Never a Hero Pt 1
Never a Hero Pt 1
Arc: None
Summary: A potential Intelligence coup sends the Majestic's fighter crews, CMO and a squad of Marines on a dangerous mission deep behind enemy lines.
Date: 2658.250
Related Logs: Never a Hero Pt 2
Participants: Cole, Buchanan, Cole, James, Kanani, Oceana, Paz, Raine, Susan, Victoria, Walsh

Briefing Room Deck 12
Nexus System, Fariss Quadrant — 1931 Hours 2658.249

Set above the ready line, this sizable room serves as a briefing area for the Majestic's air wing. Stadium-style seating in five rows provides space for sixty pilots or other flight crew. At the front of the room, a lectern with the Confederation logo stands on a raised platform for presentations, with a trio of chairs located behind it. A large vidscreen is set into the wall, for projecting mission flight paths or other critical information. The side walls are decorated with the insignia of the squadrons operating off of the Majestic.

Late evening aboard the TCS Majestic on yet another typically busy, but less than exciting day. With no enemy action to deal with, only the routine patrols and maintenance routines, the Rumor Mill has been extra busy. Today's scuttlebutt has been all about the shuttle that arrived about noon today and the pair of suits, one reported to be somewhere in his mid sixties, and the other a nervous young aide. Who they are, nobody seems to know, but one version of the story is that they're from Confed Intelligence. Another story has them going directly to the Captain, and that, according to one yeoman expelled from the cabin, Saint Cloud wasn't very happy to see them. Whether or not the rumor is true, what is known is that not long after, the word was passed for volunteers, both fighter crews, bomber crews and a squad of marines to assemble in the Briefing Room at about 21:30. Delays have pushed that meeting further and further back until now.
Inside the briefing room stand the two, black suited men, a stack of sealed envelopes on the podium and a tense atmosphere.

Cole makes his way along into the room, looking along over towards the two black-suited men curiously. "If you blokes were here for the funeral, I'm afraid you're a couple days late" he comments to the pair of them, as he makes his way along to his accustomed seat and drops into it gracelessly.

Tori probably shouldn't volunteer for such missions, but the 1087th CO is all about making a good impression. And she doesn't want a desk job. So when they call out for volunteers, she makes her way down to the briefing room on time. She's wearing her flight suit, ready to go, just in case, helmet in hand. The two black suited men get a long sober look from Tori, and then her gaze goes over to Cole at his comment. "Better not be any rocks in this mission either," she grouses, as she finds a seat a couple rows back and behind Cole. Needless to say, she can in fact throw things at the bomber pilot if she had anything to throw. She takes her own seat with a lot more grace too.

A bit odd for the CMO to show up, but Raine will wander in quietly. She has her bonsai with her, and anything the Marines might slap on her. She sits near the pilots, looking thoughtful.

James walks into the briefing room and looks towards the suited figures as he walks towards a front row seat. "Please tell me that we'll know what we're volunteering for this time rather then having to volunteer blind like last time."

Kanani slinks her way into the briefing room, quickly finding a place to sit in the usual 221st's seating area. She probably shouldn't be here, but she is anyways, and she tries to make sure that Raine doesn't notice her in particular. Without actually making it obvious that she's trying to stay out of sight, of course.

Fighters, Bombers and Marines, oh my. Dorothy never had it so good. The new marine, no doubt, Oceana saunters in with a bounce to her step. She pauses at the door, until the person in front of her steps aside, and then Cea gets the lay of the land a little better. She walks in and nabs a seat in the front row, where she's sure she won't miss a thing.

Walsh saunters into the briefing room, quietly taking a seat close to the exit. He doesn't really know what he's getting into, but if it has the potential for more barbecue Kilrathi, he's on board.

Paz meanders into the Briefing Room, humming quietly to herself as she moves to take a seat near her fellow Minutemen. "Okay, who died?" she murmurs to Victoria. "I mean, looks like the undertaker's here. So where's the corpse?"

Buchanan gives everyone a drink of water, should the need it in order to concentrate

"Good evening, people." The older man says simply. "Ladies and Gentlemen, my apologies for the delays in this action." he begins. "The mission we are proposing is both highly classified and highly dangerous." he says. "You there." he says, pointing to Buchanan. "Name and Rank?" he asks.

