Vanguard Vipers and Raptors fly top-cover for the evacuation of a sinking Picon wet-navy destroyer.
Location: Boilermaker Bay, Tasman, Picon
Related Scenes: None
Plot: Operation: Cat and Mouse
Scene Number: 218
Scene 218 - Boilermaker Bay
Boilermaker Bay is in the southern hemisphere of Picon, along the coast of the dry desert continent of Tasman. Ester Williams, one of the remaining Picon naval destroyers -- the waterborne ones, not the spaceborne ones -- has been sheltering nearby, but now it's been caught in the rocky bay by Cylon Heavy Raiders and Vipers. A flight of Picon birds knocked down the original attackers, but were chewed up in doing so, and so the Timber Wolves have been called in to fly overwatch while naval cutters come to take off the survivors of the Williams. As they burn down through the atmo, they get a wireless call on the joint channel, "Vanguard Flight Alpha-One, this is the Ester," despite the smoke the fighters and bombers can already see, the female voice is calm and clear, "we're reading another flight of toasters coming in from the southeast, ETA two minutes. Our AA is out of action, so hurry along."
"Ester Williams, this is Vanguard Flight Alpha One lead, Cherry. We are enroute to your location and will intercept the incoming flight of cylons. Our complement of raptors will be available to assist with your evac." Eva's voice is just as calm, despite the breakneck speed at which the flight is attempting to bridge the distance between their drop point and the destroyer, "Vipers, concentrate your focus on eliminating the cylon threat. Our mission is to buy the Ester as much time as we can to evacuate her crew. Be mindful of your flightlines and your targeting. There are a number of friendly targets in the water. We do not want to impede their rescue operations. Raptor pilots, if your crew is not rated for SAR, remain in formation with the vipers.
Like Kell said when he returned to the Vanguard, he is back in the cockpit of a Viper when he was cleared for duty in Sick Bay. No injuries and a full day's rest has him ready to go on a mission and this is the first one he will be participating in. It's good to be back in a cockpit again, the enclosure providing a secure feeling. As the flight blaze across the skies on an intercept course of the second flight of Cylons, Razor is already double checking his systems and flicking the Master Arm switch for his autocannons. With Eva letting the rest of them know what their responsibilities are, Kell answers with a quick acknowledgement, "Cherry, Razor. I copy."
Van slips into position 'above' the Raptors on their descent, checking comms, tweaking his Viper's trim, and charging his KEWs, "Milkman copies. Like Cherry said, the toasters may come in low to get a good lines on the Ester Williams, so watch your yo-yos." That is to say, don't dive too fast or too hard and end up smacking into the water before you can pull up. "Razor, Milkman, think you can still keep up with me?"
"Flight, Slow-Poke." The Aerilon's voice has that calm, almost backwater twang that soothes the soul. "We're moving into rear." The curly-haired man looks over his shoulder to Pi who is sitting with a buzz of energy to counter Slow-Poke's chill. She's almost bouncing in her seat. "Pi. You're doing that thing again," he reminds her off-comms, and it draws Isolde to a kind of stillness. "Remember what I told you about that breathing. You gotta feel your breath, focus on it. Then you'll stop trying to vibrate yourself right outta your seat."
Pi snorts, giving Slow-Poke a look. "Feel your breath," she repeats doubtfully. Then she switches to comms. "Flight, this is Pi. I'm picking up some hostiles comin' in, as expected. Uh, I think that's just two heavies though. Sweetheart, Meteor... you got something different?"
Calliope is out in one of the Raptors zooming to the aid of the Ester Williams. Priya in her backseat, blonde frame all of whip-cord readiness as she flies in formation with the other Wolves. "Flight, Soundbite. Weapons arming. We'll be ready to rock on your mark, Cherry." A wide smile comes across her face as she hears Kell's voice over the comms. "Glad to have you back on our wings, Razor."
Calliope is flashed a cocky smile, and cheerfully, punched in the arm as they take up together today. "Nice to be flying with you, Caprica." Inside the Raptor though, the sharp Tauron woman is all business as they bear down on Boilermaker Bay. Seated at her console, Priya frowns down at DRADIS as Cherry pipes up over the comms and Pi notes the incoming. "Flight, Pi, this is Sweetheart. I'm seeing more than that. Looking like at least four Raiders to pair with those heavies. Meteor, confirm?"
"Cherry, Nova, we're good fer SAR." It was one of the few things that was needed on Scorpia. War-touched or not, accidents still happened. Astraea adjusts their elevation and starts angling away from the rest of the formation, though not as far when Priya's warning comes in over the comms. She hovers at the flank, glancing back briefly towards her backseater. <<You got a read on that?>> Waiting for his confirmation or not on those numbers.
"Flight, once we get a better idea of the armaments on those heavies, we should focus fire on eliminating those threats first. If what I've read about these wet-navy ships is right, they can handle the KEW, but we need to eliminate any threat of missiles or other heavy ordinance to the Ester." Cherry is still moving in fast, banking right and left to avoid the worst of the air turbulence, "Milkman, this is your Navy, if you get an idea that you think will work, sing it out, don't wait to suggest it."
