MD #235: Unofficial pre-mission briefing
MD #235: Unofficial pre-mission briefing
Summary: Vogue, Sparky, Timber & Diaz talk about the upcoming mission. Violet joins later and some existential topics are covered.
Date: Wed 29/Nov/2017 (OOC Date)
Related Logs:
Ben Diaz Donovan Idris Melissa 
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 very large 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. The screens of the old days are still there but rarely used, and in each helmet the crews see a projected hyper-realistic depiction of the combat environment and what their cockpits look like with any incurred damage. There are two Vipers, two Predators, and two full-cabin Raptors available.
Sat 16/Jun/2049 (IC Date)

Bells and whistles are going off in the Predator and the door opens. Ben is cussing up a storm, pulling off his visor. He wants to throw the thing but has to much respect for the insterment and sets it in it's craddle gengerly. "Frak Frak'n Fraker!" He expells as he leaves the unit. "Bottemed out on a frak'n cliff overhand. Two hundred feet, two hundred feet, but no, this idiot thinks he can hug the canopy." He roars out a scream. Yes, he crashed.

Carrying her helmet tucked into the crook of her right arm, Diaz has one foot almost on the deck just over the lip of the hatch when Timber starts shouting from within one of the Predator training bays. There's a brief, very brief, moment of hesitation before the viper pilot continues forward until she can get a look at one of the large screens that displays the end of the training run. "Temper," she remarks in a tone that is more assessing than critical.

Diaz has hardly stepped in when the Model Ten is followed by the Lucky Strikes Squadron Leader. Captain Bloodfeather, aka 'Vogue' carries his own helmet and is suited up. His own dark eyes at once go to seek out Cross to see if there is any sign of marker scrawled on Ben's forehead as promised. There is a very slight less than crisp appearance to Vogue who no doubt had to be introduced to hangover pills after last night's debacle. The Captain sort of looks like he slept on his own face.

Ben snaps to attention and salutes. He stops his bickering about his crash and wishes he reset the machine before stepping out, leaving the flashing lights and alarm bells of his vertual demize.

Donovan is sitting across the room by one of the sims. He is looking over some the Golf mission data and is running math both in his head and on his flight board for fuel burn and maneuvering rates…

Setting her helmet aside as she taps at a series of keys to reset the training sim, Diaz pats Ben on the shoulder once the alarms, bells & whistles all stop making the sounds they make at the obnoxious decibel. The Viper pilot turns when Ben does and, as the most junior officer in the room, braces to attention as well after angling a nod toward Sparky as well.

Idris lifts a hand to his slightly aching head, "At you were. Except for the yelling, please." Let's not make the Captain Cross, Ben. Vogue sets his helmet down and leans against a Viper cockpit frame, "Those of you who have been accepted for the upcoming mission have received your briefing materials. Before we begin the sim, do you have any questions?"

Donovan gets to his feet, dropping his flight board in the process. "Sorry sir, didn't see you enter." he apologizes and then nods. "Pre-mission packet, yes sir." he then starts looking around for his flight board and his helmet. "Honest… the next time I think about drinking, someone needs to just shoot me." he mutters to himself. At least the mission is not today.

Ben accually relaxes instead of going to parade rest, walking over to the machine he was in and pulling his jacket for the mission and says, "Yes Sir. I was noticing our prefered ingress path and found another path that would shorten it. Cut it by fifty some miles." He opens the brief to show the map. "See how we wind down this valley heading South on the Galil run, it angles East. Well, there is a strait shot fourty miles into the Eastward path, just twenty miles before we angle South again, that would shoot us Northeast through another open valley area." He points his finger at the huge openning just before the bend southward. "If we shot up through there, we could angle back on course to begins the run." He looks at the faces of those around, "It would concerve fuel and make our ingress shorter."

"I think there's something in the regs against shooting fellow officers," Diaz remarks in a low tone of voice to Sparky before Timber outlines a potential way to cut down on the fuel cost and decrease the flight time. "Captain, do we have any way of knowing what sort of weather we'll be flying through?" making a question of it as she eyes the display that Ben has opened up.

