Front Lines

Plywood Fiend

Rear Admiral
I didn’t notice the contact behind us until it was too late.

Up until now, 1st Lieutenant Kate Wang had been faring better then me and Tieschowitz, at least that’s what I’d assume. From what I’d seen in the fleeting instants when she appeared in my VDU, she’d had far better luck dodging the flak fire then we had, and she always seemed to manage to keep in line with the carrier. Perhaps it was her single minded focus on it which doomed her.

As her ship passed into my field of vision, I saw gun shots baring into her rear shields, a lot of them. These weren’t from the dreadnought.

I banked left in an attempt to assist but it was too late. Two missiles sailed into the Longbow from behind and the ship went up in an instant.

We were dropping like flies.

Now the fear was beginning to show itself.

Don’t lose your head.

I tried desperately to focus on my duties and not give way to rage or panic. I switched my targeting display to the new attacker, and bit back a scream.

The word ‘Deathfang’ hung above the image of a Vaktoth. I’d heard about him, a Kilrathi ace as arrogant as he was dangerous, countless terran kills to his name, and Tieschowitz now appearing in his firing line. And his Vaktoth appearing in mine.

With barely a rushed glance at the display, I fired another friend or foe missile at the Vaktoth, and then pulled right to try and steer clear of the flak fire that was still coming at us.

He ignored the missile. It impacted on his shields causing such insignificant damage it was barely worth mentioning.

So I fired five.

He took more notice of these, he pulled up, and then to the right, it was hard to keep him in my sights.

Two missiles impacted, the others impacted on each other. After a moment his face appeared on my com screen. It was hard not to let my intimidation show.
“Just like the others.” He chortled disinterestedly, “Every ape that has challenged me I have sent screaming into the void. You shall be no different.”
Part of me wanted to respond, wanted to tell him where to shove it. But I couldn’t. My mind had turned to stone. All I could do was try not to get hit.
His rear turret was firing at me; it wasn’t the usual meson turret either. I was having a hard time avoiding the shots from it.

When I saw Jake Coben’s face appear on the com screen, it took me a while to realise who he was. I remember feeling relieved; at least the Hermes was still there.
“The Archangel has taken a torpedo hit,” He said, his voice and face nervous, “She needs to fall back. We need every last one of those bombers gone guys; we can’t lose many more ships.”

There was nothing I could do to help.

Deathfang had afterburned away from me, from what I could make out, he looked like he was turning round, he was preparing himself for a run at me.

The distance between our ships began to close suddenly. It was closing at a rate which seemed unnatural. I resisted the temptation to get out of his way. I’d have better luck playing chicken with him. I’d get some shots into him, and he didn’t seem like the type to sacrifice himself through a collision.

Tieschowitz got there before me though.

Streams of gunfire from his longbow, along with a missile slammed into the Vaktoth’s ventral shields. Deathfang pulled up and moved himself out of Tieschowitz’s firing range.
“I’ll keep him busy.” He said, his voice betraying his intimidation. I couldn’t blame him for it, “You get to that carrier, destroy it at all costs.”
“Right,” I replied, my vice sounding hollow in my ears, “Good luck.”
“To you as well.”

I swung my ship back around to face the carrier and narrowly avoided colliding with the lead ship of a second wing of bombers. This was the wing launched from the carrier. I thought they’d been sent to deal with us, but they ignored me, save for a few failed shots from the rear turrets. They were going after the cap ships.

The carrier was almost in torpedo range. Moments after I hit my afterburners, the flak fire from the H’varkann abruptly died out.

Did we get it?

No, I’d just moved out of their firing range. Still, this made my life easier.

The pre lock chime began to sound, and I soon found myself having to dodge a second load of flak fire from the Bhantkara. Dodging this lot was harder considering I had to keep the ship in sight to maintain the lock.
“Adish” Tieschowitz’s transmission was garbled, his ship had taken damage. “I can’t…” The next part was static; I could only make out a handful of words, “He’ll be coming after… soon… Make sure you get…”

Then the transmission cut out.

In my rear view display, I noticed the briefest hint of an explosion.
“Now ape, your comrades are gone, you are to die alone by my hand.”

Maybe, I thought, But first things first.

The lock chime sounded, and I fired two torpedoes.

I swerved away, hoping to get the flak fire to concentrate on me instead of the warheads. I swung my ship back around so that I was facing Deathfang. I was almost certain at this point that I was going to die, but I still had something to do.

Despite all my expectations, the torpedoes reached their target. A huge explosion punched vast chunks of the hull out into space. It was a beautiful sight.

Come on, you’ve almost got it.

I swung my ship back around, I didn’t care about Deathfang anymore. Maybe if I took the carrier out, his C.O would be suitably convinced that he’d failed to defend it and would order him to commit zu’kara.

I doubted it, still, you can dream can’t you.

The pre-lock chime sounded again. As did my lock light. I jettisoned decoys but made no attempt to evade the missile, this was too important. I was too close.

I honestly don’t know whether it hit or not. I was too preoccupied with the gunfire ripping my rear shields away.

Once they’d gone down, my armour vanished, I tried to pull away but my engines were the next to go. I was dead in the water.

I guess that will have to do, I told myself, I’m sorry Torrent.

As a faint hiss behind me told me that I was venting atmosphere, I lunged forward and with both hands pulled at the ejection cord.

To be continued.

Plywood Fiend

Rear Admiral
Thanks again to all readers and commenters. Though it’s only a few lines, I should point out for disclaimer purposes that a part of this chapter is taken from the WC3 script. You’ll know it when you see it.

Chapter 17: Bar fight

Razor’s perspective

Oasis station was aptly named.

Beyond the stained windows lay the brown, endless deserts of Brimstone 2, along with a number of volcanoes that seemed to be perpetually hurling clouds of shit into the air. Outside, the air would have you coughing your lungs up for days if you were exposed to it for more then a few hours, and the scenery was about as picturesque as a cobweb.

The station on the other hand was the polar opposite of the hell hole it was placed on. Large numbers of exotic plants adorned bright, cheery looking walls. Numerous entertainment systems were built in to the bars and quarters of the station’s personnel, they even had a live musician playing in the mess hall every other day. It seemed Confed was taking care of those that it had banished to this brown rock.

Personally I hated it. But that might have been to do more with the situation and not the surroundings.

Before the war heated up in this area of space, I imagine this posting was a decadent one. With the war effort and the front lines many systems away, all these people would have to do is deal with passing transports and send out the occasional patrol wing through the system.

Now, to say things were tense at the base would be an understatement. When news of the Kilrathi incursion into the system reached the base, moral took a spectacular nosedive. It was rumoured that ten or so people had been arrested for trying to stow away on the evacuation transports.

I didn’t know if it was true, but I had a feeling it was. There were over 5000 people serving at this base, those numbers would make it easy for potential weasels to slip away without being immediately missed. (Or so they presumably thought.) Also, to the best of anyone’s knowledge, there was no great plan to destroy the H’varkann, and even if they had known, they probably wouldn’t have been too optimistic about it.

It had been decided not to reveal the plan to anyone on this station, save the base commander and her XO. Basically, we weren’t sure how many Retros we had lurking about. If they were working with the Kilrathi, they could potentially compromise the entire operation. Again we didn’t know if the two sides were working together, but it was common knowledge that the Kilrathi had supplied the Retros with ships before, as a means to an, well, as a means to our end.

