Episode 1

A fan fiction set in the Star Citizen universe. This story follows several characters in a story of despair, deceit, political corruption, and high stakes space combat.

UEES Artemis (Bengal Class Carrier), Fighter Wing Combat Air Patrol, Halcyon System.

*BEEP BEEP BEEP* The targeting computer chirped to indicate a new contact was found. Commander Tom O’Brian, pulled up the target report on his computer. It looks like a large freighter, moving fairly slowly, transmitting an unknown IFF code.  The detection range was fairly close, which might indicate some stealthy armor or signal absorption devices. Halcyon was a rarely patrolled system with a few minor colonies that do not pay taxes to the Empire. It was rare enough for even an Idris to visit this system, let alone a carrier fleet. But, orders are orders, and O’Brian has spent the last 10 years in the Navy and was set to receive citizenship in two weeks, so no need to ask too many questions.

“Epsilon 1 to Epsilon Flight, Contact one thousand clicks, 11 o-clock. Appears to a large freighter. Second pair cover us while we move in to scan contact”. O’Brian gave the commands to his fight and throttled up his Hornet fighter to move in to scan the contact. It was odd finding such a large freighter in the outer edges of the Empire, but some of less controlled outer worlds have proven rather resourceful.

O’Brian’s thought are interrupted by Captain Arnold Shaw’s monotone voice. Shaw was the carrier’s wing commander and leader of the Retaliator bomber squadron. He has a reputation for being cold and calculating. He doesn’t have any close friends, but is well connected politically and financially. “Gamma 1, Epsilon Flight, Intel tells us this is an UEE freighter that was captured by the Vanduul three months ago and is being used to sneak covert sabotage teams into our systems. Engage target, now! Gamma Flight is two minutes out and will finish it off”

O’Brian checked his flight systems for the intel report, but it showed that no information was available, and his systems show no encrypted communications from the Artemis. He thought this odd, but sometimes the narrowband signals can get deflected by something as simple as a small unseen asteroid. UEE policy on patrol requires positive identification, so O’Brian kept to his course and gave commands to his flight to hold off attacking until the intel report was verified. As O’Brian and his wingman flew past the freighter to scan it, O’Brian took pause. Something wasn’t right. This ship was not a standard UEE design. The markings label the ship as Out World Alliance – OWA Beijing. O’Brian was not familiar with the OWA. There are many small groups like this on the outer fringes of the Empire, no time to really to know them all, and most didn’t choose to care enough to bother knowing even one. There were no signs of battle damage, or docked Vanduul ships. How could this ship be captured?

“Gamma 1, Epsilon 1, I said to engage the target, why has this not been done?” Shaw’s voice, broke the silence.

“Epsilon 1, Gamma 1, ship does not match intel report. Patrol poli…” O’Brian tried to reply…

“Don’t give me that policy crap O’Brian! I told you engage, so you better engage, or I’ll have your wings!” Shaw broke communication protocol in his anger. Shaw was notorious for his tantrums if he didn’t get his way. This exchange was short lived as the next broadcast was from the freighter…

“Imperial fighters! Do not attack! Please! We are unarmed civilians of the Out World Alliance! We have a thousand people, mostly families onboard!” The captain of the Freighter sounded distraught. This did not sound like Vanduul trickery…

“Attack that ship now!” Shaw’s furious screams came across the radio.

“Epsilon flight, take up over watch positions over this freighter until we verify its story” O’Brian decided to stick with protocol.

“O’Brian! You are in direct violation of my orders! A superior officer’s orders! Do as I say now or I will have you and wingmates thrown in the brig!” Epsilon 4 on hearing this opened fire at the freighter’s thrusters. O’Brian couldn’t even remember their names. They were new pilots fresh from the academy. He had not even had a chance to meet them officially yet. They arrived this morning and this was their shakedown patrol. As Epsilon 4’s cannon fire hit the thrusters there was a small explosion and the thrusters lost ignition.

“No! What are you doing! Please!  Somebody help us!” The captain of the freighter was broadcasting on a wideband SOS channel now. O’Brian acted quickly. He could not stand by and watch innocents get slaughtered. What is going on here? There is something sinister at work.

