Tomcat Terror Versus Gunboat Diplomacy

By: Christopher T. Shields

 (Adapted from an idea taken from a scenario in ADB's classic Star Fleet Battles game

 

            Scholi LeFey sat his flight helmet in the locker.  He pulled the flight gloves over his well tanned hands.  A headband went around his forehead to keep his shoulder length platinum blonde hair out of his face.  He checked his flight suit and readjusted the forward strap on his left boot, pulling it tighter with a 'snitch' sound and then locking the strap down under the plastic buckle.  LeFey was a pure Centaurian.  Born on Alpha Centauri, he was the great grandson of the galaxy famous Zephram Cochrane, the original founder and theoretician of warp drive principles.

            LeFey stood two meters tall, darkly tanned skin almost brown. There were several family and heritage tattoos on the left side of his face.  The rest of them were hidden by the flight suit which failed to hide a very youthful and well built body.  LeFey smoothed out a wrinkle on his flight suit.

            The standard issue Federation flight suit was white with black stripes down the arms and legs and was emblazoned with the shoulder patches of the heavy carrier Napoleon; VF 42, his squadron; the Federation insignia, his name and his rank were also displayed prominently, as were the two gold with platinum inlay Starfleet awards denoting a double ace. Beside the two ace awards on his lapel were three kill pins signifying his current score of twenty-five enemy shuttlecraft destroyed.  He had to his credit, seventy eight sorties.

            On the back of the suit was a larger United Federation of Planets flag, the name of his squadron VF42 the 'Divine Wind', with the names of all the pilots in his squadron below the squadron name and then a list of similar squadrons that pulled Void Dragon interdiction raids deep into Klingon space in order to disrupt both commercial, and military targets as well as dealing with targets of opportunity.

            The suit was tailored from a light synthetic cloth and nylamesh, form fitting, and padded at the joints, more so especially at the shins and elbows and knees, and in the lumbar region of small of the back.  Underneath the suit there was a pressure undergarment that would keep his blood from pooling in high-G maneuvers or in zero gravity conditions.

            A pilot was judged by the way that he fit in.  If you were different, then you were hot.  Most of the flight suits worn by the other pilots were similarly decorated.  Scholi also wore gloves and a pair of aviator style sunglasses with the dark green colored anti-glare lenses.  The gloves were embroidered with his standing rank marks of commander and had a miniature communicator built in for use in communicating inside a ship or station.

            Across his chest was strapped the shoulder holster for his standard Federation Type II hand phaser with the integral phaser Type I locked in and a monofilament survival knife; the only weapons that a pilot could carry with him in the cramped interior of an assault shuttle though Scholi really doubted their usefulness.  Still, pilots had always carried hand weapons through out history.

            In his hand he clutched his flight helmet, which was as decorated as his flight suit.  Each pilot kept a running score of his or her time in service with a paint pen on the front of his, or her (so far, all races encountered had only two sexes) flight helmet.  This running record was done in stars for each mission or sortie that the particular pilot had flow on.

            The dream ticket was a hundred and twenty missions, the dream of a lifetime goal that said you were the best there was, totally hot and indestructible. You got rotated back to the core systems for easier duty if you made a hundred and twenty successful sorties in an assault shuttle and lived to tell about it.  It was what every pilot looked forward to but only the very best made a hundred.  The rest died trying or got rotated back early due to their inability to pilot a shuttle anymore, whether physical or mental in reason.

            Scholi was on forty-five and still counting. Forty-five little black stars on the side of his helmet arranged in rows of ten each.  Above certain stars was a red number, the number of enemy fighter shuttles destroyed on that particular mission.  Other numbers were in different colors and indicated other targets such as military, commercial, and industrial along with commercial terror raids and other targets of opportunity.  Each different type of target had a distinct color. The result was that you could tell what a pilot was made of just by looking at their helmet.

            Scholi's marks looked like little rainbows with all the colors that were mixed in.  Pilots with over sixty marks on their helmets were considered old timers and held in respect by those with fewer than sixty missions under their belts.  Sixty was near legend.  A hundred and you were a legend, encased in a shell of synthetic metal and industrial plastic zipping around the galaxy at over thirty times the speed of light and not letting anything stand in your way.

            You had a high throughput capacitor fed multi-cycling lens Gatling phaser that could saw a freighter in half, drones that could attain speeds just slightly faster than your shuttle could with warp packs and had a reach of from 320,000 km for the standard Type I to over 8,000,000 km for the new Type III-MW-F drones. You had electronic warfare packs and chaff pods, warp booster field packs, surveillance pods, and just about anything you needed could be carried by an assault shuttle.