Whatever the situation was, the less the Retros knew, the better it was for the rest of us.

Anyway, the second of my two patrols for the day had ended and I was passing the time away in a secluded corner of ‘The Brimstone brewery’. A refreshingly unpretentious bar which unlike the other two, boasted no frivolities and didn’t have any pesky plants around. When I’d had breakfast earlier this morning in ‘Serena's Hideaway’, I’d spent most of the meal battling with overgrown leaves of a McAuliffe spider plant. Which, for those who don’t know, can grow to be as big as a Longbow.

I hated it, I hated sitting on this comfortable station doing nothing but fly eventless patrol missions and listen to the news in bars like this one while elsewhere my friends and colleagues were soon to be fighting for their lives against overwhelming odds. Assuming of course that they weren’t doing so already.

My eyes clenched shut and I drew a slow breath. I’d tried not to think about Salamander, but I couldn’t help myself, and I owed him better then that. God knows after all we’d been through together I couldn’t just force myself not to think about him now.

We’d always known that something could happen to us at any time, and that was a reality we’d always tried not to let get in the way of our relationship. There was nothing we could do about it after all, so why worry about it?

But things were different now; because I had to wait on the sidelines waiting for a Kilrathi attack which may or may not come, while Salamander went up against a Kilrathi dreadnought, plus its escorts. And I knew he’d probably die. I knew he might be dead now. But I didn’t know for sure, and that, alongside my worry for him, was killing me.

My eyes snapped to the closest overhead terminal where Barbara Miles was whittling speaking. I moved myself to a table closer to the speakers so that I could hear over the chattering of other bar patrons. I didn’t particularly care what she had to say, but I needed some kind of distraction. As I moved closer, her ever annoying voice began to push through the background noise.

“…have again pushed the envelope on the ‘bleeding edge’ of technology with the roll-out of the new Excalibur fighter. Its advances range from superior ground-fighting capabilities to enhanced weaponry and acceleration design. The Excalibur was designed specifically to out fly and outfight the. . .”

Her words died away as my attention turned to the display behind her. On it, a 3D image of a truly beautiful looking fighter revolved continually, displaying all sides of the ship and occasionally highlighting cannons and other systems. A list of specifications lay next to the image but it was too small to make out anything specific.

I’d been hearing a lot of talk about a new Confederation fighter that was close to mass production, however that was pretty much all I’d been able to hear. There might have been an update of Joan’s fighting spacecraft available in my inbox, but what with impending Kilrathi attacks and temporary reassignment, checking my email wasn’t high on my list of priorities.

From what I could see, the Excalibur looked like a new heavy fighter, possibly a replacement for the Thunderbolt. God knows it was about time that piece of junk fighter was put out to pasture. I could make out six guns, but I didn’t know make they were. By the looks of things, it could also carry no shortage of missiles. At the time the most salient point about the ship was that it looked nice. Briefly I wondered who Trent would choose for the new squadron when the Hermes got its first shipment of these beauties.

There would be a squadron, I told myself once again; it didn’t help, but I said it anyway. Just as there would be a Hermes when this operation was over.

To my disappointment, the Excalibur vanished from the screen. Miles then went on to present the weeks KIA report.

I looked away. If the worst had transpired, the names of the dead from the Hermes wouldn’t be up there, and selfish though it may sound, I didn’t want to see a list of the dead.

“Mind if I join you ma’am?” Said a surprisingly loud voice from above. I looked up to find Captain Harry ‘Ditch’ Finchley. Another ‘Fire Wings’ pilot from the Hermes. We’d all been sticking together for the most part since we arrived. The majority of the base’s personnel weren’t too happy to see us. Oh no one had said anything to that effect, but you could see it on their faces. The local Sabre pilots, (the base hadn’t been blessed with modern fighters, not that I have anything against the Sabre), anyway, they objected to us coming in and upstaging them, (as they saw it). The rest of the base’s personnel felt that we should be fighting alongside the rest of the Hermes’ pilots instead of sitting down here waiting to be of some use.
“No, go ahead.” I replied, pushing out a seat for him.

Finchley was a wiry man who looked like he’d been holding back the urge to cry since we’d arrived. I couldn’t blame him. Like me, he’d left a loved one back onboard the Hermes, A 1st Lieutenant Nathan ‘Flute’ Lloyd.
“Just got back?” I asked him.
“Yeah,” He replied with sudden enthusiasm, I think he’d wanted me to ask this, “We ran into a wing of Dralthi at our second nav point.”

I raised an eyebrow; this kind of news was something I normally heard from rookies, some kids will blather about their first kill for weeks afterwards. Once you got older you begin to realise that one, individual kills like that don’t really matter, and two, no one really cared.

He caught the look and his face shifted to form an expression of embarrassment.
“Well that’s not really the point, what I mean is.” He paused, exhaled and tried again, “One of them blurted out something about vengeance, he sounded crazy, even for them, and the way he was flying... You don’t think, maybe, well, you don’t think he was from one of the H’varkann’s escort ships do you? I know Trent sent some of our guys to take them out, maybe they got one of them, or all…”

I tuned out at this point as he started rambling. I guess it was possible, although he might be trying to avenge the death of a former wingman for all we knew. It certainly wasn’t the H’varkann that he was angry about. We’d know if that had blown up.

Plywood Fiend

Rear Admiral
“It would make sense.” I replied.

He opened his mouth to say something else, then closed it and looked at the table. For a moment we just sat quietly.
“I can’t take this.” He said after a moment, “Listen to me, I sound like a fucking cadet. I…” He trailed off and pushed out another long breath.

I should be out there with him, I finished silently for him, I should be out there fighting instead of waiting to hear he’s gone. And I’m clinging to whatever good news I can, even if I have to make educated guesses because it’s the only hint of hope I can grab at.

I reached out a hand and placed it on his shoulder.
“Listen to me,” I said, trying to sound both forceful and compassionate at the same time, “He isn’t dead.”

He bristled, probably annoyed that I’d latched on to the reason for his anger, or because I was bringing it up. I searched my mind, trying to come up with some sort of quasi-original comforting words, but instead I had to settle for pushing him to the floor.
“What the…?”

Initially, no one seemed to notice them, everyone was too caught up in their own activities, and the guns weren’t really that loud. It had been pure luck that I’d been facing the entrance.

The shot raced through the spot where Finchley had been sitting and burned a hole into the wall behind me.

Another shot had left one man with a gaping hole in his gut. The person who’d been sitting next to him let out a short ear piercing scream at the sight. This alerted anyone who hadn’t already noticed to the presence of the five or so people who were killing everyone they could get a clear shot at.

Another shot raced past my head and I threw myself behind the table. I tried to push it over to form some sort of barricade, only to find that it was fastened to the deck.


“What the hell is going on?” Finchley shouted for both of us. I don’t think the fact we were being shot at had fully sunk in for him yet.

I looked around me, trying to find some place which provided better cover. The only thing I could find was the bar, and that was about twenty feet away. Anyone who made a run for that would instantly become target practice.

