PHD #074: EVENT - Eye to the Ground
Eye to the Ground
Summary: Cidra and Marko venture out to try and find what's become of the Leonis away group. They get more than they hoped for - good and bad. Cameo via wireless by Kulko.
Date: 11 May 2041 AE
Related Logs: Overdue; Ain't Time To Pay the Ferryman Yet; Hunt and Gather
Cidra Marko Kulko 
Raptor Interior
Post-Holocaust Day: #74

Space is pretty cold and dark when you get right down to it. There's a lot of stars but when they just don't bare any resemblence to the constellations one is used to seeing around the Colonies, it might seem a little more foreboding. Especially knowing you are about to jump into the most heavily defended den of Cylons that Intel has identified. To try and make contact with a team that might already be dead. The Battlestar Cerberus and her two escorts drift into the distance from the Raptor as it makes distance between itself and the battlegroup.

[TAC3] "CerbTac" Tillman says, "Checkmate Six-Five, Cerberus. You are cleared for jump. Good luck and Godsspeed, Six-Five."

"Okay, Toast, my board is green. ECM suite is good, FTL is good, Inertial Nav is good. Jump co-ordinates loaded into the computer, just waiting on your say so to turn the magic key." Marko reports, tightening his shoulder straps a little.

[TAC3] "Toast" Cidra says, "Cerberus, Six-Five. Acknowledged. We are spooled, coordinates in and ready to be off. We shall see what we can see."

Cidra is plugged into the cockpit. A hairy sort of outing for the CAG to be out on herself, really. Particularly given the Admiral's directive of no department heads on the initial voyage down to Leonis. But with some of the more experienced Raptor pilots down there, she's up. Besides, who else was she going to send on a search for what's looking more and more like a suicide mission? "Got you, Flasher. We are off." And…flash. They jump. Off the battlestar's big board and into the lion's den.

Vision flashes and suddenly the pair inside the Raptor's cabin are faced and bathed with dazzling sunlight. White, puffy clouds reflect the rays of the sun and highlight the edges as they sweep across a bright blue sky. The sun is arcing towards a set in the late afternoon. Lush, green forests apread out in front of them, the whole landscape looking nearly untouched from a few thousand feet above the ground. Out ahead, Anadyomene stretches. Its long, grey runway has been blasted at one end - the remains scorched black. However, most of the buildings appear to be standing from this distance. The hulking shape of the Eidolon can be made out on the runway. Tough to make out any other details from here.

Marko releases a breath he didn't realize he was holding as the Raptor breaks out into clear and calm air . "Oh Lords, that's a pleasant surprise." he comments, turning to focus his attention of his DRADIS console. The powerful sensor unit has been set to passive, essentially listening to the surrounding air space with huge, super-efficient electronic ears. She doesn't have to radiate one watt of power. "Okay, Toast, I'm gonna bring the cameras on-line now." he calls, touching a key to swtich on the ship's powerful video recorders.

"I am going to take us in a little lower," Cidra says as the sight of the air base comes into view. "Got you, Flasher. Do it. And watch your DRADIS. Keep it passive for now. I do hope we can slip in under their noses." The Raptor descends, closer but not too close, to Leonis as they continue on course. The woman's eyes pass over the landscape as it can be seen out the viewport. She takes it in with a somber expression, but she says nothing for it. "At least we know they were able to land. That is something."

"Copy that, Toast. We're quiet as a Temple mouse." Marko replies, running his eyes along the bands displayed by his passive scanning gear.

Moving closer, the scene at Anadyomene is looking a little more dire. The Eidolon has been hit. Heavily. There's a set of scorch marks in one of the engine nacelles and the starboard cargo bay has been blasted open. There's the sign of a serious fire. Just aft of the ship are the remains of what used to be a Raptor, the whole ship completely cooked and exploded into small pieces - only the twin tails identifying what it used to be. On the grass near the runway is another wreckage of Raptor. Its tumbled and crashed, the whole thing looking like it burned itself to a crisp after leaving a trail of destruction in its wake. The wreckage of a Mark II Viper is wedged up near the nose of the Eidolon, the shot-up remains looking to have crash-landed and skidded to a stop. There are bunker doors about fifty meters from the Eidolon, the paved taxiway leading inside to an underground hangar. However, the massive concrete and steel doors appear to have been blasted apart. Chunks of concrete dot the grass around the taxiway as if it was cleared. There's no sign of life at all.

