Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by vietmyke
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Chapter 1: Out of the frying pan...


Horizon Point Station, Cerol
Cerol System, UEE Controlled Space



Horizon Point Station, part imperial shipyard, part frontier trading post, throw in a few 'navy' bars, and a sprinkle of rustic charm and you had a recipe for... whatever this was. While it wasn't quite a backwater but one could hardly call Horizon Point a thriving center of commerce. While technically a civilian station, since it was seated above the only inhabited planet in the Cerol system, Horizon Point served as one of the UEE's forward operating bases, set a few systems deep into the FEZ/No man's land that the UEE and Coalition were currently fighting over, a point of egress between the frontlines and the UEE's more fortified colonial systems.

As a result, it saw plenty of UEE traffic, and the station's economy ended up growing to suit its military centric clientele. A hodgepodge of services both legal and illicit to provide for the tired and ailing soldier quickly cropped up, and it was often said that an enterprising soldier could find most anything he could need here. Shuttles and freighters laden with supplies zipped back and forth between the station and the surface, bringing supplies to ships docked to its shipyard arms, as wings of fighters and MAS units flew on regular patrols. Several fleets floated in close proximity to the planet, some preparing to leave, others returning from the front lines for much needed repairs.

Among the returning fleets was the Fifth Imperial Expeditionary Fleet, or the 'Fighting Fifths' as the men and women of the fleet often called themselves. Having just returned two weeks prior from heavy conflict within the Ilyan System, fending off a Coalition attempt to establish yet another foothold into UEE space, the majority of the Fifth fleet was undergoing repairs, with several smaller ships being built from the ground up to replace fleet losses. Transports shuttled back and forth through the ships of the Fifth Fleet, delivering supplies and transporting personnel. Shuttles bearing the black and gold stripes of the 101st Legion flew from the the surface of Cerol to several of the fleet's capital ships, as they dropped off new pilots and MAS's to replace the fleet's losses during its previous operations. The majority of the Fifth Fleet and its crew were set to be rotated off the frontlines- moving into a reserve and training role as new pilots and crew needed to be inducted into their specific roles and brought up to speed.

Docked to one of the arms of Horizon Point was the INS Roanoke, abuzz with a quiet commotion. Just outside the ship, the muffled rumble of heavy duty torches could be heard throughout the ship as whole plates of damaged armor was repaired or replaced. Inside, engineers and technicians were walking around the cramp hallways and thoroughfares of the ship, making repairs and spot adjustments to the interior of the ship, working in seemingly tireless shifts as they brought the Roanoke back to full strength. Despite this, the attitude throughout the ship was light, lax even, as crew chatted about, eager to finish up shift and cash in their leave passes for a trip to Horizon Point station proper.

This relaxed attitude extended to its detachment of MAS pilots as well. The 7th MAS Squadron found themselves gathered in the Officers' Lounge, temporarily converted into a meeting room for the day's briefings. The Roanoke had just received a shuttle full replacement crew and pilots to shore up their past losses, and the process of integrating the new and old was a fairly standard order of business.

Ingram sat at the head of their converted meeting table, with all the air of a chaperone trying to reign in kids getting ready for spring break. The Roanoke- and by extension the 7th Squadron had been pulling rough shifts for the past several standard months, so Ingram understood the desire to relax. Their usual briefing room was currently undergoing repairs- complications due to a missile striking the hull above the room. As a result, the 7th found themselves gathered around a table in the officer's lounge, with its partially stocked bar no further than a few steps away.

"Alright, 7th Squadron, lets get this done quick." Ingram called out over the mild din of chatting pilots. His voice held the authoritative timbre most of his squadron were used to, but lacked the the harsher bark it typically had while they were deployed.

"As you all can see, we've just arrived at Horizon Point," Ingram began his spiel, gesturing out the lounge's windows. "We'll be here for the next week as the Roanoke undergoes repairs. We're getting rotated off the frontlines so if you have vacation requests put them in now."

Ingram glanced at his datapad and swiped over to a dossier for their newest pilot, the public parts of her dossier appearing on everyone else's synced screens. "Also, it appears that the Upper brass has finally heard our calls for reinforcements during the Ilyan blitz, and has seen fit to send us a single pilot. Please welcome Lieutenant Alcántara."

Ingram was of course making a joke at their new pilot's expense. The Roanoke didn't have a large enough hangar to support anymore than a single additional pilot anyway. Ingram wasn't thrilled at the idea of a test pilot joining them, rather than another veteran combat pilot. That being said, the squadron and the rest of the fleet were about to shift into a training/rest/recoup stance anyway, so they had plenty of time to iron out the any kinks the squadron might have. Nevertheless, Ingram paused his spiel to allow their newest pilot- and anyone else in the squadron to make any introductions they wished.

Ingram gestured to their newest pilot, "Welcome to the 7th Direwolves, Lieutenant. My name is Commander Shaw, but the boys and girls here like to call me 'Boss'. Make yourself comfortable and feel free to ask anyone in the squadron questions you may have. As for the rest of you, I expect you to play nice- you know who you are."

Ingram shot a look at those few pilots in question, but didn't approach the subject further. Good natured ribbing and hazing rituals were common in most- if not all UEE squadrons. As a squadron leader, Ingram was required to publicly disapprove, but as long as things didn't get overly hostile, violent or otherwise out of hand, most people took their squadron rituals on the chin.

Oh and before I forget. I know that several of you are trying to jump ship and hit Horizon Point as soon as possible. Danielsson will be in charge of approving requests for leave, starting at 1700 local time."

"Questions? Concerns?"
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At the back of the lounge sat the Savonians. It wasn't that they had a predisposition against mingling but rather that the squishy beanbag chair was at the back; Abigail's squishy beanbag chair. Her throne upon which she slouched and oftentimes spilt food onto both herself and the chair. At present, she was lazily sipping a Froot Skwurt and half dozing off in an attempt to muster up whatever final vestiges of professionalism she had left prior to her time on leave. To her left (on a firmer leather couch) was the hulking Zalavi veteran Jakunta, and next to him sat Aleksanderin Danielsson. Neither had any difficulty composing themselves in a collected, alert manner; they simply chose not to and were engaged in some quiet conversation before Ingram corralled them back for the debriefing.

Upon mention of Horizon Point, Abigail straightened up to crane her neck at the lounge windows and look out across the unappealing bustle of the shipyard that preceded the food courts, nightclubs, hotels and shops within. Abigail asked Jakunta something, prodding him in the arm. He replied, pausing and sipping his drink - a can of beer. The harsh drawl of a Zalavi accent mingled unpleasantly with the Savonian dialogue.

This was reciprocated by a wistful comment from the younger woman as she slumped back into her beanbag and continued the arduous task of listening. Her eyes narrowed slightly as her datapad lit up and she stared at Clara with a sort of cold curiosity. Jakunta's expression was indifferent and Aleks was typically inscrutable.

Almost immediately, the comments started.

Abigail's face furrowed with confusion; she asked something. Jakunta answered her. She continued to talk with some measure of scrutiny before leaning over Jakunta and asking Aleksanderin a question, gesturing to her datapad as she followed it up with some sort of observation. There was little doubt by now who they were talking about.

Their previously-silent commander went on a surprisingly long spiel to Abigail. Aleks nodded to himself, traipsing through the conversation like a hiker, stepping through each topic and moving swiftly - jarringly, even, to anyone who didn’t already know him - to the next, like they were obstacles, or puddles on a muddy path. He wondered over something idly, looking down at Abigail sucking on her own little Froot Skwurt.

Abigail spread her arms in a grandiose gesture. Her eyes lit upon the new girl with a glint of amusement. She started with something in Savonian, then abruptly swapped to English "Welcome aboard, Lieutenant," she called out. No fanfare - no comments, no remarks. Only a big grin and a nod. Aleks gave a nod in the newbie twoie-louie’s direction as Abi called out to her. He made another, quieter comment in Savonian and by that point the name 'Alcántara' undoubtedly cropped up as he added as an aside to Jak and Abi. Abigail leant in to respond. She really put on the accent as she redirected her grin at the commander, spelling out an 'Alecks-sander-in Danny-ell-sson' at the end of her sentence.

Her comment had unfortunate timing as Ingram explained that the gentleman she just insulted was also in charge of granting her leave request. Her grin was cleanly wiped off her face, the palid expression of realisation replaced it and then twisted into determination. She snatched her data pad and started frantically pressing on the screen. A half second later, Aleks' pad started incessantly pinging with notifications.

"Accept my leave request," Abigail grumbled in English.

“No.” Aleks grinned, turning his pad to silent.

"A real Savonian warrior would kneel at the request of a fair lady," Abigail reminded him.

“Savolax.” He corrected her politely. “You are also neither fair nor ladylike.”

"Can't fault you on that one, but this is...well, it's entrapment. We don't really need to wait until 1700 hours, do we?" Abigail gesticulated at the window. "It's right there! There's people on it! Safe as can be!"

“Only until it explodes, or the Coalition launches a surprise invasion and captures us as prisoners of war, or the water supply becomes contaminated and people violently hallucinate, or the world ends - et cetera, et cetera, and so on.” Aleks snarked at her. “You should learn to think before you speak, just imagine all of the boys in shitty bars you won’t have to buy you drinks now.”

"And girls. Mostly Savonian, some foreign. It's hard being a celebrity sometimes," Abigail sighed. "All I have are my fat UEE royalties cheques to wipe my tears at night. It's all they're really good for because I can't go on fucking leave to spend them." She changed tactics. "But enough about me. Think of poor Jakunta!"

The Zalavi grunted and stopped staring at Clara to glower down at Abigail as she continued her tirade. "We're denying this soldier his dues. He has a right - a fundamental human need - to physiotherapy after such a long and stressful mission. How can you face yourself in the mirror each morning knowing you've let him suffer for so long?"

Aleksanderin looked down at Abigail and responded in patronisingly formal Savonian. Even the English speakers could make out the phrase 'cocksucking' tossed in once or twice and whatever he said had immediate effect as Abigail's expression instantly turned into one of outrage. "That's low. Even for you," she hissed with disgust. "Ingram! Aleks says I don't get any leave today!"

Aleks was grinning, a big, stupid, chesire cat smile. He had nothing to hide.
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Clara



"Thank you for the warm welcome, Commander Shaw, it is a pleasure to be here," Clara interrupted, raising her voice just enough to be sure that Abigail couldn't cut in again. She offered a sly smile in the direction of the other woman and the faintest hint of an apologetic shrug. Bickering over leave could wait as far as she was concerned. She had a MAS to test. She had data to examine. She had settings to tweak. She had no time to slow down. And she had never cared much for drinking in some crummy space station. Sustained g forces provided enough dizziness for her to manage.

Rising out of the chair she had occupied on one end of the briefing room table, Clara turned from Shaw to the rest of the squadron, "I look forward to getting to know all of you over the next couple of weeks and I hope my transition into this squadron will prove uneventful."

"But please, call me Clara," she added.
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An Unexpected Guest

(Mood Music)


Dearil looked over his exhaustive manifest and checked to make sure that every item that was coming off of his ship was meant to come off. He had the deck crew of the cruiser doing all the hard work while he handled the logistics, and they were more than happy to do such if it meant getting a small discount at Dearil's canteen. His arrival aboard ships was always looked forward to as he brought with him a sizeable stock of local goods from the surface of whichever planet they were moored over. Being Cerol, Dearil made sure to bring to the planet's signature export, 'hyperwater'.

The minerals in Cerol's rivers and ocean beds had made the H2O on the planet quite rich. Not only was it safe to drink, but Hyperwater acted as a sort of energy drink to human beings, without any additives or chemicals. It was a truly healthy drink that people had come to appreciate, especially the marines of the UEE. Dearil's canteen supply was paid for out of his pocket, which was thankfully cushioned by a healthy salary afforded to him by his previous experience as an officer among the Imperial Secret Service. Anything he made from the canteen also went right back into the supplying of it. No matter where the fleet went or what planet they were over, Dearil's biggest seller was always cigarettes and energy drinks, and they were always the first things to run dry in his stock. Still, Dearil's other stocks made money, as people who had come for one or both of the hot commodities would often feel bad for arriving and wasting his valuable time, so they would buy something else instead. The men and women of the fleet appreciated Dearil and his efforts, even if he was just a lowly cargo pilot.

"Hey, Ferryman!" Dearil heard someone call out. He glanced up from his datapad and saw the ship's chief petty officer stomping toward him. Well... Almost every man and woman appreciated him.

Dearil sighed quietly and came to attention, "Haah... Sir." he acknowledged him professionally.

"How many times have you told you not to sell your goodies aboard my ship and to my crew?! It takes away from the ship's wallet for its own canteen! And none of the stuff you're selling has been properly vetted! What if you bring aboard some sort of hostile microbes from the surface?! You could get my hole ship sick!" he scolded.

Dearil remained at attention and turned his brain off as he got a strip ripped from him. Getting yelled at was part for the course in the military, and it didn't matter who you were. There was always a bigger fish. But as Dearil was getting his yelled at by the old croak of a chief, the deck crews continued to offload stuff from Dearil's ship. Out of the corner of his eye, he spotted two crates. One was a crate of the vaunted Hyperwater! Dearil cut the chief off and pointed accusingly at the deckhand, "Oi! I didn't say you could offload that! And didn't you hear your Chief?! My stock isn't allowed in here! Put it back in!"

The chief, who was obviously frustrated by Dearil's interruption, heard what he had to say and joined in with him to then rip a strip off of the deck hand, "What do you think you're doing?! Do you know what we do with thiefs, Grafton?! We damn near hang 'em aboard this ship!"

"And that!" he pointed at the other crate, a nondescript black box with the mark of the ISS on it, "Where the hell did that come from?! Why are you grabbing classified equipment of the Secret Service?!"

Grafton looked between Dearil and the Chief with bewilderment and record high levels of anxiety. Some sweat was even beading off of his forehead. "Y- yes, sir! Sorry, sir! I'll back it back right away, sir!"

Dearil and the Chief continued to bark at Grafton as he hurried to load the two crates back onto the Carry-All. He quickly skidded to a halt and came to attention facing the hold of Dearil's ship, all while he and the chief were continuing to simply just mess with his head at this point. A moment of entertaining, spontaneous solidarity between Dearil and the Chief of the cruiser Hammerhand. Dearil blinked and stopped yelling at Grafton, and the Chief Petty Officer followed suit not long after. "Hey, Grafton." the chief started, "I'm over here. What are you doing?"

Grafton looked over the Dearil and chief, then cautiously pointed into the ship. They both followed the notional line that was being drawn and saw two men in black armor stepping out of Dearil's Carry-All, both bearing the mark of the Imperial Secret Service. Dearil raised a brow. They weren't on his ship before... Wait... Why do they have crates on my ship?! Dearil shot a look at the chief, who patted Dearil's shoulder, "Ah yeah, that's what I was originally coming here for. You have some guests accompanying you on your next flight. Oh and I think you're next destination has been changed too."

Dearil looked down at his datapad to check his flight path, and he had indeed noticed that the order of ships he was flying to was changed. In fact... His runs were seemingly coming to an end. What was supposed to be a whole day of flying between eight different ships of the fleet became a one-way ticket to a single ship. The Roanoke. Dearil rubbed the back of his head, if the ISS was involved, there really wasn't much he could do about it. But why the secrecy? What were they even doing on the Hammerhand to begin with? Why the rush to move to the Roanoke? But he collected himself and waved off the deck crew, "Sorry, boys, canteen isn't opening this time due to... ISS." he gestured to the black armored figures waiting patiently for him on the cargo ramp.

The crew groaned and slumped when they realized their work had been for nothing. Not that Dearil could help the matter at all. "Sorry, everyone. I'll spend some extra time and have more goodies for you on my next flig-" he caught the burning gaze of the Chief with his hands at his sides, "I mean my canteen is off limits and I will most certainly not be selling un-vetted goods out of the back of my ship on my next flight in. Nope. Not at all."

Dearil heard a few deck hands struggling to contain their snickers and laughs as he paid lip service to the Chief. Everyone knew it was formality. He'd be back and selling his goods the next day, and Dearil and the Chief would once again be having their meaningless (and scheduled) back and forth. Satisfied, the Chief left the cargo hold, and the deck crew began to disperse. Dearil sighed and looked back at the ISS agents, and made his way onto the ramp. The agents wordlessly watched him until he was about to step into the ship. One of the grabbed onto his shoulder firmly to stop him. Dearil scowled, "Hey, what gives?"

"Hello, Dearil. It's been a while," a feminine voice said from further in the cargo bay.