"I read ya, Pi," Bami reponds while looking things over. "I got confrim. Four raiders and two heavies." He kills his comms for a moment to call to Nova, <<Same here. Two big mommas and four of the weasaly cunts.>> With that said to the pilot he starts checking on his own stations briefly, and calls back over comms, "Ready and willing."
"Cherry, Ester, our thanks. Watch out though, they got us by sneaking Heavies through the hills nape of the earth."
Another voice, much more cavalier than the first, comes on the wireless, "Ester, Sealift Actual, ETA three minutes. We'll be coming up on your seaward side." Which should give them the protection of the hull against any Cylon attacks from the landward, southern, side.
Not long after the ECOs report the coming, the descending Colonials can pick them out, ripping over the land toward the foundering destroyer and the swarm of cutters darting toward it. The Ester Williams is listing over to its port, flames pouring from two missile strikes at the bow and smoke pouring from both. A large portion of its crew is gathered at the stern, waiting for evacuation.
As soon as Eva breaks the cover of the clouds, and the raptors identify the incoming cylons, Evan quickly adjusts her course the few extra degrees needed to put her on a collision course, of sorts, with the enemy. She's, as per usual, seeming to hone in on the heavies. Better safe than sorry, when it comes to selecting a target for elimination.
Priya glances up towards Calliope, jaw set as she says. "This'll be fun..." Her gaze lingers only momentarily on the pilot, before glancing towards the ship below and the oncoming Cylons. "Flight, Sweetheart here. I'll be concentrating all ECM on the heavies unless support is otherwise needed."
"Cherry, Milkman, roger. You're right though, KEW won't be a threat to the Ester, but it can hurt the cutters and it will be murder if they fire on the crew waiting for evac." Van's tenor comes hard and sharp, his lips pressing together tightly as he quiets down, leaning forward eagerly a little in his seat. As he spots the Cylons, his jaw sets, "I'm on the second Heavy."
Hearing Van over the comms, the edge of Kell's lips tweak up slightly, "Milkman, Razor, I only took a stroll on Picon, didn't lose any of my speed." A slight adjustment on his flightstick has his Viper edging more towards Milkman's, flying on his wing for the upcoming engagement. "Glad to be back, Soundbite. Ready to turn some toasters into salvage." Usually the young Viper pilot stays quiet on the comms but the chatter is easing him back in, as if he hasn't missed a beat. When the bogeys are identified by the ECOs, Kell's smile fades, a more serious expression returning as he focuses on the horizon ahead of him, waiting for the metallic glints to appear. When they do, he is setting up an attack run on one of the bogeys.
Calliope keeps her flight pattern steady, gulping as she notes the attention they've attracted from one of those heavies. She stays the course, fingers tightening as she tries to get a weapons lock. A snort to Priya. "You have some very weird ideas about fun, Sweetheart."
<<See what you can do about suppressing those big ones,>> Astraea notes to Bami, angling their Raptor sharply back into formation as the Cylons come their way. "Cherry, Nova. Gonna see what we can do 'bout that one on yer tail. Doesn't look like it's got missiles out yet." Yet being the operative word at the moment.
Slow-Poke relinquishes his control to Pi when the locations go up. "Alright, Pi. Now, just like we talked about. I keep us steady, you look for the opening. Teamwork." This would all be far better delivered in Calliope's pep, and not in Slow-Poke's glacial delivery. Pi just nods dutifully, switching her focus to her monitor that brings up her missile aiming screen. "Flgiht, I'm on the first Heavy, DRADIS contact I-zero-six."
"Oh 'Bite. You've got no idea," Priya promises, grin crooked on her lips and fingers flipping over the console. "Besides, I know I'm in good hands. You just blow the shit out of them." Calliope's got this, her tone seems to say without a hint of doubt in her raspy voice.
Fish and Banger both acknowledge the orders, augering in on the two Heavies, working together to get through the Raider screen.
<<On it,>> Bami calls back. <<Take down a big momma for me. I've started memorizing whenver one of the bastards go down.>> While mirthful in tone, he doesn't appear all too happy about the presence of the toasters impeding the search and rescue. <<Jammin' 'em now, Nova.>>
The Raiders do their best to screen off the Colonials from the Heavies, which bore onward, their turrets firing defensively. The Raiders can't manage to stop the attack on the Heavies, however, and end up on the tail of four of the Vipers and Raiders.
As soon as the flight clears the first of the heavies, Eva's voice comes on the comms, "Good work, Flight, let's see if we can's clear this second, and mop up the rest." Her own target still flying, Eva hits the throttle, attempting to move in closer, to focus the spray of her KEW fire.
She just cannot get a good target on that heavy and Astraea mutters for it. Mutters. The woman peels away, finally, angling into the thick of things in search of a new target. And one she finds; a raider that's got Kell in its sights. "Razor, Nova. Gonna see 'bout this toaster you've got trailin' ya." Can't be letting him get away from them too soon, after all. They just got him back! <<If the skies clear of the big ones, feel free to grab the cannon for any you see behind us,>> she calls behind her to Bami.
