A Charlie Foxtrot Venture
Log Title
Arc: Strange Bedfellows
Summary: Paz, James, Walsh and Phillip escort the TCS Cook on an SWACS mission to analyze the Kilrathi Destroyer Group Blockading the Xyani Jumppoint, but things don't go according to plan as usual.
Date: 2659.093
Related Logs: None
Participants: James, Paz, Phillip, Walsh, Murphy

Two Rapiers and two Stilettos sit in the port side launch tubes of the TCS Majestic. Their pilots about to begin an SWACS mission to the jumppoint to scout out the Kilrathi destroyer group's strength, position and capability. Appearing on the comm system of Tizona, Iceblade, Cutlass, and Ozone is the slightly green-tinted image of a young, red-haired and gentle-faced Lt. Caoliann Murphy, the TCS Majestic's relatively new comm officer. «Micro Flight, you are cleared for launch. Good luck out there.» she says almost sweetly over the comm. Though, she has served in the navy as a comm officer for a carrier over the past several years, it is not in her nature to be forceful or really even unhappy unless people don't come back.

«Majestic, Tizona, muchos gracias. We'll try to bring 'em back in the same shape we got 'em in.» Paz replies over the radio, settling back in her seat and grumbling to herself. "Jeez, Tori, what the hell did you do to the seat in this thing, anyway?"

James is sitting in the cockpit of his Stiletto running a last minute systems check when the call comes through, «This is Cutlass ready to launch at any time.» he reports before reaching for the throttle in preparation for the readiness of the rest of the flight group.

«Iceblade here, roger that. Launching now.» Phillip has to admit that the new comm officer is rather easy on the eyes. Iceblade doesn't have much time to think about this as he feels a jolt from his Rapier jumping out of the launch tube and out into the emptiness of space. He quickly toggles through targets for looking of the TCS Cook. Finally he spots it and turns his fighter toward it.

Walsh settles himself in his seat in preparation for launch acceleration. «Walsh here, good to go.» He then turns his attention to the last of his pre-launch checks in the few moments before his craft is shot into space.

As the fighters approach the Venture they will be escorting for this scouting mission, the image of its captain appears on the screen. Unlike Lt. Murphy, this officer appears much more war-worn with a scar running the side of her middle-aged face, her voice is very stern, and her manner very much down to business. «Micro flight, autopilot is linked. Set comm frequency to 002 and assume escort positions. Let's get this show on the road and do not break radio silence. Cook out.» With those orders given, the image of Lt. Commander Jane Auldwell vanishes.

"Nice to see you too, Commander," Paz comments dryly to herself, double-checking her autopilot and navigation systems, just in case. She hasn't lived this long through this many combat hops to relish the idea of turning over command of her ship to somebody else, but orders are orders. "Let's just hope this doesn't turn out to be the bloody great waste of time it feels like it's going to be."

James grimaces as the order for the autopilot comes then mutters under his breath, "I would have brought another book if they had briefed us on this part," before switching channels and opening his comm, «Cutlass is go.»

Iceblade notices the Light Commander's rank on her collar. "Jeez, I knew she had a reputation for being tough, but no wonder she is bitter," Iceblade thinks to himself as he moves his ship into escort position and prepares for a very long and quiet flight.

Reacting to the terse greeting from their escort asset, Walsh proceeds to manipulating the buttons and switches necessary to enact the Cook's orders. He maneuvers into position, and prepares to play the waiting game once more.

All of sudden after an hour into the patrol, the TCS Cook starts changing its heading. Then a low-frequency transmission is radioed from the TCS Cook, «Adjust heading to 12-79-02. Cook out.» The Stilettos having sensors compatible with the TCS Cook's are able to have a drastically larger detection range. At the edges, they can spot several groups of Kilrathi light fighters moving about on their patrols. The Rapiers, though, are pretty much in the dark about the reason for the adjustments, but it is pretty easy to guess why the vector change is necessary.

