Hell's Unicorns - The Vega Campaign: Brimstone System

DJ Erik

And with an absence since last year, I've finally returned with a new installment of Hell's Unicorns. Here's to renewed stories!

Chapter 19
Vega Sector: Alcor System
A while had passed since the last major engagement, a week or so...Rick had forgot. Nothing had been going on in the Alcor system for a short while. In the meantime there had been an awards ceremony. Rick himself had won an "Ace of Aces" pin, and the applause that came with it. Gray, Ballentine, Cook, and Rokain had all received their 15 mission pins. Griggs, Rorveri, and Glosco had received their 5 mission pins...Griggs and Ballentine and Cook receiving their Ace pins. Covan had come up empty...

...And for Regent, she had also received her Ace of Aces pin. Even though no one had really cheered for her other then Rick, she took the silence rather well, almost grinning at the mouth...most unusual for her. It must of meant a lot to her...as far as he could tell. She had begun avoiding him lately so he couldn't be sure.

Hurt just by thinking of her, he looked over...and found Maegen's Scimitar next to his. Once again they had been called up for Alert 5 duty, the fifth time in a row for each day...always prepped up for a enemy attack...they never came though. The extremely light Kilrathi movements had either been destroyed by patrols off the Exeters Amera and Broadsword, or they had not attacked at all. Either way...being strapped into fighters ready to shoot out into space at any moment was straining on any pilot. Rick took it well but his friend...

"Swordblade, how are you feeling?"

"I'm fine..." she answered in a sarcastic voice.

"Alright, just checking..."

"Oui, Rick."

She looked back to his fighter...wondering what it was about him. Something was pissing her off about him but she couldn't figure out why...it was hurting him and her at the same time but she couldn't help it. Maybe it was him leaving her alone out there, letting her fighter get nearly destroyed by the enemy Ralari...then she knew that he had only been protecting her from the Salthi fighters...but then couldn't he of come back to her?

"Rick, do you think we're going to get sent out?"

"Not toda..." A sudden transmission had come over the video comm, interrupting him. It was Commander Mollo.

"Delta, Swordblade, enemy threat has passed. Engineers will take your fighters off the flight tube soon, sorry for leaving you out there for so long." Rick nodded, relieved that they had no reason to worry.

"It's ok sir, thanks for telling us." Mollo responded with a nod and signed off, Rick looking over and watching while several mechanics with zero-g suits on taking them off the tube.

Within several minutes the two had been able to get out of their fighters, Joker and Pilgrim watching on as their fighters were prepped up for Alert 5 status. As Rick and Maegen walked out he looked over to her.

"So..." he stopped shortly, Maegen walking away from him.

"Bye Rick." He stood stunned.

"Bye Maegen." As she walked off Rick once again felt bad, both of the most important people to him were avoiding him. Well, not everyone...he thought back of his girl back home and it eased the pain for a bit...but not much since she was so far away.

He shook off the emotional stir as best he could while making his way to the rec room. Along the way he was stopped by an ensign.

"First lieutenant Eyven?"

"Yes, that's me. What is it?"

"I have been ordered to find you, sir. Mollo's in need of you right away." He paused for a second, wondering what that meant.

"Alright, thank you." As he saluted off the ensign he broke off his trail to the bar and made his way down to the commander's office. As soon as he had arrived the superior had waved him in.

"Eyven, good to see you. How have your command been under the Alert Fives?" Rick wanted to voice his opinion but swallowed in what he really wanted to say with some bona fide lies.

"Never better, sir. Covan has some issues with being out there for so long...but that isn't much of an issue. The others have handled it quite well."

"Good, good...well, that's settled. I have some news for you...we ship out for Brimstone within the next forty-eight hours. Within twenty-four we will be receiving a new shipment of fighters and supplies...along with those fighters several fresh pilots. I expect that we will be able to split the Scimitar squadron into two once we have the new pilots in."

"I see. What are the qualifications of these pilots?"

"At best, varied. There are a couple of old hands, and by old hands I mean much more experienced then you in this field. And then there's some that are on the level of Joker and Stormy, a couple new rookies. Hopefully we won't lose any from the fresh batch like we did Biehn."

Rick thought about what had happened earlier and shook his head.

"Yes...I don't think there was much to be done about that."

"There wasn't. He was fresh...he must of gotten spooked when he saw that missile coming at him with the lock warning beeping at him...there wasn't anything you could have done Rick. Sometimes I wonder how well they train these cherries."

"I guess so. I wonder about Rokain at times too sir, he seems to be shaky..."

"Honeybee has always been like that, at least from what I was told when he was assigned to us. Gets worked up whenever he gets shot at. Not a very good trait but it keeps him alive longer I assume. Some of our pilots are excellent fighters, but...they take more chances then they should. I worry at times, wouldn't want to lose any pilots that we don't have too, especially of that caliber." Rick knew immediately who Mollo had in mind. He worried about himself, more then the commander would ever know.

"I know what you mean."

"That last assault was pretty dodgy itself. I'm surprised that you managed to bring back all of your fighters and pilots alive, Rick. So many of them got lost out there..."

"Everybody got shook up out there. It was confusing..."

"Don't be afraid to ask your pilots for their status, Rick. I noticed that from your flight recorder, that you didn't ask where everyone was at often. It makes a difference when there's alot of fighters out there. Knowing where you are and where everyone else is will definitely work out in your favor when someone's chasing you." The idea sunk in and Rick couldn't help but feel stupid for completely ignoring that simple guideline. He'd done it before...thinking about it Regent had done so too. Kind of amazing they hadn't left anybody to get killed out there.

"At least we didn't have any casualties. We had a scare there when God got shot down, luckily he punched out. A bad crop of Raptor pilots lately off the Amera. Twelve of them and five got shot down, God and another one got out alive. The other three...White Angels were a damn good squadron, I can remember when we've worked with the Amera in the past.." Mollo cut himself off.

"Then Lil' Gremlin squadron lost two Scimms. The Amera took things pretty hard last battle." Rick nodded and remembered a question he had been trying to ask earlier.

"What was that extremely large carrier? Considering we lost many of those fighters trying to take out the capships and we didn't even faze that one."

"To tell you the truth Eyven, I don't have any idea. We all saw it out there though, even if we couldn't stop it. Much larger then what we normally see for enemy carriers... Nobody's sure at the moment, no one I have talked to from either the Broadsword or the Amera have seen anything like it. I can assure you though that eventually we'll know, thanks to Intel...keep carefully if we ever see it again though, something that size is always a threat." Rick had to make no disagreement.

"Yes sir."

"Well, I suppose that's all then...tomorrow it'd be nice if you'd greet the pilots again like the last time."

"No need to ask me, sir. I was already thinking of it."

"Good then, that's all. Thanks lieutenant." The two snapped off the standard salute and Rick walked off.

In the bar he found his usual companions, Ballentine and Rokain. Evan was always present it seemed, but he was still out in the flight tube on Alert 5, as much as Rick was aware of. He took a seat next to his fellow Scimitar pilot.

"Hey Rick, need a drink?" He had joined the gathering just in time for Jack to slam down a beer in a couple seconds and offer him one. He shook his head and watched on as Ballentine continued his binge. As he grabbed a third and slammed it as fast as the first Rokain just watched the view port, smoking a cigarette. Rick had wondered where he had kept getting all these cigs since they hadn't been resupplied with such in a couple weeks now. Figured that Rokain had a secret stash somewhere for all the times he considered an emergency. Leaving the system didn't seem like much of an emergency though.

"Honeybee, can I get a drag?"

"Sure Rick. You run out?"

"Yeah." Rick took a puff and gave it back.

"Didn't know you smoked...at least I've never seen you."

"It's not a habit. Stress."

"Oh...got you. I smoke more then enough of them for that reason alone."

"Which is why I'm guessing you have one now?"

"It seems too quiet out here Rick. And even when we leave here we're heading to some system full of cats eventually."


"Yeah! It's some little resort spot for them. I can't really imagine that, a resort for Kilrathi..."

"It's not really a resort…more of a hunting club then a resort."

"I hear that they use whatever humans they capture there and they hunt them down planetside. Wouldn't want to eject out there..."

"Wouldn't want to eject anywhere Rokain."

"That's always true. But at least if you eject somewhere out here there's always going to be some nice Confed chap to pick you up. Out there some Dralthi might get up to you first."

"A Dralthi picking up ejected pilots? They'd rather shoot them."

"Whatever. Bad deal either way." Eric tensed up, sucking in whatever nicotine was left in his short stub. Rick decided to back off before he scared the guy anymore.

As Ballentine was starting to feel the effects of one too many drinks Rick had realized that his companions were limited to a drunkard and a nervous wreck, not much for good company.

Stormy came walking in, alone. He noticed her sitting down at a table by herself, putting her head down. Several minutes passed like that, him staring at her with her head down...after a while he finally got up and took a seat next to her.

"Delta?" She looked up, confused.

"That's me..."

"Something wrong? Or need to tell me?" Her lip was in a quiver; he could tell something wasn't alright.

"No, nothing like that...just checking up on you." The quiver turned to a slight frown.

"Oh." She looked back at the view port and at him again, shifting in her seat.

"So...I guess I'm alright sir. I wouldn't know what to tell you."

"Noted, you don't have to tell me anything."

"Right...I don't know. Want a drink?" Rick shook his head, watching her grab a bottle of vodka from the cooler before she opened it and took a straight swig. He grimaced after wondering how anybody could stand the stuff, then looked over at Ballentine would who most likely be the one drinking the whole bottle eventually. He shook his head and looked back at her, wondering why an apparently nice girl like herself would be drinking such hard liquor.

"Not a drinking type...oh well. So we are moving out tomorrow?"

"Two days from now, we're getting some new pilots as well, also a replacement pilot for Blu..." He stopped in midsentence, the mention of the dead pilot brought a tear from her eye.

"Something wrong?"

"Zack...he was a good friend of mine. Hasn't been the same since he died..."

"I see..." She nodded half-heartedly.

"Yes. We joined together, we were childhood friends...I was hoping that I would have gotten to serve with him...but...didn't turn out that way."


"I wouldn't know what happened out there though, hope wasn't too painful..." She was starting to slur a bit, alcohol taking effect on her. The tears were starting to pour down her cheeks, dirty blonde hair getting in the way of her eyes but she couldn't tell. He brushed it and the tears away.

