Two brothers compete for a position on an elite flying squad.
|It was dark and quiet. Lewis sat alone with tears slowly forming in his eyes. He reached around the small cramped space looking for some sort of latch or handle. He couldn’t find any. There where small holes that let small bits of light in and Lewis shifted to try and look out of one. All he could see was a bright light and shadows moving back and forth eclipsing the light.
Lewis’s heart jumped into his thought as something hit the wall where his head was at. He could hear people moving around and shuffling. There where no sounds.
A second time. The opposite wall dented in and Lewis started to shift. Tears streamed down his face. They felt hot as the dripped off of his face. He fumbled around for a latch or handle again even thought he knew he wouldn’t’ find one.
Lewis let out a slight whimper and started to bang on the walls. He was trying to be brave and strong. He didn’t want his brothers’ friends to see him like this. He heard voices from the shadows starting to snicker, which made him enraged. He started banging his hands harder against the dents in an effort to pound his way out. His 18-year-old hands started to ache, as the case he was in didn’t budge. He couldn’t take it anymore.
“KNOCK IT OFF” he choked out. He heard laughs again he started to cry more. He was starting to feel very frightened and scared. The bangs on the side of the container continued relentlessly as Lewis closed his eyes and plugged his ears. The case he was in started to tip and his balance was lost. The case, with him in, fell over like a sluggish tree. It pounded into the ground hard. As it did, Lewis felt his head smack into the bottom. His vision, if there was any, blurred and he felt like he was going to be sick. He felt something wet and warm forming at the bottom. He put his hands to his head feeling around. He stopped when he felt the source of the pain. He felt the same warm liquid and knew what it was. Blood. His mind went blank and he felt his chest tighten up
“LET ME OUT!” He cried out again as his limbs frayed back and forth hitting anything it could. Lewis started to panic; they weren’t going to let him out this time. He sobbed loudly as his arms and legs burned. He heard a familiar voice.
“What are you guys doing?” He knew that voice.
“HELP, LET ME OUT.” Lewis cried out hoping that he could be heard. He waited for a response. He heard small mumbles and finally the voice he recognized started to laugh. His heart sunk down to his stomach and he thought he would throw up.
“Let me out please.” He said calmly fighting back a mouth full of vomit. He heard the crowd around him snicker again.
“Ok guys, that are enough, let him out now.” The familiar voice said. He heard footsteps coming closer and he started to push again. Finally the top of the case opened him and the sun glared in his eyes. He still could only see shadows and blurs as he got used to the new light. Lewis’s eyes were red from his tears and his long hair was matted with blood. The wound wasn’t bad; it was just a nasty little gash with a few streams of blood running down the right side of his head. He covered his face to avoid any more embarrassment but the crowed saw it first. As his eyes adjusted he saw figures rolling on the ground with laughter. He knew where this was. He was outside the Academy. Tall green tree’s hid everything from site. The cool breeze felt good against his face as he pulled in deep breaths of fresh air. He then saw the man with the familiar voice and it changed into a familiar face. There was a smile on his mouth but he didn’t laugh with the others.
“That’s not funny guys.” Lewis said to a small crowed of laughing jesters. He looked at the ground to see that the case he was in was a weapons storage locker. Around the locker were large rocks about the size of his head. He saw the dents in the weapon locker and turned and headed to the familiar face.
“I bet you thought that was funny Noll.” Lewis said right in his face pushing him. Noll took a step back and calmly kept his balance.
“Come on Lewis relax. You’re ok.” Noll answer back to him.
“Am I?” Lewis said as he took his hand off his bleeding wound and pushed Noll again. Noll, stepped back a bit off balance but stayed on his feet.
“Look….” Noll started
“I hate you!” Lewis said has he pushed past Noll and headed away. One of the boys stuck out his foot and tripped Lewis. Lewis, already stressed and exhausted, went down with a thud. He heard everyone start to laugh…he didn’t hear Noll. As he started to get up he heard footsteps and a hand came behind his arm to help him up. Lewis pulled his arm away and rose to his feet. Lewis started to run with tears starting to blur his vision again.
“Noll your brother needs to relax.” The boy that tripped Lewis said from behind him.
“Jared…..” Noll didn’t know what to say, he opened his mouth but no words came out. He put his head down. “I’m going to head home guys, I’ll catch you later.” Noll said to his friends.
