Read. Enjoy. Give me feedback if you like. But if you're short on time and trying to get caught up on fleet happenings, there is nothing of the fleet happening in here. Thanks.))
The pain was excruciating. She grasped her chest with both hands as she fell backwards. Her hands tore into the soft cloth of her kitchen apron as she clawed at the shooting pain emanating from the spot below. Her blond hair fell over her eyes as her view of the front doorway was replaced with the small houses ceiling.
She felt herself hit the floor with a thud. Any other time such a landing wound have hurt, but now she didn't even notice. The dish she was holding, still half draped in the towel she was using to dry it, crashed to the floor next to her. What should have been a loud crashing sound as the dish shattered barely registered in her ears. As if it happened far away. Either way, she didn't care.
She tried to scream but nothing came out. She tried again, only a squeak escaped. Her minded raced a thousand thoughts. In front of her, the doorway she had only moments ago been standing in filled with the silhouette. the dark outline of the murderer of her future.
She looked up at him as he stepped forward, but all of his feature were lost in the shadow he now casts into the room. The dark shadow grew across her face, blocking the peaceful noon-day sun behind him. With every step closer to her he took, her fear grew three fold.
The pain in her chest surged again and she clenched her eyes shut under its pressure. "No...." she tried to say though, again, nothing came out.
In the Gatha sector, four Peregrine fighters are whipping around each other and darted in and out of the small assembling battle group. All four fighters have, on their right rear vertical stabilizers the unit emblem of a Vipers head, its mouth open, fangs exposed.
Ensign Justin Walker leaned to his left and looked out the window towards his wingman who was about 20 meters off his wing tip and just slightly behind him. He keyed the comms button, "USS Strategy, this is Gold Viper 1. Gold Viper Flight is in formation and ready, over."
Before they could respond he quickly flipped a toggle changing his outgoing comm frequency from the battle group channel to that of his small fighter wings channel. With it, his tone of voice changed as well. "Dude..... that cheesy nose art you tried to paint on the front of your fighter looks like a giant blue blob is eating a swimsuit!" He laughed into the comm, keeping it keyed as he did to get his point across.
The USS Strategy, the large caitain carrier vessel at the center of the battle group replied to his first comm message, unaware of his second.
Justin barely registered their acknowledgement in the back of his mind, still focused on his wingman's horrible attempt at nose art.
The tellarite's rough voice replied to his insult. "It does not! Its the most beautiful Andorian in the galaxy!" A sigh could be heard through the comms before it disconnected.
Justin laughed to himself and rolled his eyes before keying the comm. "Don't tell me you have met... ANOTHER... love of your life?!?! What is this... like the 4th one this month?"
The tellarite's response was quick. "Hey! What Galletha an I have is true love! I know it. Its different this time! I could see it in her eyes..... her beautiful blue eyes... and light blue skin... and her fine white hair...."
Justin keyed the comm, half to respond and half to cut out the smitten dialog of his wingman. "Oh my god, dude. You're so pathetic! How many drinks did you have to buy her before she even looked at you?"
His wingman keyed his comm, but only a stuttering wordless response came out.
Justin laughed as he re-keyed his comm. "Jallik, you're so hopeless. When we get back to Denar Prime I'm telling Kathy to set you up with my neighbor, Yaleetha. Enough excuses, man. This is happening!"
"No! No!" Came the protest from the other end. "I don't like her. She's... weird!"
Justin frowned to himself. "There's nothing weird about her! She's a pretty lady and... Kathy tells me.... she's asked about you ever since the Honors Days party last year."
The tellarite's tone was obviously disgruntled. "I don't like that thing... that thing on her ear!"
Justin laughed. "She's Bajoran! All Bajorans wear ear rings like that! Chill out, dude!"
The comm crackled but it wasn't his wingman, rather the purring caitian voice of the fleet commander, Admiral Trathers, aboard the Strategy on the battle group channel. "All ships report to positions, we are going to warp in two minutes. Its a short flight, four minutes at warp 9.5. When we arrive, form into defensive pattern Sierra. Escort team A, form a defensive perimeter around the freighter. Team B will move to engage the Gorn ships. Leave them an exit to the rear of their formation. We are just going to save the freighter, not destroy the Gorn raiders fleet. No unnecessary risk today and we will all be back home safe in a few hours."
Justinn banked hard to the left, his wingman and the other two vessels in their flight following suit. They ducked under a Cerberus patrol ship then split the difference between the nacelles and the hull of a Galaxy class star ship. As they came out form under the second nacelle, the Strategy came into view, looming large and dark blue in their main view.
The four fighters ducked into their waiting hold of the ship, landing in a tight formation on the deck, clicking into the catapult system and turning to face the nose of their fighters out towards the hold's main door. The door shut quickly as the large carrier prepared to go to warp. None of the fighters powered down their engines.
Justin keyed his comm letting the Strategy know that they were in position. He switched it back to his flight channel again, without changing his professional tone. "As soon as we come out of warp, the hold doors will open and we launch. No hesitation. Bank hard left and follow the tac escorts of Team B. stay close and watch your outer wing tips. There's gonna be a lot of traffic as soon as we get out of warp. Shoot straight Vipers!"
Justin unkeyed the comm and leaned back. He felt the minor flux in inertia as the ship went to warp. Four minutes to chill. He considered comm-ing Jallik for more banter, but decided instead to pluck the small picture of Kathy off of his dash display. It was taken several months back when they were on vacation hiking the tropical mountains of Denar Prime.
