21 September 2017. 07:02 hours.
Maverick tried to sleep, but kept waking up every hour or so. He finally gave up and went to the mess hall. When he got there he found Glory, Ice, and Sunfire had the same problem. Soon the coffee was flowing.
"You guys couldn't sleep either eh?"
"Nope." Ice replied.
"I tried everything including warm milk, which always works for me," Glory replied.
8 minutes later Dahlia showed up. In a slightly slurred voice she said "Hi guys".
"Wow we're all zombies this morning," commented Ice.
"Hey where's Angel? She's always the first one up," she asked. Almost on Que Angel came dragging into the mess hall. She headed straight for the vending machine and got a can of Red Pony, then sat down at the table.
She drank a third of the can before she spoke.
"Worst night of sleep I've ever had. So what's going on today?"
"The meeting for the mission against that laser is at 14:00. After that there's nothing," Maverick replied.
"Guess we'll try and put this crap behind us tonight then."
Soon Tex and other ponies began trickling into the hall. While eating the squadron talked about this and that, trying to take their mind off of yesterday. They got into the subject of names.
"So how did you get your name Mav?" Sunfire asked.
"Well if my cutie mark is any indication, I come from a family of professional gamblers. My grandpa was Red Stallione," he replied.
"You're gran pappy was Big Red?" Tex said with a shocked look. "Holly cow dude you're part of gambling royalty!"
"I've heard of him before," Glory said. "He isn't related to that actor is he?"
"No he wasn't. A lot of ponies thought that but we checked a long time ago."
"So did the gambling spirit rub off on you?" asked Ice.
"Oh yeah. It didn't take long for me to pick up on it. I would beat my friends often, and a couple of times my parents. After the second time Red challenged me."
"Oooooh. Did you beat him?"
"No. He didn't either. After over 3 hours of playing we finally called it a draw, and that's when I got my cutie mark. I was hoping it would be a Jack or Joker card, but it turned out to be a single spade."
"I don't think a card would've looked that good," replied Sunfire.
"Yeah well it led to me getting the nickname "Spade."
Angel snorted her energy drink.
"See what I mean?" Maverick said.
"Sorry Mav', I couldn't help it," she replied as she cleaned up the spill.
"Anyway it wasn't too bad, but it stayed with me all the way into the Air Force."
"Why did you join the Air Force instead of following your parents?" Dahlia asked.
"As much as I liked playing cards, I liked flying even more. When Crystal City had it's first air show my family went to it. I was fascinated by the old and new warbirds from around the continent on display. To top it off, the Wonderbolts did a performance in their MiG-29's. That sealed it right there."
"Niiiice," replied Ice.
"Later that airshow was credited for the increase in the size of the Gracemareia Air Force. I joined up, and my nickname stuck, and became my callsign. After I became an ace in the war with the Griffins, ponies started calling me the Ace of Spades, which did sound a little better."
"Wow, you beat the story behind my name," replied Glory.
The story gave Tex an idea to help them forget about the day before.
"Hey how long has it been since you played cards last?" he asked Maverick.
"It's been awhile. Why you want to try a few hands?"
"Yeah. I'm pretty good at Appleloosa Hold Em'. I've even got a set of chips. How about the rest of you?"
"I guess so. I know how it will end for me though," replied Angel.
"Yeah that sounds like fun," replied Sunfire.
"I don't know how to do that one. Can it be Draw Poker?" Ice asked.
"Sure. After we're done eating, meet me in the lounge."
"Alright," Maverick replied.
16 minutes later the group showed up in the lounge. Tex already had everything set up.
"You ready Spade?" Tex asked as he put on his favorite Colt Black album. [Song 1]
"Let's do it." And the game began.
Maverick was a little rusty at first, but quickly warmed up, and his stacks of chips began to grow. During the game his face didn't change by a hair. He stayed completely expressionless.
Dahlia was the first out.
"I had a feeling I'd be first," she said.
One hour later Glory and Angel ran out of chips.
