Paid in Blood
Paid in Blood
Summary: The TCSF takes on double their numbers in enemies, and victory has a huge cost.
Date: 2657.319 (15 Nov)
Related Logs: None

In Spaaaaaaaaaaaaaace

As foretold by the Almighty Air Tasking Order, Markovic was ordered to lead a CAP out towards the same nebula they had been ambushed from the other day. Its like a party. Looking at the roster beforehand, she even got a good laugh at the assembled crew. Under the flight name 'Intruder,' they all head out for the nebula. Orders for zero radar means keeping their heads on the swivel - no sense alerting anyone else that they will be coming. "Intruders, this is where a few of us got ambushed the other day. Keep your eyes up and your guns hot. Everybody check-in." She can be seen in her own cockpit, helmet moving around to scan the stars even as she calls over the comms.

Aquilina's usual Stiletto is still down for repair to his weapons, so he's in a new bird tonight. The decal that's always on his dash - a flame with a circle and a diagonal slash through it - has been removed from his baby and temporarily affixed to the instrument panel of this one. Launching from the tubes, his afterburners blaze a bright blue and then fade to softer, his voice coming over comm. "Intruder Lead, this is Intruder Two, Torch. Checking in. Copy eyes up and guns hot."

Xiang does not like flying without radar. Verdict is fond of her cold technical read-outs and reports. But she follows orders and voices no complaints. She's not eager to attract Kilrathi attention out here yet again. "Intruder One, Intruder Three. Copy. Guns warmed. Eyes open." She is also in a different Stiletto for this patrol, her beaten hulk from the last one still giving the greasemonkey's fits.

"Pip here. Status green." A pause, and his Scimitar's cockpit dials are dimmed with a tweak of a button, and the Englishman sighs over his comm. "And a bit queasy." As the comm clicks off, there might be the sound of a muttering comment about fucking young people and their need to overdo the drinking. Eyes drift over his shoulder, and he taps his throttle, increasing his cruising speed. "Keep close, Tizona. We can't keep up with these buggers in their hot rods."

«Intruder lead, Intruder five, status..nominal.» Paz calls out, then double clicks her radio to acknowledge Pip's transmission. «Yeah, but we can take more hits than they can.» she adds with a little smirk. "Oh, dear Lord, please either give us something to do, or nothing to do. All I'm askin' for right now. You pick which."

"Alright. As per the usual, someone sing out if you see something that piques your interest. Porn or Torch's ability to keep formation do -not- count." Feisty-ass Needles. She lifts a thumb to the nebula to try and blot out the light, looking for an attack out of the light.

"Those are related you know," Alex's voice comes over the mic. Hangover he may be, but it isn't hurting his sense of formation. Just his head. Nothing to sign out for him just yet, keeping the nimble Stiletto far out to markovic's starboard as they cruise.

Xiang lets out a low chuckle at the banter between Paz and Pip, but such is her only reaction to the Scimitar pilots. She doesn't banter much at all, in fact. She's likely rather paranoid flying without her sensors and her eyes are fixated on space. A beat after Markovic speaks, however, her voice clips sharp over the comm. "Lead, Verdict. I've got something spotted up ahead off port. Hostiles. Dralthis, looks like. I count…" There's a count. As if she's double-checking that count. "…ten, sir. We're headed straight for them."

"Ten? It does sound like a party." The Englishman flips his weapons to active-mode, and calls into his comm…"Attacking target designated Kil-2." And, then his Scimitar is kicking into full military power, and his targeting pip is being used to lead the incoming Dralthi, before he squeezes the trigger and sends an unguided missile toward the Kilrathi formation. "Watch your ass, Tizona. And mine." He focuses on his own wingman, and squadronmate.

Verdict's call gets Paz's complete and undivided attention and she's quick to crane her neck, shield her eyes and start trying to pick up anything in that direction. «Roger, Verdict, I'm seeing something….count ….one…two…» she adds as she begins to pick up metallic blurs zipping up ahead that quickly resolve themselves into the familiar outlines of Kilrathi fighters. «Lead, Verdict's right, one zero Dralthi's ahead. Attacking target designated Kil-3.» she calls, opening her throttles up and swtiching her dumbfire to standby.

"Fucking hell, who shook the hornets' nest?" Alex squints out his viewport, muttering into the mic. "Lead, Two. Going to missiles and coming up on your seven." His fingers flip his guns switches, the colour of his weapons lights on the undercarriage shifting as the ubes for his heat seekers open up on one of the Dralthis.

