PHD #052: EVENT - Lion's Hide
Lion's Hide
Summary: Evandreus and Trask conduct a reconnaissance of Cylon-occupied Leonis.
Date: 19 Apr 2041 AE
Related Logs: None.
Evandreus Trask Polaris 
Space — Leonis
It is very cold here.
Post-Holocaust Day: #52

The mission sounds simple, like many difficult missions do: to determine the disposition of the Cylon battle fleet defending the occupied planet of Leonis and to probe those defenses for any possible vulnerabilities. But it doesn't take a genius to realize that this assignment bears very little resemblance to the quick-and-dirty scouting operations the Harriers have been doing since Warday — for never has Cerberus or any of her people dared to venture into the very teeth of a heavily-defended Cylon position with active DRADIS on. Small wonder, then, that the deck crew gives this particular Raptor pair a wide berth as they make their way through final pre-flight preparations, shooting them somber looks when they think the officers' attention is elsewhere. No backslapping, no bright smiles, no crass commentary: just a grave and respectful silence that's soon drowned out by the whine of a Raptor power plant stirring to life.

The last time Bunny and Bootstrap attempted a planetary recon, they barely avoided being on the receiving end of nine (9) anti-aircraft missiles. Here's hoping that they'll have better luck, this time. True to form, however, Trask is not lacking the usual nonchalance he displays when asking Thanatos to the junior prom. Why, he even goes so far as to comment to the deckhands that they look like they've just returned from a funeral, and not the fun kind where people party in memory of the departed. Any apprehension he must really be feeling is concealed behind that glib exterior of his, even as the Raptor enters Leonis space.

Evandreus has seen better moods by a mile. After yesternight's debacle, all in the name of Revenge, being asked to go suss out Leonis for whatever offensive operation Command might be planning there is bittersweet, at best, irritating at worst. And so, amid the soulful gloom of the deckies, he calls to their earpieces, working on the interior controls as they work the exterior in prepping the boat for flight, his voice a little more tight and strained than it usually is. When Boots comes aboard, however, he looks back, giving the guy a brief flash of a smile before he situates the helmet onto his head and seals it up, tap tap tap. Comms on between his helmet and Boots'. "Nice day for a road trip, yah?" he asks, strapping in and taking the front seat through its final greening for launch.

"That it is, Bunny-boy. I hear the roads to Elysium are terribly congested, so I suggest we go elsewhere today. You don't mind, do ya?" Not even impending doom can keep Kal's facetiousness at bay. If anything, it only serves as a catalyst.

There's neither sunrise nor sunset in space — but there is on Leonis, and when Evandreus punches the Big Red Button to trigger the three-jump series they've spent the better part of an hour calculating, they arrive above the planet where day turns to night. There he is, resolving out of the starfield that expands and explodes: the Lion himself, brown and beige and mottled with angry black scars — wounds, no doubt, from the recent violence inflicted upon him by the relentless machines. But compared to the reconnaissance photographs snapped by these pilots' compatriots in those hectic February days, the planet looks veritably peaceful. No mushroom clouds bloom from her cities, no fires burn in her plains, no storms cover her seas. If not for the fact that Trask's console detects not a single concentration of human life significant enough to be reported, the pair of them might think that the past month's events have been naught but a dream.

And the Cylons? None in sight.

<FS3> Trask rolls Ecm: Success.

Evandreus shifts his head to the side a little, glancing through the viewscreen at his home of once-upon-a-time, then down to the little semi-DRADIS display over to his side, just to check his positioning. "Nah, I thought I'd take us down the seven twenty nine to Graean," he replies, executing the first pre-coded algorithm on their flight plan. No time to waste. At least the pilot has some knowledge of the planet in question, having cabbied there for a good number of years. "How're we looking? Kick the first swallow out on my mark…"

Just because the pilot and ECO can't see anything doesn't mean that DRADIS is so blind. "We're lookin' sexy as ever," he quips. "We're also lookin' at two Basestars: one at 11-F and the other at 13-J. Odds are that they're hosting family reunions, so expect some traffic and possibly more RVs." As if Basestars are Winnebagos. Well, actually, they kind of are. "On your mark, I'll commence planetary scans."