Paz rolls her eyes a little, adjusting her heading as ordered. "What happened to radio silence?" she asks snarkily, careful to make sure her mic is cold. Then her passive gear picks up the Fuzzy Wuzzies and she frowns a little, not bringing any weapons systems on line, but already starting to make a mental note of what she'll fire up first if needed, and relaying with hand signals to the others they should think about doing the same.

Iceblade perks up for a bit after hearing…something after all of the quiet of the past…hour? He quickly adjusts his heading. "Well this is definitely a little different from what our navigation route says, but then again we do want to avoid enemy patrols. I bet they spotted one, I just wish we could link these Rapiers into that Venture like the Stilettos can," Iceblade says to himself. He gives a sigh and shrug and prepares for more quiet.

Watching the blips at the edges of his sensor coverage warily, Walsh is not particularly surprised when the call to alter course comes in. Something to break the tedium at least. He'd rather be burning towards the contacts than edging away from them, but it probably wouldn't bode well for life expectancy.

After several such adjusts, rather tersely given Captain Auldwell, the nav computers of the escorts indicate that they are finally nearing the jumppoint at least for the enhanced sensors of the TCS Cook. «Hold position here, Micro Flight.» With that, the TCS Cook comes to a "rapid" halt. The quiet of the past few hours certainly must be annoying for the pilots given that usually short-frequency radio transmissions are no problem for most patrols. The seconds roll by and then turn into minutes. The Stilettos would be noticing several large and small capships about, probably a couple of Ralatha, several Ralaris and some Kamekhs interspersed around the Jumppoint. Then something large just appears out of nowhere near the jumppoint. Then several more.

Paz gasps softly, using her thrusters to quickly decelerate and keeping a wary eye on her passive sensors. "Hello, fat boy," she grins ferally as the big ship jumps in. "Damn shame we're just gathering intel. A few quick passes at that thing might make the Fuzzy Wuzzies think they guessed wrong," she pouts prettily. "Of course, we'd all /die/…" she sighs.

Iceblade is rather annoyed by the sudden order to halt. He decides to check his sensors and they definitely pick up some of the big stuff. What a pity, they aren't telling him what the capships actually are. Then he detects a new blip, and then another. They are way too big to not have been detected before, and they are near the jumppoint. "Oh damn, we have more capships inbound, another fleet for sure," Iceblade says to himself. He attempts to hand-single Paz that there are several new heavies that almost certainly jumped in.

James's eyes narrow as he notes the large blibs and tries to figure out just what they are before muttering a long string of curses under his breath as he fights down the urge to go to active scanners.

Sometimes the 'advantage' of better passive sensors in his Stiletto doesn't pay off much in the way of comfort. The tingle of anticipation running down Walsh's spine at the number of orange dots presented on his displays is definitely not diminished by the arrival of even more hostiles. He mutters curses under his breath and hopes their flight is not projecting a significant cross-section to enemy sensors.

A few seconds later, another something appears, and then another. They are clearly turning up as orange on the Stiletto's screens. The TCS Cook begins turning and gaining speed. «Micro Flight, fall into formation. We got what we need and we've been spotted.» Wow, rather rough way to be given bad news. You might have even missed her implication that there were Kilrathi inbound. In less than 20 seconds, a wing of Sartha appear at the edge of the Rapier's radar making a vectoring to a position ahead of the Venture. Smart Cats for sure. «Rapiers, intercept them. Stilettos stay in formation.»

«Copy that, Iceblade, on me. We'll take 'em low-high, your option on weapons.» Paz replies, throttling up her Rapier and arming her dumbfire missile as she stands the little ship on its tail and rockets upwards towards the incoming Sartha. «Cook, Tizona, be advised, we have multiple, repeat, /multiple/ enemy contacts out here, if it's just gonna be the two of us, we're only gonna get a few passes before this turns into one big damn furball.»

James kicks the scanners to full power as soon as the order to hold formation is given and kicks on the commlink his tone showing his displeasure with their orders, «This is Cutlass holding formation.»

