I previously wrote a short story, The Defense of Garnax, that I ultimately wasn’t happy with. I’m going to take another try at it but do a little experiment. I’m going to try and write a little piece of it every day and post it here for your enjoyment for the month of March. We will see how far I get and what becomes of it.
The 0500 alarm blared in one of the officer’s bunkrooms aboard the PSS Hornet, rousing Ensign Carl Anthony, the recent academy graduate and sensor officer and his three compatriots from sleep. As awareness returned to them and the lights in the room shifted into a morning setting. The group of four tore the sheets from their beds and placed them in the laundry chute in preparation for the next shift to arrive for sleep. As the young officers finished preparing for the day’s shift, they made their way to the mess one by one in order to have breakfast before their 0600 shift began.
Ensign Carl Anthony sat down first with some buttered toast and black coffee. The sensor officer was soon joined by Lieutenant Bruce Deacon, the burly weapons officer, who arrived with a plate of bacon and a tall glass of orange juice.
“Eat up, Carl”, Bruce started. “Today is when we find out if the past five years of waiting around while the Ascendancy had their way up and down this arm of the galaxy was worth it. You’re going to need a full stomach to get you through it.”
“That’s exactly why I’m not hungry”, Carl replied. “They didn’t even have sensor officers before the virus hit. None of these new systems to replace the sensor AI have been tested in real combat yet, it has all been in simulators.”
The pair were quickly joined by Ensign Carl Anthony’s academy roommate, Ensign Chuck Stewart, who served as one of the ship’s communications officers and Lieutenant Commander Peter Cooper, the chief helmsman.
Cooper spoke to the nervous group, “I know you all are worried, heck, I am too. But by the time we go to bed tonight, we’ll be heroes back home. We haven’t even stood and fought the Ascendancy since the viruses hit at Dawntez and knocked out all of our AIs, they won’t be expecting an attack and they’ll be complacent.”
The group finished up their breakfast quietly and swiftly before they headed to the bridge as a group. The windows filled with grey during interstellar travel, a real downgrade from the orbital vistas they were accostmed to at the dock.
As Carl, Bruce, Chuck and Peter relieved the previous shift at their stations, General Penrose, the hero of Dawntez, and overall Commander for their mission sat alongside Captain Webster, another survivor of Dawntez, and Commander of the Hornet.
Unlike the beginning of most shifts, Captain Webster didn’t run any drills. Instead he stared ahead with the rest of the crew at the countdown clock, only five minutes till they arrived in the Garnax system and began their strike against the Ascendancy raiding party and provided relief to the militia on Garnax Prime.
At the two and a half minute mark, General Penrose rose and delivered a speech over the intercom.
“To the crew of the PSS Hornet and all of you in Eagle Company, we are just a few minutes away from entering the Garnax system. We don’t know the disposition of the forces we’ll face, but our mission is to make our way with all possible haste to the militia headquarters and engage any hostile forces we think we can easily dispatch along the way. This will be the first time in 5 years our ship’s have engaged with the Ascendancy navy, so be prepared for anything. While we’ve hardened our systems against their attacks and eliminated all of our AIs to prevent another disaster like Dawntez, we still don’t know what tricks they may have. This is what we’ve been training for and this is the moment we start to win this war.”
And as General Penrose finished, the timer hit zero and they emerged in the Garnax system.