PHD #080: Jump Wings
Jump Wings
Summary: Tillman runs into Bell and the CAG in the Rec Room. A rescue plan is divulged.
Date: 17 May 2041 AE
Related Logs: Anything with the Leonis missions.
Tillman Bell Cidra 
Rec Room
This huge room spans quite a lot of floor space, the support beams crisscrossing at even points throughout the room. The two sides are divided fairly between the Enlisted and Officers with an unseen line more or less running down the center of the room. A couple pool and card tables sit in no-man's land with a series of regular mess tables at the rear of the room, nearest a counter full of minor refreshments like coffee and bags of chips. Magazines and reading material are spread out over the couched seating areas and a few televisions are set-up with a couple of video game systems made available.
Post-Holocaust Day: #80

Bell is all set up at one of the card tables, his sprawl uncontrolled. Books lay unopened; what occupies his attention are the octagonal papers. Wing assignments, it might seem. A mug of tea steams beside them; Jeremiah cradles his forehead in his hands.

Tillman wanders his way into the Rec Room looking a bit tired, himself. Someone missed a shave this morning. His path takes him by the LT as he heads for the ever-brewing pot of coffee at the back of the room. On the return he stops by Bell and sips at his mug. "Headache, El-tee?"

Bell looks up, then rises awkwardly, raising his hand in salute. "Quite so, sir. CAP assignments are getting… tricky. Compound that with my relative inexperience, and the task is proving somewhat harrowing." A pause. "Though I imagine yours is all the moreso."

Tillman just lifts his mug to return the salute. "You can sit, Lieutenant. You got enough problems, it sounds like." He gives a tired chuckle with the last. "I can't imagine its easy for you. Being thrust into a position like that is tough. I once knew a CAG that used to carry around a set of dice that helped her decide how to place people."

Bell settles back down into his seat, and waves a hand at the chart. "Has a certain logic to it. The CAP seems almost like a formality. Everyone's so tense that once contact is made, all our planes are up within a minute or three. Might as well just put a robot out there as a picket screen." A wry grin at the irony.

"It is a formality, but its a necessary. It takes time to spool the jump drives so we need pilots out there." He sips at the mug and shifts the weight where he stands. "The tension is sort of a byproduct of the whole situation, though. As if it wasn't bad enough, we've still got people marooned on Leonis. Its got everyone jumpy. Some of our best people are down there and we want them back. Couple that with the Cylons jumping on top of us a few times?" The XO clicks his teeth. "The other night they put their basestar down between us and the CAP."

Bell nods solemnly. "I'm well aware, sir. Abraham's a good friend of mine - most astute Captain we've had in the Petrels during my tenure, and that's nearly a decade now. His command style may be… unorthodox, but he sees a problem coming a mile away." Jeremiah blows on his mug, then gingerly takes a sip. "The other night, sir, I was stuck on the flight deck without a Viper to fly. This can't continue indefinitely."

Tillman just nods. "Haven't had a chance to meet the Captain yet, though I imagine it'll come to pass soon enough." Nope, the crew on the ground isn't lost. Just temporarily misplaced. "Lot of pople do speak highly of him, though. As for the Vipers?" The man shakes his head. "Last I heard we're about ten days out from getting the Plant up and functional again. All depends on Engineering and the Deck getting that area patched. But even then? All we can do is re-manufacture the scrap we picked-over from Parnassus. We need to either salvage some raw materials or head back to the Graveyard at Virgon and just scoop up as much as we can." He looks down to his coffee mug. "Salvaging off dead pilots is bad business but its about all we can do unless we want to kill a lot of time trying to scout out asteroids way the hell outside the colonies where the Cylons wouldn't look for us."

Cidra has arrived.

"I've no ethical qualms with recycling, Major. We can only hope those who gave their lives would have given their blessing as well. If you don't mind my asking…" Bell shuffles the charts together, evidently not putting any work into them at the moment anyway. "We /are/ going back for them, aren't we? How long do we intend to leave them there?"

Tillman is standing beside a table that Bell is occupying, the LT sitting down with papers and books in front of him. One of the papers is a squad roster about CAP rotations. Tillman's just sipping on a fresh cup of joe. With the LT's question, there is a long sigh from Tillman. "Bet your ass we are going back for them. I won't abandon anyone down there. We can't leave anyone else behind anymore. As for how long? I'm working on a plan but kicking in the door of the Cylon's most heavily defended position in the Colonies isn't exactly cake. I've got something bubbling but I need to talk to the CAG and the interim squadron leaders, like yourself, about it."

