PHD #277: Suiting Up
Suiting Up
Summary: In anticipation of the operation into the debris field, Sweet Pea brings Payback out of retirement. Sort of.
Date: 30 Nov 2041 AE
Related Logs: Trashed and Judgement Call
Benjamin Leyla 
Ready Room
With the hatches at the rear of the room, the walkways on both sides slope down towards the dais at the front of the room. The stadium seating forms a partial semi-circle around the speaking podium and provides enough seats for all three hundred members of the Air Wing. The walls are adorned with the patches of each squadron aboard and their mottos stenciled in white lettering above each one. Behind the podium is a set of large LCD screens that can display any matter of material from reconnaissance to maps to gun camera footage.
Post-Holocaust Day: #277

It's become sort of a regular thing, for the taurian pilot to spend her offduty hours over on the civvie freighter…if she can catch a ride on one of the raptors doing transport duty. It's less often that the once resident of the starboard hangar and now new head pilot of said freighter makes it back to the Cerberus. That freighter doesn't fly itself, you know. But today, the retired Colonel had a message delivered, requesting him to report to the Cerberus for debriefing. All official and all. Mostly. And once he arrived aboard, he was directed..not to the hangar bay, or the navy offices, but up to the ready room.

And there, setting up the LCDs at the front of the room, is Sweet Pea, dressed in her flight suit, helmet on the table she's pulled over. Sitting, as it happens, beside a second flight suit, this one obviously larger than she could wear, complete with helmet and all. Images of he debris field have been keyed up, as well as the electronic data collected during her last trip in.

The freighter doesn't fly itself, but old Benjamin "Payback" Cincinnatus has managed to scare up a handful of Nugget washouts to play co-pilots for him. And, parked over Tauron, it ain't really going anywhere. So he didn't have to finagle too much to find an excuse to port over to the battlestar. The old man has taken to looking forward to Leyla's visits, indulging her with stories from the good ole days of the Fleet and his glory years. As one might a favored student, or a grown daughter just coming into her own. He's escorted into the Ready Room, visitor's badge in place, and left in Leyla's care once he arrives. "Sweet Pea," he greets her with a craggy smile. "Heard you all been playing with some dangerous toys out in the trash heap."

"Well, you know I like to hang my tail out there to see what bites." There's a genuine smile for the old salt, a rare thing for Leyla, though not as rare in Payback's vicinity as in the vicinity of others, as she reaches over to pick up the helmet that isn't hers, and once she's close enough, that is to say, once Payback is close enough to her, she tosses it in his direction. "But that's actually what I wanted to talk to you about." And if he happens to look down, the helmet, while it seems to not be, well, new, does have some letters stenciled onto it. Okay, they're sort of the temp stick-on kind, but hey! It was done with some care, so don't judge. On it, COL (ret.) B. Cincinnatus and below it, 'Payback'. "See, normally, I wouldn't be able to do this and all, you being retired. But, I've been given special leave, so…welcome to the Navy. Again."

"Careful, darlin'. You hang out there too far somebody will pull it," Cincinnatus says with a dry chuckle. He catches the helmet easily. His reflexes aren't what they were back on those glory days, but he can still manage that. He looks down at the helmet, looking surprised by puzzled at first. Can't help but grin wider, though. "If they've gotten desperate enough bring the stop-loss back this far, we're in even more trouble than I thought. What's the story, Sweet Pea? The helmet's right nice - might just keep it if I can get it past your equipment techs - but I figure you didn't call me all the way over here for a present. Sweet though it is."

"Well," Leyla offers, settling in to rest a hip against the edge of the table, "While I was debriefing with Boots, he mentioned that the trap we fell into out there is sort of old tech. Or very similar, round about the first war, and I said to myself…you know, there's someone in the fleet who might be able to give us some insight into tactics from the old long ago. So, Boots cleared you, and here you are. I've got all the data keyed up, and all the info we could scrounge, thought you might be able to give us some insight into how they used to do it in the old days, so we can plot ways to maybe avoid it in the future. And…there's an added bonus." But she doesn't specify what that might be just yet.

