PHD #171: Time for a Test Drive
Time for a Test Drive
Summary: The overhauled sims are taken for a test drive.
Date: 16 Aug 2041 AE
Related Logs: Three Questions & Making It Happen
Marko Tisiphone Trask 
Flight Simulation - Deck 11 - Battlestar Cerberus
Post-Holocaust Day: #171
A training room specifically dedicated to honing aerial skills, this area is equipped with several flight simulator pods that allow the pilots to practice maneuvers and tactics without being in a real live plane. The Viper-pods are installed on one side of the room with a little space between them, an attempt to provide a realistic feel for close-range wing training, while a smaller number of Raptor sim-pods are installed on the opposite side of the room from the Vipers. A central computer terminal and overhead display screen sits at the head of the room, where one can input exercises and data to be run in the sims, scroll through score records, and control the training modules.
Condition Level: 3 - All Clear

After a luxurious stay in Sickbay recovering from bulletholes, followed by a week-long vacation in the brig and three weeks' KD courtesy of the JAG, Tisiphone is finally catching up on the loose ends she left behind.

One of the biggest — or at least looming-est — was that of the flight simulator updates. As soon as she was able to sit in the sim-pods again, it was back to the virtual grindstone, testing out all code Marko had polished up during her, ahem, time away.

And now, i's mostly dotted, t's mostly crossed, they've assembled their Show And Tell for the one who got them working on this in the first place — Lieutenant Trask, 'Interim' Harriers SL.

"Whew…and _that_…is _That_!" Marko grins, pumping his fist in triumph as the last of the hard code is entered into the computers controlling the sim pods' memory banks. "Oh Frak, lookit the time." he says, running his hand through his hair to smooth it and straightening out his off duty fatigues.

Dressed in his duty greens — isn't it some unspoken rule that commanding officers should be wearing the blues? — Trask arrives more or less at the appointed time, strolling inside with all the aplomb of someone fashionably late despite not actually being tardy. "AH-TEN-SHUN!" he calls out in standard military cadence.

Marko comes to attention quickly, wincing as Trask makes his appearance. "Oh no….formal Trask……Gods, I hope this thing works…" he mumbles to Tis.

"It's gonna work," Tisiphone says, the look she gives to Marko anything but assured. "You're sure it's gonna work. What if-" The sound of Trask's voice cuts her fretting off like a switch was flicked, and she hastily stiffens into her very best (which is to say, rigid nearly unto toppling) salute. "Sir."

"At ease," the SL nonchalantly instructs, as though he didn't just intentionally try to make the young'uns crap their pants just for shits and giggles. Moseying on over, he lifts his nigh omnipresent coffee thermos to take a swig, but not before asking, "So. What'cha kids got for me? I'm in the mood for a razzle-dazzle magic show."

"Well, sir. I think we've got it." Marko says simply. "Working on the flight model Lieutenant Apostolos and you gave me, we've been able to build virtual Raiders and Heavies that can think and act like the real thing. It's about 98.77, sir. We just don't have the computing power that the Cylons do to fully map their AI." he explains. "But they're crafty and aggressive little buggers, sir. From there, I've been able to code up six basic simulations ranging from 'one on one' to 'fit hits the shan.'."

"They're looking really good," Tisiphone chimes in as she de-salutes, mouth primmed for a moment at the rank Marko applies to her. After the tiniest of throat-clearing, she continues. "The more combat footage we have to go through, the better we can tune their AIs, too. /And/, we can pilot them ourselves in the sims, to try to learn how to react better to them." She almost bounces on the balls of her feet as she adds that last bit. For as unnerved as she seems about approaching any of the Raiders in the hangar bay, she's awfully eager to fly imaginary ones.

Coffee thus imbibed, Kal inquires, "Fit hitting the shan, huh? You suddenly develop dyslexia? Apostolos sure as frak ain't no El-Tee, anyway." A glance Ensignwards, then, with a blithely added, "Good job on that, by the way." It is not hard to mentally tack on 'dumbass' to the end of that sentence. Back to Marko, "What about 'gangbanged up the ass with a chainsaw and no lube'? Now, /that/ would be a useful scenario." Having closed the distance, he reclines against one of the Raptor training pods. "So. Fire 'em up. It's time for a test drive."

