Chapter 10: The Gridiron

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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Kokuten
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Joined: Sat Dec 25, 2010 11:06 pm

Chapter 10: The Gridiron

Post by Kokuten » Mon Jan 17, 2011 9:26 am

"Ah, well, It depends on how good a pilot you are. We have a new model of starfighter that's superior to the Scimitar in nearly every way, aside from storage size. We'd like them to go into service as soon as possible, and have also been given some intelligence on a very serious threat that we can nip in the bud. A Field test is in order, don't you think?" the Scientist rambled on, a grin on his face. Steven knew what the new model of fighter was, and probably had a clue about what 'field testing' meant, sharp as he was.

As Istvan spoke, the Shuttles which had taken off a while before returned, marines filing out and returning to their usual lives aboard the ship.

Except for the dead and wounded. it turned out that much of SS 215 had not made it through unscathed, and the injured folk were quickly taken to the Hymn's newer, larger medical bay, and each was taken seperately to a specialist in their specific type of wounds- Adrian was obviously the worst, followed by Garret, and Kai, too, though his wounds were really minor, and nothing that his body could not heal on its own within a day or two.

Lieutenant Garrett Hendlow was starting to feel he'd spent far too much time in the infirmary, especially after all those years that had been accident-free. Lying there, he looked toward Adrian then Kai. He decided he'd rather bellow to the rifleman. "Of all the damn things! I dodged more plasma bolts than the Hymn has ever fired, but no scot-free mission for me; no, the damn ceiling caves in to crush me!"

Now he turned to Kai. "Since they tied me up to your squad, Lieutenant, it's been nothing but trouble for me."

Arcadia was curious about the project, but eventually all would be told- they wouldn't have come to her squad just to clam up. So she focused on her stronger curiosity, one she might not get another chance to sate.

"Admiral Kerning, if I might, are you Steven's father?" It seemed a bit of a stretch, the man could easily be the grandfather of anyone present- Istvan excluded.

"If you're looking for skillful pilots, you've come to the right place, sir," Ruze proffered with a smile to the 'Doctor.' At this, he saw Arcadia pass him a glare from the corner of his eye, and so added. "I do believe I speak for everyone present in saying so."

Sean continued to wait with the group to make sure Istvan didn't cause any more trouble, but figured that since the doctor did have some order of business with the pilots he wouldn't make him leave just yet. The Admiral took a deep and calming breath, it had been almost two decades since he was last in a military hangar. The smell of engine oil really brought back memories, some less pleasant than others.
So when the young woman spoke to him he had to snap himself back into reality, and recall what it was she had said. "Pardon?" he asked her with with a somewhat surprised look on his face. Once he had processed what she had said he chuckled a little. "No no, Steven is my grandson. Admiral Sean Tobias Kerning at your service ma'am," Sean said as he adopted a warm smile. "I trust Steven isn't causing to much trouble for you or your squadron?"

"This is Intelligence Agent Cibo. I am requesting supplies; two coolers of ice cream in order to pacify wounded personnel, and the Ottyo liaison." As soon as they landed, the wounded were moved out first, and she found herself forced to follow them, carrying an entire cooler of the stuff to the infirmary. 'Why didn't I just order one to the infirmary and one there?! Rrrraaa!' Lucky or not, Marcus was there to wordlessly take over for her. She gave him a quick wink; he scowled, turning away. As Cibo went with the others, she glanced back just once; Killy was already sitting on a Scimitar's wing and snarfing his way though a few containers.

"Here guys, dig in." She spoke quietly. As Cibo walked away from the marines, she quickly glanced back at them, preemptively replying in her defense. "I'm not doing this for you guys, it's just something I had to do! Hmpf!" The Intelligence Agent continued to walk away. 'Damn you Garrett, damn you! It's has to be your fault, it has to be!' Not five minutes following the end of the mission, her alien, Killy, hadn't been the same, and she was force to use her own money for lots and lots of ice cream. It was blasphemy that she'd spend for the sake of some xeno freak! 'It's probably what he said, right when that damned Ottyo was most vulnerable too...' Cibo's checkup was done, but now she was stuck waiting for results. The Intelligence Agent bent over into the large sink in the infirmary and began to run hot water over her head and face, taking soap from the dispenser and working it into a quick lather before rinsing. 'God, ever since we got back, all Killy's been doing is walking around and eating rocky road icecream...it's cutting into my wallet! Ugh...how much can this alien eat?' As she wrung out her jet black hair, Cibo's eyes popped wide in horror as something dawned on her.

'No. No, no, no! He can't be trying to commit suicide with chocolate, can he?!' She desperately grabbed her PDA and scanned over the list of approved and unapproved foods, looking up and down the column of text in hopes that chocolate was ok. 'No! No! It can't be! That's impossible! At this rate, he's going to...oh wait, there it is.' Cibo let out a small sigh of relief when she saw chocolate on the approved list. She let her hair dry by itself and moved on to cleaning out the helmet. 'As much as I like all the tough guy-macho stuff from these marines, this is too much!' She glanced at the PDA on the table and read more into chocolate and Ottyo; it read 'mild anti-depressant effects'. The offender's voice in the background rose a little and she briefly glared at Garret over her back before turning her attention back to the helmet. Cibo spat under her breath.

"Jerk."

Marcus stood a little closer to the group of Pilots, the Admiral, and the Scientist, quietly listening in on their conversation. As for the alien, well, it was sitting on a Scimitar's wing, eating directly out of small pint container of ice cream; the rate at which it ate it all slowed down now, and wasn't so hectic as before. It said it wanted a little space away from the marines for a little bit. Though it made the Intelligence Agent curious, he had his guesses why. 'Cibo's probably rubbing herself up against some marines somewhere in the infirmary. If I was in his shoes, I wouldn't want to look at her go at it either.' He lazily watched Arcadia out of his peripheral vision, even though his sight was on the living legend Istvan. 'Pilot girls are harder to crack, but more rewarding. Plus, not so muscly.' He carefully suppressed a smile before glancing back at his charge. "Hey, you ok there?" Marcus asked. Killy looked up from his near finished pint of frozen goodness with what was unmistakably a glum expression, nodding. The Agent's eye went to the floor and the small cooler that the alien brought along; there was several more pints of ice cream in there, and the Ottyo was only halfway through the batch.

'God Cibo. Bitchy much lately?' he thought to himself.

"Well, I Had heard that Green squadron was the best of the best, and that Red Squadron was just as good, so, I do believe you will be the lucky participants." Istvan answered Ruze, rubbing his hands together with an odd grin on his old face.

"You will have to begin flight simulations for the new model immediately, then, if you're to be ready for them by the time we're going to combat. Here's a special program to format the simulators I've written myself!" Istvan said, handing the datacard to Steven offhanded, despite the fact that he appeared to be talking to Ruze.

"Wh-What are these new fighters called? And how are they different from our Scimitars, anyway?" Emma ventured, somewhat shyly. She was intrigued by the thought of a new fighter, and very curious as to what this crazy old man had invented, as she was such a natural for starfighters.

"Ah, well, I guess it's safe enough here. it's already finished the prototype and testing phase so it's a production model now..." The inventor babbled for a moment, before catching himself and continuing. "It's called the Saber, and it's bigger and better. It has two engines instead of one, the wings are smaller and sturdier allowing it to hold heavier ordnance, albeit somewhat less of it, but that's fine as the missiles are built-into the elongated fuselage. Heavier maneuvering thrusters allow for faster reaction times, and are just as precise as the Scimitar's the controls are the same but, once again, more responsive and aided by nerve-impulse detection that can allow the craft to start moving the moment you think of something to do. Oh, and it has heavier armor meaning you can take more hits, though I'm assuming that you will all bring back your fighters in pristine condition, no?"

Dilshod nodded to the old doctor; it certainly sounded better in every feasible way. He was admittedly more than excited to give it a shot. "Sounds like an adventure to me; so when do we start, sirs?"

"Oh, no sir; at least nothing that a little estrogen can't handle." She smiled. Then she realized what she'd just said and who she'd said it to. Her color faded and her eyes dropped to the floor. "...Sir."


“That’s usually how that works, now isn’t it?” Sean agreed, “It is always good to keep squads balanced for just that reason. You be sure to keep an eye on Steven out there for me, it may not seem like it but he can be a bit stubborn and hot headed.”

Steven was in an exceptional better mood than before due to his grandfather’s arrival. All he wanted to do now was speak to the man he idolized as a child, but just before he entered in on the conversation Sean and Arcadia were having the crazy scientist thrust a datacard into his hands. He stood for a few moments just looking at the card before processing what Istvan had said.
“Here ya go,” Steven said as he in turn handed the datacard off to Fred, “I am still technically on R&R, so I will leave it to you to get Green Squadron around to do the training sessions.”
“What about you? Aren’t you going to do the sims as well?” Fred asked as he tucked the card into his pocket.
“I’ll do them just the same, I am just giving you a chance to boss them around some more as the ad hoc Squad Leader,” Steven replied.

No berating? No chastisement? That was strange but at the same time uplifted Arcadia's spirits- and her face rose as well, a soft smile now residing there since a (highly) superior officer hadn't just verbally destroyed her. "Yes, yes sir."

Then she took a moment, offering the Admiral a quizzical glance. "Hot-headed? That... That can't be Captain Kerning, sir. He's perhaps the most cool-headed person I've met."

“Yeah, he has a long fuse, but he has his moments where he gets flustered. He takes after his father who in turn takes it from me,” Sean said in a steady tone, “but he makes up for it with his charisma.” Sean took a moment to glance out of the corner of his eye to see if Istvan was causing another disturbance.
“The man is like a child, I swear.”


"Well..." Sounds about right. "I'm not so sure about that, sir. At least, he's yet to manage wooing myself or any of the other ladies. Sounds like he might have fallen a bit far from the tree." She smiled, then again realized just how much that sounded like flirtation WITH A SUPERIOR OFFICER, and dropped the smile to a small upward curve of the lips lacking in emotion.

I'm going to be in so much shit. Goddamn Reds getting me drinking... She sighed silently. "Now if you would, sir, please excuse me." She gave a curt salute then walked (very quickly) from the hangar. Damn it, damn it, damn it. So stuuupid...

"Hey, It's not my fault command put you here, and it's not my fault command keeps giving us the hard missions" Lieutenant Nakamura defended himself, as a doctor stitched up the small gash in his arm. The marine's jacket and decompression suit had been removed, exposing a close-fitting A-shirt that showed off more muscles than one would expect from such a thin man, and an IV was plugged into his opposite shoulder, helping to recoup some of his minor blood loss with Synthetic blood.

"And sorry, Cibo, but I don't really feel like ice cream now." kai answered to the intel woman's offer, twitching slightly as the doctor hit a nerve on accident.

Cibo shrugged. "Well, I guess it's more for everyone else then. How about you Garret?" she asked. The small cooler was simply sitting there innocuously, it's contents waiting, just waiting for a new owner. Deep down inside though, she was stil thinking as always. 'Just why did it insist on getting this much icecream? It meant I had to buy even mroe to cover myself...hmm. I have to report to the Admiral soon. Maybe she'd like some?'

Garrett just shook his head and rolled his eyes. "Doesn't change the facts, Lieutenant." His attention moved to the intelligence agent with a sigh. He blinked at her, thinking, then looked at the tub of frozen sugar. "What flavor is it?" he asked.

"Well, Maybe you just need to pay more attention. I managed to dodge the giant obvious wall and ceiling that were falling." Kai joked, grinning "Though I couldn't quite dodge a sword." he added, indicating his now-stitched forearm. "At least you've survived all the battles so far... We've lost so many..."

Both their words echoed in her mind as she reached her hands into the small cooler, rummaging around between the several individual serving tubs. 'Thank god for foresight. I made sure this was assorted.' Cibo pulled out a few of the containers. "I think we got rocky road, some sort of sorbet. Its that unspecified kind filled with rainbows. And a few vanillas. Sure you don't want any Kai?" It annoyed her, what the Lieutenant said. So few Terrans left. And the occasional message with an offer for a 'reproductive incentive' didn't help either. She eyed the man's face and then chest briefly before looking back at Garret. 'Great. They're all reminding me of that.' She shook a small tub of icecream their way.

With a groan, he sat up. A thoughtless wave of the hand dismissed Cibo's offer; his focus was on Kai. "Don't you pull that shit, Lieutenant. Lives are lost, don't I know it, and every one had sentiment, but don't you DARE get squishy on me. It's a fact of life, and an unavoidable hazard in our line of work. You had better start respecting that- this lamenting bullshit isn't going to fly." Now he was getting philosophical.

"Death's a part of existence, Lieutenant, and I'm not going to listen to you complain about the inevitable. Grieve your losses, pay your respects, and move on with the lessons you've learned. None of this sitting around crying me a river nonsense. I expect better out of any commanding officer, but especially you."

"Do I look like I'm crying?" Kai asked, pointing to his face, which was instead a scowl that just radiated annoyance. "We've had a lot of people DIE, and you're the one complaining about a simple injury. You've got alot more to be thankful for than to be whining about, and number one is the fact that you're still alive." he still seemed a bit annoyed, but stopped and took a few breaths to calm himself. "I don't need you to lecture me on the facts of life after every mission. Yeah, you're older and more experienced than I am, but I've also been doing this just as long as you have. I know what i'm up against."

The Lieutenant left it at that, seeming to turn off that part of his brain for a moment as he began poking gently at his stitch with a finger. "On second thought, I'll take some of the Sherbet. you have spoons, right?"

Kai shook her out of it. "Yeah. I do." she spoke quietly. Cibo reached in and grabbed one of the little tubs; they all had tiny spoons in bags glued to the side. Her hand reached out and laid it by the Marine's side. Though it was a topic that they were all very intimate about, it simply pushed her away from them. She coudln't say much, because the things she remembered in her head kept saying things before she could. 'I could really use a hit right about now. Forget everything.' She stood there and looked down at the open cooler she held, the small bock of dry ice slowly ensrhouding the contents in mist.

Hendlow smirked at Nakamura. "You're taking me too seriously, Lieutenant. Far too seriously." In the transition from sobering to casual, Garrett forgot his distaste for Cibo. "Hey, Malinowsky, do you have a light 'n stick? I could really go for one of those right now." The Lieutenant had either forgotten or was blatantly ignoring the fact that he was in a medical facility.

A Doctor who was working on someone nearby stopped for a moment and reminded Garrett "This is the medical ward. you either have to go simulated, or leave, and you haven't been cleared to leave." the doctor rolled his eyes at the marine's need for such oral stimulation, and went back to his patient.

"You're just horrible at sarcasm." Kai quantified, twitching again as he poked the same tender nerve as the Doctor had. "I think they need to make us better armor in any case. I know it was cheaper to fix our bodies than make us new armor, but with the resources this planet means, that shouldn't be a concern anymore..."

"Sorry Garret. I've hardly been out of rehab. It'd be a bad sign if I carried one with me, right?" She glancd about and looked back at the two before leaning in closer. "Between you guys and me, I don't like him. The alien I mean. Maybe I'm just being a racist, but I bought all these so I wouldn't look like I'm getting it all for him. Which I did." Cibo quickly trotted off and handed out more of her ice cream before rapidy returning. "To be honest Kai, I think that's what our Ottyo friends were thinking when they handed us this ENTIRE planet." She shifted a little as she stood there, and spoke even more quietly. "Mabye...they want us to fight? Maybe..." She went on, even more quietly. "Maybe, maybe I've been doing this job to long..."

He sighed and shrugged. Hearing Cibo, though, elicited another groan. "Sure they do; power in numbers, don't want all your eggs in one basket, and all that jazz." He waved his hand dismissively once more; the subject was moot. He knew the Terrans would fight regardless of what ANY of the aliens wanted, and he would be one of those fighting Terrans to the end.

"You ought to relax and just focus on the one Ottyo." Then, back to Kai. "You're just missing my marks with all the drugs in your system- not used to them. Me on the other hand," he rose to his feet with a grunt. The gown he wore more like a towel, wrapped around his waist and leaving his upper half exposed. There was a deep inhalation before he continued. "Done this too many times for it to affect me much."

Just then he noticed a nurse come waltzing by- the swing of her hips in particular caught his eye. "Ma'am." She stopped, looked at him inquisitively. "Could you help me out? I'm trying to get out of here."

"Well, let's see." she started, grabbing the digital pad at the foot of the bed Garrett was set up at "It says here you have to wait here for another hour for the bones to set properly, and the drugs in your system currently have been noted to have odd effects on your confidence levels, which may attribute to bad decision making. So, No, I don't think I can release you yet. At least wait long enough for the accelerated healing drugs to wear off before you go." she informed him, in a very professional tone. almost as quick as she was stopped, the nurse continued on, heading for the patient she had been going to check on already.

"Looks like it 'not affecting you much' is part of the effects." Kai smirked, after the nurse made a note about the unintended boost of confidence cause d by the drugs. "So, it looks like you're stuck here. My IV bag is almost empty and they said i was free to go when it was so, looks like you got the short end of the stick." The lieutenant seemed rather smug about this fact. "Why are you still in here, Cibo? All you did was blow chunks a couple times."

"Eh, yeah....about that..." Cibo was there for some cursory tests, yes, but there was something else as well. It was her last drug test. 'They said that last one was the last, but I knew they were bullshitting me! Ha!' She answered the man, "Well, I just had to have a few other tests done on me, and I'm just waiting for permission to leave. And results of course. I do want to report to Evelyn. Speaking of her, I'm a little worried; she hasn't been out of the bridge lately."

She shrugged and grabbed the edge of the doctor's sleeve as he walked by. She changed her demeanor a little and added on some pleading eyes. "Excuse me, will I be able to leave soon?"

Another sigh as he sat down- and a wince as his bones made some unusual noises. "Well that's a bum deal," he moaned, laying back again with his hands beneath his head. He was receding into his own mind now, uninterested in anything else except for the passing piece of eye candy- which was very seldom. And even then, his glances were less than half-hearted, more out of habit than any real desire. 'What a bum deal...'

"Maybe if you kicked the habit you wouldn't care about not having any." Kai chuckled, gloating about his relative freedom from drugs (Aside from the occasional combat drug when he had an actual injury) He then turned to the Intelligence officer, and said "Ah, the Admiral... I had some business with her after that assault on Saratar, she seemed pretty normal then. Just a little stressed from something, probably our loss at Ovid catching up with her."

The Doctor grabbed her info sheet, and tapped on it a few times. "Yeah, you can leave now. a copy of your results have been sent to the necessary people, as well as to your own datapad." he explained, and then, like most every other medical officer, headed off, as he had some other patient to attend to.

"Ovid. God. I ended up busting a rib for her there." Cibo commented carelessly. 'Relax, relax...' Cibo thought. She brushed some stray hairs out of her face to help with that. "She's completely holed herself up in the bridge. I know we lost, but this is. Well. It's a little ridiculous. Maybe I just don't know her very well, but if she's...nevermind." She glanced back at the two men, looking their bodies over and tossing that sudden spike of feelings. "Well, at least it's not all your ribs Garret. And you, your limbs. You're lucky he wasn't any more eager to stick you with his sword. He just wanted a drumstick." The Intelligence Agent's eyes darted from Garret's bound ribs and then to Kai's cut arm. "If you want, I think I can stay around a little longer."

Mention of the Admiral had Garrett curious- partly because he, despite his best efforts, genuinely found her attractive, and partly because he had no desire to go right back to work after healing. Work being paperwork and inventory seeing as how he wouldn't be allowed to get back to the fun stuff- the 'hard work' they tried to call it- until everything was fully healed. Anything short of someone making a terrorist threat aboard the Hymn would be a welcome distraction. "I'd like to join you to visit the Admiral, if it's alright," Garrett offered quietly. "Could use the exercise."

Kai eyed his IV bag as it sucked itself dry. Almost on cue, a nurse showed up and quickly removed it, taking the pieces to be disinfected so they could be reused. Unlike ancient times, the Terran body had been improved such that a bandage wasn't needed for the small pinprick caused by the IV.

"Well, I wouldn't mind seeing her again. I don't think she realizes that she should probably take a break, even if she is a quantum computer, we technically are too, and I know for a fact we need rest." he said, looking to Garrett, knowing he was now the only one keeping them from going. All the other injured marines from 215 were either out or still being taken care of, and those killed were elsewhere being processed so their families could be notified, so the issue of having a funeral for them or not didn't matter yet. a ship-wide service would probably be held eventually anyway.

Cibo's reply came fast. "Hey, that'd be great. I'm sure shipmist- blagh! Damned alien...I mean, I'm sure Evelyn would be happy to see you two again. From what I recall, it's been a while, hasn't it?" She spoke, blushing. Cibo knew she shouldn't be messing up like this, but she was. Why? Not once with the shipmistress thing, but twice, reminding them she simply knew things. Everyone knew she knew things, but she wasn't supposed to remind them! 'Stupid, stupid, stupid! I'm going to get you for this Yotruyan!'

"And maybe we could talk to her about changing our name to 'Suicide Squad 215' seeing as how we get all the ridiculously dangerous missions without all the black ops training." It was said in a snarky tone with a matching smirk. "Imminent death aside, though, I'd just like to get the Hell out of Dodge for a bit- even if that only means travelling a few hundred feet in the vertical." He was clearly on board for this.

"Or at least something better than Shock Squad," Kai agreed, scratching the bag of his head with his non-hurt arm. "I guess I can take a nap while we wait for Garrett to get released" he finished, laying back on the small bed in the medical bay and closing his eyes. He seemed to be out rather quickly, though you never really knew with the lieutenant.

He heaved another sigh. Great. Thanks a lot, Lieutenant, leaving me with Cibo.

Still, he might as well make the best. "What's a girl like you doing in intel ops?" he uttered in a deadpan tone. He wasn't really that interested, but who knew? Maybe there was an interesting story.


"Well..." Cibo seemed to turn away and hug herself for a moment, as though bracing herself for painful memories, her voice trailing off and then starting up. "To be honest, I was orphaned as a baby on a fringe colony world. I never knew my parents really. With my parents dead from an unexpected plague, the blue skinned natives taught me their ways." She turned to face Garret directly, and with a straight face, went on.

"When the great betrayal happened, a refugee ship touched down shortly on this planet. Just a few days you know. But it was enough for me to decide to leave." The intelligence agent's eyes looked up towards the overhead lights in a thoughtful pose. "I miss them a lot, so maybe that's why I'm such a bitch all the time. Sorry if I pissed you off a lot. And sorry ahead of time, because I'll probably end up doing so some more. I can't really help it you know."

She gave him a slightly embarrassed, self conscious smile.

Marcus sat there beside the alien as it started on another little container of icecream, eying the strange bag. 'Who the hell makes a military style bag out of non-reflective silk?' Just as he was about to ask the Ottyo just what was in it, he realized that he couldn't tell where the alien's other eye was looking. With it's head's geometry, only one eye was at the intelligence agent's scrutiny. "Hey, what you looking at over there friend?"

"Her. She's bothered." it replied, pointing to Arcadia with it's tail. "If I share, do you think she would feel better?"

Marcus' face lit up. 'Now, wouldn't you be a good topic to talk about?' He grinned. "Hey!" Marcus called out to the woman. "You alright over there? Even Yotruyan here can tell you're a little troubled. Come over and we'll share with you!" he spoke, holding up one of the small containers.


Did NOT answer my question. "Excuses." Another dismissive wave. "That's not really what I asked, either, but..." He sighed, lay back, and shut his eyes.

Arcadia was stepping out of the hangar when she heard a voice. Glancing toward the source she saw a man- she wasn't quite sure what he was- trying to lure her in with something...

She approached, very curious. "I'm sorry, who are..." She paused, rather surprised and confused. "...Is that ice cream?" the pilot inquired, pointing to container. Still she neared. "Oh, that's... the Ottyo liaison, correct? And... ice cream? How did you get ice cream?"

"Oh, whoops!" she replied in that same cheery voice. "I forgot to add in the reason why I joined when I was making up that bullshit. My bad Garrett. Silly, silly me." Cibo happily prattled. She sat down in a chair by his side with hard sigh, seriousness finally, quickly, suddenly taking hold. "Maybe I should try taking a break or something, but I don't trust Marcus that much with the alien...he's probably using him to draw attention or something." Cibo leaned forward for a moment, cupping her face in her hands before sitting back up, straightening her hair back. "I've never really been this sloppy before either. As she propped her legs up on another chair, a faint question escaped her lips.

