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|An ensign on a starship deals with a new development to an otherwise boring day.||
It was another boring day aboard the Liberator. Another day of staring out at the black void of space and the tiny dust specs of light in the distance. For being on a starship on active duty during one of the largest wars in recorded history, Russ found it an incredibly boring experience. The tan furred cougar sat on the bridge today monitoring the communications equipment and staring out the front window, his eyes half closed and his ears drooping. His elbow rested on the panel in front of him, his white gloved paw providing his head a convenient place to lean on. The white and blue uniform that Russ was given wrinkled as his body slumped forward, his identification tag with the color-symbol code for 'ensign' drooping on the durable fabric. Russ sighed and wondered why indeed he signed on with the Galactic Navy to begin with. He was young for a soldier, barely 19, and he wondered if perhaps he had been too hasty in signing on.
Thinking back on it, he realized he missed his family. His younger sister, who he had always thought of as something of a pain, though now he realized that she had just wanted to be with him as much as possible. He had been a little meaner to her than he should have, and he regretted it now. His parents he missed as well. They had been so sad when they signed the release form needed for him to sign on, and he hadn't quite understood it then. Surely serving in combat against the rebels who did such terrible things to try to break away from the Imperium was a great honor, how could they not see that? Hmph, some honor he thought. His ship hadn't even seen combat yet. The Liberator, a Titan class starship, was stationed as a defense placement against enemies that might try to strike at the planets with a low military presence but a high amount of resources used to fund the Imperium's war effort, namely Chevan and Eirondor, the two sister planets that orbited the massive red star Thanatos. Both had lush forests and plentiful deposits of natural gas as well as more than a few industrial cities that were currently mass producing war machines.
Russ yawned, drumming his fingers on the panel. He glanced at the timescreen again and sighed. Still four more hours until shift change. He was about to look out the front window again when a light caught his attention. His ear twitched in a numb curiosity. It was the light that signaled that they were being hailed. He moved slowly, eyeing it warily as if it might just be his imagination.
"Sir!" Said a different ensign, a spotted equine female that handled the sensor equipment, "We're picking up a small ship approaching, looks like a civilian transport." The acting lieutenant, a rather young German shepherd, acknowledged her with a nod.
"We are being hailed." Russ said, somewhat nervously.
"Find out what they want." the lieutenant instructed.
"Yes sir." Russ replied. He flicked the switch to accept the hail, hearing the familiar static come through his headset as a connection was established.
"...hear me? Can you hear me? Goddammit, they're not answering!" Came a voice at the other end. It was rather gritty, like one that might belong to a street person, but a strong one too. Russ could detect from the voice that the speaker must be fairly young as well, older than him probably, but not by much.
"This is the Liberator of the Imperial Navy. State your name and business." Russ said with as much authority as he could muster.
"Oh thank God, someone's answered!" The voice at the other end shouted, presumably to his comrades, "This is Relve Farghal, I'm the unofficial leader of these people here. We're the only ones that escaped from Zevos VII, well, the only ones I know of anyway." Russ's eyes squinted in confusion. Zevos VII was a nearby planet. A small planet, but a planet nonetheless. These people were claiming to be the only ones who escaped? From what?
"Um...come back please, I don't think I got that last message clearly." Russ said.
"What, do I need to spell it out for ya?" Relve barked "Everyone else, to the best of our knowledge, didn't make it. Those damn rebels hit our power and communication systems first, then imprisoned or just killed everyone. The whole planet's under their control now."
"What do they want?" The lieutenant asked Russ.
"They...claim to be the only ones who managed to escape Zevos VII....They claim that the entire planet was overrun by rebels and is now completely under their control."
"The ship is now in visual range." the equine female said. Russ could barely make out a spec in the distance.
"Zoom in." The lieutenant ordered. The equine touched a few buttons, inputting coordinates, and suddenly the front window seemed to speed towards the other ship, stopping in order to provide an adequate view of it. Russ knew that the ship wasn't actually moving, it was just the viewscreen technology, but his stomach always lurched at the experience. He could see the ship now, and recognized it as a common civilian barge, but one that looked more beat up than usual, including some fresh burn scars, almost certainly from other ships' weapon systems.
