Flight Test
Flight Test
Summary: It was all going so well for Mac, until that landing…
Date: PHD 55
Related Logs: Related Logs None

Kai is practicing his loitering by the stairwell, cup of coffee in one hand, helmet dangled by its straps in the other, while he watches deck crew swarm a raptor under repairs.

After a last cigarette and perhaps a bit too much tea to calm the nerves, Cygnus is as ready as he's ever going to be for the upcoming flight test. Already attired in a flight suit, he strolls into the bay, eyes drinking in the neat rows of Vipers. It's been too long since he's had the chance to fly one, which makes this day special above others. That's a certain fact. With Marek hovering near the stairs, it's not a suprise when the first thing that pops out of Mac's mouth is, "Good afternoon, Sir."

The Captain, depending on how close Cygnus actually gets, also smells very faintly of nicotine. He probably finished off his own smoke, not too long before making his way down here. "Lieutenant," he greets with a 'salute' of his coffee cup, before draining the last of it. His eyes flicker over the man, up and down and up again, before shifting away. "Ready to roll?"

The up and down glance is noted and filed away in the back of Cygnus' mind before he answers with a grin, "Never been more ready, Sir." As if to underscore the words, he lifts the hand that's bearing a helmet in indication of that fact. He's definitely cleaned up; no hints or traces of eyeliner or nail polish, and the tight, neat ponytail his hair is worn in has been tucked down the back of his flight suit. He's here to fly, not attempt to make waves. "It's going to feel good to get back out there, honestly."

Kai is already moving off, before Cygnus is even finished speaking. Likely, it was a rhetorical question. "I'm going to take you through a few basic maneuvers to start off: yo-yos, nose to tails, then we're going to take a look at your pursuit curves in a dogfight." His coffee cup is slid onto a small table he passes, and he veers off toward his own viper with a clang of boots on the deck.

Nothing Mac wasn't expecting. "Yes, Sir." A deep breath is inhaled and expelled as his own feet carry Cygnus in the direction of one of the Vipers. For a moment, the priest-pilot merely stands there. One of those reverent moments that sort of hang in time, and a hand reaches out to slide whisper-light along the metal of the bird's nose. Respect, colored by a tinge of awe would be a good description of his expression, before an icy calm aura seems to settle around him.

The deck, of course, continues moving at its frenetic pace. There's a crew just finishing up with the two vipers, which needed to be refueled and checklisted. Kai isn't wasting any time; he's already finished his walkaround and is scaling the ladder so he can initiate his pre-flight. One or two things are called attention to, sending a mechanic jogging over to make a last-minute adjustment.

Quiet moment of communion between man and machine appears to be over, and Mac begins his own walkaround of the bird he's been assigned, and he stops for a moment to check over the checklist with one of the deck crew. Then it's up the ladder so that Cygnus can settle himself into his cockpit. All business, his gloves are tugged on and adjusted before the various instrumentation is flipped through and triple checked in his own pre-flight routine.

Kai climbs into Wolf-2.

You climb into Wolf-3.

[Wolf-2: Kai] Pre-flight complete, thumbs-up given through the descending canopy, Kai tugs on his helmet and starts powering up systems while his bird's towed to the launch tubes. "Form up on me once you get up," he explains over his comm, "and we'll go from there."

[Wolf-3: Cygnus] The thumbs up is returned from inside Wolf-3 as likewise, Cygnus reaches for and pulls on his helmet, taking a moment to adjust it before strapping himself in. Fingers drift over switches and instruments as the Viper is powered up and Mac replies over the comm, "Roger that, Sir." As they're towed along into the tubes, a quiet prayer gets murmured, "Enyalios, Lord of War and Death, steel Your sons for Battle. Lend them Your strength."

[Wolf-2: Kai] Aaaaand they're off! Kai's first into the tubes, viper propelled along the rails with a shudder, and then a growl as he crests the lip and his afterburners light up. He maneuvers away from the slowly-spinning carrier, throttling back to let his wingmate catch up.

Wolf-3: Cygnus] It feels like one of those perfect moments in time as Cygnus' bird is hurtled down the tubes and bursts into space. Flight. For the first time in months, and it's bliss. Too bad there's really no time to relish that sensation. There's an oddly sublime mix of excitement and calm as he quickly gets a feel for this ship's particular stick and eases himself into formation off his wing-leader's side.

