Log:Array Consortium: Night Of The God-Turtle
Business continues, and Pash and crew travel in his new ship, Fathier Express, to buy a load of ordnance for the Serious Business from some opportunistic squatters on an abandoned munitions facility. A simple loadup job, right? What could go wrong?
With business on the rise again, Adhar has requested that a load of torpedoes be picked up for the Avengers and Voidwing. Well, torpedoes aren't in short supply right now, what with all the crazy going on and a total lack of Republic legal presence, but that also means the gangsters have moved in. Adhar has asked that the four of you - chartering Pash's ship, with Sion as his representative - go to a very recently former Republic supply station, Bannax Station at the edge of the Mid-Rim, to meet with the criminal collective who has roosted there and now has control of the weapons supply.
The good thing? They'll deal with anyone. The bad thing? They'll deal with anyone.
When you arrive at the station, it is, in short, a parking nightmare; the guns are alive and tracking any ship that does not follow the very carefully structured entry patterns, even firing on some vessels that try to muscle into like. Know what happens when a pushy freighter tries to take a space between the other vehicles? A turbolaser happens, that's what. A turbolaser and a new hole in the line. It's chaos, but it's what is necessary. This is what happens when governments fall overnight.
And so the Express is left to settle into line, its pilots called to fall into formation by a rough voice that has taken over traffic controll, and Fortune help anyone who dares put a thruster beyond the chosen barriers.
Rocking the co-pilot's seat, Zuhj is working the computers and helping out with comms, making sure that they know where to be in line, for instance. As the Fathier Express follows it's designated route the Nikto eases back in his seat somewhat and turns to look at the others in the cockpit with him, "I don't think I ever seen any place run like this before. Krozit, it's a mess." He watches through the viewport to see what happens next to make sure that things are going smoothly, occasionally glancing back at the controls in front of him. "You guys ever seen this before? I mean, I'm used t' pirate stations shootin' at folks, but usually they gotta do more than park outta order."
Pash expels a mighty sigh from the Express's pilot seat. This is why he tries to avoid the mid-rim and core worlds: the friggin' queues. "It's a special kind of crazy," he tells Zuhj. "Let's hope this doesn't take too long. You all settle in and keep an eye out. Don't want any line cutters knocking us into the path of that turbolaser." He can only imagine the kind of mess an overeager arms smuggler could manage here. Actually, being here, he doesn't even have to.
Stationed at the gunnery and secondary sensor console, Sion Corvara frowns at the combat display. She's panning the turret-cam around to get a good look at the station fixtures and some of their neighbors. "I'd call them paranoid, but it looks like they've got good reason for their caution. I mean, what happens if a pirate fleet drops out of hyperspace to plunder the place? There are some of those out there," she comments. "I'd guess they're worried about more covert pirates slipping into the traffic pattern."
She nods to Pash in agreement, sighing and watching the display, panning again. "Which doesn't make it any easier to deal with. I hope it's not a long wait..."
Tamrae says over the ship intercom. "What? What's happenin'? Wait, I'm coming up..." There's the sound of jogging feet against the deck plating before Tamrae pokes her head, in, blinking at the wrecked freighter, tumbling out of the line. "Whoa. They're gettin' trigger happy." She frowns. "I guess we better get th' stuff an' get out before th' pirates show up. Or anyone else."
The station is a bit like a truncated mushroom, with docking arms for larger ships juttng out at regular intervals along the dome-shaped 'cap', and docking bays spaced higher along in the same manner. The station's not a big one, only able to service perhaps twelve tranports and six capitals at one time, but since this is where the guns are, everyone and their broodqueen is in the area. Four heavy turbolasers crown the top of the cap, just above the ring of lit viewport that mark the control level; marching in a kind of slow-motion conga line, the current plan has freighters tracking in a sort of spiral around the cap, each ship at the head of the line breaking off into a docking bay just ahead as the next one follows. Time passes...and passes...until you slowly start tozzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
But wait! Alarms ring on the freighter's sensor board as somewhere nearby, a trio of new sensor contacts break into hyperspace. A trio of what look to be old-school Y-wing bombers arrive, their hulls painted bright red and black against the endless night, and they close in with alarming speed for ships their class upon the station and its waiting customers. << All shipsss, >> a voice half-hisses, half-snarls, << Thiss ssstation is claimed in the name of the Kandaka Bladessss. Leave now, or forfeit your shipss and your livesss! >>
"Pirates might jus' do that now that there's no proper law in these parts. I can only figure we'll be seein' more and more scumbags poppin' up now that things're all different with the Republic gone..." Zuhj starts saying just before the alarms go off. When they do he starts rapidly working on the console in front of himself, looking out the viewport at the starfighters, "Got three fighters on scanners. What's the plan, Captain? We gonna try to take these guys out? Wait and see what the other guys here do, or what?" The Nikto looks at the turbolasers on the station and says, "My bet is we'll be dealing with more than just three fighters, but I don't know pirate tactics too good to say for sure."
