AWD #006: The Violent Fiends of Death
The Violent Fiends of Death
Summary: In which Bennett and Ygraine depart upon a mission to recon Helios Gamma.
Date: 11/01/2013
Related Logs: None
Bennett Ygraine 
Room Name
A raptor.
AWD #06

Three jumps back. Its really saying something about each jump when there is absolutely NOTHING recognizable in the stars between each plot point. But with that final jump home, the star of Gamma is visible at the center of the system, as are the faint dots of each planet. Ophion's dull gold color and its rings are a little more visible, but not by much. Things seem oddly quiet. But as the seconds tick by after the jump, it settles in just as to why its so odd — the monitored radio frequencies are all silent except for one: GUARD. The frequency used for emergency distress beacons and Krypter declarations. There are a few still beeping and being received which means they're close.. but the only thing DRADIS shows is a nearby cluster of dead hulks of shipping and naval vessels. Broken, busted, and destroyed, the largest section of any of them is smaller than thirty yards across. Bennett can probably just see the spread of it out the port side at around twenty miles distant, the wreckage drifting across the background stars to blot them out.

Ygraine is perched at her console, running her scans and actually trying not to look at the empty husks floating out there in space. "Here's what I don't get." she notes to Bennett. "Let's say we find something. Let's say we find people. What do we do? Do we figure out a way to get 'em back? Do we leave them here and bring support? is it too much to hope for regardless?"

As the last jump is completed and their bus slips sideways into normal space and time with a sickening lurch, Bennett opens her eyes slowly. She takes the time for a single breath before turning her attention to her HUD readouts. "Coordinates confirmed, Milkshake," she calls back after a few seconds. "We're in the Gamma system. Good work." The praise is offered matter-of-factly and not lingered upon. "Make sure the cockpit voice recorder is rolling; I am setting a course for Libran first." She addresses her backseater's questions after a few keystrokes, "CAG's orders are to make note of survivor locations, but steer clear of contact." What remains to be seen is whether she plans on following those orders when push comes to shove.

The following jump after the minute or two to get the drive charged, takes them into a farther orbit. Ahead of them they can see, parked over the northern pole, is a single basestar sitting overtop Libran like a crown. Half the planet is currently under nighttime but there isn't a single point of light from the dark side of Libran. Nothing. This far out, if the basestar can even detect them it will be ten or more minutes before their detection registers on the ship.

Ygraine is determinedly not looking out the window, and focusing on the sensors. It only takes her moments to report, "I got nothin' comin' from Libran. At least not on this side of the planetary body." When she does finally look up and out the window, she makes a small sound in the back of her throat, but she keeps doing her job. "Sensors aren't getting a read on the basestar either, but that's to be expected at this range."

Another step closer. Bennett guides their moderately armed raptor into a geostationary orbit around the planet, and looks up only momentarily before ducking her gaze to the sensor bank in front of her. "No lights down there, though that doesn't necessarily mean there's nobody still kicking." She reaches up to adjust some settings on the PIRCS camera, and asks over her shoulder, "Can you boost sensors at all? I don't want to bring us in any closer with that.. thing out there. Little worried about overstaying our welcome, as it is."

"Milkshake.." Bennett's voice is soft, and a little bit incredulous. "Milkshake, are you seeing what I'm seeing? This is.." For a few seconds, the sound of her breathing behind the helmet and the blip of DRADIS pervades an unsettled silence in the bus's cockpit. "..there is no sign of an attack, whatsoever." Flick, flick as she adjusts the settings on the camera again. "No heat signatures. No nothing. It's like someone just wiped it clean. What in hades do you make of it?"

"Massive EMP?" Ygraine doesn't seem as overwhelmed by it all yet other than the fact that Libran's got a party hat full of raiders on top of it, but then, she hasn't started her full suite of readings. "Let me see what else I can get."

"Might be," Bennett murmurs, to Ygraine's first comment. "Let's also get our FTL drive spooled, while you're running the rest of those scans. Just in case we have to bug out sooner rather than later. Feeding you the coordinates.. now." Her fingers move swiftly over the keypad, and with practiced ease.

As Milkshake brings all her skills to the yard, the readouts on the screens flash in front of them both, though Ygraine has the detailed reports. While the video shows absolutely nothing out of the ordinary, the radiological scans do reveal some interesting things. There are higher-than-normal traces of gamma radiation at extremely high altitudes over the planet, the readings consistent with about a dozen or so EMP blasts across the planet — each one somewhere in the two megaton range. But the levels are low enough that they pose nearly zero threat to the population of the planet.

"Roger, Butch." The jump drive begins its warm up even as Yggy runs through her suite before she remarks softly, "Huh. Butch? Called it. The basestar's emitting a comm jam signal and bouncing it off the colony satelites." Her tone takes on a faintly hopeful tone. "Why would they bother if there wasn't anyone down there to jam against?"

