BCH #001: EVENT - Who Hunts the Hunter - Air Wing
Who Hunts the Hunter - Air Wing
Summary: Multiple traps are sprung as Cerberus hunts her pesky frigate escorts. The view from space.
Date: 25 Feb 2041 AE
Related Logs: Think Tank, Phantom Swallows, Barring Some Manner of Epic Fail, and Who Hunts the Hunter - CIC
Cidra Alessandra Daphne Tisiphone Laskaris Sitka Quinn Evandreus Julie Marko Trask Oberlin Tillman NPC Polaris 

The Uram Sector — Space

[Polly's Hoopty: Polaris] On paper, it's really not a fair fight: one Mercury-class battlestar and an entire carrier fighter wing versus two puny frigates. One of them is so old she predates the Cylon War, and the other is so new that fully half her personnel are still in the process of learning how she runs. But as the crew of the Cerberus has so often observed over the past few weeks, desperation is sometimes a better force than inspiration — and it's a foregone conclusion that every man aboard both of those frigates is raring to be the first to take down the Fleet's pride and joy. And so, with just sixty seconds between them and this simulated engagement, the two smaller ships glide gracefully below their den mother's forward cannons, proceeding with stately grace to their designated start coordinates. Beyond them throbs the pulsing blue star whose blinding light is visible even from this far away, separated from the players by not one but three rings of slowly-spinning rock. Discarded missile casings twirl like demented tops in the starfield beyond.

[TAC3] Polaris says, "Cerberus, this is Praetorian Actual, clock at T-60. Ready for a little hide-and-go-seek?"

[TAC3] (from Oberlin) And with the stomach-churning action that always accompanies FTL travel, space /bends/ and there is a flash as here becomes elsewhere, as the Cerberus' FTL drives spool up and start their reaction. /Here/ becomes /there/ as the Battlestar elsewhere around the messy corner of space known as the Uram sector. The place is a veritable light show. The view outside is spectacular - a blue supergiant star, the eponymous Uram, blinks like a great cloudy azure colossus out in the starry void of space. A short distance away are oceans of asteroid debris and various undefined junk.

[TAC3] (from Polaris) And just like that, an instant later, the two frigates too are gone, space warping about them before they vanish into the haze.

Let the games begin.

[TAC3] "CerbTac" Tillman says, "All Raptors, Cerberus. Once out, activate your swallows and begin scouting operations. All Vipers, stand by your positions."

[TAC3] "CerbTac" Tillman says, "Raptors, you are cleared to launch when ready."

[TAC3] "Toast" Cidra says, "Cerberus, Toast. Copy. Launch commencing. Raptors, once out bring Swallows into active mode."

[TAC3] "Bunny" Evandreus says, "Cerberus, Bunny, acknowledged. Harrier-305 commencing launch. Toast, Bunny, I hear you. Coming up in your wake."

[Harrier-303: Cidra] Cidra's Raptor lifts the bounds of Cerberus and touches the face of space. She's got an Ensign in her backseat going the ECO work, who manages not to look too harried at having to flag with the CAG for this adventure.

[TAC3] "Easy" Julie says, "Easy copies, launching and swallows active."

[Harrier-305: Evandreus] 305 passes the threshold of the hull a few moments after Cidra, heading slow toward the proximity perimeter while Bunny's getting the swallows online and getting the first set of short-jump coordinates queued up to send back to Bootsie.

[Harrier-307: Julie] Since Julie had long since finished her preflight routines, there was nothing left to do except to pull up off the deck and launch out into space. Taking a moment to glance back at her ECO, she asks, "Hey, what's your callsign?"

[Harrier-307: Marko] "Flasher." Marko replies, nodding to his pilot. "You're 'Easy', I take it?" he asks. As soon as Harrier-307 is clear of the ship, he does the regulation DRADIS sweep of nearby space and makes a few fine corrections to the system's settings. "Okay Easy, Swallow's coming hot." he reports, flipping the appropriate switches with one hand while the other wedges a small scrap of paper into the corner of the station, just out of view but easy enough to see if needed.

[TAC3] "Toast" Cidra says, "Cerberus, Toast. Raptors are out and ready to begin scouting maneuvers. Vipers are ready to launch on your mark to take up defensive positions."

[TAC3] "CerbTac" Tillman says, "Copy your last, Toast. Raptors are cleared-out. Have two Vipers take up a close-in CAP and be prepared for combat landings in prep for jump. We're standing by awaiting coordinates. Good Hunting, Major."

[TAC3] "Toast" Cidra says, "Cerberus, Toast. Copy. Raptors, we are a-go for jump to the designated coordinates. Once there, we shall launch Swallow Decoy and see if they come hunting. Lieutenant Laskaris, launch with a wing to take up a close-in CAP and listen sharp to CIC for order for combat landings in prep for the jump. Sharp eyes, steady hands. Let us go."

[TAC3] "Lasher" Laskaris says, "Copy that, Toast. Kolettis, launch as you recieve clearance and form on my wing."

[TAC3] "Bunny" Evandreus says, "Toast, Bunny, acknowledged. Plotting jump here, and spooling up."

[Harrier-305: Evandreus] "Just lemme know when we're good to go, Bootstrap," Bunny goes on, off the comms. "Think we'll catch anything with this bit of bait, first time out?"

[BlackKnight-312: Laskaris] Lasher's been getting a little restless sitting in the tubes, so it's no surprise that when the launch order comes in, he watches the fellow on the other side of the tube like a hawk until he finally gets the thumbs up. The catapult hurls the tiny Viper into space, and Laskaris immediately heels his ship over to starboard as he takes up a pattern around the ship.

[Harrier-305: Trask] "Queued up an' ready to go on all cylinders, Bunny boy. Should all pan out, unless someone forgets to flip the switch," Bootstrap replies, maintaining focus among all the adrenaline. Prepare for jump in 3… 2… 1…"

[TAC3] "Toast" Cidra says, "Bunny, Easy, Toast. Ready to jump. Mark. We go. Cerberus. Raptors jumping."

[TAC3] "Bootstrap" Trask says, "Just a reminder to my fellow backseaters: Don't forget to flip the switch."

[TAC3] "Lasher" Laskaris says, "Planning t' join me today, Kolettis?"

[Harrier-307: Julie] Julie double checks her flight controls, "Yep, that would be me. Pleased to fly with you Flasher." Waiting for the inevitable jump, she watches for the all green, "Ready whenever you are."

[Harrier-307: Marko] "Nice flying with you, too, Easy." Marko replies, inputting their assigned co-ordinates into the FTL drive. "Okay, board is green, co-ordinates set. Jumping in five…four…three…two…one…Jump." and with that the go-fast switch is flipped and the bird jumps away.

[BlackKnight-309: Daphne] Chewing gum, while obviously not regulation, is turning out to be a good thing for Daphne. She can shew on this and not, for instance, her lower lip. The only problem is potential to swallow, which is why the ensign simply closes her mouth prior to getting forced out of the launch tubes at serious velocity. As she's done every time, she applies the breaks while she turns, venting thrust out the fore of her viper while turning extra sharp. She rolls around to starboard side and falls in line with Lasher, arranging herself on the other pilot's five oclock position.

<FS3> Cidra rolls Raptors-5: Success.
<FS3> Evandreus rolls Raptors-5: Good Success.
<FS3> Julie rolls Raptors-5: Good Success.

[TAC3] "Lasher" Laskaris says, "Glad you could make it, Kolettis. Alright, let's settle in. Don't stray too far from the hangar pods, though."

[SnowPetrel-101: Sitka] The last viper to launch on patrol duty is Shiv's smaller, and considerably less sleek Mark II fighter. All three engines light up as he clears the tubes, and the red and white antique performs a smooth roll to bring it into neat formation on Laskaris' seven o'clock.

