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“Ensign Pip, what happened to the guns?” I asked, looking at the horrifying angle that the gun was pointed at… directly at its mount.

“Eh… they’re inverted?” Pip replied, looking at me as if surprised that I would ask such a question.

 

“What do you mean they’re inverted? Didn’t you say you’re going to calibrate them?”

 

“Well, clearly, someone hasn’t been pulling security over the ship, Sir,” it retorted, shutters narrowing as it stared at me. “With the way the guns are in, something tells me you let the Boltcrackers in.”

 

“Bolt- who?”

 

“Nothing. Just an afterthought.”

 

I stared at it going back to work, wondering what a week it had been. Just a week prior, we only had to worry about the occasional pirates and the egoistic robots who thought that numbers were everything. One week later and we now have a surprise war starting against Kingdom. Vacations were denied, personnel recalled, the match between Gate Downers and Dyson Fears cancelled.

 

But that was nothing compared to today.

 

This morning, we received the news that an Ensign Imperial Support Corp personnel from HQ will be here at our supply base just to inspect our combat status. Hell was nearly paid when we were informed of the inspection only an hour before, causing everyone to scramble to get things ready. The last pieces of scrap metal were spray painted and bolted down to the station just moments before their arrival.

 

All that was ruined when two robots with cat ears walked out, barely gave the base a second look before immediately disregarding it. “No need for the formalities, we aren’t here to inspect the base,” Jimi said, before walking off to the nearest Centurion.

 

Which meant the entire base didn’t have to force reconstruction just so we don’t have to lose our face. Time that could have been used to play the slots or blackjack wasted to people who weren’t even here to evaluate our performance in the war against-

 

“Something on your mind, Lieutenant Larry?”

 

I turned around to see Jimi standing behind me, arms crossed as he looked at me quizzically. “Nothing, Lieutenant Jimi. Nothing to report,” I replied, trying not to seem begrudgingly about the whole mess.

 

“Lieutenant, I know you think being on the back lines allows you and your station to be lax,” it looked around the station, it’s cat ears twitching as if hearing something distant. “But when war is aloof, luxuries can’t be afforded. If even one enemy ship makes it through, we’ll be boned beyond all belief.”

 

“What are the odds that we’ll even be attacked in the first place? The fleet is out there decimating the Kingdom forces.”

 

“Well from the looks of it, right now,” it looked behind me and into the deep abyss, causing me to turn behind to see what it was seeing. Two fighters marked with Kingdom markings were barrelling straight towards us, their weapons firing at everything in sight, peppering both the station and our ships with laser shots.

 

“Action stations!” I barely managed to broadcast as the fighters flew quickly past the station, their pilots synchronising the movements of their ships for a second pass. The soldiers tried to react, rushing to their assigned positions and attempting to man the guns.

 

But the fighters were faster. Before the soldiers could do anything, the turrets were destroyed, leaving the base defenceless. Shockwave shook the station as the unguarded fuel tanks exploded, causing multiple plates to break off into space. All I could do was stand there, staring blankly at the destruction as time seemed to slow, watching the base slowly ripping apart.

 

I was still standing there when I felt something pushed me to the side, sending me sprawling onto the floor. I looked back, trying to spot the culprit and give them a piece of my mind. But once I turned, I saw who pushed me and what happened to them…

 

Holes riddled Jimi’s body as it fell, cables spilling out as it hit the ground with a thud. Sparks flew everywhere, pouring out while it spasmed, trying to cling on to life as much as it could. It laid there, its hands twitching and shaking as it turned its head in my direction, staring at me in its final moments.

 

And then it stopped.

 

I stared at what remained of Jimi, hands shaking as I pushed myself up, trying hard not to imagine myself in its place. For the first time in a long while, I felt that feeling I should never have forgotten…

 

Fear.

 

My core temperature spiked as I looked around, trying to spot the Kingdom fighters. But just as suddenly as it appeared, it was now nowhere to be seen, leaving behind a trail of destruction in its wake. What was once a half-broken station was now turned into a hunk of scrap, now slowly breaking apart from the attack.

 

“Jimi?”

I turned towards the direction of the broadcast, not knowing who had sent it. From the rubble of a Centurion, a pair of cat ears pop out, twitching about before it’s owner presented themselves. “Where’s Jimi?” Pip asked, seemingly distraught as it looked around the broken station.

 

“It’s best you don’t know, Ensign…”

 

“What do you-” it asked before its eyes wandered to the corpse behind me. It’s eye shutters enlarged as it saw the corpse, hands covering its face as if not believing who it was. “It can’t be…” it replied, falling to its knees and staying motionless.

 

"Lieutenant, sir," one of my soldiers walked up, looking around at the burning wreckage. "We estimate three-quarters casualties and the base is no longer usable. What should we do now?"

 

I took yet another look at the base, burning it’s broken and mangled pieces into memory before facing it. “Now, soldier, alert all commands and deploy the fleets… we go to war.”

 

---



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About the author

Zearth

Bio: "All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream." -Edgar Allen Poe.

"Let's suppose that you were able every night to dream any dream that you wanted to dream. And that you could, for example, have the power within one night to dream 75 years of time. Or any length of time you wanted to have. And you would, naturally as you began on this adventure of dreams, you would fulfill all your wishes. You would have every kind of pleasure you could conceive. And after several nights of 75 years of total pleasure each, you would say "Well, that was pretty great." But now let's have a surprise. Let's have a dream which isn't under control. Where something is gonna happen to me that I don't know what it's going to be. And you would dig that and come out of that and say "Wow, that was a close shave, wasn't it?" And then you would get more and more adventurous, and you would make further and further out gambles as to what you would dream. And finally, you would dream ... where you are now. You would dream the dream of living the life that you are actually living today." -Alan Watts

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