PHD #413: EVENT - All Bets Down
All Bets Down
Summary: After a briefing in the Ready Room, Cerberus' combat personnel realize that Kepner's proposed mission will almost certainly be one way.
Date: 15 Apr 2042 AE
Related Logs: All April 15 logs.
Bannik Evandreus Spade McQueen Trask Devlin Psyche Pallas Samuel Vandenberg Polaris 
Air Wing Ready Room — Deck Seven — Battlestar Cerberus
With the hatches at the rear of the room, the walkways on both sides slope down towards the dais at the front of the room. The stadium seating forms a partial semi-circle around the speaking podium and provides enough seats for all three hundred members of the Air Wing. The walls are adorned with the patches of each squadron aboard and their mottos stenciled in white lettering above each one. Behind the podium is a set of large LCD screens that can display any matter of material from reconnaissance to maps to gun camera footage.
Post-Holocaust Day: #413

If this was a television show, there would be one of those cards that shows where the characters are and what time it is. The one for this briefing would read: "AIR WING READY ROOM, BATTLESTAR CERBERUS — FRIDAY, APRIL 15, 1455 HOURS." All combat personnel — Marines and Air Wing alike — have been invited for what has been hastily billed 'options regarding our current situation.'

But the response to the murmurs going through the crowd is not the presence of the Air Wing lead, or the ranking Marine officer, or any officer at all. It's a harried looking Tyr Bannik clutching a manila folder to his chest like it's a life preserver. He'd be more nervous about all of this if he actually had time to be scared. Instead, he hustles up to the podium:

"Excuse me." Louder. "Excuse me! Can I have everyone's attention!"

Vandenberg hasn't bothered to sit. The Marine Operations Officer has been standing at the back of the room in stoic silence for a few minutes, waiting for it all to begin. She's in her green navy duds but has retrieved her assault vest, helmet, and rifle. The last item dangles from a taught sling around her shoulders while her hands have a pen and small notepad ready when Bannik calls for attention. The pad is propped against the rifle for a writing surface while her eyes stare right at Bannik.

Samuel has made his way in and dropped himself into a seat. Glancing over at the standing Vandenberg for a few moments, he looks to the front as he hears Bannik's words, his own notepad at the ready.

Psyche enters in duty blues, expression intent but gait easy, range of motion entirely recovered from her multiple brushes with death weeks ago. Even her hair seems to have made a full recovery. Her jaw works rather constantly on a wad of bubble-gum, inflating and popping a small, pink sphere. This return to her chewing habit is really the only visible sign of nerves — she never did smoke, but she has her oral fixations. No comments from the peanut gallery.

Once the room has settled some, Bannik presses on with his briefing. "I'm going to keep this brief, because I know you're going to want to be talking to your combat commanders after this. I'm Specialist Tyr Bannik; I was one of the technicians that worked on modeling the effects of the linked Gun on the Fleet. Captain Nik — the acting commanding officer." He catches himself. "Asked me to brief you because." Stops and then restarts himself.

"Commander Kepner claims that the linked Gun is an offensive weapon like the universe has never seen before. He's wrong. And I'm here to tell you why."

The Other Devlin (even if he did have the name first) arrives in duty blues also, though from the way he tugs uncomfortably at the neck, and unfastens it as soon as they're in the room, one has to wonder if it was really his idea to wear them. He enters just after Psyche, and heads with her towards the seats, blinking as he spots Bannik of all people up at the podium. He nudges his wife and gestures with his chin, whispering, "If he's acting CO we're stealing a Raptor and running."

Having just finished a quick debriefing with Captain Khloe "Poppy" Vakos next door in the Map Room, Bootstrap moseys on in, still clad in the flightsuit he was wearing when the Foxfires opened fire on his CAP some twenty (20) minutes ago. For now, he's content to let Bannik have the floor.

Vandenberg scribbles a little something on her pad without looking town. She's gotten quite used to taking fast notes in the last few months. Those green eyes are complete ice despite the rest of her looking the picture of calm. There's a glance to the new entrants but her focus from her vantage point is solely on the Specialist. Lucky Bannik!

A slightly late arrival himself, the figure of McQueen, clad in the fleet's bog-standard Duty Greens walks in just a /slightly/ awkward fashion. Not quite a limp, but his right leg appears to be a little bit stiff every several steps. Adjusting the notepad clutched to his side, he brushes his hair switfly with his free hand and settles in to his seat, giving Devlin and Psyche a brief sidelong glance before snapping his head swiftly to Bannik, eyeing the young specialist like he might well be the CO all the same. His lips are pursed. "Well, that ship's a bloody glass cannon. We saw that the first time it showed up, yeh?"

