PHD #278: EVENT - Strength In Numbers
Strength In Numbers
Summary: The sparker-filled debris fields surrounding Wreath-of-Roses get swept clean by the Harriers and the Screwtops.
Date: 01 Dec 2041 AE
Related Logs: Trashed & Judgement Call
Belgoin Benjamin Bran Leyla Marko Trask Hydra NPC 
Tauron - Debris Field Orbiting Wreath-of-Roses
A frakton of debris. In space.
Post-Holocaust Day: #278

Like the aftermath of a bull in a china shop. That pretty much sums up the debris fields surrounding Tauron and its two moons. Except china shops tend to not be rigged with electronic warfare traps that can flood the systems of a Raptor or Viper to the point that the ship effectively powers down and requires a hard reboot to regain functionality. Oh, and then there are the explosives.

Even though it is currently possible to travel to and fro the planet's surface, the lunar region known as Wreath-of-Roses is another matter entirely. Lords know that the repulsively uber rich simply must have all manner of high-end, high-tech items that might be beneficial to the acquire. At the very least, there surely is a frakton of potent prescription drugs to be found in many a mansion.

It is with this in mind that the VAQ-141 assembles to clear the path. With such a massive area of space to cover, the ExLORAD of the CF Corsair has been fired-up, much to the delight of Colonel Pewter who's all too proud to let his beloved Corsie shine. Not to be outdone, the Screwtops from the CEX Areion have agreed to assist with the bomb sweeping — and to show-off the boosted electronic warfare capabilities of their networked ECM suites.

"Flasher, let me know when and if you pick up anything." Leyla is settled in at the pilot's seat, back in her beloved Bertha. All cleared and ready to fly. Which she's currently doing, piloting her way out of the hangar of the Cerberus, moving out into position for deployment.

Indeed, Colonel Pewter was tickled to make full use of his old ship's mad DRADIS skills. The colonel is still, in many ways, just a caretaker on the Cerberus. The old man's heart is with the flak frigate. The smaller, older ship has moved into position not far off from where the Raptors have launched.

Meanwhile, at Spook Central Areion, a flight of Raptors from its Screwtops squadron have taken to the field. Also to form up with the Harriers. Hail, hail, the gang's all here.

[TAC3] "Sweet Pea" Leyla says, "Flight, Harrier-307. We've cleared the Cerberus and are on our way to our rendezvous point with the Corsair."

"Okay, Sweet Pea." Marko calls from his station in the back of the bus. "Everything's powered up. Ready to start passive sweeps the second we're clear," he says, tapping a few commands into the ECO's station. "Say hello to the Screwtops." he comments as the Aerion's Raptors appear on his DRADIS, then he gives the screen the fickle finger of faith. "Hello, Screwtops."

Part of this excursion is to watch the ECM upgrades in action, which means that Trask is actually riding in the backseat of the Screwtops' SL.

Major Winifred "Tango" Foxley, SL of the Screwtops, flies sleekly out of the Areion in one of its Raptors. Outwardly, no different from those the Harriers are driving. If they have those mad skills they claim to, they've yet to display them. "I do hope the ride won't be too uncomfortable for you, Waffle," the prim Caprican pilot says to Belgoin with a fond smile. A less fond, more speculative, "And I do hope you find this entertaining… Bootstrap, is it? Charming."

[TAC3] (from "Bootstrap" Trask) So charming, in fact, that the Major is made to wait a moment as Trask relays, "Corsair, Bootstrap. We're in position. Pull those rabbits outta the hat an' we'll make 'em disappear."

[TAC3] "Toast" Cidra (Tango) "Flight, Tango. Areion wing coming into formation. I *do* look forward to seeing what you lot are made of." She sounds as if they will be graded.

"I'll be fine, Tango. Busses aren't designed for luxury," comes Captain Belgoin's response, although the man shifts uncomfortably in his seat, rubbing at his left knee. His ever-present walking cane is tucked out of the way behind a passenger chair. "I swear, one of these days I'll get around to designing a more comfortable Raptor. Perhaps one with hydraulics and… what do you call those absurd spinning things?" He chuckles at his own joke, hopefully to dispel any tension shared in the cabin.

