Things have been quiet in quadrant one of the galaxy. Federation expansion continues to small star systems in the mid-core. Now they begin extending their reach to mining colonies that are of great interest to them. Influential words of how it is a benefit for the small colonies to join the Federation come into play. Many see it as an opportunity with such generous deals offered to them.
Others are cautious, having heard stories that the Federation makes things far more restricting. Those who do not take the offer find the Federation urging them to join. Many refuse to a certain point. The Federation tends to make the lives of independent colonies around them more difficult. No means of violence are shown. They are more strategic when it comes to getting the colonies to join.
The star systems under the governance of the Federation around such independent colonies are useful. They set up various trade routes and space stations. Federation fleets roam constantly claiming the area. Ships from the independent star system feel the financial sting of such tactics. The Federation makes them pay fees when coming into their areas. All of it adds up and begins to weigh on the star system. It leaves them no choice but to join the Federation.
With a greater Federation military presence on Premderia, over the last three years, things have become even tenser. The laws have become stricter and many pure-blooded premderians do not take kindly to what they have to endure. There is some joy as in the capital, those who are truly pure-blooded premderians walk the streets knowing that the honor guard protects them. No Federation forces have been allowed inside by the pressure continues to grow on such matters.
Among those finishing their training are two who have desired to fight for the crown as long as they can remember. The twins, Nima and Arlex, walk the streets and head towards the palace. It is quiet as it is every morning in the training grounds of the castle. They proceed down the streets with many playing. Several pure-blooded premderians inside the castle that are half their age practice fighting techniques.
"Kids today just want to have fun and no desire to become strong," someone says and they look behind them to see Jecran and Thromir Rideran standing behind them.
"It will be the extinction of our kind," Arlex says in a calm demeanor.
"As long as there is someone like you around, Arlex, our kind will never be extinct," Thromir says with confidence. "You're too stubborn to die easily by a common foe. They are going to need someone like you, and I am not just saying that to get on your good side."
"Why?" Arlex asks, seeing the two Rideran brothers know something else.
"I overheard a couple of those Federation officers talking. Another Federation outpost was hit yesterday by the Kirine. They raided and took what supplies they need. No distress calls were made by the colony either."
"Survivors?" Nasha asks next.
"Several, but more deaths than survivors. Most of the soldiers fighting to protect the colony. Civilians were mostly evacuated to safe and secure areas before the Kirine can overwhelm them, but it is strange?"
"The Kirine can't jam signals. Yet they are managing to do so."
"I am more concerned about what is happening in quadrant three. The Scourge of the South continues to run wild in deep space and the outer circle with none able to oppose them," Nasha adds to the conversation.
"We can't help all the independent star systems of the galaxy, kid. That is why so many are now turning to the Federation for the security," Thromir says with unhappiness in his voice. "I didn't like the idea of our kind joining the Federation but in the situation, King Andor had little choice. The Federation has been smart in acquiring star systems near us, and showing the prosperity of being governed by them."
"Besides, you should be focused on your test. We didn't waste all this time helping you two so you can fail," Jecran tells them with his laugh as the twins realize that they are at their destination. The two of them come to a large training ground in the capital which is only meant for the premderian honor guard. "Good luck," Jecran says as he and his older brother walk away.
They go inside one of the many classrooms. It is there they find multiple computers. There are two that are on. An exam that has to deal with multiple scenarios and the creed of the premderian honor guard. Each question is of importance. To be an honor guard they are not allowed to miss any. Both of them complete it and find themselves passing without question. It is only the first test as they get harder.
Next for them is an even greater challenge. They proceed to a locker room where several flight suits are hanging up. Six more young Premderians, all of them thirteen. None of them didn't show much focus. They all talk among themselves cracking jokes and look like they got much sleep either. They're not so quick to get ready either.
Arlex didn't like the sight of them and left as fast as his feet could take him with his sister close behind him. They proceed inside a briefing room where they go take a seat, Nasha approaches him. The rest of the young kids proceed in still chatting among themselves. It is up to Arlex and Nasha to keep an eye out for the one in charge.
