Captain James Smith hated unmanned security halos. At the moment, the E.S.C. Imperial was stuck at an unmanned security halo that refused to allow it through. "Please enter your code" the computer voice droned again. Smith punched in his code one more time on the command screen, and once again the computer responded "Not recognized". Smith sighed;
"Davis, contact the nearest allied ship" Lieutenant Samantha Davis turned towards him;
"At once, Captain." She turned back to her screen, her attention gone from him. His gaze lingered on her;
"What ya waiting for, lad?" whispered Ensign Seamus Finley. He ruffled Smith's dark hair and turned away as if the conversation had never happened. Seamus had rescued Smith from a gang of thugs when he was child, and the two had been inseparable since. Seamus was Smith's mentor, and Smith the son he never had.
Smith's thoughts were interrupted; "Sir, I've located the nearest ship."
"Open a connection."
"Sir," Davis paused, "There's a slight problem." She stared at Smith, pondering his next move;
Smith spoke slowly; "What might that be?"
"It's the E.S.C. Tactician." Smith let out a groan. The Tactician was commanded by Smith's nemesis; Captain Vincent Skyrd. The two had first met in the Officer Academy, and they quickly became rivals. Both passed the Captain's Test with flying colors, both were put in command of Shield breaker-class starships, and both loathed the other. "Orders, Captain?"
"Just open a connection." Smith assumed Skyrd would be difficult, and prepared himself for a barrage of insults. The screen in front of him flicked to life, and the bridge of the Tactician appeared, complete with Captain Skyrd's smug grin. He brushed his blonde hair from his face;
"Well, if it isn't my colleague Captain Smith," Skyrd's sarcastic tone of voice cut like a knife, "I'm going to skip the pleasantries, what can I do to help you and your second-rate crew?" Smith decided to ignore Skyrd's insults;
"The Imperial is currently stuck at security halo J-47, as it will not accept my code. I respectfully request yours to proceed through." Skyrd smirked;
"Are you aware this is in directly violation of SDA code, and I have the right to place you under arrest?" Smith sighed, no matter how he responded it could only get worse;
"Yes," He hissed, "I am aware."
"You're lucky I'm in a good mood today, Captain. The Tactician's code is 7853."
"I appreciate your assistance, Captain." Smith shut down the connection before Skyrd could continue. He took a deep breath and punched in Skyrd's code on the screen. This time the computer accepted the code, and deactivated the shield array. "Lieutenant Davis, take us through."
"At once, Sir." Immediately there was a loud bang as the engines ignited. The Imperial proceeded through the security halo with ease. While the Imperial was a large ship by most standards, it had no trouble gliding through the halo.
From his balcony on the second level, Smith had a good view of the rest of the command deck. The pilots were performing checks of all the primary systems, while Davis kept the engine output regulated. Smith turned to Seamus;
"Find Rie and tell him to report here at once." Seamus turned to walk off;
"You got it, laddy." Smith nodded. Commander Rieland Noor was a D'Ershik, a sentient species from the planet Itre. They were a bipedal race, with a reptilian appearance about them. In recent history, the D'Ershik had become an industrial, modernized people, though some still followed the old ways of the Siris. Smith scowled, he didn't believe in the voodoo of the Siris, but half the galaxy did.
"Only two things can give you that face; Skyrd, and the Siris." Rie was standing behind him, arms folded, "I'm guessing it's the Siris right now."
"You would be correct my friend." Smith smiled. He and Rie had been like brothers since the age of 10, when the two met in school. Rie had been a foreign exchange student, and moved in right next to Smith. From their first meeting the two dreamed of flying across the cosmos together.
"Let me use the power of the Echa to cheer you up." Smith chuckled. Rie was referring to the Echa, a mystical power that the highest members of the Siris could control. Smith didn't fully understand the Echa, but he refused to believe it was a 'force that bonds the entire universe together'. Even more ridiculous than this was their Archon, a figure who they believed possessed the ability to control all of the Echa. Apparently, there hadn't been an Archon in over 500 years, so there was no proof that the nigh unstoppable Archon existed.
"Can't your people see the foolishness of the Siris?"
"Actually, there are more human Siris members now than D'Ershik." Rie let out a chortle, "That's beside the point though, what did you need?"
"We're going to take the ship through the warp gate to Lyair; can you prepare the ship for the jump?" Rie nodded;
"Of course, Captain. It will be done at once." With that, Rie slid away. Smith returned to his chair and sat down. He closed his eyes and was whisked away by his dreams.
When Smith awoke, he was staring at a gray-uniformed body. Slowly looking up, Smith saw a plethora of medals adorning the chest of the uniform. Then Colonel Hank Mayford's mustached face appeared. Smith flinched in surprise;
"Jesus! Can't you give me some warning?" Mayford scowled;
"Don't start getting uppity with me Smith. You authorized a jump to Lyair without my direct approval?"
"Calm down, it was a routine jump. We needed to resupply." Mayford chuckled, "What's so funny, Colonel?"
"It was a routine jump, eh?" Smith grew suspicious;
"You oversaw it yourself?" Mayford continued to smile. Smith suddenly noticed Rie was shaking his head vigorously behind Mayford;
"Yea…" Mayford burst out laughing;
"We haven't even made the jump yet, sunshine! Nice try!" Smith jumped out of his chair;
"Rie, what the hell is going on? How long have I been asleep?" Rie pushed Mayford aside;
"About an hour. We are prepared to make the jump, but the warp gate on our end isn't responding." Smith racked his mind;
"No error messages transmitted?"
"Did you check the radar?"
"Not me personally, but one of the pilots did."
"Let me see." Rie brought up the radar on the command screen. As he said everything was normal. "Well then I suppose-" A glinting object in space caught his eye. For a split second he saw the shape of a large ship gliding past them, and then it vanished. Smith glanced at the radar again; nothing. Yet something looked strange about the radar screen. Smith continued to stare at the screen, watching for anything out of the ordinary. Then he saw it;
"Colonel, prepare your men for battle. Rie, activate the cannon batteries. We aren't alone out here."