MD #000: Return of the Erfriki
MD #000: Return of the Erfriki
Summary: Carrier Air Wing 11 draws first blood against the Machines.
Date: 08/04/2017 (OOC Date)
Related Logs: None
Diaz Elena Garrett Gloria 
Idris Melissa Niko Shay 
Where no one can hear you scream.
24 OCT 2028 (MD #0)

The Ready Room was packed with air crew for the pre-mission briefing, and the air was filled with the same mixture of expectation, excitement, and nerves that is present throughout the ship. Once the wing is assembled, the CAG and DCAG enter in their flight gear and walk down front. Attention is called, with 'As You Were' immediately after. People settle back down as Lieutenant Colonel Niko Janik begins the brief. The man is past forty but still manages to give off an impression of youth. Maybe it's the restless energy, or the confident grin.

"Okay, people. Youve all heard it. We're going to war with the Machines. Maybe it's sooner than we hoped, but better to take the fight to them than wait around for them to hit the Colonies. You all know your jobs. Youve trained for this. You're ready. Keep your cool, keep an ear on your comms, stay with your wingman, and watch your six." The opening pep talk out of the way, Scythe gets down to the business of the mission.

"Strategically, we're taking the fight to the Machines to buy time. The more time the Machines waste chasing us, the more time to evacuate people back home. The Skath have way more ships and fighters than we do, so expect a lot of hit and run missions and expect to be outnumbered. Your job is to complete your mission and bring yourself back. Killing Machines? Great. Do it every chance you get. But I'm telling each and every one of you, right now," Niko pauses to look over the faces in the room to emphasize this point, his own expression uncharacteristically serious, "that your number one objective is to come back alive. This is day one, people. It is going to be a long war, and we need live pilots and ECOs, not dead heroes. Do /not/ take stupid risks. And if anyone — I don't give a frak who you are — ignores an order to break off, I personally guarantee you will be scrubbing decks until you can straighten up."

"All right. The target today is a Skath communications relay hub." Niko presses a button and the display screens show a huge space station, along with the Intel on its defenses. Anti-ship missiles and guns, point defense flak guns, and multiple squadrons of fighters. "Our battle group and Arpay strike group nineteen will attack together. We are expecting Machine capital ships, and their usual tactic is to jump themselves into position between an attacking fleet and the relay. So our big ships will engage the Skath ships. Arpay Hornets will be screening for them while we take out the primary target. We hit hard and fast, blow that station to Hades, and get our asses back to the barn. Captain Wescott — you are Raptor Lead today. Your target is the relay. Nuclear release is auhorized." Yep, they'll be firing nukes from the get go. "Captain Bloodfeather, you're Viper lead. Your job is to keep the fighters off the Raptors."

The Niko clicks to switch the display, and they now see a hologram of the wing in formation, in space. Vipers are in front with two squadrons arrayed like a net, the Raptors in three ship vees behind it. A third Viper squadron is in reserve in the rear. "Initial attack formation is on the screen and in your flight computers. Lead Vipers will carry long range air to air missiles and engage as soon as we're within range. We use the AAMs to punch a hole in their fighter screen — fire them all if you have to. Then we mix it up with any Skath coming to close the gap. Raptors will support with ECM until they are through the Vipers and on target. Then turn the music on the station's targeting systems and make your run. As soon as the nukes are away, Raptors jump clear and we disengage." These steps play out in the holo as Niko explains the basic plan. There's a brief question and discussion session where any necessary tweaks are made, and then the briefing is wrapping up. Niko steps aside to give Elena the podium.

From her position standing at parade rest by the CAG's side, Major Heron steps forward to the podium. With the face of a twenty-year-old set with eyes that are much older, she addresses the assembled Wing. "You're ready for this. Of all of the people still alive, you are probably the /most/ ready for this. You have your training. You have your orders. We don't need heroes and we most /certainly/ do not need kill-chasers. Go out there. Do your job. Come home. Get drunk if that's an option. If not, clear your heads and get ready to do it again. And again. And again. Your job isn't CAP and sims anymore. This is what you've trained for, so go out there and do it. Good hunting." She steps back, and will watch them head to their planes. She has an odd moment of deja vu, even though she's on the wrong side of the podium.

Jumping halfway across the galaxy is one thing. It takes half an hour or so when they have to go a long distance, but this time the actual jump takes about three or four minutes. That's not good. That means the Skath are closer than they thought. When they arrive on station, though, they take a few minutes to precisely nail down their arrival position before making a tactical, short-range jump right into a gunfight. All over the ship hatches are sealed up and gun systems are loaded, turrets aimed. The Orion is about to face its second tour as the lead combat vessel for humanity.

