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Jericho VII - Drakkar Flight
Posted By: Kellen Squire<squire@coronafilm.biz>
Date: 5 January 2002, 7:42 am

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"Drakkar flight, check." The calls came in quick sucession.




Drakkar flight, consisting of four Viper-class fighters of the 183rd Fighter Wing, UNSC Fighter Command, flew through the dark. Behind them, the Class G sun known as Jericho to the humans who had colonized one of the planets in the system, shone dimly. They were at least five AUs out from Jericho.

*And a damnned long way from home,* thought Lieutenant Commander Vyascheslav Kapitsa, the leader of Drakkar flight. He craned his neck and turned himself as well as he could in his cramped cockpit, trying to find the small dot that represented Sol. Not a chance- Sol was too far away to see from Jericho, even if he knew right where to look.

The comm system in Kapitsa's helmet suddenly flipped on.

"Ungh... ooh, yeah. Mmmmm." Kapitsa's eyebrow rose.

"What the hell are you doing over there, Three?"

"Sounds like he's keeping himself entertained, One." Kapitsa chuckled to himself.

"Mmm, yeah, you better believe it, Two."

"Flores!" Kapitsa barked over the comm, his English still accented in Belorussian, "Stop jerking off and pay attention to your flying, or when we get back to base, I will get out my ka-bar knife and-"

"OKAY, OKAY! Jes™cr'sto, Commander, I didn't think you were such a fucking Puritan."

"Come on, Flores, you know I don't care what you do in your free time, but, seriously. The Viper's control panels were made to survive vacuum, not multiple layers of... sticky bodily fluid." The comm line suddenly filled with laughter. Kapitsa found himself joining in. He realized they were laughing more at his inability to find a proper slang term than the joke itself, of course, but that was fine. He could take his imperfect English skills in good humor.

"Alright, now that we have all had a good laugh, I want a weapons check. Count it off."

"Copy that, One. Drakkar Two, four raser, four heat, torp, and gun."

"Drakkar Three, four raser, four heat, torp, and gun."

"Drakkar Four, four raser, four heat, torp, and gun." Kapitsa nodded, although he'd known what the answer would be before he'd asked it. Each of his pilots had four raser- a tracking system that used both radio signals and laser tracking- anti-fighter missiles, four heat-seeking anti-fighter missiles, and their 400-megajoule laser cannons. Each Viper also carried a single anti-ship torpedo- one was powerful enough to knock the shields off of anything smaller than a battleship, and any more would seriously ruin your day. While the Viper could be loaded down with a lot more ordinance, SolCore didn't have much to spare- especially for a patrol that was hundreds of light years from the front lines.

"You think that the Covs will be here soon?" a shaky voice asked over the comm. Kapitsa automatically tounged his implant to see who the call had come from, but he shouldn't have wasted his time. Drakkar Four, also known as Sublieutenant Rico, was the newest pilot in the 183rd Fighter Wing. He was from Oceania, back on Earth. Manilla. He spoke fluent Tagalog, but also spoke fluent English without a trace of an accent. But he was gree as hell- the academy had graduated him and his class less than a week ago. He didn't speak well for SolCore's situation that FNGs were sent out on combat patrols immediately out from the Academy on Luna.

Kapitsa considered not dignifying that question with an answer, but decided against that. "I do not know, Four. They could be on their way right now. You never know. It does not matter. If they come, we will defeat them. We have no other choice."

Silence filled the comm system for a short while. But FNGs were not to be deterred.

"You've fought the Covs before. Right, Commander?"

"Yes. I have."

"What's it like?" Kapitsa rolled his eyes, then turned to look over his right shoulder. Hanging at the back of the finger four formation was Drakkar Four. At this distance, he couldn't see Four's face, and Four couldn't see his, but Kapitsa frowned all the same.

