PHD #009: EVENT - Virgon's Vengeance
Virgon's Vengeance
Summary: Evan and Trask need to get some photorecon of Virgon. Things don't go as planned. Or hoped.
Date: 07 March 2041
Related Logs: First Virgon Recon, Graveyard Stuff
Evandreus Trask Tillman 

Port Hangar Deck

The scouts haven't even been gone long before a crew is called up for an unspecified mission. The word is to meet Tillman on the Port Hangar Deck. Thus, he's there already with a clipboard and talking to a PO1. His whole stance is serious, the Raptor next to him prepped and ready to go. There's already a ground crew performing final checks.

Evandreus had been prepped up and ready as backup for piloting out the scouting mission, and so is on deck not a few moments after the call went out for another team, grabbing helmet from locker once more and tucking it under his arm before looking both ways and crossing the deck to the prepped Raptor. "Sir," he comes to a brisk attention for the Tillman. Or as brisk as if possible while cradling a flight helmet.

Turns out that Trask has been keeping busy on the Deck for reasons likely known only to himself, the Chief, the Chief's second, the CAG, and Quinn. When word comes down to get suited-up, it's one-two-three. Upon spotting the TACCO, he excuses himself from a conversation he was having with a PO2 and a Specialist, and makes his way Clivewards. "Sir," he greets, drawing his free hand into a salute, and then a small smile to, "Bunny."

Tillman looks to the aircrew and returns the salute quickly. The PO1 looks to them as well, the medical brassard suddenly visible. "Gentlemen. I hope you're up for some difficult flying. Command wants you down in the soup." A pause. "You're dropping down to Virgon. The medic here is going to administer boosters for radiation treatments." The PO1 produces a couple syringes from a bag on his hip. "Here is your tasking." The Captain hands off the clipboard to Evandreus. "You're going to recon three cities that we want photos of. Two will be high altitude: Phaeton City and Venona Bay. The third will be a very low altitude, fast pass of Skyler City's downtown area." Skyler - a regional capital. "Get clear lens photos where possible. If the soup is too thick, I want you to use thermal imaging." He looks between them. "If you run into any resistance of any kind, you beat feet the frak out of there and jump home. And, I am deadly serious about this - do not land for any reason. If you run into mechanical problems, you are to abort. There are no guarantees your suits will hold up against that kind of radiation." The PO1 goes about administering shots. "Any questions?"

You're dropping down to Virgon. It would be such a day-to-day order on any other day but this. Today it takes the Bunny a little funny, but he sets his jaw against a momentary pallor and makes a mental map of the cities to be scoped out, imagining it all in his mind and mapping out the most efficient course for the three. He tips his head to the side to allow the medic in with the shots, and then, when there are no more bits of sharp metal poking into him, he gives Tillman a sharp shake of his head. "No, sir. High altitude sweeps of Phaeton City and Verona Bay. Low altitude sweep of downtown Skyler City," he reiterates; that latter area, at least, he knows pretty well. He looks to Bootsies, then.

Were it any other pilot who is not Quinn, the ECO would be feeling a lot more dread. As it stands, Evan is probably the only other person in the Air Wing that he explicitly trusts with his life. That's a bond formed in the hellsfire of Sagittaron war zones. "Good thing that I don't wanna have babies." Beat. "Ever." That's all Trask has to say about the possibility of an irradiated nutsack, let alone the rest of his body. As far as questions go, he figures he might as well ask, "General grab what we can, or is there somethin' in particular we should be lookin' for?"

Tillman nods to Trask, the movement a jerky one. "Yes: Cylons. So far a quick DRADIS sweep revealed nothing hostile in the area. But I would bet there is something lurking on the other side of the planet. You're also going sans escorts. Vipers would let anything know that there's a battlestar lurking. Get in. Get your photos. Get home." He draws himself up into a salute and snaps it down quickly. "Good hunting, gentlemen. Get home safe or Quinn or the CAG - probably both - will have my ass in a grinder." He casts a fast smirk at them before turning off for the stairs.

Evandreus' attention stays on Boots for the duration of the question, then returns to Tillman for the answer. Going to Virgon. Lookin' for Cylons. Welcome to the other side of the looking glass, Evan. He returns the salute, a little less snappy, but correct, nonetheless. "Will do our best to save your ass from grindage, sir," he offers in return for the smirk. Another look to Boots, then he's climbing aboard and up into the cockpit.