Ooops….way to impress the CO, Flasher. "You got it, sir." he adds, and moves, quickly to the control console. "Got anything in particular in mind?" he asks as he starts loading the appropriate programs.

The Ensign's shoulders tighten and her mouth twists as she sucks on her teeth, ensuring whatever words were immediately at the ready stay muted. "It's just some brass, it doesn't matter," Tisiphone mutters, eyes on some spot on the floor between herself and the Harriers' SL, convincing absolutely no-one of her lack of caring about said demotion. She clears her throat quietly and turns, scrubbing at her overgrown scalpfuzz as she heads for a Viper pod, her face pinker than it was before.

"Mmm-hmm." Lazily, Trask smirks. "You just keep tellin' yourself that, Sparky." Er, Money Shot. Eyes alight on Marko, waiting to be wowed. "Is general awesomeness specific enough?" Helpful, isn't he?

"I think I can handle that, sir." Marko replies with a genuine grin and starts keying up one of his favorite programs. "Okay, sir, this one, I like to call 'Survey Says'." he says after settling the headset on his head and switching on the comm systems. "Going online, now. Okay, Boots, say hello to your new pilot 'Lieutenant John 'Jim' Johnson'. Say hello, Jim." he calls, keying one of the many virtual pilots used for ECO training online. As he does, Trask's Raptor does an abrupt but not too severe wing waggle.

"Okay, this scenario is taking place above Planetoid 332-AB. The Cerberus has jumped into a system that an advance recon party has reported contains water and other useful resources. Boostrap, your job on this flight is to try and find those resources. Money Shot, you're flying his wing. Any questions?"

No answer for Trask, just another scrub of her head and a hasty vanishing within the Viper sim-pod. It's safe in there. Well. SafER. "Check, check-check," comes Tisiphone's voice over the comms, shortly thereafter. "Everything's green. Jim, this is Ensign Apostolos, callsign 'Money Shot'. I'll be escorting you, six o'clock high, until the Cylons ruin our day." Her imaginary Mark VII waggles her wings as she says it.

"Please don't suck," mutters Tisiphone to herself, within the sim-pod, as she shakes tension out of her arms and tries to find a more comfortable position in her seat.

Setting his thermos aside, Bootstrap assumes the position in his pod. Buckled in, helmet on, and systems fired-up, he's good to go. "We copy you, Money Shot. Commencing passive DRADIS sweep."

For the first fifteen minutes, it's just a normal patrol. Turns out that scouting party knew what they were talking about. Planetoid 332-AB does indeed contain a large body of fresh water, and sufficient oxygen and carbon dioxide for all manner of green, leafy things. Not to mention a reasonable amount of game. Not exactly a paradise, mind, there's enough sulfur dioxide down there to kill a human not wearing a breath mask inside of fifteen minutes. But it's a good place to harvest a few supplies.

And then, out of the blue, guess what Trask's DRADIS sweep picks up, jumping into the system, about fifty kilometers away and closing like bats out of hell. A pair of Cylon Raiders.

"Money Shot, Bootstrap. Looks like we're goin' on a double date. Pickin' up two Raiders about fifty clicks out. Planetary scans are completed, so I suggest we turn those frakkers into scrap and head on home." Sure, he could FTL, but that would mean leaving behind his wingman, who cannot. Vipers suck like that.

Vipers, the sole defenders of the Cerberus and its twenty-five hundred souls! Is there anything they can't do? Unfortunately, there's an entire itemized list. With footnotes. And highlighted passages. Including 'getting the frak outta Dodge when trouble appears.'

"Bootstrap, this is Money Shot. Copy that, closing to engage. I'll keep your paint job pretty." Big words, considering the batting record the Cerberus's vipers have with defending Raptors. Her afterburners flare to bluish-white life and boost her toward the closing Raiders, arcing off toward the left in hopes of drawing them both away.

The two Raiders opt to split the targets between themselves, RCS puffing a little as one vectors to begin firing at Trask and the other starts lining up for Money. The flight pattern is almost identical to the gun camera footage they've been given.

While the Viperjock does what it is that Viperjocks do, the ECO is busy with ECM type stuff. "A'right, Jim. You do your part to not get us killed and I'll do mine." Targets locked, Trask attempts ECM suppression.

