AWD #440: Resupply on Aerilon
AWD #440: Resupply on Aerilon
Summary: What happens when a simple in/out resupply mission of a FOB on Aerilon goes entirely off book? The first engagement with the Allied Planetary Forces does not lead to tea and biscuits.
Date: Sun 04/Sep/2016 (OOC Date)
Related Logs: http://battlestarorion.wikidot.com/angry-observations
Agrippa Niko Pearson 
Bennett Jason Maia 
Aerilon
Forward Operating Base
Wed 22/Mar/2006

The descent from the cruiser is what one might expect, but there's a couple other cruisers already there getting into a gunfight just over the horizon. Judging by the radio chatter it sounds like they are engaging multiple targets. It's pretty hard to see what they are shooting at, though, but two cruisers wouldn't be hitting a basestar by themselves - especially without flak frigates for cover. Other than that, the roll in and entry into atmo is pretty straightforward.

Dropping down, they can detect two Sabers but they are close to 1000 miles off and way out of range. A couple of smaller SAMs are active but not in the area of where they are heading to. Diving down past 30,000 feet, they can see the general area they are heading for. There's smoke coming from the ground around it but the little speck of brown, their destination, looks pretty intact. With clear weather, visibility is unlimited and there's a few aircraft in the area working - which is a VERY good sign. So far, so good.

After launching from the cruiser that ferried them over to Aerilon, Punchdrunk is apparently lead Viper for this mission which is rather a rather scary prospect, responsibility not something he prefers to handle. But with the mission handed to him, Agrippa will be doing what he can to make sure their mission is a success and also to bring the nuggets home

Punching into the planet's atmosphere was no problem, the orange glow around the fighter craft is there and then gone, meaning Agrippa is in safely. Immediately he searches for the Raptors which are nearby, moving into formation above them and also keeping an eye on the two nugget with him.

[Into the Wireless] There's a couple of greeting's on Tac One from the Predators working the area. They're casually calling out kills. A distant radio chatter seems to be engaged in close air judging by the intensity of their voices. Sounds like a contested warzone, something the Fleet hasn't had for awhile.

[Into the Wireless] Agrippa says, "Viper flight, this is Viper lead, once we break through atmos, form up and we escort the Raptors down. If Raiders are spotted, do not intercept until they enter our engagement zone, we are flying as a three Viper element. Primary mission is to cover the Raptors, and then each other. If we're lucky, the tin cans are taking the day off and we go home without firing a shot."

[Into the Wireless] Agrippa says, "Flight, Punchie. Check in, I'm with the Raptors and all systems still green."

Niko Janik has yet to earn his callsign, and he's not well accustomed to hearing "Janik!" on the wireless. He may be a fairly green by Orion standards, but the young pilot has been through a few serious scrapes over Aerilon and Caprica already, and scored is first and only kill. He acknowledges Agrippa's orders on the way down, then guides his viper down into the soup of Aerion's atmosphere, checking in as instructed.

[Into the Wireless] Niko says, "Punchdrunk, Janik. On your five, all green."

Maia is in one of the Raptors, her ECO watching the screen to keep her informed while she watches her own surroundings. The flight was pretty standard, from her viewpoint, but with the cover, she feels more secure as it were. Listening to the radio chatter, she tightens her hands on the controls and comments to her ECO absently. "Sounds a bit hairy out there. Keep me informed." As she herself checks in as well.

[Into the Wireless] Maia says, "Punchdrunk, Centerfold, all green."

Leading his own Raptor forward, Jason looks around out there carefully, while paying close attention to what's being said over the radio. Taking a few moments to check his instruments rather carefully, he speaks into the radio.

Piloting the third viper in the group, Pearson is the newest face in the air wing and still trying to put name to voice over com, let alone put name to faces, so much to learn, so little time. For all that, she's has steady hands as she guides the viper into position, scanning the display as much as the cloud cover as they move through the atmosphere.

