PHD #163: Asteroid Tag
Asteroid Tag
Summary: Devlin and Tisiphone play in the sims.
Date: 08 August 2041 AE
Related Logs: None
Devlin Tisiphone 
Flight Simulation
Post-Holocaust Day: #163

Tisiphone is still feeling like her days are suddenly, magically longer, now that her KD has been chopped in half — and happy enough to be back in the cockpit that hours of CAP are still a treat. It's this (dare she say it) cheeriness that had her inviting the Air Wing's prettiest little nugget to some sims time with her — and has her so bright-eyed and bushy-tailed over it that she's /early/, slouched back against the wall and smoking while she waits for him to arrive.

Air Wing's prettiest nugget isn't early, but Devlin is on time, wandering in with a notebook and that viper manual he seems to carry everywhere. There is never a bad time to study, folks. "Hey," he greets Tisiphone with a smile and a friendly wave as he drops his books and green over-shirt onto a chair, "So, ready to kick my ass?"

"Always," says Tisiphone, grin twisted crookedly around her cigarette. The first, most important rule of Air Wang: shit-talk early, shit-talk often. So saieth she, and she would never, /ever/ lie to a sweet little nugget, would she? She pushes off the wall, scrubs once at her overgrown scalpfuzz with her free hand, then starts ambling toward Devlin. "You flown with anyone beside Shiv and Professor Bell yet? Maybe Bubbles?"

Another pair of boots scuffing the deck might be heard from out in the corridor, shortly after Devlin arrives. The masked interloper who swoops in is none other than the Knights' new captain— save that he isn't masked, and he ambles more than swoops. Olive drab fatigues, an armload of what look like personnel files, and a data disk clamped between his teeth while he rifles around in his pockets with his free hand. Some sort of muffled greeting is given the Ensign and the pilot-in-training as he passes.

"Great," Devlin replies to Tisiphone with a nod, apparently not much for shit-talking, at least where he knows experience is vastly against him. He wanders towards her and the sims, nodding at the question, "Yeah, with Bubbles a couple times, too. That's it so far." He turns at the sound of another person entering, and gives a wave-salute hybrid as he greets, "Afternoon, sir."

"Okay, good. At least you've flown with someone who isn't-" -coming through the door as she speaks. Tisiphone lets the rest of her sentence trail away with the cigarette smoke as she watches Shiv enter. Pale eyes consider the data disk he's holding in his mouth for a second before she greets, simply, "Hey." The cigarette gets tucked back to her lips for a deep drag as she turns her attention back to Devlin. "You tried dogfighting yet? I don't have a frakking clue how far they've hustled you along." She starts moving for one of the sim-pods.

"Someone who isn't what?" The query's made after the Captain's dug out his pack of cigarettes, and extracted the data disk from between his teeth. The pile of folders is set down next to the main computer terminal with a thump. He doesn't bother answering the question of how far 'they've' hustled Devlin along; the nugget, presumably, can speak for himself.

Devlin's brows rise slightly, like he isn't sure how that sentence of Tis's was going to end, either. He moves on quickly enough to the next subject, offering, "We haven't done dogfighting yet, really, just nailing down the basics. We messed around with it a little, Bubbles and I, but just because I was curious, really. I haven't gotten that far with Shiv, yet."

"Assuming we all live long enough for you to notice /trends/ out there," says Tisiphone, not looking back as she speaks, detouring to the central console where all the sim-fight parameters get punched in, "you'll eventually have the pleasure of flying with shitty pilots. Who better to practice with?" A quick and very toothy grin, thrown only half over her shoulder in the direction of the two men. "It's easy to keep your shit together with someone who doesn't mess up. It's actually work, any other time."

It's hard to say, really, whether Sitka buys into the flattery that rolls off Tisiphone's tongue, or whether he recognises it for the cover-up it might well be. Either way, he seems disinclined to care overmuch; he lights up a cigarette while waiting for the Ensign to finish up with the console. "You two have a program in mind?" he asides to Devlin. Perhaps unnecessarily.

"Ah," Devlin replies simply to Tisiphone, though his brows draw together briefly. He looks for a second like he might say something, but then just nods a little and offers, "That makes sense." He watches her at the console before turning back towards Shiv and shrugging, admitting, "I have no idea. Looks like she does?"

"Of course it makes sense." Beep. Click click. Tisiphone keeps talking as she works at the console. "Guess you could argue it's better to learn without too many bad habits in the mix to cock things up but-" Type type type. "-you're frakked if you get out there and you're expecting Shiv or Professor Bell and you get Queenie running off all 'oh hey, be right back, don't die while I'm gone' or Spiral throwing you around on your ear." An asteroid fleet blips into sudden digital life on the screens, then vanishes a second later as she hits a button and turns around. "I was just going to play asteroid field tag with him, see if he could land a shot," she says to Sitka, on a breath of smoke. "You've got to have a better idea than that."

