MD #206: Lost in Translation
Lost in Translation
Summary: Lieutenant Lukes reports after an eventful recon mission. Opportunities present themselves.
Date: 30/10/2017 (OOC Date)
Related Logs: None.
Bennett Lukes Niko 
CAG's Office
It's like a regular office, only smaller.
Thursday May 17 2049 (MD #206)

The recons have been ranging further and further out, which means mission times aren't just hovering around a few hours. They're going out for eight hours at a time in order to range out. With the fleet radio silent, big jump flashes draw attention so the Raptors are taking up the slack. Lukes and an Ensign were sent off to recon a sector with an expected turnaround of 7.5 hours. They weren't supposed to be back until around 0430.

Just after 0100, both the CAG and Major Ynyr were woken. Lukes had requested priority handling on final, which was basically the code for 'We found something that might be worth waking someone up for.' The on-duty Air Boss reports the Raptor is undamaged while the crew is on final approach. Thankfully there's enough time for people to get dressed and sorted (and potentially coffee) before Lukes is able to get up to the CAG's office. When she does show up, she's still in all of her flight and survival gear, except her helmet. She's even still wearing the gloves, sort of. They are being taken off just after she knocks on the CAG's hatch. Overall? Helmet hair isn't surprising. She doesn't look like she's been through combat, but Shelby is serious which indicates that something either went horribly wrong that she cannot joke about or that this might actually be serious business. "Sirs."

Niko's go-to uniform is his flight suit. Like most pilots it's already hanging ready by his rack. So he can dress quickly, slap on an Orion ballcap, and call it regulation. Or close enough for the CAG. Skipping coffee, Niko shows up only just before Lukes, with only enough time to take a seat on the edge of his desk and yawn a few times. "What's the word, Suds?"

Bennett is not the most punctual officer in the wing, but being informed of a priority handling request seems to be sufficient motivation. She, of course, is on graveyard duty so waking her up wasn't actually necessary - she's due to be sitting in a cockpit in about thirty minutes. As such, she's the first one here, and already has her flight suit on and a mug of fragrant black tea in hand. Quiet, she lets the CAG ask the questions for now, and merely listens.

Lukes steps in and closes the hatch behind her. "Ah, we jumped out to recon sector Golf Five-One. Found a K-class star and a garden world. All in all, good news. Sort of." The gloves are stuffed into her vest and she goes to a pretty casual parade rest. "We picked it at the edge of the system. PIRCS picked up the oxygen atmosphere through the light refra- whatever. Not important. But there was some weird EM signatures so we jumped in behind one of the moons and peaked our nose over the horizon of the moon to take a look." She furrows her brow. "Sir, there are a lot of geothermal powerplants on that planet and most of them seem to be feeding a single facility about the size of a medium sized city. I didn't want to get close enough to get good photos. So we just recorded what we could for about half an hour. Got some good video of the planet. It's about the same size as Caprica, just a shade under. However." She clears her throat. "Two items: The radio signals that we got in the clear? They sounded like those guys who are intent on wiping us out." She'll wait before saying what the second item was.

Bennett has been a soldier in the military long enough now that very little fazes her. The mention of who's behind the radio signals thusly earns a quirk of one brow, but little else. There's a mental note too for the city-sized facility, but she doesn't address that yet. "Go on," she murmurs to the last.

"Nyx," Niko greets Bennett when he sees her in the office, stifling yet another yawn. There's a moment where the CAG is about to say something more, but then Lukes arrives and begins to explain what's going on. Down to business, and no comment when Lukes closes the hatch. Niko folds his arms as he listens, still perched on the edge of the desk. He nods along to the story, with no complaints when the ECO skips some of the technical nitty-gritty. "Good." The Colonel's expression is hard. "We owe those fraks some payback." He glances at Bennett and then back to Lukes as the Major prompts her ECO to continue.

"Agreed, sir. But there's a complicating factor." Lukes glances to Bennett, then to Niko. I was zoomed in on the planet and something fuzzy crossed my screen. I thought it was a satellite so I zoomed out to focus on it. It was definitely not a satellite. I've got video of it but this looked like some kind of stealth ship in very, very high orbit. Painted completely black and back-lit by the planet, we could see it clearly. It was crossing the planet when it suddenly lit up its engines. Some bandits jumped it out of nowhere and blew it apart." She wets her lips. "We sat there like a lump of coal, waiting for the fighters to leave. They were on their way back off to somewhere else when we got hit with wide-beam microwave." She tumbles her hands a little, "In non-ECO speak, that means that the signal we got was unfocused at our range. We were too far out to get most of it. I was able to get some of it, though." Lukes tilts her head nervously. "Sir, sirs, uh, our microwave gear is Arpay. Their encryption algorithms within microwave are really, really, really good, so we never changed them. Our microwave system deciphered." She seems a little nervous. "Its coming from a microwave satcom set thats either designed by the Arpay for special forces, or is very close and for a similar purpose. But the bits of language I was able to pick up weren't Arpay. I've never heard anything like it before."

Niko frowns at the second bit of the story. Complicating factor is an understatement. "Frak." The CAG chews on that for a second before asking, "So this transmission — sounds like it came from the planet? Could be Diplomatic Corps." The bit about the language is a problem for that theory, though. "Can you play back the audio?" he asks Lukes. And then to Bennett he adds, "How's your Arpay?"