"Lucky us. We getta play rock 'em sock 'em robots," is blithely quipped to Evandreus. To Tillman, Trask remarks, "I'm pretty sure the CAG is a vegetarian," he honestly doesn't know, "but I /know/ Quinn loves her some TACCO burgers made from fresh ass meat." The salute he gives in return is about as casual as a formal gesture can be. "Just keep in mind a nice letter for keepin' your buns outta a sesame bun." That would be the end of the butt burger jokes part of the program. Helmet on, he follows Evan down the Bunny trail.

Evandreus settles in, helmet on, checked, double-checked, self buckled in, straps settling kindly onto the last remnants of his restraint bruising from the big crash. systems already greened, he just waits for their passenger to get himself properly strapped in, and then they're off to the races. Err. Ungodsly nuked Virgon.

After the take-off and clearances, the flight out to Virgon begins its most dangerous stretch as they leave the debris field. Bodies of dead fleet members litter the vacuum, the remains of destroyed Vipers and Raptors float amongst the wreckage. It's a long way to the other side, though. Ship names pass in the light of the sun, their raised plating denoting the deaths of thousands with each passing ship. The medic, shaken by the sight, sits in the back and stares out the windscreen. "Eight-hundred thousand people," he breathes. But he then falls quiet as the rest of the men and women he speaks of. Virgon slides out from behind the wreckage of the Aegean. Its deathly atmosphere turns and swirls slowly in space, the violence of the 'weather' already apparent. Where once lush forests ran, black smoke churns into the sky across hundreds of mile stretches - the black masses turning and mixing with the brown and green nuclear dust that currently makes up the opaque mess.

To his credit, Trask does not make a sardonic 'only you can prevent forest fires' remark. He doesn't even say anything about all the roadkill. For 18 months, he attended flight school on Virgon, but the horrible sight of the planet gone up in smoke and flames and Gods know what else doesn't hit him nearly as hard as a drifting chunk of hull that he espies during the descent — the one where the name Aegean can still somewhat be read. Even so, he's true to the stoic Taurian stereotype, apart from glibly remarking to himself, "Good thing I opted for OCS." After all, if pain is gonna be an unwelcome guest, might as well mock the frak out of it. "Good thing that Oberlin never did buy that condo…"

This is decidedly closer than the Bunny ever got to Tauron, easing in among the dead life being pulled into cosmic order around the planet liks so much space rock, perhaps slated in another some billion years to become a misshapen graveyard of a moon. With DRADIS as crapped as it is in the muck, and the active DRADIS on quiet, not to call any attention to them, he navigates by sight, manipulating the keyboard controls and switches with both hands as he adjusts for each new obstacle coming up. Lurking toward the bottom of the ring, its aft side torn almost off and craned at a weird and twisted angle, a boat looks familiar, in a ghostly sort of way, its identity only confirmed by the first, then the second and third, fourth fifth sixth seventh ruined Raptor to drift in a band in the boat's wake, bearing the aulos-and-cross sigil of the Marsyas. With each new reminder, Evan edges their own boat surely south of carom, not making any swift course changes likely to catch the eye of anyone else who might be lurking, watching in the debris, but no less taking them down toward high-altitude atmosphere as he takes them around the horizon, over a broad sea and toward their first mark, Verona Bay. "H-heh," he has the decency to laugh at Bootsie's jokes, just a little.

The descent starts normal. But up ahead, the black smoke of fires reaches many thousands of feet into the atmosphere. It turns at high altitude, the upcoming turbulence evident easily. The oily mass turns and forms a vortex with a nearby jetstream that creates a disgusting swath of milky brown air. However, getting closer it becomes more apparent that something is amiss. That burning area? The smoke rising from an area nearly thirty miles wide? It's Venona Bay.

"How sweet. The Cylons left a light on for us," is drily smirked, but that's all Bootstrap permits himself. Focused on the task entrusted to him, he starts collecting data and snapping images.

"Looks like we're going to have to rely on thermals for the sweep, or… IR, maybe. Thermals might not get us much if the whole place is on fire," Evan notes from up front. "Anyhow, get as many clear lens shots as you can. And hold on," he grimaces a little at the first waves of turbulence, cutting an arc to starboard and then twisting the bird on its midline axis to dip the port side of the boat south of the carom line, slicing into the turbulence and managing to miss the brunt of the jetstream backlash, evening out to give Trask a clear shot of the ground even as it causes the bird to jackhammer wildly around the three crew members, the extra first aid kits and boxes of ground gear in the back cubbies jamming up and down in their spare inches of space and causing an enormous racket as the Bunny hop-hop-hops the Raptor along through the demented cloud of smoke.

"Sweet Gods," comes the whisper from the PO1 in back. He eyes the smoke out the window until Evan tells them to hang on. He frantically moves to strap himself in, the medic finishing just in time to be jarred awake. Hands grip the shoulder straps as he looks up to the ceiling overhead, muttering something to himself that sounds like a prayer.

