Log:Resistance: Friends in Low Places Part II
Bonadan isn't pretty. One of the corporate Sector's industrial cornerstones, the planet has been heavily developed, with dense cities creeping up between the ugly, barren expanses of strip-mined terrain. At the center of several mining complexes, the Mamertine Medium Security Penal Colony is placed, where criminals from around the Outer Rim are sent to labor for the Corporate Sector Authority's profit.
The *Gatekeeper 3*, a bulbous customs cruiser (Etti Lighter class, for those familiar with the CSA) hangs in high orbit above the prison's hemisphere, monitoring traffic to and from the facility and surrounding mines. The CSA Picket Fleet maintains a notable presence in the system, with Bonadan and the sister world of Roonadan guarded by a Marauder corvette (*Tanhauser*) and the sluggish, distant bulk of an archaic Invincible-class Dreadnought, the *Resolute*. With any luck, the ground team will accomplish a discreet extraction, and neither corvette nor dreadnought will have time to play any part in stopping the rescue.
But *just in case*, a number of friendly ships and fightercraft were scattered around the vicinity. Five Tionese fighters were waiting on various landing pads around Spaceport Southeast II and III, engines primed and ready for takeoff, should the escape transport and the friendly freighters in orbit need them. Crass banter volleys between the pirates, over private comms.
But it never goes smooth. Those monitoring comm traffic will note a spike in chatter over CSA channels, followed by a general alarm. Those near enough will see a small trail of smoke rising from the penal colony shortly before a Y-4 shuttle hastily streaks away, with a half dozen old IRD-A fighters in close pursuit, blaster cannons spitting away. The *Gatekeeper 3* in high atmosphere broadcasts a warning to the T-6, <<Shuttle Ceti Nine: power down shields and return to the surface immediately, or you will be fired upon. This is your only warning.>>
Like a raptor in wait, /Inevitable/ hangs in near orbit, awaiting the results of the operation on teh surface below. Callax, seated in the pilot's seat, sits quietly in the pilot's seat, while his Bothan comrade, Page Iwirney, mans the sensors and the missile console. Merek, of course, is again manning the skipray's laser turret.
"Let's keep the guns hot," says Callax, keeping an eye on the displays, his pupils stretched and warped into the odd goat-like shapes that allow him his superior vision. "I love my brothers and sisters in Black Squadron, but I can almost guarantee you that they're leaving with explosions at their backs."
Poe runs his hands along a row of switches to bring the ...ghosting...Ghost to life. "Hey Jess, Snap.. wake up back there. We've got some movement on the sensors." The golden hued engines flicker to life and the vessel that had taken floundering trip in high orbit begins to show signs of intent. Poe can hear both Jess and Snap in the corridors of the Ghost running to their positions while BB-8 arrives to man the communications station.
It isn't long before the encrypted comms from the CSA comes over the loud speakers.
CSA COMMS: <<This is Captain Haummer; I need Tanhauser on station now to launch all fighters. Mamertine prison is reporting a riot with shots fired and a confirmed unsanctioned craft has departed the vicinity. Intercept and destroy that craft.">>
Snap keys in his internal comm. "That doesn't sound good, Poe." Then Jess, "What's our play here? There's a lot of moving parts." Poe grumbles as he orients the ship toward the signal and keys in the encrypted comms for the Resistance. <<"Hey guys, Ghost here. Our friends are about to have a lot of company. We can make runs at the cruiser, or the corvette they're ordering in place, or we can slag their fighters and try to punch out of here under fire from the cap ships. They'll be able to take more of a beating if we keep fighters off of them.">>
As Dyannah was behind the controls of the Y-4 Freighter and all the bad things were happening. Jax looks at Sesti, "Get to the turrents. I take the other one. Let see if we can help get out of this alive." Then running to strap himself into one of the turrents. Jax peels off his helmet and slips on the headset. Then works the console back and forth getting a feel for it. "Alright, I can do this. The force is with us."
