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Chapter 43 - What Could Go Wrong[]

9 September 3041
Inner End (Federated Commonwealth)

"YEEE HAAAWWWWW!!!!!!" Commodore Franklin Noble yelled as the SL-26 Samurai rocketed off the Titan Fighter Carrier Dropship with more Gitty up and go than his once beloved Corsair. He kept the throttle maxed and quickly attained a 5.5g level acceleration. More than a Corsair could attain. The fact that the Samurai held and extra 3 tons of fuel meant this bird would be a major threat from further away on intercept but would be the bane of every fighter carrying the standard 5 ton fuel load as they turned for home while the Samurai could give chase.

Samurai Aerospace Fighter

Samurai Medium Aerospace Fighter

He pulled back on the throttle and let his forward thrusters slow him down to a normal 1g. Double checking that he was pointed in a safe direction he let fly with all his forward weaponry only this time he carefully watched his heat monitor. Just like the Hammerhead, barely a blip on the heat scale as the ships cooling system was able to entirely take the full load of heat generated by the weapons. He was not sure how the Samurai would handle in the atmosphere, but as a space borne fighter it would be a terror. He had been expressly ordered not to take the Samurai into the atmosphere where it might be seen by any and all on the ground. About the only thing he would change was the weapons locations. He would prefer his large lasers to be in the nose instead of each wing. He would give up the 2 small lasers in the wings to fit another medium laser in to balance the load. That would put both his heavy hitters on a target at all times with the ability to deliver nonstop fire with them.

Even with that extremely minor mental complaint, he was more than happy with the Samurai. With it the AFFC would have a better chance of dealing with the Combines dreaded Slayer on a more equal footing. For over 200 years the AFFS has had to always launch an escort for returning strikes to prevent the Slayers from having a free lunch on retiring AFFS fighters, where virtually everyone carried a 5 ton fuel tank while the Slayer carrier a 10 ton fuel tank. A favorite tactic of the Slayer was to hang back, let other fighters mix it up with the AFFS fighters causing them to burn fuel and then pounce when the AFFS fighters began turning around for home for lack of fuel while the Slayer had enough fuel to hound them all the way back home. Come to think of it, he would be willing to give up all the small lasers, slide a medium laser into each wing and the last medium laser into the Aft to pair with the one already there. Pour the weight savings into an extra 2 tons of fuel and the AFFC could meet the Slayer on a totally equal footing. He mentally logged both ideas to add to his report for the Grim Reaper, aka Quintus Allard.

Slayer Heavy Fighter (in storms)

Slayer Heavy Aerospace Fighter

On the ground, Chief Vincent Zuniga inspected the work on the Mule Cargo Dropship. He carefully inspected the cargo lifts, checking for leaks, any sign of binding but they ran smooth as a baby's butt. He walked the various cabins, refurbished with new interiors complete with a private entertainment system for each cabin, that way an off-duty crewman could kick back and relax, watching or listening to what he wanted. No more gathering in a common area and fighting over what to watch with other crew or passengers. That had always been a gripe of his when he was a lower ranked crew. While he never intended to let the Monarchs touch ground during a mission, at least he would advise against it, the lunar recovery of the Titan Dropship had shown him the need for extra manpower. Worst case, the Monarchs stayed in space and the Intrusive, unit's Intruder Assault Dropship, could shuttle the rest of the unit to the surface. He had spent a few hours convincing Leftenant Colonel Mitchell to hang on to at least 6 of those Mining Mechs, no telling when they might be needed again and though they were built for use in vacuum, they were capable of operating in gravity just fine.

Intruder DropShip (Modern & Underway)

Intruder Class Assault DropShip

Not far from where Chief Zuniga was performing his inspection, Leftenant Colonel David Mitchell was saying fair well to Master Sergeant Dickens, Sergeant Andrews, Sergeant Bales and Sergeant Estevez who were departing to return to duty this evening. "Thank you all for the hard work in getting my people trained up on boarding and anti-boarding ops." He shook each person's hand in turn.

"It's what they pay us to do sir. It was a pleasure, and I really mean that. The food was excellent, never seen so much catering before in any sort of unit. The quarters were fair, but we at least had private rooms. Too bad we could not have stayed in one of those fancy barracks your building over there, but it was way better than an open bay. Your people listened and followed our directions better than most. You have a really good group of people under your command. Almost like you cherry picked them, but your not AFFS anymore so you can do that sort of thing. As to our little talk a few months ago, I will keep my eyes and ears peeled, maybe get you some real Marines." Master Sergeant Dickens replied

"You ever get out, any of you, look us up. Door is always open to any of you four." Leftenant Colonel Mitchell said

"Always good to hear, Sir." Sergeant Estavez replied, he for one had seen a pay stub and it did make him think about his career path.

Over at the Comstar compound, Adept Collin Wellings shook the hand of Adept Leon Hernandez, the first of his oversized strike to team to arrive under an alias. Everyone was traveling solo to avoid MIIO interest, changing identity papers at least 5 times during their many stops. It would take at least two weeks for everyone to arrive. Their special equipment had arrived much faster using Comstars Diplomatic cover to avoid inspections.

"I was told to provide you all the support you request." Adept Wellings said

"I will inform you of our needs as they arrive. Right now, I want to know everything you have found out about the people who took down one of our strike teams. Everything." Adept Hernandez replied

"Of course, have a seat. I have learned quite a bit actually." Adept Wellings said pulling out a huge folder

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