As soon as Jia makes the call, Marko is leaning forward against the straps in her seat. She strains and noses over slightly. "Tally-ho! Holy-" Engage or breakoff? Engage or breakoff? "Verdict got them! Gaggle of bandits! Left eleven o'clock low! Intruders, you are weapons free! Torch, I have Lead Pursuit! Pip, take Verdict and Tizona on your own! See you on the other side!" Fuck it. She flips the rocker on her Master Arm and waits for a tone. "Intruder Lead, Fox Two!"

Three of the Dralthi's explode before the merge, their remains tumbling across the sky. However, seeing the lead take a kill before the pass, more of them converge on her. The Kilrathi tactic to 'suppress the lethal pilots, then pick the rest off' is out in full force. Two more roll in on Needles as she blasts through the merge, throttling up. She takes some damage but not a lot. "Splash one! Systems still holding together! Kick up the dust, Intruders!" She rolls the Stil hart to port, shoving the throttles up. Two of the Dralthi's can't keep with the turn. One of them rolls off and heads for Xiang. The other for Jenthson.

"Splash one." Matter-of-factly stated into his comm system, and Frethan's Scimitar jukes hard to port to avoid most of the fire directed his way, with a glancing blow from a Kilrathi mass driver creasing the pin-up model of Queen Victoria on his bird's nose. Afterburners are cut as he twists his fighter into a hard turn to starboard, and then cut back on, his firing pip directed at the top hemisphere of a Dralthi that he's chosen to bounce in the furball. Which happens to be the one that just attacked Paz. "Tizona, do you read? Status. Verdict? You've got Five's wing. Select a target, work together to kill it. I have Kil-10" Yes. He's choosing to target one kirathi per turn, himself. And out jets another of his DFs, streaking toward hopeful impact.

Aquilina takes a love tap to the nose that throws his missile trajectory off /just/ that teeny bit much that the projectile sails past its target. "Oh for fuck's sake. Right on your heels, Lead, got your kitten in the crosshairs. Intruder two, Fox Two."

Paz pulls her Scimitar into a sharp turn to port, lines up her dumbfire's crosshairs with Kil-3 and gives the fire button a tickle. The big missile leaps from beneath her wing like a scalded cat, accelerates and strikes her target's right wing with a satisfying fireball. Her face is about to break into a Cheshire Cat grin when her Scimitar suddenly lurches under a barrage of projectiles that send her spinning, cursing fluidly in Spanish as the caution and warning lights on her cockpit display light up like a Christmas tree. «Dammit…I'm hit, but it's not bad.» she lies and starts stomping on the thruster pedals to null out her spin. «Ship's stable..» she adds.."I hope." "Okay, you little bastard….let's see what you think of this." she adds, switching to heat seeker and pickling the missile off the instant it grabs a lock.

Xiang nods with a grim sort of satisfaction as the blackness fill with exploding Kilrathi fireworks. For her part, she fires off an intial burst with her guns. Which barely ping the armor of the Dralthi vessel, as guns are wont to do. A moment is taken to arm her missiles proper. "Lead, Verdict. Missiles ready for this go. You alright there, Tizona? Roger, Pip. On my way." She banks around to form up on Paz's wing.

One more Kilrathi bites the dust, Jenth's shooting blasting a wing clean off. This seems to enrage a few of the attacking Dralthi pilots. Two of the one's on Marko light their afterburners and charge in on her at top speed, cutting lead turns alternating high and low across her high-speed pass to the left. She calls a 'Fox Two!' over the radio as shellfire rakes her Stil once more. Her turn reversed, the Drilathi's gain position. Sometimes four is just too much for someoen to handle fending off. "Goddamn! Pip, I may need some help over here!" she grunts through the G's.

"My regards to Mr. Stalin, Number 2." Aye. That kitty just went straight to hell, didn't he? His Scimitar burns through the explosion's debris, and comes out, already twisting upward to find another target. Yes. Very likely, Marko does not approve of his style, as he has left Verdict and Paz as a duo, and chosen to go it alone. But, he's not hurting, yet, is he? Seeker head in his newly loaded heat seeker begins to warble and chirp as it seeks tone. "Hang on, beautiful. I've got designate Kil-8 Fox two." And with that, his third missile is away, and streaking toward another Dralthi intent on trashing his Serbian friend.

Aquilina loses a second shot to the blackness of space, and now sheer annoyance causes his teeth to grind. Headache or not. "Intruder lead, Two. Giving it all I've got, hang in there. You take out that limping friend in your sights, I'm going to try and cripple one of the others. Fox two!"

