Here's the legal stuff again. It's pointless and has no real weight, but it's here anyway.
All non-original characters and locations are the properties of their respective copyright holders. Since no-one actually reads this, it's unlikely that I'm going to get sued over it, but please don't anyway.
You know the stories about the Dominion War. From the Second Battle at Deep Space Nine and the destruction of the Torros III shipyards, right up to the final battle for Cardassia itself. Everyone knows about the ships that fought in those battles. But what happens when you look on a smaller level? Like, say, the flight-line on one given ship in the war?
Star Trek: Flight Line
Chapter One: Torros III
Jon grabbed his flight jacket from off of the back of a chair in his quarters, slipping it on as he headed down to the flight deck. It was a little piece of official liberty the pilots got over their uniform that they could substitute the flight jacket for the regular one. Around him, the talk was of impending war. Already, the Bajoran Wormhole was being mined, hoping to cut off the enemy supply line. Not that the Dominion were actually their enemy yet. But with the way diplomacy was going, it wouldn't be that much longer. Jon couldn't help rolling his eyes as he thought about that in the Turbo-lift.
In the pilots ready room, most of the squadron was already assembled. Some in flight-suits, some in uniform. The call had defiantly been urgent though. Jon took his seat in the front row with the other flight leads. He paused briefly to loosen his collar slightly, his fingers brushing over his rank insignia. At the front, the Squadron commander and ship's Second Officer, Commander Tom Jeffreys, was finalising something before commencing his briefing.
"All right. You know the score. As of two hours ago, we are in a state of war with the Dominion. As such, Command has decided to take the initiative and launch a pre-emptive strike, here." He tapped a PADD, making a rotating model appear on the screen behind him. "This is the Dominion shipyard at Torros III, and the carrier group's been added to the roster to take it out. Our job, is to neutralise a segment of the enemy defence grid, here." He tapped the PADD again, highlighting and enlarging a segment of one of the arms. "Booster, you and your flight will handle the long-range targeting sensors."
The flight lead to Jon's left nodded once. Booster and his flight were usually tasked with the "Wild Weasel" jobs, taking out enemy sensors to secure the airspace.
"Cypher, your flight will handle the heavy torpedo emplacements here." The highlight moved. The lead to Jon's right nodded.
"Sakura, your flight will handle top cover."
Jon nodded. He'd long since gotten over whatever connotations people tried to find with his call-sign. Although that may have been due to the fact the first time someone tried to poke fun at him for it, he sent them to Sick-Bay with a broken nose and destroyed ego, something which brought him twelve days in the Brig for assaulting a fellow officer. But then, he'd also always had a short fuse. Perhaps it was a good thing he wasn't a security officer.
Jon hung his red uniform shirt up in the locker, and pulled his flight-suit out with one hand while trying to manoeuvre out of his trousers with the other. After nearly falling over a few times, he managed it, and wondered why he hadn't simply done it one item at a time. He sighed, and pulled the suit up over his shoulders, tugging the zipper up to just below the base of his neck. The suit itself was black, with a dark red stripe round each wrist and a rank insignia on the collar, and a name plate on the chest where the comm-badge would normally go. The plate itself was a cloth patch, with Jon's pilot wings, name and rank embroidered onto it. He then grabbed his flight boots, and laced them up before stepping into the ejection harness and buckling it across his chest, popping his combadge off the flight jacket and attaching it with a quiet chirp to the left part of the harness, and finally taking his helmet and heading to the flight line, pulling on his gloves as he went. The helmet was black, with a pair of white stripes running across the top of it, and a number of pink flower petals. Cherry blossoms, after the English translation for his call-sign.
The deck was a hub of activity as technicians worked to get the fighters fuelled and armed for the mission. Booster, real name Lieutenant Commander Mark Lewis, was talking over the heavy attack loads for A Flight with one of the techs. Cypher, otherwise known as Lieutenant Commander James Wilkes, was going over an attack plan with B flight. And there he was, Sakura, aka Lieutenant Commander Jonathan Rose, or Jon to everyone who knew him enough to call him by name, not call-sign, rank or just "sir". Flying top cover meant simply keeping enemy fighters away from the flights with a specific objective, and to be fair that was how he liked it. No complicated planning, all you needed was a watchful eye and an accurate shot, along with wingmen who could do the same. He had both. Lieutenant Taki Woods, call-sign Smash, and Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Greg Thomas, call-sign Shunt. That was probably why everyone referred to them as "S-Flight" instead of "C-Flight" in relaxed settings. The three flights together made up VFA-214, otherwise known as the Black Sharks. That was what was painted on the impulse fairings of all their fighters, at any rate.