"Naw," Shiv replies, briefly checking his watch. "I'd like to see how he does, as a matter of fact. Plenty of time for my ideas when he's on the clock. In fact, I'll come back later to do this." The data disc is tucked into one of his folders, and the stack hefted back under his arm. To Devlin, "Let me know how it goes, yeah? Maybe we can build on some of this during your next, uh, lesson." A step back, and out of Tisiphone's way.

"Yeah," Devlin nods along with Tisiphone, looking up to the screen as asteroids briefly appear. Then his attention's back to Sitka and he bobs a not to the captain, "Sounds good, sir," he offers, "I'll let you know. See you later." He gives a friendly grin, and then stretches his arms up over his head as he heads towards one of the sims, pulling muscles taut and then shaking them out before he climbs in.

Sun-bleached brows lift, then furrow together for a second before smoothing out again. Tisiphone nods, turning away from the Captain as she does, back to the console. "Fine," she replies, punching at the console again. Beep beep. Click. The asteroid field pops back into virtual existence, a few seconds later. "Let's rock this." She moves off to a sim-pod opposite the console from Devlin's and throws the door open, scrubbing again at her scalpfuzz before she drops down into the seat.

The tension from Tisiphone goes either unnoticed or ignored by Sitka, who returns Devlin's grin with a small smile, hitches his chin upward in farewell to the pair, and trudges off for the hatch.

Devlin scrubs at his scalpfuzz too, running both hands over his head and then gripping the back of his neck for a moment, elbows pulled together in front of his face. Long arms are shaken out once more before he settles into his pod, and starts flicking the various systems on.

It's a little like a high-speed decoration of a Christmas tree. If Christmas trees were meant to inflict virtual death. "Check-check. Testing," Tisiphone's voice crackles over the comms, followed by the mildly deafening WHOP WHOP of her flicking the mic with her thumbnail for good measure. "Everything's green over here. How's it coming? You ought to pop in off my starboard wing…" Poit. Her virtual Viper appears, as she says it, and starts rolling end over end like a rotisserie spit. "…when you're good to go."

Devlin winces a little at that fingernail flick to his eardrum before replying, "Yeah, it works. Everything green over here too in—-" he flicks one more switch and then confirms, "Now, yeah." He watches the screen until her viper appears, his own popping into view a moment later, off her starboard wing as planned. "There we go," he says, "Alright. So, what's the game here? I chase you through an asteroid field and see if I can get a shot on target?"

"Bingo. Follow me for a bit here while I explain." Tisiphone's thrusters flare with blue-white light and her Viper soars slowly off. "It's something a- an old friend of mine did when I was having problems after my blowout. You're indestructible, but the asteroids will still smack you around. Unlimited ammo, so don't feel stingy. Might help Shiv if you fire long bursts. Give him an idea in the footage where your aiming's off and where it isn't." A faint whisper of static; it might be a shrug, on her end. "I run. You shoot. Couldn't be easier, as long as you can catch me." Sounds like a grin, there.

"Okay," Devlin agrees, flying after Tisiphone's viper as she moves off, trailing her at an easy distance. He listens, and then there's definite static from his end as he nods, and then catches himself, adding, "Sorry. Yeah, okay. Makes sense, I can do that." A pause, in which he almost certainly grins, correcting, "Well, try, anyhow. No idea whether I can catch you or not." He scratches at his ear, jostling the comm again briefly and then takes a deep breath and says, "Alright, ready. Let's go."

"I'm only an Ensign. How hard could it be?" Famous last (first?) words, of course — and delivered by a shit, for the maneuvering jets on Tisiphone's Viper immediately fire in some bewildering burst and throw her bird around. For a blink, she's nose to nose with Devlin, before peeling off back the way she came with a static-crackly whoop.

Devlin laughs, replying simply with a sarcastic, "Yeah," before blinking as she flips around. He starts to make a rude gesture when she flips nose-to-nose, then remembers she can't see it and when she peels off, he follows after. He can't navigate the asteroid field successfully at the same speed she can, or doesn't seem to think he can, at least. He manages to keep her in sight just often enough to follow, but can't close the distance enough to get a shot off.

After the first metaphorical glove-across-the-face, Tisiphone's flying loses at least /some/ of its smartassery. She doesn't /dodge/ so much as she concentrates on just flying in and around the asteroids — figuring, perhaps rightly, that the sudden swath of So Many Obstacles is distraction enough for the nugget. There aren't many spots in the asteroid field where a slow, bulky transport would have fit at /all/. "C'mon, faster," her voice comes in, over the comms. "I haven't even hit the afterburner yet. You should be flying me into the ground."

