PHD #361: EVENT - Aeolus Asteroid Belt Recon
Aeolus Asteroid Belt Recon
Summary: Shakes and Priest are scouting near the Aeolus Asteroid Belt and happen upon a Cylon craft.
Date: 22 Feb 2042 AE
Related Logs: All Swarm Logs
Magus Solstice Hydra 
Aerilon Space - Aeolus Asteroid Belt
Amidst an asteroid cluster
Post-Holocaust Day: #361

The Raptor Harrier-303 drifts through the void of space, a single ship sent far from home, and set out amongst a sea of stars. Her engines are barely active as the Raptor's Pilot seeks to conserve fuel for any emergencies, and only their forward momentum carries them onward. The pilot's pale blue eye look up from the DRADIS, and stare out at the distant stars. "The stars are so familiar here," Priest notes to his ECO, "and I know constellation by heart." He is silent for a moment, and glances back towards Shakes. "Does it seem strange to you that we can't follow them home like we used too?"

Busy at her station with really no room to go star gazing, Shakes fingers through frequencies. The stuffy gloves make her mutter beneath her breath as the ECO looks up upon Priest's comments. What he says gives her pause and her golden brown eyes try to see what he does from her seat in the back. "They are not the way home anymore, Priest. We have that in calculated in our jumps." She says softly, trying to draw him out of his reminiscing. "You will have to learn new ones." She says with a faint smile. She looks back to her DRADIS, more familiar and tangible as the screen shows nothing yet.

<FS3> Solstice rolls Ecm: Good Success.

Space is big. It's an obvious statement, but it's one the crew of Harrier-303 is probably uniquely aware of at the moment. Two hours out in the boonies of Aerilon border space, searching for a hypothetical Cylon foundry Command is only guessing actually exists. Sent to search for it in a place that is, again, only a 'best guess' as to where it might be. And they're expected to find it. Such is the lot in life of a Raptor pilot. They're far from what was the lush colony of Aerilon now, or even its shipping lanes, widening out further into places no one even bothered to fly when the worlds were whole. Space is big, and they've two hours left searching for the needle in its proverbial haystack.

"I know, but it is still strange to think they can't lead me to safe harbour." The Pilot says evenly, turning from the stars to his DRADIS readout. "Passing waypoint Alpha-10." Priest says then in the voice of the ships pilot, turning his mind away from afar and back to the task at hand. "Making our turn to waypoint Beta-1. Continue with scans." He offers in the words to Solstice in even and banal tones. A gloved hand moves then to take the stick, and his other the throttle. The engines fire, the ship shudders, and they change course. The stars wheel outside of the cockpit, and Priest silently notes their location and heading by them — acting as an Ancient Mariner might to keep him sharp.

Her mind drifts even after her advice; eyes glazing for moments as they stare at the green highlighted readouts. There is a slow sigh and she can hear the words, note them and mark them for what they are. Solstice rubs at her right wrist absently, remarking something in Sagittaron as the ship kicks forward a moment. There is an itch on her nose and she dies to scratch it but doesn't take off her helmet despite the irritation.

Her green screen remains placid, just as she herself is and then *ping*. She blinks and sits up, starting to interpret the readouts. "Priest we have a DRADIS contact." She pulls up the astrogation maps and informs him. "We got a contact, heat signature." She explains and continues on with details, her hands adjusting frequencies to focus and pinpoint the location. "About fifteen minutes hard to port at sublight speed. It appears to be in the Aeolus Asteroid Belt." She says, turning her head forward to look at the back of Priest's head. "At this range…that signature could be what we want. Get us closer." She says and is already adjusting the console to quantify what awaits them.

"Roger that Shakes, I see it on my readout. Deviating from course." The Pilot notes in that same banal tone. Once more the thrusters fire, and the ship wheels about. With the ship on a new heading, Priest glances backwards towards Solctise. "If we fly in there, be ready to get up here incase we need to eject. It is the perfect place to hide a Foundry, but it could be rough going. Lets hope our scanning doesn't give us away." Priest says smoothly, and looks forward. With their speed up to where he wants it, he cuts the engines, and lets them drift swiftly on towards the belt.

