Breaking out the Brooms
Breaking out the Brooms
Arc: Hammer and Anvil
Summary: Recon from the Majestic locates the surviving Kilrathi cruiser from the initial engagement in Nexus, and a strike package is scrambled to intercept.
Date: 2658.217
Related Logs: Men Speak Too Much of Danger
Participants: Maximilian Cole Paz Victoria Kanani Draygo

The good news for Max's flight of light fighters is that they've done what they set out to do… finding the Fralthi that escaped from Princeton's guns, well away from anywhere it could cause mischief. The bad news is that, like any smart carrier, it's throwing its escorts at the recon flight and running away. What that leaves is a swirling melee of lighter fighter craft, as on one side a cruiser waddles away… and on the other side, the escorted strike package assigned to attack hurries to catch up. Not all low-speed chases involve a ford bronco.

« Getting something at the edge of detection range. Betting those are our friends. Be ready for a fight, they're going to be expecting us today. » Cole comments to his flight from within his cockpit. « Voodoo to Jericho. Confirm position and status » Cole orders simply.

«Lead, Tizona, copy that.» Paz calls, warming up her missiles and switching her neutron cannon to ARM. "Go to sleep, little Frailthi…Go to sleep little Frailthi.." she sings, starting to pay more attention to the space around her than her sensors, though she does check them routinely. "It's just you and me, and a Broadsword makes three…Not gonna be much left of you, baby…"

Another beautiful day in space for Maximilian, squadron leader of the 221st, to make a rare trip out of the hangar and actually lead a patrol into the jaws of the lion. He sits in his Stiletto, and what was once a pleasant stroll through the park has become a blizzard of mass driver fire as three of the Dralthi decide to pick on the squadron leader. The middle-aged German pilot is forced to split-arse his way out of hell, shaking and diving and managing to emerge unscathed, although his own shots fly so aimlessly into space they might as well have been targeting stardust.

«Voodoo, it's Jericho, position is surrounded, status…» he glances at his instruments, «not bad, actually.» A few hits from the flight, and the kitties have taken more than they've given. «I think we have these escorts pretty much made. Not seeing much skill in their pilots.» Seeing the Dralthi that previously keyed on him going after one of his flight, he kicks it into overdrive against his previous target on a more offensive trajectory.

Kanani nods to herself as her missile flies into it's intended target, and then as she glances around the scene of the fight, she notices a few of the cats trying to tail her. This isn't particularly new for her though, so she just starts to weave and roll her fighter trying to keep out of harms way. «Hmm, looks like I picked up a few kitties on the way home. Can I keep them?» She asks with a slight chuckle.

They found their 'prey', but there isn't much they could do though after finding the big bitch besides radio it in. «Looks like we found her, Jericho. And her babies, time to kill some kittens.» Flicking off his comm, Razor quickly arms his Mass Driver Cannons as the distance between himself and the Dralthi diving in on him closes at an amazing rate. The head on pass was quick, almost too quick and both sides score hits. Razor's smacks into the Kilrathi's canopy though, cracking it and doing some damage while his last second hard break to the right earns himself some scorched paint. Looping back, the same Kilrathi goes at him head on again and thus the second clash begins.

Hammered by mass driver fire, one of the vaguely pancake-shaped Kilrathi ships cracks in half along the spine, spinning off into space as two rather useless chunks of durasteel with a dead pilot somewhere in between. The remaining Dralthi continue to engage the Terran light fighters, buying precious seconds for their carrier… even as the heavier Terran fighters that approach eat up the distance to the engagement.

Cole grins under his helmet as he bears in on the fight, watching as the dots on his radar slowly resolve to firmer contacts… and at the very edge of his screen, the tantalizing larger red-orange blip of the Fralthi. « Afternoon, folks. This is Voodoo's Delivery Service with a package of antimatter for mister K. Ilrathi… » Cole jokes, even as he squeezes the trigger at the Dralthi inattentive enough to flash across his sights.

A quick spray from the mass driver and Maximilian socks his target a good one, but as he peels away he notices one of his fellow pilots doing very well for herself indeed. «Leave some for the rest of us, Tsunami!» he mock-orders into his communications system as his Stiletto, once again unmolested after that initial furious burst, taking his time and swinging the fighter about in a long, languid arc, thumbing over to heat-seekers as he watches the bombers getting into range.