Dearil looked past the ISS agent and spotted the source of the voice. His shoulders relaxed, and Dearil let out a very long sigh, "Ahh shit..."
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Gansu was impatient, moving back and forth through the bar and combing through what liquor it had as he attempted to find something worth the effort of searching. "Shit. Shit. Also shit. Reeeaally shit. What the hell do they buy with their checks? Shinier badges for their uniforms?" His hands made a throwing motion, as if to toss out the offending bottles as he found them. They weren't actually thrown, of course. He wanted to be able to get off of this ship, not clean up his own messes when he could be on leave. He was already looking forward to it, only half listening for Shaw to start the meeting as he pulled out a cigarette and lit it. Looking down at his box, Gansu experienced his second disappointment in less than 5 minutes, seeing that it only had two left. Gonna have to visit Ferry again. Damn it.

"Its the officer's lounge. Didn't even get dinged up in all of the shit they had us slogging through. They gotta have something good here." His hands went out wide, placatingly, to the group around him before he went back to searching the bar, shifting through the shelves and other alcohols he wasn't desperate enough to grab yet.

A few moments later his search was stopped once more as he turned to face Shaw as he heard the boss start to speak, eyes still searching the bar around him for anything decent. His eyes lit up as he finally found a whiskey brand worth a damn, a soft 'aha!' escaping him as he leaned down and scooped the bottle from its hiding place on the lower shelf. "Knew they wouldn't drink shit." He said, smugly tucking the bottle under his arm, his hands going up defensively as Shaw's shot him a look. "I would never Boss, you know me. Straight laces and by the books!" He paused, and shook his hand in a seesaw motion. "Mostly. Mostly straight lace."

He moved over to the counter where his datapad was, reading the dossier that had come available to him, as the Sarvonians started bickering. Thank god it wasn't another Heavy. That role was getting kind of crowded and frankly, he wasn't sure the Roanoke could handle the weight of a fourth heavy and still be functional. As he read over the details of her MAS, his eyes started twitching in excitement. "Oh! Oh! Oh! I got the perfect one for her!" His fingers snapped in excitement with his words, and he began searching through his pockets. "No. No. No. Too big. Too small. There it is!" He pulled out a small silver medallion with a bird engraved on it. He quickly spun it around his finger before turning to grin at Abigail.

"That sounds like a personal problem Pips! You should have a more polite relationship with D-eye, like I do. Because I appreciate him and all his experience, effort, and what he brings to this team, I'm sure my request will get approved." He sent a hopeful glance over at Aleksanderin with his own request for leave, giving a thumbs up, before turning back to Clara. "Welcome to the team Zoom! Gansu Mathen, call me Eyes. Local ship killer and explosives expert, at your service. Not gonna call you Clara, don't take it personally. Congrats on the promotion, hope you learn fast. I got something for you, a good luck charm to welcome you to the crew. Don't lose it, its very important to the continued success of your MAS. If you want more, I am your man." He unwrapped the medallion from his fingers and tossed it to Clara, the words coming out in a quick torrent as he went back behind the bar to search for anything else that wasn't too terrible. He may be on leave but that didn't mean that he was going to spend his money on liquor when he could grab some free bottles right here.
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Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by vietmyke
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Ingram chuckled softly to himself as the Officer’s Lounge erupted in conversation and light hearted joking. The squadron seemed to have received the new girl fairly well at the very least. The Savonains welcomed her about as warmly as he expected them to- that being just a short welcome before no doubt delving into whatever tangents they always got into, but in Savonian. Ingram could make out bits and pieces of their conversation, but had long since given up on attempting to understand everything they said. Ingram had requested that most topic-relevant conversation be spoken in the galactic standard, but there was no harm in otherwise keeping their culture alive. Gansu did what he always did, and handed the new pilot a good luck token. Ingram was never sure where Gansu got them all, they sort of all just seemed to appear out of thin air.

Ingram turned to look at the gaggle of pilots he called his squadron, particularly at the Savonians, who were bickering about something. Abigail- their squadron’s youngest, yelled at him, complaining about Aleks not granting her leave. Again, he didn’t know the extent of what was said between the two of them, but he caught enough to understand the gist of the conversation. With an amused look, Ingram couldn’t help but shrug.

“Well, Abi, try asking again tomorrow?”

"Good idea, sir." Abigail nodded once and reclined in her beanbag chair. That was that.

“And Aleks?” Ingram added, with a short sigh as he rubbed at his temple, “Please refrain from calling members of the squadron cock suckers.”

Ingram’s understanding of the Savonian language was still relatively rudimentary, and he couldn’t speak it. But he could understand enough to generally understand what the Savonians were saying. Though he could never be certain with his translations. He turned back to Clara as she finished introducing herself to the squadron.

“Well Clara, I’m sure you’ll fit right in. Probably.” Ingram said to her with a slight grin and a shrug “If you haven’t already, stop by the med bay and get your tac-cor’s recalibrated to the Roanoke’s” he added, gesturing with a finger to his eyes as he did.

She was a test pilot, new to military squadrons, so Ingram wasn’t sure how aware she was of typical protocols. Most, if not all pilots had a suite of implants applied to them upon joining the military: At the bare minimum, a set of contact-like tactical corneas to allow them to read/interpret information much like a helmet HUD, and a basic neural-link to allow them into interact and interface with most simple UEE tech.

“The Roanoke’s not a big ship, but if you get lost you can have a map or path displayed to your tac-cor’s, just ask Eva-”

“Yes, LIEUTENANT COMMANDER SHAW,” A voice interrupted him, and Eva’s physical avatar appeared before them, “what would you like to-”

“-Nope, shut up Eva.” Ingram cut in with a quick wave of his hand. The Roanoke’s VI Hub had been taken a near hit during one of the last missions, and since then the VI had become overly responsive, and had the habit of popping in with as little as its name being mentioned.

“Very well, LIEUTENANT COMMANDER SHAW.” The avatar nodded and disappeared.

"Am I able to do anything with Eva yet or are we still keeping her as a portable search engine after that mishap in the washroom?" Abigail asked, scratching her scalp idly.

Ingram gave her a look, and the lack of Eva responding to her name being spoken gave the rest of the room enough of an idea that Eva was generally not responding to Abi’s voice- as had been deemed by Ingram.

“Its been less than 48 hours.” Ingram told her as a reply. Half the time, he was unsure if he was in command of an elite military squadron, or a gaggle of schoolchildren. Perhaps somewhere else in the universe there was a teacher being overwhelmed by straight laced and extremely studious students.

"That it has," Abigail agreed. "I distinctly recall cleaning it all up when I realised what was going on." Again - she just...dropped the matter entirely. She acknowledged his response then sunk back into the chair once more. She finished her Froot Skwurt.

“Anyway.” Ingram continued, ““If there’s nothing else, we can call the meeting here.”

“7th Squadron.” Ingram called out. There was the scrape of chairs as everyone stood up- or at least came to a semblance of attention.

“Dismissed.”

There was another loud puff as Abigail collapsed right back into her beanbag chair and started chewing on the tab on the juice pouch, sprawled out and watching the other pilots tidy their things.




Horizon Point Station
Communications Hub

From its view on Horizon Point, the planet below looked blue and peaceful, beautiful even. The thick layer of fluffy white clouds almost managed to cover the cratered, scarred, and war torn surface of the planet below. Cerol had been fought over and nearly destroyed half a dozen times over the course of the war, its resources raided and razed, but from up here, one could almost ignore the destruction down below.

"Lieutenant Barret!" called out a voice, young, clear and bright. Looking up, Barret saw a fresh faced young man- almost a boy- approaching him. His face was full of youthful enthusiasm and his dress uniform crisp and freshly pressed, the shiny silver bar on his shoulder marking him as an Ensign in the Imperial Navy. The nametag on his chest denoted him as a man named Sika.

"Did you hear anything about our orders?" Sika asked.

"Nope, nothing's changed since the last time you asked, 15 minutes ago." Barret replied with a shrug as he began walking off, motioning for the young ensign to follow him.

"Its a relief though, this has been a long time coming." Barret said with a relaxed sigh, as the two made their down well populated halls of Horizon Point. "We won't get another chance like this, not for a long time."

A pair of Imperial soldiers met the two officers at the airlock door that led them into the station's UEE branch of the communication hub, the Empire's own personal communications center for military use on the otherwise civilian station.

"C'mon Sika, keep up." Barret called out towards the lagging Ensign. "We're still on the clock."

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Gansu was only partially paying attention to Ingram wrapping up the meeting. He had already grabbed the best free alcohol he could find, and now was not-too-subtly edging towards the door, idly spinning one of his charms around and off of his fingers. He snickered at Eva's appearance. Despite how annoying it could be when it happened to him, it was endlessly amusing to see someone else ambushed by the VI. When Ingram finally gave the dismissal, Gansu gave a hurried salute and was out the door in a heartbeat. He had places to be and things to do, and there wasn't anything useful being stated by Ingram currently. Just the usual 'play nice Sarvonians' and 'hey new person this is how you do things!' Necessary, yes, but not necessary for him.

He made his way towards the canteen, power walking through the halls of the Roanoke. He stopped only once as a member of the crew stopped him. The woman stepped in front of him and waved, knowing that he would ignore her if given half the chance. Not that it was difficult to do so, given the cramped halls. "Eyes! I need to ask you a favor!" Reluctantly, Gansu came to a stop in front of her and smiled despite his impatience. "Sarah! Why do I get the feeling you need yet another charm? Haven't I given you over a hundred now? You know you're supposed to keep these things, right?" He crossed his arms and looked at her with an eyebrow raised. She shrugged, dismissing his remarks with a wave of her hand. "I give them to the engineers who go walking around outside, or repair dangerous parts of the ship. Gives them a little extra protection and a little comfort you know? And not all of us get to be enclosed in a giant metal robot when we go into dangerous situations. But now I've run out again, and I don't want to send any new recruits we get out without the minimum of protection."

Gansu laughed, already digging through his pockets for the smaller charms. These would have to be more generalized, since he didn't know any of the pilots who were getting them, and it'd be bad luck if he gave a good luck charm designed for one personality to the completely opposite personality. "I think this is more so your precious ship stops having so many holes blown in it, and less because you want the engineers to feel safe." He teased, pulling out a dozen small charms from his pockets and handing them over. Sarah shrugged her shoulders again, smiling as she took them. "That might be a small perk, yes. Thank you again Eyes! I'll see you around!" Gansu waved a hand in good bye and was back on his mission.

He was stopped a few more times on his way to and from the canteen. Settling bets (he should have one that! How in the world did he miss that shot?), handing out charms, or simple conversation. He tried not to show his impatience, as they weren't technically doing anything wrong. He just really needed to get this done before leave could begin properly. Finally escaping with a small bottle of soup and the whiskey still safely tucked under his arm he headed towards his quarters. Normally, he'd head to a place that could vent out straight into space, but he had been informed several times by irate officers and engineers that he couldn't vent food out into space no matter how much it pleased the ghosts out there. So he had to make due. They couldn't very well stop him from doing things in his own quarters, could they? Well. Not if he was careful at any rate.

He sat down on his bed and pulled out the burner he stashed under there. He placed it right under a vent in his ceiling and sat down next to it, pouring the soup on the plate and heating it up so it began to evaporate. "Hello again, fellow pilots who never made it from space. I apologize for the fact that its only been soup the past few times, the officers don't want me venting food into space. When I'm on shore leave I'll be sure to burn some good stuff for you. That means you too, Coalition guys! I know I may have killed some of you, and helped kill a lot of you, but that was just business yeah? We all understand business." The soup had all evaporated, and he poured some of the whiskey onto the burner plate next.

"I hope these little gifts keep you guys in a good mood out there in cold space, and that you remember that Gansu Mathen, Eyes, remembered you and kept giving you tastes of life. I hope you also remember that Gansu Mathen likes his squad, and that they are good people. So when you're able to help, please do so. Otherwise, you'll stop getting little gifts and that would suck, right? Plus we'd all be out there together, and it'd be a little awkward no?" As the whiskey began to evaporate fully, Gansu turned off his burner and stretched. "I'll send better gifts once I'm on shore leave. Promise." Once the burner had cooled down enough not to set fire to his bed, Gansu carefully slid it back under and pulled a cigarette out. He cursed softly seeing that he only had one left. "Time to go visit Ferry then. Bastard better have some Black Magics this time around." With a lit cigarette and a salute to the vent, Gansu turned around and headed towards the hangar. He took the whiskey with him.
Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by Whoami
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A Change of Plans

(Mood Music)


Dearil looked beyond the ISS agents with a mixture of surprise and frustration. His immediate response apparently didn't please the ISS agents either as they both broadened their shoulders and prepared themselves to force Dearil to his knees. A pale hand from the shadows of the cargo bay waved them off, and the ISS agents relaxed again. Dearil looked between the two agents for a moment before turning his gaze back on the woman sitting casually atop a freshly opened crate of hyperwater. The figure was sipping from a bottle that she just so happened to help herself to, not that Dearil was about to tell her otherwise.

She lowered the bottle from her lips and looked back to Dearil, an eyebrow perking up as she does, "I suppose I shouldn't be surprised by your response. I would be the last thing to expect randomly aboard my ship too, if I were you."

The woman stood up from the crate, and the ISS agents tensed up again. Dearil knew why. He lowered to one knee and bowed his head to the floor of his ship. "Princess Aurelia." he said.

One of the ISS agents punted him with a fist and spoke aggressively, "You are to address her ONLY as 'your highness'! How dare you speak her name-"

Aurelia raised a hand again, "That's enough, Marius. He dares call me by my first name, and I welcome it. This man a part of my personal detail long before you ever were. You will show him the respect he deserves." Aurelia turned her emerald gaze back down onto Daeril, "Even after all these years, I still consider you to be a friend, Daeril. Rise, there isn't any need for formalities."

Daeril looked up at Aurelia and breathed easy at that. He had worried that the youngest of the royal family wouldn't have forgiven him for leaving the ISS, yet there she was as forgiving as ever. It was a trait among the royal family that was unique to her and her alone. She wore a black space suit, similar to the suits worn by the ISS. But her suit was more lightly armored, and it was decorated with gold trim and impressive accoutrements befitting for a princess. Her blonde hair was tied back into a pony tail and adorned with a silver dove hairpin to hold it in place.

Daeril stood again and shrugged off the hit from the ISS agent. He smiled, "It's good to see you again, Aurelia. But I can't help but think that our meeting here has some implications. This incognito movement for a member of the royal family is right out of the ISS handbook..." he paused, "Are you expecting something?"

Aurelia sighed. She knew that Daeril would easily catch on to why she was discreetly sitting in his ship. "More of a precaution. Intelligence has been intercepting Coalition communications and they think they're planning something soon for the fleet here at Cerol. Fleet Command deemed it best to spread some chaotic information about my whereabouts, hopefully to dampen the severity of their attack with uncertainty. I'm more valuable to the Coalition alive than dead, after all."

Dearil nodded understandingly, but his confusion was still niggling away at him. "So... Why hide in a freighter then? This thing is basically defenseless against a MAS or a warship."

Aurelia spoke up almost immediately after he finished, "Your next stop is the Roanoke, yes? It's currently carrying the 7th MAS Squadron of the 101st. I figured since I'm officially touring a battlegroup above the opposite hemisphere, that a small elite team like them would be more than adequate protection. But really, I could have picked any transport. I just so happened to be aboard the Hammerhand when I heard one 'Dearil Redmond' just so happened to arrive. Figured I'd take the opportunity to reunite with my old bodyguard and see how well he's adjusted to his new life."

That last comment made Dearil clear his throat awkwardly. The loaded state of his ship wasn't really in the most sightly condition, especially not after the Hammerhand's deck crew got their hands on it. "It's uh... Normally not this messy."

Aurelia smirked at that, "It just needs a woman's touch. Hopefully Jenna is up to the task when you finish this rotation."

Daeril thought longingly of his wife. Jenna was an imperial officer, and an instructor in the royal academy where Aurelia trained. Dearil had fawned over Jenna for quite some time as he shadowed the classroom in the corner to ensure Aurelia's safety. It was the princess herself that secretly arranged for the two to meet. Dearil couldn't have been more thankful for the princess for that. "Ahh I'm gonna need a nanny to help keep things together once I'm back. Jenna has her hands busy enough with Kade."

Aurelia blinked at that, her emerald eyes wide upon hearing his words. "Oh heavens, he's a father." she said breathlessly as if the universe was ending.

Dearil laughed at that and stepped further into the ship. He led Aurelia to the cockpit and pointed at printed picture of his Jenna and their daughter next to the flight controls of the ship. Aurelia excitedly took the photo in her hands and examined it closely, "Ah she's precious! I can't believe I never heard about this! When I'm on Terra next, I'm paying your wife a visit. Your baby girl needs some more auntie Auri in her life!"