"Oh, come ON," bitches Tisiphone at the Raiders splitting off on her DRADIS. Tense much? Her? NEVER. Her Viper scythes around, 20mm cannons spraying a line of fire as she goes, as she doubles back to harass the Raider targeting Jim and Bootstrap. Over the comms: "Hang tight, I'm coming back for you." Trying to line up a shot while trying to keep a Raider off your own ass isn't high on her list of enjoyments, but bedamned if she won't try. She'd like to avoid a second unsaid 'dumbass', tonight.

Marko said the code was good, he didn't say it was _perfect_. Tisiphone's Cylon makes a horrible blunder by staying in her sights that fraction of a second too long and receives a nice peppering of 20mm across the fuselage for its troubles. It does however, succeed in squeezing off a burst of fire in her direction that should keep her occupied for the few seconds it'll take for it to correct its vector. The Cylon on Trask's nose is a little more with it, and squeezes off a solid hit on the Raptor's nose.

"So, remember how I said to do your part to not get us killed?" Bootstrap mildly snarks to his AI pilot, "You're doing it wrong." On a more positive note, he comments, "Sharp shootin' there, Money Shot." Beat. "'course, a programming fail deserves a lot of the credit." Once more, jamming of the Cylon sensors is attempted.

"Here to make you proud, Sir," crackles Tisiphone's oh-so-droll voice over the comms. A little tighter: "Raptor pilot's dodging funny." 'Funny.' That's precise. "Maybe grab more of Toast's footage. Hang on." Her Viper zips over and past the Raptor's canopy, perhaps a little close for comfort, gunfire strafing through imaginary vacuum soon as it's safe to take her shot.

Trask's sensor jamming works, and what should've been a kills hot goes a hair wide of the oncoming Raptor. Fortunately, Money Shot's gunnery combined with an AI still compiling itself reduces it to a cloud of rapidly expanding debris. The one on Tisiphone, however, is not so dumb, but her stick and rudder skills queer its firing solution and its next burst goes wide.

Raptor pilot's flying 'funny'? "Maybe he made El-Tee 'cuz he sucked off his last CAG." Then the Raider hounding the Raptor goes kablooey. "Maybe the same can be said about that toaster." Locking on the remaining target, Trask adds, "If only you handled yourself this well outside of the cockpit, Cubits." Dry, so dry.

"If only, Sir. If only." Are the sim-comms clear enough to convey the sound of someone trying to quip through set teeth? "I'd be a-" Tisiphone's voice squeezes off as she flips her bird over and back in a way that would shear her wings off in atmo. Even in the sims, muscle memory's a funny thing. "-full L-T by now. Splash one Raider, engaging final target." Again she tries to 'herd' it away from the Raptor through long bursts of gunfire before targeting it with more precision.

"Really?" Incredulous Kal is incredulous. Why, if smirks could be heard, it would be. "Looks like the issues might be mathematical instead of programming related 'cuz you clearly fail to realize that four years of service is more than you've clocked." No full-LT for Tis.

It's almost a foregone conclusion, with typical Cylon suicidal tendency, the Raider persists in engaging Money Shot's Raptor past the point of no return. Tisiphone's muscle memory is spot on and her burst catches the enemy craft right across the grill and arcs slowly into the eye slot, sending deadly 20mm deep into its body cavity. It's here that the Raider's armor works against it. The shells bounce around, shredding the artificial brain, flight controls and other systems until one of them finds a fuel line. Result? BOOOM! One dead raider.

"It was a-" Tisiphone's voice cuts out to the sound of simulated bursts of autocannon fire. "-joke, Sir," she finishes, grumpily, as she flies through the debris cloud to soar back toward the Raptor with its 'funny' pilot. "Second Raider is eliminated, DRADIS is clear."

Mission Accomplished. "Right-o. Arr-Tee-Bee," Trask announces, starting to power down his pod. "And for that prize-winning shot, you get to draft the Ay-Ay-Arr, Ensign." Sliding the pod open, he unfastens and removes his helmet, then unbuckles the belt. "Not bad, Flasher. Promising start." Easing out of the simulator, the SL asks, "Think you can get the kinks out before the next op?" AKA, Sagittaron.

Marko nods as he pulls the headset off. "Absolutely, sir." he replies confidently. "Just gimme the intel and I'll get it programmed for everything from 'Nobody Here but us Saggiitarans' to 'The Infernal Trap from Hell'." he grins.