«Remember, flight, first priority is to keep the enemy off our bombers. Second priority is to look stylish. If the kitties attack a Broadsword, go in full tilt.» Looking at his instruments, the situation so completely under control, Maximilian adds under his breath, "Not that we have anything to worry about." These cats look more like kittens, from the battle so far: one kill already and his flight needing nothing more than a paint touch-up.

More scorched paint is earned by Razor as the second head on pass is completed while the Dralthi gets another smatter of Mass Driver fire into the nose, just missing the cockpit area which Razor was aiming for. Pulling up sharply, Kell puts his light interceptor into a steep climb before looping back, seeing that the Dralthi has had enough of the head-on engagement.
Gunning his throttle to full, Kell also kicks on the afterburners as he closes in on the Kilrathi while keeping an eye on his six, seeing that he has picked up an angry cat. Juking his Stiletto slightly to evade any fire from behind, Razor shoots his own cannons, sending a stream at the somewhat damaged Dralthi in front of him.

«Jericho, Tizona, I always look stylish.» Paz quips, jamming her throttles to the stops when she spots one of the undamaged Dralthi looking lonely. "Hello, kitty." she smiles, switching to friend or foe missiles and uncaging the seeker head. "You look lonely…Don't worry, ol' Tizona's here to keep you company."

«Roger that, lead. I'll try and hold back on the killing them all.» Kanani replies with a brief laugh. Now that her first target is blown up, she sets her sights on another of the fighters that are still chasing her, rolling her fighter to try and line up her guns on it.

Tori's been very quiet so far, settled into her Rapier and listening to the chatter without joining in. Even now, as they approach, she targets the first Dralthi that crosses her sights - it would be a surprise if it wasn't the same one as Voodoo, all things considered, and she finally speaks up, upon hearing some of the fun chatter. « Queen. Incoming. »

To say the extra firepower makes short work of things would be something of an understatement. Two of the Dralthi fly apart into expanding clouds of combusting atmosphere and debris as they're struck by weapons fire from all quarters. The lead ship of the Kilrathi flight is the lone survivor of the exchange, turning and heading back towards home. Better to bring the fight back to where his fellow kitties can do damage than to die uselessly, after all.

« Was anyone /not/ shooting that guy? » Cole wonders with a chuckle as missiles, lasers, mass drivers, and neutron rounds all slam into the target he'd been firing on. « See if we can pop the runner, then we'll reform to head in. Don't let yourself get drawn under that Fralthi's guns »

"Jesus.." Paz chuckles, crossing herself as her missile, plus a pair of mass drivers reduce the Dralthi to its component atoms in mere heartbeats. «Bet that Fuzzy is still trying to figure out what happened.» she chuckles, lining her remaining missile up to take out the remaining hostile.

«When we get this one, the fraction of a kill will be so small the board won't show it.» Maxmilian smiles to himself, toggling back to guns as the entire flight concentrates fire on the poor, unfortunate Kilrathi leader, who has seen his flight destroyed behind him and must face seemingly insurmountable odds. «I've been in his shoes,» says Jericho of the Kilrathi. «When you're the last one left you get desperate and you innovate. Keep it professional and don't count your kitties before they're drowned.» He doesn't get that expression quite right, yet perhaps he gets it precisely.

Taking care to keep away from the enemy carrier's anti-fighter fire, Maximilian hones in on the enemy leader, to give him a pass with his guns. Attacking hard, especially as he sees the enemy turning his way, but professional all the same.

Tori shakes her head silently, though she grins at Paz' reaction. Smush. Very big smush. Yeah, that's a good thing in her books, all told. « Aiming at the runner, and then falling back to protect the slow folks. » she says. Yeah, like her Rapier is so much faster, but it's heaps better than the Scimitars used to be.

Releasing a sigh, Kell is certainly disappointed that the Dralthi he is targetting lives on, his cannon fire only scratching paint. However, Razor presses on as he stays on the remaining Kilrathi's tail, closing in for a easier shot before unleashing a barrage of cannon fire on the lone hostile fighter.

Kanani slides her fighter in after the last of the kitties. Along with pretty much the rest of the Confed fighters. She doesn't bother wasting any expensive missiles right now, and instead just opens up with her mass drivers again, since they've been working so nice today.

With five fighters chasing it, and two bombers lobbing shots in from behind, what happens to the Dralthi is pretty much a foregone conclusion. As the first bursts of flak explode short of the Terran fighters, the bombers slow their movement, coming around in a lazy circle to give the fighters time to reform. After all, it's not like that Fralthi is going anywhere now. Playing it smart, the light carrier's close escorts don't come out to meet the Confederation fighters… loitering under the carrier's protective flak umbrella.

