Chapter 1, Part1, The Fool
Flight Deck - TCS Tiger's Claw (CV-07)
Dakota System - 2645.155 (June 4th, 2645)
Loud noises of varying type echoed through the vast flight deck of the TCS Tiger's Claw. The fighters of the strike carrier were lined up neatly in a row for the morning sorties that soon would be leaving her. Multitudes of Scimitars, Hornets, Raptors and the soon to be retired Wildcats sat quietly, waiting for their pilots. Some of the craft looked abused, metal plates covering laser hits, and miscolored parts taken off a fighter that wasn't so lucky on the last mission it went out on.
This was the scene that Colonel Harry Mitchell overlooked as he stood on one of the many catwalks that criscrossed over the deck, some twenty meters in the air. He checked his ancient wristwatch, which read five minutes to five. Almost time for the briefing, he thought. Sled, as Mitchell was known, due to the fact he once used his Scimitar to push several disabled fighters off the flight deck, was all ready for a nice, quiet dawn patrol. That is when he felt a tap on his shoulder. Turning around, he gazed upon his good friend and squadron commander, Major Peter "Coyote" Halcyon.
"Morning Pete, what brings you up here at this ungodly hour?" Mitchell asked. He didn't like the sour look on Coyote's face.
"Somethings up, and Captain Harris is really pissed. He wants us in his office for an emergency briefing, right now." Halcyon responded.
"Who's going to brief the guys for morning patrols?"
"Shotglass is going to do it. I just hope he isn't too plastered from Paladin's birthday celebration last night. How is Paladin anyway?" Peter asked.
"Doc Peters still has him off the flight roster, he took a pretty bad tumble when he tripped over that barstool and flew into the simulator. His arm is pretty banged up, and he has a broken rib. He's pretty mad about it. Should be able to take duty tommorow." Sled said as he began to walk with Halcyon towards the end of the catwalk. They entered the lift right inside the doorway and took it up to Deck 9, located in the middle of the bridge tower.
"I really hope old War didn't volunteer us for another damned suicide mission. This ship is barely a year old and has already taken enough battle damage to warrent a refit." Sled quipped as the two pilots walked into the Captain's office. Sitting across the deck from them was a greying man with glasses. Captain Warren Harris looked up from his deck at the two men.
"Ah, Colonel, Major. Good to see you. We have some bussiness to attend to."
"Yes sir, lets get to it." Sled responded.
The Captain rose from his chair and locked the door. He then activated a small projector in the middle of the room, which displayed a listing of pilots in a fighter squadron that Harry was unfamiliar with.
"Two days ago, Valkyrie squadron, one of the most elite covert ops squadrons in the fleet disappeared without a trace on routine manuevers in this system. There were no signs of enemy action or debris."
Sled was about to speak but Halcyon cut him off. "How does an entire squadron of twelve ships disappear without a trace?" he asked impatiently.
"We don't know for now, but that is why the Tiger's Claw is in the system. The morning patrols will be altered so that our ships can scan for traces of the squadron. No one besides ourselves and Commander Harris will know about this. He'll download the changes to your navigation discs for the patrols. For now, run everything as normal, I'll brief you if anything changes. Dismissed."
Halcyon and Mitchell saluted the Captain and left his quarters. As they walked back towards the lift, Halcyon grinned.
"This should be fun."
"Don't remind me. What fool in me volunteered for this damned job." Harry wondered.