MD #101: Helois Alpha & Gamma Leap Recon
Helois Alpha & Gamma Leap Recon
Summary: A raptor crew recons Helios Alpha & Gamma after the Skath invasion.
Date: 18/07/2017 (OOC Date)
Related Logs: Helios Beta and Delta Leap Recon
Lukes Adeliza Idris Clara 
TP One
See Set
02/02/2049

PAGES LEFT IN INTENTIONALLY FOR CLARITY.

After the crew for the first Raptor we carefully picked out, they were briefed on where they would dbe going. The biggest unknown is the ECO, JG Lukes. She's an unknown and brand new to the wing, on TDY no less, but performed well in the Core. Sinking a Carrier is probably why she was given the chance for this seat. The pilot was selected because he knows how to keep his trap shut. The Raptor is kitted out with four nuclear anti-ship missiles, 20mm miniguns, rocket packs over the shoulders, and a door gun. Its probably the most heavily armed Raptor-G the fleet has fielded since the second war. Lukes is in the back, working over her gear and doing her best to keep her knee from bouncing nervously. "Four-jump sequence input and ready for execution on your orders."

The pilot nods. "Commence the sequence, Suds."

"Copy, sir. Sequence beginning in ten seconds, destination Caprica at Helios Alpha, ten seconds… mark." She watches the clock on the ECO board. Its still going to take awhile to get there since the FTL has to power up after each jump, but this isn't a bad way to do things either. Saves time and reduces the chance of a screw-up - even if the problems compound with every jump if there's even one thing incorrect.

It's a Raptor. A bus. What the hell is Captain Idris Bloodfeather doing on this recon? Wasting oxygen and being dead weight, most likely. But he was told to show up and go and he said 'Yes, Sir' and grabbed his helmet. So, he's seated in the back and strapped in. The Viper pilot (sometimes Predator pilot) idly watches Lukes going through her motions from a viewpoint he'd not really expected to have. If anything did get dicy, Idris could at least man the doorgun. But while things are quiet, he leans over a little to better see what Lukes is doing. Bloodfeather does have a recorder and something to take notes on, should they want a backup to the Raptor's own guncam.

If her thigh wasn't still sore, then Lukes might not be the only one with bouncing knees. As it is, Lt. Adeliza Wynn is sitting with her recording equipment and her ever-present clip board on her lap, fingers curled over the edge as she looks straight ahead. She lets out a breath, and listens, and waits. After a moment, she checks through her survival vest, checking that her sidearm is still in place as if it could have wandered off since she boarded the Raptor, and then makes sure her recording equipment and cam are all in working order. Then, she is still again.

Unlike Idris, Lieutenant Piers does not have an affinity for the raptor's doorgun. She's here, presumably, because there aren't enough spooks on this mission. Rifle strapped to her back and sidearm holstered at her thigh, the S2 climbs on board smoothly and straps herself in. Then she proceeds to withdraw her notepad from a pocket of her armoured vest, and study them with a faroff, thoughtful look in her dark eyes. She doesn't make small talk, but does look up briefly as the engines come online.

The jump sequence takes them a stretch of time. It's not exciting and the Raptor is quiet with the tension. Nobody knows or can even speculate what's happened to the Colonies. As it comes down to the final jump, the flight crew just stares at the jump clock counting down. At thirty seconds, Lukes announces it.

"Master Arm, On. Spin the warheads up. Nuclear Release is not authorized unless I order you to fire." The pilot is pretty strict about that.

"Copy, sir," Lukes says, growing more serious. She sounds more confident in their ears, too. Training hones the focus for times like this. "Board confirms warheads green, pre-selecting five hundred kilotons." She presses a few buttons and then sits back in the chair. "Dradis in standby. We're quiet as a churchmouse. Ten seconds, sir."

The clock almost feels like it slows to a crawl. 2. 1. Flash.

They come out of the jump and it takes the standard moment to refocus the eyes. They're distant from the planet. Further than they intended to be, actually. Not that it matters. The pilot lets out a breath of a sigh when he looks out the canopy glass, annoyed. The planet out there is clearly not Caprica, its Tauron. "Lukes, spin up the jump computer, you jumped us to Helios Alpha, but that's Tauron, JG. C'mon. We don't have time for this." The ugly black and brown smears across the clouded planet, radiation sensors spiked. Total waste.

Lukes groans and begins replotting. And her keystrokes slow to a stop. Her right hand begins to shake a little. "Sir. We're staring at Caprica. Gemenon is at 3 o'clock low." her voice is croaked and dry, doing her best to remain focused and bring up the recon package to get photos and video. Record everything. "Passive dradis clear of traffic, sir. There's nothing out there," she squeaks.

