Valkyries Hereafter is a short story included as part of TSFIA.
SummaryEditLight from its eye-sensors pierced the darkness. The navy blue forms of the machines calmly absorbed the lights coming from alien wall. Their heads scanned left and right, their very presence was one that promised indomitable violence to those who wished to hinder them. Slowly but surely, their steady steps carried them towards an end to this darkness.
April 10th, 2003. Local time 1502. Objective 20, 800m below ground surface.
“...I can’t stand this anymore, this machine is being a very naughty boy to me, the more I hate it and abuse it, the better and better it performs, I really don’t know what to think of it anymore.”
There was no sign of any nervousness or fear in the squadron leader, Urd 1's, tone despite the horrors they must have seen to make it thus far. The comment itself was also something that is completely out of place considering they are in the bowels of a BETA hive.
“So, in other words, you love it and want to keep it right?”
The voice of the squadron 2nd-in-command was one of calm in respective to the rather playful flirtatious tone of the commander. Not that anyone on the squad is not used to it by now, and also that everyone is a bit excited in their own way for having finally been given the green light to combat test their prototype machines, and not to mention in an Operation of such a scale and endeavor to boot.
“Long-range, medium-range, close-quarters, melee, and anti-Hive warfare. No matter what I try to do with this machine, it surprises me every time. It’s almost like they secretly learned every fetish an Imperial Eishi has about their TSFs and would want their TSFs to be. And then they made this thing here, that panders to everyone’s tastes. This is so fucking ridiculous, but I fucking love it.”
“...Though I feel sorry for doing this to Suzumiya, but even I have to agree with your sentiments.”
“Indeed, some of our bosses are not going to be too happy with our views though, but if their boss and their boss’s boss agrees with us grunts, then there is not much they can do is there?”
“Personally I’m still kind of leaning towards the other side, but damn these guys at Boening for making something so good and tempting.”
The conversation between the two here undoubtedly reflected the views and thoughts of everyone present here. Even though several pilots here served in the UN for most of their career, the rest of the Squadron served mainly with the IJA, their loyalty being unquestionable. Thus, it is perfectly understandable to feel a little uneasy at being asked to “prove” that this American TSF would be the better TSF for Japan and the future that awaits it.
Ultimately though, the majority of pilots here couldn’t give a honest shit about the political bickering and back door business deals involved behind this entire selection process. In the end, they are proud TSF pilots, and proud TSF pilots like to win, especially good ones like them. Eager to prove themselves superior in any competition, and furthermore to prove to those who are ridiculing them behind their backs for openly supporting a foreign design, showing to the world that that their views on this TSF are justified.
“HQ to Urd 1, you are being temporarily redirected. A supply convoy has been ambushed, and their escort squadron 'Lightning' has requested immediate assistance.”
Hearing the transmission from headquarters, Urd 1 and 2 immediately became tense with concern.
“Where are they?”
“Floor 20, the Hall at P18. Even though I hate to say it like this, but this situation looks like an excellent opportunity to perform a combat trial performance test using Case 26-C. Please insure that your squadron’s combat data recorders are using the correct setting for this situation.”
Case-26-C, meaning “Combined Arms Unrestricted Weapons and Tactics: Eliminate all targets in the AO.” A fancy way of saying: “Do whatever you want to kill everything in your way”.
The squadron net filled with cheers and voices of excitement, understandable for a group of cocky pilots that just received the orders to “Blow up Everything Hostile and Fight till your Hearts Content.” But the same cannot be said for Urd 1, still silently repeating the name 'Lightning' in her mind. On the communication window, Urd 2 shares a similar expression; her silent nod confirms Urd 1’s suspicions.
“We have to move fast, if anything happens to that kid, we will never be able to show our faces to the Captain when we meet her again one of these days.”
“Urd 1 to all Squadron units, like you heard, lets show them what we test pilots and our machines are made out off. All units engage afterburners, maximum thrust. Follow Me!”
Elsewhere, 840m below ground. 12 F-15J Kagerous desperately poured their combined firepower into an oncoming alien onslaught that could only be described as a tsunami of death. They were using the edge of a drift tunnel entrance as a choke hold to funnel the BETA, which was the only reason this hopeless defense held. But it was only a matter of time.
“Conserve your ammo! Don’t waste your rounds on the Dead!”
A short while ago, the UN's efforts at Operation Sledgehammer is proceeding smoothly thanks to the Valkyrie Data. The forward forces have already pushed past Floor 20, and is currently regrouping and consolidating supplies to continue the push onto floor 23, the Reactor Room. 1st Lt. Isumi Akira, commanding the attached IJA Lightning TSF Squadron, is currently operating as part of the protection assigned to guard the 26th Logistics and Service Battalion, a mobile resupply convoy, to support the various Mobile Forward Operating Bases following behind the Main Assault Force.
Just as the convoy almost passed through Hall-P18 on Floor 20, a larger than Brigade sized BETA horde suddenly appeared from a drift not on any previous known data. Under the timely leadership and efforts of Lt. Isumi, the supply convoy and its other TSF escorts, which were comprised entirely of F-4J Gekishins or equivalent 1st generation TSF, were evacuated from the immediate area. But now all that stands between them and total annihilation is the Lightning squadron acting as the rear guard, buying time for the Convoy to get away.
How... How did it become like this! Why didn’t we see this before?! We had the Valkyrie Data! The data that my sister Michiru and her comrades died for, to save Humanity!
“Lightning 1 to HQ! We cannot hold for much longer! Where are those reinforcements?!”
The very fact that long range communication with HQ is even possible is just one of many side-effect benefits brought on by employing the Valkyrie Data. But if reinforcements do not arrive in time, all the benefits and advantages it brought to Lightning squadron would be meaningless.
