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Author Topic: Battle Beyond the Skies: new AF fan-fic  (Read 2358 times)

Sundance

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Battle Beyond the Skies: new AF fan-fic
« on: February 22, 2013, 10:55:29 AM »

Somewhere high in the Austrian Alps
August, 1985

Anna Conda strode into the command centre of the castle owned by her Cobra Europe deputy and looked around. A Tele-Viper caught her eye and she strode toward him. The Tele-Viper handed her a clipboard.

“Message from Cobra Commander, ma’am.”

Anna took the clipboard and read the message. It wasn’t often that Cobra Commander bothered to give specific missions to the newly formed European wing of the organisation. Most often, he left them to their own devices or simply co-opted their personnel and equipment for a mission.

“Orders from Cobra Commander to launch an attack on Action Force’s space-station,” Anna Conda commented aloud. “Summon Hades and Red Wolf to my study.”

The Tele-Viper bobbed his head as he acknowledged the order and the Austrian-born woman strode off.

Moments later, exiting what had once been a banquet hall, Anna passed along a corridor and entered the small study she’d taken over. The décor was fairly Spartan; a map of Europe decorating one wall, a Cobra flag stood on a pole behind the desk and a deactivated WW2 era sub-machine gun hung on another wall.

Anna sat behind the oak desk and re-read the message, double-checking the authentication codes.

Hades entered the office without bothering to knock, Red Wolf close on his heels.

The men were contrasts; Hades wore a black uniform similar in style to the Crimson Guard uniform, but with grey cloth mask across his mouth and nose and an officer’s helmet. He was muscular and tall. Red Wolf was shorter, leaner and had close-cropped dark hair. He wore a rumpled red flight suit with several pouches on the chest.

Neither man spoke as they came to attention before Anna’s desk. For a moment she simply studied them, remembering their histories. Hades; born Sebastian Blaine in New Zealand had served in their SAS regiment before throwing it away to become a mercenary. Betrayed by his own group and left for dead, he’d survived and set up a small arms-dealing company known as Argent Corporation. Argent was now a legitimate front company for Cobra in Europe as Anna had hired Blaine on a long-term contract to act as her advisor and deputy. Red Wolf, his real name he kept to himself, was a former NASA astronaut drummed out over a rivalry with another man. He’d been blackmailed in to serving Baron Ironblood as lead pilot for his Roboskull fleet. Only months earlier, Ironblood had suddenly turned on the Shadows and the organisation had been smashed apart by Action Force, the European counter-terrorist unit. Red Wolf, along with a few others, had survived and joined Cobra in Europe. Along the way, he’d delivered a force of Roboskulls.

“We’ve received mission orders from Cobra Commander,” Anna finally announced. “He wants us to launch an attack on Action Force’s space-station and destroy it.”

A smirk creased Red Wolf’s face. “A chance to strike back at the Space Force dogs?” Red Wolf asked. “Good. When?”

Anna held up a warning finger, “First of all, can we mount such a mission? You told me that you had Roboskulls capable of space flight. Do you have the capability to attack Space Force?”

Red Wolf nodded enthusiastically, “We have a force of eight Roboskulls that can mount such an attack. I’ve also got pilots for such a mission. All I need to know is when you want the attack to go ahead.”

Hades turned to Red Wolf, “You brought us a force of twenty Roboskulls. I know we’ve lost a few, but that many?”

Red Wolf shook his head, “We still have ten Roboskulls for atmospheric flight,” he answered. “I only saved eight orbital flight versions from Action Force.”

“Can’t we use the others?” Anna asked.

Red Wolf shook his head again. “No, they’re not pressurised for flight in a vacuum, they can’t withstand the heat of re-entry and lack the mounting points for the boosters to achieve escape velocity and reach orbit.”

“Could we convert them?” Hades asked. “Add the attachments, add heat-shielding and so on?”

A third shake, “No, because we only have boosters for eight Roboskulls. They don’t exactly grow on trees, you know.”

“Can you guarantee you can complete the mission with only eight Roboskulls?” Anna asked.

This time Red Wolf shrugged. “That depends on timing. We might be able to strike at the station whilst Action Force have no craft in orbit, to aid in its defence, but what window do we have for timing on this?”

“The Commander wants the station out of operation by the end of the year.” Anna leaned forward, “I do not want to disappoint him.”

“Give me a week to plan the mission and check on the launch windows. We can probably launch the mission inside a month.”

“Good, dismissed.”

September, 1985

The Space Force space station hung over Earth like a bright Christmas bauble, sunlight glinting off its hull. Hot Jets liked seeing the station like this as he piloted his Cosmic Cruiser on its final approach to docking.

The Russian had to admit to himself it was strange for him, a Soviet cosmonaut, to be excited about flying to a Western space-station, even after being in Action Force for three years.

The multi-national counter-terrorism force had been finally declared operational in 1981, after two years of negotiations to put it together. Formed to counter the increasing threat of international terrorism from Palestinian groups, Communist insurgents in Western Europe, separatists in some countries and various other groups, Action Force had been a NATO outfit, but when the Soviets raised concerns that the unit might be used against them NATO had offered to allow the Soviets to put forward members in the force to reassure them. Six men from Warsaw Pact countries had joined, Yuri Asimov, Russian fighter pilot, among them.

