A wing from //Vanguard// comes across an 'adrift' ship, //Athena's Grace//.
Location: Acheron Belt
Related Scenes: None
Plot: Operation: Cat and Mouse
Scene Number: 794
Patrols have been pretty boring in the space outside of Picon. Okay, by boring, there has been more than one attack to deal with - and after the destruction of the Oreti, the Picon Navy has asked the Colonial Fleet to help with patrols in the asteroid fields in the area of the Acheron Belt.
It's been a mostly uneventful CAP mission so far until there's a staticky call for assistance.
"This is.. freighter.. Athena's Grace.. we have ..ost power and adrift in the ..coordinates follow."
The ship is apparently lost near the edge of the belt and if it drifts too far will surely collide with several of the larger asteroids.
"Vanguard Actual, confirm receipt of transmission from freighter Athena's Grace. Permission to provide assistance?" A beat, "Flight, Cherry, can I get a confirmation, on that signal from my ECOs?" Making sure it's an authentic colonial transmission and all. "I think it's too much to ask that we can confirm a flight plan." No such thing as a air traffic control tower out here.
Calliope has not been bored by Picon. She's not going to complain about the odd uneventful CAP so close to one of the hardest-hit planets in this war. She wasn't expecting it to last, though. As the transmission comes in, her ECO gets on the DRADIS and she checks her formation with the other ships. And her weapons. Because, war zone and all.
"If that's genuine," Hallie remarks, "I really hope we can get it moving on its own. I don't know about you, but I don't want to have to get out and push." Still, despite the quip, she's already double-checking her own systems. It might just be a straightforward rescue, but better safe than sorry.
Katja is cruising along in formation, glancing out towards the asteroids for a moment when the call comes in. She squints. She sits tight as the preliminary confirmations are getting started, staying radio silent for now. Flying cool and collected. One of the new pilots around here, she's mostly been flying under the radar. Lost of boring CAPs for her...graveyard duty.
Gwyndolen was not bored by patrol. That's possibly because she appears to have set herself the challenge of flying patrol using only one hand, but at the distress call she clears her throat, straightens up to pilot properly, checking her systems.
"...Flight, Nova-" A brief second before Masters continues. "Th' codes're older, but they check out." She leaves it there for Cherry to decide how to continue.
"Flight, Soundbite," Calliope says, as her Raptor systems go through the comms from the freighter. "Mince..." Her ECO. "...concurs with Nova and Pitbull's reads. Looks genuine. Ready to go on your mark."
When the comms squawk out the SOS from a supposed stricken freighter, Kell can't help but shift his gaze from outside of the canopy to his radio. It isn't surprising that Razor remains silent, waiting for the confirmation to come through and what their next orders will be. Which is most likely a rescue of some sort.
"Flight, Flats. My ECO reports..." Tucker pauses, as if hearing something before he turns his attention to the radio again. "...that the ship's registry for Athena's Grace was stricken from the records at the start of the war as a ship lost in the initial attacks on the colonies. Advise caution." But that's one to two.
"Flight, Vanguard Actual. Ship shows on scanners as freighter class. Flyby is authorized." the ship reports.
"Flight, Cherry, copy your readings, ECOs. Vanguard Actual, launch the alert vipers. We are moving to engage." The alert squad will have to take over the CAP, "Flight, we have our orders. At this time, flyby only. You are weapons free. I don't think I need to remind some of you of what happened the last time we trusted a freighter, and it destroyed half of the Galactica's hangar deck and most of the deck crew."
"Cherry, Deathwish. Copy that. Adjusting course for flyby," Katja says over comms as she shifts with the rest of the formation. She keeps her eyes open and alert. "Let's see what's up."
Calliope frowns, exchanging a look backwards with Mince at Tucker's comm. But she presses on. "Flight, Soundbite. Acknowledged. Talons are warming. We'll be ready to initiate aid to friendlies or...whatever else is appropriate." The course of her Raptor matches Cherry's Viper, shadowing the Captain as they embark on this course of aid to maybe-friends.
