He'd been among them- fought around some of them- yet the stars in a clear night sky never seemed to lose their majesty. Reclining ins his hand made deck chair, holding an old fashioned beer in one hand and his wife's hand in the other, he greedily soaked up the awe inspiring view before him. The stars that filled the night sky of the world he decided to call home were so plentiful that one could- with a little effort- read by their light. It wasn't perfect like the light of the dual suns that shown during the day, but it was possible.
And it made for a helluva view. It didn't hurt that his wife loved stargazing as much as he did. They spent hours together on the nights that allowed watching the heavens slowly rotate past them. The star cluster Agius Moriarty was directly over top of them now, the hundred thousand stars that made it up were the brightest night time cluster visible. Bright enough that you could still see them with sunglasses on, and at certain times of the year, when the dual stars were at their farthest points from one another- Agius could even be seen during the day, like a faint cloud of light held between the two far brighter suns that gave Malarn its arid yet lively environment.
"My beer's dry," said Megan.
Todd looked over at her- the only thing in the universe more beautiful than an expansive star filled sky being her- and smiled.
"Well, I guess we should fix that."
He set his own beer down, and reached across his body to the cooler between them and scooped out another bottle for his love. Using his thumb, he popped the top off and handed it to her.
"Thanks, babe," she said, her smile visible in the ambient light of Agius.
He leaned back in his chair and was just picking his beer up when he saw something flash in Agius. His initial thought was that one of the older stars had finally chose that moment to go nova, but when the flash started drifting from left to right, he realized it was a ship. Not a big deal- he saw them translate from D-space all the time in the night. But when three more happened in rapid succession, his attention was truly got. He wondered absently if perhaps the Navy was doing some exercise, practicing a planetary assault. Again- not unheard of. Generally though, exercises like that were announced months in advance so that people outside of their homes, drinking beer and watching the night scroll by weren't unduly surprised.
Then he saw a shooting star- a long one- that broke into four others. It was heading magnetic west and the drop was steep. Tracing the line of fire it left in the night sky took it to one of the moving points of light that was a ship. The hairs on the back of his neck stood on end when another, and another, and another streaked across the nights sky doing the exact same thing- and all pointing backwards to the other ships. He glanced west toward Malarn's capital, New Jerusalem, and his heart froze in his chest when he saw the tell tale flashes of an orbital bombardment. Not of the city- that was against the Treaty of Nine- but against the military installations surrounding the city.
Other streaks crossed the night's sky. Some heading south toward Addlebend, others east toward Nordland. Nothing headed north toward Pices. Pices didn't have military assets.
"Todd," Megan's voice was filled with concern. "Will you loosen your grip. You're hurting my hand."
Distracted for a second from the nightmare unfolding in the night's sky, he loosed his grip and sat up, dumping the beer as he did.
"We need to get inside, Meg," he said as he suited actions to words.
"Why?" The question that left her lips was already in Todd's mind, though the context was different.
"Because Malarn is under attack, honey. We're at war."