Calliope flies it like she means it, dodging the fire of one Heavy while sending a talon toward the other. It connects, melding with Viper fire to put that one away. "Razor, Milkman...Fish, right? Anyway, that was boss. I think that one's down. Switching targets to frak with the Raiders." And so she does. 'I think I can get a clear shot at the one on your ass, Nova. I've got a little more room to move now." A low "Heh" is sent Priya's way. "We'll talk about how good my hands are when we're back in the hangar. My manicure is pretty wrecked right now. My kingdom for a Scorpian nail salon."
For once, Van doesn't come straight down on the Cylons in a high-speed yo-yo, smoothing out short of them and approaching from the same altitude. He twitches his Viper aside from tracers coming from one of the Raiders, then rolls inverted, getting a top-down shot on the second Heavy. The rounds from the autocannon slam into the Heavy along with fire from Kell, Calliope, and Fish, and then he finishes the barrel roll as he blows past it, sending the Heavy down toward the beach in a terminal plunge. "Nice shooting Flight. Fish, Milkman, I'm going after your trailer in case he gets any ideas about strafing."
The initial attack run by Kell is the same as the others, bypassing the Raiders and going after the larger targets that usually carry a more lethal payload. While his Viper roars past the light fighter screen, Razor's Viper takes a couple of glancing hits, no damage except some scratched paint. His own autocannons roar to life as they spit out a series of rounds at the Heavy Raider, punching a couple of holes in the nose section of the craft but nothing as devastating as Van's salvo. Hearing the warning from Astraea about the bandit on his tail, Kell gives a brief answer, "Nova, Razor, I copy, and thanks. If you get into trouble, call out and I will swing by." He pauses before adding for his wingman, "Milkman, moving into position to clear your six." Though he has a Raider on his tail, Razor has full trust on Astraea and the ECOs who are jamming away at the bandits. So he kicks his Viper into a quick barrel roll as he locates where his wingman is, moving to intercept the Raider on Van's tail.
<<I gotcha, Nova.>> Bami's setting up for another countermeasure when he catches something on DRADIS. "We got two more contacts coming from the hills," the ECO calls out over comms. <<Maybe get ready for something bad to maybe happen. Suppressing what I can.>>
Isolde sets her focus on her monitor, watching as things fly and dart and move. DRADIS gives her a small ping each time a target disappears off the monitor, and a totally different ping when two more slip into sight. She drops her gaze briefly to it just as Meteor reports back on their arrival. "Flight, Meteor, Pi confirming."
There's an appreciative whistle from the back of Calliope's Raptor as the Heavy goes up in flames. Nice shooting team. With the fall of one, Priya re-targets her suppression glancing towards where her pilot is flying to include that Raider in her spread. A frown furrows her brows at comm chatter from the other ECO's, lifting a finger she dials in some of her controls and attempts to catch a frequency. "Flight, Sweetheart - confirming incoming but looks friendly. I repeat likely friendlies. It looks like Vipers. And this code I'm picking up...." It's old Picon IFF code, which is given an extra flavor as she repeats it in her Tauron accent.
Sure enough, a pair of Vipers come flashing out of the hills, exploding straight up toward the dogfight. Thankfully, the call from the ECOs provide enough warning, because they come darting straight at the Colonials, and then their guns begin to flash, throwing tracers toward the Fish.
"Milkman copies, Razor. I'll cross your path..." and then Van goes suddenly silent as Priya lists off the IFF codes, his eyes widening and his hands going still on throttle and stick. He recovers quickly, firing a late burst that misses his dodging target, and then the Picon follows through on what he told Kell, curving away from his target to drag his trailer in front of Kell's guns, "That's the 393rd Squadron..." his voice sounds a little haunted, "...from Triton." And as they attack the Colonials, he doesn't really need to add, "A Toaster squadron."
Eva does barely any damage to the heavy, even she can see that, as she comes up. Sparks, and nothing more. Thankfully, between her fellow pilot, and Pi's raptor, the target is taken out, and she turns to engage with the new incoming vipers. She's moving in fast, to try to catch sight of their armaments, even if she is trying to shoot them down, "Milkman, sounds like they came to give you a chance at payback."
Calliope's Raider quarry dodges her talon fire. But she stays on him. If at first you don't succeed, try-try again. There's an audible intake of breath from her, at Van's comm. She opens her mouth to say something. Then closes it again, and redoubles her attention to shooting things.
Pi has both fists in the air the moment the DRADIS contact blips off the screen and her camera verifies the exploding heavy. She turns in her seat, bouncing slightly on the edge of her rump. "Did you see that?" She says, tone indicating that she does not need Slow's approval, even if she does get a casual 'mmhmm' in response. She immediately looks back at DRADIS, quickly eyeing the incoming targets. "Flight, Pi. Second heavy down, and now switching focus. Fish, you look like you got some friends heading your way." And she turns in her seat to her ECM console and begins tapping away at her keyboard as she draws up her counter measures. Van's words does have her blinking slightly at DRADIS, and then she leans back a bit.