Donovan tugs a grimace out of Idris, "I have learned to drink whiskey with much greater moderation myself." Idris looks to Ben and steps over to have a look at the map and the proposed shorter flight path. Bloodfeather traces his finger along that line and frowns, "I see where you mean, but it also requires our flying at a higher elevation to clear this brief span of mountains. I believe our route choices are intended to keep us well below radar. We'll have to fly in low and fast. Very low." His dark eyes flick back to the Raptor pilot, "You can put it past the CAG but I expect it was not an over sight, Timber." The Captain turns his head at what Diaz says. "I wish that were true. However, each and every one of us has to be prepared to do just that on this mission. Shoot our fellow officers. I remind you that we can /not/ allow our ECO's to be captured." Idris gives a negative movement of his head, "I do not yet have a meterological report for the op, nor the season. The altitudes suggests some portions will likely be through heavy cloud or mist, relying on instruments."

Donovan looks over towards the discussion. "Fuel costs are more or less irrelevant…" he says, walking over a little closer. "We are doing ditch or destroy on this run… the ships aren't coming back." he says. "So… if we have enough to make the run then we are good… a little extra fuel ensures the frames will burn." he says. "We also might want to go over setting charges and thermite for anyone that wants to land versus ditch…" he suggests. "G-pods are good, cook off the remaining ammo in the magazines." he says rubbing his chin.

Ben nods, "I tried it, and crashed. Higher alttidude would be requred for that altercation. I understand." He listens to the rest and nods his affermitive. He remains quiet from this moment on to listen to the others, waiting for the chance to get back in the cockpit.

"Aye sir," Diaz's reply is paired with a frown, "though there's something to be said about how against-the-grain it is to plan to ditch a perfectly good vehicle instead of bringing it back to the deck in one piece." She angles a sidelong glance toward Sparky, "Could we rig delayed detonators to go off? for those that DO land it in one place and manage to do so in a strategic location, an explosion keyed at the right time could sew even more chaos," she puts this idea into the mix while turning back to the display and making a quiet hum of sound at Timber's suggestion. "Heavy enough on fuel to get us to Point A without having to factor in the return fuel cost or the additional factor of being heavier going out than we were going in, if we were bringing back extra personnel with us. So the fuel isn't going to be the issue of the equation. The weather pattern will be what ever it is as we drop through it, so that - while a safety factor - will only come into play if we're having to engage the enemy while manouvering for the infil. Estimated time on target from insertion point to ejection point, sir?"

"No." Says the Captain to Diaz, "Because we need to ditch the Predators as close to the Rhino's DZ as we reasonably can. You will not wish to have to place your airframe within the city and then try to trek 100 miles on foot in a very limited time window." Bloodfeather nods to Donovan, "Yes, we'll need the Marine EOD team and Deck to instruct us how to use, and where to best place, the thermite grenades. Ditching our aircraft is trickier because it does not guarantee suitable destruction by crashing alone. We do not desire to let these people salvage our tech." Idris looks back to Diaz and supplies the time estimate, "That of course pending how far out you land or ditch. We need to be close but not /too/ close to endanger the Rhino or those trying to get to it on foot. We should in fact choose the locations on the map where each of us will attempt to leave our airframes so not to interfer with one another once grounded."

Ben doesn't have the escape landing area on his maps and closes up his brief to lean over to see the view of what is brought up. He was so focussed on the attack, he forgot to ask about the escape off that world. City, meaning more haters. What they are planning to do will stir the hornets nest for sure. He studies the specs given.

Donovan nods and he makes a note on his flight board to get with Deck and EOD to let them know that there is going to be some need of their skills. He looks back towards the planning map and he takes a long deep breath. "Gonna be a hell of a mission… that's safe to say." he looks at the other pilots. "One for the history books." he grins. "And if we do it right… the training manuals."

"If we live through it." Idris pulls one of the other maps up on his dataslate and sets it to projection. "When you look at the overall city layout here, you can see these two airfields as well as the SAM's. We won't hit much flying in if we indeed succeed with the element of surprise, as planned. But getting out again to reach our DZ to meet up with the Rhino is going to be difficult. This northern airfield here is a combat field." The Captain looks to his fellow pilots, "I have already flown against these Haters and their version of our Vipers are tough. They hit is hard with IR beams and other unknowns that made it impossible to use our missiles. Lost DRADIS as well as most instruments, leaving us blind and having little more than engine power, KEW, and our own eyes." A slow breath, "I'll foward each of you the mission gun footage from that engagement. I suggest you study it to be forwarned what we'll be up against."

Idris adds as he looks at the map, "Remember, Predators are not Vipers. They manuver like a brick, and are piss poor at air combat. They are going to chew us up and send us down. We'll be lucky if we can reach the DZ before we are forced to eject or crash."

