The Schoolgirl Martyr is a story which takes place in the Unison universe.
"Have you ever wondered what happened to your mother, Gerald?" asked the wheelchair-bound man.
"I haven't," replied the adolescent before him.
"Your mother died three months after you were born. She was one of the greatest women I've ever known," said the elder. "I fought with her in many battles against the Rebellion."
The woman that former Lieutenant-Commander Harold Nielsen was referring to was his comrade-in-arms and Gerald's mother Captain Samantha Orelis.
"I remember everything of our last moments together, before she died... Allow me to explain my career with her..."
19 years earlier...
A young 13-year-old girl woke up one morning, as she always did, and groggily made her way downstairs for breakfast. As she changed into her school uniform, she heard her mother turn on the HoloVision machine and tuned in to the news.
"The Rebellion have made bombing raids on Paris, London, New York and Sydney yesterday night. In these night raids, the Rebels have killed over a thousand people, and the United Nations Parliamentary Assembly has officially declared war on the Rebellion. Is this the end of peace in the world?"
The word "war" made the teenager gasp. She sprinted downstairs and declared to her family: "I want to join the navy!"
Her father's mouth dropped and her mother dropped the tray of cups.
"You're too young, Samantha!" said the girl's mother.
"I will fight for the peace of the world," replied Samantha. And that was that.
A month later, Samantha had successfully joined the navy by lying about her age, saying that she was 19 - she did look the age, fortunately for her. Once her training was complete two years after, she was assigned to the cruiser USS Meiji, which was under the command of Commodore Liam von Schrift. She was given the task of helmsman.
"Right, we have no time for shakedown cruises here," called von Schrift. "Raise the anchor! Hard to port! Full steam ahead!"
Ensign Samantha Orelis enthusiastically tapped on the buttons which activated the pulleys that raised the anchor. The Meiji turned 90 degrees to port before speeding out of the harbour.
The Meiji was a gargantuan battleship-aircraft carrier hybrid. Equipped with twenty cannons, fifty-five small deck-mounted machine guns and six torpedoes tubes, it had five propellers pushing it forward at an astonishing maximum speed of 35 knots. Even more impressive for a ship that could carry up to 7,000 tonnes of aircraft. It was the largest warship ever built by the United Nations.
On approach to Pearl Harbour in Hawaii, the Meiji was hit by several shells launched by long-range guns from enemy ships. They exploded, ripping shrapnel through the hull. Luckily, the bulkheads contained the blast, and the Meiji was far from sinking.
"Red alert!" shouted the Commodore. "Red alert! 35 degrees to port! Full speed ahead! Prime cannons! Prepare to lock on targets!"
This is where the fun begins, thought Samantha as the sirens began blaring. The pilots scrambled to their planes. Samantha could see what looked like large insects sprinting over to small toy planes, ready for takeoff. Machine-gunners ran to their respective weapons. The various cannons on the ship began swiveling around, trying to find their target.
Several kilometres off the coast of Hawaii
"We're within weapons range, sir!" shouted Ensign Mellador, the radar officer.
"Open fire! All cannons accompanied by a spread of torpedoes!" commanded von Schrift.
The ship vibrated as the twenty cannons fired shells at the enemy ship while torpedo tubes unleashed their underwater missiles simultaneously. Several seconds later the opposing warship exploded and began sinking. Despite the ship being surrounded by water, it was engulfed by an inferno.
"Very well done, people! We've sunk our first ship, only with minor damage to the hull!" said von Schrift in a congratulating tone. "Now, onward to Pearl Harbour. We've wasted enough time here."
It was nightfall by the time the Meiji arrived in Pearl Harbour. Honolulu was expected to be next in the attacks by the Rebellion. A few other UN ships had arrived as well in anticipation of the assault. Almost as soon as the Meiji dropped anchor, sirens began blaring.
"Commodore, sir! Six rebel aircraft have been spotted en route to Honolulu! They will arrive in about two hours sir!" cried Mellador.
"Track their course. Inform the rest of the fleet that I, as the highest-ranking officer, am hereby taking command of it. Tell them to prime their cannons and prepare the aircraft for takeoff! Once repairs are complete or the enemy planes are twenty minutes away from reaching Honolulu, we are to weigh anchor and intercept the planes, whichever comes first."
"Aye, sir," said Samantha and Lieutenant Freiburg, the communications officer, simultaneously.
"Ensign Orelis, you have the bridge," said von Schrift. He stood up and left the bridge.
Samantha, surprised, slowly left the helm. Another officer promptly entered the bridge to take her place. Von Schrift must have told him, she thought.
Samantha approached the Captain's Chair slowly and cautiously, without knowing why. She then, as if it were a video playing in slow motion, sat down on the chair. It felt marvellously comfortable. She never dreamed of getting to sit there this early in her career. She vowed that she would always respect the Chair.
more to come...