The Great Civil War of 2538

October 23, 2007
By James Frazar, Denver, CO

Phillip strode down the hallway to see his dad and have a little “chat” about his duties on the ship. Suddenly, red lights started flashing all around him and the familiar voice of the captain spoke out “All hands to battle station.” He cursed under his breath. He turned around and sprinted for the lift behind him.
He pressed the button to go to the emergency bridge. He wasn’t allowed on the actual bridge as he was not an officer. Instead, he and his best friend Angelina went to the emergency bridge. All main controls were still routed into the real bridge but here they could still monitor the whole situation the positions of the enemy, weapons status, engine temp, even the expressions on the captain’s face. The best part about it was the fact that when in battle, the place would be completely forgotten, unless something happened to the main bridge. The lift doors opened and Phillip went to sit in the captain’s chair. He turned the monitor on and stared into the vacuum of space, in the center of which stood the huge super-carrier Tranquility. (Phillip remembered something about this ship that he learned in school. It was the first ship ever to come out victorious of a 4 on 1 engagement. It was only up against three frigates and a cruiser.) But, if Tranquility was one of our ships, why would the captain send us to battle stations when one of the most powerful ships in our fleet came out of slip space? The lift doors opened behind him and Angelina walked in slightly out of breath. She paused and looked at the screen, “Tranquility? Didn’t we learn something about that in school the other day? And isn’t it one of our ships?” Angelina asked.

“That’s what I thought,” Phillip replied. The carrier turned ninety degrees and they both saw red lines of paint along the stern, identifying the ship as a rebel. Underneath the lines were the capitalized bolded white lettering, a UNSC vessel. Or United Nations Space Command
“So, it was one of ours.” Angelina said.
“Get the bridge on screen two.” an image of the command deck popped up. The captain standing in front of his chair, with a cigar in his mouth.
“How the hell did they capture a super-carrier?! Especially one as decorated as the Tranquility!!” the captain spoke.
“I don’t know sir,” said the lieutenant at navigation.
“Have they spotted us?” asked the captain.
“I don’t think so. If they saw us we’d probably be floating in space right now.” Phillip’s attention was drawn back to the super-carrier. It continued to turn and Phillip saw multiple holes torn in the hull. “At least they didn’t get the ship for free, instead they got a bonus of some Accelerator rounds, he thought. As the ship continued to turn, he saw that the whole port side was covered in ruptures that must have been created by standard Accelerator Cannon rounds. He looked back towards the command deck camera.
“Good god, what did they do to her?” asked the same lieutenant at navigation.
“I don’t know, but I guess command would rather see her destroyed than in the hands of the rebels.” “Sir! Tranquility is charging weapons and heading this way!” screamed the Major at weapons.
“Arm all AC guns, 100% charge. Take evasive action, Lieutenant; get us into that nebula to our starboard side! Run the engines as hard as you must . Just get us into that nebula before they can get a lock on us! And somebody give me a jump solution on the other side of that nebula!” said the captain.
“Aye sir! AC guns charging and engines running at 200% of maximum recommended velocity. Estimated time to nebula two minutes thirty-seven seconds!” said the lieutenant.
“Tranquility’s guns are charged! They’ve fired without trying to get a lock,” yelled the major.
“How long until impact?” asked the captain.
“forty-three seconds.” said the lieutenant. “WE reach the nebula in a minute fifty-three seconds.”
“Push the engines to 250%” said the captain. The roar of the engines became louder. “AC guns charged. Ready to fire!” said the major.
“Target the launch ports and fire at will!” ordered the captain. A series of thumps, one right after the other, was the reassurance that the guns had fired. The sound reverberated through the ship like thunder.
“thirty-five seconds! We’ve picked up some time, but we’re still one minute and ten seconds from the nebula.”
“Tranquility’s guns are firing again. Those shots will reach us after we get to the nebula,” said the major.
“What’s the carrier’s position?”
“Their engines are running at 80% and putting extreme force on Tranquility’s hull,” said a young woman at the communications console.
“At least we can still outrun them,” muttered Angelina.
“fifteen seconds ‘til impact!” yelled the lieutenant. Another series of thumps went through the ship as the AC guns sent their second round.
“First salvo of AC rounds have hit their target!” said the Major. “Significant damage to enemy launch ports.”
“ten seconds ‘til impact,” screamed the lieutenant. They could barely hear each other over the mixture of firing guns and the roar of the engine.
“Engine failure in two minutes. We can’t go into slip space after that.”
“How much time until we clear the nebula?” asked the captain.
“three minutes ten seconds.”
At two minutes, cut the engines. Then, coast until we’re clear,” said the captain.
“Impact in ten seconds!” Phillip gripped his chair as hard as he could. He counted the impacts, one, two, three. Then it was over. He turned to Angelina. Her face was drenched in blood.
“I’m fine. It’s just a little nose bleed,” she said. He relaxed a little. He looked at the screen that had a moment before held the super-carrier in its view and was filled with static.
“They must have hit our camera,” said Angelina. They both looked at the bridge camera. The lady at communications was unconscious at her controls. Everyone else seemed to be fine.
“How long until we reach the nebula? asked the captain.
“Thirty seconds,” said the lieutenant. It was still hard to hear over the roar of the engines.
“Somebody have my jump solution?”
“Yes sir!” replied a man sitting at the maintenance controls. They entered the nebula. The second salvo of Tranquility’s AC guns missed by a mile.
“Keep the engines running hot, Lieutenant. Let’s hope it’s smooth sailing from here,” said the captain as he sat back down. Time passed and the warning siren of the engine failure came on but turned off almost immediately. It became very quiet without the engines on. When they exited the nebula, the ship shot into slip space. They felt the usual twisting and turning in there guts as the ship forced a hole through normal time and space. It would still take some time to travel vast distances, but it was still a whole lot faster then going through normal space. and only then did either Phillip or Angelina take their first full breath.

