1997/98 The Armageddon Factor PBeM: TAF Chap 1


1st Lieutenant
Forward: Was digging through some really old CDRs I had kicking around in a box and found my old PBM from the early days of the CIC... 1997/98 PBeM... if any of you guys who collaborated on this are still kicking around, I'd love to finish the story with you... it'd be interesting to see how our writing styles have changed and/or matured. Please bear in mind that this was written 13 years ago, so some of the slangs and references may be unfamiliar to you, and also bear in mind that we were all probably college kids typing away on monochrome AIX terminals in the public email labs on campus... which explains the horrendous formatting...

The Armageddon Factor

This is a story which I just started last night, I'd like your feedback,
mostly positive feedback if you pls. :)

"Khantahr on the bridge!" shouted Fourth Fang Shalrah.
The bridge crew, as one, dropped to one knee and bowed in respect to their
revered khantahr, the great Jakara hrai Redclaw nar K'tithrak Mang. Jakara
was one of the last great Khantahr's of the 8th Fleet of the Claw. The rest
had either been wounded or killed in the great 2nd Enigma Campaign. He
scanned the crew with his cool, calculating eyes, his bright colored mane
brilliant under the bridge lights.

"At ease. Our glorious heir to the empire, Prince Thrakath, has
ordered us and our special cargo to the Hytakar system to rendezvous with
the Sivar class dreadnaught Sarmak. There we will engage in an operation
that I am not allowed to reveal to you as of yet, but I will tell you that
it is of utmost importance and that it will guarentee us final victory if

Completing his speech with the standard "Hail the emperor and the
Empire!", Jakara sat down on the throne-like command chair and called up
the status report on the fleet. He smiled inwardly as he scrolled through
the list of ships under his command. The Prince must have had great
confidence in him to trust him with a three carrier force. He would do his
utmost to ensure that his cargo reached it's intended destination. Prince
Thrakath had personally briefed him on the mission, he had told him that
the cargo must reach the system no matter the cost, the carriers were
considered expendable. He inwardly shuddered when the prince stated that.
The empire could no longer afford to throw away carriers meaninglessly,
not after the losses suffered in the Firekkan and 1st Enigma campaigns.
For the prince to have considered them cannon fodder imprinted the
importance of the cargo to Jakara. He would not fail.

"Set course for Jump Point 1E, the Dallas system, engage!" he barked.

The ship vibrated softly as the four powerful Breath of Sivar class
engines came to life and pushed the ship away from the Starbase and into the
infinite black seas of space.

"Jump transition in 3...2...1...mark!"
In a blinding white flash of light, the Carrier entered the jump point,
followed closely by her escorts. Perhaps seconds, minutes or hours later
it seemed, the carrier emerged in the Dallas system. Shaking off the
wave of disorientation customary to jumps, Khantahr Jakara looked at the main
viewscreen. His eyes opened wide in horror and his mane stood on end. A
whole enemy task force was arrayed in front him, fighters deployed.

"By the blood of Sivar!" exclaimed Jakara, "Where in the nine hells
did they come from?!"

"My lord!", a startled comm officer blurted, "sensors detect an
incoming strike force of Broadswords escorted by Rapiers!"

"Order our escorts to form a defensive screen while we launch our
fighters. Death Claw squadron to launch first, have First Fang Tahmak
intercept the Broadsword squadron closest to us."

On the other side...

"Roger that Control. Green Leader to squadron, our target is that
medium carrier on the right, Two-Flight, juke left and slam her from the
starboard side, the rest of you, keep tight, follow my lead and start your
countdown asap."

Colonel Jonathan Hudson glanced to his left and saw the four
Broadswords of Two-Flight break off and start their flanking run. Arrayed
around him were the other seven Broadswords of his squadron and it's escort
of four Rapiers, further off was the rest of the sixty craft strike group.
Wow, he thought to himself, intelligence finally struck gold, having
pinpointed the enemy fleet's ETA and destination flawlessly. This was
perfect, 3 carriers fresh outta the jump point, caught with their boxers
down. hmmmm...I wonder if the cats wear boxers... Shrugging off the silly
thoughts he concentrated on what lay ahead. Already, the 3 enemy carriers
were launching their first fighters, not enough to stop the strike.

"Range is closing, 22,000 meters and closing fast, begin target
lock on. Green Leader to group, I have initial countdown, 30 seconds..."

The comm came alive as the other Broadswords announced their
countdowns. He could see small flashes of light as the Kilrathi cap
ships started firing their anti-fighter IFF missiles. The first light
screen of Drakhri fighters hove into view as the long range batteries
on the forward frigates started firing.

"20 seconds...here's where we really earn our pay people."

"Break and attack! Show these human vermin no mercy!"

Kicking in the afterburners on his Drakhri, First Fang Tahmak shot past
the outer picket of Rapier fighters, leaving them to his wingmen.
He angled in on one of the trailing Broadswords and lined up his Drakhri's
guns for the kill. A hail of neutron bolts spat out from the Broadsword's
rear turret, with only a few hitting the Drakhri turning his phase shield a
cherry red, a testiment to the gunner's nervousness and inexperience.
Tahmak quickly fired off a short burst of laserfire, catching the Broadsword
amidships, detonating it's fuel cells. It vanished in a ball of incandescent
light. The space immediately in front of him was a mad throng of fighters,
bombers, missiles, gunfire and explosions. The carriers were throwing
caution to the wind and utilizing magnum launches to deploy their fighters
quickly in order to counter the Confed threat. Weaving his way through the
formations of Broadswords, Tahmak dumped IFFs left and right in the middle
of the formation, causing two more Broadswords to explode. Smiling, he
thought yes, today will be a day full of glorious kills. More gifts to

"Keep him the hell offa me!..."

"Green Two, watch it! You've got 3 on your six!"

"10 seconds and coun-..."

