AWD #157: The Price of Survival
The Price of Survival
Summary: The new DCAG, Major Franklin, puts Agrippa through his paces as part of the evaluations which she announced in her first briefing.
Date: 12/06/2013 (OOC Date)
Related Logs: None
Agrippa Atalanta 
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 #157

As evidenced by the mandatory air wing meeting, Atalanta seems to have developed a habit of being perfectly punctual over the years she's spent in the Fleet. At precisely the appointed hour, she's waiting in the sims. Her duty blues have been exchanged for her flight suit, indicating a certain devotion to maintaining the integrity of the exercise. One Viper's cockpit has already been claimed — a clipboard and her helmet rest on the seat.

Since the meeting place was the Flight Simulators instead of the CAG's office, Agrippa had changed into his flight suit as well and shows up more or less on time, though one can't blame any delays on the time since everyone's watches should be sync'd. His own helmet is tucked under his arm when he steps in and after his eyes spots where Atalanta is sitting, he approaches before standing to attention, the indoor version of a salute. "Lieutenant JG Agrippa reporting as ordered, Sir."

"At ease, Lieutenant," she says, slipping herself into parade rest. It seems to be her default posture, despite having skipped academy training. "I've preprogrammed the simulators with a scenario. We'll be escorting a civilian liner through a hot-zone, which we've been ordered to protect at all costs. You'll be taking point, and I'll be flying as your wingman." Yes, really. "Do you have any questions or concerns which you would care to address before we begin the exercise?"

At that command, Agrippa slips one hand behind his back though the other is still holding his flight helmet securely. As the simulated mission is revealed and explained, Punchdrunk tries to hold back his surprise at the conditions, just nodding his head at each major point. "No sir, no…" There is a pause there before one does pop up though it is asked hesitantly, perhaps he had heard of the rumors, "Er… what callsign should I address you as during the mission, Sir?"

One corner of her mouth twists upwards at the question. It isn't quite a smile. Her eyes haven't filled with enough warmth or amusement for that. No, for one moment — one very brief moment — there is a flicker of nostalgia in their green depths. It is quickly replaced with both a neutral expression and a neutral tone, tinged with (maybe!) the tiniest hint of indignance. "I was assigned to the Axiom fresh out of flight school. My squadron kindly dubbed me "Teatime" in my first few weeks aboard." She has, in short, been carrying the same callsign for a decade. At least.

The reaction to the question is most likely noted but Agrippa is smart enough not to react to it, remaining neutrally passive as he continues to feel out what the new CAG is like. Also, when the rumors of her callsign is confirmed, there is only a nod from the young pilot, "Understood Sir. I have no further questions and ready to begin." There was also a hint of recognition in the callsign as well when it is confirmed, one that he was told about back on the Valkyrie.

One slender hand gestures towards the unoccupied seat. "Take all of the time you need, Lieutenant. The exercise isn't being run against a clock," she says, while climbing into her own previously claimed seat. The earpiece for the wireless is wiggled into place before she pulls her helmet on and locks the seal collar into place. It's only seconds later that the LCD screen flickers to life, revealing a black expanse of empty space, filled only by the faint pinpricks of distant stars and a large white mass in one corner, which must be the liner which she'd mentioned.

At the gestured unoccupied simulator, Agrippa nods again and heads towards it, apparently eager to start and perhaps show off what he is capable of. His confidence is still on a major high with the combination of the successful risk filled mission over Picon, rise on the killboard, the promotion, as well as the medal he earned, he's feeling rather unstoppable. Grabbing the earpiece for his pod, he slips it in and then slips on the flight helmet before also locking his own seal collar. Then he watches as his own surroundings change, going through a quick check of his simulated Viper's systems, "Teatime, Punchdrunk. All systems green, good to go."

"All clear, here. Got your six, boss," she replies. As if his ego wasn't pumped enough, the DCAG did in fact just say that to him, and without a single trace of irony in her voice. As systems flick to life and displays on their respective screens begin to glow, the DRADIS reads four other ships accompanying them on escort — all idnentified as friendlies. The flight consists of another pair of Vipers, one Raider, and a large mass that must be the liner itself.

