PHD #357: Viper 2.5
Viper 2.5
Summary: Pallas finally hits the configuration of modifications he wants for his Mark II Viper. Cidra watches and asks questions regarding just about everything.
Date: 18 Feb 2042 AE
Related Logs: None.
Cidra Pallas 
Flight Simulation - Deck 11 - Battlestar Cerberus
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.
Post-Holocaust Day: #357

Pallas' recent scorecards from his sim runs have been pitiful, to say the least. But that's to be expected - he's testing out potential Areion-style modifications to a Viper Mk II, and he's getting closer and closer to the end result he wants. It's a little disorienting, switching back and forth between the actual oldschool birds and simulated modified ones, but he finally tallies up two more kills for his record before shutting down the program and unstrapping himself from the sim pod. "I need more lateral controls," he grunts as he lights up a cigarette. "I need to be able to fly sideways, not just drift that way. And the roll controls aren't responsive enough."

Cidra is observing Pallas performance from the front console. Already smoking, for her part. The woman is rarely not, when she has a vague excuse to. She's in her flight gear. Sans helmet, but it's tucked carefully on the floor nearby. She's rarely out of it these days, in case the klaxons sound. "Ah…" Whatever she makes of his scores causes the slight exhale, and her glance down at the final read-outs. "Interesting…" She does not immediately say what she finds interesting. It may be an idle comment for herself more than him. Or not. Who knows with her, really.

"Load up the modifications, or whatever the frak you need to do," Pallas says to the technician, waving his hand dismissively. Off she goes to try to meet his demands, which have only increased as trials continue. "Interesting, what's interesting?" he asks Cidra flatly. "I've gotten only three kills in the past nine trials. Killed in four of them. My frakking stats are better than that in actual battles in real, unmodified Mark IIs." He tosses his helmet to the ground, letting it roll toward the front console where Cidra is. "The bird feels too heavy. She doesn't respond as quickly as the real Mark IIs do. They probably just adapted the frakking Mark VII program instead of taking combat data from a real Mark II, the frakking lazy bastards."

"That is not all that interesting. Or to what I was thinking on," Cidra replies in something of a dry deadpan, to Pallas' listing of his kill 'record.' Not that she actually tells him what she finds so interesting. Yet. "You are probably correct. Concerning the simulators, I do mean. They are designed for Mark Seven programming and the adjustments they can make are…imperfect. It is a frequent irritant for those pilots who still favor the older birds." A pause. "I have been curious why you have taken to the Twos recently." Does she sound amused? Yes. Vaguely. She drags on her cig and sits comfortably at her console, regarding him while she awaits an answer.

"The Twos are sturdier," Pallas answers with a snort. "And the Sevens might be better fliers, but the avionics package is a frakking clutch. I guarantee most of these frakking green flyboys couldn't navigate an asteroid field if their systems got knocked out. I want full manual control." He ashes his cigarette out the side of his sim pod carelessly. "Plus the Twos only have two mounted cannons. Makes it lighter. Faster. I can fly circles around those frakking Raiders in one of these things. Get me better RCS and hairline controls, and they'll never be able to hit me." Leaning out of the pod, he shouts to the technician, "You! Take out point-seven seconds from the control systems delay manually. If you can't program in a Gods-be-damned Mark II, you can at least simulate its behavior."

"Twos are likely the only reason the lot of us are alive. The way Sevens and the Raptors shorted on Warday, when the Cylons were mussing with our CNP. Twos put the guns on the toasters more or less alone while we all rebooted," Cidra says. It's not quite sentimental, given the subject, but there's a certain fondness for the old craft in her tone. The technician earns an apologetic look from the CAG, though her gaze drifts back to Pallas eventually. In that weighing sort of way with which she ofte looks at things. "That is rather what I was referring to earlier. It…interests me. Studying your flight patterns, and those of Bubbles. It is…somewhat counterintuitive to what one would expect, really."

"Of course Bubbles' flight patterns are counterintuitive," Pallas retorts. "She's supposed to fly out of enemy fire, not into it. At the rate she's going, she'll be in Sickbay permanently." There's an uncharacteristic tone to his words that lessens their usual harshness. He and Psyche had been doing fairly well as wingmates lately. "As for my mine being counterintuitive, I don't know what you're frakking getting at, Toast. I fly as I'm meant to fly."

"I was speaking more comparatively," Cidra replies dryly, with an idle flick to ash her cig in her ashtray. The things are strategically positioned most places the CAG spends any kind of time. "Bubbles is a bruiser. Her handling rather reminds me of the way Lasher used to fly. Though she has a better core feel for flying. Straight on, aggressive, she would rather absorb the hits than play at aerobatics and get thrown off her shot. Not what one would expect from how she is personally. You, however, show a rather…graceful inclination toward aerobatic flight." Pause. "As I did say, not what one might expect."

