This is a sci-fi fantasy story inspired by events that occurred in real life, specifically during my childhood. It is a tale of fear, adventure, and most importantly, brotherhood.

It had been a long time since I was last up here among the stars. During my last tour of duty, I had suffered some considerable trauma; had to make a lot of difficult choices and made one too many sacrifices that may not have been necessary. But that last tour wasn't what dominated my thoughts then as I gazed out of the viewport of my cabin. No... What occupied my mind then as I looked out upon the Azure Expanse was that one crazy escapade me and my squad ventured upon sixteen years ago during our first year at Terra Grande's biggest Fighter Corps training academy station, Starfather.

My name is Dove. No, that's not my real name, and I hate my real name too much to tell you what it is. See, us fighter jockeys always refer to each other by call-signs or some nickname that we make up based on a guy's personality, ability, appearance or some other crap like that. Now I'm sure you're wondering 'How'd you end up with a pansy-ass handle like "Dove"? What are you, a pacifist? Do you just like birds or something? Or maybe it's some gay pet name!' Well if was any of those, it would most likely be the pacifist thing. I admit I don't like conflict, even though I'm pretty adept at it, if I do say so myself. Truth is, I don't quite remember how I got the name, only that I originally hated it but still go by it to this day.

There were four other guys in my squad: Pyro was the smartest of the group and had a flare for the dramatic; Angel was... not at all like an angel back then, he could be pretty brutish; Dark was the squad's resident cynic; then there was Johnny. Johnny was the youngest and newest member of Chaos Squad and at the time he hadn't yet earned a wing-name. I thought about calling him "Spud" or "Tadpole" since he was the youngest, but the other guys thought that was too cliche. We did call him "Whiner" for a little while since he had a tendency to complain about things and even cried once after Angel yelled at him for spilling coffee on his newly-polished boots, but I guess we all felt guilty about it after a while. Or we just felt that the joke had run its course. Probably the latter.

Well, now that the introductions are out of the way, let me tell you about the Starfather. From a distance, the station looks like a gleaming jade needle, but when you get in close it's a beautiful spire shining like a polished emerald. Its outer hull is actually more of a dull chrome green but when the light from the nearby blue giant reflects off it it just glitters like a Christmas tree.The Starfather is the primary training facility for Terra Grande's Fighter Corps cadets. When you step out of a ship's airlock and on to their main hangar's deck, you're being born again. You're an infant that's been cast into the wilderness and must learn to find your place in a new pack filled with other such orphans. The ties of Fighter Corps cadets run deeper than simple friendship. Your squadmates are your family, your brothers. And true brothers look out for one another.

This is a story of brotherhood between the members of Chaos Squad. It is not the most epic of tales, however. It is a tragedy, albeit one without deaths. It is a tale of lost boys and their flight to escape conflict. A journey undertaken by fools blinded by fear of a thing they did not comprehend and were unwilling to confront. An exodus of cowards.

The End

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