«Sassy little bastard, aren't you?» Paz growls as her first heat seeker is turned away by a well-timed flurry of flares. «Here, kitty, kitty, kitty……Heeeere, kitty, kitty, kitty.» She sneers as she waits for her last fish to snag a lock as she firewalls her throttles. "Oh, slowing down from this is gonna be a _biiitch_." she sighs.

Xiang's missile flies high of its target, and the Stiletto pilot angles her nose down as she prepares to take another pass. Trying to gain a better target for her guns. Her gaze whips in the direction of Markovic's fighter, but she sticks to her target. "Dodgy cat. AQuite, Tizona. On your seven. Let's put this one down."

Markovic squeezes off one more missile in a desperate attempt to nail the same one again. She missile loses tracking and sails off high towards the nebula. "Missed! Damn!" She tracks it just a moment too long. Turning back around she's about to become one with the belly over an overly-aggressive Dralthi pilot. She rolls hard to starboard, clipping her wing across the bottom of the Dralthi. Attempting to recover, she rolls a few times. But that's all it takes for the Kilrathi. The Captain bangs her helmet against the canopy -hard- to spot the Dralthi on her tail, only to see them just in time to spot the tracers. "Eject! Eject! Ej-" The transmission is cut off as her Stil explodes in a shower of sparks. The pod spins wildly fro mthe fireball, drifting off into space and away from the engagement with a large crack across the top.

The remaining Kilrathi roll away fro mteh wreckage and seek out new targets.. like that juicy Lieutenant who keeps hitting them. Three of Marko's pursuers fall in on Pip while another guns for Aquilina.

Aquilina's missile finds its target, slamming into the nose of one of Markovic's pursuers and sending debris flying into space. Crippled, it still limps after him as a second turns to follow. The Kilrathi, though, are secondary in his sights as Markovic's Stiletto explodes off his starboard, the force making his small craft shake. "Needles! Needles, you better have fucking ejected or I will shoot myself just to get to hell and kick your fucking arse!" He pushes the Stiletto in a screaming arc away from Markovic's wreckage instead of spinning through it, getting the two on his tail to do the same. Wouldn't do to have her eject and then go splat on someone's windshield.

"Needles? Do you read? Copy?" Pip's voice shows a certain level of concern, even through the communications speakers, but the Lieutenant is not going to allow himself to be particularly distracted, for the moment. "Torch. You've got my wing. I've got wanker 8. Take his nancy 'mate, 9." He apparently is not in favor of focus fire, at this point in an engagement. "Tizona, Verdict. Let's kill the fucking bastard, right?" He is angry, as his language goes from cultured to chav in seconds, per usual. Heat seeker begins to sing lock, and he launches another warhead at 8.

Xiang fires her missile off, on target, the Dralthi ship somehow manages to survive the impact of her and Paz's efforts. Xiang does not swear, but a short sniff is audible over the comms. Die, creature. "Devil's own cat. Tizona, Verdict, coming about for another pass. I'll stick clear of your firing line. She's limping, at least…" Whatever else she has to say is cut off, her breath intaking sharply at the explosion from Markovic's ship. "Pip, Verdict. Did she…can you see Needles out there?" She can't, from her angle. The usuall cool pilot's tone is choked over the comm. She brings her ship around to target for vengeance.

She's a bit on the busy side at the moment when she gets the call about Needles. Turning a full-throttle Scimitar is never easy, turning a Scimitar that's got a goodly chunk of it's flight controls shot to ribbons is well, kind of _hard_! She loses precious seconds as she fights the gummy thruster pedals and control stick to bring her ship in a lolling, drunken Immlemann. «Forget 10, Verdict, I'm going after eight.» she calls. «We'll deal with our one gee-strafe target afterwards.» she declares. Fortunately, her momentum's brought her within convenient mass driver range of the ship that shot down Needles.

It takes a solid fifteen to twenty seconds before the emergency locator beacon fron Markovic's pod appears on the screens. At least the pod still has pressure. Another few seconds and her radio crackles back as the pod spins into the darkness and away from the light of the explosions. "Fuuuuuuck," she grumbles. "I am here. Have a hole in… -craaaaaaackle- …is fucking everywhere. Better hurry."

While more Kilrathi fall, the one's remaining seem just a bit indignant. They swarm off their other targets onto Jenth and all beging waving tracers at him with their afterburners glowing hot against the frozen desolation of space.