« Voodoo to flight. Form up on me. We've got the time to do this right, so let's make sure we do. We'll go in as a unit. Keep the formation loose, no point in letting a lucky gunner bullseye more than one of us. » His broadsword continues its lazy arc through space, finally bringing it back around with its nose pointed towards the Kilrathi cruiser.

Like a bug on a windshield, that. Sheesh. Tori wrinkles her nose as she pulls back to avoid that flak, easily flipping around to head over to take her position by the broadswords. « Roger, Voodoo, » she says calmly. « Guess we're done with the appetizers, and on to the main course, hmm? »

Settling into escort formation, Maximilian quickly does some sums on his fingers. «That's one one-seventh of a kill each. Well done, flight.» And the only pilot to miss his shot was the Kilrathi shooting at him. The 221st leader smiles a bit, as though to himself, playing with his controls and watching his perfectly unscathed fighter dance through space at his command. "It is a little too easy," he says to himself, off-intercom, "but I'm due a lucky one for once."

The Kilrathi was literally turned into paste, with the amount of energy and explosions that had engulfed it by the combined fire of all the Terran fire. Swinging his Stiletto around, Razor forms up with the others, getting ready to run the gauntlet of the Fralthi's flak range, even stray flak fire can be lethal. «Razor here, ready to go.»

«Is it really necessary to get that deeply into the numbers, Jericho» Kanani asks her CO with a bit of a chuckle. On hearing the bomber pilots orders, her fighter moves into loose formation with the other fighters, and she says. «Copy that, Voodoo. I'm ready, too.»

«Lead, Tizona, copy that. Forming up.» Paz says, nudging her ship into formation and chopping a little power to let the slower bombers keep up. "Let's hope the next wave's as dumb as the first." she murmurs, crossing herself again as she switches her weapons over.

And as the flight of Confederation fighters turns in towards the cruiser, the enemy finally comes out to meet them… a bit more directed fire lancing out towards the Confed ships now, concentrated on the pair of bombers at the center of the formation. As the four Jalthi heavy fighters spread out to draw the escorts, the faster Krant medium fighters head straight for the bombers.

« And now comes the fun part » Cole comments with a little shake of his head. « I can give you all one pass with my FFs on my way in, after that I'm going to be on the cruiser. Emu, follow my target » Cole orders simply, watching dispassionately as the host of red dots converge on his screen. After all, that's what being a bomber pilot is all about. « All craft, break and attack. Good hunting. »

Enemy interceptors scrambling. Why didn't they send them all in the first place? No time to worry about strategy now. «221st, interceptors targeting our bombers. Keep them -off-!» His voice raises a little towards the end and Maximilian sticks to his own example, ignoring the red light on his HUD alerting him to enemy attack and instead deciding to pick off one with Cole in his eyes. As he flies, though, he spares a brief glance back at the expanding remains of Dralthi-1. That had been him, not so long ago, except he'd flown out of it.
Fuuuuck.
But with the enemy beginning to swarm and kitties getting out of their litter boxes, now would be a bad time to reminisce. A quick stab of his foot at a pedal and he drives into a hard turn, banking slightly as he assaults the Jalthi second, missiles keyed in and blood there for the taking. A half and a seventh is a bad night's work for a squadron leader.

«Voodoo, Emu, you've got a Krant apiece on your six, moving to intercept.» Paz calls, dropping back to fall into the beefy little fighter's tail and lining up the pipper for her neutron guns on its engines. "This should get his attention." she says, squeezing the trigger.

With the Krants getting swarmed by most of the Terran fighters and bombers, Kell was about the join the dogpiling party when he spots the Jalthi's looping around to flank those going after the Krants. Breaking to the right, Razor decides to slot himself behind the Jalthi that is gunning for Victoria. «Looks like you picked up a hostile on your six, Your Highness. Watch yourself, gonna try to clear it off of your tail.» His own radar picks up a hostile on his six as well but for now he ignores the Jalthi that is heading at him.

Kanani rolls her fighter and gets on the tail of one of the Krant's that have picked up the bombers as targets. Once she's got a lock with her heat seeker, she pulls the trigger, letting it fly off her missile rack. «Fox 2.» She remarks as she spares the target another glance, before manuvering her Stiletto out of harms way.

