World War Burst: Part #14

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  • Oxford has changed the topic to: Harnesses REQUIRED when unloading ramp is open!
  • Elsa thinks the sign is bollocks, all the girls here can fly.

<Caitlin> Caitlin has, prior to this moment, briefed Joslyn and Elsa if present on her meeting with Flauri in short and passed on the message, urging them to tell Donalds nothing and to entrust Flauri with her own destiny. Best not to interfere.
<Oxford> An hour before dawn, the four converted cargo planes taxi ponderously down the runway of Albaea's largest military aerodrome. A utility vehicle fitted with a snowplow trundles along the accessway, having finished clearing the last of the night's snow just moments before. All is silent except the whine of the plane's engines, which grow to a howl as they accelerate, one after another, down the tarmac and lift off into the early morn
<Oxford> ing sky.

  • Elsa also managed to memorize a few words of novgrandi, namely: sorry, go home, and 'I don't speak Novgraandi'
  • Joslyn in turn told Caitlin about Operation Archangel and explained why she felt it necessary to put it in place. She's not truly interfering, she tells herself - just keeping her from being shot at by two sides.

<Oxford> Aboard the planes are the four remaining members of Cheswhick and Bruinham Flights, along with forty-five other girls of the same age - Albaea's entire force of Focus Users. Sitting in rough bucket seats bolted in the cargo compartments, some yawn and rub their eyes, while others try to nap or chat quietly amongst themselves.
<Caitlin> Now seems like a fine time to quietly chastise Joslyn. "Your idea will only serve to make an even worse incident of Elsa's… affair."

  • Elsa looks at Jos inccedulously, "Really, knowing that Reiker guy he will catch on to it right away. God this is going to be worse."

<Joslyn> "It's not just an idea, and I have a mission plan signed by a commanding officer, plus a telegraph tape from GHQ authorizing it. Everything's above board from any angle he could attack it from."
<Caitlin> "Reiker is, by no means, unintelligent. He knows the law and he's sharp. His weakness lies in his temper. I can't guarantee that, were this to go to court, our case would be strong enough to save you. There just aren't the same extenuating circumstances."
<Elsa> "Maybe, I'm sure he'll find something wrong with it. He's a clever asshole"
<Caitlin> "That's not even considering all the other people who might notice something wrong, grudge or no."
<Joslyn> "You're acting as if he's going to have any reason to dig through every signle mission authorization on file. I wouldn't be doing this if I didn't have all my i's dotted."

  • Aerendis sits quietly near the others, not really filled in on the whole plan. Not that she minds much. She loads and reloads her pistol repeatedly out of boredom, listening to the droning of the engines.

<Elsa> "Maybe but if Reiker is as angry as I think he is at Westfield, he looks like the kind of person to do that sort of thing." she says gloomily
<Caitlin> "Joslyn, are you familiar with the concept of plausible deniability?"

  • Elsa shakes her head, "What is it?" SHe really doesn't know, even if the question was directed towards Joslyn.