“Oh come on man, we where headed over to the docks to catch the ships coming in.” Jared
“Maybe tomorrow guys, I got to get going.” Noll said has he turned and started to walk in the direction that Lewis ran.
Lewis started to run into the woods. He knew where he was and decided to take the long way home. The Tree’s around him started to grow closer and closer together as he moved on. It was nice. Lewis felt relaxed and calm. He had almost forgot about what just happened. The last thing he remembered before being in the weapon locker was leaving the academy after a flight demonstration. Next thing he knew, he was stuffed in a locker and carried away.
Lewis looked up at the sky and saw dark purple clouds starting to blind the sun. He liked rain. Lewis knelt down on the forest floor feeling the dew seep through his pants at the knees. He heard speeders and announcements going on in the back round. Most likely the pilots and engineers where on there way home. He saw rockets take off climbing higher than the trees and slowly going out of sight. His home planet didn’t have a “proper” name his brothers would always say. KDEN-553 was the name the military had given it. But the locals just called it Kayden. Lewis liked it; he didn’t much care for where he grew up, or at least what he remembered of it. His brother Noll could remember more than him.
Lewis laid his head down against a mossy rock and stared at the clouds coming in. He could barely see the sun through the filter of the large gray masses. Then, he felt a rain drop. He decided that he’d better get up and go home just in case his brother was looking for him.
As Lewis started to walk the rain started to come down even harder as he dodged between trees and overhangs to keep his flight suit dry. The rain was coming down harder and harder. Lewis wasn’t surprised. He figured, what a perfect way to end this day. He came out of the forest and saw the street where him and his brother lived. The rain pelted down through the amber lights on the walkways. He saw someone walking out side, waiting. His Brother. The figured turned toward him and ran. Lewis walked out calmly to meet him at the end of the street.
“Hey, did you take the long way home?” Noll said with a slight touch of humor n his voice. Lewis smiled a bit and they turned and walked home.
Home for the two boys was a small, but nice apartment. It was the top level of a high-end complex. The boys where given special treatment because of there situation. Plus, the dad’s academy buddy was head of the training facility. The inside was basic and metallic. The walls where decorated with pictures of the two boys with a few of there brothers. There was an entertainment center covered in dust and two hallways. One Hallway, the smallest, led to the kitchen, which was basic and metallic. There was nothing more than they needed, but everything essential. A small droid was still cleaning up as the two switched on the lights.
Noll went the food pantry and pulled out something to eat. He tossed a few ready to eat meals in the food heater because it was late.
“I’m going to toss my flight suit in the wash if you want to add yours.” Lewis said as he walked down the other hall unzipping the front. He glanced at the plaques on the walls. Starting from the living room down to the halls, the walls where plastered with plaques and awards from his 3 other brothers and his parents. Sadly, most of the plaques were passed down to Noll and Lewis because they were the last remaining members of there family.
Lewis’s room was an exact mirror of Noll’s. Both rooms where at the end of the hallway and both had there on restrooms and refreshing stations. Lewis’s room was simple. Three of the four walls where windows that looked out on the forest and mountains. He removed his jump suit and laid it on the floor near the entrance. He slipped into some clean cloths and walked to the window.
Lewis saw pilots coming in from recon missions. The ships appeared as a haze of blurry lights through the drips of the rain. Tomorrow was the flight test and Lewis didn’t feel up to flying. He guessed that is why Noll’s friends gave him a hard time. There was a knock at the door.
“Yeah?” Lewis said as he walked to the door.
“Lets get some Dinner.” Noll said as the door swung open.
Lewis picked up his flight suit and tossed it into the washer where Noll’s was waiting. He started the wash cycle and they walked to the kitchen. Two meals where waiting for them on the table. In the middle of the table was a deck of cards. Lewis smiled.
“I thought we could just relax a bit, take it easy for the big day tomorrow.” Noll said to him
“I don’t know you can relax knowing I’ll beat you again and again.” Lewis said jokingly
“Hey, nothing was official.” Noll said
“Well maybe tomorrow we can settle in.” Lewis answered as he took a bite of food.
“I remember dad saying that you had a special talent.” Noll said softly. “He’d be proud of you.” Lewis was quite for a moment.
