AWD #457: Stop that Predator
Stop that Predator!
Summary: An Ensign CAP from Orion mixes it up with APF Vipers and Predators over Aerilon.
Date: 21/Sept/2016
Related Logs: None
Agrippa Alastair Bennett Buchanan 
Elena Niko Pearson 
Aerilon Skies
The Skies Above Aerilon
AWD #457

Aerilon. With the Allied Planetary Forces making their grand debut and battling the local resistance in the same equipment that the Colonials themselves have been using, it's been a clusterfrak at times of who is leading whom and who is shooting at what. As the Flattop Kalvin Odditis jumps into Aerilon orbit to drop off the patrol flight of Ensigns, the flight of four Vipers and a Raptor have been on CAP most of the day. The lead Viper, Lt. Johnson of the Aerilon Air Forces, callsign Leapfrog, has been taking the Vipers through their paces as what has been mostly a normal patrol for the war. No engagements so far.

As the sun starts to fade into the western horizon, there's only twenty minutes left on their duties before they return to the Flattop and then a ride home back to Orion just in time for chow. The Raptor has been filming the footage of the Vipers so that it can be used for training later, as Alastair is leaned back in his ECO console. The older ECO considers for a moment and then keys the radio. "So patrol.. what do you miss most about home?" he asks to strike up some conversation.

With the mission clock ticking steadily downward, Pearson - call sign 'Spud' - holds her place in formation while curbing her natural enthusiasm and inclination to jimmy the stick a bit and make the viper wiggle as she pops her ears, working her jaw, fighting of all things a yawn. Eyes are squinted, head tipping inside the helmet. "Delivery service, dry cleaning and 24/7 shops that have a good supply of chocolate," she calls into the com, without even having to think on it.

Niko "Pony" Janik has done this patrol by the numbers, at least as told by his flying and occassional wireless call. His constant foot and finger tapping in teh cockpit are his own private way to blow of nervous energy and stay focused. His third trip to Aerilon has proved to be the least eventful, so far. But it's still a war zone, and there's no time to relax and enjoy the scenery, beautiful though the view may be from on high. "Saturday nights," is his contribution to the wireless chatter. Can someone that young feel nostalgia? It sure sounds like it.

Elena turns back to grin at her backseater, before singing out over the coms, "Sleeping in," she adds to the conversation.

Probably maybe the only jock in the flight that's slightly reluctant to be heading home already, Buchanan keeps her Viper in formation, sharp eyes scanning, flipping between her screens and the skies, cool and alert. She doesn't answer the question straight away, maybe thinking it over, or just letting everyone else respond first. "Having my own room." Is SLAG's toneless contribution.

"Me, I miss a good scotch, and a filet mignot with a beautiful woman in a little black dress. Interested, Spud? Maybe we can bake you later." Alastair comments with a teasing tone as he gives Elena a wink, the backseater still relaxed in the ECO chair. As the flight continues to the fifteen minute mark, the radio buzzes, "Orion CAP, Leapfrog. I'm heading home for the night. Have a safe vector back to Orion. Leapfrog out." The lead Viper peels off, leaving the remaining Vipers and Raptor in flight alone to continue the trip back to the Flattop alone.

Niko lets his laugh go out over the wireless when he hears what Trap has to say, then he waggles his wings in farewell to the Aerilon Lieutenant. "Leapfrog, Pony. Happy landings." Then he takes a deep breath before keying the wireless again. "Flight, Pony. Back to the barn."

"Dunno, Trap. . how do you look in a little black dress and heels?" Spud's reply is said in a tone that conveys humor that can be heard, while not seen, though she's wearing a grin all the same. This time she does give a little jimmy of the controls, making the viper pitch subtly from side to side before she sobers. "Flight, Spud, copy that. RTB."

"Flight, SLAG, copy. RTB." Buchanan drops out of the conversational chatter, focusing instead on her flying. And just because they're heading home, doesn't mean she drops her guard, watching the skies above and below, as well as keeping an eye on her screens.

"Spud, if you can make me a rare filet and find a twenty year old Virgon scotch, I will make even those Caprican women blush with how I can rock an LBD and heels." Alastair responds, starting to say more when the radio goes off.

«Orion Cap, Aerilon Air Actual. We have a flight of six unknowns on a chromo of sixty-five mark two, at fifteen hundered kilometers off your two o'clock. They're not responding to radio, IFF identifies as friendlies. Verify and report, over.»

On DRADIS, four small blips and two larger ones show up just on the outside right hand corner of the screen.

Pearson flicks one fingertip at the DRADIS screen and checks the display again, old habit as much as anything else has her making sure the equipment is functioning properly. JIC (Just In Case). "Flight, Spud, counting six bogies on DRADIS, are we supposed to have company out here, over?"

Great. They could have just flown back to the Flat Top, but no. Niko takes a second to think things over, then the kid keys his wireless. «Aerilon Air, Orion Cap. Roger that.» And then back over to their flight frequency to transmit again. "Flight, Pony. Aerilon Actual just asked us to go have a look. Follow me. Trap, see if you can raise them or figure out if they're APF, or whatever." As soon as the communication is done, he starts to ease his Viper into a turn, getting onto an intercept vector for those new contacts.