"With you there, Tam," Sion replies, with a quick smile for the Codru-Ji. "Let's just hope the station's on board with that. Looks like a long line ahead."
Time passes. It just doesn't do it very quickly. Which is not conducive to an alert watch. Even getting up once in a while to keep her blood flowing isn't doing Sion much good.
She's awakened from a light doze by the sensor alarm. Wincing, she looks it over, nodding to Zuhj's assessment. "Three fighter-bombers isn't much of a raiding force, especially with all these freighters, and I doubt we're the only armed ship here. There's got to be something more behind them. Probably a /large/ something."
She angles the turret to begin tracking those fighters. After all, they still have a fighting chance, especially considering that this station's not exactly unarmed itself.
"But they won't go after us, right? I mean, they'll go after the station..maybe....um..." Tamrae frowns. "Should we run?" Because for her, running is a perfectly valid strategy when there are so many other targets to distract the pirates from them!
The fighters lay into the station with their ion cannons, causing its shield bubble to crackle and ripple - and ultimately not stop at all the elongated balls of charged plasma as they splash across the hull. The turret guns are significantly larger than their old-fashioned cousins; this is made very clear as they go by, and their power made all the more so when the lights in the control level flicker from their salvo.
<< All clients, >> barks a gruff voice from the station over the comms, << Kill these idiots! Whoever takes out one of those fighters will get twenty percent knocked off the price of their shipment! >>
"Well, you heard the man, let's see if we can get ourselves a discount on some torpedoes," says Zuhj to Sion. The Nikto keeps the ship at it's place in line for the time being, waiting to see if the other ships break off to pursue the fighters or if they remain where they are. He flips a few switches and raises the ship's shields, "Shields up. Get ready to light them up as soon as you've got a shot, Sion. I'll be ready for evasive flying if we need to get out of the way of any incoming fire, but I don't want to mess up our place in the line here."
"Well, running doesn't get us what we want, Tam. Not that I don't think it's got its merits," Sion comments, watching the fight progress. "By the looks of things, their weapons are made for taking on capships, not fighters. Bad design choice..."
She arms weapons, giving the crosshairs she's following the fighters with some teeth. "Ready to rock," she replies. "Just have to wait for one of them to get into range..."
One does, seconds later. Sion tracks the marauding Y-Wing with her crosshairs and presses the trigger, sending scarlet bolts of annihilation lancing out at the fighter.
Tamrae erks and scrambles for a empty chair, plopping herself down and strapping herself in. "But they're in range to shoot at US then!" she protests a bit, holding on as the ship manuvers, then watching as the Y-Wing gets peppered. "Good shot!"
You aren't the only crew to open fire on the fighters, but you're by far the first. The breaker that signals the tide, Sion's excellent gunnery bites through the aft shields of one of the passing fighters, sending sparks playing across the telltale flicker of its shield bubble. While this doesn't drop the shields, it certainly sends the fighters into disarray - even more so when the other transports begin spewing blaster and laser fire of dfferent colors toward the trio of ships. This isn't at all expected, or so it seems, for the Y-wings break and seem to be pulling away...only for a new trio of fighter-bombers to close on on the line from behind. Where'd they come from? One nver knows...one only knows that they start taking apart the line of freighters from the middle. As they dive over the queue, the Y-wings methodically choose their targets, spewing ion blasts into one ship each - not enough to completely disable them, but plenty enough for them to drop a pair of torpedoes into the hulls of each one. While space is silent, the shockwaves from the exploding freighters sends you all scrambling for handholds, and it is suddenly very clear that this situation has gone from bad to /very bad/ in fifteen seconds.