"I'm sure that he didn't feel anything." But he knew it himself that it was bullshit. He remembered that guy's last moments on video just like it was happening. Missile hit, Rick screaming for his status, a second later and an image of a pile of flesh in the cockpit before the Scimm blew up.

"I guess so...ahh." It was obvious that the liquor was getting to her; she was putting her head down again...Rick thinking of what to do. He didn't even know her all that well.

"Do you want to go back to your room?" She nodded again, not even really paying attention to what he asked. He helped her up, finding her to be as tall as him and unable to find her way back since she couldn't walk a straight step, much less a line. He held her up by the shoulder and walked her out, listening to her sniffle as she stumbled about.

"Delta. I want to be your wingman, I want to be a buddy...please...could you be mine?" He looked over to her, she was very much babbling but he could tell that whatever she was going on about she meant what she was saying.

"I will, Stormy..." He wanted to address her by her real name but he couldn't even recall at the moment.

"Call me Jenn! I don't want to be cold I want to be friendly..." Whatever was biting at her it was starting to get Rick as well. Personal demons. He couldn't help but feel relieved that they were finally reaching her room. Becoming closer would have to wait until she was sober since he couldn't make a connection with her...

"We're here..." He helped her in and onto her bed, she gave him a stare...he couldn't help but feel chilled by it since it looked like she was looking right through him.

"Thank you. I think I'll see you tomorrow. Will you have time for me?"

"I will, don't worry...if anything I want you to feel happy." She smiled at him, and he returned it.

"...I love you Delta." He froze at the thought, then nodded to her.

"Me too...goodnight Jenn." He gave her a hug and she let him, she held him back so long he figured it was the alcohol talking to him the entire time.

"Goodnight..." She watched him walk out the door, turning off the light behind him.

As he went out on his way he couldn't help but feel disturbed by what just happened. Whatever attempt at maintaining the morale of pilots up he was making, they didn't seem to do much good. Maybe he was too callous to everyone else. He cursed himself.

Meanwhile Stormy was wrapped up in her blanket shedding away more tears. Whatever she was crying about though, she couldn't remember.

DJ Erik

Chapter 20
The next day was as lax as the day before, at least considering the enemy threat. Nobody to challenge the emptiness...save for several Draymans docking with the Regal. Rick had watched for them from the rec room and was soon out in the hanger bay...finding Griggs standing at the view port already, watching a Drayman land and dock.

"Hello sir. Are you here to greet the new pilots?"

"I am. Yourself?"

"Yes." He noticed that Griggs was still very much by the book; the guy didn't seem to be at ease when he was around. Not one to go and small talk with a superior.

"...It's alright Joker. Calm down." Griggs still stood like he was at attention, waiting for orders. Rick groaned.

"At ease, then." Joker finally got it and relaxed.


"Good then. So what brings you out here Neal?"

"Just to see everybody, all the new guys..." Rick noticed some little glint in his eye, like the guy was in a trance.

"Doesn't seem like you're waiting for guys, per say." Griggs looked back and quickly turned the other way.

"Whatever comes my way." Not much to say to that so Rick just stayed quiet. However the odd thought of a rather old lady coming out the dock and getting into Joker's way entertained him for a little bit.

After a short wait several new pilots began exiting the Drayman, with helmets in hand. Mollo had mentioned that this shipment of pilots would fill out the flight roster, something that hadn't been done in months. They walked up and into the ship, their first sight of the interior ship being completed with two random guys staring at them.

"New pilots? Welcome to the TCS Regal. I expect that you haven't seen very much action..." Rick immediately lost his thought as he saw a older man standing in the crowd, his helmet having a blood red sun painted across the top...grizzled face, stubble and gray eyes.

...So, you must be one of those "experienced" pilots Mollo was talking about?

"Yes, I've seen quite a bit of fighting myself there...Eyven is it?" It was as if the pilot had heard what he had been thinking. Then again he realized it probably wasn't hard to figure out since he had been staring at him in awe.

"Yes sir, Rick Eyven, callsign Delta. May I ask you yours?"

"Jerrad Mecerrier. Callsign Sol. Looks like you're the most experienced one out of the group, eh?" He looked over Rick and Neal, laughing at Griggs as he shuffled uncomfortably. Rick just nodded.

"It's a young group on here. If you want some really experienced pilots, go and find Death and Artimis...Hornet pilots extraordinaire. Best we have." Jerrad nodded.

"Hornets, eh. I'd stand by my Mud Pig any day. Anyways good to see you here, kid. Have a good head?" Rick knew what he meant but really didn't have what he was asking.

"Cool enough one out there." Sol nodded, shook his hand.

"It'll get cold once you're used to it. Once you've been flying as long as me the only thing that'll kill you is yourself." Rick returned the shake, and smiled as Jerrad walked off. Whatever he was smiling at though, he immediately stopped upon thinking about it.

He then looked over long enough to see Neal staring at a new girl. Not the one he had seen next to Sol though, she was as old as him. Neal was staring at someone very pretty...Rick looked over as well. Her nametag read "Havekost", her hair was short but not as short as Allison's...it was down to her chin at least. Her sky blue eyes caught his...

Don't I know you from somewhere?

"Aren't you Rick? From Port Hedland?" He nodded in reply. With that said she came right up and embraced him tightly. She was nearly a foot shorter so she had to stand on her tiptoes in order to hug something more then his chest.

"Rick! It's me, Molly!"


His memory was shot. Couldn't have been too long ago...

"Grade school, Rick! High school...we were friends..."

Finally his memories of her came back. She was his old friend back during school, nowhere as close to him as Maegen was but she was about as close to him as anyone else could get. If he could remember right, they had a fling once...but who knew anymore.

"It's been pretty long...good to see you again." She nodded.

"You too. I'll be expecting you to show me around then."

"I will." She smiled and walked off after Sol. Rick wanted to say something more but he held it since she was already gone.

Two more Scimitar pilots followed them, the handles on their helmets reading Firestorm and Switchblade. Joker made note of them as they passed. he looked over to Rick.

"Switchblade seems pretty edgy for a name?"

"I guess so."

Another two pilots came by; too busy talking to each other for them to notice the two people greeting them. Rick scoffed at them, figuring they were the Hornet pilots. Only one other person was left.

"So you talked to my associate there, Sol. My name is Alisa. Handle Raine." Rick and Raine show hands, Raine looking at him. He returned the stare. She seemed to be around in her thirties or so....but age was gracefully handled, apparently. She focused green eyes on him.

"I suspect you boys have seen some fighting then?" Joker nodded, feeling out of place...backing out of the way as if to make Rick his representative.

"Yes, we've had some fighting experience. Not so much in the past week or so, though. Last major operation we partook in was an assault on an enemy carrier group. It was only supposed to be a couple of Ralaris but turned out to be much more. Didn't take out very many of them." Raine nodded at him.

"Luckily you made it out though."

"That we did."

"Don't worry about how many of the kats you can take out. Just worry about making sure you get out alive."

"Yes. I'm happy I've made it out of so many engagements already." She giggled at him, putting a hand on his shoulder.

"You haven't seen much yet. When you're as old as me and Jerrad, now you've seen something. Just try to make it till then." Rick nodded. Joker nodded as well, trying to gain her favor.

"So you're a quiet one over there!"

"...me?" Griggs looked uncomfortable again.

"Yes, you. Have anything to say?"

"Not really..."

"...oh well. I guess I'll talk to you when you do." Joker nodded, embarrassed. Rick could see some red.

"And you Rick, would you show me to the bar?" He made a quick notion and showed her the way. Once there he saw Valentine, victim of a hangover...apparently he had spent the night in a drunken stupor at the table. And over in the corner...

A weak smile went across her face before she got up and ran off.

DJ Erik

Chapter 21
"Everyone brace for jump...jump in five, four, three, two..." The Exeter made the jump, whatever distance that would seem impossible to cross normally was covered in a mere minute.

"Attention all hands, we have now arrived in..."

Vega Sector: Brimstone System

Within an hour of arriving Delta was already out in the middle of the system. The darkness was brightly contrasted by a rather large planet, bathing the cockpit in a red glow. The targeting computer gave a simple report of "Next Nav point 2,0000 meters" and the damage display showed a healthy green ship.

"Stormy, form up on my right wing, fingertip formation."

"Yes sir!" She followed closely behind, Rick leading to the first Nav.

"We're going to make a short loop around...be ready to engage the enemy." Jenn's green image over the vid comm nodded in reply to his message, he then looked out to the point. Seemed empty enough...but Mollo had warned him earlier that the system was contested. The Tigers Claw had gone through the area while the Regal was in Alcor, but still the planet side battles were raging. The Kilrathi supply lines had to be cut at all costs...and the only way to do that was to find them.

The two Scimms reached the Nav, Rick making a circle around it at about five thousand meters out, Stormy following close behind. Didn't seem to be anything out at all except for themselves on the first pass.

"One more pass...then we go to meet Joker and Valentine at Nav 2." He felt confident that it wouldn't take much effort, nothing coming up at all on his radar...

"Delta! I think I found a contact, Kilrathi!" He took a quick look back, couldn't see anything where her Scimm was pointing at.

"Where at? I don't see him..."

"Behind me! Thirty thousand meters out..."

"Just the one?" It started to appear on his radar.

"Looks like there's four of them. Should we engage?" Rick considered it. At the rate things were going, it seemed like it could just be a small fighter patrol. The Dorkirs were much heavily defended to make sure they could actually reach any of the planets...there weren't any in close proximity though.

"Yes, be careful though! Follow me." He flipped about and had her follow him; the two heading right towards the enemies...it was going to be a game of chicken.

The two quickly afterburned to the targets...within fifteen thousand meters the targetor came up with the contacts being Salthis. Rick let out a small sigh, happy that they weren't any heavy fighters but still the two of them had to be cautious.

They soon came into sight. One of them immediately breaking off to the left, obviously trying to get behind...Rick went after him, watching Stormy's Scimitar flying right at the other three.

"Stormy, you haven't gotten a kill yet, have you?"

"I haven't Delta."

"Ok...pick the one closest to you and when he's in range open up with Mass Drivers. Do not use your missiles yet, we might need them."

