“Ready flight three report to your craft,” the call came out over the inter ship comm. The speaker sounded like nothing had happened yesterday, but you could look on the faces of anyone and see that we all knew home was gone. The spirit of the the crew was low before yesterday and now it has hit rock bottom... Or so we hoped.
The last images we got what was left of Earth Defense Force 20 midsize to smaller ships breaking away and leaving what was left of our home. As soon as the ships broke off and started leaving we could see bright flashes on the surface. Slicer knew there was no way everyone got out. He grabbed his helmet and walked out the door opposite the one he came in to yesterday.
The flight deck was busy as always, but there was a quietness to the clatter. Almost like watching a beehive with no buzz. He walked over to his interceptor an FS-210 Shadow. The Shadow was normally a fast agile fighter but never really had a lot of punch. That is until he got his hands on a Seeyk power core.
“She is all ready to go Sir,” Booster patted him on the back and winked. Booster was the typical mechanic, with greasy coveralls and a knowledge about the craft he fixed that would put the designers to shame. Booster was known for tinkering with every craft on the flight deck boosting engine, weapon, or overall ship performance. “Watch the power reading don't let the capacitors reach 280 or you will have a real mess to clean up,” with another pat on the back, that almost knocked Slicer over, and a chuckle he started to walk off.
Slicer called after him, “Why do you do it Booster? Whats in it for you?” He shrugged his shoulders and walked away.
Slicer walked around his ship inspecting and running his hands over the edges and smooth surface. The craft had a low profile with the wing shaped almost like a stingray in the ocean. The tips of the wings sat level with his chest. The thruster nozzles just at six feet off the deck. This little fighter had seen him through some tough times in the last few months. He had even given it a name, Casey. he put his helmet on and climbed the three steps up to the top of his ship. Checked the thruster ports and maneuvering vents. As he moved forward to the cockpit he looked over and saw that Smoke was about to climb in to his. As he slid down into the cramped cockpit he snapped his helmet down and secured it. With a slight hiss he new his suite was sealed but still checked to be sure.
“Good morning Slicer,” the sultry voice of his 'personalize' flight computer sang into his ears. “All systems are green and mission profile is uploaded and ready. Would you like to view it now?”
“No thank you Casey.” he responded as he went over his own pre-flight check list. “I know it is going to be 2 hours till we get to the rendezvous. I will view it en-route.”
Switching on his comm he set the frequency to flight deck control. “This is Shadow 21 all systems green, standing-by.”
“This is Shadow 22 all systems green, Sanding-by.” Smoke looked over at him and gave him a thumbs up.
“Shadow flight this is control moving you to air lock standby,” Several of the flight tech gave us thumbs up or salutes and the conveyor moved us towards a large door that was opening. This was the slow launch method. Typically in a combat situation the ships would be placed into air lock tubes with just the cockpit accessible and we would launch from there. But because this was not combat or an emergency that was not needed. Instead we were moved past the large inner door of the flight deck and waited for the outer door to open. “Shadow flight, Control, inner door secured begin start-up sequence.”
Flipping switches he could hear and feel the wine the rumble as his engines started up. Most of that would disappear once they remove the atmosphere from the air lock. “Control, Shadow flight all systems green and ready for vacuum.”
“Understood Shadow flight depressurizing now.” Watching the external sensor he could see the atmosphere turn to vacuum and when the outer door opened was the empty void of space. “Safe flight and good hunting.”
“YEEEHAW” Smoke called out as he slammed his throttles forward and shot out in to the emptiness. he took it just a little slower with just enough push to pull him back in his seat.
“Okay Smoke we have a long way to go,” he said as he brought his ship around. “Form up on me and and lets get this over with.” With out another word he brought his ship in just behind and to the right of mine. they turned back towards the Command Carrier 'Pathfinder', that was going to be their new home, slid his ship down and underneath to cruse along the bottom. Moving under at the amid-ship and moving along her keel for about 815 meters he veered to the left and out from underneath 285 meters from the bow. Looking back as he pulled away he could see the entire bulk of the 2 kilometer long .5 kilometer tall almost box shape ship.
