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Chapter 84[]

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Running Battle with hostiles[]

DS Phaidin, Leopard Class 'Mech Carrier DropShip
St. Ives, St. Ives Compact
April, 3030

The scanners alerted Hap to the incoming fighters. They were flying straight at him, but he could only target one. As he placed the crosshair on the fighter on the right a screen brought up the technical information on the Chippewa. He watched the distance between the fighter and the DropShip decrease as he waited for the targeting computer to let him know the fighters were in weapon's range.

Corsair Aerospace Fighters (Deep Space - with jumpship behind

Corsair Medium Aerospace Fighter

"They're going to fire missiles, break and you'll have a moment to return fire with the missiles and hit them with the PPCs." Hawkins warned. As he spoke Hap could see the tiny orange pin pricks of the Chippewa's dual LRM 15s. Hap instantly triggered the Phaidin's three LRM 20s, and started to track as the Chippewa turned to move high and to starboard. Hap managed to hit it with one of the two PPCs as it skirted around the long range edge of the Phaidin's front weapon arc. As Hap tracked the Chippewa the long-range missiles struck the nose and wings of the Phaidin.

The targeting computer indicated the Chippewa had taken significant damage from the LRM barrage. A quick comparison showed the Phaidin had taken only superficial damage to the nose and wings. The targeting computer alerted Hap that the computers had auto-targeted the Corsair. Hap triggered the medium and close range lasers as the corsair closed and struck the Leopard with its own complement of energy weapons. The Corsair dove below the Phaidin and out of sight.

Kate rolled the Stuka over the top of the Phaidin and pivoted to chase the Chippewa. In seconds she was closing with the Chippewa and bringing her considerable arsenal to bear on the unfortunate vessel.

Hap skewed the weapon systems so he could watch the Chippewa as the Stuka's barrage of lasers and missiles sheared one of the wings off and cut deep into the fuselage. The pilot struggled to keep the vessel stable as he tried to give a feeble response with his remaining weapons, but Kate was keeping the heavy fighter in his rear arc.

Chippewa Heavy Aerospace Fighter (Art by PIEGUY)

Chippewa Heavy Aerospace Fighter

"Can he still fly, or maneuver, without a wing?" Hap asked

"It's space, brother." Hawkins replied, "As long as he's not getting sucked out of his cockpit, and his engine is intact he can keep fighting. Now if he was in any type of atmosphere, he'd be fighting to not take a dirt nap."

Hap nodded as he tried to move the weapons and searched for the Corsair.

"It sounds like the Corsair is behind us, and maybe below us." Sarah said.

Anastasia unlocked her chair and pushed it on its rail across the bridge to be next to the navigation station. "She's correct, the Corsair is coming in fast bearing 170 mark 15.

Hawkins pulled a hard turn and dipped the wing bringing the side of the Leopard to face the fighter. Roweyna groaned as the ship turned and the inertial forces shifted. Hap could see the fighter was already coming into range of the ship's missile. Hap launched the wings mounted LRM 20 and large lasers as Hawkins continued to turn the DropShip.

The Corsair's large lasers carved into the DropShip's side as the Corsair pilot accelerated in an effort to get into the drop ship's rear arc and attack its engines. Hawkins continued to turn and accelerate trying to ensure the Corsair couldn't get behind them. The Corsair accelerated and tried to follow Hawkins maneuver as Hawkins tried to pull the turn tighter. The Corsair overshot the Leopard and Hawkins waited until they were close to the JumpShip to pull out of the turn.

"Anyone know what the CeeVee is doing?" Hawkins said as the force of the acceleration altered from pushing them sideways to pushing them back.

"I do not." Anastasia said, "It seems it's using the JumpShip to hide from us."

"I think I can hear its transponder, but I'm not sure if it's moving."

Anastasia started adjusting the instruments on the navigation station. "The SONAR system uses the same energy as the radar system and turns it into sound. It also receives navigational beacons, transponder information, and the occasional space anomalies that can be translated into sound. It's arguably a holdover from Terran submarine SONAR from centuries ago."

