PHD #234: Someone Else's Stick
Someone Else's Stick
Summary: Boots and Sweet Pea head into the sims for the first of the SLs training flights. Flasher comes in to watch the carrying on.
Date: 18 Oct 2041 AE
Related Logs: Student, Teacher
Leyla Marko Trask 
Flight Simulation
A training room specifically dedicated to honing aerial skills, this area is equipped with several flight simulator pods that allow the pilots to practice maneuvers and tactics without being in a real live plane. The Viper-pods are installed on one side of the room with a little space between them, an attempt to provide a realistic feel for close-range wing training, while a smaller number of Raptor sim-pods are installed on the opposite side of the room from the Vipers. A central computer terminal and overhead display screen sits at the head of the room, where one can input exercises and data to be run in the sims, scroll through score records, and control the training modules.
Post-Holocaust Day: #234

Leyla is in her flight suit, helmet off, though, set aside at the terminals, as she works her way through a sim program she's been tweaking a bit, bobbing her head as she works her way through the calculations, as if she were working along to the beat of some music only she can hear. The sims room is quiet, mostly, which is probably for the best. If someone dies today, better there be no witnesses, or else the SL will get shlepped into the S2's office again.

In the case of aforementioned SL, his helmet is being carried. Noticing Leyla so engrossed, he furtively makes his approach, taking a peek over her shoulder. After all, what's the point of an 8-inch height advantage if it's not actually put to use? So, there he is, peering at the pilot and her permutations until he flashes a cheeky smile and proclaims, "Aww. You're totally tryin' to jack that up to give me a hard time. How cute." True, Trask really has no way of knowing that's what is being attempted. Why, he may not even believe that's what is going on. Such a thing matters not to a smartass.

"I sincerely hope that's your helmet poking me in the hip, Boots. If it isn't, we're going to need to talk to the quartermaster about getting you a bigger jock." It's a good thing the aforementioned SL is so much taller, or when Leyla's head comes up, she'd have hit him right in the chin, but thankfully, she mostly only hits empty air, before she turns to look at the man looming up mostly behind her like a behemoth, "As if you would take me seriously as your instructor if I gave you the bunny slopes. Although I have been told that I am cute…in a sort of seasonal vegetable sort of a way." Eyes back down to the terminal, as she finishes programming in the permutations, "Looks like we're set here. You ready to get in there and play with someone else's stick?"

"What makes you think I take anything seriously?" he chides, dipping his chin and flashing those big, brown eyes, that puckish curve to his mouth not at all abating. Slipping into the pilot seat of the mock cockpit, he cracks, "I play with mine so much, might as while try my hand at another. Variety. Spice. Life. Somethin' like that." On goes the helmet.

"Oh, well in that case, I'll just sign off on you right now, shall I? Let the CAG know she can put you into the pilot rotation?" But despite the flippant tone of her voice, Leyla doesn't sound as though she's going to be doing that anytime soon. "My job is to make sure you have the skills to keep yourself alive, and handle yourself against any other pilot out there. And you can be damned sure I'm going to do my job." Leyla sets on her own helmet, before she hops into Trask's sim, settling into the spot for the ECO, though she pointedly allows the computer to run the ECO program. Just another way to annoy the SL. "Alright, SAR program coming online in 35 seconds."

Some(one/thing) needs to be running the backboard because Bootstrap isn't. If the plan is to annoy the man, he gives no indication that it's working. Maybe he thinks the AI will do a better job than his instructor. "News flash, Sweet Pea," he points out, her callsign sounding less like a callsign and more like what an uppity broad in a film noir flick gets called, "if I had any doubts you were (1) capable of doing this job, and (2) actually going to /do/ it, it wouldn't be your job." Buckled in, pre-flight checks are the first thing on the docket.

Whatever the pilot might think, she doesn't let on, settling comfortably at the ECO's seat, body turned so that she can see the screen ahead, having even keyed in the fake ECO voice, picking out the worst accented one she could find, which sounds…well, very similar to Skeeter's. If Skeeter were a man from Picon. "Such faith in my abilities, Boots. I'm touched. Really." Still flippant, but who knows, perhaps part of her is. When the program boots up, it's explosions and fireworks and daredevil looptiloops all a-go-go. The ECO reports, "Viper S-105 is disabled, requesting retrieval from field of engagement." And what a field it is, filled to the brim with the bleeding red dots of raiders, the slightly less bleeding orange dots of vipers and a frakton of yellow as the main firefight seems to be happening not but a few meters away from the battlestar's firing solution. A solution the disabled viper is steadily drifting closer to.

Pre-flight checks completed, Trask announces, "Ready for the green light. How's it lookin' back there?" Only once all things are go will he request permission to launch.

