New Hope, Chapter 2: The Empire

Written by Ezra Stahl on . Posted in AE Stories

This is the second part of an ongoing story. If you haven't already done so I would recommend reading chapter 1 first, find it here.


“Commander on deck!”
It was the commander of the Arcial fleet, the most prestigious and effective fleet in the entire armada. He wore a uniform that seemed to be pasted with awards and medals on his chest. Each step he took had a jingle sound as his many honorable awards clicked and clacked. He wore leather boots and slacks with the navy’s colors in two stripes that went from his waist to the top of his laces. His face was freshly shaven and beared a scar that went from his nose to his chin, seemingly splitting his head in half. 

I stood at attention next to my many comrades at the front of the aisle that was made for the commander to walk down. He inspected us up and down as we stood rigidly at attention. His gaze was like a hawk looking for a mouse in a field. But in this case the mouse was instead anything that seemed out of order in his fleet of soldiers. As we were the prestigious and honorable fleet, the Arcial fleet!

The commander stopped in front of the man next to me, he was a cruiser shield operator. Arguably one of the most dangerous jobs in the fleet. Nevertheless he still had a fault about him, his belt was not on. Maybe it was a fact of simple forgetfulness or outright disobedience, but it didn’t matter, the commander was going to scold him just the same.
“Sargent! What is your name?”
“Steven Port Walker, Sir.”
“So, Walker... any reason you chose not to wear a belt today?”
“No sir, it was a mistake sir.”

The Commander stared him down, as if he was trying to communicate something to the soldier. I couldn’t see everything as it was out of the corner of my eye I could see this ordeal and I did not dare to break attention to be entertained by a shield operator being chewed out.
“You best take care of yourself before those pants fall down sergeant.”
“Right away, sir!”

The operator turned around and left the cafeteria. I sort of felt bad for him because he was going to be missing out on the entire reason the commander was here. Obviously it wasn’t for the gruel that was served. Commanders got a special mess hall where prepared meals were served. Although in the operators mess it was a grey gruel that had the consistency of butter. The gruel was invented by scientists to provide vast fleets with the necessary carbohydrates and vitamins in the cheapest way possible.

Then as if to answer my question he called my name, “Can I have a word with you in my office Jonathan Cathelo.” He turned around and marched out of the mess hall. I followed close behind, and my heart was beating even faster than when I had to do a mid warp engine repair. That’s one of the most dangerous things that an engine operator can do on any ship but if you don’t do it the entire ship will collapse into an implosion. Although on the other hand, you can incinerate the entire ship when replacing an antimatter relay.

He led me to a part of the ship I had never been on, instead of the familiar clack of my boots on the metallic floors of the cruiser, it was instead white and blue carpet that lined the halls. The same colors of the World Order’s flag. He led me to the small part of the ship that was meant for turning into a mobile command center. These were built standard in any ship bigger than an ion bomber. At any rate, it was lavish and kept well clean. He led me to an even smaller room on the right with a glass door that had his name, “Commander Overa” written on it. He opened up the door and led me to a seat in front of his desk. It was leather and felt like he sank into it too much. This felt quite new, and pretty uncomfortable as I am used to the metal chairs that were in each quarter.

64 the empire
The commander sat down heavily in his leather chair and leaned over his, “desk”. It was more of a giant touch screen with a holographic interface. He waved his hand over it and almost immediately computer fans could be heard. The Arcial Fleet emblem appeared floating above the desk rotating slowly.
“What you're about to hear is top secret. Whatever you hear in this room is a matter of fleet and global security. If any of this information happens to circulate, we know who has it. And as a matter of yours and everyone's safety, that must not happen. Do you understand?”
“Yes sir!”

The emblem disappeared and revealed a three-dimensional map of the solar system and it’s planets. It also showed where all the fleet currently was in green. It could easily be seen that our fleet of cruisers was deployed in the asteroid belt. But something else was there, moving slowly but highlighted in red. From the way it was moving it was heading towards the large asteroid, “New Hope”.
“As you can already probably see, our sensor drones in sector Alpha were destroyed and what ever did it, is headed this way. Now you are probably wondering why this even matters to you, an engine operator, well that’s just the problem.”
“I don’t quite understand sir.”
“Well you see, we have been watching your skills on our cameras in the engineering bay, and they are exemplary to say the least. So, I’d like you to serve as the Head Engineer aboard my fleet carrier the Valkyrie. It’s your choice, all you’d have to say is yes and your pay and importance both become satisfyingly high.”

I was astonished, fleet carriers had the highest capacity for fighter transport. It had a huge shielding bay that housed 400 fighters. This was one of the prevailing designs as it could quickly wipe out any assailant almost immediately after it dropped out of warp and pack up and move on as if nothing happened. Currently there were only five fleet carriers in the empire’s armada; The Nautilus, Valkyrie, Atlantis, Galactus, and The Midway. Out of all of them the Valkyrie was one of the new classes of ships. What makes them different from the other carriers was it’s new shield designs.

Between 400 engines of the fighters, shield maintenance, and not to mention hull and fighter damage from encounters with the enemy, it was going to be one hell of a job. But on the other hand I would never have this chance again if I decline, and that would just be plain rude.
“I graciously accept your offer sir.”

Story sent by Ezra Stahl for the AE Stories event.