Leopard CV (Underway in Space)

Leopard CV Class Fighter Carrier DropShip

She found the menu she was looking for and quickly changed a few settings, "Unless you can tease out the Leopard CV's transponder, and if the equipment is sensitive enough for you to hear the Doppler effect, you're going to have a hard time getting anything useful. Now if you'll give me a moment-"

"Anastasia, could ye…could ye jest not be yerself for a while and stop explain' things." Roweyna said. Hap noticed that the Cee Vee was now represented by a red delta but it would blink out every few seconds. He assumed the radar was now showing the last known transponder beacon location.

"I got it." Kate said. "The CeeVee is moving beneath the JumpShip, relative to you." As Kate's Stuka moved her radar caught sight of the other DropShip and relayed the information to the Phaidin.

Stuka Heavy Fighter (Battletech Space Wars Game Mod)

Stuka Heavy Fighter

"Acknowledge" Hawkins said as he pivoted the DropShip to fly up and over the JumpShip. The pseudo gravity shifted again and Roweyna half cried as she searched the pockets of her chair for a motion sickness bag.

"Mr. Hawkins, I need to jest get this tub out of the fight." Roweyna said as she found a bag and snapped it open. She leaned away from everyone as she got sick.

"I don't feel good either." Sarah said. Anastasia noted she was starting to turn green.

"This is why I gotta keep the bridge clear." Hawkins mumbled as he turned the Leopard. "Try to keep it together ladies while I get this ship pointed at St Ives.

"One Bandit down." Kate said. "You got the Corsair doubling back around looks like he'll follow you over the top of the JumpShip."

"What about the Cee Vee?"

"Moving slow turning carefully. It probably lost some structural integrity when I sucker punched it." Kate said. "I could probably finish it off, but I'm trying to line up to meet the Corsair in a time and space that will be unpleasant for him."

"You're the best Katey." Hawkins said, "I'm making the crew sick here, and Roweyna says we need to end this quick.

"Why don't you take it out of Vomit Comet mode, and fly right?"

"Because I'd prefer not to get my ass handed to me."

"Oh you let me worry about that." Kate said.

"You'll handle my ass?" Hawkins joked as Roweyna wretched. Anastasia put a motion sickness into Sarah's hands and she mumbled "thanks" as she opened it and put it to her mouth before she retched.

"I think I agree with the bridge crew." Kate said.

Hap glanced at the holo radar. The Corsair was coming up and around the JumpShip as the Phaidin was flying parallel to the JumpShip flying toward its nose. The Leopard CV was on the other side of the ship and slowly turning and moving to come back around the JumpShip unfortunately the Cee Vee was closer to the nose of the JumpShip. Kate's Stuka was located below everyone, but she was changing her speed and vector to close with the Phadin.

Hawkins brought the Phaidin out of its turn and straightened out. He started to accelerate and everyone was pushed back in their seats. It wasn't normal gravity, but it wasn't as nausea inducing as the previous maneuvers. Hap was feeling a little unwell, and hearing and smelling Roweyna and Sarah being sick wasn't helping. He knew he should try to find a horizon or a fixed object, but the weapon system warned him the Corsair coming up behind them.

Hap's weapon monitor changed to show the Corsair was trying to come at them from a low angle making him hard to target. Hap had to depress the weapon blister almost as far as he could. He hit the Corsair's nose and wing with a large laser and medium lasers while the Corsair hit the Phaidin's engines with its complement of lasers.

Hap glanced over at the holo-radar as he waited for the lasers to recharge. Kate guided her Stuka just under the Corsair and closed on the rear of the fighter. He glanced back to his screen as he prepared for another energy weapon exchange.

"Why aren't we rolling-over and assuming normal gravity operations." Sarah asked.

