Love And War Bk. 05byIronDragon©
Wow, we're on Book 5 already! Yeah, I've had this story floating around in my head for years, ever since I ran a Carrier in Starfleet Battles and played as the SFMC in the old Star Trek RPG from FASA, including the Starfleet Marines module. What can I say? I'm a 'Trek Geek from way back. lol
Jason and Delaara MacKenzie are very loosely based on myself and a lady I met a long time ago. 'Delaara' is even a Romulan version of her name, as I interpret it. We were never technically enemies, but our instant connection is what I've based my main characters on in these stories. As in 'Love Thy Enemy', we had a pretty torrid eight day affair, and we still remain friends to this day.
Anyhow, after long consideration, this will be the last of the Love And War series. I will be doing some one-shots set later in the Star Trek timeline that I've pretty much invented for future books, and they will star some of the children of current cast members. I hope you enjoyed reading these stories as much as I've enjoyed writing them. :)
Into the Fire
When they boarded the newly refitted and refurbished USS Nimitz, the pilots of Striker Wing, as well as the ship's officers and crew, found quite a few new features. A day care and school for children, refurbished and improved Hangar Decks, not to mention Doc having an expanded MedBay to play around in. He was like a kid in a candy store, according to Tanya Duran, Chief of Security, Weapons Officer, and Doc's girlfriend.
Three months after boarding the improved Nimitz, Colonel Jason 'Cobalt' MacKenzie, Commanding Officer of Striker Wing and the 155th Interceptors: Skull Squadron, and his wife and XO, Commander Delaara, callsign: Demoness, were taking their son, Bryan MacKenzie, to the new daycare and nursery aboard the Nimitz so they could get some Simulator reps in with their Squadron. Lieutenants Jennifer 'Gem' Rozhenko, and her husband, Alexander 'Razor' Rozhenko, were also trying to get pregnant.
So far, the daycare and nursery only had two customers. Bryan MacKenzie and Brandon 'Babyface' Rasher, who already had his callsign reserved for him by his father, Lt. Cmdr. Ryan 'Rash' Rasher. His mother, Rachael Thatcher, was Ryan's wife as well as the Captain of the USS Nimitz.
"Ok, little champ. We'll see you after shift. Love ya." Jason leaned down and kissed his son's forehead, followed closely by Delaara, kissing her son goodbye until they came back to pick him up.
She whispered to him in Romulan. "Be a good boy today, my son. Mother loves you."
They turned, grinning at each other, and headed out to the Flight Hangar and the new and improved Simulator.
"I love what they've done with the place!" Jason said to Delaara.
"So do I, baby." She replied with a grin. "We don't have to worry about Bryan now, either!"
"I know, right?" He chuckled. "So, we need to get our Squad ready for these Valkyrie Mk. IIs. I say we run Alex's Klingon program again and see how these babies increase our kill rate. What do you think?"
"I was hoping for a little one on one... but that can wait for later." Delaara winked at him.
"Mmmm, sweetheart, I love going one on one with you." He replied, stealing a kiss from his wife.
"Hey, guys! Wait up!" Rash ran up behind them. "Just put Brandon in the nursery."
"Hey, Rash! We're going to see how the Valk deuces stand up to Alex's K-Raptor simulation." Jason grinned as his best friend paled. He hated the survival test thrown in with his 'Kill Counters' as he called them.
"Fine, but after that, we do a few Kill Counters so I can pad my record!" Rash grinned.
"Ok, Rash. You got a deal." Jason laughed.
They entered the flight hangar to find Bounce and his team already there, as well as Alex, Jenny, Roy, and his Angels, Gabby and Mari.
"How's being a dad, mates?" Bounce asked his friends as they entered.
"Why, Bounce? You and Marie going to get hitched and pop some out?" Rash asked, punching his buddy in the shoulder.
"We've been thinkin' about it." He grinned back.
"Well, we're holding off until polygamy is legal." Mariel said. She'd been promoted twice and was now a full Lieutenant, just like Gabby and Roy. Her work with Starfleet Intelligence during the extended refit of Nimitz had a lot to do with that, and Jason had been more than happy to promote her himself. In fact, most of Bravo Flight had been working with SI to take down several Orion cartels operating in Federation space.
"Thatcher to Cobalt." Rachael's voice sounded over Jason's combadge. He tapped it.
"Go ahead, Rachael." He said in reply.
"We've just received a comm from Excalibur. We're going to warp now, and will be there shortly. You'll have a shorter training time for the Valk deuces, so get in your reps while you can."
"Roger that, Rachael. Cobalt, out." He tapped his badge again and turned back to his squad. "Change of plans. We're all going to go in and just see what these babies can do. Oorah?"