[TAC3] (from Daphne) There's a light smacking sound over the comm. What ever could that be? Daphne's voice comes out a second later, "Yes, sir. Will keep it tight for the cameras."

[BlackKnight-310: Tisiphone] Tick, tock. Tick, tock. Tisiphone waits, like so many other Viper pilots, cocooned in a launch tube, awaiting the thumbs-up. "There's really two hundred of us launching at once?" she asks over the comms in a moment of silence. She's trying to keep it light and curious, but ends up sounding nervous. At least she doesn't have to worry about her voice cracking.

[TAC3] (from Polaris) In Ye Olden Days when ships still sailed the oceans blue, sailors in large enclosed metal tubes could tell rather easily when they'd been found just judging from the thrum of active sonar through their ship. Today, though, the miracles of modern technology have made it nearly impossible to determine when you're a star on Candid Camera — or, more precisely, on the passive DRADIS system aboard the frigate Corsair, which by now is probably humming along just waiting for the scent of something that's Not An Asteroid to cross its sensitive nose. Not, of course, that the interference from the sector's star is helping all that much. But if Cerberus' Raptors were detected when they jumped, neither pilots nor ECOs can tell — at least not yet. Static fills their ears from the interference in the system, crackling like burning wood, though the lack of flying missiles seems to suggest that Deck and Engineering have done their jobs well.

[Harrier-303: Cidra] Harrier 303 executes its microjump with generally professional precision. Cidra offers an approving nod at her ECO's work, though her eyes do not stray from the field in front of her, hands careful on the controls. For navigating Uram, she's keeping her hands firmly at 10-and-2. Or the Raptor equivalent thereof.

[BlackKnight-312: Laskaris] The trio of Vipers skims over the Cerberus' hull, the new-ship shine still very much in attendance. Arcing sharply in a patrol pattern around the ship, they remain in close formation, running their patrol while the Raptors search out their 'enemies'. There's a certain tension in the cockpit of the lead Viper, though, despite the quiet; Lasher's never been fond of combat landings, which they'll have to do in order to avoid delaying Cerberus' jump.

[Polly's Hoopty: Polaris] "Something like a hundred and eighty, Money Shot." A melodious tenor comes over the coms, soft and soothing: a voice that could only belong to one Lieutenant "Salt" Shaker, cocooned like his brethren inside one of Cerberus' tubes. "Maybe even fewer, depending on however many Chief has pulled while his crew updates their navigation programs. Or something like that."

[TAC3] "Toast" Cidra says, "Bunny, Easy, Toast. I've got you on my board. Nicely done. Now, let us see if we can get their attention. ECOs, get the decoy ready via those Swallows. Bootstrap, this is your puppet show. Any additional instructions you have for your ECO counterparts?"

[Harrier-307: Julie] Julie isn't taking any chances with her life during these wargames and with Uram's reputation for hazards she has all of her attention focussed on piloting. Her tone remarkably cheerful, she teases, "Don't worry Flasher, I promise we won't crash… much."

[TAC3] "Bootstrap" Trask does, it would seem. "Yeah. Snag those coordinates for the sweet spot. On my mark, we'll trigger the phantom bitch an' her equally phantom pups."

[TAC3] (from "Shiv" Sitka) There's a low whistle heard over the comms from Shiv, before his voice crackles over the radio, "Sure is fancy, isn't she, Lasher?"

<FS3> Trask rolls Gunnery: Success.
<FS3> Cidra rolls 4: Success.
<FS3> Marko rolls Gunnery: Success.

[TAC3] "Lasher" Laskaris says, "You got that right, Shiv. Spent the last 10 months on an old rustbucket, almost forgot what a new battlestar looked like."

[Harrier-307: Marko] "No worries, Easy. I promise not to frak up my end too horribly." Marko replies with a chuckle, eyes rooted to the DRADIS console, now a bit staticky and generally wonky thanks to the interference.

[TAC3] "Flasher" Marko says, " Bootstrap, Flasher, ready when you are."

[SnowPetrel-101: Sitka] Sitka's viper maintains a perfect 'V' formation with his lead and wing, mirroring their flight path with the precision of someone who.. well, does a lot of this. All style, no substance as some say.

[BlackKnight-309: Daphne] Daphne moves along with her wing, skindancing across the unblemished hull of the Cerberus. She maintains formation as tightly as she can, making good on her promise to keep it tight for the cameras.

[TAC3] (from "Bootstrap" Trask) "Got 'em!" Trask exclaims, finding the coordinates of aforementioned sweet spot. "Commence launch in 5… 4… 3… 2… 1… Launch."

[Harrier-303: Cidra] Cidra does throw a little look toward her backseat when Trask gives that order, but her ECO seems to know her business well enough. Everything goes generally according to plan with the launch from Harrier 303.

[TAC3] "Toast" Cidra says, "Bootstrap, Toast." There is a note of cool satisfaction in her tone. "Launched."

[TAC3] "Flasher" Marko says, " Alright, here we go. Launching in 5…4…3…2…1…Bird's away…."

[Harrier-307: Julie] Julie just does her part in keeping her Raptor from crashing into any debris and follows the lead of Cidra's bird. Laughing softly, she replies to Marko, "You're just radiating confidence Flasher."

[TAC3] (from Polaris) A flight of swallows slashes forward out from the three Raptors' hardpoints, carving their pre-programmed course through swathes of not-quite-open space. Those pilots whose eyeballs are particularly sharp might catch sight of a slight mishap — a single drone nearly collides with a bit of stray debris, turning to port just in time to avoid breaking to bits against an engine cowling that must be a century old. And soon enough, those beauties are chirping as only swallows can chirp, until at last the Raptors, CIC, and even the Vipers in the tubes will be able to see the blood-red outline of a battlestar icon on the DRADIS screens above.

[Harrier-307: Marko] "Heh, Took me a minute to find the damn things." Marko confesses with a chuckle. "Was about to query Bootstrap about it." he adds, then grins hugely when the DRADIS screen starts going red. "Wow! That did it!" he calls.

[Polly's Hoopty: Polaris] "Ah," Salt murmurs, his eyes lighting up. "Fancy trick. Reminds me of a few of the townie girls I met at the Academy. Midhounds, we used to call them, just sniffing out a fine Fleet man to marry, strutting about on Saturdays in those beautiful summer dresses — " The man chuckles lowly. "And one by one, they reeled us in."

[Harrier-305: Evandreus] Evan keeps his eyes on the secondary DRADIS up front, grinning when thay ghost ship comes up strong on sensors. "Awesome. Let's start spooling up again back there and get our asses out of the way of any missiles they might toss out at ghostie over there."

[BlackKnight-312: Laskaris] Laskaris continues to lead his flight in a circular pattern around the battlestar. A part of his mind wanders, though, as he braces himself for the inevitable command to hit the deck.

[TAC3] "Toast" Cidra says, "That is a lovely ghost…Toast to Raptor Flight. Excellent. Fair work, Bootstrap. We have built us a battlestar."

[TAC3] "Money Shot" Tisiphone says, "Hot damn. It worked," with equal parts surprise and relief. Salt's story coaxes a tense chuckle out of her. "It's what summer dresses are designed for, Sir."

[TAC3] (from Polaris) Either the vaunted EXLORAD isn't as fancy as Lieutenant Oberlin back in Tactical had made it out to be or the sensor noise in the sector is too much for even the trained techs aboard the Corsair to cut through at once. Raptors, Vipers, Tactical — all of them wait as the minutes tick by, watching the ghost ship flicker in and out of their DRADIS. One minute, two; three minutes, four — and even Salt, usually the talkative one, has nothing more to say, instead choosing to relax against his harness while he waits for the order to go. And then, finally, something tickles the Raptors' systems — just a brush, lingering for but a moment before vanishing —

To be replaced by sixty-four somethings, as the Praetorian's missiles find their home at last.

