Attica Station, in high orbit over Seriia.
Arias System, Free Enterprise Zone.
The Attica Station, the largest and only operational station in the war ravaged Arias System. An obelisk in space, the Attica Station was originally designed as a corporate superheadquarters for a massive megacorporation. The war between the Coalition and the UEE had long since caused the corporation to collapse- allowing for the local powers that controlled Seriia to take the station for their own. Repurposed into a trade station, the Attica station was one of the largest space stations in the area, and was the chosen 'neutral ground'. Though originally built as a corporate headquarters, Attica station was more than prepared for its role as a trade hub and general use space station- its circular dock was capable of carrying ships on both the outer and inner edges of the ring.
Aside from its standard operations- which were considerably smaller than usual, two fleets sat on opposite sides of the station, one Coalition, the other UEE. Each side seemed to be eyeing each other warily, the space between them filled with tension as MAS and aerospace craft slowly drifted amongst their ranks. Representing the UEE was Archduke Lupus, 5th in the line of Succession and his flagship the EENS Terracotta, backed by a detachment from the Fifth Imperial Expeditionary Fleet- which consisted of 3 carriers, 2 battleships, and a quartet of cruisers, along with a spattering of smaller vessels and support ships. The Coalition was represented by Consul Roland Nagwen, has flagship The Perseus, and an escort fleet of 2 carriers, a few battleships and several cruisers.
Aside from the Perseus and the Terracota- which were docked on opposite sides of the station, and a small MAS escort for each ship, no other military ship were allowed to dock, each fleet standing by approximately 25 kilometers away from the station. This distance was agreed on by both sides- to keep pilots and gunners with potentially itchy trigger fingers from accidentally reigniting hostilities. The peace talks had been going on for almost 12 hours at this point, and aside from a few breaks here and the, the UEE and Coalition representatives had been locked in their discussion room almost nonstop.
Attica Station, Inner-ring Docking Bay
From view on Attica Station, the planet below looked blue and peaceful, beautiful even. The thick layer of fluffy white clouds almost managed to cover the cratered, scarred, and war torn surface of the planet below. Seriia had been fought over and nearly destroyed half a dozen times over the course of the war, its resources raided and razed, but from up here, one could almost ignore the destruction down below.
"Lieutenant Barret!" called out a voice, young, clear and bright. Looking up, Barret saw a fresh faced young man- almost a boy- approaching him. His face was full of youthful enthusiasm and his dress uniform crisp and freshly pressed, the shiny silver bar on his shoulder marking him as an Ensign in the Coalition Spacey. The nametag on his chest denoted him as a man named Sika.
"How go the discussions?" Sika asked.
"How should I know? Probably good. Or bad." Barret replied with a shrug as he began walking off, motioning for the young ensign to follow him.
"The only thing I can say for certain, is that this has been a long time coming." Barret said, as the two marched down the clean, very empty halls of Attica Station. Most non-important traffic had been diverted away from the station for the peace talks, so the only civilians roaming the halls were those that actually lived on the station. "We won't get another chance like this, probably not in our lifetimes."
A pair of Coalition soldiers met the two officers at the airlock door that led them to the CSV Perseus, protecting the ship from boarding intruders- not that there was anyone on this side of the station to intrude on the Perseus. The soldiers at the airlock saluted the two officers, whom returned the salute with a nod as they boarded the ship. Another pair of officers met them in the airlock and exchanged nods with them, preparing for their own long, dull shift outside the meeting chambers.
"C'mon Sika, keep up." Barret called out towards the lagging Ensign. "We've still got work to do."
Onboard the INS Artemis
The hangar bay of INS Artemis was abuzz with a quiet commotion. Engineers and technicians were walking around making adjustments to the MAS's and aerospace craft that they couldn't bother to trust their machines with, all in an effort to keep things 110% battle ready. Though there was definitely the possibility of a battle, the general atmosphere of the hangar was a combination of both hopeful and nervously tense as the Artemis' team of engineers went about their regular duties of ensuring that the combat craft of the Artemis were in ready conditions.
The presence of the full engineering team out in force didn't make conditions of the already crampt hangar any more comfortable for the pilots of the 12th MAS Squadron, but they had managed to eke themselves a little circle to the side of the hangar. Sectioned off with a small collection of spare crates the remaining pilots of the 12th Squadron were idling away their last few moments before they'd be sortied off to take the place of their teammates in patrolling the space around Attica Station. Brit and Delaney sat cross legged in the center of their little circle playing cards with a few others- gambling for spare rations, trinkets, favors, and whatever else they felt had some sort of tangible value.
Ingram sat on a crate towards the edge of their little gathering, nursing a steel thermos of coffee in his hands. It tasted like shit, and whoever had brewed the coffee this time around had put too much water into the pot, watering down the already piss poor tasting roast. At the very least it was warm, he could feel the heat radiating through the gloves of his flight suit. The 12th MAS had been pulling rough assignments for the past few months, so when they heard they'd be sent attached to the Artemis- the first of its class- for a diplomatic escort, Ingram was almost excited at the idea of a milk-run, a break, an easy mission. Little did he know it'd be so damn boring.
"'Ay Boss." called Brit, in his characteristic cockney drawl, finally taking his eyes off his card game as Delaney threw his head back and grabbed at his hair in defeat. "Whatcha think of them ISS pilots, all off by their lonesome?"
Ingram shrugged in response, "I honestly don't care. If the Empire's lapdogs want to keep to themselves, all the more power to them. Once the talks are done, they'll be back on the Terracotta and out of our hair."
"Ah Come on boss, that's no fun. We should invite them over here and give em a good ole 12th Squadron welcome, maybe 'ave a go at them in the ring." Brit pestered on, winning another trinket from Delaney, who seemed to be growing increasingly short on goods and increasingly high in desperation.
"The ring is for the 12th only." Ingram reminded him. "Besides, we don't have time to deal with the ISS. We've got a last minute replacement coming in from the Icarus, fresh from Ganymede."
"Oh? Another one? Looks like your luck is turning up Dell, there'll be someone else for me to swindle out of their high-grade coffee rations besides you and Shaw."