Disclaimer: I do not own Vandread in any way. This story will also reference StarCraft, Freelancer, Lost Planet, Transformers, and EVE Online none of which I own either but I wish I did. I only own the OCs.

Author's Notes: Hi there fellow readers! This is my second fanfiction so I hope you'll enjoy it. Keep in mind that I'll be updating this alongside my other story so it might take awhile before I update this one from time to time. Now sit back, relax, and enjoy Mechdread: The First Stage!

"Talking"

"Thoughts"

...

Chapter 1

The Assignment

...

At a distant sector of space…

In the calm void of space a fierce battle was being waged with two opposing fleets squaring off and exchanging deadly bursts of weapons fire. One fleet consisted of five seed-shaped vessels that fired short red lances of laser beams while occasionally opening their forward section into a maw that deployed strange cubes that drifted for a moment before they broke apart revealing the "pieces" to be strange square octopi-shaped fighters that quickly dispersed and darted to engage their targets. The other fleet was made up of three ships, two two-hundred twenty meter long frigates escorting a larger ship of four-hundred thirty meter long cruiser, that unleashed blue ion, orange proton, yellow particle, and purple plasma weapons fire and torpedoes upon the seed ships with anti-fighter turrets firing at the cube fighters while the ships themselves were supported by a number of various fighters and bombers.

As the battle progressed the space near the hulls of the three ships and their fighters would briefly flare as the seed fleet's weapons impacted their shields. They returned the favor as they returned fire destroying two of the seed ships and heavily damaging a third. The remaining seed vessels then deployed more cube fighters and began attacking one of the frigates at once. The frigate's shields briefly flashed rapidly as the many beams made contact before finally failing with sections of its hull taking damage.

The other two ships quickly moved to support their damaged ally by positioning themselves between the wounded frigate and the remaining seed ships. Fighters from both sides surged at one another with renewed vigor in defense of their respective sides. One group of fighters in particular moves to capitalize on the situation and turn the tide.

These seven inverted v-shaped Shrike-class fighters, were light gray with a sleek frame and low, thin wings that had a symbol of a black stylized medieval helmet on both wings. They had twin plasma guns near the cockpit with two proton guns on the underside of their wings as well as dual missile pods. The squad flew in delta formation as they headed toward one of the seed ships followed closely by three slightly larger delta shaped Tigershark-class bombers.

The pilot of the leading fighter watched as he saw the enemy through his helmet's visor. He then reached for the comm on the holographic display in front of him.

"Alright Onyx Knights listen up! We have to punch a hole through the enemy's formation and watch Bravo Squad's backs when those slugs make their special delivery on the target." he said with a smirk as he heard his squad mates chuckling until another voice interrupted.

"Hey! I heard that ya little jackass!" the leader of Bravo Squad shouted in mock anger.

"Roger, Bravo Leader. Onyx Leader has received your acknowledgement." the pilot now identified as Onyx leader replied innocently.

His squad then broke into full laughter as they heard Bravo leader griping over the comm.

"Yeah, yeah just watch it smart aleck! Anyway we're ready when you are."

Onyx leader nodded. "Understood. Everyone get ready to move when I give the signal."

"Roger, Onyx Two standing by." a gruff man's voice answered.

"Onyx Three ready." a more feminine voice replied.

"Onyx Four waiting to kick ass!" a youthful male voice shouted.

"Onyx Five awaiting orders." another male voice replied seriously.

"Onyx Six ready to engage." a second female voice said.

"Onyx Seven as ready as I'll ever be." the final male remarked casually.

He smiled briefly before his expression became a mask of calm as he narrowed his eyes with determination.

"All units engage!"

"Yes sir!" the squad chorused at once.

The fighters then accelerated toward the damaged seed ship while maintaining a protective formation around the bombers. As they approached the enemy ship multiple Cube fighters moved to intercept them.

"Watch it, Cubers coming in fast!" Onyx Two warned.

"I see them! Take them out but keep on course and don't give them time to adapt to your movements! We have to get Bravo to the target in one piece!" Onyx leader ordered.

"Roger!"

At that the squad unleashed a torrent of rapid blue plasma fire with cube drones retaliating with volleys of lasers.

The shields of his fighter flickered as some laser fire made impact but he was able to dodge the worst of it while firing his twin plasma guns and dual proton cannons destroying five enemy drones. The other members of his squad were performing just as well, taking out any drones that got in their way while evading incoming enemy fire.

An alarm sounded and he noticed a pair of drones trying to avoid him in order to go for the bombers.

"Not so fast!" he fired two missiles which then split into smaller ones that headed straight for the targets. The drones tried evade them but failed as the missiles gave chase and reduced them to fiery explosions.

"Sir, contacts coming in from four and seven o'clock!" Onyx Three said urgently.

"Got it. Onyx Four and Six intercept and keep them of our backs!"

"Roger." replied Onyx Six.

"Yes sir! Time to blow the hell out of some more bad guys!" Onyx Four whooped.

The two Shrikes peeled away to engage their respective targets while the rest of the squad pressed on. Within moments he saw the heavily damaged seed vessel and knew that they were nearing their objective.

"Almost there!" he thought with relish.