"That's why I keep you around, Milkshake," answers the major with a small smile that Yggy may catch a glimpse of when she glances over her shoulder. "This is.." She whistles softly. And badly. Some people just don't got it. "..we're recording this, right? I'm also getting readings on gamma radiation— can you humour me and scan for neutron particles? I'm going to see if I can nudge us in a liiiiittle closer.."

There's silence for a few moments before she says, "Ain't a lick of neutron particles floating around out there." Her big blue eyes are wide, and they can be seen through the inner light mountedin her helmet. "They never deployed bombs. I think Libran may be occupied."

"I think I'm inclined to agree with you," replies the pilot in a near-whisper. "Okay, let's get the frak out of here." Eyes flicking to her HUD briefly, she scans through a list of sectors until she finds the one she's looking for. "Feeding you coordinates for a jump to Sagittaron. Same deal; let's play it safe and stay in high orbit. Victor Echo Lima One Alpha, thirty-seven degrees."

"That's…I don't know what that is, sir." She almost sounds a little hopeful, as Ygraine confirms that all devices are running and recording before she feeds in the coordinates for the Sagittaron jump.

Sagittaron. After the drive spool, the jump is precision and the ECO is on top of her game tonight. The flast around them fades quickly to the star field in front of them and off to starboard, over Bennett's right shoulder, is Sagittaron. Or, well, what's left of it. There are some angry, thick black clouds covering large swaths of the surface like radioactive hurricans. There's complete silence on the radios and there is absolutely no sign of any traffic around the colony - not even a patrol of Raiders to be detected. They could be on the other side of the planet, but there wouldn't be much point. If there are any survivors on this poor, exploited colony, they have little hope of detection, rescue, or survival.

If she's bothered by all this jumping, Bennett gives no indication. Again, she closes her eyes right before they blip out of existence, and drifts them open again once they re-enter normal space. "When we're done with the colonies, let's remember to swing back through the wreckage we encountered on our way in," she tells Ygraine. "See if we can sift through the distress beacons and lock onto any heat signatures." Her eyes are on the planet beyond her windscreen — what can be seen of it until she adjusts their bearing slightly. The bus streaks through the star-dotted black like a sailing ship of old. "DRADIS is clear," she murmurs after a few moments. "It looks a little bleak, but let's move in closer. Eyes and ears open."

As they sweep in closer, Ygraine's readings simply confirm what she suspected when she got the initial data. "Sagittaron is lost." she says softly. "They bombed the frak out of it. I'm detecting indications of high yield detonatins over all of the major population centers and a majority of the smaller ones. If there's anybody down there…" she trails off.

Getting in closer on brings into sharper focus the level of destruction present. The sun is just setting on Tawa, the capital city but even from 15,000 miles up no sensors are needed. The entire capital is caught in a massive firestorm that glows angrily against the creeping black of night. It would be impossible to survive an inferno like that. The suburbs even show large craters and blast areas where nuclear devices detonated. One point seven billion people, and if any of them are alive down there they probably wish they had not.

There is silence from the cockpit for a long, long while. The raptor continues on its heading, skimming the upper atmosphere like a grey spectre slipping amongst the clouds. Nobody to see them. Nobody and nothing. Finally, Bennett's voice is pitched across the cabin again, slightly husky, "Roger that, Milkshake. Let's bug out. Radiation's too thick to risk buzzing the surface. Ain't nobody alive down there." For a moment, that quirky little backwoods Virgonese lilt enters her voice. "Scorpia. High geostationary orbit again." And again she makes a few notes onto a little slide-out datapad attached to her console.

Scorpia. Jungles and coastal party cities. And one massive naval shipyard. What is still there? The flash fades and the drive spools down. Normally the first thing to be noticed is the massive fleet shipyards where construction, refueling, overhauls, and any assignment of serious work is done on more than one hundred twenty battlestars and their strike groups. To Bennett and Milkshake? There is nothing. Some slowly spinning debris is still in a rough orbit of the station, but the whole thing is just -gone-. Out and ahead, beyond where the station should be, three basestars are parked above the planet along one side, though they are all still far out of range — much like the one at Libran.

Ygraine shakes her head. "I can't…I can't get a reading. There's too much interference. If you want to get closer I can try running the scans again." The sight over Scorpia makes her bite her lip. She's going to hate to face Phin and tell him what she saw.

There may be a reason Bennett requested Scorpia. There may be a reason she's left it for last, and it may be the shipyards she'd hoped against hope to find still intact, or it may be something else entirely. Her face is a dispassionate mask; wholly unlike her usual warm disposition. "Copy that, Milkshake. Bringing us in closer. Spool FTL for an emergency hop out of here, please." Reaching up, she flicks through the settings on the PIRCS camera: infrared, thermal, terahertz, gamma. Meanwhile, she eases forward on the throttle as they streak along their approach vector. "Three mother ships to our starboard bow. Adjusting approach." This, for the benefit of the voice recorder presumably.