"You had me at cleared, Sweets," Cincinnatus says, striding over where he can get a better look at the data she's prepared. "Not sure how much help I can be to you, but I don't mind taking a look." No. From the glint in his eyes, he's quite enthused about it. "When you say 'old tech,' what are you getting at? The work crews over on the freighter are buzzing about bombs out in space, but I couldn't make much more sense out of it."

"I'll let you run through the camera footage and the readouts first, if you like. But according to Boots, this trap, essentially an DoS/electrical overload burst to knockout nearby ships, seems to have a lot in common with the sorts of traps they used to lay around their strongholds during the first war. Which let me to wondering if maybe you might have some ideas there. Ways you used to learn to recognize potential hot spots, how you used to avoid or detonate them. We're going out tomorrow, trying to do it all modern and new, but I'm not going to overlook something old school." Payback will of course get the full lowdown. Cylon work, no lasting damage, DoS. Leyla also pulls out the same sheet of paper Boots gave her, outlining the plan to sweep the field.

The old colonel's eyes tick up at that, and he starts the footage. Very interested now. "Sparkers, we used to call them. Or something like them. Dotted a mess of them around Sagittaron during the War…" He clearly means the first one. "…lure you in with a distress signal or a funny blip on the DRADIS you thought might be a contact and…frakked sideways, your lights go out. Not too hard to detect once you know what to look for, but a trick like that only needs to work once."

"No distress call on this one, but we were getting ghost contacts, all around the debris cloud. Couldn't pinpoint where they were coming from, or what was making them. But once we found it, it started sending out a transmission, trying to ping our com systems. Like it was trying to see if we were friend or foe. Like it would reset, if we knew the right code to transmit back." Leyla tries to only speak when spoken to, so as not to interrupt the man's study of the data, "But then when we didn't respond, it popped off. Spiral managed to get clear. I didn't. I wanted to get a visual on it, inside that hangar. I thought I was making the right call, and I nearly died because of it. I couldn't get clear fast enough." Leyla has no trouble admitting it when she screws up.

"Ballsy, going into the unknown like that," Payback says. A silent beat. "Ballsy'll get you killed sometimes. You got lucky, girl. Hope you learned a lesson by it." That's all he says. He's not her CAG or her SL, so it doesn't have to be his place. "The traps we dealt with weren't too bright. You could fry them with pinpointed jamming. If you knew where to point it. You're slow on the DRADIS, slow on the jammers, give them too much time, and you'll just end up setting them off."

"Not to let my curiosity get the better of me. I just…I needed to know. Why did they leave all this debris up here? When they cleared the skies above most of the other colonies. What were they either trying to hide or keep us from. I just had to know." But it really doesn't matter that Payback is neither her CAG or her SL. The one sure thing you can say about someone who's lived as long as he has, and made it through a war that was, in many ways, much more brutal than what happened on Warday is, 'He survived.' And you don't take the words of a survivor lightly. "How did you know where to look? When they were sending out ghost signals? And when you did jam them, how were you sure they were disabled?" It really IS crude tech, more cruder than anything Leyla's run into. It's hard for her to parse.

"That's a hell of a good question, Sweet Pea. Hell of a good question. Wish I knew the answer to it. Doesn't make for easy flying up there in that mule of a freighter, thinking there're probably more of those things lurking out in the black." Cincinnatus sets the helmet he was given down on the table, steepling his lined palms over the top of it. "Unfortunately, you wouldn't usually know where to look for these sons of bitches until you popped one of them off. That's already taken care of. We know they're probably more of them out there. Intensive active DRADIS sweep of a suspect area, mixed with a little wide-band wireless signaling, will usually spot them. Trick is making sure you're far off enough from them that they won't just activate and spark out your system. Need to get right off the DRADIS, on the jamming suite and meanwhile try and keep your firewall electronic defenses up enough that you don't get your ass sparked. The toasters get a bang for their cubit out of these things. They're easy to rig but they can be a damned nuisance to get rid of."

