The Back Of the Hanger was thumping when they walked in, just as they hoped, or would make it do before long. A normal Friday night there was already well packed, as it was the best place on Kennedy Joint Fleet Training Center to blow off some steam besides the gym, but tonight was so much more. They had walked into the club five strong two years ago as fresh Lieutenants from their first tour on the destroyer Bellafountaine. Now they walked in as Captains, masters of their own vessels and leaders among their crews in a war hundreds of light-years away.
Not that any of that mattered tonight. Right now, it was time to vent, to drink and to remember what it was they had pushed themselves so hard to protect. And to remember what not being stuck in lectures or drills for ungodly lengths of the day felt like.
“Alright, ladies and gents…and Theo, first round’s on me!” Freddy Theron announced, doling out the various brews and smaller shots to toast properly.
“Yea, yea, you’re just jealous you’ll be doing convoy runs with the Warsaw, while me and Gabe got on a frontline ship,” Theodore Rennal retorted, stacked bronze frame leaning back on his seat. “Don’t worry, we’ll send you some deep-fried crabmeat, won’t we mate?” he punctuated by slapping his smaller cohort on the back.
Gabe Knotsworth smiled while adjusting light-framed spectacles, “Damn straight, though while you’re all snug on the bridge, I’m the one cutting up Bri’nell one fighter at a time…not that you could ever pull off a slam-turn around the course.”
“And a frigate is the smallest ship they could find to hold your heads inside their walls,” chimed in the woman at Freddy’s side, Annabelle Taylor. Ginger locks played daringly over her eyes as she reached for her drinks, only to collide with Freddy’s hand. “Oh my… excited aren’t we, Mister Theron?”
Freddy chuckled and gave her a light shoulder bump, “Well, it is a big night. After all, next week we’ll be doing status reports and duty rosters and all that other boring mess. Oh yea, and something about a fight in there, somewhere…”
“Sure, only after the Bri’nell fill out the right paperwork,” Gabe added, air signing the forms in order.
“How does a freakin crustacean like that even write? Do they hold it in their teeth?” Theo wondered aloud, miming pincers clicking closer and closer to Annabelle before she shooed them off. “Do you really wanna know?”
“Not unless they come served with butter cream sauce.”
She just shook her head to that, “There’s something wrong with you. Hey, Brook? You okay?”
Cerulean eyes suddenly jumped up from her wristscreen when Brooklyn Caine was summoned back to reality, “Huh, wha…? Oh, sorry Anna, was just reading about the Charleston. Did you know that her engineer got a commendation for overloading their drive core to escape a planetary collision? Do you think he’ll put those modifications back in if I ask him to?”
“Really?” Gabe asked. “What did he do, jam open the injector chambers to dump in more fuel? I wrote about how that might be doable in our Tactical Command Maneuvers class.”
“Even better, he actually reinforced the compression chamber with spare shielding plates so it could take almost triple the intermix pressure and…”
“Okay, okay…didn’t we establish a two-drink minimum on technobabble?” Theo injected with a raising of his shot and a grin. “To the crews who entrust us with their lives,…”
“…to those who came before, and to those who will follow…”Annabelle continued.
“…we take the sword and shield of valor and pride…” Gabe followed.
“…and we will uphold our duties to the highest honor…” Brook sustained.
“…and so earn our title and traditions as ‘Captain’.” Freddy finished, leading to the clinking of a quintet of glasses and five different recoils for the unrelenting burn of a fine cut tequila.
Suddenly, the bass thump went dead, with conversations slinking down to low whispers of confusion. They all looked to each other with shrugs and furrowed brows when the command cut through the night and brought tension en masse along with it. “ATTENTION ON DECK!”
On trained instinct, everyone in the building snapped to proper pose, drinks set down or clenched tightly with white knuckles. Within the silence came the heavy bootsteps of an aged, but not old, man in full regalia. The crowd swiftly parted to let him pass as Freddy whispered to Gabe “Admiral Fawthorne?”
“Yea, Commanding Officer of the entire Unified Space Command…what’s he doing here?”
“Must be big news,” Annabelle added as the senior man took center stage.