"I'm easily amused, Tango," Trask replies jovially enough. "Easily impressed is another matter entirely." Looks like the would-be evaluator is also being evaluated. Without missing a beat, he adds adds to Belgoin, "Absurd." That what absurd spinning things are called. heh.

"The Lords are my keeper. They shall preserve me from all evil; they shall preserve my soul, my going out and my coming in, from this time forth, and even forevermore," murmurs Sam Bran under his breath. It's the last of his prayers for strength and diligence, guidance from the Lords themselves as he plays ECO for Payback. He focuses on the tasks at hand. "Look at that," pipes up Bran, aiming at being personable now as he eyes over his instruments. "The gang's all here."

It's been a few years since retired Colonel Benjamin "Payback" Cincinnatus flew a proper mission. He still knows how to wheel a Rapor. He was a CAG in his day, after all. "No need to kiss up to the gods too hard, Pens. I ain't going to get us killed," he jokes back to Bran. Pausing a beat and adding, "Lords willing." He laughs as he says it, so it's *probably* still a joke. "But gods all-mighty. Feels good to be in a bus again for proper work."

[TAC3] "Toast" Cidra (Corsair) And from the Corsair comes the very energetic voice of their Officer of the Watch. "Bootstrap, Corsair Actual. Read you loud and clear. Lighting them up on my mark. Five, four, three, two…. mark!"

"Yeah, can you tell how glad I am to see them, Flasher?" Yeah, the smile is just plastered all over Sweet Pea's face. Not. "You know, I understand why Boots is over there. I mean, if we have to have a mole on the inside, we couldn't ask for one better, but I don't like him being out of our protection." Well, she could say more and likely would, but that's when Boots give the go-ahead to the Corsair, and she quiets, waiting out the response from the flak frigate.

The EXtreme LOng-RAnge DRADIS (or EXLORAD, if you're an acronym-lover) system provides triple the effective coverage of the standard battlestar unit. So the Corsair makes a hell of a scout, and is very good at electronically digging for information in places no other big ship can. Not even the spooky, tricked-out Areion. It unleashes the full force of its intensive scanning systems and its screens light up with little red spots not a heart-beat later. Those readings are promptly transmitted to the Raptors in the field. About a dozen 'contacts' in all, scattered throughout the debris field. As the electronics feel them up, they respond. Subtly at first. Generating mildly with garbled, not-precisely-intelligible pulses. Leyla would recognize that all too well, as would anyone who studied the recording she picked up on her ill-fated trip into Debris Town. Well, they've found them. Now, to deal with them.

"Oh, I copy you five by five on that one, Sweet Pea." Marko replies, "I don't trust those guys any further than I can throw 'em." he notes grimly. Then his DRADIS scope fills with contacts as the Corsair's uplink starts spitting out data packets. "Okay, Sweet Pea, we're looking at twelve, repeat, one two contacts. Closest one to us is bearing two one four carom one six niner."

In order to cover all the necessary ground within the window of opportunity, the two squadrons must spread out. Now is the time for the pilots to wing it to the section they were allocated during the mission brief.

<FS3> Leyla rolls Raptors: Good Success.
<FS3> Cidra rolls 6 for Payback: Great Success.
<FS3> Cidra rolls 7 for Tango: Great Success.

[TAC3] "Bootstrap" Trask says, "Flight, Bootstrap. As soon as you're within range, hold your position and commence jamming. Wander too close and you may end up part of this debris field."

"Got them," Major Foxley notes with a note of satisfaction, locking in on the signal nearest her and swooping toward her mark. She seems to almost dance around the debris. Showing off? Perhaps. "Rims, Waffle?" she guesses, as to his comment. His seeming attempt to break the tension makes her chuckle. "Bootstrap here is a bit leery of our networked ECM system. I *do* hope we won't disappoint him terribly." A throaty chuckle escapes her. She is *quite* confident they will live up to the hype. A pause, "Lieutenant Trask, I hope you won't disappoint, either."