Well, that certainly livens things up a little. "Pony, SLAG. Copy that." The Scorpian actually sounds just a little bit too cheerful. Well, compared to her usual tonelessness. Following Niko's lead, Buchanan starts to bring her Viper 'round making sure to stay in formation. Though the bogies, or whatever they are, are still some distance out, she's scanning the skies obsessively, as well as monitoring her screens.

"Pony, Cherry. Copy." The Raptor pilot sounds a little disappointed to have her homecoming delayed, but she follows orders and flies the bird along with the Raptors to investigate the DRADIS blips.

<FS3> Alastair rolls ECM: Good Success.
<FS3> Pearson rolls Alertness: Failure.
<FS3> Elena rolls Alertness: Good Success.
<FS3> Niko rolls Alertness: Failure.
<FS3> Buchanan rolls Alertness: Great Success.

"Pony, Trap copies." Alastair says as he turns to his ECO console and starts to bring up the DRADIS contacts. After a few moments, he shakes his head. "No joy, Pony. We're going to need to make visual identification." he reports.

The flight is at 20,000 feet, the four Vipers framing a pair of Predators. The Orion flight was at 35,000 feet, and as the two near a point of intersection, it appears that the Aerilon flight has the advantage as the Vipers break off from the Predators to climb towards the Orion CAP.

"Cherry, Trap. There's a supply depot that's south of here that they're going to intersect with in five minutes."

"Of course we're going to go take a look," Pearson mutters to herself in the relative privacy bubble of her helmet, one hand kept clear of the com as she eyes the DRADIS display again while guiding the Viper around with the rest of the flight. Maintaining her position to the left and back of Pony, Spud continues to eye the air space and the beads of moisture that condense on the canopy of the viper itself. She keys the com open again on her end to speak, "Flight, Spud. Whose hands is the supply depot in, at this point? Over."

Peering hard at her DRADIS, the skies ahead, then back, Buchanan shakes her head slowly inside her helmet and her low voice comes over the comms, "Flight, SLAG. They're on an attack vector." She doesn't sound too worried. But then, she seldom sounds much of anything.

"Flight, Cherry. They're not responding to hails and… that's really not a formation, is it?" Cherry eyes the haphazard cluster of birds, keeping the bus in steady formation with the Vipers.

"Frak," Niko grouses to himself, squinting out DRADIS as if the blips there are going to give him some clue as to who is who. "Cherry, hang back, jump clear if you have to. Vipers, follow me." He hits his burners and brings his own Viper into a climbing turn, forcing the climbing 'enemy' to burn more energy if they're going to continue on an intercept. Then he tries one last time, in the clear on the emergency band wireless. "Viper flight at my one o'clock low, angles two six. This is Orion Cap lead. Break off or get bounced. Out."

Flight, Spud, copy that, moving to engage," Spud's voice, despite her clown car call sign, is level and oddly unruffled as she follows the young flight lead toward the incoming flight. She scans the DRADIS constantly, searing for the faintest of pings, the briefest of shadows, anything that'd indicate that this random flight is a precursor to a more serious vanguard of an incoming wing.

On the deck of the Flattop Kevin Orddits, a single Viper is brought into launch position. «Punchdrunk, Orion CAP. CAP Flight is under attack, request assistance, over.»

Meanwhile, in the skies above Aerilon, the Vipers start to mix it up with each other. There's no response from the four Vipers, just the craft moving into attack position, the KEWs on them starting to come to life as the Predators turn on surpression to try to keep the Orion's Vipers off them as they drop lower from the combat to start on a bombing run on the supply depot.

"Flight, Cherry. Is there anyone even flying those things? Over."

Alert Five is usually boring and uneventful, but this time, Agrippa won't be given the chance to nap through another session. When the comm lights up with the call for him to scramble, he is already fully alert, answering Orion CAP, «Orion CAP, Punchdrunk, affirmative. Launching and reinforcing!» With that said, the catapult of the Flattop propels the Viper into space, the G-force pressing the pilot firmly back into his seat. Once in space, his own engines kick in, burning brightly as Agrippa maneuvers into an intercept vector of CAP Flight's location.

"Flight, Pony. Frak if I know. Break and attack!" Niko makes the call when the incoming ships don't respond or deviate. He hits the MCS thrusters on his own craft hard, jinking right as he targets one of the climbing Vipers and tries to squeeze of a shot before they pass head on.

"Hell if I know, Cherry, I can't see frak from here, you could always ask if they're interested in some cosmetics." Alastair calls out as he starts to power up his systems. "We have one on us, Cherry, trying to surpress, show me how you dance, girl!"

Buchanan brings her Viper up, pushing to intercept the bad guys, targeting one and hopefully hitting it before she shoots past, already coming around, hopefully not getting hit, herself, as she scans her screens and the skies.

