PHD #165: Breaking the Girl
Breaking the Girl
Summary: Sitka helps Davis face her fears, but he can't do it for her.
Date: 10 Aug 2041 AE
Related Logs: Mashed Spuds, some others I need to post. Mostly that one. (Will fix this when the others are posted.)
Davis Sitka 
Deck 11 - Battlestar Cerberus: Flight Simulation
A training room specifically dedicated to honing aerial skills, this area is equipped with several flight simulator pods that allow the pilots to practice maneuvers and tactics without being in a real live plane. The Viper-pods are installed on one side of the room with a little space between them, an attempt to provide a realistic feel for close-range wing training, while a smaller number of Raptor sim-pods are installed on the opposite side of the room from the Vipers. A central computer terminal and overhead display screen sits at the head of the room, where one can input exercises and data to be run in the sims, scroll through score records, and control the training modules.
Post-Holocaust Day: #165

It is, unfortunately, the Big Day already; after a few weeks of practice drills, technical manual review and perhaps the occasional stopping by the Captain's 'office' (really just a cramped cubicle in the back of the naval offices), the inevitable can't be postponed any further. Davis would've received word well in advance, of course, that her presence was expected in flight simulation this afternoon. He's even taped a sign on the door reading 'examination in progress'. The Captain's likely easy to spot, slouched in a chair at the main console in his duty blues, keying up a program while he smokes one of his cheap cigarettes.

Academically, she is well prepared. Flight procedures and basic tactics have been reviewed until Ensign Hathor finds herself using them to maneouver around people in the hallways. Her flight suit has been swapped out for one that fits better, now. Nobody's really fitting into the more generous sizes anymore, after all. Outside the simulator bay she runs a hand over her suit one last time before striding in with her full parade bearing. Finding Sitka waiting for her, Davis snaps to attention an arm's length away from him. "Sir! Ensign Hathor, ready for qualification!" Again.

Ibrahim's never been one for protocol. He was known, down on the base, to regularly shirk things such as salutes, and overlook scuffed boots and sloppy posture in favour of correcting what he deemed more 'important' mistakes. Generally those occurring twenty thousand feet above the ground. Davis' arrival and brisk snapping to attention, however, earns at least a token response from the Captain; he climbs to his feet and returns the salute with just a shred of the formality that's been drummed into him in his twenty or so years in the military. "Get plenty of sleep?" he enquires, flashing her a crooked grin.

"Yessir, snuggled Mister Bear extra," she replies with a wink. The cheerful facade slips as she takes in a slow, tense breath. "I'm in good hands. Let's do this," she says, and turns for the designated simulator. There is an air of tension in the movements of the Ensign, who so recently could march on parade as calmly as she could stroll through a plaza in search of pretty dresses or precious nicknacks.

A hand is closed over her shoulder, just before she turns to head for the simulator— which also has a sheet taped to it with her name and service number. Meaning everything's likely pre-loaded. "It's nothing you haven't seen before," he tells her, re-settling at the console. "Just try to relax." Blue eyes follow the young woman for a few moments, as if recalling some air show on Caprica, and the shopping trip that followed in the few hours before they were due back on Picon. And then back to the terminal with a click-clack of keys. "Fire it up when you're ready to go. It, uh, should start automatically."

Davis leans, albeit briefly, into that comforting and avuncular palm. "Right," she nods, the word coming out with a puff of breath. "Comm check," she begins with once the canopy is closed. "Is this the Seven, or have they always been this roomy?" After that things get serious, the Ensign going through the Piconese flight checklist with a practiced emotional distance. "… ready for launch," she finishes with, the inflection returning to her voice. "What's the mission, Shiv?"

