PHD #220: EVENT - Ghosts of Picon
Ghosts of Picon
Summary: Return Raptor reconnaissance to Picon finds one colony the Cylons definitely haven't abandoned.
Date: 04 Oct 2041 AE
Related Logs: An All-Expense Paid Trip; Impending Doom
Bran Leyla 
A Raptor, in space
See above.
Post-Holocaust Day: #220

Most Fleet personnel have some memory of the seas and cities of Picon. Caprica was said to have been the center of Colonial government power, but Picon was the location of Fleet Headquarters. The arms that did the work of Caprica's brain. And for those upon the Cerberus, the last impression most have of the place is fire, terror and flight. It was the 26th of February, 2041 years After Exodus, when the Cylons reawakend from forty years of silence to unleash destruction upon the Twelve Colonies. And it was from Picon, those more than seven months gone as of today, that the Battlestar Cerberus managed to barely escape the destruction, fleeing the nuking of Picon to…all it's found since. Apart from the initial post-attack reconnaissance, which merely confirmed the utter destruction of the world, none have been back.

Yet. A recon Raptor is now making final preparations to jump away from the Cerberus for another look back. To see what the Cylons have been up to in the months they've been left to their own devices on this once-center of Colonial military power. The chance of finding survivors on this world, called a "total loss" along with Virgon and Aquaria, is considered slim to none. But one will never know what lies there until one sees for oneself. The Tac officer on duty in CIC has just cleared the Raptor to jump. It is game time.

Leyla is settled, as comfortably as one can be settled, into her seat, going through yet another final check of her suit, her flight controls, and the DRADIS console set in front of her. This might be the triple or quadruple check, but there it is. "Copy that, Cerberus, cleared to jump." A deep breath, a second, before she looks back to her ECO, "Cerberus reports ready to jump. All of my systems are go on your mark." It's not that he can't hear the comms, but with all he has to do to get the jump plotted in, and the drive prepped, she's been handling air to 'ground' communications.

Bran takes a moment in clearing his throat and pocketing his favorite pen upon a hollow click. It's long since ran out of ink, some time pre-Holocaust, and he's since never bothered to refill it. He gives one final push to memories and potential last rites in order to speak up calmly in reply. "Initial jump plotted," tense, he lets a beat pass. "We're spooled and primed, jump on my mark, in," the rest will be history as he counts down from five to one, and then mark.

Bran glances sidelong in Leyla's direction and then there's the far too familiar gut-wrenching as the FTL drives kick in harder and punt them from one point to another in the blink of the eye. It's awesome, in a way, but he's done it far too many times for it to be shiny. Do not die is conveniently the last thought that filters into the man's mind before they plop into the new location and repeat the steps until coordinates bring them to Picon.

Leyla spends 1 luck points on I don't wanna die over Picon..

<FS3> Leyla rolls Raptors: Failure.
<FS3> Bran rolls ECM: Success.

After the jump sequence is complete, Leyla and Bran find themselves adjacent to Picon. Still far enough out that they'll need to make their final approach via sublight, but they landed in the right neighborhood. The distant green and blue of the planet is visible from Leyla's front viewport, though anything more than that, they are still too far off to spot. Space around them is empty of other traffic, Colonial or Cylon. Thus far.

"Welcome home, Sam." The last place the two Taurians could call home, before they shipped out to live their lives in the stars. As soon as the jump is complete, and the DRADIS pops back up, Leyla calls back, "Proceeding at sublight speed to Picon, no visual signs of enemy or friendly contact. Begin recording and passive scans." She does venture a glance back, "Keep the FTL spooled up, and just in case we need to pop, cut and run, make sure we can active scan before we bail out." If they have to.

The preliminary scans thanks to the lovely expertise of Bran makes the ECO clear his throat awkwardly, thickly, and speak up. That tense motion returns and places a weight over his shoulders. "We've got multiple contacts," and he begins relaying the positions according to the outskirts of his DRADIS's readout. "And switching over the passive now," he pauses. The pause is nothing and he keys in a new set of coordinates, following Leyla's orders for a potential hop out of danger. Stealth Mode limits his amount of scanning, but he enjoys the thought of going in undetected. "Yeah, home, what's left of it."

