MD #238: Golf-51 Predator Strike
MD#238: Golf-51 Predator Strike
Summary: Airwing volunteers for a high risk op to bomb choice targets at a prison facility, but not without loosing Ben 'Timber' Cross and several ECO's.
Date: Sat 02/Dec/2017 (OOC Date)
Related Logs: Anything to do with Gulf-51.
Elena Ben Diaz Idris Casey 
Donovan Melissa Bennett Lleufer Dropkickst 
Gulf-51, Paladin System
Snowy mountains, valleys, fjords, a lake, and a major prison city.
Tue 19/Jun/2049 (IC Date)

The Predators first had to maneuver and land on the asteroid, then it was accelerated up to speed and then a ship dragged them through the wormhole with their Rhino, flown by Bennett. Popping out the other side of the tunnel, all radios went silent and the Rhino flickered its lights before jumping away. It was going to come find them if there was any reason to abort the attack. But its 16 hours of riding an asteroid and using the thrusters on their Predators to 'steer' the massive rock. Tiny adjustments were required but for the most part, the next 16 hours are spent in boredom. The only person the pilots could talk to was their ECO since that isn't a radio, but an intercom.

But the Rhino never appeared again. That means it was either parked and waiting for them, or it was destroyed. Probably best not to linger on the latter option since it would spell death for all of them. There are no immediate rescue plans for anyone who goes down. All they have is each other and it starts to settle in just how isolated and alone they are as the asteroid passed neared to the planet. There are enemy search dradis operating everywhere around them, some from massive ships that might be near the size of a battlestar. One of them even cycles up a targeting system and locks onto the asteroid, but nothing comes of it. The asteroid is going to slingshot off the gravity well of the planet, not impact it. However, inside the cockpits of the Predators, it probably feels VERY much like it is going to. They pass lower and lower until altimeter readings start registering on the consoles. Below them, they can see the planet surface moving towards daylight in the distance, an inky blackness below. Puffy clouds make it hard to see the surface in totality.

And then there it is. A break in the cloud layer provides them a view of the ocean below and the entrance to the inlet they will be flying up. Time to detach and dive.

The life of a pilot: long stretches of boredom interspersed with condensed periods of sheer terror. This is it. Crone flashes her lights twice, detaching from the asteroid. She banks and makes a clean turn, heading toward route GALIL. "Here we go," she says softly to Hiker. "Too late for prayers. We're in it now."

Melissa slept for a good portion of the trip, then ate a bagel and drank some coffee. Read a book. All in all, it wasn't terribly exciting until the planet started getting closer. She looked up from her book at one point and suddenly gripped the stick, forgetting she was riding the asteroid. Damned books! Closer to mission time, she puts the helmet back on and tucks her thermos into the small flight bag. Head swiveled up and watching the surface pass by, she caught the others leaving in order and lifted off using her thrusters, diving towards the ocean below and heading for the inlet as she brings her engines online.

Ben spent most of that time reading Death In The Void by Carl Mantis, the latest detective novel featuring Samual Spencer ace detective. Ben has read three books in the series and is hooked. For Edits sake, he reads it aloud until Ed tells him to shut up. The rest of the trip Ben finishes the book and sets it aside, pulling out the mission report for one more last look. The console comes to life and Ben checks his insterments. Ship is still powered down. He prepares for detachment, looking for the signal.

16 hours spent in idle conversation gave both pilot and ECO a lot of time to cover all the small top topics, then the random mulling of all the mutual gossip both could bring into the Predator. From there it was sports, training blooper stories, a few passes at the bigger questions… and another 12 hours to kill with more conversation. The minor adjustments required in tandem with the other Predator teams offered the only real 'excitement' after a while, because adrenaline will only last so long. The last two hours would have been the longest and by the time the altimeter is finally in the right zone and both she and her ECO Mike are looking through the windows like a pair of kids at a death defying carnival ride there's a sense of lets-get-it-done that probably isn't unique to passengers of this Predator. Nothing like a 16 hour slog with a gravity well at the end of the road to keep things interesting. Mike hits the switch to pulse the lights on the Predator just the once while Diaz is detaches the Predator from the asteroid and cues the thrusters to begin the dive toward the ocean below, angling toward the inlet as the engines come on-line.

Idris has had a long wait, but music has made it easier to bear and perhaps he even lightly napped with a timer set to wake him now and then to check on everything. 16 hours is a long wait in the cockpit. Having an ECO along to speak with did help and it turns out that Blackwell is an interseting person in her own right. As they draw closer to the planet, Captain Bloodfeather rouses himself to fully alert. Gold-51's surface begins to roll on by slowly beneath them and then his dark eyes are watchful for Elena's airframe to flash her lights for them to detatch. "Blackwell, there's the signal. Detach from astroid on my mark…. Mark." Soon as they are free and falling for the planet's surface, 'Vogue' fires up the Predator's engines and begins their atmospheric entry at speed.

"I don't pray anymore anyways," Hiker returns back to the DCAG nonchallantly. "I guess I better put down my book and wipe this drool off my chin," she mentions but she'd already been ready anyways. Book got put down about thirty minutes ago. She checks her instrument panel and then stifles a yawn.

Donovan and his ECO Jim 'Blues' Haley have been talking about a shared passion for the last 16 hours. Music. They talked about favorite pieces and what lead them to learn to play. They make up an impromptu plan to get together after the mission and throw down some tunes. Well… that is if Donovan can find a piano someplace. And then… the boredom is over and they are ready to go. Donovan sits up straight in his seat and tightens his belts around himself. "Here we go Blues… see you on the other side Gods willing." he says over the intercom and then sets his mind to flying and not getting them fraking killed today. He drops with the flight, free fall to clear and then when the others engines come online, he falls in line and accelerates. Games face time.

As the group descends towards the ocean and the hole in the clouds, they start to see the air-breathing instruments come to life. The barometric pressures automatically align to a more proper altitude and the things jar quickly as the settings take hold, now working reliably. Further away, the horizon and its promise of daylight fades. As it all becomes darker and darker and the instruments detect air, the insides of their helmets flicker and the night vision system kicks on, providing the whole faceplate with a filter that allows the aircrew to see everything around them through the green hue. Its immensely helpful when they drop below the clouds.

Doing-so, they dive through the hole in the clouds are immediately buffeted by high winds at ten thousand feet. Lower and lower, flying eastbound they can see the coast in the distance… but there's another problem. The clouds are getting lower and the winds are getting heavier - to the point that the inside of the cockpits feels like riding a shaking train. Equipment rattles and the bombs on the racks are shaking. The rain starts splattering across the canopy glass as well.

The greenish hue from the night vision system makes both the inside of the cockpit and the view through the windows just a little surreal. Pointed eastward with the rest of the squadron, and keeping a wary eye on the decreasing amount of distance between relative position and the hard deck, the first slap of rain against the canopy glass makes Diaz jump and share a sidelong glance with Mike that's just a trifle sheepish. It's no small feat to keep the Predator steady as the cloud cover and winds make the vehicle shake, rattle and roll. Diaz can practically feel her teeth clacking together if she's not paying attention.

Elena grits her teeth, wishing she could sing out to confirm everyone was hanging in there. She tries to look on the bright side, that this might make them harder to spot.

Ben saw the signal and Ed detached. The ship is pulled into atmo along with the rest of them. The fall brings flames across the window and Ben begins the start up sequence. The predator hums and stuppers, then suddenly comes to life. The stick has life and Ben begins approach to the engress. Thicker air or higher presser makes controlling the heavy ship harder than he thought, but he's on it. Muscles tense with the shaking stick until they get lower. Down and down they go until Ed points out the entry point for the egress on the insterments. "On it." Ben manuvers the ship to the starting point. The different atmo makes for a few currections, but even that is close to the same. It's the winds that make him work harder to fly in a strait line. He brings the Prdator down to the entry point and pulls it level. "Gods this is heavy." Noting the difference of more bombs and fewer missles on the bird. Lining it up, leveling it off, two hundred feet. Engress achieved. He fights not call it out, radio silence. That's an order.

Diaz's craft was noted on the infall and 'Vogue' has aligned himself to pair off with the Ten as they'll be working together on this mission. Captain Bloodfeather's stim tab he took with tea and food really has him alert now, checking on his fellow pilots. Radio silence is maintained as they drop altitudeand begin to really hit turbulance. 'Vogue' makes adjustments to his Predator and doucle checks all his instruments are reading clearly as it becomes apparent he is going to be depending heavily on them this flight. A slow, deep breath - flying low threading mountain valleys blind and on instruments in high winds is seriously going to test their skills as pilots. But, maybe the bad weather will also help mask any screwups in their stealthy approach. "Hold on back there. Ride's getting rough." Damn. Soon enough Idris can see little but rain and cloud mist, fighting the hard shudder through the stick with both gloved hands.

Melissa braces as they hit the winds and begins pulling out of the dive, sticking to Elena's wing like glue. She is the last ship in the whole flight and 'Tail End Charlie' — the absolute most dangerous position on a strike package. As the flight passes over, she will be showing her ass to every single gun and missile system at the prison. This is something that she knows damned well, though she hasn't mentioned it to the Ensign in her backseat. She seems nervous enough as it is and Melissa doesn't want to make it worse. Even as it starts shaking and raining, she ends up tightening the straps and trying to relax back into the ejection seat, brushing her throttles up as they speed up.

Donovan adjusts his thrusters just a bit to help with the wind and calls back to Blues. "Keep an eye on those racks." he asks, not that his poor ECO doesn't have enough to do already. He blinks a few times as his faceplate switches over to night-vision. "And this is why I didn't eat." he mutters under his breath as the Predator shakes violently in the wind buffet. "Join the Air Wing… travel to exotic world…" he fails to finish the little comment as he bites his tongue from the shaking. He does one more glace around at his instruments and then focuses back outside his cockpit, keeping in tight formation at breakneck speed.