Susan, heartened by the sight of people coming in who aren't wearing suits, sighs in relief and takes her seat next to Cole, accidentally blocking Victoria's line of fire. Oh well, she'll learn.

"Petty Officer 1st Class Jack Buchanan Sir" I'm here to provide everyone with a class of water to aid in their concentration.

Tori doesn't really mind if her line of fire at Cole is destroyed. She has nothing she's willing to throw at him anyway. Black magic, that's all. She blinks at Paz as the younger pilot sits down and chuckles softly. "You got me. Maybe we'll find out during the briefing? Unless of course they are a week late, as Voodoo suggested." She can't help but frown at the back of his head, but only for a brief moment. She then goes quiet as the older gentleman starts speaking.

Cole, for his part, remains oblivious to both the plans to throw things at the back of his head, and the fact that the newest member of his squadron has just interrupted said plans. His greeting to Susan is a quietly murmured "This one's going to be ugly. The ones with guest briefers always are"

Uh oh. Raine watches the interplay between people. She smiles at Buchanan and tilts her head, listening. She frowns, but offers a slight wave to Oceana before setting her bonsai down to watch too.

Kanani turns her attention towards the two suits that seem to be conducting this particular briefing, she leans back in her chair a bit, and just waits to hear what sort of wild goose chase Confed's trying to send people on, this time.

Oceana rolls her eyes as the suits interrogate the poor cook. She turns to look over the rest of the room, checking if the very few people she's already met are here or not. Oh look, there's one. She flashes a smile and returns Raine's wave cheerily. Not very professional, but oh well. And … okay, so the acting CO she doesn't see, nor that Hylanen fellow. Since she's out of folks she recognizes mostly, she turns back to watch the suits in action.

"Well, Petty Officer 1st Class Jack Buchanan, now that you've done your job, I'd appreciate it if you gave us our privacy, son. These people are about to receive intelligence way above their, and your, pay grade. We all appreciate your devotion to your duties, but I think it'd be for the best if you skedaddled."

Walsh grabs the glass that has been offered to him and takes a sip. The drink's not caffeinated, but it'll have to do. He places the glass back on the desk in front of him as the Men in Black begin to speak, suppressing a chuckle at the expense of the enlisted man.

"Very well sir, but but for the record, when referring to an enlisted man, the term is Rate, not Rank.” Buchanan replies.

Susan offers a nod and a grateful smile to Petty Officer 1st Class Jack Buchanan as she accepts her glass. Never hurts to have something to drink during these things. Cole's remark makes the smile fade instantly, though, and she turns worried eyes on the two suits.

Paz has to bite her tongue to suppress a giggle as Buchanan fires back at the old duffer, giving him a subtle 'thumb's up' and a nod of approval.

James mutters "In other words we won't know until after we agree to whatever this idea is. Great just great." He smiles thankfully as he takes the water and begins sipping it.

"Duly noted, son. Thank you for the reminder." the old man replies placidly, then turns back towards the assembled team.

Buchanan quickly leaves. He thinks to himself I've got more experince in my big toe than that old man has in his whole body! He'd respect me if I was still a quarter master. at least the docs smile make up for it.

Tori just picks up her glass of water and has a sip, using that to give approval tacitly. Hey, it's lways good when someone can thumb their nose at the suits and get away with it. The suits don't have a really good rep around here, it seems. "Alright then, what is it you're wanting us to do for you fine gentlemen today?" she asks, expecting they'll wait until Buchanan has made his exit before answering, so relaxing back into her seat to wait.

"As I was saying, this mission is considered by Intelligence to be vital to the success of our war effort." the old man continues, turning on the projector and displaying the first of his images. "You'll be departing the Majestic and traveling here." he says. "Tingerhoff system, specifically the planet Bodensee. This, as you know is a good ways behind enemy lines. It's also going to be at the ragged edge of your fuel supply, particularly the fighters. Now, as of the last intelligence update, the delay of which for confirmation is the reason this briefing's been pushed back to now, you should have a clean run to the jump gate into the system. The Kilrathi have already stripped everything they thought would be of use on Bodensee, including the colonists who refused to evacuate, so there are no regular patrols through the area, nor is there a garrison on planet."