"Why I joined Intel? Cibo's hand reached for her pocket, and brought up an imaginary cigarette before realizing her hand was empty. She sighed again before forcing herself to look at the two men. "Just..give me a moment. I haven't thought of it in a long time."

"Would me, an Intelligence Agent, lie?" He asked, pausing for effect. "Ok, yeah we would, but its real icecream. Don't worry about how we got it, just grab one and melt your troubles away." Marcus offered again. "Besides, we both saw you bothered by something, and decided that sharing was caring. Isn't that right Yotruyan?"

"Yes. Though. It is an interesting phrase."


Seeing Cibo now determined to share, he folded his pillow and used it as a cushion between his back and the headboard. He waited patiently, having absolutely nothing better to do for once.

Arcadia was hesitant. The 'intel agent' sounded... slippery, but the Ottyo she imagined was fairly reliable. His tone was... depressing though. Pilot Langdon could only imagine what he thought of the phrase, "sharing is caring," but she didn't really give a damn- it was the inflection of his voice that caught her attention.

"Sorry, but I'm a good girl. I'm not going to bury my head in any sort of sugary goodness until I know it was obtained properly. So, I'll ask again: how'd you get it?"

Cibo stared at the ceiling for a long while. It wasn't until a nurse went by with a rattling tray of surgical tools that she spoke again. "It's funny, how things turn out. My family was a military family. To be honest, well, if you haven't figured it out already, I was the odd one out. I was going to be a doctor. A doctor!" Cibo seemed to take some glee from the idea, giggling gently as she shook her head. The intelligence agent got up and turned the chair around so she could lean forward. "Long story short, after loosing both my parents, I took a paperwork version of this Job to make a living. After that, my family got picked off one by one over the years."

She smiled at the marine. "I ended up who I am now thanks to them. Turned out I took after my mom; had a knack for this, ya'know?" Cibo crossed her arms over the chair's back and rested her head on them, cocking it off to the side. "What about you?"

Marcus looked at her with an expression of shock and surprise. "Well...I know my scars made me look a bit scary, but I didn't think it was that bad." The intelligence agent played the guilt card and sighed while rubbing the damaged flesh of his face as though suddenly self-conscious. "If you have to know, we bought it for him." he spoke. As though on prompt, Yotruyan finished is 8th serving of ice cream. "I know I'm a spook, but, me, stealing this?" He asked, sounding hurt. "That's harsh."

The Ottyo lazily bit into another tub and neatly put the tough paper onto the rest of his pile before speaking flatly. "I am certain she was not meaning harm. Perhaps it was remaining distress from some prior situation?"

"Hmph." Garrett briefly contemplated whether or not to share the long or short story.

"It was the only way off the god-forsaken rock we call Earth," he answered. "So I took up explosives engineering since it was already a hobby of mine." Quick, simple, to the point. Quite unlike Cibo's incessant rambling.

She exhaled abruptly through her nostrils and quirked an inquisitive eyebrow, looking unimpressed, as if to say Really? "So sensitive, Mr. Spook. Get a grip."

Again, her attention was on the Ottyo. She sat beside him, taking up a cup for herself. While she went about opening and licking the top clean, the Pilot asked, "So what's got you all bummed out, hm?"

At Garrett's meager reply, Cibo leaned forward and onto the chair's pair of legs. "Eh?" she voiced, a mildly annoyed and even lazy expression on her face. "Now, why is it when I gave you a more meaty answer, you practically give me only a bone?" The slim intelligence agent scooted her chair in even closer to the Marine and, frankly, got in his face. "Now, I know you probably don't want to share at this point, but if you yourself didn't want to share, why you ask me, huh?" At this point, her face was practically inches from the recovering marine's face; simply put, her bedside manner sucked.

Thankfully, Cibo pulled away before he could do anything, now standing. She started to pace, an arm crossed over her chest, and the other pressing a finger to her chin. Cibo looked at Garret from the corner of her eye. "Wait...Don't tell me you were seriously Stranded on Earth AFTER the attacks? Wow. A real Earthling." She grinned. "Maybe watched your family and friends die one by one from the radiation? Or the food. Oh! Scavengers and raiders and gangs! Oh my!" She placed her hands on her hips and leaned forward, expectant. "Anything hit close to home?"

Even as Marcus looked away in a pained manner as though he were telling the truth, his mind was at work. 'Ha. This is why I like other Intel Agents and Pilots. Harder to get. But there's always round two. And three. And more.'

Yotruyan, on the other hand, eyed Acadia as he squeezed the remaining half of the little container, forcing the icecream out and into his mouth. A moment passed as it melted in his mouth before he swallowed and replied. "Garrett-Lieutenant's comments were harsh like yours, but that is not what bothers me." The rainbow of feathers on Yotruyan's face fluffed up for a moment before settling down. He went on, watching for a response with his yellow slit eyes.

"I was so close, and so very far from my people. I could not embrace them, or even speak to them. Just do as my position demanded." He cast away the piece of paper, sending it off to top his neat tower of paper cups. Yotruyan eyed the backpack they gave to him. He still hadn't opened it yet. "It is accurate to say that most sentient species feel something that goes by the word 'loneliness' in this language. Is it not?"

He gave another dismissive huff at her metaphor, and otherwise ignored her.

But when she leaned in, he grasped her collar and rose to his feet. He had only three inches over her in height, but his bulk certainly made him more... impressive. His voice was quiet, but very clear and very intense. "You had better be listening damn well. There's this little... little word, a beautiful and abused little word called respect. You had better learn its meaning in the next thirty seconds, okay?

"Now, yes, I am a full-blooded Earthling. I survived the attack, the only one of all the people I knew. Homeless like so many others, I joined a gang. My gang taught me teamwork, order, and respect, but mostly it taught me people are full of shit, that life's rough and you roll with the punches, and that if you can't walk your talk, you aren't worth my time.

"When I finally figured it all out, I burned their little clubhouse down, and got the Hell out of Dodge. That's when the military found me, found my skills, and put me to work. And now I'm here, working hard and fighting strong. So don't you ever, EVER disrespect the people or places I've seen to get here, or I will- let me make it very clear that I WILL- crush your scrawny little legs."

He let go and heaved a sigh, his stare still heavy and bearing down on her, awaiting a reaction. To defend his actions, or at least his train of thought, Lieutenant Garrett Hendlow had found that the quickest way to teach respect was to take away something someone took for granted- like their ability to walk. When they were forced to change their way of life for a period of time over something so utterly simple to the average human being, they quickly learned to appreciate that worth appraisal.

Arcadia's expression softened. She didn't know who she was talking about, but was willing to admit she was sharp-tongued; she quite liked it that way, really. Didn't mean she couldn't be soft, too.

"I think it's quite fair to say so, and I'm sure I have no idea what your society is like in terms of relationships, but I think I have a good idea of how you feel. That's got to be tough- tougher than I can imagine," Pilot Langdon had always been a bit fond of solitude, "But you've got to stay strong. I know it's easier said than done, but wallowing isn't going to help anyone. Come on." She stood and offered a hand. "Enough of this moping around and eating ice cream. You have to be proactive."

As Cibo was lifted into the air by the muscular marine, she instinctively grasped his arm with both her hands, caught unaware. 'Ha. I already expected Drathonians to do this.' Out of Garrett's sight, a spring loaded blade popped out of the sole of Cibo's boot. All she had to do was kick the Drathonian in the reproductive parts. And her eyes widened at the thought; this was a MAN. A TERRAN. Her superior. Her coworker and compatriot. Cibo's eyes started to tear at the thought of what she was about to do, and did nothing. She simply hung there in the air, and listened to the Lieutenant's words as she knew she deserved. That was the hardest part. Knowing she deserved it, hating every moment of it, yet allowing it to come at her and taking it.

By the time Garret released his grip, Cibo was already in her own self dug pit of despair. She fell hard on the floor, the tip of her blade embedding itself deep into the floor before breaking off. Cibo started to cry, and then weep. The sobbing wasn't quite loud enough to draw attention, but was obviously real.

"I'm sorry." she managed through sniffles. As she sat there on the floor, the very tip of her boot shone a brilliant silver.

Yotruyan purred. "Reminds me of our youngest Imperator." he commented. "Oh-kay. I am up." At that, the Ottyo got onto his feet and tossed away the trash that had been building up into a disposal box sitting nearby. He easily towered over her, but refrained from casting Arcadia in his shadow. "Are these all escape pods? They seem very small to me. And that group there." He spoke, pointing out Sean and Istavan, "They seem important. Who are they?" He asked, jumping right into business.

As Marcus sat there, pretending to be hurt and otherwise sad, let himself grin as though slightly brought out of his sulking.

He gave another sigh, leaning over to grab her arm. "Don't go making a scene now, Malinowsky." Whether or not she liked it, Garrett hauled the Intelligence Officer onto her feet with a grunt. "Apology accepted, but you best remember what I said, because I meant every word." Only then did he notice the broken blade on the floor, but scoffed at it. She hadn't stuck him like a pig, so it was no big deal to the Lieutenant.

"Clean yourself up. They ought to be letting me out here soon."

"Most are fighters or bombers; we're small, so we don't need much room. They," she pointed to the group as well, "Are pilots, an Admiral, and some supremely intelligent madman who designed just about everything that flies in our military... and then some. Important, but not to us. Come on." She beckoned Killy to follow and she headed for the hangar doors.

Cibo stood there unsteadily as she tried to wipe the tears away. Her crying had subsided by now, and was reduced to just the occasional sniffle as she tried to keep her nose from running. She took a few of the tissues from a dispenser nearby and blew her nose; Cibo always wondered why they were there as a child. Now, she knew better. Hospitals, Med-Labs and Clinics were where people cried as often as they rejoiced.

"I'm sorry Garrett..." Cibo quietly spoke. "I almost even. Well. That." She partially went on, gesturing towards the broken knife, next, glancing at Kai before casting her eyes down. "I um, hope I wasn't too loud. Does Kai know? I mean, about you."

"Arcadia. That is what the symbols on your uniform say, yes? I. Cannot go with you. Yet." Yotruyan made an exaggerated gesture with his head, knowing that Terrans had a hard time telling just what he was looking due to his skull's geometry. He pointed is nose to the Admiral, Madman Genius and Pilots so she would understand.

"Proactive. To be proactive, I must court your ranking members and foster good relationships with your people." The Ottyo wrung his fingers in a gesture that seemed oddly out of place on something like himself. "I would come with you, but not right away. I must speak. Could you, stay? While I do so?" he pleaded.

He shook his head, and waved his hand to dismiss the whole thing. "If you want to apologize, just remember what I said." Then he glanced at the supposedly sleeping Lieutenant. "Well if that whole ordeal didn't wake him, then no, he doesn't. I can count the people that know on two hands, if it makes you feel special."

She was about to say, "If you want to foster good relationships, come with me! I know the place!" Instead, she listened and gave into his request in the end. "Alright, Mr. Ottyo, I shall." Arcadia strode alongside Killy toward her comrades with a soft smile.

As Cibo got onto her knees, she spoke. "I'll try." The intelligence agent took out a special cloth from a small pouch on her belt, and gripped the broken blade with it. The cloth was designed specifically for handling the mono-molecular blades frequented by knife users, and wouldn't easily be cut. "It's harder than it sounds though. I know it's crazy, but it's true. I got to where I was because I was...disrespectful." Cibo gently wiggled the blade until it came free and slid out; she wrapped it up in the cloth and tied it off with a zip tie to ensure it wouldn't slip out.

As Cibo got up, she eyed Garrett seriously. "You're funny Garrett. I got a feeling a court marshal couldn't give to me from you."

The Ottyo eyed Arcadia for a moment. He tilted his head to the side before giving a few light chirps and going off to the small group. With the black silk pack on his back, and an arm holding onto the cooler, he approached Admiral Sean first.

"Greetings."

Sean was now watching as his grandson started giving directions to his subordinate. He knew that Steven had been promoted to the rank of Captain, but he now took a step back and looked at his grandson in a new light. “Oh Marcus, you would be so proud of how your son turned out. He looks just like you,” he thought to himself. He sighed and took a deep breath.
He was snapped out of his reminiscing by the sudden greeting. He turned around and was going return the greeting when he saw who had issued it. He was momentarily caught off guard but quickly regained his authoritative demeanor.
“You must be the Ottyo liaison. Yotruyan, correct?” Sean asked. The Admiral, now standing straight up, did not even compare in height to the alien.


The Ottyo gave an affirmative "Churr." from his throat as the feather crest widened a little in excitement. His free hand reached up to the Admiral's chest height, but twitched as he stopped it from going any higher, staying his cultural greeting and attempting to replace it with a handshake. "Kerning-Admiral. It is a pleasure to meet you. The Shipmistress-Admiral of this vessel said that--" The Ottyo's sentence stopped cold as he froze, next, sniffing the air.

"You have your young one here? Is that correct?" He asked, cocking his head to the side. Yotruyan spoke in a lower tone, emulating how Terrans varied their voices. "I was not aware Terrans remained...active for so long."

A "Gak." sound came from his throat next.

Sean paused for a moment as he processed the question. Then he leaned forward as though he were about to tell a secret. “If you are referring to what I think you are, that is my grandson. The young one of my young one,” Sean said. He then cleared his throat and also lowered his tone. “And you would be surprised just how long we Terrans remain…active.”

The Ottyo continued to look at the Admiral as the larger crest feathers seemed to wilt from horror, dismay or some other downturn of emotion, giving a furtive glance at Steven before addressing the older man. "...All year round?" Yotruyan shook his head side to side, shutting his eyes closed hard. He shivered. "Change of topic. Are you here inspecting the fighter crafts Admiral? I myself was curious to their size relative to our own."As one side of his face was presented to Admiral Kerning, the other and it's eye was free to look at the crowd. It fell on each person there in turn, including Istavan, before finding Fred.

At that, anyone could tell he was happy again.



Garrett grinned at that. "I assure you there are many things I can do that a court marshal or five couldn't even imagine." Vague statement aside, the Lieutenant was feeling near to normal, and as if to validate the sensation the nurse returned.

With a smile he asked, "Did you miss me or is it time to let me go?"

With an amazingly unphazed expression, she answered, "Time to go." She took care of the sign-out procedures, checked his injuries, and returned his clothes. Before she left, the nurse added one final comment: "Next time you're in here, wear the gown properly."

"Why? So you can look at my ass?"

"If that's what does it for you." She left, and Garrett changed right there, heedless of the many pairs of eyes around him. He was entirely comfortable with his body, but it wasn't as though he had any desire to show it off, either. He just wanted to change and be done with the med bay.


Kai continued to snore. It seemed that living the life of a marine allowed him to sleep through just about anything, including a scuffle. someone would have to wake him up if they wanted him to go with them.

Istvan, after seeing the Ottyo approach, remained silent, observing him for a while before slowly approaching. He pulled out a small device, which he began to sweep around the Ottyo liason in seemingly random directions, allowing the device to take various readings. a chorus of "hmmmm"'s and "I see" 's followed him as he studied the almost birdlike being while it spoke to Admiral Kerning.

When the Ottyo had arrived Hungary's attention had immediately switched to the large alien. The pilot wasn't really interested in him exchanging pleasantries with the Green Squadron Lead's pa – no the real meat in this situation was the cooler Killy was lugging under one arm.
Downing what was left of one of the many flasks he carried, the pilot rubbed his forehead as he attempted to think through the drunken haze that he had slowly developed. With a mental snap, his attention refocused on the cooler; it didn't even matter that he didn't know its contents – it had to be something good. Hungary forgot all rank, reason, and tact in his concentration and began to yell.
“Oi, Otya – Ottyor – uhh, feather head! Hurry up the conversation alright? We could use your cooler over here and none of us would be adverse to sharing a little of our home brew to make it a fair trade!” The big man's face was red from the drink and he was smiling stupidly as he looked behind him at his fellow squadmate, giving each of them a 'Of course none of us mind' look as he waited for Killy to respond.

Siberia was speechless. He was honestly not sure what to do with Hungary at the moment, the man had just begun shouting when the alien liaison was talking with Admiral Kerning. And now, he was just standing there stupidly, completely unaware of his blunder.
But, it had happened and nothing could be done about it now. Siberia shook his head and then composed himself. Then, he stepped forward and threw his weight in with his drunken idiot of a subordinate. “Ahem, once business is aside I'm sure we could all do with a bit of refreshment, could we not? With the arrival of two such men as yourselves – and the liaison too – we seemed to have a lost a bit of the original purpose of this meeting in all the to do, as it was at first a simple greeting party between the two Squadrons.” Having quietly said his two bits out of loyalty the Squadron Leader nodded to all the parties involved and waited for it all to blow over or, in the worst case, to have a front row seat to watch the hammer fall.


Cibo's interest perked up a bit as Garrett vaguely boasted about just what he could do. Cibo just sat there and watched at the little exchange between the nurse and the marine. When the other woman departed, the intelligence agent gave out a small "Tsk." at him, speaking in a sarcastic tone. "It must be one of the most unforgiving jobs in the galaxy. Being a nurse on a military ship filled to the brim with sausage while getting hit on all the time." she grinned like a wolf at Garret as he went on to dress. Cibo just kept on talking, now deflated and dejected. "So much for respect, huh? You'd expect a person who just had a role in saving life or patching up broken bones would get a 'thank you' at least."

When the scientist approached, the alien ceased speaking for a moment and turned his attention to the old Terran. "Greetings to you, esteemed one. Are you truly--" The Ottyo stopped for one of Istvan's 'hmmm's' before continuing. "--the one who imagined and created--" Yotruyan was cut off again by an 'I see.' this time around. The alien was amazingly patient. "--a great amount of Terran technology?"

It was about then that Hungary interrupted. Yotruyan stared at the pilot with his yellow eyes in a predatory fashion, large crest feathers slowly slicking back. It was about then that the plain alien nature of the Inquisitor was hammered in. He bowed to both the Admiral, and Great Inventor. "Please forgive me." The Ottyo put the cooler and pack down to the floor before pulling out a small container of vanilla ice cream. With an armored claw, he quickly lopped off the lid, and scooped out the frozen sweetness into the palm of his hand, making sure it was soft.

With a wind up pitch and it's entire body, the Ottyo sent the ball of vanilla ice cream smacking into Hungary's face with incredible force, the loud sound of impact reverberating across the hanger.


Steven and Fred, as well as most of Green Squadron, stopped what they were doing when they heard the disturbance, and when the ottyo unleashed his rain of frozen vanilla goodness they more or less froze in shock and time seemed to slow to a halt. Quite a few of the pilots looked from the alien to Hungary to the Admiral while wondering just what was going to happen next. A few more wondered if this counted as an act of aggression by the alien and what they should do about apprehending the thing. Fred simply smiled, and Steven was debating whether or not to step in as the ranking pilot to ease the tension.
Instead, amidst the shocked silence, the next thing the group heard was in fact the sound of chuckling. Steven looked around for the source. It was Sean who was chuckling. His chuckling then grew into blatant laughter. Some of the other pilots around him began to laugh uneasily to try and ease they feeling of discomfort.
“Being in the military is a hell of a lot more exciting now-a-days than when I was first starting out,” Sean managed to say as his laughter began to fade away. After a few more seconds of laughter Sean cleared his throat and return to looking pensive. “Pilot, go clean yourself up. Sober up while you are at it," he said to Hungary, and then he turned to Siberia and went on, “Corporal, do try to have your pilots limit their drinking to the designated areas, not around the ships. That is why we installed bars into these vessels. Hell, back when I was a pilot we had to wait until shore leave before we could get a good drink. Don’t abuse the privilege.”
“Yortuyan, my apologies for the behavior of my men, it is unbecoming of a Terran soldier.”
“Oh and before I forget,” he said now turning towards Steven, “Your Grandmother told me to tell you that you do not call enough and that she wants to talk to you again soon.” He was just about to turn back towards the Ottyo when he remembered something else, “Oh yeah, one more thing. Green Squadron is receiving a new pilot. I should also tell you while I am here that you and Green Squadron are hereby promoted one respective rank. Congratulation Lieutenant.” He then turned back to Siberia, “The same goes for Red Squadron as well. You will be receiving a new pilot and you are all hereby promoted one respective rank. Congratulations Captain.”
Steven’s eyes went wide with surprise when Sean made his announcement, and he said nothing for he was in shock. It was when Fred and Dan came up to give him a pat on the back that he snapped out of it. He was still in shock though when he came to the realization that he was now the same rank as his father, and he was more or less the same age as when his father made Lieutenant. He did it.
Fred was also somewhat in shock by the news that he had made the rank of Captain. He always thought he’d be dead by then. Now he walked up to Yotruyan. “Sorry about my counterpart there. Nice solution though. They do that offen where you’re from?”

Garrett actually laughed as he tugged on his boots. Having tied them tight, he rose with a sardonic smile. "Really? Do Marines ever thank you for gathering all that useful information that saves their lives? I sure as hell don't hear anyone thanking me for any grunt work that makes this War-Machine advance. We all do our part thanklessly, because if we don't do it, we all die." His tone gradually moved from snappish to matter-of-fact, and was deadpan by the final phrase.

"I think we can take that as a no," Garrett added when Lieutenant Nakamura didn't stir. He still had something of a limp, albeit greatly subdued. He prodded the thinner man's shoulder twice. "Up 'n at 'em, Lieutenant. I've been released." Lieutenant Hendlow held his arms wide to display his almost complete uniform- he had yet to close up the front.

Kai twitched a few times, swatting at Garrett's prodding fingers before his brain caught up with his sleeping body and he began to blink, rubbing his eyes, yawning, and stretching. "What'd I miss? I dreamt there was an earthquake.." He mumbled, smacking his lips and then cracking his neck and back via a sharp twist. The Lieutennant swing his feet over the edge of the bed and looked groggily up at the two other soldiers who were waiting for him.

Despite Garrett's tone of voice, she was having fun with it. "Ah, what a thankless existance we all live in!" Cibo lamented. Her grin widened as she went on. "How far we Terrans have fallen if we are no longer able to say or give thanks to one another..." Her voice changed from her false lament into outright sarcasm. "Even now, my ears hear whispers of the cakes being lies! No more real flour! I can't even sit down and drown my worries with actual cake anymore...Oh woe is me!" At that, she started cracking up; it probably wasn't funny to anyone else though. When she finished, she wiped a fresh tear from her eye and noticed Nakamura was up. "Oh. Welcome back Lieutenant."

Garrett knew he didn't like Cibo Malinowsky, had always known; what he hadn't known was just how easily she could annoy him. Before he knew it, he'd grabbed hold of her shirt front again and pulled her in for another serious discussion. The Lieutenant's eyes were ablaze. "Would you like it if I bitched as much as you? If I complained every time I successfully-"

"That's enough Lieutenant" Kai stopped the Demolitions expert short, Pulling the two apart, suddenly coherent and spry. "We may already be in the med bay, but I don't need you threatening and possibly injuring other marines., you got that?"

Garrett heaved a sigh and spared Cibo one final death-glare before straightening up. "Sure thing, Lieu-Kai. We ought to get moving, hm?" And that was that.

Cibo muttered to herself like an insane child who tended to talk to teddy bears. "Damn. He couldn't tell I was kidding? I must suck at this..." The intelligence officer shook her head. "Right, well. I'm off to see the Shipm--damn. I mean, the Admiral. Unless you two want to come along, I...guess I'll see you later?" A hint of something laced her voice as she trailed off. Maybe she wanted to stick with them?

"Well, I have business with her, and suddenly, time for it, so, I'll be going with you. And Cibo, Garrett is like his explosives, nice and harmless, even once you've lit the fuse, but his fuse is short, and he'll explode once it's down." the younger lieutenant explained, scratching his head a bit as he stretched one more time, back to his laid-back self in no time. "You wanna come, Garrett?"

"Psh. That's a horrible analogy," Garrett interjected as he finished buttoning up. "And yes I would, didn't we already have that conversation?" Silently Hendlow admitted that the analogy might not be that far from the truth, but then again he was never very good with literary devices.

"We might've, but I'm good at forgetting things when I sleep." Kai confirmed.

"Well we did, and I said yes. Let's hup to-it." One more deep breath to compose himself.

As Cibo took the lead out, she looked over her shoulder. "Short? Not sure about that. I haven't made him completely explode yet." she spoke, eyeing Garrett. "Nope. Not short at all if you ask me." Her eyes briefly glanced down, just to kid with him some more.

