"Iron One, this is Crown."
Lieutenant Delvi, callsign Devil, sat up in his flight seat. About time command called! He really was not happy about another drill. On Holy Day no less.
"Crown, this is Iron Lead. Go."
"Standby for Defense Actual." Defense Actual! Why would the Minister of Defense want to talk to this lowly L-T? Especially a former Imperial Navy pilot that was hired by this backwater world to lead this small, in many ways pitiful, fighter defense squadron?
"Uh, this is Minister...frak! Son, listen up. The galdarn rebels have gone and got all uppity. They blew up several of the mag-rail trains this morning. We think they got ahold of a couple of them-thar nuclear warheads and are going to use them to rain fire from heaven. My intelligence minister thinks we are going to have a visit from a few rebel ships today." It certainly sounded like the Minister was not happy, especially with the spooks.
Devil sighed heavily. He had assumed command just two months prior. Most of his pilots were converts from low-tech aerospace fighters and didn't really understand space combat. Today he had six fighters operational; a real miracle considering how little money was spent keeping up on maintenance. After the alert scramble, Devil has arrayed his small force into three pairs stationed evenly around the planet at a range of about 3-4 light seconds.
"Iron Lead, this is Big Eye. We show two unidentified bogeys, bearing 244 mark 00, range 20+." Devil smiled. The voice of Big Eye today was Shari. The two of them were a bit of an item....
"Yee-ha! Let's get them Floyd!" That was Husker in Iron 5. Floyd was in Iron 6.
It took Devil a few minutes to figure out that Husker was not just shooting off at the mouth, but literally shooting off into space.
"Husker, this is Iron Lead! Don't leave your station! Let them come to us and match vectors!" It was too late, Husker and Floyd looked to be doing a hard burn, 4-Gs, in a straight out intercept. "Husker! Stop your burn! If you don't slow down you won't have any fuel to turn around!"
If Husker heard Devil he didn't acknowledge. For three hours Devil watched Husker and Floyd accelerate towards the unidentified ships. After a while, Jug, flying Iron 3, called to him, "Uh, Iron Lead, this is Three. We are going to move out system a bit."
This time it was Devil who didn't acknowledge. Jug was the son of a high ranking politician and was used to making his own decisions. He was also used to ignoring orders from Devil.
Switching to a different frequency, Devil called his wingman, PH. He got his callsign because he was going to night school and was almost a professor. "Nice and easy, PH. Let's move sunward and get an angle for an intercept." Two clicks on the net showed PH had acknowledged.
It had been nearly five hours since Husker and Floyd took off. Devil was listening to their radio chatter. At this range it made little sense to try and give directions with the 30 second delay for send and receive.
"Hey Floyd! You see what I see? Looks to be a little-old scout ship and a merchie! Like shooting ducks at the arcade!"
"Here we go Husker!"
"Floyd! You OK!?"
"(static) Husker (static) hard (static) no drives (static static static)."
Devil called for a status report.
"Uh, Husker here. The merchie and scout blew right past us. Floyd lost his M-drive to a laser hit from the scout. I, uh, well I have no more gas. I think we got a hit on the merchie. The scout is now accelerating and leaving the merchie behind."
"Husker, this is Jug. Don't you worry, we will get them." It looked like Jug had learned a bit more than Husker. Though he and Iron 4 had accelerated off, they had avoided any hard burns. Devil hoped their fuel situation was better. After another hour or so, they certainly made a better intercept; proving able to reverse their direction and get in amongst the rebel ships. Devil noted that the merchant had not accelerated since the fly-by with Husker and Floyd. Maybe their M-Drive was damaged?
After a while Jug made his report, "Devil, this is Jug. I think we got a few hits but that scout ship is a real bitch. He got my M-Drive. I have a good pursuit vector but if he maneuvers too much I, well, I'll do what I can."
"Iron 4, report," called Devil.
"Uh, Iron Lead, this is Four. I, ah, I am in a bit of trouble here. That scout got my laser and I just went empty for fuel." Devil looked at his tac-comp. Jug in Iron 3 was on a proper pursuit vector but Iron 4 was drifting sunward, away from the battle.
It was now up to Devil. Keying his mike once again he announced, "PH, Iron Lead. Let's go get 'em."
Another few hours passed. Jug was actually staying quite close to the scout ship and occasionally took a sniping shot. Though the scout had initially accelerated away it seemed to not be going too fast. It was also on an intercept course to the planet.
"Missile Launch!" Jug sounded shaken. "Trying to get it but I'm to far for a good lock!"
Devil watched the missile cross in front of him. Both he and PH took a shot but like Jug they missed.
"Big Eye, this is Iron Lead. Vampires inbound."
"Iron Lead, this is Shari. The Defense Minister actually left a few hours ago. We are going to relocate to the alternate bunker now."
"I know Devil, go get them!"
Devil and PH intercepted the scout around 6 light seconds from the planet. The set-up made for some very good crossing shots. Both fired, but if any hit Devil and PH could not tell.
"Missile Launch!" That was PH. "I'm switching targets!" Devil did the same. Lasers flashed across space, but not one shot connected. Devil watched helplessly as another Angel of Death raced towards his adopted home.
After another hour and several more seemingly ineffective shots, the scout loosened a third missile. This time Devil and PH were really close, only a light second away. Both fired. The missile blew up.
The scout ship was passing the planet now. It was actually using the gravity well to assist with turning around. Devil and PH stayed right behind the scout ship and kept trying for a lucky hit.
The scout ship was literally in orbit when it launched a fourth missile. Devil and PH both took shots, and both missed again.
"Big Eye, this is Iron Lead. Bad news, looks like we got a leaker."
Shari sounded shaken, "Devil, the computers say this one is coming right at us. They are trying to get the bunker doors sealed but they won't move."
"Shari, can you get out?"
After a long pause, Shari answered - and she sounded angry, "Iron Lead, this is Big Eye. We will remain on station until ordered to evacuate. Surely you understand!"
Devil was mute. What could he say?
"Devil, impact is in less than a minute. Remember, I ... (static)"
Devil looked down and saw a flash on the surface of the planet.
This battle was fought using Mayday 2nd Edition. The scenario was taken straight from the rulebook with six fighters (4G acceleration, 12 fuel) against a Scoutship (Maneuver 2, laser and missile rack) and Armed Merchant (Maneuver 1, laser). The rebels need to hit the planet with three missiles to win.
It has been a long time since I played Mayday and there were may elementary relearning errors with the vector movement system. It also didn't help that the scout was deadly accurate! Two of six fighters were fuel exhausted and two others lost their M-Drive. The Armed Merchant also lost its M-Drive. Some of these ships were (luckily) on good vectors when they lost fuel and could still contribute to the fight for maybe one more turn, but after that I took them off the board to declutter the battle. It was very messy at the beginning with 24 markers laid out (eight ships with a past, present, and future position marker).
The rulebook said you can learn the game in about 45 minutes. I spent around 30 minutes reviewing the rules. Playing time was about one hour, well within the designed 120 minute objective. The game was great fun and makes me want to get a Traveller RPG session going this winter!