"You will find out soon enough. Our pilots are at least as skilled as theirs. While our fighters have more shielding than their fighters do, their fighters are more manueverable. And there are many, many more of them. If you kill six of their fighters before they kill you, the Covenant still wins. Easily. And every one of their capital ships carries at least a squadron. If you eject within range of their tractor beams, and they capture you alive, you will be tortured, and the Covs will show you no mercy. Does that help any, Four?"

Kapitsa didn't get an answer, which pleased him in some hideously cynical way.

"Christ, sir," Flores called over the private comm line to Kapitsa, "you're gonna give the verder'to a heart attack. Calm down."

"He needs to learn sometime, Two."

"You know, sir, if I didn't know better, I'd say you were treating Rico there like he was trying to replace Loor."

Images flashed in Kapitsa's mind, images of planet leave on Reach's shimmering beaches, of a brilliant flashing smile attached to an incredibly beautfiul, dark-skinned face and an amazing body, of the taste of fine red wine, of-

"I did not ask for commentary from you, Lieutenant, and I would appreciate it if you would be keeping to yourself!" Kapitsa's imperfect English got worse when he got angry, his Belorussian accent getting heavier by the syllable.

"Hey, amigo, I didn't mean anything bad. I know how you felt for her. Just remember what I said, vale?"


The four Vipers continued flying through the vaccum. Their engines had been turned off for quite some time, saving their fuel and letting Sir Issac Newton do the flying until they had to go back to base. Kapitsa put the images out of his mind as best he could. It was hard. Loor had been his soulmate, he'd felt, before she'd been incinerated by plasma fire during the Battle of Quadrant 483-9A.

They'd been making a strafing run on a Covenant cruiser. The Covenant cruiser was firing a plasma volley at the SolCore capital ships involved in the engagement. She didn't even have time to feel anything- not with a plasma ball intended for a SolCore destroyer. And though they'd destroyed that small Covenant task force, they still had been forced to retreat. It hadn't made a difference. Loor's death had been for nothing.

And for what? Humanity was running out of space. Before long, the Covenant would be at Jericho VII, then- what next? Reach? Earth?

Kapitsa's implant chimed at him, which startled him completely. It hadn't come from the Drakkar flight comm circuit. It had come from... from the EWCACs- the Early Warning and Command And Control craft- that was orbiting the coreward edge of the Jericho system.

"EWCACs, this is Drakkar One. I read you five-by-five. What can I help you with?" A few moments passed. Long-range communication wasn't limited by the speed of light anymore, but they weren't instantaneous.

"Drakkar One, this is EWCACs. Relaying a message from Jerico Defense Command. We've been picking up something... strange. We're not sure what to make of it. We've got some ripples or richochets in subspace heading in-system, so it's either some sort of spacial anomaly, or..."

The EWCACs controller didn't finish. Kapitsa understood what the only other choice would be.

"In any case," the EWCAC controller continued, "you're to go to ThreatCon Alpha and head back to the Gift of Virtue and re-arm. Second Fleet's gonna be sending a task force in near you, too, so you might want to be car-"

Contact with the EWCACs was suddenly cut off. Kapitsa's Viper beeped at him. He hadn't just lost the voice link with the EWCACs controller, he'd lost the data link with the EWCACs completely. It provided, for every ship hooked into it's network, a fully holographic picture of a cubic lightday of space. Kapitsa was now limited by the sensors in his Viper alone.

Losing the link with the EWCACs wasn't good. Kapitsa decided not to screw with himself by trying to be optimistic.

The Covs had arrived. Somehow, they'd tracked a SolCore ship back to the Jericho system. They were going to kill everyone on Jericho VII, if they got the chance, and every single member of the SolCore military sent to protect it.

"Drakkar Flight, ThreatCon Alpha is now active! Spread it out! Go! Now!" Instantly, four sets of reaction engines flared to life as Drakkar flight split up to prevent a near-miss from an anti-matter charge or a spearhead of Cov fighters from taking them out all at once.

