1997/98 The Armageddon Factor PBeM: Red Storm


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.

I don't remember how this branch started... it HAS been 13 years :) Ah, good times :)

TAF--Red Storm: Storms on the Horizon
By Josh Sholes "Mastermind"

The usual warning--No offensive material (for once)

Bridge, RS Dark Star
1712 hours

"Admiral on deck!"

The entire bridge crew started to their feet as Confed Lt.Col.
Johan "Mastermind" Ramius, Admiral of the Red Storm Privateer Cartel,
strode out from the lift. "No, no, as you were," he muttered, waving them
down. As the remainder of the bridge crew returned to their preparations
for their cruiser's launch in two hours, Captain (Navy) Kalinka Rose-Ramius
turned to greet her husband.

"And how was your assignment?" she asked.

"It went as expected." Ramius was a privateer at heart, but had
been recruited long before by the late Admiral Kiner after several successes
against Kilrathi incursions into Gemini. As such, he was often on call to
the Confederation, and rotated on and off duty on three to six month shifts.
He was now just returning from a analyist position with Special Ops at
Perry. He kissed Kalinka on the cheek and settled into the command chair
on the bridge.

"Anything happening?"

"As a matter of fact, yes. There's a Priority Red message from
Confed HQ waiting for you. It just got in right before your shuttle

"Saen. Route it to my quarters." He stood again and strode
impatiently to his quarters which were located just off the bridge. Upon
entering, he locked the door, sat at the terminal, and began to read the

Bridge, RS Dark Star
1732 hours

The bridge crew continued their duties, but not as effectively as
before. Now, they gossiped about the message, and speculated what it
could have said that would keep their normally decisive commander closeted
in his ready room for so long.

As the minutes streched by, the crewers became more and more tense, so
that when Ramius finally stormed out onto the bridge, many of them jumped
at the
suddenness of his entrance. Without pausing, he growled "Captain, our

"Well, Johan, we'll be fully ready in another hour."

"Contact the others. I need the entire cartel ready to deploy
within the hour. Get the fighters docked and ready, but leave 'em behind
if they can't be aboard when we're ready to leave. Priority to the
lights--the heavies and bombers can jump and overtake us."


"Carry it out."

With that, the crew spun into action. Only after an hour had
passed, after all eight capital ships had formed up and began toward the
jump point, did anyone feel the need to speak to their commander.

"Johan, all of the starfighters are docked, and only four bombers
are going to have to catch up. Now, what's wrong?" Kalinka inquired

"We've been recalled by Confed to active duty, all of us.
Something has gone terribly wrong."


Red Storm currently has positions open for:
2nd Flotilla Commander (two destroyers, two vettes, and a fighter
Wing Commander for the 2nd Flotilla

Lt. Col. J. "Mastermind" Ramius, Wing XO of the TCS Camelot
Subject: TAF: Red Storm - The Winds Begin to Blow

Hi, I've been asked to forward the latest installment of the TAF: Red
Storm Saga by Josh Sholes. Red Storm take place in tandem with TAF: The
Search by Drew Mann.

TAF(Red Storm): The Winds begin to Blow
by Josh Sholes

Profanity, violence (space combat), and minor flirting :)
Don't Like, Don't Read.

O-Deck, RS Dark Star
Orbiting Gorah Kar
One week later

"The question is, what the HELL are we doing here?" growled
Garied "Slayer" Hetric, the the Wing CO of Red Storm 1st Flotilla. "We have
CONTRACTS due, for Christ's sake...we can't just throw everything in the
toilet over some stupid Confederation mission."

"Cut it, hireling. You do what the boss tells you--we pay you
regardless, so why do you care?" Kalinka "White Rose" Ramius replied
testily. She wasn't in the mood to hear her husband's decisions be
malinged, especially by someone she was paying. Johan Ramius had gone
over by starfighter to the orbital base over an hour ago, to receive
orders or some such, and things always seemed more tense in his absence.

