With no place to escape, my bunkmate and I were strapped to chairs. As the league soldiers scoured every nook and cranny of our ship, we were forced to sit patiently while they finished. An officer appeared before me in his black trench coat, their standard uniform, and poked me with a security baton.
“So, you’re with the Kellerin, human?” He said the last word with utter disdain. In a world populated by so many alien species, the league was the only one led by humans. He hit me with the rod again. “Answer!”
“Neel, sailor of The Greater Kellerin Republic,” I yelled.
Satisfied, he looked over at my bunkmate who was strapped to another chair behind me.
My bunkmate was a Kellerin, dog-like humanoids and the dominant species of known space.
The officer looked at him. “Are you friends?” We may have been bunkmates, but I didn’t even know the guy’s name. I decided to keep my trap shut in case I gave him the wrong answer. After a few seconds of silence the officer smashed his baton into my bunkmate’s arm. “Do you know each other?”
“Yeah, we’re friends,” My bunkmate yelped back. “We’re good ol’ buddies, the two of us.”
The officer looked back at me. “Is this true? Is this dog your friend?”
“Yeah,” I muttered.
The officer backed away and paced a bit before continuing the questioning. “What’s your name, Kellerin?”
“Too Kellerin,” The officer yelled. “Your name is Eric. If you prove your worth you can have your name back.”
I wondered what he meant by that, but it got answered quickly as two soldiers approached with fresh uniforms. “Welcome to a real army. You’re with me until further notice. I am Captain Liang. Take care of each other. Most of the time it’ll be all you have.”
They dropped the uniforms in front of us and Liang pointed at them. “Put these on.” He commanded as if we were confused by what was happening. He told the others to leave and stood in the corner while we changed. “I can’t have you running off. Showers are communal so you’ll get used to his eventually.” His tone was softer than before. Folding his arms behind him, he watched in the corner as we switched uniforms.
When we turned around he smiled at the two of us. “Looking like soldiers already. Even you, dog.”
We were taken back to the league’s ship where we were assigned a bunk, a locker, and given a brief introduction to some of the crew. They told me we were expecting to join up with the league’s flagship, The Excalibur. Liang told me we were going to join in a planetary invasion.
As he finished a soldier ran in. “We’re on the news!” Liang excitedly pulled us over to the cafeteria where a monitor showed a news broadcast.
“The Paradisian League has launched attacks all across the outer territories of the Republic. Their leader, Thomas Drayke, has taken the title of Paradisian Emperor and the leaders of the Kellerin Republic are currently meeting to discuss countermeasures. From this moment forward the Paradisian League is now calling itself the Paradisian Empire.”
“He actually did it!” I heard one of the soldiers shout.
“It’s happening!” Another shouted.
I didn’t even know how to feel. One day, I’d been sleeping on a routine patrol and now I was part of the enemy’s invasion force. The league, a small coalition of pirate hunters, had just declared themselves an empire, and I was now most definitely a branded outlaw of the Republic with every other accursed person on this ship. I walked back to my room and with a heavy sigh I collapsed on my new bunk. It was uncomfortable and cheap just like my previous one. At least as the universe seemed to be plummeting toward chaos and I found myself on the wrong side, the same crappy bunk bed was always a constant.