Definitely not wrongly, at least, as Devlin does seem to get distracted by the obstacles. He manages to keep the corner of one eye on the other viper most of the time, enough to follow her successfully, but he falls silent on the comms, and it seems to take all of his reflexes and attention to make it through unscathed. He doesn't manage to combine steering with shooting at all, but at least the steering part goes well, enough that when they do reach one of those rare areas that's a bit more open, and Tis demands additional speed, he laughs. "I'm going to be flying myself into the ground, more likely," he protests, but if she wants more speed, he'll give it a try, turning up the thrust to speed after her. Only a sim, after all.

"You're indestructable. The frak it matters if you bounce off an…" Tisiphone's voice squeezes off as she turns, a combination of her own bracing and what small bit of G-force the sim-pods can provide. "…imaginary asteroid? Good practice for picking yourself back up after a Raider hit, anyway. Count yourself lucky I didn't load up Virgon orbit and make you fly through the guts of the Fleet. /Faster/." She curves out from behind an asteroid and points toward a far larger one — but in the arc connecting /here/ to /there/, there isn't much for the nugget to do but follow…and shoot.

"Yeah, yeah, I know," Devlin concedes, "Just doesn't seem good to get in the habit of thinking I'm indestructible," he replies, "But alright." Faster he goes, putting on the speed to race after the other viper through that emptier space. And, since she's asking for it, he takes aim and, as suggested, takes a nice long shot at the other viper.

"Save the picture-perfect fighting for the picture-perfect stunt pilots," mutters Tisiphone, her brashness darkened for a moment with something akin to defensiveness or scorn. Devlin's burst of imaginary 20mm autocannon fire strafes off after her, and her Viper rolls lazily out of the way. "You-" Her words cut off to the sound of some sudden alert within her sim-pod; a second later the connection goes dead. She rolled /too/ lazily out of the way, it seems — the trailing end of the bullets catch her wing, and throw her spinning end over end as they punch through. "-frakDAMMIT!" comes over the comms, laughing and hellaciously pissed-off at once. He hit her. The frakking nugget /hit/ /her/. "Try it again, pretty boy," she mutters, her Viper's engines flaring back to life.

Devlin lets out a surprised whoop, that successful hit as unexpected by the nugget as by his target, it seems. "Beginner's luck," he promises her with an audible grin, cranking up the speed to launch his viper after hers once more. Back into the asteroid field they go, and this time the speed gets the better of him. He misjudges a turn, clips an asteroid with the tip of one wing and goes tumbling, spinning out of control for a minute before he wrestles the ship steady again, by which point he is way, way behind. "Frak," he mumbles, rustling the comm as he shakes his head to clear it, and then heads after her again.

Tisiphone's Viper, meanwhile, uses the precious seconds Devlin loses to figuring out which way is up from down to circle lazily around and around an asteroid. Her bird looks a little like a stroke patient — the one wing keeps trying to droop downward, only to be hitched back into line by a quick upward tic. The sims, fanciest and freshes from Picon HQ, are even considerate enough to detail sparks and smoke, may it please the very, very, /very/ lucky nugget. "Not bad, not bad," she says as she circles. "Bad hit in an asteroid field and you might as well be playing pinball. Not bad at all." As Devlin's Viper approaches, her own turns — and zips right past him in a little game of Chicken.

Devlin figures it out eventually, righting himself and after a moment even managing to locate Tisiphone again as she circles, the sparks and smoke off her wing creating a helpful trail. "Thanks," he says, turning his viper to face her until she zips right by. He flips around - quick-handed if not always sure-handed - and speeds after her, though another rapidly-narrowing passage sees him slowing up considerably to navigate it.

Here Be Wounded Bird, Yo. It might as well be labelled on a map, in some archaic script. "Fraksakes, stop slowing down," Tisiphone's voice crackles sharply in Devlin's ear. "You feel like you ought to slow down, either the other pilot's slowing down too — which means it's a good time to hit the throttle and catch up — or you're being a limp-wristed honey-pastry. Which one's it gonna be?" Her engines flare again, the flash of blue-white vanishing behind an asteroid only to circle out sharply from the other side, crossing in front of him. Yoo-hoo, there she is. Maybe she missed her calling as a rodeo clown.

"Won't I just lose more time running into shit?" Devlin asks, half-curious, half-protesting before he gets distracted and echoes incredulously, "Honey-pastry? What the frak is that supposed to be a euphemism for?" All the same, he turns on the speed as goaded, jerking the viper around to follow as she crosses past him. The shot he gets off then is just a beat too late, and after another bit of high-speed chase he snaps off a few more bursts of KEW fire, the last narrowly missing the ensign's bird.