If it was a chide about his manhood, Garrett only took the compliment in silence and refused to respond. She was so... childish. Hendlow might have found Malinowsky more amusing if she'd been around in his Anarchy days, but now she was just tiresome.

The Trek through the ship wasn't as long as it used to be- the Bridge had been relocated deeper within the ship, to keep it safer from harm during a battle. Still, it was more than a few minutes walk, which was, after this point, completed mostly in silence, as Garrett was ignoring Cibo, Kai had nothing to Say, and Cibo seemed done joking for the moment, as it wasn't working very well.

When they did arrive, however, Kai spoke up first. "We may outrank you, Malinowsky, But I know you have permissions to enter the bridge that we do not so... Could you let us-" He was, however, cut off with the door to the bridge opening itself, and the person that they had been looking for showing up framed within its confines. the shorter, brown-haired, blue-eyed girl walked towards them with a smile and greeted them. "Hello Cibo, Lieutnant Nakamura, Lieutenant Hendlow." she began, with a small bow.

"Hello, Admiral." Kai answered, standing at attention and saluting.

"Admiral!" Cibo spoke, snapping off a crisp salute. "I've come here to deliver my report. I hope you don't mind the Lieutenants that I have picked up on the way here." The intelligence agent handed over the information to the shorter Admiral. "Hey, if you got time, do you want to hang out? You're always so cooped up in there, like a hikikomori these days." She went on, suddenly dropping her formal tone when the exchange was done.

"Admiral Evelyn," Garrett chimed in, with an admittedly softer salute than either of his colleagues.

Evelyn stood up, and saluted the three in turn, allowing them to relax, before taking the package from Cibo and answereing "I would not mind hanging out, and I heard that at least one of these Lieutenants has something to talk to me about. I think, maybe my Brother?" the gynoid answered Cibo, turning to Kai and winking at the surprised look on his face that went away just as quickly as it came; of course she would know, Adamsk had known of her, so it could easily work both ways, couldn't it.?

She finally turned to Garrett "But this one, I'm not so sure why he's here. Garrett, you bored or something?" she asked, taking on an extremely familiar tone with the group, as the door snapped shut behind her.

His eyes lit up, a little surprised, but quickly faded again to their casual simmer. "Something like that, ma'am." He was briefly reminded of the day he hit on her, and a weak smile emerged- weak because it was rather insincere. Still, it could have easily been mistaken for one of his more... licentious expressions, but there was no energy in his eyes to suggest such a thing.

Cibo was still acting cheerful, but watched Garrett more carefully. 'Hmm. Intel about these two is probably right on the mark, or, it may just be another of the man's...whatever. I should just relax after all that crap earlier. I earned it!' She thought. The intelligence agent kept silent so the others could talk, maintaining her happy smile.

Evelyn giggled a little at Garrett's admission, before turning back to Cibo "Aww, looks like you're worrying about me, Cibo. Isn't that cute." she observed, giving the Intelligence officer a hug- Very Familiar indeed. She almost didn't act like military personnel at all, but, Cibo knew what she was like during battle. Still, it was amazing that the sentient AI could pick out behaviors so quickly and precisely- almost eerie, in fact.

"Of course I worry about you! You're like family to me." Cibo replied, answering the hug with one of her own, then mussing up the shorter woman's hair like she would with a younger sibling's. "But enough standing around, where to?"

Lieutenant Garrett Hendlow was in a rum & coke kind of mood. "I could use a drink." Or three. "Or... whatever works. I honestly don't know much of the ship beyond my bay and the Marine quarters." Thinking about it, he realized how little he wanted to 'have fun' right then. He wanted a drink, and maybe some company- or some work if that wasn't possible- and then a good long nap. He attributed the nap to the drugs still floating in his system. Everything else sounded entirely normal for an irate explosives expert.

"I suppose I'm kinda thirsty as well." Kai added, agreeing with Garrett. He looked over at Evelyn and Cibo as the two separated, and the Gynoid Admiral went about the task of fixing her hair.
"Well, How does that sound, then, Cibo? a trip to the mess or maybe the pub?" Evelyn asked the intelligence agent, obviously relying on her to make the decision. Truthfully, Evelyn didn't care either way, she could get all the energy she needed directly from the ship, but food and drink were still quite refreshing to her, as she was largely organic.

"Either one's good for me. I haven't had anything other than a little icecream since I came back. I'm starving." At that, her eyes widened in horror. "Oh no! I forgot to bring you some! I'm sorry Evelyn!" She apologized sincerely; besides having the marines be used as a cover for her purchases for the alien, she also wanted to share with Evelyn. Both for friendship and work reasons of course. Work reasons...these days, it bugged her that she had to 'keep an eye' on someone who turned out so relatively harmless. Even Cibo had to admit that.

Garrett nodded. "Then it's settled." He gestured the way they had come and started walking, his mind wandering off on its own and going nowhere. Damn painkillers were really doing a number this time, but at least it wasn't like Ovid III... That was Ovid III, right? When he flashbanged all those poor Ottyos. Whatever. At least it wasn't as bad as then.

As the group walked, they made their way down a flight of steps- 'The Hymn has steps outside of the apartment decks?' Kai thought- and through a very narrow, dingy hallway that appeared to not have been cleaned in a while, before finally finding their way out of a large Janitor's closet and into a hallway, facing the opening into a Pub, in this case, Pattel's Pub, the same one that had originally been on the Hymn. Why they took such a route, they probably couldn't tell, but it had actually been a secret passage for a ship's captain to get straight to the Pub, which, Admiral Evelyn, being the Ship's Captain, Knew.

"Wait... What?" Kai stuttered, as he realized where they were and where they had come from. it had been nearly three decos of difference but they hadn't gone down nearly that many stairs. He decided not to worry about it, as it would probably only hurt his head.

"What? You don't think a ship's captain can't appreciate a nice relaxing moment or two?" Cibo asked the Lieutenant. "I'm sure they took this into account when designing the Hymn and it's sister ships. I mean, really. It's a hard job, isn't it Evelyn? Well...maybe not so much for you though..." she spoke, now twiddling her fingers in slight embarrassment. "If you got to know, we just wandered through some non-Euclidian geometry to get here. If it bothers you that much, don't think of it." she went on, turning a little stern suddenly.

"Geometry can rot, it's time to relax," Garrett added, finding a booth for 4. He made sure to offer a seat to Evelyn before choosing his next to her. This was probably the closest he'd get to any female companionship that night, so might as well make the best of it. "Now I'm feeling real congenial so the tab's on me, ladies 'n gent."

"I don't need requisition tickets, so that is fine." Evelyn stated, feeling nice to have been treated as a lady by Garrett. Kai, on the other hand, took his seat next to Cibo, realizing that sitting this way had been invented by women in order to inconvenience men, as Women had to go to the bathroom a lot more than men did. Or at least that's the way he saw it.
Soon, a burly looking man wearing a dirty apron and holding a cigar in the corner of his mouth arrived, and asked gruffly "C'n I take Ya ordah, Ma'ams and Mistahs?"

"I will have a Lime soda and perhaps some of those seasond 'fries' to go along with them, if you will." Evelyn asked... without actually asking. The man- presumably Pattel- didn't seem to notice and moved on to Cibo.

Cibo thought it over for a minute. After watching the Ottyo eat so many steaks, she simply didn't want to see any more. In fact, she'd stay away from those now, craving or not. "I'll have a bowl of borsht and a glass of sake." She ordered. It was a strange combination, yes, but for her, business as usual.

"Rum 'n coke, and cheese fries sound good too- no, no cheese. Just fries. Thanks." Then he turned toward the table. "So, any interesting stories to pass the time?" I've got one, he thought. Ever hear the one about the Anarchists? Of course Garrett immediately rejected the idea of sharing that load of crock with them. Wrong place, wrong people, wrong time.

"And I'll take an Orange soda and a chicken sandwich, please." Kai ordered, last, before the man- A tag on the back of his shirt identifying him as being Pattel like they had expected- left the table to make their orders.

"Ah, well, I don't think I have anything interesting to say, since i've been in the military far too long, and all my jokes were old when I first heard them anyway." Kai answered, seeming to take interest in the salt shaker that was sitting in the middle of the table.

"I think I have something interesting" Evelyn Began "My 'father' is aboard the ship, I haven't seen him since I first came aboard the hymn, almost a year ago" she explained, seeming happy. This was an espicially odd statement for the Gynoid to make, as all the other three knew she didn't have any parents- or did she?

Cibo raised an eyebrow for a moment. "Do you mean Istvan? I remembered seeing an Admiral talking to another elderly man when we were coming out in the hangar, but I didn't expect it to be him." She spoke. "Is it alright for him to come along? I mean, this is the Hymn, but we're still technically taking our best man out into hostile space here." Cibo shook her head a little. "As much as I'd hope he's come just to visit you Evelyn, there's probably more to it, right?"

Lieutenant Hendlow really wasn't in the mood for all this serious business, and sat silently. He did harbor a mild curiosity at the prospect of meeting Evelyn's progenitor, but wasn't in any state of mind to consider seeking this fellow out. Didn't sound like someone Garrett wanted to know, anyways- old people tended to irritate him.

"Yes, It's Istvan- It's not weird that I call him that, right? I mean, he did write the base code for my AI, and designed most of my electronic parts as well as figured out how to code DNA to be able to replicate them organically if the need ever arose." the Gynoid explained casually, as if it were all in a day's work for someone such as Istvan or herself.

"Wait- You mean Istvan, the guy who invented Practical shielding and made most of the technology we use on a daily basis practical when it wasn't?" Kai asked, suddenly intrigued. Sure, he should have guessed this, but he was too busy killing Lizards to worry about it most days.

"Yup! The very same!" Evelyn answered proudly.

As delighted as Evelyn sounded, Cibo was worried. It would have been an absolute nightmare if that man dropped dead from an assasin or old age. Or both. The paperwork alone would have been something befitting of a galactic record. "So do you want to meet up with him after we're done Evelyn?" The intelligence agent asked, pulling out her pad. "Says he's still in the hangar where I last saw him. He hasn't budged an inch since then." As Cibo casually flipped through the Hymn's internal monitoring system, she cued in at just the right time to see a black clad lizard thing splatter white gooey stuff over a pilot's face. Her expresssion changed to horror.

More silence from the explosives expert. Sure, the guy was amazing; got it. On the bright side of things, his drink had arrived. Half of it was gone by the time anyone decided to speak again. Oh, very refreshing indeed! Garrett knew it was going to be a hazy evening, and looked forward to it.

"Well, Istvan is here for a new fighter project as well as some updates to my software, Firmware, and hardware, he says, though i'm not exactly certain what he meant by it. He did say, however, that he would increase my processing capacity enough that I could support a ship Larger than the Hymn without losing my motor controls." Evelyn explained, suddenly becoming delighted as her drink and food arrived, sipping down on the soda with a look of happiness that belonged to a small child, before tentatively picking up a fry and popping it in her mouth.

"Something tells me you don't get out much, Admiral." Kai pointed out, as she was acting like a kid in a candy store with the simple foods she had been given. "Anyways, As you said before- Your brother, I suppose he must be to you, Adamsk, had a message he'd like me to pass on, though I believe it was meant to be private, so it can wait." Kai, like the Admiral, dug into his meal, taking a sip of the soda before getting a moutful of fried chicken, lettuce, pickles, and mayonaise jammed between two fluffy buns.

Cibo eyed her PDA for a moment, and then everyone else before descreetly tucking it away. No. She did not see what she saw. No. She wasn't going to make a fuss. No, no, no. This, right here, was Cibo's moment to relax and have fun. But it continued to fester in the intelligence agent's mind. She kept quiet, half paying attention to the conversation and snuck another replay in and watched as the creamy white substance splattered across the man's face. For the 8th time.

Hardware upgrades? Now there was an interesting idea, possibly one he could get behind. In the meantime, though, he had fries to enjoy, and a drink to down...
...Well the latter part was accomplished in a brief three seconds. The fries: a work in progress. He was content to listening and staring at his food for now.

"Well, then, I suppose after we are done with our meals you and I can speak privately about it, then, Lieutenant?" Evelyn answered to Kai's statement. "It's not like I don't have time; I can control the ship from anywhere, it's just easier at the bridge." she added "That sounds good, but won't that cut into your time 'hanging out' with Cibo?" the Blond asked
"I am hanging out with her right now, if you hadn't noticed." Evelyn pointed out
"Point." Kai agreed.

Cibo shifted uneaslily when her name was spoken, and she cracked. "Alright, I admit it! I was watching something!" As soon as her outburst finished, she looked at everyone staring at her. No. It was just her being paranoid again; just, this time, it was another one of those moments where it bit her. "I mean...oh hell. I might as well just spit it out." The intelligence agent held out her PDA for everyone to hear; the short video clip already turned into an animated image file ready for sending.

With a quirked eyebrow, Garrett made the polite inquiry, "What the hell is that?" gesturing lazily toward the PDA with a fry before he ate it. "Is that..." His eyes widened. "The damned alien is throwing ice cream at people? What the hell?" His curiosity was clearly piqued.

"It seems that pilot did not follow proper cultural protocol for our guest. shame." Evelyn summarized, seemingly unamused, as she began munching on her fries.

"Why did you find this prudent to tell us, Cibo..?" Kai asked, bemused as he watched the glob of ice cream smack into Red Hungary's face repeatedly, as the file was on loop. "You should probably put that on the Macro boards, you'll become a 'net legend or something." he offered, sarcastically.

"W-well...I was kinda trying to keep it on the hush-hush side, but as I tried to hide it away, I...well, I got paranoid. I wasn't looking at any of you, but I thought you guys were all looking and me and when you said my name, I kinda snapped." she sheepishly offered. "Yeah, I'm posting it on 9chan right now. Sorry for the noise."

Garrett sighed and rolled his eyes, returning to his food. It was gone in short order, he realized, but his drink had thankfully been replaced. Another half glass disappeared. Cibo's childish antics were of no interest, Kai was rather quiet, and Evelyn... well, damnit she was just too observant for him to even enjoy just watching her.

Garrett was removed from his Revelrie by the thud of a fist on his arm, hitting just right to send a flash of pain straight up a nerve pathway. Kai's hand recoiled, and the Lieutenant looked over at his XO. "Hey, Mister Mopey Drinky. I think you need to cheer up." the blonde said, taking another bite out of his chicken sandwich, the meal nearly gone by now.

"I agree with the Lieutenant, We need to find something more stimilating than alcohol and fried foods for you, as it is obviously not helping your mood. What's the matter with you? My records indicate you act like this often, but it has been occuring with greater frequency as of late." Evelyn added, furrowing her brows at the demolitions expert.

As Cibo slurped up the rest of her bowl, previous crisis averted, she observed Evelyn's observation. Yes, Cibo could access lots of things. Things that could make some people squirm or beg for mercy, but she couldn't be everywhere. And yet Evelyn could. Or, to be more precise, did so specifically for this one man. What Evelyn said practically confirmed it; she may be having an affair. Maybe. Cibo slurped up the rest of her borsht like a kid. "Hey, it's not my fault is it?" she asked, prodding the man.

He sighed, his gaze drifting around the table, frankly a little surprised. Was he being more moody, lately? Not fucking lik- ...Maybe. He finished his second glass before answering them. "No, Cibo, try as you might, you can't get under my skin that easy. Nothing's the matter, just a little weird with all the drugs lately." He waved it off. "But all this talk about genius old men and aliens throwing ice cream has been extremely underwhelming. I could go for something a little more... well, interesting." Lieutenant Hendlow, however, had no idea what that might be.

"so, this is the ages of utter boredom between the moments of sheer terror they told us about before we signed up, I'm guessing." Kai observed, sipping his drink again. "I'll admit, going to a pub for a bite and a sip isn't the most exciting thing. I mean, I have my Volumetric game systems for when I'm really bored but, that only supports up to two people at once, so it's not like we could all use it." he continued, before taking another bite.

"Well, With Istvan here, life shall probably become more exciting for you. He enjoys using only the best subjects for his projects, and I'm sure he has something working for the marines by now." Evelyn added, finishing her little snack.

Cibo gently sipped at her hot sake as they spoke, before settling it down in an unusual fasion for her; it was mature like, and due to the previous moments, was unusual in nature. "Garrett, you do realize that making a wish like that is a bad idea right?" she asked. 'Hell, my little brother was bored of guard duty on the ship, and made the same wish. What did he get? A one way ticket into gib-ville.' Cibo sighed. "Who knows. Maybe we'll fight some sort of cosmic plague victims if your wish comes true. I haven't seen a good zombie movie in a while. Hmm. Or been in one."

He grinned, but it was still weaker than what most would have come to expect from him. "Nonsense, I love a good curveball in life." Although all the best pitches seem to be given when I'm not at bat. Clear proof that he was bad with analogies, but the Lieutenant thought it befitting none the less. Then his attention returned to Evelyn. "Any idea what sort of ditty he's cooking up for us?" Garrett really hoped it was something that exploded; it'd be like Christmas come early.

"Well, So far, we only have conventional weapons; things that shoot in various ways, go boom in various ways, and the like. He's trying to find new better ways to bring the hurt to the lizards." Evelyn answered to the Demolitions expert. "Though, I was designed for starship combat, so I can't exactly imagine what he may be coming up with beyond that it's different."

"Well, if it works, then that's all I need to care about, right?" Kai stated, finishing off his own meal. "We seem to be out of food." he added, dejectedly, staring at the small plastic basket his sandwich had arrived in. "Should we go somewhere else or order more?"

Yes. Her meal finished. Her time with Evelyn a little on the boring side. She honestly hoped it would have been a girls time out! Hell, the intelligence agent even planned to introduce Evelyn to Ya--wait. "Don't know where to go next, but hold on a second. Don't we have a new rifle on the inventory since Istvan came aboard? It was a long range rifle, if I remember right." At that, she lifted her little container of warm rice liquor to her lips and finished it. Her pale cheeks were sligthly pink.

Rifles were of little interest to Garrett- he was an EXPLOSIVES expert, after all. A fresh glass of spiced rum and cola arrived just in the nick of time, too. "Well, I'm not particularly picky. After this one, I don't really care. Whatever works for everyone." He took a sip. "How about it, Evelyn? You're the omniscient one: any suggestions?"

"The Rifle was not invented by Istvan, it uses older principles and is actually a remake of an older model, but, it has greater range and penetration than the Anti-material mode on a Sugar, and is perfect for a dedicated sniper such as your squad's Adrian Gorefowl." Evelyn answered, succinctly.

"I could probably use it too, but I still like the Sugar" Kai added- he was a marksman himself when need be, though his real skill was in a combination of short-range firefights and brawling. "so what do you suggest about it, Cibo? Should we go and see it or something? I kinda really don't feel like touching a gun again at least for a few days, myself, that battle was enough for me. I just want to get my business in order and rest, to be honest."

"No, I wasn't planning on seeing it anytime soon. I'm not the kind to be transfixed over every long rifle that comes around you know." Cibo flatly stated. "I just thought it came along with Istvan, that's all. Again, speaking of which, there will be some new fighters aboard the Hymn. Probably one reason why the inventor is here." The intelligence agent merely shrugged and rested her chin on the palm of her hand. "Just trying to point out anything interesting, That's all."

Garrett nodded in agreement with Kai. "I could go for a nap in a quiet, solitary room for a day or five. Maybe a little room service, books and food all-inclusive. Hell, I might be able to get a little work done." His drink was quickly dwindling, but not near as fast as the last two.

"Then I suppose it seems agreed?" Evelyn started, patting Garrett on the leg to notify him she wanted out. "We can all go our ways for now, at least, once we're all done with whatever business we have, yes?" the Admiral said, looking to Kai for a moment. "And Cibo, if you'd like, we can spend time together later tonight, Father does not need me until tomorrow."

"Works for me." Kai grunted, getting up out of the booth to allow Cibo room to go, and stretching once again. "We can figure out something more exciting to do later, when we're not tired and on meds or something."

"That sounds great Evelyn. I was really hoping for a girls' night out. Still, the company this time was nice." Cibo swung her legs out after Kai made room for her to get out of the seat. She did find it funny that girls usually ended up sitting on the inside of the booths. It was most likely to inconvenience them when they needed to get out. In all probability, it was an attempt to keep them from leaving, she concluded. Pigs. "I guess I'll see you all later at some time or another. When will we meet Evelyn? Lolita's missed you too."

Garrett sighed and stood knowing that was the most he'd be getting out of the evening. He emptied the rest of the glass down his gullet then smiled the fakest smile he'd ever mustered. "Well it's been fun, but I'm going to bunk. Evelyn, if there's ever another orbital bombardment or something pretty like that, you let me know. Night ladies, Kai." He gave a small wave and headed off without glancing back. The Lieutenant knew glancing back would only double that sour feeling that was growing in his throat.

"Later." Kai said to his XO, patting the man on the back as he walked away. "Well, Cibo, this is where we bid you adieu. I'll see you later- Oh, and if you want to stick in my squad with the alien, feel free, we're in ned of good soldiers, and you two made the cut today... sorta. just don't vomit next time."

"Yes, we shall meet in about two hours, Cibo?" Evelyn said, fidgeting with her uniform. "I'm supposed to not care about how a uniform feels, but I prefer letting all my senses work properly- this is uncomfortable so, how do you say we have a more casual evening?" the Admiral offered.

"Yeah, I'll try, but it's not my fault the shuttle got sent through a blender. Dasvidania Kai." Cibo gave off a small wave as well, and turned her attention to Evelyn. "Huh? I thought it was supposed to be comfortable?" She asked, patting down the smaller Admiral's waist and hips. "Well, I guess the counter pressure suit gets old fast, now that I think about it. Hell, even this thing gets annoying." Cibo went on, pointing to her Eidolon; the intelligence agent was still wearing the same suit from the earlier battle, only having walked through decontamnination to clean it off. "I'll see you later, but, can I meet your dad tommorrow too?"

Garrett ended his very... quiet day alone and tossing in his bunk despite the fact that it was silent and as a Lieutenant he actually had a room. After hours of fitful attempts at sleep, he finally managed to fall asleep on the floor with a book on thermodynamics draped over his face. Definitely not what he'd hoped for...

Istvan burst into raucious laughter as the Ottyo flung vanilla ice cream onto red hungary's face, leaning over short of breath after a few minutes, resting a hand on Killy's shoulder to steady himself, before he jovially responded to the Alien. "Ah, Yes, I am the one who invented much of the technology we use now. My head should be larger than this if you really think about it, but then again oversized heads are often genetic disorders, and I'm simply a genius, so there's a distinction there." the inventor rambled on. "So I hear you're in posession of some rather intersting technology yourself, a gun that tried to bite some of the techs here, ha!" Istvan seemed highly amused by the idea, and waved a hand around his face as if to distract himself from something, or perhaps to move a bad smell away, who knew?

Emma was dumbfounded, and dropped the wrench she had been using when she heard the Admiral announce that everyone had gotten promotions. She was now a Private Second class, AKA: no longer a newbie. A smile grew on the girl's face, and she rose from her crouched position and approached Sean, saluting him happily and offering a thank you to the older gentleman.

Sean turned as Emma approached. However he barely heard her words of appreciation as he was struck by how young she looked. “Such is the depravity of war, where parents must bury the youth,” he thought to himself as he looked at the young girl’s face. He came back to reality as Emma saluted, and he shifted his face from mild disinterest to a warm smile befitting a grandfather.
“You are quite welcome, Miss Pilot,” Sean said as he returned the salute. “You and your squadron have more than earned a promotion.”

"Still, It's an honor to have a promotion handed out by one of the highest-ranked field commanders in the entire Terran navy." the young girl answered, Smiling sheepishly at the man's grandfatherly gaze; She hadn't grown up with her grandparents, whom had been killed in the Drathonian betrayal.

The Ottyo slowly relaxed and finished the pitch's follow through with a serpentine grace. The slicked back feathers of his face and crest slowly relaxed again as he stood back up to proper height, licking his ice cream stained claws. Neat rows of razor sharp, porcelain white teeth flickered in and out of sight as Yotruyan continued to lick until his hand was clean. It didn't take long. He looked at Sean with a single eye. "Do not worry, I am not offended Fleetmaster. I mean, Admiral."

