Episode 9

Outer World Alliance, New Haven Reconnaissance Patrol, Halycon System

Lieutenant Jillian Fisher shook her head furiously in the cockpit of her small M50 scout craft. The universe continues to surprise her. Both in how expectations can be shattered and how consistent human nature has been over the ages. A month ago she graduated the United Empire of Earth’s naval academy, valedictorian of her class no less. Her instructors thought she would make a fast track to command ranks after a brief stint in fighters. Yet, here she was, floating silently in space monitoring events in Halcyon now outcast from the Empire and scouting for fringe government called the Outer World Alliance. And yet, even on the fringes there are those who let greed and the mindless thirst for power rule their life.

Two weeks ago she was assigned to a flight of Hornets off of the UEES Artemis, the first ship named such since the original ill-fated AI controlled Artemis took off to the unknown, never to be seen again. It was her first sortie. She remembered being so nervous and excited that Commander O’Brian pulled her aside before launch and reassured her that she would do fine and that she should follow his orders and follow her training. She remembered feeling slightly insulted that he did not mention anything about her scores in school or any other high marks in her history that littered the inside of her record book. Ultimately, none of it mattered anymore after the first shots were fired at the freighter. She tried to help, but was ordered away by O’Brian, which likely saved her life. She knew that her career was over, just as it began, but she spent a lot of time reflecting that a career built on the deaths of innocents was no career worth having. She recalled an ancient manuscript that is revered by many in the Outer World Alliance said it as “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?”

When she fled, she masked herself between the freighter and the system’s asteroid belt and made a run for it. No one saw her escape. It was in the asteroid belt that she was intercepted by hidden OWA forces. She surrendered to them and was transported to the New Haven system, although they did relieve her of her Hornet fighter. It was there that she was introduced to Lieutenant Franklin. After relaying the story and its corroboration by her ship’s flight recorder, she was offered immediate entrance into the OWA as a scout pilot. Since she was now jobless and homeless, she took up Franklin on the offer. She also felt it was in some way honoring those who lost their lives on the freighter.

A lot happened over the last two weeks. It started with Franklin infiltrating the carrier by sneaking onto the Advocacy Freelancer when it refueled at an orbital station near Terra. Fisher has been practically living out of her M50 for those two weeks except for brief periods to refuel and freshen up. She has been shadowing the Artemis and receiving secret narrow beam communications which she then relayed back to New Haven by flying the jump point. OWA command felt that attempting to rescue O’Brian was worth the risk, as he would be an excellent asset to the OWA and their plans to secure their full independence from the Empire, as well as a way to highlight to the loyalists in the OWA territory the excesses and corruption that is at work in the Empire.

Then today, everything got spun around on her, yet again. The patrol group under the command of Captain Malachi was supposed to meet up with Franklin and five others, including Commander O’Brian.  Yet, hours ago she saw the Retaliator bomber she was tracking get ambushed and nearly destroyed by Malachi’s patrol. There was little radio communication, even after they boarded the bomber. Malachi had orders to return to New Haven with the rescued crew, but instead she saw the patrol group branch off and starting making way for the Elysium jump point. “Betrayal, again?” Fisher wondered out loud.  She decided to break silence and punched the throttle on the M50 to maximum, enjoying the g-forces strongly pushing her back in the seat. If there was one perk to sitting in the cramped cockpit in the small craft, it was the rather exciting acceleration that the M50 was capable of.

Soon she was in communication range of Malachi’s patrol. “Apollo 1, Helios 1 Actual, Please acknowledge and update on course”. She sternly asked into the radio. This sudden change in direction without updates on orders had her on guard.

“Helios 1 Actual, Apollo 1, we acknowledge.” The reply back was terse and ignored the request for the updates on their course.

“Helios 1, your heading is different than your orders state, please explain” Fisher was frustrated. She really wanted to broadcast a profanity laced message to the entire Helios flight, but she knew that it would not change the situation.

“Apollo 1, we have no need for your assistance. I..” with a dramatic pause after a strongly emphasized self-proclamation,”…have a destiny to fulfill on Earth. It will bring to completion all we have hoped to accomplish. And more! Now please, silence your comms so you don’t betray our presence!” The voice that gave this message was a strange tone and completely emotionless.

Fisher’s M50’s sensor package picked up a datalink from a secret transmitter that Franklin had in her personal effects on the Idris corvette. Fisher waited from the ships computer to download the broadcasted data and then spun her M50 around and set a course direct to the New Haven jump point. She had to alert the OWA military command of this new development. She knew Franklin was on that ship, and somehow she was broadcasting the data (unknown to her that Doctor Saeed activated the transmitter without knowing that he did so). As she roared off to the jump point she started to review Franklin’s data. After viewing it, she was in a near panic. She thought to herself “It all makes sense now! And to think….” Her thoughts drifted off into a thousand different directions as she took in the implications of the data she was looking at.

Ten minutes later Fisher’s M50 appeared in New Haven system. As soon as she entered normal space she put full power to the engine and lit the afterburners heading to the makeshift space station that served as the military headquarters. It was given the ever appropriate name of “Derelict Station”. As the station was constructed out of the patched together hulls of ships that have long exceeded their service lives with some customizations for turrets, armor, and hanger decks. It was somewhat similar to Spider, although with much more proper government and order.

“Apollo 1, Derelict Station, I am in inbound hot with emergency. ETA 60 minutes” Fisher transmitted to the station via the communication relay placed near the jump point. A few minutes passed as the message was transmit and traveled across the system to the station.

After some delay a reply came back “Derelict Station, Apollo 1, acknowledge, inbound hot. We have you on our long range scanners. You are cleared for emergency landing in Hanger Lima Three. What is the nature of the emergency?”

“Not on an open channel. I need to have assembled the entire high command, congress, even the president as well. This needs to go all the way to the top and everyone else in between. I need a data retrieval terminal immediately on landing and seal off the landing bay with maximum security. Don’t question me on this, just get it going!” Fisher explained rapidly, her mind racing to assemble a coherent analysis of the data she has with her. She didn’t want to talk any further, and turned off her communication system. She hoped that the sudden loss of communication would get a panic going and get her exactly what she asked for. 

The End

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