The 309th was rudely awakened by the call to General Quarters. Because of the late night partying on Macross, some of the pilots were a little more groggy than usual. It didn’t help that it was only 0430hrs. The ready room was filled with the smell of coffee and energy drinks.
The room seemed to sway in the storm as LTC Osman continued his briefing, "Gentlemen, welcome to the final phase of training. Sea Combat Trials is the most realistic training scenario we will offer, and will replicate a realistic full-scale combat operation to test everyone aboard the ship. If you have free time, I highly suggest you sleep because it will be in short supply the next two weeks.
We have just been alerted of a disabled vessel. A cargo ship is dead in the water and was sending out distress calls until about 30 minutes ago. Weather is hindering our recon efforts, but the ship has sustained damage. I have already spoken to the flight leaders, and the 309th will be dividing its combat elements. Alpha will be flying CAP in sector three, and Bravo will investigate the cargo ship in sector one. Charlie will CAP sector two. I shouldn’t have to say this, but under no circumstances are you to allow anyone through the CAP. If enemy forces breach the perimeter, the exercise is over.
“Weather outside is pretty crappy – we’ve got high winds, and some of the waves seem like they’re hitting the flight deck. You’ll be relying heavily on instruments. Dismissed.”
Alpha is soon in the air, and FIG JAM orders Harper and Lee to stay low, while he and Van perform overwatch. The near hurricane force winds force them to continually make corrections to maintain some semblance of a formation, and the rain makes visibility near zero. Radio chatter from Bravo is pretty minimal, when Harper’s voice crackles over the comm, “Gentlemen, I’m picking up three…no, four contacts. Fast movers about 50 miles out.”
The distance is quickly closed and Alpha’s comms are full of expletives and the sound of electronic warning buzzers. Two Falcons and two UF-14s unleash an angry swarm of missiles and simunitions into the air as Harper and Lee’s Valkryie’s systems start shutting down from the simulated damage. Harper radios for assistance as his missiles dispatch one of the Falcons. A female voice comes over the air and states, “Falcon 042 and UF-14 367 are out of the fight and RTB.”
Harper blinks twice and his pucker factor goes up. He sees a Veritech unlike any he’s ever seen before, and it was heading right for him. If its camo paint wasn’t sinister enough, the extra jet packs and armor plating gave it an even more menacing appearance. It was hugging the water just inches from the surface, and jinking back and forth to avoid any pop-up waves. It almost seemed like slow motion as four large missiles streamed out of the jetpacks and headed towards Lee.
Lee yells, “Where’s our backup?!?” as his plane registered several hits and the radio went silent. His controls responded sluggishly, and he noted his damage displays showed one of his ventral fins was gone. That explains the radio, he thought to himself. He tried to climb out of the way of two more incoming missiles and realized his flaps weren’t responding as sharply as they should have. So much for evasion.
Harper and Lee begin trading shots with the enemy Veritech, but its armor was allowing it to survive far more hits than their planes. Adding to their difficulty was the uncanny reflexes of the pilot – the bastard actually deflected one of Harper’s missiles with a spinning kick! “Dammit Caldwell? Where the fuck are you?!? We can’t hold out much longer!”, yelled Harper.
Lee’s sensors registered several more impacts. He sighed, then signaled the ATC that he was done and was going to RTB. He flipped a few switches to reset his plane, and began climbing to a safe altitude to watch his squadronmates.
“We just splashed the other Falcon and 14,” says Van, “and now we’re inbound.”
“Watch your fucking tone, Harper. I can’t get good angle on him!” interrupted FIGJAM. He rolls his plane to reposition, but to Van it looks like the pansy was running to preserve his KDR. No one could ever get him to confirm it, but his behavior definitely suggested to Van that Caldwell was chasing some imaginary stats leaderboard. He couldn’t stand the guy, but his scorn was far less than Harper’s.
“That chickenshit asshole!”, thought Harper. He furiously worked the controls and sent a few more missiles towards the VT’s rear and yelled in triumph as his sensors registered massive damage to the jetpacks, and rendered one leg inoperable. He sped towards the bogey as it seemed to lose control and slump into the waters.
He saw Van struggling to fend off a Lancer, and went off to help. As he flew over the spot the bogey went down, his sensors triggered a proximity alarm on his six. He glanced into the mirrors and saw an apparition rising from the depths.
“Holy shit! This dude is fucking Poseidon!”
Harper barely had time to roll his plane before his plane registered more missile impacts, and additional systems shut down. He continued his barrel roll and popped more decoys in an attempt to avoid anymore damage, but it was too late. His displays lit up with “Aircraft destroyed” messages, and he radioed the ATC. As he began his climb, he heard Caldwell proclaim, “Fox Two! Fox Two!”
Figures, he thought. He banked and headed back to the Prometheus.