Good morning! This is Ella Font. Here at Interplanetary Coalition News (ICN), we're continuing our series of interviews with some of the Coalition's most fascinating people. With me to today is Aolanian astrogator Hadesha Calonti Sora. Sora is –
Sora: No, no. I am only Calonti Sora. Hadesha Calonti Sora is my great-grandfather.
ICN: But your scales are yellow. Doesn't that indicate Hadesha Household?
Sora: Normally, you are correct. I am not normal.
ICN: [Leans forward] Why is that?
Sora: [waves both hands] I do not wish to explain my name. Surely you ask me to come for something more interesting than my name.
ICN: Well, yes, but –
Sora: Then I suggest you get to your real questions soonly.
ICN: Well, okay. Sora you were the only Aolanian survivor of the First Contact mission between our peoples. Do you remember the event?
Sora: Yes, yes. I am only a boy of fifty years when that happens, and my memory does not molt since then.
ICN: Can you tell us about it?
Sora: Yes, yes, but this story is in your history books, is it not? I am with my parents in an advance scout. The main caravan is very many lightyears behind us. Normally, a child my age stays with relatives in the caravan, but I develop my mental abilities just then and I must remain with my parents. We come upon Earth from an unfortunate angle, and the League of Socialist Republics comes out to meet us. They speak a strange language, and when my father cannot answer their inquiries, they attack. Coalition military answers our distress call, but they do not arrive until we crash on Earth. In the end, the Coalition drives off the League attackers.
ICN: What did you think when the Coalition soldiers entered the scout?
Sora: I think, "My eyelids have no holes." [chuckles] Actually, I do not think much. I am unconscious. My mother does a very excellent job of trying to land what is left of our scout while my father secures me in a seat, but the crash is not very gentle.
ICN: I see, so what was your first encounter with humans?
Sora: I wake up in a hospital, only I do not know that it is a hospital. My arm is in a cast. There are wires and tubes, beeping machines, and nearby, a human woman sits and watches me.
ICN: What did you do?
Sora: I do what any normal child does in this situation. I scream and cry. Loudly. If sound travels through space, I think the caravan hears me. The woman is kind, and she takes me to another room nearby to see my mother, who is very much hurt. I am with her for her last few days and start to learn English to speak with the humans.
ICN: So you've been speaking English ever since?
Sora: [chuckles] No, no. I know a few dozen words then, enough to ask for basic things like food and drink. I ask for waffles very much.
Sora: [pats his big belly] The nurse who takes care of me until the caravan catches up introduces me to waffles one morning for breakfast. I very much like waffles even now. I think "waffle" is the first English word I learn.
ICN: So when did you learn the rest of the English language?
Sora: I do not learn English properly until I trade language lessons with my very good friend Abbot Kirsten Major. She knows a little Aolanian. I know a little English. Together we teach each other the rest.
ICN: That seems to have paid off. Except for verb tenses, your English is pretty good. Is that why you work primarily on human ships?
Sora: Not exactly.
ICN: Could you elaborate on that?
Sora: I have many children. Some of them also like waffles.
ICN: I … see. Well, thank you for coming in to talk to us today.
Sora: Yes, yes. Perhaps I see you around. I think we both look funny with corners.
ICN: Um, right. Well, this is Ella Font with Interplanetary Coalition News.
Good morning! This is Ella Font. Here at Interplanetary Coalition News (ICN), we're continuing our series of interviews with some of the Coalition's most fascinating people. With me to today by intrastellar telecast is Major Kirsten "Talon" Abbott of the Third Coalition Fleet. Good morning, Major.
Kirsten: Good morning.
ICN: You fly Pulsar light fighters. Is that correct?
Kirsten: Yes. I'm part of the Nova squadron.
ICN: I understand that you're the inventor of what's coming to be called the Nova Maneuver.
Kirsten: Not exactly. My whole squadron had a hand in figuring it out and trying to test it in the sims. I'm just the first one to successfully pull it off in combat.
ICN: What exactly is the Nova Maneuver?