The small boost of speed edges them closer and Shakes keeps her eyes glued to the DRADIS, occassionally sneaking a look through the front viewport window. Turning back, the signature starts to become more defined and she narrows the signal down to get a clearer reading. "I still can't tell from this distance for sure..but I will be ready." She says and loosens the belt around her waist to give herself some wiggle room. The idea to undo it completely is disregarded and the ECO brushes her finger over the astrogation charts. "A little more to port." She instructs as they start to drift off course.

<FS3> Magus rolls Raptors: Great Success.

The flight to the belt itself is clear enough. Quiet as the rest of the trip has been thus far. But as they approach the belt proper things become thicker. Large space rocks on a lazy rotation on this particular edge of nowhere, some big enough you could land the Raptor on them. Others merely the size of the ship itself, or near to it. Some drifing of their own accord like twigs in a slow-moving stream, which makes navigation even dicier. But Harrier-303 can work its way in easily enough as Magus works the controls, and slip between those rocks as easily as a duck through water. At least at first. The belt is a long, broad affair and you've only just put your nose into it. The heat signature grows stronger once you're in the belt proper, but the DRADIS also grows harder to read, all the floating debris making a soup not only to navigate, but to weed through electronically.

"You'll see why we're drifting soon enough," Priest says quietly, as he fires the thrusters, and the ship rolls away from a large incoming asteroid — a hunk of rock that dwarfs the Raptor. The Raptor Pilot has to work the controls swiftly here, and the bulky ship dodges between the asteroids carefully. The Tauron's head is now always on a swivel, looking from the DRADIS to the cockpit window and back — using all of the tools at his disposal to keep them from striking an asteroid. Small rocks and debris rain down on Harrier-303, and that rain is occasionally accompanied by a light thud as Magus doesn't entirely skirt around a chunk of rock.

Priest had been her pilot since her stationing on Tau Garrison. If there was anyone that Shakes trusted most to fly - it was him. Solstice tries to keep the screen clean, working through the frequencies to get a more defined and focused ping on the heat signature. All the jumble of debris and asteroids fraks with the readouts to the point that the ECO is muttering quite regularily and fluently in Sagittaron. "Demeter give me strength." She intones, trying to keep herself focused on her DRADIS screen rather than worry with what is outside her field of control. But with Priest dodging about here and there to keep them in one piece she has to plant her feet wider in order to keep from sloshing about in her seat like some lush on a bad date. "Can we not jerk around so much." she says faintly. "I can see very well why we are drifting….my DRADIS is a mess!"

<FS3> Solstice rolls Ecm-20: Bad Failure.

<FS3> Magus rolls Alertness-10: Success.

"I'll try to keep as constant a course as I can, Shakes." Priest calls back, even as he snaps the stick to the side to narrowly avoid striking a asteroid — the mass of rock skimming just beneath the Raptor. The small bulky ship continues to weave through the chaos that is an asteroid field, and several times barely skirts destruction. "Shakes, I think I see something up ahead. We have unknown objects moving through the field in a linear fashion dead ahead. I think we may have found some hostiles. Do we have a fix on the heat source yet?"

"Priest, this read out is horrible, slow us down, I can't see anything." She says. Shakes stares down at her screen and gives a jerk to the glove she wears on her fight hand. Pulling it free, she sets it in her lap and leans over her console. The DRADIS reflects starkly in her helmet visor. Bare fingers begin to refine work and filter out the debris and rocks. "Just keep us steady, Priest. I am working on it. I need just a bit more time to filter through all this frakking debris." She mutters. Off comes the left glove and its samwiched between her thighs. Frak it. Off comes her helmet and she sets the aside and down upon the floor next to her foot before she drags it between them with the ease of her ankle.

"Okay a little bit longer, I am getting something.." She says. But what yet is not certain. She draws her hand down over the screen, defining the focal radius to a pinpoint accuracy. Working from that aim, she starts to narrow and wheedle out the useless crap that is dogging up her screen. Its a slow process, but she's expanding the focal field outward and adjusting for the pace as best she can. "You move too fast and I am going to lose what I have." shs says more clearly now with her helmet off. A brush up to her curls sends the damp hair back into place.

<FS3> Magus rolls Raptor: Success.