Ben smirks slightly. "The Golf 51 exchange." His smile grows. He listens carefully to the Captain and takes notes himself for the landing escape route. He still seems bugged however. He flew first encounter to that world where they made contact with the team on the ground. "Where is the prison?" He opens his own brief back up to look at the city map. Not seeing what he saw the first time. Sure these are nice targets if they are in fact stratigic to the planet, but the center building to the prison was what was asked to be blown up. Walls around a central building, where slave labor makes thier flying machines. He looks at the Captain, "When flew in that first time to make contact, they where in the mountains just off a hugs walled in prison with a central building. The voice on the other end wanted us to blow that up. I don't see it on the map." He turns to the maps.

Diaz seems to be mulling over the data as more of it is outlined and allows a bit of a smile to form on her face, "Just because I could cover that 100 miles faster than the rest of you is not reason to make it a foot race." This said she then glances from face to face, "I don't have any way of knowing if they have line members or clerics on ground, but if they do, then you all have the same risk. Don't let any of them touch you, skin to skin. And if you see one who looks like me, but isn't, don't hesitate to shoot first and let the civilians dirt side riddle their way through the remains on their own."

Captain Bloodfeather traces the perimeter of the city map, "This /is/ the prison. The entire city is the prison, as far as I understand. And these are the walls forming a great circle all around. Some of these spokes are roads, some are additional walls I think. It's hard to tell from these shots because we couldn't get in close for better detail. Our recon Raptors have had to jump in, hide behind the moon, get what they could from a distance, and then jump back out fast before detection."

Idris adds, "This isn't an official briefing so keep these questions in mind to put to the CAG."

Ben nods, "I know. I flew that mission. Those are my pics." He looks to the side and says, "Okay, I see the mountain range. Didn't relize I was tight on the shot." He nods and pulls a breath. "Thanks Captain." He seems a bit more at ease now.

Idris looks to Ben, "I think they have used software to try and heighten detail and resolution. That is apt to make everything look different and change the visual contrast." Goodness knows what else they subjected the data to in order to extract details on the site. Captain Bloodfeather checks his chrono and steps over to pick up his helmet, "Now, hit the sims and practice flying Predators. I'll join you in the next few days doing our mission prep together. Until then, I have CAP starting in thirty minutes."

"We need to pick target LZ's to put our birds down that won't have any of us trapped behind any walls like rats in a maze," Diaz remarks as she eyes the recon image again and takes a pencil out of one pocket before she pauses and nods to the Captain. "Aye sir, will do."

Ben looks at Diaz and then back to the map. He points the line of escape, "Everything up here on our way out is wall free. The Rhino hopes to pick up the contact that broadcast from these mountains. I honesly hope they're friendlies. Something we have to deal with when it happens." He looks to the Captain, "We going to eye washed so we can understand the language again?" He remembers the first time and how it stung for a while.

The Captain stops at the hatch before he steps out. A nod to Diaz, "The DZ is a hundred miles past those walls." Then he looks to Ben, "I've never used the razor to learn Arpay. I'm not aware there is a razor program to learn either the Hater's language or these other people who speak a form of our own Colonial. If there is you'll have to direct that question to the CAG." With that, Idris steps out into the corridor to head for the hangar before he might be late.

Once the captain and Timber take leave to run the next CAP, Diaz opens her own copy of the mission packet and takes a seat beside the computer bank while another group of pilots is completing the training run currently in progress. The Viper pilot has a pencil in one hand and is tapping the edge of it against the map that's (handily) been pre-marked with the pertinent details. There's a pensive sort of look on the Ten's face, pensive plus lingering affects of a unfriendly hangover combines to make the pilot look more grumpy than pensive, though the latter is genuine and the former is just circumstantial.

Hatch open, hatch closed. The woman walking in is quite familiar. Melissa slow-pokes her way on over towards the control console, cup of coffee in hand. She's in her flightsuit, but unzipped with her sleeves wrapped around her hips. "Oh no, a Ten," she moans in exaggeration. "And the worst of all of them!" She wanders up behind Diaz, puts a hand to her shoulder, and plants a kiss on the crown of her head. "Mwah. How you doin, girlie?" she asks, moving to plop down in a chair beside. "Anything exciting in the simulators?"

Looking up from the aerial photo she's tapping the edge of the pencil against, Diaz's frowny face turns toward a smile instead as Violet drops into the chair alongside hers. "I am the worst of them, this is true. There is facts, data, and some long winded analysis to support this statement. I could give you a flow chart, if you'd like," she offers in a tone of voice that conveys just the right amount of sincerity and earnestness to be -almost- convincing before she grins then wags the end of the pencil toward the screen. "Timber was shouting at his sim run crash and burn, earlier, but that's pretty much it, excitement wise."

