PHD #540: EVENT - Wild Blue Yonder
Wild Blue Yonder
Summary: Strange things are afoot in the orbit of Gemenon.
Date: 20 Aug 2042 AE
Related Logs: Bunch o' Gemenon logs
Burke Kar Khloe Malone Trask Two NPC Hydra 
CAP Circuit Around Lampridis Falls, Gemenon
Oh, give me a home where the Viper jocks roam, and the Raptors and ECOs play…
Condition Level: 2 - Danger Close
Post-Holocaust Day: #540

The skies of Gemenon are clear and blue, the air dry and still over the canyon lands. While it's not quite operating in the vacuum of space, this is about as ideal as atmospheric flight gets. Though the pull of gravity still might be an adjustment for those who've flown most of their professional lives in the blackness. Latest wireless report from Cerberus shows nothing on DRADIS. Quiet as any other day they've spent on Gemenon so far. Like so many other extended stays over a planet - and this one occupied by Cylons besides - the quiet might be getting as unnerving as waterfalls of Raiders.

[BlackKnight-854: Khloe] Khloe "Poppy" Vakos' Viper speeds along through the clear blue, following exact atmospheric CAP procedures: velocity, altitude, formation. It's been a while since she's done atmo CAP, preferring the agility that vacuum provides, but she's no worse a pilot here than there.

[TAC3] "Poppy" Khloe says, "Flight, this is Poppy. Report contacts, over."

[Harrier-670: Trask] Oh, the tedium. It seems inevitable that those Threes and their cronies will eventually crash the lala happyfuntimes lovey-dovey picnic that is the Fleet's mission to Gemenon. That they've yet to do so is starting to grate on the Harriers' SL. Calling out a lack of contacts over the comms does little to assuage Trask's annoyance about the entire situation.

[TAC3] "Bootstrap" Trask says, "Poppy, Bootstrap. Bingo bandits and bogeys. Over."

[BlackKnight-1118: Burke] Burke hums to himself as his Viper cuts through the atmosphere, reaching out to adjust the photograph that is sitting pride-of-place tucked partially behind the instrument panel. That done, he sets about the less important task of making sure he doesn't go hurtling into the ground at terminal velocity. A few adjustments made, the craft settles into place and he flicks on the transmitter in his helmet.

[TAC3] "Breakout" Burke says, "Ah spy with mah little eye …"

[BlackKnight-312: Kar] Mantis is up here, having been assigned as Poppy's wingman for the CAP. He flies in good formation, not as perfect as his lead, but he's keeping good pace with her. He doesn't like atmo, neither do most viper pilots, but they're trained for it. As he speeds along he checks his DRADIS on his console. Nothing but them so far. He looks out at the others as he answers his Captain's call.

[TAC3] "Mantis" Kar says, "Poppy, Mantis. I've got nothing but us, Sir."

[BlackKnight-1117: Malone] Atmospheric CAP. That's something Malone is used to from when he was serving on Aquaria, what seems like a few lifetimes ago now. Keeping his Viper where it's supposed to be, he looks around, both at the instruments and outside the Viper, before answering the comms.

[TAC3] "Splash" Malone says, "Poppy, Splash. Looks as empty as that old bottle of wine I had once upon a time."

[TAC3] "Poppy" Khloe says, "Breakout, Poppy. Something that starts with the letter, 'shut the hell up with the chatter'. Do I win?"

[TAC3] "Breakout" Burke says, "Yip."

<FS3> Trask rolls Ecm: Good Success.
<FS3> Khloe rolls Alertness: Good Success.
<FS3> Burke rolls Alertness: Great Success.
<FS3> Malone rolls Alertness: Success.
<FS3> Kar rolls Alertness: Success.

The pilots of the Fighting Fourteenth are not the only things in the skies of Gemenon. The supposedly 'tame' Raiders also fly patrols, though they have grown leery of flying too close to the Lampridis temple air space of late. There are four in the air now, and they alter their course, from the parallel patrol they were on before to fly as if coming into formation with the Colonial pilots. An unnerving thing, even after it's become somewhat common place during the time they've been on Gemenon. The Raiders sense something.

[TAC3] "Poppy" Khloe says, "Boots, Poppy. What are they doing? It's like they're… protecting us?"

[BlackKnight-1118: Burke] Burke glances out the side of the cockpit at one of the raiders falling into formation, a very rare frown crossing his features for a moment. He glances around at the other pilots he can see from this vantage point, tipping his wings slightly in a wordless acknowledgement that he sees the new wingmen.

[TAC3] "Breakout" Burke says, "Nobody tol' 'em 'bout my gi-tar, right? 'Cuz thems jus' words."

[BlackKnight-312: Kar] Kar looks out his cockpit as he too sees the Raiders seemingly folding themselves into /their/ formation. He instinctively glances to his console for a moment, as if expecting to see something come up, the Raider-dots clearly in formation with them. A frown forms on his brow.