"Lasher flew like the clit-chewing backwater inbred he was," Pallas spits. Nothing but high praise for his former Squadron Leader. "Bubbles at least demonstrates the capacity for finesse in combat. Lasher may as well have mounted a frakking ram onto his Viper and flew into the enemy." He flicks his cigarette toward Cidra's ashtray; it doesn't get anywhere near it. "There's a reason that Lasher's dead, Bubbles is broken, and I'm still flying."

"We are in the business of killing, Spiral. Killing or being killed. Though at times we might want to forget it," is Cidra's reply to that. Eyes tick down to follow Pallas' flicked cigarette, then up to him, brows arching. All of prim disapproval for casual littering. "And finesse will only get you so far. All the precision, all the slightness of motion…just a little off, just once, and suddenly none of it is enough."

"You think I've forgotten that, Toast?" Pallas asks defiantly. "Every frakking pilot I talk to agrees that we have Cylon agents in the Fleet, but how many of them are watching closely? How many of them are waiting to catch the slightest sign that someone might be the enemy?" Standing up from his pod, he steps forward and crushes the cigarette beneath his boot. "I am. Because the enemy that's killing us isn't the one that's out there, attacking every night. It's the one that's in here, on this frakking ship, listening to our conversations and giving away our secrets. Everyone's so frakking busy being buddy-buddy with each other, playing charades and clapping each other on the back, they've all let their guards down. I haven't. I'm still frakking watching."

Cidra snorts at mention of charades. Eyeing him steadily. Not that that's the bit she responds to, of course. "I will not call you wrong, Spiral. We all well know there are still Cylon agents aboard this ship. The Marines and Intel are hunting for signs of them, but it we are ruled by paranoia and jump at every shadow we are no better than if we are careless." Head tilts. "And what would you propose we do, if you were Admiral of this ship?"

"I'd grow a frakking pair of balls, that's what I'd do," Pallas says through gritted teeth, grinding that cigarette butt into the floor. "Frak 'fair trial'. Frak 'due process'. We've got five frakking ships left to humanity's name, and Command is too busy rinsing out their dusty cunts with saltwater douches." Stepping across, he picks up his helmet and examines it for damage. "I'd arrest every known Cylon sympathizer and interrogate them. They may not know who the Cylons are, but I guarantee you there'd be similarities in their stories that would point to the right suspects. I'd turn this Fleet upside-frakking-down to purge the Cylon agents. Because we can fight off wave after wave of Raiders, Toast, and keep losing pilots and birds. But there's no point in aiming our guns outward if there's a leak that's sinking the ship."

Cidra listens to that colorful description of the situation inscrutably. Par for the course with her. And then, rather randomly, she asks him, "Do you believe Admiral Abbot was a Cylon?" The question is honest. As if she really wants to know, and is consulting him for wisdom on the matter. Such as it might be.

Pallas blinks, caught off-guard by the question. He narrows his eyes at Cidra, unable to tell if she's trying to trap him into something, then turns back toward his sim pod. "If he was, he should've been shot on the spot," he answers reluctantly. Not a yes or a no. "How should I frakking know. They kept all that information compartmentalized." The answer is given brusquely, as though he's angry that he doesn't have a definitive answer.

"I do not know, either," Cidra says, voice tinged with a similar sort of frustration, though hers is more somber than angry. "When Major Tillman moved against him, after the information we received from Leonis, I agreed it had to be done. I supported him against Abbot. And yet…even if he was, there are still agents on this ship doing the same work. Hells, perhaps behind their hunting of us now."

Pallas is silent for a while as he gets back in his pod, straps himself down, and pulls his helmet back on. The new modifications are ready for testing, and his console blinks at him. "Almost been a year, Toast," he says, his voice now coming over the comms system. "Intel's come up with frak-all and Command's barely managed to keep us alive. Time for a change of tactics." He loads up the new program, which gives him a few seconds to test out the modified Viper. He rolls left and right, loops and spins, testing out its dexterity and reaction time. Seems to be acceptable. "Start the test."

"Simulation loaded. Beginning program on my mark." Cidra speaks into the little microphone at her console. "Comes upon a year not two weeks hence." And her tone is truly somber at that. "Seems like three lifetimes ago. What tactics would you recommend, Spiral?" Again, the question is genuine. If there's a trap, she's yet to spring it. "In any case. Three…two…one…mark!"

On Cidra's mark, the simulation loads a random scenario to pit Pallas alone against a pair of Cylon Raiders. This time, it's inside heavy EMI distortion, making a garbled mess of his DRADIS in the already low-visibility conditions of a wreckage field. "What a frak-around," he mutters as he maneuvers about, trying to get a fix on the bandits. Nothing yet. "Besides rounding up the sympathizers?" he asks, distracted. "Set up a honeypot. Leak critical disinformation to certain people and see who takes the bait."