"Kil-1, is mine. Everyone else, select a target. Let's frag these arseholes." That is the extend of Pip's orders, as the Lieutenant doesn't respond to Xiang's question, not directly. It is not something to dwell on in combat, and he could hear the emotion in the young pilot's voice. And, as they hear her voice, there is a sigh, atleast inside of his cockpit. Stick yanked back, moderate damage to Victoria is ignored, and the Scimitar wings are empty, as his final heat-seaker jets toward the Dralthi squadron's leader. "Three kills is nice, four would be a delight." Spoken softly as he waits for impact, already juking away from incoming fire, or attempting to, atleast.

Aquilina dodges a shot from the wounded Dralthi, firing a missile that slams the thing straight in the cockpit and causes a beautiful explosion of Kittyparts, his Stiletto careening through the cloud of metal-dust. "Splash one. Watch your arse, Pip, they want a piece of that pretty bad." He pushes the throttle forward, Stiletto gaining a sudden burst of speed as he comes in hot on Jenthson's pursuers.

«Way to put 'im down, Verdict.» Paz calls as she catches a fireball in the general direction of the former Kil-10, frowning as she watches her own tracers tear the living hell out of a patch of empty space a good hundred meters behind her target. Closing the throttle some, she kicks around just in time to watch Pip splash Kil-8 and meeps like a little girl as she finds herself with a viewport full of Kil-5.

"Splash one," comes Xiang's voice, though there's no particular triumph in it. "Was a mercy killing at that point." There's an audible sigh of relief over the comm at the captain's crackley transmission. Ominous as it was. At least it's something. "Missiles dry. Switching to guns. On your wing, Torch."

"Loud and clear, Verdict," Alex calls back through the mic. "Take it down."

Aquilina passes too close to the oncoming Dralthi to get a proper shot off, swearing quietly into his mic. "Verdict, Torch. I'm right at your three, Coming round for another pass. Scissor the fuck out of this thing."

«Christ almighty!» Paz calls, and barely has time to shove her now creaking Scimitar out of Kil-5's way as she depresses the trigger, missing wildly as Kil-5's own mass drivers lash out at Pip. «Pip, this little bastard's pretty determined.» she warns him, waggling herself over like a bloated whale to try and line up a shot at Kil-5's backside.

The pod's beacon drifts to the edge of their scanners, the velocity nearly the same as what her afterburners had been pushing past when the Stil exploded behind her. Either Markovic's out of the small pod's radio range or she's keeping quiet for some reason.

"I'll do my level best, Torch," Xiang replies to Aquilina. "Verdict over. Copy. I've got you." She arcs to port, keeping clear of Aquilina's firing line as she takes aim for another shot with her guns.

Watching his target's fighter impacted by a heat seeker, Frethan growls into his comm, and uses one hand to smack the console. "Fucking, bastards. Why can't they just load my fighter with dumbfires, before I launch? I want to kill. Not gently tousle." Yes. He is a fan of quick kills, not watching starfighters survive missile impacts. Ignoring the incoming fire at his Scimitar, he kicks his throttle back up to max, and concentrates on spitting mass drivers at the Kilrathi squadron leader's already damaged cockpit. "Then be -more- determined, Tizona. Frag his ass, before I have to." Glaring at his scopes…"Torch? You're in charge of tracking Needles' pod." Stiletto's sensors are newer than the old Scims, after all.

"Already got her in the panel, Pip. Don't be a fucker and make me have to hunt yours down too, eh?" Alex gives it one last throttle and zooms up next to Xiang, loosing a missile that follows hers straight into the cockpit of their Dralthi. "Boom, motherfucker." His middle finger might be the last thing some kitten sees, but he doesn't linger. The Stiletto arcs away and speeds back towards where Needles had ejected, com flipping back on as he watches the blip on his screen from her tracking device. "Needles, Torch. Do you read?"

"Copy, Torch. Just stick with her, while I radio for SAR. Intruder flight? Status report." The Lieutenant doesn't relay his own status, as the damage is only moderate, with a few holes, and sparks flickering out of them. A pity his new paint-job got all fucked up, though. Next time, he's having them do it up in scarlet, like a true British redcoat! Silence on the local channel, as Pip begins the process of contact Confed SAR units in the vicinity, so that Needles can get picked up.

«Coma esto, gatito!» Paz growls as Kil-5, intent on dispatching Pip, flies right into the miniature meteorite shower of tracers spewing from her mass driver. Already wounded, the Dralthi's nose erupts in a shower of little fireballs before the space frame begins to rip itself to pieces, fireballing out of combat range before detonating silently a few seconds later. «Doing…semi-fine, Lead.» Tizona reports, frowning as she starts to slow her craft and give her a thorough damage review. The news isn't encouraging. «Just don't lead me into another knife-fight and I'll be okay to trap.»