The coast flashes past on their left and right, the team flying up the miles-wide inlet, moving faster and faster. Busting the Mach, the water beneath them begins spraying up and mixing with the rain. Its a sight to see. If there's anyone watching from the shore they would see six gray-green ghostly darts pass in silence before getting hit by six thundering bangs. The wind through the inlet is only getting worse. Its getting harder to control through here and as they come up on Galil, the rain becomes more intense and then turns white. …Its no longer rain. Its snow. A flickering of lighting in the distance deadens the night vision around the source of it, keeping the light from blinding the aircrew.

Coming right, they enter the narrow canyon and fly southbound. At only a half of a mile wide, it has plenty of room. But the V-shape is more than a mile high and the walls are sheer, almost cliff faces. Below them, trees are getting the dusting of snow and its clearly getting colder. The river running down the valley has some large ice chunks in it, indicating that its going to get real thick as they get deeper in. And right here is where it gets complicated, right as they pass the first turn and the canyon floor elevation climbs.

<FS3> Melissa rolls Piloting-2: Great Success.

<FS3> Ben rolls Piloting-2: Failure.

<FS3> Elena rolls Piloting-2: Good Success.

<FS3> Diaz rolls Piloting-2: Good Success.

<FS3> Idris rolls Piloting-2: Success.

<FS3> Donovan rolls Piloting-2: Good Success.

Ben tries to see through the dark, rain in high winds. He looks to the right for Sparky, then it happens. The ship clips the edge of a tree. The speed of the craft and the drag of the trees cause the Predator to shift it's anle slightly, dragging branches along side the trees. Edit screams out, "What the frak are you doing Timber. We just lost a bomb on the rack." Edits insterments flash out, "Fuel leak LT. Get on the path!" Ben turns quckly back to his insterments, not panicing, taking charge. He pulls the ship back away from the edge. He says nothing, what can he say when he's in the wrong. Pulling the ship back on target, he says calmly, "We have enough fuel to finish?" Edit does the math and says, "You worry about the target Timber. Keep us on course." Then under his breath Ed mumbles, "Frak'n idiot." Ben doesn't respond, having heard it. It's a tight space. He know his ECO is right.

Is this.." comes Mike's low voiced question to which Diaz replies, "… it is. It's snow," and there's just the ever so faint sound of surprise in Diaz's tone of voice as she keys the command to warm the canopy glass to prevent condensation from turning into ice that would obscure the display. A glance left and right has her marking the position of the rest of the squadron, sharing a subtle wing-waggle to Vogue to confirm that she and Mike are still flying 5x5 even as they're adjusting for more speed and starting to traverse the gauntlet with it's jagged peaks and winds kicking off of the variable elevation. Nothing like a massive wall of wind sheer and updraft to keep things interesting.

'Violet' shoves through the corner, flying the Predator a lot like her mother used to. The Go-Pro on her helmet records her casually tilting her head through the turn, watching the others ahead of her. Her eyes flick back and forth, watching the instruments, the moving map MFD, and Elena's engines. Behind her, she can hear the ECO muttering something over and over. In reply, Melissa begins humming gently. Something soothing and almost comically out of place considering the intensity of the turbulence and the situation. Most people could probably hear themselves think and Violet is just casually humming 'Adelweis' to her ECO. Seeing a craft ahead clip a tree, she lifts to avoid it and continue moving. No, Zoot, you didn't see that.

The cockpit of Vogue's Predator gets real quiet as the talking dies off. The sound of EVERYTHING in and on the airframe shuddering, rattling, vibrating more than makes up for it as the noise has gotten louder and louder. Something /not/ secured in the back falls over with a loud clank and Blackwell calls out, "I got it! Nothing to worry about, Sir!" Idris licks his lips, trees SUDDENLY looming up and barely seen - he just barely lifts the Pred's nose in time to miss the tree tops. Snow spatters the windshield. Captain Bloodfeather's breathing is up and at times he grits his teeth. He mutters to himself, "May be … some of the hardest flying to get /to/ a strike I've ever had to do." There's too much noise in the aircraft for Blackwell to hear him.

Elena snarls inside of her helmet when she sees Timber clip the tree. And snow. Of course it's snow. "Happy Saturnalia," she murmurs to Hiker, voice low and steady.

"It's frakking snowing?" Casey is pretty much along for the ride right now, but when there's snow, she's got to complain. "Thanks and frak you…sir." The addition is more of an admission that maybe she shouldn't have said that to…the DCAG who has gobs of experience and rank over her. She clears her throat.

The DCAG gives a low chuckle in response. "Frak you, too, kid. Tell me if you see a drive-through. I could use a burger."

Donovan rolls in and out of the turns as they move through the river valley. Blues in the back mutters. "Frakin' hell Sparky…" as he holds onto the 'Oh Frak' handles in front of his seat. Donovan rolls left to avoid a nearly hidden rise and he spares a quick glance back at Blues. "I know, I know.. but this fraking thing handles like a pregnant… frak!" he rolls right to avoid another obstacle. Blues chimes in. "I get it.. shut up and fly." Donovan grins. "Bitch bitch bitch… everyone's a critic." he focuses on flying again… really, really focuses.

Covering 76 miles is going to take time, but the first 50 of those miles is flying like this. The further east they get, the heavier the snow becomes until its beginning to cause problems with seeing. At any given time, the sheer amount of snow passing by their canopy is probably blocking about 15-20 percent of their view. Hearts are probably starting to pound a little more. If they aren't, then they definitely will be when they begin to notice that the valley floor keeps climbing and its beginning to get close to the cloud level. The Predators are beginning to get sandwiched and if they have to abort out of the canyon, they're in deep trouble. Luckily there is still a few thousand feet of clearance. Coming up through a second turn south, though, this is the last major change in direction. However there is the pant-shitting moment when they realize that the sims weren't accurate. The valley floor doesn't so much rise as it does CLIMB right in front of them into a ridgeline. There's only one hundred feet of clearance between the top of the ridge and the cloud deck. If they get into the clouds, diving back down out of them will likely get them killed. But the other side of the ridge, the terrain is supposed to dive back down thousands of feet through a slot valley into a long river. Its supposed to. Or are the sims wrong about that, too? If they are, everyone may pancake across the ridge in one neat trainwreck.

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

<FS3> Melissa rolls Stealth+3: Success.

<FS3> Ben rolls Piloting-3: Failure.

<FS3> Ben rolls Stealth+3: Good Success.

<FS3> Diaz rolls Piloting-3: Success.

<FS3> Diaz rolls Stealth+3: Failure.

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

<FS3> Donovan rolls Stealth+3: Great Success.

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

<FS3> Idris rolls Stealth+3: Good Success.

<FS3> Elena rolls Piloting-3: Success.

<FS3> Elena rolls Stealth+3: Great Success.

Ben flies on insterments. The snow quickly melts against the window, but he can't see anything out of it. He flew the sims fourty times, and suddenly there is something different on the screen. He looks up, the ground is rising. He starts to react as the bottem scraps the surface. The ship bounces and rises quickly up. Ben fights to keep control. Edit keeps his composure, "There goes the the whole rack Timber. Left side is gone. We have three bombs left." The ECO's insterments also flash an new warning. "Temp is rising on the starboard engine. It's an oil issue Sir." Ben fights the stick to keep in line. "Spit on it a few time Ed. Keep us up in the air." Edit looks at the pilot and sighs, "You just keep it strait." Ben feels the burn as he pulls the heavy craft back in line.

Oh boy. Idris is flying good and tight, keeping low and has /some/ visibility as well as his instruments. Thank the Gods he can see in this because altitude readings keep doing wonky, jagged rises and steep falls that he can't even see below him. And then the mountain seems to LOOM up right before them, "Shit!" Blackwell seriously doesn't want to hear Captain Bloodfeather say that! Vogue bares his teeth and pulls the nose up, and up, and doesn't back down on the speed, damn them all! They can both feel their butts pushing down /hard/ into their seats with the G's as the Predator rises and just clears the ridge… and then that stomach flopping feeling of the bottom falling out as Idris drops them abruptly lower, down, down through snow and layers of mist that clings to the mountains. His heart rate is up, breathing a little fast and hoping all their pilots make it through the teeth of these mountains.

Blackwell chirps up in the back, "Is there a Rest stop coming up? I think I pissed myself, Sir." Idris scowls, "No." Thankfully their flight suits can handle it.

Violet pushes through the turn, once more tilting her head through it, still humming along the song until she's staring at terrain that rises almost like a wall. "Whoa, shit!" she blurts and the ECO doesn't shriek, but there's a distinct squeak in the intercom. Melissa grunts through the G's and rolls the Predator onto its back as they cross the ridgeline. -That- gets a "Violet- VIOLET- VIOLEEEEETTTTTTT" being nervously cringed. The ridge passes close enough for the ECO to count the number of large snow-covered boulders on it. Melissa pulls back on the stick and dives down into the slot canyon and rolls out wings level, going back to humming.

Mike takes a turn at inventing swear words, a time honored skill that all ECO's possess, as their Predator practically claws at the air as they skim the cold cold COLD mountain air a skinny hundred or so feet of clearance between the top of the ridge and the bottom edge of the cloud cover. Sweating it, and letting Mike handle the swearing, Diaz over corrects just a little - not a lot - but it's enough. Just enough to have Mike go suddenly silent. After 16 + hours, Diaz knows that a Silent Mike isn't a good thing. "What?" the viper pilot in a low voice as she continues to fight the controls for.. well.. control. "We came up to high. We might've pinged off of the SAM radar in the distance. No way to know," until or unless they're suddenly painted bright and shiney and being shot at. Now it's Diaz's turn to echo some of those inventive swear words that Mike's been working on as she sees Timber having a worse time of it than she is, at the moment, and the entirely to close call that Timber & Ed make has her making another of those micro-adjustments to ensure that she doesn't mirror his landscaping (mountainscaping?) manouevers.

Donovan rolls in tight and then moves back into flight position, more obstacle avoidance. When the ground climbs steeply in front of them, Donovan yells, "Frak" he pulls in hard on the controls. "Hang on Blues!" he picks up some G's and the steep climb but the Predator and the crew as well, endure. Up and over and down to terrain level again. Blues sighs and shakes his head when they level out. "Uh… Sparky… brother… can we -not- do that again." he asks. Donovan looks over his shoulder for half a second. "You'd rather fly into the ground?" he asks. Blues shakes his head. "On second thought… you just keep doing… you know, whatever the frak it is that you are doing up there." he mutters.