He watched behind himself as she went for one head on, the two fighters starting to fire at each other...green bursts went past red as they flew past each other...the Salthi looking like it had taken several hits right on, a cannon falling off, wing brace looking shoddy. Meanwhile Stormy had come out all right...anything more then a Hornet and it seemed like the Salthis were on suicide missions.

As for his own target it was boosting away...something that the little ships had on the Mud Pig. He afterburned after the Salthi, still running from him...there wasn't much more to do...save for...he opened up a link.

"Kitten! Come back here, don't run!" The little ship made a return run, just as expected.

"I wouldn't run away from scum! You shall join your kin!"

The two fighters went right towards each other, the targetor showing the range to be a little less then two thousand meters...Rick opened fire, draining out whatever energy had been stored up before pulling up and out of the way. While the Scimm went up he could feel several shots hit, he looked down at the damage readout but could see nothing vital had been hit. The targetor showed the opposite for the Salthi. Rick looked behind him long enough to watch it disappear into a fireball.

"Splash one. Going for two..." Rick looked around, seeing to his left another one of the kitties, this one trying to get behind Stormy while she chased his teammate. He made his way over...

The furball didn't notice him; he was too absorbed in firing potshots at the girl. While he was recharging his laser cannons Rick depressed the trigger yet again, firing off some rapid bursts. The little green beams flew right up into the shield, splashing it and then their successors flying up into the engine, causing it to flare out on itself and causing the rest of the ship to follow suit.

"Stormy be careful, you had one on you. That was splash two, going for three." She got on the comm.

"Thank you Delta, I have this one...I think." He looked over to watch the other Scimm; she flew at her target at cruising speed...while the bleeding Salthi was afterburning at top speed. Something wasn't right.

"Speed up Stormy! Don't be afraid to use your afterburner. Save cruising for when we're heading out."

"Affirmative." She finally made a boost of speed and started to catch up to the enemy...Rick figuring that she had him handled. Artimis or Death she was not but at least someone that could follow orders. She'd need some help to get confident at fighting but nothing like experience to do that.

As for his own matters, the target was flying away a quick pace; since he had been distracted the Salthi had made a move to get out. He afterburned toward it and got ready to depress the trigger yet again. He closed the gap...

Just long enough for the Salthi to loop around him. He looked around and watched a couple shots splash the back shield.

"Shit!" While wondering how this had happened Rick spun around to face him. As he shot off a couple of shots the Salthi managed to avoid them...and flew underneath and back behind his Scimitar again. Once again the rear shields flashed red.

"You shall die for killing my clansmen!" The taunt went unanswered as Rick yet again spun around to face the Salthi, which had gone around as soon as Rick had made an about face. And with another hit the shields were out.

The kitten made another pass around to the front expecting that the Scimitar would fall for the same maneuver a fourth time. When it got to the front of the Pig though, a Javelin was there to meet it. The Scimm flew off as the kat let out an angry shout.

"Splash three. Did you get that other one Stormy?"

"I did. First kill."

"Good job...Jennifer. Form on my wing again, we're heading out to Nav two." She complied and Rick looked to his right to see the damage her ship had sustained. A little cloud was trailing behind her; an engine hit it looked like.

"What's your status? Doesn't look very good."

"My damage readout says that the Ion Drive is moderately damaged. Rear armor is gone." Rick swore under his breath, with his comm off.

Only a Salthi and he did all that damage to you? That should have been easy.

"I see. Stormy, you should head home, I'll take it by myself from here. I'll link up with Valentine and Joker as was planned."

"Shouldn't I follow you though?"

"I need you alive more then dead. If you get attacked that bad you again aren't going to last very long with your armor gone. I can handle this solo."

"Alright sir...be careful." She flew off, disappointed that she was getting sent back. Her disappointment didn't match for her fear of something happening to her new friend, though.

"Don't worry, this won't be too difficult..." As she flew off he considered his own statement. He'd already worn himself down a bit by taking the blunt of the enemy force by himself. Who knew what else was still out there...

He made up the time that was lost by afterburning to the next Nav, finding Joker and Valentine already there; drifting to save whatever fuel they had left.

"Delta, what happened to your teammate? We figured you got iced out there." Ballentine's tone didn't do much to ease Rick.

"Stormy is heading home, she took a bit of damage back there. We ran into four of them, Salthis. Dispatched them and here I am now." Valentine listened to it all and grunted in reply.

"We haven't found anything yet. Two Nav points and this place is empty."

"Well it isn't. Keep your eyes open, you're always looking to pick a fight anyways."

"Heh." Valentine nodded slowly, then looked back to Rick over the vid comm.

"So what are your orders?"

"Alright...both of you form up on my wing, triangle formation. Follow me out."

The three Mud Pigs went out into the void, the obnoxious red glow from the planet above them still reflecting in Rick's cockpit.

"Brimstone II is sure pretty."

"It is Griggs. Home to the Kilrathi though."

"It's their base here?"

"From what I know. They have about four of them planet side."

"What about all the other planets?

"Bases scattered everywhere, Confed and Kilrathi. It's more of a land war though...all we're doing up here is making sure our transports make it there and that the theirs don't."

"I see."

Joker was soaking all of this information like a sponge. As a rookie he hadn't known much about war other then quotes to the effect of "Confederation good, Kilrathi bad."

It was always a good train of thought though. When you're suddenly up against several fighters trying to kill you, there's not much time to wonder how some marines are doing down on a planet against the same guys you are. Just matters what you're doing.

During the conversation the three had rapidly approached the third Nav. Even before they had reached it the leader could see company.

"Joker, Valentine, get ready to break and attack. Enemy contacts..."

(Edit: I'm quite idiotic for I put down distances as kilometers instead of meters. Seems like it'd take quite a long while for two fighters to meet each other then they're twenty thousand kilometers apart. Consider this your teaser until I finish this chapter tommorow.)

DJ Erik

Griggs and Ballentine made no argument with the order and were already out of formation and speeding up to the Nav point. Rick followed closely behind, seeing that there were at least four more contacts on radar. He got one on his targetor...

Another Salthi?

"Delta, it's a flight of Salthis! Doesn't appear to be any more of them. Four of them."

"Affirmative Joker...Don't be afraid to use missiles. They're just trying to get us away from their supply line. Kill these ones and hopefully the recon flights will find out where the transports are."

"Yes sir!"

Valentine made no reply. As far as Eyven could tell he was already behind a Salthi and chasing it so it was obvious he didn't need any more instructions. Joker was working his way around one, firing a couple of shots at it as he was spinning around to face it.

Meanwhile a Salthi had flown right past its engaged kin and had somehow ignored the fact that an unengaged Scimitar was right in front of it. The lock didn't take much time to acquire. By the time the Javelin was traveling at it, the kitten didn't have much time to react except fire a missile back.

Rick had already gotten out of the way, the dumbfire flying out into empty space before detonating on itself. In the meantime the Salthi had pulled up but the Javelin had tracked him, hitting it in the underbelly and going right into the center of it before exploding...

"Splash four."

"You have four already?"

"Got three back at where me and Stormy split up. She got one as well."

"Bloody good for you then..." Ballentine launched his own missile up at a Salthi, right behind it so there was no possible way for it to get out of the way even if it was a dumbfire. He flew right pass it as its engines simultaneously blew out, the explosion trailing up to the front of the fighter.

"I got one myself."

"That was a nice one at that. Care for another?"

"You're giving up that one?

"Yeah. Go ahead."

Rick flew out of the way as Valentine came forwards and behind another Salthi that Rick had found. In the meantime Joker had just put the finishing touches on his target, firing several shots into its side and making it collapse on itself. Things seemed to have gone pretty well.

As the leftover Salthi tried to get away from Jack, he lit up a Javelin and fired it straight at the engines. Whatever sense the kat had vanished into frenzy as he turned around to fire at his assailant. The shots splashed harmlessly against the Scimitar's front shields while the missile ripped right through the cockpit of the Salthi and cleaned it and the rest of the ship out. The only pieces remaining of the ship were several bits of the wing that managed to avoid being vaporized in the blast.

As soon as the wreck became space debris the red contact faded on radar. There was nothing left to fight.

"Good job...let's get out of here." With no response from the other two the trio started flying back for the home ship.

Rick looked back behind himself and watched as the debris fade into the distance. It had seemed unfair to pick on such small ships, but whatever made the fight easier to win. Didn't matter to him.

DJ Erik

Chapter 22
"So everyone came back in alright. Good." The four pilots looked at one another, and back at the commander.

"Didn't run into anything too difficult out there?"

"No sir. Light fighter resistance at two of the Nav points but nothing that couldn't be handled."

"Good to hear. I'm waiting for what our Hornet pilots have to say...didn't seem like any Scimitar pilots ran into Dorkir flight paths. We're still sketchy as to where exactly they fly through...it seems almost random where they pop up. However Artimis's flight had some skirmishes just like yourselves, so we can't be too far away." Rick nodded, the others stayed silent.

"So without any more to say...mission report. Delta came up with four kills, Valentine two, and both Joker and Stormy one. Everybody came back alive, and all Nav points were checked. Good overall. Any questions?" No hands were raised.

"That's all then. Dismissed."

As the ready room was cleared out Rick caught up to Cort.

"Hey Jenn...you should look into using the train-sim a bit more. Just for some extra practice. You can't get hurt by it and for gaining experience, it's the next best thing to actually getting in the cockpit. If you hone your combat skills a bit you won't have any trouble fighting Salthis...possibly anything if you work hard enough." She nodded slightly, looking at him with a concerned look.

"Did I get beat up faster then I should have?"

"Just a wee bit...it doesn't matter though. You'll be alright." The two smiled at each other and then she walked off, Rick standing off by himself.

After stowing away his flight suit he went into the rec room, ready to have a drink. There wasn't any real reason to other then just to have one. As he looked around the usual suspects were there: Ballentine trying to down a bottle of whisky and subsequently getting his ass kicked by it, Rokain staring out the view port and having a smoke, and Joker sitting at a table by himself. Also some of the new hands and several of the pilots that never frequented the rec room were present: Death and Pilgrim sharing stories, Lightning Rod and Icy listening to Death and Pilgrim's stories, Pawn trying to outlast Ballentine's binge. Also in a corner by herself...