Kirsten: It's a new way to deal with larger, heavier craft coming up on your tail.
ICN: You come to a stop, turn around, and shoot, right?
Kirsten: No. If you do it that way, you'd get squashed by whatever's chasing you. To execute the maneuver, kill forward thrust, spin on your vertical axis and shoot whatever you've got at whatever's following you.
ICN: What's the difference?
Kirsten: Killing forward thrust doesn't stop you in your tracks. Physics keeps you moving forward. Then you yaw, or spin on your vertical axis, so now you're flying backwards and facing your target.
ICN: That sounds pretty straightforward, actually.
Kirsten: It's not. You have to nail that 180 degree yaw exactly right or you're going to be in a very vulnerable position with few acceptable options.
ICN: Then why risk it at all?
Kirsten: Pulsars don't have any rear-facing offensive weapons. They rely on speed and agility.
ICN: So would you recommend the maneuver to other Pulsar pilots?
Kirsten: Only after they've practiced it 153 million times in a sim. This is not something to do for the first time in the field. About half my squadron got disoriented every time they tried it in the sim, and a couple guys lost their lunch.
Kirsten: Yeah. Best to find that out when you're on the dirt and can abort the exercise with a button-tap. Only about half of us could handle the rotation and only two of us can get the 1-80 right so far.
ICN: Have you always flown Pulsars?
Kirsten: No. I started out as a tail gunner in a Broadsword. Then the call went out for pilots of a certain height and weight requirement to fly the new Pulsar. I fit the description, so I applied for the transfer.
ICN: Do you prefer the Pulsar or the Broadsword?
Kirsten: [smiles] That's like asking if I prefer screwdrivers or hammers. It depends on what you need. There are things I could do as part of a Broadsword crew that I could never manage even with a whole squadron of Pulsars, and there are things a Broadsword just isn't suited for. The Pulsar can't be beat for speed, agility, and pinpoint accuracy, but if you need heavier firepower, the Broadsword is for you. The right tool for the right job.
ICN: Would you consider going back to a Broadsword crew?
Kirsten: I'm willing to go where I'm needed and do what I can.
ICN: How did you get the callsign "Talon?"
Kirsten: It was given to me by my first commanding officer.
ICN: Is there a story behind it?
Kirsten: Yes, but it's not that exciting. When I handed something to her, I accidentally scratched her pretty badly with my fingernails.
ICN: Oh. Have you always wanted to be a pilot?
Kirsten: Actually, no. When I started out, I wanted to go into special forces. I didn't quite make the cut.
ICN: Why's that?
Kirsten: Those tests are exceptionally difficult. I took an injury during one of the exercises. By the time I recovered, I decided to pursue other avenues.
ICN: Do you have any regrets about not making it into special forces?
Kirsten: I was disappointed, of course, but God had plans for me that I didn't know about. He knows what He's doing.
ICN: So your faith's pretty important to you.
Kirsten: Absolutely. When the only thing between you and an instant encounter with your Maker is a laser, missile, or packed uranium rounds, you keep those lines of communication open.
ICN: I see. Well, we spoke last week with Calonti Sora. He says you two exchanged language lessons.
Kirsten: Yes, I was assigned to the Second Fleet and he was signed on as astrogation adviser. The interpreter took ill with Venusian flu. He was down for quite a while, of course. I was one of the only other people in that shift who spoke any Aolanian, so Sora and I gave each other a crash course acquiring the other's language.
ICN: Are you fluent?
Kirsten: Well, no. I can communicate adequately for most purposes, but I'm short on technical terminology, and naturally, I can't conjugate verbs out of present tense.
ICN: Why's that?
Kirsten: I'm not telepathic. Aolanians use telepathy to communicate the tense of the verb.
ICN: I see. That would explain why they have a hard time understanding us sometimes. So, how --
Kirsten: [looks away for a moment] Gotta go! [Runs out]
ICN: Um...Well, this is Ella Font with Interplanetary Coalition News. Thanks for watching.
