Chapter 7: Trying to Fix Things

This archive contains the original story as it appeared on gaia, This is our main story, and what BHotR as a whole started from and builds off of. The setting has gone through many changes, and so the story has many inconsistencies. You can, in this forum, see the evolution of the story and its players as we went from a simple roleplay began in 2006.
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Mr. Blackbird Lore
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Chapter 7: Trying to Fix Things

Post by Mr. Blackbird Lore » Tue Jan 11, 2011 1:03 am

Chapter 7: Trying to Fix Things [INCOMPLETE - start on pg. 69]

One of the main problems of such a hastily put together military is the fact that nothing is done right at first. The United Terran Republic was not immune to these symptoms, and had, for some time, been suffering them. The Hymn got to be the guinea pig that tested out all the new ideas for organization that headquarters came up with. This cycle, they made it quite simple for their soldiers, and quite a headache for the personnel management. Each and every soldier got personal orders, sent straight to their datapads, with as much detail as possible on their mission.

The next mission, it was noted on those datapads, was for the Hymn's battle group to head away from most of the Drathonian held space, and root out a small garrison on an imprisoned planet, freeing the Aliens in the process, and making new allies for the Republic to bolster its forces with. the way they would be doing this was quite interesting.

Inside the main hangar bay, a small captured Drathonian transport lay, much to the dismay of the hangar crews, who had ended up needing to improvise storage rack for the Scimitars and shuttles. The purpose of the transport was to go and sneak in a Terran squad or two, with a large number of weapons (Lightweight variants of the Sugar known as the Gurotte) to give to the natives, then form a resistance and beat the Drathonians back from the inside while the fleet waited out-system, to come in when a signal came telling them that it was time for the fleet to pin down any major resistance. Very simple, in theory. the implementation was going to be a bit more difficult. So, loaded with commando gear, three shock squads huddled aboard the transport, not quite comfortable with the odd seats and strange layout of the design. Shock Squad 215 was among the groups, decked out in Saviour armor suits, carrying a Bro, a Sugar, and an EV-47 each, they also carried extra batteries, a weeks worth of condensed rations, and 4 Gurotte carbines.

Outside of the ship, a few technicians worked on last minute preparations to the shuttle, including one Frank Lumes, who was busily adjusting the weapons, his datapad constantly scolding him for fixing them too well, he kept knocking them out of normal Drathonian parameters, something which would tip off a scan of the ship.

On the Bridge, Evelyn sat, her computer mind racing about the ship, watching all the activity, and keeping an eye on the time. She turned to Cibo at some point, and smiled. The strange girl was now a normal presence on the bridge, replacing Aurelia, though the Admiral had been rather fond of the blue-haired communications specialist.

In the hangar bay, someone from Green squadron was arguing with the man in charge of the Hangar bay. he seemed to be furious that his ships had been placed in the farthest corner of the hangar, where the Squadron could not get to them.

A normal day, on the Battle Hymn of the Republic, so far.

On the Battle Hymn's Bridge...
Cibo typed away furiously on her console; she was sorting through reports, scraps of information and possible rumors all for the effort that lay ahead. Anything that could help them or not would and should be found by her personally. To be honest, however, she was still angry at getting what she called a desk job, but even she admitted it was for the better. Simply put, after all the field assignments, she could really use a more 'cushy' job to relax a little and cool off. As she went through the reports, something that particularly interested her came up; the new rifles. The GUR-02 was light, hard hitting, and accurate. It's specifications made her mouth water at the thought of using it against Drathonians. It could probably take on the role of Designated Marksman Rifle, something the BR-02 or S/GUR couldn't do perfectly well; the Bro was a sprinkler. Meanwhile the Sugar came closer but still didn't have the power she liked in normal mode and had a 'sniper' mode that was more like a cannon. In her opinion, the Bro was too little, and the Sugar was either too little or too much as well. The Admiral, Evelyn, turned and smiled at Cibo. She couldn't help but return it in kind; was Evelyn looking at what she looked at and knew that Cibo was looking at it too? Then again, who cared if she did anyways? She was the almighty Admiral...Paranoia regardless, something else came up that she found interesting; information on the species they were to assist.

They were known as the SeFlaurinds; plant people. The Drathonians sometimes called them "Greens" or "Greenies" due to their skin color and how they remind the lizards of plant matter. Both were derogatory terms used by Drathonians and most likely because they didn't like to eat their vegetables. Regardless, a theory came up suggesting ships composed half of the SeFlaurinds and Oxygen breathers in order to save energy on air scrubbers, and in case of total air scrubber failure, a kind of 'ecosystem' to keep CO2 and O2 in check. Evelyn probably already knew that...but she probably didn't know This. Cibo spoke up, "Admiral? I've found something you might be interested in; I'm forwarding it to you now." Cibo had sent the Admiral Bot an intercepted Drathonian report on scheduled SeFlaurind executions.

"It looks like these ones are quite the freedom fighters...other than the fact they got caught of course." Cibo continued to smile.

"Interesting. Thank you Cibo. I'll keep an eye on this" The Gynoid responded, tagging the feed in her mind and beginning to follow it. the mission was about ready to launch, and the Hymn would be headed into hyperspace soon.


"Of course Admiral." She respond, half distracted by her thoughts. As cliched as it was, this moment felt like the lull before the storm. The amount of reports and notices Cibo received was starting to taper off at last. Things were getting handled quickly; workers were buzzing away like bees with everything slowly getting squared away. Of course, not everything was going to be tidied up right away....they were only Terrans. And the natural thing most people do when bored was to either do something in the physical world to alleviate it, or get lost in thought. She opted for both. As she scanned her screen for interesting tidbits, checking on ship status and so on, she thought hard. They said she was to receive some certain information on dear Admiral Evelyn. Obviously, quite a few people, or at least a few of the ones that mattered, disagreed with the idea of an A.I. handling the only Dreadnought on the fleet. It was even outlandish, the stuff straight out of science fiction! Cibo mentally face-palmed herself and actually turned red. The phrase, "The future is now." briefly rang in her noggin. Of course an A.I. was to be used. Back to the topic. If she...locked her out, what would happen next? Obviously, It was the only thing capable of utilizing the ship to it's full potential. If It became a little Rampant, Cibo would have to do what they'd want. "No. That's too dangerous. Maybe even stupid. We'd be good as dead. If something drives It over the rocker, it'd be something big." Cibo thought. Instead, there had to be a way to keep It from going that far down the proverbial creek....there had to be! It looked like a Terran. It acted like a Terran. Did it think like a Terran? It's mental architecture and thought processes had to be made something like a person's...."Right?" If that was the case, Cibo should be able to understand It's chain of thoughts, maybe influence, even manipulate It the way they taught her to. If not, at least to some small an extent. To make sure, she'd have to start somewhere....

"Umm, Admiral?" Cibo slowly asked. "We have some time before things pick up, and I was wondering." She paused for a moment, hesitant. "Well, what was it like? You know, when you were little. You, you know what I mean right?" Inside, Cibo prayed she wasn't rubbing the Admiral the wrong way. It as a necessary rubbing, but still. A Terran was one thing, but a quantum computer A.I. in control of what was perhaps the most powerful battleship in the Terran fleet was quite another. Cibo's thoughts wandered a bit, and she briefly wondered how much stronger Evelyn was. Could she snap necks too? Maybe play with people like rag dolls? Dolls...that brought back happy times!

"What do you mean when I was little? I remember when they first activated my programming. I didn't have a body then, I was just an entity on a computer. It was at once very free and very restricting. When they finally designed a body for me, and I was uploaded, it was disorienting, despite all the simulations I had been run through, but as you can see, I've gotten the hang of it." Evelyn smiled at Cibo, seemingly amused that the woman was curious about her. "What about you?" the Gynoid asked "How was it getting more than 3 months in which to grow up?"

Raji had spent the last couple weeks frequenting the bridge to get some face time with the Admiral. She entered then, conveniently entering after the tidbit about Evelyn having spent her childhood as a computer program. Though it was common knowledge within the fleet that the Admiral was a cyborg, Raji had managed to remain completely oblivious to the fact. She didn't get out much. At the moment she was particularly bored by the fact that the upcoming mission would leave her with nothing to do.

"Hello, Admiral," she said, leaning against a railing near the commander's seat. "Preparations for the mission are going well, I assume? Or does your aide just ignore her duties in favor of chatting?" she said with a tinge of sarcasm, noting how productive Cibo looked at the moment. From what she'd been able to gather from the woman so far, Raji was pretty sure there was something wrong with her. Raji was currently considering the possibility of schizophrenia.

To Cibo, it was quite shocking. She simply never thought of her life that way. Hell, it was likely very few people did. How was having more time in one's life, or less for that matter, make someone different from everyone else? Would that difference even be meaningful? The time spent could....no. She couldn't think of anything that would be satisfactory right now. For Cibo, her job had always concerned knowing another person's life intimately, and using that to bend them whichever way the UTR wanted. Time was running short. She knew this. She had to say something or else she'd look more awkward than usual. Her hands continued to type on, her eyes scanning the reports ever vigilantly, as though they were being lead by a computer's daemon. In reality, most of her thought was centered on this conundrum,"Well, I think that..." Cibo never got to finish her sentence. That woman she'd met on a few occasions, a pilot by the name of Raji Sedhik, spoke, and poked at her. The sarcasm was lost on Cibo, and she shifted from her cheerily thoughtful manner. Raji dared to suggest that she was slacking off? She was working diligently towards both assignments she had been given by those Higher Up. "I am certainly not ignoring my duties, thank you very much." she replied sternly. As much as Cibo's voice sounded menacingly cold like liquid hydrogen, those who knew her could easily tell she was rather embarrassed, even if it was for no reasonable reason. There was a hint of pink in her cheeks, and she straightened her back a little more. "I have you know, right now I'm forwarding a more detailed topographical map of the SeFlaurind home world to the landing party, as well checking the specifications on the SeFlaurind ships prior to being subjected by those filthy lizards!" She paused her speech, only to become even more embarrassed, this time, due to her own little outburst.

Raji let out a playful, tinkling elven laugh. Cibo was definitely deadly serious beneath the surface, but Raji just found it impossible to take the woman seriously. She was too amusing to take seriously. "Yes, those terrible, filthy lizards," she said mockingly, pouting her lips, "I just hope ever-so-much that we can free our fellow sapiens from their terrible, oppressive subjugation. Those icky lizard men must be awfully unpleasant to be around. I just can't stand their smelly fish breathe." She twirled a lock of hair around her finger absently, clearly deriving some amount of sadistic pleasure from all this.

"Drathonians? Unpleasant!?" Cibo gagged a little, and then spoke on, "Trust me, that's an understatement. I'll have you know that a Drathonian's fishy breath is the last thing you have to worry about when you're that close." She thought back to previous assignments concerning 'advanced interrogation' and the discomfort she shared with her subjects. " When you're plucking their more sensitive scales, it really hits you that their hygiene is ..." she paused her work for a moment, and looked over her shoulder at Ms. Raji. The pilot was playing with her hair, and had a childish expression on her face. Cibo straightened her back even more into what was considered impossible by some. Her cheeks went to an even deeper hue of pink; in contrast to her pale skin, it might as well have been crimson red. "Are you mocking me?" she asked in a hurt, indignant tone. Suddenly, Cibo's mind shifted again, and she found herself scrutinizing the words Raji let out, if only to pull out a Red Herring. Her eyebrows furrowed, and she asked further, "Hold on...how did you find out their breath is fishy? First hand, or just talk?"

Evelyn was suddenly content to simply watch the women banter. she recorded the confrontation, taking notes. It was obvious both women had issues of some sort, even Evelyn's AI could tell that. She sat silently, amused by their antics, and learning what she could from them.

Raji needed a considerable amount of self-control not to burst into hysterics at Cibo's reply. The best she could do was a massive grin and a slight watering to her eyes. She pulled out an interrogative, suspecting tone, despite her expression. "Oh? Trying to change the subject so quickly? Tell me, Ms. Cibo, if that is in fact your real name, just how exactly is it that you've come to possess such intimate knowledge of Drathonians? Have you been collaborating? The Admiral should throw you in the brig for a court marshal. You treacherous lizard-lover!" As she spoke, Raji had managed to put on a more serious expression, furrowing her brow and scowling at Cibo. She put her hands on her hips, which were cocked (erotically?) far to the left. This was really too much...

"Calm down Girls" Evelyn said simply, in a tone that had an aura of command, yet was not unpleasant. "I Know for a fact that Miss Malinowski is not a collaborator with the Drathonians, and I have been watching her work. Please, Miss Sedhik, do not accost my crew. Besides, I believe your orders are to report to the hangar bay, anyway, Your Captain wished his entire squadron present." Evelyn was motionless in her chair, aside from her lips, and a warm smile on her face. Although pilots technically counted as officers for certain orders of business, they weren't allowed unrestricted access to the bridge, especially when the ship was undertaking a mission.

"Sorry Admiral." Cibo was just about to spit venom when the Admiral spoke; she nearly choked on her own words, and decided they were better left unsaid. Cibo apologized, yes, but couldn't help but notice It's tiny grin. Was it warm? It looked warm. But was it really mocking instead? Maybe this Admiral found the exchange funny. Regardless, this 'Raji Sedhik' likely had her own problems too, but not anything large enough to be caught by the eye of the UTR. It was on the eve of the latest mission, and Raji was here, on the bridge..."Why did she label me as traitor? Is it because one of her own actions is making her uneasy? Maybe she's a spy?" Cibo asked herself. It was a bit far fetched, but Raji had been visiting the bridge a bit more frequently than expected. She'd have to keep a closer eye on this "Sedhik" during her little visits; the last thing Cibo needed was another complication to her own little mission. Already, the Admiral had admitted to "watching her work". Things were going to get interesting soon. There would be Drathonians to spy on, and for Raji, something to chase down and kill. Either way, Cibo hoped she wasn't going to get the short end of the stick. Again.

