If anyone is interested, here is my fluff for Mission 9: The battle of Gemini hill. I am renaming the mission to The Battle of Gemini sector in my PDF.
So work on the Tuirat campaign is still going on at a much slower pace that I would like.
Mission 9: The Battle of Gemini sector
"Piranha school Alpha, move in to sector Gemini 45. Devilfish shiver Epsilon accompanying. Remember, sector is hot."
"Copy. Piranha school Alpha exiting sector Gemini 55 and moving in to sector Gemini 45. School leader over and out."
The fronds of the jungle wave as the piranhas of school Alpha pass over in loose formation. In the eight piranhas moving in tandem, the weapon system officers maintain their attention on their short and long range scanners while the pilots are maintaining their patrol route over the area.
This sector was speckled with small settlements of little known importance but an abnormal amount of traffic had been observed lately. The size and nature of that traffic was unclear and intel needed to be gathered to obtain a clearer picture of the situation. Stealth suits alone couldn't cover a large enough area so a school of piranhas supported by a skyray and four devilfish transports transporting FireTeam Kaon and a small unit of Tolok warriors, a squad of FireWarriors, and a squad of Pathfinders would canvas the area. Such a force could deal with any opposition they encountered.
"School leader to shiver leader. Bogie sighted. Tolok warriors, north-west of our position, heading north. Awaiting orders."
"Alpha 3 to school leader. Bogie confirmed. Heading north toward settlement at sector Gemini 25. Awaiting orders."
"Shiver leader to Alpha school. Maintain contact but do not engage. Shiver is en route to your location. Settlement in sector Gemini 25 is on the patrol route of Stealth Team Mu"
"Alpha 5 to school leader. New bogie sighted and confirmed. South west of our position, heading west. Awaiting orders."
"Shiver leader to School leader. Keep bogies in sight. Alpha school, split and maintain sight with corresponding bogies. Stay out of weapons range. Respect pathfinder protocol. "
"School leader to shiver leader. Shas'O, is it sound to split the school?"
"School leader, as long as we maintain pathfinder protocol and do not engage, the risk is minimal. HQ needs this information on troop movements in the area. I repeat. Split and maintain contact. Respect pathfinder protocol. Shiver leader out."
"Copy Shas'O. School leader to Alpha 2, 3, and 4. Join up and adopt Rra formation. Maintain contact but do not engage. Alpha 5, 6, 7, and 8, regroup under Alpha 5 as Alpha'N school. Alpha 5, you're Alpha'N school leader."
"Shiver leader to Devilfish Kaon and Rho, support Alpha'N school to the west. Shiver is moving to bogies to the north.
"Devilfish Kaon to Alpha'N School leader. Copy on Rra formation. Adopting tail fin position."
"Devilfish Rho to Alpha'N School leader. Copy on Rra formation. Shadowing Kaon's position."
"Alpha 5 to School leader. Copy. Alpha'N adopt and maintain Hir'ex formation."
As the piranhas of Alpha'N school veer off to the west, the remaining piranhas move north and fan out in a crescent shape to watch over any directions their prey might take. Slowing their speed to match the Tolok's, the piranhas are almost silent as they skim the top of the low vegetation. No other bogies are sighted as the piranhas follow their prey to the settlement where the Tolok group disperses into smaller groups and moves further north pass the settlement.
"Alpha leader to school. Our sensor sweeps indicate the settlement ahead is deserted. Please confirm sensor readings and report."
"Alpha 2 to school leader. Sensor sweep confirmed. Bogies to the north still moving north."
"Alpha 3 to school leader. Sensor sweep confirmed. No other bogies sighted."
"Alpha 4 to school leader. Sweep confirmed. One bogie still on sensors north east, still moving north."
"Copy alpha school. Move in slowly up to settlement edge. Contacts are uncertain. Weapons free."
'Stealth Leader Mu to Alpha school. Acknowledging presence 1 tor'kan north west of your current location. Set transponder frequency to Mu Theta Phi. Do you require assistance?"
"Alpha leader to Mu leader. Copy. Setting transponder frequencies. Assistance appreciated. Requesting recon on settlement east of your location?"
"Affirmative Alpha leader. Recon request confirmed. Mu leader out."
'Alpha leader to school. Hold position. Go low and wait for further instructions."