"It's, uh, it's configured for a two," Sitka replies, a touch distractedly as he refers back to his folder of octagonal papers. The second page is flipped to, and he eases back in his chair while reading out the mission parameters, "It's going to be a standard escort on an unarmed raptor. Close cover, one wingman. You're going to have some chop to deal with, since you'll be navigating through a gas giant's gravity well. Uh.." He flips again. "Hostiles aren't expected, but if they show up, you'll want to protect the cargo at all costs. I guess you've got some weapons or something on board." Indeed, as she fires up her simulated 'systems', the program begins with her viper already launched, and skimming through space. Two other contacts register on 'DRADIS': the other viper, and the raptor. Their destination is marked by a set of coordinates blipping on the screen's lower left corner.

"Raptor full of cake, roger that," Davis responds, adding in her own details. "Shiv, Spuds, I've got some DRADIS flicker," she notes, slipping into the simulation more fully. She even thumps the screen with a finger. "Think it's the gravity well, going to increase my safety interval by a few meters." Her Viper eases away from the Raptor a good ten or fifteen feet; so far, so good, there's only the usual bit of performance anxiety in her voice.

"Copy that," Shiv dutifully replies, eyes flickering to the console in front of him, then back to the paper he's slid out from amongst the rest. The one with columns and criteria, just waiting to be filled out with the pen he just slid out of his jacket pocket. His smoke is pulled from once more, then put out; the less to distract his 'student' with. On Davis' screen, the other viper strafes out a short distance in kind, and the raptor continues to lumber along on course. More flicker, more artifacts pop up on DRADIS occasionally. Radiological levels read moderate, so it's a bit of work sifting through the detritus for the actual threats.

"Viper Two, Spuds. I have an intermittent, can you verify?" It's probably nothing, but the blip has occured three times in the same spot relative to her, even when lifting her nose. "Bearing three fife… three fife…" The systems flicker and fade, but that's not what has Davis breathing faster. No, the false readings and outputs on her screens do the trick, the variance just enough for the verniers to kick in contrary to her dead stick. "Standby," she grunts into the mic, performing some more deliberate maneouvers to retain some amount of control while inputting the baselines her systems need to sort out what they're meant to be doing. "Frakking gas giants… Gods love 'em, 'cause I don't…"

The program's not sophisticated enough for virtual wingmen who talk back, so the response is given in Shiv's own calm voice, "Viper two says he confirms the presence of intermittents, and he's recalibrating his sensors to accomodate." The sudden shorting out of her systems lasts about twenty seconds. Thankfully, Davis' purposeful maneuvering combined with the Mark II being far less reliant upon its electronic instumentation, results in her making it out of the little scrape intact. Her systems flicker back to life again— to the sound of an enemy contact squawking on DRADIS. Fifteen clicks away, roughly. And then it silences for a few seconds. And then bleeps again. The gas giant's radiation, meanwhile, continues to play havoc with the ships' instruments.

Having drifted further from her ward and wingman, Davis is scooting back to a proper distance when the contact buzzes. Or sputters, really. "All, Spuds, confirm any Cylon contact, intermittent or solid. I read fifteen clicks aprox, bearing…" tension is getting to her, voice pitching higher as she calls out the rough coordinates. Her finger hovers over the toggle for active DRADIS, not quite ready to blare her position over ghosts just yet.

"Contact is confirmed," Shiv interjects once more, scribbling something down on the exam sheet in front of him. "Viper two is going active and weapons hot on your mark; the raptor is falling back." Indeed, their beast of burden cuts its thrusters and drops into a four o'clock position on Davis' tail, allowing the two vipers to charge ahead. The contact sings out again on DRADIS; ten clicks away and closing fast.

"Roger Two," the Ensign responds. "Move to my eleven o'clock…" She glances into her rearview, getting a read on the Raptor's position. "High, and prepare for visual contact. Raptor, if you're loading ECM, get ready to use it if this doesn't work. DRADIS active and weapons free in three, two…" That's when Davis pushes the toggle and flicks her weapon safeties off. "One…" Assuming a more solid contact, she shifts her gunsighs to just a little bit more lead than is necessary, intent on starting with an area-denial burst and walking it into the lead. "Go." With any luck, the rounds ahead and below the Raider will force it up, allowing Viper Two to handle it up close. Rather than her.

