Chris felt oddly at home sitting in the briefing room of the Fire Dawn. It hadn't even been home for that long when he'd been on his final missions for the GTVA, yet somehow, it felt more like home than even his real home had ever been.
The real Swords were sitting in their assigned rows, by wings. Chris may have felt at home, but he still felt out of place. His place was where Amy was now sitting, with Anya were Louis was. He forced himself to get rid of that. The Swords were hers now, he was back by coincidence.
Sean clicked the first slide of the briefing on. It displayed an asteroid base, the most common mercenary outpost in the galaxy. "This installation was long ago discovered, and classified as abandoned, but according to intelligence, not only is it active, but the Hammer Of Light has been using it as a base."
He advanced the slide, it was now zoomed out to view the asteroid belt and the fighter and bomber wings assigned. "We're going to attempt this operation in two phases. Phase one, involves getting a wing of fighters close enough so that we can provide fire support with the Malak and the Fire Dawn. Getting those fighters there however, will be tricky."
He advanced the slide again. It zoomed in on a portion of the asteroid belt. "I had two Pegasus stealth fighters investigate the field and they reported several squadrons of HOL fighters patrolling the belt. They weren't able to get close enough, but my guess is that the Hammer of Light is ready to evacuate before we can get to them."
He advanced the slide again, this time showing a small asteroid and a wing of Jade Interceptors. "This will be Alpha wing, comprised of Amy, Louis, Jack, and Sydney. You have the hardest job by far. We'll insert you well beyond the HOL patrols and near this asteroid line. Its a dense pocket of asteroids that are generating a ton of EM interference. If you four can fly down this line, it'll take you straight up to the base without being detected."
He turned to face Amy. "Your wing will be experiencing HUD malfunctions, but our techs are modifying your fighters to be EM shielded, it'll slow you down a bit, but it'll prevent you from having any system failures, or at least thats what the geeks tell me. Your communications will be limited to short-range line of sight comms. We won't be able to give you any intel and sensors will be pretty much useless."
He paused, stepping down from the platform. "Once you get close, you will have to tag the installation itself with a specially modified tag missile. Its a derivation of the TAG-A design. It won't light the station up, but will instead send a burst transmission giving us targeting date, you should be able to do this from the edge of the field without being detected."
He turned back to the screen and advanced the slide, showing now a zoomed up view of the base. "We'll have two Deimos class corvette drop in, here and here." He pointed out the two locations. "You'll need to stay near them to stay out of our line of fire, they'll also help you clear out the fighter swarm. Beta wing will fly Hydra bombers, Gamma will fly Ares fighters. Chris, Anya, you two will be in Ares fighters and attached to Gamma wing. Beta wing will help eliminate and cruisers and disable any transports in the area. Gamma wing will provide cover with Alpha. Any questions?"
There were none, silence filled the briefing room.
"Gear up and get down to the flight deck, Alpha wing launches immediately."
Amy gently tugged at her flight stick, adjusting her course by the slightest of margins. The asteroid field loomed ahead, and she could see the dense portion of the field that she had to get in with her naked eye. It was all up to her wing to do this part of the mission.
"Everyone ready?" She asked.
"As ready as I'm gonna be." Sydney replied.
"Shake rattle and roll." Louis howled with excitement.
"We'll follow your lead Amy." Jack said last.
Amy took a deep breath and accelerated, coming up to two-thirds throttle. She didn't dare take the speed any faster. Chances were they were all going to take a beating, even with the shields. Her sensors started to break up the second she entered the field.
Switching from the sensors to manual navigation, she lit up her first way point and started towards it, dodging left and right to avoid small asteroids. Her fighter rattled as a constant spray of micrometeorites impacted her shield continually. She diverted some power from her engines to her shields.
She just had to trust her wing to stay with her, they'd been through worse, but they couldn't fire on the asteroids, the Kayser fire would alert the Hammer of Light. All of her wingman lights were flashing, but none of them were turning red, so there was no danger, it just showed they were being pelted with debris.
All around her HUD, asteroids were painted in white brackets, indicating possible collision hazards, but they changed quickly due to the small size of her fighter. Still, if there ever was a fighter designed to handle this, the Jade interceptor was it. Its hull was tough enough to withstand the continual pounding and its shields more than made up for any weakness there. Its maneuverability and speed were unparalleled, even by the aging Horus interceptor the Vasudans used.
For the longest time the Horus had been the fastest interceptor in both the Terran, Vasudan, and even the Shivan fleets, though the Manticore came a close second, followed by the now retired Valkyrie. Of course survivability had been a complete reversal.
Amy shifted to her second way point, the field was rapidly becoming thicker and thicker. All of her shield indicators flashed continually as small asteroids she couldn't dodge hit her. The number of asteroids that were a threat though increased substantially. She found herself constantly shifting course, only praying her wingmates kept up with her.
All around her asteroids impacted one another with lethal precision, nearly sandwiching her several times. She glanced down at her hull integrity display, it showed 80, not bad, considering the amount of physical impacts on her ship and the strain the shields were already going through.
