He stood on the bridge of his ship, The Retribution, the ship he didn’t want, with the command he didn’t want, but here he was. He looked around at the rest of the crew in the bridge. All of them, were tired, exhausted and bloody from their month long campaign to get where they were. He looked down at the bullet he kept in his pocket, that he was currently twirling in between his fingers, the one round he kept in case of emergencies. It was a useless notion, now he was a General in the UESC, he moved the bullet between his fingers and into his palm. It was a useless failsafe he thought to himself as he closed his fist around the bullet, he had an entire ship to scuttle if it came to that, but he wouldn’t let it.
He turned to Lt. Myers who was standing just a few feet away from him right near the comms station, “Give me a fleet-wide channel please Lieutenant” he said quietly.
“Yes sir!” Myers said as he turned to the console tapped a few buttons before turning back and giving the general a nod to say he was live.
“This is it, ladies and gentlemen, this is the end. We’ve got our back to the wall and we can’t go any farther. There are no reinforcements coming, we are the last line of defense to hold this sector and stop the Drift from sweeping across the galaxy…” he looked at all his officers, standing rigid and ready for anything despite their fatigue and he was extremely proud of them all. “… I know I’ve asked a lot of you in the last few months, more than I had any right to, but here I am, asking again… We cannot fail. The people of the Citadel and everyone in this galaxy are counting on us to stop this assault. We have small ships, we are out numbered 10 to 1 but we have a few things that they don’t have, we have hope, we have will and we have resolve. They are a faceless enemy, controlled by one singular entity that doesn’t even have the courage to face us head on. So they send their drones to do their work, and I’ll tell you what, they’re scared. Scared because of us, the one species in the entire Milky Way that they thought would give them no trouble. They wanted to get rid of us because of our water supply and we have turned that into our greatest strength. We stand on these ships as a testament to the resolve and determination of an entire species prepared to do everything that it can to stave off it’s own annihilation. We will not go quietly in the dark ,we will go fighting as we always have…” he continued looking around at the faces of each member of his crew present, their faces hardening to his words. He took a deep breath coming up with the words he knew they needed to hear, “… we’ve lost people, friends and family to this enemy… a lot of us lost our home. It was a hard pill to swallow but here we are, and we have come out stronger for it! I want to thank you all for the work you’ve done getting us here. Every person in this fleet has done the work of 3 and is still asking for more, and I couldn’t be more proud of you. I don’t deserve to be here, I was never an officer and I got put in this position because of my luck surviving and attack that cost us all a lot of friends. I’ve tried my best to do what I thought was right and I hope that you can all respect the choices I’ve made even if you don’t agree with them.” he looked over at Lt. Trasin who locked the general’s gaze and gave him a small nod.
“I wish I could tell you that everything is going to be fine, that we’re going to come out on top and that this will be a cake walk. But I can’t promise you that. I wish I could tell you that we’ll all get to go home and help to rebuild what was taken from us, but I can’t promise you that either. I can promise you that on the other side of this system and on their way here is an armada of Drift ships determined to wipe the Citadel and us from existence. I can promise you that they will give no quarter and they do not take prisoners… so neither will we. We cannot afford to let even one of their ships through. This is the line. No matter what happens we hold this line!” There was a rousing cry from throughout the ship as every single member joined in the cheer. Though the other ships were several hundred klicks away and he couldn’t hear them he liked to think they were all giving the same cheer.
“I want to give everyone the opportunity that was never afforded to the people we’ve lost. I will not sugarcoat this, there is a good chance that this is it for us. If any single one of you wants to leave now and go be with your family and loved ones, nobody will stop you and nobody will think any less of you…” He stood silent, waiting for the crew to leave. They didn’t. They all stood firm in their places, grim resolve etched on all of their faces as they looked to him, their leader. There were some beeps from the comms console and Myers turned to look at the screen, he tapped a couple of buttons and several clicks sounded over the PA system.
“This is the Solaris, sir, we’re with you”.
“This is the Annihilation, general, we’re ready and waiting”.
“This is the Conviction, ready when you are”.
“The Intrepid is ready to go, sir”.
“This is the Unity, we are standing by for your order, sir”.
“It has been an honour to serve beside each and every one of you.” he said as the green lights on his console across the small bridge lit up to show the rest of the fleet is at the ready.
“The honour is ours, sir!” came the resounding chorus from his crew and the PA system that was still active.
” Solaris, Annihilation, you watch the right flank; Intrepid and Unity you have the left flank, Conviction, we keep the fight in the center and try to bottle neck them for the Hydronukes. Deploy your fighter squadrons and initiate defence pattern Alpha 6. We’re going to red alert! Battlestations!”
“Hoo rah!” came the resounding cry.
“Through blood and sand!” he shouted as he thought the position they were in. They were all that was left. The Carian fleet was badly damaged from their last engagement and wouldn’t get here in time, the Drogol fleet was decimated at the battle of Syphus IV they weren’t going to be helping anyone anytime soon; this small group of UESC ships were effectively the only combat ready ships in the galaxy. Six understaffed and damaged ships against the Drift armada… They stood no chance he thought to himself.
“WE WILL PREVAIL!” came the response from the battle group, and he felt it deep in his bones. Everyone here knew that this was the end, the chances of them winning were one hundred thousand to one but they didn’t care. They had bloodlust in their eyes and determination in their hearts, they would go down, there was no question about it, but they would go down swinging. He moved over to the Captain’s station and took his position beside his console. “Through blood and sand” he whispered to himself as he pocketed the bullet and smacked the klaxon alarm bringing the ship to red alert. The holo display sprang to life showing their defensive line. He keyed several commands into the console bringing the rail guns, nukes, and experimental weapons to the ready. He took a deep breath staring out the front view screen and waited.