"No sir, our intelligence still indicates that they are still in the midst of a great deal of turmoil."
"Sir there is no word in our language that can accurately convey what we have observed. Never has our own civilization done this to are killing themselves in massive quantities over a vast scale of space. And it appears to be very highly organized as well."
"Have we determined the reasons for why they are going through turmoil?"
"I cannot say, though I believe, and this is my own opinion, that it is for personal gain of the participants only."
"Personal gain would make a degree of sense, but only if we were dealing with uncivilized savages, but these beings are of great intelligence and highly technological; they have broken through many barriers in the space of a few years that took our peoples centuries to conquer."
"Regardless sir, it is still our duty to establish contact with these beings. Shall I order the navigators to make a heading for Planet 03?"
"Yes, of course, we still have a mission to complete and we shall complete it."
Rick Thomas boarded his X-3/04 Boeing Starfighter via one of the many long ladders that extended from the roof of the landing bay downward with a grim look on his face. They'd been told that the invasion could come at any time, and that they needed to be prepared, but the damn Eurasians could have waited until the dinner meal ended. Nothing annoyed Thomas more than missing a meal on the account of the damn Eurasians. It was bad enough that they had were launching a campaign to take control of Mars in the first place, but to launch it during the dinner meal? Unacceptable. He almost thumped the X-3's wing but held back. No reason to damage a beautiful piece of machinery on the account of the Eurasians.
The X-3 was shaped like a short, stocky boomerang with a sealed plastic canopy covering the cockpit. Under each wing poked out an atomic disrupter gun, a weapon that would literally vaporize matter when its puling beam made contact. Each fighter was also equipped with space to ground missiles and two energy bombs. They had become the workhorse fighter of the United States Space Fleet. Thomas loved his X-3, he had trained in the older, clunkier Lockheed-Martin V9 'Defender' a strictly space bound fighter that had been shaped like one of those old science fiction movie renderings of an alien flying saucer, but with wings. After learning to fly what his fellow pilots called the saucer the X-3 was like something out of his dreams. It was sleek, fast and heavily armed. It could go anywhere and do almost anything. Back home it might have been a car that Thomas would have obsessed over, but up here orbiting the red planet it was his X-3.
Thomas quickly strapped into his harness as the domed plastic canopy shut over his head. Everything was automatic in the hanger bay. As soon as the canopy shut his engines would automatically power up and the racks that the X-3's hung on would begin rolling the starfighters out into space. From an outside view it looked like the carrier was spitting the smaller space vessels out. As soon as the canopy hissed shut, indicating that the starfighter was sealed from the vacuum of space the rack began to lurch forward. Thomas took the few minutes he had to power up his main computers and strap on his eye-screen. Very much like a translucent computer screen it allowed all of the starfighters internal instruments to be displayed as well as targeting information and his Heads Up Display or HUD. Thomas also popped his comm into his ear and flipped the small switch that activated the communication systems that linked the squadron with the wing and the wing with the rest of the battle group. Voices filled his head as the dozens of computer displays lit up on the instrument panel. Behind him Thomas could feel the matter engine come to a humming start. His hands grasped the starfighters joystick just as the X-3 was flung into the midst of the battle.
"Black Squadron rendezvous at sixty-one, five, thirty-two in attack formation. I repeat, rendezvous at sixty-one, five, thirty-two in attack formation." Thomas clearly heard his Commanders voice over the comm channels, despite the almost constant background chatter. Colonel Mike O'Shea had been Thomas' commander for the past six months, starting when Thomas had been called up as part of the 3rd US Battle group. He was a good man, a competent leader and a great pilot. Thomas reached up and clicked the respond button on the chinstrap of his helmet. "This is black eight, I'm ready to go," he said as he came up on the Colonel's coordinates. The other ten members of the squadron checked in just after him and he could make out the shapes of their white X-3's outside his canopy. In front of them the battle was already waging, the bright bursts of red light that announced the explosion of an energy bomb and the occasional burst of white light that implied a starfighter from either side had been lost. All three of the big US Battleships had engaged the first wave of the Eurasian invasion fleet. It was an awe inspiring sight, the massive battleships, a hundred stories tall if propped up vertically and over ten stories in width. Their anti-spacecraft guns were firing at a constant rate, lighting up the swarming Eurasian starfighters. Off in the far distance the main body of the invasion fleet was just becoming visible. Early intelligence indicated that the Eurasians had at least three dreadnoughts, the European equivalent of a battleship, half a dozen smaller Space Cruisers, two carriers, two wings of fighters, and a full dozen troop ships.