"Only flow charts I'm interested in are the ones counting the amount of my alcohol intake lately." Melissa mutters that little bit. Maybe a touch hungover, too. She sips the coffee for good measure. "That'll happen. If you ever feel inclined, check out the old sim logs for the Second War. Someone saved them, and also plugged in the actual missions in some cases. I was looking at one of my momma's the other night." She crosses her legs and sits back. "Got my notice. I'm on the mission for Saturday. You?"

"On standby," Diaz replies even as she taps the end of the pencil against the printed page again. "Just in case. Did you know that there's a whole lexicon of sports analogies that can be applied, interchangeable, as military terms? Standby isn't really one, but relief pitcher would be one, or second string. Though I don't understand what a first string is, but I'm pestering the crewman in the library, he promised to find me some more books on the topic. But yes, I'm on standby."

"You ain't second string, Diaz. Nothin' about you is 'second string' even if you wanted to be. I expect that the CAG is waiting until the last minute to decide. We're brass heavy on the strike, if the rumors are true. Someone may be asked to step back. Three experienced squadron leaders, the DCAG, and the CAG. That's a whole basket of eggs." No kidding. Melissa sips the mug again and runs a hand through her hair, fingertips scratching it out a little. "Second string is a term that means you are second choice. Like if your sports team is facing the best in the league, you want your first string players out there on the field. Best foot forward. Second string are your backups." Her hands drop to her lap, mug set aside. "Its like I've been telling people recently, you don't need rank to lead or have skill. You just have to be cool and professional. We both took a fall. We've got a duty to take it like pro's and set the example. You only stop being first string when you behave like second string."

Diaz points the eraser end of the pencil at Mels and grins, "See? That makes sense. They ought to let you be the one who writes up the new books to explain history of what really happened in all of this when we finish this and melt all the Skath down into metal slag and dump it into the biggest star we can jettison slag into. Just in case, I mean. I don't trust that hacked off bits of Skath armor aren't capable of merging to make a new walker body to manipulate around. Best to melt it into slag, I mean," the ten exhales a breath before she focuses again and gives a slow tip of a nod. "I don't mind being second choice or tenth, actually, as long as I have the same rights and free will as everyone else. My mistakes are my own, not those of my entire line. And that.. it remarkably freeing, idea wise. We aren't our lines, and we aren't the sum of the decisions of our parents either, I suppose."

Donovan returns to the sims after a little break. "Ok, so thrust to weight is is going to change by the…" he is muttering to himself and looking over some new data. "Center of gravity for the… much much different than a Viper and top speed… that's going to be… frak… forgot to account for the added ordnance." he makes another note on his flight board. He looks up. "Oh… hey Violet." he says to Melissa and offers a nod to Diaz again. "This is…" he shakes his head. "To say dicey… would be generous." he takes a deep breath. "But there it is…" He adds another note about body armor and small arms for the crews in case they end up ground side sooner than expected. Additional medical to boot. He absently takes a sip of his coffee before looking up once more at the ladies.

Melissa laughs a little, nodding. She sips the coffee again while she listens, replacing it on the desk and leaning back in the reclining chair. "Personally? I'd rather melt them down into bullets for our guns to kill more Skath with. Make bomb casings out of them. I bet they'd make great armor piercing tips on either one." She browwaggles at the suggestion. A little Wescott aggression creeping in. "You've got no rights in the military. Same as the rest of us. You're bound. But the thing about mistakes is owning them. Professional pilots, leaders… they don't hide their shit that's already public. You make it a teachable point after you've taken your licks. What I did will follow me forever. I don't have to like it, but accepting it is part and parcel. And I imagine that packs in neatly with what you are saying about being your own individual. Some other Ten didn't do what you did. You don't have to wear it like a badge, but.." Its part of who she is now.
Seeing Donovan come on over, she lifts her mug to him. Off duty JG is off duty, so she doesn't salute or stand. "Sir. You on the mission roster for Operation Payback?"

