BCH #018: EVENT - Tank Busters
Tank Busters
Summary: A normal training op and ferry mission turns into a critical SAR operation with explosive results.
Date: 18 BCH
Related Logs: None
Maia Kefir Daphne Tisiphone Raedawn NPC Tillman 

This is an incomplete log and seen only from the side of Tillman, who ran the mini-event.

[CTC] Kefir says, "Cerberus trafic control, this is Black Knighst lead, requesting clearance to launch. Two birds."

[CTC] Tillman says, "Copy, Lead. Cerberus Traffic has you green light on the port flight deck. You are cleared out for five miles, then traffic entering from Leonis. Have a nice day."

[TAC3] Kefir says, "Kolettis, this is going to be off the deck. I assume you still remember how to do a manual takeoff?"

[TAC3] Daphne says, "Y-Yes, sir. Should I taxi ahead?"

[TAC3] Kefir says, "Affirmative. I'll be tailing. Whenever you're ready."

[CTC] "Gadget" Maia says, "Cerberus Actual, this is Gadget. Requesting Viper escort to Leonis to pick up the next batch of recruits. Any Vipers out there?"

[TAC3] Daphne says, "Copy, Lead. Accelerating to takeoff speed. L-Launching now. I'm, uh. Clear. I'm clear."

[TAC3] Kefir says, "One 'clear' is sufficient, Ensign. Knights lead launching."

[CTC] Tillman says, "Actual unvailable. Cerberus Tactical has you, Raptor Three Zero Six. Two Vipers leaving now on paddles green, port flight pod. They can take you out to meet with flight of four Vipers from Leonis en route. You're cleared at at your leisure."

[CTC] "Gadget" Maia says, "Rodger, Cerberus Tactical."

[CTC] Kefir says, "Copy that Tactical, we'll swing by."

[TAC3] Kefir says, "Change of plans, Ensign. Apparently, we're flying escort. Maneuver around to planet side, and see if you can't get a fix on bus Three Zero Six. Should be coming up now."

[TAC3] Daphne says, "Y..yes sir. Heading Two Two… Four, I mean Three. Two Two Three, mark One Five for acquisition of bus Three Zero Six."

[TAC3] Kefir says, "And feel free to give her a little more juice. I think they'd like their escort today."

[TAC3] "Gadget" Maia says, "This is Gadget, who's playing escort duty today?"

[TAC3] Daphne says, "Of course, sir. This is Ensign Kolettis on intercept course and accelerating for rendezvous."

[TAC3] Kefir says, "Gadget, how's flying today? This is Black Knights lead. You'll have myself along with a somewhat nervous Ensign Kolettis. Said you have recruits aboard?"

[TAC3] "Gadget" Maia says, "Black Knight Lead, Gadget. I am picking up new recruits."

[TAC3] "Gadget" Maia says, "Lead, Gadget. Usual escort formation?"

[TAC3] Kefir says, "Gadget, Lead. No reason to make it interesting, I'm afraid. We'd give Kolettis a heart attack."

[TAC3] Daphne clicks open the comm to say something, and then turns it off without a word.

[TAC3] "Gadget" Maia says, "Kolettis, Gadget. Don't worry, rook. We were all nuggets once. Just relax and everything should go smoothly."

[TAC3] Daphne says, "Not a nugget anymore, sir. But thank you. I'm fine. Perfectly calm. Just settling in."

[TAC3] Kefir agrees. "Perfectly calm. You're doing fine, Kolettis. Lets head on down."

[TAC3] "Gadget" Maia says, "Permission granted for landing.Making approach at the port now."

[TAC3] Tillman says, "Training Lead, this is Cerberus Tactical. How copy?"

[TAC3] Kefir says, "You're loud and clear Tactical, what can we do for you?"

[TAC3] Tillman says, "Say fuel state and status, please. Potential duty. Stand by for traffic."

[TAC3] Kefir says, "Fuel is… good, about 80 percent here. Gadget, Kolettis, how do both of you look?"

[TAC3] Daphne says, "Fuel load at Seven Niner percent capacity, sir."