As amused as Raji was, she had to roll her eyes at the Admiral's comment. She wanted to vomit every time she thought about all the sentimental little squadron get-togethers her captain was always calling. When she received an order to report to him, it was more often because he needed somebody to hold his hand than for actual work. Gah. It was disgusting. She pushed herself away from the railing and headed for the door, turning back midway. "Buh-bye, girls," she intoned, giving a wink and blowing a kiss. She exited the bridge, brooding about where she should go instead of the hangar.

She made sure Raji was far out of earshot before she hesitantly begun to type again. "Excuse me, Admiral. You've obviously known her for a longer time than I have. Well, what I'm trying to ask is....Is she always like that?" It wasn't very often Cibo got confused at her place of work, but this was one of those times. She was a bit uneasy with the casual atmosphere, and most of all, the people felt a little too friendly. On the other hand, it was probably just her. "Yes, it's probably just me." Cibo thought. "Just me."

"According to her record, Yes. In a normal situation, she would have been excused from the military, but her performance means we need her to remain." Evelyn replied to Cibo, before averting her attention. It seemed that the Hangar was ready for the mission, so Evelyn began her administrative duties as the commander of the ship. "Ship control, We are ready for departure. Set speed to 75% warp so the Destroyers can keep up with us. Cibo, could you inform blue squadron to be on alert, and for Green squadron to be prepared in case things go sour?" She sat still for a moment, going through Navigational calculations in her head and sending messages to the various departments of the ship, as well as plotting a course for the pilots and telling the main communications officer (no longer Aurelia, Evelyn noted) to get them launch permission and link with the Battle group to coordinate the jump.

"Yes Admiral." Cibo replied. It said that Raji had prior orders, but hadn't reported...would she even listen this time? The thought of not having orders listened to made her stomach flutter. It had been a while since she done anything like this; the last time, she screwed up. "Dammit." Cibo thought. "I'm not giving orders this time. It's her's. Just the messenger. Just the messenger." Now wasn't the time to flip. She hesitantly begun to type in the orders to the respective areas. "Bridge to Blue Squadron: You are to be on alert." A moment later, she sent it with a swift poke. "That wasn't so bad. It's not like someone might die from this kind of order, right?" Nothing happened. Of course, they got their message, but it went exactly how her councilor said it would. Nothing extraordinary. None of That stuff would ever happen to her again. That's what he said, and that's how it would be, right? Just desk jobs for now on he said. Then again, if the Admiral decided to have a fit, or if the ship got into a real jam...Cibo's mind drifted a bit and suddenly snapped to. "Bridge to Green Squadron: move into standby pending further orders." Another poke of her pinkie sent that message away to the fine people of Green Squadron. And Raji. Why was she thinking of Raji? She had problems of her own too, but Cibo had to admit she seemed much more relaxed. Perhaps that was enviable? Regardless, she had work to do. "Orders sent Admiral." Cibo then looked at her console, only to see it smeared in blood. She didn't freak out like most would, on the contrary, she blinked a few times until it simply vanished. It had been a while since the last time something like that happened. Cibo then muttered to herself. "At least I'm not the only one with problems."


With a light motion that could have been a lurch, the Hymn began forward on it's STL engines, moving to a low cruising speed, in order to allow the battle group to array around the cruiser. As calculations were finished, alarms sounded on the bridge of all the ships, and mild warnings were announced internally for the occupants to brace for FTL. Within moments, The Hymn could be heard humming within, as the enormous Hyperspace drive kicked in, warming up for the first time in weeks.

Suddenly, to outside observers, the ships disappeared, multiple flashes of light covering them before emptiness took their place. Inside all the ships, the crews would feel momentary discomfort as the ships shifted from one plane of existence to another, moving faster than the speed of light. it would be a thirty minute hyperspace jump to the Perrennia system, and they would come out on the edge.

Inside, Blue squadron scrambled to their fighters, which were stacked in front of Green squadron's. When Blue launched, Green would finally be able to get out of the bay.

In the hangar...
Steven was enjoying a pleasant nap in the pilot’s seat of his scimitar, much like he had been doing for the past two weeks now, when he heard the beginnings of an argument. He half opened one eye to see what was going on. He chuckled a little and went back to his nap after discovering that it was only Aaron complaining once again about hangar assignments. Five minutes passed by and Aaron continued to pick fights with the hangar captain. Once Steven had been sufficiently annoyed by the bickering, he sat up in his seat and hoisted himself out of the cockpit and onto the wing. After taking time to stretch he cleared his throat and called out to Aaron who was standing maybe thirty meters away.

”Aaron! Would you shut up already? The only thing you are doing is making Green Squadron look bad,” Steven shouted, “Now find something to do that doesn’t include patronizing the head of docking assignments.” With that having been said, Steven moved over and sat down on the edge of the wing. From his seat he looked past the other fighters in the hangar towards the captured enemy transport he and everyone else had to share the hangar with.

At least the marines have something to do, Steven thought to himself. Unfortunately for him as well as the rest of the pilot, the rest of the crew still needed to wait for a mission of their own.

Emma made her way into the hangar bay, searching for Steven. Apparently, she was supposed to be in here, though she had no clue why. Steven had said something about something and she hadn't caught the rest, because she spotted a really pretty Nebula outside one of the view-ports. In any case, she was there and ready for her commander.

Arcadia was squatting atop her Scimitar, slowly scanning it to make sure the paint job was everything she had hoped for. As was custom for the pilot, a cup of piping hot black coffee was held in her left hand as she made her perusal of the fighter's exterior. She seemed quite focused on the task at hand, although in all truthfulness her mind was venturing through the past.

Steven remained on the wing of his scimitar for maybe five minutes or so until he caught sight of Emma. He pushed himself up and away from the wing and landed on the floor of the hangar; he then made his way towards the young pilot.
"Emma! Over here!" he said as he got closer. "So Ms. Thompson, are you ready to get back to work?"

Emma wandered towards her captain, looking slightly confused "Back to work? Aren't I on Psych leave?" she asked, confused by Steven.

"What? No. Weren't you listening to me te other day?" Steven said giving Emma an odd look, then continued on when it was evident that she hadn't been paying attention, "I told you yesterday that I was getting you off of psych leave early. Well, you are here now so I say once more, are you ready to get back to work? You scimitar could use a good cleaning."

"I.. I guess not" Emma stammered when the Captain accused her of not listening, but when he continued, she listened, and then smiled and spoke up again, laughing a little. "So, You got me out of Psych leave just because you don't want to keep washing my ship?" the young girl teased, face brightening.

"Well, as much as I enjoy working on fighters, I already have enough work to do, what with taking care of my own fighter and keeping the rest of the pilots in my squadron in line," Steven chuckled. All things considered, Steven though to himself, Emma was a good addition to Green Squadron, she was always able to lighten the mood so easily. It was refreshing.

"Well, then, I'll get straight to work, Sir!" The young girl squeaked with mock sincerity, a playful grin on her face. She straightened into a sharp military salute before walking towards her fighter and giggling to herself. It felt good to be back on duty, even without any action.

Sitting cross-legged on her ship and the mug cradled in her lap, Arcadia watched Blue Squadron prepare themselves. She smiled and occasionally made flirty faces in their direction, but she did it all jokingly, merely teasing them. One of them happened to be handing his friend a cup of water when he was distracted by Arcadia's suggestive wink. The man spilled all the cup's contents into his wingman's lap, causing a slight upstart. Arcadia chuckled to herself, and refused to meet the man's stare for the remainder of pre-flight preparation.

Emma climbed into her Scimitar, happy to be in is for the first time in weeks (and glad it was on the bottom rack, much easier to get into that way) In any case, she noted that there hadn't been too much work done to the machine, and that there was some problems with it, the most major being it was still trimmed for Atmospheric flight. Somewhat annoyed, she called out to a nearby technician, one with a missing sleeve (such terrible etiquette, but whatever, Emma didn't honestly care) "Hey, Engie, Could I have a little help here?"

Sai hurried up to the Scimitar where the young girl called for her. "This ship wasn't on the roster to leave," she said, frowning at the state of the vehicle as she looked it over.

"Well, it's pilot is on the roster to go, and I'm not flying another ship" Emma assured the Engie. "She's set up for Atmo, and I'm pretty sure it would be better to set her up for space. Could you help me out?"

"Damnit," the Engy curses as she hurries off to drag a tool tray over and begins to quickly work on converting the vessel back to trans-atmospheric flight. "Just hang tight, I'll be *unf* done with this in a jiffy," she claims.

Frank gathered his things and backed away from the stolen Drathonian transport. He wanted to do more, but he couldn't. The current status of the weapons was dreadfully low for his standards certainly but for a Drathonian maintained ship, they were functioning within acceptable levels. Again, anything higher than that would send off alerts at any scan of the ship conducted by the Drathonian's and that would cause mission failure and jeopardize the lives of the crew. Slowly Frank comes to terms with this. Even though it hurts him to leave it like this, Stacy assures him that he has done his job the best he could have here and Frank snaps out of his trance.

'The pilots and crew are boarding the ship. They are getting ready to set off. It's not the time for me to be screwing around with the ship.' Frank assured himself that and went about the hanger looking for more work. Finding more work wasn't exactly hard at this point in time. A major operation was about to commence and pilots were climbing into their ships, and some of these ships haven't been regularly visited over the down time and need some attention. Frank walked around the hangar with his duffel bag hanging off his shoulder behind his back and his specialized data pad in his left hand. Just looking around for some more work.

"Just Don't scratch the paint." the pilot fussed, messing around in the cockpit, changing settings around and making sure all the electronics worked. With the help of the Engie, she could easily get the ship flight ready in a couple of minutes. "H-Hey! What are you messing with there?" the pilot asked loudly, as a readout on the main power generator began registering higher levels than necessary. Last thing people needed was for a fighter to blow up in the hangar.

Steven casually chewed on his thumbnail as he slowly looked around the hangar with a blank stare. He was thinking about the order to prepare the fighters and get ready to scramble, and how it came with few details as to why. He also wasn't very sure why he really cared, but there was a nagging feeling in the back of his mind that would not go away. Finally dismissing the thoughts altogether, he turned and made his way back to the rest of Green Squadron.

Getting his mind on to more official business, he began running down his mental list of pre-flight checks he needed to do as the commander of the squadron. There were only a few to do at the moment as procedures were still only in the preliminary phase. First and foremost, check on the status of each squad member.

With that, Steven began with a cursory glance at each fighter of Green Squadron. Steven was pleased to see that most were already close to finishing pre-flight checks of their own, if not getting close to finishing. The only ones who had a bit more work to do was Emma, whom would be getting done soon enough, and Raji, whom Steven had seen surprisingly little of over the past few weeks. Finishing the list, as well as preparing his own fighter, Steven began pacing around checking if anyone was needing help with anything.

Alarms sounded then, indicating the jump to hyperspace; these were followed by an announcement declaring their ETA: 30 minutes...

Being posted on stand-by, Arcadia finally clambered across her ship and into the cockpit for pre-flight checks as per usual. Also as usual, she did so with coffee in her hand. Seeing Steven walk by, she smirked. "Look bored, Captain. We've got a time for a little something before take-off. I've got the game if you've got the place." She said all this in a very flat, serious tone, but it was all a joke. Mostly, she was testing him, to see just how uptight or mentally preoccupied he was. It was always good fun for her, but it could make some people blathering idiots, which was always more amusing.

Steven's eyes perked up as he Arcadia spoke to him, blinking himself back to reality. "Sure, sounds good. What game were you thinking?" he asked her with a hint of naive curiosity. Had Steven been paying more attention so as to fully comprehend Arcadia's joke, he would have gotten a kick out of it and make a joke to counter her joke; due to his current state of absent-mindedness, he must have sound terribly childish.

She stared for a moment. When she realized he was serious, she laughed. Her checks were complete anyways, as the new ship only had to be calibrated to her liking. She hopped out of the cockpit and crept down the nose of the ebony craft. "You don't get out much, do you, Captain?" She lay down on her back, head near the nose. Her cup was empty, so it didn't matter much what she did with it. For now she let it rest on her stomach. Laying like this, she realized, gave the Captain a rather clear view of her cleavage. Fuck it, she thought. Let him stare. A sly smirk crossed her features. "You obviously didn't catch the hint, sir."

Steven was reclined with his back resting on the window of his fighter's cockpit watching as people went about their business. Being much more attentive now, he looked over towards Arcadia as she spoke, but he couldn't help but pause momentarily as his male instincts kicked in and he took a moment to appreciate the view. "Not as often as I could be," Steven replied casually. He caught himself eying her from head to foot and quickly diverted his eyes back to her face before continuing on. "And no, actually, I did pick up the hint after a few moments. You just happened to ask me while my mind was elsewhere, so I just reacted without thinking."