            Scholi's helmet was rumored to be wanted very badly by the Klingons ... preferably with his freshly severed head still strapped in it.

            He looked at his chronometer, 23:34 hours.

            Time for a drink.

            LeFey calmly sat in the off duty lounge of Federation Battle station K9, itself orbiting and maintaining a tenacious foothold at the Federat-Klingo border. The station was on yellow alert as of an hour and a half ago, but that was normal. Probably some sensor echo reflections from some of the raids last week bouncing around. Apparently a few others thought like he did for the lounge was moderately crowded with all manner of crew and a few other pilots.  He saw Deja, a shapely female pilot from one of the colony worlds near the fringes, and one of the better pilots of VF-42 as she sat a nearby table.

            He caught part of a story about the time before Deja had joined VF-42 that she had been shot up while in Klingon space and she was telling the story to two other station crew who shared her table, listening captivated as she piled it on deeper and deeper.  Her hands were busy translating her words into visible actions.

            " ... So I had been hit real hard while I was making this attack run on one of those bonehead freighters, you know the kind that have propellers instead of warp drives. There were about twelve of us playing cowboys and Klingons that day.  All of us Eagle jockeys.  So, now get this.  I'm coming in for this freighter, got it lined up in my sights. Adios, I say and push my joy button.  Man, I only cycled my Gatling capacitor into that old barge and popped it in the nose with a pair of Type one drones."

            She spread two fingers out and gouged her other hand hard, then made a fist and opened it up, exaggerating her open palm.

            "I've never seen a freighter open up like that, must have been hauling pure undistilled Cyrillium for all I know. Now, I've got to fly through all the debris and dust and to this day I swear I never really did see where the phaser fire came from, but suddenly all my instruments, everything, in the cockpit lit up like it was on holiday or dress parade and I guess that was when I decided that it was time to head for my side of the border.  Let Klingons be Klingons and that sort of thing, I always say."

            She took a sip of a dark green liquid from a plastic container, wiping her mouth on the back of her gloved hand.

            "Well, I was going full out, maxed out the little static warp drivers like hell but the cockpit was so full of smoke from an onboard fire and a coolant leak and I couldn't see a damn thing in all that soup, not the instruments, not even the astrogator, so I blew the bolts on the canopy, blew the top clean off."

            Her eyes grew wide as she looked up at an imaginary canopy being jettisoned and she looked back down, gestured, daintily waving her hand in front of her face as if she was waving the smoke and gases away from her pressure suit faceplate.

            "It was real pretty, doing the big Warp 2 plus dance back toward friendly space in a convertible fighter shuttle but you know what, I still couldn't see the damn astrogator so I started to pray real hard."

            She pantomimed furiously waving more smoke and gas from in front of her and then she took another drink.

            "What did you do?" one of the crewmen asked, a big tanned Rigelian.

            "Well, I just loosened my seat harness straps and then leaned forward until I could put my faceplate right up on the astrogator.  It said one niner niner zero mark five and that's exactly what I wanted it to say."

            As Deja sat there, her palm to her nose and her head wobbling up and down, her eyes wide with mock concern, the tale of every pilots nightmare was bringing uncontrolled fits of laughter from her two drinking partners.  The Federation pilot never cracked a smile, the tell tale sign of a master story teller.

            "I kept my faceplate glued to that astrogator and I was so mad that damn Eagle didn't dare quit on me.  It just kept going, burning and falling apart all the way back to the other side of Federation space ...  Those boneheads must have been laughing too hard at me to come after me because my screen was blank when it came to pursuit."

            "How long did it take you to get back?" asked the other man at the table, a blue skinned Andorian engineer.

            "Damn near a year, give or take.  Almost made it back to my strike carrier, the Nelson, too.  I finally saw the Nelson sitting there like this big mother bird waiting on her chick.  The deck crew caller was telling me to trim my envelope, that I was coming in too fast and just when I go for my stick to ease back then damned if my Eagle didn't get mad at ME and put its head between its legs and started to dip down, spiraling out of control like a Regula cantina dancer.  The fire must have shorted the controls because I had a runaway impulse engine.  Now, I've never been one to suck hard vacuum so I ejected the whole damn cockpit right then and there, figuring I could hitch hike the rest of the way."