Action Force had been dominated by British and American soldiers, including squads from the British Parachute Regiment, SAS and Royal Marines as well as a force of US Army paratroopers. It had also included various commandos, frogmen, mountain and Arctic warfare experts, pilots and a squad of Australian jungle warfare experts. Two months after being declared operational, a mission investigating rumours of a new terror organisation had gone awry. One of the Royal Marines, an officer known only by an alias now, had been captured by Baron Ironblood, the leader of the force known as the Red Shadows. The Marine had been twisted to serve the Baron and led an attack on a British weapons–testing facility, capturing an American Heavy Artillery Laser in the process and leaving dozens dead.

The US withdrew most of its support, focusing instead on its own new counter-terror unit code-named ‘G.I. Joe’. The Soviets had also withdrawn their support, although four of the Warsaw Pact members had remained, Yuri among them. The Pact had instead formed the Soviet-dominated Oktober Guard unit. Action Force underwent a radical reorganisation to counter what knowledge the man now known as the Black Major had of the unit. Gone were the Ground Assault, Naval Assault and Night Patrol cadres and in came SAS Force, an elite hit-and-run and covert ops force, Z Force, the armour and infantry group, Q Force, the naval operations flotilla, Special Weapons Force, the highly secretive weapons testing wing and Space Force, which had been planned to be an air wing, until the US had allowed use of its space shuttles and launch facilities to construct the space-station.

Yuri Asimov, now known as ‘Hot Jets’, had been assigned to Space Force and become the lead pilot in the Cosmic Cruiser, a compact shuttlecraft used for ferrying personnel and supplies to the station.

“Cosmic Cruiser flight 378 to Station, on final approach for docking. Request clearance,” Hot Jets radioed to the station.

“CC 378, this is Station. You are cleared for docking. Welcome back to the station, Captain.”

Hot Jets recognised the pleasant voice on the radio as the new American woman, codename ‘Telstar’. She was a Black woman who was one of two new communications experts Space Force had recruited, along with a Bulgarian known as ‘Uplink’.

“Thanks, Station.”

The docking went smoothly and Hot Jets climbed from the craft as four technicians approached to help unload.

In the station’s command centre, Telstar reported the docking to the station commander, Sky Raider. Her fellow American acknowledged the report as he studied his latest status report.

Hawkwind, the Swedish head of security, was leading a group of four Satellite Defence sleds on a training flight to destroy a damaged satellite, Sky Raider saw. Hawkwind had checked in a few minutes ago, the group was approaching their target, several thousand miles over Brazil.

Moondancer, meanwhile, had checked in on his mission with Kiwi and Zenit to repair an Action Force communications satellite. The repairs were underway, with the New Zealand-born engineer carrying out his EVA to work on the comsat. Moondancer reported the Triad would be returning on schedule in two hours.

Sky Raider mused to himself that this was another quiet boring day. He barely had time to complete the thought before Blast Off suddenly spoke up.

“Multiple launches detected. Infrared satellite picking up multiple thermal spikes across the spectrum. Somewhere in the south Pacific. Attempting to isolate location. Looks like several rockets lifting off.”

Sky Raider turned toward the Australian, “Tracks?” he asked.

“Crossing the Pacific, west to east. Climbing rapidly,” the space patroller replied.

“Telstar, contact NORAD at Sunnyvale, see if they’ve got this. Sound yellow alert,” Sky Raider ordered.

Booster chimed in next, “I have the tracks on my screen,” the strategist reported. “Launch tracks are inconsistent with ballistic launches for a missile strike on the US. Speed and altitude are consistent with orbital insertion profile.”

“I’m attempting to isolate the launch point,” Blast Off reported. “Looks like somewhere west of Indonesia.”

“NORAD has the inbounds,” Telstar cut in. “They are claiming it’s civilian test launches from an island in the south-east Pacific.”

Booster spoke up again, “Bogies are at eighty kilometres altitude, approaching thermosphere. Still on track for trans-atmospheric flight.”

Sky Raider was busy working his computer station as the other members of the crew spoke. He was trying to find out who had a launch facility in the southeast Pacific.

“Confirmed eight bogies, flying in formation,” Booster reported. “Altitude now two hundred kilometres.”

“Sound red alert,” Sky Raider ordered. “Telstar, contact Hawkwind and tell him to get his flight back here ASAP. Then call Moondancer and get him back here too.”

“Aye,” the communications operative replied.

Sky Raider hit his intercom panel.

“Sky Raider to Hot Jets; is your Cosmic Cruiser ready to fly?”

“We’ve just off-loaded the last crate,” the Russian answered.

“Then get your Russian butt in that ship and get out there, we’ve got bogies in the air, possibly hostile.”

“Da, Commander.”

Tense moments passed as Sky Raider continued trying to determine who owned the launch facility and Booster continued to report the unidentified craft’s climb toward space.

“Moondancer reports his Triad has begun de-orbit burn, he’s en route. ETA Ten minutes,” Telstar announced.

“Status of Hawkwind’s flight?” Sky Raider asked.

“They’re out of position,” Telstar answered. “Currently on the opposite side of Earth, heading for transit of North Pole.”

Sky Raider cursed. The four Satellite Defence sleds, although little more than a set of manoeuvring engines strapped to a seat and a phased particle beam weapon, could still prove useful in defending the station.

“Radar contact on bogies,” Blast Off announced. “Tracking bogies on satellite 3-3. They just began jettisoning booster rockets.”

“Comparing flight profiles with known orbital vehicles,” Booster said.

“Hot Jets, what’s your status?” Sky Raider asked.

