#Sciencefiction #Spaceopera #Starshatter #TwinSunsOfCarrola #TreadsOfVengeance
The scout fighter pilot's callsign was “Fuzzy”, which was not entirely and in any way related to his racial features. Indeed bunnies had, at least some, short fuzzy hair. His, in fact, was longer than most, and for the life of him couldn't understand back then when his flight instructor Capt. Jericho gave him the callsign, nor now fathom why. His white, brownish and intricately spotted fur was well hidden beneath a pilot's spacesuit now, a standard CN issue. That was as far as standard equipment went around his squadron and this was being distributed by one of their suppliers back on his colony of birth, Oreola Secundis. What he and his wingmen piloted though, was anything but a standard issue craft. Scout fighters were often used to screen bigger starships and collect additional scan-data; yet by design, the scout's weaponry was limited, even though their size was the same as other space superiority fighters. Instead of multiple weapon mounts, the scout fighter had extras; like powerful sensor arrays, extended fuel tanks, and atmospheric wings. Its main weapon array was used primarily for self-defense since the purpose of a scout was not to defeat the enemy but rather locate it and fly back to its base bearing the priceless scan-data. Some fighters were also equipped with top of the line engines to give them a much-needed edge in speed. In stark contrast with most navies, Terran scouts often carried jury-rigged fuel pods, sensor decoys, and even long-range missiles.
His industrious human patrons often made use of battlefield salvage to construct more scout craft. Scout squadrons employed by CN units like his were a force recon unit and as such, more numerous and often accompanied by retro-fitted shuttlecraft. Those provided on the spot refuel & rearm and can always pick up ejected pilots if need be. According to what he was taught about Terran combat doctrine, the scout fighters' secondary objective was to destroy their enemy counterparts, therefore mitigating the enemy's ability to ward against any future ambushes. Fighter pilots in the CN flew their scouts as if they were piloting standard SSF fighters. The fact that these ships weren't that heavily armed meant nothing to the experienced pilots of the Terran Minarchy. A fleet, a carrier or a base without its scouts was a vulnerable target. CN pilots often used their superior skills accumulated during years of piloting scout fighters to a devastating effect. CN scout wings made use of their scanning arrays to trick their enemies by creating ghost targets. Many times outright confusing and overpowering the enemy sensor operators and giving their allies a much-needed edge in combat.
His own unit based on board of the 'Surcouf' was given the choice to volunteer for a mission of great importance and “Fuzzy”, stepped forward, just like the rest of his wingmates. Now, after a whole set of hyper-jumps facilitated by their support craft and refueling on the move, his squadron the “Gruff Shooters” entered the outskirts of the Gaour system. Immediately after the modified shuttle which was his wing's support craft dissipated its hyper-jump silhouette, they all set their systems on condition white. The only thing their spacesuits had better than those sold on the open markets was their life support system. It was shielded, reinforced and made to conceal the life signature of its wearer. How successful would that work against someone equipped with a system strong sensor array, was yet to be tested in the field. Fuzzy gulped nervously and punched his part of the system's navigational data into the mainframe. There were a set number of nav-points that each craft had to scout, with their long-range sensors set on passive mode as to not alert any possible enemies who might be lurking about. Operational parameters were simple – do not get seen, nor detected but scout/scan everything that you could, and return back with the data. It was the best scout fighter pilot's job description if he'd seen one, ever. They were given specific orders not to engage in combat, not unless absolutely necessary. This meant that if you are even in a remotely close chance to be detected – run like hell. What he expected though was that they might get jumped by cloaked fighters and forced to accept the fight. Why cloaked? The Jaern were using those types of shields excessively and had them installed on all of their ships. Even their motherships he was told, had one.
His lonely machine slowly drifted on course towards the next nav-point, engines off and systems cold.
“Textbook execution of system condition white, cadet!”
Captain Jericho would rumble under his mustache, before lecturing Fuzzy and the rest about something else, equally as important as his knowledge of system operations. The diligent bunny had basically memorized the entire EWS combat manual from cover to cover, and then some. Thankfully, nobody caught him after he had unknowingly hacked the local G-net systems node and downloaded some obscure set of alien holo-books detailing the same subject.
“Improvise, adapt, overcome and survive!”
