He Hath Loosed the Fateful Lightning
Summary: Fighters from TCS Majestic escort the first transports down to the surface of Helen, beginning the Confederation offensive.
Date: 2658.008
Related Logs: Writ in Burnished Rows of Steel, Helen Strike Brief

In orbit over the planet Helen, the Majestic and Pretoria have already set to their grim work, rippling volleys of antimatter streaking down as incandescant trails through the atmosphere before slamming into the surface with violent effect. Several plumes of debris are visible rising into the atmosphere already, marking places where Kilrathi installations once occupied. The fact that the craters are visible even from this height says something of the amount of firepower being directed to the planet.
In the fighters of the strike force, a flickering green image of the Wing Commander's face appears, largely hidden behind the his flight helmet. "Alright ladies, we've got you clear up here. Get those transports planetside ASAP, and stay sharp. The kittens would be stupid not to make a play for them. We may or may not be able to send help if you run into trouble, depending on what the situation looks like up here."

Marko watches the transmission and clicks over her comms. "Copy that, Archangel." Descending into the atmosphere, Marko flies point. Fire glares off the nose and windtips as the fritction meets solid surface. "Alright everyone, listen up. I want your heads on a swivel. Keep those radars lit and jamming active. If you think you see something, call it out right away. Better to get the alert out on a false target than miss the real thing. Keep your spacing, too." She rolls her head in the cockpit, cracking her neck.

«Light 'em up, boss» Aquilina sends his temporary (we hope) farewell to Pickett. His Stiletto's hot on Markovic's assigned wing, controls shuddering under the force of the craft speeding through the planet's atmosphere. Burn, baby, burn. «Needles, Torch. On your seven, enjoying the ride. Keeping watch.»

Xiang is in her cockpit, flying high. Or low, as the case may be. They're near atmo-ville tonight. «Needles, Verdict. Copy. Radar's active, eyes sharp.» She flies formed up with Draygo's Stiletto. They're a winged pair tonight. «Swiveling starboard, Razor. Don't worry. I won't dent you.»

«<I bloody hate atmo…»> Pip's voice crackles over comms, sounding less collected, and more irritated than he generally does, prior to combat. A gloved hand slips forward to boost his radar, and the Englishman's Scimitar continues to struggle forward against the resistance it so often avoids. It should be noted that since the destruction of his bright red starfighter, someone saw fit to bribe a tech to paint his replacement up to look like a flying Union Jack. «<Littleman, stick close to Queen, if the shit hits it.»> The Minutemen form their own little triangle adjacent to the Stilleto squadron.

As his Stiletto begins to dip into the atmopshere, Kell can feel the change in gravity, luckily his fighter is shaped aerodynamically so that the drag is minimal at the speeds they are flying. When the orders comes through the comm system, the young Lieutenant responds with an 'Affirmative' to acknowldge the Major's words as his eyes continues to scan to the left and right. He then grins and nods in his canopy before giving Xiang a thumb's up.

"Copy that." As the Wing Commander's face fades from the display for the time being, Thompson looks foward as his Scimitar descends into the atmosphere with the others of the 1087th Squadron. As he watches his displays, his eyes also scan and his head turns, keeping it, as the lead said… on a swivel. Looking here and there, he hears the cockpit fill with his Squadron CO's voice. «Copy that, Pip. I've got your back, Your Highness.» For the time being, he remains in the formation as he should be, watching and enjoying the sights.

Tori smiles at Pip's grumbling, taking a breath as she sticks in the assigned formation for now, heading into the atmosphere with the rest of her new crew. Second fight in, this time around, and here they go dunking for apples. Thompson's comment comes out and her amusement at the joke is obvious in her voice, even on the radio. « Roger. Keeping an eye out, and will try to keep you both in one piece if I can. » Ahem. No jibes there, huh?
James adjusts his throttle and course to assume his assigned postition above and slightly behind Major Markovic's and Aquilina's adusting for the air resistence as he hits atmos smoothly and watches his scanner for any signs of hostiles

James adjusts his throttle and course to assume his assigned postition above and slightly behind Major Markovic's and Aquilina's craft adusting for the air resistence as he hits atmos smoothly and watches his scanner for any signs of hostiles