When the jump flash subsides, the call goes out to launch. All over the hangar pods Raptors and Vipers disgorge and when they do, the crews get their first look at what they are facing. The station is huge, nearly as long as a battlestar with massive antennas and dishes at all angles. There's jump flashes over some of the dishes, as well, running FTL communications to another location. The cylindrical shape looks aesthetically ugly but it was built by machines for function only, not to be pleasing to the eye. Surrounding it are several large capital ships that look to have just jumped in between BSG-114 and their target - just as predicted. DRADIS is already pinging a lot of enemy contacts.

Gloria has not been looking forward to learning to deal with her space-sickness all over again, but when the call comes there's no denying it. Strapped into the back of a raptor she offers a prayer or several to Zeus as the call goes to launch and then her focus is entirely on the screens infront of her. "Frak that's ugly," she calls to her pilot, then, with a touch more urgency, "multiple DRADIS contacts. I think they know we're here."

Some things never get old. Niko has been through a thousand launches by now, but for him? The rush of being shot out of a Battlestar in a Viper is one of those things. It may be his first combat mission in twenty-plus years, but the extra adrenline rush is like a long-lost old friend. Ohhhh baby. Using his CAG's perogative, he takes his ship to join up with the lead Vipers.

[Into the Wireless] Niko says, "Flight Leaders, Scythe. You have the ball. Take it to the goal."

This won't be Melissa's first time getting shot at, but its the first time she will be launching live nuclear weapons. That's a little fabulous and she wants to grin all the way down to her Raptor, but she is careful to lock that up. Newp! When they finally get down and jumped, though, she's back looking serious. It settles in, just before they launch, they she's about to legitimately go to war — just like her mother did. It sobers her significantly. Looking out and ahead, she stares at the target past the ships and shakes her head. "I've seen prettier pieces of modern art. Ew." That's saying something for a hayseed.

Idris gives Niko a "Yes, sir." and otherwise his face is an unreadable mask. After their briefing, already in his flight suit, the Captain heads to the hangar bay with his people for preflight checks. As soon as they are cleared to launch, Captain Bloodfeather kicks his viper out in the order they are assigned. He immediately takes up his assigned position as the vipers begin to form up. His dark eyes look over the DRADIS and then he speaks over the wireless.

[Into the Wireless] Melissa says, "Copy, Scythe. Dood in position, pushing in. All Raptors, form threes on me, loose wedge. Out."

[Into the Wireless] Idris says, "Bloodfeather copies. Fawkes, you're my wingman. Diaz, you're with Scythe. We have Ghost's confirmation. Weapons hot and leading in, over."

The kick of explosive gasses flinging you in a flying dart at over 500 miles per hour never gets old as Garrett's Viper is expelled from the Orion shortly after Idris', the younger Viper pilot fall into near Bloodfeather's wing as the Lieutenant looks over the spacescape and gives a low whistle as his DRADIS is lit up with all of the multiple targets. His fingers flex against the stick as he almost bounces in his seat in anticipation as he reached over to tag the wireless and responds.

Sliding her viper into position with the others in the attack formation outlined by the CAG, Diaz's hands are steady on the control and the slightly chipper tone of voice that comes from her is only slightly less chipper when she chimes in on the coms. "Flight lead, Diaz; in position," while bringing her viper into alignment with Scythe. Diaz eyes the DRADIS as much as eyeballing the rest of the formation through the canopy before studying the target. "Well isn't than an ugly eyesore. Someone ought to blow it up for being aesthetically displeasing, for artistic reason alone."

[Into the Wireless] Garrett says, "Fawkes copies, Bloodfeather, on your wing, locked, cocked, and ready to rock."

Her mother is the last thing Ensign Ynyr's thinking of, as she lifts her raptor off the deck along with a scattering of other buses, and feeds her ship tylium to scuttle into formation. Having been bantering with her backseater all of thirty seconds ago, she immediately cuts the teasing and focuses on the task at hand. Don't frak up. Don't frak up. The broadside of the station is skimmed with pale, expressionless eyes behind her faceplate, but there's no comment on its aesthetics - or lack thereof.

[Into the Wireless] Shay says, "Doodle, Ynyr. on your five."

[Into the Wireless] Diaz says, "Flight lead, Diaz; in position. Well isn't than an ugly eyesore. Someone ought to blow it up for being aesthetically displeasing, for artistic reason alone.""