As Davis drops back for guns low, the other viper engages its thrusters and moves into the high slot. Within seconds, they'll both have a visual on the contact: a single raider that blasts into range at high speed, and tries to juke sharply as it enters the spray of shots from Davis' guns. Which gives the second viper what should be a perfect firing solution— except that he misses by just a hair, and is summarily shot to pieces by the enemy craft. A large hunk of canopy comes loose and ricochets backwards, straight for Davis' viper as the raider comes around for its second pass.

Davis lifts her nose, excited at the turn of events in her favor. It's working, she tells herself in the fractions of a second that the machine shakes her cockpit to simulate her craft's guns firing. It's working. "It's… shit!" Engines and verniers work in concert to push her Viper out of the debris' path, and incidentally toward the Raider. "Make him blind!" she calls over the voice-open channel. "We're better flying that way than they are," Davis tells herself, trying to find that contact on her DRADIS screen before the Raptor's jamming makes everything hard to read. Her plan is undeveloped, she realizes, beyond simply hoping the ECM hasn't been removed to make space for more cake.

The ECM, as it turns out, hasn't been removed. After a brief verbal confirmation from Sitka, and something keyed into his console, the raptor begins generating low wavelength interference designed to fuss with sensors and targeting equipment. Bright white blips of 'coded' light flare along its nose as it tries to keep itself and its precious baked cargo out of range of the fight. Bits of viper two continue to hurtle out through the debris field as Davis moves in for the kill. There's a glint of silver in her peripheral vision, and then the crescent-shaped fighter wheels into view, headed on what looks like a collision course with her. Guns firing on full rotation.

Strips of shredded shell and circuitry flicker in Davis' screen, teasing at her attention. That would be a heck of a place to hide. It is by chance, by a quick glance at the DRADIS which comes more out of habit than any real hope of seeing something useful through the jamming, that her eyes can approach the visual problem outside her canopy afresh. Something is wrong with one piece of debris. It's moving the wrong direction compared to everything else. Just as it flickers in a manner that certainly isn't smouldering wires Davis kicks her maneuvering thrusters into reverse and kills the engines' push, rapidly losing velocity. The simulator's motors whine as it yanks backwards, her harness instantly locking into place. Through the dark mesh of blackout encroaching her vision Davis sees one flicker brighter than those of the cannon rounds she's narrowly avoided, and squeezes the trigger. Sadly for her, it's just another bit of debris, not the raider.

Sadly, indeed. Her maneuvering through the field of drifting wreckage is spot-on, but the case of mistaken identity costs her several rounds of bullets stitched through her viper's flank, as the raider screams past with mere feet of lateral separation. Warning bells begin chiming, including a computerised voice that warns of a fuel leak and another calmly stating that she's lost engine two and her portside thrusters. The raider, in the meantime, wheels about at the end of its pursuit run for another try.

Oh, and it could have been worse: the raptor's distortion field seems to have done its job in knocking the enemy fighter's firing solution slightly wide. Davis, otherwise, might not be still flying.

Not that what ensues could be considered flying. What needs to happen is a savvy manipulation of starboard fore and aft thrusters and she could be turning into the Raider's rear. A Mark VII's systems would handle it automatically, loading up a new flight profile that happened to not have port thrusters or engine two; the Mark II doesn't fight her efforts, but does nothing to help her either. Spuds' Viper describes a broad arc as she kicks the faux-rudder and yanks on her stick in an ineligant fit of barbarism, her guns spewing a scythe of ammunition wastefully into virtual space. The ammunition counter on Sitka's display quickly flashes a pair of red zeroes, and as she spirals about hyperventilating, the cacophony in Davis' cockpit is given order and tempo by the gunnery computer ticking to tell her she's out of ammo.

