Atalyah MäkinenLieutenant Commander - PTX-098 SOC 'Aegis'
Blue lines of text streamed through the pilot's helmet, but his eyes only darted between a select several sentences and phrases. He had ran through the routine more times than he cared to recall, so much that it become more habit than practice. Moving his glances in the practiced order, he found the same word four times: online; online; online; online. As he reached his two hands out, flexing his fingers around the controls on either side and pressing his feet to the pedals beneath him, his eyes fell on the final confirmation: standing by.
The green behemoth lurched forward as it's bracing lifting from it's sides and shoulders. Even compared to the other giant machinations in the hangar, the Aegis stood taller again, going as far as to test the height of the hangar's roof at it's lowest points. As the machine went, the Aegis exchanged glances with a familiar Gladiator on their way to the launch rail. That was all the two needed: between themselves, Atalyah and Brit confirmed the old routine with one another once again.
> Launch: OK!
. . .
No matter how many times Atalyah flew these patrol missions, he always felt uneasy. For years, contact with Coalition pilots rarely meant anything beyond outright hostilities, so seeing those familiar models across the way every other day felt something like sitting up to between your mouth and your nose in water: the feeling you're in danger, the need to swim, yet needing to stay and breathe through your nose instead. He shook his head at the thought - that was far too complicated a comparison.
Yet, on this run, the discomfort seemed all too justified: across the way sat an all-to-familiar red Fafnir, complete with helm and cape. For longer than he realized, Atalyah stared from within his cockpit. While underestimating even a rookie MAS pilot would at least lead to being shot from a blindside, it was hard to pay attention to them when the Bloody Valkyrie was standing besides them.
"Don't doubt it, Brit." Atalyah chimed in on the private communications, following up behind Ingram. He didn't add more than that: he was sure the others would understand. He glanced over to the Shrike for a moment, contemplating elaborating for the newest addition to the squadron, before ultimately dismissing it as he looked back. Surely an eager pilot would have read about any double-ace, he quietly concluded.
In his seat, Ingram slowly began to become more comfortable. With all the chatter going on, it seemed like it was just going to be another day in-
Everything exploded at once. While a great orange ball burst out of the Perseus, quickly sucked up and dissipated by the inhospitable terrain that is space, several notifications ambushed the view of the middle-aged pilot.
> WARNING: Severe damage to neutral unit PERSEUS. SOURCE: Internal; unknown.
> WARNING: Power spikes detected from NEUTRAL MAS at RELATIVE: (-27, -114, 214); (104, 387, -226);...
But above all, one stuck out in particular - one that he didn't quickly dismiss with a blink and swipe of his eyes, one that his glance lingered on for a fraction of a second longer than the rest:
> WARNING: Coalition weapon signatures detected at RELATIVE:...
Atalyah didn't stop to think - or rather, certainly not conscious thinking. A rush of adrenaline jump-started his instinctual response, trained and tuned throughout more sorties than he cared to recall: he grasped tightly at his controls, bringing his machine back and aside in preparation to take a position towards the front of the formation.
"Enemy weapons systems coming online, prepare for an assault!" he called over the squadron communications. It wasn't his job to command the battle - that was left to Ingram; yet, command and control were two separate and demanding tasks, and Atalyah had no intention to let the 12th become disorientated so early - especially while an enemy double-ace sat across the field. Atalyah continued to speak as he lifted a hand, pressing at a few switches to bring his weapons systems to life - ironically, entirely oblivious to what was going on in the bridge: "Hold your ground and don't fire first! Rookie, get on the far side of the formation from the red one and remember what I said! Irish - if Valkyrie comes at us, I'm going to need you with me holding him back!"
As the Aegis moved into position towards the front of the formation, it's two shields came firmly to it's front, stood firmly in front of the rest of the chassis. Taking it's AC-2 autocannon from it's back, the machine snapped the forward grip to be angled towards the left, allowing it to more easily poke it around the right hand shield. Within the cockpit, as whirring and slamming engulfed the focused Atalyah as the missiles were loaded into their pods, the two shields seemed to almost vanish from his view: cameras from the other side streaming footage to him, allowing him to watch the Coalition MAS move into their own formation.
Taking a deep breath in, Atalyah looked over the enemy machines - namely, the Red Valkyrie, keeping a fix on where it was heading. The hairs on the back of his neck stood in anticipation, adrenaline suppressing the shock of exactly what had happened - only so he could deal with it all at once later. With his map in the corner of his eye, he watched the positions of the rest of the squadron as he waited: waited for Ingram's voice, waiting for a direction to take the team in.
Atalyah's attention returned to the enemy double-ace. No matter how he spun it to himself, even with all his years and kills beneath his belt, the idea of confronting the Valkyrie made his stomach churn. Tigres is much faster than he is, and he's acting purely reactively at this stage. Even with Irish helping him, holding him off is a tall order. Hopefully it won't come to blows, but he said the same thing about the peace talks going well in the first place.
Atalyah pressed out a breath as he pushed the thoughts from his mind. If Tigres came, he would deal with it then - and he had a few tricks of his own up his sleeve.
> WEAPONS: Online.