PHD #319: Very Bad Things
Very Bad Things
Summary: Bertha, Flasher and Sweet Pea plan some very bad things for the upcoming training exercise.
Date: 11 Jan 2042 AE
Related Logs: Air Wing, Roommates sort of.
Leyla Marko 
Inside the belly of the beast.
Post-Holocaust Day: #319

In the depths of Raptor 307, known to most as 'Bertha', LT (JG) Marko 'Flasher' Scaurus plugs his trusty portable computer into the ship's computer and starts carefully inputting commands. First, he runs a full diagnostic on every main system in the ship, making careful note of the two or three things that don't quite jibe with his idea of 100%. Then comes the fun part, a disc labeled 'Raptorball' is removed from the pocket of his BDU pants and slid into the portable's reader. Grinning ferally, the young man begins to upload a series of test programs.

Alas, the ECO is not alone in his foray into Raptor 307, if the sounds of faint clinking and clanking are anything to go by. Indeed, his pilot is stationed at the rear of the craft, back to the far wall, as she works at a series of cannisters she's been fiddling with most of the day. Adjusting things here, moving things there, reworking somewhere else. "I feel like we're back on double CAPs." Forty-eight hours is simply not enough time to prepare.

"Heh, yeah, tell me about it." Marko replies with a chuckle. "How's the ….what are we gonna call those things again, anyway? Anyway, how are those coming along?" he asks, gesturing with one hand to the cannister's Leyla's working with. A cheep from his portable causes him to look down and, grumbling to himself, he starts manually inputting commands in. "Okay, number five didn't quite jibe, knew that one wasn't up to spec. Easy fix though."

"Flashers." There's a wryness to Leyla's voice, "A little birdie told me it might be appropriate." Seeing as to how her ECO's callsign is Flasher, though Leyla's never been told the story. It's just a rumour, really. "They're coming. I'm trying to adjust them to we'll get maximum light dispersion when we fire them." A slight frown, at Marko's comment, "I just don't want to come out on the losing team."

"No worries, Sweet Pea." Marko nods, "I'm erasing the faulty code from the subroutine and putting in the right one. Forty eight hours….sheesh…" he sighs. "Some of the code on this disc is so buggy, I'll be here most of the night catching the flaws." he says, stretching out his legs on the floor of the ship to stretch them. "But, it should play hell with somebody's DRADIS, especially if they aren't expecting it."

"I managed to collect the spent launch cylinders, and the few that were not cleared for use in operations." Not every piece of equipment meant for a raptor actually makes it to final inspection, "We should have enough to be able to pull it off. "And I looked at how we could do the dump if we needed to. Should be able to work it into the exterior storage compartments.

"Yeah, I was thinking the same thing." Marko nods, smiling a little. "We hung 'em on the winglets, it'd be a dead giveaway, this way, the other guy's going to be going 'why the hell are they opening that in flight?' a few seconds before going 'oh frak, I can't see!'." he chuckles. "You do realize, we may both have to move aboard the Elpis for a while after this is over, just so we don't get throttled in our sleep."

"We're The Fighting Fourteenth, Flasher. We hit the ground running. If the Double Zeros want to keep up with us they need to learn to step up. And isn't this precisely about learning to work together? What could be better than learning to work together under adverse conditions? Besides, I already left a message for Poppy, to see if I could find out who'd be on our side so we could give them a heads up."

"Aw…where's the fun in that?" Marko chuckles darkly. "Besides, we tell our guys, we're gonna look like we've rigged it against the Aerion's people. Kind of not the point of the whole thing, eh?" he shrugs. "Besides, I've been wanting an excuse to…" he starts to say and is interrupted by another error beep. "Oh for frak's sake.." he grumbles. "Stupid DRADIS, there's nothing wrong with that code. Here, I'll spoon feed it to you." he says, starting to enter the commands one line at a time.

"They didn't tell you? It's mixed pairs. A Knight and a Spectre each for the teams. I'm just hoping I don't get there tomorrow and find out they're pulling you out and I have to have the knuckledraggers hose some Screwtop off my deck." Leyla finishes working on the launch canister she's been…modifying, and starts in on the next one. "I'm hoping we get Poppy on our side. She knows most of my tricks, can anticipate them just by the way I'm flying."

Marko chuckles and shakes his head emphatically. "No way, Sweet Pea, I wouldn't miss this for all the …something…someplace." Marko replies firmly. "Okay, see, I told you that code was fine." he says to the Raptor's computer. "Okay, that's our anti-jamming program." he explains. "I tried to work with direct comms jamming, but that'd take me about six months, a research team of a half dozen and a couple million cubits worth of grant money."