The first thing that Sesti does once they're on is go check the other operatives and the prisoners that they rescued. She has pulled her medic bag round the front of her, for easier access to what she needs. "I can fire a gun if there is one not manned," she offers as she kneels down at the ankles of the two women chained together, and sprays numbing agent where the cuffs have rubbed them raw. "Someone have a torch to get these off?" she asks as she straightens and looks for direction to one of the turbolaser turrets.
Merek has taken his time to look into all the weapons, while he begins to adjust them, then he works on the targeting with a nod to Callax, "Alright, looks like we're in the clear for firing," he says, while he begins to check the skies.
The planned dropout from hyperspace brings them into a position that makes going into a high orbit around Bonadan relatively easy, it being not only feasible but the safest of any approaches that they could plot. 'Fiver' chitters and whistles from behind Captain Lintra, unhappy with the unaccustomed ship. Flying her T-6 solo might not be the brightest of ideas that the ace pilot has had but it was the fastest to scramble into a position that might aide those leaving the planet with a great red target overlaying their signal and not tell the universe who they are.
Ektor fires the thrusters of his Y-wing to guide the recon bomber into an abrupt takeoff and vertical climb as the day gets exciting. <<FINALLY. I was starting to think we came all this way just to listen to a mission go all professional and drek,>> he quips with a crooked grin, throwing acceleration to full, and drawling to his fellow pirates, <<Kick them bug birds off the shuttle's tail, yeah? I'm gonna knock on the gate and see if they let me in.>> As he talks, the Tionese bomber flips fire control to torpedoes and establishes a target lock. "Genius? I'm doing the thing, again." A mournful warble is his droid's answer.
<< I can kick in the Gatekeeper, Pretty Boy. Zap and the gang can probably handle the IRDs, but them Crescents->> the forward-swept crescent profile of the sleek Zeta fighters lends the nickname, <<Tell Jess they're the reason we can't go to a nice beach, yeah?>>
"And...there they are." Callax spots the corvette and its escort in orbit, thanks to those ridiculous eyes. "Time get started! Merek, turn the lasers on that rear line of fighters with me - Page, get a torpedo lock on that Marauder."
With that he pushes the ship down, hurtling from on high, spewing ionization bursts from its linked guns upon the rear rank of the Zetas; the crackling bolts of blue light smash into the ship, even as Page busies herself with getting a target lock on the big boat. Hurray for the element of surprise!
"Fighters it is. We're with you, Poe." Snap adds on after Tallie's voice has sounded over the loud speakers. Jess rolls her eyes at Ektor's comment, but she makes no quip back. She's all business, seated in the docked fighter oriented toward the stern of the Ghost. Her gloved hands flex before taking the sticks to guide the weapon systems, but she'll have to grow used to this orientation.
"Heading into the parade, guys. Hang on." All three chuckle and hoot as they dive toward the planet to begin intercepting the fighters.
In the control cabin of the Ghost, Poe is seated and strapped in place. One hand uses the yoke intended for two, while his other hand is on the targetting computer. Proximity alerts are already sounding, and the pending atmosphere alarm goes off as well. He flips both switches and increases their speed. "Priority targetting set, team. Smoke 'em if you see 'em." Poe orders his crew, which heralds the red quad of lances that emits from the cannons. One of the newer Zetas is slagged, and Snap tags a second with a blue spray of ion cannons. "Tagged one, Jess. See if you can hit him," Snap calls, his voice deep yet strained from the rush. No response from Jess implies she misses; both Snap and Poe chuckle before Jess clears her throat and they grow quiet again.