[Into the Wireless] Pearson says, "Punchdrunk, Pearson. On your seven, all green."

Just a simple supply run. In and out. That was pretty much the extent of the mission briefing they all received, and though St. Clair isn't in command on this one, she's got plenty else to keep her busy. She's nose to Maia's tail in standard echelon formation, her bus bristling with a full spread of bombs across its underbelly, and rockets at every available hardpoint. There's minimal banter with her backseater as she maneuvers into the chop of Aerilon's atmosphere. Her helmeted head pivots toward the plume of smoke, but her gloved hand remains steady on the flight yoke.

As the group descends past 10,000 feet they can make up more of the terrain and what's in the area. Their target firebase is easier to define and they can see a few more about ten miles to the north and south. Another to the east seems to be an artillery site judging by the flashes of yellow and the smoke coming off of it. Rounds are landing about 15 miles to the northwest in huge explosions that seem to be ripping up the terrain. There's also a tank column heading northbound on a major highway, about 20 or 30 vehicles moving at a pretty good clip. The Aerilonian Army (which is really just a militia) and Colonial Marines seem to be having a good day in this sector, all the way around.

Moving lower and lower, the Raptors have plenty of room to circle. The landing area is clearly denoted with a sandbag arrow pointing to a cleared area. There's about a dozen people standing around and waiting. Closer inspection reveals a well-constructed forward base. There's firing trenches, a bunker system, and wire strung up all over the place. Sitting atop a small hill, the command bunker has a spotter tower fifty meters to the south that gives them a commanding view of everything for miles in almost every direction. The surgical tent is located just inside the wire closest to the landing area. It's a prime piece of real estate.

[Into the Wireless] Firebase Gabby says, "This is F-B Gabby on Tac One. All Raptors, cleared for landing. All's quiet for the moment. We have six litter patients for extract back to fleet. They are urgent surgical. Gabby, out."

[Into the Wireless] Bennett says, "Punchdrunk, Butch. LZ looks clean, zero joy on unfriendlies from what I can see."

With all crafts checking in with green status, Agrippa releases a short sigh that nothing has gone wrong yet, his eyes continue to flick between his DRADIS and the horizon where dogfights could be taking place, the distant chatter from the Predators showing hostile activity is at least in the region. As they descend in altitude, more chatter comes through their assigned channel, one from Firebase Gabby and then an update from Bennett's Raptor. Punchdrunk gives a quick response to Butch over the comm, then follows up with orders for the Viper flight.

[Into the Wireless] Agrippa says, "Butch, Punchie. Direct your birds to land and unload as soon as possible. We will fly top cover, if your ECOs pick up anything, sing out. Over."

[Into the Wireless] Agrippa says, "Viper Flight, Viper Lead. Maintain altitude at five-thousand feet, should give us good vantage to react in case we pick up any Raiders. Keep your eyes peeled. Over."

[Into the Wireless] Bennett says, "Copy that, Punchdrunk. Raptors are skids down in thirty seconds. Keep your engines hot, in case we need to make egress quickly."

[Into the Wireless] Niko says, "Janik copies."

Niko sticks with his flight lead, trying to keep eyes on the DRADIS, the sky, and the ground all at once. Immediate threat or no, this is the combat zone and the viper jockey's nerves are on edge. He keeps a foot tapping to work off nervous energy in the cockpit, and keeps the situational awareness cycle going.

With the landing zone cleared, Maia moves her Raptor into position and guides her in for the landing. "Good girl," she comforts her baby as she makes it to the ground with room for the other Raptors to settle in nearby. While the supplies are emptied out, inside the Raptor she has nothing better to do for the moment than to look around at what she can see of the area and listen to the channel chatter over the coms.

Moving her eyes in a sweep to encompass the field of visual terrain from the position she's holding her viper at, and sweeping the display as well, Pearson guides the viper in a pattern designed to maintain specific proximity and allow for the variables that accompany any in-atmosphere maneuvers.