The rest of the ingress is supposed to be pretty straight forward. The simulators were NOT wrong about the slot canyon diving right towards the lake surface. The snow isn't getting any lighter, but it isn't getting any thicker. When they get to the water, the moving maps direct them to turn eastbound and follow the edge of the lake. From here on out, its pedal to the metal. With no intelligence about what might be in the area, they're exposed. Its 52 miles to the edge of the prison walls. Time to turn tylium into exhaust and wake up the birds in their nests.

Moving that low is all about finesse, especially at that speed. Things are looking pretty good when ECO's and pilot's threat warning receivers all ping at the same moment. Four minutes to bomb run. There are two fighter dradis' looking for them, sweeping right up the lake valley they are just about to exit. If the flight hasn't been detected out, its only a matter of seconds.

"Must go faster," Diaz remarks in a low voice as she exhales a slow breath and seems to settle in place just a little bit. "Must go faster," Mike agrees and for a moment there's a shared grin between pilot and ECO. "Burn the fuel, get some speeding tickets, and make a crater - on purpose - at the end," Diaz reminds as she high-5's Mike while pouring more speed on and accelerates - markedly - even as the threat warnings ping and all manner of new / familiar noises are going to be sounding off any moment now.

Ben brings the ship into the turn, keeping it in line when the pings spark off. "Frak. Ed, jam us. Maybe they wont spot us through the interferance. Enough to get us to our target." Edit stats pushing the right buttons and both of them hold their breath.

Idris growls deep in his throat when his ECO draws his attention to two fighters searching for them over the water - unknowing that Diaz's high hop had likely pinged them to the in bound Predator strike. He has throttled up as fast as the brick with wings will fly, keeping low. Visibility isn't good but instruments are much less crazy now the terrain is smoother at the lower elevation. Bloodfeather oddly enough slows his heart rate and starts to relax. Getting through those mountains was what he wasn't used to flying, but getting shot at? That he is a lot more used to. "Keep an eye on them for me, Blackwell. Prison up ahead. Watch for new contacts."

Donovan levels out after that last rise and he glances back at Blues. "Ok brother, here we go." He says, "Last leg till game time… we just…" the alarms ping and he sinks just slightly in the seat. "Frak." he mutters. "Eyes up, bogeys out there." he says. So much for easy. He starts looking himself, scanning for enemy ships but keeping a majority of his focus on flying… and you know, not crashing.

Melissa follows everyone down the canyon and hangs the left turn and moves up the lake. If Casey looks back to check on her positioning, she'll see Violent's Predator welded in place. In the faceplate, her jostling face just smiles in something disturbingly serene with a hint of aggression. The turbulence doesn't seem to bother her very much. And seeing the five Predators in front of her stroke their afterburners, she shoves her own throttles up and follows the five green, glowing blobs. "I love this frakking job," she muses out loud. Her ECO is starting to pay more attention to the console, but replies, "Violet, I'm never flying with you again. Enemy search dradis. They're have us any second if they don't already." Melissa flicks her eyes to the clouds overhead, looking through the snow, then nodding. "What? You wanna live forever, Zoot? Shame."

The two fighters overhead see them because suddenly there are tracking and fire control dradis' lighting people up. Its difficult to tell who due to how close the wingmen are in proximity, but its about to get real sporting. With nothing to shoot at fighters with, the only thing the Predators can do about the fighters is run right through them and keep going as fast as possible.

<COMBAT> Diazeco suppresses Hater2 with Jamming Pod. <successful>

<COMBAT> Diazeco suppresses Hater1 with Jamming Pod. <successful>

<COMBAT> Hater2 attacks Elena with RAIDER KEW but MISSES!

<COMBAT> Hater1 attacks Donovan with RAIDER KEW but MISSES!

<COMBAT> Beneco suppresses Hater1 with Jamming Pod. <unsuccessful>

<COMBAT> Beneco suppresses Hater2 with Jamming Pod. <successful>

The two enemy fighters dive in out of the clouds and are difficult to see in the snow, but its a safe bet that everyone on the planet is going to shortly know that there are Colonials incoming. There's no mistaking that fact when the enemy fighters dive in and begin spraying tracers. But the Predators are moving just too damned fast and the Haters' dives are getting too steep for such a low altitude. They pop speed brakes and begin to turn, trying to turn and come back around to engage. But the Predators are already well past Mach One in the heavy turbulence and the enemy fighters have a VERY slim chance of catching up. …And then everything is relatively quiet for about half a minute. The enemy fighters still have a lock but apparently no missiles. Nothing to worry about there.

And then all hell breaks loose.

Suddenly the threat warning receivers go apeshit. The number of SAMs and radar-guided guns out there starts climbing rapidly. Five. Ten. Twenty. Forty. Sixty. Crossing the final lake, they are eight miles from the edge of the city and the number of threats keeps climbing. Then there's four more fighter dradis' detected to the north, probably leaving 'Bullwhip.' The need for radio silence is gone. Everyone is waking up on the ground and then the snow starts doing something funny. It looks green. And red. Wait, that's not.. And that isn't lightning.

Even at this range they can see the 'hoses' of anti-aircraft tracers flying into the sky and flak already busting over the city. The sheer number of guns might pucker the seat of their pants because it rapidly begins to look like a pure wall of glowing fire streams.

Ben kicked in afterburners. Insterments show only nine more miles. It's a race. He keeps the stick strait, dispite his right engine sputtering. Then Edit pips up, "Their on to us Timber. Godsdamnit, the whole city is lite up. What do we do?" Ben remains silent. No ones in his ear, silence hasn't been broken. He's going in. Three bombs, one missle, a thirmal charge for the ship. No ones coming back from this. Lining up for target one. He did this in the sims the other day. Shot down, but blow all hells out of the target. He says nothing, just speeding up.

Keeping the Predator steady while Mike does the work that is the ECO magic of the jamming pod, Diaz quells the instinct to edge slightly forward ahead of Idris & Blackwell, as though being a few inches ahead will make a real difference. She tips a look to the side, keeping an eye on Ben & Ed then the rest of the formation while she listens intently to the various bells and whistles that sound within the cockpit as Mike does his best to confuse the hell out of the DRADIS and targeting systems. And then.. "Wow," Diaz says in a low voice as the sky - literally - lights up like the worst possible sort of party that they were not exactly invited to but apparently a surprise was arranged anyway. Diaz divides her attention between scanning the DRADIS and eyeballing the view, then back around again. 'Wow' just about covers it, oh yeah and: "Frak" as she starts plotting evasive maneuvers and trying to pick the hottest targets to keep trying to Jam.

Melissa flinches a little as the tracers flit past, trying to score hits on Elena. In the backseat her ECO is working on trying to break out targets. "Master Arm On," Violet tells her, flicking the rocker switch. "Missiles are hot. Eeny Meeny Miney Mo," Zoot offers. Melissa cranes around her seat to check on the enemy fighters, though, and then looks back forward. When she does, she's staring at the glowing tracers arcing through the sky. "Zoot. Do not look outside the canopy." The ECO isn't, "Why?" Violent chuckles humorlessly, "Because this is not your sort of fun."

Crone can't see the bogeys on Hiker's console, but she can hear the warnings. "I've got you, Hiker. Just do your thing."

Donovan tightens the grip he has on the controls and he flips the switches arming their weapons and powering up the racks and the pushes the throttles forward, picking up more speed. The sudden tracers and flak are a huge concern but he spares a second to look back towards Blues. "Been an honor Blues." he says to the ECO and he squares his shoulders and looks back out the shimmering hellscape before them. "And this… is why we get paid the big money." he mutters. "Gods be with you all." he says, looking out across the flight of Predators once. "Blues, call out ranging for me… lemme know how close we are getting." he calls back to his ECO. "Remember, look away if you launch a missile… the exhaust might blackout your night vision." he warns, falling silent to continue flying the gauntlet.

Here they come! Down they swoop but the two enemy fighters don't seem to do any harm and quickly it becomes apparent that they can't keep up. Captain Bloodfeather keeps flying. From behind him, Blackwell speaks up, "That was too easy. The alarm will be sounded. Someone among us flew too high. This is going to get ugly." Sure enough, it's way too quiet and then things really start lighting up like Saturnalia! Blackwell starts calling out DRADIS contacts but they are flocking faster than she can keep up! Idris blocks her out and focuses on flying at full throttle despite the snow. Up until everything really goes hot up ahead. "Sidi Al'dieb, help us." A glance to the side shows Diaz's Predator still with him. Talk about feeling everything shrivel and tuck up on ice. Vogue speaks over his internal coms, "Blackwell, arm missiles. Starting our attack run." Hey! Free fireworks show! Blackwell acknowledges, "Missiles armed, aye sir."

"I'm not going to be able to jam those puppies, so you better do some real fancy flying here or kill us real fast," Casey warns back to Crone, reminding the DCAG of something she already knows…they didn't take a jamming pod. "I'll just…shoot them all down first!" Laughable. Not enough ammo. It's clear it was meant as 'joyful' sarcasm. "Armed and ready for action," she says as she clackety clacks on her keyboard.

[Into the Wireless] Idris says, "Flight, Vogue. They've set out the welcome mat. Be careful and good luck. Weapons hot - I am starting my attack run, over."

<COMBAT> EXPLOSION! Right Next To Forge-1945r - Critical wound to Body (Reduced by Armor).

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-1945r - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-1945r - ARMOR on Weapon stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-1945r - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-1945r - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-1945r - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-1945r - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!

<COMBAT> EXPLOSION! Very Far From Predator-8957x - Light wound to Body (Reduced by Armor).

<COMBAT> CREW HIT! Melissaeco - Moderate wound to Left Arm.

<COMBAT> EXPLOSION! Pretty Close To Forge-6636i - Serious wound to Body (Reduced by Armor).

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-6636i - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-6636i - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!

<COMBAT> Gun4 attacks Diaz with RAIDER KEW but MISSES!

<COMBAT> Gun3 attacks Donovan with RAIDER KEW and MISSES!