<COMBAT> Predator2 suppresses Agrippa with ECM. <unsuccessful>
<COMBAT> Pearson attacks Predator1 with KEW and MISSES!
<COMBAT> Predator1 suppresses Pearson with ECM. <unsuccessful>
<COMBAT> Jester attacks Niko with KEW but MISSES!
<COMBAT> Buchanan attacks Snakebite with KEW and MISSES!
<COMBAT> Alastair suppresses Warlock with ECM. <successful>
<COMBAT> Warlock attacks Elena with KEW - Serious wound to Engine (Reduced by Armor).
<COMBAT> Snakebite attacks Buchanan with KEW and MISSES!
<COMBAT> Niko attacks Warlock with KEW - Light wound to Body (Reduced by Armor).
<COMBAT> Elena passes.
<COMBAT> Agrippa passes.
<COMBAT> Iceman attacks Pearson with KEW and MISSES!
<COMBAT> Alastair has started a new turn. Pose and choose your action.
<COMBAT> Raptor-5343r has been KO'd!
<COMBAT> Elena has been KO'd!
<COMBAT> Alastair has been KO'd!
<COMBAT> Alastair spends a luck point to keep fighting!
<COMBAT> Elena spends a luck point to keep fighting!

The flights jump on each other, mixing it up in the skies above Aerilon. Most of their shots are crisscrossing each other, however, one of the engines on the Raptor is torn into and Alastair calls out, "Flight, Trap, we have a serious engine fire! Cherry, get us some height, I'm spooling FTL, I'll try to keep that damn Viper off of us!" he reports as he's already starting firefighting techniques.

Cherry starts flying evasive maneuvers. "Trap, you know I'm the prettiest ballerina," she says… just as the right side of the Raptor gets blasted. There's fire. It's great. She sings out over the com, "Flight, Cherry, I'm hit I'm hit I'm hit," she says frantically, trying to keep the flaming, punctured bird in the air. "Trap, can you… oh. Thanks."

Buchanan fights to put a bit of distance between her and the bogies, to get a better look at the situation, make a better call. She brings her Viper 'round, as Cherry's voice comes over the comms. Then it's all about keeping the enemy off the damaged Raptor and she lines up another shot.

Niko's first burst scores a few hits on the enemy Viper, but not before it shoots up their bus. He rolls his own ship and turns hard, fighting the atmo and the gees to try and come around onto the tail of the guy shooting at Cherry and Trap. Whether he can do this in time is doubtful. "Cheery, Pony. Jump out!"

As Agrippa punches through the atmosphere, he gets a better reading on where the furball is occurring and immediately kicks his afterburner to full, each second that passes puts the distance between himself and Nugget Flight closer and closer. As he closes in, his DRADIS with the IFF transponders helps him differentiate between fiend and foe. Seeing the Raptor take a bad hit to engines, with smoke coming out of it, Punchdrunk quickly calls out in the comm, «Flight, Punchdrunk, your Alert-Five has arrived! Cherry, I'm on that bandit on your six! Pony, let's vape this frakker.»

Focusing on the incoming weapons fire and the spray of rounds that slice through the air with chasing bursts to indicate trajectory, Pearson jukes the Viper in a tight spin, evading the weapons fire that slices toward her and, equally, returning fire that also skims past her intended target. Round one, scratch to both herself and the ones taking aim at her. A quick snap roll allows the Viper to avoid the second burst of enemy fire, seeing that burst streaking past her Viper at an uncomfortably close angle. "Flight, Spud, concentrating on enemy vipers, over," fighting the adrenaline rush and the gift of gab that combat imparts.

<COMBAT> Predator2 suppresses Agrippa with ECM. <successful>
<COMBAT> Buchanan attacks Snakebite with KEW - Serious wound to Body (Reduced by Armor).
<COMBAT> Agrippa attacks Warlock with KEW - Critical wound to Cockpit.
<COMBAT> CREW HIT! Warlock - Critical wound to Abdomen.
<COMBAT> Iceman attacks Pearson with KEW and MISSES!
<COMBAT> Elena passes.
<COMBAT> Snakebite attacks Buchanan with KEW and MISSES!
<COMBAT> Predator1 suppresses Pearson with ECM. <successful>
<COMBAT> Pearson attacks Predator1 with KEW and MISSES!
<COMBAT> Jester attacks Niko with KEW but MISSES!
<COMBAT> Warlock attacks Elena with KEW and MISSES!
<COMBAT> Niko attacks Warlock with KEW - Moderate wound to Cockpit.
<COMBAT> Alastair suppresses Warlock with ECM. <successful>
<COMBAT> Alastair suppresses Snakebite with ECM. <unsuccessful>
<COMBAT> Alastair has started a new turn. Pose and choose your action.
<COMBAT> Warlock has been KO'd!

Warlock is jumped by two Vipers, and their shots shred through the cockpit, ripping it to shreds and turning the pilot into a fine red mist before the Viper rolls over lazily, and with no cockpit, tumbles out of control through the air to head for the ground to explode below. The other Vipers continue their engagement, though one breaks off to chase after Pearson who has gone off by herself to chase after the Predators that are still on their attack run.

