--Main System Start--
--Life Support Nominal--
--Power Supply at 100%--
--All Systems Online--
--Welcome Aboard, Commander--
"Terracotta Control, this is Commander Shaw. Preflight checks complete. All systems green and ready for launch."
"Commander Shaw, this is Terracotta Control. Standby for maglaunch in three... two... one... Launch."
The commander was pulled back into her seat from the sudden acceleration. The launch was always the hardest on the body. Going from 0 to 100 in a matter of seconds had its way of disorienting most pilots. Once the MAS left the artificial gravity of its mothership, and weightlessness set in, the commander could adjust to the sudden speed a lot easier. Before she knew it, she was at cruising speed in space. The commander looked up at the monolithic station in the distance, twenty-five kilometers out and it was still a respectable size. She wanted to be there on that station, beside Lupus if the worst was to break out. But the rules were clear, and the ISS were benched along with the regulars. There was no compromise.
Her eyes turned to the small strike carrier. Admittedly, it was a beautiful ship. The sleek new design and size would make it far more versatile than the trusty Liberator Class ships the UEE had been using. The commander turned her MAS toward the strike carrier. As she approached the ship, the commander received a lock warning, followed by a call on the comms, "ISS MAS, our computers have you on a landing trajectory with the Artemis. Your arrival is not scheduled, identify yourself and state your intention."
"Artemis, this is Commander Shaw. Be advised, I will be boarding your ship under authorization code Vermilion Star. Stand down." The commander watched her lock indicator, it remained the same for a matter of seconds. Eventually, though, the indicator went back to green.
"Code Vermilion Star confirmed, commander. The Artemis' MAS bays are currently at capacity, ma'am. Adjust approach vector by two degrees for a foot landing."
The commander nodded and flipped a switch in the cockpit. "Foot landing confirmed, Artemis. Making final approach now."
The black MAS fired its retro thrusters to slow itself down. Landing lights on the outside of the Artemis' hangar bay went from blue to yellow, signalling the crew on the hangar deck of an incoming MAS. Landing alarms blared in the hangar as the black MAS entered through the shield gate. As it did, it's armor changed color to match the hangar, a matte gray mainly. The MAS unit's thrusters kicked up space dust from the hangar deck and threw it in all directions, a nuisance more than anything. A yellow jersey quickly ran out in front of the MAS as it touched down on the deck, and began to marshal it to the side of the hangar for lockdown in case another craft needed to leave or enter.
Along the shoulder plate was the name of the MAS unit, the Noblesse. The pilot's name sat just under the unit's designation, 'Cmdr N. Shaw'. The commander studied the pilots lounging about on the deck as she walked her MAS into place. She spotted a gaggle of 12th pilots, and her ISS pilots on the opposite end of the hangar. She spotted a man in the 12th that looked familiar, but she couldn't quite put her finger on it. It didn't matter, she had to focus on not walking the Noblesse into something else. Before long, the MAS was in place, and it knelt onto one knee. The ISS pilots quickly fell into formation near the Noblesse while purple and white jerseys rushed to service the MAS unit. There was a hiss of air from the cockpit as it equalized its pressure. The chest opened up, and the commander stood. The ISS pilots all went to attention and saluted as the commander climbed down from the Noblesse.
She wore black armor with a white stripe running down her right arm. Hanging from her right shoulder plate was a white cape that dangled down to the small of the woman's back which identified her rank as an ISS commander. On the left breast of the chestplate, the name Shaw was engraved. Her rank emblem was emblazoned on the left shoulder plate. One of the ISS operatives stepped in front of the commander and saluted. "Commander Shaw. We weren't expecting you today, ma'am. Has something changed?" the operative asked.
Right after he said that, the deck chief, classically known as the 'Air Boss', stepped up along with two armed marines. "I'd like to ask the very same thing, commander. Vermilion Star or not, the Artemis isn't designed to handle MAS landings above capacity. You've landed in a zone cordoned for aerospace fighters that are currently on patrol, and expected to return in just a few minutes."
Nikita reached up to remove her helmet. She took in a deep breath and let it out slowly while running her fingers through her raven black hair. She dropped her gaze on the deck chief, "I've been attached to this ship's MAS squadron under special order from Her Royal Highness Selvice. Perhaps you've heard of her, third in the line of succession and Lupus' older sister. She contacted me from Mars, so if you have a complaint, you know where to call."
The chief's face went white. Selvice had a reputation for being rather cold, and frankly a bit of a bitch. But nobody ever said it to her face, that's a quick way to get into jail. Selvice had been the only one in the royal family who had an open distaste for the commander. Nikita figured this attachment to the 12th was likely a way to keep her at a safe distance from the rest of the family. It didn't matter for Nikita. She had pledged her life to the throne, and she'd take orders from the ice queen whether she liked it or not. The deck chief swallowed nervously and nodded "U- understood, Commander Shaw. The problem still remains that your MAS will congest traffic in and out of this ship."
Nikita sighed and looked over to one of the ISS pilots, the lowest rank of the bunch. "Lieutenant, return to the Terracotta and be ready for launch in case we need to mobilize quickly."
The pilot saluted again, "Ma'am!" He then quickly ran to his MAS and prepared to take off.
Nikita looked back to the chief, "You have your room. Ferry the Noblesse into place after my pilot leaves."
The chief couldn't argue with her way of getting things done. "Y- yes, ma'am."
Nikita could hear one of the jerseys that was servicing her MAS whistle. The man had said something about not seeing the Air Boss choke up like that before. Nikita looked back to her ISS pilots, "Fall out and triple check your MAS's, if something goes south, I want you to be first on that station."
The pilots went to attention first before falling out and running to their respective units. Nikita walked past the deck chief, who frantically went to work reorganizing the deck hands for a ferry movement. She had her eyes set on the other pilots in the hangar, the 12th. Nikita tucked her helmet under arm and stopped short of the card game being played. These people were too comfortable. "Who's in command of this outfit?"