"For this first flight, we'll take things nice and easy, Sparrow-san."
"I've flown before, Kaneda, it's okay."
The quite Japanese man laughed slightly. "We'll go at it carefully."
Sparrow looked out of the cockpit. Straight up, and extending to a very
horizon was the Gillette, it covered most of space. He could see down
length of the ship at the pale while glow of the engines. Beyond that,
starfield rotated into and out of view as the Gillette spun on it's
creating an artificial gravity.
"Razor-Home, this is Trainer-1," Watase said over the open circuit.
"Roger that, Trainer-1. Happy flying." There was a deep 'thunk' and
aerocraft was free. The Gillette quickly disappeared from view as he
a tangent from the ship.
"Okay, first order of business is to stabilize your flight. First,
your nose away from your velocity vector."
"What?" When Sparrow had first learned to fly, it had been all hands-on,
"Point your ship away from your direction of travel, down on your
you should see a schematic of the ship with an arrow. You need to change
yaw so that the arrow is pointed in reverse."
Sparrow looked at the controls. He was flying Anson's small Tetherhawk
fighter, which often served as a trainer in many militaries. There were
number of displays that had rough outlines of the aerocraft. One for
another for available missiles or bombs and chaingun ammo. And one for
heading. The arrow was long, pointing at about 270 degrees. He pressed
left pedal, raised his right foot, and the ship began to rotate on it's
vertical axis. The arrow began to rotate around to the 180 degree mark.
overshot it slightly, but quickly reversed his pressure and was facing
>from his direction of heading in good order.
"That's pretty good, Sparrow. Most people try the control stick first,
throwing their roll off."
"I learned that the first time around."
"Okay. In front of you, you should see two objects marked in green. The
directly in front is the Gillette..." Sparrow looked, he couldn't see
anything, but there was a green cross with numbers below it, they were
steadily rising. "And to your upper left would be me." Again, Sparrow
couldn't see it, but the green cross was there.
"You've got three axis to control: yaw, roll, and pitch. You're control
is what you use for roll and pitch. Press to the right, and you roll to
right. Press forward, and you roll forward. As you've figured out, the
control your yaw." As Watase spoke, Sparrow experimented with the
The little fighter bucked a bit under his touch, but responded well.
"How do I get it to move?" Sparrow asked.
"In most situations, you'll want to apply permenant thrust. In Anson's
fighter, that's done with the stick to your right. It's all the way back
zero for now, but you can slide it forward to accellerate. This isn't
most fuel efficient way of travelling, but it is the quickest. Usually,
you'll want to stop and reverse your orientation halfway through a
and then apply the same thrust in reverse."
"It doesn't have reverse thrust?"
"Not on Anson's craft. Most of the others do."
"Oh." Sparrow slid the stick forward. He was pressed back into his couch
the thrust increased. Up on the screen, the numbers below the Gillette
stopped rising, and began to descend.
"In emergencies, you won't want to use that, however. If you press both
the pedals down, you'll also apply thrust, but it won't be as great as
long distance travel."
Sparrow pulled the trust stick back to zero, then pressed both feet
doesn't take a lot of accelleration to fly in space," Kaneda told him.
"Everything in moderation."
"Um, Kaneda," Sparrow said as he looked out of his cockpit. "There's
than two green crosses on my display."
There was a pause, then Watase said, "Razor-home, we've got visual of
"Copy, Trainer-1. Two u-i-d." Another pause. Sparrow felt cold sweat
out on his face. "They're incoming, and not responding to hails."
"Okay, Home. I'm going to fly for a looksee." Watase's fighter began to
along an arcing course towards the incoming ships. "Sparrow, hold your
For a moment, Sparrow was going to do just that: sit, and wait it out,
somthing... gut instinct, curiosity, overcame that. He pressed both
the floor, and the accelleration drove him into the couch.
"Sparrow! Stay put!" Kevin Richards shouted over the com line.
A klaxon started blaring, and then something passed right by the
"There's another one!" Sparrow shouted.
"That's it, Razors. We've got three hostiles, let's get rid of them.
Kerri, Hanson, and Maddie, let's get out there." Kevin's orders were
by a chorus of "aye-aye's" and "rogers".
Sparrow continued to follow the third attacking ship. It was far more
powerful than his. He glanced down at his IFF, and it identified the
a VF-19, whatever that was.
