He shifted in his seat, getting used to a tight, armored flight suit he probably hadn’t worn in…easily 6 years.
“Docking Command, this is Firebrand, requesting undock and guidance to safe maneuvering distance.” A near-growl into the throat mic was all it took.
“Rodger, Firebrand, unclasp, forward at niner-zero M.S., heading one-three-one by zero-zero-zero, upper tier undock. Clear forcefields at twelve-twelve time, then accel to one-three-hundred M.S. for one k until clear.”
“Aye, command, unclasp, forward at niner-zero, one-three-one by zero-zero-zero, upper tier, clear at twelve-twelve, accel one-three hundred for one k ’till clear.”
“Quod subsisto tractus, Firebrand“
A normal call between fighter pilots. And stay the course, how fitting. Command was a veteran.
“Quod subsisto tractus, Command. Firebrand Out.”
The figure in the co-pilot’s seat in front of Trensk turned their head, a shock of red hair flowing from under their helmet. “Firebrand?! Really, Trensk?”
Trensk laughed, hitting the button on the display above him to unclasp their Mantis from their moorings. “I didn’t choose the name, Lizza, you can blame Lit for selling me the thing. I suspect it’s her fault. She knew you’d fly it.”
There was a general grumbling of swear words in front of him as Trensk pulled the Mantis to the correct bearing and speed, as natural as if it was his own body. He checked thruster readings, electric generator amperage, voltage, and wattage, HVAC systems, and nervously, the weapons locks.
Exactly 12 minutes to their unclasping, they exited the force fields of the undock, their Mantis soaring into the cold depths of space outside Indigo City Station. Trensk double checked the weapons locks, then let his hands dance across his control console, transferring control to the co-pilot’s seat, while maintaining an emergency override on his station.
“Alright, Lizza, you heard him, accelerate to thirteen-hundred meters a second and hold for a kilometer, then you’re free to go.”
She nodded (which he explicitly told her not to do in the fibo), and gently pushed the throttle, pushing the mantis to 100 m/s under it’s max speed and holding, flying for exactly one kilometer at that speed.
“Alright, Lizza, remember, don’t go too crazy, you haven’t flown for long. Go at it, girl.”
And go at it she did.
Immediately, she pulled into a steep climb, going vertical to the solar plane as she pushed the Mantis right into it’s max speed, the acceleration and g’s pushing them back into their speeds. Trensk reacted naturally, his legs tensing and untensing to control blood flow while he settled into his seat, amused by the scene in front of him.
She seemed to shake in her seat, most likely from the sheer adrenaline and nervousness you felt at the helm of a fighter-bomber. Elizabeth dragged the fighter into tight maneuvers, tracing a looping, Immelmann-ing, barrel-rolling arc around Indigo City, the massive form of the planet dwarfing all.
She kept at this for a few hours, almost never seeming to tire of it. She was sure like her mother, never seemed to tire of things she found she loved. Soon enough, however, Elizabeth slowed the Fibo, gliding low over the glittering metal skin of the station.
“Had fun?” Trensk finally said, grinning under his helmet. She nodded, again.
“Well, pull five kilometers out, and aim the ship away from the sun.” Elizabeth paused, but ended up shrugging and pulling away from the station.
Five kilometers out, and aimed towards the inky blackness of the outer solar system, she slowed the Mantis to a halt, floating in the void. Trensk finally undid the locks, double-checking the craft’s payload and the programming of the weapons.
“Alright, Lizza, fire.”
Immediately the payload was released, bombs and missiles flying out into the void. One hundred, two hundred, five hundred meters, then they exploded, a colorful fire of blue and red arcing across their view port, bathing the interior of the cockpit in beautiful, shimmering light. Trensk could almost feel Elizabeth smiling as the girl in front of him settled back into her seat.
“Happy birthday, Lizza.”