Captain's log

First of all, I’d like to say over and over again that I’m a starship captain. For you school kids out there, I’m sure your teacher has never mentioned this, but there are two types of starship: civilian and military. So what? You may ask. A starship is a starship, a ship that zips across the galaxy!
Sigh, kids nowadays! Can’t you tell the difference? A civilian starship zips across the galaxy to find new exotic worlds and aliens and make friends. While a military starship does that to conquer some worlds and enslave the alien population. Don’t get it wrong. The mission is purely diplomatic actually. They carry some diplomatic tools such as nuclear bombs and plasma cannon. Can you see it now? Ok, you are nodding and I accept your apologize.

Secondly, I want to emphasize that I’m a civilian starship captain. Well not anymore, now that I’m commanding a cruiser. Well, actually that’s not really true, I was a frigate captain long time ago when you weren’t born yet. That’s right, I’m that old kid! You cannot tell my age? I’m 40 something you say? Boy! That wonder potion salesman didn’t lie. I’m glad I drink that every morning.
Anyway, after some time I got bored of killing aliens so I quit the military to become a tour guide (captain) of some eccentric and crazy scientists eager to find and study (and mate for all I care) some new aliens. I must admit the job can be quite boring, but who cares? The pay is good and I can flirt with some of the young and sexy (and unbelievable naive) lab assistants. I even scored few times. What a nice life!

But then the war broke out! And I’m forcefully drafted back into the service. Can you believe that?
Uh, it’s nice chatting with you kid. But I’ve gotta go now. It’s time for my physical training. Some lunatic in the Navy training center wrote regulation that all captain must be able to do 500 push up and sit up and 100 pull up. Easy for them to say if they have some bionic enhancement in their body. Why don’t I get one? Oh no! You see this muscle kid? It’s pure flesh and blood. And I’m proud of it.

TTYL (talk to you later) kid! Bye!

Smoldering supernova!
You won’t believe this kid. Our fleet was rushed into battle last night to intercept some Order aliens.
As a professional I’m fine with any last minute, unexpected mission like this, but what I don’t like is I must command a friggin fragile frigate. HQ said my HPS Unbelievable is under urgent maintenance because of leaked plumbing. Unbelievable! I don’t buy this excuse at all. But what can I say. Those admirals have more stars on their shoulder than me.

Anyway, I picked my trusted men and women and asked them to volunteer as always for this kind of mission. Brave sailors they are!
Fortunately our frigates have longer laser cannons than the aliens. It wasn’t really a fair fight I must say. Those poor aliens. I hope they have insurance.

RIP Captain Lallilulalali (don’t ask me why his name is like that, probably his parents were a fans of some long gone movie stars). His frigate was picked by enemy fighters. Despite his bravery and protection of our Anti Fighters frigates, he perished. We’ll miss you bro.

Here is the documentary from our war propaganda division.

Bye. I’ve got to do some paper work about yesterday’s battle. I hate this kind of report, can’t the ICI (Intelligence and Counter Intelligence) Division download the data themselves?

Finally first time full scale confrontation!
An alien race called “Alliance” was detected assembling large fleet near our border sector.

Admiral Zoezoes herself lead this mission. I always admire her smile and those sexy … of her. But that’s for another story. I’ll tell you later, kid.

Based on intel we sent enough ships to challenge the enemy. Seemed like the enemy didn’t expect us to come in such numbers and timing.
They completely caught by surprise and we easily destroyed them.

A perfect documentary for our propaganda division. We need more support (and money) from the people back home.

I’ve got to go kid. They are throwing a party for this first big engagement success.
Ah, can’t wait to see Admiral Zoezoes again. I wonder if she remembers me?

I looked at myself in the mirror (It’s not a mirror actually. It’s a computer display with several cameras hidden somewhere. I can watch news, see my ship’s status. Hell, I can even play GSB on it if I want to). Looking at the mirror I see a 40 something man with sharp eyes and striking black hair with few grey strands on the side.
The look can be deceitful nowadays. With advance plastic surgery and body parts replacement, in theory one can stay young forever. But, I don’t want it except for that wonder potion I drink every morning. Lol.

