AWD #159: Dirty Tricks
Dirty Tricks
Summary: The new DCAG, Major Franklin, puts Holtz through his paces. He doesn't take kindly to her dirty tricks.
Date: 14/06/2013 (OOC Date)
Related Logs: None.
Atalanta Holtz 
Flight Simulators — Deck 2 — Battlestar Orion
The Air Wing has access to flight simulators to train pilots off the ground in combat maneuvers and situations that are hard to replicate with regular dogfight practicing and this is their home. A rectangular room, the hatch opens up beside the bank of computers that control the simulations and what is seen by the individuals when training sessions are in progress. The sims are actual cockpits cut out of old frames and installed here to function exactly as the real thing, right down to oxygen plugs for suits. In front of each cockpit, complete with armored glass, are LCD screens that cover most of the front view to the front and above. There are two Vipers, two Predators, and one full-cabin Raptor available.
AWD #159

Franklin is nothing if not punctual; years of military service seem to have had that effect on her habits, at least. She, too, is clad in a flight suit — fully zipped, with her helmet tucked under one arm. She also carries with her a clipboard, a file, and several papers. One brow arches upwards sharply at Holtz's presence. In fact, she looks to her watch to double-check the time, as though she may have perhaps somehow been late.

Despite his own occasionally disorganized appearance, Holtz, like Franklin, has never had an issue with punctuality. He straightens as the other major enters, his suit rustling softly as he folds his burly arms over his chest. The man's chin juts out in Atia's direction. "Major. Let's get this dog and pony show movin', yeah?"

She brings her clipboard to rest against her chest, watching him over the edge of it for a few brief seconds. She makes no attempt whatsoever to hide the scrutiny. On the contrary, her green eyes are sharp, focused, unblinking. "Do you have any questions before we begin, Major Holtz?," comes a rather pointed question, complete with the distinctive accent not only belonging to Capricans, but to the Caprican upperclass.

The sound of that accent makes Holtz(whose own speech patterns clearly mark him a Tauron of lower-class origin) bristle slightly, but when he speaks again, his tone remains cool and controlled. He nods at the clipboard and file in her hand. "I assume you've got records on all of us, so I'm wonderin' just what you think this 'evaluation' will tell you about me that those don't. Ain't like I'm some thricedamn nugget fresh off the training cycle." Despite his calmness, there's a clear note of challenge in his accented voice.

Is there anything in the world more infuriating to someone trying to pick a fight than their chosen partner refusing to spar? She blinks once, clearly having noted the hostility, before she plastering a polite smile across her face. "As I am sure you're aware, Major, the loss of Fleet Command means the loss of the majority of our records. Flight evaluations, service history, notes from previous commanding officers — most all of it is gone. I've no choice but to start from scratch, in order to better determine what and who, exactly, I am working with." There's a brief pause, before she adds, "A satisfactory answer, I trust?"

Cold blue eyes sweep over Atalanta and her smile as a half-dozen snappish replies flash through his mind, but — probably prudently — he doesn't give voice to any of them. He merely grunts and turns to the open mockpit beside him, zipping up his flightsuit the rest of the way before clambering up and depositing his large frame inside.

The smile on her face stretches for a moment, before disappearing entirely. She settles into the cockpit that's been left empty, taking the time to arrange her paperwork and pull her helmet on before flicking on the wireless. The digital version of her voice cuts into his station. "We'll be escorting a civilian liner for the duration of the simulation, with orders to protect it at all costs." Yes, really. She's testing him out on a simple escort mission — babysitting an unarmored ship on its way through a hot zone. "You'll be taking point, Major."

From the inside of his cockpit, he snorts before keying his own comms. "That's it?" he replies, probably sounding rather arrogant but not seeming to care. For the first time, he flashes a toothy smile of his own, but there's nothing polite about it. "Be still, my heart." And then, just like that, a switch seems to flip in his head as his face goes blank and he assumes a businesslike demeanor, though there's still a flicker of… something in his voice as he speaks again. "I've got point, aye."