"Keep your birds steady boys, lock on in 5...4...3...2...
Hail Mary, full of grace...launch!"

The seven remaining Broadswords in his squadron launched a volley
of Mark III torpedoes just as another 2 Swords disintegrated under a
withering hail of flak fire. The torpedoes closed in on their target,
10 klicks...9 klicks...8 klicks... The anti-missile turrets on the carrier
opened up, filling space with a virtual wall of mass driver shots.
Explosions near the carrier marked the destruction of the torpedoes.

"C'mon, c'mon damnit..hit!" he prayed.

A torpedo impacted on the bow of the carrier, momentarily causing
it's phase shield to go fuzzy. Two more hit the carrier along the side,
striking with insufficent force to split the carrier open.

Picking himself up off of the floor, Khantahr Jakara called for
a damage report. The damage control officer, emotionless, spoke,
"Minor damage to the catapults in the center bay, we won't be able to
launch fighters from that bay for awhile my lord, but otherwise,
superficial damage to the hull."

The wing officer spoke up, "My lord, squadron leaders report the
suppression of the enemy strike group. Mopping up stragglers as we speak."

"My lord, we have a positive identification scan on the enemy
carrier, it is the TCS Jutland, a Gettysburg class carrier." announced
the comm officer; his voice and tone calmer now that they had achieved
the upper hand.

Jakara flashed a toothy-fanged grin, "Prepare our Grikath bombers
for a magnum launch, I want that carrier! Signal the destroyer Jarvak to
escort our strike in! For the glory of Kilrah, strike!"

"Move boys!, move!" Hudson shouted as he led the 3 remaining
Broadswords of Green Squadron away from the combat zone. A bright flash
lit up his rear display. Two remaining Broadswords he thought grimly.
The strike had failed miserably, what was supposed to be a clockwork
operation turned out to be rout. Only 3 lousy torpedoes struck glancing
blows on the carrier, rendering it's center bay inoperable. The rest of
the force fared no better, with only one enemy frigate destroyed. What
concerned him now, was the wall of red he saw on his radar screen. Switching
to his rear display, he feared the worst. A flight of Drakhri were closing
on him and his wingmen, and behind them, a wave of Grikath with Sartha
mixed in.
Clutching the control yoke to his chest, and straining the Inertial
dampers to the max, he executed a loop and Immelmann and brought himself
level with the approaching flight of fighters. Triggering his mass driver
cannons, he managed to shear the left wing off of the lead Drakhri, spinning
it wildly around. The others scattered and continued to close. Throwing
his Broadsword into an aerial bootlegger reverse, he brought the ship around
and gunned the engines and headed back towards his carrier. The Broadsword
shuddered under the impact of laserfire, a sharp jolt twisted the ship
"upside down" as a dumbfire hit it's portside engine.
"Damnit, damnit!" gritted Hudson as he fought to keep the bomber
under control. Sparing a quick glance at his damage status, his left gunner
was no more, and he had lost his port engine. Looking up he saw the four
Drakhri coming about for the kill, undaunted, he maneuvered his ship inline
with the enemy flight.
"You chumps ain't cashing me in yet!"
He toggled to his Spiculum IRs and prepared to fire.

"Eyes of Sivar!" shrieked Tahmak as he wrestled with his ship. The
human bastard had clipped part of his wing off. He's good for a lumbering
pig, Talmak thought. Bringing his ship about, he headed straight towards
the maimed Broadsword, arming his missiles for volley fire, he let loose
a flight of DFMs and grinned in bloodthirsty delight as the Broadsword

For a gut-wrenching instant, John Hudson, thought of his wife and
kids back on Enyo, he felt a pain beyond pain, then he felt nothing as
the light engulfed him.
The Armageddon Factor
Chapter 1 (Cont.)
by Rick "Vodkaslime" Chan

"Excellent! Excellent!" cried Jakara, "Finish the battle now!" On
his 3D hologlobe, he saw his strike squadrons move into torpedo range and
his interceptor squadrons polishing off the few remaining terran strike
craft, all that remained, was the enemy carrier, her escorts, and a
pitiful three and a half eights of CAP fighters.

"Sir!, enemy strike inbound! Coming on four different vectors.
TCS Cold Steel reports more than 80 inbound craft! Our own strike force
has been nearly decimated, only about 9 craft left." reported a nervous
young ensign who looked far too young to be on the bridge of a carrier.

Captain Martin Brummell's set jaw, and grim expression belayed
one of total panic. Fleet intel HAD assured him that this ambush would
be like shooting fish in a barrel with thermonuclear weapons. What the
hell had gone wrong??? Instead of quickly dispatching the enemy carriers
his forces were chewed up piecemeal as the enemies carriers magnum
launched their CAP. New orders came through the burst-signal radio.


He glanced up at his Fighter Squadron Display...20 fighters from
his own CAP and only 9 fighters left from the strike force of 60. Not
enough for a second strike, but barely enough to hold the wolves at bay as
he withdrew his task force.

"Order all fighters to hold off those bombers for as long as
possible before landing. Send TCS Minerva and Agrippa to screening
position." Jason said, then more quietly with barely concealed bitterness,
"Sound retreat, then make the jump to the Alpha Draconis system and from
there, San Antonio."

"Sir!, CAP now engaged."

Martin glanced up at the fighter status screens, his CAP of mostly
Epees and Ferrets were jinking and juking around the enemy force, trying
their damndest to slow the onslaught down. He felt a pang of admiration
and sadness as he saw an Epee kick in it's afterburners and ram a Grikath
that was lining up for a torpedo shot on the Jutland's engines. Both
vanished in a rapidly expanding cloud of gas and debris.

"ETA to jump point?"

The nav officer piped up, "ETA 4 minutes 30 seconds to jump
point," then glanced at his sensor display and let out a startled little
yelp, "Uh, sir don't you think that cat destroyer is getting awfully
close, sir?"

