Log:Black Squadron: Frozen Ghosts Pt I
Fighters emerge from hyperspace and travel the distance to Hoth. It's not until they've broken atmosphere that Poe's voice is conveyed over their heavily encrypted net sounding like a robot. <<"Is everyone good?">> He asks, setting the tone for something more personal than the strict protocol followed by Rogue Squadron. Black Squadron was smaller, and for Poe, it was like coming back home after an extended vacation.
His X-Wing darts to the front, its engines glowing brighter than normal, indicative to the fact he engaged his afterburner to break super-sonic speeds.
Mission parameters came from an errant Jedi led mission, indicating that local pirates were using the ship graveyard as an armory to acquire illegal military-grade weaponry. They'd all received the brief, and it was Black's mission to bomb the graveyard to put an end to the scavenging.
BB-8 can be seen by the other pilots, dipping down slightly into its socket when Poe passed through the white clouds. When he emerged, the droid shook off the frozen vapor, comically bobbing his head.
Emerging from the tunnel of hyperspace in a wink of existence--absent one moment, there the next--alongside the other starfighters in their retinue, Jessika Pava does what she always does when she leaves a jump and panic looks towards her sensors. There's nothing there to find. Nothing but a giant, frozen ball located in frozen vacuum of immeasurable size. For a fleeting second, she feels oppressed by the immensity of scale. Poe Dameron's voice comes alive in her ear, through its speakers, and Jessika's mind derails from cosmic insignificance and tunes in on the mission at hand. <"Two's good."> Reaching out, Jessika adjusts a small, almost obscure knob somewhere off to her right. The heat in the cockpit becomes detectable within its cozy confines.
Somehow, between the thermal glove underneath her flightsuit and the warmth flowing from the vents, Hoth still feels cold. It's all the white. The multiple layers of clouds as far as the eye can see up top and all the snow at the surface level rob the planet of any semblance of comfort. Jessika's head dedicates barely a percent of effort into these thoughts. The rest is on maintaining formation and snap-checking the sensors for any signs of enemy craft. She knows the pirates here have starfighters. She saw them fly overhead the last time she was down here with Princess Cole. For now, though, it's just white. White everywhere. Jessika holds off on toggling through her weapons systems to the explosive ordinance they're there to drop. She feels more comfortable having the laser cannons ready at the drop of a hat.
<<Holy drek, that how we all sound, yeah?>> comes a robotic, yet still wholly distinctive voice from the little squadron's NR-2 model bomber. <<Error. Error. Blowing drek up is against my programming. Ha. Ha ha. Ha. Ha.>> The twin nacelles of the Y-wing flare orange in the chill atmosphere. Mercifully off comms, Ektor has continued laughing, though the hilarity fades once he isn't hearing his own encrypted merriment. With a crooked smile, he eyes the targeting computer readouts.
Rey's X-wing breaks into the Hoth system. Inside it, she has her Tierfan Yellow Aces helmet on, though it has the symbol for Black Saquadron on the side as well, along with one of Red Squadron to honor Luke Skywalker.
<<"Is it wrong of me to say that this fighter has a more pleasant scent to its interior than my other?">> Rey asks over the open comms to Poe's query of their statuses.
As her fighter follows the others, they break atmosphere and glide into the frigid world.
<<"This... looks like the coldest world I've been to yet. I hope we're staying inside the ships.">> She adds, her eyes sweeping around the horizon outside of the X-wing, while Artoo-- behind her --just tanks the ice build up around his silver dome like he just doesn't care!
He beeps something to Rey about Hoth. She glances down at her readout to translate it more quickly and precisely. She smiles.
"Well if you have fond memories of this place, then I'll change my tune on it." She replies to her co-pilot.
Poe chuckles at Xer's commentary as they get closer to their target coordinates. Rey's question is considered while reaching over to his side to engage the canopy defroster. <<"Nah-- these do have that 'new fighter' smell to them. Well.. those do. Mine doesn't.">> Poe and Jess had rebuilt Black Leader four, or was it five, times. Poe got shot down a lot.
<<"Hoth is one floating ice cube frozen in time. There's a lot of history buried beneath the snow. It's where people go when they want to be forgotten.">> Unfortunately, for the pirates, the New Republic suddenly remembered there were large weapons out this way!
Poe guides his fighter lower and lower until he emerges from the lowest level of clouds with a clear view of the ice canyons. They were etched /deep/ into the terrain with onyx colored cairn like spouts at the bottom that spewed and spit bright orange magma. These canyons passed by quickly, transforming now into barren stretches of ice and snow until tall shapes appeared on the horizon. These shapes, at first, resemebled spiky mountains, but upon closer inspection (or aid of sensors) they found that these jutting lengths sticking out of the icy crust were infact ships. Old, ancient ships, modern ships, ships of all makes and model.
