Client Kezika Wylair walked quickly across the landing pad towards a ship, dressed in a long black gown featuring bright platinum filigree touches throughout. From her right shoulder to left hip she wore a sash of interleaved platinum and white gold inverted chevrons, denoting her as an Imperial Client of the Keltim system. On the sash was a particularly Thargoid-shaped platinum, diamond, and painite jeweled brooch with a single void opal in the center. Her butler Amaleigh following shortly behind, carrying a pair of suitcases and dressed in a more subtle tuxedo style outfit of black with platinum buttons and chains.
It wasn't her own ship this time around, but the Spasmatasm, a Krait Mk II of one of her Simbad Regime associates, one CMDR Scrabbles. It was engineered for anti-xeno combat. While Kezika has her own anti-xeno fighter, the Ripley, it was currently docked at a station in the Witch Head Nebula, and this contract from Hodack's administrators required a quicker turnaround.
The missions was to fly out to Penal Colony BV-2259 on HIP 16217 AB 1 A and exterminate a Thargoid Interceptor that was sticking around the site. This was Hodack's prison facility serving the Pleiades systems. That was until it came under attack by a Thargoid shortly after their appearances became more commonplace. Now that the Thargoids have been mostly beaten back after the campaign in the Witch Head Nebula, it seemed a fit time to reclaim it. So for that, they turned to CMDR Kezika, one of their frequent contractors that also had some anti-xeno experience.
The two waited at the bottom of the stairlift as CMDR Scrabbles came down the lift.
"Hey Kez, found a pilot to bring along as well I see?" inquired Scrabbles.
Kezika was confused for a moment, then realized what he meant, "No, this is my butler Amaleigh."
Scrabbles cocked his head slightly, "Why would you bring a butler on a mission to kill a literal alien warship?"
Kezika blinked twice and replied, "You don't?"
"Uh.…well, step aboard," diffused Scrabbles as he stepped back onto the lift platform and motioned for Kezika to join him.
Upon ascension into the ship's antechamber, Scrabbles went through the door into the bridge, while Kezika and Amaleigh ducked into the door designated the crew quarters.
"Well he's certainly not the biggest on ornamentation it seems," Kezika stated looking around the sterile environs of the quarters, to which Amaleigh simply nodded in response.
Amaleigh quickly secured the luggage in provided compartments and began buckling into the seat next to the one Kezika was already strapping herself into.
Kezika activated a commlink and spoke into it, "Secure for takeoff Scrabs!"
Shortly thereafter the sensation of the landing pad lowering and rotating to launch position could be felt, and then the low rumble of the engines through the spaceframe as the ship made its way out of the station and to the first frame shift.
Once in frame shift travel, Kezika and Amaleigh activated their mag-boots and got up from the chairs to attend to other business and tasks. Kezika heading over to a mirror to apply makeup, and Amaleigh working on a computer with financial files for the Wylair Estate. Many witchspace jumps passed and only minor inertial fluctuations during ship rotations and refuelings, rarely more than a quarter G worth of force due to the nature of supercruise.
Finally the commlink to the crew quarters crackled on, "Making final approach to AB 1, prepare for glide."
Kezika and Amaleigh quickly made their way over to the secure chairs and strapped in, shortly thereafter the gravity increasing and more pitching motions inducing as the Spasmatasm moved out from supercruise and into superglide, and then finally returning to regular flight profile a few kilometers above the pinkish beige surface of planet AB 1.
"On my way to bridge," Kezika stated over the comms as the ship began to nose down, the ever so slight 0.05Gs of gravity shifting towards the forward walls. For all intents and purposes, it might as well still be 0G. Kezika pushed herself slightly towards the door as she deactivated her mag-boots, allowing her to float down to it and then through it and over to the bridge door in the antechamber.
Quickly scanning her palm on a panel, the bridge door opened and Kezika made her way through the cabin down over next to where Scrabbles was already seated in the CMDR's seat. Her appearance however had changed since Scrabbles last saw her on the loading dock in Bamford. She had taken the time on the trip over to apply green lipstick and green tinted eyeshadow. She was also no longer in the outfit she boarded with, but just a green Remlok suit and a green vest on top.
Scrabbles turned to acknowledge Kezika's presence, but made pause at the surprise appearance change.