She waved him over and he took a seat. She brushed the bright blonde hair out of her eyes and she smiled at him, hair coming back and covering her right eye, a very pretty look.

"It's so good to see you again after all this time, Rick. I thought I'd never see you again after you signed up for the service."

"I didn't think I'd see you again either. Funny how things work out, eh?" She shrugged.

"I don't know. They said that the Regal had a lack of pilots and they reassigned me here from Port Hedland defense. Heard from somewhere that a couple pilots got killed on here..." He returned her shrug with a shrug of his own.

"We've been...understaffed. I guess you could call it that. Only one pilot's been killed since I've been on here. He was a rookie...he ended up taking a few missiles." She listened intently, never moving except to breathe...Rick feeling very calm around her.

"I wasn't aware that anyone else died though. I know the ship went through a retrofit and some pilots got reassigned elsewhere."

"Hmm...from what I heard, this ship got into a rather rough battle and there were some pretty high casualty counts. Mostly pilots."

"I didn't know about that..." She shrugged yet again, but still a smile was on her lips.

"Oh well. A bit grim of me?"

"Just a little bit. Doesn't matter. So anyways...how'd you end up in the service? You were a pacifist, from what I remember..."

"My parents decided I should help out the cause...so they forced me to join at least the reserves. I was an air defense pilot; flying Hornets...they don't have anything except Hornets or Scimitars, Raptors are too important to waste watching colonies I guess. Had some experience fighting off some Dralthis...mainly just keeping anything away from the planet. I become one of the most experienced pilots along with Lightning Rod and Icy, so they moved us here. They needed an extra pilot to fill out Hell's Unicorns so they put me in your squadron, instead of in the Hornet squadron."

"I see. Scimms are safer then Hornets, or at least I'd prefer to see you in one...more armor. I'm glad to have you with me." She smiled.

"The feelings are mutual." He smiled, noticing off in the distance that Griggs was almost in a trance...staring at her. Rick smirked over at him, Griggs noticing it and suddenly turning the other way in embarrassment.

"So I don't know Rick, we have a lot of catching up..." As she was speaking, an announcement came over the intercom.

"Will the following pilots please report to the mission room: Pilgrim, Swordblade, Firestorm, Houlahoop. Thank you." Rick looked around, Pilgrim swore and then got up to leave, looking over at Molly.

"Hey you, Havekost! We have to go..." She looked back to Rick.

"...as I was saying, we have a lot of catching up to do...but I guess that'll have to wait. I'll talk to you later." She got up, hugging him at the table.

"I'll talk to you later too. Good luck..." She nodded and went off on her way, both Rick and Neal staring. Once she had left with Pilgrim, Rick got up, Joker looking at him.

"She's a real beauty..."

"She is. I used to know her a while back. I'll tell her you said that." He blushed and jumped back.

"No! I don't want to rush things...err..."

"Ha. She wouldn't mind."

"If you say so. Thanks Rick." He nodded.

"You're welcome Griggs." Rick looked around yet again, finding Ballentine near passed out, empty bottle in hand. Death was sitting alone; the two new Hornet pilots were still in the room but were recounting their own adventures. Glosco and Rokain had left some time earlier.

With the extra time available he went over to look at the scoreboard.

Pilot: Sorties: Kills:
Hell's Unicorns (Scimitars)
Sol 45 34
Raine 44 27
Delta 24 25
Swordblade 23 17
Valentine 20 11
Pilgrim 20 9
Joker 11 6
Houlahoop 21 4
Pawn 10 2
Stormy 9 1
Firestorm 0 0
Switchblade 0 0
Bluebird KIA

Honshu Hornets (Hornets)
Artimis 27 27
Death 33 22
Jack 18 8
Honeybee 20 4
Lightning Rod 20 2
Icy 21 1

Mollo had been right when he had mentioned that new pilots were a mixed bag of talent. Apparently, Switchblade was a brand new pilot even with the imposing handle suggesting otherwise. Then again it seemed that Sol and Raine were much more qualified for his position then himself, so he wondered how he was still squadron leader. He noticed that Allison and Death had both scored some kills since the last time, a new sortie. He wondered what they had been doing before walking off.

DJ Erik

Chapter 23
Maegen, Evan, Molly, and Ben all sat down in the comfy seats of the mission room, the nicest seats in the whole ship. A tradeoff for having the most dangerous job. Mollo had a diagram of the mission plan on the computer.

"Alright everyone, time to take our efforts up a notch. Two of our Hornet pilots ran into an enemy supply line while on recon. They initially found three Dorkir; they were able to destroy one and several fighters before they were forced to come back. As for what we know now, the other two Dorkir are still in the area heading towards Brimstone II. It's up to you to determine whether or not the Dorkirs are still here, and if they are; then it is your mission to destroy them. Any questions?" Molly rose her hand.

"Sir, how are we to engage the enemy transports?" He looked at her with an eyebrow raised, and then remembered her history.

"Ahh, you're one of those air defense pilots...if you come across a Dorkir, determine the safest way of attack then use your missiles since they'll have the most impact on the craft. Any sort of onboard guns are next to useless but if you're desperate to destroy it, then use them. In fact it would be a wise idea to use your guns to weaken the enemy's shields before using your missiles, so they aren't wasted when they hit." She took in all of this information then nodded.

"With that settled...Pilgrim, you're with Swordblade. Houlahoop is with Firestorm. Havekost, you're at least a somewhat experienced pilot so make sure that Fischer learns the ropes." The two new pilots looked at each other, Ben looking a bit worried. Then back at the commander.

"At any rate...we just got to this system, so don't take any unnecessary risks. We just got a full roster and it'd be a shame to have anyone killed at this point. If you get overwhelmed at any point return to the Regal immediately." There was an awkward silence after this, Pilgrim looking like he wanted to say something but he held his mouth.

"With that said...just take all the normal precautions and everyone should be alright. Ready to launch in ten minutes. Pilgrim and Swordblade will be first, then Houlahoop and Firestorm. Dismissed."

Pilgrim always felt trapped whenever he was inside the launch tube. Not always worried that he was going to die like Honeybee was, but...it just seemed that everything was going wrong. Like he was going to bite off more then he could chew, and not by choice.

His thoughts consumed him until his fighter was sucked right out the tube. He went forwards until the restraints caught him, he still didn't notice the fact he had been shot out the tube until Maegen got on the video comm.

"Pilgrim, you are flight leader for this mission, non?"

"Yes...wait for those other two to show up."

"Oui." As the two Scimitars drifted, Pilgrim looked around himself. Lightning Rod and Icy were flying about on guard duty, a very familiar mission to them. The Regal was looming behind them and soon two more Scimms came flying out of it towards their position.

"Status, everyone?" He watched the pilots on the video.

"Je suis très bien."

"This is Houlahoop, I'm perfect."

"Firestorm here, all systems are go."

"Affirmative. Form up on my right wing, then switch to autopilot to Nav One..." He looked to his right to watch as the other three pigs form a loose line behind him. The group had little time to spare with manual flying...if the transports had already been attacked then they weren't going to be around for much longer. They had to be found and found right away.

Nav One was empty as far as Evan could tell, but they were still at least several thousand more klicks away. The Scimms edged in closer at cruise speed...

"I've got contacts on radar, sir! Four!" The blonde's voice was calming enough for Evan to pay attention, but the news she had broken to him was not welcome.

"Back to manual flight control! We've found the Dorkirs...fighter escort too! Everyone be careful!" The commands were more to himself then the others since they were already on their way to where Havekost had located them.

I suppose this is going to turn out alright.

Evan started to gain some confidence as the brown vessels became larger in view...larger...larger...target lock...

...god damnit!

The targetor had acquired a lock on yet another Salthi.

"We've been had! Death had been telling me about this earlier...they're leaving these guys out as decoys!" Maegen got onto the channel, shocked at Evan's venom.

"How would Death know?"

"His flight ran into several of them when they were scouting for Dorkir...they're slipping right past us!" Evan pulled up his navigation chart on the computer...they were already thirty thousand klicks away from the first Nav point and even thousands more away from their next destination.

"Houlahoop, are these all Salthis?"

"Yes, sir."

"Right. Swordblade, Firestorm, stay here and clean these guys out...Houlahoop you follow me, we need to make up lost time. Everyone save your missiles!" As soon as he had made sure that she was following him he afterburned to the next Nav, hoping that she would keep up.

It took another five minutes for Evan and Molly to cover the fifty thousand klicks distance to the next Nav point. As soon as he had got there he raised her up on the comm.

"Houlahoop, are we clear?" He looked around and couldn't see another object in the distance...not even stardust. It was empty.

"We're clear from what I can tell. Nothing at this nav." Her words floated around in his mind for a couple seconds while he cursed at himself.

"Affirmative. Follow me to the third nav..."

With her still in tow Evan made his way over to the final nav, expecting that he was too late to do anything, too late to make a difference. And then...

They were in sight. Not Salthis.

"Pilgrim! Enemy contacts!"

She didn't even need to mention it; by the time she had the two of them were on top of the kats. Four of them.

"Confirmed, enemy sighted. Tankers...follow me in, use your guns!" He made one last look behind him to make sure she was on his tail and then he flew around his target, finding its backside at a wide enough distance to be able to engage.

The kitties inside the tanker had not much to do except swivel around their guns and try to take out the second Scimm as it flew in front of them. The gunner made a frantic sweep around the area trying to get some lead on it...

"Ahh! Pilgrim, I've taken a hit!" He looked back quickly to see several puffs of smoke coming out from the right wing of her craft. He made his discontent known with a grunt.

"How bad? I'm sort of busy myself..."

"Starboard stabilizer has taken some damage, I'm leaning to the right..."

"I see. You're in way too close if you get hit while you're in front of it...back off a ways. When you're attacking it like me...that's when you should be getting hit."

The scattered shots from the rear flak guns were shaking up Evan a good bit while he closed the gap. When he was just about three hundred meters away he opened up with his mass drivers...the green bolts splashing the shield just enough to let something else through. Something like a dumbfire.

As he pulled away a little smile was on his face. At least he did something good.

"Alright, Havekost...he's weakened up, get in there before his shields recharge, get him!"

"Affirmative...I'm heading in..."

Molly looked to her right side; the wing still giving her trouble...the whole Scimitar was off balance. She corrected it to the best of her ability and made the turn around to face the Dorkirs' rear.