“Launching now, Commander.”
Logged
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Sundance

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Re: Battle Beyond the Skies: new AF fan-fic
« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2013, 10:56:12 AM »

“Bogies positively identified,” Booster announced. “Flight profile matches only one spacecraft in the book. Roboskulls.”

“Classifying all contacts as hostile,” Blast Off announced.

Several miles away, the Roboskulls had just crossed the horizon and were now approaching the Space Force station.

“Red Wolf to all Roboskulls, stand by to fire missiles.”

A flurry of acknowledgments came back to the former NASA astronaut. As Red Wolf activated his radar, he wondered if Moondancer was on the station and if they would finally end their rivalry.

It took only seconds for the radar to lock on to the space station.

Red Wolf transmitted the data to his wingmen and ordered them to stand by to fire.

“So long, Moondancer,” Red Wolf muttered to himself behind his black flight helmet. He launched his missiles.

The externally mounted missiles accelerated away from the Roboskull, rocket motors pushing them toward the speed of sound in Earth’s atmosphere in seconds.

“Commence firing,” Red Wolf ordered. The other Roboskulls each launched a pair of missiles.

The Cobra Roboskull pilots had all been members of the Red Shadows, but unlike Red Wolf they were brainwashed. Whilst Baron Ironblood had blackmailed him into serving the lunatic scientist, the others had all been captured, conditioned to serve the Baron and trained to fly the Roboskull. The flight crews obeyed him now, serving Cobra in Europe.

Red Wolf watched his radar screen as the missiles homed in, before firing his booster rockets to climb into a higher orbit to avoid colliding with the station.

Hot Jets was speeding down the gravity well toward the on-rushing Roboskulls. He saw one fire boosters and climb away. His fore-mounted phased particle cannons were charged and locked onto another of the ungainly looking craft. He fired.

One hundred miles separated the Cosmic Cruiser from the Roboskull, but the orange streams of energy flashed across the void in scant seconds and struck the Roboskull, sheering off the starboard wing-panel, separating two of its engine boosters.

Hot Jets waited ninety seconds for the phased particle cannons to recycle to full power as the Roboskull he’d hit peeled away, pushed onto an erratic course by the sudden loss of half its engine thrust.

Hot Jets fired as a second Roboskull entered his target reticule. This time the twin energy streams punched straight through the cockpit and pilot, before hitting the fuel tanks behind the pilots seat. The liquid rocket fuel ignited and blew the Roboskull to pieces.

Hot Jets was now within fifty miles of the Roboskulls. He armed his Cosmic Cruiser’s side mounted multi-barrelled plasma pulse cannons and opened fire.

A third Roboskull was blown to pieces.

Each plasma pulse cannon took five seconds for the barrels to recharge, whilst it took six seconds for the six barrels to rotate through the complete cycle of firing positions. This meant the cannons fired a constant stream of pulses.

Hot Jets brought his compact ship into line on a fourth Roboskull and opened fire, destroying it.

Before he could line up on the next Roboskull, it opened fire with its own particle beam weapons. The Russian shoved his throttle forward, pulling the control stick back at the same time to pull away, narrowly avoiding the red energy streams.

The Roboskull was manoeuvring to get a new firing solution when it was hit by a pair of energy beams from above and behind itself and its fuel tanks blown apart.

Moondancer’s Triad had arrived.

On board the space station, Sky Raider was watching the radar plot.

“Five Roboskulls down,” Blast Off reported. “We still have missiles inbound.”

“Launch the decoys,” Sky Raider ordered.

The Australian immediately flipped up the cover switches that isolated the firing buttons and hit the buttons in rapid succession.

Around the station’s hull, eight cylindrical decoys were ejected by compressed gas jets, shooting them away from the station at several feet-per-second. Once half a mile from the station, the decoys ignited magnesium flares in their lower halves and activated radar reflective panels in their upper halves.

The decoys were now generating massive amounts of heat, as well as reflecting radar beams bounced at them.

Six of the missiles immediately went after the decoys; two locked on to one decoy, but were fooled by the massive radar signature and passed it by, travelling off toward open space, before detonating their warheads. Another missile streaked past a decoy without detonating and continued off into the void; eventually its rocket motor would burn out and it would fly onward on momentum until it was dragged into the gravity field of another object, but that could take years, or even decades.

One of the missiles struck the decoy it locked on to, obliterating the decoy and destroying another closing flying missile as shrapnel flew through the vacuum of space. Two more missiles past decoys by and exploded safely away from the station.

Nine missiles remained on course.

“Arm the pulse cannons and prepare to fire on the missiles,” Sky Raider ordered.

“Arming pulse cannons,” Blast Off replied.

Four panels slid back on the station’s outer hull, revealing the pulse cannons. The weapons slid forward, locked into position and then began emitting their own radar signals to track the inbound missiles. The first cannon locked on and automatically fired, its energy pulse slagging the warhead of the missile and destroying it.

The last of the Roboskulls was juking and jinking around, refusing to settle in Moondancer’s gun-sights. He’d lost track of where Hot Jets and his Cosmic Cruiser were. His two front pods were manned by Kiwi and Zenit, the Sevastopol-born Soviet cosmonaut. Both had tried for shots on the Roboskull, but were being denied by its erratic movements.

Suddenly, a blue and grey blur streaked by, blazing away with energy pulses. Hot Jets’ Cosmic Cruiser slashed across the rear of the Roboskull, detonating its engines and obliterating the bizarre-looking craft.

