I haven't really found a Sci-Fi setting that fits what I'm looking for - sort of a combination of Starship Troopers (the novel), Wing Commander (the movie), Space Above and Beyond with a touch of Babylon 5. I'm looking for that gritty, not perfect future. This is my first attempt at trying to set the tone for the setting plus I'm trying a slightly different approach which makes this very much a work in progress.
If I’m not attacked with pitchforks and flaming torches (or should that be blasters and light sabers?) I may flesh this out a little more; even if I am, I still may, it’s my universe after all. I have a rough draft of a detailed time line, but it gets a little preachy so I’ll spare you from that (at least for now – queue diabolical laughter).
In 2578, exhausted by nearly 100 years of constant warfare the Civil War officially ended. The human sphere was divided into two main governments. The inner star systems, the United Star Alliance, having been originally settled by the Western powers of old earth hold to a loosely democratic form of government while the outer systems, the Peoples Stellar Socialist Republic, were primarily settled by the old earth nations of China, Russia and India, have a more socialist form of government.
The year is 2623, peace and stability has returned to the human sphere. Trade between the United Star Alliance and the Peoples Stellar Socialist Republic has once again become common.
December 7, 2623 0300hrs Earth Standard Time, United Star Alliance Customs station, Kaliban System, United Star Alliance border with the Peoples Stellar Socialist Republic.
Lieutenant (Jg) Alistair Johnson slowly became aware that he was no longer sitting in his chair at the command console. He could feel the hard cold surface of the deck plates beneath him. He opened his eyes and was staring at the back of the chair he had been in, how long ago, a moment, a minute, a hour? He could hear the muffled decompression alarms going off somewhere in the station, and his nostrils stung with the smell of burned electrical systems. He attempted to roll over onto his left shoulder and felt intense pain shoot through his shoulder. Gritting his teeth he struggled to his knees. Over the back of his fallen chair he could see Ensign Rosa Garcia struggling to her feet.
As he turned to the readouts on the command console of the station bridge he barked out “Ensign, damage report!” Scanning his console he saw the Pisser (Alliance slang for the PSSR forces) ‘freighter’ was still holding station, not taking any evasive maneuvers. “The bastards think they knocked us out” he mumbled. “It’ll take them time to reload their missiles if they even have reloads”.
“Sir, the outboard crew quarters have been breached, emergency bulkheads have sealed. Dorsal beam weapons are off line. Atmosphere is stable. Missile tube 2 is off line, tubes 1, and 3 show green” Garica responded in a shaky voice.
“Very well Ensign, please call the Commander to the bridge. What’s the status of the customs party shuttle that was in route to the freighter”, responded Johnson. Johnson was amazed at how calm he was as his fingers flew over his command keypad as he keyed in the commands to target the operational weapons on the enemy freighter.
“No sign of our shuttle, reading debris field consistent with a destroyed shuttle. Readings indicate probable bodies in the debris field, no signs of life” Garcia stated in an unemotional voice.
“Damn.” When the freighter had exited from the jump point it had been treated as a standard commerce inspection. The Customs station existed primarily to tax and inspect cargo transiting between the Alliance and the PSSR, its secondary role was to act as an early warning station for the Alliance Naval forces, which is why the naval personnel outnumbered Customs personnel by 8 to 1. Everything had seemed normal. The freighter took up station at the usual inspection point; a shuttle was dispatched with 2 customs officers and a detachment of 10 Marines (including pilot and co-pilot). The shuttle was maneuvering to dock with the freighter when the alerts sounded in the control room indicating a missile launch. The Socialist Republic forces had placed an incredible amount of electronic counter measures on the freighter to disguise the 4 missile tubes she carried.
“Ensign, download the last 10 minutes of our logs into a message pod and launch it.” The message pod wasn’t really a pod, it was essentially a large hard drive housed in a Faster-Than-Light or "Jump" capable automated drone. Its range was limited to one jump, but at least they could notify the sector command located in the Constitution system one jump away
“Missiles away! Firing beam weapons, Ensign, where the hell is the Commander.”
“Sir, he was off duty, if he was in his quarters…” stammered Garcia.
Both of the stations missiles slammed into the engines of the freighter while the heavy beam weapons sliced into the bridge area. Secondary explosions and rapid decompression followed the major explosions in the engine section. “Sir, their power core is going critical, estimate 30 seconds to detonation. We’re awfully close…” reported Garcia.
The NCO call was depressing. The station had loss half of its Marine and Custom’s compliment. However, by diverting one of their missiles to destroy the shuttle (amazing actually that a big anti-ship missile hit a shuttle, even at point blank range – maybe the shuttle hit the missile) the freighter had probably saved the station. Gunnery Sergeant Menendez was the only surviving Marine NCO, Chief Petty Officer Bowes was the sole surviving NCO from the station maintenance crew. Station records showed that Commander Chappelear as well as Ensign Park had both been in their quarters when the missiles struck. They were among the 12 crew members who had died when the outer hull was breached and they were exposed to vacuum.
Johnson began to wonder if volunteering for this specific assignment was such a good idea after all. The Kaliban system contained one world, uninhabitable and devoid of any resources. Serving a tour on a custom station was one of the many required ticket punches in an Officers career, and a tour that was despised by almost all of them. Serving on a custom station in dead system like Kaliban was deemed a ‘hard luck’ tour, which meant you typically had a fair amount of say in your next assignment. Plus, being a small station with a total compliment of under 50 personnel, it also meant that as a Lieutenant (JG) you were also the station Executive Officer. No, thought Johnson, if the damn Pissers hadn’t decided to start another war this would have been a good assignment and positioned him for a prime position on a Capital ship.
“…24 dead, another 3 badly burned and unfit for duty, 4 with broken bones, leaving us with 21 ready for normal duty” finished Garcia. “Dorsal beam weapons are back on line. We won’t be able to repair missile tube number two. We have 7 missiles remaining; we can’t unload the missile from tube two at this time due to safety concerns. The emergency bulkheads are holding in the crew quarters, I’ve got teams outside working on patching up the hull. We’re also retrieving the bodies. To answer your earlier question Ensign they were only armed with missiles because they couldn’t adequately shield the power usage of any beam weapons”, reported Chief Bowes.
“Thank you all. Ensign Garcia, I’ll be completing my report within the next 10 minutes, please have a message pod ready as I’ll want to send off the report as soon as it’s completed,” Johnson hesitated for a moment and then went on, “I want to compliment all of you on your actions following the attack. Please continue your repairs and submit updates every 6 hours. We don’t know if the Pisser’s plan on sending anything else through our system or not, so we need to be ready.”
Johnson flexed the fingers of his left hand as he adjusted the sling the Corpsman had fitted on his sprained left shoulder earlier. He glanced at the clock on the command console in front of him, 7 hours and 35 minutes since the attack. The first message pod would be reaching the Jump Point to the Constitution system in about 2 minutes. Then it would be another 103 hours, 21 minutes, and 9 seconds until the pod exited hyperspace and began transmitting the alarm to the Alliance forces in Constitution. Just a little over 4 days, and the Alliance would know it was in another war.
“I wonder when, or if, they’ll send a ship to evacuate us? Would they leave us to die in place? The Constitution System has a Jump point to Lakota, another border system, I wonder if they hit it too? Or maybe they hit it days ahead of us? If the Republic sends a warship here we’re toast. If we learned anything from the last war it was that bases are just targets waiting to be turned into scrap once the shooting starts. Damn I’m tired,” Johnson mumbled to himself.