Alastair sings out. "We shook our dingleberry, Cherry! Thanks for the backup, I didn't think I had that sweet an ass though, gentlement." Trap reports as he goes back to trying to countermeasure the Predators that are trying to keep them surpressed. "Try to keep us in the fight, Cherry, they're going to need our help."

Rolling, turning, and burning, Niko weaves to avoid the viper on his six while sticking on the one chasing the raptor. Half way through a turn he gets a shot and puts a good burst of KEW into his target, just as Punchdrunk zooms through and riddles the enemy viper's cockpit. «Nice shooting Punch!» The then Niko twists in the cockpit, trying to get eyes on his pursuer. He hammers the afterburner and goes vertical, then chops the power and flares the MCS, shedding airspeed and trying to make the guy overshoot. «Flight, Pony. Anyone who's clean, get those preds.»

A soft grunt from Buchanan as her shots hit home, leaving her target smoking and staggering, just a bit. Hidden in the confines of her helmet, she allows herself a brief grin. Though that disappears soon enough because there's still enemy targets in the sky and that one in particular is going to have to go before she can focus on the others.

The steep angle of attack that is offered to Agrippa due to his late arrival gives the more veteran fighter pilot an easy and clear shot. Projectiles rain down on the unsuspecting Viper pilot as Punchdrunk's autocannons roar to life, belching out shot after shot that tears into the canopy of the hostile Viper. The first couple of shots shatters the canopy itself while pasting the pilot, the rest decapicates the head section of the craft send it plummeting down to the ground. It appears that this Orion Viper Jock offers no mercy to traitors, a clear headhunter when it comes to either Cylons or humans. Scanning the area visually, Agrippa is already looking for the next target. He knows that the Predators are not a threat to them, the Vipers are so those are a priority.

With one of the enemy Vipers peeling off to engage Pearson, Punchdrunk's next target is clear. Pulling back hard on his flightstick, Agrippa begins gaining altitude again as he banks towards the fighter chasing after Spud. Instead of just moving directly behind the enemy Viper, the Lucky Strikes pilot gains even more altitude before inverting himself and pulling back on the stick, allowing him a quick pass on the enemy Viper's cockpit section.

[Into the Wireless] Agrippa says, "Spud, Punchdrunk, you have one directly on your six, break right, hard!"
[Into the Wireless] Pearson says, "Tell me something I don't know, Trap! breaking right… now!"
[Into the Wireless] Alastair says, "You flutter your eyelashes when you sleep! I didn't say anything!"

Pivoting and rolling from one side to the other, Pearson dances with a pair of enemy vipers and exchanges one burst of KEW after another. She's keenly aware of the predator that's pinging her Viper to get a weapons lock and keeps riding the controls to dance the viper into a random pattern, the sharp turns and steep climbs enough to rattle her teeth.

<COMBAT> Alastair suppresses Predator1 with ECM. <successful>
<COMBAT> Alastair suppresses Predator2 with ECM. <unsuccessful>
<COMBAT> Agrippa attacks Jester with KEW - Moderate wound to Right Wing (Reduced by Armor).
<COMBAT> Predator1 suppresses Pearson with ECM. <successful>
<COMBAT> Niko attacks Predator2 with KEW - Moderate wound to Left Wing (Reduced by Armor).
<COMBAT> Predator2 suppresses Agrippa with ECM. <successful>
<COMBAT> Pearson attacks Jester with KEW - Moderate wound to Controls (Reduced by Armor).
<COMBAT> Jester attacks Pearson with KEW but MISSES!
<COMBAT> Buchanan attacks Snakebite with KEW and MISSES!
<COMBAT> Snakebite attacks Buchanan with KEW and MISSES!
<COMBAT> Iceman attacks Niko with KEW and MISSES!
<COMBAT> Elena passes.
<COMBAT> Alastair has started a new turn. Pose and choose your action.
<FS3> Agrippa rolls Alertness: Great Success.

The two Predators were almost completely broken away, but the Vipers of Orion chase after, with the Raptor assisting them. "Depends on who you ask, Cherry." he responds, this time not over the radio as he sweats a little, trying to keep the Predators busy with jamming. One of the enemy Vipers, Snakebite, realizes that the Predators are in trouble, as is he - and breaks off his dance with SLAG to chase after the Raptor to try to take it down.

The difficult maneuver that Agrippa tried to put his Viper through makes it hard for him to land a clean shot on the hostile fighter, especially after it tries to follow Pearson's hard evasive maneuver. His autocannons do not miss, however, as it punches a few holes into the armor of the craft's right wing. Rolling his Viper back towards his target, Punchdrunk catches sight of the two Predators visually, his brows furrowing upwards as they appear to be just heading in one direction instead of being more active in the fight. Looking ahead and recalling some landmarks during briefing, Agrippa is able to put two plus two together and curses loudly in his cockpit. «Flight, Punchdrunk, Predators are heading towards the Supply Depot, need intercept! If you're not engaged, intercept the bombers, call copy!» With that, Agrippa angles towards the Predators, regardless whether or not he is being chased.