"Starboard batteries, target that destroyer and bring the bastard

The lights dimmed as power from the reactors was shunted to the
massive anti-ship guns. The Jutland's main starboard turret unleashed
a destructive torrent of energy as it's twin anti-matter gun fired. A
Sartha that just happened to be in the path of fire vaporized in an
instant. The twin bolts struck the enemy destroyer, energy crackling over

The Kilrathi old-style Ralari destroyer replied in kind. A
massive barrage of ion cannon fire erupted from several turrets, bathing
the Jutland in white fire. Missiles screamed out of their launch racks,
pounding the Jutland's already strained shields. The broadside
intensified as the Jutland brought her secondary batteries to bear.

"Torpedo room! Have we got a positive lock on that destroyer?"

"Aye, sir!"

"Full spread, fire!"

A spread of torpedoes leaped out from Jutland, crossing the space
between her and the Jarvak in seconds. A string of explosions erupted
across Jarvak's bow as the first torpedoes expended their energy against
the destroyer's shields and the rest penetrated. Secondary explosions
plumed up and down the length of the ship as the Jarvak's hull integrity
gave way.

Tahmak howled in fury as IKS Jarvak exploded under the relentless
pummeling from the carrier. His clan bretheren served aboard her, his
vision grew red as his anger increased. Barking into the comm he ordered
two of his wingmen to cover him on his strafing run. Banking hard, he
lined up with the enemy carrier's main launch bay, he toggled his weapons
to his
sole remaining True Claw IFF missile. Slamming his fuel scoops wide open,
he began to rapidly decelerate, and started pummeling the bay shields with
his lasers, his wingmen adding their firing power to his. The bay shields
glowed red, then flickered. He launched his missile, it passed through
the depleted bay shields into the launch bay itself. Tahmak shouted a
roar of victory as he pulled away and saw his missile strike a magazine of

Martin was thrown to his knees as an explosion rocked the ship,
scrambling to his feet he asked for a damage report. Receiving no reply,
he spared a glance at the Damage Control Station, what he saw would harden
the softest heart. The DC Officer lay hunched over his work station, half
his face shorn off, the other half lay peacefully intact, his eye open, a
look of total innocence.

My god, Martin thought, not even 19, he looked away, ashamed that
he didn't even know his name. An NCO quickly took over and reported,

"That last hit just took out our primary launch bay, heavy
casualties reported. Phase shielding down to 34%." Another explosion
rocked the ship. "Torpedo hit to the aft quarter! Bulkheads sealing, AF
Turrets 12 and 17 out of commission, damage control parties to..."

"ETA 50 seconds!" cut in the nav officer.

"Recall our CAP NOW!"

The fighters, firing wildly in a vain attempt to halt the enemy
wave, now turned and burned for the carrier. The Sarthas flew in hot
pursuit, mixing in with the terran fighters in a chaotic melee. Three
more confed planes sucked vacuum. The rest, panicked and greatly
outnumbered, pulled the ultimate suicidal carrier landing by entering the
bay at full afterburner speed.

"All remaining fighters retrieved!" called the Landing Bay Officer
over the intercom.

"Incoming torpedoes! They have definite lock! AT Batteries
engaging! Nail the bitches!" cried the Chief Gunnery Officer.

"Activate Jump Engines, Go! GO!"

Martin closed his eyes and steeled himself for death as the light
washed over him.

Chapter 2.



A haggard looking figure with an overly rumpled uniform stepped
into office, sketching a short salute. "Captain Martin Brummell reporting
as ordered, sir." he said with barely concealed rage.

Rear Admiral Vance Richards looked up from the pile of datacards
on his desk with a mixture of pity and understanding. "Sorry to hear
about Colonel Hudson, he went to flight school with my son. He was a most
remarkable bomber pilot." Martin nodded curtly, seething with rage. "I
know you're going to explode Captain, so out with it, off the record."

Arms at his side, fists balled, Martin released his pent up anger,
"Sir, a lot of my boys died today in what was SUPPOSED to be a cakewalk
operation. I lost 63 out of 80 fighters from my carrier, and I lost 27
out of 36 fighters from the Heavy Cruisers. What the hell happened sir?
I was the commander there, and we had them, we HAD them, sir! and then
the tables turned on us!" frustrated, yet unwilling to damage fleet
property in front of an admiral, he elected to collapse in a chair nearby.

"Captain Brummell, we've just been rebriefed on the situation by
Fleet High Command. Apparently, intelligence had somehow misinterpreted
the status of the enemy fleet. Analysis of battle draws parallels to the
fighting style the kilrathi exhibited during the Blood Rite of Sivar in
the Firekkan Campaign. Now while we know that there is no Blood Rite
scheduled for the next decade or so, we don't know why they were fighting
with such fervor. Intelligence has suggested that the fleet was
transporting someone or something important. We don't know what
they're escorting exactly, but we have undertaken a covert ops mission
to find out. In the meantime, replacements for your depleted squadrons
will be arriving later today, you are then to join with my fleet and
engage in border patrol along the Vega Sector. Your new Wing Commander
will join us when we make the jump to the Hell's Kitchen system. You're
tired, I'll have my steward fix up a hot meal for you. Get some rest then
head back to your ship. Dimissed."

The Armageddon Factor
Chapter 2 (Cont.)
by Rick "Vodkaslime" Chan

(Parts 1&2 incl. just in case you missed em.)

"My lord, we have the final damage and casualty reports."

Khantahr Jakara gazed out the bridge viewport at the blackened
hulk of what once was, an Exeter class cruiser. He inclined his head to
the side without breaking his gaze. "Report."

"My lord, damage to the Center Launch bay has been repaired and is
fully operational. Minor damage to 3 cruisers and 2 destroyers. We have
lost only 2 escort ships, the Jarvak and the frigate Frashnak. Fighter
losses stand at 43 destroyed, 11 heavily damaged. Enemy figher losses
estimated at over 90 destroyed. We managed to destroy 1 Cruiser, 2
destroyers and inflict heavy damage to their carrier and several other

Jakara inwardly beamed with pride at the showing his cubs had
put today. Yes, Sivar would be pleased.

