Flightdeck TCS Centurion. Space Dock. Sol System, Sol Sector. 2668.346

Paul grinned as he looked up at his fighter, the first to be truly his, as his name was on the sides below the cockpit. "Lt. Jason Twain" he mouthed, wanting to taste the words again. He liked the "Arrow". She was fast, maneuverable and packed a punch for her size. Her missile armament was impressive in Jason's opinion. He was a good shot, but liked to get missiles off before engaging an opponent with his guns, he was good a predicting what way they would go to avoid his missiles.

'Like her' Dawson asked from behind him. She had to speak loudly due to technicians working at fighters, and some quick test of the launch catapults.

'Love her' he responded reaching upwards to slide his hands across the metallic surface.

Dawson just shook her head.

Jasmine reappeared from her own fighter. 'Our names are on them' she said grinning.

'Yep, I saw that' Jason said. He still looked up longingly at her.

'Forget it, Lt' Dawson said' We'll be jumping shortly and head back to the frontlines.'

'Any chance for some practice flights in between jumps' Jasmine inquired just as eager.

'Maybe, but don't hold your breath.'

They both sighed disappointed.

Dawson smiled at the rookies. 'Tell you what I'll talk to the captain about getting you guys some flight time.'

They smiled at her. 'That would be great' they said simultaneously.

'You'll owe me' Dawson warned them.

They shrugged that off, not really caring about that.

Squadron Ready room, TCS Centurion. Granita system. Epsilon Sector. 2668.354

'-And this concludes the briefing for Blue flight.' Captain Miller said. 'On to Red' he indicated Dawson. 'You'll be flying recon along these Navpoints, keep your eyes open for trouble. We've only recently beaten the cats out of this system and there might be stragglers, we need to take them out.' He smiled. 'It's not unlikely Command decides to push an offensive through here, and depending on it's success any Cat's left behind could seriously hamper our supply lines.'

He fell silent as a few of the pilots nodded at him. They understood.

'Very well, if you need help a mixed wing of Hellcat's and Thunderbolts will be available to assist.'

Jason looked up from his notepad, on which he had scribbled down what he deemed important. He saw Miller look at their faces before giving a final nod and dismissing them.

Jasmine quickly caught up to him. 'Can I copy your notes' she asked jokingly.

'If it's not written down it's not set in stone, plus I don't want to forget important stuff.' Jason responded loftily.

'You do have a memory, and it's not like the Captain gave us a lot of extra info to remember.' Jason shrugged. 'It helps ease my mind, it worked on the academy, and it'll work here.'

They separated after banging their helmets together a custom they had developed when flying together. The flightdeck was filled with deafening noises, fighter engines started, ships taxied toward the Catapults for launch. There was a heavy aroma of fuel and coolant. Technicians were yelling at each other trying to be heard over the noise as they readied fighters.

Paul got to his fighter and did a quick visual scan. He didn't see leakage so he deemed her fit to fly. He climbed into the cockpit. His crew chief, he hadn't seen her last time he was there, stood next to it. She helped him strap in. As he nodded his thanks at her she removed the pins of his ejection seat.

'It's armed, sir' she yelled over the roar of the catapults. 'You've got four Friend or Foe's and four dummies.'

He looked at her not understanding her.

'Four dumb-fires' she yelled.

He nodded, as he understood her now. He checked his systems, finding no obvious errors or problems.

'Red Three ready to go' he told the "Air boss" in charge of the flight deck.

'Red four, ready.' He heard Jasmine say only second later.

'Red flight, wait your turn, Blue is up.'

Jason sighed. He watched the flight deck from his now slightly elevated position. It was a beehive of activity people racing around working on everything from loading up a bomber with torpedo's, to refueling a long range shuttle. Slowly the nerves kicked in and he felt sick to the stomach. This would be his second flight outside of the academy, and it had been luck, not skill that made him survive during the battle in Sol. He took deep breaths to calm down, it didn't really work. When his turn came he taxied up to the catapults. While he checked everything one last time, he pushed the throttle forward. The force of the launch pushed him into his chair. He gritted his teeth taking powerful short breaths, until it wore off. He checked his angles and looked for Jasmine. Seeing her safely on his right wing he smiled. Noticing Dawson he took up position slightly behind and above her.