His Viper comes around and Niko finds the bandit on his tail has given up the chase. So he takes his own instruction and dives, full burn, in pursuit of the pair of Predators. This quickly earns him a new enemy Viper on his six, and Pony makes two hard turns before finally lining up for a snap shot at the enemy Pred. His tracers lance through the target's wing, but the tough old Predator is still flying. «Punch, Pony. On it!»

[Into the Wireless] Pearson says, "Flight, Spud. Copy!"

Abandoning her weapons exchange with the enemy viper, Pearson shifts her focus instead to one of the two predators harrying their flighty and opens fire as soon as she gets a target lock. That the predator pilot had just been painting her viper for a firing solution only moments ago doesn't make it any easier or harder, for that matter, to line up on what SHOULD be a friendly aircraft.

Just the slightest huff of frustration as her attack misses the enemy Viper. But Buchanan doesn't let it phase her beyond that. She pulls up and away, instead changing course to head after the Predators. Of course, then she sees her previous dance partner going after the injured Raptor and SLAG's not having any of that….«Punchdrunk, SLAG. Copy that. Just getting this one off Cherry's tail.» Cool and calm, her voice low over the comms as she focuses on her target.

<COMBAT> Alastair suppresses Predator1 with ECM. <unsuccessful>
<COMBAT> Alastair suppresses Predator2 with ECM. <unsuccessful>
<COMBAT> Buchanan attacks Snakebite with KEW - ARMOR on Controls stops the attack!
<COMBAT> Snakebite attacks Elena with KEW - Critical wound to Body (Reduced by Armor).
<COMBAT> Predator2 suppresses Pearson with ECM. <unsuccessful>
<COMBAT> Predator2 suppresses Buchanan with ECM. <successful>
<COMBAT> Pearson attacks Predator1 with KEW and MISSES!
<COMBAT> Jester attacks Agrippa with KEW but MISSES!
<COMBAT> Elena passes.
<COMBAT> Agrippa attacks Predator1 with KEW and MISSES!
<COMBAT> Iceman attacks Niko with KEW and MISSES!
<COMBAT> Predator1 suppresses Niko with ECM. <successful>
<COMBAT> Predator1 suppresses Agrippa with ECM. <unsuccessful>
<COMBAT> Niko attacks Predator2 with KEW and MISSES!
<COMBAT> Alastair has started a new turn. Pose and choose your action.
<COMBAT> Raptor-5343r has been KO'd!
<COMBAT> Elena has been KO'd!
<COMBAT> Alastair has been KO'd!

The Predators countinue to try to juke and dodge of the Vipers at the groups continue to tangle. Except there will be one flight that won't be returning. The Raptor's body is torn to shreds, ripping apart the hydraulics and power, causing everything in the Raptor to go dead except for emergency power as the Raptor starts a slow uncotrolled spin towards the ground in a dead stick.

«Flight, Trap, power to the consoles out, we're going down. Destroying consoles!» At least he didn't immediately put a gun to his temple to prevent capture.

[Into the Wireless] Elena says, "Krypter krypter kryper, flight, Cherry, we're frakking ejecting, Trap, you better not be going down with this bird, repeat, we're /ejecting/"
[Into the Wireless] Alastair says, "Pulling drives, I'll be right behind you!"

Buchanan is probably too stubborn for her own good. She's still going after that Viper with a sort of single-minded determination that's probably going to get her in trouble.

Niko pulls away and goes high, turning that diving speed into altitude, then rolls the viper on its back and pulls over to dive on the enemy Predator again. The KEW fire from his pursuer and the jamming fuzzing his DRADIS lock prevent a clean shot, and Niko's fire flies wide. "Frak…" he mutters to himself, ready to repeat the maneuver. And then he hears Trap's voice over the wireless. What the frak? He can't help the stricken Raptor, but he might be able to finish off this frakking predator before it makes its bomb run…

[Into the Wireless] Pearson says, "If those bombers get to that supply depot your ejection trajectory might take you down damn close!"

Pearson's voice on the com is rather strident as she evades the weapons fire, AGAIN, of the predator that keeps trying to shred her viper into billions of little bitty falling pieces. Herself as well, of course, but the viper is a hell of a lot more expensive than she is, at the moment, and she gives another sharp twist of the viper before rolling in a tight spin to aim at the predator in return. CONTINUING to aim, actually, being the more accurate phrase.

The situation is pretty bad and Agrippa's attention is split between the friendly Raptor that is going down along with the Predators that are about to reach their destination. With his first salvo going wide against the elusive and fast Predator, Punchdrunk quickly sends an update to Flattop Kevin Orddits, «Flattop Orddits, we have a Raptor going down, they need immediate search and rescue!» With that urgent request out of the way, Agrippa's returns his focus on the untouched Predator in his sights that is closing in on the supply depot, again ignoring the Viper that is chasing him. «Flight, Punchdrunk, hostile preds are almost on top of their target, they are starting their bombing run. Try to take them out!»