As soon as PIRCS comes on, it is the same setting as it had been left on from Libran. Milkshake's skills kept it calibrated just right and the first thing that appears on the screen is a distant look down across the southern hemisphere. From this angle it looks as if something sliced a massive canyon out of the main continent on the south side. A simple pan of the camera along its path and the canyon stretches across more than one hundred miles, growing deeper and wider. Debris litters the area in an ever-widening pattern, as well. When the camera finally finds the terminating end of the canyon, its not hard to guess what it is… the shipyards were deorbited across the continent and exploded throughout its high speed entry and then again as it skipped and skidded across the terrain. Coming to a rest, most of it exploded, leaving its twisting hulk ten thousand feet into the air like a sick gravesite to the hundred thousand people that probably perished in that one incident. Given the severity of the impact and the way the terrain is blasted apart, that impact alone would have levelled homes for hundreds of miles in every direction. The ships that came down with it are scatter like discarded toys across most of the southern hemisphere, their burned carcasses still bleeding out tylium fires and small explosions occasionally.

Desolation, destruction and death. Everything that logic told her she would find here, yet Bennett soldiers on with her mission. Her eyes shine with unexpressed emotion, even as a quick blink sends traceries of tears skidding along her cheek. "Multiple heat signatures from what looks like tylium fires," she speaks, again, for the benefit of the recording. Her voice is remarkably steady. "Can you triangulate some coordinates for me, Milkshake?" She brings up a map of Scorpia's southern hemisphere from the raptor's data banks, eyes scanning the cities and townships dabbled along (mainly) the coastline. It may be almost too soft for Ygraine to hear when she mutters, "Kopira, Kopira.."

As they drifted closer to the Colony to get a better view, they can get a better picture of the situation. But some of those explosion across the northern hemispehre.. aren't. As they move closer it becomes apparent that the intermittent flashes are actually FTL cores of ships jumping away or arriving. There's no radio traffic, though. But those definitely aren't basestars. In fact, they sort of resemble civilian freighters and passenger transports. Bennett can probably just make out the details on one when there is a much /larger/ flash and one of the basestars jumps away. ..Then the other two start drifting towards the Raptor. There's a gentle -beep- in their helmets as a missile system scans and tracks them, preparing to lock.

"Sir - sir, I'm sorry." Ygraine looks a bit like kicked puppy to have to deliver this news. "There are remnants of a valkyrie class battlestar collision into the coastline and it blew everything off the landscape for almost a hundred miles. Kopira is gone…" suddenlly she lets out a gasp. "Sir, there's a raider lock on us, we need to go!"

Bennett's heart may well skip a beat when she hears that deceptively soft tone in her ear. It's maddening to come so far, so far, only to have to turn tail and run. "Looks like we got their attention," she murmurs, eyes on the 'MISSILE LOCK DETECTED' warning light winking on and off on her console, casting a bright red sheen across her cheek where it refracts off her helmet. "Launch one of the decoys and spool FTL. I'll try to play hide and seek in this mess, see if they lose our signal." And she does; the bus's powerful engines come to life as the pilot angles for the worst of the floating wreckage while she awaits the jump.

"Already on it, sir." That's what the sort of sympatico that the right partner means; Ygraine is on the ball enough to know what Bennett's going to ask her before it comes out of her mouth. "Spooling drive in progress, sir. We should be good to go shortly as long as you can keep us alive. Deploying decoy now."

And the decoy pops out and instantly the beep ceases. Drifting around at the edge of detection, the basestar locks onto the decoy and fires. As the decoy fires off on another trajectory, the missile from the basestar tracks towards it and plainly away from the Raptor. It won't even pass close.

"Set the timer for two minutes, Milkshake." Bennett reaches over to tap, tap, tap some commands into a keypad on a console behind Ygraine, then hits the 'confirm' button. Bleeeep. Thunk. "Deploying a communications drone to the following coordinates, sleep setting delta." Meaning it'll come online for relatively short periods of time to transmit, then go radio silent for the remainder of the day. "All right, let's get out of here." She releases the flight yoke and flexes her gloved hand, eyes riveted to the 'UNKNOWNS' pinging away on DRADIS.

The drive spools just after the drone falls off the Raptor and the notification scrolls across Milkshake's screen. One entry of coordinates and a button press later, and there's a whirring sound just as the Raptor jumps away. A bright flash of light and the Raptor begins its first leg home as that missile explodes light years behind it at the mid-orbit of Scorpia.

The communications drone, fired off at the last minute on a swift descent toward that cluster of bunkers in Scorpia's southern hemisphere, is sent with a message that Ygraine might well see on the screen behind her. A message that was clearly pre-set, as there isn't a chance the pilot had time to type it all out before releasing the drone. The screen reads:

Shed down a kindly ray from above upon my life,
and strength of war, that I may be able to drive away
bitter cowardice from my head and crush down
the deceitful impulses of my soul.
Restrain also the keen fury of my heart
which provokes me to tread the ways of blood-curdling strife.
Rather, oh blessed one, give you me boldness to abide
within the harmless laws of peace,
avoiding strife and hatred and the violent fiends of death.

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