The blank LCD screen flicks to life, although there initially seems to be very little difference — the black has little flecks of white in it, no doubt the light provided by distant stars. It's soon filled by a patch of white, which must be the bulk of the passenger liner which they've been ordered to protect. There are two other points on their DRADIS, then a third. Two Vipers. A Raptor. They make up a full flight.

Seeing the screen in front of him come to life, Holtz adjusts his com headset and takes the controls of his 'ship', his feet settling into place on the thruster pedals. He guns the Viper's throttle, moving to take a position above and in front of the massive passenger liner before slowing to match the larger ship's speed. "Flight, Storm," he says dryly into the microphone. "In position."

As directed, each bird falls into place. It seems that she's elected to fly as his wingman, as he will soon find her ship trailing his, not very far behind at all. There's no confirmation given, though — she may well have the computer flying on her behalf, so that she may take notes on his performance uninterrupted.

Holtz watches the DRADIS display as the DCAG's Viper settles into place on his wing. Remembering it's a simulation, he resists the urge to look over his shoulder, instead keeping his eyes locked on his instruments and the screen in front of him. "Scopes're clear," he calls out a moment later. After a brief pause, he smirks at the silence over the comms. "Ya know, Major, I half-figured you'd be takin' us on yourself in these evals of yours. Fightin' a man'll tell you more about him than playin' sheepdog."

"That would depend entirely upon what you're looking for," she replies, her tone as level as her bird. "And on what you value." The comment is, if nothing else, a potential clue towards her own priorities. But did he really expect it to be that simple? After all, she's well aware that he passed basic flight — otherwise, he wouldn't be here. There's the tell-tale flash of a completed jump in the distance, barely on the edge of being BVR. Whatever it is shows on the DRADIS as a clump, still unidentifiable as anything definite. The preprogrammed voice of their Raptor operator comes over the comm. "Bogey, three o'clock!"

Whatever Holtz was about to say in reply, it's cut off by the synthetic "voice" from the simulated Raptor sounding in his ear. Almost instinctively, he slams on the throttle. "Got it!" he calls out. "Enemy contacts at oh-three-niner carom two, CBDR." Always aggressive, he turns his fighter in the direction of the enemy contacts, moving to engage.

"I've got your six, boss," comes Franklin's voice. Is it possible she's openly mocking the man? Her voice is even. There's no trace of humor whatsover in the comment. She simply trails after him, leaning on her thrusters to keep up. It's not long before the blip on their screen spreads out into a cluster — five, no… six, Raiders are showing. They've split into two groups of three.

Holtz snorts softly at her use of the word 'boss', eyes narrowing slightly. He watches as the blob on his DRADIS readout sharpens and divides, first into two, and then into six. "Reading two… scratch that, six sparrows inbound. Well, looks like a party." He throws a switch next to his weapons readout. "Fangs out."

He may expect her to be wearing an innocent expression; on the contrary, Atalanta's as entirely focused on the screen as though it were a real engagement. She is not, apparently, allowing the computer to fly for her. The computer would be mechanically perfect. It wouldn't be so effortlessly elegant. "Copy that."

Three of the Raiders break off, trying to blaze past them and gun straight for the liner. They may well be able to, as the three friens they've left behind are bearing down on the two of them with no sign of braking any time soon.

Holtz sees the breaking trio of Raiders break off and head for the liner… but he can't be of much help to the other ship if their three friends blast him into space scrap, so for the moment his focus is on the trio bearing down on the Vipers. He manages to flit out of the way of one burst of fire, and then another… but the price of his maneuvering is that his own shot goes wide. Cursing, he swings around, hot on the tail of his target.

"Storm, you've got two on you—," Atalanta cuts out, as she banks sharply left, having caught sight of the bandit that's got her in its sights. Another swerve, this time to the right, in the simplest of zig-zag patterns. Her attention is, obviously, split between trying to shake one off her tail and targetting the two that are tracking Holtz. A burst of cannon-fire comes roaring out of her guns, and the split second it takes her to get a shot off means that yellow glare on his screen is her wing lighting up, right as she puts one through that damn blinking red eye.

