I – Starfall
“No! Noo! Nooo! Close your eyes, Aaron!” And while a bright flash filled the room, my memory started fading away.
It was a dark and stormy night in the second decade of the Third War of Sephirex Prime. In a rundown motel, a beeper was thrown at the wall, crashing as it hit. I was awake, my heart was still beating from the dream I had and the bottles of yesterday’s reunion were lying all around; just like the blond and red-haired resistance fighters, I took home. The red light of the system’s star glowed through the windows. I could only think of myself as lucky to have found the perfect princesses in the middle of this war-torn system.
In a corner of the room, I saw the chair with my old coat. The Bladesin Mercenary Corporation logo was barely visible, but it’s warm. Thinking about my old comrades, I wondered if they were still alive after the massive attack on the home base.
The last thing I could remember was the crashing Vanguard flagship hitting the base and ending in a big explosion. That was a year ago. And now, I had found my first two comrades, the princesses, May and Shino, but I preferred angels or princesses since they rescued me from the fire.
It always wintered… The nuclear explosion that followed the rupture of the vanguard ship’s warp core got us into a nice nuclear winter. But I didn’t like it. I did like the warmth of May and Shino wrapped around me. They were always cuddly, but the war gave them a rough edge and I couldn’t get used to the cute girls walking around with a plasma blaster and a laser rifle.
Shino opened her eyes and smiled at me. I gave her a kiss on the forehead and played with her hair. She always loved that when we were kids, running around home base. But now there was a change in her eyes and you could see where pain replaced innocence.
“Aaron?” she asked.
“Today we are gonna find and kill them?”
“We will try. Today is gonna be the first day of the rest of our lives. And Shino? You don’t die on me. Just live your life, have fun and we’ll all die another day. But not today; today we are gonna put a bullet between the eyes of Commander’s murderer.” After these words, Shino put a small kiss on my lips and gently fell back asleep.
While I was standing under the shower, I smelled some good coffee coming down the room, and together with the oily smell, it brought back memories of the home base. Seeing all kinds of familiar faces of which the names elude me –was it Jack or Peter or John? I don’t remember…I hardly remember anything these days; the blast took away the names but not the faces.
The home base was gone, the Arc was still standing and the safe zone – yeah, safe zone – the safe zone was littered with parts of the flagship. We were not at war, BMC was neutral. Is neutral, or what remains of it. I only know of me, May and Shino.
At the exact moment I get out of the shower, May rushes in.
“Aaron, Aaron! It’s blue, it’s really blue!”
“No way, May!” And I run with her, forgetting that I might need some more clothes. Indeed, the beacon is blue. The only thing we were able to scavenge from our fighter plane was blinking blue.
It was a sign that someone was coming for us. Someone friendly… someone big. And they should already be in the system since the signal’s range was only a few light years.
While we were looking at the blue light, the floor started to shake and the room was getting dark–filling with sand and dust. Before we knew it, the motel door was kicked in and armed people in hazmat suits rushed in, grabbing Shino and May. Before they grabbed me, I got a salute and in the blink of an eye, I saw it. The logo was BMC.
We were not alone.
We were one; brothers and sisters, and we never left our friends behind.
We were together again.
II – The Run
Before we knew it, we were put under the shower in the quarantine zone of the ship. I had no clue on what ship we were. It was massive, reeked of melted metal and the burn marks showed heavy fighting or massive meteorite impacts – either one of the two. But, the shower was nice. I could hear May and Shino chatting a lot in the shower next to me, but enjoyed the warm water running through my hair and over my face in silence. Only one thing could make this day even better: steak – plain, simple steak. I couldn’t care whether it was burnt or not.
While looking on the walls of the shower, I noticed the BMC logo there, and it was different from the ones I knew. I had to remember to ask about that later.
Later that day, we got an official welcome from the fleet commander and I was glad to see a familiar face. A name I forgot, but the face I could never. For me, it was Steve, and he didn’t mind me calling him that.
Steve gave us a hand and introduced his team: Jessy, his second in command; Mr James on the helms; Bob for communication; Ricky led the marines; Sky was the acting fighter captain and a regular war hero; and then the most important person on the ship – Charly, the cook. Steve asked us if we had immediate questions. The only thing I could think about was:
“What’s for dinner?”.
Shino rolled over from laughing. “Wahahaha! Aaron, always food with you.”
Charly runs to me and leaps over. I catch her and while she starts purring, I give her a pat between the ears.
“Yeay, we will be good friends”, Charly says, ”I love your pats”.
Shino gives a small hiss and jumps on my back. It seems I had been claimed as property there. It was always fun with these cats.
After the intro, Steve asked me to come to his quarters. He needed to ask me something.