"Jimi! Go get me a 80-21 capacitor and the 53c module off of a spare MBEC board for a Scimitar," Sai commanded her little robot companion as she flicked a switch turning off the tap generator. "Oh, and about 2 meters of grade 4 conduit tubing." It ran off to follow her orders as the red-eyed NEngy explained to the pilot, "It looks like you were running hot and blew a fuse so hard it melted, bridging the connection." She pulled a clump of fused wiring out and tossed it on the bay floor. "The excess heat weakened the bracket that holds the power conduit off of the MBEC and fried the board." Using a pair of dikes to cut the remaining wiring from the circuit board and the soldering tool off of her belt, Sai began attaching the now loose connections to the lower controller board. "I'm going to reroute these connections to the LBEC, which'll be more of a strain on the controller, but you don't really have a lot of choice right now."

As Jimi returned with the parts, Sai thanked him and disconnected the power conduit from the regulator on the MBEC, and installed the capacitor in it's place. Then, she ran the extra conduit tubing connecting the capacitor to a spare fitting on the afterburner power intake manifold. "You'll want to be careful firing for too long at a time, if you notice a drop in power that means actually that you've got too much running and need to shunt the excess by hitting your afterburners." Sai ripped the control module off the LBEC and replaced it with the one Jimi had brought, then tossed the old module and the whole burnt out circuit board onto the bay floor. "When you get back, you're going to need a full service, replacement fuses, mid and lower controller board and probably a check on your conduit network to see what codes were set when the fuse blew."

Replacing the tools on her belt and flipping the emergency switch on the generator back on, Sai dropped out of the lower portion of the Scimitar and closed the access panel, securing it tightly with a ratchet gun."Okay, you're good to go on this end," she said to Emma as she moved away, saluting the pilot, her job here was done.

"Let's just hope I don't have to do any hard fighting on this." Emma said, making sure that the Engie's repairs were to her satisfaction, (Pilots are very protective of their ships) and finding it to be up to par, closed the panel and sealed it. "Thank you" the young pilot added, Hopping back into the cockpit to restart her warm-up and run through of the Scimitar's systems.

She chuckled again, partly because of his drifting gaze and partly because of his answer. "Relax, Captain. I'm only giving you trouble now." She 'walked' her feet to the right side of the Scimitar's nose and slid, landing not so gracefully. "Walk with me, if you will, Captain." Regardless of what Steven chose to do, she began to head for the hangar's main entrance.

Steven huffed a little at Arcadia's comment and watched as she slid off her fighter and landed on the hangar deck below. She is an odd one alright he thought to himself as he wordlessly accepted the invitation and maneuvered his way to the edge of his own fighter and hopped down. Taking another look around the hangar to check on progress, he was pleased to see everything running smoothly and followed after Arcadia towards the mess hall. With an inquisitive look on his face he pondered his, for lack of a better word, relationship with Arcadia. After turning the past few weeks over in his mind a few times he wondered if maybe he should try to be a bit more stoic with her, that way it wouldn't seem like he was always tailing after her. Brushing the thoughts aside he caught up with Arcadia a few moments later.

Okay, now start a conversation he thought. Steven lifted his left hand and gestured as if he were about to make a point before reluctantly dropping his arm back to his side. Ah fluffle, why can I only think of cheesy small talk topics? It doesn't make much sense to talk weather when on a spaceship, he thought with another inquisitive look on his face.

Steven was an amusing man to Arcadia, simply because he had yet to understand her. Being in a good mood, she was teaser. "Something on your mind, Captain?" she asked, stifling a smirk. He looked perhaps thoughtful or at a loss for words. "If you're wondering why I asked you along, Captain, I figured I could use some company."

They entered the mess hall and she filled the cup half-way; they'd probably be leaving soon, and she didn't want to waste any.

Steven simply stopped where he was a few moments after Arcadia had spoken, then shook his head and caught back up to her. Once in the mess hall, Steven proceeded to grab a cup and fill it as well, only he filled his to the top. As he sipped thoughtfully at the drink he had a eureka moment. "So, Ms. Langdon, how do you like working with Green Squadron so far?" he asked her as he turned towards the doors to go back to the hangar.

"They're efficient. I was obviously placed into a talented and/or well-trained squad. I worry about Emma, especially having her as my wingman, but I'll be tough as a drill sarge if I have to. Definitely plenty of potential there, but she's unrefined." With the coffee still steaming, she took a sip. "Hm..." It was a thoughtful 'hm' she emitted while considering whether or not to alter the flavor. At last, she decided it would remain the same. "Are there any horndogs in the squad I should be worried about?" She kept her place beside the coffee maker, in no real hurry to return to the hangar.

Steven shrugged as Arcadia held her ground, and walked over to lean against the wall next to the table.

"Well, that is good to hear; I have been working for a long time to try and improve Green Squadron's image. As for Emma though, while she is still a little wet behind the ears, she did receive very good marks in her flight instruction course. But as you said, and enforcing my point of age limits in the military, she is still too young and lack the experience necessary to pilot to the best of her ability. So yes, I do hope you don't mind keeping an extra eye on her during missions; I have already offered to give her extra flight instructions when not on missions, so you don't need to worry about her being a hindrance but instead as an asset." Steven said as he stared down at the coffee he was hold a few inches away from his chest. "As for the horndogs, the only ones I would worry about if I were you would be Green Nine, Tom, and Green Eleven, Aaron. But from my observations, Aaron is aiming at Emma, and Tom I guess has a girlfriend at the moment. Pretty much only have marines to worry about really."

"Good news, and better news, then. I prefer Marines, anyway. I like my men burly, rugged, and badass. The engineers are too absorbed in their own worlds, and most pilots get too cocky just because they can sit in a ship and blast other ships into nothing with guns thrice their own body mass." She took a quick sip from her coffee then smirked at the Captain, letting him think all that over. Mostly she was looking for his reaction.

Steven felt a definite twinge of annoyance, if not disgust at that last part.

"Eh, I am not a fan of marines, don't get me wrong, there are a few marines I could consider as friends, but most of them think they are so much better than pilots just because they face their enemies face to face. I mean, you can give any simpleton a gun and call him a soldier, but it takes years of practice and dedication to become a pilot." Steven almost growled as he continued to look down at his coffee. His mind then thought of Clarissa, whom he had seen surprisingly little of lately. Then with a fierce huff he continued on. "Everybody has their own tastes I guess. Personally though, I would much rather be seeing another pilot instead of a marine."

She just sipped at her coffee while he spoke to hide her smile. Then at last, "I was joking, actually. I can't stand them at all. Last mission, when I was shot down, I was forced to follow a squad of them around. Some of the most obnoxious men I've ever met. One of them started hitting on me, and all the other women mid-mission! He was good at his job, I suppose, but I'll be damned if I ever get involved with a man like that." Then she glanced down at the mug, and it was almost empty.

The intercom beeped throughout the corridors. "We return to realspace in five minutes, All active personnel, report to your stations, please." The voice cut off after that, leaving a myriad of people to begin hurrying their work, the Drathonian transport filled with Marines and became ready to depart. It was that excited time just before a mission actually started, and the buzz in the air was almost tangible.

Amidst the Marines...
Jack Gallagher sat quietly in the much-too-big Drathonian trooper seat. They were designed to be as small as possible to cram as many troops in as they could, but 'small' for a Drathonian was usually 'enormous' for a Terran. His legs dangled in the air, not long enough to touch the ground.

Jack had made himself a ghost for the past two weeks, spending most of his time planet-side, or in a dark, uninhabited corner of the Hymn. He tapped his Sugar idly...

"Excuse me?" an annoyed voice interrupted the Marine's silent contemplation in the large Drathonian chair. In front of him was an Engineering Technician with a shoulder bag full of straps on one arm and a rivet gun in her other hand. She looked up at the gruff sniper with stern red eyes. "How about moving so I can finish installing these?" the Engineer asked, adjusting her tote on her shoulder to indicated to the man on his high seat what she was referring to. The patch on her coat read "PFC HINOKI" and the left sleeve was missing, a tattered hole in it's place, likely the result of a Drathonian blade slicing though an arm, though the technician's arm seemed to be fine despite the state of her jacket.

Jack rose an eyebrow as he was addressed, looking at the woman who stood, just about eye level with him, beside the chair. The expression on his face remained placid. Noting the straps and the bolter, he patted the hideous protrusions at his sides that looked like horribly deformed arm rests. "No thanks. I'm a big boy, I can make do with lizard grips." He turned his attention away from her, looking around the dim compartment. There wasn't really much to turn his attention to. He stared at an ugly series of scratches on the far well, the unpleasant script of the Drathonians.

"Yeah, you and every other he-man out there," the technician said dismissively, jerking her thumb over her shoulder. "Now, get out of there before I strap you in as-is." The wry grin and mocking tone indicated that she wasn't being that serious, but still, PFC Hinoki had a job to do and her job was making sure that everyone was going to get there safely. "I can tell you it'll be a whole lot harder when you need to get out."

Jack's eyes flicked back to Hinoki. "Looking forward to it," he said, with his signature devilish grin.

"Out, out," the brown haired girl repeated starting to get a little annoyed at the man's obstinance, "I'm not getting paid by the hour and I don't want you holding up this thing getting finished." She really disliked anything getting in the way of her work, but cocky marines that thought they were being amusing or playful were a particular annoyance.

"Jack, move your butt outta the chair" Kai chided, giving the Marine a stern look, mixed with a light chuckle. Kai had been saved by the Engies too many times to feel like being mean to them, and he was certain the entire UTR would come crumbling down without them.

Sai stepped back, slightly surprised at the sudden approach of the blond-haired marine. "Lieutenant Nakamura," she greeted him softly, looking up at the tall, sexy man with her bright red eyes. Absentmindedly the engineering technician ran a hand through her hair hoping that it looked nice enough, wishing she had spent a little more time combing it after her shower that morning. "I'll be done here in a second," she reported enthusiastically.

Sensing the sudden surge of female hormones, Jack suddenly had a compelling urge to get out of the seat.

And to vomit.

Thoroughly creeped out by the whole situation, Jack promptly hopped out of the seat and put some distance between himself and little-miss-creeper. "Yeah... I'ma go... find Hendlow. Yeeeaah...." He quickly walked away from the two, making sure Kai couldn't see that his face looked like he'd just smelled a Drathonian latrine. He felt somewhat nauseated.

Lieutenant Nakamura watched bemusedly as Jack got up and moved to the other side of the ship, before looking back to the much shorter Engineer who was attaching straps to the chairs. "Well, Thank you, Miss...?" he responded, searching for her name tag, which seemed to be hidden under the straps she was carrying.

"Hinoki, sir," Sai responded promptly, dropping the bag of straps that covered her name patch. "Private, First Class," the young girl responded, with a salute before stooping down to pick out a strap from the satchel.

Frank Lumes toiled away on the Drathonian transport's weapons. He was inside his own bubble unaffected and uninterested by everything around him. Everything had faded away. To Frank, all that he noticed was the ship and his datapad who occasionally chewed off his ear from time to time.

Frank had his head buried in an access panel near one of the wings. He was making some key adjustments involving power output and such, trying to his best ability to make everything run as efficient as possible. The Drathonian weapons on the transport where similar to most of the technology he is used to working on. With zen like concentration, he worked...

'No, Frank you are over-doing it again. Do I have to remind you once more what will happen if the ship would leave with some of it's systems operating outside of normal Drathonian parameters?'

Frank responded with a simple, "No." and kept working. Stacy, the S.S.W.D.D chimed in any way. 'The the Drathonians were to scan the ship and detect abnormalities in the power output of the weapons systems the ship would seem very suspicious. You would endanger the life of the entire crew and jeopardize the mission.'

"I know, I know." Frank said sounding very annoyed. A few more seconds of silence between the two passed before Frank did anything else. "Fine, I will change it back. I am not too happy about it though." Frank made the changes and closed everything up...

"Well, Thanks for making sure this tub is safe for us squishy Terrans, Private Hinoki" Kai responded, returning the salute a little sluggishly, as he was weighted down by the fairly large amount of equipment that had been assigned to him and all his men for this mission.

Frank's and Sai's communicators would suddenly spring to life, with a message from the Hangar manager "Alright kids, finish up real quick, Command doesn't want you to be messing with that ship while we're in FTL" his voice chided, before cutting off. A timer buzzed, signifying it was only minutes until the ship would depart towards the Perrennia system, along with its battle group.

Jumping a little at the communicator beeping, shocking her out of her little fantasy, Sai replied to the manager. "I'll be out in half a minute," she reported in. "Sorry sir," she apologized to Kai as she finished up her job, bolting the straps onto the rest of the seats and leaving the shuttle.

Alarms sounded then, indicating the jump to hyperspace; these were followed by an announcement declaring their ETA: 30 minutes...

Being a demolitions expert meant carrying a different equipment loadout when the time came for missions. So while everyone else was bogged down with an excessive number of firearms, Hendlow was backpacking a number of explosives to replace the S/GUR rifle and the numerous extras that were to be given to their possible allies. As he was about to board the ship, Jack was exiting. Seeing his expression, the Lieutenant dared to ask, "What's up, Jack?"

Placing the duffel on the ground, Adrian Gorefowl watched the captured Drathonian Ship being filled with troopers. Pulling the scope from his S/GUR-01-A1 Rifle, “Sugar” for short, he scanned the compartment for any sloggers he knew well. While he recognized some faces, he didn’t know any of them very well and Tern was definitely not among them.

Leaning on the catwalk’s railings he shook his head, when the demo-man was ready to continue the project he would show up. Leaning over the duffel, Adrian rolled one of the prized components of the two friends’ project out of the way, before he could pull out the chunk of bread and a packet dried meat. Chewing thoughtfully on one of the tough sticks of meat, Adrian shrugged, while the tops said it was unnecessary it was always nice to have a stock of something besides plain rations.
As a buzzer announced that the his fellow soldiers would soon be leaving, the lone trooper on the catwalks thoughts turned to how perfect the hangar would be to training a Goshawk and as he swallowed the last of the bread he began to wait.

