PHD #105: EVENT - The Long Patrol
The Long Patrol
Summary: An ordinary CAP turns tragic.
Date: 11 June 2041 AE
Related Logs: Forthcoming…
Cidra Alessandra Psyche Villon Matise McCoy 
Deep Space
Space is cold, very cold. Wear your booties.
Post-Holocaust Day: #105

The following log is best set to the "The Long Day Is Over," by Norah Jones

Feeling tired
By the fire
The long day is over
The wind is gone
Asleep at dawn
The embers burn on
With no reprise
The sun will rise
The long day is over

[BlackKnight-853: Villon] They say that the life of a fighter pilot is glamorous — that nothing can get a boy turned on faster than the prospect of dating a girl with wings, that there exists nothing so impossibly alluring than a woman who knows how to push her sleek Viper to the very limits of the frame's endurance.

If only the boys could see these women now, having sat bored out of their minds in their cockpits for the past three and a half hours. Such is the fate of pilots tasked for alert duty, condemned to while away minutes eternal as others gallivant about in the wild space beyond. Only the chitchat over the wireless exists to keep them company, and even the usual gossip tonight has been absurdly uneventful.

[TAC3] Polaris says, "How's it feel to be back out here, Snag?" That's the voice of Captain Aron Matise, recently recovered from a life-threatening injury involving a stairwell. "You're looking a bit wobbly — check your port thrusters?"

[Harrier-651: Cidra] Cidra is pushing no sleek Viper, but several tons of Raptor. LTJG Daisy "Skeeter" McCoy is on ECO duty for this particularly CAP. She keeps up with Snag and Broadside with relative ease, monitoring the movements of the Vipers both visually and on her instruments. As always, she chatters little either in or out of the cockpit. The one complaint the ECOs have about flying backseater for the CAG is that it can be boring.

[TAC3] "Snag" Villon says, "B — bet — better when we first got out here," murmurs Villon into her com. "I — I wasn't sharp my first time back, ei — either."

[TAC3] Polaris says, "Takes balls of frakking steel to come back after something like that," says Broadside, his warm voice stern but encouraging. "Stay sharp. ETA twenty-nine minutes until we get you some aspirin for that headache you're nursing."

[TAC3] "Toast" Cidra says, "Broadside, Toast. Everything ship-shape with the pair of you?"

[TAC3] Polaris says, "Toast, Broadside. Snag here seems to really love my staboard engine, but other than one instance of her Viper humping mine, we're good. Isn't that right, Emilie?"

[BlackKnight-308: Psyche] Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Psyche shifts miserably in her cockpit, the act of simply sitting in a Viper wholly unnatural, no matter how many times she's been on alert. She fiddles with her helmet in her lap, blowing and popping bubbles, cracking and chomping her gum. "I'm too sexy for this CAP, too sexy for this CAP," she sings under her breath (and wisely off-comm). "This BORING, this boring frakking CAP." She pauses mid-bubble, quickly sucking the gum back into her mouth. "What the frak am I saying?" Hands folded in prayer, she quickly amends, "Thank you Lords for boring CAPs — don't listen to me. I suck. So say we all."

[BlackKnight-853: Villon] And speaking of Vipers mounting each other, Emilie's bird suddenly takes a swan dive to starboard, her engine flaring sharply as she opens her throttle up to max. The elegant silver fighter jets out of formation with a jerky wing-waggle and an equally jerky burst of afterburner.

[TAC3] "Snag" Villon says, "I — I — I see — Cylons — DRADIS is — oh Gods — " Villon's breath has started to shorten rapidly, her voice thin and hoarse in the cockpit. "Engaging! Engaging!"

[TAC3] (from "Lucky" Alessandra) "Gods, do we need to have that image stuck in our heads now," Lucky drawls out, sounding rather like she's almost about to sleep. "I really do not want to think about humping anything." Sighing, she intones after that, "Next time we get to go out and fly while y'all sit on your asses while counting rivets…and deck hands. That's hard. The…" Her voice goes quiet upon hearing Snag's transmission save for a single, whispered, "Frak."

<FS3> Cidra rolls 5: Success.

