As the humans prepared to leave what was left of Earth, they stock-piled the DNA of their best researchers, scientists, strategists, technicians, and military commanders in case their escape failed. As years and solar systems passed and colonies began to take root on newly found planets, the cloning process was improved.
The first engineered clone came from the DNA of Commander Plath, a world-renowned battleship commander. With his same knowledge, the faction raids prospered against any aliens they encountered. Due to the success, the cloning process went from a simple experiment to mass production in a matter of a century, though where any assembly line is involved, production is not always perfect. This resulted in an influx of highly trained fleet commanders, scientists, and explorers each with different statistics and characteristics. Humans were able to stretch farther in the universe, discover new habitable planets, and return to the strength they once had on Earth. During the first reconnect between the Federation of Terra and the Alliance of Neos in 2910, they shared resources with each other, including the process to produce clones the necessary DNA involved. After the most recent census of both the Federation of Terra and the Alliance of Neos, the amount of population represented by clones is 38%.
The first time Clara sat in the Commander Simulation chair, she found her calling. Even as children, everyone wanted to command their own fleet, but Clara knew that she would be able to. She knew that she was meant to be one of the elite heroes the other clones whispered about in the academies. Spaceships spoke to her in a way that she could simply look at a console panel and know what to do and how to fly. Even in her incubation champers, Clara dreamed of viewing the vast of expanse of space from behind double-paned carbon glass, hearing the pings of the mainframe, and feeling the ship shift at her slightest touch. By the time she was eighteen she had mastered flying a destroyer, a cruiser, a battleship, and was learning how to control a mothership. She lived to be in the cockpit.
After graduating from Fleet Academy two years before her peers, Clara was instantly hired as a Cannon Expert and was often allowed to help with fleet strategy. She proved her shot efficiency during battles by accurately predicting over 98% of the enemies’ movements and actions before even the most seasoned Strategists and Navigators.
Despite being a clone of a famous Earth general, Clara quickly surpassed everyone else created from the same DNA. This led to rumors that she had possibly been fused with alien cells during the replication process, though these were never actually proved or refuted.
The first raid Clara participated in was one of the most successful since the fleet’s inception. She proved herself time and time again until she was promoted to Weapon’s Master, and then again to Combat Master, where she developed her random fire skill for all four weapon types, though Missiles remained her favorite. Just as she graduated at a young age, Clara is also the youngest S-Ranked Combat Master in AstroNest history. Her name is known throughout the galaxy as a prodigy and genius in both the Federation of Terra and the Alliance of Neos.
Dr. Abraham had been a part of the Cloning Sector for over nearly twenty years, but he had never experienced anything like the report that had just been slapped on his desk. He scanned the DNA codes of the two batches, his eyebrows furrowing the further down the list he read.
“You’re sure this is correct?” he asked his lab assistant without looking up.
The young man was timid when he answered. “I ran the test three other times, all with the same result.”
Dr. Abraham sighed. “So, what does this entail for the future of the subject?”
“My hypothesis is that both will be very strong in regards to piloting and combat,” the assistant answered, wringing his hands. “But one might be more inclined to… fight dirty.”
Dr. Abraham looked back down at the chart, memorizing the pieces of DNA that detailed the traits the future human would have. He tried to imagine the time when humans had no capabilities of knowing what a person would be like until they were born, but he didn’t have to. Since successful DNA mapping had been created over four hundred years ago, all he had to look at the chart in front of him and know.
And now he knew that the tiniest mutation in their Clara samples had created a whole other person. Someone new.
“What would you like me to do with this?” his assistant asked. With each second, he was inching towards the door.
“Can you replicate it?” Dr. Abraham asked.
“Replicate…?” the young man stuttered. “Yes…”
“Good. Call it…” he thought back to the name of his favorite Earth actress. One of the most beautiful women in the old world. “Call her Nargis.”
Firth opened up his current records. According to his file, his original DNA came from one of the last great men who fought with the Coalition to Conserve Earth, Colonel Mark Orwest. The man’s biography told the tale of him remaining behind while everyone else abandoned the dying planet for a hopeful life among the stars.
