Into the Whirlwind (Part 2)
Posted By: Daft Shadow =PN=<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 30 January 2000, 12:20 a.m.
Noe pulls us around and we head back towards the PoA. On the way we take out 7 more fighters and 2 larger ships. I would give them classification, but that's not my job. Let the military do a little more of the work, that's what we pay them for. From the corner of the Vid feed I notice 4 ships coming our way, trying to sneak in on us no doubt. We are apparently attracting a lot of the Covenant's attention. Noe pulls up to put a derelict hull between the aliens and us, but two more have shown up dead ahead. A light goes on in my head and I set to work getting my plan in action.
Loading our single tactical nuke, the same one that doesn't seem to work on their shields, I take aim at the carcass of a ship we had passed. Two of them are closing in on us, getting ready to pass right by their dead comrade. With a smile I fire the nuke. The marine sees what I did and practically tears my head off.
"Those don't work on the alien's shields you idiot!" he yells at me across the bridge. I just smile and concentrate harder. The alien ships were just about to pass the utterly doomed ship when I hit the detonator.
"What are you doing?" he yelled louder. "You didn't ev..." the marine stopped his comment suddenly when it dawned on him what I had done. I could almost feel him smiling. When the explosion hit below the derelict ship, it still had basic shields. This kept it from being disintegrated but it didn't stop the force from throwing it. The two alien ships don't even realize what has happened. The now moving ship slides right through their shields and impacts hard enough to destroy any human ship. The smaller one blows up in a bright fireball moments after impact and the larger ship just shut down. I can see a gash that splits from bow to stern, but amazingly it does not blow up. It sure is out of the battle though.
An explosion in the rear of our ship brings us all back to our senses. My scan shows an alien beam had just impacted about 2/3 of the way back. Noe flips us over and the dorsal turrets blaze away at our closest assailant. She drives directly into the crossfire between the two ships. I am just about to ask why she has done that when we buck out of the way from an alien bolt. It continues on its course and connects with the second ship's hull. The shields didn't stop it and I chuckle lightly as the second ship's bridge is destroyed. The ship ceased all action and Noe dropped us underneath her. Using that ship as a shield, we get set to engage the two incoming. Another dead hulk idea pops into my head. Loading up some more Stinger 7's, I take aim at the alien ships. With its main power source acting as my target, I scoot my hands over the board.
Pressing the button sends the stingers arching towards the ships. The working alien ducks behind its floating friendly to escape the missiles. They impact the dead ship and drive themselves into its center before exploding. Realizing the missiles didn't hit them, the alien craft slips underneath. Since the explosion has caused movement of the hulk, the Covenant craft lowered that section of their shields so as not to get feedback. Those seconds were all that my idea needed.
Only a few moments after my missiles had exploded, the dead ship began to chain-react. The surviving Covenant ship, now with half its shields down, realized too late what was happening. They tried to bring the shields back online, but it was to no avail. The ship exploded in a brilliant flash of light, sending an enormous shock wave into its friend. The lights blinked out on the first Covenant ship and she just laid there without power, almost like they were sleeping.
The shipped lurched to the starboard side as our wonderful pilot dropped us under the beam emanating from the closer of the two ships. She drove at them, full speed, and intended to get between them so as to use their own crossfire against them. They seemed to plan for that, and I watched as they waltzed to make us the only thing being hit.
"Guys, hold on for this one," Noe exclaimed as she hit the throttle. We sped forward going full into their trap. I knew she had something planned, I just couldn't figure it out. And then the epiphany hit me. Like an arrow in flight that had just struck my brain, I realized what she was doing. Sweeping our ship to the port side, she angled up at the farther of the two. The beams being fired seemed to miss us by only inches. I realized that I had stopped firing my turrets, and then began pressing buttons furiously. Targeting all my shots on one spot, I tried to make as big a hole as possible. The marines were already doing the same and Carly let out our second SAE. I watched the hole get bigger and bigger, but it didn't look big enough. I was right.