<<"Alright, we're in business. Let's see if we can do a flyover to identify key bombing locations. We need to saturate this whole place with bombs. Maybe target old fuel cells or things that might aid us with yielding a bigger... boom.">>
Ektor drops into the fourth position in the Black quartet, taking a lazy scan, and drawling, <<Got a couple blips due.. planetary north yeah? Old Imperial drek, looks like.>> It didn't carry through the encryption, but he'd affected a low brow Imperial accent with the report. Then Jess fills in with an actual professional piece of scanning. <<North, like I said. Annnnnd every other direction, too. Thanks, Jess.>> Reports of an incoming octet draw his crooked grin back. <<Eight, yeah? What's our split?>>
Artoo chimes up with a story he wants to tell, but Rey just smile and shakes her head. "Another time. I think we're in serious mode now, Artoo." The droid beeps a confirmation as an icecicle snaps off of his otpics sensor and flies away behind his metal dome in the wind rushing over the X-wing.
At Poe's words, Rey's eyes fall down to her sensor board. "Right, wait... where's the. Oh, they moved it--- Oh, that's new. I like that change." She says enthuasiastically about the cockpit of this much more modern starfighter than the one she's used to. She reaches out to activate the computer display, and watches the fancy readout start to come up, though she needs a moment to settle in to what it's displaying...
<<"Is it wrong that I want to go down and scavenge these wreckages?">> Rey asks, hinting at her true nature! <<"Republic designs, I can't--">> She cuts herself off as the word of enemies comes across the comms, her eyes coming up to her scopes to monitor them.
<<"Looks like bombing just became our secondary objective. Let's pair up. Testor and Tion; Blue and I. Split the group apart and let's take it to the dance floor.">> Poe says, his voice oddly calm and robotic. Black Leader's s-foils widen, shedding a thin layer of ice that vaporizes behind his vessel in a sudden cloud of mist. Poe instinctively tightens his harness. "Hang on, buddy."
True to his word, Black Leader favors the air close to Rey, and suddenly engages his engines to go super-sonic toward the.
<<"White Maw pirates,">> Poe in-tones just as the fighters fly into plain view. Two old T-65s lead a ragged bunch of Z-95 Headhunters. Surprisingly well outfitted for pirates, but this is what happens when factions are left to pick the bones of old wars. <<"If we're not able to bomb all this from up here, we may /have/ to go down there to find ways to blow this place up..">>
Pre-emptive to the engagement, Jessika toggles the s-foils on her snubfighter. They split apart, taking iconic shape and preparing her quad laser cannons for operation all at the same time. <"Two to four? That shouldn't be too bad. Those fighters are ancient."> She's already banking her craft around as she speaks, swinging the newer model of X-Wing around to face its predecessors. Even the T-65 is far newer than the Headhunters, which is the very archetype the Rebellion built their classic starfighters on. Jessika almost hates to depress the switch. Almost. What flies against them are poorly taken care of, over-loaded fighters in desperate need of a real mechanic to restore them to working order. She hates more that pirates have them.
Which means she has no qualms about rectifying the situation. Squeezing the trigger on her flight stick, the bright red lances of laser cannon fire stitch directly through the T-65 she's blitzing for. It hits right on the nose and then strafes up, popping the bubble of the enemy craft's shields before puncturing the last two shots through the cockpit and the fuselage behind it. The explosion is violent, sudden, and it litters the ground in superheated metal that starts to sink into the frozen tundra.
<<You got it, Pretty Boy. On your backhand side, Jess,>> Robo Ektor reports, lazily flipping deflectors to double front for the opening Joust. <<They probably used to being hard hands, what make everybody piss their flight suits. On account of the cyborg drek, and all..>> When Major Pava annihilates one of the lead enemy fighters, he quips, <<Uhn. That was hot, Jess, good shooting.>> The nose guns in his light bomber land a hit on an enemy Headhunter, as shields are re-balanced when the craft scream past.
Rey's X-wing banks to port and comes up right on Poe's starboard side. She glances over at him through their cockpit canopies and nods once to him, in regards to 'Winging Up' for this. Her eyes then go forward and she grips the controls of her starfighter, the s-foils popping open with a mechanical whine!
<"Here we go!"> She speaks up as her cannons come to life, spewing red-hot energy beams into the icy backdrop of Hoth all around them as their enemies come upon the line of Black Squad fighters!
Artoo beeps and whistles as the T-65s zip past them, withthe Headhunters not far off either.
Poe glances over toward Rey just before the action starts. The initial joust, as Xer called it, happened in the blink of an eye. Poe hit the T-65 (White Maw 2), then angled down low, diving beneath Rey to lead two fighters away. White Maw 2 was on his tail, and a Z95 trailed him too.
