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Prompt #199 - First Line


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"Here we go again."

A series of audio and visual warnings began: First a loud alarm followed by amber lights to signify a yellow alert. The fleet was jumping into potentially hostile territory and getting caught with your pants down was not an option.

 

The Air Boss's voice came over the 1MC: "Attention on the flight line. Prepare to launch the Ready CAP and stand by for further operations."

 

Carter's voice came over the 1MC: "Thirty seconds to jump. All stations stand to general quarters. Set condition 1[1] throughout the ship."


Jerry Heinz and his WSO Rod Parson's buttoned up the canopy of their Tornado strike-fighter and ran their pre-flight check list as the flight-line crew removed fuel lines and cables.

 

Heinz spoke into the intercom, "How are we doing Rod?"

 

"Check list is good. All boards are green."


Heinz looked out and saw his crew chief looking him in the eye with his right thumb up. He nodded in acknowledgment, reset his communications to the squad network and said, "Sierra-Alpha four-four, we are ready for immediate take-off."


"Roger that Sierra-Alpha four-four. You are first in the pattern of six. Proceed to your designated rally point on take off and await instructions."

 

Rod's voice crackled in his ears, "Jump minus five."

 

Jerry had just enough time to take a deep breath before he felt the discontinuity of the jump. As soon as the ship emerged on the other side, the magnetic catapult threw the Tornado into the infinite black.

"Contact, contact, contact! Multiple boogies at 220 degrees, minus 20 degrees estimated range 4 light hours."


Jerry nudged the stick over and throttled up. "Hacksaw flight, this is Hacksaw leader. Form up on me, go to burners and head to point Juliet at the outer marker."


The fleet was arrayed in a spherical formation. The carriers were at the center, with their close escort. They passed the next layer, the big stately battleships in the blink of an eye. The next layer, about 150 kilometers out, were the cruisers. Finally they came to the outer most layer between 250-300 kilometers out and took their station among the picket destroyers.


When his flight was in position, he reported, "Hacksaw flight, three elements of two in position."

"Hacksaw flight, this is India-Romeo. The fleet is at EMCOM Black[2]. We have significant enemy forces in sight but no sign of pursuit. The fleet will jump in nine minutes, twenty seconds unless the enemy jumps in closer. TopHat is launching stand by fighters."

 

So far, so good thought Jerry. If the fleet could jump away before the enemy closed, everybody would live through it. With any luck at all, they could jump away before the bad guys even knew they were there.

 

"Roger that, India-Romeo. Hacksaw flight in under your area control."


It was the waiting that caused your hair to turn gray. If the enemy didn't jump to meet the fleet in five minutes, you were probably going to make it. Those minutes ticked away like hours.


Hacksaw flight spread out in pairs over a part of the formation covered by the Destroyer Squadron 7. The ships transponders were off for the engagement but Heinz knew that they were in close to the destroyers Auckland, Darwin and the Hobart. The pilots had designated lanes to fly through to avoid defensive fire from the ships to avoid a friendly-frag incident but, if things went nuts, it would get very deadly out here.


"Hacksaw flight, this is India-Romeo. Mind your fire lanes. The clock is at 8 minutes. No indications that the enemy fleet is moving to intercept."


"Roger that."


Another nerve racking thirty seconds ticked by as Hacksaw flight flew wide figure eights in their assigned position when a new voice came onto the frequency, "Hacksaw lead, joining up on your six. Two flight of three."


Heinz said, "Hacksaw lead to flight, welcome to the party."

Seven minutes, thirty seconds and now the squadron was at full strength.


The destroyer Hobart was cruising close to Heinz's patrol box with her four big ion engines glowing blue-hot with plasma. Sierra-Alpha four-four and their wing-man passed the sleek little ship every few times they flew the wide figure eight. Heinze easily identified it as a Shepherd II class destroyer. Up gunned, modern and much larger than pre-war destroyers, the Shepherd class was designed from the keel up to escort bigger ships. The difference in the I or II designation was in its armament. Mechanically they were identical but the Shepherd I was gun heavy and the Shepherd II was missile heavy. The "II"'s had fewer mag guns than their sisters but bristled with twelve different missile launchers.


