PHD #213: EVENT - Fly Away Home, Part 1
EVENT - Fly Away Home, Part 1
Summary: An act of duplicity leads a raptor team to signs of hope for the civilians aboard the Cerberus.
Date: 27 Sep 2041 AE
Related Logs: All logs related to finding a civilian ship or expanding the hydroponics for the fleet, particularly, Hydroplanning.
Bannik Damon Leyla Marko 
Kinlochard Village, Northern Continent, Aerilon
It's farmland, in the winter, and it's raining. Again.
Post-Holocaust Day: #213

It's coming up on fall, along most of the northern continent of Aerilon. But here, it seems winter comes sooner, rather than later. There's a cold, almost freezing mist sheeting over the windscreen of the raptor piloted by Sweet Pea, threatening to turn to flurries in the altitude at which she's flying. Proof positive that in the world of the erstwhile team of Sweet Pea and Flasher, it can indeed rain all the time. This time, however, she's not flying through the wasteland and wreckage of what major cities and starports Aerilon has to offer. On the advice of Specialist Tyr Bannik, the raptor team are on their way to one of the outlying villages, in the hopes of finding the ship that will be the salvation of the civilians. Or at least an end to the headaches for the crew that has to maintain and feed and police them in the starboard hangar. "Flasher, how're we looking on the scans?"

Bannik is at the front of the Raptor, looking over the shoulder of the Sweet Pea pilot. And for once, he's allowed to do it rather than just being a nosy busybody. Although he's that, too. The area they're headed for in the northern continent is Bannik's old home town — Kinlochard Village. He claimed there might be an old freighter there that they could salvage. To be honest? He has no idea what's there. There weren't any freighters there when he enlisted. But any lie that can get him back home. Any lie —

"We'll be coming up on the town square soon," calls out the Specialist over the roar of the engines in atmo. "It's not much! Just a couple of buildings. But the freighter's likely to be out over to the west, towards the bigger grain farms!"

In the back corner of the Raptor, looking out a side window and being unobtrusive (and far more pensive than usual for his loudly jovial self) sits Damon. Occasionally, he squints at something off in the distance, trying to see through the freezing mist that comes and goes. "Do you know a Colchis University, Bannik?" he asks the Specialist, seemingly out of the blue. "I heard that's on Aerilon." What does that have anything to do with what they're doing now? Lords only know. He's been mostly quiet the whole ride so far except to pipe up with technical information about ships when it's required.

"I'm not picking up on any readings big enough to be a ship," is Flasher's reply, but following Bannik's lead, Leyla adjusts the flight course to take her in the direction the specialist indicates, "You know that seat is empty, right?" She doesn't tip her head, but there are two seats at the nose of the raptor. And she's only using one. So far no joy on the scans, but there isn't any on the visuals either. Kinlochard Village looks as though it survived the Cylon attacks fairly well. Whatever did the damage to the town looks much more mundane. Much more…human. What few buildings made up the town center have been damaged by fire and appear obviously looted. Whatever was of value here was taken long ago. Whatever, whomever once lived here, has long since departed, but whether to death or to areas unknown isn't clear. Damon's question goes without an answer from the pilot, as it wasn't directed to her. And her knowledge of Aerilon is academic at best.

"Well. Yeah. But what if — I don't know. Flasher needs to come up here or something." It's a lame excuse, really. Perhaps Bannik just needs to pace and stand to take what's happening. He's actually going home. His eyes sweep the ground, as if trying to pick up some sign of life down there. "Any signs of people?" he asks, anxiously. "Anyone? Down there?" His eyes flash behind his glasses. And then he's distracted. "Colchis U? Sure. It's one of the only institutions of higher education on the planet. Mostly agri-science majors and stuff. Why?" But he doesn't sound like he cares much. He's too fixated on the front of the Raptor.