"Quite frankly, sir, and I'm sure you agree," Presumptuous much, Jeremiah? "but I'd rather attempt a rescue sooner than later. However difficult it will be for us to hold off the enemy long enough to extract our people, they're invariably in a less enviable position. I…" Bell purses his lips, looking down to the table a moment before he eyes the XO. "I worry. So. I am of course at your disposal, and will retask myself accordingly."

Speak of devils and CAGs and they shall appear. Cidra makes her way into the Rec Room. In her blues but her jacket's unbuttoned, so she's either just coming off or between some duty-time or another. Cigarette between her fingers and already smoking. The woman is rarely without one.

"Yeah. I'm in the same boat, Lieutenant. I want them back sooner rather than later. But there are some factors that are proving difficult to deal with at the moment." He grimaces as he says it, the words dry. "We're still working out the details, anyway. Like I said, Leonis is a tough nut to crack." He finishes in time to see the CAG walk in. "Major Hahn. The Lieutenant here was just spreading nasty rumors about you and I was doing my best to dispel them." He slides her a wink and a little smile.

Bell rises slowly from his seat this time, to offer Cidra her requisite salute. "Major. A delight, as always. The Executive Officer was just baldly lying to your face, before I had a chance to advise him not to." All in a perfect, melodic, Caprican deadpan.

"Clive," Cidra responds in kind to Tillman. The barest hint of a smile, and she looks between him and Bell. "Pity. I always do try and listen to rumors. You can find elements of truth in them a good much of the time you would not otherwise come across. Doc. How is it with you?" Her own Gemenese alto, and occasionally funny diction, drawls in an odd countermelody to Bell's perfect Caprican. Blue eyes sharpen at mention of Leonis. A look back at the XO, but she does not immediately press him on it.

"Some kind of rumor involving a bet, a catsuit, and a bonfire. It was an interestin' rumor, to say the least." He grins and looks back towards Bell for a moment before sipping at his coffee. Tillman catches the look from the CAG and lowers his mug. "Got an initial plan, Cid. But its about as unorthodox as it gets. You may not like it. I know you're pretty slammed lately but when you've got time, I want you to hear me out on it." Apparently the XO has a great deal of respect for the Cerb's senior pilot.

Bell remains standing this time, clasping his hands at the small of his back. "I am adapting and adjusting, Major. Abraham's absence has left a void I can only attempt to fill." He falls silent as the XO speaks, looking to the older man with evident curiosity.

Cidra's brows arch at Tillman. Catsuit? "Ah. Ha." Deadpanned. A look back to Bell. And a more serious nod to him. "I do hope to have Ibrahim back with us soon. And all our souls down there. In the meantime…do as you can for the Petrels." For her part, the CAG is also curious. Brows are arched yet again at the XO. "I shall hear out anything that shall move forward the retrieval of our people, of course. What do you mean…unorthadox?"

The XO glances to Bell. "There may come a time when you have to. Always be training your replacement so you don't have what's called a 'cold start'." With the look from Cid, Tillman glances around casually to make sure they aren't overheard. His voice lowers as the mug lifts to his face but doesn't reach his lips. Eyes flicker between her and Bell. "We're going to need air support down there and a way to fend off Raiders. Our best chance is the Vipers down at Anadyomene. Your pilots aren't airborne qualified by any chance, are they?" No, he's not joking.

Bell raises dark, bushy brows. "Airborne qualified?" he ventures, unrequested, with a glance to Cidra. "You intend to parachute pilots into atmosphere?"

"Airborne?" Cidra just repeats the word. Eyebrows stay up. "They are parachute trained. It is advisable when you might have to eject. What are you…?" A sidelong glance to Bell. Then back to Tillman. She just eyes him.

Tillman gives Bell a slow nod before he sips his coffee, watching Cid. "That's more or less what I was getting at." The XO's voice is barely above a whisper, the look on his face indicating that this should not be traveled information. Yet. "Six Raptors. Five Viper pilots per Raptor. High-altitude jump, low opening. Known as a HALO in the Marines. I heard the radio chatter from Kulko. Those Vipers are armed, fueled, and ready to get in the fight. Just need training on how to run pre-flight from the Deck..if that's even needed." Tillman's area isn't exactly Viper start-up.

Bell bites, playing Devil's advocate. "Well, as long as we are deploying within atmosphere, everything should be fine." A hint of sarcasm in his words, perhaps? "If anything should go wrong, the Raptors will need to return to pick up wounded. Or bodies."

"Have you detected something on the ground that makes us unable to land our Raptors and deliver our people properly?" Cidra asks. Voice also low. "I trust my pilots to be able to get a Viper off the ground. But parachuting in…Clive, if we're detected by on the ground artillery or Raiders, that becomes a shooting gallery with not but slow-floating targets."