[TAC3] "Shiv" Sitka says, "Looking good from here, Toast."

[TAC3] (from Polaris) "Cerberus, Praetorian Actual! Hope you got that flak ring ready!"

[TAC3] "CerbTac" Tillman says, "Praetorian, Cerberus. Ah, yeah. We're ready. Hope you are! Out."

[Harrier-305: Trask] Oh how Trask grins when the doppelganger Cerberus pops up on the DRADIS. When the opposition takes the bait, he is as giddy as a little boy who just used his trusty slingshot to squarely pelt his shrew of a teacher in the back of her head, not only to get away with it, but have some kid he can't stand end-up getting blamed.

[TAC3] Polaris says, "Cerberus, Praetorian Actual, what's that? I couldn't hear you over the sounds of my beautiful missiles going boomboomboom on your precious hull."

[TAC3] "CerbTac" Tillman says, "Keep talking, Actual. We're getting a beautiful firing solution off that signal."

[TAC3] "Toast" Cidra says, "Raptor Flight, Toast. Grab coordinates and transmit them home to Cerberus so they can join the fray. Keep sharp, watch your backsides while those missiles are in the air. Once Cerberus is in position, we shall commence jamming of the Praetorian."

[Harrier-305: Trask] Speaking of which, Bootstrap and his fellow ECOs get choice pinpoints. Whistling a jaunty tune, he starts to transmit where the frigates are.

[TAC3] "Flasher" Marko says, "DRADIS contact, bearing 221 carom 185! Looks like we just found the Corsair."

[TAC3] (from Polaris) Salt allows himself a far deeper chuckle at the premature gloating, toggling his intercom to make sure the 'enemy' frigates are cut out of the transmission. "Point, Money Shot, about the dresses." His smile evident even though his face can't be seen. "Amelia sent me an picture of herself in hers the other day. Five years later and I still wonder how I was the first fish to take that bait."

[Harrier-307: Marko] :wastes no time beaming his little tidbit of data back to the Cerberus. "Bootstrap…you da man…" he grins, then turns to Easy. "Just, for the Gods sake, don't tell him I said that."

[TAC3] "Bunny" Evandreus says, "Toast, Bunny. Uploading data onto the longcomms."

[Harrier-307: Julie] Julie frowns just a little bit at the fact that her ECO almost didn't know what to do. Getting ready for the jump, she lets loose a sigh of relief, "Thank the gods, you won't have to query Bootstrap on where the FTL switch is."

[TAC3] "Shiv" Sitka says, "Lasher, Shiv. We ready to head back to the barn yet?"

[TAC3] "CerbTac" Tillman says, "CAP, Cerberus. Perform combat landings and prepare for immediate relaunch from the flight deck! All Vipers, stand by for Condition One launch following the jump."

[TAC3] "Jugs" Quinn says, "Hell yes… Finally, bird is ready to go. Jugs is on her way, boys and girls! Permission to launch?"

[TAC3] "Lasher" Laskaris says, "There's your answer, Shiv. Alright, let's haul some arse."

<FS3> Daphne rolls Vipers: Good Success.
<FS3> Sitka rolls Vipers: Great Success.
<FS3> Laskaris rolls Vipers: Success.

[BlackKnight-308: Alessandra] Hearing the TACCO announce for the Vipers to be launched has Alessandra sighing, relieved. She makes sure everything is green, that being the tenth time she has done so while waiting, her Viper running ready across the board.

[BlackKnight-312: Laskaris] As the order to RTB sounds over the com, Lasher yanks his Viper over in a violent turn and trips his afterburners as he makes a beeline for the nearest flight pod. Lowering his landing gear, he doesn't put on the brakes until he gets into his terminal run; his Viper bounces slightly on the surface of the deck, setting into a skid as it touches down a second time. After a moment, though, his ship slides to a stop, neither the Viper nor the deck much worse for the wear… thankfully.

[Harrier-303: Cidra] Cidra's competent backseater gets her transmitting done with a minimal amount of fuss. Maybe the pressure is good for the faceless Ensign.

[SnowPetrel-101: Sitka] Sitka's viper does not stray from formation until he's given the word from his lead. Then, with a little wing dip and waggle, he pinwheels away, engines throttling back and skids popping out to introduce drag for his combat landing. And, since they're out here to give the QUODEL a little show— he does a little barrel roll as he comes in. Nothing too tricky, but it sure looks pretty. And he doesn't crash, either. Always a bonus.

[Harrier-304: Quinn] Restlessly waiting on deck, Captain Quinn tries not to go half mad as she awaits permission to launch. She breathes through her nose, staring back a moment at the unfamiliar ECO at her back. "Don't even try to be a smartass, alright? It won't be the same." She orders the young Ensign, who probably doesn't even get it, and then goes back to waiting to launch.

[BlackKnight-309: Daphne] Daphne's turn is violent, but only because Lasher's is. She follows along with her lead, rapidly chewing on her gum in spite of the fact that this is probably the worst time to do so. She hits the deck flawlessly. It's level and perfect. Textbook, even, and it's in perfect lockstep with Lasher. Once she lands, Daphne starts to taxi her way towards the hangar for an emergency refueling/topping off.

[TAC3] (from "Bootstrap" Trask) Bootstrap comes over the comm, "That, right there, is what Epic Win looks like. Gear up, kiddies. Round two gets launched as soon as our back-up arrives."

[TAC3] "Jugs" Quinn says, "On my way… on my way… I swear I'm on my way…"

[TAC3] (from Oberlin) As the birds make it back to the barn and are aboard, space /folds/ again and there is a flash as the Cerberus makes a precision FTL jump and comes out just neatly removed from the flak ring being emitted by the Corsair, in what looks to be a potentially advantageous position, just below the other ships and closing in. Good hunting, children.

[TAC3] "CerbTac" Tillman says, "All Vipers, Scramble Scramble Scramble! Cleared to launch!"

[TAC3] (from Polaris) Cerberus lurches once more unto the void, following Flasher's coordinates like the hellhound for which she was named, and suddenly the twin frigates come into view some twenty klicks away. Praetorian, as expected, is the lead ship in the formation, her missile racks gleaming blue in the light of Uram's star as they emerge once more from the blast doors hiding them from view. Corsair has taken up position slightly below and behind, inverted so she can cover as much of her vulnerable sister's ventral area as possible. Almost instantly, blazing crimson lasers arc out from her five hundred point defense cannons, setting up a beautiful mock flak ring some ten klicks out. But as Viper after Viper are slung out from the tubes, they and the incoming Raptors fresh from their minor victory soon discover just why it took a full two hundred and forty seconds for the decoy to be 'found' —

For all around Praetorian are a full hundred and twenty-eight long-range missile drones orbiting around her like the asteroids in the distance, none of them even three-quarters through their stores of fuel. It's almost as if time has slowed, so languidly do they turn their nose cones to the battlestar flashing in nearby — and then, as one, they vector towards the nearby battlestar, cutting through space like a massive horde from the steppes now coming to exact its vengeance upon the poor plainsfolk below.

[TAC3] Polaris says, ""Cerberus, Praetorian Actual. Looks like the mouse has caught the trap.""

[Harrier-307: Marko] "Oh now that's just annoying." Marko grumbles as his DRADIS board begins to register the small storm of missile drones. "Guess we can't have all the luck today." he says, automatically warming up the Raptor's ECM gear. "Or can we?"