"See? Told you" Cole comments to Susan almost smugly, before he turns his attention back towards the presentation being given to actually take a few notes. Apparently, premonitions of doom or not, he's still intending on going.

James looks pleasantly surprised by being given information on the mission before deciding if he is going. He settles in and his eyes narrow as he listens and ponders.

Kanani watches the presentation, and gives a faint smirk, as the nature of the mission starts to become clearer.

Cea decides at this point she's kind of glad that she's not from Bodensee, which was one of her parents' original points of destination thoughts, though they changed their mind from that soon enough. Thankfully. She listens to what's going on, understanding that the fighters will be arriving with pretty much no fuel. So there'll need to be some sort of refueling or it's a one way mission. That gets a frown on the young marine's face, though she still stays quiet for the moment, at least hearing them out.

Paz absorbs the detail about her potential fuel state on arrival and does some quick math in her head. Her expression makes it clear she doesn't like whatever number she's come up with.

Raine is listening, and winces. She seems sympathetic though, and frowns. Poor… poor colonists. It;s troubling. Her expression twists away from a smile. She sighs softly, to listen.

Walsh takes stock of the information offered. Behind enemy lines~: check. Bingo fuel territory~: check. Atmospheric flight~: probable check. This is gonna be ~-fun~-. He sits back and waits for the plan that'll make this all work, hopefully forthcoming.

Susan frowns at the mention of the colonists, in sympathy. That changes to concern as she thinks about the matter of fuel. "Think it'll be a one-way trip?" she whispers to Cole.

Yeah, Tori's not too crazy about those numbers either, especially since she just got rescued from her /LAST/ intel brainiac mission. This is going from bad to worse - maybe she really doesn't have to give a good example for the troops after all. Right?

"On arrival, you'll fly to the northwest continent, there's an airfield…" he says, clicks the button and another image appears. "Here. Callahan Field. It was pretty beaten up during the initial round of fighting, but we've managed to sneak a few people in with enough gear to refurbish the runway and get the fueling farm back on line." the old man continues. "Once you arrive, you'll be able to do a hot refuel. That's where the marines come into play. Marines, your mission will be to establish a perimeter around the facility. Just because we're not _expecting_ trouble, doesn't mean we might not find it. If it comes to a shooting match, you're to hold the position long enough for the ships to get refueled, and primary cargo to be secured on the shuttle. Then haul ass out of there."

Hold a perimeter long enough for refueling and securing cargo on a shuttle? That shouldn't be too difficult, on an empty planet. Yeah, sure it's empty. Cea doesn't say anything right away, but if she was a betting person, she'd bet that the Kilrathi intel is having some sort of briefing round about now too. Huh. Gotta wonder what is so important that this sort of mission is sent in to try to collect it. "So this cargo, whatever it is, that we're extracting - it's worth risking our lives for? Really and truly and not just some theoretical mumbo-jumbo?" she asks, curiously.

Walsh wonders what the cargo is that's important enough to foray behind enemy lines for. At least they'll have somewhere to refuel, but Sod's law states that the place'll be crawling with furries the moment we land. Aw well, only live once, right?

Empty planets are good right? Raine looks hopeful that there's no kitties hanging about, but for her part, she frowns and listens. It's never that easy is it?
"So not a one-way trip," Susan whispers, with some relief. She settles back in her chair, only to find that whoever's in front of her has leaned back too, and now she can't see. She half-rises, pulling her flight pack from the floor and setting it in her chair, then sitting on top of it. Much better.

"If we didn't think that, Lieutenant, we wouldn't be here." the old man replies simply. "I'm not going to blow smoke up anyone's ass here, people." he adds. "This operation wasn't laid on quick, it was laid on in a full-on panic. The work on Callahan Field? That was meant for another operation, and this one's probably going to scuttle those plans" he explains flatly. "Nobody saw this coming, but now that it has, we have _got_ to pull it off." he explains, switching to his next image. This one of a cylindrical device, approximately ten feet long by four feet wide, held up by an antigrav field. "Meet the Mark 20-40 personal cryosleep capsule. This is what you're there to retrieve." he says. "Doctor Raine, you are to keep this thing close by you at all times. If you have to examine the settings, I've got the baseline data you'll need to check the results against in your packet."