[TAC3] "Gadget" Maia says, "Lead, Gadget. I'm at about 70 percent or so. What's going on?"

[TAC3] Tillman says, "Lead, we've got a damaged tanker just breaking orbit off Leonis on its way to the shipyards. They've run into fuel feed problems and are requesting some escort in case they need to eject that close to the surface. Can you assist?"

[TAC3] Kefir says, "Lead here, copy that tactical. Gadget… how are you on space over there? We might want to hold off on the ferry-duty if we're anticipating SAR."

[TAC3] "Gadget" Maia says, "Lead, Gadget. There only seems to be one person for pick up here. There will be room for SAR for sure. Let me grab her and I'll be up joining you once more."

[TAC3] Tillman says, "Understood, Lead. Stand by. More information forthcoming. Proceed back towards the yards, speed buster."

[TAC3] Kefir says, "You heard the man. Get secured, and we're heading home, double-time. Don't spare the throttle."

[TAC3] Daphne says, "Copy, Lead. I'm ready to move."

[TAC3] Tillman says, "Lead, and Raptor Three-Zero-Four, Cerberus Tactical. Tasking is as follows: KC-One-Four-Five Mesotanker, callsign 'Buzzard One-One', is currently passing five hundred thousand feet and is losing velocity due to continuing feed issues. They are on a straight in approach from the pad towards the shipyards. Contact Buzzard One-One on frequency one-zero-one point five for coordination. Leonis Yards are scrambling a tug but they aren't sure they are going to be on station if failures continue. Escort the tanker into the yards safely or extract the crew if they have to punch out."

[TAC3] Kefir says, "Tactical, Lead, copy that. Gadget, what is your status? Either get them in your bird now, and by now I mean 20 seconds ago, or you're leaving them on the deck."

[TAC3] "Gadget" Maia says, "Lead, Gadget. Copy that. It turns out there are two colonial fleet ensigns on board. Givingnthem spare flight suits in case of SARs. Should be ready within the next minute."

[TAC3] Kefir says, "Make it thirty seconds. Do they not teach people how to run at the academy? They can get suited en route."

[TAC3] "Gadget" Maia says, "Lead, Gadget. The two essential personnel areon the raptor now. Launching from the pad now."

[TAC3] Daphne says, "Lead, Kolettis. Standing by on your mark, sir."

New DRADIS Contact: BlackKnight-308 arrives from Leonis Landing Area.
New DRADIS Contact: BlackKnight-309 arrives from Leonis Landing Area.
New DRADIS Contact: Harrier-306 arrives from Leonis Landing Area.

[BlackKnight-309: Daphne] Viper 309 spills into formation with the Raptor as before, its pilot characteristically stiff, but competent. Daphne glances to the Raptor cockpit, giving Maia a look that tries to say 'I'm alright' but mostly succeeds with saying 'I'm freaking out, here'. She keeps the larger craft directly between herself and Kefir.

[Harrier-307: Tillman] Leaving orbit and breaking out towards space, the planet is still looming huge behind everyone. The local star shines bright off to the right, casting most of the planet in a beautiful blue glow. Up ahead though trouble looms. A KC-145 Mesotanker, a ship about twice the size of a Viper with dual cockpits and large external fuel tanks is burning as hard as it can to maintain the escape velocity. Sadly that is a little hard when only one of your three engines is even functional. The hard blue glow only leaves the dorsal engine while the pilots are even firing the RCS thrusters to try and maintain speed. Far in the distance the Leonis Yards can be seen, a few red lights from the landing area to indicate the scrambling tug.

[BlackKnight-308: Kefir] Black Knight lead was not kidding about booking it. As soon as the new bodies are in the Raptor, Kefir pitches up his hovering Viper and hits the throttle. They have to wait for the Raptor, by necessity, so the Viper doesn't -quite- make the screaming, hell-bent run for space that it could. Still, the return trip from the planet is considerably less leisurely than their trip down. As they break atmo, Kefir snaps a look back to confirm visual on the two other craft, and then turns ahead, looking down at his electronics and then up through the cockpit to search out the tanker. As soon as he has a bead, he tips the stick, and 308 jerks sharply to one side, breaking from the steady escape vector to approach. Rather than waiting for the Raptor, or even his apparent wingman, Kefir punches ahead to cover the remaining distance quickly, if only so he can get a proper visual on the situation.

