Stories of The 39th Midnight Squadron

A Day in the Life of Midnight Squadron

Night Moves

15 June 2942
Terra System
Agros III Space Station, home to Midnight Squadron

Music pulsed inside the cavernous metal hulk of the hangar, overlaying the low hum of environmental capacitors and power generators like a fetal heartbeat inside a synthetic womb. Evening cycle was in full effect with non essential lighting turned off and the endless bank of diodes, emergency lighting and function indicators reduced to a soft glow of occasionally flickering ambient luminescence mimicking fireflies in the depths of some primeval, Architectural Grade, Industrial Ship-steel forest.

The psychedelic, cadenced vibration of a modified old Earth Telecaster electric guitar echoed amid the ancient, fuzzy acid sounding Les Paul throbbing out the primary notes of the musical composition. A figure on the floor of the dark hangar spun in delight, dark hair swirling as her head bobbed to the rhythm, athletic form gyrating in appreciation of the sounds filling the bay. When the rhythm was joined by tambourine, drums and the recorded sounds of clapping timed to the sounds of the throbbing guitars and a low rumbling bass, she let out a shout of pure enjoyment, arms raised in the air. She twirled and shimmied, twin lengths of long dark hair fastened to either side of her head jumping and gyrating in enthusiastic accompaniment as the tenor voice of the old-Earth singer added his voice to the chorus of instruments:

“When I die and they lay me to rest, Gonna go to the place that’s the best, When I lay me down to die, Goin’ up to the spirit in the sky!”

She brought her hands together, echoing the efforts made by the musicians in the recording almost one thousand years in the past, as the backup choir joined the lead singer.

“Goin’ up to the spirit in the sky- That’s where I’m gonna go when I die, When I die and they lay me to rest- Gonna go to the place that’s the best!”

The girl let out an appreciative little howl as she twirled and grabbed for the laser assisted spanner wrench. She waved it about and boogied her way towards the open access compartment on a sleek looking gunship. Her wide, sensual mouth was curved in a smile as she leaned in to eye the bared components of the fighter, the work light hung over the compartment like a spotlight in an operating room revealing the startling color and layers of the young woman’s apparel. She pushed the prickly tulle panels of her skirt back from the sensitive electronics and calibrated the wrench with her thumb as her toes tapped to the music in turquoise flip-flops adorned with a colorful array of plastic flowers. She hummed and sang snatches of the music as she began to work, the tattoos along her arms shifting and issuing a subtle light as she became focused on her task.

On the catwalk far above, a shadow separated itself from a bulkhead, the man turning away with a sigh and a slight shake of his head. He wasn’t sure at what point he had stopped being irritated at Ursula for blaring the vintage American Earth rock in the hangar during night cycle yet again, but he couldn’t help his fingers from tapping the beat as he headed back to the crew quarters to resume the friendly game of poker with the on call team. If loud music was part of the formula that made Ursula the gifted technician she was, he could deal with it. He didn’t notice he was humming the tune as he walked down the dimly lit corridor, a smile curving his lips for no particular reason at all.

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15 June 2942

Odin System
Open Space
Midnight Squadron Escort Duty

WARNING! PROXIMITY ALERT! MISSILE LOCK!’

“No shit,” Sapper mumbled to the ships automated voice as he put his 325a into a tight corkscrew. “I’m looking right at him.” The ship rocked as another flurry of laser bolts flew past, close enough to make his face shield auto polarize.

With a quick hand, Sapper engaged the chaff system and fired off another burst of laser fire and scored a direct hit on one of the six pirate cutlasses swarming him. A millisecond later the pirate ship’s engines went critical and with a bright flash, the ship turned to space junk. With a quick adjustment of his Vectoring thrusters Sapper flipped the ship 180 and killed the main thrusters, and all power to the 325a, and coasted through the wreckage of the Cutlass as yet another alarm went off.

MISSILE LAUNCH! 100 METERS…75 METERS…50 METERS…25 METERS

Sapper flipped a switch to silence the warning. This was going to be close, but for Sapper to pull the trick off, it had to be. completely in the black, Sapper counted the seconds under his breath. A soon as he hit one, he engaged the chaffing system while, in a daring move, popped the upper maneuvering thrusters and then opened his own cockpit, thrusting all air out into space. The move jerked the ship in a downward motion as the missles passed so close heading for the chaffing lights, he could almost read the manufactures label.