"Cherry, Knick-Knack," Gwyndolen reports, her voice crisp and business-like. "Copy that. Setting course for flyby, will keep all eyes open." Her Viper swerves into her adjusted course.
Once Captain Thorne lays out the play, Kell answers with a short reply, "Cherry, Razor, I copy." That said, he moves into formation with the rest of the flight that is now moving to intercept the freighter. The bit about the ship being stricken from records is worrisome. Razor feels that this reeks either Trojan Horse all over again or possible unsavory suspects that ran afoul with the Cylons. He will be alert for any surprises either way.
"Stay alert, and do not get too close to this freighter. I don't like the red flags this thing is sending up." Cherry moves out, moving into the lead, knowing that if attack down come from the freighter, she'll be the first one targeted. "And keep and eye on that asteroid field. Anything could be hiding in them. The cylons have been known to use them for cover."
Thanks to Eva's call for caution, as the flight approaches the position of Athena's Grace, there are suddenly multiple contacts on DRADIS. It's not Cylons, however. They're ships. Older model Vipers and Raptors, a flight of them that were hiding in the asteroid field behind the Grace. The markings on them are not any known military, but with their dark paint jobs, those that have dealt with them in the past recognizes the markings of the one of the Pirate clans that ran about before the war, and have made a killing scrapping ships and stealing since the war began.
The news from Tucker's ECO has Astraea frowning, but eve so: a flyby is still warranted. It nets them intel. Intel is vital in their operations over Picon. The woman takes a deep breath and angles into formation as they make their way in towards the Athena's Grace. She flips a few switches, warming up the Talons in their bays under the wings of her Raptor. "Hold on," she offers, in jest towards the older ECO flying back seat. He grumbles a bit; his lot, being stuck with a near-rookie. She does, however, look plenty surprised at the contacts that start appearing on DRADIS. "Flight, Nova-" the woman's voice is clearly uncertain. Pirates, she's not familiar with. "I've got contacts, but they ain't... These ain't raiders I don't think."
Eva, as soon as she sees the DRADIS contacts, opens her comms, "Flight, incoming ships appear to be enemy combatants. Pirates." Eva manages a clipped message, "Incoming flight, this is VX-1 flight, you are in colonial space. Desist or you will be fired upon." See? She gave a warning. Not that it does any good, as the fighters are all incoming, "Vanguard Actual, flight. We are engaging enemy combatants. Flight, Cherry, you are weapons free."
"Remind me, Bite," Hallie remarks over comms. "Do we rate pirates as worse than Cylons? Also, anyone have odds on whether or not they listen to us?" She's already swinging around, trying to take aim at one of the pirates moving in on Cherry. Having the flight leader ganged up on seems like a bad idea to her.
When the blips pop up, Kell first thought they were possible Cypers but when the Raptors also come into view, the latter thought proves to be true. He flicks on the 'Master Arm' switch for his autocannons as he hears the Captain call out the challenge. Silently, Razor hopes that the pirates will think twice before engaging them, there are enough Cylons on Picon to fight.
"Pirates?" Gwyndolen speaks without thinking; it crackles over the comms. She spent so many years as a member of a demonstration team, in nice enemy-free skies with no shooting and lots of applause. She clears her throat. "Right. Flight, Knick-Knack. Pirates. Moving to offensive formation."
"Oh fun." Katja notices all the bandits pop up and she flips the Master Arm switch. "Time to dance," she murmurs to herself and picks out one lucky bastard to intercept. Or not lucky. Depends on one's point of view, but she goes in hard and fast.
"Flight, Flats, I copy. Moving to engage." Tucker reports over the comms, already flicking the Master Arm and preparing to attack.
The radio crackles. "Vanguard Flight, this is the Grace, and I am Zanzibar Devereaux. I give you one chance to power down your weapons or your wing will be destroyed. Your pilots will be ransomed back to the Fleet, and we will keep your ships."