[TAC3] Kefir was on the wireless the whole way up, urging speed out of both his fellow viper pilot and Gadget in the critical raptor. As they break out of atmosphere, "Everyone get on one-oh-one point five," he calls, reaching for a dial. "Buzzard One-One, this is Black Knight Lead, do you copy? What's your situation?"

[Harrier-306: Maia] The Raptor Three-Oh-Six was following in formation. They had to make quite the trip and there were fewer people than anticipated. Still Gadget flies the Raptor for now, talking with her ECO trainee through the whole thing. The Raptor starts to speed up, though keeping a good distance between the other ships.

[TAC3] Daphne says, "Copy, lead. Setting bearing One Zero One Mark Five."

[BlackKnight-309: Daphne] Viper 309 banks and shoots forward, accelerating rapidly while its rookie pilot glances across the way to Kefir's viper for a reference point. The pilot blinks her eyes a few times, and then edges a little closer to the other viper.

[TAC3] "Buzzard 11" Tillman says, "Bravo Kilo Lead, Buzzard One-One. Glad to hear you got those vectors." The man's voice is tense. Very tense. The sound of the Master Caution's beeping can be heard over the radio. "We've got primary and secondary breaker failures on our primary fuel pump. Secondary pump is operational at forty percent capacity and we're overheating engine number one- Yep. We're getting oil temp warnings. Looks like we're going to have to ditch in about one minute."

[Harrier-307: Tillman] Out ahead the Mesotanker is still struggling even as the others approach. Passing 600,000', the gravity is still tugging on the ship and the airframe isn't holding up too well. The riveted casing around the afterburner is glowing white-hot at the edges and there looks to be tell-tale smoke coming from between a few of the loose panels that are shaking with the forces underneath. With the radio call about the oil temperatures, the glow of the afterburner's flame begins to pale away from blue and head towards white.

[TAC3] Kefir says, "Kolettis, Lead, you're with me. I want you to help me with a visual survey on Buzzard One-One. I'm going to pass starboard, you pass port. You know how to do a strafe run, I hope? Copy that Buzzard, get everyone suited up and we'll bring our bus in. Do you have any other system problems we should be aware of?"

[TAC3] Daphne says, "Yes, sir. That's affirmative, sir. Moving to port side for visual recon on Buzzard One One."

[BlackKnight-308: Kefir] And just in case Kolettis -does- have any doubts about how the maneuver she was just called on should look, 308 accelerates a bit more ahead, and then veers starboard. Suddenly, the Viper's engines cuts. A constant velocity achieved, the ship's momentum continues to carry it past the larger tanker, as its RCS thrusters fire in the aft-port quarter. This has the effect of swinging the back of the ship forward, so its nose faces Buzzard One-One. Like that, 308 strafes past, Kefir's searching through the cockpit to see if anything can be noted on the outside of the ship.

[BlackKnight-309: Daphne] Daphne is staring at the flames and smoke pouring from the Mesotanker while her craft shoots forward. She glances down at her controls, then observes her squadron leader as he swings past for a visual inspection of the craft. She inhales, prays to her favorite deity, and then pushes forward, monkey see, monkey do. She's very stiff, giving the ship a gust of afterburners before rotating, but she does get the job done, even if her performance is rigid. Eyes dart across the airframe of the craft.

[Harrier-306: Maia] For now, the Raptor keeps a safe distance as preparations are being made within. It's no wonder that Maia is quiet over the tac com.

[TAC3] "Buzzard 11" Tillman says, "Alright, Bravo Kilo Lead. We're settled in and strapped down. We're showing a fire in the engine! Okay, we-" Kaboom. "Eject! Eject! Eject!""

