Iota 4 was denied any opportunity to rest and recuperate, as their ship was quickly repaired for immediate redeployment. Operation Windfall had begun, and Keeper forces were preparing to launch an all out assault on insurgent fortifications in the region. Iota 4 was given the opportunity to aid in the siege of the very station in which they’d been held hostage, assigned to destroy point defenses and light vehicles so that a breaching team could infiltrate the facilty and capture key personnel. The Thinkers offered assistance with a small portion of the offensive, but were surprisingly denied the opportunity by Fleet Admiral Cain, who refused to accept their aid as a matter of principle, insisting that they at least come forward with the reason for their interest in the area. With the Thinkers offering no knowledge other than a grim warning of what would happen to those who stood in their way, the Fleet Admiral broke contact and initiated the assault.
On the way to their ship, Iota 4 was intercepted by Lieutenant Commander Desai, who offered a revised version of their mission. Desai told them about his family; about how he had barely rescued them from a lifetime of slavery, and how even then they would rather take their own lives than go on to plague his own existence with the horrors of their past. The Liutenant Commander instructed the group to attack the facility’s reactor containment chamber instead, flooding the complex with radiation and condemning those within to a slow and agonizing incineration. Iota 4 happily agreed.
As battle raged on the surface of the station, Iota 4 broke contact and hurtled toward the underside of the facility. The Slavers were quick to take notice. Intercepted by a pair of Griffin class Transynths, a single Barracuda R6 Corvette, and several Aerospacecraft, Runners, and Synths, the squadron realized that their enemy would not willingly submit to a horrific radioactive fate.
Shredding into the Transynths immediately, the group quickly eliminated these two unique and agile foes before turning toward the bulk of the enemy. Rayne and Adrian poured fire into the Corvette, which in turn shredded layer after layer of armor off of G.R.A.V.’s poorly equipped dropship. Clint and Veronica downed aircraft by the dozen, while Lenne put an end to the ground-based threat. Hauling a load of valuable salvage onboard, brought his mangled ship to bear and severed the containment chamber with a final blast from its main weapon.
The screams of their victims filled Iota 4’s comn channels. Even in this grim chorus, the group celebrated their victory, and held that they had done the right thing.
Desai’s thanks were quickly overshadowed by a sudden distress call from the Stingray that had been sent to the territory the Thinkers had expressed interest in. Seconds later, the group arrived to find only tiny fragments of the massive vessel. Though there was little evidence to work with, some of the debris matched Thinker structural components, and the already cooled remnants of the Escort Carrier implied the existence of a horrifying new weapon never before seen on the field of battle.
Keeper forces were quick to relieve the weary and weathered Iota 4, and the group headed slowly back to Hope.
Their journey was interrupted in The Valley, where they came to the aid of a privateer under attack by a small group of Worker aircraft. They refused to heed the squadron’s request to call of the pursuit. They were met by a pair of Synths hanging off a kinetic lift, firing wildly as the dropship they were tethered to barreled directly at the stubborn workers. While one enemy vessel was able to cut into G.R.A.V.’s dropship with a strange new armament (something Iota 4 had seen quite enough of for one day), the ship they had come to the aid of managed to get its weapons online and consume its pursuers in a cloud of magnetized flak. The pilot demanded to meet his saviors in person. Iota 4 happily agreed. They immediately regretted it.
The man at the helm of the Corvette they had rescued came to be known as Ace-Hole, and offered his services if and when his new ‘friends’ should require them. While the group’s thoughts on his motivations were split, they agreed to take on the tracking and targeting device he offered them, if not only to encourage his swift departure.
At long last, 24 hours and several bullet wounds after embarking on their most ‘routine’ assignment yet, Iota 4 returned to the relative comfort of Hope.