Star Brink: The Crash

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Breaking Defense

Chapter 13: Defense Breaking

“Are we there yet?” An annoying voice echoed over Vadam’s starship computer terminal.

Vadam’s all four arms tightly gripped the flight controls upon hearing the newest squadron member’s annoying voice complain for the hundredth time since they left the primary Xulon fleet. His two short, upper arms worked the acceleration and elevation handles lower long arms worked the turning handles and from his insane grip the handles were nearly crushed from annoyance. It wouldn’t have been so bad if it wasn’t for the fact that the young pilot had the most annoying voice, sounding like he had just finished with puberty. From the chatter he overheard over the communication equipment connected to the rest of his squadron agreed with him. He could hear all twenty pilots grumble and complain as they flew behind him but due to his position in front of them they were not visible at the moment though he knew they were right on his tail.

Thankfully, all Vadam had to do to take his mind off of the annoying recruit as glance in front of him at the blue and green planet just ahead of him, the one the Xulons, and most Alien races, recognized as Earth. The planet was so close to the Xulon squadron that he could make out the individual continents. The way the planet glowed and dim blue was unusual and a sight that most Xulons never seem when they come to a planet. It drew them towards it, mostly because their starships were programmed to head to specific coordinate on the planet. Vadam would be lying if he said he wasn’t glad to be headed back to Earth after having been so long since the last time the Xulons invaded it, having been just a new recruit at the time.

“Just a little more and we will be on the dirtball called Earth.” Vadam reluctantly answered. “We just need to pass through the atmosphere and we will be there.”

Vadam turned his head and looked back at the twenty Xulon fighters in his squadron flying in a precise formation. The cone shaped ships, all black except for him which had red stripes as an indication that he was a Commander, with small cockpits near the front and massive engines in the rear, all following him, was a sight to behold. Though it was only a small squadron compared to the typical Xulon force, the standard being at least three times that, the pilots were all incredibly skilled and Vadam had faith in them for the task at hand. Due to their design piercing through the atmosphere would be relatively easy as well as maneuvering around the planet to find their target. From the chatter Vadam overheard on the comms everyone sounded ready to break through, practically itching for him to give the order, which further motivated Vadam.

“Alright, is everyone ready?” Vadam shouted over the comms.

“Yes Commander!” Everyone answered back in unison.”

“Good, make sure your fighters are on atmosphere entry autopilot when we enter, otherwise the results will be lethal.” Vadam commanded, making the adjustments himself before entering. “Alright, push forward squad, let’s get this over with.”

Vadam leaned back at the autopilot accelerated his ship forward towards the planet’s surface. Due to atmosphere entry autopilot being standard issue on Xulon ships, and he had already set the coordinates, all he really had to do was lean back and prepare for a rough entry. Having been to Earth’s before Vadam knew how rough it was going to be entering its atmosphere but also knew that his ship’s system could handle it with ease, the only ones that would have a problem were the pilots.

“Entering the atmosphere now commander.” A pilot, the primary navigator of the squadron, called out just as Vadam got situated and securely fastened himself in.

Before Vadam could reply his fighter was rocked as it entered the atmosphere. It was so instantaneous that the sheer force of the shaking tossed him around even though he was well buckled in. Though he entered at the perfect angle and speed, and all Xulon fighters were designed to handle atmosphere entry he was still rocking violently and the g-forces pushed him back into his seat. Thankfully, the heat shielding easily held up as he saw the flames surrounding the fighter that would’ve roasted him on the spot. The combination of everything he felt, ranging from his heart being shoved into his skull to the shaking tossing him around violently, made Vadam’s lunch attempt to come back up but he managed to swallow for instead of painting his cockpit green. The others in his squadron were not visible to him but he was certain the pilots were having a worse time than him, most of them having never entered Earth’s atmosphere before. At least it only lasted a few moments before his fighter’s autopilot pushed through the atmosphere and began stabilizing.

I swear you never get used to breaking through Earth’s atmosphere. Vadam grinned as his fighter stabilized and he slowly sat up, rubbing all four of his sore arms.