[TAC3] Polaris says, "Snag — Snag! Broadside has no contacts, say again, Broadside has no contacts! Get back in formation now."

[Harrier-651: Cidra] "I got nothing back here, Toasty," Skeeter's high-pitched voice chirrups from Cidra's backseat. Cidra herself frowns, wrists swiveling as she adjusts her course a notch to track Villon. Eyes scanning the starfield. "I cannot see a thing on visual, either. What the devil does she think she is doing?"

[TAC3] "Toast" Cidra says, "Snag, Toast. We are reading zero - repeat zero - Cylon contacts on DRADIS. What is it you see out there?"

[TAC3] "Lucky" Alessandra says, "Flight, Lucky. Are we to launch?"

[BlackKnight-308: Psyche] Psyche jerks bolt upright, cough-choking as she nearly inhales her gum. She sits perfectly still, listening hard to the comm — as though she might hear something in static that will shed some light on things. "I told you not to listen to me…" she whispers unhappily.

[BlackKnight-853: Villon] Whatever it is she sees, she's engaging — for even as Broadside hustles to catch up, Villon has cranked even more power to her engines, charging forward right into the teeth of whatever imaginary formation she sees. Her guns spit out a steady stream of fire as her fighter swings back and forth, nose dipping up and down as she begins evasive maneuvers.

[TAC3] "Toast" Cidra says, "Lucky, Toast. Hold for the moment. Snag is shooting at ghosts out here. We have still no enemy contacts. Will keep you updated."

[TAC3] "Snag" Villon says, "I — " Snag's breathing is coming in sharper gasps. "Four Raiders — I see them, there's — " And then all that's audible is her hyperventilation, breaths coming shorter and shorter before an ominous silence settles over the com — silence broken only by the occasional burst of gunfire. Though her thumb's still on the button, no words come."

[TAC3] (from "Lucky" Alessandra) Roger, flight. We're on standby.

[TAC3] Polaris says, "Snag, Broadside, stand down, say again, stand — shit, Toast. Can you jump ahead and get a visual on that ship?"

<FS3> Cidra rolls Alertness: Success.
<FS3> Cidra rolls Raptors: Good Success.

[TAC3] "Toast" Cidra says, "Broadside, Toast. Firing up our jump engines now. See if you can get her to come around."

[BlackKnight-308: Psyche] "Frak. What the frak is goin on?" Psyche's brows are drawn sharply down, teeth tugging at the fingertips of her gloves in a nervous gnawing that would surely ruin her manicure. "Come one, Snagglepuss — pull it together, girl."

[TAC3] Polaris says, "Toast, Broadside copies. Figure Deck won't mind a few more perforations in this baby, right?"

GAME: Save complete.

[Harrier-651: Cidra] "Skeeter, get a micro-jump programmed and commence on my mark," Cidra says, tone level but with a layer of concern over it. The ECO works the board back there with all proper professional skill and…mark! Cidra's Raptor winks out of space, only to wink back into it just ahead of Villon's Viper. Carefully position out of range of her guns.

[BlackKnight-650: Alessandra] Lucky's taken to getting ansty, the nervous energy good for getting her woken up and out of her boredom-induced stupor but it's doing frakall for her stomach which is starting to twist into knots. "Come on," she whispers to herself. "What the frak." The waiting is getting more and more difficult to bear and soon the sound of a palm being smacked against something can be heard over the comms, Sophronia having forgot to turn them off before slapping the interior of her canopy in frustration.

[BlackKnight-853: Villon] Matise's Viper screams forward even while Cidra's Raptor jumps, the two of them moving to bracket the wild Viper slashing every which way. Villon's RCS points light up like a shorted circuitboard, blinking dangerously orange as the out-of-control fighter spits more lead into space. Hey — at least she's flying away from Cerberus, right?

[TAC3] Polaris says, "Toast, Broadside has no eyes on target, say again, no eyes on target."