Calliope's Raptor powers up its counter-measures systems, frowning as she scans the ships out her viewport. She keeps in defensive formation over the Vipers.
"Flight, if you have any hesitation in firing on non-cylon targets, stow them. They will do everything they can to destroy us and then take out the Vanguard. Vanguard Actual, we are engaging pirate vessels. Freighter may also be armed." The message from the pirate confirms Eva's words. She switches back to the broad wave, rather than the frequency only used by the Vanguard and its ships. "Grace, this is Flight Lead Thorn. I am afraid we will have to respectfully decline. The Colonial Fleet does not negotiate."
"Flight, Nova... They do realize th'sorts they're dealin' wit', yeh?" Astraea sounds vaguely amused in the wake of the threat that comes over the line from the pirates. She angles her Raptor to sit on the edge of the wing of a couple of the Vipers. Towards the fringe of the formation, but not outside of it. Enough that her ECO can still do his job and she can do the semi-targeting of her Talons, but still remain within the maneuvering window of the Vipers themselves. Out here in space, she is just a fat little ladypug of a ship, but Nova's managed to do a fairly good job thus far of using it to her advantage. "Flats, Nova. We're notin' a missile lock on ya. Gonna see if we can do anythin' 'bout that."
Tucker's first missile slams into one of the Vipers, blowing it to pieces, as he transmits, "Cherry, Flats, saw that hit on you, sing out!" he calls over the comms as he sends his next missile streaking towards the Raptor that's targeting the flight lead.
"Flight, Grace, we will fire upon you." Across the Grace, several guns do open fire, but their fire is inaccurate at this range, Eva's orders having drawn the pirate ships out of range of the fighter screen.
Eva, at the tip of the spear, is the first to engage the enemy, and it does not work out well in her favour, as she takes a hard almost catastrophic hit to her ship, the flash of sparks as her controls catch fire visible even from some distance away. But if she bought some of her pilots time to take out some of the pirates, she can live with that, "Flight, Cherry, engage all enemies. Clear the board, and then we will handle the freighter." Her voice is tight, obviously pained, but she's flying as she always does, without a care in the world for her own safety. Mostly.
With the pleasantries out of the way and both sides stances declared rather boldly, Razor's brows furrow up into a frown as there will be no peace or at least a cease fire. Eva's words are appreciated, helping the younger Viper pilot reset his mentality on what they are facing. Taking in a deep breath, he releases and reaches up, pushing his flight helmet down a bit snugger on his head. Then soon enough, they are within firing range. Spotting one of the pirated Vipers peel off to chase after Tucker's Raptor, Kell calls out, "Flats, Razor, you've got a bandit on your six, moving in to clear it!" Leading the targeting reticule ahead of where the hostile Viper is heading towards, Razor presses the trigger stub on his flight stick, his twin autocannons immediately roaring to life. The rounds rake the pirate's fuselage and punches through the thin armor, resulting in a nice explosion and glittering debris that disperse. Razor then quickly breaks right as he glances over his shoulder, in time for the Viper chasing him to just deliver a glancing blow to his bird. Instead of flipping around to engage his pursuer, he checks the area and sees that their mission leader took a nasty talon hit. That makes his decision easy as he angles in on the Raptor that is still after the Captain.
There may be a slight hesitation before Gwyndolen targets a pirate. The Viper is far too much like her own ship, after all. It feels...wrong. However, after a pause, she shifts immediately into battle mode. Her shots strafe across the side of a Viper; she dodges another shot. It's just like any other dogfight. Even if they are fighting Vipers.
"You know, I don't think I like our new neighbors," Hallie comments. "But still, it'd be impolite not to bring a housewarming gift." She swings in close to her target, letting loose a volley... and then quickly veering away as another pirate closes in to fire on her from the side. She wheels around, spotting another target and shifting her aim.
Calliope winces at that pained comm from Cherry. She nods to herself, a silent, steadying gesture, and keeps on. "Cherry, Soundbite. We're trying to frak with their targeting. Will get in firing position for the next pass. Sing out if you need...anything." Like a pick-up from the blackness of space. She makes an "Ugh" back at Mince and mutters, off-comm, "Maybe they'll surrender? I don't love shooting down humans, even pirate frakkers."
