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A New Age: Once Upon The Stars

Page: 1/3

A New Age



A Story By: William Christopher 2003

Based upon Space Empires IV

A Game By: Malfador Machinations


Prelude

2360.5

Innocent Times

The summer was nearly over and the class of 2360 was eager to graduate this day and begin their military careers as officers of the Global Alliance. As a large group of the men and women that would soon become the fiftieth class to graduate from the Pandoran Military Academy gathered in the assembly area for the ceremony, the spectator stands began to fill. The day was a hot one, easily the hottest of the year, made even more miserable by the humidity of the southern continent this time of the year. Krellor was a horrible month to hold a graduation ceremony thought Thomas Allen Christopher, a brass, confidant looking, and handsome young man as he tugged at his cadets dress uniform attempting to adjust its uncomfortable fit.
"Out of ten months in a year, why in the hell did they have too chose Krellor to hold this damn ceremony in." Muttered Tom to himself as he wiped the sweat from his forehead and looked over at the stands, feeling sorry for the spectators who would be sitting there out in the open with the sun baking down upon them. The fit of his uniform left something to be desired and he began to tug on it again.
Tom hated wearing the tightly fitting uniform nearly as much hated this place. The climate of the southern continent was as unfriendly as a group of drunken upper classmen looking for more beer money on a Rossday night. Tom hated the Academy nearly as much as he hated leaving it. It had become his home over the last sixteen years and now it was time to leave. As he sat watching his classmates gather in the assembly area, he pondered his life with some regret. Not having a family, and being raised as an orphan, was a constant reminder that there would be no one in the stands today for him. His adopted father had recently passed away, and his mother was too ill to make the trip. The loneliness that he felt this day was an empty feeling that ate away at his heart like a virus leaving him to feel depressed on a day that he should be feeling exaltation.
"Tommy boy!" Yelled one of his classmates, and closest friend Devon Gore the Sixth, as he made his way through the crowd toward him carrying two glasses of juice. Knowing Devon, the juice was no doubt heavily spiked with Brandon weed whisky, his favorite intoxicating beverage of choice.
"Why so gloom my man?" He asked as he sat beside him and handed him one of the glasses. "This is the first greatest day of the rest of your life." He said cheerfully. "A toast to our coming glories, my they be grand and glorious." He finished with a smile.
"Devon, are you drunk?" Tom asked him as he sniffed the drink he had been handed.
"You better believe it." His friend said in joyful manor.
"What am I going to do with you?" Tom asked as he drank the contents of his cup, crushed it and threw it to the ground. "Cheers." He said simply and stood up to walk away.
"Wow, wait just a minute there." Commented Devon as he too stood. "Just where do you think your going?" Tom playing the amused part, bowed slightly and said, "Why to the drink cart my Prince, our glasses need refilling." Both men laughed and walked together toward the refreshment stand on the other side of the assembly area.
"You know you're not alone." Devon said to him kindly. "You and I have each other, and the many women of this planet to keep us company."
Tom smiled at his friend warmly and considered the time they had spent together having a good time womanizing and chasing about the planet over the years as Cadets.
"Devon what are we to do now?" He asked in a whimsical tone of voice as they walked up to the refreshment cart and each of them took a glass filled with juice that had obviously been spiked against regulations.
"Why my dear friend we serve the Alliance and my father with honor and distinction, advancing in rank until we are both Supreme Generals."
"Easy for you to say, promotion won't be an issue for you." Commented Tom without thinking. He immediately regretted what he had said but the damage had been done. Tom had grown to know Devon Gore like a brother, but he had never before seen the expression that was now etched in his friends face.
"I earn my rank Tom, I expect nothing from my father but his throne some day." Tom realizing that he had offended his friend and offered an apology.
"Hey Devon, I didn't mean it to sound that way."
Devon relaxed and let out a smile from ear to ear.
"Hey look it's Erin and Mira. You know you should marry that one." Devon had said joyfully, having forgotten Tom's remark. Tom had learned long ago that his friend was somewhat peculiar in that regard. Something's bothered him while other things seem completely unimportant. Perhaps a result of his royal upbringing Tom thought to himself as Devon waved at the two ladies.
"Come on Tom, lets not keep the future Mrs. Christopher and her friend waiting."
With that both men made there way toward them, drinks in hand.
"If she will have me, I would gladly marry her." Tom replied honestly as they approached the two lovely looking women in dress uniforms.
"Well, Mira is a fine women and she would make a fine wife." With that the two men joined the two ladies, also cadets about to graduate, and together they walked off toward the courtyard where the graduation ceremony was about to take place.