Gah, not much fun to be sitting in the back seat while their ECO jumps them off to … Tauron? Well, at least it's still in the Colonies and not back to the core, thank you very much. Bloodfeather cranes his head around to try and see out the front. He's never seen Tauron before. Canceron isn't even rumored to be /that/ nasty. He sighs and looks to both Clara and Adeliza, then offers a gloved hand, "I'm Captain Idris Bloodfeather. My handle is 'Vogue'. You're the JTACCO, aren't you?" That part to Adeliza first, then a nod to Clara, "I think you and I met back on Calumet, didn't we, Lieutenant?"

Clara scribbles a couple of things down while they're in transit, and then closes up her notebook and turns her eyes on the windscreen once the final jump is complete. The movement jostles her in the raptor's restraints, but the entirety of her focus is on the nuclear soup spread across the planet outside the window. "Maybe," she tells Idris, distractedly. Her hooded eyes flick to him briefly, skim his face, and then shfit away again without so much as an inkling of a smile. "Uh, can you confirm our location?" she asks the pilot over the comms.

"Lt. Adeliza Wynn," the tactical officer confirms, taking the offered hand with a smile that is slightly on the tense side. She listens to the discussion between pilot and ECO, and there's a little, sympathetic, twist to one corner of her mouth for the ECO, but then… She freezes as she listens. "No…" she's not even aware that the whisper has left her lips, and she cranes her head to look around to the front. Without even thinking, she unbuckles from her seat and staggers forward, one hand to steady herself as she looks towards the planet that Lukes claims is Caprica, looking for the Gemenon to confirm, hoping not to see it.

It's not like Clara would forget his face with the 20 or so scarification marks neatly lined up along his cheek bones, but the Captain doesn't press. And then Adeliza is unbuckling and moving forward to have a better look and that's when Bloodfeather realizes… the ECO just confirmed that it -is- Caprica, NOT Tauron they are looking at! He too unbuckles and eases up to try and look as well, behind the others. To quote some random Marine, the look on the Captain's face looks like 'Oh shit' but without saying it.

The pilot is already looking over his right shoulder and then does a double-take with Lukes' suggestion. Clara's request has him turn in his seat and look back. They can see that even in the lights on his face, the man is very pale and looks terrified. His mouth moves as if to say something, but there's nothing coming out. Anyone who looks at him and then past him can see it out there. The clouded nuclear wasteland planet in front of them is obvious, but looking over his shoulder is another planet. Anyone who spent time on Caprica would know the sight of it in the daytime and nighttime sky. Caprica's nuked brother, Gemenon, is still in silent orbit. The planets have become twins.
The ECO in the back is crying in silence in her helmet, but she's working. "Its Caprica. We're just out of position, but its.. that's.. Gods." The pain in her voice is easy to discern. Its visceral. That was clearly her home. "Radiation levels in the atmosphere average twice that of Gemenon. We can't even fly the Raptor into the atmosphere, sir." She can't see out the front with the others standing there, but she has her recon package and she's staring at it, working it slowly and in passive mode.

<FS3> Idris rolls Alertness: Success.

<FS3> Adeliza rolls Alertness: Great Success.

You paged Adeliza with 'If Addie looks out the left side of the canopy, away from Gemenon, she can see something that looks like a soft ring of debris that along slings about 1/4 of the way around the planet. Odd, since Caprica didn't have a moon or something that could have been pulverized into pieces like that. And the longer she looks at it, the more she begins to make out very vague shapes at a distance. Those aren't asteroids. Those are ship wreckages. Thousands of them. She can make out the fore sections of two different battlestars and an Arpay Carrier that's been blasted in half and charred by fire. That's all she can make out at this distance, though. They are way too far off to pick out any detail. A dradis sweep and the ECO might be able to get a lot more detail on the zoomlens.'

<FS3> Clara rolls Alertness: Good Success.