The damage was visible, sparks flying off, one of the exhaust ports floating away after being severed from the engine block. As she got closer the flak got concentrated on her yet again, one burst detonating right in front of her nose. She flew through it...splashing the shields yet no harm done.

She realized it was good timing on her part, if she had flown any faster she would have been killed outright from a direct hit.

As soon that shock had gone away she concentrated on putting more missiles onto the damaged spot. The shields were recharging...by the time she'd get in range they would have been fully protected again...she didn't want that.

She triggered her mass drivers and let off her dumbfires before pulling away. As she did she watched the trail of the missiles...both exploding upon impact with metal, not static.

"I think I destroyed it...can you confirm?" As she backed away Pilgrim flew after another Dorkir.

"Confirmed kill. I'm having trouble here, attack my target!" She responded to his call as she watched the other ships flying ahead. One of the two Dorkir was slowing to a stop...

"Houlahoop, I think we've found the enemy jump point. Too late to get either of those two, I've put some lead into this one though. Help me out!"

The other two Dorkir disappeared in the instant that he made his transmission. In the meanwhile, he was pulling out and away from a slowly descending tanker.

"There's nothing that can be done about those other two Dorkir, except report what we saw...clean this one up and follow me when you're done." He stayed behind her to watch her run.

Molly made no contest to the order and was soon coming up behind the damaged Dorkir. Same spot as last time, engine block. She held onto the trigger and came in as close as she could without getting hit by the still functioning flak guns. Three missiles left...as soon as the Javelin locked on she left all three off.

"Good kill. Form up again." She turned around in her seat just in time to watch the tanker collapse on itself, starting from the engines to the front. As it died Evan slowed down until she was on his wing again.

"We'll head to Nav 2 again to connect with..."

As he was making his orders, Maegen and Ben showed up, their Scimitars slowly growing larger in view.

"How did your hunt turn out, Evan?" Maegen's tone over the intercom sounded a little sarcastic, at least to him.

"We found four of them and managed to destroy two of them...Havekost gets the credit for that. Your encounter with the Salthis?"

"I killed three myself, Firestorm got one as well but he wasted several missiles on it. I guess we don't need them anymore though." Evan sighed with relief.

"I suppose. At any rate let's get back. Everyone return to base..." He watched on and fell out of formation as the other Scimitars made their way through the void. He looked behind himself one last time to make sure nothing was there and started back, content he did a good job for once.

DJ Erik

Chapter 24
"So that chap got quite pissed, eh?"

Rick interrupted his staring out the view port long enough to look over to his right, finding his empty table now full with Sol and Raine. Sol was pointing over at Ballentine who was head down with a bottle of whiskey in hand.

"...He's always like that. Makes him happy at least."

"I see. Oh well on that matter...So I presume you're Delta?"

"That is right. Rick is my name, no need for callsigns at the moment."

"...I see. Jerrad is mine. You seem quite young to be a squadron leader."

"...He didn't have much of a choice at the time when he had to make one. Glad to meet you Jerrad." Rick looked him over yet again. The man had at least another fifteen or so years on him; he had a slight moustache and subtle receding hair. Rick looked over to his shoulder and found him to be a Major, already two ranks ahead of him...as soon as things were cleared up he found his replacement as leader.

"Glad to meet you too."

"I'm also glad to meet you."

Rick looked across the table and found his eyes to be met by a pair of gray ones. As Sol went over to the cooler to find himself a drink he looked over the older man's companion. She was almost as old as him, but seemed to have aged more gracefully...a woman's charm. Her smile lines were much more sculpted then anyone else he had seen onboard but it made for a really attractive smile. Her hair was rather long, brown...dark brown, almost to her chest, he had never seen a pilot with such long hair. She stared at him as well and her smile was slowly fading...

And he realized he was staring for too long. He looked the other way for a second, just long enough for Sol to come back.

"I see you're getting to know Raine. She's been my wingmate for all these years." He perked up and looked back at the both of them.

All these years?

"I met her back ten years ago when my first wingman died in a dogfight. She was his replacement...she was a damned beauty...still is." Sol's answer came out as if he had read Rick's mind. In reply Raine smiled in embarrassment.

"You'll never change Mecerrier. Never." She looked back to Rick.

"You're quite young. Have you lost anybody yet?" He took a short while to respond to the question.

"A new pilot back at Alcor, first mission and he was under my command. He didn't get out of the way of a missile." She nodded slowly.

"...There will be more."

Rick nodded in agreement and looked out the view port again, feeling awkward. Sol took a swig.

I wish me and Maegen could be like these two...

It seemed foreign to him at the time. Everyone had told them that either one of them or both of them would die. At the very least they'd be ripped apart. But it seemed that the averages had missed these two by his side. He was hoping it'd work in his advantage for her also.

"So Rick...it seems that we're finally making a breakthrough in this. The Tiger's Claw is cutting a path and we're right behind..." Rick snapped back to reality, listening to Jerrad's comments. As he did he got just the slightest glimpse of Allison walking by, bottle of wine in hand. Heading back to her room it would seem.

"I've been waiting a while for this, haven't you? We might take Vega sector back after all..." The thought was nice but Rick was more concerned with what he had just seen.

"...I don't know, really. I haven't been fighting all that long..."

"You've already seem to be quite the pilot, from what I've looked at on the chalkboard."

"Only do what I have to...there's more pilots then me, some absolutely stellar pilots. Artimis...she's fantastic. And Death too. Nothing could get by those two." Sol listened and took it with a grain of salt.

"Don't worry about them, lad. Types like you get things done. Them...they're just hotshots. I've seen many of them. They'll rack up kills and get cocky, think that they can take on anything. Then they get so cocky that eventually they get shot down by a Salthi that was riding their back. Then they aren't worth so much anymore, eh?"

Rick nodded in agreement again, but wondered over it. Allison wasn't that type...she wasn't cocky, she was just good. Certainly she wasn't ever going to get killed by some little guy she overlooked...

About a half hour later Rick was standing in front of the door to the mission room. He was feeling much more acquainted with Sol and Raine, maybe more then he wanted to. At any rate the door opened up.

"Maegen, how are you?" She looked over to him, stepping out.

"...Je suis très bien." Her gaze pierced into him, he frowned.

"If you want me I'll be going down to our room..." He stopped her in midsentence.

"That's the thing. I want you now." She looked at him, then around to make sure nobody was listening to them.


The door locked behind them, she crawled onto her bed and took off her flight jacket, laying it next to her. She laid her hands over her eyes and let off a sigh.

"What do you want Rick?" he felt uneasy but he spoke up.

"I don't know...talk. Last couple days have been rough..." She got up and looked at him.

"How so?"

"Between us."


"Things feel fucked up. Did I do something wrong?"

"...You've been risking yourself too much out there."


"That last assault...I didn't want to leave your wing. Please don't make me do that. You were outnumbered..."

"Your fighter was damaged bad...I didn't want to risk you getting killed when I don't have to..."

"...You risked yourself for me."

"I did."

"You didn't have to, I could have fought them with you."

"You were already in the red by that point. If you stayed there and got hit anymore you would have either been killed outright or you would have ejected and been caught by them."

"...I guess so...still you shouldn't have stayed alone out there. Even though you were alright they could have killed you just as easy as they could have killed me."

"...I didn't want them chasing you, Meg. Harming you."

"..." Her eyes were welling up.

"Hell Rick...I don't want them hurting you either..." Rick fell silent. Within several moments whatever bad energy had built up between the two had disappeared as she came up and embraced him.

"Ne me laissez pas." He held her smaller figure in his arms and let her cry on him.

"I'm not leaving you. Don't leave me either." She looked up at him long enough to see him smile at her, and she gave him a peck on the cheek.


"Thank you."

"De rien."

The two sat alone in the compartment, separated from whatever else could bother them. They sat together for what seemed to be hours before Rick finally broke the silence.

"So...why did you hold it so long?"

"...I've always held things in like that. You've just never noticed."


DJ Erik

Chapter 25
In what seemed to be in the middle of the night the ship intercom turned on, loud enough to wake up anyone asleep. As Rick woke up he listened.

"Attention, attention. Delta, Sol needed in Mission Room right away. Repeat, Delta, Sol needed in Mission Room. Thank you."

Maegen rubbed her eyes while she looked over to her comrade. She couldn't see him in the dark but knew that he was always right where she needed him most.

"Bonne chance." He stopped dressing out in flight garb long enough to answer back.

"Thank you."

In five minutes Rick was in the mission room, helmet in hand. Sol was already there, standing alert and seemed to be not tired at all for being woken up at such an hour. Rick was absolutely haggard in comparison.

"Alright, gentlemen, thank you for coming promptly. We have a situation." Mollo read Rick's grimace at the last comment and took note of it.

"We've discovered two large contacts on radar. Not sure what they are, but most likely they are Dorkir...that's not certain though so be careful. If you happen to run into anything larger then a Dorkir out there then I want you two to come home immediately to report on it. Understood?" Rick and Jerrad both nodded.

"Good to hear. Nav data is being downloaded to your onboard computers now. It's a three-point path but you're only going to go as far as the second nav point. At that time you'll be relieved by another pair that will head on to the third nav. At the moment though, you have your hands full already. Be careful out there...you're launching in five minutes."

The Regal was fading away quickly while the Scimm shot out the tubes. He took a quick look behind him to make sure that his wingman hadn't suffered some sort of launching failure.

"Sol, what's your status?"


Another French...

"I see...good?"

"Yes sir. French decent."

"Alright. You'll want to see Swordblade later on. Meanwhile form up on my wing. You've see action against tankers before, no?" He felt stupid for asking but wanted to know if he had a competent companion.

"More often then not. Who's going to be lowering the shields?"

"I guess I will. You can take the kills."

"No sir...you can take the kills, I don't want the flight leader to get killed off right away. I'll lower the shields." Rick listened to Jerrad like the chain of command was the other way around.

"Affirmative. Thank you Sol."

"No problem sir. Let's get on them, eh?"

Two objects were plainly visible in the red light given off by Brimstone. What wasn't easily seen where several smaller objects flying at them...

"Sol, four enemy contacts on radar...Dralthi. We better attack them before we get to the others..."

"Oui. Give me the command..."

"Break and attack."

