The bridge of the Gettysburg is often quiet, especially given its usual patrol route of the border between Consortium and Fringe space.

This monotony is broken, however, when the battle between the Yaralu and the Vanguard fleet caused the comm to burst wide open. Now, it is once again quiet, as the battle is over. Fate has different ideas on how long this will last.

The ship’s comm officer puts a hand to her earpiece. “Colonel, I am receiving a priority transmission from General Avocet.”

Colonel Grayback shakes his head, his mane fluffing out, as he wakes up from a brief daze. “On screen.” he says, and the screen is then filled with the image of the General. “Yes sir, General, we are receiving.”

The General’s face is grave. “Colonel, as you are no doubt aware, the Parallax is beating the drums of war. We must be prepared to beat our own, and that is where the Gettysburg shall play a part. You are hereby ordered to divert to the Line of Pain and begin daily patrols. Keep a sharp lookout, Colonel. Avocet out.”

As the General’s image fades, Grayback leans over to put his elbows on his knees, his chin resting upon his folded paws. “By the fires.” he says, leaning back up. “You heard the man. Set course for the Line of Pain, maximum velocity.”

The Gettysburg gets underway as Grayback settles back into his chair. “Onward to patrol the den of the serpents,” he says to himself.

“Sensors detect a Consortium vessel in the vicinity of the Line of Pain,” reports a Huth to Ur’soth Yok of Hatch Kavir aboard the Nall carrier Slashing Strike. “Profile and transponder output match the signature of the Gettysburg.”

Yokkavir bobs his snout in acknowledgement. “Match their course, in parallel. Keep to our side of the line. When we’re in comms range, open a channel.”

The Gettysburg pulls up into the vicinity of the Line of Pain, but maintains a discrete distance from the actual border.

“We have arrived at the Line, Colonel. Sensors detect a Nall carrier across the border, moving into a parallel course with our own.” the operations officer reports.

Grayback nods. “Not unexpected. Keep an eye on them, and begin patrol route.”

“Consortium vessel Gettysburg,” comes the transmission from the Slashing Strike. “I am Ur’soth Yok of Hatch Kavir. State your purpose for proximity to Parallax sovereign territory. Come to probe for weak spots? You will be sorely disappointed.”

The comm officer picks up the hail. “Incoming transmission from the carrier, Colonel.”

Grayback twitches his ears back slightly. “Here we go. On screen.”

After the Nall commander finishes his address, Grayback replies. “This is Colonel Grayback Nimblefoot of Clan Windracer. Just a routine patrol, Ur’soth. Keep an eye on things, watch for that monster.” he says, keeping his tone neutral. “As you can see we are well on our side.”

“A creature *your*  people chased into *our*  territory, it should be noted,” Yokkavir replies, jaw dropping open in amusement. “Convenient, yes?”

“Depends on your point of view.” Grayback says. “The creature was running, we gave chase. We could have simply let it cross into your space without warning you. I don’t think you would have approved of it eating one of your ships as it did ours, no?”

“The Nall are capable of defending ourselves,” the Ur’soth answers. “Your fleet commander vowed to remain on the Consortium side of the Line of Pain. He lied. We have no reason to trust your assertions.”

“Come now, Ur’soth. You are a warrior, as am I.” Grayback says, leaning back in his chair and clasping his paws in front of his chin. “The heat of battle is an unpredictable beast. The scent of victory, the fire in your blood as you focus on defeating your prey.” he says evenly, lowering his paws back to his chair’s armrests. “Even the most seasoned warrior can lose track of that which does not matter beyond achieving victory of battle.”

“Oh, but Colonel, it is the victor who can maintain calm and focused effort toward a goal,” Yokkavir replies. “Time enough to slake our thirst with the blood of fallen foes when the battle is won. We do not fight battles for the sake of fighting. We fight to win. And we win through honorable perfection.”

“You have a point, Ur’soth.” Grayback says. “However, mine remains the same. If anyone crossed the line during battle, it was not intentional on their part, nor some prelude to invading your space.” he says. “They were simply attempting to take down a proven deadly creature.”

The Ur’soth bobs his snout in acknowledgement. “If your vessels cross into our realm again, I am authorized not only to destroy them and add their hulls to the Line of Pain, but also to answer such violations in kind.”

“Fully understood, Ur’soth, and not unexpected.” Grayback replies. “However, until we are sure this creature is gone for good, we intend to maintain a watch. Our comms will always be open, however, should you have a concern.”

“Goodbye for now, Colonel,” Yokkavir replies, before cutting the communications link.

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By Brody

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