Though her talons fly true, the pirate on Astraea also has good enough aim that she's not able to evade in the process. The hit is solid to the body of the Raptor and a number of alarms go off within the craft itself. Nova just reaches up and silences them. "Cherry, Nova. Fall back iff'n ya need. We got this." She saw how that went down. She's got an eye on the board, after all. "Flats, I'm still on yer tail." So long as missiles are out there and not being lobbed by her wingmates, she's going to be trying to quell them as best she can. Or at least knock them off target. There's a glance back to her ECO to make sure that things are still copacetic in the rear compartment before she kicks things on ahead.
Eva says, "Clearly, you never flew with the Virgon Royal Navy, Soundbite."
Despite being jammed, Katja goes in eyes only and pulls the trigger on her kew the first chance she gets at the pirate viper. After she and Ringer double-team the bandit, she peels away towards another enemy viper. She tries not to totally block out the sounds of people getting hit around them and just focuses on taking out the remaining threats, flying in dangerously close quarters with her prey.
"Can't get a good bead on anything with this raptor laying down a suppression field on me. Anyone want to take a shot at it?" Eva, for her part, has managed to evade a shot send her way, but doesn't seem to be able to hit anything else.
"Let me see if I can slow him down for you, Cherry!" Tucker calls out as he gets his ECO onto the jamming fields.
Athena's Grace in the meantime, starts to power up her engines. "Jump away." Captain Devereaux orders.
"And our pilots?"
"A proper death in space, is a good death." he rumbles, watching the screens and one the wounded Colonial Vipers.
As Kell makes his attack run on the Raptor that is flinging talons at their flight leader, his Viper gets slammed with the electronic counter measures from one of the pirates, his DRADIS screen warping a bit and the heads up display winking in and out for a moment. The distraction was enough to affect Razor's aim as only a few rounds from his autocannons cut into the Raptor's armor. Not enough to knock it out of the fight. Kell does push back and left on his flightstick, kicking his Viper into a barrel roll which neatly evades the shots coming from behind, the pirate still chasing him. The roll also allows him to gain a little bit of distance on the Raptor as he reengages, "Cherry, Razor, still trying to get that Raptor off of your six. ECM is messing with my systems."
"Flight, Soundbite. Weapons engaged. I'm going to try and get a lock on Bandit Delta One-Zero." Calliope fiddles with her aiming controls, to try and achieve said lock. Her reaction to that chatter from the Athena's Grace is a, "Frakking seriously? Makes the toasters look civilized."
"And I thought we were better than the toasters," Gwyndolen comments with a sigh, watching the explosion from the Viper she just hit fade. She bites her lower lip, and, without further comment, swerves sharply to take on the Viper that's been dogging her tail.
"Flight, Ringer. Still on Delta Five," Hallie calls out over comms, as she tries to line up another good shot. And then she, too, hears Devareux's comment over open comms, and scowls. "Now I /really/ don't like him. But maybe his friends will feel a little more like surrendering now?" She doesn't sound entirely convinced, though.
Katja doesn't even glance at her instruments. No tail? This entire time? Well she's a lot harder to hit than the Raptors, but the pirates sure have been jamming her nonstop. She fires off another shot, another one-two double-team and opportunistically turns on one of the pirate Raptors out of a corkscrew.
There's almost humour, in Eva's voice, "No worries, Razor. It's just a scratch."
"I think this frakker on Flats is finally outta missiles," Nova announces to the flight. She's fighting some suppression herself, but she seems to be managing alright nonetheless. Her Talons are landing, at least. Which is no minor fleet for the small, hinky rounds. They like to go every which way. The pirate-Raptor in question may not be down, but it's taking damage. She's still doing well enough, save for the scorched marks in the side panel of her bird and some sparks thrown every now and again in the darkness of space. "Flight, Nova," Astraea pipes up again, suddenly. "Th'Athena Grace is spinnin' up her drives. She's 'bout ta jump."
