Posted By: Sterfrye36<Sterfrye36@yahoo.com>
Date: 31 May 2003, 10:58 PM
"Break port Hornet leader!" came a yell across Major Marcus Easley's com. He yanked his new Longsword S interceptor onto its left side and pulled back on the stick, narrowly avoiding a blast of plasma from the Covenant battle cruiser Astelinn. It had jumped in system barely 10 minutes ago, the first Covenant craft to threaten Earth.
He, his squadron and the Human heavy cruiser, Maverick, one of the last seventeen of such craft, were charged with taking it down.
Not the easiest task.
He quickly swung his Longsword back into position behind one of the MAC rounds that was fired from the Maverick. He was gunning for the huge plasma torpedo launching line along the Astelinn's port side. The MAC round smashed through the Covenant ships' shield and pulverized her prow. At less than 500 meters, he opened up.
Marcus was the leader of Hornet Squadron, a fighter group from 301st fighter wing. It was one of the few squadrons to have fought at Reach. He remembered the battle all to well.
Marcus watched as his plasma bolts danced across the ship's plasma torpedo launching line, cutting it through about a half foot and disabling it entirely. Then, to add insult to injury, he let fly two HE Anvil III missiles.
"Stay close Jordan," he said, putting his ship through its paces. He screamed low over the ship's hull with Hornet two tucked in tight behind him. Together, they flew through the veritable forest of pulse laser turrets, and arced back towards the Maverick to make another pass.
There was no need.
The Maverick's hastily fitted four Triple Mac guns (Magnetic Accelerator Cannon) fired in tandem. Their twelve total rounds smashed through what was left of the Astelinn's shields and gutted her from fore to aft, sending her into a wild spin on a vector out of the system.
No Covenant drop ships had been seen launching out of her bays...fortunately.
"You know," came a female voice on Marcus's com. "That would have been soooo much easier had the Big MACs been up."
Marcus rolled his eyes.
"Refrain from non-tactical comments on this channel Three."
After receiving their orders to land, Marcus glided toward Maverick's starboard aft bay. As he passed along the length of the Maverick, he couldn't help but fall in awe of the ship's size and raw power.
Second only to The Leviathan in pure size, it was extremely deadly. One of the fastest ships in the fleet despite its size, the Maverick had the very latest in nuclear reactor technology to power her. Two small fusion reactors came on line to supercharge the main one. With a normal reactor, that would have almost immediately resulted in a meltdown. This reactor however, used a slurry of laser-induced ions chilled to near absolute zero to cool the system. In effect, the more juice Captain Reeves put into the thing, the more slurry they'd have to cool it, making it possible for the reactor's overlapping magnetic fields to do their jobs, and spike the power to 310% momentarily.
Offensively, it could give an entire covenant armada a headache. Located on the top, starboard, port and below of her hull were the new and ridiculously powerful Triple MAC cannons that had been fitted to almost every ship left in the UNSC fleet. Those babies fired a special MAC round that had a special ferrous core and carbide tungsten shell. They splintered on impact, taxing a Covenant's ship's shields to the breaking point. As if that weren't enough, special magnetic field recyclers were able to recapture the energy field. Coupled with special booster capacitors, they could fire three successive rounds with one charge (As opposed to the normal one charge-one round from a normal MAC). For medium to long-range attack, there were the Archer missile pods. They were located on the upper aft of the ship, numbering twenty pods across and twenty down. Each pod held two dozen missiles. That totaled 9,600 missiles. For some extra punch, the Maverick carried four SHIVA and two HAVOK tactical nuclear missiles. Finally, the Maverick had eighty sixty-millimeter cannons arrayed strategically to handle point defense against enemy fighters.
It was a flying nuclear superpower.
Carefully, he guided his Longsword onto its landing zone in the brightly lit fore portside bay.
After setting down, he unbuckled himself, powered down his ship, put his helmet on the ready hook, popped the hatch and gave his interceptor the once-over.
He liked what he saw.
