind the older Tesik brother before Mason flopped back on his bed. He found the cot to be uncomfortable, and the boy fought to find a decent position before he fell into a fitful sleep.
-Lieutenant Getty Roberts – 16 – Destiny – 3.2.2127
Getty stared out through the windshield as he watched the planet Rydin pass by to the Destiny’s port side. The green clouds swirled through the upper atmosphere of the planet, keeping the reflective gray surface of the toxic world from sight. The pilot sighed before he checked his time piece for the umpteenth time since they had left OP1.3.2A behind. Getty didn’t mind being a part of the transport division. The sixteen-year-old just hated dealing with the pilots that didn’t know how to control their own ships. He understood completely the fact of being new behind a helm, but most disciplined individuals studied up on the vessel they were getting ready to take charge of before they even boarded the ship.
There was also the problem of the rust-bucket pilots. The pilots that refused to keep up with the maintenance of their ships. Those were the ones that were a tremendous hazard to everybody else around them. Especially, when it came to sharing their airspace at the different outposts. Getty had more than one near-miss due to a rust-bucket sputtering out above him as they hovered in the holding pattern. Getty’s final problems were the Artificial Intelligence pilots. The ships being piloted strictly by computers with no human interaction. Those were the ships that terrified Getty. The ships that ran on the older versions of flight technology were more prone to accidents than the newer ships, but the accidents still happened.
Getty sighed and switched on his Flight Log. He recorded the current status of the ship’s systems before he radioed for AJ to join him on the bridge. The sergeant appeared a few minutes later with red cheeks like he was running.
“What happened to you?” Getty asked as he caught sight of the man’s disheveled appearance.
“I was clear down in the engine compartment, Captain.” AJ replied before he sat in the other flight seat. “What’s up, Getty?”
Getty pointed at the monitor of the view behind them. On the screen was a view of the plasma wake being left behind the Destiny as it traveled at Star Speed.
“What do you see?” Getty asked with feigned disinterest.
“I’m not certain,” AJ replied as he took a closer look at the monitor. He squinted his eyes for a moment before he noticed the tiny blip in the plasma core stream. “Are we being followed?”
Getty just nodded quietly.
“Clever buggers,” AJ stated with a shake of his head. “What do we do?”
“Right now, they don’t think we can see them.” Getty explained. “They’re just far enough out of sensor range that we can’t detect them. I was just lucky enough to spot the bubble in the plasma core stream.”
“I would have never noticed it,” AJ admitted. “We can’t just let the bastards follow us…”
“I never intended to,” Lieutenant Roberts stated with a wry grin.
AJ chuckled and shook his head.
“What’s your plan, boss?”
“I’m going to keep our passengers safe, Sergeant Miller.” The pilot said calmly as he studied the unidentified blip in their plasma core trail. “I’d suggest you inform our passengers to hang on for the next few minutes so I can shake off our little friend here.”
“Aye, Captain.” AJ acknowledged before he disappeared from the bridge to spread the word about the upcoming maneuver.
The Destiny trembled slightly as Getty made a few adjustments to the control parameters before he grabbed the flight stick firmly. The pilot took a deep breath before he disabled the plasma core. Then, he disabled the autopilot and pushed the transport ship into a nosedive. The entire ship shook violently as Getty fought to keep the vessel under control. He watched his monitors to see the blip in their plasma core trail shoot overhead. The following ship was moving too fast to anticipate the movement of the Destiny and was already too far gone to turn back around to give chase. Getty checked his distance to the perimeter of the solar system. Once he was certain he wouldn’t get his license revoked, the pilot programmed SS-7 into the Destiny’s computer. Getty was about to power up the plasma core when all of his systems began to flash red and the engines powered down.
The young pilot began a system wide scan to see where the fault occurred knowing that the ship shadowing them could return at any moment. It didn’t take that long to turn a star ship around. Getty flipped switch after switch to get the Destiny back on her feet, but nothing was working. The Destiny was dead in the water. It was only a moment later when the long-range scanners picked up an incoming vessel directly in front of the transport ship. Getty continued to try the thrusters, hoping that he wasn’t flooding them as he tried to get the ship moving. The proximity alert began to resound obnoxiously on the bridge, making the young pilot wince at the sound.