“Moondancer, this is Hot Jets,” came the cosmonaut’s voice over his radio. “There was another Roboskull out here. It broke off as I made my attack run. I’ve lost track of it.”

“Copy that, Hot Jets,” Moondancer replied. “Activating radar.”

Moondancer’s radar screen lit up as he flipped the switch to radiate signals.

“Got him,” Zenit reported on the intercom. “He’s dropped into a descent profile, returning to Earth.”

Moondancer glared at the blip on his radar. “Red Wolf,” he snarled, “It has to be. Running like the cur he is.”

“Forget him, we need to worry about the station,” Hot Jets cut in. “They’ve still got six missiles bearing down on them.”

The two spacecraft swiftly shifted positions and fired their rockets to return toward their home base.

The automated pulse cannons destroyed two more missiles, but as the station rotated, the fire-control computer for the pulse cannon with line-of-sight on the remaining missiles went into a programming lock, it couldn’t distinguish which missile was the biggest threat and so had a computerised fit of pique and refused to engage any of the missiles.

In the command centre, Booster swore and began typing in commands to try to over-ride the system, but before he could, the first missile punched through the station’s outer hull layer, slammed into the inner hull and detonated, blowing out a huge chunk of both hulls.

Air roared out of the hull-breach, sucking debris and any other loose items out into the void. The second missile struck the hull five feet further along, one deck lower, blowing another hole in the station’s structure. The third missile was hit by a spinning piece of hull and detonated short of the station, but the fourth missile hit, ripping open another section of the station.

In the affected area, emergency doors began slamming shut sealing off the vacuum-exposed sections, trying to prevent catastrophic loss of atmosphere.

Alarms blared across the command centre.

“Status report, now!” Sky Raider shouted. “And shut that goddamn alarm off!”

Telstar silenced the klaxon as Booster reported in, “Hull breaches on decks three, four and five, sections C, D, E and F.”

“Casualties?”

“Unknown at present.” Booster replied, not looking up. “Polling crew now.”

“Sir, Hot Jets and Moondancer are requesting clearance to approach,” Telstar reported. “They want to know if we’re evacuating.”

“Tell them to stand by and hold off. I don’t want to lose their ships if we do need to evacuate.” Sky Raider glanced at Telstar. “What’s Hawkwind’s status?”

“His flight is inbound, sir. Two minutes out.”

“Have them hold off and RV with Hot Jets. If need be, his flight can board the Cruiser to conserve oxygen.”

Sky Raider hung his head briefly, this was not good, he mused to himself.

Two hours later, the news was even worse. Seven Space Force personnel were confirmed dead and another three were injured in the attack; it wasn’t many, Sky Raider told himself, but it was still too many. The station had been critically damaged, one of the main oxygen recycling units that kept the station’s air breathable had been badly damaged and the station had been knocked out of its orbit into a course which would cause it to slam into Earth’s atmosphere in another eight months. The air supply situation, Booster had explained, was the more immediate problem.

“We can sustain the current complement of crew for another eight hours; after that, we need to evacuate. If we evac some of the crew, we can stretch that out, but not by much,” Booster informed to the assembled crew.

Sky Raider looked around at the assembled technicians, astronauts and command staff.

“As much as I don’t like it,” Sky Raider began, “I am ordering an evacuation of the station. We need to get everyone off, safely, then bring back a repair crew to replace the oxygen recycler before we bring in more crewmembers to get the station back into its correct orbit and repair the structural damage.”

Dismayed looks volleyed between the crew.

“I’ve already passed orders groundside ordering two more Cosmic Cruisers launched to commence evacuation of the crew. Get any personal gear you don’t want to leave behind and get ready for evacuation. Moondancer, you’re taking your Triad and crew back to Earth first. Hot Jets, you will evacuate our wounded, with me as your co-pilot. I need to get back to Command and get the ball rolling on repairs. Booster, you will retain command of the station until the evac is complete.”

Sky Raider looked around at the crew, “Thank you all for your sterling service. Dismissed.”

The crew began filing out, looking slightly buoyed by Sky Raider’s praise.

April, 1986
Seven months later
Space Force Mission Control

Sky Raider entered the mass briefing room and walked down to the front. Assembled before him were Hot Jets, Moondancer, Blast Off, Kiwi, Booster, Telstar, Zenit, Uplink, Apogee, Mercury, Apollo and Comet: the principal astronaut crew for Space Force.

The American took to the lectern and began without any preamble.

“As of 1200 hours today, GMT, Space Force is standing down from all but essential maintenance missions into space. The final mission will be a Cosmic Cruiser mission to launch in the next two weeks to alter the space station’s orbital track to place it into a solar insertion orbit to destroy it completely. The expense of repairing the station’s extensive damage is more than can be afforded by the principal contributing nations at this time. From May 1986, Space Force’s principal mission will be the maintenance of the existing network of recon and communications satellites and the provision of air support for the other AF units to be delivered via our existing Skystriker squadron and new Conquest X-30 jets to be purchased from the US government over the next three to six years. Additional Skystrikers will also be purchased to increase our capabilities. Uplink and Telstar will retain their roles as satellite communications specialists. Booster will transition to air strategist and logistics; Kiwi will remain principal space engineer. The rest of you will rotate between flying straight air ops missions and any space missions as needed.”
Logged
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Sundance

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Re: Battle Beyond the Skies: new AF fan-fic
« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2013, 10:57:13 AM »

The assembled company was stunned into silence as Sky Raider looked at them, before continuing, “Three Triads and four Cosmic Cruisers will be retained at functional status to maintain one Triad and two Cosmic Cruisers at mission status. The rest of the Triads and Cruisers will be mothballed or decommissioned.”