Heinz typed a text message and sent it to Hobart: "Hobart- we've got your back."

"India-Romeo to all flights, the jump clock is at seven minutes."

"Hacksaw lead to flight, systems check." He watched his status board as the computers of the Tornadoes of his flight reported in. No one was even under 90% fuel. Damn. He would have to find something else to worry about.


He pressed a button under the status display and got the weapons load out; All twelve strike fighters were carrying four Lance anti-ship missiles. Just for giggles, half the flight was carrying one nuclear tipped Lance with a 10 kilo-ton warhead for when you absolutely, positively had to blow the living shit our of a heavy cruiser. The big fighter-bombers were also carrying six Magic anti-missile missiles for in bound threats. To top it off, the Tornado carried a 20mm mag chain gun with 2000 rounds that could cut a destroyer in half and lots of chaff[3] and flares[4] for making a dramatic exit."

If his math was correct, Hacksaw flight could frag a lot of enemy. Forty-eight Lances, at least six of them were nukes...

"India-Romeo to all flights, jump clock is at five minutes. Looking good. We'll start reeling you in at three."

At 3 minutes, thirty seconds Heinz said, "Looks good gentlemen. At three minutes break from your orbits and haul ass for home."

At three minutes, the Tornadoes of Hacksaw flight began to break back to the carrier.

At 2 minutes 56 seconds, all hell broke loose.

"India-Romeo to all flights, jump points forming! Form up and attack!"

Heinz thought shit this is going to be close.

Eighteen enemy Archer-4 class missile frigates in three groups of six plus a big cruiser sized leader jumped in at just over 5500 kilometers out and began dumping big ugly missiles in the direction of the Task Force.


The fleet began spitting blue-white tracers of iron slugs accelerated to near light speed from their mag-guns and he could visually see the little Hobart almost vanish in the exhaust gases of her own defensive missiles.


Heinze ordered, "Hacksaw flight, hit the burners and give them hell. Break, break, break!"

Hacksaw flight recovered their order as they accelerated toward the enemy ships. Parson spoke over the squad circuit: "All Hacksaw elements, attack profile is loading on your computers. Lock them up, shoot and scoot."


The Tornadoes come up to .1C on their attack run but the enemy was busy too. Their initial volley had consisted of 144 ship killing missiles and they were reloading.

The flight crossed the distance between formations in seconds releasing their missiles at 300 kilometers out and then made high speed turns back toward the carrier. On the way they used their Magic anti missiles to knock down as many of the inbounds as they could.

"Hacksaw seven- Vampire, vampire, vampire: they're locking me up!"

"Hacksaw six is defensive."

 

"Hacksaw lead to India-Romeo, they are locking us up! Request priority jamming mission!"


"India-Rome to Hacksaw flight, deploy chaff and flares. We're jamming their guidance freqs. Be aware that the fleet has deployed Starfish drones. Break inside, your 030, up 45 degrees."

 

Heinze felt the pucker in his ass get even tighter. Jesus. This just keeps on getting better and better.

Hacksaw flight just felt the icy cold touch of death by robotic missiles and would soon pass their own nuclear tipped missiles going the other way.

 

Heinz knew that all of his guys had their throttles to the firewall.


The Starfish was a BAM- a big assed missile that only the big capital ships could fire. When it got to a programmed distance it popped and deployed eight 10 mega-ton hydrogen warheads. Their blast, radiation and shock wave would destroy anything within thousands of kilometers creating a impassable barrier... and swat a squadron of fighters like so many flies.


Heinz saw the flash just about the time his flight passed the Hobart.

Hacksaw flight had under a minute to be aboard the carrier before it jumped away.

They danced along the safe zones dodging friendly flak and missiles.

Heinz and his wing man trapped just as the carrier jumped away.

As soon as they were down, Heinz noticed a test message had arrived.


"Thanks for the assist Hacksaw. Hobart's best regards."