"Nice shootin'!" calls Zuhj before he presses his lip flaps together in a Nikto smile. That is, until more Y-Wings show up and begin laying into the freighters that are now just sitting ducks. The Nikto looks over at Pash and says, "You want to start flyin' through this mess or ya' want me t' give it a shot? We should prolly get clear so we can maneuver around this junk and focus on takin' out these Y-Wings."
"Right on, Sion," Pash says when the turret laser fire hits home and the sky around him erupts into a colorful display of aerial combat. Then the explosive shockwaves hit home and the Express rumbles as a result. "Well, I'm not waiting in line for this. I got it Zuhj, stay on scanner would you, make sure our sky all around is clear." He pulls out of the ship queue then and opens up the engines. "Tam, see who you can get on comm. Let's see if we can't find someone to coordinate an attack with." If the bombers are working as a team, the freighters should think about doing the same. "Sion, keep shootin'!"
"Sometimes I hate being right!" Sion snaps, as she sees fire coming in from formerly-empty space! She spins the turret, tracking that passing fighter and lacing the space between them with more crimson blasts. "Doing my best! Just keep our tail clear!"
Tamrae clings to the arms of her chair, her lips pulled back in a snarl as she watches the freighters explode outside as the ship spins and pitches as Sion blasts the fighter again before it can get clear. "How many of them ARE there?!?"
Another blast from Sion's turret breaks her fleeting target's aft shields; the bubble collapses, and the ship shudders as the remaining laser bolts bite deeply into its rear armor. And yet these are Y-wings, not made from tinfoil, so the fighter still carries on; meanwhile, many of the other freighters have begun to break, either to attack or to run, and this causes no small amount of chaos in a very rapid span as multi-ton starships begin to try and go in unplanned directions all at once without a coordinated flight plan. The nearest ship to the Express, an ancient Barloz with as much rust on its hull as it has years on its spaceframe, takes off straight up - and as it begins to pass, it's fired upon by a passing fighter. In an instant, it is dead in space, and falling backwards toward the ship!
"Roger, Pash," Zuhj says as he goes to monitor the computers to make sure that everything is as clear as it currently appears. The Nikto's fingers fly across the console, trying to process data as quickly as he can. "Look out! Twelve o'clock high!" he calls as he picks up on the ship trying to collide with theirs from above, literally pointing at it as best he can through the viewport.
So, things are going pretty well so far, right? Considering the madness that's erupted, that's what Pash is thinking before the Barloz bursts and starts its dangerous fall toward their freighter. He doesn't even see it at first there's so much to keep track. Luckily, Zuhj clues him in on time to take evasive action. "Hold on to something!" he shouts. Opening up the engines to full and banking hard to port, he grips the controls and grits his teeth while trying to control the tight escape.
Sion is focused on her task, continuing to plaster that fighter with cannon-fire. She barely notices the sound of the collision alarm... not that she can do anything about it from this seat, anyway! "Wait... are we in trouble?"
Tamrae scrambles, turning her chair to the console by her as she runs her fingers over it, trying to get the coms on, then saying. "Um, everyone, attention! This is the Fathier Express! Form up on us, we have to work together to kill these guys!"
Sion's on fire at the gunnery board; another hail-Mary shot from the freighter's light turret manages to land a hit square through the pirate Y-wing's rear armor and somehow penetrate reactor, causing a sudden backlash that causes the fuel cells to go up at once - against all odds, a little stock light freighter manages to annihilate one of the fighter-bombers. Though Tamrae's weedy, panicked summons does not move the crew, the sight of an exploding pirate fighter does; a cheer goes up across the comms, though this is somewhat secondary as the Barloz continues to drift your way, the remaining two bombers wheel about, and the Fathier Express suddenly finds itself between a very explosive rock and a pair of very angry, incoming hard places...
That's when Zuhj leaps into action, angling the deflector shields to take on the aggressors in front of their ship. "You guys picked the wrong day to mess with the kriffin' Array Consortium," he says as he readies himself for the danger that lurks ahead. "Krozit Pash, these guys don't know when t' give up, do they?" His hands continue working his console steadily and speedily, being careful about what he's doing.