[Harrier-651: Cidra] Cidra's Raptor arcs high and aims to make a pass around Villon's Viper, to see what she can see of the cockpit. Even careful as the CAG flies, she has to get close to Snag's KEWs for a visual and a stray gun does ping off her hull. She avoids taking more than negligible damage, and she doesn't veer straight off. Whatever she sees in the cockpit, she wants to make sure she's seeing it clearly. Expression turning grave beneath her flight helmet. Meanwhile, Skeeter suddenly perks up back on her board. "Toasty! We didn't have toasters before, but we got them now! Reading two contacts."

[TAC3] "Toast" Cidra says, "Flight, Toast. Snag's in bad shape. Twitching, I am not sure if she is conscious. She appears to be having some sort of seizure. And if we were alone before, we are not now. Alert Flight, we are picking up two enemy contacts. ID'd as Raiders. Launch ASAP."

[TAC3] Polaris says, "I see them, Toast." Broadside's voice is grim. "Stay out of Snag's field of fire — she has to run out of bullets sometime, right?"

[TAC3] "Toast" Cidra says, "I will try. She is not shooting coherently. Commencing jamming stations on bandits."

[TAC3] "Bubbles" Psyche says, "Flight, this is Bubbles Launching now. Hang in there."

[BlackKnight-650: Alessandra] BlackKnight-650 is quickly put in the launch tube and shot out as fast as it's safely able to be, Lucky then making good on her earlier statement - Engines gunned to full, Lucky begins to make her way to where the Raiders seem to be. Psyche should have no difficulties in keeping up with her but only if she doesn't dawdle when it comes to getting the frak out of the hangar and into position.

[BlackKnight-308: Psyche] There's no dawdling on Bubble's part, no sir. She's out of the tube like a shot, banking into position on Lucky's wing. A quick glance is darted out the canopy to get a visual on her section leader. "Right behind you, Lucky."

[BlackKnight-853: Villon] The slats in the Raiders' cockpits grind open to reveal those trademark red 'eyes', eyes that now seem to focus in on the Viper firing wildly in the distance. A half-second of orientation and the bandits are on her, their own guns blazing as they close the distance. Meanwhile, Snag's Viper spirals out of control, bullets thudding into the underbelly of Matise's fighter before a flick of her ventral thrusters sends her careening back towards Cidra's bulky ship.

<COMBAT> Villon attacks Cidra with KEW - Moderate wound to Engine.
<COMBAT> Psyche passes.
<COMBAT> Matise attacks Raider1 with KEW - Moderate wound to Engine.
<COMBAT> Cidra passes.
<COMBAT> Skeeter suppresses Raider1 with ECM. <successful>
<COMBAT> Skeeter suppresses Raider2 with ECM. <successful>
<COMBAT> Raider2 attacks Villon with KEW - Moderate wound to Body (Reduced by Armor).
<COMBAT> Raider1 attacks Villon with KEW - Moderate wound to Body.
<COMBAT> Alessandra passes.
<COMBAT> Polaris has started a new turn. Pose and choose your action.

[BlackKnight-853: Villon] Villon's Viper is scored with Cylon bullets, but not before she herself hits her target — none other than the CAG herself, whose glowing yellow engine explodes in a flurry of blue sparks as high-powered slugs slam into its drive core. It's the impact of the Raiders' bullets that saves the CAG's ship, for the impact from those KEWs sends Snag's fighter tumbling backwards nose over end, helped along by wildly-firing thrusters.

[TAC3] (from "Snag" Villon) THUD THUD BZZZZT — The sounds of a Viper being shredded, broadcast for all to hear. Somehow, despite all this, Snag's finger has remained on the button — but not for long. It's with one last shuddering sigh that the girl signs off, fluted voice catching in her throat.

[TAC3] Polaris says, "Shit." From Broadside, whose ship is caught in the backwash from the girl's sputtering engine. "Toast! SAR now, now, now! DAMN the bullets!""

[Harrier-651: Cidra] Cidra goes into evasive mode, trying to bank her Raptor out of the field of Villon's guns, but as she's veering she exposes her engines. And takes a KEW to them before she can slip away. She *does* manage to arc hard and avoid crashing. But no sooner is she out of Villion's vicinity then she banks around back toward the wayward Viper. "Skeeter, ready a tow."

