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Chapter 3: Blacklisted: Part 1

Mira stood in front of the triple-layered floor window in her office, staring out at the speckled darkness. The stations rotation was facing away from Jupiter’s large frame reflecting the sun’s light. Interestingly enough, she could actually see the sun. It was a small speck of light surrounded by blackness. 

When her door entrance buzzed the first time, she didn’t hear it. She was too lost in thought, running through what little information she’d gathered from the strange anomaly that had occurred only hours before. She knew the mysterious visitors on Decks 7 and 8 had recovered a number of artifacts from the wreckage. But station sensors were blacked out and all view windows were closed the 23 minutes it took for all recovered material to be moved to the protected decks. 

Again the entrance buzzer sounded, bringing Mira out of her gaze.

“Enter” she called out.

The large white door frame quietly opened upward to reveal Lt. Kathy Brooks slowly venturing into the room. The backs of two security officers standing on both sides of the entrance were visible. Mira didn’t turn to greet her. She stared at the Lieutenant’s reflection in the window. 

Kathy stood at attention in front of the desk.

Mira knew what was coming next. She smiled. “So formal.” She finally turned to face her. “I wasn’t expecting you this soon.”

“Things have accelerated, Ma’am.”  Kathy replied. 

Things.” The General walked to stand behind her chair. She rested her elbows on the top of the comfortable chair. “What sort of things?”

Kathy remained stern. “We need you to come with us.”

The two security officers turned and entered the room, now standing inside the room in either side of the door.

Mira smiled. “Where?”

“I can’t tell you.”

“Sure you can. Being that I’m your superior officer, I think I can order you to tell me where we’re going.” Her smile faded. “But I’m not really your superior, correct?”

“Technically? Yes you are, Ma’am.”

Mira sighed. “But in actuality?”

Kathy smiled. “In actuality.. You need to come with us.”

“And what if I don’t agree to accompany you?”

Kathy’s smile didn’t waver. “Then, under Article 70.4B, I will be forced to relieve you of duty, take you into custody under.. whatever suspicious activity I can think up and escort you to..”

Mira’s ears perked up. “..Deck 7?”

“8, actually…” Kathy sighed. “You need to accompany us, Ma’am.” She grew frustrated. “Please don’t be stubborn. You’ve been asking a lot of questions since you’ve got here. The appropriate people have noticed your couriostiy and have decided to give you answers. Now, will you PLEASE accompany us .”

The two security guards took a step forward.

“Well then..” Mira smirked. “since you asked so nicely.”

The four of them quietly made their way through the corridor to a specific turbo lift that led to Deck 8. All other lifts had been suspended or diverted to limit access to authorized personnel. Both security guards flanked Kathy and Mira, the former up ahead with the General following closely. To observers, nothing looked out of the ordinary. Kathy didn’t want it to look like Mira was in custody– because she wasn’t. But her orders were were to deliver the General to the designated location within the next half hour, and Kathy is a stickler for following orders. 

They quickly stepped into the turbo lift and with in seconds the doors slid open to reveal the infamous Deck 8.

“Finally…” Mira muttered under her breathe. 

Kathy acted as if she didn’t hear her. “Here we are, Ma’am.”

The entrance to Deck 8 was guarded by two armed officers and half dozen Type-4 Salvo auto gun turrets. Not the standard micro guns made specifically for internal defense.  These were modified ‘macro’ dense-ammo turrets, like the kind found externally on mid-size gunships. It was a bit overkill to have so much firepower at a single door. But Mira understood what it was. It wasn’t the firepower. It was a cautionary sign in the biggest sense. It basically ‘showed‘ more than ‘told‘ offenders what would happen if they crossed this threshold without proper authorization.

Mira, alongside her subordinate and flanked by the two security guards approached and stopped at the entrance. Upon seeing Lt. Brooks, the door security detail stepped aside and allowed her to enter for 32 digit passcode. Once the defense barrier covering the door dissipated, the two security guards that accompanied them turned and left the area and Kathy moved aside.

“This is a far as I go, Ma’am.”

“You’re not coming in with me?” Mira asked.

“No Ma’am. I only have clearance for Deck 7. As of today, you’re one of two people on this station that can enter Deck 8.”

Mira grunted. She started to walk in, but paused for a moment. She turned to Kathy. “When this is over.. me and you? We’re gonna have a nice ‘conversation‘. You understand me, Lieutenant?”

Gone was Kathy’s smile. Now she kept a stern face and didn’t make eye contact. “Yes, Ma’am.” 

Mira grunted and then entered the room. The defense barrier sprang back to life immediately, and the two sentry guards resumed their position. Interestingly, once Kathy’s mission of delivering the General to Deck 8 was finished, she was immediately treated like she didn’t belong there. The Lieutenant quickly retreated to the elevator, where her security guards were waiting.

Mira had a mental image of what she thought Deck 8 would be like. It was totally shielded from any type of available scanning technology, so the equipment inside must have been next-generation shit that the Sol. Garrison wouldn’t see for a decade. 

But the reality shocked her. 

What she walked into was an incredibly sparse white hanger. Former images of the deck had shown large stacks of containers alongside landing zones for a dozen spacecrafts, usually for loading and unloading cargo. What she was staring at now, was the inside of a giant empty 50 square yard cube. The lights on the ceiling and upper walls were extremely bright– so bright that the few objects in the room barely casted any shadows. 