Iceblade's Rapier quickly turns to keep with the TCS Cook, which is rapidly gaining speed out the area. Iceblade's eyes widen at the news of Kilrathi inbound. «Tizona, Iceblade here. I'm with you.» "Damn, this was turning out to be such a quiet trip," Iceblade mumbles to himself. Iceblade checks his distance and aims at one of the Sartha as the distance begins to close.

"Well fuck!" Walsh curses. While not afraid of a fight, he's acutely aware that this is a 'bad neighborhood', and odds are definitely against them. At least there's an excuse to break radio silence. «Ozone copies. Holding.» he replies.

As the range between the Rapiers and first group of Sarthas closes, both sides take careful aim. «Stilettos, we have another group of Sarthas inbound. Engage them.» The TCS Cook radios.

Paz sets the piper of her cockpit sight as close to the center of the oncoming lead Sartha as she can manage at this range. Her Rapier's HUD feeding her constant updates as her craft gains speed, and then gains more speed as the path to target is illuminated. "Almost there…." she says to herself quietly…. "Almost there….." Suddenly, the Sartha is illuminated by a red circle and the SHOOT! command comes up. She squeezes the trigger and vectors wildly to starboard, leaving a very large, very deadly missile blazing away towards its targets at speeds almost too fast for the naked eye to follow.

Iceblade's guns are ready to fire and the portside Sartha is in Iceblade's sights. "Time to feel some cold pain, kitty," Iceblade says under his breath as squeezes the trigger unleashing laser and neutron fire at the incoming Sartha.

James opens the commline, «Cutlass, order acknowledged. Maneuvering to engage now.» he replies before roaring towards one of the late arrivals using the time to establish a more precise lock on. "Why oh why don't we have a Raptor flight along for close escort," he mutters as he watches the various blips move together.

Walsh takes note of the second inbound flight, and starts cycling targets. With orders to engage, he definitely doesn't need to be told twice. Still on Cutlass' wing, he maneuvers slightly to place his crosshair over once of the newcomers. «Ozone Copies. I've got number two.»

The second group of Sarthas definitively aren't interested in the Stilettos with two of them at full burn and vectoring at the TCS Cook clearly intending on sending forth a dumbfire barrage against her. Even so the Stilettos have taken care aim at the these two Sarthas. Over 15000 klicks away, the first group of Sarthas are heavily engaged with the Rapiers. Both sides do minimal damage with an exception of some slight damage to Paz's Rapier.

"Dammit!" Paz growls as the warhead slams into the thickest part of the Sartha's armor and detonates uselessly. Then her own craft is rocked by an impact as the Sartha's neutron weapon flashes across the hull of her ship. «Iceblade, Tizona, yo-yo!» she calls, running out to the end of her projected course, then whiffing around at high speed to dive against her foes from behind! "Okay, Fuzzy, let's see if you're lucky twice," she says, lining her sights up again and squeezing the trigger the second she acquires a lock.

James swings his craft onto an intercept course for the lead craft of the second Kilrathi flight and bores in before opening fire with his Mass Drivers, «Cutlass Guns.» he announces over the comm, his tone cool.

"Damn," Iceblade mutters as his shots barely scratch the Sartha that got a lucky hit on Paz. At least the Sartha tailing him is not as good and is a lot easier to avoid. «Don't worry Tizona, Iceblade has got your back.» Phillip radios as he switches to imrecs and locks on the Sartha. "Watch your back little cat!" PING! «Fox 2» The imrec jumps from its pilum on the Rapier and accelerates toward the Kilrathi.

Walsh counts down the distance to effective range, finger poised on the trigger. As the enemy Sartha crosses the magic threshold, he quickly squeezes, sending high velocity metal in its direction.

The two Sarthas from the second group race past the Stilettos ignoring the them and launch their dumbfires toward the Cook at extreme range. The TCS Cook begins evasive maneuvers and starts throwing up light laser fire at the two Sarthas. The Stilettos did manage to give the racing Sarthas some hits throwing off their aim, but no serious damage. The Cook misses badly. Elsewhere, the Sarthas are really getting lucky with their aim. Phillip took a nasty hit while Paz suffered extreme damage to their cockpit and herself.

