Colonial fighters attempt to stop a bombing attack on the city of Bransbur.
Location: Bransbur, Picon
Related Scenes: 2237-07-19 - More Product....More Process
Plot: Operation: Cat and Mouse
Scene Number: 288
Down In The Mountains
Bransbur is set back from the water, tucked into the foothills of a high mountain range. The city itself sprawls in the valleys and hills, filled with factories, warehouses, smelters, and refineries. Above the city, the mountains rise sharp and high, a geologically young formation filled with grey-stone cliffs and forests of evergreens.
The Mountainwatchers are a loose group of rangers, survivalists, and nature lovers who have taken to the mountains above Bransbur and elsewhere on Picon where the terrain makes DRADIS warning difficult, and signal the Picon military when there are incoming Cylon ships.
This time, the alert has been handed off to the Timber Wolves, as the raid seems to be part of a series of fighter sweeps and raids evidently designed to stretch the Picon forces thin. Reports are of four plus Heavy Raiders flying low and fast through the mountains with escort in the direction of Bransbur. The problem with the Mountainwatcher system -- besides the fact that the Cylons scoop them up with unpleasant frequency -- is that they are not professional military scouts, so their reports often leave a little specificity to be desired.
"Flight, this is Hawk. Keep tight together and make sure you know who your wingman is." Emrys instructs over comm, as they approach the location they've been dispatched to. "We don't have a clear idea of what we're facing, so let's not get taken by surprise. Word is multiple heavy raiders with an escort."
Aubrey settles into formation on Eva's wing, in the absence of Farmboy and Jigger. "Cherry, Banshee. I have your wing tonight, Mom!" She touches a fingertip to the photo of her extended family, blood and otherwise, stuck to the canopy, a silent ritual.
"Copy that, Hawk. I don't think any of us want to dip our toes too far out into the pool today." Eva does as she says, moving in close, settling into formation with Aubrey, keeping in close to the rest of the wing as they move out towards the point of engagement, "Can't think of anyone I'd like better, Banshee."
Van checks all the appropriate gauges and toggles in his cockpit as he rides his way down through the fire of orbital entry. "Milkman copies, Hawk." As they emerge into the lower atmosphere and flash toward the mountains above Bransbur, the Picon pilot presses his lips together, "My holoband was made here." It's just a little 'apropos of nothing' comment that he probably doesn't even intend to carry over the wireless. He settles in neatly off Emrys's right wing, leaving a little room for the element lead to maneuver, the movement second nature enough that his distracted mind doesn't have to think too hard on it.
It's back to Pitbull flying backseat. He's loud and mildly obnoxious, but at least he's good at his job. That's what matters. Astraea is at least able to tune the Sagittaron ECO out as she settles in just a bit above and to the right of Kell's Viper. When the man behind her at his station finally stops whatever new 'song' he's composing long enough to start reporting to her, she speaks up. "Flight, Nova. We got contacts comin' in. Three heavies wit' an escort of Raiders... Two, mebbe four. Hard ta tell wit' th' mountains in th' way."
Eva's voice is calm and steady, as she hears the report from the raptor, taking a moment to take a breath. She also has a ritual, but it isn't a picture of family, instead it's the small Leonese flag tagged to her console that she touches, "Copy, Nova, let's go see if we can't get a better picture of what we're up against."
"Alright flight, you heard Nova. Focus on the bombers as much as possible. If they slip through while we're messing with their escort it's not going to go well for the city. Weapons hot, move to engage." True to his own guidance, Emrys focuses on one of the heavies as they close the distance.
The three Heavy Raiders are trundling along at exceedingly low altitude, slipping in between mountain peaks rather than flying over there. A pair of Raiders lead the formation, while a pair of Vipers hang back a short ways, keeping just a little altitude over the bombers.
"Hawk, Razor, I copy." Kell answers with his usual brief but to the point responses when the flight lead lets them know the plan for the day. He remains in close formation with the lone Raptor on this mission, knowing that when a mission is to strike out against Heavy Raiders, it will be a pretty nasty fight. Luckily, the Heavies may have plans for their missiles so they may just use their turrets instead. At least the Ensign can hope. When bogeys are announced by their ECO, Kell reaches up to his helmet and presses it down, as if to makes sure it's snug and secure on his head as they get ready to engage.