Gods, hearing that voice over the coms is eerie. Sure, Wescott's been on board for a little while, but that doesn't make it less frakking weird for Elena. She didn't want lead on this one. She wants to watch her baby ducks in action.

[Into the Wireless] Elena says, "Flight, Phalanx. Focus on the mission and save the artistic critique for later."

The rounds begin flying back and forth between the ships. All around the wing there are glowing rounds flashing across the sky at speeds great enough to streak the light, making most of them look like tracers. They can't see the fleet behind them but the Skath fleet's ships have a huge amount of guns and when they fire little section of the bron ships blink and light up for a brief second. The amount of ordnance flying around is instantly a little nerve wracking. But there's something else happening at the station. There are dozens of bright flashes over the dishes, all of them coming in rapid succession. Ten seconds and they're done, but it looked like probably some kind of important or emergency signal being sent out to dozens of locations. …Maybe the Skath just realized the Erfriki are back. That may be the case because the majority of the fighters wing off from aiming at the Arpay and begin diving towards the Colonials. 'Its as much a fear reaction as we can expect to see.' were the words of Admiral Fencer. There's something comfortable about knowing a potentilly undefeatable race of AI is scared of you. But the fighters are just passing into missile range for the Viper Mark II+ systems. Time to engage.

Idris is about to tell Diaz to cut the chatter but Phalanx is already on it. His squadron is already getting the sense that he no tolerance for non-essentual nonsense. A check that Fawkes is indeed where he's supposed to be and the rest of his wing has formed up, the throttle is pushed forward to send his viper boldly in the lead to escort the Raptors in. The cover is flipped off of his firing studs and his weapons made live, ready to use as they quickly close the distance. The Captain holds his fire, intent to close the distance and assess the firing possibilities as they come up on his HUD before he speaks once more.

[Into the Wireless] Idris says, "Strikes, Bloodfeather. Begin engagement! Make a hole for our Raptors, over."

Mels' voice is weird for Gloria too, however much she knew it was coming. It's only a momentary distraction though as she starts singing out enemy vectors and other useful information to Shay. "I'm picking up signals from the station," she calls as the dishes light up, "going to try and see if I can snag a recording for the egg-heads." There's some furious tapping at her console as she tries, then has to switch her concentration back to countermeasures and jamming as the fighters turn towards them.

With Idris calling out the orders, Fawkes gives his wings a quick waggle so that the dark paint scheme of the Viper is noticed by his wing for a moment before flipping the arming switches as the order is called out to make a hole for the Raptors. Chewing on the inside of his cheek, he fidgets a couple of more times, realizing the gravity of what they're doing - making the first shots of a new war. And then he grins. It's a good day to do it, at least.

[Into the Wireless] Garrett says, "Fawkes copies, Bloodfeather, missiles armed, waiting on your mark to fire, over."

[Into the Wireless] Idris says, "Strikes, Bloodfeather. Weapons free and full throttle. Engaging, over."

Niko squints at the HUD on this visor. The new Viper II+ system was almost information overload at first, but he's had a few years to adjust. His targeting DRADIS pings on one of the Skath fighters and then locks up with a solid tone. As soon as he hears Idris call 'weapons free' The CAG squeezes the trigger to launch his first missile. He is already lining up another shot when he keys the mic.

[Into the Wireless] Niko says, "Fox one! Diaz, Scythe. Stick close with me once we're engaged. When we're down to KEW, fire at my targets."

Cutting back on the artistic commentary, and really it's just a visual critique of the lack of same, Diaz does the smart thing and just shuts up, proving that indeed she does actually know better. Selecting the best weapon for the moment at hand has her running through options, quick scenarios and probabilities, while casting a quick check toward Scythe and the rest of the wing, along with constant sweep over the DRADIS display and back around again. One last flex of both hands and she's as settled as settled gets before actually opening fire, the initial offering of missiles to the intended target is away even as she's angling the viper subtly to keep in close formation with Scythe.

[Into the Wireless] Garrett says, "Fox one! Sticking with you, Bloodfeather. Let's scatter these wrecks!"

Melissa holds her position, letting the rest of the Raptors form on her. She only doubleclicks the mic to confirm things sent to her. Her ECO is in the back working on target locks. Gloved hands loosen and then rewrap her fingers on the stick and throttle. Her head only rocks gently with the Raptor's energy. Wide eyes stare out pst the projection on the inside of her helmet. Its war. She can't help but wonder about her mother, even as she is thinking about the squadrons behind her.