[TAC3] "Mantis" Kar says, "Something's not right…"

[Harrier-670: Trask] Blip. Blip. Blip. PING. Ladies and gentlemen, a Heavy Raider has entered the building jumped just outside of Gemenon's orbit. Even though one was expected, it's not as though Trask feels all warm and fuzzy inside at the sight of the new contact on his DRADIS console.

[TAC3] (from "Bootstrap" Trask) Digitally confirming what Khloe is seeing, Trask smirks, "Dunno 'bout that, Pops, but they're definitely falling into formation. I can tell you that a Heavy is now loitering just outside of the planet's orbit. Workin' on nabbin' the IFF sig."

[BlackKnight-1117: Malone] Studying the Raiders outside the cockpit for a few moments, Malone blinks a few times, before he looks back to his instruments for a few seconds. "Interesting…" he mutters to himself.

[TAC3] "Poppy" Khloe says, "Copy, Boots. Flight, adjust trajectory when Bootstrap gets us a confirmation, over."

[TAC3] "Mantis" Kar says, "Poppy, Mantis. Wilco."

The Heavy Raider Trask's DRADIS spotted flies into atmosphere, so it's soon visible in the clear, clear blue sky above. Not, again, unexpected, as the skinjobs at Lampridis said it would be coming. Though it does not make its way straight to Lampridis. It slows as it's coming into atmosphere, its flight pattern becoming somewhat… jerky. It makes no immediate attempt to communicate.

The Raiders flying with the Fighting Fourteenth do indeed seem protective, and on alert as the Heavy Raider appears. Though they do not charge their weapons yet. They watch, and watch.

[TAC3] "Bootstrap" Trask says, "Flight, this is Bootstrap." Beat. "Again." As if it were not evident. "Stating the obvious here, but these Raiders aren't powerin' up their weaps, nor are they breaking formation. And that Heavy's lookin' as steady as a drunk sorority girl wearing six-inch heels. I can see about openin' a hailing frequency, if you want, Pops. Over."

[Harrier-670: Trask] Really, though, Trask doesn't wait for the green light before he starts his attempt.

[TAC3] "Poppy" Khloe says, "Do it, Bootstrap. Flight, this is Poppy. Adjust heading to two four karom six. Let's meet our drunk guest. Stay frosty, folks, I don't like this one bit."

<FS3> Trask rolls Ecm: Good Success.

[BlackKnight-1117: Malone] Shaking his head as he sees the pattern of the Heavy Raider, Malone adjusts the course as instructed. Looking around outside again now, then back to the instruments.

[BlackKnight-312: Kar] As the Heavy Raider comes into view, what Kar sees is a confirmation of Boots' information. He adjusts his heading as Poppy gives the order, giving a glance to a nearby Raider and his DRADIS to see if their new 'wingmen' were going to follow suit.

[TAC3] (from "Mantis" Kar) "Poppy, Mantis. Heading Two-Four karom Six," comes the confirmation from Kar."

[BlackKnight-1118: Burke] Burke adjusts his heading as asked, although he's looking more at his Raider neighbour outside than at where he is going. He stays in formation, keeping pace with the others, "Why do Ah always end up bein' smack dab in the middle a' the weird stuff?"

[BlackKnight-854: Khloe] Poppy's Viper, taking the point, naturally, speeds off in the direction she indicated to her flight. However, her hand remains on her weapon system, ready to flick it alive should it become necessary to shoot this strangely-behaving bird down.

[TAC3] (from "Bootstrap" Trask) No sooner than Khloe finishes saying 'one bit' does Trask chime, "Done." Because, really, he already was working on it before he bothered floating the offer. Also? He's just that damn good at what he does. "Heads-up, peeps. Those 'human friendly'," audible air quotes, "channels we've been using these past few weeks to chit-chat with the local Heavies? If this guy has one, it's kinda frakked. Like it's half-jammed, or half-assed broken. No guarantee it won't cut out or that your words won't be slaughtered by static, but flip on the mic, Vakos. You're good to go."

[TAC3] "Poppy" Khloe says, "Heavy Raider, this is Captain Khloe Vakos of Cerberus. Your flight pattern is erratic. Do you require assistance, over."

The voice that answers Poppy over the wireless line is strained and punctuated by static, though it has the general sound of the voice of the 'friendly' skinjob known as Model Two. A voice many knew better for the last year as LT Trevor Cairn McQueen, before he was unmasked as a Cylon agent. Though this can't possibly be McQueen, there are many copies.

"Krpter…somet…wrong…engines…when we jumped…hav…taining control…"

And then the Heavy Raider abruptly stops wobbling and starts speeding, full-tilt, albeit on a now entirely zig-zagging course. It isn't headed toward the patrol of humans and Raiders. It's flying, recklessly, down into the canyon lands, toward the peaks and small mountains and many jagged rocks that one really shouldn't be flying recklessly close to.