[Into the Wireless] Pearson says, "Flight, Pearson, roger that. Maintaining altitude at Five thousand feet."

Bennett gears her bus in for a combat landing. It ain't pretty, but it does the job, and quickly. Her 'burners flare, twin engines blasting as the reverse thrusters kick in and reduce the impact of the landing to a teeth-gnashing jolt and skid a few feet in the dirt. The hatch release lever is triggered before they've come to a full stop, and her ECO certainly doesn't wait that long to unbuckle himself and retrieve his sidearm.

Landing at the site goes without issue. The people on the ground turn their heads with the engines idling but still blowing some dry dirt around. More militia and Marines begin jogging out to help. Once the dirt settles, they all turn and begin running for the Raptors. Once the doors are open, they form bucket lines and begin handing things off quickly. Everything seems to be going easily. A couple of the guys seem to be extremely thankful for the belted machinegun rounds being offloaded. One lady sends up a hooted cheer at the boxed of HEAT rounds for the G48's. Th ECO's are helping offload and trading insults and jokes, but most of their terminals have no dradis horizon at this altitude. Meanwhile the litter patients are brought out towards the Raptors, going to the NPC birds at three a piece. It even looks like a medic will be flying with them. But up above…

<FS3> Agrippa rolls Alertness: Good Success.
<FS3> Pearson rolls Alertness: Good Success.
<FS3> Niko rolls Alertness: Good Success.

Gently bringing his Raptor in for a landing, Jason shrugs at somethng the ECO said. "We're not entirely there yet," he remarks, looking out while waiting for the time to take off again.

The Radar Warning Reciver twitches once, the sound of a Viper dradis system in search-and-track mode. Air to Air. Nothing atypical, but there aren't any Vipers in the area yet except your trio. Then another. Then a whole series of them. More than a dozen. Then more. They're all squawking Colonial IFF which counts them as friendly. Checking DRADIS? It's more than two dozen coming southbound in a wave. Behind them, there's about the same number of Predators. They're all set up in a wave about 200 miles north. They'll be overhead in about two or three minutes judging by their speed.

[Into the Wireless] Niko says, "Flight, Janik. Either my DRADIS is frakked, or we've got a lot of friendlies inbound?" It doesn't sound like the rookie is sure which is harder to believe."

Bennett taps the DRADIS display in front of her, like it might help with the frak all she's picking up at ground level. Not that nothing is a bad sign, but. "Almost done," grunts her backseater after hefting a crate of medical supplies into the waiting arms of a pair of corpsmen. The Captain pauses at something she hears over the wireless, and keys the button with her thumb.

[Into the Wireless] Bennett says, "Janik, Butch. Could you repeat your last, please?"

[Into the Wireless] Pearson says, "Flight, Pearson here, copy that, if the DRADIS is correct we'll have company in less than three minutes," sounding not entirely calm. "Punchdrunk, they're squawking colonial IFF."

When the RWR pings, Agrippa ignores it as it is a friendly DRADIS wave bouncing off of him, his focus more on hostile detections. Then more pings, and more, this causes Punchdrunk to check his systems and then the sensors as well to see the large number of IFFs coming their way. Mission briefing did NOT mention anything about a large friendly presence inbound, and if the Predators in the distance were heading to Firebase Gabby, they would've chimed out. Something isn't right and Punchdrunk quickly radios down to the Firebase.

[Into the Wireless] Agrippa says, "Viper Flight, stay alert, I have the same readings as you Janik. Raptor Flight, unload fast, something is odd, we are getting fourty-eight, that is four-eight friendlies inbound but… no calls over the comm."

[Into the Wireless] Agrippa says, "Eff-Bee Gabby, this is Viper Lead. Do you have a comm officer that can scan all known colonial frequency range? Our DRADIS is showing forty-eight, I repeat four-eight friendlies in bound."