"Yeah. You'd think since we run the programs, we'd be able to jam the programs. But we'll have to go with slight of hand and ghost tracers. Speaking of which, I had some thoughts about using the shockwave from the raptor to disrupt the viper's flight path. Think we could work something up in the sims? Not to use in the game, but…" Leyla looks up from her work, "Get close enough to another ship, we could punch a hole in it big enough to drive a tank through."

"It'd definitely do-able." Marko replies, nodding. "Take us a couple of days to work out exactly how to do it, cause you'd have to input the FTL co-ordinates on the fly, and I'm assuming you're only talking about micro-jumps." he says. "Those are always fun to plot, I can imagine how much more fun they'll be to plot when you're getting shot at. And yeah, but I think the people that designed the comm systems was smart enough to realize that if _we_ can figure out how to jam 'em, the Cylons can too." he shrugs. "Speaking of jamming, how do you have those Flashers triggered?"

"Well, we'll need to do a few of those, I think, around the field, to keep us out of the Viper's reach and to get over the finish line. But at safe distance." A raptor, no matter how well piloted, will never, never, ever, be as fast as a viper. Or a raider, come to think of it, and Sweet Pea and Flasher have managed to evade several squadrons of those, using fancy flying, more than speed. "Timer. Activates as soon as they're launched, which means I'll need to evade the tracer fire and perfectly time the leading edge of my flight so that if the Viper comes in behind me like it should, it'll be right in the blast radius." Leyla takes a moment, "I don't think I have the equipment to be able to key them into the fire control systems." A crack shot Leyla might be, but there's only so much supply that can be used for training. "I'm not one for the gods or all that, but if I were, I would be praying I don't frak it all up tomorrow."

"Eh, I'm not, either, but after all the shit we've been through in the last eleven months, I've learned to pray just the same." Marko replies with a wry grin. "Maybe somebody's listening, maybe not. Doesn't cost anything but a few minutes of your time either way."

Leyla's first answer is a shake of her head, "It costs if all you're doing is speaking empty words that don't go anywhere. If there are gods out there, I'm pretty sure they're not interested in fair weather friends, or people saying words they don't really believe." Which is why you will never, ever, ever, see Leyla in the chapel. "I'd think they'd sort of find that insulting."

Marko sighs and rolls his eyes a little at Leyla's all too familiar bullheaded streak. "Lords, but you're pig headed." he says wryly. "Anyhow, now that we've established _that_…I think the rest of this code is going to load on its own, Gods be praised, or not, depending on your tastes." he snickers. And then the computer beeps at him again, eliciting a grumble. "Or not…Okay, Bertha, what's your bitch now?"

"Clearly, she doesn't like you insulting me. She's very sensitive to the feelings and emotions of her pilot, you know?" Even though, really, it's Marko who has his hands in her metaphorical grey matter much moreso than Leyla. For the time being, Leyla sets aside the canisters, turning instead to the interior door to the external storage spaces. "Better doublecheck the seals, don't want to be leaking atmo all over space."

"Sorry, Bertha." Marko coos, patting the console gently. "I was only kidding." he reassures the machine. "Eh, yeah, that would be a problem." he nods. "Besides, if we lose pressure in there, it'll make it hard to float the Flashers." he notes.

"She forgives you." Leyla pulls out her tool kit, which includes a testing strip for the seal, "Well, I thought about that too, dumping atmo, if we need to. Maybe dirtying up the engines, leaving as much contrail as we can." Not that there's much of any to begin with with tylium reactors, but…"I refuse to lose."

"Thank you, Bertha." Marko smiles, patting the console again as he re-writes a few more lines of code. "Eh, it's worth a shot, but Raptors are _very_ clean burners." he points out. "We put out less contaminants out the back end than the Vipers do." he continues. "But that makes sense, since we're supposed to be stealthy and sneaky and so forth. And, heh, I think I've got a pretty clear picture of your intentions, and I share them absolutely."

"You know, it's funny, at the meeting that we had before the Spectres moved in, their Major saying it had been a long time since they saw combat. How often have we seen it since the attack…and they call themselves veterans? Of what exactly? Seems to me like they've spent too much time blowing smoke up each other's asses, they're starting to believe the hype." Leyla can multitask, thankfully, she she's well on her way to making sure all of the seals are intact.

"Heh, yeah, I noticed that one." Marko chuckles darkly. "I mean, I'm sure they're fine pilots, I dunno about all of this 'Evocarti' nonsense, but can they get the job done? Sure, I mean they've had the same training as our people have." he shrugs easily. "The difference is, like you said, we've had to _use_ it more often than they have." he adds, still tappity-tapping at the keyboard. "We've learned the hard way that the tactics and maneuvers we were taught in school don't always work now. And we've got the double advantage of having to completely improvise new ones, on the fly, usually in the middle of big, frak off dogfights."