"Quite so!" is Xiang's rather prim addition to Aquilina's 'Boom motherfucker.' Said with feeling, however. "I'll assist with sweep, Torch. Needles…Needles, this is Verdict. Do you copy? Repeat. Do you copy?" She clears her throat before replying to Jenthson. "Intruder Three well enough, Pip. Took a ding to my undercarriage, I think, but it appears largely cosmetic. Vitals O-K."
Markovic's at the very edge of radio range for the pod. The signal is weak and buried in background static. "Copy five-by-five, 'Truders— .. eed a tow and medic on the double. Losing bl …….. venting. O2 at thir ……… rely read the gauges." She even sounds weak. Wherever she is. But the signal is clearing up as AQ gets closer. "Hope you .. -king killed that son of a— … —or me."

"Copy, Verdict," Alex brings the craft into a slower pass near the floating debris of Markovic's stiletto, keeping track of her pod with his sensors. "Needles, Torch. Splashed all. Copy O2 vent, Pip's got a SAR on its way out right now. Keep talking to me." He leans forward, peering at the viewport and the podshape that drifts darkly into view as he rolls up on it. "I can see you right there…nice arse."

«Thanks for the help out there, Verdict.» Paz calls over the channel as she flips open her kneepad and starts to do a few quick fuel recalculations based on combat expenditure, «I owe you a drink…or three.» she smiles. «Sounds like Needles' gonna be okay.» she adds. «Okay…wow…nice…I won't even need to plug a tanker before we RTB.» she adds, all non-sequitur like.

"We're all accounted for, Needles. Pip'll get you home. Just hang tight," Xiang radios, unable to keep that note of relief out of her tone again. Though it contains an underlying tension. They aren't home yet, after all. Aquilina's 'ass' comment is distracting enough to draw a wry snort, however. "Right back at you in kind, Tizona. Hopefully we'll be back to get to that soon enough."

"Heh," comes a wek or tired sigh from the pod. "Good shooting, Lieutenan-" She starts coughing and the transmission ceases for a few moments. The interior canopy glass has been sprayed with something dark and red - either hydraulic fluid or blood. The crack over the top stretches from one end clear to the other. There's a minute geyser of air spraying where the glass meets the metallic fittings. She isn't moving much in the ockpit that can be seen. It looks like there might be debris floating around in the cockpit, too. Markovic finally comes back a few seconds after the coughing. "Everybody alright? Anyone injured?" Its obvious the Captain is keeping her words slow and deliberate.

"Everybody's alright, Needles. Pip took a couple knocks after you last saw him, but he's just fine," Alex's voice returns over the comm. "You'll be as well. SAR's almost here. Keep nice and still in there, hear?" Pip's in charge of the find and retrieve, so he keeps his pale green eyes locked on the floating pod.

"Incoming blips are a 'sword on SAR duty, and her escorts, Intruder flight. They were in the vicinity." Pip's sparking Scimitar has slowed to a crawl, as he flies a perimeter of the area, trusting the rest of the element to do the same, just in case. "How are you holding up, Needles? You got a good kill, out there." The Englishman's voice is collected, now. Cursing locked down, for the moment, since everyone seemed to have survived, thus far. Eyes shift to his scanners, tracking the inbound SAR flight. They are nearing quickly, with the escorts peeling off to provide more perimeter security, while the Broadsword slows to begin recovery. "They'll need you to give them some room, Torch."

«Copy that, Verdict.» Paz replies, bobbing her head a little despite the fact no-one can see her. «Tally-ho! Lead, I've got the SAR flight in visual.» she calls.

"Pip, Verdict. Copy. Reading them on my end as well," Xiang says as she angles her ship a notch away from Needles' position to give the cavalry any and all room they require. She forms up starboard-side of Paz's Scimitar. "On your four, Tizona."

Markovic looks up to the Stil hovering nearby, lifting her helmet in the cockpit to see Alex. She shoves her hand onto the canopy glass, smearing whatever is stuck to it and even chipping some away. "I am one-hundred percent, 'Truders." The hand slowly changes to a thumbs-up and bangs on the window once more. "Pip, get these pilots out of here and back to the uh.. just get fucking rearmed. How's your hangover Torch?" The Captain can do random, too. She sighs heavily and looks out towards where she thinks the SAR might be.