Jon climbed up the ladder to his cockpit, placing his helmet on top of the panel as he slid into the seat and began fastening the restraints. In truth, the ejection seat was redundant in space combat, where the pilot could simply be transported to the support vessel far enough out of combat to have its shields down, but not all the combat took place in space. During the Klingon war, Jon and the rest of the squadron had flown a number of missions in support of ground forces, and then an ejection system made a bit more sense. Having fastened his restraints, Jon pulled on his helmet and brought the canopy down. Already, A-Flight was beginning their take-off, Booster and his two wingmen settling onto the mag-strips that aimed out of the launch-bay doors. Jon picked up the oxygen mask from the panel hook in front of him and clipped it in place on his helmet. B-Flight was lining up now, and Jon tapped the starter control on the panel. A brief whine accompanied the impulse thrusters coming online, and the power readings spiked briefly before settling into the green.
"Charlie-Flight, you are cleared for take-off. Hold short until traffic is clear."
Jon lined his fighter up with the markings on the deck, with Smash on his left at No.2 and Shunt at No.3 to his right. The nose wheel locked into the mag-strip, and the whole craft seemed to lean forward. Up ahead, the lights marking the runway turned green, and Jon slammed the throttle open. About a second later, the mag-strip kicked in and fired the Peregrine-class fighter out of the bay and into space. Jon banked the fighter round the saucer section and under the Akira-class carrier's port nacelle, and then back around again into formation with the rest of the squadron which flew in a staggered arrowhead through the rest of the carrier group as it joined up with the Task Force. Up ahead was the sprawling mass of the Torros III shipyards.
"Alpha and Bravo flights, commence attack. All flights, you are weapons free."
The nine fighters peeled out of the Task Force formation and headed straight for their target. They weren't the only fighters in the group though. As well as their squadron from the USS Ikari, there was also VFA-162 (commonly known as the Night Foxes) from the Kaneda and VFA-248 (the Red Owls) from the Kurosaki. They had their own targets though. Jon and his flight hung back, waiting for enemy interceptors. They weren't waiting long.
"Alpha-one has target lock. Magnum! Magnum!" That call meant that Booster had fired his heavy torpedoes at the sensor arrays. Sure enough, the two pieces of ordnance impacted and detonated, and the sensors seemed to falter. Subsequent impacts from his wingmen tore the array apart. Now the heavy defensive guns were blind until they could be hooked up to a new set of targeting sensors.
"Bravo-one, Rifle!" Cypher took a shot at the heavy launcher, blowing one of the tubes apart and sending debris scything into several others. Then Jon looked up, and saw the enemy diving toward them.
"Charlie-one has tally on four bandits at two-o'clock high, closing fast."
"Tac-Com copies. Go get 'em." Tac-Com was the combat flight controller on the Ikari.
Jon pulled up, lining up on the diving fighters. They looked like purple insects. Jem'Hadar attack vessels. He opened the throttle to combat power, and found himself engaged in a game of chicken with the lead vessel. It fired at his fighter several times and missed, before it was highlighted on Jon's Head-up display as his photon torpedoes locked on.
"Charlie-One has tone. Fox Two." The gold-yellow torpedo lanced from the launcher under the starboard wing and smashed into the enemy vessel, but it continued to close with him.
"Charlie-Two, guns." Jon saw the pulses pass him to the left as Taki fired on the lead vessel. Her shots tore through the port nacelle, causing it to explode. "Charlie-Two, splash one."
Jon rolled left and pulled his own trigger.
These shots ripped into the main hull of the number two ship, sending it spinning out of control and crashing into one of the docking arms.