James smiles as his first shot plows into his target's nose then swings his fighter around onto the Kilrathi fighter's tail boring in after switching to missiles «Cutlass Fox 2.» he announces before firing.

The trajectories of Walsh's mass driver rounds mostly converge on their target, knocking through the Sartha's shield and dealing some small amount of damage to the hull beneath. Mere moments later, his own shields crackle and flash blue, dissipating the energy of incoming fire. Satisfied that his attack was more effective than the enemies, but still pissed off that he's being shot at, he breaks formation aggressively to pursue his usual near-collision tactics. «Ozone breaking. Gonna get close and personal with this fleabag.»

Paz is nearly knocked unconscious by the sudden fusillade…sent drifting, power flickering on and off in her ship as she's nearly lethally wounded by a white-hot beam of light that lances through her armor, her flightsuit, her chest, and through her pilot's seat.

Iceblade takes a nasty hit to the nose from the Sartha that was tailing him before. Unfortunately, the imrec Iceblade fired did little to prevent Phillip's target from blasting Paz right in the cockpit. «You damn feline.» Iceblade really shouldn't have said that because now that "damn feline" is coming around for him. "Oh crap," Iceblade switches to FoF, shoots it off and goes evasive.

The tide finally begins to turn for Confed. One Sartha falls, both dumbfires miss the Cook, and while Walsh took some damage, he is the only one who did. The first Sartha from the first group races in after taking careful aim and launches its dumbfire at the Cook. All of the other Sarthas begin heading directly for the Cook, whose evasive maneuvers have worked great but have made its gunners' jobs impossible.

Iceblade barely manages to avoid being hit, but the FoF didn't do much good being easily evaded. With the Sarthas veering off for the Cook. Iceblade immediately gets on the tail of the most annoying Sartha and lets loose with an imrec. «Micro Flight what is your status.» Iceblade radios.

«Scratch one!» rings across the commlines as James's missile blows taking its target with it. James banks his craft hard angling onto the tail of the Sartha which had hit Walsh ignoring the fighter maneuvering to engage him for the moment «Cutlass Fox 2!» rings out as he fires again. «Cutlass all systems green.» he adds after Iceblade asks his status.

«Mi.. Fli..t, Tizo.., mayd.y, m..day, ma..ay….I've g.t a f..ing hole in my c..st and my ship's in s..t sh..e….» Paz manages to croak over the radio, voice thick with pain, and starting to sound shocky.

Having closed to within dangerous distance, Walsh is able to almost guarantee good effect on his target. He pays for his boldness however; his already mostly depleted frontal shields haven't replenished enough to absorb the efforts of a second burst of neutron fire. Charged particles streaking past his cockpit, he re-evaluates his priorities slightly more towards his own survival. «Walsh here. Just took a hit. Still in the fight though. Sensors might be a bit spotty, but… Fuck! Tizona?»

While the two Sarthas close into missile range, two other Sarthas launch their first dumbfires with only one hitting and taking off some armor. The Cook just continues firing away doing nothing useful. The second Sartha of the second group, being already out of dumbfires, comes about to face James, firing neutrons in James' direction and managing to clip his wing.

Iceblade's imrec wrecks one of the Sarthas but he still moves on undeterred. James and Walsh continue fighting the other two Sartha from the second group and a successful impact with a heatseeker from James knocks the one that still had a dumbfire out. Paz plugs along well away from the fighting.

"Yes!" Phillip exclaims as the enemy Sartha he is tailing takes a nasty missile hit. Now that that one can't really fly straight, Phillip switches over to the other nearby Sartha, lines up a dumbfire and let's loose.

James takes a few moments to stabilize his craft from the spin the hit had imparted, «This is Cutlass, scratch another and I'm hurt but it's not bad.» before switching back to guns and swinging around to engage the Sartha which was targeting his craft.

