Log:Array Consortium: Fishing Practice
In preparation for what amounts to a police action for hire against the Kandaka Blades by the crime ring running Bannax Station, elements of the Consortium does a little fishing expedition against some of the unaligned pirates lairing in the asteroids in the Y'toub system. A little song, a little dance, a couple of unwitting pirate's heads on a lance, right? But there are /so many/ lairing there...
Part of the job of the Serious Business isnt just to serve as a mobile base of operations for the Consortium, it's to operate as a security platform for the sake of the Consortium and people who - because they're not stupid - want to protect their stuff by hiring a bunch of underground types who operate a kriffing combat cruiser. Enter the Business today, who has taken up a position equidistant between Nal Hutta and the asteroid belt ringing the inner planets of the Y'toub system. The past week has seen the Business doing that a lot, just trawling around the system, but today it's not just movement, but operations time: find and draw out a group of independent pirates that lair in the belt, pirates that the Hutts won't miss, and blast them into dust.
Y'know, for public safety. And gunnery practice.
Pash and Zuhj, along with Mandl, have been sent out on the Fathier Express as bait; after making a circuitous course around the syste, they're now on the action leg of the trip, cruising near the asteroid belt with a load of what is /supposed/ to be valuable metals but are in fact just seeded gravel cooked up by Adhar and Mandl. Approaching the asteroid belt, the lads are meant to get the attention of the pirates while Sion and Aola lie in wait not far away, drives off, until such time as they can fly in and take out any bandits. Anything else that happens will be played by ear. The mission's goal, however, is simple: draw out the pirates, destroy as many as possible, and collect data for future operations elsewhere in the galaxy. A blue milk run, so to speak.
Pash is at the controls, looking unhappily out the viewscreen as the asteroid belt nears. The last thing he wanted to do was use his ship as bait for an operation like this, but he reluctantly agreed because he does hate pirates so. Besides, it's always fun to zip around a bunch of space rocks.
"Alright, then," he tells the others onboard. "Keep an eye out for trouble." As if he needs to remind anyone of that. In the meantime, he'll skirt the asteroids on a clear and obvious path that's sure not to be missed by anyone looking.
Wrapped in her flight suit, Aola sits in the cockpit of the Reaper. As much as she liked the E-Wing, she didn't need sensors tripping their hiding by detecting the signiture of her droid that would ride along. Back to the original ship she'd flown for the array, the Twi'lek Ace was silent and watching, waiting for the pirates to show themselves.
On board one of the TIE Avengers, Sion watches the sensor board, trying not to hum. Or try to scratch her forehead: It's encased in a flight helmet, after all. Hot as they are, these ships definitely lack a lot in the way of amenities.
She glances across the void at the powered-down shape of Aola's fighter. <Hope they run across something soon. I'm starting to really notice the chill,> she says softly via the com system, set with just enough power to transmit very short distances. <You okay over there?>
"Not seeing anything yet," says Zuhj as he works on the console in front of himself, flipping switches, pushing buttons and keeping his eyes open for trouble on the scanners. "The second that changes, though, you'll know it." Looking up from the monitors he's been looking at he does a visual scan through the viewport to make sure that he's not missing anything right in front of his face. "We got any idea what these pirates are flyin'?"
Not a distress call, really, but erratic flying on Pash's part - mostly to test how stupid these people can be. Flying like you've suddely developed a problem with your flight controls is a bit like dangling a dying fish in front of a hungry gundark, so assuming Pash can sell it, this might get started off sooner than scheduled.
"All right, High Roller," radios the crew on the Business through the very specific frequency chosen for this operation, "You are clear to begin shakin'. We are watching from here."
Pash nods over to Zuhj, trusting he has the sensors covered, which is good because these asteroid clusters will make it hard to see anyone coming from that side. Plus, he needs to concentrate. "I'll make like the ship's flailin'," he radios back to Mandl, "but I like your thinkin'. Feel free to make us more noticeable, just don't actually break anything."
The smuggler then makes an abrupt nose dive, counts to five, and levels out sharply. "Oh," he adds, "and hang on to somethin'." Then he repeats the maneuver, this time peeling to port at an odd angle.
<At least the suits are comfortable,> The Twi'lek answers Sion, crossing her arms over her chest while she waits for signitures. She'd say more, but instead the pilot lapses back to silence the ship begins its 'baiting flight'.