"Flight, Banshee. Those Heavies will need some softening up before they go down. Is Nova packing missiles or Talons?" Aubrey asks, as she moves in concert with Eva to head for one of the bombers.
It isn't long before Eva, as per usual, finds something or another on her tail. In this case, it's a heavy. But clearly, the redhead doesn't have a teflon ass for nothing, as she manages to evade the cylon on her tail. of course, she ends up not getting much contact, but hopefully a second pass will put paid to that.
Aubrey zips in under the port wing of the Heavy she's chasing and scratches up the wing's paintjob with KEW fire. Barely a scratch. She grunts in discontent. "Have I mentioned how much I hate heavy raiders today?" she mutters over the comm. Then she's banking to one side and upwards as the gunner of the heavy peppers her ship lightly in return, and dodges the incoming fire from a light.
"Banshee, Nova... Always talons. Not gonna be caught wit' my proverbial pants 'round my ankles." Yes, Vanguard Actual, that commentary is just for you. Astraea fusses with the stick as she adjusts her way into combat. She's not quite to her usual flying standards- yet. She does note the raider on her, but she's also relying on her usual hunting buddy, as it were. And in the end? "Razor, Nova... So, what sorta cake ya dreamin' 'bout today?"
Emrys pounces on one of the bombers, scoring a hit to the wing even as its rear gun grazes across his weaponry. "Great job, flight. But we just lost the element of surprise. Stay tight and focus fire on those last two bombers."
Nasty and Wilder go slashing through the Cylon formation, Nasty going head-to-head with a Cyper and Wilder blazing away at a Heavy Raider. Both Cylon ships turn into fireballs, plummeting toward the mountains around them, and Nasty chimes in, "That's right you donkey-frakking assholes. Burn!"
Even as the Colonial fighters pounce on the bombers, another pair of Vipers come flashing out of an adjacent valley, darting straight into the melee.
Eva says, "Such a sweet boy, isn't he?"
When the two forces join together into the beginnings of a furball, Kell keeps an eye on the bogeys that are inbound and soon he picks out the one that is going after their Raptor. He spots the Cypher that is moving into position to engage him and with a quick juke, he manages to dodge the incoming rounds rather neatly. He then kicks his Viper into a tight half roll and does a half loop to come in behind the Raider that is trying to get a fix on Astraea's bird. The maneuver to fall on his prey's six is rather elegant this time and Razor presses down on the trigger stub, his twin autocannons roar to life and shredding the Cylon to bits. "Nova, Razor. Chocolate." Then he's off to find another target to fill with holes.
Van follows behind Emrys, curving away from the lines of tracer from one of the Heavy's turrets and sweeping past the big Cylon bomber behind his element lead. His own KEW-fire is a heartbeat late, the heavy rounds sparking against armor but doing... not much.
"I'm switching out. I'm not getting a hair or purchase on this thing. Maybe you'll have some better luck, Hawk. Going to see if I can clear Razor's tail." Eva moves easily enough, switcvhing off and banking hard to pick up her next target.
Aubrey curls back inward towards the Heavy and fires off her KEW again, but her shots barely mess up the paint. "We haven't even dented this damned thing," she growls, just before the gunner in the back of said Heavy hits something important in the body of her Viper. There's a blaring of warnings across her dash, and she quickly shuts them down. "I'm all right!" she announces over the comm. "Just tickled the landing gear!"
Kell makes a steep angle of attack on the second Raider that is dogging Aubrey's tail, his rounds punching a few holes in the bogey's fuselage but unfortunately, not hitting any critical systems to down it. A quick roll has him buying a bit of distance and he comes in at a better angle this time, then tries to coordinating with Aubrey to get a better shot on the Raider, "Banshee, Razor, trying to clear your six. Break right in three, two... one!"
Another pass, another round of KEW fire into a heavy. This time it's the nose Emrys targets. In return, the tail gun puts a solid round into the hull of his viper. "Cherry, Hawk copies. Flight, we're two for two so far. Let's make it three for three, then we can clean up." His cockpit is lit up with alarms in response to the enemy fire, which are turned off.
