MD #190: Bogey Ambush
MD #190: Bogey Ambush
Summary: CAP flight is vectored to identify a distant bogey. It's a trap.
Date: 15/10/2017 (OOC Date)
Related Logs: None?
Casey Diaz Idris Kieve Niko Scott Rowan 
Deep Space Someplace
It's empty, until it isn't.
Wed May 02 2049

Everything seems pretty quiet and has since the incident exactly one week ago when two Raptor crews were executed by unknown assailants in an unknown frigate that had no problem getting close to the SAR Raptor. They had demanded the surrender of the Orion and its command staff. It was probably good for a few chuckles except for losing two Raptor crews in rather horrific circumstances. It's about a week to the minute from when the demands were made, though its not like people are counting down. In typical deployment, the Orion is at the core of the battlestargroup with other ships set up in a protective grouping. There's a constant Viper CAP up around the group at closer range and at the edge of the dradis range of the capital ships, Raptors are out on patrol as distant dradis pickets, searching further into space for anything that might be coming.

One of the Raptors breaks the mundane silence with a broadcast for the deployed wing to hear, "-unno what it is." There's some cross-chatter with the Raptor pilot for a second before the ECO addresses properly, "Orion, Orion, Papa One-Five at Position Eight-Hotel." One of the picket Raptors for sure, positioned at the Orion's 8 o'clock, high. "We've got intermittent contact with a bogey at the very edge of our own dradis range." Which means its way outside the fleet and Viper's dradis range. "Unable able to classify target. We lose contact with it for minutes at a time then it pops up again for a couple seconds. It reappared two minutes ago and is holding position. Definitely classify as a bogey, this is not astral debris, over."

So far everything is typical and quiet this CAP rotation, but there have been whispers of rumors that /something/ funk had gone wrong about a week ago with two of their Raptors. Been Cross had been talking to that Master-at-Arms while sparring, but there's more to the story than the little bit of scuttlebutt that was leaked in the Fitness Center that day. Idris has warned his people to keep their ears and eyes extra sharp, that there had been something about a hostile and unknown contact. But even Captain Bloodfeather hadn't been briefed on details, yet. The stars glitter brightly against the blackness of space with little to give background contrast visually. Pilots at these distances have to rely on their instruments but even those distances are too far out. 'Vogue' frowns and opens his coms.

[Into the Wireless] Idris says, "Lucky Strikes, Vogue. Picket Raptor is reporting a possible bogey holding at extreme range. Eyes and ears frosty. Sing out if you see anything, Over."

The flight sim, had shaken off the rust from his wings, and so Kieve is back out with his fellow Viper pilots. He hears the call come across and begins checking his own systems though nothing still too far out he begins his visual scanning as well as keeping ready to move at a moments notice should more come across the com.

CAP may be one of the most boring duties to pull, typically, but 'boring' hasn't been part of the equation for a long time and it absolutely is not part of the equation today. Inside the helmet, Diaz's head moves, her eyes narrowing as she scans the DRADIS and HUD, backs it up with a slow head tip that has her aiming a long look out and around then back, staring at the space between the stars and the space between the atoms, so to speak. She keys her end of the com to reply as she guides her Viper in the shadow of Vogues, maintaining relative distance every click of the way.

[Into the Wireless] Diaz says, "Lucky Strikes, Diaz. Copy that. Eyes peeled, over."

Looking around rather carefully as he flies, Scott glances between the others, before he hears the words over the com. Looking to his systems as he prepares to move.

CAP might be boring for some people, but not for Recruit Heron. This is her first CAP. The first time someone trusted her solo with a difficult-to-replace 55-ton aircraft. No pressure. She says to Hiker over the intercom, "Well, that doesn't sound good."

[Into the Wireless] Rowan says, "Flight, Heron. Copy, awaiting orders."

Niko is in the Orion's hangar, preparing to go out for his turn on CAP duty. As is his habit he shows up way early for any flight mission, and smart money has always said this is an excuse to get away from the paperwork back in the office. Hearing the chatter over the wireless, the CAG grimaes to himself. The last bogey they ran into was bad news, and he's not going to be stuck in the office this time. "I'm taking over," Niko commandeers the waiting Viper of the Alert 5 Viper pilot. "That's an order." And then he's up the ladder and strapped into the cockpit. The veteran Deck crew has the Viper launched in short order, and Niko vectors toward the bogey before opening the throttle, full burn.

Casey is sitting in Heron's backseat. Har har har. She smirks. But then Casey realizes it doesn't actually mean anything or make any sense. "As long as we don't get shot down I'm happy. I don't care how you fly." Casey shrugs and beep boop bops the display in front of her to see if she can boost some power to the DRADIS in the direction the report is coming in.

[Into the Wireless] Niko says, "Vogue this is Scythe on alert five. On intercept with you. ETA two minutes."

[Into the Wireless] Idris says, "Scythe, Vogue Copies. Glad to have you, Over."

While the flight moves out towards the picket Raptor, minutes tick past. There's no easy way to get out to the Raptor any faster since only the Raptors and Rhinos have an FTL. Once the Vipers and Rowan's Raptor get out within visual range of the picket, Papa One-Five, the Raptor calls them on the radio as it continues its patrol pattern.

"Strikes, Papa One-Five, we're holding the bogey. Distance is three zero five miles, bearing two-one-six, charom zero-zero-five." Its on a nearly flat plane with the fleet deployment, to the 'southwest' of the fleet's current heading. "Bogey's velocity is zero relative. She ain't moving, sirs, and she isn't very big. Looks like it could be a satellite of some kind. Its too far out for us to see on thermal. Take bearings provided for intercept, over." 300 miles is a long way, but in space there are no speed limits and that can be covered in a pretty short amount of time. Plus the chin-mounted thermal cameras on the Vipers might give a better picture once they get within 40 miles.

Hearing the name 'Heron' over the wireless causes Niko a momentary flashback to twenty years ago. Or forty, depending on who's counting. "Frak," he mutters under his breath, then keys his mike to call out to the escort raptor.