“Me? Your head of the class, top recommendation for special ops and recon and best marksman I know. I can just fly very dangerously.” Lewis said modestly. They both smiled and took a few bites. Noll carried on about the flying conditions and Lewis just listened. He was all too familiar with his brother. Dinner and cards was Noll’s way of apologizing. Noll knew what he was doing and Lewis accepted it. After dinner, the droid cleaned up the mess and the two gambled away fictitious objects for fun just to pass the time. They both where ready for he next day and they knew it.
The next day was gloomy and damp. The rain fell in small sprinkles. Not enough to disrupt the day’s events but enough to give the air a damp earthly quality. The two brothers walked down the street headed to the airfield. Today there were going to test for the three positions in the Space Fleet recon team. Everyone knew that Noll would get the spot but the other two where up in the air.
“So, what do you think the new ships will be like?” Noll asked Lewis.
“Well, most likely all the new updates that we have been hoping for plus some. I’m not sure what to expect because the whole project is hush hush.” Lewis said to Noll as they walked.
“Are you nervous?” Noll asked him calmly?
“Hah!” Lewis said. He was nervous but didn’t show it. “I’m not the one everybody is looking for to succeed.”
They both laughed as Noll’s comlink buzzed. Lewis knew that he had to do his best and was actually really nervous, He wasn’t sure if he could handle being at the base by himself with his older brother off flying missions. He had to do good today and he could leave this place behind him.
“So guess what.” Noll said
“What?” Lewis shrugged
“We are flying near the Argent Maze.” Noll said
“Really.” Lewis said with a pause, “This is some sort of position that opened up. Flying that close to a quad of black holes must be dangerous.”
“Yeah, not to mention the superstition about the place. I bet it’s a big psychological move.” Noll added. “ It will be interesting to see who drops out just from the legend.”
Lewis and Noll continued to walk towards the base. It was overcast still and a slight breeze picked up. The two could see the shimmer of the academy as the approached it.
The academy was a simple building from the looks on the outside. It was a concrete building with large windows on each floor. It looked more like simple office buildings. All around the out side where flight strips. A few hangers where scattered around the grounds with guard towers and hidden defense systems located near them. Most of the important stuff was under ground. The Hangers usually retracted back to open up a launch tube. The idea was that if most of the valuable items where underground, then that would keep them safe. A few commercial and leisure plans would take off and land periodically. There was nothing to suspicious about it.
Noll and Lewis came to the building and slide their ID cards as the door swished open. The familiar metallic smell of the building greeted them as they stepped in. The inside of the building was different. The Walls where lined with pictures of pilots and awards that most of the staff had received. There was also displays and new information concerning the galaxy as a whole.
The Lobby opened up to the roof where there was a model oft a ship. New recruits would learn that this was the first ship to take off and land at the academy. Office workers at desks sat behind the reception desk typing away at their workstations. The two brothers then said goodbye to the lobby as they stepped into the lift and headed underground. The door then opened up to a briefing room filled with pilots and a flight general.
Lewis heard a few laughs and snickers coming from the group. He assumed they where all towards him and put his head down to ignore them. Lewis and Noll took the last two seats in the back. The flight general stood up and faced the pilots.
“I am General Arcio and I would like to welcome you to this de-briefing. Today would be a great day for some and perhaps could open the door to a bigger world. For others, it will be a chance to learn about your self and put your skills to the test. It’s a way to refine what you have learned as well as tap into your instinctive pilot skills. Today we have the best group of pilots in the Galactic Navy. The mission you are training for is Top Secret, and you will not hear of it yet. We do have the youngest pilot ever applying for class A pilot position.” Arcio gestured towards Lewis.
Lewis looked down at his feet and then around the room. Everyone was looking at him with a slight smile on their faces. The other pilots didn’t seem to share the same excitement over Lewis exceptional pilot skills.
“We will be taking a transport to a location just out side the Argent Maze.” Arcio continued. There where scattered mumbles and whispers. Arcio took a moment to pause and let this sink in.
“What’s the Argent Maze?” a tall pilot asked. There where a few light chuckles and the room fell silent again.
