MD #161: Operation Buccaneer Part 3
Operation Buccaneer Part 3
Summary: Theres a Cleric ressurection facility on Aerlion? Better do something about that!
Date: Sat 16/Sep/2017 (OOC Date)
Related Logs: Operation Buccaneer Part 2
Niko Gloria Elena Bennett Lukes 
Jacob Scott Diaz Donovan 
Aerlion Airspace
Forges, A Saber, and a Ressurection Facility.
03/Apr/2049 (IC Date)

"As you were," Niko calls out, quickly ending the traditional call to attention that kicks off each briefing. "This is Operation Buccaneer, phase three. This will be a full Wing strike mission over Aerilon." The holo display shows the familiar Colonial planet, with Skath ships in orbit and identified Saber SAM sites on the surface marked. The holo rotates and zooms in as the CAG gives the cue. It shows a massive structure, not unlike the huge ziggurat they once blew to hades back on Calumet. A resurrection site for the Clerics. "This is our primary target for today — the main resurrection site. We blow this, we've got some Clerics who aren't coming back. Should also make a statement for any friendlies on Aerilon, and hopefully draw Skath away from the bunker area at Pless." He punches another key on the console and the holo displays a few suspected and possible air defence sites. "Our intel about the defences aren't great, but expect something like we saw at Calumet — multiple Forge sites and possibly a Saber or two within range." He turns to look towards Bennet at this point. "Nyx. You're strike lead. Take as many of the Ghosts and whatever support you think you'll need. Crone will be along on this one, and there are Predators if you want to borrow some Vipers jocks like me. We want the air defences hit hard and we want the primary levelled." And then his gaze cut toward Idris. "Skath raiders are going to come running when they see what we're up to. Vogue. That's where you and the Strikes come in. Escort and top cover." The other squadrons are detailed their missions, with the bulk of the Vipers engaging in support of the fleet in orbit while the EW and SAR raptors are in support. "Today we are going home," Niko says in closing. "Where we are going to find some Skath mother frakkers who think they've already won this war. This is a lot like what we had to do in the Second War. Take a look around this room and you can see the history, and how that turned out. We are back again, and we are going to show some frakking machines just how wrong they are. Dismissed." The usual sub-briefings break out as the squadron commanders craft their final plans, and then it's time to saddle up and fly.

Gloria looks at her assignment and winces slightly, a Pred, damn it. She's not a fan, vastly preferring the raptor frame, hell, even the rhino. Still, orders are orders and she isn't about to do anything other than do her damnedest to get that res facility flattened. Seeing her front seater is none other than the DCAG she gives Elena a flash of a grin before, "see you on the deck Major."

Elena has similar feelings about Predators. She loves flying them, for sure, but they're definitely something else. She returns Dodona's smile with a nod. "See you on the deck."

The Orion's scout Raptors find a hole in the carrier coverage in orbit and manage to jump in and squeeze through. They're also low enough to give minimal horizon on the planet, which also means it’s a wee bit dangerous. And as soon as the Orion jumps in, there's a shift in the ship's gravity. They can literally feel the planet beneath them. The take-off order comes fast and everyone is shoved out of the tubes and decks as fast as possible. The primary strike group heading for the rez facility has a bit of a way to fly, almost twenty minutes, but its the stealthiest way to approach — even with a squadron of Vipers in escort ten miles ahead. Flying in early morning, the sun is barely creeping over the horizon and the ground below them is bathed in fog. Low hills creep up out of it, as do trees, proving that there really is something below the soupy mess down there. Chimneys and houses can occasionally be seen, the smoke from the fires adding to the fog. The contrast with the blue skies is beautiful. For a moment, it might be easy to pretend this is just another training mission and the war never happened.

Bennett engages in some light pre-flight banter while she and Lukes get their bird prepped to fly. There's no cabin to speak of in a predator, so each has eyes on their own controls, and calls out checklist items until all bars are green for launch.
Once the sleek craft is slingshotted from one of the draconian launch tubes, Bennett rolls out her shoulders and prepares to take point in the strike group's formation.

> [Into the Wireless] Bennett says, "Flight, Nyx. I read twenty minutes to ETA, based on current approach."

Gloria still gets spacesick, even more so in Preds than Raptors, but she's taken her meds and offered her usual offering to Zeus in the chapel before the mission, so fingers crossed she'll still be okay. That doesn't mean she isn't closing her eyes tight as they're launched though. She'd half like to as they get into atmo, but now she's busy working her board for signs of contacts.

> [Into the Wireless] Gloria says, "Nix Dodona. Copy that. ETA twenty minutes."

Lukes is easy. Stuff like this is all fun for her and she has earbuds around her neck that can be heard if someone gets close enough. She's happy and smiles, though a bit nervous. She hasn't spent a lot of time in Predators and her SL is keeeenly aware of that. Lukes has been her pup since she was an Ensign. Though once they are scooting along at high speed, she seems happier. Without much to do in the backseat, she has her helmet leaned against the canopy and is watching the landscape scream by. "I never realized how pretty all of this was. I feel like I missed a lot being stuck in the city, yanno?" she says on the intercom. Lukes is a little homesick, yep.

Strapped into a Predator to support the strike mission, Niko shoots Jacob a grin when he sees who's consigned to be his back seat. "Try not to jettison early today, Quickdraw." Then he's focused on pre-flight and getting the ship off the deck. He forms up with Bennett's strike group as they descend into atmospheric flight, riding the chop and scanning the skies with mark one eyeball. In the sky it always looks peaceful, right up until they start trying to kill you.

[Into the Wireless] Niko says, "Nyx, Scythe copies."

This isn't Jacob's first rodeo in a predator…in fact, the last time he was out was ALSO with the CAG, so when the LTC flips him some attitude, the man just grins, "Aww, you know me sir, I never pop off early." Nevermind what his callsign is. A few beeps and he follows up with a soft, "Gimme something to swat around and we can have some fun, sir." He's not even looking up around the canopy, his eyes are down and glued to the instruments for the moment.

