Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 linked below:
==Uss August, hanger bay==
--Morning after the new pilot came aboard--
After meeting the new fighter-pilot the night before Zoteke had asked Jeanette, who had a night shift, if she could make sure the preparations for the flight he and the young Corporal were taking were done in time. He'd asked her to set the two up ready for launch and load the weapon systems with simulation gear.
Phasers would fire, hit but do no more damage than a little scorching. Projectiles would be tipped with a sensor-ping warhead which expelled an electromagnetic pulse on impact.
When he walked into the hanger that morning he noticed the Sparrow and one of the Peregrines lined up in front of the hangar bay doors. He noticed the Peregrine was the one with the latest upgrades and cutting edge tweaks on it. They'd only cleared the Peregrine and its upgrades after the last sortie and the other Peregrine's would be fitted to the specs of this one over the coming days.
As he began to make the inspection round circling the Peregrine and then the Sparrow the doors to the bay swished open. Jason met his superiors gaze, his flight helmet, now newly made in the squadrons colors, in his left arm. His name clearly seen on it, as well as "Cpl. Jason" Bullseye" Trask", a nickname well deserved. He had an 85 percent kill ratio in his training wing, the highest, even more then his instructors.
"morning sir, i see the peregrine has been fitted with the latest in the field" he said, snapping a salute.
"Good morning Corporal. I was about to do a visual inspection round of both the birds, as i always do before taking a bird out. At least, when there's time to..." Zoteke said, his mind flashing images of scrambling for intercept duty. "So... Are you ready to take her out for a spin?" He asked, pointing at the Peregrine. He wondered which, if any, of the modifications made to the Peregrine that stood ready to go the young Corporal would identify and what he'd think of the bird.
Jason set his helmet on a nearby cargo container, and grabbed a tricorder, padd, and a diagnostic tool he flipped open. One of the access panels to a flight computer was open, he stood off her from the nose, and after plugging in the diagnostic tool he let it run. As he also performed a visual inspection, carefully checking the interlocks on the "training torpedoes" were flight ready, and making sure they were secure, he also checked her exhausts and the very limited moving flight surfaces.
Zoteke suppressed a smile. It was good to see the young kids still learned to do the visual walk around as well as use their tricorders. This kid didn't miss a beat. "Hmm I'm very impressed" Trask smiled as his pre-flight diagnostic beeped.
"Sir, it won't be a problem if i maintain her myself, should i earn a bird, will it? I made it a habit of always keeping my training bird clean, waxed, maintained etc. myself, as best i could, i take a lot of pride in my wings, and this set will do just fine. I would however make her flight controls more sensitive though, the "zulu" upgrades, tend to get a bit sluggish with the stick, i hope it won't be a problem" he finished as he now climbed inside, to start a preflight check
"Well, regular maintenance wouldn't be a problem of course. It'd take work out of the engineers hands. But as far as performance altering modifications, i'd prefer you coordinate with Ens. Calloway." Zoteke answered with a frown. Seeing the look on the Corporal's face he explained "For me and the helm it's important to know that all the birds have the same performance envelope when we develop our maneuvers. If we base those off specs one of the birds isn't up to we could have major problems." Zoteke answered hoping to temper the enthusiasm a bit.
"Understandable, i mean its been a good month since i first flew the "zulu" model, so maybe they tweaked it". He ran over his preflight checks again checking to see everything responded, as he warmed up the fighters computer, verifying each diagnostic manually
"Concentrate on flying for now, i understand you're good and i know you got 'the right stuff' but your still a little green on the experience side. We're doing frontier flying kid. It's a whole different ballgame out in the fringes." he added. " I personally picked the August not because my father was aboard, but because of just that very reason, frontier flying, i'm eager to accept any input you offer, sir and who knows i may even offer some myself" Jason finished as he now ran through engine start tests, before finally kicking the fighter over, she hummed quietly every fiber in Jasons body was itching to just launch.
He knew better, first impressions mattered and he wasn't cocky like most of his training wing was, deliberately buzzing traffic and such ,no that wasn't Jason.
Satisfied the kid would be all right he climbed up into the Sparrow's cockpit and did his own checks. When they were both finished and helmeted the canopy closed and Zoteke requested permission for departure. The hangar bay doors opened and the force field snapped to a different color, indicating it was clear for the fighters to go through.
Kicking the throttle just a bit the sparrow sped out into the vast vacuum of space. "Lets go, try to keep up. We're starting with a little follow the leader so you'll get a feel for the differences between what you're used to and this Peregrine." Zoteke ordered and waited for the young Corporal to form up on his wing.
"Ready?" Zoteke asked.
Jason nudged his throttles forward, noticing right off both could be controlled differently unlike his training bird, a valuable asset he made note of, as he retracted his birds gear and eased her out he saw the sparrow in all her graces.
"beautiful set of wings there boss, im already over here" as he keyed up his weapons hud the words "SAFE" flashing in the center
"Here we go" Zoteke said, bracing himself into his seat. Following protocol he nudged out his Sparrow into open space, cleared the August by 50 meters and glanced over to the Peregrine noticing it following his lead be it somewhat jittery. He smiled thinly thinking back to when he'd first launched off another ship instead of a runway or other planet bound facility.
Then he kicked the engines and pulled his stick back violently sending the Sparrow into a 90 degree angle compared to his previous direction. Then he twisted the stick, with which he flicked the machine upside down and then kicked back on the engines. He then pushed the stick forward and to the left before again kicking up the engines.
