AWD #568: Leap of Faith
Leap of Faith
Summary: A selected few depart the BS Orion to attempt a 30,000 light year jump on the Erol in search of the fabled 'Rally Point'. It is expected to be a one way trip with little chance of success. One must have faith to try. (Many thanks to DK for STing)
Date: 11/01/2017 (OOC Date)
Related Logs: TBA
Bennett Pratt Lleufer Angelis Miri Dropkickst 
Erol, CIC
TBA
Fri Jul 28 19:10:03 2006

With everyone gathered after getting their arrangements in order, the crews were shuffled over with all their gear and the nuclear weapons stowed in lockups that only the Raptor Officers have access to. The crew is all volunteer and have come from different ships all over the fleet - including a Master Chief Petty Officer from the Baker Bay who nearly demanded to come and look after the reactors and drives. And likely to take the greatest ride ever attempted by humanity. The mood on the ship is somber and quiet. The primary exploration team has been called to the bridge for final casting off from the fleet and to prepare for The Jump.

The Captain, Mike Harris, is seated in a command chair next to his Nav Officer and Astrometrics. Engineering and Damage Control officers are standing by on their panels. Weps has been ordered to safety every gun on the ship and the munitions for the point defense guns have been secured in their lockers for safety and fire concerns. The room is fairly cramped, but there's a 15' screen at the head of the rectangular room that is fed by a camera looking down the beam (center) of the ship and over the bow. The dull red lights overhead provide the only light in the room except for the panels and DRADIS systems and personal workstations.

"Erol, Orion Actual," Jameson calls over the radio. "We show you at safe distance, over."

Harris takes up the mic and looks to Nav. "Run it."

"Nav is Go!"

"DC is Go!"

"Engineering is Go!"

"Deck is safe and Go!"

"Weps is Go!"

"Astrometrics is Go!"

And finally the poor bastard that has to push the button. "Drive is spooled to one hundred percent. Drive is Go."

Harris keys the mic, "Orion Actual, Erol is Go. Prepared for departure, over."

"Copy, Erol. Go get 'em, Mike. On your mark."

The Captain looks around the room and takes a long breath. "Buckle up. This is going to be one helluva ride."

Bennett is never one to wear her emotions on her sleeve. Tonight is an exception. There's a distinctly taut look in her blue, blue eyes, which are transfixed on the screen with scrolling Nav readouts. Watching for the rollup of the Erol's FTL engines that signal their impending jump. She is, otherwise, the picture of career military: chin up, flight wings perfectly straight, dark hair pulled back into a sleek bun without a single strand out of place. Nervous tension winds through her lean frame, currently with no outlet whatsoever.

Pratt glances over at Bennett and the other individuals from the Orion's group, and when the captain warns people to hang on, the Lieutenant simply reaches out to place his hand against the wall close by, and takes a deep breath. Licking his lips, he mutters just barely loud enough to hear maybe by those within arm's reach, "Gonna have to try this in a simulator sometime," and purses his lips.

The ship had jumped back to Piraeus, and if there was time, you can bet Lleufer Ynyr took whatever few hours of leave he could to get his ass down there. Maybe for the last time. A taste of the fresh air outdoors, natural unrecycled mountain water, maybe some hiking and fishing. And if he was really, really lucky, maybe one overnight to see the stars through Piraeus's night sky with the faint sharp scent of the sea in the distance to mingle with the pines. A brief time of peace to think.

But now, Sergeant Lleufer Ynyr received the note they all did that he was accepted to go. Here is stands in his combat blacks, his gear stowed. Quiet, calm, he allows his pale grey-blue eyes to slip over those in this chamber that he knows. The weathered Marine stands next to Major Bennett St. Clair and doesn't say anything. His gaze rests briefly on young Lance Corpal Angelis there, and finally he notices how tense the Gentleman Ghosts' Squardon Leader has become. Lleu raises a hand to lay it on Bennett's near shoulder and give it a gentle but firm squeeze as if trying to reassure her that everything will be all right, whatever happens.

Angelis is pretty stoic about the whole situation. She stands quietly, her gaze drifting around the bridge, watching the people she may live or die with. Dressed in her combat uniform which is in good a shape as she could make it. At least it's clean, despite the slight wear and tear, her hair is neatly braided and pulled back into a ponytail, and her hands are tucked behind her back. It's not an easy thing for the young marine to remain still, but she does give it a good try. When the Captain announces for them to all hold on, she steps back slightly and spreads her feet, knees bent a little, one hand reaching blinding to find something to grab on to while her eyes remain firmly fixed, straight ahead, lips moving silently in prayer.

Over the past thirty-six hours, Specialist Miri Zahav has mulled over the irony of being a medic on a suicide mission. Her curls have been cut into a bob, held in place with pins. She is positioned toward the center of the room, watching the people and not the screens.