The Longsword S was the newest model of fighter, nearly solid titanium A having come fresh out of the factory with all of the new perks. The most exciting was the fact that this model had four plasma cannons. All of the previous Longswords had had eight 50-millimeter shell cannons. For all practical purposes, taking out an enemy Seraph fighter with those would be like trying to take out the Maverick with a spit wad. Useless, and a waste of time. With these four plasma cannons, he could thunder easily through a Seraph's shield. Now if only the Longsword had one of those...Marcus shook his head. It's not the cards you're dealt, but how you play them, he thought to himself, ridding his mind of that beautiful shield.
Another perk were the powerful new HE Anvil III missiles. As opposed to the now practically ancient HE Anvil II missiles that had been in service for fifteen years, these babies were lighter, more maneuverable and twice as deadly. The Longsword S carried forty such missiles, mounted internally with 20 on either side of the cockpit, just beyond the plasma cannons.
Marcus smiled in spite of himself; whatever Covvie ship came into the system would get a nasty little surprise...
"Nice one Marcus!" came a yell from across the bay. Marcus smacked his head into the bottom of his Longsword and grunted with pain.
"Do you mind Jordan, not startling me so that I don't end up with a flat skull?" Jacob snarled.
"Aw, you're no fun!" Jordan wined.
Turning around, Marcus faced his wingman.
A full foot shorter than he was, Jordan had olive skin and unruly black hair that would have, under normal circumstances, gotten him court marshaled. It was that wild. He also had a happy-go-lucky scatterbrained sense of humor, and an easygoing attitude that Jacob could only wonder how he maintained, in view of the impending invasion.
Looking around, Marcus spotted the other pilots of Hornet Squadron emerging from their Longswords. To his left, he spotted the two female wing mates of the squadron, Sarah and Zia.
Sarah had a somewhat strong belief in military protocol, and wore her dark hair in a ponytail. Her dark eyes glittered with a spark that Jacob had seen in very few pilots. Her father was Captain Godfrey, the captain of the UNSC Destroyer, Minotaur, which was obliterated by the newest type of Covenant ship at Reach: a Snipe. To make matters worse, Hornet Squadron had been flying relatively close to it.
Marcus frowned; he felt sorry for her. For a moment, he felt a pang of guilt. I've been fortunate; I haven't lost a loved one during this entire war...
But then he glanced at Zia. With her dark blue eyes and long blonde hair, she looked almost like a movie actress. Beautiful, with a lovely personality...and yet so deadly. Her total kills so far were in the mid-twenties. Jacob made a mental note to never tick her off in a dogfight.
Then he spotted the last members of Hornet Squadron, Hunter and Chase. Hunter wore his sandy-blonde hair in a flattop, and his green eyes showed determination. His face had graced about a million recruiting posters.
Chase, Hunter's wingman, had bleach-blonde hair that looked as though a SHIVA had hit it. With Robin-egg blue eyes, he seemed like a heartthrob to many girls...
A wave of jealousy hit Marcus.
"So, who's up for some coffee?" Zia asked, her hair sashaying from side to side as she walked towards the door.
She hadn't even bothered to change out of her flight suit.
A chorus of approval came up from the pilots of Hornet Squadron.
Hornet Squadron trekked the short distance to the nearest mess hall and went through the line. Mocha Lattes all around.
"What worries me," said Chase, "is that this was a small ship. Nothing big, nothing scary. It has me worried."
"They're probing us, seeing just how much fight we have," Hunter concluded.
"Relax, the Big MACs'll be up in a few days." Zia assured everybody.
"Mmmmm. I'm not so sure we can rely on those..."
"Meaning Sarah?" Marcus asked.
"Well, they did make a difference at Reach, albeit a small one once everything was said and done. But still, the fact that the Covenant was able to get groundside and wipe out the generators powering them. Besides, even though both technologies have been tested in combat, I don't think they'll work together."
Marcus leaned back in the booth and looked out the view port trying to imagine just what it would be like having a Triple MAC that fired heavy rounds and reloaded every five seconds. He caught his own reflection. His pale green eyes sparkled and danced, and his bleach-blond hair dropped to his mid-forehead.
Then he saw what was outside the view port.
What he saw made his jaw drop.