Vadim Darwin grinded his teeth in annoyance when he saw the UNS shuttle drop from the skies. Though such happenings were common back when he was still a captain in the UNS navy, he had since resigned after the Ares War and returned to work his family farm on a peacefull corner of Centauri, out of the way of the Cantharans and far from the reach of the beaurocratic UNS government. The few times the UNS had bothered to contact him was when they wanted something from him.
They didn't even ask if they could land on my strip, he grumbled, they damn well have some nerve...
Vadim watched as the pre-war colonial shuttle touched down on the dirt road, whipping up a massive cloud of dust and dirt. By the time the swirling clouds of debris had cleared, a figure had already clambered out of the boxy and dusty ship and was making his way up the road towards the farm. Vadim gave a saw as the figure came into view, and moved to intercept him. He was the first one to speak.
"You've got a lot of guts showing up here again, Peter."
Peter seemed somewhat taken aback at first, ready with a quick retort but keeping his mission in mind, resisted. "Hullo Vadim." he hazarded, hoping to establish some friendly feelings. Vadim ignored the greeting and cut straight to the point.
"What do you want now?"
Peter, sensing friendly feelings would never be established, gave in. "Vadim, the UNS needs you."
Vadim started shaking his head and backing off. "Ohhh no you don't. I resigned from the Navy over six years ago, after the war. I'm a civilian now and you can't draft me again."
"Please, Vadim, at least hear me out."
Vadim sighed. Peter always played negotiator. "Alright, but make it quick."
"Hollister, Admiral of the Fleet, has been captured by the Cantharans."
That got Vadim's attention.
"What can I say, Peter, it's a shame. Who's replacing him?"
"That's the problem. All the senior staff were onboard his carrier when it was captured. The fleet's split into three pieces among his remaining generals now."
"Clever." Vadim smirked. "Now the Canth's have leveled the playing field-"
"-we need to get him back." Peter interrupted, not wishing to digress from his planned topic.
"And where do I come in?"
"We're stretched thin, Vadim. We're immobilized and don't know how to go about rescuing Hollister. We're going to open communications to the Prophets of Salril."
"Oh no, buster, you've got the wrong man." Vadim instantly started protesting. "Not me. Nuh uh."
"Please." Peter persisted in a stern and pleading voice. "You're the only man who has dealt with the Salrilians in the past twenty years who still lives."
A long silence fell over the two.
Vadim gave another sardonic sigh. "Alright." He reluctantly agreed. "I'm in."
* * * * *
The room was completely black, save for a set of glowing red Cantharan eyes. The shroud of silence was broken as the Admiral rose from meditation to meet his advisor.
"Your report, Captain Hop?" He queried from his throne. "I trust the operation is proceeding as planned?"
It was the Captain's turn to speak. "Yes my lord. Our corsairs have located the target system." He seemed quite pleased with himself. "In Seventy-four hours, our fleet can invade, and lay waste to the Argomesion Capital."
* * * * *
The Medical Frigate UNS Manheim banked into position over the Salrilian Badlands, it's hull sheepishly displaying the scorch marks characteristic with the journey taken to it's current position. Bands of plasma danced all around, reminding Captain Peter Welsh of the spectacular tornado storms he saw on Mars when he was a boy.
"Now, nothing to do but wait." Vadim commented, drumming his hands on the helm out of boredom.
"Are you sure this is the right place?"
Vadim shot Peter a sharp look. "They knew we were coming before we even spoke. They'll be here any minute now."
On cue, the plasma clouds before the Manheim burst to reveal the massive shining carrier before them. There was total comm silence as it drew closer to within a few hundred kilometers. Peter was heavily startled at it's sudden and unannounced appearance.
"Do... do we raise our shields?" He stammered, eyes still fixed on the gleaming ship before him in a trance-like gaze.
Vadim faked a chuckle to mask his slight nervousness. "I dunno... never been this close before."
"They're waiting..." Peter noted as the carrier hung outside, motionless and silent as it dwarfed the UNS frigate.
* * * * *
Like a terrible disease, Audemed spread thickly over what resistance Salril could offer, plowing through entire blockades of their finest ships like a massive bulldozer. Audemed wriggled from the heart of Salrilian Space towards the border, towards escape and freedom from the worm slave masters. In the heat of battle, Audemed felt a jolt of terror dance down it's coils as it sensed a far greater power nearby.
Big brother was watching.
* * * * *
This is the S.N.S. Silent Grace to the U.N.S. Manheim. We know what you are doing and will halt any advances into unknown space due to risk of encounter. (general) Harthus requests permission to board.