"You're doing good, Dodona. Keep it all down and we'll be fine out here okay?" Crone's words over the intercom are gentle and teasing in equal measure. Seriously. Don't puke.

Being in one of the Vipers going along with the Predators, Scott rolls a bit to the side as he clears the sip, shaking his head a bit as he looks out at the landscape out there. Even though he wasn't born, or grew up here, this planet has become home to him, after all. Shaking his head once more, he moves his Viper into position, looking around to see where the others are, then back to his instruments.

All hands on deck for this mission allows Diaz to suit up with the rest of the Viper wing. She is aware of the sidelong looks and some of the more, less than subtle looks that she not only deserves but is chastened by. The normally high spirited if downright bubbly Ten is subdued and serious as she runs through the preflight checklist and prepares to launch with the rest if the wing. It's no coincidence that the viper to which she is assigned and her designated position in the combat formation has her alongside Scott (Pollux). She launches a few seconds after he does and aligns her viper in tandem.

[Into the Wireless] Diaz says, "Pollux, Diaz, at your 4 o'clock, over."

"Strike, this is Gold Lead. We've got bandits at eighty miles, zero-four-five off the nose. Keep the two Vipers with you and we are going to move for intercept. Have a nice day."

On the screens the Predators can see the Vipers bank off and head towards their targets, beginning a slow climb. That's going to be their tangle. Meanwhile across the planet there are other squadrons moving to engage while strikes are hitting air defences and Raptors drop laser guided bombs across bridges. The targets chosen at random, the Rez facility is the only main target, giving the Skath serious cause to question the motives of the Orion.

Ten minutes from target the Predator ECO's start getting ground warnings of distant threats and defences, a 'Mud Spike'. While so far it seems subdued, there's only two showing, the Vipers still haven't started shooting and things are still quiet. When Aerilon goes on worldwide alert with the Skath, that might change a few things.

Bennett smiles as she listens to Lukes chatting away at her, the sound a familiar one from the time they've spent working together. Her gloved fingers ease around the throttle, feeding a little more power to the afterburners; the increase in thrust is more apparent in a predator. "You should talk to Lleu some time. He will happily wax poetic about his homeland for as long as you will let him." The strike craft punches through clouds as they skim lower and faster, leaving a slim contrail in their wake. "Range on those Forges?" she asks her back seater calmly.

[Into the Wireless] Bennett says, "Gold Lead, Nyx copies. Good hunting."

"I'm fine," Gloria replies to Elena, "I had a full breakfast and eve.. " at that point she starts making the noise of vomiting before she can't keep it up and laughs. She's still mildly amused by the time she starts getting the warnings on her screen. "Alright, show time. We have contacts ahead, working on discriminating them now."

Niko's eyes go upward when he hears the chatter with the Viper lead, and he says a personal farewell as the Vipers vector off to intercept. "Good hunting, Strikes." He'd much rather be with that group than jockeying a Pred, but on some missions even the CAG has an assigned slot. Hearing a peep from the DRADIS warning receiver, Scythe's gaze goes down toward the hazy surface of Aerilon. "What are we looking at, Quickdraw?" he asks the ECO.

"I bet he has some nice things to say. As much as I love the city, I want to be country. I think I'm just too loud to be country, yanno?" Lukes doesn't really observe her experiences so much as try to fill them. Bennett knows this, even if Shelby doesn't. Talking about beauty when there is about to be destruction. Not surprising. The question about the Forge has her already looking down and she's checking. "No exact positions yet, sir. They're out there."

Nodding as he hears Diaz, Scott turns slightly to offer a brief thumbs-up gesture. When the other Vipers moves off, he stays with the Predator group, while glancing around rather carefully.

[Into the Wireless] Scott says, "Diaz, Pollux. Eyes open. We're the ones having to babysit these Predators now."

Jacob squints a bit at his displays and sounds a little disappointed, "Hey, they started the party without us. Picking up party favours dead ahead, bossman. Looks like ground radar and I betcha Nyx' pins they got Sabre rockets trained behind em…." He hums under his breath for a moment, then adds, "Well, we knew this wasn't gonna be a walk in the frakking park, right? Ride-em cowboy."

Maintaining relative proximity with Pollux and the Predators they are escorting to the rez facility, Diaz is keenly aware of the long term ramifications of this combat objective and the accompanying after affects this will have on the enemy clerics. For that reason alone the pilot would have been more quiet than normal. Her hands are calm and careful as she checks the position on the wing, the map overlay, HUD & DRADIS, intently listening to the com chatter as the time on target diminishes rapidly.

[Into the Wireless] Diaz says, "Pollux, Diaz. Copy that, Over."

Time is getting short and about five minutes, the Predators begin their last turn towards the target, crossing the Initial Point. IP crossed, they come left and speed up. About this time the Vipers must have begun their engagement because all of the Forges in the area suddenly light up. Active dradis begins pinging in their helmets and the targets light up the screen. All of a sudden flak begins exploding above them, little prangs hitting the skin of the frames and canopies as it passes by. There's no telling where the guns are coming from, but the Skath definitely know they are there.

"That's eight kinds of not funny, Dodona," Elena sighs over the intercom. "Ever puked in your helmet? I don't recommend it." When flak starts to fly, Crone buckles down. "Where's it coming from?"

"More times then I care to remember," Gloria admits, but her tone is all serious again now things are pinging off her screen all over the place. "Soon as I have anything solid I'll start jamming," she notes, fingers tapping away as she tries to work out just what DRADIS response is what. "If it helps, looks like Gold Lead and their mob have drawn a lot of attention away from us." Just not enough.

"Prepare for some chop," Bennett informs her back seater, mild-voiced, over the shipside comms. "I am going to try to adjust our approach to factor in the Forges' firing radius.." Bright bursts of igniting flak light up their windscreen, to the tune of low decibel reverberations that can be felt through their seats. The pull of gravity is a familiar one to Bennett; she's always preferred atmospheric flight to spaceflight, and puts the predator through its paces with a steady, unflinching hand.