The ship stayed in slip space for almost two hours. Phillip got the feeling that the Captain wanted to get as far away as possible from the carrier. During the time in slip space the two friends left the emergency Bridge, especially because if someone caught them in there, they would have been skinned alive. Before they left the command deck, however, they managed to print out the damage reports. Most of it was pretty minimal, but all three rounds were placed 40 meters from the emergency bridge. One of the shots almost ruptured the power line to the engines; if the shell had penetrated a mere 15 meters more, it would have contacted with the line and the engines would go off line leaving them sitting in space like a duck. It was getting late and the captain made sure everyone was still at battle stations until he said otherwise. The halls were empty as Phillip walked back to his quarters. Why would the captain keep everyone at battle stations when the actual battle ended over four hours ago? There must be something he wasn’t telling the crew for him to be so cautious with the situation. They had entered slip space another four times after the first, all for fifteen minutes to make sure the carrier couldn’t follow them. On top of that, they were hiding inside an asteroid belt to ensure the ship was almost completely invisible to ship sensors. Phillip reached his quarters, still pondering why the captain was being so suspicious, he flopped himself onto his bed and fell asleep as his head hit the pillow.

He was in a ship, a small ship, large enough for one person. He was looking out the window towards a ship. But this ship was ablaze, the flames danced across it like a parade. He sat and watched as the ship he had become so familiar with was being split in two. Then the creator of the whole problem was floating next to it. The rebels had been raiding the outer planets for the past few months all for supplies. The only thing they left behind was the bodies of the poor souls they raided. This time though he and his mom were onboard. The rebels continued to fire at the long lost freighter, almost seeming like they were enjoying it. There was nothing he could do but sit and watch. Suddenly he was back with his mom on the ship. Everything was peaceful, the calm before the storm. He tried to warn his mom of the attack, but she couldn’t hear him, as if he wasn’t even there. He begged and pleaded that she do something, but she still couldn’t hear him. The scene changed again, he was standing on a UNSC bridge this time watching the rebel ship burn. He was standing next to a young girl about the same age. They were the only survivors of their ship. They could both feel the AC guns firing. The captain was on his feet standing in front of his chair with his hands behind his back facing the screen on which the rebel ship was burning, the usual cigar in his mouth. He was then watching the door as his dad came in with a look on his face that was full of indescribable hatred for the rebels. Phillip awoke with a start and heard the captain’s voice ring out once again. “Stand down battle stations.” He looked at the clock on the wall; another six hours had passed. The start of another shift rotation. The poor men on duty when the attack began were plunging into their third shift of active duty. That meant his dad too. The doors opened and Angelina walked in and sat next to him on his bed.
“Do you remember when we were on the Valkyrie? Just before it was destroyed?” asked Phillip.
“Yes, I do.”
“And when we first got here on this ship, standing on the bridge watching those bastards getting blown out of the sky?” he asked with utter hatred rising in his voice.