[TAC3] "Toast" Cidra says, "Broadside, Toast. Commencing. We shall try to get her back. Concentrate fire on those Raiders. Keep them off her as you can."

Cidra spends 1 luck points on Raptors Vroom Vroom.

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Cidra:Raptors vs Villon:Vipers
< Cidra: Great Success Villon: Good Success
< Net Result: Cidra wins.

[TAC3] Polaris says, "Alert Vipers, Broadside, just the two of them — " A harsh, bitter laugh. "Humping Snag's leg like frakking rabid dogs."

[BlackKnight-308: Psyche] Sweat beads on Psyche's brow, her breathing short as she throttles forward, Viper screaming to engage. "Frak frak frak Gods frak me raw," she hisses between her teeth — pious only moments ago, now splendidly profane. "What frakking genius put that poor girl back in a plane?" Stress-bitching under her breath aside, there're Cylons to take out, and she's locking onto her target even as the words are tumbling out of her mouth.

[BlackKnight-650: Alessandra] "Stay with me…" Allie mouths while slipping into position to attack, a quick look give to her wingman before trying to engage. This has her feeling all sorts of off but she tries to keep the uncertainty out of her voice when she speaks over the comms next.

[TAC3] "Lucky" Alessandra says, "Bubbles, Lucky. Stay as close as you can. Attack the first Raider. Flight, we're preparing to engage the Cylon."

<COMBAT> Raider2 attacks Villon with KEW - Moderate wound to Body (Reduced by Armor).
<COMBAT> Villon attacks Cidra with KEW - ARMOR on Engine stops the attack!
<COMBAT> Raider1 attacks Villon with KEW - Light wound to Body (Reduced by Armor).
<COMBAT> Psyche attacks Raider1 with KEW but MISSES!
<COMBAT> Matise attacks Raider1 with KEW but MISSES!
<COMBAT> Skeeter passes.
<COMBAT> Cidra passes.
<COMBAT> Alessandra attacks Raider1 with KEW - Light wound to Engine.
<COMBAT> Polaris has started a new turn. Pose and choose your action.

[BlackKnight-853: Villon] Cidra and Skeeter demonstrate remarkable proficiency with that lasso of theirs, hooking it onto the fuselage of Villon's Viper with surpassing skill — and indeed, not even the endless stream of bullets into engine stop them from executing the tow. And it's on that towline that Emilie's fighter now thrashes like a rabid snake lashing about in spite of the mongoose attached to its hood, pouring a steady rain of glowing yellow fire into the lumbering Raptor. Yet still the Raiders come, moving in perfect synchrony, ignoring the perfectly healthy fighters now on their tail: their sights trained solely on Snag.

[Harrier-651: Cidra] Cidra's Raptor slips in tight with Villon's and, despite poor Snag's erratic flying, lassos her as if she were a tricky pony in Toast's rodeo. At most times Cidra's flying is an act of understated competence, but SAR work is her specialty, and all her formidable skills are on display when she's at it. "Got her! Skeeter, target jammers on Snag's guns. I do not think she is feeling much gratitude at the moment."

[TAC3] Polaris says, "Nice hook, Toast. Broadside is on Raider Two — you two, stay on the first one."

[TAC3] "Toast" Cidra says, "Flight, Toast. I have got her. I can manage this one. Just keep those Raiders occupied. I shall have to target our jammers on Snag to keep her guns off my hull."

[BlackKnight-650: Alessandra] The first hits on their collective enemies has Allie smiling faintly, a smug, short-lived smirk that is made to disappear quickly as she realizes there's no explosion or lessening of their numbers. Gritting her teeth, Allie leads her wingman to another angle of attack, this one hopefully better than the first.

[TAC3] Polaris says, "Biting the hand that feeds you, huh," Broadside almost snarls. "I'm going to frakking kiss her when we get back. And then I'm going to flay her godsdamned hide."

[BlackKnight-308: Psyche] Psyche follows her section leader in close formation, her running monologue now still, her expression one of cold focus as she makes another pass at the target.