"Well, long as that one-way is 'back' I don't have a problem with it" Cole jokes quietly to Susan, before turning his attention back to the briefing that's being delivered, making a couple more little notes as he goes about listening and making his comments from the peanut gallery.

James looks toward the Intel officer running the numbers in his head as he does so and wincing. He then looks Raine's way after she is spoken to before looking to the Intel agents confused. "All this for one being?"

"…" Blink. She tilts her head and nods. "Yes sir," Raine accepts. She smiles politely. She peers over at the image, looking thoughtful.

Paz cocks her head and peers at the image being displayed, over to Raine, back to the image and settles back into her seat with an absolutely inscrutable expression on her face.

"Well, I would take it as a personal favor if you also got the three guys I've got bird dogging the damn thing." The old man replies with a hint of a smile on his face. "But, essentially, that's it, son. And no, before anybody asks, I cannot tell you who they are or why. Doctor Raine." he adds, turning to address the CMO again. "You are only authorized to open that capsule if the person inside of it is in extremis. And by extremis, I mean, red lights and screaming sirens, understood?"

Buh. A blink. This surprises Raine, to be honest. She peers at the old man, curious. "Fair enough, sir," She remarks quietly. Not much she can do to protest really, nor would it be good form. She seems a bit thoughtful over it, hazel eyes considering the man more than before.

Walsh chews on the end of a fingernail, wearing a puzzled expression. Cryo capsules on random planets now? Why not. Wouldn't surprise him if Intel never does anything straightforward.

"Straight in, gas and load, straight back?" Susan pipes up.

Kanani ponders for a moment, then asks a question that's been on her mind. "So how exactly are we going to get our fighters into that system to do the mission? The Broadswords are the only fighters we have, that've got jump drives."

"You'd be surprised how easy it is to find a jump point that takes you where you want to go, if you're willing to do a little creative navigating, Lieutenant." The old man replies with another hint of a smile. "That's most of the reason you'll be so low on push water when you arrive. The nav data's all in your packets, pilots. I know that out in the fleet, this is pretty much the equivalent of saying 'fuck you', but I'll say it anyway. Trust me. This op's too important for us not to have done our homework. And yes, Lieutenant, straight in, gas and load, and straight back, as if you were fleeing the very fires of hell itself. Any trouble, repeat _any_ trouble, you are to safeguard the shuttle until it can hit a jump gate. You run into opposition on the way in, make sure you don't let any of them get away, one of them does, get your asses back here. Op will be considered blown at that point."

"Straight in /quietly/, gas and load, straight back," Susan says aloud, revising her original estimation. Sounds simple enough… on paper.

James nods grimly and readies himself for what is likely to come "I'm in." he confirms quietly "I just hope whoever this is will actually be worth all of the trouble."

"Confed Couriers. From A to B via Andromeda." Walsh mutters, a little too loudly. Hearing Susan's comment, he ventures "More like as crooked as possible, quietly, I think."

"Well." Paz says, stifling a yawn behind her fist and giving a stretch. "I guess I'm deranged or something, but what the hell. I'm in." she replies with a grin. "No way I'm gonna be hearing about this one second hand."

"Sounds stupid and bloody dangerous" Cole comments with an amused chuckle from over where he's sitting. "Which I suppose makes it about like the rest of this war. Might as well join the party."

Kanani grins slightly as she catches Cole's comment, as well as a few others, before she adds her own statement. "I must be a glutton for punishment, but I'm in too."

Raine is quiet, "Well. I've already thrown my hat into the ring unless one of my doctors is dying to go." And odds are? Probably not. She looks bemused.

"If we're going to be running, it never hurts to have as many tail gunners as possible. Count me in," Susan says. "I'd better check maintenance about my ship, though. They might not've fixed everything from the shakedown last night." She moves to one of the wall intercoms.

"Okay, people. You know the mission. Go get your ships prepped. You're skids up as soon as you're fitted out." the old man says finally.

Kilrathi Occupied Space - Several hours later

Three jumps out of the Tingerhoff system, in the endless river of night between suns. The stars a distant sprinkle of diamonds across a blue-black curtain. Lonely? You bet.

It turns out that the old man, shockingly, pretty much knew what he was talking about. The route they were provided with is good, but involves some of the most bass-ackward navigation imaginable. But it makes for a long, boring flight.

