AWD #156: No Win Scenarios
No Win Scenarios
Summary: The new DCAG, Major Franklin, puts Dolly through his paces. Things blow up real good, young lieutenants among them.
Date: 11/06/2013 (OOC Date)
Related Logs: None directly.
Atalanta Phin 
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 #156

It seems as though punctuality is something which has been ingrained in Atalanta after a dozen years of service in the fleet. At the appointed hour, she's waiting patiently for Phin in the sims, a clipboard tucked carefully under one arm and a pen in hand. Apparently, she will be taking notes on the course of events. Duty blues have been replaced by her actual flight suit. Realism, after all, must be maintained.

Phin shows a good five minutes early, also seeming supportive of this punctuality thing. Or, at least, aware it's unwise to be late for a meeting with your new boss. He's in his full flight suit as well, complete with helmet tucked under one arm. His non-saluting arm, since he comes to attention and gives her one of those 'could set your protractor by it' salutes ingrained in an Academy puke. He's young enough that he might still practice it in the mirror. "Major, sir! Lieutenant McBride reporting." He'll stay standing like that until he's released.

Each and every salute an officer receives must be returned — a fact all too many of them forget. Atalanta is not one of them. She offers a salute which mirrors his own — sharp, angular, perfect to the point that it belongs on a parade ground, not an active battlestar. "Lieutenant McBride. Thank you for your diligence in scheduling. We'll be flying what ought to be a brief mission escorting a civilian liner, during which I will be serving as your wingman." Not the other way around. "Do you have any questions before we begin?"

"My wingman, sir?" Is Phin's question, after he's dropped out of attention and put his arm back at his side. "You want me to fly lead position for this, then?" He sounds a little surprised, but he manages not to seem too nervous about the prospect. Seemingly.

"That's correct, Lieutenant. This is your show, and I'm along for the ride. As far as we're concerned for the course of this evening, you are leading a group of four Vipers on an escort run and this is your show. The instructions which you've been given are to protect the passengers aboard the civilian liner at all costs as we lift them off of Picon." Both of her brows, which are two or three shades darker than her hair, climb slowly upwards. "If you like, I can provide you with a suitably motivating rumor as to why four pilots have been assigned to circle a single small transport ship."

Phin nods. "Sounds good, sir. I just usually fly wing." Of course, judging by the flight roster reports he's usually paired with Major Holtz, and he's the perma-junior of that match-up. He crooks a slight - very slight, like he's unsure if smiling will be judged positively or negatively - grin at her last, as he heads for his designated sim pod. "Like, say the President of the Colonies is secretly aboard and we've got to escort him through a hot-zone? Or something like that. I'm not picky."

"Something along those lines. As I understand it, the President of the Colonies is a traitor who is cooperating with the Cylons in the oppression of his own people." She says as she slips into one of the Vipers — the one where she left her helmet. "Personally, I would have gone with "it's rumored there's a scientific team aboard that's uncovered a way to block the Cylons from downloading", and they and their respective equipment need to be escorted through a hot zone, myself." For a few seconds, a flicker of amusement comes over her face in the form of a quicksilver smile. "But I always was an optimist."

"So I've heard, sir," Phin says somberly, as to the current status of the leader of the formerly free worlds. It's a fact that clearly troubles him, though not one he wants to jaw on just now. "I was thinking more some newly-elected, non-enemy-collaborator version. But science team with the possible key to turning the tide of the war works, too." Helmet on. He checks the neck straps before shutting the pod hatch. Flicking the little in-sim wireless on. "Testing, testing. You hear me OK, sir?"

Atalanta pulls her helmet on, locking the seal-collar into place. "Loud and clear, Dolly," she replies as she settles into her seat and adjusts the settings on a few of her instruments. The LCD screen flicks to life, displaying the pre-programmed mission as she described it — an expanse of black space in front of them, flecked with the pinpoints of light that represent distant stars. In the edge of their view is the worn white panelling of a passenger liner; the Raptor and their twin wing of Vipers are nothing more than blips on the screen at the moment.

Phin turns the mic off to clear his throat, sitting up straighter in his sim pod. Like posture matters. Maybe she can judge him on it from afar. He doesn't know. Once the screen of the program has popped into place, he presses the wireless back to audible. "Flight, this is Dolly. Take up escort pattern flanking our liner. Teatime, with me, take the front position with me, just off the bow. Alpha, Beta…" Hey, he has to name his imaginary team something. "Rear guard. Match our positions on stern. Raptor, fly wherever suits your DRADIS signal best."

