Captain Sythen, the ace pilot of starfighter Shinnema, is called to duty once again.
This character-prompt piece was written as a thank-you for DoodleNoodleSpoodlePoodle/
1148 words | 5 min
Sythen’s headset beeped, interrupting him mid-laugh. Lifting one hand to the device, he also held the other up, causing his companions to also fall silent.
“Captain Sythen,” he answered.
“Captain,” a voice sounded in his ear, “report for duty. Capture planet Fegian. Coordinates and briefing have been transmitted to your ship’s navicomputer.”
“Got it.” He stood up, downed his glass, mock saluted to his drinking partners, and declared, “Duty calls.”
“Give ‘em hell!”
“Show them what for!”
“They should surrender already!”
A round of cheers came from his friends.
“Bartender,” Sythen called, “Another round for them on me.’ This was followed by another round of cheers.
Sythen chuckled and exited the establishment. He was greeted by the busy streets and a pleasantly hot sun beating down on him. Thrivien station was in a colony uniquely situated to be a stop on many of the most popular trade routes. The majority of individuals in the crowds were Slarithians like himself, but there were also a good number of citizens of allied empires.
Strolling directly to the spaceport, he had no need to weave through the crowds – they parted before him. It was not far in any case.
At the entrance, he was greeted by the port guards, who gave him the briefest compulsory security check before allowing him to continue on his way. Expertly navigating the passages, he soon emerged into a vast hangar with several docked starfighters. He felt a sense of comfort grow in his heart as he laid eyes on the one that had become more his home than any other place. Shinnema.
He now sauntered to his ship, saluted by the crew, pilots and miscellaneous others that he passed.
“You did a good job fixing her up,” he nodded to the team around Shinnema, covered in its fresh coat of paint. “Thank you.” He patted where a deep gouge had been, now smooth and unblemished. As was inevitable, she’d gotten a scratched up from their last expedition. He put a lot of trust in this crew, and they continued to impress.
He nimbly scaled the stepladder, swung into his seat and buckled himself into place. His hands flying over the dashboard, the cockpit closed, the engine began to hum, and the navicomputer started to plot the course. He impatiently waited while the computer and the various crew bustling about ran pre-flight diagnostics.
Within moments of the all-clear being given, he was hurtling up through the atmosphere, watching the colony – and the exploited landscape surrounding it – shrunk until it all blended together on one tiny marble far below.
Once far enough from the planet’s gravitational well, and the calculations had been completed, he pressed a button. The FTL drive kicked in, propelling him into interstellar space. The ship’s computer notified him that he needed to watch the briefing. He reached for the dismiss button, but instead it auto-played.
He watched the stars blurring together while only vaguely paying attention to the mission brief. It was the usual story, some other civilisation was bad, they refused to cooperate or negotiate, war was declared, they must be brought to heel, for the glory of Slarithian-kind, et cetera.
As the briefing came to a conclusion, Sythen quickly flicked to the navigation screen. When they said Faster Than Light, they meant it. He was already almost at his destination. He again looked beyond the cabin, at the blurred lines of stars that floated in space. Vast, empty space that he was separated from only by a few layers of metal, ceramics and other materials.
A sudden lurch, jolting him against his harness. Stars returning to mere specks against the void. An orb rapidly growing in size. Specks departing the planet’s surface.
Rapidly approaching him was a swarm of fighter ships. One as large as his, accompanied by a swarm of several smaller ones. They opened fire with a volley of conventional projectiles. Far too distant. Glancing at the computer’s analysis of the shells, he stayed his course. He was soon met by the pitter-patter of primitive metal bullets scratching away at his brand-new paint job while deflecting off at obtuse angles.
“Those are going to ruin someone’s day, somewhere. But it sure ain’t mine.”
Flying at such speeds, he was soon in range to retaliate.
With a press of a button, machinery whirred as his own weapons emerged from the sides of his ship. A targeting panel appeared, he selected the biggest ship, and Shinnema took care of the rest. Sythen turned his attention to the smaller fighters while powerful lasers melted holes through the biggest.
Another volley, this time missiles. Tugging Shinnema’s yoke, thrusters on her side flared. The missiles’ trajectories changed to follow. Disabling point defence protocols, he directed his lasers to bring a swift end to the smaller fighters, he flew past the large one. A smug smile, the re-enabling of the protocols, and the weakened ship was torn apart by blasts from ‘friendly’ rockets as lasers cause them to detonate prematurely.
“Lasers: clean, efficient.”
This was no time to celebrate, however. Two more squadrons approached. Readings indicated that they had activated a sort of electromagnetic shielding that was sure to interfere with the beams.
With a bemused huff, the flipping of a molly-guard and the particularly satisfying pressing of a red button, something departed his ship and rocketed away from him. Pulling hard on the yoke, Sythen turned his ship so that he was heading in the exact opposite direction of the gift he’d just sent off.
His central display switched to show the view behind him. The other ships too tried to disperse, but they were not fast enough.
A detonation. A brief flash of light. With that, the ships had simply vanished – the only remaining trace that they had ever existed being the extreme levels of gamma radiation that Shinnema blared about.
All fighters taken care of, his next target was the colony on the surface below. Turrets on the perimeter walls already faced him as he approached. Lasers and missiles. Shinnema had already enabled her own shielding. While able to somewhat diffuse the beams, they were not turned to full power. Warnings blared as her hull began to heat. Sythen still wished to be able to return fire. And that he did. He repeatedly circled the city while one of his lasers dealt with the rockets that got too near. Turret after turret either came to a shuddering halt or exploded.
With the colony’s defences eliminated, Sythen finally came to a halt above the buildings containing so many scurrying creatures. He targeted official buildings, melting away at them until at last, he got a desperate transmission of surrender.
He relayed the good news to command and the awaiting transport ships that carried enforcement battalions while he patrolled the skies, dissuading any attempts at escape.
“You wanted war. You got it.”