[TAC3] "Poppy" Khloe says, "Boots, Poppy. What're the odds you can hook that thing and slow it down?"

[BlackKnight-1118: Burke] Burke squints slightly, peering off at the Heavy Raider, "Ah'm gonna git kidnapped 'gain, Ah know it." He doesn't share his out-loud musings with the rest of the flight, however. Instead, he silently follows along as he's been ordered to do.

[TAC3] "Poppy" Khloe says, "Cerberus, this is Poppy. Inbound Heavy Raider is out of control and will likely impact on the planet's surface." She flips a few switches. "Lampridis encampment, this is Captain Khloe Vakos. We have an inbound Heavy Raider that is out of control. Please execute evacuation procedures and call in any outlying patrols. I repeat. We have an inbound Heavy Raider…"

[BlackKnight-312: Kar] As Mantis hears the Krypter from the Heavy Raider, his hands re-grip his controls, tightening ever so slightly. That Heavy isn't looking too hot, and where it's headed is looking even worse. He's ready to push it, which seems like they might have to. The way that thing is /falling/.

[TAC3] "Mantis" Kar says, "This isn't looking good."

[BlackKnight-1117: Malone] Frowning a bit as he watches the Heavy for the moment, Malone mutters something under his breath. Waiting for the orders about what to do about the situation, he keeps his Viper in position for now.

"Poppy, Cerberus," comes the reply from Command on high in the ship. "Received. Prepping evac Raptors. No further contacts at present. Keep a tail on it. The skinjobs said there'd be humans aboard they'd plucked from the Cylon-occupied colonies. If that's true, we don't want to lose her. That said, if you deem it's hostile, you're cleared for weapons free."

[TAC3] "Poppy" Khloe says, "Copy, Cerberus. Boots, Poppy. You heard the brass. You have one chance to be a hero. If you can snag that thing, do it."

Whatever becomes of the Heavy Raider, whether they shoot it down or go to its aid, the Colonials will have to catch it first. And that thing is moving very fast, though so far whoever's in control of it is keeping it from careening directly into a rockface. It's flying lower now. It would be near the 'treeline' if this were mountain country, but instead there are merely plateaus and towering rock fissures and various other bitches to navigate.

[BlackKnight-312: Kar] Sighing inwardly, Kar's gaze is fixed on the Heavy as his least favourite combinations of orders comes through from Cerberus. Humans aboard - If deemed hostile - Weapons Free. Mantis takes a moment to check his console, prepping just incase they do go weapons-free. He sure as hell hopes Boots has a damned good plan. The upcoming landscape doesn't do wonders. It's going to get rough.

[TAC3] "Mantis" Kar says, "Boots, Mantis. An opportunity to excel, Captain. That terrain up ahead doesn't look too 'snag-friendly'."

<FS3> Trask rolls Repair: Great Success.
<FS3> Burke rolls Repair: Great Success.

[TAC3] (from "Breakout" Burke) Burke flicks his transmitter on, deciding to actually offer something helpful for a change. "Boots, Breakout," he takes another careful look at the Heavy Raider before continuing, "Ah ain't know much 'bout Cylon ships but Ah cain't see any kind a' damage on the outside, there. Maybe it ain't workin' right not cuz it got shot up? Ah mean, they part guts and stuff, right? Mebbe it's sick?" He shrugs his shoulders, "Hell, Ah don't know. Ah ain't no robot doctor."

[BlackKnight-854: Khloe] And off does Poppy's Viper speed, trailing along the vector she initially set, which would have them following the Heavy Raider along barren canyons and protrusions of rock. Which means, hair-trigger reflexes.

<FS3> Burke rolls Vipers: Failure.
<FS3> Khloe rolls Vipers: Good Success.
<FS3> Kar rolls Vipers: Good Success.
<FS3> Malone rolls Vipers: Great Success.

Perhaps it was that Nine Hells And Back Several Times A Day tour he did in southern Sagittaron; or maybe it's just that he's a licensed aerospace engineer who's spent many, many, many months dissecting and analyzing those few damaged Heavy Raiders he towed back to Cerberus; or it's possibly due to all those years he worked as a knuckledragger specializing in avionics; but whatever the case may be, Kal "Bootstrap" Trask is fully in his element. Calculations of all kinds race through his mind as he mentally pores over countless formulae and schematics stored in his memory banks. Finally, he hatches the best possible plan that he can and opens the channel.

[TAC3] (from "Bootstrap" Trask) "Ain't gonna happen, Pops," Trask relays, "'cuz that would be a suicide mission with it going at that speed." Then, shifting tracks, and TACs, "Two." Because that's the first name that comes to his mind. "Bootstrap here. I'm thinkin' your ship is suffering some biological problem that's causing its electrical and engine systems to malfunction. Attempting to forcibly power it down 'cuz I'm bankin' those thrusters aren't gonna shut off no matter how hard you try, and you can't flip off any off-switches if your avionics are borked."