Adeliza hardly notices the tears streaming down her cheeks as she looks, and she's as bereft of speech as the pilot, but without even the ability to open her mouth. How many of her family were still there? How many family that she would never meet, since they were born in her absence, and are now gone forever? She wrenches her head to the side, closing her eyes, only then noting the tears and grinds the heel of her hand into her eyes, one after the other, as if to shove her grief back down into a safe place. She can't look back to Caprica. She just can't, she lets the recording machines do their work, so she doesn't have to bear the sight anymore. Then, after a few labored breaths, she pauses. She leans forward again, but this time, not towards the view of the Caprica, but something else. "Over there," she points towards the left, towards some sort of space flotsam in a soft ring. "Caprica didn't have a moon… or asteroids. Is that… a battlestar? An Arpay carrier? Can we aim a zoomlens over there? I need a DRADIS sweep, please, El Tee. And the best definition you can manage… Gods, it must be thousands of ships…" her fingers tighten on the bulkhead where she grips, but at least she has something other than the wasted planet to focus her attention.

Idris already lost his home world to the Cylons - Canceron is no longer viable. So while he is shocked, Bloodfeather only thins his mouth at what he sees, his expression cold, silent, anger. Reluctantly he draws his eyes from that view and looks to where the tactical officer points to the debris field. If it's even possible, he thins his mouth even further into a hard line and waits to see what they can find out. Without comment.

<FS3> Lukes rolls ECM: Good Success.

Clara blinks slowly as their location is confirmed, and stares out the windscreen blindly at her own reflection. She doesn't have family there, though Gemenon… Gemenon is an older wound. Her programming, at least, dictates she have a connection with the planet, though it was mourned long ago. With a breath, the Three gets to notetaking while the others discuss.. a ship? She squints a little, waiting to hear back on what it might be.

"Copy, sir. Spinning up dradis. Pircs and lamps already running." It helps Lukes to keep her focus on something. This isn't actually real. This is a simulation. A very, very real simulation. She can poke holes in the theory later. Swallowing hard, she focuses on what she is seeing, turning the whole of the recon package towards their ten o'clock. "Tally." She seems to be recovering quickly behind her sim idea. "Thousands of targets out there, sir. Maybe more." It isn't as large as the debris field at Virgon after the Second War kicked off and the fleet was decimated, but this one is still huge. About that time the video camera pans over and what fills the screen is a flight pod and the word ARCHER.

"Battlestar 172 accounted for, sirs. Archer flightpod." But nothing attached to it and its blasted. The camera keeps panning and there are more and more ships outthere. Mosto f the wreckage is completely unidentifiable. There are smaller pieces, too. Vipers. Raptors. …Hornets. "Frak me," Lukes whispers. Filling her screen are he wreckages of two Arpay carriers, not one. They've floated nearly into each other. Those carriers don't go anywhere without their strike groups.

Beep Beep. "Bandits! Just jumped in! Six o'clock, they're already on us!" Lukes calls.

And even before she can say more, the two Raiders fly right past the Raptor. They must have seen it jump in from somewhere else. Each Raider flies in on either side of the Raptor as the fighters slow an rejoin. But there's no gunfire. There's zero aggression. Skath Raiders just continue flying past as if there's nothing wrong, gently banking off to the right and continuing on.

"Lukes, jump us! Picon, fast!" the pilot calls.

"On it!"

"They think we're dead," Clara murmurs into her helmet, eyes glued to the raptor's windscreen as the skath raiders drift past them soundlessly. "I assume we have enough fuel to make Picon?" she enquires of the flight crew.

Idris grimaces, "The Arpay, they were here too and fought to help us. Just as they said they would." And then the two Raiders fly by and Bloodfeather visibly twitches, certainly wishing he was in his viper and not in this tin can for Gods' sakes. He cranes his head around to try and watch the Skath Raiders for as far as he can follow them with his eyes, "They aren't interested in us or they'd be all over us by now." 'Vogue' is still tracking the receding dots through the starfield, "I wonder if the Skath or the Clerics, aren't using captured Coloniel Raptors. They just assume we're some of their own, maybe. Aren't even bothering to ping us for ID." The viper Squadron Leader looks to the Raptor pilot, ECO, then the Tactical and Intel officers. "The recon on Piraeus, they ignored that Raptor too, didn't they? That … might be used to our advantage."

Lukes spends 1 luck points on I want a pony!.

<FS3> Lukes rolls ECM: Success.

Ducking at first as the Raiders fly by, Adeliza is all ready to dive into her seat, but then, they keep going. She pauses to watch them go, but then goes to her seat to buckle in. "Best not to tempt fate, though," she suggests, a tacit agreement to the pilot's order to jump /now/. The clasps click shut, and her belongings are stacked in her lap again, fists balled over them as she steels herself for whatever they may find on Picon.

Flash. The Raptor executes a shorter jump to Picon and ends up distant from it again. Floating this far out they can get a good look at the planet and the starscape background. Lukes flops back in her chair. "Jump complete," with the confirmation. "Picon." She tilts her head back to try and crane to get a look. "Dradis is off. Turning the recon package."