"You've gotta' be card counting," Glory said.
"Glad we aren't playing for keeps," added Angel.
"Damn I should have come up with something then," Ice said to Angel.
Ice wound up being the next out, followed by Sunfire. Then 3 hours later it was down to a final hand between Tex and Maverick.
"This is it Spade. I'm all in."
"Very well. Show em'."
Tex put down a full house with 3 aces. Maverick's hand had the 4th one, along with the four kings.
"You got me," he said.
"Damn you rock," commented Ice. "You need to show those yahoos at the Emerald Coast a thing or two."
"Who are they?" Maverick asked.
3 Navy pilots who call themselves card sharks. Only because they've never come up against a real poker player," replied Glory.
"There's both Navy and Air Force pilots who want to see their leader get taken down, but so far none have. Their cockiness pisses everypony off," added Angel.
Maverick thought about it for a moment.
"Hmmm. As much as I hate to get into a deal like that, it does sound like they need a flank whooping."
"Alright!" replied Angel. "Guess we've got something to do tonight."
Sunfire looked at the clock.
"Damn it's lunch time already. That made time fly." And after Tex had picked everything up they headed back to the mess hall.
Celestia received an update from the head of the Empire's intelligence agency on the failed mission by the Republic the day before, and other battles.
"What is the status of the NLR pilots?" She asked the unicorn.
"They have only recovered 4 of them. And our forces have not been able to locate any more."
Celestia looked away. After a period of silence she spoke.
"It's their fault. If they hadn't started this they would still be alive," she said. She then turned back towards the unicorn.
"What's the status of Trottingham?"
"I wanted to save that for last but I have great news. Not only has the Royal Guard finally pushed Discord back over the border, we're 5 miles inside their line too."
Celestia's face brightened up.
"This is wonderful news! We must announce it to Equestria at once. Get a press conference set up. Oh and tell your brother he's got a dinner with me for this."
"Right away princess!"
Tex showed up in the conference room for the mission meeting. Everypony was there except for Angel.
"Where's Angel?" Tex asked.
"Probably forgot about the meeting. She had her music blasting when I walked by," replied Dahlia.
"I'll go get her," Maverick said as he got up. He could hear the music even before he got to the door. He knocked on it hard.
"Come in," she said as she put down a copy of Combat Aircraft and turned the music down.
"Hey the meeting is in 15 minutes," he said.
"Oops. I forgot," she replied.
This was the first time Maverick had seen her room. Her walls were covered with pic's of her favorite metal bands, warplanes, and angels. Lots of angels. Besides those, there was a set of shelves loaded with angel figurines and statues.
"wow. You like angels too?"
"Well duh. That's how I got my name."
"It is?" he replied.
"Yep. Might as well pick up our breakfast conversation where it left off." And she told her story.
"When I was a filly, my parents were always a little reluctant to tell me why they named me that. When I demanded it once they finally told me. Turns out I almost didn't make it at birth. Shortly after I was born I stopped breathing. The hospital room was full of doctors who did everything they could to get me breathing again. Apparently my dad kept saying 'don't dance with the angels'.
Then after about 5 minutes I started breathing again, and started rising, with my wings slowly moving. The doctors actually had to hold me down. Then suddenly I stopped floating and started crying. It was then they decided my name should be Angel, as they saw me as an angel of rebirth."
The story got to Maverick a little.
"Wow. What did your dad mean by dance with the angels?"
"I later learned that was his polite term for dying. It took about 9 years for him to admit it." She got up from her bed.
"Let's Go." And they headed to the meeting. As they walked he asked about the "Tiger" half of her name.
"Oh that came later. Half of the reason was because of my black body and orange mane, and you saw the other part at the bar. When i was a filly I did that growling a lot when I was mad, and ponies tacked that name onto mine. I later just accepted it, and that's when I added the black streaks to my mane and tail."
"Oh that's not natural?"
"I wish," she replied.
"There they are," Ice said as the two walked in.