The White Maws were shocked by the sudden dismissal of their flight leader. His fiery death cascaded from the sky in raining black smoke and bits of orange fire quickly doused to steam when it found the snowy floor. The other fighters veered and twisted, showing some advantage of training, but like Jess had observed, these fighters were desperately in need of a mechanic's touch. They could not contend with the speed of Black Squadron and it showed with all the errant missed shots pocking up the terrain below.
<<"I'll get those on your tail, Blue. Hang on!">> Poe calls, his voice sounding robotic but with a sense of urgency. He flies low and angles back up to get a shot on something to help his wingman out.
<"Now they're flying like they mean it,"> Jessika quips over the net. The obliteration of one of the T-65s has thrown the others into disarray. They juke and maneuver for firing positions, knowing now that their lives are on the line. It's all fun and games until someone gets blown up. <"Are they even capable of punching through your shields, Tion?"> She's behind on the latest and greatest of the Y-Wings when it comes to specs. She knows her own aren't that resilient, though, and is keen on staying out of harm's way. A close shave with it is reflected through her transparisteel cockpit when one of the enemy craft tries to ping a shot off her starfighter. Jessika turns it into a turn fight, knowing her newer craft is faster and better than the old ones.
Which is why she gets the line-up shot and lead on one of the Z-95s. Whether the fear of death, luck, or good old-fashioned skill causes it makes no difference, but the target labeled three on her sensors avoids being put in danger by changing plane above where her shots pierce through the air.
<<Arright, I'm awake,>> Ektor grins as his forward shields absorb a pair of cannon hits with nothing worse than the Y-wing being jostled in flight. "Genius, make yourself useful, yeah?" is vocalized to the long suffering astromech, as the reformed (?) pirate pulls the light bomber into ss right s turn as the craft can manage to keep on Jess's wing as the initial joust breaks into a proper dogfight. The second pass is more cagey, as the (enemy) pirates avoid both Jess and his own guns. <<Heh. Looks like they woke up, too.>> Can they punch through his shields? <<Uh. Maybe if I fell asleep? Hey. Hey Jess. Jess. You know what they call pirates in Order space? Go on and guess.>> Yes, he's doing this in the middle of a dogfight. Anyone who actually managed to listen in on their comms at the moment would be.. Confused.
As the fighting continues, Rey manuevers her ship through a volley of fire from not one enemy but two! she zips through the two enemies and turns her head to the left, then the right before looking forward and pulling her X-wing up and around into a high loop that has her corkscrewing back down toward one of them to fire back!
Her lasers ultimately slap down into the snowy tundray below though, as the Headhunter pilot shows some promising skills with their fightercraft.
<"They're experienced, so it seems! Keep on them though! They're not as experienced as we are."> She says over the comms to the others.
True to his word, Poe slags White Seven for Rey, eliminating a portion of her tail in a sudden display of fiery orange followed by soot black. Debris rains down toward the ground in a beautiful cascade. Meanwhile, Black Leader's engines scream by overhead staying low to mess with their opponent's sensors.
The White Maw is flying with more gusto, focusing their fire and trying to bring down one of the black and orange crafts.
After the initial salvo of fire between the craft, Jessika knows they're playing a game of attrition. Black Squadron is made up of more skilled pilots, but no one can fly perfect every second in combat, and the more guns they have trained on them, the more chances there are to be hit. Jessika gets a taste of it. A rattling taste that vibrates through the cockpit and the tight straps of her harness. Her shields are still good. Ailee doesn't need to be told to go to work on bolstering them. She may have spoken too soon in the grand scheme of things. As she's often fond of saying: what can go wrong will go wrong. Still, one of the enemy craft on her sensors winks out, and Jessika realizes they're down to a battle of four on six.
Ektor's joke rings in her head no matter how much she tries to focus on the fight in front of her. What's the answer? Is there an answer? Is it possible that there's some true comedic genius lurking in the question? Some cosmic punchline that-- She misses her shot again. The enemy craft is able to avoid her a second time, and Jessika curses under her breath. <"I don't know!"> Petulance might be the wrong answer in this case, but it doesn't help that Ektor goes on to outright destroy not one, but two of the enemy fighters they're up against. And one of them was the one she was going for. Her face is doing the thing.
Two of the Headhunters converge on the Y-wing, and Ektor get hammered in the crossfire. Genius warbles in resignation of her doom as Ektor- nearly shieldless- comes back swinging. Making the bomber dance in ways bombers aren't meant to, Ektor's cannonade tears apart both of his tormentors within moments. <<You give up, Jess? See, you and me would say *pirate* yeah? Maybe freedom fighter. But them- they got those accents, yeah? So in Order space, they call em 'Poe-Rey-ts.>>
So that would be a 'no' on lurking comedic brilliance.