<COMBAT> Niko attacks Predator2 with KEW - Serious wound to Engine (Reduced by Armor).
<COMBAT> Iceman attacks Niko with KEW but MISSES!
<COMBAT> Elena passes.
<COMBAT> Alastair passes.
<COMBAT> Agrippa attacks Predator1 with KEW - Moderate wound to Right Wing (Reduced by Armor).
<COMBAT> Predator1 suppresses Niko with ECM. <unsuccessful>
<COMBAT> Predator1 suppresses Agrippa with ECM. <successful>
<COMBAT> Pearson attacks Predator1 with KEW but MISSES!
<COMBAT> Jester attacks Agrippa with KEW and MISSES!
<COMBAT> Snakebite attacks Pearson with KEW but MISSES!
<COMBAT> Predator2 suppresses Pearson with ECM. <successful>
<COMBAT> Predator2 suppresses Buchanan with ECM. <unsuccessful>
<COMBAT> Buchanan attacks Snakebite with KEW - Light wound to Cockpit.
<COMBAT> Alastair has started a new turn. Pose and choose your action.

Pearson grits her teeth as she yet again spends perfectly good ammo to destroy another empty span of airspace that doesn't do a lick of good. The only upside being that she evades the return fire at the same time, hopefully pissing off the enemy bus driver as much as he/she/it is pissing her off in return. «Flight, Spud, taking a run right at that Predator, don't shoot me while I'm doing so!»

[Into the Wireless] Pearson says, "Flight, Spud, taking a run right at that Predator, don't shoot me while I'm doing so!"

With the Predators being hounded by the Orion hunters, the lead Predator pulls back to allow the second Predator to go first. Striking out, the bomb-bays of the first one opens, and munitions are dropped upon the storage facility as their munitions rain down, erupting in massive explosions as the second APF Predator lines up to start it's own bombing run.

The Orion Vipers have a problem outside of a downed Raptor. A four hour CAP plus the dogfight has all but Punchdrunk's Viper running low on fuel.

In the meantime, two white chutes are deployed from the falling Raptor. One is several seconds behind the second, as Alastair made sure to pull the drives.

Exposed and alone in midair, Cherry forces herself to keep her eyes open and aware of her surroundings. She'd much rather keep her eyes closed, but she repeats her combat mantra under her breath: "Be cool. Be cool. Be cool."

Niko twists and rolls, evading the viper on his tail yet again, then makes another diving attack on his chosen Predator. This time his KEW rips into the pred's port engine, causing it to cough flames and then stream out a trail of black smoke. He can imagine the aircrew in that ship dealing with the fire while trying to make their bomb run. But they drop their ordnance all the same, and Pony is cursing a blue streak. He leaves the limping Pred to its fate and hauls back on the stick, looping around to try and deal with the frakking viper that's been chasing him.

With one bomber payload away and hitting its intended target, the explosion is spectacular and Agrippa once more curses in his cockpit. His only focus now is the remaining Predator that has yet to drop its bombs. As it starts its attack runs, Punchdrunk sets his Viper into a climb before diving down after the hostile bomber, lining up for a clear shot himself though it opens himself open for any attacks, a risky but daring gamble at this point.

Can't fly, can't hit. Can't do nothing. But Buchanan gives it her best shot anyways, turning away from the Viper, and refocusing her efforts on the two predators. Except she fires on the wrong one…

<COMBAT> Snakebite attacks Pearson with KEW and MISSES!
<COMBAT> Jester attacks Agrippa with KEW and MISSES!
<COMBAT> Alastair passes.
<COMBAT> Agrippa attacks Predator1 with KEW but MISSES!
<COMBAT> Predator2 suppresses Pearson with ECM. <successful>
<COMBAT> Predator2 suppresses Buchanan with ECM. <unsuccessful>
<COMBAT> Pearson attacks Predator1 with KEW - Moderate wound to Body (Reduced by Armor).
<COMBAT> Niko attacks Iceman with KEW - Moderate wound to Body (Reduced by Armor).
<COMBAT> Iceman attacks Niko with KEW - Light wound to Body (Reduced by Armor).
<COMBAT> Elena passes.
<COMBAT> Predator1 suppresses Niko with ECM. <successful>
<COMBAT> Predator1 suppresses Agrippa with ECM. <successful>
<COMBAT> Buchanan attacks Predator2 with KEW - Light wound to Body (Reduced by Armor).
<COMBAT> Alastair has started a new turn. Pose and choose your action.

Despite the damages that the second Predator takes to it's body, it too starts it's bombing run on the supply depot, raining down heavy munitions and explosions erupt from the facility, rocking and causing it to explode as ordanance and vehicles in storage are destroyed. With their mission complete, the remaining Vipers and Predators are trying quickly to break contact and outrun their Orion pursuers.

Pearson keeps up a steady stream of tersely worded remarks about the parentage, lineage, questionable sexual activities and political leanings of the crew of the enemy Predator as she brings her Viper around for another path. She is determined that she is going to kill that damned predator if it's the last thing she does! She flicks the screen on the DRADIS display with one hand before speaking into the com.

