Disclaimer: The characters and situations of Space Above and Beyond depicted in this story are the legal property of Glen Morgan and James Wong, Hard Eight Productions and 20th Century Fox Television and have been used without their permission. No copyright infringement intended.

PG rated for mild language

Comments are always welcome at dougvader@juno.com


A Tale of Two Wars


Elaine Davidson

Two houses, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene.
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
  William Shakespeare - Romeo and Juliet

Chapter One

He didn't like mysteries. McQueen viewed the aerial photos for what seemed like the hundredth time. How could a small military/mining operation like Ft. Yamashita have so successfully evaded the Chig's wrath for so long? They had no superior defenses, at least none recorded in the specs he had been poring through endlessly the last couple of weeks. The harsh planet, Janus, where the outpost resided accorded it no protection. An easy victory for the Chigs yet they avoided it like the plague. Now the Earth Alliance had ordered the Saratoga to escort the war damaged Lincoln to Ft.Yamashita for repairs.

He had questioned the orders in private with his commanding officer. "Glen, we might as well destroy the Lincoln ourselves, because there sure isn't any protection that will stop the Chigs at Janus. Heading to Earth would be the better option."

"Ty, heading to Earth is not an option. The orders were quite implicit, Janus is our destination." He smiled. "This may be the only time you and Commodore Harris agree on anything." Ty and Lincoln's Commodore Harris, had bumped heads on everything from flight readiness procedures to fundamental principles of leadership. While Glen ran interference for Ty, because in his opinion, Harris was extremely old school, however, sometimes Harris's rank won out. "Harris fought this order all the way to the top and lost. What infuriated Harris the most,is that they wouldn't tell him why he had to go to Janus. The only thing I can think of is that maybe the rumors about the pirates being based on Janus are true. Maybe they are a deterrent to the Chigs. "

McQueen snorted. "I don't believe a bunch of criminals would have the Chigs running scared, not when they daily shoot the best the we have to offer out of the sky ."

"End of discussion. The orders come from the top. We are to deposit the Lincoln at Janus."

"Permission to take a reconnaissance team ground-side upon arrival."

Commodore Ross strummed his guitar, Rosalind. Ross stopped abruptly and looked at his friend and second in command. "Help me understand why I should place one of my officers and squadrons in danger unnecessarily?"

"Don't you want to know why the top brass feels Janus is safe?" McQueen played his trump card. One day we may need to come back here to repair the Saratoga, wouldn't you want all the facts before making that decision?"

Glen quit smiling, leave it to McQueen to strike him at his most vulnerable area, the Saratoga. "You know they say curiosity killed the cat. However, if you want to take a look ground-side be my guest. But Ty watch your back. It's a known fact that the pirate scum loathes invitros.There are documented reports of missing IVs never seen again, probably enslaved as forced laborers."

"I'll be sure and leave a trail of bread crumbs."

Thoughts of Janus were dismissed as the battle claxons blared. Damn he thought, this is the third time in five days that the Chigs had attacked. It almost seemed like they were hell bent on preventing the two carriers from reaching their goal. As he quickly strode to the battle bridge, he knew the 58th were already in the air. Along with the other squadrons, the Wild Cards had fought bravely these past days. Their skill and courage were the only reasons that they weren't floating dead in space. He pushed out stray errant thoughts about wanting to fly with them, and put on his com ear piece so he could monitor the battle.Because of his inner ear injury, an observer instead of a flyer was his lot in life now. His kids were up there and he vowed that not one would die on his watch if he could help it.

A Chig laser shot barely missed the back of the hammerhead. "Hawkes watch your six." Vansen's voice trembled with rage. When was he going to learn not to get so carried away trying to shoot the Chigs in front of him, that he ignored the Chigs behind him!

"I've got his back Shane". Vanessa fired her laser cannon on the problem Chig. It exploded in a blaze of light. It's fuselage shattering into a million pieces.

"Hoorah! Nice shot!," Wang yelled.

"Thanks Phoose." Hawkes jinxed to the right, regrouping with the others. A corner of his mind registered that Shane was pissed with him. What was worse than that thought was that he knew he was never going to be able to get his explanation into words. When in space, even during the worst of the fighting, he felt safe. He knew the Cards watched his back. His best contribution to the group was taking point, and using his superior shooting skills to take down as many of the Chiggies as possible.

"Cut the chatter," Shane ordered. "LIDAR shows three on three at nine o'clock. Saratoga we need assistance. What's the ETA on reinforcements?"

McQueen hesitated, he knew they needed to know the truth. No matter how hard he came down on the pit crew the 47th's hammerheads had been so damaged from the last night's attack that even working around the clock they were still not ready. He wanted to give them hope, but he had to settle on reality. McQueen's voice boomed through their helmets. "The 47th will be ready in 40 mikes."