By the time he flew by the Gillette, the surrounding space was a battle
Six Razor fighters danced around, trying to take out the three invading
"Somethings wrong," Sparrow mused as he spied the various ships. He
his direction and stopped, studying the battle elements for a few
"They aren't fighting together," he announced.
"What's that, Sparrow?" Alex Dawson asked.
"The three fighters aren't all together. The first two are, but that
one is by itself."
"Doesn't really matter. They attacked us. Hold tight."
One of the Razor fighters twisted off its vertical axis, and the
fighter that had been tailing it overshot the mark. The Razor popped
now in the aft of the other fighter, and a few well placed shots
ship. There was an explosion, and it was gone.
Sparrow saw a flash of red.
"Bagged one," Maddie Winson announced.
A flash of red...
"Not quite," the icy voice of Arctic Kalahan replied. His flying wing
towards the quickly dissapating explosion.
A flash of red...
Something clicked in Sparrow's mind. "Arctic, stop!" he shouted,
both feet down, orienting for the explosion.
Arctic ignored him, and only changed heading as the second attacking
not the maverick that had passed Sparrow - took some shots at flying
Arctic did a few slow turns, and the attacking shots all went wide.
"STOP IT, ARCTIC!!!"
Sparrow was answered in silence. He saw the flash of red again,
the humanoid form as the pilot's EV suit. A small rifle in the pilots
was a pitiful weapon against Arctic's approaching ship.
Everything cut into slow motion, Sparrow felt like he was flying through
molassas, he'd never make it in time. Arctic's fighter twisted a final
coming on a final facing toward the pilot. Sparrow knew he was too far
he'd never make it...
... but he slid inbetween the two bodies, bomber and pilot, and looked
the open weapons of Arctic's craft. He saw into the impartial eyes, saw
they were going to fire. Saw that he, Sparrow Adams, was going to die.
But nothing happened. Sparrow couldn't stop staring, couldn't stop
He'd heard it, but hadn't heard it. Slowly, it came to the forefront of
consciousness. "Desist, Bomber-1," Kevin had said. A direct order had
the only thing to stop Arctic Kalahan.
"What you did out there was stupid, naive, almost got you killed, and
me severly question your ability as a pilot." Kevin Richards stared
Sparrow. "What the hell were you thinking?"
"I think I know the pilots of those two fighters."
"And?" Kevin waved his hands, prompting a reply.
"They're friends... I think. It's been a while. But I didn't want them
until I found out."
"Sparrow, they attacked us, that's justification enough to retaliate. If
die, tough. If you met them in a spaceport, fine, then. But don't even
of pulling a stunt like that again, or I won't stop Arctic."
Sparrow shrugged. "I did exactly what I'd do in any other battle:
"The enemy, as well?" Kevin's eyes went large with surpise.
Sparrow cocked his head. "An enemy can be extremely useful."
"Get them AFTER the battle, if you need to."
"No, Kevin." Sparrow shook his head. "Not if it means that they die."
Kevin buried his face in his hands. "You're a person I'll never
Sparrow. But I want you to understand one thing: during a battle, you
orders, and you follow them. Try another stunt like that, and I'll drop
off at the first rock we come to, whether or not you can survive... and
Strauss be damned."
Sparrow grinned. "Can I see the prisoners?" The third fighter - the
had left, but the remaining ship had stayed with its downed wingman.
"Yes. I don't want to see you for an few hours."
The door to the brig opened with a hiss. There were two people in the
one lying huddled up on the bed, and the second on a chair with her head
buried in her arms while resting on a table. Neither one was moving. The
steady breathing told Sparrow that they both were probably asleep.
He smiled as he recognized the two females. He walked over to the girl
sitting in the chair, and lightly touched her shoulder, brushing back
long, red hair.
"Rabby," he said gently, pressing her slightly to wake her up.
"Huh?" she started, jerking up with hands immediatly balling into fists.
Sparrow danced back out of her reach, and allowed her to come to her
The girl blinked her eyes, trying to clear the sleep from them.
looked around the room. "Damn, it wasn't a dream." Her eyes came to rest
Sparrow. "Sp..." She stared. "Sparrow?!?" she shouted, leaping at him,
arms reaching around his neck, drawing him into a hug.
Happy sobs escaped Rabby's mouth along with the long babbling of what
happened to her. Sparrow tried to extricate himself, tried to get a word
edgewise, but it was no use.
Her shouting must have woken Patty up, because he heard another
and felt another set of arms grasp around him.
Sparrow let them release their emotions. He smiled. 'We'll get our
straight in a little bit. But not just yet.'