Suddenly one of the seed ships moved in between them and the damaged one blocking the way.

"Okay, this might be a problem."

"Sir-!"

"I see it Onyx Two." he interrupted narrowing his eyes. His eyes widened then relaxed with a devious smile.

"Onyx Two and Five stay with Bravo Squad and be ready to move when I give the word. Onyx Three and Seven you're with me. I have a plan." he ordered.

"Roger!"

"Please tell me that this isn't one of your usual crazy plans?" Onyx Seven pleaded.

"Trust me Seven, this one will be more fun." Onyx Leader assured.

"I was afraid you'd say that." Onyx Seven groaned.

"Quit whining Onyx Seven, you're still alive aren't you?" asked Onyx Three.

"Easy for you to say! You actually like these crazy stunts we get into!" countered exasperatedly.

"Alright you two cut the chatter, we have a Seed-class to take out! Now follow my lead." Onyx Leader ordered before they could continue arguing.

"Roger!"

The three fighters then headed straight for the Seed ship. Onyx Leader looked around for a moment before he was looking for.

"Those will do." he mumbled to himself before firing at three Cube fighters, purposefully missing them. They turned as one and gave chase to offending ship that took a shot at them.

"Uh leader, would you care to tell us why you did that?" Onyx Seven asked in confusion.

"All part of the plan. Now go to max velocity and fire on the Seed ship. Let's give these bastards something to chase!"

"Roger!"

The Shrikes accelerated faster as the Cube fighters gave chase as they fired on them. Then as one they opened fire on the Seed ship causing it to turn in their direction and it began charging its laser cannon.

"Steady, get ready to execute a loop on my mark!"

"Right!" Onyx Three replied.

"Here we go again." Onyx Seven sighed.

As they continued to dodge enemy attacks from behind they continued to get closer to the Seed ship as it charge its cannon.

"Now!"

The fighters did a sharp loop in front of the Seed ship with the Cube fighters trying to get out of the way but were too late as they crashed right into its charging cannon. Explosions ripped across the surface of the ship as the cannon overloaded before finally exploding.

"Woo-hoo! THAT WAS AWESOME!" Onyx Three cheered.

"Okay that was pretty impressive." Onyx Seven admitted.

"It's not over yet. Bravo Leader, this is Onyx Leader you are clear to engage the target."

"You got it kid. Dropping the anvil!"

Onyx Leader watched as Bravo Squad flew past him and fired their antimatter missiles that speed toward the wounded Seed ship. At the moment of impact the missiles did job well as massive explosions ripped the vessel to pieces. With the battle turning in their favor the two frigates and one cruiser focused their fire on the lone Seed ship which soon shared the same fate as the other Seed vessel. Without their motherships controlling them, the Cube fighters all shut down and drifted helplessly in space.

"Alright people let's wrap this up and go home." Onyx Leader ordered with a smile.

"Yes sir!"

"We're with you sir!" Onyx Six said as her rejoined the formation.

"Hell yeah we are! Let's mop the floor with these assholes!" shouted Onyx Four as he also returned.

When the last inert Cube fighter was destroyed a voice broke over the comm.

"All units the enemy force has been destroyed return to your respective ships for a well-deserved rest. Nice work everyone and welcome back!" a female CIC operator said.

Cheers flooded the comms as the squads began docking with their respective ships.

Onyx Leader smiled has he piloted his fighter toward the Intrepid-class Cruiser Challenger and its hangar bay and spotting the familiar emblem on the side of the ship, a blue circle with a pair of black stylized wings framing its sides against a white background, the symbol of the Terra Novus Alliance. As he deployed his landing struts to dock with the ship he couldn't help but look forward to getting some rest.

….

After he landed his Shrike on the hangar deck he climbed out the cockpit and jumped landing with a thud on the metal deck. The pilot known as Onyx Leader stood at a height of five feet seven inches, wearing a white and blue lightly armored suit with a pistol and a sheathed knife strapped to the opposite sides of his waist and wore a smooth rounded helmet that had a silver reflective visor that covered where the face would be. He then removed his helmet with a snap and hiss revealing his features.

The nineteen year olds skin had a slightly pale complexion that had a healthy, flawless appearance and short brown hair. But his most striking feature was his eyes. His irises were a light amethyst color that seemed to slightly glow and also looked as though they contained a great deal of wisdom and experience that seemed to surpass his age.

"Hey David!"

David turned and saw his second-in-command Onyx Five walking toward him with his helmet off.

"Steve, nice to see that you're still in one piece. Is the rest of the team doing well?" David asked with a smile.

Steven McGrath, or Steve as he liked to be called, was eighteen with a healthy tanned skin, ginger hair that was close to his scalp, green eyes, and stood at five feet six inches. Like David he wore the same black armored suit but had a few added accessories such as the ace of spades on his armor's right shoulder pad. But not only was he David's second-in-command but also his childhood friend.

Steve gave a smile of his own.

"You should know that it will take a lot more than Cube drones to bring me down. And yes the team is doing fine. Though I heard you almost gave Simon a heart attack." he answered with a raised eyebrow in mock concern.

