Sorry for the very late journal post. I was quite occupied with other things before having enough time to finally get it done.
I meet up with Paladin and tell him that it’s good to see him again. He’s glad to see me too, but says that he wishes he had better news for me. He has been intercepting and decrypting Kilrathi transmissions. Somebody has given the cats information about the Morningstar project. I ask Paladin if we managed to get any useful information from the human found on the Kilrathi freighter that was captured. He tells me that the prisoner said that the freighter was delivering supplies to a Mandarin base known as Ayer’s Rock. I have not heard of this location before, and express mild surprise that our Special Operations group does not know the location of all Mandarin hiding places. Paladin says that he’s heard of the base before, but has no information about its location or anything about it yet. He does have plans to find out, and I offer my help in tracking down this Mandarin threat. In the briefing room of the Concordia, Angel tells us about the large losses Confed has taken in the Deneb sector in the past few months. The Concordia has been given orders to make its stand in Deneb so that the Sixth Battle fleet can regroup and re-establish its presence in this sector. Angel tells us that the Kilrathi are definitely tracking us, and they will have a score to settle since we inflicted serious damage the last time the Kilrathi tried to force us out. The cats are out there, waiting for us to make our move. Angel wants us to remember why we are serving on the Concordia before our next patrols. She assures the pilots that we’re here because we are the best Confed have to offer. My mission is to accompany Maniac, Crossbones, and Talon flying Morningstar fighters on a test patrol in a Broadsword. Angel dismisses us, and we take off in our separate ships. Our first Kilrathi encounter are Strakha stealth fighters, which are really not a good test of the Morningstar’s capabilities. I hear all sorts of shots going off, but I concentrate on a stealth fighter coming my way. He easily crumbles to the mass drivers of my Broadsword. The other stealth fighters are cloaking and uncloaking to make things more interesting for Maniac’s group. They get disorganized in their attack efforts. I pick up another stealth ship heading directly toward me, and this one is easily dispatched. While looking for a third target, Maniac sends a communication that he downed a fighter. There is just one fighter left, and since I’m the most tempting target I switch to rear guns. I see the enemy fighter’s gun shots go off, and I track and nail him with a rear barrage. One of Maniac’s wingmen gets overzealous and tag my Broadsword with a particle cannon hit. Fortunately, I have plenty of shields for friendly fire follies. We continue along our patrol, and a little later we run into a Gothri who tries to take us all one. Maniac and his group have ample opportunity to make this kill, but I let that fighter have it with my mass drivers. Near the end of our patrol, our group encounters four Jalkehis. Ok, now this should be a good test of the Morningstar’s combat capabilities. Unfortunately for Maniac, I score two Jalkehi kills before his group gets its act together and nails a third. Maniac asks during the pursuit of the last Jalkehi, ‘Where the hell are you’? From my vantage point, it looks like three of the Morningstars are in hot pursuit of that Jalkehi. Maniac makes that last kill, and we head back to the Concordia. I tell Angel about the various encounters during our patrol. Angel says she’ll take this information to Tactical for analysis. From the fighter encounters, there are six kills for me, and three for Maniac and his team. For the moment, the Wild Eagles are certainly living up to their name by flying AND shooting wild. I hope Maniac spends sufficient spare time to get his group to do better.
In the barracks, Maniac and his team are having a friendly game of cards with me. Maniac wants me to know the members of his squadron better. Maniac introduces me first to ‘Talon’, who has the hobby of speaking Kilrathi. He also studies Kilrathi battle tactics and history, and I tell him that can’t be a very relaxing pastime. The next member of the squadron that Maniac introduces is ‘Crossbones’, and Maniac says that he flies the same way he does. I ask ‘Crossbones’ if that is a safe thing to do, and he says that it’s no big deal. He feels that if it’s his time to die, there is nothing he can really do about it. That certainly seems to be a suicidal attitude to me. Maniac then reintroduces ‘Minx’, and she wants to know me much better. I attempt to deflect her added attention by asking who will be dealing the next round of cards. Maniac tells me it is my turn, and I deal the next poker hand for the group. On the bridge of the Concordia, Angel reports to the Admiral that a wave of Kilrathi have been detected approaching from the asteroid field. The Admiral orders a magnum launch scramble. It’s been a long time since this happened to me, and I launch in a Sabre with Stingray as my wingman. I make sure that Stingray can read my communications, and I tell him to give the cats our own little version of a surprise. We go off on our intercept, and it’s a bit of a furball to start off with. Gothri fighters are swarming all around, and I weave around a bit before finding a nice target. That Gothri is trying to do a rear attack on the Concordia, but I’m not about to let that Kilrathi have an easy time. I nail that fighter, but keep in mind that I am pretty darn close to Concordia. I see a second Gothri that I can go after. He’s away enough from the Concordia so that I can get some distance. I destroy that fighter, and look for my next target. Yet another Gothri goes down to my guns, and the only ship left is a Kamekh corvette. I let the other fighters handle that ship, and one of the CAP pilots nails it. Expecting orders for pursuit or a further patrol, it takes me some time to figure out that I’ll be handling that on my next mission. I land on the Concordia, and I report to the Admiral along with Stingray. There were six Gothris, so the Concordia must have nailed three of them. Tolwyn congratulates us on our fast action. He tells us that there have been many losses in this sector and that the Kilrathi can now fully concentrate on the Concordia as its primary target. The Admiral says that we’ll have to be ready to defend against other attacks, but I definitely again feel that my next mission will have me as part of the offensive. Tolwyn will also mention our good work in his next report to Confed High Command.
