PHD #316: Brushing Clouds
PHD #316: Brushing Clouds
Summary: Van and Khloe actually talk in the flight sims. Nobody dies. Nearly an event.
Date: 08 Jan 2042 AE
Related Logs: Dunno.
Khloe Vandenberg 

NOTE: This scene has been moved forward from 301. Sorry for the confusion.

Flight Sims
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: #301

Sounds of simulated KEW come from one of the Viper sim pods, and it appears Khloe is seated inside. Flight simulator-quality images flash on her screen, complete with a simulated DRADIS and other Viper instrumentation. It seems the Captain is practicing her target practice, chasing down airborne Raiders in an atmosphere that looks very much like Tauron's: tinted by pervasive orange dust and volcanic mountain ranges that break up the dry landscape.

There's no telling how long Vandenberg has been standing there. As the norm for the last few days she's in her combat garb and vest. The P90 on her chest, a smaller swap down from the GMAR, hangs from a simple plastic clip and strap while her hands are stuffed into her pockets. The helmet's straps are loosened and the protective gear hangs behind her neck. Standing at the control panel, she doesn't dare touch a single thing. She isn't BAD with this stuff - but someone is training. Do Not F With Training. Her eyes flick across the screens as the pilot in the sims rolls and banks through turns, firing away. Natalie probably wouldn't be here if she knew who it was.

A beep signifies the end of the sim, and a series of numbers displayed, including a kill count, accuracy rating, and damage report of her simulated Viper. She did fairly well for a six-on-one dogfight with a simulated wingman, but she seems dissatisfied. "Frak," she mutters, tugging off her helmet as she steps out of the sim pod. Still not noticing Natalie, she stands there, hands on hips (with helmet gripped by the chinguard) glaring at the results.

Natalie grunts with the results, the sound neither positive or negative. She stoops at the panel and looks it over. "Not bad," she calls out. "At least from where I stand." At the very least, being out of sight like she is, she's not a member of the Wing. But when she stands she looks over to the pilot. "Always been curious about how it looked from inside a cockpit. Played a few video games over the years but nothing this high tech. I take it this is pretty close?" Nope, still oblivious to who that pilot is.

Khloe tenses at the commentary, but quickly recognizes the voice. Without turning, she allows herself a hint of a smirk, before she banishes it away beneath her usual stony frown. "This isn't a video game, Lieutenant," says the Captain, turning on her heel halfway, throwing out a hip cockily and raising an eyebrow. "But you're welcome to give it a shot if you think you have the sand."

Yep, there's the voice! Vandenberg's lazy smile flickers away but she tries to force it back. It doesn't quite look the same on her face. She steps around the console, crossing her arms over her chest. "Yes, sir. But it.." But it, what? Looks like one? Sounds like one? She's not a Viper pilot and she knows it. "I'd love to give it a try, Captain, but I'd probably just break it. I haven't made physical contact with a Viper in five years. I've never even sat in one. I take it that its a lot harder than it looks." Natalie doesn't take a step closer, but she's not running for the door, either.

Khloe shrugs lightly, her flight suit crinkling audibly. "Suit yourself." She crosses over to the console where Vandenberg is standing, peering at the display there. "Remember what I mentioned, that one time in the firing range?" No, not the nasty words, the stuff that came before it. "About going back to basics. I'm still having some gunnery issues and I'm trying to work them out. My accuracy is piss-poor lately, but I think I'm on the verge of something. See, compare these two." She calls up the 'footage' from her previous attempt, playing it side-by-side with her last simulation. It's really just a lot of blurs of motion to the untrained eye, showing the point of view from what would be the simulated Viper's gun camera.

Natalie glances from the shrugging Captain to the sim she just exited. She leans forward a bit as if to try and get a few more degrees of angle as Khloe passes. She follows a moment later and looks at the screens side by side. Vandenberg obviously has no idea what the hell she is looking at. "I see..a nosecone. And tracers flying. And naturally occurring dramamine in your body. How do you pick this apart? What're you trying to do?" Other than 'win' - that's a given.

Khloe allows herself to smirk at the dramamine comment. "It's really not that dizzying when you're in the middle of it," she explains. "Look, here -" She reaches across the console, leaning well across Vandenberg's field of vision, to rewind the frames and settle on a specific time index. "In slow motion. See how I'm chasing my own tracers, here?" She points at the screen. "And here, I'm chasing the leading edge of the Raider. Screen A, bad. Screen B, better. Rookie mistakes. Sloppy, really; there's no excuse for it."

"Huh," is the primary response from Natalie. She watches the video feed move through in slow motion but makes no movement to fuss her way to a better view. Not her stomping ground and all. "I think I see what you mean about chasing tracer. We stole the idea of target fixation from you all, I think. You get too focused on one thing and forget everything else. Kinda similar?" She glances to Khloe and back to the screen. "How do you all get past it? Just practice more? Or is it sort of a more aggressive kind of 'survival of the fittest'?" Its not said like a joke or with any form of lighthearted banter.

