Talon of the Empire: The Resolve

The End of the Resolve

It was not long until the last tattered remains of Rebel resistance were either bombed into oblivion, or bombed into surrender. From their vantage point in the torn side of the once mighty Resolve Talon and Jan could see Rebel soldiers cresting the low hill, hands above their heads, some waving white flags. Doubtless others had fled into the rolling heights away from the ship, to continue the fight but much of their remaining strength was delivering themselves into Imperial hands. Lani had been dispatched to round up the prisoners along with the scout troopers but it was not long until Talon followed.

It was a bold move. Any one of these new prisoners could be carrying a concealed weapon and there were a lot of them, easily over a hundred men. Furthermore, the Rebellion had proven itself as not being above cheap tricks and dirty tactics to get their way, the odds of one fanatic with a grenade surging forward were worryingly high. But protocol, and perhaps Talon's ego, demanded that a surrender such as this be accepted by the commanding officer. Striding across the frozen waste, forcing back the cold by sheer force of will, Talon was the very image of an Imperial officer. He had taken a moment to wipe the worst of the grime from him and now, posture upright, hands behind his back, chin slightly raised, he was every inch the stereotype.

Looking over his newest wards Talon could not help but feel a little sympathy. Poking out from behind their cold weather gear he could see tired faces and worn eyes. These men looked beaten and downcast, as if a little bit of their soul had been ripped out. He was surprised at how quiet they were. He was expecting the groans of more wounded, cries of protest, sobbing, commotion. Instead, silence. It was is they just didn't have the energy to even be upset any more. This was partly true, but every one of them was lost in their own heads as well. Thinking on what would happen next, on the consequences of being taken prisoner. Some were envisaging the horror stories of torture and of being worked to death in sulphur choked mines. Others were thinking of friends and family they would not see now for years, if at all. Others were thinking of how long their captivity might be, of how old they would be once they were at last released.

It was not just pride, or his innate sense of duty, that had prevented Talon from surrendering. It was to avoid seeing those expressions on the faces of his own men, to spare them this terrible moment of introspection and the hard life that would follow it. Perhaps a selfish desire to spare himself this unpleasantness had been a factor as well. Many of these men may have been no better than terrorists once, and he still believed in the fundamental illegitimacy of their cause and their government. But these men were professional soldiers now and as such Talon could not help but feel a degree of sympathy.

Casting his eye about Talon spied one older man pushing himself up to his feet and almost limp over to him, keen to spare a wounded man any discomfort Talon wasted no time in striding over and saving this man the trip. What happened next surprised Talon, rather than first shaking this man's hand the Lieutenant Commander was suddenly presented with a sharp salute. Despite his limp, and slightly lopsided stance as his body tried to compensate for his obviously damaged leg, this surrendering soldier still had a sense of dignity and professionalism about him, you could see in his eye how desperately he was clinging on to it. Talon smartly returned the salute with a parade ground snap before removing a glove, even in the freezing conditions, and shaking his opposite number's hand.
"Lieutenant Commander Talon Rake, officer commanding the Resolve."
"Major Rizvi Hallarn. 114th Armoured Infantry. Officer commanding after the death of my superiors. I hereby surrender myself and my men into your custody." The whole thing was said with an odd, formal detachment. It was a coping mechanism Talon knew all too well, but he could see the man was on the edge of cracking and Talon could scarcely blame him for that.

Talon’s reply was just as formal, but it carried a conciliatory note as well.
"I hereby accept your surrender. You and your men will be searched for weapons and then invited into the Resolve to take shelter. If possible we will also see to your wounds." A silent nod from the Major signaled understanding and soon the prisoners began filling into the ship, Lani and the scouts keeping a watchful eye over the throng. Replacing his glove Talon fell in alongside the Major, walking with him to the broken Resolve. The pair walked in a heavy silence for some time, neither one of them able to find a suitable topic of conversation for what seemed like an eternity. This was not an occasion for small talk. Talon barely even felt able to look this obvious veteran in the eye.

It was the Major, who now had little to lose, that broke the silence.
"You're very young." He commented, almost idly.
"Pardon?" Came the undeniably young Talon's reply. Surprised that this was the topic which came up.
"You're very young." The Major repeated with a little sigh. "You are very young to be a Lieutenant Commander." He added, with a tone reminiscent of a tired adult explaining a basic concept to a child for the 12th time, all laced with the sadness of his position.
"It's a field promotion." Said Talon heavily. "The old Lieutenant Commander died and the Commander is incapacitated." Then after a loaded pause he added evenly. "Both good men. Fine officers." The prisoner nodded his understanding at that sentiment, having lost far too many good men himself over the years he knew it well.