"Copy that, Pip." Alex gives his auxiliary thrusters a little heat, drifting the craft far enough away from the pod that the Sword can get to work. He flashes Needles a thumbs-up back on the way out. "Hurts like a bitch, Needles. Ready to do it all again. I'll have a good bottle waiting for you to get your arse back out of Sickbay, so make it snappy."

"Fuck that, Needles. You are EVA, possibly injured. I assumed command. We leave when you're aboard the 'Sword, and we can escort you all home. Now, conserve your fucking O2, and be still." Pip's snort is heard over the comm, clearly Intruder flight is going nowhere, until they're sure the transfer goes according to procedure. "Once she's aboard, we'll assume escort formation. Copy?"

«Copy that, Verdict, say, do I have a smoking hole where my starboard aft RCS should be, just up from the tail?» Paz asks conversationally. «Cause it feels like I do…but my panel says I don't.»

"You…do seem to have taken some dents to your rear, Tizona," Xiang has to admit in reply to Paz's question. "I wouldn't trust your equipment too far. The damage might've mucked with the read-outs. We'll get your bird landed soon enough." She also nods at Jenthson's words, despite her nod not being visible. "Pip, Verdict. Copy. Ready to form up on your mark."

The helmet rolls back toards Alex in the dark of the pod. "Good of you-" She takes another long breath. "Thanks. Asshole." She doesn't seem too interested in following orders from anyone, though. Such is the Serbian beast. "Kilo. Mikey. Alpha. I will fucking. Pip. British-" Her radio quits transmitting and a few of them can probably see her throwing something at the console before she leans back in the seat. This is followed by a string a very disgruntled and weak Russian transmitted over the comms.

"She's got the strength to throw things, that's a good sign," Alex comments wryly. He keeps the SAR in sight, pulling the Stiletto back towards the others. "Pip, Torch. Copy orders, returning to formation."

"Any day of the week, Needles. Drunk or sober. Pip, out." His comm clicks off, having made an amused response to her angry demand, and since he doesn't speak Russian, Frethan can't really respond to rest. Instead, the Englishman watches quietly as the Broadsword slows to a stop, and engages its tractor beam, beginning the process of loading the EVA pilot aboard. "Tizona? Have we discussed with the elite regulars just what it means to continually get shown up by a fucking weekend warrior?" Amused banter re-enters the comm traffic, trying to distract the flight from the unsettling imagery of their comrade being evac-ed.

«Hey, no worries here,Verdict…Just curious, was all. Scim's designed to take some heavy hits and still come home.» she replies, her proud grin evident. Top gun of the fight, not by a long shot, but still in it, goddamn it! The young 2nd John reservist continues to make lazy circles around the SAR until Pip gives the order to do otherwise. «Copy that, Lead.» Paz chuckles. «Just because the toys are pretty doesn't mean they're worth a damn in the sandbox.»

"Weekend warrior?" A snort is audible over Xiang's comm. "Pip, Verdict here, and I'd rather follow your lead into Kilrathi territory than…" Pause. Edit. Ahem. "…well. Than most. Quite glad you're on our side." She mirrors Paz's lazy circles with smaller, sharper turns, staying with the Scimitar.

The Captain doesn't make any more replies. She doesn't even move in the cockpit anymore. The Broadsword pulls her pod aboard after a bit of careful maneuvering. Its stable for a few seconds before the thrusters fire suddenly. It wheels back on a direct return heading for the Majestic and the burners light-up right away, rocketing the boat away quickly. "TCS Majestic, Sandy-Six-Four," the Broadsword calls back home. "One pilot recovered. Critical condition. Golf-Sierra-Whiskey to the chest and leg. Have medical meet us on the recovery deck. Speed is buster. ETA is eight mikes." The Majestic gives a confirming reply and comms from the two ships fall silent. The Broadsword's throttles never leave the firewall.

Uncertain how much attention Alex is paying the comm versus the SAR. His eyes are definitely still watching his viewport, brow slightly tense and mouth in a thin line. Another day, the banter would probably elicit more than the grunt it receives. "Ya prastitye, Needles," is the last thing he directs towards his EVA'd Captain, in an unusually quiet voice for him.

"Intruder Element. Escort Formation. Mark." These orders are given quickly, and Pip's Scimitar shoots off to join formation with the SAR Broadsword. "Victory formation, once we're among the fleet. For Needles." And, that is the cocky Englishman's way of honouring the critically wounded Serbian that he's become quite fond of, much as he has the majority of the pilots on the Majestic.