Vadam shook himself as his fighter’s systems returned to normal. The onboard systems activated, adjusting his seat and regulating the air control so he could actually get a good breath and be regain full control. Even he felt numb in some places after that entry but thanks to his fighters automated systems had little trouble adjusting to normal quickly. Once everything was stable he switched off the atmosphere entry system and took control himself. Though he kept most of the systems on auto, such as the scanners and pilot adjustment systems, he had enough of the systems under his control to fly leisurely while he waited for the rest of his squadron to make it through the atmosphere and rejoin him. He suspected it would take them quite a bit longer than him to recover from the entry than him, most were a lot younger than him, and he had no issue waiting for them. Given the Xulon history with Earth Vadam wasn’t about to fly off on his own.

“Everybody make it through?” Vadam shouted over the comms, looking over his shoulder at the other Xulon fighters as they followed him. “Answer as we take formation.”

“Yes Commander, just a little shaken.”

“Me too Commander, let’s not do that again.”

“Agreed.”

“I second that.”

Vadam shook his head as the replies poured in with little variation. It was a bit weird hearing everyone in agreement for once. Clearly, not a single pilot liked the entry and even Vadam would agree with them. Though the Xulon fighters were designed to handle most environments Earth was u Kaye from most planets in more ways than one but the atmosphere had to be the worst and from what he could overhear seemed to put nearly everyone in a bad mood.

Maybe there needs to be some adjustments to the atmosphere shields.

Vadam thought as he took his position at the front of the formation.

Once the squadron had regained its formation Vadam took the opportunity to look around at the planet’s surface as they flew. The amount of green and mountainous terrain he saw as they flew over was staggering having never seen so much green before in his life, and he had been on more than a dozen planets in his life. Though he could make out individual houses here and there most of what he saw was trees with a few open fields and most of them were occupied with cattle. At the height they were flying at, high enough flying into the mountains, and the squadron’s unified speed, slightly less than normal, was enough for them to survey most of the area. Though the scanner and display mapped the surface rather well, there was something about seeing it with his own eyes that he somewhat admired. The last time he was on Earth Vadam had fought over a large city and didn’t get much of an opportunity to see the planet than it so seeing the area they currently flew over was a completely different feeling. Though he had the volume turned down on the communication channel he could still make out what each individual pilot was saying, allowing him to overhear their thoughts over what they saw. Everyone was almost in unison, agreeing that the area they flew over was indeed beautiful.

“Huh, this place is strangely beautiful.” Vadam muttered quietly to himself. “I would almost say that Xulos would prefer not to destroy this but His will is impossible to know.”

Vadam was snapped out of his trance by the sound of his newest recruit shouting over the communication. “Commander, we have detected a group of enemies fast approaching.”

Vadam turned to look at the radar but saw nothing being displayed other than ground vehicles and personnel that were noncombatant. He found it had to believe that after just having made it through the atmosphere there was already an enemy within combat distance; humans had by far the worst response time of any species he had ever fought. It was even more worrying since having just come through the atmosphere they were not combat ready, even though it would just take a moment for their fighters to imitate combat. His hope was that their radar personnel, whose fighter possessed a strong enough radar to detect threats millions of miles away, had read the screen wrong, but knowing that pilot personally he was certain there was no mistake.

“Are you certain Monitor Greton?” Vadam asked.

“I am Commander. The radar detected a large human squadron fast approaching from our right.” The Monitor personnel replied. “My guess they probably detected our presence before we even entered the atmosphere and sent this force to intercept us.”

“Huh, that seems highly unlikely unless the humans have made massive progress since our last visit. But if that is the case than we are at a disadvantage right now.” Vadam responded, pausing for a moment to think. “How many aircraft are in the enemy force?”

“At least sixty sir.”

Vadam was glad he was in the cockpit where no one could see his shocked response. “Sixty, how in the Dest are humans able to muster such a large force so quickly? It must be their infamous PDF organization trying to take us out.” Vadam smiled as he adjusted himself in his pilot’s seat. “Well, we will give them a fight; break their spirit and their bodies.” Vadam turned his communications so all his subordinates could hear. “SOLDIERS, SWITCH TO COMBAT MODE AND BE READY FOR A FIGHT!”

“YES COMMANDER!” All of Vadam’s subordinates replied in unison.

