Two of the Starstrike's three optics stared back at the Bedwyr as it took position on the second catapult, tiny movements and adjustments making the smaller Orbital seem alive in an otherworldly way. It's limbs made small rolling adjustments, the legs seeking better stability on the catapult while the arms maintained balance in the artificial gravity. As the Bedwyr nodded, the Starstrike turned it's head to better view it's launch companion and returned the gesture before returning it's attention to the launch port. <<Shall we, then?>> Adam's response was swift. <<Race you there>>
<<This is Stojanovic. I'm headed out.>>
<<This is Adam Gilford, Ready to launch.>>
As the mag-clamps engaged and the pair of catapults began accelerating, the Starstrike's thrusters warmed up in preparation for it's first powered flight in fifteen years. Adam was pressed against the back of his pilot seat, but he was used to the acceleration. As his Orbital cleared the launch platform, it's thrusters pulsed, and the machine dropped from the launch trajectory. Adam pushed his Starstrike into an extended hard burn, rocketing towards the alien planet and away from the Pyxis.
<<Initiating descent. See you all planetside.>>
Adam white-knuckled his controls as he pushed the throttle higher, his Orbital virtually glowing with EM radiation as it poured power into it's propulsion. Despite everything going on, the loudest sound in his ears was his own labored breathing as the physics of acceleration pressed upon him. in the eerie silence of space, his body straining against hard acceleration, Adam's eyes wandered over the image of Kitezh on his viewscreen illuminated by an alien star. He struggled to focus on any single point, focusing on maintaining control and awareness through his flight. With a small chime, a speed threshold was met and propulsion cut out, the Starstrike drifting along it's course. With the lack of acceleration, Adam heaved a sigh of relief and set his Orbital to spin into correct orientation. So far away from his allies they barely registered on his optics, and the distance between them was quickly growing.
<<Castle Two-One to all units. Forming drop convoy right behind the Aurora. Ground units, fall in line behind me.>>
<<Moving to flight team advance position. Think they'll let my feet touch the ground at all?>>
Nav Data loaded, Trajectory Display enabled.
Adam angled his Orbital to fly along the newly displayed trajectory, his higher speed resulting in a more shallow projected curve.
"Passive Sensors. Prep for reentry braking." His voice shook as unpleasant memories invaded his mind. His Orbital's generic pilot-assist voice chimed helpfully in a synthesized response. "Switched to Passive Sensors. Limb orientation to reentry burn aligned." There was an unsettling pause and text scrolled across the maintenance screen by his right hand.
WARNING: planetary gravity/distance mismatch detected. Calibration error in flight instrumentation likely.
Adam was confused enough to re-focus entirely on this new problem, forgetting his fear for the time being. It doesn't recognize the planet, so it can't calibrate for an unknown, huh? Adam rolled his orbital to face Kitezh and started improvising. "Set name for waypoint, LZ-1 Planet Kitezh. You just had your eyes checked, you're just seeing something new. all of us are." He saw text scroll across the screen again
Logging planet: Kitezh. Data found: Probe_Scan_Data
Gravity Calculation Estimate: Earthlike
Atmospheric Conditions Estimate: Earthlike
Flightplan unmodified: attempt braking in higher atmosphere. Maintain altitude for Scout/Interceptor operations.
The Starstrike pulled it's primary weapon off it's magdock on it's back and prepared for the heat of reentry by pressing it's lower legs together into a low-end thermal shield, knees bent for maximized coverage. The silence of space faded away and was replaced with the sound of a thin atmosphere protesting against the Starstrike's intrusion.
<<This is Adam Gilford, I'm hitting the upper atmosphere. I'll relay once I'm through reentry how the marshmallows I stuck on the antenna turned out. Over and out>>