Captain Dekker held the controls of his fighter tightly, as the huge transport passed a few feet above the hull. The Triton was loaded with standard cargo: food supplies and spare parts, heading for the Arcadia class installation a few clicks ahead. He was getting tired of the same routine over and over, almost cursing the day the jump nodes to Capella were collapsed. Those were the days... he thought to himself, remembering the time when destroying Shivans was his job.

He never had a family to worry about, so the war was good for him. He felt like he was important, somehow. Back then, my job served a purpose. I served a purpose. Escorting transports from the jump node to Anchorage was more than he could handle. It was overwhelmingly boring.

"Delta One, we're in range for docking procedure", the greenish display lighting up on his HUD, the face of the pilot he so many times had escorted this same way appearing. "Allright, i'm breaking formation, good to go" he said. God, it's always the same thing. Why the hell am I here?, Dekker thought. Indeed, the routine was always the same. The recharge time for the transport's jump drives was just too long, and it was faster if the transport just flied through normal space from the node to the Arcadia.

Dekker watched as the dented hull of the Mammoth IV moved away, plates over plates of metal composing a silver and blue mosaic that was all too familiar. He always kept his sight locked at the same window, hoping to see someone pass by it someday, but it never happened. I've been escorting this same vessel for years, and I've never seen anyone from the crew, except for the pilot. "Initiating docking procedure", the same face with the same voice as always whispered at the comms, as if it wasn't that important after all.

He backed off from the transport a little further, as the gigantic piece of metal turned starboard, starting to get aligned to the Anchorage's cargo dock 2. At this time he wold usually start his own docking procedure, but he was even more bored than the usual. "Anchorage control, i'm going for a little ride...", he said while banking the Herc MkII hard to the right, facing away from everything - the installation, the transport, the node and the planet. He could see only the soft outlines of a distant nebula, wich blackened the star filled skies in a strange way.

Full power to engines, afterburning as much as the assault fighter sustained, he headed for the unreachable cloud of particles on his reticle. By this time, people at Vega might be able to see the light from Capella's supernova, a thought of unexpected grief ran through his mind. He wasn't there when it happened, and he's glad about it.

His fighter's sensors were adjusted to full range, but Anchorage vanished from it anyway. He had travelled a lot into deep space. Boy, I lost completely the sense of time - I've been flying towards nowhere for over two hours, Dekker suddenly realized. He was starting to turn his fighter back when the purple dot flashed on his sensors display. "What the hell is that? Anchorage, I got and unidentified contact on sensors, please confirm the data on this ship". No response. He was too far for the onboard comm system reach the installation. He switched power to communications, but still didn't get a response. Oh, what the hell. I'm checking this out, Dekker thought as he corrected the course to face the unknown ship.

After a few minutes, the black and red hulk was within visual range. Oh my god! That's a Moloch corvette! He checked the sensors again, but it remained with unknown status, and no other contacts were present. "Well, let's go for it!" Frederick said while hitting the afterburners, and diverting power from comms to shields. Strange, it's not firing... He got closer to the Shivan ship, passing just a few meters away from the spikes at the corvette's front side, but it just didn't react. Targetting a beam turret, he realized that his data on the Moloch class didn't match that vessel. Where's this damn beam turret?

In fact, he couldn't find any weapon turret at all on the surface of the ship. Even unarmed, this is a freaking huge threat! How the hell this ship got here? his brain proccessed the information while making a last pass before getting back to comms range with the installation. "Anchorage, this is captain Frederick Dekker, requesting immediate reply. Shivan vessels encountered, please respond!". Silence. He turned towards Anchorage, light from Betelgeuse flooding his eyes. Suddenly, the light got stronger, and the whiteness surrounded his cockpit completely - a few moments later, the space where the Hercules and the Moloch were was empty once again.


"Hawkeye, proceed to the specified coordinates at once, that pilot has been missing for almost six hours!", the communications officer for GTI Anchorage shouted, the AWACS pilot rushing for the navpoint as the crew searched for the smallest hint of Dekker's ship on the vastness of space. Dammit Fred, what the hell are you doing out there - he thought as the mighty Arcadia class installation got smaller and smaller...

Copyright @2000 by the Machina Terra Project, except where Volition, Interplay or THQ may apply.