PHD #383: EVENT - Enter the Swarm XIII: Unwelcome Returns
Enter the Swarm XIII: Unwelcome Returns
Summary: The Raiders make an unwelcome reappearance, and this time they're not alone.
Date: 16 March 2042 AE
Related Logs: The Swarm logs; the first appearance of the ECM basestar
Cidra Khloe Trask Evandreus Leyla Shortbus McQueen Wilkerson 
Cold, black, filled with Raiders.
Post-Holocaust Day: #383

[BlackKnight-311: Cidra] Five days. Five days since the destruction of the Foundry facility in the Aeolus Asteroid Belt. Five days, the longest stretch of time since the Swarms began, without a single Cylon contact on the DRADIS. That streak, unfortunately, is broken. It begins as it usually begins, with a flash of light in the haze of the clouds of Audumbla, the flash of a micro-jump of Cylons engines, and a pair of Raiders appear. Just as before, they've found them again.

[BlackKnight-853: Khloe] Crusing along in the radioactive soup and goop is Poppy's usual Viper, 853, taking the point of the fleet's double CAP. And, as before, she's quick on the stick, angling out towards where the DRADIS contacts have winked in.

[TAC3] "Poppy" Khloe says, "Cerberus, this is Poppy. Showing two DRADIS contacts, reading as hostile Raiders. So much for the honeymoon. Intercepting. Fleet, head three-one-two carom one-one."

[TAC3] "Toast" Cidra says, "Poppy, Toast. I am on your six. Our respite is at end. Let us put these to a swift one as well. Alert fighters, launch. CAP is engaging."

[BlackKnight-853: Khloe Crusing along in the radioactive soup and goop is Poppy's usual Viper, 853, taking the point of the fleet's double CAP. And, as before, she's quick on the stick, angling out towards where the DRADIS contacts have winked in. (we're all on CAP)'

[BlackKnight-1117: McQueen] Five days, one day. It's only been a day since McQueen's 'technical difficulties' in a recent swarm encounter left him with a slightly unsightly shrapnel wound and some minor abrasions, but the pilot is intact, and has been generally itching to get back into the cockpit. It's only been a day since clearance was granted, and he cruises through the vast, multicolored spacescape with Wilkerson as CAP coverage progresses. Unfortunately, this routine patrol only became slightly less routine. He increases speed, and turns off the safeties.

[TAC3] "Queenie" McQueen says, "All ships, Queenie. I see the bandits. Wilks, keep tight and sharp and for Gods' sake, if I do anything bloody stupid, don't imitate me. Got a bead on Alpha."

[Harrier-303: Evandreus] For all that the Bunny is taciturn over the comms, keeping them clear for important communications, he does tend to like to talk to his backseater inside the confines of the boat, so long as not much is going on out there. Tonight's no different, and he's going on about his recent acupuncture session. "It's like… you'd think it'd be pretty uncomfortable, yah? But it isn't. A little strange, but not really unpleasant. I guess if it was unpleasant, people would have given it up a long time a—frakking hell," he cuts off in the middle. Raiders. He flips the fore of the cabin sharply south of carom and twists around the z-axis on his way into a dive, evasive.

[Harrier-307: Leyla] Condition two and running double CAPs is a sure way to force inter squadron cooperation. There are too many rotations and not enough squadron members for them to stay separate. But at least that has an upside, for Sweet Pea at least. Some creative manuevering, and a few choice words with Pony, and it's the Sweet Pea and Shortbus show 2.0. The pair are out for the rotation, and alert when the call comes for DRADIS contacts.

[TAC3] (from "Sweet Pea" Leyla) Shortbus says, "Flight, 307. Two incoming contacts, we're moving to provide cover for you."

[TAC3] "Toast" Cidra says, "Poppy, Toast. You have got one on your tail. Moving to cover."

[TAC3] "Queenie" McQueen adds some unbidden commentary. "Gods, more meat for the bloody grinder. It's like these dogs are devolving. If it wasn't so funny it'd be shameful, yeh?"

[TAC3] "Poppy" Khloe says, "Copy, Toast. I'm helping Bunny's six."

[Harrier-303: Trask] "I suppose there are worse things to have shoved into your body," is Trask contribution to the conversation. "How far do they jab those things anyway?" With the arrive of the unwanted guests, the answer will just have to wait. "Two so far, Buns. Prep for more, obviously."

[TAC3] "Bootstrap" Trask says, "Flight, Bootstrap. Anyone have visuals? Confirm any sign of triple-hash markings. Over."