The two formations of fighters drop into the atmosphere, the friction of the approach causing their shields to flare slightly… though compared to the forces they are designed to withstand, the shields hold up under the burden easily. Following the fighters a moment later, the two bulky transports begin their slow descent towards the surface. A scattering of comms chatter drifts through from the fighters still in space.
"Archangel, Jester. Six inbound, identify as Jalthi-type."
"Copy, Jester. Let's have some fun. Odd elements, to me. Even elements, hold position. Toggle communications to option zero-three, let's not talk over the strike team."
A series of quiet 'clicks' are heard as the various fighters toggle off, then a moment of absolute silence, though temporarily broken by Archangel's voice over the all-call. "Hands up, Kittens. Who wants to die?"
While the drama plays out above, the fighter craft continue their descent towards the surface. The comms screen flickers to life again. "Escort, this is Swiftsure. We're picking up multiple inbound, looks like the Kittens aren't going to give us a free pass. You should have them on scopes momentarily."

"Swiftsure, Strike. Copy your last. Thank you very much and have a nice day." Markovic swaps over channels to address the escort and strike elements. "You heard the man. Weapons hot and armed. Call your targets as you seem them and fire when ready - we are Red and Free. Pip, take your squadron out a few miles to port. Bring it around for a flanking maneuver and score some kills when we merge. Good Hunting, everyone." Markovic slides out a bit away from the Diligents to give them maneuvering room and settles in to high cover as they continue their descent.

«<Roger, Needles.»> Pip's voice calls out a quick affirmative, and cranks his stick to port, and sets off on a new course. «<Minutemen, make course, bearing 150 for 6km. Sharp turn inward upon making that distance, and in we go.»> His own Scimitar settles in on that course, burning hard toward the 6km mark, ready to turn back into the fight upon making the imaginary line he's set for them.

«Copy. Verdict over. Weapons hot.» Xiang's tone is crisp and she keeps things short. No need to belabor that.

«Copy that, Needles. Fangs out.» The glow of Aquilina's weapons tubes is barely visible in this light but they're on and blazing.

«Copy that, Pip. One five zero for six kilos, Littleboy's on your seven. Weapons hot and armed.» Taking a deep breath, Thompson shimmies the Scimitar to remain in formation with the rest of the squad, his eyes continuing to scan about. «Here we go,» he can be heard saying…

James brings his fighter into a postition behind and slightly to port of his commander's fighter "This is Cutlass weapons hot and ready to engage."

At Pip's command, Tori turns her own scimitar in formation, settling in on the new course. «Queen on course, Pip,» is what she says, taking the five, then. Kittens coming to play - bound to happen given all the toys out to attract them. Calm and even at the moment, she keeps an eye on the sensors, before scanning manually, looking for that first glimpse of the incoming foe.

Four Salthi come racing in from below, sheer thrust freeing the fighters from the concerns of 'lift' that fighters of an earlier age would have to contend with. Toggling off dumbfires at extreme range, the craft race in after the missiles towards the transports… ignoring the fighter escorts for the moment, concentrating on the big prize. Return fire from the transports explodes through the atmosphere towards the Kilrathi, though only barely clipping the wing of one Kilrathi craft.

«Bandits, Bandits! Light 'em up!!» Markovic's Stiletto breaks off hard to starboard as the shots come in. Throttles shove to the dentent and her burners light up a blazing red in the atmosphere. She shoves the aircraft through a turn and then pulls back on their targets. The steady tone of a lock comes over her radio call. «Needles, Fox Two!» The missile streaks off her rail towards the lead bandit.

Aquilina sees him some bandits. He's on it nearly before Marko's had the chance to call it out, thumb ready on the trigger for his first heat seeker. His Stiletto breaks away from Markovic's, gaining a sideswipe edge on the Sartha she's gunning for. «Here we go…Fox Two.»

«Verdict. Fox two, hot.» Xiang's tone is absent any exclamations, but there's a whip-like crack to it. «On bandit three. Head aft, Razor.» And so she does, swiveling around to try and get a back-end shot at the Kilrathi ship. Off her missile goes.

The Sarthas are spotted but not before they already had a bead on the transports they are escortin, causing Kell quickly to break to the right while calling out a warning to his wingman, «Inbound, Verdict! Roger, on three.» A thumb automatically flicks to the lethal Heat Seeker missiles and with the Kilrathi focusing on the transports, Draygo is able to bank back and focus more on the Sartha, getting a solid lock on the fighter before unleashing his first missile.