That Barloz is a big one and the sky is so full of freighters and fire that Pash can't seem to find a way out of its path. He mutters a curse under his breath, pounding his fist quick against the dash when Sion tears the bomber apart and cheers erupt over comm. "Nice," he hisses through clenched teeth. "Neither do we, I guess," he says to Zuhj. "Keep reallocating those shields and let me know of any surprises. Lets see if we can't lead these bombers a bit closer to the Barloz." So, he works to maneuver his new craft so that distance between all the immediate players - bombers, Express, and Barloz - is a little bit narrower. Then, he dips down fast and pulls starboard, looking to hightail it out of there.
Sion spins the turret again, taking aim at one of the incoming fighters. "Still two to go," she replies professionally, opening fire, sending energy blasts right down the Y-Wing's figurative throat! "Let's see if I can't change that!"
"I don't think they wanna listen, but as long as ya keep flyin' an Sion keeps shootin' like that, I think they'll follow us anyway!" Tamrae reports from her station, flinching as the Barloz falls towards them, though she manages not to cry out at the near miss.
Pash's quick thinking and quicker flying sees the Express save from immediate doom - pushing the drives hard and banking out of the way, Pash manages to shoulder the godly space turtle around the rear of the ascending ship, giving the lot of you a freighter-sized shield against the furious fusilade of laser and ion cannon fire from the closing bombers. Though the hapless Barloz soaks up most of the punishment, likely dooming its own crew to death, a burst of laser fire hits the ship's aft quarter and drops the aft shields to fifty percent. And that, as you know, is Not Good.
On the scopes, the number of contacts are sharply dropping as the hapless transport captains find themselves not nearly so lucky against the other wing of ships.
On the other hand, what fire they land is squarely returned by Sion's turret, and her marksmanship is dead on - the incoming fighters find their own shields significantly reduced, no doubt to their surprise!
"Aft shields at fifty percent," Zuhj enunciates as he looks at his console, continuously pressing buttons and flipping switches to balance out the shields as much as he can, trying to keep them up. "Looks like the other guys aren't doin' as well as us. Lemme try somethin'." That's when the Nikto gets on the radio and calls across an open frequency, speaking as clearly as he can in most unaccented basic, <<All ships this is the Fathier Express. Form up on us, keep your turrets on the Y-Wings. Keep them from flying in a straight line if you can, put them on the defensive until they're destroyed.>>
The Barloz freighter passes out of the cockpit's viewfield and continues to fall behind. Pash does feel a slight pang at all the ships that have already been destroyed, all the crewmembers who have been lost, but he has his own to take care of and so he sets his sights on outflying the final bombers long enough for Sion to take them out. As he does, the Express is hit and the cockpit shakes violently. He hears Zuhj take over the comms, grinning a bit as he suredly calls on the aid of the pilots around them, then shouts over his shoulder, "Can we do something about these shields?"
"I sure how they're in a listening mood..." Sion murmurs, her attention still taken up by her one-sided battle with the fighters. She can hit, but not maneuver; that's up to Pash. So she just keeps firing, hoping to at least keep the bombers too busy dodging to do much shooting. Blowing them up would be fine, too. But she'll take what she can get!
"On it!" the petite Codru-Ji says as her fingers fly over the controls. "Rerouting power to th' rear shields, should have them back up in a moment!" She winces as the exploding Barloz disappears from view coming apart and the ship shakes again. "Who blows up th' cargo they're tryin' to jack anyway?!?"
Madness, all of it! Skilled pirate fighter pilots should be laying waste to everything by now, but Hurricane Corvara has destroyed almost an entire formation of the ships with her mighty cannons. While the boys at the helm dodge left and right, the ship is hit again by another salvo from the remaining Y-wing's laser cannons - and would strip the shields away, if not more, had Tamrae not just managed to pump power back into the generators. The aft shields flicker down to half again, but this isn't the worst; as it wheels away to set up another attack run, the pirate fighter launches a pair of proton torpedoes at the freigher, something that should kill you all...but for Sion, whose quick thinking brings the guns around and literally shoots them out of space far enough away that the ship who fired them is spun away in a sudden, urgent spiral, not damaged but totally off guard and fighting for control.