<FS3> Trask rolls Ecm: Success.

"Mark," Evan calls back, giving Trask the OK to drop the swallow, "And yeah, start active scans as soon as the baby's screaming," he goes on, "Prepare for next swallow deployment on my mark." And he, for his part, keeps his eyes on the road, as it were.

Good thing that DRADIS can pick-up what human eyes can't. "Another Basestar at 10-F." It gets even better. "11-F and 13-J are launching Raiders." And Trask is deploying that swallow. "Southern hemisphere is totally trashed, an' the rest ain't farin' much better. Looks like two bases on the main northern continent, claim jumpin' concentrations of uranium."

"Mark!" Evan calls as he passes the next planned drop point and executes a shift in trajectory on the spot, leaving the swallow a little post-orbit before veering closer to the planet. "Get some pictures if you can, but get the next swallow prepped. How many incoming?" he wonders, trying to will his pores to stop sweating.

The swallow is launched. "Pantheiras is chock-full of AA. Prolly their operations base for the uranium extractions they're doing in the boonies." As for the Raiders, "Four apiece." Beat. "Confirmed, anyway." Trask possesses a healthy amount of paranoia and skepticism. "They don't appear to be moving. Sure as frak hope they're not using decoys, too. Making a timestamp note, just in case this is some sort of changing of the guard." He sounds somewhat dubious, even if he's not ruling-out the possibility of Cylons running CAP. It's not as if he hasn't seen seriously strange shit in the Heavy Raider he's been analyzing.

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Basestar:7 vs Trask:ECM
< Basestar: Good Success Trask: Success
< Net Result: Basestar wins.

"Good, good," Evan murmurs back, distracted, some, focused on flying and keeping his eye on the swallow drop-points, and trusting in Bootsie's ability to handle the backseat and the recon. "Just a little further, now— on my mark—" he calls. "See if you can get a minerological signal on that uranium. If that's what they're after, we plot that, we plot their activity," he does pipe up as it strikes him.

That last swallow that was dropped — the one in 9-I — it quickly becomes apparent that doing so was a Very Bad Idea. "Frak." In a flash of insight, Trask remotely accesses the swallow's sensors. "Four /new/ Basestars responding to 9-I. Occupying 8-G, 8-H, 10-G, 10-H. Talk about overkill. Timestamping reaction time." As far as getting a mineralogical signal, the ECO counters, "How about we get the frak outta here? Uranium is uranium. Command can draw the same conclusions that anyone with two working brain cells to rub together can." Cylons are mining Uranium. They will mine all they can. "Calculating best place to jump for further recon." Might as well try to extrapolate from what data there is available.

Before Bunny can protest, Bootstrap is adding, "8-H has gone active." The Basestar, that is. "We're reading as getting scanned. So, again, let's get the frak outta here. The swallow is set to mimic a jump. Hopefully, they'll think we've exercised prudence. Regardless, our countdown to the Final Countdown has started."

"Mark," Evan begins, even as Trask goes on to talk over him, "Mark, for frak's sake," he calls, louder, in case the first time didn't get heard, "We're out of extrapolated range in… now," he marks the time, stress tensing his jaw, "If it sends some guests where it saw us, they'll see the swallow. Come on. We're keeping in the swallow's shadow. We're almost through with the back hemisphere. Just a little further. Switching it up," he adds."Get another swallow ready ASAP." Machines are smart, after all, and catch onto patterns of behavior. Dropping swallows more erratically might confuse them.

"Presumably," Trask snerks, not at all convinced that they'll be out of range. After dissecting that Heavy Raider, he's well aware that Cylon technology makes even the most advanced Colonial technology look positively paleolithic. Even so, the ECO isn't insubordinate — just a pain in the ass. "Launched. /Sir/." Then it is back to scanning — "Two more, designated Sierras Nine and Ten."

<FS3> Trask rolls Ecm: Success.