Pratt spends 1 luck points on Because this is not Event Horizon 2, Damnit..

Angelis spends 1 luck points on So we don't die yet!.

Bennett spends 1 luck points on pls to not kill us with this jump.

Lleufer spends 1 luck points on One for the money, two for the show, three to get ready, and four to gooooo……

Miri spends 1 luck points on Never tell me the odds.

<FS3> Dropkick rolls 6+1: Good Success.

<FS3> Dropkick rolls 4: Good Success.

<FS3> Dropkick rolls 4: Success.

<FS3> Dropkick rolls 4: Success.

<FS3> Dropkick rolls 4: Failure.

<FS3> Dropkick rolls 4: Failure.

"Copy, Orion Actual. We're making rooster tails. Don't close up shop without us. Erol Actual, out." He secures the mic back and looks to the jump officer. "Jump control, initiate jump on my snapcount." He looks around quickly, not wanting to drag this out. His hand lifts and he looks back forward. There's a snap with each number. "Five. Four. Three. Two. One." He aims a finger. "Jump!"

The jump officer closes his eyes through it, looking like he's evacuating his colon during the snapcount. When Harris speaks jump, he twists the key.

Its unlike they've ever felt before. Every person on the bridge can feel their soul extending both forward and behind their body all at once. It isn't painful, but they can feel their whole consciousness and existence stretch. Its like falling down a well and zooming in on the top as they fall. The stars in front of them begin to stretch and a white light bathes the whole room before a shrill whine rises with a roar, like a supercharged V12 engine. They can feel things shaking but their vision freezes… and then it goes completely silent. Time hangs. And hangs.

Its as if their existence had become frozen in this space while their vision becomes less blurry. Seconds pass. They aren't breathing but also don't feel the need. They couldn't even if they wanted to. Their bodies are completely frozen but conscious thought hangs in the intervening time. That's when the faces appear.

At first its just the hint of heads, then full faces, then bodies. The beings are distinctly human, standing on the same deck level with them, but immobile as if the ship were flying through them. They start to recognize some of them. Close friends. Loved ones. Husbands and wives. Children. Parents. Brothers and sisters. On their faces are immense looks of pride and solemnity. They smile at the loved ones they recognize on the bridge but make no motion to speak. Only the slow motion of ethereal hands reaching out to touch them as they pass. When those limbs pass through their bodies there is no doubt as to who or what just touched them. The dead have given their blessings and these passengers can feel their warmth. It goes on for two or three minutes and then they fade away into nothing as if they were never there…

There's a crashing explosion and everything is suddenly moving again. The passengers can all move and there are alarms going off. People who are standing are thrown to the floor or bouncing off consoles or bulkheads. The viewscreen is shown to be spinning slowly, the ship looking to be in an uncontrolled lateral and horizontal spin as it comes out of the jump hole. Behind them, there's more explosions from deeper within the ship.

Harris looks completely frozen for a moment, a look of total shock on his face. It takes him three and one half seconds to suddenly turn and start yelling, "DC Parties report! NOW!!" Most people are still trying to get up.

It's a good thing you can't cry in that time-outside-of-time, or else Miri would have. And she hates crying. No one wants a cranky corpsman. It's just as well. She inhales sharply and hauls herself to her feet, scanning the crew for injuries, listening for cries of 'medic'.

Its enough to throw Pratt off of his game so that he's completely unprepared for the manner of the 'landing'. When the deck shakes and explosions go off, he's slammed against the bulkhead behind him and slumps to one knee with a pronounced "FRAK!" a hand immediately reaching up to the back of his head. A moment to blink his vision clear and he looks up and around, staggering back to his feet while hearing the Captain barking orders and demand damage reports. Hands are offered to those closest to him to help people up should they need.

Bennett doesn't need to turn to see who's put a hand on her arm, but she does smile ever so slightly. Her eyes cut to Pratt for a moment, and then everything goes sideways. Literally. It's a long while before she can so much as blink her eyes, never mind move again, and then it's to try to brace herself as she's slammed against a bulkhead. By the time her vision clears, she's on the floor and nursing one hell of a headache - but otherwise unharmed.

Well, here they go. For better or for worse. Lleu glances to Bennett, leaving his hand on her shoulder if she didn't remove it. He bows his head slightly, his other hand gripping the table or anything else near to hand that is secure. The Aerilon Sergeant closes his eyes and likely prays to the Gods to see them through and the countdown starts… and when it starts and the engines take on that strange whine and roar, the Marine's heart is probably starting to hammerer as fast as the rest of theirs! Silence.

His eyes /had/ been closed but when he opens them Lleu sees his crippled father in his wheel chair, and his mother so thin, and two of his strong brothers, cousins, old friends, so many of them now long gone. His first sweetheart. Conspicuous by their absenses are one of his brothers and his little sister, and his various nieces and nephews. If he were able, standing there, there would be tears in his eyes.