“Computer, silence alarm!” Getty called out over the noise. A moment later it fell silent on the bridge of the ship, leaving Getty with a ringing sound in his ears. The pilot almost cheered when he felt the ship tremble back to life. “Computer, all power to the engines.”
“Engines are charging, Captain.” The computer voice responded. “Thirty-seconds remaining until fully charged.”
Getty flipped on the comm-unit to broadcast throughout the ship as he made sure that his own flight restraints were secured tightly.
“Sorry for the delay, folks.” The pilot said as he monitored the gauges in front of him. “We ran into a bit of a bind, but we’ll be back on the way in about twenty-seconds.”
Getty flipped off the unit just as the door to the bridge slid open and one of the adult passengers stepped onto the bridge.
“Now’s not a good time, sir.” Getty called out. “You really should be in your seat. We’re about to jump to Star Speed.”
The man quickly secured himself into the co-pilot’s flight seat, making Getty realize that he was going to be explaining his actions in just a moment. First, the pilot needed to get everyone out of their current situation alive.
“He’s preparing his weapons,” the dark-haired man stated, drawing Getty’s attention away from the power core display.
“Shit,” Getty muttered. “I wasn’t expecting that. Computer, shields at fifty-percent.”
“Shields set to fifty-percent.” The computer acknowledged.
Getty set the plasma core to SS-7 once again and counted to five before he hit the button. The engines stuttered briefly before the Destiny lurched forward past the attacking ship just as it fired its forward weapons.
“Nice flying, Pilot.” The strange man stated once they were clear of danger.
“Thanks,” Getty responded nervously. “Sorry about that. We were being followed, and I wanted to lose him, but the Destiny refused to start back up.”
The man smiled and laughed quietly.
“You handled yourself well, though.” He said as his blue eyes seemed to dance with excitement as the man looked at the sixteen-year-old boy. “Especially, for someone as young as you are.”
“I could have just waited until we left the system…”
“Enough with the what ifs,” the man said with a wave of his hand. “You kept your ship and passengers safe. Technical problems are a hazard of the job.”
“Is there a specific reason why you’re up here visiting me?” Getty asked nervously.
“Indeed, there is, Pilot Roberts.” The man finally said with a wide grin. “My name is Stanley Tesik. I’m the family Security Chief. It’s my job to keep everyone safe under my care, much like it is for you.”
“Did I do something wrong?”
“Negative, my new friend.” Stanley quickly reassured the younger man. “Not in the slightest. I actually wanted to offer you a new job.”
“A job?” Getty asked in disbelief.
“Yes, Pilot Roberts.” Stanley said in a deadpan voice. “A job.”
The man stood from the flight seat and brushed off his pants with one of his hands.
“My father will get in touch with you shortly to cover all of the details, Lieutenant.” Stanley stated as he turned to leave the bridge. “I hope you make the right choice, young Getty. There’s an entire universe waiting for you to explore it.”
Getty stared at the back of Stanley Tesik in disbelief. The young man was almost positive that he was going to get scolded for his flying, but he was offered a job instead. Getty was dumbfounded as he got ahold of AJ to get an incident report from his crewmate. The pilot was about to switch the comm-unit back on when his unit lit up, signaling an incoming transmission on a secure channel.
“This is Angel-1?” Getty asked hesitantly.
“Good evening, Mister Roberts.” Getty recognized the Fleet Commander’s voice immediately.
“Good evening, Admiral Tesik.” The pilot replied. “I take it that you’ve heard about our encounter, already?”
The pilot already figured that Stanley would have reported back to the Admiral. It was one of his duties, after all.
“First,” Admiral Tesik began in a pleasant voice. “I would like to congratulate you on a job well done in evading that Gamothian Scout Ship.”
“We got lucky, sir.” Getty said honestly. “Angel-1’s engines went down, and I was barely able to get it powered back up in time to avoid their weapons.”
“They fired on you?” Admiral Tesik asked in surprise.