"Copy that," Atalanta replies. She flies smoothly, her Viper pulling past the liner at a deliberate clip, falling into place at Phin's tail. The accompanying Vipers fall into place in the rear of the convoy which they've built. "All clear on the DRADIS," comes an almost mechanical voice, one that may as well be Betty, from the supposed Raptor crew. They've taken up position on the liner's starboard side. There's no need for them to say it; even the naked eye can confirm the cold emptiness of space.

<FS3> Phin rolls Piloting: Good Success.

<FS3> Atalanta rolls Piloting: Good Success.

Phin zooms into position smooth enough, checking his instruments to confirm Atalanta's position as he powers forth along with the virtual liner. He doesn't indulge in anything fancy, but he seems to have a good feel for flying. "Copy that, Betty. Keep up regular DRADIS checks. Maybe this'll be a quiet run after all." He says it with just a touch of wryness. Tempting simulated fate.

Of course it won't be. If it were, why in the world would she have him here? He's clearly capable of piloting a Viper without smashing into anything. He wouldn't be in the Wing, otherwise. It isn't long before they appear — that tell-tale flash in the distance of ships coming in, followed by an immediate cry of "Incoming bogeys! Three o'clock low!". Of course. Of course. No count, yet. They're still nothing more than a solidified clump of blips on their screens.

Hey, maybe this was all a mind game. He doesn't know. But there it is. Phin at least doesn't sound surprised when he intones over the mic, "Flight, Dolly. We've got incoming. Weapons hot, prepare to engage. Don't let them get a clear shot at the liner. This thing's only packing civilian hull armoring." He moves direct to engage the Raiders, taking up an evasive pattern. He almost seems to encourage them to chase him.

There's no question about it; they're coming at them straight on. The cluster of blips on DRADIS soon spreads out. Four — no, six Raiders have burst into their airspace and are coming at them fangs out. They aren't simply running recon. There's already too many of them for that. "Six bandits on screen. Repeat, six bandits, incoming. Twenty clicks and closing fast!"

"Copy that." Phin grimaces some at the numbers. There's more Cylons than Colonials. But it wouldn't be a test if it were easy. "Teatime, with me. Focus fire on bandit at carom zero-one-nine-five-golf." He zips to engage that target, as he says that. "Betty, alert the liner captain, if he can't see them all already. Tell him not to panic. We've got him covered." He hopes.

"I've got your six, boss," Teatime confirms. (Yes, really. The DCAG just said that.) Atalanta punches it, trailing after Phin at lightning speed. The Raiders aren't breaking off. They're spreading out, intent on swarming the liner and it's escort. "We've got AAMs inbound!," shouts the 'Raptor crew'.

<COMBAT> Raider2 attacks Atalanta with KEW and MISSES!
<COMBAT> Raider attacks Phin with KEW but MISSES!
<COMBAT> Raider3 attacks Phin with KEW and MISSES!
<COMBAT> Phin attacks Raider with KEW and MISSES!
<COMBAT> Atalanta attacks Raider2 with KEW - Moderate wound to Right Wing.
<COMBAT> Atalanta has started a new turn. Pose and choose your action.

Phin can't help but chuckle and being called 'Boss' by the DCAG. At least he does it off-mic. He's all of concentration on handling now, since he's got a pair of Raiders on his tail. His shot misses by a wide margin, but he's dodging spritely enough that his cannons probably can't get a proper lock. It leaves him unscathed, at least. Boy does know his evasives, if nothing else. Word from the Raptor prompts more wincing. "Copy that. Flight, Dolly. Pick them off and pick them off hard. Teatime, I am with you. Let's put him away."

There's the tell-tale glow that lights up the black — someone in the flight's been struck. Their DRADIS screens begin to flicker. Was it the Raptor? Was it the Raptor that was hit?

<COMBAT> Raider3 attacks Phin with KEW - ARMOR on Nose stops the attack!
<COMBAT> Raider2 attacks Atalanta with KEW but MISSES!
<COMBAT> Raider attacks Phin with KEW and MISSES!
<COMBAT> Phin attacks Raider3 with KEW and MISSES!
<COMBAT> Atalanta attacks Raider3 with KEW but MISSES!
<COMBAT> Atalanta has started a new turn. Pose and choose your action.

"Alpha, Judy, Judy. I'm going to guns," comes the prerecorded voice. With the Raiders missing their shots by a mile, they've closed in close enough that even with their screens flickering, they've got a clear shot. Just then, their tracking systems flash, then come back to life. "Systems stable; we've got ECM cooking. Repeat, we've got ECM cooking."