Outside, the whole soup thickens up. The ground is totally obscured by the smoke and dust kicked up by the nukes and fires below. Heat from the fires kick even harder, shoving the Raptor around the sky.

Strapped in, Trask still hunkers down to better withstand the turbulence. "Thermal's working," he manages to get out, the words vibrating a bit from the momentary tremors. "Any way to level out some, Bunny? The stabilization systems can't keep up with the rodeo ride. Images are blurry. From what I can make-out, though…" There goes another bump and teeth are briefly gritted. "Whole frakkin' city is drownin' in a lake of fire."

"Hhummagods," Evan mutters, "It's like trying to come to low atmo in a '98 Fawnlin Cerry with a rubber band keeping the compensators bundled." Fortunately, this seems to have been something he's had some experience doing before his military career got him in shinier, newer boats, and, "Just a sec," he calls back to his backseat, fingers flying over the controls as he begins to evert the heating vents, spilling excess heat from the engines to buffer them against the hard buffeting of the hot air rising fast from below, exchanging the hard tooth-cracking rattling for a smoother wavering, a sort of slippery sensation that leaves stomachs flip-flopping in guts, but the ship less prone to falling to bits.

"Frak." Such a simple word yet so illustrative. "A bit better," Bootstrap relays, "but still blurry. Not gonna get any better than this, though." His mouth quirks into a frown, mirrored by his furrowed brow. "Yay for you an' your rubber bands." The tone is a bit more upbeat, indicating that the ECO is giving his pilot all due props. "Y'a'right back there, PO?"

Evandreus' Raptor slithers on out of the remnants of Verona Bay's pyre, and he reverts the venting back to its normal configuration for flight, the boat heaving one last big hiccup and sinking swiftly a meter or five before it evens out and shifts to a new heading. "Next stop, Phaeton City. We're only about five minutes out, we should be able to see it ahead pretty soon."

The smoke clears as they pass the edges of the city limits. Left behind and far below, the city burns on and passes no attention to the crew high above. Out ahead, the wind continues to buffet the ship as it rushes in the opposite direction. It flows down from all directions towards the inferno that is Venona Bay. However, that provides a reprieve for the view out front as the landscape becomes visible to them - bathed in yellow and brown tinges from the overhead, higher altitude nuclear dust and dirt. Stretched out for miles in all directions, the ashen remains of the Virgon forests pass by at several hundred miles per hour. Dark swaths denote some of the once pristine evergreen forests that blanketed this highland area. Off to the north is a nuclear crater, its location devoid of anything remarkable on the map but the immense size stands out against the grey and brown landscape. Straight ahead, the outer limits of Phaeton City can be seen. The destruction extending through its length.

"Yo, PO," the ECO calls out while still gathering data, "it wasn't a rhetorical question." Last thing that the Air Wingers need is some guy losing it. Well, that and Cylons… or the ship breaking down… or something else that would be colossally crappy. "Y'a'right back there?" This time, Trask's voice is more adamant.

"Everything alright back there, Bootstrap?" Bunny asks his backseater. "We're coming up on the city limits. Looks like we should be green for clear-lens imaging." He tends toward professionalism in the cockpit as much as he tends toward informality out of it— and especially now, with the devastation of Virgon spread out under them, unveiled by the smoke.

The PO1 has been staring out the windscreen, nearly in shock. Its one thing to hear about it. To read the reports. But it's entirely something else to see it in person. With the last call from Trask, his head snaps in his helmet to look back at the ECO. "Y'yessir. Just..a little overwhelmed." The man turns his head in his helmet again to look back out ahead of them as they begin crossing over the edge of city limits, miles above it. The air is mostly clear thanks to the winds driving across Phaeton City on their way to Venona. Beneath his flight gloves, the man's knuckles are white as he grips the shoulderstraps. Whatever he wasn't expecting, it wasn't this. "Just want to get home, sir. Back to the Cerb, I mean." His breathing is heavy. He isn't losing it but the man has probably seen enough. Combat dressings and guts are fine. Nuclear apocalypse up close is not.

Meanwhile the light casts eerie shadows across the landscape of the once bustling city. It's whole center looks completely devoid of buildings or debris. The once massive highway that ran through the town's center has been melted and Evan can probably see that its been fused and distorted in areas with the ground beneath it. They'll be over it all in only a minute.