Holtz's Viper twists once more to avoid a salvo from the Raider he's tangling with; the wild maneuvers again cost him a shot at a killing blow, though, as another burst of red-orange KEW tracers flash past his target without making contact. Another string of mumbled curses is cut off as he watches a second blip disappear from the screen. "See to the liner," he calls out over the comms, his voice clipped and flat. "I'll get this bastard." Despite his orders, he too moves to head back towards the liner… but once his new course is set, he cuts his engine and flips his craft end over end, his momentum carrying him back towards their charge even as he points his nose at the pursuing Raider.

There's no reply from Atalanta — not immediately. Instead, she plummets like a stone, like her engines cut out in atmo, instead of in the freefall of space. The fire from the Raider that'd been dogging disappears into the distance, and he overshoots the spot where she once was. It leaves him dead in her sights, dead in the path of the blast aimed directly at his controls. Power sputters, then cuts. That must be the blip that drops off the DRADI— no. No, it's two blips dropping off the DRADIS. Did the other half of the flight take one out? "On it," she replies, cutting free of what remains of the furball.

"Shit!" The robotic voice has apparently been programmed rather realistically. "One of them jumped! Storm, I think he's bringing back friends…."

The cockpit rocks at Storm takes a hit amidships, but he shakes it off; this time his own shot strikes true as well, cutting the Raider right down the middle. The Raider bucks and explodes in a sheet of flame, and Holtz fires his thrusters, flipping his fighter over again as he trips his afterburners and streaks back towards the beleaguered liner.

Holtz is just in time to see one of the Viper's get torched. "Bank left!," his wingman cries over the wireless. And where the Viper should've gone left, it instead swerves right, putting it directly in the line of fire. A wing sheers off, which swiftly becomes an explosion of yellow-orange flame that Atalanta cuts through in her drive towards the liner.

"Storm, Raptor-6890T. I've got the liner's captain screaming in my ear…"

"6890T, Storm. Tell 'im to shut the frak up and let us do our jobs," Holtz growls into his mic as he bears down on one of the attacking Raiders. Without an attacker of his own, he flies straight and true, plunging toward his target like a silvery dagger, another well-placed burst of KEW fire ripping the Raider to shreds only a second or two before his Viper would have collided with it. He looks over just in time to see Atia take a nasty hit near the cockpit. "CAG, Storm." A tiny detached part of his mind notes he ought to find out her callsign at some point. "Sing out, you all right over there?"

Flying straight through the fire has done nothing to shake the bandits riding her. They're swarming her like a pack of angry dogs, ready to rip her apart.

"Storm," the Raptor repeats. "His FTLs are cold."

In short, they're stuck there. With one Viper wiped out, the CAG's Viper sputtering and wobbling in a way that suggests she took the hit rather than just her bird being damaged, and that missing Raider no doubt coming back with a few of his friends.

"No," she answers crisply, gritting her teeth. When her voice comes over the wireless, so does Betty's. Her DWR is screaming, and the intermittment beeping is no doubt her damage indicators going off.

"Are you frakkin' kidding me?" Holtz spits at the Raptor in disbelief. "Tell 'im to start spinnin' up, and that he's a godsdamn idiot for waitin' this long. You can quote me." It might be a simulation, but Holtz is professional enough to treat it like the real deal… even if he's not quite professional enough to keep from cursing a blue streak at his simulated flightmates. His attention back to the fight, he fires again… and again a Raider flashes out of existence under the fury of his guns.

No one ought to be able to keep that damned thing flying. Holtz can see it on the screen. Here tail is smoking. The HUD's been cracked partially open. Her right wing is damaged. It's time for a nylon letdown — or at least it should be. Either she's out for the count, or she's being a stubborn bitch, because she's still on course for the liner.

Storm clouds form on Holtz's brow as a new group of Raiders flashes into existence. His weapons reach out and smash a Raider that's bearing down on Atia, though not before the dying Raider scores a glancing hit of its own — and a second Raider homes in on the distracted Holtz and rakes his Viper. The cockpit shakes again, jolting Holtz in his seat, and his display is suddenly filled with flashing warning lights and Betty's piercing voice in his ear, both telling him he's lost one of his cannons to the Cylon fire.