 

Jerry said, "We might as well stay put while they refuel and re-arm us Rod. We'll be launching again in an hour."
_______________________

[1]- Condition 1: general quarters.
[2]- Emission Condition Black: all sensors and electromagnetic sources are turned off.
[3]- Chaff: foil ejected from aircraft to confuse enemy sensors.
[4]- flares: white hot magnesium flares to confuse infra-red homing missiles

Edited by jamessavik
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(Using both prompts #198 and #199)

 

 

"Here we go again!"

 

Rob threw the dish rag into the sink when he heard the sound of breaking glass.  Hurrying into the dining room he felt his heart sink when he saw the broken window.  It was not a small window, but a large picture window that he had specifically asked for when he was working with his architect that built his house.  Gritting his teeth, he headed toward his front door, knowing his neighbor was standing outside anticipating the confrontation that was about to take place.  The guy was a real piece of work and if Rob had met him before building his home, his residence would be as far as possible from this asshole that he could not bring himself to call neighbor.Slipping his feet into a pair of boots, he opened his front door, and stepped out onto the wooden deck running the length of the front of his house.  He walked to the end of the deck not at all surprised to see his next door neighbor standing there defiantly with his arms crossed over his massive chest and a challenging look on his beautiful rugged face.  Trying to ignore the heat coating his body from just looking at the guy, Rob asked patiently," What happened this time?"

 

"Jason, my little friend, and I were building a snowman and one thing led to another and before I knew it we started a snowball fight .  I guess I can throw a snowball a little harder than I thought and that little stinker dodged just in time.  Sorry about the window.  I will be glad to pay for replacing it."  He smirked at his offer of payment because he knew that it would probably be days before Rob could find someone to come fix it in this kind of weather.

 

Rob sighed and turned to go back inside not even bothering to answer.  First, it had been a broken window in his garage, then a flat on his truck for no reason that the mechanic could find but the air being let out, his paper missing every Sunday, and now this.  Shaking his head, he walked back through his open door and struggled with his self not to slam it, but didn't because he did not want even more glass to fall onto his cusioned window seat along the broken window.  For some reason his good-looking neighbor, Josh Newman, hated him and for the life of him he cold not figure why.  It couldn't be because he was gay because there wasn't anyone in this new town that he lived in that knew that tidbit of his personal life.  He had moved here a little over six months ago after transferring to another branch of his company.  A bad break up was the cause but he claimed to his new co-workerS that it was for a needed change of scenery. Sighing, he closed the door and headed to his pantry to get a broom and dust pan to clean the glass from the window sill and seat. After picking up all the glass and sucking the small slivers into this vacum cleaner he headed for the garage to find something to cover the window.

 

As Rob opened the side door of the cabin to go outside, he noticed his neighbor getting out of his truck with a few grocery bags and what appeared to be two pizza boxes.  His own stomach rumbled but he knew he had to get the hole covered since it was already snowing again.  Trudging through the snow, he opened the door of the garage and switched on the overhead light.  All of his tools and sports equipment were neatly stacked or hanging in the garage.  Opening one of the boxes he grabbed a roll of duct tape and reached over his head to get a roll of heavy plastic that the contractor had left after building the house.  Thankful that he had kept it, Rob pulled on the roll and was hit on top of the head by a book that he had forgotten was up on the shelf.  It was a photo album that he had started to dispose of but as an afterthought has just thrown it upon the shelf and had not given it another thought until now.  Placing the tape and roll of plastic on the floor at his feet he opened the album, surprised that there was no tightness in his chest anymore when he looked at all of the pictures of him and his ex smiling into the camera.

 

Josh hesitated before entering his neighbor's garage.  On the way back from picking up groceries and pizza the snow had started up again and guilt feelings started tugging at him.  He unloaded his groceries,  put the pizzas on the counter,  and headed over here to help Rob cover the window before the wind got up and started blowing the snow into his home.  He walked silently up behnd the other man, intending to tap him on the shoulder letting him know he was there when his curiosity got the best of him.  Peering over Rob's shoulder the gasp left his mouth before he could stop it.

