PHASE I : PRELUDE - THE ENSURED PROPHECY ( 18 of 23 )
: “ Fate Beckons
Light Carrier Battle Group Aurora (CVEBG-A)
In space near the TCS Endeavour
Garrison's head turned quickly from one side of his cockpit to another, feverishly scanning the surrounding space for a fighter he could chase down.
Explosions flashed in the dark, cold vacuum of space as fighter after fighter was downed by concentrated fire. Missile trails streaked past him and energy blasts lit up the sky while he tried to survive the onslaught of the enemy attack.
"Commander Garrison! Bravo 3 is down! Repeat, Bravo 3 is down!"
"Commander! We're losing ground! This invasion force is chewing us up!"
Similar messages came rifling through the comm system at regular intervals. They were outnumbered and outgunned. There was no way they would be able to come out of this in one piece. Their mission was to delay and damage the invasion force as much as possible before it got to Confederation space. Their best efforts barely scratched the surface.
He banked his fighter to the left quickly in order to evade an oncoming missile. It was a friend-or-foe missile. Lucky for him, it acquired a new target. Lucky for him, unlucky for the pilot it now chased.
Wave after wave of the enemy fleet emerged from the jump point. There was no way they could stop them. With a quick jerk of the flight stick, Garrison's fighter banked the opposite way. The thrust pod on the back of the Panther-class fighter he was in spun the fighter around farther than he expected. A simple miscalculation on his part... one that cost him dearly.
The fighter maneuvered itself right into the path of an oncoming missile.
There was no time to think, no time to react. It just hit him.
His fighter rocked under the impact of the missile and Garrison lost his focus. Sitting motionless for a second or two, he was at the mercy of enemy weapons fire. And they took advantage of the opportunity.
Tachyon and particle bursts showered his fighter, draining its shields, damaging the armor. His missile light lit up, most of his systems were damaged, and he had nowhere to go. A solid tone filled the cockpit... it sealed his fate. There was only one way out of this predicament.
The missile impacted, the fighter exploded in a brilliant fireworks display, and the simulator shut off.
Commander Heather Stevens tossed yet another data pad onto the desk in front of her and sat back in her seat. Now she knew why Confed gave her such a comfortable chair... they knew she'd be sitting in it for a very long time filling out reports and evaluations. She looked down at the table at the two piles of data pads, the larger one being that of incomplete work. Heather sighed heavily and walked over to the counter at the side of the room. She poured herself yet another cup of coffee, took a sip, and then quickly brought the cup away from her mouth with a look of disgust. "Damn cold!" she exclaimed to the empty room.
She looked down at the cup in her hand and took a deep, calming breath.
The entire crew including herself had been on the edge over the past little while as Confed HQ continually shuffled around with crew and battle group assignments. And now, with the Midway's reports of a new, powerful threat, the men and women onboard had become even more tense.
The door chime went off and Heather spun around, spilling her coffee all over the floor. She closed her eyes for a second and sighed. "Enter!" she said, once she regained her composure.
The door opened and Colonel Paul Taylor, the ship's WC, walked in, carrying a few more data pads. "My god," Heather complained. "Can't they stop sending me more work?!"
Taylor stood dumbfounded for a second before looking down at the data pads he was carrying and finally registering what she was complaining about. "Oh... these?" he said as he held up the pads. "These aren't for you. I have work to do myself, you know."
She sighed in relief and fell back into her chair. She was visibly exhausted. She looked limp as she lay down on the chair, her fiery red hair hastily tied up and her bloodshot green eyes drooping while she struggled to keep them open. "What can I do for you, Paul?" she asked wearily.
He shook his head. "Nothing. I just dropped by on my way to the flight deck to see how things were going," he replied.
Stevens gave him a particularly evil glare.
"How's it going?" she started. "I tell you, I can't believe those damned Confed bureaucrats! They've got us running around the sector, going from battle group to battle group. They've switched around our air wing who knows how many times, and I don't know how many damned personnel reviews I've had to do over the last three weeks because they keep shuffling our crew around!"
Taylor blinked. He made a mental note never to ask her that question again when they had a lot to do. Next time, he might regret it.
She took a deep breath and looked at Taylor. "Sorry, Paul. It's just been really hectic around here," she said apologetically.
He nodded. "I know. The flight deck hasn't been much better either. Our pilots have just gotten back from flight training in those new fighters we've acquired," he said. "Squadrons are still getting used to their new toys so it seems like the simulators will be booked solid in the next little while."
"How are the pilots handling it?" asked Stevens.
Taylor shrugged. "As well as can be expected I guess. They're doing pretty well in the new fighters, but now they're starting to get a bit tired and fatigued," he said.