<FS3> Marko rolls Technical: Success.

As they come near enough to get a good look at the wreckage, Cidra intakes a breath sharply. Hands tightening over her Raptor controls. "Wise Athena, grant us clear eyes and sharp ears…and gods send we are not too late…" It is murmured under her breath. Devout as she is off-duty, she generally avoids speaking such words in the cockpit. Well, she'll pray now.

"She might be listening…." Marko comments, pursing his lips a little as he swivels the camera onto one of the Raptors. "Toast, the Raptor to the left, on the grass by the runway. It looks like her canopy glass is gone and her ejection seats were fired." he says, sending the image to the screen up in the cockpit. "Looks like all craft are strikes, especially the freighter." he sighs. "But whoever it was in that Raptor was alive when they pulled the face curtain." he adds, starting to look around the surrounding area for signs of seats or parachutes.

<FS3> Cidra rolls Alertness: Good Success.

Drifting in lower, more things become apparent. The ejection seats appear around the side of the Eidolon as they drift through the air in a near-hover. The parachutes attached to them are draped across various parts of exploded wreckage and appear intact - a good sign. Looking over towards the bunker entrance, there's further signs of what happened here. The buildings, cars, and even the runway show signs of a massive firefight. Bullet holes pock-mark everything, especially around the bunker doors. Expended brass from colonial rifles skitters across the pavement, blown freely by the exhaust of the Raptor.

"Somebody made it out of there, at the very least. And no sign of bodies…" It is muttered grimly by Cidra, but it's good news in its way. Her eyes sharpen. She does not dare go much lower. They're skirting the treetops as it is. But she veers a little. "I see something on the ground, by the treeline. It is…a grave marker." Tone hushed. A mixture of sadness and, in a strange way, hope. "Somebody was left to bury the dead…and they had time to do it…"

"DRADIS contact! Bearing approximately two one four, long range, too far away to get a firm lock. Somebody's just lit up a set and they are scanning." Marko calls.

Cidra hisses low. "Keep us passive, Flasher. They may not have made us yet. There was one more Raptor. The one to be bound for Kythera… but if it had gotten off someone *should* have made the rendezvou point…" At this point Cidra's just speculating more to herself than to Marko. "Hang on. I am going to take us a *little* lower. I shall try not to kiss the trees. Can you see any sign of movement? Tracks, anything?"

<FS3> Marko rolls Technical: Success.

"Oh believe you me, Toast, no way I'm firing up this DRADIS console unless the Toasters are actively trying to peel through the hull." Marko replies firmly, giving his passive gear a little tweak to try and lock in on that scanner. "Wait one, going to try something." he adds, tapping a command into the camera's control gear to switch to a higher resolution and adding a little blue filter into the mix. "Okay, got definite tracks, they're by the ATV's by that bush. Wait..okay…got a bandage stuck to the bush…Several ATVs are missing, if I'm judging the amount of soil that's been churned up correctly."

"Why would a Cylon go riding with our people on an ATV?" It's something of a rhetorical question. Cidra asks with a grin. "Some of them got out. Flasher, give me a bearing. I am going to follow those tracks." Raptor angles a little higher now as she adjusts her course. Just a little, but she really does *not* want to make face time with a tree.

"Bearing one five three." Marko calls. "Wonder where the ATV's came from?" he muses, turning back to his DRADIS console to check on that sensor that's out there stabbing around. It would be very embarrassing to get so busy trying to track ground sign to notice the detection beam that paints you.