Knowing that he was referring to Onyx Seven David grinned sheepishly and shrugged his shoulders. "Well what can I say? The guy worries way too much."

Steve laughed. "True, but that's not always a bad thing." he reasoned when he stopped laughing.

"But there's another reason why I was looking for you." he said suddenly giving David a serious look.

"What's up?"

"Just before you landed word came from the bridge that Captain Ackerson wanted to see you ASAP."

"Did they say why?" David asked curiously.

Steve shook his head. "No they just said the captain wanted you to report to the bridge."

David made a slight frown wondering what was so important that the captain wanted to discuss it with him personally.

"Then I guess I'll have go and see what's going on. After I've changed into my uniform of course, you how he is with the regs."

"True enough. I'll see to the squad until you get back." he said with a smile.

Returning the smile David nodded before he left.

….

Now wearing his uniform, the fabric mainly white while blue on the shoulders with two patches, the left bearing the insignia of the Terra Novus Alliance and the right bearing an emblem of a glowing Roman helmet in the middle of a shield with dual swords crisscrossing beneath the helmet, along with thin black lines running along the sides and center, David walked straight to the metal doors in front of him which automatically opened with a hiss and he was greeted by the sight of the bridge.

It was a wide circular area with a view screen at the end that showed the starry visage of space. Crew members worked at various consoles around the room with the center having two chairs that were slightly elevated both being for the captain and XO. Standing near one of these chairs with his back to David was Captain John Ackerson himself.

David then stood at attention and saluted.

"Lieutenant Angelus, Centurion Special Operations reporting as ordered sir!" David said in a crisp military manner.

The captain turned to face him giving David a clear view of him. Captain Jonas Ackerson wore a similar uniform to David but had two golden marks on his collar that donated his rank. He had a dark chestnut complexion with thin black crew cut hair and appeared to be in his mid-thirties if the slight wrinkles around his dark brown eyes and the occasional strands of grey hair were anything to go by. He also had well-built physique and carried himself with measured confidence and his eyes that shone with years of experience that he had no doubt gained from his long career. This was an individual worthy of respect for not only was the captain of the Challenger but also the overall commander of the taskforce.

Though Captain Ackerson also had a reputation of being very strict and something of a by-the-books officer.

Captain Ackerson looked at David briefly before returning the salute.

"At ease, Lieutenant."

David relaxed but still kept a formal stance. "You wanted to see me sir?"

"Yes Lieutenant, I have just received some very interesting orders concerning you in particular. Orders that must be discussed in private." informed Ackerson with a stony expression.

David was now even more confused and a little apprehensive about what this could be all about. But before he could respond the captain turned to another man.

"Commander I'll be in my ready room, you have the bridge."

"Aye, sir!"

He then turned back to David.

"Lieutenant if you would join me."

With that turned walked to one of the doors on the left side of the room followed closely by David. As David and Ackerson entered the room, David took note of how the room was setup. All in all, the room was fairly Spartan, having a few portraits of famous battles and a desk with various datapads and two chairs on opposite sides.

The captain walked to his desk and retrieved one of the datapads giving the contents of whatever was on it a once over before turning to David.

"It appears Lieutenant that your time on this ship is over. This came straight from Alliance Command; your orders are to report to one of our outposts in the Epsilon Sector to be briefed on your next assignment." he said with a neutral expression but his voice held a hint of regret at David's coming departure.

David started with surprise, he had only been on the ship for a few weeks and he was already being called to go on another mission. Granted in his line of work there were plenty of missions to go on and he generally didn't stay in one place for too long but he that he would at least be staying for a few more weeks before moving on.

"Did Command mention what these orders were about sir?" asked David curious but knew what the answer was likely to be.

"I'm afraid not. But I was told that you'll be informed of the specifics by Rear Admiral Gardner when you arrive."

David blinked in surprise. Many knew the famous rear admiral as he won several victories in many sectors and was responsible for Alliance fleet operations in a lot of sectors including Epsilon. Moreover, David had personally met the man once at an award ceremony after he had returned from the Koprulu Sector.

"I take it that you know him Lieutenant?" asked Ackerson raising an eyebrow at David's reaction.

"Yes sir, I met the admiral once after getting back from Koprulu." he replied quietly recalling his time there.

Ackerson nodded with a look of understanding apparently aware of that particular incident.

"In any event I'll have you transferred over to the Rubicon as it is in need of repairs so they'll be able to take you where need go. Here are the appropriate orders to give to Captain Himura." he said referring to the name and captain of the ship that was damaged earlier while handing David the datapad.

"Understood sir."

Ackerson nodded. "Dismissed."

David saluted once more before turning to leave.

"And Lieutenant?"

David looked back to the captain.

"Although your assignment to this ship was a temporary one, your performance in these past several weeks have done credit to your uniform and I am honored to have had you under my command. Good luck." Ackerson said with sincerity.

"Thank you sir."

And with that David left to prepare for his departure.

….

After he gathered his things David headed straight for one of the shuttles in the hanger bay that would take him to the Rubicon which will transport him to his next destination: Mithril Station. As he neared the shuttle he noticed that someone was already waiting for him. It turned out to be none other than Steve with a small smile.

