Once the Marauder opposition was dealt with, Regis, Michaelson, Rivan, and Shaughnessy received commendations and promotions. They were now full commanders, their rank in the Space Marines was that of Lt. Colonel, and they were a definite part of Seanon’s crew. They had proven how valuable they were to the Earth Forces Elite they were and given the rank and title to prove it. After another year in space, they were assigned a five-year stint at the Academy. Seanon hated to lose four of most valuable and capable crewmembers he had, but he had never been one to stand in the way of advancement of qualified individuals.
After five years of teaching at the Academy, Regis yearned for assignment in space again. The others were more than willing to accompany him, if he was given a good assignment. Seanon decided that either Regis should have command of his own ship, or at the very least, be assigned the Executive Officer position on a good ship. Regis was assigned to the Centauri, a new battle ship with the latest weaponry and engines, and he brought the other’s on with him. Shaughnessy was the Chief Engineer, Michaelson was the Weapons Officer, and Rivan had been assigned to the Centauri as Communications and Navigation Officer.
They had spent all of their careers together so far, and no Captain in the fleet would think of separating the team, especially with Seanon being on record as to the value that the four made as a team. Their new Captain was one of Seanon’s protégés, and was known for his intuition and battle planning. He was the equivalent of any of the four, and was known for his no nonsense policy from his crew. He was actually starchier than Seanon had been, and just as effective a Captain.
They were heading to Epsilon, the newest base, Epsilon Nine, was only five years old, and they were continuing to build on to the base, unlike Bellatrix Command, Epsilon Nine was actually a free floating Space Station that was in a solar orbit near Epsilon. It was the most advanced base that had been built so far, and the space dock was the best. They hosted ships from every space faring race in the quadrant, and had shielding that was beyond the power of any ship that had ever been built. It was manned by one-hundred-thousand crewmembers, and had several distinct districts that were operated by the various factions in the area.
Once the Centauri had departed Earth Orbit, and were well underway the Captain made the usual ships announcements, starting with his name, George Mendelsohn, and he introduced his Executive Officer, and staff. There were view screens all over the ship, and that made the crew abler to identify the Senior Officers. Mendelsohn then turned the com over to Regis who announced that their destination was Epsilon Nine, with several stops on the way, including Bellatrix Command, Vega, and Betelgeuse, a red giant in the Orion Constellation also known as Alpha Orionis. They had orders to proceed there from Vega, before heading to Bellatrix.
Mendelsohn was looking forward to the trip. It had been several years since he had been in the Bellatrix sector and he knew that his old Captain, Seanon, was receiving a promotion to the Admiralty, and would be taking command of Epsilon Nine soon. There was scuttlebutt about that Regis was being considered for the Chair on the Amadeus, a position he was well qualified to assume, and depending on his recommendation following this assignment, would determine if he got the promotion.
The reached Vega in a month, with no incidents, after the accord with the Marauders, and them becoming part of the Earth Force Fleet, the few Marauders in the asteroid belt had become peaceful. They were no longer a threat and that had brought stability to the sector. They left Vega and headed for Betelgeuse, it had been at least fifteen years since Mendelsohn had been there, and he was curious to see what had become of the space station and mining interests around the red giant. He had been a junior officer when Seanon had entered the battle at Betelgeuse, and with a decisive victory, had cemented his place in Earth history. Mendelsohn along with Jaquez, Kasogi, Handle, and Okemburi, had received promotions and their own ships, it was Seanon who had given them the recommendations.
Once they reached Betelgeuse, they came to the station, did their check-in, made sure that there were no hostiles in the area and set out for Bellatrix. It was a month to Bellatrix, and then three months to Epsilon Nine. He hoped for an uneventful trip, even though, the Marine in him sometimes hoped they would at least engage a hostile ship occasionally. So far, they had not and they were making good time. They were not aware of any hostiles in the area since the Marauder conflict had ended. That did not mean there was not, it meant they had not run into them yet.
They made and left Bellatrix without incident, and were a month out when they received a distress call, they were on their way to Epsilon Nine, two months to arrive, and they responded to the distress call. It was standard procedure for any ship requesting aid to be responded to by the first ship in the area. The Centauri was fitted with better weapons than any ship in the fleet, she had better engines, and her maiden voyage had so far come without incident. They needed a good shakedown, and this was the opportunity to do so.
Mendelsohn had the ship at maximum speed to arrive as quickly as possible; it would take two days to get to the ship sending out the distress signal. They arrived on schedule and when they dropped out of hyperspace, they were in the middle of a firefight. The ship that had sent the distress signal was from Epsilon Omega, and the attackers were an unknown race to them. They had never seen ships like these before. They were huge ships; they had one central hull and what appeared to be launch bays attached to all four sides of the ship. It was rectangular, twice as long as the Centauri, and twice as thick. This ship was impressive, its armaments were a match for the Centauri, and she had at least two hundred fighter ships in her launch bays. Mendelsohn felt that they were lured here; someone out here wanted to test them and had attacked the smaller ship, a cargo transport from Vega, to get their attention.
They came in ready for the fight, when they hailed the attacking ship; they were not expecting what they saw on their view screen. The ship had ship-to-ship communications. When the view screen came on, what they saw was a being that was grey and hairless. Instead of a mouth, had long feeler appendages in front of what should have been its mouth, it’s eyes were multi-faceted and were a very dark purple, it had what could only be described as pincers in the place of hands, and when it spoke, it sounded like it was underwater. They called themselves the Archon, and they were from a planetary system not far from here. They had seen the ships coming and going, and knew that the ship they attacked was defenseless and from Vega. They wanted a confrontation with the Earth ship. Moreover, Mendelsohn obliged them.
They opened fire on the Archon ship with a full battery from the phase cannons, and to their surprise, the ship simply broke apart, and then reformed. This was not a normal ship, this ship was like a hundred little ships that were connected in a way where they could separate and rejoin. This was going to be an ugly battle. Mendelsohn ordered two hundred of his fighters into space, along with twenty of new style fighters, about one third of his forces, and once they were in space, he opened fire on the Archons. When the ship separated, the fighters attacked all the individual pods, they were able to take out a lot of the pods, but the ship simply reformed itself, and brought its weapons to bear on the Centauri. They had powerful weaponry. They hit the shields so hard that the ship was tossed about like a cork in the sea. Mendelsohn launched the rest of the fighter squadrons, this was a do or die battle, and once they cleared the launchers, he opened fired with everything. The ship once again separated, but this time, they had enough fighters to disable her ability to reform and they started the most intense dogfight he had ever witnessed.
Each of the little pods had a phase cannon, and even though they were not as powerful as the phase cannons on the fighters, they could still do damage. The fighters had a tough job keeping the pods from reforming into the larger ship, and if it had not been for the Centauri focusing her guns on them and keeping the firing patterns random, they would have reformed, it was a long battle, and when they finally got the upper hand, the Archons destroyed their own ship.
They wondered how many of these ships were in the area, and the Vegans were not much help. They had not ever encountered the Archon before, and there were no recorded descriptions or even log entries in their massive archive referring to them, or their ships. However, they had one now and once they got the free of the area, they set a warning beacon in space to keep any unsuspecting ships from being attacked in the future.