"Because, MY rep depends on YOU losers! I don't need to be known
for flying with a group that reneges on jobs...If that moron were here,
I'd tell him what I thought of his priorities AND his highbrow Confed
friends. You oughta turn this whole damn flotilla around and..."

Johan Ramius had strode into the lounge. Now he
interrupted. "We continue on, Hetric, because our contract with the
Terran Confederation supersedes all our others--they know that, they
accept that, or they wouldn't have hired us. Now get to your posts, both
of you. We set out in ten minutes for the Kilrathi border--order
navigation to set course for the Jugara system."

Resignedly, Hetric strode out, leaving the husband and wife alone.

"Johan, what's in the Jugara system? I've never heard of it."

He sighed. "I can't tell you what our mission is, yet...but
Jugara is only the first stop. It's on the far side of an old Kilrathi
raider jump, probably still unknown to Confed...I found out about it from
a defected Kilrathi about two years ago. Nearly unknown, but it leads to
the very heart of the cat's core systems--J'tark, Gul'thag, and even
Kilrah itself are within four jumps of it." Noting Kalinka's face turn
pale, he added "No, we aren't striking the Kilrathi homeworlds." She
looked visibly relieved at that, and headed out, turning toward the bridge
lift. "No, just the closest spot to hell in the universe..." he muttered,
watching her go.

1st Flotilla, Red Storm
Jugara System

The crew braced as the first flotilla pushed through the jump
point into the Jugara system. As the crew struggled to recover from
jumpshock, the tactical officer called out a warning. "Admiral! I've got
Kilrathi vessels on my scope!"

"Okay, tactical," Johan growled from his command chair. "Tell me
what we've got, calmly if possible."

"My count is one probable Fraltha mark I, and two Ralari
destroyers--practically antiques. Also, ten small contacts escorting.
Range is approximately 80000 klicks, and they're coming around towards us
quickly. ETA about, uh, 10 minutes."

"Good work on the ident, especially at that range. You're
promoted to lieutenant commander. Red alert, pilots to their
ships...Comm, pass the word to all vessels, and drop a message pod for the
2nd Flotilla." Red Storm's premier destroyer/cruiser Dark Star, it's
fighter support vessel Gandalf, and two of it's Mod Venture corvettes were
traveling together with two Drayman marine 'sports, with the remnants--two
each Mod Exeters and Mod Ventures, with four Draymans--followed behind.
"Signal all fighters to launch when ready, but keep them close right now.
Helm, start turning us, I want to skirt just out of the cat's weapons
range." The Dark Star alone carried a brand-new Anti-matter Cannon, while
the rest of the ships were armed with the standard torpedos for
anti-capship work. Having given all the tactical orders he could at think
of, he turned to Kalinka. Kissing her on the forehead, he whispered "I'm
going to my bomber." Then louder, "You have the bridge, Captain."

As he left the bridge, she wiped a tear of fear from her eye and
settled foreward in her seat, watching as the fighter screen assembled.

RS Gandalf Flight Bay
Four minutes later

Hetric strode into the flight bay to find several technicians
doing last-minute checks on his Gladius Mk. II fighter. Waving them off,
he crawled into his cockpit, fighting the urge to duck as the other,
mostly civilian pilots roared out of the bay over and around any late
arrivals. Cutting lose with a barrage of profanitiy at a particularly
near miss, he sealed his cockpit and found to his relief that the
preflights were already done. He immediately punched his burners and took
off into the fighter cloud. "This is Foxhound leader, airborne."

Immediately the comm resounded with jibes: "About time, boss."
"Gonna join us for once?" "Aren't you glad you got off that thing?"

He found the last to be too true. The Red Storm "carrier" was
little more than a fuel tank with engines and a launch bay. It carried a
pitiful seven turrets to defend itself and its complement of 32 fighters
and bombers, and it's only offensive weapons were torpedos to be used to
breach an enemy's shield prior to a desperation ram. Pushing those
thoughts out of his head, he settled into an easy orbit around the
formation. "Okay, who's up?" he asked.