While his file displayed all the relevant information on his life, job, and even his physical appearance, it didn’t display the curiosity that filled him like an aching muscle. All the history books talked about a life before the infamous explosion, but he longed to see the solar system for himself.
He knew the coordinates to where Earth used to be, but his job required him to stay within the Sirius quadrant for the time being. Maybe someday he would reach across the distance. Maybe…
Beginning: Federation of Terra
Commander Boris pulled up the newest batch of propaganda posters that were being streamed to every Terra affiliated planet and vessel. His entire life, he had been taught that everything he fought for was for the betterment and prosperity of humankind, and now he was going into another battle against other humans so his people could survive. A minor sacrifice for the greater good.
It was the selfishness of Neos that brought them to this point, fighting for nearly seventeen years over the energy the Cosments produced, Boris understood why his subordinates called the enemy faction barbarians. After sharing their cloning process and knowledge of warp travel, the Neos colonies refused to share the near-infinite energies.
Boris even remembered the broadcast news exclaiming the reunion of Terra and Neos after over 150 years of separation. People claimed it a miracle that such a small fleet could have survived for so long. But soon, it was revealed how. It all led back to the Cosments: Neos’ power, colonization, this war, this battle.
Boris looked back down at the propaganda poster. He wondered how many would heed the call to action.
Beginning: Alliance of Neos
Arien passed through the halls of her ship, her thoughts on the past. She had been a part of the war against the Federation of Terra since the first shots were fired sixteen years ago, and ever since they won the last Season of Mists Faction battle, their journey through space had been calm.
She did her best to ignore the posters that hung on the wall. The new recruits had somehow found the famous picture of her after Neos’ first win so long ago and plastered them on every available wall space. While it was embarrassing for her, it had proved to significantly boost morale, so she did nothing to take them down. Thrown in among the posters was a single newspaper clipping claiming Indra2100 as the last battle’s greatest commander. Arien smiled with pride.
She remembered the news of how this all began, of how she came to be where she was now. The news of the Federation of Terra wanting the Cosments Neos had discovered and cultivated came with a demand that they share resources. After a handful of attempts to parley, Terra broke their verbal treaty and was the first to attack Neos, resulting in the loss of hundreds of lives. And as the years progressed on, Neos’ population increase had slowed.
The calm was broken by a brilliant flash of the red lights embedded into the ceiling every couple of yards. Arien stopped suddenly, waiting and hoping that the sirens didn’t follow, but her silent prayers went unanswered as the wailing began. The red lights combined with the sirens meant only one thing.
War was about to begin.
Another war has begun.
The galaxy is painted with explosions as battleships throw everything they have at each other. Kripton missiles weave between allies until they find the enemies. Impact cannons take out more than their fair share of targets. Motherships are damaged, and then ultimately, destroyed.
Any hope of peace has been annihilated.
As the news of war spreads, planets send their best reserves of pilots and fighters to their respective factions, praying that they will not be the next planet pillaged in the aftermath. Both the Federation of Terra and the Alliance of Neos pull out all the stops to ensure that they will come out of this victorious.
For those that are aboard the ships, fear, patriotism, courage, and strength are the only things that occupy their thoughts. Fear that this might be their last battle, patriotism for their own factions, courage in face of danger, and strength to fight for something they believe in.
Battles expand through every sector of the galaxy, branching out from the small planet known as X-687R. Any other surrounding neutral zones begin choosing sides, leading into the Quantum Allegiance.
Jimmy sat in front of the telepanel trying to pay attention to his cartoons, but his parent’s strained voices continued to drown out the high-pitched sounds of his favorite characters.
“They’re telling us to evacuate!” his mother hissed.
“I’m not going to abandon this ship just because those cursed pirates think they deserve the Cosments more than us.” His father’s voice was just below a yell.
Jimmy pulled his favorite stuffed animal tighter into his chest. He knew about the war. He knew it was a bad thing. But until now, it had never affected his family and their home aboard the STS Fortitude.
“You promised me that we were going to retire after the last war,” his mother continued. She was crying now.