Phin keeps dodging. He's maintaining a clean Viper. Even if it's not doing so much good on him actually hitting anything. His eyes go down to his instruments as the Raptor blinks out, then in again. "Copy that, Raptor. Jamming would be good. I cannot say I would mind jamming. How's our liner doing?" He tries to veer around so he's got a somewhat better line on their chosen Raider.

<COMBAT> Raider3 attacks Phin with KEW but MISSES!
<COMBAT> Raider2 attacks Atalanta with KEW but MISSES!
<COMBAT> Raider attacks Atalanta with KEW but MISSES!
<COMBAT> Phin attacks Raider3 with KEW but MISSES!
<COMBAT> Atalanta attacks Raider3 with KEW and MISSES!
<COMBAT> Atalanta has started a new turn. Pose and choose your action.

"Shit!!," is shouted out over the radio. Another glow — a bright, angry spray of yellow and red. "Alpha just bought the farm!" Two of the Raiders which had been targetting the rear escort break off, making a straight shot for the liner. The third simply blinks out. Gone, right off the DRADIS.

"Dolly, captain confirms he's prepping to jump. FTL's cold, they're spinning it up now."

Teatime's voice breaks out onto the wireless. "Break right! Break right! My DWR is screaming, Dolly!"

"Frak…" It's on-mic, so Phin doesn't bother to try and mute his wireless after that. He does at least attempt something more coherent than profanity, though. "Raptor, Dolly. Copy. Signal when the liner's got the bay doors open. We might need to return to base out of here fast." Not like he's got a jump engine, so he'll need a ride. "Copy, Teatime. Breaking. They're swarming on you. You've got two tails. Keep it evasive. I've got this." Probably. He's going to give it a try, at least.

"Check that," Teatime replies. Some wingman. She falls off of Phin's tail, then promptly slams on her breaks, hoping they'll overshoot her and land in her sights.

<COMBAT> Raider3 attacks Phin with KEW and MISSES!
<COMBAT> Raider2 attacks Atalanta with KEW but MISSES!
<COMBAT> Raider attacks Atalanta with KEW - Moderate wound to Tail (Reduced by Armor).
<COMBAT> Phin attacks Raider2 with KEW but MISSES!
<COMBAT> Atalanta attacks Raider3 with KEW - Serious wound to Left Wing.
<COMBAT> Atalanta has started a new turn. Pose and choose your action.

<COMBAT> Raider-9711u has been KO'd!
<COMBAT> Raider3 has been KO'd!

"Where did he go? Where the hell did he go? Raptor 267, do you have him on screen?" It must be the missing Raider. Beta is not dealing with the loss of his wingman or his target very well, a fact which is made clear as a teeny-tiny blip appears, moving slowly towards the mass on their radar that represents the liner.

"What the frak?" That, at least, is muttered off wireless. Phin frowns at his instruments, like that will suddenly bring the blipped Raider - or destroyed simulated Viper - back into focus. It doesn't, and he just gets more to frown at, at the blip reading toward the liner. "Beta, Dolly. Break off a bit. Form up with Teatime and me. That is an order." His own flight path veers a little back toward the liner, to monitor…whatever that blip is doing. While he still tries to keep his aim on the Raiders. Such as his aim is. There is a lot going on right now, and he's still not hitting for shit. His wingman is doing better, fortunately. "Splash one, Teatime. Nice shot. Thanks. You OK?"

"We've got an IR missile on DRADIS. Sparrow dropped."

Beta's voice is shaking. "Copy that, Dolly. Heading to you now."

"My tail's smoking, boss!," Teatime calls out, a fact which is evidenced by the way she's struggling to right her bird, which is wagging like a happy dog. "And I've got…", she starts, before cutting out. There's another flash of inbound ships, just barely visible in the distance. That must be where the Raider went — to get his friends. "And I've got bogeys almost at BVR!"

And they are not getting anymore Vipers anytime soon. Now that Atalanta's dealt with the Raider who was dogging him, Phin's flying gets more aggressive. "Raptor, Dolly. We got an ETA on the liner's time to jump? We're going to need to book it. Tell them we'll hold the Raiders off long as we can."

