Who knows if this will go on and how... this is what I have so far.

Chapter 1

A cloudy sky day could be seen displayed in the artificial dome through the window of one of the many Combat Bureau’s briefing rooms, almost matching the neutral tones of its clean, but dull furnishings. In a separated desk was sitting a formally dressed woman with the traditional Frontier uniform, typing in documents at an incredible speed. Without raising her eyes, nor stopping what she was doing, she addressed the several ARKS operators present.

Officer Cofy will be here in a moment, please wait.

As the named sounded, a brief silence followed by a low buzz filled the room. Armada felt butterflies in her stomach. It’s been a long way of hard training, patrolling and assisting, even a few close encounters with death, since joining the ARKS Program. What happens in meeting in person with a renowned high-rank officer such as Cofy could definitely mean something in the career of an ARKS operative, be it for the best or for the worst. While distracted in her own thoughts, the automatic door at the side opened, cutting the buzz, as the ARKS stood up almost in unison and saluted the two entering figures, one of them unfamiliar to most, a rather mature man with of tan skin, grey moustache and a ponytail. Cofy’s black uniform matched her speaking graveness as she faced the crowd.

Good morning ARKS, you may now sit down. For those of you who don’t know, this is Jan. Jan is a senior ARKS operator and a seasoned ranger. We are here today to update you on your current status as ARKS ops. Jan, please.

The man cleaned his throat before beginning in a slightly slow paced and almost friendly way. With a sign of his fingers, the wall monitor lightened up.

Good morning, fellows! I can see a few familiar faces there, which means you’ve been doing well, and that can make my day a lot better! We’ve been monitoring your activity as ARKS operators for a while, and I must say I’m rather impressed!

He turned his body and extended his arm towards the wide wall monitor, presenting a bunch of statistics and a whole more detailed information only a specialist could understand.

See this? Confirmed kills, assists, S ranks… Back in my days, I wasn’t better than any of you! So here’s the deal, Mrs. Cofy and I agree that you are ready to take on “Super Hard”, a decisive step for your ARKS career. Whatcha say?

Cofy had to clarify this:

“Super Hard” is the nickname we officers give for “Grade 4 permit”. I suppose that nomenclature is what you’re all acquainted with. So, what Jan is saying is that, according to your files, you are now eligible to take on the qualification test to obtain a Grade 4 permit.

It was indeed interesting news. Not only the wage was higher, but also it means no more boring patrols in remote areas in forgotten planets not even Falspawn are interested in. It also means having authority to make certain decisions, overriding the standard ARKS Protocol without being considered an outsider. At least that’s what Armada thought at first. Cofy continued:

Before I go on, let me be crystal clear: you don’t have to take this test, just as you didn’t had to for the lower grades. Unlike the other tests however, this test takes place in contested areas, and is by no means a controlled laboratory experiment. So in theory, anything could happen. You know how this is at this stage. Starting now, you have 72 hours to make your decision and report. For those willing to take part, Jan will be in charge to guide you to the next steps. If you have any questions concerning the duties of a Grade 4, please check your visiphones.

Though rare, there are some ARKS ops who choose to remain still at their rank for whatever reasons. Family, age, and even laziness are among them. Concerning that last item, it’s worth mentioning the vivid memory that every junior ARKS op has of the eternal Grade 2 ARKS op Hans, and how bad his manners towards junior ARKS were, and how he would change his tone as soon as the juniors matched his rank. The fact he’d be seen frequently next to the gate area monitors made him subject of much gossip and jokes. Does this guy even fight? Look at that beer gut and jokes like why Hans’ car has no mirrors? Because no one’s ever behind him are among the lightest ones in the junior repertoire. A true milestone, one could say. Jan concludes:

That’s High Command talking to you, you hear it, pals? Don’t let me down! Report within 72 hours. Got any questions?