Jax inhales as he lines up a shot at the lead IRD-A in pursuit of the transport. He lockes on the 'engine' exposed right behind the cockpit and pulls the trigger as he exhales. Moment's latter the fighter craft explosdes. <Splashed one. These guys aren't happy with us. You think we busted out of their prison or something.>
"What does Poe say Fiver? He can fly anything? Wooooo," she yells. It is lost in the relatively large cockpit. "Ah, well, that is one down and how many to go?" Only those close to her know the tic she has when she is feeling the pressure; she runs a finger under the knotted white synth scarf that she never flies without. "Here we go, line us up, Fiver." She presses the trigger on the helm control and the twin lances of lasers removes another in the Zeta train. <Splash Zeta 3> is announced calmly over general coms. <On your port, Ghost>
"Right," Sesti says to Jax as she tucks the hypo back and then shrugs the medpac over her shoulder to set it on the ground next to the former prisoners. Sliding into the seat she pulls on the headset so she can hear what's going on. She quickly flips the switches, then takes a hold of the yoke and breathes. As Jax chooses his target and fires, she aims and fires, her shot missing the one he hit when it fireballs, and instead hitting the one next to it. She takes a moment to look through the glare of the disintegrating ship, seeing smoke from the other one. After a moment she shakes her head. <Hit one, but it is still flying,> she says with disappointment as she can see hull pieces flying away in the wake of the fighter. "Copy that," Merek says, then he takes a moment to line up with the Zetas on the targeting computer, while he takes a moment to fire the cannons. The lasers streak along in space and strike into the shields, while he begins to line up for another sweep.
What had initially looked to the Corporate Sector Authority as a common prison break exploded into a two pronged battle against ferocious and unexpected opponents. The Tionese fighters in concert with the guns on the fleeing Y-4 slash apart three of the outdated IRD-A, leaving a fourth heavily damaged. In return, the lead HLAF tajes a light hit, earning a drawled, <<Aww, give us a kiss,>> from the Stardrop.
In orbit, the sudden attack of three gunships scatters the squadron of Zeta fighters, leaving two destroyed, and the survivors angry.
Ektor, meanwhile, has begun a solo attack run on the Etti Lighter, gaining a missile lock, while weaving the old Y-wing between torrents of quad laser fire. A dumb grin bends his lip. <<Here it comes...>>
With the sudden burst of fire from the Authority's fighters, and targets to be thumped, Callax decides against firing ionization this round; while Page prepares to launch a bluebird into the Marauder and Merek's got the guns, Callax begins to twirl and spin the ship through nose-bleeding arcs that somehow - because he's a professional, by the Force - do not keep the crew from being able to land shots as they require.
"Loose that torpedo," he commands Page, "Mister Merek! Open up on the weakest of the surviving Zetas behind us. I don't want them thinking they can have their way. Baba! See to those shields!" Baba, of course, being his new R2 unit, since poor Fang has been destroyed. The droid beeps from the engineering compartment, and gets to work restoring the gunship's deflector field...
"Popped one's shields--" Poe calls, but Snap cuts him off. "I got him, Poe.. he's flouderin'!--" Jess growls over the comms as the rear guns sing, dotting the void of space with cyclic rate of fire. "I have one blinking with shields, he's not happy about that! Poe, keep disrupting them with irregular flight patterns. I'm getting good firing patterns here.."
"Anything for you, Jess." Snap laughs at Poe's response. <<"Roger Starbird; Jess said she's got one with low shields. I marked it.">> The Ghost moves into the thick of it, trying to disrupt flight patterns of the fighters.
Jax fires at the next IRD-A to show up on his scope. <Don't know why anybody flys a fighter without shields in this age. I mean talk about a cheap boss.> He says pulling the trigger and destroying another target as he sheers a wing off the fighter. <How's things looking on your side?>
Sesti eyes up the one with the see through hull that's still flying and takes another shot. This time they seem to be expecting her, and despite their lack of covering, they seem to have pretty good reflexes, trying to keep what's left of their fighter in one piece. <They hope that all the people they chase are as bad as me> Sesti replies as she misses her target.
Merek lines up for another shot on the Zetas, while he looks to Page, and offers a smile for the woman. "Watch this," he says, then he thumbs up to Callax, while he locks on with the targeting computer, swinging the turret about to shoot where the ship will be, not where it is, the lasers striking into the shields until they begin to fade upon the ship. He then begins to shift the weapon.