“Aye, sir.” Getty stated as he saw the flash of the weapons pass just beneath the ship. “Damn near got us, too, sir. Though, I’d appreciate if you didn’t tell the passengers about that, sir. I’m afraid it would cause a panic if everybody knew what we were really up against.”
“I agree with you, Lieutenant.” Tesik agreed. “Though, I would like you to get my son involved. He has experience with these transport cruisers and could be beneficial to you in the long run.”
“No, actually.” Getty was surprised by the response coming from his comm-unit. “My other son’s name is Jackson Tesik. He’s a Colonel with the Association. Hell, Getty, he’s almost got as many awards as you.”
Getty laughed brightly at the man’s comment.
“I will ask one thing of you, Mister Roberts.”
“And, what is that, sir?”
“Report to me whenever anything untoward happens in space around you,” the Admiral said with the tone of someone giving an order. “I don’t care if it’s your low fuel light coming on. I want to be kept in the loop. Do you understand?”
“Yes, sir.” Getty said shyly. “It won’t happen again, sir.”
“Good,” the Admiral stated before he took on a friendlier tone. “Now, there’s something else I need you to do for me, Mister Roberts.”
“What’s that, sir?”
“I need you to make two extra stops before you go to the Outpost,” Admiral Tesik said. “At the first stop, you will be onboarding two additional passengers before you depart for your next stop, where you will be onboarding one more passenger.”
“That’s going to be a tight squeeze, sir.” Getty said with a slight chuckle.
“There’s more, Getty.”
“Of course there is, sir.” The young pilot said with a frown.
-Mason Tesik – 14 – Destiny – 3.2.2127
The stars were singing to the boy as he floated in the depths of space. Their song filled the boy with a warmth that he had never felt before. A feeling that only left him wanting to be closer to the stars. He reached out towards them, hoping that they would pull him closer, only to be denied their pleasure yet again.
Mason wanted to pout and beg the stars to let him be close, but they refused his plea time and time again. All he wanted was to be closer to the source of the song, but it wasn’t meant to be for the little five-foot tall boy. Tears glistened in the corner of his eyes as he found himself being pulled away from the resounding chorus. He wasn’t ready to leave.
He didn’t want to leave.
It was the only sound he had ever heard in his life, and to the boy, it was beyond beautiful. He could never get enough of it. How could he even go on knowing that a sound like this was just beyond his reach?
Mason tried to scream out as he was suddenly yanked away from the music of the stars. The fourteen-year-old boy opened his eyes to see everything bathed in red around him. The odd part was that he was floating. The boy glanced down enough to see that he was still over his cot, but he was still a good meter above it. His pulse quickened as the metal ceiling grew closer.
‘Don’t panic,’ Mason told himself over and over again.
His experience with weightlessness was over almost as soon as it started, though. Mason felt gravity take hold again and could only pray that he was above the bed still. The boy almost smiled when he hit the firm mattress with a grunt. The fall knocked the breath out of Mason, but it wasn’t long before he was back on his feet again. The boy promptly ran to the door of his cabin and went to find his cousin. He vaguely remembered where Eddin’s door was located and knocked on the door until it slid open.
Mason only waited long enough to make sure it was Eddin before he threw himself into the older boy’s arms and began to sob. The gesture shocked Eddin, but he quickly realized that he needed the contact as much as his younger cousin.
-Prince Deegan Aurdyn – 13 – Royal Estates of Pydrak – 3.3.2127
Prince Deegan scowled as the tutor continued to berate him for being late. It wasn’t a usual occurrence, but it was known to happen from time to time.
“How am I ever going to teach you anything if you’re not here?” Tywin asked in a surly tone. “I was here on time.”
“Then, you can take the class,” Prince Deegan said without even realizing what he had done until the tutor’s greyish skin began to turn red with anger. “My apologies, Sir Tywin.” The boy backpedaled quickly. “I misspoke. I’m out of sorts this morning from not getting enough sleep last night. My father had a late meeting with me to discuss a trip he wants me to take.”
“Your father, Emperor of our blessed home, always consults with me whenever you are to be sent away on a journey, young prince.” Tywin said with a scowl.