Niko is about to comply with Butch's request, keying the mic to repeat his report, perhaps even with details this time. But there's no need after Pearson and Punchdrunk confirm, so he stays off the air. Instead he swivels his head, getting eyes in the direction of the those DRADIS contacts, even if they're still much too far away for a visual. There's a questioning glance toward the flight leader's viper, double checking that Punchdrunk isn't about to start manuevering, and then he squints at the sky once more.

[Into the Wireless] Bennett says, "Copy, Punchdrunk. Expediting egress. You give the word, and we will jump once we have minimum ground clearance, and rendezvous at checkpoint gamma."

Keeping her hand off the com controls, so as to avoid crowding the channel, Pearson continues scanning the vista of open sky and the surrounding terrain. The constant sweep of the DRADIS updating with each cycle only draws her attention back, again and again, the clock counting down the decreasing interval between when the first flight of these so called friendlies are set to appear on the horizon.

Bennett's backseater scowls as he catches wind of what's going on in the airspace above them. He doesn't need to be explicitly told to move his ass; he begins barking out orders to the civilians assisting them with the offloading, instructing them to pick up the pace. The bus's engines begin to spool up, and the vehicle shudders with the effort to stay on the ground.

"Almost finished." Maia is informed from the back as the reloading of the folks is going on. She comments over the coms but it's brief and she leans forward to look outside then to her DRADIS, to see what all was going on with the chatter over the coms.

[Into the Wireless] Maia says, "Copy, Punchdrunk, Centerfold prepared for jump as soon as we have clearance."

[Into the Wireless] A voice with a lot of authority breaks in over Tac One, "Attention all aircraft in the sector, this is Colonel Jonathan Ridley, CAG of the First Wing, Allied Planetary Forces. You are instructed to turn off your DRADIS systems and enter a holding pattern in your present locations for intercept. You will be escorted to a friendly air station for debriefing. We are taking control of this sector. This is your only warning. Protest or non-compliance will be considered hostile intent. Ridley, out." ….Gabby goes silent. No reply. Then there's a lot of confused chatter on the radio, a lot of them opting to get the hell out of there at the speed of heat.

Just after Agrippa's radio call to FB Gabby an air raid siren starts going off. They loudspeaker blares, "All personnel, prepare for inbound!!" The soldiers abandon what they are doing and start running for the bunkers and their gear. A couple of first war era pom-pom anti-aircraft guns lift and point skyward towards the North. Crews are already bringing over crates of ammo while a couple of anti-air missiles are shouldered by two-man teams. The two Raptors with the urgent surgicals are still getting loaded and are going to need another couple minutes, the crews working frantically.

Meanwhile in the Vipers, and now the Raptors can see it too, the wave marches southbound. ETA 90 seconds. The Vipers are splitting off into four aircraft elements and chasing down individually fleeing aircraft. The friendly Predators are almost all going low and burning every engine at max throttle to head southeast. A pair of them overfly the Raptors on the ground and the sonic boom is nearly deafening outside the flight helmets. It's gone to almost total anarchy on the ground, half the people confused and the others looking panicked. Meanwhile those northern Predators begin setting up into elements of four also and heading towards specific targets. Four of them are heading right for Gabby. 87. 86. 85. …They're speeding up. 79. 75. 71. 66… 63. 62. 61…

When the unknown suddenly cuts into Tac One, Agrippa's attention snaps to the speakers as words from a voice that he does not recognize at all from his stay on the Orion, both and after his transfer to CFAB Crandall. So the Leftenant that was slotted to lead this mission is certainly in the hot seat, very big decisions to make with only two nuggets flying his wing. Being severely outnumbered, Punchdrunk is actually hesitant, but training has him updating his flight as well as the ground forces over comm. He knows that information and communication is key, if that breaks down, lives will be lost. For now, he maintains the air cover being flown for the Raptors that are still unloading but that can change very soon, with each second ticking away.

