Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Chapter Thirty-nine

Stone watched on his HUD as the first of the ships slipped from the shuttle bay and disappeared into space. A second followed it and then he joined the line. The blinking rally lights on the rear of the lead ship told him which direction his flight leader had taken. Stone turned his ship, increased the power, and caught up quickly.

Stone took a wing position and once the last of the craft joined the formation, they increased their power, accelerating away from the fleet.

They made a long looping turn, flew over the fleet once, and watched as the first of the infantry shuttles begin to slide into space under them. As they began to fan out, the fighter craft raced over them and took up a position in front of them. They would lead the infantry to the planet, sweeping any opposition away before the troop carriers, the slicks, could be engaged and destroyed.

They entered light speed together, but once the transition was made, Stone could no longer see the other ships through his tiny windshield. Instead, he held his position in the formation based on the HUD. The computer, sensing the locations of the other ships, showed their position on the heads up so that Stone could avoid them.

Stone flipped on the auto pilot which would maintain his position in the formation. He reached down, tugged at the straps of his seatbelt and shoulder harness. It was an almost unconscious act. All throughout the flight, he would check his belts repeatedly, as if he believed they would somehow become loose.

He flew on in silence, watching the progress of the flight on the HUD. The enemy system was marked at the top, showing their progress toward it. He dozed once or twice jerking awake after only a few minutes. He'd then check the HUD, see that they were closer to the destination, and then relax.

As they approached the enemy system, Stone changed the sensor array, now searching for signs that there were enemy ships out there but he found nothing that didn't belong. If the enemy had any ships, he was not sending them out to intercept the flight. Stone and his flight entered the enemy system unopposed. It wasn't exactly what he expected but it was certainly better than having to fight his way in.

"Blue flight, let's spread it out and decelerate to sub light. Respond in flight order."


Stone touched a button for his radio. "Three."


"Decelerate on my mark. Now."

Stone used the stick to send the message to the flight computer. The ship slowed rapidly and dropped into sub light speed. There was little to tell him that the transition had been made except for the instrumentation. Looking out the windshield now, he could see the stars had returned to normal. Space looked as it was supposed to look. And Stone could see the enemy's home star in the center of it's system, glowing bigger and brighter than any of the other stars around it. They were about to invade it.

"Let's get ready people. Here we go."

Stone didn't understand why someone always had to say that regardless of the circumstances.

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