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The stars were flickering a lot more than Duke was used to. Luna was sleeping off in the distance, and the starship he had seen earlier was no longer there.
"They're probably following us," Duke thought aloud. Spade shook his head and floated up next to him.
"I doubt it. That's not the way they operate."
Duke looked over at him. "You mean you know who they were?"
"Yeah, it was CAIN. Those things were robots."
"They looked an awful lot like humans."
"Of course they did. And so did the way they operated. Think about it, we are the ones who created them. And did you see the triangle with the three circles on their chests?"
"Terran Dominion, for sure. Remember when it used to be just a triangle with the circle in the middle? Back when it was just supposed to be a super-strong military to protect the world from another attack? Well its three circles now; Earth, Luna, and Mars."
"I thought for sure the T.D. was wiped out for good. Hell, when I left was right when all the militaries from around the world gathered together to fight... and got their asses handed to them. T.D. was just a temporary thing."
Spade shook his head.
"Well maybe they started that way, but now they're huge. So big, in fact, that even the colonies on Mars are feeling T.D.'s imperial fist clenching down on the galaxy."
Duke sighed at the thought of it, watching the stars.
"So why would they be so concerned with a random high-orbit ship? And why the hell would they want to kill everyone on it?"
"Man, ever since they created their capitol ship, the TDS Betterstar, they have done nothing but harass the Republic and anyone else they can find."
Spade stopped for a moment, briefly glanced at the stars - was he looking for something? - and then looked back at Duke.
"So were you still in during the initial invasion?" he asked.
"What, the Marine Corps?"
"Yeah. I remember you telling me that there were all these classified shipments you had to send to Mars right before I heard that Earth got hit hard."
"Yeah, I was running around in the Flying Dutchman. Even when the war broke out, though, it never affected me at all until this one shipment to Olympus Mons I had to do. On my way back to Florida I started getting shot at."
"And that's when you crashed, huh?"
"Pretty much." Duke sighed again, and looked like he was holding back a frown.
The pod was heading directly for Luna, and anyone not accustomed to pod travel can tell you that it's a scary feeling seeing yourself go 1,000 meters per second towards something that big. It almost looked like he was jumping off of a building onto a piece of cement, but Duke knew there was nothing to worry about. Reassurance came when the little speakers on the back of the airlock door cracked and chirped.
"Vessel in proximity, this is the Armstrong Lunar Station. We register you in emergency status. The Republic will be happy to help you. Do you need assistance?"
The two looked at each other for a moment, then Spade kicked off the fabric towards the airlock hatch and pressed the MIC button.
"Armstrong Lunar Station, yes, and thank you for your hospitality."
"Not a problem.