1. So, I have temporarily shed my laziness and actually produced new material for you to read! And so help me, you will enjoy it!
2. This piece is fully written. Part 2 can be posted at any time, I just chose to break it up since it would probably be a little lengthy otherwise.
3. Expect more Omega stuff in the near future. Yes. MOAR! I do not deceive you, there is indeed MOAR. Not a whole LOT more, mind you, but MOAR. (Also, I seem to have suffered a lolcat-related spelling failure. Huh. I'll look into that.)
4. This also marks the first Omega-appearance of one of BG2's most annoying sumbitches.
Near Transit Buoy 48-G
Urgash System, Sheogh Sector
The announcement went out over the task force’s primary communications frequency, and in the space of just a few seconds, thirty Confederation starfighters knew that one of their group’s recon birds had sighted the prey they’d all been hunting for. “Lead, we have visual on primary target. Reading Dominion heavy transport convoy at 015. Sensors detecting multiple fighter escorts. Orders?”
“All fighters, this is Slayer One, you are go for target interception. By the numbers, people. Let’s do this one right.” The pilot in charge of the entire mission slowly fed more fuel to his engines, increasing his speed. He kept a light hand on the control yoke as he eased his ship towards the Dominion convoy. Behind him, the rest of his squadron, and the two other accompanying squadrons slipped into an attack formation.
“Copy that. Blue Devils are engaging.”
“Sideshows here. Closing to torpedo range.”
The ten Rapier-class fighters that formed Star Slayer Squadron were the first to engage. While not as heavily armed and armored as the Sabres of Sideshow Squadron, and not as fast or nimble as the Valkyrie-class light interceptors that the Blue Devils used, the Rapiers were one of the best blends of speed, maneuverability, and striking power in the Confederation arsenal. Their primary purpose was killing enemy fighters; the Rapiers themselves, as well as the pilots flying them, were among the best at what they did.
Behind them were the pilots of Blue Devil Squadron. Their craft were light and fast, relying on their speed and agility to keep them out of trouble, since a few good hits to the hull could knock them out of the fight permanently. Sending them in on point would have been suicidal, so instead, they would fly behind, and sweep up any enemies that got through the forward part of the screen.
Trailing at the rear of the formation were the Sabres. Heavy fighter/bombers. They were pretty good in a dogfight, especially if flown by capable pilots, but they could also be armed with “cap-ship killer” torpedoes for attacking larger targets. Currently, the pilots of Sideshow squadron were pulling bomber duty. Each of the Sabres was loaded down with a single Lancer-class light torpedo. While the Lancer would barely scratch the shields of a large target such as a Dominion heavy cruiser, they were perfect for powering through the defenses of smaller capital ships such as transports, destroyers, or frigates.
“This is Sideshow One, I have initial target lock.” The lead bomber pilot tapped her flight stick, making a minor course correction, and the targeting assists on her Heads-Up Display lit up, telling her how much time remained before she had a solid targeting lock and could fire the weapon. The rest of her wing slipped into formation above and below her, with a few of her planes coming up alongside her wings. They were going after different targets, however. Each two-ship element of her ten-ship formation had been tasked with disabling one of the five transports. A single torpedo hit in the right place could do the job, so the Confederation pilots had brought two for each… just to be sure.
Slayer One acknowledged the transmission and ordered the rest of his unit into position to cover the bombers. “Copy that, Sideshow. Slayers, clear the road, Devils, you have close escort.”
“Understood, Slayer One. We’re on it.”
As the Sabres nosed over and bore down straight on the enemy transports, the Valkyries swung into formation in front of and to the sides of the bomber group. Enemy fighters struggled to break through the protective screen, but were picked off by the Rapiers who flitted in and out of the pack, using their high speed to make slashing movements through the various ship formations. The Dominion interceptors found themselves drawing fire from the Sabres defensive turrets, the Valkyries light laser cannons, and the Rapiers’ more powerful neutron and particle cannons. A handful of the Dominion fighters practically evaporated, explosions leaving behind clouds of drifting debris. Some, however, proved to be a little luckier.
One of the Dominion pilots managed to shake his pursuers, throwing his ship into a series of deft rolls. He stomped on his rudder pedals (which actually controlled thruster banks that served a similar purpose,) throwing the craft into one sideways skid after another, making it practically impossible to get a clean shot at him. Eventually, he pulled out of his evasive maneuvers and lined up for an attack of his own. His ship came up underneath one of the Sabres where the shields were thin, and the armor even more so. He stitched off a long burst of weapons fire that raked across the Confederation fighter’s shields causing them to flare and die, and gouging holes in the armor plating.