Coming over the top, Niko rolls out and makes a head-on pass with the viper that's been chasing him. He scores good hits, but hears the tell-tale 'ping pang ping' of KEW rounds hitting his own ship as well. Thankfully no warning lights, and Betty is silent. Breaking left, he loops low and comes around again, jumping onto the enemy viper's tail himself. The guy is making a break for it, but he doesn't have the speed to disengage clean. Niko bores in to try and finish him off.

[Into the Wireless] Pearson says, "Flight, Spud, following flight down for a last attack run. Anyone got eyes on the chutes and trajectory of same?"

Once more, Agrippa's autocannon salvo fails to connect, missing the faster Predator as it drops its lethal payload down on the supply depot, more or less flattening the facility. The only thing left that they can do is down any hostile Vipers as they try to disengage. Punchdrunk remains locked onto his target, chasing the Predator as he attempts to land at least one more hit on the fighter-bomber.

Buchanan shakes her head at her own failings and peels away, chasing after the retreating enemies, intent on at least attempting to bring down one of them before limping home on whatever fuel her Viper has left. Half an eye is keeping out for the Raptor crew too. Hopefully they don't bring a ship down on them.

<COMBAT> Buchanan attacks Predator2 with KEW but MISSES!
<COMBAT> Alastair passes.
<COMBAT> Agrippa attacks Predator1 with KEW and MISSES!
<COMBAT> Snakebite passes.
<COMBAT> Elena passes.
<COMBAT> Predator2 passes.
<COMBAT> Predator1 passes.
<COMBAT> Niko attacks Iceman with KEW - Light wound to Body (Reduced by Armor).
<COMBAT> Jester passes.
<COMBAT> Pearson attacks Predator1 with KEW and MISSES!
<COMBAT> Iceman passes.
<COMBAT> Alastair has started a new turn. Pose and choose your action.

Their bays emptied of their munitions, the Predators pick up speed as the APF Vipers also go into afterburn, the ships racing away from where the explosions are occuring along with the pair of chutes that descend into wooded area nearby, the heat of the explosion washing over pilot and ECO as they drift to the ground.

«Orion CAP, Flattop, by our calculations, fuel critical, acknowledge, over.»

With fuel still left in his own tank, Agrippa is choosing to remain behind until the rescue Raptor arrives or hostiles arrive. One or the other will happen which Punchdrunk can report, either help make sure the Raptor makes the pick up or warn them off of overwhelming hostile presence, making the area too hot for rescue.

Now he does get a warning light. Fuel low. As much as he doesn't want to let them go, Niko is forced to break off. He can't afford to burn hard in pursuit of the fleeing enemy craft. Pulling up and going into a turn, he starts scanning the skies for his fellow pilots. He can loiter long enough to make sure everyone else can make it back to orbit at least.

[Into the Wireless] Niko says, "Flight, Pony. I saw chutes for Cherry and Trap, but we are bingo fuel. Need to burn for the Flat Top or we'll be joining them."
[Into the Wireless] Agrippa says, "Copy Pony, bring the flight back to the Orddits. I still have fuel and will flight air cover until search and rescue gets here."

«Copy Pony.» Buchanan's voice is low, slightly tense, possibly. She does as she's told though, breaking away from the chase and turning to head home. She falls into some sort of formation with the rest of the flight and hopefully manages to not crash land her Viper when they finally get back to the Flat Top.

Seeing her shots, again, doing absolutely nothing useful, Pearson is forced to pull up, and even worse, forced to make the ascent in gradual gradients instead of a fast burn to return to altitude. «"Flight, Spud, copy that, fuel status critical. RTB copy. Over."» said in a tone of voice that is carefully neutral as she joins the rest of the flight at last and brings the Viper back into formation.

[Into the Wireless] Pearson says, " Flight, Spud, copy that, fuel status critical. RTB copy. Over."
[Into the Wireless] Niko says, "Punchdrunk, Pony. Roger that. We're out."
[Into the Wireless] Niko says, "Flattop, Orion Cap. How fast can you refuel three Vipers? We need to get back down their for the SAR."

Niko wings over to form up with Spud and Slag as the three of them climb for the stars. And while he's not happy with how the mission has gone, they still have to make it back to the Oddits before it's over. As they leave Punchdrunk behind, he keys the mic for the wireless again.

Once he hits the ground, Alastair is going through the mental checklist of things to do. Shoving the Raptor's drive into his flight suit, he carries it with him for now as he starts to jog into the direction of where he saw Cherry's chute, the ECO hearing the explosions of the supply depot in the distance.

As Agrippa circles above in the remaining Viper, a supply depot burns in the distance. The forested area only had a couple of roads leading to it. One of the white chutes from the Raptor is still visible on the ground, and as secondary explosions rock the base, a single green flare goes up from nearby. A rescue signal.

After firing the flare, Alastair kneels down next to an unconscious Elena, and frowns. "Just hang in there, Cherry." he says as he takes out his first aid pack. "Help's on the way." he hopes. The datadrives from the Raptor are kept in his pocket, ready to be smashed at a moment's notice.