"Oh, someone just mentioned it in passing the other day," Damon answers, glancing up to the front. Bannik's antics earn a small smile from him. "That they went there, I mean. I was just wondering if that was close to here." That mysterious person is, of course, Rose Ibbhanas. But he doesn't admit that aloud. "Doesn't look like it was too damaged in the attack," he notes, looking down from his vantage point as best he can. "Even if there aren't people down there right now, Bannik, maybe it means they grouped together and went someplace safer. Can you take us down any closer, Leyla?" Damon asks the pilot. "I know the scanners are going, but I can't get a very good visual." Plus, Bannik might want a closer look at his hometown.

"Trust me, the only time Flasher's going to be up in this seat, is if he needs to eject from the ship, which means he's already ejected me first, or I've ejected myself, which means all of you are out of luck with no pilot and no ECO and a huge hole in the ship where the front window used to be. That being said, I'm fairly certain you can take the seat." But she offer is all it is, she doesn't offer him an order, simply begins a circular sweep of the area, working her way outward from the town center towards the outskirts. "Of course, Chief." And Leyla settles the raptor in lower, perhaps only a handful of feet above the top of the tallest buildings, low enough that the exhaust from the ship disturbs the water pooling on the flat portions of the roofs, slewing it off to the barren ground. It's no prettier or more hopeful upon closer inspection.

"What about to the west?" Bannik asks. "I think there might be something off to the west, right? It's where those other scans came from." But his voice is letting a little more and more on edge with every passing sweep, his eyes affixed right to the ground. Someone be there. Someone be there. By the way, Bannik's family's farm is off to the west. Surprise!

Damon stands up, all but pressing his face against the window to get the best look he can down to the village. Nothing, nothing, and more nothing. His lip twitches when Bannik suggests heading westward, and he looks like he's about to say something - but he stops himself. Deep thought is evident on his visage as he struggles with something internally, chewing his lips and taking a deep breath. "You think we might find a usable ship out there?" he asks the Aerilonian.

Out to the west they go, though rather than take a straight line, Leyla changes the circular search grid for a square one, getting the maximum coverage of the ground that she can. There is one feature, whether new or otherwise, that would be visible to the two men as the ship vectors out to the west. A large-ish mound, noticeable for its lack of vegetal cover, as much as it's location close to the town. If it were smaller, one might almost think it a burial mound. But it's much too large for that, isn't it? Westward they go, "Still nothing on the scans," is Flasher's offering.

"Huh? Yeah. Sure. Of course. I mean, I can't guarantee anything, but this would be the area, Damon. Just — need to keep our eyes peeled." Bannik's voice is getting shaky as they move off to the west. Perhaps it's fear. Perhaps it's anticipation. Perhaps — who knows what it is. Maybe it's the fear of his lie unraveling around him. He points out the window. "Hey! Sweet Pea. Can you cut your engines a little bit? I think I see something down there." Really? It's just a little farmhouse and a ramshackle barn with the doors off their hinges and on the ground. And some acres of fields stretching out, the wheat gone if there ever was some there.

Damon is still chewing alternately on his lip and the inside of his cheek as they wheel about to the west. A big mound… some more farmland… Sigh. He rubs at his eyes, trying to get himself focused back to the task at hand. It's hard to concentrate when damn near nothing's turning up. When Damon starts getting excited about something on the ground, he peers out once more to see… more farmland. "The frak you see down there?" he asks Bannik, his voice probably a bit more edged than he means for it to be. "You see anything down there, El-Tee?"

Leyla cuts the engines as instructed, moving away from some of the rain cover, visibility clearing a bit as she heads in the direction Bannik points out, nearly skimming the tops of what remain of the trees at this point. Any closer to the ground and she'll be plowing the fields with her skids. "Farmland gone to seed and what used to be a shack or a farmhouse, a barn, that's about it, looks like the remains of some outbuildings over there to the northwest." Leyla and her blunt-stick, hard at work. She leaves it to Flasher to give any sort of positive update, because she's got nothing.

Marko would just love to be able to give such an update, but, alas, he's got nothing on his scopes that Leyla can't see with the trusty ol' Mk 1 Eyeball. "Well, Sweet Pea, this trip's turning out to be a real raging success story." he comments, stretching and yawning in his seat.