Yotruyan deliberately turned his head so that all the Terrans knew he was looking at Fred. He held his arms up into the air with well imitated glee. "Fred, my friend! At least we kept our drinking to the areas." The Ottyo opened his mouth slightly to reveal his teeth again in what was presumably a small smile. "Throwing food at someone unruly? No, but I hoped it would entertain."

He waited until the head scientist was finished waving his hands around to give him a proper handshake. "I am honored to meet someone of your caliber and skill Sir Istvan. If you are interested, we could talk about our people's respective technologies a little later."

Meanwhile, Marcus leaned against a Scimitar, fighting hard to hold back laughter. At the end, he spoke aloud, just within earshot of Acadia and a few others. "Strike Out! God, I miss those days." Even as he held the amused and reminiscing posture, the intelligence agent wasn't slacking off. 'The notes Cibo put up on the Intel Network on the alien's mannerism's are probably just like her dead mom's on the Drathonians. Accurate.' With that, the intelligence agent Captain could estimate a few things. First, the alien was lying about being offended, and second, lied about hoping to entertain. But why?

'They're secretive. In fact, if the marines' yammering is to be believed, this is the first time we've ever even seen their actual troops. Speaking of secrecy, why would he offer to chat about technology with Istvan? Other than harassing the Drathonians out of our sight, he, that ship and a few others were almost the only --' Marcus' mind was pulled out of his concealed train of thought as the Ottyo stomped down on the edge of the cooler's lid, sending it flipping up and into a waiting hand to be caught. It spoke.

"On another matter, does anyone want some? I...have too much and would like to share."


Sean’s smile tapered off slightly, but the remnants were still on his face amidst the valleys of his aging face. “Heh, I think I may blush,” he joked lightly. “I am still getting used to the whole “admiral” thing.”
“You just take care out there, and I am sure you will be getting plenty more promotions in the future,” Sean said warmly, “And keep an eye on Steven for me while you are out there.”

“Oh, entertain it did, my feathered friend. Entertain it did,” Fred laughed in response.
Then Steven walked up to Fred with a slightly confused look. “Um, Fred, you know the…” he started to say, but paused to remember the name of the alien, “Ottyo?”
“Oh yeah,” Fred replied, “we had a drinking match at the bar a while back. I totally drank him under the table!”
“Why am I not surprised?” Steven said to himself before heading back in the general direction of Sean.
“Speaking of drinking,” Fred said, now turning to Killy, “We should have a rematch sometime soon.”

Captain Rhiannon Bell ran an hand accross the cockpit of her preproduction SF-X-24 Saber Space Superiority fighter. She eyed the two other craft in the hangar, similar to hers, but slight differences. The Captain's fighter was fighter was a dull grey, the color of Duratanium, and had information sprayed on using stencils, including her own name, and the fighter's registration and identification numbers. Rhiannon's fighter sported a very large '00' sprayed on either side, the other two '01' and '02', respectively.

"Private Flandre, Corporal Feyete. You are both here because our 'boss', Istvan, decided to move the Saber project to the Battle Hymn. Unlike you two, I have responsibilities aboard the Endeavour so, you have been chosen as the liaison between the current Saber project and the two new squadrons that will be receiving the first batch of production fighters." The Captain explained, eying the two men before asking: "Any Questions?"

"Yes Ma'am." Johnathan replied. "How many fighters will be in this first batch?" the pessimistic pilot asked. 'At the least, there'll be more that'll die before I do or something.' He thought. "A hiccup in the system apparently prevented me from retrieving this data." Even before flying into combat, this man was already figuring out ways to come out of every battle alive. Weather this would cost others hadn't been made apparent yet.

"Well, yes Ma'am, I do have a question." Javier spoke up, boredom showing through his accented speech. "Are we both being assigned to a new squadron, or are we to be integrated into the Hymn's existing squadrons?" For the last few months, Javier had, for lack of a better word, been bored. After his performance at the Battle of Saratar Station, the Rhean had expected to be assigned to a new squadron. Instead, he was assigned to testing the Saber.

While the Saber was, admittedly, a superb fighter, way superior to Scimitar, Javier felt like... he hadn't been duly rewarded for his performance at Saratar, having expected to be assigned to a new ship for combat. Months of testing did not seem like a better assignment. But at least that was about to change.

"There will be a total of Twenty-four production models going to the Hymn, along with your two test units as backups." Rhiannon answered John, before turning to Javier. "You are each being assigned to a separate squadron, the Hymn's own Red and Green squadron. Each suffered a loss during the last battle at Saratar, and you are the replacements going into those elite squadrons, so I expect you both to be trying your best. If you fail, it's not your paycheck or drink on the line, it's your lives now." Rhiannon looked over the two blue-clad men for another moment. "Oh, one of you is going to be under the Command of one Steven Kerning. Say hi to him for me." she added, grinning. "Now, you have one more question you should ask me, and I'm disappointed neither of you has asked it yet."

A sinking feeling settled into John's stomach. Then, that horrible itch when one knows something had been forgotten, but could not recall! 'Great...just great, I'll never figure it out at this rate.' the pilot thought. He visibly furrowed his brow and frowned as his mind went to work shuffling through all the papers tucked away in the filing cabinets up in his brain. Maybe someone put it in the paper shredder?

"Well, ma'am. There are two things I could ask." Javier started, a slightly smug grin on his face." One, if you don't mind, is what is the ratio on the hymn of Women to men. The other thing, and the one to which the answer to is "So I can kick your asses", is why are we here in our piloting suits. Am I right ma'am?"

"Correct, Javier" Rhiannon answered, smirking again. The Endeavour's special hangar bay made specifically to keep the Saber testing quiet opened its door out into the cosmos, an atmoshperic retainment field blinking into existence to keep the three pilots from asphyxiating. Rhiannon picked her dark-colored helmet, which was emblazoned with a stylized swallow, and placed it on her head, twisting it and causing the neck seal to hiss shut, before hopping into the cockpit of her Saber and starting it up. Wordlessly, and quickly, she made her way out of the hangar and Activated her fold drive, doing a micro-jump to a point that had been pre-programmed into all three fighters.

As soon as the hangar's blast doors opened, John instinctivly grasped his helmet and slammed it over his head. He didn't want to die from having his lungs sucked out of his mouth. However, he soon noted that it wasn't venting, and Rhiannon was already making her way to her own Saber. He followed suit into his own, exiting the hangar and jumping to the pre-programmed destination. As he sat there, he thought of one thing. 'Maybe I should get some sort of emblem of my own...assuming I live through whatever she's going to throw at us.'

Javier sighed, donning his own helmet,climbing into the Saber's cockpit. Compared to Rhiannon's piloting, Javier was the inferior. Even if he worked with John, even if he used every dirty trick in the book, the chances of victory rounded out to an even 20 to one. "Private Flandre. Follow my lead, and don't get killed. Captain Bell will kill us before we can even blink if we mess up. But there is only one of her, and two of us. Now lets go!"

Rhiannon's Unit 00 suddenly blinked into existance. It was not accompanied by the telltale signs of an FTL jump, instead, she suddenly appeared on the sensors. "Yoo-hoo boys. I'm here waiting for you" her voice called tauntingly over the comms, before she boosted head on at John, before blinking back out of existance. Whatever it was, she was no using FTL or they would be able to notice her. It appeared, that Rhiannon had yet another special test system installed on her fighter that the other two did not have. Her voice emanated in their helmets once more, the source now behind the two fighters "Oh, I forgot to tell you, Istvan assigned me to a new project, this is the first time anyone has experienced this sytem." her admission was followed by several mock kissing sounds before the feed cut off and the signal disappeared, but it had been long enough for the Saber's computers to log her direction of travel and speed.

John inwardly sighed at Javier's orders. Hey may have outranked him by being a Corporal, but the man simply didn't appreciate being ordered around like that. They were both test pilots, and they were in this together. That moment alone put a wedge between them that John could already feel. 'Yep. We're screwed now.' he thought. As Rhiannon rushed at John, he jinked and juked to the side and tried to evade. And then she vanished with a kiss. Her actions after that just served to cement his belief. 'Huh. Must be some sort of cloaking device. Too bad I'm not getting one.' John took note of the Captain's previous location and fell into a loose formation, following Javier's lead. 'The best course of action for her is to attack me since I'm in the back of this formation. I'll have to evade her attacks long enough for Javier to turn around and counter.' The private steeled himself for the inevitable assault.

"It's either a Cloaking device or a teleporter, probably a cloak. Hmm." Javier thought for a second, lying a a loose formation with John before he had a flash of inspiration.

"John, switch your sensors to Optical and Magnetic. Even if it is a cloaking device, it can't be perfect. I want you to search for any optical distortions, like a weirdly black spot in space or what looks like heat shimmering. She's probably monitoring our communications, so switch to laser signaling. I want you to bank to my right, and act like the bait. She won't fall for that, so be prepared to spin your Saber's orientation towards me when she attacks."

Their sensors would not see any heat shimmers, and the magnetic sensors turned out to be ineffective, as the point Rhiannon had selected turned out to be a large magnetic spacial distortion. There did seem to be a few odd points on it, and, sensing each other, they had a nice profile of a Saber's magnetic signature in the distortion area, but this faded beyond a few kilometers. It seemed that Istvan had indeed invented a perfect cloak, or at least a perfect one for this specific point in space. Still, the only indication of position they had was the previous path prediction from tracking the radio signal.

Suddenly, Rhiannon appeared again, firing off a salvo of fifteen mini-missiles. while the missiles themselves were duds, they would still do simulated damage unless deactivated or destroyed somehow. After the missiles were successfully launched, the ship cloaked again, but this time Rhiannon activated her main thrusters, and a slight reading of an Ion trail could be seen, but this too was somewhat distorted by the space in which they were.

John quickly spotted the plume of missiles, and spun his Saber's nose to the general direction, allowing it to drift while his cannons pulsed in training mode. His Sabler sweeped it's fire across the group of missiles in an attempt to tag Rhiannon before changing it's vector into an evasive one to avoid the missiles, heading away from the source. 'She came out to do that. Reminds me of that old school show with the silly rubber foreheads and funny energy weapons.' He thought to himself.Though he was still doing his best to dodge whatever remaining missiles there were, he was very careful to avoid straying from Javier. He'd rather the other take hits first.

"Well. Like I said, the cloak isn't perfect. She has to decloak to fire, and she'll eventually have to start attacking us with her guns and lasers directly." Javier started, laser cannons opening fire on the oncoming minimissiles, his Saber strafing to the side, using the thrusters to keep the nose(and the guns) pointed at the dummy warheads.

John's laser blasts licked teasingly accross one of Rhiannon's shield portions before she disappeared, and the mini-missiles were quickly dispatched, but, once again, Rhiannon was gone. She seemed to have gone back to using auxiliary thrusters, as they couldn't pick out an Ion trail any longer. The two would wait a few tense moments more, knowing they were sitting ducks if they couldn't spot her, before she reappeared, dumping an extremely large amount of heat and firing lasers at John, from directly above his fighter. The Captain's saber once again activated its main thrusters, charging at Javier now, putting up a screen of another 15 mini-missiles, this time accompanied by a hail of paint-filled dumy 35MM rounds.

As he waited in silence, John did his best to figure a way to counter. There were two of them, and she couldn't attack them both at once. She could shift targets, yes, infact, she probably would. It was tempting, even for him if he were in her position, and her in his. Plus, there was the vector of attacks. So far, it was mostly on a 2D plane; it was only a matter of time before she came from above or below. John smiled as he recalled the classic movie, the man screaming out the villain's name thrice. When she finally attacked, John was as ready as he would be, quickly forcing his fighter to strafe and nose up to face her with blazing cannons, engine flaring to close in. Rhiannon caught him slightly off guard; he expected her to come from below where his visibility was more obscured, but this was just as good. He drew up a better bead on her this way, following the mini-missile contrails to their source.

Javier smiled as his Saber slid left and upwards, vector thrusters putting him into a controlled yet erratic spin, pulling the trigger and opening up with the four laser cannons and four gauss cannons, the movement of Javier's fighter causing the shots to come in on Rhiannon from varying angles and velocity. Javier's manuever took him in a lazy, curved roll up, over, and under Rhiannon's line of fire, mini-missiles firing at the peak of the curve, streaking out to a kilometer on both sides before turning back in, screaming towards where Rhiannon should be in the time it would take them to get there.

Rhiannon's fighter snap-rolled out of the way of the blazing fire, the Captain's reaction times just lightly better than that of the Private's. Javier's more varied fire caused her a bit more trouble, but clever juking ind jigging with the thrusters caused her to avoid what was thrown at her. She flew off in another direction entirely, continuing to fire on Javier with all she had, taking up a similar tactic as he had, but she suddenly stopped firing and disappeared again.

John swore to himself as he fell into place behind Javier again. So close, and it slipped by. No matter; Rhiannon was a captain for a reason, and he was glad she was the kind that earned it. Even if he and Javier lost, it would still technicaly be a win. The good captain would get some practice in before ripping the red shits a new one. 'What is she going to do now? She came from the flank, and above. The captain hasn't tried just coming in behind me yet. I'm still in the rear, so I just need to dodge what she throws at me first.' The pilot relaxed himself and looked over the recorded readings from his scanners. 'Heat?' he thought. The private sent a tight beam laser message to Javier. "Just incase you haven't figured, there's a massive heat dump when she exits cloak. Out." John got ready and set his vision to optics and thermal, the other scanner types left to automation.

Javier didn't stop, his fighter still spinning on his axis as he pumped high energy laser beams and high velocity 35 mm rounds into space, bracketing the array along Rhiannon's projected course, making sure to tilt his saber's nose up and down, spreading the fire vertically as well as laterally. There was no way that she could've changed direction quickly enough for him to have missed completely. Getting John's message, the corporal de-accelerated, the Saber's internal systems compensating for the g-forces of intense rapid de-acceleration, and began to fly backwards, activating thermals to try to see anything odd. Rhiannon might've been able to turn invisible, but she couldn't completely negate the laws of physics. It took time to slow down, and even more time to change direction.

"What the hell?" John juked to the side to avoid Javier as he swore again, before letting the other pilot fly by. He then flipped his craft once more to trail 'behind' the Corporal. He wasn't going to give up his positioning that easy.

Rhiannon did not need to slow down or change directions, to change her direction of travel. Javier should have known that, but it seemed he was confused by his inability to use his usual resources to find her. The shots made by Javier found themselves doing nothing but flying on until something stopped them. Oddly enough, one of the paint rounds splatted on a small metallic object off in the distance, but the distortions made it difficult for sensors to notice it.

Suddenly, Rhiannon appeared directly between the two fighters with a "Yoo Hoo~" as her saber began firing off missiles in both directions from either side of its fuselage, taking advantage of the suddenly too-close fighters as the pilots distracted one another. This de-cloaking was not accompanied by a heat dump like the last one, and she immediately disappeared again, leaving the two men to deal with a volley of perhaps 50 missiles each.

The pessimistic and now pissed off pilot was particularly foul mouthed at that moment to the point that even a Drathonian would have been impressed. Not at the Captain of course, she wasn't doing anything wrong. He was absolutely furious at the stunt Javier pulled. They nearly crashed! In empty space, of all stupid places! John's Saber pulled off to the side before he hit the throttle, essentially flying past the missiles and forcing them to make a full 180 turn to follow him before flying close by Javier in an attempt to have them follow the Corporal instead. As he looked back at Javier, he saw something. 'Pink paint?' John flipped his fighter around again and fired at the paint mark after evading the missiles.

"Huh?... I hit something?" Javier asked, almost to himself, sensors barely registering a hit on a far off object. Javier's mind got to working as he began juking, twisting, rolling, sliding, and drifting to avoid the oncoming missiles both fired at him and oh so generously directed towards him. "Hey, Rhiannon! This is actually a pretty good system for strike attacks. Have you managed to miniaturize it enough yet to fit on a Saber?" The Rhean pilot grinned, gritting his teeth as he punched the Saber's throttle, the superiority fighter shooting forward at high speed, thrusters on all sides firing seeminingly chaotically as the fighter started perfoming a series of high-G manuevers firing a pair of Heavy Lasers at the far off target.

John's and Javier's attacks hit the object, and it fizzled out and then detonated, and the Electromagnetic distortion weakened a bit. It wasn't enough to reveal the captain, but it did give an insight as to why they were at this specific point in space. Rhiannon responded, this time a good distance away behind them from the radio signal "It is in fact small enough to fit on a Saber. That just happened to be backup for one of the system's current flaws, good job finding that, quite lucky of you." the Signal didn't move, suggesting that Rhainnon felt safe enough at that distance to remain stationary.

John was impressed. "Heh. Istvan's outdone himself again." he broadcasted; the private simultanously flipped his fighter around and fired his lasers at the stationary broadcast location. The autocannon may have taken time to get there, but lasers...she couldn't travel faster than 1 c. His aim may have even been off, but if he could make her jump in her seat, it would have been worth it, just for the laughs. It took 10 milliseconds for his Saber to flip on to target, and 1 millisecond more for the lasers to fire. 'C'mon, squeak for me!' he thought to himself.

"Keep her busy! I'll get rid of her clothing, and we'll see how easy she can take us while in the nude!" Javier laughed, his saber making a sharp, almost acute turn. Javier's planned course would take him in a slight curve, and if he was right, he'd be able to find the other emitters. To help him, he reset the fighter's sensors to look for small metallic objects in space.

The source of the radio signals exploded in a nice impotent 'pfoot' as the lasers hit a small object similar to the emitter they had accidentally found. "Ah, good job, you've discovered something else. I see Javier has taken the bait." Rhiannon's voice giddily stated accross the comms. however, unlike last time, it now emanated from several points in space, and Rhiannon's fighter appeared again from an entirely different point, this time right in front of Javier, flying backwards in his path. She fired her lasers at the Rhean, accompanied by training rounds. javier found his shields going down in strength, individual sections coming down quickly under the onslaught, before the Captain disappeared agaian.

However, there was some good news; His sensor ping had discovered a network of small metal objects, some matching the sources of the previous radio signals, others matching another profile entirely. However, these objects soon began moving, their small size causing some of the smaller ones to fizzle out as the electromagnetic distortions hid them again.

He didn't even have time to be foul mouthed this time around. Johnathan quickly snapped his Saber's aim to the three closest signal sources in terms of rotation and squeezed off short bursts of laser fire, hoping they'd reached the objects before they moved out of range. "Javier, what's your status?" he asked, using the laser communication device. The private's craft fell in behind the corporal's again, this time, with some more room in case the other decdied to do something funny.

Before too long, however the Captain appeared again, dumping heat for the second time, and unloading her lasers and autocannons into the rear of Johnathan's fighter, bringing down shield sections just as quickly as she had done to Javier. She would be open for a few more minutes before she could cloak again, but this was a slight improvement over being entirely unable to see her. one thing was for certain however; this would be a long fight.

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Kokuten
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Two Months Later

Post by Kokuten » Mon Jan 17, 2011 9:38 am

Two Months Later

Twenty six Saber starfighters sat in one section of the Hymn's busy hangar deck, the cavernous structure within the hull bustling with other activity. This time, the Hymn was in Warp travel, on its way towards a target. Other squadrons, equipped with Scimitars, were staging all around the smaller number of admittedly larger fighters, as were the few Shamshir fighter-bombers that were to help.

Two of the Sabers were painted a dull grey, and looked unused, but the other 24 were colored in varying shades of red and green, most customized, except, again, two, one from each squadron, which were a flat green and a flat red, signifying ships whose pilots hadn't earned the right to properly integrate them into their respective squadrons. the red one belonging to one Javier Feyete, the green one to Johnathan Flandre.

The two squadrons stood, with their new members, at the ready, awaiting a briefing to be given to them by the labcoat-clad Istvan Villanovich Plutanovicz. for once, he wasn't acting crazy; no, he seemed focused, as if her were mentally preparing for something, like he had something very important to say, that nobody else really knew.


Lieutenant Steven Kerning did his best to stifle a yawn. Having recently woken up from a quick nap he was wiping the remnants of sleep from his eyes. Despite his nonchalant appearance, Steven was actually quite giddy and excited; as this was not only his opportunity to try out the new fighter in combat, but it was also the first honest opportunity to fly since his forced R&R.
As he stood at attention along with the rest of his squadron and the Reds, he restrained himself from scratching his chin. Which was a shame because since his close call with the ship’s morgue a few months ago he had since tried growing back his facial hair. This however was hindered do to the subsequent scarring left over on the left side of his jaw. While cool in their own regard, the scale pattern scars meant that the beard on that side of his face became patchy. As such he was now trying to pull off just a goatee. The visual result was satisfactory, but was now causing Steven’s chin to itch on occasion. You always need to itch when you know you can’t, after all.
“These were the fighters that Rhiannon was flying last time,” Steven thought to himself to try and take his mind off of the itch. “This should prove to be fun.”

Captain Fredrick Haverthorn stood just to the right of Steven in the line. He was getting anxious to try out the new fighters as well, and did his best to quell his anxiety with deep breathing. He cracked a slight smile as he heard his CO try to stifle a yawn. After weeks of running simulations on the new fighters he was more than ready to feel the visceral experience of the real deal.
As he waited, his mind began to wander to other places. He began to think back to some more peaceful times. He pictured in his mind a young woman with short, brown hair that curled in a way to make her hair look like ringlets. She had a round face that ended with a chin that had a small cleft. She wore some pale blue shell earrings that accented her eyes perfectly. What he focused on the most was her kind and gentle smile. She was waving to him, and a promise ring is visible on her ring finger.
“I hope you're thinking of me, Cassy,” Fred thought as a soft smile grew on his face. “God knows I'm always thinking of you. Wish me luck.”

Sean was sitting down in a somewhat comfortable chair in the bridge scanning over a few summaries and reports of fleet movement and status. He took off his glasses and rubbed the bridge of his nose to rest his tired eyes.


Johnathan I. Flandre stood at attention alongside his new squadron. They were supposed to be the best of the best, however, he noted that he was there to replace a pilot they lost. Even the best suffered casualties, he admitted. 'Now, how long can I last? This'll be like Firefight mode on that game that Bugle made, Ringworld 4.' Reverie aside, it was very, very obvious to the new pilot that things were just about to get dead serious. Maybe Istvan would unveil some sort of cataclysmic and uncorrectable flaw in the Sabers' reactor. Or perhaps a new unmanned fighter with a super AI was going to be introduced. Or maybe, just maybe, some good news.

All possibilities with the mad genius that was the great Istvan.

Arcadia Langdon let loose a genuine giggle when the ice cream flew. It had been so unexpected. She covered her mouth near immediately, and it died shortly. Still, it had slipped out.

The day of their first honest mission came far too slowly for one Pilot Arcadia Langdon, but when it finally came to be, she was fully awake and looking particularly lively. She simply radiated an excited energy.

"When the Hymn drops out of warp" Istvan began, babbling something about how to start the Saber, how to taxi, and the proper ettiquite for leaving the hangar, before finally getting onto the important stuff. "We will be assaulting an enemy shipyards, one which is constructing something that we cannot allow to be completed. The simulations for taking out a space station will work here, but your target is not the station, rather, what it is building. It will be fairly obvious when you see it, for it is the largest thing aside from the shipyards themselves. It is a Second DEMONIX weapon, in the early stages of cinstruction. you are to fight your way to the weapon, and then destroy it by firing your anti-ship missiles at its exposed reactor simultaneously. The destruction of the reactor should be enough the demolish the weapon itself, as well as destroy a large portion of the shipyards. The reason we must use the Sabers is because the Hymn cannot get in close enough to target the reactor properly, and the Sabers are the only ones with enough defensive and offensive capability to fight their way into the structure and take it out."

The Scientist wringed his hands a couple times, guaging the reaction of the pilots in front of him, before asking: "Any Questions?"

"What methods are we to use to actually get there?" Emma Thomspon asked.

"That is up to your squadron commander." the Scientist replied.

Emma quieted down after her question was answered, and thought for a moment. She hadn't been present at the Hymn's first fight with the original DEMONIX, so she wasn't sure what she might be going up against. Luckily, that one had been bogged down with repairs, as it had been shoddily assembled in too little time, but, the threat was still there, and the Hymn was incapable of destroying it, even with the Endeavour's help.

How would she feel for this battle? She had been in several large battles on Saratar, and a few smaller engagements as well, but nothing like this. They were assaulting dug-in defenders on their home territory, who were probably desperately trying to keep their second superweapon from falling to enemy hands... It made the girl Shiver; she knew she would have to be at her best for the coming battle.