But he repeated his original observation.
"You are still very young though. Was there no one senior? Even for a junior officer... you can't be that long out of the academy!" He sounded incredulous and disbelieving, a little shocked as well.
"Not long, no." Was Talon's matter of fact reply, he chose to omit mention of his strong performance and special courses.
"Has it gotten that bad?" Talon was not sure if he should be offended by that. But the Major was not done yet. "Do they have to promote people this quickly to fill the hole?" Talon looked at him quizzically. The Lieutenant Commander knew as well as anyone that the Empire was desperate for officers. But the Major seemed to think that Talon was an indicator that the situation was far worse than even the Lieutenant Commander believed.

Picking up on Talon's silent disbelief the Major continued, in a tone only achievable by old timers speaking to young pups.
"In my day an officer would have had to have years of experience under their belt before they attained your grade. You have proven yourself a capable young officer, but the Empire must be having some problems if they are putting fresh faced youths into command rolls!"

It was strange, Talon had taken this man prisoner, but now it felt as though he were getting something of a lecture from his captive. That was not how this was supposed to work and though they may have been speaking as one officer to another this man was still overstepping his bounds. Casting a slightly annoyed sideways glance at the Major Talon narrowed his eyes and retorted quietly.
"Promotions and appointments are made as necessary, and scarcely rashly. Need I remind you who has emerged the victor today?"

For a moment the Major seemed to forget the situation he was in, a slightly insidious yet gentle and knowing smile spread across his face, perhaps on the edge of saying something like 'now now an officer should not be so sensitive.' But then he remembered the trailing feet and hanging heads behind him. Reminded of the reality of his situation he simply hung his head for a moment as well and gave a little groan of admission and resignation.

But he did not quite seem ready to drop the point yet as he piped up once more.
"When I was about your age, straight out of the Academy on Coruscant, Regimental command kept me as a junior Lieutenant for years and years, they were slow to make me a full Lieutenant, let alone a Captain or more!" But Talon was no longer focusing on the issue of age, a subject that would have started to vex him had the Major not said something that demanded rather more attention, the reference to the Capitol.
"You were Imperial trained?" Talon asked, with a slightly surprised air. Then adding as a light aside. "It would explain the proper form and manners."

The Major let out a hearty chuckle at that observation but didn't comment on it. Instead he just said. "Aye, that I was. I was in the Emperor's service for over ten years. Everyone still believed in him coming out of the Clone War, the Rebellion was still a fringe group. But of course, that all changed." Talon was torn between curiosity and a sudden urge to verbally berate this man, shame him and scold him for hours for his treasonous conduct. It was one thing to fight for the Rebellion from the very beginning. But to serve the Empire and then turn against your brothers in arms? That was almost unforgivable.

But it was Talon's curiosity that won out, though his tone and choice of words suggested his disgust.
"Why betray the Empire, why turn on your friends and brothers? Why commit high treason?" The reply Talon got was almost biting in its ferocity and surprising in its suddenness.
"I betrayed nothing! I signed on to defend the people of the galaxy, to uphold a set of decent values. It was the Empire that betrayed those values!" Now the Major was starting to really get Under Talon's skin. The flawed morality and reasoning of the Rebels, in his opinion, and the fact this man had betrayed his brothers came together to instil Talon with his own righteous fury. But he kept a lid on it, as men of his stripe often did.

Instead, only a slight twinge in his voice hinted at his disgust and fury.
"The Empire can rightly demand the fealty of her citizens! Furthermore, she and she alone represents law, order, legitimate government and the proper constitutional succession. Why turn against that?"
"Alderaan."Came the glib, if somewhat weighty, reply.
"Alderaan?" Came Talon's response, again with a slight air of disbelief as if the man had just cited a triviality to justify a weighty offence.
"Yes, Alderaan! I had my suspicions before. But the destruction of an entire world! Who knows how many civilians were wiped out in an instant? It was not even a military target!" As wounded as this man was he was beginning to raise his voice, some of the prisoners behind him began to murmur slightly.