Once the computerized ECO gives the green light, so too does the program, though it flashes up letters on the virtual screen to simulate the LSO granting permission for launch. Once the ship does launch, the firefight is still going strong as ever, hairy as a shaggy dog, and that viper is now dangerously close to the battlestar's firing solution, which only helps to add more debris into the field, as raiders and heavy raiders are chewed up and spit back out as bits into space. "Viper pilot reporting they cannot eject from the viper without hitting flak fire from above." So, the package is remaining in the box.

<FS3> Trask rolls Raptors: Failure.

Cue the propulsion and then the throttle. Harrier-013 has left the building. The Raptor's paint job doesn't even get a scratch from being too close to the proverbial garage door. For all intents and purposes, it's a clean launch. "Where's our boy located?" is called to Sweet Pea while Trask bobs over some debris. Brown eyes assess the scene outside the window, which is a vista of carnage that even a skilled pilot would find !fun. Old habits die hard, though, and his attention flits towards the monitor far more than a pipelined pilot's would. Worse yet, what's running upfront is woefully lacking when compared to the party going on in back.

All which means he's not watching the road like he should. And /that/ means he runs into a bit of debris that acts like a space pothole. The paint job, it be scratched. Thankfully, nothing was broken. Bootstrap, however, is severely annoyed.

"Drifting at oh-nine-five carom seven." Leyla isn't taking over the ECO console herself, but she can answer Trask's calls for information. Even she could only handle a few lines of computer-boy-Skeeter. "We've got—" BAM, "Incoming." Classic case of eyes up gets you around safer as a pilot than eyes down as an ECO. Once the debris hits the raptor, Leyla's voice comes again, not flippant, not chiding, but smooth and controlled. Whatever she might have said to the CAG about her plans for the SL, beating training into him wasn't part of it, "Eyes up, Boots. The DRADIS up there sucks balls, compared to what you're used to back here. And there's a delay on it, just a fraction, because it's routed from back here to up there. Your eyes are going to be your best asset, even more so than your stick." She does pay close attention to the way in which he maneuvers to get control, "Ease up on the yaw jets. Don't think of this as a ship. Think of it as a flying brick. You've got to ease her back into position." There's something in Leyla's tone. Love. Not for the SL, but for the art of flying. Something she clearly wants to convey to the man.

The DRADIS up front sucks? Really? "Yeah. So does a Gemenese virgin on her wedding night." It's not as though the ECO is ignorant about avionics. He's acutely aware how all that works in every aspect of the ship. It doesn't change the fact that his ingrained responses are trumping what he knows are the /correct/ responses for someone who isn't a backseat driver. "Nice as my eyes are, my stick is demanding a vote." As for bricks… "Not a cinder block?" is the dry reply. Even so, he does as instructed, eventually leveling out. "Plot the trajectory, if you haven't already." It helps to remain on course when visuals are a mess.

Marko makes his way into the sim room, laptop in one hand, Viper manual in the other. Needless to say, he's more than a bit surprised to see Trask and Leyla in before him. Not to mention embarrassed. "Eh…Hey Boss." he says, blushing at being caught out. "How…How's it going?" he asks lamely, giving Leyla a desperate 'help me' kind of look.

"Well," comes Leyla's reply, as she watches the ECO program recalculate, once Trask has leveled off the bird, "if you're very good, I'll see about getting you one from Scorpia instead. I've heard they know all the good tricks going in. Trajectory recalculated. Viper is drifting closer to the flak ring." Leyla returns to watching SL, who's seated in the pilot's seat of their sim, Leyla in the back, in the ECO spot, "Your eyes tell your hands what to do. You have to be looking everywhere, calculating the leading edge of anything coming into your trajectory. Anticipate where it's going to be when you get there. Then calculate where you need to be to avoid it." Still, her tone is calm. Still no judgements, as she watches Trask, and watches the simulated battlefield in front of them. A combat SAR from the looks of it. Vipers and raiders fighting it out, scrap and shrapnel everywhere, a flak ring running perilously close to where a disabled Viper is waiting for rescue. "We're saving the day, Flasher."

<FS3> Trask rolls Raptors: Good Success.

Lo and behold! When Kal actually keeps his eyes on the road, he appears to have a really good idea as to what he's supposed to be doing and the ability to actually do it. True enough, despite a high level of manual dexterity, his hand-eye coordination is pretty average. He does, however, have a deep-seated aversion to getting hit. Thanks, dad! When Scorpia is mentioned, the reply is a 'Pfffft!' "No way. Aerilon girls are where it's at. You have any inkling as to the kind of stuff they do to keep their men away from Flossie an' her friends?" Less than before, the SL glances at his LAMEDIS, but it's still something he needs to work on. "Stick around, Scaurus. We may yet still require a suitable sacrifice."