[Into the Wireless] Agrippa says, "Eff-Bee Gabby, Viper Lead, go full alert! You have hostile bombers incoming! I repeat, four Predators inbound!"

[Into the Wireless] Agrippa says, "Butch, Punchie. How much longer until your people are clear, we have multiple hostiles inbound. You have one mike, I repeat one mike. We will try to buy you time if you need it!"

[Into the Wireless] Agrippa says, "Viper Flight, Punchie. Bad news nuggets, you earn your wings and callsigns the hard way, stick with me and focus on living, not kills. We may have to do one pass on the Predators to buy time, but stay with each other."

[Into the Wireless] Agrippa says, "Colonel Jonathan Ridley, this is Leftenant Alexander Agrippa. You can take your traitorous instructions and shove it where the sun doesn't shine. Punchdrunk out!"

Bennett's jaw tenses as she waits for their mission lead to make the call. She doesn't chance discussing any strategy over the airwaves, unencrypted. But nor does she appear inclined to do anything rash, or counter to what's been demanded of them. There's precious little a raptor can contribute to a fight such as this would be, and none of it involves busting a hole through a wall of 'friendlies'. "Master arm, engaged" chirps her console in a tinny voice, bus shuddering as the hatch is finally slammed shut. "GO GO GO!" bellows her backseater as he drops into his chair and fumbles with his helmet and harness. St. Clair's engines come to life the moment Agrippa's voice cuts out over the radio; dirt and dust blows back in a thick cloud of grit that catches a few scurrying people on the ground unawares, and the bus begins to peel off the ground.

Exhaling a few choice words into the silence of the cockpit, silence that is broken only by the sound of the DRADIS, her breath, the colorful phrases she is inventing on the spot, Pearson guides the viper slightly away from Punchdrunk, enough to be able to keep eyes on both flight lead and Janik, the better by which to react without slamming into something. Like another viper. Or the ground.

[Into the Wireless] Pearson says, "Viper flight, Pearson. Copy that, on your seven and watching the surround."

[Into the Wireless] Bennett says, "Copy, Punchdrunk. Raptor five echo seven niner is skids up. Centerfold, Superstar, please expedite."

[Into the Wireless] Niko says, "Punchdrunk, Janik. Roger that." The young viper jock's voice is full of what-the-frak, but at least he doesn't sound too rattled."

Niko keeps an eye on Agrippa's viper, staying in formation, while glancing at the DRADIS. The 'enemy' ships start to break formation, and he gives up on trying to follow what they're all doing. Some are headed their way. That's enough to keep track of. There are a lot of them, but then he's seen a basestar spitting hundreds of raiders into the sky, too.

"What the…" Jason mutters, mostly to himself, before he nods a bit at the words that come over the radio. Starting to move the Raptor out again, he glances around, then back to what he's doing.

[Into the Wireless] Jason says, "Superstar expediting as instructed."

All it takes is an order and Maia works on getting her skids off the ground and into the air. Her ECO is in place, the hatch is closed, everything is secure so it's go time. Her engines roar as she lifts off, calling out over the coms as she does, watching the DRADIS, hearing the chirping, tuning in to what her ECO is saying al at the same time.

The Raptors start lifting off just as the pom-pom guns begin firing. The 40mm rounds are spit out endlessly. The sky to the north turns ugly and black as the flak starts busting everywhere. Meanwhile two missileers on the ground both fire off their shoulder-fired SAMs. They both streak north with a white plume marking the launch locations. Then bigger explosions start booming in the air, probably panic fire from the artillery position. The armored column begins sending up tracers, too. It all lights off nearly at once as the dark-grey specks appear low on the horizon. Meanwhile Vipers are streaking in, looking to engage anyone who dares linger and not follow instructions.

<FS3> Pearson rolls Gunnery+2: Good Success.
<FS3> Niko rolls Gunnery + 2: Great Success.
<FS3> Agrippa rolls Gunnery+6: Great Success.