"Oorah, sir!" They replied in unison.
It was still a bit strange to now be SFMC: Starfighter Division, but that was Starfleet's decision, mostly for rank and protocol procedures. However, they all liked and respected Gunny 'Big Lou' Gibson, so they adopted 'oorah' as their own.
They all entered the simulator and climbed into the generic cockpit pods. Jason started the simulation, and they were sitting in the cockpits of the new SF-77-A Valkyrie Mark IIs and flying through deep space. The new simulator was much more than a modified holodeck, and had twelve pods instead of the four pods from the pre-refit Nimitz. It made Squadron maneuvers possible, which was great for the Skulls and the Strikers in the larger forward flight hangar. They could also link the simulators now for Wing maneuvers, which made Jason's job as Wing Commander much easier as well.
"Skull Lead to Squadron, let's open these babies up!" He grinned as he punched the throttle forward and hit his warp burners. The new fighter shot forward even faster. He checked his payload, and found that the pulse phaser guns has been upgraded, and he now carried five each Photon and Quantum Missiles, instead of the four each the Mk. I had.
"Damn, this fucker's FAST!" Rash shouted over the comm. "I love it!"
"Well, it's got the Rash seal of approval." Delaara grinned. "I'm enjoying it as well."
"Amen to that!" Came Bounce's voice. "I feel the need...."
"The need for SPEED!" shouted Rash in reply.
"Oh hell, not 'Top Gun' again!" Jason laughed. It had to be Bounce and Rash's favorite movie of all time.
They flew through the simulated asteroid belt and Jason threw in a few more simulation parameters, setting them up against twelve Peregrine class Romulan interceptors.
Donatra had shared the specs for them as a part of the new Federation/Empire alliance, and Jason had accepted gratefully. She and Cole had paid their respects to her new little cousin, and then had gone to Ireland with him to spend time with his family in Dublin.
Skull Lead to Squadron. We have twelve incoming hostiles. Take individual and light 'em up!" Jason grinned as the Peregrines appeared on their scopes. He'd set the difficulty on them to Very Hard.
"Bravo copies, Lead." Rash said as they sent their own targets' telemetry Squadron wide.
"Charlie on it, Skull Leader." Bounce said as his flight did the same.
"Alpha's on the rest. You wanted a Kill Counter, Rash. Well, you got it!"
"Pew pew, boss!" Rash came back.
The Skulls engaged and the Romulan interceptors were no match for them. The only one who took any damage whatsoever was Seraph, who had her wing peppered with disruptor fire during her individual dogfight, but had recovered and wasted the Peregrine using a split s maneuver. Her guns blazed as she lit the Romulan's engine up, fireballing it.
They exited the sim, grinning at their new fighters' performance.
"I only set it on Very Hard, by the way." Jason grinned at them.
"I thought it was Easy mode, baby." Delaara said as she grabbed him and kissed him.
"Sweetheart, anything but Extreme mode is easy for you." He said and returned her kiss passionately, making both of their toes curl.
"Striker Wing, mount up! Excalibur has reported hostiles exiting the wormhole, Mac and Elizabeth are holding them with help from the Eisenhower, but we are about to drop from Warp." Rachael's voice said over the PA.
"You heard the lady. Mount up, Skulls!" Jason shouted as he and Delaara sprinted for their fighters.
As their canopies closed, Jason got on Wing channel. "Strikers, let's do this right. We're backing up Eisenhower, Gryphon, and Excalibur. Stiletto will be assigned to Elizabeth and the Gryphon, Scorpion is assigned to Ray and the Eisenhower, and Skulls are supporting Mac and the Excalibur.
"Roger that, Skull Leader." Replied his other Squadron Commanders.
"CAG, do we have telemetry and enemy numbers from Excalibur yet?" Jason asked.
"Enemy forces are confirmed at three battleships, three cruisers, and two battlecruisers, Skull Lead." Colonel Jerov said over the comm.
"Roger that, CAG. Strikers, our primaries are the battleships once we drop from warp." Jason was already calling the shots, and each squadron acknowledged. "Secondary targets are the battlecruisers, and tertiary targets are the standard cruisers."
More acknowledgments sounded over the comms, and Jason switched to Skull frequency. "Ok, Skulls. We know what we have to do. Let's go do it and kick some Jem'Hadar ass! Gloria ad mortem!"
"GLORIA AD MORTEM!" The shouted replies thundered trough the comm, and Jason grinned under his helmet. It had been too long since their last engagement with the Dominion, and it was time to give them hell.
"Exiting warp now. Striker wing, LAUNCH!" CAG shouted.