Two Skath Raiders explode into hurtling fireballs and that makes it official. The war is on one more time. The Machines probably never concerned themselves with such things until it was the Erfriki — who appear to have upgraded. There's another series of bright flashes from the FTL comm systems on the station moments after the two Raiders explode. There isn't much more time to watch the station for the Vipers, though. The craft are heading towards a merge and the enemy Raiders are lining up targets. Guns twinkle like stars in the sky and tracers being angrily flying across the sky.

<FS3> Gloria rolls Alertness: Good Success.

<FS3> Melissa rolls Alertness: Good Success.

<FS3> Elena rolls Alertness: Great Success.

Niko watches as the first salvo of missiles arcs out across the blackness of space and the explosions ripple across the front of the enemy formation. A good first shot, but there is still a sky full of Skath to clear out ahead. And then they're closing into range of the Machines' return fire. Here's where the real fun begins! Scythe lines up another target, choosing the first fighter he sees that's angled for one of the raptors. After a quick check of the HUD to make sure no one else is locking up that bandit and he launches a second AAM.

<FS3> Shay rolls Alertness: Failure.

And his first missile is away! Calm, cool, unruffled, Idris Bloodfeather plows right into his first combat action. Soon as he has a lock and it's fired, he pays the missile no more mind and keeps his attention on everything else. Where the enemies are heading, where his pilots are and what they are firing at, where the raptors are behind them. Even before his missile hits, his targeting system begins at once to try for another lock, going for anything focusing on the Gentleman Ghosts. Idris keeps it full throttle - Garrett is on his own for the moment. Raptor's first - that's their orders.

"I'm reading more comms," Gloria calls to Shay, "tryng to capture." She doesn't waste long on that effort though, before switching back to the fight at hand. "Looks like we've picked up a Skath," she notes, working on jamming them." And then she does just that, tapping away furiously at the screen infront of her as missles start to fly.

[Into the Wireless] Idris says, "Strikes, Bloodfeather. Keep on anything that goes for the Raptors. Mission focus, over."

"Zeus' balls, I nailed one!" Garrett seems utterly surprised, considering where he saw the track of his missile heading as he turns his attention back to his DRADIS as he starts hearing the warning chime of targetting computers. "Frak.." he murmurs, finding himself under the gun as he brings up the HUD to try to press a missile through at one of the wounded Raiders diving in at Doodle's Raptor as he momentarily pours on the speed to avoid the incoming fire.

Melissa notices that there seems to be a lot of tracer fire heading her direction. Being lead, well, she can't exactly go flying off and losing everyone. Nope, she steels herself and fights the urge to break away and scatter the Raptors everywhere. Determined to not set that example on her first chance to leap, she whiteknuckles the throttle and shoves it up.

[Into the Wireless] Garrett says, "Flight, Fawkes. Frak, two on me.. aiming for the left on Doodle, someone nail the vulture on the right!"

"What? I didn't-" Shay checks a second time, and indeed, Gloria's right. "Got it," she confirms. "Looks like it's still on us, I'll try to shake it, but keep hammering on it, yeah?" She may not like discussing her mother, but she sure flies like her. A lot less sophistication and skill, but the gumption is the same. She maintains formation though, the raptor's antennae blinking as countermeasures are deployed.

Cycling her way through the firing solutions that are presented, Diaz selects the second of the missiles that she's carrying and sends the next round. Keeping an eye on the Raptors as well has her time sharing her attention span rather neatly, absently tipping her head in time to a rhythm that only she can hear, call it music in her head in the middle of combat. Music she knows better than to pipe into her actual helmet.

[Into the Wireless] Elena says, "Raptors, Lanx. Hate to do this, Doodle, but Raptors on me. If we fly fast and tight we can get through, nuke 'em to hell and jump out. Trust the Vipers to keep them off of us and fly smart. Here we go."

[Into the Wireless] Shay says, "Doodle, Ynyr, you've got two bogeys on you. I- copy that, Phalanx. Breaking formation and coming in on your seven."

[Into the Wireless] Melissa says, "Copy, Lanx. You have the lead. Forming up on you."

The starry black expanse is a dazzling sight. Ships on both sides engaged in flight that the naked eye can hardly keep track of. Tracks of light flickers back and forthin quick succession while missiles leave slower, more continuous trails until they detonate. Bright flashes briefly followed by sparkles of expanding debris, all in silent display but for the crackle of radio coms. Idris gets another missile lock and lets it loose, music in his cockpit cued up to swell in cresendo beneath the bleep of alarms and the voices of the other pilots in combat.

[Into the Wireless] Idris says, "Fawkes, Bloodfeather copies. Evasive manuvers and stay on target, over."

[Into the Wireless] Garrett says, "Bloodfeather, Fawkes. Copy that, juking and dodging, going to try to clean up Doodle."