“This one is different, Sir Tywin.” The prince said quickly. “You can ask my father about it if you want…”
“I intend to do just that, my dear prince.” Tywin declared before he turned to the hologram at the front of the small room. “Today, we are going to begin learning about the Great War.”
Deegan sighed as his attention drifted to the conversation he had with his father the night before. His dad, the Emperor, had instructed him that he would be leaving on the next space transport that passed by. Emperor Darnys would not take ‘no’ for an answer, no matter how much the thirteen-year-old boy pleaded to stay.
“It’s for your own safety, my son.” The Emperor had stated in his usual humble tone. “You will not question my decision. Now, get your bags ready.”
“Yes, father.” Deegan had replied quietly. His father had left the room before he saw the tear fall down Deegan’s smooth cheek.
“Now,” Tywin stated sharply, snapping Deegan out of his daydream. “What can you tell me about Asaro’s Fall?”
Deegan was about to answer when the door to the small classroom opened suddenly. One of the Royal Guards stood in the doorway with an apprehensive look on his face.
“Forgive me, Sir Tywin.” The armored man said with a slight bow. “His Royal Highness has requested the presence of Prince Deegan at the Launch Pad.”
The tutor scowled at boy in front of him before he turned his attention to the guard.
“Can’t this wait?” Tywin asked in a dry tone.
“No, Sir Tywin.” The guard replied. “Emperor Darnys only said that the prince needed to hurry so he didn’t miss his flight.”
“Fine,” Tywin said as he turned away from the guard. “Make sure that you are on time tomorrow, Prince Deegan. Tardiness will no longer be tolerated in my classroom.”
“Yes, Sir Tywin.” Deegan replied meekly before he followed the guard from the room.
The guard motioned the young prince into the back of a waiting grav-cart and waited before he climbed into the front. Deegan watched as the man flipped the power switch, and the vehicle took off towards the Launch Pad. It was only a short ride, but it was long enough for Deegan to reflect on his father’s instructions the night before.
“I need you to go to Mador, my son.” The Emperor had stated in a quiet voice. You could never be too careful within the Royal Estates. The walls had ears.
“Why, though, father?” Deegan had asked as he fought the urge to cry. “Why can’t you send Daris or Destin?”
Emperor Darnys looked gravely at his youngest son. The message on the man’s face was clear enough to the boy. The decision was final. Deegan frowned but acknowledged his father’s instructions with a nod.
“You did nothing wrong, Deegan.” Darnys stated trying to calm the boy’s fears. “I am only sending you away for your own safety.” Deegan glanced up sharply at his father’s words. The man just nodded before he continued. “There’s a war coming to this quadrant of the galaxy, and it would be best for our line if you were far from here.”
“Father?” Deegan could feel the lump forming in his throat at his father’s words.
“Have no fears, young Deegan.” Darnys said calmly as he reached out to touch his son’s shoulder. “You will keep our bloodline alive.”
Deegan bowed his head slightly to keep his father from seeing the tears welling in his own silver eyes.
The sudden stop of the grav-cart yanked the young prince back to the present, and the boy turned his head to see a large shuttle landing next to the Launch Pad building. Deegan frowned at the site of the white and gray shuttle with rust spots all down the side of it.
‘My father would never allow a piece of junk like that in the fleet.’ Deegan thought to himself.
A moment later the door was opened by the guard, and Deegan was escorted from the vehicle. He thought about asking the guard if he had any other details for him about his journey, but Deegan thought better to keep his mouth shut. The brick building blocked the view of the different launch pads as Deegan followed the guard towards the front doors. There were two guards, each armed with swords like the prince’s own escort, standing on either side of the doors. Both men promptly saluted the moment the prince drew near. Deegan returned the salute like his father had taught him and motioned for the guards to carry on with their duties. The automatic doors of the building slid open for Deegan and his guard.
“My Prince!” A slender man called out from Deegan’s left, drawing the boy’s attention. The light-haired man approached the prince and stopped a few feet away to bow deeply. He wore gray pants with a blue jacket and he carried a briefcase in his left hand. The man had a slight smile on his face as he greeted the prince and his escort. “My name is Chos Birk. Oh, I have a letter.” The man held the briefcase in one hand while he flipped it open with the other. His blonde hair fell forward over his cheeks as he bent his head to look through his briefcase. “It’s here somewhere…”
“Chos, was it?” Deegan glanced up as he caught his escort’s dark tone. Chos glanced up as well.