Tori was expecting the hard part of the fight. The interesting part. It's time for the big bruisers, after all, and well, that is what they're here for. "Time to get some kittens to chase their tails," she murmurs to herself, her expression going intent, as she starts to concentrate on the tough s.o.b.'s that are trying to ruin the party. She can't help but grin at Razor's comment, even if he's /still/ playing with that royalty thing. She has an alert yammering at her, so she flies a little bit more cautiously to try to give the sucker a hard time catching her. « Aw, Razor, you always go for the good gifts,» is all she replies, amusement curling through her voice. She switches weapons, and aims at the Krant that's in on the broadsword, or at least at one of them. First things first, or at least, that's the plan. Target and bomb's away. « Time to party, Tizona - let's get 'em. Tally ho. » Hey, it is the 1087th and it's all Pip's fault.

And here's where things get a whole lot of not-fun in a hurry. The Confederation fighters get the better of the initial pass, certainly… trading a few light hits for the destruction of one of the heavy Kilrathi craft. The Fralthi's guns seem quick to find their aim, however, a flurry of flak bursting around Emu's bomber… and just like that, the Broadsword is gone.

« Christ on a crutch » Cole grumbles under his breath, angling away from the shots that begin to concentrate in his direction. « Voodoo to flight, Emu's gone. Keep those bastards off me, or this is going to be a very short trip » Cole adds, keeping an eye towards the pair of Krant now chasing after him, even as he lines up his shot on the Kilrathi ship's flight deck. Without the other bomber to support him, he's gotta go for the cheap shots.

Paz winces when she sees Tori's ship take a hit, but is too busy trying to punch a hole in the lead Krant's engines or fuel tank to say anything. Emu's explosion puts a knot in her stomach, as does Cole's call. «Lead, Tizona, copy, wilco. Flight, reccommend as many of you target those Krants as possible.» she calls. «Queen, Tizona, still with me over there?»

One missile, and there are chunks of Jalthi polluting the spacelanes while enemy mass driver fire tears the space around his cockpit. Maximilian has no time for triumph as his quick eye spots the critical situation and, more importantly, the loss of a bomber to capital guns. «Voodoo, it's Jericho,» he says, as if his accent weren't identity enough. «If you keep yourself away from that flak I give us good odds against the fighters.» There are no more spoken instructions: he's expressed his faith in his fighters; now to see if events live up to his confident prediction.

Picking up on the second Krant, Maximilian once again swings in. The fighter attacking him personally is still out there but the squadron leader pays it no heed: he dials in one of the enemy medium fighter, gives it a dab of afterburner, and plunges once again into the fray.

Kanani certainly wishes her last attack had done more damage to the Krant she's chasing, but at least it messed up his shot some. Unfortunately the bomber it was chashing flew into the flak, so it ended up not mattering all that much. Letting her final missile get a lock on the Krant, she launches and calls out, «Fox 2, and that's all my missiles.» Before she turns her attention to avoiding the flak being tossed out by the Fralthi.

Unable to track the Krants on his sensors with the flak exploding all around and multiple Kilrathi's flying about, Razor continues to trail after the Jalthi he has been aiming at while trying to shake the one behind him. He unloads another burst of Mass Driver fire onto the heavy fighter, hoping to atleast distract it enough so that the Rapier Captain can nail one of the Krants.

« I'm still here, Tizona. Queen reporting a hit, but still in action. Good thing I already fired out of that launcher though. » She's not sure if she even should try to fire another IR, but on the other hand, this is looking a little bit hairy. And that's without the kittens. She zigs and zags, trying to get another shot off on the Krant, trying to at least pull them enough off the Magic Man so he can take out Momma kat. « Bombs away, Tally ho, and all that jazz,» she calls as she gets a lock on, and fires.

The Kilrathi fighters take a further beating, missiles tearing into both Krant as they launch… one surviving the impacts, though barely, and the other shattering. Both missiles aimed at the sole surviving Confederation bomber fly wide. Flak tears through the empty spaces between the Confed formation, but nowhere near close enough to threaten anything. Perhaps the gunners exercising a little further caution, so as not to hit their own escorts.

It's a mistake they'll pay for with their lives. Left with an uninterrupted line in towards the cruiser, Cole gives a little savage smile as the warble of his seeker warhead acquiring lock changes to a solid tone. A push of the trigger later, and his torpedo sails free to slip neatly through the cruiser's shields, beginning a rippling series of explosions along the Kilrathi cruiser's hull that quickly consume the ship.

« You bastards kill mine, I kill yours » Cole calls to the Kilrathi over open comms, already switching his selector switch back to the missiles and plunging himself into the fighter combat that remains behind. Apparently he's not the happiest of bomber pilots at the moment, and he fully intends on making the Kilrathi pay further for the loss of his wingman.