Their eyes look straight ahead not moving to the sight of who walks into the room. First, they see Bilor walk into the room with the rank of Admiral on his shoulders. The second is Rolder. The last person to come through the door is none other than their King. The twins are surprised to find them present for one of their final exams.
"Be seated," Bilor orders and they did as instructed while on the screen in front of them pull up a map of an area. "The operation is called Cutter. We received a distress call from a Class one Federation frigate, called the Lemur is disabled and has wandered into non Federation territory not far from our star system. There are Hinrinel in the area, and tensions are high. If you witness any type of hostile act, you will engage. Your job is to protect the frigate until repairs are complete and Federation forces arrive to escort their damaged ship back to Federation space," Bilor instructs before turning to Arlex. "Your squadron leader on this mission will be Arlex. All orders will be given by him, and expect you to follow them," he explains next which sees a couple of grumblings. "I must remind you that this test exercise is graded and will reflect your final grades. Overseeing this mission and helping to grade this exercise we have King Andor and Senior Commander Rolder. So give your best," he tells them before going to leave.
"Attention!" Arlex shouts and they all stand up at attention before Bilor motion with his hand to carry on.
All of them proceed to a set of elevators. All of them pile in and take them down to the lowest level possible. There is a large room where there are multiple training simulation pods. Dozens of them and all stand empty.
Arlex set himself up in the first while Nasha takes a moment before going in the getting in the second. He didn't like the other members of the team take their time and talk amongst themselves. His cold-hearted stare is broken by a hand placed on his shoulder. He looks over to see Bilor looking at him. Arlex doesn't say anything as Bilor takes hold of his helmet and checks the straps on.
"They are young and deserve a chance."
What Bilor says to him is not what he desires to hear but is respectful. Arlex nods in silence before Bilor gives him back his helmet. He gets inside of the pod and straps himself in tight. When finishing he takes a deep breath trying to relax. He looks over to his sister trying to calm herself down as well. Eventually, they do.
The doors close on their pods and everything's dark for a moment. The light's come on along with all of their systems. The simulation starts with them coming out of jump space. As part of the simulation, a small premderian shuttle flies with them. Arlex takes the lead and makes the first contact with the Federation frigate.
"United Colonial Federation frigate Lemur this is premderian gold squadron. We have received your distress call and have notified the Federation High Command of your situation. We are here to assist you with repairs until Federation forces arrive to escort you home. Please respond."
"This is Lemur, we are grateful for your assistance gold squadron. Sorry for the inconvenience."
"No problem at all, Lemur," Arlex tells them before giving out orders. "Shuttle three one, proceed to dock and assist with repairs. We will conduct roaming patrols in the area to provide you with cover.
"Copy that," says the pilot.
An alarm on their radar starts to go off. Arlex notices the single bleep, and pull it up on his screen. A single hinrinel fighter far out of range it barely shows up on their radar. The one strength it has is it's somewhat fast but not fast enough against a premderian fighter. A cheap design in comparison to the premderian fighter, with more weaknesses than strengths. Arlex didn't waste time giving out orders.
"Alright, we have a single bogey; a hinrinel fighter in Sector nine. Looks like he is going away from us. Keep tight, and stay close to the frigate," Arlex tells them to find himself interrupted by one of the inexperienced pilots.
"Relax, it's just one fighter," says one of them before accelerating his engines to pursue the lone hinrinel fighter. "I am going to get the first kill."
"Wait," Arlex says in a hard tone. "It's a setup!"
The five young pilots didn't listen to Joran and his warning. They continue pursuing until something else appears on their radar. Something much larger. Arlex pulls it up on the screen as a Hinrinel cruiser comes out of jump space. The six kids didn't know how to react. Immediately the hinrinel cruiser starts opening fire, shooting down two of the cadets. Arlex acts fast and gives out orders.