On the Observation deck of the Concordia, ‘Crossbones’ has the gall to ask me when I’m going to retire. He feels that my rank should be able to help me get a command that will keep me off the flight deck, and ‘Talon’ gets in on the act asking what I’m trying to prove by still flying. I tell them both that there is a war going on, and Confed needs every good pilot. ‘Crossbones’ says that he did not mean to be disrespectful, and that his attitude comes from what he heard happened with ‘Jazz’. ‘Crossbones’ feels that Maniac would have killed ‘Jazz’, and now wonders how many more pilots will die due to ‘Jazz’ being free. ‘Crossbones’ also wonders how I feel about the threat ‘Jazz’ made to kill me on our next encounter as well as knowing that ‘Jazz’ specifically wants to be the one responsible for my demise. I tell ‘Crossbones’ that I’m looking forward to a reunion with ‘Jazz’. I launch in a Sabre for my next mission. The Concordia is going thru a dense concentration of mines and asteroid fields. They believe the sneak attack was only the first phase of an effort to drive the Concordia out of Deneb sector. My mission is to check out transmissions from what seems to be a data pod at the third nav point. My wingman says that it’s good to be flying with me, and I tell him that I hope he still feels that way after finding the source of the transmissions. We go to the first nav point, and there are Drakhri fighters there in the asteroid field. I eliminate all three Drakhri fighters, and my wingman does a little damage to my rear armor. The next area is just more asteroids, and I just weave thru without getting careless by using afterburners. We next run into more Kilrathi with some Jalkehis. I target and destroy one on my first pass. I go after a second, and the other fighter takes out my wingman. I make the Kilrathi I’m chasing burn, and go after that third one to avenge my wingman. I do significant damage to his fighter, and he kamikazes into my fighter to try taking me out. Front and rear armor are both gone, so I need to be careful on further encounters. Upon my approach to the third nav point, I get a communication from Major Edmond on the Concordia. She tells me that they have decoded the transmissions, which are to a timed explosive device. In the words of Admiral Ackbar from Return of the Jedi, ‘IT’S A TRAP’!!! She warns me to get out of the area immediately. Taking heed of the warning, I go to full afterburners until I see that autopilot light go on. I get away from nav point 3 safely. I approach and land on the Concordia, and they’re glad to see me alive on the hangar. I meet Angel in her office, and she expresses her happiness in seeing me back safely. I tell her that the Major’s warning came just in time to avoid the bomb at nav 3. Another few seconds would have vaporized me. I tell her of the fighter encounters with the Drakhri and Jalkehi. I’ll have to trust my flight recorder that there were four Sarthas at nav 3 with the bomb. Angel says that it looks like I can use some rest, and it will take a little time to psychologically recover from that close call with the bomb at nav 3.
I see ‘Crossbones’ again in the Observation room looking downcast. I ask him what’s wrong, and he tells me that the Mandarins have been sending propaganda broadcasts. The latest one was a hijacking of two freighters with ‘Jazz’ leading them. ‘Crossbones’ curses me for letting ‘Jazz’ go, but I tell him that the Mandarins rescued him. I run into ‘Minx’ in the barracks, and she thinks I can use some sympathy. I tell her how ‘Jazz’ has been like a curse to me for the last ten years, and that I would have sacrificed everything including my life to be rid of him. ‘Minx’ says that I’m a very skilled pilot who follows orders, and that I’m too valuable to be sacrificed for so little. I tell ‘Minx’ that I don’t know what to say, and she uses that as an opportunity to kiss me. I’m taken completely by surprise, and I wonder how badly this will affect my relationship with Angel. Later, I see ‘Minx’ on the hangar bay saying that I missed a dangerous patrol. I ask her why she’s back already and what happened to her wingman. ‘Minx’ tells me they ran into a heavy force at nav 1, and that she was ordered back to the Concordia by her wingman. I’m outraged at this, and tell ‘Minx’ that she just left that wingman to die. ‘Minx’ then tells me that Angel was the wingman who gave this order to her so that the Kilrathi could not capture the Morningstar. I ask ‘Minx’ if Angel is still at nav 1, and she tells me that Angel said that she would hold off the Kilrathi and return to the Concordia. I ask ‘Minx’ to excuse me while I have work to do to save Angel. I launch in a Sabre and head to nav 1 at the best speed I can muster. There are multiple Gothris here, and I tell Angel to attack at will. I target and tag one of the Gothri fighters and pick my next Gothri to go after. That second one goes down despite some decent evasion tactics by the pilot. The third Gothri I go after lets his playmate have a missile launch at my ship. I take a hit to the starboard armor, but I deal destruction to my targeted fighter. That other Kilrathi launches another missile, and I take a rear hit with some armor damage. I get a little surprise when a Kamekh jumps in and immediately launches two missiles. One tags me from the rear again, and Angel decides to get busy with the Kamekh while I continue after that fourth Gothri. Angel eliminates the Kamekh, and I follow shortly after with gunning down the Gothri. With no other enemy forces in the area, I head back with Angel to the Concordia. Upon landing, I see Angel in her office and ask if she is ok. She thanks me for my assistance, and I tell her that I can’t believe that ‘Minx’ left her alone against the Kilrathi. Angel explains that ‘Minx’ went back for help from her order, and that she did not want to lose the Morningstar fighter. I tell Angel that she’s far more important then the Morningstar, especially to me. Angel apologizes that she has not had much free time to see me lately, and that she thought for a while that she might die without ever seeing me again. We both share a long romantic moment that I hope cleans up some of the damage that ‘Minx’ caused with her casual kiss.
P.S. - Tomorrow pilots will have an opportunity to test their 'Big Bang' with the Morningstar. I'm looking forward to seeing how effective the Mace nuke can be.