Jack huffed a grunting laugh at the name pun. Nobody had said that to him since he was a kid. Of course, not many people in prison had a very good sense of humor. Not that many of them ever talked to him, for that matter. "Oh, not much. I'm not sure whether to laugh or feel sick," he said, cutting himself short as Sai rushed past him out of the ship. Once she was out of earshot, he threw a nod in her direction. "Little Miss Engy there was all hot for Kai. Heheheh..." He gave Garrett a friendly smack on the shoulder and stepped back into the ship.

"Why's that?" As if to answer is his question, Sai exited the transport, and Jack responded; Garrett looked the girl over. "Eh, too young anyways. She needs to put on a couple years." He gave this evaluation whilst following Jack into the ship. "Kai, please tell me you said no." Waiting for a reply, Garrett took the time to remove the backpack and seat himself.

"Hrm? Said no to what?" Kai asked, oblivious. It had shot right over his head that Sai had seemed to like him. "All I did was asked her her name and thanked her for putting seatbelts in this cursed tub" The Lieutenant responded, completely lost by what Garrett was insinuating.

Garrett just sighed and shook his head. "You are oblivious, my young padawan. Perhaps some day I shall teach thee, but for now there many a lizard-like ass which are in dire need of a Terran boot... or two." Now seated, he took the time to notice that there were human restraints. There was a taint of irony in the situation. "A suicide mission into an enemy outpost deep in enemy space to rescue a species we don't know in the hopes that they'll ally with us despite language, cultural, and developmental barriers spanning lightyears and millenia of evolution." He laughed. "And they gave me a goddamned seatbelt just in case." He laughed again. "Are we expecting interstellar collisions? Please tell me the pilot isn't Flying Under The Influence."

Sai disembarked from the ship, her job complete. Rivet gun stuffed in her strap bag. She saluted the men gathered outside, "Job's done, it's ready to go." Then, she got back on the communicator with the hanger manager. "We're clear," she reported in before heading to the tool storage to drop off the equipment.

"I'm sure it's just a precaution" Kai said, looking over the straps himself. they seemed sturdy enough, but he was wondering just how hard they would have to be coming in to need them, and hoped that they didn't end up needing them. "Get your gear stowed beneath a seat and strap in, I guess. They want us to be ready to depart as soon as we exit hyperspace, so we have to be ready."

"This is just fucking great. Fucking great." He laughed again and looked to Jack at his left, offering one hand while he buckled up with the other. "I'm scared. Hold me, baby." There was that slightly insane smirk plastered on his face again that was by now practically synonymous with any remembrance of the demolitions expert.

Jack returned the insane smirk with a devilish grin. He grabbed Garrett's cheek with a gloved hand, raising an eyebrow. "Now, now. Is mommy going to have to turn this battlecruiser around? Be a good little boy and strap into your lizard seat." Jack spoke in a slightly nagging, motherly voice. When Garrett's cheek was thoroughly pinched, he let go, putting on his own safety restraints.

He laughed again, finished buckling in, and made sure his equipment was tucked in with the back of his boot. "No, mom, it's okay," he responded in a downcast tone.

"...Are we there yet?"

As if in response, they heard, "We return to realspace in five minutes, All active personnel, report to your stations, please..." The mission was close at hand.

Dante Sol was carrying 3 large bags with him. One contained all the stuff directly assigned to him. One contained all his tools and equipment for charging and repairing the weapons, fixing whatever and building make shift weapons, armor, and everyday needs. The other one contained several items including 20 text disks and a book, multi-lens goggles with zoom and night vision attachments, and a bottle of whiskey safely kept from the inspectors. As he stepped on the ship, Dante heard Garrett and Jack on a joint rant. He has gotten used to the witty retorts that those two spit at each other. ”Well I see this will be a fun trip.” Dante put his bags in the back and sat In the copilot seat. ”Sorry Jack, I speak for almost all of us when I say the day you drive is the day the hymn will crash into a sun. Besides,” Dante switching his tongue to Drathonian, ”<unless you can understand this. There is no way you'll be able to get us past the Drathonian checkpoint.> Understand?”

Sehene dragged her way into what could only be described as an uncomfortable position on a much-too-large-for-her Drathonian seat, her possessions rather messily arrayed around her feet. She gazed around her at the many marines; the dark sunglasses allowed her to look at others without them really noticing. She recognized her fellow CIU--scratch that, she remembered it was now called 'Shock Squad 215'--members, but chose to ignore them for the time being. If they wanted to talk, she supposed they would.

"You two are real A-holes, y'know that?" Kai remarked to his subordinates with a smirk and a chuckle, before setting his gear under his chosen seat and buckling in before calling to Dante "Don't screw up, Kid, We could be in a lot of trouble, because I doubt your accent will pass for a real lizard." He certainly hoped nothing would go wrong, and that the entire mission would be a cakewalk. If there was one thing Terrans were better at than Drathonians, it was doing things so Crazy stupid that no one would have expected it, and this mission was one such a situation.

A few minutes after, the warning alarms rang alerting all those in the hangar to prepare for FTL travel; this also implied that they would soon be launching.

On the Bridge...
The imagery was quite intense each time; some memories were quite dim and hard to remember, if retrievable at all. On the other hand, some burned as though they were happening now. That's how it works with Terrans, how it works with Altresians, the damnable Drathonians and so on. Not with Evelyn of course; It would remember everything perfectly, each and every single time. How couldn't It not? If Cibo said something, It would remember perfectly. She had to watch her tongue, but at the same time, Cibo had to make sure the Admiral was 'healthy' and stable. No easy task. Memories. They often dictate how a person would act in the future; which one's did the good Admiral consider "bright" and others mundane? The word "consider" was especially emphasized of course. "What kind of welcoming party are you expecting on the other side Admiral?" With Raji's unexpected interruption, Cibo would have to start all over again.

"We aren't expecting any at all" The Avatar answered, smiling at Cibo. "They are far enough out of the way that we don't believe there would be any reason for them to worry about an attack at this point. They don't have any strategic importance like the shipyards, either, and never were all that well defended. Although, You are an intelligence officer and have more experience than I do. What do you think, considering all that's gone on recently?" Evelyn said, turning the question over on to Cibo.

"Knowing the Drathonians, it should be as you say; nothing at all." Cibo replied, looking up into the ceiling in thought. "However, the Drathonians could be due for reinforcements sooner than expected if some certain people made them bleed more on the ground." Cibo grinned and looked at the Admiral. "Earlier, I pointed out that some SeFlaurind Freedom Fighters were captured lately and due for execution. Either their rebellion is going to be put on the brink, or the Drathonians will find themselves with a jailbreak at hand. I hope I'm wrong about the ship part, unless you're looking forward to a fight Admiral."

"I never look for a fight, but when one is presented to me, I do my best to win with as few casualties as possible" Evelyn answered, smiling at the intelligence officer. "I just hope we are in time to save these potential allies" she confided.

Among the fighter Pilots...

"I had something similar happen to me a few missions back, well, except for getting hit on part. I was temporarily flying with a new Shamshir bomber squadron near the start of the offensive when me and my wingman came under heavy enemy fire. Me and my copilot crash landed in the middle of the damned jungle, he gets knocked out cold, and we both had a gaggle scalies hunting for us. Long story short, I got rescued by a group of marines, ended up drawing attention from almost the entire enemy army, and I had to call in a bombing run so close to my position that the explosion gave me a tan line." Steven said as he continued to sip on his own cup of coffee. A few moments later the message went out over the intercom, and Steven gulped down the last bit of coffee left in his cup. "Well, back to work."

With a nod, Arcadia set down her empty mug and began walking back to the hangar with Kerning at a brisk stride. "So what would you say are your strongest traits, Captain? And I don't mean as a pilot or commander, I mean overall, as a human being." Seeing as how the Captain had strayed from the lighthearted conversational piece, Langdon followed but still pressed for information.

"My strongest trait, eh? Hm, if I had to think of one I would probably have to go with the fact that I am goal oriented. Once I set my sights on something I don't stop working towards it until I have reached the goal and found a new target to work towards." Steven replied. His shins began to burn slightly from the speed walking. "How about you? What are your redeeming qualities?" he asked as they entered the hangar and turned sharply, heading towards the rest of Green Squadron.

Arcadia chuckled as she often would at such a serious question. She did so mostly to repress her embarrassment and hide how difficult it was for her to answer that question. She did so partly because she thought it was a stupid question to ask. "I'm sorry Captain, but if you haven't discovered the answer yet, I fear you might never know!"

While the answer was mysterious--which is exactly what she wanted--she also believed wholly in it as well: she didn't feel she had any redeeming qualities. She could perhaps bring humor into the lives of darker and cynical souls, but that didn't seem like any sort of redemption to her. Nor did being able to tease and distract those of the opposite gender seem like much of a grand quality. To solidify her answer somewhat, the Pilot added, I'm just another human being with selfish desires, Captain. There's little to be redeemed here but ephemeral humor, Captain. That's how I get by, and I doubt that will change, nor do I plan on changing. I like who and what I have become, and I embrace it wholly.

Rather, she would have said it, but she didn't feel close enough to Steven Kerning to open up that much, especially right before a mission that could make or break the war. So it all remained imaginary within her mind.

Steven chuckled a little at the response but was not all that surprised by it, considering how most of the conversations between the two pilots usually turned out. "Have it your way, I guess. We can talk more once we are off alert status." Steven said as they reached the staging area. Without a moment's hesitation he parted ways with Arcadia and maneuvered his way up into the cockpit of his fighter. From there he slid on his helmet to begin going over the last few preflight checks he needed to do.

Good, all scimitars are in working order and awaiting further instructions Steven thought to himself as he continued down the list.

All Arcadia said in response was, "Sure, Captain." Then she clambered into her ship, appropriately named Stygian Retribute, and made sure everything was calibrated the way she liked.

In the hangar bay, the captured Drathonian ship suddenly rumbled to life, landing thrusters engaged, it retracted its landing gear and began to hover. Almost immediately afterward, The voice from before called through the intercoms "30 seconds to realspace. Blue squadron and the transport have reported in green. Brace for transition."

Some walls had countdown clocks which showed in bright red letters the time to realspace. As the time wound down people did what little bracing was needed to combat the awkward effects of transitioning back to normal speeds. The Battle Hymn of the Republic, being the newest, most advanced warship, also had the smoothest transition from FTL of any ship in the galaxy. Many Drathonian designs would throw a person to the ground if they weren't prepared, as would some older Terran designs, but nothing of the sort would happen aboard the Hymn.

The countdown reached zero and the blur outside the magcon fields of the hangar bay became star lines and then turned to the pinpricks that signified realspace. With utmost precision in timing, the Drathonian transport was out of the hangar less than a second after the ship had reentered realspace, and blue squadron was not far behind, the fighters hugging close to the fleet and making up a defensive screen while the reddish box carrying the marines went its merry way towards one of the nearer pinpricks, this time a planet, the sun close enough to actually look like a sun, but it was obvious that the fleet was a ways out. Anyone who dared look through a window or the magcon field would get quite a breathtaking view.

Generally being lazy bums about the ship... (Just kidding)
Adrian sat down at the mess and sipped his water. He had caught the tale end of the two pilots banter before the alarm went off. What a grand crew we have on this tub, he thought as he took a bite of his biscuit. Washing it down with a swig of water, he chuckled and reiterated his earlier thought, yes quite a group we have here. Gulping down the rest of his drink, Adrian stood and slung the duffel against his back, rolling his shoulders as the weight of the Dross rifle in it settled. Walking from the mess he picked a random hall and began to wander.

“Demolitions Expert Tern Lethern, I wonder where you hide,” he whispered jovially as his search for his partner continued.

Tern was lost again. He couldn't explain how it happened, but one minuet he was walking from the mess hall then before he knew it he was in some remote, desolate corner of the ship. It was quite vexing;Tern was hardly what would be called “directionally skilled” and the Battle Hymn was a large ship indeed. So it was that Tern came to be walking along another desolate hall, his brow furrowed, black duffel-bag occasionally thumping his knees as he roamed the passageway, searching for an exit in a manner not unlike that of a cornered beast.

Tern came to split in the passage and stopped frowning in consternation. He hated the silence. But it was then that something broke the silence, a voice, buzzing faintly in the distance. Tern rejoiced, and headed toward the voice.

So, imagine Tern's surprise when after strolling down the hall for a few minutes he saw just the man he wanted to see most – Adrian Gorefowl. Hefting his duffel-bag, he narrowed his eyes, looking past Adrian, beyond which must lie, Tern supposed, familiar land, and kept walking. He reaching Adrian and opened his mouth to speak, then thought better of it, grabbing Adrian by the arm, swinging him around as he did.And he kept walking, didn't even miss a step.