Walsh, flying somewhat more defensively, manages to score further good hits on his target. Swinging away for another pass, he is pleased to notice a plume of fire in place of his assailant, freeing him up to attack with impunity once more.

«This is the Cook, escorts gets these guys off our ass.» The Cook chimes in as it attempts and succeeds to avoid the incoming dumbfires. The Sarthas keep falling, the last fighter of group 2 finally goes down while Phillip's dumbfire scores a direct hit upon a Sartha right as it was climbing away after firing its dumbfire. The critical hit to the cockpit takes the fighter out completely.

Paz fumbles for the aid kit in what's left of her cockpit, swearing vociferously as she tries to find the right implement. "You fucking bitch!" she hisses. "You lead us into a fucking ambush and now you don't have the common goddamn sense to get us out of here," she growls, finding the adrenaline infuser and jacking it straight into her heart. «C.ok, Tiz..a, Co..ander, I'm g..na have your fuc..ng ass up on cha..es of gross negl..nce and der….ion of du.y, you hear me b..h!» she spits over the radio, her rage clear despite the static. «Get .s O.T OF H.RE!

«This is Iceblade. Got one off your back Cook. Vectoring in on the other one.» Iceblade radios. Cuing up his last dumbfire and noting that the dumbfire-less Sartha will probably vector for him next, takes a more measured approach. «Iceblade requesting someone take out the other Sartha.»

«Good shooting Ozone.» comes from James's Stiletto across the commlines followed by «I'm on it, Iceblade.» as he swings around behind the lead craft of the original Kilrathi flight firing as soon as he hears the lock-on tone, «Cutlass Fox 2.»

With another hail of fire, Walsh's target disintegrates. Present threat and target taken care of, he takes a moment to worry about the wellbeing of the pilot in the stricken Rapier. «Tizona!? What's your status?» No sooner has he spoken, a staticy, irate Tizona fills his ears. «That good, huh?» Getting back to business, he cycles to missiles, and tries to point in the general direction of a Kilrathi heat signature.

«Lieutenant, I would think that a couple of Rapiers and Stilettos could easily take on some measly light fighters and they have with only minimal damage, I might add. Except for you.» Light Commander Jane radios as the last of the Sarthas fall. Just then a two flights of Raptors enter sensor range. «Besides, we already called for backup. Plus there was no way we could outrun those light fighters.»

Iceblade loses a few pieces of armor, but the knat attacking him goes down quickly enough while his dumbfire just vaporizes the wing of the wrecked Sartha in front of Iceblade's Rapier. "Done and Done." Iceblade now starts listening carefully to the "conversation" occurring over the comms. Jeez, did she just call Paz a Lieutenant. Uh oh. Then Iceblade notes the new Raptors inbound and takes up escort formation around Paz to guard her on her way back home.

«.t's /Ca..in/ d.ar he..t, and you ju.t ne…ssly enda..ed half o. .y sq..d for no ap..rent re..n. You ha…t h..rd the la.t of t..s. If I g.t ba.. to the Ma….ic a…e, my f..t st..'s the J.G o…ce.» Paz replies icily. «Micro Flight, on me, Com…er Co…y can f…h ja..ing her sp..rs on her own.» she orders, wincing as she brings her ship back onto a reciprocal bearing. "Fuck this hurts.."

James announces «Scratch one.» before hurrying to join Phillip alongside Paz's stricken ship, «Alright Tizona I'm going to try to talk you through some ideas to help you get your bird home easier, and I'm sure Raine has a nice bed and bonsai just waiting for you.»

Friendly missiles track and destroy the remaining targets, allowing Walsh a sigh of relief. «Amen to that Tizona. Let's get. The. FUCK. Out of here before the cavalry arrives.»

«Captain, you definitely have no idea what was happening around you. This conversation is offer. Micro Flight is relieved of escort duty.» The Cook finishes and cuts off transmission.

At the far edge of sensor range, two flights of mediums appear for a few seconds and disappear leaving the area. The two flights of Raptors (3 apiece) take up escort position.