Good morning! This is Ella Font. Here at Interplanetary Coalition News (ICN), we're taking a slight departure from our interviews with interesting folks in the Coalition to talk to the rescuers of Ambassador Charles Greyville. With me today is Gyrfalcon's captain, Derek Eaton. Good morning, Derek.
ICN: So, were you recruited to go after Ambassador Greyville after his abduction?
Derek: No. We were hired to escort the ambassador to a conference on Mars and bring him home afterwards.
ICN: Then how did he get abducted?
Derek: One of his own bodyguards was on the pirate captain's payroll.
ICN: How'd you discover that?
Derek: As we were on final approach to the ambassador's estate, Pete, my gunner, reported gunfire. I brought us in faster and saw one of the ambassador's bodyguards taking shots at the others while the pirates herded the ambassador onto their ship. We provided some cover fire to protect the ambassador's wife and managed to prevent her abduction, but the pirate ship took off. We started pursuit, but they warned us to back off or they'd dump the ambassador out the airlock.
ICN: What did you do then?
Derek: Got some quick camera footage of the pirate ship so we could identify them later and went back to the ambassador's estate to see what could be done. Vince, my ship's physician, had triaged the injured and put us all to work by the time emergency medical arrived.
ICN: News reports stated there were six dead and eight injured, including Mrs. Greyville.
Derek: Yeah, that sounds right.
ICN: When did you decide to attempt a rescue operation?
Derek: The police set up in the ambassador's house to wait for ransom demands from the pirates. There weren't any. A police informant got wind of a plan to sell Ambassador Greyville to the League. Mrs. Greyville pulled us aside and asked if we could do anything about it. Pete was pretty sure that if we could figure out where the pirates were holding the ambassador, we could get him out of there.
ICN: How did you find where they were holding Ambassador Greyville?
Derek: The Greyvilles' daughter is a computer whiz. She used our camera footage to get a reading on the ship markings and figured it out from there. Then we got ready to go.
ICN: The police didn't object?
Derek: Oh, they did. With volume and intensity, but with the ambassador's recent work on Coalition perimeter defenses, it became an issue of interplanetary security. If the League got a hold of him for any length of time, it'd've been bad news.
ICN: Had you ever been involved in that sort of rescue before?
Derek: A few times. Once we were a decoy. Another time, we provided cover fire. The other time, we were the actual rescue group.
ICN: How many additional crew members did you take on for this mission?
Derek: Some of the ambassador's bodyguards came along to help even bad odds.
ICN: You weren't concerned about more traitors in the ambassador's household?
Derek: [winces] That crossed my mind, of course, but these were all men and women who had been injured trying to defend the ambassador's family in the attack. We'd gotten to know them over the couple days we'd been there, and when I polled my crew, we all agreed that they were good folks.
ICN: You were obviously successful retrieving the ambassador. Did anything interesting happen during the rescue?
Derek: Well, I tripped over the uneven floor in the pirates' base and landed on my nose about the time a sniper took a shot at me. The shot went over me instead of through, definitely preferable.
ICN: Wow. You were lucky. Did you have to fight your way in and back out again?
Derek: No. We zoomed in under radar, landed a couple klicks away, sneaked in, found the ambassador and a couple other folks being treated to the pirates' hospitality, fought our way out and took off.
ICN: Did the pirates pursue you?
Derek: Oh yeah. We had a running firefight the whole way. It got real hairy there, for a while.
ICN: What happened?
Derek: We took some damage to a critical system. Janice, my engineer, had to scramble to get it repaired. I thought we were cooked for sure, but she got it just in time and we ran for it. Unfortunately, every time we got some distance on the pirates, they hyperjumped ahead of us. After a couple times, I waited until they'd jumped then I jumped Gyrfalcon in a different direction. I went further than I probably should have without better calculations, but we made it, and I immediately jumped us again in a different direction. We'd just appeared when an inbound portal shaped like their ship formed, but Pete was ready for them. Shot a couple missiles to disable a specific shield arc then followed that up with some pinpoint shooting and disabled their craft. I hyperjumped us out again, and we lost them.
