I woke up to the sound of frying eggs coming from downstairs. The bright light that shone onto me was quite enough reasoning for me to get out of bed and head down for breakfast. It was a nice quiet morning, the kind that made you glad to be in the outskirts of the bustling city of Gryps 12-B. As I thought, my mom was 3D printing some eggs for breakfast. My dad had already gone to work, and my mom was going to her job after breakfast.
She said in a very happy tone, “Happy 15th birthday Phil!”
“Thanks, Mom!” I replied. “I’m going to take the credits that I saved up and get something from the robotics lab!”
“What a great idea!”
After breakfast, I went to get my hoverbike and take it downtown to get something from the robotics lab. As I opened the garage door, I hovered for just a second and came down. I found it strange, but didn’t pay it any more mind.
My hoverbike consisted of three sideways wheels: two in the back & one in the front. It was basically a small, hovering car with three wheels instead of four. As I drove down the road, I suddenly flew high into the air; for a second I could see the entire city! But then, I came crashing down. Luckily, all hover vehicles have a built in suspension system for accidents like this, so I didn’t crash. Only a few seconds later, the city P.A. system turned on and the almost deafeningly loud voice announced, “The AGS (Artificial Gravity System) for the space colony of Gryps 12-B is currently malfunctioning. The facility managers are working hard to assess and fix the problem.”
Oh yeah. I forgot to mention. We live in a space colony in the Andromeda galaxy along with the hundreds of other Gryps space colonies. The colonies are shaped like cylinders and they use small rockets to spin, creating artificial gravity. My dad was one of the many people who worked to keep the space colony up and running. Almost immediately after the announcement, my dad called.
“Hey Phil! Sorry to bother you on your birthday, but can you come to the maintenance station? I need your help.”
So much for the robolab. Sometimes my dad asks me to help him out at work with things the other workers can’t do. Most often those things involve crawling into tight spaces that the others can’t get into. They aren’t allowed to pay me, but I don’t mind. It’s still fun to do. So I plugged in the destination and set course for the maintenance station.
A short drive later, I was at the maintenance station lift. As I rode up, I saw that the situation was only getting worse. I hoped that this wasn’t too hard of a problem to fix. Once I got to the top, my dad was waiting there for me.
“I’m so glad you’re here! We really need your help. Let’s get our space suits on and see what the problem is.”
“Do you have a guess?” I asked.
“Maybe a circuit shorted out,” he answered.
After we got on our suits, we went out the airlock. The space suits we used had magnets on the boots so we could walk on the outside of the colony. The retro rockets were going crazy, so we started running. We didn’t have any time to lose. One of the co-workers then asked in a rugged voice,
“Hey Harris! Why'd ya bring your kid?”
My father replied in his usual clean and calm voice, “The control circuit is in a hard to reach area. Phil may be the only one who can reach it.”
When we reached the spot where the control panel was, we immediately noticed a large hole in it. It must’ve been from a stray laser, as it was too clean of a hole to have been an asteroid. I wondered where the laser came from.
My dad then said, “You could probably fit down into the control room. That laser must’ve hit the circuit. Here’s some tools. Holler if you need anything.” He handed me a container with tools floating around.
Right as I was about to go in, all of the sudden two ships came out of hyperspace, a white one and a green one, the white one pursuing the green one. They both started firing on each other. I had no idea what was going on, but I just started running away. I looked back to see the workers and my dad running as well, but then a blast came from one of the ships and hit right where they were. The last thing I saw of them was a pillar of flame erupting at that spot. I knew I should’ve kept running, but I didn’t. I turned around and ran to see if, by some miracle, they weren’t all dead, but there was nothing but the stream of air rushing out of the colony. Another laser came from one of the ships. This time, it landed a few yards in front of me. The explosion sent me spiraling away from the colony, and all I could do was watch in horror as more crossfire hit the colony until the damage amounted to the colony breaking apart. As it broke apart, more lasers and missiles hit the collapsing colony, further accelerating the destruction.
My gaze was then sharply redirected to the two ships still attacking each other. I had no idea who was who, and I just hoped that the white ship didn’t get destroyed. Mainly because that was the ship that I was flung towards, and if it was destroyed, I’d definitely get killed by the explosion. Luckily, the green ship was taking much more damage and eventually was destroyed. I was then startled by the appearance of a shuttle coming from the underside of the white ship headed right towards me. The shuttle then opened and over my radio I heard a woman say,
“We have located one survivor. We’re bringing him back.”
I then reached out and let them take me into the shuttle.
In the shuttle, one of them said to me, “Nobody from a colony has ever survived a Ravenger attack. I’m Lieutenant Parsons. What’s your name?”
“Ph-Ph-Phil.” I say, shaking with fear.
“Alright Phil,” Parsons said, “Where were you when the colony was attacked?”
I replied, still a little shaky, “I was repairing some damage to the A.G.S. when the two ships came in. I was knocked away from the colony by an explosion and now I’m here.”
He looked a little stunned by this, “You seem a little young to be repairing an A.G.S. Were you hired?”
“No,” I answered, “I would help my da-” I paused and thought about how they were gone and couldn’t help but lower my head and cry at that notion. “They’re gone forever,” I said with my throat closing a little. I was sobbing now, in front of all of these complete strangers. I felt so embarrassed, but I couldn’t stop crying and sobbing.
“You should know though,” Parsons said, “You were extremely lucky to have survived that. Nobody’s ever survived a Ravenger attack before.” I looked up a little. “As a matter of fact, we have some vacant rooms on the ship. If you want, I can ask the captain if you would be able to stay on the ship.”
I brightened up a bit, “Really?”