With the news of the second DEMONIX, Steven and Fred looked as though they had seen a ghost. As the only two pilots present, horrible memories of their encounter with the first came rushing back. Particularly they remembered how many of their fellow pilots and friends died when the monster was fired. Steven glanced quickly over towards Fred, who was giving him the same look. Fred, who had been thinking of such pleasant memories, realized he was forgetting to breathe.
“Sir, what sort of forces are we going to be going up against?” Steven asked as he finally overcame his shock. “It is safe to assume that on top of the station’s garrison, the Drathonians are likely to have a hell of a lot more ships guarding this thing.”
Next it was Fred who spoke up. “On that point, Sir. I got the part where Green and Red Squadron are the only ones able to get close enough to hit this thing, but what support are we going have, and how far are they coming in with us?” the Irishman asked.

Arcadia smiled upon the mission's description. She couldn't think of a better "maiden voyage" for the Sabres than destroying a key weapon in the Drathonian arsenal. The Demonix 2? Even better. Add insult to injury after their last defeat. Everyone else had already posed all the important questions so she remained silent and attentive. There was to be zero room for mistakes this time around; she'd have to remember to double-check on Emma before things began. The last thing Green Squadron needed was a loose cannon- especially one still so emotionally turbulent.


'Well, the news did make the first DEMONIX thing look like a big one. Something tells me this 'under construction' one is going to go active on us or something. Like in the movies.' he thought to himself. Johnathan seriously doubted the odds of success already; he knew the capabilities of the Saber fairly well by now, but they expected them to go in, with no other support other than each other. "Sir, what is preventing the Hymn from properly targeting this second DEMONIX ship? Are we incapable of eliminating these obstructions?"

Johnathan, being himself, already came up with what he believed to be the answer. It wasn't good


Sean set his report down and slumped back in his chair with an exaggerated sigh. He had just finished reading the briefing of the upcoming fleet engagement, and he was concerned even though his face didn’t show it. The cause of his concern was on two fronts. On one side he was being put in charge the Terran Navy’s most influential fleet and he needed to lead the fleet to a victory against a Drathonian super weapon. On the other his only grandson, his last blood relative, was in command of a mere two squadrons as they are sent straight into the gates of oblivion to blow up said super weapon.
The aging Admiral was confident enough in his abilities to command the fleet no matter what the odds he was up against, but it was the fact that he wouldn’t be able to help out Green and Red Squadron more that made him concerned. Almost immediately after reading the briefing he had begun thinking of possibilities of how to get the main fleet in closer, but without know the specifics his plans always placed the fleet at a greater risk. It was with a great pain in his chest that he convinced himself that he needed to be impartial, and he could not place thousands of lives at risk just to protect one, even if that one was his grandson. Sean began to sweat a bit as his memory flashed back to before he became a navigator to when he was still leader of Green Squadron. He had jeopardized the lives of his men before, in that case to help his son, and as a result he had lost two pilots that day. He looked down to see his hands were clenched and trembling. He reassured himself however that if he could get the fleet closer to provide support for the Saber squadrons then he would.
“Heh, I guess it was too much to assume they would start me off with a simple assignment after picking me up after twenty some years of retirement,” he said quietly to himself as he leaned his head against the back of the chair.

Seeing that the floor was now open to questions Siberia felt it was time to address what was most likely Red Squadron's most pressing issue. “Sir Plutanovicz, while it looks like not many people here had are around from the confrontation with the original DEMONIX I assume from the lack of question most people have some knowledge of its capabilities. Therefore I'm sorry to say my boys don't, and if at all possible a quick shake down of what we're going in against would be appreciated.”

Lance Corporal Jozef “Red Slovakia” Kocur, wingman to the late Red Mongolia, looked at the newbie beside him. Trying hard to remember his name all the pilot could come up with was that is was something French and the newbie just happened to be a higher rank than him.
“Oi, Françoise, I'm sure the Captain's given you the run down, but remember your out of the chain of command for now. The Admiralty trusts you, but the Squadron doesn't, least not yet. Me and Mongalia was pretty mobile, right?” The man smiled as he remembered his old comrade, the wound was getting old and the Squadron was finally beginning to recall mostly the good time. “Why he died really, we did some crazy stuff together. So they won't mind if we try to get a bit hot shot in the middle of action. But, you will call shit out or we'll both be getting hell from the tops – that is if we both get back alive.” As he finished the pilot made a tiny nod towards Siberia and Poland.


Istvan wrung his hands a bit, as if trying to remember something, and finally answered Steven "Uhh.. well.. I forgot to check. I would assume lots of defenders, definitely scourges and Rexes, also a multitude of corvettes. It's been suggested from intelligence that there are several carriers worth on top of the shipyards' own Garrisson. Oh, and there is also a large number of Frigates and battleships suspected to be present. Your support will be the Scimitar squadrons, who will basically be a distraction to allow you through, as well as the Shamshir squadrons, who are to take out Corvettes along your path to allow you through."

The old man sat there for a moment after answering before hearing Johnathan's question, and his answer was similar. "Iunno. I'm guessing its either lots of ships, a large defensive field, or both. Our fighters are capable of penetrating fields, but the number of ships within makes it suicide for our larger ships to come too close."

It almost looked like Istvan fell asleep as Siberia spoke, but when the squadron commander finished, the inventor snapped to, seeming almost annoyed by the number of questions, despite having asked for them. "You should have heard, the Demonix' main cannon wiped out half the fleet in one shot, and its defenses are so heavy not even the Hymn's main cannons can penetrate them. We only have a chance right now because the DEMONIX II is only a skeleton."

Evelyn sat in the Hymn's Captain's chair, observing Sean as he stressed over the upcoming battle. "What is the problem, Admiral?" she asked, very formally, turning her chair so it could face him more directly. the Gynoid seemed to be in a different mood after her excursion on Surandan, but she had proven that she really did not want to talk about it. The Gynoid would rather hold it inside as a fuel to help her remember why she was created and why the drathonians needed to be defeated.

“Hmm?” Sean hummed in response. With the main Admiral’s attention turned on him, the Vice Admiral sat up in his seat and resettled his face. “Well ma’am, it is not so much of a problem as it is a minor concern. Mostly I am just trying to mentally prepare myself, and get myself back into my old frame of mind from when I was a navigator. There are a lot more ships to direct this time around, and a Hell of a lot more opposition. Nothing to worry about though, I was the chess champion down at the VA on Ovid, so my mind is as sharp as it ever was.” The aging man smirked a little before drawing up his intense façade.
“The Admiral is watching Sean. You can’t do much good if you get shipped back early for failing to perform.”

"Well, If our mission is to attack the core of the DEMONIX II, why aren't we using some kind of larger diversion? Like, I don't know, music broad-casted over the Drath comms?" Javier Feyete asked, sounding almost as bored as Istvan himself. "I know the Saber is a damn good fighter, if I must say so myself, but 24 fighters against something that large? The Draths aren't stupid. They'll be expecting something like this. It's probably a trap. And the DEMONIX II will probably be fully operational by now too. I'm not saying we shouldn't do this, I'm just saying that we should have a better plan than 'Red and Green, y'all go here and fire your missiles'."

Johnathan nodded to Istvan's answer. It made him want to ask even more questions, but then the man seemed to be getting sleepy. Old men needed their sleep, so he definitely wasn't going to bug him for more answers. Again, he kept quiet, and started to think about the image boards. How was that thread he started up doing anyways?


Steven took a steadying breath to calm him. His mind began working through possible ways he could fly this mission with maximum efficiency. In other words, how he can lead the pilots to completing their objective with minimum risk to their welfare.
“That is where I come in Corporal Javier,” Steven spoke up as he wondered whether he had gotten the name right. “I have been Squad Leader for almost eight years, and I have made ace several times over. Your CO has seen his fair share of combat as well. We won’t lead you guys in without a solid plan.” The veteran pilot now had his arms folded behind his back, his chin held level, eyes were determined and pointed forward, and his jaw was set.

Fred glanced over towards Steven and resisted the urge to blurt out and say, “That scar definitely adds to your overall BA level.” He settled for telling himself he would buy Steven a drink afterwards.


Istvan made his way over to Javier, Surprisingly spry for his age, and obviously not needing the cane he carried with him. Until it was made apparent why he had the implement- He whacked Javier Sharply with it. Not hard enough to injure, but definitely enough to sting. "Do you not listen? We have the Hymn's entire loadout of fighters supporting you, as well as fighters from other ships in the battlegroup. And did you forget theat we are the largest battlegroup in the Terran Armada? Quit your bitching, Young one!"

Satisfied with his little rant, Istvan returned to his place, but on his way, he grabbed Steven by the collar and dragged him up to the front as well. "As far as the actual layout of the battlefield, we can't give you that information since we don't know it. Your Leader here- And yes, he's in charge of both squadrons today- will formulate a plan and relay it to you once you see the battlefield."

******

"From what I have read of your service records and general history, you are the man most suited to carry out this operation. I have already shown that, despite advanced programming and computerized abilities, I lack the necessary experience to coordinate large forces. However, do not hesitate to call upon me, I can give you any information you desire from any ship in the Battlegroup."

Evelyn Kept her chair toward Sean, but her attention seemed to divert elsewhere. "We will be leaveing FTL in approximately thirty seconds. Warnings begin In 5." the Gynoid informed the Vice Admiral.

Just as Evelyn had predicted, the 'entering Realspace Soon' warning began to call, the lights flashing to red for a few moments, accompanied with a soothing voice informing everyone of the reversion. In the hangar bay, many of the Scimitar squadrons began mounting and starting the fighters, ready to launch the moment the Hymn Exited Hyperspace.

'Aren't we supposed to put or freshest and newest pilots in suicidal roles?' Johnathan asked himself. 'Oh wait, they already have; those guys are flying as meat screens so we can squeeze by. How fortunate for us.' He had to work quite hard to keep himself from laughing out loud at the old man's antics at Javier. Who would have guessed he had it in him? Regardless, the relatively new pilot was still standing there at attention, even as red lights blared and warnings called. Out of the corner of his eye, Johnathan watched as the pilots for the other craft readied up and scrambled over them like ants. Even out of the corner of his eye, he felt uncomfortably itchy.

Siberia grunted a bit at the announcement that Steven would be in charge of both Squadrons for the attack. Even if the man had superiority and experience, Red Squadron was his squadron and it hurt a bit to have command taken away from his hands. Though, with the Hymn already re-entering into Realspace that all had to go out of the window, there was no time to have a chat about the impoliteness of taking someone's command right out from under them even at a temporary level.
Turning his head slightly towards Steven, Siberia gave the other commander a small salute, letting him know that he himself and Red Squadron would follow his orders.

Hungary held back a belch as the briefing seemed to be coming to an end. He didn't quite like that old Siberia had lost command. Even if their commander seemed to be taking it into stride. Though, what made the drunkard of a pilot's eyebrows really raise was the expression on their Seconds face, Poland, he seemed just about ready to burst and the only thing holding him back was that Siberia had given his consent.
Most of the other squad members seemed to have taken up the same kind of mood as Poland had too, and that didn't bode well for such a serious operation. Deciding something had to be done the large pilot elbowed Ruze. “Oi, your one of the more laid back ones out of us here, you think you can say anything after we launch to get them to calm down? But I doubt all of them will be one-hundred percent.” Hungary kept his voice at a whisper. “I would do it but I'm worried about that fool Albania, without the old man directly in control he'll probably think his leash is gone.”

Steven was caught off guard when Istvan drug him to the front by his collar, so he did his best to not fall over as he hopped along after the old man. He was about to protest when the old man stopped and Steven took the chance to straighten his flightsuit. He was going to ask why the hell the scientist had done that, but he was cut off before he even started by the announcement of his temporary executive command of both Green and Red Squadron for the operation.
“Uh, the Reds are not going to be too pleased with this,” he thought to himself as he looked at the pilots he would be commanding. After a few moments he went back to thinking of strategies, but a siren broke his concentration.
“Alright, Reds, Greens, we have been practicing for almost two months now, so it is time to prove once again why we are the best. Saddle up! See ya in vacuum,” Steven said as he dismissed the pilots to go finish readying their Sabers before turning to Istvan, “Sir.” With a nod to the scientist, he himself turned to go to his own Saber.

As he hoisted himself up onto his new fighter, he allowed himself a moment to admire the finely crafted ship. He also was liking the new paint job the fighter had received, his long time phoenix emblem was now replaced with the new wyvern emblem. He had also taken the time while painting to add a subtle scale pattern to match his scars, he thought it was clever.
“These seats are much nicer than the ones in the scimitars,” he thought as he fastened himself in. He looked out of the cockpit to try and get a visual that all of the pilots were almost ready, but he noticed that his count was off by a few. “Hmm, they are just behind the other fighters,” he thought casually as he went back to finishing his preparations. He looked up and stared blankly at the front of the cockpit. “Huh, hiding fighters behind other fighters. Possibly,” he thought casually before setting back to work.
“This is Green Lead, pilots sound off once you are ready to fly,” Steven said into his comm as he fastened his helmet on. “Oh, and Red Squadron, no hard feelings, I look forward to flying with you.”

"Yes sir!" snapped Arcadia Langdon, silent up until now. She was one of the first into her undecorated Saber. Cozy, perhaps, but it still wasn't as comfortable as her Stygian Retribute. Whatever, right? That wasn't her concern at the moment.

"Green 3, ready."

"Tch. Right." Ruze didn't believe anyone would take his words seriously, but he figured it was worth a try. When the klaxons blared, he was on the move and in his craft in no time. After all of Red Squadron had given the green light, he spoke up. "Remember guys, the Lieutenant Kerning may be running this op, but that's merely overhead. Siberia is still in command of us Reds. Don't forget, this is also a very important mission. We'll all go home decorated if it's successful."

All systems are green. Ammunition, full up. Paint? Could use a new paint job, assuming I come back. Johnathan's hand reached out and activated the new SF-X-24 Saber. As he made sure that personal preferences were uploaded properly, he mulled over what he was just about to do. 'Fly in, run like hell past the defenses while the other guys act as a meat screen, blow the thing, run like hell again. Huh. Reminds me of that old Space Opera classic. Except without that Force to help me. Damn, this sucks.' Upset, he sat there in his cockpit mulling over how things were against the odds, how reality was nothing like the movies. How this was a suicide mission. And then something clicked together in his mind in one of those moments.

"Hey! I we can't be certain we'll win like the guys in the movie, or have their snazzy psyker powers, but we can have the music!" he spoke to himself. Green Five checked his playlist on the music system he installed earlier, and found just what he was looking for. Music for the occasion. As he briefly played the music to make sure it worked and then turned it off, another thought came into his head.

'How many of those guys got fragged again?'

Still, he couldn't help saying, "Green Five, standing by." right on his cue after Emma sounded off. He knew, absolutely knew he was a sucker for these kinds of things.

By now, the Hymn had entered realspace, and the hangar doors opened fully to reveal an awe-inspiring sight. If one had thought Saratar to be enormous, Dracharia Letima made it look tiny. Sure, Saratar was the largest Man-made thing in space, but the Drathonians did not exactly count as man.

The Structure was at least a thousand kilometers long, the only thing orbiting its sun. Half as wide as it was long, it was made up of many thin pieces and branches going off in any direction there seemed to be room to go, and every single arm had ships on it, in varying states of construction. This one station created all of the Drathonians' ships, and it was suicide to try to attack it.

However, they were not attacking itself, merely one extremely large structure protruding off the nearest end- the partially completed spaceframe of the second DEMONIX weapon, only half covered in armor, with its internal structure exposed, showing off a reactor that made the Hymn look like a plaything. from a bout five hundred kilometers above the station, the Terrans' view was almost magnificent, with the sun reflecting off the smoother parts of the station's exterior, glinting madly when it struck a window. Multicolored lights of various purpose also stood out along the structure's length, indicating landing pads, launch catapults, hanagrs, and drydocks.

And then the lights started. Flashes, bangs, beams, streaks, explosions, every single weapon the station had on hand on this end was unleashed, as well as from the hundreds of defensive craft encircling the massive structure. small explosions appeared out of nowhere as kinetic weaponry impacted on the Hymn's masively powerful defensive screens, but enemy main weaponry had not been expecting an attack, and therefore nothing too troublesome for the Hymn was really being thrown at it, though that would change in a few minutes. Her Turbolasers and defensive weapons began firing back, torpedo tubes spitting out munitions as fast as they could while the Solaris cannons looked for a properly juicy target to decimate.

But, behind and all around, flashes of a different light could be seen. First the Hymn group, made up of mostly Uranis and Mars class ships, began to appear behind their mothership, and then, in the distance, several thousand kilometers to either side, appeared two other battlegroups. The Endeavour battlegroup- and one other, the Kosmos II's group had also been completed just in time to participate in this operation. Both of the other groups also had numerous neptunes included, adding to the sheer number of fighters being spawned from the fleet, nearly enough to match those defending the station.

The exchange of fire became absolutely intense in a matter of moments, with most of the space filled with some form of death or another, but the agile fighters skirted around it for the most part, their size and mobility making it near impossible for anything larger than point defense weapons to really hit them. Mini-nova cannons, Turbolasers, Torpedos, antimatter railguns, nuclear warheads, plasma weaponry, and everything in between was hurled through space at velocities high enough to decimate most moons and small planets, showing just how tough and sturdily built the modern spacecraft were.

Still, on both sides, craft were critically damaged, broke up, exploded, or simply disappeared from existance within the first minutes of battle if space only carried sound, one could hear thousands of agonized cries and final utterances of both Terrans and Drathonians alike, the slugfest quickly becoming a slaughter on both sides.

Istvan, for his part, began walking away, pacing himself oddly, but somehow the pacing allowed him to avoid the numbers of fighters zipping through the hangar heading off to start the battle. He disappeared, leaving them to wonder at the marvel of a human being the crazy inventor was.

"Green Four, Ready to go." Emma responded to Steven, starting up her new fighter and getting used to the layout-it was only slightly different from the Scimitar's and felt a bit less cluttered and more user-friendly. The craft it was connected to, also felt more sturdy and substancial. the readons she got on the feedback monitors showed her that the fighter craft's defenses exceeded those of the original Pluto class, something several hundred times larger and slower. Even her damage potential was something to be reckoned with, though obviously nowhere near a starship proper. The young pilot gunned her engines, watching the numbers increase with the power output of the units, and she smiled. "This is going to be fun..." she muttered, ready to get revenge for her brother.

Evelyn watched the battle, though her view was something a Terran could not understand. More sensor data than any operator could ever sift through flew through her mind's eye, every moment slowed to virtual minutes to the Gynoid's mind. Sir, we have begun, How would you like the Battlegroup to proceed through this operation?" she asked, he voice cold and calculating, for once nearly robotic in tone.

Inwardly, Javier frowned as he sat in his Saber's cockpit, waiting for the order to launch. Keeping his breathing rhythmic and calm, the Frenchmen listened to the explosions of Drathonian guns and beams impacting on the hymn's shields. It wasn't the possibility of dying that annoyed him, nor was it the thought that this was an obvious trap. No, what annoyed Javier was all the waiting. The constant waiting for combat, and behind able to hear the sounds of the battle, feel the impact from the enemy's weapons on the ship, only made it worse.

"Red France, standing by."

Johnathan sat in the cockpit of his Saber, twiddling his fingers and otherwise watching the cannon f - initial waves of fighters launch. Soon enough, it would be his squadron's turn to soar and do their part. Even though a fierce slaughter was happening not too far away, he felt like kicking his feet up on the dashboard of his fighter. Of course, that' wasn't the brightest of things to do. The 'FNG' of the squadron mentally went over the plan again, and swore.

"God.This plan is the equivalent of jamming potatoes down a tank's exhaust ports!"

On the other hand, it did often work...

“Siberia, I am still going to be depending on you to direct the Reds for the most part,” Steven said to his Red counterpart. The cue finally came, and it was time for Steven to once again lead his pilots through the gates of Hell. He briefly found himself wondering if Rhiannon would also be flying with them in the battle.
“Alright Saber squadrons, it is time to fly. Form up on my six once we are out there. Fred, you stay on my nine,” Steven announced across the comm channel. Then without another word, Lieutenant Kerning shot off out of the hangar in the state-of-the-art Saber fighter.
As he passed out of the hangar and out of the Hymn’s artificial gravity field Steven reveled in the familiar feeling of flying in zero gravity. It had been almost two months since his last real flight, and he realized just how much he missed the feeling. However, now was not the time for idle thought, and he focused himself on the growing battle. Out of all the battles the veteran pilot had seen since joining the navy, this one was by far the largest and most chaotic. Allied and enemy fighters were everywhere, and there was already a large amount of debris littering the battlefield.
He carefully surveyed the carnage trying to adapt his strategies to this new theatre of war. There were a massive amount of enemy fighters, that was to be expected, but it was the sheer amount of frigates, battleships, and destroyers that worried Steven. “If the swarm enemy fighters don’t get us, then it will be the cannons on those larger vessels that take us out; if we manage to get past those as well, then there are still the defenses on the shipyard, not to mention the Demonix II’s already active defenses we need to contend with. Even if when we manage to blow up the core of the Demonix II there is still the matter of getting back to the Hymn which means flying past the same defenses we had to deal with on the way in, except now with our rear flanks exposed. Is command going to just order the other squadrons to fly in as meat shields? Or do they expect us to get back fine on our own?” said the thoughts that rushed through Steven’s mind. “Do they even expect us to get back at all?”
“Message to all squadrons in the area, this is Lieutenant Steven Kerning of the Battle Hymn’s Green Squadron. I need to get my Sabers to the core of Demonix. This will be no small feat, so I hope I can depend on you for assistance in the coming battle. Green Leader, over and out,” Steven said in a broadcast message that was sent to all squadrons in the area before switching his comm back to its typical closed channel. “Saber Squadrons, the plan so far is to fly in from below to try and minimize the risk from the larger enemy ships. Stick close to your wingman and use the debris to your advantage. The other squadrons are going to be lending us a hand. I want this done right, so use teamwork; I don’t want any solo running or showboating. Understood? Good. Now let’s get to work.” Steven said as he relayed his working plan.

Back on the bridge of the Hymn, another Kerning was formulating a strategy for taking on the mammoth enemy. Any semblance of doubt had left Sean’s face long ago as the aging admiral set to work. He was now fully immersed in the holographic display of the battlefield as he went about positioning his fleet.
In his time working on the bridge of capitalships before his retirement, Sean had seen the holo-displays used many times, but in those days it was only his job to navigate the ship to wherever the commander of the vessel directed. Now it was his turn. Within the nine foot diameter holographic globe Sean had complete control over positioning. He could make the display larger in order to focus on specific areas within the battlefield, or he could make it smaller for broad control of the fleet. Every time he moved an icon to a new location, the information would instantly be turned into code and sent to each ships respective navigator as coordinates.
As the battle got underway, Sean began positioning the holographic silhouettes of his fleet of ships around the three dimensional display. Despite his age he moved with a certain grace, and his hands flowed from place to place like a conductor directing a symphony. Every time he would grab a new ship a parade of colors would appear before his eyes as the ship’s specs and vitals were displayed in front of him. All the while he was focused on his masterpiece tiny specs of light flittered all around him. Each spec was an individual fighter jet, each one a working and vital piece of the bigger picture.
“UTR Battle Hymn, proceed to coordinates X(346.535) Y(725.742) Z(076.545). Our fleet is to push forward to try and draw the fire of the larger Drathonian vessels. They likely aren’t fully aware of our plans yet, so it is imperative that we keep the attention off of the Saber Squadrons for as long as possible.” Sean announced as he continued his waltz. Even though he was able to give directions to the Hymn as well, and he could theoretically direct this battle while remaining completely silent, he still made it a point to direct his own ship personally. For it was not just a commander’s job to direct a fleet, but also to instill confidence into the ranks of his men.