<COMBAT> Villon attacks Cidra with KEW but MISSES!
<COMBAT> Skeeter suppresses Villon with ECM. <successful>
<COMBAT> Psyche attacks Raider1 with KEW - Moderate wound to Body.
<COMBAT> Raider2 attacks Villon with KEW - Serious wound to Body (Reduced by Armor).
<COMBAT> Raider1 attacks Villon with KEW - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!
<COMBAT> Matise attacks Raider2 with KEW - Serious wound to Body.
<COMBAT> Cidra passes.
<COMBAT> Alessandra attacks Raider1 with KEW - Moderate wound to Weapon.
<COMBAT> Polaris has started a new turn. Pose and choose your action.
<COMBAT> Blackknight-853 has been KO'd!
<COMBAT> Villon has been KO'd!

<FS3> Alessandra rolls Alertness: Bad Failure.
<FS3> Cidra rolls Alertness: Success.
<FS3> Psyche rolls Alertness: Success.

[BlackKnight-853: Villon] It's a good thing Villon's finger has left that vox switch turned off, because the sound of a Viper being torn to pieces is not something any pilot particularly wants to hear. Somehow, that makes what's going on right before their eyes more palatable — and more eerie, as the underbelly of Snag's Viper literally splits in half, carved apart by slashing Cylon fire. Smoke fills her cockpit, which — miracle of miracles — remains intact despite the violence inflicted upon her ship, and at last her guns fall silent: not because of lack of ammunition, mind you, but because all of her bullets are now cooking off in a cascade of sub-explosions that guts her tailfin and sends shards of shrapnel flying forth from her engines.

[TAC3] "Toast" Cidra says, "Flight, Toast. Snag's down, but the Raiders are not breaking off from her. They still appear to be targeting her ship."

[TAC3] "Lucky" Alessandra says, "That's frakking odd. They will usually pick a new target after disabling or destroying one."

[BlackKnight-308: Psyche] Psyche utters an inarticulate and guttural cry of anguish as Snag's Viper comes apart — the sound of her own voice drowned out by the imagined and too-real roar of fire and the scream of rending metal. What she sees is too violent and terrible to occur in silence, so her mind provides the soundtrack. "FRAK!" she can barely get her breath behind the first expletive, so great is her shock. "Frakfrakfrak why aren't they peeling off leaveheralone you MOTHER FRAKKERS what is WRONG with you??" She sees what the others see, but has nothing to add on comm, locking on her target again and letting bullets fly.

[TAC3] Polaris says, "All ships, Broadside, I see it too." There's a brief hitch in his voice as the captain banks into an epic spin, maintaining position behind the laboring Raider now leaking bits and pieces of red fluid into the icy darkness. "Fine. Makes it easier for us."

<FS3> Cidra rolls Raptors: Good Success.

[Harrier-651: Cidra] Cidra's ship arcs around, the maneuever not-so-smooth since she still hasn't detached her tow line. And she doesn't break it, even given the mess that Villon's ship is in. Indeed, she veers *closer* to the beaten Mighty Lions' somehow-intact cockpit. Trying to put her several tons of Raptor *between* the Raiders and whatever remains of Villon inside. "You shall not get out of this so easy, little girl…"

[BlackKnight-650: Alessandra] Allie's still swinging her Viper around, trying to be careful. With Cidra positioning herself like she is it makes things a bit trickier, that adding one more big metal thing to hit, this one being one she does not want to.

<COMBAT> Cidra passes.
<COMBAT> Psyche attacks Raider1 with KEW - Moderate wound to Body.
<COMBAT> Alessandra attacks Raider1 with KEW - Moderate wound to Left Wing.
<COMBAT> Raider2 attacks Cidra with KEW - Serious wound to Engine.
<COMBAT> Matise attacks Raider2 with KEW - Serious wound to Body.
<COMBAT> Skeeter suppresses Raider1 with ECM. <unsuccessful>
<COMBAT> Skeeter suppresses Raider2 with ECM. <unsuccessful>
<COMBAT> Raider1 attacks Cidra with KEW and MISSES!
<COMBAT> Polaris has started a new turn. Pose and choose your action.
<COMBAT> Harrier-651 has been KO'd!
<COMBAT> Cidra has been KO'd!
<COMBAT> Skeeter has been KO'd!
<COMBAT> Raider-0597y has been KO'd!
<COMBAT> Raider1 has been KO'd!
<COMBAT> Raider-0230d has been KO'd!
<COMBAT> Raider2 has been KO'd!
<COMBAT> Cidra spends a luck point to keep fighting!

