The Galactic Soldier Code
To protect the peace of the Milky Way,
To fight bravely on land, sea, air, and space,
To execute the orders of our superiors,
We are the Galactic Soldiers.
Jade’s cell was a small, cramped space, with bare white walls and floor, except for a small bed, sink, toilet, and mirror. She paced back and forth, her legs burning and the tattoo of her boots soothing her.
I’m running out of time, she thought bitterly. I need to get out of here.
Beads of sweat collected on her forehead, her heart beating like a drum in her chest. She sighed and pressed her back against the wall. She stopped to look at her reflection. She was startled by it. Her deep blue eyes were shaken with fear. A hunk of black hair covered the left side of her face. The one blue highlight stood out. She eyed her uniform—tight black shirt and pants, made for ease in slipping in and out of spacesuits. The purple band on her right arm finally caught her attention. The band had two thin letters, GS, and a crude drawing of an eagle circling Earth in orbit. It was the symbol of the Galactic Soldiers.
Jade was part of this group, the space combat branch of the military, founded shortly after the discovery of other planetary life. The soldiers were trained to be diplomats and defend the galaxy from harm. They went through intense training and had to understand the ins and outs of astrophysics. Jade excelled through training and rose through the ranks. She and other officers were sent on the spacecraft Athena to travel to the Alpha Centauri solar system. This mission would determine the fate of the Earth. She sighed as tears swelled in her eyes; she buried her face in her hands as the last few hours flooded back into her mind.
* * *
The sounds of the four people’s boots echoed through the hallway Their faces were grim. The commander had called the meeting; no doubt the news was going to be sour. He grunted and punched ten numbers into the entrance pad and the doors swished open. The moment they stepped in, the door shut behind them.
The room they entered was full of strange, colorful machines and glass walls. A rosy nebula shimmered softly. Dominic walked next to Jade. He smiled, his perfect white teeth glittering. “You know what the commander knows?”
“Nah, I have no idea,” she replied. Dominic was the same rank as Jade; he had sandy blond hair and navy blue eyes, and a wicked sense of humor. He was a close friend of Jade’s. She knew him better for his valiant acts as a soldier.
She craned her neck to stare at the commander. He was a ruthless leader who got his position through public relations and doing political favors. His greasy black hair fell onto his face. An eyepatch covered his right eye, but a scar still peeked out. No one was brave enough to ask where he got it from.
“Let’s get started,” he said. They gathered around a long, elegant table with a gridded screen. In the center there was a small lens. The commander pushed a button and a large hologram flickered on.
The hologram unfurled a three-dimensional map of the Milky Way galaxy. It was so realistic it didn’t look like a hologram. The nebulae looked like small clumps of clouds you could touch. The stars shined like Christmas lights. The brilliant map of the cosmos was annotated with red markings, showing approximate locations of the sun and other celestial objects. Everyone was in awe of its majesty, except the commander, who cleared his throat loudly.
“We have attack strategy to plan,” he said. “This mission will determine the fate of the Earth.”
Jade tucked a lock of hair behind her ear. She pointed to a green marble-looking piece of the hologram. “ Commander, this planet is Enyo, is it not?”
He nodded. “It’s part of the solar system of Alpha Centauri, one of the stars of the triple star system. It was completely hidden until discovered in 2405. The planet is much like Earth. Its inhabitants are equally as advanced as us.”
He sighed. “Planetary warfare between our two planets is ripping the Milky Way apart.” His eye was like a dark pit, darker than space itself.
The war of the Milky Way has raged on for so long no one really remembers how it started. Enyo and Earth are locked in battle. As a result, both planets are draining their resources; to be frank they are pretty much destroying each other over something petty.
Dominic knit his eyebrows. “Sir, we know all of this. We know Earth is on the verge of economic collapse, we learned this in training. Why are you repeating this?”
Veronica chimed in. “Because it’s the last time any of us will hear this.”
Jade stared at her. Veronica was a frosty girl, her platinum-blond hair tied back in a messy ponytail. She was the co-commander of the Athena spacecraft. She had a non-negotiable loyalty to the commander, despite his ruthlessness. Her lip was quivering and she was shaking, as if the information she knew was so dreadful it was unbearable to hear.
Veronica bit her lip, unable to meet Dominic and Jade’s gaze. “The war has caused horrendous surface damage to both planets. We have developed artillery strong enough to destroy our solar system. If the war goes on we will most likely obliterate each other. Our leaders have come to a decision.”
The commander stared directly at Jade and Dominic. “We will annihilate Enyo.”
Jade gasped. No one was able to process what the commander had just said. Jade looked at Dominic, who shifted uneasily on the balls of his feet. Finally he broke the silence. “Sir, you can’t be… you can’t be serious.”