“HQ to Lightning 1, reinforcements on route, hold on just for a few more minutes- They're- call- gn- is- Ur-”
“Eh? HQ, say again! HQ!? God damn it! Just what-”
“The data rebroadcast station is offline. Shit! We are screwed...”
Losing the rebroadcast station could mean several things, the chief one being that one of the operating bases in the region is down. Lt. Isumi's stomach churned, the voices of despair ready to emerge from her throat. Whatever the case is, the prospect does not look good without long range communication. Senses of abandonment, loneliness, and hopelessness filled her. There is no way out for them, only death.
Please... Strength... Lend me your strength, Michiru!!
Suppressing her urges to scream, her sense of responsibility as the Squadron Commander forced her to inject a sense of calm into her voice, as she issued her orders.
“It doesn’t matter. It’s only the data link that’s broken. Whichever bases it is, they are probably only partially compromised, or it’s an system error. Do not lose hope! We’ve been getting it easy compared to the others so far. We will hold! The reinforcements are coming!”
Yes, we’ve been getting it easy. Compared to what Michiru and her comrades must have faced, this is nothing!
Weeks after the success of operation Ouka, a senior UN Officer came in private without any escorts to offer his sincere thanks to the Isumi family. While he could not disclose any details, he still made it clear that Michiru’s death was no training accident, and that she was instrumental in Ouka’s success. From what they learned that day, and the bits and pieces the eldest Isumi sister, Yayoi, gathered from her work, Akira has no doubt in her mind that her 2nd eldest Sister and the squadron she led saved Japan, and perhaps the very world.
I will not allow the fruits born by my sister’s sacrifice to be... “…TAINTED BY YOU MONSTERS!”
Without realizing, Isumi Akira shouted the last parts of her thought in rage. All doubts erased from her mind, there was only purpose. Now she is a true heir to the Isumi name.
“Woo! A splendid war cry.”
The crisp and clear voice in her ear woke Lt. Isumi from her state of mind. Taking a quick look at her radar to identify the source of the voice, only to find that her scopes are clear of any other allies in the area.
“This is Urd 1, I must apologize, we don’t mean to hide ourselves from you, being invisible certainly has its drawbacks. But don’t worry; you should be able to see us soon. Hang on just a bit longer.”
“Lightning 1 to Urd 1! Thank you for your support!”
Despite the dire circumstances they are still in, the entire squadron is now much relived, and fought on with a renewed vigor. After all, everyone’s heard of the famous Urd squadron, being part of the Veteran Fuji Instructional Corp and their rather curious new tradition to name its various squadron after goddesses of Norse mythology.
“Urd 1 to Lightning 1! We are crossing the hall now. Once we arrive, we will take over and relive you from this position, do you understand?”
“Wait, hang on Urd 1. This is crazy! Requesting to have my squadron hold the line together with you!”
Even for a veteran Squadron like these guys, holding an area this big and against such a wave of BETA is suicide. I will not turn and run after someone saved my life again.
“I understand your concern. But do not underestimate us. And you have your missions still to accomplish.”
As if on queue, muzzle flashes from down the hall illuminated the navy blue forms of the friendly TSFs, as they cut through the BETA ranks with impunity.
“T ..Test Type-02... F-15 Silent... Eagles...”
Only now that the friendlies are in her visuals does her own F-15J Kagerou's HUD begin to register her savior squadron as using the F-15SEJ Gekkou, the Japanese export trial version of the American F-15SE Silent Eagle; the competitor to the Shiranui Second in becoming the next main stream Japanese TSF.
“We can still fight! As fellow IJA Eishi, it would shame us to leave you here in our place, while we run with our backs turned!”
“Calm down you idiot! If you want to be a hero, I'm not going to stop you, but just so you know, if you lose your life you can never find it again! Not to mention it’s not just your life at stake here.”
Urd 1’s words seemed awfully familiar. ...Almost the same words Isumi Michiru said to Akira after her graduation as an Eishi.
“This is Urd 2. Lightning 1, your mission was to protect the supply convoy, and with the loss of long range communications, if they were to be ambushed while you were busy fighting beside us here, then how you would feel.”
That was the final stake in the coffin for Akira.
Yes, that is my mission. I need to calm down. I need to focus. This is not where my destination leads...
Lt. Isumi smiled.
“Urd 1, Urd 2, thank you for your words of guidance. All Lightning units, cover Urd while they land.
As soon as they are set we will depart at maximum speed to link up with the convoy.”
Lighting Squadron increased their rate of suppression fire into the endless ocean of BETA. Soon, their fire was joined by the Urd squadron, adding their own firepower as they descended. Seeing that Urd is about to land Lightning squadron ceased firing and boosted backwards. Urd squadron landed within 1 meter of Lightning’s former position, the 2 squadrons have flawlessly exchanged positions without losing a beat in their firepower to keep the BETA at bay.
“We got this place now. Those rear echelon supply guys must be shitting their pants now, so go and take care of them.”
“Understood Urd 1... Good luck to you all!”
As Lt. Isumi threw a crisp salute towards the now distant figure of Urd 1, her eyes immediately caught something on her HUD.
That... that emblem?
Indeed, there on her HUD, the zoomed view showing that only Urd 1 and Urd 2 carried a emblem identical to the Squadron patches found in a box of Captain Isumi Michiru’s belongings, that was finally given back to the Isumi family, from classified storage by a UN General, days before operation Sledgehammer.
Staring at the forms of the F-15SEJs that have finally disappeared into the darkness, Lt. Isumi wiped away her tears.
So those people... Could they have been...
April 12th, 2003. Local time 2133. UN Joint Task Force Central Command officially declared the regions in and around Hive 20 as pacified, and the Hive reactor room Secured. Operation Sledgehammer has succeeded.
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