Log:Array Consortium: Recon Duty
MISSION: RECON DUTY
Helona 27, 1159 Tapani Calendar
While probes have been helpful in collecting information on the interior of the system, allied forces have been unwilling to sent them within the near proximity of Sarkhai itself. Definitive intelligence on the fleet makeup blockading the planet must be collected for future military planning.
Two pilots will be sent via microjump just outside of the projected sensor envelope of the enemy fleet. Engaging an initial burn, the two ships will float on low-power mode through the proximity of the planet, gathering passive and visual sensor data while travelling through the system. Of particular interest are capital assets in orbit of the planet, as these are the primary concerns for the Atrax Guard. The planet is protected by a planetary shield, so ground forces should not be a problem.
SUBOFFICER Sion Corvara, Bouncer 1 (Cutlass-9 Patrol Fighter) CREWMAN David Ironside, Bouncer 2 (Cutlass-9 Patrol Fighter)
1. Enter Sarkhai system at Daltaran jump coordinates
2. Microjump to coordinates supplied by Atrax Guard command
3. Conduct passive data collection while drifting through planet proximity
4. Depart area via escape coordinates to Daltara once data has been collected, or
5. Depart area via escape coordinates to Tatooine if discovered
6. Deliver data to Atrax Guard command on board FRG Altiadan and return to CRS Serious Business
Allied forces should go to the greatest possible lengths to stay undetected. Under no circumstances are pilots to engage the enemy; if discovered, pilots are to utilize escape coordinates leading them out of the system to the Tatoo system. If, for any reason, the pilots are unable to get out without a fight, it is vital that all attempts are made to extract themselves from combat with the minimum of battle to ensure tactical data survives.
It's been a week or so since the rather, uh, colorful introduction to the allied commanders, and as the Consortium has been busy doing its own work from the Y'toub system, so have the Atrax Guard. Though their probes have given a lot of information, naturally - as the briefing says - dropping probes in the enemy's current backyard is going to attract attention. Thus are Sion and David dispatched. Why? Because they're among the best pilots in the collection of the allied forces, and because they're all 'busy'.
Fetch and carry? Maybe. But the Crown asked for you lot, so the Crown gets you lot.
Arriving at Daltara, the Guard is crisp, but not unfriednly as it receives the two of you. Dispatch officers on board the Guard's flagship, the assault frigate Altiadan, transmit the coordinates to you both, allowing you to set up the data in your navicomputers. No room for droids in the Cutlasses, unfortunately, but the navigation data for all your waypoints is already saved. The ships sit in a vast, angry school, the Guard's assault frigates like mammoth, carnivorous tropical fish with their red and white livery, multiple corvettes swarming about them. The Legion's ships - grey, of course - are a monochromatic mass not far away. No doubt they could have done it...but the Crown did ask for the Consortium. Such as it is.
</Altiadan/ Control, this is Phantom Leader. Coordinates received, bearing outbound. Thanks, Control. We'll be out of your hair shortly,> Sion comms, hauling the ancient fighter's nose around to point outsystem. <Proceeding with mission. We'll be in touch ASAP once we get out of Sarkhai space.>
No support. No droid. Literally the only electronics available are the Cutlass's old-style avionics setup and her own state-of-the-art Array flight suit. And that has to run its interface protocols through a jury-rigged translation module to be of any use in this ship. Sion silently makes another mental note to buy her own fighter, and turns her attention to her course. <Ready to step over the threshold, Phantom Two?>
David smirks. <<Ready, Phantom Leader.>> he replies. He's in an identical craft, no droid or any auxiliary help but eachother. <<We should spring for some Headhunters, then we could bring our droids. Ones isn't happy about missing out, you know?>> He grins, the helm's visor raised to allow David to see his control paneling. <<Lead on, Leader.>> he comments when he, too, has his course set.
With the data entered by each pilot, the astromechs crunch the data - and both pilots, once they've traveled to the edge of the Glittering Belt, make the microjump past the ring of dense asteroids, past wealthy but austere Jaynat and the gigantic orb of Ralun, and into the inner zones of the system, returning in a few minutes' hyperspave travel into realspace a few hundred thousand clicks from Sarkhai herself. There, the beautiful sphere of seas and forests shimmers with the double-envelope of her atmosphere and the defense shield that keeps the enemy at bay. At this distance, the blockade cannot be seen. That's what the mission is for. The long, long drift.
Happily, you'll be in close enough range to tightwave to one another without being picked up, so you'll have company on your hours-long floatby. Lucky you.
<Jade wasn't happy about it, either. Have you ever seen a ball-shaped droid sulk?> Sion's voice carries a bounce from suppressed laughter. <One last thing. Adjusting comm transmitter for 200-meter distance limit. At least we'll be able to talk to each other, a little.> This involves a fussy process of manually adjusting the craft's comm output transmitter via the ship's computer, and it's not delineated in meters, but power output. Sion's been flying these creaky things long enough that she's memorized a few of the settings. <On course. Here we go...>
Minutes later, Phantom Leader materializes well away from the familiar blue and green orb of Sarkhai itself. <Phantom Leader, microjump successful... right where we need to be. Going dark,> Sion calls, and begins shutting down everything but passive sensors and maneuvering thrusters. And the music player on her datapad, at low volume.