"Chocolate it is," Astraea affirms of Razor's request. She's focusing on the Heavies at the moment, but with her own tail clear is able to pick up the speed. The Raptor might not quite like how far she tends to push the frame, but Nova does it all the same. A quick push of thrusters and an angle the birds really aren't meant to go at, but it should help her get a better angle. It's htose bigger ships they're meant to get at. The rest can come as cleanup after.
One more Heavy falls, tumbling into the forests below, even as the dogfight breaks out of the tall mountains and over the higher foothills. The last Heavy pushes all the lower, spraying tracers at its tormentors as it skims just over the treetops.
The remaining members of the original escort keep fighting defensively, working to protect the remaining Heavy as best as they can, even as one gets pegged by Kell and has its targeting computers scrambled by Pitbull. Their own weapons-fire is... distinctly subpar, missing all of their targets.
Not so with the newcomers. The wingbot fires short bursts, forcing Wilder to turn away from Nasty's wing -- and right into a burst from the element lead.
"Flight, Wilder, I can't shake these guys." Nasty breaks away to defend his wingman, "I'm on the frakking goat-lickers. Break left in three, Wilder."
Van continues to follow Emrys on another pass, trying to stay on his lead's tail and dodge defensive fire from the Heavy as well. He's only partially successful, his Viper jolting as it takes a hit to the belly, "Milkman is hit, but I'm still green." His return fire is accurate as he rolls in from one side, blasting into the Heavy's flank and triggering secondary explosions before ripping past. "Milkman copies, Hawk. Still on your five. Will follow your pass. You're trailing something, but no smoke or fire yet."
Eva, at this point, would probably have something funny to say. But today does not seem to be the day, and she simply keeps on the cyper she's been dogging, moving to try to close the distance and, hopefully, give herself a better shot.
Aubrey banks hard right on Kell's mark to give him a clear shot of the raider chasing her. She uses it to line up her own shot on one of the Cypers shooting Wilder all to hell. She manages to graze it's side but nothing more. Fortunately, she also dodges the light raider's fire in the moments before Kell destroys it. "Nice shooting, Razor!"
Emrys jukes to the left to avoid fire, before pouring KEW into the body of the last bomber and contributing to its demise. "Nice work, flight. Let's finish the job and go home. Everybody find a dance partner, remember to stick with your wingman."
This close in, those attacking the second pair of Cypers can see Picon Navy markings on the fighters, battered from combat, but still bright and clear. They buzz around Wilder, but he darts and dodges wildly, frantically -- and mostly successfully. One burst from the Cylon element lead grazes his wing, but that's it. And then the last Heavy is down, along with the last Raider, and all three of the remaining Cypers turn on a dime, boosting back toward the mountains.
Sweeping in after Emrys, Van rolls his Viper inverted, gaining height and angle to send a long burst over the back of the last Heavy Raider, so that the bomber flies straight into the stream of shells, savaging its cockpit. The Picon pilot nods sharply as secondary explosions wrack the Heavy Raider in the wake of his hit, and the Talons and KEWs from his squadron-mates, and it starts to tumble toward the forest, clipping a tree and pinwheeling into fiery oblivion half a mile outside the city limits. Emrys's orders cause Van to glance 'up' and around, studying the diminishing dogfight as he follows the Captain around back towards it, "Milkman copies, Hawk. Will try to pin down your target and drive it to port for you."
The coordination between Aubrey and Kell has the Raider lined up perfectly in the latter's sights, all the Ensign had to do was pull the trigger and he did to maximum effect. The autocannon rounds zip out at the Cylon and its fuselage is completely shredded, the fuel tanks punctured, causing it to explode brilliantly. "Banshee, Razor, nice move!" The complement shot right back and soon enough Razor is looking for more targets. As the Cypers try to bug out, Kell climbs higher in altitude before diving back down and his shots this time isn't trying to light up the evasive Cylon, instead he is trying to force it to decrease its maneuvers and hold still, trying to bracket it with his rounds.
With the last of the heavies down, Astraea draws back to settle more into 'wing' arrangement, even if it'll take a bit of adjusting. "Flight, Nova. They seem ta be headin' back... wherever they came from. No more big ones on DRADIS." Beat. "Yet." She's seen them show up before! They all have. Even so, he woman settles in not far from Razor, lining up on one of those Cypers to try to stop it before it can get back to the mountains.