Marko watches the flight with great interest, frowning a little at the resolution on the video. "Okay, I have got to work on the graphics." he comments to himself, making a note in the margins of his already-heavily inked manual. "It's a wonder he can tell what the hell he's doing." he sighs, making additional notes as he watches how the simulated experimental craft behaves in flight and making more notes as he watches. "Sounds like fun, Boss."

"Alright, we're getting into a distance where we need to start thinking about our approach to that Viper. We've got two things to consider. First, arresting their drift towards the flak ring, and second, getting them to us and out of the way of that firefight. How would you approach them?" At the moment, the raptor is flying on a straight intercept course, which would put them nose to cockpit on the viper, if things stay as they should be, with both ships canopies up, and skids down. But the closer they get to the flak ring, the more debris keeps cropping up in the way. "All things considered, the graphics aren't that bad. You tend to get a lot of afterimages in your vision, especially when things are exploding all around you, your eyes have a hard time adjusting to the changing levels of light."

VAQs, being assault squadrons, primarily assault. They blow up stuff and deploy ground troops. SAR really isn't their thing. So, when Bootstrap is asked what he would do, he wryly replies, "Ideally, whatever won't get anyone killed. Since I really have no idea what that is, I'd veer to swing around an' hope to frak the hook latches without hitch." Which means then they'd be going away from the flak ring.

"Heh, trust me, I've got some modeling software that'll make it look a heck of a lot better than that." Marko calls in response to Leyla's claim. "How is she handling?" he asks, moving over to the central console to check the displays there. "What you've got now, Boots, is basically an Alpha version."

Leyla turns to look at her ECO, flashing him a look, but she refrains from making any comment. Instead, she'll just focus on the sim, and what's going on there. "Ideally, the focus is always on getting in, getting out and keeping everyone alive. So yes, your idea is a good one. Come in under the viper, flip over on your back, so your skids are facing theirs, keeps your eyes on what's coming up on top of you, while you get into position and grapple the viper with your cables. You won't be able to see the viper once you do, so finding the proper position, calculating for drift and holding it is going to be key."

No, seriously. This is /so/ not what VAQs do. "You're frakkin' with me, right?" Trask honestly sounds as though he's not believing what he's been told to do really is what he's supposed to do. All the same, he starts to make an undercarriage approach.

Marko winces a little at Leyla's look and decides that discretion really is the better part of valor. Thus, he continues to watch the show, check the console's displays and scribble quick notes as Trask performs his first SAR mission.

"No, I'm not kidding with you. You're effecting a rescue, this is the best way to make that rescue, with the minimal chance of damage to yourself or the viper that you are trying to retrieve. Now move into position, and on your mark, I will launch the grappling cables. Keep an eye on the viper's drift, and compensate with thrusters to match." Only once Trask gives her the okay to try to catch the viper will she let the ECO program do what it needs to do.

<FS3> Trask rolls Raptors: Success.

"Ohhhhkaaaaaaay." Kal's not convinced but what the hells, right? He's honestly survived crazier scenarios. Granted, he was in the backseat. "So, at what point do I flip?" So far, he's managing to avoid assorted flotsam, jetsam, and incoming fire.

It might be that other teachers might tell a student to 'figure it out', but that's not Leyla's way. Instead, she continues to monitor the way Trask is moving the raptor, and she talks him through as best she can, "Alright, we're coming up on target. You've got the leading edge heading straight to the flak ring, so we're directly in the wake of the viper's trajectory. You know the grappling cables are directly under where your seat would normally be in the back, so you flip when you know that if you keep the raptor steady, the grappling cables will hit it directly under the area where the wings attach to the main body."

<FS3> Trask rolls Raptors: Bad Failure.

To his credit, the SL lines up just fine, pulling beneath the Viper. When he attempts the 180 degree horizontal flip is when things start to go horribly wrong. Accommodating for the drift isn't an issue, and his background in aerospace dynamics actually proves beneficial in getting into proper position, albeit more slowly than an experienced stick. Therein, perhaps, is where the problem resides, for the Raptor gets completely blindsided by enemy fire while he's distracted.


"Frak!" is exclaimed with intense irritation. The force of the blow and the general 'wtf?' are enough to cause an accidental increase in the throttle that Trask is unable to correct in time.


The rear thrusters of the bigger bird scrape against the undercarriage of the flying serpent, no small amount of momentum behind that impact.

Oh my….The Squad Leader's just dinged up his bird in the sims, right in front of two subordinates. And while, no doubt, there is an element of grim humor in watching this particular train wreck unfold, Marko knows that the man's never done this before in his life. Besides, he's also the Squad Leader and laughter, no matter how understandable the reaction might be for some, is guaranteed to get him in shit up to his ears. Needless to say, he doesn't laugh, nor does he smile. No sir, Marko is a good little second John and merely nods a little as he distracts himself with other things.

