When Mathew looked down, he thought it was the Scipio coming into range of his sensors, but instead, a series of signals echoed across his instruments. The signals were akin to debris, or derilicts. He passed active scans over them, and realized they were in fact disabled hornets from the one sixteenth. "Keep your eyes open." He said, moving closer to the area where the battle had taken place.
"I've got a friendly." Jon said.
"Copy, I see it."
Flack wasn't untouched from her fight with Ismaly. Some of her thrusters were simulating damage, and so she was creeping back to the Scipio in an awkward sideways drift.
"You're too late." She said over Squadron comms. "You missed the fun part."
"Sorry about that." Mathew said, "Looks like you did some damage though."
"I was careless and underestimated that little bitch."
Mathew thought of Ismaly immediately, and it was confirmed when he saw the stenciled callsing on a nearbye disabled Hornet, '115-D'. All three members of Dread Delta were disabled and floating like garbage in high orbit around Terra.
"Good luck with the Hawk." Flack said, a bit of sarcasm in her voice.
"Oh shit." Jon's voice was dull over the comms.
Mathew looked down and saw the three red blips that populated his radar. "Get ready, this won't be as easy as the M50's."
"What's the plan?" Pierre asked.
Mathew looked over the area in his mind, then took in a breath and keyed the mic. "The Scipio is a safe zone if we can get close enough. Let's punch through them and keep main acceleration in the direction of the Scipio, if we can clear the safe zone they can't fire on us. Copy?"
"Alright, stay focused. We can make it through."
The three Hornets stayed in a tight formation, burning at maximum thrust as they closed distance with the Scipio as it finally lit up on their radars.
Hawk watched them coming into range. "They're burning hot, making a run for the safe zone." He thought for a moment. "We can't get all of them. Juke, target one and we'll concentrate our fire."
Jon's warning system blared. "I'm locked."
"Just keep moving."
Holographic missiles raced toward the formation and blazed into the Scipio's airspace, the large blade of a ship growing quickly as they fell toward it.
The simulated impacts glistenend over Jon's screen and his controls extinguished, but the Scipio kept coming.
"Guys?" Jon said, hearing nothing but the muffled echo of his own voice in the silence of the cockpit. "Oh fuck."
Mathew watched Jon's engines go dark, and looked over his shoulder as the Hornet drifted behind them, no longer gaining speed but still hurtling toward the Scipio with the inertia of their blitz attempt. "Pierre, keep going."
Mathew pulled back on the throttle slightly and came up beside Jon's Hornet as it continued, plumetting toward the flight deck of the Scipio. He heard the higher means light up.
"Shepherd Alpha, this is TacCom, stand down. Wolf Bravo Three, we're re-initializing your systems, prepare for evasive maneuvers as soon as possible. Wolf Bravo One, break formation immediately, you are on a collision course."
Mathew did the math quickly in his head as he watched Jon's engines begin to flare. "There's no way he'll make it."
"Wolf Bravo One, break, break."
Mathew ignored the command and lightly tapped his thrusters until his ship nudged against Jon's Hornet.
Jon's comms came back on. "Matt, get out of here, I got this."
He could hear the frantic tapping of keys and switches being toggled as Jon went through startup as quickly as he ever has.
The bow of the Scipio blurred past, the bridge rushed toward them.
Mathew took in a deep breath, "Jon, hold on." He held it, clenched his teeth and every other muscle as he burned ventral thrusters at maximum.
The collision was resounding. Mathew's hull shuddered and his canopy splintered like a spiderweb. Jon's Hornet spun violently, it's engines not even ignited as it sped past the bridge and tumbled across the deck and beyond the massive engines.
Mathew exhailed and inhailed in micro breaths as he pulled the joystick hard to one side and then to the other, narrowly dodging communications arrays and turret platforms as his Hornet careened toward the Scipio's hull. He barely leveled off, his wings rocking from side to side as he diverted all power to ventral thrusters once again and burned hard, the belly of his Hornet scraping the Scipio and burning off a layer of paint as the heat from the thrusters washed over it. Gaining more control, he rolled past a turret and watched the wide eyed faces of the bridge crew as his Hornet screamed across the tall windows, missing them by mere meters. He levelled off and flew by the main engines to meet up with Jon who'd also regained control. "You alright?" He asked, still sucking in deep breaths.
Jon formed on his wing as they banked for a final approach. "I am, thanks Martyr."
"Wolf Bravo this is Scipio Tac Com, you're clear to land, expect company on the flight deck, over and out."
Mathew waited for Pierre to join their formation before they continued the landing procedures. The three Hornets came in slow and smooth, a textbook carrier landing, all but for the damaged canopy, burned out ventral thrusters and dented hull.