Log:Aldera Squad: Shakedown Flight
Fanfare and fireworks were still going off on the surface of New Alderaan in Bastion - mortars launched from Droalder turning night to day in riots of colors in the wake of Aldera Squadrons' launch to space. The mix of fighters moving in formation, clear of the thinnest ranges of atmosphere and streaking away from orbit to make their test run. Far enough to have to rely on themselves and their droids. But not so far for an accident or a system error to be a death blow for a pilot.
"For thousands of years Alderaan boasted it's adherence to peace and pacifism. Having put warring far behind them with the Hyperspace Wars" Bors had been made to address the crowds and holocams for his foolish temerity to take the charge and lead the Alderaan's first fighter squadron since its reestablishment. "But not forty years ago - we learned that one cannot embrace peace and expect it to be honored. We lost our home, our families... for many of us our spirit - until Princess Cortess's works returned it to us - with New Alderaan and with the Centerpoint Station placed it where our home originally stood."
Bors's face is centered on screen, solemn, "Never again. Aldera Squad takes flight today, to defend Alderaan and her people. To champion in the air as others have on the ground. Alderaan endures, because its spirit, our spirit... all of our spirit is fortified and strengthened by one another."
Applause goes up, fireworks and many hands lift to fire sterling flares into the sky.
<<"This is Aldera Leader, mark the flight path I am sending to you and sound off.">> An E-Wing, not as sleek as the wedge shaped A-Wing he loved so, but it was narrow frame, maneuverable and packing more firepower than his old favorite - if in exchange for a slight reduction of the speed he desired... and the new co-pilot he was still getting used to, translations from binary scrolling across a display to show the flight path was being tight-beam transmitted.
"Ugh..." eyes on his throttle lever and the lack of the 11 etched at the furthest point. "Have to fix -that-..."
Aryn Cortess finds herself in the cockpit of a sleek T-85 snubfighter with all the bells and whistles. A blue and white hull, with writing beneath the canopy that read: 'HRH, Princess Aryn Cortess' and beneath that 'Aldera 3'. It's the callsign that is relayed over the encrypted net, her voice sounding toneless and robotic thanks to the encryption. <<"Aldera Three, standing by.">>
Aryn holds formation to one side, s-foils closed and locked to cruise and Cedar, her BB-series droid, is locked in the socket behind her.
It's an x-wing, yes. Same as her other ship, yes. But it doesn't feel... right. Maybe for the sake of nostalgia does she still wear the flightsuit of Black Squadron. Something to try to help soothe that pang of sadness she feels sitting in a cockpit again and not hearing any but one of the familiar voices calling through their frequency.
Rinky, the painfully astute R2 unit, whistles in a low tone. A question.
"I do," comes the young red-head's reply; voice quiet as she ease Aldera Two into position. "But it is what it is and I'll just have to accept it. In time." She flicks her mix on to transmit. <"Aldera Two, standing by.">
Beyond the ranges of cruiser turbo lasers, in the open void between Alderaan deep space. Where there were still... remnants of the world of old, slowly turning in space. Some with small markers attached by launch cables. Tributes and memorials to friends and family lost. Like some of the keepsakes that still float near where the first Alderaan once hung in infinity.
<<"Aldera Squadron - lovely to see you're delivering out new ships for us.">> Flashes of light resolved themselves into Cutlass and Starchaser class fighters reverting from hyperspace, dipping into debris to conceal their numbers at first while the broadcast continues, <<"Lady Panteer said to give you the chance to power down and you'll be taken as prisoners of war... Except for Cortess; we've no need for her alive.">>
One of the Cutlass craft dipping from the rocks with several on its six, forming into an assault line.
<<"Aldera Leader, Squadron - shall we test weapon systems, or fall back?">> a thrill of humor in Bors voice as he cuts in on squad comms, his shields already shimmering online with a flick of switches within his cockpit. <<"Personally I feel it favorable to show that we're not we'd not show them our backsides.">>
Aryn felt trapped in that moment as her heart began to race. Heavy breathing was not detected by the mic in her helmet, nor was her own coaching to control her breathing and focus. Aryn reached out to the Force in that moment, sucking in sharp and trusting in the galactic power to guide her hand.