Strictly speaking, he shouldn't be speaking to her during the examination, save to answer questions asked of her erstwhile (and now dead) wingman, or the raptor crew. But as her viper begins dancing a pirouette amongst the tumbling remains of viper two, guns spitting their payload uselessly into space not occupied by the crafty raider closing in on her— the Captain's voice calmly informs her, "You're out of ammo, Spuds, and you're disoriented." Oh so sedate, like he's pointing out a pretty conch on a beachside walk. The raider hurtles past again at full throttle, blasting its guns.

Davis does nothing to respond to her Captain, nor does she make any moves to avoid the gunfire. What she does instead is cut her spin with a lateral shove that puts her in what would be, with two engines and working thrusters, a leading intercept trajectory with the Raider. The VOX roars with her frantic breathing and choked muttering; should she survive the pass, it would be a matter of sheer luck.

Luck that doesn't seem to be on her side, today. If all her engines were functional, it would have been sufficient to drag her — barely — out of harm's way. Instead, her fishtailing tailfin is chewed to pieces by the raider's gunfire, shearing off engine number three as well. With only one engine remaining, and virtually no maneuvering, sensors or even comms still functional, the simulation is cut abruptly short with a couple of keystrokes from the main console. The screen flickers black, with Cerberus' logo briefly flashed before it shuts down completely. Meanwhile, the Captain climbs out of his chair and approaches Davis' cockpit slowly, as if to keep from startling her.

The additional klaxons and indicator lights don't even phase her, which isn't a good sign: they fail to even register in Davis' mind. What does interfere with her feverish struggles isn't the thump of the stick against its housing, the hiss of the machine returning to center or the silent darkness inside of it. No, what breaks the Ensign's trance is the familiar face that squirms across an irregularity in the canopy glass. She looks toward it so quickly that her face is smushed against the visor of her helmet momentarily. Her face is pale, glistening with cold sweat, and gripped by the taut panic of one jerking awake from a nightmare. The sweat on Davis' cheeks is joined by what spills unbidden from her eyes. Like a small child, she lifts trembling arms toward Sitka's image in the glass.

There's no reprobation on the image that skews into a familiar face in the glass. No anger, no disappointment. Even the taut concern has been shoved away, in favour of hitting the faux cockpit's 'release' lever, shoving open the canopy, and bodily hauling the young Ensign back out once he's torn off her restraints. He's a pretty bulky guy, and she's likely not had the opportunity to maintain her generous physique on this ship. So unless she fights him, it shouldn't be too much of a feat. "You're fine. You're fine. It's done now." His voice is low and scratchy-soft in counterpoint to the memory of those blaring klaxons.

Once again the restraints lock up on her, this time from her urgent lunge for the Captain the moment the canopy glass opens. He doesn't even have to pull her out: Davis nearly breaks something in the flight sim with her struggles to get away from the source of this waking nightmare and into the warm, protective presence of Ibrahim's body. His arms and voice are a balm, even through the thick flight suit and helmet. The poor Captain gets a vicious pinch on one side from the frantic way she grabs at his shirt, and the helmet slamming into his chest reverberates in the man's lungs as she smushes her face to him through it. Something comes out of her mouth, but is wrenched into a single wordless sob.

It's a small mercy, really, that he'd posted his note outside the hatch to ward off any potential interruptions; there's nobody else but her commanding officer to witness this. If he has a heart, it won't make it into any official reports to the CAG, either. "Shhh," whispered against the top of her helmet as his hand roves in a slow, steady circle between her flight suited shoulderblades. "You're safe. I promise." No attempt is made to break her white-knuckled embrace, though there might be a slight wince as her fingers dig into his side in their quest to clutch at his uniform. It isn't for a good thirty seconds that he eases off just enough to slide his fingers under the hardseal release on her helmet, and attempts to work it off her head gently.

The woman's breathing comes in heavy shudders, true, but the heavier they get the more regular and controlled they become. It still takes a number of long huffs before Davis is able to swallow, breathe, and attempt to string some words together. "D-wo youh-have a hanky, Iyybrhm?" she manages in a sniffing quaver.

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