The Wolfpack suffers a terrible blow when a bombing raid meets stiff resistance and a vicious storm.
Location: Isabel Island
Related Scenes: None
Plot: Operation: Jungle Fever
Scene Number: 726
After a last-minute intel update, Kallas makes his way out to the gathered birds. Nine ships in all - six fighters, three Raptors. Two Canceron pilots - Tiger and Astra - fill out the Wolfpack roster today in Jaguars. "All right, we've got a bad storm rolling in, but the brass thinks we ought to have enough time to make it there and back before it hits. Let's saddle up."
"The 'there' in this case is what satellite and scouting intel reports is a Cylon supply dump and staging area deep across the front (maybe 1/3rd of the way to Honnal). AA emplacements are expected. The staging area doesn't have an airfield, but expect fighters to be scrambled. The mission: blow the heck out of it. Raptors have been equipped with bombs and air-to-ground missiles instead of AA today.
Eva, thankfully, seems to have escaped the second round of Spiro fever to find its way to basecamp, having been flying elsewhere when the rescued civilians and military personnel came in. To that end, she almost looks fresh, which is saying something in this oppressive heat, as she sits in her viper, the canopy open. She's turned in Kallas' direction, as she gets the warning that he's approaching from the ground crew, having looked up from where she's reattaching her little foreign legion flag back to her console. This darned heat is melting even the most resilient glue.
Blowing things up is Finn's speciality. Usually those things are Cylons, not satellites. Sometimes they are potatoes in a microwave. Everyone needs a hobby. He is currently situated in his viper, cockpit open, but other than that he looks geared up and ready to go. He looks to be managing the heat well enough. A lifetime of toiling on farms likely lead to that end result. Sort of. He's a damp, sweaty mess, he just doesn't whine about it. "Yes sir, already buckled in, waiting for your mark."
Flight suits are great insulators... which means they're terribly uncomfortable in this sort of heat. Niemec has finished the pre-flight plan checklist with her ECO who is already waiting inside their assigned Raptor. Getting it fired up while she gets the breakdown of their mission parameters. There's a salute for Kallas before she swings up onto the wing proper. "Aye, sir." And then into the bird and doing the final check over before getting the engines warmed up for takeoff.
The flight takes off, and soon the landing field is left behind in favor of the vast expanse of jungle west of the base. "Would be a pretty place if it weren't for all the Toasters. And the bugs. And the snakes. And the rain..." Kallas muses as they fly, keeping his eyes sharp for trouble. Dark clouds threaten in the distance, coming in from the ocean, but it's still clear for now - if a bit dimmer than the afternoon might normally see.
"And the heat..." Finn chimes in. Okay, so may be he whines a little. It's hot though. As soon as he takes off, he moves into a loose formation with the other vipers. "Anyone here ever flown through a storm like that?" Most of his flying has been in space.
"Don't know exactly how bad that storm is going to get, but have some weather on Virgon that's not so disimilar. Might be worth it just to cool off, though." Provided it doesn't short out the viper. "I mean, of course we would never consider such a thing, Major." Eva locks in her canopy, before she moves to lift off from her space on the tarmac.
"I don't mind the snakes or the rain," Niemec chimes in with her own thoughts. "It's the bugs. You think they count it as part of our protein in the mess?" Because surely they've all had at least one unfortunate run-in with a bug that got accidentally swallowed. It's not just her... right? For Finn's question, there's a: "A few. Probably harder on your Vipers than on a Raptor though."
"Well hopefully it'll hold off till we're back on the ground, then we can dance in it," Kallas says with a chuckle. The levity is interrupted when one of the ECOs picks up contacts on DRADIS. "Got six incoming," Kallas relays. "We're gonna have to take them out before we can head on in to the target."
"Major, I knew there was a reason we kept you around." Eva's words cut short, as the call comes, and she actually turns her attention to, you know, doing her job. She accelerates, taking aim at the first cylon that seems to be getting close.
"Multiple contacts." This, from Niemec's ECO about the same time Kallas reports it to the wing as a whole. "Copy," the Captain offers into comms before adjusting trajectory. "Weapons hot." This, as she starts lining up missiles. Just the one to start, likely, since they have some bigger targets to take out later. Then she'll be angling to get the rear KEW lined up.
"Frak me. Smackdown, sing out!" Oh no they didn't. They did not attack Kallas on her watch. Eva, seeing the Major take a serious hit, leaves off the cyper she was dancing with and zeroes in on the offending raider. "Now you've made me angry."
The two groups of planes come together and then break apart again as they all try to out-maneuver each other. Kallas' Viper takes a bad hit, leaving a hole in the front end of the ship and peppering the cockpit with shrapnel. "Frak me," he grunts out. Alive at least. "Holding together - barely."
