Celestial Arbiter by N. R. Adrastea

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SUMMARY: A brief but intense look at the fighter pilot Nathaniel as he prepares to face the enemy head on from the seat of his small craft.

Celestial Arbiter
By: N. R. Adrastea

"The blockade is broken!"

Nathaniel could hear the sirens scream the same phrase over and over, by now he had learned to tune them out. Suddenly a new phrase began to pour from the silver speakers, "Generals Quarters: All hands man your battle stations. This is not a drill, repeat, this is not a drill!" This is what Nathaniel had been waiting for, he burst out of his quarters, flight suit already on and helmet in hand. Sprinting down the hall, Nathaniel could already feel the thrill of the pilot seat, the vibration of a joystick in his hand, the adrenaline of space combat. He passed several of his friends on the way, and simply nodded, that's all he needed, and they knew what it meant.

Finally, the cold smell of jet fuel, the shimmer of overhead fluorescent lighting, the sound and bustle of repairing ships, and scrambling pilots, the hangar. Nathaniel rushed to his fighter 'Celestial Arbiter' painted neon blue against the black metal of the fighter's tail. He climbed in, suddenly feeling at home in the soft g-proof suit and canopy, Nathaniel could see all the buttons, knobs, and gizmos that had fascinated him as a kid.

Suddenly Nathaniel snapped to when his co-pilot, O'Shava, hauled his alien form into the seat behind Nathaniel.

"Nice day to get into the fray." O'Shava spoke softly, rhyming the words like he does when he gets nervous.

"Can it string bean," snapped Nathaniel, shocked at his own harshness "we have work to do." Nathaniel strapped on his helmet, closed the airtight canopy, and awaited the signal to launch. It seemed like an eternity to Nathaniel, staring at the red light. Finally he glimpsed the green flash and sprang to action; the ship was powering its disruptor turbines before most other pilots even noticed the light. The 'Celestial Arbiter' was streaking out of the hangar within thirty seconds and joined the unprecedented carnage outside the hangar.

Nathaniel looked around in awe through the tinted blast shield, his mouth open almost to the point of falling off. The blocked had truly been breached, Imperial vessels lumbered around in swarms being torn apart en masse by the enemy. The United Colonies had really outdone themselves this time, cruisers, frigates, and destroyers seemed to glide effortlessly on the black rifts of space. Small white fighters flew in perfect attack formation. The cocky enthusiasm Nathaniel had previously felt quickly died and in its place stood a wall of fear and hesitation.

The terrifying stillness was broken as the earpiece in Nathaniel's visor began the buzz.

"This is FLEETCOM-HQ to all units report in, over."
"Strike team Three-Delta-Five-Zero forming below main hanger, over" Nathaniel squeaked into his mike, still staring at the scene in front of him.
"Copy that Three-Delta-Five-Zero; stick it to these junk eating space bugs!"
Nathaniel could see his team forming behind him and switched to his squad channel. "Here it is boys, headfirst!" With that Nathaniel jammed the throttle as far forward as he could possibly move it and the small fighter shot forward into the darkness.