Siberia gave a quick acknowledgment to Steven before the Red Squadron Leader spoke to his boys personally. “We don't have experience with this target and even though the Lieutenant wants me to still control over you if he gives a command do not second guess him. Now, treat this like any other op. No reason to let some big cannon get us all jumpy, after all we'll blow it up before it wipes us out of this galaxy.” Turning off the general comms, Siberia activated a few direct lines, knowing that a few of his men needed a few private words.
First he activated Hungary's channel. “Ambrus, as always, watch Albania for me. He shouldn't be too much of a hassle for a mission this important. If he is tell me, I'll deal with it.”
Having nothing else to say to the large, and for once sober pilot, Siberia went on. “Kocur!” The Red Lead voice was sharp as he switched to Slovakia's channel. “I know you have a new wing, but the records show he's a good pilot. Watch his back and make sure you both come home once the day is out, this Squadron doesn't need to be retiring any other names.”
Finishing with his second target, Siberia hesitated on whether or not he should speak to the last pilot he had in mind. Finally, after a short pause, he flipped Albania's switch.
“I'm speaking to you straight from my authority right now Aleksander.” On the other end it was completely silent. “Our squadron has some of the best pilots, right up there with the Green squadron aces. Your no exception, but your also sick. I don't have the time or the resources to deal with you know, this is your last mission with the boys Frasheri. Give us all something good to remember you by.”
Siberia cut the channel off just as the cursing began.
There wasn't much of a wait before Steven's Saber launched, talking to the pilot's personally took more time than Siberia had thought it would. He took a deep breath, then opened one last channel. “You ready for this Adalbert?”
On the other end Red Poland smiled, his gravelly voice loud and clear. “I've followed you this long sir, about nothing will stop me from flying forward on this one.”
“Good to hear it.”
With that Red Squadron launched.

Ira couldn't help but grin at the sight in front of him. This was the stupidest thing he had ever done and he would be the first to admit it. The target was seemingly unbeatable, the task was undoable and risk was unbelievable. The young man laughed loudly and kept on his captain's tail as they flew onward.

"Magenta Squadron... We got this. Just make sure that you don't pull any unnecessary stunts... Ira."

Ira chuckled. It wasn't his fault that he liked to show just how amazing of a pilot he was. The kid couldn't help being the best and he needed to prove it. He spoke back to his squadron in a smug voice. "Sir. I promise that I won't pull anything to unorthodox today. Just going into this fight is the worst choice I've ever made."

They were getting closer to the target and Ira was beginning to wounder if he really should try something. This might be his last chance after all. The flashes of cannons, guns and who warning lights were all around them now, they were closing in on the target. Evasive action was being taken but Ira stayed right on his captain's tail, just like he was suppose to. They weaved around wreckage and enemy ships, blasted at the lizard's when they got a chance, but not to much was happening yet. The captain came back on the line.

"Boy's run straight up the middle, Then we'll bank left, opening up that line for the others. I want Magenta 2 above me, 3 behind him, 4 behind me and five... Five on my 9."

Ira moved to fly beside his captain, Now able to see the whole experience for himself he shook his head and focused. This was suicide, complete and utter suicide. Magenta 2 spoke up, the sound of a deep voice filled the speakers.

"I think that-"
"Magenta 2 is down. 3..."
"I'm good."

Magenta 2's star ship had been blasted apart nothing was left alive... One of the cannon's on the ship they were passing had hit him. He was dead. Ira bit his bottom lip and continued on. There was nothing he could do now, he just had to continue.

Emma followed on Arcadia's wing, her new iteration of Azure Phantom performing admirably, though they had not quite began any combat yet, they would have a few more moments before they got into any more action than dodging the stray shots from the surrounding ships. "This is just ridiculous..." She absentmindedly muttered as she momentarily glanced at the battle at large, before the two squadrons of fighters dove into the conflagration, flanked by four squadrons of Scimitars who were to help protect them.

"Magenta Squadron, Before I lose any more of you, I need you guys to converge on the two squadrons of our new fighters, we're acting as a screen for them! Make sure they get through safely!" Magenta lead called to his squadron, annoyed that he had lost his wingmate already. Magenta five would have to do. The young man was rash and totalled a lot of fighters, but he was probably the third- second best in the squadron.

The Drathonians were quick to launch a counter to the new squadrons fo fighters coming- in the form of three squadrons of scourges, Four of Rexes, and one of a new larger fighter that seemed to have a turret mounted on it. Quickly, the fighters dove off to fight with the screen of Scimitars, but a few got through, mostly Rex fighters and those new conflagrations. It seemed that this wouldn't be a cakewalk- even with two more Scimitar squadrons diving in to help

With Sean's orders, Evelyn and the bridge crew pushed the Hymn towards the group of Drake battleships. The drakes, taking notice, began repositioning themselves to take on the Hymn itself- it seemd the commanders knew what the ship was capable of, unfortunately, they left themselves rather open by focusing on the capital ship, leaving them open to the Uranis class ships bearing down from other angles, the Mini-nova cannons chewing away at their shields, bringing them to a point where the Hymn's Solaris could push through and possibly continue on. "Admiral. I have a clear shot now. We can take out four of the drakes in this group, but will be unable to fire the Solaris again all battle. Our turbolaser batteries should be enough to get us through, but I would like your input. Shall I wait for the fifth to be open, or shall I attack now?" Evelyn wasn't as indecisive as it seemed, she simply knew she could afford to wait and wanted to know the admiral's opinion of the current situation.

“Hold off on using Solaris. As you said the turbolasers will do the job just fine.” Sean replied as he continued to monitor the evolving battle. “You don’t want to go using your ace too soon.”
A flashing red icon caught his eye. It was coming from one of the ships in the fleet indicating that the ship wasn’t going to last much longer. Sean quickly directed the ship to pull back and fresh ships to cycle in. He began adjusting the formation of the fleet to a defensive formation that utilized the Central Place Theory with the Hymn at the center and branching out to smaller ships in a hexagonal pattern.
After moving the final ship into position he collapsed the three dimensional map for a better view of the field as a whole. The Battle Hymn fleet was pushing forward; the second allied fleet was pushing forward as well off the Hymn’s starboard; and the third was spreading out along the rear flanks of both fleets, ready to move ships into the gaps created by other vessels destroyed on the front.
“UTR Battle Hymn, remain on this course. Reduce speed to fifty percent. We are to continue forward and then proceed to port while descending at a rate of thirty-five percent,” Sean said, announcing his intentions to the crew.

John saw the fighter screen move to intercept, but grumbled when a pair of Rex-Class Fighters and a new thing in tow. "At least it'll be interesting, assuming it's not made out of kick-ass." he muttered to himself. The Green Squadron FNG stayed in formation, but as soon as the first Rex came into range, Johnathan cut the engines and flipped about to face it with lasers and autocannon fire. He carefully aimed the burst at the Red while his fighter continued drifting along in formation with the other Sabers.

'I wonder if they sometimes regret not eating their version of waffles for breakfast before dying.' Johnathan sure knew he felt the same way; they ran out of waffles and fried chicken on the Hymn!

“Siberia to Operations Leader, are we pushing on or fighting back?” The Red Leader sent his message to Steven before turning his attention back to his own squadron.
“Maintain formation for now boys. Only stop to kill when necessary -” Siberia paused as he and Poland slipped out of their lead position and brought the full force of the new fighters down on three Rex's that had singled out a lone scimitar. As the Drathonian ship's exploded and the individual frame's began to pull apart into scrap Siberia and his wing rejoined the formation. “ - then immediately slip back into place. The Demonix is the main objective of this run about and we're not going to leave Green Squadron finding itself alone just so we can test out some new toy.”

Albania snarled at both his new orders and his commander in general. He's putting me out to pasture! Damn it, I've kept my record clean – never been caught – and now I'm gonna be grounded because of Pot Belly decked me for talking some little girlie!
Surging past an earlier kill, Albania flew by a Scimitar and Rex locked in combat to meet one of the newer Drathonian fighters. As Hungary had obeyed orders and already fallen back into formation the dog fight was one on one. Albania turned sharply as the enemy's attacks thudded against his shield. The Drathonian pilot responded in turn, keep tight to its prey's curve and out of range. Then, suddenly stopping, Frasheri got the jump on the scaly bastard, ripping through the fighter's backside and blowing up its engine.
Only the did the pilot respond to his orders, venom in his voice. “Albania, rejoining formation.”

Arcadia pinged her acknowledgment and fell into place among Green squadron. "Stay close, Emma. Things are going to get very heated real quick."

"Sir," was Ruze's curt response to receiving orders. For the time being all was well, but that wouldn't last much longer. It was clear their group was being targeted, and he could only imagine they would draw more heat as more fighters came to defend the Sabers.

As Green and Red squadron tried to force their way to the DEMONIX, they were met with extremely stiff resistance. For every fighter the Hymn's group launched, the station launched two. And there were those new fighters, as well, large as a Scourge, quick as a Rex, they bore heavier weaponry and a small turret to boot, making them quite a fearsome foe in deed. From every crack, crevice, hangar, and bay in the station, fighters seemed to be pouring forth, nearly innumerable, though nobody had time to think about that.

Steven, being in the lead, had been accosted by two of the contraptions with turrets, a missile exploding right near his shield grid, and was locked in a struggle with a set of very good pilots. Fred had been diverted away by another, keeping the wing pair from helping each other, as those turrets looked too dangerous to ignore.

Johnathan Flandre, for his part, had been accosted by a squadron of scourges, and while the fighters had nowhere near the manueverability or firepower of his craft, they had as much shielding power as he did, making them quite a foe on numbers like this.

Aracdia had been broken off from Green squadron by a Scourge and a Rex, and while that was normally no trouble for her, she didn't have the help of her wingmate for this one, the young girl having been broken off by a half squadron of Rex fighters. Arcadia could only work to get rid of her current foes before she could have a chance to help Emma.

Red squadron wasn't doing any better, two full squadrons of Rexes having gotten past the under-strength Scimitar screen, which proceeded to pair off and split up the entire squadron, two Rexes to a Saber, which would prove to be quite a handful. Siberia and Ruze, especially, seemed to have been targeted by the better pilots in the group, and were having their own skills tested quite severely.

Whatever was going on, it was obvious that the Scimitar screen wasn't enough, and it would take several minutes for reinforcements to arrive, as more waves made their way down into the Squall of fighters. However, two things would appear on the Squadron leaders' screens that would relive a little bit of stress: two squadrons, labeled E:G and K2:G respectively, identified as Saber squadrons. Obviously, Red and Green weren't the only squadrons outfitted with the new fighters, which were making Micro-FTl jumps to close in on the battlefield, but they too, would take a while to arrive.

Admiral Evelyn observed the battle through the Hymn's sensors, making minr changes and inputs into Sean's plan, though all this did was help follow his orders better, her increased awareness of the battlefield a valuable tool in telling when a ship was in danger or not. The deadly ballet continued, the Hymn at the center of several rings of dancing starships, all firing away madly at their enemies, which were firing back just as fiercely, though it was obvious that they lacked the coordination of the Terran battlegroups. Losses happened on both sides, but it was obvious that the Terrans were doing more of the hurting, even as reinforcements arrived for the Lizards, ships in varying states of repair and construction being pressed into battle with understrength crews in a desperate gamble to fight off the well-versed attackers.

The Gynoid, as she sat, suddenly perked up, having recieved a message via one of the communications personnel, an encrypted FTL comm from several light-minutes away. She smiled, though, combined with her somewhat wearied face, it was a grim one. "Sir, Operation Tunguska has been sighted. Our primary checkup shows approximately 90% accuracy, though we failed to hit our primary target. When shall I activate Tunguska?" she asked, her brilliant blue cybernetic eyes appearing to stare through Sean Kerning, almost directly into his soul.

Emma almost said something, but stopped herself, the effort and concentration she needed was a more important use of the energy. Her fighter halted suddenly as if she had hit a very solid wall, narrowly avoiding several laser blasts from her enemies, before boosting straight 'upwards', thereby avoiding several more. A quick tumbling roll to her left, and a missile was dispatched by her exhaust, but she was far enough away that it didn't even touch her. The young girl smirked, Juking and diving a few more times, before she jigged herself into an odd angle, and began firing her Gauss cannons and Laser cannons at specific intervals, while her fighter spun and juked, twisting and turning in ways that contortionists could only dream of, and the girl watched the results of her efforts, she had managed to take down the shields of two of the six enemies, and done shield damage to the rest, but, even with intertial control, a small drip of blood began trailing its way down from the girl's nose, and she grimaced in pain, knowing she could only keep this up for so long before she was hit and destroyed.

Siberia grunted in annoyance as the enemy's legion-like swarms of fighters came bearing down on his squadron. As the Red Leader executed a sharp turn to avoid a barrage of incoming fire he flipped his comms on, making sure to include the one that connected him to Steven's Saber.
Siberia's voice, as always when in battle, was calm and unwavering as it came across the squadron radios. “Our operational leader is currently occupied with an intense dogfight – as we all currently are.” Lights flickered across Siberia's shields as one of the turreted fighters clipped his Saber with a quick burst of fire. Once again Jan was forced to make a gut wrenching turn, but this time it left the enemy ship exposed to his wingman. Poland fired a missile at the enemy fighter, blowing off a chunk of armour close the engines. “We must hold what little of a corridor we have made though, take your time boys and do it right. It won't be long now anyway,” Siberia smiled as he looked down at – perhaps for the fourth time – the message informing the Saber Squadrons of they're impending reinforcements. “we got a few more surprises for our scaly friends yet.”

Hungary found him for the first time – out on the field of battle at least – wishing that he didn't have gods-be-damned Aleksander Frasheri as his wingman. A nasty little criminal he might be back in quarters, but everytime before when they had sortied the man had been a level-headed and at times astonishing pilot.
Today was different.
Today he was flying like an academy addled, glory seeking fool. Which, considering today was also what amounted to the most important mission they had ever executed, was a very bad thing.
Frigg! Jek Ambrus cursed over and over in his mind as – for the second time without any real reason – his wingman broke way out of formation. Albania was flying jerkily and in erratic spirals, almost is if he was attempting to herd as many enemy fighter's as he could around him.
And it is damn well working. Hungary thought as he found himself astonishingly staying loyal to his wingman for the moment, following the crazed pilot and blasting at a few of the lizards that had began to crowd around his blindspots.

Red Ukraine swerved as a burning Rex rocketed in between his and Ruze's Saber. The young pilot was thankful for his goggles keeping the sweat out of his eyes as he checked over the various instruments in the Saber's cockpit.
One caught his eye in particular, it was politely informing via a series of pulsing red dots that five enemy fighters – mostly likely Rex's by the size of the dots – would soon be swooping in on him. As the group got closer they began to split slightly, three of them maneuvering themselves closer to Ruze while the other two came for him.
Flipping on his comm-unit and sending a direct beam to his wingman Jimmy's voice was only tinged by a bit of nervousness as he spoke. “Ah, Ruze, we got five of them to our six, looks like their splitting up with a pair to me and the rest in your ballpark.” Turning to meet the enemy the young pilot set his jaw, he could only thing of one more thing to say to Ruze before his mind became completely focused on the upcoming dogfight. “Good luck.”

Steven was more than a little irked to see his formations wavering, and even more so by the two new enemy fighters that had singled him out. He kept his frustration under control and funneled it towards reworking his plan. Before he could even glance at the whole battlefield again though, he would need to dispatch his pursuers.
“Two, think you can pull yours guys towards me? As we cross paths we can dispatch the bogeys,” Steven called to Fred as he tried to regain the upper hand.
“That is a negative Green Lead. They have me on the defensive big time right now,” Fred responded curtly, his attention obviously focused elsewhere.
Steven noticed he was biting his lower lip. “Hmm, that could work,” he mumbled to himself.
The veteran pilot began to push his fighter into a roll to the right side in order to bait the fighter into attacking his now vulnerable rear-left side. To Steven’s pleasure, as soon as he started into the maneuver one of the enemy fighters rushed his flank. Just as the enemy fighter got within firing distance Steven revealed his feint by jettisoning flak right in to the face of his pursuer. Steven then quickly juked the controls hard to the left, pushing the saber to the limits of maneuverability and himself to his own limits of physical endurance. He was pushed back hard into his seat as his high-G turn reached its peak, and he felt short of breath as his lungs compressed under their own weight. Similar G-forces would have killed a 20th century pilot, but Steven found himself thankful for his improved constitution and his ability to withstand extreme forces without passing out.
The whole maneuver took less than three seconds from start to finish, and Steven was now in position on his prey’s rear flank while the lizard was still passing through the flak cloud. He checked his vectors in his mind to double check that the flak had been accounted for in the targeting system before opening fire. Steven fired away on the enemy, but it began to evade him before he could finish it off.
“Damn, these things are stronger than their other fighters,” Steven thought as he began to chase his prey. Just as he was about fire again his Saber took a hit from the left side. Steven growled as he confirmed that his second pursuer was the culprit. “You will get your turn soon enough, now back off!” He then pushed his Saber in to a barrel roll and fired a missile cluster after the enemy he was following. He confirmed a direct hit before breaking off to engage his new target.
“This is taking too long,” he mumbled as he tried to get away from the enemy ship that was hot on his tail. His options on how to do this were limited however as he didn’t have a lot of wiggle room between the ship’s main guns and its mounted turret. He cocked his eyebrow as an idea came to him. He cycled his weapons and dropped two of his cluster missiles without igniting them so that they would fall behind him.
Mere moments after he dropped the clusters he got a notice indicating that the missiles had successfully detonated on target, but as he looped back around he was mildly disappointed to see that they had only crippled the ship. “At least it did something,” he thought as he finished of the enemy.
With a chance to finally catch his breath he set about finding his squadrons again. He winced as he saw how much his pilots had drifted apart, and his scimitar reinforcements had all but vanished. “Green Leader to all Saber pilots, we are separating far too much and we drifting too far off course. Try and reconvene on my position ASAP,” Steven said calmly as he tried to save the deteriorating situation. “I have dispatched mine, and will be pulling around to lend assistance.”
Steven surveyed the dogfight to see who needed a hand. He then set his sights on an enemy and shot off once more. He came in from above and swooped down on one rex and one of the new fighters that were terrorizing Green Ten. He unleashed a volley of cluster missiles and gauss rounds on the exposed flanks of his prey. Steven grinned menacingly as fire and shrapnel erupted from the bodies of his targets.
“Gracias, much appreciated Green Lead,” Green Ten said.
“Go help out Green Nine now,” Steven responded. “We need our formation back, so let’s see if we can get a waterfall effect going to take out these enemies.”
Steven and Pablo parted ways to try and liberate more allies, so once more Steven shot off. He began an approach towards Red Nine. “Green Lead to Red Nine, I am approaching high on you nine. Make a hard left and I can broadside those fighters."
“Roger that Green Leader, pulling left now,” Red Nine responded. As Red Nine turned, his pursuers followed suit. Steven threw fire down upon the transgressors. He took out two of the three then flew his Saber into a role around the third so that his cockpit canopy was within feet of the enemy’s. In the brief moment he was there, Steven flashed the drathonian salute that many would say resembled a feathered animal downing a summersault before grabbing the controls again and pulling away. Steven didn’t know if the enemy fighter pilot saw him or if it was just mad that he had been caught off guard, but the remaining enemy fight whipped sharply around to pursue him. Steven was content to give himself a mental pat on the back and fly straight, for as the enemy moved in on his apparent blind spot Red Nine was coming back around. Red Nine opened fire on the remaining enemy and finished it off. Without anything further the two parted ways to go help others.
“Hmm, this is actually working,” he thought to himself. Before long Steven was alerted to three fighters trying to get a missile lock on him. “Looks like they are catching on to me,” he said as he began evasive maneuvers to try and overtake the incoming enemies.
Steven was able to evade the missile lock, but unfortunately for him, he now had more enemies on his tail and he was stuck in a similar position to where was before. With two enemies on his six, and one on his three trying to get him with its mounted turret, Steven was effectively back on the defensive. The new enemies we on his tail and he could not shake them, and the backup fighter to his right was limiting his options.
“Somebody told me we had a Pay It Forward thing goin’ on here,” said a voice over Steven’s comm. A moment later the backup fighter erupted into flames; the two behind him did as well. As Steven peered around he saw Green Two, Green Seven, and Red Seven flying in high.
“Much appreciated Fred,” Steven said.
“Don’t mention it,” Fred replied.
Without anything further, the pilots went back to helping out the other Sabers.

Sean watched the holograms wearily. It had reached the point in the battle where Sean needed to take a step back and watch to see how the battle played out. Every now and then he would go in and cycle ships. “Loses are at acceptable levels, progress is remaining steady. Between my strategies and Evelyn’s insight, everything checks out,” He thought to himself.
He glanced over towards Evelyn as she relayed the news. When he heard the status of Operation Tunguska, he smiled inwardly, otherwise his appearance was pensive and stern as his eyes became cold and distant. Sean looked back at the holographic battlefield, marking positions, and calculating in Tunguska’s location. After a while of looking at the display Sean raised his arm.
“Launch Operation Tunguska on my mark,” Sean said calmly. More time past as Sean stared at the continuously evolving battle. Suddenly Sean cocked his eyebrow and swung his arm down like a sword.
“Activate Operation Tunguska!”


That first Rex ran face first into the fire and died. Still, John was not amused, as he was quickly set upon by roughly 18 or so Scourges. A squadron. If it was just a few fancier fighters like the Rex series, hell, even that new one, he wouldn't mind so much. In fact, he would even have some fun from the challenge; bar luck, they wouldn't be able to kill a Saber and a good pilot. The nameless Saber jetted away while darting about like a squid on cocaine. Its erratic moves threw off their aim, save for a few random bolts. When the expanding range between them just started to deteriorate their poor accuracy further, the chase was turned upside down as he flipped the Saber about and rushed at them, veering off to the side in a series of zigzags. The various cannons on his ship rapidly depleted the shields on a Scourge, but by then, he flew by, the group behind him once more and chasing.

"Ah, here it is." a single command put a marker on the fighter he fired at last on the HUD. The Saber flew off again, dodging, and then came back, this time finishing off the Scourge. It was boring work, killing Scourges this way, but it was safe, and he made sure each pass still made progress on meeting up with the rest of the group. So long as nobody interfered, he'd have his way with them.

"3 down. More to go." He gritted his teeth. Somewhat boring, time consuming, but safe. The exciting things were saved for the important ones, epic showdowns, and such.

Despite the first few successes of the groupof fighters, the enemy pressed on, seemingly unperturbed by the prowess of these new Terran fighters, and using their normal tactic. Swarm. Where there had been two enemeis were now four, three enemies replaced by six, and so on. Steven's call to action had managed to get about half of the fighters back toward him, and they began flying in a much more defensive posture, though they were still being picked at and the enemy fighters were doing their best to draw people off from it. Steven himself was set upon by double the number of turreted fighters as before, as were fred, and each of the other fighters in the little ball was attacked from various angles by other fighters, continuing to frustrate Steven as they did so.

Steven's enemies made the first move: The turrets began spraying fire in cones, herding Steven where the pilots wanted them to be, while they began firing their main laser weapons at him.

******

The Damaged enemy snapped around, its shields jumping back to life rather more quickly than Drathonian shields were thought capable of, and the thing turned on him, blazing away recklessly. It turned out, however, that this was simply a distraction, as the lead wing pair of red squadron was set upon by more of the same fighters from either side.

******

The fighter in front wasn't useless however, and served as more than bait- that turret snapped around and began firing at Dilshot, while the ship's partner fired at the Red pilot from behind- the sandwich, it seemed, had quite a bit of spice to it.

******

"I'll try..." Green four muttered thrugh gritted teeth, as she tucked her fighter into another glut of dizzying manuevers. The young pilot boosted forward at one of her enemies, whom became taken by surprise and was the first to fall to her guns this battle. The other five followed, obviously angered by this fact, but Emma had kept her momentum- the direction hadn't been chosen at random- and flipped her fighter backwards, scooting in Arcadia's direction, as she jigged and jinked to avoid the incoming fire, popping off fire of her own to keep them from becoming too comfortable with their position.

Arcadia's foes, had gone into some hopscotch defensive-offensive posture, the rex hiding behind the Scourge's heavy shields, popping out to fire a few shots at the Green pilot, but, for all the play, it was very easy and predictable for Pilot Langdon- she had it fairly easy so far this battle.

******

Very boring, and very predictable is what Johnathan got himself into. The Scourge pilots were not novices, and new their fighters, and also quickly learned their target's pattern. Leading, even with Flandre's prodigious speed, was possible, and laser fire began blossoming all over his shields, a warning sounding informing him that it would go out unless he did something- nearly 75% of his shield grid panels were at 50% or less.

