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FCS Ragnarok; CIC
On approach to planet Firekka; ETA: 00:16
The Firekka System, Antares Quadrant, Epsilon Sector
MAR 21 2684/2684.080; 1903 Hours (CST)

General Christopher Blair tipped his head in respect at the holographic projection of Strategos André Higgins. With the passing of Winston Anspach, the First Emperor of the Republic of Andorra, Higgins became CINC of the remnants of the battered Republic that were only now truly on the road to partial recovery from catastrophe at the hands of the Tenth Kilrathi Empire. "Thank you, sir. The Andorran Republic’s support in this time of war is invaluable and much appreciated. With fleets to contend with on two fronts, the Confederation’s military has been effectively divided."

"The Andorran Republic knows all too well the tribulations of secession. We’re here to help, whether the Confederation likes it or not."

"All I can do is thank you, Strategos. We need all the help we can get."

Stubborn old goats, those blue suits in Confed are, he thought to himself. He wondered why it took him so long to realize that.

He was beginning to remember why it was so easy for him to make the decision to defect to the Border Worlds a year ago. Confed was not so unlike the Union was in Earth’s ancient Civil War. Abraham Lincoln, in his frustration, wouldn’t let himself go down in history as the president that let the United States of America split. Marching their way to Washington D.C., victory and independence was nearly within the Confederacy’s grasp when the Union crushed them with its sheer military might. Some historians had said the only reason the Confederacy got as far as it did was because it was fighting a defensive battle; that when their war took on an offensive nature, their assaults were more easily contained and squandered.

For all his worth, Blair would succeed where the Confederacy had failed. Millions of men and women were looking up to him—it was his responsibility now. Screw Confed, screw the Academy—now, here, in this place, he could make a difference for the first time since he’d traded the cockpit for the sidelines. "That will be all. Watch yourself, friend."

He caught a glimpse of Admiral Higgins’ salute before his figure swirled and flickered back into empty air.

Blair unfolded his arms and went to a young naval captain Flint had come to trust over the last month and a half. Hadn’t even been originally part of the Epsilon’s InSys militia—no, she came of her own free will from the TCS Apex. It was about time they became acquainted. "What’s your name?"

"Kep-tain Tesla, sir," the young Firekkan woman replied. "EmberWall flock."

Blair smiled. "I like to know my team. Is there any sign of our Confederate friends?"

Tesla shook her beaked head. Her feathers seemed lighter than the other seven Firekkans currently on the bridge, which was the only way Blair could tell Tesla apart from them. "Negative, sir. The militia blockades you ordered at the Ghor-ah Khar, Ep-sil-on Prim-a, Cor-sair, Nat-an-ya, and D’vd Tang jump points all report no Confederation activity at last update."

"What of the Kilrathi?" It seemed an odd question, in light of the Kilrathi Assembly of Clans’ state of disrepair after the beating they received from the Nephilim. Nevertheless, while the Confederation only had one jump point into Firekkan space, the Kilrathi had four.

"One moment." Captain Tesla went to work at her console. "At last report, no activity from the Kil-rath-i, either."

"Good." Blair smiled. His smile radiated the bemused satisfaction the entire bridge crew seemed to be sharing. "Keep a look out, Captain."

"Of course, sir."

"And keep our central fleet mobilized and ready to move into the Epsilon Prima System. If the Andorrans can hold off Confed, they’ll be a valuable asset in fortifying the Antares Quadrant." And not to mention the flagship of the Commonwealth of which he stood on. The Ragnarok, a prototype heavy carrier of the long-disbanded Project Omega. Originally started construction by the Black Lance from the then-still-active Black Ops Division’s own plans, just prior to taking his flight instructor position at the TCNSA on Hilthros Blair commanded the Intrepid on the mission that took out their orbital base, scaring the rest off the installation. Commandeering what was started on the Ragnarok, the Admiralty Court turned what was begun of it to the shipyards over the newly-militarized Epsilon Sector planetFirekkan planetM’gnisa, promising to eventually disassemble it in the public interest. Big mistake. One of the first steps the Commonwealth had taken in preparing for its secession was having InSys engineers and maintenance workers complete the construction, a task that took nearly two years. The fully operational Ragnarok was now theirs to command.

"Yes, General."

Blair strode to the foremost section of the bridge to gaze out the wondrous, unobstructed view the viewports provided. He exhaled a breath of pride. Pride and fulfillment. God if he didn’t felt like a kid again.

Yes, General, the title rang through Blair’s head. Not a brigadier general, not a lieutenant general, not even a major general. And sure as hell not a commodore. General Christopher "Maverick" Blair, spearhead commander of the Firekkan Commonwealth fleet. Above all things, a leader.

The funny thing wasand just about all the non-Firekkan members knew thisthe Firekkan Commonwealth wasn’t about the Firekkans, not about their liberation and independence. On paper or in reports, perhaps. The idea of the Firekkans alone, barely two decades in space, revolting against Confed was laughable. No, it was about rebellion, about breaking free from the oppressive, corrupted Big Brother that the Confederation had become from the inside out. Each man and woman had their own reasons for joining, and Blair would keep his to himself.

"What’s on your mind, Chris?"

Blair turned around, regarding his first officer with a fond smile. "Hello, Flint."