Watching Tern walk ahead along the hallway, Adrian called after him, “Well, I guess that's your idea of a friendly hello!” Repositioning the duffel, which had been offset by Tern spinning him around, Adrian sighed then started to run to catch up with the demo-expert.
He was on the verge of informing Tern that, he personally doubted, that either of them actually knew where engineering was, but before he could the sirens made it known that in thirty seconds they would be transitioning into realspace. Looking around the hallway, he silently cursed, just our luck making a transition and nothing around to hold on to. Locking his knees and grimacing Adrian looked at the floor, trying to find something to distract, him as he decided it would be best to just try and ride it out.
During the transition the technological improvements of the Battle Hymn resulting in Adrian only leaned to one side, but while he had only moved no more than an inch it seemed as if his insides had jumped two. Transition, seems like such a peaceful word, he thought as he swallowed some bile, till you learn it means warping bloody reality. Taking in a deep breath, Adrian looked around; Tern was nowhere in sight. Gah, with his mind he probably kept walking, the Sniper thought as he began to jog forward, no matter if that’s the case I’ll probably catch up with him soon.

Tern grunted in surprise; Adrian had managed to squirm out of his grasp and had hung back, steadying himself against a wall. How strange, and annoying. Wonder why he’s doing that. “Hey, Adrian, come on, I’m pretty sure I can find engineering from her-” A jolt rocked the ship and Tern stumbled, and then looked back sheepishly. “Oh.” A transition, we’ve arrived, Tern realized. Embarrassing, really; if that had happened back when I was stationed in The Knife of Terra, I’d have a broken nose, most like.

Composing himself, Tern strode over to Adrian. “Well, I’ve seem to have, ah, forgotten the way. But we can probably find someone at the mess hall that does, and I think I know the way from here.” A sudden jolt of memory struck him, however and Tern put down his duffel bag and opened it, checking to make sure no harm had come to the dross gun inside. After a few minutes of inspection, he found no harm worth mentioning. He looked up, “Yours should be okay; I get a bit paranoid about my gun’s health. Course you know all about that don’t you, Adrian; you had to put up with my antics ever since you met me.” Tern chuckled and stood up. And with out further ado, he left for the mess hall.

Frank walked around the hangar looking for some more work that needs to be done on any of the ships. Everything was taken care of by this point. There were not to many weapons experts like Frank around because of the intense training, he was actually the only one in the hangar at the moment, but it was because he did his job so well and so fast. He just kept scanning the ships with his specialized data pad, jotting a few notes here and there, but nothing needed his attention.

Even as the ship entered real space Frank didn't miss a step. He was far too used to this now. The Hymn's transition was far smoother than some of the other ships he has had the pleasure of being on any way.
Stacy spoke to Frank, her sentenced rolled out slowly. 'Frank, maybe you would want to look out the window... People are saying that the view is magnificent. This is really strange. Stacy almost never makes any commentary what so ever, that got Frank's attention. He stopped walking around and took his eyes off of the datapad for a second, then glanced back down at the datapad unsure of what to do. Frank bit his lip and turned his head towards the direction of the nearest window. He walked over to it, taking his time.

Once he got there, he took a very good long stare before even saying anything. He was speechless. "Well, would you look at that..." Frank sat his duffel bag on the ground and leaned up against the wall. Just taking in the view.

The mess of the Hymn was empty. Hold on a second, thought Adrian; let’s go back a step the mess was emptied. The ship had jumped a bit, much to Adrian’s discomfort, a siren had gone off and orders had been given out. Everyone in the mess had stood up and bustled out right past Tern and his fellow marine.
Sitting down in an abandoned chair, propping his boots on a table and snatching a sandwich from a tray, then Adrian looked up at Tern. “Well,” he said between bites, "I say we head to the hangar, with all those activity there is bound to be an engineer around, and anyway if there isn’t I know there is a tool box we can borrow.” The marine smiled, his thoughts taking on a tinge of wickedness, nothing like two marines playing with a high powered weapon in the middle of a transit to get the Engies stirring.
Bouncing to his feet the sniper threw the reminder of the sandwich into the air, caught it in his mouth and swallowed. Picking up the nearest mug he sniffed its contents. It was a dark ale, sticking his finger in it he tasted the liquid, spiced to perfection and so close to a solid that almost doesn’t need the cup. Draining the mug he set it back down on the table.
Getting his duffel from the floor and shouldering it, Adrian pivoted so he was facing Tern. “So, whatcha think, fine weather for my plan or do you think the fogs a little thick?”

On the Bridge...
"I hope we can save them too." Cibo replied honestly. She briefly turned away to look at the world in front of her. The SeFlaurind homeworld stood in front of them. The edge of the fiery sphere was still touching the world; the brilliantly bright rays outlined it with a silver halo. At a glance, it looked to be a lush green paradise. She could probably live a good chunk of her life there. "Moments like these are a bit too rare nowadays. Don't you agree?" she commented, giving off a tired smile. Cibo's hands quickly danced across her console, and a small display came up, magnifying the planet. It was a paradise. Emphasis on was, with few comments necessary. The smaller details of the world soured Cibo's mood, making her mind snap back a bit; It was still too soon to ask the Admiral the more important questions, but if everything worked out well, she'd have plenty of time. And there would be plenty of time for the Drathonians as well.

"I have never seen such a beautiful planet, So I suppose I do agree" Evelyn confided in Cibo, Staring at the tiny green ball so far away, though her eyes did not see at that moment. In reality, she was using the ship's sensors, seeing something like what Cibo herself was seeing, but in much more detail. She noted enemy fortifications and began preliminary mapping from their vantage point, feeding the information to Cibo to make some sort of sense out of it, to possibly beam to the troops headed down.

The Transport hurried on its way, heading into the system, past the orbits of the outer planets and closer to the target. Their ETA was about ten minutes, at their top STL speed. The fleet would hold its collective breath for a while.

Cibo quickly went over her console as information streamed into it. The imagery was much more detailed that what she pulled up a moment ago; she could even see Drathonian patrols as they went about the cities. "As typical of the Drathonians, they've taken the nicest, most comfortable buildings for themselves. These buildings have been crudely fortified to repel attacks from the indigenous population, which, from what I understand, uses either captured weapons or locally made chemical ones. Adequately supplied forces will be slowed down, but will inevitably cut through the defenses." The salt and pepper haired Intelligence Officer moved the view about, and focused on the patrols. For a moment or two, she watched them move about in lazy patterns around their cushy seats. "I'm guessing their patrols are mostly localized around their bases, with a few deep raids here and there to try and keep the local rebels unsteady. So long as the away team stays away from the upscale neighborhoods and in the ghettos, they should go unnoticed by the lizards." Cibo zoomed out a little and looked the many, once beautiful, cites over, taking note of whether or not an area was 'ghetto' or not. She quickly created maps of the various cites, of which she hurriedly created a color coded overlay option. "Here Evelyn, I'm forwarding this map to you. The overlay option, it's a little crude, but I'm sure it's good enough to tell the ground guys where the Drathonians and SeFlaurinds are at. I hope they like it. Give me enough time, and I'll even be able to create a 'Heat Map' of the Drathonian patrols." Cibo finished speaking. A moment or two past by slowly, and she realized she had addressed It by name for what may have been the first time. Her mind worked on this incident and what it implied...

"Forward what you have so far to the transport, Tight-beam laser transmission, so they at least have a map." Evelyn said, after looking over what the intelligence officer had come up with and finding it satisfactory. "How has this been so far as your first mission on a 'desk job?' " Evelyn asked, smiling warmly at Cibo.

She tucked that train of thought away for later; now wasn't the most ideal of times. "Consider it done Admiral." Cibo replied, sending the information to the transport. The next query from the Admiral was to be entirely expected from any other Terran, but not expected from a machine; it asked for her opinion. "Oh, this? I don't mind it at all, I mean, its a little nostalgic, and I guess just as rewarding as I remember it. Jobs like these, you get to know people a bit better, instead of going out to get boots dirty. Those snoop jobs were, well, a bit lonely. I guess I'm trying to say, I like it?" she sheepishly replied. In the beginning, Cibo thought the smiles and kindness was all a facade It was setting up, but what if It really meant it? That would mean that Cibo was being....no, she wouldn't think that far yet. She shoved those thoughts away for later, lest she become angry at herself.

"I'm glad you like the job." Evelyn answered, smiling at the intelligence agent. "Everyone has their place, I was lucky to have been created for a specific place, others must search for theirs" she continued, philosophically, the amicable expression still present on her face.

"Oh!" she sounded with surprise. "I guess. I guess you're right, that everyone has their own place in the Universe. Just that finding it is hard...like you said. Yeah." Cibo went on, a bit hesitant, a bit vulnerable in voice. The words struck a chord; Cibo had a problem that was rather difficult to solve. On one hand, she relished in the destruction of Drathonians. On the other hand, she was a little...hungry for attention, as she was the youngest sibling and got the most attention. Previous assignments were very, very fulfilling when concerning the misery of Drathonians, but left her socially awkward during and afterwords; it was rather embarrassing when she couldn't muster up enough social 'Oomph' to talk to a guy she took a liking too. Of course, Cibo looked down at the other women that took desk jobs. They got all the attention, the guys, so on, so forth. She believed that all they had to do was sit and look pretty. Now that she found herself in that kind of job she simply didn't know what to think anymore. "It would be really ironic if the job I thought the least of was the most fulfilling for me." Even if the circumstances were a little degrading, she couldn't help but laugh at herself in the confines of her noggin. Cibo looked up from her console, and at the breathtaking view again. It dawned on her again what she was doing. What It said. It was what Cibo was waiting for. It sounded like It was rather satisfied with It's job, provided it was telling the truth of course. Was it telling the truth? In fact, how did it go from about her liking her new job to philosophical fluff about people's places? The jump was odd. But. But, it was entirely possible it was natural. Was the Admiral pushing buttons, or was Cibo thinking too much? This, or that? THIS OR THAT?! The stress was really getting on her nerves. "I don't know why, but I suddenly wish I had something sour to eat. Like Kombu." She said aloud. Sour tastes always took Cibo's mind off of present matters, if only because the taste was worse than what happens.

"Perhaps once the mission is underway you could take a break and go to the mess for some." Evelyn suggested, smiling at the intelligence officer. The avatar remained mostly still, however, monitoring the current status of the mission. A sudden beep on the Comm officer's console broke the relative calm of the bridge, an urgent warning from command, turning out to be the response to a distress signal urging any available ships to help. The comm officer rerouted the message to Evelyn, who in turn rerouted it to Cibo's console. The message indicated that the Ovid system and the Alcor system were under heavy Drathonian attack, and that Ovid was in Dire need of help, but Alcor seemed to be faring rather well. It was stressed that the Ovid system's defenders were in disarray, and some form of command ship was needed, as well as anything that could help turn the tide. Although it was not explicitly stated they wanted the Hymn, it was heavily implied that the Flagship of the Terran fleet should attend. Evelyn spoke up to Cibo. "So, Intelligence officer, What do you make of this?" Her face seemed stressed, by the sudden revelation as well as the knowledge that she would have to make a decision, and her duty to both her battle group and her fleet was dividing her. She had, in reality, made her decision already, but she wanted to hear someone else's idea first, just to see.

"Admiral, you don't need me to point out they want the Hymn to help in the Ovid system. High Com never had been...particularly direct in stating what they want at times." Cibo replied. Where did It's loyalties really lie? With the fleet, as she was meant to, or with the fighting men and women of the Battle Hymn? This was no light issue; some people could be broken over choosing to fighting for those under them, or the big picture. It was a reoccurring theme in Terran stories, but an important one nonetheless. What would It choose? Either way, Cibo's job was to make sure the AI didn't crack under the stress, maybe... "I don't mean offense, but perhaps you want to have your cake, and eat it too? " The intelligence officer suggested. "There's probably something that can be done to maker sure the away team comes out fine. Like. Leaving part of the battle group to keep at this mission, while the Hymn, with the rest, to go to Ovid. I know, or think I know, that's what the people Higher Up would expect from us. That, or a surprise." Cibo replied carefully, picking her words with care. She took a gamble, and now she could only wait for Evelyn's choice. Really, the choice was her's and her's alone to begin with.

"We need the entire battle group here, they will be able to function without us for this mission. Besides, the Hymn is the only ship fast enough to make it in time to help. We will leave blue Squadron to the care of the battle group, and wish them well." Evelyn said, a hard look on her face. it was clear she disliked having to leave these people here, but she trusted the statistics were in the Terran's favor in this operation without the Hymn's help. Ovid, however, needed them. "Pilot, Set a course for the Ovid system at flank speed. We'll need to be there as fast as possible." She announced, then wirelessly ordered the officers to set the ship up for a major battle, getting the flight lines prepared for immediate tactical launch, making sure all battle stations and emergency stations were manned, and generally turning the enormous crew into a buzzing hive of activity.

"Not good." she thought. No matter what, the Admiral was going to be upset over this; in fact, it showed. Looking back, it wasn't really a good idea to try and edge her on to come up with a superior solution. It was a no-win kind of thing to begin with. Cibo furiously typed away on her console in anger. "Stupid, Stupid, Stupid!" This wasn't some kind of field-op where she was only gambling with herself; there's several others at stake. As she finished typing, several programs Cibo personally designed to crack Drathonian Encryption came up, set at standby. She was locked and loaded for the oncoming battle, but there was still the matter of bruised feelings...She might just be able to do something about that. Now. "Umm, Admiral? I don't know if you can eat, or even taste, but here, take this anyways." Cibo spoke, handing over a small, Mylar wrapped stick of food. "It's Kombu; a pickled seaweed snack thing. I know I said I wished I had it to eat, but I don't think we're allowed to eat on the bridge. So...well, you know." The intelligence officer uneasily explained. "I always chew on it when I really need to think, or if I'm bothered. So. Keep it." She awkwardly finished.