A third shot sailed overhead. From behind me I heard a pained grunt, my head snapped around and I saw a youngish looking woman with a smoking hole in her neck fall backwards onto the table behind her.
“Infidels!” Came a shout from the direction of our attackers over the noise of the screams and gunfire, “Show yourselves, accept the punishment that your decadence and technological corruption has brought…”

The spokesperson then ‘oofed’ heavily. I risked a glance over the table and noticed that someone, a tall man built like an Enyo desert rhino, through a truly insane move had snuck up behind the gunmen and engaged them with nothing but a chair.

Having said that, he seemed to be doing alright with it, soon after knocking the preacher to the ground, he hurled the furniture at three of the remaining attackers, it was pretty clear now that we were dealing with Retros.

With one hand he reached down to the floor and hoisted up the gun of the man he’d knocked down and fired two rushed shots in the general direction of the Retros who by the looks of things were still trying to organise themselves.

One went down, screaming and clutching at the crispy entrails that were falling from his gut. Another was grazed on the shoulder, but this didn’t seem to stop him.

The would be hero seemed to have more sense then I thought. As the Retros seemed to be on the verge of recovering enough to return fire, he threw himself behind an illuminated menu display which was built into a roughly 6ft high outcropping from the floor. A few gunshots followed him, causing a picturesque shower of sparks to fall from the display. It occurred to me that this man was probably an off duty marine. Shame there weren’t more of him.

Two more people were rushing over to try and attack the Retros, but it was too little, too late. The first one took a shot in the chest before he was even close. The second one managed to jump one of the Retros, this one a woman who looked like she was snarling with rage, probably at being challenged by an ‘infidel’.

Just as it seemed that this ‘holy warrior’ might go down, a second Retro smashed the butt of what I could now see was a rifle into the face of the doomed Confed woman. As she hit the floor, her face now stained with blood, he fired once into her midsection.

There was a second or two in which nothing happened, and then they started firing again.

There was less gunfire this time, I hazarded a glance and discovered that two of the enemy had moved off to cover the room’s sole entrance, (not including the window.)
“Intruder alert!” Boomed the intercom at last, “Armed human intruders have been sighted on levels 1, 3, 4…” The speaker read off from a long list of levels which no one really listened to. I don’t think he mentioned ours. Not surprising since no one here could get to a com system and call for help.

“Fire in the hole!” Screamed someone behind me.

Even if you’re not a marine, it doesn’t take much sense to figure out what to do when someone chants these magic words. I threw myself to the floor, placed my hands over my head and waited for the deafening sound of an explosion.

For a few moments everything seemed to stop, the gunfire had died out. There were panicked shouts coming from the direction of the Retros.

And then I heard the sound of a glass hitting the floor.

It took me a few seconds to work out what had happened, it was a decoy. The new wave of Confed marines or whoever they were had hurled an empty glass at the Retros as a distraction. They were trying to buy themselves time to get up close.

I stayed on the floor, it seemed safer. I lifted my head to try and hear what was happening. Seven or eight people behind us were charging at the Retros. At the same time, the man hidden behind the menu display had reappeared and was firing into the disorganised hostiles.

By the looks of things, the Retros at the door were busy trying to shoot at the people charging towards them, only to be hindered by gunfire. The other Retros had fallen to the floor, still awaiting the explosion from the ‘grenade’.

One of the Retros by the door took a shot in the chest, fell against the wall and slid down it. The other now seemed to be firing blindly, panic was probably taking a hold of him. One of the new attackers took a shot in the leg, but that was as bad as it got. This Retro soon went down after a well aimed laser blast caught him in the face.

The other two Retros seemed to have figured out what was going on and were trying to pick themselves up, but they soon went down again as a large number of pissed off Confederation servicemen and women landed repeated kicks on them.
“Alright people that’s enough.” Said one of them after a few moments, “They’re both out of it. Knife, Zach, Flail, Perry, search ‘em and get ‘em out of here.”

I forced out a sigh of relief and pushed myself to my feet.
“Attention!” The intercom boomed again, “There is a heavy Retro presence on level 6. We are also detecting inbound Kilrathi fighters. All available marines and pilots are to assist immediately.”

If the Kilrathi are here, that means they must have gotten past the Hermes.
Not necessarily, this could be a...
Look we don’t have time for this!

With that last thought, I turned to the exit and sprinted.

To be continued.

Plywood Fiend

Rear Admiral
Thanks again to all readers.

Chapter 18: Goliath part 3

Salamander’s perspective

The first of the Paktahn ripped apart under the constant lashing of my cannons. The other three continued on their way as if nothing had happened. They seemed determined to get to the Hermes and her escort ships. Maybe the Kilrathi had worked out what the Hermes was planning, and what could happen if all went well. Maybe the Kilrathi bombers were just getting overconfident what with their vastly superior numbers.

I’d been trying to pull back to the Hermes since the Archangel had to pull back, they’d need every ship they could get to take out the incoming bombers. Every time I tried to pull back though I seemed to attract the attention of a passing Dralthi or Darket wing. Thereby causing me to waste time dealing with them. This was time I couldn’t afford to waste.

I’d been lucky that the latest Paktahn wing had passed right by me. By the looks of its course I’d guess they’d came from the Bhantkara. It seemed that the wing from Adjudicator squadron that was tasked with its destruction hadn’t met with much success.

Adish is part of that wing.

That’s enough!

I pulled my ship around and tried to chase the wing of bombers, only to find the path blocked once again, this time by two Dralthi. I considered trying to get passed them but doubted I’d get very far; especially when the incoming missile alarm sounded.

I released a decoy, pulled my ship downwards and charged, hoping all the while that there would be enough distance to get underneath the missile.

After a few seconds the lock alarm died out, it seemed it had worked. My rear turret sprang to life and started landing shots into one of the two Dralthi.

I pulled my ship around, only to receive a face full of cannon fire. I pulled to the left but not before releasing a friend or foe missile at the Dralthi on the right.

Its shields were already partially damaged by me rear turret. The missile I noticed caused some slight damage to the enemy’s left wing. I don’t know what systems I hit but I noticed in my rear view display that the pilot was falling back behind his wingman.

After a few seconds I pulled my ship downwards again, and then hastily pulled a 180 degree turn. This gave me a few seconds to fire at the Dralthi without getting shot at in return. I lined my ship up to face the incoming Dralthi, and fired.

As it turns out those few seconds were all I needed. The shots tore through the enemy fighter’s ventral shields and must have hit his fuel tank, the fighter exploded much sooner then I would have expected it to.

I quickly called up the second Dralthi and accelerated towards it. I expected him to do the same and then launch a missile or two at me. Instead, he ran. I must have taken out his weapons, that was the only thing that made sense.

So why wasn’t he trying to ram me?

Who cares? Just shoot the bastard.

And that’s what I did. I fired quickly before the Dralthi managed to get out of firing range, his engines soon took damage, slowing him down and allowing me to get in closer. A few seconds later, he was gone.

I switched targets as fast as I could until I found another Paktahn. The first one I found was just launching from the Bhantkara, it made sense to wait for it to come closer.

The second Paktahn had taken major damage on its starboard side. It didn’t seem too far away from dying. It was also about 23km away. It didn’t make much sense to waste time flying over to take it out if someone else would do that in a matter of moments.