I walked out of my quarter in no hurry because they chose to hold the party on my cruiser. Don’t get me wrong, Admiral Zoezoes has her own flagship. But I heard she doesn’t like to host party on her ship because she’s worried of the after party mess. Of all the ships why they chose my ship? Could it because it’s one of the newest cruisers? Anyway I’m glad and proud of it.

I entered the auditorium, it’s a huge multi purpose hall that can accommodate the whole crew (that’s about 500 people). It’s circular in shape and on the top was a glass dome with protective cover during combat. But now it’s wide open and amazing view of stars and nebula made anyone in the hall feel so small in front of the universe.

It’s already crowded, looks like I was the last person to enter the room even though it’s not started yet. Some people wore their command visor. The visor mostly used during mission to give us tactical data, but it also gives us information such as person’s name and rank. So, it’s useful for occasion like this to know who’s who and you can be effective in ass-kissing. But, I’d rather do my job studying the guest of honor list, manually. That’s right. From pure brain power.

I saw few admirals. And few generals from the Marine corps. But I’m not really interested in chatting with them. Who I’m looking for was her. And it didn’t take long to find her. As I approach her, our eyes met and she smiled. My heart felt as if it’s going to explode.

“Admiral”, I saluted her with perfect gesture.
“Captain, as you were”, she replied casually with that ever beautiful smile. She excused herself from other guesses and walk along side me to a quieter floor.
“How are you, Ma’am?”, I tried my best to sound normal despite my pounding heart.
“I’m good. Nice to see you again, Tiger74”. Oh god, she’s using my nickname.

“It’s been a long time, Ma’am”, I was trying my best to keep my composure.
“Hell way too long, Tiger. And stop calling me Ma’am. I’m not your mother”, she scolded me but with a twinkle on her eyes.

Now that there’s nobody around us, I looked at her more thoroughly. Still the same pretty face, with her red hair tied up a bun. Still the same hypnotizing smile. And… still with the same hot curves. Sure there were some fine lines around her eyes and lips, but who cares. She’s still the same woman I’ve ever loved if it’s not my wife. Long story for later.

“Got what you’re looking for, Tiger?”, suddenly she interrupted my thought.
“Err… please forgive me, Ma’am… Zoey”, damn I hope I wasn’t blushing.

“So…”, we awkwardly spoke at the same time.
“Excuse me, please you go ahead”, ladies first was my motto.
“So… here we are… we meet again… in a war”, she stared far away out of the big window in front of us. Support ships were busy moving personnel and supplies. Maintenance crew and their automatic repair bots clearly visible with their laser tool flashing bluish light. Mending damage from the battle yesterday.
“Yeah, and you’re the admiral”, I said like a dumb.
“Don’t say that, Tiger. You’re the one who left the Navy… You left me!”, suddenly I sensed she raised her voice a bit. And I can understand why.
“I’m so sorry, Zoey”, I said. I wanted to get down on my knees to apologize. I wanted to hug her. I wanted to go back in time and make everything alright. But that’s all what came out of my mouth.
“How’s your son?”, she asked after a few minutes silence.
“He’s doing alright…”, I felt a sharp pain in my heart. Despite so many men went after her, from hot shot pilots to high ranking officers, she remained single all these years.

Great effort mate, it’s good to see some interesting contributions here.

Thanks bro ^^

“What’s he doing now?”, she asked. Which somehow in my heart I’m sure she knows.
“He’s a fighter pilot”.
“Really? Looks like he’s not like his father”, a meaningful smile appears on her lips.
“Yeah, he doesn’t like to drive a bus”, my mind wandered when my son refused to join the officer program in the academy and chose to be a fighter pilot instead.
She chuckled.

“Well, it’s time for me… you know”, she gestured her head over the podium.
“The speech…”, I understand.
I saluted her. Instead of saluted back, she extended her hand. We shaked hands. Her grip was firm and warm.
“It’s nice meeting you again… Captain”, she said in perfect admiral’s voice but with a very beautiful smile.
“The pleasure is mine, Ma’am”, my spirit was uplifted. I knew this wouldn’t be our last meeting.

Few days after that meeting, I was in my office reviewing ship readiness status (in other words I was day dreaming. But hey, a captain need to keep his charisma in front of the crew). Beside, the repair and resupply of the ship was almost done and there was nothing much to do (or I want to do) anyway.