"Fox One, here."

"Fox Three is airborne." And slowly, the rest of the fighters in
his heavy squadron acknowledged.

"Drakhen leader reporting all ready." That was the wing of light

"Galaxy lead is here and ready." Ramius's basso voice echoed over
the circuits. "Let's do some damage, shall we? Try to merely disable one
of the Ralaris, people, otherwise shoot to kill."

Hetric grinned. The one thing he liked about Ramius, aside from
the paychecks, was his ability to give lame pep talks. Which of course
cleared the way for his own one-liners. "Okay, boys, how many ways can
YOU skin a cat?" Laughter echoed over the comms, followed by a silence.
Then a new voice came up.

"So, the primates come! We shall have victory tonight,
brothers...for the glory of Sivar!"

"Foxhound, cover the bombers. Drakhen, engage at will. Boss,
kill that Fraltha, alright?"

"Have no fear, Hetric. I'll do exactly that."

The fighters broke away, leaving only four Centurions to defend
the capital ships, and swept in toward the incoming Kilrathi cruisers and
their J'raktekh escorts.


"Watch yourself, boss, you've got three coming in!" Hetric
bellowed as a trio of cats dived from above the bombers.

"Cover them--we're in aquisition and going for lock!" But the
Galaxys jinked just the same, and streams of Tachyon rounds began pumping
out of several of their top turrets.

Hetric sighed and slid his fighter around, opening fire with his
own tachyon guns, distracting an already damaged J'raktekh. Its pilot
pulled back in a textbook Immelman turn, but Hetric hung on and launched a
HS missile after him. He scored several more hits on his opponenet's rear
shield before the missile impacted, blowing off an engine and leaving the
enemy spinning helplessly. He turned back and locked on to another,
firing two I/R missiles at it, then spinning to the third. Sparing a
glance at his sensors, he noted that several red dots were gone, but he
thought that a few blue dots might be missing as well. Shoving that
thought to the back of his mind, he raked his target with fire as two of
the bombers caught it in a crossfire with their turrets. It exploded in
seconds. The bombers crossed 3000 klicks and began to drop their first
salvo of torpedos--two on the Ralari, and six on the Fraltha. As the
cruisers' point-defense lasers began tracking the deadly missiles, several
more red blips appeared as eight Strakhas uncloaked.

"Damn! Drakhen flight, get them!" Ramius was getting concerned.
Although they still outnumbered their opponenets, he knew he couldn't
afford to lose anything if his real mission were to be a success. And
yet, the entire mission seemed to be cursed with bad luck. First the
incident with his wing commander, then the appearance of a support group
at their first jump into enemy space, and now the stealths. He prayed
feverently that nothing else would happen.

As he turned the bomber flight back around, he watched the first
torpedos impact on the enemy. Once again proving that undefended capital
ships were no match for fighters, the Ralari exploded almost immediately,
as the first torpedo impacted its reactor. The Fraltha took longer, and
flames could be seen spewing from several locations as it shook in its
death throes, until it finally succumbed to a row of explosions along its
keel, breaking it in two.

"Good job, Galaxys, now let's go..what the?!" The last was as a
Strakha decloaked directly in front of him, impacting on his forward
shield and severely damaging his front armor. "SHIT!"

"What's up, boss?" Hetric inquired worriedly.

"Ahh, bird in the windshield, nothing serious. Carry on."

"Yeah, sure, boss." He turned his fighter again, but didn't
manage to hit the Strakha that had appeared behind him before it cloaked
again. "There's got to be a better way to do this." He spun a moment
longer, then had a flash of inspiration. Selecting all of his F/F homing
missiles, he launched them as fast as he could. Seeing him, the other
fighters began to do so one by one. As the Strakhas uncloaked, more often
than not they found themselves at point-blank range with two or more
missiles, and within a few seconds the last Kilrathi fighter remnants were
gone. Hetric grinned behind his mask and selected leech missiles, and
turned his squadron against the last Ralari as the Dark Star came into
range of its AMG and began to fire.