Since I had no idea how to get there, Sky offered to take me there and give me a small tour through the ship, but first, we went to the commander’s quarters.
When Sky and I arrived there, we were asked to enter. Steve was looking serious.
“Aaron, it was no accident that we picked you up. I was looking for you for over a year already. What can you remember from before the blast?”
“Nothing.” I replied.
“I was afraid of that”, Steven said. “But, I want you to take up your position again together with Shino.”
“Yep, I need you as director of adventures again, and Sky will be your Master in sky and space, you have always relied on her and will do that again.”
I looked at Sky and while I didn’t really remember a lot, the smell of her perfume did give me a warm, safe feeling.
Sky then said, “Only thing I need from you is your confidence and trust as always and then I would follow you to Hell and back, we have been there before and it will be a pleasure to visit it together again, sir.” She then gave me a salute and I got the feeling that I could ask Sky anything and it would be done elegantly and swiftly with pride and conviction. Shino however, wouldn’t like it; being territorial over me, she couldn’t stand me working with other ladies, professional or otherwise.
“Oh, Aaron, there is one more thing you don’t know yet. It’s about your origin, you’re not from earth, you’re…”
At that exact moment, a nuke hit the left side of the ship, and it shook with tremendous force.
“Take Aaron and his team to a safe place!” Steven said to Sky.
Sky firmly took my hand. “Follow me, Aaron, everything will be alright.” And she began running like her life depended on it…and it might have.
“We are going to my Carrier, Aaron. Call in May and Shino to go to bay D7.”
And so we fled to D7, several nukes hitting the ship as we ran like Hell.
When we arrived at D7, a small transport was already waiting to depart. Shino was at the door.
“Run, Aaron! Run!” She shouted.
And so, Sky and I dove into the ship as it closed its bay doors. Looking up from the floor, I saw May and Shino, some others and before I knew it, someone jumped on me telling me to hold her tight because she was scared. It was Charly. May took her with her since the kitchen was one of the places hit first. And we were off, blazing away from the old ship.
I could see it burning and shooting nukes at some dark and strange looking ship. And then we made the jump to an unknown stargate, an unknown destination. But we would live, me and the cat family. We might need some fish soon.
III – Origin
The shaking of the whole ship woke me up. I walked to the window, still sleeping and see myself in the reflection. I’m little, not older than – I think 4 – and I knew it was me because I recognized the cuddle toy I was carrying. I was on a purely white ship, with some black burn areas. A strangely shaped black ship was firing on us and there was someone running into my room. I was not sure but the beautiful lady had to be my mother. She grabbed me and held me tight. She said something to me. I couldn’t understand her but it made me feel warm as another shot smashed into the ship, breaking the glass in my room and pulling us out in space.
I woke up sweating and calling out a name I didn’t even know before that day. Was this what Steven wanted to tell me? Did he know where I was from or only that I was not from earth? I tried to remember more but it didn’t help. That was it: nothing more. Not even the name of the ship. But the black ship was the same. It was the same ship that attacked us the previous week and sent us off to a strange section of space. The stargate collapsed behind us when we got through, so we were stranded. Or at least for now. The only lucky thing was the carrier we were on: Sky’s carrier. It was fully loaded and could sustain us for years. It was no small ship. It was an entire small nation on a ship. That was the BMC way, all parts were self-sustainable, all facilities present. We learned that the hard way during the wars.
Suddenly, I got a memory flash. I was still little and in a sort of capsule. My mother was holding the glass and crying. Then, the little me fell asleep and I woke up again.
The black ship was in my dream, or was it a memory?.
The next day I woke up late, and if it was my choice, I would have slept even longer. But, a burning smell was coming through my door. I went to see where the smell came from and before I knew it, I saw Charly and Sky together with something that looked like a black cake.
Sky was blushing from the heat of the oven, the cool dangerous air force hero was just too cute with these blushes.
“Hi Aaron, I lost a bet to Charly and had to bake a cake but it burned.” She said looking at the cake. I wanted to say it still looked delicious but that would have been too obvious a lie.
“Come. I’ll buy you an unburned slice.” I said and took Sky in one arm and Charly in the other.
Shino and May were already in the cantine when we arrived.
“Cake is on me!” I shouted, and Shino jumped in the air.
I had forgotten how much she liked cakes and I was happy to see her smiling after a long while. After all the running and escaping fires, it was good to have a small celebration, even though the war would possibly rage on tomorrow again.
May went over the counter and found some drinks. She had some beers and a bottle of scotch and some greenish stuff that tasted sweet. Charly put on some music and between the hard rock, she added some romantic music. Apparently, she was a regular romantic and asked me to dance on some slow romantic number. How could I say no to this girl? So we danced.