The world he knows THROWS Ynyr down or sideways, or up, or inside out! It's hard to tell but he hits the bulkhead hard and then finds himself tossed into a pile with someone else, orienting himself to be on the floor. "Eh, sorry, Major." Lleu detangles himself from Bennett and tries to get his ass up. St. Clair looks all right to him, so he offers her a hand up and then turns his head sharply to check on Angelis and the others.

Lips frozen in mid-prayer, her mind still catching up, it's with only the vaguest sense of relief that Tabi notices her two remaining brothers are not amid the visiting delegation of dead friends and relatives. If she could breathe, she'd have probably sucked in a sharp breath, holding it as that sense of warmth passes over and through her. But then, quick as that, it's gone and she's being flung to the ground as the ship comes out of its jump. Fortunately she'd been reasonably relaxed at the beginning of the jump, which helps break the fall somewhat, as she pushes to her feet with only the promise of a few bruises to come. She immediately does a quick scan of the bridge, first checking for Lleufer, then Miri, satisfied that the pair of them are largely okay, she immediately sets about helping other folks that have fallen or been bounced around, at least until she's given further orders.

The Navigation Officer isn't waiting to be told what to do. He swipes his hand down a sheet of rocker switches and flips two red-marked ones at the top, lifting the safeties off first. He grabs both flight yokes and grits his teeth as he begins trying to slow the uncontrolled movement. He's staring at the cracked screen in front of him, visibly sweating suddenly. On the other side of Captain Harris, the Astrometrics Officer is trying to establish position. Getting measurements isn't easy like this and he's braced over the console with one arm, the other scrolling through readouts rapidly.

Harris is up out of his chair and staring around at people as if trying to verify they saw the same things he did. He blinks several times before stepping to the DC console and turning on the intercom. The DC Officer is too busy, apparently, trying to direct fire crews. Or at the least damage control teams. One by one the alarms are shut off. Harris is looking down when the intercom is finally able to be heard by the others.

"-ires on Decks Two and Three, Frames Nine through Twelve. We've got two hull breaches along the port side at our lateral braces." Harris looks ghostly at that part. "Captain-" There's shouting in the background. "Sir, we've lost Engine One. The reports we're getting don't make sense but we're venting fuel from the nacelle and we have zero other reports coming from the nacelle's structure. ..Reports are still coming in, but it ain't good, Captain."

"Master Chief, what's our fuel status?"

There's a long, long pause. "Twenty-eight percent, sir. ..And venting. We think we can have the vents shut off in ten minutes."

They left with a full tank.

Bennett tries to grab onto something to pull herself up and off the deck, but ends up with a handful of marine who's decided to use her as a landing pad. "No harm done, Sergeant," she notes quietly, with a touch of strain in her voice as she picks herself up. The reports coming in are not good, and a couple of bumps and bruises are the very least of her concerns. "How quickly is that fuel venting?" she enquires of Harris, or anyone really who can answer. "Even if we manage containment in ten minutes, I am concerned that does not leave us enough to complete the mission." Her pale eyes are locked on the Captain's; clearly she's considering something, but won't voice it without more information.

Pratt frowns as he catches some of those damage reports, attempting to help up whoever still needs it. With a hand still massaging the back of his head, his attention shifts to Bennett, then mutters under his breath, "Major. Maybe a good idea to check on the Raptors soon as we know the Captain doesn't need us. If the Erol's lost a drive engine…" He lets the rest of that go, the huge Tauron lifting both brows at her in curiosity.

Bennett nods to Pratt. "Indeed. Go." She's not going to wait for leave from the Captain, evidently.

Still moving around and helping the folks that need it, Angelis doesn't really pay much attention to the information being relayed about the status of the ship. Mostly because none of it really means anything to her, aside from it being bad. All those alarms and stuff don't go off for fun, but she's focusing on other things right at the minute.

Lleufer hears what the LT and back to the Major, "I can go with him. Might be wise if none of us go bolting around the ship alone in case he needs a hand." He's pulled himself up looks like a man who needs things to do. He hasn't even got an assigned watch station here, dangit.

Harris is looking down when Bennett asks the question. "Master Chief, how fast are we losing Tylium?" The answer comes a couple seconds later. ""We'll probably be down to twenty-six percent by the time we- yeah, looks like twenty-six, sir. We're working on it." Another few seconds pass. "Both reactors have scrammed. We're on back-up power. I think the main jump drive is toast, Captain. I need to get moving, sir. We've got wounded, too." Harris hears that and nods, "Understood, Master Chief. Report back to me in thirty minutes." He steps away from the console and looks to Miri, "Corpsman, we've got wounded aft. Get back there and start triage. I don't care what rank you are, take whatever you need."