"I was getting ready to call up a search party for you two," Tex said as he prepped the video feed.
"Damn I'm ready for this mission," commented Angel. Soon Moonstone's feed started.
"OK ponies listen up. We have located the laser. It's 30 miles North Northeast of Canterlot. The Empire calls it "Excalibur". It's a huge chemical laser designed to shoot down airborne targets, especially missiles, which means us or the Navy won't be able to destroy it with them. It must be done by aircraft. It has an estimated range of 70 miles which means nap of the earth flying again to avoid their radar".
"So how do we ingress to it?" Asked Ice.
"You will fly up the Neighagra River to about here," pointing to a spot on the map. "Then you will turn and head Northwest straight to it. To make matters worse, the weapon is protected by 4 large jamming stations, one on each side about 6 miles away from it. You will have to destroy these first or your radars and missiles will be useless.
Once they're gone, head for Excalibur. It's protected by 5 huge railway cannons which appear to be small versions of the laser. Take these out next, then focus on the four power stations that feed it from each side. Once they are gone it's power will be greatly reduced as they will have to resort to a 5th power plant located underground in the complex.
Finally attack the laser. If you can approach the laser from behind while it's firing in the other direction, your heat seekers should be able to lock on to it. Any other angle and it will fly towards the beam and get vaporized."
"Will there be any bandits?" Sunfire asked.
"No. They don't fire the laser when their aircraft are close for fear of friendly fire incidents. Which brings up the other part about this mission. The laser is in the middle of a triangle of 3 air bases. Once you appear on radar and start attacking they will launch planes, and as soon as you destroy it get the hell out of there because they will be on you like cats on June bugs."
"Lovely." Dahlia said in a low voice.
"For weapons we're giving you 4 GBU's each for the jammers and power plant, and 2 Kh-29's for the guns. Except for you Maverick. You will get 6 of the Kh-29's for use on Excalibur itself. Any questions?"
"Nope, that does it for me," replied Maverick.
"The mission begins at noon tomorrow. Good luck guys." And the feed ended.
"It's nice we get to enjoy our last supper tonight," Dahlia said.
"Don't even joke about that," Tex replied. "Just go out and enjoy yourselves tonight."
Emerald Coast Bar and Grill
The group arrived at the bar, but didn't see any sign of the poker players.
"Guess they're running late," commented Angel.
"Don't worry they'll be here," replied Ice. In the meantime they did their usual stuff, including watching the landing game. The next pilot to try it out got their attention. It was a gray alicorn with blue mane.
"Who the..." Dahlia asked.
"Oooh I can't put my finger on it, but I know I've seen him before. He's an Air Force pilot," replied Ice.
They watched him get pulled up to the start, and get released. He snagged the wire with the tailhook.
"Oh he's gonna' get hate for that since he's an alicorn," commented Angel.
He got out of the sled and ran into the group.
"Hey are you Maverick?" he asked.
"Yep. You've heard about me?"
"Oh yeah. I'm Colonel Nightshadow of the first. Callsign Shadow 2."
"That's it. I knew I've seen you somewhere before," replied Ice.
"Dash has been talking about you a lot. Guess you've pulled off some good missions since you joined."
"Couldn't have done them without my wingponies though," he replied.
As they talked the subject of Excalibur came up.
"I heard about that," Nightshadow replied. "I knew a pony in Venom squadron."
"Well tomorrow we're going in and taking Celestia's little toy out," Angel replied.
"Wish we could help out, but we're heading deep into the Griffin Empire at the same time."
Their chat was interrupted when the card shark and his crew walked into the bar and sat at their usual table.
"Oh great. Them." Nightshadow said.
"Maverick's gonna' try and one up them," replied Sunfire.
"Oh you play cards?"
He winked and said "A little bit."
"Well good luck. I'll be here watching from the sidelines." And the group went over to them.
"Well if it isn't the Lunar squadron. I thought you were done with us?" one asked.
"Our new squadron leader wants to try a few rounds," replied Angel.