The human pilot reacted immediately, and hauled his ship out of formation, leaving his wingman to press the attack on his own. He slammed his throttle to full, lit the afterburners for a brief touch of speed, and then turned hard, trying to spin around on his attacker. The maneuver didn’t work completely as intended, but it did buy him some time while his enemy tried to compensate for his sudden movement. He continued fighting for position, but it was, metaphorically speaking, an uphill battle. The fact that his ship’s agility was less than that of his enemy’s meant that in a prolonged battle, the Dominion pilot would, given enough time, find a way to get into position for a killing shot. The trick was ending the dogfight somehow before that could happen.
And one of the most effective ways to do that was, quite simply, to get somebody else to shoot the annoying son-of-a-frak off your tail. “This is Sideshow Two… I’m hit, I’m hit… can’t shake this guy, someone get him off me!”
One of the supporting Rapiers responded instantly, much to his relief. “Hang tight, Minstrel, I got your bandit. Come around to 332 and gun your engines.”
The pilot known as Minstrel broke hard to the right and rammed his fighter’s throttle to the stops. The enemy pilot followed in his wake, still intent on getting the kill, which was exactly what the Confederation pilots wanted.
So focused on shooting down his first target, the Dominion pilot didn’t notice a pair of Rapiers slicing straight towards him, guns ready. A short burst of weapons fire later, and it was all over but the crying.
“Nice shooting, Zakram. I owe you one.”
“Actually, it’s more like eight. Remember that time on Rabanastre? And what about the Archades mission?”
Slayer Four’s triumphant crowing was cut short by an annoyed transmission from his squadron leader. “Cut the chatter, folks. Bombers, get those torpedoes locked and launched. Fighters, keep ‘em covered. We got momentum, people, let’s not lose it. Disable those transports, their fighters, their friends, their family, everything! Get me?”
There were five transports in all. Each had taken one torpedo hit directly amidships, which was more than enough to blow past the rather thin shields that defended them. With the shields down, it was time to switch roles. Their task complete, the Sabres switched effortlessly from their bomber roles to their fighter roles. Each of the Sideshow pilots broke in different directions, locking onto enemy fighters and gunning for them, mass-drivers and particle guns blazing.
The enemy fighters suddenly went from the hunters to the hunted, and the abrupt change in tactics sent their commanders reeling. The squadrons struggled to maintain cohesion, as flight leaders were distracted by the arduous task of reining in their pilots and getting them back on track.
In the meantime, the Blue Devils went on the offensive. While their weapons weren’t as powerful as their counterparts in the other squadrons, they were still better equipped for the task they were about to attempt. The leader of the Devils called her pilots into formation, then dove straight for the first transport. As her flight neared its target, elements began to break away, moving out of formation, so that each of the five transports was dogged by two of her pilots. She and her wingman attacked the first, flitting around the transport’s engines, guns firing non-stop. They swooped straight in for the drive nacelles, fired, dodged some return flak, and then retargeted, strafing across the transport’s defensive turrets.
Durasteel flared white-hot, then cooled almost instantly in the frigid vacuum of space, as roiling plasma met armor plating. The flak from the transport lessened, then ceased entirely as the two Valkyrie pilots systematically and methodically stripped their target of its defenses, all while their comrades kept the defending fighters busy and unable to effectively retaliate.
Captain Janys Kavarin smiled to herself as she threw her Valkyrie into a Split-S and broke away from the enemy transport. The last remaining gunner swiveled his turret to try and track her, and a few stray rounds pinged off her shields. She grit her teeth in a grim smile, then kicked her rudder pedals.
Her Valkyrie spun on a dime, its exhaust nacelles twisting with the rotation to make the turn even tighter than any other ship could manage. Her craft managed a full 180 degree reversal, and she kicked her throttle forward to the stops, throwing every ounce of power in her engines into pushing her ship forward.
The move effectively left her hanging motionless in space for a few moments, and completely stymied the enemy gunner. His hasty attempts at correcting his aim passed harmlessly over her cockpit. She kicked her fighter into a quick barrel roll just to annoy him further, then brought her targeting reticule into line. She squeezed the trigger, stitching a burst of laser fire across the gun position and turning it into a smoking crater. “This is Devil One, Transport Gold has been disabled and is clear for boarders.”
“Omega Team, you are clear for insertion,” came the voice over the command frequency. “Alpha, Delta, Epsilon, and Sigma Teams, standby until your targets are disabled.”
“Understood, Command. Moving in now.” Major Falynn “Raven” Llyr turned in her seat, poking her head out of the troop transport’s passenger bay and into the cockpit. She grinned, and there was a clearly predatory gleam in her eye as she winked at the landing craft’s pilot. “You heard the man, get us in there.”
He replied with a grin of his own, smoothly working the controls of his ship and sending it barreling down on the helpless transport. “You got it, Major.”
Falynn turned back, making eye contact with each of the troopers in the transport. She smirked. “Ok, kids. Time to break stuff.”