"So you're really leaving?"

David sighed.

"Orders for a new mission I'm afraid, my assignment here was temporary after all. Besides you know how it is with us Centurions." he replied wryly.

"Yeah, never staying in one place for too long." Steve chuckled. "Still just be careful and try not to get yourself killed."

"Hey! That's my line pal!" David retorted playfully.

The two friends shared a laugh at that. After a while they both calmed down and Steve extended his hand.

"Good luck."

David clasped his hand with Steven's. "Thanks. Give my best to rest of the squad will you?"

"You got it." promised Steve.

With that David released Steve's hand and boarded the shuttle that would bring him to his destination.

….

Three weeks later

Epsilon Sector

Undisclosed system, Mithril Station

David walked through the hallways passing by other personnel on his way to meet the admiral. As he walked by a window he stopped in front of it to take a moment to look at the numerous facilities that were within a large cavern. When he first arrived in the system on the Rubicon a few hours earlier he got a good look of the station before they docked. Mithril Station was a fairly large complex built inside and on a large hollow asteroid with docking, refueling, and repair ports for any ship that needed quick relief. The station also served as a hub and a haven for Intelligence operatives returning from deep cover assignments. Its purpose was furthered reinforced by its location which was deep within the system's local asteroid field.

What made this particular asteroid field so special was not only the high density of the field but the system's twin Flare stars. Normally a system with a single Flare star was dangerous enough due to the random outbursts of solar flares that occur over its surface which then disrupts energy patterns and harms organic life in rest of the system. So setting up a base of operations in that kind of environment was difficult to say the least, but trying build a station in a system with two Flare stars was suicidal. However this wasn't the case here as the asteroids that made up the field were composed of several minerals that acted as natural filter which protects the station's inhabitants. It also produced a unique form of radiation that refracted a ship's sensors and scanners rendering the station practically invisible. Unless of course you flew right in front of it or already knew where to look. And even if an enemy ship did somehow come across the station they would it being protected by mines, automated defense platforms, and a small but heavily armed fleet of ships.

David continued to stare out a while longer before resuming to his destination. He soon entered a reception area and spotted a familiar face behind a desk.

"Jarvis?! Jarvis Feller?"

The man looked up at the sound of his name being called out. Jarvis Feller was an icy blue-eyed older man of twenty-eight with a slim figure and lengthy dirty blond hair that was barely within regulations and a full beard to go with
it. Jarvis was also David's former handler for a while until he was reassigned though he didn't say where.

When Jarvis saw David he gave him a broad grin.

"David Angelus! How have you been? I hear you've made Lieutenant."

David nodded.

"I've been alright and yes I made Lieutenant not too long ago. When did you find out about that?" he asked suspiciously.

Jarvis smile didn't leave as he shrugged his shoulders. "Well I know that you Centurions go on a lot of secret missions and all but promotions aren't exactly classified. Plus you know me, I have my sources and it helps that I'm an aide to an admiral."

David blinked.

"Your Rear Admiral Gardner's aide?" David asked surprised at this.

"Yeah, it's really not that bad once you get used to all the… paperwork." he replied with a shudder at the mention of paperwork. Jarvis had never been much of a desk jockey but apparently found a way to cope with it.

"Speaking of the admiral…" Jarvis started suddenly turning serious. "You're to see him about the mission?"

"Yes, but I was just told that I was to report to Admiral Gardner to be briefed. Do you know anything about it?" David asked interested in learning what this was all about.

"Not really, but the old man was looking for someone to take it. I kind of brought up your name and he seemed all for it."

"So you basically volunteered me for this?" asked David raising his eyebrow in ire.

"Don't worry this one shouldn't be much trouble for you. Trust me this mission will be different."

"That's what you said about the LAST mission you "volunteered" me for."

The last mission that David was referring to was one that involved eliminating a pirate's nest on an old mining station that the pirates were using as a base of operations to conduct raids and smuggle illegal contraband. Though David was successful in eliminating the pirates, the mission itself had a nasty little twist.

"In my defense that mission turned out to be a surprise for all of us!" he quickly said raising his hands at the sight of David's irritated expression. "Besides how was I supposed to know that those crazy pirates were smuggling an oversized and ARMED genetically mutated monster!?"

David just rolled his.

"Alright fine, but you'd better be right about this one." he warned. "Can you point me to the admiral now?"

"Sure, his office is down the hall, third door to the left. We both came a long way for this so he's expecting you soon. I wouldn't keep him waiting." Jarvis informed him.

"Thanks, take of yourself." David said with a smile.

"You too! And good luck."

At that David nodded and went to meet the admiral. After arriving in front of the office that Jarvis had indicated he reached out and pressed a button and a door chime sounded.

"Enter."

David did so as the door parted and got a look of the interior of the office and its sole occupant. The room itself was as much as David expected a temporary office to be; sparsely decorated with little to no ornamentation or personal possessions save for a flag of the Terra Novus Alliance and some datapads that laid on top of a desk next to a holographic computer that was in use. Which brought him to regard the sole occupant of the room currently sitting at the desk, Rear Admiral Arthur Gardner. Admiral Gardner was a tall broad shouldered man who appeared to be in his late fifties and wore a uniform like David's but with an assortment of medals pinned on the left side of his chest and wore a cap bearing the Alliance symbol that somewhat covered his bald scalp. His eyes were steel blue that held a sharp gaze with a faint scar over his right eye which gave him overall an intimidating appearance.