Khloe begins ticking off on a gloved hand. "Accept that you have a weakness, recognize the source of your weakness, identify a work-around, and practice," she explains, sounding more like she's talking about Alcoholics Anonymous than practicing in the sims. But then again, isn't that how she generally views all obstacles in life? "Survival of the fittest. Yes, that's how I generally look at things, although the CAG insists that there's a certain degree of luck to combat piloting. I disagree; I don't believe in luck, the Fates, or anything else they spoon-feed you as a kid. It's all here -" She flexes her gloved hands. "- and here." She taps on her temple.

Van readjusts the arms crossed on her chest, fidgeting her stance. She's not trying to retort or be a smart-ass. The Lieutenant seems quite subdued and humbled at the moment. "I always figured luck had a little to do with it but most of it was locked away in your mind. People psyching themselves out. Thinking they couldn't do something was the big block people had to overcome. I had an instructor at one of my advanced schools that said that the mind was the only limiting factor." She flashes a humorless smile, the upturn of her lips indicating that this was probably not the easiest of experiences. "Do you ever run out of weaknesses, sir?"

Khloe arches an eyebrow slightly at Vandenberg's question; there's a long pause before she answers, as her lips twitch as she mulls over appropriate answers. Her expression hardens somewhat as she answers: "No. Because even machines are limited by the fact that they're unchanging, static things. But that doesn't lessen the need to exterminate weakness. One extra minute of running. One extra rep in the gym. One more percentage point on gunnery sims. There's always room for improvement."

Vandenberg keeps her eyes on the slow-motion replay as Khloe explains things. She's looking at them but probably not paying a lot of attention to what is happening. "So the argument is that there is weakness constantly. That the battle to overcome it is never-ending? We're always fighting to better ourselves?" Natalie finally looks back. "What about if someone is already.." She tries to figure out the right way to word this. Its not that she's trying to avoid offending Khloe (because THAT'S never happened before), Nat is just trying to string together ideas. "What if they already know they've hit their peak in an area? Like, they're happy with where they are. Is a person weak for being happy and satisfied?"

Khloe shrugs again; if she's taking personal offense, she's not showing it. "I'm only speaking from my point of view, Lieutenant. I don't want to get into the sticky rhetorical debate of whether or not someone is weak for allowing themselves to be satisfied. But if there ever comes a time when I stop striving to improve the life that I lead, then either I'm dead, or I've given up - and at that point I might as well be dead, anyway."

Natalie looks away again, tilting her head forward as she looks back towards the console. "My drill instructor told me that stagnation is the stew that reeks of failure. It rots and bubbles and only gets worse as time goes on." The woman looks uncomfortable. "Its why I'm always at full-bore, sir. Gotta keep moving. I guess I missed the point of what she said." Again. Her hands fold on the butt of the carbine on her chest, resting lazily despite her body language saying otherwise. "Do you think that happiness is something people can allow in and still That people can really be effective if they allow emotion into their work, sir? Even in something like Vipers?" Or infantry.

Finally, the annoyance begins to show on Khloe's face, her eyes narrowing slightly, and her body language becoming more sharp and pronounced. "You're talking to someone who used to drown her emotions with liquor and morpha," she says. Well, that answers that question. "It's better to just not let yourself get attached. Emotion is a distraction. Distractions breed weakness, because you're not focused on the end goal. See, it's like this: if you're sharpening a knife, and you don't pay attention, you can cut yourself. The goal is to focus on sharpening." Of course, that doesn't answer the question of too much sharpening whittling down the blade to nothing, but it's pretty evident Khloe thinks she has an expiration date on her usefulness.

"Even if you think that emotion makes you better at what you do, sir?" Natalie risks a glance back to Khloe but doesn't hold it. She's not spoiling for a fight, just some ideas. "I care a lot about my people, Captain. In combat its different. I just-" There's a look of frustration the flickers. "I've lost some good Marines in my career. If I just brush them off like it doesn't matter than what does that say about me? What does that say to my people? If I blade myself away from them then how do they know I won't expend them like a round every time they go out? It seems too cold for me, Captain."

"It'd be easier if we didn't feel anything at all," Khloe says, turning away from Vandenberg and walking back over to her sim pod. "We're all expendable. Every single one of us. Just because it's the end of the world doesn't mean we need to start second-guessing how we do things. You, me, that's what we are. We're rounds in a chamber. And some day, someone's going to pull the trigger, and we're going to do our duty." She climbs back into the pod's seat, pulling her helmet back over her head. "Just like your Marines. Just like Lucky, and Salt, and Wheels, and all of them." She begins pushing buttons to reset the simulator for another run. "Sorry, Lieutenant. You're asking the wrong person."

If there's any part of it that Vandenberg agrees or disagrees with, she doesn't show it. She just stares at the console with a grim expression. Probably not what she was expecting when she came in here. The Lieutenant only looks up when Khloe steps off for the sims. "Aye, skipper. I'll leave your peace then. Wouldn't mind giving it a run next time, though, sir." She nods to the sim before stepping off for the hatch. "Good hunting."

"Drop by any time, Vandenberg." And that's when Khloe punches the 'start' button and begins her ducking, dodging, and KEWing all over again. No rest for the wicked…

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