The sides of our ship hit the shields. Just a small bit on each side, but enough to send a crap-load of energy flying through the ship. I watched turret 5 blink out, it had been destroyed when we passed the shields. The ship shook violently as we hit their outer hull. Since they had stopped firing because we were so close I was able to riddle them with bullets. I blew the hell out of the bridge and then opened fire on their engines. Their ship was dead in space. A huge explosion hit beside us on the alien ship and I tried to figure out what I had shot. When a second hit on our port bow I knew what had happened.
The second alien ship had commenced firing again, even though we were right on top of their buddy. Noe flipped us over and Carly let out the last of our SAE's. I pulled online the last of our Stinger 7's and waited. I watched in horror as a beam intersected the first SAE and it blew up in the sky. The problem with those is that they are quite slow. Firing off my last 2 stingers I gave myself manual control over the second one. I watched the beam turret on the alien craft swing around to target the second SAE and could see it fine tune the aim. I drove the missiles right toward the SAE as it flew toward the alien craft. In slow motion I saw the alien weapon begin to brighten. Moments later a dark blue beam left the cannon. I watched it slice forward, flying through space towards its intended target. Horror struck my face as the beam intersected the module and it detonated. We were done...
As I waited for the missiles to hit the alien crafts shields I began to cry; I was about to be killed. That's when the console beeped. I looked up in time to find that the missile had cleared the shields. A split second later it impacted the ship directly on its stern, just a little below the bridge. I grabbed the joystick for manual control and pulled up. It bumped over the surface, creating sparks I could see even from my view. Then it shattered the window. I watched the faces on the alien ship as they saw the missile fly into their bridge. A huge human explosive that was only meters from their face. Out of the corner of my eye I saw one of them press a button, and then I hit the detonator. My view disappeared as the missile blew the alien bridge into a slag like I had never seen. Hollering, I jumped up and swung my hands. We were alive!
And suddenly I fell. An explosion came upon our ship from behind. The deck lurched forward and up, and my feet didn't plant when I came down. I landed hard on the food preparation console at the back of the bridge.
"Holy Sith! The engines have been hit with that damn beam! We need to get the smurf outta here!" Khania yelled as she jumped up and ran toward the door. The marine in the back pulled me up and dragged me towards the shuttle bay. The whole bridge had been cleared within 7 seconds after Khania's statement. Here I was, being pulled along by a marine who had more strength than I could possibly believe. Maybe what they say is true, maybe these men really are cyborgs.
We rounded the corner and I could see the shuttle's engines already starting up. The marine dumped me into the ship and hoisted himself into it while pulling the door closed. The moment it closed we were off the deck. I could hear our ship exploding behind us, a chain reaction starting in the engines. A bout of fire blew a hole in the wall behind us as we cleared the atmosphere field. Carly sent us flying forward, away from our dying ship. I looked back through the view port, staring at the craft I had spent the last year and a half of my life on. Holes dotted the ship and I saw small explosions working their way toward the reactor in the ship's center. A brilliant explosion ripped our old hull from bow to stern. It was so bright I had to close my eyes, and when I again opened them there was nothing left of my ship but scrap metal.
The shuttle we were in had pretty much nothing in the way of defenses. It was meant for going to and from the surface of a planet, not for flying through space and fighting. With only a single forward gun, not even a turret, we could only fly and hope for life. The ship was only made to hold 3 people comfortably, not the seven we had in it.
"Where are we going?" Carly asked the back of the ship. No one was sure, and finally someone said something.
"Back to the PoA. We can't fight, let's just get outta here," Noe said to her sister, the fear showing now.
The lead marine stood up. "We must fight. I will not leave the battle," he said to our crew in the shuttle. Everyone was quieted, and the shuttle just moved forward without control.