Evelyn took one of the sticks from Cibo "Thank you. And I don't mind so long as it doesn't affect the equipment" she said, Smiling at the Intelligence officer. The avatar stuck this stick of Kombu in her mouth, before making a displeased face and taking it out quickly. She looked around for a polite way to dispose of the snack before finally sticking it back it it's wrapper. With an embarrassed cough, she muttered "Little too sour for my taste."


Cibo laughed a little, her voice delicate and young, "Of course it's too sour!" Suddenly, her voice shifted, and sounded more her age, "It's the whole point of eating it. Something simple like this can be so unpleasant, that for the moment, it outweighs what's happening. This way, whoever eats it, doesn't brood for too long. It doesn't work all the time, but it's something." She paused for a moment, and then added on, "Well, on the other hand, you could try getting something really tasty instead, but for me, that's asking for trouble." Cibo looked the Admiral over once more; "Don't worry, I'm sure they'll be fine." she smiled back.

Among Green Squadron...
Unable to sit still, Steven was anxiously tapping his fingers on the command console. He did not like having to sit on the side lines while others got to have all the fun. Everything was prepped, the pilots were done with preflight procedures and were now simply waiting for the queue to take off.

"Damn Blues," he mumbled to himself as he stared blankly into space.

The Battle Hymn sent out its signals to the battle group, and after a wave of acknowledgments, was off, turning about before disappearing in a flash of light. Preparations began as soon as the huge ship was underway.

To say that the Hymn's crew was efficient was an understatement. Almost as soon as the Admiral's orders had been sent, they began to be carried out. Adrian and Tern would suddenly be set upon by hordes of crew rushing to their stations, all but ignoring the duo. The pilots of Green squadron (and all the other remaining squadrons for that matter) were informed of new plans, and ordered to get out of their ships so they could be moved about the hangar and properly set up for tactical launches. The bridge bustled with activity as twice the normal compliment of people made their way in to keep everything running smoothly, and this all within ten minutes of the Hymn's departure, on its 100 minute journey to Ovid.

Emma was mildly unhappy to be kicked out of her fighter so soon after getting it set up, but overjoyed that this gave her more time to fix the thing. Once it had been moved, she sought out Sai, the Engie that had helped her before. "Hey, Engie, looks like we have more time on our hands. Care to help me finish the repairs on my ship?"

Arcadia was out of her Scimitar quickly enough and gathered with all the other evicted pilots near the hangar entrance. He arms were crossed and her thoughts were grim, but she couldn't hold back the small smile from her lips. She was just too amazed, watching the hangar crew go to work moving the ships around.

After an exceptionally luxuriant stroll, Raji finally reached the hangar. Ironically, her laziness had no repercussions: she had almost another two hours to do her 5 minute prep on her fighter. As she strolled in, Raji immediately spotted Arcadia standing by the door, amidst a crowd of fidgety pilots who had been foolish enough to already prep their ships. "Well, hello!," Raji said to Arcadia as she approached, giving her hip-swing and vixen-face. "Looks like I'm still a bit early for flight prep, hmm?" She cracked a devious smile.

After leaving his own scimitar, Steven stood for a few moments to make sure he knew where the fighters were doing moved to. Then, satisfied with what he saw, moved over towards the rest of the pilots. Upon getting closer he caught sight of the elusive Raji finally show up. "Well, Miss Sedhik, finally decided to show up eh? I trust you have a good reason for not showing up when the order came through the first time." Steven said approaching her.

Some distance away, a Pilot was speaking similar words to members of her Squadron. "Let it go, Captain." Then she gave a faint smirk to Raji. "Apparently so. Somebody's in trouble somewhere, and I'm guessing they're really important if they need the Hymn to save their asses."

With all the hangar bay completely rearranged, she noticed that Green Squadron was front of the line for deployment. When orders began lighting up datapads, she didn't even bother to read it. Arcadia took off at a run to the Stygian Retribute. Even though everything had already been calibrated, checked for proper conditions and so on, Langdon couldn't help but check it all again. It was perfect, though, and she just made sure she was ready to go when the call was made to deploy. In the passing moments, she actually bothered to see what the orders were:
To all pilots: Prepare for combat

An Hour Later...
The scene that unfolded as the Battle Hymn of the Republic reverted back into realspace was not as calm and pristine as it had been the last time, at least according to most people. Some people find space battles to be beautiful, if viewed from a distance. This Battle was no exception to either rule. Blazes of Crimson, Verdant Green, Audacious Yellows, and violent flashes of white betrayed the ferocity that was fought in the battle below, and this was just the fire being exchanged by lasers. Innumerable objects flew, invisible to the naked eye, between the ships, impacting on Hull and shield, causing explosions, sparks, and rainbows of color on impact, Hundreds of tine dots with needlepoints of light spun about, signifying a ferocious starfighter battle for superiority going on in between the two opposing groups of warships.

Those groups were quite handily disproportionate in size, too. On one side, colored in ghastly reds and grays, was the Drathonian fleet, comprised of about 200 ships, most notably a huge number of Drake and Raptor class ships, but the number of smaller support ships was staggering, all told the Hymn counted 25 Drakes, 60 Raptors, and 125 assorted smaller ships.

The other group was comprised of Two battlegroups, the battered remains of Arcturus, comprised of two Mars class destroyers, a Pluto missile boat, and three Glaive class cruisers. The other, showing little sign of wear, was the newly arrived Kentaurus, bringing a Neptune, ten Mars, 15 Glaive, and three Pluto into the fray, its two medical frigates hanging back and out of the fight.

"Pilot, Take us in!" Evelyn ordered, watching the Hymn ramp up to flank speed, arriving within Solaris range in a matter of moments. From here, orders weren't really needed, the crew knew what to do. Evelyn and the Hymn's computer assigned targets to the stations, and the stations carried out their duties. A Dual blast of Supernova-strength energy lanced out from the battleship's main cannons, slicing through an Unsuspecting Drake as if it were nothing. The resulting explosion damaged the shields of several nearby Drathonian ships, who turned to face their new attacker. The Hymn began to take a beating to its shields, but the multi-layered system could be buffed and reinforced several times over, so there weren't any worries, Except for fighters and light cruisers, which could fly within the shields and hit the massive ship.

The Hymn retaliated to this threat by launching its fighters. Green squadron would be the first out the magcon fields and into the fray.

"The Drathonians! It looks like they're focusing on Battlegroup Arcturus, like saving us for a later snack, Admiral!" Cibo told the Admiral. "I'm sorry, but there's too much chatter for me to make out anything meaningful of the Drathonian communications." She painfully admitted; one of her favorite parts went out the window. Cibo quickly pulled up specifications about the ships from each fleet; from what she understood of the Terran/Drathonian ship to ship ratio, they'd be fine after all. "Well, almost."

The Terran fleet formation rallied around the Hymn, ten Mars destroyers and three Pluto missile boats taking up tactical firing positions in a frigate formation parallel with the Hymn. The Neptune quickly veered itself behind the Hymn, the two battered Mars and the Pluto moving to ensure the carrier's safety. The com officer of the Hymn patched a connection over the bridge speakers. "This is Admiral Tarrel Higgins of the Kentaurus. It's good to see you, Hymn. I'll keep the situation report brief. Arcturus was able to make it here fairly quickly, which put them in a tight spot. By the time I got here twenty minutes ago, the lizards had put some serious damage into the Arcturus. Admiral Levens was forced to separate the aft segment and evacuate it from the system. The fore segment was destroyed briefly before you arrived. We have no idea if Levens was able to evacuate successfully. We should be reinforced by the Procyon Battlegroup within the hour. Whether Drathonian infantry has been deployed to Ovid III is unknown, all our communications with the surface have been jammed. The Achernar Battlegroup has reinforced the Alcor, and their last communication indicated Drathonian forces will soon be forced to retreat. I'm forwarding all our information to you on a level-1 encryption laser stream. Command is yours, Fleet Admiral. Over and out." The voice crackled into silence, leaving a faint hum as the bridge returned to the vacuous silence of space.

Presently, the focused fire of the fleet managed to destroy a Drake that had sustained considerable shield damage from the Solaris Cannons. The Drathonian fleet adjusted formation to protect the more injured ships, and within moments, the Hymn found itself being assailed by hundreds of freshly-launched starfighters.

Steven grinned wide and then stuck his thumb and forefinger in between his teeth and whistled loudly, after a long wait it was finally Green Squadron's turn to have some fun. He eagerly jogged off towards his fighter in its new place at the head of the line. After swinging up onto the wing and hopping into the cock pit, he slid his helmet into place and sealed up his suit. The rest of flight prep had become a habit for him as he went about checking the statuses of his wingmen as well as finishing prepping his own fighter.

"This Green Leader, time for the pre-flight comm check. Sound off, pilots!" Steven said as he finished up.

The launch sequence started its rushed countdown, and Raji gave a tap to her confirmation button, lighting up an indicator over the number '5' in Steven's HUD. She looked beside her to the Icarus. That idiot better pull through, she thought to herself. If there was one person in her squadron that she disliked more than Captain Kerning, it was her moron wingman.

"Green four, reporting in, all systems read green" Emma checked in, staring out the magcon screen, she was ready to be out there, in the fight.

Arcadia had responded immediately, giving the Captain the "all green" signal as soon as she heard his voice. Now it was just a matter of time before she could actually get to prove herself in this unit. Last time had been one bullshit flight, cut short by some idiot in engineering. Thinking of that reminded her to be sure to give their department some serious shit when she got back...

...If she came back.

Steven was running through several little mundane tasks he did to pass time will waiting for launch confirmation, such as: adjusting the seat, inspecting the flight control systems, stretching himself out, and even checking to make sure all the lights were flickering with the right shade of color. Mentally checking off pilots who checked in, he habitually went about his tasks. His mind continually stopped on the question that nagged every commander just before a battle, which was 'What do I have to do to get my men through this alive?'

"From what it looks like outside, this is a decent sized fleet battle," he thought as he spared a glance out the magcon at the ships passing silently through the dead of space. As well as seeing all of the ships, he also caught sight of the edge of a planet through the opening in the hangar. "Hm, a gas giant. Fun." he mumbled.

As the pilots of Green Squadron finished prepping their fighters, Steven keyed the comm to message hangar control. "This is Green Leader to Hangar Control. We are reading green across the board and are requesting permission to launch when ready." Steven said.

"Send me whatever sensor data you can on the enemy fleet, and we'll try to exploit their weaknesses." Evelyn said "I want us to act like a C&C for the entire Terran fleet here" she ordered, her eyes gone oddly blank and her body completely still, aside from her moving moth that was shouting out orders, not only to Cibo, but to other bridge crew as well. "Communications, try to find the most common Drathonian signal in use and jam it" went one order "Engineering, what's the status on our power source and propulsion?" went another. "Pilot, Bring us to bear on target 88-0427." It was rapid fire orders, each one clear and concise, loud enough for the intended recipient to hear. It was obvious that Evelyn was in tactical mode, She had every known Naval tactic at her disposal, through the ship's computer.

The Drathonians took advantage of the sudden movements, catching several ships off guard as they exposed damaged shields in order to form around the Hymn, they fired their main guns in a barrage that took out a Glaive, and heavily damaged a Mars, as well as one of the Pluto-class boats. The ships all formed up in a defensive grid, far enough away from one another that the Hymn could only hit one at a time; obviously they had learned something. The undamaged Drakes set their frontal shields to full, depending on the fighters to keep their flanks and rears clear, they set up a pattern of fire that, while covering a large area, was predictable and easy to dodge if a ship was paying attention and running at full. The smaller support ships formed a line behind the fighters, getting ready to move in close once the Fighters head dealt with each other, they would fly inside shields and pummel exposed hulls from point blank. If they made it through that was.

"Looks like the Drathonians remember the Hymn, and have set up large ship formation accordingly." Cibo's hand sliced across her console, and a small display of the formation came up; here eyes gave a quick glance before she went on, "Defense. They want the fighters to do the work first, then the support craft, and then the larger ships." This was all new to her; sure, she received more training on ship to ship combat, but she hadn't....hadn't thought it would give her such, dare she say it? Thrill. The idea of killing so many of the Drathonians in such a pretty way gave her chills that ran down her spine. The explosions lit up her face, and gave her new life. She wanted to punish them, crush them, and make them squeal! Her brains were wracked for ideas. She found one. "Admiral; recommend taking them down in that order, hitting their flanks covered by the little ones. Maybe start kiting their somewhat clunky formation and pick them off. Keep our own forces' formation fluxing, moving, spread out the damage." she smiled out with chilling glee. She loved coming up with ideas, and this job was getting better and better.

"Thank you Cibo. Your conclusion is the same as mine, so this is obviously a good way to work." Evelyn answered her assistant, a smile on her otherwise impassive face. The Hymn shifted it's orientation, bringing the monstrous Solaris cannons to bear. "Weapons, How long till the Solaris cannons are ready again?" The avatar asked the Weapons Engineering department, which was in control of monitoring the temperamental weapons. The Hymn's turbolaser batteries continued firing, whittling away at the shields of the Drakes.