The commander looked at Dominic like he was a pesky insect he was eager to crush. “You, a mere soldier, you are nowhere near my authority. Carry out your orders.”
Veronica’s eyes were glassy. The commander spoke. “You’re all dismissed. We will start the destruction sequence at 2100 tomorrow.”1
Everyone shuffled out of the room, except for Jade, who stared mesmerized by the map of the cosmos.
* * *
Jade pondered what to do. There was no way to escape from the cell; she wiped her bloodshot eyes.
I tried to stop it, she thought, but they stopped me.
She remembered the stares when she broke down the door to the control room. Running like a lunatic to the control panel, smashing her fists into anything that got in her way. The commander tried to stop her, he gripped her arms and she smashed her elbow into his face, breaking his nose. She was almost able to destroy the pad, almost able to stop the attack.
* * *
Almost. She cringed at the word. The guards seized her and dragged her away from the controls. She could not break free, no matter how hard she thrashed and kicked. They put her back on her feet to face the commander.
He pinched the bridge of his nose with his left hand. With his right he waved his hand at her. “You,” he said in a hoarse voice, “are hereby expulsed from the Galactic Soldiers. You will be brought back to Earth as a traitor.”
Jade scanned the room. There was no chance of escape. Her eyes fell on Dominic, who was gawking at her. He did nothing to help her, he betrayed her. All those months of training together meant nothing to him. Jade quickly blinked the tears away as she was escorted to her prison. The guards shoved her in and slammed the door shut.
Jade knew it was only a matter of time before Enyo was destroyed. She didn’t understand why she cared so much; the belligerent planets were both guilty for dragging out the war. It was not right to punish Enyo for something that was both planets’ faults. You can’t wipe out a planet. It goes against all sense of morality. There has to be a logical way.
Jade heard loud crashing noises and shouts. She got up and sauntered slowly toward the door. With a loud thud the door released. Dominic peeped his head in. “Thank goodness you’re OK.”
Before Jade could speak, he embraced her in a hug. He grabbed her hand. “Wipe your tears, we have a mission.”
The right side of his face was smeared with crimson. He had been in a fight to get here.
“OK,” she croaked, smiling.
They clasped hands and sprinted down the hall.
* * *
“Like I would ever tell you,” the commander sneered. The commander was tied to a chair; Dominic held his weapon firmly toward his throat.
“How is the obliteration of an entire planet for the better good?” Dominic snarled. Dominic felt as ardent about this as Jade. Jade gasped when she saw the destruction sequence timer.
“Dominic!” she screamed, pointing to the dial. “Less than ten minutes left. It’s now or never.”
The commander will never give us the shutdown code, Jade thought. He’d rather die than let us know.
Her eyes shifted to Veronica, who was sobbing in the corner. She marched over to her. “What is the shutdown code?”
Tears streamed down her face. “620071.”
Dominic punched the code into the control pad and the timer froze. “Destruction sequence shut down,” said a robotic female voice.
The commander glared at Jade. “You stupid girl, you just destroyed the future of Earth. You were never a Galactic Soldier anyway.”
Jade walked up to him and stared down at him. This time he was the helpless one and she was looking down on him. “I’ve finally learned what a Galactic Soldier is. A Galactic Soldier fights for what they believe in and they preserve peace. Peace can only be achieved through understanding. It’s impossible with the horrendous act of violence you were about to commit. I am a Galactic Soldier.”
Dominic smashed the control pad. Alarms blared. The commander smiled wickedly. He laughed a blood-curdling laugh. “Soon the guards will be here and you two will go to prison for the rest of your lives.”
“I’ll never let that happen,” Dominic alleged. “ JADE!”
Jade gazed out the broad window. She was captivated by how beautiful Enyo was. It’s like the Earth, she thought. The clouds veiled the watery planet. Its two moons, Eris and Caligo, slowly circled it. Eris was a silver sphere and Caligo was a golden crescent.
Dominic grabbed her arm. “Hey, Jade, we can stare later, we need to get out of here!”
She nodded and waved her hand toward the escape pod. They ran toward it.
“Wait!” yelled Veronica. She could barely run in her heels.
“I helped. I want to get out of here too,” she said. “I want to end this war the right way.” Jade and Dominic nodded and they entered the pod. They set course to Enyo so they could finally finish the war.
* * *
Jade, Dominic, and Veronica became known as heroes over hundreds of light years. They became universal symbols for peace and morality. Enyo was also on the verge of economic collapse and concluded the war. Earth and Enyo soon became allies as they healed. They were given a second chance because a group of rebels fought for what they believed in.
1 2100 is military time for 9:00 p.m.