After a lot more enemy ships appeared and disappeared on my screen, I finally found a suitable target, by the looks of things two Paktahn closing in on…
“My cockpit is crack…” And then a scream, and then silence.

Ignore it.

The two Paktahn were closing in on the Rome, one of the Sheffield class destroyers. At least one was under fire, presumably they already lost two…
“Do you see terran? Your kind dies all around you. Thus far I have slain five in this short battle. The cowardly final shrieks of your comrades are a testament to my skill.”

Ignore it!

To hell with that.

I searched my radar for the most likely Cat to have sent that message. I expected he’d be coming for me, otherwise he wouldn’t bother talking to me.

A solitary red dot was closing fast from behind me. It looked like he was coming from the Bhantkara. Even if he wasn’t the one who’d just admitted to killing five of us, he’d still pay for it.

When I finally managed to select his ship I had no doubt it was him who’d sent the transmission.

Kramm ‘Deathfang’ nar Caxki. A master of taunts and a master in the cockpit. I didn’t know how many human pilots whose deaths he was responsible for, but it was a lot, a hell of a lot. Rumour had it this guy’s piloting ability was second only to Prince Thrakhath himself, although the source of that rumour, (Scar, with abut twelve beers in him), was questionable.

He was not 10 kilometres away from me.

A surge of panic shot up my back, it was hard to ignore. My cockpit suddenly seemed smaller.
“Run ape,” he said over the com once more, I visibly jumped at the sound of his voice. I couldn’t let myself be intimidated, that would get me killed in no time. “Run, while you still can. You cannot hope to defeat a Kilrathi noble such as myself.”

“Christ aren’t you full of yourself?” I replied, the thought of those five dead pilots from the Hermes putting anger in my voice, “Tell me, do you nauseate your opponents to death or can you actually fight.”

He responded with an Imrec missile.

I pulled left, ejected a decoy and all the while had gunshots raining down on me. He was a good shot I had to give him that.

I pulled back to the right and lined my ship up with his. If I let him get behind me he’d finish me in three seconds flat.

I returned fire and accelerated towards him. The closer I was the easier it would be to avoid his fire.

My forward shields were failing very fast. His forward shields were only beginning to show signs of damage.

I launched two Imrec missiles, my last two. Deathfang’s shields stayed up but this seemed to convince him that getting out of my line of fire was a good idea. He would have destroyed me if he’d stayed put and continued firing. But he didn’t. I don’t know, maybe he didn’t want to damage his fighter, maybe he thought he could get me just as easily without endangering himself, maybe he thought that standing still land killing me lacked finesse.

Either way, I was still alive. He’d pulled up and after burned straight over me. My rear turret kicked in, not to much avail it seemed. His on the other hand soon started scratching at my rear shields.

I came about, my ship now feeling especially sluggish. He was already a good distance away from me, I afterburned in an attempt to catch up to him, but even ordinary Vaktoths were faster then Thunderbolts. Deathfang seemed to be flying a Vaktoth mark 2. The shields were definitely more powerful then the standard model; and the weapons had clearly been upgraded.

After this would be chase, he came around again. I lined up his ship as best as I could, but he was a slippery bastard. He seemed to weave around my targeting crosshair as if he could see where it was.

Then he came at me.

He was firing before I even realised he’d managed to turn round, my forward shields, which had barely recovered to 50% efficiency, began to wither again. I pulled to the left, accelerated for a few seconds and pulled my ship around in time to see him fly past.

I fired, and despite some crafty evasive action, I managed to land a number of hits, none of which seemed to do much damage.

I gave the radar the briefest of glances, hoping to find a nearby Confed pilot who could provide assistance. Unfortunately, the only ships near me were Kilrathi fighters, and they seemed happy enough to sit back and let Deathfang finish me off.

He turned to face me again, he was much closer this time.

Plywood Fiend

Rear Admiral
I started rolling, firing as I did so. Ridiculous though it looked it allowed me to evade some of his gunfire, sort of. Some of the shots that were aimed at my forward shields I managed to divert into my dorsal and ventral shields instead. He seemed to be targeting my forward shields most of all, so I needed to keep them intact.

The down side of course is that the same thing happened when I returned fire. His shields took damage, but it was nothing to shout about.

If we kept going on like this it would be Christmas before one of us died.

“Mayday! Mayday! This is the TCS Dominion, we have taken serious…”

From somewhere to my right, there was a momentary flash of light. And then it was gone, along with yet another of the Hermes’ escort ships, this one was a Tallahassee class cruiser.

It felt different from when I’d seen the Boston blow up. There wasn’t the feeling of pained disbelief. I wasn’t surprised this had happened. I’d known that we’d probably lose at least a few cap ships in this engagement and to be honest I was surprised it’d taken this long for one to explode.

That didn’t stop me feeling angry about it though.

After a few more seconds in which nothing seemed to happen, Deathfang’s face reappeared on my com screen. I’d almost forgotten about him.
“It is hopeless ape.” He said in between growls of laughter, “You and your kind are unworthy to challenge the sons of Kilrah. Soon this system shall be cleansed of your…”

I closed the channel. He was holding position a fair way away, probably waiting for me to charge at him. God knows I wanted to. I wanted to rip that smug, hairy shitballs apart. He knew that too. In fact I’m guessing he was counting on it.

Instead I just sat there, staring at the paper thin outline of his fighter in the distance. Trying at the same time to push my on rage aside and try and think up a way to kill this bastard. My ship it seemed was woefully ill equipped for the task however.
“I see you do no have the courage to face me,” He chortled again after a few moments, “Honourless scum, has not the death of your…”

I closed the channel again. An idea had sprung to mind, not a great one by any stretch of the imagination, but it might at least shut this furry windbag up.

I brought my ship into the maximum possible firing range before decelerating to 50 KPS. Once there I fired. As did he.

As I predicted, he’d hoped I’d get in closer; he’d probably then slip past me and kill me from behind. This way his task was more difficult. We were, more or less, evenly matched.

Evading his fire was a fairly painless task. Of course it still made returning fire difficult, although that wasn’t really the point. I was hoping that he’d get tired of this long distance piss take of a battle before I did.

When he did get tired, he didn’t come at me as I had hoped, instead he fired two missiles in my direction.

I didn’t have a choice this time, I had to run.

I banked right hard and hit the afterburners. The first three decoys did nothing. By the time I launched the fourth, he was already firing at me.

The lock light died, not that it made me feel much better. My rear shields were still falling and try as I might I couldn’t shake him.

Another idea came to me, actually it was originally Scar’s idea, and again it wasn’t a great one.

I started releasing decoys one after the other in Deathfang’s path. I noticed the blue glow as the things impacted on his shields. I doubted they’d do much damage, I just hoped to reduce his visibility.

As if in answer to my hopes, he pulled up about 25 degrees. Maybe the decoys coupled with my rear turret were inflicting more damage then I realised; maybe not. It didn’t matter either way.

I swung my ship around sharply, uttered a silent prayer and started firing before I’d even lined him up in my gun sights.

He wisely started to accelerate away. Even though his ship was faster, the gap still took a while to open far enough to put me out of firing range.

Like I’ve said, he was a slippery bastard. It was difficult enough to stick with him, let alone shoot at him.

And then two missile hits sent him into a spin.

What the…?