After ten minutes we had moved to far for short range comm to be picked up by Pathfinder. “So what do you think will happen in the next few weeks.” Smoke asked.
“What the hell are you talking about, Panic?” Slicer snapped back in to his comm.
“Sorrrry,” Smoke said with emphasis on the R's. “Didn't need to bite his head of Sir. If you want quite for the next two hours that is fine by me.”
“No I am sorry Smoke. I did not mean to snap at you. Its just I have been out here since the beginning and have seen a lot of good people loose there life and I still don't know what started the war in the first place.”
“I didn't realize you have been out here since the first battle. You know I have only been out here for 4 weeks before that I was in the airshow squad touring all the earth bound bases.” Smoke did a barrel roll to show off.
“I will tell you on one condition.” he did a tight loop with slide to the right that put him right be hind Smoke. “Don't ever expect a plain barrel roll to save you life.”
Slicer started his story the way most people do at the beginning. “We had just jumped to Ferrum 2 the main mining station of the Orion arm. I had been on the Pathfinder for about two weeks. Just another rookie pilot getting stuck on escort duties. I was tasked with escorting three heavy haulers to the ventral grapplers of Pathfinder. As the last one was coming up they hit us. The Seeyk came in from behind the third moon of Ferrum 2. They had three ships to our one.”
“How did you survive,” The aw was evident in Panics voice.
“To this day I am not sure. We had known about the Seeyk for about 2 years but could not establish any real dialog with them because they refused to communicate, or could not communicate with us..”
“Then how do they communicate?”
“They are telepathic, I think. Not a trick we humans have mastered yet. So for all we know the whole time they were moving in on us they could have been asking for surrender or just telling us all to die. I would be more likely to believe the latter.
Pathfinder launched all her fighters and opened all her gun ports. Broadcasting the standard stand-down message three times. Their fighters came in fast and shooting. Of the 100 fighters we launched thirty of them bliped out in the first volley.”
“Three squadrons gone just like that. What where you doing?
He chuckled to himself. Slicer never thought of telling this story like this till he was telling his grand-kids. “I was still between the colony and the carrier. I listened to everyone's desperate fight. Once our pilots got organized they started to fight back. We started to gain ground. We have better ships and pilots they just have more.
Four Seeyk fighters started towards me and the hauler. I called for support but no one was able to break off. So I did the first thing that came to mind.”
“What was that did you turn towards them guns blazing?”
“No I attached a tether to the hauler hit my throttles to the max and told the hauler to do the same. Once we both hit max speed I released them and then turned to try and swing in behind the fighters hopping to use the hauler as a diversion, as bait witch never would work. he had not realized that during the sling shot maneuver he just attempted with the hauler the four fighters had split off in to two pairs. One set coming straight for me the other trying to flank me. I dropped two rockets then pulled up and over like I just did with you to come in behind the other two and opened up with my rail guns. After that I don't remember much except explosions and fighting for my life. By the time the recall order came in we were down to only twenty three fighters but two of their bigger ships where floating hulks and the other one was pulling back, and Pathfinder was venting atmosphere from at least eight different hull breaches.”
“If we beat them so bad why are they still attacking us.”
“I have asked my self that many times. It turns out that, that first attack was not the only one. They hit five other colonies that day with the same amount of force. They were testing our defenses and assessing our tactics and technology.”
It was from that battle that he was able to salvage the power core that was now in the heart of his fighter. After that battle many more came and always out numbered but never out gunned for some reason. They always seemed to have just enough to hurt us but in the end start pulling back. Now the Pathfinder for the last month has been doing drill after drill running pilots through sims and constantly training. Slicer couldn't help but think 'What the hell is going on. Earth is captured or a wasteland now and the human race was on the run. None of the colonies could support the number of refugees or the supply demands of the armada.
The next hour of the flight was spent in silence, Smoke was probably sleeping. So Slicer ran system checks and thought about his brother. He had been a grunt training for low G missions on the moon when earth was lost. He pictured him in his mind sitting with his friends laughing and joking like usual. Then the strangest feeling that this was not a memory or just imagination. He shook off the feeling and went back to system checks.