All at once, action pursued, and Aryn slammed the throttle to project her ship forward just as they engaged her fighter. She spun, opening her s-foils to attack position, and gleaned a hit to her shields just as she fired in return, the red lances doing nothing in retaliation.
Aryn breathes heavily still, whipping her head to one side as she increased the throttle more to bring her fighter about. <<"I am hit,">> She relays, <<"Yet still functioning. I will come around for another pass.">>
"Mr. Cedar, please see to our shields, sir."
The arrival of uninvited guests is one that Ulani was not expecting on their maiden flight. Maybe she should have been, though. Now that she thinks about it, it's kind of too much of a think for Panteer to pass up on. A show of might against the newly fledged Aldera Squadron.
"Rinky, keep your attention on my shields. I fear I might be a little... rusty." And that's it for verbal preparation as Ulani answers the enemy's offer to power down and surrender with the opening of her s-foils. <"Copy, Aldera Leader.">
Thrusters ignite, propelling Aldera Two through the nothingness of space. A spin and juke practically dances around the ion cannon fire coming her way as Ulani makes a b-line straight for the trio of Cutlasses that have zeroed in on Ayrn in Aldera Three. She's on them before they have a chance to rebound and fire on Aryn again and is rendered an explosion in the blackness.
Someone woke Ulani up and now there's heck to pay. Heck!
<<"Copy, Three - we're clearing your six">> the ship was nimble, that's for certain. It's not an A-Wing. Yes. We've established that; but it's certainly no slug like the bigger snub fighters. Pinwheeling through fire to arch in to come in with Ulani, hugging her starboard wing and thumbing the firing stud on his flight stick to the considerably throaty sound of the heavy cannons going off, shaking the inside of his cockpit,
"Holy karking stanging rekking shavit!" ...
Their numbers drastically reduced, a single cutlass of the original three, the other two atomized by Aldera Leader and Two, those fighters still in view weave in attempt to make up for the losses by attempt to hug the aft sections of the Alderaanian fighters. No quips, threats or otherwise now - steady to business and deep in danger with the situation shaking down as it has oh so suddenly.
A signal goes out from one of the fighters, a beacon by the way it tingles across sensor systems. Each of the droids reporting it, likely very redundantly as well while a signal from the Bail Organa sounds as well,
<<"Bail Organa, Aldera Squadron, we are sending tugs with escort - just in case. Force be with you all.">>
Aryn's choice profession was medical doctor, not fighter pilot! AHHHH!
She manages to come back around, the G-force of the turn enough to make her vision bleed to black a bit before returning to normal. She felt a RUSH, and couldn't help the grin on her face despite the grim nature of battle. Not knowing WHO she was fighting, Aryn engages the first hostile she sees, the leader of the small Cutlass fighters.
The enemy pilot responds in kind, twisting out of firing range with ease leaving Aryn wide eyed. "I did not know one could even /do/ that! Wow! Come back!" Her fighter speeds after the Cutlass, engines bright red and hot!
"Good work, Cedar. We will need those shields if I am flying. Hahaha!"
Ulani is aware she is being tailed and fired upon, yes. But there are other matters to attend to. So far having no issue shaking her pursuer and finding Bors easily doing the same -- they dance together even in space, it would seem -- Ulani sets her sights on the remaining Cutlass that continues to hound Aryn.
A pitter-patter of cannon fire grazes the enemy captain's shields but hardly does much to shatter it. But it's a start. Rinky Dink offers what must sound like a logical solution. To him.
"No, Rinky. That would drain our shields and likely kill us." Another series of boops. "Yes, I am quite sure."
<<"Leader, Two - keep on Three's six, see if you can clear that Cutlass. I'll work on your tail.">> Bors's hand on the throttle flicks back and then towards the nose of the ship while feet work the ethereal rudder pedals. Turning his ship over into a very abbreviated loop to kick up and over the shots of his own tail that would have likely scored well if not for the madcap maneuver.
Ion blasts score past Ulani as she evade, the Starchaser shifting to disabling weapons while enjoying a modicum of safety with the Alderaanian fighters focused elsewhere. But more signals continue to go out, a series of engine lights appearing in part of the debris field and boosting at ninety degrees away from the planet and her cruisers.
<<"Looks like their bugging out, squad. Lana's probe, at least.">> Bors again as his cannons engage, stripping the shields from the Starchaser on Ulani's six.