ICN: Smooth sailing from there, then?
Derek: Only until we reached the atmosphere. Something in the damaged area didn't appreciate contact with oxygen, and [shudder] it was a rough landing.
ICN: How rough?
Derek: A control surface was banged up pretty bad, so I had a hard time controlling our descent angle. We came in so hard one of the landing struts collapsed, but we made it.
ICN: Was the pay for the job worth the risk?
Derek: Pay for the job? [scowls] We're not a mercenary outfit. A heartfelt "Good job, thanks," would've covered it fine.
ICN: So you weren't paid?
Derek: [rolls eyes] Yes, we were. The ambassador paid us for the escort run we ended up not doing and helped us cover the repairs.
ICN: Do you have any future plans?
Derek: Gyrfalcon's just now out of the repair shop, and I've received an invitation to a briefing for a military contract. Scuttlebutt says it's search and rescue, but we'll see.
ICN: Thank you for joining us today. This is Ella Font with Interplanetary Coalition News.
Good morning! This is Ella Font. Here at Interplanetary Coalition News (ICN), we're continuing our series of interviews with the rescuers of Ambassador Charles Greyville. With me to today is Janice Nili, the chief engineer of the Class Five scout Gyrfalcon. Thanks for coming in, Janice.
Janice: Mornin', Glory.
Janice: Hi. How in the world are you?
ICN: Great, thanks. So, how long have you been with Gyrfalcon?
Janice: Pfft! I was there when Derek bought the silly thing. He had me along to make sure he wasn't buying an enormous lemon. Neither of us have a pitcher big enough to make that much lemonade.
ICN: So how long have you known Derek?
Janice: Oh, ever since I saved his butt in a back alley.
ICN: Really? Do tell.
Janice: A guy asked me out. At the restaurant, he had a couple too many adult beverages. By the time dinner arrived, he had more in common with an octopus than a date. I paid my half of the bill and walked out, only he decided to follow at a run. I took a wrong turn and found myself boxed in. Derek came along and tried to do the gentlemanly thing and keep Mr. Octopus off me, only Mr. Octopus had a fist like a sledgehammer. He knocked Derek out cold and kept swinging.
Janice: Screamed like a girl.
Janice: No, really. [shrugs] I had to get his attention somehow. When he turned around, I did a vulture impersonation.
ICN: Vulture impersonation?
Janice: You know how vultures defend themselves, right? They upchuck whatever they last ate. Vultures eat decaying animals. If you thought it smelled bad going down...
ICN: [wrinkles nose] Eww... So … you …
Janice: … Grabbed the first smelly thing I could put my hands on and threw it on him. Turns out we were behind a seafood restaurant, and there was a bucket of shellfish parts. It was pretty stinky.
ICN: And that scared off Mr. Octopus?
Janice: Not exactly. He started choking and gagging. Seems he was allergic to shellfish. Who knew? Someone who heard me scream called the police and they showed up pretty soon after that. I went with Derek to the hospital to thank him for his help, once he woke up that is. We've been pals ever since.
ICN: So, are you two in a relationship?
Janice: Nah. He's a nice guy, but it's always a little weird to date your boss, y'know.
ICN: How did the rest of the crew sign on?
Janice: Vince answered a help wanted ad. Only two people answered. One was in a permanent bad mood. The other was Vince. Nice guy. Moves real good for a guy his age.
ICN: And Peter Quinian?
Janice: He also answered a help wanted ad along with about two hundred other people.
ICN: So, what made Peter stand out?
Janice: He actually got my jokes.
ICN: Derek hired Peter because he got your jokes?
Janice: No. That's why I recommended hiring Peter. Derek hired him because Admiral Hirschfeld's recommendation letter was stellar.
ICN: So a sense of humor's important to you?
Janice: Have you ever told a joke and got a blank stare?