"Splendid. The Emperor will be pleased. Send a signal to the
rest of the fleet. Close fuel scoops, full acceleration, I want to
be in the Utigma system in six hours."

"Yes, my lord."

Turning around, he walked purposefully towards his command chair
and adjacent holomap. Punching up the sector display on the holomap, he
studied it intently planning his next series of maneuvers that would
ultimately take his fleet to their destination and the destiny of the
empire. A slight shift in the atmosphere that permeated the bridge became
noticeable, the bridge doors slid open and without turning around, he knew
who had come. "Yes, First Fang?"

"My lord, why are we not heading towards the jump point to Alpha
Draconis in pursuit of the human vermin?"

"Because, Tahmak, we have a mission to complete, one ordered by
the Prince himself. And I for one have no wish to commit Zu'kara for
disobeying my liege lord's orders. Now, get back to the launch bay and
make sure our fighters are combat ready, just in case we run into any more
of those lowborn scum."

"Epee One-Zero-Two, you have clearance to land."

The Epee light fighter executed a graceful turn as it lined up for
a landing. Gliding through the landing bay shields, the Epee gently
sailed down the length of the bay and ended with a perfect three point
landing. The cockpit egressed open and a tall lanky figured pilot stepped
the ladder, faced the Jutland's commissioning flag, threw the sharpest
of salutes then headed towards the bridge. Cradling his flight helmet
under his arm, Colonel Jeff Gyryluk strode through the corridor leading
towards the bridge. Running his fingers through a shock of unruly brown
hair, he grinned inwardly to himself as he passed a fine lookin' young
ensign. Damn, how come there aren't any good lookin' women back at
InSys Security Station? he thought as he glanced over his shoulder.
Stepping through the doors to the bridge, he asked for the commanding
officer. A bridge member pointed to the captain's quarters and Jeff
nodded his thanks.

"Colonel Jeff 'Metal Siren' Gyryluk requesting permission to come
aboard, sir." Martin, who at the moment was flipping through the pages
of the damage repair report, merely grunted. Looking up, he returned
the salute, then motioned for Jeff to take a seat.

"Granted. Well Colonel, let me fill you in on the situation.
Right now, along with the Austerlitz, Agamemnon, and St. Nazaire, we're
the only force in the region with significant enough firepower to halt a
major Kilrathi thrust. We've received reports that a substantially large
force of cats are gathering in the Rakziak system. According to
intelligence," pronouncing the word intelligence with barely concealed
sarcasm, "the cats are using that system to marshal forces for penetration
into the Enigma Sector. Now, we're to proceed with Admiral Richard's
fleet to establish a forward base in that system and eliminate the
Kilrathi currently there. We're scheduled to jump to Rakziak in eighteen
hours, I suggest you go meet the other squadron leaders and get some rest.

He entered the senior officers common area, a dimly lit area where
he spotted 3 officers sitting around a table, apparently in deep
concentration with their shooter contest. One of the officers spotted
his approach and unsteadily got to his feet.

"Hey, I'm Major Rick 'Vodkaslime' Chan, glad to have you onboard,
I'm senior squadron commander, I run Skull Squad here. These are the
other squadron leaders, the sorry lookin' fella to your left,"
he pointed to a blond haired pilot who looked like he had way too much
coffee and sugar, "is Will 'Bloody Bart' Bartlett, don't ask...he leads
Green squadron, the boy with the killer grin over there, that's Jason
'Da Funk' Locke..lock up your women if you see him on a Saturday night.
He's Ghost Squad's top kick." Locke stood up and extended his hand, "Hey,
wassup? Just thought you should know that _nobody_ can out dance me when
we're on shore leave!" Jeff returned his handshake heartily and smiled.
"And the other five squadron leaders are down below, prepping the

Jeff nodded at each one in turn. "Well, since introductions are
in order, I'm Jeff 'Metal Siren' Gyryluk, recently of InSys Security
Station Torquay. I got assigned there when I _accidently_" he rolled his
eyes skyward, "commandeered the Admiral's personal shuttle, one word of
advice for you youngsters is: beer and zero-gee don't mix." They all
laughed out loud, Will drew a chair from an adjoining table, "Join us
Colonel, we're trying to see if we can beat Rick's shooter record of 34,
and we could some fresh blood. Last man standing or last man
dragged to medbay wins."
He chuckled and thought, God damn, how come InSys was never this much fun?

Meanwhile, back at Confed Intel HQ.

"That frigate, in the Altaric Sector, what ship is that?"

"Ummmm....that's the Kinshasa, sir. A Des Moines class escort
frigate, under the command of one Captain Linda Hubert commanding."

"Current mission status?"

"None. Picket duty, sir."

"Splendid, send orders detailing her off from her current status,
and have her come to Headquarters."


With a bright incadescent flash of light, the Jutland initiated a
jump that hurled the ship across a dozen light years in an instant.

"Jump completed, sir. The rest of the fleet is rematerializing
astern of our vanguard."

Captain Brummell straightened up and grinned, "Clockwork boys,
clockwork, deploy fighters!"

Colonel Gyryluk saluted the catapult officer and hit his retros,
slamming him back into his seat as his Rapier shot out of the launch bay.
Circling about 10 klicks out, he waited impatiently as the rest of the
Jutland's squadrons launched. He turned his attention to the rest of the
fleet. The Bengal class carrier St. Nazaire was already launching
fighters and assault craft which would comprise the first planetary
assault wave.

"Combat Control, sitrep?" he requested into his comm.