"Because I want to beat the Cee Vee before he comes around the JumpShip." Hawkins said. "Trust me, when we overthrust it feels more normal just to get pushed backwards, rather than getting pushed down like you're in an elevator that going a thousand kilometers an hour."

Hap gave another sideways glance to the holo radar. For a moment he could watch the Cee Vee speed along on the other side of the JumpShip. It was looking like it was trying to get around the JumpShip to head off the Phaidin, and it was already at the JumpShip's nose. As Kate got closer the radar switched from a detailed icon to a red delta, then the Cee Vee disappeared again.

The Stuka slipped in behind the Corsair and there was a bright flash as Kate unleashed her forward facing weapons. Missiles and lasers tore into the engine and rear of the ship. The Corsair's engine was struck and Hap saw multiple flashes and then the craft exploded.

Hawkins glanced at the radar and then started pulling up on the stick to raise the Phaidin. As they approached the front of the JumpShip, the Leopard CV came around the front and angled itself so it could target the Phaidin with both its forward and starboard battery. Hawkins tried to continue the climb as they were struck by multiple missiles and energy weapons.

Hawkins gritted his teeth as he dropped the Leopard's nose so the weapons were facing the Leopard CV as they flew over the top. The weapon monitor indicated the weapons were recharged and reloaded. Hap quickly targeted the Cee Vee as they flew over, most of the weapons hit the fuselage and starboard side of the DropShip. Hap glanced at the damage monitor. The armor was holding, but they couldn't sustain another barrage. Hawkins touched one of the monitors and pulled up data on the Cee Vee. It's fuselage and port side were ruined, but the nose and starboard were still in good shape.

"Katey I still got my ass, but just barely. Do me a favor and keep that Cee Vee from chasing us before you come in from the cold."

"I know how to get a man to stop chasing me." Kate said. Hap watched the holo radar and saw the
barrel roll till it lined up with the Cee Vee and then accelerate to close the distance. Hawkins switched the center monitor so they could watch as Kate flew over the top of Leopard CV, performed a near perfect 180 degree turn, and then launched her battery of LRMs and lasers into the ruined side of the CV. Lasers and missiles blasted through the DropShip's armor and began to cut through the internal structure.

There was a flash of fire and smoke as combustible materials were exposed to the vacuum of space and for a moment there was oxygen to fuel the fire. The Stuka turned slowly as the Leopard continued to vent off oxygen and small explosions occurred as the tail section drifted away from the main fuselage of the DropShip. Kate leveled off the Stuka and flew toward the Phaidin. "One gelded Leopard. By the time their damage crews get that sorted out we should be half-way to St. Ives."

"Damn, I love her and want her to have my children." Hawkins said as tactical display relayed the damage to Leopard CV. It had taken significant damage to its structural integrity and the whole rear tail section was missing. It would be impossible for the ship to enter a planet's atmosphere.

"Now that I've had my fun." Kate said. "Permission to come aboard?"

"What's your fuel situation?" Hawkins asked.

"Good." Kate said slowly. "Why do you ask?"

"Think we're going need a few minutes before the crew will be capable of recovering you."

Kate turned her fighter and accelerated to catch up with the Phaidin, "I was thinking you couldn't really fly a drop ship like a aerospace fighter and not give the whole damn crew motion sickness, and some of them probably got banged around or hit by unsecured equipment. Good job, Hawk."

"Better than spaced, besides, it's not the whole crew, the Haphazard co-pilot you left me with is doing fine."

"Barely." Hap said. Hawkins had put the Phadin in regular "normal" space operation and was using the bottom thrusters and a constant thrust to restore "pseudo gravity" to the Leopard. Hap was glad gravity was back to normal, and it was probably going to be a few minutes before he'd feel normal.

"Well the Professor's hanging tough."

"I kept my eyes on the horizon or a fixed object, as best I could, just like they taught us back at the Academy."

Hawkins turned to look at Anastasia. She was pulling up the navigation information for their trek to St. Ives. He glanced over to the comms station she had also been manipulating, and something occurred to him. "How much DropShip operations do they teach a cadet at NAIS?"