"Green makeup…?" sputtered Scrabbles
"One must always dress for the occasion!" Kezika cheerily replied.
"Whatever you say Kez… Ah, there it is! Straight ahead, looks like a lone Cyclops interceptor to deal with." Scrabbles stated.
"I'll hop onto fighter control then!" chirped Kezika
Scrabbles made sure to ask, "Are you familiar with the Guardian ones?"
"With a Lance," Kezika added in.
"Good, there is also a Javelin bay as well." noted Scrabbles quickly.
Kezika maneuvered herself back and then over a console into the starboard crew area. She worked her way into the seat and strapped herself in. Once strapped in, she pressed a button on the armrest, prompting the standard Pilot's Federation HOTAS controls to extend.
Upon a second press of the button, the throttle on the left armrest slide over to be replaced by a joystick. Kezika firmly grasped the joysticks and made a few flicks on the hat of the right-hand stick followed by a trigger pull.
"Fighter deployment sequence initiated," blurted the COVAS, as the helmet portion of Kezika's Remlok suit slid over her head and became opaque.
Mechanical sounds echoed through the hull, and shortly after an XG-9 Lance shot forward from the ship at a frightening speed. Kezika's hands moved the sticks around and the fighter would respond in turn. Her helmet and controls linked with the fighter to allow for safe remote control as if she was aboard it herself.
Trails of Guardian shards shot past the fighter, barely missing it and striking against the Thargoid Interceptor below. The battle was now underway.
Kezika in turn fired the gauss cannons of the fighter at the Thargoid, which was not turning to face the pair of human vessels. The telltale red of the Thargoid's weaponry flying back towards the Krait. The purple hued electricity of the Krait's shielding crackling around the projectile in an attempt to destroy it and render it harmless.
After a few more shots from Scrabbles and Kezika, some lights flared up on the Cyclops and one of the petals began heating up until it was glowing red. The next few shots of the pair struck specifically at that petal. Four shots to the petal and a crackle of energy from inside ripped it apart from the base of the Interceptor as it spiraled away in the low gravity.
"Okay! One heart down, now into the canyon while the shield fades!" commanded Scrabbles as he banked the Krait towards a nearby canyon.
Kezika's fighter currently higher above dove down to follow after the Krai. She observed from above as the Krait entered the canyon, with the Thargoid chasing, but staying just above the rim of the canyon.
After a few moments of rock walls screaming past, the Krait reached the far end of the canyon and began banking around a mesa formation to another canyon.
The Lance was rapidly catching up to the chase from above. Scrabbles rounded a corner in the Krait and flew up to get above the mesa formation. Meanwhile Kezika came up the canyon behind the Interceptor before it rounded that corner itself. She flipped off the flight assist and then yawed the fighter around, timing a gauss cannon shot to strike it just before firing the fighter's boost around the corner and following the Krait up to above the mesa.
The Thargoid joined a moment later to be greeted by yet more rounds from the Krait and Lance. Another petal began to glow red with heat again after these strikes. It immediately began a rapid vertical climb at this point, but a few additional salvos of shards and projectiles and this petal too explosively detached from the Interceptor's hull. In response it began firing at the Krait. Scrabbles pitched down and began flying back towards the surface where the prison colony sat. The Interceptor as hoped followed in pursuit.
Once back within a few kilometers of the surface, Kezika flipped the fighter into a reverse flying maneuver followed by a boost to get herself positioned behind and above the Interceptor in the pursuit. She followed, firing shots at the Interceptor as it barely cleared the top of a mesa formation and then began flying vertically again, disregarding the human ships.
Kezika and Scrabbles followed in pursuit as well, managing to trigger another heart into operation during the climb with a few salvos. They were able to destroy it as well, however by the time they had they were now about twelve kilometers above the surface.
In response to the destruction of this third petal, the Interceptor began spewing a cloud of green gas from its underside, followed by a pair of missiles intended for each of the human ships. Kezika attempted to turn the fighter to evade, but there wasn't enough time as the missile hit the fighter mid-pitch, instantly destroying it.
Back on the bridge of the Spasmatasm, Kezika's Remlok helmet retracted back into her suit. Kezika began navigating the menu to deploy the other fighter, however she was interrupted by the ship shutting down in response to the pulse released by the Cyclops.