Work, work, work. It's what Leyla does best, and what she's doing now, "They're complacent, I think. They have that gun, whatever the hell it is. I mean, what's their usual tactic? Seems like it's bring everyone to the flak ring and fire the gun. They have those souped up Vipers…of course you're going to fly well when you're in something tailor made for you. Hell, half the birds we still have in the air were never supposed to do anything but fly demos with the Petrels." The IIs have been sturdy, Leyla won't deny that, but she also won't deny they're old as frak all. "And they can still keep up with the Cylons. And that's everything to do with their pilots and not the planes themselves."

"No arguments from me, Sweet Pea." Marko replies, nodding. "Like I said, this competition, well, even if we win, and I intend to make damn sure to do everything I can to ensure we do." he says firmly. "Even this isn't going to completely wipe the smirk off their faces. But I can't _wait_ to see their expressions change when the fit hits the shan next time."

"So do I, Flasher. I might not be the best pilot in the wing, but I'm damned sure going to make sure I represent tomorrow." But there's no doubt it does have Sweet Pea worried. It's a matter of pride, something few pilots and fewer Taurians lack. "I wonder why they never sent over any of the Screwtops?"

"Good question." Marko replies, finishing up the block of code he's been crunching and starting in on another. "They probably didn't want to leave their cushy ship for this one."

Leyla continues her way through her testing, moving from panel to panel. She's used to being the dogsbody to Marko's chairsitter, "You heard they're going to be changing some of the raptors over to work with their integrated ECM system?" Word still hasn't come down on whether or not Bertha will be one of them.

"A bit of it." Marko says. "Well, I heard that they were talking about it, not that they'd decided to do it." he qualifies. "Still not sure if that's a great idea." he adds flatly. "Frankly, I'd have to go over a hell of a lot more information than I've seen on that stuff before I felt comfortable with a move like that. Sounds like something just begging to get hacked by the Toasters right now."

"My feelings exactly." Leyla pauses, pulling out a tube of sealant to work on some places she's decided are just not as protected as she'd like. "And I don't like the idea of being hooked into them. Frankly, we've got NO idea who they even are. Everything about them is redacted. We've got no clue where they came from or why, except what they tell us and expect us to believe. And they refuse to tell us what they were doing for all those months when we were rescuing all that was left of humanity."

"Yeah, precisely." Marko says, stretching his legs again as he continues to work on the Raptor's computer. Other ECOs might have a tech do this sort of thing, not Marko. The only one he trusts touching the brains of this bird is him. "There's way too many question marks hanging over both that ship and their equipment for me to feel comfortable deal with it or them." he says flatly. "The fact that even _asking_ about it sends them into some kind of a tizzy isn't helping my trust meters at all."

"I just can't get over this feeling that they're just too convenient. Just being dumped into our laps like a gift from above. With a ship full of tech we've never seen, and nobody, that I know of on this ship knowing anyone on that ship. Have you heard of anyone?" Leyla finishes with the repair work, before she moves on. Looks like everything is getting the once over from the pilot.

Marko shakes his head briefly. "Nope, haven't ran across a name I recognize, but that's not exactly saying that much." he points out. "This was my first duty station in the Fleet, so I haven't heard of anyone except the people I went to Basic, flight school and ECO training with." he shrugs.

"Mark my words, Flasher. Dealing with this ship, trusting it is going to come back and bite us right on the ass." Leyla moves out of the back of the ship, finally, heading to her normal pilot's seat, "And Boots is going to be there to say I told you so…just before we screwed every which way to hades."

"Yeah, and the sad part of it is, nobody's listening to him." Marko nods. "Which is pretty frakked up, considering." he sighs. "Okay, the new subroutines are all in place." he reports. "Gonna tighten up a few things back here and then it's bed time." he says. "Well, food, then bed. You oughta get some rack time yourself, you know. Tomorrow's going to be a bastard and a half."

"Nobody ever listens to Boots. And I swear the man always turns out to be right. If ever there was a descendant of Pythia in our midst, it's Kal Trask." Leyla looks back at the man still working at his station, "I will. You go on and finish up there. I'll see you back in the berthings."

"You'd think that'd buy him some credit from the brass, but it doesn't." Marko snerks. "Which is a sad commentary on things, Anyhow, By your command, Sweet Pea." Marko calls, pulling up the programs that his diagnostic identified as not being quite right and starting to rework them. "See you in….some unspecified time in the future." he adds, stifling a yawn behind his fist before setting to work.

"Just you remember you said that, Junior Lieutenant." It's rare to never that Leyla actually makes any comment on the fact that she outranks her ECO. Only at times like these, when it's meant to be in good fun. But soon, she too is back to work getting final prep done for the exercise on the morrow. And quietly, in the middle of all of it, she settles a hand on Bertha's DRADIS, her words meant for herself, and no one else, "Please don't let me screw up."

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