[Into the Wireless] Bennett says, "Strike, Nyx. Seven minutes ETA. Hold formation and course, fangs out once you have a target lock."

"Whoa…" Scott mutters to himself as the flak goes off. Looking around trying to figure out where it comes from, he sighs, just keeping his attention on making sure the flak is the only threats at the moment.

The initial warning sounds that indicate incoming flack and weapons fire has Diaz manoeuvring with care. Every reasonable instinct is to plot every evasive course deviation she can come up with on the fly. Quelling that instinct is as much ingrained, hardwired, protective instinct and rigorous training. Her job, and Pollux, is to protect and escort the Predators into and back out of the combat zone. So instead of veering away, she blows past the incoming chop and chaff, keeping her viper aligned with Pollux and the trio of Predators.

The need to stay in formation is tested when that flak starts coming up to greet them, and Niko too resists his urge to manoeuvre in the face of a threat. Viper jock. Instead he stays with the flight, turning only to follow Bennett's new course through the anti-aircraft fire. The Predator shudders as a near miss detonates somewhere behind and below them. "You heard the lady Quickdraw. See if you can get everything on this part of Aerilon shooting at us this time."

[Into the Wireless] Niko says, "Nyx, Scythe, roger that."

Lukes lets off a surprised squeak when the flak starts bursting. "Good Gods! Scared the hell out of me and 'bout peed myself," she laughs, just a touch nervous. Even with the metal banging off the frame as it rockets through the sky, Shelby smiles a little in her helmet and punches up some buttons, arming up the missiles. "Master Arm On." She begins humming a pleasant tune while she goes for ground locks.

Jacob woos and comments in a lazy drawl, "Why yes, they know who's comin' to dinner, don't they? Ain't gonna do ya any good, boys. Time for a proper ass kicking. Weapons hot, Scythe. Not quite close enough for a love tap, but get about a mouse fart closer and we'll light up someone's Saturnalia tree." He gets jostled around and at one point, his helmet even hits the side of the canopy with a loud *clunk*, followed by a 'wooo! That tickled!'

<COMBAT> Gloria attacks Forge2 with Missile Ap - Moderate wound to Body.
<COMBAT> Jacob attacks Forge3 with Missile Ap but MISSES!
<COMBAT> Forge1 attacks Diaz with RAIDER KEW but MISSES!
<COMBAT> Lukes attacks Forge4 with Missile AP and MISSES!
<COMBAT> Forge4 uses a Missile AA!
<COMBAT> EXPLOSION! Right Next To Viper-0950p - Critical wound to Body (Reduced by Armor).
<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Viper-0950p - NEAR MISS!
<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Viper-0950p - ARMOR on Right Wing stops the attack!
<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Viper-0950p - ARMOR on Left Wing stops the attack!
<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Viper-0950p - Serious wound to Cockpit.
<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Viper-0950p - ARMOR on Engine stops the attack!
<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Viper-0950p - Critical wound to Weapon.
<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Viper-0950p - NEAR MISS!
<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Viper-0950p - ARMOR on Engine stops the attack!
<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Viper-0950p - ARMOR on Right Wing stops the attack!
<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Viper-0950p - Critical wound to Cockpit.
<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Viper-0950p - ARMOR on Tail stops the attack!
<COMBAT> Forge3 attacks Niko with RAIDER KEW but MISSES!
<COMBAT> Forge2 uses a Missile AA!
<COMBAT> EXPLOSION! Pretty Close To Predator-5070d - Critical wound to Body (Reduced by Armor).
<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-5070d - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!
<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-5070d - ARMOR on Right Wing stops the attack!
<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-5070d - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!
<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Predator-5070d - NEAR MISS!
<COMBAT> CREW HIT! Elena - Light wound to Left Hand.
<COMBAT> CREW HIT! Elena - Serious wound to Chest.
<COMBAT> CREW HIT! Elena - NEAR MISS!
<COMBAT> CREW HIT! Elena - Serious wound to Left Arm.

<COMBAT> Elena has been KO'd!
<COMBAT> Viper-0950p has been KO'd!
<COMBAT> Scott has been KO'd!
<COMBAT> Scott spends a luck point to keep fighting!
<COMBAT> Elena spends a luck point to keep fighting!

Bennett manages not to attract any attention from the Forges as they breach their outer perimeter, despite being at the point of the formation. Once they're within range, she switches to the main guns and provides some covering fire as her back seater lobs missiles. The predator is tilted until it's nearly perpendicular to the ground, banking in sharply to line up a direct hit - if she can manage it - on the Forge dead ahead.

> [Into the Wireless] Bennett says, "Crone, Nyx. You took a pretty bad hit there, what is your status?"

And there comes that explosion right next to his Viper, sending shrapnel all over the thing. As lots of shrapnel showers the cockpit, Scott loses control of the Viper, letting it spin off for a few moments before he manages to get it back under control. Wincing as he sees the status of things, but at least he's still flying. "Such a welcome home gift," he mutters to himself.

Jacob sighs when his missile goes wide and makes a nice crater about twenty feet to the LEFT of the Forge site. Niko can hear the man mutter, "Ya little sunofab…he DUCKED, boss. Didya see that?" A few beeps as he switches systems over, connecting the next missile in the sling, "C'mere. Daddy don't letcha get away from a paddlin' THAT easily."

[Into the Wireless] Elena says, "Nyx, Crone. They got me, but I can still fly. Don't know if I can take more, though."
[Into the Wireless] Diaz says, "Pollux, Diaz. What's your status? Over"
[Into the Wireless] Scott says, "Diaz, Pollux. Cockpit took quite a shower, but I'm okay. I already did that getting shot down over Aerilon thing half a lifetime or so ago, not eager to repeat it."

Even with the lighter frame and the added zip, but you can't dodge shrapnel once it's in flight. Elena probably should count herself lucky that there was a spacecraft between her and the shrapnel, given how there are now pieces of metal in her hand, arm and chest. At least they're all on the same side, and luckily it didn't hit her heart or lung. "Gloria, jam more," come her terse words over the intercom. She's saving her tact for the radio.