"The base perhaps? They certainly were not standard equipment for the mission," Cidra says as she slips on course to follow the trail. Or what of it they can see. "And between the Raiders and tireless Centurions, I cannot see how something like that would be of much use to the toasters. Now that she's got her bearing, Marko can concentrate on watching for unwanted signals. She'll muddle along.

Marko is quiet for a few moments as he continually tweaks the passive gear until he gets a positive lock on the detection beam. "Hello, Big Bird." he says, smiling nastily. "Toast, got a lock on that detection beam. There's a Big Bird set approximately five hundred twenty miles from here on the bearing I gave you previously. Classify what we're getting as atmospheric bounce, computer concurs." he explains. "Looks like she's tasked for low-orbit detection."

The path is rudimentry and doesn't look standard. In fact, its pretty damned hard to follow through the growth of the evergreens in the forest. Though off to the side a small clearing opens up. Its almost pretty, the green grass growing to about waist-high. But moving closer, there is something a little less pretty about the whole knoll. There's a heavy raider parked there. Centurians are standing around, slowly stripping the transport of something - possibly weapons. But as the Raptor appears overhead, their heads turn in unison and those red-lit sensors stop scanning back and forth and all focus up at the Raptor. Uh oh.

Uh oh, indeed. "Flasher, taking us up!" The warning does not come much before Cidra jerks the stick high. Trying to put some more altitude between them and those Centurions. Out of shooting distance, at least. It's a quick and sharp break from her standard steady flight path. Hope everyone is buckled up.

"Ah frak me!" Marko growls as his camera display clearly shows the Centurion's eye scanners looking right up into the lens. "Up would be good, yes." he nods repeatedly.

The Centurians flips their mechanical arms into guns but don't fire, slowly tracking the ship as it climbs altitude. But the machines start to scramble, a few of them dashing back inside the Heavy Raider as the Raptor moves off.

Cidra's ship eventually levels once she's gotten a little distance from the Centurions. She's not out right away. "Flasher, get the engines spooled but hold jump until my mark. We are detected now. Radio silence is rather moot. Going to try and see if anyone's listening."

[TAC3] "Toast" Cidra says, "Eidolon Bravo, Toast. Do you copy? Repeat. Does anyone copy down there?"

"Copy that, inputting co-ordinates." Marko replies, hastily tapping the aforementioned number string into the Raptor's FTL computer. "Toast, that Big Bird site just disappeared." he notes ominously. "I think the Toasters down there might be talking to somebody."

[TAC3] Kulko says, "Toast, Eidolon Bravo. Godsdamn it's good to hear your voice, Major."

Its going to take a few minutes for the FTL to spool. Meanwhile, the serenity of the forest below spreads out for miles into the distance. Through the distant haze, the forst fades into what is probably Kythera, the greenery traded for a grey and brown stretch that disappears into the haze.

[TAC3] "Toast" Cidra says, "Thank all gods!" That would genuine, unrestrained emotion from Cidra. Take a recording. You won't hear it often. She's happy everyone is not dead. "Status? Make it quick? I have got a Heavy on my tail and fear we cannot linger to retrieve."

"Gods be praised." Marko breathes as Kulko's voice squelches through his headphones. For his part, his eyes are glued to that DRADIS console when they're not flicking over to see if the FTL is spooled. "Okay, Toasters…where are you?"

[TAC3] Kulko takes a moment to collect his thoughts and condense them accordingly. "Eidolon's a total loss, sir. Came under attack shortly after landing. Major Barto was KIA during the attack, and Captain Quinn's hurt fair bad. We've taken up on foot, supplies runnin' low. No word from Alpha."

"So say we all," Cidra breathes at Marko's 'Gods be praised.' Not that she wastes much time celebrating. The team's still down there, and have to be left so. And they also have to survive this.

[TAC3] "Toast" Cidra says, "Copy Bravo. Keep your heads down. We saw your path from the base. We shall meet you at the end of it." Oblique, but she's reluctant to say too much over the comm. And she hasn't much time. "We shall come for you.""

[TAC3] Kulko says, "Aye, sir. We owe you one… more'n one. See you on the other side." A pause. "Tell Tillman the Vipers are fueled and ready to go - if he can make it work."