There's some relief. The planet is not an ugly black and brown smear. Its glowing bright on the section lit for daytime. But on the dark side, where there is night, there are no lights. "Still recording. Sensors coming online." She works at the console. "Trace radioactive isotopes in the atmosphere, consistent with EMP detonations in the past. Getting electronic broadcast intercepts…" She types a few things while the system chews. "Classified as Skath encrypted communications, coming from the surface and orbit. No civilian or military signatures of Colonial origin that I'm seeing. …Got active dradis, L-band search and early warning, Skath in origin. There's enemy fleet ships in orbit but no idea how many, sirs." She flicks over to the camera and zooms in on Picon, and everyone knows where she is trying to aim for: CFAS Crandall. The lens resets a few times before reaching its maximum focal length. Its still there. "Crandall is intact. No detail on it, though. No known friendly emissions from that site." She looks back to the others. Orders?

"Has Tactical made any attempts or success at decoding skath transmissions?" Clara asks over shipboard wireless, with a glance directed at Adeliza. She nods along with Lukes's narration, and scribbles a couple more notes down on Crandall. Her shoulders are tense with all the skath activity in the area, but she says nothing of it.

Idris didn't have time to go back to his seat and strap in so he holds on to the 'Oh Shit' bar above the pilot's seat and keeps his place. Bloodfeather licks his lips and studies the new planet that comes up into their view, picking out what details he can even as Lukas is describing what she is picking up, or isn't. Yes, the dark side looks mightly berift of anything like lights from cities. Silently, it raises goose flesh prickles over his skin though in his flight suit, no one is apt to notice.

"No lights," Adeliza murmurs, it's the first thing she notices, after an audible sigh of relief that it was still bright, or at least, half bright. "Can you get me a reading on that EMP, how long ago it would have hit?" She taps her fingers. "Populations… what about the rest of the planet? At least, the part we can see in the light, right now. Check the other major population centers, and scan for any new Skath installments. Or craft… on Piraeus it was painted to blend in, so anything that looks odd…" She lets out a breath. "Judging from the possible lack of electricity at night, I'm going to make a preliminary assumption of Skath control, and treat it accordingly. Tread warily." She glances over to Clara. "Not that I am aware of as yet. We have Intel working on what we've gathered so far."

After a moment, 'Vogue' says low, "We should attempt to count and ID enemy ship designs as we are able. That's valuable intel."

Lukes continues and tries to look over the rest of the requests with a slow shake of her head. "Negative, sir. If we want a headcount on ships in orbit, we'll have to go active. As it stands, they'll know we are here in another couple minutes when our dradis return arrives at their location. They may even see our jump flash if they are watching close enough." She's working, though. Ten seconds late, another shake. "Perkinston was leveled in the second war and never rebuilt. Looks like the radioactive remains are still there. …Looks like most of the larger cities are there but we're way too far out to detect anything. But if you look.." She points to the screen. Sections are squared off on the terrain. Some larger than others. "These look like farms, right? Like, you know, someone is growing crops. I mean this is Picon but I've never seen so many farms except for maybe pictures of Aerilon." She continues scanning. "Big open-pit mine. Percs is chewing.. looks like they are mining iron." The camera runs over the surface for another minute and catches the edge of something. Stop. Go back and Lukes looks at it.

"Frak me," she breathes. On the screen they can all see a -yooooooge- installation. Idris will immediately remember the bombing of the Cleric Resurrection Hub on Calumet, while it was under construction. The size of a stadium. This looks to be about twice that size, built squat in the middle of a population center. The walls around it look very thick, too, preventing anyone from getting too close on the ground.

Clara scans the landscape as the ECO points things out, making notes as she goes along. The sight of the resurrection facility being constructed causes her to frown slightly though. She makes another note, circles it. There's a nod to Adeliza. "Okay. I was just curious."

Lukes has the Captain's rapt attention. "Even a visual … but you are right. Another time." Bloodfeather's attention is for every detail that Lukes is pointing out to them that show upon the planet's surface. As if he'd never really looked very closely for such things from orbit so high before. Trying to make sense of it. He tries to get a better look, but mindful not to block the view of the others.

The JTACCO starts to open her mouth when the idea of taking a head count on the Skath fleet is suggested, but then Lukes responds, and she gives one, quick, nod, and leaves it at that. She's up from her seat again, and then she gives a shake of her head. "Looks almost like home," she mutters under her breath, and then she is making notes on her own pad from what the cameras are showing her, but her pen freezes when she notes the size of the Resurrection Hub, and ths time her mouth does drop open, just a little. "Can you zoom in on that any more, Lieutenant?"

