Log:Array Consortium: Icarii Sunrise and the Falling Star
With the Mathall Syndicate putting the Consortium's spice distribution clients under the attention of the Republic and planetary authorities, Adhar has gone to the pleasure world of Vaynai with Sion and Nadia to snatch a young countess from the Mathall spice boss, Danar Koolen, to deliver her to her father in exchange for a list of Mathall contacts. But while that's going on, Adhar has sent Aola Ziveri off for a secret mission...one that promises to both weaken the Syndicate further and push this conflict to a whole new level.
NOTE: This takes place on the last night of the three-day period during which "The Damsel Job" occurs.
The Captain has taken a trip to the Outer Rim, where he's been away for the past few days with Sion and another woman, a Cathar named Nadia Cuul who until recently partnered with another Consortium captain named Wodi Corcer. While he's gone, however, he's charged you with an important mission against the slaving syndicate against whom the Consortium has so recently begun to thump. Your mission is simple: take the Reaper and make the long journey (even for the Avenger), stopping to refuel at a shadowport station called Glory Point before heading to the Outer Rim planet of Vestar, deep in the Rseik sector and beyond Corva Yag where the Consortium and the Syndicate clashed a week ago. There, where the Empire once scoured the native Icarii from the planet's jungles with biological weapons and colonists now live, one of the Mathall Syndicate's kingpins has a palatial estate on an island far out to sea that is - alas - guarded like a small fortress. This is the target.
Your mission is to enter the system quietly on a hyperspace course already calculated for you, insert yourself stealthily into the atmosphere, swiftly destroy any security forces and drop a pair of heavy space bombs on the island - which will, in point of fact, annihilate everything on it. Intelligence indicates that the house is empty of staff, the kingpin having retired to elsewhere on the Outer Rim for his 'winter' vacation, but the vast majority of his non-electronic wealth is located there, as well as a large amount of spice and Syndicate cash in precious metals and jewelry. You will be, at a stroke, gutting the man's position in the Syndicate, and helping weaken the Syndicate at large.
While taking down drug lords is always a fun thing, especially the nasty ones like those who work for the Syndicate, but a near-orbit hyperspace entry is dangerous, nevermind a solo assault on what is undoubtedly to be a fortified location. But it's also a hell of a challenge, and the Captain has hand-picked you for it. You gonna say no?
It's definitely a long journey, and somehow the more spacious hollow of the Avenger's flattened ball cockpit manages to feel claustrophobic - likely because of the life support rig you have the wear the entire time. Before you left, Adhar said he had one of those flight-suits ready for you, but you've not gotten to train with them yet, so...Resistance orange and white it is.
After spending an hour refueling at Glory Point, you're able to get back on the proverbial road. Though the navicomputer on board the Reaper isn't able to shave any additional time off the clock, the original course was damned close to the mark as it was - you'll be dropping into hyperspace just outside the atmosphere, with little time to right yourself through the planned meteoric descent. Indeed, you're just going to...fall out of the sky, at least with minimal power and maneuvering thrusters; the inertial system will be on, as well as the computer, but you'll have perhaps forty-five seconds to fully power up and right yourself before crashing into the ocean. So, no pressure, right?
On the other hand, should you pull it off, you'll be able to fly over the water well under any sensor grid. After that, it's all part of how you do it. Remember, the Reaper's launcher has only two weapons in it, and those are capital-killers. You /will/ flatten the island when you drop them, and you /will/ want to be well on your way back toward orbit when they fall. These aren't your standard proton bombs, they're essentially bunker-busters.
Back into hyperspace, then, and the swirling blue forever...leading on until you prepare to make like Icarus and ride the lightning away from certain death.
It's still not the craziest move Aola had ever made in her ship, but it was up there! If nothing else, it'll be one hell of a way to go. That first 'drop' in the pit of her stomach is a familiar comfort, the scream of her the TIE's engine cuts down before she starts the drop and begins to count. Piece of cake, right?
You transition into realspace, just to face a wall of blackness - you've arrived at your target destination during the night, and the nightside of the planet is a vast swallowing darkness with only the tiniest islands of light in the distance to break if up. With engines still on, albeit at low throttle, you begin to head toward the planet's atmosphere, where you will certainly be picked up if you do not immediately cut power and begin the hard transition through reeentry. Good thing starships of all sorts have been built to handle unshielded entry for thousands of years!
There's a moment of quiet as Aola's hands trace over the controls, her eyes closed for a moment as she murmers something. This wasn't quite prayer, there was no reaching out with the force, it was more like...visualising. Powering down, she feels the -slight- tug of gravity falling downwards that the dampners can't quite get rid of. Her eyes snap open again and she yanks the controls, rightening her ship onto the vector as she starts her free-fall evasion of the sensors.
Indeed, dropping through the outer atmosphere is a hard thing; the fighter's yoke bucks like an angry dewback as the ship's systems die, and you have to work hard to keep it steady - but even here, years of flying the four-winged bullet that is the X-wing shine, and you're able to keep the Reaper on an even course as it plunges down through the atmosphere.