Gloria is buffeted by the force of the missile impact, but otherwise unhurt. Hearing Elena sing out over the comms she waits until the report to Bennett is done then calls to her front seater, "we're being targeted again, switching to ECM. I'll see if I can jam it." And then there's nothing from the back but the frantic tapping of her controls.

[Into the Wireless] Bennett says, "Nyx copies, Crone. You have some structural damage, and it looks like you are venting tylium."

Evading the first exchange of weapons fire from the forges on the ground, Diaz banks sharply to avoid the incoming rounds and twists left, right, then tips her head back to see the wing responding accordingly. She sees Pollux spin out and calls out a status query via com even as she's angling closer to eye the damage to his Viper. She also checks out Corric's Viper before scanning DRADIS again.

Bennett comments to her back seater, "Last missile was a close call. Let's make this one count, Suds."

"SAM! Eleven o'clock," Niko calls out to Quickdraw when he sees the first missile break through the layer of fog below. Meanwhile he's watching as the flak burst start to creep closer and closer to the Predator. He throttles back and slides out to open formation, getting some room to move, then accelerates and changes course to keep the gun director down their guessing. So far, it's working as they haven't been hit. "Shoot straighter," he responds to Jacob's question. Then he spots the flash of another SAM lifting off, down there in the murk, and finally has a target to shoot at himself. He's on the wireless to warn the flight as he pushes the nose down and dives toward the Skath vehicle.

[Into the Wireless] Niko says, "Flight, Scythe. Talley one forge. In hot. Guns."

Donovan has been doing his best not to get his butt shot out of the stars. He increases his speed a little, feeling the shudder of the added power though the frame of his Viper. HIs primary goal has been to keep the fighters away from the Raptors and their bombing mission.
He turns in just a little tighter to Diaz. Moving to keep pressure from building up on Scott who was spun out.

[Into the Wireless] Donovan says, "Diaz, Corric. I'm tight at three high, keep an eye on for a jumper on Scott."

<COMBAT> Gloria suppresses Forge4 with Ecm. <successful>
<COMBAT> Bennett attacks Forge1 with 30MM MINIGUN but MISSES!
<COMBAT> Niko attacks Forge4 with 30MM MINIGUN - Moderate wound to Body.
<COMBAT> Lukes attacks Forge4 with Missile AP - Critical wound to Body.
<COMBAT> CREW HIT! Forge4 - Light wound to Left Foot.
<COMBAT> Elena attacks Forge2 with 30mm Minigun and MISSES!
<COMBAT> Jacob attacks Forge3 with Missile Ap - Critical wound to Body.
<COMBAT> CREW HIT! Forge3 - Moderate wound to Right Leg.
<COMBAT> CREW HIT! Forge3 - Serious wound to Right Leg.
<COMBAT> CREW HIT! Forge3 - Moderate wound to Right Hand.
<COMBAT> Forge3 attacks Diaz with RAIDER KEW and MISSES!
<COMBAT> Forge2 uses a Missile AA!
<COMBAT> EXPLOSION! Pretty Close To Viper-4551 - Moderate wound to Body (Reduced by Armor).
<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Viper-4551 - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!
<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Viper-4551 - ARMOR on Controls stops the attack!
<COMBAT> Forge1 attacks Bennett with RAIDER KEW but MISSES!
<COMBAT> Forge4 uses a Missile AA!
<COMBAT> EXPLOSION! Very Far From Predator-5070d - Light wound to Body (Reduced by Armor).
<COMBAT> Predator-5070d is not hit by shrapnel.

<COMBAT> Predator-5070d has been KO'd!
<COMBAT> Elena has been KO'd!
<COMBAT> Gloria has been KO'd!
<COMBAT> Forge-6438x has been KO'd!
<COMBAT> Forge3 has been KO'd!
<COMBAT> Forge-3842b has been KO'd!
<COMBAT> Forge4 has been KO'd!
<COMBAT> Elena spends a luck point to keep fighting!
<COMBAT> Gloria spends a luck point to keep fighting!

Bennett's fancy flying is enough to keep the Forge's guns off them, but it also disrupts her own firing solution and her shots go wide. She throttles up, trading altitude for speed as the predator barrels in more aggressively on its course for the resurrection facility. "Nice hits," she murmurs over the shipside comms with a grin, readying her thumb on the trigger mechanism.

With the flak exploding all around them, the beautiful blue skies have begun to fill with ugly black smears. The missile trails seem to arc into the sky like angry fingers, stabbing with accusing malice. The fog below them still has not cleared much, keeping much of the grey blanket across the landscape. The burning forges mark their positions under it with oily black smoke roiling into the air above the layer, a gentle breeze pushing it south. Meanwhile contrails high above can be seen heading this direction. Raiders. They begin a wing-over dive and head right for the Vipers and Predators.

Jacob growls in an appreciative tone, "Gotcha, ya little prick." He clears his throat and offers in an overly happy, pleasant voice, "One down, Scythe, looks like your projectile party got the one next to it too. Damn nice." He takes a moment to switch the system over and queue up the third missile, "Awright, whosa next little irritating punk wansa play?"

[Into the Wireless] Diaz says, " Flight, Diaz. Skath Raiders inbound. Mind our sheep, over."
[Into the Wireless] Bennett says, "Strike, Nyx. Bandits incoming, ten o'clock, full burn. Scythe, think you can keep them off our backs?"

There might be just a little bit of bad language occurring in the back seat of Crone's craft. As the Predator rocks again Gloria calls out to the DCAG "two forges down, two to go, but we've got trouble from above. Half a dozen raiders or so." Checking her boards she calls, "no lock-ons, repeat no lock-on’s, gonna throw that last missile."

With the news of no lock-ons, Crone lets out a whoop. "Let the Strikes handle the bogeys. We've got this. Hold on." With a wild look in her eye, she sees what this damaged Predator can handle, diving in to strafe one of the forges.