The T-6 's disc of swept back wings shudders hard as they are hit by two Zeta's that turned back in their pursuit of the shuttle. Whistling in its restraints, Tallie watches the droid on her periphery plug into the port to begin repairs. They roll out of the flight path they were on to rise above the Zetas and swoop down on them like the raptor the ship resembles in its present configuration. "Galaxies, when Ektor starts up like that, hold on, Fiver. It's going to get interesting."
The fleeing 'Ceti Nine' with the fugitives aboard is struggling to keep its shields up, but as atmosphere thins gradually to black as it reaches high orbit, the pursuing IRD-A craft break off and abandon pursuit. Though the Etti Lighter *Gatekeeper 3* could still threaten them, its shields are smashed by volleys of proton toroedoes fired from the deceptively nimble Longprobe, which continues its seeming mismatched duel with the many quad laser turrets of the cruiser. Hull armor breached at one point by the toroedoes, the bulbous craft tries to rotate to bring stronger shields to bear.
Meanwhile, the Marauder stabs out with tractor beams, seeking without success to snare one of the attacking vessels long enough to bring its powerful turbolasers into the fight. The Zeta class fighters still outnumber the skipray and pair of freighters, but with each failed strafing run, their confidence seems to palpably fade.
When Callax punches /Inevitable/ into a series of acrobatic maneuvers, Page just isn't ready for it; she's a naval officer, not a snub jock, and the sudden jinking and rolling causes her to delay on the launch, sending the torpedo spiralling away into the void. "Damn it, Witchy," she bellows, fingers playing away at the gunnery console to get another torpedo loaded in the tube, "Will you WARN me when you do that? I can feel my hair getting gray already!"
"Sorry, darling," Callax calls, his eyes fixed ahead and his tone tight, "I'll try and do that. Pump another bluebird up their arses, that's a good officer. Mister Merek! Turn your attention onto the Marauder, won't you? We're going to give them something to pay attention to that /isn't/ the prison shuttle." Because that's what they are, of course, one big gray gun-studded gadfly.
The ship dives for the Marauder, pouring ion bolts into its shields while Page looses another torpedo at the ship; this time all shots land, doing their dirty worst against a far larger target. Meanwhile, poor Baba is busy trying to replenish the shields further while being rattled around in the engineering compartment from all the hurtling hither and yon. Good thing the Maker invented magnetic foot-clamps!
"Ahh, Damn it.. I pulled on that one." Says Poe, cueing the moaning from the other two. "WHAT?!-- I'm /sorry/, I thought I had a good line up and then I choked."-- "Well, my shot's ruined." Laments Snap, who hit nothing but void and sighed. "Same," issues Jess, earning Poe's indignant "Well, if you guys could see what I'm dealing with up here.. you might have a little sympathy.." BB-8 warbles, and all of them laugh. "Yeah, pal. The only ones needing sympathy now are our shields. Good work, buddy.--" Jess cuts him off. "Bee-Bee, if he pulls again, I want you to shock him."-- Snap chuckles. "You really going to take orders from the Great Destroyer, BB-8?" Snap's deep voice is riddled with humor. Poe laughs too hard to truly answer; harder when Jess grunts.
The Ghost is still in the thick of the fight. Despite the banter, the original Black Squadron has been putting up a hell of a fight.
<You'll get the next one.> Jax calls to his wife and then the break orbit into the waiting arms of the Gatekeeper. Jax rotates his turrent around and opens fire. <Get Back, Get Back, Get Back!> He calls out to the large transport.
"Aw, Fiver, they're all upset. What's left of them." The Zeta and T-6 find themselves in a face off flying at each other though on different planes of attack. At the last moment Lintra feints, rising out of the fight, and takes the shuttle to the limit of its caps by throttling back hard, going into a hard turn and firing up the Zeta's aft engines as it flies by their last position. <Splash, going to call that Zeta 6>
Merek nods a bit, "Copy," he says, then he switches his target to the Marauder, beginning to fire on it while he checks his weapon. "Alright, looks like we're doing well," he adds then to Callax, with a look to Page, "So, would you like to get a drink after this?" he asks.