"The passives are clear," but Bootstrap's disposition is still somewhat cloudy. Active scans report, "Less wrecked here. Kythera and Cel Varro," which are on the northern continent, "seem relatively clear. No immediate signs of life. Not pinging Cylon activity, either, though. I guess the trashcans don't much care for forests and plains."

Evandreus lets out a degree or two of the breath he'd been holding. "… Really. Cel Varro was a pretty big tech center…" he murmurs. "But I guess our tech doesn't look like much to them." Staying in the swallow's jamming range, he eases around the planet, looking down at the relatively unscathed continent. "Get ready to leave that next swallow— on my mark," he tells his backseater. Just because there's no one here doesn't mean they shouldn't cover their asses.

<FS3> Trask rolls Ecm: Success.

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Basestar:7 vs Trask:ECM
< Basestar: Good Success Trask: Success
< Net Result: Basestar wins.

Well, this sweep is rather interesting. "CFAS Anodyomene looks… intact." What probably nudges Trask's tone into bewilderment is the realization that there are, "No life signs. No signals of any kind." Not using a base that was spared simply does not compute. He is not so distracted, though, to not notice that the passive sweep is taking a bit longer than it should. When the answer comes to him, the ECO rolls his eyes and even dramatically throws his head into the gesture. "13-L is showing /another/ active Basestar." Quel surprise! Not. "Swallow ready to leave the nest on your mark, hunny Bunny."

Evandreus' breath goes all hitchy again. Brief respite. "Well, if we were looking for a gap in air defense, I think that that was it. Mark," he interjects, before they can get out of the jamming range of the last swallow. "And ground defenses, to boot. We're coming around horizon to the Spacedock, Bootsie. One finger on the gitfo button," he warns, fully expecting this to get ugly, and soon.

And indeed they are. The boxy Raptor emerges from the shadow of Leonis-at-night, whose surface is remarkably devoid of lights of any sort, and immediately the pilot-ECO pair are nearly blinded as the glare from Cyrannus cuts through their tinted cockpit. Fortunately, it doesn't take terribly long for their eyes to adjust — and just in time, too, for inching over the horizon is the Spacedock itself. No fewer than four hulking basestars have taken up position around it, and one more winks into position every other second until — eight seconds in — the same number of Cylon motherships are emplaced around the sprawling Colonial yards. And through the swarms of Raiders soaring in impossibly precise formation around said fleet yards are visible the dormant carcasses of a veritable potpourri of civilian Colonial craft bearing an equally diverse array of markings: the spoils of war, no doubt, being now repurposed for sinister Cylon ends. Spacedock and ships alike have been slathered with what appears to be a coating of red paint — but paint really isn't supposed to glow and pulse in the darkness of space, and it really isn't supposed to be able to hold together the various perforated spaceframes in the distance.

Whatever the Cylons' interest in Leonis seems to be, the Raptors have found it — and whatever the CAG's interest in Leonis seems to be, the Cylons are about to find out. A wing of Raiders pauses, their eyeslits flickering madly — and, in remarkable synchrony, reverses direction entirely, their engines flaring a brilliant blue that verges on white.

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Basestar:7 vs Trask:ECM
< Basestar: Success Trask: Success
< Net Result: DRAW

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Basestar:7 vs Trask:ECM
< Basestar: Good Success Trask: Bad Failure
< Net Result: Basestar wins big.

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Basestar:7 vs Trask:ECM
< Basestar: Great Success Trask: Success
< Net Result: Basestar wins.

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Basestar:7 vs Trask:ECM
< Basestar: Good Success Trask: Success
< Net Result: Basestar wins.

PING. PING. PING. PING. Yeah. That screaming swallow trick that's worked so well for them before? It's not going to do much when the swallow's piddly systems are subjected to the massive power of four basestars' combined electronic warfare suites. The swallow screams — screams again — and just like that, vanishes off DRADIS, fizzling in a burst of static as the pilots' earpieces begin to howl in protest. The hounds have found the fox.

If the DRADIS console lighting up like Solstice lights wasn't enough of a harbinger of doom, that sudden burst of static chimes in. "Gah," Trask exclaims with a wince. This is so not pleasant on so many levels. "Commencing Operation GITFO." AKA, spooling this motherfrakkin' Raptor.