Vadam didn’t have to look to make the adjustments to switch his fighter from cruise to combat mode, having done it numerous times over his lifelong career. With the less of a couple buttons to turn on the weapons and targeting system and a switch to adjust the wings for aerial combat, that being a rarity as he usually had it set for space combat, and his fighter was prepared for combat. Three wings quickly filed out of their compartments, one on both side and one on the back, and were set in barely a movement. The guns, two heavy plasma canons on both sides, three small, maneuverable guns on the front, and a massive near artillery, fixed canon on the underside. Once the guns were set all that remained was align his headset to the canons and guns, which tracked and locked onto where he looked, and he was ready for combat. The whole process only took a couple moments and looking around once it was done he saw that every one of his subordinates had finished or were finishing up as well. It impressed Vadam that they were able to keep up with him, knowing that even standard Xulon squadrons couldn’t even get ready in half that time. Knowing that each of his subordinates was a skilled and experience combat pilot left no room for fear in tinier situation. Vadam trusted them all life his life and knew them personally, allowing him to perform his task clearly without an ounce of fear. His only real concern was if he would lose any of his pilots and that always made him worry a little.

“I see them Commander, on our left.” A pilot shouted just as Vadam finished his adjustments.

Vadam turned his head to the left and off in the distance spotted the outline of what he assumed was human aircraft approaching. Though they were a significant distance away they covered the distance quickly, enough for Vadam to make out their numbers and aircraft design in a few moments. They flew together but in multiple small groups averaging four to five each, he guessed so they could easily gang up on individual enemies, not that it would help against the Xulons fighters’ superiority. From, what Xulon could guess their aircraft seemed to change very little in appearance with only minor appearance changes. He did notice they seemed to have more firepower than before but due to the distance couldn’t be certain. Despite the odds, Vadam didn’t feel any fear, only confidence and determination in their success.

“Pilots, ready your heat cannons and prepare to fire!” Vadam ordered as he aligned his fixed cannon to the approaching humans. “Let’s crush their spirits right from the beginning.”

“YES COMMANDER!” Vadam’s subordinates replied in unison.

Vadam didn’t need to look behind him or use his radar to know that his squadron was forming into line fire formation around him; it was a formation they had practicing many times. Within a moment all of his twenty subordinate pilots were formed in straight line that faced perpendicular to their approaching enemies with their noses towards the enemy. He knew each pilot was quickly aligning their heat cannons, the most powerful gun an Xulon fighter possessed at their enemy. It was a strategy Vadam adopted similar to a firing line but with starships firing massive can is whose explosive potential surpassed most human missiles and bombs. All he had to do was wait for the right moment and what quickly presented itself as the human pilots flew straight towards them grouped in tight formations.

“FIRE NOW!” Vadam ordered once he was sure the human forces were close enough for an accurate shot as the heat cannons were fixed weaponry.

Almost in unison and immediately all of Vadam’s fired their heat cannons at once.

If Vadam had to guess, though their shells detonated short the explosions destroyed around half of the human force. Those that weren’t destroyed or crashing to the ground were either attempting to bank away to regroup or trying to stabilize themselves having taken significant damage. They were scattering like insects right before his four eyes which was exactly one of the two outcomes Vadam wanted. Either he wanted the explosions to completely wipe out the human force or throw them into such chaos they were vulnerable to attack, essentially making themselves easy prey. It was an opportunity Vadam had no desire to waste and one that Xulon tradition required he saw through to the end.

Vadam grinned as he accelerated his fighter towards the scattered humans. “Break off and destroy . . . NOW!”

On his command the Xulon fighters broke formation and excitedly sped towards their scattering targets. Though every pilot was itching for a fight they were still professional and experienced enough not just go individually or randomly after just any target. They stuck in groups of at least two and spread out quickly to prevent escape. The Xulon fighters’ vastly superior speed and agility made it easy for them to quickly encircle the human fighters and begin their chase. The humans had almost no time to recover from the Xulons’ initial bombardment before they found themselves being expertly and easily picked off. It was so quick that Vadam barely had time to blink before human fighters started either exploding or dropping to the ground like flies.

The difference and superiority of the Xulon Starfighters against the humans” aircraft was evident from the get go. The Xulons were able to get behind the humans with relative ease, pursue and destroy them in such a quick and efficient manner; it was almost comical to Vadam. Though the Xulons had the shock and destructive force of the initial bombardment that wiped out half of the humans’ force, to give them an advantage it wouldn’t have mattered if they didn’t. The Xulon fighters were able to pull off near zero-degree turns and other maneuvers that human aircraft was not capable of, as well as possessed acceleration, weapons, and armor that simply made the dogfight unfair. Over the course of several moments the Xulons were able to almost completely dominate the aerial battle to the point that the humans were left with the option to retreat, if they could.