Leyla falls silent, listening, making mental notes, putting the pieces together into a puzzle she can parse more easily than things made of technology probably over twice as old as she is. "We're doing the best we can to keep you safe, Payback. I guess that's the only good thing that did come out of all of this. At least the fleet knows what might be lurking out there. I'll talk to Boots about how you used to locate them, if this networked DRADIS thing goes tits up. Maybe see if we can write a routine to help cut down on the lag time between scanning and jamming." And then there's a pause, "Payback..did anyone ever bring these things back? Pick them apart, or reuse them?" A moment, "It just seems so…strange to me that after all the advances we've seen from them, they'd resort to using things so crude, and then, I wondered, if maybe the reason why they are so crude is because they might be leftovers." Found, collected and sold to dissident groups, of which there were many on Tauron. "Is there any chance that we did this to ourselves?"

"Just because something's old don't mean it don't work anymore, Sweet Pea," Cincinnatus says with a grin that deepens all the lines in his face. "Makes sense to me. Nothing fancy, but they're quick to rig up and you can just leave them to do the job without any looking after. You're trying to make a run in a hurry, you don't have time for anything fancy. Just rig a quick-and-dirty job and hope maybe it does some damage. Not much time lost to you if it doesn't, worse than bloody lips to your enemies if it does." As for dissidents, he frowns. "Leftovers? Hrm. I don't like to figure anybody'd be trading in old Cylon tech. If that's the truth, like I said before, we're in deeper than even I figured. I'd rather think it's all toasters behind this. Though that still makes you figure, why here? And why not Aerilon or Saggie? I mean, they had nasty surprises for us all over Leonis, but they were still holding on tight there. Not just…up and gone."

"Speaking from personal experience, Payback?" Yes, she totally just went there. And looking completely innocent to boot. Leyla shifts, moving to reach into a pocket pulling out a cigarette, offering the pack to the elder man first, before she shakes one out for herself, "I suppose I can accept that logic. Why take the time to rig up a landmine, when a spark and some gasoline would work just as well and cost you less in time and resources. There's got to be something here though. It just doesn't make sense they did this here. They've known for months that we're around. Why not set up defenses like this around all of the colonies they're not stripmining or haven't completely destroyed. It can't have been hard to leave debris around. I just…" Leyla leaves off, lifting her hands to rub at her temples, as if the movement could make her able to puzzle out the logic. "Why leave colonies at all? It's not as if they can't make more of themselves, they probably have factories churning out more of the same. They sure as hell have the resources for it."

"If the engine fits, darlin'," Payback drawls with another of those craggy grins. He takes a cig, and a light if he can get it. "And you got the million cubit question there. Why'd they bug out, why're they doing what they're doing, and what's it mean for you and the bodies you fly with and everybody left? Can't say I've got answers. Wish I did."

A grin, flashed at Payback's rather cheeky reply. Leyla, of course, offers a light, adding, "They set you up with these over there, or you need me to load you up with some for the trip back?" She's not, after all, at all knowledgeable about how supply has been doling out the luxury items. "You're one of those now," bodies that is, "Or you could be, if you're willing to take a little day trip with me tomorrow, when we do our run on the debris field. Could use a pair of eyes that see better than mine." History and memory are powerful things.

"Down in Civvie-Town you've got to horsetrade to get your hands on the little things," Cincinnatus admits. Enjoying the cig. "Strange living like that. But I guess we're all living strange these days, and I got it better than most. I still get to fly." His craggy grin deepens. "And if you'll have me, it'd be my honor to fly with y'all. Of course I'll suit up."

"Let's take a side trip down to storage, before you leave, I'll see what I can pull out of my crates for you." Being on the front line of salvage does mean you sometimes get the goodies before everyone else. The emporium was a prime example, "Ship's pilot shouldn't get left out in the cold." But his grin isn't returned, instead, she's serious. Whatever else may be, she obviously respects the old raptor stick. "The honour would be mine, Colonel." The moment lasts a beat longer, before she flashes a smile, "Let's get cleaned up in here then head down to eight. I think I might have a bottle to go with that smoke."

"I won't say no to the bottle, either." If it's possible for a man that old and craggy to look boyish, Cincinnatus manages it just then. He stands. "Lead the way, Sweet Pea. I'll watch your six on the way down."

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