<Joslyn> "Very. It's arguably what saved us at Elsa's trial."
<Oxford> Due to Col. Macacre's reorganizations, there's technically no such thing as Cheswhick or Bruinham Flights, anymore. Each squad has been broken down into groups of seven, with a lieutenant in charge of each.
<Caitlin> "Then why did you have to take it away from me?"
<Joslyn> "I didn't. All I did was inform you of an operation that's concerning a friend of yours. Nothing more." Joslyn will smile sweetly, although she's kicking herself on the inside.
<Oxford> Joslyn and Caitlin, therefore, each have their own squads, as does Paige. Elsa and Aerendis have both been assigned to Caitlin; the balance of both squads are relative newcomers.
<Caitlin> Caitlin sighs, "This strategy is so… Tactless."
<Oxford> Everyone has already been issued their radio headsets, though until the assault begins they've been instructed to leave them off. The girls are in Glory 3, the third plane to take off. Colonel Macacre himself is onboard Glory 1, to command the operation personally.
<Joslyn> "What, one gigantic furball? Yeah, I don't like it either."
<Caitlin> "I fully expect both sides to undergo heavy losses."
<Elsa> "I'll kick the Colonel on the head if thats the case." She says angrily, "I don't like him…in a different way from Reiker."
<Joslyn> "He wants to win the war…and doesn't care about what it'll do to us. I don't think he understands what's gonna be going on up there…"
<Caitlin> "This is a selfish man. He doesn't want to end the war quickly for the sake of the people, he wants to win for personal glory. At whatever cost. He only wants it to be sooner for the sake of convenience, not for the preservation of life."
<Aerendis> "You don't /Think/ he does? He's a complete incompetant. He shouldn't be trusted with a game of chess." Aerendis says angrily. Quite loudly too.
<Joslyn> "…I'm really thinking about pulling my squadron out if things look like we'll lose more than we can gain. Would you do it?"
<Aerendis> "So you're thinking of leaving before we get to the battlefield, then?"
<Caitlin> "It is my feeling, at this moment, that we already have more to lose than gain. This mission is about making them lose more than we do. Should circumstances be bleak enough, I am willing to take certain measures."
<Oxford> Outside, the sun rises over Albaea behind them. Through the cargo transport's round windows, they can see the other planes in the formation appear to glow from below and behind, high enough that the beams of light slipping around their wings shine upward rather than downward.
<Elsa> "I'm staying anyways, I'm not letting him let the others die, and if they do, I'm not going to let him forget it." She says with gritted teeth.
<Joslyn> "I won't run away from a fight just because it's a fight. But we're supposed to have a numerical advantage. If we lose that advantage, I'm not willing to risk another girl's life on fate alone."
<Oxford> The radio crackles as an hourly status report comes through from Glory 1: "ETA 90 minutes, no changes." The voice is that of Macacre's XO, Lt. Colonel Flittmeyer.
<Elsa> "I'm staying alone if I have to, save as many girls as I can."
<Caitlin> "Lives on the battlefield are always puppeteered by the strings of fate."
<Joslyn> "Then we'll have to show the puppetmaster a thing or two."

  • Elsa keeps quiet for the rest of the trip.

<Aerendis> "Keep in mind, everyone…If we have to go to the ground at any point, stay away from open spaces and always stay behind cover. Even with these Pendants, a few lucky bullets can still…Well, you know."
<Oxford> The lives the two officers will be puppeteering, for this mission at least, are a dozen girls. Caitlin's squadron has Elsa and Aerendis, the girl introduced as Dorris, and three girls from what was once Osterham Flight who quietly confer amongst themselves. Joslyn has been assigned Amelia as an XO, along with five girls she'd never met before the mission began. She knows them all by name, but not much else; there's been no time for
<Oxford> practice before the mission.
<Aerendis> "A large, well aimed bullet can tear things apart pretty well…Expecially if they have anything made for taking down targets like us. Expecially now that they have their own." Aerendis continues, mostly just talking to herself.
<Caitlin> Caitlin, for one, seems to be listening to Aeri rather intently. Despite her age, the foreign girl is the most experienced of the whole lot as a soldier, even if not with magic.

  • Elsa barely listens, last time she had to fight against infantry they didn't do anything, even with machine gun nests.

<Aerendis> "I really don't think anyone here has any real countersniper experience…And Novgoraadi Snipers tend to be a lot better than Albaean ones."
<Caitlin> "Erratic flight patterns should make the work of snipers very, very challenging."
<Aerendis> "Like I said, they'll only be a problem on the ground. Air targets aren't a priority for snipers."
<Caitlin> "Understood."
<Joslyn> "Just…make sure you keep everyone in line, Caitlin. the last thing I want to hear is that we lost too many focus users because of blue-on-blue combat."
<Oxford> The radio cuts in over their discussion: "Attention! Blockade ahead - Two Nov destroyers sighted, possible air cover as well. Glory 3, break off and engage hostiles."
<Caitlin> Caitlin folds her arms and sharply fixes Joslyn with a disapproving glare, "I'll see what I can do. It would seem we're needed."

  • Joslyn stares at Elsa and Caitlin. the two she's spent all year with - the last two she feels she can rely on when things are down. "Dont die, you two. That's an order."

<Oxford> The girls feel the deck shift beneath them as the cargo plane banks toward its target. The other planes continue on their course, gradually pulling away as Glory 3 slips out of formation.
<Aerendis> "Good, I don't have any obligation to stay alive, then." Aerendis says, sighing as she gets ready.
<Joslyn> "I don't need to remind you, Hosgaard. You already know the hell we have to deal with."
<Caitlin> "Aeri, I fully intend to do everything within my power to keep you living."
<Aerendis> "Thanks. And it's 'Højgaard'."