"40 mikes, we'll be spam in 40 mikes!," Hawkes blurted, a half beat later he added "sir".

"Pull it together, Cards." Shane knew she had to take control of the situation. The 32nd and 22nd had taken massive casualties, both Lincoln squad's wing leaders had been killed. West had regrouped the pilots still left and unofficially became their new leader. Shane made it official. "Nathan stay with the 32nd and the 22nd. Your honcho."

"Hawkes, Phoose, Wang on my six. We're taking point. Let West and the newbies catch our misses."

For the next thirty minutes, hammerheads and Chig fighters danced to a deadly and daunting music. One stumble led to a eternity of darkness. At times during the fierce and heated battle the scales of fate seem to be favoring the enemy, at other times it looked like the hammerheads were giving as good as they were getting. As McQueen intently watched and listened to the battle he thought maybe his kids could hold on until the calvary arrived. He would trade his soul to the devil to be able to fly with the 58th at this moment to assist them.

"No way, no fucking way, LIDAR shows another two on three approaching at 3 o'clock, only 75 MSK out. Give us break, will yah," Hawkes snorted in disgust.

McQueen's heart almost stilled as he heard Hawkes pronouncement of doom. Where in the universe were these fighters coming from? Damn they had been so close. What good would the 47th be, if they were five mikes too late? If he thought it would help speed up the process, he would push the damaged hammerheads out of the launching bays himself. Queen Six was not going to allow himself the luxury of despair at this moment. The pilots needed him to be their anchor, their center of calm. "OK boys and girls, it's Alamo time. Everyone regroup, stay close to the covering fire of the 'Toga and the Lincoln. Don't let them lead you away from the carriers. You can bear anything, one minute at a time."

"What dead dude said that sir," why he was curious when he was about to be spammed Hawkes couldn't figure out, maybe he just didn't want to die a dumb tank.

Lt. Alveraz of the 32nd beat Queen Six to the punch line, "Abe Lincoln". A rallying cry went up among the 32nd and the 22nd. The Lincoln may be temporarily out of action, but they could still defend their carrier's honor and score some major hurting to the enemy.

He always knows what to say, how does he do it?, thought Shane. "Cards and kiddies, be careful of friendly fire. It would be a real downer, to avoid the Chigs only to get hit by our own carrier's cannons."

The new bringers of death seemed to be focused on Nathan and the newbies. Nathan knew the Cards were still engaged with the last wave of fighters and feared they would not reach him in time. Even though he just met these pilots a little more than 72 hours ago, he sensed it would still rip his heart out to see them fall one by one. In a millisecond, Nathan planned their defense. Lt. Juan Alveraz was pretty good. If he kept Juan as his wing, the new flyer would probably live to see another battle. Hell, that was no good. He couldn't fool himself. It left everyone else exposed. "Alveraz and I are taking the lead. Braxton take Juan's left wing. Dodd take his right. Rothwell and Huigens on my six."

Dodd was eager for glory. She wanted to be a part of the prestigious 58th. Maybe if she scored enough kills today, she could arrange for a transfer. She saw a stray Chig from the corner of her eye. Wow, how lucky could she get! Her mind rationalized her decision, maybe West wouldn't mind her disobeying orders, if she had a good reason. Like her mother use to say better to ask for forgiveness than for permission. She left Juan's wing to go after a easy kill.

"Dodd, don't!" screamed Nathan. It was an old Chig trick. One Chig would get very close to a pilot, and when the pilot pulled away >from formation to take it out, it's two Chiggie partners would swoop in for the kill. Not only did they get the stray pilot, it made the remaining team more vulnerable.

Dodd never had time to register Nathan's warning. She didn't even see the fatal shot, so intent was she on getting a kill. "Damn," he thought, as he watched her ship disintegrate from the direct hits of two Chig fighters.

"Cards, if we don't get help ASAP, we're on a one-way ticket to taps-ville," Nathan couldn't quite keep the fear out of his voice. If he had to go out in a blaze of glory, he wanted it to be with the Cards, and not these strangers. Resigned to his fate, he vowed to make it hard on the Chiggies. "OK people, let's regroup. On my wing, v formation."

Nathan had no illusions, this maneuver wasn't going to buy them more than a minute or two. "Don't fire, until I say, and then don't stop," he instructed his ragtag squadrons. "Don't break formation, don't pass go, and don't make it a gimme."

As the Chigs raced closer, Nathan hoped his parents would be able to accept his death and get some comfort from the letter he had sent home for his brother's death. He was about to give the order to fire, when he heard piercing howling over the com. Oh shit, the Chigs are trying to block our transmissions.