“Spinning is often the sign of idiocy.” Chortled Fool over the radio, presumably on an open channel to both Deathfang and me. Though he was trying for amused lightness, there was an unmistakable hate in his voice.

How’s he get here?

Just shoot you idiot!

And I did. I hit my afterburners, closed the gap whilst Deathfang was still in a sin and unloaded shot after shot into his already weakened shields.

Before too long, he managed to pull his ship out of the spin and turn it to face me; shortly before an explosion tore his right wing off and sent him into another one.

I was surprised the other guy wasn’t firing.
“Curse you apes!” Deathfang coughed from his now critically damaged cockpit. “You shall not win this fight…”

And then a scream, and then silence.

It was very freeing watching him die, it was like pushing your head out of the water after a hasty, panicked ascent and being able to breathe again. Also, I’d just taken out a Kilrathi ace.

With Fool’s help.

Yeah, yeah.

Anyway if that isn’t a reason to celebrate then…

Where is Fool anyway?

I searched my radar and soon found his thunderbolt accelerating away from me. A little way away from his blue dot lay an orange one. The Bhantkara. The carrier that had killed Torrent. I soon realised why fool was heading towards it, he was going to avenge his friend’s death, or die trying.

And so was I.

I couldn’t get back to the Hermes in time to do any good, one way or the other, and it seemed like Adjudicator squadron weren’t going to take this out. What I might be able to do though is make sure no more bombers launched from that carrier, and help to avenge Torrent at the same time.

And possibly Adish.

I came about, hit my afterburners and selected the torpedo in the missile display. It was hard to be sure but it looked like the carrier had taken damage already.

I was still closing in when I saw Jake Coben’s face appear on my com screen one again. He looked as I imagine a lot of us looked. Vengeful. And his voice echoed that vengefulness.
“Missiles 1 and 2 are away.”

To be continued


This stuff is so good I'm having trouble accepting the fact that it's free...
I should pay or give something back for reading this wonderfull stuff...
then again, I like the free thing too. :D


Your story is 5 stars. Really, it’s great.
The inclusion of the bar scene between the great attack to the Kilrathi fleet was formidable. And honestly, I was starting to believe that Deathfang was unbeatable. Fortunately he wasn’t. :)

Your story is truly inspiring, keep up the good work.

Plywood Fiend

Rear Admiral
Thanks again to all commenters and reading persons. It will probably be a while before my next update. I’m heading off to university soon and I probably won’t have as much time to write as I do now.

Chapter 19: Goliath, part 4

Scar’s perspective

This was it. The moment of truth, for lack of a better description, had arrived. The outcome of this engagement depended on whether the missiles survived long enough to bury themselves in their target, (and also if tactical was right about how effective they’d be.)

It was Swift Blade squadron’s job to cover the missiles as they made their way to the H’varkann. Doing so however was next to impossible. It was next to impossible to pick the missiles out among the countless other missiles on the radar.

As I glanced at the radar I tried very hard not to spare much thought to the ratio of red dots to blue ones.

A Darket flew overhead, and then another a few seconds later. I wasn’t sure where they were going but I figured they’d make as good a target as any. Besides, it would probably be Darkets that would try and take the missiles out, at least mostly.

I accelerated and positioned myself behind the closest one. Debris was beginning to pile up around us; the assorted pieces of charred fighter seemed to cluster in my way. Moving around them widened the gap between me an the Darket.

The good news is that he hadn’t noticed I was chasing him. This made getting a heat seeker lock relatively painless.
“Missiles 3 and 4 are away.”

I released the missile. My eyes then snapped to the radar where I saw 2 yellow dots on top of the light blue one representing the Hermes.

Abruptly, my right VDU switched from displaying the Darket to displaying a Dralthi with a damaged wing. It seemed the missile had performed well.

I afterburned towards the missiles before they became lost in the jumble of radar dots.

It didn’t look like any of the cats had noticed them, but I couldn’t be sure.

Another Darket appeared in my HUD on my way in. I targeted it and sent an Imrec missile in its direction. I hadn’t used many of my missiles up to this point. With so many enemy ships about, I figured it would be best to save them for the critical moment. It felt good to finally be getting rid of some. Keeping them in my ship, in an irrational way, felt like holding back in this battle.

The Imrec missile didn’t meet with much success, and it seemed I had incurred the wrath of the Kilrathi pilot I’d fired it at. I soon found two lines of meson cannon fire smashing into my dorsal shields.


If I engaged him, I’d probably lose track of the missiles. If I tried to run, I may lead him, and God knows how many others to the missiles and may very well find myself with a heat seeker or two up my arse.

No choice, I had to engage him.

Be that as it may, trying to hide the missiles from the Kilrathi was pretty ridiculous when you think about it. They knew that we knew that torpedoes were useless against that thing; and I think the Cats had finally figured out that we didn’t make a habit of ramming our enemies, so what did that leave us to hit them with?

They were probably just going to crash into bits of debris anyway.

I banked up and narrowly missed smashing into the Darket. I’m not sure if he was trying to hit me, but either way I should have been more careful.

I came about and found myself head to head with my target, who was already firing at me. I returned fire for a second or two and then strafed out of the way.

His was an interesting strategy I’ll give him that. I tried to spin around and try and get behind him, only to find that he’d come to a dead stop and was firing at me from less then a kilometre away. On a stronger ship like a Thunderbolt he would have died in seconds, if I’d been any slower he might just have killed me.

As it was, I fired off a second Imrec and watched as his ship blasted apart. At this close distance, he had no hope of evading the missile. Unfortunately, at this close distance I had no hope of getting out of the way of the explosion. That, coupled with the damage the late Kilrathi pilot had inflicted had stripped away my forward shields and tore a lot of armour off of my bow. One of my ion cannons had also taken damage.
“Missiles 5, 6 are away.”
“Decoy 1 is away.” Uttered a second communications officer. He might have been from the Rome.

The escort ships, those that were left, were firing their own antimatter warheads as decoys, aimed at the well protected outer hull. The Hermes, apparently, had enough missiles to do the job, and having missiles closing in on the same relatively narrow point from all angles was an unacceptable collision risk.
“What the?” There was a slight flicker of panic as Jake Coben uttered these words, “Missiles one and two have been destroyed, Arrows, where the hell are you?”

No more pissing about. I afterburned in, trying to position myself so that I was facing the bow of the H’varkann. From there I launched a missile at a nearby Dralthi that seemed to be making life difficult for a Hellcat. I followed this up with a volley of gunfire.

I was lucky; I must have hit a sensitive area or something. The starboard wing broke off the Dralthi, sending it into a spin. It looked like the pilot ejected but I couldn’t be sure. I kept firing and either me or an self-destruct system on the Dralthi destroyed it.

A Confederation pilot, probably the Dralthi’s former target, appeared on my com screen and uttered a few words at me in a language I didn’t recognise. I’m guessing he was saying thank you. Then again she might have been complaining that I’d stolen a kill from him for all I knew.

I sighted two yellow dots on the radar, judging by the way they sat in the central circle of my radar and didn’t seem to be moving, I guessed I was sitting in front of them.

I checked my rear view display and sure enough, I was sitting in front of two of the Cap ship missiles which...
“Missiles 7 and 8 are away.”

