Adapted from Jonathon Alfred Abernathy’s Personal Log
Our destroyer was running escort to a convoy with the supplies for two battle groups. This was an important convoy as it was carrying nuclear weapons to replace some of the conventional weapons the battle groups were currently using. Starfighter Command and the Earth Council were reluctant to use nuclear weaponry, but it seemed the only way to bring the war to a conclusion.
I was just recently assigned as flight commander for the destroyer, and most of my pilots were new recruits fresh out of school. One of them was a girl with a very questionable background. I would have been reluctant to give her any flight time except that she had the best flight record of any of my pilots, and I had gotten sealed orders from Starfighter Command requiring me not to show any prejudice toward her despite what her record might say.
We were thirty days outbound just inside bug territory when we got jumped by about forty bug fighters. I must say it was the girl that first detected them. She jumped out and picked off ten of them in the blink of an eye. The bugs scattered. She bought us the time we needed to launch all our remaining fighters from the destroyer. I left two wings of fighters with the freighters, and took the remaining wing of fighters with me to hunt down the attacking bugs. By the time we reached the girl she had added another seven fighters to her scorecard.
We picked off most of the bugs before they turned tail and ran. I found myself in a one-
Having sent the bugs running, the rest of the wing joined in the hunt for this one lone bug. Bullet streams followed the bug fighter's every movement, but were always a step or two behind. Missiles caught nothing but clear space, and lasers only chewed on the fighter's wings. I had never encountered a bug pilot as good as this one. This might have gone on forever.
From out of nowhere the girl dropped in behind the bug fighter and matched it move for move for a while before sending out a bullet stream that chewed up the portside wing and engine. That is when I called off the hunt. Badly crippled, the bug was an easy target; but I had developed a growing respect for a pilot that could elude an entire wing of fighters. The girl requested permission to finish the bug off, which I denied. I sent everyone back to the destroyer. I alone remained.
I pulled up next to the bug fighter on the portside. I was close enough to see the faces of the crew. The pilot was staring at me. It was one of the bug females. I wobbled my wings and gave her a smart salute. I watched her smile and return the salute. I rolled off and left her there, but I didn't go far. I flipped a switch and my fighter went into stealth mode. The skin of my fighter turned flat black, and I vanished from their radar.
I followed the bug back to a destroyer in orbit around a nearby planet. I turned off the stealth mode and pushed the throttle to full, jumping up and around the bug. I fired my remaining missiles and dropped two cluster bombs into the destroyer's flight deck before I pulled up. I was in and out before the bugs knew what hit them. My aft camera showed me what I already knew. It was not a kill, but they would not be in any shape to follow us around any more.
When I finally returned to the destroyer I found myself facing a very angry young woman demanding to know why I didn't let her finish off the bug. I explained my respect for the abilities of the bug pilot that was able to elude everyone but her. Then I explained that damaged she was an easy ship to follow back to the destroyer she was from, and now that destroyer would no longer be following us around. I told her that my job was to look at the bigger picture, and solve the problems that I saw. That is why, sometimes, we get orders that make no sense to us at the time only because we don't see the bigger picture.
As I watched the girl walk away somewhat pacified I remembered Starfighter Command's sealed orders concerning her. I knew she was special, but I also knew that there were some key elements missing that kept me from seeing the larger picture concerning her; things that some very important people at Starfighter Command didn't want anyone to know. As I began to look at the larger picture I realized what it was Command didn't want people to know, and why they would be so concerned about the girl's welfare. I would keep my thoughts to myself; otherwise, I had no doubt that I would find myself guarding the bottom of some ocean floor on some frozen forgotten world a billion light years from nowhere.