«<Tallyho.»> Pip's single word response is quick, and the whole intercept thing works quite well, as the Scimitar's are finishing their breaking turn into flank the Sartha just as the Stiletto's begin to launch weapons. It is a ranging shot, but a single Javelin dumbfire drops off from beneath his portside wing…«<Pip, Javelin away.»> He must trust his eye, to drop a dumbfire into a furball from range. «<Minutemen, kill the fucks.»>

James turns silghtly to port roars towards the enemy leader while Needles has it distracted opening up with his mass drivers as he's in ran «Cutlass Guns1» he calls as the small peices of metal fly towards the enemy.

James turns his fighter silghtly to starboard and roars towards the enemy leader at full throttle while Needles has it distracted opening up with his mass drivers as he's in range «Cutlass Guns1» he calls as the small peices of metal fly towards the enemy.

«Queen,» Tori says as she turns, sticking in formation for the moment and following her CO's example. She holds a moment longer than Pip before she fires her own dumbfire after his, intending to catch the kitten as it tries to escape the justice of the Union Jack. «Javelin tailing yours, Pip. Let's see who the kitten foxtrots with.»

«With pleasure, Pip. Tally-ho!» Mirroring his CO's battlecry, Thompson's Scimitar turns into the fray, since the intercept did indeed unfold pretty nicely. «Time to return the favor for the broadsiding. I'm on your wing, Queen.» Allowing himself to close into the combat and watching as the Sarthas cut their own paths through the atmosphere, his eyes narrow slightly as he seems to focus on one not getting much attention at all… Until he feels confident enough. «All right. Littleman, Fox one!» Arming and letting loose a heat-seeker from his weapons rack, the missle streaks away.

The result is rather predictable, with four Kilrathi light fighters charging twice their number plus a pair of transports… the Kilrathi shots fly wide of the mark, leaving the valuable transports undamaged, though maneuvering wildly in case one should suddenly discover an aim. Their missiles expended, the two surviving Salthi bank hard through the atmosphere, turning to engage the Confederation escorts, using their speed to pull the fight back away from the transports somewhat.

Marko's missile tracks true and explodes across the body of the Sartha, fragments flying everywhere. She smiles behind her helmet, shoving the fighter high overhead, the distance gowing rapidly. Adjustment back to atmo comes quickly for the Major. She retards the throttle, kicking out her speedbreaks as she comes over the top in a hi yo-yo. Finding the distance, brakes slide back in and she notches the throttles back up as the bandit breaks back towards her. She gets a momentary lock before, «Needles, Fox Two!»

Aquilina's shot is not as clean as they usually are. Blame the atmo - he certainly will. He keeps a lock on that same Sartha as the thing puts itself in prime position to be fired on again, but switches out to guns as he spots the huge crowd coming after it. No sense missiling someone in the face. «Needles, following your lost puppy there. Going to guns.»

James fights down the urge to cheer as two of the cats burst into flames and a missile from Aquilina joins his mass driver rounds in plowing into the lead Sartha which remains flying but is clearly hurt. James shoves his stick forward then pulls it back diving and coming back up to send a burst of fire towards the Sartha's belly.

Xiang banks hard away from their Kilrathi target once her missile goes off. As well she should, as it's hit from both sides. She gets herself clear of the debris without much sweat. «Nicely done, Razor. I think you got his head.» Not that she sticks around to find out, breaking a hard up and right to head for another cat fighter. A little swivel of her wings to her wingman as she does. «Targeting bandit one. Fox two away!» And she looses another missile.

With his and his wingman's missile shredding the Sartha, Kell is elated but keeps his tone in check as he comms his wingman, «Maybe, nice shot though Verdict, we got ourselves a fried kitten.» Checking the sensors, he sees that another red blip besides the one he was shooting at disappears and breaks his Stiletto so he is angled towards the last two Sarthas. Seeing the one he is lined up with making a run for Markovic, Draygo calls out a warning while hearing the solid tone of a missile lock, «Watch out Needles, you have one bearing down on you.»

«<Good kill, Queen.»> Pip's quick to acknowledge that he dumbfire somehow outran his own, and smoked the hell out of their target. «<Pip. Careful. They might be trying to draw us off our charges.»> His Scimitar slows to keep up with the transports, firing a ranging burst of mass drivers at the second surviving Kilrathi, but being careful not to leave the pair of Diligents' sides..