2369.6

The Decree

It was truly a dark cloud of events that were now rampaging across the planet with hurricane force. King Chandler Gore the Fifth, having declared himself Emperor, had ordered the attack of several Alliance member states. Emperor Gore had decreed that all members of the Global Alliance were to adopt the strict laws of the Salideen Religion. Any member state that refused would be subject to invasion and pacification. Many of the Alliance's member states denounced the Emperors decree and were subsequently invaded. Their leaders were executed and the populations bombed into submission.
"The Senate will never support these actions. I mean how could they?" Tom said as he read the morning paper vid. From the tone of his voice, Mira his wife could tell that he was truly concerned over the current state of the Alliance.
"Tom, King Chandler has gone insane and broken the Alliance by attacking its member states. The Senate, what is left of it, has no control over him now."
"My God!" He said with shock in his voice, "This means civil war." Tom looked out the window of their apartment at the heart of the Capitol city, which lay before them.
"This civil war is going to tear our planet apart Mira and we are powerless to do anything."
Tom threw the paper vid across the table angrily.
"Now that the Praetorian Republic has condemned his actions, its only going to be a matter of time before they vote to succeed from the Alliance and you know damn well what that will mean."
Mira smiled softly as she leaned over and hugged her husband. She was truly a beautiful woman, one of the prettiest on the planet. She had long black hair that was softer than anything Tom had ever felt in his life. Her deep green eyes were gifts from Salideen himself and possessed the power to pierce a man's soul. Her skin was soft and tan and smelled pleasantly of helter roses. Tom smiled as she embraced him; all that really mattered to him was that he had her love.
"I am sure the leaders of the Praetorian Republic know what they are doing. The King would never dare attack them over this." She said softly.
Tom and Mira both knew better than to believe this, they were both officers in the Global Alliance and they both knew that by condemning the King and his actions, the leaders of their home continent, Praetoria, had put them all in harms way.
"He's no longer the King Mira, he has declared himself Emperor. And these recall orders tell me something that I don't want to believe." Tom said as he picked them up from the table and looked at them. "Our leaders are recalling all military men and women to help defend Praetoria." He looked up into her eyes, and felt the weight of the world upon him as he spoke. "These recall orders can only mean one thing, they are expecting an attack and that will lead us strait into a civil war." She released her hold, breaking their embrace and sat in the chair opposite of Tom's. She was no longer smiling.
"This holy war that the King," She paused, "That the Emperor has brought upon us is not your fault Tom. You must know that." She said solemnly as she took her husband's hands in hers. "No one could have foreseen these events. The loss of that shuttle did not bring this war upon us. You have got to accept that this is not your fault Tom."
"Isn't it though? I mean if not for that shuttle disaster, Gore would not have had the ammunition he needed to gain the support of the religious right. This war would never have come to be if only we had succeeded."
"Gore is insane, he ordered the murder of half a million people because they refused to accept his decree to abandon their way of life and adopt the beliefs of the Salideen Religion. That is not something a sane man would do."
"You know what we must do?" Tom said softly. Mira said nothing as she softly nodded yes.
"It's only going to be a matter of time before we are arrested."
"Why?" Mira asked in an alarmed tone of voice. "Why would they want to arrest us? We are not absent from our duties, we haven't left the city or committed any crimes."
"The King, I mean the Emperors decree that all members of the Global Alliance are to strictly follow the laws and beliefs of only the Salideen religion condemns us. Think about it, the Salideen religion is the belief that man was created on Pandor in the image of Salideen himself and to explore the stars was a crime against Salideen punishable by death."
"I don't understand?"
"I am one of only a handful of men who have ever left our planets atmosphere. Under the Emperors decree I am now a criminal, as are all those who have ever worked in any capacity for the Space Exploration Division. There is no way that the Emperor is going to allow you and me to remain free."
