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Dust and Echoes

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Year 2683 -  Scutum-Centaurus Arm

Several pairs of eyes kept watch over the myriad screens and radars and gauges as his ship patroled the area.  Not his ship, technically.  He wasn't the captain, just a lieutenant.  Lieutenant commander, Saunders reminded himself mentally.  The captain himself was borderline useless, though, so he found himself in charge more often than not.  In fact, the man was probably off cavorting in his personal quarters with a deckhand, yet again.  Saunders heaved a sigh and turned his hazel gaze to one of the many viewports scattered around the bridge.

Space.  Final frontier and all that.  Mankind conquered it eons ago, though the Kilrathi put up a helluva fight.  The Congress had granted the cats a few planets to live on as part of the peace treaty -- with the provision that they never again attack another Terran person or ship -- but even now, he and his crew occasionally found themselves embroiled in border skirmishes.  The Kilrathi ambassador to Earth, at least in the few times Saunders met him, just shrugged his furry shoulders and insisted he had no control over rogue factions.  "Rogue factions, my ass," he muttered as he reached up to drum his fingers against the reinforced glass.  Too heavily armed to be just minor sects.  Had to be backed heavily by someone important.  

Still, at least these patrols were mostly peaceful.  Another couple weeks and it'd be time to dock in at a station, to refuel and re-supply and sleep in a bed not completely encased in metal.  Probably contact the admiral on the sly and either con him into a promotion to captain -- well-deserved at this rate, and maybe he'd get to re-name the piece of scrap -- or a ship transfer.  Anything to bid some kind of farewell to the most inappropriately named vessel in the Space Forces -- the TSC Pink Dagger.  God, how he hated that name and rued the day Admiral Figgins let that fool choose it.

A siren, obnoxious and forboding, shook him from his thoughts and he turned to find the bridge in near complete disarray.  "Report," he yelled over the chaos as he stepped down to join it.

"LC, we've got multiple incoming crafts!" from one of the tech sergeants.  Saunders couldn't remember his name.  "They're locked onto our position and closing fast!"

"Kilrathi?" he asked, leaning over the rader to look for himself.

"Negative.  Our instruments detect no signs of their radioactive signature."  The man looked up at him with worried eyes.  "Orders, sir?"

A deep frown cut across his face as he stared over the readings.  Not Kilrathi?  What else could possibly be in this sector?  Some new alien race?  "Did we try hailing them on the comm?"

"Affirmative, sir.  No response."

Saunders swore under his breath.  "Send out a transmission to the closest ships and stations, let them know we're under attack."  He snatched up the bridge's intercom mic.  "All units, to your stations.  Scramble all fighters.  This is not a drill.  This is not a drill!"  His free hand snatched the coat of of another sergeant scurrying nearby.  "You!  Go get the capt--"

A piercing scream interrupted him just millseconds before a blinding light enveloped his senses.  His last, lingering thought -- Fuck being assigned to Sandy-Goddamn-Ryerson's command.

Year 2684 - Earth

Beep!  Beep!  Beep!

A hand shot out from beneath the bedcovers to swat at the insidious buzzing, and succeeded at just knocking the clock off the nightstand.  A heavy grumble reverberated as the hand's owner flipped the sheets from his head to look down at the time with half-lidded eyes.  6 in the damn morning.  "Rachel, your alarm," he mumbled as he rolled over to shake awake his companion.  "Rach--"  Where the hell'd she go?

Downstairs, a spritely woman stepped delicately out into the New York winter air.  She sucked in a deep breath and cast a beaming smile to the bustle around her.

Rachel Berry waits for no alarm.