The darkness of the night is broken in but a few seconds, however, as the flames of re-entry begin licking across the canopy - first a ring of candle flames, then brighter, until for a full ten seconds the ship is crowned with a wreath of fire, blazing bright as the sun that shines from the other side of the planet; the polarized lenses of your helmet cut it back, but even then you're forced to squint against the glare - and after it recedes, the momentary afterimage of all that light, all that heat, is seared behind your eyelids. Once you can open your eyes again, your helmet's connection to the ship's systems allows you an all too keen idea of how quickly the Reaper is falling. Ten thousand feet...eight thousand feet....six....
The difference between an elite fighter ace and an idiot who died doing something crazy was measured only by success. For the young Twi'lek pilot? she was hoping she was the first. Fighting to keep the Reaper steady, her hand deftly moves to flick switches and reenage the fighter's systems she'd mentally mapped out before.
Your quick thinking and quicker fingers keeps you from losing control, even as you one-hand the yoke while bringing up the ship's systems. This close, the rippling water is all too clear, all too real, as you continue to hurtle toward it - the ship will power up in time, but you still have to pull up and clear the water. A thousand feet and falling, and the water is so big, so black, so close...
Either she was going to make one hell of a splash, or this was going to be awesome. Either way? Noone was around to see it. Clenching her teeth she pulls back on the stick and ship's twin-ion engines scream for her at what looks to be her apparent demise...until the ship comes up and she's tearing across the water, the disturbance of the ear leaving a trail through the waves. Aola can't help it, she gives a whoop of celebration at her success. Now for the bombs
The ship is literally rattling all around you as you've long reached terminal velocity, and the layers of air grow heavier - the struggle to keep the ship in place is complicated further by the blaring of alarms as the ship comes to full power, and the engines roar to life behind you - vibrations wash through the hull, your arms, your body, rattling the organs caged inside your bones. For a moment, it feels as though your body might pulp to jelly in your suit, but somehow you manage to pull back - hard - just as the black wall of water hurtles up to meet you. The ship moves drunkenly with you, shuddering left and right as you steady it at the bottom of its die, only to slam you about in your harness when the bottom edges of the wings skate the water for a few seconds. The ship rises out of the water amind a pair of scything wakes - but you are clear, now, and Reaper is fully under your control.
Once clear, you can proceed on your assault course. The complex is two hundred miles away, and the flight plan is in the system. Go get 'em.
"Everything's under control," the blue-skinned pilot breathes. There was noone else here, perhaps she was trying to convince herself? Regardless, the pilot hits the thrusters and sends her ship streaking towards teh target zone, her fingers flicking over contols to power up the weapons. Time to work.
Shame nobody /is/ here, because that was some damned amazing flying; at least the ship's sensor feed will chronicle your moment of glory for later celebration. Not only did you manage not to die, you pulled off an incredible feat of piloting. And, as the next few minutes bear out, you've managed to get through undetected - if you had been, sensor pings from at least curious freighters in orbit should have landed by now. To work, then!
The plan is fairly simple. Though intelligence is fairly blurry as to what's awaiting you, you are to fly in at low altitude, striking at surface defenses, and once your escape route is clear, pull another insane maneuver to pull up and drop the bombs as you escape at full speed, riding the sudden updraft from the enormous fusion detonation and using its radiation burst to escape undetected once more. There is a very specific altitude by which you have to do this, however; too late and you'll be detected, too soon and you'll go up with the island. The Captain really must trust your flying.
Ahead, the scanners read the island some twenty miles away, now, rising over the horizon to meet you. A glittering rock, you can see the castle-like shape of the manor house; it is shown clearly on the targeting display, a brutal, polygonal structure surrounded by a towering blastproof wall and protected by what appear to be four towers on which quad-laser turrets have been set up. The instruments pick up an uncommonly high energy level somewhere under the house - possibly the compound's generator. You don't have the technical skill to say.
You do, however, have some turrets to take out.
Streaking towards the drop zone, Aola's fingers tighten on the triggers of the Reaper's controls, letting the TIE's cannons spew their glowing green blaster bolts at the quad-lasers. No more stealth, now it was for shock and awe!
The guns light up the night, literally; the lasers framing either side of the cockpit canopy illuminate everything in their ghastly light as the ship's guns spit multiple salvoes of death. The first tower takes a hit, causing a ghostly puff of smoke and flame to rise up, scattering masonry across the base of the island - one shot misses, and should hit the compound wall, but instead sends a static flicker of blue light about fifteen feet ahead of it and sputters out. The next lands squarely in the center of the tower's upper section, shearing off almost all of the tower's plascrete casement on the side facing you. Metal and wires exposed, bright spark of power bleed illuminating the damaged structure. The salvo does not, however, take them out. And now you know two things: the house is shielded, and you have at least two towers that you're going to need to dodge coming in.