The trio of Cypers boost toward the mountains, pouring on the speed to the point that they are likely to quickly leave the lone Colonial Raptor behind. They remain just above tree-top level, the remaining wing-pair curling down over the edge of a cliff fast enough to pull loose rocks free and start a minor landslide into the treeline below. The wingbot takes a hard hit from Emrys, barely recovering before it clips a rocky outcropping, but stays on its leader's tail. The solo Cyper is slower, less precise in its flying, but still manages to keep burning away from the Colonial forces at full burn.
"Let 'em go, flight." Emrys' tone is firm, although it's through gritted teeth. "We did what we came here to do, and I'd bet there's a trap waiting for us in those mountains. We'll have other chances to settle with them."
"Copy that, Hawk, moving to regroup. Also, you're still smoking." Eva eases up on the throttle, letting the wind currents lift her up and above the rest of the wing, turning her attention to keeping an eye out for any other enemy targets that might be coming their way, trying to take advantage while they were distracted,
"Flight, Razor..." There is a slight hesitation after the first two words as Kell reduces the thrust of his Viper to fall back into formation, his eyes still on full alert as he is looking around the area, keeping an eye on the open 'air paths' that lead to where they currently are in the mountains, "Didn't briefing mention four plus Heavies? That was only three..." There is uncertainty in Razor's voice but it sounds like he is still worried and those close enough can see the Ensign searching visually, knowing that DRADIS is frakked in these mountain ranges.
Aubrey doesn't even hit the Cyper as it turns tail and runs, and she scowls in its wake. She's about to give chase when Emrys cancels that authoritatively. "Hawk, Banshee. Copy that." She sweeps back around to Eva's wing.
"Razor's got a point. Move to overwatch, but maintain position." Emrys comes back over the comm. "The intelligence could have been wrong, but let's be sure before we RTB."
Van gains altitude and loses speed, falling behind a bit and punching out a brief burst to the starboard of the Cylon trailer at a longer range than he would like. The tracers fly a little too far to starboard, however, and it doesn't even have to dodge, the shells chewing into the mountainside and throwing up a welter of rock splinters instead. He's close enough, however, to see the Cylons' colors, and he grimaces, his voice tight as he notes, "Frakking Number 393 Squadron again." Still, he turns his Viper back as the others do with only a heartbeat's delay, disappointment in his voice as he adds, "Milkman copies, Hawk. Do you want me to make a flyby inspection of your damage?"
"Razor, Nova... We did read four on our way in." Astraea sounds uncertain as Kell brings this up. She draws back on the stick, moving out of formation and into a lower flyover, beneath the rest of the unit. "It wasn't intel. We read it as we came in, Hawk. I'm gonna do a flyover-" And she's already off so Pitbull can run things again. It might be a bit off the cuff. Someone can yell at her later.
"At ease that flyby, Milkman. Let's see how this pans out first." Hawk answers, apparently wary of moving the formation around too much until he's certain.
Eva's voice comes over the comms, "I'm seeing something...bearing 347, north, between those two close peaks. Can any of you check me?" She angles her viper, pulling forward, though she does not move to depart the cluster of colonial ships altogether, in the direction of what she's seeing, "It's not heading towards Bransbur."
"Cherry, Banshee. I cannot confirm. Anyone else?" Aubrey squints, but she's not seeing much past the smoke from her landing gear.
Kell also spots something visually in the northern direction between the two peaks and his worry grows, especially when Eva confirms that the bogeys are not heading to where intel thought they were heading to. "Milkman, Razor, when you flew with the Picon Navy against these Cylons, were they known for setting out baits or traps luring flights out to pick them apart?"
"Flight, Nova... I've got somethin' in th' north, same bearin' as Cherry. Bout two peaks up." And of course, she's already heading that way. Presumably to get a better look. Raptors are recon vehicles as well as SAR, after all. A beat later and Astraea adds: "Pitbull's got DRADIS contact in th' same area. Think we got our missin' heavy."
"Cherry, Hawk. I see something in those peaks." Emrys' tone is measured. And then Nova is already heading off that way. "Flight, form up and move toward the contact. Slow and steady. If it looks like a trap, we break off. Nova, don't get too far ahead."
