"We could run no longer. Our meager force was clearly no match for the alien invaders that had come calling, yet we had little option but to stand our ground and fight. A quick check of my status was followed by a call to my wingmen. With an exasperated sigh I turned us back toward the pursuing wolves--there was truly nothing left for me to do short of ejection, but if we were to die, it was better to die trying.
"The tiny specks ahead grew rapidly in size. My missiles--and those of my wingmen--were long gone. The fight was now down to basics--an old fashioned gunfight. The sky from horizon to horizon was filled with the hideous, crab-like alien fighters, and as the enemy ships entered into range they unleashed a hail of fire that filled every inch of the sky. I let loose with my gun pod and lasers, stomping on the rudder pedals to spread the fire over as wide an area as possible. It was like spraying a garden hose on a blazing forest.
"Suddenly, my Valkyrie heeled hard to starboard, shuddering wildly. As my fighter staggered and lurched through the air, shards of glass and steel ripped into me, puncturing my flight suit and slicing into my flesh. The sea and sky began tumbling uncontrollably, end over end, the G-forces building to an unbearable level. The cold wind rushing through the holes in my fighter threatened to tear my flight suit to shreds, and I fought the urge to vomit.
"Time seemed to slow down. A scan of my instruments showed an over-abundance of red lights as every system aboard complained at the harsh treatment they had received. The altimeter was unwinding rapidly, the sweep hand on my instrument panel clock moving at only a fraction of its normal speed. Full deflection of my controls in every direction had no noticeable effect. My Veritech was dead.
"As the altimeter swept downward through fifteen thousand feet, I decided it was time to jettison my airframe and take a ride on the silk elevator. I tried to grab the overhead ejector curtain, but my left arm was a useless, bloody mess. Reaching between my legs I grasped the yellow and black ejection lanyard, images of 'Cliff's Notes' and high school literature tests flashing in my head, and yanked hard. Nothing happened. The altimeter was passing though ten thousand feet, and I found myself wondering what the hell was wrong, when I was suddenly--and forcefully--slammed backward into my seat. The slack reels retracted my arms and legs, and I was blasted out of my Veritech with a tremendous kick in the seat of my pants.
"As if in slow motion, my Alpha shrank slowly beneath me, heading for a place on the ocean floor where it would guard the shipping lanes of the Pacific for the next five thousand years. I searched frantically overhead as I fell, yearning for the sight of a fully blossoming chute. With a jerk and a pop the canopy inflated, and I began my slow, deliberate descent to the sea.
"Overhead the dogfight raged, but it was finished before it began--as evidenced by the smoke trails left by the fighters that had been on my wing only moments before. I despaired at the belief that many of them were probably dead. They were young and enthusiastic, those men, and they had followed me without hesitation straight into the jaws of death. It was a sobering thought.
"As I descended toward the water I realized, almost selfishly, that I was too damned old for this business. Indeed, the skies over the Pacific were no place to be in the spring of 2033, especially if one wanted to live long."