"I will fetch the captain" the lieutenant said without flinching, and he turned and walked off the bridge.
"Hey, you there?" Relve asked indignantly.
"Yes I am, please hold on sir." Russ said. His mind was racing. If what this person said was true, then the rebels had struck a decisive blow; millions were likely dead as a result.
"Hold on? We need life support supplies pronto, or people will start dying here!" Relve practically shouted.
"I understand sir, but you'll just need to wait until we have the clearance for that.." On the other end, there was an exasperated sigh.
"Bureaucrats," Relve muttered, "I hate them."
It didn't take the captain long to come to the bridge. He had always been a timely one. Now the husky strode in, his gaze cold and expressionless, his chest prominently displaying his identification and rank.
"Report." The captain commanded, locking his arms behind his back.
"We've got a civilian freight ship, Drifter class, type E, approximately one hundred thousand kliks away and closing, headed for Chevan." the equine reported.
"They've hailed us." Russ added.
"On screen" the captain ordered. Russ pushed the button that transferred the transmission to the viewscreen. The image of the beat up freight ship flickered and was replaced by a dimly lit inside of a cargo hold. There were many obvious refugees in the background, a few holding babes close, others injured and being treated by doctors. The one closest to the screen, and the one that Russ immediately knew to be the speaker he had been talking to, was a rather scruffy looking hyena with an expression of annoyance and perhaps even anger on his features. His eyes immediately flashed out and focused on the captain.
"Well it's about time." he muttered.
"I am captain Hein of the Liberator, what clearance do you have to be in this sector?" He asked, ignoring Relve's comment. The hyena's mouth dropped open in disbelief.
"Clearance? Well We don't got no clearance, captain, we just barely escaped with our goddamn lives, we didn't bother to grab the friggen papers!" Relve shouted. He threw his paw backwards, gesturing towards the depressing bunch of refugees. "These people have been through a whole friggen' lot! There isn't one of them who hasn't lost a friend or two, most of them don't even have families anymore! And you ask for clearance?" Relve shook his head, regaining his composure. "Look, we don't have much life support left. We've been flying for weeks in this thing, we couldn't jump all the way to Chevan, so we needed to fly the rest of the way. We need more supplies or we will die. Our air filters are worse for the wear, our food and water is almost gone, and you don't even want to know what our waste disposal systems are like..."
"Ah yes, I was informed by my lieutenant of the alleged attack on Zevos VII." He turned to one of the ensigns in front of a viewscreen, "check the grid, see if there is anything that lends itself to this one's claims"
"Of course there won't be!" Relve protested, "no communications got out, they brought everything down on us before we knew what was going on! We ARE the evidence!"
"I've checked already, sir." The ensign, a fierce looking hawk, stated, turning towards the captain, "no mention of it."
"I see." The captain said. He turned his ice blue eyes on the hyena. "To be frank, there is nothing I can do. If you want, I can send out a request to the greater fleet for a crew to come out and clear your vessel, but until then I have been given strict orders not to let anything without the proper clearance codes through."
"Send out for a clearance crew?! That could take days! We would DIE by then!" Relve growled, outraged. "Our only hope is to stay our course, and that's exactly what we'll do!" the hyena reached forward and jammed a button, ending the transmission.
"Their ship is speeding up, sir." The equine informed. Hein sighed.
"We have no way of knowing for sure that that isn't a rebel ship, and with a freight vessel of that size it could be holding a bomb that could annihilate half the planet. We can't let it dock on Chevan. Therefore the threat must be terminated. Destroy it."
The captain turned, his expression unwavering, and left the room. The gentle hum of the Liberator's weapon systems powering up was a pleasant sound for the captain, perhaps even a soothing one. As for Russ, the sound sickened him.
|Chapter 4: The Coming Storm||Ockham's Razor|
|Blood and Venom ch.3: Perspective||Blood and Venom ch.1: Aftermath|
|Blood and Venom ch.2: Vengeance|