Sky Raider stepped down from the podium and walked out of the room past the still shocked astronauts.

Two weeks later,
Near-Earth orbit

Kiwi and Hawkwind were busy emptying crew lockers on the Space Force station. As they worked, neither spoke until Kiwi finally said, “I still can’t believe were doing this. I can’t believe Space Force is being reduced to maintenance techs and fighter pilots.”

Hawkwind shrugged. “At least as the principal engineer you’re going to get to go on most of the missions; the rest of us are going to spend more time flying air cover than in space.”

Kiwi grunted in response.

“And don’t forget, the US has effectively grounded their space fleet since Challenger was lost in January. Other than Soviet capsules, we’re the only manned flight programme out there.” Hawkwind slammed shut the door of one of the lockers. “We’re damned lucky we’ve still got the satellite maintenance missions.”

Elsewhere in the space station, Apogee and Sky Raider were in the main computer bay.

“Some luck, eh, Apogee? You only joined us two months ago and now you’re back to flying jets.” Sky Raider shook his head as he removed another of the computer hard drives with their classified information on. “You get one mission and it’s our last.”

“You don’t have to remind me, boss,” the British astronaut replied. “It’s making me wonder whether to stay in Action Force or to go back to the RAF.”

“You really want to go back to flying Jaguars, when you might still get the chance to fly into space again?” Sky Raider asked.

“That’s what I’m thinking about,” Apogee replied, as he pulled out the hard drive he’d been unscrewing from its mounting.

Sky Raider remembered that during his interview, Apogee had said one of his main motivations for volunteering for Action Force was the chance to fly into space, a childhood ambition he doubted he’d otherwise get to fulfil. Now he had, but may well never get another chance to do so.

Twenty minutes later, the four astronauts gathered in the command centre. The computer hard drives with the sensitive codes on had been sealed in a crate and locked on board the Cosmic Cruiser. The personal effects of the crew had been stored in other crates for return to them. All that was left now was to push the station into its terminal course.

Kiwi was busy entering commands into the computer system as Apogee stood near the window, looking out at Earth. Moondancer and Sky Raider were gathering up a few other classified ‘black boxes’ for return to Earth.

Kiwi stood up and stretched, pushing his chest out, arching his back. “Ooh, that was painful,” he muttered. “Course has been entered. The station’s thrusters will fire in fifteen minutes to push the station into the collision course. We’ve got thirty minutes to get clear of the station before we’ll be on the edge of the cruiser’s fuel supply for getting into a re-entry track.”

“You’ve set the firing sequence already?” Sky Raider asked.

“No, that’s for you to do, Commander.” Kiwi indicated a button. “Hit that and the sequence starts.”

Sky Raider nodded, took a brief look around and then hit the button.

“Let’s go.”

Apogee turned at the comment and then gave a quick look back at the window, before walking out of the command centre, following Moondancer.

Ten minutes later, the Cosmic Cruiser left the station’s docking bay and flew several feet away, before rotating slowly in space. The station’s thrusters fired as it passed the Cosmic Cruiser, rushing by on its course to oblivion.

Moondancer brought the small craft around and fired its thrusters to position it for re-entry. The two spacecraft went their separate ways.

November, 1987
Space Force Mission Control

Hawkwind faced the bizarre green-skinned, long-necked creature, as it screamed at him in whatever alien language it spoke. Drool dripped from its fangs as its tail thrashed back and forth, the submachine gun it had taken from one of the dead SAS Force troopers in one hand and a strange looking alien rifle-sized weapon in the other.

Hawkwind grimaced as it lunged toward him, seeming intent on biting his head clean off. The Swede back-pedalled furiously, bringing his own Uzi sub-machine gun up as he did.

No one knew where the strange craft had come from, barrelling through Earth’s atmosphere before it crashed outside Mission Control. On board were three creatures who had already slaughtered most of the SAS Force security detail.

Hawkwind fired, his Uzi blazing as the 9mm slugs ripped through the creature’s neck. A horrific scream came from the creature as it dropped its weapons, clutching at its neck. Hawkwind fired a second long burst, killing the alien creature.

Sounds of guns firing reached him and Hawkwind ran through the building to find another of the creatures standing over the bodies of Moondancer, Telstar, Hot Jets and Apollo.

Hawkwind tugged the spent magazine from his Uzi as the creature, a hideously bright orange thing with long, boneless arms and wide-set eyes turned toward him. It held a strange looking rifle in one clawed hand and a light machine gun in the other.

The creature hissed through its fanged mouth as Hawkwind slapped a fresh magazine in to the Israeli made weapon.

“You’re one ugly motherf..” His Uzi roared as Hawkwind fired, just as two wing-like flaps opened on the creature’s chest. The Swede immediately shifted his aim and fired another, longer burst into the creature. Ichor and gore sprayed out as the creature howled in its death throes.

The shriek of some sort of energy weapon drowned out the creature’s dying moans. Hawkwind dropped his Uzi, grabbed the machine gun from the fallen being’s hand and hurried toward the sound.

In another room, Hawkwind saw Sky Raider, Apogee, Kiwi and Booster had been killed by the final alien monstrosity. The blue-skinned four-armed beast had green hair-like fringing about its head. It turned toward him, a machete in one hand, an alien looking pistol in a second, an assault rifle in the other two.