David immediately stood at attention with a sharp salute.

"Sir! Lieutenant Angelus of Centurion Special Ops reporting for duty!"

The admiral looked up from the terminal and greeted David, to his surprise, with a small smile.

"At ease Lieutenant. I see that you've already met my aide." he observed while returning David's salute.

"Yes sir, he used to be my handler a while back. Sorry if I kept you waiting sir." apologized David no longer saluting.

Admiral Gardner chuckled at this.

"Relax son, catching up with an old friend is hardly grounds for a reprimand." he assured with a casual wave of his hand. "When he mentioned your name I recalled meeting you once before. Three years ago wasn't it?"

David nodded.

"About three years ago yes sir. It was during a debriefing after I found my way back from the Koprulu Sector then again at an award ceremony." David replied remembering the reports and answers he had given to his superiors in both the Alliance Command and Intelligence on Koprulu. Then attending his award ceremony where he received his award from the rear admiral and was later invited to join the Centurions.

"That's right you received the Order of Nova that I personally awarded you with." Gardner recalled aloud.

"I'm surprised you remembered sir."

"You weren't easy to forget. A promising young soldier who performed above and beyond the call of duty under extraordinary circumstances." praised Gardner.

David gave a smile.

"Thank you Admiral. But I don't think you ordered me here to reminisce."

"No. Tell me, how much where you told?" asked Gardner with a serious expression.

"Not much sir. I was only told to report to you for debriefing and that you needed someone for a mission."

The admiral nodded.

"I apologize for all the cloak-and-dagger Lieutenant but given the nature of this mission, it was best to keep it out of prying eyes." he said solemnly.

"And what exactly is the nature of this mission sir? What's this all about?" David asked respectfully though privately he was eager to learn what was going on.

After a moment of silence, David started to wonder if he went out of line but that concern subsided when Gardner signaled for him to take a seat which he did. Then the admiral pressed a button on his console that emitted a faint electronic buzz which David knew was the sound of the room's security systems activating which would disable any surveillance devices.

Admiral Gardner then looked at David with his hands clasped in front of him.

"What I am about to tell you does not leave this room understood?" he asked sternly.

David nodded silently in affirmative.

"Four weeks ago one of our scout ships detected a signal that suddenly started broadcasting from a planet in a remote system of this sector. They analyzed the signal and found out that it belong to an old colony ship from the Frontier Colonization Era, the Ikazuchi. When they went in to investigate they also detected a faint energy signature coming from the same planet and reported their findings. Intelligence got a hold of a local contact and his Intel confirmed both the presence of Ikazuchi and identified the source of the energy signature to be what we already suspected."

Admiral Gardner paused for moment and stared at him like he was about to reveal a galactic revelation. "It was a Paksis Pragma….the third and final Paksis." he said in a voice that was barely above a whisper.

David's eyes widened.

The Paksis Pragma was a massive unknown crystal that was discovered on Earth after it arrived from space over a hundred years ago. The scientists who examined it learned that it radiated immense power and had the potential to become a new source of near unlimited power for Earth and all of Humanity on other colony worlds. Many even believed that would further the search and advancement for more powerful, efficient, and cleaner energy sources.

Though Humanity had many colonies in and outside the Solar system, humans have always been driven to learn what was beyond the next horizon and the discovery of the Paksis was no different. With renewed vigor the scientists further studied the Paksis and soon discovered the means to split its energy and from the primary Paksis created the first Paksis Core. Utilizing this new Paksis Core a fleet of colony ships were built to colonize new worlds with one of the ships to carry the Paksis Core which began the Frontier Colonization Era. With the establishment of this new era, as well as the seemingly unlimited use of the Paksis, many had celebrated for the endless possibilities that laid within their grasp. But like all things of great power when there are people who would use it for a noble purpose, there were just as many people who would use it for more sinister means.

One scientist fearing that the Paksis would fall into the wrong hands divided its remaining energies into two Paksis Cores. The second Paksis Core was given to like-minded people and was hidden away from those who would misuse it. But when the scientists tried to hide the third Paksis Core himself, he was killed by agents of the factions and nations who wished to control it. War soon broke out and not long after disaster struck when a faction attempted to use the third Paksis Core as a weapon against the others. An accident occurred which resulted in millions of deaths and the surface of the Earth was rendered inhabitable.

Realizing that the scientist's worst fears had come true and knowing the disasters that was to follow, those who had been entrusted with the second core gathered as many people as they could from Earth and the other worlds of the Solar system and left with an enormous ragtag fleet of ships that carried advanced technologies bringing the second core with them. Many years later, these people found the hidden world of Terra Novus and soon established the Terra Novus Alliance.

Seeing the look on David's face, Admiral Gardner nodded solemnly.

"I see that I don't need to tell you what this could mean for the war." he said, it was not a question.

David slowly shook his head.