At that, Agrippa takes it as a sign that the mission is a go, a grin appearing under his visor when he hears himself being called boss by the DCAG. Goosing the thrusters of his fighter, he gives himself a bit of speed so that he is able to move into point as was explained to him during that brief, impromptu briefing. Once in position, he more or less matches speed with the other ships so there is a standard escort formation while his eyes are peeled outside, to pick up glints of metal in the depths of space while glancing down at his own DRADIS from time to time. The extra friendlies is a reassuring sign of course.

Franklin burns some fuel to keep up. As promised, she's right on his tail, flying in formation with the sort of accuracy that belongs in a textbook, not out in the black. Has she left the computer in control of her own Viper, too, so that her hands are free for taking notes?

It's a question which he won't have time to consider for very long. Of course there are going to be enemy contacts. It's a training exercise. Of course. There's that tell-tale flash in the distance, just on the edge of hitting BVR — ships jumping in. They show up as a single blob on DRADIS, one mass of signals the system is picking up, but not yet able to count as individuals. "Punchdrunk, I've got incoming bogeys at three o'clock!"

It is also a possibility that Agrippa won't be contemplating, as the only thing he notes when glancing at the DRADIS at first is that his wingman is sticking with him. When the flash in the depths of space occurs, it is hard to miss and it immediately draws Punchdrunk's attention. «Flight, Punchdrunk, I copy. DRADIS shows one but Cylons are most likely flying close formaiton. I'll investigate with Teatime, Element Bravo, stick with the Liner in case it's just a diversion. If we're facing superior numbers, I will call out for assistance.» With that shared, Agrippa breaks his Viper to the right, heading in the three o'clock direction and an intercept course.

"Copy that." He can't see it, but Franklin is smiling in the seat of her simulated Viper. She banks a smooth, easy right, maintaining her spot on his tail. The closer they get, the clearer the picture becomes. Betty's starts screaming, and the 'voice' of a pre-programmed Raptor pilot cuts across the several seconds of silence that'd had filled their earpieces. "Flight, we're showing six bandits on screen. Repeat, six bandits, coming at you at sixty degrees AoA."

Six… frak, that is a large number, too large that even the usually overconfident Agrippa is willing to take with just him and his wingman. «Understood, Element Bravo, come in and assist. Teatime and I will try to break up their formation and if they turn to engage us, you could get a free pass so don't waste it. Raptor, stay at range and just keep us updated if anything else changes, if anything flashes on the other side, let us know immediately.» As the klicks continue to decrease between himself and the inbound Cylons, Punchdrunk addresses his wingman, «Looks like it'll be a bit rocky until the other two Vipers arrive, we may have to do some fancy flying if it turns out to be six Raiders and they turn on us.»

"Don't worry about me, boss. I can keep up," she assures him, without a trace of bluster or bravado in her voice. That's the cool confidence of someone who means it, because they know it.

It isn't long before they're in sight. Every bandit on their screen? A Raider. Every, single, one. With Bravo still trailing behind them, they've got nothing to target — not yet. The pair of Vipers would make an easy mark, but two Raiders break off, trying to blow past them and make a straight shot for the liner. A third flashes back out of sight, disappearing entirely from view. That leaves three, guns hot at trained on the two of them.

Six Raiders, which is actually a relief for Agrippa when he identifies all six. That means that there are currently no Heavy Raiders present as they could certainly obliterate either the Viper escort, the Liner, or both, especially with a brace of Raiders running escort. When the Cylons react to their intercept, Punchdrunk grits his teeth and quickly hits the wireless, «Element Bravo, Punchie, intercept those two Raiders heading to the Liner! I'm counting on you to stop them. Raptor, run some interference if you are able to but we may have more incoming soon, one of the Raiders jumped out. Could be reporting in our location and gathering reinforcements.»