As I was saying…

“Decoy 2 is away.”

The missiles were coming up fast behind me and soon passed underneath my ship. I saw the bulky looking things pass me and continue on to the mammoth of a ship which lay before them. After I’d spared the H’varkann a glance, the missiles suddenly seemed very small.

Those things are meant to take that out?

I pulled my mind away from a moment’s contemplation as to what tactical was smoking when they came to this conclusion and looked around me for targets.

Two Darkets were heading my way, as were two more Arrows.

A Vaktoth wing was heading out from the H’varkann’s flight deck. The thing seemed to have no end of fighters.

On top of that, there was a Sorthak hovering a few kilometres away from me and the missiles. It was probably him who’d taken out the first two.

There were Confed ships heading my way but they were too far out. I had no choice but to do something very stupid.

I charged at the Sorthak at 1400KPS. I’d never before faced one of these but I’d often heard them described as a cross between a Vaktoth and a destroyer. Wonderful.
“What is this?” Asked a Kilrathi voice on the radar, “You dare to attack?”

I guess its not an unreasonable question considering the obvious disadvantage. Although knowing the Kilrathi, he’d probably say the same thing if he was flying a Salthi and I was flying a Thunderbolt.

When I was in range I fired my last remaining Imrec at him. He let it hit. His port shields it seemed took some quite heavy damage.

I fired as soon as I could, only to find a hailstorm of multicoloured energy blasts coming at me.
“Decoy 3 is away.”
“So are missiles 9 and 10”

Plywood Fiend

Rear Admiral
The Sorthak was a lot faster and a hell of a lot more manoeuvrable then it rightfully should have been considering its size. Its pilot however didn’t seem to take full advantage of this. I guess he didn’t see me as a threat. I managed to position myself behind him. Only to be greeted by a second hailstorm of meson blasts.

I had two heat seekers left. I prepared both, and tried to keep the enemy ship in my viewer as I tried to dodge the incoming fire. I met with limited success, I lost the lock twice and my front shields which had not fully recovered from the first hits were on the brink of failing.

At almost the same time as I sent the missiles off, two large cracks appeared in my view screen. Miraculously, they weren’t bad enough to cause any loss of oxygen; still, they were a wise and well timed warning to get out of the way.

I turned around and afterburned in the opposite direction.

I checked my damage control system and found that my damaged ion cannon was now damaged beyond repair. I had pretty much forgotten it was gone. Another piece of bad news was that my ejector system was equally as dead.

That’s not an easy thing to live with. It took me a few moments before I could pull myself around for another shot at the Sorthak, which was now sitting perfectly still.

Why is it doing that?

On my tactical display, the enemy ship’s engines were bathed in red. Those heat seekers must have taken out its engines. They also seemed to have done something to its rear turrets, when I moved in and tried to strafe behind the stationary, albeit rotating fighter; I was greeted not by gunfire but by the welcome sight of the charred engines of my opponent.

That was my second lucky shot for the day. I couldn’t help but wonder if this good fortune was some sinister omen of doom.

It still took me a while to take it out. The Kilrathi had built these things to last. If my opponent was any indication of his peers however, they hadn’t trained the pilots to do the same.
“Missiles 11 and 12 are away.”

Those are the last two.

I didn’t feel the usual satisfaction which accompanied a kill this time, nor the shocked surprise at taking out a ship which outclassed mine in almost all respects. All I could think of were the Vaktoths.

When I consulted the radar, I found a jumble of blue dots moving in and around a jumble of red ones. The cavalry had arrived.
“Decoy 4 is away.”

Damaged or not, I still had to get in there.

I afterburned and tried not to notice just how close I was getting to the dreadnought. That became somewhat harder when a laser turret started taking a few pot shots at me. None of the shots hit me, but it didn’t do much for my piece of mind. Trent was right; there wasn’t much flak fire near the bow. That presumably, was considered unimportant.
“I have failed my race!”

There was a bright light from behind one of the claw like outcroppings at the front of the dreadnought. A thoroughly irrational surge of hope that we might have just landed a hit on the beast died abruptly as I realised that the explosion had not come from the dreadnought.

I was later to learn that two pilots from Adjudicator squadron had managed to get through the flak and destroy the Kamrani corvette that was escorting the H’varkann. Hardly a major victory I know, but still it’s something.

At the time I didn’t have time to dwell on the thought. I was coming into firing range.

There was a second explosion. This one had definitely come from the dreadnought. It was barely noticeable; there was a faint flicker of light that shone in what I could see of the enemy launch bay. The missiles had passed straight through it and had exploded at some point within the ship, possibly on the engines, I wasn’t sure how far in they could get.

The H’varkann itself didn’t seem any the worse off for it.

To top it all off, Jake Coben’s face soon reappeared on my com screen. He didn’t look happy.

“Missile 7 is down. We can’t lose any more guys!”

You don’t say.

There was a Vaktoth not too far away from me that was taking fire from two Hellcats; another was firing at those two Hellcats; that was my target. Maybe I could keep it busy enough for some other ships to come and help me kill it.

I was, as you can probably imagine, a little surprised to see a Thunderbolt exit the H’varkann’s launch bay. For a moment I thought he might be a Retro fighting to aid his Kilrathi allies, (they have worked together in the past, sort of, I think. I’m not too clear on the details.)

When he started firing on my target however I soon realised this wasn’t the case.

I finally came into firing range and unleashed a round of gunshots into the Vaktoth’s dorsal shields. The pilot was wisely focusing his attention on the Thunderbolt, I doubt he even noticed me.

Another few shots from a Kilrathi turret sailed past. I pulled up and prepared to swing around for another attack run.

The face of another unfamiliar Confederation officer appeared on my com screen. I expected she was going to announce the launch of decoy 5. She wasn’t.
“This is Captain Natalie Moran of the TCS Toronto. The Hermes has taken a torpedo hit. The bridge has been completely destroyed, the command staff are all dead and her communications are out. I’m taking command of the fleet.”

I tried very hard not to feel anything; and failed. A lot of good people on my carrier had just been killed. Jake Coben, Commodore Ammadon, Commander Finchley. Each of their faces passed through my head right up until a Kilrathi laser turret finally scored a hit on my shields.

Then the faces were gone, replaced with a renewed enthusiasm for killing.

I pulled back around and fired again, this time into the ventral shields of the Vaktoth. These had already taken some damage and I was able to tear some of his armour away. It was a missile hit from the Thunderbolt that finished him off though.

It was about now that I realised the cats weren’t launching any new fighters. Whoever was piloting that Thunderbolt must have smashed up their flight deck or taken out some fighters while they were still on the ground or done something. Whoever they were, they were a braver person then I. I’d never have flown into that thing.

We’d managed to clean out a fairly neat path for the missiles, many of which I could now see advancing on the H’varkann. However my radar also showed a lot of Kilrathi ships heading our way. It was a race against time.

I targeted what I could only hope was the closest enemy ship and began to speed towards it.

