Contingency – Chapter 3: The Oath

One month and Three Weeks after the Vancouver Incident

It had taken them an entire week to limp their way to the Third Planet of the Epsilon Eridani system. The Ships head engineer had survived the explosion that had occurred with the missile had impacted the Bladed Claw. Unfortunately for him, without access to a fully stocked med-bay he would never walk again, his legs having been crushed by a collapsing bulkhead. He was quickly turned into an instructor as SSgt Brooks started pumping him for information in order to keep everyone alive.

Epsilon Eridani – 3 was a beautiful world. Gravity was one G, Oxygen/Nitrogen atmosphere. No apparent toxins or pathogens in the air that could cause the Humans on board any problems. Dr. Cranex however was worried about the rest of the crew. The gravity was 30% greater then what was galactic standard and the atmosphere thicker. It was frankly perfect for the combination of military and civilian personnel.

Capt. Drake felt the planet was beautiful as it filled the view screen, but it wasn’t home. It was untouched wilderness with its own challenges to their continued survival. Thankfully only the Corti had bothered to chart the systems within about twenty light-years of Earth. None of them had been interesting to the Corti save Earth, and the lack of any Temperate worlds Class 9 or below they were seen as uninhabitable to the other races of the Dominion.

They had to survive first, then they had to find others. If thirty-four of them had been abducted by the crew of the Bladed Claw, then the number of humans out there could have been in the hundreds of thousands, possibly millions. Jackson Drake, and the majority of the humans on board, had all sworn oaths to defend their countries and their peoples from all enemies foreign and domestic.

But what was the operational objective? He had thought about that over the last week as they had tried to learn how to fly this alien craft to safety. It was clear to him that Earth was in danger. Who that danger was from was up for debate. The Corti Directorate definitely ranked up there. The Hunters not far behind on Drake’s scale. The Hunters were for all intents and purposes Ambush predators/cannibals. They could be defeated with minimal effort it seemed. The Corti however were amoral scientists that would be facing life sentences back home if they had tried any of their actions within Earth Jurisdictions… most of them at least.

Then there was the Celzi Alliance, they were currently at war with the Interspecies Dominion from the limited amount of intel they could gather from the ships database. That was another thing they needed, information. When they got back to Earth, not if, then they would need to be able to let their respective commands know of the general and specific details of life out here as they could. The database was the first step.

One of the abuductees on board was a detective with the NYPD, a Claudia Dresden. Det. Dresden had been collecting evidence and assessing all the information they had available to them and had kept Drake up to date on what she had learned. For now she was their best choice for an intelligence officer. There was just so much they didn’t know, that they needed to know. The state of the Galaxy, the politics, the economics. They needed that information, if only so they could determine their next course of action.

Clearly they had to return to Earth. The ship provided a fully operational FTL drive, at least according to Brooks. The only reason they couldn’t use it at the moment was because they weren’t certain on what damage may have occurred when they were hit.

He hit the public address button on the central chair and spoke, “Alright everyone, we are about to make planet fall. Strap yourself in and hold on tight, we may encounter a little bit of turbulence and then… explode.”

A few people on the bridge couldn’t help but chuckle at that. Seaman Matthews had figured out how to fly the ship rather easily once he figured out what controls were what. Navigation towards Epsilon-3 had been easy enough with the ships navigation suite. They had made orbit that same day and drilled the survivors of the crew hard for the last day about re-entry procedures. It seemed a lot of things had been automated to the point of excluding the need for an organic pilot.

One of the other soldiers had medic training. Specialist DuFrane had been learning from Cranex. DuFrane had been working towards a Medical Degree, hoping to get his commission and serve as a medical officer. When asked, the man had said he wanted to help people as best he could, to cure them instead of making them feel better while they died. Cranex had begrudgingly accepted him as an intern. Drake had everyone he could all over the ship, trying to keep them busy while he figured out their next move.

Maybe things would become clearer on solid ground.

One month, Three Weeks, and Four Days after the Vancouver Incident

It hadn’t been an entire week yet, but they had managed to survive pretty well so far on Epsilon-3. One of the soldiers had started calling the planet Babylon after the television series. It had stuck, and now everyone was calling it that. The clearing they had landed in had been fortified over the last several days in order to keep some kind of defense going. Watch was kept, and everyone took their shift.

