Sigh, will I never learn. Greetings all. Once again a passing Wing Commander Fan fic urge appeared and thus i've started on a new project. As some of you have seen repeatedly however, my projects have the unfortunate habit of ending abruptly nowhere near the end. I can't promise it'll be any different for this one, but if nothing else I waited until I had four different installments ready and written before uploading anything, so there will be more than usual, more or less. I'm trying to convey different perspectives from Confed, Border Worlds and Kilrathi accounts of events from WC1 (and before) to Secret Ops (and thereafter). Accounts are colour co-ordinated; Blue = Confed, Green = Border Worlds, Red = Kilrathi. Hope you enjoy 1. January 17th 2663 Rho wing – BWS Magellan Racene system - Enigma Sector 2nd Lieutenant Percival ‘Falchion’ Williams I’d been flying off of the Magellan for two weeks, having been dragged out of the academy two years ahead of schedule thanks to a shortage of pilots on the border. I was feeling rather miserable I must admit. I’d been sent into a war zone feeling anything but ready for it and what’s more, I was the only rookie on the ship, everyone else from my class having gotten transferred to either the Intrepid or the Tybalt. The Magellan, a smashed up Confed Exeter bought on the cheap, boasted ten pilots in all. The other nine all knew each other, they had fought side by side for at least the past year, they were a team. I was the green, nervous plebe filling the bunk of 1st Lieutenant Alison Klim, the team-member that had been killed two weeks prior. When I wasn’t feeling painfully awkward onboard ship, I was feeling shit scared inside the cockpit of my banshee. Kilrathi fighters had been harassing convoys in Racene, Telamon and Ghorah Khar for weeks now. This wasn’t just a matter of a dozen or so privateers, these were Imperial fighters flying in such numbers as could only come from Snakier carriers. As yet, the Magellan’s rearguard patrols hadn’t come across any enemy fighters; a fact I was rather glad of. I was certain that my first encounter with a Kilrathi ship could only result in my death. I wasn’t fucking ready for Christ’s sake. What the hell were they thinking, putting me out here now? January 17th, my fourth ever patrol. It was a standard three point route which took us through an asteroid field and passed a civilian refinery. I was flying with the wing commander, Captain Olivia ‘Sculptor’ Alvarez. She seemed decent enough, so far as I knew. The other pilots certainly had no bad word to say about her. Nav 1 came and went. The asteroids were motionless and offered enough gaps not to pose a problem. It was on the way to Nav 2 that the Captain announced. “Shit. Kats on radar.” My eyes darted to the radar, I saw a tight cluster of red and orange dots, and my heart sank. We had run into the vanguard of an enemy advance through this system. I thought dismally. Death has found me at last. “Five Sarthas, and three Dorkathi. What do you say child? Think we can take them.” I quite literally slapped myself in the ribs in penance for my self pity a moment ago. I abruptly felt more stupid then doomed at this revelation that we did actually, in theory, had a chance of survival. “I think we can Captain.” I lied. I think at the time it just seemed like the polite thing to say. “Right answer.” Came the brisk reply. “Break and attack, but stay close. We’ll try and shoot them off each other’s backs.” “Understood Captain.” To my credit, I had spent a lot of time in the simulator, both at the academy and onboard ship. I did have some idea of what to do. The closest ship was 15,000 km away, much closer than I expected. Evidently they were afterburning towards us. “I will tear the skin from your hrai, terran!” A snarling Kilrathi voice announced over the radio. The white lines on the HUD identified the heckler as my target. “Go shit in your hat and punch it!” I shot back. My father used to say that to motorists who got in his way. I’m not sure if the Kilrathi actually wear hats, come to think of it. I saw three Sartha heading towards me. Just before they entered weapons’ range I rotated my ship 90 degrees and pulled away, letting lose an FF missile. Their shots went wide, but so did my missile. I swung around and fired at the closest of the three Sartha, who were now scattering. Out of the ten shots I fired, two impacted on its shields, doing no mentionable damage at all. It was tempting to give chase, but my orders were to cover my wing leader. I can’t say I was happy at the prospect of leaving three enemy fighters on my tail, but I suppose I’d just have to trust Captain Alvarez to keep them busy. Her fighter was actually much closer to mine than I expected; 6000 meters. I swung around to face one of the red dots close to her blue dot on my radar, and found two Sarthas on her tail. Both were in firing range, but seemed to be closing further in before shooting. She was trusting me to keep her intact; trusting me with her life. Was she insane? Regardless, I fired a second FF missile, this one straight down the throat of one of the starboard Kilrathi fighter. I afterburned passed it, noticed a bright flash to my left and, when I turned