Giving a tip of her Viper side to side to acknowledge Corric, Diaz works the angle of her trajectory to maintain proximity with the Predators and gooses the thruster to ease slightly forward, trying to frak with the firing solution off the skath raiders and draw fire away from the Predators.

Donovan turns just in time to avoid the brunt of explosion that ensues. His Viper gets showered with high velocity shrapnel and his master alarm starts blaring. "Shut the frak up." he stabs the master caution reset with his gloved finger. "Supposed to be watching my back Voodoo, where the frak did that come from." he adjusts for a lock on one of the incoming Raiders.

Looking around and working on being away from the incoming attacks from the missiles, Scott looks up at the mention of the Raiders. "Okay, it's on…" he mutters to himself as he readies the missiles, turning to face the incoming enemy fighters. Taking a few moments to get one of the Raiders lined up, he lets a missile go for the enemy.

Niko makes a firing pass on the forge, raking 30mm dual-purpose HE rounds across the vehicle. Sparks glitter as rounds strike home, and then a missile comes down and hits the Forge dead on, finishing it off and then some. The CAG pulls up and starts to climb back toward the formation, but he spots a stream of tracers coming up from a small cluster of trees ahead and to their right. Another one. The warning about incoming bandits is heard, but there's nothing he can do in his Predator but deal with the ground targets. "Good shooting, Quickdraw. Second Forge, two o'clock." And even as he's changing course to get guns on it, the Skath sends up another SAM. He's sending a warning on the wireless even as he lines up the guns.

[Into the Wireless] Niko says, "SAM! Two o'clock. Vipers, it's going high. Watch your six."
[Into the Wireless] Donovan says, "Diaz, Corric. Watch for that SAM, if it locks, come off low left, I'll go high right, don't wanna bump you."

<COMBAT> Bennett attacks Forge1 with 30MM MINIGUN - Moderate wound to Body.
<COMBAT> Elena attacks Forge2 with 30mm Minigun and MISSES!
<COMBAT> Donovan uses a Missile AA!
<COMBAT> EXPLOSION! Far From Raider-0229q - Moderate wound to Body.
<COMBAT> Raider-0229q is not hit by shrapnel.
<COMBAT> Diaz uses a Missile Aa!
<COMBAT> EXPLOSION! Close To Raider-5535w - Light wound to Body.
<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Raider-5535w - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!
<COMBAT> Scott uses a Missile AA!
<COMBAT> EXPLOSION! Right Next To Raider-2826n - Critical wound to Body.
<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Raider-2826n - ARMOR on Left Wing stops the attack!
<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Raider-2826n - Critical wound to Weapon.
<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Raider-2826n - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!
<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Raider-2826n - Critical wound to Cockpit.
<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Raider-2826n - ARMOR on Engine stops the attack!
<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Raider-2826n - ARMOR on Controls stops the attack!
<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Raider-2826n - Critical wound to Engine (Reduced by Armor).
<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Raider-2826n - ARMOR on Left Wing stops the attack!
<COMBAT> Lukes attacks Forge2 with Missile AP - Moderate wound to Body.
<COMBAT> Gloria attacks Forge1 with Missile Ap and MISSES!
<COMBAT> Forge1 attacks Scott with RAIDER KEW - Light wound to Tail (Reduced by Armor).
<COMBAT> Niko attacks Forge2 with 30MM MINIGUN - Serious wound to Body.
<COMBAT> Jacob attacks Forge1 with Missile Ap - Critical wound to Body.
<COMBAT> CREW HIT! Forge1 - Serious wound to Left Arm.
<COMBAT> CREW HIT! Forge1 - Moderate wound to Chest.
<COMBAT> CREW HIT! Forge1 - Light wound to Left Foot.
<COMBAT> CREW HIT! Forge1 - Moderate wound to Right Arm.
<COMBAT> Forge2 uses a Missile AA!
<COMBAT> EXPLOSION! Far From Viper-4551 - Moderate wound to Body (Reduced by Armor).
<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Viper-4551 - ARMOR on Engine stops the attack!
<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Viper-4551 - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!

<COMBAT> Forge1 has been KO'd!
<COMBAT> Forge-3834t has been KO'd!
<COMBAT> Forge2 has been KO'd!

With the last of the Forges smeared across the landscape, the missile warnings go quiet, as do the mud spikes - locally. There's a Saber site out there somewhere to the north and its actively searching for the Predators and Vipers, but given the now-close proximity of the Raiders, it makes this a costly venture of guessing which of the SAM's sites dradis contacts are friendly or enemy. The angry electronic 'Wubwub' sound is in their helmets at as a background noise every ten seconds as a fun reminder that the Skath can kill you from more than one hundred fifty miles away.
But the ultimate target is just ahead, about five miles. While attacking the Forges they could see it looming out of the fog, but it looked more like a mountain or large hill in the shadows of the morning sun. Five stories high at the sides and eight in the domed middle, its twice the size of the largest pyramid stadiums and coliseums. Its going to take a helluva lot of bombs to bring that place down or at least shut it down. The antenna farm built across the roof is a testament to just how important it is. And much like on Calumet, the structure is surrounded by thousands of village homes, innocent people kept close as human shields against nuclear or orbital strike. The Colonials can get there, its just a matter of getting past the enemy Raiders first.

A second strafing run and Niko pulls back the stick, taking the Predator back up into the sky. Hit by multiple missiles and some gun fire from two Preds, that's one more Forge that won't be shooting at them again. With no more threats on the board from the ground, he steers the ship back toward the looming shape of the primary target while looking upward for those bandits. There's time for a quick call on the wireless before he's going to have to do some flying. "Hang on Quickdraw," he warns the ECO as he hits the manoeuvring jets to slow and slew the craft, then jams on the throttle for an abrupt change of course, hoping that throws off the raider's targeting.

[Into the Wireless] Niko says, "Flight, Scythe. Primary in sight. One minute to target."

Being fully focused on taking out the enemy Raiders, Scott fires off a missile at one of them, without noticing that something hits his tail. Thankfully it's not one of the worst hits, and he turns to fire off another missile for another Raider. Focusing fully on the Raiders for now.