Thus far, the raider on Astraea and Bami's Raptor hasn't been able to do much of anything to them. Sure, its cannon has made glancing shows across its sides, but its been nothing to worry about. Her Talons, however, have been rather... sad, as compared to how she's done in previous dogfights. The woman notes, to her ECO: <<Remind me to light a candle to Apollo. I may have been remiss or something...>> Perhaps a lack of faith is her issue today. Tsk. She tilts back in, going for a slightly more aggressive angle on the raider after Kell.
Luck was not on Kell's side as the tracers coming from his twin autocannons streak out towards the Raider that chases Van, a couple of rounds cutting into the tail section of the Cylon but not knocking it out of the air, "Milkman, Razor, bandit still on your tail." He does catch the hesitation from the pilot he has flown with more and quick adds on the comms, "Milkman, stay on target. We'll pay the three-niner-three a visit once you are clear!" This only encourages Razor to focus more on the target chasing Van, wanting to down the hostile craft in case his wingman is distracted from the late arrivals that crashed their party.
A rather lurid bit of Tauron escapes Priya at Van's confirmation on the origin of the Vipers. Sorry Isolde. Other than that, she doesn't speak and refocuses her efforts.
Between the two Triton Vipers and the Raider already on Fish's tail, they hammer the Colonial Viper, one of the Vipers hemming Fish in with neat bursts and then the Raider and lead Viper strike home. Fish cries out as his Viper is knocked about, "They're all over me, I can't shake them!"
Meteor changes stations with the heavies now gone, and begins going over his targets. It only takes a few seconds to find the Raider that's been tailing their asses, responds to the pilot, <<Candle. Apollo. Remiss. Getting this bastard now.>> Then under his breath Bami mutters, <<Rather light these up first.>>
"Razor, Milkman, copy." Van still sounds a little shaken, but he stays on the Raider as it pulls away, settling into his number two position in the train-of-death as a Raider guns for him, and Kell guns for that Raider and another Raider guns for Kell and Astraea guns for that Raider and... it goes on. Between staying out from under the guns of the Raider behind him and trying to sneak glances at the Vipers on Fish's tail, he only manages a glancing blow across his target Raider's nose, "Cherry, Milkman, maybe so. A little busy for that, now. You'll have to do it for me."
"Whoa," Slow-Poke reacts as much as expected when the wing is clipped by incoming fire. The ship jostles a bit, and Isolde blinks over toward her pilot at his casual note. She then shakes her head slightly, repeating the expression under her breath. "Whoa." Then she looks over her console, and growls as she gets a glaring red warning light as her counter measures fail to impact one of the two Vipers. She shakes her head, and continues to tap away, hoping for a better hole.
Eva's once chance to get a look doesn't give her any good results. But you know what? They're attacking one of hers. That's going to have to be enough for her. An enemy is an enemy, flesh or chrome. "Don't worry, Milkman, I've got you." And this time, she intends to back it up with fire.
Razor's salvo is more on point on his second pass as he riddles the Raider with rounds from the twin cannons, shaking and jarring the Cylon enough that its shots end up going wide on Van. Kicking his Viper into a quick inverted roll to maintain optimal distance with the bandit he is chasing, Kell shoots a quick glance over his shoulder, "Nova, Razor, nice shooting and thanks for clearing my tail!" Now he can focus fully on the Raider that is, no attempt at evasion as he zeroes in on the bogey's six. There is a slight lean forward as well in his seat as his finger hovers over the trigger stub, targeting reticule moving into position to properly lead the Raider and he triggers off another burst.
Calliope swallows as those Picon Vipers continue their assault on the Wolves. Her own talons remain focused on the Raiders. Her target gets a few dents, but remains in the sky. She keeps on shooting.
Priya can't listen to Fish shriek over the comms. "Adding suppression to three-niner-three Vipers," she says shortly to the flight team, keeping on the Raider Calliope is following as well.
Maybe just mentioning her intent to pay proper respects to her patron god was enough because Astraea's next volley of Talons is on point. The Raider goes up in a ball of fire that is far more glorious in-atmo than it would be in space. The Scorpian lets out a whoop of joy before she pulls up on th stick to start angling off towards her next target. It brings her somewhat in line with Van and Kell both, since she's been in their general proximity. "Slow-Poke, Nova. Gonna see 'bout helpin' wit' yer problem there."
The two Cypers avoid the weaving attacks of Fish and Banger easily, flying with smooth precision. Once more, the wingman uses a burst of KEW-fire to drive Fish straight under the guns of the element lead, who blasts a hit into the body of the Colonial Viper.
Bami may as well have a crush on the Raider that's tailing their Raptor. Anger's starting to set in until that exclamation catches him off guard. <<I thought you were the calm one,>> he calls up to the cockpit. When he's got another good shot, he squeezes the trigger a bit too hard as he fires off a burst of fire.