"That-," Bran pauses long enough to look down in the general direction of his lap and then in glancing sidelong over towards his pilot he eases his shoulders into a shrug. Lords willing, he won't get killed by the Old Guy. Lords willing. Brave face, wills of steel, even a bit of a loose and confident grin, has Bran patiently waiting and then relaying all of the relevant information Payback could ever need as they go gallivanting off to save the day. "I do happen to love the Corsair."

"I see them, Flasher, moving to your location." In this instance, Leyla is just the driver. Once she gets them to their designated location, it's going to be her ECO's call when and where they set up. After all, he's going to be the one doing all the hard work, "Moving in to approach. Commence jamming as soon as we fullstop inside range."

The old guy does not kill Bran. In fact, Payback can still fly like a pro. He hums to himself as he does it, some Leonis country tune. "She's got pretty eyes, she do," he agrees with Bran, as to the Corsair.

"There's nothing wrong with a linked system, contrary to prior experience with the Cylons," Belgoin advises. He takes on an air of an instructor or a mentor rather than someone butt-hurt having their work criticized. No emotional damage here. Rather, he's fairly emotionally even-keel, for an Areion officer. "We're sufficiently satisfied from our simulations that the Cylons, at this time, cannot crack our firewalls and our security algorithms in the time windows in which we use them. Given enough time, anyone can crack anything, but it takes sophistication in order to break through in short order." He casts a sidelong glance at the relayed DRADIS display. "That's a lot of red," he mutters under his breath.

<FS3> Marko rolls Ecm -10: Success.
<FS3> Trask rolls Ecm-10: Good Success.
<FS3> Bran rolls Ecm -10: Success.

"You got it, Sweet Pea." Marko replies, keying up the Raptor's ECM suite. "Okay, jammer's set." he reports. "Commencing jamming now, now, now." and with that, the switch is flicked and the space around the Raptor is filled with more than enough noise to keep their sector quiet.

These sparkers are crude but effective. In a near-synchronicity, all the ECOs commence the jamming. It is a rousing success… in buying more time before the traps are triggered into explodeyness. Energy build-ups are definitely registering on the sensors.

"If you're lookin' to get hitched an' pop out some sprogs, Major, I'll save you the heartache and tell you right off that I will most certainly disappoint in that respect." As far as his job performance goes, Bootstrap is delivering.

Marko spends 1 luck points on ECM-20 roll.
<FS3> Marko rolls ECM-20: Good Success.

Trask spends 1 luck points on No Go Explodey.
<FS3> Trask rolls Ecm-20: Success.

"I'm not the breeding kind, Lieutenant," is Tango's rather prim reply. "Nor are you my type." Belgion may need to work some more to keep the mood in the Raptor happy after that one. Still, she sticks to her work. "In any case, the Areion and all her systems were *designed* with anti-Cylon security in mind. It'll take more than these little diddies to muss with us." She eyes the red. "Crude, but useful if one is ignorant enough to stumble into them. I shall not miss them, however." She takes her eyes briefly off the road to flick a look over her shoulder at Trask. Judging Screwtops SL is judging.

Bran spends 1 luck points on Minesweepin'funsies.
<FS3> Bran rolls Ecm -20: Terrible Failure.

Jam away, Bran synchronizes his actions with the others though the man is glancing aside again in Payback's direction. The hummed song isn't familiar. "What is that? The tune," but he's still paying attention to the DRADIS before him, for the most part.

Leyla, for obvious reasons, can't tell what's going on with the sparker they're currently jamming. She's not close enough for a visual, thank goodness, and she's not in a position to look over Marko's shoulder. But as he doesn't immediately start cursing, it must be going well, right? Right?

"So far, so good." Marko notes for Sweet Pea's benefit, keeping his own eyes locked on the DRADIS screen and the ECM suite's readouts. "Whatever the Toasters left behind to frak with us is blind and deaf right about now."

That song that Pens doesn't recognize? It's now joined by a harmony of blip-blip-blip on the DRADIS that accelerates into a crescendo of 'zOMG! GONNA GO BOOM!'

There is no sound in space, but there is one hell of a light show. Oh, and shrapnel zooming towards the Raptor at alarming speed. When the explosive goes off, it sets off a chain-reaction that culminates in a nearby rusted freighter's already unstable fuel tank igniting and set to blow.