[BlackKnight-308: Alessandra] Lucky's Viper's loaded into the launch tube and is immediately shot forward, the fighter and its pilot finally allowed to go unfettered much to Alessandra's relief. "Actual, Lucky. Have cleared Cerberus," she lets CIC know once she is within the proper distance from the Battlestar. Now it's just a matter of getting to where she needs to go while holding herself back -just- enough so that her wingman can get into position on her six.

[Harrier-304: Quinn] A shout of cheering comes from Maggie, half echoing over the comms, as she flies out into the mass of… Chaos that is the semi-organized fight beyond them. She's not nearly so smooth as the Vipers just able to dart into combat on a moment's notice, but she's keeping up fairly well, the bulky raptor moving in to join her squadron…

[TAC3] "Shiv" Sitka says, "Copy that. Launching. Orders once we're airborne, Lasher?"

[TAC3] "Jugs" Quinn says, "Hells yes. Launched. Finally."

[BlackKnight-312: Laskaris] Lasher, for his part, doesn't bother with the refueling. As soon as Cerberus completes the jump, he guns the throttle once more, throwing his Viper back off the deck and out through the end of the pod opposite of the one he landed through. The picture on his cockpit's DRADIS display is enough to draw a low whistle out of the normally reserved Viper pilot. He angles towards the oncoming storm of missles with as much speed as his Viper can muster.

[TAC3] "Toast" Cidra says, "Raptor Flight, Toast. Bootstrap, we still have decoys up our sleeves, yes? ECOs, get those launched first, then commence jamming."

[TAC3] "Lasher" Laskaris says, "Shiv, Lasher. Orders are: find a missle. Shoot it. Rinse and repeat."

[TAC3] "Lucky" Alessandra says, "This is Lucky. I've launched and am getting into position."

[Polly's Hoopty: Polaris] "Go, go, go." Even that exclamation doesn't cause Salt to raise his voice, though he does allow himself a low whistle as he sees the missiles arrayed before him. The man's Viper forms up by Alessandra and Tisiphone as he angles towards the incoming drones.

[TAC3] (from Polaris) "Just remember, ladies," calls Salt, his tone quietly warm. "It's like dancing at the Mid Ball, as I always say. Weapons free."

[TAC3] "Bootstrap" Trask says, "Indeed we do, an' Jugs has a full supply. Let's get in position an' give our den of serpents some added cover."

[BlackKnight-310: Tisiphone] Tisiphone shifts restlessly in her flight harness, touching fingers to switches and dials as if running through her pre-launch checklist for the umpteenth time will calm her. Lips move behind the helmet visor, but no words are heard. When the TACCO's voice crackles over the comm, she takes a deep breath, looks to the deck crew watching her, and gives her thumbs-up. Her Viper curves up and away as soon as she's launched, picture-perfect, moving to fall in behind Lucky.

[SnowPetrel-101: Sitka] It's like doing the switcheroo behind the scenes of a catwalk. No sooner is Shiv's viper down, than it's hauled back up to the launch tubes again, strapped into place, and jettisoned back out once Cerberus has completed her jump. A brief check of his fuel gauge shows he's got plenty, and the Petrels' Captain banks once more as they make egress from the battlestar.

[BlackKnight-309: Daphne] Daphne's barely towed into the launch tubes before she's getting shot back out again. For a change, the rookie pilot doesn't attempt to slow herself down. There's no time for that. Instead, she peels off and rolls towards the closest wearhead she can find. She gives the afterburners a liberal push, in fact, spending fuel she'll probably wish she had a little later, and attempts to get herself into a good firing angle for when the missiles come into range.

[TAC3] "Jugs" Quinn says, "My boy Chopsticks is ready to launch the decoys as soon as I get into position… Will be there in three… two… One."

[TAC3] "Shiv" Sitka says, "You got it, Lasher."

[TAC3] "Money Shot" Tisiphone says, "Lucky, this is Money Shot. Forming up on your six. Orders, Sir?"

[Harrier-304: Quinn] And, sure enough, Margaret times her entrance to the Raptor's side of things just perfectly that her countdown finishes and Chopsticks flying ECO for her launches the decoys out their back, tossing them into the fight smoothly…

[TAC3] (from Daphne) There's that snapping sound again. "Copy Lash-urgh." There's a sudden gagging sound, a momentary pause, and then the recovery, "Copy Lasher. On it." No. She didn't swallow her gum. Why would she even have any?

[TAC3] "Lucky" Alessandra says, "Money Shot, this is Lucky. Let's do it like before. Stay on my six unless ordered otherwise. Safety in numbers."

[Harrier-303: Cidra] Cidra keeps tight, steady control of her Raptor, all business now that things are getting hotter in this little game. That barest hint of a smile she often indulges in comes to her face as the Cerberus jumps in to join them, and the Vipers take flight. Daunting as it is, she's enjoying herself. "Blessed Athena, I love a good trick. Be ready." The last directed in a louder tone to her ECO as she comes about to get in position to launch more decoys.

[TAC3] (from "CerbTac" Tillman) The guns on the Cerberus are lifting just as it comes out of the jump. The dual turrets all aim towards the Corsair as the massive battlestar rolls to port, providing nearly every gun on the ship a clean shot at the ships. The engines on the rear of the Cerb light and its suddenly making headway to close the distance and cut towards the undersides of both enemy ships. Cannons charge and almost in the same instant each one opens up into barrage fire.

[Harrier-307: Marko] Marko waits until Easy has the Raptor lined up in a position to make the decoys look like they're coming from the real Cerberus and then fires the remainder. "Decoys away…Commencing ECM jamming."

[TAC3] "Bunny" Evandreus says, "Toast, Bunny, aye, sir. On our way, eight twenty carom sixer. Readying decoys."

[Harrier-305: Trask] As soon as they come to their mark, Trask sets free the rest of his swallows and, without missing a beat, gets to the ECM foo. "Jammin'. I wanna jamma up you. Jammin'. I hope you hate my jammin', too," he starts to 'sing'.

[Harrier-303: Cidra] Ensign Faceless in Raptor 303's backseat gets her next round of decoys off from Cidra's Raptor. Away they go.

[TAC3] "Jugs" Quinn says, "Bunny… Bootstrap over there makin' your ears bleed yet?"

[TAC3] (from Polaris) If Cerberus were firing her main cannons in earnest, the battle would look substantially more interesting than it does now, what with the battlestar's thin lasers cutting through space as they whiz past the Corsair's hulking frame. Well, some past, some under, and some into. Fortunately for the frigates, the old girl is tougher than she looks, designed as she was to absorb similar pounding from a basestar's heavy ordnance. And now all ships in the area must face the fury of EXLORAD on full active mode, pounding away as its techs try to filter out what's real from what's not. Frakkin' Raptors.

The Vipers, for their part, are engaged in a dogfight like none other. So crowded is the sector space with the missiles being launched that they'll have precious little room to maneuver, though the missile frigate has suddenly stopped firing …

[TAC3] "Bunny" Evandreus says, "Jugs, Bunny: au contraire, I thought we'd been boarded by the Muses themselves."

[BlackKnight-312: Laskaris] As Lasher's fighter closes on the incoming missle storm, he opens up with his KEWs set, once again, to training mode. Lasers slash into the cloud; several missles are struck on his first pass, coming to a dead stop. He flips his Viper onto its side, his RCS thrusters jerking his bird into an unnaturally tight turn as he positions himself for another attack run.

[BlackKnight-308: Alessandra] With the 'missiles' hot and on target, Lucky guides her wingman into the fray. "Try to hit the same target I've got painted if you can, Money Shot," she instructs lightly. And with that she targets one of the incomings, this one fired at quickly as she doesn't have time to wait for Money Shot to catch up this time.

[TAC3] "Lasher" Laskaris says, "Shiv, Kolettis, Lasher. Let's hack these mothers out of the sky, shall we?"