 

Rob jumped and turned, almost knocking Josh over and slamming the album at the same time.  " What the hell do you think you are doing?  Are you spying on me now or were you actually going to physically hurt me this time?"   Rob's voice was filled with anger and sarcasm and made Josh step away from him.

 

" I just came over to offer to help cover the window before the storm set in.  Sorry if I startled you, but I was fixing to tap you on the shoulder to let you know I was here."  he spoke quickly to Rob.

 

"Right.  You break the window and want to fix it?  I believe that like I believe you have not purposely been making my life hell for the last few months since I have lived here.  Get out!  Now!"  Rob hollered.

 

 

 

An hour or so later, Rob put the empty roll from the plastic in the fire in the fireplace and lay the roll of tape on his kitchen cabinet, not wanting to go back outside.  He mixed hot chocolate on the stove to heat and went to get into some flannel pants and a sweatshirt, exhausted from the whole mess of an afternoon.  After putting on the clothes, he pulled on a pair of thick socks and went back downstairs to get his chocolate and settle down in front of the fire to relax and watch a move or something..  Trying not to worry about his neighbor seeing the pictures, he told himself that just because he saw them did not mean that Josh knew Rob was gay.  Quelling the doubt and niggle of fear he was feeling, he tried to concentrate on the mindless horror movie on tv.

 

Josh juggled the pizza and box of chocolate in one hand and tapped with the horseshoe shaped knocker in the center of the cabin's door, nervously licking his lips wondering what kind of welcome he would get from Rob.  After a minute or so Rob stood before him in flannel pants and a black sweat shirt that made his black hair look almost blue and his green eyes glow like those of a cat.  Holding the boxes out in front of him, he felt a small bit of relief when the other man took them and motioned with his other hand for Josh to come inside.

 

Rob saw his neighbor take in the brown leather furniture and indian prints on the plush rugs across his den floor, finally coming to rest on the stone hearth with the fire burning brightly almost like a welcome light.  He noticed that Josh had changed into what looked like a new shirt that was a black and red flannel, fitting his massive shoulders and slim waist to perfection.  Trying not to stare into the blue eyes surrounded by a thick thatch of unruly auburn hair he waited patiently for the other man to explain himself.  He was surprised when no words were forthcoming from the beautiful mouth but instead the other man chewed his bottom lip uncertainly.  Finally Rob shut the door and walked over to place the three boxes on the large coffee table in front of the sectional couch, settling himself against the cushions not wanting to give an inch.

 

Josh gestured toward the boxes and said nervously, "The pizzas are a peace offering and the box of candy an apology for everything.  I am sorry for all the childish things I did.  Maybe we can start over if you are willing."  He ran his hands nervously down the legs of the tight jeans he was wearing not knowing Rob was watching the movement like a starving man wishing he could touch the muscular legs beneath the jeans.

 

Clearing his throat Rob spoke confidetly, not letting the other see his own nervousness.  "You have to answer one question before we start with a clean slate."

 

Nodding, Josh waited for Rob to speak.

 

"Why did you do all of those things to me.  I never did anything to my knowledge that warranted any of the crap you put me through."  Rob said clearly.

 

Feeling his face flush with heat and embarassment Josh replied softly.  "I thought you were homophobic because you never showed any sign of being friendly or even when I sent the cake when you moved in, there was no response from you.  You know how small towns are, so I thought one of the local gossips had told you that I was gay."  he finished nervously.

 

Rob's mouth fell open in astonishment before he burst out laughing, walking over to pull Josh into a friendly, reassuring hug.  Once their bodies touched, there was no need for words during the symbol of affection between the men.  The hug turned into a cocoon of feeling that gave both men a sense of fulfillment that they had needed for a long time.

 

A couple of hours later when both pizzas and a bottle of wine were gone the two men sat side by side on the couch, talking, watching the fire, and listening to the the wind whistle as the snow came down furiously,  But,neither minded because they had found a place of contentment and warmth there with each other.

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