[BlackKnight-853: Villon] It's their single-minded dedication to their decidedly strange mission that spells the Raiders' doom. Down they go in a haze of gunfire as all three Viper pilots hit their mark — and still, wounded as they are, they're deadly, one of them placing a picture-perfect shot right into Cidra's already-damaged engine. Better the Raptor than Villon, however, whose wrecked ship — and pilot — shall remain blessedly intact.

[TAC3] Polaris says, "Good shooting, guys," says Broadside, voice taut. "Toast, with your permission, I'm thinking we get another CAP out here stat while we escort you back. If those were scouts, you can damn well bet they know where we are."

[TAC3] (from "Lucky" Alessandra) A choked back uttering of curse words is what comes from Lucky at first, whatever she was wanting to say kept in check. What she does say is intoned in a voice that wavers, making her sound like she's either about to cry or is very angry. "Flight, Lucky. That was some scary stuff. Will be glad to go home."

[Harrier-651: Cidra] Cidra's Raptor does not waver from position adjacent to Villon's. And she gets a mouthful of Cylon aircraft fire for her trouble. It takes a beating, sputtering ominously from that hit to its engines, but miraculously its armor keeps it intact. Barely. "Toasty, we are bright red back here! Our engines are shot to hades!" Skeeter chirrups, voice getting even more high-pitched and fast-paced as she burns up the controls to keep the ship from blowing anymore vital parts.

[TAC3] "Toast" Cidra says, "Broadside, Toast. Concur, and verily. I am limping back. Make sure Medical is standing by when we touch down."

[TAC3] Polaris says, "CIC, Broadside, get a CAP out here straightaway, over."

[TAC3] Polaris says, "All ships, CIC copies. We're launching now and medical teams have been deployed."

[TAC3] "Bubbles" Psyche takes a ragged breath. "Yeah. What you guys said. Right behind you, Lucky." She sounds more than a little shaken, though her flying's steady.

[TAC3] "Lucky" Alessandra says, "Toast, Lucky. We got your six. Will make sure you all get home safely."

It's a far more subdued group of ships that returns to Cerberus. The procession is led by the CAG's smoking Raptor that's bracketed on three sides — aft, port, and starboard — by the Vipers on patrol, their hulls pockmarked by bits and pieces of exploded Cylon Raider. Toast and Skeeter are immediately corralled by grim-faced EMTs seeking to pull them away — "When your ship looks like that," one says, "you damn well better come with us." And Villon?

A blast of smoke explodes from the cockpit as orange-clad deckhands converge around her fighter, leveraging open the cracked canopy with crowbars before hosing down the wrecked Viper — only the front half of which can truly be said to exist, for everything behind the ejection seat seems to be a mangled mess of twisted blackened metal. The hiss of hoses, the clamor of worried soldiers, the thudding of stretcher-bearing feet against hardened ground —

And then, suddenly, silence, as waves of olive and orange part to reveal the girl's spotless body resting small and limp on the board, her eyes closed in that perverse sleep the poets say is the most peaceful of all.

Cidra exits her ship under her own power but she doesn't struggle with the EMTs. She's quite lucky to be upright at the moment. Accepting a hand from one, but her eyes are all on Villon's ship. She intakes a sharp breath, one hand going to cover her lips. "Snag…Ensign Villon…the doctors will need to see to her right away, she is in very bad shape…please…" Worse shape than Cid would like to think, most likely.

Alessandra slips out of her Viper and looks around, first at her fighter and then at the others which have also come in, her brow creasing heavily upon seeing the condition of the one that used to be Villon's. She keeps aloof for now, the post-flight check and everything else left ignored as she simply observes.