<COMBAT> EXPLOSION! Pretty Close To Forge-7141n - Moderate wound to Body (Reduced by Armor).

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-7141n - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-7141n - ARMOR on Controls stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-7141n - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!

<COMBAT> EXPLOSION! Far From Predator-8990a - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-8990a - ARMOR on Controls stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-8990a - ARMOR on Right Wing stops the attack!

<COMBAT> EXPLOSION! Very Far From Predator-1192r - Light wound to Body (Reduced by Armor).

<COMBAT> EXPLOSION! Close To Predator-8957x - Light wound to Body (Reduced by Armor).

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-8957x - ARMOR on Tail stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-8957x - ARMOR on Tail stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-8957x - ARMOR on Tail stops the attack!

<COMBAT> EXPLOSION! Right Next To Forge-3556c - Moderate wound to Body (Reduced by Armor).

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-3556c - ARMOR on Weapon stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-3556c - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-3556c - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-3556c - ARMOR on Controls stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-3556c - ARMOR on Controls stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-3556c - ARMOR on Weapon stops the attack!

<COMBAT> Gun1 attacks Ben with RAIDER KEW and MISSES!

<COMBAT> Beneco suppresses Sam3 with Jamming Pod. <unsuccessful>

<COMBAT> Beneco suppresses Sam4 with Jamming Pod. <successful>

<COMBAT> Beneco suppresses Sam5 with Jamming Pod. <successful>

<COMBAT> EXPLOSION! Pretty Close To Predator-4593x - Moderate wound to Body (Reduced by Armor).

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-4593x - ARMOR on Left Wing stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-4593x - Moderate wound to Weapon.

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-4593x - ARMOR on Right Wing stops the attack!

<COMBAT> Gun5 attacks Elena with RAIDER KEW but MISSES!

<COMBAT> Gun2 attacks Donovan with RAIDER KEW but MISSES!

<COMBAT> Diazeco suppresses Sam1 with Jamming Pod. <successful>

<COMBAT> Diazeco suppresses Sam2 with Jamming Pod. <unsuccessful>

<COMBAT> Diazeco suppresses Sam3 with Jamming Pod. <successful>

<COMBAT> Forge-6636i has been KO'd!

<COMBAT> Sam1 has been KO'd!

<COMBAT> Forge-1945r has been KO'd!

<COMBAT> Sam3 has been KO'd!

"Two missiles!" Zoot calls up to Violet. Melissa turns her head and watches them both. "Dump the buckets!" Melissa calls back, the ECO then dumping chaff into the air behind them. She doesn't move from the position on Elena's wing, though. The JG is determined that she is going to survive this, even if it kills her, and she's going to make sure she does this right. The former Captain has things to make up for and the Go-Pro is going to capture the whole strike, assuming the turbulence hasn't already shaken the damned camera apart. And the missiles streak in and explode, though. A couple of loud bangs accompany the explosion and in the back Zoot cries out in pain, "I'm hit!! Frak, Violet, I'm bleeding!" Melissa can't do anything about it except keep flying. "Get your last missile off before you pass out. Once you've got it away, then tend to it, Zoot." Calm, steady.

[Into the Wireless] Melissa says, "Package, Violet. I'm hit, ECO is wounded. On target, over."

Ben's ship bucks and bounces, then gets slammed and hit. Ben keeps it on course, his feels the hits jars from his butt to the back of his neck. He forces the ship steady on course. Focus focus, make it to the target. "Ed, your one missle is needed on the target when we get there. Three bombs and one missle, it's all we have. Copy?" Edit is hanging on and doesn't reply. His thoughts go to that happy place he will go to when he dies. Ben keeps it as steady as he can.

While Mike works the controls to jam as many of the incoming targeting locks as possible, Diaz's job is to keep the predator in the air AND keep them in formation with the rest of the squadron. Mindful of how hard Mike is working, Diaz does her best to keep the Predator on a course that both evades the crap flying in their direction AND doesn't edge them out of the sweet spot in formation. She is constantly checking the display then eyeing the view through the canopy then back around again; if she didn't love flying this would -absolutely- be just cause to get motion sick. "We have one missile," Mike reminds Diaz as they try to thread their way forward. "Yeah, I know. Not wasting it. We may need it near the end of the run."

Donovan rolls out when there is a vapor trail from the missile that is tracking them. "Hang onto your saxophone Blues!" He rolls hard turning -into- the missile track. He makes the missile turns sharp to track them and then he rolls back to his previous course… the maneuver causes the missile to explode early, too far from their Predator to do any real damage. "We got peppered… you okay Blues?" he asks. The ECO nods. "Yeah… I'm good, nice fracking job Sparky." he says and then lines up to take another shot at a tower.

"I have a lock! Fox One, away!" Blackwell calls out. Vogue is busy keeping up his break neck speed at full throttle as they fly into the hell that awaits them! The Captain is calm at this point, not edgy like flying through the mountains had been making him sweat. This? This is what he lives for, challenging himself, his craft, his very life against the enemy… except he's in a Predator, not a Viper. Shit. Behind him Blackwell calls out, "A hit! But, didn't take the SAM out." She starts at once to find a new target as the Predator races through the night over this alien city. There is too much flying up incoming and Idris is forced to slow his speed. Then he hears missile tone and Blackwell sings out, "Two SAMs trying to lock on us, Sir!" Idris scowls, "This damn thing is no Viper! I can't exactly evade."

Crone was born to fly missions like this. The Predator is much more agile than a Raptor, and the DCAG can't help but feel a thrill as she puts her through her paces. "Sitrep?" she calls out to Hiker over the intercom, then sings out over the coms.

[Into the Wireless] Elena says, "Flight, Crone. Sitrep."

There's only a few things that matter when you're maneuvering at these speeds. "Nothing landed…on us and my payload. Lining up next shot. Same target." Casey calls it out specifically, as if Elena could make heads or tails of whatever Casey is singling out of the mess of defenses.

[Into the Wireless] Diaz says, "Flight, Diaz. Actively attempting to jam the SAMs. Working in tandem with Timber, over."

[Into the Wireless] Donovan says, "Flight, Sparky and Blues are good, superficial hull damage."

[Into the Wireless] Ben says, "Flight, Timber. Ships getting hit, still flyable. I've only got three bombs and one missle, that and my thermal for the ship."

[Into the Wireless] Idris says, "Crone, Vogue. Copacetic, Over."

<COMBAT> EXPLOSION! Pretty Close To Predator-7562s - Critical wound to Body (Reduced by Armor).

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-7562s - ARMOR on Right Wing stops the attack!

<COMBAT> CREW HIT! Idriseco - Serious wound to Left Arm.

<COMBAT> EXPLOSION! Far From Forge-5248u - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-5248u - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!

<COMBAT> Beneco suppresses Sam2 with Jamming Pod. <successful>

<COMBAT> Beneco suppresses Sam4 with Jamming Pod. <successful>

<COMBAT> Beneco suppresses Sam5 with Jamming Pod. <unsuccessful>

<COMBAT> Gun4 attacks Elena with RAIDER KEW and MISSES!

<COMBAT> Gun3 attacks Elena with RAIDER KEW but MISSES!

<COMBAT> Gun2 attacks Elena with RAIDER KEW and MISSES!

<COMBAT> Gun1 attacks Ben with RAIDER KEW - Moderate wound to Cockpit.

<COMBAT> CREW HIT! Ben - Moderate wound to Chest.

<COMBAT> EXPLOSION! Right Next To Forge-7141n - Serious wound to Body (Reduced by Armor).

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-7141n - ARMOR on Controls stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-7141n - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-7141n - ARMOR on Controls stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-7141n - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-7141n - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!

<COMBAT> EXPLOSION! Right Next To Predator-4593x - Critical wound to Body.

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-4593x - ARMOR on Controls stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-4593x - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-4593x - ARMOR on Left Wing stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-4593x - ARMOR on Left Wing stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-4593x - ARMOR on Nose stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-4593x - ARMOR on Tail stops the attack!

<COMBAT> EXPLOSION! Close To Predator-7562s - Serious wound to Body (Reduced by Armor).

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-7562s - Moderate wound to Weapon.

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-7562s - ARMOR on Engine stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-7562s - ARMOR on Tail stops the attack!

<COMBAT> EXPLOSION! Very Far From Predator-8957x - Light wound to Body (Reduced by Armor).

<COMBAT> EXPLOSION! Very Far From Predator-1192r - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!

<COMBAT> EXPLOSION! Right Next To Forge-5248u - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-5248u - ARMOR on Weapon stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-5248u - ARMOR on Controls stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-5248u - ARMOR on Controls stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-5248u - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-5248u - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-5248u - ARMOR on Weapon stops the attack!

<COMBAT> Gun5 attacks Melissa with RAIDER KEW and MISSES!

<COMBAT> Diazeco suppresses Sam7 with Jamming Pod. <successful>

<COMBAT> Diazeco suppresses Sam6 with Jamming Pod. <successful>

<COMBAT> Diazeco suppresses Sam5 with Jamming Pod. <successful>

<COMBAT> Predator-4593x has been KO'd!

<COMBAT> Ben has been KO'd!

<COMBAT> Beneco has been KO'd!

<COMBAT> Predator-7562s has been KO'd!

<COMBAT> Idris has been KO'd!

<COMBAT> Idriseco has been KO'd!

<COMBAT> Forge-7141n has been KO'd!

<COMBAT> Sam2 has been KO'd!

<COMBAT> Idris spends a luck point to keep fighting!

<COMBAT> Ben spends a luck point to keep fighting!

The amount of incoming fire is just utterly brutal. The SAM's don't stop lighting off and the AAA gunfire is intensely bad. Flying up the 'lower' river into the city center, it winds and snakes beneath them. Even through the snow they can see the AAA tracers reflecting off the water. At their altitude, they can even look out and see guns firing almost sideways off the higher buildings. They even pass right over one of the gun trucks with a pair of quad-mounted fifty-cal guns on the trailers. But up ahead the targets start getting broken out on ground radar. They can see them and the line-up they will need to take.