  • Elsa can't spell Aerendis' names either but she giggles at someone else getting corrected

<Oxford> An enlisted man enters the cargo compartment through a small hatch, narrow enough he has to turn sideways as he passes through. "Alright, harness up! Lt., who's going out there?" It isn't clear which of the two girls he's speaking to; he probably doesn't know himself.
<Joslyn> "…" Joslyn is going to let Caitlin field that one.
<Caitlin> "I'll take my unit out, if you wish to stay and provide reinforcements if needed, Miss Joslyn."
<Joslyn> "…I think we'll need the time to get things together. Make it happen, and don't be afraid to call me in."
<Oxford> The girls of both units slip on their harnesses, headsets in place, and await their orders nervously.

  • Aerendis similarily gets ready to go.

<Joslyn> While Caitlin's unit is readying themselves, Joslyn calls her flight over for one last chat. "Okay…before we have to fight, I wanna say a few things."

  • Elsa still thinks the harnesses are a terrible idea, everyone here can and should be able to fly, they can just…jump out.

<Elsa> Even if they fall they can just fly.
<Joslyn> "First…I want to thank each and every one of you for being here. What we're doing isn't pretty, and I'm pretty sure that today may come back to haunt us when we grow up. But if we can pull this off…then we'll not have to drag any other innocent kids into this. That's who you're fighting for today."
<Joslyn> "Second, I want each and every one of you to find at least one other focus user and stay glued to them up there. We're a team, and I want us to operate like a team, not a group of scared little girls." …even if some of them are.
<Oxford> While Joslyn gives her speech, the noise inside the cargo compartment suddenly increases as hydraulic pistons drive the doors of the bay open. As soon as the door shows a sliver of sunlight from outside, a tremendous howling fills the compartment, loud even through the headphones. The airman waves Caitlin's unit forward on their lines. "Deploy when ready, ma'am!" he says, shouting to be heard above the din.
<Caitlin> Caitlin wastes no time. Transform and go.
<Joslyn> "That brings me to my third point. If you ever get seperated from your wing, head straight up and keep out of the furball. Call in that you got split up, I'll direct traffic as best I can to get you with another one of ours. Anyone have any questions?"

  • Elsa jumps off the plane, burning the stupid equipment off as she transforms mid-air. "Jeez did we really need that?"

<Oxford> The other four girls leap from the back of the plane, one after another, transforming as they fall in a series of flashes and bangs. Dorris is the last to clear the bay, tripping as she jumps and tumbling head over heels a dozen meters before righting herself and transforming. The squadron slips into formation on Caitlin's lead, scanning for targets below.

  • Aerendis hurries behind, taking a deep breath before jumping out of the plane and jolting after the others, gun at the ready.

<Caitlin> Caitlin leads the way—she, Elsa, and Aerendis will be targeting one destroyer while the other 4 take on its counterpart.

  • Joslyn waits for the call for help should it come, while fielding any questions her squadron may have.
  • Elsa follows Caitlin, "I'm telling you, I can just feel something wrong is going to happen. Just like every other mission we've been two. Bad luck I tell you."

<Caitlin> "I know. Let's stick close."
<Oxford> Far below, two Novgoraadi destroyers slice through the waves, seperated by about a kilometre of open sea. They're probably there as part of the blockade that's been keeping the Occupied Zone of northern Gaulia cut off from reinforcements and supplies.
<Oxford> At Caitlin's orders, the four girls - Dorris, Arnette, Belia, and Chrysilla - streak off toward the vessel on the left, two arcing high and two dropping low to skim the waves.
<Oxford> The other ship grows larger as their own element approaches. Caitlin can make out turrets of various sizes, all swivelling toward the approaching Focus Users.
<Caitlin> "Evasive maneuvers, everybody. Their turrets spotted us."
<Oxford> High above, Joslyn can see the group of girls split into two, each going after a different target. The rest of her unit is lined up behind her, harnesses strapped in to the cargo craft's safety lines. Their faces are anxious but stern, ready to do their duty if called upon.