«Copy that, Pip… I'm hangin' in there.» Knowing he scored a pretty solid hit there on that ship, Thompson is eyeballing the targetting recticle and the Sartha as it bobs in front of him. Switching over his weapons types as he bobs and weaves with the enemy vessel, Thompson's eyes narrow again. «Here you are. Right up your -tailpipe.- Littleman, Fox two, fox two!» FWOOMP. The dumbfire missile launches off of it's rack toward the second bandit, and he tries his best to stick with it.

Once the missile is away, and hits tallied, with the red blips vanishing, Tori's smile is predatory, but can't be seen by the rest of the crew. «Thanks, Pip. And roger, hanging back with the transports.» Which doesn't stop her from firing her mass drivers at the second sartha that's left. «Targeting Two - guns away.» or something to that effect as she gets a lock and fires, then drops back towards the transports to continue offering protection.

Hit by a barrage of guns, missiles, and… well, everything except flak, lead Sartha blows apart in a shower of very very small pieces. The final Kilrathi continues to race away from the fight, fleeing nearly as fast as his engines will carry him. Some fights, perhaps, are too much even for a warrior of Kilrah.
"Nice shooting, Escorts. We're resuming our progress towards the landing point. Just don't get too caught up in the chase, would you?" Comes the request from the lead transport as their evasives stop and the craft continue their descent to the surface.

Marko dives vertically at the Sartha, speeds blasting past sound barriers as half-seconds tick by. The missile already loosed, she rolls and maneuvers around the incoming rounds as best she can. G-forces multiply and she groans, pulling out and away just as the trio of missiles impact. "Whoo!" she sighs, throttling back and rolling out back towards the transports. «Pip, Lead. Take the 1087th and pursue to two-hundred miles. At the barrier, return to strike. 221, reform on me and stay with the Diligents.» The Major's Stil slides back towards the transports.

James jerks his fighter to port and dives a little causing the enemy fire directed his way to fly over his fighter lighting his cockpit windows slightly. So occupied he doesn't see the Kilrathi he had targeted expolde but he sees it's blip vanish from the rader so he turns his nose towards the source of the neutron bursts and opens fire Deciding that heading back to postition with a fighter targeting him would be a very bad idea. «Cutlass Guns» he again announces over the comm

«<Roger, Needles. If you'd prefer to shuffle up positions, we can.»> Since, it should be noted, the Minutemen were the ones that stayed glued on the transports, rather than pursue. «<One salvo, it should die.»> Clicking his weapons over to heat seekers, he waits for the growl to increase to SHOOT NOW level, uncaging the warhead when it starts to scream, and pops off the missile.

«On it, Needles.» Aquilina breaks off the chase of the last Sartha and swings the nimble Stiletto around back into formation at her wing. Oh little Sartha.

«Verdict. Copy, Needles. Reforming on your mark.» Xiang breaks away from yet more Kilrathi debris, her turns not quite so pretty as a Stiletto's usually are. Flying in atmosphere is taking a bit of getting used to for her.

«Formin' back up. Good tossle-up, there, I'd say. You doin' all right there, Queen?» Thompson apparently is quite fine with disengaging and forming back up with his flight, taking in a deep breath and enjoying the view of the retreating kitty as it streaks away. He settles back in his cockpit, an audible sigh heard over the comms as he does so.

«Look at that cat turn tail, I thought they fought till the end?» There is a short pause before Kell sends an acknowledgement to Needle's orders as he returns to escort formation around the more important transports. He pulls his flightstick towards the left so that his Stiletto begins banking towards the rest of the 221st as he forms up with them.

Tori is game for a sift pursuit and kill, she hopes. She manoeuvers her fighter into position to lace another salvo with her mass drivers at the fleeing panicked kitten. "C'mon now, let's turn this into kitty litter and get on with things." Is it a trap? The thought flits through her mind as she engages into pursuit. «Queen, Fox three. » she calls as she targets and fires.

James jerks his fighter to port and dives a little causing the enemy fire directed his way to fly over his fighter lighting his cockpit windows slightly. So occupied he doesn't see the Kilrathi he had targeted expolde but he sees it's blip vanish from the rader so he starts turning his nose towards the source of the neutron bursts when the call to break back to join the transports comes. Clenching his jaw to supress the urge to curse at the order to pass on since a perfect shot he brings his ship around to rejoin the formation.

«Littleboy's formin' back up for the persuit.» Forming back up with his squadron's flight, Thompson chews on the tip of his tongue slightly as the Scimitar's shimmied back into the spot where he belongs in the flight. While he's pursuing with the rest of the group, he's not really keen on shooting — he just did enough of that for the time being. He waits, watching the goings on as he follows the rest of his flight. He apparently would rather save his missiles.