The heat source, though overwhelming the DRADIS, is easy enough to follow. It's like flying toward a sun. And, as Harrier-303 navigates toward the other edge of the Aeolus Belt, it comes into view for the pilot looking out the viewport. Looming like a fortress after one has cleared the rocks. It's impossible to miss. It's the size of a frigate - like the Corsair - at least, and its construction matches near to a copy of the recon of the foundry in far-flung Tauron space. It hulks like a crudely-formed hourglass on the outskirts of the rocks, forged of the same metal as a Cylon craft. Its thick hull is broken every so often by vents about the size of a Viper…or a Raider, and a pair of cavernous doors at the fore of it are big enough to birth a heavy. You've found your quarry, little Harrier.

There is silence now from the front of the cockpit, even as Solctise cries out for Priest to slow the Raptor down and keep the ship straight and level in an asteroid field. Priest does his best to comply with the request, but to get closer to the heat source he has to keep moving forward. The ship continues to twist and roll around the chunks of planets that never quite formed. "Negative, Shakes… We've got Raiders up ahead. We need to get to the heat source before they notice us, and with you scanning the sooner we get there the better. I have faith in you, just do what you can." He says in a quietly disciplined voice here.

As the Foundry comes into view, the Raptor Pilot snaps a few pictures of it with the ships 'gun cam,' as the Officers in Tactical will want to take a look at it no doubt. "Shakes, plot the location of the Foundry, and lets bug out before they notice us." Magus says deeply.

The easing of their way through the field was enough to give Solstice some edge on what is ahead and clear up the DRADIS read out. But as the heat signature seems to glow like a sore spot on her screen, the green reflects across her face. Shakes chances a glance up to her side and towards the front. That gives her pause as she can see it; her breath catching a moment. The hand on the console twitches in reaction and she starts to take down the information and coordinates that the craft is located in, noting where exactly on the belt it has taken its position. "Marking coordinates down and mapping into the astrogation screens." She says. She tries to erase the shiver that runs down her spine. Let them go unnoticd. Hopefully with as much trouble as she had the Cylons will not detect the Raptor and its crew of two. "I think I got it." she finally answers in regards to the coords. "We need to get some more photos..and scan it." She says blatantly. "Priest, we gott find some weakpoints, give me a bit I will see what I can do." That said, Shakes starts to redefine her console's purpose, expanding the focal range and adjusting frequencies to begin a scan. "Can we get a little closer or…?" She asks of her pilot.

<FS3> Magus rolls Raptors-20: Good Success.

<FS3> Solstice rolls Ecm-10: Great Success.

"I'll give it a shot, remember we're all alone out here." Priest says pointing the nose of the Raptor towards the foundry. He takes a few more shots of the structure, and then gives a blast of the thrusters and all but kills the engines. Harrier-303 starts into a slow tumble, drifting closer to the Cylon Foundry — looking very much like a chunk of rock if not looked at closely. As this manuever is performed, Priest is silent — his pale blue eyes fixed on the station and the nearby Raiders. The Pilot is ready to rabbit if need be, as they got what they came for and now everything else is just icing on the cake. "Oh, Posiedon…." He breaths suddenly, as he stares at one of the Raiders. "Those Raiders have the same markings as those that are attacking us."

The DRADIS screen takes on that eerie glow of the heat signature and her gaze narrows, adjusting to the light given off by it. Solstice is hard at work, keying up different signals and narrowing them down so that the Raptor can get a clear and concise read out. Bare fingers rush over the controls, trying to ignore the plea that her comrade gives at the sight of the Raiders. "Pictures, just take pictures." She tries to jolt him to active participation as her head remains bowed over her screen. Her gaze flits up to the equalizer nobs and she brings them down, refining the pitch and static. There. There! She gets a damn clear read out and the numbers feeding back are rather precise. "Okay Priest, a few more moments and I think engineering may very well kiss us." She explains. She doesn't dare look up and get distracted. Time was a life span, collected in each ticking second in such a way that any offset of it and they could waste everything they collected - and themselves. "Alright, I think we got it all. Reverse thrusters would be advised." The ECO is already starting to rev up a suite should they be pursued.

The haze of the Aeolus Belt that played such hell when navigating in works in their favor now, as they manage to avoid detection *just* long enough to get in. *Just* long enough to get crucial shots and body scans of the great Raider factory. They've found their needle in the great haystack of space. Mission accomplished. Now they just have to get the frak out before they're blown to seven hells. Because with dozens upon dozens of Raiders, and several Heavy Raiders, buzzing around the facility, they don't avoid being spotted for long. A Heavy is the first to spot them, rotating like a guard dog that's just sniffed something awry. And it wastes no time coming about to bear down on them. Five Raiders veer instantly to support it, and more will likely follow. Indeed, reverse thrusters are *highly* advised.