"Yes, please." The words almost sing-song in their child-like fright. Hello, firing squad. OHRIGHTEVADE! Evan mashes his own GITFO combination and the raptor jinks off toward the black, into that nice hole in the Leonisian air defense.

Four Raiders explode forward as they complete jump calculations in a matter of milliseconds, ones and zeros flooding their mechanical minds and spurring them forward until they're right on Evandreus' six. They're firing even before the distorted space around them returns to normal, their bullets' trajectory warping in unpredictable directions — a sign of their haste.

<COMBAT> Triggering new turn.
<COMBAT> Raider4 attacks Evandreus with KEW but MISSES!
<COMBAT> Raider3 attacks Evandreus with KEW but MISSES!
<COMBAT> Raider2 attacks Evandreus with KEW but MISSES!
<COMBAT> Raider1 attacks Evandreus with KEW but MISSES!
<COMBAT> Evandreus passes.
<COMBAT> Trask suppresses Raider1 with ECM. <successful>
<COMBAT> Trask suppresses Raider2 with ECM. <successful>
<COMBAT> Trask suppresses Raider3 with ECM. <successful>
<COMBAT> Trask suppresses Raider4 with ECM. <successful>
<COMBAT> Polaris has started a new turn. Pose and choose your action.

Pew-pew-pew-pew! Four shots. Four misses. Four cock(pit)blocked Raiders. Trask will have to savor the moment /after/ the FTL finishes spooling. "Nearly there…"

Evandreus tries his best to break himself from the urge to just go straight as quickly as possible, knowing well enough that the Raiders are much faster than him, but still— basic flight is a hard instinct to overcome. Finally, gritting his teeth, he jerks back and down, sending stomachs into throats and then flipping the Raptor into another route of flight.

The hounds aren't letting the fox — or in this case, the Harrier — get away, not that the Raptor's engine is any threat at all compared to the monstrous powerplants packed into the rear of each Raider. With the speed of buzzing Vipers, the Cylons move to flank the desperate pilot, leading him through a maze of interlocked fields of fire.

<COMBAT> Triggering new turn.
<COMBAT> Raider4 attacks Evandreus with KEW - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!
<COMBAT> Raider3 attacks Evandreus with KEW - Serious wound to Body.
<COMBAT> Raider2 attacks Evandreus with KEW - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!
<COMBAT> Trask suppresses Raider1 with ECM. <unsuccessful>
<COMBAT> Trask suppresses Raider2 with ECM. <unsuccessful>
<COMBAT> Trask suppresses Raider3 with ECM. <unsuccessful>
<COMBAT> Trask suppresses Raider4 with ECM. <successful>
<COMBAT> Raider1 attacks Evandreus with KEW - Moderate wound to Left Wing.
<COMBAT> Evandreus passes.
<COMBAT> Polaris has started a new turn. Pose and choose your action.

"5…" First comes the taste of stomach in the throat. "4…" Then comes a serious blast to the hull. "3…" And a moderate one to the left wing. "2…" Face tense, beads of sweat on the brow, Bootstrap continues the countdown. "1…"

Evandreus hardly knows which way is which, the Raptor's knocked head over heels and then into a tight corkscrew, flipping fiercely and shucking parts of the hull from its wing as it gets swallowed up in a flicker of blue.

And — almost before it began — the gut-wrenching engagement is over, fifteen seconds of terror followed by a full minute of stunned silence as the creaking Harrier lurches out of Leonis space. It'll take the pair of them some time to patch up the damage to their ship, and some time longer to return to the hangar bay of Battlestar Cerberus — and long faces immediately break into grins of relief when Evandreus' voice finally sings out a full forty-five minutes after he'd been written off. It's with rousing cheers that their comrades greet them when the battle-scarred hatch pops open and two staggering, sweating figures tumble out, reconnaissance data in hand — the lion-slayers of this new and terrible age, who though bereft of the strength of Herakles pierced nonetheless the invincible hide.

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