As the last Salthi is destroyed, just what it was trying to draw the terrans in for becomes apparent… a burst of gunfire erupts from the planet below, a concealed laser battery somewhere in the forest taking a shot at the terran formation… though its aim certainly leaves something to be desired.
With the Terran forces split, the real Kilrathi strike arrives… six Jalthi fighters climbing up from ground level, two breaking for the transports while the rest move to distract what escort fighters remained.

«Whoa shit!» The laser blasts take the Major by surprise. Obviously. She banks the Stil away from the incoming reach of the incoming rounds. Rolling out, the fighters become apparent to everyone. «Here they come! Pip, shove it up!» She noses over towards the incoming fighters. «First pass, pick your targets, Illuminati. After that, defend the transports!»

Victoria II jinks up and climbs straight up, rolling back toward the dogfight that has begun to develop behind them. Laser fire flits harmlessly past. A quick glance over his shoulders to ensure his wingmen are following. «<Majestic Actual. Pip, here.» A quick click over to the general tactical net, and eyes shift to his sensors. «<AAA site. Coordinates incoming…»> And, the Englishman begins to rattle off a series of numbers, map plottings. «<Kill it. Pip out.»> Afterburners flare, and the Union Jack clad starfighter streaks toward the Jalthi, not near enough the weapons envelope to open fighter. «<Needles? Next time, don't use my people to test the bear trap.»> Annoyance is evident, having suggested before being ordered to pursue that it was a trap. «<Arm Javelins, launch as soon as you hit the outer edge of range, 1087th.»>

Xiang eyes her radar. «Careful, Razor. Looks like you've got one inbound on your tail…and so do I.» She shifts her wings abruptly to come about and face her trailing friend. «Trying to discourage him.»

The burst of laser fire from the ground causes Kell to break hard right before spotting the heavy fighters climbing thorugh the atmosphere. He is able to see one angling in his direction so with a feral grin, Razor accepts the challenge and goes head on with one of the Jalthi's. Once both fighters get within range, he fires off a burst of lethal Mass Driver fire before kicking his fighter into a tight barrel roll to try to dodge any return fire.

«Shit.» Alex mutters under range of the comm pickup. He escapes targetting by the bevy of Jalthis, turning a hard arc in the air and upwards. «Copy, Needles, putting a dent in that one behind you.»

James pulls up to hit the Jalthis from above and locks his missiles onto the wnwmy leader waiting until he as a solid lock then sending a missile arching towards the enemy fight «Cutlass Fox 2!»

Yee-oww, incoming ground to air. She wings away, turning her scimitar around swiftly to return to help with the mission. Tori's finger is on the radio to ask for a bombardment on that site, when Pip beats her to it. That gets a smile on her face as she stays quiet, giving only a «Queen. Copy, Pip.» She keeps an eye out on Little, waggling her wings briefly as they reverse course on a dime. Dumbfire it is, and that she arms, getting ready to fire as soon as she's in range.

James pulls up to hit the Jalthis from above and locks his missiles onto the wnwmy leader waiting until he has a solid lock and waiting for a full lock on the cockpit area before sending a missile arching towards the enemy fighter «Cutlass Fox 2!»

«Jesus effin' Christ!» The throttle is cut and Thompson slips through, his Scimitar sliding and rolling… And doing things that, obviously, a Scimitar may not really -do- normally. As he throttles back up to continue avoiding the fire, weaving and sliding as he does, Thompson curses. Hearing his CO over the tacnet, he doesn't bother to confirm the coordinates… He knows the guns'll ring true, surely. Turning back with the rest of his flight, the Scimitar's afterburner is also kicked in. «Littleman… Copy that, Pip. What a wonderful surprise,» he comments dryly as he rejoins the flight.

"Negative, Pip. Cannot comply. Target too close to landing site. Blue-on-blue fire with an AMG would make this whole exercise rather pointless" Comes the response from the Majestic's communications. "If it poses a threat to future flights in, suggest to neutralize with your flight."

Three of the Jalthi are blown apart by Confederation escorts before they ever have the chance to reach the transports, the heavy fighters having apparently greatly underestimated the strength of their opponents' firepower.