May was already passed out on the table and Sky was dancing with Shino. This could end in any possible way, but the night was still young. We partied until deep in the night and then I took May in my arm and carried her to bed with the other girls following closely. Charly went to her room while I put May in her bed and after that Shino followed me with Sky to our quarters. At my door, Sky saluted me and said she had a nice evening. I wished the girls goodnight and went through my door. Shino grabbed my sleeve and looked to me with those big eyes that said:
“Tonight, I don’t want to fall asleep alone.”
So, once more I fell asleep with my bed filled with cats, they were not the only ones in need of some warmth. I could not live without them.
Halfway through the night, the door silently opened and someone curled herself around us. Everyone needs some warmth, but the cats need a lot. And they can give even more.
IV – Derelict
Later that week, we had some basic flight training, Shino and I were in an advanced BMC fighter and with us were 7 other fighters, 6 normal fighters and one other advanced fighter in standard formation. Sky told me before we flew off, that our new adventure ships were already being built and asked if I wanted a specific colour on them.
“Black and white.” I had told her.
Normally, our ships had a nice colouring of black, blue, gold and white. But for mine, I thought:
“Let’s go for black and white.”
While I was thinking about our new ships, Sky and I heard a beep.
“There is a large structure coming up on lidar,” Shino told me, “it’s about 40 clicks away on our left.”
When I looked to the left, it was already visible: a bright light reflected on something on our left side. I contacted Sky to ask if they had it on scanners, but she said it was undetectable. “Aaron, please go investigate that thing. The technique hiding it could be important.”
“Ok, Sky. We are on our way.”
This thing was huge. When we flew towards it, it kept on reflecting so much light we had to bring down the solar screens. At 2 clicks, the only thing we could see on Lidar was the structure, we opened the screens again and I saw a massive burned white ship. There was a name on the side, but the auto-translator had a hard time reading it.
“Computer, what is the problem with the translator?”
“Detected language is not from our known universe or time frame. Basic dialect has been found predating the Arc, Translating…..Tranquility.”
My heart stopped, I knew that name. I should have known the ship, but that wasn’t possible. Tranquility was also the name on the capsule they found me in at home base. They never told me anything else about it or its age; only the name.
“Computer, gather intel on our databanks about Tranquility. Shino, please look for a position to enter this ship.”
”Ok, Aaron. I’ll get us in.”
“All datafiles on Tranquility are classified as Protoclass.” The computer announced.
“Sky, do you have Protoclass clearance? If so, please send me the Tranquility files.” I said.
“Aaron, I have clearance. Files have been sent.”
I opened the files and the first thing I saw was a blueprint for a resurrection node and one for a mobile cryo chamber. That cryo chamber was the capsule – no doubt about that. It got more interesting: some tech data and names from the people discovering the capsule also appeared on the intel files.
“Ok, Shino. This is not possible, there is some data in here you should also see. I’ll read it out loud. ‘The pure white capsule was found during mining operations at a depth of 250 meters within a black thulium layer. After dating it, it was determined it should have been there for at least a millennia.
After translation, the kids inside were named Aaron and Shino.’”
No way. I was over a thousand years old.
Shino looked at me. “Aaron? What are we?”
“I don’t know Shino, but let’s continue reading. ‘The girl is a carrier of a Retrovirus that went active the moment we opened the capsule. The virus acted as a merging agent and created a hybrid form between Shino and our base cat. Apparently, the virus is genetically bound to the x chromosome and visually only females in the base are affected. We found a way to kill the virus, but the transformations cannot be stopped and a new species has been created.’” “Well Shino, at least now we know why you have a tail.” I said and I patted her on her helmet.
“Sky did you know all this?”
“No, Aaron. I had no clue. I don’t think anyone knows this. But I’m happy to know where my origin started. Thank Shino for me.” She said with a laugh.
“Aaron, I found a way in.”
“Ok, Sky -we are going in. Alpha team, join us, Delta watch our six. Come Shino, let’s enter this derelict and see where we came from.”
She purred, turned around, gave me a high five and off we went. She perfectly flew through a blackened hole in the hull and parked our fighter in the smack middle of a gigantic hall. Crashed lamps were on our left and right. Fighter planes were still parked there as if they were left there the day before.
“Aaron to Sky: think you should bring the ship. It looks like we can go shopping. The detectors did not detect any life-signs. It should be safe for the scavenge teams.”
“Aaron, did you see the shape of the ship when you flew towards it?”
“No, Sky. Why?”
“Because it’s identical with the black one, but in white.”
Eternal silence entered my mind.
V – Section Q
“Aaron, Aaron! Aaron!” Shino pulled my sleeve “Come let’s explore, I want to see where we came from”.
Shino always knew when I need a push back to reality, and I really needed it. At that moment, I heard Sky over the comm system.