[Into the Wireless] Niko says, "Heron, Scythe. Stay with the CAP and keep your sensors on the bogey, relay everything back to Orion. Spool up and be ready to jump back home if things go south."

300 miles is nothing in space. A blink. And yet, far enough that one can't see a very small object with the naked eye and it may be difficult to detect on instruments. Everything is relative. Nonetheless, Idris tries to pinpoint the location on his DRADIS and see what little he can bring to bear to try and pick up details. His throttle is up, going pretty fast to try and get out ahead of their Raptors as it is the job of the Vipers to go sniff things out. Captain Bloodfeather thins his mouth, trying to pick it out visually as he approaches, and keeps double checking his instruments.

[Into the Wireless] Idris says, "Strikes, Vogue. I'm still too far out to pick up much. It must be small. Need to get in close, over."

Stay on CAP. Right. Right. Rowan exhales slowly. "We should be going out there with them. Our DRADIS-fu is better than theirs." She shuffles in the pilot's seat uncomfortably.

[Into the Wireless] Rowan says, "Scythe, Heron. Okay. I mean copy."

Nodding as he hears what's said over the comms, Scott turns his Viper to move with the others, frowning a bit as he listens to what's being said. Glancing both to his instruments and out there, trying to see where the bogey is, and also, what it is.

Hearing the CAG over the 'Com has Diaz sitting just a little bit straighter, hands just a little more precise with each careful movement, the viper pilot determined to mind the P's and Q's and do everything by the book even more so than a half beat before. Begin as you mean to continue, after all. She adjusts the trajectory of her flight path accordingly, taking the bearing off of the intercept provided and is altering course to shadow Bloodfeather to intercept the bogey.

[Into the Wireless] Diaz says, "Flight, Diaz. If the Bogey is transmitting it's location and sensor readings in short burst data streams it could be relaying back the approach of our CAP and the position of the fleet. Short bursts save on energy drain and could be updating in real time to the receiving end. Over."

Kieve banks his viper and forms up on his leaders side. He listens over the com traffic though nothing to add at the moment he's still quiet. In his ship though he'll mutter "I see no good coming of this." though on he flies of course duty comes first overall.

"We should be following orders. I'm going to get our drive hot. If we get something from them, we can relay it back. Someone's gotta do it." Casey lets the other Raptors know they can relay their information to them, sets them up to receive info payloads, and then starts to spool up their drive. "Besides. We're both rookies."

Papa One-Five stays in position and is left far behind. Likely the crew is just glad they aren't the ones going out there. The AWACS, Airborne Warning And Control System, variant is good for long range detection of targets, steering them in, and little else. Its a big, fat, valuable target. The Vipers might as well be throwing rooster tails of space dust at it when they take off in pursuit of the bogey's position.

Papa One-Five continues to give updates every two minutes until the Vipers and Rowan's Raptor get within forty miles, "Heron, Papa One-Five, hand-off. We hold no other contacts. Relay intercept broadcast source to you… now-now-now." The ECO snaps fingers each time and then flicks a switch on his console for relaying on the datalink, sending the intercept's live dradis feed to every capital ship in the fleet if they want to see it. No doubt Casey's ECO panel is being watched by half a dozen CIC's at the moment. So far, so quiet.

Diaz spends 1 luck points on Luck be a lady.

<FS3> Diaz rolls Alertness: Success.

<FS3> Scott rolls Alertness: Success.

<FS3> Idris rolls Alertness: Great Success.

<FS3> Kieve rolls Awareness: Failure.

<FS3> Kieve rolls Alertness: Success.

Casey spends 1 luck points on Because I'm still a baby at ECM and clackity clack.

<FS3> Casey rolls ECM: Good Success.

<FS3> Niko rolls Alertness: Success.

It took Rowan a moment to realize that "Stay with the CAP" meant fly in formation with the Vipers and not just stay on the normal CAP route, but she figures it out! Her stomach twists with nerves as she follows the Vipers to investigate the bogey. She feels pretty big and important right now.

Still well behind the CAP group, Niko cuts the throttle once his Viper is at a velocity that will let him catch you before they intercept the bogey. Then it's coasting through space and keeping an eye on the DRADIS. Seeing the support raptor laggig a bit behind, the CAG is about to get on the comms to clarify his orders when he sees Rowan change course. Then he's busy playing catch up and trying to close with the flight of Vipers ahead before they make contact.

Idris is finally close enough to get a read on the thing. Vogue takes his Viper around it in circle once he's gotten a good read on it point on, seeing if he can pick up any additional data. Vogue keeps his speed up and varies his flight path in the event the thing should turn out to be hostile and try to shoot at them. As he comes around, he toggle his coms open once more.

Casey focuses her sensors on the EM spectrum. "What the frak is that?" Casey doesn't believe in coincidences. Her eyes flick over as she notices a dradis contact blinking in and then out on her display. If she hadn't been looking, she would have missed it. "Someone dipping in for data? Sentinel?" Then she clicks over to tac1.

[Into the Wireless] Idris says, "Flight, Vogue. Thermal sensors indicate it looks like a sat. No solar panels but seems to be a small power plant in the back and a heated sensor array in the nose. No weapons detected as yet but not yet ruled out, Over."

Diaz stares intently at the thermal images that come up, one sweep at a time, and blinks her eyes repeatedly to try to focus just a bit better on something that's smaller than a Raider. She keys the imaging again, cyling through settings only to settle back on the original one and stares at the display at the target and it's accompanying heat source. Once she has it's location plotted in, she studies the space around their intercept as well, varying her angle of approach off of Vogue's vector.

[Into the Wireless] Casey says, "Scythe, Hiker. I've got a weird contact on the EM spectrum. It's broadcasting, but not really broadcasting anything. There's a distant dradis contact that just blipped in and out about 250 miles out along the same bearing. It could be a ghost, but…something in my gut says it's dipping in for some kind of relay and out to stay stealthy. Or, it's stealth and shows up when it gets a transmission. Pure conjecture. Over."