Imoen was smiling. This was a common enough occurrence.
Today, however, Ensign Nalia de’Arnisse knew something was just a bit… out of the ordinary, and it was that unusualness that had her worried. Well, that, and the fact that she’d never been part of a Marine-style boarding action before. As an officer in the Confederation fleet, she’d had to practice -repelling- boarders… not being one. The switch in mentalities hadn’t been an easy one to make.
“Hang tight, Ensign,” Imoen said, that irrepressibly cheerful smile of hers growing broader with each and every passing moment. She had leaned over a little bit in her seat, her face almost a little too close for comfort. She was chewing gum. Something citrus-flavored by the smell of it. And her lips were making loud, smacking noises as she did it.
“I’m strapped in, Lieutenant,” Nalia replied, keeping her voice as steadfastly neutral as she could manage. She’d been taking lessons in impassivity from Sergeant Corthala – after all, the last two bastions of sanity in the squad had had to band together for mutual defense. Valygar’s expert tutelage had helped some, but there was only so much a girl’s “game face” could do when confronted with the unbridled… enthusiasm of someone like 2nd Lieutenant Imoen “Harlequin” Llyr.
“Yeah, but hang on, anyway… our pilot? There’s a reason why they call him ‘The Vominator.’”
Nalia cocked her head to the side, throwing Imoen a skeptical look. She’d learned the hard way that in these kinds of situations, it was normally best to just… try and ignore the Lieutenant. Unfortunately, morbid curiosity still tended to get the better of her from time to time. “The Vominator?”
“Yep,” Harlequin said with a grin bordering on cruel. “You’ll see.”
Nalia was just about to make some kind of sarcastic comment in reply when her stomach suddenly jumped into her throat as the troop transport turned hard, then went into a series of completely unnecessary snap rolls that threw the helpless passengers around in their seats. The ship’s artificial gravity attempted to compensate, but wasn’t quite able to keep up with the demands the pilot was putting on his vessel. Nalia felt her breakfast coming back up and clamped her jaw shut, determined to avoid an… embarrassing eruption. She succeeded, mostly, but it was a precariously close thing.
And that was when the ship launched headlong into a screeching hard turn.
“Look out, she’s gonna blow!” Imoen quickly handed her stricken friend a space-sickness bag and then pulled as far away as her seat restraints would allow. That same idiot-grin she’d been wearing earlier remained plastered on her face as horrific retching noises came from the young woman next to her.
Falynn sighed and rolled her eyes. “And the Vominator delivers,” she quipped in annoyance. She poked her head back into the cockpit and snarled at the man sitting behind the transport’s controls. “Havarian! What have I told you about making the newbies puke?”
“Sorry, Major,” the pilot replied, not sounding very sorry at all, though at least he managed to stifle his grin. “But a Dominion interceptor was lining up to take a shot at us. Didn’t want our little boat here getting shot out from underneath us. You understand, of course. Right?”
From a short distance behind him, Nalia shakily held up a finger. Just the one.
Imoen giggled. “You ok, Nals?”
“Oh, I’m fine,” Nalia lowered her middle finger and replied, her voice ragged. “It was mostly dry heaves. You got any more of that gum?”
The Dominion transport had its main docking port sited on its starboard side, just forward of the engineering section. The area had taken light damage during the assault, but nothing too serious. The Confed pilots had been intentionally careful not to do too much harm to their target since excessive hull damage would’ve made the boarding operation to follow much more difficult. Havarian guided the Confederation troop transport close to the docking port, using gentle nudges from his ship’s thruster banks to properly line the two ships up with each other. His hands hovered over his controls, touching them only lightly whenever he needed to make a course correction.
The docking operation was slow and graceful, a stark contrast to the vicious dogfights that were still raging all around them, as fighters swirled about, taking shots at each other, turning hard to shake pursuers or to get on an enemy’s tail. It was like the proverbial eye of the storm, a pocket of unusual calm amidst a roiling maelstrom.
After a few seconds that seemed longer than they actually were, Havarian nudged the ship those last few centimeters towards the Dominion craft. There was a soft thud that reverberated through both ships as the two hulls came into contact. He flicked a switch on his console, and a metallic cofferdam extended from the transport, encompassing the seal between the two craft, and making an air-tight connection. “Ladies and gentlemen, we have arrived. For those of you needing to reset your chronometers, local time is 1335 hours. Temperature is approximately 22 degrees Centigrade, slightly overcast, with medium to high humidity and a chance of Dominion troop counterattack. Thank you for flying Havarian Spacelines, we hope you’ll choose us again for any further boarding operation needs. Have a pleasant stay.”
Falynn snorted and undid her seat restraints, getting quickly to her feet. She took a quick glance about the passenger cabin and saw that the members of Omega Squad and the Marine units supporting them had already worked free of their restraints, and were lining up by the docking hatch. She nodded to herself, satisfied with her unit’s combat readiness, and headed for the docking hatch herself.