The inhuman baying sounded like a pack of crazed wild dogs. Several Chig fighters veered from their collision course with the hammerheads and retreated. Maybe, Nathan thought, it's their new way of communicating instead of the clicks and whistles that McKendrick was decoding. That theory was literally blown to bits, when the two closest enemy bogies exploded into gigantic fireballs.

A new voice was heard on the pilots' com system. "We figured you jarheads needed some help, anytime you want some pointers on how to actually blow the Chiggies up instead of the other way around, drop on by. For a small fee, we could teach you how to fly."

"This is Queen of Diamonds, identify yourselves." Shane was in no mood for attitude.

"Lady, we're the pilots that pulled your butts from the fire. Once you reach Janus you can thank me up close and personal. Until then let's have a little less talk and a lot more action."

The two new pilots, flying in a tight formation that made Shane reluctantly admit that they may be as good as their claims, proceeded to methodically destroy any Chig fighter that came into their sights. The Chig bandits realizing the easy pickings were over, started to retreat back into the cold dark space from which they had come.

The lead newcomer's arrogant tone broke the silence "Now that we've given you a freebie lesson, we'll leave the rest of these Chiggies for you to clean up as homework. Sweet dreams, Queen of Diamonds. If ever you need a King of Love, just ask for Ice. This is the wolf pack signing out."

No one could make out Shane's sarcastic reply over the animal wailing of the pilots as they altered course and departed. Nathan had been so busy fighting, that he hadn't had a chance to thank them. That may be to his benefit he thought, since Shane seemed to be really put off with the new guys' behavior except for their shooting of the Chigs.

While the fighting subsided outside of the Saratoga, the in-fighting inside the battleship became fierce. Commodore Ross wondered when Commodore Harris of the Lincoln was going to give it a rest. The man had been ranting and raving for the last 5 minutes straight. Ross didn't even try to argue with the belligerent officer, a waste of breath he thought. He saw the glint in McQueen's eye. His second in command was the only other officer in the ward room. Let's see how funny he thinks it is if I side with Harris. A miracle, Harris had actually stopped complaining to demand that Ross explain his treasonous actions.

"Commodore Harris," Ross was using his best diplomatic tone, "Colonel McQueen did not order the Saratoga to fire on the pirates, because they were helping our pilots eliminate the enemy."

"Under the Piracy and Sedition Act of 2048, pirates are considered to be enemies of Earth, and are to be stopped using deadly force if needed. Any aid given to the pirates is considered treason."

"I know about the Piracy and Sedition Act, however in this situation when we were vastly outnumbered it was prudent to not think too closely about the letter of the law."

"You're wrong, Ross. You don't let the enemy flank you. When you are not looking and when you least expect it they'll stick a knife in your back. A long sharp nasty thing, and then they'll twist it." He sighs. "But it was your call. During the repair of the Lincoln, I'll be ground-side, and then it will be my call when these "situations" as you call them happen."

Ross watched as Harris stormed out of the room. He turned to McQueen. "Janus is getting a little crowded between the Chigs, the pirates and Harris. Are you sure it's the best move to go?"

"There's a piece of the puzzle that's missing. Since it looks like we are going to be in this region awhile, I think a little recon would be the most prudent course of action."

"That's a load of b.s.," Ross shook his head. "I know you Ty, you can't stand it when you can't figure something out. Take the Cards to watch your six, and don't make me regret this decision."

McQueen left the room in search of his squadron. While he was proud of them taking the lead in the battle and winning against great odds, he had a feeling that the battles ahead would become even more treacherous. How was he going to prepare them to meet these new challenges?

Most of the 58th Squadron, known as the Wild Cards, were unwinding after their narrow escape from death at their favorite ship board spot, the Tun Tavern. Well if they were being honest it was the only spot that served drinks, so that feature pushed it to the top of their favorite's list. After the heat of the battle, they just wanted to forget. Playing cards, listening to music, playing fooseball, drinking beers whatever helped became a favorite activity.

Shane Vansen noticed how the conversation stopped as she came closer to the table where her friends were sitting. She rolled her eyes as she sat down. "Don't stop on my account. I don't care if you want to waste your time talking about the dog faced boys from planet Janus."

"Shane, you gotta give them their due," Vanessa said in their defense. "They have the manners of juveniles, but..."

"They can kick Chiggie butt with the best of them," Wang finished her sentence.

"They were lucky," Shane took a sip from her beer. She was about to comment again, when she noticed that McQueen had walked up to their table. Something in his bearing said he wasn't coming to play a game of cards.