"Tom that's crazy!" She said dismissively. "Devon won't let his father harm us."
"Look Mira, I know this sounds ludicrous, but Devon has changed, and you yourself just said that his father was insane. Trust me, they will come for us and Devon won't stop them. Our only hope is to leave the city and head for Camellia before they do come for us."
"But our careers?"
"They're over."
Just then the door chime announced that they had a visitor. The sound of the chime startled both Mira and Tom and they both let out a light laugh.
"I'll get that," Tom said as he stood.
Mira went about cleaning up the table and organizing her paperwork for the day. She was assigned to house duty during her pregnancy and was given accident reports to review.
Tom walked to the door and looked at the outside viewer. It was his commanding officer Lt Colonel Robert "Bob" Benton. Tom opened the door and saluted.
"Good day sir." He said as he waited for the Colonel to respond.
"Oh relax Tom," he said as he stepped into the room. "You're on leave, no need to salute me."
"Thank you sir." Replied Tom. "In that case may I offer you a drink?"
"Sounds good."
"Take a seat Bob, I'll let Mira know you're here and get that drink for you."
"Wait." Said the Colonel quietly. "We need to talk privately first."
Tom could not hide the concerned look that spread across his face. He simply nodded yes and gestured that they should enter his study. Once inside Tom closed the door and locked it. Went to the bar and poured two glasses of Brandon Weed Whisky. The Colonel had taken a seat in the Studies couch and accepted the drink from Tom as he sat down next to him.
"What's going on Bob?" Tom asked.
"You and Mira are in danger, you both need to get out of the city by tonight."
Tom could feel the blood leaving his face, he felt the sudden urge to black out, the kind of feeling that one gets when one is delivered extremely bad news.
"What?"
Bob leaned forward and as he spoke. "There is a transport, the Hiru, leaving the city tonight from the East Transit platform. You both need to be on it."
"Why are you telling me this Bob?" Asked Tom after he drank the entire contents of his glass in one gulp. "How could you possibly know that we are in danger?"
"Not just you Tom, but all of us. I am leaving as well with my wife and children."
"My God!" Tom said as he fathomed the situation. "We were, Mira and I, just discussing this."
"Discussing what?"
"The possibility that we would be arrested because of my involvement with the S.E.D."
"Well you're correct. The order to arrest any and all personnel connected with the Space Exploration Division came down from HQ today. I don't think they realized that the order would first come through my office though. Or perhaps someone at HQ did and wanted to give us advanced warning, I simply don't know, but I do know one thing, we have less than thirty hours to get the hell out of this city and off this continent."
"How many others have you told?" Asked Tom.
"You're the first on a very short list."
"How short?"
"Short."
Tom's expression began to take on a more serious look. "Bob we have to warn the others."
"Tom we have no time. And if word leaks that we're planning on leaving, we are all dead."
Tom considered this for a moment before responding; the thought of not telling so many people that their lives were about to be forever changed was haunting.
"There must be a way to warn the others."
Bob finished his drink and stood. He was not happy about his decision to limit the number of people that he would be telling, but the choice had been made.
"Make sure you and Mira are on that transport tonight Tom. Make damn sure you are."
Tom just looked drained as he walked the Colonel to the door. His thoughts were racing as they exchanged their good byes. Tom stood silently for a moment, attempting to calm himself. 'This cannot be happening.' He thought to himself.
"Tom who was it?" Asked Mira. She had stepped into the greeting room curious as to see who had come to the door.
"Pack some things, we're leaving tonight." Said Tom as he looked at his wife.
"Tom what's wrong, who was that?"
"It was Bob Benton, he said we need to leave the city by tonight."
Mira looked positively bewildered. The shock on her face was a clear as glass.
"What the hell?" She finally asked as Tom headed for their bedroom and she followed.
"Tom we are not leaving our home!"
"Mira," Tom shouted not really meaning to. He looked down at the floor for a second, then back up at his wife who now had the look of a scared child. He took in his arms and softly spoke, "We have to go."