"Alpha school leader to Shiver leader. Contact established with Mu stealth team. We are holding position awaiting report from Mu team before moving further. Current position secure, you can move up to our location."
"Copy school leader. Shiver moving up to your position."
The Tau piranhas sink lower into the vegetation as Mu team enters the settlement. Weapons officers watch the progress of the stealth team on their sensors as the three member team moves through the settlement in a precise search pattern. Tor'leks to the south, the devilfishes and skyray move further north to close the distance between them and the piranhas confident the settlement and the forest will hide them from the Toloks insurgents still heading north.
"Mu leader to Alpha leader. Settlement is clear. Nothing peculiar to report. Mu team is moving further east and pursuing with recon patrol."
"Copy Mu leader. Alpha school move up slowly, we don't want to leave traces of our presence."
"Shiver leader to school leader, the buildings are too close together. We need to go around the settlement. Going over may compromise our cover. Devilfish Prion, circle around the east side. Skyray I'ura and us will circle around the west side. Rendezvous at the northern edge of the settlement."
"School leader to Shiver leader, we copy, Rendezvous location received. Alpha school, lower speed, spread out, and stay sharp."
Moving at a speed slightly greater than someone walking at a brisk pace, the piranha school passes the empty sentry towers made from the local trees and enters the settlement of oblong buildings of interwoven branches covered in dry mud. Looking for any indication on the importance of this settlement, the piranhas adopt a separate path to cover more ground. Going under the thatched roofs of frond leaves, the Tau warriors lower their piranhas to but a few inches from the ground to be able to see through the doors of each building.
The Tau warriors notice dried mud resting at the base of the walls exposing the interwoven branches and main structure of the huts, the wet leaves of the roofs leaking into the settlements, and the absence of cooking ware, weapons, and tools. The village was obviously abandoned for a while now.
As the Piranha school nears the northern edge of the town, a small detonation followed by a bigger one are heard. The comm also suddenly explodes.
"Shiver leader to Alpha. Hit confirmed. Explosive. Source unknown. Crippling damage to devilfish. Reporting numerous casualties. Zone is red hot. Alpha school, intel on enemy movement urgently needed."
"Skyray I'ura reporting. Explosion of leader starboard engine. No bogies in sight. Sensors are clear. Attack origin unknown. Maintaining position."
"Alpha school reporting. Confirming sensors are clear and settlement is empty. Alpha 2 and 3 move in to support. Alpha 4 with me, moving northward. Refresh status on hostile movement."
"Alpha 2 copies. Moving west."
"Alpha 3 copies. Moving west."
"Alpha 4 copies. In tow."
"Devilfish Prion reporting. No contact established. Moving to rendezvous. Sensor range increased. Pathfinder team ready to deploy."
The Tau vehicles spur forward in search of the source of the attack and to support their comrades. Weapon officers riveted to their short and long range sensors still puzzled and pondering why they had not detected the threat.
On devilfish Prion, Shas'La K'assai is the first note to notice the flux.
"Shas'Ui, faint spikes in magnetic activity and power readings detected. It's covering the area like nodes in a web."
The Shas'Ui doesn't waste any time relaying the information.
"Devilfish Prion to Alpha, network of magnetic sensors detected in and around the settlement. Suggesting gaining altitude to reduce signature."
"Shiver leader to Prion, Acknowledged. Ascend to safe distance, move to rendezvous point, then disembark Pathfinders to scout the area with short range sensors to evaluate and, if possible, disarm threat."
Still within the settlement, the lead pair of piranhas ascends rapidly over the roofs of the buildings and accelerates rapidly forward to close the distance between alpha team and the Tolok insurgents. Maintaining stealth is now obviously irrelevant. The explosion took care of negating that tactical advantage. Gathering intel on enemy movement is now the primary goal. The importance of evaluating if contact with the insurgent is avoidable and, if not, what forces they would face isn't lost on the leader. Intent on their new objective, the pair zoom forward leaving the rest of alpha team to deal with the current situation.
Closing in on the position of the Shas'O at the western border of the settlement, Kith'ara increases the strength of the anti-gravity pods of her piranha to gain altitude.