Four Minutes later

The last of the seven missiles to reach the target disappeared down the launch bay, and for what seemed like an eternity nothing seemed to happen; except for the continued attack from thirty or so Kilrathi fighters.
“My cockpit is burning!” Screamed someone I didn’t know. The fourth person to say something like that in the last two minutes, “I can’t eject, I…”

We’d taken out a lot of enemy fighters in this battle, most of which were cublings as Z’ratmak would call them, probably pulled from training prematurely to make up the numbers on the dreadnought. The Kilrathi had no shortage of replacements for their fallen comrades. We, on the other hand were tired, mostly out of missiles and had taken more then a few dents. And there weren’t a great many of us left. There had only been about sixty or so of us before we’d attacked.

I was busy trying to avoid being ripped apart by the Vaktoth I had rushed off to engage. With what seemed to be little effort, he had gotten behind me and had already hit my engines. It was all I could do to try and not get shot. I couldn’t outrun him, and fighting back was out of the question.
“Insufferable creatures. You fall before us like…”

He must have seen it at the same time that I did.

A colossal explosion tore through the H’varkann’s engines. It was hard to make out anything with the mass of hull in the way, but the explosions that followed were easier to see.

They seemed to creep up the hull from the engines, don’t ask me to explain the science behind it, all I know is that the missiles seemed to have created a chain reaction of explosions along the H’varkann’s hull. Maybe some fuel lines or power conduits connecting the engines to other areas of the ship had been hit. Ah you know what, don’t listen to me. I don’t know ‘how’ the ship blew up, and to be honest I couldn’t care less.

When they reached the mid section of the ship, something, possibly the reactor must have blown up.

I watched, unable to look away as the resulting explosion tore the H’varkann in two. The aft section seemed to break apart as it drifted backwards. The front section looked reasonably intact, save for the burn marks around one end.

Silence followed. I felt as disbelieving as I imagine the Kilrathi must have done. It was about this time that I made a promise to myself never again to doubt Intel reports, no matter how far fetched they seemed.

I involuntarily started giggling; this then erupted into a fully fledged laugh. I could only imagine the looks on the Kilrathi’s faces.

As unfathomably pleased, and as irrationally relieved as we all doubtlessly were; this hadn’t really improved our situation all that much. There were still a lot of enemy fighters, as well as an enemy carrier to worry about. We were still damaged and weary. Half the Hermes’ escort ships were out of the fight and the Hermes herself had effectively had her head blown off.

And as you can imagine, the Kilrathi were more then a little upset about this new development.

To be continued.


Your story is fantastic (I’m repeating myself); it has become a habit to check if there is an update every time I can.
You are going to university, that’s good, but please, whenever it’s possible, continue Front Lines.


IIRC, Plywood Fiend wrote that the Hermes was your run-of-the-mill fleet-carrier. That means a concordia class.
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Plywood Fiend

Rear Admiral
Right, thanks again to all readers and commenters and sorry for the wait. I’ve only recently found myself back before a computer in this university place.

P.S. The Hermes is indeed a Concordia class fleet carrier. I can’t remember if I mentioned that or not. Ah well, cheers Marc for answering that.

P.P.S, Dahan, if you’re reading this I’ll try and read your latest updates soon.

Chapter 20: Observer

Torrent’s perspective

They took me to the bridge in the end.

In many ways it looked a lot like the bridge of the Hermes, in other ways it looked completely different.

In orderly rows, Kilrathi bridge officers sat at computer terminals that seemed to stretch out from the deck like large claws that stretched over the heads of the beasts. On a far wall there was a huge computer display, in front of which two Kilrathi were stood, occasionally tapping controls with their claws.

In the centre of the bridge, there was a pretentious looking chair in which an equally pretentious looking Kilrathi sat. He was dressed in a long flowing robe which seemed completely inappropriate for a battle. If he or anyone else had to move quickly, they wouldn’t be helped a long flowing cape which they could easily trip over.

Then again, no one here had seemed overly tense anyway; in fact there was an aura of calm on the bridge. The carrier I was on was by the looks of a display I’d been shown, a good distance from the H’varkann and the Hermes.

What I was seeing looked vaguely like the map displays I’d seen time and time again on the Hermes. There was no chequered green table however, no red or blue icons. There were only two sets of red dots, one a dark, bloodlike red, the other was a lighter shade. These, by the looks of their position, and their numbers, represented the Confederation fighters.

They were clustered around a series of larger icons of the same colour, these ones actually took the basic shapes of what they were portraying. I could make out two shapes that looked like Tallahassee class cruisers, the Archangel and the Dominion. The Hermes herself just looked like a red rectangle.

The Kilrathi ships were clearer. The massive blood red icon representing the H’varkann, or the KIS Vorghath apparently; dwarfed the Hermes, the B’hantkara and pretty much everything.

“Now ape, watch as your pitiful comrades die.” Came a voice from above me. It was the same Kilrathi that had dragged his claw down the side of my face. Along with him, there were two guards flanking me. From one I’d caught a look that suggested he’d gladly claw me to death if it wasn’t for orders to the contrary.

The Cats had done a quick patch up job on that, along with the stab wounds in my legs. Basically this involved closing the wounds with something that can only be described as a surgical blowtorch. I didn’t feel much better but at least I had stopped bleeding. Standing was still difficult, but it was not the virtually impossible task that it had been.

We’ll see. I wanted to say; but some part of me that still cared about survival compelled me to stay silent.

More then anything I wanted to be out there. Right now my friends and comrades were moments away from the fight of their lives and I was standing here watching them. If they were to die or triumph, I should rightfully have been with them.

Every time I saw one of the bright red dots vanish, how would I know it wasn’t Fool, or Adish or…

I closed me eyes and tried to picture instead the H’varkann vanishing from the screen, along with this carrier. Strange isn’t it? My best hope was that my own people would kill me.

I forced my eyes open again. The fighters from both sides were now advancing towards each other.

Good luck my friends. I said silently, there wasn’t much else that I could do.

Three minutes later

A Confederation fighter was the first ship to die.

The ship blinked away instantly from the screen as the two swarms of fighters closed in on each other. He’d probably been hit by a missile.

A celebratory howl from the Kilrathi answered this. My fists clenched as I listened to these creatures, then the anger switched to a raw satisfaction as two Kilrathi fighters died.

The howls died out as well, replaced by angry sounding hisses. I half expected to be hit by one of the nerve prods that the both guards were carrying as some sort o vengeance for the two Kilrathi deaths, but it seemed that they weren’t paying attention to me any more.

Things became a little harder to follow after that. The two swarms mingled and began to fly in and amongst each other. Dots were continually disappearing, but it was difficult to tell which side they belonged to.

The Hermes and her escorts continued to move forward. It didn’t look like missiles; even cap ship missiles would show up on this thing. Looks like I’d just have to wait and see which ship vanished.

It didn’t take long for ships to break away from the main engagement. Some of the Confed ships were heading straight for the H’varkann. It also looked like wings of what I assume were bombers were heading for the Hermes. There were a lot of them.

There were also a lot of Confed ships which moved to intercept them. I soon began to see Kilrathi fighters from these wings vanish from the display. It didn’t look like the Kilrathi were guarding their bombers too well. They probably figured that they had enough spares, or maybe they did have escort ships but they were just overconfident or incompetent. Or both.

There was a momentary shimmer of blue around one of the Tallahassee icons. At first nothing seemed to happen, I began to wonder if I had actually seen anything. I had only caught it at the corner of my eye after all.