[TAC3] "Sweet Pea" Leyla says, "Boots, I'll see if I can maneuver around to check them."

[BlackKnight-853: Khloe] Chasing Evan's six in an evasive pattern isn't enough to dodge the KEW fire coming in from the initial contact. She takes some light fire to her control jets, evidenced by the puffs of gas that eminate from them in a haphazard fashion.

[Harrier-307: Leyla] True to her word, Bertha, running full steam ahead, as her usual, swings away and out of the firing line, mostly, trying to get into position to get a good visual on the raiders. Of course, that might make things a little iffy for Shortbus, but the man didn't make LT based on his good looks alone…then again, he is pretty darned good looking.

[TAC3] "Sweet Pea" Leyla says, "Confirm on the raider Toast splashed. It's Hash marked."

[TAC3] "Poppy" Khloe says, "So much for blowing up foundries."

[BlackKnight-311: Cidra] That may well be Cidra's first kill. But she is on target as she circles around on the Raider dogging Khloe. Confirmation of the hash marks makes her bite off one of Old Gemenese phrases under her breath. Likely a curse, though there's no ECO around to hear her in the confines of the Viper.

[BlackKnight-1117: McQueen] As one of the Raiders erupts in a hail of cannon fire, the other eludes its pursuers for now. McQueen wastes no time in continuing his thus-far-unsuccessful attempts to dog the lead Cylon craft. Heavy on the cannon fire.

[TAC3] "Queenie" McQueen says, "Maybe they're not just comin' from the foundries, sir. Anyway it's not like they'll stop dying."

[BlackKnight-311: Cidra] Wherever these Raiders are coming from, these two have, thus far, come alone. There are no immediate other contacts, no immediate signs of other Cylons leaping in to Swarm upon them. Just those two Raiders, now down to one.

[TAC3] "Bootstrap" Trask says, "Copy, Sweet Pea. Flight, also be advised that DRADIS is picking up something. Not sure what. Can't get a fix on it in this soup, either. IFF is turning up nothin'. It /appears/ to have jumped into the area, though. ECOs and or Corsair: can you verify whether or not I'm seeing a ghost? Over."

[TAC3] "Sweet Pea" Leyla says, "Well, it isn't as if the foundry didn't produce raiders before we nuked it. These might well have been made before then, if they did come from there."

[TAC3] (from "Sweet Pea" Leyla) Shortbus chimes in, "I'm not doing any better than you are, Bootstrap. Think you can give them cover while Sweet Pea and I try to intercept that signal?"

[Harrier-303: Evandreus] Down to one, and it won't stop bothering Evan, evidently. But Evan's got so many tried and true evasive adjustments stored up on his good friend 303's computer that he keeps stringing together with a clatter of fingers over the keyboards and consoles, keeping mobile, unpredictable, while trying not to get split off too far from the other Raptor.

[TAC3] "Bootstrap" Trask says, "Already ahead of you on the sifting process, Shortbus, but if you really wanna do the honors, I'll keep our peeps covered, yeah."

[Harrier-307: Leyla] "While we what?" Leyla doesn't spare a second to glance back at the man sitting her backseat, "I knew I never liked you, Shortie." The brunette chuckles, "Yes, you do. You love me, admit it. It hasn't been the same since Flasher's been sleeping in my bed." But whatever seems to be going on conversationally, Sweet Pea backs her ECO's call, and the raptor pulls away from the main flight group, heading towards the whatever it is that they're seeing, but not seeing.

[TAC3] "Toast" Cidra says, "Boots, Toast. Copy. I am not seeing anything, but it is ever a haze in this system. Sweet Pea, Shortbus, get what you can. Cerberus, if you and the capital ships could lend your DRADIS to this, I would be most appreciative. I do not care for the feel of this."

[TAC3] "Sweet Pea" Leyla says, "Moving to intercept, spinning up our FTL, so watch out for the compression wave if you need to get close."

[TAC3] (from "Bootstrap" Trask) In typical Trask form, he wryly notes, "Watch out for more than compression waves, three-oh-seven. Could be a basestar, for all we know, or maybe more spooks. It's about high time we picked up another addition for the Fleet."

[TAC3] "Queenie" McQueen says, "Good call, Bootstrap. This bastard is more suicidal than usual. Feels like /something/ is up."

[TAC3] "Sweet Pea" Leyla says, "I've been trying to do that, if someone who shall remain nameless, but has the initials K and T would approve my trip to the junkyard. Hold on, we're getting close to the signal."

[TAC3] "Poppy" Khloe says, "This guy is tricky. Keep dodging, Bunny."