<FS3> Magus rolls Raptors: Good Success.

The silence from the front of the cockpit is telling in response to Solctise's words. The Raptor Pilot continues to stare out the cockpit window at the Raiders, and all the readouts for the Raptor itself that keep it tumbling at the right trajectory. "Oh, Lords…" Priest says under his breath, as he watches the Heavy Raider swing towards them. "We've been spotted." His hands fly across the controls, spinning the ship about, and he fires the engines once more. The Raptor Pilot doesn't hold anything back as he streaks back towards the Aeolus Belt. "Taking evasive manuevers. Begin active ECM." Priest orders as he dives Harrier-303 back into the field.

With the flare of engines and the strong initial turn about by Priest, Shakes grasps for her station and tries to keep the DRADIS clear for their exit strategy. She looks up at the pilot. "I got a suite ready for us, Priest." THere missions for Tau Garrison had been nothing like this, but they both had worked well together from the beginning. They were going to get back with that information. She knew it. She clears up her frequencies and begins to prep the focal range to their aft. Her feet spread, trying to keep her steady and in place as she pauses and withdraws her hands from her console in order to try to fumble with the belt from her chair. "Its all on you, Priest." And there is a warmth of faith in her voice for the man

<FS3> Solstice rolls Ecm: Good Success.

The afterburners on the Raptor flare here, and the speed on the Raptor increases with a terrifying rate. Priest seems rather intent to put as much distance between their ship and the incoming raiders. The stars and rocks spin sickeningly in the cockpit window as Harrier-303 screams away from the Cylon Foundry. "Spin up the FTL drives," Priest intones sharply, obviously strained. "Prepare us to jump as soon as we're clear of the field." Once more small rocks and debris bounce off the Raptor like hail, and there is even a loud thud or two along the way that seems ominous.

As the Raptor twists its way through the debris, Solstice releases her suite with a last minute adjustment. As it radiates backwards, it knocks out those following, at least to the point that they have to realign before shooting. The debris helps and she lets out a long breath, feeling her chest heaving. She was unable to get the belt on her seat and thusly wedges a knee beneath the console ledge, lifting her foot to her toe so that she can lock herself into place. Her other leg spreads out and braces against the side wall and wedges her into her seat. Her hands start up the FTL, the jump coordinates gleaming at her as she types them in, double checking as her head jerks forward to look at him. The thuds on the outter haul make her wince and she lifts her brows in concern, raising her voice to be heard over engines and collective slams against the hull. "Ready to jump when we get clear, adjusting for another suite if need be." She says, jarred a little in her seat.

Their Cylon pursuers crash through the rocks behind them, KEW guns blazing, but Solstice's work on the jammers combined with the interference of the belt itself - now working in their favor - gives them just enough cover to avoid being blown away. Harrier-303 will be coming home with several nasty dents from the rocks of Aeolus, but it beats the scars of Cylon gunfire anyday. The tense, break-neck flying minutes seem to stretch like hours as Magus speeds his Raptor through the asteroid field, but they do make it clear. Truly in the clear to jump away, just a hair early enough to escape the Raiders bowling at their heels.

With one last thud on the bottom of the ship, Harrier-303 springs free of the Asteroid Belt, and out into open space. Her engines blaze brightly, and leave a wild trail of half burnt fuel and smoke behind them. "We're clear. Jump!" The Pilot shouts, as the last chunk of rock falls away from the cockpit window. As he shouts this he already starts to back off the engine, preparing them to jump home.

Shakes needs no other words even as she lets go another suite before lifting a hand to punch the FTL as they jolt forward into open space. "Jumping!" She says back, waiting for that moment of shift and then settling, her heart in her throat as her breath drags swiftly into her lungs - in - out. Solstice holds to her console with no restraint on, waiting for something to go wrong. Nothing goes wrong. There is that shift through space and they jump - rocketing to the meeting location and entering into space with friendlies. When she sees the Cerberus, Shakes lets out a soft gasp and a smile spreads to her lips very slowly. "Priest." She says faintly and then gets up, starting to move towards the cockpit and forward seats, her dark hair shifting about her face, a sheen of sweat on her brow. Her hand goes to his shoulder and she clasps it as she stares at 'home'.

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