Three things went well for the attackers: first, the *Gatekeeper 3* is stricken with a mortal volley of proton toroedoes, being consumed in a sudden and catastrophic explosion as the reactor core deep inside the vessel is breached. The second piece of luck is that no fire is directed at the Y-4 shuttle. The final piece of luck is that it appears the Invincible class Dreadnought will not complete its calculations in time to join this furious fight.
Everything else went to hell.
The tractor beam operators aboard the Marauder snare three ships in an impressive display of skill, and the corvette's main guns open up on the suddenly more sluggish targets. The pirate starfighters claim their pound of flesh in a sudden attack on the Zeta-19 squadron, but the military grade fightercraft turn back around and batter the Tionese, damaging three.
For all Callax's evasive piloting, the lance of gravitons snags /Inevitable/ on the attack run; it isn't a total slowdown, but suddenly the ship is made of a denser grade of lead, and tethered to the larger corvette without chance of escape in the moment. "Damn it," Callax hisses as the Marauder begins to try and hammer the ship with its turbolasers, "Damn it!" He's barely able to avoid the salvo, and cannot escape otherwise. When Tallie's ship is hit as well, and its deflectors drop to nothing, his pale face hardens to marble. "Fire, Page," he says in a flat voice. "Everything you can. We can't let this bastard kill us here."
"Aye, sir," Page replies, having gone somber herself thanks to the chill in Callax's voice, something that she's apparently well acquainted with. When Merek speaks, she gives him a look that is half warning, half in disbelief, then she fires the torpedo.
Baba is the hero of the day, apparently, bringing the shields back to full. There's going to be a lot of heavy fire coming their way and all.
If this were a funny movie, then cue the laughing. The Ghost is caught in a tractor beam and everyone lurches. BB-8 goes flying into the corridor, his warbling worries fading with the distance. "--What now?" Laments Jess, groaning.-- "Poe? Did you pull that time too?" Groans Snap.
"I can fix this." Poe replies back in his usual way and his team members have to trust that he can. "BB-8, where are you, pal?!" More debris falling in the background heralds the droid uncovering itself as it finally rolls back in, a Fizzyglug can smashed against his head. "Nav computer, buddy. Let's prep a course."
Poe flips the switch for his engines which begin to channel the excess coolant intake and sudden injection of higher yield fueling components. Golden engine contrails suddenly burst brighter as Poe flexes the true strength of this heavily modified freighter. "...there she is.." Poe mumbles endearingly, smiling as he shoves the lever forward to increase the Ghost's speed. Alarms blare all over the ship, the hull protests, but they break away. For the first time, Poe takes hold of the yoke with both hands, and he angles them away from the Marauder and toward their pirates. <<"Hey Zap, have your people fly to me. I'm gonna get these goofballs off your tails.">>
"Ready, Poe!" Declares Snap and Jessika's silence always served as affirmation. The Ghost came in guns blazing, tagging one ship hard and splitting a second into explosive slag.
<He wanted you to be a captain?> Sesti asks, something in the tone akin to amused skepticism. She turns her attention the Marauder. <Well, something I can hit, at least>.
Merek looks back to the controls from Page with a thumbs up, while he grins a bit. Then he takes a moment to line up on the Marauder. He can't do a lot with laser cannons, all the same he does his best to fire on it. He strikes, the shields shifting away a bit further while he spins up, "Come on," he swipes a few switches.
The sleek form of the shuttle lights up like a Zeltron fireworks as the shields ablate to nearly zero and the the port wing is blackened with the striations of laser fire. Inside, Tallie is shaken so hard when the tractor snares them that she is going to be wishing for a hot tub to get the crick out of her neck. Fiver knows what to do and is already plugged in to continue working on their shield. She reports over coms, <Starbird has a tractor on it. Only light damage to report.> The engines begin to redline even with aux systems channeled into them. Gritting her teeth, Tallie holds on.