There are some moments of silence as Bannik scans the area outside the window. He even steps forward and into that co-pilot's seat to get a better look. Finally: "Nothing. I don't see anything." Some more moments of silence. "That's my house right there. My farm." It's said with the finality of a death sentence. And he lets it hang, taking a dejected step back.

Oh. Shit. That's the look on Damon's face when Bannik reveals the empty farm below them to be his family's. As the Specialist takes a step back, the PO bridges the distance between them and lays a hand on his shoulder. "I'm sorry, Bannik," he says quietly. "But don't take what you see to be any sign of finality, yeah? Like I said, they might've left the area with others and be hiding out somewhere safe." The hand is disengaged after a quick reassuring squeeze, and he makes his way over to Marko. "You got anything so far that might look like a potential ship, even a dead one?"

"This is a bad place to fly, Flasher." That's all Leyla's going to say, and all, perhaps, she needs to say. And the edge in her voice isn't sympathy for the Specialist, at all. The ECO knows full well what Leyla's feelings are on reconning your old haunts. Which is why she's never done it, and has never requested to do it. But she continues, flying up and away from farmhouse to return to the search. Common sense dictates that she wait until they get back on the ship to chew the man out.

He feels for the Specialist, he really does. But after so many of these recco hops, Marko's gotten kind of used to the sight of so much devastation. "If she's out there, Damon, she's below our sensor horizon." Marko replies, shrugging helplessly. "Fuel state's good for at least another four hours, Sweet Pea." he reports needlessly, just to have something to say.

Bannik nods once towards Damon. "Yeah. Absolutely. Just got to keep folks in my prayers and trust in Them up there." Bannik glances up at the ceiling, apparently referencing the gods. "But yeah. Freighter. Uhm. There's another town over to the west we can try. It had some bigger yields in the past, might have had the cash to invest in such a thing."

Damon gives Bannik a single nod in response and sits back down in the back corner as he was before. Retracting into his silence. There's too much going through his head right now, it seems - whatever was occupying him before, and now the situation with Bannik more or less commandeering the ship to scope out his home for survivors when they're supposed to be searching for a ship. His face becomes a stoney mask as he stare out to the eerily uninhabited fields of Aerilon.

Leyla, however, apparently doesn't feel for the specialist, who's seeming brought her raptor and herself, not to mention Flasher and the rest of the recon team out on a wild goose chase. But, at least she's being good enough to stick to the job, to following Bannik's lead and Flasher's word, as she pilots away from the remnants of Bannik's life, with not even a wiggle of Bertha's fat bottom in farewell. Onward to the west they go, Leyla rising up once again to give Mark the maximum search radius for his scans.

"Sweet Pea, recommend we switch to active scans." Marko calls, frowning at his display. "Not long, just about four sweeps." he adds. Going active on one of these, even with no Cylons around, can be kind of hazardous to your health, but he figures it's the best option.

Bannik lets the searchers do their work now, settling back as they start to move and scan. He tries to keep his eyes forward outside the window, but he seems somewhat detached, somewhat distant now. It's easy to figure where his mind must be.

"Whatever will help us find a ship," Damon says when Marko suggests the active sweeps, even though he's not the one who's addressed. "We need to find a ship on this run." Yes, specifically on this run. Because it's not going to look any kind of good at all if they RTB empty-handed after Bannik's stunt. At least if they find a ship, they'll have something to show for it all.

"I trust you, Flasher." Which is just about the highest level of praise and belief in another person Leyla will ever utter. "Switch when you're ready." Leyla does spare a glance towards the specialist now, finally, settled into the seat beside her, "Mourn the lost and the dead later, Specialist. Right now we have upwards of four hundred people looking for a home up there. And our job is to find them one." But Leyla does adjust her flight pattern, coming back in close to the ground, nearly skimming, in the hopes that anything scanning for them, might mistake them for ground cover.

"Copy that, Sweet Pea. Going, now, now!" Marko calls, and flips on the Raptor's powerful active sensor pods. Four three sixty degree sweeps later, he shuts them down and starts sifting through the data as the computer spits it out on his screen. "Okay, got a strong candidate signal bearing…one five zero carom two." he reports. "High concentration of high-carbon steel, we've got titanium, molybdenum, tungsten….Sounds like hull plating to me."