            The pilot held out her gloved thumb and waved it casually as she pantomimed watching her imaginary crippled fighter fall from view and behind her.

            "And you know, the damn thing suddenly turned around and took a swipe at me before it turned tail and impacted the Nelson.  Just blew up against the port side, deflector shields took it all and the damn Eagle didn't even bounce once."

            The pilot took a long drink.

            "Rubber crash snubbers in the nose of those damn Eagles never did work like they were supposed to ..."

            There were fits of uncontrollable laughter coming from the two other men now as LeFey smiled and turned away.  He looked up and out the huge viewport of the lounge, cracking a smile.  The stars were visible beyond the starboard viewport of the lounge and the glass of Antarian Glow Water in front of him sparkled brilliantly.

            Scholi had become something of a regular lately, and the bartender had started serving him his drinks in a jeweled Romulan decanter, of some notable antiquity, that the bartender had bought from a Romulan merchant prince before the whole damn War had started.  Back when K9 had been a base station, not a battle station, back when it had been a meeting point of trade and commerce between all races, not just an armored weapons platform tensing for battle.

            LeFey took another drink, letting the liquid burn down to his stomach but knowing to temper his indulgence.  He never liked to drink to excess, that could complicate problems.  His manner of drinking was more along the lines of sport drinking.  He drank for pleasure, for relaxing, and when he had nothing else to do. The station's head MD had told him that drinking was bad for him.  The doctor probably didn't realize that it was safer than being a fighter jockey, which was what Lefey did best.  You see, he was a pilot.

            And a damn good one to boot.

            Under his command were eleven other pilots, all from the various theatres and fronts of the War.  The Federation didn't go sticking greenies in the G-seats of their best assault shuttles.  You had to earn that privilege.  Lefey had, several times over.  He finished his drink, waved to the bartender, dropped two credits on the table top, and left for the ready rooms where his squadron were being quartered until the Napoleon could rendezvous and pick them up in a few hours.

            Scholi started to walk off as a full flight suited Andorian approached him  A flight helmet and cloth head communications undergarment in one pale blue hand while a Type II hand phaser of obvious Andorian design was firmly secured across his chest in a shoulder mount.  The Andorians liked technical things, powerful things, but they were works of art.  Their designs hid a beauty.

            Tal Rashea was Scholi's Sensor Interception Officer (SIO), the guy in the backseat that flew the electronics board of the tandem seated F-14 Tomcat. Smaller shuttles like the F-4s, the F-8s, the F-15, the F-16 and the F-18s were single seaters but they lacked the sensitive electronics that the F-14 carried, hence the need for one crewmember to fly the shuttle and the other to operate the sophisticated electronics.  Much the same way with the larger, heavier A-10 Warthogs and the awesome, extremely heavy and large Federation A-20 Avengers that were still in the design stages.  Those monsters required three crew to operate and there were plans for a fourth to be included to make the work load of the original three easier.

            Tal Rashea held an electronic clipboard and handed Scholi a small paper figure.  Origami, the ancient Japanese Earth cultural art of folding paper into shapes, originating centuries ago on Terra.  Tal Rashea took great pains to try and invent new designs other than the tried and true standard patterns.  This one looked like a man kneeling in prayer.  Scholi smiled and took it, hoping it wasn't meant to be an omen.

            "Good morning, my good friend Scholi." Tal Rashea said.

            "Did you see the schedule, yet?"

            "Indeed I did ..." Tal Rashea replied as he returned his attention to the clipboard.

            "Anything wrong?" Scholi asked, detecting a note of apprehension in his SIOs voice.

            "I am not quite sure, but is it standard procedure to install warp packs and ejectable chaff pods on fighter shuttles for a simple transfer?"

            LeFey shook his head and took the clipboard once again, scanning the electronic image displayed there.  He touched a button and the screen scrolled, he studied it again and shook his head.

            "Anything else you notice while you were on the Ready Deck?" LeFey asked.

            "I noticed that drones were also being armed, checked, and loaded onboard the shuttles.  What can this mean, good friend LeFey?  I know that during transfer, the detonators are not installed on the drones."

            At that moment, the lighting in the base turned from normal to dull red.  A klaxon began to sound and a computerized voice declared repeatedly that the base was on red alert.

    RED ALERT!      RED ALERT!      RED ALERT!

    THE BASE IS ON RED ALERT!

    RED ALERT!

             Over and over again, repeated in the same computer generated uncaring voice as crewmen and duty personnel ran for their posts.