Sick de ja vu sweeps over Psyche as she tumbles out of her Viper, eyes fixed on Snag's decimated plane. Watching the Virgan pilot lowered from the cockpit, unconscious. Oh, she's been here before, fists pressed hard to her mouth, this cold pit in her stomach… only before, they hurried Villon, burned and battered, off to sickbay. And now? Now, there doesn't seem to be any hurry. She hears someone, somewhere nearby, utter a wounded, animal whimper… completely unaware of having made the sound herself. "Oh, Gods… no… please, no…"

"She's gone, Major. Captain." So says the lead-medic-in-charge for Cidra and Matise, who can't quite look at the body now being stripped of its helmet and suit. His handsome features are drawn; his eyes, damp and bloodshot. "The Doctor's already on his way to pronounce." The medic's head jerks back and forth to emphasize the point. "From here, though — looks like hypercapnia. Too much CO2 in the blood. Headches, lethargy, disorientation, first. Then — panic, convulsions — but she'd have passed out before she died, so, uh." His smile is thin, fragile. "No pain. Worse ways to go."

"She became disoriented during CAP, began shooting at nothing…" Cidra murmurs it as less a report than words to fill the air. She bows her head for a moment. It's a spiritual act. Also an excuse to give her a few seconds to collect herself. When she raises her eyes again she's able to look at Villon. She makes herself look. "Treat her body with all the respects, please. I do not know what her customs were but I…I will speak to the chaplain. We shall figure it out. Aron?" A hand is reached out to place on Matise's shoulder.

A hasty post-flight check is made by Lucky and the deck hand assigned to help with that, the power-downed Viper then walked away from, her intent being on joining the others. Her approach is slowed and then halted as she catches part of that discussion and she simply stares at the fallen Snag, her expression unreadable.

"Oh, Gods…" Psyche mewls, her features crumbling. She starts to shake, her helmet clattering to the deckplates; the pilot herself follows, falling to her knees. "Frak… ohfrakohgods…" Her hands cover her face, and the blonde pilot's shoulders cave, breathing hitching in a sob. "No…"

Matise receives the news with wooden demeanor, staggering backwards until he needs to sit back down on the deck — not in the least stabilized by Cidra's hand. Head buried in hands, the captain waves off those worried deckhands who dare approach him, shoulders hunched inwards as he, too, collects himself: or tries to, at least.

"Full honors," says the medic, turning to give those orders — until he's interrupted by a stone-faced EMT holding something in her hand — not yet visible, though the transfer is accompanied by a terse whisper. "Miri, get the MPs. Because Major, Captain, you other pilots — there's something else you should know." The medic rocks backwards on the balls of his feet, head tilting up to the ceiling before returning to Cidra and the others. "You don't just get hypercapnia. Could have been hypoventilation — respiratory depression, that is. Maybe she had a stroke; maybe she was taking drugs. Cocktail of opiates would do the trick, but we'd need to run tox to rule that out. Or — " And from behind his back he reveals a small canister that should be more than familiar to every pilot in the hangar: a steel cylinder marked 'TRIMIX' in square black lettering. "Or you could just breathe CO2 in through this," he says, depressing a valve to release a blast of air — or something similar — into the surrounds. "And that, as they say, is murder she wrote."

Cidra pales, her posture stiffening, cold anger now underlying the air of grief about her. "Murder…" It is breathed out in a low hiss. As if she dreads speaking it too loud. Blue eyes stare at the canister, hard as agates. "Gods preserve us…do what you must to get to the bottom of this, of course." A nod to the EMT. And a more somber one to Villon's poor body. "What…are there any precautions my people can take? Should take?"

"Wait…that can't be." Alessandra looks to the Major and then to the medic, Alessandra clearly confused. She isn't sure what is allowed to be said so she turns to Cidra for help, the CAG relied upon for leadership. The strength in her legs just gives up while she stands there, her weight sinking to the deck. It's a slow descent which keeps Allie from getting hurt but that's the only saving grace as everything else bodes poorly for her as she's on the verge of unconsciousness.

