A/N: So everyone, long time no see. I apologize profusely for my absence, I got distracted by other story ideas and life and the holidays. But, with the help of fellow author Pellaeon the First, I'm back on my bullshit and hopefully can create an actual schedule for this story. So sit back and enjoy, and feel free to drop a review.

Councilor's Vektec's chambers
Vektec leaned back from his terminal, giving a final cursory glance over the information he had compiled about Fel'dorun and the other attacked colonies, courtesy of Tarella.

"Vektec, Safeguard Artimund Kreskoss is here to see you." Litez spoke as the door to his office slid open.

"Thank you Litez." Vektec stood as he walked towards the door. A slightly younger Karackt walked through the door. If it weren't for his shorter plumage and green eyes the two could be considered twins. He wore a set of pale blue formal wear, with two bronze shoulder pads and vambraces. On his right shoulder he wore an emblem with four triangles encased in a larger star, the symbol worn by all Safeguards.

"Brother, it's been a long time." Vektec said as he embraced Artimund.

"It has." Came Artimund's coarse voice. They stepped apart and Vektec returned to his seat, beckoning his brother to take the seat on the opposite side of the desk.

"How have you been Artimund? Tarella told me you've finally spent time away from work." Vektec said.

"What do you two want?" Artimund asked simply.

"I can't even ask how my brother is-"

"You know exactly how I've been. Skip the pleasantries." Artimund cut his brother off.

"Fine." Vektec sighed. "Here's the basic rundown: the Colbatanns seem to be making a move. They've been using their slavers and pirates to abduct human, Chodatan, and Uzaran colonists. And they've rolled their regular infantry onto the Hargan homeworld. Now a Aesir colony, Fel'dorun, has gone silent. It's your job to investigate." Vektec paused, taking in his brother's stiffened posture. "Any questions?"

Artimund paused for a minute, taking this wealth of information in. "How long have the Colbatanns been doing this?" He finally asked.

"Two months apparently, longer for the Hargans. The full extent only came to our attention a few days ago." Vektec replied.

"And the Council did nothing?" Artimund asked exasperated.

"We can't work with what we don't know brother!" An exasperated Vektec retorted. "I know you hate that I took this position but don't blame me for this."

Artimund held his hands up. "Fine fine. What resources do I have?"

"Tarella is commandeering the Eonar-class Wild Shape stealth frigate. You'll have a standard armory available to you onboard, but you can bring any custom equipment you want. With its warp drive the Wild Shape should get you there fast enough to investigate before the trail goes cold." Vektec explained. He saw Artimund nod and mentally braced himself. He wouldn't like this next part. "And you'll be accompanied by three other Safeguards."

Artimund let a squawk of surprise before his eyes filled with fire. "What?!"

Vektec sighed. "I told Tarella you wouldn't like this."

"Wouldn't like this?! You know what happened to them...to Sata." His voice trailed off.

Vektec gave a sympathetic look, before standing up and placing a hand on his brother's shoulder. "I understand. But the CSC needs you. Fel'dorun needs you. I need you. Do you think you can do this?"

Artimund sighed as he stood. "I'll do it. But I want detailed files on my teammates. They better not be some helpless chicks."

"Of course. You'll be leading them." Vektec said as he sat down at the terminal. "I'll also send information about the colony and recent Colbatann movements to your VID. You should get going, Tarella wants you out of here in two hours tops." Artimund nodded and made for the door. "Good luck brother." Vektec called.

Artimund looked back. "Hopefully I won't need it." He said before he left the room, giving a respectful nod to Litez as she entered.

"Vektec, the Am'gar ambassador is ready to speak with you. If I may ask, why do you wish to speak to him privately? The Council spoke with him not two days ago." Litez asked.

"In case the worst comes to pass." Vektec said. Litez tilted her head slightly.
OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
Artimund made his way towards the Safeguard HQ on the Acardis, activating his VID as he walked. The device projected a HUD across his vision, displaying the information sent to him by Vektec.