“Wasn’t really much of a battle though, was it?” she said. “Idiots, wasted almost all their ammo on the Valkryie after it was already totally destroyed. Then when the Iqouris showed up, they fired three rounds and ran for it with their tails between their legs. Oh well, they got what they deserved I guess.”
“But they still didn’t get all of what they deserved” said Phillip.
“And they never will,” she agreed.
“But do you ever think of your mom? What it must have been like when she drew her last breath?”
he asked.
“All the time. But it still doesn’t help me,” she said.
“I can’t get it out of my head,” said Phillip “I just dreamed about it. I relived all of the key points to that day, my last moments with her, seeing the ship burn from the escape pod, even standing on the bridge watching them burn.” Tears started forming in the corner of his eyes.
“I see it all too,” she said, “but unlike you I was there at her last moment.” She started crying, memory after memory of the horrific event cluttering her mind. “I never told you this because I didn’t think I could ever come to terms with it. We were on our way to the escape pods when a round punched through the hull behind us. We both grabbed the handles on the walls as the blast doors closed.” She was crying so hard she could barely speak. Phillip, fighting off tears of his own, comforted her with a hug that said the whole story. “She couldn’t hold her grip and she let go. I screamed at her to try and grab something else. but I was too late, the doors closed just as she went under them.” They looked in each others’ eyes, both seeing the pain this had caused them. They held each other for what seemed like hours. Sharing all their emotions, hatred, sorrow, and the tiny bit of happiness they had left in each other.

“Have you seen what’s going on?” she finally asked, still fighting her tears off.
“No, I’ve been asleep.” He said while wiping his eyes “What’s going on?”
“Nine ships just jumped into the region. Don’t worry, they’re all friendly,” she added after seeing Phillip’s face grow even paler.
“What ships?” asked Phillip.
“I didn’t check their names, but you’re not going to believe this: 5 carriers, 3 cruisers, and here’s the crazy part, the UNSC flagship Four Seasons is here. Its one of five capital ships ever built.”
“A Capital Ship?! All to see our little destroyer?” said Phillip, almost every trace of either of their tears eliminated.
“I told you it was crazy,” she replied.
“Do you think it has anything to do with Tranquility?” asked Phillip.
“I don’t know, but even if it is why not just send two cruisers to retake the ship? It wouldn’t take much with all the damage it’s taken.”
“Well hopefully it’ll reveal itself over time. At least we know why the captain was on his toes. He wanted to make sure the coast was clear for the arrival of the fleet.” Angelina rolled her eyes as he said this. “Well, what do you suggest we do? asked Phillip.
“I don’t know. I’m just tired of being left in the dark all the time.”
“I know how you feel. If only they would assign us some type of job we can do on the ship, then we at least are helping prevent our total annihilation, and then we’d have something to do.”
“And not left out of the picture,” added Angelina quickly.
“All hands to battle stations! We are reengaging the enemy,” said the captain over the intercom once again.
“That’s odd.”
“What?” asked Phillip.
“Aren’t the red lights usually flashing by now?”
“You’re right,” added Phillip.
“Come on let’s go.” Angelina started walking out the door.
“The emergency command deck. That’s where we go every time the captain says battle stations. So, the way I see it, it is our battle station.”
“Fine, let’s go,” said Phillip, “but don’t tell anyone else it’s our ‘battle station’, they might not like it as much.”