<Mostly. But I'm still sorry we didn't fly the Helix. No flight suits necessary,> Sion replies, managing to stretch a little and ease some stiff muscles. The call to action could come any time now; it'd be bad to be almost frozen in place at the time.
She blinks at the sensor-image of Pash & Company's ship going into strange maneuvers. <Looks like the setup's starting...>
On Zuhj's end more computer things happen. Those sensors don't monitor themselves, after all and the Nikto smuggler is doing his best to monitor them while Pash flies erratically. As the Fathier Express dips and weaves Zuhj lets out a little chuckle, "These scumbags're gonna be real surprised when our backup arrives." As he's rocked he glances up from his console briefly to see how things look through the viewport. Then he's back to hitting his buttons and doing his thing.
Mandl's hold on "lunch" may worsen, but the science must happen still... despite being twirled unnecessarily by Pash's expert "faking distress," the jacked Bith in the back awaits the precise moment for action!
Pirates aren't normally homicidal idiots that jump at any bait, but apparently Pash's wounded-bird impression is /incredibly/ effective; so much so that, were Zahj's keen eyes not fixed upon the sensors and all four hands working the dials (so to speak), everyone would have been -extremely- surprised at the /five/ Z-95s roaring out of the asteroid belt as the general comms are suddenly flooded with the bellowing of angry alien pilots. Oh good! Here comes the bandit patrol!
A shower of ionization blasts are emitted from cannons strapped to the fighters' noses, blue flashes that are /mostly/ avoided by the Fathier Express - but a few do get in, causing the ship's lights to sputter and the ship begin to drag. That's not a good start.
And here they come. Luckily, Pash gets a heads up and is able to take evasive maneuvers against the onslaught of ion blasts. This being a bigger, slower freighter, though, he's not able to avoid them all. The Express shudders as it's hit and so the smuggler grits his teeth. Over the Express's intercomm, he says, "Shields at full, let loose with the turrets. I'll draw them closer to the asteroids." Though he's not sure he can lose them at their speed, he's willing to try and make it harder for them hit.
After giving a heads up to the pilot Zuhj gets to his feet and turns around, crossing the short distance to the gunnery control in the cockpit and strapping himself. He lines up a shot quickly, takes a breath and pulls the trigger on the turret control. Laser bolts zoom towards one of the enemy Headhunters as Zuhj growls, "C'mon... Come get it! Come get it!"
The best thing about the TIE Avengers? They're fast. As the hostile crafts draw in? Aola flicks the switches on her fighter and powers up her systems. <Gambler 1, moving in. Lets ruin their day.>
With that, the fighter comes screaming out of cover, weapons seeking targets from the likely suprised Z-95's.
<Whoa... that's a lot of Headhunters,> Sion murmurs, blinking in dismay. But her fingers are already flying over the console. <Gambler 2, got your wing!> she calls, as the Avenger surges forward, forming on Aola's wing to begin the hunt. <We'd better work fast!>
Mandl's attempt to create 'sensor static' merely creates 'actual static,' and no small amount of sparking and fuming from the station! "Is a perfectly logical command! Do not contradict Mandl!"
Now as a pirate you think, right, five older fighters, sure, but against a single older freighter that's getting hit already by ion cannons, you should be straight up ready to hamer them down, right? Except there's someone on board the God-Turtle of the Fifth Age who handles its turret with precision, and suddenly his forward shields are getting stripped off by incisive hits from otherwise far lighter lasers than they have, its going to make you take a step back and reconsider your actions. Especially when a pair of /very fast/, /very dangerous/ fighters are swooping in to the rescue.
So the pirates do the only thing they can do: they break formation and get evasive. Suddenly the targets are a lot harder to track down, but not that much. They're Headhunters, after all.
"Pick your targets, Gamblers, and take them down. Don't let up until they're dust!" Someone on the Business has had a lot of caffeine!
A red light starts blinking on the main console, alerting Pash to Mandl's tampering, to which the man exclaims, "I said don't break anything!" I mean, really.
The smuggler prepares to dip and weave through the outer edge of the asteroid belt, but instead finds the headhunters spooked, and rightfully so. They zip off in different directions, leaving Pash with a choice. His gut says to run, and if he was on the job he would, but his cargo hold is full of junk and Zuhj seems to be having fun, so he opens his comm to all friendly crafts and pulls the Express around. <High Roller comin' around for another pass. Blast 'em!>
<Gambler 2 incoming hot!> Sion calls as she rolls inverted and onto the tail of one of the Headhunters that tagged Pash's ship. She's already trying to bracket the stubborn little antique... and /not/ Pash.
