Bell brought the ship out of hyperspace about 35 clicks from the planet. She grimaced and shook her head.
“Well you already know what you did wrong. Just let the nav computer do what it has to do next time, it is not going to overshoot the target. Meanwhile we have a bit of time to get into position, so gun this thing and put us there.” Deckard chastised her like a small child.
Frankly she was getting a bit tired of him calling her Háizi. She rolled with it though; he had more knowledge about flying than she did by far. And she liked his sense of humor, it felt like her own. Dry at times, sarcasm, loaded with irony; yeah she liked it.
She maxed out the throttle and aimed it for Tiber II, she knew the fight that was coming was going to be bloody and most of her platoon would go down there and not be seen again. Maybe she would die here as well; at least she would die fighting. She could make out the grey rock spinning along in its orbit. The Naval fighter escort pulled in next to them and had words with Deckard about dropping out of hyper too early. He just called it nav error and needled them as rookies, putting them in line alongside the transport. Not a moment too soon either. The ship rocked hard to port as it took a barrage of plasma fire. Deckard called out positions and the fighter escort went to work.
Deckard’s face went hard, like flint, “Da-shiong bao-jah-shr duh la doo-tze!”
His exclamation not completed when word came over the comms, “Frigate! Plus six. Frigate on yer four, Knyghte.”
Deckard was already moving and coordinating with the transport crew though, he had two turret gunners on board with him, “Samson, Ferrel, buckle in quick and hang on for a roll.”
He dropped the In Flight Control Systems and pulled the throttle back to half speed. Then without any notice he whipped the yoke to the right and down causing the ship to spin in what felt like an uncontrolled loop, corkscrewing around so that as it came back up his forward guns were pointed right at the frigate. He popped the IFCS one time and then right back off giving him a forward view. The transports front guns blazed and the shots from the turreted mass drivers arced passed the side windows and punched holes through the frigates stern and belly.
Deckard was already twisting the yoke to spin the ship and then fired the rear thrusters at full bore with the grav system shut off. Bell felt like she would vomit, but held herself together. The ship spun like a giant drill bit plowing forward on the frigate, he ignored the enemy fighters for the time being. Less than 80 meters out, Knyghte fired the maneuvering thrusters to stabilize the ship’s spin and cranked back hard on the stick causing the ship to go belly first toward the frigate, then he hit the IFCS bringing it back online and jammed the throttle down to full taking the ship straight up from now crippled enemy command ship. As he bolted forward a Vanduul Scythe crossed his path and without a lock he took it down before any of his escort fighters could get a lock on. He arced the ship back over and did a full spin to bring him back around one-hundred and eighty degrees, lining him up with yet another fighter. This time however the lock on toned and he let loose an A&R Stryker missile which shredded the Scythes’ hull and left it drifting.
He maneuvered the dropship defensively at that point letting his escort clean up the remaining mess. Bell sat in a near fetal position in her chair, knees pulled up to her chest and hands gripping the arms of the chair so tightly her knuckles were white and her fingernails bled. She was pale white, and sat breathing through her mouth.
Deckard reflected on his first fight like that, he looked the same. Two minutes later he had thrown up.
“Bell, go check on the troops, find out how many weren’t buckled in so we can file a report on how many we lost prior to landfall.” Knyghte went back to resetting the ships course and putting them back on track.
Bell sat for a moment looking at the Commander, as calm as if he had just finished a light nap and a cold beer. She forced herself up and felt like she would lose her lunch right then. She stumbled her way out of the cockpit and into the approach corridor, her stomach turning like an unbalanced washing machine.
Bell wandered back to the carrier hold to check on the troops. Weak kneed, she stumbled more than once as she clung tightly to the railing. Upon opening the bay door she was immediately hit with the smell of vomit, feces and urine. She backed out to try and regain her composure and managed to keep her last meal in check. She stepped in and was greeted with shouts of anger and frustration.
Second Lieutenant Dominic LeSele levered himself out of his seat and pushed his way toward her as much with his arms as his legs which looked as weak as hers felt. “What is this, Warrant Officer? What did you do?”
Suddenly Bell’s legs felt as strong as a horses and she stood up straight and gritted her teeth together. Her bearing took on a far different aspect than any in that room had witnessed prior.
“Perhaps instead of throwing forth accusations, you should find out what occurred first, Lieutenant.” Bell laced his title with as much contempt as she could muster; it dripped with it, oozed with venom.
“You will watch your tone with me, Warrant Officer!” He shouted, trying to make it appear he was in charge. “You will tell me what happened on that bridge or so help me I will have you court martialed for this disaster!”
“Well Lieutenant”, She narrowed her eyes and raised her voice to be heard over the moaning and complaining in the hold, “We were attacked by a Vanduul raiding party about 30 clicks out from the planet, not just a handful of them either. No, we were attacked by a large frigate and a half a dozen fighters. The commander, he flipped this ship in ways I have never heard of being done and shot down two fighters and did a sizable bit of damage to the frigate as well, but to do it he had to drop the grav sytem and IFCS. And frankly, every one of you bruisers and thugs should be writing thank you letters to the pilots of the UEEN right now for the fighter support that kept you all alive. Bunch of Pansy ingrates.”
The hold went silent. Bell stood her ground and stared straight into the Lieutenants face waiting for a reprimand that he was likely stupid enough to try. Instead he just stood there with his jaw hanging open and eyes darting back and forth.
“Thank you for that report, Warrant Officer. Dismissed.” He saluted her, another error on his part. She saluted him back and waited for him to put his hand down first so as to try and save him the difficulties of his own incompetence. She turned on her heel and headed back out into the hall, closing the door behind her, then vomited up her lunch.