"The definition of a Predator, according to the engineers, is 'A flying brick that is blind in one eye and has all the maneuvering agility of a garbage scow that is over loaded with weaponry that adds to the drag and further decrease response time', Diaz helpfully defines for Donovan's computations, in a tone of voice that suggests she finds this description to be both accurate and oddly entertaining. "What's a garbage scow?" is wondered before she turns and smiles at Melissa. "But.. I did volunteer and worked very hard just to be eligible to apply to fly school in the first place, so by that very act it is still an exercise of free will. Plus, missions like this are volunteer only, so that's another example of same." She tucks the pencil above one ear as she leans back in the chair, resting one shoulder against the empty chair to her other side. "I made a decision that was both right and wrong, moral and ethical, career and profession, oath and promise. Right and wrong. But it was a decision I was free to make, and equally - as result - bound to the consequences of. Just like this thing that we're in the planning of. There's no way to know the consequences if we do this and succeed, or worse, don't."

"You ever ride horses, Diaz?" Melissa is assuming not. "You got your trained stallions. Thoroughbreds. They do everything you want, flick of the wrist or kick to the haunches. When you get a pony that's wild? And you get it to trust you? She will run faster and farther and harder than any dignified horse. The mistake people bring to it is that they want the new pony to behave like the one's they know. They forget that each one has its one personality and quirks. You gotta show it love and finesse. Give as good as you get. A horse, like a Pred, isn't going to respect you unless you show it respect first. You can approach it like a brick with engines if you want, but she'll buck you every step of the way." Down home folksy advice from the girl that lived too long (apparently) on her family's ranch. "As for the decision? I don't understand why you did it. Honestly, I don't want to. Not because I hate it, but because I like not knowing. You've got your reasons. I'm okay with that. I beat that dude to shit for my own reasons. Not exactly proud of it, but there it is. But as far as this strike goes? I just hope we are doing the right thing. We have no idea if we are."

Shaking her head slightly, "No, I never really had a chance to, myself. I've seen it, and my mentor shared some memories of having done so. It feels somehow wrong to ride around on another being that has thoughts and feelings of it's own, it's why I prefer not to eat meat when ever I can avoid it," Diaz confesses as she shakes her head slowly. "They're beautiful, though. Horses, I mean. I wouldn't want to ride around on a cow either, for that matter, or a deer. You know mule deer can be as big as a horse?" She angles her head slightly again, nodding now. "I've never hurt anyone, on purpose, of my own accord, my own free will, outside of combat. I tried sparring a few weeks back, and I accidentally broke the nose of the Master at Arms. I didn't mean to," she hastily adds. "He'd been sparring with Timber, and I didn't factor in the right amount of applicable force. This thing, this mission, if we land wrong and are in danger of being captured, we have to kill our ECO's."

"Riding a horse at full throttle is like flying a Pred with no cockpit. Most of your hair is lagging behind. Leaned forward, squatting in your stirrups?" Obviously a happy memory. "I'm okay if you ever want to see that memory. Feel it. But it feels like freedom. And you can't look at it like you own that being. You can legally own a horse, sure, but it with whatever. But the horse is never really yours unless you develop something symbiotic with it. Horses love to run. You pen up a horse and just feed it? It'll wither. Its like a dog. You don't ride a dog, but you love it and it loves you. Horses will show you affection if you treat 'em right. That's hard-won love. You can have deep conversations and understanding with them, you just don't talk. Actions." She picks up the cup and sways it a little. "And are we talkin' about Predators or horses? Because there's no difference. Every ship has its own quirks and personality. I've got my favorite Raptor. We get each other. It doesn't have to have a brain to mesh well." The mug gets a sip. "Hurting people isn't bad. Sometimes you need to. Combat is hurting people. And sometimes you just get to a point where you say enough is enough. You've already done that, probably hurt some people on a non-physical level. Stood your ground, though. And don't sweat the ECO thing. If it happens, and you're about to be taken? Don't think. Don't talk about it. Just do it. I got shot down with Casey on Calumet. Nearly froze and starved to death. We never talked about it, I tried not to think about it. But it was there."

"I've never had a horse, or a dog, for that matter. I did have a fish, once, but they live such fleeting and short lives, it's hard to really form a bond," Diaz replies in that to serious tone of voice that conveys how much she's actually thinking about what she's saying, putting thought into words. Her head tips slightly again, "Really? Most humans are so very.. and very reasonably, to be sure, touchy about their privacy. I'd like that," she admits. "It sounds fascinating." She makes that hum of sound again, "I love vipers. I love how fast, sleek, aerodynamic, lightning in a bottle. That's the phrase. Lightning in a bottle. So twisty turvy and death defying. If only there were a way to link directly to the sys-op of the Viper," and she exhales a regretful sigh, "there'd be no delay between decision, reflex and response." She's silent for a moment then, removing the pencil from where she'd tucked it above one ear, "It's about Trust, ultimately, isn't it? There's no real way to prepare for this, in flight school."