"DRADIS contact, close aboard! Got three active Forge systems at 1 o'clock off the nose, another at three and another at seven." he reports. "Ah frak! First Forge system's got a lock! Repeat, Forge system at 1 o'clock has us locked right the frak up. Toast, time to do some of that pilot shit."

They aren't far off when they first appear. Maybe a couple miles. Possibly three or four? It looks like little popcorn kernels pop up from what might be a forest road - except that they are glowing. And getting bigger. Rapidly getting bigger. And there's a LOT of them. Its only a few seconds before they reach the slow moving Raptor and flash past the cockpit. Tracers. There's a gun down there. Possibly more. Then there's a flash from the same location, one that wasn't there before. Then more AAA begins arcing into the sky, accompanied by what looks like a fast-moving toothpick and a trail of smoke. SAM!

[TAC3] "Toast" Cidra says, "Copy, Bravo. We have got to bug out. Shield of Athena protect you all. Toast out."

Cidra spends 1 luck points on Raptor Foo!.
<FS3> Cidra rolls Raptors: Good Success.

<FS3> Tillman rolls 6: Good Success.

It's not particularly comfortable flying. Cidra is usually a pilot who's all about making it look simple and clean. This, however, isn't simple. The anti-aircraft fire from the Cylons below *would* have ripped clean through their bird. But, as she zags and veers and banks in dizzying evasive maneuvers, they manage to avoid it without a scratch. Higher and higher she climbs. Getting them into near-atmo again. "Flasher, we ready to jump?"

"Fifteen seconds." Marko reports, wincing as Toast's evasive maneuvers toss his supper around inside his guts. "Why in the hell can't they make these seats face forwards?" he grumbles, eyes locked on the DRADIS console. "Frak! Two more SAMs in the air…shit, make that four…" he calls. "Want me to go active on the jammers?"

"Might as well, Flasher, we are certainly not making a quiet exit," Cidra says. For her part, her eyes are hard-forward. Up, up, up. Tight turn. Sudden swerve. It is, indeed, a rather stomach-churning flight out.

Marko spends 1 luck points on ECM foo!.
<FS3> Marko rolls ECM: Success.

"Copy that, going hot." Marko calls, switching the ECM generators on and pointing their cone of influence towards the missiles on their six. "Ha-ha! Two SAM's just blew up, jamming successful and our FTL is spooled and ready. Toast, time to put us on the roof!"

The Raptor passes the Mach, a white pressure cone enveloping it quickly. The sonic boom can be heard on the ground as the distant, automatic gunfire ceases. The missile trails reach out for it like arcing fingers, the pilot pushing the Raptor to its absolute limits of capability. The closest missile of four distinct trails approaches with terrifying speed and the Raptor ducks through a gut-crushing bank and the missile dives underneath, exploding just fore of the cockpit. The aircraft blasts through the black cloud left in the wake with the other three missiles trailing. Two of them explode suddenly, far in the wake of the evacuating ship.

The speed at which they exited makes the sudden hyperlight skip of the jump engines even more disorienting than usual. But they do get out of there. In the wake of exploding missiles, but they get out. Winking home toward the Cerberus. Cidra is breathing hard from the pilot's seat. Well. That was invigorating.

"Oh…man…..heh….I'm awake." Marko calls, shaking his head a little to clear it. "Jump complete….And we are….exactly where we're supposed to be." he reports. "Securing ECM."

Cidra turns one of those breaths into a long sigh of relief. "We still have people alive down on Leonis…" Much as she might have wanted to believe that, she was less-than-sure. "Excellent, Flasher. Let us get back to the battlestar." And so they do.

"Yeah…..they're alive." Marko breathes in reply, nodding and pressing the index finger of his right hand to the DRADIS screen. "Lords, try and keep them that way until we can get a plan in action to get them back." he whispers, voice barely audible over the comm. Yes, this is personal.

"So say we all," Cidra murmurs, soft but with feeling, as she takes them home.

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