I stared at the computer screen in front of me, showing personnel profile none other than… Admiral Zoezoes. How nice it was for captain like me to have access to this database. Of course they hid personal data such as health history, family, and body measurement (but I don’t need this one as I know hers by heart).

Damn! Can’t I zoom her photo? I explored the gesture menu trying to zoom the photo.

Zoey, she had excellent career over the years which I’m sure she earned it without any ass-kissing at all. Well, I guess I have time to tell you a bit of story about us. We were best friends during our naval academy and tour of duty later. What? Lovers? Hold on to your horses, kid. Let me continue the story first.

In fact we were like brother and sister. We had nothing to hide. We argued and fought (literally physical sometimes) all the time. I had bruises all over my body. Of course I didn’t fight back with full strenght.

Being such a smart and beautiful girl, lots of guys went after her. But she didn’t take any attention to them. Eventually I was aware that she had some feelings for me, but what a moron I was, I didn’t give much thought about it. Well, maybe partly because I was a hot shot myself at that time. Lots of girls were showing their affection for me. It’s true! Can’t you imagine how handsome I was during my 20s?

Somehow I got hooked on one of the girls. A young scientist I met during our tour of duty on a remote planet. She’s beautiful but had a complete opposite personality with Zoey. She’s timid and shy. We fell in love with each other in no time.

Well, I and Zoey did sleep together once. Only once. And we thought it’s because we had too much drink after some wild party. After that incident we became awkward and she kept a distance on me. Maybe she felt guilty knowing that I’m already with my future wife. Not long after that I left the Navy… and her.

“Shellix to Captain!”, suddently my first officer buzzed me on the comm.
“What is it?”, I answered after clearing my throat.
“There is urgent command from HQ, Sir. All ships should move to Atrima asap. Intel got info of imminent alien attack”
“Which alien?”
“The empire, Sir”
“I’m on my way”, Damn! Why the hell we are at war with every single alien in the universe?

ditto that, i’m liking what i’m reading (and watching!) ^^

Thanks bro. I like to write and play GSB at the same time. I hope the story can give a little giggle ^^

A moment later I entered the bridge and immediately sit on my captain’s chair. Ah! The salary for a Navy captain was sucks comparing with private sector, but at least the Navy made a hell good of captain’s chair. The leather was fake of course but it was high quality syntethic one (they banned killing animals for leather few centuries ago, mostly because there were no more animals left to hunt, a bit late. But better late than never, rite?). In addition they put an advance bio-sensing gel as the cushion in which it can sense if we have sit for too long and would begin to move in rhythm to ease the blood circulation on our butt. Pretty smart, eh? No wonder they granted the inventor a Navy medal for this.

“ETA, Shellix”, I looked at my first officer.
“We’d arrive at Atrima in about 10 hours, Sir”, she replied.

She? Yes, kid. I chose a female first officer. First of all, the Navy had anti discrimination policy regarding gender. So if she had the required skills and attitude and her track record stand up amongst her peers, there was no reason she couldn’t become a first officer and above.

And from personal point of view, why would I choose a male first officer when I could have the same performance with additional qualities that a male officer could never compete such as pretty face and hot body. Yeah, and once again I salute the Navy for designing the uniform. The garment gave comfort and protection to the person. But most importantly it stick to the body curves.

“Let’s just hope the local garrison can hold up that long”, I said to myself.

“Admiral Zoezoes is hailing us, Captain”, said my comm officer.
“On the screen”

Instead of only her, I saw another captain on the split screen.

“Captain, I believe you are aware of the situation here?”, she said.
“Yes, I see that Captain Berbouz is leading this mission and me as his right hand”, I saw the data on my command visor.
“That’s right. You both have experience with The Empire alien before. Can you handle this?”
“Yes Ma’am”, Captain Berbouz with his heavy voice answered.
“Good luck to you”, with that she ended our conference.

We spent the next few hours preparing for the battle plan based on what little info we have on this alien. Don’t get us wrong, we had known the Empire alien for ages, it’s just for some reason that we don’t know or we can’t understand, the alien refused to establish a permanent contact with us. We did try for some time to keep approaching them, sending diplomatic missions and all, we even sent drones and spies when the diplomatic effort failed. But in the end we stopped all of that when the alien found out about the spying and retaliated with horror consequences. They destroyed all of our moons as a warning. Puff! Just like that. Now you know why there was no more moon in our solar system, kid.