The space lights up with multiple explosions, luckily it is the Kilrathi that are blowing up and Razor's sensors doesn't have that many red blips left. Now, he can focus a bit more on the same Jalthi without much harrassment and he flicks over to Heat Seekers, having saved them up for when he isn't getting pinged from the back. Latching onto the Kilrathi's tail, Kell waits for the solid lock tone before launching his missile.

«Holy Mary, Mother of God!» Paz breathes over the comm, instinctively closing her eyes and turning her head to avoid being blinded by the Fralthi's final moments. One thing's for certain, she doesn't have to sweat the carrier's flak ring anymore. Make that two things, the other being that now the enemy has nothing to lose and are, predictably going suicidally shat bit as they attempt to avenge their carrier. "Okay, gentlemen, time to draw this fine evening to a close." she smiles to herself, swtiching to Image Recognition missiles and immediately twigging a lock on the lead Jalthi. «Fox two!» she calls.

«Those cats don't seem very happy, do they?» Kanani asks as the Kilrathi fighters seem to abandon any defensive measures. Losing their nice landing place tends to do that to people though, she figures, as he lines her guns up with one of the Jalthi, trying to bring a bit of cheer and light into the enemy pilots life.

«Bravo, Confederation!» Maximilian exclaims in delight as he sees his and Tsunami's missiles obliterating an enemy medium fighter while the Kilrathi capital ship goes up in fire. «I think our job is about done here. Let's cover the bombers RTB and we'll be on their tail. Any time you're ready, Voodoo.» The rather pointed tip to the bomber leader has such a barb on it it's a wonder a fighter isn't brought down by the words alone. The older fighter pilot has, perhaps, seen a man lose a wingman or two before.

With his own actions relatively free, Maximilian picks from his selection of targets. Both the Jalthi and the Krant leaders are on him now, in addition to his old friend. He picks the Jalthi. «Tsunami, you've hit a few for me already, one more would be nice,» he says as he careers on his standard all-out attack trajectory towards the enemy flight leader, toggling to mass drivers as he tries to punch a hole through another villain.

Tori's been on this Krant all day and well, she's bound to finish him, if she can. She might only get one hit, but hopefully it will be a good one. She smiles viciously though, glee showing on her face as all the explosions rock and when it's all done, there are more missing cats who won't ever be found. « Nice shooting, folks. Let's keep to the plan and finish these stragglers quickly. » And hope there's not any unheralded aces in the bunch. « Full Guns, still on the krant,» she adds, just to keep everyone on the same page.

No sooner than she's crowing to herself about the lovely little shot she delivered to the Jalthi, she's cursing as one of its wingmen puts a heatseeker right on the nose of Rapier, causing all manner of caution and warning lights to start strobing and hooting. Damage information scrolling neatly down her display. «Flight, Tizona, I'm hit, but it's not too bad. Will see what I can do with it on the way back to the barn. Continuing my attack.» she calls. "Okay, shithead, your buddy's little stunt is going to cost you." she says, grinning as she realizes her Image Recognition's seeker heads still work just fine. So it's only a matter of lining up, waiting for the warbling tone to go to a solid hum and squeezing the trigger.

Their carrier destroyed, and any chance of survival gone, the Kilrathi fighters fight with extra intensity… turning in aggressively towards their human attackers. Though their method certainly provides better luck than they'd been having before, scoring damage on several of the Confederation fighters, the aggressive approach also leaves them easy prey for Terran shots. In quick succession, three of the four craft fall.

« I'll be ready when the last of this lot is dead, Jericho » Cole comments flatly, maneuvering his bomber for a shot on the last of the Jalthi. Not about to let one have even a chance of getting away after that.

«Oh, dogpile on the Kilrathi.» Kanani remarks over the comm, as her guns move in on the last of the cats, opening fire once the cockpit is in her sights.

At least that moment doesn't seem to be long in coming. Maximilian looks out through his cockpit window at the aggressive bomber and shakes his head, but that's all he does. That's all he can do.

Missiles whistle about him, coming in at right angles to each other. Maximilian plays it straight: a shot at the maneuvering thrusters allows one heatseeker to whistle past him while the other impacts the armoured nose of his ship, inflicting damage but nothing extensive. The resulting strike more than throws off his aim, his mass driver fire not in the least affecting his target, but with the devestation in the Kilrathi ranks it hardly matters except to the kill counters.