"As you know." Bannik opens his manila folder and gazes down at the top sheet. "When the Areion fires the Gun, without amplification, she is temporarily disabled for approximately fifteen minutes while her systems reset. In order for the Linked Gun to fire, each of the four capital ships must flood her electronic warfare systems with power from the FTL drives; they are the largest source of power on any Fleet ship. Because the subroutines are so specific, we can't do them remotely. So that quashes any ideas of abandoning ship and doing this from afar." As if he knows that the idea might be running through some people's heads.

Psyche emits a faint snort of mirth, nudging Devlin with her elbow in mild rebuke. "Biggest brain in the fleet," she opines softly of Bannik, not without some affection. "There are worse scenarios."

Samuel pauses a little bit as he listens, taking down a few notes now. Listening uietly for the moment, as he glances around at the new arrivals, a bit thoughtfully.

"Didn't say there weren't!" Devlin replies, elbowing Psyche right back, "Bannik's great, I'm just saying. If they've already got everybody from Colonel down through PO3, we're out of here." He glances at others as they enter, tipping a nod to McQueen and other wing members who files in. He settles back in his seat and turns his attention to Bannik, frowning a little as he listens.

Spiral is present for the briefing. Like Trask, he just got off CAP some 20 minutes ago. Unlike Trask, his bird was shot to hell and he had to be recovered. He still smells of burnt hair, though medical got most of the charred flightsuit off of him, he wasn't in any mood to stick around Sickbay waiting for all the proper procedues; not at a time like this. He sits and listens, his eyes still smoldering with rage from recent events.

Bannik's eyes scan the room, wide behind his glasses. Wow. There are a lot of people out there. But the looks down to his papers and presses on. "A fully-amplified shot will disable all Cylon vessels and stations for an indeterminate period. However, a fully-amplified shot will also disable fleet-wide FTL capability for at least a half day, maybe longer. In addition, our models have not accounted for what other systems — besides FTL — may be disabled by a fully-amplified shot. The worst-case scenario has Praetorian's missile defenses and the Corsair's flak screen go offline as well as our flak batteries. It depends on a lot of factors, but Fleet-wide loss of FTL for half a day is a given."

He glances up from his paper. "The amplified Gun is a defensive weapon. It's for when we're backed in a corner, no way out. For when Elpis doesn't jump or there's just too many of them before we spin up. But it's not an offensive weapon. If we're sitting ducks for half a day, any Cylon reinforcements can just sweep in and mop us up. Kepner is wrong." He tries to drive that point home, but it's tough, coming from a guy who barely looks like he shaves.

There's a little wave of McQueen's hand towards the whispering pair as he eyes Psyche and Devlin, and there's a very bare trace of a smirk on his lips as his pale face contorts. He doesn't have time to comment, however, as Bannik continues to speak and he gives the Specialist a nod. "I think Kepner crossed the moral event horizon of 'wrong' a long bloody time ago." He mumbles quietly to himself. What's muttered next isn't loud enough to clearly be heard but it involves something about 'stealing Skiron Baer's ridiculous hat' and 'ramming it up Kepner's wrinkly arse so far that the bastard chokes on felt.' Or something along those lines.

Samuel frowns a bit as he makes a few notes from what Bannik said, shaking his head a little bit. 'Kepner=Moron?' seems to be one of those notes, for those that might be able to see what he's writing.

Attention now entirely on Bannik, Psyche nods slightly. Preach on — she's obviously in the choir. Of course, it's entirely possible Psyche would believe that Kepner wears women's underthings, as long as it came from the boy genius. She glances at McQueen's mutterings, lips quirking and dimples shadowing her cheeks.

"I'll give you the bottom line: Giving in to Kepner's ultimatum is more than a bad idea. It's suicide. Not just 'really hard odds' suicide, but actual, real, suicide. And going into the heart of Cylon-occupied space and dealing them a hard blow isn't going to do any good when their friends from the fringes swoop in and pick us off." Bannik pauses. "So we have to resist. I'm not a tactical officer or a squadron leader or an infantry officer. How we're going to do that is up to them, not me. But we have to resist; giving in is not an option."

