It was complete anarchy inside of New Tuscany. The battle inside of the colony was becoming so fierce that the smoke was becoming a choking hazard in certain places. The resistance forces were gathered in certain sectors, with the citizens picking up fallen soldiers weapons to defend their families, now that they were the targets of the Red Guard. Telling friend from foe was so hard that the Red Guard was often getting involved in firefights with their own people. It was a war zone, with the fields of wheat and orchards of fruit burning in the background. It didn’t help when the environmental controls went offline, and the rain started to downpour.
The flame-wielding Special was on his own mission, to find whoever was leading this madness and put this person in the ground. As it happened, Archer was running back to the port, to get out of this colony. With the space battle looking worse and worse, he wanted to get out of here as soon as he could. His security force was almost there, when several members of the resistance came running at them. However, Archer was no slouch in battle. He had a rapier hanging from his side, and he knew how to use it. As a woman with a couple of knives was running at him, he nearly cleaved her head clean off. Another man was sliced through the middle. A dark smile came to his face as he ran the man through. Stupid Colonials! We should have killed the lot of you ages ago! You serve no function to the planet anymore! Now you shall pay for your arrogance!
The Special caught sight of him, running. His flames went out as giant fireballs, smashing into the rearguard and blowing them to pieces.
“Archer!” he screamed.
Archer looked up, his eyes going wide. A Special?! Why on Earth would they be helping the Insurgents?! “Kill him! Kill him now!” The man didn’t bother to stick around to see if his people survived. The port was right there, and it was time to go.
Outside of New Tuscany, it was no better. The Red Guard was running out of fighters. Their enemy had numbers and surprise on them. It was turning the tide of this battle very quickly. Archer’s second-in-command was trying to organize their forces, but the truth was that they could barely tell where the enemy was half of the time. They were using the colony itself as a means to hide their vessels, taking pot-shots at them whenever possible. The flagship’s burst-shield was holding out, but they couldn’t do that much longer. They only had so many rounds of kinetic bursts in there, and with only five ships left supporting them, this was looking grim.
Inside the port, Madison was running with the rest. The forces inside had already been dispatched. Dozens of soldiers in dark green uniforms were standing in front of the Red Guard’s shuttle. They had also taken the variance fighter pilots prisoner. The person leading them was a younger man, with dark skin and a scar running down his face.
“All civilians, we have ships waiting to evacuate you! Head to the shuttles with the dragon symbol on them! Keep moving! Don’t stop to wait. We will help any other who arrive onto different shuttles. Please, keep moving!”
As if they needed to be told otherwise. The people were scared, not knowing what to do. Some were grabbing fallen weapons and running back out into the fight. For Madison’s part, she knew that a shuttle wasn’t where she was headed. She wanted to get as far away from this mess, which meant one thing.
She ran over to one of the variance fighters, jumping up and using the low-gravity to over the cockpit. She grabbed the hatch, rolling inside. It closed behind her. All her years of mechanical engineering had taught her how to control a variance fighter. The machine was in stand-by mode, so she didn’t need the control code. That was the first step in the right direction. Several soldiers noticed the systems powering on, grabbing the officer in the room.
He looked over, but didn’t seem concerned.
Inside the fighter, Madison got the thrusters working, boosting herself up. The vehicle turned toward the door with the control boosters, then blasted out. She was scared for her family, but she wanted to get away from all this. She wasn’t a soldier, and this wasn’t what she wanted to be doing with her life. Her family would be okay. These soldiers in green would get them out. For her, she knew a safe place to go, and it wasn’t too far. The onboard computer came on, with her charting a course that would take her to Luna. There was an old friend that she wanted to see.
The woman at the head of the fleet opposing the Red Guard smiled. It was just as their tactical forecaster had predicted. The enemy’s fleet was in disarray. While she wanted to destroy the entirety of their enemy, that was not the goal that their Admiral had provided them. There was to be one surviving vessel. They already knew ship it was going to be.
Archer was terrified. Alone, with the enemy in control of the port, he didn’t know what to do next. They were waiting for him. That much was clear. If these Insurgents get their hands on me, they’ll use me as a pawn in their folly against the Confederation! I won’t let myself be a hostage to these people! It was then that he saw that the shuttle was still powered up. All I need to do is to get onboard! After that, the auto-navigation can get me back to Fleet Command! The man started moving quietly, making sure to stay out of sight. These soldiers, they were helping the Colonials onto the shuttles. Of course, they’d help their own! Bleeding traitors! They’ll all get their due once the Red Guard has mobilized! He got behind one of the fighters, hearing an explosion just outside that drew everyone’s attention. It was his chance. He was like a cat, moving to the exit stairs and running inside. He used his command authorization to emergency-lock the door. Everyone turned suddenly, looking inside.
The commander of the troops was calm. “That you, Rear Admiral Archer? That you in there, trying to weasel your way out? You always were a coward. I suppose this shouldn’t surprise me.”
The intercom inside the shuttle came on. “Tough words, coming from a pathetic Colonial! You little rats are going to get your just deserts, once the remainder of the Red Guard comes here! You think that you can outgun the entire navy?! You think that you can stand tall against all of us?! We’ll show you for just the dogs you are soon enough! Until then, I have a fleet to get back to. I’ll see you all in Hell!” The boosters came online.
“Everyone, get back!”
“Are there weapons on that thing?!” a soldier asked.
“Negative, but those boosters can still cook you if you’re too close! Get behind the cargo crates! Make sure to get the civilians there as well!” They hastily obeyed, getting everyone behind there. The shuttle lifted off, turning toward the exit. It got past the particle barrier that was used to keep air in the port bay, heading out into space.
“I just let the fleet know that Archer is making his escape, sir. He won’t get far.”
The commander had a dark smile. “Oh, indeed!”