"Didn't actually /see/ anyone, huh?" This from Tisiphone, as she climbs out of her sim-pod and scrubs both hands back and forth over her head. She's frowning slightly, the sullen tone from her comms chatter having taken root upon her features. Rather than wait for an answer, she veers to another topic: "Captain Sitka's offered to test-pilot. I'll let him know the sim's ready for fine-tuning."

"Kinda meant it more in a 'having something ready in the possible event that we get shot to the river Styx' sort of way. Havin' the toasters fully functional is the priority. Besides, Bunny, Jugs, an' I will be briefing the Wing on insurgent tactics." Of which aforementioned trio is woefully well-informed from first-hand experience. At what Tisiphone says, Trask nods. "Glad to hear it. Lemme know what he finds." Sitka, that is. Going back to the insurgents, all that is said is, "Don't need to see anyone down there for them to try shooting you to shit. And we're bankin' that they'll try."

"No, Tis, we didn't. All we got were scattered heat blooms and coded message traffic." Marko replies, sighing a bit. "And, if I may, sir." he say to Trask. "I suggest whatever we send into that system be lead by someone from there, someone that knows the lay of the land." he adds. "Because they're going to be bat shit paranoid, and who could blame them?" he shrugs. "Get somebody who speaks the language, understands the culture. Otherwise, sir, frankly, it's gonna be a balls up of the first magnitude."

Insurgent tactics. Tisiphone's hands pause at the base of her skull, fingers absently scratching there, before they flop down into her pockets where their fidgeting is restrained. "If they're- insurgents," she posits, exquisitely neutral, her attention upon a worn seam in one boot, "and they believe it's the CMC that nuked them, not the Cylons, I don't think they'll deign to speak Standard, no. Sounds like Captain Sitka's information paid off. CAG's given the thumbs-up to both of us going along."

Reaching down to retrieve his thermos, Trask tells Marko, "Already accounted for." A dip of assent to what the Saggie just said. "Insurgents have no love for VAQs, either." Spoken like someone with personal experience. "I suspect Stavrian will be commandeered for the mission, too." Sliding the lip guard back, some coffee is savored, then wiped from his mouth with the back of his free hand. "I can hurl invectives like a mofo, and recite at least 3 dozen variations, off the top of my head, of 'you are so dead' and 'kill them'. That's pretty much all I ever needed to learn." Adding something to Tisiphone's assessment, he sardonically smirks, "Even if they believe that Cylons are responsible, a lot of 'em still won't hesitate to fight a two-front war. And on that chipper note of genocidal hatred for the Colonial military and government, I'm off."

"We'll get the sims prepped. Do we have any intel on the kinds of SAMs the Saggitarans might have?" Marko inquires. "I know they're bound to have some shoulder-fired stuff. Every other frakkin' resistance movement winds up with it, some time or another." he adds.

"The ability to call someone a dogfrakking coward solves a lot," notes Tisiphone, turning away to close her sim-pod door. The motion pauses half-way as she adds, "Can't imagine Jesse's any more interested in staying shipside for this than Shiv and I were, Sir," then finishes the gesture.

"Most recent intel we have is from when I was stationed aboard the Victory," which is a rather notorious posting due to its high burn-out and casualty rates. "So, early February of this year." That being his last assignment before transferring to the Cerberus might explain a few things. "It'll all be detailed in the mission briefing. Pretty much, it's a case of hope for the best but expect — and plan — for the absolute worst. Hells, if /I/ were an insurgent, I'd probably think the Colonials sent the Cylons to do their dirty work. Not like that shit didn't happen before the first war." Cynical ECO is cynical. He also is taking his leave. With a jaunty, scout-style salute, he departs with, "Keep me posted on those revisions."

Marko nods, coming almost to attention, but not, as no formal annoucement was made. "I'll go through the records and see what we've got." Marko replies. "The worst being those bastard Stingrays.." he sighs. "Little shoulder-fired numbers, low ceiling but _frak_ they'll blow a ship out of the sky."

Tisiphone looks back over her shoulder for a moment, fixing an odd look on the departing Trask. Pale brows twitch as she considers her words; what ends up coming out is a dutiful, "We'll keep you informed. Appreciate your time, Sir."

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