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» Orca

Author: Wraith
Date Started: 11th March 2002
Explanation: "Orca" is an exciting story featuring nothing less than the orca, the renowned fighter-helicopter found in the Tiberian Univserse of C&C games.

Chapter 1

On the flight deck of the USS Wasp, an amphibious assault carrier donated by the United States, the ORCA pilots of the GDI 7th Armored Cavalry Regiment, 4th Air Cavalry Squadron, "Q" Attack Group, began running through their preflight checklists and CW-3 (Chief Warrant Officer, Third Class) Mike Grayson was no exception. He had been through this list 300 times, but he never took shortcuts or skipped a step. He knew how unstable these ORCAs were in a hover and at low speeds thus he had always striven for "zero defects." His weapons officer, WO-1 (Warrant Officer First Class) Carlos Martinez, loomed up out of the predawn darkness carrying the DTD (Data Transfer Device), a little gadget resembling a video game cartridge. He inserted it into a socket on the crowded instrument panel, automatically loading the mission's assigned radio frequencies, navigational waypoints, and IFF mode codes. The DTD would remain in its socket recording critical flight data from the ORCA's control system, for after-action review. A blank videotape was already loaded in the ORCA's onboard video recorder to capture a permanent record of every target engagement. "Our call sign tonight is Ghost Two-Two," said Martinez.

"Ghost Two-Two," Grayson grunted in acknowledgment. The immediate threat to the GDI landing that they were supporting on Africa's Gold Coast was Nod armor, so the ORCA was loaded for tank-busting, with four Hellfire missiles on one weapons pylon and a 7mm unguided rocket pod on the other. Martinez missed having the twin Minigun pods, missiles were way too easy, and he liked to shoot up Nod Buggies and other "soft" targets with the guns. That took some skill, and a light touch on the controls. He had both.

The imaging infrared camera on a stealth recon drone sent out during the night by the IX Corps intelligence battalion had spotted a Nod armor battalion of thirty-one tanks moving down the main road near where the GDI landings were going to take place. With the approach of daylight, they had pulled off the road and dispersed into a narrow valley. Grayson pulled up the thermal viewer on his multi-function display. The tank engines would still be warm by the time the ORCA came into range. Nod forces were very good at camouflaging their armor with netting, tree branches, and shrubbery, but the rear decks of the "light" assault tanks would stick out like a sore thumb to the thermal viewer in the ORCAs.

Grayson and Martinez carefully timed their arrival at each waypoint. There was a lot of traffic in the air this morning, and most of it was flying without navigation lights or search radar to give away its position. Some of the traffic consisted of artillery shells and MLRS missiles, blindly obeying the laws of physics. Air cav planning staffs devoted a lot of effort to "deconfliction" with their field artillery counterparts, making very, very sure that friendly aircraft and friendly projectiles never tried to share the same airspace at the same time.

Grayson steered the agile ORCA behind the crest of a mountain spur. The enemy tanks were just on the other side of the ridge, their crews already bedded down, except for a few sentries nervously scanning the skyline. With a delicate touch of the controls, he moved the ORCA's targeting sights so they peered over the rocky lip of the valley.

Martinez flicked the arming switches on the Hellfire control panel, aimed, and fired. Reflexively, they both closed their eyes for a second, so the flash of the rocket motor would not dazzle the night vision as it slid off the launch rail in a graceful arc into a Nod tank 2,000 yards away. Before the first round struck, the next was on its way, then the next, then and the last. Within a few seconds, four Nod tanks were nothing but smoldering wreckage. Within a few more seconds, the startled Nod crews of a dozen tanks regained their composure and were directing bright tracer streams of 14.5mm machine-gun fire at the hilltop. But the ORCA was already hidden behind the ridgeline, calling over the Automated Target Handoff System (ATHS) for others to join in the carnage.
A voice crackled over the radio headset: \"Ghost Two-Two this is Saber One-Seven. I'm about two clicks behind you with eight rounds. What have you got for me? Over."
\"Roger that, Saber One-Seven, this is Ghost Two-Two. We have two dozen Alpha Tangos at our 10 o'clock a couple clicks out. They're pretty stirred up down there we can start designating for you in just a moment. Go to Mission Package Alpha Seven, over."
The two crews set all necessary switches for an automatic handoff with the ATHS. Grayson would use his ORCA to play hide-and-seek along the ridge, designating targets with his laser while the other ORCA sat a few miles back firing its Hellfires. The first missile was already in flight towards an unlucky Nod tank when the voice of Lieutenant Colonel Iverson, 4th Squadron commander, broke in on the squadron command net. All units of Ghost and Saber troops were ordered to abort their current missions and close as rapidly as possible on a new set of target coordinates some miles west. A GDI scout platoon spotted a hastily thrown together counter attack headed toward the north flank of the GDI beachhead.
"This one is going to be hairy. I wish we had those Miniguns," Martinez said.
"This is what we get paid for," Grayson replied grimly. "Besides you still have the twin .30 cals on the nose."

» Chapter Two

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