The fight is getting closer to the enemy ships which means that the amount of firepower is growing. The battle is getting hotter and more extreme as they push through towards the enemy garrison fleet. But the Vipers may start to see where the Raptors are headed — there looks to be an area about 100 to 150 meters wide and growing where the Raptors have a clear shot right at the enemy station. They just have to get into the slot and fire everything. Its narrow and dangerous that close to a number of flak guns, but that seems to be the easiest way to do it. Going around really isn't an option.

[Into the Wireless] Garrett says, "Bloodfeather, Fawkes. See a pair going after Ynyr, lets encourage them against it?"

[Into the Wireless] Niko says, "Diaz, Scythe. You're clear. Get in there and cover to busses. I'll be with you in a sec."

Niko calls out to his wingman on the wireless, giving Diaz the lead while he deals with a complication — otherwise known as a Skath on his six. Scythe jukes his Viper and then pivots using the MCS before firing his thrusters. It's a hard delta vee that would have blacked out any pilot in the Second War models. But not now. And in the middle of this manuever, he gets off a fleeting snap shot at one of the other bandits flashing past him on its way to chase the Raptors.

Swapping from the missile rack to the energy weapons that levels the dance up from an exchange of strong words and thrown weapons to the next level of offered violence, Diaz's head continues to angle subtly within her helmet while peeling away from Scythe. "Scythe, Diaz, copy that," and angles toward the Raptors, weapons hot.

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

With the second missile away, Garrett realizes that they're getting in the middle of the furball. Seeing a pair of Raiders trying to close the gap upon Shay's Raptor, Garrett sings out to his wing man, even as he's rolling and pivoting through enemy fire - and probably the reason why the two raiders are closing in on Shay in the first place, since they're finding him a pain in the ass target, and she's got a much larger profile to take up. Trying to turn the tables and bring up a targetting solution, but finds the missiles are too close as he throws the weapons selector over to KEW to start to try to chew up one of the Skathe before it can nail Shay's bus, streaking past her right side as he fires.

Shay's heart starts to pound a tympanic rhythm, adrenaline coursing through her as she finally sights the target by eye. The fact that this is actually happening might just be dawning on her. "Looks like we picked up another friend," she tells Gloria over her shoulder. "Wanna give them something to remember us by?" The raptor lumbers along its trajectory, briefly flinching as she starts - by reflex - to take more bold evasive maneuvers, then remembers they are to remain in formation. Complete the mission. Don't die. Her gloved fingertips trail over the weapons console, reminding herself of where the EMRU firing switches are.

"Looks like we're popular," Gloriia notes to Shay, "two bandits closing in." Uncertaion how effective she's being she frowns slightly, unconciously leaning forwards a fraction into her seat straps so she can peer closer at the screen. "Attempting to jam what I can," damn it was so much easoer teaching this stuff to nuggets.

[Into the Wireless] Shay says, "Flight, Ynyr. Two on me, could use a hand here."

[Into the Wireless] Garrett says, "Ynyr, Fawkes, coming across on your right!"

[Into the Wireless] Elena says, "Ynyr, Lanx. Breathe and do what you need to do. You've got this, Ensign."

[Into the Wireless] Shay says, "Phalanx, Ynyr copies."

[Into the Wireless] Shay says, "Much appreciated, Fawkes."

Idris hears Fawkes but sees Phalanx has a bogie coming at her and nobody giving her protection. He throws the stick over to port and twists his viper around hard t see what he can do to keep her clear. Only belatedly does he glance around his HUD to see what Garrett's talking about. Yeessssss, these new airframes are sweet, and so much more responsive! Bloodfeather keeps tabs on the condition of his pilots and the Raptor formation, but he frowns at the flak the station is throwing at them.

[Into the Wireless] Idris says, "Fawkes, Bloodfeather copies. I'm already on one going for Phalanx. I'll get over there in a second. Watch out for those flak guns, over!"

[Into the Wireless] Garrett says, "Fawkes copes, trying not to get hit! I'll stay with Ynur, makes sure she drops off her package and keep her clean. Be back to you in a second, Bloodfeather!"

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

[Into the Wireless] Diaz says, "Doodle, Diaz. Trying to keep the heat off of you. Flight, Diaz, minor damage to right wing. Compensating adequately."

As Garrett comes screaming across Shay's starboard side, his KEW rounds chew through the Raider's wing, sending up a shower of sparks and breaking off the attack as the remaining Raider continues to try to dog Shay on her way to the target. Swinging around, Garrett is nearly thrown against the restraints as he fires the thrusters to force him around and come chasing after the remaining Raider on Shay, biting on his lower lip as he tries to line up the target to open fire.