There's yet more Headhunters to shoot at. Zuhj tracks them with his turret as quickly as he's able to, trying to get a good lock on one of them before firing the gun. He speaks softly as he lines up his shot and fires, "Let's see what you got now, sucka'!" Apparently talking to the enemy helps him shoot at them. "Good flyin', Pash!" The Nikto suddenly smells smoke from somewhere in the cockpit! Mandl's position in the cockpit, to be exact. He exclaims, "Krozit! We doin' okay over there?"
Mandl picks a pre-determined moment, after some number-crunching. Deep Bith-breath. "Attention all crew: please buckle your restraints and stow any loose articles you treasure. Mandl is depressurizing cargo-bay."
Meanwhile, the wrath of the supposed victim and its friends are such that these pirates are suddenly quite convinced that not only should they not have gotten out of bed, they should have pulled the blankets over their heads and set themsleves on /fire/. But as they neglected to do this, happily enough you lot are here to save them the trouble. Under the sudden assault of Sion's cannons, Aola's missiles and the mighty God-Turtle's turret fu, no less than /three/ of the fighters suddenly find themselves converted into flame and vapor or spiralling away into the asteroid belt. There's a lot of screaming over the general comms, screaming, dying, and then - something else. A /new/ wing of Z-95s are now on approach, another five, this time moving faster and with much more coherence in their formation than the previous. If the previous lads were the appetizers, then here comes the main course.
Except suddenly the God-Turtle is dumping crates of ore from its holds at high speed, throwing out an impromptu minefield that the new attackers are forced to avoid - hence ruining what might otherise be a nasty fusillade.
Dumping the cargo is a smart move, though it takes Pash a moment to double check that the doors leading to the cargo hold are shut tight. In the meantime, several of the fighters explode around them, which should be a call for celebration. Except the next thing the smuggler knows, another batch of Headhunters are angled right for them. After Mandl's move, though, he wonders if they'll still give chase. Let's find out.
Sion pulls away from the dispersing cloud of gas and metal shavings that used to be her target. <Watch your six, High-Roller! Looks like we've got a bunch of new signals coming our way, Headhunter-class,> she calls, snap-rolling and going after one of the newcomers who had to dodge the new cloud of artificial microasteroids High-Roller left behind. She has him bracketed within seconds.
More Headhunters? More dead scumbags. Zuhj's lip flaps press tightly together in a smile as he swivels the turret around to try to get a bead on one of the pirates. As the turret tracks a Z-95 the Nikto continues his strange smile as he speaks at a level just barely above a whisper, "Let's see what ya' got, ya' mudlickas!" Once he figures he's got the enemy sighted in he lets fly with another barrage from the Fathier Express' turret.
Mandl's twelve fingers play effortlessly over the console, resulting in... arcs of electricity! "Ow! Foolish computer, Mandl has got the message! No jamming is possible! Fine!"
Between Aola and Sion's furious guns, and the God-Turtle's ridiculous turret, the pirate Headhunters have enough - two more go up in flames, and the rest take off for the safety of the Belt. That was fast. Very fast.
"Dealer to all Players," the Business calls out across the link. "Come on back to the casino. We've tested them enough today. Good work, all of you."
Another fighter explodes under the guns of /Gambler 2/. <Scratch two,> Sion calls, turning to form up on the freighter. <Looks like they've lost their taste for fighting. I'll stay with you just in case, High-Roller. Dealer, hope you've got a few cold ones waiting for us!>
"Enough with the computers!" Pash shouts at Mandl's attempt to scatter the enemy sensors. He'll apologize for shouting later, but all the excitement has him riled up. When the Business calls out to them, he gladly maneuvers the Express on a path to the ship's hangar. <Nice shootin' everyone>, he says as he opens up his engines and fires past one of the crates the Bith dumped earlier.
Mandl, sucking lamely on a burnt fin-- er, 'digit,' replies furiously in its native tongue: "deshri pra. wyvyich sy deshri. deshri ift sy slusujo usnyevru zhi."
Once they get the all clear to head back to the ship Zuhj sits back in his seat and exhales a deep sigh, "Woo! That was a good time." He unstraps himself and moves back to the co-pilot's seat, patting the bulkhead along the way and saying softly, "Good flyin', Express." After he sits down in his normal position he runs the scanners again to make sure it's as clear as it looks, just to be on the safe side. "Good work, Pash. Mandl. Gonna have to thank the ladies personally when we get back in."