Her smile could illuminate a whole room. Her softly curled golden locks of hair framed her beautiful face. In the quiet of his cockpit he could hear her laughter He couldn't help but feel like he was one of the luckiest beings in the galaxy.
Justin's battle group had been out for over four months now. After this quick interjection against a small Gorn raiding party they were heading home. He couldn't wait to see her again and hold her in his arms.
He keyed his comm again. "Hey all. Last flight for this deployment is today! Day after we get back, you're all invited over to Kathy and I's house for a back-yard BBQ. Jallik, you're totally coming and Kathy's inviting over Yaleetha. That's an order!"
From the other end he heard everything from laughs, it was most likely Lasim the Saurian, to a thanks, probably from Kallin of Garra IV, to the obvious grumble of the Tellarite. A grumble, yes, but he knew it was an 'alright, I'll be there' grumble. That made Justin smile.
Justin felt the large carrier drop out of warp. "Ok boys, remember. Just hear to scare the Gorn off. Nothing fancy."
He unkeyed the comm but even if he hadn't it wouldn't have mattered. the large doors on the outside of the carrier flew open and with the slingshot of the catapult system all four fighters were flung out into space.
From above him and below, left and right, similar groups of four fighters were being ejected from the large carrier. As planned Justin wasted no time and pulled hard on his stick yanking the nimble fighter to the left and facing towards the front of the carrier.
In an instant everything changed. There were no Gorn raider ships in front of him, but rather three large cubes. the closest one was so close that he couldn't see the top of it through his forward window of his cockpit.
There was no time to consider how or why. The immediate area was already erupting with green energy discharges. The smaller patrol escort in front of him exploded in an instant. All four of Flight Green Viper fighters, directly in front of him, were engulfed and destroyed.
Justin pulled hard to the right, avoiding the explosion. A larger star cruiser was pulling up in front of them. Red and green beams flashed back and forth. Gold Viper 3 was too far forward and up. Another green beam bounced off the saucer section of the cruiser. Several quantum torpedoes were launched from the star cruiser. Gold 3 was directly in front of the cruisers launchers. Before the Peregrine fighter could react one of the torpedoes disintegrated it.
Justin tried to jerk hard back to the left, but he was too close. A piece of wing debris from Gold 3 smacked into the front of his ship. Alarms and buzzers sounded from every direction while his HUD filled with blinking red lights.
To his right he could see the spiraling hull debris of Gold 3 smack into the port nacelle of the star cruiser. As the nacelle exploded, the large cruiser pitched to port, still being propelled by its starboard nacelle.
It was too close, everything was. He pushed down, dropping under the cruisers saucer. He had no time to key his comm, nor would it have made a difference. the saucer cut completely in front of Viper 2. Jallik's ship drove into the top of the saucer. the velocity of the small fighter pushing the explosion through to the other side as it blew out the bottom of the saucer just as Justin came underneath it.
Another green beam tore through space. For a second he saw all four fighters in an unknown peregrine flight explode 1, 2, 3, 4.
Other debris, from some of the dozens of ships became an obstacle course for the small fighter. Another piece hit Justin's wing and he started an uncontrolled turn to his left. He couldn't steer. More debris. Something soft, maybe a body, bounced off his cockpit canopy again. More alarms, and whistling. Compressed air started shooting out of the side of the vessel. The canopy cracked.
Looking forward, in his unstoppable slow turn, Justin watched the careening star cruiser, the hole from Jallik's fighter still visible on the underside of the saucer, smash into the front of the USS Strategy. Both ships seemed to rock and even in the silence of space, he thought he could hear the collision.
More green beams splashed. Far off another smaller escort erupted in an explosion.
More debris, this time he felt his right wing tear free. He was now spinning. the whirling view of the Strategy starting to erupt in explosions all down its hull. The nose of the carrier sheared off as the star cruiser continued its push through the larger vessel, its saucer acting like a cutting tool.
His out of control fighter was heading towards the disaster.
A large green bean right in front of him. Something below and behind him exploded.
Finally the Caitian carrier had suffered enough. A large focused beam of green energy hit towards the read of the vessel. for a second it was as if it had no effect, then the carrier itself, was replaced by a the giant white explosion. the expanding red and yellow debris engulfed the star cruiser, which subsequently exploded and added to the expanding shock-wave.
In the time of less than a second, but which felt like minutes or hours, Justin saw a piece of bulkhead our outer hull three or four times the size of his small fighter being pushed by the explosion directly at him.
It hit with the force of worlds colliding. A last quick beep from the HUD, a final warning. The heat of the explosion ripped through the cockpit and his suit. He tried to scream but the next instant he was in the vacuum of space. Loud. Pain. Heat. Quiet. Cold. And finally.... darkness.
A quick gasp of air, the first one she had taken since falling to the floor. the man stepped in further and he moved from being a silhouette from the outside to being lit by the interior lights. Once again, his face and outfit came into focus for her. Once again, the pain shot through her.
His weather-lined face and sad eyes were in sharp contrast to his perfectly crisp Starfleet dress uniform. She tried to put up a hand to stop him from getting any closer, but he simply took her hand in his and gently held it as he knelt down beside her.
She could see his mouth moving and in her ears she heard what she knew he had come to say. What had caused her the instant pain in her chest from the moment she saw him.
"Kathy, I am so sorry. It pains me to be the one to tell you that Justin has.... Justin has died in the line of duty in service to Starfleet and the United Federation of ....."