Then it began to turn round, and then I understood. The ship had taken a torpedo hit, possibly two in a sensitive area. It was probably turning round because it was two damaged to stay in the fight.

At least It was still alive.

I watched the icon for a while, the Kilrathi gave chase, but only with three ships, they seemed to be concentrating on the ships that stuck around to fight.

Two Confed fighters peeled back and started moving back towards the damaged cruiser and her pursuers.

One Kilrathi ship died early on, probably they took a missile up the arse. Another I assume was taken out by flak fire from the cruiser.

The third then peeled back and began to head towards one of the Confederation fighters. I watched as the two ships closed on each other. When the two dots overlapped, I assumed that they were passing each other.

And then they both blinked out of existence.

I blinked and stared at the now empty space for a few moments. Then fresh anger emerged as I realised that I’d just witnessed a mutually fatal collision. Whether it was deliberate or accidental I didn’t know, but that was still one Confederation pilot dead.

I searched the display, trying to find something else to focus on. The Kilrathi had now resorted to low pitched growls of appreciation or anger, loud roaring I’m guessing could prove a distraction to the bridge crew.

It was about this time that I noticed four Confederation fighters that were heading towards the B’hantkara. Fighters which were coming to kill me.

I tried to keep the panic locked down. This was what I had been waiting for. It was either this or be clawed to death in some fucking Kilrathi jungle.
Its your time, I said myself, as if it would somehow be reassuring. It wasn’t.

And then one of the Confed ships disappeared.

They were all pretty close to the H’varkann, and the wing of ships heading their way were still a good distance out. I’d guess the pilot, whoever they were, had been taken out by flak fire.

Plywood Fiend

Rear Admiral
It was getting harder and harder to keep my panic at bay. Part of me wanted to end it here; it was all I could hope for. Another part of me, quite simply, didn’t want to die; and there wasn’t much I could do about that.

Through the fear, something on the display caught my eye. There was an icon emerging from the H’varkann that was unlike any I’d seen previously. It was small; the size of a fighter, but instead of a red dot, there was a symbol instead, like the symbol of the empire, but different.

Whatever it was, it was following the two ships heading my way. It looked like it was going to come at them from the side.

They didn’t see it. Why couldn’t they see it? I was almost tempted to scream at their icons on the display. It wouldn’t help, but it was hard to sit here and wait for them to find out the hard way that, something, was chasing them.

There was an increased background growl from the Kilrathi bridge officers, it seemed that the terran fighters were beginning to get a little too close for comfort.

The enemy fighter, it had to be a fighter, was closing on them now, and after a few seconds, there was one less incoming friendly fighter.

One of the guards gave a pleased grunt. If it wasn’t for the added weight of the heavy manacles around my arms, I would have hit him.

I wanted to kill them all. I wanted to rip them open and pile their guts on the floor.

That’s probably what will happen to you Ryuku.

I closed my eyes again, took a number of breaths and tried to banish the storm of rage and fear from within, and returned my attention to the screen.

It seemed that one of the Confed ships had stayed to engage the fighter whilst the other one continued towards us. I sighed, the , one fighter, even a Longbow probably wouldn’t meet with much success, that fighter could have been an Arrow for all I knew. Although that seemed doubtful.

Muffled bangs sounded suddenly, I turned my head, saw nothing new on the bridge and turned it back to the display. It took me a few moments to realise I was listening to flak fire. I’d never expected to be listening to it from inside a Kilrathi ship, and I doubted I’d ever hear it again.

In any other situation, that would probably have been good news.

The one who’d stayed to battle the Kilrathi didn’t seem to be doing too well. His ship hardly seemed to move at all, whereas the Kilrathi’s dodged and weaved skilfully, and quickly, around its target.

And soon there was only one ship left.

The Kilrathi newcomer was moving towards the last ship, but quick as he was, he wasn’t quick enough.

A loud, low pitched whooping noise sounded on the bridge. I jumped at the sound, no one seemed to notice however. There was now a suitable sense of urgency on the bridge of this ship, and it didn’t take me long to figure out why.

Incoming torpedoes.

My eyes snapped to the display, I tried to make them out but could see nothing except the Confed ship speeding away from the carrier.

Deciding to abandon the impression of bored detachment I’d been trying for since they dragged me out of the interrogation room, I hurled myself to the floor and waited for the torpedoes to impact. (Or for the Kilrathi to shoot them down.)

It didn’t take me long to find out which one it was.

Twenty minutes later

I woke up to the sound of a pained roar from a Kilrathi who I would later see had a piece of the ceiling buried in his entrails.

Sluggishly, and then hastily once I remembered where I was, I regained consciousness. I tried to take in a few breaths and instantly found myself wheezing out smoke that was pouring into what was left of the bridge from somewhere above me. I was lying face down, something had fallen on me, but it didn’t seem to have done any damage to anything.

I couldn’t get my still-restrained arms behind my back to push it off, so instead I tried to stand up, hoping to shirk it off as I did so.

My head felt like it was on the verge of splitting open.

It almost pushed me back down to the floor, but I eventually managed to get out from under it. When I was finally standing, I realised that I’d been sleeping underneath a Kilrathi arm. It had belonged to one of the guards who had watched the battle unfold with me on the display. Now he had several large pieces of shrapnel buried in his back.

I looked around hastily. The bridge was a mess, Kilrathi corpses were draped over, or under charred remnants of their work stations, fires had broken out in three places.

It was pure luck that I’d survived, there was fallen shrapnel all around where I’d been lying, and some debris had landed on my flight suit, but nothing large, hot or sharp enough to do any damage. It seemed the Kilrathi had taken all of those bits for themselves.

The Kilrathi was still screaming.

I looked around and soon found that the origin of the noise came from my former interrogator. I can’t begin to tell you how satisfying it was to see him suffering.

I left him to it for the moment. Looking around instead for, well, something which could dictate my next course of action.

I noticed that one of the guards was still clinging to his firearm with his dead fingers.

I kicked the corpse a few times, making sure it really was dead, when I was reasonably satisfied that it was, I worked at picking the gun out of his hands.

It was a bulky thing which seemed to weigh as much as I did. It was all I could do to drag it across the floor. This was made doubly difficult with my hands still restrained.

Nevertheless, I still managed to line the gun up with the sole surviving Kilrathi, (I hoped he was the only survivor anyway,) and blast a hole through the side of his chest. The screaming cut out abruptly.

For a while I just stared at the dead beast before me and enjoyed the similar grim satisfaction at his demise that I had at his suffering. Then I started wheezing again and I decided that getting out of the bridge would be a better idea.

Where I was going to go was something I couldn’t bring myself to consider. After all, when you’re injured and stranded on a Kilrathi carrier which may or may not be a few minutes away from exploding, not a great many opportunities for continued survival exist do they?

To be continued.
FINALLY got down to reading this (copied from this thread to a .doc/.sxw/whichever on another computer), and aside from your general 'ooh's and 'aah's, I have to remind you to watch out for common spelling/grammar errors. Like, there/their etc, its/it's, out/our (so close, yet so far away :) ), hangar/hanger (this has got to be the biggest material difference in one little letter in misspelling history), ... um... I could've sworn there was one more thing... Oh well, The Price of Freedom is Eternal Spellchecking. :p Keep swatting that keyboard o' yours.