As you thunder closer, the lights on the house come on, big floodlights that illuminate the savage-looking structure with its many turrets and pyramidal roofs, the lurid blues and grays that it's painted. In the night it looks like a haunted castle from legend, made of painted dragon's teeth as large as the world was new when they fell to earth, and as the turrets open up that ferocious image is made all the more real. Crimson lances scatter through the dark at you, the heavy guns threatening to collapse your shields with just a solid hit or two - they fire quickly, to, spewing death from all four corners. Over the sound of your own guns and the roar of the engine, you can't hear the alarm that must be going off, but you can imagine what it must sound like.
You can get another salvo in, and then it's either drop the bombs and brave a shot in the back or come around for another pass.
One good run, that's the best approach she can make. Treat it like the bar brawls she'd seen on the moon: hit hard and fast before they really know what's going on! Pushing her TIE to dance between the blaster turrets, she attempts to weave into the position for the drop.
"Here we go!"
Onwards and upwards, the TIE Avenger spins between bolts and begins to climb, moving up towards the drop zone. Those ray shields themselves might just obscure the targeting themselves for the cannons trying to hit her, but they certainly won't stop her payload.
Indeed they won't. Brilliantly juking left and right, your heart threatens to shoot into your throat as you pull the Reaper into a breathtaking ascent more fitting a maglev entertainment coaster than a starfighter. The ship banks and spirals as it rises toward the drop point, lit up from all sides by heavy laser fire that's hopeless to match your skill - but evasive action will make dropping the bombs incredibly difficult as you soar away from the complex. You're going to need to even out - it might expose you for a few seconds to enemy fire, but in the long run it won't matter anyway. Or you could simply try your luck and skill one last time, hoping you don't spin the bombs off into the ocean. As the spotlit compound swiftly vanishes behind you and the altimeter climbs toward the waypoint, you have only a few seconds to make your choice!
Aola was one for risky, that much was proven by the entire mission that she'd agreed to that some might consider a suicide run. But that was a risk to herself, not others if the bombs she dropped missed her target. Some things called for precision. Levelling out, she brought her fighter to the correct angle and then hits the button, sending the nukes plummeting towards their targets while she angles her fighter to flee. The ship rattles and the shields scream as the TIE is tagged by the defencive turrets, but she's already diverting all the power to the thrusters. Time to run, and run far!
The bombs are away...just in time for the Reaper to shudder violently as two of the heavy quads score hits on the aft quarter. Lighter fighters would be obliterated entirely; the aft shields collapse, and the engine alarm begins as the ship lurches to the right before you can bring it under control. The ship's maneuverability has been heavily compromised, but you only need to go straight up. Far below, a sound like a thunderclap, and a brilliant flash floods the heavens - and then the ship shudders again as the sky cures to night, and the stars glitter as far below the island is reduced to little more than slag and rubble, crowned with a mushroom cloud.
Mission accomplished. Now, to get out of here.
The way to the waypoint out is clear any defense vessels in the area nowhere near where the blast occured. You can get out of here, although it will take more effort to force the ship into its return vector to Glory Point.
If there were others to speak with, she would, but for now the Twi'lek was alone with her victory. Not that it stopped her from raising a fist and giving a whoop of joy as the explosion erupted and the energy rushes up hungrily, falling short before it hits her ship. She exhales a breath, giving a little laugh for a moment before she starts to key her controls. "Alright girl, lets go home."
With difficulty, you orient the ship for the jump and head forward - and soon you transition from your dimension into the next, hurtling on into the infinite...at leat for a little while.
The trip back to Glory Point is entirely uneventful, save for the faint metallic taste in the back of your throat as the adrenaline wears off - you're not getting repair there, mind you, but you can keep the ship on course enough since you're not in combat. And so off you go...and it isn't very much longer until you jump back into the good old-fashioned criminal bit that is the Y'toub system. So, then. Home again, home again.
Compared to the possibility of a slow radiation poisoning death? Aola would rather have died crashing into the ocean. If the ship couldn't shield her from radiation, then the Reaper was going to be completely useless travelling through space. She'd be stuck until it was repaired, so hopefully it was just her imagination. If nothing else, this was another point to her 'I miss my X-Wing' arguement. Maybe she should try and rebuild an old one from a scrapyard, or rob a hutt or something. Till then, she'd have to make do.
"Remind me to punch Adhar straight in the face for giving me a leaky ship Bee-boop..." she comments, before remembering the droid wasn't there. A shake of her head and a twitch of her lekku, she pushes the lever and the stars leap forward in pinpricks of light as she enters hyperspace. Homeward bound.
But the good thing is, it didn't leak - other than an adrenaline crash, you came out ace. Because you /are/ an ace. An ace's ace! And you just pulled off a damned near miracle in the service of...uh...a smuggler's turf war, but at least the people getting bombed into the pre-Hyperspace age were really, /really/ bad.
But now you're home, and you can go and get a hero's welcome. Hopefully not punch Adhar in the face, though.