Rey's X-wing dips low over the ground and zips above some of the werckage that they came to detonate. She sees the explosion in the sky above-- and beside --her fighter, then Poe zip through it's billowing fiery wake. <"Nice shooting, Lead."> Rey says over the comms before pulling back on the flightstick of her fighter and bringing the nose of the T-85 up over the snowy banks in front of her. She grits her teeth as she pulls the stick around to starboard just as that Z-95 zips past her viewport! With a squeeze of her firing trigger, her guns light the Z-95 up, spattering across its hull and sending the ship spiral out of control toward the ice fields below!
Black Four pulls right through the wake of black smoke and comes around to find the others.
<<"Are they running away yet?">> she comms to Jess and Ektor.
The pirates have no idea the line they crossed when they engaged Black Squadron. Despite being smaller in size, those in the Squadron were all war veterans who had been tested against the best pilots in the galaxy, zealots trained in the First Order's war machine. Pirates with combat experience still paled when compared to any of the squadron's past sorties against overwhelming odds. They learn this first hand; well.. White Maw Five learns this first hand. His companions are smoking heaps of slag in the snow and suddenly he's the one outnumbered.
Tucking tail to run while he can, the Headhunter pilot goes evasive, angling low to fly away from Black squad and back to where he came from.
<<"Looks that way.">> Poe answers, chuckling at Ektor's joke. <<"Our mission still stands. Let's bomb the hell out of this place and do a fly over to see the damage. We might have to land to plant a tactical nuke.">>
<"I hate you."> It's short and quick over the net, and no one present needs clarification on the identifies of either person specified in it. Jessika watches the sensor blip that is the last remaining pirate fighter speed away. They could chase him down with ease, but that's not what they're here for. Banking away from the craft in a slower turn, she reorients towards the heap of exposed ship hulls. Her targeting computer heeds the call of the button by extending on its adjustable mount and moving forward to provide her the telemtry she needs for a proper run on things. Streaking through the sky, Jessika lines up on one of the exposed spires of ship plating and lets loose with the ordinance. <"Bombs away. Watch your distance."> There's no telling what kind of violent reaction dropping bombs on unknown weapon caches might cause. Especially when some of these ships are lost to time.
When Poe mentions bombing the hell out the place, Ektor cracks, << I knew there was a reason I got out of bed, today. Proton bombs armed annnnnd- wait for it. Wait for it... BOOM, baby!>> Jessica's declaration of hate earns a broad, crooked smile and a short off-comm cackle.
Rey's eyes are on her scope as that last Z-95 flees from the fight. <"I almost feel bad for them, but then I remember the part where he and his friends just tried to kill us."> She states in a dry tone of voice. Letting the fighter go, she spins the nose of her own craft around to head back toward the wreckage she'd flown over before. With enough of it intact still, she can see that this mission was vital... her 'scavenge-y senses are tingling' about all the great parts that must be down there still.
As she picks her targets, Rey starts to fire off twin torpedo launches that leave trails of smoke spearing away from her fighter's fuselage. She observes the impacts as they rock the hulls of the Republic hardware.
<<"Jess was right, they're obliterating the weather damaged hu---">> She announces, having to cut herself off to pull her fighter up just before a much larger explosion tears through the Republic ship, apparently detonating some additional ordinance inside of the derelict.
<<"That was close.">> Rey adds as her X-wing soars up much higher now, gaining altitude quickly.
Poe fires off his two pair of purple hue proton torpedoes that splash against one of the old derelict cruisers. Just as their ordnance strikes key locations, the ground below is victim to the sudden concussive impact from their highly concentrated explosives. The concussive wave is further impacted by the proton bombs released, and just as Ektor described it: Boom, baby.
A spectacular explosion consumed the center of the graveyard, mushrooming up in a spire of frosted smoke while a concussive wave, paired with smaller proton torpedo concussive waves, expand out in a wide circle that stirs up snow, debris, and chaos below. The explosion is so loud they hear it over their instruments in the fighters.
Explosions beget explosions, and the southern, western, and eastern wrecks are consumed by the spreading concussive blasts and fire. Ships are engulfed, scorched, and split apart as age-old fuel cells rupture, or old arms ignite. Smaller, towering explosions can be seen from high above, and eerily enough, the clouds all the way up to the planet's ozone have parted from the heat of the bombs going off.
Poe flies over the northern stretch and shakes his head. <<"Damnit. This area avoided the blast. The cruiser didn't take to the blast. We'll have to drop in and plant it. I was hoping we could avoid it. Testor, you see any ideal landing zones?">>