She ought to be cutting the simulation here. It's all too obvious where this is going, what's going to happen to the both of them. But the computer is still running. The cameras are still recording. And by some strange miracle, Atalanta is still in the proverbial air. Suddenly, her voice cuts through on the wireless. "Storm," she says, her voice hard. "Going to guns." Is… is she insane?

If she's crazy, she's Holtz's kind of crazy. He says nothing in response as he pushes his damaged craft into a dive, using the liner itself as cover asa he jockeys for position, a Raider close on his heels. When the Raider explodes behind him, he violently flips his fighter over, the simulated g-forces pressing him back into his seat, but he grits his teeth and takes it as he single-mindedly homes in on another Raider — which conveniently seems to have set its beady, bobbing eye on him.

If she's crazy, she's crazy like a fox. Her Viper may as well be holding together via duct-tape and string, at this point. A piece of plating is wobbling dangerously, ready to come flying off. It does, as she flips end over end, shuddering dangerously as she shoots backwards through the debris field which she's just made from the gomer that'd been riding Holtz's ass. "Raptor 6890T, what's the ETA on those FTLs?"

"Frak me," Holtz spits as another Cylon shot spears his battered Viper. At this point, nearly every warning light on his panel is blinking insistently, but somehow he's still flying in spite of his attackers' best efforts. He swings around, spewing KEW fire in an act of defiance even as his fighter shudders under the strain his maneuvers are placing on its damaged frame.

He can't see her in her cockpit, and really, it's probably for the best. Buried under the glass of both her HUD and her helmet is this teeny, tiny little smile she's never let him see once the sim is over. A lady, after all, never rubs it in — even if she is enjoying herself a tinge more than she really ought to in an evaluation. The radio? Utterly silent.

It's probably a good thing Holtz can't see her smiling in the other cockpit. But he's got other things to worry about for the moment, anyway. Somehow, he manages to wrench himself out of the Raider's line of fire at the last second, but his damaged targeting systems are unable to compensate for the sudden evasive, and his own shot goes wide. His features contort themselves into a silent snarl as he pulls a snap turn to bring the annoyingly persistent Raider back under his guns.

It seems that unlick her current wingman, she's not one prone to swearing over the wireless - not even when a hail of bullets rocks her Viper so hard, it results literally cracks. One of her guns is almost sheared off; there's no way she can fire the thing without risking backfire. "Raptor 6890T, I said ETA on the FTLs!!," she barks out, as she careens — almost out of control — towards the Raider she's been ducking and dodging without much luck.

His controls are shot to hell, but there's nothing wrong with Holtz's engines, at least. He guns the throttle as he aims directly for one of the Raiders; with one gun out of commission and the other two damaged, his fire is ineffectual, but he's still sitting on one big potential weapon: his own ship. The Viper turns on a collision course with one of the Raiders, and the Cylon slowly begins to fill his screen… but before he can make impact, the Raider's two buddies finally find the range, and his controls go dead, the lights on his display winking out as the simulator finally rules his battered ship's had enough. He pounds the side of the cockpit with his fist almost before he realizes he's done it, and he curses again.

The screen goes black. Not just his, but hers, too. She could finish out the simulation, but it's obvious where it's going and unless she manages to pull off some miracle, there's nothing to be done about it. Besides, there's no point — there's no liner, only his evaluation. She pops the seal collar to her helmet off with a hiss, grateful as ever to have the damned thing off, even after a simple ride through the mockpit.

Even without a helmet of his own, Holtz has worked up a bit of a sweat sitting in the faux cockpit. He wipes his forehead before slamming the cockpit glass and taking a deep breath of the outside air before pulling himself out of the seat and over the side, landing on his feet with a soft clang as his boots strike the deck. Unzipping the flight suit down to his waist, he shrugs the thing off his shoulders before turning to her cockpit with a scowl. "That was damned dirty," he opines, his voice echoing loudly across the sim chamber. "Knew there was no winning that as soon as he said that about the liner's FTL's bein' cold. Used to pull that trick on nuggets, for frak's sake." And whatever else he is, Holtz is long removed from being a nugget. Which might explain the cold anger still lingering on his features. He gives her a shallow but exaggerated bow, in what he likely imagines to be the style of a Caprican gentleman. "Hope that was sufficiently edifyin' for you."