“You son of a bitch!” Hawkwind shouted.

The creature roared a response he had no hope of understanding.

It levelled the pistol, but Hawkwind got the drop on it, firing the machine gun he carried.

Some rounds pinged off the alien’s hieroglyph-covered arm guards as it tried to shield itself, but most of the 7.62mm rounds slammed into its face and chest, knocking a medallion off the blue sleeveless garment it wore.

The creature roared again, but this time, its roar was cut off as Hawkwind fired straight down its throat.

Someone knocked on a door. Hawkwind turned, confused.

Eyes flickering open, Hawkwind awoke and looked around, confusion turning to realisation. He’d been asleep, dreaming.

The Swede stumbled out of bed, pulled on his pants and called out “Yeah?” as someone knocked on his door again.

The door opened. Moondancer stood there.

“Sky Raider wants to see us. He’s got big news.”

Hawkwind rubbed his face. “Fine. Let me finish getting dressed.”

Moondancer looked at him, clearly worried. “You okay, man?”

Hawkwind waved him off. “Bad dreams,” he answered. “Blame Mercury for letting us see that damn Arnie movie last night.”

Moondancer frowned, but said nothing. Instead, after a second’s hesitation, he went back out the room. Hawkwind dressed and went out the door to see his friend waiting.

“What?” Hawkwind asked.

“Nightmares?” Moondancer asked.

“Yes. Crazy one with weird lunatic alien things in.” Hawkwind shrugged. “Nothing to worry about.”

The two astronauts headed through the Space Force complex to a meeting room. Inside, Sky Raider was waiting with Kiwi, Hot Jets and Uplink. They all looked grim.

“Good morning, Hawkwind.” Sky Raider nodded to the Swede as he greeted him.

“Sir.”

“Uplink has news for us from the US,” Sky Raider said to the group.

Everyone turned to the Bulgarian.

“Yesterday evening, our time, Cobra launched a spacecraft from Cobra Island. The craft intercepted a secret US Air Force shuttle mission that was in the process of upgrading American spy satellites. The Americans detected a network of satellites which we’ve since determined were of Cobra origin. The Cobra spacecraft was attacked by a GI Joe shuttle named Defiant. The Joes had apparently been developing an independent space-launch capability for some time. This was its first operational launch.”

The Space Force astronauts exchanged looks before Hot Jets, Hawkwind and Moondancer all turned to look at Sky Raider.

“Don’t look at me,” he said. “I didn’t know anything about the GI Joe team having a shuttle.”

“I think we’re more wondering what we’re doing about Cobra,” Moondancer said.

Sky Raider nodded. “The US government wasn’t happy to find out about Cobra having a satellite network. We’ve suspected they were using commercially launched birds for communications and possibly for recon, but these satellites are something else. From what we’ve been told by the US Air Force – both officially and by my contacts back Stateside – this network was highly sophisticated and apparently global in its coverage. The US has asked the Soviets and several of the main contributing nations for AF to meet for a discussion on a way forward. It looks like we’re going to be back in the space-travel business full time, gentlemen.”

Two days later

Sky Raider sat in his office, waiting for the telephone to ring. He’d been notified of a meeting of the AF oversight council that afternoon, a meeting which would discuss the new threat of the Cobra spacecraft and satellite network. He’d already had the Space Force support techs, with Kiwi in charge, bringing the Triads and Cosmic Cruisers out of mothballs ready for operational flights.

The telephone rang. Sky Raider snatched it up.

“Yes?”

“Sky Raider, this is General Morelli from the Oversight Council.” Morelli was an Italian general currently serving on the oversight council, whose membership was rotated between the European nations every eight months. Britain was permanently represented by The Commander, the senior officer of the unit, whilst France and West Germany also had permanent seats.

“I’m calling to let you know what the Council has decided, in conjunction with several other parties,” Morelli went on. “Space Force is authorised to commence more space flight operations with immediate effect. These should be aimed at enhancing and expanding Space Force’s reconnaissance and launch-detection capabilities for now. The other main decision is that a new permanent station should be constructed in orbit. This platform should be fitted with a high-resolution space-based radar system and will operate as the central locus for the surveillance satellite net. Funding for the station will be met partly by the US, partly by the European nations, partly by the Soviets and the remainder by Japan and Australia.”

Sky Raider’s jaw dropped open. He never expected that to happen.

“Thank you, General.”

“Don’t thank me, just get that station designed and orbited as soon as you can.”
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Sundance

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Re: Battle Beyond the Skies: new AF fan-fic
« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2013, 10:57:52 AM »

“Sir, yes sir.”

“The Americans are also planning to commence training a group of Joes to function as a space-based combat team if needed and building a second GI Joe shuttle.” Morelli paused, “I should make sure you and this ‘Star Brigade’ co-operate.”

“You can bet on it, Sir.”

1994
Cobra Europe secret airfield
Somewhere in Croatia

Anna Conda stood next to the aircraft in the hangar. She mentally corrected herself, no, not an aircraft. A ‘space-plane’. Cobra had built one of the Stellar Stiletto craft several years earlier. It had taken a lot of time, but now Cobra Europe had eight of them, fuelled and ready. Since Red Wolf’s demise some years ago, Cobra Europe had no space flight trained operatives. Months of negotiation with Cobra Commander in America had finally allowed her to borrow the sole Star-Viper to devise a training regime. Now, her Black Star pilots were ready. Their training was about to pay off.