Following Kith'ara's piranha, Taro'La sees the ground burst under his comrades' vehicle sending a small circular object upward. The object strikes the hull and bursts into lightning and thunder. The concussive force of the explosion pushes the tail of the lead piranha upward, shreds the metal, and destroys the hind part of the port engine. The piranha pitches forward, strikes the ground, and tumbles into the forest at the edge of the settlement.
Taro yells "Gravity mines", slams the brakes not to ram the lead piranha and its occupant, and reverses his climb to avoid triggering the explosive devices hidden in the ground.
Even with the sudden jolt, Taro can feel the small thump under his port wing. In anticipation of the blast, he turns his head to shield his face and, for the benefit of his partner, shouts "We're tagged."
The explosion tears the underside of the wing. Torn from its mooring, the gun drone flies out of control to crash into a tree trunk. Already engaged in a downward motion, the piranha flips over as the force of the explosion pushes one side of the skimmer violently upward. In the rotation, the starboard wing slams into the ground. The gun drone folds and splits in the middle just like a fava cookie shared between friends. Slowed by the impact of the wing with the ground, the piranha simply rolls over on its back; its shaken occupants held upside down by their safety harnesses.
"Shiver leader to Alpha. Gravity mines reported. Shut down anti-gravity generators and ground the vehicles."
"Devilfish Prion to shiver leader. Setting down. Pathfinders ready to deploy."
Devilfish Prion slowly drops to the ground; the hatch doors on its side and at its back opening to let the pathfinders quickly disembark. Eager to help their comrades and disarm the threat of the gravity mines, the first of the pathfinders jump out of the devilfish as the transport is still inches from the ground. As the devilfish touches down and rests its weight on its support struts, charges detonate beneath the vehicle. Caught between the ground and the hull of the devilfish, the blast bursts outward and fatally propels the pathfinders on the ground away from the landing site. The hatch doors, blown back by the tremendous force of the blast, smash into the unfortunate Tau warriors about to disembark.
"Shiver leader to Devilfish Prion, report. I repeat Devilfish Prion, report. Shiver leader to Alpha school leader. Status report on Toloks movement?"
"Alpha school to shiver leader. Closest Toloks group is rapidly moving back to your position, expected contact in a 15 to 20 rai'kor."
"Shiver leader to school leader, engaging the Tolok with harassment tactics. try to keep them away until Alpha can reinforce our position. Avoid area because of gravity mines."
"Alpha shiver leader to Alpha'N, regroup to sector Gemini 25. In need of assistance. Devilfish and piranhas down. Multiple casualties. Gravity and vehicle mines in vicinity. Area only safe on foot."
"Mu leader to Alpha Shiver leader, sending one member of the team to support Devilfish Prion. Remainder of the team will intercept Tolok forces from the north to support school leader. Acknowledge."
"Shiver leader to Mu, assistance acknowledged. Transponders still active. Proceed."
"Shiver leader to I'ura, adopt protective position at the head of the position. Take the long way around to avoid possible mines. Reduce anti-gravity to minimum."
"Copy shiver leader, skyray en route."
The Tau missile platform glides slowly in a wide circle around the settlement. As the distance with the settlement increases and the distance to their destination diminishes, the grav tank increases its speed while keeping its altitude steady. Sensors at the maximum, the weapons officer of the Skyray can now glimpse the small energy spikes coming from the ground around the settlement. Clearing the gravity mine field, the pilot climbs into the jungle canopy to increase the range and effectiveness of its ordnance. As she looks around, she notices a glint of metal in the high branches of the trees. Were these metal cables in the trees?
The answer to her question comes in the searing white flash of a melta bomb attached high in the trees right in front of her. Melting the shielded glass of the canopy and entering the cabin, the heat deals a swift death to the pilot. The weapons officer isn't as lucky as the super-heated air in the cabin burns through his lungs and welds his armor to his blistering skin.
Now without a crew, the skyray tilts forward and dives into the ground to rest its nose embedded into the dirt, its belly lying onto the vegetation like a great knarloc at rest, and its end standing up like the end of a beast drinking at a water hole.
"Devilfish Kaon to shiver leader. Alpha'N en route at top speed. Fireteam Kaon and Tolok'vesa in support. Alpha'N piranha school will join with Alpha school."
"Shiver leader to Alpha'N. Copy. Devilfish Prion also in need of assistance. Life signs detected but contact lost. Skyray I'ura has been hit. No life signs detected but ordnance is intact."