Bridge, Dark Star
Thirty Minutes Later

Kalinka Ramius watched out of the viewports as the 'sports
launched their assualt craft against the damaged Ralari. Now it was a
race to see whether they could land before the destroyer crews repaired
their main power conduit, hit by a lucky missile shot from one of the
fighters...No, the shuttles were docking now--it was only a matter of
time. "Get a prize crew ready." she called to the XO, who quickly ran to
comply. She then turned to her husband, who was reading damage reports.
"How does it look, darling?"

"Bad enough," he growled. "We lost two Centurions and a Galaxy.
Damn it, we NEED every ship we have!" He shook his head.

"What is it? What could be so important that it could make you
like this?"

Johan just shook his head once, then turned to watch the Ralari.
In his mind, he was calculating time...time to capture the ship--was it
worth it?--time before enemy re-enforcements arrived, time before they
reached their mission objective...

He vaguely heard a new voice on the com, and looked at the
tactical display to see that the rest of their ships had jumped in without
incident. He breathed a little easier at the additional firepower, but
remained worried about the engagement--and the fact that the Kilrathi knew
they were here--deep in enemy territory--and still far from their goal...

Josh "Mastermind" Sholes <joshs@mail.csrlink.net
a.k.a. Lt. Col. J. "Mastermind" Ramius, Flight Wing Commander, TCS
a.k.a. Sir Mastermind the Paladin

Stay Online for TAF: The Search pt 2.
and TAF: Warrior's Saga - detailing the RS Marines boarding
action of the Ralari
The 3rd part in the TAF: Red Storm series... takes place right after TAF:
Red Storm Warrior's Saga part 1.

Next installment for after "The winds begin to blow"
This one leaves another Marine story open, and even though it seems to be
3:2 odds against, they can always recruit from the base's populace and
free to call for airstrikes.

As for the Vaktoths, I assume that even though it's a little early for
them chronologically, they'd be in service with the Imperial Guard before
they hit the front lines.

And now, without further ado,....

TAF-Red Storm: A Brief Lull...
by Josh Sholes
Note: While this looks like a knockoff of TAF: The Beginning Part 5, it's
actually been being written for a while--no better way to see true
character than to get someone drunk, eh? :)

Usual Warning: Pretty bad profanity, lotta drunken fools
Don't Like, Don't Read
[The two different times are to give the reader a sense of the confusion
inherent in shuttling between a ship set to earth time and a station with
far different time...especially under duress.]

J'trap'tahl Renegade Base
Shemy'ara System, Kilrah Sector, Kilrathi Empire
2227 hours local, 1427 Confed Standard

Three days after TAF: The Winds Begin to Blow

Ramius sat back, glancing around the dimly lit room. The red
shade of the lighting was glaring, but there was no avoiding this place,
nor its denziens. Vague shapes moved in the semi-darkness, occasionally
passing close enough to resolve into a coherent form--mostly
disreputable-looking humans or large, intimidating Kilrathi. Ramius
sighed, and tightened his hand around his glass of Stoychyana vodka.
Places like this were the best kept secrets of the "Free Traders", who had
long allied themselves with the Kilrathi renegades that first surfaced on
Gorah Kar almost a decade ago. Most of the rest of the Red Storm crewers
that were on liberty were somewhere in the human section of the base,
which was situated on a minor asteroid in an undefended, worthless system.
Only the most brave or foolhardy ventured into the Kilrathi-run areas--or
else those with a job to do. At length, one of the shadows that had been
roaming the room approached the privateers. As it neared, it resolved
itself into an aged Kilrathi male, whose scars bespoke a long career as a
warrior. "I am told you wish to speak to me, Terran," he rumbled.

"Yes, J'rathkal nar Khasra, I do. I am told your people have
begun testing a new..."

The Kilrathi gestured sharply. "I have heard many tales of
something that may be what you are seeking. However, they are mere
rumor--except this. The An'shar system has recently become the site of
much secrecy and much activity. Perhaps this relates to your mission?"

