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Sitting in their fighters, Amie and Solomon took as much time as they could to familiarize themselves with their new craft. For the most part the layout was like many other standard fighters. A central control stick linked to maneuvring thruster controls while in zero-g, quickly switchable to flight surfaces when entering an atmosphere. The top of the stick contained the laser cannon trigger as well as a toggle for torpedo activation and firing. To the pilots left was the main thruster control, a typical slider handle that was pushed forward to increase thrust, and back to reduce. While in space the pilot could hold a toggle on the throttle and pull back even further to fire reversing thrusters. A pair of pedals at the feet for zero-g strafing movement, and atmospheric rudder functions. The forward display was all digi-holo and capable of displaying anything the pilot needed at voice command. With the level of experience each pilot had, it wasn’t long before each felt comfortable enough to fly the ships. For most pilots, it takes a hundred hours of flight time in a new ship to be deemed combat ready. Solomon and Amie had about 15 minutes.

As they were continuing to get used to their ships, the lights inside the hangar bay flickered to a yellow hue while warning klaxons began to sound. All personnel inside the hangar began to retreat behind pressure doors except for a half a dozen men and women who were in vacuum suits. Once the last pressure door closed, the lights in the bay shifted again to a deep red and the bay doors began to slide open. Solomon flipped his ship to ship comm on and stated, “Here we go Amie! Most bogeys disabled buys the drinks!”. Amie replied swiftly, “Time to lighten your wallet again I guess.” Solomon chuckled as the launch hold indicator on his dash display flips from red to green. The voice of the hangr sergeant boomed in the ears of the two awaiting pilots, “LAUNCH! LAUNCH! LAUNCH!". With that both pilots slammed their throttles forward and blasted out of the hangar bay nearly simultaneously. As the fighters slipped quickly into the black, the pilots took a quick moment to test flight controls. Each rolling left then right, followed by pitching nose up then down. Solomon contacted Amie again, “These things are pretty responsive!” Amie simply chirped back, “Affirmative, let’s go get em.”

Solomon pitched his fighter up into a half circle, flying up over the top of the Trinity as Amie pitched down and passed underneath. The pilots, already having lidar locks on all five fighters, charged forward. “Alright, once we hit the first one our cover will be blown, so let’s go up and over to the two farthest away and take them out at the same time.” Solomon states. “Roger that.” Amie replied. Both fighters received a comm burst from the Trinity, “Once you hit those first two fighters we’re opening up on the cruiser. That should draw the remaining three fighters to us, and their backs will be vulnerable” Pheny said. “And that’s why she gets paid the big bucks ladies and gentlemen” Solomon quipped.

Amie kept her fighter low on the z axis, intent to come up from underneath her target, while Solomon stayed level with his target. The void between hunter and prey closed quickly and within a few minutes each fighters tactical display lit up signaling that they were in range. Targeting each enemy fighters engines they coordinated their initial volley of laser fire. Solomon gave a short count down, “Three, two, one, ENGAGE!”. The bright blue bolts ejected from the front of the stealth fighters in rapid succession, streaking across the void like branchless bolts of lightning. The Volma pilots were entirely unprepared and made no evasive maneuvers and within seconds the first two fighters were engine-less and dead in space.

Several seconds after hearing Solomons call to engage, Pheny starightened her back and ordered, "All tactical readings on the main display." Once the digi-holo display switched to tactical information she took a deep breath. "Open fire on the cruiser" She said. The ship vibrated several times beneath her as the cannons unleashed their payloads. She watched the display as six lines followed the projectiles on their flight, all six winking out upon reaching their target.

Priya spoke, staring at her console, “direct hits to the enemy vessel. They’re engines and communications are offline. The remaining three fighters are turning to intercept.” Just as Pheny had predicted. She gave no obvious sign of emotion at the report, and coldly issued more orders. “Navigation, calculate light speed out of here. Take us to the Iuskov system. Solomon, Amie, take out those fighters and get back on board. Once those fighters are back aboard, we jump.” Priya turned to Pheny with a slightly inquisitive look on her face, “The Iuskov system? isn’t that a ghost system?” she asked. “Exactly. We need a place where we can get to know this ship and formulate a plan without any incidental encounters.” Pheny said. Priya nodded in agreement and turned back to her station.

Pheny directed her attention next to the tactical station, “Nice shooting Lieutenant…”. She pausined for a moment to allow the crewman to fill in the blank, “Trelicorre, Sir. Lieutenant Tassos Trelicorre.” He said in a deep baritone while flashing a confident grin. Pheny stared at the man at the tactical station for several heartbeats. His piercing blue eyes staring at her from behinds rectangular glasses, a long, bridged nose and thin lips. His head shaved clean with a strong jaw line leading down to a chin covered with a goatee. Pheny felt a tingle of attraction in that moment, but quickly ushered it out of her mind.

Pheny spoke succinctly into the open com, “Finish these three off and let’s blow this popsicle stand!”. Solomon replied with a curt, “Yes Mam!”, Amie however could not help herself in her reply, “Don’t you dare blow up that popsicle stand until I GET A POPSICLE!!!”. As much as she tried to remain completely on task she couldn’t help but allow a short chuckle to escape her lips. “Take them out and get back here within 20 minutes and I’ll get you one of our “special” popsicles” Pheny retorted. “YES MAM!” Amie screamed in reply. Both pilots firewalled their throttle controls and came about to head straight for the remaining fighters. It was apparent from the wild flashes of superheated projectiles firing from the enemy ships guns that they still couldn't get a sensor lock on the Trinity.

Solomon adjusted his Z axis by one hundred meters lifting his fighter up out of the plane of battle and targetted the enemy on the right while Amie performed the opposite maneuver and lowered her ship by one hundred meters and targetted the left ship. With nearly perfect simultaneity both pilots pitched towards their targets and opened fire. Solomons bolts tearing through the aft section of his target. The enemies engine sputtering out and leaving it adrift. Amie's target suffered nearly the same fate as her salvo sheered the rear third of her targets fighter completely off.

Checking his sensor window Solomon noticed that the third Volma pilot must have had an impressive reaction time. The final enemy fighter was nearly lined up right behind him and closing. Several loud bangs filled the cockpit as the enemy managed to land several hits into his hull and red warning indicators bloomed across his displays. He rolled hard to the left and pitched his fighter upward trying to break the line of sight. He then attempted to roll back to the right but the ship didn't rerspond. Quickly looking over his display he learned his port side maneuvering thrusters were damaged by the enemies volley. Quickly opening his comm he reported the situation, "I've got damage to my port side maneuvering thrusters. I might not be able to get away from this guy".

Amie was the first to respond, "Sol, full reverse thrust, now if you please." Solomon complied and yanked his throttle control all the way back. The main engines of the fighter went silent and every forward facing maneuvering thruster roared to life. Solomon was slammed forward into his flight harness at the sudden change of momentum but he still managed to see Amie's fighter flit past his canopy, so close he felt a noticeable rise in temperature from her thrusters at full burn. Seconds later Amie let out an excited "Last fighter down, lets get back to the ship." Solomon let out a sigh and returned with "Ok, but I can only make left turns out here so it may take a minute." Amie quipped in return, "Don't take too long, you're buying the drinks". Nineteen minutes and fifty-six seconds later, Solomon and Amie were pulling into the hangar bay for landing.

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Daniel Boguslawski

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