Melissa watches their last missile streak off and explode against a building. Her ECO is cheering it on until she see's it. There were people watching from the windows where the missile impacted and it just blew off the top two floors of a four story building. "NOOOOO!" the ECO cries in despair. Violet watches it and shakes her head, looking back towards the target ahead. She begins to break formation in order to line up and she nudges the ship right, then jinking left slightly to re-align. She punches up a button and selects her entire bomb load. The HUD swaps over to CCIP and the JG tilts her head slightly forward.

Ben jerks the stick to the side as the blast takes him off course. Edit falls out of his chair and slides back, hitting his helmet on the back. The ship starts to go down. Ben nashes his teeth and pulls back on the stick as hard as he can. Before the ship hits a building, it levels out and barely rises above it. Ben's arms are killing him. All the insterments are sparking overloads. Then through the wind and snow, a familar sight is barely etched before him. The one thing the Sim got right. He knows where he is, he knows what is ahead. He pulls the ship up. He aims. Full throttle. Edit wakes and climbs to his seat. "We're done for Timber." Ed says in pain. Timber, the new call sign. He knows what he needs to do. "Ed, get your missle ready to fire. We got one try at this." Ed fumbles with what controld he can. Ben arms his bombs. One target. One try. He goes for it.

Idris can hear the missile locks and he is doing his damnest to try and stay on path for his upcoming target, which he can now see up ahead! But he's got to live long enough to reach it, by Gods. There isn't much they can do to ditch the incoming SAM's but Blackwell dumps chaffe, "Chaffe away!" Barely two seconds pass before a horrendous EXPLOSION slams into the Predator and rips open the side and flooring behind Vogue! Blackwell is hit - it all happens so fast, Bloodfeather throwing up an arm out of reflex to protect his head and throat. He's been hit before, instinct. The next thing he knows, he's loosing altitude fast and not level, alarms shrilling! Betty's a Bitch'n and the Captain has a fight on his hands to try and pull the airframe back up, try to keep her in the air. "Blackwell!" There is no response from the back, only the /howling/ of bitter cold wind whipping through the compartment, snow flying around inside his cockpick. "Son of a bitch!" Nothing he can do to help her but he tries to twist in his seat to get a look, then Idris has to focus on his upcoming target. He arms his bombs and opens up the racks, watching his instruments carefully. His Predator shudders, his gloved hands having to fight the stick as hard as when he was up high in those blasted mountains.

[Into the Wireless] Idris says, "Flight, Vogue! I'm hit, lost my ECO! Breached, but on target. Over!"

Donovan looks away as their last missile launches out towards the AA tower… it erupts in a fireball. "Nice shot Blues." he calls back to the ECO. "You done your part… now it's my turn." he says and then turns towards the nav-point that marks Target 2. "Hold on… starting the run… and then we are getting the frak outta here." he says to Blues.

In the back of her mind, Crone is reminded of a video game that her kids used to play, where they'd zip around cityscapes in Vipers and Predators. If there still are video game level designers out there, they'd crap their pants at what Elena's capturing with her helmet cam. She zips at literal breakneck speeds, slipping between buildings and dodging power lines.

[Into the Wireless] Donovan says, "Flight, Sparky… starting my run on Target 2."

[Into the Wireless] Elena says, "Vogue, Crone. If you can, make your way to the egress. I'm sure as hell not losing both of you tonight. Over."

Despite their best efforts, some of the incoming fire slips past the jamming attempts and both Diaz and Mike have gone quiet and rather grim if not even more determined to try to take the edge off of the incoming target locks as possible. The barrage is nothing short of humbling not that Diaz is particularly good at humble while on the job. "Ok, time on target?" she asks in a low voice as Mike is switching up the targets with the jamming pod. Diaz flexes her gloved hands, just the once, then steadies herself and her hands as they take aim at their target, waiting for just the right moment to let the bombs drop once they near their assigned target.

[Into the Wireless] Ben says, "I'm going down fighting. Ship feldercarbed. I'm flying it to my target."

[Into the Wireless] Elena says, "Timber, Crone. No bullshit heroics."

<COMBAT> EXPLOSION! Very Far From Predator-8957x - Light wound to Body (Reduced by Armor).

<COMBAT> EXPLOSION! Right Next To Forge-4537y - Critical wound to Body.

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-4537y - ARMOR on Weapon stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-4537y - ARMOR on Weapon stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-4537y - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-4537y - ARMOR on Controls stops the attack!

<COMBAT> EXPLOSION! Right Next To Forge-6129q - Critical wound to Body.

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-6129q - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-6129q - ARMOR on Controls stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-6129q - ARMOR on Weapon stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-6129q - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-6129q - ARMOR on Controls stops the attack!

<COMBAT> EXPLOSION! Right Next To Forge-2345g - Critical wound to Body.

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-2345g - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-2345g - ARMOR on Controls stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-2345g - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-2345g - NEAR MISS!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-2345g - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!

[Into the Wireless] Diaz says, "Flight, Diaz. Starting bombing run. Will keep attempting to take the edge off of those incoming SAM rounds as much as we can. Over."

<COMBAT> EXPLOSION! Right Next To Forge-9625m - Critical wound to Body.

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-9625m - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-9625m - NEAR MISS!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-9625m - NEAR MISS!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-9625m - ARMOR on Weapon stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-9625m - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!

<COMBAT> EXPLOSION! Far From Predator-8957x - Moderate wound to Body (Reduced by Armor).

<COMBAT> Gun3 attacks Diaz with RAIDER KEW - Light wound to Body (Reduced by Armor).

<COMBAT> Gun2 attacks Ben with RAIDER KEW - Light wound to Body (Reduced by Armor).

<COMBAT> EXPLOSION! Right Next To Forge-4537y - Critical wound to Body.

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-4537y - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-4537y - ARMOR on Weapon stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-4537y - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-4537y - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-4537y - ARMOR on Weapon stops the attack!

<COMBAT> EXPLOSION! Very Far From Predator-8990a - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!

<COMBAT> EXPLOSION! Very Far From Predator-7562s - Light wound to Body (Reduced by Armor).

<COMBAT> EXPLOSION! Right Next To Forge-2074u - Moderate wound to Body (Reduced by Armor).

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-2074u - NEAR MISS!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-2074u - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-2074u - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-2074u - ARMOR on Weapon stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-2074u - ARMOR on Controls stops the attack!

<COMBAT> Gun4 attacks Idris with RAIDER KEW but MISSES!

<COMBAT> Gun1 attacks Diaz with RAIDER KEW - Light wound to Cockpit.

<COMBAT> EXPLOSION! Right Next To Forge-7221i - Critical wound to Body.

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-7221i - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-7221i - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-7221i - ARMOR on Weapon stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-7221i - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-7221i - ARMOR on Controls stops the attack!

<COMBAT> EXPLOSION! Close To Predator-5974e - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-5974e - Serious wound to Cockpit.

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-5974e - ARMOR on Right Wing stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-5974e - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!

<COMBAT> Gun5 attacks Diaz with RAIDER KEW and MISSES!

<COMBAT> Diazeco suppresses Sam6 with Jamming Pod. <unsuccessful>

<COMBAT> Diazeco suppresses Sam5 with Jamming Pod. <successful>

<COMBAT> Diazeco suppresses Sam8 with Jamming Pod. <successful>

<COMBAT> EXPLOSION! Pretty Close To Forge-7221i - Serious wound to Body (Reduced by Armor).

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-7221i - ARMOR on Weapon stops the attack!

<COMBAT> Predator-7562s has been KO'd!

<COMBAT> Idris has been KO'd!

<COMBAT> Forge-7221i has been KO'd!

<COMBAT> Target1 has been KO'd!

<COMBAT> Forge-6129q has been KO'd!

<COMBAT> Target3 has been KO'd!

<COMBAT> Idris spends a luck point to keep fighting!

[Into the Wireless] Elena says, "Or no one can listen to my frakking orders. Head count, flight."

[Into the Wireless] Donovan says, "Flight, Sparky… sorry, had my hands full for a second. Sparky and Blues are good."

The Predators all streak in across their targets while people below watch. The Haters are all furiously gunning for everyone they can find. But the Predators drop without slowing and the six bombs beneath their wings drop away. The long, thin bombs deploy drogue chutes and go vertical just over their targets. When the bomb senses that the structure is just ten feet under the nose, a massive rocket engine fires and burrows the missile down into the hardened facilities. All six into a single building, dropped in a line. The bombs penetrate and then there's nothing to see except the Haters still firing like mad. Ten seconds pass.. Then five of the six targets explode in huge white fireballs. They explode with nearly the sme brightness of a nuke, but the blast isn't nearly as big. Fireballs blaze the sky and even burn off some of the cloudcover directly overhead. The shockwaves blast across the city, blowing out windows everywhere and interrupting some fire control systems - but clearly not all of them.

[Into the Wireless] Diaz says, "Flight, Diaz. We're still flying. Damage to air frame and cockpit. It's a good thing I'm not trying to land this bird back on the deck. Will continue to keep up jamming efforts. Over."

Ben is very close to the target when he starts to pass over it. Enemy fire all around him. Edit fires his one missile, it launches out in front of them to strike the side of the building. Ben let's go the bombs. Just like in the sims, only with Donovans additional equation added to the mix, the bombs are true to the target. The ship passes over the building when the window lights up bright. The force of the explosion tosses the Predator forward, increasing it's speed and it's altitude. Both people inside lurch forward. Ben forces the stick and guns it full throttle again. Edit looks at the one screen he has left. "It's gone. We took it out." Ben turns the ship for the engress and gets on his com.

[Into the Wireless] Ben says, "Fight, Timber. Target destroied. Bugging out."

Melissa, in Tail End Charlie, drops on the target and counts down before turning her head. The camera on her helmet peers around the seat. Despite the speed they are egressing the area, there are five high order detonations and captured on the camera. A satisfied sound leaves her and she looks for Elena to form up on.

"What do you mean I missed? How the frak -" Diaz is saying in a terse aside to Mike as their Predator sweeps past the target. "You hit the same target as Vogue," comes the deadpan reply. "What?" Diaz's tone of voice is frankly incredulous and appalled. She even angles the Predator in a slight side roll to look down over the terrain. "Frak. Frak. I am never - ever - going to live that down. Frak."