Tiger also gets hit bad, but reports that he's hanging in there too. Link reports, "Frak, my KEW's not responding. Somebody get that bastard (Cyper2) off our tail."
"Farmboy moving in, engaging tincans, sir!" And so Farm Boy rockets off towards the cylons, rolling left and hitting the thrusters before he unleashes a volley of KEW fire at the Raider impacting the nose and cockpit. The Raider goes down in fiery flames. And then he sees Kallas take a heavy hit. His viper barrel rolls and loops around to engage the Raider firing on Kallas, "Smackdown, engaging rustbucket on your six. Bank left to improve my angle."
And the missiles get put back on standby, as it were. Niemec is in the thick of things and trying to get a bead on the Cyper on Link's tail. "Link, Squeak. I'm coming in. Break away, I'll try to cut them off." She's got her ECO working hard today. But that hit on Kallas... "Smackdown, if you need to fall back, just say the word."
"I'm alright!" Eva jerks back in the cockpit, the impact of the kew fire hitting her viper like a ton of bricks. But she's still flying, unlike poor Digger, who may or may not have survived that hit. She only caught it out of the corner of her eye. But if she's still flying, she's going to try to take out as many as she can while she still can.
Figuring that his initial prey was out of action after that hit (little does he know Smackdown's stubbornness), Raider1 peels off and sets his sights on one of the bombers. Another hit to the cockpit, this one enough to send the Raptor into a nose-dive towards the deck. "Digger's hit," calls his ECO, Whamo, frantically over the radio. "We're going down." He tries to get to the front to take over the controls (perils of being on the KEW gun way in back) but can't pull it up fast enough. The ship goes down hard into the thick jungle.
"I'm good for now," Kallas reports. So good that he manages to help take out one of the Cypers.
Link peels off as requested, "Thanks guys. Tail's clear." Ooops, spoke too soon - Raider1 is gunning for him next.
"Frak me," the comm is still open, oops. But that comes when Digger's bird starts to go down. Niemec cuts it off, at least, when she calls back to her ECO to mark the position. They'll have to call an evac out, surely, but for now they're too busy. Everyone knows these are the risks. "Smackdown, I'm not too happy with the look of your bird." There's strain in her voice, but that might just be from trying to help Link shake his tail.
"Frak, this tincan is stubbron as all get out..." Finn grolws out through his comm. "Moving around to make another pass, let's triangulate in on attack vectors..." And with that he veers off to the right and moves in on Raider1. "Smackdown, you should pull back and overwatch for a bit, you take another hit and I dunno if you'll stay skyworthy."
Eva says, "And I don't want to break in another Major."
"Frak!" hisses Kallas as another of his birds takes an incapacitating hit. Link sings out that they're going down. And while Digger went in pretty hard, Link at least manages to do inelegant circles in a slow(ish) descent toward the ground. Probably still alive, but there are no further transmissions right away.
"I don't like the look of that big-ass hole in my ship either, but we need to wax these guys. Stay on 'em. Watch out for each other." Kallas does that by sticking on the one who's on Eva's tail. "Cherry - you okay?"
Whatever sound Eva probably made, as her viper takes yet another hit right to the cockpit, is thankfully masked by the fact that she has her comms cut. But it's hard to miss the smoke. So, what does she do to compensate? Fly faster of course, maneuvering to try to use the wind to blow the smoke away and give her a clear shot. Once she's actually addressed, she reopens the mic, "I'm still flying."
Another Raptor down and Niemec is swearing. Her ECO already knows to mark the last place Link was spotted before going out of range. She notes Eva's hit as well, breathing a sigh of relief when the woman sings out that she's still up and flying. "We may not even make it to the target," she mutters... off-comm, thankfully.
"Roger that, Smackdown." Finn replies over comms, "Stickin to this Raider. We'll bring him down." Hopefully. The tincan bastard appears to be immune to going down. And he's taken out several ships already.
Everyone ganging up on Raider1 seems to have had an impact. The ship takes several hits, and it's enough to frak up its aim and send its last missile zooming wide of poor Scooter. "Holy frak that was close," Scooter exclaims. And yet, miraculously, the Raider is still flying - and still in Scooter's tail. "I can't shake him!"
Nope, nope, nope. Eva is not turning tail and running, even if she does take yet another hit to her ship. But it is starting to make it a little slice of hell trying to fly and shoot with this much damage, and she pulls back just a bit on her aggressiveness. But she isn't giving up on her target.