"That will be most useful, J'rathkal. You do me honor by sharing
your knowledge."

The Kilrathi chuckled harshly. "Not for your sake, human. That
which you fear, we fear as well. You merely do our work for us. I take
my leave now." He started to leave, then hesitated, turned back and
whispered, "Fight for the glory of Sivar, human. What they do perverts
our honor and poisons our very souls." He quickly disappeared into the
smoke and haze.

As he watched the alien disappear, Ramius silently congratulated
himself. He had taken a large risk, splitting his group after the battle
at Jugara. He had sent most of the marines and the faster vessels to
patrol the nearby systems and check for a relay telling them that Confed
had found their target. The remaining line ships and marines had
immediately fled to this system to attempt to find this base, which Ramius
had heard mentioned but had never had reason to find before. He'd pulled
in a lot of favors in order to get its location, and he wasn't really sure
what he'd find. Upon arrival, he had sent his crew on much-needed
liberty, while he had asked around for several hours to find someone
willing to give him information.

Now it seemed that his gamble may have paid off. He smiled slightly, and
raised his glass to his lips and sipped contentedly. As he was drinking,
however, one of the younger members of the Dark Star's crew ran into the
hall, looking like he was going to die of fright at any second.

"Sir! Boss, we got trouble!"

"What is it, pal?"

"Hetric's picking fights with the Kilrathi, and he's..." Ramius
cut him off.

"Oh, shit. Come on!" Ramius grabbed the startled technician by
the arm and half-dragged him back toward the human-run bar.

"Sivar's Dead" Bar, J'trap'tahl Renegade Base
2232 hours local

[To get the true effect, play Metallica's "Don't Tread On Me" while
reading this segment...]

Classic hard rock blared out of wall speakers as several Terrans
and a few Kilrathi either drank, danced, or (mostly the Kilrathi) looked
curiously at the others in the bar. In appearance and atmosphere, this
place differed little from its Kilrathi counterpart on the other half of
the base--the lights were blue-green and white for the most part, but the
smoke, noise, and general impersonal qualities were intact. Over fifty
crewers and officers from the four Red Storm ships were congregated here,
while their ships rode in orbit. Most were either dancing and moving in
order to pick up someone of the opposite sex, or were drinking to garner
enough courage to do so. In a corner, six or seven officers were playing
a rowdy game of pool, to the grand enjoyment of the rest of the drunks.
Most of the people were merely trying to forget the tension of being so
deep in enemy territory. A few, however, had other, less civilized
pursuits in mind. In a dark corner near the bar, heated words in two
languages could be picked up even over the noise.

"Come on, yooou mangy sunuva..." Garied "Slayer" Hetric babbled
drunkenly, swaying unsteadily. "I'll kick yooor sorr-ry flee-ah
rid-den..." He never finished the sentence, as the similarly intoxicated
Kilrathi delivered a ferocious backhand, knocking him flat.

"Next time, you'll face my claws, Terran scum. I have no time for
you. Hrragh'raagh!" Just then, Ramius burst in, as Hetric drew back for a
roundhouse punch.

"What the devil are you doing, Slayer!" he bellowed, grabbing
Hetric's elbow. Reflexively, Hetric spun and punched with his other hand.
Ramius ducked and gave his Wing CO a fierce right cross to the jaw. The
combined force of the punch and the beer knocked Garied cold. Meanwhile,
Kalinka caught sight of the happenings and ran toward the fight.

"Johan, what's happening?" she inquired.

"Ahh, Gari's been getting blasted again. Help me drag this
bonehead to the shuttles."

"Gahh...Don't need no fucking shuttle...gimmie a beer." Slayer
muttered drunkenly.

Johan raised an eyebrow, amused. "You sure, Gari? You really
wanna get shredded by some drunk cat? Wanna puke all over like you did on
Gorah Kar?"