“The Argent Maze is probably one of the most popular stories that gets tossed around flight schools and shipping lanes. It’s a bit of a legend one might say.” Arcio said. ”There is a quad cluster of black holes around a very large gas giant. They say that there is no way to see what’s on the other side of the planet because as soon as you head to far over, the combined power of the black holes pulls you in with no escape. Legend also states that on the other side are the most beautiful sights you will ever see in your life. The black holes are pulling apart the Gas giant creating radiation spikes and is said to be rather fantastic. Most people are just curious to see what it looks like. Some say that you see the other side and your are so transfixed by its wonder you are left speech less.”
“One of my dads friends went around the side of the planet to see and he never came back.” A small brown hair pilot stated.
“That’s quite enough talk about legends now. Despite what people say about it, it cause a lot of radiation discharge and it affects ship controls and communications. We are going to fly new, top of the line ships out there to test them out against all extreme scenarios. You can make your own assumptions about the legends if you want. All I’m here to do is train you. ” Arcio said.
The lights shut down and a view scene appeared showing a map of the galaxy. Lewis felt some one slap him on the head as he turned. He saw Jared’s face right behind his.
“Don’t even think about taking my spot Lewis.” Jared hissed at him through his teeth.
“Look man, we all want the job, don’t go threatening my brother now. We’re going to miss the briefing.” Noll said.
Lewis looked at his brother. This was the first time his brother stuck up for him. Lewis had to get the job. He had to get out of here with his brother.
“…And finally, I’m betting you all want to see the ships you will be testing. We have two here for test.” Arcio added at the end of the briefing. “Well, here they are.” Arcio pressed a button and the hanger door opened to show two black and silver ships sitting next to each other. The ships were knife shaped with two long wings jutting out from the back. Each had an engine thruster at the end with a pair of duel lasers. The pilots seat was located in the middle of the hull with two more subspace engines above and two more below the hyper drive machinery. At the tip of the ship there where two more laser canons and hanging from the bottom where four missile shafts. The size of the ship was large for a single persons fighter and didn’t look like it could maneuver that well.
“You all have schematics and I want you to look it over. It flies the same as the ships your used to but has a few special modifications. Radiation shields, a new quad laser tracking system and 4 ports for rockets. You have two hours to gather your things for a two week training missions. Everything you need to know is in your briefing. So, I’ll see you in a few hours.” Arcio explained to them.
Everyone got up to leave. Chairs made clanging noises and the pilots made there way to the door. Lewis and Noll gathered there stuff and made there way out the door.
“I’ll make sure we get our supplies ordered.” Noll said as he walked over to the logistics station. Lewis took a seat by the window and started to look through his papers. He saw the blueprints for the ship and began to figure out the mechanics and handling. He figured if h know all the “concepts” of flying this ship, then it would be easier for him to put is ideas into practice once aboard the ship. The light shifted as he looked up, it was Jared.
“ I suppose you think you’re quite the scholar. Picture books are ok for the kids, but when you’re out in space, it’s a different story. I’m going to make sure you cry.” Jared said as he slapped the briefing out of Lewis’s hands. The papers and holo-docs fell the floor out of order. Jared managed to kick them scattering them across the floor as he walked away.
Lewis started to gather his belongings as Noll came up behind him.
“What happened here?” Noll asked
“You know me, I’m just clumsy.” Lewis said not raising and eye towards Noll.
“That you are. I got all our flight suites and containment rations for the trip. They are even putting them aboard the ship for us. This is something new.” Noll said as he helped Lewis gather the rest of the documents.
“What do you think of the ship? Think it will fly well?” Lewis asked.
“It will be easy, give me two minuets and I’ll fly that ship anywhere.” Noll added boasting. “What do you think?”
“Simple, its nothing more that a bigger Sand Skimmer. It’s the same basic principals. I’m thinking about showing off some just because I can.” Lewis said half sarcastic. Noll Laughed.
“Ok, lets go get packed and ready.” Noll said as the left the building.
Lewis and Noll walked through the misty air. The clouds were dark and threatening to rain. A large plain gray ship sat docked on and open launch pad just in front of them. The ship was oval shaped with large engines. They could see the crew hustling to get the ship ready even though it was technically two hours before launch. As the got closer they noticed that most of the test pilots where already there. Arcio was outside waiting for all the pilots to gather. When they were all there he stood up at the ships entrance.
