Fires of Gehenna

Blue leader is quick. “Blue team, go hot—peel off and engage!”

All right, now we do our ass-kicking thing.

The SR-19s roar in aggression, each taking a different course to engage the target, some directly, others attempting to flank, all of us out of our line of fire. I jink out of possible engagement, bringing my aircraft around. Using voice commands, I tell the onboard AI of my simulation selection. It fine-tunes the fighter for optimum operation in a micro-second, the weapons bays recede, the weapons safety released, the go-symbol green as the engines kick. I see the others. I don’t need to talk with them. For all our disagreements, as individual persons, when it comes to the skies, none of us are surprises to the other.

We fly like a unit. We kill without remorse.

And something is wrong.

In the spurts of explosions, the flashes of gunfire, or in the small side-displays where the AI feeds enhanced images of the target, I see a device unlike any I’ve encountered before. It is no plane, that’s for sure. It appears like a giant humanoid, four limbs, a head, hands and feet, save the shoulders are like shoulder pads, and they appear to shoot tightly packed micro-missiles similar to our Pucks.





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