"As alright as it's gonna be, Bunny boy," aforementioned backseater tells his pilot upon hearing from the poor medic. "I suggest averting your eyes, PO, unless, yanno, you /want/ to risk PTSD." As if the whole fleet isn't going to suffer from that but still. Trask is quite occupied with the recon work, which surely aids his ability to cope. Even so, he's not so great a jerk as he presents himself to be. "So… PO1, eh? What wooed you to join the military and what enticed you to remain so frakkin' long?" Might as well try to distract the medic from the monstrosity outside.

This next part should by all technicalities be the easiest. Coming in from the direction of the coast, going against the rotation of the planet, coming up on Skyler City, one of the big ICTC hubs on Virgon, Evandreus enters course correction almost as though by muscle memory, having set down in port here on the north side of downtown many a time. Straight into conventional airspace, even if there's no other air traffic to watch out for, at this point, he all but calls in his ETA to base as he descends into a low-altitude pass. "Coming up on Skyler City," he remembers to warn his ECO, staring out at the skyline… or… where the skyline used to be. With altogether fewer buildings to worry about hitting, he adjusts his course a little lower than normal to give Boots the best possible shots of the downtown area.

"Needed the money for college. Got my girlfriend pregnant. Decided I couldn't afford to get out with my car and house payments." As they dive down, the man really does close his eyes. This really isn't something he wants to see, obviously. "I can't believe I volunteered for this shit, sirs." He swallows and tilts his head back, voice shaking through the comms system.

As they approach the city, there's a slight ridge to pass over before dropping down into the once fertile valley around Skyler City. The who place like Phaeton, but the nuke appears to have hit off-center of the city and left an ugly black scorch mark across the face of Virgon. Where once the fifty-story Kyrdex Inter-Colonial Tylium corporate office stood in the center of the city, there is now nearly nothing. Only some of the stronger structures like a parking garage or two remain standing, and even then only parts of them. The whole city looks to have been just uprooted and thrown to the Gods.

Trask spends 1 luck points on Frakked if I know but it can't be good. heh.
<FS3> Evandreus rolls Alertness-15: Terrible Failure.
<FS3> Trask rolls Technical: Good Success.

"Definitely not postcard material snapshots," Kal quips about the razed landscape, never ceasing to document. "Well, /maybe/… if the caption reads 'So Glad You're Not Here'." Once again, he retreats into the safety of sardonicism. This lasts only as long as it takes before he notices something on the RWR. "Unknown signal at 12 o'clock. Unknown range. We're coming up on it fast. Try an' find a hidey hole, Bunny boy. I'm gonna see if I can snag it for analysis. Plus, our vacation book needs more photos. It'd be embarrassing to come back from our trip with so little." Unknown terror, Bootstrap mocks you. He also tells the medic, "Brace yourself." As an afterthought, "You're askin' that of a guy who's volunteered for this shit 3 times," is added.

"What? Where?" Bunny asks, despite the fact that boots just told him, veering off of straight-ahead and heading just a little further toward the ground to put some crumbly stack of once-an-eight-story-parking-lot between their Raptor and the indicated bearing. Yeek. Bunny hide.

It's then that suddenly Trask's helmet is filled with chirping. Half a dozen active DRADIS systems suddenly light off and they are only a few miles ahead. Not enough time to maneuver out of the way. Out front, what looked like just building wreckages turns out to be something much worse. The tops of the structures appear to swivel and the quad heavy barrels are visible in the low light as they turn to face the low Raptor. First one flashes. Then another. Then they are all winking in and out. Spotting them earlier may have helped but this might hurt. Tracers arc across the sky from six different sites, forming a lethal set of crosses out in front. As they dive lower, the bullets bounce and skip across the ground, deadly glowing red fingers reaching out for them with oh so little places to hide.

In the back, the PO1 stares out the windscreen. "HOLY FRAKKING SHIT! GET THE FRAK OUT OF HERE!" Yep, he's found his limit for today.

Evandreus spends 1 luck points on holycrapguns!
Trask spends 1 luck points on This is not the Raptor you're looking for.

<FS3> Evandreus rolls Raptors-5: Good Success.
<FS3> Evandreus rolls Alertness: Bad Failure.
<FS3> Tillman rolls 7: Good Success.
<FS3> Trask rolls Ecm+5: Success.

"Workin' on it," is Trask's reply to the medic, given through semi-gritted teeth. "Step one is jammin' those frakkin' guns." Which he surely attempts to do. "Step two is haulin' frakkin' ass." Unfortunately, even if Evan makes a bolt for it, 4 of the 6 guns will still be taking aim.

Evandreus is making a bolt for it. As low as possible behind the building, then a little further before he pivots the boat on all three axes at once and cheeses it straight upward, only deviating from the path in order to facilitate some evasive maneuvering. "Bootstrap, Bootstrap, spool us up, spool us up right quick," he begs of his backseater, trying his best not to sound freaked.