It's gonna be a /loooooooong/ flight. Times like this, she really misses Jade.
David's craft is not at all far behind Sion's. <<Made it.>> he reports, leaning back in his seat. One hand is on the control stick, the other is likewise turning down all those systems he doesn't anticipate using. <<Copy, following your lead.>> he replies to Sion before it all off as well. <<Sure is a nice looking planet from here, isn't it?>> he comments idly.
And so you go. Drifting, on and on, through the void. A pair of dark blue skulls in the night. The good thing is that though the design is old, it's been reworked over the decades - the 'creaky' ships aren't actually creaky at all, though they're hardly the best in military-grade technology. Even with the power of the initial burn, it will take a few hours to get to their goal, so there's plenty of room to chat...
<It's almost as beautiful downstairs,> Sion replies. With the helmet being built the way it is, the Rim Rock tune she's listening too bleeds softly into the transmission. <Not that we had a lot of time to appreciate it, last visit. Hopefully we can finish up the business this time around, maybe with a little time to enjoy the sights after.> She's careful not to mention any telltale words about their real mission. Just in case their transmissions are noticed, it could just be some passing-through freighter bum planning an outing.
Her own hands remain on the HOTAS, though she's dialed the response down a bit. No point in taking chances on a random hand twitch altering her course, possibly sideslipping into her wingmate. And the minutes slowly tick by... until she notices a flare of light off a nearby bit of space junk.
Frell... she'd forgotten the running lights. This far out, they could be mistaken for stars, but closer in, no chance of that! She hastily corrects the mistake. <Oops! Two, check your running lights. Thank the Maker I didn't have those things on strobe!> Dumb mistake, but hey, she's going on 22 years old. Thoroughness is a foreign concept!
<<No problem here.>> David replies. <<Yours come with a strobe feature?>> he chuckles lightly, joining Phantom Leader on the right wing. <<Speaking of enjoying the sights, you got anything you enjoy doing apart from anything you consistently make money with?>> he switches topics to something entirely innocuous. <<You know, like maybe you sing, or play an instrument.. maybe you're real passionate about banthas?>>
<By some miracle,> Sion replies, glad he can't see her blushing. She could've gotten them both good and caught if that bit of junk hadn't happened along. It's a moment before she can answer his question. <Well... I did once make money on it, but I like to cook. Real cooking, not autokitchen stuff. I'm also an amateur gymnast. And I love swoop racing, preferably from the saddle. What about you, Dave? What do you like to do when you're not out pursuing the elusive credit?>
<<Yeah, I knew about the swoop racing.>> David muses. << I mean, it's not all about credits with me, you know. I enjoy playing the guitar.>> Or whatever that's called in-universe. <<Preferably nearby a lake, on a field of grass. Somewhere pleasant.>> he adds. <<Just something to do on a quiet hyperspace trip, right? Something that doesn't take up space.>> He pauses. <<Just don't ask me to sing along, I'll lose track of the strings.>>
And so, time wears on...
Eventually, the soft pinging of an alarm fills both cockpits as the ships drift past the projected sensor cordon; at this distance, the flotilla can be seen, silhouetted against the bright bubble of the planet's shield envelope. Multiple shapes, small and large alike, though only one can be distinctly seen clearly enough to be identified, and that is due to size: true to the data of the Atrax Guard's probes, the flattened death-pyramid of a Star Destroyer can be seen throwing its menacing silhouette against the heavenly screen. So very small from this distance, but in reality, that's a monster that nobody's going to want to deal with, here or anywhere else.
<...maybe there's a nice lake someplace down there, hopefully stingfly-free. I know some decent picnic dishes, aside from sandwiches...> Sion's chattering away, as can happen once someone gets past her post-teenage reserve, when the alarm pings. <This is it! Going quiet,> she adds in an unnecessary whisper, turning her attention and the Array suit's video system to the ships they're about to float past, hopefully unobserved. She also turns off the music player. She'll need all her focus now.
That Star Destroyer definitely stands out; the shape's been frightening enemies of some state for more than sixty years now. Her hands tighten on the HOTAS, and she takes a few deep breaths. It was a long leadup, but they're here now. Time to get to work.
David perks up when the Star Destroyer shows up on scanners. And in his eyesight. <<We should've brought the Vendettas, we could totally take that thing between the two of us.>> he laments. Perhaps unrealistically, but it's not the first time he's come up against capital ships. <<Wonder how they got one of those, though. Make a note, maybe we can disable and take it instead of fleeing from it the whole time. They won't have a whole regiment of Stormtroopers crewing it, right?>> He's not going quiet, just the off-mission chatter dies down immediately. <<How close do you think we can get? I want to get some kind of read on their fighter supplement.>>
The course will take you both /fairly/ close - enough to eyeball the ships there - but not close enough to get quite that amount of detail. That'll take a course alteration, and greater risk of discovery.
