Segmentum Tempestus 997.M41
System: Harkonnen; Planet: Arrakia
Location: Leyton City
Hundreds of planes roared through the sky on their way to attack the capitol of Arrakia. Formations of Lightnings were ahead of the Thunderbolts and Avengers, who themselves flew tens of miles in front of the Marauders. The 59th Estrucian Air Regiment comprised the center of the first wave. Air Wing Veri was leading the assault.
Tarquin noted the massive black line snaking its way through the desert towards the horizon. As they flew ever closer to the capitol, Leto Highway turned from a single line to a complex of roads shooting out in all directions. "Rookie! Keep to formation!" he heard over the channel.
He found his plane was drifting to the right. "Sorry ma'am." The plane was eased back into place. "The highway is impressive, though. Wouldn't you say?"
"Yeah, it is; that highway is what keeps life going on this planet. Leyton City is the only place on this world with a spacep..." There was silence on the line that seemed an eternity. "Command, we have a break-out attempt by Chaos! I'm spotting Rhinos, Vindicators, and Predators in the dozens with a far larger number of Chimeras."
Tarquin looked back down at the ground. Large bands of dust clouds partially obscured those vehicles behind the front line. Some of them appeared to possess quad-barrelled turrets. He noticed that those turrets turned to look at them. "Ma'am we have Hydras!"
"Damn! We have let the Thunderb..." Flak clouds erupted in their vicinity. The planes scatter. Tarquin sends his into a climb. After levelling out over two thousand meters higher, he searches the sky for others from his wing. Multiple smoke trails told of Lightnings shot down. He spotted another with red-striped wings just before the engine exploded; its head tumbling to the ground, the pilot unable to eject.
A plane rolled over him, belly up. Tarquin's attention snapped to the noise. The pilot of the other Lightning waved at him. He recognized the plane as Sethra. As she completed the roll to level with him, Tarquin spotted several glints of sunlight approaching them. They were to the right and above the Lightning's position.
He pointed to them, directing Sethra's attention. She saw them and indicated back to him with a thumbs up. Her plane climbed while banking into a roll to the right. Tarquin kicked his craft to follow.
While they were belly up, the approaching could finally be identified as Hell Blades. The enemy craft fired their Autocannons. Tarquin tried to ignore the intense increase of comm chatter as other pilots cried in horror of the enemy attacking from multiple angles. Soon, Sethra completes her roll behind the Hell Blades. She unleashed her lascannons as soon as she could; Tarquin close behind.
One exploded into a fireball, and the second loses a wing. Everyone else in the formation dispersed as their compatriot spins out of control. The one Tarquin was about to shoot turns to the left into Sethra's fire. Another Hell Blade turned into a fireball.
Tarquin followed as Sethra pursued an enemy turning to the left. They went in a circle two times hoping to get the enemy in their gunsight. Tarquin noted that the Hell Blade was making its turn tighter with each consecutive circle. It was only a matter of time before that could be used to get their turn, and ultimately on their tail.
Another circle happened, and another. The Hell Blade came closer to their backsides. Halfway through the next, Sethra inverts and dives for the deck. Tarquin sends his plane into a climbing roll to the left; when his belly is up, he also goes into a dive. A hail of fire erupts during the manoeuvre; a number of impacts slam into the body right behind the canopy and trail upward to the tail.
The Lightnings pull out and begin their climb with less than three hundred meters to the ground. Their opponent climbed opposite them, the pilot looking viewing them from his canopy. Both groups fly up as far as their planes can go, the Hell Blade peaks at slightly above them, before their arc brings them back into a dive.
It was then that another two Hell Blades streak out of the clouds above to fire at them. None of their shots were close, but Sethra banks to the left and hits the afterburners after levelling out. One of the new arrivals pulls a banking right climb into a dive to chase her done. The other does an inverting roll to make its dive parallel to Tarquin.
Tarquin had to immediately pull his plane back into a climb to avoid getting shot. His opponents took some seconds to react accordingly. The new Hell Blade hit its afterburners after starting its climb. Autocannon shells impacted tore off the tip of a wing before the plane came, uncomfortably, close and passed Tarquin. Despite how easy a target the Hell Blade became, Tarquin resisted the temptation to shoot it.
More Autocannon shells whizzed by his cockpit. He looked back to see the other Hell Blade keeping up with him through the manoeuvre. They went back into the dive. A single lascannon shot blew apart the Hell Blade that tried to kill him just seconds ago. He rolled the plane to avoid the explosion and shrapnel.
The other enemy proceeded on, and pulled back into the climb at the same level as Tarquin. Both planes continued on through two more rounds. Heading into the third, Tarquin's plane was loose in its transition back to climb. The enemy zipped on ahead, and ended up above him. The Lightning continued the turn until it pointed the Hell Blade and fired.
An explosion tore the opponent in half; the pilot managing to eject beforehand. Tarquin managed to evade the explosion, but shrapnel could be heard pelting all over. He levelled out, and checked his instruments. One of the tail rudders was inoperable and the fuel was leaking. Tarquin called it a day and flew out of the combat zone without incident.