Eta Wing (Port Hedland System)

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Eta Wing
Eta-wing-porthedland.png
Date 2654.139.0600
Fighter Scimitar
Wingmen Joseph Khumalo
Other Friendly Ships Drayman at Nav 1.
Medal Bronze Star
Objectives Escort Drayman back to the Tiger's Claw
Previous Rho Wing (Brimstone System)
Omicron Wing (Cheng-Du System)
Next Xi Wing (Port Hedland System)



Mission Layout

Images

The Memoirs of Lieutenant Colonel Carl T. LaFong

I had pulled one of those thrilling "flying bus" assignments while we were in the Port Hedland System. Instead of cruising in a Scimitar, I was moving fuel in a Drayman to Planck's Star, where a Kilrathi destroyer had decimated the storage facilities. With pilots at a premium, it was absolutely necessary, but extremely boring.

Spirit and Knight formed Eta Wing and flew the most dangerous assignments in the system. When I returned to the carrier, I made a point to meet with them and talk about their missions. Flying those "buses," it was easy to lose your fighter-pilot edge. By keeping up with the action on the Claw, I could at least try to hold onto some of it.

"I was more concerned about the success of this mission than any other I had flown," recalled Spirit. "On most defensive sorties, I protect ships manned only by military personnel. The Drayman I would escort back to the carrier, though, held a TCSO troupe of entertainers. These were civilians, and I felt a special sense of responsibility. Their safety was paramount, and failure would have crushed morale on the Tiger's Claw."

Knight remembered the first dogfight on the mission. "Two wings of Jalthi came out of an ion cloud right away. It was only four fighters, but their firepower was more than you'd find in twelve Gratha...and the Jalthi are the only Kilrathi fighters who sport neutrons. I was petrified," he added.

"The two wings came at us from the left and right," Spirit said. "My strategy was to try and take on out as soon as possible. I wanted to even up the odds, so I told Knight to attack my target. We headed right, toward the nearest wing, with our afterburners running hot. I was hoping to circle behind them and hit the trailing Jalthi from the rear."

"The Jalthi saw us before we could really get behind them, but we were really moving and with a few twists, turns, and rolls, we stayed away from their guns on the first pass," Knight recollected. "I was on full guns and I think Spirit had armed the neutrons. I followed her in as she rolled right, turned hard left, and blasted away at the engine ports of the Jalthi. I almost collided with a chunk of debris, and launched a Javelin that almost sent the pilot into conniptions. The Javelin missed, but we hammered the rear of the plane and it erupted. The rest of the dogfight was just standard tactics against the Jalthi. Break and attack. Slide away with the afterburners, and make every shot count."

"We hit Nav 1 and the Drayman immediately jumped into the system," Spirit said. "We had the jump point all to ourselves and glided into position behind the transport and set speed to 150 KPS. The Drayman wouldn't waste any time in getting to the carrier. It would cruise at max velocity."

"Three Gratha made a beeline for the Drayman when we were still 55,000 kilometers from the carrier. We were too far away to count on any assistance. I taunted all three, called break and attack, and tried to lead them away from the transport."

"Knight and I were at full speed and I almost collided with one of the two Gratha who had answered our insults. That's when I slowed to 300 KPS. I wanted to be able to slip behind the enemy targets when they turned off after an attack. I didn't want to fly right by them. I went after the ship that was still attacking the Drayman." Mariko paused to gather her thoughts.

"I'm not sure whether I hit the first with guns and then a Javelin or it was the other way around, but he went down. The Drayman was now safe, since the last two Gratha had taken a personal interest in our fighters. Knight scored with a tremendous shot with a Dart and I had to use the mass drivers to take out the third. I'd used my heat-seekers, and I'm not a very good shot with the dumb-fires I had left."

From all accounts, the TCSO show was a rousing success. The zero-gee dancers apparently turned weightlessness into a tool and wowed the crowd with their precision moves. One pilot described it as like watching a group of playful dolphins glide through the water.

I remember how miffed I was about missing the show. Saranya Carr, star of Luna Jones, Jumpscout and one of my favorite actresses, had really made an impression on everyone aboard the carrier. Oh, the sacrifices we make.