"No, we can't fight. We only have a single cannon and that isn't even enough to take out one of those fighters. Carly's a good pilot, but she's not a god." I said to the marine. The whole crew continued in their hushed tone, no one speaking. Everyone was too afraid to make a decision.
"If we leave the battle, we are just disgracing ourselves. The human fleet needs our help, and every last man counts." He exclaimed to the group, trying to make us go fight.
"But..." Noe began, the fear plainly evident in her voice.
"He's right," Leonard whispered to the group. He had barely spoken a word since the battle had begun, but we all knew he was right. We didn't want to admit it, but he sure was right.
"Carly, take us into the battle," I ordered. Smugly, she complied. Pressing the throttle and we plowed forward. So far, the battle was not going well. At least half the human fleet had been destroyed while the covenant still had about 9/10 of their larger fleet. We were outnumbered at least 5 to 1, probably more like 7 to 1.
Coming upon the fringe of the battle our whole group was scared. I could see Carly's reflection in the cockpit window and it plainly showed the fear in her features, now much more then when on the corvette. Probably the 1 cannon fact was what had her worried. We headed straight towards a firefight between two human corvettes and an alien destroyer. A wing of four alien fighters was picking on the closest corvette, the Aryzah, and so Carly sent our ship forward, blazing a path into the fray. If I couldn't see her face in the reflection I would surely believe from her piloting that there was no fear in her eyes.
Seeping in from underneath the Aryzah we let loose upon the fighters. Having no shields themselves, the fighters were extremely vulnerable to our shots. The first fighter flew right into our sights the moment we came up and Carly riddled it with bullets. The doomed ship didn't explode, it just died and careened off into the vastness of space.
Barreling us over, Carly dropped our agile little craft onto the tail of a second fighter. His speedy little ship dropped and swerved, but he couldn't shake us. The cannon sent tracers forward which impacted the hopeless fighter. They hit dead on into the engine compartment and the fighter blew up in a brilliant fireball.
The last two fighters began fighting back a moment later. They were trying and trying to get us to fall for their tricks, but Carly wouldn't allow it. Those of us not flying the ship were being thrown around like crazy. If it weren't for the harnesses though we would be in serious pain. Though at least we were staying alive.
Back and forth we danced with these two fighter craft. Carly took pot shots as often as possible, but her bullets did nothing more then put a few slight holes into the alien ships.
After a particularly close call with an alien beam Noe pointed at our starboard side. Three more alien fighters could be seen coming this way. I could almost see the fear on the face of our marine, even though a visor hid it. Carly guided our ship about and turned away from the incoming enemy. We danced a few moments more before the new group reached us. When they came into the fight Carly's face showed utter horror.
But they still couldn't hit us. Carly flew now like I had never seen anyone do before. Our ammo ran dry and we just continued dodging in full force. Our luck couldn't hold out forever, and the explosion I heard proved it. I watched the energy from the alien bolt disperse into space and could see our slagged starboard engine. Carly was quick to shut down the port engine so we couldn't spiral out of control, but it didn't matter anymore. A single alien fighter was facing our way and I saw his distance indicator drop down, getting closer and closer; coming into his firing range. The whole crew had quieted and I saw the same marine as before praying once again.
"Carly, I love..." I began to say when I realized we were going to die; here, in the coldness of space on a cramped shuttle, in a place soon to be forgotten in the realms of history. I watched the beam begin its journey, but lost it from view when a burst of force hit our ship. She had turned the second surviving engine on with full power and we spiraled forward. As the beam raked the atoms where we should have been an explosion reached our ship. "We've been hit!" I thought to myself.
But we were still flying, still alive. I looked out the view port and saw why. A wing of human fighters from the PoA had shown up and taken out the alien craft before it could fire a second shot. The nine other fighters of Red Squad, the PoA's elite attack squadron, obliterated the other alien fighters within seconds after coming to our aid.