"The deployment altitude would be about one hundred thousand feet. Probably deploy a drogue chute for stabilization at the jump and not open mains until about one thousand feet. The jump would be during the day and out of the sun, too. If chutes don't open?" Tillman shakes his head. "They would be nearing Mach One on the descent at higher altitudes. At the ground? Probably not possible to survive that impact." He then looks to Cid, the coffee mug still lingering near his face. "You encountered surface to air defenses down there. Most of the systems that we can identify primarily rely on two things: IR and millimeter-band DRADIS. Those DRADIS sets are pretty sensitive, but wouldn't be tracking for something moving that slow at their standard detection altitudes. They would be getting things like diving birds. The sets are tuned for maneuvering targets, anyway. I can't see a reason why they would bother targeting something falling out of the sky."

Bell begins rubbing at his goatee with two fingers of his left hand, evidently warming to the idea. "So we'd not be concerned with air defense until after we retrieved the fighters? Are we remaining to cover the extraction of the ground team, or do we RTB immediately to preserve the spacecraft?"

"When Flasher and I jumped in near-atmo it took them a good while to spot our Raptor," Cidra admits. "They did not make us until we went down by the treeline. Still. This puts me and my people in a great deal of danger, Major." It's back to rank now.

"Gun your throttles. Keep a frosty eye on the terrain. I don't think the SAMs will be able to keep up except around the target area. But you would be supporting the extraction. The Vipers were our primary goal. Now I just want my people back. As far as I am concerned, those Vipers can be ejected from without hesitation to preserve the pilots life." He sips at his mug and looks back to Cid. "Right. But no telling when they picked you up. If we try to land a gaggle of Raptors at Anadyomene and they pick it up? They'd just land a nuke on you. I think we can expect them to have defenses around that base by now. They may have even moved that 'Saber' system closer by now. If they have? You can forget a landing. Those Raptors wouldn't have time to land. We can keep the plan versatile, but I'm about out of ideas. We need to minimize our exposure time at Leonis to this battlegroup. By the time we could launch the Vipers we have and get them to the surface with a rescue crew?" Tillman shakes his head. "We'd be facing down half the fleet and be gone by the time you could make the pick-up and get back."

"Will Cerberus herself require a fighter screen during the engagement?" queries the Professor, folding his arms again. "We're stretched thin as it is."

"If we are to get all near-thirty of those Vipers off the ground that will leave us fair few pilots up here," Cidra says with a small nod to Bell. "And we shall still need to get Raptors down to retrieve our stranded souls from the ground."

"It will, Lieutenant. The Vipers that come off this ship aren't going down into atmo without good reason. At least, that's the outline. I'm not going to proceed with detailed planning just yet." Its almost a deference to the CAG but it stops short. He is indeed waiting for something. Tillman sips the mug and slides his eyes towards Cid. "That's part of the plan, Major Hahn. Raptors jump in, deliver the pilots. ECO's will triangulate any air defense positions found, then jump back. Minimal exposure time. The air defense positions are off-loaded from the Raptors into the targeting computers on the Corsair. At the appointed time, the Raptors jump low atmo into the target zone. The fleet jumps simultaneously. The Corsair will immediately begin naval gunfire support and shell all the known air defense sites. As sites come online, the Corsair will shift tasking to those new sites. Meanwhile the Cerb and Praetorian will be focused on, what I would expect to be, one helluva naval engagement. I'll be requesting the use of strategic nuclear weapons against the Cylon fleet."

"You seem to have it all thought out, sir. But-" Bell returns his hands to their place at the small of his back. "Why bother with a space engagement at all? It almost seems preferable to limit the engagement to atmosphere."

Cidra does not repeat that question. Though, the way she eyes Tillman, she does think it a pertinent one. "I shall have to run this scenario by my senior pilots. But I shall admit, in terms of getting our people on the ground on Leonis no good way to do it remains. And this might at least get us in under their noses for long enough to fly off." Brows arch at the XO. "Our initial reconnaissance spotted multiple basestars around Leonis, Clive." Which he surely knows.