“So, Captain, what do you think of this alien?”, I asked on his image on the screen. I did this conversation on the bridge in witness of all the crew because I wanted to share any knowledge or experience we have to all of the crew, at least those who were on bridge duty.
“Besides the one we got in class that we should never say hi to them?”, he smiled.
“Yeah, and besides that we should run away like hell if they begin to say hi”, I joked. The crew laughed nervously.

He he - this is the first thread that doesn’t discuss the relative merits of plasma launchers and calculating the amount of damage a tribe fighter can take from a parasite flak cannon under the new AOE rules ever! :slight_smile:

“Well, to tell you the truth, I did battle one of their ships once”, said Captain Berbouz.
“You did?”, my mouth wide opened (and so did everyone’s in the bridge).
“Well, actually it was a mistake. My crew were so terrified meeting the alien ship that they did nothing when I ordered them to activate the hyperdrive and get the hell out of there”.
“So I did it myself”.
“I see. That’s normal protocol. Captain can and should do it himself if necessary”, I nodded.
“Yeah, except…”
“I pressed the wrong button. I pressed the plasma launcher button instead of the hyperdrive button”
“What?!”, we were all shocked. I saw his face was all red blushing.
“Then? What happened? How did you survive?”, I asked after I overcome my shock.
“You may not believe this, but we destroyed the alien ship”, Captain Berbouz stared back intensely on us, as if he begged us to believe him.
“That’s impossible!”

“Well, Captain. I have been thinking about that incident for some time. We only engaged the Empire alien ages ago. Since then, we can say that our technology had improved a lot. Especially since we also imported and developing weapon technology from other aliens. Don’t you agree?”, he said.
“Hm… make sense. I agree. There is possibility that our technology is on par with theirs now”, I heard the crew were whispering to each other.

“How about you, Captain? What’s your experience with this alien?”, suddenly Captain Berbouz asked me. I could feel everyone’s gaze on me.
“Haha… I wish I don’t have to tell my story. It’s nothing like yours, Captain”, I couldn’t help it, I felt my face was blushing.
“Oh come on, please tell us”, he said.
“Well, Ok if you insist. It’s a long time ago in a remote alien planet. I was on R and R leave. I was just relaxing in this small bar when suddenly I saw that alien. I recognized it from old photo in our text book in school. I’m sure you know”.
“Yeah, of course. Everyone knows. Then?”
“Well, I was shocked and curious at the same time. I mean, come on. I’ve never heard anyone that I know if they have ever encountered an Empire alien in person. And there was me seeing one”
“So, what did you do?”
“Of course I approached it to say hello and shake hands”
“Shake hands? You don’t know if it even has hands!”, Captain Berbouz eyes bulged.
“Exactly, silly me. Looked like I grabbed the wrong tentacles. It became very angry and began to attack me”.
“Then what did you do?”
“What else? Of course I ran like hell. Lucky one of the local sheriff managed to calm the alien. It turned out that it was a female, and when I told the sheriff about the 'hands”, he laughed and said that the tentacle I was mistaken for hand was actually the female alien’s private part", I covered my face with my hands. I hate telling this story. Captain Berbouz and the whole bridge laughed for 10 minutes non stop.

After the laughter everyone’s mood seemed uplifted. I promised in my heart that I should get Captain Berbouz for this someday. Nah, just kidding. I’m glad that I could give a little laughter to the crew, enough for them to forget that they may die soon when we engage the alien.

“So, Berbouz. Let’s talk about the plan again”, I asked Berbouz. Well, now that we had shared a good laugh (which I had been humiliated), I felt like at least I could call Berbouz without “captain” once in a while.
“Well, our task force consists of few plasma cruisers, some various frigates (AF, Snipers), and few squadron of fighters. I think we should use the standard formation”.
“Comm, any news from Atrima?”, I asked.
“No Sir. I’ve been trying to contact them. No reply yet. Probably too much interference or…”
“Or, the local garrison fell so quickly”, I continued. Which was not surprising since we only put few frigates and squadrons. No cruisers. We didn’t thought that the Empire alien would attack after all those peaceful ages.
“So, Berbouz, yeah I think standard formation would be good. It’s the most balanced one in terms of attack and defense. We don’t have any information on the alien ships anyway”.