[Into the Wireless] Melissa says, "Crone, Violet. Scratch five targets, confirmed, over."

Donovan is flying his ass off to get clear… Blues calls out with a loud scream. "Oh yeah!" he does a little dance in his seat. "Take that… direct hit Sparky… yeah!" he then settles a little and grips his 'Oh Frak' handles. Now they just need to get outta the line of fire. "That's awesome Blues… nice work." he calls back and then looks back out towards the horizon and hopes that they can keep the magic going and get out of this in one piece.

[Into the Wireless] Donovan says, "Crone, Sparky… confirm, Target 2 is destroyed… repeat, Target 2 is destroyed."

The white light of the explosions fills Elena's peripheral vision. She exhales slowly. She doesn't drop her guard, but she knows the bulk of the immediate danger has passed. Now time to get to the Rhino and go home. "Nice shooting, Hiker."

[Into the Wireless] Elena says, "Diaz, Crone. You have a new callsign: Broadside. As in the part of a barn you can't hit."

Idris is a little too busy to respond as he drops his bombs just at the moment, or a few seconds after Elena comes staticy over his coms. The Captain is entirely focused on what he's doing and trying not to die. No sooner than he's released his payload than his Preditor takes yet another hit! The shockwave of the missile or whatever it was plows his craft badly out of line and it's all Bloodfeather can do to regain control of his flying brick, spewing smoke out of the aft port side. Something is on fire back there. Not a word from Blackwell and trying to look back, Idris can't even see her. "Blackwell! Fire suppression, NOW!" Wind continues to whip icy and hard through his cockpit, snow and smoke flying and trying to obscure his vision. "Damn it." Both hands on the stick, somehow Vogue is keeping his bird flying - just barely.

[Into the Wireless] Diaz says, "Flight, Diaz," in a tone of voice that conveys absolute chagrin, "sorry sir."

Casey is already trying to line up her next shot, not even calling out if she's hit or miss. The data will tell the story, and if she takes time reporting on that, she's losing valuable time on her next shot. "Oh, thanks." She didn't realize she had hit it.

[Into the Wireless] Idris says, "Crone, Vogue. Splashed target, but my bird is on fire. Get as far out as I can before she's going down, over."

Were it ACTUALLY possible to face palm and not smack her helmet with her gloved hands, Diaz would actually do that RIGHT NOW. Instead.. it's still all about beating the speed traps and getting to the end of this crazy run.

[Into the Wireless] Elena says, "Vogue, Crone. Keeping tabs on you. We're going to get you off this rock, one way or another."

<COMBAT> EXPLOSION! Right Next To Forge-2810k - Critical wound to Body (Reduced by Armor).

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-2810k - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-2810k - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-2810k - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-2810k - ARMOR on Weapon stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-2810k - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-2810k - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!

<COMBAT> Gun1 attacks Elena with RAIDER KEW but MISSES!

<COMBAT> EXPLOSION! Far From Predator-8990a - Light wound to Body (Reduced by Armor).

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-8990a - ARMOR on Left Wing stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-8990a - ARMOR on Right Wing stops the attack!

<COMBAT> EXPLOSION! Very Far From Predator-8990a - Light wound to Body.

<COMBAT> EXPLOSION! Pretty Close To Forge-3556c - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-3556c - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-3556c - ARMOR on Weapon stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-3556c - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-3556c - ARMOR on Weapon stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Forge-3556c - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!

<COMBAT> Gun5 attacks Melissa with RAIDER KEW and MISSES!

<COMBAT> Gun3 attacks Elena with RAIDER KEW and MISSES!

<COMBAT> Gun2 attacks Donovan with RAIDER KEW but MISSES!

<COMBAT> Diazeco suppresses Sam4 with Jamming Pod. <unsuccessful>

<COMBAT> Diazeco suppresses Sam5 with Jamming Pod. <unsuccessful>

<COMBAT> Diazeco suppresses Sam6 with Jamming Pod. <unsuccessful>

<COMBAT> Beneco suppresses Sam5 with Jamming Pod. <unsuccessful>

<COMBAT> Beneco suppresses Sam6 with Jamming Pod. <unsuccessful>

<COMBAT> Beneco suppresses Sam7 with Jamming Pod. <unsuccessful>

<COMBAT> EXPLOSION! Pretty Close To Predator-1192r - Moderate wound to Body (Reduced by Armor).

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-1192r - Moderate wound to Cockpit.

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-1192r - ARMOR on Tail stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-1192r - ARMOR on Right Wing stops the attack!

<COMBAT> EXPLOSION! Close To Predator-5974e - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-5974e - ARMOR on Right Wing stops the attack!

<COMBAT> EXPLOSION! Very Far From Predator-1192r - Light wound to Body (Reduced by Armor).

<COMBAT> Gun4 attacks Donovan with RAIDER KEW - Moderate wound to Weapon.

<COMBAT> Predator-1192r has been KO'd!

<COMBAT> Donovan has been KO'd!

<COMBAT> Donovaneco has been KO'd!

<COMBAT> Forge-2810k has been KO'd!

<COMBAT> Sam6 has been KO'd!

<COMBAT> Donovan spends a luck point to keep fighting!

Melissa welds herself in tight with Elena, doing her best to keep their targeting signature as small as possible. And without the bomb load, the thing has gotten a lot lighter. But the damage combined with the turbulence is hard on the badly knocked-around Predator. "Zoot, I've got a hydraulic warning light. Are we losing fluid?" Nothing in reply. "Zoot!" The ECO in the back finally replies, "Yeah, sorry. Arms bleeding still, sir. I can't stop it. Its getting hard to focus. We're losing fluid.. Two SAMs, Violet." Zoot's fighting to stay with it nad Melissa looks out behind them, trying to spot the incoming. "Zoot!! Dump chaff!!" "..Can't sir. We're out."

"So, genius, we have that missile still," Mike reminds Diaz as he's picking out new targets to try to Jam. "Yeah, Yeah, I know. Just wait, we aren't out of the thick of this yet," Diaz mutters.

Donovan ramps up his speed and turns to the egress vectors. "Hang on Blues." he says as the Predator takes up with the rest of the flight. The guns and missiles that light sky are all focused on them now. Donovan has done a decent job so far, but fate finally notices him… KEW round followed by an explosion and then another buffet and shakes and pelt into the Predator. He is thrown so hard against the straps he feels a rib give way. "Ow…" his vision narrows and only by sheer will it seems to he stay in control of the Predator. "Blues… talk to me." he says. There is no reply. "Hang in there brother… we still got that song to play." he says and then takes a shallow breath and tries to clear his head to fly.

Ben can barely keep the Predator in the air. One engine spits and sputters, most of the insterments are down. The view is mucked up from all the smoke and if it wasn't for helmets, they effixiate. Low over the city, very close to the buildings, the Predator pushes forward. Edit keep up his job trying to jam what he can. Ed says, "We're getting low on fuel, and you keep pushing we'll catch fire Timber." Ben can hear him and only mutters, "Like we have a choise."

There is a relatively tense few moments that Idris Khesu Bloodfeather isn't yet blown out of the sky. The Captain keeps sharply focused on heading for the egress and he might even make it out of this city alive. Maybe. But he's not there yet. He fights the controls and blocks the fire and smoke out of his mind, trying to ignore it. There's no raging heat at his back yet. Dark eyes focused on the night sky ahead, a glance at his instruments and then he makes a course correction. Softly he says, "Oh Miri. If I don't make it back, please forgive me." Gods, hurting her is worse than his dying. No, he can't be doing that to her. Stay focused, frosty, get his ass out. If he can.

<COMBAT> Gun4 attacks Melissa with RAIDER KEW - Moderate wound to Body (Reduced by Armor).

<COMBAT> Gun3 attacks Ben with RAIDER KEW - Moderate wound to Body (Reduced by Armor).

<COMBAT> Beneco suppresses Sam9 with Jamming Pod. <unsuccessful>

<COMBAT> Beneco suppresses Sam8 with Jamming Pod. <successful>

<COMBAT> Beneco suppresses Sam7 with Jamming Pod. <unsuccessful>

<COMBAT> EXPLOSION! Far From Predator-8957x - Moderate wound to Body (Reduced by Armor).

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-8957x - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!

<COMBAT> EXPLOSION! Close To Predator-5974e - Critical wound to Body (Reduced by Armor).

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-5974e - ARMOR on Left Wing stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-5974e - Moderate wound to Cockpit.

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-5974e - Light wound to Cockpit.

<COMBAT> EXPLOSION! Close To Predator-7562s - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-7562s - ARMOR on Nose stops the attack!

<COMBAT> EXPLOSION! Pretty Close To Predator-4593x - Moderate wound to Body (Reduced by Armor).

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-4593x - ARMOR on Nose stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-4593x - ARMOR on Engine stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-4593x - ARMOR on Left Wing stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-4593x - ARMOR on Nose stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-4593x - ARMOR on Left Wing stops the attack!

<COMBAT> EXPLOSION! Right Next To Predator-8957x - Critical wound to Body (Reduced by Armor).

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-8957x - Critical wound to Cockpit.

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-8957x - ARMOR on Right Wing stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-8957x - Critical wound to Cockpit.

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-8957x - ARMOR on Controls stops the attack!

<COMBAT> CREW HIT! Melissaeco - Critical wound to Right Leg.

<COMBAT> CREW HIT! Melissaeco - Serious wound to Chest.

<COMBAT> Gun5 attacks Melissa with RAIDER KEW - Serious wound to Nose (Reduced by Armor).

<COMBAT> Gun2 attacks Ben with RAIDER KEW - Critical wound to Body (Reduced by Armor).

<COMBAT> CREW HIT! Ben - Critical wound to Chest.

<COMBAT> Gun1 attacks Ben with RAIDER KEW - Moderate wound to Weapon.

<COMBAT> Diazeco suppresses Gun1 with Jamming Pod. <unsuccessful>

<COMBAT> Diazeco suppresses Sam7 with Jamming Pod. <unsuccessful>

<COMBAT> Diazeco suppresses Sam8 with Jamming Pod. <unsuccessful>

<COMBAT> Ben has been KO'd!