"Splash one. Flight, Cherry, you have your orders. Engage the enemy craft." Because Eva, on occasion, apparently, likes to remind people she's technically from Virgon. One of the most hated colonies in the twelve. Eva, having cleared the raptor suppressing her pilots, moves back in to try to clear another target.
The Grace isn't the only thing that is spooling up. The two remaining Raptors are as well. The remaining pirate Vipers are continuing to engage, apparently working to try to buy the others a chance to jump away.
Tucker chuckles, "Thanks for the assist, Nova! All we have is spitballs for that thing, and the Vanguard's out of position." he grouses. They may very well get away.
"If they aren't surrendering, guess we need to play janitor and take out the trash." Hallie lands a solid hit on her target, but when the pirate continues to try to hold his lock on Razor, she falls silent and increases speed to pull closer. It's quite possible the young Tauran ensign's getting a bit of tunnel-vision, determined as she is to take her opponent down.
Calliope's systems ping a weapons lock to her satisfaction, and she preps to make an attack run at the pirate Raptor. Maybe she can hit it before it spools away.
Since nothing new comes out of that particular Raptor, but the pirate-Viper are still doing their thing, Astraea adjusts her own trajectory. The woman draws her own ship around and through the fray. Well, somewhat through the fray. She's not going to get into the thick of it. "Flight, Nova... We'll wanna make sure th'brass knows 'xactly what t'look out fer iff'n they see th'Grace pop up 'gain." Old codes or not, it's definitely under pirate command now. And even if she sent the full volley of her talons after it? She'd likely be unable to hit enough of their tyllium drives to stop them from jumping. Instead, she'll try to help Kell out with his tail problem.
Katja isn't as fortunate with her fancy flying and aiming at the same time. She manages to get in a flesh wound before she has to pull away from the Raptor and get ready for another pass. This time she gives herself enough targeting room. She glances back at her instruments as they fritz out again and she pulls the trigger with extreme prejudice. She will find this annoying Raptor. She will decimate it. She will also maybe give it a close call to try and rattle the pirates if she doesn't nail them first.
Kell maintains his chase on the Raptor that is now trying to spool up and jump away, trusting the others in his flight to remove the threat that is on his tail. His burst of autocannon only adds more bullet holes to the Raptor but he weaves left and then back towards the pirate, making one more attack run.
Gwyndolen dodges and dances past the Viper, landing a hit on its underside, before winging back, retargeting on one of the Raptors. They will come down. She's trying very hard not to think about the pilots.
"Flight, we're almost clear. Don't get cocky. Or as some might say, 'Don't ask yourselves, 'What would Eva do?'." With most of the pirates destroyed, Eva turns with the rest of the flight to finish off the last of the enemy.
Athena jumps away from the battle, disappearing in a flash of light and pop of color. The remaining Raptor floats uselessly in space, as the pilot from the Pirate Viper transmits, "We surrender. We ask that your flight leader accept our surrender and escort us to your ship and rescue our wounded."
"Vanguard Actual, two remaining enemy combatants are claiming surrender and requesting assistance. What are your orders?" (Cherry)
Calliope fires her weapon away...and blinks at the destruction if wreaks on the Raptor she's shooting at. A weak, "Uhh, Flight, Soundbite. Splash." She circles the remaining pirates, in what she deems is an intimidating flying pattern. It involves flying through a lot of debris, so it might suffice as one.
"Flight, Vanguard Actual. We accept their terms, and will recover them - to turn them over as soon as possible." comes the response as the watch Commander relays terms. "They will power down and our teams will bring them under armed escort."
Hallie pulls in close on her target, nailing the body of the ship and turning towards her next target... but pulls away, hard, when the call of surrender comes across the comms. It's a bit too late for poor Delta Five, though, what with the attention the hapless pirate Viper received.