<COMBAT> Raider4 has joined the combat as a Pilot in Raider-8091Q on team 2. (Atalanta)
<COMBAT> Raider5 has joined the combat as a Pilot in Raider-6700Y on team 2. (Atalanta)
<COMBAT> Raider6 has joined the combat as a Pilot in Raider-9570F on team 2. (Atalanta)
<COMBAT> Raider7 has joined the combat as a Pilot in Raider-6414M on team 2. (Atalanta)

<COMBAT> Raider2 attacks Phin with KEW - Serious wound to Body (Reduced by Armor).
<COMBAT> Raider7 attacks Atalanta with KEW - ARMOR on Body stops the attack!
<COMBAT> Raider4 attacks Atalanta with KEW - Serious wound to Body (Reduced by Armor).
<COMBAT> Raider5 attacks Phin with KEW - Moderate wound to Body (Reduced by Armor).
<COMBAT> Raider attacks Atalanta with KEW and MISSES!
<COMBAT> Raider6 attacks Phin with KEW - Serious wound to Nose (Reduced by Armor).
<COMBAT> Phin attacks Raider2 with KEW - Critical wound to Cockpit.
<COMBAT> CREW HIT! Raider2 - Critical wound to Abdomen.
<COMBAT> Atalanta attacks Raider2 with KEW - Light wound to Weapon.
<COMBAT> Atalanta has started a new turn. Pose and choose your action.

<COMBAT> Viper-2487g has been KO'd!
<COMBAT> Phin has been KO'd!

"Captain's calling for ano—," the 'Raptor' confirms. Or starts to, at least. The Raider reenforcements are a nightmare. Already outnumbered, they're enough to leave the Orion's flight entirely overwhelmed. A hail of fire blasts directly towards them, with all of the predictable results. "I'm hit! I'm hit!"

It's like an echo chamber. Teatime. Beta. The Raptor crew. They won't be making it back to the liner — it jumps now or not at all.

Phin watches the Raiders blink, and blink, and blink onto his DRADIS like a particular dreadful Solstice display. Deep breath, which he lets out slow. "OK. So we're totally frakked, then." That's muttered to himself, off wireless. On it, he says, "Raptor, jump out of here. Rendezvous with the liner at the emergency coordinates." The Raptor crew, at least, has an engine that might let it escape on its own. The Vipers, not so much. "Teatime, Beta, Dolly. Hold them off." Not much else to be done, if they can't RTB. So he just barrels at his Raider target. It's a damn fine shot he gets off, maybe particularly because his gunnery skills haven't exactly come off as impressive. Right on target through the red eye. He only gets to enjoy it very briefly, though, before his Viper is pummeled by KEW fire from several angles. That'll make it explode real good. If nothing else it'd be a quick death, if it were the real thing.

Atalanta doesn't keep up the act. She doesn't gasp or scream in horror at Phin's sudden death. Instead, the LCD screen simply goes black, the simulation shutting down. The hatch on her simulated station is popped open, as is her seal collar. She is all too eager to get her helmet off, being as there's absolutely no need for it now — not even for the sake of 'realism'. Getting out, however, she is far less intent on doing. On the contrary, she turns sideways in her seat and begins quickly scribbling several notes on her page.

Phin is eager enough to pop his sim pod doors, and remove his helmet. Game or not, 'dying' isn't fun. He runs a hand over his sweat hair before stepping out and standing. Very straight. He brings himself to attention - if minus a salute this time - and just waits there for Atalanta to finish her notations.

"At ease, Lieutenant," she says sedately, before she's even finished scrawling whatever notes she may be making across the top of her page. Eventually, there's the soft click of the ballpoint sliding back into place, and her green eyes shift from her files to his face. Silence. It hangs in the air for a moment before she, with the slow speed that indicates a very deliberate word choice, begins to explain. "I should begin by apologizing for the ruse. As you may or may not have realized by now, the simulation was designed to overwhelm us, and ensure that at least one of us, as well as several of the automated pilots, would be shot down. In short, it was built for you to lose."

"I don't think any apologies are in order, sir." And Phin doesn't sound irritated as his posture relaxes. "I should've caught onto it sooner, that it was a no-win scenario." His blue eyes meet her green ones. "I'm not the best shot in the squadron and I need to work on my targeting drills. I know that. That's not really what you were testing, though, was it?"

She shakes her head slowly at that. "No, it was not. The truth of the matter is this: I have, at best, one month to ensure that a wing consisting of two hundred pilots and ECOs is prepped for battle — not the brief skirmishes most of us have been engaging in since War Day, but drawn out dogfights that are going to hurt. Of the two hundred people under my command, I know and have flown with exactly one of you, and thanks to the loss of Fleet Command, almost all of the personnel files and flight evaluations which I have are partial at best and nearly non-existant at worst." One hand reaches up to brush a few wisps of blonde hair back from her face. It's the heat of the helmet; there's no strands out of place, just those little curls around her temples. "What I want to know is who is going to keep their mission in mind when faced with overwhelming odds and who is going to panic. If someone is going to have a breakdown in the cockpit, I want to know now instead of when I have them screaming in my ear over Picon. If I know now, I can do something about it."