"Oh alright. well pull up a chair and let's deal. We take coins only." And the game began.
Maverick started out slow to mislead them, then when they let their guard down he let them have it. Soon the coins were flowing towards Maverick. And it was clear he was making him crack when he made the shark fold on three of a kind, when he only had a pair.
"Grrr, what was I thinking?" he said.
After another 10 minutes of play he finally snapped.
"That's it I'm all in," and he pushed all of his remaining chips to the center of the table. Maverick had way more than him so he only matched it, which turned out to be a smart move because he lost the hand.
"Wanna' go all in again?"
"Sure," Maverick replied.
The bar got pretty quiet as they dealt their final cards.
The shark put down a club flush. Maverick put his cards down one by one.
He had a diamond flush.
The bar exploded with cheers. Maverick opened his saddle bag and Glory used her magic to put the coins in.
"You're a goddamn card counter you cheater. Give our portion back," the shark snapped.
"Funny you should say that considering you were doing it also, not to mention I saw you slip that one card from the bottom of the deck," he replied. The pegasus threw a punch at Maverick. He ducked it and fired one back. Instantly it turned into a melee between the Air Force and Navy pilots involving nearly every pony in the bar. [Song 3]
"Hell yeah taste my wrath swabbies!" Angel yelled as she jumped in.
Punches, kicks, and magic spells were flying everywhere. Ice and Sunfire double teamed one of the shark's helpers, then Maverick punched another, only to get decked by one he didn't see coming. Angel kicked an earth pony into the pool for the landing game.
"Colt overboard!" she yelled.
A Navy unicorn picked up Ice his with magic and slid him down the bar. Glory picked up a chair and smashed it over his head for doing it. Then the shark's other helper charged at Dahlia. She jumped up and kicked her in the flank, which sent her through the bathroom door and head first into the toilet.
"When nature calls," Dahlia said with a smile.
Angel slammed another pegasus through a table and lunged for another, but got intercepted by a hoof to the nose.
The shark jumped on Maverick's back and tried to take his bags, but he bucked him off then kicked him through the front window of the bar.
"YEAAAAH give me somepony!" he yelled, at which point he got jumped by one.
Dahlia and Sunfire tried to grab a heavy draft earth pony that had Ice pinned to the floor, but got brushed off. So they teamed up with Angel and another Air Force pony and finally got him pulled off. Glory hit him with a barrage of cider bottles and the four slammed him through another table.
4 minutes later the fight was showing no signs of slowing down as another Navy Pegasus grabbed Sunfire and held her so his friend could land a hard punch, but she managed to duck and his friend hit him instead.
"How's it goin' Sunfire?" Angel yelled as she smashed a pool cue over a unicorn's head.
"Pretty good." she replied.
About that time several military and Las Pegasus police cars showed up at the bar.
"The fuzz is here let's beat it!" Angel yelled, and they managed to sneak out the back. Glory jumped on Maverick's back and they flew off for home. All of them had bruises and scrapes. Angel had a bloody nose, and Ice had a black eye.
"Now that was a fight!" exclaimed Sunfire.
"How did you do Maverick?" Angel asked while holding a rag to her nose.
"Better than usual," he replied. "Was that a typical fight for there?"
"Oh hell no. That was a category 5 shit storm back there," she replied.
"Believe it or not, I saw worse at that bar I was talking about before."
"Wow. Well let's get back and repair ourselves. I'm sure we're going to hear about this," said Ice as they flew on.
The base was quiet when they got back, so they headed into the squadron's barracks. As they got close to Tex's office they could hear shouting.
"Who's that?" Asked Glory. They stopped outside the door to his office. It was clear the yelling was coming from Wigwam, the commander of the Air Force who was on the phone.
"... THAT'S THE SECOND TIME IN A WEEK OUR PILOTS HAVE GOT INTO A FIGHT THERE!"
"So was Lunar squadron involved?" Tex asked.
"WHO DO YOU THINK STARTED IT? Since they are going on a mission tomorrow, me holding inquiry for this at YOUR base. ME WANT SOME BUTTS!" And the call ended.