            "Battle stations!  All hands to battle stations.  This is not a drill.  Repeat. This is not a drill.  Commander LeFey, please report to the command center now. Commander LeFey, your presence is required in the command center at once.  All assault shuttle pilots are to report immediately to briefing room twelve on Deck C.  Full flight gear.  This is not a drill."

            The internal station intercom beeped for attention, followed by the deep voice of the com officer on duty. LeFey's pagercom 'wee-ooo'ed' for attention and he held his left gloved hand up near his mouth as he pressed the RECEIVE key.

            "Commander LeFey, please contact the duty watch officer immediately. Repeat ..."

            LeFey went to the intercom station on the wall as Tal Rashea looked on in obvious confusion.  Cool, calm ordered confusion.

            "LeFey." he answered as he touched the send stud.

            "Commander, report to the command operations center right away.  Code Red. No delay."

            LeFey sighed.

            "On my way.  LeFey out."

            "So much for a simple transfer ..." the Andorian said flatly, turning to walk away.

            LeFey was already gone.

            All the department heads were present in the command center.  The base commander, Luca, stood passively behind the sensor console, behind the hunched form of an older Vulcan science officer.  He looked up at the hiss of the pneumatic sliding doors as LeFey walked into the brilliantly lit command center among constant chatter, static and stations reporting in, and reports coming over the com lines.  The shuttle pilot walked down the short steps to the slowly turning raised dais in the center of the command center.

            "You wanted to see me?" LeFey asked casually.

            "LeFey, we have intercepted a priority transmission from the fringes of our sensor range.  The signals appear to be Klingon in nature." Luca said.

            "Put it on the speakers." one of the department heads said.

            The Vulcan flipped a switch.  There resulted the harsh brash tone of a Klingon mixed with the poor reception then abruptly a shower of white noise appeared.  The Vulcan tried to correct for the jamming repeatedly but finally shook his head and continued with his other work.

            "Signal being jammed at the source, Commander.  I'll try to break through."

            Luca nodded and turned to LeFey.

            "Definitely Klingon." LeFey said flatly.  "Though the quality of the transmission left something to be desired."

            "Is it a Klingon military code?"

            LeFey thought for a minute.

            "Possibly, but it's one of the newer ones we don't have yet.  That means that it belongs to a raider unit or a main line ship on the front."

            "We have a Klingon force out there about to go rampaging through our commercial traffic lanes.  CenTac is painting them, from the initial sensor readout and IFF, they suspect that it's the 714th flotilla.  We had two probe sensors out there in that sector until they brewed them up. We got enough data though before the probes died."

            "A pseudo-fighter flotilla this near?" LeFey asked. "Why don't you send a cruiser to scatter them, kick them back across the border."

            Luca sighed.

            "I would if I had a cruiser to spare.  The nearest starship is the Napoleon and her escorts, and she's still three hours away at low reserve fuel and economy generated warp.  There are a few other ships but they're out of range. Frankly, I never thought something like this would come up but there is a convoy out there, two Shiligesh light freighters and a Caradathenu class neutronic fuel tanker, and a Klingon commerce raiding force looking to have a good day."

            "Meaning?" LeFey said.

            "Meaning that unless we use your flight to intercept those Klingon bone head bastards before they reach the convoy, there won't be a convoy left.  They'll shoot it up and high tail it back to their side of the border." one of the department heads said.

            "I see." LeFey countered.

            Luca swept his hand across the command center to the huge view screen that now showed a computer generated map of the whole sector with icons for each of the known Federation and Klingon units posted there.  A small red, yellow, green, and black Klingon symbol was moving slowly towards a blue and white Federation symbol on the map.  The others looked on.

            "Tactical intelligence.  We've been tracking them for about two hours now, they haven't altered course.  The only thing I can throw at them besides verbal abuse is VF42. We've plotted intercept time at less than an hour."

            Luca sighed.  LeFey scratched his chin.

            "Just how good ARE your people, Scholi?" another department head asked.

            "Good enough, but you're talking a flotilla, possibly a tender nearby.  I have twelve shuttles and that averages out to be, oh, say two shuttles per gunboat. I might be able to slow them down, but I won't be able to stop them all without some support.  Look at the range.  We'll burn almost all our fuel and some of the reserves just to catch them and that leaves tactical loopholes everywhere. No evasive tactics dealing with hard forced extended periods of acceleration.  Limited maneuverability.  No one has ever flown into battle in an assault shuttle that was low on fuel.  At least no one who won."