<FS3> Cidra rolls 6-20 for Payback: Success.
<FS3> Belgoin rolls Electrical Engineering+25: Good Success.

Belgoin offers a crooked smile towards his Friendly Neighborhood Bus Driver. "Romance with a lady with distinguished tastes is like a fine cigar from Leonis: it burns slow, it's to be savored, and it's definitely not for children. I…" Any other sophisticated smile-making will have to wait, as several warning indicators light up on the nearby console. "Well, that's not good. Lieutenant Trask, your assistance please." The engineer leans over to the ECO's console and begins tapping at it, bringing up some sophisticated automated software routines. "That should cover your poor errant Raptor, there, Boots. Please verify." He sits back in his seat again, resuming rubbing his knee, as if Payback and Pens were in no real danger. "I'll have to speak to that ECO over there," he murmurs.

Payback stops humming. That's not music he likes. "Frak. Just like back in the bad old days…" he mutters, desperately wrangling ship. "Hang onto your ass, Pens… reminds me of flying around Sagittaron back in the War…" the first one, he no doubt means. Perhaps this will induce a flashback. And perhaps it does, but it might be for the good, as he does actually manage to dodge the incoming shrapnel.

Trask isn't some posh Caprican's type? Pshaw. Surely, the Major doth protest too much or is a lesbian. Whatever the case may be, Bootstrap isn't the least bit upset that Tango doesn't wanna dance the horizontal hula with him. "I'm more the sort who just goes through the motions," of breeding, and whatever else was going to be said gets cuts off by a simple, resounding, "Frak." And /that/ gives way to a bemused look at Belgoin who is suddenly all up in the ECO's space. If this were a Harriers bus, the good Captain would likely get thwapped. "Verify that Payback is haulin' ass outta there?" And, really, that is some very impressive flying from the old salt.

Even Leyla, sitting up in the pilot's seat can't miss the sudden explosion lighting up her DRADIS, and she's read and reread the sector assignments enough that she knows every raptor in every sector. And that means knowing it's Payback and Pens trying to fly their way out of the eye of the storm. A more emotional woman might be jumping out of her seat, maybe even beating her fists uselessly at the viewport, as if her upset could make Payback fly better (and really it couldn't, he's aces), or Pens to help him navigate his way out of danger more effectively (and really, she knows Pens well enough to know he's doing his damned best). But… she isn't. Instead, her hands simply tighten on her hand controls, her voice perfectly calm as she calls over the comms, "Payback, Pens, what's your status?" Sorry, she has to ask.

Marko doesn't see the explosion with his naked eye, of course, but it makes for one hell of a DRADIS signature. "

[TAC3] (from "Bootstrap" Trask) No sooner than Leyla is checking the status of Payback and Pens, Trask quips, "You done showin' off, Colonel? Over." As if the explosion was somehow planned. He's so cheeky in his tone, maybe it was.

Marko doesn't see the explosion with his naked eye, of course, but it makes for one hell of a DRADIS signature. "Gods beneath us!" he calls out, frantically double-checking the status of the ECM field his Raptor's pumping out. "Okay, okay… our section of the grid's stable." he reports. "Frak…. if I have a heart attack, I sure hope you know what to do, Sweet Pea."

[TAC3] "Flasher" Marko says, "Lead, Flasher, our section is stable, repeat, our section is stable. Somebody remind me to thank Pens for scaring the living frak outta me."

Payback lets Bran respond to Trask and Leyla's radio query. This is technically the ECO's territory, after all. He's just a loner. "Well, haven't seen one of those in years," he observes to Bran. With almost humor. He even chuckles grimly.

[TAC3] "Bootstrap" Trask says, "Copy that, Flasher, on all counts."

Other reports of defused sparkers start trickling in.

"Oh, frak," is about all Bran can get out before there is explosions. That trap wasn't there the last time he checked and he trusts himself that he's been checking every other second by the second, but he's not dead yet. With not being dead, he handles the voices filtering in and replies in turn.

[TAC3] "Pens" Bran says, "This is Pens, we're - uh - we're green, wasn't expecting that but everything's in the clear."