"Like hell we started it," Angel said under her breath.
Tex suddenly opened his door. He looked at the group for a few seconds.
"I guess you were involved," he said.
"Hey they jumped Maverick first. We were only defending ourselves," Glory replied.
"I take it you beat them then?"
Maverick showed him his saddle bag. He just smiled.
"I see the reason for the fight now," he replied. "Well patch yourselves up and get some sleep. It's going to be a loooooong day for you tomorrow."
22 September 2017 07:05 Hours.
The squadron was up early to prep for their chewing out, which was in an hour.
"What do you think he'll do to us?" Dahlia asked.
"Right now not much since we have a mission later. Afterwards who knows. Just remember they threw the first punch," replied Ice. All too soon it was time for it, and they headed for the confrence room. Before they even reached the door they could hear Wigwam yelling with his somewhat broken language. After it stopped a couple of pilots left the room looking pretty shook up.
"GET IN HERE LUNAR SQUADRON!" And they entered to see him and Tex at the table.
"OK maggots what's your excuse?"
"Self defense sir," replied Glory.
"That's the same thing those two just said."
"Well that's what happened. Those Navy card players couldn't handle losing to Maverick here and they threw the first punch," added Ice.
"Me should have known it was newbie who started it." He looked at a report as the debate continued for a few minutes.
"It's not looking good for you ponies. You have no witnesses."
"Who are you going to believe? Us or some Navy pilots?" snapped Angel.
"Allow me to be their witness." Everypony turned around to see Nightshadow standing there.
"What are you doing here?" asked Wigwam.
"I wanted to offer my support but I got here late. I was there sir. They were victimized I saw the whole thing. It wasn't their fault or any other Air Force pilots."
Wigwam seemed to calm down. "Is what you say the truth?"
"Yes sir, I swear to Luna."
"Very well. You ponies are free to go. I've got my eye on you though." And all of them left to prepare for their mission.
"Thanks for the testimony Nightshadow," Glory said.
"No problem. Wigwam is a good commander, but sometimes he get's a little to riled up. He always calm when he's around us so Dash suggested I go to the inquiry to back our pilots up."
"Tell her I've got some cider waiting for her for that," replied Angel.
"I will. Good luck on your mission guys. We were hoping to go also, but we've still got our long range bombing support mission tonight." And he left.
Southeast of Canterlot, Equestria
"Sentry 2 to all planes: Drop to the river."
"Roger," replied Maverick. Soon they were skimming the water to the waypoint where they would turn West and head for Excalibur.
"OK guys. There's a set of hills East of the target that you will have to fly over. When you do that you will be both on radar and within range of Excalibur. Once that happens just focus on dodging the laser."
"Roger Sentry. Keep us informed of any bandits."
"How's your nose Angel?" Dahlia asked.
"It's fine now," she replied. "How's your bruises Ice?"
"They're still there, but they don't hurt anymore," he replied.
"OK it's radio silence time everypony," Maverick announced. And they spent the next several miles to the waypoint in silence. They reached it and turned left, and before long the hills were looming in front of them.
"OK it's showtime,[Song 4]" Maverick said, and the aircraft climbed to clear the hills. They were picked up on radar immediately, and alarms started sounding at Excalibur and the air bases.
"Six bandits inbound, get it fired up!" one pony said at the base.
"Laser charged and ready," replied another.
A red line appeared on the squadron's radars.
"BREAK!" Maverick yelled, and they split off from each other, barely avoiding the laser.
"Attack the jammers from up high down low and in between. Keep an eye out for air threats and don't stay in one spot for too long," said Maverick.
The moves worked. Once the laser was set to fire it couldn't move except in a narrow cone, which got smaller the closer they got.
Ice approached the first jammer. There was some anti aircraft fire, but he dodged it and dropped two bombs on the facility.
"I got the Eastern one," he announced as he did a split "S", narrowly avoiding the laser. This was soon repeated with Glory, who took out the Southern one along with an AA gun.