[BlackKnight-1117: McQueen] 'Suicidal' or no, Queenie utterly fails at speeding this bandit towards his next metal incarnation. Not that he stops trying.

[Harrier-307: Leyla] Harrier307 is moving high and tight, not evasive, but not in a straight line either, just trying to navigate the currents of interference from the system. Not that it helps. Or if it does, the answer's not good, as the picture comes in clearer. Big, big. Super big. And so not good. A basestar, sitting idle in the clouds of radiation.

[TAC3] (from "Bunny" Evandreus) "Poppy, Bunny, I hear you." It's a distracted acknowledgement of something that he was planning on doing anyhow. The only other option being one with less than optimal consequences.

[TAC3] "Bootstrap" Trask says, "Yeah, well, contrary to popular belief, I don't like being right pretty much all the frakkin' time, Queenie, so I most certainly hope I'm totally wrong about more unwanted company. And Travers," that being Kelly "KT" Travers, one of the recent rooks assigned to the Mighty Lions, "has no say in anything, Sweet Pea.""

[TAC3] (from "Sweet Pea" Leyla) Shortbus' voice comes over the comms, clear and precise, lacking any of the humour he offered his pilot. "I don't think we're going to be wanting to add this to the fleet. One basestar. It seems to be sitting idle. We've got no trace or sign of enemy fighters being launched. We're continuing our approach, see how far we can get and still stay out of sensor range.

[BlackKnight-311: Cidra] While the basestar Leyla and Shortbus have their eyes on is indeed sitting idle, there is more movement in the clouds as more Raiders jump into the fray, the flashes of their micro-jumps sparking around the Fleet. Dozens of them. The Swarm has come, if later and in stranger company than usual.

[TAC3] (from Hydra) (Corsair) "Flight, Corsair. Confirm. Whatever's out there is the size of a basestar, but the contacts we're picking up aren't coming from it. It's emitting…some kind of electromagnetic pulse. I can't get a fix on it in this mess."

[TAC3] "Poppy" Khloe says, "Sweetiepea, Poppy. Watching your rear. Shake your tree."

[TAC3] (from "Bootstrap" Trask) Trask's tone is a grousing, annoyed one. "Oh, for frak's sake." The man's eyes are rolling at his most recent bout of 'being correct about something'. In fact, to those even passingly familiar with the SL, the action would be audible in his voice. At what Corsair relays, though, it's a sharp 180. "Fleet, Bootstrap. Record everything you possibly can about the transmissions and pulses coming from that basestar. If it's not attacking, it might be another one of those frakkin' stealth basestars. In fact, I'm bankin' on it. I strongly advise getting Tactical on it to verify. Over."

[TAC3] "Sweet Pea" Leyla says, "We're doing the best we can over here, but you heard the man. getting everything we can on this thing."

[TAC3] "Toast" Cidra says, "Sweet Pea, Toast. Moving in to provide support fire with Poppy. I would be remiss if I did not properly protect my buses."

[Harrier-307: Leyla] Honestly, she really doesn't have a death wish. But isn't this precisely what raptors were made for? Space recon? So onward and upward, or so they say. Sweet Pea trying to fly clear of the raiders, Shortbus doing everything he can to get as much information on what the basestar is doing as he can.

[TAC3] (from "Queenie" McQueen) In a cheery tone of voice, McQueen transmits, "Some kind of shite Basestar if we're getting a mass reading, you think?" He pauses a beat. "Hey Baseship. If you can hear me, I said you suck."

[TAC3] "Sweet Pea" Leyla says, "I thank you, Bertha thanks you, Shortbus would thank you too, but he's about crawled inside the sensor suite."

[BlackKnight-1117: McQueen] As more targets appear, Queenie breaks off as one of them unfortunately takes a liking to his wingman. He changes course directly and deliberately to provide cover.

[Harrier-307: Leyla] Sweet Pea is all about evasive maneuvers, when she has to be. And at this point, she has to be. Bertha is spinning and dancing and leading the two raiders on a merry chase, all the while keeping herself in range of the basestar. It's more…"let me look at you', than 'lalala, here we are', but there it is.

[BlackKnight-853: Khloe] "That's my Sweetiepea," Khloe shouts as she barrels through her target; her efforts, combined with Cidra on her six, obliterates the poor Raider before he even knew what hit him.

[Harrier-303: Trask] It could be Audumbla's interference finally kicking in, or perhaps it's something having to do with the basestar's transmissions, but Trask suddenly finds 2 out of 3 suppression attempts failing. Needless to say, that pisses him off.