"C&C here, thirty enemy Krants CAP, the carriers are moving into
closed diamond formation, escort vessels are moving to screening position,
planetary defenses are at full alert status, and a strike group of fifty
enemy fighters, mostly Gratha and Drakhris are incoming...ETA 4 minutes."

"Roger, Gold Leader to Skull Leader."

"Vodka S here, sir."

"Rick, take your squadron and stop that enemy strike, squadrons
from the Austerlitz, Agamemnon, and St. Nazaire will join you."

He watched as a dozen Rapiers peeled off and accelerated ahead
of the rest of the force.

"Ok, Red, Green and Blue squadrons, vector on me, we're going
for the heavy carrier. Ghost, you're CAP, keep the kitties at bay.
Ok Gold, let's keep the kitties offa Red's back, break formation and
open fire! Tallyho!"

Banking sharply, Jeff angled off from the rest of the formation
with four wingmen hugging his ass. Kicking in the afterburners, he sped
towards the incoming interceptors. A Krant dived down towards him, guns
blazing hot death. Swinging the flightstick back and forth, Jeff deftly
maneuvered his Rapier out of the line of fire and repositioned himself
just astern of the offending Krant. He switched to his IR missiles and
for what seemed like an eternity, waited for the tone.

"Come on, come on, Yes!" he thumbed the firing button, and a
Spiculum IR leaped towards his target. The kilrathi, well aware that he
was about to get a 500kg warhead shoved up his ass, frantically
corkscrewed his fighter in a vain attempt to get out of the missile's way.
He was so occupied with losing the missile, that he didn't notice Green
Leader's attack run. Seconds later, the cat was a rapidly expanding cloud
of particles.

"Way to go Green Leader!"

"No prob, just do the same for me sometime."

Jeff and Will reformed with three Rapiers and let another sortie
through the mass of Krants. Flying wing to wing, they led an assault on
another incoming wave of Krants, dispatching them at ease.
Will rolled his fighter and rushed headlong into a flight of Krants,
Particle guns firing madly.

"Watch it Will, four Hhriss fighters coming in on your six!"

Two of them were dispatched by one of Rick's Skull squadron
Rapiers, but the remaining two continued to bore in on Green Leader with a
vengeance. A string of missiles impacted across Green Leader's fighter.
For a moment, it seemed to hang there in space; then it disintegrated,
it's pilot a memory.


"Blue Leader here, we have preliminary lock-on the center carrier,
Red Squadron reports the same...30 second countdown commencing...keep em
offa us boys."

He looked at the strike group, 24 Broadswords lumbered on, holding
a steady course as they moved calmly forward into the maelstrom. A full
squadron of Sarthas slashed through the formation inflicting heavy damage
among the lead bombers. Sarthas, Rapiers and Krants were weaving in and
out among the Broadswords firing desperately to defend their charges.
A web of neutron bolts seemed to eminate from the bomber formation as
each of the bomber's gunners tried to ward off the enemy fighters.
Six klicks out, the carriers anti-fighter defenses opened fire. A
Broadsword ran head on into a concentrated burst of mass driver bolts, the
Broadsword turned into swiss cheese in an instant. Four more bombers were
blown apart by the fierce AA fire. The rest plodded on grimly as
attrition gnawed at their ranks.

"Right boys, hold it....hold it....targeting solution achieved!

A cluster of torpedoes sped towards the target, closing, closing.
The carrier turned away, hoping to bring it's numerous broadside batteries
to bear. The carrier had barely begun firing when the spread of twelve
torpedoes slammed into her. Explosions plumed up and down the length of
the carrier, lights dimmed, only to be replaced by the glow of onboard
fires. Large sections of the hull ruptured and spewed fire as the carrier
began listing.

"Yeeeeeeeeeeee-HAH! Nailed that sonofabitch!" someone yelled over
the taccomm frequency.

Back aboard the Jutland, Captain Brummell watched the battle
unfold on the main situational holoscreen. His forces had just splashed
one carrier and the boys from the other carriers were holding their
own. The marine transports were making planetfall as he watched flickers
of light blossom across the planet as the bombardment squadron unleashed
the full fury of their antimatter missiles. He listened in on the marine
frequency channels.

"Bravo Company here, we're taking heavy losses, trying to hold
them off, aahh!"

"LZ looks clear....taking fire! taking fi-"

"Charlie Company here, objective three secured."

"Smoke out. Make your run along the right side of the smoke."

"Incoming!Incoming!Incoming! Down! Fire at the treeline!"

"Well, it seems that the battle is going quite well, don't you
agree, sir?" an enlisted rating tech commented to Martin.
Martin nodded absently while staring transfixed at the battle screen.

"Sir, we're getting several energy readings emerging from the
darkside of the planet." announced a sensor tech.

"On screen."

Rounding the bulk of the planet and with the emerging sunlight
at their backs, came a dozen Sivar Dreadnaughts.

"Jesus..." whispered the sensor tech.

"Crap." whispered Martin.

STAY ONLiNE FOR TAF: The Search by Drew Mann
TAF: Battle Cry by Adam Keylor
TAF: The Beginning
Part Four - Killzone
by Rick "Vodkaslime" Chan

Martin visibly paled as he saw the Sivars move ever closer to the
fleet. A dazzling ball of lighting shot from the lead Sivar's Phase
Transit Cannon and impacted on one of the perimeter destroyers vaporizing
it completely. "They'll chew up the entire damn fleet!" someone blurted.
Ping! Idea! He looked at the screen with a devilish glint in his eyes as
a plan that bordered on the edge of sheer lunacy and suicide came to mind.

"Take us in!" his crew all raised their heads up, their
expressions one of sheer horror. "Order Ghost and Skull squadrons to
forward positions we're going to plow through!"

"Say what now?"

"You heard me Skull leader, closer, that's right closer, get in
there and scrap it up with those Sivars! Keep em from firing their main
guns at the carriers!"

"They don't pay us enough for this you know," he responded dryly,
"right boys, close it up, let's try and make some noise."