Back at Canterlot Celestia got the news.
"Your highness! The Republic is attacking the jammers around Excalibur!" a unicorn said to her.
"WHAT?" She yelled. "How did they even get close?"
"We don't know. They must have snuck under our radar.Of all the things that could happen this is the worst, possible, thing!"
"I hate to do it, but if they start attacking the base have air command send some squadrons in," replied Celestia.
"But they could get hit by Excalibur."
"It's a risk we have to take because we can't lose it."
Meanwhile Angel had flown around to the North side of the base to hit the third jammer. As she was lining up on it her radar went red. She waited as long as she could, dropped her bombs, then pulled straight up. The laser missed her by a plane length.
"Damn I almost got roasted," she said.
A short time later Sunfire destroyed the last one. As she performed a split S to avoid the laser a faint blip appeared on her radar for a second. She pointed the nose of the aircraft up and saw it again.
"Hmm what do we have here?" she thought, and she headed for it.
"Lunar one to Sentry 2, all jammers destroyed. Heading for the laser."
"Roger Maverick. Be advised we are picking up numerous aircraft taking off from the air bases so be alert."
Meanwhile Sunfire had caught up to the blip. It was an SR-71 painted in LoD colors. It had been grazed by the laser and was now trailing smoke.
"Where did they get that? We're the only ones who have those," she thought. She took a picture of it before backing off and shooting it down with a heat seeker.
"Sunfire where are you?" Maverick asked over the radio.
"I'm coming. You won't believe what I just shot down."
They now had Excalibur in sight. They approached it from 6 different directions. Soon the railway guns opened up. Like they determined they were mini versions of the laser.
"Since the main one is a sword, would that make those daggers?" Angel asked.
"I guess so," replied Ice.
Glory was the first to reach a mini laser. She shot off a missile and then banked right. It hit dead center.
Soon afterwards the Solar Empire's air command contacted the squadrons that were scrambled.
"Command to all squadrons: They've reached Excalibur. We need one of you in there now!" The radio was silent for a bit. None of the squadrons wanted to risk it. Finally one spoke up.
"Command this is Mist squadron. We've got this."
"Roger Mist 2. Get in there!"
"Mist 1 to Mist 2 are you sure?"
"Oh yeah babe. We've gotta' do this."
"Very well. Mist 1 to all planes: Let's get them."
Back at Excalibur, Dahlia had just taken out a rail gun when Carrot Top came on.
"Sentry 2 to all planes. 6 Bandits inbound at 41 miles."
"Are they nuts?" Glory said.
"Let's get this over with fast ponies," replied Maverick. Ice and Angel took out the remaining guns, and began attacks on the power plants.
"They seem to be having trouble firing at us this close," commented Sunfire.
"Of course. It was made primarily for long range attacks," replied Maverick. "Get the power plants. I'm gonna' head out a ways and wait for the moment to strike the laser head."
"Roger Mav'," replied Glory.
One by one all of the power plants were destroyed. It was apparent the laser was now weaker and couldn't move as fast.
"Now what Maverick?" asked Ice.
"Head out to the south and get them to fire at you while I come up from the North," he replied.
"You've got it," replied Glory, and they headed South. The laser fired, and Maverick got a tone on it.
"Lunar one fox two twice!", he announced. The Archers flew off their rails and streaked towards the laser head, scoring a direct hit and disabling it.
"Direct hit! Full attack guys!" he yelled into the radio.
"The laser's destroyed! Everypony out!" And the complex began emptying of workers.
"Here we come!" replied Angel. The 5 dropped their remaining bombs on the various support and control structures, and Maverick circled around and launched his Kh-29's at Excalibur itself. The explosions blew a hole in the center of the tower. Slowly it started to bend at the hole and fall over. It landed on the remains of the support buildings with a huge crash.
"WE GOT IT! WE GOT IT!" shouted Dahlia.