Vadam observed as he accelerated towards a heavily damaged human jet that was drifting towards the ground his squadron expertly take advantage of the situation. He made sure to keep them in the background of his attention as he went after his own target with two Xulon pilots flew alongside him. Though the wounded human craft had another pilot flying trying to escort him to safety he was an easy target. As soon as Vadam had the damaged human fighter in his crosshairs he fired a single blast from his primary cannons and scored a direct hit, bleak bit to pieces. Before the other human could realize what had just happened Vadam focused his crosshairs on it and fired a quick blast from his automated guns that easily hit with such force they shredded off his wing. Vadam made a final blast with his guns on the human jet that finished off, not allowing it to crash of the pilot to bail out. After being rewarded with the second explosion he turned his fighter up and began looking for another easy target.

Almost immediately Vadam spotted a nearby Xulon fighter too focused on scoring hit on damaged human jet to notice he had an enemy on his tail. The Xulon was almost toying with the human he was targeting, only using his guns to damage the craft, and hitting it along the wings or other spots that would not destroy it. Though Vadam understood playing with your prey the young pilot was taking it too far to the point he wasn’t noticing the threat behind him. Vadam wasted no time, accelerating towards the pursing human craft as it got closer to the young Xulon. Keeping his crosshairs on the human craft, the moment he got a lock on signal, which was just as the young Xulon downed the human he was toying with. Vadam’s shot scored a devastating hit, right on the engine that nearly blew it out of the sky. To finish it off Vadam fired a short blast from his fighter’s guns that carved the human jet to several species.

“Thank you Commander.” The Xulon pilot exclaimed.

“You are welcome, just be more careful.” Vadam replied as he banked his fighter to catch up to the other two pilots that had been following him earlier but had turned away to pursue another damaged human craft.

Suddenly, Vadam’s threat detection alarm started ringing almost causing him to jump. A quick glance at the radar was all he really had time for to see that it was an incoming missile targeting him, before his fighter was rocked by a violent impact and explosion on his right wing. The impact shook Vadam a little but his pilot seat’s straps kept him safely fashioned and able to quickly recover. Thanks to Xulons being heavily armored and durable to most impacts and he was able to easily stabilize his flight path.

“What the heck Dest?” Vadam shouted as he turned his head towards where he felt the impact.

Vadam immediately noticed smoke coming from his wing and squinted his eyes to determine the damage. Fortunately for him the only damage he saw was a massive scorch mark and big dent on his wing but no significant damage. He didn’t much information to guess that he had just been hit by a human missile that had somehow locked onto him. A quick glance at the damage assessment system and starship condition analysis systems showed no damage that would inhibit his craft in any way. He couldn’t help but chuckle realizing that even though he had just taken a hit, by one of the humans’ best air to air weaponry all it had done was leave a scratch.

“Huh, this is new; their missile can now track and lock onto us.” Vadam exclaimed as he regained stability. “Too bad for them they do VERY little damage.”

Vadam didn’t know whether to grin or growl as he quickly performed a u-turned to see the target he was looking for nearly attempting to bank away from him. He was certain the pilot was crapping his pants upon realizing all he had done was anger a far superior enemy and was attempting to get away before the beast could kill him. The thought of it made Vadam chuckle as zeroed in on his target, catching him before he even finish turning. His reticles focused on the human and he unleashed a torrent of plasma fire from his automated guns, shredding the enemy jet to pieces almost instantly. The human jet was practically torn in half, making Vadam smile.

“Alright, who is next?” Vadam shouted as he banked towards the primary dogfight.

However, Vadam’s hopes were all dashed when he finished his turn to see that the dogfight was practically over. Nearly the only crafts he saw still flying were Xulon fighters with only a couple human jets left. The humans that remained were either on the defensive or attempting to flee. There were so few humans left that the Xulons were ganging up on them. A quick glance down and Vadam could see the forest nearly completely ablaze from downed human fighters.

“What in the Dest?” Vadam blurted out. “Is the fun already over?”