And that extra hard thrust is all the viper needs, the added inertia sending it straight into an spin, that tumbles it into the flak ring, and *BOOM*. No more viper. Mission failed. The rain at least patters down, or would, if this were a real raptor, all down the belly of the raptor, which is now caught in the radius of the viper's explosion. Perhaps it's a small mercy, when the sim shuts down, sensing the end of the mission objective, whether or not they managed to rescue the viper. Once it's off the grid, so is the sim. "What caused the crash at the end, Boots?" This is The Important Point(tm). And there's not even a hint of amusement from Leyla. Nor anger, or pique. It is what it is, a learning experience. "A mistake often teaches better than a success. So what mistake did you make?"

He's frowning. Somewhere between annoyed, brooding, and sulky. There is no tantrum, though. Only the peeved knit of his brow, the clenching of his jaw, and the tightened grip upon the stick. "I got hit," is Bootstrap's sardonic snark of an answer.

Marko continues to make himself as inconspicuous as possible, even though he does listen to the exchange, hoping to pick up a few tips.

"Yes, you did. There were two reasons for that, from what I read of your attempt. The first, is that you were too slow to make the flip to line yourself up with the viper. That's something that's going to come with more practice. I know you know how to pilot. Everyone who graduates the ECM pipeline does. But handling a raptor under training conditions at the academy, and in the rare instances where you might have to handle her if your pilot is injured, where your only goal, often, is to RTB as fast as your thrusters can carry you, doesn't teach you everything that you need to know about piloting."

"Just like there are good ECOs and bad ones, there are good pilots and bad ones. Ones that have a feel for flying and ones that don't. A good pilot does two things. They trust their raptor. They trust what the raptor can do, they know what the raptor can do, they take the stick knowing that the raptor will do what they want it to do when they want it to do it. Fly a raptor enough, and you're going to learn all its little quirks and foibles. The second thing a good pilot does, is they trust themselves. They trust they can do the job, they plot out every contingency, and they have the confidence in themselves that what their mind wants to do, their hands will follow through with."

"The second reason things went badly, is that you didn't keep your eyes up. And by that, I mean that you needed to be doing two things. Lining up with the viper and keeping your head up for incoming debris or ordinance or attack from the enemy units in the area. You're never just doing one thing as a pilot, just like you're never doing just one thing as an ECO. You need to make sure you're always aware of everything going on around you, even things that don't seem to be related to your job at all."

"That's precisely why I picked a SAR scenario, rather than an assault one, like I usually run with Bunny. Because if you can pilot, you can pilot in any situation." Which is precisely why good raptor pilots can transfer from EW to L&S to Assault and back again. "But if you can't pilot, you're useless in every situation." Leyla takes a moment, before she continues, "My goal, my job is to make you a good pilot. To give you the tools you need to be able to fly in any situation."

"Yeah, well," he says a bit petulantly, "that's also why a good ECO is important." Some heads-up notice is always a beautiful thing. "And why I'd never pair one rook with another." Virtual male Skeeter with the Piconese accent Officially Sucks. Trask takes his lumps, though, being well-aware of his limits and shortcomings. Indeed, it might come as a surprise that the only other thing he has to add, which he does in a self-deprecating manner, is, "That's why I'm here… although that really was rather epic as far as fails go." Wryly, he smirks. That said, he fires up the simpod and asks, "Same scenario?"

Hearing Leyla speak like an instructor, and a pretty good one, by the sound of it, is an interesting experience for Marko, who never knew his pilot had anything like that in her background. For a moment, he considers volunteering for a few lessons himself, then, chuckling softly, dismisses the idea. "One landing with me and she'd never wanna get in a Raptor again." he says to himself, shaking his head sadly. How he got through flight school, he'll never know.

Leyla doesn't have a teaching certificate, or some shiny Pilot Instructor merit badge, but what she does have is enough years removed from the safety and security of the colonies that you learned to do for yourself, and teach others how to do the same, "A good ECO is important, there's no question about that. However, just like you could be forced to pilot when your pilot is injured, so too can a pilot be forced to fly with no ECO to back him up." Leyla's first sim with Bunny comes to mind. ZombieBunny. "A pilot and his ECO are a team, a pair that never functions as well apart as they do together. But there are going to be times when you will have to fly alone. And all you can do in those times is do the job until you can't." She does look over, briefly, as she takes care of her own side of resetting, "Boots, be a love and do a girl a favour. Schedule Marko for some piloting sim time, would you?" Her ECO is flashed Leyla's most patently false winningest smile, before she turns back to the sim. And that's it for instructor Leyla, as Trask moves to key up a second run at the scenario. "Alright, let's go again from the beginning. Back on the deck prepping for pre-flight checks. The program will change up the variables of the combat and a few other elements, but the retrieval will remain your primary goal."

And then, they're off.

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