Ducking down under the huge engine nacelles of the Sivar he deftly
weaved throught volumes of defensive fire pouring his way. Flying down
the length of the hull with his wingmen trailing, he strafed the ship with
his particle guns. A pair of Drakhri appeared from behind the bridge and
skimmed the deck towards them firing their laser cannons. Bolt after bolt
slammed into his wingman's fighter, the Rapier tumbled and crashed on the
deck scattering pieces of fiery debris everywhere. Completing his attack
run, he shot astern of the Sivar and whirled his fighter around 180.

"Come around for another pass."

"Major..." his wingman piped up, "...the St. Nazaire..."

He turned his head and saw the St. Nazaire ablaze, fire pouring
out from half-a-dozen breaches in the hull. "Jesus." The St. Nazaire
still had internal power and still had weapons firing but was slowing
listing as Inertial Dampners and gravity control systems shorted out. A
harsh feeling of dread welled up in Rick's chest as he knew the carrier
was finished. She was trading broadsides with a large kilrathi cruiser
who continued to pummel her with Anti Matter Guns.

Onboard the Jutland, Captain Brummell looked out the viewport and
at the crippled St. Nazaire with tears in his eyes and fury in his heart,
his second oldest son served aboard her, "Cromwell? Cromwell! Get your
people to the lifepods, the Agamemnon will pick em up." Martin ordered.

"Too late....systems...inope-...only...one...thin-...do."

A score of escape pods shot out from the belly of the dying
carrier as the carrier moved relentlessly forward even though she was
dying. She slammed into the enemy heavy cruiser from the flank side
splitting the carrier open at the bow. Tongues of flame, dozens of meters
in length licked both ships as the St. Nazaire pushed on forward through
the hull of the cruiser. Martin drew in a sharp breath as the St. Nazaire
exploded. Both ships were engulfed in a bright globe of fire which left
scattering bits of flame scorched hull.

"Gold leader to Skull leader, come in."

"Here Jeff."

"Right, close it up, let's concentrate all fire on that trailing
Sivar, maybe we can overwhelm it's shields with our firepower."

"Yeah, and if my aunt had balls, she'd be my uncle." he replied

Leading the swarm of terran fighters, Jeff dove back towards the
Sivar. The flak laser turrets which dotted the hull of the Sivar, opened
fire, lasers bolts criss-crossing everywhere. The lead two fighters
disintegrated under the torrent of laser fire.

"Maintain approach!"

The fighters started loosing missiles and hastily locked torpedoes
as they screamed down the length of the Sivar. An exploding bulkhead
caught one of the trailing fighters, smashing it into oblivion. The flak
fire was getting really intense, and one glance at his shield display
showed he had enough shielding to stop a single hit before the armor would
start taking damage. The Sivar started to shake as internal explosions
rippled through the ship as the missiles and torpedoes found their mark.

"Pull out! She's gonna blow!"

"Ghost Three, get those Krants swarming the Austerlitz,
Two-Flight, keep those Grikath from making torpedo runs, Ghost Seven
respond, respond! damnit..."

J.L. was on the verge of panic, more than half his squadron was
out of commission and the other CAP squadrons were faring no better. And
still, more than fifty enemy fighters were in among fleet, wreaking total
havoc. The Jutland along with 3 destroyers were farther off, mixing it up
with the Sivar force. A bright flash filled his cockpit as a missile
detonated close to his ship. He turned his head away from the blast as
the light temporarily blinded him. He had just polished off a Jalkhei
when he spotted a swarm of blips on his scope.

J.L. swung his fighter around to face the main enemy strike group.
Laser bolts shot above his cockpit as the lead elements of the enemy
strike came into range. A lumbering Grikath bomber flew by and J.L.
immediately repositioned himself on the Grikath's high six. Firing his
particle beam cannons, he managed to score a few hits on the bomber's rear
shields making it glow red. The bomber executed a sharp bank as it
attempted to shake it's pursuer, but J.L. stuck on it's tail like glue.
Lining his ship up with the Grikath, he calmly waited for tone.

"Any day now...c'mon....yes!", but before he could thumb the
firing button, another Rapier hove into view in front of him, cannons
blazing at the Grikath and shredded it into pieces.

"Ghost Two, that was my ki- AHHHH!!!" he shrieked in midsentence
as Ghost Two executed a directional flip and came towards J.L., guns
blazing. The particle and laser bolts screamed past him and nailed a
Sartha that was maneuvering for the kill.

"Remember what you told us boss, ALWAYS watch your six."

"This is Admiral Richards on the Austerlitz, cover us, while we

"Sivar on attack vector with Austerlitz, sir."

"Bring us about 28 degrees bearing 0178 relative. Right down
their throats boys, bring all batteries to bear on that Sivar. Pour it on
boys. All hands, 4 bottles of my finest bourbon to the gunner who can
bring down that Sivar."

Kalralahr G'rax nar Caxki growled deeply, he could not afford to
lose anymore ships since they would be needed for the start of the grand
offensive the Prince was formulating. Looking at his realtime battle
display, he observed that casualties inflicted were about even, rather
than risking his fleet and the wrath of the Prince he bellowed out the
withdrawl orders much to the chagrin of his crew.

"Hey! They're pulling back!" exclaimed a surprised Ghost pilot.

"Best news I've heard all day." quipped Jeff.


"Sir, I've got Admiral Richards on the conference-link."

"In my wardroom."

"Well done gentlemen, at least we stalemated them this time. Oh
by the way, nice work Brummell, there once was a general in feudal Japan
by the name of Kamikaze, glad to see you're following in his footsteps."

"I try, sir."