"You were saying?" Carly said back to me, her voice filled with both relief and giddiness. Standing up, I walked over and kissed her passionately. With everything I had, all my life and all my future centered in those lips. Stepping away, I once again heard the sounds of joy coming from everyone else in our ship and I moved back to my seat as she turned off the second engine to run a diagnostic check.
"Wonderful flying shuttle. Haven't seen anyone fly like that since Mars. Though I don't think you can fight anymore. There's room in docking bay 3 on the PoA, pass code bri7n3y. I'll tell them to expect you. Just land at the back so my squadron has room for ourselves when we get out of this," the wing leader said over the comm connection.
"Copy Red leader, and thanks," Carly replied back. She brought us back on a course with the PoA and headed full throttle with our single remaining engine. The Pillar had just taken out another destroyer and was pulling about to move forward and engage a second, but she slowed just a little to let us into the bay. We cleared the shimmering atmosphere field and the PoA took off once again to battle for human justice. Keeping the request of Red leader to heart we landed as far back as possible. The moment we touched down, no one moved; we were again on solid ground. The praying marine opened the side door and jumped down. He landed and fell on his back, enjoying the feel of hard support. Khania was right behind him and landed beside the marine, bending down and kissing his faceplate followed by kissing the floor.
I walked forward and sat down at the now open seat beside Carly. We just sat there, staring into each other's eyes. The two of us were safe on this ship, beside each other. It didn't matter what happened anymore, we had all done as much as possible to stay alive and so far it had worked. Whether the PoA survived or not was all in the hands of God, and all we could do anymore was hold the other close. Carly moved over to my lap and the two of us sat in complete silence. Holding each other with every bit of life we had left. The two of us watched our lead marine head off out of the bay and toward the PoA's lift system; he would naturally be heading for the bridge. I noticed that the second marine was not with him, and craned my neck to look out the open door. The sight, unlike most, utterly surprised me.
The marine had de-masked himself and he was kissing Khania with the fever of a man that has never before. A man who has so devoted his life that he loses contact with the outer world and all the pleasures and pain it can cause. The close calls of this battle though apparently got to him and he succumbed to the male inside all that armor. Even though a marine, he was a human still. I laughed to out loud while me and Carly turned our eyes back to each other.
The PoA bucked under a large hit and our ship bounced up on the landing skids. Leonard and our two lovebirds jumped back into the ship so that if the bay vented atmosphere they would be safe. Closing the door locked the pressure and started up our air recycling system. From through the bay entrance I could see a huge alien battleship that was closing in on the PoA and it was then that I noticed a wing of human fighters coming towards the Pillar. I hooked into the ships radar and almost fell out of my chair. Of the whole human fleet only the Pillar and those fighters remained while 2/3 of the alien fleet was still alive, and all bearing down on the PoA.
The fighters came flying through the atmosphere field and made a harsh landing. The moment they had cleared the field the Pillar of Autumn came about and I could feel her setting up to go into FTL. Moments later I felt the press of acceleration and watched the stars fly past us through the bay entrance. A bright flash erupted outside the ship as we entered FTL and the field darkened, compensating for the increase in light. I looked out at the fighters and it took a moment to register that they were not all from the Pillar. The farthest ship was a member of the elite Red Squadron, but the other two were fighters from another ship; neither was from the same squadron. Of the human fleet's most elite fighter force, only one craft remained alive. A moment later I realized also realized something else.
Of the human fleet's largest defense fleet ever assembled only one ship had survived, the one I was on, the Pillar of Autumn. I pull Carly to my face again and kiss her once more. Pulling back our faces the space between becomes a third-meter in size. I can feel her breath against my face, caressing my cheek, and could die right here in her arms. Looking deeply into her eyes I make the last revelation of that day. Those eyes are my only reason for reason for breathing, the only reason for surviving; the only reason for living. I intend to keep those eyes bright for as long as I live, and I shall keep Carly beside me until the end.