'We all here?' she asked.

In response she got three clicks over the radio.

'Excellent, let's go.'

Navpoint 3. Near an asteroid belt. Granita system. Epsilon Sector. 2668.354.

Jason had switched hands on the stick to give his right hand a little rest. His eyes kept scanning his instruments, space and his radar, so far only showing his flight and some of the more iron rich asteroids. As he looked out into space again he suddenly heard Jasmine.

'I've got something, its.., it's gone now.'

'What did you see' Dawson asked.

'I thought I picked up a Cat, but it faded as we passed.'

'Could be a glitch' Dawson's Wingman interjected.

'Or a Cat hiding amongst the rocks, I want to be sure' Dawson decided. 'Follow me.'

It didn't take long, as soon as they turned to the belt, six Dralthi's left their hiding place amongst the rocks and attacked.

Dawson swore an oath. 'Break and Attack' she ordered as she regained her calm. The four fighters split up into two's, giving each other room to maneuver.

'You with me, Jas?'

'Always, Jace.'

Jason grinned as he pushed the throttle forward for combat speeds. They closed on the cats quickly. Feeling they were in Range, Jason let a missile fall away from its hardpoint and streak towards the cats.

They scattered like mad, making sure they didn't have to go head to head with them. Jason picked one and went after it. A well executed burn and he was within range for his guns. He opened up on the cat hammering its shields. They lit up as the energy poured into them. 'Gotcha' he said as the first big chunk of armor was chewed of the Dralthi. The pilot getting rather desperately to avoid its opponent.

'Look out Jace' Jasmine yelled.

Out of pure instincts her rolled his fighter away losing sight with his target but seeing fire pass by his own ship by mere feet. He breathed a sigh of relief as he went into evasive action.

'Get him, Jas.'

'On my way.' She responded tersely. Jason's flying didn't make it any easier. 'Taking the shot' she said, warning Jason.

He pulled up out of an unexpected roll. He glanced over his shoulder making out the cat's shield being torn of by Jasmine's excellent shooting. As the Cat blew up the comms came alive with his death scream.

'Nice' Jason said as he went to look for his own target. He found it barreling down on Dawson's wingman. Dawson was busy herself; fighting it out with two other vessels. Jason launched his second missile, seeing it streak away at one of her opponents. Who left the chase to deal with the missile, he was unlucky, the missile impacted on his shield ripping his fighter to pieces.

Jason closed the distance on his old opponent just as it opened up. Jason swore and fired as well, hitting the regenerated shields but still forcing the Cat to go into evasive.

'Thank you' he heard someone say as he pounded the shields again. As they succumbed to the punishment the Dralthi, suddenly slowed down. Jason was surprised and over shot. He swore as his own shields were suddenly peppered with incoming fire. He watched the display and saw his very own shields diminish rapidly

'I'll take him' Jasmine said and opened up. As she did the already diminished shields on the cat fighter gave way, her shots eating their way to vital parts of the Cat fighter. It exploded at last; her pilot never even got a scream off.

'Owe you' Jason told Jasmine shortly. He turned sharply to engage another Cat.

She didn't respond but just grinned.

Jason burned to within range and fired a missile. He swore viciously as it streaked away at a different target. He started firing his guns then, leading it as the pilot tried to evade. He slowed down to match speed and kept pouring it on. The capacitators dipping into the red and slowing down his rate of fire. Finally the cat's ship gave way, it exploded.

All the while Dawson and her wingman had been fighting the other two. They finished the last one with a flourish. Dawson did a victory roll and held back until her pilots caught up with her.

'Nice work, people' she complemented her pilots.

'We both got two of them' Jasmine said enthusiastically.

Jason nodded, although she couldn't see it. 'Not bad for a bunch of rookies.'

Dawson smiled. Their fighting really hadn't been that bad. 'Let's head home.'