2374.4

The Great Battle

"Incoming!" It was all Captain Tom Christopher had time to say into his COM before the air-to-air Zeus missile struck his wingman dead on turning his Predator class fighter into an airborne fireball.
Tom banked his own fighter hard to the right and increased thrust to maximum in order to avoid the Back Stabber fighter that had just killed his best friend. He could not engage the fighter for he had expended all but two of his Maxitor air-to-air missiles and had nearly exhausted his supply of shells for his fighter's Depleted Uranium Cannon. It had been a furious battle with nearly three hundred fighters, and friends lost. Now all that remained in the sky, aside from Tom's own Predator fighter and a Ulysses class interceptor from Eco wing, were the massive sky ships and Back Stabber fighters of the Global Alliance. All that stood between the air fleet of the Global Alliance and Camellia, the Capitol city of the Praetorian Republic, were two lone Praetorian fighters.
"Eco One-Three-Seven this is Icon Two, Target those Alliance fighters and clear me a path. I am going to make a run on that Airborne Carrier." Tom knew that Joe Kelly was a good pilot and would follow his orders to the letter without question.
"I've got your six Icon Two," Came Joe's reply as both of them vectored in on their target. "God be with you Tom."
"Roger Joe, it's been fun." With that Tom banked his fighter toward the Global Alliance's large airborne carrier Tempest. He began his attack run as Joe accelerated past him and engaged the Alliance fighters. The Alliance fighters were not expecting such a tactic and vectored off as Joe closed distance upon them. This gave Joe in Eco One-Three-Seven the initiative and he pressed it home shooting down two Alliance Back Stabber fighters before they could evade.
Eco One-Three-Seven continued his deadly assault clearing a path for Tom to make his run on the Tempest. As Tom closed distance on Tempest, he could see that Joe was making short work of the Alliance fighters. They were after all years behind Praetorian technology. Centering his attention back upon the Tempest, one of the largest airborne ships ever built, Tom plotted his attack. It had to be exacting for he would not have the ammunition or the chance to make another pass.
"My god that thing is huge." He heard himself mutter aloud as he closed ranged. It was at that moment that the Tempest defensive gunners opened fire. They fired everything they had at him, but Tom and his Predator were far too maneuverable a target. Tom closed ranged and locked weapons onto the Tempest hull. His attack would target the port side of the Tempest ultimately focusing upon the weakest spot of the ship.
"Joe if you can, get clear do it now, when this thing goes, she going to take out everything within a five-mile radius."
"Roger that Icon Two, good hunting and I'll see you on the flip side."
"Copy Eco One-Three-Seven, the flip-side it is, and the first rounds on me."
With that Tom pressed his acceleration control as far forward against its stops as it would go. He could feel the G forces pushing against his body as his fighter accelerated too maximum.
"Thank god for inertial dampeners." He thought as he began firing on the Tempest at point blank range. He made a strafing run down her port side hull directly amid beam, focusing his attack on the only weak spot this massive air ship had, its hangers. Tom fired his last two Maxitor air-to-air missiles directly into the amid ship hanger before veering off.
"Birds away!' He yelled into his COM as he spiraled down and under the Tempest on his course away from the big ship. Seconds later the two missiles that he had fired impacted within the hanger of the ship detonating against the mid ship support sub structure and penetrating the aft ammunition magazine before exploding. The force of the explosion not only ripped the support beams that held the overhead Anti Gravity Pod causing it to collapse, but it also ignited the ammunition in the magazine. The resulting explosion generated enough force to blow the large ship in half. As the two flaming pieces of the Tempest fell from the sky, a series of secondary chain explosions began to occur thus sealing the fate of the ship and crew. Those aboard the Tempest had the misfortune of witnessing first hand the force that blew the Tempest apart from the inside out. The crew died never having a chance to evacuate the ship before she became a raging inferno falling from the sky.
The final explosion came without warning as the Tempest erupted into the largest fireball that Tom had ever seen. Although he was moving well past mock three, the expanding cloud of debris from the Tempest destruction was fast approaching him. There was nothing he could do but try to get below and away from the blast radius as fast as possible in the off chance that if he were hit, it wouldn't be badly. Tom pitched his fighter down at such an abrupt angle he had doubted whether or not the inertial dampeners would work, but they did. The ground was fast approaching when he pulled up on the control stick and leveled off. Just then the debris cloud hit his fighter, the pinging and banging sounds quickly subsided as he out ran the trailing edge of the debris cloud. Making a quick check of his systems he noticed that he had exhausted all of his shells for the Depleted Uranium, all of his missiles, and was now nearly out of fuel.
He made a high speed turn and centered his course back toward Camellia, the Capitol city of the Praetorian Republic. Camellia was the focus of the Global Alliance's attack and was sure to fall without its fighter support. Camellia was a magnificent city and among the most pristine of the entire planet. Its glass pointed towers stretched for two miles into the sky and could be seen from hundreds of miles away. Camellia was an icon of education, and scientific endeavors with some of the finest universities on the planet. Camellia was a prize to behold, a crown jewel of modern man, and a pristine utopia of peace that represented both freedoms of thought and of person. But now, all of that was in the very real and great danger of being lost as the Global Alliance pressed its attack. Tom knew that unless he could refuel and re-armed his fighter, his role in this battle would soon be over. Camellia's last chance at continued freedom was now up to him and Eco One-Three-Seven to ensure.