            Luca sighed as Scholi thought for a second, pulling out his pocketcomp and feeding data into the little device. There was a beep as data reappeared from his computations on the little devices CRT.

            "We could put some tankers on the line, holding station ..." one of the department heads said quietly.

            "Not enough time, though we could have them for the return trip." Luca said. "Then you could burn more fuel if you needed without having to worry about return fuel ..."      Luca lapsed into silent thought.  "That leaves only one question to remain.  Will the Klingons engage you or will they take the easier freighters?"

            "Klingons are duty oriented ..." LeFey said at last, in a low voice, having ignored the banter of the others.

            "You have something then?" one of the department heads asked.

            "Just an idea.  I've been studying the Klingons and their customs.  I'm beginning to know how they think, how they'll react.  For the Klingons, turning and fighting my shuttle group would be as honorable as destroying the convoy, perhaps more so because there would be more glory in defeating an equal enemy than brewing up a helpless convoy.  I could divert them, concentrate on a few of the gunboats and rip them up, then pick the others off.  It might just work but it'll be a hell of a fight out there ..."

            "Just do it, LeFey.  I'll see what my deck crews can rig up in the form of a few surprises.  I can also give you two SWAC shuttles with packs.  They're to be transferred to the Napoleon but you're going to need all you can get."

            "I'll take what you can give me.  Two to one odds ... Twelve Tomcats and two SWACs against six Klingon gunboats. Okay.  Yes.  You only live once.  Get me a full squadron briefing."

            "Already done."  Luca said.  "We're piping it down to the briefing room right now."

            "Is there anything else you need?" One of the department heads asked, looking up from the scanner display.

            "Luck." LeFey replied.  "As much as you can spare from the stores."

 

            Fifteen minutes later, Tal Rashea and Scholi headed hurriedly over to their ready lockers and began the procedure of getting ready for a flight.  LeFey had just spent ten minutes telling the other pilots of the mission. No one had backed out and he had asked for volunteers only. They donned their armored pressure suits, made of articulated heavy plastic, buddy checking each other's suits before they headed out towards the battle stations' Ready Deck.

            Tal Rashea and Scholi managed to get the last two seats on a faded yellow transport cart that hurriedly carried them and several other ready pilots toward their armed, fueled, and waiting F-14 Tomcat shuttlecraft.

            The Ready Deck was a buzz of activity.  Twelve shuttles were waiting on them, six to each side of the bay.  Deck crews were buzzing around the shuttles, small deck tractors roared past, their electric drives whining.  Another tractor appeared, towing six drones on a trailer behind it. Two pressure suited deck crew jogged behind the trailer, following it closely.  A second similar tractor was pulling two warp booster packs.  It pulled up next to a shuttle and a compliment of the deck crew hefted the heavy booster packs with hydraulic lifters and grav lifters to bring them into position on the shuttle engines.

            Deck crew used small anti-grav lifters and hydraulic lifters to load drones up to the loading receptacles of the shuttlecraft.  Others checked the fuel transfer and the power couplings for the onboard phaser capacitor loading. Scholi and Tal Rashea hopped off the transporter cart as it sped on.  They jogged over to one of the shuttles.

            "A good day to die, eh Friend LeFey?" Tal Rashea asked solemnly as his legs found the climbing rungs on the side of the shuttle.

            "A good day to hunt, Friend Rashea." LeFey replied as he too, climbed up into the cockpit.

            Back in the command center, Luca watched the main viewer as a small metal dot, the last of the Tomcat shuttles, roared away from the station dock on impulse power.  Chatter filled the com system.

            "STAND CLEAR.  DECK FOUR.  SWAC ROTATING FOR LAUNCH.  WE ARE OPENING THE SHUTTLE BAY DOORS.  STAND CLEAR."

 

            The shuttles were maneuvering through the defensive corridor opened in the screens to allow the shuttles to exit.  Twelve blue and white Federation symbols slowly moving away from the larger Federation symbol that designated the battle station.

            As the assault shuttles cleared the last fringes of the deflector screens and the safe corridor through the mine field, there was a bright flash as twelve shuttles and two SWAC shuttles engaged their warp drivers.  Each became a single elongated rainbow for a scant second and then disappeared from view.  Luca turned to look back at the tactical display.

            "All our luck, LeFey ..." he said.

            The twelve small Federation symbols and two flashing Federation symbols were now moving away from the station at a good clip.

            "Tactical.  Plot intercept and project.  I want updates as they come in."