Looks like there'll be no need to commit violence against Fleet property. Well, above and beyond the damage that's already been done to the bus, anyway. The distant sound of a raptor making planetfall is heard as a low rumble in the cloud cover initially, and it isn't long before the broad underbelly of one of Orion's support craft is easily spotted about half a click to the west. Its VTOL nozzles rotate into position as it comes in for a reasonably smooth landing, dirt and grass blown back in a fine spray by its ingress.

Waiting patiently through a fuel top off is actually a skill set that Pearson acquired a long time ago, on a different planet, while wearing a different hat entirely, and back when she used to get paid to do stuff like this while fending off the annoyed warble of paying customers who just want to get where they're destination is before they've actually left the terminal. She taps her gloved fingers against the command console while waiting it out, obeying the in-flight refueling commands with precision. Once she and Niko are topped off and waved back out, she forms up again with with Pony and joins Punchdrunk as well, on station, once the captain begins to make her descent to retrieve the pair on the ground.

As the Raptor SAR vectors for a landing, Alastair moves to throw Elena over his shoulder. "…oof. Lay off the muffins, Cherry." he says as he starts to move through the woods. Reaching to take Elena's pistol from his holster, he keeps it close as he is cautious with his movements.

[Into the Wireless] Niko says, "Punchdrunk, Pony with Spud and Butch. We are inbound for SAR."

The Odditis could only hot-fuel two vipers at once, and Slag drew the short straw. So it's Pony and Spud, with barely enough fuel for the mission, dropping back into the soup to escort Butch down. Niko ignored the minor battle damage to his bird — just a few KEW holes in the fuselage — and it seems to be flying fine. Once they drop down to combat altitude, he levels off and eases off the throttle, going to form up with Agrippa and cover the extraction.

Though she doesn't appear to have run afoul of any trouble on her way in, Butch came prepared nonetheless with a chain gun configured to the fore hardpoint of her raptor, and enough rockets to comfortably lay waste to an anti-aircraft installation or two, if need be. The bird touches down on its skids, hatch opening before it's quite settled, and the engines are gradually spooled to idle. It's the ECO who climbs out to assist; St. Clair herself remains inside with an eye on the proceedings, just in case she has to bug them out again quickly.

[Into the Wireless] Bennett says, "Viper Flight, Butch. We are skids down and proceeding with extraction."

As he gets close, Alastair sees the Raptor, but pauses. Considering the firefight they were just in, the ECO is cautious and calls out for the password challenge, "Alice." he says, holding his pistol as he waits.

Opening the com directly to Pony, "We have just enough fuel to stay on point, and that's it. If this goes badly, we don't have enough fuel to engage in a fire fight AND RTB, unless my math is off?" Pearson makes this a question while studying DRADIS again.

The ECO looks bewildered. He might have forgotten the answer. "Uh… looking glass? C'mon man, just get on the frakkin' bus before we gotta leave you behind." Bennett's smirking slightly, but elects not to comment.

Frak it all, they drill password/challenge into Alastair's head on Picon. With a sigh, it's only because he sees Bennett at the controls that he lifts Cherry and runs over to climb aboard and settle into one of the jump seats after helping strap Elena onto a shoulder. "Found her like this, I think she was a little too close to the explosion."

Circling on high, Niko's viper is banked so he can keep an eye on the Raptor and see when Butch is clear. He keys the wireless to the Viper flight's channel, responding to Spud. "Yeah. I mean, all we need to do is buy Butch enough time to jump clear. If things get frakked."

Bennett's expression is schooled carefully back to neutral again by the time the ECO and apparently unconscious pilot are aboard. Her own backseater helps with getting Elena stabilised and strapped in, and there's a medic on board as well to check both aircrew over for injuries. "It looks like you two had a bit of an unscheduled adventure," notes St. Clair with a smile as she keys the hatch closed and begins spooling the engines back up for launch. "Did you grab the data drive from your bus?"

Opening his pouch, Alastair pulls out the drive. "Yes'ir." he offers as he moves to drop into the co-pilot's chair. "Not the way I wanted to deadhead back home." he says with a smirk. "Ready to go when you are, sir."

Making a quiet sound, Spud keys the com again in return. "In short, I should stop obsessing about the rate of fuel consumption because it things get frakked having to turn in my mileage and fuel slip for reimbursement is the least of my worries?" for a moment, however brief, there's a mild thread of humor there in her tone as she makes another pass, still studying the DRADIS display and the belching column of smoke from where the supply depot used to be.

Bennett merely chuckles at the deadhead remark. It was after all, her suggestion for his callsign. Her gloved hand curves around the flight yoke and eases it forward as tylium is fed to the ungainly bird with a roar of its twin engines. Her gaze switches between DRADIS, her attitude readouts and the curved windscreen while she gets them airborne. "We will rendezvous with Odditis and let them jump us back to Orion," she mentions, before keying her outbound radio.

[Into the Wireless] Bennett says, "Viper Flight, Butch. We are skids up and will meet you back aboard Odditis. Butch out."

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