around, noticed a small cloud of twisted debris where once a Kat fighter had been. “Kilssttsrraaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!” Roared a second Kilrathi as the Captain ripped it apart with her lasers. Two down, and so far as I could tell neither of us had taken a hit. Maybe we had a chance after all. As if in answer to my thoughts, my ship suddenly rocked under the impact of neutron cannon fire from one of my pursuers, and then the next. I rolled again, and sped out of the way, managing to lose them for a moment. I called up the most distant of the Sarthas, the one still chasing Alvarez, and sped off after it. One image recognition missile later and it was dead. Two kills, I had taken out two enemy fighters, and there were only two left. Unfortunately, those two were still on my tail. Before I could turn away, I noticed the white trail of a dumb fire missile pass rather gracefully overhead. If it had hit me, it would have killed me, and I cannot exaggerate just how near a miss it was. For all my terror and grisly fantasising over the past few weeks, it was then that I finally got some idea of how close death was. The deadly reality of war had in that moment tapped me on the shoulder. Move, Move! I moved, upwards. One Sartha followed me, firing sporadic neutron blasts, the other doubled back to engage Alvarez. My pursuer’s hits became more frequent, and my rear shields were starting to buckle. I couldn’t keep this up much longer. I turned about and strafed to the right, lined up the target and fired. It was almost coming straight at me, and by extension straight into my gunfire. The front quadrant of the image in my targeting computer turned a nice shade of yellow, and then red. The Sartha veered away, I followed, firing all the while. As close as he had gotten to me, it was a fairly easy thing even for a rookie like myself to land hits. It wasn’t long before the Sartha’s engines took damage. Its afterburners cut out with a rather alarming abruptness. I say alarming because I damn near crashed into the bloody thing. Dumb luck seemed to be favouring me today however, and I managed to veer away just in time. I turned quickly about, ready to finish the job, only to see a string of red gunfire from Alvarez do it for me. “You’ve gotta kill quicker than that child.” She tittered over the com. I checked the radar and found that she had destroyed the other remaining Sartha as well. “We don’t play fair on the Magellan, remember that.” “Understood Captain.” I responded after a relieved exhalation. Eventually I suspect I’d feel annoyed about having my hard earned kill stolen, but at the time I just felt glad that it was over. Well, not exactly over, we still had the transports to see to. “Right then.” Alvarez said. “What we need to do is scan these ships and see if they’re carrying anything the Border Worlds might be able to use. Fuel, spare parts, that sort of thing.” She paused and checked something on her onboard computer, then nodded to herself. “Judging from their trajectory, it looks like they’re heading for the refinery. I think these might be troop ships. Slave raider bastards maybe. Let’s make sure.” “Yes ma’am.” The transports were flying in a straight line, one after the other. “You check the one at the back. Keep careful boy, those flak turrets can kill you quite dead if you get careless.” “Understood.” I seemed to be saying ‘understood’ a lot. I guess that’s to be expected. I sped towards the transport and was met with woefully wide flak fire from two separate turrets. Keeping directly behind its engines seemed to keep me out of their gun sights. My thanks to whatever flee-riddled Kat genius thought up that brilliant design feature. When I was in range I matched my speed and scanned the cargo holds. “Scan results are as follows;” the computer’s grating voice announced “30 human life forms, 100 Kilrathi life forms, 400kg of organic matter, presumed foodstuffs.” “Scan reports 30 humans on the rear ship ma’am.” I reported. “I’m assuming they’re slaves.” “Take out its engines. Lasers only, don’t do too much damage or you’ll collapse its hull.” “Under… yes… aye ma’am.” I fired, somewhat tentatively, taking sporadic pot-shots at each of the three engines. It took a while, but finally the last engine died with a small, explosive flourish and the lumbering transport began to drift. Meanwhile, Captain Alvarez had already identified the contents of both ’sports and disabled the engines of the second one. The turrets were still firing at us, but the quality of these ships’ gunners was so bad that it made me look good. I guess intel wasn’t wrong about the Kilrathi’s choice of personnel for transport craft. Odds are they’d stop firing as soon as the Magellan arrived and made clear the ‘surrender or die’ issue. I was starting to feel rather pleased with myself, I’ll freely admit. I’ve heard some people say that they feel utterly horrified after their first kills. It suddenly occurs to them that they’ve taken the life of another being and, enemy or not, it gnaws at them. No shortage of promising young pilots have had their careers ended before they properly begun for this very reason. As for myself, if I’m honest, I felt fucking fantastic. For