"Good notion. You think Intel is not already doing so?" Though, from Cidra's tone, she might well suspect they aren't. Always hard to tell with her. Eyes scan the program as the data lights up on her screen. "Field reminds me of the Virgon graveyard. Or space around Tauron. Cannot say it is not practical."

"Intel's sitting around knuckle-frakking each others' assholes and sniffing their fingers to see who has the best grade of shit," Pallas replies. He obviously has great opinions of the entire ship's crew. "They're a bunch of useless frakking mouth-breathers who couldn't even foresee a frakking Cylon incursion. I put no faith in them." The two Raiders, still not visible to him, open fire simultaneously from different directions; Spiral reacts instantly, pushing his bird straight down and dancing around debris. "As long as there's no frakking mines," he grunts under the exertion of G-forces.

"Ah." The exhale is short at Pallas' colorful description of Cerberus Intel department. She's not even touching that one. "Close one. Forget DRADIS. Useless in a mess like this. You started in Intel, did you not?" The question, though vaguely conversation, is definitely not idle this time.

"Thanks, Toast," Pallas snaps, still maneuvering to try to lose the Raiders. "Does it look like my first time in a frakking Viper to you?" It's not until he manages a sharp change of vector in a moderately clear space that he loses one Raider; the second one, he turns and fires upon after drawing it out a little farther. No hits, but he at least manages to make the bandit break off his tail. "So I did," he answers finally, minutes after the question is asked. "Didn't make it into Flight School - twice. So I got shoved into Intel, because apparently that's where you frakking go with an astrophysics degree. Like it frakking mattered. All Intel ever did was sit around and talk about frakking bullshit, listening to the wireless."

"Those aboard the Areion seemed to be up to much more than that. Whatever in hells they were doing before Warday," Cidra observes. "Yes. I have read through your service record a few times. It is interesting." Another observation she doesn't immediately elaborate on. She gives him no further tips on Viper flight, settling back and actually just watching him navigate. She lights another cigarette.

"They have their skills. I rather like many of them," Cidra says. Obliquely, again no elaboration is offered. Short, approving nod at his perpendicular flying. No actual compliment over the comms, of course. He certainly doesn't have to *know* she approves. "I would like to know more of why such a thing as their ship was created. Intelligence was doing more than listening to the wireless when building that Gun, at least."

"To which my question is, why didn't the rest of the frakking Fleet know that this ship existed or that it was arming itself for a potential - frak!" Pallas' question is cut short when the second Raider catches him off-guard, blasting through some wreckage to ambush him. The battlefield is tight and there's no room for maneuver; Spiral decides to head into the wreckage instead of navigate around it, his Viper taking a fair bit of dings and dents as he does so. "Frak it, I'm testing the systems, not whether or not I can kill these two sons of bitches," he hisses into his comms, and flips around to engage while flying like a madman. Except his little foray into the debris ended up jamming the cannon on his right wing. It explodes the first time he pulls the trigger, his wing goes flying out, and the Raider comes and sweeps up easily while he spins out of control. Simulation over.

Cidra winces a little at Pallas is well and thoroughly pretend-killed. "Scores recorded, powering down," she says, no inflection in her voice in terms of how she thinks he did at that run. "That is the question." To his first. "The right hand did not know what the left hand was doing in many cases at Fleet Headquarters, it seems to me. Parnassus Anchorage was surrounded by a minefield illegal under our laws when we first found it, yet we had clearly built it ourselves. And there was that clusterfrak we found on Leonis." Rare profanity from the CAG, and murmured mostly to herself. "It makes me wonder at times what I was serving all these years."

Pallas only laughs as his pod is powered down. Laugh and laugh and laugh as his helmet comes off. "You're only beginning to wonder now?" he asks dryly, shaking his head at the CAG. "You really were blinded by the bullshit, weren't you? Patriotism and duty and honor." Each of those words are accompanied by a grand hand gesture. "I am the Fleet, Toast. I am the Fleet." He narrows his eyes at her, cocking his head. "A bunch of drunk old bastards who talk about the good old days who skirt around regulations and don't give half a frak about anything but themselves." He sets his helmet down on the console to light a smoke, then turns to the technician. "Send the configuration you just plugged into the simulation down to the Deck. That's how I want my Viper built."

"I was," Cidra admits soft, as to being blinded by the bullshit. "Or I allowed myself to be." She'll linger here for awhile, to go over the data various pilots have logged on these things. And smoke. Though she does add to Pallas before she immerses herself in squinting and smoking, "I think you are mistaken on that. I think you give fair more than 'half a frak' about those you fly with. Which is all any of us have these days, and it is no small thing. Dismissed."

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