Jump to content
    Topher Lydon
  • Author
  • 3,550 Words
Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

The Falcon Banner - 48. Chapter 48

It is formed according to the essential determination of the soul, and cannot be
injured or perverted by the power of evil..

-Doctor Graham Gardiner 'Treatise on courage'

Captured Predator

He screamed, an ear-piercing shriek that reverberated from the powerful ion engines, through the airframe and into the enclosed cockpit as the fighter shot off of the Ark Royal's flight deck and into space. The drives settled into an eerie banshee wail as he eased back on the thrust, guiding the fighter around by the stick to put it on its long approach to the Haligonian system.

Captain Taine had jumped his ship out at the farthest edge of the Amsus-occupied system, the plan was to give the young pilot in the Predator time to get into position before the Excalibur jumped deeper into the system, releasing its EV-II's in a deadly swarm to make their attack run on the target he was to paint for them.

He checked his systems again, bobbing his wings to let the Excalibur know all was well before he engaged the cruise engines, the fighter slamming itself up to point seven five light speed for its approach to the Haligonian Station.

He slid the protective sun visor back from his eyes as he stared out at the magnificent nebula that shrouded the bright jewel hanging nestled like a broach upon silk. The Jump Nexus was more than a mere gateway to the stars; it was the treasured prize of the Amsus Hegemony, the symbol of their dominance over the once mighty Empire of mankind.

Katz, his blue eyes scanning the horizon plane for any sign that he'd been spotted, glanced down at the small dusty planetoid he was slipping past. The last thing between him and the enemy, he swallowed as he glanced back behind him. The Excalibur, his sanctuary, dwindled into a speck as his engines powered him away from it, and he hoped he'd live long enough to see her again.

To see all of the people he had come to recognize as friends, a family to replace the one lost to the Slavers on Karin...

He bumped the throttle up an inch, using the planetoid's gravitational pull as a slingshot, increasing his closure rate on his target. With the flip of a switch he activated the Amsus IFF and radars. The need to remain hidden was over, he had to look like he belonged, to not arouse suspicion as he made his way through the outer limits of the Amsus patrols. The Threat Detection Display came to life, scrawling text in Amsus as it drew a wavy band of yellow and red as the Predator began to compute the relative positions of the Amsus Combat Air Patrols, the civilian craft entering and existing the system to their various destinations, and more importantly the sentry guns around the station itself.

He began to sweat, watching as the fighter began to creep into the yellow band, indicating that the enemy had a 50/50 chance of picking him up. In a few seconds he would be detected, a few seconds after that he would be challenged as per standard Amsus procedure...

He'd committed the routine to memory; most of the night had been spent with Elias and Masconi driving home to him the Amsus radio signals, acronyms and procedures. If he messed up, even slightly, they'd know he didn't belong and he'd be dead. It was that simple.

He stole a glance over his right shoulder as the sweeping flash of a jump event lit up his cockpit, his hand instinctively reaching up to snap the protective visor back down over his eyes as he breathed tightly into his face mask.

The freighter roared over him, heavy containers and huge engines pulling more outbound commodities for trade on the galactic market. More products of human labor exploited by the Amsus reaping the benefits of conquest and the high demand for quality items. He reefed the fighter down, swinging it about to avoid the protruding radar assembly that set off his onboard collision alarms.

"Down and left," he murmured, remembering Elias's high-pitch squeak every time he had gotten it wrong the night before, and he smiled, thankful that the young engineer had cared enough to sacrifice much-needed rest on the eve of a major battle just to make sure he was okay.

The Predator was unsurpassed in its maneuverability, it curled and dove away from the fighter, his fingers tapping the stick to bring it back on its approach vector, his thumb sorely wanting to flip the safety off of the trigger and opening up on the Amsus freighter that was at point blank range to his guns. He resisted the urge, and focused on his target.

A tone went off in his headset, the enemy search radar pin pointing him as the Threat Detection System went to solid red.

* * *

Midshipman Galadriel looked up from her position beside the plotting board, a hand resting on her headset earpiece listening to the data as the radar operators around the CIC relayed information to her. As the Excalibur's TNC she was responsible for all Tactical, Navigation and Communications, the one point of reference that made sense of all the hurried reports fired from so many different stations and made sure that the Command officers were up-to-date with information as it came in.

"Squadron Leader Katz has just passed the outer Amsus patrols," she reported dutifully as she marked it on the plotting board with a neon green marker. "He's being challenged by Haligonian Station Control..."

"Here we go," Wing Commander Masconi said, looking up from the CIC board where she reached out to slide the small scale-model of the Predator closer to the Amsus-held station.

