The woman bows at the captain once she received her orders "Understood, sir." with nothing else to say, the rabbit quickly slides down the stairs with grace, her heels tapping in a rapid rhythm against the stairs. She scurried over to one of the desks, where she must have presented the orders she was given by the captain to the only male human to carry a sidearm on the bridge; if anyone else would have carried a firearm openly on this section of the bridge could be severely sanctioned by martial law. But not the head of Tactical. As there seemed to a discussion between the two, the captain's screen suddenly flared with an incoming link, a sprite representing one of the supercarriers with five stars floating above the control tower blinked frenetically. It was the admiral of the 21st Fleet with his hulking TFF "Conquest", his grizzled voice tempered with hardships and experience:
=<Attention, Conquerors, we are now making the final approach on Nexus Ziggurat. Our fleet is to dock on sector C, ports 23 to 26, the coordinates will be sent to your pilots. Due to a security incident on the Nexus, you are to remain on board and docked until further notice, except for captains Watson, Renard and Hasov which will rally up in Sector C lobby room, accompanied with your security teams. Gentlemen, I expect pristine behavior from the most revered fleet of the Terran Federation... and Captain Hakon, I hope I am not forced to remind you what happens to those who dare to fiddle with martial law. Commander Riley out.>=
A few brief moments of silence passed before the captain was hailed again, though it was a direct link this time: a sprite depicting a R with five stars flashed brightly and intermittently and once accessed, a new window appeared on Jorn's private terminal which revealed to be no one else but the admiral: a man in his early fifties, a rough face that has seen it's share of war, yet, he kept his noble features cherished by silvery hair and mysterious black eyes. He was seated in his personal quarters, judging by the elegantly decorated background, but even here the commander wore his black suit, five stars adorn on his right shoulder and various badges and medals pinned to his left chest. He took the navy cap off his head and sighed deeply, pressing his eyes in as if he had a headache.
"These scaredy cats fuss over a small thing such as a typo in one's identity card. True, Nexus has the best security management in the whole galaxy, but this is ridiculous. But forget about that, Erik, I have more pressing matters to talk about. We are lucky enough that the security on the Ziggurat allow secure private links without them trying to listen. Even so, I still cannot be 100% sure they would allow something like this. Captain, I've received orders from our Supreme after he had a conversation with some of the delegates and with an Antares ambassador: you will receive a quick task, eyes only, from an Antari officer who will visit your ship shortly after you dock. Find him a place to sleep, Captain: he will act as a diplomatic guest on board of your ship for an indefinite amount of time, so treat him accordingly, even if he will not treat you back with kindness. When the Antari appears at the airlock, remember, the challenge is "Quasi", reply is "Stellar".
The admiral sighed once more and leaned in to the camera, almost as if he tried to comfort the captain through the video link "Look, Erik, I know the hell you've been through two months ago and I am more than sure you don't want to meet an Antari up close for the rest of your living days, but I have no one else to trust with the mission you will receive. You can always refuse the wolfman and boot him back out into the docks, but I wouldn't risk our positions if it weren't of grave importance; it's... it's important enough to have the Emperor actually worry over the matter. Should your task come out as a success, you will seal a strong peace between the Federation and the Empire. Good luck, Erik, should you need assistance, don't hesitate to contact me. I expect reports every two Earthern hours of your progress.
Ad Astra Per Aspera."
And so, the comm link cuts, leaving the captain in his chamber to brood over the news. The distinct, yet distant rumble of the engines slowly turned silent as the pilot was now maneuvering the ship with gentle impulses so it could access the docking port extending from one of the Nexus's Ziggurat arms. The sight of the monumentally massive construction shaped as two pyramids extending from a single flat base awed many of the new crewmen on board Jorn's Stryker, marvelling over the complex structures overlapping in perfect harmony so that, from a distance, it had a perfect shape; from up close, all of the docking ports, extending arms and eventual defense turrets could be identified as distinct protrusions from the complex construction completed by the Rokharr centuries ago, as the cephalopods claim. While it looked intimidatingly austere, it definitely spread an aura of "home" as it seemed to have captured a breathable, pure blue atmosphere of it's own, eventual clouds could be seen circling the station itself. The battleship made it's way through the labyrinth of arms, avoiding collisions with the other ships of the fleet and eventual docking arms in the way, but with an uncanny precision, the pilot found his way towards the correct docking area and as soon as he found an airlock, he swiftly occupied it. Just when the dock clamps clasped at each other in a secured grasp, the pilot threw his arms up and from a distance he could be heard uttering "Nailed it". Shortly after, someone else was making up the stairs, but it was a couple of heavy boots with magnetic clamps installed on the heels; the only one on the entire bridge with such boots could be the head of Tactical, Lieutenant Commander Alec Gordan. It seemed that the admirals were kind enough to boost this man's rank up, a golden flower-like badge now stood where a simple silvery rectangle would be pinned. A human with an interesting origin place that has been through hell twice and back, Alec had lost both of his arms consecutively and replaced with augmentations that tried their best to imitate his fair skin, but the few screws canals on his exposed forearms. The rather young officer always had a calm aura with him, but he was always ready to jump into action should anything go wrong just like an old fashioned warrior of the Federation army.
A tall forehead, large and vigilant brown eyes, a soft nose, thick lips and a long, pretty face would best describe the man with short, ruffled light brown hair. The man rarely worn his formal officer coat as he preferred to wear a royal blue military shirt and fold it's sleeves just over his elbows. He reached the captain's seat and formally saluted his superior, a faint of a smile on his lips:
"All decks are secured, we haven't opened the airlock to the docks and our external cameras are now surveying all airlocks of the ship. No missing crewmen, no extra crewmen, the ventilation systems are clear. We could vent the peripheral decks and any rooms connecting to the airlocks, if it makes you feel better, sir." he reported, in a half jest to the end. "Whatever happened there, it can't be that bad; last time a civilian pulled out a pistol replica, a whole sector was shut down. Those flying squids are damn paranoid, if you ask me, but they have a good security system.
But bugger that. I haven't had the chance to talk to you since we were thrown on board and sent off, Cap'n. We have an entire new army with us, that's for sure, but we lost Griggs... Ramona... Sif... we're lucky that Dmitri is virtually unkillable." he continued, crossing his arms while looking over to the bridge section below. "But that Second of yours, sir... just when I though I'd be tired of fuzzball, SHE pops up! Damn, where did the Admiralty Board find her cute ass?"
Just when he finished, a cadet made his way up the stairs, but never dared to take one step further. The mouse stopped there and tried to get both the captain's and the Lt. Commander's attention with a meek squeak.
"Gentlemen- uh, sirs. There's someone at the airlock and he looks mean." by the way he sounded, one could mistake him for a child. Alec frowned with his slightly bushy eyebrows and raised his left hand and with a few quick taps on his forearm, a holographic display erupted from the topside of his wrist; his fingers tickled the holographic displays until he accessed the starboard airlock camera that accessed deck three, the airlock that docked with the Nexus. Outside stood a tall figure fully clad in combat armor save for the helmet, revealing an individual of the Antari populace: a wolfish head with darting eyes that quickly inspected the battleship in front of him, his facial features were more feral than his supposed Terran cousins. The Antari was holding with him a briefcase of sorts which he placed by his feet as he waited there to be granted access inside the ship. Alec frowned at the sight of the specimen, remembering too well his quarrels with the imperials throughout the War of One Week and turned his head to the captain with a raised eyebrow:
"I wouldn't be too surprised if he was the cause of the security incident. Should I go shoo the mutt, sir?"