  • Elsa begins moving erratically, but progressively getting closer to the battleship. She does a new trick, the one she used back when she was being held in HQ to abvoid any damage that may befall her.
  • Oxford has changed the topic to: Aerendis -> Elsa -> Caitlin -> GFN Dneipergrad

<Oxford> Below them, the destroyer holds its course, cutting swiftly through the waves. Ærendis can make out one large turret and four smaller ones, with an array of machine-gun mountings completing the ship's AA defenses. A pait of torpedo launchers flank the bridge, and a tall radio tower reaches above that.

  • Aerendis dives straight down towards the water, pulling up at the last second. Now that she's hopefully safe from most of the heavy AA fire, she launches a barrage of magical bullets at the water line of the ship's hull, hoping to make it take on water. Seems efficient, right?

<Oxford> The bullets enter the water just before hitting the ship, sending a shower of splashs dancing over the waves. Ærendis can hear the bullets spranging off the ship's thick metal hull, but it isn't breached. Sustained fire at the same point might do the trick.

  • Elsa dives into the bridge of the ship as fast as she can, if she takes out the command crew its all easier from there, she can cook the ship alive if she manages to get low enough

<Caitlin> Caitlin dives down in a spiralling pattern as she approaches the biggest of the turrets. Her penstroke is fast and accurate as she spells out Separate.
<Oxford> The twin 88mm turret does just that, as the two long artillery barrels strain away from one another, like a wishbone being broken by two children. The gun on the left gives way first, buckling and twisting away from its pair. With the strain relieved, the other half of the turret straightens back into position, its gunners pumping at the adjustment wheels to bring its firepower to bear.
<Oxford> They get the massive gun aimed and ready, and it belches fire as it sends a massive flak shell skyward.
<Caitlin> Caitlin just writes the word no in the air in front of her.
<Oxford> The shell stops, dismayed, and then plummets into the sea.
<Oxford> The four smaller turrets, 37mm autocannons, have found targets as well. The guns bark as bursts of cannon fire shoot toward Elsa and Caitlin, tracers glowing in the gloom of dawn.
<Caitlin> Caitlin tries to bob and weave to evade.
<Oxford> A shell finds Caitlin, striking her squarely in the left thigh. She tumbles from the force of the impact, her barrier struggling to turn asside the big shell's momentum.

  • Elsa shoots a burst of fire in front of her as soon as she sees where the shells are aiming, it melts both shells and hits the water besides the boat letting off a could of steam. The bullets themselves went off course as they lost their aerodynamic shape.

<Oxford> Over the radio, the second half of the squadron's chatter fills the airwaves. "Kingfisher, I'm hit!" - "Steady, Ramrod, I've got him!" - "Watch out! Break now!"
<Joslyn> "Bookworm, status report! You need us down there?"

  • Caitlin has quit (Ping timeout)
  • Oxford has changed the topic to: Elsa -> Aerendis -> Caitlin -> GFN Dneipergrad
  • Rainy (||b) has joined #WorldWarBurst
  • Elsa curves and crashes into the bridge, as soon as she breaks the glass she lets loose a torrent of flames in all directions, not really aimin at anything in articular

<Oxford> As she comes in close, a pair of Novgoraadi marines manning point defense machine guns open fire on her, sending a stream of rifle-caliber rounds stitching through the air behind her. The command staff hit the deck as Elsa smashes through the glass, but the gunners aren't as lucky. Her fireball engulfs both of them, and they stagger away, their uniforms burning.

  • Aerendis continues to unload at the same spot on the hull. Making it sink seems much more efficient. Plus she's slightly busy thinking about things. Dealing with big guns and such is too much work.

<Oxford> Her sustained fire is taking its toll. The ship's hull is deeply cratered, gleaming silver beneath the ea-black paint. Almost through…
<Oxford> *sea
<Rainy> Caitlin tries to swoop in to write more on the big gun, though that might not work out so well!
<Oxford> As Caitlin swoops low, pen in hand, one of the AA guns swings around to follow her. Its gunner slashes the barrel across her flightpath and squeezes the trigger, praying to his foreign gods for a hit. Today, they answer: a 37mm mass of metal rockets into Caitlin mid-flight, breaking her out of her attack run and sending a sharp pain through her body.
<Oxford> One of the marines manning the machineguns finally notices Ærendis hard at work at the waterline. He strains to get his weapon rotated low enough to draw a bead on her, but gets her in his sights and opens up with a steady stream of lead. The bullets fall all around her, some ricochetting off the ship's hull, some hitting the ocean and spraying her with saltwater. Others find their target, and a half-dozen strikes dance across her
<Oxford> body, each like a solid punch.