James smiles happily as first Needle's missile rips into the cockpit section of the Jalthi he had targets then his missile slams into the target's wing and the heavy Cat vanishes in a ball of flame. He notices one of the surving cat's manuvering to fire on his CO and swings towards it before unleashing another Heatseeker «Cutlass Fox 2!»

«Splash one!» Markovic calls as her missile impacts the cockpit of the incoming fighter. She rolls hard to port and turns in on the next Jalthi bearing down on her. «Keep it up, guys! Pour it on!» Marko flicks a switch on her throttle and the lock tone alights against the next target as it gets bigger on the horizon. «Fox Two!»

«<Javelin away….»> As he remains untargeted, Pip continues to burn toward Jalthi 6, picking up the fighter that seems intent on attacking his newest nugget. A second dumbfire drops from his racks, and streaks toward the heavy Kilrathi fighter. «<Copy, Majestic. Quite disappointing.»> He really prefers fighting in space, where such things are less important. «<We'll kill that laser site, when these Jarthi are cleared out, 1087.»>

«Hope we're not too tardy for the party.» With his Scimitar streaking through the sky as it continues along, Thompson watches the targetting recticle on the HUD in front of him, pulling up the readiness of one of his remaining missiles on the rack. As the tone's growl increases, the tenseness and the intensity of the approach becomes more apparent. Either pre-maturely, or just -right- on the mark, Thompson mimicks, «Littleman, Javelin away.» The missile streaks away from the rack, now, as the flight re-engages.

«Nice shooting!» Kell calls out to his wingmen as his own Mass Driver cannons find their mark but do not punch through the heavy armor. Gritting his teeth, Razor switches back to the more lethal Heat Seekers and dives down on one of the remaining Jalthi's, the targetting system beeping at him before going a slid flat tone. The missile is launched in an attempt to shake the Kilrathi off of the new XO's tail.

Aquilina destroyed that Jalthi that was fussing its way towards Markovic, and once that's done he turns the craft to go slicing after the next one. «They like your tail today, Needles. Right behind you….and got tone. Fox Two.»

Xiang gets in a lucky shot. Or a particularly well-targeted one. Either one, her pursuer goes up in Kilrathi flames. «Verdict. Got one. Thanks, Razor. Forming back up with you. Tapped on missiles. Guns hot.» She takes a moment to readjust her weapons, then continues her swooping back toward the other Kilrathi craft.

Tori's scimitar swoops back in, apparently catching the attention of one of the Jalthi. She takes a somewhat more evasive stance than she had previously, but still targets, returning the favour and aiming at the cat that has her targetted. "C'mon now, I'm not a fan of that purr, unless it's coming from my missiles blowing up your tail," she says. Weave right, bob left, and then « Queen. Javelin away. Target 2. » The dumbfire drops and races towards its target.

The slugging match between fighters continues, though in just as lopsided a fashion as this whole affair has gone so far. The remaining two Kilrathi fighters turn back for the transports, perhaps hoping to at least salvage something out of the operation by the destruction of the Terran landing craft.

Markovic doesn't bother issuing anymore orders. The pilots know what to do. She rolls hard over the top, throttling back before diving back on one of the two remaining fighters. «Lead, guns!»

«You're -kidding- me.» Watching as his missile essentially gets -nothing- done, Thompson gets a little mad. With his Scimitar continuing to cut a path through the action, he watches the targetting box again as things narrow down and the Kilrathi decide to go banzai and try to go out in a blaze of glory. No, this isn't going to happen. Not again. Instead, he locks in on the most damaged one - the one he had originally tagged - and falls in to try and engage it… eventually, calling out: «He's not gettin' away. Littleman, Javelin away!» Yet another missile goes streaking…

James joyffully announces «Scratch One» As his missile blows it's target to ashes. His joy cuts off when he notices that the two surviving enemy fighters are boring in on the transports and he swings around behind the nearer of the two sending burst after burst of fire towards his targets engines «Cutlass Guns!»

Xiang's guns harmlessly fire in the general vicinity of her Kilrathi target, but do not actually strike it. She comes about, going in for another pass at the thing. Her eyes flit from radar, then up and outside her cockpit, but they don't leave her target for long.

«<Conserve dumbfires, 1087th. We'll need them for that AAA site.»> A sigh, and Pip doesn't bother commenting on the fact his target survived a direct hit from a lethal missile. It is a lucky kitty. A heat seeker drops from his wing, and he clicks back…«<Fox Two»>

Aquilina swerves after Heavy-6, the badly ailing Heavy-2 already having its share of well-trained attack dogs on its tail. «Going to guns.»