"Fuck!' exclaimed Kezika, as she tossed her drink canister across the cabin, leaving it floating around randomly after hitting the opposing wall of the bridge.
Once the power was restored Kezika quickly deployed the other fighter on the ship a Javelin. Her Remlok helmet once again closing to act as a display for the telepresence link to the fighter.
The Interceptor continued climbing vertically at a relentless pace. The Krait and Javelin barely able to keep up with it as it climbed, The Pleiades and Barnard's Loop punctuating the sky they flew towards. Both kept firing shots at the Interceptor, at one point even getting one of the petals to glow red yet again. However, they were unable to land enough shots specifically on that petal to destroy it, and it stopped glowing once more.
Kezika then boosted the fighter enough to be able to get just above the Interceptor and fly her fighter in reverse, allowing her to fire salvo after salvo of shards into the back of the Interceptor. This once again caused the petal to begin glowing red again.
Scrabbles and Kezika fired as many salvos as they could at the Interceptor, however the petal remained firmly intact. Kezika once again boosted the Javelin to above the Interceptor to attempt to get closer and more accurate shots. The Interceptor though responded this time, releasing its Thargon Swarm, which immediately opened fire on the fighter, destroying it.
This time however, Kezika was able to immediately launch a fighter, again a Lance this time as the fighter bay had finished constructing one after the last one's destruction. Disoriented though upon launch Kezika was unable to visually acquire the Interceptor and was unsure to where it went, and it was for whatever reason it was not appearing on the Lance's sensors.
"Where's the Goid?" shouted Kezika as she flew the fighter to get in flying position directly behind the Spasmatasm.
"Still backpedaling!" responded Scrabbles.
Kezika continued to follow the Spasmatasm vertically, barely surviving flying through the cloud of Thargons that fired upon her immediately after Scrabbles flew the Krait through the swarm.
A few seconds later Kezika spotted a dark circle moving upon the azura clouds of the Pleiades and realized it was the Thargoid Interceptor about 8 kilometers above them. She hastened the ascent with more boost from the fighter.
At seven kilometers out the Interceptor reappeared on her sensors once again and she was able to target it. Once in range she was able to fire a few shots onto the Thargoid, causing the petal to detonate just before the Thargon swarm caught up and destroyed the fighter yet again.
Kezika launched the Javelin fighter for now a second time. Quickly she spun the fighter around and boosted towards the Interceptor, with the Thargon swarm firing at her from behind.
She made enough distance from the swarm that most of their shots were missing. Meanwhile she fired multiple salvos into the Interceptor along with Scrabbles until finally explosions of caustic gases spewed forth from the hull in various locations, indicating that the hull had finally been breached enough to cause explosive decompression.
Scrabbles banked the Krait away from the explosion and ensuing cloud of corrosive substances. Kezika followed suit in the fighter, issuing the docking command to the ship to have it lower the docking apparatus.
Once the fighter had successfully been docked back in the hold of the ship Kezika's Remlok helmet retracted once again. The ship holding in the sky above the planet at a right angle to the ground, which splayed out portside of the ship.
"Holy fuck, finally!" exclaimed Scrabbles.
"Whoo.…that was… different," replied Kezika, referring to the unusual tactics utilized by that Interceptor.
She had only fought Thargoid Interceptors before further out in space away from planets. Indeed her only other experience with Thargoids near a planet's surface was in Maia, shortly after Professor Palin was forced to evacuate his base there, however those were of the Scout variety rather than an Interceptor.
The doors at the back of the bridge opened up and Amaleigh calmly walked in, attached to the flooring by her mag-boots. She walked over to Scrabble's left first and presented a crystal lowball glass.
"Gin sir, Anlian?" inquired Amaleigh, slightly startling Scrabbles who had henceforth been unaware of her presence.
"Oh! Uh… yes that should be fine," Scrabbles replied after a moment of mental calculation.
Amaleigh very delicately poured the dark purple gin into the glass which she had angled into the gravity. She made it look easy, but in 0.05G required a very gentle pour. She then slowly raised the glass up and handed it over to Scrabbles before proceeding over to Kezika and automatically poured her a glass as well and handed it over.
"Thank you Amaleigh," replied Kezika, to which Amaleigh bowed in response and made her way back to the crew quarters.
“Hmmm, well I suppose that’s a nice perk of an onboard butler.” noted Scrabbles.