Admiral Richards breathed a sigh of relief. "Well, all in all,
I'm glad the Kilrathi withdrew, the Agamemnon's missing, the Austerlitz
and Jutland both sustained a hit, and we lost the St. Nazaire and quite a
few fighters. Well, looks like you boys are up for some R&R, the Jutland
and other severly damaged ships are being detailed off to Xanadu for
repairs. I understand that they have very extensive R&R facilities

"WOOHOO!", a round of cheers rose from the assembled officers on
the comlink.

"So, that is what our cargo does..." said Khantahr Jukara.

"Yes, and now we can ensure final victory over the confederation."

Rick "Vodkaslime" Chan
University of Calgary
Feedback if you pls. (So I know how many have at least skimmed this)
TAF: The Beginning
Part Five - Downtime
by Rick "Vodkaslime" Chan

Dedicated to my girlfriend Nicole who I met in the exact same way depicted
in this chapter of TAF: The Beginning (Well, minus the interstellar war :)

"Man, it is GOOD to be on shoreleave, but you'd think with all
that we'd been through that they'd at least give us a week eh?" whined
Blake Edwards.

"Oh suck it up princess, we're at war or don't you remember?
Count your blessings that we get four days R&R." laughed J.L. <Jason

Following the stalemate battle at Rakziak, the Jutland, along with
a score of damaged ships had put down at Xanadu, the fleet's largest
repair base in the sector. The Jutland had been in drydock for almost a
week, so Rick, J.L., Blake and a new pilot named Forsythe had decided to
envoke their R&R passes and check out Xanadu's nightlife.

The four of them strode down Electric Avenue, the wildest strip in
Xanadu's primary city. They were all dressed in civvies rather than the
familiar fleet blues. In fact, if it weren't for the TCS Jutland patch
sewed onto the side of their clothes (So if they pass out, the local
police know where to dump em.) they could have passed for a bunch of early
20 year olds (Except for Blake, who was 28.) on the town who've never even
been touched by the war. But they all had lost the innocence in their
eyes, they had acquired through the horrors of war a glint that pilots get
after their first few kills. The eyes of a killer. They were headed to
The Taz, one of the best bar/nightclubs on Xanadu, frequented mainly by
the younger fighter pilots and their ground crews. As they approached the
building, they could see a very long lineup around the front of the bar,
and could hear the muffled music from the outside as they joined the
lineup which seemed to be at a standstill.

Getting impatient with the wait in the lineup outside the bar
Forsythe tried to get a conversation going, "Hey, I've got a friend up on
the bridge who handles all major fleet comm signals, and he says that
something big is happening on the farside of this sector, something bout a
huge kilrathi offensive, think we'll get a piece of that?" he eagerly

Blake turned his head and quipped, "Kid, right at this moment, I
really don't care. I just wanna get in and get thoroughly pissed. But
probably, wherever the action is, the Jutland is sure to be there.
Besides, I'd rather get a piece of something else if you know what I'm
sayin'." he finished with a grin. Forsythe just blushed.

As the line moved forward and the group came to the door, the
bouncer, an ex-marine, looked at Forsythe quizzically and asked for his

Blake shook his head and laughed, "Old enough to fly a multi-
million dollar fighter and kill, but not old enough to drink. That's a

Forsythe scowled at Blake as he took out his iD and showed it to
the bouncer.

[ NOTE: This next part is best read while listening to Track 13 ]
[ of the Trainspotting soundtrack, Close to You by Fun Factory, ]
[ ShutUp (and Sleep With Me) on the Groove Station 3 CD, or any ]
[ dance music with heavy bass. Now that we have a typical bar ]
[ mood on a Friday nite, here we go. ]

The bar was dimly lit, and the smell of cigarette smoke permeated
the air inside. The bar was packed to the maximum, there were people
everywhere, milling about talking, laughing, drinking and dancing. Pulsing
colored lights and blaring speakers enclosed a dance floor by the main
bar. Bass-intensive dance music poured from speakers around the bar and
orders for drinks could be heard from all around as patrons flagged down
bargirls or crammed the various wetbars. A few of the older patrons were
trying their luck at the VLTs (Video Lottery Terms) by the side entrance.
Shouldering their way through the crowd by the DJ booth, they made their
way to the back bar where most of the tables were situated.

"Yo buddy, 4 Corona!"

The bartender, who was busy making a quintet of shooters glanced
hurridly in Rick's direction and caught a glimpse of a fighter unit patch
on his sleeve, "Which brew fighter-jockey? We've got the original Mexican
brew, Enyo dark, and Polonius light Corona."

"Got to be the original if it's Corona."

"It's expensive though, had to be imported all the way from Earth,
48 credits."

Rick grimaced at the price since it would cut into his drinking
funds severly, but grudgingly took out the cash and handed it towards the
bartender. The bartender reached forward to take the money but stopped
when he saw Rick's unit patch on the sleeve of his Adidas (the only brand
with 3 stripes) shirt.

"Whoa, you're from the Jutland!"

"That's right."

"You flyboys saved my brother's ship at the battle of Eros 3 from
being a piece of space junk, I can't take your money, it's on the house
buddy." he said with a warm smile as he handed Rick 4 Corona with wedges
of lime placed at the mouth of the bottles.

"Hey thanks pal!"

Grabbing two beer in each hand, he made his way through the mass
of people to a table his friends had found against the wall. The dance
floor was alive with dozens of people crammed into a small enclosed area
groovin n' grinding to a loud pulsating beat. He took a quick look around
and saw some familiar faces from the Jutland and his previous posting the
Alexander. He saw a group of young fleeties who bore the insignia of the
Austerlitz sitting around a table by the dance floor looking wistfully at
the girls around them. He smiled to himself as he thought, "Damn, they're
brave enough to take a cat one-on-one in a dogfight, but they're not brave
enough to ask a girl to dance."