"You eat some space debris while trying to close with a target and we don't need you out there anyway." Ensign Apostolos — always the morale-builder. Her Viper twists like a corkscrew, the bullet-trails coming perilously close to adding a matching set of bulletholes to her other wing. "Honey-pastry," she repeats, twisting around and dropping low, pulling a vertical circumnavigation of the next asteroid, underbelly out, cockpit inward. Negative Gs, everyone's favourite — not to mention the imaginary asteroid looming 'overhead'. "Sweet. Enjoyable. Utterly frakking useless." Her maneuvering jets flare wildly and flip her around to point at Devlin, stock-still.

Devlin just grunts a reply, focused again on the difficult task of keeping up the speed she requires and not pancaking on a giant space boulder or three. When she suddenly flips towards him and stops, he avoids a collision with a quick adjustment, but his shot goes a little wide in the process as he fails to totally account for the twisting he's doing to carry his viper around and not into hers. He flips back as quick as he can to try to get another shot off, but he's not at a great angle, and it's easily avoided if she bothers to move.

Maybe it's an impromptu lesson on just how pooched someone is, once they're stationary — because it seems an achingly slow process for Tisiphone to kick her Viper back into gear and bomb it straight at Devlin's nose. Maybe it's /also/ an impromptu lesson on just how many bullets one can dump into a target that's… uninterested in self-preservation, shall we say… before it's thoroughly enough destroyed to no longer be a risk to one's own ship. The last heavy spray of Devlin's gunfire finally carve what's left of Tisiphone's Viper into small enough flaming chunks that they barely jostle his own bird when they impact. "Not bad," comes the Ensign's disembodied voice, somewhere in the midst of the debris-storm. "Let's call it there." A second later, the remnants of her ship wink out of existence altogether.

Devlin keeps a finger on the trigger as Tisiphone flies straight at him, firing continuously until she's in little bits, apparently having picked up on the point of the lesson. Or one of its possible points, at least. He seems a little surprised when her ship breaks apart, remarking, "I didn't know the simulation included stuff like that. Neat." He seems pleased to call it, replying, "Alright," and shutting his systems down as well before climbing out of the pod, shaking himself a little bit like a wet dog before stretching again. "I need to practice more," he announces, "You're right, I was way too slow."

"Caution's about fifth on the list of things you need to survive out there," says Tisiphone, already lighting up a fresh cigarette, legs thrown out of the sim-pod to sit sideways and watch the nugget emerge from his own imaginary Viper. "In flight school it was, like…" She frowns at the cherry on her cigarette, thinking. "Like we were cows. Dumb and slow, and- like they were spurring us until we'd run. Fly harder. Fly faster. Stop thinking. DO IT. Again and again and again. Professor Bell talks about it sometimes, a little less in your face than my flight instructors were. Stop thinking about how to react and just /react/. It'll come."

Devlin listens, leaning back against the pod once he's out, watching the pilot and her cigarette. He nods a little. "It's like muscle memory," he says, "Like in sports. You just do something over and over and over so when the moment comes, you don't have to think, your body just does it on its own. It knows better than you do." He scrubs a hand over his head, scratching absently, and then nods again, chin bobbing, "I just need to do that more. What's that program, the asteroid field? I can just come and race through it til I stop hitting things."

"Yeah. It's like that. Only there's no up and down, and the opposing team's trying to kill you." Tisiphone gives a smoky little snort as she pushes up and crosses to the central console. "It's here," she says, punching at the keys with her cigarette-bearing hand, dusting ash everywhere. "Under 'Orbital Scenarios'. Asteroid Field: Inactive." Her eyes slide over, sidelong, to the nugget. "Don't try 'Active' until you're feeling real cocky. Just a tip." She snorts again, then tucks the cigarette into the corner of her mouth as she turns for the door. "We'll play tag again sometime soon," she says. "Grab a couple others, maybe. Two on two's a good practice for everyone."

"Right," Devlin nods, "And if you frak up, you -actually- die, instead of just feeling like it." He follows her over to the console, leaning over to look, and to brush ash off helpfully after her hand is out of the way. "Got it," he replies with a nod, stepping back as she does. The suggestion of another round gets another nod, this one quicker, and he agrees, "Definitely, yeah. I'd like that. Thanks," he adds, "This was good."

"Sometimes you don't die when you frak up. Sometimes you just break your arm keeping your canopy from caving in on you." Tisiphone glances back with an odd grin, itching carefully at a pale scar that curves around her right eyesocket. "Usually, though? You die." She raises her cigarette to the nugget in a half-wave, half-salute, before turning again to the hatch. "Keep practicing," she calls, as she wrenches it open. "I'll catch you around."

"…huh," Devlin replies to that, not seeming sure at all what to make of it. He lifts a hand in an answering wave/salute hybrid and calls back, "I will. See you."

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