I gave the crew one hour break for them to do anything they want as long as they kept their professionalism. And most of them spent it doing various things that people who were going to die likely do: sending (last) video message to loved ones, hot shots trying to score with pretty ensigns by convincing them that it may be the last moment they have together, etc.

For myself, I recorded two videos. One was for my son, and the 2nd for who else? Zoey. I sent the video for my son right away. And now I’m recording the one for Zoey.
“Well, Zoey”, I spoke to the camera in my private quarter.
“Looks like this may be my last mission. Captain Berbouz said that we may have a chance to win and he’s optimistic about it. But I don’t know. Sigh. You know me for long. I’ve always been optimistic too, no matter how desperate the situation is. But somehow this time I have a little doubt about this mission. Maybe it’s because of my age?”
I paused for several minutes, it’s just the emotion in my heart was too much. I felt regret…
But with all my strength I managed to smile.
“Zoey. No matter how much I say sorry, it won’t make it up for what I have done to you. But, still, I want you to know that I’m so truly sorry, and I beg for your forgiveness”.
“I love you”

With that, I pressed the Option button and set it up so that the message would only be sent few hours later, just in time when we engage the alien and if somehow I survive, I would cancel the video. It would be nice if Zoey watch the video after I die, but how embarrassing it would be if I’m alive.
Funny. Somehow I felt all my burden was lifted off my shoulders. I felt fresh and focus.

(Several hours later)

“We’re preparing to jump out of the hyperspace, Captain!”
“All crew battle stations”, I ordered. My mind was calm. I was ready… ready for everything… ready for even death.

We jumped out of the hyperspace and suddenly there was chaos all around us. Ship wrecks, frozen bodies. And a few clicks in front of us we saw an explosion of the last defender from the garrison.
“All ships in position, Berbouz!”
“Very well. Remember the plan. Concentrate fire on one ship at a time”
“We’re in range, Sir”, my weapon officer yelled.
“Follow the target from Captain Berbouz and fire at will”
“Aye aye, Sir. Plasma away!”

And so we battled the Empire alien. Captain Berbouz was correct. Our weapons did work against them. Especially after our cruisers managed to knock their shields off, our snipers frigates with their long range laser cannons had no difficulties making holes in the enemy’s hulls. They did sent fighters to get our frigates but the Anti fighter frigates were doing excellent job.

This battle is a very valuable documentation for our propaganda department and most importantly for our ICI folks to study this alien tactics and capability.

“Yeahhhh!”, we all cheered when we destroyed the last alien ship.
“Good job, all!”, Berbouz broadcasted his message to all ships.

I was congratulating the crew in the bridge when suddenly I remember… Damn! I forgot to cancel the video to Zoey!

“Ensign Zandex, please see me in my office”, I gestured to my comm officer.
“Aye, Sir”, she stood up right away from her console.

She? Again? You ask.
Well, yes she is. You’ve got a problem with that kid? For your information, half of my bridge crew were female officers. What? You think it’s like a harem? Look kid. Have you visited Captain Berbouz bridge?
You haven’t? Well, he’s the only male on the bridge! Now you see. I’m not as perverted as you think, kid. Now will you excuse me, I have an important issue to discuss with my sexy comm officer.

“Please have a sit, Ensign”, I said to her after we entered my office.
“Thank you, Sir”, she timidly looked back at me. She always had this cute face when we had 1 on 1 meeting.
“Zandex, I know you’re an expert in comm system…”, I hesitated a bit, trying to find the right words.
“Anything I can help, Sir?”
“I’m not sure. But I do hope you can. Can please tell me how a video message is sent to another ship? I know it’s going through some relay satellites”, I know a bit of the system. But I’m no way an expert. Hey, I did have that ship comm subject in class, but it was a long time ago. I bet they have improved it a lot.
“Yes, you are correct, Sir. Especially if it’s a long distance one. The message will have to be relayed over many satellites and for certain circumstances they may be subject to… umm… inspection”.
“Inspection? You mean someone is watching our video message?”, I was shocked. And all this time I’ve got impression that the fleet upheld privacy to the highest value.
“Only on very certain circumstances, Sir. Like if ICI suspects espionage or treason. Something like that”.