"Alright, I'm going to try to keep going as slowly and smoothly as I can," slow and steady wins the race, right? "I'll stay at sublight until we're…five klicks outside of their DRADIS, and then we'll drop down to a coast, if we can. I'd rather not have them jumping on our tails. Can you give me an exact number on your contacts?" Her suite, after all, isn't as sophisticated as Bran's. "If they even give a hint of moving, you let me know."

They were fortunate to put in a good ways away from Picon's orbit, as those initial blips Bran is getting do not seem to notice them. For the moment. Space remains reasonably clear as they make their approach. Too clear, perhaps, as it is also remains generally free of debris. Notable, given how many fair Colonial ships were blown out of the sky both in orbit and attempting less-successful escapes than Cerberus managed. Perhaps the Cylons have been doing some housecleaning.

Leyla continues her approach, keeping her touch light and easy on the stick. Too tight and she might be liable to fly them them to The Bad Place(tm). Onward, and upward, or alternately downward, being as there's no true direction in space, the planet growing larger and larger in the window, not to mention her eyes, as she scans every scrap of sky she can see through her window, "Pens, can you give me an approximate number of vessels now showing on your scan?"

<FS3> Bran rolls ECM: Success.

"Copy that, Leyla," offers Bran in turn and adjusts his posture at his fancy station. He takes a hand off of the console before him in order to correct his flight suit at his neck, out of idle habit, while answering. "You, uh - it wouldn't be a nice number. Four for certain, standard barcap formation, and considering I don't see much of anything but that, no graveyard, no anything, I say there's a frakton more." He's quiet upon that report though and he keeps his attention on his computers and plethora of sensors. Bran pipes up with a short, "Running another sweep now - Keep it steady, that patrol is coming in on your nine, high, but remember when I was talking about there being a frakton more? It's looking like reinforcements down there but I won't get a good read until we break into active. Your call."

"No active, until we're ready to gtfo. That's per Boots' orders. He wants as complete a scan of the planet as we can get. Passive DRADIS only. All cameras. You hit active and we're lighting ourselves up like a billboard, 'Shoot here, we are crispy and taste good with milk.' If we are going to run active, we're going to do it while we're counting down for the drive to jump us out. Just keep an eye on that patrol, once they pass out of my view of view, if you see them coming around you tell me." Leyla offers, as she does her level best to keep her course, while, you know, casually trying to avoid detection by the sweet and friendly patrol of raiders passing by on her nine. She does have a DRADIS, yes, but with her eyes needing to be forward more often than down, she can't consult it nearly as often as the ECO.

"You do realize I know what the frak I'm doing over here, right? And maybe I was leaving the decision up to you, because maybe just a yes or no would do in these trying times, because maybe someone got a shiny new promotion." Bran promptly ignores the offered input and continues doing what he does best: being an ECO. He did have a briefing himself. He ignores the constant blips and their constant getting his attention and multi-tasks in scanning over the planet with what limits he's placed over himself as per not wanting to get blown the frak up. Banter aside, he's now quiet and in wait of that looming moment where they are either found or not given the close proximity. Electronic warfare, thy name is Sam Bran.

<FS3> Leyla rolls Raptors: Success.

With that patrol of Raiders not right on top of them, they at least have some warning to veer around it. Which Leyla manages to do. So, aren't immediately set upon. Though it will not be so easy to avoid detection now that they're in proper range of Picon. This is no abandoned planet. Even passive DRADIS is lit up like a Beltane-day tree with dozens of signatures. Active scans would be needed to positively ID them as Cylons but it's frankly not hard to guess that they're the enemy. And they're clustered around Picon like flies on a corpse. In greater strength than they were several months back, if this is any indication.