“Epsilon Flight! Protect that freighter! We are not going to butcher innocents!” O’Brian shouted into the radio, hoping someone on his flight would listen to reason. Shortly after this broadcast he noticed the Retaliators of Gamma flight were now in range and were lining up for a torpedo run. Epsilon 4 zoomed pass and began a turn to make another pass. It seems whomever that pilot is cares only for the orders of the highest ranking person, and not doing the right thing. Just then a young male voice breaks through the coms.

“Epsilon 3, Epsilon 1, I am engaging Epsilon 4 to stop him from attacking. I will not kill civilians!”

An enthusiastic but worried female voice followed with “Nor will I, sir! I am staying on your wing!” That must be Epsilon 2.

“God save us! Please!” A now tearful freighter’s captain’s voice came across the radio as the Retaliators fired a barrage of torpedoes. In the panic on the freighter’s bridge the ship’s captain accidentally crossed the open channel with the internal radio channels. Suddenly hundreds of voices were heard all talking over each other. Their voices could only be described with one word: Fear. Not the type of fear one feels when walking alone in the dark, but a deeper, darker fear, a fear that speaks of knowing the end is near and causes ones blood to run cold.

In the next few seconds Epsilon 2 broke off to engage the torpedoes, and Epsilon 3 started firing at Epsilon 4. O’Brian was angry, he has spent his life serving the Empire, and now when so close to earning his citizenship, he sees a side of the Empire he never knew existing. He thinks to himself, wondering if this is what he was supporting all those years of his life. He turned his fighter to engage the torpedoes. If he could stop the torpedoes, then he could take his flight recorder data to the ship and argue his case.

“Attention all flights! This is Admiral Koenig. Your wing commander, Captain Shaw has reported that Commander O’Brian and two of his flight have committed the act of treason and are protecting a Vanduul freighter and even firing on Imperial fighters. I will give a month’s credits to whomever kills or captures these traitors!” So his fate was now sealed. It appears that Shaw’s money not only bought him his position, but bought him the Admiral. O’Brian now wondered what would happen to his wife and son. Hopefully Shaw was not as vengeful as he was vicious.

“Epsilon 2 and 3, break and run for it. I will cover for you. Thanks for trying to do the right thing…” O’Brian trailed off as he opened fire on the swarm of torpedoes. Epsilon 2 had taken out several already, and then listened to his command to run for it. He saw her make a full afterburner pass past the freighter, using its mass to mask her escape. She was a good pilot with a solid mind, too bad things worked out this like for her. Epsilon 3 broke away from Epsilon 4 and tried to run for it. Both ships had managed to equally remove the shields of the other. As Epsilon 3 lit up his afterburners, Epsilon 4 fired a pair of heat seeking missiles at close range. The missiles both hit Epsilon 3’s Hornet and it vanished into a large fireball.

A torpedo had slipped by his efforts and impacted the freighter on the aft port side. The open broadcast with the freighter was still active, and he heard the explosion inside the ship, the groaning of metal as bulkheads gave way and ruptured. And screams. Many, many screams. The agony heard in some of the screams was terrible as their area of the ship gave way to open space, and the instant decompression did unspeakable things to the human body. Another loud explosion. Klaxons. Screeching metal. O’Brian could see the carnage as explosions burst out the sides of the ship. He could hear flames over the radio and the terrifying screams of humans being burned alive. Then suddenly, an explosion ruptured the compressed oxygen storage for life support and the hydrogen storage cells. When the two gasses bursting out of their containment mixed with the fired it sparked a massive explosion. The flash so bright, it was like looking directly at a sun. Then a panel off of the freighter smashed into the side of O’Brian’s Hornet, ripping the wing off and then lodging itself into the engine and reactor, and spinning the fighter so rapidly it caused O’Brian to hit his head hard against the cockpit support beams, his helmet only slightly buffering the impact. At least the screaming had stopped. Just a blackened chunk of twisted metal remained where the freighter once was. And silence. O’Brian’s fighter was completely dead except for the auxiliary battery powering life support and radio. He will be an easy target now. He hoped his death would come quicker than those on the freighter.

An almost arrogant sounding voice from Shaw broke the silence… “Well, look what we have here... Mr. O’Brian, know that I will not kill you, I have a fate worse than death planned for you. No one crosses me. No one. Your money, your career, your family. You just lost everything. When I am done with you, you will beg for death.”

O’Brian tried to respond, but the impact on his head proved too much, and he slowly lost consciousness as one of the Retaliators moved in to tow his ship with a tractor beam. 

The End

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