“I see. Do you think I can cancel a video message that I have sent?”, I put my most serious face hoping that she wouldn’t ask why.
She looked at me for a moment and her mouth began to open as if she’s going to ask a question.
“In theory we can, Sir”
“Can you do it? I think it’s just sent a few moments ago”, I was relieved she didn’t ask the reason.
“Can I use your computer console, Sir?”
“By all mean, go ahead”, I logged myself into it and let her use the console. She came standing and bending a bit beside me. Her fingers expertly clicking on the menu.
“Well, if the message is still being relayed and with the correct authorization, I may be able to cancel it. I see you sent one message to Lt. Francix and one to Admiral Zoezoes. Which one, Sir?” she asked looking at me. Oh man, her face was just so close beside me. My eyes automatically glanced over her sweet lips. Damn, what’s wrong with me? She’s younger than my son! I looked away to the console.
“Admiral Zoezoes”, I said as serious as I could.
“Let’s see. The message is still being relayed. But I don’t have the authorization to cancel, it’s already more than 3 relay stations away”, she said sorry.
“Can you use my authorization key?” I was hoping.
“Yes, let’s try. Please enter the key, Sir”
“No, please type it for me. I have fat fingers. You type it for me. It will be faster”
“All capital letters. L… zero… V for victory… three… Z for zig zag… zero… E for enterprise… lasty… Y”, I spelled it for her.
“L0V3Z0EY ?”, she perplexed.
“Well, won’t be anymore kid. I’ll change it after this”, I said solemnly.
“Ok”, she clicked the Enter button. Tet tooott! The console sounded like those wrong answer in TV quizzes.
“I’m sorry, Sir. It didn’t work”
“Any other way?”, I saw the message moved to the next relayed station.
“Well, I wrote this small program for various utilities including things like this. But it’s not legal of course”, she said.
“No, don’t use it. I think I’ll let it be”, I said after some consideration. I do think sometimes it’s necessary to break fleet rules and all, but I do have my limit, and this time it’s one of them.

“Thank you, Zandex. That would be all”, I dismissed her.
“I’m sorry, Sir”, with that she went out of the door.

“Sigh…, now I wonder how would Admiral Zoezoes react to the message”, I rest myself on my chair.

“Sir, Captain Berbouz is hailing us”, suddenly I heard Zandex in the comm.
“Patch him through”, I saw him immediately on the video on my room wall. He surely looks very happy.
“Captain Tiger, my man!”, he said in his thunderous voice.
“Captain Berbouz, are you drinking?”, I was surprised to see his manner.
“Drinking? Oh no Captain! I’ve never drink on duty. Remember that”, he made a no-no gesture with his fingers.
“Really. But looking at you now I’ve got impression you are drunk”, in fact on his back I saw some of his female officers were all laughing and partying.
“Oh come on Captain. We are just having a little celebration here. You should try this candies my first security officer brought from his home planet. It’s called good time candies”, he showed something on his palm, looked like candies, except it’s green and glowing.
“Captain!”, I objected.
“Well alright. Don’t be so serious. Now, let’s see. The reason I call you is that I will be visiting the Atrima planet council. I just want to make sure that everything is calm down there. And meanwhile, I want you to setup defense perimeter around the planet just in case the alien sent another attack”
“TTYL, bro”, with that he ended the transmission but enough for me to hear him teasing one of his bridge crew.

I spent the next hours arranging with the other ships to do clean up operation of the battle scene. We left ship wrecks as they were, but we did sent shuttles with medic team and marines to check inside those wrecks, just in case there were survivors. At the same time, the engineer corps were deploying drones as eyes and ears in the surrounding space to detect any incoming enemies. We also sent scouts and fighters to patrol the perimeter. We put guards on big alien ship wrecks until our ICI guys arrived from HQ to look for any data and intelligent resources.

Later that day I visited one of the hangars on my ship. It had been converted to a mass morgue where they put all the bodies of the dead. Usually we would put them into individual coffin and launch it into space, but this time it was just too many of them. So the bodies were just laid on the hangar deck with a sheet of blanket over them. I saw hundreds of bodies, maybe even thousand as shuttles continuously came with more bodies. Some of those were in normal complete body condition because they died of suffocation and freeze to death. But beside laid bodies, there were also lots of bags. The bags were for those whose bodies got torn apart because of explosion. The Navy always tried do it’s best to collect all of them.