"Gods give us might drawn from desperation." It's scripture. From the Ares prayeres, if you're into that sort of thing. But Phin quotes it wryly rather than with any sort of fervency. "So. Do I pass or fail?"

"Well, Lieutenant, I was just about to ask you whether or not you would feel comfortable leading a flight during training ops which I intend to conduct for the Vipers — in an asteroid belt." Both of her eyebrows lift, her expression expectant. She is, obviously, under the impression that her statement will make her answer clear. "The sims aren't large enough to accommodate even a single flight of four, let alone the entire squadron all at once, I can't imagine a better way to reproduce the crowded conditions of a dogfight than to have you all out trying to dodge asteroids flying towards you. I realize you've been flying as Major Holtz's wingman for the majority of your assignment aboard the Orion, but given the records of the SABER op, your recon across the Armstice Line, and the tempermant which you just displayed, I think your leadership skills could be put to good use. You're welcome to refuse and I won't hold it against you."

"I'll do what I'm called to do, sir, to the best of my abilities," Phin replies. "So, yes. Of course." He nods a little to himself. That's a pass, then. He doesn't seem to know whether he should be happy about it or not. Particularly when it's implied he won't be flying Holtz's wing as often. Not that that wasn't inevitable, given his new rank. "I do wonder, sir. What temperament did I just display?"

"You kept your focus on the orders you were given — protecting that liner at all costs. You made the necessary sacrifice when you realized we were out of options. And unless I'm mistaken, you haven't yet thrown your helmet to the ground and gone storming out of the room after being informed that I, to be perfectly blunt, screwed you into 'losing'," Atalanta replies calmly, as she finally slips out of the hacked up cockpit that's been installed into the room.

Phin allows himself a slight half-smile that doesn't quite touch his blue eyes. "The way I figure it, the Cylons have screwed us into losing plenty of times. I'd rather be pissed at them, and not waste my time getting bent out of shape about a game. Worst you can end up with in here is a low score." He pauses. "I'm going to assume you've seen whatever Command's worked up on the casualty estimates for Picon, sir. And that they're pretty high."

His smile is echoed with a frown — it's a minimal expression, one which drags the edges of her mouth down for only a moment before passing away. Cautious neutrality. It's a look mastered by lifers. "Given what's left of the Colonies, Lieutenant McBride, and how few survivors remain, I consider one casualty to be entirely too many. I want that number to be zero, or as close as possible as I can get it to zero."

"I didn't…I'm sure you do, sir. Nobody should want to die, or want anyone else to die. It's just not the world any of us get to live in right now, and I just want to say that I get that. I mean…I get what I am. Vipers are point defense, so bigger ships can do bigger things. It's something I think about sometimes…" Perhaps often. It doesn't sound like any of these are spur-of-the-moment thoughts from Phin. "…and I pray that I'm not a coward, when it comes to that. It's maybe the only thing I pray for. Anyway. I'll do my best for you and my comrades, is all I'm trying to say, I think."

"I've seen your record, McBride. I very much doubt you're a coward," she says without so much as blinking. There's a pause, though, a moment in which her voice softens and her brow furrows. "Besides, the gods give heroes the peace and the pleasures of an eternity in paradise. Cling to that. There's nothing frightening about being welcomed home by Hercules." There's a quiet conviction in the statement — a lifetime of soldiers' stories and legends, boiled down into a single sentence. "Is there anything else?," Franklin asks, after a brief shake of her head snaps her attention back to business.

How much comfort Phin takes in the soldiers' stories is hard to say, but the reference gets a short nod from him. "I try, sir," is all he says, about his lack of cowardice. "And no. Unless there's anything further you need from me, I'm sure you've got plenty to keep you busy. Get me the specs on that asteroid training mission when you can. As much as you want me and the guys to know, at least."

"At the moment, I'd prefer this be kept quiet — not because there's anything particularl sensitive about the asteroid training, but because if your fellow pilots are aware of the point of this exercise, it's essentially useless. I trust you can keep the information to yourself for a few days?," she asks, although it's not quite a question. "Enjoy the rest of your evening. You're dismissed."

"Will do, sir," Phin says simply. With that, he gives the Major a parting salute and leaves her to it.

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