Captain Taine glanced up from the technical readouts he was studying, looking over his glasses at the model on the board, his eyes flicking over to the Amsus patrol that was bearing down on it.

"He'll be okay," Masconi breathed quietly so that only Captain Taine and Galadriel could hear it.

Galadriel looked away, it wasn't her place to intrude on her Captain's private moment worrying for one of his officers. But if the Captain was worried, he didn't let it show as he nodded his reply to his CAG.

"He's a Paladin," Taine murmured as he leaned down to continue examining the readouts. "I want the strike team up on deck ready to go; once they are clear of the ship recall the CAP and get ready to jump."

* * *

"Cleared." The uninspired, emotionless voice resonated, as Katz breathed a heavy sigh of relief, his finger moving away from the trigger as he pushed the fighter onwards and away from the patrol that could have cut him to pieces if he so much as twitched.

The Predator sprang forward, its engines thrumming and wailing as he powered forward, as if knowing his new master's mind, eager to inflict some vicious evil upon his creators. There was no other way for Katz to describe the feeling the engines and the raked forward design of the Predator gave him. It was a beast of war, and it reveled in the chance to join the fight.

Was that how the Amsus felt when they bore down upon him at the battle for Eisenhower?

He ground his teeth, knowing that at any moment the Excalibur's strike force would tear from the decks of the support carriers and charge through the heart of the Amsus Battle Group he was now plunging into the midst of.

Huge battle cruisers and carriers, deadly Raptors and wings of Predators moving to and fro as they guarded the gate, all under the sanctuary of Haligonian Station, those deadly guns trained on the Jump Nexus, waiting for the inevitable assault from the Imperial fleet waiting on the far side.

It all hinged on one enemy fighter and a former slave from Karin turned fighter ace.

They were all like that though, every single one of the Excalibur's crew. Forged from steel and set in stone.

* * *

"Strike force away!" Galadriel reported turning from her plotting board and taking a step forward. "The EV-II's are forming up into strike formations and are beginning their attack run."

Captain Taine was a model of composure as he looked through the CIC towards the bridge and the station where Lt. Elias stood, staring back at him with wide, hopeful eyes.

Colonels Mayfair and Ramsey entered the CIC, taking up positions at the far sides of the chart table as Wing Commander Masconi nodded her farewell, hurrying down to her flight deck where her Air Group was waiting, readying for their deployment the moment the Excalibur completed its critical jump maneuver.

"Captain?" Colonel Ramsey inquired looking over the tactical board trying to make sense out of the pieces Darien had arrayed, and why he was recalling his fighter screen. "Aren't we going to assault the station?"

Darien looked up again, a puzzled look clouding his furrowed brow. "No, my target's the Jump Nexus." He turned and walked to the edge of the CIC. "Are the fighters aboard?"

"Affirmative," Galadriel nodded. "Last fighter just trapped, the Air boss reports we're all clear..."

"Helm," Darien strode forward, "engage jump drives..."

"Captain?" Ramsey moved forward. "We still have ships in the Haligonian system..."

"I know," Darien replied looking up at the plotting boards. "Wish them luck."

* * *

"Strike One to all EV-II's, ready to party?"

"Ready and able," came the flood of replies.

"Enemy Search Radar, one o'clock, they see us."

"Rog. Won't be long now," Strike leader said into his headset. "Knockers up, ten."

* * *

Katz watched as the EV-II's kicked over the ants-nest, swarms of Predator fighters screaming about from their patrols as they tracked the ten inbound, fast-moving fighters. Katz's gloved fingers stretched towards his fire controls, wanting to join the fight, knowing that he should be there.

It was the first time the Amsus had encountered EV-II's and like the Polians before them, they were totally unprepared for the extreme speed of the ultra-light, booster-enhanced fighters. Clouds of Amsus fighters broke and rushed to attack the EV-II's that blew right past them not even caring they were there.

Katz closed his eyes as yet another wing of Amsus Predators screamed in to intercept the EV-II's. They were desperate now and throwing everything they had into the path of the ballistic fighters barreling through their midst. The Capital ship's pinpoint defenses launched thousands of rounds of ammunition into space as the Aegis Destroyers began to open fire with hundreds of missiles. Space came alive with death.

He didn't have time to worry about his friends, his shipmates nor his own fears. He toggled his target selector switch on the stick and lit up the Jump Nexus. The red halo on the HUD showed that he could hit the massive lattice structure even at that extreme range, but his guns would do nothing, and with a jump drive strapped into his missile bay, his only choice was to activate the laser guiding system, 'painting' the Nexus...

* * *

"Strike Leader, I have a big fat juicy target on my scopes..."