The Global Alliance had attacked without legitimate provocation and the Praetorian Republic did not have the time to mount a united defense. The leaders of the Praetorian Republic, fearing the political course that Emperor, Chandler Gore the Fifth, had chosen for the Global Alliance and had succeed from it a little more than four years ago. Having recalled most of their military men and women from active duty with the Global Alliance, Praetoria was well defended, however, four years of conflict had eroded her ability to fight. Fearing conquest, the leaders of the Republic sued for peace. The new Emperor, Devon Gore the Sixth agreed to meet with the leaders of the Praetorian Republic to discuss terms for a peaceful end to the war, however instead of coming in peace, he came with one of the largest air armadas ever seen and launched a devastating attack against the Praetorian Republic, an attack that they were ill prepared to defend against.
It had been Toms job as a Major in the Camellia Air Guard to defend their capitol city, Camellia from attack, and it was a job that Tom, and his men were prepared to die for. As Tom approached the city, he could see clouds of smoke rising from the horizon as they billowing out from many of the cities towers. What had once been a magnificent skyline was now a jagged and mangled mess of twisted metal and glass. Whole towers were a flame and many more were missing entire sections. He could see the Global Alliance heavy air assault frigates pounding the city with their rail cannons, and it sickened him to his core. The Alliance fighters were buzzing about the city firing upon it without response, the city was nearly defenseless say for its heavy weapons platforms that were swapping firing with the Alliance Frigates. Tom could not help but to accept the fact that he had failed them. Once those weapon platforms were destroyed, the city would be utterly defenseless and would be overrun by Alliance forces. Tom was so captivated by his own thoughts that he did not take notice of the Back Stabber fighter that had slipped in behind him. Tom was so intent on returning to defend Camellia that he was oblivious to the danger that had just flown up behind him until it was too late.
"Warning warning missile lock confirmed." The fighter's computer alarm blared only seconds before the first Zeus struck. The entire fighter shuddered violently but did not exploded. The Zeus air-to-air missile had not detonated.
"Thank God for Alliance craftsmanship." Thought Tom as he banked right then back fast to his left in a zig-zag maneuver to sake the second Zeus. When he realized that the maneuver was not working, he pulled back upon the accelerator control and the control stick causing his fighter to nearly stall as the second Zeus missile shot past him and began a slow return arc. Within milliseconds of his abrupt breaking maneuver Tom had pressed the accelerator control full forward again and was now banking his fighter toward the ground in a left handed roll. It was his only hope of escaping the Zeus missile.
"Warning warning multiple missile locks confirmed. Warning warning, fuel expended." These two new alarms changed everything. Without counter measures, weapons, and now out of fuel, Tom's only hope of evading the missiles was to pray to Salideen and coast in for a landing.
"Get it on the deck Tom." He thought as he cut his engines and grabbed the control stick with both hands. Even with gravity control and inertial dampeners he knew the fighter would fall from the sky like a brick without its engines. But it was his only chance at evading the Zeus air-to-air missiles that were now hunting him.
Tom's fighter was far from graceful as it made its rapid decent toward the ground, Tom worked the control stick with both hands attempting to keep the fighter from banking to far left or right. It was working, and Tom knew it for he had not yet exploded into a fireball or rolled upside down and crashed into the ground. The Predator's landing was far from textbook, but well away from a crash. Tom had lowered the landing gear only seconds before his fighter touched down. The forward gear collapsed immediately upon impact throwing Tom forward against his restraints. The nose of the fighter dug deep into the soft ground and heaved dirt and grass over the canopy into the sky. The aft landing gear remained in position as the fighter plowed its way through the soft spring ground and continued its forward momentum for several hundred meters before finally stopping. Tom wasted no time; he hit the emergency canopy blow control. The canopy blew away from the fighter with a loud pop leaving a cloud of gray smoke and dirt behind to fall into the cockpit. Tom had already released the restraint harness and was climbing out of the cockpit when he heard the explosions. He looked around for the source before noticing several smoke plumes to his left. "Well at least they didn't hit me." He thought as he slid down the side of the fighter and onto the ground. From where he was standing, Tom could see that he was only about a mile from the city of Camellia, and the continuing battle. He knew that the ground forces at Camellia could not hold off the shock troops of the Global Alliance for long. It was only a matter of time now before the city, and the Praetorian Republic would fall. Millions of innocent men, women, and children would pay a horrible price for his failure.
"Freeze!" Said a metallic voice from behind Tom. The noise from the battle being fought overhead was so thunderously loud that Tom had not heard the dozen or so men in armored battle suites come up behind him until one of them had spoken. As Tom slowly raised his hands and began to turn toward the sound of the man's voice something hard struck him in his back knocking him to the ground. Tom had enough time to look up once before a second blow to the head knocked him unconscious. Tom never saw the face of the man who had struck him, but he knew that the man wore the uniform of the Global Alliance.


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A New Age



A Story By: William Christopher 2003

Based upon Space Empires IV

A Game By: Malfador Machinations

Copyright © by the author, posted with permission.

Published on: 2004-09-01 (5980 reads)

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