The transmission from Ghost to Zappa draws a wry, << I hear you, Pretty Boy. Unload right in their faces, yeah?>> The mismatched Tionese fightercraft swirl and accelerate, hyperjump coursed laid in. Ektor guides his wishbone through the chaotic dogfight, drawing a pair of Zeta-19s, but handling the old warhorse like a show pony. <<Shuttle is almost clear, let's get outta here, yeah?>>
The main guns of the Marauder class corvette *Tanhauser* stab out through the void, smashing through the shields of the *Inevitable*, and causing hearts through the strike force to skip a beat when they lance through the *Starbird*, sending the vessel rotating in place as explosions spread through its subsystems.
The shock of the Tannhauser's turbolaser assault rattles Callax in his seat; as sparks play across the console, the yoke goes dead for but a moment before he's able to steer us out. "Damnation," he hisses, and then Tallie's ship starts to tumble in space - his gaze is momentarily fixed on the dying vessel, unable to escape it, such are his perfect eyes. The blood freezes in him, his flesh is ghostly matter. For a moment, Callax does not exist.
And then suddenly the ship is pulling away, punching free; Page's furred hands are on the copilot's yoke, and she pulls /Inevitable/ away as Callax in his momentarily frozen state beholds the pod eject free, snagged by the Ghost as it makes its escape. And then he is alive again, fingers dipping, playing across the navicomputer keys, charging the gunship's motivator.
Hyperspace welcomes them.
<<"Leave it to me, Zap. See you all on the other side.">> Poe says, angling the Ghost so that they could block any future pursuit of the pirates. He glances left to see Ektor there with them; it seemed the two had the same idea. "Hang on guys, it's about to get crazy here.." Poe warns Snap and Jess. He's about to begin his assault when Jess's voice breaks his concentration for a moment. "Poe, they took out Tallie's ship."
One fighter is spaced. A second follows it. Then a third leaves the Pirates' wake clear of hostiles save the corvette responsible for the Starbird's destruction.
The Ghost sails away from the scene of its crime to intercept the last known sensor trail for the Starbird. BB-8 makes quick work of his scan and hones in on the two signals left adrift in the void. He engages the tractor beam. "BB-8's got them--" Snap comes over comms. "I'm suited up, I'll grab them and bring them in." Jess follows. "I'm coming to tether you, Snap. Do not go alone." It's Poe's turn to trust his team, and he does. "Those coordinates in the computer, pal?" BB-8 warbles. "Good.. hang on." The moment they were free, Poe pulled back the lever and the Ghost shot from view in a flash of gold and blur of green.
Merek feels as the ship's shields take that blast, then he's shaken in his seat, before he begins to work on the laser cannons. He nods then to Page, while he speaks to Callax, "They'll be fine, you need to get back to us," he says. He fires as the cannons shift into the Marauder, while he watches as they shift into hyperspace while he spins the weapon down and begins to check the switches.
Jax takes another shot on Maruader trying to do some damage to the ship since it had took out one o fhte friendlys. < I hope somebody can find that pilot and pull them out.> He says as the ship he's on with the contact for this whole mess starts to escape.
Ozone, burning exotics and smoke fill the cockpit after the turbo lasers have laid their love on the T-6.
"Eject. Eject. Fiver. I'm not losing you."
The boards on the shuttle are wailing its end as the engines go off line and the tractor beam can pull with no resistance. Underneath the priorities of getting out of the ship a dark song sings in Tallie's ears.
"Ready, Fiver" < Starbird ejecting. I repeat Starbird ejecting > Clutching the seat restraints, one handed she presses the eject button and nearly blacks out with the Gs. She is adrift in space in a small fragile bubble. Fiver escapes as well.
One by one, the various craft streak out of the system: the 'Ceti Nine' they had come to see out, the Inevitable, the mismatched handful of pirate fightercraft.. Some take parting shots at the MArauder, but the warship's shields hold strong. Ektor's Y-wing lingers in the system while the crew of the Ghost carry out their rescue; the Tionese lieutenant slips into Poe's usual role of waiting to see the others safely out, before punching his own hyperdrive.
Moments after the last of the raiders have fled, the two-kilometer long cylindrical bulk of an Invincible-class dreadnought blinks into reality, it's micro-jump mere moments too slow.