"There's no such thing as luck or destiny," McQueen lectured in his no nonsense tone. "Planning and preparation is what caused those pilots to shoot down the number of Chigs that they did. Starting tomorrow at 05:00 I want you all to report to the flight sims, and run through two hours worth each day."

"We ain't no newbies that need sim training, sir," the last thing Hawkes wanted to do was to sit in some small machine for two hours.No one could convince him that pilots gave their best when they knew it was make believe.

For once Cooper was right. Shane stood up and faced the Colonel prepared for his wrath because she was defying him, "Sir with all due respect, we are the best in the fleet. We were outnumbered today, that's why we got into trouble."

"So what's to keep you from being outnumbered tomorrow, or the next day, or a year from now, when the Chigs are gone and you are facing down a squad of those pirates."

Shane's throat was dry, his blue eyes seemed to reach right into her soul. He was right, of course. Why did she even think that he could be wrong. "Nothing but planning and preparation sir!" She turned to her squad, "Tomorrow 05:00 be in the sim room."

West threw his cards on the table in disgust. Why did Vansen have to back down? Ship scuttlebutt was going to be bad. The great 58th training like a bunch of FNKs. Well what else could ruin the night? It was already hard enough to find time to write to his parents and his girlfriend, Kylen's parents. Both families were going through some bad times at home coming to grips with his brother's death and her imprisonment (in his heart he knew Kylen wasn't dead, but he didn't know if her parents were as optimistic as he was) and it was tearing him up that he couldn't be there to help them. While he never had problems in the past putting his thoughts on paper, now he seemed to always have doubts on what to say. He didn't want to sound patronizing, but he was still living his nightmare. He down played his problems, because deep in his heart he knew they was barely able to cope with theirs. He loved them with all of his heart, but it was very hard to be their knight in shining armor when he was millions of MSKs away. Nathan looked up as McQueen stopped at the door and turned around to address them. This is it, thought Nathan, he going to kick us while we down and out for the count.

"There's a briefing tomorrow at 14:00."

"Are we going on a mission soon sir?" Vansen inquired.

"We're going planet side when we reach Janus. I'll give you the details tomorrow."

The next morning McQueen went past the sim room on his way to the bridge to make sure his kids were where they were suppose to be. For several hours he reviewed all new intelligence on Janus. As they approached their destination, he would get live feeds but none of the data was drastically different then what Intel already had on file. Janus had two military bases. The ground base was the usual military installation, however the recently constructed space station was a brilliant piece of architecture. It was positioned in the middle of an stable orbital asteroid belt that maneuvered around Janus. Normally it would be a relatively easy approach to the station, any type of heavy cruiser could blast the asteroids into rubble. This was the genius part, almost every rock bigger than 10 meters had a motion detector on it which triggered some heavy duty armament. Multiple rocks could track a single bogie and fire from different angles. It was all computerized and when a friendly came, it was deactivated. McQueen was wondering why Earth didn't set up a similar perimeter defense when he noticed the time. He wanted to talk to Ross before the briefing.

"Who's at my hatch?," Ross demanded. He bent down and strummed his guitar. The final cords to the song seemed to elude him.


"Enter." Ross looked up as his friend entered the room. "Thought you had a briefing at 14:00? By the way, you know the whole ship is buzzing about the Cards sim practice?"

"Not you too."

"Whoa, you know I'll back you in whatever discipline you decide is necessary. They were kind of sloppy during the last battle."

"They were outnumbered." McQueen stopped, he knew what Glen was trying to do. Put him on the defensive about the Cards. "You know as well as I do, that Harris is hot for an encounter with the pirates, any day any way. The pirates are good, the Cards need to be better. It's only a matter of time until they won't be fighting on the same side."

"The fool. We need to cease hostilities with the pirates. We need all the allies we can get, we sure as hell have enough enemies."

"While on the topic of Harris, what do you know about him?"

"West Point graduate, fought with distinction during the AI rebellion, round of bad luck with the Lincoln. He salvaged the situation as best as possible." Ross peered intently at McQueen, "Why all this sudden interest?"

"I don't believe in coincidence, he seems to be the wrong man, at the wrong place, at the wrong time. I just wanted to know if he had any vested interests."

"Let me guess, you want me to use my time and my clearance on some fool hunch."

"Only if you think my fool hunch might be possible."

"Uhph," Ross snorted, "I believe the term is check mate."

McQueen walked out of the his Commander's office almost smiling. He was never sure when he went up against Ross. More often than not Ross was the winner, but sometimes when he had tripled check his homework, he came out with his request being honored. He was in a good mood as he traveled through the ship. He entered the briefing room with two minutes to spare. The Wild Cards were already seated and waiting for him.

Next : Chapter Two

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