The Harvest War. A few decades after they had settled Terra Novus and started colonizing other worlds or encountering inhabitants of other worlds, human or alien, the Novusians encountered a refugee freighter that was attacked by unknown vessels. After the attackers were destroyed the refugees revealed themselves to be survivors of a colony that came under attack by a fleet of vessels that were similar to the ones that attacked them which they dubbed "Harvesters". When a fleet from Terra Novus was sent to investigate they found wrecks of ships in orbit along with every city and settlement on the planet either destroyed or deserted. One of the Harvester wrecks held a data storage device that revealed a horrifying revelation about the origins of the Harvesters.

They were the survivors of Earth but they were no longer human and the remains of the fleet that the Novusians found were merely a small fraction of the many automated drone fleets that the Harvesters had sent to fulfill a heinous mission.

To harvest the organs of every other human in the galaxy.

And after engaging in several battles with the Harvester fleets, the Harvest War began which has now lasted for more than half a century.

"If we can get a hold of the Ikazuchi's Paksis Core and combine it with our own we could not only win the war but also…" began Gardner.

"Reclaim Earth…" finished David in awe of the possibility.

He regained his composure from his thoughts before addressing the admiral.

"But sir, on what world exactly is the Paksis Core located?" David asked urgently.

The admiral held a hand up. "All the necessary details you'll need will be ready for you to review. That is if you accept this mission."

David closed his eyes in thought for a moment they snapped open with resolution.

"For a chance to end this war, to save Humanity, and to restore Earth I'll gladly accept this mission sir!" David said with determination.

Gardner gave him a broad smile. "Excellent, I'm happy to hear it son. But before you get started there's something I'd like to show you."

As the admiral rose from his seat he motioned for David to follow after stood up from his. As the two walked into the lobby Gardner turned his attention to Jarvis.

"Mr. Feller, inform the eggheads down at R&D that the volunteer and myself about to pay them a visit. And tell them to roll out their special item." he ordered with a smirk.

"Yes sir!" Jarvis said with a smile of his own.

The admiral nodded and continued walking with David following while giving Jarvis a questioning look. Jarvis just smirked at him.

Though somewhat confused and wondering what this "special item" could be, David followed the admiral until they entered an elevator. The admiral pressed a button and the elevator started moving down.

As the elevator moved admiral Gardner spoke.

"Are you aware of new types of units that are recently undergoing mass production?" he asked curiously.

"I heard a couple of engineers talking something about Mechs but nothing definite. Why sir?"

"You'll see soon enough Lieutenant." Gardner replied with a chuckle.

Before David could ask what the admiral meant by that the elevator came to a stop.

The admiral exited the elevator with a perplexed David following closely behind him.

"Not long after you got back from Koprulu, the brightest minds from the Science and Engineering Divisions started analyzing the schematics on the Terran vehicles from the data you brought back." Gardner explained as they walked. "And although they developed the plans for some impressive units, we didn't have the time or resources to retool the factories to start upgrading or producing new units."

"But that changes now." he finished as they approached a set of heavy blast doors.

The admiral typed a series of numbers before placing his thumb and leveling his right over their respective scanners on the panel. After a moment the panel flashed green and the blast doors opened to a room that was pitch black. At the very moment the two of them walked in a series of ceiling snapped on in succession revealing an enormous hanger.

But more importantly what was inside the hanger.

David stared wide eyed at the different machines lined in neat rows opposite of each other in front of him. On the right were a variety of bipedal machines of various configurations while on the left were larger sleek humanoid machines with each holding different weapons.

As David continued to stare at the machines Admiral Gardner stepped forward and turned to face him.

"As you can see we've been quite busy in developing these new lines of war machines. On the right are the Mechanized Frames which were built to be heavy support for the troops on the field. While on the left are the Mechanoids which designed for more specialized warfare in multiple environments even in space." he commented as he introduced the bipedal and humanoid machines respectively.

"Both however are generally called Mechs as you've already heard. But the "special item" that I want to show you is just this way."

The admiral started to walk away with David shaking himself out of his stupor and quickly followed Gardner into a smaller adjacent hanger. When they arrived the only thing David saw was an unusual fighter that was floating slightly above the deck.

The fighter was about fourteen meters in length with sleek and narrow features with the ends of the level wings pointing forward alongside the cockpit and had a white, black, dark blue, and silver color scheme. It also appeared to have impressive weaponry as he spotted a few next to and under the cockpit and underneath and thin ends of the narrow wings. All in all, it seemed like a very formidable fighter.

"The NAMF-A001 Starhawk, a truly innovative design. It is armed with twin Proton CWIS's, duel Plasma Guns, a single Ion Railgun, two Swarmer Missile Pods, and two Particle Cannons." Gardner informed, pointing out the weapons located next to and under the cockpit and underneath and thin ends of the narrow wings respectively though he couldn't see the missile pods but he had no doubt they were there. "And as you might have noticed it is equipped with anti-gravity landing suspension along with the new Tachyon shields. But two of its more significant features are that its hull is composed of Duratanium alloy and its engines are equipped with a Transphasic Drive."

"Transphasic Drive sir?" David asked in surprise.