“Aaron. I’m sending over the science team. Vero will be there soon. We will have a blackout. In the meantime, we need to reset some internal systems to repair the damages from our escape.”
“Ok. Good luck Sky. Keep me posted on needed repairs. You have my full confidence, Aaron out.”
A few minutes later, the science team arrived at our position.
“Good morning all, I’m Vero.” And another beauty salutes us. We salute back.
“Hi, I’m Shino and this is apparently my brother Aaron. Don’t mind his silence. He can be an airhead sometimes.”
Thank you, Shino, your way of eliminating competition had never been subtle. The clearly intelligent young woman was indeed interesting, but I was a young man of only a few thousand years old.
“Steve already told you about your origin?” Vero asked.
“No, not really.” Shino answers, “Nukes came raining down at that moment, so we know nothing.”
“Well, let me promise you this will be an interesting day for you two. The jump to this system was no mistake. We were preparing this for years already. But let’s go, we have a long day ahead of us. Team 9 is already fixing the hull here and we are off to section XXIVZ.”
“Section whatwhut?” I said.
“Where you came from. Team 5 is going to the bridge, 3 to the engine room, 2 and 6 to section Q. It is shielded. We can’t probe it from here, but I heard they already got the power back there. Let’s see if we can get to the bottom of this ship, figuratively speaking.”
“Aaron!” On the fighter radio, I heard my name. I rushed to it and took the comm unit “Yes, Sky?”
“We……ve…..with……ane…….reac……brea….” and silence, but not for long.
A massive explosion on board the carrier blew us all to the floor. Shino walked to the closest window in panic. I follow her. The carrier is on fire. It looked like the core exploded and the whole ship was in smoke and small explosions were showing up everywhere.
“Shino, they will be alright. Sky is the best of the best and very ca…”
There was a flash and a massive explosion and we were smashed to the ground again, Shino was unconscious. The carrier was gone, Sky was lost, Charly and all our other friends were gone.
And then the lights turned on. Tranquility started to live. Massive alerts went through the ship and then the comm system started to fill the ship with announcements.
“Emergency resurrection protocol has started, Section Q has been unsealed.”
“Biomass 22 has been resurrected. Biomass 375 has been resurrected.” And it went on and on.
Vera looked at me. “Come Aaron. Shino is in good hands here, we have to run to Q. I have no idea what happened, but I think those people are the luckiest people I know of.”
And we started running to Section Q.
Fifteen minutes later, we arrived at Section Q and Vero rushed through the door and I followed.
“Woah! Aaron, stop!”
But, I was running too hard and I smashed right into Sky who was getting dressed. We ended up on the floor and I got slapped hard by her which was kind of understandable.
I was out of words. It was so unexpected – all souls had been saved by Tranquility. Somehow the massive banks of resurrection nodes had picked up our friends and saved them all. And apparently, the resurrection process only worked on bodies, as expected.
I saluted and apologized to Sky for smashing her down and I got an apology and a salute for the slap I received that still felt warm on my cheek. After that, I proposed to take her to dinner to make up for my mistake and to celebrate that she was back with us. I was happy she accepted.
“Glad we planned to get these working asap,” Vero said, “You never know when an accidental core breach is induced by an emergency power break after an emergency star jump needed because nukes just penetrated the outer hull of your flagship after rescuing a millennia-old twin.”
“No Vero, in that you are right. Sometimes it doesn’t breach.”
I wasn’t sure if she was serious or joking around, but I did like the humour of the white coat. While saying that, Sky came close again, wearing some lab clothes and with her tail wiggling under the coat.
“Aaron? If you really want to take me out on a dinner, I will come. But, you don’t have to smash me to the ground before you ask me. I think you’re a great commander, but next time you might be less lucky and get yourself something broken. As a present, Sir.”
Now, I didn’t mind getting presents, but the ones I liked tended to be less…..painful.
“Sky, I don’t remember much, but I have been interested in you since the moment I saw you. Even though you can’t bake a cake, you’re one of the heroes of the line I respect the most. Although you have seen many men that could take you, you always stayed alone. If I dared to kiss you, I would. But that would not give you the respect you deserve.”
Then, I stood right and gave Sky a proper salute. “Captain Sky, welcome back from the dead. As the greatest hero of all, it is only fitting for you to even conquer death. And we are grateful for the friends you brought back with you.”
The battle of the line, now that brings back memories.
About the Author
Aaron Cain, C&S officer in BMC, founder of Tranquility, Co-founder of the InA and C.A.T.S. I love manga and anime, and believe we can achieve more in DU when we work together. I am Social and friendly and always ready to help, but don’t see it as a weakness I Will Hunt you down ruthless when you Hurt my people and Friends.