Talon was forced to try and bring the mood back down by replying in a near whisper. It has a harsh whisper, but a whisper none the less.
"You have been listening to too much of your own propaganda. Alderaan was a legitimate military target, a vital source of information gathering for the Rebellion and a base for their intelligence operations. Arms and munitions were also being sent there for rebellion pick up under the flag of Alderaan royalty. The government of Alderaan was a part of the Rebellion, a wing of their logistics and intelligence machine."
"That's not true and you know it." Came the similarly quiet but impassioned reply.
"I trust the intelligence." Retorted Talon, as if that were supposed to be enough to end the argument. A notion quickly quashed by the Major's response.
"Then you are a fool. And even if it was true. Launch surgical strikes against the bases! Do not wipe out a whole world!"

By now the Major was starting to vex Talon, and it showed in the frustrated tones of Talon’s response.
"Civilian density on Alderaan was relatively low and the projected amount of Rebel agents on the ground justified the strike. If you conduct a conventional bombing raid on a factory you will kill civilians. It is a sad necessity of war. The same principle applied then, only on a grander scale. The destruction of Alderaan and the Intelligence network festering there saved countless millions of lives across the wider galaxy. I agree, the civilian death toll was high, too high for my tastes and as a professional soldier I strive to prevent needless civilian death. I might have tried to find another way. But, there was still a good and sensible rational behind the decision, with the best interests of the Empire and her citizens at heart. It is by no means a good enough excuse to turn traitor!" By the end of that little spiel Talon's temper was starting to wear thin and it showed. His eyes were just a little too wide, his tone just a little too clipped and forceful.

Seemingly unaware of this the Major began.
"The deaths of..." But he was not allowed to finish that sentence.
"You are starting to wear out the privilege enjoyed by officers in speaking to one another. Soon you will cross the line into inciting rebellion and attempting to corrupt and Imperial officer. Such charges would make you a spy, not a soldier. I don't need to tell you what that means." Talon was right on that count, the Major seemed to grow pale and his steps faltered, even more than his limp would have accounted for. To be classed as a spy meant you lost any and all protections the law might have given him as a prisoner of war. To be labelled an enemy agent almost ensured an interrogation and an unpleasant execution.

But still, the Major was not done, saying in calmer, more subdued tones.
"I hope for your sake that, when the day comes that they ask you to do something even you can't stomach, that you will not be too deep in to get out."
"Stop talking." Was Talon's only, and forceful, reply.

The rest of their brief time together passed in silence, a tense and agitated silence until the Major and his men disappeared into the belly of the Resolve, to meet up with the rest of the prisoners. It was whilst the Major was walking away, long out of earshot, that Talon found himself reflecting on the extent and consequences of the Major's betrayal. How many of that Major's old friends had died as a result of that man, of the secrets he would have divulged? How many civilians were killed in the strikes that his information would surely have caused? How many of his former comrades had he killed with his own hands? How may good, loyal Imperials that Talon himself had known had died due to that man? It was whilst he was thinking this that he found himself muttering the words. "Rebel scum." With a venom worthy of Jan.

But with today's marvelous events Talon's mood could not stay foul for long, and it only improved when the welcome sight of Lani came lightly down the corridor with a feline step. But it was not only the sight of Lani that buoyed Talon's spirits. But what the trooper was holding as well. In each hand there was a steaming cup of caffa, a drink Talon desperately needed.

Settling down on a piece of buckled scaffolding, looking out across the wastes, Lani perched next to him and passed the chilly Lieutenant Commander a warming cup.
"Drink this up sir. You were a damn fool for going out there without even trying to wrap up warm." Lani's tone was mildly scolding, but only mildly. Talon began to retort.
"Protocol demanded..." Before he was swiftly interrupted.
"You were still a damn fool, now shut up and drink." There was not a hint of hostility in Lani's words, only a fond natured teasing. Had anyone else been present, or had it been many other people other than Lani, Talon might have put someone in their place for such a tone. But here, today, he was going to let it slide. Talon flirted with the idea of making Lani head of the troopers, the scout was certainly easier to work with than Jan. But Talon could not deny that Jan was damned effective, and demoting him might prompt a mutiny.

Raising the cup to his lips he took a long, slow draw of the precious liquid.
"Thank you Lani... ahh that's good." He almost seemed to shiver slightly as he said that, and his tone suggested he was like an addict getting a long overdue fix. It was not long until he was eagerly tucking away at it again, cradling the mug in both hands in an attempt to warm his gloved palms.
"Calm down sir. It's not that good!" Stated Lani, in mild surprise. "The machine's half busted. I'd look out for grease and oil in there if I were you." But Talon's enjoyment seemed unabated. Lani meanwhile seemed to unfasten a little plastic tube beneath the chin of that distinctive helmet and stick it into thier own drink, using it as a straw to suck up the steaming caffa.