Preflight Conversations

Talk to SHOTGLASS

Welcome back, Maverick. Heard about the TCSO show?
I hear the Bob Hope holo's a riot. I love ol' Ski-nose...
Retired almost five centuries ago, but you can't keep a good comic down.
But seriously, I hear the show may not make it. Too many kitties nearby.
Young punks mostly, but in Grathas - top-of-the-line bad news.
The furballs must think their kittens're better than our vets.
And they might be right, if you're talking about a kitten in a Gratha.
Even an amateur's dangerous in one of them...

Talk to HUNTER

C'mere, mate. Maniac's teachin' me 'ow to fly. Can you believe it?
Todd Marshall
Someone needs to -- you're dangerous, and not just to the Kilrathi.
Ian St. John
I'm dangerous? I'm dangerous!
This from the guy who goes to afterburners the instant 'e smells a target!
Todd Marshall
Well, at least I go after 'em. Some of you old guys don't always do that.
Ian St. John
I 'ate to admit it, mate, but you're right about some of the 'old guys.'
Knight, Paladin, some others, they must be cat lovers...or pacifists.
But don't lump me with that lot, mate.
The more Kilrah blood I smell, the nastier I get.

Talk to MANIAC

Hey, Maverick? I feel like griping about wingmen. Care to join in?
Take Knight, for example. He flies like an old lady. No vision...
...and he couldn't find a target if his wingman's life depended on it.
Ian St. John
Which it usually does...
Todd Marshall
Yeah. And Angel...Always studying, planning. Just fly, I say.
Ian St. John
Anybody on the the Claw you don't mind flyin' with, squirt?
Todd Marshall
First off, let's watch the squirt cracks. And second...
Course there're a couple of pilots I don't mind flying with.
You're not too bad, Hunter -- almost as good as me. And there's Iceman...
Ice is scary, man. I mean, I'm in this for the flying...
He's in it for the killing, I think.

Mission Briefing

Mission Briefing. Port Hedland System, 06:00 hours, 2654.139.

Peter Halcyon
I know you're all excited about tomorrow's TCSO show, but...
Todd Marshall
Yeah -- bring on the babes!
Peter Halcyon
That'll be enough, Maniac.
We've got work to do. Alpha Wing's up first.

You wait for the commander to come to Eta Wing and your mission. Then...

Peter Halcyon
Maverick, Knight, you're on escort duty today.
There's a Drayman coming, carrying vital supplies...
Todd Marshall
And some vital babes!
Peter Halcyon
Bring it home safely. This is your flight plan...
You'll head straight for Nav 1 -- the Drayman's jump point.
Wait for her there, but be careful...
... we've had reports of heavy enemy activity in the area.
The 'sport has orders to make a beeline for the Tiger's Claw.
Stay with her. Simple as that. Questions?
Christopher Blair
Yes, sir. You said there's heavy enemy activity. Any details?
Peter Halcyon
The Kilrathi have been moving heavy fighters into this sector, Maverick.
I expect you'll be running into Gratha, maybe Jalthi...
The pilots all seem to be rookies, but there are lots of them.
Anything else?...Good. That's all then.
Be careful and remember -- I want everyone back for the TCSO show!
Squadron dismissed.

Mission Debriefing

Mission Debriefing. 15:00 hours, 2654.139.

Peter Halcyon
That was an impressive display of teamwork, gentlemen.
With the supplies on that 'sport we can kick Kilrah tail in this system.
And the TCSO show will go on as scheduled. Good job all around.
Christopher Blair
It was dicey there on the way back, sir, but we did the best we could.
Peter Halcyon
Dicey's an understatement, Maverick, and your best was pretty damn good.
Word is you took on several Gratha! Let's look at the mission report.
You took out 7, Maverick...
Knight...no kills.
Fine work.
Dismissed.

Hangar Deck. 17:00 hours, 2654.139.

Peter Halcyon
For meritorious conduct in confronting the Kilrathi enemy, in the Port Hedland system,
on or about 2654.139, the Terran Confederation is proud to present the Bronze Star to Captain Blair.
Your courage is exemplary of the Confederation’s finest defenders.
Good job, Maverick. Congratulations.
Christopher Blair
Thank you, sir.

Filled with pride, Maverick meets the applause of his fellows.