Some of his buddies, retired servicemen turned freelance haulers like himself, were killed attempting to make a pickup
on Dellin a couple years back, and it had been a big wakeup call to Everson. The situation on Charon III had gotten really bad, with the Acheron military deeming any outside forces entering Dellin airspace a threat. The two states had been at war for ages, I remember reading about it in school, but Acheron had become steadily more aggressive over the last few years. Everson heard about Sword of Hope, and had experience flying Hercules in the navy. He wanted to help. He “had to” is how he put it. I love talking with Everson. I love his stories. But that one made me feel like a jerk. Like, who am I? Some post-grad that went to one too many rallies and gets off on annoying her parents? I’m on a mission with this veteran who has real harrowing stories of loss. Not to mention real applicable skills. It makes me question my motifs, my character, and my entire life trajectory up to this moment. But Everson is a kind dude, and he keeps reassuring me that I’m here for a reason.
As I was contemplating exactly what that reason might be, Everson pointed out three more Hercules, A2 gunships, flying out ahead.
He said that I shouldn’t be scared by the drills, because if anything went down, those bad boys would take care of it before we were within firing range. As it turns out, he was mostly right.
Last night as we began preparing to enter the atmosphere of Charon III, the sirens went off.
But this time it wasn’t a drill. Foregoing our recent training, I snuck up to the cockpit for a better view of the action. Everson sort of rattled off this play-by-play that I only half understood, while the rest of his small crew scrambled to man the remote gun turrets that basically serve as our last hope and prayer. So to speak.
We were engaged as soon as we broke through, I think. It all seemed to be over in a matter of minutes, but again, my internal clock is all messed up. Acheron fighters were all over us, throwing their weight around and focusing most of their firepower on the A2s, while the beefy fighters on our side bobbed and weaved, taking pot shots at the Acheron ships and trying to draw them away. One bogie took the bait, and two more of their fighters were obliterated by the A2s themselves. Unfazed, the Hercules took the brunt of the Acheron assault, their multitude of turrets patiently locking on and pummeling their targets. The fighters dropped like flies, shrugged off by the massive A2s.