<COMBAT> Predator-4593x has been KO'd!

<COMBAT> Ben has been KO'd!

<COMBAT> Beneco has been KO'd!

<COMBAT> Melissaeco has been KO'd!

Something clips Vogue's Predator - there's an explosion, but he never heard a missile tone. Idris can barely hear anything anyway with all the side ripped out and the wind howling. His battered air craft is shuddering, moaning, pieces ripping off, smoke trailing out of her side and back. Pure luck at all that he's somehow still in the air at all. A glance at DRADIS to try and see how many of their pilots are still flying, how far they are to GTFO. Up ahead it looks like the Orion's craft ahead of him are starting to reach the edge of the city and may be soon in the clear…

Ben figures if he's close to the building they wont fire one him when the side of the ship explodes as the left engine errupts. That side of the ship emplodes into Edit, blowing back through the other side. The Predator falls, the other engine was already damaged and can't hold the craft up. Nothing Ben can do. His back stings, not knowing his on fire. He tries to pull up, forcing every bit of his strength into it. Faster and farther down, skipping over a building roof. He says something over the com and all the explosions of the insterments mask what it is. *SLAM* goes the Predator into a building, caving in that wall it struck and piling the rubble all around it. Ben feels the pain throughout his body and can barely move. He reaches down to his seats side pocket and pulls the thermal. He twists it. It beeps. He takes his last breath saying *KABOOM!!!* the Predator and the building go up in a bellow of smoke.

[Into the Wireless] Ben says, "I'm … tell Inez I lo… *end broadcast*"

[Into the Wireless] Elena says, "Timber? Timber, come in. GodsDAMMIT!"

Melissa's eyes bug out as she watches how many things are coming at her Predator. "Oh my Gods," she breathes into her mask and then turns back to focus on holding formation with Elena. "Zoot! Hang on! Incom-" The AAA rounds pepper the bottom of the Predator first and then two SAMs hit, one right after the other. The explosive force is deafening and nearly knocks Violet out. The Pred gets flipped onto its side and smoke trails out of the thing, long behind it. Alarms and Bitching Betty are talking about all sorts of issues. When Mels recovers from her brief stupor, she rights the Predator and narrowly avoids some high tension power lines. "Holy shit! Zoot! You alright!" The JG is busy trying to manage the problems that just popped up and doesn't realize she isn't getting an answer. That's when she notices Ben going down. She tracks the wreck as she flies past and looks down at it. Her camera captures the Predator's cockpit and then the building exploding. "Frak me.. Timber. Zoot, did you see that shit?" A pause. "Zoot. You alright back there?" Melissa looks to the mirror on the canopy frame and stares at it for a moment. There's some sights that you wish you could bleach out of your mind forever. This is one of them. She shakes it off and goes back to flying

Donovan is still rolling the dice, trying to stay a step ahead of the guns and missiles. He hasn't quite succeeded in that… but is still trying. His chest is killing him. He hopes not literally. He jabs his finger into the master caution reset again when it goes off the for the tenth time. He casts a glance back over his shoulder towards Blues. He is slumped against his harness. "Hang in there." He keys up the comm and makes a call but for the most part, is putting everything he has, had and might have tomorrow into keeping the damaged Predator in the air just a few minutes longer… they are almost there. Almost. There. Then he hears the roar over the comm as Ben makes his final landing. He closes his eyes for just a moment. "Gods watch over him." he says softly.

"We have got to get out of here, Mike," Diaz is saying in a low voice even as she sees Timber's predator falling suddenly, a huge burst off explosion erupting a few moments later and taking a building out with it. For a few precious seconds there's nothing but the sound of the combat raging around, the scream of the intensely cold air as it whips past the canopy and the silence where Timber's voice over the com would have been. His last words, garbled as they are, are carefully committed to memory as she reluctantly shifts targets one last time. "Come on, Mike, lets get this done."

"Frak. Frak!" Hiker says in Crone's wake. Still her eyes are locked down, calling out the incoming defense positions as they make their way towards egress. Then there's a quiet intensity that settles on her. For all her quietness, it's like she isn't there, her presence sinking beneath the tiny roar of all the alarms.

"He's gone. Stay with me, Hiker. We're going home and I'm going to make you a frakking burger." Elena strains against her straps, wanting to lean forward over the stick, as if that would help her get out of there faster.

<COMBAT> Gun4 attacks Idris with RAIDER KEW but MISSES!

<COMBAT> EXPLOSION! Right Next To Predator-1192r - Critical wound to Body (Reduced by Armor).

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-1192r - Moderate wound to Cockpit.

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-1192r - Serious wound to Weapon.

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-1192r - Critical wound to Weapon.

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-1192r - ARMOR on Tail stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-1192r - NEAR MISS!

<COMBAT> EXPLOSION! Right Next To Predator-8957x - Serious wound to Body (Reduced by Armor).

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-8957x - ARMOR on Engine stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-8957x - NEAR MISS!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-8957x - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-8957x - ARMOR on Nose stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-8957x - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-8957x - ARMOR on Right Wing stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-8957x - Serious wound to Cockpit.

<COMBAT> Gun5 attacks Elena with RAIDER KEW and MISSES!

<COMBAT> Gun2 attacks Elena with RAIDER KEW and MISSES!

<COMBAT> Gun1 attacks Elena with RAIDER KEW but MISSES!

<COMBAT> EXPLOSION! Right Next To Predator-5974e - Critical wound to Body (Reduced by Armor).

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-5974e - ARMOR on Nose stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-5974e - Critical wound to Cockpit.

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-5974e - Critical wound to Weapon.

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-5974e - ARMOR on Left Wing stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-5974e - Critical wound to Weapon.

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-5974e - Critical wound to Cockpit.

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-5974e - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!

<COMBAT> Gun3 attacks Diaz with RAIDER KEW - Light wound to Body (Reduced by Armor).

<COMBAT> EXPLOSION! Right Next To Predator-1192r - Critical wound to Body (Reduced by Armor).

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-1192r - ARMOR on Controls stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-1192r - NEAR MISS!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-1192r - ARMOR on Right Wing stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-1192r - ARMOR on Nose stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-1192r - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-1192r - ARMOR on Tail stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-1192r - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!

<COMBAT> EXPLOSION! Close To Predator-8990a - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!

<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-8990a - NEAR MISS!

<COMBAT> Diazeco suppresses Gun4 with Jamming Pod. <unsuccessful>

<COMBAT> Diazeco suppresses Sam5 with Jamming Pod. <unsuccessful>

<COMBAT> Diazeco suppresses Sam7 with Jamming Pod. <successful>

<COMBAT> Predator-5974e has been KO'd!

<COMBAT> Diaz has been KO'd!

<COMBAT> Diazeco has been KO'd!

<COMBAT> Predator-1192r has been KO'd!

<COMBAT> Donovan has been KO'd!

<COMBAT> Predator-8957x has been KO'd!

<COMBAT> Melissa has been KO'd!

<COMBAT> Donovan spends a luck point to keep fighting!

<COMBAT> Diaz spends a luck point to keep fighting!

<COMBAT> Melissa spends a luck point to keep fighting!

Donovan starts cursing under his breath in several languages at the same time when the threat alarm goes off again. "Frak frak frak…." he starts rolling left and right, but it's really no use… the damage to the Predator is bad… the kinda bad where you just have to say. 'Damn, that's… that's bad.' He looks back once more towards Blues and he tries to take a deep breath… bad idea. A sharp lance of pain flares through his chest. "Stupid…" he mutters at himself and then… there is an explosion… just to the left… and a second… just lower… it almost seems as if the first missile, set off the other early. Another jolt and bounce and again, Donovan feels himself slipping into the darkness. For a moment… just a moment… he can hear a song… the one his mother used to love to play. He can almost see her face…. her green eyes… that flowing red hair. "Donovan… Donovan! Pay attention son." he snaps his eyes open and pulls up on the controls… His heart is pounding in his chest, blood roaring in his ears. "Frak…" he takes a painful deep breath. "Thanks Mom." he says very softly.

The Threat Warning Receiver is blasted to hell, so Melissa has no idea there is another SAM incoming. The first clue she has that one has hit her is when her port canopy glass explodes and shreds her flightsuit along her helmet, left shoulder, and left arm. The concussive blast nearly rips her helmet off and she's dazed, unfocused for a few seconds. Looking down, she realizes that the NVG plate is completely cracked and non-functional. Most of the electronics in her cockpit are gone. Looking up, she realizes that she has no visual reference with the black of the night and the clouds, on an unfamiliar planet. But she can see the afterburners on Elena's Predator just in front of her. This feels surreal. Or is it the shock setting in? She tries a few buttons in the pit and there's nothing working. "Frak me. Shame you gotta die, Preddy. You've done a damned good job." She airkisses her hand and pats the busted altimeter.

[Into the Wireless] Melissa says, "Violet transmitting in the blind. Don't know if anyone can hear this. My Pred is toast. I've got no night vision or electrical. Not sure how long it will hold together." Its a miracle she can transmit without electrical. "I'm hit hard. I'll stick with you as long as I can, over.""

Crone's strike team is banged all to hell and a lot leaner than when they left the asteroid. She stays focused. When she hears Violet sing out over the coms, she turns up as many lights as she can, and responds.

[Into the Wireless] Elena says, "Violet, Crone. Just follow my lights home. I've got you."

[Into the Wireless] Donovan says, "Violet… Sparky, I still have instruments… I can cover your other wing… lead you out… we made it this far."

Feeling the ariframe shudder under the barrage of incoming rounds, Diaz is fighting to keep the Predator moving forward - at best speed - while silencing a growing number of alarms and whistles. She shakes her head slightly to rid the annoying buzzing sound that comes from being jostled around inside the predator like a rock inside a tin can, and is keeping up a steady flow of low voiced words interspersed with random swear words when she realizes that Mike has gone silent. "Mike?" making his name a question as she turns slightly and for a moment there's a shock of stunned grief when she realizes that her companion of these last many hours is slumped sideways in his chair, leaning heavily against the instrument panel. The cold air slicing through the canopy, no longer just sheering off of it, allows bits of snow to drift in and around. A jagged chunk of warped metal that must've torn off of the air frame has, in a bit of cruel random fate, impaled her ECO and the look on his dead face is one of surprise. The sound of Violet's voice over the com is the one thing that pulls Diaz's attention back from the edge of numbed shock. She checks the charges one more time and prepares to bail out now that the end of the line is finally ahead.