"Yeahh, you betcha, bossss...Gonna kick some feline ass..." He
grunted unintelligbly for a few seconds, then passed out again.

Kalinka looked distastefully at the pilot. "I thought you were
going to suspend his liberty privledges for a while, dear."

"And have him tear up MY ship? You've got to be kidding. Come
on, you, " he gestured to a crewman who was drinking nearby, "help me put
him somewhere. I don't need him aboard yet." Together, they dragged the
unconcious Hetric to the pool table and dropped him unceremoniously on top
of it, effectively stopping the game to the jeers and catcalls of the
observers and the irritation of the players. All opposition was
effictively crushed, however, at the sight of who had initiated the
action. Johan Ramius was not to be trifled with under the best of
circumstances, let alone when irritated and slighty inebriated. After
making sure Hetric wasn't going anywhere for a while, and that the pool
players wouldn't move him, he caught the next shuttle back to the ship.

"Sivar's Dead" Bar, J'trap'tahl Renegade Base
0218 hours local, the next day

Hetric felt a sharp blow to his head, followed by one to his knee.
"Whaaathaa@#$%?" he groaned, trying to pull himself from sleep. Another
blow to the side woke him completely, and he sat up and started swinging
wildly, scattering the three drunks who'd been trying to play pool with
Hetric still on the table. "Gahh...where the bloody devil am I?" He
looked around. The bar was mostly deserted, with only the drinkers
remaining, most of those looking for more basic entertainment had long
since gone to more fertile hunting grounds. Realizing where he was, he got
up and staggered to the bar. He had just ordered a beer and began to sip
at it when the loudspeaker blared, "Kilrathi ships entering system. All
RS personnel to their fighters to leave within fifteen minutes." The
message was repeated several times, in English, Kilrathi, and Firekkan.
Garied growled and swore under his breath. Ordering anti-alcohol pills
and taking them, he sprinted unsteadily to the hangar of the base,
tripping several times.

As he approached his fighter, he shook his head, trying to speed
the sobering process. He got to the boarding ramp for his Gladius, only
to find his copilot waiting. "Get in, Gari. You get yourself into
something close to battle readiness, I'm going to launch."

"What's the opposition?"

"Got eight J'raktekh, sixteen heavies I've never seen--the
renegade cats call 'em Vaktoth or something. May be a standard cruiser
floating on the system's fringes, I dunno. We got at least a division of
marine 'sports inbound--we're tasked to hit them. Our 'sports are trying
to power up, but we don't think that they have time."

"Well, what are we waiting for?" He reached over and strapped in
as his copilot lifted off their heavy fighter.

RS Dark Star, system fringe
1819 Standard, 0219 hours local

Ramius stood in the center of his bridge, giving clipped orders to
the Dark Star and his two escort 'vettes. He growled reflexively. The
"cruiser" the base had reported was actually four light destroyers in
close formation--two Ralari, two a new type that hadn't made the front
lines yet. "If nothing else, the blasted intel we get will be worth it."
he grumbled. Fortunately, his thought he had the edge in starfighter
cover. Behind him, the base's fighters were scrambling. Although they
were mostly older Kilrathi models, there were a good twenty-four of them,
in addition to his twelve. His twelve bombers were setting up for their
own runs, either on the Kilrathi marine 'sports or else the destroyer
flotilla along with his capital ships, while his starfighter tender (he
didn't feel it deserved the title of "carrier") hid. The only part of the
operation that worried him was his two 'sports, trapped on the base. He
couldn't afford to lose any marines at all--his forces were too small as
it was for their assigment. He settled back to observe the tactical
screen. His forces were arrayed in a semi-circle, centered on Dark Star
and the two vettes, with the bombers spread out in two lines. Opposite
them, the destroyers hung in their diamond formation, with little
clearance between them. They were obviously trying to overlap their
shields, Ramius thought. He gave clipped orders for the bombers to fire
at maximum range, and had his capships and vettes move in. The bombers
complied almost instantly, firing two precious torpedos each and turning
off. He felt the own slight tremors of the artigrav as the AMG on his
destoryer fired, drawing off power from "non-combat-essential" systems,
like advanced life support. Ramius looked at the display one more
time, and crossed his fingers...Too late, the Kilrathi commander realized
his error, and the four destroyers scattered as the torpedos began to hit.
One Ralari took four hits on its right engines, and heeled over--directly
into it's formation mate, destroying both. As the other torps and AMG
rounds hit home at long range, the other destroyers were gravely wounded,
but both got off full spreads of their own torps before becoming
completely disabled.