"Yeah. Yeah. That's definitely hull plating." Something clicks for Bannik. He turns over at Damon. "Right? Mech?" That is the sort of thing that he usually handles. "If we swoop on by there, we would be able to dig and see if that's it." He looks around the others, trying to mean it this time.

Damon's lip twitches when Leyla reprimands Bannik. He might not be an officer, but the Deck crew is his charge to discipline and control - at least while he's the interim Chief. Granted, he hasn't been doing much of that unpopular part of his duties, which is probably why deckhands keep getting harped on by others right in front of him. "Sounds like it," he replies to Bannik. "The remaining question being, will it be a useless piece of shit like all the ones we've seen so far in the starports?" From the tone of his voice, he doesn't have his hopes too high.

Leyla's still flying at crop duster levels, as Marko activates the scans, even her DRADIS console perking up, seemingly, at actually being able to report, well, actually no, it's just a slight gain in the level of illumination of the screen. But damn if it's not like the big bird's happy to have all her parts running. But the sound of something approaching useful definitely perks the pilot up, and rather than continue the sweeping flight pattern she was on, she adjusts to head directly towards the indicated coordinates.

"Okay, now this is potentially useful." Marko calls out, chewing his bottom lip unconsciously. "Got a slight elevation in background rad levels on those bearings." he reports. "It's not much, maybe two, three Rads, but, in theory, it could be a hot or semi-hot reactor core."

"Could be good. Could be dangerous. I mean, if it's unstable, we're just risking it. But it's also our best bet right now." Bannik is trying to think this through, his voice somewhere between hesitant and a quaver. "Just need to hope it's not going to blow."

"Even if it is about to blow, I'd take that as a good sign," Damon says, standing up from his seat to move himself up front beside Leyla. He wants to get a good look when they come up on this supposed ship. "That means it's got more life and power than any of the other ships we've seen so far. So even if this one won't work for us, we might be able to find one that will out here somewhere."

Leyla continues on, picking up the speed of the raptor. Not enough to be reckless, but at least enough to get them there as quickly as possible. The sooner they get back to the ship post active scan, the happier she'll be. And it's almost, one might say…cinematic, as she pulls out, finally, out of the cloudcover, and into a dusky, but rainfree afternoon, to the sight of the tail end of what looks to be the outer hull of a very big ship, only slightly dug into the ground by wind, weather and the passage of time.

"Oh yeah, baby. Jack..pot!" Marko grins, focusing on the data his passive sniffers are picking up. "Lady and gentleman, say hello to one live freighter. Looks like she's in pretty damn good shape, too." he adds. "I'd have to go active for a full structural analysis, and the dirt she's stuck in's fuzzing some of my passive gear, but that is definitely a solid space frame."

"Oh, thank gods." Maybe it's a sign. Maybe it's not. But maybe Bannik won't get shot by a firing squad after all. He lets out a heavy sigh: "How about we get down there and take a survey of it? Figure out the structure? See what needs to be done?" He's a bit babbly, but at least it's about work.

Cinematic? If their recon ride had a soundtrack, there'd be an orchestral swell and a crash of cymbals as Leyla guides Bertha out of the clouds. And Damon has front row seats to the exciting climax - a massive ship visible on the surface. "That's a Eunostos-class freighter," he points out, standing up a bit out of his seat and bracing himself against the ceiling to get a better look. "We've seen a bunch of those already. Looks like shit from the outside, but… at least it's still in one piece. Worth a scan or a look." Sounds like he's still keeping his expectations low, even in the face of Marko's enthusiastic outburst.

Leyla angles down, to fly her way closer to the parked ship, looking for a nice sheltered spot close enough for them to not have far to move towards the ship, close enough to be covered in the ship's bulk signature, not so close that they can't cut and run if it turns out that it's not a reactor core that's sending the heat signature of the hulk slightly buried in the ground. Slow and careful, cautious and easy. The better to avoid getting your face shot off. But finally, with just the slightest little nudge, Bertha sets foot on ground, west of Kinlochard Village, northern continent, Aerilon.

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