Since she seems to have managed to evade much attention from the toasters, Niemec ups her hassling of Raider1 a bit. Maybe a lot. It takes some hinky flying to keep it in range of the rear-firing KEW, but she manages it. Then a report comes in that has her swearing a bit into the comms before announcing: "Flight, we've got incoming on DRADIS. Six more in..." The equivalent of three turns.
"Just keep flying Cherry. Breaking off this Raider and moving on the rustbucket on your six." Farmboy says over the comm as he rolls back and away from the chase of the Raider and instead, flies head long at the Cyper. And then the chatter comes in about more incoming, "Only six more? How about a challenge."
If she had a dollar for every time she's been hit so far, Eva would be a...well, a richer woman than she was before she took off, that's for sure. But at least that raider is down. "Just a few more and we'll have some time to breathe." Okay, that's a lie, but it's all about the morale boosting, right? Right?
In what has got to be the electrical equivalent of the straw that broke the camel's back, Tiger's Jaguar is hit in the nose and it overloads the system. The ship spirals down out of the sky, and the jungle claims another victim.
On the up side - that Cylon angel of death finally succombs to cannon fire from Niemec's ECO and Eva, and another Cyper goes down too. "Good shooting guys," Kallas calls. "Six more? Frak. We're too shot to shit to handle them, let alone our objective. See if we can take out these last two quick and then we'll head out before those other ones arrive. SAR will come back to see if there are any survivors."
"Scooter and I can take rear guard on retreat, Smackdown, we're both clean." Finn sounds off as he rounds about on the Cyper again until he sees that another Raider is out there and he instead changes to move on it, "Engaging Raider."
"I've still got three in my racks," missiles. "Just point me where you need me." But regarding those last two, Niemec does come around to target the one that's been hassling Eva. "Smackdown, I want to volunteer for that SAR."
"Copy that, Squeak," Kallas says. He tries to get on the Cyper's tail, but his controls are fighting him and his shots go wide. The Cyper takes a hit from Eva but it's still flying. "Frak. That other flight is closing in. Disengage before we have another six pouncing us. Farmboy, Scooter, thanks for volunteering to bring up the rear."
"Wait, I didn't..." Squeak half-protests, but he's falling in anyway.
Usually, Eva tries to do what she's told, but she's far too angry, ans shot up to care, and she tries to get in one last hit before she turns tail. Which could be the end of her, but hey, that's what she signed up for!
As the others start to break away, Niemec provides a sort of buffer. The damaged, then her, then Scooter and Finn as the rear guard. It allows her ECO to take another shot while she tracks -- or tries to track -- where Link and Digger went down.
Rear guard Finn, moves to engage the remaining Raider, while the others bug out, "Come on Scooter, you'll be fine." Right. Everyone has faired very well out here. Seeing Eva, he grumbles, "Cherry, break and bug out. We've got this. If the rest show up, we're toast."
The last Raider goes up in a fireball and his Cyper buddy breaks off from the Colonials - heading back to rejoin the incoming wave. Which, unless the Colonials stop for tea, won't be able to catch them and quickly give up pursuit.
"We're going to have a talk." That's all Eva has to say, but she does manage to get a last hit in, before she does as Kallas, and now Finn as well, have ordered her to do. Of course Finn can't really order her, but, well, as her usual wingman, he sort of can. "I'm going." But she's not happy about it. "And as soon as I strap some tape on the places I'm leaking, I'm heading back out for SAR overwatch." Yeah! You're not the boss of her! Well, okay, one of you is.
The raider scores a hit on Finn's viper, scoring the nose and causing a bit of smoke to slew forth. Finn returns the favor, several times over, his KEW blasts tearing through the hull. Finn watches it go down in flames and the Cyper bug out, "Roger that Cherry." Even Farmboy isn't actually dumb enough to wait around for six Raiders...Sort of. He might have if he wasn't directly ordered not to. He flips around and waits on Scooter, "Let's move it Scooter. If the rest of them show up, I'm gonna be annoyed."
"Much as I'd like to have you watching my ass on overwatch," Squeak intones in answer to Eva, "I'd rather you do it in a bird that won't crumble under a stiff wind." There's still that storm to worry about. Her own Raptor free and clear of even shrapnel scratches, it's quite likely Niemec will refuel, swap out for medical gear, and head back out.
Speaking of stiff winds... the Colonial ships might not be being chased by the Cylons any more, but that storm is rolling in faster than expected. Pretty soon they're being buffeted by strong winds, and the sky is getting darker. Lightning is visible near the shore. "I don't think we're going to make it back to the barn before that storm hits. Everybody buckle up - we're going to be in for a rough ride."
Kallas says that.
"I can get them to tape this thing up too. It'll be right as rain, Squeak." And speaking of which, as the storm closes in, "I am so tempted to just pop this canopy and bask in the rain." And probably get struck by lightning, given Eva's luck today.