"Black Squadron we have been tasked with intercepted enemy bombers and stopping them before they come in contact with any of our larger ships. Use a loose formation and stick with your wingman no matter what. Good luck"
"Roger that Black lead," replied Thomas and he throttled up his X-3 and hurtled towards the battlefield.
"Black Eight, this is Black Eleven on your wing," said George Roderic, his voice crystal clear in Thomas' head. God he loved the new comm technology. "Roger that Eleven," he replied and powered up his AD guns and flew his X-3 right into the heart of space combat. Around him the bright flashes of energy bombs cast shadows on the sides of the great US Battleships, even as they swatted down the swarms of enemy fighters. O'Shea had told them intercept enemy bombers, and he would do just that. "I've got three bogeys at 12 'o' clock," he said picking out a flight of Eurasian SpaceCorp Bombadiers directly in front of him.
"Roger that, I've got visual confirmation. Switching over to AD guns," came Roderic's reply over the comm. Thomas let his fingers tighten over the kill switch, the button which would fire the first salvo of atomic- disrupter beams. He opened up his target display on his eyescreen and let the slow moving flight of Bombadiers drift into his kill box. As they did the blue border flashed red and Thomas squeezed down on the kill switch; seconds later the flight leaders left wingman exploded in a flash of red light as his matter engine took a direct hit. It was like shooting a pigeon. Behind him Roderic opened fire as well and the second wingman broke off as his starboard wing shattered. "Good shooting eleven," said Thomas over the comm unit. Roderic was just giving his reply when the unidentified ship tore through the center of the battlefield like a bullet through flesh.
Black Eleven never finished his congratulations, his X-3 punched into the gut of the shimmering, flashing unidentified ship and static was all that was left of Roderic. Thomas was a bit luckier, his reflexes a bit sharper, and his flying abilities a bit better. He yanked up on the stick and pushed forward the throttle on his matter engine. His X-3 groaned as it was put through more stress than it had ever gone through before. Thomas flickered in and out of consciousness. His mind was filled with the screams and yells of his comrades.
"Black Three pull up, pull up!"
"Oh, God look at that."
"Black Squadron this is Black Lead, break off, I repeat, break off from the attack."
"Jesus Christ, what the hell is that thing?"
"Cut the chatter Black Squadron."
Slowly, painfully slowly, the nose of the X-3 began to tilt upwards and he flew free of the gigantic space vessel. Only then was Thomas able to really study what he had almost hit. The unidentified vessel was at least three times the size of the US Space Fleet's biggest battleship, but instead of the boxy, jagged look of most human ships this vessel was shaped like a giant raindrop and it had a very liquid look about it. Unlike a human ship it was not one color, but a shimmering, changing range of hues, sometimes as yellow-white hot as the sun and other times as blue-green as the ocean. It was captivating, and Thomas found he couldn't take his eyes off the thing. Around him the battle slowed as the ship continued moving forward. Thomas watched as another two Eurasian fighters slammed into the sides of the giant space ship, bright flashes of red followed .
"Unidentified Ship, this is Admiral Delachance of the United States Space Fleet. Identify yourself." The gruff voice of Delachance cut through the chatter like a knife through butter. Thomas noticed that the dozens of background commands and conversations stopped as soon as he began talking. He also noticed that his message was being broadcast on all channels.
"I repeat, Unidentified Ship, identify yourself." Thomas wondered what would happen if the unknown ship didn't identify itself. Surely Delachance would never open fire on anything as beautiful as that thing. Thomas was still pondering the beauty of it when a single beam of light, so intense he was forced to shield his eyes, launched out of the ship and swallowed up his X-3. Thomas screamed as the intense white light blinded him, and he kept screaming even after it swallowed him and the X-3 up.