Talon had seen this before, it was a standard design feature which allowed troopers to eat liquid ration packs in chemical warfare zones without removing their helmet. But there was no risk of that here.
"Why don't you remove your helmet Lani?" Enquired the Lieutenant. Lani answered by gesturing to the horizon and the crest of the hill whilst sucking, before taking a pause to simply say.
"Snipers." In an almost dismissive tone.
"Oh, so you stay safe in your helmet but you let me sit here, my head wide open!" Replied Talon, not offended but obviously having a joke with the imaginary threat.
"Who ever said I cared about you sir?" Replied Lani, in similarly light tones. Talon had only to gesture to his cup of caffa to wordlessly make his point. "Okay you got me there." Replied Lani. "But you might not want me to take off my helmet. I could look like Jan under here!"
"You know, I still haven't seen his face." He said, casting a sideways look at Lani and raising a curious eyebrow.
"Trust me, you don't want to. He looks like a dog that has been through far too many pit fights." Lani seemed to chuckle slightly at the idea. Conjuring up Jan's face in his mind Talon joined in the laughter stating.
"I can imagine." But Lani, still with an amused air, was quick to correct him.
"No you can't." Surprised at this retort, and his imagination now working overtime, Talon went momentarily wide eyed with a mixture of shock and appal as the most horrid and battered face he could imagine drifted across the theatre of his mind.

Upon seeing this Lani burst out into a merry, light laugh and slapped Talon on the back, causing the Lieutenant Commander to grin sheepishly, slightly confused at the extremely friendly display. Confused, but grateful. He was tempted to press the issue about the helmet, but he suspect Lani was evading him for a reason and he felt too well disposed to the trooper to push the topic. Instead he said.
"I hear a scout trooper ran out into open territory and single handed blew up an attack tank, causing the remainder of the Rebel charge to surrender. I don't suppose you would happen to know which one of your boys that was?" Said Talon, knowing full well it was Lani and with a semi sarcastic tone that showed it.
"I might." Was Lani's reply, in an evasive and equally tongue in cheek way. "Why?"
"Oh I don't know." Talon shrugged his shoulders before casually running of a little list in between sips of caffa. "Mentioned in dispatches, increased ration allotment for a while. Extended mail privileges, that kind of thing. Still. If they didn't make enough of an impression on you to remember their name it can't have been that impressive."

Without even looking at Lani he kept on drinking to humorously reinforce the idea of just how insignificant the effort must have been.
"You a shab sir." Said Lani, still clearly having a good time. But it was an interesting choice of words, something Talon didn't immediately pick up on.
"I know." Was his retort. Before adding. "But for insulting a senior officer I'm afraid I now have to revoke your privileges." The man was grinning like a Cheshire cat, but his tone was completely deadpan. Had he not been alone with Lani he would not have been having nearly so much fun, nor would he have been so relaxed. But, isolated as they were, he could afford a much needed moment of fun and even frivolity!
"You utter, utter shab!" Cried Lani, a little louder and on the edge of no longer being mock offended.

Talon just laughed though as the scout trooper seemed to fume underneath their armour.
"Your just digging yourself in deeper trooper!" Declared Talon, though his chuckles, a little healthy pallor returning to his cheeks before waving Lani into calm. "Don't worry your little head. You'll get the lot."
"You're still a shab for teasing me like that!" Stated Lani, calming down but on the edge of a sulk.
"Yep." Agreed Talon, a broad smile still plastered across his face.

The duo could have continued for a little while but their conversation was cut short by the booms of a few new ships entering the atmosphere. It had been roughly thirty minutes since the TIE fighters had streamed fourth from the sky. It was about time a ground team arrived! Talon was not disappointed when he saw several shuttles emerge from the heavens and land close by. With his communication equipment down he was looking forward to seeing the faces of his saviours. But he was even more looking forward to the emergency medical teams that were doubtless on those craft. In truth he was slightly vexed that they had taken a half hour to land. But he could scarcely blame them for their caution. With the Resolve unable to send or receive messages other than an automated distress beacon their rescuers would be unable to confirm a safe landing zone, necessitating a slower approach.

