Adapted from Thomas A. Andrews’s Personal Log
I came down hard. My fighter slid across the small field and came to rest between two trees. The old adage, "Any landing you can walk away from is a good one," applied. I managed to get myself shot down while on a routine patrol. I walked right into it too, stumbling on to a bug battle group. I did the only thing I could do. I sent a message to Starfighter Command and engaged the enemy. Now that I think about it, I could have run like hell, but it is not in the makeup of any Starfighter to run. I was an annoying fly that got my wings clipped in the end...
I jumped quickly into the middle of the battle group where any return fire would hit their own ships. It was something they learned very quickly when several of the destroyers and the carrier open fired on me. I went after the carrier. It held the troops and most of the fighters for whatever operation the bugs were planning.
I fired everything I had at them. The bugs launched their fighters in an effort to save their ships from the pounding I was giving them. I scored a major hit on one of the destroyers when I sent a missile into its flight deck taking out a fighter it was about to launch. Carriers have a different launch arrangement than destroyers. They launch their fighters through launch tubes and have a single landing bay for recovery. Destroyers launch and land their fighters from a flight deck. I was able to destroy several fighters as they came out of the carrier's launch tubes putting some very large holes in the side of the carrier.
It was only a matter of time before I found myself in a major dog fight with nearly fifty bug fighters. They found they had the same problem as the bigger ships. Every time they missed me they usually hit one of their own ships. They changed tactics and forced me out of the center of the battle group. As I cleared the battle group I fired all my remaining missiles at the carrier's engines, and was rewarded with several hits.
Once outside the battle group it was only a matter of time before someone got through my armor and hit something vital. I took out six more fighters before I got hit in my port engine and lost control of my ship. I fired my aft guns at the fighters that followed me as my ship plunged toward the planet below. I scored hits on two of the fighters following me, destroying one of them. The other fighters following me decided to cut and run rather than risk their lives following a dead ship. I managed to regain some measure of control over my ship in the last few moments before I crashed.
I saw the other bug fighter I clipped on the way down crash not far from where I was. I collected my weapons and went to make sure that I wasn't going to have to share this world with a bug or two. It took me about a day-
Bug fighters are bigger than our fighters mostly because it takes three bugs to fly one. One bug flies the ship, another operates the weapon systems, and the third just watches the show and occasionally tells the other two bugs what to do. Not a very efficient system when you think about what happens when they can't agree on what to do. Big and bulky, they don't exactly turn on a dime -
The pilot of the bug fighter was killed in the crash when the nose of the fighter came to an abrupt halt against the side of the mountain. The ship's commander was badly hurt, but still alive. A bullet in his brain fixed that. The weapons officer was also hurt, and I would have put it out of its misery, too, except it was a female. I can kill the males and not give it another thought, but I have a real problem shooting the females unless they are shooting at me. They look way too much like our own women. I pulled the bug from the wreckage and went back to search the ship for anything useful that would make my temporary stay on the planet more comfortable.
I bandaged the bug up the best I could before I dragged her and the stuff I found in the fighter back to my ship. It took me two days to get back to my ship. The bug was delirious and running a fever the whole way. Bugs must not plan for crashes because there were not a whole lot of useful things on their ship. Once back at my own ship I pulled the survival pack out and set up the shelter. My ship's fuel-
For three more days I tried to keep the bug comfortable and cool. She talked a lot in her feverish state. I gained a lot of insight into the life of a bug as I sat there listening to her, bathing her forehead in cool water. As I listened to her I couldn't help but wonder why the bugs kept fighting this war. Certainly this female wanted no part of it, and had been drafted into service to fight against us against her will. Her fever broke on the fourth day.
"Lie still," I told her when she finally opened her eyes. "I pulled you from the wreckage of your ship six days ago. You have had a very high fever the whole time, but I think you'll be fine now."
"Then I am your prisoner," she said.
"Yes, I suppose you are," I replied.
"What are you going to do with me?" she asked.
"I think it would have been better if you had just shot me," she said. She was probably right.