Dearil shook his head with a big grin on his face. It was always so refreshing speaking a member of the royal family without all of the due process and formality. In truth, guarding Aurelia through her teen years really helped build up his paternal instinct. She was practically family! The unspoken, unofficial, experiment to see if Dearil had what it takes to be a guardian. He'd never say those things to anyone since... Well that'd land him locked up in the ISS stockades on Earth for the rest of his life for referring to a royal princess as an experiment. Dearil heard a voice come over the radio of his flight helmet. He recognized that voice, "Ah crap... Hold on, Aurelia. I need to get screamed at by the chief petty officer of the ship for loitering in his busy hangar. You can hold onto that for now." he pointed at the picture of his family in her hands since it looked like she wasn't about to let go of it just yet! "Actually, best get strapped in back there. Seems we've got a backup of ships waiting to use this hangar. We'll be leaving shortly. Oh, and make sure Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum back there don't touch my hyperwater. Princesses only." he winked and slipped into the pilot's seat.
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by vietmyke
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Ingram sighed as the pilots filtered out of the officer's lounge, an absentminded hand rubbing at his temples. The squadron deserved their break- but Ingram still had a while before he was able to relax. He grabbed a small tumbler from behind the bar, and plonked a orb of ice into the glass, pouring himself a glass of whiskey from a bottle Gansu hadn't gotten his hands on yet. He threw his head back and downed the glass in a single gulp and poured himself another shot.

He went about the very mundane process of forwarding post meeting notes to the Roanoke's Captain and the necessary upper brass. All things considered, the squad had taken the new girl without much fanfare of complaint- not that he expected anything entirely different. The Savonians were sociable, but stuck mostly to themselves, Gansu was Gansu, and the others weren’t the type to cause trouble either.

Ingram glanced up- Abigail seemed to have been content to remain in the Officer’s lounge, more or less gnawing on the same sugar-drink-snack-thing she always seemed to have. He offered the young pilot a raised eyebrow.

“You know you’re dismissed right? Unless you had something else you wanted to say.”

"No point in hurrying if I have nowhere to be dismissed to," Abigail responded. She thought for a second. "I don't like her yet," she added on.

“So I suppose bugging me is the next best thing to do.” Ingram sighed. “Yet? You’ve just met her- besides, you say that about practically everyone that comes on board. Or I assume you do, I still only understand half of the things you three are saying.”

"I've nothing to gain from bugging you. Besides - you spoke first. Could've left me to chew on this vacuum-sealed metal packaging for all I cared." She went back to chewing on the corner of the empty Froot Skwurt. "I don't care that she spoke over me. Only way to get a word in edgeways. But she shrugged and smiled at me, which worries me." Abigail chucked the empty carton towards one of the bins but the lid didn't slide open automatically so it bounced off. She sighed and stood up to collect it. "An FNG in a prototype MAS that doesn't look like it's had a lot of field testing shouldn't be getting cheeky with any of us - even the dumb rookie who talks too much. I mean shit, the only reason I felt alright doing it was 'cause I'd been video calling and sending IMs to you lot right the way through training." She picked up the packaging and plopped it into the bin.

"Don't get me wrong," Abigail looked up at Ingram. "This isn't about her not liking me. It's refreshing to be not liked for once. I just hope she's not so quick to put down the rest of the crew based on how they behave this close to being taken off the frontlines."

“Its a miracle those things haven’t bored holes in your teeth yet.” Ingram muttered offhandedly, “I mean, she knows more and less about you than probably the whole squadron- most of your files are redacted, and those that aren’t are all the poster child gaff.”

“Hell, if my first introduction to you had been the Abi-the-poster-child, I probably would’ve been looking for a way to get you out of my squadron ASAP.” Ingram pointed out, “Not everyone has a pair of vets looking out for them.”

“I wouldn’t stress too much about the new girl,” Ingram added, “I think she was just trying to find her spot on the pecking order. You probably look just as much of a rook’ to her as she looks to you.”

"I'm not stressed." Abigail pulled that placid, plastic smile she knew Ingram hated, thrown onto innumerable posters and TV channels all across Savonia and peppered throughout UEE propaganda. "After all," she played up her accent a little, "The Child of Savonia fights for the UEE, but she can't fight alone!" Her smile dropped as soon as it showed up. "I'm fair game, I just don't want her thinking it's okay to do that to anyone like Gansu."

Ingram was distracted for a moment as his holopad pinged- it was Dearil, prepping his return to the Roanoke. That was good for morale, Ingram rarely asked Dearil about what he brought- he was aware of the contraband that came on board, but as long as it wasn’t harmful to the crew Ingram didn’t care. Still, he made a habit of not asking what the man brought, he’d have to report it to command if he knew the specifics. He sent the Hammerhead pilot an OK, sending him necessary approval codes to land in one of the Roanoke’s hangar bays.

Raising his second glass to his mouth, Ingram shook his head and sighed, turning back to Abigail. ”I really hate when you do that.”


Horizon Point Station
Communications Hub


“How are we looking over there Sika?” Barret called out as he looked up from underneath the main console of the Communications center. His sleeves were rolled up and his face and uniform were covered in grime. He wiped at some sweat on his forehead with a dirty arm and was rewarded for his efforts with a dark brown and red smudge of gunk over his face. He grimaced and wiped his hands with his uniform- it didn’t help much. With a sigh and a stretch, he stood up straight and sat down on the chair attached to the console, pulling out a silver flask.

“All done over here boss,” Sika called out from behind another console. “We’re good to go.”

“Good, good. Right on schedule,” Barret said with a lighthearted chuckle as he took a swig from the flask. He took another as Sika appeared, also covered in grime, and leaned against the console itself. “Want some? Ilyan Whiskey.” Barret asked, offering the younger officer the flask.

Sika shook his head, and Barret shrugged. He shocked the flask and frowned, seemingly unhappy with how little remained of its original contents.

“How about you buddy?” Barret asked a comms tech, slumped against the same console he and Sika were at. The tech’s head rolled to the side, his eyes were glazed over, blood trailing from a small hole in his forehead between his brows and down his nose. With a smark, Barret upended the flask and poured the remaining contents on the body. He tossed the flask aside, seeing the name ‘E. Bossk’ enraged on its side one last time before it clattered against the floor and stopped at the boot of a second engineer, this one with a trio of holes in his chest.

“Gloria ad Imperium.” Murmured Sika quietly as he shut his eyes, dropping a silenced pistol to the floor and clasping his hands together. Barret nodded to the younger man as he pulled a detonator out from pocket. All around them, flashing red dots.

“Gloria ad Imperium.”
Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by vietmyke
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Space remained silent as an orange flower of fire erupted from the top Horizon Point- bits of solar panel, steel, and dish parts filling the local area as the force of the explosion ruptured outward. The station and its attached ships shuddered as gas, debris and concussive force rattled the local area. The explosion tore a great chunk out of the station’s superstructure, and a series of secondary explosions began to ripple across the station as a series of secondary explosions began to slowly tear the station apart from the inside out.

Time seemed to slow down as onlooking ships and people on board the stations tried to process what was going on. In the emptiness of space, just outside the range of Horizon Point and the UEE fleets’ weapons, a battleship warped into view, detaching its destroyer escort as soon as it exited FTL. Moments later, several other warships warped into view, releasing their clutches of destroyers and frigates as well. The final force was larger than the combined might of the Horizon Point’s defense fleet and weapons installations, and the 5th fleet- much of which was still undergoing repairs. Coalition ships released their MAS squadrons- dozens of tiny specs in the darkness of space, the glint and light from their thrusters made them seem like a swarm of angry fireflies in the distance.

Moments later, the flagship opened fire.

The remains of Horizon Point station rocked violently as a plasma blast struck it, melting into half a dozen floors and corridors in the tightly packed station hull. While not a devastating hit on its own, it was the preamble to another volley of plasma and cannonfire from the Coalition fleet. Several more impacts rocked the station, while others sailed off into the distance, hitting other vessels in the UEE fleet.

Red lights and sirens began blaring across the entirety of the UEE vessels, as they tried to react to the sudden attack. The planetary defense fleets, as well as the damaged 5th fleet sluggishly moved into defensive positions to meet the Coalition invasion fleet, deploying their own fighter and MAS units to combat the Coalition threat that was quickly closing in.


The Roanoke shuddered violently, sending personnel, equipment, and Ingram’s drink flying. Ingram cursed as he caught himself against the bar. ”Eva! What the fuck was that?!” Ingram barked into the air. Almost as if in response, the lights on the Roanoke flickered off, plunging them into darkness. Red emergency lights flooded the dark rooms and halls moments later.

Like a hound to a whistle, Abigail had already taken off on her heels for the nearest door. "MAS first think later!" She yelled over her shoulder, bumping into the opening doors as the emergency power was sluggish to detect her dead sprint towards it.

Eva’s avatar popped into existence in front of him, pouring pale blue light over the him. “LIEUTENANT COMMANDER SHAW,” the avatar reported, “Communications to Horizon Point have halted. In regards to your question what ‘THE FUCK’ was ‘THAT’: I can only assume the THAT you are referring to is an impact against the Roanoke’s hull from a Coalition plasma cannon. We are currently under attack.”

”Lead with that first next time!” Ingram cursed at the ship VI, also sprinting to the doors behind Abi. With a sort of practiced grace, Ingram transitioned easily from the false gravity inside the Officer’s lounge to the low/zero gravity of the ship’s halls.

”All hands, brace for emergency dismount.”

The ship shuddered as it ripped itself away from its docking mounts on Horizon Point. Those onboard the ship felt it shifting, as the ship rapidly pulled away from the exploding station, and began to reorient itself in space.

”General Quarters, General Quarters, all hands report to battle stations. This is not a drill, repeat, this is not a drill.

Already pushing himself down the ship’s hallways, Ingram grabbed his comm and barked into it, almost echoing the captain’s voice above him as it rang throughout the hallway.

”7th Squadron scramble! I want everyone off their ass and in their mechs, we have 5 minutes, do it in 3.”


Minutes later, Ingram and other pilots of the 7th squadron were tearing into the Roanoke’s hangar, which was already a mess of activity. Pilots sprinted for their crafts while engineers rushed to their stations, shouting things at one another and pointing at datapads and screens. Unnecessary or momentarily irrelevant materials were unceremoniously shoved aside as Ultra-light MAS lifters attached last minute munitions to mechs that still needed servicing.

Half climbing, half throwing himself into the chest cavity of his MAS, Ingram mashed a key on the side of his cockpit, shutting himself into the darkness. With a short breath, he pulled his helmet over his head and sealed himself within his flight suit. The helmet whirred to life as it booted up and connected to his neural implant, painting a heads up display over the helmet’s faceplate. As the MAS itself sprang to life, the walls seemed to become transparent, becoming what the ‘head’ of the MAS saw. Ingram turned his head left and right and was satisfied that the Sparrowhawk’s movements mimicked his.

Ingram looked up as the massive hangar doors above them began to pull open, leaving a thin oxygen shield as the only thing preventing the entirety of the hangar from venting out. Above them, the inky black void of space, dotted by stars, now occupied with dozens upon dozens of ships. Battleships, cruisers, destroyers, and the exploding Horizon Point station loomed above them, as flashes of light from railguns and plasma cannons streaked across the black empty. Tiny flecks of blue lights- the thrusters of MAS and aerospace fighters zig zagged and spiraled around, lights flashing as their weapons fired, silent flowers of orange and white taking their place as weapons connected with them.

> Confirming Pilot Assignment: LCDR Ingram Shaw_
> ...Pilot Confirmed
> Initializing systems...

> Reactor Unit: Online_
> Life Supportt: Online_
> Targeting AI: Online_
> Weapon Systems: Online_

> All Calibrations Complete
> All Systems Functional
> Standby for Launch


Above them, lines dictating each MAS’ projected path out of the hangar was displayed in realtime 3D. A screen flashed in front of Ingram’s face, control tower giving him and the 7th squadron authorization to launch- not that he would’ve waited for them to give the OK anyway.

”This is Boss. All green, all green. 7th Squadron, comms check.”

He paused for the briefest moment, waiting for everyone to report clear before he continued. ”Communications with Command are cut. We’re not sure what we’re flying into so expect the worst. Primary objective is the Roanoke, other allied vessels should be protected if possible, but the Roanoke holds prio. Updates on the fly, launch when ready.”

There was a hiss as the cables connecting the Sparrowhawk to the ship were disconnected, removing the MAS from the Roanoke’s grid, electromagnetic rails quickly propelling the Roanoke’s MAS’ into the black void of space. The Sparrowhawk’s thrusters activated as he cleared the threshold of the Roanoke’s hangar, banking off to get out of the way of other launching craft.

Taking a moment to orient himself, Ingram remembered how much he hated space combat. No solid ground or cover, fire could come from almost any angle- and at any distance. The only thing keeping him from dying in a vacuum was a few layers or armor.

Approaching the Roanoke was a Coalition cruiser and a pair of light frigates, intent on crippling the small carrier before it was able to clear Horizon Point and fall back to the carrier lines. At the head of the small Coalition force was two full squadrons of Coalition MAS, Ingram’s targeting computers tracking no less than 8 Fenrir IIs and a pair of heavy Hardballers, led by a Fenrir III. A quartet of Garmrs screened their approach, also led by another Fenrir III.

”Watch yourself, watch your wingman. All units, weapons free.”
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Stitches
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"EVA! EVA, start the fucking engine!"

"EVAAAAHSHIT I don't have any fucking privileges!"

Abigail slammed into the corner of a wall and kept running, shouldering past personnel as she gunned it for the hangar bay. A familiar lumbering figure cut out from the other people-sized crew of the Roanoke. "JAK!" Abigail hollered, followed by something brief and desperate in Savonian.

“On it! EVA, start the Kolibri and the Krakono." Jakunta glanced down at Abigail. "I’m staying with the ship!”

"Good. I'd like somewhere to land when we're done cleaning up this mess," Abigail flashed him a brief smile and sped up to get to the hangar bay.

A path split for the pilots to reach their vehicles and Abigail scrambled into the Kolibri as fast as she could. The moment her rear end planted onto the seat her flight suit clipped into place around her and she pulled the helmet on whilst the cockpit closed and sealed shut - already the HUD had been enabled and the thrusters had warned up somewhat from being activated early. Her breathing calmed. Her fingers curled around the control stick and she felt the dull thumps of the cables detaching from the machine. Then the rails jettisoned her into space right after Ingram's Sparrowhawk had been launched into the fray and for the first time, Abigail got a good look at what they were dealing with.

"Pipsqueak here," she called out over Comms when the check came through. She waited for everyone to respond. "I'm looking at several warships, frigates, destroyers and a whole swarm of Coalition MAS units. They vastly outnumber us, definitely outnumber the fleet, but not to worry - I'm sure if we do this diplomatically and teach them about our superior way of li--"

The Comms cut as Abigail swerved leftward to avoid a spray of bullets that exploded against the hull of the Roanoke. "Nevermind, they tried to turn my MAS into a sieve so I doubt they're interested in a peaceful surrender. That cruiser wants a go at us so I'm going to draw out their Garmrs before they get to Eyes and Grizzly. Who knows," Abigail turned on the throttle and started peeling out towards the oncoming forces, "maybe a couple of those Mk.II Fenrirs will join in."

Abigail fired a few warning shots towards the quartet of Garmrs and ducked under their ranks, releasing a couple of flares nearby that popped in flashes of light as she wheeled around and 'retreated' long enough to catch the attention of the pilots. Only two of the four tried to engage, causing the Kolibri to pitch to the right and roll over to face them long enough to fire a few more shots at the stragglers before shifting direction again and zipping upward. "They're not going for me because they have the advantage," Abigail reported. "Give me a minute - I'll need to keep pressing them." Despite the manoeuvres becoming increasingly erratic, Abigail's tone was calm - clipped slightly because she was multitasking but a far cry from her usual exuberance.

A crackle of static, followed by the familiar, intense, knife's-edge focus of Aleks' voice.

"Pipsqueak, this is Deadeye. I have line of sight, designate your highest priority target, over."

There was a roar of engine, silenced completely by the vacuum of space, and a brief streak of blue light and vapour as he manoeuvred. Rifle up, target group designated, and firing solutions preparing - six parts training, two parts experience, one part computer, and the last part pure huntsman's instinct. Coalition troops were well trained and had good discipline, but when you combined the harassment of the Kolibri with the sudden and unannounced arrival of a sharpened tungsten core in your wing lead's fleshy pilot body, anyone would be prone to panic.

Which was precisely what Abigail needed.

Even if it meant Aleks getting closer than he had planned to, in order to make the shot - but then, the enemy were advancing anyway.

Abigail's responses were as erratic in timing as her movements. She needed to pause to readjust the MAS, which spun and twirled in her hands with ease when unfettered by gravity and an atmosphere. "Whichever one out of the two that aren't following," she spoke out suddenly. "Don't let them-" a downwards dive - "know what we're up to. Or it won't work on the others." Another pause. "Tell me when you're about to fire. I'll piss off the other guy."

"At present distance travel time is point three of a second. Firing in one point seven seconds. Round is two seconds out…" rifle up, sights locked, trigger squeeze- "now!"

That was the beauty of it; it wasn't about the shot itself.