"That's right," Isolde snaps when she finally breaks through the defenses from the Vipers. She comes in the comms, offering a sharp and almost victorious bark of, "Flight, I'm in!" She is continuing to tap away at her keyboard, as if to maintain her measures. But then the entire Raptor rocks hard as it takes a hit across its belly, and Slow must veer upward in instinct.
"Alright. Pi. We've got a friend, and I can't shake."
That draws Isolde's gaze around to her DRADIS console, and she gasps sharply. "Alright. Uh. Switching to missile. Last one. Better make it count. Hold us steady."
The Cypers do their tag-team even as they dodge weapons fire from Fish, Banger, and Eva alike. This time, the lead Cyper's rounds punch into Fish's cockpit, and flames burst out as the Colonial ship starts to plummet toward the sea. There's a chute, but it's very late, mere moments before the Viper hits the sea, and never has time to fully inflate.
"Sealift Actual, this is Vanguard Flight Alpha One lead, we've got a pilot down in the water, can one of your cutters divert on the way to the Ester and pick him up? I will send a raptor, if not, but I'd like to keep them to clear these cylons." Eva's still moving, still trying to take out that final viper. The one still sporting Picon colours. She did make Milkman a promise.
Van is definitely distracted, even though the Raider ahead of him is firing on the Raptor Isolde is flying in. His KEW rounds hit the Raider's nose again, the Picon pilot still firing early, but it barely slows the Raider. The burst of flame from the Viper in front of the two Cypers tears his eyes away again, and then he grimaces, his breath coming short and quick, "Sorry Slow-poke, Pi, I'm trying to get your trailer. I'll try to force him where you can get a shot in. Nice shooting, Razor."
Calliope does a bit of rapid targeting adjustment, after the Raider she was chasing is finally brought down when her fire and Bami's converge on it. Her eyes strain toward the water below, trying to follow Fish, before focusing back on the fight.
Kell's autocannon rounds are brutally accurate as the Cylon that was chasing Van is riddled with bullets, chunks of debris flaking off of the wide fuselage of the Raider causing it to become incredibly sluggish. However, the Centurion piloting the craft is able to keep it in the air, much to Razor's surprise. Eyes narrow as he grits his teeth, obviously not pleased that he still has to chase the badly wounded bandit. "Milkman, Razor, thanks, bandit should be cleared from your tail shortly." As he says that, Kell presses the trigger again, holding it down longer as bright tracers streak out at the heavily damaged Raider.
"Soundbite, Nova. Thanks fer that!" Astraea calls over the comms. Then, to her ECO: <<Good work, there.>> Since it was due to them both that their tail is finally clear. She does wince, however, at the hit to Slow-Poke and Pi's Raptor. Her Talons are back to being finicky. And Fish's bird going down? Also no good. The woman draws in a sharp breath, muttering, and cutting up the speed to angle in alongside Van a bit closer -- much as a Raptor can -- to try to help with the one that's giving Slow-Poke a hard time. "Cherry, Nova. I volunteer fer Fish's pickup if need be."
Priya swallows thickly as she watches Fish's marker blink out on DRADIS. Cherry's request to Sealift Actual echoes in her ears as shakes her and eyes their position on the fight. "Soundbite, what do you think about a little extra cover fire?" She suggests, swapping to weapons.
Banger chimes in, "Fish is down, repeat, Fish is down. I didn't see a chute!" Likely because he was busy keeping his eyes on the two Cypers slashing through the Colonial formation.
From the cutters, the same voice notes, "Cherry, Sealift Actual, our priority has to be the crew of the Ester, but we'll swing by your pilot's location as soon as we have them off."
The reason for that priority becomes clear as a secondary explosion rocks the destroyer's bow, and it begins to settle into the water a little more rapidly.
As Fish's Viper goes down, the two Cypers abruptly roll aside, darting away from the fading dogfight and bugging out toward the hills once more.
Calliope says a quick, "Go for it" to Priya. "Do what you do."
A smile finally cracks through when there's a confirmed kill. Bami doesn't get too excited, though, and starts zeroing in on one the Vipers. He doesn't appear to care too much, and seems to be out for the first clanker that might've taken down Fish.
Eva says, "Sealift Actual, see to the /Ester//, we'll handle our man. Nova, once you're clear, swing around and see what you do about getting Fish."
The wounded Raider behind Van only gets a glance, the Picon pilot trusting Kell and others to keep it off him. Instead, he focuses on blazing a very conspicuous line of tracers above the Raider in front of him and to its starboard side, keeping the ship from dodging in that way. When it goes down, he nods, "Nice shooting, Raptors. That may have been overkill, but it was good overkill." Van glances behind him, adding, "Nice shooting, Razor." And Priya, but Van didn't spot that. Instead, he's looking for the two Cypers, grimacing as he spots them going flat-out toward the hills.