At that moment, Archer felt so victorious. He had gotten away from the insurgents. Now, he was able to link up with his people and get out of here. Soon, he would make them pay. He would make them all pay for this humiliation. Everybody would feel the wrath of the rest of his fleet. He would take that pompous commander inside the port and show him who he was fucking with. That much, he was certain. The shuttle cleared the port, heading off toward his ship.
He hailed his second-in-command. “I’m headed back to the ship! Prepare to move out! We’re leaving!”
Onboard his flagship, the Executive Officer, along with most of the rest, were appalled. “Sir, you can’t be serious?! We’re just leaving them here?! They are our own people!”
Archer snarled into the comm. “I won’t let these pathetic insurgents beat me, Captain! I refuse to do that! If they could not even pacify this level of resistance, then screw them! Now, prepare the ship to leave, do I make myself clear?!”
The man’s fist and teeth were clenched as he replied, “yes sir. Perfectly.”
Archer smiled, finally feeling in-control again. Just then, the comm got taken over.
“Ah, Rear Admiral Archer, if I presume.” It was the woman who commanded the green-uniformed soldiers.
“Speaking. Who the hell are you?!”
Her professional demeanor didn’t change. “I am also a Rear Admiral. Rear Admiral Valetta Price. Commander of the 2nd Fleet of the Colonial Alliance. At your service.”
Archer snorted, “Ha! An ‘Alliance,’ is it? It doesn’t matter. You Colonials are all the same – trash who should have been swept away once the orbital elevator was completed. The universe won’t miss you once you’re gone.”
She shook her head, seeming disgusted. “You’re pathetic, Archer. A cowardly man who hides behind his rank and his privilege. People like you were supposed to have been outdated after the fall of the Empire. But it seems that you live on.”
He let out a cold laugh. “That’s rich! The Empire was the best thing that could have happened to this world! It isn’t my fault that that dyke Empress and her Winter’s Shadow believed otherwise. But now we can help make up for the mistakes of the past. You and your little Colonial rats will be the first to feel our wrath!” His laughter continued. Little did he know that this was being broadcasted across the colonies.
“You have made your choice, Rear Admiral. Be at peace with it.”
As she said that, a variance fighter swooped in right in front of the shuttle. Archer’s eyes went wide as he saw it bring its weapon to bear. It was in combat mode, with an almost human-looking arm carrying a rifle.
“How did I get beaten by a bunch of Colonials?!” In a split-second, that didn’t even matter anymore. The shuttle was blasted to pieces. Archer was no more.
The Executive Officer stared on in horror, but quickly snapped out of it.
“Alright, call all ships in! It’s clear that the enemy is too much. We’re falling back! Our commander is gone, the colony has been completely contained by the enemy and their forces are moving in. Our people can’t save them now. We must move to save who we can! All forces, protect the remaining vessels as we retreat!” They moved fast to follow their orders.
On the bridge of their flagship, Price watched them go.
“Should we pursue, ma’am?”
She shook her head. “No. I think we’ve done enough for today. We have to save the people inside New Tuscany first. We have made our move. Now, we shall see what the powers that be do in response.”
“Powers that be, ma’am?”
“The Red Guard isn’t the only force out there, Lieutenant. There is another.”
Inside of the colony, the rain had stopped. The clouds no longer could sustain it. As the smoke was clearing, the Special was standing on the roof of a building. People were cheering. He had become a symbol, as had the troops in green who came in, helping to take the colony back from the people who were massacring them.
At his desk, at fleet command, Admiral Plamondon had seen the broadcast. Inside, he was enraged at Archer. He had done EXACTLY what he told him not to do – send the people into their arms. But this new group, who was different than the last ones who had attacked, it got his attention. Right as he was thinking it over, another broadcast came on. It was the symbol of the dragon. On the screen there was a man, dressed in the same uniform, older and seasoned. His hair was grey, but the model of a military man.
“Attention, people of the Earth! My name is Marshall Beckett, son of Thomas Beckett, the first President of the United Confederation of Nations. I am here to announce the Colonies secession from Earth’s control!”
Far away, on her own flagship, Audra was in shock. Thomas?! Why?!
“For too long, we have let the wanton violence and destruction of these Earth-nationalists go unchallenged! As a man who has come to call these people family and friends, I cannot sit idly by and watch as the Colonies get laid to waste! Today has been the first salvo! To the forces of the Earth, prepare yourselves! The war has just begun!”
On Luna, the Fox and Harley watch, both seeming amused.
“Well-well,” Fox mused. “It seems that Beckett made his move.”
“Probably got his pride hurt when our forces made the first hit. Now he wants to gain the glory for himself.”
“Let him have it. I have no time for glory, nor desire. All things in time. This factors in to my forecast rather perfectly, truth-be-told.”
Harley looked over. “There are days when you scare me, brother”
That got a smile. “Hardly.” He walked over, putting his arms around her. “You’re the last person on Earth I would hurt. I love you, Harleen.”
“I love you two, Eli.”
Until next time, a quote,
“There’s a story I heard as a child, a parable, and I never forgot it: A scorpion was walking along the bank of a river, wondering how to get to the other side. Suddenly he saw a fox. He asked the fox to take him on his back across the river. The fox said, ‘No. If I do that, you’ll sting me, and I’ll drown.’ The scorpion assured him, ‘If I did that, we’d both drown.’ So the fox thought about it, finally agreed. So the scorpion climbed up on his back, and the fox began to swim. But halfway across the river, the scorpion stung him. As the poison filled his veins, the fox turned to the scorpion and said, ‘Why did you do that? Now you’ll drown too.’ ‘I couldn’t help it,’ said the scorpion. ‘It’s my nature.’ -Commander Chakotay, Star Trek: Voyager