[BlackKnight-309: Daphne] Gumless but not lipless, Daphne chews on her lower lip as she brings her craft within range of the incoming warheads, and then some. She shoots out one missile after another and rotates her viper while keeping trajectory. Her lasers shut down several more as they whip past her cockpit, and then she zips forward, meaning to chase down some of the ones that shot right past her.

[TAC3] (from Oberlin) Those training lasers keep scoring hit after hit on the Corsair, as the Cerberus attempts to virtually pound the Flak Frigate into virtual dust via death of a thousand virtual cuts. It's not like those simulated ordinance volleys are weak, either. Corsair's skin is /thick/. The boom boom is adding up, but it's definitely gradual.

[SnowPetrel-101: Sitka] With the order given for weapons free, Shiv splits off from his wingmen and establishes a somewhat loose formation for the purposes of point defense. He's just a speck of red and white in a field of nearly one hundred eighty vipers, cannons lighting up immediately as he sights a missile, and then another. No stranger to maneuvering in close quarters, it's his shooting that suffers the occasional lapse; with his viper strafing sideways like a mobile turret, he doesn't manage to splash all his targets in the initial run.

[TAC3] "Money Shot" Tisiphone says, "Lucky, this is Money Shot. Copy that. Moving to your portside wing, staying on your target."

[TAC3] "Shiv" Sitka says, "Hack and slash, Lasher. You got it. Kolettis, watch your three o'clock."

[TAC3] "Lucky" Alessandra says, "Actually, Money Shot, belay that. Pick off what you can. These frakking things move too fast. We'll save the team tactics for other ships."

[Harrier-303: Cidra] "Get on the ECM, Ensign," Cidra reminds her ECO once the last of those decoy swallows are off from her Raptor. The ECO barely wastes time with a quick "Yes, sir" before commencing jamming, jamming, jamming as fast her her fingers can. Ensign Faceless doesn't say much.

[Polly's Hoopty: Polaris] And behind the two ladies comes Salt, his lasers oddly silent. Instead, his Viper weaves through the horde of missiles like a ballerina, darting dangerously close to the missiles arcing towards the Cerberus as he tries to draw them away from the battlestar. No go — not even with ECM help.

[BlackKnight-310: Tisiphone] Tisiphone's Viper swings out wide from behind Lucky's, starts to tuck back in toward its left wing, then wobbles, as if uncertain. A moment later the engines flare to life, nimbly twisting the vessel off on some other tangent, into the misslestorm.

[BlackKnight-312: Laskaris] His steel-gray Mark VII twisting and turning hectically, Lasher comes around for another pass. Instead of another slashing attack run, however, he maneuvers his craft parallel to the missle storm, then cuts his forward thrust as he turns his ship to face the missles. His lasers being flashing again, 'destroying' one missle after another.

[Harrier-304: Quinn] Quinn stays the course. As much as she'd love to fly flashy and crazy like some Viper jocks out there, she knows her place. Keep her bird positioned well so Chopsticks behind her can do his fast fingers jamming. She doesn't waver once, keeping formation well, adjusting for any other interference… a good steady rock of a pilot.

[TAC3] "Money Shot" Tisiphone says, "Belaying that order, Lucky. Good hunting, Sir."

[Harrier-307: Marko] The routine's just like Marko was taught in ECO school, so many seconds on this frequency, switch to the next one up, so many seconds on that frequency, then two down…Don't stay on one freq too long, don't fall into a pattern and try to let the systems do as much of the heavy lifting for you as you can. It's actually a lot more fun than it sounds.

[TAC3] Polaris says, "All Raptors, this is Salt. Thought you should know: looks like the frigates are being smart. They've slaved the targeting on these nasty things to EXLORAD. Jamming the missiles is going to be about as effective as, well, I don't know. Insert analogy here, I suppose."

[TAC3] Daphne says, "I see it. I see it. Thank you. Three coming your way, Lasher. Heading zero two four carom one eight nine."

[BlackKnight-308: Alessandra] "What the frak!" Seeing that on her DRADIS first and then out of her cockpit's canopy, the sight of that missile coming from the angle it does startling. Not having time to call it out, Lucky flies after the enemy weapon, trying to shoot the missle into 'non-existence'. It -almost- gets the better of her as her surprise makes her fly sloppy a bit but it's finally hit, getting it to stop in its tracks.

[TAC3] (from "Lasher" Laskaris) Lasher's voice is terse, but relatively calm. "Copy, Kolettis. Good eye. On it."

[TAC3] "Lucky" Alessandra says, "Frakkers. Seems like these guys are going to try to catch us with our panties down around our knees."

[Harrier-305: Evandreus] Bunny roves into an easy configuration with Jugs almost as if by force of habit, letting Bootstrap in his backseat take on the targets in the field via electronic warfare.

[SnowPetrel-101: Sitka] Sitka handles his machine like there's no gravity to drag him down. Which, of course, there isn't. His Mark II rolls, twists and fires like it's turning on a dime. And if anything slips past Lasher, he rolls in for the cleanup.

[TAC3] "Jugs" Quinn says, "Well, hey there, handsome… Come to this quadrant of space often?"

[Harrier-304: Quinn] Maggie gives the tiniest little wing wiggle as she sees Bunny on her six..

[TAC3] "CerbTac" Tillman says, "Toast, Cerberus. We show the Praetorian has ceased fire. Confirm."

[TAC3] "Toast" Cidra says, "Copy, Salt. Raptor Flight, Toast. They are being tricksome with us as well. Jamming those missiles shall not be too effective with the targeting slaved. Concentrate jamming efforts *directly* on the Corsair."

[TAC3] "Flasher" Marko says, "tac3 Toast, Flasher, Copy that."

[TAC3] "Bunny" Evandreus says, "Toast, Bunny: we hear you."

[BlackKnight-309: Daphne] Daphne doesn't move nearly as well as Sitka or Laskaris, but she moves well enough to do her job, swooping from missile to missile, occasionally 'fishtailing' in the cold vacuum of space. She is, for all intents and purposes, a sheepdog, and she means to protect her one and only charge.

[TAC3] "Toast" Cidra says, "Cerberus, Toast. Confirmed. Showing the same on my end."

[BlackKnight-312: Laskaris] One could almost imagine a car skidding in mid turn across a wet surface from watching Laskaris' Viper; his ship is going in one direction, but his nose is pointed in another. Newtonian physics at work. He continues to hang just off the edge of the missle storm, picking off the slender drones one by one as they bear in on the Cerberus. Finally, though, the missles pull out of his range, and he turns his craft and reengages forward thrust, blasting off in pursuit as he continues to fire.

[Harrier-307: Marko] "Okay, you bastards, let's see what your fancy schmancy EXLORAD makes of this." Marko grins, shifting his jammers over to the almost impossible to miss Corsair and cranking the ECM gear as high as it can go.

[Harrier-307: Julie] Julie keeps her Raptor in formation with the others, keeping away from the main battle as much as she would love to take part in it. She keeps an eye on the battle, keeping quiet for the time being, her silence not normal for her.

[TAC3] (from Polaris) Despite the Vipers' best efforts, Praetorian's missile storm is not for naught, as first one, two, and then ten break through the Viper screen Toast's pilots have set up. Plink-plink-plink they go against the battlestar's massive hull, their engines burning out as they draw themselves to a halt. If this were real, Cerberus would likely be bearing a few pretty burn scars where the Colonial seal has been traced on her dorsal ridge, and as for the folks inside? Suffice it to say that the ground should be rocking from the force of the explosion.