Eva still cannot seem to get a bead on these two Vipers, even as they try to escape back over into the hills. She'll give it, possibly, a few more seconds, but she can't afford to get too far from the Ester. "They're trying to draw us off, no doubt. We cannot afford to leave the destroyer undefended."
Calliope lets out a low whistle as the Raider they were firing at explodes. With feeling. A quick, "Nice" is shot back at Priya. "Copy that, Cherry. We're with you up here."
"Cherry, Nova, copy. Clear an' headin' down fer pickup." Astraea angles away from the formation now, moving down towards the ocean below. <<Keep an eye out for Fish. I saw his 'chute, but it deployed late.>> Her voice is tinged with concern; a late chute is a bad sign.
Eva says, "Soundbite, Slow-Poke, if you're good for it, move in to assist with the evaculation of the Ester, that ship won't last. Milkman, Razor, let's see if we can't keep the skies clear and watch for potential enemy reinforcements."
"Is it really overkill as long as they're all dead, Milkman?" Priya comments dryly over the comms. Her teeth grit at Cherry's point as the two Vipers take off into the hills, distancing themselves on DRADIS. She watches the pattern as long as she can, shifting her position back to ECM coverage as needed.
Van grimaces at Eva's conclusion and the order that follows, even as he curls his Viper in that direction, but he apparently comes to the same conclusion, smacking the heel of his hand into one of the few clear areas of his control panel, "Damnit!" Still, he draws his stick back, gaining height, and responds, "Milkman copies, Cherry. Ascending to top cover." The words are tight, sharp, but accepting.
"Cherry, Soundbite. Acknowledged. Angling down to assist with the evac." And so Calliope does, her Raptor sinking lower toward the destroyer. "Get ready to man the doors, Sweetheart. We're going to have to do this pretty fast."
"Your six is clear, Milkman." Kell says once the Raider is shot down by the combination shot from himself and Priya, "Sweetheart, Razor, thanks for the assist. Couldn't bring him down myself." He searches for the other two threats, the ones that brought down Fish. Seeing that they are already burning away at top speed and away from the engagement zone, he realizes that a chase would be futile. "Cherry, Razor, I copy. Flying overwatch with you." With that acknowledgement sent, Kell pulls back on his flightstick and begins to gain altitude, both for a better view across the skies and also allowing him to dive down at greater speed if more threats appear.
With the cutters now alongside the destroyer, evacuation is proceeding, but the fire at the bow is starting to crowd people toward the back. In fact, that composed female voice comes back on the wireless, "Vanguard Flight Alpha-One, Sealift Actual, this is Ester Williams. Fires have reached a critical point, I'll stay at the wireless as long as I can, but it's not going to be much longer."
Priya smiles a little to herself. "Razor, Sweetheart, I've got your back anytime." Pushing out of her seat, she nods at Calliope as she stands up and grips a hold on the ship, moving towards the doors. "On it, 'Bite. We'll be ready for them."
Bami's damn near livid when the hail of KEW fire misses wide. <<Read ya, Nova.>> He moves back a bit, and checks starts scanning over DRADIS. <<Second I'll see him I'll let ya know.>>
Calliope does not crash into the side of the cutter. There's a moment where her descent is too quick and it looks probable! But she pulls it out. Fortunately. She gets her ship into an entirely safe hover, so Priya can open the hatch and begin onboarding.
It takes some adjusting, awkward as it may be, but Astraea gets her Raptor over the waters where they last saw Fish's 'chute. Utilizing the vertical thrusters, she tries to keep things as evenly balanced as possible. The winds are stronger and the waves choppy, but she tries to hold the stick as steady as possible. <<I'll do what I can,>> she calls back to Bami, <<but I'm not getting him on comms.>> Which means it's up to the ECO.
Not quite crashing, but Priya grips her handhold a /little/ more tightly and casts a look back over her shoulder at Calliope. "Try not to toss me, Caprica. You know I swim like shit," she jokes, cracking open the hatch and gesturing sharply at the navel personnel. "Come on! Everybody in!" She'll give anyone a hand that needs it.
The Picon Navy crewers closest to Priya and Calliope were some of the furthest from the cutters, so they happily start clambering aboard the Raptor, despite the danger of the leap to the hatch. In fact, momentum starts to build for well more than can fit aboard the Raptor -- especially if it wants to be able to make atmosphere again.
Cherry remains in overwatch, moving now and then to try to verify the state of the destroyer, watching the raptors work as they attempt to help as many as possible, her voice, not sharp, but pointed, "Watch your loads, ECOs. When it's time to go, it's time to go. As soon as Sealift Actual gives the okay, we'll start offloading the sailors to the cutters and go back in."
It takes a bit, but he's eventually out ther. The wind stiring as much as it does makes the journey to the water equally difficult until he hops back on comms. "I found Fish, but he's frakked beyond belief. He's not dead, but he's stuck in his chute. I'm gonna need a few to get him outta this."
"Roger that, Cherry." Grunting as she helps pull someone up, Priya eyeballs their load and looks towards Calliope. "Soundbite, we're about full up back here," she says, rising slowly to her feet.