“The two pilots that come out of this on top should feel privileged. This is the best pilot training facility we have so you guys are the best pilots there are. You must also realize that this is Top Secret and penalties for leaking any information are harsh. The ships are already at the Argent Maze docking station waiting to be out into action. Best of luck to all of you.” Arcio said
The two brothers dropped off there bags and climbed about the ship along with their fellow pilots. Lewis was a bit nervous. Noll seemed relaxed but the talent that Noll had, he shouldn’t worry about anything. Noll sat down and immediately closed his eyes. Lewis sat in front of him and opened up his briefing one more time just to make sure he knew everything. Noll was set; he could fly anything Lewis thought. The ships engines started up after a while but Lewis’s eyes never left the papers. Occasionally he heard Jared snickering but he decided not to let that hinder him. Lewis managed to sneak a look outside before they went to hyperspace. Kayden was a grayish blue and the stars around it were bright. His eyes felt heavy as he closed his eyes and slept.
With a sudden jolt, Lewis woke up. The cabin was cold. He noticed that his brother and most of the other pilots were already awake and getting ready to leave the ship. He looked out side. He saw black riddled with tiny bright stars. His eyes glanced to the other side of the window looking for the Argent Maze. There were only stars. The hatch opened as Arcio gestured for them to walk outside.
“Welcome to Argent 1, a mobile space port, if you’ll follow me we will get started right away.” Arcio said as they shuffled out of the ship. Lewis felt a sharp pain in his side as Jared jabbed him. He heard a small muffled laugh. Lewis ignored him and picked up his pace. He glanced outside to see parts of the Argent 1. It was three revolving rings around a large sphere in the middle. Two docking lifts came out of the top and bottom. The hanger, he concluded was at the bottom where scout ships were entering and leaving.
As he stepped foot into the station, he could smell the artificial air that was being factory made and pumped into the station. The floor was silver and smooth. The walls had pipes running along them and doors for offices and supply rooms on either side.
“Don’t worry about your gear, it will all be stowed away in your cabins. As part of this test, we will be flying you guys in stress positions. That means your flying in 10 minuets. No time to rest or stretch just get your flight suits on.” Arcio stated,
Noll threw Lewis his flight suit as they started for the locker rooms.
“Man, I didn’t get any good sleep on the trip. How about you?” Noll said to Lewis.
“A little.” Lewis didn’t feel like talking to much. He was nervous and he didn’t want people to see. This wasn’t about the job, he was wondering if Noll knew that as well.
“Well, I’m sure they will have us fly an obstacle course and shoot a few probes along the way…you know, standard mission training.” Noll said as he zipped up his suit.
“Lets just hope they don’t add any thing to dangerous in the training. We’d hate to lose a good pilot.” Jared said from around the corner as he glared at Lewis. Lewis didn’t like the way he said that.
“Yeah, that would be a shame right Jared.” Noll said as he tossed an old towel jokingly at Jared.
Noll was an idiot at sometimes Lewis thought to himself. Lewis didn’t want to be here. He finished up and left the room as Noll and Jared occupied there time snapping each other with towels.
Lewis came to the hanger and sat down. He was the only one there at the time. He noticed the test ships over in the corner and felt his hands get clammy.
“Wonderful aren’t they?” Arcio said, as Lewis turned around startled.
“Yeah they are. I can’t wait to fly them.” Lewis said just to make conversation.
“I’m sure you and your brother will get the spot. You guys fly to much like your father.” Arcio said.
“ Well, I’d never know. I’ve just seen pictures of him and heard stories. He was gone all the time when I was growing up.” Lewis said.
“Take my word for it then.” Arcio said with a slight smile.
“Did…did you know my father?” Lewis said hesitantly.
“Yes I did, I flew with him for about 10 years. He was a great fighter. I can see it runs in the family.” Arcio said.
“Were you there when he died?” Lewis said.
“Yes. Yes I was there. He flew out into the midst of battle to protect the ambassador’s ship. He fought off 27 ships with just his. When he ran out of ammo he started to ram the other ships into each other. The ambassador got free from the blockade and as your father was flying out. A lucky rocket got his engines. IT was actually in this same area where it was. He headed towards the Argent Maze with no power so the black hole sucked him in.” Arcio said. “He was a brave man, its an honor to saw I fought along side him.”
Lewis let this sink in a bit. He had never known the complications of his father’s death. It was all top secret. He wondered if Noll knew of the story.