"Sure. I've dealt with enough bullshit in my life with my mom to know how it feels to feel isolated and adrift. Wanting. I doubt you want to see anything more than what I might try and conjure for you. Let me know when. You might better understand what I'm gettin' at about horses and Preds." Melissa isn't shy about the smile, either. "And don't say 'most humans' because that sounds like you aren't one. Like first string, you stop being one when you don't behave like one." A slid wink with it before she drinks more coffee. The point about Vipers gets a slow nod and she leans forward. "It is about trust, yeah. You trust your Viper, like the people above, below, and around you. No choice. But if they uphold that trust, then they deserve the respect. Flight school just teaches you how to fly. The rest is just being human and immersing yourself. A single stick is weak. A bundle of sticks is strong."

"It's a polyhedron," Diaz replies as she balances the pencil on the back of her hand. "I remember, and I am. I remember being .. and I remember doing.. and I remember having a voice that was mine, but not entirely. Close but not quite. I am and I am not, and when I feel like I am less than human or something aside from human, then I remember." She smiles over at Mels, "I look in the mirror and see shades of other faces looking back through the years; faces that are mine but not. I see the shape of memory, of decisions made and decisions taken. By blood and by choice, by action and inaction, we make ourselves of what we do, and why. I am human, and I decide to be human again and again. It's not a single decision, but then, what really ever is?"

Melissa listens with a growing smile, still leaned forward a bit. "There it is. Every day you look in the mirror and decide you can be your own person. You're not beholden to anything unless you decide to be. And if someone talks shit to your face about another Ten? Starts going on? You may not remember it, but it hits home. Get angry?" Melissa settles back in the chair. "Every day I wake up and look in the mirror. After meeting my momma again? I look like her, but older. I can't help but see her staring back at me. All the things I've heard, all the things I know. Other things I don't. I don't know if you feel the same?" She sighs, looking away, then back. "I make a choice every morning to be me. Not her. But when I see my face in the mirror? My eyes? I see momma looking back, watching. She's gone but I don't feel like she is. Maybe you feel that about other Tens. But what you feel isn't inhuman. Its very human. Your past and your blood family? It doesn't matter unless, like you said, you want it to."

"It must be reassuring to look into the mirror and see her eyes," Diaz says softly. "To see her eyes, the color, the shape, and know that a part of her remains in you. Getting older, seeing the change in the shape of your face, the look in your eyes, the years and the experience, the life? All of those things? The memories that you build, year after year, decision after decision, you carry that part of her with you. And someday if you have kids, maybe the same shade of eye color will carry forward. Yes, our appearance is as much a genetic grab bag as a hand of playing cards. But that smile," Diaz gestures with the eraser end of the pencil toward Mels, "is the same smile that your grandmother once wore, and so on and so forth, that lured your grandfather to the fate that is you. The curve of your mouth, the line of your jaw, the plane of bone and all the rest? So much carries forward that the ghost of who we were and the shape of who we are, they become unique and still, the ghost that was lingers. But it's not a ghost to be afraid of. It matters, the good decisions and the bad ones, especially the ones that weren't mine. Knowing what we're not is as important as knowing what we are, right? I'm a viper pilot. That's the very first thing I think of when someone asks me what I am. I'm a pilot. Everything else? I can figure the rest out as I go along."

Melissa looks down as Diaz goes on about how nice it must be. Everything that it carries. "If I ever get around to a family, they will hear the good points about momma. I know more than I ever wanted to about her, mostly from sources I'd rather not wish I'd heard from." She sips the mug and her jaw works like she is trying to chew before she speaks, "Momma was a bit amawus…" She twitches, a bit of shame. For how she pronounces 'amaorous' or for the topic? Its a child's way of speaking, an old note forward that still tugs. Melissa does her best to fight through it, "I look in the miwwow and see.. miwr. miwrorrr." She forces her eyes closed and takes a breath, "Rambling Raptors Rumble Down Runways," is whispered to herself in concentration. Three times. "Mirrors. I look in the mirror. I see the weight of who she was and her darkness. And my own. A lot of things carry over. We can just fight to be our own person. We're a prisoner of our desires if we aren't strong enough to fight them. Who we are, who we want to be, its a matter of fight. You will be a Viper pilot as your identity as long as you want to hold it. Its easier for some, harder for others. All you can do is go forward and lead with your fist. Fight for it every day."

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