For the funeral, usually we sent the bodies out to outer space, and if we were near a planet we would send them into the atmosphere to be burned during entry, or another case the planet council could request them to be buried on the planet itself. I’ll wait for this decision later.

I walked along to the endless line of bodies. Some were not covered yet, and I couldn’t help to look into their faces. Young men and women faces. So young! Too young!
Some seemed to be just peacefully sleeping, but many of them had this terrified, surprised expression. Poor kids.

Don’t get me wrong kid. I did get depressed working with war casualties like this. But I’ve got to be strong, as everyone else. War sucked and should be avoided if possible. But if the times came when war was inevitable, everyone must be ready. Damn war!

It was a long day for everyone, many crew got their work shift extended, but no complain. This was what they had been training for in their whole military life. Yeah, besides Glory and Honor, Sorrow and Hatred made a very strong motivation for us. All over the place I heard how we were eager to deliver some payback to the aliens.

I withdrew myself to my quarter to get some rest. It’s been so long ago since I experienced this kind of life and death situation. It’s another matter if you experience it during your youth, but now in my older days, I had different perspective on it. It’s not glory and honor, not so much hatred either. It’s sorrow, just sad. Very sad. How those young men and women’s life were cut short, so short with tragedy like this… a war.

I rest myself on my bed but I saw a notification blinking on my personal comm on the wall. So, I got up and sit on my bed edge. There were two video messages. I played the first one, it’s from my son.

“Dad!!”, I heard my son yelling.
“What the hell are you thinking sending me message like this?!!”, he continued yelling.
“Last mission you said? You’ve got me worried to death!”
“Well, like it or not, I’m coming to you, Dad!”, I smiled. We seldom met since he was dispatched to different fleet in another sector. Yeah, I was so proud of him. I’m looking forward to meet him again.

I opened the second video message, and it’s from admiral Zoezoes… Zoey.

“Captain!”, she said calmly into the camera.
“Congratulations on the mission. Folks at HQ were ecstatic over this battle, especially it’s our first encounter with the Empire alien after so long, and we won it. Good job”.
"Tiger… ", she hesitated
“I’ve got your… message… and…” , she smiled softly. God she’s so beautiful. At this moment, she didn’t look like an admiral to me. Her eyes and smile was so… I didn’t know how to express it, it’s just so overwhelming. She became the woman I loved… long time ago.
"Well… I… ", she couldn’t find any words to finish. But I didn’t care. Her smile was all I ever need.
“I’ll see you soon, Tiger”, with that she ended the message.

Finally I put my head over the pillow. But I couldn’t sleep. A storm was raging in my heart. Old feelings, warm ones emerged from the deepest part of my heart. Feelings of Zoey. But finally I fell asleep… smiling.

The next few days ICI (Intelligence and Counter Intelligence) folks arrived all the way from HQ. They have their own fleet of cruisers, frigates and figthers squadron. I received my battle debriefing schedule immediately that evening as well as other captains (separate interview of course). Boy, they surely didn’t want to waste any time.

“Permission to come aboard, Captain!”, one of the ICI folks greeted when we met.
“Welcome aboard, Colonel…”, I looked all over his shirt, but I couldn’t find any name tag, only that he was a colonel, as well as the man beside him. Moreover, they were wearing somekind of command visor. Only that theirs were all black, made it impossible to recognize the person.
“Colonel X1, Sir”, said the first man.
“And this is Colonel X2”, he introduced his comrade.
“Nice meeting you, Captain”, said the second man, X2.

“Uh… if you please come follow me, gentlemen…”, I said awkwardly. I heard a lot about ICI, but I’ve never imagined they would be this strange.

“Have a seat please. Drinks?”, I offered them glasses once we reached my office.
“Thanks but no thanks, Sir”, said X1… or is it X2? I couldn’t tell. They both look the same!
“Well, gentlemen. What can I do for you today?”, I said as in as neutral tone as I can. Of course I knew what this was about, the debriefing.
“I believe you already know, Sir. We’re here to debrief you”, said X1 (ok I will just assume X1 or X2 here, doesn’t matter to me).
“Ah right… well, I have provided you all the data from the ship’s computer along with my written assessment of it. Isn’t that good enough?”, I smiled politely.
“Yes you have, Sir. And we have our analysts working on it as soon as we received the data. We are from different team, we’re here to gather more data that may not be inside the computer and also to…”, X1 couldn’t find the word.
“To validate it, Sir”, X2 helped his friend.