Vadam’s heart sank as he watched his subordinates pursue any human pilots that remained and that was only a couple. It was almost comical to observe the Xulon pilots gang up on the remaining human pilots like feral animals fighting for the right to eat a recently killed prey. He could hear the arguments over the comms, stating the kills is theirs along with other more obscene comments. As long as them human pilots were brought down Vadam didn’t care if they didn’t argue or not. He was about to give the order to finish up when he saw a fleeing human jet out of his peripheral that no one else seems to notice.

“Oh, where do you think you are going?!” Vadam sadistically exclaimed as he accelerated towards the fleeing jet. “A true Xulon never allows a single enemy to escape with their lives.”

Vadam’s mandibles formed a sadistic grin as he pushed his fighter to pursue the remaining enemy jet. The smoke trail the jet left as it tried to accelerate made it easy to follow and as he got closer he could see that its engines were severely damaged as was its right wing having half of it blown off. He could see it drifting to the right and the pilot attempt to correct and stabilize its course. It was all in vain as Vadam easily and quickly closed the distance between, granted that would not have been an issue even if the enemy jet hadn’t sustained any damage. He got so close that he could practically feel the pilot’s panic and fear which excited him even more.

“Just like finishing off a wounded swamp rat only easier . . . and more enjoyable.” Vadam muttered to himself as he drew within range of his primary cannons, his grin somehow becoming even more sadistic. “The only thing missing is the screams of misery right before the final twist of the knife and this would be perfect.”

Vadam’s pulse accelerated when he heard the lock-on alarm ring loudly, indicating he had a successful lock on the enemy aircraft. He didn’t hesitate to pull the trigger released a powerful blast from his primary canons. The high intensity plasma shell flew straight towards the target, leaving a green smoke trail in its wake before colliding with the jet, striking it right behind the cockpit, resulting in a violent explosion that nearly blew the jet in half. Due it where it hit Vadam was certain the explosion killed the pilot instantly, if not vaporized him. Like a stone the jet dropped out of the sky straight towards the ground as Vadam leaned back in his seat and switched off his fighter’s combat systems, returning it to cruise.

“Is it just me or are human pilots getting even more pathetic?” Vadam muttered as he banked his fighter to return to his awaiting squadron.

Vadam kept the crashing jet in his peripheral as he slowly took his position at the front of the formation. He had a good view as it slammed into the ground with a fiery explosion that brought a smile to his mandibles. Since it slammed into a rocky cliff the explosion was a massive ball of fire, sending debris and flames everywhere. Even though he didn’t have that good of a view, having to move towards his squadron, he could clearly see the explosion setting the surrounding forest ablaze. Being a true Xulons, the explosion was a real delight to Vadam to see.

Despite wanting to see the forest burn Vadam headed back towards his squadron who were waiting for him over the main battle area. Having their fighters in hover mode, essentially allowing them to remain in their elevated location without having to pilot for a short time, they were eyeing the area for more enemies but spotting none. If anything they appeared to be anxious for more of a fight, several just flying around the wreckage of what remained of their enemies only to be disappointed. It warmed Vadam’s heart to see his subordinates so determined for a fight, telling him he trained them right. However, give the mission they could not stay long so he had to get them to leave.

“Regain formation!” Vadam ordered.

Instantaneously, all twenty of the Xulon fighters dropped what they were doing and headed towards Vadam without a word. Like a machine, it barely took a moment for every Xulon to be in a proper square recon but also defensive formation. Vadam, at the front of the formation, had to turn in his cockpit to witness it but was still impressed how quickly and professionally they did performed their tasks without any additional orders or speaking among themselves. Once they were in formation Vadam wasted no time in pushing his squadron forward to find a place to set up an operating base.

“Anyone sustain any damage?” Vadam asked as they flew at a slightly slower speed than usual to survey the area around them.

“None here Commander!”

“A few scratches.”

“I did not take a hit Commander.”

“Neither did I.”

“I took a hit on the wing but it barely left a dent.”

Vadam sat back as his subordinates replied one after the other with see essentially the same response. The damage his force received wasn’t even minimal and could essentially be described as little more than dents and scorch marks. It surprised him that the damage they received was so slight and they did not lose a single pilot, despite having been outnumbered. It was almost laughable to Vadam, easing any concern he had from the human spitting up a kind of a fight of being a danger to his force. The only difficulty he believed they would have was finding the Zordons.

So, their technology has improved greatly since the last time we were here but their fighting spirit, prowess, and strategies have significantly waned. Vadam thought as he accelerated his fighter forward. This is going to be easier than I thought.

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