Rick sat down at the table and passed out the beers. He took a
long pull of his Corona savoring the smoothness of the beer tinged with
lime. Blake who chugged the entire bottle, let out a contented belch.
Scoping the bar, Rick spotted a trio of good looking women behind J.L. He
inclined his head and said, "Yo J.L., what do ya think of the slimmies
(Pronounced slim - me's Canadian slang for a hot chick.) six-o-clock low,

Casually turning around as though looking for something that had
fallen on the floor, J.L. spared a glance at the trio of women seated at a
table, drinking what appeared to be Candy Apple highballs.

"Whaddya think?" asked Rick.

Jason turned around and subtly nodded his head, "Oh yee-ah,
they're in the ga-DAMN category!"

"Whaddya say?"

"Go for it. I'll back you up with the 'Sorry, my buddy doesn't
usually hit on ugly chicks.' or the 'Thanks, my buddy bet me that you have
no personality.' routine if they smoke your ass."

Rick got up, and confidently strode towards their table, with J.L.
taking up a wingman position. Rick stepped upto the table and caught the
attention of the girl who seemed to be the leader of the three, or at
least the one who seemed to be talking the most.

"Hey can I buy you ladies a drink?" he asked with a killer grin on
his face.

The blonde haired girl he was eyeing looked up while holding a
cigarette and smiled, "Sure, pull up a chair." Rick made eye contact with
the bargirl and made the hand signal for 3 Vodkaslimes. Then he shifted
his gaze back to her. J.L. was right! They all were in the ga-DAMN!
category. He stole a glance at her body, she was wearing black
bell-bottom pants and a tight silver shirt from Le Chateau.

"I'm Rick and this is my good friend J.L. we're offa the Jutland."

"Please ta meetcha! I'm Nicole and this is Sarah and Jody." she
said matter-of-factly.

They both sat down, J.L. immediately turned and asked Sarah to
dance, they both got up and headed for the dance area. The moment they
stepped onto the dance floor J.L. started working his magic on the floor
which earned him the callsign "Da Funk". He didn't look like a fighter
pilot with dozens of kills, he looked like a normal 20 year old who really
knew how to dance.

Rick and Nicole in the meantime, where busy talking about anything
and everything that came to mind, it was like somebody had given both of
them a verbal enema (Pleasant thought), while they both were busy draining
Vodkaslimes. Rick cut her off and asked, "Would you like to dance?"

"I'd love to."

He took her hand in his and led her to the dance floor. The DJ
put on grinding music (Sounds like "Mouth" by Merrill Bainbridge) He put
his right arm around her waist while his left hand held a Corona upto his
lips. "What could be better?" he thought as they started grinding to the
beat of the music both of her thighs squeezing his right leg as they
really started to grind, "A Corona in one hand, and a gorgeous woman in
the other." and he briefly glanced at the holoscreen as Nicole rested her
head on his shoulder.

The main holoscreen located on the back wall showed live footage
of a minor skirmish between InSys Security fighters and a Kilrathi Raider
Carrier. A cheer went up from those watching the holoscreen as InSys
fighters tore the kilrathi carrier apart. A chorus of "SHOOTER!"
immediately followed. It was customary since the late 20th century when
your team scored a goal and you were in a bar, a free shooter was given;
now with the war on, as a morale booster, everytime confed splashed a
carrier, a free shooter was in order.

The bartenders made a round of "Sex on the Beach"s and J.L. left
the dance floor holding Sarah's hand and rushed to the main bar for his
free alcohol. While waiting for the shooters to be made, he turned his
attention to the huge 150 inch holovid screen which now showed a holodrama
native to Sirius. Real sappy stuff. The screen fizzled for a bit then
was replaced by the words TCN Special Report. J.L.'s interest was piqued
and he hollered for one of the bartenders. Several other off-duty fleeties
turned around and watched the screen as well.

"Yo bartender! Turn up the volume on the vid!"

"...remains unconfirmed, but Confed High Command has announced
that they have lost contact with the colony on Zaurak Two along with the
32nd Fighter Wing stationed there. Deep space sensor probes in that
sector detected a huge amount of IR radiation just before contact was
lost. Planetary Disaster Teams are already enroute to the planet. This
has been a TCN Special Report."

As the broadcast ended, a flurry of beeper calls could be heard
above the music in the bar. Rick glanced down at his beeper and saw the
recall orders. He got up and hurried back to the table where Blake and
Forsythe were, with J.L. and the girls in tow.

Blake and Forsythe, who hadn't budged an inch since sitting down,
were each polishing off their seventh beer (Foster's Dark) and swapping
bartales with a trio of pilots who had sat down with the two.

"Pffft! dat's nuttin young'in...I once took out a whole
sch-quadron by meself with a Scimitar." ranted Blake.

He tapped both Blake and Forsythe and shouted to be heard above
the music, "Hey! We've just been recalled! We're supposed to report back
to the Jutland!"

"SAY WHAT NOW?!?!?!?!"

"We're being recalled." he sighed.

He turned to Nicole and gave a sheepish sort of grin, "Crap, well
it's been nice, I'll give you a shout if I'm ever in this sector."

"But I'll be up there with you also, didn't you see my unit
patch?" she turned and showed him the unit patch on the side of her Le
Chateau stretch shirt. "I'm with the heavy cruiser Bastogne attached to
Richard's reinforced fleet."

"Yeah??! What's your fullname then? I'll try and call you if you
get assigned to the same flotilla as me."

"Nicole Larson!" and almost as an afterthought she shouted "Second
Lieutenant Nicole Larson!" as she exited the bar and into a military
transport with her friends.

Half the bar cleared out as the recall sounded for most ships
crews on shoreleave. Outside, they could see dozens of shuttles lifting
from the spaceport miles away; and shore police troops swarming the area
picking up those too drunk to stand.

"God f-cking damnit! It's not f-cking fair." cried an enraged and
extremely buzzed Blake.

"Welcome to the real world." said J.L.

Rick "Vodkaslime" Chan
University of Calgary
Feedback if you pls.
Corona: #1 Beer in Canada and Baja California!