“Yes?” He asked before digging through his briefcase again.
Sergeant Wist frowned. Deegan knew the man hated to be ignored, and the prince was certain that this man was about to get an earful from the sergeant.
“Oh, here it is!” Chos stated proudly as he brandished a rolled-up parchment in front of the guard. “I put it in the back pocket. Normally, I put important stuff in the front.”
Wist’s scowl deepened before he snatched the document away from the other man and began to read through it while Chos glanced down at the prince and winked. Deegan’s expression turned to one of confusion as he tried to figure out what game the man named Chos was playing. Wist suddenly grunted in surprise.
“I guess the two of you should get to know each other, then.” Edgo Wist stated, which made Deegan even more confused than he already was. Wist handed the parchment back to Chos with a shake of his head. “Sorry about that, Tutor. I didn’t think they were picking you up until the Outpost.”
“No apology is necessary, my good sir.” Chos said with a brief nod and smile. “I should have had the appropriate documents ready when I introduced myself. As for why I’m here…” The man hesitated slightly as he glanced down at the prince. “I believe that story is best saved for another time.”
This time, it was Deegan’s turn to scowl. He had the family trait of knowing when he was being lied to. For the young prince, it also worked when people were keeping secrets from him. He would certainly put his new tutor to the task once they were aboard their ship.
-Dinrak Soren – 23 – Derwin – Capital City of Fandra 3.4.2127
The air was humid as the young man made his way towards the office of the Fandrian Fleet Master. Dinrak had no idea why he had been summoned to meet with the leader of the entire space fleet, but he did know that it wasn’t ideal to keep the man waiting when he sent for you. Dinrak moved faster once he caught sight of the gray skyscraper at the end of the road in front of him.
The clerk inside the Fleet Headquarters smiled politely as Dinrak approached her, and her skin had a blue shimmer to it signaling that she was in a happy mood. Dinrak’s own skin had a muted red glow to it. He was clearly frustrated as the young woman watched him warily.
“Lieutenant Commander Dinrak Soren reporting as requested to meet with Fleet Master Jasro Nolrig, ma’am.” The veteran pilot stated as he saluted the young-looking woman.
The clerk glanced down at her monitor to check the master’s schedule and found the Commander’s name. She smiled pleasantly at the young-looking man as she grabbed the phone on her desk.
“I’ll let the Fleet Master know that you are here, Commander Soren.”
“Thank you, ma’am.”
He could tell that his frustration was ebbing as Dinrak caught sight of his reflection in a window to his left and noticed that his red glow was more yellow than anything at the moment. That was one of Dinrak’s setbacks with being a Fandrian. The species wore their emotions as colored camouflage on their skin. The more intense an emotion was, the more powerful their glow was. Even Dinrak’s blue hair would put off a colored glow if he was being over emotional. That was the other problem for Dinrak. The man was almost twenty-five and only looked like a fourteen-year-old human. His species aged much slower than other races once they hit puberty. They tended to live longer because of it, but you could never truly tell another’s age just by looking at them.
“Fleet Master Nolrig has asked that you step into lift number three, Commander.” The woman stated, snapping Dinrak from his thoughts.
“Thank you again, ma’am.” Dinrak acknowledged before he stepped towards the lift doors on the right side of the lobby. The door to number three slid open as the commander approached, and he quickly stepped inside. The man barely felt the motion as the elevator suddenly launched upwards. Dinrak turned around to face the doors just as they slid open behind him.
Dinrak found himself standing in the Fleet Master’s personal office. The light-blue haired man sat behind a large wooden desk at the far end of the room, and the wall behind him was filled with shelves of books. The remainder of his office was sparsely decorated with rare Fandrian Roses that bloomed in a deep silver and blue color that emitted a near heavenly scent.
The pilot approached the Fleet Master’s desk and promptly saluted.