The Kolibri made a screamingly sharp turn back towards the oncoming Garmrs as another burst of ammunition swept under its feet and began opening fire on the two still advancing towards the Roanoke before Aleks' shot had a chance to hit. When one of the speedy MAS units was punctured by a massive projectile and went hurtling backwards, the other had to combined shock of losing a comrade and a UEE 'sparrow' MAS flying blisteringly close to its chassis after a few stray rounds tore through some plating. It wasn't meant to look coordinated. The real threat was the Yeoman in the back but the whizzing and rattling of the Kolibri spraying ammunition and getting far too close for comfort was effectively keeping them from progressing…

And thus, the remaining three Garmrs turned as a unit and started hounding Abigail's MAS with fervour.

Abigail did a cocky little barrel roll to taunt them.

"Okay, they're on me proper-" for a moment Abigail sounded winded as she decelerated quite sharply and drifted her MAS at an angle to avoid the next burst of firepower. Each turn was a complete and utter shift in pacing and direction. "-mind the Fenrirs. Give my three time to forget about you and tell - FNG what we're doing in the meanwhile so she-fuck-doesn't try to help me."

"Roger." He switched radio channels, panels in his cockpit coming to life and changing on their own as he controlled the MAS directly through his cybernetics. "Clara, this is Deadeye - Commander Danielsson." He clarified. "Pipsqueak is doing well, acting as a distraction, does not presently require intervention. What is your status?"
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by DrRtron
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Gansu cursed as he smacked against the wall of the hallway, barely catching himself as the Roanoke shuddered all around him. He closed his eyes for half a second, hoping against hope that it was just an accident. That he would be able to continue on his way to get his cigarettes and then get his leave. As the lights went out, and there was no overhead proclaiming that everything was under control, he let out a deep sigh. "Fuck!" With that, he was off and sprinting towards the hangar. The captain's voice rang out above him as Ingram's voice rang through his comms. Gansu yelled as he ran, trying to cut down the three minutes even further. "Eva! St-" He was cut off as the VI program appeared in front of him. "Yes LIEUTENANT MATHEN? how may I-"

"Shutthefuckupshutthefuckup! Activate the Titan's engines and get it ready for combat!" Gansu cursed, waving a hand through the hologram as he sprinted through the halls. He narrowly dodged various crew members as they sprinted by him to their own battle stations. The zero G was a blessing right now, as he was able to go to the roof and around as necessary to avoid a traffic jam. Gansu cursed as he went. Of course the Coalition would attack right now. They couldn't just let them breathe for one week. Nooo, they absolutely had to attack right when there was light at the end of the tunnel and he was about to rest and relax. Fuckers.

"As you say, L-"

"Just do it already!" Gansu shouted again, waving at Eva in exasperation. If he ever found the Coalition bastard who had hit Eva to make her so damn pushy he was going to kill them. He snorted in amusement as he moved through the halls. Of course he was going to kill them. That was his whole job.

He darted through the buzzing activity of the hanger, quickly recovering to the artificial gravity, and was pleased to see that Titan ready and waiting. "I'm coming Hyperion!" He called out, waving his hands side to side over his head in excitement. As annoying as this interuption was, he couldn't get over the giddyness of being able to blow more things up.

He scrambled into the open chest cavity and slammed his fist on the close button. The various trinkets he had installed inside jingled as the cavity closed up. Taking a deep breath to calm his instinctive paranoia about the cavity nevery opening, he jammed his helmet on his head and sealed his suit. He began going through the motions with an audible sigh of relief as his vision began to match what the MAS saw.

In the brief moment he had before the comms would have to activate, he spoke into the emptyness of Hyperion. "Hey, in this upcoming battle, remember who gave you alcohol and food to comfort you in the darkness of space." Gansu rolled his shoulders and moved his body, checking that Hyperion was responding well. As the rest of the 7th came into his field of vision, he gave a soft smile. "And remember who his friends are. Zoom included in that!" The last bit was added hastily, to ensure no spirits got mischevious with him.

"Eyes here." He nodded in confirmation of Ingram's orders. "Understood Boss, Roanoke has prio. I'll stay with her." He lumbered out into the vast expanse space. He took another calming breath as he saw the Coaliton fleet in the distance, and began piloting himself onto the Roanoke herself. He sent out one last request into the dead of space.

"Please remember good ole Gansu and his squad."

He settled into waiting as D-eye and Pips did their thing. This was the part he hated most. He had to wait for Pips to draw off some targets for D-eye and to make some targets for Grizzly and himself. Didn't mean he had to like it. Still, it worked like a charm. Those damned annoying Garmrs were pulled after Pips and made ideal targets for D-eye and rest of the squad. Oh, how he hated those fast little fuckers.

The Hyperion began to shift impatiently as the remaining MAS were closing the distance. He couldn't get any closer without leaving the Roanoke, but it was torture just waiting for the enemy to get in range. It wasn't a long wait, a few seconds at most, but it felt like eternity. Gansu's eyes began to twitch in excitement as he saw one of the Fenrirs get within range. Since the Hardballers were still screened behind the others, they were priority. He brought up the firing system and aimed his cannons at four likely targets, a grin on his face.

"This is Eyes, clear down range, firing on Fenrirs." With a familiar, comforting, rumbling boom the autocannons fired. Four shells arced through space towards and Gansu held his breath in excitement. Two of them hit their mark. The Fenrir III at the head of the squad absorbed the shell on its shields. It recoiled nonetheless, but the shields were still standing. The Fenrir II behind it was less lucky. The shell hit it in the chest and exploded in a glorious shower of shrapnel, and the Fenrir II was left a floating ruin in the middle of a space battle.

The other two shells were dodged by the Fenrir IIs, and all of them noted Gansu. He brought Hyperion's alloy shields up as the rain of retaliation fire scattered across him and the Roanoke. He began moving upwards, just incase they decided to fire their missiles at him. He didn't want the Roanoke to be behind him and leave him with only the choice of 'take the hit or let the ship be hit.'

"I seem to have gotten their attention! Anyone who would like to shoot them back, note that the Mk III's shields are weakened."
Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by vietmyke
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Explosions rattled off in the silence of space as the 7th moved in to engage the enemy. They were not the only ones in the local battle space, skirmishes and pitched battles from other units- both UEE and Coalition overlapped with theirs. Wings of FF-210 Naginatas screamed by chasing after Coalition Fenrirs, which despite their ungainly appearances were easily able to outmaneuver the UEE aerospace craft with ease. The UEE comms were saturated with panicked chatter as individual strike craft and MAS units banded together to form ad hoc units amongst the chaos.

Ingram watched a flight of UEE Sparrows attempt to enter the battlespace from one of Horizon Point's many hangars, wincing as a plasma blast from a Coalition warship struck the hangar and destroyed it, reducing the 3 suits into slag. The defense fleets weren't handling the assault well either: unprepared for an assault of this magnitude, many of the ships were still bringing up their combat shields as Coalition weapons collided against their hulls, exploding with orange fire and sending debris, atmosphere and bodies out into the void of space.

He watched as Pips sped forward to distract the Garmrs, leading them into the accurate fire of Deadeye. Gansu had begun engaging the main body of the enemy squadron. The Fenrirs were rapidly closing the distance between themselves and the Roanoke, and the enemy warships had just entered the ship's firing range. From behind them, brilliant beams of blue plasma shot forward, into the bodies of the Coalition warships, splashing across their shields and hulls with blinding blue explosions. In response, the Coalition ships fired back a volley of torpedos and cannon shells, bright red tracers streaking across the empty space. The presence of ship weapons just added another variable to the battlefield- while the Roanoke's projected firing lines were constantly being presented in realtime across their HUDs, any MAS smaller than the Titan risked being destroyed outright by a single stray shot.

Everyone's vitals had thus far been holding steady, so Ingram steeled himself for the battle ahead. He pressed a button and felt the legs of the Sparrowhawk close into flight mode as he pushed the throttle to the max. His head was pushed back into the headrest as the Sparrowhawk rocketed forward, tearing ahead of the rest of the group moving to meet the Coalition squadron. One of the Fenrir IIIs raised its shield arm and let loose a spray of plasma, the Sparrowhawk barreling to the left to avoid the lethal stream. The cockpit shook as the Fenrir III and a pair of IIs flew past him- making moves on Deadeye who had been taking potshots at their Garmrs.

"Deadeye, heat coming your way. Commander unit and two Fenrirs." Ingram barked into the comms. Fenrir commander units were typically bad news- they were smarter than their subordinates by far, and their plasma casters could reduce something as light as the Yeoman to slag in seconds. Normally, Ingram would've turned back to intercept, but they were stretched thin as it is.

Turning back to face the rest of the Coalition squadron, Ingram dove into the center of their formation, swapping back into combat mode as his targeting system went to work. Instinct, speed and violence of action were the words Ingram lived by, in the center of their formation, the Fenrirs would be hard pressed to acquire and fire on him without risking hitting their wingmates, which Ingram took advantage of. His ammo counter dropped as he pointed the Sparrowhawk's arms at two different Fenrirs and unloaded a burst of 20mm shells at each, explosions rippling across their armor. He followed it up with a volley of micro missiles, four of which exploded across the formation of Fenrirs. The damage was minimal, but the point wasn't to damage, it was to disrupt.

Smoke, concussive force, and heat from the missiles in such volume and proximity played havoc with the Fenrirs sensors, allowing Ingram to pick off one without taking fire from the rest at once. Swapping back into flight mode, Ingram pushed his MAS forward and rammed one of the Fenrirs, the two MAS rocketing out of the smoke cloud


> C-MAD - Fenrir Mk II
> Lt. Andrew 'Nessie' Loch


"What in the-" Loch's voice was cut off as a UEE pilot of all things rammed into him. Whether it was aerospace craft or MAS pilots, UEE servicemen and women were never this bold. Usually it was the Coalition outmaneuvering and outgunning them, but somehow their unit ended up being the ones with the tables flipped. A fucking Sparrow was making a mockery of the Garmr wing, and another, bigger and bulkier sparrow had entered close combat with them.

The Sparrowhawk let go of his Fenrir and he felt himself tumbling as he quickly swatted at his controls, trying to bring his MAS to a stop- but the UEE pilot was already back on top of him.

"Fuck off!" Loch shouted as his Fenrir, still spinning, pointed its autocannon at the UEE suit and sent a spray of inaccurate shells in its general direction. The Sparrowhawk pointed its arms at his Fenrir and Loch saw the muzzle flash of its arm mounted weapons. He instinctively hugged the Fenrir's bulky arms around its chest, protecting the cockpit as explosions rippled across his arms and armor. There was an explosion above him and the cockpit viewscreen went dark for a moment as the UEE suit scored a direct hit into the Fenrir's head unit.

As the explosions stopped, Loch quickly looked around to reacquire his target. The camera distorted and unclear but he eventually found the Sparrowhawk, charging back at him- a beam saber drawn. Cursing to himself, Loch quickly hammered at his controls, launching his Fenrir's sledgehammer missile at the approaching suit whilst drawing his own combat blade. The armored Sparrow juked past his missile and an outstretched arm nailed him with another volley of shells, the explosions fully ripping his gun arm off. The enemy's beam saber reared back to prepare a strike and Loch saw his opening. He rushed forward with his combat blade, intending to stab the heated blade through the Sparrow's chest.

"I've got you!" Loch cried triumphantly as the Sparrowhawk juked to the left at the last possible moment, its beam saber cutting low across the Fenrir's torso. The blue-white of a plasma saber filled his view screen and disappeared, returning moments later as brilliant blue light began tearing through his cockpit. His helmet visor rapidly polarized as it tried to protect its pilot from the intense light, shattering. Loch saw the bright light and managed to get out a wordless scream. He felt intense heat, then nothing.


> 7th Squadron - Sparrowhawk-B
> LCDR Ingram 'Boss' Shaw


"That's one. Coming around for another pass." Ingram called over the comms, flying past a bisected Fenrir. His Sparrowhawk rocketed away from the remaining Fenrirs as the smoke cleared, easily dodging returning fire. His targeting AI blared a warning, his cockpit flashing red as it notified him of a Hardballer taking aim at him. The Sparrowhawk threw itself back into flight mode and tore off in random directions, a beam of plasma searing past him, along with a spray of 35mm shells.

"Eyes, I need some more fire down range, the Hardballers are coming into range, and they seem pretty intent on slagging little old me." Ingram barked, he may have specified Gansu, but he didn't much care who was firing, so long as it was sent.


> C-MAD - Garmr
> Lt. Amy ‘Aimes’ Kos


“How the fuck is this thing so fast?!” Amy ‘Aimes’ Kos barked into the comms as she and the remaining two Garmr’s tried to track the pesky sparrow down. Normally they would’ve let it go by now, but it just kept on getting in their faces whenever they tried to get even a second of breathing room.

“Fuck me, they got one of my boosters,” groaned one of her wingmates, as his Garmr lagged behind, smoking trailing from its shoulders where one of the Kolibri’s bursts had blown up one of its direcitional boosters. One of the Kolobri’s shells must have also scored a direct hit with the cockpit, as his camera was fuzzy and helmet was cracked.

“Stay back and bracket the fucking thing.” Aimes barked at her wingmates, “I’m going in for the kill.”

“Yes Ma’am” the other two pilots replied, as they immediately broke off their chase, splitting off in opposite directions. Using a combination of laser fire from their head units, as well as sprays of munitions from their handguns, they attempted to corale the Kolibri into a singular heading, where Aimes rushed forward to fill the gap, intending on ramming the thing with her sword and tearing it apart.

They couldn’t afford to spend much more time on a single Sparrow, they needed to turn and harass the UEE’s heavier units so the Hardballers could get their shots in undisturbed.
Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by Whoami
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Dearil powered the transport on and flipped through all of the switches the pre-flight called for. He fitted his helmet on and spoke over the ship's intercom, "Welcome aboard the River Styx. We'll be departing momentarily. Please ensure your helmets are on and your seals are secure as I will be depressurizing the ship prior before take-off. Wouldn't want a piece of space debris puncturing the hull and sucking you all into space now." Dearil made sure not to finish that sentence with the fact that it happens frequently... An set of inquisitive eyes would easily spot the myriad of welded breach panels all over the walls of the ship's interior. Such things were common in a battle space.

After the pre-flight was complete, Dearil confirmed with his passengers that their helmets were secured before closing the rear ramp and depressurizing the hold. There was a hiss as the air was vented from the ship. Dearil watched on a display as the ship's O2 storage tanks filled. An atmospheric readout showed that internal pressure was nil. He nodded to himself and powered up the engines, the landing gear of the ship leaving the deck of the Hammerhand. "Hammerhand Tower, this is River Styx. Pre-flight checks completed. Requesting permission to launch. Over."

"River Styx. Hammerhand Tower. You are clear to launch. Take egress lane five for five kilometers before breaking to your destination. Over."

"Roger, Hammerhand. River Styx launching now, out." With that, Dearil pushed forward on his throttle. The VTOL engines rotated to be parallel with the ship. They fired, sending loose papers and space dust flying backward in the Hammerhand's hangar. One unlucky deckhand had his bottle of hyperwater sent flying out the air shield hangar's ingress gate. Good thing Dearil already got the money for that one.

The River Styx was a cumbersome beast. As were all Carry-Alls. They weren't meant for fancy aerobatics or high speed. They were heavy lifters, and such instant acceleration would jostle the cargo or the passengers in the hold too much. The power the engines had to put out to get the ship moving at a decent speed was quite high. It also had the tack-on effect that slowing the Carry-All down was just as tough. But once it reached cruising speed, there would be little in its size range that could stop it. Dearil banked the ship right and pulled into the egress lane prescribed to him by the Hammerhand. It was a UEE standard for all ships to have multiple lanes to enter and exit the ship through for non-combative ships. In larger scales, the space between ships would often be cluttered and abuzz with activity. Such lanes prevented avoidable collisions from happening. Dearil had been reprimanded once or twice for accidentally flying into another lane. The lanes were uploaded to the ship's flight computer and projected into the pilot's visor as an AR overlay.

Dearil did his usual line of sight checks, rotating and swiveling his head on his shoulders to find out what was immediately visible to him from the cockpit. He saw the Hammerhand to his right as he flew down his lane, and the Horizon Point station more ahead of him. To his left, Dearil saw the distant destination marker on his HUD denoting the Roanoke, the ship he was posted to. As he flew down the lane and continued to slowly accelerate, Dearil noticed a brief flash of light on Horizon Point station. "What the..."

He zoomed in with the HUD on his helmet, the advanced sensors and computers superimposing a window in his immediate field of view of an enlarged picture. The computers worked to enhance the definition of the zoom in, allowing him to see Horizon Point in much greater detail than what his eyes would have allowed. He saw a black scorch mark and debris getting sucked out into space where the flash had been observed. Then he saw another flash- no... an explosion! Then another! And soon all of Horizon Point was breaking up and alight with brief fireballs. The concussive force of the blasts knocked the station off of its orbit, spinning it slightly on its axis as the centrifuge was disrupted and breaking up.