The funny thing about the sevens is, they've been modified pretty heavily. Cygnus will no doubt find a few things that are simply.. off. Things that used to happen automatically, now require supervision and manual adjustment. The stick's a little more sensitive, like a mark two; the handling heavier. Spider veers off once they're in formation, headed out away from the ship and its current CAP. The frequency of a private comms band is given, and then switched to. "All right, Cygnus, let's take a look at your pursuit curves. I'm going to defend, you're going to attack. Give me a low speed yo-yo." That is, the attacker gives chase, with a maneuver to get into a firing position behind the defender.

[Wolf-2: Kai] Kai adds at the end of that, "Don't forget to switch your weapons to training."

Once he's switched to the private frequency Cygnus affirms, "Roger that, Lead. Weapons set to training already." No amount of sim time spent on the Mark II's is quite enough to compensate for the real world changes made to the models, and that, coupled with his general rustiness work together to ensure that trying to get a maneuver over on the Squadron Commander is going to be pretty next to impossible. Despite the attempt to tuck in behind the other Viper, he can't seem to get a firing solution. Deep breath in, deep breath out, and Mac's calm is maintained, accompanied by a renewed sense of focus.

[Wolf-2: Kai] Spider opens up his 'burners and pulls ahead smoothly as they fall into a pursuit pattern. Nothing fancy for the time being, just a steady hand on the stick— and the benefit of having had time to grow accustomed to the mark sevens' modifications, sure doesn't hurt. Weaving away from the chasing viper, Kai pours on a little tylium at the end of his curve. His voice crackles over the comms a moment later, "Remember to break low, then punch it before you lose your inertia coming out of the turn. The stick's going to feel different, don't fight it. Let's go again."

[Wolf-3: Cygnus] "It does feel different. Moreso than I expected. The sims don't quite account for it all." Of course, that would be why they're called sims. The advice seems to do the trick though, and allows Mac to adapt to the difference well enough to send his bird into a graceful roll in his persuit of Spider. Patience, patience, at just the right moment, Cygnus kicks in the burn and shifts into position directly on his prey's tail. "Wow," Is breathed into the coms, "that really makes a difference, doesn't it?"

[Wolf-2: Kai] Spider gives a little wing-waggle, pilotspeak perhaps for 'good job'. Which he corroborates over the comms a moment later, "That looked much better. We'll try a high-speed yo-yo this time. I'll be coming a lot faster out of the gate, so you're going to need to adjust your pursuit curve accordingly. Remember to go shallow." He break turns sharply away, and guns his engines in a triple flare of white-hot tylium. Zoooom.

[Wolf-3: Cygnus] And away they go. "Copy that, Lead. Just watch your tail, Sir, because I plan to be on it." Now? Now things are starting to feel just about right to Cygnus. Prophet reborn, now that he's got a feel for the stick again, and the model's new adjustments. The words aren't so much bluster as they are the returning of calm confidence in his own abilities. The addition of speed doesn't phase the pilot and he kicks in the burn to hightail it right after Kai. His bird tracks a shallower turn than his target's and were he flying against a lesser skilled pilot, Mac would have easily slotted right into position on his tail. Spider, on the other hand, is proving a /far/ more elusive foe, and Cygnus just can't quite seem to register a clear firing solution.

[Wolf-2: Kai] Credit surely goes to Cygnus for being able to keep up at all, as the squad leader starts pulling tricks out of his ass. This one's a beautiful little swallowtail dive, fighter twisting and corkscrewing effortlessly as he plunges and weaves. "Not bad," comes his assessment over the comms, a few moments after they've burned out of the turn. By the way he says it, he probably means a hell of lot more than 'not bad'. But that's just the way Kai rolls. "All right, give me a nose to tail, merge into a scissors, weapons free this time. See if you can score a shot." And away he goes again, to set up the pursuit.

