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Fiery Skies

Eldritch
classifications: Science-Fiction / Action

I did Narain's little nits... I think this is flowing very well.

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“Scramble, scramble!” A voice boomed over the communicator.” Scramble to all available aircraft, a flight of enemy bombers and escorts are approaching the base.”

“Holy crap!” Lieutenant Axeric screamed out as he fell off his bed, startled by the desperate voice repeating orders over the communicators. He rose quickly, looking at the other pilots, already suiting up.

“Shit! Not another bombing. Don’t they get tired of this?!” he muttered to himself, picking up his black flight suit. He put on the suit and boots, grabbed his helmet, and followed the rest of the pilots. They ran to the hangar, a desperate race to reach their fighters before the enemy bombers could do their job. The Lieutenant found his own Phoenix and jumped inside. He grabbed the joystick, put on his oxygen mask and looked at his control, united into a single holo-panel floating in front of him. His engines awoke with a roar and he was ready to go. “At least they got refueled last night!” the thought to himself, giving a sigh of relief. With a low hum, the weapons systems went online, and he taxied his aircraft to the runway. He pushed the throttle and seconds later his plane was off and gaining altitude steadily.

“Claymore Squadron, on my wing! This is Lt. Axeric.” he called out through his radio, as three other airplanes approached his, flying in a tight formation.

Seconds later, he sighted the flight of enemy planes. As they approached, he looked at the enemy, ever closer to the base. “Unescorted Cockatrice bombers? Can’t be... The escorts have to be around... But where?” He thought to himself, and raised the angle of his climb. The bombers were very close now, close enough to achieve lock on with the Phoenix’s targeting computer. He aimed carefully at the lead bomber, and an approving beep signaled the target acquisition. With a low buzz, and then a loud crack, he fired the particle projection missiles. A large explosion shook the skies around him, as the bomber’s payload burst inside it. His moment of victory was interrupted by a blast of reddish energy above his fighter.

“What was that?!” He said to himself, rolling wildly to the left.

Easy answer to a stupid question, a flight of Serpent fighters dove from above the clouds, firing wildly. He took a quick glance back. No pilot in his squadron was hurt. He then pushed the joystick forward, his plane falling to a steep dive, quite alike to that of a hawk diving for its prey. He stopped minding the escorts for a second and aimed for a second bomber. He powered up the pulse lasers, and fired a quick burst at the bomber in his sights. Small flashes of blue light fired from the pulse lasers in the plane’s wings, all impacting the bomber. The left wing was torn off, and the flaming wreck fell to the earth, expelling shards of metal from it’s fuselage as he saw one, two, three, four parachutes expand in the skies.

He watched his squadron down two more bombers. Suddenly, another group of Serpents dove from the clouds. A Serpent fighter positioned itself behind one of his wingmen.

“Roll right, Serpent on your tail!” he screamed through the comm.

He saw his wingman roll right, and the blast from the enemy’s pulse lasers missed his wingman by a hair’s width. He then had a clear shot at the enemy serpent, firing a short blast. The Serpent’s tail went up in flames, and the engine exploded. He didn’t see the cockpit open or a parachute. He then scanned the skies around him. Another fighter was coming at him, head on. He aimed, and quickly fired a blast from his pulse lasers, then rolling desperately to his right. He then saw the enemy fighter explode a few feet away, a strangely beautiful spectacle,a mersmerising flash of light. Pieces of metal flew all around, which he evaded as best he could. He looked above him, watching powerlessly as two Phoenix fighters were downed by two Serpents. He dove, falling below the enemy bombers.

He aligned himself below one bomber and started climbing towards it, slowly, a cat stalking its prey. He locked into the enemy bomber, and fired a pair of particle projection missiles. The missiles hit the aircraft’s tail, and it fell into an uncontrolled dive. The crew ejected, with four small blasts from inside the cabin, and the bomber fell like a dying bird into the thick forests of northern Lekania. He then rolled away from the defensive fire of the bombers, and turned away. With every minute, the enemy numbers decreased. They were fighting a losing battle.

They knew they couldn’t take anymore. The massacre stopped. The enemy bombers retreated.

He let out a short sight of relief, flying a victory loop over the airfield. He felt the g forces as he tightened the loop, a nice show for the ground crew. He felt part of his plane, a component fitting perfectly into the systems, as if he had merged with his perfect fighting machine, woven into the very fibers of the aircraft.

Suddenly, he received a new message on the emergency band.

“Do not land! I repeat, do not land! A second flight of bombers and escorts is approaching from the north. All units engage immediately!”

He gunned his engine and flew north, ready to meet the attackers. He checked his weapons systems.

“Only four PPM’s, crap... Pulses are all online...” he muttered and continued to check the other weapons. He then sighted the enemy. This swarm of enemy fighters was larger than the previous one.

“Shaddix, on my wing.” He called to his wingman.

Shaddix did as ordered, flying in closer to Axeric.

-Shaddix? Check if you still have a shrapnel missile in your payload?

-Yea, still there!