"Razor, Nova... Yer clear. Nice work, Ringer." Once that Viper on Kell's tail finally goes up, there's some relief from Astraea into the comms. But then the Athena's Grace jumps away and they've lost their target. She tsks absently, looking back to her ECO. When the orders come in, the woman looks back and hisses lowly. Powered down. Well that'll be fun. "Flight... Who wants th'pleasure of towin' today?"
Katja's maneuvering pays off, but was the return on investment really worth it? All Katja knows is she's alive, and her and Kell have pummeled that poor Raptor into oblivion. "Oh look. It works now," she comments glibly as her DRADIS pops up again and some kind of flashing light stops. She pulls her bird around to flank the remaining Viper.
Gwyndolen sounds almost relieved as as the call of surrender comes. She untargets, and rounds around the remaining ships. "It appears they were rather less sanguine about being left to die than the pirate captain thought," she observes.
Kell's autocannon shots punches bigger holes into the pirate Raptor, causing it to shudder a bit more but it was Katja's follow up that shorts out its systems, "Deathwish, Razor, nice shooting! Looks like that Raptor is lights out." He does glance over his shoulder to check on the bandit on his six, only it's in many pieces and floating in space, moving via inertia, "Thanks for clearing my six, Nova, Ringer." Just like that, the furball ends and Vanguard Actual accepts the surrenders. Instead of continuing to chase the lone pirate Viper, Razor breaks off into a more non-aggressive position though now he is pointing his own fighter towards the asteroid field, in case the explosions and exchanging of fire drew the attention of nearby Cylons.
The Raptor has no choice but to power down. It's shot to hell, the pilot's dead. And only the ECO remains. The remaining Viper forms up on the Raptor and shuts down as well. Now at this range, the older pilots can tell - these are first gen ships. They may have even been military surplus at sometime. Raptors from Vanguard come to tug the ships into the bay, where armed Marines are waiting to escort the survivors to the brig. Actual gives priority clearance to Eva to land first, since she's showing the most damage, leaving Gwyndolen in charge of the rest of the landings.
Eva holds the flight, "Flight, maintain weapons lock on the enemy vessels until retrieval." Once that's done, only then, will she turns the flight back, "All ships, RTB. The alert vipers will maintain the CAP." She lands, as carefully a she can. Which, in her current condition might be a miracle.
"Nova, Ringer -- thanks for the assist," Hallie replies to Astraea, as they head back to dock once again. But she falls silent to watch Cherry try to land, letting out a breath she wasn't sure she was holding when the flight leader's successfully down without anything (much) falling off the sides of the ship.
Calliope happily tails it back to the ship, watching as the remaining pirates properly give in with no small amount of relief. "I way prefer shooting toasters..." she notes soft to Mince, who grunts an agreement.
Gwyndolen heads back to the ship, holding at the rear of the ships as she watches to make sure Eva safely lands. "Flight, Knick-Knack, prepare to land," she calls over the comms, beginning to coordinate the landings. After all, it'd be really horrible if someone crashed on the way in.
"Just returnin' th' favor, Razor." Astraea keeps her weapons free in case the pirates suddenly power back up. Her backseater keeps his own scanners open, should anything light up from that asteroid field. For all that the dogfight is over... tensions are still high. Even so, Nova does briefly smile. "Anytime, Ringer," Astraea offers in return to Hallie. She lands fairly easily, herself. The damage to the side of her bird is all she took, in the end. The deck will frown, as it always does; but deep down they're surely glad to see their pilots home, safe and sound.
"Razor, Deathwish. Likewise." Katja moves her bird away from the powered down pirate ships when the escort Raptors come in and take over. Then she waits till she has clearance to land, watching Cherry's landing with pursed lips. "Small miracles," she murmurs. After getting clearance for landing, she lands lithely. Easier to do when all the enemies did was jam her systems over and over...and miss.
Having no damage to speak of at all, Hallie lands without any significant issue. Why, she didn't even scratch the paint this time; the flight crew should be thrilled. She's out of her seat soon enough, and turning her bird over to the deck crew.