Corsair, for her part, is pinging away still, though her techs can't quite work quickly enough to get around the swallows deployed by Flasher, Bootstrap, and what faceless ensigns have shown. Several missiles do turn away to expend themselves in a blaze of futile glory — such fickle things missiles are, attracted by the nearest Shiny Thing they see. The sound of a hyperpowered DRADIS system on max tears through the pilots' ears like the tolling of a bell, cutting through their intercoms while the comm officers aboard Cerberus try to adjust.

And Praetorian? One moment she's covered by Corsair, the next moment she's exploding in a flash of light, jumping — to the battlestar's six, away from the flood of missiles and Vipers and Raptors and drones. She's at point-blank range, bow pointed directly at Cerberus' tail to minimize the amount of her hull she exposes to the battlestar's guns, and ever so slowly her missile racks slide back out from their shields.

[TAC3] "Shiv" Sitka says, "Lasher, suggest we open fire on Praetorian's missile mounts pronto."

[BlackKnight-310: Tisiphone] The Gods' own fireworks display is going on right now, flares and lasers and missiles, oh my, and Tisiphone's flying her Viper like…well, a bit like a shell-shocked tourist. Good reflexes and hard-drilled training keeps her from anything utterly disastrous like a collision, but she's all over the place, double-guessing her pursuit tactics and managing only a very few missile-kills. As the last of the missiles are destroyed or strike home, her vessel slows, coasting listlessly as if catching its breath.

[TAC3] "Lasher" Laskaris says, "Viper Flight, Lasher. Praetorian has jumped to a position off the stern. Break off and move to reengage."

[Harrier-303: Cidra] Cidra is not precisely silent, but she is very focused as she adjusts the positioning of her bird, staying in formation with the other Harriers in space nearby. Ensign Faceless gets her jamming efforts concentrated on the Corsair proper. All seems to be going according to plan. Until. That. Cidra has a decent view from her Raptor cockpit and sight meets with a sharp "Phah!" hissed from her lips as the Praetorian flashes into its new position.

[SnowPetrel-101: Sitka] Shiv begins to roll to starboard after a missile that's skidded too close, but breaks off when the order's given to engage the Praetorian. RCS thrusters fire in tandem, and his afterburners light up as he streaks away to close in on the gunship arming for a rear attack on Cerberus.

[TAC3] Polaris says, "Money Shot, Salt. You all right there?"

[BlackKnight-308: Alessandra] "Crap," Lucky growls out while hearing Lasher, her eyes squinted almost shut while she bristles. "Mother frakking, ball-sucking…" she begins to go on a rant and a half before remembering herself and, more importantly, that she has a wingman to instruct on what to do. "Money Shot, Lucky. Looks like we're going to be needing to regroup." Her voice is tight and she sounds fairly tired as well, the stressors of the exercise getting the better of her. Turning at a steep banking turn to port, she goes to do whatever good she can do during the cluster frakk.

[TAC3] "CerbTac" Tillman says, "Praetorian Actual, Cerberus. Suggest you divert course to avoid collision. Danger close. Out."

[TAC3] Polaris says, "Cerberus, Praetorian Actual. Suggest you run up the white flag and buy me a thirty-year-old bottle of whiskey. Out."

[TAC3] "Lasher" Laskaris says, "Shiv, Lasher. Negative, their missle racks are far too heavily shielded. You want to do some damage? Break low, come in from below and hit their engines."

[TAC3] (from "CerbTac" Tillman) The Praetorian appears behind the Cerberus and its only moments before the Cerb reacts. The massive beast begins a pitch up over a steep angle and begins rolling onto its back. The blue-white of the engines chop out and the velocity stops climbing.

[TAC3] "Shiv" Sitka says, "Copy, Lasher. Kolettis, you with me?"

[TAC3] "Lasher" Laskaris says, "Form on me, you two. I intend t' do just that."

[TAC3] "CerbTac" Tillman says, "All aircraft, all aircraft, Cerberus. We are opening up with flak batteries in fifteen seconds. Check your positioning."

[TAC3] "Money Shot" Tisiphone says, "Uh-h-h." Not the most regulation reply. "Salt, this is- Money Shot. I'm fine, Sir. Never seen my DRADIS look like a Yule tree before, is all." A few moments later, she adds: "Copy that, Lucky. Forming up on your six again.""

[TAC3] Daphne says, "Yessir. Will strike from two seven zero carom across Praetorian's hull. Shiv, Kolettis. I'm here. Copy, Lasher. Forming up."

[TAC3] "Lucky" Alessandra says, "Lasher, Lucky. We'll be joining up with you as soon as we can. What are your orders?"

[TAC3] "Bootstrap" Trask says, "Flight, Bootstrap. I think we need to start makin' some raspberry jam, if y'know what I mean. Pick-up positions from then other night."

[TAC3] "Jugs" Quinn says, "Sounds good to me, Bootstrap. Let's do it!"

[BlackKnight-309: Daphne] Daphne burns an awful lot of fuel to hustle into position along Lasher's flank. She takes up the five o'clock of a victor formation, pushing her engines awfully hard to make sure she's not late for this particular party.

[TAC3] (from Polaris) As Cerberus turns, Praetorian turns with her, keeping her unprotected belly as close as she can to the battlestar herself. And around the rest of her she sprays a mess of flak of her own — not powerful enough to do a damn thing to the battlestar, but certainly powerful enough to tear apart any Viper that's not careful. And what with Cerberus' own guns about to open up in fifteen, suffice it to say that any fighter daring or stupid enough to approach the looming frigate will be in for a rough, rough ride.

[SnowPetrel-101: Sitka] Sitka's Mark II tumbles to port as the trio of vipers strafe in on their attack run. His eyes dart from the bulk of the ship looming in his viewscreen, to one of his displays, then back again. He rolls his helmeted head left then right, hand closing over the stick.

[BlackKnight-310: Tisiphone] Tisiphone's Viper flares back to life, swinging sharply around and arcing across missle-strewn space to take up position behind Lucky's ship.

[TAC3] "Bootstrap" Trask says, "On mark, we'll initiate the field."

[TAC3] "Toast" Cidra says, "Bootstrap, Toast. Well put. Forming up and ready on you mark."

[TAC3] "Flasher" Marko says, " Bootstrap, Flasher, ready when you are."

[BlackKnight-312: Laskaris] With that last transmission, Lasher's shiny new Viper immediately plunges 'downwards', as he zooms towards a position below the missle frigate. He mutters something under his breath as he angles back up towards the belly of the Praetorian — and its accompanying flak ring. He's got eyes only for the frigate's vulnerable engines, and his ship screams forward, hoping speed will be an adequate defense against those lasers as he executes his run.

[Harrier-305: Evandreus] Evan looks up from his oh-so-hectic watching of the front DRADIS like it was showing him some daytime soap. "Eh? do you think we can get a triangulation field around a ship that big? I guess we've got a few more than three Raptors, but still…"

<FS3> Alessandra rolls Vipers-20: Good Success.
<FS3> Tisiphone rolls Vipers-20: Success.
<FS3> Sitka rolls Vipers-20: Success.
<FS3> Daphne rolls Vipers-20: Success.
<FS3> Polaris rolls 7-20: Failure.
<FS3> Laskaris rolls Vipers-20: Success.

[TAC3] Polaris says, "Money Shot, Salt. Deep breaths. Just like on Leonis, remember? Just like on Leonis."

[TAC3] "Lasher" Laskaris says, "Lucky, Lasher. Get your section and follow me in. We're aiming for the engines; I want t' give Cerb some room to maneuver."

[TAC3] "Lucky" Alessandra says, "Roger, Lasher. Money Shot, Lucky. Did you hear that? Looks like we get to shoot at the big dog for a while."

[TAC3] "Easy" Julie says, "Let's get the party started."