Jason made a note of the limited maneuvers his CO had performed, well aware the sparrow was more nimble than his bird. He never the less, pinned his throttle and matched the first pitch, almost mirror like. Noticing both that this wasn't a simple joyride anymore and that he was now being tested, Jason braced himself, and started matching maneuvers as best the peregrines frame and specs would allow, all the while staying in the cone behind the sparrows exhaust as if he was masking his own signature in her wash.
Zoteke kept a close eye on his readouts, tracking the exact position of the Peregrine in relation to his Sparrow. He'd been careful to stay within the performance envelope of the Peregrine with his moves but only just. The kid was hanging on like a pit-bull. No matter how gut wrenching the turn was, the Peregrine took only half a second to identify the move he was making and which input to the controls it would take to do the same.
"Nice work there Corporal. I doubt there's more than 2 pilots on the August that'd be able to match those moves. With you that’ll be three." Zoteke told Jason, aware that affirming his good performance was as important as chewing down the bad ones.
Then with genuine mischief in his thoughts he challenged "Care to make it more interesting?" he asked as the Peregrine pulled up to his wing again.
"Ooorah" he replied "lets do this"
Zoteke smiled. He had hoped the kid would be up to this level, and was curious to see where the limits lay for this young fighter-jock. A thought entered his mind, but he hesitated. He had setup a testing grounds of sorts, in and around a nearby star-system with only lifeless rocks and a small gas giant orbiting a medium sized star.
On some of the lifeless planets he'd set up analogues for Planet based defense phasers and he'd left drones posing as enemy fighters behind a moon of another. Then he had hidden an orbital platform in the upper atmosphere of the Gas giant. He wondered if he should make the challenge a bit harder for the kid, by acting as a bogey himself. He came to a decision.
"Okay kid, tell you what. I'm usually not so quick in ramping up the difficulty levels of a test or checkout, but seeing your flying i think you just might be up to it." he told Jason."On your nav you'll find a waypoint marked. When we break you are to go to the waypoint and await the start signal. It will come from a probe inside the star-system nearby.
Upon receiving the signal you are to enter the system. Your mission is to investigate the system, and locate the probe that sent the signal. Recover the data from it's main computer and then return to the away point." Zoteke communicated his orders.
"Just think of the waypoint as being the August which has dropped out of warp outside an unexplored star-system." He added.
Jason smiled, keying up his Tactical displays and "master arming" his entire peregrine. After a few test pings with the torpedo targeting systems he opened his comlink "understood a snatch and grab of sorts, get in find the data and get out"
Thinking this would be all the mission data the kid would have in RL he decided not to answer the last remark and just go as if he’d not heard it.
"BREAK!" Zoteke said to the comm., kicking his engines up to full power and then slamming on the reserve energy stored by leaking off the excess energy during maneuvering. Before Jason could blink his eyes the Sparrow was out of sight, at nearly the speed of light. Just a second later, it disappeared from all other sensors as well.
Zoteke had Jeanette program the computers so that they could be told to ignore a specific sensor return. This would make things more difficult for the enthusiastic Corporal, Zoteke thought.
"hmm shes fast" he said into his empty cockpit ensuring the fighter responded properly to a one man crew setup. He punched his engines peeling off, tapping into his pulse phaser capacitors for a small extra burst of speed, careful to save his "afterburner”.
Normally a combat op would mandate shields remain powered, Jason however configured his to an "Active stand-by" of sorts. If he got a hostile lock of any kind they would kick on otherwise they would feed his impulse drives, allowing him to run roughly at 110% impulse. He tempered his nerves, calmed down and focused himself. Arriving at the location he tensed, and upon getting the start signal he didn't hesitate in kicking his engines to full power.
He prepared to enter the merge, he was a marine so he would adapt, improvise and overcome. He had a few tricks up his sleeve anyway.
--A little while later--
The various sensor drones and relays he'd hidden inside the star-system the Peregrine was now entering at full impulse would give Zoteke a perfect overview of what was going on inside the system. He'd positioned himself behind the gas giant in which the Mission's objective was hidden. He'd be surprised if the Peregrine would make it all the way but if it did, he'd be able to throw in an extra surprise if he felt he need to.
The dot representing the Peregrine was nearing the first of the little surprises he'd encounter. On a small asteroid in the system's outer ranges he'd hidden a simulated automated phaser cannon. A bleep told Zoteke the Peregrine had tripped it's sensors. On the asteroid the simulated phase-cannon opened fire, spewing Massive and deadly amounts of simulated phased energy blasts at the Peregrine fighter.
Jasons lock warnings tripped but he had reacted before his computers told him too, he had been scanning the rocks and had been looking when he saw the pulse cannon fire his hud had illuminated the simulated rounds at about his three o clock position, so he rolled almost as soon as he saw it a few hits grazing his shields he had to be faster.
"so this is what he had planned, i better take the training wheels off then" he said as he quickly cracked his knuckles and pushed his impulse drive into the low red range of his afterburner as he started clinging to nearby rocks when mongering the turrets targeting lock and the asteroids metallic content
"hmmm... mabye" jason dove for the rock hugging it with only meters to spare as he was about to pull up he let a burst of his phasers go, they may of been on training levels but would still kick up dust and debris realizing this he started seeing phasic simulation rounds go wild as he powered through the debris he fired on the turret, destroying it with about a six second burst.
Seeing that he moved on hugging the rocks to try to sneak into area instead of powering through the defenses, he knew he was outgunned he wanted to show the commander his stuff but he figured a smarter approach would be better then a strong arm one, besides if combat came into the picture he again still had a few aces, it was the possibility of the sparrow being included that worried him