[Into the Wireless] Diaz says, "Flight, Diaz. Is there a safe way to disable and not destroy it so that we can tow it back in and have engineering take it apart? over."

"What the…?" Scott mutters to himself, under his breath as he looks to that thing. Frowning as he starts looking around, to see if there's something else out here as well, shrugging a little, before he lets out a breath he wasn't sure he was holding as he hears the talk iover the comms.

In his viper the young man Kieve will adjust his scans a little trying to get anything a bit more clear than what he's started with. He listens into the channel voices and looks out though still much to far to see with bare eyes. He will keep his formation and just stand ready.

Niko's radio set crackles in his head and he recognizes a voice from a long, long time ago. The last time he heard that voice was at the last battle of the Second War. Niko was still taking orders from that Captain. "Scythe, Chiron! Bandits! Bandits! Six oclock, twenty miles! Move and engage, over!"

[Into the Wireless] Niko says, "Flight, Scythe … Someone else tell me they just heard that." The CAG usually sounds rock steady, but now he's sounding a bit rattled.

[Into the Wireless] Idris says, "Scythe, Vogue. Please clarify. Heard what, Over?"

[Into the Wireless] Scott says, "Scythe, Pollux. Hear what?"

[Into the Wireless] Diaz says, "Flight, Diaz. Sir, nothing but heat source and bearing, from the scans I have so far. It looks like it's pointed just off-set from our intercept vector, like it's aimed at what's behind us. Over."

Niko squints at his own thermal image, unable to make out anything beyond the presence of the bogey at this range. The reports over the wireless from Idris, Casey, and Diaz can do little to clarify the situation. He's thinking over what the Frak to do about this thing when he hears a voice from the past calling him on the wireless. The answers he gets from his wing-mates are not comforting, but he shakes it off. Clearly he picked the wrong week to quit drinking. Then he's back on the channel.

[Into the Wireless] Niko says, "Flight, Scythe. Never mind." He seems to have shaken off whatever it was. "Orion Actual, Scythe. Bogey looks like some kind of sensor relay drone. It is on the same vector as the main group. Request you change course, dead away, so we can see if it follows. If it changes course we'll put a shot across the bow." Then Niko comes back to the CAP group. "Vogue, have a pair of Vipers ready to put some KEW rounds ahead of our bogey if it changes course. Hiker — keep an eye on that ghost further out and keep the feed going back to the fleet.""

Casey is much more new and jumpy at this than Niko. Being shot down changed her. Hearing the CAG's more calm voice and that he has a plan seems to lull her for a moment before her eyes shoot open like saucers.

[Into the Wireless] Casey says, "Scythe, HikerThere'sLikeARhinoAppearedOnSix-" That puts the contact between the vipers and her raptor and the fleet. She tries to spew it all out as fast as she can. After that, the radios flatten to static."

Rowan startles, craning her head around to try and look at Casey. "What the /frak/ is going on?" she asks, her own eyes widened, making her look sort of like a angry tarsier.

The Viper's never have a chance to see it on their screens. Their dradis only scans forward vectors. But behind them, about twenty miles, there's an FTL flash. Its right in between the Vipers and the fleet. Then the REALLY bright flash is the satellite jumping away, nearly blinding them. Just as it happens, their radios are filled with static, blasting into their helmets. Looking down to their radio's, the frequency hopping gear is frantically searching for something that isn't already flooded to broadcast on. There's nothing. Every single frequency the radios try to lock onto is blasted full of electronic noise. Its a little disconcerting considering they are reduced to hand signals /in space/ and at /high velocity/. And while the Vipers turn, their dradis comes around as they scan and as they aim back towards the fleet, their dradis screens fill with a strobe of white. The whole group of fighters is being jammed with enough power to render not just comms, but dradis completely useless in that direction. Someone might get a quick capture of a fract larger than a Rhino, but a VERY distinct gull-wing shape that is definitely not a Rhino, at that twenty mile range. There's some kind of strobed laser on the craft and then each pilot gets a face-full of IR beam. They can feel the heat through their helmet faceplaces and the cameras on the Vipers and Raptors all go to shit… and then the strobes stop.

The Master Caution flashes in each Viper and Raptor. 'IR CAM' is lit in Yellow, indicating the system is offline. Casey's whole EM surveillance package except for dradis is toasted into Reset. The ships still hum with their powerplants fully functional, RCS thrusters 'piff'ing easily with each little nudge of the stick. With static filling their ears, its become very quiet out here all of a sudden. And very lonely. The picket is three hundred miles away. Orion another two hundred. The distance begins to sink in.

And then there's half a dozen FTL flashes around where that jamming craft is, blinking in. Its almost pretty in the silence.

There are jump flashes! Idris hauls his Viper around hard to circle back, then his DRADIS lights up like a nuke blast, whiting it out. "No, damn you!" A fist hits his consule, then he's double checking his systems and throttling up to start heading back towards the Orion. Only the next thing he knows, Vogue has to throw up an arm to block the IR as he gets it full in the face and can't see for shit! He can /feel/ the heat on his body through his canopy and flight suit and that's scary. Gods only know what else he just got a rad dose of in that instant. Alarms and lights in his cockpit instantly draw a quick glance as soon as he can see and the IR has dropped off. Bloodfeather turns down the audio as best he can on his coms to save his ear drums and tries the coms anyway to no effect, getting nothing but noise. He turns his head to see if Diaz is still with him, then tries to locate any other pilots in visual range that he might try to signal to head back to the Orion. Just in time to see more jump flashes blinking in all around them… oh shit.

"Rowan." Nope, Casey did not use her callsign or rank. "It's time to go. We're the only ones who can get word back to the fleet." She's got her hand on the button. "All my instruments are frakked but we've still got FTL and it's hot and ready to go in 5, 4, 3-2-1-*" She rushed through the countdown as soon as she saw the FTL flashes starting to pop in. She's not even sure if Rowan can hear her over local comms.

"Ohmygods, Casey, no! We can't abandon an entire Viper sqadron out he—" And Rowan's response was cut short by the jump.