The flight leader stood at attention next to her.

“They don’t need booster rockets?” she asked once again.

“No, Commander. They can lift off and fly through the atmosphere like a conventional fighter. The liquid fuel engines allow a rapid climb to escape velocity.”

Anna waved him into silence.

“You’re confident you can destroy the station?” she asked.

“Completely. Action Force won’t see us coming, unlike the attack on the old station. We can close into launch range before they know we’re even space-borne.”

Cobra Europe’s intelligence operatives had reported the new Space Force station had gone online a month ago, but its primary space-based radar was currently offline.

“How soon can you launch the attack?” Anna asked.

“Within two hours of you confirming the launch order.”

“Consider it confirmed. I want that station destroyed!”

Two hours later

One by one, the Stellar Stiletto space-planes began lifting off into the darkening sky, their rocket engines blazing huge gouts of flame as they screamed down the runway, before lifting off and thundering upwards.

The eight space-planes roared upward, rapidly climbing beyond the reach of the Turkish Air Force fighters sent to investigate them.

Black Star Leader checked his radarscope. They were clear of anything on the ground that could intercept them and as they sped higher, out across the Black Sea, they would only need to worry about Space Force craft in orbit.

Action Force Space-station
Moments later

“Sir,” Telstar called out to Sky Raider, “I just intercepted radio traffic between a Turkish F-16 and a ground controller. Apparently, Turkish Air Defence Command vectored a Black Sea patrol to investigate eight bogies on their radar. The flight leader reported that he couldn’t track the craft as they were travelling at Mach 2 and climbing fast. His report concluded the craft were flying over the Black Sea at Mach 4 and climbing when he lost radar contact.”

Sky Raider turned toward the large flat-screen display on the wall of the operations centre. “Punch up our course, will you, Booster?”

The screen shifted to a world map with the station’s orbital track marked as a red line. The station was passing over southern Italy. The station’s orbit would take it across the gulf between Italy’s ‘heel’ and ‘toe’ peninsulas before crossing the northern Ionian Sea, across southern Greece before passing south of Turkey and Cyprus.

Sky Raider frowned as he turned toward Telstar. “Where were those contact launched from?”

The American communications specialist checked and then said, “Somewhere east of Bafra on the northern coast.”

“That’s thousands of miles away from our course.” Sky Raider looked pensive as he studied the map.

“It’s possible they’re intending to climb to orbit and then cross back over Turkey once they’re in space and intercept us,” Booster pointed out.

“True,” Sky Raider conceded. “An idiotic approach, but possible. It would make more sense to launch from the south of Turkey and then cross into international airspace as we approach Cyprus.”

He turned back to Booster. “Assuming, of course, we’re the target.”

“There is that,” the British strategist replied.

“Are we tracking the contacts?” Sky Raider asked.

“Affirmative,” Hawkwind cut in. “We have them on radar sat 47.”

“Compare their flight characteristics with our records, see if we can figure out who they are.”

“On it,” the Swede replied.

Hawkwind tapped a few keys on his computer keyboard before reporting, “Got them.”

Sky Raider and Booster moved to stand behind his seat.

“You’re not going to like it,” Hawkwind said. “They’re Cobra Stellar Stilettos.”

“Stellar what?” Booster asked.

“Stellar Stiletto space planes. The Joes crossed paths with one back in ’88. They didn’t have a clue what it was either until CIA debriefed Doctor Mindbender after he travelled to the US to get America to help Serpentor’s forces during the Cobra Island Civil War. Mindbender revealed Cobra’s acquisition of a classified widget from the Defiant was due to an undercover operative called a ‘Star-Viper’, said to have been cybernetically enhanced and surgically altered to withstand higher G-forces and so on, to fly the Stellar Stiletto. The Agency thought the stuff about the pilot being enhanced was rubbish. The Joes also reported the loss of the Stellar Stiletto later in ’88 when it was engaged by Joe forces near Cobra Island and crashed.”

Sky Raider and Booster exchanged looks.

“So, Cobra have built more of them and are launching them from Turkey.” Sky Raider turned to Telstar, “Call yellow alert. Order flight crews to their craft.”

“Yes sir,” Telstar replied.

“Hawkwind, arm the pulse cannons, deploy the missile pod and ready the decoys for launch.”

The junior officer nodded and set to work. Once Hawkwind had done that, he relinquished his seat the weapons panel to Booster, hurrying out the door to head for the hangar bay module at the bottom of the main cylindrical hull of the station.

Booster studied the radar display on one of the panel’s secondary monitors. “Stellar Stilettos just appeared on the edge of our radar coverage from satellite 47.” He paused as he checked the radar display against the main display.

“They’re around a thousand miles out and closing.”

Sky Raider picked up his radio headset and clicked open a channel to the hangar bay.

“Flight crews, launch your ships, repeat, launch all craft.”

Within moments, Moondancer launched his Triad, with Kiwi and Comet in the forward pods. Hot Jets followed in his Cosmic Cruiser. Hawkwind led out the four Satellite Defence sleds with Blast Off, Apogee and Zenit following. Mercury, Zvezda and Apollo followed in a second Triad.

Sky Raider’s voice came over the crew’s helmet headphones. “Attention all flight crews. Approaching craft are confirmed as Cobra Stellar Stilettos. Engage and destroy.”

Moondancer keyed his own radio. “Cosmic Cruiser, take point. Triad 2, flank left. Triad 1 will flank right. SD sleds, hang back and prepare to intercept any leakers.”