"I passed basic first aid. Just plug you into the electrical system and crank it up to ten, right? Like jumping a dead battery." Leyla's voice is still quiet, still calm, even after she hears Pen's response, the only reaction she does give is a slightly longer blink of her eyes than would strictly be necessary. They're okay.

[TAC3] "Sweet Pea" Leyla says, "Copy that, Pens."

"Heh, yeah, that would do it." Marko replies with a little chuckle as his heart rate slowly unwinds back to normal. "So what's the plan to deal with these things permanently?" he asks. "Send out a few Vipers and dust 'em that way?" he muses. "You know, maybe we oughta hang on to one of them." he says, more to himself than anyone else. "Give us some new tech to pick apart."

Round One done, ExLORAD rings the proverbial bell for Round Two. Defusing the devices and detonators in this section of the debris field goes off with no further mishaps, all the way until there is one lone sparker remaining. Towards it go the two SLs and Waffle.

[TAC3] "Bootstrap" Trask says, "Flight, Bootstrap. Gather 'round, kids. It's demonstration time."

Belgoin tilts his head to the side, peering at Kal. "Verify, naturally, that our enhanced ECM routines… linked, of course, with Areion's sophisticated computers and boosted by her power supply, was able to cover the hole created by your ECO. I'm not trying to stir up anything, here, Lieutenant," the Captain puts up a hand, trying to look as innocent as possible. "There are merits to our system. As we're going to fully display now."

The Areion SL proceeds her Raptor to the last flagged trap at a leisurely pace that almost looks like coasting. Almost. "What precisely was it you wanted me to do, Lieutenant Trask? Allow this pulse to leech and down my system? I do not mind playing dumb if it will allow you to see how our network operates as a tightly-coordinated and unified entity." Her voice has a certain tone. As if 'You could learn something there, boyo.' A pause. "I am *quite* confident my people can manage to overwhelm this thing if and when we are disabled."

As soon as Leyla receives the call from Boots, she starts in to the rendezvous coordinates, using the time to answer Flasher, "According to Payback, the right jamming used to be able to permanently fry the trap's signals. Though it would be up to Poppy to send her Knights in to clean them up for good. I wouldn't mind getting a look at one though, just to see it." Figuring out what to DO with it exactly, is more Marko's domain. She's just the astrophysicist. He's the hacker. She can see the Areion's SL taking the raptor in, however. "If that woman so much as gives Boots a broken fingernail, I'm going to punch her right in the face. And then you can have Raine deliver my pie to the brig."

[TAC3] "Waffle" Belgoin says, "Areion CIC, this is Captain Belgoin. We'll be going full utilization on this run. Stand by."

"Heh, which she will do with great aplomb, I'm sure." Marko chuckles. "Oh, listen, they're going to full utilization… wooo." he snerks, rolling his eyes a little. "She won't hurt Boots, though." he sighs. "If she did, she wouldn't have anyone to show off for." he comments acidly. "Well, 'cept for the Major, and we all know how easily impressed she is." he smirks

"Fancy sorts, ain't they?" Payback observes blandly to Bran.

Blandly, the Lieutenant regards the Captain. It is the kind of look that would make a person of lesser confidence feel self-conscious. "I wasn't aware your enhanced ECM could trump physics by preventing the detonation of any other explosives that may have been within the blast radius." The only hole Kal is seeing is in Belgoin's sales pitch. Then with a beautiful display of sarcastic sycophancy, he says to Tango, "If you would be oh so gracious, I'd like to be impressed by more than Payback's flying." Twice, he blinks, for effect.

That woman, aka Tango, is doing precisely what Leyla did not so long ago in this same field. Drifting closer and closer to the pulse. "Do stay off the jamming suite if you please, Lieutenant Trask. The exercise is pointless if you try to interfere." She coasts within range and then… hard stop. *Jolt*. The pulse has frakked their system hard, just as it did Leyla's, and just as Major Foxley seemed well aware it would. "Thank you, Waffle," she says simply to his addition over the comm. Calm as calm can be, despite the fact that she's just crippled a ship likely adjacent to an explosive device. "If you would have paid attention to Captain Belgoin's schematics, you *might* have a better understanding of what is about to happen. But. I'll send you something with pictures to better elaborate."

"Heh - that's a good way at putting things at least," chimes Bran to Payback.

