PHASE I : PRELUDE - THE ENSURED PROPHECY ( 17 of 23 )
Ribbon of Honour
"In the midst of combat, hate is your mortal
enemy, fear is its
- Unknown WWI soldier
Carrier Battle Group Rapier (CVBG-R)
TCS Yorktown, CV-54;
The Nifelheim System
Union of Border Worlds
Arkrunner Three destroyed," chimed in the computer in the same monotone voice that it always spoke with. Major Adam "Foxxman" Brancer smacked the side of the cockpit. He looked off to his right and he saw the Vaktoth pouring streams of energy into an expanding cloud of debris. He targeted the Vaktoth. As he attempted to gain lock, the missile alarm blared and he instinctively dropped 3 decoy chaff and banked to the port hard.
The missile rammed into a decoy and detonated. Straining with the control stick, Foxxman pulled his sluggish fighter over and let loose a barrage of rockets on the Vaktoth hull. 6 Dragonfly rockets launched from their tubes and impacted on the shields of the Vaktoth, quickly overloading them in a frenzy of blue shield flickers and explosions.
Visible armor damage was present as Foxxman closed in and poured mass driver and laser blasts into the Vaktoth's hull. Armor burned off and the Vaktoth exploded. There was little time for victory because the Arkrunners were losing... Vaktoths have already destroyed seven of the twelve Tigersharks and only three of thirteen of the Vaktoths were eliminated. And the battle was turning sour quick...
Foxxman switched his targets to the closest Vaktoth as the Collision Alarm blared. Another Tigershark attempting to elude 2 Vaktoths rammed into the left wing and sending the Tigershark Into a spin. Everything went black.
* * * * *
Simulation Complete : Mission Failed
Kills : 2 Vaktoths
Killed by : Arkrunners 6, 2nd Lieutenant John "Diablo" Hinton
* * * * *
Foxxman was seething. He opened the canopy and stepped out of the cockpit. As he assumed, the other four Tigersharks quickly were destroyed. The Vaktoths with numbers in their favor, pounded the other plebes to dust. The other newbies quickly exited their canopies with sweat dripping down their foreheads. All except for the man in the 6th simulator. Jon Hinton had a grin on his face as he was stepping out of his cockpit/sim. It was Brancer's new mission in life to remove this irritating grin.
Foxxman walked up to Diablo and grabbed his flightsuit. "Do you think something's funny, Lieutenant? May I remind you that we are training here to stay alive!" Foxxman noticed that Jon was startled so he let go and regained his composure.
"Sir, I'm sorry about ramming you, it was just that I - " Diablo started to retort.
"That you were so concerned about getting away from the Vaktoth that you forgot that I was in front of you! If we were in real combat you and I would be dead."
"Yes, sir," Diablo replied.
Foxxman eyed the squadron as they clearly looked at him confused. He remembered his orders by the captain telling him to get his squadron prepared. Losing most of the squadron to transfers to the higher Panther and Vampire squadrons, he had to start completely fresh with newbie plebes fresh from the Academy. Foxxman truly wondered how these misfits ever got out of the Academy and sent to his squadron. Out of any other squadron, his squadron was cursed.
Foxxman told his XO, Captain Philip "Littlebear" Garza, to continue with the sims. Gaza was short Hispanic man with brown hair and stood at 5'1". He conformed by ordering the pilots to get back in their cockpits and Foxxman proceeded to walk to the bar. He needed a drink.
TCS Yorktown; Pilot Country
Union of Border Worlds
When he got to the bar, he looked out the viewports at the Yorktown's escorts, two Murphy-class Destroyers (the TCS Perez and the TCS Maribel), and one massive new Plunkett cruiser, the TCS Agincourt. The Plunkett took up most of the view. Although it wasn't big, it had more guns then any other ship in the fleet. The ship's laser turrets and plasma cannons looked impressive. He thought that those cannons would clearly take out any capship that thought to attack.
"This is a TNC Infoburst, Barbara Miles reporting," Foxxman looked at the screen with a smile. Miles, there from the end of the Kilrathi War through the Black Lance Incident was once again, giving one of her famous "infobursts," usually bad news. She seemed to age and wrinkles were present, but she still had the same blond hair as she always did.
"New Warsaw in the Dakota System was obliterated by an unknown alien force." This aroused Foxxman's attention. Could this be the reason we are going to Nephele? he thought.
She continued, "Footage of the attack was taken at the main port of New Warsaw earlier today," In the background, pulses of energy leapt down and flashes of light quickly followed. Pilots in the bar quickly gathered around the screen in interest. The camera tilted up and showed the beams pounding away at the city, blasts coming closer to the camera.
Soon, the camera went back to the stunned Barbara at her desk. "Confed has no comment on these attacks. More information will be released as soon as it's available."
Things will get worse in the times to come...
TCS Yorktown; Flight
Union of Border Worlds
Loki IV Jump point, The Next Day
"Arkrunner Squadron, you are go for launch after jump," said the comm officer, clearly bored.
"Roger that, Yorktown," Foxxman replied. Arkrunner Squadron was to launch after the Yorktown Battle Group jumped into Loki. A three-point patrol was to follow to scout for any oddities or pirates.