"Damn!" Ramius growled. He quickly gave new sets of orders, this
time to turn the ship to unmask as many point-defense turrets as possible.
The bombers rushed back in now, firing madly but having little chance of
intercepting the inbound missiles. Just as quickly, one of the
'vettes--an old-model Venture, dived out in front of the formation at full
throttle, serving to attract most of the homing systems on the torpedos to
it. At the last minute, several escape pods jettisoned from it, as it
took twelve direct hits in the span of a few seconds. The remaining
'vette and the Dark Star continued firing, and hit all but two of the
torps. As they passed within 3000 m, two of Red Storm's Galaxy bombers
dived across the formation and rammed the torpedos.

Ramius heaved a deep sigh, and bowed his head. A tear slowly
formed as he ordered the remaining bombers to form up, and turned his
flagship back toward the beleagured station. He then transmitted orders
for his 'vette to hunt survivors. The whole episode had taken less than
two minutes, and yet had resulted in the deaths of at least two hundred
times that. He bowed his head in thought as Kalinka took over the command
of the vessel, accelerating it back in-system.

RS Gladius 001 "Slayer's Sword"
1822 Standard, 0222 hours local

Garied spun his suprisingly nimble fighter, shocking his opponent
long enough for him to unload his last two DumbFire missiles into its
weakened side armor, destroying it. He smirked. The Gladius Mk. II was
one of the fastest heavy fighters in production, and his was faster still.
At the moment, however, he wished for the heavy shields and armor of the
new Kilrathi "Vaktoth", as they were seemingly called. After three
minutes--an eternity in a dogfight--he'd only managed to down one, plus a
pair of 'sports. He'd already expended all eight of his DF missiles in
futile attempts to weaken the other Vaktoths' shields for the others. The
fight wasn't going in his side's favor. The opposition had only lost five
heavies and four mediums, as opposed to the loss of one Red Storm fighter
and twelve of the base's defenders. He swept around and spotted another
'sport trying to break the perimiter around the station. He afterburnered
toward it and loosed both his heat-seekers, exhausting his missile supply,
and grinned as a Galaxy bomber dropped another pair of missiles in after
his, destroying the hapless transport's engines and sending it spinning
through space. He began to feel hits on his rear shield, and looked
around to see a pair of Vaktoths taking turns hammering him. He
immediately began spinning his fighter in an astounding variety of
maneouvers, in an attempt to shake his pursuers. So engrossed was he with
this that he failed to notice the J'raktekh that fired a missile salvo at
him. As a leech missile exploded on his engines, his fighter fell dead in
space. He sat and resigned himself, and waited for the explosion. It
didn't come after a few seconds, and he looked up, only to see a huge gray
hull race past over him, impossibly close. "What the fuck?!" he yelled,
then watched as the shape pulled far enough away to reveal itself as the
Dark Star racing through at maximum speed. Between the returning
destroyer and bombers and the remaining fighters, they made a fast, clean
sweep of the remaining enemy fighters. However, as Garied watched
helplessly, a single Kilrathi 'sport made it to the base, and disgorged
its complement of thirty marines. He shuddered in sympathy for those
still on the ground as the RS Gandalf CVE picked up his disabled fighter.

Josh "Mastermind" Sholes <joshs@mail.csrlink.net

a.k.a. Lt. Col. J. "Mastermind" Ramius, Flight Wing Commander, TCS
a.k.a. Sir Mastermind the Paladin