Captain Chris Harriman smiled as he punched the holographic fighter up to full power. His fighter accelerated to just under the speed of light, the distant asteroid field quickly becoming large.
"Now remember, James," he said, "this is completely different from the last simulation. I had the computer completely randomize this asteroid field while keeping within normal parameters, as well as add a few extra bonuses."
"I can already see that, sir," Lieutenant James Trikal replied over the comm system. The comm system itself was being masked by the computer so that neither James nor Chris could trace the signal. They could talk to each other, mock each other what ever they wanted to talk about, and not worry about being discovered in the process!
As the field quickly grew in his view, Chris slowed his fighter down to half speed, which was still pretty fast considering what he was about to enter. The asteroid field was dense, big, and dangerous. Not to mention that sensors were severely hindered it would be very difficult for the competitors to find each others fighter.
As he entered the edge of the field, he began to maneuver out of the way of the smaller rocks, wanting to save his shields as much as he could.
As he began to weave back and forth between the rocks, he wondered what the spectators were seeing
Captain Sarah Caft glanced from the left screen, the one showing Chriss fighter, to the right, which displayed Jamess. Both were approaching each other fast, but thanks to the asteroid field, neither probably knew it! I guess pilots just think alike she thought, wishing she possessed the piloting skills those two had.
"Attention all crewmembers," Lieutenant Commander Charley McKariant started over the comm system. "The battle is about to begin! I, Commander McKariant, will be your announcer for this battle of the egos!" Sarah barely contained an outright laugh at the statement, glad Chris or James couldnt hear the announcement.
"Closing on each other quickly, keeping to the outside edge where the asteroids are sparse, neither of them can see each other with sensors! Blinding flying right at each other, this will make for an interesting commencement!"
He was right; neither of them could see each other. Not only did the view screen display their fighters from different angles, views that half of the screens in the ship displayed, the screens created here on holodeck three displayed what their sensors displayed!
They could see everything here but somehow, that didnt deprive them of it all! The overall tactical view showed the entire asteroid, and the red and blue dots quickly approaching each other
If I know Chris, he should be rounding that large one soon James thought to himself. Well, prepare yourself Captain.
He pointed the cross hairs of his targeting system underneath the asteroid, expecting Chris to round it at that point. After all, rounding it from underneath would give Chris a full view of the asteroid field ahead of him. Coming over the top would make him rely on sensors alone, and he was not one to take risks.
Dammit! He cursed at himself. What am I thinking, he is one to take risks!
However, he was too late to get the initial shot off as he saw Chriss fighter come over the top. Then he hit himself in the head again as he realized that this was space, not the planet that had fought on last time. Though there was an elliptical plain that most ships stuck to in a galaxy, space had no gravity and aerodynamics to worry about. As such, Chris went over it inverted, and quickly changed course to drop his sights on James!
As the first pulse blasts streaked out of Chriss twin cannons, James wasted no time and banked hard to port, turning into the direction that the blasts came from. They never had a chance to hit him, thanks to his speed and maneuverability.
He wasted no time as he pushed the throttle up to full, an action that could very well get him killed if he kept going in the direction he was going. However, he had full confidence in his piloting capabilities. He had an idea, and he needed a small moon-sized asteroid to do the trick.
His sensors told him that Chris was hot on his tail, firing pulse blasts as he went. James didnt have any trouble at all using the asteroid field to keep him safe. Weaving back and forth, the only thing Chris could do was follow him and hope to get a lucky shot off.
Suddenly, a Quantum Torpedo shot past Jamess cockpit. Whyd you waste a torpedo when you knew it would miss? James thought. That didnt seem like Chris at all. This battle could turn out to be very long if Jamess idea didnt work, and as such, they could very possibly run out of antimatter to replicate for the torpedoes.
Suddenly, almost too late, James realized what he missed. The torpedo impacted on a hard metal asteroid. Because of the asteroids composition, it did not vaporize, it simply blew apart in several large chunks.
James quickly inverted and dove under one piece, then hit the rudder hard to his starboard as he rolled back ninety degrees to avoid yet another piece. Little pebble-sized debris began impacting his shields, but did little damage and simply vaporized on contact.
He passed the heated core just before it flew into his path, and then he pulled up hard to avoid another, undamaged asteroid as it flew through the debris field.
He finally rolled his craft to match the elliptical plain and began his set of maneuvers through the ever-thickening asteroid field.
"Nice flying, James," Chris said.
"Nice tactic," James replied, smiling. The battle had almost ended then and there, but James had once again proven his worth as a pilot.
Finally, as they approached the central area of the asteroid field, James spotted the type of asteroid he was looking for. He quickly pointed his fighter in the general direction and made quick progress towards it, making sure Chris never got a shot off that would end the battle.
As they entered the gravity field of the larger asteroid, smaller ones were slowly accelerating towards it, making Jamess job harder. It did, however, also make Chriss job harder.