In seconds, Dearil's alarmed were blaring and his comms screen was alight with emergency signals. "Shit." he said, gritting his teeth. Not long after, Dearil was receiving orders to divert his flight path to assist in recovery operations, to which Dearil instantly denied. His flight path was going to take him right past Horizon Point, and thus its debris field. He wasn't about to risk the Princess trying to fly through that. He suddenly banked left and broke out of his egress lane to peel straight for the Roanoke. Dearil heard his radio start squawking his callsign like crazy.

"River Styx, you WILL obey this emergency directive!"

"River Styx, you will incur severe penalties if you do not carry out your orders for humanitarian aid."

"River Styx, return to your lane!"

Dearil growled and responded, "Fleet, this is River Styx! Sunray is aboard my transport. I say again! SUNRAY is aboard my transport. My mission supercedes yours. Kindly get the hell out of my ear!"

There was a long silence over the radio for a moment before one traffic controller responded, "River Styx, carry on with your assignment. Out."

Dearil let out a long sigh and slumped back in his seat. One nice thing about working with royalty, rules were tantalizingly easy to bend. Dearil lined his vector up with the Roanoke and sped toward the distant carrier. "Roanoke Tower, this is River Styx. I am on approach, ETA: twenty minutes. Be advised, Sunray is aboard my transport. Requesting landing priority."

"Roger, River Styx. Landing priority confirmed. All ingress lanes have been halted for your arrival- wait..."

Dearil blinked. He'd never been told to wait like that for landing clearance. What the hell was going on today? Was the Roanoke being assigned to help at Horizon Point too? While Dearil waited silently, he heard multiple pings on his short range scanner. He looked up and saw a number of red pips on the display. More alerts and alarmed sounded in his cockpit. The most harrowing of the alerts was a cold, emotionless "Contact. Coalition IFFs detected within Fleet security perimeter." Horizon Point was no accident.

The shockwave from Horizon Point's explosion finally reached the River Styx, causing the whole ship to shake and groan. He heard a voice chime in through the ship's intercom, "Is everything alright, Dearil?"

Dearil didn't want to tell the princess that things were most certainly not alright. But he didn't really have much of a choice. "Strap in, princess! The Coalition is here and Horizon Point is sunk! I'm burning hard for the Roanoke!"




<<: ... Incoming transmission ... ;
<<: ... Signal Origin: UEES Hammerhand ... ;

<<: ... "This is Hightower. Confirmed. The target is aboard a lone transport and has just departed the Hammerhand. It has no escorts. Now is the chance to secure her." ... ;

<<: ... Transmission ends ... ;


Captain Fernaldo Ghent of the Coalition Special Tasks and Intelligence Fleet sat in the captain's chair of his stealth cruiser. He listened to the transmission and smirked. It seemed that black mailing and threatening the chief petty officer's family paid off. That was precisely the information he wanted to hear. Not only that, but his double agents in the UEE orbital platform pulled off their part of the plan without a hitch. It was all too easy. The black cruiser remained just outside the detection range of the fleet's inner perimeter, the stealth materials used in the STIF ship were more than capable at remaining undetected in passive sensors.

He order his sensors operator to filter out the UEE fleet before them to find this transport that Hightower had identified. He would see a number of transports, all headed toward the wreckage of Horizon Point. But one wasn't. One was headed away from the wreckage unlike everything else. Surely enough. THAT was the one that held his target. He tapped at a comms screen built into the armrest of his chair, "Commander. Your squadron has been waiting long enough. Our quarry has been found. Capture the target, kill the rest."

In the compact hangar of the stealth cruiser, four C-MAD MAS units waiting in launch tubes began powering up. Much like the stealth cruiser that carried them, these units were all black and fitted with stealth materials as well to compliment the cruiser's capabilities. The stealth armor was lighter and offered less protection against attacks. But it allowed for greater speeds and greatly reduced the distance the distance the MAS would need to be at in order to be detected by radar. They were the perfect units for a stealthy retrieval mission such as this. Fitted to the backs of the stealth units were overboosters to quickly launch them through a defensive perimeter.

The launch tubes powered on and sent the MAS units out into the cold vacuum of space. They all reoriented toward their highlighted target and fired the overboosters. The blue ion thrusters accelerating them to unprecedented speeds remarkably quick. They would show up on the UEE's sensors only briefly before the overboosters were discarded.




Dearil looked ahead and saw that a battle had already broken out between the River Styx and the Roanoke. It was likely the 7th giving the Coalition hell. But it didn't bode well for him or the princess as they had to pass right through the chaos. "This is going to a rough ride, princess! Hold on tight!"

After saying that, Dearil heard some voices over the radio. Fleet command had dispatched an ISS frigate and a squadron of ISS MAS units to link up with the River Styx and act as escorts. But they were ten minutes out, and they were requesting that the transport powered down to reduce its signature and wait for them to arrive. Dearil wasn't keen on being dead in the water while a battle was waged all around them. Plus all the extra attention from the ISS would draw all the action toward them anyways. Dearil kept powering ahead toward the Roanoke and hailed the carrier. "Roanoke, this is River Styx. I'm going to need an escort as I pass through the battle space. The ISS is too far out to provide support for Sunray. Requesting the 7th's supp-"

The Carry-All was suddenly and violently rocked by a shot from a ballistic cannon. The ship span from the impact as alarms blared. It took Dearil a moment to regain control of the ship. "What the hell was that?! he looked around from his cockpit and spotted four black MAS units firing at the River Styx. An alarm sounded, which drew his attention to the diagnostics readout. Engine two was disabled and fuel was leaking from the nacelle.

"This is River Styx! Contact! I am being engaged by four times Coalition irregulars! I've lost power to one engine. Sunray is aboard this ship! I say again! Sunray is aboard! I need immediate assistance!"

Another shot hit the River Styx, rocking it once again. Thankfully, Dearil was prepared this time and kept the ship under control. More alarms blared, and Dearil saw that life support had been disabled. Good thing they weren't using that right now. Another shot hit the engine remaining engine, but the armor held. They're trying to disable the ship! Do they know who's on board?!

Dearil looked at a screen that had a video feed of the cargo hold. He saw Aurelia sitting straight backed in her seat, her whitened knuckles clutching tightly at the seat's restraints. She had her eyes closed. One of her ISS bodyguards laid unconscious on the floor, a crack in his helmet showed that he likely was hit in the head by loose crate. The other agent was knelt over him, trying to seal the crack with a plasticene foam. This was bad... Dearil knew that at that this rate, these irregular MAS units would have the princess before help could arrive. He switched off the inertial dampeners of his ship, allowing it to drift on its vector without input from the pilot. He then rotated the ship on its axis, bringing the nose to face its pursuers. Dearil tried to acquire a lock on the MAS units, but their stealth coating was making it difficult. "Fuck... Manual it is."

A shot ripped past the ship and missed. Dearil slaved the nose turret of the River Styx to his helmet, which tracked his eye movement. It would aim wherever he looked. He looked down, seeing that the AR display of his visor linked to the sensors underneath the cockpit of the ship. He was effectively able to see through the floor of the River Styx and operate the turret outside of what he could normally see. One MAS passed in front of him, which he quickly began to track. A quick burst of the small caliber ammunition traced out and missed the MAS. Manual aiming wasn't easy... He fired another burst, closer this time but still no dice. Another cannon shot came at the River Styx and hit just to the right of the cockpit, piercing directly into one of the large retro thrusters. The shot caused a small explosion, and the reinforced glass of the cockpit shattered, exposing Dearil directly to the vacuum of space. He was once again glad that he depressurized the ship. The glass exploded in every direction through the cockpit, a larger shard embedding itself in his lower abdomen. He groaned and bit down hard on his teeth to fight back the pain. Dearil kept piloting however. His third burst tracked a different MAS ahead of him, and he managed to score a series of hits on the armor of the MAS. The shield generator on the MAS stopped a number of the rounds, but some made it through and connected with the armor. He saw sparking flying from the shoulder joint of the MAS as it began to take evasive maneuvers.

"This is River Styx! Where is that god damn support!" he yelled. Pain lanced through his body from the glass in his gut. Thankfully his flight suit had worked to seal around the shard so he wouldn't be exposed to the radiation of space.

Another accurate shot from one of the stealth MAS units went straight into the nose turret. He let go of the turret controls with a frustrated gasp. A second shot hit the last engine, and this time it had done what it needed to do. The engine exploded, and with the inertial dampeners off, the River Styx was sent into a spin. Dearil tried to rearm the inertial dampeners, but they were disabled as well. There was nothing he could do in the pilot seat anymore. Dearil removed his harness and climbed from the pilot's seat, a hand firmly placed on his gut as blood floated from the shard. He held firmly onto a hand rail and made his way down into the cargo bay, the ship rocking again. Red emergency lights flared and span in the bay and klaxons sounded, though all Dearil could hear was the klaxons being dull and muffled through the vibrations of the hull. He saw that the ISS agent with the cracked helmet was dead, and the other was standing in front of the princess to shield her from debris in the hold.

Aurelia looked up and saw the injured Ferryman stagger down from the cockpit. "Dearil!"

The ISS agent looked over to him and took Aurelia's cry as a sign to go and help him. The ship rocked again as he took a few steps toward him. Suddenly, another cannon round pierced the hull. It ripped right through the ISS agent, turning his entire upper half into red mist. Dearil's suit was smeared with the ISS agent's blood, and his visor was blinded briefly until he used his hand to wiped the blood away. Dearil heard another alert sound in ear, which made him look at his wrist computer. The River Styx was sent into a decaying orbit. It was falling toward Cerol! He knelt before Aurelia who had a very worried expression on her face, "Princess! You need to get out of your seat!"

"What's happening?!" she asked worriedly, "You're injured, Dearil! How do I help you?"

Dearil shook his head, "Don't worry about me." He pointed next to the ladder that lead to the cockpit. "There's an escape pod there! It's good for four people. We need to get into it now!"

Aurelia nodded as Dearil took her hand and pulled her from her seat. He pushed her ahead of him, "I'm right behind you, Aurelia! Go!"

The ship rocked again and Aurelia fell to her knees. Dearil picked her up and moved her along. He reached into a pouch and pulled out his good luck charm. "Come on, baby, hold together!" he said to his ship.

Another round pierced the hull and just narrowly missed the two. Then they heard the sound of something heavy making contact with the ship. A MAS had just grabbed hold of the River Styx. They were going to board! Dearil reached out and shoved Aurelia forward into the escape pod with the hand that was holding his charm. It floated into the pod with her. Before she could turn around, Dearil slammed on a button to seal the pod. Aurelia screamed and pounded against the door of the pod. "Dearil! What are you doing?!"

"This is Ferryman. Sunray is aboard a lifepod and is ejecting toward Cerol. Send a recovery team immediately."

Dearil saw a plasma cutter beginning to shear away at the cargo bay ramp. He pulled a submachine gun off of a weapons rack and stood in front of the lifepod's door.

"Dearil! Let me out! Don't do this!" she cried.

The ramp blew open and a pilot in tan and black armor surged through. Dearil opened fire on the pilot, but he was inaccurate in his wounded state. The shots missed, and Dearil was answered with three fatal shots to the chest. He gasps and slumped back against the door. He heard Aurelia scream again just as the pod launched.




Aurelia watched through the small window at the River Styx. The wounded beast was flaming in more than one place as it span violently. She cried out for Dearil again, ignoring the fact that he wouldn't hear her. Then the River Styx exploded, taking the MAS that was attached to it with it. Her eyes widened as the fireball illuminated the dark pod. Then she heard alarms blaring within the pod. It took her a moment to collect herself and realize her situation.

"Warning... Atmospheric reentry detected. All survivors brace for landfall. Warning... Atmospheric reentry detected. All survivors brace for landfall. Warning..."

Aurelia looked around the pod and saw a display showing the pod's speed and time until it made impact. She grabbed a hold of a handrail and clung to it for dear life. The automated system in the lifepod continued to brief her.

"Landfall imminent. Deploying chute. Firing retro thrusters. Engaging crash padding."

Multiple panels in the hull of the pod opened up. Large air bags quickly inflated and obscured the steel walls. Aurelia could feel the deceleration from the pod's automated landfall procedures. The whole pod rumbled as it breached through the atmosphere. The surface of Cerol was fast approaching.

"Landfall in ten... nine... eight... SOS beacon active... seven... six... five... Brace for impact... four... three... two... one... Impact..."

Aurelia was sent into one of the air bags, and all went dark...
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Abigail couldn't afford to pay attention to anything else on the battlefield except her own MAS and the MAS units hot on her trail. As such, she didn't notice that the Yeoman had been engaged nor that the Sparrowhawk was tussling with a Fenrir. Every fibre of her being was singlemindedly devoted to keeping ahead of - and away from - the trio of Garmrs and their bursts of fire. So when they tried to pen her into a straight line, Abigail was on the Comms going "Now-...now? Backup! BackupbackupbackupBACKUP-" with increasing panic.

In the handful of seconds Abigail had to adapt to her new situation she grabbed her M15 combat blade, suddenly engaged her thrusters against her trajectory and tilted downwards, then twisted the Kolibri around and slammed the knife upward. The sudden deceleration was an agonising lurch even in the suit as a pained yell crackled through the Comms. Lt. Amy and Abigail veered off in a wild spin after the heat knife gouged into the Garmr and their combined momentum sent them flying. There still wasn't any time to relent. Since Abigail had launched the counterattack she was just as quick to disengage, wrenching the knife free and using the spinning Garmr as leverage to push herself out of the spin and away from the engagement to try and right herself.

As Abigail went off in a wide arc, the other two pilots opened fire. This time, one of them hit the mark. With most of the Kolibri's strength in avoiding projectiles before they hit, the explosive rounds tore through the lessened armour plating like paper and blasted through one of the foot-like struts at the bottom of the MAS. Though the damage wasn't too severe Abigail's balance was thrown off as she was sent in another spin, crying out in surprise as she wrestled with the controls to right herself and get out of the way. Her priority was less about evading another hit and more to do with getting control of the machine before they moved in once more, so as the undamaged Garmr closed in and levelled its rifle with the Kolibri's whirling chassis...

A thick cylinder of light enveloped the Garmr in a blindingly bright flash, leaving behind a smattering of melted debris and viscera in the vacuum of space.

On the hull of the Roanoke the monstrous behemoth of the Krakono had finished positioning, stabilising and preparing it's laser cannon. The barrel still glowed with residual heat as it recalibrated to sluggishly follow the Kolibri as Abigail was able to adapt to the damage and sweep upwards, far away from the carnage that Jakunta just left behind.

“Pipsqueak this is Grizzly, stabilise yourself and make way back to the Roanoke- you’re hit bad. One Garmr still on your tail.” came Jakunta’s voice through the encrypted combat comms.

"Right you are," Abigail breezily responded as she hacked her way through various evasive manoeuvres and outpaced the final remaining Garmr and his frenzied spurts of ammunition.

Laserfire streaked across the side of the Kolibri’s hull before it abruptly shut off, smoke and dust from a quartet of mirco missiles obscuring it from view. A gray and orange blur swooped in moments later, disappearing into the cloud. The bungled mass of both the Sparrowhawk and the Garmr it was ramming tumbled out of the smoke before Ingram kicked off of the thing, his Sparrowhawk’s wrists extended. Streaks of burning green and orange flew in a wild spray as Ingram unloaded a pair of scattershot canisters into the lightly armored Garmr. The iridium pellets tore into the Garmr’s chest and torso, leaving deep gouges as the unit powered down, unresponsive.

“You’re welcome,” Ingram said unprompted, as the Sparrowhawk paused for a moment, reorienting itself and examining the battlescape for another opening.

Abigail coughed a few times, groaning slightly. It wasn't that she was not accustomed to it; being subjected to such differing forces and pressures at unpredictable intervals was uncomfortable and laborious even at the best of times. It really wasn't uncommon for Abigail to sound hurt or tired during a fight as she usually handled these manoeuvres with some short reprises between them.

"Hey Grizzly wanna see me land on one leg-"

"Roanoke, this is River Styx. I'm going to need an escort as I pass through the battle space. The ISS is too far out to provide support for Sunray. Requesting the 7th's supp-"

The Kolibri skidded somewhat but arrested it's momentum on the chassis of the Krakono, as it had done so many times before. One metal hand curled around a cannon with the other levelling the rifle. "We've gotta move," Abigail spoke lowly into the Comms - all traces of her silliness had evaporated.

“Did you fuckin’ hear th-”

"This is River Styx! Contact! I am being engaged by four times Coalition irregulars! I've lost power to one engine. Sunray is aboard this ship! I say again! Sunray is aboard! I need immediate assistance!"

“Fucking hell,” Ingram cursed across the squad channel, “Squad, new priority- someone go grab Styx and walk his ass to the Roanoke! Now!”