[Harrier-305: Trask] Keeping tabs on who is where on the DRADIS, once the Raptors take their positions around the Corsair, Trask jumps back on-chan.

[TAC3] (from "CerbTac" Tillman) The Cerberus finishes its faux-capship-dogfight maneuver and begins to level out across the plane. Then, every single thruster on the bow of the ship fires at max output and the engines flicker once more. The whole ship begins a slow crawl towards All Stop..and then reverse.

[TAC3] "Bootstrap" Trask says, "Berries, key-up field and engage in 5… 4… 3… 2… 1… Jam!"

<FS3> Marko rolls ECM-20: Failure.
<FS3> Cidra rolls 4-20: Bad Failure.
<FS3> Trask rolls Ecm-20: Success.
<FS3> Quinn rolls ECM-20: Terrible Failure.

[TAC3] "Money Shot" Tisiphone says, "Lucky, this is Money Shot. Copy that. I've got the rolled-up newspaper." A weak chuckle. "Staying on your portside wing for focus-fire."

[Harrier-303: Cidra] Ensign Faceless isn't so quick as her more experienced counterparts on her jammers. Or the pressure is getting to her. Or the Uram Sector is, in general, just a cruel bitch to pony a Raptor in. Either way, the jamming efforts from Harrier 303 are for naught.

[Polly's Hoopty: Polaris] Salt's Viper follows the parade of others, slotting in behind Tisiphone and Alessandra — but the TACCO's sudden maneuver catches him by surprise. As the ship zooms backwards, his starboard wing dips into the web of red coming from Cerberus' rapid-fire cannons. That'll be it for him.

Praetorian, for her part, is nimble enough to meet the TACCO's gambit straight up. Even as Tillman initiates Operation Move Bitch, Get Out the Way, she slips backwards, heeding not in the least the Vipers still angling for her engines. And those missile racks are about ready to go…

Corsair doesn't quite anticipate the Raptors' moves — but not to worry, for the damnable interference is messing as much with them as it is with her. As the Raptors draw closer, though, that flak ring expands, her expert gunners doing their best to find the range of Raspberry Flight while EXLORAD sings and sings and sings.

[Harrier-305: Trask] This brilliant plan of Bootstrap's? It would've been brilliant if he wasn't the only one who managed to do what needed to be done. "Frak," he exhales with a mild rolling of his eyes.

[Harrier-307: Marko] "Dammit…You gotta be kidding me. Easy, I've got nothing here…." Marko grumbles, biting down on an urge to punch the console. "Lemme try to reset."

[Harrier-304: Quinn] Poor Chopsticks is doing no better, trying to jam through various conditions, but he's just not really able to keep it on par. The board practically fizzels, not a single frequency successfully cut off from Quinn's craft. Maggie gives a little groan…"Oh, come on, Chopsticks… are you REALLY going to let Bootstrap show you up?! He's… he's… Bootstrap!" Dammit. The best ECO she's ever had. She wants him behind her again! Not that she'd admit it.

[TAC3] "Bootstrap" Trask says, "Okay, fruitcup. Let's try this, again, this time, y'know, doin' it RIGHT."

[BlackKnight-308: Alessandra] It takes a few minutes longer than Allie likes for her to get to where they're joined up with Lasher and his wingmen, something that gets her to snarl once they're within range. "Lasher, Lucky. We're here, now. Going to be following your lead, Boss." She eyes her DRADIS, making sure that her own wing's alright before pressing on any further.

[TAC3] "Jugs" Quinn says, "I… hate to say this… but I might never let you leave my back seat again, Bootstrap."

[Harrier-307: Julie] Julie grins as he ECOs seem to have little luck, "I guess all the money the fleet spent on the Praetorian is paying off at least, she's stood up to the Ceberus for this long." Turning back to give Marko some encouragement, she urges him on, "Come on Flasher, I know you got this. You can jam them, just try a bit harder."

[TAC3] (from Polaris) "All Vipers, this is Salt." The man's voice sounds resigned as he slips out of formation. "Looks like that's she wrote for me. Commend me to dear Amelia, and to all a good night."

[Harrier-303: Cidra] Cidra lets Trask fill the comm channel with cheek without even threatening to have him keel-hauled. "Again, Ensign," she orders her back-seat firmly. Ensign Faceless gets to jamming as if her life depended on it.

[Harrier-305: Evandreus] "It's alright, dude," Bunny points out to his backseat. "There's a lot of chaffy out there, not to mention the interference. Just keep it up, we'll get it there," he goes on. "And remember, in the end, it's just a game," he points out, even as he adjusts position a little bit to try to get a better triangulation with the others.

[TAC3] Oberlin's voice rings out over the tactical channel, a new arrival. "All ships, Cerberus-CIC. Attempting to disrupt drone fire control."

[BlackKnight-312: Laskaris] Somehow — and Lasher's not exactly sure how — nearly all of the Vipers on his wing make it through the combined flak salvos of both the battlestar and the missle frigate. The latter's engines loom before him, and his lips spread in a vulpine grin. His targeting sensors blink to indicate he's now in firing range… and he doesn't belabor the issue, as he immediately squeezes off salvo after salvo of simulated fire into the frigate's weakly armored engines.

[SnowPetrel-101: Sitka] The Praetorian's flak storm is navigated through like a minefield— which, in effect, it is. Risk is taken in the interests of precious seconds ticking away, and more than a few grazing shots register on Shiv's onboard systems. And are summarily ignored. He punches through, and jerks his head between the windscreen and his readouts, trying to line up a shot on those elusive engines while tumbling through flak.

[Harrier-307: Marko] "The Corsair's a tough old bird, no doubt." Marko replies, turning back to face the console with a determined set to his jaw. "And no worries, this time, I own it's ass." he growls, glaring at the console while he carefully reattunes his ECM jammers to triangulate with the other two Raptors. "Okay..okay…almost there…almost there….got it!" he barks.

[TAC3] "Bootstrap" Trask says, "Like I told the CAG, Jugs: I'm more than just delicious eye candy."

[BlackKnight-309: Daphne] Daphne only diverts from formation where the laws of self preservation make it necessity. The very real explosions landing about her craft force the rookie pilot to drift from side to side, but she always returns to her formation. There are CAMERAS out there, you know. Cameras that cannot see the unnerved ensign chewing on her lower lip like it's saltwater taffy. As the target comes into range, she squeezes her trigger, sending her lasers into the underbelly of the frigate.

[TAC3] "Easy" Julie says, "Easy here, looks like Flasher hit the jackpot."

[TAC3] "Jugs" Quinn says, "Barely, Boots… barely. But I'll give you -this- one."

<FS3> Cidra rolls 4-20: Failure. LUCK POINT SPENT.
<FS3> Marko rolls ECM-20: Good Success.
<FS3> Trask rolls 4-20: Terrible Failure.

[BlackKnight-308: Alessandra] "Walk in the park," Lucky whispers into the comms while sliding up not too far from the group of three Vipers, Tisiphone checked on one more time before her finger depresses the trigger. Firing upon the larger vessel is surreal, especially considering they're all on the same side when it's all said and done, and for a second she feels a pang of guilt, one that eventually ebbs, allowing training and instict to kick in.

[BlackKnight-310: Tisiphone] Tisiphone performs better when facing down flak than she did in a storm of missiles, somehow; twisting wingtip over wingtip like a giant steel licorice whip, she makes it through the flashbangs to reposition herself just off Lucky's left wing. When her wingleader fires, so does she, targeting the same location to help punch the imaginary damage home.