Janice: Then you know what it's like. Speaking of jokes, have you heard the one about the two cakes in the oven? One turned –
ICN: I'm sorry, but that's all we have time for today. This is Ella Font with Interplanetary Coalition News. Thanks for watching.
Good morning! This is Ella Font. Here at Interplanetary Coalition News (ICN), we're continuing our series of interviews with the rescuers of Ambassador Charles Greyville. With me to today Peter Quinian, formerly of the Coalition Third Fleet. Good morning, Peter.
ICN: What was your job when you were with the Third Fleet?
Peter: I was a lead gunner on a gunship called Paladin for most of my career.
ICN: That sounds exciting. Did you see a lot of action?
Peter: Once the war heated up with the League, oh yeah. We were always eyeball deep.
ICN: What was your most bizarre encounter?
Peter: That I can talk about? That would have to be the Third Battle of Enceladus.
ICN: The Third Battle of Enceladus? That was the most bizarre? Wasn't that the one that was over in fifteen minutes?
Peter: Thirteen minutes and fifty-two seconds, by the official count. You asked for a weird one, not an endurance test. If you want to know about the biggest endurance test, that would have to be the Triton Conflict, but most of that one's classified, so there's not much I can say about it.
ICN: Oh, well, what made the Third Battle of Enceladus so odd? Was it just the short duration?
Peter: Nah. There are other skirmishes just as short or shorter. This one was just crazy with all the detailed planning.
ICN: It all started with a missionary group who went to visit a colony on Enceladus, didn't it?
Peter: Right. The colony liked them well enough, but the League picked that time to lay siege and threatened to blow the colony to subatomic particles if we tried anything. So, we had to very carefully calculate hyperspace arrival points so we'd have a ship in position to disable every offensive craft in range. Everything had to be timed to the second, or it'd've been all over but the bleedin' and the dyin' both for us and the colony.
ICN: How could you jump in ships the size of a gunship with that kind of precision when you were that close to a planet-sized gravity well? Saturn's not exactly puny.
Peter: Admiral Hirschfeld recruited some Aolanians to handle the calculations and had each calculation checked by three different astrogators.
ICN: Any unfortunate mistakes?
Peter: From the hyperspace jumps? Nah. Everyone popped out exactly when and where they were supposed to. A couple ship captains entered their vector from the wrong direction and showed up facing the wrong way, but the gunners adjusted, and all ship-to-ground weapons were disabled within the first minute. We still had a fight on our hands, but the surprise attack got the job done.
ICN: You were discharged for a family emergency a few years ago. What have you done since then?
Peter: I spent those last few months with Carol, and then I spent about a year doing whatever random, odd jobs I could find. Once I got my head back on straight, I went job hunting for something more substantial and ended up with Gyrfalcon.
ICN: Where you serve as a gunner, right?
Peter: Mostly. On a Class Five scout, you don't have just one job. I'm the gunner. I also take care of tactical and security kinds of issues. I've even started learning my way around engineering.
ICN: Have you considered going back into the military again?
Peter: Oh, I thought about that for a while, but really, I like what I'm doing now. I get a lot more variety in what I do. Derek, Janice, and Vince are good folks.
ICN: Don't you miss the adventure?
Peter: [leaning forward] You think rescuing the ambassador from a band of pirates was a day at the county fair?
ICN: Oh. I just thought that – Never mind. Thank you for joining us today.
Peter: No prob.
ICN: This is Ella Font with Interplanetary Coalition News. Thanks for watching.
Good morning! This is Ella Font. Here at Interplanetary Coalition News (ICN), we're continuing our series of interviews with the rescuers of Ambassador Charles Greyville. With me to today is Dr. Vincent Cerise, formerly of the Coalition Medical Corps. Good morning, Vincent.
Vincent: Good morning, Ms. Font. Thank you for having me here today.
ICN: So, how long have you been out of the Medical Corps?
Vincent: It's been every bit of twenty-five years.
ICN: Oh, so that was before the war with the League of Socialist Republics got started.
Vincent: [chuckles] Well, yes, but don't get the impression that we simply sat around counting our hair. We did see considerable action.