"Mon plaisir."

With that Jerrad was off. Rick didn't have much time to be able to determine where the guy was since he had already gunned off far ahead...right into the pack of kittens. He played chicken with one of them while the others flew off and seemed to have been the one that came better off...at least his Scimm wasn't showing any visible damage.

"He's as good as dead. I'll help you when I finish him."

It seemed to Rick that Sol was a rather good self-contained pilot. At least somebody that could take care of himself and actually help out instead of being a liability. Something he had been missing recently...his favorite nationality was now the French.

"Affirmative...I'm on the offense." He looked around quickly and judged his chances. Two of the Dralthis were breaking to the left, out of the way of Sol's Scimitar...breaking away quickly, he was already on their tail while the Dralthi he was after was now a cloud of debris. Closer and heading towards him was another one, a easier target since he wasn't going to make an attempt to dodge...The cat had him in his sights and he wanted to make up for a partner lost.

To combat him, Rick took the easiest way to shake the cat...he flew to the left of it. While the saucer looped around to get another clear view of him Rick had already had it in his own sights, and triggered the mass drivers. In several seconds a few bursts of projectiles were burrowing into the underbelly of the Dralthi. As it fell out of control and eventually burnt Sol got onto the intercom.

" Deux mises à mort. Can you attack the remaining target?" Rick surveyed Sol's position. He was just fresh out of destroying a Dralthi, and the other one that had accompanied the newly dead kitten was making a quick retreat to the tankers.


"Bien. I'll begin my run on the enemy transports now."

Rick watched the Frenchman fly straight ahead of the Dralthi, confusing the cat into thinking that the Confed was retreating in the wrong direction. At any rate he was onto the Scimm's tail, knowing that eventually the human fighter would find the transports that he was meant to protect.

In the meantime Rick had afterburned right behind the kitten and was opening fire. The pilot of the Dralthi didn't have much time to look behind himself since by the time he had turned around, there was no more back to the Dralthi. He was sucked out into space just as the rest of the fighter went up with the engine.

As he passed by the floating body he wondered if that the pilot was going to get rescued.

Most likely not. A Kilrathi who loses his ship is as good as dead.

Getting back to his own matters, Rick looked ahead to see his teammate lining up a pass on the back of a Dorkir. As he drew closer the older pilot opened the channel again.

"I'm going to lower his shields, you make the kill sir!"

With that Sol was right on target. He afterburned just enough to avoid getting hit by any exploding flak that was being shot out from the rear turrents, and maneuvered to avoid the flak shells once he was close enough that a hit would be disastrous. As soon as he had closed the range he had opened up with the mass drivers, cutting a hole right through the shield. He pulled away and looked back to Rick.

"Your run, Delta. Salut!"

The words rang in Rick's ears as he flew straight at the Dorkirs damaged rear. Two missiles would most likely finish the vessel off, so he opt to use dumbfires...

The outbound flak was easy enough to avoid, seeing that it was only coming in a straight line...the others must had been knocked out of commission.

Once he had closed the gap he fingered the trigger...

The explosion blew out the left computer screen and sent the shards flying all over the cockpit. Even as the shards settled the sparks flew out and the resulting panic caused for a moment of bad judgment...

"Oh shit!"

Rick watched helplessly as both his missiles flew out into the void, far from hitting anywhere near the Dorkir. He flew away from the tanker, in fear that another shot might take him out. Once he had gotten far enough to be safe he tried pulling up a damage readout.

...That's right. The left screen is the damage report.

"Sol, I'm going to head in for another run, am I clear?"

"No sir, I'm going to do this run for you, you look badly damaged."

Is it really that bad?

He looked outside the cockpit to find that shrapnel had lodged itself in both wings, tearing up the smooth metal badly. In his look behind he had determined that the engine was working fine but a fine trail of fluid was flowing out, result of something being stuck inside it and severing a connection.


"Sol, I'm serious about this. You attack the other tanker and I'll finish what I started."

"Ce que vous..."

As he made sure that Jerrad was following orders, Rick made a turn around to face the rear of the damaged tanker for a second pass...by the time he'd get there the shields would be nearly recharged...hopefully the missiles would destroy it.

The flak began firing again, Rick making a careful decision to approach from below the gun where it couldn't get as clear of a shot pattern on him. As soon as the shots were flying overhead he switched to Javelins...

The three seconds waiting for the chirping of the lock on to become a steady ping seemed to be much longer then usual. As soon as it did though, Rick couldn't have been much more relieved. He let off his remaining load and took off.

A look behind confirmed his hopes; the tanker went up in a burst of flame.

" Bonne mise à mort, Delta."

"Thank you." He took a look at his fuel gauge to find that he was running very low. He only had enough for about ten seconds of afterburner...nowhere near the amount he'd want to attempt taking on a bombing run.

"Sol I'm going to have to abort soon..."

"That's alright sir, I'll make a second pass on this one, I've already made a first." He was amazed at his mate's efficiency.

"Thank you Sol."

The tanker had already seemed to have blown apart before Rick said his thanks. Sol was already past the effective range of the flak and letting off his ordinance while afterburning away. In the few seconds that followed, the guy had made a clean getaway while the tanker blew from the inside out.

"Enemy transport destroyed. I suggest that you head home sir." Rick nodded, looking behind him.

"We have to reach the second Nav though."

"Don't worry about that, I'll do it myself. The patrol that's supposed to relieve us should be on the way already so I'll just wait there until they arrive."

"...Thank you."

"Oui, de rien."

As he started back for the Regal he took a look behind himself, watching the other Scimm fading into the distance. After seeing what the other could do, it seemed that he was very incompetent.

DJ Erik

Chapter 26
In the morning Allison had gotten up...tried to. Fallen back in bed, feeling like she was about to die.

As he had guessed the night before, she had gone straight to her room after picking out a wine. And as could be guessed by anyone she drank it.

What couldn't be guessed would be the effect. Or the cause.

She often spent her nights alone like that but it was the first time she had ever drank herself to sleep. She had to keep her mind off him though.

"Why me?" and "Why him?" she wondered while she poured herself more and more of the red liquid, holding back tears in-between each sip and feeling weepy. More importantly, she asked herself "Why am I so alone?"

She wanted to hold onto him. He was the only good in her world. She wanted to latch onto him like a leach...but that would never happen. He was already taken by the time he came into her life. She couldn't change that...

And that's when she passed out, a completely empty bottle next to her.

Trying to get up was absolutely miserable. She couldn't do it...the mere movement of her head made everything spin around in circles...the ceiling bursting into rapid movement around and around, the walls and the bottle and everything else around following suit. She couldn't track it all anymore.

"A little more sleep..."

The sight of the Regal was a sight for sore eyes. To Rick it seemed that he couldn't land quick enough.

"This is Delta, requesting clearance for emergency landing..."

"What's your status?" The gentleman working the comms seemed like he was going through a routine, instead of actually talking to someone.

"...Extensive damage, too dangerous to continue on."

"Permission granted."

The approach to an Exeter's hanger was much more difficult then a Bengal or a Gilgamesh, considering that the Exeter had no room for a extended runway to guide one in like a Bengal carrier had...the hangers were tucked in right underneath the engines The experience was like flying into a shoebox with no lid...except unlike a shoebox, the Exeter hanger was surrounded by a highly shielded destroyer and many engines that would fry a fighter if its pilot made an error. Granted one would have to make a very bad error to end up being burnt alive on either the shields or the engines but the thought was always on the mind to make one not make a mistake in the first place.

However...throw in a damaged fighter into the equation and it made things even more difficult. Delta's situation wasn't too bad considering he still had control over his ship but the idea of meeting steel was enough to keep him even more alert then usual...the autopilot wasn't going to do the job for him.

"Call the ball Delta."

"Delta calling the ball..."

The guide beams were turned on, all four points radiating from the corners of the hanger bay...Rick was coming in too far to the lower left.

"Delta, you're coming in too low..."

"Noted, correcting..."

He pulled up and to the right, slowing down to just twenty KPS to reduce the chance of accidentally changing course...nobody else was needing to land so no need to risk getting killed coming in too quickly. Soon enough he was right in the center of the guides and hovering inside the hanger.

"Perfect, sir."

"You really botched this one, sir." Rick looked at Johnson with a puzzled look on his face.

"The mission?"

"Your ship."


"You're lucky you made it back at all, it was a time bomb. Afterburner fuel lines were cut...shrapnel up the engine. Any more hits there and it would have taken you out for sure."

"I see."

"Also, shrapnel almost everywhere else. You did a hell of a number on her. What happened?"

"...Flew into some flak on accident, bombing run. One shell."

"You must have been flying in pretty close to get hit that bad."

"I was."

"...Well, at least you're alright. Can't say that much for your ship, at least at the moment. It's going to take a day or two to completely fix it up. In the meantime I'll get the extra Scimitar online for you. Don't be so rough on her." Rick listened to everything he had to say and nodded before walking off.

"I won't. Thank you."

Within the hour Sol had returned. Both went to Mollo's office for debriefing.

"That was a well done mission, gentlemen. Overall you destroyed two transports and four fighters, one transport and two fighters a piece. It was unfortunate that you had to return home early, Delta; but there was no harm done. All goals were accomplished and it was best to have returned anyways, instead of risking your fighter and yourself." He looked to Rick and had a slight smile on his face; Rick taking the hint and nodding in agreement.

"Other then that I don't have much to say, we're still waiting on Joker and Stormy to come back from checking the third nav point. Regardless, excellent work on destroying the transports, each kill means one less chance for the Kilrathi to continue their war on our ground troops. It's really making the difference." He let his words soak in before dismissing them.

As Delta walked out of the room, Sol caught up to him.

"Monsieur, you flew well, even though you had to return. A live pilot is going to be much better then a dead one in the coming days..."

To pipe his curiosity he went down to the rec room to see if anyone was awake at such an early hour. As he suspected there was nobody there...at least, almost nobody.

"Evan, how's it going?" Pilgrim looked up from his instant breakfast, as usual looking like he was deep in thought.

"Eh...it's going alright Rick. Got a minute?" Rick nodded in confusion and sat down.

"I've got a minute or two to spare. What's on your mind?"

"This whole campaign."


"Yeah...have you noticed our role in this? We're nothing but a support ship, nowhere near any front lines. I like this but I don't think that it's going to last for very long."