His eyes trail up to the group, off of his briefing book. "Let me try to end on a positive note after all of this bad news, not that there's a lot of good news to be had. Areion's engineers and techs have the same raw data we do. They ran the same models. Our teams disagree somewhat on how likely the worst-case scenario is, but we agree on the basics. And they may be disciplined and they may be elite. But I hope that they're not suicidal. So — I'm only speculating here, but I can hope. I can hope that you'll find some friends over there when the time comes to stand up to all of this."

He lets out a heavy breath. "Okay. That's all I have. I'll release you to your combat commanders and let you get down to work." His eyes fall on Psyche and then remain there. "Gods bless you, gods bless us, and stay safe out there."

Devlin frowns even more as Bannik goes on, and his jaw drops faintly as The Gun's actual impact — and its consequences — are described. "Shit," he mumbles. He shuts up then, chewing on his lip as the Specialist finishes, and then reaching up his free hand to run into his hair. It stays there, dug into the messy locks as he glances about the room to see the reactions from others. He pauses looking over his shoulder for a second, and tilts his head, but then shrugs and faces front again, nudging Psyche once more. "Stop staring. What do we do? Should we be, like… doing something?"

McQueen arches one thick, brown eyebrow as his vision briefly wanders before his attention snaps back to Bannik, nodding his head once. Something looks like it briefly has him startled, but he shakes his head and straightens in his seat. "So Say We All, Specialist Bannik." He offers, simply. "So, we hope that they're /all/ not bloody crazy. And maybe take advantage of their one obvious weak spot, yeh?"

Pallas has been mostly listening. Not that you'd be able to tell by watching him; he doesn't look in Bannik's direction once, he's more preoccupied with looking around the room to see who's there and what their reactions are. "Specialist," he calls out, his voice a hoarse, gravely drawl. "I haven't given much of a frak about all this Gun talk, so I don't know the details. So. Can Areion remotely trigger a Fleet-wide Gun activation? And is it possible to make it look as if we've fired ours but not actually take a half-day downtime?"

"Negative, Spiral. Not based on our results. And, trust me, that is the first thing I checked into when we were running scenarios," Trask chimes in about remote activation. "If that weren't the case, I would've personally yanked out all the linked ECM configurations." The ECO's distrust of the spooks is nothing new. "As for the rest, not sure. We all fire on-mark, so they probably have no way of knowing until after the fact. The capital ships will still be down, but the Raptors might not also be taken outta commission as in the worst-case scenario relayed by Bannik."

Good question, Pallas. And everybody else is asking good questions as well, standing up and bumping past each other in this compartment. As Bannik gathers up his papers on the podium to make his way back to CIC, Cerberus' gathered combat personnel stake out various parts of the Ready Room. There, the Marines gather under Vandenberg's direction, spreading out old and probably unreliable schematics of Areion's decks over rows of unused chairs. There, Raptor pilots search the crowd for their trusty ECOs, bending their heads together to figure out how to survive any potential insertion the nutjob squids might suggest. And in clusters of three or four stand nervous Viper pilots doing their best to look calm and collected, swapping clipped observations about their Areion counterparts' foibles that might give the rest of them an edge. The great green chronometer above their heads ticks down the minutes, flashing LEDs counting down the time until everybody gets to see whether Rudy Kepner is for real — and somewhere in the chaos, the observant might catch a glimpse of a fat moustachioed man in a beige suit and red tie before he disappears into the surging crowd.

1518. Nobody seems to notice that the Fleet has only two minutes before the first deadline hits. Somewhere in the corner, a Marine curses loudly, having accidentally dropped his firearm on the ground.

1519. The room is suffused with the hum of sudden tension. Shouts turn to murmurs turn to whispers as strangers search out the eyes of strangers, as if seeking solace in that most basic law of humanity — for Man is a social animal —

1520. The room's intercom crackles to life. "This is Commander Rudolph Kepner," comes the man's grating voice. "Thirty minutes have elapsed. Your interim commanding officer has informed us that preparations for our operation are not yet complete. These delays will not be tolerated. I have therefore authorized the execution of Captain Rafe Williamson, Chief Weapons Officer of the Corsair, for mutiny, sedition, and colluding with the enemy in times of war. I pray you will permit me to exercise my powers of clemency in thirty minutes. Kepner out."

First: silence. Then, from the ancient FLASH transmitter in the corner there comes a sudden beeping in Colonial signal code — so many flashing lights it'll take people a moment to realize that a message is coming through. "It's the CO," the translator calls, her thin voice quavering. "She wants an assault plan. Now."

All bets down.

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