It's an odd thing that one may never get used to things going from semi-normal to complete on their ears. Kieve is monitoring the goings on when /BAM/ everything goes white and then he's calling "Flight? Flight?" but there is nothing but silence as he looks back towards the wing he is supposed to be supporting giving a shrug and tap of his helmet at the ear.

"No…" Scott growls at his Viper, reaching out to smack a fist against the thing, in the unlikely event that solves the problem. Looking around, he frowns as he sees the jump flashes, glancing around towards the other Vipers to see what they are doing now. "Not good at all," he mutters to himself.

Diaz's mildly paranoid need to constantly be looking up through the canopy glass then back down and around again has her catching the edge of the first pulse of blinding light and ends up dazzled and blindsided. The to-familiar sound of alarms going off has her moving her hands instinctively to flip off the alarms and downgrade the noise level to a more moderate decibel. She glances sidelong to confirm Vogue's position, as relative to hers, and toggles the running lights on her Viper to pulse, morse code, a simple message: Coms jammed, break, sensors down, break, rtb, query. over.

"Frak!" Niko spits as things go south at high velocity. He transmits into the wall of noise, whatever orders he was trying to convey lost, but he also leads by example. Pivoting his Viper around on MCS, Scythe hits the throttle and starts to burn hard on a reverse course, setting himself on an intercept with the unknown craft that popped in behind them. Wincing, he turns his head away momentarily when he is hit with the IR strobe, and that doesn't improve his mood one bit. "Mother frakkers," he curses the new contacts that jump in around them, even as his own speed is dropping to reverse course. Niko makes a quick attempt with the IR seeker missiles, seeing if he can get a lock on whatever that gull-wing ship is. Craning his neck to see what the rest of the flight is doing, Niko spots the winking lights of Diaz's Viper. He toggles his lights on and off in quick succession. Morse code isn't something he's practiced in a while, but "R … T … B" he can manage.

The flashes have faded and there's nothing out there to see except the deep, unlit space and the star field beyond. People flash their lights at each other. Then from near those FTL flashes there's very faint little blinks of light and then each one glows, gently moving like fireflies in the sky.

And those Viper sticks watch their Raptor jump out. Poof. As they try to bring up their missiles, they begin to see the amount of destruction wrought. The IR seeker heads are completely fried. These short-range missiles down have their own dradis seeker heads. If they had, they may not even work.

Meanwhile those fireflies have stopped their movements and hang in the sky, gently growing brighter. …And brighter. If they were missiles, their warning receivers would detect the incoming.. right? ..Uh oh.

<FS3> Diaz rolls Piloting-3: Success.

<FS3> Scott rolls Piloting-3: Good Success.

<FS3> Kieve rolls Piloting-3: Success.

Idris spends 1 luck points on This is probably a good time, knowing my dice….

<FS3> Idris rolls Piloting-3: Failure.

<FS3> Niko rolls Piloting-3: Good Success.

It takes a second for Bloodfeather to realize what Diaz is doing and saying. Automatically he starts to respond 'RTB' even as he turns his head to look around and try to pin-point his fellow pilots. Just in time to see Niko coming up and flashing the same message. Vogue copies, then turns his own Viper to make sure the message is relayed to Pollux and Kieve, where ever the frak they are in case they missed it. Gods only know where they are located relative to himself. Everything is vast and dark with too much twinkling, some of which are unknown ships or missiles. Bloodfeather begins to RTB back towards last known orientation the Orion group should be and throttles up. Then he notices the growing brightness and flickers his Viper's lights 'Evade! Evade! Evade!' Idris is then too busy trying to do so.

Pausing as he sees the blinking lights, Scott focuses on those from Niko the most. "Ah…" he begins, before he winces as he seems to realize what those brighter firefly-looking things seem to be. "Frak!" he shouts out to himself, instinct taking over as he brings his Viper into a sharp roll to the side, managing to get out of the way of the missile. As he stops the roll, he looks around for the others again, quickly, as he lets out another breath. "This is not good…" he mutters.

The Raptor jumps straight from one horror show into another. Rowan's hand shake and she tries to breathe mindfully to keep her cool. "Casey? Casey? What do we do now?"

Reading the pulse of 'RTB' from the CAG and seeing the same flicker relaying around the rest of the flight, Diaz signals 'Confirm, over' before she blinks at the twinkling lights that shouldn't be where they are. She frowns, the expression on her face intense, and not wasting breath muttering to herself as she starts to maneuver back to where the Orion is - should be. Blinking lights. Great - sparkly - blinking - she pulses the lights on her viper with one hand and guides with the other. "Break - break - break" she pulses the single word over and over again as her viper rolls sharply to the side to evade the incoming missile with a healthy margin. Not that healthy margin doesn't make her swear in the silence of her own helmet. Flexing her left hand before she sends the word 'Missile' as well as she twists left/right/left again to get eyes on the rest of the flight while still rocketing forward toward the Orion and edging her vector to align with Vogues.

Niko sees the tell-tale lights out there in the blackness, moving against the distant stars. Missile engine guiding on them. Seeing Idris is already blinking the alarm, he starts his own turn to the right to try and find out which of the incoming are guiding on his ship. Picking out the likely culprit, Scythe gets it on his beam and prepares to turn hard as it comes in close. All via Mark One Eyeball? "Should have listened," he mutters to himself as he gets ready to break. "Sorry Hobo. Should have listened." And then he hits the throttle and changes course, forcing the missile to fall behind him and lose lock. He lets out the breath he was holding as it streaks past, then tries to get back on course toward that gull-winged mother frakker. Even if he can't get a lock, they don't know that. So Scythe lines up as best he can and shoots. Fox one. The missile streaks off into the darkness.

Kieve has time to notice how long time seems to take while in this silent blackness, before he also sees the flickers of light reading them correctly. Though he doesnt have much time to react to them as suddenly what was still though not really peaceful gets worse as a flash catches his eye a missile headed for him. The young man pushes forward and twists his viper which misses the missile by less than he'd like for it to.