"And just maybe someone doesn't need a shiny new promotion to know that if someone had been paying attention in his briefing, he would have known what his orders were and wouldn't need a certain someone who had got a promotion to remind him of what he had been ordered to do on this little honeymoon cruise." Welcome to the world of Sweet Pea and Pens. Oh the joy, oh the rapture. "Alright, it doesn't look like they've noticed us, so I'm going to be picking up the speed to get us through this as quickly as possible." And away they go, rabbity rabbitying into the scan as best they can without an actual Bunny in their cockpit.

"Don't worry about it, I've got your back, bitchy or not, 'cause I am tired of these motherfrakking toasters on my motherfrakking DRADIS. So, Sweet Pea, you get me that speed and I'll get you those Gods-damned scans. So say we all." That is about the most informal prayer that the man has ever come up with, but as level-headed as Brans is there are a lot of contacts down there and more than he could ever anticipate: suicide run is as suicide run does. He brings his hands together in a moment of forced reprieve and then reaches out in order to continue his second set of scans. "Hey, Sweet Pea, I hope you're up on anti-rads. My readouts make Hades look like an actual honeymoon."

The Cylons do not just remain around Picon. Those dozens of signature blips in orbit suddenly register as hundreds down on the planet's surface. They have fortified it. They own it. That fair Raptor will need to get in closer for proper pictures, but that much is clear. Many of those signatures seem clustered around an old orbital shipyard. But, again, a closer look as to why (presumably) Raiders are swarming in that area will be needed to see what the deal is.

"I'm taking us down, Pens. If you ever felt you had a connection to the Gods, now would be the time to call in those favours. Prep some swallows, prep everything we've got to jam them when they come in. I want to get a closer look at that cluster over by the shipyard coming up ahead." And that's it. For better or worse, she's the Pilot, and she has her orders. "If we don't make it out of this, I want you to know…." And that trails off, he already knows everything he needs to know about one Lt. Leyla Aydin.

Bran makes a grunt of a noise when it comes to the Gods, if only because the Gods should not have let any of this happen in the first place. "Lamps and pircs active," and he reaches to the side in order to bring up the electronic countermeasures. He sniffs and then clears his throat. His tone of voice is dry, but, he adds, "Swallows ready, so too the rest." However, most of his attention is split between the electronic protective measures still running, the spooling of the FTL, listening to charming Sweet Pea, and watching the constant flaring up on his DRADIS at each sweep. Bran is busy. "I know." He's not too busy to where he cannot reply with something.

<FS3> Leyla rolls Alertness: Success.
<FS3> Bran rolls Alertness: Success.

<FS3> Cidra rolls 6: Good Success.

Two things, as they near the planet. And whatever those blips are so interested in swarming around. One, those are most certainly the enemy. Even without active DRADIS signatures, a Cylon Raider is easily identifiable as a Cylon Raider within visual range. It's only confirmation of what they should already know, of course. But the sight of Cylons buzzing around Picon like a hornet's nest is rather a different thing than just imagining it.

Two, that swarm is indeed around a co-opted old Colonial shipyard. And there is something under construction there. Given the size of it, it's also impossible /not/ to tell what it is at this range. They are building a basestar above Picon.

All this is likely noted within seconds as, once Leyla is nearer, the Raiders actually start paying attention to something Colonial in their midst. Two spot her right away and break off on an intercept course. Just two for now, but with the swarm around Picon it is not as if they lack for reinforcements.

"Well, now we know why there's no debris left in the sky. Imagine they're scavenging the ground for parts as well." Leyla's practically close enough to reach out and touch the basestar being constructed above Picon, or so it seems to her, and she almost considers swinging in even closer, until, "We've got incoming, Pens, catching them just out of my periphreal. Two by my count, but I don't think it's going to be a halfway even fight for very much longer. Going to try to see if I can put some distance between us and them and get as much of the rest of the planet as I can while you get us ready to jump. Drop everything you've got to jam them and then spool up the engine. Jump on your mark." She's not going to be waiting for Pens to ask her for the okay.

Bran spends 1 luck points on Jammin' it up..

<FS3> Bran rolls Ecm: Success.