The order of the day was a “Traffic Interdiction Operation” on the Dominion convoy. Falynn loved the phrase. She thought “Traffic Interdiction Operation” was a lovely euphemism for “Heavy-Duty Military Hijack.” As for what was being hijacked, well, if one wanted to be fair about it, the Confederation was just taking back something that had been stolen from them first: namely a half dozen surface to space missiles loaded with experimental quadranium warheads. The weapon prototypes had been captured from a Confederation R&D facility three days previous, and the Dominion had immediately loaded them on transports bound for their homeworlds, where members of their science caste could pick the things apart and reverse engineer them.
Confederation High Command had been rather adamant that this not be allowed to happen, and had decided that the T.C.S. Gallante was the perfect choice for the interception mission. The Gallante was a Trafalgar-class cruiser, one of the newest to emerge from the Confederation shipyards. She was fast, heavily armed, and was home to some of the most highly skilled Marine and Space Operations detachments in the fleet - perfect for a penetration raid behind enemy lines, ducking past Dominion patrols, avoiding their early-warning sensor stations, and generally avoiding making a big fuss until finding her target.
Forty-eight hours of playing cat and mouse with the Dominon convoy were about to pay off. Right now.
“Trigger finger. Itches.” Harlequin stood near the entrance to the transport’s bridge, her compact laser carbine trained on the Dominion transport’s bridge crew. Every so often, one of the Dominion naval ratings reached a hand towards some control bank or other, only to catch a stun blast in the forehead for his trouble. The bridge of the transport was littered with insensate orcs, some of them face down in puddles of their own spittle, and yet the rest didn’t seem to be getting wise.
“Raven” smirked at her younger sister, then berated herself for allowing that tiny bit of unprofessionalism to overcome her. “Rein it in, Omega Two,” she said, trying to inject some measure of sternness into her voice, but not completely succeeding. “We’re gonna need some of them awake to fly this ship.”
Falynn shoved the unconscious transport captain out of his command chair, but it was like moving a sack full of rocks. He thumped heavily to the deck. She sighed and nudged the orc the rest of the way clear of the seat with the toe of her boot, then turned towards her X.O., fixing her with an annoyed stare. “What did I just say?”
If Imoen was in any way intimidated by being chastised by her squad leader/older sister, she didn’t show it. At all. She merely shrugged. “Well, geez, Lynn, would you rather I have let him flick that self-destruct switch?” She nodded at the control board the transport’s captain had been hunched over just several seconds previous, then took her finger off her carbine’s trigger and let the muzzle drop towards the deck.
“It wasn’t a self-destruct switch,” Falynn muttered as she inspected the control board in front of her, especially the big, red button the transport skipper’s hand had been hovering near. She squinted as she tried to make out the orcish script, but really, the fact that the button was big and red was enough to convince her that allowing him to press it would have been… bad. She wasn’t, however, about to let Imoen have the satisfaction of knowing that.
“Wasn’t a self-destruct switch? Lies.”
“Actually, she’s telling the truth, Lieutenant,” Nalia said, peering over the Major’s shoulder. “That button wouldn’t have blown the ship, it would’ve just blown all the airlocks on this deck and vented the entire bridge to space.”
Falynn rolled her eyes. “Ensign?”
Nalia promptly shut up, but not before letting the barest hint of a smirk cross her features.
A few moments later, Omega Six, one Sergeant Valygar “Spectre” Corthala, walked back onto the transport’s bridge, flanked by a pair of Confederation Marines. They looked harried, and faint wisps of whitish smoke still wafted from the barrels of their pulse rifles. The Sergeant, however, looked like he always did – that is to say, completely nonplussed. He might as well have been on his way to the proverbial corner store to pick up a container of milk.
“Ship is secure, Major. We’ve got the rest of the Dominion crew in custody. The Marine squads are policing the prisoners and putting them in the cargo hold under heavy guard as we speak.”
She nodded. “All right, then. Looks like this tub is ours. Let’s get out of here. Cipher, since some of us were a little overeager when it came to discharging their weapons…” She threw a “significant” look at Imoen who rolled her eyes and poked her tongue out in response, “None of the original bridge crew is going to be able to help us.”
Imoen snorted. “Please. They wouldn’t have helped us, anyway.”
“You’re probably right, Two, but regardless, now we’ve got to get this boat home on our own. And at the moment, the Ensign here is the closest thing to a pilot we’ve got. So, think you’re up for it?”
The Navy officer shrugged easily. “Shouldn’t be too hard. Just find me some throttle controls and a flight yoke, and we’ll be all set...”
Omegas, Operation Lost Thunder (Part 1/2)
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