Colonel Beckett and her forces were gathered on her flagship, just outside of Luna. The room was dark as they were reviewing the event that was now being called the New Tuscany Massacre by the news. It was as the Admiral had predicted – this was sending the people right into the arms of this new group, the Colonial Alliance’s hands. Recruiting lines at every Colony were huge. There were some Colonies where the Red Guard had little to no control that were almost-openly declaring their independence. It was only a matter of time until the first Colonies declared independence to the rest of the Confederation.
“So, the matter at hand – the Colonial Alliance,” Audra began.
Her Executive Officer looked up. “Would you say that they are the same people who attacked us before?”
Graham shook his head. “That’s a big negative there, sir. I’d stake my life on it that we’re dealing with two different groups of people.”
Audra looked up. “And what makes you think that?”
“You didn’t get a chance to see the battlefield we were in. The enemy we were fighting. I’m telling you, ma’am, this wasn’t them. They were so damn good! It was like we were fighting our own shadows out there! Their speed, their reaction time. It was almost super-human!”
She nodded, taking it in. Her XO noticed.
“What are you thinking, boss?”
“I’m thinking that it was Coordinators who we were fighting, but not who Archer was fighting.”
Her pilot looked over. “What are Coordinators, ma’am?”
The image on the screen changed, showing gene-strands. “They are from a number of places. Some of them are children of Specials who just didn’t make the cut when it came to being a badass like their parents. Others are genetically molded children who were made in a laboratory for rich parents. Then there are those who were changed via large-scale modified Nova Particle exposure.” The image showed data on several people. “The common traits they share is, as Lt. Graham just said, increased reaction time. They also have an absolutely uncanny sense of direction. There are also reports that they are able to integrate with machinery in a way that we can’t fully understand. It’s like they can feel it. They are flagged by Fleet Command as a tier-one threat to the Red Guard and to be treated carefully, as they could become a very large threat, if provoked.”
The XO rolled his eyes. “Yeah, no trouble there. The Confederation and their draconian laws have made them the biggest targets of hate-crimes and prejudice by the people of Earth. It only makes sense that they would hate us.”
“Exactly!” Audra agreed. “Way I see it, what happened to us was only a matter of time.”
Graham looked over. “You said that they were not with the forces that attacked Archer. You sure?”
She nodded, cuing up the footage of the battle from what forces got back to Fleet-Comm. “There’s no doubt in my mind. We’re dealing with two different groups here. But, I get the feeling that they know about each other.”
“How do you figure?”
“Because look how close the attacks were? The first attack was perfect. Down the finest detail, it was polished. I almost want to admire it for how well-executed it was. However, for this one, it was also polished. But it was immediately after the first one. And I do mean immediately. Archer could have slaughtered the people in that Colony and the result would have been the same, but they wanted to come out as the heroes. The first group attacked us and vanished, like ghosts. They didn’t want to make themselves known. But these lot, they are practically daring the world to take notice. I get the feeling that the second group saw how quickly the first one acted and wanted to get out onto the stage as well. It was an ego trip.”
Everyone got quiet, hearing that.
“There’s something else that’s been bugging me – the first group, they are too good. For real, as I said, that attack was perfect. Nigh-flawless. This kind of tactical skill, there’s only one person who I can think of who would do it.”
Nobody said anything more. They knew who she meant.
“In any case, all we can do now is to wait and see what happens next. Our orders are to do that, and I can’t think of what to do, either. The enemy was quick to attack and quick to retreat. Out in space, since Nova Drives don’t create heat spikes, there is almost no way to track them past a certain range. We’re completely stuck.”
Everyone looked at the footage of the battle before, not wanting to acknowledge what happened. They didn’t want to think of how bad this could be.
There were green particles trailing Madison’s fighter as it entered Luna’s orbit. It had been three days. She was passed out inside, with packets of water floating around her. Sweat was also in the air. The space was unbearably hot. A message had been dispatched and picked up. There were several fighters meeting her, on the dark side of the moon.
Inevitably, she was transferred to Luna via a civilian shuttle. She was still out of it. They took her to a hotel that they were using, having one of their doctors looking at her.
The Fox walked over to him, with his mask on. “Doctor, will she be alright?”
He nodded, grimly. “Yeah, she will. It’s a good thing that we found her when we did. Another day out there and she would have been gone. She’s suffering from severe dehydration. A little anemic too. Girl’s lucky to be alive.”
“I bet, given what she’s been through. Call me the moment she’s awake. I want to debrief her myself.”
“Yes sir.” The Doctor closed the door behind him.
Harley was already in the room. “Never thought she’d end up here.”
“Neither did I. Maddie was always trying to avoid getting involved in stuff like this.”
“She was on New Tuscany?”