The Jalthi seems to be made of sterner stuff this time as Kell's missile blows off a wing but the hostile stays in flight though it's basically a flying coffin with the damage it had sustained from the combined fire. Depressing the trigger stub, Razor unleashes another Heat Seeker at the stricken prey, hoping this one would finish it off.

Tori leaves the damaged kitty for now, deciding the other one is a bigger target. Swift movement, juking her scimitar around to target the bandit aiming at the transports they're protecting. At Pip's reply to tac and the comment to save the dumbfires, she nods her head, finger hitting the radio to call out, « Switching to heat-seeker. Queen firing. Fox-2.» or is that 6?

As the last two Kilrathi fighters slam into the ground, turning to smoldering piles of wreckage, the Transports resume their descent… drawing closer and closer to what appears to be a small villiage, already ringed with evidence of destruction… a burned away swath of forest, a few buildings that appear to have been razed by weapons fire. The fight below, it seems, has already started even without the transports' cargo.

«Alright, that looks like the last of them. Knock it off. Everyone check in with status. Lead is green.» Markovic rolls out her Stiletto and keeps pace with the transports on their way down. She tilts her aircraft a bit to get a view of the situation on the ground as they streak by overhead.

Xiang has to do yet more skirting to get clear of Kilrathi wreckage, tight-lipped within her cockpit as she does so. She is gaining no love for the experience of flying near-ground. «Lead, Verdict. Can't say I enjoy the atmosphere but I'm doing quite fair. Not a scratch.» She turns her head, locating Draygo's stiletto and falling in to fly with him again.

«<1087. Form up. Let's toast that AAA site. Arm dumbfires, and follow me in.»> A few button presses later, and a tac-overlay has been transmitted to his squadronmates, highlighting the Kilrathi laser-array, just in case they missed the location. Jenthson's Victoria II drops toward the deck, though it is a short drop, considering their speed. Once he's within a decent range, his last dumbfire drops from the rack, and streaks in. Defensive fire is ignored, unless it gets rather close.

James watches the heat reading from the Jalthi his has targeted spike as his shots slam deep into the engine systems then mass driver fire from some of the other fighters plow into the Jalthai and it bursts apart in a ball of flame that plummets downward. James brings his fighter back into formation and scans his status readout «This is Cutlass All systems go.»

«Lead, Torch. Perfectly green.» Aquilina likewise doesn't even have a scorch to the paintjob to be fussy about tonight, his stiletto in fine, fine working order.

«Roger, Pip, Queen forming up on your five. Arming dumbfire and let's go make them pay for firing at us.» Tori says. She's usually straightforward and to the point. « And Lead, this is Queen. All Green here.» Just in case there's a question for the 1087th health status too. Not an English accent with her, but at least commonwealth? Does that count? She evades some debris from the Jalthis on her way, falling in on Jenthson's five.

As the combat dies down, Kell checks his sensors one more time to make sure there are no red blips in the immediate area before pushing a couple of buttons next to his displays to call up the damage report. «This is Razor, techs will be happy for once, Stiletto is scratch free this time.»

«Copy that, Pip… Your Majesty, of course… Ladies first.» Seeing that the previous target is now a smoking hole in the ground and scorched fur, Thompson's now free to completely rejoin the fight on the ground. Bringing his scimitar around to get into that 'follow-me' pattern for the bombing run, Thompson arms his last dumbfire and also switches the radar over to Air-Ground. Falling in finally, and forming up behind Tori, he calls in. «Lead, this is Littleman. I'm all green here.»

The Kilrathi battery opens up again as the three fighters approach, several laser shots scoring the front end of the lead fighter. Unfortunately, the firing also gives away the battery's position… and when three missiles converge almost immediately on the position, the result is as spectacular as it is fatal. A small mushroom cloud rises from the ground, the shockwave of the explosion flatting trees in a radial pattern around the small three-ringed crater that marks where the Kilrathi installation once stood.
Meanwhile, the two Confederation transports have finally reached their objective, settling to the ground in the center of the village. Movement is briefly visible among the trees, a handful of small vehicles beginning to emerge about the time both Diligents' turrets turn. The Kilrathi ground attack is blotted out of existence in a blink and a tremendous flash of released energy, a fresh pillar of smoke rising from the burning edge of the forest.

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