<FS3> Melissa rolls Piloting-2: Success.

Giving a careful, if experimental, side to side wiggle of the Viper to determine it's response time still falls well withing accepted parameters, Diaz remains in close quarters with Doodle's raptor, to the best of her ability while exchanging weapons fire with the incoming raiders. The music in her head has already swapped to some soaring aria that she is still tipping her head along in time with.

[Into the Wireless] Melissa says, "Thanks Diaz, I'm not sure why I'm so popular."

[Into the Wireless] Elena says, "It's your butt."

Niko's snap shot cuts the wing off one of the fighters and it goes whirling off into space, wildly out of control and ripping itself apart. The CAG continues his burn and brings his Viper around, rejoining with Diaz. Picking up a pair of bandits vectoring after his wingman, he makes a quick call to warn her, but he keeps his own focus on protecting the Raptors for now.

[Into the Wireless] Niko says, "Diaz, watch your six. Two on you."

Heron instantly regrets her com chatter, but also kind of doesn't. Eyes and instruments focused on that gap in the ships ahead, she continues the charge.

[Into the Wireless] Diaz says, "Scythe, Diaz, copy that. Maneuvering."

Despite having attracted not one, but two raiders intent on sending her bus to the scrap heap, Shay manages to juke the second before they simultaneously fire, and drag the raptor's belly up in an abrupt wing waggle that briefly exposes its underside bristling with rack-mounted warheads. Then Garrett comes screaming past like a bat out of hades, in typical viper style, and there miiiight be a little roll of her eyes as she readjusts to slot back into formation. "Looks like you shut him down pretty good," she calls over her shoulder, with a grin for Gloria.

A quick glance is aimed at the DRADIS screen and, while maintaining her proximity to Doodle, Diaz begins to dodge and jimmy the viper from left to right again, varying the flight path while burning even more fuel to maintain relative position.

[Into the Wireless] Shay says, "Definitely her butt. Doodle, Ynyr, you've got two on yours again, speaking of butts."

Melissa flinches as the rounds impact across the armor. Ow. She maneuvers a little more to stick into a loose formation with Elena, but the Raiders sure as hell seem to have it out for her. Maybe they met mom or something. The reply from Elena and Shay does make her laugh in her helmet, though. "Good to know the gym has paid off. They have good taste," she says to her ECO, but keeps it off the main radio. There's a quick glance to the side and out of the glass to see the Raiders coming back around on her. Lovely.

[Into the Wireless] Garrett says, "Ynyr, Fawkes. Speaking of butts, you still have a dingleberry of scat on yours. Trying to wipe it off."

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

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

Idris hits the enemy that was going for Elena and manages to help keep it distracted. He cranes his head around and changes position to link back up with his wingman so they can regroup and return to working as a pair, no longer separated. The Captain can see Shay's craft has taken light damage but isn't serious. He sees Garrett going after one raider and Idris quietly peels after the other, reducing speed slightly but getting in close as he can to use the KEW. There is a lot going on to keep track off and it's happening very fast. His breaking off to change engagement leaves Melissa open for the moment as his former target goes after her.

[Into the Wireless] Idris says, "Fawkes, Bloodfeather. I'm here. Keep it frosty, over."

The Raptors head for the slot and the view towards the other side is momentarily obscured as the Skath ships begin focus-fire on the tight area. Maybe it was done on purpose to try and lure the Raptors into a killzone. It only works partially. The vast majority of the Raptors on the attack start taking flak hits and start peeling off quickly, unable to push through - or just unwilling. Most of the crew has never seen actual combat and this is a lot for some people to try and handle their first time out. But with Elena in the lead, Shay and Melissa on either side, the Raptors have their engines firewalled and get out in front of the flak, Melissa's right engine trailing just a smidge of blue smoke from a light oil leak. For the Vipers, there isn't much they can do to get down that close. Their armor was never built to withstand that kind of intensive fire. But for the Raptors coming out the other side of the flak, it suddenly clears for them and they're looking at a wide open target.

Elena manages to make it through the flak with only minimal damage to her Raptor. Her ECO has the FTL spooled up and ready to go, her nukes are just a button-press away.

[Into the Wireless] Elena says, "Raptor flight, Lanx. Sing out your status after all that flak — everyone set to jump after the salvo?"

Gloria isn't quite gripping the edge of her consle throught that flak, but there might just be the odd prayer to Zeus going on in the back of Shay's bird. Once it becomes clear just how close they are to target though she calls out, "spooling FTL, rendeavous cordinates locked. We'll be ready ot jump my next mark."