"Well it depends on the classes the cadet takes." Anastasia answered. "I took a few classes in DropShip operations because I was flirting with the idea of joining team Banzai and they generally like their team members to have two very different MOSs. Mechwarrior and DropShop pilot are almost as different as you can get.

Roweyna was still laying back in her chair and trying to recover from motion sickness, but she sat up and eyed Anastasia, "Did ye mention ye were a qualified DropShip pilot when ye signed up? How'd I miss this?"

"No." Anastasia said, "Because I'm not. I only have two classes and some twenty hours of simulator time, and a few hours in a drop shuttle. I still had to do the two Advanced DropShip crew operations classes and Celestial Navigation, plus another thirty hours of simulation time, and another dozen hours of actual flight time, preferably in a drop ship, not a shuttle. Once I did that I'd get DropShip flight crew as a secondary MOS. To get Pilot I would need-"

"Stop." Roweyna said, "Did ye earn your private space pilot license?"

"No, although one of my instructors said between my DropShip and simulation times I was probably ready to test for it." Anastasia said. "I was going to do it after the semester, but then Klathandu happened."

Kate maneuvered the Stuka next to the Phaidin, "Did Anastasia just say she was qualified to fly that boat?"

"I thought it wasn't a boat." Hap said.

"Quiet you." Hawkins said as he glanced back at Hap then looked over at Anastasia, "You mean I could have pilot-in-training Calahad here, instead of grabby-handsy-Calahad sitting next to me?"

"I'm not grabby-handsy." Hap said.

"You actually are." Anastasia said, she saw Hap's confused expression, "I mean you did take a lot of liberties with my person that night when Crow forced us to share a berth."

"First, you asked me to share the berth with you." Hap said.

"Given the situation I didn't want to put you out." Anastasia said.

"Second, you generally like, no you damn near insist that I get "handsy" with you. You invite me to take liberties with your person almost daily." Hap said.

"Well just because I like a little physical affection doesn't take away the fact you are quick to give it." Anastasia said.

"Third, that's not what Hawkins was talking about." Hap said.

"Suddenly I think it's something we should talk about." Hawkins said.

"I wish I had popcorn for this." Kate added. "I thought it was going to be bored waiting for the crew to clean themselves up and get the aerobay ready, now I'm happy to wait. Oh! I just found a compressed oat ration bar. Please Anastasia tell us more about the liberties Hap takes with your person. Please be as detailed as possible."

"Explicitly detailed as possible." Hawkins added, "and feel free to make up stuff."

Roweyna cleared her throat, "It's more important we talk about the situation at hand. Anastasia we've lost a navigator and sadly a pilot-in-training who is-"

"Not fully mission capable" Hap said, gently, glad the subject was changing.

Roweyna nodded, "Aye." She reached over and squeezed Sarah's shoulder, "but she'll be FMC again soon enough. In the meantime, Anastasia, and for that matter Hap, any help ye can give to alleviate the flight crew would be appreciated."

"Certainly." Anastasia answered

"Mr. Hawkins." Roweyna said, "I need ye to determine what it will take to get Ms. Calahad her private pilots license, so she can perform operations on the Phaidin. Give her whatever test she needs, but do not change the gravity of this vessel."

"Too easy." Hawkins said as he looked over at Hap and Hawkins jerked his thumb over his shoulder indicating he needed to get out of the co-pilot seat.

"Very good." Roweyna said as she carefully rose to her feet and slowly started to leave the bridge. "Until I recover Mr. Hawkins yer in charge, get the damage crews to figure out how badly the Phaidin is. Hap, call ahead to St. Ives and see if any of your friends can give us a place to repair our ship and maybe give us some work. Perhaps we can find a way to contact dad. Now if you'll excuse me I'm going to retire to my quarters, and if ye need me and come callin' I'll likely hurl on ye.

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