"Copy." Not that Niemec really needs a warning for the storm. She can see it through that big, broad windscreen on the Raptor. "Keep that canopy closed, Cherry." It might be given in a light-hearted tone, but there's a thread of concern in the pilot's voice. She angles her Raptor in a bit tighter. Not that she could do much if any of them do go down.
They fly on. Because really, it's not like they're just gonna land in the middle of the jungle and chill. At least they're in "friendly" territory when the driving rain starts, and the winds kick up even harder. Visibility is down to near-zero, and they're relying on their instruments just to avoid crashing into each other. "Godsdamn, I've never seen a storm like this," Kallas says over the comm. His Viper is flying erratically, but he manages to hold it in the air.
"I have," Niemec admits and her handling of the Raptor shows it. Sure, she's fighting those headwinds, but the woman makes it almost look easy. Almost. "But still ain't fun. Hope Link and Digger got some cover." If they're alive and breathing.
You know, these holes in Eva's canopy actually help with the rain, even if they do a number on her instruments. She can actually see, in spits and spots, through the holes and through the rain. "I'm really hoping we manage to get ahead of this thing. Not sure how much of a soaking these things can take. They're already under enough strain from the environment."
Apparently Finn flew crop dusters in tornados or something, because he flies through this storm as well as anyone could be expected to. "I dunno, this isn't so bad really..." Farmboy chimes in over the comm.
"Guess we'll find out. Call it field testing," Kallas muses. The storm dogs them all the way home, making for an interesting - if strained - flight. But eventually they pick up the beacon for Edson air base and make arrangements to land. "Everyone be careful heading in," Kallas says.
Eva doesn't quite land gracefully, but she manages not to crumple the landing gear completely, as she maneuvers the thrusters to allow her to put back down. Not on her spot, but really, given her condition, any spot will do. And so she does, before she actually does pop the top, climb out, and do a twirl in the rain. Thankfully, she doesn't look terribly banged up.
It's a careful angle in and landing on the tarmac. Even close to where she ought to land. Niemec does the mean-Captain thing and leaves the post-flight checklist to her ECO. All the better to cut off a knuckledragger and tell them to start kitting the bird out for a SAR. The pilot herself? Moving rapidly towards Eva and reaching out to either stall or join the Viper jock in her twirling... even if Squeak's end of it is doing a visual check to make sure Cherry didn't take any damage herself.
Kallas circles the airfield while the other pilots land, making sure all of his people (and the one borrowed pilot, Astra) make it down safely before he comes in for his own landing. He's an awesome pilot, but even the most awesome pilot can't do much when their controls - damaged by the Cylon missile and then further frakked by the rain - decide to go haywire in the midst of landing. There's a brief, "Frak me," over the comms as the CAG's Viper does a nosedive into the tarmac instead of a controlled landing, and then silence. The plane bursts into flames immediately. Deck crew rush over with firefighting gear as the rain and high winds pound the airfield.
Having been the rear guard, Finn was the lat to land before Kallas was coming in. His landing went off well enough and his cockpit was just opening up as the CAG vipers does a nose dive and there's no one fast enough to be useful there. Still, Farmboy is up and out of his cockpit as quick as he can, sprinting towards the tarmac, and the wreckage that was Kallas, "SMACKDOWN!!!" he yells, "Get the medics!" he calls out as he continues to run.
Eva was just in mid-twirl, with only a graze on her arm to show for all the damage that was taken by her plane. She comes to a halt, as Niemec pops over, and she's just about to call out to the woman, when she hears the explosion not far off from her, and she doesn't even stop to gather herself, she just dashes off, leaving every thought except to get some firefighting gear, if she can grab some and get to the Major.
Seeing Eva whole and not in immediate need of aid, Niemec relaxes. Barely. Just enough that when Kallas' Viper does not land and instead crashes... she probably pulls a muscle or tendon or two in tensing right back up. She takes off towards the fire. Others will have the fire-fighting gear. She's still in her flight-suit, with helmet in hand. It provides some protection. Yes, she does intend to rush in and help. That's their CAG, after all.
The rescue crews work as fast as humanly possible. They're trained for this, even if it's the first time most of them have had to use that training. But in the time it takes them to get across the tarmac and knock the fire down enough to extricate Kallas from the wreckage, the flames have taken their toll. The medics hustle over from the clinic in an ambulance, ready to take Kallas as he's pulled out, his charred flight suit still smoking. He is badly, badly burned, and the medics' grim faces don't say much for his chances. Nevertheless they say, "He's in good hands," to those nearby as they whisk the CAG off to the clinic.