"Now, now, Major, we're all friends here," says Belgoin as he again leans forward to peck at the mostly useless controls. "Standard controls not responding. Awaiting Areion's automated response." And with that, he flashes a nervous smile at Kal. "And now the magic happens."

"I never was much for book learnin'," Trask blithely quips, before asking Belgoin, "Ah, but are we all electrical engineers, here?" Forget being friends. As far as magic goes, "Here's hopin' it's not like that one trick where the bird in the cage gets crushed when the magician makes it disappear."

It's hard to tell precisely what the Areion's Raptor network is doing in a ship outside the link but Trask has a (somewhat garbled at the moment) view of some of it. He probably *will* have to check a log from a fully functional ship to see how it actually worked, on the back-end. But as the pulse fritzes Tango's systems and starts warming up whatever piece of spatial debris its rendered flammable, there is a blip the Harriers' can detect over their comms.

As Tango is - quickly, efficiently and ruthlessly given her situation - cut out of the network. But, at least in this demonstration, the Screwtops aren't just leaving her stranded. They promptly pour down, without missing a beat. One of Tango's compatriots nearby promptly directs the full power his jamming suite on the sparker she's stalled by. And *this* the Harriers could see quite well on their DRADIS. As the other Screwtop vessel pretty much fries any electrical component that trap might contain in a laser-like, focused ECM shot. And it shorts out, with just a mild spark and a blip, before whatever it was linked to can activate. Massive overkill, for the little trap, as they direct a force of power at it that probably could've effectively a handful of Harriers. Amplified in that Raptor by whatever power boost each little ship gets by linking with Big Daddy Areion. But if nothing else, it makes a *VIBRANT* and thrust of bright, powerful green on every functional DRADIS as its put to use. Yeah. The Screwtops work pretty OK.

Belgoin blithely says, maintaining his small but crooked smile, "I'm sure the logs will show all the proof your CAG will need to implement this technique on a wider scale. Think precisely how the synapses and inorganic relays of a Cylon brain is going to react to getting cooked by that level of ECM. Heck, I don't need to know, I've done the math." He clears his throat lightly. "And that, is how they say, we roll," Grin. Even Belgoin can't help but show a little bit of pride for his shipmates.

<FS3> Marko rolls Academic-20: Bad Failure.

"Well, that's new and different." Marko comments simply as his DRADIS screen turns all fun-house-mirror in dribs and drabs of green static. "They networked their ECM generators and launched one big pulse." he adds, pulling the calculator out of his knee board and starting to do a few preliminary equations. "Looks like……." he says, fidgeting in his seat. "Frak…. What's that equation again?" he grumbles, pulling out the manual and flipping through it.

"Are you seeing something I'm not seeing? All I see is raptors moving in to assist a dead ship. Which is exactly what Spiral and Drips did for Skeeter and I. Clearly, I must be missing something." Still settled in her seat, and watching the skies, in between glancing at the DRADIS and all the while listening to Marko's reports. "Sounds rather ineffective to me. Especially if you have friendlies in the area." Thank goodness for the off toggle on her ship to ship link.

Trask will admit to having been entertained. Impressed? If he is, it most certainly doesn't show. "I certainly feel better seeing that something as unsophisticated as a sparker didn't flood your network." It's said with the kind of innocence that is guilty as cardinal sin. "Definitely interested in examining the logs, though. You always were known for creative but effective results, Waffle." Insofar as Belgoin's reputation on the Chimaera was known. And that much is sincere. "If it all pans out, though, I'm sure the Colonel," this one being Pewter, "will be interested in letting Corsie have a bit of fun." And ExLORAD qwns (that's a whole letter more of pwng) anything Areion has to offer. Suck on that, Winnie.

Tango examines her nails. Or makes a show of doing so. She's wearing gloves, after all. "I do not think we're going to explode," she says. "A cold restart should allow us to get going again, if I read the outline of this correctly?" The question seems aimed at Trask. Though she adds in proper business form to Trask, "Certainly. I can get you a copy of all our data. And Commander Kepner is *quite* eager to see if the Corsair's power can be harnessed in our network. There is, quite literally, strength in numbers."

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