The remaining Cutlass's movements become eratic, corkscrewing in the attempt to land shots on Aldera two again, and the warning of target lock from Cedar giving rise to the danger of ordinance being brought to bear; the pilot hot-micing on open comms in the process, <<"For Panteer.">>
"What an amazing pilot! I cannot land a single shot!" Aryn says, despite having the same 'luck' her opponent is having against her. A cursory glance to the side has Aryn recognizing Aldera colors from the craft Ulani is piloting. Ulani can't hear aryn, but she's cheering her on!
"WOOOOOOO! TAKE THEM DOWN, ULANI!"
Cedar's commentary about returning to her day job isn't heard, or just ignored. Mother save them both!
It's usually Ulani's thing to tuck and roll back; take on the assailant on her tail. But a quick look at her radar and a peek out of her cockpit proves that she's got little be concerned about as Bors is on the guy's (girl's?) tail most effectively.
She grins a little to herself; the smile heard in the comms as she answers: <"Copy, Aldera Leader. Clearing the air.">
Sticking to Aldera Three's tailwind -- if there was one in space -- Ulani dips down low and pushes her thrusters to full. Coming up from underneath, she intercepts the Panteer Captain with three hard cannon hits that rips the remaining into exploding shrapnel that now joins what remains of Alderaan floating in the abyss. <"Splash one. Good flying, Three!">
Only a single of the tri-placed cannons on the E-Wing strikes the R-41 in pursuit of Ulani, but the power of the weapon is enough to barely notice the weakened shields or hull of the craft that it lances through. Burning the craft apart into a fireball that Bors sails through in the wake of Ulani's destruction of the enemy flight leader.
It leaves only one, caught between Bors and Ulani - with no choice but to fire its ion cannons at her while twisting into a spin that stitches blue-white light around the snub-fighter. The flat, blade, shaped craft doing its best to keep moving and avoid the fate of its wingman.
From Alderaan the tugs and support craft near and the engine lights in the midst of the debris move clear, shadowed shapes stretching out before making the leap to hyperspace and leaving the last remaining craft to its fate.
<<"Looks like House Cortess and Thul spared no expense on the fighters, judging by performance, eh?">> Bors on comms <<"Lets sweep this one and go home.">> and try to sleep after the blood shed today.
Cutlass 1 is gone, thanks to Ulani's ace piloting. Bors managing the rest of the squadron does not go unnoticed, either. With one left, and their leader calling for their destruction, Aryn complies with the order by aligning her targeting computer and squeezing the trigger. Two of the four cannons land against the craft's shields, shattering them in a glamorous display of energy receding, yet Aryn can no longer keep up with the foe. <<"All you, Aldera Two!">> Aryn banks off, adjusting her stick so that her X-Wings rolls away and off pursuit, it seemed like a good trick!
The remorse and sadness will come later. The prayers and probably some tears, as well. But right now there is duty to be done and one more enemy still flying about. Playing shadow to Aryn's craft as Aldera Three shatters the shield, Ulani moves in quickly with a <"I'm on it!"> to take out the last enem--
Beep boop whiiir from Rinky Dink behind her.
"Yes, I see they dodged." Ulani grumbles gently to her R2 unit. <"Whiffed it, Leader. Three. Hope you can clean up my mess.">
A blossom of fire quickly eradicated by cannon fire in the wake Ulani's declaration, Bors's craft blazes through the explosion sparking off of his shields as the last of the Panteer craft are eliminated,
<<"Consider it done, Two.">> wings waggling in salute as he passes and begins angling back towards the planet, <<"It would appear we've had a successful test and have seen that the enemy to the crown is watching and attempting stripes of predator and prey with us. A good show squadron.">>
The tug craft move in, with escorts sweeping, sensors scanning wide to pick up trace signals of pilots who've ejected and are being tractored into holds with security officers ready to receive guests.
<<"Bail Organa, Aldera Squad, we read your enemy signatures have fled or are eliminated. Please return home for after action checks.">> the massive cruiser in orbit transmitting while the escort fighters waggle their wings as well in passing to the Aldera Squad Fighters. <<"Good job out there, we'll have the kettle on for your return. Bail Organa, Out.">>
Success and a sound one as well - as though the enemy weren't prepared at all for what they would stand against.