Before he spoke to them all, Freddy watched the Admiral scan the room from wall to wall, which made his blood chill. For all the instructors he’d had and all the answers he’d given on a prayed that they were right, never had he felt so apprehensive about what he was about to hear.
“Captains,” the Admiral began, “Ensigns…Marines and their riflemen…Squadron Leaders and their pilots, and to all those who serve their world. The order I am about to give is a heavy one, and it is a burden I must lay upon you all, the finest men and women to wear the uniform. Into your hands, the people of Earth commit the future, and into your hearts I call you all to arms. Because they need you to… and because I know you will succeed.”
With that, the leading officer took a pad from his pocket and read the order, “To all personnel of the Unified Space Command, I , Admiral Carl Fawthorne, initiate Recall Procedure Omega. All crews will report to Nassau Space Control Complex in three hours for deployment to their assignments. All leaves and other service releases are rescinded until further notice.”
Again, he scanned the room to see them all, however stone-faced they were on the outside. Freddy could feel his pulse in his temple, could see Brook’s eyes wide with anxiety. This is it…this is the push we’ve been waiting for! Time to drive those damned crabs back into the void!
“Good luck to you all out there, and may the angels of mercy watch over you all. Company, DISMISSED!”
In a fluid wave, the Admiral snapped his salute to them, as they did to him with the only response they knew they could give “YES, SIR!” And just as he had come, their commander left in restrained atmosphere. And no sooner was he gone than the frenzy began. Conversation exploded anew as surges of bodies made their way to the closest doors. Freddy made sure his grip was steady on Annabelle’s hand as they swam through the masses, with Gabe, Brook and Theo right behind. The streets were packed with people rushing for their rides or to their dormitories, so Freddy led them around a back walkway just to get them out of the crush.
“Holy…shit…” was the best response Theo could muster once they were outside.
“No kidding, bro! We must’ve found a way though their lines!” Gabe pondered aloud with no small grin. “Time to pay those bastards back for Antares!”
“Oh, hell yes! I’m gonna drive the Seiryuu all the way to the Bri’nell homeworld! See how those bastards like an orbital bombardment!” Annabelle added, as much excitement as it was venom.
“Guys…” Brook piped in, barely a squeak in the wind, but it caught them all with a punch. Following her eyes to her wrist, they found her staring at the Memorial Wall, that sacred display where all those that had fallen since the war began were honored. Each of them could remember in exact detail when it came their turn to upload a single name into that Wall, a heavy lesson in duty and the weight of being a Captain.
And it was suddenly several dozen feet longer than what it was yesterday, with thousands of new names burned into the holographic display. “The Charleston… the Warsaw… the Seiryuu,” she read with breaking sobs. Each name carrying the weight of the hundreds who served aboard them, along with one they had come to know so very well already.
“The Bellfountaine! Those monsters took it too!” Theo growled.
“They even destroyed the Valhalla! That was our newest carrier!” Freddy stuttered after snapping back into reality. “It was the flagship of the Polaris Fleet…if it’s gone, then…”
The realization hit them all with ice. Gabe had to brace against the wall, Brooke rubbing his arm. Theo quickly ran behind a corner as to not sicken the others. Freddy simply fell onto his tailbone next to Annabelle, “They’ve destroyed the Polaris Fleet. All of it. Two hundred ships…thousands of people…dead. The only thing left between the Bri’nell and Earth is us…”
“That’s not entirely true.” Another voice answered them from the shadows, cloaked in a longcoat and capped in fedora.
“Who the heck are you?” Brook was first to ask, to which the stranger tipped his hat. “My name is Dr. Sanrah, Space Command Special Projects. And you are all coming with me.”
“Yeah, no. We don’t have the time to go do, well whatever it is you want us for. We have a planet to save.” Theo injected as he wiped his lips clean.
“You have no idea how right you are.” The doctor grinned, “In fact, you five are going to do more than the rest of the Fleet combined. I dare say, you five are going to win this war for humanity.”
“How?” Freddy asked dumbfounded.
Sanrah responded simply with one word, “Trinity.”
This was something I wrote for my Creative Writing course that I wanted to share, as this idea has evolved quite a bit since the first sparks and doodles oh so many years ago. I do hope to show you more of this universe as well in the future.
And I hope you all enjoy!