Harris makes his way over to Astrometrics and talks to the Lieutenant there. They share some tense words and the Captain's shoulders sag. Ahead of them, the viewscreen is starting to level out and stop rotating. He rises and looks over to Bennett. "Captain, we just jumped thirty-thousand and two light years. We're off the mark by six." A feat of insanity. The odds against that kind of accuracy are beyond long. "Bad news is, we've got every operational antenna and dish on this ship pointed at the target star. There's nothing there, sir. Not a godsdamned thing. A couple of dead rocks. Sorry, Captain."

Bennett leaves the triaging of wounded and fighting of fires to those best suited, and focuses on one of the few things she actually has any jurisdiction over. And what comes out of Harris's mouth nearly makes her heart stop cold. Her eyes cut back to the nav console, and the crewman probably furiously trying to pick up a reading, any reading, then back to the Captain. She stares at him for a good twenty seconds before speaking calmly, softly, "Can you bring up nav charts for this area? We will need to find out if there is anything within the fuel range for Erol plus that of the raptors, resembling habitation. We can fan out on likely search vectors.."

Pratt murmurs to Bennet, "Yes sir." Lleu says he wants to come with, and the Tauron pilot waits for a moment for there to be agreement before he turns to head for the hatch and recount the steps down to what the research ship is laughably calling a hangar bay, glancing back at Lleu with a low mutter, "Well Sergeant, tell me you like playing cards. I got a feeling we got a long time to get used to playing em with each other, assuming the ship doesn't explode in the next 30 minutes…"

Bennett gives Lleufer a nod, but otherwise seems preoccupied with the situation at the helm.

Angelis is listening to the reports, but shows no outward reaction aside from a narrowing of her eyes as they mention their target being basically dead. She bites her lip, pausing in her selfappointed task of righting folks and whatever else got flung about, and basically doing her best to make the place less hazardous. She stares out at the alien stars and appears to be thinking hard, but doesn't say anything about what might be on her mind.

Miri turns toward Astrometrics, her face stony. She balls a fist, turning toward the wall and wanting to punch a bulkhead, but knowing she needs her hands and can't afford to injure them. She takes a deep, shuddering breath and thuds her forehead gently against the wall.

If Pratt will have him and nobody else is going to give him some other orders, Ynyr moves to follow the Lieutenant he doesn't know. But the raptors are important - they can still jump. Lleu only gets a few steps before he hears the bad news. He looks back to Bennett and the others and almost says something, but no. The officers are on it, and not giving up before even going for a looksee. So the Marine looks back to Pratt and still somewhat shaken over what they just went through with that jump, he laughs once, "I can play cards." A deep breath and he heads out after the other man to get going. "Lance!" Angelis isn't going to be much use on the bridge, so he points to Miri, "Go with her. Help the medic." And then Ynyr is gone. - That is, unless an officer has a better use for the other Marine.

-- 3 weeks later -——

The jump drive never got fixed on the Erol. The ship, in its current state, wouldn't even survive another jump without major overhauls. Its making speed through space but at its velocity it will take about 100,000 years to get back to the colonies. The Master Chief did a damned good job, but it just isn't enough. With dwindling resources, the crew has plenty of food but they will run out of fuel and life support before they run out of food and water. Its a daunting prospect. They have about three weeks of fuel left if the Raptors continue their frantic searching. Cutting it down to one Raptor, however, extends range. The Erol crew even managed to sneak some external fuel tanks on board that they installed on the Raptor, extending search grids and times. But the missions are long, stressful, and emotionally draining on the exploration crew. Both pilots eventually end up having to fly single missions because of fatigue. One ECO stays behind on the Erol and will go checking their flight path if they aren't home by a certain time.

Three frakking weeks. The Marines have packed into the gunship with the pilots and ECO and jumped off for a 12 hour recon, deciding to push past the safeties on their jump drive. They're dead if they don't find something soon, anyway. And with hitting one more system and finding nothing but an asteroid belt around a K-class star, the jump drive has finished spooling and the ECO calls it. "Captain, el-tee, we're spooled for jump one-five-eight. Ready on your mark." He sounds tired, but he brought a book - like most everyone else has started doing. Or movies. Anything to pass the time.

Pratt takes in a deep breath and lets it go, stretching his neck and straightening up when the ECO says the drives are spooled up. He keys the intercom mic and rumbles, "Roger, Sparks," then looks over to the other pilot seat and the Major behind the stick, "Your bird on your call, Major. Board is green and DRADIS is clear." Just like it's been for the last 157 jumps since they arrived out here…and its starting to show in the way he rattles that phrase off for the umpteenth time.

"I hope we find something really weird before we run out of air," Miri muses aloud. The medic had been unusually quiet over the past few weeks, but right now? She doesn't seem to be suffering from that problem. "Like an asteroid made entirely of waffles or some weird furry aliens. Empty space is bullshit." She cracks her neck and goes back to her book.