two weeks I’d been a bumbling, awkward, terrified cadet and now I was earning my keep, playing my part in this great war against an enemy I had every reason to despise. I’d bested Imperial pilots, and I’d gladly do it again for as long as I could. “That second transport is carrying humans as well.” The Captain told me. “But that first one is a troop ship, five hundred armed marines onboard, going to capture our refinery. We have to destroy it.” “Sounds good to me Captain.” I said, making no attempt to hide my sudden cheer. “Now there’s something I want you to try. Make a strafing run and unload a few shots into the cargo pods. Try to make some holes in the hull. The Kats inside will be breathing vacuum, they’ll die nice and slowly.” My eyebrows rose, I wasn’t expecting this. The prospect of shooting the transport down was all well and good, but this kind of methodical slaughter left me feeling cold. It didn’t feel right to me. “Uh…” I managed, holding station behind the third Dorkathi. “You’re hesitating child.” Alvarez said coldly. “If you want to fly in my wing you’d better get used to doing as I tell you. I really hope you’re not some kind of soft-hearted Kat lover.” “No ma’am, I’m not.” I said quickly, moving passed the nearest Dorkathi and towards the one at the front. It still felt wrong, but not wrong enough to risk incurring the wrath of the team. I had to be a part of that team, I had to prove myself. Besides, these were Kilrathi marines. Hell, these were Kilrathi, period; inhuman savage flesh-wastes. Why should I hesitate? The flak turrets were easy enough to avoid. I targeted the closest cargo pod and fired successively at what was roughly the same spot on the outer hull. Alvarez said nothing, I couldn’t guess whether I’d convinced her of my loyalty or not. It took three successive runs before finally a section of the hull exploded, and the compartment was exposed to space. I noticed a stream of white gas shooting forth from the hole, dissipating peaceably in the vacuum. Several Kilrathi bodies escaped; they were somewhat armoured, but most marine armour, Kat or human, is designed for combat in atmospheric conditions. It isn’t airtight, so if you fall into space, you’ve had it. What a horrific spectacle it must have been inside the cargo pod, the air being ripped out, the screams starting and then dying as lungs exploded and blood boiled. I shuddered, I couldn’t stop myself. It isn’t murder. I told myself. These are Kilrathi. “Ok,” Alvarez finally said, I think she was smiling. “I guess I can call you one of us. Get clear child, and keep an eye on the radar, just in case any more Kats show up to spoil our fun. I’ll take care of the rest.” “Understood Captain.” I said, my voice numb for some reason, and I sped out of range of the flak fire. “Honourless terran filth!” An outraged Kilrathi hissed at me over the com. “You dare make sport of us?!” I smirked and sighed and blocked the channel. I was in no mood to argue the point. The Captain finished up with the remaining cargo pods and then, rather anticlimactically, we blasted what was left of the transport to dust. Technically we were destroying the evidence, just in case any soft-hearted Kat lovers came by and took offence. It was a good day, from a strategic point of view. We had saved a refinery crucial to the Border Worlds Union, helped to liberate sixty human slaves, taken out several hundred Kilrathi marines, were indirectly responsible for identifying a weak spot in Racene’s in-system surveillance network which the Kats had been able to sneak through and, finally, interrogation of crew members from the surviving Dorkathi revealed these ships’ point of origin; the Fralthi class light carrier Jak’thrakal, which was destroyed shortly thereafter by fighters from the Tybalt. Me and the Captain were awarded silver stars for our efforts, and just two months later, after performing no feats any more noteworthy, I wound up getting promoted. The other pilots did accept me; from being the jittery new guy I had abruptly become the fellow pilot ‘Falchion’, a callsign given to me by 1st Lieutenant Hailey Al Hasser, a woman of ceaseless energy and indomitable optimism. We got together after a year, and were married two weeks after the war ended. We now have two children, Ted and Emma. It took me a while to get over what I’d done, murdering those murderers in that helpless Dorkathi. I never let it show, but it hung over me like a black cloud with several hundred judgemental eyes peering out at me. I chalk it up to youthful sentimentality. Nowadays I don’t feel any regret over it. None at all. 2. July 14th 2669 St. Cuthbert’s Church, Baldwin Avenue. Southwood City – Gateway II – Vega Sector Miss Francesca Ericsson “D-D-Dearly beloved, we are… we are gathered here today to…” The elderly minister stopped, made a sobbing-sighing noise and wiped his eyes whilst we waited patiently in the pews. I must say, when he did start speaking again he was surprisingly more composed. “I’m sorry. Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to join together these two people whose names, I’m very sorry to admit, I have completely forgotten.” The groom managed to snigger, the bride was in tears. “Stuart Wells.” The groom uttered. “To join Stuart Wells and…” “Aeheemy Gaaaaaahhhwiiii.” The bride almost doubled over under the weight of her misery. Her fiancé placed a reassuring arm around her waist and she responded by flinging her arms around his chest and shoving her face into his shoulder. She dropped her bouquet on the floor, which I suppose was rather fitting. “Amy Godwin.” Mr. Wells helpfully filled in. “And Amy Godwin in holy matrimony.” A silence followed. “That’s all I know.” The minister muttered. I should probably point out that this man wasn’t an actual minister. The local priest, Father Brooks, had flung himself off of the roof of the Gateway chronicle building two hours ago. This man we’d ambushed and talked into filling in the role of licensed holy man for no greater reason that he had an authoritative brow and a very large beard. He sob-sighed again and wiped his nose on his borrowed robes. “Do you, Stuart Wells, take Amy Godwin to be your wife, in sickness and in health, for richer and poorer, till… till death do you part?” At this point one of the witnesses all but pissed himself laughing. It wasn’t that funny. This was actually the same man who had asked me to marry him minutes before this ceremony started. I turned him down because his nostril hairs needed trimming. But anyway… “I do.” Stuart said. He was the most composed of any of us. “Do you, Amy Godwin, take Stuart Wells to be your husband, in sickness and in health, for richer and poorer till… hmm.” “I do.” She managed between sniffs. “If anyone here knows of any reason why these two should… no, on second thought screw that bit. By the power vested in me I pronounce you man and wife; now everybody except the bride and groom are to vacate this building at once. Quickly now, out with you.” We let out a ragged applause as we quickly made our way out of the church and into the street. It was a glorious summer’s day, even with the Kilrathi carrier hanging high in the sky, casting a huge shadow over the city. It had been there for hours, just sitting there. There were dozens more Kilrathi ships in orbit, their crews revelling in our terror. When it no longer amused, they would start the bombardment and annihilate us. They had announced as much this morning. 3. >>The following is a sample from the upcoming anthology ‘Shared Wounds’; a collection of one hundred poems from both terran and Kilrathi writers, depicting the full horror and lamentable suffering that the war has caused to both sides. A must-see for veterans, servicemen and women and civilians alike. >>Pre-order your copy today from Valkyrie online booksellers; discount price of (C) 39 for online purchasers. >>(The following extract was translated by the Baron Jukaga Nar Vaku and published by Terran-Kilrathi Friendship Committee on 2668.295). Heavy is the Warrior’s Heart By Garhal Nar Ragitagha My love, we had so little time To sire our cubs, to simply live Before the war-call bid me climb Up to the stars, there my soul to give For Sivar; such is the warriors’ votive, And though there is no finer death, I’ll still lament the bitter wait. My soul shall call with tortured breath Across the void for you my mate Till you and I and our h’rai Stand reunited at the After-world’s gate 4. To: firstname.lastname@example.org From: email@example.com Date Sent: 2669.242 I’m afraid I have a rather disturbing incident to report sir. Last night Lieutenant Mitchell Lopez brought to my attention an elaborate piece of poetry (and I use the term very loosely sir) painted onto the wall of the primary elevator. What said poem amounts to is an attack on the characters of Colonel Christopher Blair and Lieutenant Robin Peters, and also displays a disgusting callousness towards the people currently dying on Lucanda IV. I have enclosed a transcription of the offending writing below, which has since been removed from the elevator. We are doing all we can to find the crewmember responsible, and once we have done so sir may I suggest nothing less than five months of latrine duty as punishment. The loss of Lucanda IV is damaging enough for morale without cowardly pissants exacerbating the problem. - Sergeant Tom Harrison (With apologies) I saw three bombs descend upon Luconda IV, Luconda IV I saw three bombs descend upon Luconda IV In the morning. And what was in those bombs that struck Luconda IV, Luconda IV And what was in those bombs that struck Luconda IV In the morning A nasty, loathsome plague did take Luconda IV, Luconda IV A nasty, loathsome plague did take Luconda IV In the morning. And why did Blair not manage to save Luconda IV, Luconda IV And why did Blair not manage to save Luconda IV In the morning. He misread the nav map and sped towards Luconda III, Luconda III He misread the nav map and sped towards Luconda III In the morning. But yet he brought back Flint home safe Post Luconda IV, post Luconda IV But yet he brought back Flint home safe Post Luconda IV In the morning. So he might still get in her pants some day At half past 4, at half past 4 So he might still get in her pants some day At half past 4 In the morning Meanwhile, the colonists suffer and die on Luconda IV, Luconda IV Meanwhile, the colonists suffer and die on Luconda IV In the morning.