The Last oft the Brave : Divided We Fall

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CHAPTER ONE

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DECEMBER 22, 2551 [14:32] (Military Calendar)

ORBITAL REPAIR PLATFORM WILLIAM FRANCIS GIBBS

CONSTANTINOPLE, ERIDANUS SYSTEM, SECTOR 007

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Commodore Forest stood in the elevator as he waited to arrive at the level that the cradle had the ship-to-station tether. Just six months ago the various Admirals that run the entire fleet had shockingly gone forward with the insane but ideal plan the resurrect the Spirit of Endurance after letting her rot in orbit of Eridanus II when she blew out her back. It was their fault that she never got the proper send off, they had avoided her major maintenance like the plague because she needed special docking stations like the William Francis Gibbs.

During that time, the Fleet had virtually cannibalized her for parts in order to keep the Excalibur, Buran, and the Lancelot functioning during the last few years of the entire Endurance Classes operation. Since 2490 she has been left in a decaying orbit. Thankfully, the people on Eridanus II had been continually resetting her orbit preventing her from being a gigantic chunk of falling space debris.

Now she was back where she belonged within the Fleet.

After a minute he felt the elevator stop and walked out seeing the hustle and bustle of the various engineers, dock maintenance workers, and her temporary crew running around. In the corner he saw the various Naval architects who were doing a study on her in order to refit the existing Columbia Class vessels to be more robust and damn near indestructible. Walking up to the windows he saw floating in space the Spirit of Endurance. The old vessel was sitting there silently waiting for her crew to be assigned in the upcoming weeks. On her hull he could see the various engineer’s plasma torching and riveting her armor in place while the “worker-bee” ships held them in place. Each piece of thirty-inch-thick titanium armor was repainted with the standard military color, but he could see the distinct marks that she once held in her “classic” configuration long ago.

Smiling he continued into the ship. Walking down the hallways, he could smell the newly cleaned interior and made his way to the CIC to where Admiral Hoshino was waiting.

After a short walk to the interior of the ship, he saw the heavy doors sitting open as the operations crew installed the various computer systems back onto the ship. Standing there, in the middle of the ship, illuminated by the LEDs from above was Admiral Hoshino a smile beaming off his face.

“Admiral.”

“Beautiful, isn’t she?” Looking around he nodded.

“I personally never served on one of these. That said, she is one of the most unique looking vessels.” Chuckling under his breath, he could not help but notice that the ship looked like a cheap Battlestar Galactica rip off from a show from the 20th century. She was still an engineering marvel 250 years later. “Could use a little bit of cleaning here and there.” The ship was not remotely squeaky clean, barely up to fleet standards, there was still obvious mildew and mold in her hallways from not having her life support systems properly running for years. However, the Health and Safety crews will take care of that quickly. “I suppose you are the one overseeing this operation?’

Nodding the Admiral looked at him.

“My ship. Plus, my standing orders are still in place, so I had to tell the crew exactly what needs to be done and what to leave alone.”

“Like the computers?” Asked Forest. “Aren’t these grossly outdated?”

“Yes, but unlike most vessels these aren’t networked, so if a person managed to infect the main system memory most systems would be unaffected.” Nodding, Forest knew that there was still a chance that the Insurrectionists might just decide to wage cyberwarfare rather than a brute force attack. “Now, walk with me?” Gently nodding, he followed the Admiral as he gestured. “Major Kyra?”

“Yes, sir?’ Said a woman from up above.

“You have the com.”

“Aye, sir.” Following the Admiral as he walked towards the observation deck, the two walked in silent, their feet echoing. Normally there would be a hum that would meld the two together. But the engines have not been launched yet. That will be in a few weeks.

The Admiral opened the door in front of them, bringing them into Forward Observation. It was once reserved for the Fleet Admiral who served aboard as his personal office. Standing there, the Admiral turned around.

“Son…” He spoke. “There is something I want to do for you.”

“Yes?” Said Commodore Forest. The Admiral reached up and pulled his pins off his neck. The Admiralty pins.

“It’s time you get moving up in the world. We are going to need some good men higher up. I personally think you should be one of them.” Commodore Forest looked at the old man and shook his head.

“Sir, I am not deserving of those pins.” The Admiral furrowed his eyebrows and looked at him before walking up to him. “I have gotten a lot of good men and women killed, done some questionable things back when I was in intelligence.”

The Admiral put his hand on his shoulder.

“I know. Thing is, we make mistakes: people die, and we must live with it. I need someone I can trust; someone I know who is willing to take responsibility and make this place a better world. That person is you. Congratulations, Admiral.” Reaching up, Admiral Hoshino reached up and removed Forest’s pins from his neck before replacing them with the old gold ones that have sat on his uniform for decades. “Now, that’s better.”

Now admiral, Forest looked up at the old man and asked, “You really are dying, aren’t you?”

Nodding the Admiral looked at him. “I only have a year or two at best. So I am handing the reins over to you. You are ready for this job, I know it. Plus, currently I am the only one preventing this fleet from going tits up, there is corruption, and we know someone else is pulling the strings deep down. I need to keep the status-quo. Understood?”

“Understood…” said Forest, he knew exactly who was pulling the strings throughout the fleet. He would not be surprised if they were the reason why the Insurrectionists broke the cease fire, or why they ordered him to send his best friend on a mission to test an experimental cloaking device, leading to his death. “Admiral?”

“Not Admiral, Kazu.” Said Hoshino

“Kazu.”

“Where are you planning on going?”

“Home, spend what time I have left with my husband, before I come back here on my final mission.”

“What is that?”

“To see my baby off.” Admiral Forest smiled gently at the old man before hugging him. “This is my final duty.”

“I know, old friend.” Putting his hand out in front of him, the two shook hands before parting one last time. “Good luck, sir.” Forest looked as the Admiral walked away towards his final call.

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