It's a hard, difficult shake but Idris manages to just /barely/ ditch the missile that set it's tag on his Viper. He jinks, pushes his engines hard, and it denonates just to port and aft of his engines with a force that for a second he thinks is a hit! But no, it was a very near miss. Got his heart thumping hard in his chest. Vogue looks around for anything incoming hard on him and then tries to locate the status of his fellow pilots. Like Niko, he's getting mad, and sets his sights for one of those twinkling lights if he can find one between himself and the way back towards the Orion. The Captain wants in a hell of a lot closer, missiles or no missiles. He checks his KEW status.

While the Vipers dodge the missiles, the enemy fighters are closing the distance. The pilots can start to make out the dark shapes moving. Six of them. They're bigger than Vipers, heavier. Twin tails like Raptors but hulking engines behind the cockpits with larger wings than a Viper. That's when the wings start twinking like stars and tracers begin flashing past their cockpits.

"I don't know. Try to stay alive." Casey just stares out the cockpit. Her eyes sweep back to DRADIS and then she says, "I'm going to jump us in closer to where the vipers are, see if we can help them cover their return if they get out." She'd immediately started spooling the drive again when they popped in and saw the horror. She starts doing the rapid calculations, glancing back at her display.

"Okay. Okay. Okay. Sounds good." Rowan is grasping for any flotsam to keep afloat and she jumps on Casey's idea (no pun intended).

'We are Erfriki,' Diaz pulses this over and over, 'we are Erfriki', she repeats those three words with the lights on her viper over and over and over. Flying one handed as there's no good way to program the lights to do this on the fly, but she keeps blinking the lights to pulse this message as she continues to maneuver.

Niko's missile wings off into empty space, never to be seen again. With the Vipers scattered from dodging missiles and no good way to communicate, the CAG leaves his pilots to make the best decision they can. The tracers in the dark are enough to convince him they're not going to be able to break off easily, and at least he knows where the mother frakers are now. If the others also engage, he's at least got company. And if they don't, he's at least covering their exit. Breaking into the bandit firing at him, Niko lines up to go head to head. "Let's see what you've got."

They are coming in fast! Bloodfeather is about to try and flash a last message by morse himself when the bogies open up with their tracers, and presumably their own versions of KEW. Idris's dark eyes drink in what few details he can because his gun cams are probably fried along with half the rest of his bird. There's a quick prayer that his weapons still work as he opens up his own KEW to start firing as hot and heavy as he can as he zeros in like a madman determined to play chicken with the larger, meaner looking craft. Either he's about to blow some holes into it, or Vogue is about to get punched hard, but he's determined not to go out without putting up a fight first! "ih haija, Chey'isol! ih haija Sidi Al'dieb, eh Jehan!" It's a prayer fragment, hissed through his teeth.

Trying to decide if he should get away or help cover their retreat, Scott's decision is made a bit easier by the incoming fire. He turns towards the enemies, attempting to take down the nearest one now.

Diaz keeps tipping her head back, looking from side to side, then forward again. She drops her Viper down into position alongside Vogue, maneuvering by proximity alone instead of via com or signal. Casting that last message out via code, blind hope that it is, she sets her sights on one of the incoming Bandits. Shoot first, ask questions later?

<COMBAT> Niko attacks Bandit5 with KEW - Light wound to Weapon.

<COMBAT> Bandit5 attacks Niko with 6xHMG and MISSES!

<COMBAT> Scott attacks Bandit6 with KEW - Moderate wound to Cabin (Reduced by Armor).

<COMBAT> Idris attacks Bandit2 with KEW but MISSES!

<COMBAT> Bandit1 attacks Diaz with 6xHMG but MISSES!

<COMBAT> Kieve attacks Bandit3 with KEW and MISSES!

<COMBAT> Diaz attacks Bandit1 with KEW - Moderate wound to Controls (Reduced by Armor).

<COMBAT> Bandit6 attacks Scott with 6xHMG and MISSES!

<COMBAT> Bandit2 attacks Diaz with 6xHMG - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!

<COMBAT> Bandit4 attacks Kieve with 6xHMG and MISSES!

<COMBAT> Bandit3 attacks Kieve with 6xHMG and MISSES!

Niko trades fire with the bandit off his nose, noting the sparks from a few of his KEW rounds striking home. But the enemy fighter doesn't look to be much damaged and Niko jinks his Viper and then pulls into a high-G turn as they pass. DRADIS is on white out and the IR is down, but he can still pick out Viper from bandit visually thanks to the different engine layouts. And a lot of the bad guys look to be headed his way all of the sudden. Breaking hard back the other way, the CAG goes into a loose turn, varying his speed to try and throw off enemy fire while dragging the lot in front of his wing-mates guns.

The first pass of weapons fire exchanged gives Diaz's a much more up close and personal view of the incoming Bandit than she really wants. She tracks the same Bandit as she cuts the spin as tight as she can and comes back around, opening fire again as she does so.

"Heron. FTL's spooled. Just a second. We're going to be a little bit out ahead of them, but we should be within range of jamming immediately without getting caught. Looks like they are returning to base, so we need to start heading back in this direction immediately." Casey checks the calculations once more time and looks back at DRADIS, adjusting something. "Alright jumping in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1-Jump!"

Firing at the nearest enemy, Scott looks a bit relieved as he manages to avoid any incoming fire. "Too close…" he mutters to himself. Glancing around again, he works on finding out where the enemy he was firing at is, moving to try firing once more. A bit harder with DRADIS and such not working. "Come on, come on…"

Kieve doesnt have too much time to breath after the missile streaks by as he's engaged. "Balls.." He comments though he'll throw open his throttle, managing to turn last moment letting the fighters go inbtween him, though this also means his shots miss too though now he can turn around and engage properly.

Incredulous, every shot he makes seems to miss! Or if he scores any hits, they don't seem to have had any effect. Hard to say when the ship he's firing at is so dark against the black of space. Bloodfeather's viper rips past and then Vogue immediately starts shooting for the next one he can find closest, one that's shooting at him! Fair game. No more prayers, no talking, just breathing a little fast with his beating pulse as the Squadron Leader guns for the next target and hopes to hell that his fellow pilots aren't being torn apart. Not to mention the Orion…

<COMBAT> Idris attacks Bandit6 with KEW - Serious wound to Cockpit.