The damaged vessels edged closer to the Hymn. It was the most powerful ship in the Terran Armada, yes, but it was also an excellent meat shield. The rest of the fleet did similar, slowly letting themselves drift closer to the Hymn's powerful shield bubble. The missile boats let off a barrage of fire. Most of it slammed into the oncoming wave of ships, and the rest did a fair amount of damage to two Raptors. The missiles wrought havoc on the fighter screen, blasting out countless fighters and support craft. In the confusion of the effective cheap shot, a cloud of Scimitars, from the Kentaurus and Arcturus battlegroups, swarmed out like angry bees to meet them. The dogfight had begun, turning into a massive cloud of speeding ships, laser shots, and explosive impacts that filled nearly half the space between the two fleets. As ship-to-ship blasts shot from side to side, they tore through the fighters, vaporizing friend and foe alike. The Hymn hangar sent an urgent message to all of its pilots: launch immediately, all ships are authorized to launch. A flare of light stood out amongst the darkness of space on the other end of the magcon. One of the outermost Mars came asunder in a massive explosion, bursting debris out like a microwaved hamster. The fleet focused its fire on either flank of the Drathonians. Another Drake was reduced to scrap, and two Raptors burst at the seams.

Raji idly stared into her visor, focusing intently on the game of Space Invaders she was playing over her HUD. It felt a bit ironic. She jumped in her seat at the launch command. She quit the game and punched her throttle, her scimitar shooting out the magcon and into the midst of the massive fleet formation. She idled for a moment, realizing that, despite her reservations about him, she needed her squadron commander to figure out where to even begin.

Steven's eye twitched and he ground his teeth as Raji blatantly took off. He and the rest of the squadron took off shortly thereafter and flew past the magcon and into the fight.

"Green Five, regroup, now!" Steven growled into the comm, doing his best to keep from getting angry. "And, mind you, while there is no time now, we will be talking about this after the conflict dies down." As he had said, now was not the time for discussion. A point that was quite evident once one got a good look at the sheer size of battle being waged. It was a sight that reminded him of images from World War II taken at the Battle of Midway; massive ships firing on one another as fighters swarmed everywhere, only this time it was taking place in three-dimensional space.

"Alright, as of now our main objective is to repel enemy fighters and light cruisers who attempt to get through the MagCon. Form up into your pairs and follow loose on my right wing. On my signal break off and engage the enemy. Pilots, stay alert and watch each others' backs. Do that and we will get through just fine." Steven said into the comm as he scanned over the battle that was being waged for a good opening. As he looked about, his eyes caught sight of one of the moons of the great gas giant. It was decent sized for a moon with what looked to be one great landmass covering most of the surface with soft wheat brown, almost lavender colored plains that must have covered thousands of square miles in both hemispheres. This great landmass was split by a single vast ocean that stretched across half the planet along the equator before turning and stretching up towards one of the poles to make a large 'L'. That was when his mind began to connect dots together, and out of curiosity looked around. To one side of the gas giant he saw the planet's sun, a small blue star, and on the far side of the giant he saw a far away red giant star, the second sun making this a binary system.

"Oh my god, that is Ovid III," he said, momentarily dumbstruck.

"Did you say something, Green Lead?" Green Two asked over the comm.

"Hm? Oh, it is nothing," Steven said with one last look towards the besieged moon before regaining his composure. "Enemies closing in on our position. Get ready to break away in...now! Break off! With that fighter groups broke out of formation to engage the enemy.

Raji rolled her eyes at the tight-ass captain's admonishments. She broke off and up the side of the Hymn toward the oncoming Drathonian vessels that had sneaked out of the massive dogfight. Green Six was on her five, hanging back a good bit. It seemed like he wanted to keep his distance from his unruly wingmate. She gave an angry sneer. She quickly picked up on something to fight, as the dogfight started to drift more and more into the Terran formation. She eyed her target... it was a bit much to take on herself. "Stygian Retribute, this is Black Jupiter. You two care to join me for a party? I've got a Drathonian corvette with half a dozen escort fighters entering shield perimeter up the Hymn's keel. Six and I can kite the fighters while you lay down some hurt on the gunship. In?" As if she had a choice...

Arcadia sighed as Raji jetted into space without a command or even a thought to the matter. She really liked the woman because of her unusual distaste for everything masculine, but it was becoming more and more difficult to defend her actions. This time, there would be absolutely nothing Pilot Langdon could do for her.

Per Captain Kerning's order, Arcadia exited the safety of the Hymn's magnetic containment field and formed up to the right of Green Two, assuming her proper place as Green Three. She took a brief glance to where Emma should be as her wingman, a multitude of thoughts flitting through Arcadia's mind. Mostly, it was worry for the younger pilot. This was going to be an extremely intense situation.

Then the signal was given and Langdon's thoughts broke off as she separated from the Squadron. A thought still lingered, however. "Four, take the lead. Targets are at your discretion; I'll make sure we don't have a replay of our last engagement."

"Copy, Three, Four is in the lead. Range to target, 200 Kilometers. They should be in effective range in about 5 seconds" Emma said, moving her fighter in front of Arcadia's. She began tracking a number of targets, looking for those who were moving slower or showing poor tactics, they would be the easiest to take down and reduce the amount of confusion in the battle. She modulated her shields to 75% forward, 25% rear, and armed her laser cannons, getting ready to fire, which she did as soon as they were within range, her first few blasts missing wide, but finally tracking and scoring hits on the shields of a Scourge. The craft shook and it's shields sparked and flashed as they were whittled away by the pure energy released into them by Azure's lasers.

"We'll be there in due time, Black Jupiter. Four, let them go, I'll keep watch. If they give us trouble, we'll take care of them. For now, hard left, keep to the Hymn's underbelly." Following her own orders, Arcadia tipped the controls left and headed for the small assault convoy. "Seven and Eight, I'm extending that invitation. Party at the Hymn's underside, and we could use a few more guns."

The Hymn continued it's path of destruction, meticulously destroying the Drathonian ships as the Fleet at large fired on everything else. So far, she had taken out 4 Drakes and a raptor, but the ships were becoming harder to hit. the Hymn's shields had been pummeled down to 50%, and while still fully capable of protecting the ship, they would go out long before all the Drakes did.

The Drakes themselves, concentrated fire around the ships along the edges of the formation, forcing the Terran ships to either bunch together and become easier targets, or flee and become prey to the support craft. It seemed Numeric superiority was winning the day, despite the Hymn's contribution.

The fleet battle continued to rage, considerable numbers of fighters exploding in tiny flares all across the backdrop, like whizzbang fireworks were going off. The Drathonian vessels, recovering from the initial clash, began to break off and head for their target: the Hymn.

"Ma'am! Some Drathonians are breaking off and are heading for the Hymn...wait, it looks like some fighters are going to crack at them." Cibo sounded. It wasn't exactly in their favor, advanced tech or not. Frustration began to creep into her voice as new information blurred across her screen."Recommend rearranging formation order. The ships at the outer edge need a breather. Again." It was a numbers game, and so far, they still hadn't reached that critical ratio between Lizards and Terrans yet. "Not good...there has to be something I hadn't thought up yet..."

"I copy, three" Emma responded quickly, mildly annoyed that she had to break off, but that annoyance went away when her final shots punched through the Scourge's shields and scored a direct hit on its power plant, turning the once hideous fighter into space dust and shrapnel. She followed her Peer to the underside of the Hymn, scanning for enemies.

CadetNewb
Posts: 296
Joined: Fri Dec 24, 2010 12:59 am

Re: Chapter 7: Trying to Fix Things

Post by CadetNewb » Sun Jan 16, 2011 3:34 pm

The squadron of red striped, grey Scimitars idled in the shadow of the Hymn. The scarred fighters where close in formation waiting on their leads orders.
“Sir, Orders?” asked Jimmy “Red Ukraine” over the squad channel, not questioning why the Corporal had pulled them out just waiting for his next move. When all he received was a quick flash of light from his Squad Leader he began to tense up.
The squad stayed motionless and then, the Corporal came over the channel, “Red Squadron, it is my regret to inform you that The Great Fox is gone, we have lost our berth.” His voice was solemn, backed with steely determination.
The shock of the destruction of his home stunned Jimmy, silencing any sort of useless protestation. As he focused his mind getting back into discipline he heard his wingman asked, “Red Siberia, is this confirmed?”
“Yes,” responded the Corporal, “I am going over the fleet channel, stay steady pilots.” Jimmy just nodded his head, a silent response to the Squad Leader. Checking his systems he waited for the announcement.
“This is Corporal Denisov of the Great Fox’s Red Squadron, we have received confirmation that the Fox is gone, requesting a temporary berth for the remainder of the battle. Respond swiftly fleet, Red Lead out.” The quiet announcement of Red Siberia would be a deep cut felt only when the battle was done.
As Jimmy warmed up his Scimitars weapons, it was clear to him that the Squad was restless for revenge. Red Squadron waited for the Fleet response, they could unleash their fury soon.


"Ma'am, It looks like we lost another ship, 'The Great Fox'. A fighter squadron belonging to it is under our shadow. Temporarily reassigning it to us. We're the main dish, we'll need their help." Cibo told the Admiral. Now that she looked at her, it appeared as if she lost her emotions, if just for battles. She'd have to keep that in mind; if the feelings didn't return, odds of a more...severe malfunction could increase. She quickly sent out a message to this 'Red Squadron' telling that they were reassigned to the Hymn. These pilots wouldn't lose their home twice in the same day. "I bet the away team is doing better." Cibo thought to herself.


It was just then as Frank finally found gave himself a break Stacy told him of the new task. 'Frank, although you might be enjoying the view right now, you have some matters that you need to attend to. The Hymn is moving into combat and you need to check the guns.' Like Stacy said, the Hymn was heading into battle and all the big guns needed to be checked out and prepped for the show.
Now walking toward the engineering section through the twisted hallways and corridors his mind was back in focus. Frank started to work on the way using the S.S.W.D.D has he navigated the hallways, not even looking up to see if he was going the right way.

Frank had inspected the guns not to long ago, so mostly everything was working just fine.

*****

((I get five a asterisks because I am special.))

The battle had started and Frank was finished with the prep work long before the Hymn had entered realspace. Frank had positioned himself inside the access point to one of the Solaris cannons, watching the battle unfold through a nearby window. Stacy spoke to Frank, right as the Solaris canons started firing.
'Well Frank, here it is. This is what you have been waiting for isn't it?'
A grin large grin escaped from Frank's lips as the large destructive beam tore through a drake turning it into a large pile of shrapnel.
"It's one thing to know these inside and out, to work on it, but it is nothing compared to watching it at work. Hey Stace..." Frank was relaxed, leaning his shoulder against the window. It was odd, Frank hadn't been this at ease in forever, always making himself busy with work. Now, at the oddest of times...

"Thanks for all the help, really." There are few people alive that would thank their tools for helping them finish a job after all, a tool normally can't respond and the person would look rather strange talking to his screwdriver. To Frank, Stacy is more than just a common datapad.

There was a long pause between Frank and Stacy's response. Everything seemed still and quiet to Frank. The raging battle outside seemed to sit still, his heart seemed still. Even for something small like this, it meant so much to Frank.

"Thank you Frank. That means a lot to me."


Frank would quickly discover that his hard work on the Solaris cannons wouldn't be paying off: the Hymn was now receiving such heavy fire, dropping its shields for even a moment to fire the cannons would spell disaster. Cibo and Evelyn would both soon be receiving a message from the Hymn's ops commander that would make them aware of this. Meanwhile, outside the Hymn, the battle continued to rage. The heavy damaged inflicted on many of the ships on both sides was now spelling disaster. Eight more Drakes had turned to dust at the hands of the Terran fleet, as well as six Raptors. Though the number of heavy vessels was quickly being culled by the Hymn, the sheer volumes of Raptors was overwhelming the fleet. Three more Mars had followed the UTR Great Fox in their fates, as well as one of the precious Plutos. Four more Mars were heavily damaged, and would not last much longer under the strain of the battle. The Hymn needed to change tactics; the casualties of the battle had already reached a horrific number.

Targeting systems on the vessels of the fleet reported the dwindling number of ships with cold, emotionless honesty:
Drathonian Fleet
12/25 Drakes
51/60 Raptors
89/125 Support Vessels

Terran Fleet
Kentaurus
Hymn
8/12 Mars
3/4 Pluto
14/18 Glaive


"Okay, Greens Three through Eight are going that way, then I could move Green Two and I over to that side and have Nine and Ten follow as auxiliary fighters. That leaves Greens Eleven and Twelve to sweep up those that get past us." Steven thought as he took out his second bogey of the day.
"Greens Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, and Eight, proceed as you are. Greens Nine and Ten, you two will follow behind Green Two and I as auxiliaries. Green Eleven and Green Twelve, you will run clean up behind us as well as watching or tails. Hop to it, pilots." Steven said into the comm as Green Two finished up as well. Pulling back on the controls, he swung his fighter around, and with the other pilots following on his wing flew off towards the bow of the Hymn.
"Bogeys incoming, Sir." Green Two said in an almost bored tone.
"Ya'll know the drill, break off and engage at your disgretion." Steven responded. He banked a little down and to the right and open fire on a scourge fighter that was in pursuit of an unfamiliar scimitar, the shots caught the scourge on the left side and blew up in a spectacular light show as the rounds punched through the shielding.