Lleufer is strapped in and like any Marine stuck in a Raptor, he dozes when he can. Thankfully the Sergeant doesn't snore. Or not much, usually. Somebody can elbow Ynyr in the arm when he's needed. He happens to be leaning against Miri so hopefully she doesn't mind too much.

Bennett is weary, as they all are, with the toll this weeks-long search has taken on her. Gone is the spit and polish of when she showed up on Erol's bridge, replaced with hair that hasn't been brushed in gods know how long, dark smudges under her eyes and a sort of grime that the occasional cold shower can't quite wash away. Twelve hours. She squeezes her eyes shut, then blinks them rapidly a couple of times to try to keep herself awake, then nods to her crew. "All right. Let's do this." Her gloved hand closes around the flight stick with a loose, familiar grip. "Mark."

Angelis is quiet too. But unlike everyone else, she doesn't have a book, or a movie, and she's not sleeping. In fact, she's pretty much kept to her usual four or five hours of actual sleep the past three weeks, despite the intensive and intensively boring recons. She has started bringing her sewing kit along with her. And she's currently working on taking in the waist of a pair of her combat pants.

Flash. System One-One-Eight-Alpha-Blah-Whothefrakcares. "Jump complete." The ECO is holding his book up halfway in front of him. He hasn't bothered with his helmet in two weeks. Feet kicked up on the food crate, he glances over and swipes away from DRADIS to start the charge on the jump drive over again. "DRADIS cl-" he starts. Then stops. The guy turns white as a ghost. "FRAK ME!" he belts and yanks out the cord linking his earpiece to the speakers, turning the speaker on so everyone can hear. The voices are clear as day. It isn't Colonial but it sure as shit is human-sounding. And it sounds a helluva lot like military traffic. He swipes back to DRADIS on his screen and begins looking around. "Cap, you want me to go active on DRADIS??" If there's anyone in the neighborhood, its going to turn the Raptor into a pretty clear beacon.

Miri's eyes go wide at the sound of human or human-like voices. She strains against her restraints, trying not to jostle Lleufer too much, her attention fixed on the ECO.

Pratt is already leaning back in his pilot chair, about to close his eyes after the jump as he trades off with Bennett. Her turn, she takes over until the drives are charged again and they go through this all over again. But then the ECO is swearing and there's odd sounds echoing in his headset and behind him from the ECO's speakers/ Well, that's different. He sits up and blinks and looks over at Bennett, one brow raised, "That's not Tauran or Standard and Im pretty sure that's not any other colony I've heard in my cargo jumping days."

Bennett's eyes snap open, focus sharpening as voices crackle over the wireless. Her hand leaves the flight stick for a moment to press her headset closer to her ear, to try to pick out a phrase, a word, anything that might give a clue as to origin. The ECO's question is met with a pensive silence for several seconds, and the voices. Voices of what sound like people fill the raptor's cabin. "Are you able to send a hail and keep us dark on DRADIS?" she wonders. Pratt's comment gets a shake of her head. "I cannot place it, either, Lieutenant. Please ensure weapons are hot and FTL is ready to go, in case we need to move quickly." Then, over her shoulder into the passenger compartment, "Any of you recognise the language?"

The sudden sound of foreign voices makes Tabi jerk in her seat, inadvertanly elbowing Lleufer in the process kind of hard, and her elbow is kind of sharp. Then promptly stabs herself with her needle and hisses quietly under her breath. "Well, that makes a change of pace," Angelis mumbles under her breath, eyes wide as she looks around to see everyone else' reactions. She shifts, quickly rolling up her sewing and stuffing it down into her assault pack, making sure it's tucked under all her combat bits and pieces. Once the pack is pushed back out the way of things, one hand lifts, tugging on the end of her ponytail.

Miri jostles him and he hears the ECO's exclamation but it's Angelis who elbows or kicks him so he's really wide awake. The Sergeant grabs his straps, expecting to be thrown around as if Lleufer had been dreaming about being in a Raptor under combat fire for a mission insertion. Or maybe that's what he woke up to for a second, interrupting his great sex on the beach dream. Either way, he's rattled for about a second to suck in a sharp breath, "What?!" Then he gets real quiet, listening to what's coming over the radio.

"Sir, I'm picking up unknown transponders on itinerate frequencies. They're squawking friendly pings to each other. …Multiple frequency bands are active, including encrypted!" Sparks has dropped his book to the floor and he's turned fully to face the ECO panel. He snorts a nervous laugh to Pratt's comment, "Bachs, if these are Colonial I'll eat my helmet." Anyone looking over his shoulder can see dozens of radio frequencies active, the pulses on it indicating traffic across them. "Yeah, its possible without turning on DRADIS. But if they have a sufficiently large ship they can probably triangulate within.." He leans forward. "We've just been swept by a high-power DRADIS set, probably military tracking." He looks around to the Marines, then forward. "Sirs, they've definitely seen us." The guy looks back down.