«Bringing down another lonely flight leader…» Maximilian murmurs into his com, manouevering his now slightly wounded Scimitar, mass drivers blazing, going for the kill.

Tori jukes out of the way of some of the debris, satisfied that she did manage to score one kill at least today. The way her luck's been running since she got back off that leave, she'll take it. « And that should be soon enough, Voodoo, » she says, simply. Kanani's comment gets a chuckle, as Queen targets that one remaining Jalthi. She targets and lets loose her own guns. « Tizona, after you take this shot, it's back to base for you. Even if the sucker somehow manages to escape. » Uhm, yeah. The crew will yelp about the fighter, but Tori'd rather keep the pilots undamaged if she can.

Razor's first missile flies try as it tracks the Jalthi through space, the internal computer plotting an intercept course which causes it to neatly impale the Kilrathi heavy fighter before exploding. The Kilrathi Heavy Fighter blows apart brilliantly and Kell swings his fighter around, seeing that due to the hostiles' reckless nature, the enemies numbers have been whittled down to one. Looks like another round of paste the kitty is coming up.

Boom.

« Alright, showing everything's clear. No pods on sensors from Emu's fighter. Guess at least he'll be arriving with an escort. » Cole comments, bringing his bomber around to head back along the way they'd come. « Let's bring 'em back home. »

«Lead, Tizona, copy that.» Paz smiles, sighing as she settles in for the hop back to the carrier. «Shame about Emu.» she comments. «But I think we avenged him pretty well.»

There'll be enough cat fur floating through this sector to keep Maximilian's allergies acting up for a month.

«Back to the barn,» Jericho confirms and he's the first to take his own advice, bringing the Scimitar around and returning to base with all order and haste.

Kanani glances out of her cockpit over the few visible pieces of wrecked fighters and light carrier, as her fighter moves on a heading back towards the Majestic. «Copy that, lead. Heading back home.»

Back on the flight deck…

Paz completes her post flight and slips out of her Rapier and moves to inspect the damage to it's nose. "Sheesh….Bent all to shit." she sighs. "Chieff Weiss is never going to let me hear the end of this." she grumbles, moving to sign off on the ship's yellow sheet.

Cole makes his way along out of his bomber, dropping out the hatch down to the deck… removing his gloves and helmet, placing his gloves inside the helmet and going to lob it back through the hatch. A little of Cole's frustration shows, though, and instead of the usual light toss his helmet can be heard to land against something inside pretty solidy. Apparently, he threw it a little harder than he meant to.

Kanani finishes up all of her post flight stuff, and slides out of her Stiletto, climbing down from the cockpit and glancing over her fighter as she sets foot on the deck. She gives a faint nod, at seeing it in mostly the same condition that it left in the first place. A glance over at Cole's fighter, brings a slight frown to her lips, and she heads over, asking. "Hey, are you alright, there?"

"How long do you think it'll take to pound that back into place?" Paz inquires one of the techs, smiling a little and laughing when she's flipped off. "Copy that. Well, if you'll excuse me, gentlemen…I have got to use the little pilot's room." she says, giving a wave before heading towards the head. "Hey, Tsunami, Voodoo." she says in passing. "Sorry about your man, Major." she adds gently.

"Strike hard who cares, shoot straight who can, The odds are on the cheaper man." Cole quotes over towards Paz, giving a little shake of his head. That comment made, he looks towards Kanani, forcing a thin smile to his face for her benefit. "I'll be alright, Kanani" Cole replies to her. "Just a goddamn lousy trade. Even if I'm sure tactical will tell us otherwise"

Kanani gives Cole a nod, as she says. "Tactical ain't the ones doing all the dirty work. It's easy for them to say things like that." She grimaces a bit and shrugs shaking her head some.

"Yeah, no shit." Paz nods. "Always comforts me to know my life's just a mark in a plus or a minus column." she smirks ruefully.

Cole gives a little bit of a nod at Kanani's words. "But I'll be alright, really. Not the first time it's happened, and I'm sure it won't be the last" Cole replies. At least he's tactful enough not to mention his relief that it wasn't her.

"If it's any consolation, I know _exactly_ how you feel." Paz says simply, "Wanna get loaded after debrief?"

"Not sure I'll inflict my company on you tonight" Cole replies to Paz with a little shake of his head. "Trust me, I'd be a shitty drinking partner right now"

"Well, fair enough, then." Paz comments, nodding her understanding. "I'll have a pint or two for Emu, then." she smiles sadly. "Anyhow, I need to find a head." she chuckles. "My relief bladder's only so big, ya know?"