“I should have never made that promise,” his father said, resigned. “But I want this galaxy to be safe for our little boy.”
There was silence from his parents for a while and all he could hear were the voices of the cartoons as they chased each other in circles. Then his mother’s soft hands were around him, pulling him from the telepanel, into the nearest escape pod, and away from the only home he’s ever known.
As the battles wage across the galaxy, it’s hard to see who has the upper hand. One day Neos proved their capabilities by destroying an entire Terran armada, and the next day Terra retaliated by taking out countless fleets with only a few casualties of their own.
This was proving to be one of the largest faction battles since the war broke out, but as victories are announced to fellow comrades, so are the losses.
When the dust settles, who will come out on top?
The faction war known as the Quantum of Allegiance comes to a screeching halt as both factions lose hope in a chance of winning. Instead of depleting every last resource and allies they have, they have come to a temporary cease fire.
In the aftermath of the tragic devastation, both the Alliance of Neos and the Federation of Terra have agreed to leave the Aurelian Belt so that it may return to the neutral zone it once was. While the current armistice remained shaky, it was enough for both sides to persevere.
Adam rushed down the street, ignoring the way his fingers shook as he clutched his new orders. A part of him didn’t want to keep going, and instead run to the very end of the galaxy. With her.
Zoe was standing in the middle of the cluttered living quarters staring down at the port screen in her hands. The moment their eyes met, he could tell she already knew from the determined look on her face.
“Where?” was all she asked.
“Spica, second sector.” He didn’t even need to look down at the paper to know. “You?”
She swallowed. “Same.”
In any other circumstance he would have been overjoyed to know they would remain in the same area. But she was Neos. He was a Fed.
That meant they were supposed to be enemies. And now that they had received their orders to join the Faction War, it meant that they might be pitted against each other. They might kill each other.
But in truth, it wasn’t supposed to matter. Despite having found each other because of the war, they were both still too patriotic to forget their roots and run off to a safe-haven together. Adam desperately wished he could properly vocalize his thoughts and fears and hear them directed back at him from her own lips, but in the time they had come to know each other, he knew it was hopeless. So he kept his words to himself.
“When are you required to leave?” she asked without meeting his eyes.
Her tone made him pull up his own defenses. He schooled his tone to match the indifference in hers and said, “Tomorrow evening.”
Zoe stood at the controls, her fingers hovering over the buttons and levers of her Destroyer. She had already destroyed a handful of Terran fleets since this Faction War had began, but she had hesitated with her commands with each battle. Because he could be on any of those ships. He could be the next life she ended for the search of Cosments. Their last night together had been strained, with empty small talk devoid of feelings. She hadn’t been sure what to expect when he showed up with his orders just moments after she received her own. She had longed for him to offer to run away together but was too terrified to suggest it herself. Thinking back on it now, she still felt like a coward for not telling him how she truly felt about him. Adam had been everything she ever wanted in life, but duty still called her to the Alliance of Neos. With a sigh, she pushed the image of his face from her mind and set her fingers down on the keyboard. Commands came to her and she followed, maneuvering the destroyer through enemy ships, sending off missiles and beams that left explosions in her wake. Another victory flashed across Zoe’s screen and she sat back in her seat, fighting the empty feeling that filled her chest.
Zoe stood on the plateau, looking out over the group of facilities as they worked to colonize the planet. It was this very spot that she had met Adam, and though they hadn’t mentioned it before leaving on their respective ships, she had hoped that they would meet here again once it was all over. The most recent Faction War had only just ended, but Zoe returned to XR-6820 as fast as she could. There was a slight hint of disappointment within her when she didn’t immediately see Adam waiting for her, but there was no telling where his fleet had gone once the war began. It could just be taking him a bit longer to reach the planet from wherever he had ended up. She refused to think of the other possibility. Instead, she focused on what she would finally say to him when she saw him again. She would tell him that she loved him and suggest they take a ship and travel the galaxy together. Who knows, maybe they would eventually have children someday. Then they could teach them their story. Until then, Zoe would wait.