Sparks swallows hard. "Sirs, we're being locked up. There's about a dozen DRADIS sets currently sweeping for us. Three- four. Five have us. Radio traffic is spiking." There's suddenly a lot of voices on frequencies and some of it sounds pretty excited, like when a Colonial DRADIS operator picks up bandits nearby. "My guess is they are vectoring to intercept." He looks up on the panel and flips another screen. "That last jump drained our charge, sirs. We're ten minutes from minimum jump capability."

Pratt nods and murmurs to Bennett's request, "Roger that." Immediately he's leaning forward over the control panel, lighting up the secondary systems and the weapons controls, while he offers, "If we leave DRADIS off, we're gonna still show up as a moving dot, Major. I used that to hide in asteroid belts when the war broke out. Shut everything off and float like a rock. We got no rocks to hide with out here, Might as well turn it on so we can see what we got." A few seconds more and he stops what he's doing, staring at the DRADIS screen, "Uh, Major. I can arm the gunpods, but lemme offer a wild idea. If that screen is right, we're outnumbered to hell and back. Arming a weapon system is gonna send the wrong message. Confirm you want me to arm the gunpods?" His fingers are pausing on the panel, waiting for her to say yes before he hits the initiate button.

Miri grits her teeth to suppresses the urge to make a smartass response borne of terror. Probably something about how her wish came true. She looks to Tabi and Lleufer, her expressive face bearing the full force of her internal wtf.

Bennett nods slightly at the report from Sparks, and keeps her eyes on the windscreen, her hand on the flight stick. "There isn't much point in hiding now. Let's bring up DRADIS and see if we can get a clearer picture of what we are looking at." Then Pratt says pretty much the same thing, and she flickers a bit of a smirk his way. There's a pause for consideration of his question about the weapons, and she nods cautiously. "No, you are right. Stand down weapons. I do not think they will see a lone raptor as a threat, but you may have a point about.. messaging."

Angelis glances down the line at Miri, seeing the expression on the Medic's face. "It'll be fine." She says quietly, a certain amount of calm in her voice. It's her eyes that give her away, though. There's a fierce kind of excitement that's starting to grow in them, and in the slightly feral grin that starts tugging at her lips. Finally! Something's happening, for good or ill, it's better than nothing. Tabi shifts slightly in her seat, and while one hand keeps on tugging at her ponytail, the fingers of the other start to flex. One shoulder rolls and she tilts her head sharply, causing her neck to crack and pop as bones realign themselves. The news that they're blocked in and can't really go anywhere does nothing to quell her growing energy.

"Well," Lleu keeps his voice low where the Marines are in back, "Maybe we won't die of boredom." A hand lifts to rub sleepy grit out of his eyes and he straightens up in his seat. Ynyr unfastens his cantine and gets a small sip of water as he listens to the flight crew. Then he grimaces at something said up there but relaxes as the Major nixes the arming up. He offers his canteen to Miri, "Everything's OK, so far. Stay relaxed." A nod to what Angelis says, then he's quiet to listen more, now quite interested.

"Copy, Major. Lighting off DRADIS." Sparks goes back to the main DRADIS screen and inhales, holding his breath. He adjusts the antennas, then flicks a rocker switch. 'DRS ACT' appears on the screens up from, indicating the radar system is on. Seconds pass and those inthe back can see it all unfold in real time. "Sirs. We're being intercepted. Time to intercept, forty-five seconds." That voice is flat. The people in the back can see the dozens of distant contacts and the two speeding towards them on the screen. "Major, flip us around 180 degrees along the vertical axis. You aren't going to believe this shit." He lifts his eyes from the screen and moves to look out the front windscreen.

Assuming the Raptor comes around, it passes by the local star and then there's a lush green planet with two moons and a couple large oceans. It looks a lot like Caprica, actually. But there's things moving. Large things. There's an orbital platform that looks to be easily five times the size of what the Scorpian Shipyards used to be. There are ships out there, big ones, but too distant to make out any detail on. At first its just one or two… as the eyes settle and look for a moment, they realize… those are ships. Dozens of them.

Two dots are getting larger, though. Very close together. They suddenly split off and one dodges to each side of the Raptor. They're moving fast. There's just a moment to catch them, but there's no missing the two large caliber guns on either underside of the nose and the two large miniguns on each wing. Or the large ball turret cannons on the dorsal. …And those noses looked a lot like a Viper. But so far nobody is shooting.

"If the aliens are furry, I'm going to shit myself," Miri murmurs, taking the water with a grateful nod, eyes fixed on the scene unfolding.

Bennett does indeed bring the raptor around. A little tap to the starboard thruster, and a lean toward port, and the inelegant bus turns like a horse on a dime. Its powered-down weapons pods still look plenty menacing - it could blow the pair of fleet-footed craft to smithereens, in the impossible chance it could get a lock on them. "Any identification on those friendlies?" she asks the ECO. To Pratt, "Hail them, please. Do not mention where we came from, just yet."

