Michael Spectre, a newly qualified Pilot of the Interstellar Manufacturing Corporation, heads out to the Frontier. An area of galactic space unexplored by general civilisation, in this area the IMC battles with the rebel Militia, using Mech warfare to batter each other into submission Michael goes to the Frontier chasing the ghost of his brother. But when his squad is killed and he is captured by the Militia truths are revealed that make him question the very reason he fights at all...

‘Hey Jacob,’ Michael said carefully, removing his midnight blue beret and scrunching it between his hands. ‘Sorry I’ve not come in a while, you know why I’ve been so busy I suppose, but I still feel bad for not seeing you more often.’ He admitted. ‘But this will be the last time I’ll be coming for a long time man…I passed Pilot training. Magna cum Laude. Top three of the class, top gun, just like you. I even broke some of your old records,’ a laugh broke out of him then, remembering how proud he’d felt at seeing his name up on that wall. Breaking training records that had lasted damn near a decade.

‘Don’t worry though, your time on the rifleman’s course still stands. I really don’t know anyone that will beat that one, but I beat your sniper record, people said it was because of our newer mark of sniper rifle but I think it’s bollocks,’ he said, stifling another laugh. ‘So both our names are up on the wall now, side by side, I can’t tell you how proud I felt when I saw that Jacob…I felt so damn good.

‘When I stood up today to receive my uniform in front of the whole academy the Colonel pinned the distinguished training medal to my chest and told me how much I reminded him of you. That felt good too,’ coughing the emotion out of his voice Michael looked to the side, blinking away tears and scrunching the beret a little bit tighter. ‘Anyway, I get shipped out tomorrow. They originally wanted me in the Meridian Peninsula, guarding shipping lanes and other bullshit assignments.

‘But I talked to Colonel Eisenhower, told him I wanted placing on the Frontier. He tried to convince me out of it, like I knew he would and I’m sure like he did with you. But…I think he understood, I’m not as good as you with a carbine but I’m still better than everyone else in my class. And my skills with the new Longbow sniper rifles impressed the Admirals out there…I think I’m the only pilot in history to actually ask to be put on the Frontier, most people in my class wanted the job I got. But I just couldn’t.’

Clearing his throat Michael paused, not knowing exactly how to finish what he had to say. He’d practiced this so many times in his head, choosing what to say, how to say it…in his heart he knew what he was doing was the right thing. It was his dream. To join the IMC as a Pilot, the best of the best, the utter elite.

It had always been his dream. It had always been their dream…

Michael couldn’t have imagined how Jacob must have felt when he got stationed, leaving his younger brother with a foster family, having to say goodbye to him at the door of their apartment complex. It was the only time Michael ever remembered seeing him cry, even when they were broke and sleeping on a park bench, Jacob never broke down.

But that day…how did he feel? Did he feel like Michael did now? Saying goodbye…

Looking at the white marble gravestone with his brother’s name chiseled onto it Michael felt tears sting at the corner of his eyes. Michael stood, the only living person in a field of white memorials devoted to soldiers and pilots who had lost their lives in the Expansion Conflicts, Titan Wars and the ongoing fights in the Frontier. Jacob had gone out there as one of the best Pilot’s trained in decades, he won seven different commendations for his acts in the field and the Titan Medallion, posthumously, for the final act of valor that had ultimately cost him his life.

The ship his platoon was based on, the IMS Lincoln, was attacked by the renegade militia that prowled the Frontier and attacked the IMC every chance it got. They’d raided the ship with Titans of their own, slaughtered people in their beds…Jacob had got up and fought through the bowls of a burning ship to get to his Titan, covering the crews retreat to the escape pods.

Ten thousand souls were aboard that vessel. Less than eight-hundred made it out alive.

He remembered the day Colonel Eisenhower had come to the house, he’d been a captain back then…Michael had cried for days. They told him they found parts of his Titan in the debris field of the Lincoln, floating away with broken remains of the ship; but his body was never found.

Which was why Michael was talking to a slab of stone right now, not the bones beneath it.

‘I leave at zero-eight-hundred tomorrow morning. IMS Assegai, built in the orbital docks of Earth herself, one of the biggest ships to come out of the Sol system for years according to Jessie…I get assigned my Titan a few weeks after that. We were wondering what class of Titan’s we were going to get given…’ Staring at the chiseled words carved onto the gravestone Michael let a tear fall down his face.

Captain Jacob Spectre. Killed in Action. Died with Honour.

‘I’ll do you proud Jacob. I promise you that, I just wish you could have seen me today. I’ll miss you bro, I’ll probably keep voice recordings to you, the other people on the ship might think I’m mad but I don’t care. I’ve been talking to you everyday since you left, I’m not going to stop now because we’re going to be twelve billion miles away.’ Michael said finally. Brushing away the last of the tears Michael placed his beret back onto his head, straightened his back and saluted the memorial to the only family he’d ever had. ‘I love you Jake.’

Marching across the well worn footpaths between the gravestones of Memorial Valley he looked up at the pink flowered blossom trees that lined the roads around the fields, their flesh coloured petals being blown on the strong spring winds that hit Escolara this time of year. Jessie smiled as he approached, sitting against the hood of the car in her dress uniform, navy blue beret with its IMC badge sitting front and centre, her skirt hiked up higher than the uniforms dress code allowed.

But she rarely ever stuck to any of the IMC’s hundreds of regulations.

‘Hey,’ she said softly. Kind blue eyes meeting his deep and thoughtful green ones. ‘You okay?’

‘Yeah,’ he said. Feeling a sudden weight lift of his shoulders. ‘Never better.’

‘Good,’ she said, springing off the hood and standing in front of him with a huge beaming smile. ‘Because we ship out for the Frontier tomorrow, and we need you on form.’ She said, getting into the front of the car.

Here it comes…

‘Can’t have you balling your eyes out all the way over there can we?’

‘There it is.’ He whispered under his breath with a smile. Jessie had been his best friend ever since they entered the academy together, Michael may have graduated Magna Cum Laude, but Jessie got Summa Cum Laude. She wasn’t as good as he was with guns, but she could get in any class of any Titan and make the damn things dance.

And her test scores in virtual combat simulations were off the charts.

Not even Michael could beat her there, and he was sure she’d never let him forget it for as long as they served together. Getting into the car with Jessie the seat registered his weight and turned on the engine, it’s onboard computer waiting for him to give it an address.

Taking one last look at the field of marble gravestones Michael felt the Titan Medallion in his pocket through the fabric of the dress jacket, Goodbye Jacob. ‘You ready?’ asked Jessie.

‘Yeah. I think I am.’ Michael said, smiling at Jessie in the seat beside him. ‘Computer, Escolara Space Port.’ As the car pulled away entirely of its own accord Jessie laughed and looked at him with a huge smile.

‘Lets go to work.’

The End

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