At the last minute, he pulled up and began running his craft along the ground. He kept a close eye on the smaller ones flying down from above, not wanting to be taken by surprise by one of them.
After just a few moments of flight time, James found what he had spotted from further out. Inverting his craft, he pulled away from the asteroid slightly, then pulled hard back on the control stick, diving the fighter into a tunnel that dove straight into the asteroid.
He muted the communications between Chris and himself for a moment, then said, "Computer, prepare three Quantum Torpedoes to be launched without being fully armed. Have them land on the tunnel walls and then have them detonate when Chriss fighter passed by them."
"Modifications in progress."
James smiled as he checked his aft sensors, then smiled even deeper when he saw that Chris was still following him. "If the blast doesnt kill you, the cave in will."
Good, now all I have to do is find the right place to launch them.
The tunnel itself was a weaving maze, some tunnels broke off from his and went to the side, probably leading to the surface. That, of course, wasnt what James wanted.
Finally, he saw it up ahead. The tunnel seemed to be a dead end, but his sensors showed that the tunnel turned to starboard in a sharp eighty-degree turn. Almost a full right angle, which is exactly what I need.
He slowed his fighter down a little in preparation as he tried to get as close to the port side as he could. Finally, having already rolled his craft starboard ninety degrees, he pulled hard back on the control stick as he brought the throttle to almost zero. When he was pointed in the right direction, he punched the throttle to full for a moment, then brought it down as his fighter entered the tunnel.
He pulled the trigger three times, launching the three torpedoes. His sensors confirmed that they latched onto the tunnel in a triangle formation. Not wanting to be caught in the blast, he punched the throttle up to what he deemed was the fastest, safest speed in the tunnels and concentrated on maneuvering.
Mimicking Jamess maneuver, Chris pulled back hard on the stick and brought his throttle down to near zero. His fighter in free fall for a moment, he pointed his fighter in the right direction. Then, momentarily, he punched it up to full to get his momentum going in the right direction.
As he got comfortable in this new direction, a sensor alarm suddenly sounded. Too late, he realized the trap he had just fallen into.
He ship suddenly jerked as three bright flashes, followed by explosions, blinded his sight. He quickly killed his throttle and turned his thrusters on full reverse, trying to stop his fighter. His shields flared to life as the explosions rocked his ship hard. He rotated his fighter to match the gravitational well of the asteroid, knowing that the cavern was about to collapse.
His fighter lurched down, making Chris feel negative g-forces. The collapsing rocks impacted hard on his already weakened shields as the fighter hit the tunnel wall, throwing him back into his seat.
His fighter kept shaking and shuddering as the tunnel continually collapsed on him, but his shields were slowly weakening, and thats all that mattered to him.
"Guess its over, now, eh Chris?"
Chris shook his head, not ready to accept defeat. "Dont bet on it, Ive still got enough power in my shields to survive a few Quantum Torpedo blasts."
He immediately pulled the trigger on his Pulse Cannons, heating the rocks directly in front of him. When the rocks looked hot enough to collapse, he fired off three Quantum Torpedoes. All three went right through the super-heated rock far enough not to destroy his shields, then detonated.
Not wasting time to see if his tactic had worked, he punched the throttle up to nearly full, firing two more torpedoes just to be safe. The explosions further weakened his shields, but at the last minute, he made it out of the collapsed portion of the tunnel, with two percent to spare on his shields.
Nows as good a time as any to reset shields he thought, keying in the command on his panel.
As he made his way towards the surface of the asteroid, his shields went down to try to reform. "Sorry to disappoint you, James, but I just made it out of that trap."
There was a moment of silence on the other end, then James finally replied with, "No matter, your shields are probably very weak. Ill have you soon enough."
Chris smiled, somehow doubting that. He wasnt going to let James win this one.
Just before he reached the surface, his shields finally came back on. Though only at sixty-five percent, that was better than nothing.
His sensors immediately picked up Jamess fighter, but the asteroid field made him immediately lose that lock. It was too late for James, however, as he knew just which direction to go.
Pointing his fighter slightly to port, he punched the throttle back up to full as he waved between the dense asteroid field.
"OK, James its time to end this here and now."
"Well see, Captain." James replied in his usual cocky manner when he thinks hes won.
Chris knew his sensors were greatly weakened, which gave James the advantage. However, he still had his eyes. He began scanning around him, slowing down so that he had an easier time navigating while looking for the other fighter.
Suddenly, he saw a reflection of light, and looked to the ships starboard. Too late for Chris to do anything, several Quantum Torpedoes were already on top of him.
"Red alert, all holodeck simulations will now be shut down." The computer suddenly stated.
"NOOOO!" James shouted in reply.
Star Trek Dragon graphics and written
material copyright Jon Wasik. Star Trek is a registered