“Please, sit.” Jasro motioned wearily towards one of the empty chairs across from his desk. Dinrak sat on the edge of the offered chair, his muscles tensed nervously as he waited for the master’s wrath to descend upon him. Jasro studied the young-looking pilot for a moment before he finally spoke again. “I need your help, Commander Soren.”
“I’m sorry, but what?” Dinrak had been expecting the worst possible scenarios during his walk to the Fleet Headquarters. He would never have expected the Fleet Master to start off their meeting by saying he needed the younger Fandrian’s help.
The Fleet Master smiled patiently as the look of confusion spread across Dinrak’s youthful looking face.
“Did you think you were going to be punished for something, Dinrak?” The older man asked in an amused tone.
“Yes, sir.” Dinrak replied honestly. “I just couldn’t figure out what I did wrong to warrant a summons to the Fleet Master’s office.
Jasro smiled again.
“That’s normally the only reason I summon anybody to my office, anymore, Dinrak.” The Fleet Master said almost sadly. “But I mustn’t stray. I am short on time as it is.”
“Sir?” Dinrak only felt his confusion build. “We’re not in danger, are we?”
“Not yet, Commander Soren. The days of war are coming, though.” The warning sent a chill down Dinrak’s spine. “I need your help with more of a humanitarian mission, at the moment.”
“I’m listening,” Dinrak said as he leaned forward in his chair.
“I have been requested by the Association of Colonization and Exploration to deliver someone’s new crewmate to their ship,” The man informed the commander quickly. “There is going to be a slight issue, though.”
“An issue, sir?”
“The pilot has a high intolerance for androids…”
“And his new partner is an android,” Dinrak finished for him as he realized that he was going to have to get over his own distrust for humans in order for him to be able to help the pilot trust his new crewmate.
The Fleet Master grinned as he picked up on Dinrak’s thoughts.
“I knew that you were the right man for the job, Commander Soren.”
Dinrak frowned at the implications of his new mission.
‘Humans,’ he thought with a disgusted scoff. Then, he quickly pushed that thought out of his mind as he focused on what he was about to do. “When do I leave, sir?”
“In twenty-minutes, Commander Soren.” Jasro apologized. “I would have told you sooner, but the mission was brought to me at the last minute and was deemed Top Secret by ACE.”
“I understand, sir.” Dinrak nodded calmly. It wouldn’t do for him to get upset about his pending journey. “Will I be coming back, sir?”
-Lieutenant Getty Roberts – 16 – Destiny – 3.4.2127
The Destiny shuddered slightly as the ship finally broke free from the gravitational pull of Fandra. The man that Getty had stopped to pick up appeared to be the same age as the other children already aboard the Destiny, but the flight manifest stated that Lieutenant Commander Dinrak Soren was actually twenty-eight-years-old. The young man was also the creator of the android that was being forced upon the pilot. He scowled as he programmed in the next set of coordinates that Admiral Tesik had given him.
The display beeped twice before it zoomed in on an empty spot between two stars. Getty double checked the coordinates to make certain that they were entered correctly.
‘Why would he take us to the middle of nowhere?’ The pilot asked himself thoughtfully.
He had learned long ago not to question orders. He would mention it the next time the Admiral deemed his call worthy to take. The pilot throttled up his engines as he pulled away from the small Earth-like planet. All he could do was follow orders and hope that Admiral Tesik wasn’t sending them all to their doom. It was bad enough that he had already been attacked by the Gamothian Scout Ship. The thought of how close he had come to getting hit by that first round sent a chill down Getty’s spine.
‘It didn’t hit us, though.’ Getty reminded himself as the Destiny settled into its cruising speed.
He wouldn’t program the Star Speed until they slipped past the third moon. Only then would it be safe for the solar system’s inhabitants if a reactor were to fail. The radiation would be dispersed enough that it wouldn’t cause any harm to the people of Fandra, and all they would see was a brief explosion of light across the sky; the sad remnants of whatever ship suffered the failure.
Getty sighed and focused on the task at hand. It wouldn’t do for him to think of everything bad that could happen during the journey. All he could do was wait and deal with anything as it occurred. He doubled checked the coordinates one last time before he began preparing the Destiny’s power core to jump to Star Speed.