Gloria swears once as her missile fails to find it's mark but she's already closing that system down and concentrating on the jamming pod. "O..kay. That’s the forges dealt with but we've still got a sabre somewhere north, but I can't pin it down yet." She's working on that when Elena will hear her swear again. "We've got company. One raider at least, maybe two, not clear. Working to jam."

When the last of the Forge sites is taken care of, Jacob has enough time to sweep DRADIS and notices just how MUCH company the group has started acquiring. In a low voice, he murmurs, "That's a big sunofabitch. No sweat boss. I lose 50 credits if I lose my lunch onna canopy anyway. Jokes on them…I didn’t have lunch!" He sounds HAPPY about that.

The sight of the rez hub ahead is enough to give Diaz nightmares, enough so that she resolutely avoids looking at it specifically while - equally - being aware of it's precise location and diminishing proximity distance wise. The first round of weapons fire with one of the Skath Raiders results in damage to the Raider and no push back to her Viper frame. She checks Pollux's status and Corric's with a sidelong glance, left then right again, matching velocity still. Another glance takes in DRADIS and the weapons locks that are constantly shifting to sweep for new targets.

[Into the Wireless] Diaz says, "Flight, Diaz. Maintaining weapons lock on Raider-3. Corric, stay on target, try to take the heat off of Crone. Over."

Donovan keeps his vector and maintains the lock as the Raider gets jiggy-with-it trying to get away. He catches sight of an incoming missile and he holds to the last second he thinks he can spare. He lets his missile fly a second early, but it saves him eating the incoming SAM. He gets pelted again with shrapnel. "Frak." he mutters in his cockpit. He then sees the flash when his missile damages the Raider. He flips the weapon select to missile 2 and sets TADS to getting a lock. He takes a moment to pull up the side HUD screen and check his ship status. Still in the fight. 2 missiles left. Literally a half ton of KEW ammo… He's good. Gonna keep rolling the dice and see what happens. He snaps back to the moment when his helmet erupts with a lock-tone. He waits that half second and fires.

[Into the Wireless] Donovan says, "Diaz, Corric. Copy, tracking Raider-2."

"Just keep jamming, Glo." Elena's starting to lose blood. She grits her teeth.

<COMBAT> Scott uses a Missile AA!
<COMBAT> EXPLOSION! Far From Raider-8538 - Moderate wound to Body.
<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Raider-8538 - Light wound to Cockpit.
<COMBAT> Raider5 attacks Bennett with RAIDER KEW but MISSES!
<COMBAT> Jacob tries to attack but has no target!
<COMBAT> Gloria suppresses Raider7 with Ecm. <successful>
<COMBAT> Diaz uses a Missile Aa!
<COMBAT> EXPLOSION! Right Next To Raider-5535w - Critical wound to Body.
<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Raider-5535w - Critical wound to Body (Reduced by Armor).
<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Raider-5535w - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!
<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Raider-5535w - Moderate wound to Left Wing (Reduced by Armor).
<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Raider-5535w - ARMOR on Right Wing stops the attack!
<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Raider-5535w - ARMOR on Left Wing stops the attack!
<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Raider-5535w - Moderate wound to Right Wing (Reduced by Armor).
<COMBAT> CREW HIT! Raider3 - Critical wound to Right Hand.
<COMBAT> CREW HIT! Raider3 - Serious wound to Right Hand.
<COMBAT> CREW HIT! Raider3 - Critical wound to Neck.
<COMBAT> Raider8 attacks Bennett with RAIDER KEW but MISSES!
<COMBAT> Raider7 attacks Elena with RAIDER KEW and MISSES!
<COMBAT> Raider6 attacks Niko with RAIDER KEW - Light wound to Right Wing (Reduced by Armor).
<COMBAT> Raider4 attacks Donovan with RAIDER KEW - Serious wound to Nose (Reduced by Armor).
<COMBAT> Raider3 attacks Diaz with RAIDER KEW and MISSES!
<COMBAT> Raider2 attacks Elena with RAIDER KEW and MISSES!
<COMBAT> Donovan uses a Missile AA!
<COMBAT> EXPLOSION! Pretty Close To Raider-0229q - Serious wound to Body.
<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Raider-0229q - Light wound to Weapon.
<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Raider-0229q - ARMOR on Left Wing stops the attack!

<COMBAT> Viper-4551 has been KO'd!
<COMBAT> Donovan has been KO'd!
<COMBAT> Raider-0229q has been KO'd!
<COMBAT> Raider2 has been KO'd!
<COMBAT> Raider3 has been KO'd!
<COMBAT> Raider-8538 has been KO'd!
<COMBAT> Raider4 has been KO'd!
<COMBAT> Donovan spends a luck point to keep fighting!
<COMBAT> Niko will spend luck on defence this turn.

<FS3> Bennett rolls Gunnery: Failure.
<FS3> Bennett rolls Gunnery: Success.
Bennett spends 1 luck points on HALP.
<FS3> Bennett rolls Gunnery: Good Success. (+1)

Niko's doesn't quite throw off the raider, and the Skath manages to put a couple of KEW rounds through their port wing. No bitching from Betty and not warning lights. "We're okay," he assures Jacob as he brings the nose around and back on target. "We're in hot on the target." Meaning their manoeuvre options are limited. "Keep an eye out for those bandits." Then Scythe goes on the wireless to communicate their status.

<FS3> Niko rolls Gunnery: Good Success.
<FS3> Niko rolls Gunnery: Good Success.
<FS3> Niko rolls Gunnery: Great Success.

Godsdamn, this body farm is big. And frak them for their human shields. The thoughts going through Crone's head are simple and angry, and also fleeting. It's hard to keep anything in her head right now other than flying this plane. Which she's doing one-handed. She wonders idly how the canopy and her flight suit will hold up. They'd better hold up. She swoops in low and fast to drop her bombs.