"Attention, this is the bridge," replied the comm, also said across the entire battle group. "We are jumping in T-minus 15 seconds, 14... 13... 12," Foxxman dreaded the feeling of jumping, the feeling of falling then suddenly coming back to normal, "3.. 2.. 1... Mark."
Foxxman stared out the front of the flight deck as the carrier flew inside the swirling vortex. A feeling of nausea followed and then they were spit out just as quickly as they entered.
"This is Yorktown Control. Launch!" ordered the bridge. Tigersharks launched out of the carrier in pairs. 4 pairs of fighters formed up in separate elements. Foxxman frowned as he noticed that Diablo's element was nearly destroyed as the two pilots nearly rammed each other.
"Charlie Element, you'll be with me and Alpha Two. That's Alpha Wing. Delta and Foxtrot Elements, Delta Wing, proceed to Nav Three. We will meet at Nav Two and proceed back to Yorktown," ordered Foxxman.
A stream of "rogers" and "yes sirs" quickly came back and Foxxman activated Autopilot.
Nav 1, Loki IV Patrol
Union of Border Worlds,
Alpha Wing disengaged autopilot at Nav One, what appeared to them was most disturbing. "Yorktown, we have discovered lots of debris. The looks of the remains of a Kilrathi corvette and what appears to be Border World fighters, Banshee-class, and some Dralthi IV. Doesn't look good."
"Roger that, Alpha Wing, we are sending an SWACS and some Piranhas to investigate. Continue your Patrol," Yorktown responded.
"Roger, Yorktown, proceeding on..."
"Yorktown command! We are under attack! We're at Nav Two. Four Vaktoth and two Dralthi are attacking! Requesting assistance!" Diablo's voice showing a combination of fear and excitement.
"Delta Wing, this is Alpha Wing, we're coming. Alpha Wing, proceed to Nav Two. Full burn," Foxxman ordered. Foxxman punched in the coordinates to Nav Two and pushed the throttle to afterburner.
"Sir, at full afterburn, we will have little fuel when we get there," chimed in a pilot on his wing, one of the newbies from the Academy. Lieutenant Armondo "Pound Cake" Mora.
"I know, but if we don't get there quick, Delta Wing's going to be debris, so move it!" retorted Foxxman.
Nav 2, Loki VI Patrol
Union of Border Worlds,
The F/A-105 Tigershark, while not a fast fighter, is what they say is the direct descendant of a F-86 Hellcat V. Housing 36 rockets, 8 missiles and a pair of each of charging Mass drivers and lasers, the fighter can be formidable. If flown correctly. In combat, the Tigershark had a distinct advantage over the enemy, the ability to charge its cannons so that a single shot could blow through a fighter's shields and shred the fighter to bits.
"I'm hit! Rear shields..!##!^ <Unable To Translate>," screamed Foxtrot Two over the comm, another newbie that just arrived from the Academy. A Vaktoth opened up with tachyon and particle bursts that shredded the rear armor of the Tigershark. The pilot managed to eject as a missile screamed into the back of the Tigershark and detonated. The Tigershark blew in large fireball of expanding gas.
"All fighters, break and attack - take those kitties out," blurted Foxxman, as he let loose a barrage of rockets out and immediately destroyed a Dralthi. The other pilots followed suit and soon, laser, mass driver, and rockets were flying everywhere, including a stray missile that Foxxman narrowly dodged.
"Furless apes, die by my talons!" screamed an annoyed Vaktoth pilot.
"This ape's gonna shove a rocket up your ass! Give me a call when you get to hell," and Foxxman blasted the Vaktoth with small mass particles and laser fire til the shields gave way then let loose a volley of 5 rockets. The armor was quickly blown off of the Vaktoth and it promptly blew up.
The other pilots followed suit and launched waves of rockets onto the hulls of the remaining Kilrathi ships. The last Dralthi's wing blew off and the Vaktoth's took a beating. Littlebear took his fighter and drew in behind a heavily damaged Vaktoth. His Tigershark spat blast after blast of laser and mass energy into the fuselage of the Vaktoth until it lit the fuel cell and blew up into a massive ball of flame.
"Hell yeah! Scratch one kitty!" blurted Littlebear as he did a victory roll. The Cats were completely destroyed and the space was clear. However, this came at a price. One of the Tigersharks was obliterated while two others were heavily damaged. One of the damaged ones managed to take two direct missile hits, so he was sparking fuel and debris.
"Yorktown control, this is Alpha Wing, we are returning home. What's left of Delta Wing will stay and protect Foxtrot 2's pod. Request SAR," Foxxman reported sadly.
"Roger, launching SAR now," Yorktown replied as Foxxman punched his autopilot.
The Cult of Sivar. An extremist group of Kilrathi pirates left after the Second Kilrathi War. Armed with a few sparse corvettes and multiple fighter squadrons, the Kilrathi still posed a threat. Yet, the Kilrathi Assembly, in part or in whole, might still become an ally in the things to come. Foxxman's memory went back to the battle at New Warsaw. The people who died...
There was still more death to come.