Which gives Raine time to read her packet. She furrows her brows. "I wonder if this is something like Cloud or…" Hm. He's pretty far from a baseline human but. Weird.

James flies along in his Stiletto watching his scanners carefully, and whispering a prayer that however their jump was set would actually work out right.

Kanani grimaces slightly, as her 'borrowed' fighter makes it's way along the route that they were given. It's hideously boring, so far as far as she's concerned, and she sorta wishes she'd been able to bring along some extra pain killers as well. She keeps her eyes on the sensor readouts of her ship, not wanting to be caught by surprise by any lurking kitties, and gives a shake of the head to herself, wondering why she came along in the first place.

Walsh shakes himself to ward off a feeling of drowsiness that is creeping into his mind, wishing even more that his drink earlier had contained caffeine. He takes the opportunity to check his radar, and run through his MFD readouts for the umpteenth time. «Are we there yet?» He half-whines, half-chuckles.

«Ozone, Tizona, I swear….If you ask that again and I have to stop this car.» Paz replies, chuckling softly. «Good Lord, but this is so not exciting! Are all of you guy's special missions this fun?»

Some time later, with three jumps before reaching Tingerhoff, the pilot's visual sweeps reveal a flight of three enemy craft at about ten o'clock high. Type unknown. Just then, the flight's sensor systems begin to ping on the very same contact. Analysis reveals three Sartha-type enemy ships, cruising in standard formation and, thus far, unaware of the Confed flight about to cross their path.

«But seriously, I think getting electrocuted was more fun than this» Walsh deadpans. «When are they gonna rig these things with coffee machines?» He's tilting his head from side to side, attempting to alleviate the growing stiffness in his neck, when new radar blips catch his attention. «Belay that. I got contacts.»

Kanani notices the sensor contacts as they appear on the sensors, and she gives a bit of a hmm. «Well, looks like the boredom's about to go away for a bit, at least.» She remarks, and shakes her head before she mutters to herself. "To bad the same isn't nearly as true of being tired though."

Alas, Raine is no pilot. So she frets a bit, as a passenger.

«Flight, Tizona, I count zero-three Sartha-class enemy fighters inbound at three two four mark three one one.» Paz calls, heating up her first image recognition missile as the adrenalin starts kicking away the worst of her tiredness. «Doesn't look like they've spotted us.» she reports. «We play this smart, we can smoke all three before they get wise.»

The three Sartha continue to fly straight on, oblivious to the three Confed ships lurking just below their visual horizons. This deep into conquered space, they've gotten a little on the lazy side. Walsh's missile streaks by the lead Sartha's canopy, rocket motor dazzling the eyes of it's pilot. His wing man’s ship suddenly lurches as Paz's missile explodes against the underbelly of his shields. The other wing man doesn't have time to think about much of anything as Kanani's attack burns through his shields and shreds his engines, detonating then a heartbeat later.

Kanani isn't nearly as excited about the fact that her missile ripped apart her target. After all, the group is still a long way's away from home, and low on fuel. Add to that, the fact that the other two Sartha's are in more or less perfect condition, and there's still a problem to be dealt with. As the first of the ships heads towards her, she switches to guns and fires off a shot, and then starts to juke and roll her fighter, trying to keep it from taking any hits.

"Sonuva.." Walsh groans as his missile fails to strike true. A moment later, he sees its wingmate explode, which raises his spirits some. «Good shot whoever that was! You can have my missiles next time» With the gap between the two flights closing, he switches to guns. Time to get close and personal. A tight corkscrew later, he's fixing his cross-hairs on the lead craft.

Paz curses as she watches one of her precious missiles do the predictable thing, explode harmlessly on the enemy ship's shields. Switching to guns, the young Rapier jock stops hard on her thruster pedal to pitch her craft up and starts drawing a bead on the lead ship as it comes screaming down from the perch after Kanani.

Raine can only watch, perhaps, if that. It's at least, a relief that their side is smashing the Sarthas so far.
James dives into the fight late and swings into a spiral when he notices a fighter veering his way firing off a snapshot as he goes.