[BlackKnight-1117: Malone] Managing to keep himself close to the Heavy Raider, Malone flies up alongside it and turns to try catching a glimpse of what's going on in the cockpit of the Cylon craft. When he does, he grimaces a bit to himself, before he starts speaking on the comms again.

[TAC3] "Splash" Malone says, "Flight, Splash. Looks like there's a Two flying it. Also looks like said Two has some trouble staying conscious, from what I can see. I'm guessing that's why he's losing control of the thing. Looks to be humans aboard as well, although I can't see more than movement in the background."

[BlackKnight-312: Kar] Mantis doesn't bother with the comms. His concentration is fixed on flanking the Heavy, doing his best to help 'guide' the ship so to speak. If flanking whilst flying through a bloody canyon in atmo is hard work, it doesn't show as he manages to stay with the Heavy just fine. Some of the rock-walls though get a little too close for comfort. Whatever Boots is going to do, he better do it soon.

[BlackKnight-1118: Burke] Quite suddenly, Burke's Viper loses a lot of altitude and starts to speed down towards the rocks below. His com line is strangely quiet as he struggles to regain control of the craft and doesn't think to chat about it as he's falling. The Viper weaves narrowly between a few rocky outcroppings, missing by a handful of feet, and slowly begins to regain altitude - albeit slowly.

[TAC3] "Poppy" Khloe says, "Cylons don't get sick. Frak, toasters don't get sick. Do whatever you're going to, Boots. Power it down, reset it, whatever - just time it right." A pause. "Watch what you're doing, Breakout!"

Trask spends 1 luck points on Do or die, and all that rot.
<FS3> Trask rolls Ecm: Great Success.

[TAC3] (from "Bootstrap" Trask) At all that's being relayed over the channels, Trask concludes, "Sounds like their life support systems are frakked. Let's see about getting 'em back on-line…" Beat. "Or anything helpful, really."

[Harrier-670: Trask] What happens next cannot be described in laymen's terms other than a strong background in electrical and aerospace engineering coupled with a helluva lot of time spent analyzing the Heavy Raiders he looted has resulted in Bootstrap somehow finding a way to shunt the interference to divert the technical difficulties into areas that are not vital to landing the ship. Whether or not the pilot is physically capable of taking advantage of the regained systems is another matter entirely.

The Heavy Raider's course gradually becomes less erratic. At least enough for the Two pilot to level it out, and head toward the ground toward an actual landing zone (far from any population center). His voice comes over the open communication line, somewhat choked.

"Flight, hello! I…I think we've got it now. There was…something happened to our Heavy Raider after we jumped away from Canceron. I've never seen a malfunction like this. It would be…best, I think, to take this one offline until we figure out why it…behaved this way. I do not think the Threes in control there are aware of our efforts but…" He trails off. He can't say for certain.

[TAC3] (from "Poppy" Khloe) "Two," Khloe swallows the bile in her throat. She never thought she'd have to address one with civility again. "You are ordered to set down at coordinates four-three-four by two-niner, outside of Lampridis Falls proper. There you will be met by Colonial Marines escorting technicians to inspect your Raider and your passengers. Please acknowledge, over.""

"Acknowledged, my dear, thank God acknowledged," the Two replies. It's tone regaining a very Two-like chipperness as it responds to Khloe. The Heavy alters its course to those coordinates, still moving sluggishly, but it's no longer aiming to faceplant into a mountain. So there's that.

[TAC3] "Poppy" Khloe says, "Cerberus, Poppy. Crisis averted. Requesting fire team escort at coordinates four-three-four by two-niner along with deck technicians and medical. Possible equipment malfunction, sabotage… sickness… whatever. According to Bootstrap and Splash, this Raider is sick. Over.""

[BlackKnight-312: Kar] As they level out, Kar's Viper begins to edge away from the Heavy. Either it's his conscious decision or his ingrained training, he seems to move into a position akin to flying escort. He takes a moment to look around at the flight as they head to the co-ordinates given by Poppy.

[TAC3] (from "Bootstrap" Trask) "Yo, Two. Bootstrap, again." Not that it probably needs to be said. "It'd be super swell if I could sit-in on those diagnostics. Maybe you'll even be enough of a gent to answer some of my many questions about those babies, yanno, seein' how I saved your ass and all." Although that last is relayed with good-natured cheekiness and no actual sense of entitlement.

[TAC3] "Bootstrap" Trask then tacks on to Poppy's words, "And Breakout. He sang out about the sickies." Because the guy did.

"Poppy, Cerberus. Copy that. Fire team on the ground is contacted and standing by."

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