[Harrier-307: Tillman] The Mesotanker's tail suddenly erupts into flames and the whole airframe lurches against the gravity, the elongated nose dipping down towards the horizon. It only takes half a second from the time the engine fire is called until it happens: The tail section shakes itself to pieces fast enough to catch the whole engine casing in a brilliant sheet of white before it explodes. Shrapnel blasts across the sky. The KC-145 stops and seems to hang in space for a moment before beginning a slow decline back towards the planet. Its then that the explosive bolts on the cockpits fire, throwing the canopies away. Both ejection seats fire in tandem, throwing the pilots out through the smoke in a furious fireworks display while the tanker begins a death-dive back towards the surface.

<FS3> <FS3> Daphne rolls Vipers: Failure.
<FS3> <FS3> Kefir rolls Vipers: Good Success.
<FS3> <FS3> Maia rolls Raptors: Success.

[BlackKnight-308: Kefir] That can't be good. Neither of the Vipers is likely to be closer than they need to be, but they're not far either. The window to react is small. With only moments to decide, Kefir fires one of the front RCS re-align his craft and then just punches it -hard-, zipping ahead of the tanker as its engines go up in that colorful pyrotechnic display. Singed, but not hit, the viper rips forward, cuts thrusters for an end-over-end flip, and then fires them again to arrest its velocity. The pilot scans the scene ahead, while at the same time searching the wireless for a little clarity.

[Harrier-306: Maia] This isn't good at all. There's the explosion and there's a large chunk of debris heading towards the raptor itself. Maia's eyes widen when they're suddenly hit hard as it cracks the window. Still, there's nothing serious, and she starts to dive towards the first pilot.

[TAC3] "Gadget" Maia says, "Lead, Gadget. Are you all right? Is the rook all right? Only minor damage here, have a cracked windshield, but I should still be able to perform any SARs if needed. I'm sending Ensign Jacobs on out if there's a need."

[BlackKnight-309: Daphne] A pair of eyes widen as the engines go. With so little time to react and her craft pivoted, the rookie scrambles to get out of the way. Deadly shards of debrif pepper the buttom of her craft as she tries to fly to be on top of the ship, effectively moving towards it instead of away from it. Given her positioning, certainly a natural instinct, but it doesn't help her as much as she'd like. Daphne's craft is struck in several places, with pieces shooting through her wings and something jamming against one of her thrusters. She's shook around in the cockpit, though finds herserlf in relative safety. Smoke is pouring out the back of her craft.

[TAC3] Daphne responds amidst background noises which sound like alert tones. "Koletiss to Lead. Sustained damage to thruster two. Life support is fading. Suit integrety is okay. Cabin is depressurizing. I'm alright." The unspoken words are probably 'Oh shit', 'Oh shit', and 'Oh shit'.

[TAC3] Kefir crackles in as Maia does, and things may be a bit jumbled., "Report report. Gadget, Lead, I'm fine. Kolettis, status? Gadget do you have a bead on the punch-outs? I saw them fire, but I don't have visual." Amidst the chaos-chatter comes Kolettis, and they might catch the half of a murmured prayer before Kefir comes in again. "Can you RTB on your own power?"

[TAC3] "Buzzard 11" Tillman says, "Buzzard 11, successful ejection! . .Shit we better get out of here! Those fuel tanks were full and its on a fast deorbit! Its gonna blow when it hits hard atmo!"

[Harrier-307: Tillman] The lead pilot who's yammering on the radio is already unstrapping from his seat, along with his backseater. Both pilots look to be in one helluva hurry to put distance between themselves and the deorbiting Mesotanker. It doesn't work so well at first as there just isn't so much mass to push off left and they're already starting to drift back towards Leonis. But they're flailing and moving like they're trying to swim away towards the incoming Raptor.

[TAC3] Daphne says, "Yes, sir, but I can hold it together."

[TAC3] Kefir says, "Kolettis, Lead, set a return heading and go, there isn't much we're gonna do here. Gadget, eta on SAR operations? The tanker is going down fast and we're way too close."

[Harrier-306: Maia] With that said, the Raptor starts to fly out with the cracked window heading straight to where the pilot ejected. Soon enough, the hatch opens to reveal a spaceman ready to grab him should she be out there floating.

[TAC3] Daphne sounds reluctant and here's a first: Annoyed. She clearly does not want to leave. "Yes -sir-." Sir with authority, even. "Changing bearing for romeo tango bravo." Every syllable sounds heavy. If it's not annoyance, then it's certainly something. "Kolettis breaking off from flight."