*******

"Acknowledged." Evelyn answered, and, about a 45 light-seconds away, Sensors suddenly registered the activation of a number of large starship shields. Travelling at .9c, they would hit in approximately one minute.

This had two effects- first, The station defenses went crazy, and began reorienting themselves to deal with the threat, firing wildly in an attempt to stave off what appeared to be another fleet of ships hurtling at them at high speeds, and, secondly, it caused a number of the reinforcements to divert course, heading for the new targets, their attention now split. Third, a large number of the fighters broke off, shooting away into open space to make micro-FTL jumps closer to these new 'ships'. Finally, this now diverted attention suddenly eased the pressure on the attackers, and the Scimitar Screens became that much more effective- although they were not able to get at those locked in combat with the Saber squadron, they were now able to prevent more enemies from getting into range.

What the Drathonians would discover, were Asteroids. About thirty five, each at least a kilometer in length, with a number of power sources and shield generators planted all over their surfaces, inside craters, cracks, crevices, what have you. They were, effectively, enormous Kinetic projectiles, which were covered in shields, allowing them to cancel out the Station defenses, allowing for direct hits. The Drathonian fighters swarmed like angry bees, trying to find as many of the power generators and shield units they could and destroy them.

Arcadia was on the run for the most part, luring her enemies into some degree of comfort. Then she crossed paths with Emma and unleashed a storm of lasers and missiles upon Green Four's assailants. As soon as her missiles were away, pilot Langdon cut down and looped to face those that had been following her and delivered another seizure-inducing attack before breaking away in Emma's direction.

Ruze smirked wryly, feeling as though the cosmic powers that be had delivered a sharp retort to his sandwich joke. It was hard to find a come-back to that one. He began a corkscrew pattern, firing his lasers occasionally to add to the confusion, but the core of his plan was to deploy missiles periodically, and from all angles. Six was the most he was willing to spare, though, and once those were sent, he cut the crap and dove right in, lasers blazing. This turreted space-devil simply had to go.

Johnathan grunted. Which, in this situation, actually meant the same as a sigh, namely for a few reasons, all fixated on the fact that the Draths wouldn't just simply die so he could get back to base and watch the new episodes he recorded. Because they wouldn't just die like a crowd of noobz, it meant the battle would last longer, and he would have to work harder. These were exactly his sentiments, summed up and neatly put into comprehensive words; in actuality, the thoughts were loosely constructed of feelings, as there was no time to properly use grammar, considering his fighter had rotated ninety degrees and shot off at a right angle in a literal blink, the skin on his face pulled back taught with the g-forces.

Though the enemy was now properly fixing their cannons on him, they forgot to do something else. It was the same exact problem if a whole bunch of kids in a space fighter simulation were all aiming and flying full throttle at a single target. They were bunching up dangerously close and getting tunnel vision. Johnathan's nameless Saber cut back, zigged, zagged, and finally slid right under the 'formation' in hopes that some of them were stupid enough to keep pitching the nose of their fighters after him, running into each other in the process. Veterans or not, there were always FNG's, himself a prime example.

Regardless of the result, as his fighter slid under the group, Johnathan angled the nose up at the nearest fighter and let off a burst of missiles and cannon fire before lancing right into the group to partially hide in their own numbers. The Saber started juking to and fro in order to cause chaos when they would instinctively continue to try and turn to attack him, all the while hunting down those he weakened in his prior passes.

Johnathan absolutely knew that there were some veterans in here, and they were the ones smart enough to break contact and draw back to make a proper pass. Those were going to be top on his hit list.


Steven ground his teeth as his shields began taken several direct hits and he tried desperately to evade the enemy in the limited window of space he was given. “Heh, I was wondering when they would catch on. A bit sooner than I woulda liked, though,” he said to himself as he tried to find an opening in the wall of fire that was beginning to close in on him.
His options however were more limited than his maneuverability at the moment as the group of elite fighters was leading Steven right to where they want him. He would have to think of something quick if he wanted to get out of this intact.
Up ahead he noticed a piece of debris drifting along that he could use as cover long enough to break away. “These guys aren’t new; they would be expecting me to try something with that, but I gotta do something,” he mumbled as he ran through his depleting options.
“Well, Mother watch over me,” Steven said quietly to himself as he began the countdown to action. The instant his fighter drew close to the debris he pushed hard on the controls and shot his Saber in to a quick roll towards the debris, but at the last second he tucked the Saber into another split second roll and shot straight down in an attempt to pull another feint and get around behind the enemy fighters.

“Now! Push forward and press the attack while they are vulnerable. Lay down heavy fire on the cruisers and battleships still focused on us. Adjust speed to seventy-five percent full, and adjust headings to X(597.162) Y(816.332) Z(-245.129),” Sean announced quickly as several openings were presented on his holodisplay, “Now would also be a good time to use the Solaris, Admiral Evelyn. I leave that to up to you.”
He now refocused himself on his displays and went about directing the bulk of the Hymn battle group to press the offensive on the enemy weakened front. He found himself for a moment wishing that he had complete control over each of the battle groups, but he quelled this thought as the other Admirals proved quite capable of following leads.

Ira kept in line as he watched pilot after pilot get their ship destroyed around them... They were like bait... Fucking bait. He was pissed, this whole idea was stupid, he was suppose to just keep the guys behind him safe while they waited for him to get shot out of the sky? The kid wanted to go out with a bang if he had to go out at all, and he didn't want to go out. To his right was Magenta 1... He was holding ground just as the rest of them were, sure it was a loosing battle but the leader of his squadron was a guy Ira had always looked up to and he would continue to try and do his best for the guy.

It was only two minutes after this thought passed though his brain that an enemy ship literally plowed right though Magenta 1... Yeah they shot at it, but it shot back and the thing had come out of no where. Ira shouted profanity and watched the pile of debris drift apart not to far away. He felt his eyes well up with tears and hated himself for caring. That man had been a friend of him though and no matter what he would never forget what he tried to do for them all by being bait...

"Magenta 1 is down... I'm still here though. Everybody else good?"

The kid couldn't help but sniffle, the lights in his ship twinkled and illuminated the tears streaking his cheeks. But he didn't want anyone to know he was upset.

"Stay in formation, We want a tight pattern... Remember, Tight."

Ira was taking the lead, he was going to have to... No one else in his squadron had any balls, at least not by his standards. They were all weaklings, a last resort team. None good enough to get on green or even blue. They were the newbies, the kids, but they had heart. What experience they didn't have they made up for in pure will. Unfortunately, Will didn't bring back Magenta 1... and Ira didn't know what he was talking about. It wasn't long before Magenta 3 was also out of the picture and it was only Ira and Magenta four left in the squadron....

"Magenta four... Sorry... A-Are you still good?"

For a long while there was no reply then he head his teammate reply, the man sounded as upset was Ira was he said he was fine and that they just had to keep up. Ira's sight was blurred and he doubled checked that his mic was off before letting out a sob.

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Kokuten
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Re: Chapter 10: The Gridiron

Post by Kokuten » Mon Jan 17, 2011 10:54 am

-

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Kai
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Re: Chapter 10: The Gridiron

Post by Kai » Wed Feb 02, 2011 1:26 am

"Sir!" Evelyn suddenly shouted to Sean, pointing to one of the Asteroids from operation Tunguska. "Do you see the path of object A-7? It's headed straight for the main sheild generator of the station. This wasn't accounted for in our original planning. But, it seems the Drathonians have noticed as well. We need to defend it!"

"Understood," Sean replied. He at once began shifting several of the fleets ships to compensate for a new course. "Now, for the squadrons." Expanding the holodisplay, he centered in on the smaller individual fighter crafts. He mass selected all of the Sabers as well as a large portion of scimitars to provide support.

Quickly, Sean's orders were issued to a Comm officer, who then went about notifying each of the squadrons selected simultaneously. The Squadron leaders each got a high priority comms package that told them the coordinates of Object A-7, and gave them orders to defend it until it was within range of the station's shields, before getting out of the way. The Green and Red squadrons from Endeavor and Kosmos II immediately reacted to their orders, as did the portion of the Hymn's Scimitar fighters.

Steven quickly went over the new coordinates and punched them in. "Alright everyone, form up on me, we are diverting to go cover those asteroids," he said relaying the news to the Sabers.

Siberia checked the orders from Steven and those from command before forming up behind the Green Leader. "We got our orders boys, pull in tight and we'll finish this whole thing up quickly." The Red Leader allowed himself a small smile. "We don't want the lizards firing off the canon before we pulverize it; so GET A MOVE ON."
As the squadron formed up behind him, Siberia checked his holoscreen for all of his pilot's tags. Albania was out of place. Jan grunted and then opened a channel to the pilot. "Get into formation, now."
Reluctantly Albania finished off one last enemy fighter before sliding his own ship in next to Hungary's saber.

As the enemies behind the young pilot Emma were diverted by Pilot Langdon's missiles, they received their new orders, and Emma took effort to not get distracted. "Ma'am, We should go before we are outnumbered, the Captain told us to form up again!"

Arcadia couldn't agree more. "Right behind you, Green Four!" She put full power to her engines, making for the new objective quick as she could. "On our way, Captain."

Ruze likewise was breaking free of his prior engagement to go aid his squadmates with defense of the asteroid- A-7 it was marked. "Roger, Siberia. On my way."

"Heyyyy~. That makes our job a lot easier!" Johnathan practically sang. The Big F*ing Rock (BFR for short) was on a set course to wreck the shield generator, and the Drathonians just happened to be stupid enough not to make sure the local space was clear. The FNG gunned his Saber and let loose a few missiles, flying through the debris and partially obscuring his escape route out of the viscous dogfight.

"Flandre, en route to rendezvous point."

"AWRIGHT', TEAL SQUADRON." bellowed the boisterous commander of Teal Squadron, Kanon Fodier. "We'z gonna' rock it ova to them asteroid's, Waypoint A-7, boys!" Fodier fired his thrusters, leading the odd-colored squadron towards the united defense point. Of course, like a real leader, he led from two hundred meters in front.

Two hundred meters behind the Teal Squadron leader, flew Hetzer Johannes Thalberg, nick-named Santa by his unit leader. It had been only Hetzer's fourth sortie, and he had been transfered two times between those. The young german-born man hoped to the almighty in the distant stars that Fodier wouldn't chalk up another transfer for him. While most others of Teal Squadron murmured their discontent for the disorganized fashion in which Kanon commanded, Hetzer remained respectfully quiet, the stars of the galaxy running up the length of his visor.

As the groups of fighters suddenly broke off, the defending Drathonian starfighters were at a loss, the sudden vacuum of departing craft making the confusion even worse than before, and not a few Drathonian ships were destroyed or damaged by friendly fire. A few attempted to pursue, but most were simply too sluggish to respond, and many that were fast enough got sidetracked by either defensive fire, fire to multitude of ships, or caught in the net of remaining Scimitar fighters. After a horrifyingly brief jaunt through a patch of calm space, the squadrons were set upon again, though this time not as heavily,as just as many fighters were trying to destroy the asteroid as were trying to protect the destroyers.

"Okay, Greens Seven through Twelve, and Reds Nine through Twelve, fall back on our tail and intercept incoming fighters," Steven said into the comm as he reevaluated the evolving battle. "Everyone else, continue on my six and intercept if fired at. I leave that to your own discretion."
As Steven continued to scan the battle as he and the rest of the Sabers jetted towards A7, he spotted a few more Scimitar squadrons he could use. "Teal squadron, Ochre Squadron, Pink Squadron, this is Green Leader, your new directive is to provide assistance to my Saber squadrons. Get on an intercept course with my squadron ASAP. Green Lead out," Steven ordered the other squadrons.
"Stay alert everyone, we have enemies inbound," Steven announced quickly as he readied himself for more combat.

Hungary pulled away from the group Albania not far behind him. The little pilot was already grumbling under his breath about how as soon as he got into formation he was ordered out of it again.

Germany and Romania quickly met up with the other two Red Squadron members. Before they could meet up with the Green pilots the enemy fighters had already begun their attack. This first group only had eight fighters and they attempted to meet the saber's one-on-one with the other four trying to slip through.

Hungary took control of his small group of pilots. "Don't let any of them through, that should be enough of an order for us, right?" With a smile he plunged into combat with the first enemy fighter.

Siberia and the rest of Red Squadron continued to follow up behind Green Squadron. The Red Lead open up his com channel as Steven warned of incoming enemies. "Let's keep this smooth, our main objective is still to reach and defend the asteroid, cut through your targets and make sure the other squadrons are within view."

Arcadia was hot on Steven's trail, ready to do her fair share of lizard-burning. But of course, she couldn't just fly around awhile and look pretty- Pilot Langdon briefly figured Emma and herself could easily make great candidates for that job- no, she had to go fight. Very well, then. "Green Four, on our tail, we've got three..." she paused, cutting her engines and spinning the ship to face them for verification. "...Rexes." This sentence was briefly punctuated by laser fire before the communication line went silent again. After making her volley, Langdon spun to face "forward" once more and proceed straight into an Immelman turn.

Ruze came upon A-7, and likewise spotted the trio of Drathonian craft. He harried them with a quartet of missiles and his own laser guns, making sure to keep them too busy dodging him to go on the offensive.

As Johnathan broke contact, the Scimitars screened him from the persuing Drathonian craft. The following explosion behind the Saber silhouetted the Terran Fighter as he accelerated towards A-7. "Green Five to Green Three, copy that. Engaging hostiles on your tail." The nameless Saber's cannons strobed and cut through space as he did his best to mop up what Ruze had started.

"Don't call me a kill-stealer Red 3, just making sure it's a clean kill." The new pilot joked at the Red Squadron regular.

"OKIE DOKIE BOYS, GET UP IN THAR' 'N TRY NOT TO SNIFF THEM GREEN POOTERS." Kanon boomed to his squadron, before making a harsh maneuver with his Scimitar, almost causing one of the girls in Teal to run into him as he made a break-neck turn. Clearly, Kanon wasn't listening too well to Steven when he said, 'stay alert'. The young lady began to curse wildly, throwing two middle fingers up in the air when she fell back into formation.

That's the third time he's managed to nearly kill Betty today. Hetzer thought to himself, falling into formation with the rest with the dissatisfied pilots of Teal Squadron. It's no wonder we've been called Douche Squadron from time to time... Or is that because our capacity of females? Thalberg thought on this for a minute, before deciding it wasn't exactly the right time to be thinking why his squad had earned such a name.

Emma followed along with Arcadia's orders, but let the older pilot take direct action, choosing instead to fire a number of missiles at the targets to at least distract them as she dove toward the asteroid, trying to target one of the distracted ships that was attempting to destroy one of the shield generators. "Captain Kerning, theres so many shield generators, we might have to split up to defend them all!"

The Captain bit his lower lip as he mulled over how to approach the task at hand. Emma's suggestion was one of a couple possibilities he had been thinking of, and at the moment it was the best way to proceed. "Saber squadrons, split into your wingmen pairs and proceed to the areas I am providing," he said as he sent new coordinates the the individual pairs of fighters. "Auxiliary Scimitar squadrons are to reinforce the Saber pairs. Watch each others backs out their everyone. I don't want any casualties. Now get to work."

As Steven got to work issuing orders, he was sent a list of the minimum number of Shield generators needed in order to allow the Asteroid to penetrate the station's shields and hit the main emitter.

Siberia checked his holomap to see what kind of situation Hungary had gotten himself into, so far the small detachment of Red Squadron pilots seemed to be doing fine and none of the enemy from the first wave had managed to slip past the sabers.

Splitting off with Poland as he received the order to go protect a shield generator the Red Leader relayed the orders to his own men. "Spread out boys, I'm sending you all the coordinates Captain Kerning has been sending out, most of his squad is already in position so hop to it!"

As Jan finished speaking he and his wingman slid into place before one of the generators. They and the rest of his squad remained idle, watching as the swarm of enemy fighters pushed closer and closer towards the asteroid.

Arcadia shot down a second Rex before receiving the freshest batch of orders. With a curt, "Sir," she was headed to her new destination, prior combat already in the past. "Stay close, Emma, I can only imagine things are going to get more heated from here."

Ruze made no comment until he'd incinerated the last of the trio of assailants, this time with the assistance of his wingman. Then he told Jonathan, "Get the job done, and nobody gives a damn who kills what, Private. Now let's get to work." Though the words were serious enough, there was a lax smile in Dilshod's voice; the Pilot was clearly not bothered by the series of events in the slightest. He veered away, tracing the curvature of A-7 at great speed to locate his objective, Ukraine not far behind.

"Huh. Someone's gotta get that stick out of his ass." Johnathan muttered to himself; smiles weren't exactly broadcast over the voice-only channels. For what had to be the first time in the battle, a jolt of fear ran down his spine; he checked to make sure that wasn't broadcast. It wasn't. He let out a sigh of relief and laughed out loud before contacting his wingman. "Green Six, this is Green Five, falling into formation and following your lead."

"Copy that, proceed on attack run." At that, the two Sabers advanced with the rest of the group towards the sheild generators. "Make sure to stay behind me. You're shields are still a little low."

"SOOOOOOOOO WEE. D'EEZ ACES SHORE NEED OUR HELP, BOYS." hollered Fodier, his scimitar doing a 180, and then righting itself the other way clumsily, before leading the squadron towards their prime objective.

"Sir, I'd hate to speak out of tur--..." started Hetzer.

"BOY YOU ALWAYS MAKIN' ME BON SWIDE." roared back Kanon, confusing Hetzer just slightly at what the strange commander had just said.

"I'm the only other male in this squadron, why do you refer as bo--..." asked the bearded pilot.

"'CAUSE DEY AIN'T GOT 'NUFF TRUNK IN THAT SHUNK T'BE WIMMENZ T'ME, BOY. NOW CUT THA' CHATTA' FO' YOU MAKE ME BON SWIDE." barked Kanon, as he pressed on. At the very least, the rest of Teal Squadron giggled at Hetzer trying to make his case to the unreasonable commander. Though some, less physically prominent women in the squadron only settled into angry whimpers.

At each of the objectives, the pilots would find their targets pitifully distracted, trying to take down the shielding rather than shooting at the fighters. Hugging close to A-7, the Terran fighters were afforded the Asteroid's shielding, and AA fire from corvettes and ships, and even some of the further off fighters, was completely ablated before it could hit the Sabers and Scimitars.

It was almost comical- their enemies were sitting ducks and had almost no cover. the few ships that did break off were quickly outnumbered by the Sabers that had arrived along with their older counterparts.

"Not a problem, Ma'am." Emma responded to Arcadia, hugging both her Wingmate's thruster wash and the asteroid. Her fighter protested being so close to both sources of disturbance, but the young pilot kept it in line, and they swiftly came upon their target- one of the shield generators.

“Finally we catch a break,” Steven thought as the situation for once didn’t seem too stacked against him and his pilots. “Fred, let’s have some fun with this part. Just be careful not to get complacent. Don’t need one of the bastards sneaking up on us.”

“Yeah, tha’ would be a good way to ruin a good day,” Fred chimed as a response. “Am I the only one who is slightly confused by this asteroid tactic though? Don’ get me wrong, it seems to be damned effective, but it seems kind of extreme.”

“If it means less of our pilots die out here, then I couldn’t care less about the extremes,” Steven said in a distracted tone as he watched a Drathonian fighter lose track of its position and collide with A-7. “We can talk about philosophies once we get back to the Hymn, but for now let’s focus on the task at hand.”

“If ya say so, Captain,” Fred mumbled. “Speaking of task at hand, we have one of the new buggers climbing up our six.”

“Alright, dropping back to engage. Fred, watch my flank,” Steven said, pulling back on the controls.

While the main section of the two squadron had plenty of time to chit-chat, the reserve group that had acted as a guard while everyone else got in position around the asteroid was not so lucky. They were managing to create quite an effective shield, but that was the main source of their ill luck due to the sheer amount of enemy fighters swarming towards them.

Hungary gritted his teeth and wished he hadn't ended up in command somehow, despite his wishes though he flipped on his com-link and shot orders about, "Albania, tend to that group on your tail! You two, number boys -" The large pilot quickly racked his memory for Steven's orders, "Green nine and ten, you got a group of five coming in from behind! Seven, Twelve, where's your wingmen?"

Most of the questions the pilot barely had time to receive answers for and a few didn't get any as the Drathies tried their best to smear all of them. It was too bad for them that that Istvan fellow had did wonders when he made the new Sabers, not even the new craft the lizards were throwing out could do much in a straight up fight.

And god, do they maneuver like a dream. Hungary thought as he executed a sharp turn and turned another one of the enemy fighters into scrap.

Sadly, despite all efforts from the reserve group, the Drathonians did have a huge amounts of fighters, slowly one or two groups made it through. Hungary cursed as he watched his radar and continued a large group, most likely no less than fifty or so fighters completely ignored his group and flashed on through.

"Boss." The big man spoke over a line to Siberia. "Better let the rest of the boys and those green fellows know that we got hell breakin' through over here!"

"BOYS YOU GWON' LET 'DEM HOITY TOITY FLY BABIES SHOW UP US. WE'Z TEAL SQUADRON." boomed Kanon over the radio, causing every single member of his unit to cringe under the volume. The girls all began to grumble angrily at the incessant barking of their bull-dog of a commander, yet Hetzer remained somewhat quiet, for the moment.

"Sir, I'm fairly sure they're doing better since they're more established, and also better equi--" started Hetzer, trying to reason with the unreasonable.

"BOY, WHAD' I TELL YOU 'BOUT TALKIN' YO' NONSENSE!?" growled Fodier, maneavuering a little off course, instead of sticking to the support of the squadrons.

"It makes you... bon... swide?" said Hetzer unsuredly, the girls began to giggle past their angered grumblings again, even as they tore through some of the Drathonian ships attacking their protectorate squadron. Hetzer himself stuck particularly to a specific fighter, watching it's movements and ensuring it did not get spaced.

"BOY! YOU USE ONE'A MY WORDS 'GAIN, AND I'MMA GOOGLE YO' BUTTHOLE!" threatened the mighty Kanon Fodier, putting some strange fate onto Hetzer should he continue his incessant ramblings of absolute reason.

"Y-yes sir." replied Hetzer sheepishly, as he braked a little, slowing his fighter as he saw a Drathonian fighter incoming. The pilot let loose his guns to ward off the scaly perpetrator and forced the enemy fighter to draw off. He opened a link to Betty, one of his newest personal friends in the squadron, "How in the world do you deal with this?"

"Was kinda' 'nnoyin' at first." answered Betty, "But then he started yellin' at you all the time. So, it's kinda' funny now. Sometimes."

Hetzer sighed.

The attacks were brutal and effective, distracted fighters either being destroyed or, more commonly, diverting into the asteroid itself and destroying themselves. Green and Red squadron's work seemed to be doing well enough, and the shields remained up on A-7, the station looming closer and closer as the enormous asteroid continued its high fraction sublight course towards Dracharia Letima.

The other four saber squadrons, as well, had reached the object and were protecting other targets, but a wing pair made their way towards Steven and Fred. "Green lead this is green lead," a woman's voice called over the comms. It was Rhiannon Bell, and her wingmate.

"We're here to give you assistance, seems we've been temporarily placed under your command. Congratulations, Captain Kerning," she continued, casually, despite the maneuvers her fighter executed in intercepting a number of missiles that had been launched at her from a fighter in the distance. It was obvious that this small corner of the battle was being turned in their favor.

If only they could have seen the carnage still going on in the squall they had just left, fierce fighting continuing as fighters, corvettes, and capital ships alike tore into each other, Drathonian and Terran craft exploding or disintegrating due to damage. Beams of light and streaks of contrails flowed through the battlefield, causing explosions, sometimes on shields, sometimes on hulls.

There were about two minutes before the Asteroids would strike.

Fleet Admiral Sean stood solemnly within his holographic world. As he stood motionless he analyzed each factor of the battle several times over in his head. To those looking in, the elder man looked to almost be in a state of meditation; to Sean however, it was as if there was no world beyond the globe he was standing in, for certainly no other world mattered to him at that moment.
Sean had reached the point in the battle where everything could be lost if he acted too rashly and without caution. His fleet as well as his supporting fleets had taken heavy casualties. If he pushed them too hard by trying to bite off more than the fleet could handle, then they would be destroyed. It was the point in the battle where the commander had to read every slight movement on the battlefield, and try to predict what would come next. If he succeeded, then he would overcome the stalemate and come out on top, and what would happen if he failed never crossed his mind.
“The situation with the asteroids seems to be working in our favor, so if I redirect all primary forces into pushing closer to the Demonix I should be able to get some headway,” Sean thought to himself. He began running over several other options in his head until he found preferred methods for providing the best results.
Sean then broke his meditation and once again started orchestrating his fleet. Due to casualties, he began drawing his fleet into a tighter formation to try and play off of shield overlap. He also increased the rotation rate at which fresh vessels took point. It would have a negative effect on over attack power for the smaller support vessels, but it would give them a chance to recover somewhat before their integrity dropped too low.
“Hymn, change heading to thirty degrees starboard and thirteen degrees low,” Sean announced, breaking his long silence. “Let’s see if we can’t broadside these lizards.”