That piece of information blew David's mind away. Although he was surprised to hear that the Starhawk was made with Duratanium and had the new Tachyon shield installed, as both were usually given to larger classes of vessels, but to have a Transphasic Drive on something as small as a fighter left him bewildered. The Transphasic Drive was a new form of FTL that was developed to replace the old Warp Drive which allowed a ship to travel what would have taken months with the Warp Drive to a mere few weeks with the Transphasic Drive. But the Transphasic Drive was usually only installed on starships because of the enormous power requirements.

"You heard right Lieutenant. This beauty is capable of short range FTL and it's not the only one. All of our fighters and other attack craft are undergoing refit. Soon they will all have the ability to use FTL." remarked Gardner with a smile. "But that's not its best feature. The Starhawk's most unique feature is the ability to transform into a Mech."

Before David could ask the admiral held his hand up. "All the Starhawk's Mech specs will be sent for you to review."

"So what do you think of her?"

"She's a beauty Admiral." answered David as he looked at the Starhawk in appreciation.

"Good, because as of now she's all yours."

David blinked. "Are you sure sir?"

Gardner nodded.

"I can't think of anyone better to pilot this machine. Besides it was going to be assigned to whoever took this mission as the possibility of acquiring the Paksis is too important for anything less." The admiral said seriously.

"Understood sir! I just need to know how I will get to where I need to go."

"You'll be dropped off by the stealth frigate Void Shadow, which will be here within the week giving you plenty of time to get acquainted with your new machine. As for myself, I'll be returning to Jericho. There's still a war going on after all."

Admiral Gardner the held his hand out.

"Good luck son."

Inwardly David started feeling ominous.

"I've been getting a lot of that lately. Should I be worried?"

But outwardly shook Gardner's hand. "Thank you sir!"

With that the admiral left and David stared at the Starhawk, wondering what challenges his mission will bring.

….

Seven months later

Gemini system, Taraak

David sighed as he ate his meal, if of course what he was eating right now could even be called food. At the moment he was eating a bowl of nutrient pellets, the standard and just about the only food eaten on this backwater planet, known by Novusian Intelligence reports as Taraak. As he ate, he couldn't even begin to understand how the men on this planet could even stand eating this stuff.

"Even the crummy ration packs back home were heaven compared to this crap!" he reflected sourly.

He had arrived on the all-male homeworld of Taraak three days after he and his new Mech were dropped off via the Void Shadow near the edge of Taraakan space in the system of what the guys at Intelligence called the Gemini system, which this world was located in. After he arrived outside the city limits of Taraak's capital, he got in touch with the local contact that he was briefed about who turned out, to his surprise, to be an old man who seemed to be an ordinary farmer.

While staying at the farmer's house he dyed his brown hair black then applied the synthetic skin he was supplied with to make his light complexion to a much tanner one to match the locals. He finished his disguise by placing contact lenses over his eyes changing the color of his eyes' irises from light amethyst to dark brown. And with the old man's help, he forged some false elite citizen ID data in the planet's central database and core computers. It had been ridiculously easy to forge a false ID tag to make him look like a newly risen elite and one with the right amount of credentials to go places that would otherwise be inaccessible. He also learned a great deal about this planet's history as well as Taraak's new "flagship" the Ikazuchi, when he hacked into the central computer, bypassing several encryption systems with relative ease.

As far as he could piece together from what he remembered from history and the intelligence reports he was provided with as well as from what information he was able to find, the ship had been part of a colony fleet sent from Earth back in the old Frontier Colonization Era, which had separated due to "unknown circumstances", which was soon followed by the separation of the men and women. While the women settled on the semi-habitable world of Mejere, the men, most of whom were very young at the time, were stuck on this desert world with a wrecked ship. However despite all odds they had survived and over the decades built the male-only society of today. Though how these men even reproduced was a question that baffled him at first, until he found out that the men used advanced cloning facilities that used DNA from "partners" to populate their desert world.

As much as that particular thought sent shivers down his spine, he had to admit they did an excellent job despite their low technological level. They had the best chances of survival in a desert world with their sheer will, hardened resilience, and the necessary knowledge to live in it. Though, he had a great number of personal issues with the policies and attitudes of the people of this world.

One of which was the fact that the men of this world were too arrogant and prideful, those of the higher class treated the lower classes like they were nothing but insects, and the men in the lower classes were too pitiful to fight back. They just accepted their lot in life and didn't want to reach beyond what was there in their own little universe.

Another issue David had with them was their portrayal of women as blood-thirsty tyrannical monsters that feasted on the innards of their male captives. When he read the intelligence reports he received from Admiral Gardner concerning Mejere and Taraak he was somewhat confused. But when he saw it for himself, he was utterly bewildered. He knew for a fact that women, particularly the women of Mejere, didn't even remotely look like those innards-sucking and blood thirsty monsters of those propaganda films that were shown practically every day. Of course he knew a great deal about women, living on his home world of Terra Novus and having met a lot of other women, human or otherwise, during his career in the Terra Novus Alliance military. He also knew a thing or two about the "facts of life", the social and physical aspects of a relationship between men and women; and the fact that men and women could have children together.