As the seconds continue to tick away, the inbound Predators are getting closer and closer. Seeing that the last two Raptors needed more time to unload crucial equipment to the Firebase, Agrippa makes that fateful decision to commit himself and the two Vipers with him. Orders are barked into the comm system and right after, Punchdrunk's Viper banks slightly so that his heading is towards the inbound birds, not directly at the Predators but where their paths will intercept the hostile bombers. Throttle is pushed to maximum to close the distance as soon as possible and so his autocannons can begin barking when in range.

Once they get within range of the Predators, Agrippa's autocannons immediately roar to life, a multitude of rounds screaming through the atmosphere at the hostile bombers. Punchdrunk's rounds finds one unfortunate Predator and the autocannon rounds tears into the fuselage and both engines, a small explosion is the result with the engines more or less torn to shreds, completely inactive. The Predator itself spirals out of the sky and down into the ground, a thick trail of black smoke in its wake. Then Agrippa immediately pulls his flightstick back towards him, hard, completing a tight half loop that has him vectoring back towards Firebase Gabby and the Raptors.

[Into the Wireless] Agrippa says, "Viper Flight, Punchdrunk, follow me, we are going after the flight of Predators, full burn. We make one pass to disuade them from their run, then we return to our Raptors for close escort. Do NOT engage the hostile Vipers unless ordered otherwise. We don't know who or what is flying those birds, but they are trying to kill /our/ people. That ain't going to fly on this mission."

[Into the Wireless] Agrippa says, "Butch, Punchdrunk. Vipers going to intercept the Predators, not sure how long we can buy you but get your birds out. Over."

[Into the Wireless] Bennett says, "Punchdrunk, Butch. With pleasure. Raptor flight, all birds engage FTL and jump to backup coordinates when ready and able. I will hold until Screamer and Betty are outbound, in case they require ground support."

[Into the Wireless] Niko says, "Punchdrunk, Janik. In hot."

"Frak me." Niko rolls the viper and pulls back on the stick, nosing over and diving toward the ground from five thousand feet. A quick glance north and he picks up the four predators flying low and headed toward firebase Gabby. Throttle to full, he sets up for an approach from above and behind, and then turns his focus to the gunsight. "Don't fly into the ground," he mutters, just to remind himself. He opens up with his KEW, badly shooting up the tail section of his target. Under fire, the pilot of the target pred tries to break, but they're too close to the ground and his control surfaces are shot to hell. The 'Allied Planetary Forces' craft hits the ground at three hundred knots. There's a fireball, and then just a smoking crater. Janik pulls the stick back and uses the airspeed from the dive to gain altitude again, looking around for his flight mates so he can form up.

[Into the Wireless] Pearson says, "Punchdrunk, Pearson, copy that. Predators only, aye."

Eyeing the incoming flight of predators and their accompanying wing of Vipers, Pearson's is shaking her head subtly within the helmet, tapping the fingertips of her right hand against the console and one knee tapping against the side of the console as well. It looks like a training exercise, vipers against vipers, raptors against raptors. Only.. very much… not. At Punchdrunk's command she focuses on the Predators, working the weapon control system and taking aim at the enemy predator's, watching the rounds slice through the air with a sort of grim determination. The rounds rip into the enemy raptor, the sudden plume of black smoke indicates the engine on fire as the enemy Predators peels off and starts a limping turn back north.

Nodding as he hears the instructions, Jason glances back to the ECO. "Let's get out of here," he offers, before he looks to the front again.

[Into the Wireless] Jason says, "Butch, Superstar. Ready to get out of here any moment now."

[Into the Wireless] Maia says, "Spooling up, heading out"

[Into the Wireless] Maia says, "Butch, Centerfold. Spooling up, heading out"

Maia gets the green from her ECO, spooled and ready to jump out. Informing Butch over the coms, she gives the go ahead, going to backup coordinates, leaving the fight to the Vipers and getting the wounded back was priority. She stays tuned in to the channel chatter though, intent on listening to how everyone is faring this far, confused as to how it all came down and so quickly.