(MUSIC- Green Day- Hitchin' A Ride- Nimrod, 1997)

Kapitsa flipped his sensor suite on. It took a few moments to power up. Before it had finished, massive holes were suddenly ripped in the space/time continuim. Kapitsa's Viper was rocked by turbulence, caused by the energy that had suddenly been sent coursing through the space around him.

Massive Covenant capital ships erupted into normal space around him. Kapitsa took a quick count- four-five-six destroyers, a light cruiser- no, two light cruisers, at least one heavy cruiser, picket ships- more than he could count- another destroyer, a light carrier- and more kept coming. All the Covenant capital ships began spewing fighters out as fast as they could.

"BLIAD!" Kapitsa swore in Russian. "Oh, SHIT!" He flipped his Viper over onto it's back and made an arc towards the Covenant fighters- if the Cov cap ships tried to engage him, then at least they'd be more likely to hit their own fighters than him. He quickly switched his comm station to the General Broadcast- Emergency channel, and toggled it on.

"Jericho Defense Command, this is Drakkar Flight! We've been jumped by an entire Covenant task force! Multiple capital ships, including destroyers, cruisers, carriers, picket ships, and many, MANY fighters! Request IMMEDIATE backup!"

As Kapitsa barked his report to the comm system, he tounged the implant stuck in the roof of his mouth, and the other pilots of Drakkar flight were given orders to stick with their wingmen and fire at will. He also armed all of the Viper's eight missiles.

A scant millisecond after his broadcast to Jericho Defense Command, the Viper shook from a near-miss. The Cov cap ships were going to do their damndest to knock him down, and they had plenty of people to waste to try and get to him. Obviously, otherwise they wouldn't have committed such a large task force for taking down four SolCore snubfighters. And there was no doubt that this task force had been sent specifically for Drakkar Flight. Nothing else was in in area- nothing at all. Kapitsa shuddered to think what the other SolCore units in the system were facing right now...

Standard doctrine said you fell back and regrouped when faced with an attack like this. While that was definately the smart (and sane) thing to do, Drakkar flight could take out a lot of the Cov fighters in this task force before they were killed themselves, which would delay this task force from reinforcing whichever hugeass fleet had decided to pick a fight with Seventh Fleet.

A tone growled in the back of Kapitsa's ears. His missiles had all picked and locked onto targets. Kapitsa pickeled the missiles quickly, and eight streaks of light erupted from his craft. He immediately jinxed, curving away from a cloud of Covenant fighters that had formed and were heading in his direction. His Viper rocked again- the flak was ranging him in. There'd be a cloud of it before long.

Drakkar Two- Flores- had let his missiles fly no more than a second after Kapitsa had. All sixteen were screaming for their targets. Kapitsa jixed randomly, waiting patiently...

An airy chime sounded in his ears. The Viper's computer reported a second later- all eight of his missiles had hit targets. Six were a memory, and the other two were wounded- still heading for him. Flores' missiles had hit and killed seven of their targets. His last missile must have missed its target.

"Drakkar Two, break and engage, now!" Kapitsa flipped his Viper on it's side and pulled the stick into his stomach. His gel-filled G-suit began to compensate for the tremendous gee-forces that he had forced his Viper into. Thanks to technology these days, SolCore pilots could handle turns of over 100 gees with their g-suits- something essential for dogfighting in space.

Flores complimented his manever, following Kapitsa on his wing. They soon found themselves heading straight for Covenant fighters- almost fifty of them. Flak- represented by flashes of light, and the occasional turbulence- was all around them. One Covenant fighter took a flak round and blew up spectacularly.

"Drakkar Two," Kapitsa barked, "shields up! Chicken run!" Kapitsa flipped a switch on his Viper's control panel. The fighter's shields shimmered into existence.

He turned his attention to the reading on his helmet-mounted, holographic heads-up display. The Cov fighters were almost in range... his finger grazed the trigger... flak erupted around him... a cheer, somewhere- on the flight comm circuit?...