“Want to see it?” Arcio said
“See what?” Lewis answered quickly.
Before saying anything Arcio hit a button at his data pad and the hanger doors rolled open. Lewis saw a dark blue moon. Behind it was the Argent maze. It was growing and swirling shades of purple and red behind the moon. A cluster of asteroids was in front of the moon, probably slowly getting pulled closer the maze. Lewis had never seen anything like it. It was mesmerizing to him.
Just then a few pilots walked in and took the view in for themselves. After a while everyone was there and was seated. Arcio stood up to speak again.
“This is simple enough. The best two pilots get the job. You will be flying against another pilot in a course through the asteroids to hunt down droid scout ships. The course will study your flight and battle capabilities. You will be exposed to extreme natural flying conditions that will truly test you abilities as a pilot. The course runs past the Argent Maze safe zone into the asteroid field for the last half of the course. You guys have all done this drill but this time it’s more than speed and grace.” Arcio told the pilots in his booming voice.
Everyone was silent and still. No one dared to make a wise crack or speak out of turn. This was serious.
“We’ll randomly pick two pilots at a time. The course should take about a half hour to run. But that half hour will be the longest in your life if you aren’t prepared. We have four test ships so when the first two are just about done we’ll re-set and send out the next two.” Arcio looked at a paper in his hands, “First two are Lewis and Jared, followed by Noll and James.”
He should have figured. Lewis felt despair swallow him up. The rest of Arcio’s speech was drowned out. He swallowed the lump in his throat and looked up at Arcio. Arcio was beckoning him to the ship. It was now or never. Lewis glanced over at Jared and caught a glimpse of Jared starring him down as he made his way to the ship. Lewis climbed in and put his helmet on. He immediately drew down the sun shield visors and his eyes burned with tears.
The two jets shot through space. Lewis let the automatic pilot take control. Radiation flares flicker all around them as they made there way to the mission checkpoint. The comlink buzzed as the Lewis and Jared flew their ships into position.
“Ok guys, stay frosty and keep your eyes out for asteroids. You have one minute till start time. Best of luck to you.” The flight systems operator said.
Lewis glanced over at Jared’s ship. He couldn’t quite see him but he knew that Jared was up to something. Stay Calm. Lewis re-assured himself.
30 seconds …
Lewis made sure everything was in order and checked his dials and read outs.
“Ready as I’ll ever be” He said to himself.
Lewis looked down at the targeting computer to check his waypoint. Then the count down
Both ships jetted forward. Jared made a hard left right into the top of Lewis hull. Cheep shot. Lewis grabbed the controls to regain his composer and followed closely behind Jared. His map read asteroids coming up. Jared kept the same pace headed strait towards the waypoint. Lewis shadowed him every meter. Just then Jared turned up then spiked down almost at a ninety-degree angle. Lewis was caught off guard and saw an asteroid as large as his ship coming right towards him. His instincts got the best of him as he pulled the trigger sending blue lances of energy into the asteroid. It blew up in a thousands different pieces.
Lewis got his Barings back as he made a hard turn between two asteroids to fall in behind Jared and pass the first waypoint. His map blinked as a new waypoint appeared but this time, there where two red blips coming towards him. He glanced out the front screen to see the droid scout ships coming right at him. First chance to take the upper hand.
He manually controlled the cannons instead of waiting for the automatic target system to engage. A pot shot, though sloppy, was his best choice. In his mind he calculated for velocity and speed. With asteroids flying at him he pulled the trigger down. Energy blasted out as he saw the first scout ship explode. He felt relief. The second was coming into range. Jared most likely had his eye on it. Lewis saw the scout ship taking refuge behind a large asteroid to block it from targeting. Jared banked right to clear the rock from line of sight. Lewis had an idea.
He target the middle of the asteroid and sent two rockets strait at it. The first exploded in a mess of shards, the second split the asteroid in two. There is sat hovering as the two pieces floated away from each other. Lewis’s canons blazed out lasers blasting the scout ship. Next way point. Lewis hit the accelerator as he pulled forward, a bit to fast for his own good. He engaged in some fancy ship work to bob and weave his way in and out of asteroids. The comlink buzzed. It was his brother.