Van circles high, splitting his attention between DRADIS and the Mark I Eyeball, keeping an eye out for any further enemies coming in. It's a struggle though, with the appearance of the No. 393 Squadron Cypers and the fact that they're likely still lurking somewhere nearby.
"Nova, Soundbite," Calliope pipes over the comms to Astraea. "We might need an assist with evac duty. We're full up here." She signals back to Priya as they reach near maximum weight. "Get them settled, Sweetheart. We can't take any more if we actually want to get off planet again."
"Holdin' it steady long as I can, but they need help up there," Astraea informs Bami. Her hand tightens at the controls before the switches to the squad comms: "Soundbite, Nova... Will be there soon as we can. We found Fish, but he's in bad shape. It'll take a few."
Another secondary explosion rocks the Ester Williams, hot air wafting back along the decks and into the evac Raptors. A couple of sailors go overboard, calls going up despite the queue onto the cutters. Firefighting teams can be seen getting pushed back from the bow, struggling to contain the blaze and slowly losing ground. "This is Ester," now the woman's voice doesn't sound quite so calm, and the sound of crackling flames can be heard along with the voice, "I am going off the air to head for the boats."
Signalling back at Soundbite, Priya nods and gestures the Piconese soldiers to take a seat. She only hesitates a moment before closing the hatch, dark eyes lingering on the burning ship. It isn't enough time for anyone else to jump on board though. It is enough for them to feel the hot waft of the secondary explosion, ash rising in the air. "We're in place, Soundbite."
"Understood, Ester Williams. The cutters and raptors are retrieving your men. We'll see you on the beach." And then, to the raptors, "Raptors, offload on the beach and heads back. Nova, do what you need to do to get Fish back, we need that raptor."
Calliope flies as fast as her bus can carry her to the shoreline. She doesn't even bother to put down on the sand, just doing more hovering a safe jump-and-fall distance over it, and motioning for Priya to man the doors again. Chewing her lower lip as she minutes tick by.
For a moment, it looks like more Picon sailors will try to jump aboard the Raptor despite it being overloaded, but a petty officer gets between the railing and the crowd, slowing them down until the Raptor can pull away. She turns most of them back toward where the Cutters are finishing their offload, even as more firefighting teams and other critical positions start to filter out from the superstructure, ahead of billowing clouds of black smoke.
As soon as they reach a hover over the beach, Priya is pulling open the hatch and gesturing the Piconese out. As well as yelling it, "Go, go, go!" She unloads them as fast as they are able, signalling Calliope when they're clear and ready to go back for another load. "Ready to head back into the fire, Soundbite?" She asks, sounding almost cheerful about it.
The weary, smoke-stained sailors from the destroyer pile out of the Raptor over the beach, one of them twisting his ankle and tumbling to the rocky beach as he lands, but his fellows help him up, and they move away from the Raptor to plop down on the shingle, watching their ship burn and their fellows evac.
"Frak!" the Scorpian ECO shouts over comms. He goes down, and tugs at straps for what feels like an eternity. Eventually, Bami gets him free, but not without swearing again, but at least he has the decency to do so in Scorpian. When he starts to pull the Timber Wolf out, and back into their Raptor he eventually falls back into Standard. "He's bleeding bad, real bad! But, still breathing. Still alive. Not sure how much time he's got."
Calliope winces as she watches the sailor hit the ground, twisted ankle and all, out of her Raptor. But, he's alive! That'll do. "Ready, Sweetheart. Flight, Soundbite. First survivors dropped off on the beach. Back en route to the ship." And so she flies.
"Frak," Astraea breaths. It's part relief, part for Fish's condition once they're on board. She hits the button for the hatch once they are, dragging the stick to start angling towards the Ester. "Flight, Nova. We got Fish, but he's in rough shape. On our way ta help wit' th' evacs." But they're not down another pilot... hopefully. <<See iff'n ya can help wit' th' kit. Should have morpha at least.>>
Cherry's voice comes back along the comms, "Meteor, patch him up the best you can, Nova, you are clear head in to pick up survivors. You are not authorized to return to the rendevous point." Is she really willing to potentially sacrifice one to save many? Well, we'll see, won't we? Remember your medic training, Bami, remember it well.
The wireless update on Fish's condition causes Van to grimace, but there's still hope, and he keeps circling, watching the evac efforts with as much attention as he can take away from overwatch. Cherry's order to Nova draws a grimace from the Picon pilot, but then he lets out a breath, knowing she's putting one of their own at risk for people from his colony.
The cutters start to pull away from the destroyer, each one wallowing and overloaded as it tries to put distance between itself and the raging inferno overtaking the Ester Williams. There are only twenty or so Picons left on the rear-most part of the destroyer's deck, with the flames now licking over the rear of the superstructure, perilously close to the survivors.
Calliope isn't a prayer, but she mutters something to someone at those reports on poor Fish. She tries to get her Raptor to a hover again, so she can Priya can on-load as many others from the Ester Williams as they can.