[BlackKnight-309: Daphne] Daphne's viper peels off from the entourage and heads towards the Leonis Yards, where the Cerberus sits in dock.

[BlackKnight-308: Kefir] For the moment, 308 just hangs there. Its RCS jets fire a few times, maintaining a position where it can book it at the first sign that it's time to go. But the pilot isn't ready to leave just yet. He watches the Raptor approach the pilot, and tries to work out the timing of everything in his head. Just in case he needs to do something -crazy- here.

[Harrier-306: Tillman] The first pilot is swung to and he flails madly to get into the Raptor as it slides closer. The door pops open on the side and the ECO dives out with a cord attached to his waist to grab the tanker pilot. Meanwhile the Mesotanker itself is falling away in an every increasing tumble. The edges of it can be seen to start to glow orange against the blue of the ocean below.

Tisiphone and Raedawn are both suited up and strapped in in the back of the Raptor. Nearby are their duffels, also strapped down against zero G. Ensign Jacobs is making his way toward the hatch, about to begin SAR on the ejected pilots.

The sudden evasive maneuvers the Raptor had to take upon the tanker's fiery disintegration knocked Raedawn's helmet roundly against the side of the ship, leaving her unconscious. Maia has taken over the ship's controls from Ensign Jacobs.

When the hatch opens, Jacobs flashes a wolfish grin as he attaches the steel-braided chord to his waist with a large metal clip. "When I give you a thumbs up like this-" he jerks his thumb hard up over his head "-I want you to hit that button there on my panel and it will wheel us back in automatically." He doesn't wait for a reply. He just turns and dives out of the Raptor, taking a flying leap to grasp the pilot that was floating in zero-G. Jacobs doesn't waste a second, jerking his thumb over his head while getting a secure hold on the pilot with his other.

The sharp sound of helmet-against-bulkhead end Tisiphone's rubbernecking over the tanker's disintegration. "Oh, frak! You okay?" As the ensign remains in her zero-G floatslump, Tis's eyes widen. "Hoi, not funny, you okay?" She's looking for one of the release buckles when Jacobs reaches the hatch, which handily distracts her from playing heroine. "Whoa…" she breathes, eyes wide again, as the ensign unspools into space. It takes her a moment to remember to do her part; she stabs the respooling button once, then again. Let it never be said she's not thorough.

Lost DRADIS Contact: BlackKnight-309 heads for Battlestar Cerberus.

The spool doesn't falter for even a fraction of a second. The motor on it whirs to life right away and begins reeling in the ECO and pilot. Jacobs clicks his mic over. "Lieutenant, I've got the pilot and we're spooling in. You're clear to move in five.. four.. three.." And suddenly he appears back in the doorway, the pilot nearly getting thrown against the bulkhead. His face is completely ashen white after the ejection. "GottagoGottagoGottago!" There's Captain's pins on him. The Raptor slowly turns back towards the surface of the planet and the backseater who ejected.

[Harrier-306: Tillman] With one pilot reeled back aboard in record time, Raptor 304 slides sideways across space and settles back down towards the other pilot. The Mesotanker is just a speck in the distance at this point but there's the beginnings of a dark contrail appearing behind it as it spins it. Little bits of orange flake away - stray body panelling on fire. That thing will probably light up the sky like a small nuke when it goes and they're still way too close.

[TAC3] Kefir says, "Someone talk to me. How much longer to get our second pilot? Its not looking good down there."

[TAC3] "Jacobs, ECO" Tillman says, "Working on it now, sir. Looks like thirty seconds before we are back inside. Getting ready to jump now."

Nearly missing her boarding call for the Cerberus was supposed to be the most exciting part of today, not performing SARs next to hojillions of liters of burning fuel. Tisiphone's hands falter on the last buckle keeping her secure, then finish throwing the latch. Very pointedly not looking at the open door and an entire universe's worth of vaccuum beyond it, she moves to the rescued captain and starts hauling him toward the nearest harness. "Sir. Over here, sir. We need to get you secured." Mindless chatter, more for her own sake than anything.