'Fel'dorun. Icy planet, per Aesir preference, with great mineral wealth but a relatively new colony. Slightly smaller but still sizable garrison and well armed civilian populace, enough to give any invading force a good fight.' Artimund thought. 'Nothing entirely notable other than its location. So why would the Colbatanns send pirates there?'

He waved the information away, opening up the folder about his future...squad. He shivered at the thought as he entered the HQ, barely paying attention as he makes a beeline towards the armory.

'Zardek Hissin. Chodatan male. Service record: time in Aesir military (pre-Safeguard), stint on Listening Post 4, operations against the 7th Star Syndicate. Weapon preferences: heavy weapons, specifically experimental laser cannons and the Chodatan Charged Pulse.' Artimund paused as he put on his G7-Multi Terrain Glider armor, allowing his VID to synchronize his helmet's HUD. The armor and undersuit sealed and calibrated themselves, the sleek black pieces rising and falling as Artimund ran the necessary maintenance checks. Better to check now than plummet like a meteor later.

'Avinia. Aldran female. Service record: extensive action in the Tartek counter intelligence division, specifically preemptive action within elite strike teams. Assigned to subterfuge operations against criminal elements on Ildan and Agrra. Weapon preferences: shotguns, melee amplifiers and automatic rifles.' Artimund clicked his beak and checked the ammunition on his GS-9 Echo submachine guns. He inspected a magazine of the subsonic, explosive ammunition before nodding and holstering them.

'Liana Vernal. Human female.' Artimund shook his head and read it again. He hadn't expected humanity to already have a Safeguard. 'Service history: Starways Republic special forces, codenamed Y-4. Operational history unavailable at this time.' Of course. After 50 years humanity still doesn't want to share the specifics of their military. 'Graduated from the academy two years ago. Stint in suppressing the Genoa Liberation Movement. Weapon preferences: sniper rifles and machine pistols.' Artimund sighed, he already knew a human would be a handful. He grabbed his XT-0 Arc Special assault rifle and left the HQ, heading to the elevator for Docking Bay 45.
Docking Bay 45, 20 minutes later
Artimund couldn't help but admire the ship outside the bay window. The Wild Shape, in defiance to traditional ship designs, was vertical, tapering to a curved point at the bottom not unlike a leech. The engines were mounted on two "wings" branching off the top of the ship, each featuring a powerful engine while the warp drive rested between them on the back of the ship. The Eonar-class were known for their speed and maneuverability, making them ideal candidates for conversion into stealth ships by the Tartek military. Two powerful mass accelerator cannons, one on each side, were mounted towards the bottom of the hull, while a set of torpedo cradles were set alongside the cockpit on both sides.

"A beauty, isn't she?" A voice came from behind Artimund. The Karackt jumped as his hand involuntarily slid towards his submachine gun. He saw a shorter Aesir, though still stood equal to Artimund's six foot height, with short purple hair and wavy tattoos around his eyes. "Woah woah!" He said as he jumped back, hands in the air. "Didn't mean to frighten you."

"It's fine, I'm just a bit on edge." Artimund replied, moving his hand away from his gun. "My name is Artimund." He said, extending a hand.

"No hard feelings. Tenga, at your service." The Aesir replied, grasping Artimund's forearm, though loosely to avoid breaking the Karackt's fragile bones, a gesture Artimund returned. "I'm the pilot of the Wild Shape, Tarella told me to expect you." Tenga grumbled the last part.

"You know the Councilor?" Artimund asked.

"Ancestors no! She was just kind enough to tell me before she stole me and my ship." Tenga replied, laughing slightly.

"As fun as this conversation is," Artimund replied, "the Council has told me to leave as soon as possible. Are the other members of my team on board?"

"They are, I was just waiting for you." Tenga said as he walked towards the large door. "Come inside and meet them, they'll be in the armory most likely. I'll take us into warp and let you all know when we're about to arrive." He called behind his shoulder, beckoning Artimund with his hand.