Fires of Gehenna

The com-net is silent but for, “Blue 6 is down,” and a second later, “Blue 7 is down,” and a second later, “I think they’re four of—”

That was Blue-2.

I align myself astern of a bogey, Blue 5 sealing off its exit. Gritting my teeth, my vision precise despite the violent vibrations rocking the cockpit, lifting and depressing the pedals at my feet, both hands on the stick, the computer auto-correcting my course, and the weapons system activating my crosshair. I can’t get it to stick. The bogey jumps all across my line-of-sight, controlled by at least a dozen small boosters at its ankles, elbows, back, wrists, and hips. My targeting system’s recalibrations reset the crosshair violently, I queue up most of my Pucks missiles for the shot, certain I’ll have this sole opportunity before being annihilated.

The targeting system goes yellow, indicating a partial lock, and it’s all I need. In case someone is out there, I call, “Blue 4, Pucks-2, firing!” My finger is on the trigger before I finish the words, and the bogey thrusts high, changing the angle of ascent on the Pucks—wide-set missiles resembling hockey-pucks when viewed from the bottom—and using this modified lift, the bogey launches a blanket of countermeasures and an assault of fire so massive that, what didn’t intercept the Pucks, creates something similar to sunrise when detonating the ground.

I’m on the com-net. “Blue leader, the bogey shot down the Pucks.”

Blue leader responds. “Blue team, stay engaged.”





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