"Detach from the Roanoke Grizzly, we gotta go." Abigail's thrusters lit up as she got ready to rush towards the coordinates, but her soldier's instinct kept her close to the heavy MAS. Jakunta didn’t respond, only acted. The heavy MAS was in the process of slowly but steadily building up speed to manoeuvre itself gradually in the direction of the River Styx. Abigail circled around the Krakono as it started to take off, but the frenzy of the battle was starting to affect the space around them. "Brace, brace! Ten o' clock!" The Kolibri swung behind the Krakono as a hunk of Horizon Point smashed into its hull - nowhere near enough to cause any damages to the plating but the shrapnel and debris cluttered the surroundings and forced Abigail underneath the MAS, clinging to the flame vents.

"Ferryman this is Pipsqueak! Me and Grizzly are coming as fast as you can, could you give us an update?" Abigail shouted down the Comms and detached from the Krakono, ducking and weaving through some of the detritus of the space battle. There was no response; Abigail wasted some ammunition to cut through what was left of a Sentry MAS and pushed aside the wreckage.

After a few agonisingly long moments and without making any real progress towards the carrier, the River Styx sent out one last message:

"Roanoke, this is Ferryman. Sunray is aboard a lifepod and is ejecting toward Cerol. Send a recovery team immediately."

For a brief moment Abigail and Jakunta floated in silence. They watched through the HUD as the River Styx was shorn up into pieces by Coalition irregulars and the explosions grew from its hull like sickly orange tumours. Then Abigail's UI started flashing and Kolibri wheeled away to avoid a few flashes of a laser. "Orders, Grizzly?" She asked Jakunta, her voice clipped and a little affected.

“They’re clear. We gotta’ rally with everyone. Chase up after the escape-pod and make sure they don’t destroy it or capture it.”

"Right." Abigail lifted her MAS from the Krakono. "We'll need the Full Echo. Commanders, the Krakono is en route to whatever the fuck is left of the River Styx."

Ingram’s comms lit up, but he didn’t speak for a slow, agonizing moment. “Pips, Grizzly.” He managed to get out through gritted teeth after a moment of hesitation, “Leave the Styx, Secure the escape pod. Sunray has prio.”

Abigail had already wheeled the Kolibri around. She used its arm to shove aside the detritus of what must've been an old restaurant bar. "Boss, elaborate. 'Secure the escape pod?'" she asked. The Krakono's thrusters didn't turn the beast immediately but having some anti-spacecraft weaponry pointed at whatever took down the Styx as they withdrew from the area wasn't necessarily a bad thing. "Mid-flight, or…? What about the Roanoke - the rest of the squadron?"

“Drop, now!” Ingram barked through gritted teeth- it was a tough call, but there was no time for hesitation. Especially with the escape pod already entering the atmosphere, even a minute of indecision would result in the VIP touching down much further away.

“We’ll catch up, but we cannot lose that pod. Secure the pod, find cover- we’ll figure out exfil when we make landfall.”

There was another pause.

"Yessir," came Abigail's voice through the Comms. "Preparing for re-entry. Starting up the Full Echo. Swapping to a private channel to co-ordinate with Grizzly. Have fun out there, guys."

There was a click and Abigail's comms went completely silent, the image of her helmet fizzling out of the HUD. Jakunta's portrait followed shortly after.
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Bazmund
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Bazmund Not a Doctor

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> 7th Squadron - P-TSCSA YEOMAN-2
> CDR Aleksanderin ‘Deadeye’ Danielsson

> 7th Squadron - TTN-001 ‘TITAN’ SOC
> LT. Gansu ‘Eyes’ Mathen





A Garmr down the scope - incoming radio chatter from boss - three Fenrir units bearing down on Gansu - another three on his five o’clock, mark three.

Finger on the trigger, heart beating a million miles an hour, thoughts racing so fast it wasn’t even like language any more - but head as cool as ice, heart stone cold - Aleks grimaced and turned from the Garmrs, twisting on his spinal axis, facing towards the newcomers, engaging reverse thrusters.

Radio on.

“Roger boss, three fenrirs on me. Pipsqueak, I can’t cover you - Grizzly, do it for me. Eyes, I’ll lead these three your way and help you deal with your own. Over.”

“Ooh, ooh, ooh! Bait and switch! Moving into position!” Came the excited reply.

Speed, faster than usual, in the opposite direction, facing retrograde. Enemy approach vector and their own speed in mind, they would catch him eventually - if he wanted to simply run, he’d have to turn around to do it - but they were heavier than him, the older models especially.

His unencrypted channel gave a crackle, and in his peripheral HUD the vision of an enemy pilot’s face, young and beautiful, aged only by the horrors of war, clean shaven and smooth faced except for the remnants of a burn scar across his jaw.

“Huntsman.” He snarled in a tone that was forged of equal parts begrudging respect and complete hatred.

Aleks’ mind ran the numbers almost as fast as his targeting computer. Gansu was behind him, the distance precise but abstract in his thinking - and Aleks’ hailer, speaking publicly through the unencrypted channel, was on the other end of the perfect line drawn from the Titan through the Yeoman, straight to the approaching Coalition squad.

Aleks knew what to do. He’d done it before, and he’d do it again.

A beat of silence, of stillness, and inaction, as Aleks opened the channel back at his assailant and they looked each other in the eyes - perfect equals on the black battlefield of orbital space.

The younger man barely reacted. If anything, he was disappointed - as though he’d somehow thought the Huntsman would look different.

“Prey.” Aleks replied, before killing the feed as the enemy commander’s face hardened with the freezing fury of a perfect, violent storm.

The enemy lit him up, practically dumping their magazines in his general direction as he levelled his own rifle - but they’d waited a moment too long, indulged their anger a second too many, and his firing solutions had already begun to come in.

Fire one, two, and three - raking the shots across the front of their formation, from right to left. The first Fenrir II engaged its ventral boosters and managed to just scrape a miss from his first shot - but having fired low, Aleks was anticipating that movement, and his second shot made a solid connection with the top of its head, driving a tungsten spear down the mech’s spine and straight into the pilot. As his rifle shifted to the other Fenrir II to fire the third round, the PLEBS activated, pivoting on their mounts, and firing a three second burst aimed at the Fenrir’s primary visual sensors.

As the enemy mech was blinded, it reflexively jerked to the side along its flight path, and although the third shot from the Longbow did hit its mark, it struck at an angle and was deflected, taking a chunky streak of alloy armour with it. Aleks juked out of the way as the Fenrir III finished reloading and resumed its hail of fire, a couple of hits striking true - luckily against armour rather than core components - on the Yeoman.

But Aleks had been reloading too, his previous magazine stored neatly away with the rest to the rear of his mech’s body, replaced with a full box magazine of savonite rounds.

As Aleks was making his way towards him, Gansu was still taking fire from his remaining Fenrir’s. Fortunately they were too far away to be doing any real damage to the Titan’s armor, but that wouldn’t last long. He ignored them as best he could, moving in the path of Aleks’ trajectory. This was going to be fun!

As he was moving, the hail of bullets suddenly stopped. Gansu looked around curiously and winced. A squad of UEE Sparrows were attempting to take the fight to the remaining Fenrir’s. It would go poorly for them, but it gave him the opportunity to aid Aleks. And who knew, maybe they would be able to get a kill in.

The Titan settled into position, and Gansu waited. When Aleks was close enough, he began firing up the X34. The large cannon appeared over the Titan’s head, a bright blue glow slowly spreading throughout the barrel. As he aimed at Aleks, an alert appeared across his screen.

WARNING: FRIENDLY TARGET DETECTED.

“Yes, yes I know! That’s the point! Deploy Cyclopes!” Gansu put in the override code and waited as a dozen drones spread out around him, ready to defend against any missile attacks or slow down MAS that got too close.

“Plasma cannon firing up D-eye. Get ready to dodge out of the way on my mark. Five...four...three...two...one...mark!” As he shouted out the signal to dodge, Hyperion was jerked backwards as the plasma cannon fired with a dull roar.

“Roger-wilco-” Aleks started back on the radio, burning hard on his rear thrusters, his ankle stabilisers leaving a fine, almost-glittering trail of manoeuvring jet exhaust particles in their wake as he - to any outside observer - performed a half-twist backflip. His radio cut out as the G-force set in, and he exhaled hard, forming a single word with his hard earned breath, speaking only to the glowing interior of the cockpit.

”Hooooo- he began, drawing out his breath and tensing his core to resist the strain of the turn.

The plasma cannon fired beneath him, missing the Yeoman by an astrological hair’s breadth, a brilliant glow of destruction, radiant with power as it tore through his pursuers. In the back of his mind, Aleks smiled.

His rifle came up, sighting perfectly the other Fenrir-III as it engaged one of the two remaining Sparrow units, coming into view just over the Titan’s shoulder.

One, two, three shots, as fast as the longbow would cycle and before the X34 had even spun down, straight into the side of the Fenrir commander as it wound up to fire its own plasma weapon. One shot looked like it might have glanced off the caster’s alloy shield, but two others found their mark at the shoulder joint, and all but severed the arm.

ook.” Aleks finished his hook manoeuvre as the G force subsided, heart pounding and pulse racing.

As the freshly-injured Fenrir III recoiled instinctively from his interdiction, trying and failing to handle its destroyed arm with a renewed sense of panic, Aleks turned briefly to survey the aftermath of Gansu’s prodigious attack.

The Fenrir II was absolutely obliterated by the blast, leaving nothing behind but chunks of superheated metal. The Fenrir III fared only a little better, with its shield absorbing most of the blast from the X34. It’s armor was still glowing red from the plasma and it was dazed, but it was still in one piece.

Gansu’s excited voice came crackling across comms, the grin in his voice palpable. “Ha-ha! That was sick! Bayonet the surviving F3, D-eye. I’ll start trying to save the Sparrows.”

He whirled Hyperion around, viewing the end of the battle between the Sparrows and Fenrirs. As predicted, it wasn’t pretty. There were only two left, and one was in the process of being gutted by a Fenrir II’s combat sword. With the Fenrir III distracted and a Fenrir II stuck in one place, Gansu took his shots. “D-Eye, be aware, one friendly Sparrow left and three hostiles. Firing on targets now.”

At the time Gansu was turning to engage the other group of Fenrirs, Aleks was driving the Yeoman in a sharp corner around the Hyperion’s neck, whirling back towards the single remaining Fenrir III - the one with the scarred pilot - with his bayonet affixed.

The commander unit began moving again, slowly and grindingly, as its sensor readouts normalised and the flight-gait coordination processors on board began recovering from the overload of being hit - and more remarkably, surviving a hit - from the X34. Achingly, it turned to look in the direction of the Yeoman’s approach, and twitched in panic - the pilot activated his own RCS systems, turning the mech to face the Huntsman he had come to kill, willing his plasma-caster arm to obey the commands of the on board targeting computer-

Aleks flicked on the unencrypted channel.

“Huntsman to Fenrir III. Relax, pilot, you did ok.” he at last made impact, driving the point of the bayonet straight through the slowly rebuilding energy shields and directly into the Fenrir’s left shoulder joint, transecting a brief, sharp line through the wiring plexus feeding power to the plasma weapon in its hand.

Unwilling to give up so easily, the Fenrir III’s pilot made a mad swipe with his other arm, trying to bat the Yeoman away and gain distance - but at this range, as damaged as he was, he was never going to be fast enough, and Aleks used his rifle to deflect the clumsy blow over his head, before drawing back and swinging the titanosavonite alloy blade straight into the his opponent’s main ocular array, utterly destroying it.

In the Fenrir’s cockpit, the main viewscreen went dark, and the pilot was left first in a dim, noisy hole as his radio net’s activity peaked, then in silence as Aleks took his antenna and auxiliary sensor units by the fist and ripped them out.

Without sensors or comms, the Fenrir III was more or less dead in the water, the pilot inside drowning in the silence.

Until Aleks’ bayonet drove straight through one side of the cockpit canopy, barely missing the pilot inside, and levered the door straight off.

The coalition pilot’s suit helmet sealed and pressurised automatically as he came personally face to face with the eyes of the Yeoman-2, exposed and open to the vacuum of space.

There was half a second of regard between them, accompanied by another burst of static from the unencrypted band on the Coalition pilot’s radio.

“You came closer than most, pilot.” Aleks’ voice echoed in his mind, as he gave an audienceless roar in his pressure suit and tried one last time to raise his weapons against the Huntsman -

“No!” the scarred pilot cried over the free channel.

Aleks reached into the cockpit with his free hand and tore the enemy pilot straight out of it, crushing their waist in his grip, before slamming them back into the chassis of the mech and using them like a blunt instrument to smash up its insides, rendering the whole machine inoperable - and hopefully, unrecoverable.

As the Fenrir drifted away with its cockpit open and the operator smeared across the interior, Aleks turned away, swapped magazines back to his signature armour piercing rounds, and focused on the next task.

A little way across the battlefield, Hyperion’s Heavy autocannons roared again, this time sending two shells apiece towards their targets. The Fenrir II never stood a chance; in the middle of finishing off a Sparrow, it was ripped in half by the explosion of the shells. The two halves went spinning in different directions.

The Fenrir III’s shield did its job admirably. The two shells smashed against it, albeit only just being stopped from hitting the III’s armor. The Fenrir III jerked back as its shield finally collapsed, and pointed towards the Titan with its remaining arm. The surviving Fenrir and it began to speed towards the Titan.

Gansu headed backwards, bringing up his SAMs, as his unencrypted channel began to crackle to life. Gansu didn’t even look over at the woman as she snarled. “Of course you’re the dogs of the 101s-”

“Shut up! End channel.” Gansu snickered at anger and confusion at such an abrupt end in the enemy MAS pilot’s eyes before the channel was closed. “D-eye, I’ve whittled them down to two and gotten the F3’s shields down. They’re both bearing down on me.”

Hyperion’s SAMs fired, sending two missiles straight towards the Fenrirs. Before they could even get close, the Fenrir III’s laser systems shot them out of space with a dull explosion. Gansu cursed, pulling back farther as they closed the distance.

The Fenrir II fired its spike missiles, which Gansu ignored. They were intercepted by his swarm of Cyclops and destroyed in a hail of laser fire. Allowing him to focus on the bigger threats, like their broadswords.

Hyperion’s minigun came up, spinning up and firing on the Fenrir III. It brought it’s alloy shield up, taking the hail of gunfire from the minigun for both itself and the Fenrir II. “Shit, shit, shit.” Gansu muttered, pushing the Titan farther back. They were getting into uncomfortable territory.

His eyes widened as the Fenrir II appeared over the head of the Fenrir III, with its Sledgehammer missile locking into place. He didn’t have anything that would block a missile of that magnitude, and Hyperion sure as shit wasn’t fast enough to outrun it. Before Gansu could go and join the spirits of the war, the Fenrir II exploded violently as two missiles hit it in the back. Looking behind, Gansu saw the remaining Sparrow wave a friendly hand. It had expended its last Claymore missiles. With that and a burst of speed, it was gone. It was too beat up and out of ammo to do anything other than get in the way.

“D-eye, update, F2 is down thanks to our surviving Sparrow friend. I’ve got the F3 suppressed but it is approaching quickly if you want to take this opportunity to kill her!” Gansu spoke rapidly, almost incoherently, as he pushed Hyperion backwards with the minigun still firing at the Fenrir III. It was close enough now that the swarm of Cyclops had gone to intercept and was harassing the Fenrir III, ineffectually firing lasers all around the MAS armor.

Like a moth drawn to flame, Aleks popped up behind Hyperion’s shoulder, almost perfectly aligned with Gansu’s own firing arc - and he fired two shots at the approaching Fenrir III, suspended as it was, trying to deal with the Cyclops drones.

They ran home straight into its guts, severing the pilot’s control of the legs, and spraying oil, sparks, and glittering MAS components out the other side of the mech. The Fenrir turned to observe the newcomer as it finished beating a cyclops out of the space around it, a little surprised to find its lower modules unresponsive, and even more surprised to be meeting a zero-g bayonet charge when its gaze finally drifted in Aleks’ direction.

Aleks lunged, driving the bayonet home through one of the suit’s frontal shield emitters, before swiping sideways in the same motion to disarm her. The Fenrir kicked on its thrusters and started to push back, reaching clumsily with its dumb, joystick arms to try and seize the Longbow - but Aleks engaged his lateral thrusters at the last moment and effectively sidestepped it, driving the bigger MAS directly into the barrel of one of Gansu’s cannons.

Aleks flicked on the local, unencrypted channel.

“Eyes, kill the pilot.”

The cannon fired once, obliterating the Fenrir before the coalition pilot could do anything. Hyperion rocked back from the proximity of the blast, and Gansu cackled. “I think we did a pretty damn good job for being suddenly attacked on our fucking leave!”

He shifted Hyperion around to face the battle, readying its cannons again. “Now lets see if we can’t drive off-” He was cut off by a flurry of chatter over the comms.

