Valtiere pulled on his flightsuit, grabbing his helmet from it’s place on the rack in his quarters. He moved quickly through the corridors of the Shadow, some would even say there was a spring in his step, though only if they were another system away when they spoke, without fear of reprisal.
Valtiere stepped out onto the flight deck, a hive of activity even when no battle was fought. Ships were maintained, repaired, prepared for flying close patrol. Valtiere moved effortlessly through it all, knowing the tempo of the co-ordinated chaos from years of flying. He patted a hand to the hull of the Stealth-X as he heard an impatient chirping from above him.
“Ok, Swift, we’re ready for take off. Calm it down.” Valtiere said, clambering up the boarding ladder quickly before a deck hand pulled it away. “You loaded us up with bunker busters and proton torpedoes, Swift?” The translator screen on Valtiere’s panel flashed the affirmative. “Good. Let’s hunt.” Valtiere flashed a grin as the deck cleared for his launch. The thrusters flared before darkening, the specialist fuel making emissions almost invisible. With a rush, he shot into the emptiness of space. The craft wheeled about, and Valtiere felt his heart soar, to be out again! Not trapped behind a desk administering, but actually loosed upon the enemy! Such joy was rare on the lonely seat of leadership.
He arced over Arconae Scundus, the Terminator just ahead of him, wiping away the light of Dajorra, leaving darkness in its wake, the only sound his own breathing through the respirator of his flight suit. The strike would be at night, making use of the stealth capabilities of the fighter. The plan had been laid out with the ground forces. They simply waited for the signal, then attacked. Use of comms would show him up like a beacon in the sky.
Valtiere pushed the yoke forward, the nose of the fighter pointing down to push through the atmosphere. As the craft began to shake and rattle, he pulled back, presenting the belly of his fighter to the extreme heat of re-entry. The rattle built, atmosphere roaring about him, the Stealth-X groaning as it was subjected to the incredible furnace of the atmosphere. As the ship felt it was going to shake apart, the roar began to quiet as he entered proper atmosphere. He had made sure to enter the atmosphere far from the camp’s co-ordinates, to avoid detection.
He stayed high, up where the air was thin, and he could see out into space. He looked down at the patchwork below, everything dark, varied shades of black and blue below. Great lakes were little more than tiny spots he could obliterate with his thumb, the lights of bases flickers.
His console chirped, indicating that he was above the rebel base. Valtiere smiled, the ship pointing downward, like a spear thrown to impale a fish. The Stealth-X built up speed, careening downwards as it ripped through the air. Cones of vapour and booms marked the speed of descent as he broke the sound barrier. Their sensors would have him now, but he was well positioned, head-on to the guns, with a small target presented. Bolts screamed through the air around him, but he kept the throttle forward. A moment of doubt would be his end. The grin stretched as he dropped through the sky, becoming something feral, matched by fire in his eyes.
He depressed a stud on his controls, unleashing the bunker buster. As he did so, he finally pulled the yoke back, slamming him into a turn. His vision grew dark around the edges as the incredible forces slammed him back, his lack of an arm and lower limbs the only things saving him from falling unconscious. Yet again he found himself glad he had elected to have his lower legs removed, and battle for taking his arm.
As he shot out over the scrubland, the bunker buster went off, a plume of fire, smoke, and debris careening into the air. Central command was down, but that would only stumble them for long. He wove between bolts, many of his indicators in the red. He pulled up, ready to begin another run as the Arconan forces started moving for the base.
As he brought his ship up, a shot struck the wing of the fighter, causing a spin, Valtiere fighting to get back into control. Tapping into the Force, he fought his biology, his vision narrowing as he spun faster. He wobbled, righting in the air. Swift whistled from his cradle behind him.
“I see.” Was all Valtiere could manage through gritted teeth. The rebels had launched atmospheric fighters, old CloakShapes, but a lot of them. He brought himself around, above the rapidly climbing fighters. He already heard their shots deflecting off his weak shields, about to burst through in a matter of seconds.
“Time for a trick, neh?” Valtiere said to himself. As he shot upward, he turned off the engines, the Stealth-X falling back through the group of fighters, the lack of aerodynamics preventing any gliding. He worked instantly, warming the engines back up. He hoped he had left enough room…
The enemy pilots were good, already turning around, lining up for kill shots through his canopy.
The engines thrummed to life, and Valtiere was thrown back into his chair as he shot forward, another pair of bunker busters firing from his torpedo tubes at the base below. He cracked open the walls and a gun tower, now aimed at the advancing Arconan forces, letting the pilots worry about Valtiere. He jinked in the air, struggling to compensate for the damage to one of his wings.
Again, Valtiere felt the fire of the CloakShapes hammer into his back, striking an engine. He roared a curse, struggling again as the other fighters moved in for the kill, sharks scenting blood. More fool them.
Valtiere spun, impossibly tight, vision narrowing to a pinprick of light, the Force the only thing keeping him conscious, and set free with his blasters, coming straight at the enemy fighters. One exploded, careening into the base below, acting as an ad-hoc bomb, spreading further disarray. It left three more fighters hot on his tail. He pushed himself, willing to go faster, using the Force to make himself faster, to stay ahead of their fire as he looped up and over, diving down onto the rearmost fighter. Another spiteful blast of cannons killed the enemy, Valtiere flying past, down at the base again, Arconans pushing through the breach. He unleashed another bunker buster at a group of entrenched rebels, ending their lives before they knew he was there.
The two fighters kept after him, thinking they had him on the ropes. He wouldn’t let them know the truth: That they did. He pulled them out away from the base, onto the desolate plains. He kept himself weaving as best he could, shots pinging off his wingtips, taking one of his cannons out.
Suddenly, bolts weren’t screaming around his canopy any more. He blinked, confused, the roar of blood in his head drowning out his comms.
“…-ase taken! I repeat, to all forces, base taken! Arcona Invicta!” The ground forces commander cheered.
Valtiere slumped slightly, levelling out. He turned about in a leisurly arc, coming back to the base. They would need a lander to take his Stealth-X back up, it was shot up so bad. Damned atmospheric fighting. But still, he had won the day.
“Arcona Invicta” he said to himself, pulling his helmet off before clambering out the canopy.