That is all Agrippa is able to get out because a few seconds after that, the two colliding forces would be in range of each other and a head-on pass is initiated. Luckily for Punchdrunk, he manages to land a solid hit on one of the Raiders before both sides scream past each other. «Teatime, you have two on you, trying to clear one off of your tail.» With that, he breaks after one of the two Raiders, attempting to vape one of the Raiders off of Atalanta's tail.

"Confirmed, Punchdrunk. We have the music spinning up now." It may help the Vipers. It may help the Raptor. But really, if the Raiders have the sense to use their eyes instead of their sensors, they'd have to be blind not to nail that liner — once they get in range.

"Copy that, boss," Teatime replies. Her voice is cool. Controlled. Even with two bandits on her tail, which she starts wagging at them in a tantilizing dance — evasive, teasing, like a tango. No, her flying isn't computer controlled. Catch her if you can, boys.

Element Bravo is on a swift course to intercept the two remaining Raiders. They soon become a tangle of green blips on the screen, partially obscured from being within VR because of the liner's big ass. "Going to guns," comes the 'voice' of Bravo's leader.

Score! Even though Agrippa's next burst of KEW doesn't appear to hit anything crucial on the Raider, after it punches through the armor in the right wing, it must've hit something that triggered a chain reaction because it does end up exploding after a few seconds later. «Teatime, one is off your tail, still have one more chasing.» A quick update is given to his wingman before Punchdrunk begins to vector in on the second Cylon that is after Atalanta.

However, he isn't tunnel visioned into this dogfight, as he was assigned as the mission leader for this engagement. Choosing to shoot a message to the Raptor who is most likely not as occupied as the Bravo Element, Punchdrunk requests a quick update, «Raptor, status on the two Raiders that Bravo is engaging. And any signs of new inbound hostiles?»

"Nothing yet, but I've got the liner's Captain screaming into the com." The question, though not quite audible in the computerized voice, is obviously implied.

And Teatime, obviously, is too occupied to really deal with anything but the Raider's that are practically crawling up her skirts. A quick flip means she's able to get a shot in, but with only a split-second to line up her target, her fire flies past it — just barely.

That's not the source of the fire in the sky, though. There's a sudden burst of orange and yellow. Something just went boom. "SHIT!", come's Bravo's leader. "Delta is down! Delta is down! I'm alone out here!"

Despite the update from the Raptor and the panicked call from Bravo Leader coming through the wireless, Agrippa's focus is unshakeable right now, apparently the young pilot is showing his stuff rather well in this mission, proving that he is indeed still riding on his high. His burst of triple autocannons has the projectiles raking into he body of the Raider he targeted, shredding it to bits. «Teatime, one more off your tail.» It is also decision time for the mission leader, as Bravo Element lost one and is now out-numbered. «Raptor, what is the Liner screaming about? We don't have a lot of time to deal with the civies right now.»

The Raptor's message is like a punch to the gut. "Their FTL's are cold." In short, their options are take the Raiders out or risk losing the liner — it doesn't have time to jump. It's a fact emphasized by the teeny, tiny little blip which suddenly blinks to life on the DRADIS. It's moving in a clear, straight path towards the hulking white beast they've been tasked with protecting. "Raider's dropping AAM!", the Raptor cuts in. "Dropping sparrows now!"

"You've still got a bandit on your six, Punchdrunk," comes Teatime's voice. "Repeat, bandit on your six. Bank left!"

Ahhh frak, the situation is definitely deteriorating, at least closer towards the Liner. Agrippa can only trust that the Raptor crew is skilled enough to protect the civilians for a moment longer. Unable to answer back as his wingman's warning comes in, Punchdrunk reacts as he was trained to when those words are called out by a wingman and he immediately slams his flightstick to the left and then up, breaking hard left to evade the incoming fire. He also kicks his afterburners in as well to pick up some speed before rolling back in the direction of the Liner, Raptor, and remaining Bravo Viper, intent on leading the Raider on his tail and Teatime to their primary objective. While in mid-flight, Agrippa cuts the main thrusters before using the maneuvering jets to flip his Viper around. Then as he is sliding backwards due to inertia, he uses that small window of opportunity to fire off a burst of Kew at the tailling Raider.