Tracer rounds from Niko's KEW riddle the cockpit of a Skath fighter who was too intent on bagging a Raptor to avoid the Viper on its own tail. There's a quick check on his wingman, and the CAG breathes out a greatful prayer to see Diaz is still flying. "Gods damn." Clear for a second, he takes a look at the HUD. There's a moment of irritation when he sees what the Machines have done, and many of the busses breaking off. Frak. But at least some of the Raptors are still on target, and that makes it now or never time.

[Into the Wireless] Niko says, "tac1 Wing this is Scythe. Strike is in hot, everyone else, best speed back to the barn. Reserve squadron, engage to cover the withdrawal."

[Into the Wireless] Elena says, "Clarifying: nuke and get out. Sing out if there's a problem."

Elena gets her head straight. She's a DCAG today, not a mom.

Idris's viper is hit - not a bad hit but it's gotten at his engine and his craft is suddenly spewing sparks and venting gasses. At once he can feel the difference in the handling as Betty Bitches her alarms. His gloved hand moves to lock down what he can and mute the alarm to give his attention to other things even as the engine stats flash on his consule. The Raptors dive into the heat of the flak fire and the Captain finds he's got two bogies angling on him, trying to target him. He bares his teeth but stays on his own target to try and keep one more raider too busy to blow a raptor.

Melissa's Raptor punches throug hthe flak and she hoots happily into her helmet, surprising her ECO. "GodsDAMN," she laughs, high on the adrenaline. But seeing the target, she reaches down and arms the nukes. "Master Arm on. Nuclear release authorized. Frakkin firing!" Its a LOT to try and take in all at once. She's firing nukes at Machines. How the tables have turned. She grins, "Missiles away, be ready to jump in three, two.."

Tearing away from Shay as she makes it to the gap, Garrett offers a waggle of his wings as he leaves her to deliver the package, racing to rejoin the wing of Captain Bloodfeather as he looks behind him. Seeing the hit on his wingman, the Lieutenant winces. Frak, that one's on him. But he's working on taking the other Raider trying to follow the DCAG to the gap as he pours on the KEW fire.

[Into the Wireless] Idris says, "Strikes, Bloodfeather. Keep the bogies off of our raptors! Buy them every second we can. Don't let up the heat!"

Pulling back to execute a hard right, Diaz's viper banks in a hard turn as she angles away from Doodle and the rest of the Raptors as they punch through the screen to the target. She spreads a volley of weapons fire around as she makes the turn, aiming as quickly as the firing solutions become available. Many hands, light work.

"Better hold on tight," Shay tells her backseater with a surprising amount of calm. "Things are about to get bumpy." The other two, far more experienced pilots firewall their thrusters and she follows suit in almost perfect synchrony, the trio of raptors slipping into the flak field like the airborne tanks they are. And true to her word, the hits begin almost immediately: soft patters and then thunks and clangs as chunks of wing and flank are pitted away by the beating they're taking. Her windscreen paints an even starker picture, and when it clears.. they're miraculously in one piece. "Master arm on." Her voice shakes slightly, but she goes through the motions. "Nuclear release authorised. Prep FTL in three, Oates. And fire… firing."

Even with protective eyewear and fancy coating on the Raptor's canopy, Elena still has to shield her eyes as she watches the nukes hit home. She lingers for just a moment to watch the explosion before they jump away. Best sight in the universe.

The Raptors jump away just as the nukes start detonating. The triple flashes along the hull signal the detonation of ten megaton nuclear weapons. The bright flashes are enough to blind a little bit, but the face shields protect the pilot's vision through filters. The whole station seems enveloped by the thermal ball from each detonation, but when the thermals fade away the station can still be seen. Sort of. The whole structure is bent and it looks horribly disfigured. Flames are venting from the whole length for a moment before it disappears in a much larger flash. The thing seems to explode from some internal light, perhaps the highly enriched fuel for the engines that keep it in place. Munitions? Who knows. It explodes from the rear, moving forward in a growing flash that rises and falls like a wave down the length. When its all said and done the comm relay comes apart and in moments is just ten million pieces of slagged junk incapable of transmitting nothing but the loss.

[Into the Wireless] Niko says, "Orion Actual, Sycthe. Mission accomplished. Returning to base. Wing, Scythe. Make a road for home, people. Time to bug out before we get more company."