That was also something that his cadet master, Capt. Jericho would mention fondly, and multiple times over their apprenticeship. They have memorized it and even said it with the same gruff tone of voice that their teacher used. This was indeed a training course most unusual, in fact, despite the traditionally accepted ways, they had only one single master and many students – just like some of the big colonial academies. Back then the situation wasn't cabbagey at all; a large enemy force was preparing to invade their system and all youngsters were transported off-world to an undisclosed training facility, far away from the battle-zone they thought. That, in fact, was not to be the case, and Fuzzy together with his fellow cadets and their captain had to join the battle, despite the fact that their education was not yet fully completed.
Fuzzy's sensor array caught something an hour later when he was flying around the third and final nav-point. His paws rapidly flew over the sensor controls. Condition white for a scout fighter meant that except his main sensor array working on minimal power, everything else was turned off. That was the case even with their maneuvering thrusters – CN had their craft retrofitted with low yield chemical rockets. Limited fuel capacity, but no high energy spikes that might increase their energy signature, and what was best, they produced considerably less heat than the plasma drives. After a short fight with his sensor controls, Fuzzy produced at first on the optical array a couple of excellent holo-slides of one large and well-hidden enemy asteroid outpost. It had just splashed on his screens because some supply vessel was being engulfed in its cloaking field, warping and amplifying the background star echo coming from a distant Pulsar.
Fuzzy grinned from ear to ear behind his spacesuit's faceplate – Improvise.
On one side he could lurk here for a minute more, then try to slip undetected after performing a passive scan of that base, he might even discover their cloaking shield's wavelength. Then again he might get easily discovered by the enemy... It was a trade-off, an eternal battle with time where everything counted, each second another nail in your coffin, yours or your enemy's. Perhaps if he could re-calibrate the main sensor array to use the Pulsar's song and analyze how it got devoured by the cloaking shield, maybe then he could find its weak spots. He was all about risk, calculated risk or none at all. Fuzzy invested the thirty-six seconds that he needed to perform that initial re-calibration and waited for another fifty-five until the next radio wave pulse had hit their shields. The suit's life support, although extended had its limits; Fuzzy had already reached them and was, in fact, surpassing them, concentrating on his work and trying to slow his breathing as much as possible – Adapt.
He was already noticing the lack of oxygen slowing him down. Fuzzy waited two more minutes and held as long as his trained body could – Overcome.
Securing the last terabytes of scan-data, hundreds of holo-slides and having recorded the Pulsar's song, Fuzzy first activated the life support system of his scout fighter. Then used what fuel was left in the tanks of those chem-boosters to set a new course, he'd in fact slowly drifted away from the last nav-point and dangerously close to that enemy base. If he should activate his engine here, they'd notice him immediately even on low burn, for he had divined the purpose of that Jaern facility – it was an advanced hyperspace inhibitor. Those were expensive and rarely used, though the very fact they had one deployed here in this system meant that whatever it was down on Gaour prime, they were ready to protect it at all costs. This modified huge asteroid would pull most big ships out of hyper-jump prematurely, conveniently close and in range of its powerful big guns, mines, and tractor beams. CN command may have had plans for this system, though they now had to rethink them and/or drastically reevaluate their entire strategy. That was not Fuzzy's main concern right now, for he was about to fly on full engine burn, his job was not yet completed. Not enough it was that he'd got the intelligence, the data had to be delivered back and Fuzzy flipped the main engine power switch, spooling his plasma chamber. Nearby, and suspiciously close on his six, as if by some obscure, magic spell, decloaked one entire squadron of enemy ships – scout fighters.
So they were fast, quick, although not that well-armed perhaps. Fuzzy smirked and activated all his systems, there was no point hiding anymore. The engine of his fighter spewed hot drive plasma, quickly increasing his speed and while the enemy fell back for a moment, their fighters soon caught up. A fleeting hope it was, that he'd be faster than they were...
He used the thrusters to turn around and began locking one after the other, naming each one of his long-range missiles a target; then ran the EWS system on full sensor interference punching the big red button that said “Fire all missiles” on it. For a moment it looked like his missiles would all hit, and the enemy craft with sensor screens full of noise would lose him. He shot down half of them dead. The rest... well they caught up behind him and began firing their PPG's. From a distance he had the advantage; his craft already reached its maximum engine burn so he used the maneuvering thrusters to dodge their incoming fire as best he could, while firing back at them with his auto-railgun. He was so close to the Exfil point! Fuzzy only needed to get close enough so that his mainframe could establish a secure connection with the support craft and upload the data.
Nothing else mattered now more than survival!
This is a small excerpt from my third Starshatter book "Treads Of Vengeance" which should come out soon on Amazon!
Did you like this alternative history universe? You can read more in my self-published books on Amazon:
Twin Suns Of Carrola - Starshatter book 2