"Dive down," he orders repeatedly.
Three of the fighters follow orders while one didn't. They climb and make themselves an easy target, getting shot down. For the remaining two, they breathe a sigh of relief until another alarm come up on their radar. Twenty hinrinel fighters come out of jump space going straight at them. The two remaining pilots froze.
"Go through," Arlex says to them three times.
"There's too many of them. We aren't going to make it," one young pilot complains in a panic.
The three break off and find multiple fighters pursuing them. One by one they are shot down. Each pilot shows little care if they are. Andor watch them step out of their pods and socialize among themselves while the remaining two pilots continue with a difficult battle. He switches to a camera inside Arlex's pod and sees his frustration.
"Keep calm, kid," Andor says softly while continuing to watch. "Focus on the fight."
Arlex watch as the Hinrinel fighters change their course and begin heading in their direction. He did a count on his computer to find only he and one fighter remain. He put on screen the only one he had left. It is his sister who is just as frustrated by the outcome.
Arlex acts fast when coming up with a plan. He analyzes the enemy's strength in terms of numbers and comes up with a sound plan. All it takes is nothing more than a second for him. Everyone sees the calm on his face and watch as he carries out his plan.
"Accelerate to attack speed. Nasha, lock on targets and unload your missiles, then fall in behind me. I am going to open up a gap for you. Deal with that cruiser. I will deal with the rest.
"These things have weak shields, not fast, and can't bank for shit. So let's use that."
Arlex takes point in leading his sister. They go full throttle. They lock on to six targets each. They didn't fire until they're extremely close. The two each fire six pulse missiles in total and twelve enemies disappeared from their radar. Six more are shot down going head to head. The remaining fighters split off into two groups.
Nima flies straight through the explosions and conducts an attack run on one of the cruisers. She goes in low and fast dodging all fire from the enemy turrets. When lined up she locks on to the bridge of their ship. She unloads as many pulse missiles as possible and fires her guns as well.
The weak shields of the Hinrinel cruiser show, as it only takes the first two for them to cause an opening for the other two to strike the bridge. The cruiser has its bridge burst into flames. Level by level the ship explodes. The Hinrinel cruiser launch two torpedoes. Their target's the Lemur. Nima shoots down two fighters with guns before taking notice of the torpedoes. Multiple fighters prevent her from engaging.
"Arlex, we have two torpedoes heading for the Lemur."
"Copy that. I am on it,"
Arlex breaks off his pursuit of the last two fighters from the first wave and goes for the torpedoes. He locks on one of them and fires a missile, destroying the torpedo making a large explosion. Some of the debris strike his fighter. Arlex remains composed and locks on to the other torpedo. He pulls the trigger but the missile didn't launch. A system malfunction comes up on his screen. He switches to guns and pulls the trigger but his weapons are not responding.
"Dam it," he says calmly before acting with one last resort.
He goes full throttle and gets ahead of the torpedo. There is no hesitation when flying into its path. Nima watches as her brother sacrifices himself. She refocuses on the last two hinrinel fighters and takes them out quickly before they have a chance at the shuttle she is trying to protect.
"Command, this is gold two. All hostile forces have been eliminated. The area is secure."
The twins both exit their flight pods and remove their helmets. Even though they completed the mission, neither of them show happiness on their faces. All the while the young kids laugh as they still joke among themselves. Arlex goes to walk over towards them but finds his sister grabbing him by the arm.
There is a flash of crimson lighting that strikes between the twins and the six kids who are laughing. As soon as King Andor appears all of them out their right fist over their hearts and bow their heads. He doesn't even look over at the twins. His attention is focused solely on the six who acted recklessly. They keep their heads down even when he approaches.
"How are you laughing when you are dead?" He asks them and they are silent. "Leave." His orders are carried out a d the six young prospects depart with fear and their heads looking down to the floor as they are escorted out. His attention next turns to the twins. "Come. Your final test awaits you."