"Ah-ah, that’s Vice Admiral while I’m on duty."

Blair grunted. "Then stop calling me ‘Chris’ and start calling me ‘sir.’"

"That’ll be the day." Flint laughed. "But, wow, you’ve been sober—what?—a month already?"

A bottle of Southern Comfort before hitting the sack every night never hurt anybody, but what she didn’t know couldn’t hurt her. "Yeah," he said. "Something like that."

"When I first came to you on Earth with the Commonwealth’s proposal, I knew I could talk you into joining us. I also knew you’d do a damn good job once I got you here. But now… Jesus, Chris, it’s like you’ve attacked your position... wing commander of the Ragnarok and CO of its Battle Group... with every piece of your being."

"Just doing my job."

"No, Chris, you’re not just doing your job. You’ve… you’ve thrown your heart into it. I just didn’t expect it."

"You’re right." Blair fought the urge to look away from her eyes. "What I’m doing now… it means a lot to me."

"Thank you, Chris. On behalf of the Commonwealth… thank you."

Blair smiled at her, knowing her meaning. It seemed the instant she had approached him in that motel, an unspoken understanding was felt between them. He would never ask her the real reasons she was doing what she was doing for the Commonwealth, because he held all the answers in his heart. He understood. They were so much alike now, reading her thoughts was as easy as reading his own.

His self-confidence reaching an all-time high, Blair took a step forward. "You know, I was thinking…"


This isn’t going to work, he started to fear. "Well, reconsidering things, actually. Relationships and so forth. If you really want to thank me, I just had a few ideas how you might go about expressing your gratitude. Just some crazy ideas that popped into my mind, that’s all."

His heart began to beat faster as he saw Flint’s face light up like a Christmas tree. "Really," she said, rolling out the l’s.

Blair reached a hand up and ran his fingers through her hair. "It’s not like it was on the Victory. We’re not pilots anymore. Now if we die, we die together, and—"

"And Rachel isn’t around anymore."

Damn... Blair removed his hand and made a show of clearing his throat. "Yes, well, that more or less ended itself. The point is that things can be different now. I was thinking…" Just say it! "... er, hoping, really, that maybe we could spend some time together."

"There, that wasn’t so hard, was it?" Before he knew it, Flint’s arms were around him and her mouth was finding his. Pulling him away from the crew stations, she continued.

Needless to say, he didn’t resist.

"General," Captain Tesla interrupted, "personal message from the Confederation Senate."

Flint rolled her eyes as the two of them separated. "Looks like we’ve finally earned the attention of Confed. We ought to be flattered."

"I’ll take it in my cabin, Tesla. I’ll want to see the squadron commanders when I’m done... this shouldn’t take long." Bearing a positively smug grin, Blair walked away.


Geneal Blair’s Day Cabin
1919 Hours (CST)

"What the hell are you doing, laddie?"

Blair took a seat as he walked in to find himself greeted by the familiar visage of Senator James Taggart, Master of the Assembly. His bearded face suspended holographically over his desktop, he looked none too pleased. "What do you want, Paladin?"

Taggart shook his head disappointedly. "This rebellion you’re leading in the Epsilon Sector, no good will come of it! I know you were unhappy with your career—that’s why you staged your own death. I know what you felt like, but this is not the answer!"

"Don’t patronize me. You can’t." Blair stood up, disgusted. "Look at you. You used to be somebody. On the Tiger’s Claw you fought to free the Vega Sector among countless other missions. I was there. Even when you transferred to Special Operations on the Bonnie Heather you were fighting the war against the Kilrathi, making a difference out on the front lines. Now… now what are you? I’ll tell you—a glorified seat-warmer, flying a desk when you used to be one of the best damned wingmen a pilot could ask for."

"I’m old, laddie. My reflexes are not what they used to be. I canna pretend I’m a bloody young man anymore. I grant you all that, but this has nothing to do wi—"

"Reflexes, age—just listen to you and your excuses. The Confederation Space Force clipped my wings and left me for dead. My only mistake was letting them do it. But you, you threw yourself into the bureaucracy."

"What I did, I did for my best i—"

"You let yourself be put out to pasture! You want to give me a lecture on what I’m doing? At least I’m fighting it, at least I haven’t given up."

"Gods, you’re creating your own wars to fight! If the blasted Firekkan Planetary Alliance—"

"The Firekkan Commonwealth! Say it!"

Taggart paused for a moment, coughed, then continued, "... If the Firekkans are not satisfied with their position in the Confederation we can do this diplomatically, talk things out, not resort to preemptive strikes and military reprisals, as you seem to want. You’re nay better than Geoff Tolwyn himself and his bloody Black Lance, starting wars for the sake of starting wars!"

Blair could feel the anger rising within, boiling. "Don’t you dare compare me to that madman."

"Why didnt you just join him when you had the chance? What you’re doing is no differ—"

"Don’t you dare compare me to that madman!" Blair raised a clenched fist and brought it down as hard as he could upon his desktop holoprojector. Fracturing and sparking, the device was silenced, taking Senator Taggart’s visage with it.

A long, uncomfortable moment of silence later Blair raised his hand. Cut and bleeding from smashing the projector, he looked at it as he clenched and unclenched it, murmuring to no one in particular, "Im not Tolwyn..." he rasped, "... Im not Tolwyn..."