[TAC3] (from Polaris) Irony of ironies: right as a few Raptor ECOs manage to coerce their consoles into cooperation, the gunners aboard Corsair find their range at last. Though she still looks pristine — or as pristine as she can get, really, given her age — only a few of her cannons are going, so extensive a pounding has she absorbed from the battlestar she's hunting. Down goes EXLORAD as the ship redirects all available power to her guns, flailing about in her simulated death throes as minutes of sustained fire from the battlestar finally takes its toll. If she goes down, she'll take as many Raptors with her as she can.

Praetorian is reeling as well, her engines flaring as her onboard training system registers several direct hits from the doughty — nay, suicidal — Vipers. Inertia is what carries her forward now, just half a klick away from the battlestar, as sixty-four missiles emerge from their holding bays, advancing forward in a line to punch through the Cerberus' defenses. Ten fall away, then ten more; the others, however, do not, charging forward with their deadly payload intact. And at this range, they really don't have far to go, crashing into the battlestar's exposed engines two by two. Then, at last, she slows to a stop, her engines powering down at last.

<FS3> Quinn rolls Raptors-20: Success.
<FS3> Cidra rolls Raptors: Good Success.
<FS3> Evandreus rolls Raptors: Success.
<FS3> Julie rolls Raptors: Success.

[TAC3] Polaris says, "Fleet, this is Corsair Actual. We are down for the count, say again, we are down for the count."

[SnowPetrel-101: Sitka] Shiv simply keeps firing, guns rotating on all virtual cylinders as he peppers Praetorian's engines with his training lasers. Forced to pull out as he reaches the end of his strafing run, the Captain banks his viper sharply, executes a lateral roll, and takes a snapshot or two on one of the missiles loosed from the smaller ship as he comes about.

[Harrier-307: Julie] Julie watches the back and forth between the warships with interest until the simulated flak hits, "Frak." Still, despite her close call she manages to avoid taking any hits, even having time to offer a thumbs up to Marko, "Great work Flasher!"

[TAC3] "Easy" Julie says, "Wooohooo! One down, one to go!"

[Harrier-304: Quinn] Despite her ECO's lacking ability to jam tonight, Maggie is more than able to pick up the slack. It's part of being a senior pilot. She negotiates the Raptor around the flak shield, just barely, but manages to push her way through without actually taking any damage. Any smart ass remarks she's left off of the comm now, too focused on flying…

[TAC3] "Bootstrap" Trask says, "So, like, as victors, we get to plunder, right? I call dibs on the EXLORAD."

[Harrier-307: Marko] "Wow..nice moves, Easy." Marko calls, returning her thumbs up with one of his own. "And thanks." he adds, bowing a little in his seat. "Just doin' my job."

[BlackKnight-312: Laskaris] Lasher continues firing as long as he can before he has to break away. His efforts and those of the other attacking Vipers don't go unrewarded, though; Praetorian's engines go dark under the weight of the Vipers' 'fire', and Lasher growls in exultation as he flips his fighter end over end and zooms back towards the Cerberus, this time taking care to avoid Praetorian's flak ring.

[Harrier-305: Trask] "Good job avoiding the steel trap, Bunny boy," Trask tells his pilot.

[Harrier-303: Cidra] As throws of flak lasers from the last of this fray pound around the Raptors, Cidra gets more assertive, and more agile, with the controls of her bird. She pulls it hard starboard and then into a slick, almost simultaneous reverse, then up, smoothly avoiding getting any fire near her bird.

[BlackKnight-309: Daphne] Daphne is 'still here'. That her controls aren't flashing red almost comes as a surprise to her. Travelling at simply idiotic speeds, she sends imaginary shot after imaginary shot into the engines, and then comes around hard, struggling to keep pace with Lasher, following the other pilot out of relative virtualized danger.

[TAC3] "Flasher" Marko says, " Bootstrap, Flasher. Heh, why not? You sure earned it far as I'm concerned."

[Harrier-305: Evandreus] Bunny jerks his boat roughly through the collections of red lines floating around the battle zone, tipping now on this axis, now that, trying to stay as close as possible to in one spot, making the aft of the bird occasionally buck upward like an angry bull. Fortunately, bullfighting's a popular sport on Leonis. "Heh," he calls back to his backseat, concentration, however, on the controls.

[TAC3] "Toast" Cidra says, "Vipers, Toast. The Praetorian is down. Let us finish her off. Vipers, have some fun putting her away."

[TAC3] "Shiv" Sitka says, "Roger that, Toast."

[TAC3] "Lasher" Laskaris says, "Vipers, Lasher. You heard the lady. Mind the flak."

[TAC3] (from "CerbTac" Tillman) The Engines on the Cerberus flicker off as the missile hits register. Meanwhile, as the Corsair goes off the air, the few guns that can find enfilade turn their turrets onto the Praetorian. Then slowly, with every maneuvering thruster on the ship firing, the battlestar begins to rotate its nose and massive bow-mounted assault cannons towards the Praetorian. But its taking time..

[TAC3] "Money Shot" Tisiphone says, "Copy that, Lasher. Next best target after the engines, Sir?"

[TAC3] "Lasher" Laskaris says, "The hangar deck on the ventral side, Money Shot."

[TAC3] Daphne says, "Lasher, Kolettis. Yessir. Cleanup duty it is. I'm on your seven."

[TAC3] "Lucky" Alessandra says, "Lead on, Lasher. Will be on your six with Money Shot."

[TAC3] "Lasher" Laskaris says, "Hit it right, and we might be able t' hit their refueling lines and start a chain reaction, send that frakker to simulated Elysium."

[SnowPetrel-101: Sitka] With the Praetorian's engines finally out of commission, Shiv turns his guns on the ship's ventral hangar bay, and pretty much goes fullauto on it. His laserfire paints broad swaths across the its flank, registering hit after hit on the immobile frigate.

[BlackKnight-312: Laskaris] Lasher angles his craft towards the ship's small hangar pod, once again braving Praetorian's faltering flak ring as he too starts pouring fire into the stricken vessel. The agile little craft weaves and spins as his lasers tear across the frigate's hull.

[BlackKnight-309: Daphne] 309's pilot pulls back on the flight stick, keeping formation as closely as she can, given the circumstances. As the ventral hangar bay comes into view, she squeezes the trigger and tries to pretend the liquid she can feel trickling down her chin isn't from a self inflicted bloody lip.

[BlackKnight-308: Alessandra] Lucky pulls away as the lead Viper does, sticking as close to the others as is safe. Shiv's show of aerobatics while he strafes the hangar gets a snort from Allie and a sudden call of 'show off!' from the younger pilot. When she can get a shot in she does so straight-forwardly, there being no stunts to go along with her attack, just a lot of pewpew.

[BlackKnight-310: Tisiphone] With the flak petering off to nothing, Tisiphone follows smoothly and untwistingly after Lucky, sticking just off her portside wing in picture-perfect formation. Her bursts of laser fire keep to a syncopated rhythm with her wingleader's, inflicting an unceasing barrage of imaginary fire on the frigate.

[TAC3] (from Polaris) They say that 'close' only counts with respect to horseshoes and hand grenades, but the wits need to add a third category to that list: war games in the Uram Sector, where the final computer console in the new frigate's CIC shuts off a mere two point seven seconds before she can volley off another sixty-four missiles against Cerberus' unprotected rear.

That, as they say in the business, is a good frakkin' kill.

With that, this simulated fleet action is finally over. Red training lasers wink off while dormant engines flare back to life; then, Praetorian and Corsair are forming up in perfect parade formation beside and slightly behind the battlestar they've just spent the better part of an hour trying to kill. Drones, swallows, debris, and the usual deep space dust slough off their sleekly beautiful hulls, the first and second of which a bevy of Logistics Raptors are already moving to collect.

Black silhouettes flare a gentle midnight blue in the light of that brilliant bright star — and at last, simulated war gives way to a tranquil, quiet peace.

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