“I don’t see why not!” He replied, “With your expertise, the captain would almost definitely let you on!”
When we got to the ship, I immediately noticed two things: One: It’s name is the S.S. Starfighter, and two: It’s absolutely massive.
Parsons noticed me gawking and said, “Impressive right? A whole 24 sections. Each several cubic miles in volume. Still just a little over half the size of the flagship, the S.S. Gryphon. Welcome to the S.S. Starfighter!”
“The captain will see you now,” said the secretary at the desk. Once I had gotten on the ship, Parsons had told me that the captain wished to see me. He directed me to the captain’s office and wished me luck.
I walked in slowly and stopped dead in my tracks when I heard a deep voice say, “You must be Phil. As you probably know, I am the captain of this vessel. My name is Captain Moe.”
“Hello, Captain,” I say rather quietly.
“Listen Phil, I’m not going to beat around the bush. We are short on pilots and we would like you to become a pilot on the ship to fight the Ravenger menace. You have seen their cruelty. And I want your help. You would be one of us. I’m not one to brag, but this ship has a wonderful culture to it. I bet you would like it here. What do you say?”
I thought about this for what seemed like forever before I said, “I’ll do it. It’s not like I have a home to return to.”
“Fantastic! Welcome to Team Starfighter and the U.S.D.F.! I’ll get lieutenant Parsons to Help you prepare for battle.”
“Wait, battle?” I say, shocked.
“Sorry, but pretty soon, we’re going to be meeting up with the fleet for a raid on the enemy’s main fleet. The war shall be over soon.”
A few minutes later, Parsons was standing in the door. “Hey Phil! The captain told me everything. Let’s get straight to the fitting room. Sorry to have you find this out on such short notice, but we should get going.” As I followed after him, he said, “Alright Phil, since the fitting room is far away, we need to take a shuttle. I’ll call for one right now.”
A few seconds later, a shuttle landed right next to us and we got in. “Where to?” asked the shuttle pilot.
“The barracks, please.” said Parsons.
“Sure thing!” the pilot said and I felt the engines accelerate us towards the barracks.
Once we arrived at the barracks, I stepped into a chamber labeled, “AUTO FITTING MACHINE” and felt a uniform put on me. I walked out, surprised by how comfortable it was.
“Next,” Parsons said, “We’ll get you in a simulator. Have you ever driven a hoverbike?”
“Yes. I had one at my house.”
“Great!” Parsons replied, “The fighters operate just like a hoverbike, except, they have weapons.”
I climbed into the simulator, and noticed that it had almost the exact same control scheme, aside from the triggers for the weapons. Parsons looked at me and pointed to the dial on the joystick used for steering. “This is the dial you use for selecting which weapon you want to fire. There are your standard lasers, missiles, and mines. Use the trigger to fire them. Keep an eye out for your ammo for the missiles and mines.” He started up the simulator. “Good luck!”
All of the sudden, I was flying my ship through an asteroid belt. I heard Parsons say, “Your objective is to find and destroy the enemy ship in the belt.” I flew in and out, following my radar to the enemy fighters location. I noticed a silhouette zoom past me, then a laser came from behind and almost hit me. I turned on my rear view camera and saw a ship firing at me. I thought that I could shake him in the asteroids. I started weaving through the rocks, hoping that I would shake him, but it wasn’t able to be shook. I then remembered that I had mines. I switched the dial to mines and pulled the trigger. I heard an explosion and checked my camera to find a wrecked ship there.
The simulator then shut down and I heard Parsons say, “Great job! You’re a natural! Let’s keep going.” After a couple dozen times in the simulator, Parsons said, “Alright! seems like you’re ready to fight!”
A warning suddenly blared, “We are entering Ravenger territory! All crew to battle stations!”
“Just in time too!” Parsons said as we rushed to hanger 15. Once we got there, I couldn’t stop shaking with fear as we prepared for launch. Parsons noticed me shaking and said, “Don’t worry. You’re a starfighter! We’ll protect you.”
We hopped into our fighters and prepared for launch. Over the radio I heard, “Preparing to open airlocks. All fighters set to launch. Three, Two, One...Launch!” The airlock opened and I saw all the lasers firing from the fleet.
I heard all of the pilots shout “Go Starfighters!” as we launched into the fray. I looked around to see my surroundings and saw massive fleets of U.S.D.F. and Ravenger battleships firing on one another..
“Here they come!” Said a pilot as a swarm of fighters came from the enemy fleet.
“Evasive maneuvers!” said another as we split up firing at the fighters. It felt so much like the simulations, but yet so different knowing that it was for real. I was destroying ships here and there until a ship came behind me that I couldn’t shake. I tried deploying mines, but I had already used them up. I then saw a ship with severe damage coming towards me. “Watch out!” said Parsons as he rammed into the ship behind me, destroying the ship behind me and his own. I could hardly process what just happened before getting the word to come back to the ship.
In the meantime I was fighting, the U.S.D.F. fleet had successfully destroyed the Ravenger fleet, and all of the remaining ships had fled. There was a big celebration in the mess hall, but I didn’t feel like celebrating, knowing Parsons was dead.
Captain Moe slowly walked over to me and said, “I know your pain. Even though he trusted people too much, Parsons was one of my best soldiers. At least he died a hero’s death.”
“What of the remaining Ravenger ships?” I asked.
“We have been tasked with finding and destroying them before they can regroup.” Moe said. “We’ll leave after the celebration concludes.”
“All crew prepare for lightspeed,” the speakers blare as crew scramble to their positions.
I stared at the star we were orbiting before I saw it vanish as we sped out to the stars, chanting, “Go team Starfighters!”