“How’d that Red guy come to be in charge?” Tom, Green Nine, asked his wingman. “I don’t remember anyone asking if I wanted to be in charge.”
“Cierra la boca e ir con ella,” Pablo, Green Ten, replied.
“I told ya not to use that dead language when we were flying, remember Pab?” Tom growled in annoyance.
“Bastardo,” Pablo growled back.
“Vergessen Sie,” Tom said as he just got back to the matter at hand. “Pablo, let’s take these chumps out.”
“Right with ya buddy,” Pablo agreed as the two pilots suddenly split off and simultaneously rushed their pursuers.

Steven almost laughed a bit when his counterpart announced her arrival. “Good to have you with us Green Lead. It is pretty quiet, relatively speaking,” he commed back to Rhiannon. “Until this pig gets to the barbecue all we need to do is keep the flies off of it. Couple minutes more, then we will be getting back to our main objective. Understood? Til then, it is just basics.”

Siberia listened quietly to Hungary's quick report, the man was speaking fast and paused frequently, things were obviously not going as well as they could of been. Never the less, they all had a job to do.

"Thank you Jek, I'll be sure to pass the news on." The Red Lead's voice was calm and steady. "Keep the rest of them off as best you can." Leaving the Lance-Corporal to deal with his own problems Jan paused for a moment, considering whether or not to contact Steven or his own squad first.

Deciding on Steven the Squadron Leader opened a common line to the Captain, quickly noticing that his fellow officer was already connected to another command line - albeit privately so - Siberia was grateful that the news would be able to get around without much of a hold up.

"Captain Kerning, one of my men in the guard detachment just sent in some news. I hope I'm not interrupting anything but we seem to have quite the force coming in, something along the line of fifty enemy fighters I believe was his estimate. My men and a few of the Scimitar Squadrons can stop them if you believe you have the defense of the primary objective quite in hand."

Siberia flipped the outbound audio to Steven's line before opening one to the rest of the Squadron with him. "Alright boys, Hungary and the rest of our pilots were a little too hard pressed in keeping back only a couple hundred fighters, seems a few slipped by, I've requested permission to engage, so be ready to move on my word, Siberia out."

Now, he simply needed a response.

Hungary banked hard, cursing through clenched teeth as the enemy fighter swooped by him. That last one had been barely a few feet away and had had something of a heavy hand on his trigger, weapons blazing the whole way. But, continuing with his turn, the Saber pilot payed him back for his arrogance, shooting one right up his back side and sending him off to lizard heaven.

The Red Squadron pilot was becoming even more and more a fan of the new Sabers - they were probably, to his mind, the best piece of tech the Terrans had put out since they got in space. Despite that, his fighter was starting to slow a bit, the Armour had pockmarks all over it and a few holes - none of them blasting through anything essential thankfully - and he was coming to the realization that his group would either need to get reinforcements or pull back soon.

"Red, status check!" Hungary was heading towards exhaustion and his orders were getting shorter by the minute. His fellow squadmates all responded, each sounded tired, but it was good to hear that they were still alive. Despite his taking of command not sitting to well with the Green pilots, Jek called for a status check from them too, but whatever answers they gave were washing out in a sudden explosion of combat between him and two Drathonians.

Briefly hoping the check had been positive, Hungary turned off the com-lines and turned his attention to his attackers.

"LOOK OH'DER, BOYS, WE GOTS US SOME SCALY FLIES NEED SUM' SWATTIN'." barked the Teal Commander. In just one moment his fighter turned from supporting the current squadrons to flying into the hornet mass of Drathonian fighters. Hetzer looked up and saw the somewhat eccentric man fly right above his canopy, almost tearing off the top of his fighter. As his sensors picked up on it, he almost barreled straight through Allison, to which was answered by a barrel of angry of curses from the woman.

"Sir! What are you doing!? We've got no confirmation to turn and assault those fi--..." Hetzer yelled back into Communications as the rest of Teal squadron begrudgingly turned to follow their leader.

"LISTEN 'ERE BOY, YOU'Z GUNNA' MAKE BON SWIDE IFFN' YOU KEEP WRENCHIN' MY QUAD'S UP LIKE 'DAT. YOU SPEAK UP ONE MO' 'GAIN, AND I'MMA SWIBBLE YO' BRAIN SO HARD, YO' GRANNY'S GUNNA' FEEL IT UP IN HER WANDAROO." was the string of words that Fodier replied with, to what Hetzer could only assume was another threat. Even so, he couldn't help but protest.

"This is insane! We've got no real suppo-- Wait, we are support! Betty! Say something!" radio'd Hetzer to his fem-friend.

"What tha' hell m'I s'pposed t'say?" shot back Betty, the obvious strain of dreadful anxiety in her voice.

"B-but! This is suicide!" went Hetzer, looking at the approaching foes.

"Yeah... it kinda' sucks." sighed Betty, before she went and asked one more thing, "Hey, iff'n I'm remotely alive when we get back, can I tug your beard again?"

"I don't see how that's even vaguely related to this situation, but yes, you can!" replied Hetzer, staring off into the swarm.

The group of Drathonian fighters were caught off guard by the sudden arrival of a squadron of garishly painted Scimitars, and more than half of them stopped, trying to fight the Fodier and his squadronmates. Several impacted on the Asteroid, causing small craters to form, but it wasn't enough to change the tide of the current battle. Fodier himself was swarmed by at least five of the fighters, Rexes and the new conflagration, while the majority of the ones that ignored the group were Scourge fighters.

The rest made their way into the fray, splitting off and taking on targets of their own. The Saber Squadrons were also attacked, forcing them to break off from their duck hunts closer to the surface and engage in real combat, though the Asteroid made dogfighting difficult for both sides, and the majority of munitions being pumped out were missiles.

Rhiannon jumped on the first of the fighters to come towards her and Steven's wing-pairs, her Saber quickly bringing down the enemy, showing her much greater experience with the Saber- as good as it was in the hands of Red and Green Squadron, Rhiannon's flying made them seem like children in comparison.

"Yes Sir!" the pilot of the Hymn replied, following Sean's commands to a T. Evelyn, like Sean, watched the battle, observing the decisions Sean made and how effective they were. briefly, the Android stood up, moving closer to the old Admiral, and observing his emotions as best she could. He was very high strung, and she could see the battle wearing on him. "Sir. perhaps you should take a break?" she suggested.

'Can't fly around the asteroid like it's the surface of a planet; I'll get jumped from above.' Johnathan thought. The new Green pilot was being chased by a pair of enemy fighters, and was having his fighter jerk about to toss their aim. Despite this though, he still opened fire as an opportunity came to him when other friendly fighters went by his line of sight with bogeys on their six. The Saber flipped and 'dived' below the two fighters, letting off cannon rounds and missiles at one. Momentum still carried him alongside the asteroid, his fighter seemingly strafing about to doge incoming fire.

“A break? We are just getting to the good part,” Sean replied to Evelyn. He did use the sudden break in concentration as a moment to take some deep, steadying breaths. “I appreciate the concern, but I will be fine. I don’t like leaving my work half finished.” It was at this time that he collapsed the holographic globe from down to a small two foot diameter sphere, and let it float in front of him. It was a compromise of sorts, as Sean was still able to direct the fleet while at the same time allowing his mind to rest a bit.

Steven made an exaggerated frown as he watched Rhiannon make light work of the opposing fighters. ”I remember back when the guy was supposed to protect the girl, not the other way around,” he thought to himself. His thought were cut short by Siberia’s message, and the Captain snapped back to the matter at hand.

“Understood, Red Lead. Go lend the others a hand. With more Sabers here, we should be fine,” Steven responded promptly. “Hey Fred, let’s give the girls a hand. Can’t let them take all of the kills.”

With that, Steven dropped back and began to follow a course that took him close to the surface of the asteroid. It was his intentions to pull around and take out preoccupied fighters, or in other words he and Fred were pulling vulture duty.

“Green Two falling back. We have a couple of fighters pulling in close. Got my back?” Fred asked sounding slightly amused for some reason.

“Yeah, just a…” Steven paused as he let loose a salvo of micromissiles, waited a few moments for impact, and then picked up where he left off. “Nevermind.” Yeah, I got your back.”

Steven and Fred split off and were quickly pursued by the enemy fighters. Due to the proximity to the asteroid, the pilots were restricted in what they could perform successfully, so Steven thought of something fun to do.

“Hey, Arcadia, Emma? Ya busy?” he commed his subordinates. “Fred and I are being pursued by three enemy fighters. We are approaching your vector and you two would be able to hit their flank. We will be at your position in T-minus thirty seconds.”

Siberia signaled his men and then piloted his Saber towards the enemy fighters. A squadron of scimitars had already made the first move - well part of the squadron has made the first move, the other stood back most likely staring dumbly at the portion that had charged.

Finding the friendly scimitars squadron on the holomap, Jan opened a com-link to Teal Squadron. The Red Leader was unpleasantly surprised when as soon as he opened the channel he was blasted with a string of constant yelling from a man whose vocabulary seemed to only include profanity and nonsense. His frown deepened further as he identified the speaker as the Squadron Leader. Making a quick decision, Siberia simply cut Fodier from his link before speaking.

"This is Red Lead from the Battle Hymn, Teal Squadron those of you have not engaged the enemy me and my boys are about to pass you, as we do I want you to follow us, attach yourselves where you think you'll work best and me and mine will adapt to it." Gunning past Hetzer's Scimitar, Siberia was still noticeably unhappy about the way Fodier was conducting his squadron and his voice belayed that, remaining cold as he spoke. "Now, if one of you would be so kind to inform your Teal leader that help has arrived we might get out of this without him shooting a friendly."

Hungary pulled back even farther, the three other Red pilots following with him, they were no longer operating as two seperating wings, but all four of them fighting the Drathonians as they came.

"Has anyone reestablished a visual with the Green Squadron pilots?" Hungary wasn't sure if the men from Steven's squad were still alive, He opened up a broadcasting call on his coms again. "Green Seven, eig - Greens Seven through Twelve, this is Lance-Corporal Jek Ambrus from Red, do we have contact?"

The Red Group dodged another wave of incoming fire, blasting two of their attacks into slag in the process, they attemtped their best to maintain positions waiting for an answer from the Green pilots before pulling out.

But as the Drathonians charged again, Hungary and his squadmates pulled back even farther.

"Sir!" Came Arcadia's response. She was sounding lively, the heat of battle, keeping her fiery. The tide of battle she could feel shifting in the Terrans' favor too, and was a confidence builder. "Emma, the usual. Take point, I'll mop 'em up."

Ruze was gritting his teeth, intent on the combat at hand. To say the fighting had been grueling would be a fair statement, he supposed, and it was apparent in the sweat pouring down his cheeks and neck. "Breaking off to aid in the clean up, sir," he said in a rather flat tone- quite unlike his typical demeanor. He was gunning it full throttle to catch up to the horde that had broken the line, gently bobbing and weaving and hurling missiles their way to keep them on their toes.

"Roger that, sir, falling in." replied Hetzer to Jan as his fighter lined up next to Siberia's, taking the nearest one he could. He opened a link to the rest of the Squadron, muting Fodier temporarily while the ragin' cajun'(BO YOU GON' MAKE ME BON SWIDE) yelled unintelligible battle-cries as he stormed into the fury of battle. "So, who wants to coerce Fodier out of dying?" asked Hetzer, not wanting the responsibility.

"Iss' usually pretty funneh' when you talk to'm." replied Betty.

"You're the only one he ever listens to!" said Allison.

"I'm not going to do it, I don't want to do it!" went Sheilah.

"Hetzer Hetzer Hetzer Hetzer Hetzer Hetzer Hetzer!" chanted Miyuki.

"Hetzer, wir glauben an dich! Nicht vermasseln!" barked Elfriede.

Damn it... growled Hetzer as he went into the fray with Red Squadron, providing supporting fire. Each of the girls in Teal, the ones who hadn't fallen victim to Fodier's renegade tactics, had also paired off with a Red Flyer.

"Sir!" yelled Hetzer to Fodier, "Fall back! Red squadron is taking the lead!"

"BOY I AIN'T GOT NO TIME FO' SOME SAUSAGE BOYS WIT' DEY'Z SAUSAGE PAWTIES, I'M TOO BUSY WINNEN' DAH WAH!" bellowed back Fodier as he displayed surprising skill with his scimitar, only egging by with minor scraps to his armor.

"Sir! Please! Now is not the time to be fucking around!" said Hetzer, just a wee bit more aggravated.

"CAN' HEAR YA BOY, TOO BUSY WINNEN' DAH' WAH'!" was Fodier's response again. "NOW GO PLAY WITC' YO' SAUSAGE BOYS FO' YOU--"

"Sir! Retreat now, or I will fuck you up!" growled Hetzer as he locked on to his squadron leader's Scimitar. To which was answered by a swift turn by Fodier back towards the wing.

"Shit boy, ain't you hearda' jokin' yo' fokin' when you' shittin' yo' bullets?" said an aggravated Fodier, and with surprisingly silenced Teal Squadron.

"Of course, ma'am, moving up now." Emma said, disengaging from her current target and swinging in front of her wingmate, taking the forward position. As the pair moved along, they spotted the pair of Fred and Steven, making their way toward them, the closing speed approaching that of light, and before most people could think, the fighters and their pilots had targeted and fired, missiles and lasers hurtling within inches of the other Sabers' shield bubbles, taking out the surprised drathonians behind the squadron leaders.

Evelyn stood back, continuing her observations of both the Admiral and the battle. "Sir, I'm going to recall the Sabers." she informed him, sending out a message to the squadron leaders on her own. Steven and Siberia, as well as Fodier, Rhiannon, and all the other squadrons deployed to the Asteroid were recalled. "You had better return to the Hymn, you've all taken a lot of damage and the Asteroid impact will kill you if you stay much longer" was her message.

The Solaris cannons on the Hymn had finished priming for firing.

The two Scourges went down, eventually, but not before John's shields were nearly down. Another pair of Scourges, plus a Rex, went after the beleaguered Green Five. The Saber jinked and juked, but with most of his missiles spent, he'd have a hard time finishing this fight. "Green Six, Green Six, do you copy?" Johnathan shouted over the comm. A missile jolted the Saber as it tried to dodge, bringing it's shields down to nothing and scouring the hull. "Where the hell are you?!"

"YEEE-HA!" The other Saber, shields finally replenished, swooped in from the side and opened up on the Drathonian's flank, breaking up their formation.

"Christ." Johnathan literally facepalmed his helmet at the sheer...cheesiness of the situation. "Stop watching so many of those old movies Green Six. It's your turn to take point. My shields are practically dead."

"Aw, just try it. Just once!" Johnathan paused and thought about it.

"I will but only if something like the Deathstar is around." The two Sabers quickly broke contact and retreated from the asteroid.

“Aha! That worked beautifully. Thanks for the assist girls,” Steven called to his subordinates. He was about to pull around and seek out new targets when the message from Admiral Evelyn came through. He was prepared to protest since the objective they were first given had not been accomplished, but he figured they must have a good reason for not having them go through with the plan. “Whatever the reason was, it had better be a damn good one,” Steven thought.

“Green Squadron, Red Squadron, form up on me. Rhiannon, stay close with your squad as well. We’re getting out of here,” Steven announced as he commed everyone that was under his command. “We are making a B-line back to the Hymn. Don’t even give these bastards the taillights.” With that, Steven pushed his Saber up to top speed and aimed for the Hymn as his pilots fell in behind him.

Siberia acknowledged the order, and pulled in behind Steven. Making sure the rest of Red Squadron was following suit Jan relayed the orders to Hungary's group.

Seeing the orders, the large pilot could have sworn from both relief and frustration. The Green Squadron pilots had responded to his calls and informed Hungary they already gotten themselves out of the battle and were linking up with the main Squadrons.

"All right Reds, we can do this fine. We'll be back home on the Hymn in no time, eh?" Jek told the three other pilots as he looked down at his radar and the comforting sight of the giant red circle surrounding them. "Alright then, straight to the Hymn!"

The Red Squadron pilots gunned their engines, surprising the Drathonian's by charging straight at them, all their weapons blazing. The lizards made a valiant effort to respond, but a large portion of those close enough to do any real damage had also been the ones to recieve all the real damage.

Hungary was operating on an almost instinctive level, no words escaped his mouth and his eye's were constantly moving as blinding flashes went off all around him. Then, finally, there was nothing and the Red pilots were coasting through clear space, out of range of the trailing enemy fire. Jek ordered a customary sound off as he pointed his fighter towards the Hymn, he nodded as he got responses, and then abruptly stopped.

There had only been two answers.

"Shit." Hungary couldn't think of much else to say, his mind taxed by exhaustion and receding levels of adrenaline. The pilot relayed a message to Siberia, too tired to even speak to the Red Lead in person. Lance-Coproal Jek Ambrus reporting Pilot Aleksander Frasheri KIA.

Arcadia blazed through, hot on Emma's trail. Combat was so intense at these speeds, she hardly noticed it all go down, but her HUD was declaring the fly-by a success to some degree or another. She couldn't worry about it, though, orders were to rendezvous near the Hymn. She topped out the engine, determined to be free of the clusterfuck as fast as possible. "Green Three reporting in the clear, sir, and on your wing."

Ruze gave a sigh of relief when the order to withdraw was issued. He bolted for clear space on Hungary's wing lightning quick, and checked in immediately. Now things began to slow down- not much, but it was the start. He knew once they'd finally landed and dismounted that the true effects of everything that had occurred would finally settle over him. He'd succeeded in his mission, though not all his teammates would return to celebrate with him...

"ALRIGHT BOYS! WE'Z FOLLOWIN' THEM SAUSAGES." roared Kanon as he pulled on after the Red's, tearing their way back towards the Hymn. The entirety of Teal Squadron was a little quiet after that, especially after Hetzer's unfunny outburst. Usually, in the last two missions, he had been a source of entertainment because of his mildness. This time they all simply were awash in the intensity of the last battle. "BOY, WHATCHU DOIN'!?"

"Sir?" went Hetzer, looking up at Kanon's fighter.

"CALL' OFF'DEM CASUALTIES, BOY. YOU DON' NAM'N DEM' SPIRITS COME BACK N'HAUNT YOU ALL BON SWIDE!" roared Kanon, for once, making a little sense.

"Yes sir... Teal casualties range only in K.I.A. Four Pilots. Sarah McDonald, Hilda Donahue, Deborah Wiley, and Maria Alenzo." reported the saddened Hetzer.

"DAS' ALL BOY, GEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEWD JAHB!" went Fodier, making the first compliment Hetzer had heard from him. It was a little sobering for Hetzer, just naming them off like that, but at the very least, he wasn't naming the entire squadron.

"Green four, Clear!" Emma reported, blasting throught he enemy fighters and along with the squadron toward the Hymn. Somehow, they hadn't lost anyone yet, although it seemed other squadrons had. Emma breathed a sigh of releif, but she kept her eyes out for Drathonian fighters trying to intercept her- but, they seemed to be focusing on the Asteroid in a last-ditch effort to take it out.

However, anyone who was watching the status of the Shields would notice they were in danger- their power was going down quickly and the buffer number of generators was whittled away to almost nothing. Before anyone could do anything, two Green Sabers dashed back toward A-7, but they were marked 1 and 2, and certainly weren't Fred and Steven.

"Dammit I think we may have left a little early!" Rhiannon called over the comms, as her and her wingmate rushed back into the fray, ignoring the fact that they were outnumbered and seconds away from impact.

The Asteroid's shields flickered, but came back on, just in time to pass through Dracharia Letima's own shielding- It flew straight and true, and there was nothing the fighters could do at this point. The Asteroids began, one by one, slamming into the station, massive impacts tearing off huge chunks of the station, crushing gaping holes in the structure, and A-7, as predicted, slammed directly into the station shield generator.

Dracharia Letima's Shields went down, and not a moment later, all of the Terran fighters had been recalled and were storming back- Six Solaris cannon and at least 50 Mini-nova cannon focused their fire on the new Demonix, enormous blasts blowing through the ship as the Asteroids had blown through the station. The Demonix was obliterated in seconds, from the overwhelming force of three entire Terran battlegroups.

From the Station, two small blips could be seen outrunning the explosions and shrapnel flung at immense speed and force from the station- they juked and dived, rising and falling, trying to avoid the wave of destruction- Somehow it seemed that Rhiannon and her wingmate had made it.

But that thought was short lived- explosions within the station caused the outer surface to balloon outwards, explosions enveloping the pair and causing them to disappear. As their blips on the HUD died out, a staticy transmission reached Steven's cockpit. It was in Rhiannon's voice. "*BBZZTT want...bbzztt... I Love..." As it cut off, he knew they were gone.

Steven bashed his way through whatever enemies stood in his and his squadrons’ way; much to be expected that when he came out the other side his fighter had taken considerable damage. To Steven’s surprise, there had been marginal loss to the lives of those under his command, but he still had an overwhelming feeling of betrayal after his chance to take out the Demonix was robbed from him.

Just when he thought everyone was in the clear, Rhiannon and her wingman flew off back to the asteroid. “Rhiannon. Rhiannon! Get back in formation, now!” Steven shouted into the comm. “That is an order, God damn it!” It was no use; she was already too far gone. Steven whipped his fighter around and just sat there after telling everyone to keep going forward.

A ping of relief came to him as he saw Rhiannon reemerge just before the station went critical. “Rhiannon, what the Hell were you…” he started, but stopped short as the station went into full melt down. Steven couldn’t move as he watched her fighter become engulfed in the explosion.

“Rhiannon,” Steven mumbled, too shocked to say anything else. Once his past love’s final message played in his ear, he could do nothing but stare at his dashboard for what seemed like ages. “Rhiannon. Rhiannon? Rhiannon? Rhiannon? Rhiannon?! Rhiannon?! Rhiannon! Rhiannon! RHIANNON!” he began shouting.

Just as he was about to gun the throttle on his Saber to try and get back to the destroyed station, a vaguely familiar voice came over his comm. “Captain. Steven. Ahm sorry, mate, she’s gone.” It was Fred, whom had pulled alongside Steven’s fighter.

“No. No. No! She can’t be. Not just like that. Not yet,” Steven mumbled, half incoherently.

“Sir, c’mon. Let’s get ya inside,” Fred said in the most sincere tone that Steven had ever heard the Irishman use. Steven said nothing, but he sluggishly turned his fighter around and drifted back to the hangar.


Captain Steven Kerning was the last of the group back inside the hangar. The concerned eyes of the Green Squadron pilots turned to towards their CO’s fighter. The canopy rose with a dull hiss, but for a while nothing else happened. After a minute or two, Steven hoisted himself out of the cockpit and stepped out on to the wing. The usual exuberance of the pilot was gone, and in its place were the rigid and dull movements of a man aged beyond his years. Solemnly, Steven bowed his head and pulled off his helmet. Behind the mask were cold and distant eyes that looked at nothing - saw nothing.

The pilots of Green Squadron did not know what to do, so they stood on the hangar floor looking up at their commander. Some looked on with pity, some with sympathy, some with empathy, all quiet, none moved.

Almost within an instant, the cold and distant eyes shifted to fiery rage. Steven stepped off of the wing of his fighter and landed with a solid thud. His face was tense with anger, and his left hand, still holding his helmet, was trembling. Without a word, Steven stormed off in no particular direction, just away from his fighter. In a fit of rage he turned back and hurled his pilot helmet back at his Saber before continuing on his way; the helmet colliding with the right wing of his fighter before falling to the ground.

Steven walked until he reached the wall. He stood there motionless as he stared at the blank Grey steel. Without warning he began pounding on the wall, and eventually sank to his knees. Quiet sobbing echoed off the cold steel as Steven began to cry.

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