Draining the last of his caffa he saw to the neatness of his hat and his uniform and began to stride forward to greet his new guests, once again ignoring the bracing wind and sub zero temperatures. Lani just gave a sigh and a shake of the head before accompanying the Lieutenant Commander, who was clearly too stupid to look after himself.

As Talon strode forward medical crews and storm troopers alike poured out of the various shuttles and began tearing into the ship, bringing advanced tools and mobile bacta submersion tanks with them. Every man amongst them painfully aware that there would be patients within the Resolve where a few short minutes would make all the difference. Talon meanwhile, was cutting a way through the swarm and heading for the centre most shuttle. Coming down the imposing ramp Talon could make out the form of a fellow Imperial officer, a Captain judging by his rank badges. Striding up to the man Talon came to a parade ground snap and saluted sharply, and remained there, like a ram rod until the Captain returned the gesture, with an altogether more casual air not even pausing as he ambled off of the walk way.

The formalities observed Talon seemed to relax as well, smiling easily and speaking as one officer to another.
"Good evening Lieutenant Commander." Said the man with the semi aristocratic accent seemingly so common amongst the Imperial top brass. He had only been able to tell Talon held such a post by his rank badges. "Sorry it took us a little while to arrive at the ball." Stretching out a hand and shaking Talon's vigorously the man said. "Captain Allras at your service!"
"No need to worry Captain! You are just in time for the last dance! Lieutenant Commander Talon Rake! Much obliged!" Talon was calling out over the noise of men, engines and wind, almost having to shout to make himself heard.

The Captain paused in a moment of curiosity.
"Lieutenant Commander Rake? Crew manifest had someone else in the number two slot." Cried out the Captain, at similar volume.
"Battlefield promotion, the Commander is alive but incapacitated. I've been trying to keep things together here since the crash!" By now the duo were walking away from the shuttle and heading back towards the Resolve, the newly arrived Captain occasionally pausing to give orders to his men.
"You've done a bit more than keep things together it would seem! Gave these New Republic boys a fair old licking!" Said the Captain, with a bit of a chuckle in his voice and giving Talon a congratulatory slap on the back.
"We did what we could but we took a bit of a pounding ourselves. You and your men arrived just in time Captain!"

The Captain gave another small chuckle but kept striding forward.
"Glad to be of assistance. But we can debrief you back aboard my ship. We need to move quickly. I ran off the vessels overhead, but they will be back and with something bigger next time. Load all the vital supplies you can, then each man can take what he can carry and we are leaving this rock. We'll have to detonate the core of course. Can't leave any salvageable data or parts behind for the Rebels." Talon's heart could not help but sink at that idea. He had called the Resolve home for a little while now and had grown accustomed to her crannies and corridors. Even when she lay near dead on the Planet's surface she still felt somehow oddly alive. The creaks of metal and the rumble of failing systems were like the death groans of an aged but much loved whale. The Resolve was older than he was, she had a long and distinguished career. Ending it like this seemed wrong somehow. Wrong, but utterly necessary.

Nodding his head Talon said solemnly
"Of course, of course." Before adding, almost as an afterthought when he rose from his ruminations. "I have prisoners as well, about one hundred and fifty of them. They will need shipping to."
"That's not an issue. We will take them back for processing. Intelligence might want to ask a few questions." Talon nodded his head at this sentence, seemingly unaware of just what that implied.
"Indeed. I almost feel sorry for them, having to live out the rest of the war in a POW camp. Sadly it looks as though it is going to be a long, long war." Talon appeared crestfallen at that notion, and understandably so. Many of his older colleagues had been fighting for over a decade, seemingly without pause and there was still no end in sight. No one in their right mind relished a long war.

But the Captain was not about to dwell on this point as he declared.
"It does indeed. But let's not waste any more time Lieutenant Commander! To business!"
"Yes sir!" Snapped Talon and with that the two set off into the tattered remains of the Resolve. Talon spent quite some time doing what any commanding officer should, coordinating the loading of supplies, checking the crew manifests, taking lists of the dead, recovering what bodies he could, securing and destroying sensitive data and so on. As he did so nothing seemed quite real, it was as if everything was just an echo off from the material world, nothing was quite in focus. He was still recovering from the news that he would have to detonate the Resolve. He always knew it was going to happen. There was no way this old girl would fly again. But as ready for it as he thought it was the whole things was still more than a little unsettling .