"I see..."

"I guess that's the mission of the strike carriers to perform, breaking through the lines and claiming back Vega sector, but...we're just going to keep following those carriers where ever they may go. I'm doubting that they're going to get all the way to Venice without stopping..."

"What makes you think that?"

"I don't think...I just know. Something is going to go wrong. The Confed is really going to bite off more then they can chew, we're going to lose people in this."

"Confed's always lost people, Pilgrim."

"But not as much as they're going to now. It's a big gamble; Gimle and those systems claimed by the Kilrathi are swarming with the cats. We're seeing action with several fighters and such a mission, since there's so many of us to ensure that none of them survive...once we get onto their grounds it's going to be the reverse. Those strike carriers are going to be beat into retreating...and guess what's going to happen to us?"


"We're going to be the ones fighting the frontline battles. And I really doubt that we have all that great of a squadron. We aren't going to last long."

"I think that it's good."

"You're the leader...you're supposed to think that. Have you ever doubted yourself out there Rick? I know I have...I'm sure that everyone on here has. When you doubt yourself out there in front of all those Kilrathi, they're going to rip you apart without hesitation. They'll kill you for thinking."


"And it isn't going to be some Dralthi or a Salthi either. There's going to be nothing like that out there. The next fighter you're going to run into is going to be a Gratha, or it's going to be a Krant, Jalthis even...they aren't going to give up their systems for free. And it isn't like you can take three or four Salthis and not break into a sweat...those bastards in the Krants out there are match to match good as us. And for Grathas...superior. I know you've come up against some before that didn't seem like much but out there, they're truly something."

"Eh." Rick thought back upon the time he was fighting the Krant in Enyo and how it had been so much of a challenge to kill...the idea that he could be facing several of those at one time seemed daunting.

"I'd say we have to get ready for it Rick...I know I'm not going to like this."

"You've never liked anything as long as I've known you...not very long but still. But you're right this time."

"Of course I'm right...we're a flying circus at the moment. You and Maegen are my only reliable wingmen...I wish I could say otherwise but I can't. Ballentine is so determined to kill everything, that's good...but when he's out killing everything except the guy behind me that doesn't settle so well. Joker has not done a damn thing for as long as I've flown with him. Pawn and Stormy? They're right about up there with Joker for uselessness...Stormy has fired her cannons once and she missed every shot. Now for these new guys..."

"...Joker isn't useless...he just needs to learn how to act on his own accord and stop waiting for orders. Every mission I've flown with him he's been a great wingman."

"What about the others then?"

"...Jack, I'll give you that one. Already I've had him skip out on me to chase after a Salthi a few times. Pawn...he's...I dunno. He's just there. Stormy, she just needs some more practice and she'll be fine. And we both know how great a pilot Meg is. As you were saying..."

"Yes, yes, the new pilots. You know Houlahoop personally don't you? She was telling me about you a while ago. How you two were good friends back when you were in school."

"We were pretty good friends."

"...Anyways, she's a good pilot. Actually she and Firestorm are the only two new pilots I've flown with. Haven't really met the others yet. Molly though, she's excellent. She took out both of those transports back when we attacked them yesterday and that was her first time to attack something that large. I was somewhat anxious but she's really proved herself."

"I haven't flown with her yet, the way I scheduled things she's my wingman the next time I fly. I guess I'll be looking forward to it."

"You should. As for Firestorm...I didn't have any experience with him, I ordered him with Maegen. I'm sort of anxious around anyone that hasn't gone on a real mission yet. Didn't know if I could trust him to watch my back."

"You'll have to fly with everyone eventually..."

"I know. But I just want to fly with the people that actually know what they're doing. Doesn't set well with me at all that we have two completely brand new pilots on board."

"We have a bunch of experienced pilots now, in both squadrons..."

"Sol and Raine, I haven't met them yet but their records are decent. If you're referring to the two new pilots in Honshu Hornets, I don't believe you. Over twenty sorties a piece and the best the both of them can do is three kills? Otherwise I'd believe you...Death and Artimis are a great pair. I'd fly with them any time."

"Icy and Lightning Rod were planetary defense pilots, that explains their low kill count. I agree with you on Allison, though..."

"I've really wanted to get to know her better, Rick. She's a good person, she's alone all the time though. What happened to you and her?"

"I don't know."

"I see..."


"Well...I don't know. Personal things aside she's a good pilot."

"One of the best I've ever seen."

"Yes...I've really lost track of what I was talking about there. Sorry Rick."

"It's alright."

"Thanks for listening to me, I guess I just had to ramble on."

"No problem. I have a ready ear every time that you need to."

"I appreciate it, Rick."

The two stood up and silently nodded at each other before going their separate ways. As Rick walked by he made yet another look at the recently revised kill board:

Pilot: Sorties: Kills:
Hell's Unicorns (Scimitars)
Sol 46 37
Raine 44 27
Delta 26 32
Swordblade 24 20
Valentine 21 13
Pilgrim 21 9
Joker 12 7
Houlahoop 22 6
Pawn 10 2
Stormy 9 1
Firestorm 1 1
Switchblade 0 0
Bluebird KIA

Honshu Hornets (Hornets)
Artimis 27 27
Death 33 22
Jack 18 8
Honeybee 20 4
Lightning Rod 20 2
Icy 21 1

DJ Erik

Chapter 27
"Allison...can you do this?" Rokain looked at her with a worried look, most likely for himself more then it was for her.

"I can...ahh don't give a damn about me. I'm alright."

"I sure hope you are." He could tell that she wasn't in her right mind but he couldn't exactly place what it was...she was just completely not herself. Whatever it was though, she had to get over it...he wasn't going to fight anything larger then a house cat if Allison wasn't going to back him up.

The two came into the briefing room; Mollo looking a bit ragged himself.

"Good morning, Artimis, Honeybee; today's date is two-thousand, six-hundred fifty-four point one-hundred thirty-four..." He noticed Allison's outward appearance as much as Eric did. At any rate he went on with his briefing.

"Things have been a bit heated lately. This morning alone both Delta and Joker flights ran into enemy transports. Delta and Sol both bagged several fighters and two transports, and then Joker and Stormy came across another two transports and managed to destroy one and two Krants before the other fighters caused them to retreat due to damage." He stopped to look over his two pilots again. Allison did not look like she was anywhere near fit to fly...which was a shock to him since she was always the one to have a perfect stance and a perfect uniform...it wasn't like her at all.

"From all the activity we've run into this morning, I believe we've come across another Kilrathi hotspot. They're getting desperate to deliver supplies through our blockade, and now they are flying in from where ever they can get their transports through." He pulled up a nav map; another standard diamond point patrol was marked.

"We're running out of Scimitar pilots to send out at the moment with so many off duty and so many enemy contacts...so I'm sending you two out there. It's a simple three-point patrol. Check all the nav points, hopefully you won't run into anything out there but most likely you will...I'm assuming that you'll both be more then up to the task, though." Rokain nodded, but then muttered something to the effect of "oh shit". Allison just stood in place and stared at the map.

"At any rate, please take care out there. If you run into anything larger then a transport retreat immediately and report, we'll deal with it from that point. I don't you either of you to attempt to take something of that size on." For Rokain that was a no brainer, but Regent always had to be given that order since she would take on anything Kilrathi...even if she were fight them fisticuffs. All that energy had finally seemed to have been sucked out of her, though.

"Good hunting out there...you are to launch in ten minutes. Dismissed."

Rokain slung his helmet over his shoulder and trotted out of the rec room, feeling more or less hopeless since he couldn't even take on a transport in his Hornet, much less anything else out there.

Regent was still looking at the nav map before she finally turned to Mollo.

"Sir?" He looked at her, concerned.

Ahh no...not my best pilot.

"Yes, lieutenant?"

"I've been hurting lately."

"...How so?"

"Personal problems...relationship..."

"Ahh hell Regent, some flight tech break your heart and you want off flight duty?"

"No...pilot. But I don't want to be called off flight duty, sir. I'm requesting permission to fly as was planned. I've noticed your concern, so I understand if you don't want me flying..."

"...Are these problems going to cloud your judgment?"

"No, sir."

"Then you're still on flight duty. I need you out there, Regent. Rokain is not the pilot I would choose to solo on this..." She nodded and started off on her way...Mollo grabbing her by the arm.

"Please Artimis, please don't fail me...you're one of the best pilots I have and that's why I need you, I know you'll get this job done...take care of yourself out there Regent." She turned around to face him; a small smile that could barely even be seen was on her lips.

"I won't disappoint you, sir."

"Good to hear that. Dismissed."

In the launch tubes, Allison could feel the restraints biting into her flight suit, pushing her into her seat...the small cockpit had always been her freedom, out there flying...but now it seemed like a cell. It was eating away at her heart and she could barely stand it, not even now just minutes away from a sure flight into kittens...that had always pleased her but she couldn't even think of it now.

Why am I so inferior to her...

"Hey, Artimis!" She shook herself out of her trance and looked at the vid comm. What she could see looking at her through his visor glass was pure terror.

"What is it Honeybee?"

"Are you ok? Be honest with me."

"I am."

The answer rang as "bullshit" in his ears.

"Damnit Allison I'm serious. Are you ok?"

She took a much longer time to respond then to his first question.

"...I'm fine. Now fuck off." The response was meant to harm and she fully wanted it to, but when she saw his lip quiver as a reply...

"Alright then...I just want to know."

"...I'm sorry Eric. I didn't mean that..."

"I have heard that a couple times now. I hope you mean it."

What the hell is wrong with me?

"I mean that, Eric. I'm going to make sure you come home, even if it means my life."

If my life is even worth that much.

"...Don't say that. I want us to both come home. I don't want to die and I don't want you to die for me..."

"Ahh. Don't worry about it. I'm your squadron leader, right? I'll make sure of it we both come back, I know you love life..."

"...Thank you Allison." By the time he signed off on the vid comm his expression had gone from fearful to reassured. She forced a weak smile just to show him her sincerity before she signed off as well.

"You're welcome Eric."

Maegen looked down at the computer screen, the light blue glow bathing the entire room and exposing that Rick's bed was still empty...she was hoping that he'd be back alright. In the meantime she went through her emails:

TO: First Lieutenant Maegen Covan, TCS Regal
FROM: Captain Magis Covan, TCS Broadsword
DATE: 2654.133

Salut Maegen!