            A green line appeared behind the Klingon symbol, linking it from infinity in Klingon space and passing through the Klingon symbol to finally touch the symbol for the Federation convoy.  A red line appeared at the station and reached out to touch the Klingon symbol, passing through the Federation fighter shuttle symbols. The line constantly moved down the screen, as the onboard astrogator and computers adjusted the shuttles to the correct course.

            The next twenty five minutes were grueling not only for the shuttle crews but for the crew of the command center. Luca and the other officers watched as icons appeared, representing that the shuttles had dropped their packs.  The smaller icons and the words [WARP PACKS EJECTED] appeared for a few seconds and then vanished from the screen.  The two flashing icons, representing the SWACs slowed, the Tomcats roaring on.

            So close.

            The symbols on the screen changed again.  The Klingon gunboats were turning to face the Federation assault shuttles which were deploying in pairs to engage.  Intersecting lines were projected where the flight paths of each vessel would meet in an interception.

            "It's working!" An officer said.  "They've done it!"

            "No." Luca replied.  "They've just started ..."

            A second later, the sounds of battle filled the speakers of the command deck.

 

 

BACK

 

Author's note - this story was written circa November 1983 out of a whim and a fond memory, using an Apple IIC personal computer and Appleworks word processor software, IIRC.  I was 14 years old at the time.  I recently found them on an old diskette and transferred them through a series of tedious steps across archaic software to a 3.5" diskette and finally from plain text to MS Word.  What a long, strange trip this one story (and many others waiting to be published here) has taken over the last two and a half decades...

I always liked the Star Fleet Battles (I was hell with the Hydrans and after a while, I was banned from using that race and politely asked to use another race so I picked the Tholians.  I was eventually banned from using them as well due to my efficiency with their abilities).  The "Tomcat Terror vs. Gunboat Diplomacy" scenario was one of my favorite add-on scenarios, pitting a full squadron of twelve Federation F-14 Tomcat assault shuttles against a full flotilla of six Klingon pseudo-fighter "gunboats".  I thought the story leading up to the battle would be interesting.  Some of the concepts that were originally included here went on to be removed and used in the later "Art of the Kill" story which was itself supposed to be an epic tale of intergalactic war told from a down and out ex-space fighter pilot's point of view.  The idea of including Zephram Cochrane's nephew or grandson as a Federation shuttle pilot was purely chosen out of the information given on Cochrane in the Star Trek Space Flight Chronology, that is, of Cochrane being Alpha Centaurian rather than human.  It was a neat concept ... the descendent of Cochrane (the man who invented warp drive) would be a respected assault shuttle pilot for the Federation during the General War.  It was a concept that remained little more than that, though.

As a bonus, I found some old line drawings I once did (in the early 1980's) for the Federation F-14 "Tomcat" and A-10 "Warthog" assault shuttles as well as the Federation flight suits and insignia.  What I liked about the designs was the "warp assisted escape" pod, much like the crew pod found on the modern USAF F-111 tactical fighter bomber.  During warp speed engagements, in the most dire emergencies, the crew can elect to eject but at warp speed (FTL), it would be hard to eject at subsonic let alone sublight velocities and expect to survive.  Hence, the shuttles use warp assisted escape pods to eject the crew at a speed slightly higher than that of the shuttle then return the crew pod to sublight and eventually zero forward speed through a series of buffering step down warp fields. 

These drawings had been included a long time ago under the now defunct "Virtual Shadow" personal website (the mother site from which all the rest of these websites have sprung) but had been removed from the Internet for the better part of a decade now.  Now I'm happy to return these old childhood drawings to their rightful place, amid this descriptive story.

Oh, and I'm sure some SFB fanboy will email me and tell me that I'm wrong about one thing or another and to that I say "nuts!"

 

Federation A-10 "Warthog" Heavy Assault Shuttle - pencil and pen drawing on typing paper, circa 1982 by Christopher T. Shields

Scholi Lefey in the cockpit of his F-14 "Tomcat" Assault Shuttle - notice the Phaser Gatling in the nose
and the stylized "sharks mouth" heraldry on the front of the shuttle.

Pencil and pen drawing on lined spiral bound notebook paper, circa 1982 by Christopher T. Shields

Federation F-14 "Tomcat" Assault Shuttle

Pencil and pen drawing on typing paper, circa 1982 by Christopher T. Shields

Federation shuttle pilot's uniform plus insignia

Pencil and pen drawing on typing paper, circa 1982 by Christopher T. Shields