<COMBAT> Niko attacks Bandit5 with KEW - Moderate wound to Body (Reduced by Armor).

<COMBAT> Bandit4 attacks Niko with 6xHMG and MISSES!

<COMBAT> Kieve attacks Bandit3 with KEW - Critical wound to Body.

<COMBAT> Diaz attacks Bandit1 with KEW - Serious wound to Left Wing (Reduced by Armor).

<COMBAT> Bandit6 attacks Idris with 6xHMG and MISSES!

<COMBAT> Bandit5 attacks Scott with 6xHMG and MISSES!

<COMBAT> Bandit3 attacks Niko with 6xHMG and MISSES!

<COMBAT> Bandit2 attacks Niko with 6xHMG but MISSES!

<COMBAT> Scott attacks Bandit6 with KEW - Moderate wound to Body (Reduced by Armor).

<COMBAT> Bandit1 attacks Idris with 6xHMG and MISSES!

<COMBAT> Heavy Raider-9195v has been KO'd!

<COMBAT> Bandit1 has been KO'd!

<COMBAT> Heavy Raider-0040d has been KO'd!

<COMBAT> Bandit3 has been KO'd!

In the absence of coms that work, and having turned the static down to just loud enough to fill the cockpit with the sound of static but not enough to be annoying, Diaz marks 2 of the bandits as down and out of the fight and shifts her firing solution accordingly.

Niko gets the satisfaction of seeing someone bags one of the bandits on his tail. Kaboom! He can thank Kieve later when he figures out who it was. The other two chasing him break off, and this gives Scythe a chance to turn the tables. pivoting the Viper around, he lines up the gunsight on the badguy he first enaged, sending a line of red tracer stabbing out toward the bandit.

It's a better time for Kieve this time, he turns hard bringing his guns to bear on one of the targets and lets them open up hitting the target hard and it goes up in pieces. He is missing his console about now though as he only visually spots the two flying hard on him. He'll try to manuever to get a shot while hoping not to be hit.

Scott manages to avoid more incoming fire, frowning as he sees the bandit he was chasing turning for another target. "Oh no, you don't…" he mutters, moving in far more aggressively now. "Time for you to disappear…" he mutters, a moment before he fires off the shot.

/This/ time Idris has the satisfaction of nailing the enemy craft, ripping it up with his KEW to great satisfaction. Pollux is also on it so Bloodfeather leaves his fellow pilot the kill and he rolls his viper around, still at high velocity to go after another of the enemy that's gunning for himself. This one looks undamaged - Vogue is less concerned about making the killboard marks than he is about doing as much damage as fast as he can to save the lives of his pilots, if he can. And RTB their asses back ASAP. So weird, to have no coms chatter, only horrid noise and static.

The Raptor jumps back. Yay? Rowan flies smart, trying to keep a good distance away, but still close enough for Casey to jam the bogeys.

<COMBAT> Niko attacks Bandit5 with KEW - Moderate wound to Body (Reduced by Armor).

<COMBAT> Idris attacks Bandit4 with KEW but MISSES!

<COMBAT> Diaz attacks Bandit2 with KEW - Light wound to Body (Reduced by Armor).

<COMBAT> Scott attacks Bandit6 with KEW and MISSES!

<COMBAT> Kieve attacks Bandit2 with KEW but MISSES!

<COMBAT> Bandit4 fires a 3 round burst!

<COMBAT> Bandit4 attacks Idris with 6xHMG and MISSES!

<COMBAT> Bandit4 attacks Idris with 6xHMG and MISSES!

<COMBAT> Bandit4 attacks Idris with 6xHMG and MISSES!

<COMBAT> Casey suppresses Bandit2 with ECM. <successful>

<COMBAT> Casey suppresses Bandit4 with ECM. <successful>

<COMBAT> Bandit5 fires a 3 round burst!

<COMBAT> Bandit5 attacks Idris with 6xHMG and MISSES!

<COMBAT> Bandit5 attacks Idris with 6xHMG and MISSES!

<COMBAT> Bandit5 attacks Idris with 6xHMG and MISSES!

<COMBAT> Bandit6 fires a 3 round burst!

<COMBAT> Bandit6 attacks Kieve with 6xHMG and MISSES!

<COMBAT> Bandit6 attacks Kieve with 6xHMG and MISSES!

<COMBAT> Bandit6 attacks Kieve with 6xHMG and MISSES!

<COMBAT> Bandit2 fires a 3 round burst!

<COMBAT> Bandit2 attacks Kieve with 6xHMG - ARMOR on Tail stops the attack!

<COMBAT> Bandit2 attacks Kieve with 6xHMG and MISSES!

<COMBAT> Bandit2 attacks Kieve with 6xHMG - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!

Free for the moment to focus on his shooting, Niko stitches a nice line of 30mm HEAP rounds into the damaged bandit as it flies across his sights. The enemy ship struggles on, though it's clearly shot to Hades. Scythe fires his main engine to get onto a pursuit course, ready to finish the guy off. And none too soon, as he sees the bandit is headed for a raptor. Raptor came back? Hopefully that's a good sign and not a bad one, but there's no way to get the news until they deal with the gate crashers.

Another pass for exchange of weapons fire and Diaz's breath is exhaled in annoyance that the attack does almost no real damage at all. In the absence of missiles, and wouldn't it be nice if these things had a lever that could be pulled to release the missile like a hand tosses molotov cocktail, reliance on dogfighting skills and the brief burst of KEW is the name of the game. Again the viper banks hard, a spin hard enough to make her stomach turn as well, but she's altering course again, right back into the fray.

Missing his shots, Scott lets out a frustrated growl before he glares at the still not working DRADIS. "Work, will you…" he mutters, before he moves in to fire at the enemy again, just as aggressively.