FLASH! The missile detonated soundlessly as it reached the chaffing mix. The ship rocked a bit from the blast wave that followed. As Sapper could see the thrusters of the other pirates coming to investigate, he brought weapons on full power he targeted four of the remaining Cutlasses with missiles, and the other, with laser cannons. As the pirates crept in to confirm the wreckage of his ship, Sapper pressed the firing stud for both weapons.
Sapper fired off two salvos of guided missiles, and a flurry of laser bolts, catching the pirates by surprise. Two Of the novice pilots panicked and crashed into each other. Engaging full power to engines, Sapper quickly mopped up the remaining pirates, now damaged and scattered from the missile salvos, with a few quick bursts of his cannons.

A quick scan of the area indicated that of the fourteen pirates that had attacked the convoy he was guarding, twelve were destroyed and the other two were limping away as his two wing-men took chase.

“Leave them be” Sapper ordered over the squadron net, “It will do our squadron a favor if we let one or two of them go back to tell their boss that fourteen of their fighters couldn’t take 3 of ours.” With a slight chuckle, Sapper did one more scan of the area before lighting up the cigar he had pulled from his flight suit.

“Escort flight report in,” Sapper said over the com, as he took another puff on his cigar.

The accented voice of his female wingman sounded into his ear. “Marx, Still here, Ship in the green.”

Cav’s gravelly voice came over the com next. “This sucks too much to be Heaven so I guess I must still be here. Ship in the green.”

Sapper grinned at Cavs response, “Ok, form up on the convoy. Same deal as before, we may only have one jump left till we are home, but I’m out of missiles and my oxygen has run a little low for some reason. I don’t want us being caught complacent. Find a Tanker and stick to his shadow.”

Sapper’s grin widened as a thought came to him. ‘Why not dodge the after-action debrief and mess with Mother Goose at the same time? Fourteen to three and we hardly even took shield hits. Why tell Ursula about this one and be subjected to the anxious scrutiny she wielded over both crew and ships after a couple harmless dogfights? I could be relaxing in the bar and officially off duty before her post op scans picked up any sign of the encounter.’

Sapper tapped on the sqaudron com again, “Guys, let’s not tell Mother Goose about this one, I think it will be funnier that way.”

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18 June 2942
Terra System
Agros III Space Station, Hanger bay 12

She looked at him suspiciously from under a furrowed brow, her lips pressed into a thin, disapproving line. “So….what you are telling me…is you came back with an empty missile payload…and that “Nothing happened.”

Sapper nodded benignly, rolling his ever present cigar to the corner of his mouth as he bared his teeth in a wide grin. “Totally routine.”

Ursula squinted sideways at Bell as what sounded initially like a snicker turned into a snort then a cough. When she noticed she had won Ursula’s attention she abruptly turned and started tapping the overhead and pretended to be immersed in the information displayed there. She glanced back towards Sapper only to find he had made use of the distraction and was strolling away from the debriefing. His studied nonchalance made her grit her teeth and she turned back to the fighter abruptly.

“99, I want a full exterior particle scan. Notify me of any carbon scoring or ionic residue.” Ursula instructed her long time cybernetic unit as she started to move to another part of the ship. 99 had also been watching the former explosives specialist stroll away and purred in smoky, sensual voice, “Mmm….hubba hubba….”

“99!”

The unit jerked and turned toward the given task, issuing a series of electronic noises that sounded suspiciously like someone muttering under their breath. Ursula began the process of connecting the ship to the diagnostics center, slanting an irritated glance towards Cav as he gave an unabashed guffaw and buttoned up his own fighter in the adjacent hanger slot.

Sapper moved swiftly toward the exit door, glancing down at his wrist readout. He checked the elapsed time as he approached the lounge just to the left of the hanger. He counted under his breath, “and… three……….two………….one……….” He canted his head, listening as he paused.

“SAAAAAAPPPPPPER!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

He began to laugh out loud and hooted in enjoyment as an irate Mother Goose bellowed after him from the hangar. He ducked into the lounge as a muted series of clangs and clattering and an impressive flood of curses followed after him.

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Sharhun

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