[BlackKnight-311: Cidra] Cidra does not barrel. Her flight style in a Viper is almost *too* controlled, as if she's devoting her time thinking through the text-book correct course of action rather than flying as instinctively as she does in a Viper. But she follows Khloe's lead and manages to lock her guns on target again, and the Raider goes bye-bye under their combined fire. One less for Leyla to worry about.

[TAC3] "Sweet Pea" Leyla says, "Flight, Sweet Pea, Shortie tells me this basestar is the same configuration as the basestar we encountered over Tauron. It's making no attempts to engage us, but if these raiders can communicate with it, and we have to assume they can, then they have to know we're here. They just seem to be scanning the entire area. The signal's powerful though. Almost as overpowering as this radiation."

[TAC3] "Bootstrap" Trask says, "Fleet, Bootstrap. If you can get a birds-eye view of the Raiders, see what you can record of their beady red eyes. Sweet Pea, any sign of hash marks on that basestar or the more recent arrivals? Over."

[BlackKnight-1117: McQueen] Gritting his teeth, McQueen chases, fires. Maybe it was the head wound or the waves of interference. Or maybe it is just a bad day. Everybody has them.

[Harrier-307: Leyla] Thankfully, there is no forward, or backwards in space. It's all relative, so Leyla can still flip end over end and try to get a good look at the raiders, at least the ones closest to her, she hopes, and still manage to continue evasive maneuvers. It's all a matter of working backwards.

[TAC3] "Poppy" Khloe says, "One down, one to go, Sweetiepea."

[Harrier-303: Evandreus] Now that there are no Raiders chasing after him, Evan levels his course and drifts north through the degrees of carom. Hearing Boots upset in the back, "I'll try to get us into a better position, Boots. That one raider drove us halfway across the world."

[TAC3] "Sweet Pea" Leyla says, "Raiders are marked, basestar does not have the hashes."

[BlackKnight-311: Cidra] The press of the Swarm from the Raiders that jumped into the area is, perhaps, less intense than it has been in the past. Though the basestar finally appears to want to make up for that, as it at last stops just sitting there and disgorges a new volley of Raiders into the fray.

[Harrier-307: Leyla] Three new raiders launching, which means three new raiders heading right for her, since Bertha is closer to the basestar than any of the combat planes in the air. And the news is not good. And the news, coming down from the pair inside is not good. Not good at all. There might even be a friendly fire incident.

[TAC3] "Sweet Pea" Leyla says, "Flight, three new raider contacts. And these are coming from the basestar out there. And here's the kicker, I know you've been waiting. They're all three hash marked. Looks like this might be where those foundry ships were going."

[TAC3] "Poppy" Khloe says, "Seems these new Raiders have an issue with my kill tally. Could use some assistance, Toast."

[BlackKnight-1117: McQueen] As Wilkerson and McQueens' engines cut bright blue swathes through space, their Vipers flash a bright red/orange as their guns light up and flicker, almost immediately followed by the inevitable bloom of orange and red and chrome as that Raider they've been chasing for so long erupts into pieces. Patience has been rewarded.

[TAC3] "Queenie" McQueen says, "Poppy, Queenie. We copy that, boss. Looks like our new friends are…Oh, never bloody mind. Engaging Eta.""

[TAC3] "Toast" Cidra says, "Poppy, Toast. We have picked up some new friends. Covering yours. I shall try to dance."

[TAC3] "Queenie" McQueen apparently can't resist adding, "Guess we'll be needing to blow up more than just /foundries/, yeh?"

[TAC3] "Bootstrap" Trask says, "Copy that, Sweet Pea. Anyone else startin' to get the feeling that this is the same frakker we encountered at Tauron?" There is a decided pause, followed by a very annoyed, "Oh, for frak's sake… It's emitting pulses like the last frakking time. Who wants in on the betting pool as to when we'll encounter some haywire Raider that leads us to another foundry?"

[Harrier-303: Trask] It goes without saying that the ECO-turned-SL records everything and anything he can.

[TAC3] "Poppy" Khloe says, "I frakking hope not. This is getting old."

[TAC3] "Bootstrap" Trask says, "I want eyes on those frakkin' Raider eyes. Record what you can, people. I wanna see how they react to what's goin' on. Gettin' the impression that the light show isn't just for show."

[TAC3] "Sweet Pea" Leyla says, "Less talking more working, got it."

[TAC3] "Poppy" Khloe says, "You all right, Toast? Looks like he took some off your beak."