There were no windows. It appeared the actual bay door normally used for landing ships had been closed and permanently sealed shut. It was as if it had never been there. There was no sign of any equipment, or next-gen technology. Just a standard white desk and two white chairs that stood in the middle of the room.

Mira began to walk, listening to the echo of her boots walking across the cold metal grates along the floor. She kept watch for any other sign of life, but there were none. As she moved further away from the door, it seemed to disappear in the brightness. Now she seemed to be walking in nothingness. Just her and the table and chairs were floating in this giant square of bright empty. 

When she reached the table, she expected to find some type of collateral for her to interface with. Maybe a message pad with ‘FOR YOUR EYES ONLY’ blinking rapidly across the screen. But there was nothing. On instinct, she sat down in one of the chairs. She chose the seat facing the direction of the door she entered for security purposes. She sat up straight and placed her clasped hands together on-top of the table.. and waited.

Ten minutes passed without an incident before Mira heard the sound of the defense barrier powering down. She perked up and centered her gaze through the brightness in the direction of the entrance. 

The sound of echoing footsteps reached her before she saw the approaching visage through the blinding brightness. The Major General was a tall man, maybe 6’5″, extremely slender with a completely white head of hair and matching beard. He wore a standard Sol Garrison uniform, but it was white with red trim, instead of the typical grey and black. His white boots were so shiny that they were almost invisible in the brightness. 

When he reached the table, she finally got a good look at him. Even though she recognized the assortment of metals on the uniform, she didn’t recognize the man.. Almost 30 metals lined his coat on both sides of his chest. She could count the number of people who had that much flair in Sol Garrison, but she couldn’t place this mysterious war hero.

He smiled. “Hello, Mira.”

She quickly jumped to her feet and saluted. “Sir!” she shouted.

The man chuckled. “None of that, please. That’s why I brought you to Deck 8. Sovereign territory. Save that protocol shit for outside.”

She reluctantly lowered her salute. “Then how should I address you, sir?”

The man grabbed the other seat across the table. “You can call me Blake. Just Blake.” he began to unbutton his coat. “In this room, we are equals, General.”

Mira nodded in agreement. 

Blake removed his military coat and draped it on the back of his chair. 

“I hate wearing that damn thing. But sometimes we need to hide in plain sight. Give the masses easy conclusions to questions they don’t even know to ask yet.”

“Sir..” Mira corrected herself. “Blake.. I don’t understand what’s going on right now.”

The mysterious man leaned back. “Since the moment you got here, you’ve been asking questions. You’ve drilled through databases.. ran comprehensive scans.. interrogated my people.. You did everything we expected you to. It’s the reason why we pulled you from Earth-side duty and in command of this station.” 

“But this is no ordinary command.” Mira said.

“Oh yes.” Blake replied. “This is exactly what it’s suppose to be. Except, it’s just the top layer of something much more important.”

Blake pressed both of his hand down on the table and then gestured as if he was pulling something up. Following his simulated grips from inside the table, a holographic square sprang up. It was the visual record of a brutal space battle that had happened right outside of her space station’s position.

She knew exactly what it was.

“General Porter. I know this may be a little disheartening, but it’s very necessary.”

Mira nodded in acceptance.

“Good.” Blake spun the holographic space battle around and then gestures to zoomed in on a corner. The screen went from tiny moving dots and flash of light, to a detailed scene of weapons fire and explosions.

Mira could see Blake staring at her through the hologram from the other side of the table. She did her best not to react to the memories that went along with that scene.

Blake spoke. “68 minutes into The Battle of Ganymede, the Gunship Titan jumped out of hyperspace a half lightyear away. Why?”

Mira almost missed the question being so focused on the recording.

“Sir, I catalogued all of this in my report to Sol. Command. It’s been years. I don’t know if I could recall what happened as accurately as..”

“I don’t need accuracy.” Blake interrupted. “I need YOU. I need to know YOUR thoughts while this was happening.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Between the time the war started and the arrival of the Titan, we lost our 16:1 advantage against the NýX. It was literally a massacre. In the 18 minutes the Titan snuck onto the battlefield, you recorded an incredible statistic of 47 hits. 22 of them confirmed kills. From the footage, I can tell you used little, to no standard military tactics. You seem to be all over the place. 6 minutes after you arrived, the bulk of the NýX fleet changed tactics and focused their firepower on you. During the 12 minutes before the Titan’s destruction, the rest of the remaining Garrison fleets seemed to adapt your new tactics.” Blake smiled. “I don’t know if you understand this, but you single-handedly turned the tide of the battle. And for years I’ve needed to know how you did it. Not from some damn report. I need to see it in your eyes. I need to know how you saved us all.” 

Mira was confused. “I’m sorry. Are we talking about the same war? We did a lot of damage before the NýX took us out. But I don’t think they did the type of damage you’re suggesting. The records say..”

“We doctored the records.” Blake said. “We couldn’t let the human race know how close we came to extinction. And we couldn’t put all of the heroics on your ship. The galaxy at large, Sol. Command as well as other empires had to see us as a military force to be reckoned with. There was a pretty good chance that the Mass Protectorate or The Faith would’ve invaded if they knew we were so weaken by the attack. We had to keep everyone at bay while we rebuilt.”

“I didn’t know.” Mira whisper. “I understand.”

“Good. Now, take me through what happened during the last hour of Titan’s tour.”