ICN: Against what?
Vincent: Well, that was a bit before your time, wasn't it? Pirates, smugglers, narcotics dealers.
ICN: [snickers] Pirates, smugglers, and drug dealers?
Vincent: That might not sound like much compared to the current war with the League, but they were rather persistent and frighteningly well-armed. Remember also that because we weren't at war, the military was not as large, and technology wasn't what it is today.
ICN: What did you do after your military service?
Vincent: I opened my own private practice for a while, but I rather missed the excitement and adventure of being out among the stars. About ten years ago, I retired from private practice and hired on with a scoutship.
Vincent: [smiles] Oh, no, no, no. Gyrfalcon has only been in active service for three years. Before signing on with Gyrfalcon, I was the medical officer on a Class Four scout called Puma's Pride.
ICN: Did you find the action and adventure that you wanted?
Vincent: Yes, much to the captain's chagrin. He would have much preferred to stay out of the ruffians' aiming reticules, but that was not to be. For every action he took to avoid trouble, we seemed to get into more of it.
ICN: So why did you leave Puma's Pride?
Vincent: The crew used to joke that I was a magnet for the conflicts we got into. The story was that the pirates knew I was former military and made a point of harassing us. It was all in fun, and I played along with them, but the captain believed the jest and suggested I seek employment elsewhere.
ICN: That doesn't seem right.
Vincent: [shrugs] I didn't mind. I appreciate the occasional drink, but I don't find much fun in a bottle of alcohol. Most of the crew did. I didn't get on with them well when they'd seen the bottom of too many bottles.
ICN: How long have you been with Gyrfalcon?
Vincent: Since Derek pulled the original crew together three years ago.
ICN: Are you happy with that assignment?
Vincent: Immensely. They're wonderful people.
ICN: Do you see enough action?
Vincent: Plenty. Derek doesn't go hunting for trouble deliberately, but he doesn't shy away from the hazards when something needs to be done.
ICN: Well, I'm afraid that's all we have time for. Thank you for coming in, Doctor.
Vincent: You're quite welcome, Miss Font.
ICN: This is Ella Font with Interplanetary Coalition News. Thanks for watching.
Good morning! This is Ella Font. Here at Interplanetary Coalition News (ICN), we're continuing our series of interviews with some of the Coalition's most fascinating people. With me to today by intrastellar telecast is Ambassador Charles Greyville who –
[harsh buzz tone, video on the monitor wobbles]
ICN: [presses hand over ear] Hey, what's that? What's going on? Ambassador Greyville, can you hear me? Ambassador?
[Image reforms, showing a man with graying black hair and dark eyes. He's wearing a black and gold uniform]
Man: Not exactly.
ICN: Who are you?
Man: You don't recognize me, Ms. Font? I'm crushed, truly. I thought a reporter of your caliber would know a man of my rank. Are you sure you don't know me?
ICN: Are you … General Juan Arlo of the League of Socialist Republics?
Juan: Ah, so you do recognize me, and so you also know what I'm capable of. So, tell me. Where was Ambassador Greyville calling from?
[Lights surge up to blinding intensity.]
ICN: [shielding her eyes] Why do you want to know?
Juan: He and I have some unfinished business, and since the ambassador hasn't returned my calls, I thought perhaps a mutual friend could provide me with better contact information. Where is he?
ICN: I don't know.
Juan: It's futile to pretend ignorance, my dear. You'll tell me what I want to know sooner or later. You have to know where he is to be able to establish the broadcast. Where is he?
ICN: I'm just a reporter. I don't know anything about how to establish connections with the interviewees.
[harsh buzz sounds at high volume]
Juan: Wrong answer. Someone at your station established the contact. They can relay that information to you. Where is the ambassador?
ICN: I'm telling you. I don't know. He called in from a remote location and I was instructed not to ask about his –
[static replaces the broadcast followed by a rainbow-colored calibration screen.]
Announcer: We apologize for any inconvenience, but due to technical difficulties ICN's interview segment will not be available today.