  • Rainy is now known as Caitlin

<Oxford> As Caitlin spirals away from the deck, she sees the ship's huge flak cannon fire in her peripheral vision. Too late, she its target: her. Time slows, and the explosive artillery shell seems to hang for a moment in the air directly in front of her, rotating gently. Then it explodes, and the last thing Caitlin sees before she blacks out is a shrapnel-filled fireball that fills her vision.
<Caitlin> Caitlin, fortunately, has just enough time to pull a small last resort trick. She tosses a piece of paper she'd concealed in her robes to the wind. On it was the word Revenge, and the paper folds itself into an airplane as it seeks out the gun, exploding into a ball of whtie flame as it reaches the weapon. Meanwhile, Caitlin drops into unconsciousness, mid-air, likely dropping
<Caitlin> physically as well.

  • Oxford has changed the topic to: TURN 3: Joslyn -> Aerendis -> Elsa -> GFN Dneipergrad
  • Joslyn sees Caitlin drop to the deck, and knows that it can't be good if she's doing that. She'll whistle to get her squadron's attention.

<Oxford> From about a kilometre to port, a glow like sunrise gathers, due north of them. The radio comes alive with Dorris' voice: "O-oh no! Not now! Everybody, ru-!"
<Joslyn> "Heads up, we're heading in! XO, on me to the ship at our 11! The rest of you, form up with the others on the ship at 5 o'clock. Let's MOVE!" Joslyn barks orders as she races towards the ship.

  • Elsa 's head perks up from the daze of landing in the bridge, its more disorienting than you may think. "Dorris? Damnit they said she had it under control!"

<Oxford> A massive explosion, like a miniature supernova, bursts outward from where the other destroyer was. Joslyn's squad is mid-deployment as it happens, and the last two girls don't clear the hatch as Glory 3 bucks in the shockwave. As the light fades, the black underside of the second destroyer's hull is all that's left above-water where Dorris' flight had been. Bodies and debris litter the surface.
<Oxford> Amelia sticks close to Joslyn as the two race toward the remaining ship. Far below, Caitlin hits the water with a splash, her stunned teammates still blinking the spots from their eyes.

  • Joslyn tries her best to conjure up some manner of seive to keep Caitlin from falling into the dark abyss of the ocean
  • Elsa does her best to try not go running where dorris was as she manages to barely see the 5 dots heading there, she has work to do here. She still resists the temptation to chase to where the battleship used to be.

<Oxford> The wordsmith is scooped up gently, the water straining away as Joslyn pulls her out.
<Joslyn> "Galm Team, fish our people out of the water and get them back to the Glory 3! Anyone with healing capabilities, head directly to my location!"
<Oxford> Ærendis' barrage is finally more than the destroyer's light armor can withstand. A seam appears just below the waterline, and quickly widens until it's large enough for Ærendis to fit her whole body through, headfirst. A flood of seawater gushes into the ship's lower decks.

  • Elsa meanwhile decides to do exactly the opposite, instead of putting water into the ship, she puts fire into it. SHe spreads her hand and points it towards the exit of the bridge and lets out a gout of flame that goes down into the dephs of the ship.
  • Elsa has quit (Quit: )

<Oxford> The captain and his command staff are the first to die, wreathed in the white-hot inferno. From the screams that echo up from deep within the ship, they aren't the last. Damage control teams scurry frantically, fighting a losing battle against fire and water.
<Oxford> Amelia swoops above the stricken ship, a monstrous sword of blood twice her height in one hand. She slashes through a turret and its crew in one stroke. "Ironmaiden! This ship's toast; we should pull out!"

  • Aerendis flies up and lands on the deck now that she's started sinking the destroyer. "So, is this enough for a retreat? Caitlin is down and it looks like someone exploded over there. Seems like enough reason to give up this dumb assault to me."