-Well I guess it’s time to try them.

Both missile hatches opened and the projectiles were fired, leaving a trail of grey smoke behind them. They reached the middle of the advancing formation, exploding with perfect timing into a gargantuan ball of flames and metal. Thousands of pieces of shrapnel flew everywhere, penetrating deep into the enemy aircraft. Axeric and Shaddix watched from afar as the crippled enemy shook in the air, barely regaining their balance from the blast.

-Seems it worked! I’m going in!

-Right behind you Axeric!

The planes gained altitude, and flew towards the enemy formation. The enemy was only a few hundred yards away, and soon a barrage of defensive fire sprouted from the bombers. Axeric and Shaddix narrowly escaped, flying in a way that is as mad as it is beautiful, a dance even. They turned, twisted, dove and climbed. They moved with perfection on their wings.

Their flight, no longer a dance, but a deadly lunge for their prey, got them above and behind the bombers. They dove again in a firing pass, scattering the enemy bombers. The once determined bombers were now engaged in a battle where a wrong turn could cost their lives. And it did. The bombers were falling, birds falling to the shotguns of the Phoenix hunters.

Boom. A ball of fire engulfed the Phoenix a few feet away, and it crashed to the ground, a sphere of flames. It seemed unreal, to see it happen so close.

He had no time to question how that happened. A pack of Mandrake heavy fighters dove from above cloud cover, firing their laser cannons in every direction. Phoenix fighters were unable to battle this menace, diving and firing. The nimble Phoenixes, once engaged, could not turn their attention to the strike fighters cutting through their forces.

Axeric called into the long-range emergency commband:

-Command, this is Lieutenant Axeric. We need Salamander fighters for backup now. We have encountered several Mandrake fighters, and are forces are dwindling

-Roger that. Request granted, over and out.

A short crack of static, and there was silence over the comm.

He turned left and set his sights on a Mandrake, absorbed in chasing another Phoenix. He saw the thick beams of the enemy lasers projected from its wing, as the Phoenix banked right, the lasers barely scraping the paint. Bleep. He adjusted his targeting computer, locking on to the Mandrake. Twin bolts, whips of powerful blue energy cracked the enemy’s fuselage, and it dropped like a stone hurtling towards the ground. He saw the parachute of the ejected pilot and turned his attention elsewhere.

He caught a glimpse of a Mandrake dropping from above, slowly accommodating on his tail. Too obvious for an experienced pilot, he dove away from the attacker, who promptly followed. He flipped his fighter, taking a glimpse of the terrain under and ahead. A small clearing, forest and a small mountain formation. Excellent. He pushed his throttle to top speed and flew a few feet above the treetops. Closer... A mountain was coming up straight ahead of him. Closer, closer... He could feel his enemy near him, the nature around him, everything. Then, flipping his fighter, he banked back, escaping the mountain with an Immelman maneuver. In a blast of fire, the enemy fighter crashed into the mountainside, too heavy to copy the nimble Phoenix’s move.

He flew back above cloud cover, searching for a next target. He looked, helpless, as a pair of Phoenix’s were shot down from the sky.

“HQ, we can’t hold much longer. Where are the Salamanders?” screamed Axeric through the comm.

“Right here!” Answered a male voice from the other side. ”Look above you. This is Captain Blake , First Salamander Squadron.”

Axeric did as ordered, watching the pack of friendly heavies over fly his plane.

It was quick. Soon, the Mandrakes were dropping, one by one.

***

Axeric could see the strip in front of him. At least Claymore Squadron was complete. Another hard fought battle. The Coalition knew it wasn’t welcome in the now blue skies of Lekania, and he’d make sure they didn’t forget.

Guess what?

cruise (September 26th, 2002, 2:25 pm)

"picking up his black flight suit. He put on the suit and boots, picked up the helmet" - repetition of 'pick'.

"Soon later, he sighted the flight" - still confused? :P

----

/Much/ better. You've tidied up a few other things too...it reads much nicer. The air battles are really well described, and I have a awesome film of the action playing in my head as I read this :P

Yea, better yet

Narainsbrain (October 7th, 2002, 11:26 am)

The little nips and tucks that make the difference... it's getting better with each revision. And I saw the movie too =)

Um, some more nits?

"to reach their fighters before the enemy bombers" '...arrived'.

"his engines were ignited" - passive voice. Not that it's /wrong/, but active voice usually has more 'punch' to it. 'his engines roared to life', eh?

"Obvious answer, a pack of Mandrake heavy fighters dove" - too much similarity to "Easy answer to a stupid question" way back near the beginning. The reader doesn't forget a distinctive phrase like that ;) If you drop "Obvious answer," it reads pretty well without it.

Good stuff, though. Always nice to see another story evolve to near-perfection 'round here. Hey, is TsfE the Wire Mill of sci-fi stories? =D

rofl

cruise (October 10th, 2002, 1:47 pm)

Heh...

rofl

Eldritch (October 10th, 2002, 10:02 pm)

anyway, is this ripe yet ;)?

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