[Into the Wireless] Diaz says, "Flight, Diaz. My ECO is not . . he's not going to make it to the rally point. We.. I can't take another hit like that and keep on. Vogue, what's your status, over?"

"Burger." Casey murmurs, not thinking about where Elena's going to get a cow right now. Growing up on Piraeus kept Casey in touch with her local food chain…it isn't ground meat. It's cow. "I'd like that." She doesn't respond to the sounds of comrades starting to drop on the comms. "Burgertime." Meanwhile Predators are getting ripped up around them.

There they go, one of their airframes drops off the DRADIS and Idris can hear the coms, the screaming. "Spitwad, no!" There are drawings of Ben Cross in his sketchbooks, a Raptor pilot he'd liked. Gods damn it. Bloodfeather says nothing over the coms, shell shocked himself and struggling to keep his Predator flying. The fire in back has picked up life, consuming burnables in the back. Idris's helmet and flightsuit protect him from deadly fumes and smoke. With all the wintry cold wind he isn't feeling heat yet. Blackwell is either dead, sucked out the rent in the side of the Pred, or burning back there and there is not a damn thing he can do about it. He's got his hands full - this old gal has given her best, shuddering her last. Just a bit further to the north, come on… Idris listens to the other pilots and looks for Diaz, keeping tabs on her.

[Into the Wireless] Idris says, "Diaz, Vogue. I'm still with you. Fire's eating her up. I can get her a little further, over."

100 miles seems like an eternity while the Predators are shaking themselves to pieces at full throttle. Behind them are more than a dozen pissed off Hater fighters chasing them, more than twenty miles behind and opening distance. The Predators are just too fast, even damaged, to catch up to. Below them, the pilots with working night vision can see endless, rolling forests. There are only a few sparse patches out there. Closing down to the 95th mile, a red signal flare is launched from one of the small clearings. …An opening in the forest canopy no bigger than 200m long and 100m wide. That's it. There's the target. And as they come closer and begin to slow, they can see the Rhino already powered up and waiting, top turret pointed at the sky.

<FS3> Elena rolls Piloting-1: Great Success.

Diaz spends 1 luck points on Landing on my feet would be nice.

<FS3> Diaz rolls Body+Presence: Success.

<FS3> Melissa rolls Body+Presence: Good Success.

<FS3> Donovan rolls Body+presence: Good Success.

<FS3> Idris rolls Body+Presence: Success.

[Into the Wireless] Elena says, "Nyx, Crone. Here we come."

Landing in the dark, in the snow, starting to tremble from adrenaline and avoiding ejecting pilots and jettisoned aircraft? Nooooo problem for Crone. She sets the Predator down and unstraps herself quickly. "Pull the drives and then we let Nyx do the driving. We did it, kiddo. Good work."

<FS3> Donovan rolls Piloting-5: Failure.

Melissa is last in line and slows the Predator down to stall speed and braces back against the seat. She reaches between her legs and yanks the yellow handle. Explosive bolts blow the canopy (or what's left of it) off and fire the ECO's remains first. Half a second later, Melissa's seat fires and she swings away from the seat. The Predator continues down and even in her weakened state, she gapes at the amount of damage to it… and it kept flying. The pilot looks over to see her ECO's limp body drifting down and Violet sighs. She sticks the landing near the Rhino and unclips the chute. Nothing to be said to anyone else, she moves over towards the body nearby and uses her good arm to start dragging Zoot's remains towards the Rhino's ramp, wrapped in the chute. Nobody needs to see what happened to her, but Melissa is going to be sure they bring her home.

[Into the Wireless] Bennett says, "Crone, Nyx. It is good to hear your voice. We are spooling enginges and have recovery teams waiting to assist. Do you have any non-ambulatory casualties?"

Seeing that small landing zone flare up ahead with the signal light, Idris makes his final prep. His Predator is on fire already, the heat building up and starting to get a mite uncomfortable, despite the breached side. He opens up the small panel where he's put the thermite to cook it off right there in amongst the cockpit controls. "Here goes." Bloodfeather sets the Pred to overshoot the LZ, but just before he's on top of it, he pulls the pin on the thermite and hits the seat ejection. The canopy explodes off and he is flung up into the cold darkness. Here's hoping his chute opens and a moment later, the Lucky Strikes Squadron Leader feels the hard jerk of his harness. Moments later he's crashing into trees and falling to the earth hard. A better landing by far than his last one, in some respects.

Further on in the night, the smoking Predator Idris has vacated plows itself into the earth, fragmenting into a ball of flames against the darkness.

[Into the Wireless] Elena says, "Nyx, Crone. We have some ECOs we need to bring home."

Donovan makes it to the landing zone and when he tries to put the gear down to land, it refuses to lower. "Frak." he mutters. He looks back and then calls to Blues. "Hold on brother… we gotta do this the hard way." he says to Blues. He has no idea if his ECO can hear him or not, but he says it just the same. He arms both the seat and then pulls with all he is worth on the ejection handles and a second later a half dozen G's cram him down into his seat as he and Blues rocket out of the dying Predator. They drift down to the landing area and he gets to his feet, shedding his chute and making his way to Blues. He picks up his ECO and starts making his way to the Rhino… doing his best to ignore the burning pain in his leg and arm… and his chest. He gets to the Rhino. "Medic…" he calls, dropping to his knees, doing his best not to drop Blues.

The rhino sits in a field of long grass, with a broad swath around the hulking transport plastered to the ground by the force of its burgeoning turbines - which come to life with a low whine. There's an armed marine running around tugging the camouflage net off and barking orders at his buddies. One of them hauls ass to give Donovan a hand onto the ramp, while two more - bristling with rifles - cover the pilots' ingress.

Casey takes a deep breath, eyes down as Elena makes quick to get out. Then Hiker shakes her head a little, unstraps, and grabs the drives before hauling herself out of the craft. She takes a moment to look back to where the flaming wrecks are still clogging up the sky with a thick black smoke. "Coming!" she calls out, not realizing no one called out for her. She starts to trot towards where they spotted the Rhino on the way down.

Battered, sore, Idris detaches his chute straps and peels out of his harness to get free of the lines. All around him it's darkness but there's a light in the direction of the landing zone. The Captain pops his suit's helmet seal and removes it, sucking in breathes of fresh, chilly air. Bloodfeather begins to stagger out of the trees to head for the Rhino. It's a bit of a hike but he'll make the effort. When he finally arrives, there is no sign of his own ECO with him. Some of his flight suit is scorched and melted from intense heat.

Gunnery Sergeant Lleufer Ynyr gets the last of that camoflage cover off of the Rhino, then moves out towards Donovan to lend a hand, "We don't have a Medic nor Corpsman on board. Here, I'll give you a hand." The Master-at-Arms starts helping get pilots into the Rhino, while Flynn is around here probably doing the same.

Setting the Predator's trajectory accordingly, Diaz yanks on the lever to eject both her seat and Mikes and, as the canopy lifts off and falls away she remembers to tuck her arms in close to her chest right after setting the timer to set off the charge that'll blow up the Predator and any other munitions that are still attached to the Predator. By the time the Predator makes both the impact crater AND accompanying kaboom, Diaz has managed to free Mike from his seat and carries his body with her to the waiting Rhino. A little extra strength comes in handy every once in a while and it's enough for her to manage the larger frame of her dead ECO and secures his remains, accordingly.

Gunnery Sergeant Lleufer Ynyr gets the last of that camoflage cover off of the Rhino, then moves out towards Donovan to lend a hand, "We have a Corpsman on board. Here, I'll give you a hand." The Master-at-Arms starts helping get pilots into the Rhino, while Flynn is around here probably doing the same. (repose)

The pilots will note that when they board the Rhino, there's a bearded man in a lot of heavy camo and wearing a plate carrier. A bodybag at his feet. He stands up when they enter, staring at them, not really sure what to say about seeing them dragging dead crew with them. There's no weapons on him, but he does help people without a word.

[Into the Wireless] Bennett says, "Crone, Nyx. Do we have any incoming hostiles? And confirm please once all crew are accounted for. Rails, spool FTL once we have cleared minimum altitude."

Crone does not respond over the coms. She's on the Rhino now. She pops the seal on her gorget and pulls the helmet off, trudging her way to the Rhino cockpit and sitting down. "We lost Timber."

Donovan makes his way into the Rhino while the medics takes care of Blues. He looks back and Donovan is worried he won't make it, but at the moment he is just too worn out to do anything more. His arm is burned, shrapnel in his leg and his broken rib is just raising hell with breathing. He sits in one of the seats and leans back, closing his eyes for the moment and waiting to be anywhere else… but here.

Idris lends a hand to others who are helping wounded or carrying their dead. He does not appear to be injured himself. When he climbs on board the Rhino, he gives the bearded, scruffy man a hard look, his own face covered in ritual scars upon his dark brown flesh, a nasty scar across his throat. Then the Captain moves on up, racking his flight suit helmet. Without saying anything, he helps see his fellow pilots get strapped in safely.

The last one who's going to come aboard will be the Gunnery Sergeant. Lleufer listens out for orders from the Major, ready to raise the ramp in back when they are green to go.

The engines finish spooling and the ramp comes up, leaving the planet. A lot of dead. And for what? Nobody knows just what has been purchased with the sacrifices made. The bearded man left in his seat, massive bergen pack beside him, watches everyone. Is he Erfriki? If he is, where the hell is the rest of his team? Why is there a wire plug running into his neck from his bodyarmor? Will he make good on the promise.. did he make any promises? He basically avoids saying anything to anyone. Meanwhile its a long flight back. Two and a half hours to meet with the Orion. They hit their target and pulled off an amazing mission. There is no party to be had there. Payback has been bittersweet and cold.

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