"Decent enough," Bennett asides to the CAG, with a brief slant of amber eyes toward the viper stick, then back to Lukes. "I agree, I would like to hear the recording. And did you happen to get any pictures at all of this.. stealth ship? Any data on its armaments, if any?" As for the decryption, "Is it possible that our systems are not as good as we had thought? If I am not mistaken, they use asymmetric AES for decryption, correct? I believe it operates on block instead of stream ciphers.." She trails off when she realises she's rambling. "But I could be incorrect," she adds with a sheepish smile, and sips her tea. "Regardless, I would like to hear the recording, if you have it."

"It came from the planet, sir." Lukes seems sure about that. "I tracked the signal shift and sourced it. The source is coming from a mountain range east that borders the big facility. I also did some homework on my way home." She sits in the chair suddenly and reaches into her helmet bag, removing the datapad. Its booted while she removes a Wing datastick. That is plugged in and requires a whole new set of biometrics. Its locked to her as ECO, as well as the CAG and Squad Commander. The whole thing takes about a minute to get up and she taps a few things and then turns to show the CAG and SL what she worked out. "This circular line moving across the planet is the trajectory of the stealth ship prior to it starting its engines and getting splashed." The line becomes dotted as it crosses the horizon. Just as it passes over the mountains east of the city, a red dot appears. "The red dot was the moment we picked up the microwave signal. We picked up something intended for that ship, I think. Like, I'm not positive but.." Weirder things have happened. Much more weird. "As for the signal we picked up? Here's the recording of the language the Haters are speaking, and how they sound speaking Arpay." She plays an example of the radio signals from the planet, which sounds like gibberish. Then there's the example of them demanding surrender of the Orion in badly spoken Arpay. "Now, here's the the microwave signal we picked up." A finger taps the tablet and she taps her ear, indicating to listen closely. At first it sounds like a lot of static, but towards the end there is definitely spoken word there. Pausing a moment, she then plays it back and it sounds more cleaned up, but only just. The voice speaking does not sound like some brash pirate making ridiculous demands, he sounds like professional military. The words are clipped, precise, and seems to be attempting to make contact with someone. It sounds nothing like Arpay or the language spoken by the 'Haters'. It plays a third time just to be sure. Its 48 seconds each time. After the third? "I have video and captures of the silhouette of the stealth ship, yessir. No other info."

There's a nod for Lukes' certainty about the signal source, and then Niko waits patiently for the ECO to get her equipment set up to play back the recordings. The CAG leans in to peer at the display, nodding along with the narrative as it plays back. "Seems likely," he agrees with her assessment of the signal source. But no matter how hard Niko listens to the transmission, he can't make anything out. "Yeah, that isn't Arpay. But whoever it is is down on that planet and doesn't seem to be friendly with those frakkers that attacked us." He thinks that over, then shakes his head. "Kick that up to Intel. Even if we wanted to go in there and pick those people up, we can't do it until we can talk to them." Niko looks over to Bennett here. It's her people that would have to go down there to pick up whoever it is. "What do you think, Nyx?"

Bennett furrows her brows slightly at the clipped voice in the unfamiliar language. A glance at Niko, and a shake of her head. She doesn't understand what the man in the recording is saying. "I think we should proceed with caution," she offers thoughtfully. "We have too many unanswered questions at the moment. I am not keen on risking crew for a complete unknown. What do you think about trying to send a message, to start?"

Lukes glances to Niko, then Bennett, then Niko. "You want me to kick this up to Intel?" Me? Are you sure? Shelby is a good ECO but not exactly the greatest officer. In some ways. But she does have all the info. She listens to the rest, though, and sorta slides in a comment, "If their only ride off a planet just got blown up, nobody may know they are trapped there. …There's nothing else on this planet that we could see, either. Just powerplants and this ginormous.. place. Thing. Its putting off a ton of heat. Sirs."

Niko nods when Bennett shakes her head. He's got nothing as well. "Agreed," he says to Raptor SL. "We don't know squat." As for who gives the data to Intel, the CAG gives a small shrug. "It's Nyx's call," Lukes gets an amused look, "but you were on the mission. They're going to want to debrief you anyway." In terms of the overall situation, he's ready to make the best of it. "We've got a target that looks to be worth hitting, as soon as we're in some condition to hit back. If we can make friends with some of the assholes' enemies at the same time, that's a bonus."

"Absolutely," Bennett agrees, sudden smile banishing the circumspect look that had clouded her features. "Mm, the other thing I would like to do is to jump in another raptor to get a better look at that facility. I imagine it will not be a mission for the faint of heart, but we need better intel on it than 'putting off a ton of heat'."

Crud. Lukes might as well mutter to herself. But she does nod. "Yessir. I'll go see who wants to get woken up." Shelby looks back to Bennett but doesn't seem about to volunteer. "I've got rotational information and all that. If you give me, like, two hours or so I can probably nerd out exactly what times the ship was supposed to pass over that microwave signal again, sir."

There's a thoughtful frown for the idea of another recon. "We don't want to tip them off," he says to Bennett, "but if you're confident your people can do it without being spotted Nyx, work up a mission. See what we can get about defenses too, if we're going to risk going back." And when the squadron commander agrees to sending Lukes to talk to Intel, things are tied up rather neatly — for the CAG at least. "Look at it this way, Suds. You get to bring them good news and a puzzle to solve. They'll love it."

"I will be confident once the mission is completed, and my aircrew are home safe," Bennett opines with a wry smile, and downs the last of her tea. "But I will take a look at Shelby's report, and see what can be done." She reaches across to squeeze Lukes's shoulder warmly. "Good work, Lieutenant. If you will both excuse me, I have a raptor waiting for me, that probably is not going to fly itself."

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