"Yes, it was," she says mildly as she opens the glass canopy on her simulator's seat. Whether she's referring to it being a dirty trick or to it being edifying is difficult to say, as she's already reaching into the pocket of her still fully-zipped flight suit for a pen. The button is depressed with a soft click and press from her thumb, before she begins scribbling a few notes on the edge of the top page on her clipboard. "I have two hundred pilots under my command, Major Holtz, and a month — at best — to ensure that each and every one of them is prepared for the Picon invasion. It is not going to be the brief skirmishes that most flights have been tangled up in. If someone is going to panic, I want to know now, not when I have them screaming in my ear in the middle of a dogfight. I would apologize if you find that offensive, except for the fact that I consider it necessary, and refuse to apologize for doing what I consider necessary to keep my men alive."

"The only thing I find offensive is the fact that all you poor slobs that got your asses stuck back in the Colonies when shit went to hell seem to think that everyone on this ship is a pack of lily-livered newbies," Holtz retorts. Oddly, his apparent anger doesn't seem entirely focused on Atia herself, even if she does make a convenient stand-in. "Yeah, we might not be in the trenches every day, but every one of us has been blooded since the war started. Anyone who cracked is either dead or gone. Or did you seriously think you were going to find a pack of cowards on a Colonial battlestar?" He shrugs; the coolness of her reply can't help but dim his anger a bit, and he slowly begins to unclench with a soft exhale. "I don't blame you for bein' careful, Major, believe it or not. I don't want to see my people die any more than you do, yeah? But I think we've got a bit more fight in us that you seem willin' to give us credit for. I guarantee you every one of my people'll be grateful for a chance to get some of our own back from the godsdamn Cylons." His chin juts out, eyes blazing. "Me? I'm lookin' forward to it."

"I wasn't stationed on Picon when the Cylons struck, Major. I've spent the last five months of the war aboard the Rubaul, eating once a day and showering every three. Hot-bunking with two other women after our sister carrier was destroyed and we were forced to take on the surviving eighty-percent of their personnel, and sleeping whenever I could, on the off chance we didn't have another one of the Sixes throwing grenades into our berths that shift," she says as she frowns down at her page, brow furrowed. She pauses for a moment, then continues to write, black ink scrawling across the page in narrow, practiced loops. "Soldiers make exceedingly easy targets when they're sleeping in their beds, you understand."

"Yeah, an' lemme guess, it was uphill both ways," Holtz mutters. "Am I supposed to be impressed? Remind me to tell you sometime about the time I spent on Picon after gettin' shot down, bleedin' out through a hole in my leg with my only company a turncoat Nine who I was never quite sure wouldn't decide to up an' slit my throat while I slept. Nearly got shot in the head for my trouble, too, first by a Six and then by our own godsdamn forces." A pause. "But frankly, I'm not any more interested in hearin' your sob stories than you are in hearin' mine." He pushes himself off the side of the mockpit, digging into the pocket of his flight suit for a cigarette. "If there's nothin' else…"

"In the snow, no less," Atalanta murmurs. "No, Major, that will be all," she says, with the faintest of smiles. It's visible, as she's finally looked up from her paperwork. There's no trace of sadness in her eyes — not for herself. There's no trace of pity for him, either. Aside from the way the corners of her mouth have turned slightly upwards, her expression is utterly impassive. "You're dismissed."

Holtz nods brusquely. "Evenin', Major," he utters as he turns and shambles towards the door, a wisp of smoke trailing behind him as he walks. His own face isn't quite as expressionless as hers, but then the burly Tauron's never had much of a Triad face; something that almost but isn't quite respect wars with something that almost but isn't quite aggravation on his features as he quietly exits.\par

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