"All flights, this is Tac-Com. Bravo-One reports target destroyed. Switch comms to TAC-2, you are cleared to engage enemy fighters on sight." The tactical controller on the Ikari was handing them over to SWACS' control now the primary mission was complete. TAC-2 was the open channel shared by all wings, so the flight call-signs were out of use for the rest of the planned mission.
"Sakura, wilco." Jon signalled his affirmative, then tapped the control on his panel marked with TAC-2. The SWACS (Space-borne Warning And Control System) operator on-board the Nebula class USS Tempest was call-signed Highwind.
"Highwind, this is Sakura checking in."
"Roger Sakura. You have bandits inbound bearing one-two-six point two, cleared to engage on sight."
"Roger, have target visual. Sakura, engaging."
"All fighters, this is Highwind. The fleet is moving into attack and is requesting cover. Keep your heads on a swivel."
Jon looked around, and saw a group of Cardassian fighters diving at one of the fleet's light cruisers.
"Sakura has tally on four Hideki, on course for the Tahoe." He then looked forward again, and caught a lock on one of his vectored targets as phaser fire from the Tahoe destroyed the inbound fighters.
"Sakura, Fox Three." Pressing the button launched a Quantum torpedo out of his port tube, and into the rear of the locked attack ship, making it explode. "Sakura, splash one."
"Tracked on sensors, kill confirmed."
By now, the armada was beginning to pass the defensive perimeter that the various fighter squadrons had punched holes in. Phaser, disruptor and torpedo fire tore chunks out of the superstructure.
Then a call came over the TAC.
"All fighters, we have a fire mission. Requirement is one craft to enter the exposed structure at grid 268-024 and hit the backup coolant system. Sakura and Booster, you read as closest. Current ordnance status?"
"Booster is Winchester." Booster was out of ordnance, with only his phasers left able to fire.
"Sakura is Tiger." Jon stated he had enough ordnance to complete the mission.
"Understood. Target marker has been sent. Booster, provide cover."
Jon rolled his fighter to the left and flew toward a breach in the structure, where a navigation point was flashing on his HUD. Beyond that, the coolant line pulsed ice-blue gently as the targeting system scanned it, then turned red as it locked.
"Sakura, Fox Three."
The single quantum torpedo sailed lazily into the conduit, before smashing into and obliterating it. Jon smashed the throttle forward to try to escape as the explosion began to spread. Dodging one piece of the superstructure, then another, he finally rolled out of the breach as the explosion severed that particular arm.
"All fighters, this is Highwind. Mission complete, return to carriers."
As the fighter squadrons formed up to return to their various carriers, more explosions began to rip through the shipyard structure, before the primary fusion reactor finally went critical from the damage done by the fleet, causing the entire station to be consumed in a fireball.
"Sakura, begin carrier landing checks. You are cleared to land."
Jon touched a slide-switch on his control panel, lowering the landing gear and magnetic tail hook, and setting the other systems in landing mode. He brought the fighter in through the rear launch bay doors, touching down on the flight deck with a slight squeak from the tires and a clunk from the arresting field. He then taxied the fighter back into it's slot on the flight line, and popped the canopy. He then removed his oxygen mask and climbed out of the cockpit, taking of his helmet and running his hands through his dark brown hair a few times to try to dry some of the sweat. That, and it had been compacted by the helmet, a look he never really liked.
Up in the locker room, everyone was celebrating. Jon stuck his helmet and harness in the locker, then slammed it a bit harder than he needed to. Must be the adrenaline still coursing through his system.
"Hey Sak! Catch!"
Jon turned just in time to catch the casually thrown bottle, popping it open on the keyhole for his locker.
"That was one sweet shot you made back there!" Booster was leaning back against the lockers while still sat on the bench. His blonde hair was slicked in odd spikes with sweat.
"Not as good as you blowing that Jem'Hadar ship off my tail. Guess I owe you for that."
"Come on. The rate he' going, he's gonna have to start paying interest on all these loans." Taki managed to get most of the locker room laughing, including Jon, even though he knew the joke was at his expense. But he didn't seem to care. After all, it was an excuse to kick back and celebrate the first victory of the war.
Little did they know it would be the only one for a while...
A/N: So there we are. Sorry if the radio jargon made everything unreadable. If you find one I didn't explain, then the Wikipedia page on Brevity codes should help.