"Roanoke, this is River Styx. I'm going to need an escort as I pass through the battle space. The ISS is too far out to provide support for Sunray. Requesting the 7th's supp-"

"We've gotta move,"

“Did you fuckin’ hear th-”

“Did he say fucking Sun-” Gansu hit the comms at the same as the others, already shifting towards the Styx’s location.

"This is River Styx! Contact! I am being engaged by four times Coalition irregulars! I've lost power to one engine. Sunray is aboard this ship! I say again! Sunray is aboard! I need immediate assistance!"

“Fucking hell,” Ingram, cursing. “Squad, new priority- someone go grab Styx and walk his ass to the Roanoke! Now!”

Gansu hit the local channel with Aleks. “Go get him D-eye! I’ll cover! Hyperion is too fucking slo-”

"Ferryman this is Pipsqueak! Me and Grizzly are coming as fast as you can, could you give us an update?"

"Roanoke, this is Ferryman. Sunray is aboard a lifepod and is ejecting toward Cerol. Send a recovery team immediately."

“Fuck! Fuck! FUCK!” Gansu didn’t open his comms. He just raged impotently. There wasn’t anything he could do, and he hated it.

"Commanders, the Krakono is en route to whatever the fuck is left of the River Styx."

“Pips, Grizzly. “Leave the Styx, Secure the escape pod. Sunray has prio.”

"Boss, elaborate. 'Secure the escape pod?' "Mid-flight, or…? What about the Roanoke - the rest of the squadron?"

“Drop, now! “We’ll catch up, but we cannot lose that pod. Secure the pod, find cover- we’ll figure out exfil when we make landfall.”

Aleks’ eyebrows raised, his head cocked - and in the flickering darkness of space as the destroyed Fenrir’s wreckage floated by, the Yeoman’s eye unit cocked to the side too, mimicking his body language.

"Yessir. Preparing for re-entry. Starting up the Full Echo. Swapping to a private channel to co-ordinate with Grizzly. Have fun out there, guys."

“Will do Pips. Orders Boss? Does Roanoke still have prio?” Gansu flicked on his comm, watching Jakunta and Abigail’s huds fizzle towards Cerol.

Aleks checked his weapon, before scanning the area for new targets - specifically, for anything matching the description of an irregular - while the gears in his mind worked overtime.

“I fucking hate this planet.” Gansu said at last.

Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Dog
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Dog

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Andrew simply wanted a break; a breather from the last missions in the past few months. Sadly, the current situation is less than ideal to do so. Either by hubris or ignorantance or a combination of both, the Coalition has decided to attack the fifth-fleet and sow chaos. Sitting in his own mech, Andrew stared at his holoscreen for a solid few minutes with his comms on. He sat and listened to the combat ongoing outside in space with the Garmrs, Fenrir IIIs, Hardballers, and whatever else the Coalition decided to bring into the fun. No matter, the seventh will take care of this annoyance. With time already wasted, Andrew kicks into high-gear as he takes control of his mechanical beast. The hanger-doors drop open and with the assistance of thrusters, Andrew enters into space and into the fray.

Andrew quickly analyzes the situation at hand, using both his internal scanner and hints from the comms to get a grasp of who is who and what is what. Gansu, from Andrew’s views, appears to have largely dealt with the Fenrirs. Good on him. From the looks of it, there are only a few Fenrirs that have stayed behind the fighting. With his targets in mind, Andrew boosts his T-120 forwards to the front-line towards the few Fenrirs left.

“Hey ya, Gansu - sorry for being a bit late to the party. I was just doing some system diagnostics,” Andrew calmly states over the comms with a soft voice.

Andrew runs another analysis, hoping to pin down more exact numbers of enemy mechs. An alarm goes off with his systems having detected two Fenrir II(s) very close by - a bit too close by. From there, Andrew repositions his T-120 to get a proper line of sight for his Kirov Superheavy Lascannon. In the meanwhile, his targeting systems attempt to get a lock-on onto the Fenrirs. A few shells hit the shields of Andrew’s mech - 35mm rounds. The Fenrirs are a bit more quicker then what Andrew predicted. Sadly for them, they will not exist for much longer. Andrew’s targeting system manages to get a solid lock onto one of the Fenrir. With the push of a button, the T-120’s Kirov Lascannon instantly fires. Bullets might have travel time, but lasers are quite different. Unable to dodge the speed of light, one poor Fenrir has its upper chest utterly pierced by the superheavy lascannon. That uparmored alloy plating is not much of use, is it now? The Fenrir attempts to get out of sight, but Andrew simply tracks and gets off another laser shot - sealing the fate of that one Fenrir and its pilot.

The other Fenrir, while his friend gets destroyed, has chosen to close in with its broadsword. Andrew reacts with his plasma melter. The broadsword manages a hit onto the chest of the T-120, but that won’t do much against the extremely armored plating and structures of Andrew’s mech. In return, a wave of plasma melts off the Fenrir - turning the poor pilot and his or her mech into a molten slag of metal. With those targets down, Andrew turns his attention to a frigate that his systems just picked up on the radar. It appears that Roanoke did quite the damage to it already. May as well finish off the job for it. Andrew does another reposition before unleashing his lascannon towards the frigate. That should finish it.
Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Rapid Reader
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A collaboration with @vietmyke:


Clara / Zoom





Clara's comms burst to life in a sudden wash of static. The station was gone. Styx was gone. She was sweating beneath her helmet. Resetting the circuit breakers of a MAS was hard enough when docked. Resetting the circuit breakers of a MAS was even harder when you were in combat. Someone had fucked up. Someone had made one hell of a mistake. And someone had almost gotten her killed on her first sortie with the 7th.

She could hear the engine spooling back to life with a sudden lurch as power surged through the generator to the two boosters. She let out a puff of air, breathing in deeply. Jumping back into the pilot’s seat, she flipped the master ignore switch silencing the alarm klaxons and warning signals that overwhelmed her HUD. She’d have to risk it. There wasn’t time to double check her on the spot fix. All Clara knew was that if she made it, if she made it back to Roanoke she was going to kill the mechanic that had readied the Peregrine.

Coalition MAS were still threatening Roanoke. The rest of the 7th was still fighting as Abigail and Jakunta fell towards Cerol.

"Boss," Clara shouted, opening her comms. "Hardballers on your six! I’m engaging but you’ll have to do some pilot stuff right now!"

"You good lieutenant?" crackled Ingram’s voice, his camera shaky and fizzy on Clara’s HUD, "Thought you were dead in the water."

"I'm good now, Boss," Clara said, making no effort to hide the irritation her voice, "But someone on the Roanoke won't be if I get back in one piece. How hard is it to install a computer mainframe correctly?"

Without waiting for a reply, Clara firewalled the throttle, sending the Peregrine lurching forward in a sudden burst of speed as the afterburners kicked in. She felt the injected fuel explode and the extra thrust pushed her back against her seat with a low grunt as she began to pace her breathing. She anticipated the Gs. She knew they would be there. She tensed her muscles. Her G-suit squeezed against her body, tightening around her legs and chest, pushing the blood back towards her brain. Helping her to keep awake. She breathed in. She fought the blurring that threatened the edges of her eyes, the exhausted darkness of G-loc. Gritting her teeth she began to slowly speak a word. The same mantra. The same mantra she had used since flight school. Hook. It made her feel like a pirate. She had always imagined that she was communing with the old swashbucklers. She finished the word, exhaling, before she began the technique all over again.

Anti-G Straining Maneuver (AGSM). A Relic of the age of atmospheric combat. No longer necessary given the advanced suits that the UEE had developed. However, when you were pushing against the limits of what the human body could take, every second of consciousness counted, and Clara had no intention of forgetting the secrets of the old aces.

The two lumbering Coalition MAS had no time to notice Clara before she came rocketing into them. Ingram was too close. She couldn't use her missiles and she didn't have time to wait. With a flip off a switch, Clara armed her cannon, watching as the HUD shifted. The Smart AI adjusted in a dance of code, projecting moving circles in front of the enemy MAS faster than she could even react. She needed to correct. She was going so fast. Not fast enough, she thought. She picked the trailing Hardballer furthest from Ingram and squeezed her trigger. She felt the loud boom of the Rheinmetall MK 508 firing, heard the hollow thud as the heavy cannon rounds left the barrel. The shield of the Hardballer crackled and then broke in a flurry of lightening as her rounds smashed into the back of the Hardballer.

The leading Hardballer broke to the left. She could hear the crackle of desperate comms from the Hardballer she had just hit. Heavy damage she suspected. Next target Clara thought as she kicked her left pedal, dancing gracefully towards the much slower undamaged Hardballer. She heard the blaring warning sound of a radar lock as she prepared to fire. There was no time for countermeasures and she broke to the right, spiraling the Peregrine in a painfully high g move that sent grayed her vision and left her gasping for breath.

"Oh no you don’t," Ingram growled, pushing hard on the throttle as the Sparrowhawk rocketed past the Peregrine. His cockpit rattled as he barreled in after the fleeing Hardballer, his onboard AI quickly locking onto the bright thruster flares. Had the target been a Garmr or a Fenrir II, Ingram might’ve been willing to let it go- it was faster than worth chasing, and in the grand scheme of things, not particularly valuable targets. On the other hand, these heavy fuckers were durable and powerful, even a damaged one with a working plasma cannon could cripple the Roanoke with a clean shot. Hardballers were tough but slow, and in its current state, it was little more than shooting fish in a barrel.

As soon as his AI confirmed a target lock, Ingram flicked open one of the covers on one of his control sticks, and pushed the button it protected. There was the quick thunk of the missile tubes cycling, and a split second later he felt the recoil in the cockpit as a longsword missile burst from one of his shoulder launchers.

The Hardballer noticed the missile, and attempted to roll out of the way, but with its current damage it wasn’t capable of such a maneuver, and disappeared in a burst of fire, as armored limbs and plating scattered into the void of space.

Without missing a beat, Ingram wheeled around and faced the other one, his maneuvering thrusters shooting him downwards to dodge a spray of cannonfire. Whilst this was all happening, the battlespace was rapidly shifting. Pips and Grizzly had begun their descent onto Cerol, Abi’s last ping pinpointing their position and noting their predicted fall path on everyone’s HUD. Already they were getting further and further away.

"Commander Ingram," A calm voice called to him, and a small box appeared in the corner of his HUD across the command channel. The smooth voice belonged to Captain Sarret, commanding officer of the Roanoke. "The Roanoke has informed Command, we’re to go after Sunray immediately. Clean up and get back on board. We can’t afford to stall out here much longer."

"What about the rest of the fleet?" Ingram replied, dodging out of the way of a plasma blast and returning a flurry of 20mm shells at the remaining Hardballer. Its armor was tough, and his shells weren’t getting through, but he managed to overload the shields, opening it up to more damage from the Peregrine’s heftier weapons.

"The rest of the 5th fleet is falling back, the defense fleets are being commanded to hold the line until we can get to Sunray and get out. Our window of opportunity is closing fast. Get it done. Sarret out."

The Captain’s face vanished from his HUD as the comm cut, punctuated by a pair of heavy plasma beams lancing across space. The heavy beams hit their mark against the Coalition cruiser, tearing across the hull. Explosions rippled across multiple decks as the plasma beams melted through the ship.

Ingram growled, and pushed his Sparrowhawk forward, slamming into the Hardballer and slicing at the offending machine with his beam saber. He rapidly pushed off of it as his saber connected with the ammo drum, a myriad of explosions following it as several shells exploded from the saber’s heat. The rest of the weapon’s ammunition poured out into the vacuum of space, rendering the Hardballer’s rotary cannon useless.

"7th squad," Ingram’s voice crackled through the squadwide comms, "We need to pick up the pace. Wipe the board, then RTB. Every minute we waste up here is another dozen miles between us and the recovery team."

Hitting the kill button on his controls again, he loosed another of his precious few longsword missiles, hoping to get a quick kill. The second Hardballer was quicker on the ball though, and attempted to dodge out of the way of the missile at the last moment. The missile was faster than the mech however, and while it was able to dodge a killing blow, the missile connected with its side, blowing out its right leg and arm, and exposing the side of its cockpit to the vacuum of space. Still alive but limping, its main thrusters flared and failed, as the pilot attempted to use its remaining leg and maneuvering thrusters to guide it out of the battlespace.

Cannon rounds splashed across the damaged Hardballer across the cockpit as Clara came roaring back into the fight. The Hardballer shuddered, thick black smoke venting from torso of the stricken MAS as began to visibly move across the torso. The heavy MAS vanished in a sudden flash of light as the engine finally exploded, venting burning fuel and shrapnel into space.

"Zoom reporting two Hardballers down, no damage," Clara said as she looped the Peregrine around to follow Ingram. She lowered her throttle, matching the slower speed of the heavily modified Sparrow, and taking a slow, tired breath as the speed of the Peregrine finally stopped punching her in the chest. "I'm on you, Boss."
Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Stitches
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It didn't take long for everyone's HUDs to light up with the input from the Full Echo suite. A diorama of the battlefield pinged into existence, the outline of MAS units, cruisers, warships and debris expertly carved out of light. As Abigail fiddled with the controls a small object was brightened and highlighted; its path of trajectory into Cerol's orbit calculated and adjusted piece by piece for accuracy with each passing moment that the system was locked onto its target. The two MAS units designated KOLIBRI and KRAKONO were adjusting their course to not follow, but cut into the path of orbit at a steeper angle so they could catch up with the escape pod and land as close to it as they could.

With its thrusters disabled the Kolibri clung onto the Krakono with one hand whilst the other kept its autocannon rifle trained on any encroaching targets, but there just weren't any nearby; the combination of whatever turrets that still worked on Horizon Point and the fleet were occupying the bulk of the Coalition forces as a slew of debris was slowly sucked into the weak gravitational pull of Cerol, gaining speed and traction as it fell. With the size of the Krakono the glow of its thrusters was masked; what care would one give to two MASes similarly plummeting towards the planet amongst the wreckage?

"I don't even have both landing struts," Abigail lamented. "Ingram just did the MAS equivalent of ordering an amputee to do a backflip."

“He knows we can do it.” he paused. “No complaints now.”

"You're right. There might be Coalitionists down there. They could end up capturing her, or worse - turn her into a capitalist." Abigail took a deep breath and slowly exhaled.

“This isn’t right. Space here is no place for her.” The Krakono gradually adjusted its course to the data input from the Full Echo Suite on the Kolibri. The HUDs of the seventh start to show a longer trail of the escape pod's descent - but slowly, pixel by pixel.

"The devious schemes of the ISS are so secret that even they don't know what they're doing," Abigail spoke with mock solemnity, "but rest assured that whatever it was, before it got horrifically fucked up, it was probably - really clever." The way she spoke started to get affected as they continued their re-entry.

“Their minds are running thin. Hell knows what this was for.”

The black of space slowly turned purple, then a dirty pink. Neither pilot saw this from the darkness of their cockpits. The air resistance made the Kolibri start to shiver long before the Krakono would be affected. A little warning light flashed against her symbol on the seventh's HUDs as it reached very high temperatures.

"Starting to get a bit toasty in here. Not that I can tell in the suit but the computers are mad at me," Abigail pointed out. She adjusted the Kolibri's grip; it was a little tin can flush against the gargantuan bulk of the Krakono.

“It’s going to start getting worse.”

"It'll hold. For now."

The Comms were quiet, save for the increasingly laboured, painfully controlled breathing of the pilots.

"I think Ferryman's dead. The way he broadcast that message. I think he's gone." Abigail thought for a moment. "Sunray's lost her Jakunta."

“Yeah. He is dead. It happens.” he briefly replied.

"You know that, and I know that. I don't think she knew that. Not really." A deep breath and an exhale. "Here's hoping it doesn't mess with her too badly."

“It is not our job to play counsellor.”

"That kind of thinking got you far in the TLF, but out here in civilised society it's not as easy. If she puts a bullet through her own helmet, we can't exactly call it friendly fire and wash our hands of the whole thing." Another slight adjustment, a steepening of the curve as the two pilots aligned their landing with the scrap of a bent line that marked the escape pod's route. "I don't know Sunray but I get where she's coming from. And besides... always easier to follow instructions when they're coming from a friendly face in an emergency like this. You play soldier; I'll be the contingency plan for any, emotional disturbance, that prevents us from carrying out our orders."

Abigail wasn't just rambling for the sake of it. The deceleration was putting an immense strain on them both; it felt like their heads were swelling with blood. It thumped in their ears and squeezed their eyeballs, blurring the screens slightly. The pain was tolerable - but tolerable didn't mean it was pleasant. And though Abigail's suit was deliberately made to withstand alternating positive and negative g forces, the Krakono seldom saw such impressive speeds and the flight suit wasn't built for such a thing.

"Not seeing red yet, I hope?" Abigail spoke tersely as she fought her own circulatory system. "See you can just pass out when you touch down, what's the Krakono gonna do. Bounce. No way. Meanwhile I've got to break off, accelerate, decelerate some more and land on a busted strut. Cerol's full of trees."

"Everything clear. We’re falling far, the trees are the last of our worries." His eyes were glued ahead on his readings.