With three Predators destroyed or getting out of there, the last one manages to dodge under the fire. It comes in low enough to the ground that the exhaust is blowing the tall grass. Twenty feet off the deck, 400 knots. Whomever he is, he's good. The pom-pom guns can't depress that low, but the pilot has to pull up. The Pred suddenly climbs and rolls onto it's back one mile out. A hard-G roll-out and everyone can watch the sixpack of 500lbs bombs drop off. The fins stretch, retarding the airflow and slowing them while he GTFO's and heads back North. The remaining Raptors on the ground are just closing their doors while the Marines are running like hell for them. Too late.

Twenty-four would have wiped Gabby off the surface. But six is enough. Each one hits, the airburst stick in the nose making each one explode three feet off the ground. The air-detonation effects are staggering. Dropped in a line, they walk just west of center, heading south. They blow apart every bunker, throwing bodies and frag everywhere. The spotting tower just vaporizes with one bomb landing beside it. The Command bunker loses its roof and all the soil, antennas cut and melted. They continue walking right towards the landing pad. One of them lands right on the surgical tent and then there's a pair of flashes. The Raptors jump a bare half a second before a bomb lands between where they were. The personnel running for the Raptors are left scattered as the unloaded munitions begin cooking off secondaries. It's a nightmare. But the radios are silent except for the sound of the inbound Vipers. Thirty seconds and ten Vipers will be looking for revenge for their dead comrades.

With three Vipers, it would've been some incredible shot and a lot of luck to down all four Predators in one pass. Unfortunately they were only to either shoot down or have three of the bombers break off from their bombing run. Unable to do anything else, Agrippa can only watch that one bomb fall towards the landing site, towards the two Raptors that had just finished unloading. Fortunately, they jumped out of the system right before the explosion went off. Firebase Gabby was not as lucky but Punchdrunk knows that there is nothing that could be done, especially not with a squadron of angry Vipers coming after them like killer bees. A quick order is barked out over the comm to the two nuggets and the lead Viper is afterburning upwards, gaining altitude at an extremely quick rate, the first objective is to get back to their cruiser.

[Into the Wireless] Agrippa says, "Janik and Pearson, Punchdrunk, form up and full burn up. We are Are-Tee-Bee, straight shot back to the cruiser!"

Wary of the updraft that the explosion will create, Pearson has her attention divided between the scene on the ground and the rapidly approaching group of enemy vipers. Enemy vipers who may not be so cavalier about the fact that their buddies in the Predators are now scattered into flaming bits and pieces of what used to, might have been, people at one point. And a not to distance point. The orders from flight lead, Punchdrunk, are received with a carefully muted sigh of relief. She guides the viper into a rapid ascent, angling away from the explosion and the remains of the firebase.

[Into the Wireless] Pearson says, "Flight lead, Pearson, RTB copy, advancing in another direction, sir."

[Into the Wireless] Niko says, "Janik. Roger."

Niko relays a quick affirmation to Punchdrunk on the wireless, but he is mostly focused on his flying. He slews left to form up on the flight lead again. The throttle is already down, and he hits his own afterburners as soon as he sees them fire from the Pearson and Agrippa's vipers ahead of him. He made his firing pass and didn't look back, the explosions on the ground only a flash he catches in the corner of his eye. A quick check of the DRADIS and then Janik cranes his neck, instead looking upward and behind him, where he fully expects to see a swarm of vipers diving on their heads. "Go baby, go," he urges his own viper as the acceleration from the burners start to pile on gees. "Get me the frak out of here."

Bennett is away in a flash of light and reverberating BOOM of her bus hitting the sound barrier at three hundred fourty metres per second. It's close enough to the ground to snap the tops of trees, and rain bark and leaf fragments down in a thick spray.

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