“To validate? Are you saying I’m lying?”, I said clamly but I couldn’t help to send a chilly stare at them. Too bad I couldn’t see their eyes behind those black visors.
“Of course not, Sir. Forgive us for giving wrong impression. Please understand, we’re just doing our job. No need to worry. It will just like a formality if you will”.

Formality bullshit I said in my heart. So, the rumor may be true that ICI was using somekind of lie-detector during debriefing. I bet those visors acted as one. I wasn’t afraid of course, I was just upset. All those battle report writing were so irritating. And now this debriefing. I looked at their faces. Although the eyes were completely covered by black visor, but I could tell that they were much younger than me. ICI used Air force ranking system (yeah, they were not Navy, neither Air Force nor Army. They’re just ICI, under the ministry of… ICI. Can you believe it they made a ministry for it?). Rank speaking, we were quite equal, me being a captain and they were colonel. But looking at their much younger age, I bet the ICI just gave away ranks so that their personnel would look more authoritative.

“Alright then. What do you want to know more?”, I took a deep breath.
“Excellent, Sir. Now if you please answer these few question first…”
“Are you Captain Tiger?”
“Yeah… of course I am!”,
“Your son’s name is Francix?”
“Have you killed someone personally before?”
“Yes”, damnit. So it’s really true. I said in my heart. They were calibrating their lie detector.

“Alright, Captain. Let’s focus on this battle… Did the alien try to make any communication to you during the battle?”
“Did you try to establish any communication to the alien during battle?”
“Hell no. Why would I do that? Say hello while they were butchering our garrison?”
“We can gather some intelligence from it, Sir”
“Yeah? Such as what? Whether they like to kill us using laser or plasma torpedo?”, I said sarcastically.
“No Sir. For example we may know who was the leader of the alien fleet, or most importantly why they attacked”, said X1 calmly ignoring my sarcasm.
“Make sense… please continue”, I must admit these guys were trained good.
“Related to it, do you have any indication why the alien attacked?”
“No, I have discuss this with Captain Berbouz, we have no idea”
“In your opinion, what made us able to destroy the alien fleet?”
“Good question. Although Captain Berbouz said that he once beat the alien before, but it was not a full engagement. We were surprised that we were able to beat them in much larger scale such this one. I’d say that our new Cruiser Projector and our Frigate Sniper Laser really were the reason we could beat them”.

“Excellent. Well, that would be all, Captain. We appreciate your cooperation”, said X1.
“My pleasure, Colonel. If you don’t mind, may I ask few things to you? I’m really curious about ICI for quite some time”.
“Sure. As long as we are able to answer it according to the policy”.

“Ok, here we go. First, is it true that you have a poison container planted in your brain just in case you need to commit suicide in risk of being captured by enemy?”, I asked with plain expression. Don’t get me wrong kid, ICI was always shrouded in secrecy and it’s not like every day chance you got to talk to them face to face. I’ve just got to ask these few questions.
Colonel X1 and X2 glanced each other. It’s clear my question surprised them.
“Well, Sir. We cannot comment on that. Sorry”, said X1 finally with a faint smile.
“Is that so?”, I smiled too.
“Anything else, Sir?”, X1 seemed to sense what I’m going to ask next and wanted to end this quickly.
“Yes. Is that true that when you retire you have two choices, to live in an isolated ICI planet, or have your memory erased?”
“Captain. I believe you heard too many rumors about us. Now, if you excuse us we’d like to go”, said X1 still smiling but with a cold voice.
“Ah of course, Colonel. Please let me know if you need anything”, I got up from my chair and returned their salute.

Right after they left, the comm rang and I answered it.
“Captain! I’ve just got my debriefing. How’s yours?”, Berbouz’s voice boomed as always.
“Hello, Berbouz. Same here”.
“You won’t believe what they asked. Outrageous!”
“Haha… tell me about it. But I’ve got chance to ask few questions of my own to them”
“Really? What did you ask?”, Berbouz eyes were off the camera and I knew what he’s staring at. Damn that pervert Berbouz.
“Yeah, I asked them if they have suicide capsule planted in their brain”
“You really asked that? LOL!!”, he laughed out loud.