"Let's shoot for the meteor tactic. If any of my sensors aren't fried before touchdown we'll just point you at the nearest guerilla Coalition hideout." Abigail tried to giggle but managed a breathy hiss and a pained groan. "Speaking of…" Just as suddenly as it appeared, the layout was abruptly cut off; instead the last known descent path of Abigail, Jakunta and the escape pod remained. The little warning light against the Kolibri had started reaching severe levels of overheating; next was 'critical', then 'fatal'. It hadn't gotten that bad yet.

"Not even Ingram expects us to have fully operational MASes after tearing ass through an entire atmosphere," Abigail spoke through gritted teeth. Her optimism came out strained. Everything was strained. "You know what we're here for. Tracking beacons with guns. An idea - of where the fuck she landed." Her fingers, now leaden, punched in something letter by letter into a keypad. "Cerol. S'got breathable atmosphere, hodunk...colonies of some sort. Most of it, it's jungle, and water. Very wet. We won't hit any water." Each sentence was broken with a ragged breath.

Aleksanderin's screen pinged with a message.

A_HARLOW: wheeeeeee

A_DANIELSSON: what the fuck

The Krakono was starting to rumble with turbulence now as well. Unable to multitask any further, the two pilots conveyed their continued consciousness through various quiet grunts and noises of pain. An alarm started to blare in Abigail's cockpit. "Detaching from your chassis," she growled. "Prepare for landing."

The deceleration was already ruthless but having to press the thrusters even harder for a few seconds worsened the long, tumultuous descent. Jakunta yelled through a clenched jaw as everything - blood, organs, muscle, bone, everything - seemed to push upward into his skull. The pressure and the pain breached the threshold into intolerable levels. Trees bent like twigs under the Krakono's weight and the HUD blurred and his vision went red then there was a resounding crash and everything sloshed back into place and Jakunta slumped back into then through his seat as he plunged into absolute darkness.

The emergency lighting was on when Jakunta came to, with various alarms pinging and beeping to let him know that the Krakono was overheating. His arms, legs, head, hands and feet felt heavy and difficult to move. The HUD was still online but flickering; it displayed the position of the Kolibri at around a hundred metres from his location. The camera feed into Abigail's cockpit was full of fuzz and static - he couldn't make out her figure in the seat. It was empty.

Jakunta tiredly reached out to confront Abigail through her comms. “You with us? Hey.” before collapsing back into his seat. He waited patiently, trying to recover some sense into his limbs to get himself up properly and exit his MAS.

"Haaaghghraauuughgh." Abigail clearly wasn't attempting anything more complex than an indication that she wasn't dead.

Jakunta nodded to himself, he let himself recover for one more minute before finally gathering the strength to start fiddling with the controls of his mech. There weren't any damages - not that he'd expected any - but the more delicate components such as the HUD and the Comms were patchy and flickering as they kept trying to turn off to cool down and switch back on again because the MAS was still in use. Control input was sluggish at best. He tried to aim his cannon and, whilst it would move, it would only move a fraction of an inch before he had to input the coordinates again.

There was no way around it; until the Krakono had cooled somewhat, it wasn't going anywhere fast.

Jakunta reached back out to Abigail. “Stay where you are, I'll come find you. I’m going to take a look outside.” he stood himself up and shakily made himself to the hatch of his MAS.

"Aaarghuugugugh."

Initially Cerol looked like a hazy rainforest but once Jakunta made it out of the Krakono he saw the MAS steaming as the humidity in the air sizzled off the armour plates. The jungle was dense and thick and had been only slightly blown back by their sudden arrival, to the point that only a brief gap in the canopy had formed. It wasn't that hard to find the Kolibri as Abigail must have aimed for the gap during her own landing...but it wasn't as flawlessly executed as he'd have liked. It was slumped over on its knees, leaning against one of the knotted tree trunks and also emanating clouds of steam high into the jungle. The cockpit was only partially ajar.

Jakunta dove back down the hatch, he equipped some light combat gear and grabbed a sidearm before clambering back up the hatch and safely down his large MAS. He carefully trudged towards the Kolibri- eyes scanning the foliage around them and the dirt beneath him. He arrived at the cockpit, trying to peer inside before voicing out: “I’m outside. It’s me.” as a forewarning. When he didn't hear an answer he pushed his way into the cockpit; in the gloom Abigail was lying face first on the ground in her EVA suit.

“You look like you just fell from orbit.” Jakunta remarked before looking at the interior of her MAS, checking to see if there were even sparks to indicate the machine's functionality. Everything was switched off and a few preliminary clicks didn't turn anything back on again. Abigail slowly rolled onto her side, wrenched her helmet off, sucked in a few lungfuls of air then instinctively lurched onto her hands and knees as she threw up a splash of watery fuschia liquid.

"Waste of a d-damn good FroO-" Abigail retched and threw up again. She groaned. "I've got the Dizzies."

“Same can’t be said about your MAS. It’s fucked. Come on- come back to the Krakono. It’s systems are still working I just can’t move it. We can see about finding the location of the escape pod there and… recover while we do so. Grab your personals. We might have to blow it.”

"Kolibri's not fucked, she's just resting. I didn't even reach critical. But she's delicate and prissy - same sort of temperament you'd get out of Aleks when you use up all his good shampoo." Abigail wiped her mouth and sat up. Her whole body was swaying. "I switched it all off so we can get the Full Echo up and running, your MAS doesn't even have smart targeting. Alright give me room."

Jakunta stepped back, standing by the ajar cockpit to observe with a faint grin on his face. It was an increasingly common sight; Abigail planted her hands on the floor, shut her eyes and steadied her breathing. Then she stood up sharply and began gathering her combat gear. The problem was that her balance, after prolonged aerial manoeuvres in space and a rushed re-entry, was utterly disrupted for the time being. Yet she carried herself with a chaotic grace like a young sailor on a storm-tossed ship, with the practice and haggard ease of someone who’s clearly trained, and trained, and trained to handle herself in these states. She staggered from one end to the other, her movements deliberate, controlled, unstable, erratic all at once. Once she had her combat gear she tugged her helmet loosely over her head, pulled her elbows in and flung herself out of the cockpit. Jakunta watched her bounce off the Kolibri's chassis and land in the dirt then followed her down.

Offering an elbow for the young woman to hold onto, the two pilots made their way back to the Krakono. It took Abigail a moment to get to the hatch. Once inside, Jakunta sealed the entry and Abigail pulled her helmet off, burped then gingerly lowered herself onto the floor so she was lying on her back.

“No signal from the escape pod. Is good and bad.” he murmured. “We need to wait for the others to land, hopefully they aren’t getting minced up there.” he let out a deep breath. “In the meantime, see if we can figure out her trajectory from the debris. At least give us a direction to turn to once the others arrive.”

"Would a pod have any debris?" Abigail asked. "It's risky - all the space crap from that fight is also getting sucked into orbit. I'm willing to bet we'll start seeing burning chunks of MASes, cruisers and Horizon Point soon."

“If she emits some kind of signal we can more accurately find her- so can the enemy though.”

"Krakono's on its emergency lights and I'm letting Kolibri cool off," Abigail retorted. She rolled her head to look at Jakunta and clearly regretted doing so. "Sorry if I sound like a negative Nancy here - but she's also a fully trained pilot and we're in the middle of nowhere. As much as I want to find her, I feel we're not going to be able to do much except make it harder for the Roanoke to find us."

"And besides." Abigail gingerly turned to look back up at the ceiling. "If she's dead and we stay here, our orders were to drop and we followed procedure by providing as much information as we could and remaining where we landed so the Full Echo could be used and the Roanoke could locate us. If she's dead and we chase her...then we weren't fast enough, right?"

“You talk a fuck ton for a someone that should be shutting up and making sure she doesn’t vomit.” Jakunta interrupted.

"If I couldn't do my job whilst under the effects of violent vertigo I wouldn't be here," Abigail forced a grin. "My job is to annoy pilots." She went quiet for a bit. "I do feel like crap though."

“Let me say correctly: You’re talking too much.” he nodded, getting to work on assisting the Krakono with temporary shutdown.

"Does this mean I can sleep off the Dizzies?" She lifted her head and regretted it more. "Military mandated naptime?"

“Yes. I’m going to shut MAS down. So enemies don’t catch any machinery.”

"Since you don't have double vision and can aim a gun I think you should be on the lookout for now." With great delicacy, Abigail lifted herself and grabbed Jakunta's jacket from the back of his chair. She bundled it up into a pillow as she lay back down, shutting her eyes and taking a deep breath. "Wake me up when you spot the princess," she murmured.

Jakunta didn’t respond. He climbed up the hatch again, gun in hand to keep a physical lookout. As he stood watch he cycled through the various radio channels but only heard static. He leant back a little and looked down at Abigail. The pilot was fast asleep already - if not, she was lying as still as possible with her mouth open as she tried to recover what little balance she could before anything developed.

He sighed and went back to his ‘post’, gazing out across the gargantuan, heavy branches. The crystalline lake glimmered in the distance and the breeze rolling across its surface tousled his hair.
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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by vietmyke
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Chaos was the only apt description of the situation at hand. Explosions and munitions rocked across the battlespace as the Roanoke traded fire with the enemy ships on either side of the field. Lasercannon fire from one of the 7th’s ship killers had critically wounded a frigate, and the other two ships were breaking off their attack, not willing to risk their own destruction for the single target that was the Roanoke. Likewise, most- if not all of the assaulting squadron of Coalition MAS had been wiped off the battlespace, the two that remained begrudgingly retreated back towards their flagging ships. While the Roanoke continued firing at the fleeing ships, it made no effort to chase them, instead its hangar doors began opening again.

Not content to just let them go, another Coalition ship and its escorts had peeled off to begin harrying the carrier, it's already deployed squadrons of MAS, rerouting from their current dogfights to hone in on the Roanoke and its MAS squadron.

“Keep on my ass rookie, we’re leaving.” Ingram remarked as the Sparrowhawk boosted off, back towards the Roanoke, the Peregrine easily keeping up with its breakneck pace. Already Ingram was on the comms with the rest of the squadron, his icon popping up in the corner of everyone’s vision.

“This is as clear as we’re going to get, RTB now- before that new squadron engages with us.” his voice crackled, the Sparrowhawk must’ve taken some stray hit or debris to its communication’s array, but it was still clear enough.

“RTB and rearm, we’re going after Pips and Grizz.”

The Sparrowhawk rocketed towards the open hangar doors of the Roanoke, lines displaying on his HUD to help guide his fast moving mech into its proper spot. Engineers scattered as the heavy mechs of the 7th Squadron entered the simulated gravity environment of the Roanoke’s hangar. There was a heavy boom as the Sparrowhawk touched down in the hangar, followed by another boom from the Peregrine. Ingram quickly cleared the landing and walked his mech over to its bay as the rest of the squadron began touching down behind him.

Without even waiting for the mechs to begin powering down, the technical crews of the Roanoke began servicing the returning MAS with practiced precision: Refilling ammo bays and replacing spent magazines, spot fixes to damaged armor plates, reattaching refueling/power lines, and the like. The Roanoke had already began its run towards the planet, the hangar doors closing above them as the view of the planet filled the bay doors.

The Sparrowhawk’s engines spinned down to idle as Ingram pulled off his helmet and popped the cockpit open. Pulling himself out of the cockpit, he got a lungful of ‘fresh’ air- at least air that wasn’t the recycled air of his life support system. A bottle flew into the air from one of the Sparrowhawk’s technicians and into Ingram’s outstretched hand.

“Squad, situation update:” he called across the hangar between sips of water, his helmet still picking up the audio and displaying it across the squadron. “We have VIP designation: ‘Sunray’ on the surface of Cerol.” Implications were clear, Sunray was the designation given to one of the Royal family- an immediate descendant of the Emperor himself. Ingram had no idea what she was doing so close to the front lines, or where her bodyguard escorts were, but ultimately those were questions they’d have to get answers to later- preferably when they weren’t in the middle of combat.

“Thanks to Pips and Grizzly, we have a rough location of where they landed. Our new orders are to deploy to the planet surface, find our recovery team, and walk them back to the Roanoke.”

“Cerol is mostly uninhabited save for major habitats underneath its space elevator- which is now inoperable due to the status of Horizon Point. Flora and Fauna are large and occasionally hostile, so keep your wits about you.”

He poured half the bottle down his throat, wiping his face and tossing the bottle back down to his crew below. An alert pinged on his holopad and he took a quick glance at it before grimacing.

“Coalition forces are already landing on the planet surface, so we can expect contact. No time for a protracted firefight, drop them and keep moving. Good news, they’re all over the place- they don’t know where Sunray is. Bad news, they’re all over the place.

“Deadeye, you’re better in the jungle than I am- you’ve got tactical lead, we’ll follow. No questions? Take five, get some water, then back in your mechs.”




Giant trees rumbled and swayed like tall grasses in the breeze as the Roanoke broke the treeline, retro thrusters blasting the surface of a sapphire blue lake beneath them. While capable of entering and exiting an atmosphere, starships like the Roanoke weren’t exactly designed to land on planet surfaces for long periods of time- and given the wide stretching jungles of Cerol, there wasn’t much in the realm of clear space for it to land.

They were lucky they were even able to find this lake- as it was, the lake put them approximately 80 klicks from Grizzly and Pip’s estimated position. The Roanoke was a big ship, and hard to miss, but with any luck, their presence would be partially masked by the rest of the debris falling from orbit. Either way, they wouldn’t be in the clear for too much longer.

Deploying from the Roanoke and stomping ankle deep into the foliage and stream, Ingram took a glance at the jungle around him and was thankful that modern day MAS had creature comforts such as air conditioning, or the heat and humidity would grow unbearable rather quickly. The Sparrowhawk’s armored hand waved Aleks’ Yeoman forward, before motioning the rest of the squadron to fall in.

Opening an encrypted long range channel, Ingram risked a call to their recovery team. “Pips, Grizz- Boss here, moving on your last known position. Status? Pips? Grizz? Either of you reading this?” There was a short burst of static, then nothing. Their communications might’ve been disrupted by the landing- or they were dead. Hopefully the latter wasn’t the case.

As Ingram set about contacting the Savonian duo, Aleks stepped up to the others and flipped on the local channel in the Yeoman-2.

"Alright, I want DJ and Alcantara on my flanks, a forty metres out either way and a hundred metres to my rear. Eyes, Apples, trail behind at sixty metres, twenty metres spacing between you. Boss as rear guard another forty behind you two. Flight engines and boosters are to remain spooled down, limit your thermal exhaust as much as possible - the jungle is warm but we are warmer, do not give the Coalition early warning if they haven't picked us up already."

The Yeoman held its fist up with a whir, then pointed out in the direction of travel.

"Our comrades are that way. We are going to meet them. We will move fast, at the jogging pace of the Heavy MAS. We keep our eyes open for hazards, especially Coalition and especially local megafauna." The iron arm of the mech clenched its fist again. "Big forest means big animal, but they will most likely avoid us if they can. Alcantara, if we need recon, you will be the most likely to fly up for it. Remember to ping threats on the tactical net, remember to keep your focus, and remember the mission."

Aleks hefted the rifle, and got on the march.

"Follow on my signal. No idle chatter. As always, Sunray has Prio. Deadeye out."






It must’ve felt like hours, as Jakunta maintained a watch over the giant branches of the gargantuan jungle around them. The heavy jungle was hot and humid, but seemingly untouched by war. Birds and animals called throughout the jungle floor, but otherwise nothing. A peaceful breeze billowed lightly past the two pilots, as an oversized bird, bright feathers almost a foot long each landed on the Krakono and regarded Jakunta and Abi with curious eyes.

In the distance there was a quiet, almost muffled boom and the bird gave an almost accusatory squawk and flapped away, a pair of large red feathers all it left in its place as it flew off. In the distance, hidden by the massive flora the booming slowly grew in volume, becoming much clearer as it grew closer: explosions- munitions, and MAS sized weapons fire. The radio blared to life as it picked up short range communications on the unencrypted open channel- a close range radio channel usually saved for banter between Coalition and UEE pilots.

“This -kssh- -ray, requ-ksssh- -ssistance” a voice crackled over the radio, garbled explosions in the background cut in and out. “I repeat -ksssh- Sunray, -kssssh- pursued -kssh- Coalition forces”

The rumbling grew closer, and through the thick cover of the jungle trees, Jakunta could make out a figure crashing through the trees- a 40 foot tall metal chassis of a rather rare Coalition design, red and black with what appeared to be the pelt and skull of a large creature attached to its shoulder. Following it, some distance behind another trio of standard Fenrir IIs. The foremost unit didn’t appear to be leading the others, rather it appeared to be being chased- as it would occasionally turn and fire at the chasing Fenrirs. Almost as if to answer their questions, the radio blared to life again.

“-ksssh- Sunray, I’ve got 3 -ksssh- Fenrirs on my tail.”
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