"It can't be?" Psyche raises her tear-streaked face, looking from Allie to Cidra, the medics… all around. "Just why the frak can't it be? Our planes explode on deck, we fire live rounds when we're supposed to be training… it's so frakking OBVIOUS someone's out to kill us… one of US is out to kill us… and now they succeeded, finally. Exactly HOW big a surprise is this, huh?" Her voice is pitched to the verge of panic, hysteria. She chokes on another miserable sob, part grief and part rage. "It can be, and it IS."

"Will somebody shut her up?" snaps the EMT, gesturing in the blonde pilot's direction. No sympathy from him — just exhausted snippiness. "And nothing, really, Major. They can bug out the moment they feel woozy, which — really — is what I understand happens when you pull a frakload of Gs like you pilots do." The medic twitches belatedly as he realizes he's been getting his fingerprints all over what could potentially be the key to any subsequent investigation. It's handed off to a subordinate who's snapped on a pair of gloves precisely for this purpose. "Other than that? No way to tell unless you start checking all the trimix for signs of tampering. It's all tested before the Fleet clears it for use, and though there's an outside chance this was simply a busted can — smart money's on the horse named Sinister."

"Lucky!" Cidra kneels next to Alessandra as she falls, palm touching the side of her face. Blue eyes flick up to Psyche. "Bubbles, get down here and help me with your wingman. We will get to the bottom of this but losing your head will get us there no faster." There's a clipped edge to her tone, the whiplike snap of an order. To the EMT, she just nods short. "Tampering. That we shall look for. Call the MPs down here promptly before they lose their best chance to sweep."

Alessandra's face is clammy and pale but she seems okay, at least enough so for her to try and wave off Cidra's call for aid. "I'm fine, Major. Just tired and very sad. It'll pass and I'll get my sea legs back soon." The hysteria from Pysche and the medic's snapping has her looking up, her eyes narrowing as she considers what to say. "I can not go into details," she eventually says to the LTJG. "Why don't you go and try to relax. Get out of your flight gear, get a hot shower and try to get some food down?" She's trying to be nice but there's a bristly undertone, Allie having gotten her toes stepped on by someone, somehow.

"You come over here and make me shut up, motherfrakker," Psyche snaps at the EMT — anger is so much easier than grief, and it functions better with a target. In the absence of the actual culprit, the medic will do nicely. She looks half ready to go over and get up in the man's grill — all five foot nothing of her — when the CAG calls. Her attention snaps 'round, anger and fear and pain flickering brightly one last instant before they dissolve into reluctant assent. Uncomfortable contrition. "Yes, sir," she responds flatly, climbing to her feet, moving stiffly. More orders, this time from Lucky. She blows out a breath, jaw tensing, chewing down her words. "Yes, sir," she says again, turning on her heel to depart.

Cidra passes a long look between Alessandra and Psyche, concern not terribly well-veiled. But she lets it lie for now. "We shall get to the bottom of this," she promises the both of them. There is a fervency in her voice, though where she comes by her certainty in that is anyone's guess. The CAG's face is still pale, and nowhere near it's usual inscrutable composure. One pilot dead, and the strong possibility the rest of hers are still in danger. Not a good night. She'll remain on the deck to settle whatever grim matters remain to be dealt with as far as the removal of Villon into the proper hands, and any preliminaries with the Deckies and MPs.

Psyche is flat-out ignored as the EMT spins on his heel to depart, stepping quickly to the hatch where the doctor has now appeared. It doesn't take her long to make her pronouncement, having held fingers to Villon's bare wrist and neck — no, no pulse. And gently, ever so gently, the doctor's bending over the girl's body to remove the dogtags resting on the stretcher. Brown hair is brushed back as nimble hands unclasp the chain, which glints dully beneath the light. Hexagonal tags are pressed into Cidra's hands with a silence that speaks volumes —

And right as she does there comes the sound of music when Villon's legs are moved, music filtering out from those purple earbuds she carries around with her no matter where she goes — peeping out from one of the pockets of her flight suit. Even the gruff EMT jerks to a stop as his men search frantically for the button that'll turn it off, but not before the faintest whisper of song catches the ears of those nearby —

The wind is gone/
Asleep at dawn/
The embers burn on…

For the long patrol is over.

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