AWD #207: Raptors and Jasmine Tea
Raptors and Jasmine Tea
Summary: The latter is sipped while the possible deployment of the former is discussed.
Date: 01/08/2013 (OOC Date)
Related Logs: July 29 Viper Squadron Meeting
Bennett Phin Taylor 
Map Room — Deck 2 — Battlestar Orion
Dominating the room is the large bottom-lit map table in the very center. Ten feet across and eight feet the other way, the table can gather a large number of people around it while still accommodating enlisted and support personnel in the small riser seating behind the table. The risers are done in single-piece desk sections that run the width of the seating area and have small reporting displays built into them along with communications ports for headphones. At the head of the room are two very large LED displays that can have almost anything put on them, including projections of what is on the map table. A single computer at the support seating controls this and in the rear of the room is a large, locked case that holds maps and table models.
AWD #207

The lone occupant of the map room, tonight, is an air wing officer looking suspiciously like Captain Saint Clair. Which would be fortuitous, since this is where she said she'd meet the two viper pilots. Dressed in neatly pressed blues with ever so slightly crooked flight qualification wings, the bus driver is seated in front of a small array of paperwork. She appears to be pondering said paperwork while enjoying a smoke.

Phin is on time, but he's generally a punctual sort. He's in his duty blues, though they don't look so painfully spit-and-polished as they do for more formal meetings. He's also carrying a notepad, which he had tucked under one arm. His non-saluting arm, as he straightens and brings his other up to one as he enters. "Captain Saint Claire."

Taylor follows in after Phin shortly, dressed in his own set of dress blues. He has a small notepad with a pencil through the spiraling in his left hand. As he enters, he raises a quick salute, trying to keep himself more unnoticed. "Evening, Captain."

Fat chance of that. Bennett's gaze roves to the hatch as the pair enter, and her studious expression melts into a warm smile. "Good evening, McBride. And.. Ensign Taylor, right? Come in, sit down. There's tea, if your unrefined tastebuds can tolerate it." She gestures to the pot and two cups placed upside-down on a nearby table, like she half expects a spider to crawl inside. "I was just going over some briefing notes and mission reports from the Ouranos belt."

Phin relaxes out of his salute, then takes one of those cups of tea before seating himself. He grins slight. "I think I can handle it, sir. What kind is it?" He sips right after asking. To see for himself. Setting his notepad down on the table. It's filled with scratches about the belt as well, from the latest briefings. "Yeah, that's what we wanted to talk to you about. Came up in the last meeting. The ensign asked about the possibility of getting Raptor support out there, and we were wondering if you had any ideas on how to make that more doable."

"Aquarian jasmine," Bennett murmurs, turning the page on the octagonal-edged report she'd been perusing. Blue eyes flick from the paper to Phin, multitasking between the two like any good pilot. "So I had heard," she answers his first comment. "It seems, in fact, that Major Holtz had been planning on using raptor support in the initial briefing for this mission. The concern, I assume, being the likelihood of enemy contacts overwhelming the raptors. Correct?"

Taylor blushes slightly, bowing his head a little. "Tea would be good, yes thank you, sir.. do you have any sugar, actually?" He steps up to the map table, involuntarily shrinking his shoulders in slightly, still trying to remain unassuming. "Merely an small idea, Captain, nothing lofty. The Major was talking about issues with Raptor maneuverability within those rocks."

Phin nods to Bennett. "That's most of it, sir. It's mostly eyeball work anyway with all the interference, and the Vipers can get into tighter corners than the Raptors can. My main concern is how many Cylons we've been encountering in there. It's like they're looking for something. We're not sure what. But when we go up against them, we're totally without jamming coverage, and Storm and Teatime seem to think we'll keep meeting the same kind of resistance. Whatever the source of it is. It's going to jack up casualties. I mean, don't get me wrong, I can eat the risk if it's necessary. But I figured it'd be worth looking into if it wasn't."

"Risk is one thing," Bennett opines, closing the report she'd been reviewing and taking a sip of her own cooling tea. "Throwing good pilots into a poorly-understood situation is another." There's a thoughtful nod to Taylor for his comment about maneuverability. "You're right about that; our vernier thrusters are not nearly so sophisticated as the vipers'." To Phin, "I would wager, then, that we need to find out what it is they're after. The Ouranos belt is.. just an old battlefield, as far as I know. But perhaps someone in intel or even CIDSR might have some information. The library might be an idea, too."