J'avais fait tout à fait bien à l'heure actuelle. Nous avons été attribués à nouveau au système de Trimble, il est trois sauts loin d'Alcor. Là peu avait combattu où nous sommes postés ainsi vous ne devez pas vous inquiéter de moi... mais je m'inquiète de vous journalier, maintenant que vous êtes dans le Brimstone. Si au moins tous les deux nos bateaux avaient été assignés encore ensemble, je reposerais plus facile sachant que nous serions très étroits ensemble, mais il ne s'est pas avéré de cette façon. Je prie pour votre retour sûr me, pour moi m'ennuie de vous beaucoup.


While she was reading his message several teardrops streamed down her cheeks, touched by what he had written to her. She missed him just as much, maybe even more then he did her...

She finally turned off the computer, feeling the lack of sleep after waking up every few minutes to see if he had written...as she closed her eyes the only thoughts in her head where of what she was going to write back to him.

Rick went through the door and found her still asleep. He smiled at the sight of her, wondering if he should wake her up to let him know he had come home alright...but decided against it, he didn't want to trouble her anymore. He still wanted her to know...he put his helmet on his bed so that she'd find it whenever she woke up.

As he started on his way back out he took a last look at her, noticing how deep of a sleep she was in. Even when they were kids, she had never slept so soundly. The mere drop of a pin was enough to wake her up, but...

He knew it was all the stress that was put on her. Either with him risking himself, or the fact Magis wasn't around, or just her feeling uncomfortable...all of it was weighing on her. What really bothered him about the whole mess was how she had held his actions against him...and how long she had held them for. Who knew how many more she was still holding?

The rec room was much more crowded upon Rick's return. Sol was off watching something on the holovid; eating breakfast...Joker and Stormy were sitting together and talking, laughing...

And then old blue eyes was staring at him again.

"Hi Rick..."


Rokain didn't need any radar to tell him he was in a world of shit.

"Break and attack!"

Are you serious?

The Krants were flying directly at them...all four of them coming right out from the belly of a Ralari...and this was the first nav point.

"Affirmative Artimis." As if the kats could read his mind, they were on him...and he wasn't in any right mind to put up a fight...So he did the most natural thing possible. He pulled up Allison on the comm.

"Artimis I'm biting off more then I can chew..."

"As I can tell. Here I come." He let out a sigh of relief as her Hornet came into view...as long as she was his wingmate never had to fire a single shot, she did all the work for him.

His role was to be bait and he knew it, all he had to do was attract every single kat in sight towards him and pull out, and then she'd be right behind them and committing a mass slaughter...

"Bugs Bunny is a coward!" He noticed that this time he wasn't alone when he pulled out for her.

"...What the hell."

"So...you still like dance, then?"

"I do."

"Ballet still?"

"Yes...and also I've learned how to dance in zero-g since you've been gone."

"You were always so lovely when you danced."

"Thank you...you were my biggest supporter. I almost quit when you signed up..."

"Why would you do something like that?"

"I didn't feel like there was any need of me to dance anymore once you left."

"But why?"

"You weren't there to watch me."

It only took a shot or two and the rear armor was almost completely gone...cause for alarm since the guy was still back there with a loaded gun.

"Artimis..." Another look behind and all he could see was the Krant. It wasn't very close behind since of the speed advantage but the range was still close enough to waste him if he took another few hits.

"I'm sending a missile your way. Get ready to clear..." He looked up above himself and swore loudly as he watched a missile skim right above the canopy. He flipped around again to watch the Krant take it head on and disappear into the blast...then disappear completely into debris as several laser shots flew into the cloud.

"So you flunked out of school then?"

"Yes...that was the reason my parents made me join. I wasn't going anywhere..."

"To tell you the truth, I liked you that way."

"I did too. Everything seemed so much better back then."

"It did...then again, everything back then wasn't so great either."

"Honeybee you're going to have to actually shoot something this time...I'm swamped..."

He looked over and swore again. Other then the one behind him, she still hadn't killed any fighters...she was trailing one, one was breaking away and heading towards him, obviously trying to fly around and get a lock on him...and then gaining fast was a Krant right behind her, soon it'd be close enough to shoot, and if his own shields were of any indication...

Why do you have to be in trouble this time...

"Hang in there Alli, I'm coming." He had a nervous tone over the comm and there was no way he could hide it, over the video feed she could watch him turning back in his seat the entire time he was talking to her. And there was nothing on him, either.

Why do you have to be my wingman this time...

"Eh...we were kids Rick. You didn't know what you were doing."

"I didn't...but still I feel horrible for doing that to you. You didn't deserve that."

"It's alright Rick...I've forgotten all about that."


"I haven't forgotten about you, though."

She had flown out of the way shortly after Eric had let off his Javlin. Too far away to make any possible hit with a dumbfire, but close enough for a lock with the heat seeker. Even if the guy was able to avoid it then he'd be in no position to avoid a rapidly gaining Hornet...

"Honeybee watch yourself..."

In a rapid succession he heard her warning, then the lock warning, then looked around quick enough to see a heat seeker with his own name on it.


DJ Erik

Sorry for lack of updating, I'm still wanting to complete this story. Actually, Hell's Unicorns itself is going to be just the first part of a running story that goes up to a rather big famous battle in the year of 2668...so there shall be much more to come. In the meantime I'm setting up a website for this and other WC-related stories, so my posts here are just my finished first drafts, I would love comments for I'm planning a story "redux" if you will once the website is finished, to smooth out any inconistancies, which there are alot of now that I read what I've written.

"To tell you the truth I could never forget about you either."

"You seemed to have, with her...but I don't care. It's all over now."

"...She's my lover, yes...but you're my friend. That's more then I could say of any other lover I've had...maybe even her. You'll always have my love."

The rear armor blew off almost instantly upon impact. He broke off and did a kickstop, turning around to watch the Krant fly out of range. It wasn't any relief to watch it fly after Allison...but it was a relief to watch the one he had fired the Javlin at go down in flames.

"Rokain break off...I've got these two where I want them."

"I'll cover you."

"Alright...cover me then."

He watched on as she afterburned to get away the slower Krants. It wasn't going to be any sort of an even fight...she wasn't herself. If this was any other time she wouldn't have even ended up with someone on her six. Something was on her mind and it was making her judgement bad. And when it's someone as good as Regent making mistakes...it's deadly for the Rokains out there.

"I'm attracting the attention of one of them right now. He's not breaking off at all. Would you care to make a move on him? I'll try to get the other...oh."

Over the feed he could hear a faint chirping sound...the Krant that was trailing her let off a missile as soon as he had noticed.

Damnit...this is not good.

"I'm on him. You get out of there right away, you're going to get lit up soon..."

"Don't worry about me, I can look out for a missile. You just get that guy. It's your kill, you said you'd cover me."

"Alright..." He afterburned and looked down at the gauge, seeing that the fuel was draining away quickly and almost out. The laser cannons were fully charged...but were just laser cannons. Not nearly as heavy as he would of wanted them to be.

"I'm engaging now. I think I got him..."

"Don't think that you got him, make sure of it Honeybee."

With that she pulled out of the way of the missile just in time to avoid it...apparently it wasn't a heat seeker since it went straight ahead after she pulled out but still, the idea was in his mind...

What if it didn't?

"Thank you, Rick."

"You're welcome. Oh well on that, though. I don't want to talk about it anymore."

"Alright...we won't then."

The Krant loomed up long enough up in front of the crosshairs to make itself a target. Even if he was running low on fuel...it would take a real fool to miss such an easy shot. Or a real incompetant pilot. But if that was the case, then he'd be dead...

"Are you taking the shot then? If not I'll do it for you. I already got the other one..."

"No Artimis, I think I got him this time. You have the coordinates?"

"I do but you're flying the more damaged ship. We've gone so far away from that capship now...but I don't want you to get killed. Take this one out and then head straight for home with me. If they manage to get anymore out here...I'll take them on my own..."

...since I know you're going to break away anyways.

There was a slight pause while he thought about her comments...her tone. Nothing short of angry. He had been trailing this guy the entire time and he still hadn't made a move...meanwhile she had destroyed one for him and had just taken out another one that was a threat to the both of them. Now she was expecting a payback. Only one kill out of who knows how many missions with her getting one almost every time so far...

"Affirmative...I'm exhausting my remaining ordenence now."

The Dart made a smoky trail as it went ahead, no time for the kat to get away...it was a clean kill. The wings fell off their braces one by one and parted, then followed by the engines, and finally the cockpit breaking and falling away from the rest of it's body. If the explosion hadn't killed him...

There was another little pause on the comm before Allison got on again. He read it as complete shock.

"...good. Thank you Honeybee. Return home then."

As she got off he let out a little whistle.

It took the two of them nearly a half hour to return, but the Regal was in sight. Something Rokain wasn't expecting when he was hit. He looked down to meet a empty fuel gauge. And another look around to find the damage readout. Nothing done to the internals...but the rear armor was gone. Melted down to scrap...Johnson was not going to like fixing it.

But then there was the perk...a dead ship was at least bringing home a live pilot. It doesn't work the other way around.

Allison herself did nothing but open up a channel with home.

"Wilson, this is Artimis flight. Do you read?"

"I'm hearing you loud and clear. Go ahead Artimis."

"We ran into an enemy capship at nav one. A Ralari-class."

"An enemy capital ship?"


"I see...anything else to report?"

"We did not engage the enemy capship, but were engaged by four Krants on our way back. They were launched off the capship."

"Were they dispatched?"

"They were defeated. I destroyed two myself, Honeybee took care of the others."

"Affirmative. I wasn't expecting that there'd be a enemy capital ship here."

"It's just a destroyer. Not a carrier. It's not that much to kill..." She swallowed her own words though. She would have liked a capship kill to her credit. A Hornet wouldn't allow for that, though...

"I guess we'll see about that. You're cleared to land."

"So I guess I'll be seeing you again pretty soon."

"Yes...I'll be looking forward to it."

"As will I. Take care till then."

"I will...goodbye."


He walked out the rec room, looking behind himself to make sure if she was watching him leave or not.

Molly still put quite the spell on him. He couldn't tell what it was, though.