The damage to the Bladed Claw looked worse than it actually was. SSgt. Brooks said he could get the hull repaired and everything ship shape, but it would take a while. A routine had started taking shape as they explored the immediate area around the camp. Groups would be seen running in formation in order to maintain their fitness level. Some with hunting experience had gone out to both explore the local area, and return with meat for the camp.

Det. Dresden had found the galactic news feeds and kept a constant watch on it. The information had to be considered filtered and possibly censored, but still held some kernel of usable Intel. It was on the fourth day of her watch that the news had mentioned Earth. She took down all the information, but as she did she got angry. She also knew it would piss off everyone else, but they needed to know.

Night had fallen on Babylon, and Drake had spent the entire day thinking about what Claudia had brought to him. He had to admit, he felt lost. Earth had been denied them, and just assuming form their experience so far there had to be hundreds if not thousands of Humans lost in the galaxy. Possibly even more depending on how long the rest of the Galaxy had been abducting people form their homes with no moral or ethical concern.

The news that one of the alien governments had decided to blockade Sol fueled a rage in Drake’s heart he had never felt. Not really. It was one thing to see an act of terrorism against your country. This was different. This was an Act of War against his species. He had been debating what they should do for the last several hours, and always came back to the oath he had sworn when he had been commissioned.

I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.

That was really what it came down to. He had thirty-three men and women, all with various levels of training in various fields. He had a ship that was FTL capable, but needed some repairs. He had potentially hundreds of thousands of people lost out in space, waiting for a chance to come home. He had his Oath.

All Enemies, foreign and domestic.

His decision would echo through history, as the start of a Greater Darkness or a Greater Good he could not say. But a decision had to be made, a course set.

He stood up and walked to the center of camp where everyone gathered for the evening meal around a large bonfire. It was time to set them upon their path. May God have Mercy on their souls. He got to the front where everyone would be eating the roasted meat of the strange game animals they had started hunting. If Cranex could be trusted it was safe for them.

“Can I have everyone’s attention real quick?” Drake said, speaking loud enough to be heard through the clearing. He waited until everyone turned their eyes on him.

“By now, you’ve probably all heard the news. An alien government calling itself the Guvnur-whatever Confederacy decided that they had the right to blockade Earth until such time as THEY see fit to free our world. I know a lot of you are probably as angry as I am about this. From what we have gotten from the crew of the Bladed Claw, the Corti have been kidnapping or paying to have kidnapped humans from earth for at least seven thousand years. And it’s not just us, it’s every pre-FTL race in the galaxy. The Corti Directorate has managed to make itself too important for any one species to go against, the others are so dependent on them. I think we can safely assume their position on Earth now.

“The fact is that for all intents and purposes, we might as well be at war with the Interspecies Dominion. Their actions, and their inactions in defense of not just humans but all races that are unable to do anything about them is unacceptable. Now, not everyone here is U.S. Military. I know we have a few cops, some special operations forces from other countries, and a few professional fighters. I won’t make any of you follow me into this.

“The facts are however that if we do nothing, then there is a good chance that we will never see home again. Our friends and family will never know what happened to us. If we do nothing the rest of the galaxy might decide to take it one step further and exterminate us. We cannot allow that to happen.

“There is also the fact that there could be hundreds of thousands, if not millions of Humans out there. We owe it to Earth, and the people out here who just want a chance to go home. Everyone who is with me will go out and we will bring every single man, women, and child we find out there back here. We will establish this as the first Human colony and build this world for Earth. A second home for the human race in exile. And as we do that we will also strike against the Dominion and any other species that thinks it can prey on those who have yet to step out into the night.”

Drake took a breath and paced in front of the fire. He looked to the flames and for a moment could see Earth itself burning. He just hoped that what he would do wouldn’t be the cause of that.

He turned to the crowd of men and women, of soldiers, and saw in their eyes the same hope. The dream of being able to return home. He stopped for a moment and said, “Don’t say yes tonight. Take the evening, talk amongst yourselves, and decide what you will do. No matter what, we all will have to work together to survive. It’s just a question of what each of us can do to help. Sleep well everyone.”

Drake left the bonfire, he didn’t feel too hungry that night.