Evandreus spends 1 luck points on GTFO.
<FS3> Evandreus rolls Raptors+5: Good Success.
<FS3> Tillman rolls 7: Good Success.
Trask spends 1 luck points on GTFO NO SRSLY.
<FS3> Trask rolls Technical+5: Success.

The building just disintegrates in front of Evan, tracers poking through and eating the building's remains to pieces in under a few seconds. Large-bore automatic weapons fire eventually eats through it and the wreckage collapses into a heap just as Evan turns on a dime and points them vertical. However, the guns find their range this time. The tail end shakes as a few rounds hit home but the controls remain firm. What they don't see below are the guns lifting along two axis, their tracers rapidly closing the range while the single successful gun adjusts its aim slightly.

<FS3> Trask rolls Technical-15: Good Success.

Meanwhile, Trask is busy spooling. No more photos. Forget about capturing signals. Not even the swallows are going to sing. If the PO1 weren't around, he'd comment to Evan about how the TACCO is going to grind them into ass burgers. While on the subject of asses and bad things happening to said asses, the ECO notices 3 more blips. 3 mobile blips. 3 fast as frak mobile blips. "Frak. We have 3 Cylons hot on our tail and I'm certain they're not packin' lube."

"Smyrrha frak me," Evan very nearly whimpers up front, hands trembling as he works the keypads, "What's their bearing on us, Bootstrap?" he shouts back, trying to counter their bearings in his evasions without slowing their egress from atmo by too much.

Evandreus spends 1 luck points on run, run away.
<FS3> Evandreus rolls Raptors+5: Good Success.
<FS3> Trask rolls Technical-15: Good Success.
<FS3> Tillman rolls 7: Success.

As the altitude climbs rapidly, the crew members slammed against their seats through the climb. The PO1 has since just begun staring straight ahead in sheer terror as the tracers flash by. But they eventually fall away.. to be replaced by more rather suddenly. These are definitely coming from right behind them. And not moving nearly as slowly as those from the ground might after having to counter so much gravity. But they're missing. For this second.

<FS3> Trask rolls Technical-15: Success.
<FS3> Evandreus rolls Raptors-15: Success.

What's the bearing of the Cylons up their collective ass? "Which ones? The 3 aimin' to poke our puddin' or the friends they invited to the would-be gang rape?" Unhelpful ECO is unhelpful. "Bearin' 180 and closin' in fast, those skanky fraks." Okay, maybe not entirely unhelpful.

Evan can't see behind him. Doesn't -want- to see behind him. Can only listen to his backseater and let his mind bring up the visualization of space around them as if it were a giant DRADIS of its own, plotting the positions of the pursuers and doing his level best to keep the things off of the Raptor's hindquaters. Or. Any quarters. Until the FTL's spooled up. Eyes dead ahead, pleading for the dark, breath quickened as their boat's rattled with gunfire.

<FS3> Tillman rolls 7: Success.

The blips on the RWR in the back suddenly move from their position at the periphery of the tiny plot in the corner of the console and glow a bright green in the center. They have got missile locks on the Raptor. The warbling tone, warning them of the locks, kicks into high gear in their helmets as a few more rounds find home and smash through the skin of the wings, still mercifully leaving the controls intact. Then..

Wait for it. Wait for it. Wait for it. GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL! FTL is spooled. "Jump on mark your mark." Leave it to Bootstrap to be glib when announcing, "I suggest right the frak now 'cuz I don't wanna be bukkaked by 9 missiles."

"Mark mark mark go go go!" Bunny doesn't have to be coaxed into shouting, even as blue shifts to black shifts to a spark of brighter blue and then black again with that lurching sensation of FTL travel. A short hop, but it got the raiders off of their ass, for now. Comms: switched on. "Cerberus, this is Bunny, we're RTB, we had company coming up after us from atmo. Three raiders."

Tillman's voice answers the call after a moment. "I'm sorry, did you say three Raiders, Raptor Three-zero-five?" A pause. He doesn't sound happy, the question deadpanned. "Romeo Tango Bravo, Three-zero-five. Contact Cerberus Control one button eleven. Out." He hangs up the transmission.

No longer needing to worry about spooling, Trask starts to burn the data, just in case something starts to go to shit and corrupts all the recon foo. "I bet he's wondering if Quinn uses ketchup, mustard, or steak sauce on her butt burgers." As if that's the reason why the TACCO is displeased.

"Cerberus, Bunny. Three raiders. Confirmed. We're RTB." One deep breath, and he lets Trask joke at him a moment to calm him before he opens up a line to Cerberus Control on deck and arranges a landing.

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