“Yup. Poor girl.”
“Yeah. Well, at least she’s among friends here. That’s something.”
“True. In the meantime, we have to link up with Captain Ogunwe and his forces. It’s time for our second mission.”
The dark smile came back to Harley’s face. “I was wanting to go out and play again.”
The Colonial Alliance’s leadership was comprised of a Council of Representatives. They were from each of the Colonial blocks, which were in each Lagrange Point. There were also representatives from their military as well.
The L1 Rep. stood up. “I’d like to thank each of you for coming to this meeting. As it is our first official meeting since the foundation of the Colonial Alliance, I was hoping to get our Charter worked out, so we can have an official set of demands from the Confederation, along with declaring our independence.”
There were murmurs of discontent.
The L4 Rep. also stood up. “I take issue with this attitude that our independence is a foregone conclusion. The Red Guard isn’t just going to up and leave.” He turned to the Admiral who had been at the battle at New Tuscany. “Are you certain we have the military strength to go up against them? How can we be certain that we’re not just setting ourselves up for defeat?”
She walked to the podium. “My military is the tip of the spear that will liberate the Colonies! Thanks to the assistance of the Fox and his organization, we have been able to make the most advanced military force that this world and the space above it has ever seen!”
“Speaking of the Fox,” the L2 Rep. interrupted, “how can we trust him? He refuses to show his face or even give us a name! How are we supposed to put our faith in a person like that?!”
The Admiral gave him a cold look. “The Fox was the one who gave us a tactical forecast for the battle at New Tuscany, and if it weren’t for that, we would have most likely watched the Colony die. We owe him everything. He wants the same thing as us – independence for the Colonies.”
“And yet, he operates on his own. We also have gotten word that the forces that attacked Luna were directly under him and that the Coordinators have allied with them. We have no ace in the hole without them.”
“Have we heard from anyone at Nirai-Kanai?” the Rep. from L5 asked.
“We have,” the Admiral replied. “They gave us a very strict warning that any attempt on our part to get them involved what they call ‘our war’ will be perceived as a hostile act. I don’t think I need to tell you what that means.”
There were murmurs of agreement. They were nervous.
“In any case,” the L1 Rep. continued, “we are able to make war with the Red Guard, now we just have to have the will to see this through. We must make a formal declaration for independence and also a formal declaration of war. However, we cannot do that without support from all Colonial blocks. Do I have your support, ladies and gentlemen?”
From the back, Marshall Beckett was smiling, putting his uniform hat back on. Time for history to be changed, forevermore!
Back on Earth, there was a media meltdown over the attacks in space. The cultural fear of the Colonials was palatable, but nowhere was that more visible than in the military. They had long since been planning for what they saw as an inevitable act of war from the Colonies. But nobody could have predicted that it was going to be this quick. Already, their enemy was armed and rallying. The biggest question was – why had intelligence had nothing on them? The common excuse was that in space, there were a plethora of places to hide. But the fact was that that wasn’t entirely true. A factory where Nova Particle drives and ships to use them could be built wasn’t something that would have just gone unnoticed. There was a leak. Or rather, a lot of leaks. People in space were clearly being paid off, but the network was too large to know who. It was most likely that their own intelligence forces had been working with either of the two forces the whole time. That fact, more than any other, scared them.
There was a building in London where the various agencies were meeting. The room was dark, with a diamond-shaped table having representatives from each agency there.
“So, is it safe to assume that at least one of the groups is using Coordinators?”
“It is. We believe that the more secretive of the two are the ones that they are allied with.”
“I see. It’s time we deploy the SCU weapons, don’t you?”
The others looked at the one who said it, awe and fear in their eyes.
“They aren’t ready yet!”
“What choice do we have?! It’s clear that our enemy is able to go toe-to-toe with us. We need an ace of our own.”
“Four of them, to be more precise.”
“Exactly. Let the ARC know that we are putting the plan into action. We cannot afford a delay.”
The rest nodded. They were all very nervous.
On the bridge, wearing the black uniform, Captain Ogunwe was looking out at the stars.
“Sir, we’ve just go the latest tactical forecast from Fox!”
A dark smile came to his face. “At last! It was bored to tears just sitting here and waiting. Please tell me that he has something fun in mind.”
“Yes sir. He says that we just got word – the SCU weapons have been approved for activation. We’re going to take them right out from under the Red Guard’s noses.”
That got a look of surprise to his face. “ARC? But I thought that that natural resource satellite was abandoned years ago!”
“Apparently not, sir.”
He ran a hand over his chin. “Alright then. Get all forces onboard! We’re making for the ARC in two hours!”
Until next time, a quote,
” It’s over! Open your eyes and face reality!” -Lightning, Final Fantasy XIII