The Strike Leader glanced at his scopes, thumbing the button on his stick and selected the Jump Nexus that hung in the midst of the storm of death, anti-aircraft fire that turned space into fire, erupting missiles that collided with the gunfire, or the stray Predator that swept unawares into friendly fire. His target aquisiton began to warble in his ear as the red halo locked onto the Jump Lattice. He was closing on the Nexus at over 50,000 feet per second, he had just seconds to lock on the target and fire. His finger clenched as he squeezed the trigger releasing the heavy missile slung to the EV-II's fuselage, the newly designed weapon slipping off of its rail and swarming up amidst nine others heading towards its prey.

There was a bright flash from his port quarter, one of the Predators kamikaze-ing one of his EV-II's, the brilliant detonation dying out in the vacuum of space as another life was lost fighting for freedom. The Amsus had adapted, the only way they knew how, to dealing with the fast moving fighters.

A glance at the Center EFIS display showed him the Predators arching about to make a run again, deadly revenge on their mind as the missiles closed the precious few feet to their target.

Strike Leader touched his right rudder pedal, bringing his nose about, the rest of his team knew what they had to do as they collectively reached for the toggles that would activate the jump pods slung under their wings, jump pods that would take them home.

* * *

Katz swallowed as he watched the EV-II's jump, nine pinpricks of light in the hail of explosions and weapons fire that tried to swat them down. He just had moments, the brilliant telltales on his scopes showing that the missiles were almost at the gate. Any moment he would be able to go as well, hopefully before the Amsus noticed the unmoving Predator in their midst guiding the missiles to their target.

His Radar Warning Receiver (RWR) sounded a high-pitched alarm a split second later, confirming his worst fear. He'd been spotted.

He didn't have time to waste, he hammered his throttles full open, he still had to guide the missiles home, but if he was dead... The Preadator slammed him back into the bucket seat as it shrieked and shuddered up to maximum velocity, bearing down on the Jump Nexus a step or two ahead of the missiles.

So long as he kept his nose pointing in the right direction, he tapped the stick causing the Predator to begin a tight barrel roll as he tried to reach for the control that would activate his jump drive.

Behind him ten missiles were gaining on him, his Predator now leading a charge on the titanic structure that filled his cockpit window.

Behind him hundreds of Amsus Fighters were bearing down upon him, adamant to end the threat to their prize once and for all.

He prayed, his fingers flicking the switch, the modified jump drive rotating out of the missile bay and jamming halfway out of its port.

Inside the Predator all hell broke loose as warning alarms and flashing icons assailed him on every monitor. His systems began to shut down as they tried to divert power to the Jump Pods, trying to engage a device that wasn't in position to engage. His afterburners spluttered and died as the fighter began to pitch, pinwheeling end over end as it caught the edge of the Jump Nexus's gravity well.

Katz clung on for dear life, cursing the short Engineer that had sworn to him that the jump drive would work, vowing to...

He watched the pack of assault missiles veering off of target, and Katz felt hope die inside him. He'd lost the target lock, they'd failed to acquire... that was it, he'd failed...

The missiles fanned out as the Predators bore down on the helpless fighter, ignoring the harmless missiles as their outer casings blew away on explosive bolts, exposing their tightly compacted payloads.

The small jump pods flared to life as they hit the appropriate positions around the Jump Nexus. A bright light of pseudo motion moments before the Haligonian Jump Nexus leapt into hyperspace took the crippled Predator fighter with it.

* * *

"I'm reading a massive Hyperspace event," Commander Durnham announced as he turned back to the CIC.

Captain Taine slapped the chart table with joy as, in front of the fleet of warships, the Haligonian Jump Nexus slid out of Hyperspace, almost exactly on the spot where Lieutenant Elias had declared it would.

"Sir," Midshipman Galadriel stepped forward again, as Darien turned, ignoring the looks of shock his officers were giving him as they realized the enormity of what he had just pulled off, "we have incoming Amsus Vessels."

"Sound General Quarters," Darien announced pushing his glasses back on as he walked around the CIC table. "Order all fighters into position and alert the fleet. Our job is to hold the beachhead..." He turned and pointed to the Holographic Commander, "Launch the relay buoy towards the gate, signal the Imperial Fleet that we have the Jump Nexus."

The Excalibur swung about, positioning itself facing the only approach where the Amsus vessels were beginning to flash into existence, its massive guns coming to bear as it hurled death into their unsuspecting hulls, the nuclear arsenal roaring free from the open tubes, flashing utter destruction on the enemy while Masconi's fighters launched their harrying attacks to draw off the Amsus cover fighters.