<Joslyn> "…Yeah. XO, Hojgaard. Think you two can help the rest of my team fish Dorris and the others out of the drink? I'm going to see if I can't wake Caitlin up."
<Aerendis> "Sure. Do you want me to grab the limbs and guts and stuff, or only the ones who are still alive?" Aerendis asks, quickly checking how much ammunition she has left.
<Caitlin> At the moment, the redhead's just limply lying on the metal sieve.
<Joslyn> "…Operate on the assumption they're just wet and not dismembered. If that assumption proves false, radio in and we'll go from there."

  • Aerendis shrugs and flies off to go grab some floating girls.
  • Joslyn closes her eyes as steel leaks from her arms, removing the shrapnel and sealing wounds as it passes over Caitlin's injuries.
  • Caitlin (||b) has left #WorldWarBurst

<Oxford> Ærendis finds a mess of flotsam…and bodies. Three of the girls have already been pulled out of the water by Joslyn's squadron, in varying states of injury, but the other is nowhere to be found.

  • Caitlin (||b) has joined #WorldWarBurst

<Caitlin> "…A-ah… It can't be over, can it…?" Her eyes remain shut as she groans, the warm blanket of unconsciousness abruptly torn from her and letting the lingering pain of injury return.
<Joslyn> "Sorry. You took a nasty hit from an explosive, the shrapnel must have been what knocked you out. Dunno how you managed to take out the big gun though - it's what ultimately let us take the ship down."
<Caitlin> Caitlin spits up a little bit of blood and coughs, "Casualties?"
<Joslyn> "A whole bunch on their side. Especially after Dorris…" She'll point to the wreckage of the other ship. "XO, do we have everyone accounted for over there?"
<Oxford> Amelia arrives to help Ærendis search. Between the two of them, they spot Chrysilla floating lifelessly a few metres underwater. The sea around her is splotched with reddish clouds.
<Oxford> "Roger, Maiden. Pulling the last of 'em out now."

  • Joslyn listens to the radio reporting and purses her lips.

<Joslyn> "…down one."
<Caitlin> Caitlin bolts upright. "Who?!"

  • Aerendis grabs the girl. There's an off chance she could live, and if not, still no reason to let her get eaten by fish.
  • Joslyn asks and briefly describes the unfortunate victim, making sure to be clear it's not Elsa or Aerendis.

<Caitlin> Caitlin's head turns down, letting her hair fall to conceal her face. "…If she dies, then whoever put me in charge is twice the fool I thought they were and I'm half as clever as I ever thought I was."

  • Aerendis lands back on the sinking ship, dropping the girl.

<Oxford> Amelia gives the one-armed girl a hand, getting the wounded User up and out of the water. Ærendis feels a faint pulse. She's alive, but the gaping wound in her side threatens to make that a temporary condition. "Damnit," hisses Amelia, "we've gotta get her out of here, stat."
<Aerendis> "Really? Who knew!" Aerendis says, heading back to the ship.
<Joslyn> "Wait…" There's no reason to rush if she was dead… "Is she not…?"
<Oxford> The confusion coming in over the radio isn't helping matters any. Joslyn and Caitlin can only wait as the long seconds drag past. Finally, someone - Ester - comes in over the line: "She's alive, barely. We need to get out of here."

  • Joslyn will wrap the girl's entire torso in silvery metal to keep what little blood is still in her in her. From there, she'll whistle over the radio again to get them all to shut up.

<Oxford> They do.
<Joslyn> "All Albean Air Force personnel, return to the air carrier, the most injured go first. No need to push and shove, we're all on the same team here."
<Caitlin> Poor Caitlin can't fly ;_;
<Joslyn> then she'll get to ride on the magic steel seive, which suddenly became much less seive-like.
<Oxford> The remnants of Caitlin's squadron are slowly lifted airborne by Joslyn's troops, most still unconscious.

  • Joslyn radios to Glory 1 that the two destroyers have been scuttled, and none of the albean forces died. She will impress tht several were badly wounded and the squadron will need ample recovery time before a follow-up sortie.
  • Joslyn will pull Caitlin aside and share the results of the casualty report.

<Oxford> The flight back up to Glory 3 is slower than the descent, and more somber. By the time the injured girls are loaded back into the cargo hold, the casualty list has been established: three girls injured, one badly enough she'll probably never fly again. Two Pendants have also been lost, shattered in the explosion and scattered across the waves.
<Oxford> /session