Zuhj finds himself working with Pash to pilot the ship, making it swoop and swerve it's way out of trouble. But it's a big target and bolts splash off of it's shields as the Nikto fails to dodge some of the incoming fire, "Krozit! Shoulda' cut to starboard." As torpedoes streaks their way Zuhj works on getting out of it's way, only to be saved at the last moment by fancy shooting, "Nice one, Sion. Remind me t' get ya' drunk when this is through." His hands are back on the console and he's plugging away, "Let's see if we can't finish 'im off!" Calling back to engineering he says, "Good work, Tamrae! Keep it up!"
While Zuhj offers some much-deserved celebratory cheer, Pash balances things out with a focused, if a bit tense, request. "Keep it tight everyone," he says, working the controls and dash switches with a set of practiced moments. "We're not out of this, yet." He continues to weave and dip and dodge, but knows a few well-placed hits could end them. "Tamrae, can you revert some power from engines into those shields? Just need to live long enough for Sion to rip the others apart. Then we're getting to front of the damned line."
"Whoa! Weapons incoming!" Sion spins the turret to bear and sprays fire at the torpedoes, hastily bringing her momentary panic under control and aiming more carefully. She's rewarded with a blast that consumes both torps, leaving her sighing in relief. "Disaster averted..."
She turns her attention back to the sources of all their trouble: Those Y-Wings. "These fighters are such a /pain/... these arms dealers had better be suitably grateful!"
"I can't raise the shields any further, but they're past us!" Tamrae says, still staying on the power systems and adjusting as needed."
The arms dealers /are/ suitably grateful - people are losing their damned /minds/ over the commnet as this tubby stock freighter is just laying waste to everything and anything the pirates send their way! Indeed, the mighty turtle is breathing fire left and right, taking fire, shooting torpedoes out of space; the sheer display of it cheers all, causing the freighters to cluster close - not too close, but they form up as best as they can - while turret gunners spew death everywhere as they form a nebula of pain. The fighters, though there are still four left, seem to be unsure as to how to respond...which makes them a group of unhappy fellows as the station finally is able to unleash its much faster, angrier Z-95s who rocket out of the bays about the station and draw one hell of a bead upon the remaining fighters.
Now, it's a hunter's game, and the remaining transports, smugglers the lot of them most like, are more or less saved. That's you, now. The crew of the Express. That's you who's saved them all.
"Looks like we got them on the ropes," Zuhj comments as he checks his scanners for more surprises, trying to make sure there's not more where those Y-Wings came from. The Nikto keeps his cool and works his station. Seeing that the remaining transports seem safe he does his weird smile as he works, clearly glad to know that he was able to help some people as well as help to protect himself and his new allies. "Monitoring contacts, Captain. I'll try to keep an eye out for anything else laying in wait."
"No worries, Tamrae. Appreciate you mind you mindin' them at all," Pash says as the other freighters form up on them. Overhead, Z-95s whip past in a blur to bring the fight to the remaining bombers. Pash lifts his gaze to watch them go past, then looks down to make a course that brings them and anyone who follws clear of the station's fire and on an arc that leads toward the landing pads. "Nice work, everyone," he says. "Now, let's clean up here, snag these weapons, and get home." A sidelong glance to his first mate shows him wearing a satsfied grin.
Sion sends a few more blasts after that stubborn Y-Wing, but her shots pepper around it harmlessly. For once. "I think they've got it from here," she says after a moment, keeping an eye on the sensors just in case she's wrong. "All in all, I think we did good. We're still flying, and we scratched one of those Y-Wings all alone."
What is there to say after a performance like that? The Blades' Y-wings, what few survive the angry Headhunters, escape half blown to Hell and with a bad debriefing ahead of them; though no fewer than six transports were destroyed, twelve more remained. Heroes of the night, you are, and likely far longer - but tonight, while the station's spacehands load a boatload of powerful, military-grade (and more importantly, /free/) proton torpedoes into the hold of the Fathier Express, the rest of you are dragged down to the station's hastily-established canteen and fed drinks until you can barely stand. Someone comes up with a song about Corvara of the Guns, and it is known that the reason the flying was so skilled was because of Zuhj's four arms (nevermind that it was Pash who did the flying.) Ah, well, though, that's a burden of command.
More importantly, everyone wants to know who you fly for - and when you tell them, people take note. Heads high, people. That's a legend in the making for you all.