Meanwhile, that Star Destroyer is getting bigger...and it definitely seems to have a capital escort from the size of the silhouettes that frame it.
<Taking that thing on is the Atrax Guard's concern,> Sion recalls. <We're just here to see what else they have to worry about. Picking up some escort vessels... no surprise that they're protecting their investment. Still too far out for visual ID.> She reaches down and flips a switch on the console. <Starting data recorder.>
David sighs. <<They would. Glory hounds.>> he replies. <<Starting my own recording, just to be sure.>> he replies. <<Yeah, figures they have escort carriers with them. No saying the amount of fighters, though.>> He pauses. <<What are we even supposed to do, just point out what the other guys are going to be shooting at?>>
The shimmer on the planetary shield is surprisingly bright on this side of things; the charge down there must be /really/ stiff. It makes things a bit hard to see, at least visually, as you drift past, but the sensors still soak up data that can be picked apart later on.
<That's the idea,> Sion confirms. She turns her attention to the task at hand, adjusting the visual filters on the suit to compensate for that bright planetary shield. It doesn't do much good, but her eyes are strong. < I think I see two Nebulon-B frigates, some other ships, too. Can't make those out. We'll have to get closer. >
Which, fortunately, she's doing. With luck, they'll get some good images and passive scans on the way past.
David grunts. Getting closer wasn't on his to-do list in a dinky fighter like this. << I don't like it, Lead, but I'm on your wing. >> he comments, squinting up at the non-Nebulon ships. <<Not from this angle, no idea what those are.>> he tells her. <<Still no read on fighter numbers?>>
As the two fighters float by, their pilots manage to spot a few more things out there - a few uparmed CR90s, some transports likely loaded with support materials. And then. . .
David wanted to get a read on fighters, and now a number of them have entered the scene. Hypering in between the Cutlasses and the fleet, six fighters leap into realspace with their noses angled only slightly away from the drifting ships. Modified Preybirds, they look damned nasty as they ply through the void, captured by the sensor readouts. On patrol. Oh good.
<Confirming those Nebs... I'm seeing transports, too. Can't get a count by eyeball. That's definitely a CEC Corvette, 90 variant... and another... and two more...>
The beeping of the proximity alarm prompts a gasp from Sion that the comm system picks up. The distinctive flare of several hyperspace exits pulls her attention to the formation of fighters. <Oh, frell... we've got company! I count six Preybirds, unknown variant!> she comms hastily, trying to watch their vectors on the passive sensor screen. < I don't think they've seen us... I'll keep an eye on them. >
David remains eerily calm. <<May I suggest we head to the exit coordinates before they do spot us? Some sort of non-threatening vector, anyway. If they're on our proximity scanner, it's safe to say we're on theirs.>> he comms. <<You know, better safe than blown up in a Cutlass?>> he adds. <<ISD, Corvettes, Nebulons, and they're using Preybirds for patrol purposes. Seems like a decent report, right?>>
The wing of Preybirds prowl quietly through the night, their hulls painted ghost-gray; while not close enough to get a detailed look at the ships, the killer 'birds wheel slowly across the ships' navigational horizon. If they've spotted the two spies, they give no sign, but they're there, swift, certain death, codified on the passive sensors as well. All it takes is one false move, or stroke of bad luck...
Meanwhile, the fleet stirs. One of the corvettes is on the move, heading away from the group and off away from you - a sleek, flat form, another bird-like shape. Marauder, likely, escorted by what are definitely starfighters of some type. So that's yet another ship capable of carrying fighters. Picking up speed, the ship jumps into hyperspace, along with its lethal escort.
<Negative, Two! Hands off that throttle!> Sion hisses. <The only reason they haven't spotted us is we're just space junk to their sensors. You hit the valve now, they'll pick us up for sure! I'm watching them. Let's just let 'em cruise on by.>
True to her word, the Socorran keeps her eyes trained on the deadly Preybirds, keeping an eye on the patrol pattern. <So far, so good. With any luck, they'll never know we were here.>
David acquiesces. << If you say so, Lead.>> he replies, voice lowering because -what if they hear him now-? Keeping the fighter's speed steady, he notes <<Add a Marauder and complement to that tally.. Are we really not getting mixed up in this fight?>> David watches the Preybirds patrol away, until he can't follow them with his eyes anymore. <<Space junk it is..>>
Yes, a great deal of data gathered, and none of it cheerful. That Star Destroyer, however small it might be compared to its later cousins, is still a massive hunk of ordinance to deal with. But for all the danger promised by the ships and their escorts, the patrol wing wheeling by, the two of them keep their heads - and that's how Sion and David live another day. No ships move to intercept them, and though it's not quite soon enough the two Cutlasses drift on through, clearing sensor radius another hour or so later. Once out of sensor range, the two fighters jump out, and can deliver their sensor data to the awaiting Altiadan - with copies for the boys and girls on the Serious Business, of course.
All in all, it's a job well done. Gold stars for everyone. Gold stars indeed.