Paz double-clicks her radio and falls into formation, drawing her beat-up Scimitar in line as the flight heads home.

Recovery Deck

The Broadsword pushes a -very- hot approach to the Majestic, breaking the maximum speed rules coming down the flight deck. It touches the skids down just outside the energy barrier and it slides to a halt with the reverse thrusters firing until it hits the atmosphere inside the ship. A well-practiced SAR crew, the ramp is knocked-down to the deck in a shower of sparks before the Sword even stops. The medical crews dash for the ship with a gurney. They aren't even inside more and a few seconds before Captain Markovic is on the wheeled bed. Techs are scrambling with IV's and an oxygen tank, calling out what she's had on the ride back home. She is pretty-well coated in blood, though. Her suit has been sliced right down the front by a medic's knife, exposing the nasty wound to her chest and the one on her right leg. The Serb is a complete damned mess. Probably a blessing she is unconcious for this much pain.

Victoria taxis into the recovery hangar, and as soon as his crew chief has the ladder up, Pip is scrambling out of the mass-driver creased fighter, and moving toward the medical team and their work, though clearly not intent on getting in their way. Eyes shift toward Aquilina as he sees the Illuminati Lieutenant, and after a visual check confirming his well-being, the Englishman is once again focusing on the formerly EVA Serbian.

Xiang touches her Stiletto down and is out of the cockpit not long after Aquilina. Helmet off, though she doesn't even try to wipe the sweat from her face. She intakes a breath sharply at the sight of Markovic, raising one hand to her lips. "Cao…" she hisses in an undertone.

Tizona's trap is a bit more…complicated, but she manages to stick the landing without scraping too much deck away as her gummy controls deny her of any fine control over her ship. Skid, _screeech_, _thump_ and Tizona's bird is aboard. Her crew chief is standing by, jaw muscles clenched. "Lieutenant….what did you do to my Scimitar?" he growls, fuming.

Aquilina's arm drapes over the helmet braced against his hip. One brow raises, eyes briefly skimming the hangar deck for the other conscious faces that he went out there with. They pause on eye contact with Jenthson, then flicker to Paz and finally Xiang. Then back to his Captain. Clearly he's not going anywhere until she's been taken off by medical.

"She's got a collapsed lung from this hit," the attending tech calls who was on the Sword. He points to the one on her chest as they rise up and begin rolling her towards the Recovery Deck and off the ship. "Looks like a through and through from this hit on her back. The one on her back is cleaner than this, though, but the bleeding keeps coming and going." They pay no attention to the pilots standing by as the begin shoving equipment out of their way. "We've got a pressure bandage on her leg for now." Passing by, the blood has matted her hair and entire uniform - whatever is left of it and hasn't been cut away - which isn't much. "She coded on the way in. Shot her with adrenaline and we've had the plasma going the whole time. Got her back after-" the man's voice fades as the team bolts as fast as they can across the deck with her. One of the medics, blood up to his elbows, comes out and heaves a sigh, nodding to the assembled group.

Paz fishes her rosary from underneath her flight suit and gives the crucified Christ a slow kiss, bowing her head to pray as she watches the badly wounded Marko wheeling by. "Cram a sock in it, Chief." she says sternly. "You wanna worry about someone, worry about _her_. Save your bitching for the enemy." she adds tartly enough to make the man take a half-step back and shut his mouth, mid-lecture, hard enough to make his teeth clatter. "Come on, Needles….you may be a bitch and three quarters, but don't you die on us."

"She'll make it, pilots. She's still got some english metaphors to learn. She'll be back to kicking our asses in no time." These words are spoken firmly, as if Pip is completely convinced of it, watching the medics wheel her across the deck, arms crossed over his chest, eyes shifting back to the three pilots left walking after their patrol. "You will not be caught anywhere near sickbay, until word comes down that she is stable, and able to receive visitors. Is that understood?" And, for a moment, there is a flash of something long suppressed within the First Lieutenant…speaking to these pilots, two of whom are not his subordinates, and are equal in rank. "We're -all- worried, but duty must be met. Ours, and the medical staff."

Xiang meets Aquilina's gaze briefly, before her eyes drop back in Markovic's direction. She keeps herself out of the way of the medics, at least. No prayers from her. Nothing verbal, at least. She does claps her hands tightly around her flight helmet, but it seems more just to do something with them than anything else. Her lips purse, but she nods shortly to Jenthson. "Understood. Yes. Quite. Most prudent."