Flicking her jamming efforts between raiders as they change priority on her mental list Gloria hasn't actually looked up the target yet. "Still jamming," she calls, "we've picked up another." Then she sees it, and there's a sharp intake of breath, "frak me…" This distraction doesn’t last for long though as she pulls her eyes away to make sure they aren't raider-fodder.

Elena spends 1 luck points on bomb things good.
<FS3> Elena rolls Gunnery: Great Success. (+1)
<FS3> Elena rolls Gunnery: Good Success.
<FS3> Elena rolls Gunnery: Good Success.

Working as a group, the Viper's successfully splash four of the Skath-Raiders and, even as more are coming out to play, they pick their next round of targets with the same care as the first couple passes. Down to her last missile, Diaz eyes the targeting pings and shifts her focus to the Skath-Raider that's taking a bead on Crone and sends her last missile away. She can hear the targeting pings that are bouncing off of her Viper frame, and with a brief - albeit fierce - grin, she gives an almost taunting wiggle of the Viper from side to side, Diaz for: come and get me, suckers.

Donovan watches for a second as the Raptor's get lined up for their attack. THIS is why they are there and why he's been getting his fraking ass kicked all over the stars.
He takes a splash of weapons fire across the nose of his Viper. His HUD foes dark and he is slammed into the side panels. His vision explodes into a chaotic field of swirling stars. He shakes his head, clearing his vision and flips switches, bypassing the damage. "Yeah baby, still kicking." he says to himself when his ship come alive again. He lines up, waits for a tone and lets loose some more red hot blazing death on Raider-6

Exploding Raiders, always good. Scott sees another Raider go down, before he moves to go for one of the Raiders going after Niko. He takes a few moments to get into a position where he can go for the Raider without risking taking out the Predator as well, then fires off that missile.

Jacob leans his head over to look at the damage being done, and mutters under his breath, "Damn, and that thing is STILL looking fairly functional. We need a couple of cruisers to pound on that…" and shakes his head slowly.

<COMBAT> Donovan uses a Missile AA!
<COMBAT> EXPLOSION! Pretty Close To Raider-4349k - Critical wound to Body.
<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Raider-4349k - Serious wound to Weapon.
<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Raider-4349k - ARMOR on Engine stops the attack!
<COMBAT> Raider8 attacks Elena with RAIDER KEW and MISSES!
<COMBAT> Raider7 attacks Diaz with RAIDER KEW - Light wound to Left Wing (Reduced by Armor).
<COMBAT> Gloria suppresses Raider8 with Ecm. <successful>
<COMBAT> Diaz uses a Missile Aa!
<COMBAT> EXPLOSION! Right Next To Raider-5380s - Critical wound to Body.
<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Raider-5380s - Critical wound to Cockpit.
<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Raider-5380s - Light wound to Right Wing (Reduced by Armor).
<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Raider-5380s - Critical wound to Cockpit.
<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Raider-5380s - ARMOR on Right Wing stops the attack!
<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Raider-5380s - Moderate wound to Body (Reduced by Armor).
<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Raider-5380s - Critical wound to Right Wing (Reduced by Armor).
<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Raider-5380s - ARMOR on Right Wing stops the attack!
<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Raider-5380s - Light wound to Left Wing (Reduced by Armor).
<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Raider-5380s - Critical wound to Body (Reduced by Armor).
<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Raider-5380s - Light wound to Right Wing (Reduced by Armor).
<COMBAT> Raider5 attacks Niko with RAIDER KEW and MISSES!
<COMBAT> Scott uses a Missile AA!
<COMBAT> EXPLOSION! Very Far From Raider-5245g - Light wound to Body.
<COMBAT> Raider-5245g is not hit by shrapnel.
<COMBAT> Raider6 attacks Niko with RAIDER KEW and MISSES!

<COMBAT> Raider-5380s has been KO'd!
<COMBAT> Raider8 has been KO'd!
<COMBAT> Raider6 has left the combat. (Lukes)

Niko lines up the targeting pickle on his section of the huge rez facility and hits the thumb button on the stick. Clump. Clump. Clump. The bombs drop away in rippled pairs and punch through the roof of the structure where the time delay on the fuses detonates their explosive payload somewhere deep inside. Lightened by several thousand pounds, the Predator roars up into the sky at full afterburner and Scythe looks back over his shoulder for the raiders that have been dogging their tail. The storm of tracer fire they're sending after the Pred lets him know they're still back there. "Quickdraw, how's the target look?" is his first concern. They've got a job to do.

Jacob spends 1 luck points on Hail Mary, Fulla Grace….
<FS3> Jacob rolls Gunnery: Failure. (+1)
Lukes spends 1 luck points on Rockeeetttt maaaaaannnn.
<FS3> Lukes rolls Gunnery: Good Success. (+1)

Scott frowns as he switches over to using KEW, switching to a far more offensive-minded style of flying. Going for one of the Raiders, he tries to find a good spot to open fire from. Time to take out that enemy.

Jacob grumbles, "How is that damned thing NOT dead yet??" He sighs and tees up the last missile, "Welp, here's hoping some poor schleb at Ares Arms Manufacturing miscalculated the amount of explosives for this one missile and put way too much in it…fox 4!" As the last AP missile streaks away from the Predator and smacks into the almost-but-not-quite crumbling structure, he shakes his head, "Okay, Scythe. look, someone get out and pee on the thing. It's gotta be only held up by its dignity at this point."

Hearing Jacob's report, Niko cranes his neck for a quick look at the massive target. Lots of fire and destruction, but there's still one significant section intact. "Frak. Nothing for it, Quickdraw." He gets back on the wireless even as he's busy weaving the Pred across the sky to try and avoid the raiders on his six.

[Into the Wireless] Niko says, "Flight, Scythe. Strike is winchester. Return to base."

Anyone who manages to look towards Bennett's Predator can see Lukes in the back seat with both middle fingers aimed at the remnants of the building, looking like there's a string of curses leaving her.

With the bombing run complete, Crone pulls up and reverses course. They still have those Raiders to deal with. When she was a nugget, she whined about wanting to train on Vipers. Now, she's glad that dogfighting isn't her problem. "RTB?" she asks hopefully. She blinks hard, trying to keep her head focused and her flying straight.