Holding on to her grip, Priya eyes the flames licking at the ship as Calliope steers them closer. "Try and get us in close as you can, Soundbite," she requests, securing herself to the ship as a precaution. Licking her lips, she pops the hatch just before they're in place.
"Got it!" Bami's no doctor, but he at least has basic medical training. <<Frak,>> that's all he can keep muttering as he rushes off to grab one of the medkits. His work isn't the best, and he's able to stymie the external bleeding. However, he's still swearing, and it wouldn't much for the Astraea to figure out why it doesn't stop.
Calliope gets her Raptor in position for more evacuation-friendly hovering. Her whole body is tense during the process. "Yell if you get any early warnings of...exploding, Sweetheart, and I'll get us gone," she says to Priya. She'll stay in place for as long as she can and take as many as her ship can manage, though.
"Nova, once you have a full load, head back for the Vanguard, between Soundbite and Slow-Poke, they can manage the last of the sailors that need evac. Milkman, Razor, give me some last minute visuals, let's make sure we haven't missed anyone. Then draw away to a safe distance, provide aerial support for the cutters and the sailors on the beach.
"Nova, once you have a full load, head back for the Vanguard, between Soundbite and Slow-Poke, they can manage the last of the sailors that need evac. Milkman, Razor, give me some last minute visuals, let's make sure we haven't missed anyone. Then draw away to a safe distance, provide aerial support for the cutters and the sailors on the beach." (Cherry)
"Me or the ship?" Priya wonders lightly, ash flicking off the face plate of her helm as she bends to stabilize herself against the wind and the motion of the ship. "You got it, Soundbite." That sounds a little more serious, then she's back in the work of helping to haul sailors up onto the Raptor and away from the flames as fast as she can.
"Flight, Nova... Fish is stabilized, fer now." Astraea keeps flying, ultimately to end up alongside Calliope's raptor. She's mostly balanced and even-keeled. Enough to take on more evacuees. They'll have to make room for the injured pilot, which means a few less that she can onboard. But tough titties for them. The Scorpian wasn't going to leave behind one of their own. "Cherry, Nova. Copy that." And once she is full, she gets the hatch closed and begins to angle away, heading towards the atmosphere and where a safe jump can be made. <<Once you can, make a call to Vanguard so they know we got a badly injured coming in."
Bami's uniform was too clean anyway. Hopefully the rescuees aren't squemish as he waves them onto the Raptor. When the command comes through he stares down at Fish. There's a prayer for the pilot, something Scorpian and animistic before he rushes over to put out a call to Vanguard.
The last few Picon sailors hustle for the trio of Raptors. An exhausted fireman clambering onboard Nova and Meteor's ship nearly stumbles over the ECO and the badly-wounded Fish, but manages not to tumble onto them, just barely. The second-to-last evacuee is a smoke-streaked woman who hauls herself onto Soundbite and Sweetheart's ship, managing, "That's the last of us." Her voice is familiar as the wireless operator. The last follows a moment later, a distinguished-looking man with Major's tabs on his smoke-stained collars, the captain of the Ester Williams.
"Milkman copies, Cherry. I'll make a pass over the ship to spot anyone in the water, then return to high cover. Razor, make your pass over the port side, I'll be on the starboard." He waits until the the Raptors have pulled away, then slows his Viper down, making a pass length-ways along the destroyer, off to one side to minimize the risk of being caught in an explosion. As he finishes the pass, he adds, "Flight, Milkman, no sign of people in the water on the starboard side."
"Good to hear your voice, ma'am," Priya greets, giving the wireless operator a hand into the ship. It's the same as she's done for the others. It's the same as she'll do for the Captain before closing up the hatch.
When the new orders come in, Kell sends off a quick acknowledgement to both Eva and Van, "Razor copies, making a pass on the port side." With that said, the nose of his Viper dips down to the blue surface and his altitude drops rather quickly, knowing that each passing second could mean a sailor that was missed going under and no longer visible. Rolling his craft onto its side and keeping it in that position, Razor allows himself a better and clearer view of the waters next to the sinking ship. "Flight, Razor, I see no more sailors in the waters on the port side, it's clear."
Calliope sticks around until their Raptor is loaded up. And then, she's off back to the Vanguard.
"Copy that. Flight, vipers, clear the ship, move to a safe distance, we will work out with the cutters how to assist them in safe evac. Raptors, return to the Vanguard, we will arrange for the return of their sailors once they have all recieved medical treatment as needed." See? She's totally kind,d and caring...hope you make it, Fish!
The wireless operator slumps against a wall of the Raptor's cabin, offering a weary smile to Priya as well, "Nice to hear yours too, sir." Her own insignia show her to be a petty officer, and her nametag (Picons have nametags, dang it, even if the CF doesn't) reads 'Wiley,' "It was a little dicey there for a moment." The Captain inquires, "Please pass along my thanks to your flight leader and Commander, Ensign." He sounds just as weary as the wireless operator, but still stands stiff and upright as the Colonial ships escort the cutters.
Boilermaker Bay, Tasman, Picon