Daria adjusted the fit of her helmet; the straps were digging into her chin again. She looked out her right cockpit window at the Warhammer class starfighter she was in formation with. Today her friend Jane piloted it, and this was Jane's first time out in a starfighter that wasn't fitted as a trainer.
"Artist to Poet, come in!"
Daria rolled her eyes.
"How about we not use the call signs, ok?"
"You know how to suck all the fun out of radio chitchat." Jane whined.
"Let's just get to the training area, Jane. If we hang out here for too long, we'll probably get jumped by Empyreal fighters."
They flew in silence for a few moments, Jane's fighter occasionally jerking. She was probably bored and was playing with the controls.
"Four new bogies, Six o'clock low!" Jane called.
Daria glanced at her targeting computer.
"Their friendly, Jane. They're probably out to play in the training area, too."
Daria jumped as her threat warnings blared in her ears. The friendlies were locking their missile weapons on her fighter.
Four against two.
"Jane! Jink!" Daria yelled as she took her starfighter into a hard roll away from Jane.
"Jink? What?" Jane asked, confused.
"Jerk your starfighter around, evade!" Daria was concentrating on shaking the Thunderbolt starfighter from off her tail. It was slightly more maneuverable than her Warhammer, but the pilot was a little sloppy.
Daria pulled out of a split-s turn and saw Jane's fighter being struck by laser fire.
"Jane! Break right!" Daria ordered.
Jane's fighter rolled violently to the right, pulling out of the line of fire and she could hear Jane grunt over the radio from the force of her maneuver. The Thunderbolt fighter followed, and put itself in Daria's weapons cone. She quickly got a weapons lock signal and fired a missile. The starfighter exploded into a ball of vapor and plasma.
Three against two.
"Jane! Run for the training area."
"What? I'm lost! Where is it?" Jane sounded a little panicky.
Daria cursed to herself as she lined up another Thunderbolt in her sights. She opened up with her lasers and sheared it in half.
Two against two. It was a fair fight now.
Jane was working on getting a missile lock on the third Thunderbolt. Daria glanced at her targeting computer again, trying to locate the fourth starfighter as she fired her own lasers to herd the Thunderbolt into Jane's sights.
Jane's fighter was cut in two, and her reactor cracked, filling the sky with light and shaking her fighter.
"Jane! No!" Daria yelled.
Gritting her teeth in anger, Daria rolled in behind the Thunderbolt Jane had been working on. Ignoring her computer as it complained about her weapons overheating, she ripped it in two with her lasers.
She searched for the fourth fighter again, knowing he or she was responsible for Jane.
Her threat warning blared in her ear again.
Daria flipped the switch from "Simple" to "Direct Control" so she could fly her craft like a real starfighter rather than let her computer simulate atmospheric flight.
She fired her forward thrusters, slamming herself into her restraints and slowing violently. She throttled her port thrusters once to change her ship's attitude but not it's direction. Flying sideways, she had the Thunderbolt in sight.
The moment her lock tone sounded, she fired.
Daria was amazed an impressed when the fighter managed to jink out of harms way.
For the next few minutes the two fighters danced around each other, both pilots proving their expertise at handling starfighters.
Both scored minor hits on the other several times. Daria was irritated when her missile bays failed to open when another shot opportunity arose.
"Bingo" her computer said.
"Damn it." Daria complained. Time was running out.
Daria pulled her trigger again and managed to shear one of her opponent's lasers off of his craft. It cost her hers, the heat taking its toll. Frustrated, she powered her rear thrusters to overload and rammed her opponent. Both fighters' reactors cracked, and the sky was again bright with thermonuclear light.
Daria stepped out of her pod and found Jane smiling and sipping on a soda.
"Damn, Daria. You're vicious!"
Daria smirked then frowned when she saw Ted and his three buddies getting out of their pods.
"I told you she was good." Ted said to his friends, who seemed disappointed.
Daria went up and smacked Ted on the back of his head.
"Thanks a lot, gum-boy. That's ten bucks down the tubes." Daria growled and walked away.
Ted looked hurt.
Jane walked up to him and took a stick of gum from the package in his pocket, sneered as she put it in her mouth, then followed Daria.