The other Space Force astronauts acknowledged his order over the radio.

Hot Jets raced forward in the Cosmic Cruiser, arming his weapons and trying to lock on to a target.

Suddenly, the Stellar Stilettos opened fire launching a pair of missiles each.

All three larger spacecraft went into evasive moves, to avoid the missiles, whilst still trying to close the distance to the Cobra space-planes.

On board the station, Booster tried to lock on to the missiles using the station’s own missile pod.

“Chuck, the Thunderbolt system can’t lock on to their missiles. They’re simply too small and moving too fast,” Booster reported. “The system simply can’t cope.”

Sky Raider, Commander Chuck Connors, cursed under his breath before ordering him, “Target them with the pulse cannons, order the Satellite Defence sleds out of the way.”

Booster nodded and set to work. Unlike the previous station’s limited pulse cannons, the new station had eleven turret-mounted pulse cannons, which were mounted on the modules projecting from the main keel and at the base of the station. All eleven turrets rotated and elevated or depressed toward the incoming missiles.

The four SD sleds moved clear of the incoming missiles and Booster opened fire, a storm of energy bolts spraying out to strike the incoming projectiles and blot them from space.

Hot Jets steered his Cosmic Cruiser into a target lock on one of the space-planes and opened fire, his pulse cannons spraying fire at the smaller craft, before it was hit repeatedly and exploded.

Zvezda brought his Triad around in a fast pivot, turning like a helicopter to bring the guns of his pods to bear. Apollo and Mercury fired their particle beams, hitting the Stellar Stiletto in the cockpit and the engine, blasting the craft apart.

One of the Cobra space-planes opened fire with the particle cannon beneath its nose, Moondancer cut into an abrupt ‘dive’ relative to his previous course and evaded the energy beam.

For several minutes, the area north of the station’s orbital course became a roiling mass of spacecraft and energy beams as the battle raged, neither side able to score any hits against the other. Booster had destroyed all of the incoming missiles and the Stellar Stilettos weren’t able to launch more.

Booster looked to Sky Raider. “Our guys are going to need to refuel soon,” he commented. “It can’t be long before the Cobras are out of fuel too.”

“Let’s hope so,” Sky Raider replied. “Look at the radar: two more bogies coming in from the west at high speed.”

“Space Force station, this is GI Joe Starfighter Leader. You guys need a hand?” came an American voice over the radio headset Sky Raider wore.

“Identify yourself,” Sky Raider replied.

“Has it been that long, Chuck? You don’t remember ol’ Dave Dubosky from NASA?” asked t he New Jersey accented voice. “Course, these days the Joes call me ‘Countdown’.”

“Goddamn, the Joes take any clown these days do they?” Sky Raider replied. “I remember you alright, some of the guys at the Cape used to complain you were the most boring man there.”

Countdown laughed before saying, “Yeah, well, I’ve got a lock on one of those Cobra space-planes chasing your cruiser. Want me to knock that snake out?”

“Go for it. Who’s your wingman?”

A second voice, tainted by a Massachusetts accent, came over the channel. “The Joes call me Space Shot.”

Countdown launched his missile at the Stiletto chasing Hot Jets, the missile quickly destroying the Cobra craft.

Space Shot fired a missile at another of the Stellar Stilettos, which distracted the pilot long enough for Moondancer to get a lock for Apogee and Kiwi to fire and destroy the craft.

Half the Cobra force was now destroyed. A fifth Stiletto was obliterated when it closed in on Hawkwind and Blast Off who fired their sleds’ particle cannons and hit its fuel tanks.
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Sundance

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Re: Battle Beyond the Skies: new AF fan-fic
« Reply #4 on: February 22, 2013, 10:58:22 AM »

The surviving three Stilettos turned and fled, descending into a track to deorbit their space-planes and return to Earth.

Ten minutes later, Sky Raider stood in the hangar module with his astronauts admiring the sleek lines of the GI Joe Starfighters.

Hot Jets was sitting in the cockpit of Countdown’s Starfighter. “Commander, can we please get some of these Starfighters?” he asked, sounding like a child asking a parent for a new toy.

“Please?” Moondancer added, “These things are seriously cool!” he was leaning in the cockpit of Space Shot’s fighter as Apogee sat inside.

“You want to give up your Triad, Tariq? After all these years?” Sky Raider asked.

Moondancer turned to face him, “The Triads are cool, Commander, but come on, they are getting old. We could do with a new space-plane.”

Sky Raider shook his head, unconvinced. “The Triads may be old, but they’re also reliable and proven.”

Neither of the other two looked happy at that response.

“We’ll have to see if the American government will even let us buy them. Remember the amount of grief they gave us about using the Defiant and the Crusader to haul parts up to build this place?”

Both men frowned.

“The Triads are staying, for now. We’ll see what happens with any other craft,” Sky Raider went on. “For now, let’s just be glad our station’s intact.”

Somewhere on Earth.

Anna Conda stood over the corpses of the three Black Star pilots she’d just executed. She handed her Skorpion sub-machine gun to Hades.

“Such a waste of money,” she sighed. Hades nodded as he safed the weapon and removed the nearly empty magazine.

“Have some Vipers remove the bodies and bury them somewhere,” Anna went on.

“Yes, Commander.”

Anna walked off without a backward look. Sometimes, she mused, this job, running Cobra Europe, was a major pain…
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Paratroopers don't die, they go to Hell and regroup.