"No, sir. We're at maximum focal length. We'd have to get a lot closer to the planet and the enemy ships." Lukes seems pretty positive about that.

<FS3> Lukes rolls ECM: Good Success.

"Suds, get us to Libran before the Skath can jump out here and take a better look at us," the pilot calls back.

"Copy, sir. Drive spooled. Jumping in ten." They can watch the woman work from behind and over her shoulder. Lukes doesn't seem to mind as she runs through screens with the keyboard and tracball, then touching one to bring up some finer controls, resetting the camera from the long zoom.

"Jumping." There's a bright flash and that unsettling feeling that accompanies it. "Jump complete. We are at Libran, Helios Gamma. …Confirmed." The planet had been used as a prison facility for the APF after the second war. The only Colonial presence on the ground was a very large special forces base surrounded by mines and defended with a whole lot of firepower. Officially a training base, anyone who had been there knew better. They ran raids and recons constantly against the APF.

Out the canopy they are looking at the same glowing orb as the one they left. Everything seems exactly as it were. No surprise the Skath didn't nuke a planet that was populated by humans who adored and prayed for their arrival. "Tally multiple L-band search and early warning dradis. Six of the sources are consistent with Skath Carriers, sirs. They will see us in around three minutes, give or take." Fingers fly over the keyboard. "Percs gets nothing abnormal in the atmosphere. Standard readings. The planet looks healthy and untouched. Cameras coming online." Lukes aims the thing back down the same zoom towards the planet and begins looking for anything of note.

More farms, and a lot of them. Open range. But as they roll up into deeper zoom, the ECO is clearly aiming at something that can be seen from a very high altitude. "Grand Poobah of the APF must live there." The fortress is massive and must have taken almost the whole two decades to build. The walls range far and the interior is a large city with a huge royal residence. The whole thing must be ten miles in diameter, wall to wall of the exterior. Further to the north, in a mountianous area, they can see where the hills were mined and stripped to dig out enough rock to build that structure on top of the old capital city.

Clara has little to say as the reconnaissance continues, as is generally her wont. Notes upon notes are taken, and occasionally she'll lean over to get eyes on the photos being procured, but mostly she seems to be in her own head.

"Then two and half minutes sounds like a good time to jump," Adeliza murmurs dourly, almost to herself. She's looking at the photo reconn, listening to the readings , noting them in the pad on her clipboard. Her head twists slightly to the side as she looks at the new/old city and she chews her lower lip once. She gives a nod, jots something down in the margin of her pad, and then blows out a breath, making sure her seatbelt is still secured for the jump out.

Bloodfeather is very quiet. He holds to the grip bar and stays out of the way as much as he can and still have a view out the Raptor's canopy. His gloves might be pale where the material is stretched over the knuckles of his hand, gripping that bar tightly. His body is tense as his dark eyes propbe for every detail he can soak up. A slow breath is indrawn, "Of all the worlds they have nuked, perhaps … we have one we could stand to obliterate ourselves. They have infested Libran wholly and made her their own." But he didn't miss the part about /six/ Skath Carriers or the shortness of time.

Lukes continues her scan, looking across the terrain. "There was a base somewhere…" The camera moves across the terrain and she zooms out to cover more ground, faster. There seem to be structures dotting the terrain, thick structures surrounded by fields and smaller outlier buildings. "Twenty seconds." Forest. Mountains. Whoa. She stops and zooms in. There is something rising out of the terrain, definitely man made. Judging by how long the shadow is, its very tall, too. Heavy walls surround it. "This is where the old Colonial base used to be.. look at those spires." Hundreds of feet high. "That's gotta be some kind of temple." The clock hits five seconds. "Okay, we're cutting this short. Jumping in three.. two. one."

Flash.

The towers do cast stark, long shadows. So much of what they are trying to look up can be cleaned up with a computer enhancement filters and printed out into flatpics for further study. Bloodfeather nonetheless squints and tries to pick out details. "I bet you could be right. A religious center for their clerics and faithful, perhaps. The cancerous heart." Ah, but then they are jumping away before it's too late and they give themselves away. Idris has been sweating a little in his flight suit. He glances from one person to the next. It's been a day filled with shocks.

Clara has pages of notes to pore over, once she's back on Orion. Idris's words, though, are met with stony silence from the Three. She keeps her own counsel for the trip home.

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