The next day I helped her out of the shelter so she could get a look at the world she had crashed on. "At least it is not some barren rock," she said. "Reminds me of home -
"If you don't mind my asking, why is it that you bugs keep fighting?" I asked.
"To preserve our way of life," she replied.
"In that we have something in common," I said. "But, I don't believe we have to fight each other. Certainly, we are not as threatened by your existence as you bugs seem to be by ours. We are not fond of war, but when our freedom is threatened we will fight to preserve that freedom with everything we have."
"We are not threatened by your existence," she said.
"Your leaders must have been, or you would not have attacked our home world unprovoked while under a pretended flag of truce to discuss peaceful relations with us. Only our space-
"It was you who destroyed our peace delegation unprovoked," she said angrily trying to defend her fellow bugs' actions.
"I am not going to argue with you, but I want to show you something." I took her over to my fighter and had her climb into the cockpit. I flipped on the video display, and with the push of a few buttons I called up the news broadcast of the invasion from the library files in my ship's computer. The view screen displayed the excitement of the planet at the bugs' arrival. Then the view changed to the terror of the bombardment of several of the major cities, and that was followed by some scenes of the aerial battles with the troop carriers as they attempted to land the invading troops. "Four full battle groups are what made up your peace delegation," I told her. The scene on the view screen changed to a picture of outer space and a bug destroyer with a carrier in the background. The bug watched as the space platform fired its missiles at the ships firing on the planet below. "A lot of Starfighters, including myself, lost relatives in that attack. The missiles we aimed at your ships were previously aimed down at our world to insure that all the people on our world remained in peaceful relationships with their neighbors. They were weapons we hoped we would never have to use." The last images were of the prisoners we had captured after the failed invasion of Earth. I flipped a switch and the view screen went dead. The bug just sat there without saying anything for a long while.
"All they told us was a lie," she finally said. "Until now, I never really understood why you fought us as hard as you have."
"The really sad part is that we did not have to fight each other in the first place," I said. "We, as a world, were excited to find others in space like ourselves. Our world was celebrating your arrival as a great event in our history. We were looking forward to a really bright future, and then came your surprise attack. After that we were forced to re-
"I don't know what to say," she said. "You're right, we did not have to fight each other. But now the fighting can only stop when one side or the other is victorious in this insane war."
"There is some truth to what you say," I said as I helped her out of the cockpit. "We could never give up unless your side says that they will quit fighting. The war will go on until we are victorious or we are all dead."
For the next 47 days we spent a lot of time together. We learned more about each other's species than we probably would have otherwise. Starfighters are all trained as translators in the event we need to interrogate the enemy. We were not burdened with a language barrier that we might have had otherwise. I learned her name was Ankneesheia (Ann-
My fighter was salvageable and a mobile crane came out and picked my ship up and hauled it back inside the search-
I worked hard and fast on the repairs to my fighter. I had to get it space-
It was not hard to break into the prison. I forged a transfer for Ankneesheia for further interrogation and then went down and picked her up . I got her without any questions. It was not unusual to interrogate prisoners at all hours of the day. It had something to do with breaking the prisoners down by interrogating them in that manner. I got her back to my fighter, hid her in the back passenger seat, and went back to work on my fighter as if I had been there all night. At the shift change I requested some flight time to test the repairs to my fighter. I was well away from the ship when it was discovered the prisoner had escaped and I was the one that had helped her.
I did not intend to return; one last mission, my flaming ball of glory. We had never found the location of the bugs' home world. In returning Ankneesheia to her home I would finally get those coordinates for Starfighter Command. They called me and tried to get me to return, but I just told them where they could put their damn war and turned off the radio. I hit the star-
It took some time, but I finally reached the bug home world. I did a mapping survey of the planet as I scouted the best and safest approach that would ensure that we made it to the surface of the planet alive. I pushed a button that sent all the information I gathered on the bugs' home world back to Starfighter Command, and began to make my descent.
I set the self-
I became an instant celebrity as the first human to ever sent foot on their world. After a rigorous interrogation that lasted seven-
Ankneesheia and I have been together ever since, and we live a somewhat quiet life in her hometown. We are expecting our second child, and I am the happiest that I have ever been. We are both quite active in the anti-