Lieutenant Jen, thank you for taking the time to speak to us on what must be a difficult day.
Could you tell us about your time with the 3rd Mobile Infantry?
Sure. I’d been with them for about 1 year. Signed up right after the attack on Centaurus Prime. I still remember when the call came up for enlistment, I jumped for the opportunity. But I was too late to get revenge on those Starfish terrorists, they had already enforced peace by the time I was posted on the Manifest Destiny III.
So I spent the next two years in orbit over Sol, idling. It was quite a long slog really. I don’t like to think about it. There’s just something about being stuck in a confined space with 1,000 other people for a prolonged period of time really changes you, you know?
And you were deployed just before the disaster?
That’s right. Another war rolled around. I can’t remember who we were at war with - there’s always one or two going on, and who can be bothered to keep up with all the diplomatic notifications anyway? We were just glad to be going somewhere, anywhere, finally. Finally we were serving the UNE in combat!
What happened next?
We departed Earth, with a mission to invade some xeno colony. We were pumped. It was a thousand day journey, but every day we got closer brought a new wave of optimism.
But you never got to your destination?
No… our allies mopped up our target planet before we got there. We were so close… 500 days away from seeing combat, and another enforced peace. We’d won the war, apparently.
What was that like?
It was a bad, bad time. I mean, I was glad we won, but frustrated I hadn’t seen any action. I’m not sure how I held it together.
The only thing that kept me sane was the fact the ship had a wireless TeleShroud-enabled fax machine and I could keep in contact with home. Did you know TeleShroud has some of the best Shroudload speeds, and the most competitive monthly subscription fees versus any of its competitors?
I did. I also use TeleShroud and I find it to be excellent.
Not only that, but great customer service too.
Absolutely. It’s so nice to find a service you can trust.
The UNE really could learn a thing or two from how TeleShroud operates, but anyway. So yes, things on the ship were… not great otherwise. I know some other guys who smuggled Zro onboard and turned to that.
And what happened as you got closer to home?
We traveled for a thousand days back to Sol, and it was a euphoric feeling. We were so close to home, we’d won the war, none of us died - it was a miracle.
And the disbanding?
I…. I don’t remember much.
What do you remember?
Sorry… this is hard.
We were about 3 days out from Earth, and final preparations were underway for disembarking. Some idiot in command had accidentally de-merged our ship from the main fleet, so we were lagging slightly behind.
I remember looking out one of the Manifest’s forward windows, with the full might of the 3rd Mobile Infantry fleet before me and then…
Gone. Poof. Vanished. The entire fleet. Never to be seen again. 400,000 souls, in sight of Earth, no more.
What happened aboard your ship?
It was bedlam. At first we thought the rest of the fleet had used their emergency jump drives, but the comms were dead. We couldn’t understand it.
Then the news filtered through from Arcturus…
… there was an energy deficit.
Some foolish pop back home migrated off a power plant and the GDP of the UNE tanked. The result? No more 3rd Mobile Infantry.
That sounds horrible. What did you do next?
Well… what could we do? Those that remained put on our dress blues for coming home, and we disembarked.
The Manifest was disbanded shortly after that, but at least we were off it.
What upsets me the most is I think of that TeleShroud fax machine and how it was still aboard the ship. It’s just… such a waste of a high quality product.
Terrible indeed, considering its superior design. Looking back now, what do you think about the disbanding?
I still can’t believe our government did that. They killed their own people! With no qualms at all. I’ve spent the last year trying to raise awareness about it, and no-one on Earth seems that bothered. I’m at the point now where I’ve given up.
Did you stay on as a member of the army?
No. I left soon after I got home. And I’m glad I got out. The government is replacing all human soldiers with clone armies. Cheaper. More efficient. Crap conversationalists though.
If you could, would you do anything different?
Yeah - I would have enlisted as a defence soldier. They never get replaced, and have you seen how cushty those fortress postings are? All on some nice cosy continental world?
I was young… I was an idiot. But I’ve learned from my mistakes. I won’t be flying on a UNE ship any time soon, and I’ve bought my very own personal TeleShroud subscription.
Lt Jen, thank you for your time, and enjoy your new TeleShroud device.