"Hell yeah that's what I'm talking about!" replied Angel. All 6 of them were cheering and yelling over the radio.
"The sword has been pulled from the stone and broken in half," announced Ice.
"Sentry 2 to Lunar squadron: Nice job! I hate to ruin the moment but those fighters are 11 miles out now."
"Let em' bring it!" yelled Sunfire.
"They destroyed it! DAMN those Republic pigs!" one member of Mist squadron yelled.
"All planes continue to engage," said Mist 1. "Don't let them escape."
"Aww yeah let's lay the beat of our guns on them!" replied Mist 2.
Soon both sides were in range, and the usual first exchange of missiles happened. Then it was on.
"Gripens. This is gonna' be fun," Maverick announced.
As the planes were twisting and turning, Angel and Ice caught a glimpse of Mist 1 and 2's planes. Unlike Republic ones, the Empire only has the cutie mark of the pilot on the left side under the canopy for identification.
"Ice. Did you see those cutie marks?"
"Yeah! When did they join the SEAF? And why?"
After several tries, Glory finally got a gun kill.
"Damn that was hard," she said.
"Gripens are more maneuverable than ours. Keep on your toes," replied Maverick.
Angel shot another off of Ice's tail, then just barely dodged a missile from Mist 1.
"How can such a large plane move like that?" Another member of Mist squadron said.
"These pilots are good. Don't let your guard down", replied Mist 1.
Maverick shot a third down, then got on her tail.
"I don't think so." Mist 1 did a snap roll and dived, making him overshoot.
"Damn that was a good one," Maverick thought as he dived after her. He got on her tail again, but not for long as she did a short loop and got behind him.
"Nice try pony, but you have yet to see all of my movements," she said as she got tone on him and fired a Sidewinder. Maverick dropped flares and rolled downward, dodging it.
"Looks like this is going to be an extended performance." After some more twisting and turning, she was behind him once more, and again got tone.
"I'll see if I have time to play at your funeral," she said as she got ready to fire.
"See how you like this," Maverick said as he hit the brakes and stood the Terminator nearly on it's end, making her overshoot. Once again he was behind her.
"That pilot has such grace," she thought as she started doing defensive turns.
Mist 2 got on Maverick's tail and got ready to fire, but Dahlia dropped in behind her.
"Maverick break!" He did, and she got off a cannon burst, damaging Mist 2's plane.
"What's the damage?" Mist 1 asked.
"It's still flying, but I'm heading back."
"You can't go by yourself!"
"I'll be fine babe. Just get them."
"Mist 2....." She saw a Terminator drop in behind and she turned to assist her, but was suprised when it broke off.
"That Republic pilot... showed compassion?" she thought.
"She's already damaged, I can't do it," Sunfire thought to herself as she broke off.
Mist 1's momentary focusing on her wingpony was all Maverick needed. He dived in behind her and fired his cannon, scoring a direct hit.
"NO!" she yelled. She pulled the eject handle and got out.
"Mav' did she eject?" Angel asked.
"Yes she's safe," he replied. "Angel thought to herself:
"How could you let them join Celestia?"
With the loss of their 1 and 2 pilots, the remaining 2 fell quickly to Ice and Glory.
"Sentry 2 to all planes, nice job. Now get the hell out of there because you have over 40 bandits approaching from 3 directions."
"Roger we're gone," Maverick replied. And they hit the afterburners and made a mad dash for the border. The Republic's substantial air defense network along that part would turn the Empire planes back.
A couple of empire squadrons flew over the site of Excalibur. They saw the smoldering wreckage of it, and as they flew a little further smoke columns from the jammers and downed planes.
"Oh my Celestia," one pilot said.
"Oh no! Control what happened to Mist squadron?" another asked.
"All but one were shot down. The last just crashed on their approach to Mareimar." The pilot started to well up.
"Oh please don't be dead. Please."
"I will not rest until I've personally shoved a missile down Luna's throat!" another yelled. They tried to catch up to them but Lunar squadron had made it back into the Republic, so they turned around.