The Captain doesn't fight, he just stares at Tisiphone for a full second as she moves him around. "I'm glad someone is calm!" He turns and looks up front. "Any chance we can get moving -today-?! We're about to get deep fried!" Jacobs is just finishing up his radio call when he looks to the Captain and gives him the finger. "Not yet, sir. I'll let you backseater know, though." He shakes his head inside his helmet and dives back out the hatch to retrieve the other pilot - hoping Tisiphone is on the spot to hit that button because he's already got the guy and jerking his thumb over his head.

[BlackKnight-308: Kefir] 308's jets fire a few more times, turning slowly to get one last look down toward the planet, before whipping its nose back the other way. Looks like its about time to go, and he doesn't have the luxury of FTL. Its main thrusters light up, and the Viper begins to pull away.

[TAC3] Kefir says, "This is Lead, I can't hang any longer, gonna get clear. Better be ready to hit the button the second the doors close."

[TAC3] "Jacobs, ECO" Tillman says, "We're already reeling back in. Hopefully see you back on deck."

The captain receives a heartbeat's worth of blank stare, courtesy of Tisiphone — the sort of look well-practiced by ensigns everywhere when confronted with Superior Officers acting in a way they're not used to. "N-nearly there, Sir." She's still looking halfways poleaxed as she finishes with the harness and moves to reel Ensign Jacobs and the second pilot back in.

Jacobs is barely back in the door, throwing the newly arrived Lieutenant into a seat and he's shutting the door. "GO! GO! GO!!!" The ECO scrambles as best he can to slide into his seat and buckle up. "Its burning!! Going to go any second!" The Raptor yanks and banks, aligning itself away from the planet before the throttles are firewalled, throwing anything not secured a few feet towards the back of the cabin. A flash glints off the glass up front..

[Harrier-306: Tillman] The Raptor's door is just closing when the craft turns and turns on the heat to get out of the area. Its not even heading towards the shipyards so much as just OUT OF THERE. The burners have only been running a second or two when there's a bright flash from the orbit of Leonis. The KC-145 Mesotanker absolutely disappears in a blinding flash of light that lights up the entire sky and manages to cause barometric overpressure in the high atmosphere and form a large donut-shaped cloud. The blast wave reaches out towards space as the flaming chunks of debris tumble towards the wide ocean far below.

<FS3> <FS3> Kefir rolls Vipers: Good Success.
<FS3> Tillman rolls 4: Success.

[BlackKnight-308: Kefir] With a whispered prayer to Hermes, Apollo, and possibly any variety of other deities of note, Kefir hits the throttle and goes. Even he may not have anticipated the size of the explosion the tanker hits when it goes off in the atmosphere, and for a few moments, he white-knuckles it pretty hard. 308 streaks ahead, first simply -straight- away from the planet in the most direct way before finally arcing to angle back home.

Tisiphone is clutching to some of the retaining hooks when the Raptor takes off, but it's not enough. Her feet start to skid, her gloves slip on the hooks, and then she's down, bouncing backward along the floor like a very ungainly skipping stone. The two duffels break her fall, and keep her from the same brainpan-to-helmet blackout that felled the other Shiny New Ensign. Rather than trying to stand again, she chooses to latch herself to the harnessed-in duffels. The floor is popular on this flight. Who is she to refuse?
GAME: Save complete.

[Harrier-306: Tillman] The Raptor just didn't get out in time to avoid all of it. Even with that hard burn there was just no way to get an FTL spooled. The small craft takes the brunt of the blast wave and tumbles end over end through the sky before slowly righting itsself. The pilot, shaken but not stirred, points the craft back towards the deck while various alarms go off about intake damage and shrapnel punctures.

[TAC3] "Jacobs, ECO" Tillman says, "Cerberus, Raptor Three-Zero-Four." The ECO sighs audibly. "Inbound to the deck, requesting priority clearance onto the port flight deck. We have one head wound and two pilots aboard from SAR. Please have medical standing by. Three-oh-four, out."

[TAC3] Kefir says, "Three-zero-four, this is Knights lead. I'll follow you in. Safe landing."

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