Birth of a Legend
“Relay the call to my private quarters”
The Captain’s authoritative voice commanded his Comms Officer. Before the Officer managed to acknowledge his superior, the Captain stormed out of the Bridge and headed for his quarters. The automated door slid open in recognition of Captain James Thaddeus Xavier, of the Battleship GNN “Thor”. He entered the pitch dark room and gave a quick voice command to the holographic communicator. The hologram of a male figure flickered to life.
Captain Xavier sat on his chair and produced his smoking pipe from the folds of his Federal Captain’s uniform, which he handled nervously until it was lit. His body language showed so far a man without patience. Maybe smoking would allow him to regain authority in his posture.
“You still can’t get rid of that awful thing I see…” The voice of the hologram toyed with the Captain’s addiction.
“Old habits die hard Captain Gabriel” replied the weary Captain.
For a brief moment, Xavier’s thoughts drifted back a few decades, back to the good old days when he was younger and naive, with a sense of invulnerability defining his actions and orders. Since then he and his ship has seen a lot. Wars, blood spilt, lives lost. Nothing would bring back this sense of safety he used to feel inside a Federation’s Battleship metal hull. Very recently, humanity was dealt a swift, brutal and humiliating strike. It took mankind a thousand years of space faring to feel safe in their journeys among the stars. But a thousand years without an adversary also made man feel all-powerful, untouchable. The toll of this overgrown arrogance was very high. It took only a week for the unknown and seemingly unprovoked enemy to purge all life from almost half of the Federation’s colonies.
Quickly dispelling its delusions of grandeur, mankind showed an incredible will to survive, even against all odds. The Federation Navy rallied its surviving forces and like a caged animal, fought with desperation to hold the line. Victory however, came with an unbearable cost.
“We were honor-bound to follow our orders” insisted “THOR”s captain.
“There is no honor to be found in killing women and children – even those of our worst enemies” Gabriel was quick to respond with a growing flame in his eyes.
“You knew what was at stake Gabriel! It was either them or us!” snapped the older captain. “Don’t you remember your Admiral’s words the day of the final confrontation? Fight! Fight! Fight and avenge the unjustly spilt human blood. Fight and may your thunder echo among the stars and your lightning blot out their light!”
“I’ve had my fill of Federation propaganda Captain.” Gabriel interrupted. “Aren’t you tired of that bullshit all these years? Or is it that you want so very badly to believe your own lies?” He kept pressing without quarter.
“How dare you!” screamed Xavier. His fist slammed on his wooden desk, a relic of the old world. “I will not take accusations from a deserter like you” said Xavier with a face instantly deformed from anger.
Gabriel didn’t flinch.
“Come on Xavier, you knew very well that in the hands of the Federal Government we were tools of death. We were blood hounds which they pointed and released at the desired direction.”
This was going to get very ugly and Gabriel knew that. But he and his new crew would risk everything rather than spend another day being used for another massacre. Gabriel was sitting on the captain’s chair and gave a silent order to his XO. The officer’s eyes opened wide for a moment and then he nodded affirmatively. He keyed in a quick succession of codes and commands and the weapon systems of Federation Battleship “Ironclad” started draining the required energy from the ship’s reactor.
“We were born soldiers, raised to follow orders, not question their morality. Never has there been a war without the blood of innocents spilt” pressed Xavier while reading a holo message from the bridge, notifying him of the rapidly rising energy readings from the Battleship “Ironclad”.
“And there lies our fundamental difference Captain, as it seems you have shrugged off the lives you took, but I can see them staring back at me with hollow judgmental eyes from the black beyond every night” Gabriel’s voice broke.
“I’ve had enough of this. What do you want Gabriel? My orders are to ask you and your men to stand down and face a fair military trial. I’m not here to absolve the Federation Navy of its sins.” Xavier inquired having regained some of his composure. His patience was wearing thin.
“I demand safe passage for me and my soldiers and your word that you will leave us be” he replied, knowing full-well that he was asking for too much.
“I don’t have the authority to give in to your demands. The Federation doesn’t cut deals with terrorists or deserters. We are to terminate you with extreme prejudice”. Xavier was fed up with his former subordinate. He quickly sent a command to his weapons officer to charge all cannon batteries and direct them towards GNN “Ironclad”.
“You do understand that you leave me no choice, don’t you?” Xavier asked rhetorically.
“We’ll see about that” Gabriel said with a calculated voice and a devious grin formed on his face.
The young and brash captain turned to his weapons officer and gave the order “Prepare the Particle Cannon, your target is GNN Thor and the Federation fleet”. He then turned to his navigator and asked him to prepare for a blind jump to light-speed.
“You wouldn’t dare!” Xavier threatened his former XO.
“You should have come prepared for the worst. Captain Xavier, my resolve is absolute. Know that me and my crew are fully dedicated to our cause. This is, I’m afraid, goodbye” finished Gabriel with a sense of finality in his words.
Gabriel estimated their odds of success and they were very slim. Even with the super-weapon taking out most of the fleet, they would still be sorely outnumbered. He would have to evade his enemy long enough for them to escape. Faster than light speed was already very dangerous, let alone making the jump without specific coordinates. What were the odds to exit light-speed and end up inside a black hole? He discarded this dreadful thought and focused his attention on the battle ahead.
As the experimental super-weapon prepared to fire, draining every ounce of power from the mighty ship’s reactor, Captain Gabriel addressed his crew with a stern face. His voice travelled inside Ironclad’s hull.
“My friends, we chose to live a life free of the shackles of the corrupt paper-pushers. We chose to redeem ourselves and regain our lost honor. There is however a steep price to pay to claim our freedom. So, in this, your finest hour, show your bright courage, steel yourselves and face death with a smile in your faces!”
The crew exploded in an enthusiastic battle-cry as the alarm was blaring wildly. “All hands, battle stations!” the XO relayed the command with a loud yell. Every man and woman prepared for the desperate battle ahead.
“This is it, no turning back now” he said to himself, casting aside the last shreds of self-doubt..