Taylor glances at Phin, lowering his head slightly. "Didn't think about the library…" He frowns slightly, as if upset about such a simple miss. He turns back to the Raptor captain, looking thoughtful. "I was thinking the sensor packages on the Raptor are more sensitive than what's on the Viper. Our last encounter was in a strage area… looked like a plow driver had run through the belt. Maybe the sensors could hit a pocket of clearance where they could pick up -something- that the tinnies might be out there for, and those pockets may be in areas the carriers can't reach. We didn't take contacts until we hit that hole.. it may be possible to fly escort and protection while you sweep the area."

Phin shrugs to Taylor. "It's worth a look. They've got a decent military history section aboard, and it should cover the Virgon-Leonis wars pretty good. I studied them a little, but can't recall anything special about the belt. It was a thing they fought over before unification, but they pretty much fought over everything. Intel might know more, yeah." He sips his tea. Despite being a habitual coffee drinker, he doesn't object to it. "From what I understand, electronic sensors are pretty borked in general in there, but it might be worth looking into." A little nod to Bennett. "I think that was their other big concern. Raptors could maybe fly with us OK, especially if we found avenues for them, but if we ran into Raiders and it had to come to evasive stuff, could get messy for ships that're less maneuverable."

Bennett gives Taylor a small smile for his observation on the raptors' sensor packages. "Precisely so. And if we are able to gain clearance to put together a sensor bus, I think the DRADOME would be immensely helpful in gaining a clearer picture of what's lurking in that soup. Like, for example.." She flips to the second page in the mission briefing. "Proximity mines." Her head comes up when Phin speaks next, and she nods slowly. "Well, there are a few possibilities there. One, have the raptors hang well back, and be ready to bug out if raiders come sniffing. Or two.. park a raptor or two right in the thick of things, power down everything but sensors and the jamming suite, and code up some signal masking to ghost the transponders. It's tricky, but I think a good ECO could do it. Then you've got invisible eyes and ears."

The young ensign's eyes widen at the word 'proximity mines'. He bites his lower lip, looking down at the briefing. "Mines? Are those.. are those really out there?" He almost mutters it, not wanting to interrupt the captain in her response. "How can you be sure you'd be invisible to their sensors, though? And if you're not, how could we find you if you start taking shots?"

"You could seriously do that?" Phin's response to the latter of Bennett's suggestions, which he seems both skeptical about and intrigued by. "I mean, positioning the Raptors far enough back that they aren't flying directly into Raider teeth sounds doable." It's the more cautious idea that he immediately grabs onto. "But the thing with the ghost signals sounds really cool, if you can pull it off. And if all the interference in the belt wouldn't frak with it too bad." He half-smiles at Taylor. "You bet, once you get in deep enough, they say. Virgon and Leonis left them there after the wars ended because it kept each of them from messing with that part of the border, and the Colonial government didn't bother to dismantle them all after unification."

"Me?" Bennett answers Phin's question first, with a little laugh. "No, I couldn't even hope to stumble through the fine-tuning required. But I know an ECO or two who probably could." Probably. "And I could not be sure, Ensign, not at all. It is an idea, a crapshoot, and one Major Holtz may not like either." She leans back in her chair and touches her smoke to her lips for a brief pull. A brief shake of her head to something Phin says. "Actually, I'm rather counting on the interference in the belt. It should help to scatter the signal, which is what we want. But you are right, keeping the raptors back carries much less risk. I am sure we could fit a few swallows even with the sensor package, which would buy the crew some time in case raiders came knocking."

Taylor rubs the back of his neck and smiles sheepishly. "True. After all, this is just some crazy the FNG had.." He frowns slightly, looking as if he felt a fool. Then he raises an eyebrow, hand still pressing on the back of his neck. "Does make me wonder though… how do the tinnies see? Wouldn't their sensors be as muddled as ours? And they run almost completely on sensors, don't they?"

"I don't know, really," Phin says, about the Cylons. "Maybe they come equipped with cameras or something. Like, some kind of running guncam they analyze in the cockpit in real time…" He trails off, considering it, but apparently not coming up with much. Shrug. "Anyway, Butch. Both those sound worth pitching to Storm. We can write up a report for him, see if it makes him come banging on your hatch or not. You can never tell with that guy." Though he says it more or less fondly. Phin's all of deep respect for his SL, and sometime wingman.

Bennett doesn't seem any more in the know than the pair of viper jocks, where cylon eyes are concerned. She shakes her head slightly with a thoughtful expression, and flicks some ash from her cigarette. "It is possible, as well, that there is simply no benefit to bringing in the raptors at all. We have no guarantee that even a DRADOME will penetrate the interference or be able to provide effective jamming. If it were me, I would send in a raptor and minimal viper escort to scout and gather data before proceeding."