[Harrier-307: Leyla] Sweet Pea and Shortbus are still evading, still recording, Bertha angled to try to get a good look at the raiders incoming. The raiders, however, this time, don't seem to be much interested in the raptor trying to look up under the basestar's skirts as it were, and they're given a pass.

[BlackKnight-311: Cidra] Cidra does indeed take one hard on the nose, her Viper going spinning at a dizzying angle that is not of her own making. With some obviously struggling scrambling, and some luck, she manages to get the ship righted.

[TAC3] "Sweet Pea" Leyla says, "I don't know what you are looking for exactly, but I don't see any sort of change on my visual scan, Boots. Shortie's giving it all he's got though, maybe he'll bring back the goods. For once."

[TAC3] (from "Sweet Pea" Leyla) Shortbus: "I heard that."

[Harrier-303: Trask] "I swear," Kal quips to Evan, "you should write some story or epic poem for Kalli about these frakkers. Like, some cross between 'The Three Little Pigs' and the 'Odyssey'."

[TAC3] (from "Sweet Pea" Leyla) Shortbus, "Flight, they're spooling up their FTL, looks like they're planning a jump out."

[TAC3] "Toast" Cidra says, "Flight, Toast. Get clear of that monstrosity's FTL wake."

[TAC3] "Queenie" McQueen crackles through the interference. "Look on the bright side, Poppy, it demonstrates a shocking lack of originality and imagination which means they're more easily beat — OHOOOO!!!! SPLASH ONE. Grunt, move in on me an' cover. I think I made them mad." He pauses. "Scratch that. Cover Toast. I can handle this."

[TAC3] (from "Bootstrap" Trask) Just what IS it that Bootstrap is wanting to find? "That's what debriefings are for, Sweet Pea." Which means no answer is to be immediately forthcoming.

[TAC3] "Toast" Cidra says, "Poppy, Toast. That hit threw off my equilibrium. Compensating. You professional Viper jocks make this look simple."

[TAC3] "Poppy" Khloe says, "Pull it back, people. Clean up Queenie's wake and let's pull back to outside the flak."

[BlackKnight-1117: McQueen] Cutting a sharp turn, McQueen's Viper spins as he moves to intercept one of Poppy's pursuers as requested and gets a little sloppy and liberal with the cannon fire. Good thing he's not paying by the round. The Raider he lights up paid for them, though. Unfortunately he draws a lingering pursuer. Speaking of paying…

[Harrier-307: Leyla] "Quit looking at me like that." Sweet Pea's tart commentary, as she spins Bertha back around, giving the girl all the gas she can, as they rabbit there way back towards the fleet. She's not getting her ship cut in half, or squished or crumpled or anything else, thank you very much. Three cheers for omni-directional sensor suites and cameras.

[BlackKnight-853: Khloe] Looping around at full speed, Khloe's Viper 853 speeds in the direction of the last Raider to harass the flight in this quadrant of the skirmish. Zipping up behind Queenie's six, she lays into the last bogie, her Viper still suffering from control problems.

[BlackKnight-311: Cidra] The sheer size of the basestar means it takes a not-inconsequential amount of time to spin up its drives, so the Colonials can scramble out of its wake before it's…gone! In a bright flash of hyperlight as it skips away. Some of the Raiders linger, making a last dash at the human fighters, but as the basestar disappar, smaller flashes of Raider jumps follow it out. Retreating again. Or perhaps they got what they came for.

[TAC3] Hydra says, "Flight, Cerberus. DRADIS is clear here. All contacts are showing to have bugged out, as has that behemoth they brought with them this time. You're clear to RTB. All birds back home for now. We're moving from this position. We have to consider our location compromised."

[Harrier-307: Leyla] Bertha and her human denizens manage to make it back to the fleet, all in one piece and all, recording up to the point just after the basestar and the last of its raiders jump away. Everything's cycled through, saved, stored.

[TAC3] "Sweet Pea" Leyla says, "We're alright, heading back in to dump this data. Cerberus, can you launch a replacement raptor for us?"

[TAC3] "Poppy" Khloe says, "Black Knights, back to the barn. We hold the field, again. Debriefing in fifteen minutes after touchdown."

[BlackKnight-1117: McQueen] As the proverbial smoke clears, Queenie shifts his bird back into formation with Wilkerson, giving a jaunty little wave towards the other pilot which may or may not be visible. That said, he proceeds back to the barn as ordered. A lot more cleanly than last time.

[TAC3] "Toast" Cidra says, "Cerberus, copy. Flight, RTB. Let us not linger here."

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