-CAN- all of the Marines fit in the cockpit to shove their faces up against the glass like puppies? Can we? CAN WE? No. But Lleufer Ynyr dares to unstrap and moves forward a bit to have a better look at what Sparks points out to the officers. Ynyr's eyes get a little bigger he presses to the side so the other, Angelis and Miri, can come up behind the flight crew's seats to try and see too. "Holy …" Isn't that world a -beautiful- sight? Don't crowd the folks up front who are working.

It really takes zero prompting for Tabi to unbuckle herself and nip upfront to peer over the pilot's seats. Lucky she's pretty small compared to the hulking MP, so she fits in quite neatly. Sucking in a sharp breath at the sight of the planet, she even forgets for a second about the potentially maybe or maybe not hostile bees nipping about the sides of the Raptor. Because of course, those capture her attention next and she blinks a couple times. "Could we get a few of those?" Pause. "The guns I mean?" The question pops out of her mouth quite inadvertantly, and following that, she backs away, letting the Medic in, should she wish to get a glimpse of the pretty planet.

Pratt just stares at DRADIS, watching the dots get closer, but when Bennett wheels the bus around, he looks up again, watching the approaching shapes. He manages a soft, "Frak me I hope these are friendlies. Otherwise at least we're gonna go fast." He nods slowly to himself when Bennett requests contact, his eyes tearing away to look down at his panel, then calls back to the ECO, "Make sure we're on the same frequency that broadcast was on…" He gives it another second before shaking his head and muttering, "Dont shoot. Take me to your leader." Then keys the mic and clears his throat, "This is Edison Pratt of the CDF. We see you and hope you understand us, and ask for your help." He shoots a faint look at Bennett and murmurs, "We come in peace, please dont shoot us sounded a little odd."

"Major, I'm tracking them on PIRCS and passive TRAFICS. I haven't stopped recording. Heat signatures aren't like anything we have, sir. Powerplants aren't Colonial. …Looks like two forward cannons about Viper size. Two miniguns about Predator size. And I'm seeing four smaller MG barrels on that ball turret on the back. …Gods, these dudes ain't frakkin' around." He swallows. "Ball turrets are tracking us. …Noses coming back around. They have locks. …Pratt, you're on their freeq- now." Pratt is just starting to speak when he says more quietly, "Sir, they're coming abreast, one on each side." Sparks doesn't take his eyes off the video on his screen or that DRADIS picture.

Up front, the words from Pratt go unanswered but they can look outside and see the two ships coming up. This is what the military calls 'crowding,' testing the intruder to see how they react. Their wingtips are maybe six or eight feet from the Raptor's own. "Sirs, they've changed frequencies. They're talking rapid fire to someone who sounds important. I don't know if they can still hear us. They might be requesting instructions." But the two craft are in the light of the star and they can look right into the opposing cockpits. The helmets, the flightsuits, even the patches on their shoulders. Ranks on the epaulets.

They're human or close enough to damned closely resemble human.

The one on the right holds up some kind of device and aims it at the Raptor's cockpit. A camera. "Major, they're transmitting data from the one to starboard." To the right. "I think its video of us." A moment passes. "Sir, the honcho is back talking to them." And everyone can look out the left side into the cockpit and hear the pilot responding with his mouth moving. The guy looks to be in complete shock. Not the sort of reaction you would see on someone who is about to blow your ship to pieces.

"Hold it steady, Sparks," Saint Clair instructs calmly. Her head pivots slightly when one of the viper-like craft swings abreast of them to record the video, and for just a moment, eye contact is made. "They are not going to shoot." She seems certain of that. "Bacchus, hail them again. Switch frequencies. Can we transmit on the encrypted band?"

Finally unstrapping herself, Miri takes a drink and gives Pratt a thumbs-up on his first contact spiel. She squeezes in with Tabi and Lleu, wrapping her arms around both of them. They're filming us? She untwines her left arm from Tabi's shoulders and waves.

Lleufer moves on back as the unknown ships are coming closer. "Get back. They don't need to see all of us through the cockpit glass at once." He motions his fellow Marines to get back to their seats. He for one straps back in, but his face is turned towards the front, listening intently and trying to see what he can. Moving back may have been too late if they have a camera pointed at them - who knows how far back into the Raptor they can view. Ynyr sits still and waits.

Pratt mmhmms slowly at Bennett's instructions, breathing slowly, "Yes sir." His eyes are plastered to the aircraft outside the canopy as he keys the mic again, "To unidentified aircraft, this is Edison Pratt. Hi!" He raises a left hand, fingers splayed, and waves at the pilot that's just staring at them wide-eyed, then continues, "If you can read me at all, we came looking for help. Do you read us?" Clicking the mic off, he murmurs, "We could transmit on the frequency they are sending encrypted on, but unless we knew HOW they were encrypting, we'd just be broadcasting noise, and I think right now, disrupting their communication is not something we'd want to do."