He knew however that it was neither his place nor would it serve the purpose of his mission to mention any of this to the men of this planet. And even if he did then he would mostly likely be branded as a heretic by the men. He also knew for a fact that if he did try to tell them on how a man and a woman could have children together, not to mention the way it would be done, they would mostly likely freak out and their government would try to kill him so naturally he kept his peace for both his sake and the sake of the mission.

But David's biggest issue however was their war with the women in question; the men had no idea that they and the women of Mejere, the second planet of the Gemini system, were part of the same human race. The men just despised women and want to fight them, despite the fact that none of them had ever even seen a woman before in their entire lives, though the Mejerians certainly weren't much better off than the men here were. In David's professional opinion, this war was a complete waste of time, precious resources, and lives for both the men and women of the two worlds. He knew that what little resources that Taraak had should have gone instead into improving their society. Worse still was their regard to technology.

Whenever their scientists would discover new technology and principles, it didn't take long for those discoveries to be checked for any and all possible military applications. If said technology had no military benefits then it was either overlooked or cast aside, being seen as useless. A more recent example of this was the new Vanguard units that were newly developed. These machines were at least fifty five feet high and humanoid in appearance, and were designed to be an all-purpose combat unit; it was considered the pinnacle of Taraakan technology and design, following blue-prints from the colony's old homeworld of Earth though most aren't aware of that.

Ironically the blue-prints in question that the Vanguards were based on came from an old Earth frame that was designed for heavy duty vacuum mining and construction. Compared to his Starhawk, with all its abilities, power systems, technology, and state-of-the-art Terra Novusian weaponry, the Vanguards were like toys in comparison to his Mechanoid. David knew this because he had the chance to oversee the production of the Vanguards while taking a tour of one of the many factories that produced the machines. He was sorely disappointed whenever people said that the Vanguard had many fantastic weapons, all of which he noted to be both primitive and purely melee in function with names he didn't care to repeat. In concept the Vanguards were good, but they lacked the technological edge of the Mejerian military. As much as he wanted to point that out, he knew that it wasn't his place to interfere with this society's natural development.

Besides, he was already involved in a far more important war.

So once David had confirmed that the Paksis Pragma was indeed on the Ikazuchi, he made plans to leave this planet by insuring that he was assigned to the Ikazuchi's Vangaurd unit. Once he had done that, all he needed to do was to smuggle his Starhawk and gear onto the ship then he would locate and retrieve the Paksis. According to the mission parameters he was given, if he couldn't retrieve the Paksis then he would place a beacon on it and wait for an opportunity to slip away unnoticed, probably during the exhibition match that was scheduled to take place not long after the Ikazuchi's launch. After that a Novusian taskforce could later raid the Ikazuchi and seize the Paksis and plant evidence which would leave the Taraakan government to either blame it on Mejere or pirates.

He found out about the exhibition match when the Taraak Empire's High Command briefed himself and a few other elites of the plan to send out a task force fleet to deal with the female pirates that have been recently raiding supply ships for the past few months. He also knew that the Taraak military had every intention of using the Ikazuchi as a part of the taskforce, and that it was being outfitted into a command battleship in order to serve as the flagship of the fleet. He stored his Mech in a cargo container which was listed as spare Vangaurd components and using his authority as an elite, along with a little "incentive", he had it stored in a nearby empty hanger with an abandoned launch bay without the Taraakan higher up's knowing about it. All he had to do now was arrange a few measures to ensure his escape, play his part, board the ship, and if all went well leave without incident.

David slipped on his Taraak uniform and elite ID tag, gathered his supplies together, and made his way out of the apartment complex that he had stayed in near the city limits. It didn't take long for him to board the Ikazuchi when all he had to do was flash his elite ID and give his papers to get past the security surrounding the ship. He then proceeded in and began making final preparations for when the opportunity to escape arose. First he made sure that Starhawk and his equipment was in place, then he reprogramed all the security systems to either black out or have their video feeds placed in a loop and to shut down power to certain sections of the ship when he gave the signal. Finally he hacked the ship's central computer and left a virus that would cause the ship's weapons to malfunction and to override the hanger bay doors so they would open when he needed make his escape.

As soon as he was done he checked his watch and proceeded to where the orientation ceremony of the Ikazuchi would soon take place. On his way there, he arrived at an entrance to a hanger where a number of gun metal gray and faded brown patterned Vanguards were stationed; he decided to take a last scan of the cyclopean eyed, left shoulder humped machines for a while before moving on to his destination. As he walked David knew he would have to wait until the ship was in orbit over the planet, then when the ship was far enough from Taraak, he would carry out his plan, complete his mission, leave, and with luck make his back to Terra Novusian controlled space without incident.

"And if any unexpected problems come up, I can always change my plans and maybe use some of my other…'talents'.'' David thought with a sly smile.

...

Author's Notes: First chapter done! Now this story will later sometimes jump from third person or to one of the other characters in the story just to give you guys a sense of the story's progress but it will mainly focus on David. To give a more mental image of what the Starhawk's fighter mode is, its appearance is kinda of like the Archangel fighter off of the old PC game Tachyon: The Fringe. As for what its Mech mode looks like...well you'll just have to find that out later!