As per usual with the Rapier and it's annoying gun sight, Paz's burst manages, miraculously, to hit the peppy little Kilrathi fighter, but her rounds strike it's cockpit. Not a completely undesirable result, considering how she sees them lance into the cabin itself. But it does have the effect of getting the second ship's undivided attention diverted to her. "Okay, forget guns….let's try this." Paz says, flipping the selector switch to her neutron weapon and lining up for what she hopes is the shot that will take the thing out.

James weaves out of the way of the rocket and shakes his head as the enemy fighter breaks off. He turns towards the most damaged enemy fighter and roars in guns blazing.

Kanani sighs slightly in annoyance. It's not like she really expected to hit anything, but she's still a bit disappointed. On noticing that Tizona had pegged the first of the fighters, she switches to the second, lining it up in her sights, and opening fire with the mass drivers again.

Raine quietly cheers for the pilots, biting her lower lip. C'mon…

"Kitty's goin' -down-." Walsh announces to his cockpit. He breaks off, applying afterburner for another pass from a better aspect, hoping to peg the damn cat in the head.

Careful shooting between Walsh and Paz bring the pilot of Sartha1's war to abrupt, fiery end as the Kilrathi ship disintegrates. Kanani's burst tears hunks out of it's partner's port wing, resulting in the pilot spinning about on his RCS to engage the Confed pilot almost head on with his neutron weapon.

«Flight, Tizona…I'm hit….it doesn't look good, but I've got enough to keep it together long enough to finish this one guy off.» Paz radios, frantically clicking off master alarm warnings as she tucks her wounded bird into as tight a turn as she dares make with structural damage and lines up to show Sartha2 a little love.

Kanani grimaces as she sees Paz take a hit from a dumbfire, and then calls out her damage. She keeps her sights on the remaining cat and fires off another salvo of her guns. «Lets hurry up and finish this guy, before any of us take any more damage.» She states calmly. Hopefully someone will finish the cat off, she figures.

Walsh jinks avoid the remains of his adversary, giving a small, cheery wave as he does. He pulls into a turn at the limits of his craft's agility, aiming to intercept the final Sartha. «Damn, Tizona. Let's show this cat the door.»

James turns back and roars towards his original target "Do you remember me my little stupid but lucky furry friend?" He opens fire as he speaks the last words.

With four professional Confed pilots determined to do him in, Sartha2's pilot has about zero chance of getting out of this alive, and he probably knew it going in. A pair of sharp blows lance through its shields and into its cockpit. It detonates a moment later, reducing itself to its component atoms in a rapidly expanding ball of gas and shards of metal. And then, they're alone.

James runs a quick scan of his fighter looking very closely at his fuel guage before opening his comm «Cutlass here, all systems are green and I should be ok on fuel as long as we don't run into any more patrols."

«Haha! Perforated Putty-tat!» Walsh calls as two sets of fire streak through the cockpit of the last Sartha. «Now, about that coffee machine…» Not that he's really in much need of caffeine right now with all this adrenaline in his system.

Paz would love to join in on the mutual fanny-slapping, but she's got herself a busted ship to try and patch up. "Thank god for welding kits." Paz notes as she begins to carefully try and repair and/our reroute the damage to her electrical, hydraulic and every damn thing else.

Kanani glances around her ship, and checks the scanner readouts before commenting. «Looks like that's all of them, lets get moving before we do run into any more of them. Getting some fuel right now, would be really nice, after all.» She states dryly, before adding. «Tizona, Tsunami. Everything alright over there?»

«Tsunami, Tizona….I've got structural damage. Gonna need to land and put a torch to this thing. I'm good for flight and landing.» she reports, with a hint of 'I hope' in her tone. «Trying to get the damn electrical system to behave…»

«Hrm.» Seriously now, «Ozone reporting green across the board. Could probably do with some more of that boring time for a while.»

«Well, let's just hope that everything's nice and quiet so that we can get you down safely, Tizona.» Kanani remarks, deciding to not bother pointing out that it could be worse, and that Paz could have taken some damage herself if the missile had hit a bit harder.

James maneuvers his fighter carefully into the formation «I suggest the damaged birds drop back with the shuttle and let the undamaged fighters take point»

« Cutlass, Tizona, not gonna argue with that logic.» Paz replies. «Hanging back, maybe I can get some of this mess unfucked. Recommend we go to radio silence until we hit atmo on Bodensee.» she adds, chopping power to fall in on the shuttle's wing