He had the range.

Kapitsa's finger jerked backwards. Hard. Covenant fighters began to take damage and explode. The Viper's 400-megajoule laser began sending pulsed, invisible, and deadly rays of energy towards the Covenant fighters. Flores' Viper opened up, too.

Kapitsa held his finger down and counted to himself. *One. Two. Three.* After three seconds, it was time to let go of the trigger- so as to prevent his laser cannon from turning to slag- and jinx as hard as he could. But he didn't. Kapitsa kept his finger on the trigger, and shoved his throttle forward, to the stops.

*Four. Five.* His shields began to flicker as Cov fighters got in a few lucky ranging shots.

*Six. Seven.* The Cov fighters were getting closer... too much closer, and his shields would be overwhelmed, and then-

"NOW!" Kapitsa screamed, throwing his fighter into a lateral spin while he pulled the stick as far back as he could. Flores joined him, knowing full well what was going to happen.

If Kapitsa hadn't practiced this maneuver many, many times before, the combination of quickly spinning around and the intense gee-forces would have made him pass out, cold. As it was, he could barely keep from doing just that. Laser and plasma shots from the Cov fighters were still nicking at his shields, but he'd-

wa-BAM! Kapitsa's shields shimmered and almost died. A massive surge of gamma-wave radiation had almost cooked him right there and then. Kapitsa straightened his Viper out and checked his sensors. Nearly all of the fighter wave that had been heading for Kapitsa and Flores were dead or hurt.

The Cov heavy cruiser must have lobbed a large anti-matter charge in his direction.

For some reason, that pissed Kapitsa off. Very badly. For some reason, it seemed like an insult. The Covs didn't want to play fair. It was beyond any common sense, of course- but Lieutenant Commander Vyascheslav Kapitsa was beyond common sense right now.

"Drakkar Two, Covenant Heavy Cruiser. Now."

"Roger that." Kapitsa and Flores accelerated towards the Covenant heavy cruiser that had launched the anti-matter charge that had nearly turned them into atoms. Instead, it had added almost fourty more fighters to the thirteen the pair had already destroyed.

The flak erupting around them increased steadily in intensity, until it was almost insane. Kapitsa's shields were at less than 10% effectiveness. The Covenant ships were launching more fighters. Drakkar Three and Four were engaged in heavy dogfighting. The remaining fighters from the first wave Kapitsa and Flores had devestated were still heading towards them, shooting for all they were worth. The signal from Drakkar Three winked out.

But all Kapitsa saw was the heavy cruiser.

And he pickeled the one anti-ship torpedo he carried, which promptly headed for the Covenant cruiser at high speed. Before Flores could do the same, a searing-white burst of light erupted from under his Viper's fuselage, and Flores was no more.

Kapitsa grimaced, more from the loop he had just entered than in remorse. Remorse was a feeling, one that he didn't need right now. He could feel remorse later. Right now, he needed to-

Kapitsa's Viper shook hard. Massive holes were being torn in subspace.

*No! Not again! They're being reinforced!* As if to compound matters, the Covenant heavy cruiser that Kapitsa had targeted was on fire in multiple places, it's shields blown to hell and gon...


Kapitsa suddenly checked his sensors. A group of capital ships had just emerged from hyperspace in the middle of the battle...

All were blasting SolCore IFF transponders. The Covenant capital ships around him began to take multiple hits, and SolCore fighters poured out of their docking bays. This was the Second Fleet task force that he'd been told about.

"Yes!" Kapitsa screamed, altering his Viper's turn to head for the nearest group of SolCore fighters.

The last thought through the mind of Lieutenant Commander Vyascheslav Kapitsa, Flight Officer of Sh'quo Squadron, 183rd UNSC Fighter Wing, was one of triumph. And then, his world became heat- searing, infinite heat, and a blinding light.

And then, silence.

A deep, velvet silence.