* * *

There was little for Katz to do but watch the spectacular battle; his fighter was dead in the water, its systems beginning the long restart cycle. If he was lucky he'd be able to rejoin the fight. But for the time being, he sat back and watched the battle.

Captain Taine had done the impossible. The gate flashed as Imperial warships began to streak through, the infamous Red Guard returning to Imperial Space for the first time in over three hundred years, ready to inflict murderous vengeance for centauries of oppression and betrayal.

The small fighter rotated slowly, and Katz marveled at the technologically superior vessels speeding to cover the Excalibur and her small Taïrian fleet. Multi-gun corvettes sliced with their auto-masers into the fighter wings as heavier destroyers moved to counter the Amsus Raptors that were even now trying to gain the upper hand.

And then came the most spectacular sight of them all, a hulking great shape blew through the gate, one of the immense defense stations that had once stood sentinel watch over Earth before VonGrippen had taken it to carry his refugees.

The station was being pulled by dozens of tugs, that separated their mooring lines, as the huge rotating sections' main guns came online and delivered death unto the Amsus battle group. Huge rifts of light as zero-point bores came to bear, discharged and were replaced by a fully charged weapon as it rotated away to recharge.

* * *

"General Jefferson Iver sends his compliments from Sentinel Station," Midshipman Galadriel announced with a smile.

"Return them to him," Darien said with a firm smile as he gestured for Nazzien to cover a pair of Corvettes that were tussling with fighters, "and welcome him to Imperial space."

* * *

He stood staring about the quiet bridge, the din of battle long since over. The Haligonian Jump Nexus was safe and secure behind them as the Excalibur jumped its last few jumps back towards Karin and the much-needed rest and repairs the ship needed before it led the fleet to Earth.

They had earned their beachhead, and with the bulk of the Imperial fleet and Sentinel Station guarding there was little hope for the Amsus to retake that Nexus, not from the strategically secure position that Darien had relocated it to.

He looked at the battle-scarred bridge, the Holographic ghost directing the repairs, Commander Durnham once again serving proudly, as much an officer as any of the flesh-and-blood crew.

Lieutenant Lauren was at the helm, broken and battered behind her eyes, but a fire in the way she had fought. Mayfair hovered close by, ready to give her any support she needed. Maybe when she was ready she would turn to him...

Colonel Ramsey had disembarked at Sentinel Station, his command staff meeting with Geneeral Iver as they planned the inevitable liberation of Earth. His daughter, Wing Commander Masconi stood back in the CIC, the young and brave pilot Alvin Katz beside her, still proudly wearing the nylon flight jacket that had kept him warm in the enemy fighter. The kid had earned the cocky grin he had plastered all over his face as well as the medal he would receive once the Archduke learned of the feat.

Doctor Kyr was below, laboring long after the others had finished their fight, the enigmatic doctor toiling away to save more lives, readying his triage for when he could transport those capable to Karin hospitals.

Nazzien was off somewhere, making a full report to the Orion government, informing them of the sudden shift in power; with the Jump Nexus squarely in Imperial hands, the universe was suddenly open again to the adventurous Orions.

Darien smiled as his eyes settled on the young man facing him, shifting from first one foot to the other, holding a broken piece of circuitry as he grinned at him. Elias, short, hyper and packed with trouble, flashed those mischievous eyes as he worked, deliberately turning to present his bottom as he bent to pick up a soldering iron.

"Need a hand?" Darien asked stepping forward.

"Maybe later," Elias replied taking his time in straightening up as he smiled again, relief in his eyes. Relief that they'd made it, and at least for a short time, they weren't on the run. Dodging people and things out to kill them.

Darien nodded his head, deciding to update his logs, returning to the spartan stateroom and sitting down behind his desk, reaching out for a pen as he stopped, his hand hovering over the mysterious journal.



Copyright © 2011 Topher_Lydon; All Rights Reserved.
  • Like 14
  • Love 7
  • Haha 1
Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
You are not currently following this author. Be sure to follow to keep up to date with new stories they post.

Recommended Comments

Chapter Comments

Great end to the first book.  Can't wait to start the second.  We lost some, we saved some, and some finally admitted their love for each other.

  • Like 1
  • Love 3
Link to comment

What a wonderful ride this has been. I love the characters, who have come to life. 

Can't wait to start reading book 2. 

  • Like 1
  • Love 2
Link to comment
View Guidelines

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Newsletter

    You probably have a crazy and hectic schedule and find it hard to keep up with everything going on.  We get it, because we feel it too.  Signing up here is a great way to keep in touch and find something relaxing to read when you get a few moments to spare.

    Sign Up
  • Create New...

Important Information

Our Privacy Policy can be found here: Privacy Policy. We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue..