PHASE V : THE NIFELHEIM ARC ( 57 of 62)
“ Welcome to Hell ”
"There must be a beginning of any great matter,
but the continuing unto the end until it be thoroughly finished yields the
true glory." "The greater the obstacle, the more the glory in
overcoming it." "The meek shall inherit the Earth, the rest of us
will go to the stars."
- Sir Francis Drake
"There must be a beginning of any great matter,
but the continuing unto the end until it be thoroughly finished yields the
"The greater the obstacle, the more the glory in
"The meek shall inherit the Earth, the rest of us
will go to the stars."
21st February 2681 (2861.052); 0900 Hours (CST)
“Fears are rising today over the possibility of a galactic pandemic after multiple outbreaks of a deadly new disease has been reported.
“The first case of the plague seems to have originated with the SS Hispaniola. The civilian freighter Hispaniola reportedly salvaged a Nephilim vessel and the alien ship seems to have been carrying a plague that rapidly killed the staff of the research lab they had delivered the salvaged alien vessel to. The infection was so deadly that biohazard protocols demanded that the entire research station and her crew were forced to self-destruct yesterday. The Hispaniola had left the research station two days ago and has not been heard from since. She should be considered a plague vessel and other ships are warned not to board her but to simply report her position to the authorities.”
“The infection is fatal and at this time has no cure, or even any effective form of treatment. The precise cause of the disease is unknown but all known outbreaks have been traced to contact with the alien organisms known as the ‘Nephilim’. The booming black market trade in debris from destroyed alien vessels as souvenirs has helped spread the deadly disease, the hideous symptoms of which start with a severe skin rash followed by the skin thinning and becoming transparent before finally the internal organs liquefy as the corruption rapidly spreads through the body.
“Whether the disease can be spread person to person or only from direct contact with Nephilim material is as yet an unanswered question. If it is the former case then experts hold out little hope of containing the contagion before it sweeps through human inhabited space.
“Confederation medical agencies are currently saying that there is no need to panic but our own experts have expressed their doubts at this official line. Dr Barry Scott, of the Leslie Chambers institute talked to us at the Confederation News Network earlier today...”
The picture cut to a thin man with grey wispy hair to match in a white lab coat. “Even if a vaccine or cure is found, time is running out. If the disease spreads too fast it will be impossible to produce the drugs and treat patients fast enough to prevent the spread of the plague.”
The holoscreen returned to the image of the irritatingly ever-smiling newsreader, “It is likely in that event that only government officials and essential workers will be given the medication, in the hope of preventing total social and economic breakdown on infected worlds.
“Several local system authorities have set up quarantine measures and Vega and Sol systems have been entirely closed to incoming traffic, with military patrols blockading the jump points in the hope of preventing the fatal infection from entering the system.
“Torgo Superbase is the latest and largest victim of the plague with its medical facilities swamped and already overwhelmed less than 24 hours after the first reported case. A request for a hospital ship has been made but as yet Confederation authorities have not agreed to send one until more information on the disease emerges. By then, of course, it may be too late for those in the Torgo System.
“It seems that the greatest threat these Nephilim fleets pose to mankind is not the feared ‘ship killer’ weapons of mass destruction but rather the unknown pathogens their defeated corpses may harbor.”
Same Time, SS Boudicca
“Well that fucks that, then,” Paul Metcalfe groaned as the newsreader finished speaking.
“Don’t worry,” Jackson reassured him, “we’ve still made a tidy profit. Prices were dropping anyway. That tight-arsed bastard on dock three wouldn’t offer us half what we got per tonne for the first load.”
“You’re probably right. I think we’ve scooped up most of the larger chunks in-system anyway. We'd just use more fuel finding and chasing smaller pieces of debris.”
“Exactly,” Jackson agreed, “cuts down the profit margin.”
“So what now?” Metcalfe asked.
“We’ll have to ditch the cargo scoop for a start. The ship itself should be okay. We put everything into containers before storing it in the hold. We’ll sandblast and disinfect the hold anyway, treat it with full biohazard precautions but I reckon it’ll be OK to sell on.”
“You don’t sound worried,” said Metcalfe.
“Don’t sweat it, I've dealt with things like this before. We’ll be fine, we never handled the stuff ourselves.”
“We better get on with it, then. One of us will have to go out there and uncouple the scoop manually. We can’t risk doing it in drydock.”
“We’ll do it together,” Jackson agreed, “It’s just about a two-man job anyway. And we’ll have to ditch the EVA suits afterwards, too. Just to be on the safe side.”
“Yeah. I hate running without them, but if we’re going to be docking at a station we won't need them. And if anything happens…”
Jackson shrugged, “The chances of getting suited up in the event of a serious hull-breach or pressure loss are at best minimal anyway. We’ll just have to take our chances. Keep your fingers crossed,” he laughed.
“Righto,” Metcalfe made a show of crossing the fingers on both hands, “where are we going to go then? Torgo’s out, and we certainly can’t go to Avernus. Somewhere small but busy would be best.”
“What do you know about the operations in the outer belt here?”
“I know a guy that we might be able to offload this crate to. Otherwise we’ll have to try to sneak over to the Seggalion or Loki jump points and go from there. The minefields might be more difficult than the Elohim jump point. I mean, we’ve been through it a few times and left marker beacons. We’ll be starting from scratch again.”
“Can’t be too hard…”
“We’ll try Davey Jones’ Lock-Up first. Go from there.”
“Okay. Let’s get on with it then. Last one in the airlock’s a Kilrathi’s litter tray!”
BWS Sicily; Ready Room 0937
“You won’t believe what just happened,” announced Dani to Rat as she entered the pilots’ ready room. Her flight suit was soaked with sweat and she still wore her g-suit as she came in and flung her helmet bag down.
“What happened?” Rat demanded, his tone pregnant with concern.
“That wanker Snakebite and his mates nearly got me killed this morning.”
“Stuart,” she explained, spitting the name like she had soap in her mouth. “He and his mates in his escort flight ignored me when I asked for help. They just fucking ignored me when I needed someone to clear my six. I don’t believe it.”
“I wish I was. Lucky for me somebody else was close enough to help.”
“You’re sure he ignored you? Maybe he simply didn’t hear you?”
“Well he told me to ‘fuck off’, so I think it’s fair to say he heard me fine.”
“He’s dead,” pronounced Rat, launching himself from his chair toward the door.
“Tony, wait -- “ started Dani, but he had already stormed out of the ready-room.
“You have exactly ten fucking seconds,” Carruthers announced coldly and clearly, “to give me a good reason why I shouldn't kill you right this minute,” as he strode across the bar toward Stuart.
“What are you on about?” Stuart regarded him with a bored expression, “Piss off you Confed twat, can’t you see I’m trying to have a quiet drink with my mates? I just found out my father was one of the first of the Nephilim plague victims.”
Rat felt a momentary pang of sympathy rising in him but brutally suppressed it. “My heart fucking bleeds. It doesn’t give you the right to ignore a fellow pilot asking for help.”
“Why should I bail out your girlfriend? I don’t like you, so why should I do either of you a favor?”
“A favor?” Rat snarled. “Jesus H. Fucking Christ! She wasn’t asking to borrow a cup of sugar!”
“Don’t blaspheme,” Stuart admonished him and reinforced it with a kick to the shin.
Rat’s left hand was a blur. It shot out with the speed of a striking cobra to slam into Stuart’s head, just above his right eye, instantly raising a lump the size of a boiled egg on his scalp. Stuart tried to stand up but Tony followed the first punch up with a second. Whereas the first had been a stiff but modest jab thrown without setting himself, the right hook that followed came all the way from his toes. It crashed into Stuart with all of Rat’s 220 lbs. bodyweight behind it and Stuart crashed to the deck, knocked off his stool onto the floor.
“You fucker!” The shout from behind him gave Rat a split second’s warning before the drop kick landed in the small of his back. Rat rolled as he fell and sprung instantly back to his feet. Stuart’s friend, a tall, skinny, pale guy with the callsign “Sparky” under his nametag, charged at Carruthers trying to rugby tackle him to the floor. Rat turned his body and braced his legs to absorb the impact as the flying tackle took him waist-high. Tony twisted and got his attacker in a headlock in such a way that Sparky’s right arm was pinned uselessly against Rat’s left leg and his left arm flailed impotently out of range to do any damage on the far side. Chin tucked hard down, Sparky was fighting hard to stop Rat sinking in the chokehold, working his jaw on Rat’s forearm to try to find the nerve.
Rat grabbed his own left wrist with his right hand and tried to apply blackout pressure to the headlock. It wasn’t sunk in properly, so he started to smash his right hand into his opponents’ face to try to get an opening, but, chin down as he was, Sparky was only presenting the thickest part of his skull to Tony’s fist, which was coming off second best. A hand feebly tried to pull at his left elbow to loosen the headlock so Rat leaned back and tugged harder, trying to add gravity to the pressure applied by hoisting Sparky off the floor, but Sparky was taller than he was and he couldn’t get the leverage. He tried pulling Sparky's head up to sink the arm in under the chin better but he had a brutal Marine-style crew cut and there was nothing but stubble to try to get a grip on, apart from a sweaty, greasy forehead.
Justifying the move to himself because of the cheap shot from behind - the second in a matter of days - Rat jabbed a thumb into Sparky’s eye, eliciting a squeal of pain, anguish and very real fear. Pressing hard enough to cause sickening discomfort, but hopefully not hard enough to do permanent damage - he could feel screwed up eyelid under his thumb and not eyeball - he asked politely but firmly, “do you give up?”
“Yes! I fucking give up!” came the muffled response. Rat took his thumb out of his eye and shoved him away as he released the headlock. Sparky took several paces back, rubbing his stinging eye furiously. Blinking hard, it was brimming with tears. “You’re a fucking dead man,” he said as he turned his back and briskly walked out of the room.
“If I had a cred for every time I’ve heard that,” Rat shouted after him, “I could retire!”
Carruthers stared in puzzlement at Stuart, now lying prone on the floor with Dani on top of him, her knee in his spine and his arm twisted so far back up between his shoulder blades that there must be ligament damage if not outright dislocation. Stuart was unconscious, presumably passed out in pain, though Rat didn’t recall hearing any screams of agony, or the sounds of a scuffle, for that matter, but he’d been absorbed in his own fight. He raised his eyebrows quizzically.
“When I came in,” Dani told him, “you were busy trying to break your knuckles on the forehead of that other idiot’s skull and this bastard here,” she gave his arm another wrench, producing a faint groan of pain from her vanquished foe, “was going to blindside you, so I grabbed him. He pushed me, and I smacked him in the mouth.”
Rat noticed the fat lip Stuart was sporting and nodded appreciatively as Dani continued, “he came at me, so I used an Aikido throw to slam him to the floor with his own momentum, and then I sat on him when he tried to get up again,” she finished.
“So I see,” grinned Tony. “I think you can let him go now, he appears to have passed out.”
“Probably when I smacked his head off the deck, “ said Dani.
“Glad to see our unarmed combat techniques training wasn’t a waste of time,” Rat said dryly.
“You should see me with a knife,” Dani told him.
Rat took a second to look at the expression on her face. “After that, I’d rather not.” Rat looked around at Stuart’s remaining four mates, who were all standing sheepishly, staring at the ground or into their beers. “Anyone want to be a witness that Stuart threw the first blow?” Rat asked.
“We never saw a thing,” said one. The others stood silently. One, defiantly mute, the other two with embarrassed expressions.
“Thought not,” Tony sneered. “Bear in mind he’ll be facing charges of dereliction of duty and conduct unbecoming, so adding an assault charge isn’t going to make much difference.” Rat could understand their position. They hadn’t waded in to help Stuart, fair’s fair, but they weren’t going to drop him in it, either. Rat grudgingly admitted to himself that he’d do the same. “He left this young lady to die earlier on today, just because she was friends with me. Ask yourselves if he’s the sort of bloke you want to be associating yourselves with.” Rat nudged the prostrate Stuart in the ribs with his boot. “He can think himself lucky he got off so lightly.”
“Lightly?” The voice came from the doorway. Sparky, or “Mr. Dropkick,” had returned. His uniform was soaked down the front where he had presumably spilled water on himself while rinsing his eye out.
“Yes,” Rat repeated, “he got off lightly, under the circumstances.”
“I suppose Biggles got off lightly, too?” asked Sparky.
“He got what he deserved,” answered Rat, “but I’ve a score to settle with the bastard that got me from behind with a cheap-shot in revenge.”
“I did that, you dickhead,” admitted Mr. Dropkick proudly, or rather, Mr. “Only when his back is turned."
“Oh it was you, was it?” asked Rat as he advanced on him.
“Yeah, it was me,” Sparky grinned. “What are you going to do about it?”
Rat’s scissor kick took him under the chin, picked him up off the ground and dumped him in a heap. As he rose unsteadily to his knees, Rat stepped back and took a penalty kick at his face. It connected with spectacular force, sending Sparky spinning across the floor to collide with a table, sending glasses and bottles flying.
“That,” said Rat. Grabbing Dani’s hand they walked from the bar as a stunned silence hung in the air behind them.
0948 Hours (CST)
“As the list of Allied losses grows,” the female newsreader tried to look grave, but the muscles of her face, so used to a fixed, fake smile, refused to mould themselves to her will, “we ask if the Allied Coalition is indeed winning this war? To date, the latest figures show that the allied coalition has lost four fleet carriers, including the TCS Saratoga, TCS Bunker Hill and most recently, the TCS Valley Forge, as well as the light carrier TCS Endeavour, along with seventeen destroyers, six cruisers and several other assorted vessels, in addition to the roughly four hundred and fifty fighters lost so far." The Confed pilots watching the vidcast shifted their weight uneasily with embarrassment and the Border Worlders glared with ill-disguised contempt as the Confederation News Network neatly airbrushed out and hint of the Border Worlds forces in the fighting.
"Those losses are staggering, aren't they, Suzie?" the male newsreader flashed his dentally perfect smile at the camera.
"Yes, Dave, they are. If we are winning this war, as the politicians claim and the claimed kill ratios would indicate, why are we constantly falling back? Is this a retreat, or a rout?"
"In a press conference this morning, the decision to retreat to Nifelheim was called a 'tactical withdrawal,' but just how long can this withdrawal continue? If they continue 'falling back,' won't that leave the Sol System, and Earth itself, in jeopardy?"
"We're going to put these questions to our military analyst, Andrew Irthing, in just a few moments, right after these messages."
TCS Miles D'Arby; CIC
1044 Hours (CST)
“Are they aiming at us, or Avernus?” queried Commodore Turnbull to the radar operator. The twentyish brunette started to reply but the D’Arby’s captain, Thomas Graham, cut in.
“It doesn’t really matter, does it? We can hardly
run for it and leave the station defenseless.”
“If it came to that, captain, I would. We’re more valuable to this fight than she is right now. There’s only a skeleton crew left on her. Even if we couldn’t evacuate them, it’s less people than we’d lose trying to fight them, even if we won.”
“How much do you think that station’s worth, Commodore?” Graham asked.
“Not enough to wipe this group out over.”
“It took seven years to build. Without it, any supplies for Nifelheim II - which is not self-sufficient - need to be shuttled down in cargo-ship’s shuttles, not the bulk in-system lifters. There'll be no base to run anti-pirate operations from, so those merchantmen sitting in orbit while those shuttles carry stuff down to the surface of Nif Two are going to be sitting ducks. Not only that, but they'll have nowhere to refuel, and run back empty, because Avernus won't be here for them to collect mineral ore and what have you from. If we lose Avernus, we lose Nifelheim for the foreseeable future.”
“Goddamnit, Tom,” Turnbull shook his head, “you want to go toe-to-toe with that Bug battle group?”
“I don’t want to, no, but we’ve been picking them off a few at a time for the last couple of days. This was bound to come sooner or later. We’ve danced around and used our jab so far, but you know the fight isn’t going to go to the judges scorecards at the end of the 12th. We’re going to need a knockout.”
“True enough,” Turnbull agreed, “a couple of body blows will take the wind from their sails.”
“Mixing your metaphors as usual, sir.”
“Well, we probably backed ourselves into a corner with that strike yesterday. They probably zeroed in on us when we punched ‘em in the nose.”
“Maybe,” Graham acceded, “We’ve been using this asteroid belt as cover for days and they’re bound to zero in on us eventually. Or maybe they were just aiming a strike at Avernus. Who knows? Either way, we’re not going to get much better opportunities. We can use Avernus’ own fighters to augment our own, catch them from two directions and really land a haymaker.”
“No messing about this time, just a straight stand-up fight?”
“Well sir, the best form of defense is attack.”
“I like it. Start getting things ready.”
“Aye, aye, sir,” Graham saluted smartly and turned to the comms officer, “Get me Wing Commander Black. No - belay that - get me Captain Bell, please, as quick as you like.”
1123 Hours (CST)
“On the Confederation News Network today: Tolwyn - has his policy of ‘Eternal Vigilance’ been vindicated? We talk to Geraint Llewelyn whose new biography of the man argues that he was actually a misunderstood genius. E-mail your questions and comments for Llewelyn to us at the usual address and we’ll put them to him later in the programme. But first, let’s go to Muhammed on the news desk with the latest news headlines, starting with the latest update on the Alien Plague.”
“Thank you Susannah. Confederation medical experts are hopeful a cure will be found soon…”
1130 Hours (CST)
Deception. Subterfuge. Cunning. These were essential in successfully defeating a larger force with a smaller one. Surprise, of course, could never be underestimated in its value as a force multiplier. But in order to achieve the element of surprise it was needed to employ deception, subterfuge and low, animal cunning, all of which Robber had in abundance.
Bell was a reiver name. Reiver meant "Robber," and theft, pillage, plunder and blackmail had been the living of his ancestors when two small but warlike nations had shared a border that had been a fortified frontier since Roman times. The border reivers of the English and Scottish marches during the 16th and 17th centuries were the finest light horsemen in the whole of Europe at the time, and a parcel of rogues, villains, thieves and outlaws who made their living with lance and pistol and who brought the term blackmail into the English language. As far as extortion and protection rackets went, the riding names could have taught the Mafia something about their own family business. So maybe some of that dishonest and cunning nature had made its way to captain Bell a thousand years later through his genetic heritage.
In truth, Robber's plan was one that had been previously used, but it had a few twists thrown in. During the Vietnam war, crippling restrictions in the Rules Of Engagement had hamstrung US fighter pilots. They could only attack communist MiG fighters in the air, not on the ground, and not attack those bases they flew from. In order to get them to come up and "play," Colonel Robin Olds and the "Wolfpack" devised a plan. F-4 Phantom interceptors would pose as vulnerable and bob-laden F-105 Thunderchiefs, using their normal routes, altitudes, callsigns and flying at their usual cruising speed to maintain the masquerade, and entice the MiGs to attack them. The MiGs would then get a nasty surprise when the defenseless bombers they thought they were attacking turned out to be something with a bit more bite.
On top of this, Olds had also arranged that there would be no US aircraft north of them for the mission, allowing a relaxation of the usual ROE stating that 'bogey's had to be visually identified as hostile 'bandits' with the Mk 1 eyeball before the American pilots were allowed to shoot at them. Normally this meant that the main weapon of the F-4, the radar guided sparrow missile, which would be fired at bombers from 12 or more miles away, was often impossible to use, as the minimum launch distance was passed before proper ID could be made. With no guns and only a primitive heat-seeking missile that could be fired from directly astern of the smaller, more agile MiGs, the US pilots were fighting with not just one hand, but more like both hands tied behind their backs. Because for these missions they knew that any aircraft north of them were hostile, the rules of engagement allowed them full use of their AIM-7 Sparrow missiles and shoot the enemy in the face from long range rather than having to try to win a turning fight where the large Phantom was at a severe disadvantage to the obsolete -- but far more agile -- MiG-17s they often faced.
Olds had been pretty cheeky and even used his own name as a callsign. True, the "Thuds" used automobile manufacturers names as callsigns, such as Ford, Buick and Cadillac, and "Olds" was short for Oldsmobile, a popular make at the time, but he was also a high ranking officer and a fairly well known WWII pilot with over a dozen kills to his name from mission in the skies above the Third Reich. If the North Vietnamese intelligence had been up to scratch the mission could have been blown before it started. Instead, the tactic was used more than once, and to great effect.
Robber planned his own twist to his Trojan Horse mission. The Excaliburs posing as Jugs for this mission would be escorted by Bearcats who would be vectored away by the SWACS to a "contact," leaving the "bombers" unprotected, to entice the Bugs to attack this juicy, vulnerable target. When the Nephilim took this tempting bait, the Bearcats would turn back into the fight when they heard the "spike" calls from the Excals announcing that the Bugs were locking them up. Hopefully they would catch them in a pincer move and wipe out much of the outer CAP ring for the real strike coming a few minutes later, including the real T-Bolts that the Excaliburs were pretending to be. Or at least... that was the plan.
FROM: Major J. Reid <email@example.com>
TO: Intelligence Officer <firstname.lastname@example.org>
CC: WC <email@example.com>; Robber <firstname.lastname@example.org>
SUBJECT: AFTER ACTION REPORT REF NAO1371A
Launched 1215 Recovered 1332.
PILOTS & A/C: 4 x BEARCAT. Mjr Reid SABRETOOTH
100, Cpt. Thomas SABRETOOTH 102 Cpt. Sanchez
SABRETOOTH 104 Lt. Cunliffe(trainee) SABRETOOTH 112
LOADOUT: 4 x ImRec, 4 x HS
Rendezvoused with JUGGERNAUT flight of 4 x EXCALIBUR at Nav Point 2 and proceeded toward Nav Point 3. Approx 3 minutes from Nav Point 3 the SWACS informed us of a contact bearing down on us. We were vectored toward "BANDITS" informing us that this contact was real, and not the spurious contact we had been briefed to expect (which would have been "bogeys" or "unknown contact"). Calls from the SWACS informed us that the bandits had turned away from us and we entered a stern chase, directed by SWACS calls as the bandits were beyond the range of our own sensors. Approx 2 minutes after this, we heard the SWACS tell Juggernaut flight that bogeys were on an intercept course toward them. When we heard the CONTACT calls of Juggernaut flight, we turned back toward them, earlier than planned, because of the distance we had travelled in chasing the first group of bandits. We heard the "SPIKE" warning from Juggernaut and knew they were engaged. Our scanners picked up 8 enemy A/C moments later and we engaged the enemy with a volley of ImRec missiles, all of which were observed to hit their targets. Immediately thereafter, the SWACS warned us that the group of bandits we had been chasing were heading toward us at extreme velocity. We therefore broke away from the developing dogfight between Juggernaut and the 8 Nephilim fighters (which we identified as 4 x Manta and 4 x Moray) leaving them outnumbered 2 to 1, which was undesirable but unavoidable. We were vectored toward the incoming bandits which we identified as 6 x Squid. We fired off a volley of ImRecs again, resulting in 2 confirmed kills, before the merge whereupon the dogfight broke up into a series of smaller engagements. Cpt Thomas managed to stay on my wing during the turning fight but the trainee, Lt. Cunliffe, lost sight of Cpt. Sanchez early in the fight when Sanchez entered a rolling vertical scissors with one of the remaining Squid. Nevertheless, Lt. Cunliffe managed to claim 2 kills and rejoined our flight at Nav Point 6 approx 25 minutes after the start of the engagement. He had chased a pair of Squid quite some distance toward the Nephilim battle group before expending all his HS on them, destroying both. The 4 remaining squid were destroyed, 2 by myself, 1 each by Captains Sanchez and Thomas, and we turned our attention back to Juggernaut, who were still heavily engaged with several enemy A/C. I observed a single Moray attempting to egress and ordered Sanchez to attack it whilst Captain Thomas and myself engaged a pair of Manta that were attacking Juggernaut 4. I destroyed 1 Manta and Captain Thomas shared in the destruction of the second. One enemy A/C was observed running away at full AB trailing sparks and debris but Juggernaut Flight had 2 members of their flight suffering heavy damage and we decided not to pursue but to escort them (Juggernaut) out of the area.
Mjr Reid 3 destroyed + 1 shared
Cpt Thomas 1 destroyed + 1 shared + 1 damaged
Cpt Sanchez 2 destroyed
Cpt Cunliffe 2 destroyed
My own A/C, 100, and Sanchez' A/C, 104, suffered minor armor damage during the engagement, but no system damage occurred to any A/C from the flight.
NOTES & ADDITIONAL REMARKS: N/A
FROM: Captain Bell <email@example.com>
TO: TCS Miles D'Arby Intel <firstname.lastname@example.org>
CC: WC <email@example.com>
SUBJECT: AFTER ACTION REPORT REF NAO1375C
Launched 1235, Recovered 1402.
PILOTS & A/C: 4 x Thunderbolt. Cpt Bell
STORMCLOUD 1 (AS01) Lt Stanley STORMCLOUD 2
(AS07) Lt O'Brien (trainee) STORMCLOUD 3 (AS02) Lt Lennox STORMCLOUD 4 (AS05)
LOADOUT: 6 x IFF 1 x Heavy Torp; Autoturret.
Mission went fairly smoothly until the IP. SWACS vectored our escort flight (PUSSYCAT) onto hostiles some 9 minutes away from the target, and we were never in contact with them again after this. Due to a slightly below optimum output on the main reactor of the number 2 A/C in the flight (AS07) we were approx 2 mins behind schedule for our TOT. The TARCAP birds (ROUND TABLE) were already engaged in heavy fighting and our close escort had decided to RTB after expending all their missiles in a short but frantic engagement to let our attack mission have a clear run-in to the target, slightly further behind our Wild Weasel coverage than expected.
We were engaged by Squids and Skates as we ran in but stayed on target, allowing our shields and automated turrets to protect us while we attempted to achieve a lock-on with the heavy torpedoes. AAA fire was remarkably light -- many thanks to the Iron hand/Wild Weasel crews (LIGHTNING)! As briefed, everyone called their lock and we fired all 4 torpedoes in a single volley, then broke sharply away to starboard. Switching to IFF missiles we fired these at targets of opportunity as we exited the target area, resulting in several kills (see below). We did not enter a turning fight and so let several more enemy A/C go, even though these were damaged by our fire.
All four torpedoes were observed to strike the primary target, the engineering section of the Leviathan class carrier, though the engines were still running as we egressed, despite sustaining heavy damage.
Cpt Bell 1 x squid destroyed 1 x skate destroyed
1 x squid probably destroyed 2 x moray damaged
Lt 'Brien 1 x skate destroyed 2 x squid damaged
Lt Lennox 1 x moray destroyed, 1 x squid damaged
DAMAGE/LOSSES: light armor damage to STORMCLOUD 2 (AS07)
NOTES & ADDITIONAL REMARKS: Reactor output on AS07 down to 88%. Crew chief aware of gripe
FROM: Major Svensson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
TO: TCS Miles D'Arby Intel <email@example.com>
CC: WC<firstname.lastname@example.org>; Captain Bell <email@example.com>
SUBJECT: AFTER ACTION REPORT REF NAO1377B
Launched 1240 Recovered 1411.
PILOTS & A/C: 4 x Thunderbolt. Mjr Svensson
JUGGERNAUT 400 Cpt Woods JUGGERNAUT 404 Cpt
McKaig JUGGERNAUT 403 Cpt Wilson JUGGERNAUT 420
LOADOUT: 6 x IFF 1 x Heavy Torp; Autoturret.
As we ran into the target, our escort (FANG) flight became embroiled in the general melee. A few seconds from the target, we observed 3 or 4 torpedo strikes on the engineering section from the preceding strike (STORMCLOUD), which was obviously late as our TOT was arranged to be deconflicted. These hits did not destroy the engines, so we attacked the engineering section instead of switching, as hoped, to the bridge.
No enemy fighters attempted to intercept us during our run in, seemingly these were still engaged with STORMCLOUD leaving us with a clear shot. My own torpedo finished off the engineering section and I ordered the rest of the flight to switch to the secondary target of the Leviathan bridge. However, the time taken to re-orient our attack meant we came under prolonged AAA fire and were engaged by several flights of interceptors. Cpt McKaig (JUGGERNAUT 403) took command of the rest of the flight as a 3-ship and I switched to A2A to give them some sort of protection from enemy fighters. Captain Woods (404) blew up during his run in, suspected to have been destroyed by a missile turret that caused damage to Cpt McKaig as well. No eject call was heard and no SARBE was seen on scanners. Captains Wilson and McKaig had to break off their attack early, and although Cpt McKaig fired his torpedo it was not observed to strike the target. I was engaged by several enemy A/C, Squids and Morays, and sustained some system damage before these enemy fighters were taken out by our escort (FANG) and the TARCAP (ROUND TABLE) flights, allowing us to egress without further harassment from enemy fighters.
Mjr Svensson 2 x Moray destroyed 3 x squid damaged
DAMAGE/LOSSES: Captain Woods JUGGERNAUT 404 MIA, heavy armor damage to all three remaining A/C, light to moderate system damage to JUGGERNAUT 400.
NOTES & ADDITIONAL REMARKS: Gun camera HD was wiped on JUGGERNAUT 400 due to system damage, meaning Mjr Svensson's victories will need to be officially confirmed by corroboration from other members of JUGGERNAUT flight, or those pilots in FANG and ROUND TABLE flights.