"Go Skulls! No prisoners!" Jason shouted as he punched his throttle all the way forward and pulled up outside in a half loop over the top of the flight hangar and flew straight at the Dominion ships with his Skulls right behind him.
"Two to Lead. I've got your wing, baby." Delaara said, and Jason grinned. He'd missed hearing her over the comm during a mission. She was telling him that she wouldn't let anything happen to him while they were in battle.
"Battleship 1 is ours, Skulls. Prepare for alpha strike on my mark." Jason said.
"Bravo copies, Lead."
"Charlie copies, Lead."
They armed all weapons and set their missile controls to launch all Quantums in the first volley, and all Photons in the second volley.
"As soon as we enter missile range, fire at will." Jason commanded, to acknowledgments from his flight leaders.
They hit warp burners and closed fast with the first battleship as it fired on the Excalibur. Excalibur was holding her own, but her shields were about to buckle.
As they entered range, the Skulls fired their Quantum alpha strike and locked triggers to sticks as they opened up with their upgraded pulse phasers. Their attack, combined with Excalibur's phaser barrage, fireballed the battleship as they banked out and headed towards Battleship 2. Stiletto had knocked its shields out and were coming about for another pass as the Skulls alpha'd their Photons and once again fired an extended burst from their pulse phasers into the gigantic Jem'Hadar ship. Massive explosions rocked it as it heeled over and finally detonated.
One of the cruisers had started firing at the Skulls. "Evasive maneuvers!" Jason shouted as he felt his Valkyrie rock from the force of a glancing shot from the cruiser. He checked his shields and systems, and he found he was down to 50% shields now. "That hurt. Get inside their tracking and take them point blank!" He shouted as he moved to skim along the surface of the Cruiser, strafing it.
The Skulls all moved in close, strafing the shield generators and plasma turrets, punching holes in the Jem'Hadar ship.
Scorpion had finished off their battleship and both battlecruisers, and the Stilettos had destroyed another cruiser when the Nimitz herself opened up with full phasers and Photon Torpdoes. The last Jem'Hadar cruiser exploded, and they were all clear.
"Skull Leader to Stiletto and Scorpion. Casualties?" Jason asked.
"Stiletto Lead here, no casualties, no fighters lost." Freya reported. She sounded much better now than the last time they'd faced the Dominion.
"Scorpion Lead here, also no casualties or fighters lost, Cobalt. We had a good run today." Merlin also sounded relieved.
"Skull Leader copies, Strikers. Great job all around!" Jason was ecstatic. The new Interceptors for Skull and Stiletto Squads were a blessing, and a huge boost for morale.
"Skull Leader to Excalibur. We've got you covered, Mac." Jason grinned.
"Excalibur to Skull Lead, Thanks for the assist, Jay." Captain Calhoun said over the comm in reply. "Enterprise is on her way to close this wormhole down."
"I was wondering when Starfleet would get around to that!" Rash said over the fleet comm.
"Hey, Rash! Since you guys saved our butts, drinks are on me back at Starbase 1." Mac answered.
"Woohoo! Mac, you're now my second favorite Starship Captain!" Rash's grin was apparent over the comm.
"What? You mean I wasn't already?" Mac asked in a hurt tone.
"Well, Elizabeth is easier on the eyes." Rash chuckled, and Mac laughed.
"I heard that, and I'm telling your wife, Rash!" Captain Shelby said with a laugh of her own.
"Oh, I heard, Liz. Don't worry, he's now in the no-nookie doghouse!" Rachael said with her own chuckle.
"Hey! Baby, you know you're hotter than Elizabeth!" Rash said as he blew her a kiss over the comm.
"Oh bloody hell, boy! I can't stay mad at you!" She replied, chuckling even more.
Rash had a way of alleviating stress with his sense of humor, and had the perfect straightman foils in his friends and Starship Captains.
As they landed back in the flight deck and shut down their fighters, Jason and Delaara once again embraced after a great mission, kissing each other lovingly.
"God, I've missed that with you, baby!" Delaara exclaimed after they'd broken the long lingering kiss.
"So did I, sweetheart. I love flying with you." Jason smiled warmly at his wife. She looked so beautiful in her flight suit, long black hair mussed slightly from her helmet. She let out her braid that she'd wrapped around her head and it fell to her back. She hadn't cut her hair significantly since she'd defected to the Federation, and it was nearly down to her perfect behind. He also noticed that after Bryan's birth, she'd snapped back into shape even faster than Rachael had after Brandon was born.
"Jassonn, my love, I need you tonight." She whispered in his ear in Romulan.
"Then you shall have me, Delaara, my dearest heart." He replied back in her native language.