Phillip and Angelina sat at the controls in the emergency bridge. They had entered slip space a little more than two hours ago. Four Seasons was the lead of the battle group, of course, being the UNSC flagship.
“How long until we’re out of slip space you think?” asked Phillip.
“Ten, fifteen minutes maybe. With how random the last four jumps were, I can’t really tell,” she said and right as she finished the sentence the usual black that filled the view screen during slip space jumps now was covered in white glittering stars. And yet again in the center of them lay a ship. It was Tranquility.
“These guys must be pretty stupid” said Angelina.
“Why’s that?”
“Well, first they stole a super carrier and didn’t think we’d go back for it. Maybe if it was a frigate or a destroyer. But not a super carrier. And second they didn’t move it an inch after we left. leaving their position completely exposed.”
“Maybe they thought we were destroyed by the nebula” he suggested.
“Come on if you were on that ship what would you do?”
“Jump away, but what if they needed to stay here for something? What if they were trying to find it like an old damaged ship, or wait for a delivery on another ship.” Angelina’s eyes widened and quietly murmured “or an ambush.”
“What?” asked Phillip.
“An ambush,” she said with fear and terror rising in her eyes. “It’s bait. They set us up perfectly. They captured Tranquility because they knew it was a ship we would do almost anything to get back or destroy. Then they purposefully attacked us, but make sure not to destroy us, so we could come back with reinforcements. That’s why they didn’t even try and get a lock on us. The chances of destroying us were slim to none, then the second salvo completely missed. It all makes sense.”
“Wait a second. I’m completely lost,” said Phillip in utter confusion.
“Go to the sensors, checks for any objects in the nebula large enough to be ships”
“Just do it!” yelled Angelina.
“Ok, ok. I’m going. Sensors are picking up sixteen objects in the nebula. They are moving towards us,” said Phillip, finally realizing what was going on. Angelina typed on her display. Suddenly on the screen they both saw the captain was sitting in his chair.
“You know this channel is reserved for emergencies only,” said the captain in a slightly angry voice, “and now isn’t the time for me to read you a bedtime story.”
“I know sir,” said Angelina “but I have evidence we’re about to be under attack and Tranquility is the bait.”
“Slow down there. First who are you?”
“Angelina sir, but that doesn’t matter right now. There is a…..” The captain cut her off before she could continue.
“And second, where are you? It looks like you’re sitting in the chair I’m in right now, but newer.”
“I’m on the emergency command deck, but please just scan the nebula for ships. We found sixteen moving masses large enough to be ships and there all heading towards the fleet.” The captain mulled this over in his mind seeming to contemplate whether to yell at her for her disrespect and being on the emergency bridge, and scanning the nebula. He finally came to a decision and looked up.
“Major, you heard her. Scan the nebula for ships.” Even so, he still seemed to be pondering Angelina, his eyes narrowed as he stared at her. But she just returned his gaze, confident that she was right.
“Sir, sixteen enemy ships exiting the nebula. Just like she said,” said the major.
“Thank you.” The captain looked away from the camera and made the cut gesture to end the transmission.
“What ships are they? Can you tell?” asked Angelina.
“Hold on. Two frigates, ten destroyers, and four cruisers. Plus, let’s not forget Tranquility,” said Phillip.
“What do you mean? We saw the damage done to their hull, and we even heard that woman say earlier about how they could only get up to 80% thrust on their engines before the ship would be split in two,” she asked.
“I think they were fake,” said Phillip plainly. They felt the G forces swing to the left and knew they were turning around the engage the enemy.
“They may have more ships then we do, but we still have more firepower,” said Phillip to himself. Nine of the ten ships turned around. However, Four Seasons stayed on its current course.
“Must be taking Tranquility on by itself. I just hope to god Tranquility doesn’t have any fighters on board,” said Angelina.
“What about our carriers? Are they launching fighters?” asked Phillip. Angelina typed a few things on her console controls and brought up a screen of the carriers floating just behind the fleet. It looked like a huge singular swarm of angry bees coming out of their hive.
“Well, we can’t turn back now,” asked Angelina.
“Stick around. It could be fun.”

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