“Lewis, nice shooting back there. Your about to pass the safety zone so keep a heads up. Its going to be a rough…” Just then the ship shook. He was hit by something. A laser. Jared was shooting at him. Not now he though. Lewis drop the ship down then slammed his thrusters to the max as he spun around an asteroid and saw the vastness of the Argent Maze.
From around this side he could see small lances of light golden and blue reaching around the moon. It was magnificent. Focus. Lewis felt the ship pull. This time it wasn’t an laser, it was the natural pull of the quad black holes. He saw a dark pink wave of radiation coming right at him. As hit the ship shook and pulled more to the left. He was getting pulled into the Maze. Lewis pulled the controls but they didn’t respond. He hit the thruster and the ship started to drift back on course. This was a daunting task. Lewis kept this up drifting and then thrusting back on course. He picked up a few scout ships and blasted them. He noticed that the laser where being pulled so this set his targeting off. He had to do everything manually.
Lewis was focused. He hit every target he saw. He even managed to hit the lost ones that had wandered top close to the Maze. He saw the beacons lighting the safe zone and got a gut wrenching feeling. That part of the course made up the majority and he was almost ready to head back. But he hadn’t seen and signs of Jared. He pressed on. He couldn’t occupy his mind with those thoughts.
Lewis came to the beacon and felt the shaking and pull of the ship die down. He set his coordinates to the next beacon and hit the thrusters. He cruised by with ease as he saw the space ship coming into view through the asteroids. Lewis let out a deep breath and set his scanners on a wide radius. He wanted to know the fate of his co-pilot Jared. The radiation was interfering with the scanners but he saw a blip on his map. It couldn’t be right. It was directly behind him. Before he could make sense of it, an asteroid blew up in front of him. Lewis dodged out of the way of the rubble as he flew clear. Then another one. Lewis had a split second to react as he pulled up on the steering yoke into another exploding asteroid. This one he could dodge. He hit the asteroid and it jolted the ship. His head flew to the side and smashed against the cockpit wall.
He looked around as he dodge more asteroids trying to get back on a reasonable flight path. Another asteroid blew up in front of him and for a split second he saw the distinct glow of an energy laser. Jared was right behind him. He keyed his com-link.
“This is Lewis to….” His ship jolted again as if something hit him. He heard static in his ear. Jared had knocked off the communications beacon on his ship. Lewis dropped his ship down into a spiral turn and hit the thrusters. All around him asteroids were exploding and he wasn’t quick enough to dodge them all. A warning came on his screen. Ship reaching critical shields malfunction. Jared wasn’t aiming for him because they could prove that he was the one shooting. If it was asteroid, then he couldn’t be blamed. The ships were impossible to track because the radiation interference.
Lewis’s stomach churned from worry. He rolled the ship around in an attempt to get out of Jared’s line of fire. There was no escaping it. Lewis then saw an asteroid explode and the large half lurch forward. He dipped the ship down but it was the wrong move. He instantly collided with another rock and the cockpit went red. Shields malfunction, Thruster offline, Engines overheated. Lewis lost control of the ship as he drifted through space. He saw Jared’s ship speed through space towards the space station. Lewis couldn’t breath. He failed.
The utility tug ships pulled him in closer to the repair hanger. Lewis had his head in his hands. He wasn’t sure what to do. He couldn’t prove anything about Jared. He was stuck and he was going to probably be on suspension for ruing a top secret ship.
The hanger doors closed. The hanger itself was empty minus a few droid and a hanger tech. The hatch was cut off and Lewis got out of the ship. His head heard. His arms were sore.
“You’re to stay here, Arcio doesn’t want you leaving this hanger.” The hanger tech said. “I’m going to get him to report on your status. Your brother is running the course right now. Lets hope he doesn’t mess up the ship as much as you did.”
Lewis sat down against the wall as the tech left the room. He couldn’t’ face his brother. He couldn’t face Arcio who had high hopes in him. His brother would probably be embarrassed. He had to get out of here before anyone saw him. He glanced around the hanger. He saw a tug ship and got up and walked towards it.
Noll was furious. He heard the news and could barley contain himself. His ship landed in the hanger as he rushed to get the hatch open. The Hanger tech had told Noll about his brother ever the secure channel so Noll didn’t have to hear it from some one else. Noll knew that his brother was to good of a pilot to run into asteroids. Jared was behind this and he knew it.