Angling away from the comm relay station, in advance of the actual deployment of the nukes themselves, Diaz turns slightly so that she can watch the explosion from this angle. The call to RTB has her maneuvering to do precisely that, burning fuel to accomplish this and keeping a weather eye on the DRADIS to make sure the road is clear, taking random shots at the Raiders in the way along the way.

The flashes of the nukes go off and Idris is already turning his viper away. He is about to order the vipers to RTB when hears Niko speaking into the coms so he acknowledges instead. Debris at once begins to bloom outwards from the station and looking back, he can see how it looks bent. The Captain pushes his thrust as he sees the Raptors have all jumped away and they have orders to bug out. Two of them come at him, one from behind and another trying to cut off his escape. Bloodfeather grits his teeth, "No you don't. I'm punching out."

With the Raiders away, it's time for the Vipers to fight their own way back to Orion as Fawkes comes back to Idris' wing. Noticing the two Raiders trying to jump his wounded bird, Garrett frowns, tapping the comms to transmit as he lowers his speed and adjusts to change his combat angle to move to try to intercede between the attacking Raiders and the Captain.

[Into the Wireless] Garrett says, "Bloodfeather, Fawkes, moving to intercept - I see them."

[Into the Wireless] Idris says, "Scythe, Bloodfeather copies. I've got two coming at me. My engine's hit, over."

"I did that." Melissa beams a proud smile at the exploding station from the jump site by the Orion. "That's sooo frickin cooooool. Oh my Gods, GG would love this." Watching it all come apart she wiggles her rear in the ejection seat, doing a cha-cha complete with snapping fingers. "Chachachacha- CHA! Whose the girl with two snappin fingers and a need for RTB? This gal!" It may not be on the radio, but its recorded on her gun camera footage and her ECO can definitely hear it. Turning back, she flies her ship towards the flight deck.

And now it's time to try and cut their way out of this mess. Niko slews his Viper around and burns hard, nose pointing back toward the Fleet. Checking on Diaz, he adjusts course so they're in the same ballpark. He's thinking of giving her a hand in with the fighter she's facing off with, but then he hears Idris on the comm. He can see the damage from the engine on the other man's Viper and changes course to try and assist.

[Into the Wireless] Niko says, "Diaz, I'm giving Bloodfeather a hand. Watch your back."

[Into the Wireless] Diaz says, "Flight, Diaz, copy that. Changing targets! maneuvering to evade!"

Diaz lifts her hands away from the control panel as alarms blare, a brief spark and bit of smoke begins to curl on the inside of the cockpit. Were it not for the helmet, Diaz would be 'enjoying' the smell of over heating plastics and other noxious things. Instead, she just imagines that she can smell it; lets hear it for redundancy when it comes to wiring of imagination tied to olfactory senses. Once the spark is suppressed and she's as certain as possible that nothing else is going to catch fire (or has enough oxygen to do so) she's bringing the Viper in for a combat landing.

Garrett stays on Idris' wing, watching him all the way through the landing process as the pilot turns for a second pass after making sure the Captain's down and safe as one of the last of the first wave Vipers to return to base, leaving the honor of last one home to the CAG, of course.

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

Idris does his best to evade and dodge the incoming bogies but his engines aren't able to give him full thrust. The others give him cover and he's still hit, his viper's nose riping apart in flight and sheeting off metal. It dosen't take his canopy with it and somehow he's stll under power. Captain Bloodfeather isn't going to admit it but he probably just shat himself. Somehow he keeps his wits and keeps pushing his craft until he's able to get free with the help of his squadron and CAG. It's a pretty frakked viper the Captain limps back to the Orion but he's alive.

Once Bloodfeather makes it back it's a very tense landing. He waits until he's given the go ahead and then makes the attempt to bring in his viper - by luck or skill, he doesn't splatter himself or anyone else.

[Into the Wireless] Garrett says, "Orion Actual, Fawkes. Have firefighting and rescue teams on standby, Captain Bloodfeather's bird is pretty frakked."

Once Bloodfeather has gotten his Viper down, Garrett lets out a small sigh of relief, before he moves to follow his own path into the queue to land, and get his Viper secured. "She took a nick to the weapons, may want to make a note of that." he reminds himself as he brings his Viper in to the hangar deck to deplane and go throgh the post-flight checklist.

[Into the Wireless] Niko says, "Orion Actual, this is Scythe. All birds aboard, ready for jump!"

Niko makes a pass at one of the bandits dogging Idris, finishing off the limping Skath that someone else had bloodied. Bloodfeather may be hit, but he's still flying and looks like he can make it back, so the CAG turns his attention to herding the cats home. And once they're all down and he's made a quick count, he calls out their status to the Orion.

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