Casey is immediately calling out their position to Rowan and distance to the closest bandit. "Jamming," two in fact. Casey dials up her targets and initiates the sequence. "Yes you frak bastards, come into my net," she whispers sweet nothings out into space like some spider weaving her web.

And he misses again! Idris swivals his head around trying to keep tabs on his other pilots. It's all a furball but it looks like most of his pilots are still in the fight. He keeps on, seeking to stay on his target and nail that bastard yet. Bloodfeather also manages to get a glimpse of what's in the other cockpit though the mask or helmet, and suit, obscure details and would make even a man look like some kind of alien.

Some people say that Raptors are clunky schoolbuses, but for Rowan, they are far faster and more agile than the hauler she used to fly for the crop-shipping company. With the computer screaming about incoming, she tries her best to get out of the way.

<COMBAT> Niko attacks Bandit5 with KEW - Moderate wound to Left Wing (Reduced by Armor).

<COMBAT> Scott attacks Bandit6 with KEW - Light wound to Engine (Reduced by Armor).

<COMBAT> Kieve attacks Bandit2 with KEW - Critical wound to Body (Reduced by Armor).

<COMBAT> Bandit4 fires a 3 round burst!

<COMBAT> Bandit4 attacks Diaz with 6xHMG and MISSES!

<COMBAT> Bandit4 attacks Diaz with 6xHMG - ARMOR on Left Wing stops the attack!

<COMBAT> Bandit4 attacks Diaz with 6xHMG - ARMOR on Nose stops the attack!

<COMBAT> Idris attacks Bandit4 with KEW - Critical wound to Body (Reduced by Armor).

<COMBAT> Casey suppresses Bandit2 with ECM. <successful>

<COMBAT> Casey suppresses Bandit4 with ECM. <successful>

<COMBAT> Bandit5 fires a 3 round burst!

<COMBAT> Bandit5 attacks Rowan with 6xHMG but MISSES!

<COMBAT> Bandit5 attacks Rowan with 6xHMG and MISSES!

<COMBAT> Bandit5 attacks Rowan with 6xHMG but MISSES!

<COMBAT> Diaz attacks Bandit2 with KEW - Critical wound to Cockpit.

<COMBAT> Bandit2 fires a 3 round burst!

<COMBAT> Bandit2 attacks Idris with 6xHMG and MISSES!

<COMBAT> Bandit2 attacks Idris with 6xHMG and MISSES!

<COMBAT> Bandit2 attacks Idris with 6xHMG and MISSES!

<COMBAT> Bandit6 fires a 3 round burst!

<COMBAT> Bandit6 attacks Niko with 6xHMG and MISSES!

<COMBAT> Bandit6 attacks Niko with 6xHMG but MISSES!

<COMBAT> Bandit6 attacks Niko with 6xHMG but MISSES!

<COMBAT> Heavy Raider-0800 has been KO'd!

<COMBAT> Bandit2 has been KO'd!

<COMBAT> Heavy Raider-7770g has been KO'd!

<COMBAT> Bandit4 has been KO'd!

<COMBAT> Heavy Raider-3614n has been KO'd!

<COMBAT> Bandit6 has been KO'd!

Three more go down in rapid succession, giving the Vipers an immediate turn on the bandits. Things are going downhill fast for them. The last one left breaks off engagement and then suddenly jumps away, just as the jamming craft jumps as well. The effect is instantaneous. Their dradis systems come right back online and suddenly comms clears up. Designed to sync on times, they're all immediately dumped back onto the same frequency and there's a quick, electronic tone on channel to let them know. The static is gone and they're left out here by themselves… until twelve more jump in behind them at forty miles. The enemy fighters immediately bring up their own systems and are trying to get missile lock, but maybe the Vipers are just too far.

And then something catches their attention. Far, far in the distance, back towards the fleet, there are several flashes. One. Then another and two more in quick succession. Then more of them. Nuclear. Something is happening with the fleet…

The radio fizzles in, -apa One-Five, Strikes! RTB! Fleet has been attacked! RTB! Strikes, are you receiving, over?" the voice calls, forceful.

[Into the Wireless] Casey says, "Flight, Hiker. Can confirm. Fleet was attacked at same time. We hopped there and back to cover your retreat. Over."

Niko is still dogging the bandit's tail. Another KEW burst shreds the target's left wing, but it's still flying. And then *flash* the big fighter jumps away, leaving the CAG cursing. "Frak you." He cocks an ear, listening to the suddenly restored comms and Casey's report. Well, one thing at a time. At least the restored network confirms everyone else is still alive.

[Into the Wireless] Niko says, "Hiker, Scythe. Roger that. Flight — Great flying, people. Vogue — round up your pack. Return to base."

[Into the Wireless] Idris says, "Strikes, Vogue. Coms back online. Status check! Sing out, over."

[Into the Wireless] Diaz says, "Flight, Diaz. Reading five by five. Copy RTB, over."

Soon as the pounded ships that remain leap out, and their coms come back, Idris demands flight status of his pilots. Bloodfeather wants a headcount to see who've they have left, then to RTB. It is a relief to him to hear their voices chiming in over his coms and seeing his DRADIS back online to look for his pilots himself, as well as enemy bogey positions. But, if they loose the Orion out here it's going to be very, very bad so he begins to throttle up full bore to head back faster than hot.

"I'm going to warm up the drive again just in case, but we should probably not jump back. If it's anything like we last saw? We're going to need Viper escort when we land." Casey's DRADIS lights up as new bandits pop in further out. "We've got some standoffish company." She readies her countermeasures again.

The burst of tone that signals reacquisition of com signal is a welcome sound within the cockpit, along with the sudden burst of com chatter that gives direction once again. She is eyeing the DRADIS and the approaching bandits as she gooses the engines to pour on some serious speed now.

As their comms and DRADIS comes back, Scott is unable to hold back a bit of a chuckle. "Thank you…" he mutters to the instruments, before he turns to move back again, as fast as they go.

[Into the Wireless] Scott says, "Flight, Pollux. So glad to hear your voices again. I don't think I've taken any damage."

