My writer’s group in Cambridge assigns a writing prompt for each meeting. One such prompt ‘A night in the galaxy’ started me thinking about what it would be like to have to abandon your home planet due to pollution making it completely unliveable. Picture a gargantuan mother ship transporting a representative portion of Earth’s population to find another home somewhere far beyond in another universe. Space is vast and deep taking eons, perhaps many lifetimes to reach a habitable planet comparable to earth. Imagine too that this journey is not without encounters from other life forms fearful of our intentions and motives. After all, our track record is not exactly honourable.
What if a generation of young Star Fighters who have never known life outside of space were now solely responsible for saving the mother ship from invaders so earth inhabitants could resettle on another planet?
This piece describes how ten young cadets fall into an onerous role and become the only hope for survival.
Commander Maxa coded the training exercise ‘A Night in the Galaxy’. He always snickered when he referred to it because he saw the enthusiasm in the eyes of his young cadets eager to experience the real thing. They stood in a row in the star ship’s military hangar at attention, helmets in hand, looking restrained, but ready. Within minutes they’d climb into the cockpits of Herculon’s fighter cruisers ready to take their first solo test run around the asteroid belt that shielded the massive mother ship from enemy assaults. Up until this moment, they had only practiced flight procedure on the holodeck. There, in programmed simulations, their cruisers had been disabled, fired on, surrounded, and blown to Jupiter and back, fun but purely predictable and always made-up. Today the flight would be real. Once around the inner perimeter of the of the asteroid debris arena locked into the artificial gravity pull of the Herculon force field, they would be disappointed by the mundane routine of training.
In contrast to the eager excitement felt by squadron twelve, Maxa marched in front of his padawans, his authority clear though his stomach in a knot because in spite of all precautions, he knew the enemy could never be underestimated. He feared for his trainees who were barely more than children, nine boys and one girl, babies in their late teens.
“Squadron twelve,” he said. “You will fly precisely one hundred legions in eagle formation – rendezvous with Squadron Night Watch, accompany them to coordinates Alpha twenty, shadow their patrol assignment and retreat to home base. Deviate more than ten microns off course and you are out of the force – forever! Is that understood?” He stopped deliberately in front of each cadet; his face mere centimetres from their own so they could feel the passion and fury of his hot breath impressing the weightiness of his instructions.
“Yes sir,” the cadets shouted in unison. They ran to their assigned vessels, climbed aboard, secured their helmets and waited in queue for clearance to start their engine turbos and depart the flight deck.
By Marianne Scott
May 11, 2016