The two are escorted to an empty training yard. Already waiting for him are several honor guards all wearing dark grey armor with red as a secondary color. Among them are Rolder and three of his four sons. Not seeing the one who has invested so much time in their training since they were children did bring a grim expression among them. While they walk Rolder mutter something they both hear.
"He is proud of you both. Just like your parents." He tells them and the two appreciate the kind words with a nod before their King gives them instructions.
"Remove your shirts." That is his first order. Both remove their shirts and take a breath before they each take a practice sword. They take a moment before entering the practice ground. "No magic is allowed. To win you either must have your opponent unable to continue, yield, land what we think is a killing blow, or knock them out of the ring." The two get in a guard stance and get ready. Both smile as they grip the handles of their sword. "Begin."
Nasha comes at Arlex swinging high. He blocks the strike and counters with a swing of her own. Both clash their practice swords and continue to smile. Arlex is physically the stronger of the two and starts to push her down. She gets close to going down on one knee. Acting fast she jumps onto her back and presses her feet up against his brother's stomach and flip him over. Arlex lands with one foot on the edge of the ring. The other is an inch away from touching the ground outside of it.
Nasha moves fast to try and capitalize on a swing. Arlex cartwheels, on one hand, to move off to the side, dodging the swing perfectly. She is relentless and does not allow her brother to get set. He kicks her in the face with a spin quick while on one hand. It buys him enough time to get back on his feet. The two clash multiple times with different swings not trying to be predictable. Being twins proves that the is a matter even more difficult.
Neither tire and everyone watches as they put on a display of brilliant and flawless technique. Nasha sidekicks him in the face and knocks him bin his back. She goes for several thrusts but he roles out of the way and swings his sword to have her step back. She comes forward and is struck with a spinning heel kick to the chin. Her body spins around but she regains her composure.
The two come around at the same time. Both have the same idea. They are precise with their attacks. Each aims their swing like they are going to separate the head from the body. Both stop half an inch from the other's neck. With the result of a draw, their King and those in attendance applauded the performance.
"Well done. A fine display."
The two bow their heads at one another and show respect by shaking hands, gripping the other's wrist. While the two do so, the King approaches them. They both stand at attention and bow their heads. The King extends his hands out in front of them.
The two of them receive their Honor Guard patches. Next, they receive a pin that looks the same as the patch. When Andor finish he takes a step back and gives them the nod. They salute showing their respect. They undergo another initiation into the prestigious group. The three are tattooed the symbol of the Honor Guard on their right shoulder along with their military identification number just below it. Something that's easily imitated by those who try to impersonate an Honor Guard, but is never officially duplicated. It requires one last thing before one is considered an Honor Guard.
He removes his glove to reveal the ring of the Premderian King. It shines bright like the crimson sun. He presses the ring on their flesh just above the tattoo. It leaves the mark of the silver crown and the crimson star. The crimson star has a small glow about it. The only way to spot an Honor Guard of Premderia.
"Relax," he tells them a couple of times with a smile. They did as instructed. Andor takes a moment and looks at each one of them. "Congratulations to both of you," he tells them which made the three feel good about themselves. "But it is far from easy-going forward," he added, making them lose it. "The two of you have chosen a very dangerous life. At any moment you can be called upon for a mission. For now, though, take your earned leave and celebrate, what so few can accomplish. When it is over I look forward to seeing what you're truly capable of." In response to Andor's words, they say two words that all Honor Guard of Premderia say.
"I have no doubt you will," Andor says with a smile before shaking their hands. "Now, if I am not mistaken, there are two friends of yours returning after a long absence. I am sure they would be quite pleased to hear the good news. Just make sure you report tomorrow. Your skills will be needed and will not see them dull from being idle."
"Thank you, your majesty," they reply with their heads bowed before running off in appreciation with Andor standing with Rolder and his sons.
"I only hope they change things for the better, your majesty," Rolder comments, and Andor nods.
"We all do."