// Stardate 20130621
// Mias Orbital Base, NASA Third HQ
The team had been dismissed an hour ago after it became apparent “Blight” Squadron 24 was not returning home. The flight itself was routine, a pass-through of Jericho owned territory to rendezvous with hand-picked liaisons, yet the circumstances were far from ordinary. Three months had passed since a working relation was established between NASA Engineering and an R&D team comprised of five Jericho families codenamed Orca; between the two sides, plans for a dreadnought accelerated beyond the pace of any publically funded initiatives.
Naturally, the project had been kept behind layers upon layers of security clearance. Even the engineers, who already had limited means of space travel compared to the pilots that guarded them, were sworn to secrecy and remained sequestered from their families for the entirety of the developments. The conditions seemed daunting, though when one realized the potential consequences of an information leak, most were eager to sign the forms and shut up. What would the Emperor have said if he found out his vanguard was happily working with the Jericho heathens?
Zavreis sighed into her fist, fighting the mounting panic threatening to split her skull. The strength of their planning left no room for error, and the thought that the easiest part of their three-month journey would be where every contingency failed hit harder than she had been prepared to admit. Her best pilots, the most trustworthy of a crew good enough to finish the hardest tasks but quiet enough to not be recognized in public, were missing along with NASA’s only copy of those coveted dreadnought prints. Treachery was her first thought, but it was never that simple.
An urgent notice flashed on the terminal beside her, followed quickly by a sequence of updates calling in from as far as Toran on the Empire-Federation front. Zavreis didn’t need to open them to know what they said. WX-30 was lost. Casualties were high. Carrier “Havener” was forced to retreat into rival corporation territory for repairs. Assistance was highly unlikely. Did we at least manage to secure WX-6 from Jericho forces? No. Who had made the decision to split our fleet? High Command. Someone will answer for this!
Zavreis thanked her fortune that the CEO of NASA, call sign TacTicalWiZard, understood how difficult it was to gain trust as an ex-communicated Jericho living in the Empire. She could have felt guilty as he would ultimately take the fire for this colossal failure, but there was no time for sentiment. So long as no one learned it was on her call that both sectors were purposefully lost, Zavreis would have room to fix this.
With anger fueling her resolve, she stepped away from the terminals of Mias’s Signals Intelligence centre, straightening her uniform in the reflection of a dozen screens. Later today she would draft a statement for Tac and summon the media for a press conference tomorrow. Someone would have to appease the Emperor too, so perhaps it was time she combed the ranks for a particularly inoffensive soul to play messenger. And then the real planning would begin. The game was on.
Someone will answer for this!
Vengeance was, after all, the strength of Jericho.
Zavreis I.E. Kor
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