The hatch opened to cheers as Noll jumped down, immediately he looked for Jared. He saw him in the corner staying away from the commotion. He walked over to him. A security guard congratulated Noll. He paid no attention to the many thanks but instead to his sidearm on his hip. Noll grabbed for the gun and hit the guard in the face knocking him down. He pointed the gun at Jared.
“What did you do?” Noll yelled at Jared as he put the run between his eyes. Jared froze.
“What’s going on here.” Arcio asked from the side.
“He did something to Lewis. I know it.” Noll said as he pulled the hammer back. Jared didn’t flinch “TELL ME!”
“Sir, there is an unknown ship headed into the Argent Maze. It looks like one of our ships but all pilots are accounted for.”
Noll’s heart sank. He looked at Jared on more time as Jared’s lip curled a sublet smile. Noll smacked the butt of the gun against Jared’s temple and turned back to the ship he just exited.
“Noll. Stop.” Arcio said. Noll kept on walking. He climbed the latter up to the ship and went to get it.
“Noll, stop.” A laser flew over Noll’s head as the room froze. Arcio stood with his sidearm out. “You are not going to take that ship, It’s government property. Your brother has already passed beyond any reach. There is nothing we can do. Think this through.”
Noll paused. He looked out the hanger windows at the Argent Maze.
“If you start to get in, I will shoot you.” Arcio said with ice in his voice.
Noll looked at Arcio. He raised his arm as quickly as he could and deliver a shot to Arcio’s gun shoulder. Arcio fell and cried out. A simple burn, non fatal, they both knew it but I bought Noll some time. The security guards pulled there weapons and started to shoot but Noll was already in the ship. Lasers bounced off the hull as Noll keyed the ignition and blasted out into space.
The Moon blocking the Argent Maze was getting closer. Noll knew he was a good pilot and could save his brother and get out. They would have to run away somewhere since they both would be court marshaled if they returned.
Noll saw the lances or light and radiation being pulled in from around the moon. He hit his scanners to find any sort of reading on Lewis’s ships. All the sensors were malfunction because of the Maze. He switched to ION thruster trails and saw the few ION particles that Lewis left behind form his ship. All he would have to do was follow the trail.
The ION trail led him down to the moon surface. He still wasn’t around the others side, but the glow was magnificent. The trail then took him underground. He flew through the catacombs of the moon. Caves branched out from every direction creating a web work of endless trails. He pressed on. Finally, he saw the source of the ION trail. Ahead of him he saw a service tug. It was the ship that Lewis took. To Noll’s surprise, there was an older ship next to it. Where did that come from he thought?
Noll landed the ship and took a quick reading on where he was, the other side of the moon. His heart jumped in his throat. No one came back from here. HE could probably make it out the cave that he came in. The ship was strong enough.
Noll got out and saw the exit of the cave. There was a strong glow coming from it. He could also see light shifting as if something was moving and changing colors. Noll slowly walked towards the exit. His steps were slow and steady. He wasn’t sure what to expect but he needed to get his brother back. He came to the exit and saw Lewis sitting a few feet outside the cave. He was starring out into space but Noll couldn’t see what he was looking at because of the low overhang. Next to Lewis was another man. But he was slumped over dead or sleeping.
“Lewis!” Noll said to him. “Lewis lets get out of here.”
“You’ll never guess who I found.” Lewis said to Noll without flinching or shifting his gaze. For all Noll knew, it could have just been a voice in his head. Noll, focused on the figure crouched to look at him. The man was dead; all that was left was bones inside a navy blue flight suit. Noll looked at the name on the suit. He couldn’t believe what he was seeing. Deemer, the name said.
“Dad…” Noll whispered. Noll stood up next to Lewis and looked out at the see of space. Noll’s breath left his lips. He saw brilliance. White and golden stars where being torn apart. Spikes of light weaved in and out of dark purple and black patches creating a supernatural glowing haze. There where dark red ribbons dancing around space as if they had a mind of there own. Radiation waves, blue and pink swept back and forth like waves of a sea. The glow was astounding. Noll could only stare. He sat down next to his brother and his deceased father. He was at a loss for words. He glanced and Lewis and Lewis glanced at him. They both smiled and shifted their gaze back on vastness of space.