Donovan smiles as his missile gives the Raider a little hug and then blows. The Raider is vaporized in a ball of twisted metal and fire. He rolls out, skewed so he takes no hits this round. It's nice to not get shot at for a change. He turns and gets TADS to lock up Raider-5. He keeps his finger on the trigger and waits for a tone… it's his last missile so he really does not want to miss. His side, the one that had the close encounter with his console is killing him. "Yeah, that's gonna leave a bruise." he mutters. He gets a tone and squeezes the trigger.

[Into the Wireless] Donovan says, "Flight, splash two, I'm taking -5. Last missile."
[Into the Wireless] Diaz says, "Flight, Diaz. Bingo Missiles. Say again, Bingo missiles. KEW only from here on out. Engaging -10. Copy that, Flight lead, Over."

"RTB," Gloria confirms, "we're out of everything bar the 30mm and I don't that that'd even scratch the paintwork." There's distinct disappointment in her tone, but she keeps what she actually says professional for now. "No lock on, doing what I can for our escort. I count four hostiles still engaging."

> [Into the Wireless] Gloria says, "Scythe, Dodona. Copy that. RTB."

<COMBAT> Gloria suppresses Raider5 with Ecm. <successful>
<COMBAT> Raider7 attacks Bennett with RAIDER KEW but MISSES!
<COMBAT> Donovan uses a Missile AA!
<COMBAT> EXPLOSION! Pretty Close To Raider-5245g - Critical wound to Body.
<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Raider-5245g - Critical wound to Cockpit.
<COMBAT> SHRAPNEL! Raider-5245g - Light wound to Cockpit.
<COMBAT> CREW HIT! Raider5 - Light wound to Right Hand.
<COMBAT> CREW HIT! Raider5 - Serious wound to Chest.
<COMBAT> CREW HIT! Raider5 - Light wound to Left Arm.
<COMBAT> CREW HIT! Raider5 - Moderate wound to Chest.
<COMBAT> Diaz attacks Raider10 with KEW - Moderate wound to Right Wing.
<COMBAT> Raider5 attacks Donovan with RAIDER KEW and MISSES!
<COMBAT> Scott attacks Raider9 with KEW and MISSES!
<COMBAT> Raider9 attacks Niko with RAIDER KEW and MISSES!
<COMBAT> Raider10 attacks Niko with RAIDER KEW and MISSES!

<COMBAT> Raider5 has been KO'd!

The sun is just now starting to burn off the fog and as it lifts, the pilots can see a clearer view of the destruction wrought. The Rex Facility is burning in four different areas with thick plumes of smoke burning a twist of grey and black. The antenna farm across the top of the building has been completely blown away and there are so many holes blown in it, it looks virtually impossible that its still standing. Hell, it resembles one of those hideous modern art masterpieces with crap hanging off of it that supposedly symbolizes the struggle of man in society or something pretentious. The sort of thing you want to stop, get out, and shove over for marring a lovely city skyline. Regardless, the building is NOT going to be able to be used for its intended purpose for quite some time - if its even fixable. In that state? It’s probably going to have to be demolished. There's maybe a little satisfaction to mine out of that. Unfortunately, though, this was probably not without casualties… Several of the downed Raiders appear to have crashed into homes. Maybe it’s like on Calumet where all of these people living nearby were turned. Or maybe they truly were hostages. Its impossible to say from 5,000 feet and orders to get home at the speed of heat.

Resolutely turning her attention away from the Rez facility, Diaz checks out the very minor damage to her Viper as she continues the turn to reverse course to a reciprocal heading to their insertion point. She hangs back slightly, making sure that Corric and Pollux are leading the way, giving her the ability to keep an eye on their Vipers. That it also allows her to get a good look at the damage they're both sporting to their airframes is also the reason she's letting the two of them take point. The rest of the wing is glanced over, particular worry levelled on -5070D (the bus that Elena & Gloria are driving), minor damage to the rest of the wing and this viper pilot exhales a breath of relief at the assessment.

Donovan turns away from the last of the Raiders and he takes the lead, letting the other Viper fall into formation behind him. His ground crew is going to be pissed. About the only thing holding his Viper together at the moment is his harness straps and the paint. He makes best speed for the rally point and the trip home.

Niko continues to run the engines full out. Speed is what they need right now. With help from the Vipers he's able to finally lose the Skath that have been dogging his tail, and then he drops back into formation with the two other Preds. "You all right back there, Quickdraw?" he checks in with the ECO. Then he scans the others ships in the flight. Bennett has come off unscathed, but Elena's Pred is more holes than aircraft. And all the Vipers are damaged. And the target isn't out of action. Frak.

[Into the Wireless] Niko says, "Flight, Scythe. Crone has first landing priority. Corric and Pollux are second."
[Into the Wireless] Donovan says, "Flight, Corric, fall in behind and keep your eyes open… just in case, landing based on fuel status."

Grimacing as it's the time to go home, Scott lets out a bit of a breath. "One day…" he mutters to himself, making sure to watch his systems carefully to see if anything is breaking. There's a brief pause, and a sigh at the sorry state of his cockpit. Well, at least he'll get the thing back, right?

[Into the Wireless] Donovan says, "Flight, Corric, Vipers, fall in behind and keep your eyes open… just in case, landing based on fuel status."

Jacob settles back in his seat and just keeps an eye on the threat detection systems for the flight back, letting the open throttle push him into the chair like a big oppressive hand, "Yeah…" he pipes up like a 10 year old that just got told he isn't getting ice cream after all, "Just needed one more godsdamned missile. We're good, boss."

[Into the Wireless] Diaz says, "Flight, copy that. Scythe, very very minor damage to my viper. I can take last landing slot in rotation. Pollux and Corric, I have your Six. Over."
[Into the Wireless] Elena says, "Scythe, Crone. Thanks."

The DCAG's voice is thin and her vision is swimming. Landing one-handed and light-headed is going to be a special treat.

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