After some time, when only the last few people were left aboard, rigging the core to blow, Talon took a moment to head into the shattered and crushed bowls of the ship, towards the crew quarters. Of the sections of the vessel which still remained attached to the Resolve this was one of the worst hit areas. The crumple of the impact, the heat of the blast and the atmosphere, the force of the torpedoes, all had helped bend this little part of the ship beyond almost all recognition. Talon was familiar with these corridors, or at least he had been, for he could have sworn some rights were now lefts and the number of times he had to go vertically up or down was alarming. Eventually though, crawling through tiny gaps and clambering over fallen girders, he reached a familiar door. His door. It was a non-descript thing for, what had been until recently, a non-descript officer.

His room had always been small, but now it was miniscule and twisted, bisected by a great durasteel pole that had been propelled straight through the room by some phenomenal force. Reaching under the crushed remains of his bed Talon drew out a great kit bag, into which he began placing a few choice items. The first thing he saved was his dress uniform, complete with his scant few awards and a copy of his commission. He could have had it replaced easily enough but he had become attached to that thing and was loath to depart with the original. The second thing he saved was a small collection of data pads, on which were various personal items such as his infrequently kept diary, a healthy smattering of family photographs and various other bits and bobs. Beyond that he had not brought many personal items aboard the Resolve, largely because he knew he would be reassigned eventually and the life of a military man does not lend itself to hauling around large amounts of trinkets.

But searching feverishly across the floor, through the remains of draws and under rubble Talon was scampering around for one last item. Eventually he found it, just as the panic at the idea it might be lost forever really began to set in, a paper envelop, covered in dust from the debris but otherwise untouched. It contained a hand written letter from his father, a rare thing in today's world of data pads, electronic storage and faster than light communication. It had been given to Talon on the day of his commissioning and he could not bring himself to part with it. He might have taken the time to read it for the thousandth time were it not for the approaching Rebels and the destabilising core.

He was about to leave when he paused for a moment and looked back. On impulse he reached out and grabbed a shard of metal that had broken free and was lying on the ground. He might be about to destroy this aged warhorse. But he could still not bring himself to truly abandon her. He was going to take a little bit of it with him. A little bit of the Resolve would take to the sky again and soar amongst the stars!

But with that done it was time to finish this rotten business. Tradition demanded that Talon be the last man off of his ship, and Talon was not about to break with custom during a solemn event like this. Shepherding the last of his crew men off of the wreck he looked back at the old thing and thought of all her battles, of all her crew, both present and past. Of all the stories that had taken place over the decades in those halls, tales of glory and tales of shame, of lives lost and battles won. It was slowly, and with a heavy heart, that Talon lifted his boot from the cold metal of the Resolve, knowing that no one would ever set foot on her again.

A short while later he was aboard the final shuttle, tearing up out of the atmosphere. Shortly before reaching the cold vacuum of space there was a blinding flash of light behind them, followed by a shake and a low, loud boom, as the core of the Resolve went up. Talon had though himself ready for the blast, he had braced for the flash and shock. But still, its sheer scale caught him by surprise. Metal was turned into mist at the heart of the explosion, everything in the Resolve steamed and melted. Talon could have sworn he heard a woman cry somewhere in the inferno, a great metallic wail of twisting girders and vaporising plastics. Perhaps the soul of the Resolve crying out one last time. Such a noise was imagined of course, but the imagination could be powerful.

But imaginary or real Talon could not dwell on it for long. Soon the shuttle broke through the outermost reaches of the atmosphere and into open space. Before him lay a great Imperial star destroyer, squatting in the sky like a floating fortress. The presence of but one of these intimidating cruisers seemed to project the unquestionable air if Imperial authority into the space around it. Wherever these iconic vessel sailed, there was the Empire. It was into the belly of this noble beast that Talon flew, into safety. Soon the flight back to the fleet would begin, where a most unexpected surprise awaited him.

His time aboard the Resolve was over, the Resolve itself was over. But for the young Lieutenant Commander, his war was just beginning. Barring the cruel twists of fate so often thrust upon a man in combat, his career still had many years left to run. He was surrounded by a fast changing galaxy, the chaos which swirled amongst the stars threatened to tip into full blown disaster on any given day. Old friends of the proper order had become enemies, whilst some old enemies were becoming strange new friends. It was into this tumultuous time that Talon Rake would sail, and it was the Resolve that marked the beginning of the transformation into the officer he would one day become.

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