The third way point was the final one. As she banked and turned she could see were the field dissipated and the Hammer of Light station became visible. A quick glance to either side showed her the HOL fighter wings patrolling the asteroids. She hoped the constant spray of rocks would keep her and her wing hidden.
She switched to her temporary third missile bank, it contained a single missile, all she need to finish her mission. She brought up her sensor and targeting systems again as she reached the edge of the field. She quickly calibrated her missile with date streaming from her sensors.
"Fire the damn missile!" Louis said over the tight band line of sight comm equipment in her cockpit.
Amy pressed her secondary trigger on top of the flight stick and the missile launched free of its housing, racing straight for the target. In less than a second, it hit and her sensors lit up with contacts from the area, data from the missile directly.
Two large subspace apertures opened and the two Deimos corvettes dropped out of subspace, opening fire on the installation. Targeting the docking rings and fighter bays. Chunks of the base started falling off into space.
More subspace apertures opened, these small and the rest of Amy's squadron dropped out of subspace. Four Hydra bombers and six Ares fighters. She waited, knowing her wing's best position would be behind the Hammer of Light fighters once they came racing to save their base.
"Somethings wrong." Sydney said. "Where is the Typhon?"
"Forget it for now." Louis yelled. "HOL fighters coming out of the field."
"You know the drill." Amy said. "Lets go." She shot out of the field, with Louis and her wing tucked in behind her. "Jack, Sydney, break and rip those Serapis fighters apart. Louis and I will get the Horus interceptors."
"Hulls weaker than a dragon." Louis said with a laugh.
Amy redirected the extra power from her shield into her engines and used her massive afterburners to catch up with the Horus interceptors. She targeted the lead fighter, and opened fire. Her Kayser banks spewed destruction, ripping it apart in seconds.
Another explosions indicated a kill from Louis, but the surprise was gone, leaving them with a full squadron minus two fighters of Horus interceptors still fighting. Amy broke and dropped a pair of countermeasures to break the missile locks on her, while slowly moving the fight towards the nearest Deimos corvette.
It didn't take long before it opened fire, destroying two of them outright. Amy turned back, using her Tempest dumb fires to hit one of them in passing, Louis finished it off. The anit-fighter beams of the Deimos didn't stop, taking another two fighters. Amy caught up with one of the retreating fighters and blew it to pieces. In a few seconds, the whole squadron was gone.
"That was fun, want to do it again?" Louis laughed over the comm.
"This is the New Jersey." One of the Deimos corvettes' commander said. "We're getting strange readings from this asteroid base... its almost as if..."
He never had a chance to finish his sentence as a large chunk of the asteroid broke free, exposing a massive beam cannon assembly, aimed right at the corvette. It fired immediately, dividing the corvette into two pieces. Beta wing swarmed on the target, emptying their Cyclops torpedo banks into it. The cannon showed signs of damage, but not enough.
"This is the William." The other commander said. "We're moving to avoid getting caught by that beam and we need it eliminated, sending targeting info Fire Dawn!" The was a hint of panic in the commander's voice.
Twin green beams slammed into the base from one direction, twin red beams hit it from the other. Larger chunks of the station began breaking apart revealing more and more of the insides. Amy looked down at her sensor board in shock as it became visible. "Its the Typhon!" Amy shrieked. "Its inside a shell, just like the Iceni!
"Beta wing... take out those engines!" Sean yelled over the open comm.
"We'll try." Kira, Beta-1, replied. "But we used most of our bombs on that cannon."
"What the hell have they done to it!" Louis yelled. "That isn't your normal out of date Typhon."
"We've got more incoming fighters." Chris said. "Two squadrons it looks like, heavy assault!"
Amy looked away from the Typhon and its now exposed fighters bays. She raced down near them, just as the Typhon fired again, this time catching the William in a cross fire from two cannons. "The William's down!" She said as she engaged the fighters now engaged with Gamma wing.
Her wing made a slashing attack, weakening shields and destroying two fighters outright with concentrated fire in passing. Tornado missiles poured out of the six Ares fighters in the center, ripping the HOL fighters apart.
She turned and this time joined the fight, getting behind one of them and blow it apart with a concentrated burst. He rammed her afterburners as a harpoon locked onto her and nearly hit her. Nearly, at full afterburner she could outrun them, which was still hard to get used to.
Another salvo from the Fire Dawn and the Malak burned away the last of the Typhon's protective canopy. Amy got a good look at it. It resembled the standard Typhon but it certainly had many modifications. Its normally useless and overexposed fighter bays were now lined with beam cannons, what looked like really heavy beam cannons.
She looked down at its hull integrity, her sensors couldn't tell, the reading kept changing from the mass and volume change of the target. If she wasn't so close to it, it might have fooled her as being a normal Typhon, up close was a whole different story.
"We can't seem to dent these engines!" Kira yelled. "Its like all our shot are bouncing off some time of armor or shield."
"The destroy will soon enter subspace, all fighters vacate the immediate area." The Shivan commander of the Malak said, just as it did enter subspace, vanishing and leaving only a debris cloud where it had been.
"All fighters return to base." Sean said. "I'd better sound an alert."
Amy nodded, something was definitely wrong with that destroyer.