Taylor nods in agreement, and he brings his hand down to rest on the table lightly. "I'd volunteer for that, if they let me go.. from my perspective, if I'm able to say, nothing is sure to be effective out there either.. even using the eyeball. But there could be a shot with the Raptor, and it's an avenue not explored yet.. and the Cylons are out there for something. You don't send two squadrons to get decimated for routine reconnaisance.."

"We might actually get more done with a smaller recon patrol," Phin says. "At least in the section of the belt we nosed into last time. If they did spot Raiders, they might be able to avoid. Or maybe even follow them and figure out what the frak the Cylons were so interested in in there."

Bennett flicks more ash from her smoke with a nail painted pale blue. The polish is chipped, as usual, but she hasn't yet elected to replace it. Her supply must be running low. "I think you have the right of it, Taylor," she tells the ensign, with a smile that's more impressed than anything. Sifting the papers back into her folder and preparing to stand, she nods as well to Phin. "I agree. Sometimes subtlety is what is called for. I will speak with Major Holtz about this, regardless. And do see if you can track down Vashti or one of the other senior ECOs; they may be able to think of something I've missed."

Taylor looks down at the comment, reddening and shrinking himself back into attempting anonymity. He can't help but nod at Phin's comment, though. "True, Dol—er, Lieutenant. A couple birds is far less visible than half a squadron like we've been going out with, and if their sensors are as muddled as ours are… maybe we could.." He looks thoughtful, attempting to half-hide behind the other Viper jock's frame, which isn't an easy task given his height.

Or given Phin's height, which is pretty average. He's not exactly small, but as far as hiding places go, he doesn't provide much cover. He purses his lips to hide a grin at Taylor, nodding to them both. "Yeah. The belt's huge anyway. It's going to take several more runs to scout it completely, so it's not like putting just two or three planes out there is really going to slow it down, way I figure." He nods, about the ECOs. "Will do, sir." Though this seems to remind him of something. And he asks, with some attempt to be subtle, "How're the recon missions going? The ones back to review the colonies."

"Not to mention that we might, if we're lucky, be able to narrow things down in terms of areas of.. potential… interest," Bennett points out, raising a brow slightly as Taylor tries to hide behind Phin. She looks amused. "Which could drastically reduce the overall time to scout the belt." Blue eyes finally shift back to Phin as she rises; she is fairly tall for a woman, though the two viper pilots easily outmatch her. "Slowly," is her even-toned answer to the question. There is displeasure lurking beneath that word. "But we plod along."

Taylor busies himself with writing a few things on his notepad, having neglected most of the meeting, while they discuss the missions. He strains an ear though, hoping to hear something.

Phin nods as he stands. "I was just curious who was doing the Helios Gamma run." He tries to make the question sound subtle but it's not, terribly. He finishes off what's left in his tea cup, murmuring a "Thanks" for it, and picks up his notes.

Bennett hesitates a moment at the not-so-casual question from Phin. Then, with a breath, she resumes gathering up her file folder and empty teacup. Her cigarette is pulled from once more before it's plunked into the damp tea leaves to smoulder and go out. "It was done a couple of weeks ago. There has been no change in the situation on Scorpia, that we could tell. But I will petition the CAG to return once we are able, and have the resources." A beat. "There were survivors on Sagittaron." It's put out there quietly, and with an odd tone of voice.

Taylor pauses in the middle of writing, casting a glance up without raising his head. His attention has been moved fully to the conversation now, even if he's poorly trying to hide it.

Phin's posture stiffens when Scorpia's mentioned, and he tries to keep his expression carefully schooled and inscrutable. He's bad at inscrutable, though. He looks somber, but nods when she mentions the unchanged situation. "Guess that's better than lot of alternatives, sir. Survivors on Sagittaron?" This surprises him. "I thought the estimates were…well, not quite glassed, but in a state that they didn't expect much back from it."

"I expected nothing at all, I assure you," replies the bus driver mildly. "Anyway, I.. still have to hand in my official report to Major Franklin. I was waiting on the usual bureaucracy, you know how it is." She smiles slightly, but there is still something troubled in the turn of her lips. "Please keep this to yourselves for now, all right?" Her gaze shifts to Taylor expectantly.

Taylor looks up, mocking surprise as best as he can. He places his pencil back in the spiral binding. "Sorry, sir, did you say something? I was making notes about the Belt and missed the ccnversation."

"Of course, sir," Phin says readily. He half-grins at Taylor. "We saw nothing. Anyway. Thanks for the tea and advice on busing." He salutes, but it's a more casual thing than the one he gave when he came in.

Bennett's hands are too full, really, to salute, so she favours the vipers with an enigmatic smile and a wink before turning for the hatch. "You are more than welcome. Good night, gentlemen." And she's gone, along with the scent of jasmine tea.

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