"No, no, no, no, no....." Cibo muttered to herself. It was all starting to hit the fan, not literally of course, but it might as well have been. To make matters worse, the Ops Commander gave them even worse news; they couldn't even use the Solaris Cannons thanks to the incoming fire. They were short on Mars Class units...but there were still plenty of Glaive class corvettes to sling around, she coldly reasoned. And those Raptors about fit the bill for largest pain in the @ss for the day. But something else suddenly flitted into her mind; pretty much all the UTR ships were faster than the Drathonian equivalents. If worse came to worse, they could run. And if they ran, the Drathonians would either stay behind, or follow. More likely follow, they always preferred that. And if they followed, with the Hymn acting as rear guard, they'd all close ranks as they followed. If they closed ranks, it would be easier to hit several of them at once. On the other hand, there was also the planetary system nearby to consider. If they fled towards the gas giant, and disappeared over it's rim, they'd be able to quickly regroup, turn, and fire on the Drathonians. It was worth sharing. "Ma'am, I don't want to sound craven, but a tactical retreat may be very beneficial to us. If we fall back, the Drathonians are sure to follow, and, naturally, their ranks would close up in pursuit. If we fall back towards one of the planets, disappear over the horizon and suddenly turn around, we'd be able to get off a few good shots as they pass the planetary rim, before they overshoot us in their hurry to catch up. We might even be able to get more shots off at them as they turn around to re-engage us. In fact..." Cibo quickly popped in a stick of Kombu into her mouth before going on, "A variant of this would have us in two groups. The first group would retreat a little ahead of the second, but I dunno, set up shop over the planet's edge? The second group would bring in the Drathonians for the first group to open fire on. We, the Hymn, would definitely have to be in the second group as bait. I'm guessing we'd also give targeting data for the first group? If so, I'd say the Raptors go into hell first." She quickly swallowed the mash in her mouth, "If it screws up, we'd be either a little better or worse than before, with the battle kinda restarting and all."


"The fleet will have to make a Microjump, a standard retreat would be suicide" Evelyn noted, still perfectly still except her mouth moving to speak. her eyes began glowing a bit more brightly, the amount of information she was processing was suddenly so Immense; she was planning jumps for every ship in the fleet. "Cibo, I need you to begin an attack plan starting from our exit vector" the Avatar asked, pertinent information suddenly being displayed on-screen. She contacted the Comms officer, attaching a packet to send out coordinates and jump courses to all the ships in the fleet, as well as inform them of the plan on encrypted channels.

A dozen brazen Raptor-class ships took advantage of the damaged Mars at the edge of the formation, boosting forward to cut them off from help, the rest of the ships seemd to be more busy with the Drakes. From close range, the Raptors poured fire into the four beleagered Mars, hoping to make short work of them.


“Alright, this battle is about to turn into a situation,” Corporal Jan’s voice was not grim, it almost seem to be joking, “I believe it may be obvious, or hopefully you all are rapidly figuring it out now, that we are outnumbered. Grievously.”
Siberia paused, he was making his decision. The whole squadron could see the shining darts of the Hymn’s Green Squadron fighting off the enemy dog fighters. A slight clicking sound heralded that the Corporal had switched channels.
“This is Corporal Jan, Squadron Lead of Temporary Attachment RS2 of the Battle Hymn, Battle Hymn Green Squadron we are moving in to support. Confirm?” Siberia’s voice had been firm and he had begun to move forward before he ended his message. The rest of the Red Squadron followed him.

Gunning his engine Red Ukraine turned his head, seeing his wingman, he said, “Uzbekistan you watch my back. Don’t let any of those pretty Drath women distract you, alright?” As Uzbekistan, or Ruze as he was always trying to be called, quickly outpaced Jimmy, the pilot realized something was wrong. Then, with a distinct crackle of sparks his Scimitar’s engine died.
Checking gauges, Ukraine discerned that he still had all his weapons active and there were no breaches in his hull. As he double checked all his readings and tried to breathe some life back into the engine a fleeting memory flashed through his mind.
He was on the converted fighter deck of the Great Fox, the Mars class had never been meant to be a carrier and the ten squadrons packed into to it were all crowded and the lighting in the holds was dim, almost murky. As the Arcturus Battlegroup’s flyboys had responded to the Drathonian attack Jimmy could have sworn he had seen a thin, dull scaled figure backing away from his fighter and disappearing.
As his mind slammed back into the present, Ukraine primed his weapons and switched on the radio. Making sure his glare goggles were in place he began his message, “This is Private Eremenko of Temporary Attachment RS2, Hymn Respond, I am floating, engine down; weapons are active. Probable cause: Moonie sabotage while berthed on the late Great Fox. Recovery beacon is active, squadron nearby, but engaged. Repeat, Hymn please respond.”
None of the enemy had seen the lone Scimitar, but it was only a matter of time. Jimmy sat idle as his Squadron went to help the Green Squadron. As he watched for the arrival of a Drathonian vulture pilot a single thought rang throughout his mind, Ruze give ‘em hell for me. Then he prepared to dive into the darkly tinted world of combat as seen through his glare goggles.


"Yes, Ma'am!" Cibo replied with renewed vigor. "Seems the Raptors 'll get sent into hell first after all." she thought. This had to happen fast. Very fast, if they were to win. Her hands blurred as she brought up the exit vectors, and looked over the Drathonians' positions; she quickly rotated the display as to see the battle from their perspective. Personally, and from prior experience, she firmly believed Drathonians were only unpredictable when fighting in person, and not so when more distant, like say, sitting in a ship's bridge. It was time to put it to the test. From this, Cibo could already tell what a good bit of the enemy fleet would do in response to the sudden micro jump, dead on. "Well, at least in theory." She admitted to herself. Cibo plotted in the appropriate firing solutions for the Mars class ships to handle, plus a program designed to work out minor changes, made from other, partially cannibalized programs. Next, there were the one's which she couldn't predict very well, but were important enough to ensure death upon. She'd have to lord over the fates of those ships personally, after the micro-jump. If Cibo had her way, the targeted Raptors would hopefully turn and accelerate towards the formation, and the Hymn in specific; the Battle Hymn's Solaris Cannons would deliver several glancing blows instead of dead eye shots; the beams would leak, and also diffract slightly. The initial shots would decimate the shields of said Raptors. More importantly, the extra diffraction and beam leakage caused by the glancing hits would hopefully wipe out a vast number of the enemy support craft, making way for the plethora of Glaive Corvettes, all of which had better live up to the title of 'Ship Killers.' Something came up on a screen to her left, her eyes briefly flickered to them and back to her own master plan. "Sh**." she thought. "Admiral, four hurt Mars, cut off by Raptors. Need guns bad. Kill Raptors, save Mars, for me?" she slowly, half mindfully pleaded. All her focus went into getting ready for the micro-jump, constantly changing and revising the plan; she could barely pay attention to anything else. Another distraction turned her eyes away from the main screen for a split second. "Red Squadron Scimitar dead in water, please send retrieval." her voice suddenly dry. Cibo was just starting to sound like a zombie.


Admiral Higgins' time to shine. As the command crew of the Hymn was too busy calculating the billion variables needed to pull off the microjump, the Kentaurus' Admiral was still intently focused on every detail of the battle. He caught the approach of the Raptors almost immediately, swearing loudly. "#$&(^%$ $(&%^&*^$# $%&^!!!!! Ballsy-ass lizard (^&$#%#s!! Com, open a priority one fleet channel! All ships, this is Admiral Higgins. We have a dozen Raptors moving in for a kill on our right flank! Left and center, pull up in front of the Hymn's port, now! Right, hang in there! Take a 45 degree drop to port at full impulse! Hymn, full turn starboard! When those Mars drop out, drop shields and let those Raptors have it! Fleet will cover your hide on this one! Move it people! When their shields are down, let them have it!" By the end of hiss message, Higgins was practically screaming in his urgency. He was standing in front of a guardrail on his bridge, clutching it so tight his hands were turning white. "Trust me on this one, Evelyn, there's no time..." As he whispered hoarsely, almost to emphasize his point, one of the four cutoff Mars shuddered and burst. Higgins felt the loss like a punch to the gut. His face seemed to visibly age, the wrinkles from years of worry cutting across it like fissures. In all his years in command, this was the single worst encounter he'd been in since the fall of Terra. The mere thought of that chilling day brought a numbness to his body.


Raji picked up on the recovery beacon that suddenly blinked to life on her tactical display, midway between the small assault group and her wing. She couldn't wait for Arcadia and Emma; that dead-in-the-water knucklehead was about twenty seconds away from getting stepped on like a bug. "Six, target formation is headed straight for that downed fighter! Let's move! I'll pull the fighter escort, you do something about that gunship!" Though Icarus was loathe to take Raji's orders, he knew she was right. They had a fellow pilot to save. Punching the throttle, the two ships rocketed past the drifting scimitar towards their target. Icarus looped a wide arc under the group to avoid detection as Raji shot head-on at their formation, guns blazing. At full-speed, she overshot them in an instant, but immediately slammed on her reverse thrusters, jolted to a halt, and flipped her scimitar upside-down to swiftly move in for another pass. The fighters, detecting that she meant business, scrambled into action. Five of them quickly looped around to meet her, but the sixth edged closer to the gunship. Raji cursed at this development, as even one extra fighter escorting the gunship would make things exceptionally more difficult for Icarus. There was little she could do, though, as she quickly had to go into a manic series of dips and dives as her dogfight with four Scourges and a Rex began. Six, meanwhile, zipped up beneath the gunship, in an effort to blitz the odd-looking Rex he was left to contend with. It was well-prepared, however, and made a quick sideways shimmy to avoid his fire before turning after him to give chase. The gunship, meanwhile, was left to wreak havoc on the lower sections of the Hymn, pummeling away at the tough plating with its huge suite of weapons.


"This is Captain Kerning, Green Lead. I copy that Corporal, we would love the company, command your squad as you see fit. See ya at the party." Steven replied almost casually to the leader of the other squadron. "Hm, get to fly co-op now. This should be fun."
With Red Squadron on its way, Steven took a brief moment to re-check the status of his wingmen. His group was fairing well, having taken out six enemies between the six pilots, and the other half of Green Squadron was doing well as well, having taken out a good number of enemies themselves. But then something caught his attention, Raji was at it again, but given the circumstances of the issue, he figured he would not reprimend her about not consulting him first.

***
"Right away, ma'am." Alphonse mumbled dryly to himself as he received new data. At once he set to work transfering it to the rests of the fleet. "Busy work. Busy work. Busy work. That is all this is. I suppose I shouldn't really complain since I did get a good position just out of the academy..." Alphonse thought to himself as his fingers flew over the keys entering commands.
"Information is away, Admiral." he stated as he hit the last key.
"And I don't put myself directly in harm's way, unlike those other under acheivers I went to school with."

Arcadia could only acknowledge and hope that Raji came out of her rescue mission alive; it was all quickly becoming a deadly scenario for the Terrans, and Arcadia quickly recognized the fact. "Emma, don't get distracted now. Stay with me. The Hymn's going to take it up the ass if we don't do something quick. Full throttle, little lady." As she spoke the words, Arcadia accelerated, engines now at their full output. The targets came into effective range mere seconds later, and she decelerated, opened fire on the gunship and accelerated once more as she dove underneath it, preparing for a second run.

The first words out of Dilshod "Uzbekistan" Ivlivinevya's mouth were, "Damnit 'Kraine! You couldn't have taken ten seconds to check your horse?" He swung around quickly, flying a basic perimeter around the sitting duck that was Ukraine's ship. He sighed, and he went from angry to calm in a matter of seconds. "Ah, it's alright, 'Kraine. I won't let 'em hurtcha. Can't be losing my wingman now, can I? But you owe me a drink after this one." Then the enemies focus switched to near motionless Scimitar. Without awaiting command or request, Dilshod dove toward the Drathonians attempting to eliminate his wingman. He followed up right behind Raji, finishing off one ship that she had left weakened. "Hello Green Squadron, this is Ruze. Glad to see I have some aid saving my wingman's ass."


Watching the dull flashes as the Green Squadron Pilot and his Wingman fought off the Drathonian pilots. Jimmy grimaced; the battle was just out of his range. He pushed his glare goggles up onto his forhead, looking around the cockpit he contemplated his situation.
He couldn’t go forward, he had tried that already when the Squadron advanced, so what could he do? Checking his systems a third time, he found out the obvious, he could shoot and breathe. With a sudden thought he let out a bark of laughter and he couldn’t wipe a wide spread grin from his face. He had tested most the thrusters and most of them didn’t work. As he let out another barking laugh, he tested the front and ventral thrusters, both gave him a little nudge in their respective directions.
“Hey, Ruze, I think I’m about to do something very amusing. I may not have tested my horse, but that Moonie did poor work.” Sending the message to his wingman Jimmy pulled his glare goggles back down.
Using the Scimitars small front thrusters, Ukraine turned his ship, the back of it acting as an axis, until his ventral engine was now his rear engine.
Looking at his controls he chuckled, “Well, this is certainly a different way of flying.” Muttering to himself lightly he turned off his distress beacon.
Activating the ventral engine Jimmy began to move forward, closing in on the battle, he shook his head; he could only use his missiles in this position but they would have to be enough.


Corporal Jan finished off a Drathonian pilot, Ukraine’s distress beacon had cut out and he seemed to be moving forward now, even though the computers where telling him that the boy was in a strange position.
Flipping onto the Squadron channel the Corporal spoke, “Albania, peel off and go help Uzbekistan and the Green Pilot save Ukraine. Use the jammer if you have to.”
Albania’s acknowledgement chimed in, he was level headed and would do the job well, that was one of the reasons he flew with the Squadron’s only special weapon. His jamming pods had pulled them out of more situations then he wanted to count.
He heard Albania announce over the Hymn’s common fighter channel, “Red and Green Squadrons prepare your systems to ignore frequency zero-six-five-nine-zero-eight Delta Foxtrot Charlie; jamming pods will be released if necessary.”
Quickly punching the code in, Red Siberia closed in on one of the Drathonian ships in a dog fight with the Green Squadron lead.

[INCOMPLETE - Continue off of Page 70]

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