"And what a big ass it has, the frakkers," is muttered from the general direction of Bran and he sits up in order to ignore half of what he had been doing. "I got them. Just keep doing what you're doing. You've got this, Sweet Pea." He doesn't bother with Swallows just yet and instead activates the suppressive systems and jammers. A moment later has him waiting for the tell-tale calling of missiles and the like, just so he can deploy their lovely onboard decoys in counter-response.

Those jammers seem to do their job quite well. Those Raiders do line up to take their shots at that Raptor, but the guns of one go entirely wide of their mark, nowhere near the Raptor. The other Raider maneuvers more on target, but still more jerkily than it naturally would, to try and line Leyla and Bran up in its canon sights.

"I'm going as fast as Bertha will go, Pens." And that's no lie. Big Bertha is flying her big butt off for all she's worth, ducking and weaving as best she can and still get some good shots of the planet, with Leyla at the helm, pushing her as fast and as far as she can. It's only half a planet surely the can get it done before there's a missile trying to fit itself somewhere it oughtn't to be. Go, go gadget Sweet Pea!

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Leyla:Raptors vs Raider:3
< Leyla: Success Raider: Success
< Net Result: DRAW

The Raider's guns do make contact with Leyla's ship, but it's a glancing shot over the Raptor's wing. No real damage done. This has all attracted the attention of the other Raiders around the planet, however. The swarm is gathering, DRADIS now flashing like it's set afire with red contacts.

"And how, they love her ass tonight," calls out Sam Bran sarcastically. He is not going to die, so he is allowed to heavily downplay right now. His console is brightening up with the amount of contacts but he ignores the quantity in order to focus on the quality of his work. In the background, there's a dull rattle of being hit. He looks over to Leyla and then turns his attention to completing the scans. "Just buy me thirty seconds."

<FS3> Bran rolls Ecm: Success.

"We're okay!" Which, might or might not be obvious, from the fact that Bertha is still speeding her little heart along, despite the fact that it looks light a firestorm just exploded on her DRADIS, and one could almost hear the little ship that could going 'Owie!' as her winglet gets pinged. So many in fact that Leyla doesn't have to even more than glance at the thing to see that it's practically bleeding red. "I'll buy you all the time you need." For good or ill, if Bran wants time, Sweet Pea is going to buy him time, yes she is. It's now his call.

And as Bran scans, and gather was information he can in the time that remains, the storm continues to gather. Trying to finish that fly-over will likely result in exploded Raptor. It is time to think about getting home. If Leyla can keep them intact long enough to get jump.

Leyla spends 2 luck points on No smooshy Peas and no broken Pens!.

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Leyla:Raptors vs Raider:5
< Leyla: Good Success Raider: Terrible Failure
< Net Result: Leyla wins big.

'Oh Frak me, Sweet Pea…you are truly insane.' The echo of Flasher's words to her ring like a bell in Leyla's head as she dodges and weaves, flying that little raptor as though it were the second coming of those Areion Mark 7.5s. Nevermind that there's a galaxy's worth of raiders heading in to take the piece out of her that the two already on her tail have missed completely. All go, no quit. "They're still coming and we're still going!"

Sans electronic counter-measures, Bran focuses his attention on completing the planet's scans as best he can. He suddenly pings with a short whoop when they are as complete as they will ever become. Perfection is better than nothing at all, any day of the week, in his opinion, and he relays that in spite of the frakstorm bearing down on them, they have both the photographic intelligence and the electronic data for the entire surface of the planet. "It's enough to extrapolate on, at least. Spooling now - I'll see you around, Picon."

Wink out, wink in, as the little ship that could jumps her way out of Picon space and onto the first of their waypoints on the way back to the barn. And once they've gotten the all clear that they're not being followed, Leyla offers, just before they go to jump two…"Was it good for you too, Sam?"

And as those Raiders converge on that Raptor, it winks out of the torched colony's air space. Not a split second too soon. The ghosts of Picon are left behind them, all that remains of that poor world save for many, many Cylons.

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