"Well... in that case, I think we should give them some time - "
The loud chime indicated that there was a message waiting on Stevens' comm unit. "What now?" she muttered as she made her way over to her desk and activated the viewscreen.
"Stevens here. What's up?" she asked.
The image of a young ensign appeared on her screen. "Sorry to bother you, Commander," he started off. "But the Captain wanted me to inform you that we have just received new orders from Confed HQ."
An expression of disbelief washed over her face and Taylor rolled his eyes as the Ensign continued. "We've been ordered to rendezvous with elements of the Third Fleet and a Border World Task Force in Nephele to respond to an unknown threat in Border World space."
Stevens' look of disbelief turned into a look of concern. She nodded. "Acknowledged, Ensign. Tell the Captain that I'm on my way up to the bridge," she said before closing out the communications link.
"Looks like we're going to have to get ready faster than we thought we would," said Taylor as he made his way out the door with Stevens walking out behind him on her way to the bridge.
The doors of the lift opened and revealed a full view of the bridge to Stevens. She stepped quickly off of the lift and onto the floor of the bridge and looked around. There seemed to be a sense of urgency on the faces of the bridge crew. Obviously, everyone had the same terrifying idea of what they would be up against once they met up with their unknown threat.
Stevens walked up to the Captain who was sitting in the command chair that was on a raised platform in the middle of the bridge. He finished reading the report in his hand and looked at Stevens. She came to attention and saluted.
Captain Griffin raised his hand. "At ease, Commander," he said as he motioned for her to relax. "It looks like the Border Worlds have a problem on their hands. A big problem."
Stevens shifted slightly as her body became tense. Captain Griffin got up from his chair and walked slowly towards the large viewport at the front of the bridge. Stevens walked with him, keeping her distance. Griffin turned back to her and spoke quietly.
"Confed HQ has ordered us to report to the Nephele System in order to rendezvous with other elements of the Third Fleet," he said as he gazed out at the multitude of stars before him. "We will also be rendezvousing with the Border Worlds task force in the same system."
"Meeting up with a Confed fleet and a Border Worlds force? Sounds like we're going to have our hands full," remarked Stevens about their orders.
Griffin nodded. "Sounds like, Heather... sounds like. In any case, I want this crew prepped and prepared for anything. Last thing I want is for us to go in there without being organized."
Stevens nodded in acknowledgement. "Yes, sir. We'll get right to it," she replied. "When are we leaving for Torgo?" Torgo, HQ of the Third Fleet, was the first system on their way to Nephele.
Griffin looked to the officer at the helm control. "Are we set to proceed, Lieutenant?"
"Yes, sir," he replied.
Griffin looked back to Stevens. "Does that answer your question, Commander?"
Stevens rolled her eyes and grinned. "Yes, sir, it does," she said as she made her way to the lift. She could hear the captain order the ship to get underway as she walked into the lift and the doors closed behind her.
He watched from the window beside his seat in the lounge. Two Piranha-class scout fighters streaked past him on their way to the Endeavour's recovery bays. He also noticed that the ship had changed course and started heading in a different direction. Something was up. There had to be and he found out sooner than he expected to.
Garrison looked up at the questioning officer, a young ensign who was recently assigned to the ship and worked under the WC's direction.
"Yes, Lieutenant?" he replied.
"Colonel Taylor is requesting your presence at a meeting for the fighter wing's squadron commanders, sir," said the Lieutenant.
"Does he state the reason for the meeting?" Garrison asked.
The Lieutenant shook his head. "No, sir. But he did say that it was of utmost importance."
Garrison nodded and got up from the table. He looked to the bartender and held up a credit chip for him to see and placed it on the table before he walked out of the lounge.
"Approaching the jump point to the Torgo System, Captain," reported the officer at the helm.
"Acknowledged, helm," replied Captain Griffin. He flipped a switch on the armrest of the command chair and activated the ship-wide public address system. "All stations, prepare for jump," he ordered.
The crew on the bridge quickly made their way to their stations and sat down. Commander Stevens stood by the command chair and held onto the back of it to stabilize herself during the jump.
Captain Griffin looked around to make sure all of the bridge officers were in place before giving his next order. "Signal the battle group to proceed through the jump point. Engine room, activate jump engines."
The Endeavour's engines flared and propelled the ship forwards as the jump point ripped open the fabric of space. Blue and white energy wrapped itself around the vortex that was the jump tunnel and reached out to the Endeavour and her battle group. One by one, the ships of Battle Group Aurora were engulfed by electrostatic energy as they proceeded through the jump point and towards the fate the universe had bestowed on them.