Angelis gives the Medic a quick squeeze in response to the arm going around her, but her gaze largely remains focused on the strange pilots and their strange craft. Catching Miri's wave out the corner of her eye, and obviously liking the idea, Tabi quickly joins Miri in giving the foreign pilots a wave and a surprisingly cheerful grin. Then she's following Lleu's orders, if somewhat reluctantly, making her way back to her seat and flopping down with a short sigh, slouching there a moment before straightening and strapping herself back in.

Miri gets a friendly pat from Lleu. "Damned exciting." He keeps his voice low, trying not to bother the officers, "Probably didn't hurt for them to see you two but one look at my ugly mug and they'll probably shoot us." He's wide awake now. Ynyr digs out a granola bar with flecks of chocolate in it and starts to eat it. "Too bad I didn't bring my toothbrush. We probably aren't getting back to the Erol any time soon." He doesn't sound sad about that though.

When Miri and Angelis wave the pilot on the left actually looks like he laughs and waves back, grinning at the two women. Common greeting? Attractive women? Then the pilot on the left hears Pratt again and see's the wave. His is slower and more dumbfounded. He then looks down into his cockpit and is messing with something and then looks back towards the Raptor. He makes a talking gesture with his gloved hand and shakes his head. Can't talk? ..Maybe he doesn't understand. He then lifts a single finger… then points at them. Just as he does, their radios come alive again.

What comes through the speakers sounds like a pre-recorded message. It cycles through one language different from the one they had been hearing. Then another female speaker in a different one. A different male in a third language. Then, a female in heavily accented Colonial, "If you can understand this, please follow our pilot. Turn off radar and safety your weapons. We wish to speak to you and welcome you to the Rally Point." It continues again in a fifth language and then shuts off. The pilot on the left shuts off the recording and watches them intently with his hand up. Thumbs up. Then thumbs down. He seems to be asking if they understood one of those languages.

"Holy shit," Miri whispers, slinking back to her seat and strapping herself in. She hands Lleufer's water back to him and nervously fiddles with her hair. Her hair. She unstraps herself and grabs her helmet, securing it before buckling back in.

Angelis gives Lleu a confused look, "You didn't pack your toothbrush?" She sighs heavily and shakes her head, muttering something about 'men' under her breath. Evidently she packed hers. Just in case. Falling quiet again, Tabi listens to the messages cycling through the various languages, blinking a bit at the heavily accented Colonial when it comes through. "Finally…" She breathes softly, then looks over at Miri, grinning as she watches the Medic fixing her hair, a totally reasonable action in the Lance's opinion.

Bennett holds up a finger to her erstwhile passengers, indicating for them to be quiet for a moment while she listens to the recording play. She's starting to lose hope that they have any knowledge of Colonial language when the fourth message plays. And she releases a slow breath she didn't know she'd been holding. Looking back to the unknown pilot, she gives him a thumbs up and a flicker of a smile. "We will comply with their requests." So long as they remain reasonable, her tone seems to imply. "Safety your weapons. I am going to bring us in." There's a shudder from the bus as she feels a little of that precious tylium to the thrusters, preparing to follow the 'friendlies'.

Pratt lets out a breath he didn't even know he was holding when he hears the message, murmuring, "I am buying every last one of you in this bus a drink." Seeing the pilot's hand signs, Pratt doesn't even wait for Bennett to confirm, he signals with thumbs up with both hands, adding, "I'll even buy you a drink too, Mister I Have No Frakking Idea Who You Are." Only then does he finally look at Bennett and faintly smile, "Your aircraft, Major," and sinks back into his co-pilot chair, looking back down at the instruments to monitor them for her.

Lleufer almost JUMPS out of his seat when he hears the recording in accented Colonial, "YES!" Yes, that makes him pretty happy, raising a fist. But he's strapped into his seat and the attempt to stand up is aborted at once. A big grin for the others in the back of the bus with him, "Then maybe I can borrow your toothbrush before we disembark." Lleu finishes the granole bar and accepting his canteen back, a sip of it before he secures it. They all have something to look foward to.

Thumbs up. Three of them from the Raptor. The fighter pilot in the heavily armed fighter seems to sigh in relief, too. He shows two thumbs up back to them. There's a couple of hand signals. The guy aims a pair of fingers towards the massive orbital station. Then he actually doesn't job of getting across that as they approach the station they need to slow way down. He waits for a confirmation thumbs up from the Raptor crew… and then he thumps his chest twice. Just like al Yamoha and the rest of the Piraeans. He settles back in the ejection seat and pushes the throttles up, slowly accelerating ahead. The one on the right slips behind, Sparks reporting that the one behind is keeping them locked up with his guns. No surprise, that. Nobody invited the Raptor to dinner.

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