By Brittney MacDonald, Life & Style Editor
Ghost switched the comm system to the internal channel, making sure only her fellow pilots would hear. It made the feed harder to tap into if they stayed off the main wave, the master control could switch their radios back anytime they had to issue direct orders.
“Burst pattern, search and destroy.” The order was direct and short. It told the others to move all around the station, to find the enemy and take them out quickly. “Radio coordinates when you find them.”
“Understood,” Angel replied.
The hanger doors opened slowly, dragging out every unbearable second.
“Four and Seven, take the left. One with me on the right. Circle around, keep in radio contact.”
It was with that that the four ships left the hanger, each one flying off in a different direction. Rabbit and Watcher veered off to the left and out of sight. Ghost immediately took the right, higher angle, knowing Angel preferred the lower sub levels.
The Mercury Three was fluid, slicing through the sky like needled silver. Ghost scanned every nook and cranny, trying to also pay close mind to where the soldiers flew in case they were quicker to pick up coordinates. But all they did was go after the obvious. Attacking the battle ship rather than defending the station itself. She took a deep breath, continuing her search and hoping the others were alright.
“Mercury Four confirmed sighting. Calling team to coordinates axis head nine, sector three.”
“Alright Watcher, I got you,” Ghost replied. “Do not engage till Mercury Seven approaches. Everyone switch to light rounds, get them away from the station before you bring out anything bigger. Mercury One position?”
“Axis sub five, sector one oh one,” Angel replied almost instantaneously.
“I’m sector one fifteen, meet and follow me in,” Ghost ordered.
“Mercury Seven status?” Her stomach was in her throat as she awaited the reply, each second that passed one more moment that Watcher risked being spotted without any back up.
“On approach already Ghost,” came Rabbit’s voice over the comm.
She breathed a sigh of relief as she moved her ship out towards the coordinates given. Out of the corner of her eye she saw the Mercury One move in to fly beside her. “Mercury Three and One on approach, arrival in two.”
“Confirmed, engaging now.” Watcher’s voice was calm and collected, like he wasn’t about to enter battle with an enemy that he had seen kill so many before. But such was his way. The teen was an expert at compartmentalizing. He’d be scared later.
Ghost and Angel moved quickly, their team mates coming into view as they approached the opposite side of the ship that they had been searching. Without words, each knew what they were to do. Mercury One and Three split off from their parallel path, coming around to flank the group of fighters that Watcher had discovered. Ghost’s arrival was seamless. The Mercury Three like a scalpel cutting through the folds of flesh. Her fingers tightened on the globes, the controls turning red as her ship fired on the enemy fighters, trying to herd them away from the station walls. The combat was chaotic, Ghost saw flashes of her team mates, but focused her attention more on avoiding enemy fire and not crashing. The comms were open. She heard every scream and curse the others uttered, but nothing sounded immediate.
Ghost continued to fire on the enemy ships. Crying out when one managed to get a shot in over her right wing. The ship was linked to her mind, every dent and graze she felt as her own. The pain called her back, made her fly more with instinct rather than logic. The Mercury Three darted around erratically, moving with speed and grace in a pattern no one could predict. It was the advantage of the Mercury series. The pilot’s reflexes controlled everything; there was not response time because there was no steering wheel. The ship simply went where the pilot willed it.
Ghost caught sight of a fighter on her tail. She corkscrewed and darted around the others trying to rid herself of the determined ship, but it was to no avail. The enemy fighter sent out shots mid chase that Ghost was barely able to dodge. She screamed in frustration as she tried to circle around to catch the other’s back end. The enemy pilot was fast, realising her intent and burning out his own engines on full blaze to avoid the nose of the Mercury Three. Ghost felt a stabbing pain shoot up her spine as he caught one over the back of her hull. Tears fell freely down her cheeks as she arched like a strung bow and tried to ignore the ache. She screamed again, this time in pain as he managed to hit the same spot once more. Lining it up perfectly with the intention of weakening her craft’s integrity. Ghost turned the gauge of the painkillers up before letting the Mercury Three fall into a nose dive. The ship followed just as she had expected. The B-pilot waited, watching with careful eyes and hiccupping breaths before another ship made its way into her path. She didn’t have time to see what it was, only if it was ally or not, which it definitely wasn’t. She turned the Mercury Three ever so slightly, grazing past the other ship in her streamlined craft in a way she was sure the other fighter couldn’t accomplish. Ghost pulled back, bringing the front of her ship up in a sudden climb just as the enemy crashed into the ship she had flew past full on. Ghost watched as both ships exploded and burst into silent flame. Pieces from each craft forced outward like fireworks. The teen watched with a soft gasp, unable to make herself deny the beauty of it.
“Wow,” she whispered eyes wide. She raised a hand to push back her visor, getting the full effect of the impact through the windowed roof of the Mercury Three.
“Ghost?!” Angel’s worried cry cut through the younger pilot’s reverence.
“I’m fine,” Ghost replied; all childhood wonder erased from her voice. “Status?”
The comm channel switched suddenly, but no words came in over the speaker. Only a bell to tell them to head back; It was over for now.