03/19/3677 Galactic Standard,
Carter eased the ship further into the void and set it adrift. Five years ago, this had been the scene of a mass chaos as the Union ambushed a remote military outpost. A single shot had disabled his fighter, leaving him drifting as he watched the rest of his squadron blown away by the opposing force. His brother's fighter had been the next hit. He closed his eyes to the memory. In the heavy silence he could remember every frantic order and panicked response.
Carter leaned back in his chair and turned on the holotran to hear the yearly broadcast. He and Pete had listened every year as children. Afterwards they chased each other through the alley playing Union and Coalition fighter pilots. Carter was the oldest. He joined first, but Pete had forged and ID in order to join early. Carter didn't had the heart to tell him not to. He wished now that he had. He watched the holotran flicker on to Chancelor Durans speach. Almost onehundred years ago. What must the Chancelor have thought before his world fell?
"If this world falls, remember why we stood. Not to rule or to conquer. But to live and to let live. Let us not hate or loathe one another. There is room for everyone. Let us not desire our enemy's misery any more than we desire our own. We desire freedom, for ourselves, for our children and for our children's children. This is why we fight; not for the gain of power but for liberty.
If we forget this, we ourselves fall not only to the system that enslaves but also to the idea that drives it. Greed and lust for power have poisoned men's hearts, trapped worlds in a system so thirsty for control that it cast aside the people it was supposed to serve.
It is human nature to fall. With intellect we become self-righteous, with power we become brutal. We develop technology to connect us but instead we have shut ourselves in and have become hardened and unkind. Difficult days are to come. I tell you, do not despair; all is not lost. This will pass, tyrants will die, empires will fall and rise. Don't give yourselves to those who would enslave you, mistreat you and kill you. They will tell you what to think and what to feel, but they will never own you unless you let them. If we stand by our beliefs, we may die but liberty will not."
Carter turned off the broadcast and leaned back in his chair. That same speech was given the night the planet Ekran fell. Ekran had fought alone for more than a year depleting their resources in a hopeless battle. By the time surrounding worlds had offered help it was too late. The speech Chancellor Rosen had given hours before their world lost to the Union had finally united the leaders of the newly formed Coalition. They weren't able to win Ekran back, but they fought together to keep the Union from pushing forward.
Pete had always talked about smuggling supplies across the Union border to the rebels when his deployment was over. He had even restored their grandfather's ship, the Mirage. It took Carter a while to find his bearings in the smuggling world. How he wasn't already dead he didn't know. His brother had wanted peace. He saw smuggling to those who were in need and wanted to fight for freedom the best way to do that. Carter saw the logic in it. His brother had friends in the right places. He remembered meeting Quinn at Pete's funeral. Quinn was in his early thirties, bold, brash and well connected. He had picked up on Pete's passion to make a difference and had aligned it with his own ambitions. Quinn had convinced him to join. It hadn't taken much to convince him.
Meeting Quinn had given him opportunities that he would have otherwise never had.
Quinn found things that no one else could and he had the contacts and network on both sides of the border to accomplish things for the war effort not even the military could do. It had earned him the ear of the Coalition's Minister of defense. In five years the operation had grown to more than just a smuggling ring. Quinn had become a key source of intelligence for the Coalition. In exchange the Coalition government turned a blind eye to his less savory affairs and paid highly for his help, through unofficial channels of course.
Carter had been part of many of these missions, going undercover to bring back information. But nothing like this. He read Quinn's message over again. This was the most elaborate mission they had ever risked. It pulled every Coalition Intelligence resource and nearly every contact Quinn had. He and another agent would go undercover to a terraform world that housed nearly every technological advancement the Union had made. The chances of success were slim but it had to be done. All sources were saying that the Union was up to something big enough to win the war. Not even their High Council could agree, in fact they were arguing if it was even moral. All warning signs that had been recklessly cast aside.
Rumor was that they were on the verge of winning the war. A secret lab had been built within a top secret base. Their best operatives still hadn't been able to crack it. That couldn't happen. It was the one thing that aligned both Quinn and Carter. They would not let the Union win.
Carter looked into the void. Pete would be proud of what he was doing. It was what he had wanted his whole life. Now it was up to Carter to carry on his legacy. It was time to go home and join the fight on a new front. He would do whatever it took and go wherever he had to.