The last Raider in the furball is a goner. The burst of cannon-fire from Atalanta finally hits its intended target, lighting up the Raider's starboard with the faint glow of breached armor. It's a glow that quickly turns into a bang, leaving it dead — or at least dead in the air. It's a brief moment of respite. It's three against two now, and the odds are in their favor…

At least until the cold flash of a ship breaking through hyperspace appears at the very edge of their vision.

"Punchdrunk, it looks like our missing Raider brought back some friends!" A beat, and her voice comes through, almost breathless. "Orders?"

Just when things appear to turn their way, Agrippa catches the flash of Raiders leaving FTL jumps and the celebratory mood is short-lived. He has to do some quick thinking right now as DRADIS shows quite a few hostile blips, a quick count bringing it to seven. «Orders are…» A brief pause before a solid decision is made, «Raptor, I need you to spool your FTL ASAP and jump to fleet, let them know our coordinates and that our situation is critical. We need our own reinforcements as soon as possible.» Hopefully in the form of a flak cannon destroyer or some such, «Liner Actual, do you have an ETR on your jump drives? You need to get it fixed and prep a jump.» Finally, for the remaining three escorts, «Three on seven, not terrible odds. Let's hold off the frakking toasters until our help arrives or the Liner gets its FTL back online.»

"You've got it, boss," Teatime replies. It will, as it turns out, be her famous last word — at least for today. She overshoots a Raider, flips, and lets out a burst of fire across it's bow. Impressive manuevering, but it leaves her sitting exposed to unseen adversary in the tangle that their airspace has quickly become. There's an orange-yellow explosion on Agrippa's screen, before Atalanta's LCD cuts to black.

"Actual to Agrippa." The Captain is, apparently, unfamiliar with their callsigns. "We've got them spooling up now. Jumping to emergency rendezvous coordinates in 5.. 4.."

Another blast! Sierra hotel! Element Bravo's wingman might've been blown out of the sky, but it seems he's not going out without a fight. Too tunnel-visioned on his own task to notice anything but the Raider he's tailing, it's a one-shot kill. There's another orange flare-up. Agrippa and the Raptor are all that's left.

When the countdown actually begins, Agrippa realizes that the cold engines are finally warmed up and spooling, perhaps not realizing that it would be that fast. He was about to tell the Vipers to engages magnetic clamps onto the hull of the Liner when there is an explosion, his wingman's friendly blip on DRADIS disappearing, «Teatime! Come in, Teatime!» Then a second bright explosion happens as well, Bravo Leader succumbing to the swarm of Raiders as well. The only thing he could do is burn his way to the Liner to engage the clamps before he misses his ride out, «Raptor, jump out to emergency coordinates!»

The gods are good. There's cannon fire that blasts pasts Agrippa; some of it nails the liner, which has nothing more than simple, standard plating to protect it. Nothing fancy. Nothing military grade.It's damaged, but it'll survive — a relief for him, no doubt, as the clamps kick in and lock him down onto the hull. Any closer, and they'd be scraping paint. Any later, and he'd miss his ride. The screen immediately cuts to black. "That will be all, Lieutenant," comes the Major's voice over the wireless. She's already popping her seal-collar off.

When the screen goes black, Agrippa can only release a long breath after pulling off his flight helmet. He sits there for a couple of seconds before doing the same to extract himself from the simulator. The dismissal orders are clear though the way the mission ended appear to not sit well with the young pilot. The Liner had managed to jump out to safety, and perhaps the Raptor crew as well, but three Vipers were lost. There is a brief hesitation in Agrippa but he does stand to attention after rising to his full stature, "Yes sir." With that, he turns and begins heading towards the exit.

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