Balls of purple plasma began zipping past his cockpit, hitting the asteroid that was just below them. Looking up he saw three of the unknown alien fighters descending upon them. Jack and Angel immediately took evasive action. Pulling on his stick tightly, Jack reared his fighter upwards away from the asteroid and began rolling, with some shots barely missing him. “Cover my six, Angel, they’ve pissed me off. I’m going in for a shot.” Jack said, Angel confirming over comms with a click. Jack brought his nose down to center on the alien fighter that had just zipped past him. He lined up his sights and began firing his cannons. Bolts of red energy began spewing out of the cannons mounted on the Hornets wings. Jerking to the right quickly to maintain a lock on his prey, the alien fighter began taking evasive action.
“Come on… come on…” Jack whispered to himself, perspiration building inside his helmet as he concentrated. As he realigned his shot again, he quickly began firing and managed to clip the starboard wing of the alien fighter, sending it spiraling in to a small, nearby asteroid. “I got one on my tail, sir, can’t shake him!” Angel yelled over comms. Jack banked hard to the left to try and get behind the fighter, but it was moving too fast and his fighter couldn’t turn in time to catch it. Angel ducked beneath an asteroid, and as luck would have it, the enemy fighter attempted to fly under it, only to get clipped by a small piece of rock, sending it tumbling through space.
“Leave it Angel, we have to get back. They could very well already be attacking the Intrepid for all we know.” Jack said. Angling back on course, Jack and Angel began flying at top speed to get to the Intrepid. Flying through an asteroid field at these speeds was suicide, but it wasn’t an option at this point. “Nearing up on the edge of this field sir, but there is still no signal from the Intrepid.” Angel said. Jack began trying to multi task between flying and playing with his communications panel. The EM field was subsiding, but it was as if the Intrepid wasn’t even in the system anymore.
“Just push through Angel, we’ll get through it.” Jack said, looking down at his sensor panel to see if they were still being pursued. They weren’t, which worried Jack more so. As the two broke the asteroid field in to open space, the Intrepid appeared a ways off. “There she is Angel, let’s move.” Jack said into the comms, just as he glanced down again to see if they could get a signal, the Intrepid was hailing Jack. “Captain Reynolds, this is flight control, we’ve just received your earlier attempt to hail us. You are ordered to land immediately, please send your flight data now. Flight control out.”
Jack felt like the message was off, he would think they would be scrambling alert fighters right now to aid him in getting ready for an assault. Jack shook it off; there was probably good reason behind it, and now wasn’t the time to question things. Jack sighed heavily, somewhat relieved to be out of the asteroid field, but feeling remorse now for his pilots that he lost. Good men who had become close friends of his; in his mind, he failed them and himself.
Jack zoned out for a bit as he thought of all this, only to snap back as he began receiving landing instructions from the Intrepid. “Alright Angel, let’s take her home.” Jack said with a despairing voice. He wanted to go back, in hopes that maybe Serv or Jackyl had ejected in time. The thought was mindless hoping, but it helped him to focus somewhat. “Copy that, sir.” Angel said before cutting his comms off. The two fighters continued flying towards the Intrepid, preparing their ships to land.
Jack heard a beeping noise in his helmet; it was a secure channel that he was being hailed on. Who it could be, or why Jack didn’t know, but he was about to find out. “Captain Reynolds here, who is this?” Jack said questioningly. “This is flight control, Captain you and your pilot are hereby ordered to withdraw to 10,000 kilometers from the Intrepid and stand by for further orders. Flight control out.” Jack was confused, why would they want them to change course? More importantly, why on a secure channel?
“Angel, I just got word from flight control. I am routing a new rendezvous location to your navicomputer.” Jack said as he finished punching in the coordinates, sending it to Angel. “What the hell is this, sir?” Angel said angrily. They were both tired, but something didn’t feel right to Jack. “I don’t know Angel, but were about to find out I suppose.” Jack said, maneuvering his fighter around to reach the new rendezvous point.
As the two arrived, they cut their engines to stand by; floating in space freely as they awaited what would come next. Jack had a really bad feeling; everything seemed off to him from the first conversation with the Intrepid. “Angel…stay hot. I don’t like this.” Jack said to Angel over comms, keeping his hand ready to power up his shields and weapons.
As they waited, Jack’s sensor panel went ballistic with sudden pings all around him. Powering up his shields and weapons instantly, Jack punched his thrusters to maximum velocity; Angel followed suit right behind him. Bolts of red energy flashed behind them both as they narrowly dodged the oncoming enemy fire. As Jack and Angel began evasive maneuvers, the enemy fighters disappeared again. As soon as they were gone, he received another hail on a secure channel. Jack kept flying in random maneuver’s, trying not to let whoever was out there get a bead on him. He opened his comm to hear whatever it was over the secure line.
“Captain Reynolds, please do not make this so difficult. While this is a distasteful way of hiding a secret, it must be done.” The unknown man spoke, Jack didn’t respond. He focused on trying to devise a plan to save his ass from this mess. “What you found is unfortunate, but a certain… party cannot let this information be known to the galaxy. I have already declared you and your pilots as killed in action, now let my fighters do their work.” The comm unit shut off, and Jack sighed. He didn’t care who or what didn’t want them alive, he just wanted to get out of this alive.
Jack was already fiddling with his regulators, as he knew he and Angel were being preyed upon by stealth fighters. If these stealth fighters operated on the cloaking frequency he knew of, a short EM burst from his reactor would disable their cloaks. The result to his fighter? He didn’t know, but it was better than dying. Jack typed in a coded message to Angel, warning him of what he was about to do. What worried Jack right the most right now, was that he also knew what these fighters were. They were UEE experimental fighters, he knew because he tested one a few months ago.
An electric burst emanated from the ship as he ignited the EM burst, and just as quickly, four enemy fighters de-cloaked instantly, with their cloaking shields disabled. Jack’s fighter began blaring klaxons inside the cockpit, as many of his systems red lined completely. His fighter had overheated, and the computer began rebooting. As he looked up, he saw one of the enemy fighters beginning to shoot at him. Just as he thought he was done, Angel swept in taking the fighter out as he moved on to the next target. Jack relieved, gave a huge sigh, and loosened his grip on the control stick.
Angel took out another fighter, but just as quickly he received a hit to his starboard wing, but not enough to cripple his fighter. Jack’s cockpit lit up again as the computer finished rebooting, giving Jack full control again. Igniting the thrusters immediately, he pulled on the stick upwards with all his strength, dodging oncoming fire from one of the remaining two fighters. Banking right, he pulled up behind Angel, with the chasing fighter in between. Lining up his shot, he let loose a flurry of shots, hitting the fighters engine and igniting it instantly in to a ball of fire. Angel reared around to try and chase the remaining fighter, but it was already in retreat, and at a much faster speed than they could achieve.
Jack was receiving another private hail, but he ignored it. Focusing on survival now and getting him and Angel out alive. “I’m sending you coordinates to this jump point Angel, let’s burn our way there and get the frak out.” Jack said, and just before he could finish, the alien ship appeared next to the Intrepid, unloading a hell storm of plasma in to its port side. It was the perfect distraction to get them out; unfortunately, the jump point was between them and the ongoing battle now.
As the two began flying towards the massacre, the line of survival and death was very clear, and they only had one shot at this…
To be continued...