Only a moment to breath as his sensor's return before the com comes back and the news well isnt good. Kieve goes wided-eyed "Oh.. come /on/" HE says pounding his fist on the dash before he does round back to prepare to head back.

At the same time the Vipers were ambushed, fifty different bogeys jumped in at a range of 100 miles from the fleet in a wagonwheel surrounding it. Each one launched two tactical nuclear missiles in the 10 kiloton range - anti-ship missiles designed to kill ships and be fast.

<OOC> Dropkick says, "Okay so I am rolling for damage to ships in the fleet as I do this. Except for Orion, I'll be rolling three times per ship for their totals. Each success level counts as +1. Success=1, Good Success=2, etc. The Orion will be rolled per department."
<OOC> Dropkick says, "Because we RP on the Orion, I'll be grading her a bit harder."
<OOC> Dropkick says, "Orion goes last. First up, Heavy Cruiser Kings Bay"
<FS3> Dropkick rolls 3: Success.
<FS3> Dropkick rolls 3: Failure.
<FS3> Dropkick rolls 3: Success.
<OOC> Dropkick says, "Kings Bay takes light damage. A few fires that are put out."
<OOC> Dropkick says, "Heavy Cruiser Walker Shoals is next."
<FS3> Dropkick rolls 3: Failure.
<FS3> Dropkick rolls 3: Good Success.
<FS3> Dropkick rolls 3: Good Success.
<OOC> Dropkick says, "Walker Shoals takes no hits and is able to assist damage control on Kings Bay, lessening the damage."
<OOC> Dropkick says, "Next is Light Cruiser Clotho."
<FS3> Dropkick rolls 3: Failure.
<FS3> Dropkick rolls 3: Good Success.
<FS3> Dropkick rolls 3: Success.
<OOC> Dropkick says, "Takes a single hit. Minor structural to the outside. Its just a flesh wound, sire!"
<OOC> Dropkick says, "Next is Flak Frigate William Landry"
<FS3> Dropkick rolls 4: Success.
<FS3> Dropkick rolls 4: Success.
<FS3> Dropkick rolls 4: Good Success.
<OOC> Dropkick says, "Landry's flak system worked outstanding and will be able to assist Orion, if needed."
<OOC> Dropkick says, "Next, Corvette Garner (Stealth)"
<FS3> Dropkick rolls 3: Good Success.
<FS3> Dropkick rolls 3: Good Success.
<FS3> Dropkick rolls 3: Failure.
<OOC> Dropkick says, "Garner avoids hits and can also assist Orion."
<OOC> Dropkick says, "Next, Cutter Riley."
<FS3> Dropkick rolls 3: Failure.
<FS3> Dropkick rolls 3: Failure.
<FS3> Dropkick rolls 3: Success.
<OOC> Dropkick says, "Cutter takes moderate damage and is temporarily out of action. Fire suppression failure and the crews are manually battling the fires."
<OOC> Dropkick says, "Now, I've been using 3 as the standard for damage on the others for a total. Because Orion was the primary target, 4 will be the standard."
<OOC> Dropkick says, "First up is Air Wing."
<FS3> Dropkick rolls 3: Failure.
<FS3> Dropkick rolls 3: Success.
<FS3> Dropkick rolls 3: Success.
<OOC> Dropkick says, "We lost twenty-five Vipers and ten Raptors due to nuclear detonations. All crews killed."
<OOC> Dropkick says, "Next up is Deck."
<FS3> Dropkick rolls 3: Success.
<FS3> Dropkick rolls 3: Failure.
<FS3> Dropkick rolls 3: Failure.
<OOC> Dropkick says, "Ouch. Three major fire on the starboard flight pod. We lost 20% of on-duty personnel due to detonations, fire, and venting. Additional ten Vipers, five Raptors, five, Predtaors, and four Rhinos."
<OOC> Dropkick says, "(20% in that pod)"
<OOC> Dropkick says, "Next up, Engineering."
<FS3> Dropkick rolls 3: Failure.
<FS3> Dropkick rolls 3: Failure.
<FS3> Dropkick rolls 3: Good Success.
<OOC> Dropkick says, "Several small fires in Engineering. The wormhole drive is off-line and moderately damaged. FTL is down to one reactor. We can make 50% power."
<OOC> Dropkick says, "Next is Medical."
<FS3> Dropkick rolls 3: Success.
<FS3> Dropkick rolls 3: Failure.
<FS3> Dropkick rolls 3: Success.
<OOC> Dropkick says, "Fire in Medical, deonates an oxygen tank. Lose several nurses and PAC's. Recovery is under moderate damage and basically unusable for a week while it is repaired and scrubbed down."
<OOC> Dropkick says, "Next up is Tactical."
<FS3> Dropkick rolls 3: Failure.
<FS3> Dropkick rolls 3: Success.
<FS3> Dropkick rolls 3: Failure.
<OOC> Dropkick says, "Sensors are basically knocked off line and there was an explosion in CIC, killing two and wounding five. Space traffic control is destroyed and will need to be handled by Raptors for at least a week. The internal wireless network is down for three days."
<OOC> Dropkick says, "And whoops, I forgot the Marines.."
<FS3> Dropkick rolls 3: Good Success.
<FS3> Dropkick rolls 3: Failure.
<FS3> Dropkick rolls 3: Success.
<OOC> Dropkick says, "Fire in an armory locker. Rater than fight it, locker was vented. This was NOT the primary armory. Four Marines wounded from one of the explosions in Engineering."
<OOC> Casey says, "Supply/Galley…"
<FS3> Casey rolls 3: Failure.
<FS3> Casey rolls 3: Success.
<FS3> Casey rolls 3: Success.
<OOC> Dropkick says, "Supply/Galley hit 50% to no damage."
<OOC> Dropkick says, "So Deck 4, Stowage, has a fire that consumes a bunch of lockers and ruins/destroys a lot of personal items not kept in the bunks. One of the gas lines in the galley breaks free and explodes, killing five and wounding 20. Galley is out of operation for 48 hours. People are distributed MRE's."

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