"Milkman copies, Hawk." Van acknowledges the wave-off of the in-flight check-up, his lips tightening as the reports come in, "Flight, Milkman, no joy, cannot confirm." Van peers in that direction, Kell's question drawing a sour twist to his lips, "Affirmative, Razor." His voice is heavy, pained, "We worked with the Diamondbacks on bait-and-pounce tactics before the Uprising. They used them frequently over Triton."
"Flight, Cherry, moving to cover Nova." Cherry moves to do just that, trusting, likely, that Banshee will move in to settle into position. As well as flying, Eva is also checking airspace visually, as well as using her DRADIS. Mountains are as good as an asteroid field, when you're looking to find places to set up an ambush."
Banshee moves to remain on Eva's wing, trying to get eyes on what the others had spotted.
"Not too far, copy." Though what's not too far in Astraea's book? Apparently it's a decent few wing-lengths ahead of the others because that's at least how far she's been moving, if not more to try to keep the target in sight as it moves between the peaks. Sometimes more, kicking in thrusters if it seems to be going out of view. Sure, she's not going 'out of sight' at all, but it's not a tight formation. Definitely playing it loose with the terms. For the moment.
As the flight ascends the flank of the mountain to the north and noses over the top, they can see a narrow valley spreading out before them, with a small stream at the bottom. Eva and Emrys get a flash of movement heading to the east, away from Bransbur. Kell manages to spot a pair of Heavy Raiders darting around a spur of mountain that would have put them neatly behind anyone chasing after the retreating Cypers.
Though Kell's question may have brought up painful memories for his usual wingman, the Ensign is more worried about this mission right now and Van's answer doesn't alleviate any of his concerns. Luckily for them, they were not chasing after the Cypers blindly and he sees a pair of Heavy Raiders zipping around rocky protrusion in the mountain to the east. "Flight, Razor, I see two! I repeat, two Heavy Raiders! They are forming up with the retreating Cypers to the east."
"Nice eyes, Razor!" Emrys returns. "Alright flight, looks like it was a trap. Prepare for contact, but we're not going into those mountains. Hold positions, and if they come back around for us focus fire on the heavies."
No argument from Eva, as she falls into position with the rest of the wing, keeping a healthy distance from Nova. Close enough to cover her if needs be, not so close that she'll end up either blocking the raptor's maneuvers, or getting hit with a talon. She does not, however, remain pointing towards the two heavies. Instead angles her ship so that she can see behind them. "Copy, Hawk, remaining in position."
Aubrey sticks to Eva's wing, her breathing slowing down as they don't go into the trap, and set one of their own instead.
"Milkman copies, Hawk." Van looks up the valley even as he turns his Viper to join in the circling flight, trying to catch a sight of the retreating Cylons. A flash of light could have been from a chromed ship or from the stream at the base of the valley, and he shakes his head, "Tucking in on your wing."
Once Emrys is satisfied that the city is safe, he comes across the comms again. "Flight, Hawk. Great job out there today. Form up on me for RTB. Milkman, see if you can figure out what's leaking from my bird." And back he will take them, safely home.
It's clear that Astraea does not want to return to base. She's hesitant, watching those two Heavies go off. Just letting them leave. There's no telling what they're going off to do. Sure, it may have been intended as a trap, but there's people out there. For a moment, Nova's Raptor surges forward, but then the thrusters cut back and she hovers. There's frustration clear in the Scorpian's voice over comms: "Nova copies."
Van shifts his attention back to Emrys's ship when the order comes in, "Milkman copies RTB, Hawk. Moving in close for an inspection." The Viper accelerates as the flight starts back up toward space, pulling in close beneath the flight leader's fighter, "Hawk, Milkman, it seems to have stopped now. By the smearing, it looks like it might be hydraulic fluid? I'd be careful landing, but there doesn't appear to be any threat of fire."
"Flight, Banshee, heading back to the barn," Aubrey relays, turning for home.
"Don't worry, Nova," comes Cherry's dry, humorless voice, "This war is the gift that keeps on giving. There will always be another heavy, another raider, another cyper. And endless stream of entertainment." She too, moves her viper to form up for the return back to the rendezvous point.