"Couldn't drag me down there, Pip. I hate that fucking hospital smell." Alex's voice is a little overly gruff. He pulls the helmet out from under his arm, turning away from the spectacle to give it a hard shove back where it belongs.

"Who's the CO here?" the medic asks, waving a bloody, gloved finger between the assembled. "She's in bad shape in case the wasn't obvious. The Captain took a pair of hits. One of them entered somewhere around her left kidney. We don't know if she can keep it. Whatever it was rattled around, bounced off - we think - of her esophagus. Took out her right lung. We intubated her. She flatlined on the way in but we were able to get her back. That leg wound looks pretty nasty but it didn't hit anything major. If it had, likely she would have been out before we got there." He holds up his hand again. "And I have no idea. She's heading to surgery. No idea how it looks long term. I'm just a medic."

Paz drops her helmet back into her plane's cockpit wordlessly, nodding to her ground crew. "I'd apologize, but it wasn't my idea." she tells them simply. "Like I said, worry about _her_. This bucket." she smirks, elbowing her ship. "You can weld back together easy-peasy." she adds. Pip's words elicit a little frown. "Pompous much?" she asks herself, shaking her head.

"I will have you know that I am English, Paz. I am -made- to be pompous." A tsk, to lighten the moment, and then Frethan's attention shifts back to the medic. "I was in command of the patrol element. I will have to do." Fully focused on the Medic, he tilts his head, studying the man for a short moment. "Thank you for the report. It would appear that she is lucky to have made it." Eyes move back the assembled pilots, and he smiles reassuringly…"Luck, Napoleon frequently assured, was the most important quality of any combat commander. You will be in good hands, once she is back for flight duty."

Xiang stows her helmet as well, taking a deep breath, muttering a few more things under it in what sounds like Mandarin as she does so. That done, she just crosses her arms beneath her breasts and takes a moment to collect herself.

Aquilina unzips the neck of his flightsuit, pulling a lone, battered cigarette out of his front T-shirt pocket. Medics having taken Markovic away, he turns on his heel without another word, starting for the hangar exit. The cigarette's lit just barely out of range of dirty looks from the deck crew, which go ignored.

The medic nods to Jenthson a few times and peels off his gloves. "It takes more than luck to survive, Lieutenant. She nearly punched one of my medics when we tried to intubate - and she was choking on blood. The woman is a hellfired bitch." He reaches into a pocket and pulls out a small cross on a necklace that is covered in blood. He lets the crucifix dangle on the leather band, hanging front of everyone. "We nearly sliced this off of her. She didn't have any other personal affects. Who's taking it for now? I need a name for the records."

A glance at the medic, and Frethan purses his lips glancing around at the pilots, clearly not sure whom she is closest to in her squadron. Eyes shift to the most even-keeled of the pilots(Xiang), and he asks…"Who do you think she would want to carry it for her, Jia? I sure as hell don't know her well enough to make that call." A finger is held up toward the medic, asking the man to wait for a moment, while an answer is forthcoming.

Xiang clears her throat before replying to Jenthson. Composure clamped in place for the moment, at least. "I…see seems closest to Captain Korsakov, sir. They've known each other for a very long time, I gather. I think she'd prefer it if he…at least until she's able to reclaim it herself. I can deliver it to him."

The medic just holds the crucifix out for one of them to take, grip firmly on the leather chord until someone gives him a name and rank. And actually takes it.

"Captain Korkasov will have it, lad." A nod toward Xiang to take the crucifix, so that the medic can be on his way…though Pip does add…"If you, or any of your crew find yourself at the F&L, drinks are on me. For as long as you'd like. Thank you for doing what you could for our comrade." An appreciative smile, and he falls silent, waiting for this depressing business to be completed, so he can go start on post-mission paperwork.

Xiang takes the crucifix from the poor medic, winding it gently around her fingertips. She can't quite hide a wince at the blood. "I think I'll skip the First and Last tonight, Pip. But thank you for the offer. I should…" She gestures vaguely with the cross.

Aquilina is long gone, off into the wilds of the ship. To do what, who knows.

"Right, sir. I don't give a shit who takes it after either one of you. I just don't want to be responsible for losing it if she wakes up and its gone." The Medic reads her nametag and takes the name down on a pad that appears from his pocket. "Lieutenant Xiang Jia. Okay. I've gotta haul that mess of a pod of the Sword so do me a favor and clear this area. Sirs." The enlisted man gestures with his hand away from where he is and moves back up the ramp. "Hammond!! Get me a pressure washer and a bucket of ammonia!"

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