Again, With Feeling

No, I don’t don’t do those oh-so-military reports anymore. Sorry. I find that you have to have your own private paramilitary force for it to make sense.

I woke up to an alarm blaring in my ear. That’s been a while. I must have slept right through, and into the next day. The robots I have diligently crawling the ‘net alert me to any mention of sentients. The implanted heuristics kicked into overdrive, then, and I was already up and out of bed, and shrugging into a flightsuit before the echoes of the alarm died away. Rounding the corner toward the entrance, I slapped the override panel on the wall, which I patched into the preflight terminal years ago. The station was already trundling my Dragon out to it’s launch cradle.  I grabbed the helmet off the table on my way by, stamped into my boots, and kicked the autoseal tabs with the longtime pilot’s practice hitch in his step. Hurtling out the irising door, and down the corridor, I found a moment to be grateful that Amananth, unlike the rest of TRI’s stations, doesn’t go in for alarms, sirens, klaxons, or any of that jazz. Steady as you go, if you please.

Winded, I tore through the launch bay, and launched myself up the Heavy Fighter’s steps, having remotely opened the cockpit hatch as I drew near. I took a moment to recheck the heads up display of TRI space – the sentient markers had just faded away from Amananth and O3. Well. Not so much of a hurry then, I guess.  I did an actual preflight, then – while checking up with the other pilots on the situation. MadCat had apparently just made it out ahead of the baddies in O3 in his HM, and was headed for a fighter. Ko-Sar_Jr also reported that he was heading for a fighter. I had launched by then, and I made a short circuit of Amananth sector with nothing to report. I was out of Amananth space and to The Stith when Pulsar lit up with a sent marker. I was deciding what to do, when Amananth lit up yet again. I’m not gonna lie. Fighting sents in Pulsar is not my favorite thing to do. I went back to Amananth.  As I jumped in, and did a circuit of the station, Joker_GdI launched, and we immediately spotted a number of drones inbound. I don’t honestly remember the classes, just a lot of juking, missiles launched, and lots and lots of flux on us both.

By the way? Joker completely deserves his reputation. He’s a beast. I downed 3 or 4 drones, but they just kept on coming. I got armored good and well, and jumped out, sending a warning to J on my way out. He was circling the station, then the gate, bobbing and weaving. Excellent flying. When the gate cleared, I jumped back in, and got a whole new set of drones inbound on me. These, if I recall, were a little less heavy, but they still beat me up pretty badly. Again. I made it out the gate with 9% armor that time. When I returned, J was down to a drone or two (apparently, mine went away when I did) so I helped him clean up, and we both docked for r/r/r. When we launched again, it was quiet for a time, then they came again, and we were once again in a fight. Now that I had a chance to watch for patterns a little more, I noticed they were coming in waves. I did a little better keeping up with J this time, but that sent was quite a slippery fella, and he kept us busy with just enough drones to keep us from giving him too much of a hard time. MadCat showed up then, and tore into the fight, followed a minute or so later by Ko-Sar. I suppose that means we’d been fighting a while, but it was more than a little hairy, and I got to admit that I have almost no idea what we fought, how long, or the rest. We both stayed up until reinforcements arrived. I’m pretty sure we both ended up in Gyre together at one point, then made a run back to the station for another r/r/r, though. I’m still getting used to the smaller scope. Most of my experience was in overall tactical command – and with a squad who flew together constantly.  The Conflux tactics have also, from what I’ve seen, changed a great deal since then – and they’re facing fewer combatants. Swamping us with numbers is very effective – far more so than it would have been vs. intact battlegroups, like I’m used to having – or even dedicated wingmen, for that matter. But I digress into tactical planning.

With 4 fighters in-system, it became much more a battle of attrition. They began sending waves of 3 or so drones of various classes at each of us, or at 3 of us, or all 4 of us – I took to intercepting my drones at about middle distance, then turning back toward the others to take potshots at their targets while mine were evading or out of range – and trying to keep track of that sneaky little sentient. Went on like that for quite a while, with some of just about everything 12 and below thrown at us at seeming random, and our pilots blasting them, and trying to get to the sent before he could send another wave. Finally, after a couple rearms, and a profligate expenditure of missiles, MadCat and I got him a bit too far away from the anomaly, while Ko-Sar and Joker continued to blast the emerging drones, and hold them off. I got a few hits in, and dinged him up, and MadCat polished him off with missiles.

When I rearmed next, I was temporarily stymied by a systems fault in my targeting subsystems. While the maintenance droids ripped off cowlings, another sentient returned, and while they were temporarily outnumbered, both MadCat and Joker were downed. The droids finally got me put back together, and I launched back into, with Ko-Sar and the just-arrived Paselja holding their own against a number of drones, which we promptly destroyed. I then covered Ko-Sar’s dock to rearm. Another group came at us, but Ko-Sar came back out just in time, and the three of us fought a holding action, watching the sentient as he watched us, perched practically on top of the Antiflux CP as his waves of drones kept coming.

We kept at it for several minutes, and then had a nice little Royal Rumble around the anomaly as MadCat and Joker returned in a gust, with waves of c5s through c12s coming at us.  They died down after little while; finally everything was quiet, and the sent marker disappeared. On Ko-Sar’s last dock, however, he noticed something as he hit the tube – he detected a flux missile launched at the station, and it impacted just before he docked. I went in for a scanner upon hearing of this, and did a complete circumference of the station on continuous scan, then on a polar orbit. I docked, uploaded the data to the station for it’s own perusal, and copied it to the CWCC mainframe, as well.

With much backslapping, we returned to the station, and I went off to write this report. That was one whopper of a battle, folks. I’ve seen bigger, but not against as few people as we had there today. Everyone there did an excellent jog of flying, and I commend them all to their government (and mine, in Ko-Sar_Jr’s case) for a job well done. I’ve been to Hyperial exactly twice since I announced we were moving – but as I also said then – I go where the flux are. Sentient incursions are the priority. I’ll be heading toward Hyperial tonight, but I’ll also be keeping an eye out toward Amananth.

I always do.

~RK

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