Tillman shakes his head slowly. "Basic concepts aren't details. Things such as free-fall times, coordination with other ships, practice of the execution, all of it. This takes a lot of time. Besides, if Major Hahn doesn't like the idea and wants me to scrap the idea of parachuting you all in? Then the plan changes. Flexibility is the essence of tactics, Lieutenant. As for a space engagement?" Tillman looks between both of them. "I want as many of those Vipers back as I can get. I think you all probably do, too. If I can convince Abbot to use the nuclear weapons, we could get away from this with very few casualties. We show them one thing, sucker-punch the frak out of them, and then do something else. I'll be jumping the Cerberus at a distance from their Basestars. I'll use the nukes to punch holes through their Raider defenses for more nukes. Each of our missiles has six fifty megaton warheads. Command detonation of each, flying in a line, would prevent the Cylons from getting hits on them while we fly three or four of them into their main anchorage. The huge series of EMP's may catch them with their tin pants down. We use the chaos to jump into position and join the Corsair to deliver gunfire support. At that point, we would deliver the fighter screen and secure from the use of nuclear weapons."

Bell's features slowly melt into a smile. "You've moved a great deal beyond my pay grade, Major. Simply tell me where and when."

"The status of the path back for our Vipers if the Cerberus is engaged in a fire fight with Cylon basestars…concerns me," Cidra understates. Dramatically. "But the capital ships are your business, Major, not mine. I deal with the smaller variety. I fully intend to get my pilots down there back into our arms. And as many Vipers as Leonis holds, if we have some luck."

Tillman smirks at Bell. "Nothing is above anyone's paygrade anymore. We're all in this together." He then looks back to Cid. "If we can succeed in levelling the hell out of the Cylon fleet, we can focus every gun in this fleet on orbital shelling of Leonis. Including our forward batteries." The giant twenty-four-foot guns on the front of the ship. "We may not even require Vipers down there for fire support. If we slot-up some Raptors with ground attack gear, they could run SEAD-" Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses "-as well as provide close-in fire support for the extraction teams. But the orbital bombardment should provide one helluva screen."

Bell looks back to the table. Suddenly the Petrels' wing assignments don't seem quite so pressing. "Might well kill our people, too."

"The priority, in my view, should be getting our people retrieved from the surface and getting those Vipers back to the battlestar intact," Cidra says. "I will of course lend all support me and mine can to any tactical endeavor but…do you intend this as a rescue mission or a full offensive, Major?" Her tone is rather dark on the latter.

"This is purely a rescue mission, Major. We aren't going to attempt to retake Leonis." Not yet anyway. He doesn't say that but he let's it hang long enough for it to be insinuated. "As for killing our own people? Its Danger Close. I want to be on the surface to provide fire direction for the guns but I doubt Abbot will allow that. The big stuff will be used where appropriate. But, the concern isn't unfounded, Lieutenant." He then looks back to Cidra. "If we run this op as theorized here, the decision to withdraw Vipers to the orbital engagement will be yours unless we directly issue orders to the contrary." The Major sips at his mug again. "So Cid. This sound like something you want to take part in? I'm not going to order pilots to go skydiving without your explicit 'Go'."

"It had best be a rescue mission," Cidra says. She lets out a long breath, muttering, "Frak all, I shall not play your damned vulture…" She doesn't seem to be talking to either man, though the profanity from the normally all-of-manners woman is still a little jarring. She gives her head a small shake, as if righting herself, looking back up at Tillman. "As I said, I shall run it by my senior pilots. I shall not throw them into jaws like this without making them fully aware of what they may face. But I shall admit I can see no better way to do it. I shall move ahead with planning for it. We shall get our people back, Major. And I shall not dash more bodies to the ground with them if I can help it."

Bell looks askance sharply at Cidra at the uncharacteristic display, but remains silent.

"When it stops being a rescue mission, terminate my position with prejudice. But, I want these motherfrakkers to know that we won't sit idly by and let them screw with our people. We're bringing them home." Tillman's face never cracks into a smile. It borders somewhere between a sneer and determined grit. "Anyhow, talk it over with your senior pilots, but nobody else. This is damned close-hold information, Cid." He looks to Bell as if to reinforce the point for him as well. "I still haven't resolved that problem we talked about in CIC, Major." He let's that hang as well. "But get back to me ASAP. I'm going to take the plan to Abbot and request nuclear release for it. Anyhow, I've got another long night ahead of me. You two? Good Hunting." He dips his head, lifting his mug at the same time and moves off for the hatch.

"Clear eyes, Clive, and steady hands," Cidra says, to see the XO off. A look to Bell. "Well, then. You heard the man, do not take this beyond yourself for the moment. I shall gather Lieutenant McQueen into this at least. Perhaps Lieutenant Ellinon as well. He is our most senior pilot aboard." In terms of years, at least. Ancient Pallas is ancient. Brows are arched at the Petrel. "So. What do you make of all that?"

Bell nods his assent. "It shan't leave the room. As for my opinion? I think you're right. We haven't got much choice. We need to take action, and our options are… constrained. I suspect unorthodoxy will be the order of battle from hereon out."

Tillman has left.

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