"We can leave Bryan at the nursery for a bit after we say hi, and finally have an evening to ourselves." She gave him a sultry smile.
It had been hard for the first three months as their son was getting them up at all hours of the night, but they wouldn't trade it for the world. Delaara had gone back on birth control, though.
He was also growing fast already. Being half Human, half Romulan, he aged a bit faster than Romulan children, and as Doc had noted, a little faster than Human children as well. He'd been fascinated, since half Vulcan, half Human children didn't have the same growth characteristics.
"Now that sounds like a plan, sweetheart!" Jason agreed as he pulled her closer.
"Get a room, you two! But first, Ready Room!" Rash shouted at them with his customary greeting after a mission.
"Up yours, Rash!" Delaara shouted after him, then laughed.
"I guess we'd better give Rachael our AAR and then go see our little bambino before we hit 11Forward for a few beers. Then back to bed for an hour or two." Jason grinned as she interlaced her fingers with his, and they walked to the turbolift.
When the doors opened, the Nimitz Bridge crew cheered, and the couple could see on their friends' faces that they really needed a solid win after the pyrrhic victory their last mission had been. With eight Striker pilots KIA, and fifty Nimitz crew dead, it had been a massive blow, not to mention the one hundred sixteen crewmembers Enterprise had lost. This time around, only twenty-seven total lives had been lost on the Federation side. Those had been on Excalibur and Eisenhower. All in all, the mission had been a huge success.
They chimed and heard "Come in, kids!"
Rachael and Rash were grinning ear to ear when they handed her the AAR. She reviewed it quickly. "Well, Colonel, it seems that Striker Wing is back to full strength, and those new Interceptors are really working out!"
"You got that right, Rachael!" Jason grinned. "The increased firepower, speed, maneuverability, and shields are a huge improvement over the mark ones."
"Rash already told me. He's singing their praises!" Rachael laughed. "Jay, you've turned into the top field commander in the Federation, you know that? Your Wing has more kills and fewer casualties than any other Wing in Starfighter Division."
Jason couldn't help the grin of pride that spread over his face. "With all due respect, I have the best damn pilots in the Federation, Rachael."
"You also have the best drills and simulations that you, Delaara, and Razor write. I've taken the liberty of forwarding your simulations to Starfleet Command and the Eisenhower." Rachael said with more than a little pride in her voice.
Rachael was proud of her friends, her crew, and her ship. Fresh paint, new features, improved armaments, shields, and armor made the USS Nimitz NCC-35023 the best damn Carrier in Starfleet Command. Not to mention her crew of roughnecks and mavericks that gave the ship her personality.
"Rachael, I'm going to need a larger flight helmet if you keep that up." Jason laughed.
"Yeah, Rachael. His ego is already nearly as big as his you know what!" Delaara grinned, and both Rash and Rachael blushed.
"Hey, you two get a sex mind meld. No fair!" Rash pouted.
"Blame my mother." Delaara shrugged. "Honestly, Jason is the only man it's happened with, and it caught us both offguard when it first happened on the island."
"Well, you two have a special bond, so I guess it's only natural." Rachael smiled. "Now, out with you while Ryan and I have our after mission debriefing!"
Their next stop was the daycare, where they found Nurse Reilly.
"Hi, Janet. Has Bryan been a good boy today?" Delaara asked with a smile.
"He sure has! And I swear he's grown another inch since you dropped him off this morning." Nurse Janet Reilly laughed. It was a little running joke, since at only three months old, he was as big as a normal six month old Human baby.
"Do you mind watching him for a few hours more, Jan? Delaara and I haven't had a free evening to ourselves for three months, and it's starting to wear on our... intimate life." Jason said with a smile.
"I understand, guys." She smiled back at them. "Go have fun, and come get him when you're ready."
"Thank you, Janet. You are the best!" Delaara hugged the Nurse, and they were off for 11Forward.
When they got there, they spotted Bounce and Marie at the bar, and headed their way.
"Well well! Took a night off from the baby?" Bounce asked with a grin.
"Yeah, we needed an evening to ourselves to have a little fun." Delaara smiled at their friend.
"Good, you two deserve some!" Marie said.
"Yeah, we were just talking about Jenny and Alex's wedding reception, and Marie told me you almost did the same thing to her, Del." Bounce was chuckling.
"Oh, after Jason suggested the solution to Admiral Nelson and Jean-Luc to end the Ferengi-Orion War!" Delaara laughed. "Yeah, I tend to have a bit of a jealous streak in me."
Marie was blushing bright red. "I actually had no idea who I was grabbing at that point. I was pulling a double that night."