[Wolf-3: Cygnus] "Copy, Lead. Going weapons free." Now they've hit the big leagues, and the 'hunter' side of Cygnus' personality has taken hold. Namely cool, calm, collected, and above all? Patient. A series of twists and turns give way to another all in a concentrated effort to maneuver himself through the ordered moves to aquire a solution on Kai's tail. Which somehow, Mac manages. There's still a touch of rust there around the edges, as he runs up against and discovers more of the Seven's changes. The controlled burst of fire goes wide, missing entirely as the other Viper easily outmaneuvers away again. Which leaves Cygnus in awe for a split second of the Captain's abilities. "Damned good flying, Sir, if I may say so."

[Wolf-2: Kai] "You're not doing so badly yourself. Thought for sure you'd have upchucked your lunch and asked for an RTB by now." Kai might be smiling. But probably not. After that little romp through the skies, he flips his own weapons to the 'on' position, and swings into a smooth pitchback to maneuver into the attacking position. "All right, this time I'm going to chase, and you're going to try to shake me off your ass. I'll try not to swap any paint."

[Wolf-3: Cygnus] Cygnus chuckles into the comms, "I'm holding it down, after all, I've waiting months to feel a bird underneath me again. Puking can wait until after." Maybe a bit less talk, and more flying is in order because on the defensive side of things, Mac doesn't seem to be doing so well at first. The timing on the punch is off, and he loses some speed when he comes out of his turn, which will likely make it far too easy for Kai to slot himself in right on Mac's tail.

Well, even squad leaders aren't perfect. Kai's a little clumsy on the pedals coming through the lag end of his turn, and fudges his barrel roll into the pursuit a little. It's not horrible, it's just too soft and costs him some speed. He chops his throttles to compensate, and strafes in for a snapshot off the breakturn— managing to scatter laserfire across Cygnus' flank. It's not fancy, it's not even particularly clean, but any good pilot will tell you that style ultimately doesn't win the day.

[Wolf-3: Cygnus] Things don't seem to be improving for Cygnus as his flank takes the scattered fire. While he doesn't lose his cool, it does affect his timing when he rolls into a dive, and starts to fight the stick again a bit. That could end up being his downfall, because he still doesn't quite manage to work up enough speed to slip away from Spider no matter what he tries at the moment.

[Wolf-2: Kai] There's another burst of gunfire — thankfully only training lasers — as Spider closes in on his prey. Now that he's burned off the loss in inertia from that bad break, he's coming in hot and relentless on Cygnus' tail. This time, his shots march across one of the fighter's wings, probably setting off more beeps on the Lieutenant's console. Another round of this, if he's successful, and Cygnus is likely to be 'done'. Kai? Isn't letting up.

[Wolf-3: Cygnus] That's it. Right there. Cygnus can feel the adjustments now, and manages to pour on the speed as he comes out of the roll. At least it allows him to get a bit space between he and Kai. Whether it will be enough, is anyone's guess. On the other hand though, he's not going to go down like a lame duck, either. A series of curves and weaves should make it more difficult to aquire a solution this time around.

[Wolf-2: Kai] It's definitely an improvement, and it'd probably be enough to give an average pilot a run for his money. But Spider's amped up his flying to match— it's like having a really, really persistent bug on your ass. Another rattle of laserfire, and another just as Cygnus breaks; his gun employment could be sharper, but not by much. He manages to peg the other pilot across the wing again, thus ending the little training exercise. "All right, I think that's enough. Let's bring it back to the barn, Cygnus. Good work." His fighter rolls away and screams past, headed back on a trajectory toward the blip in the distance that is Kharon.

[Wolf-3: Cygnus] A part of Cygnus wants to protest. Almost like the five year old who, awakened for school, is wont to beg for that 'five more minutes, mommy'. Wisely, he keeps any such urges and thoughts to himself. But damn it felt good to fly again. An easy arching turn later he's slotted himself back on Kai's wing and gives him a thumb's up through the canopy, "Copy, Lead. Heading back to the barn." All too quickly, the dot that is the Kharon resolves itself into a larger and larger view of the carrier.

[Wolf-3: Cygnus] Alas, not so for poor Cygnus. Too many months out of the cockpit. Add in a dash of the less forgiving avionics the Sevens are newly fit with? Things start to luck ugly pretty quickly. The Kharon's landing bay suddenly seems a lot /shorter/ than a Battlestar's to Mac as he runs out of acerage and comes in way too hot. Yup. That was the trap he missed and the bird keeps on screaming forward, until it screeches sideways into a stop. Not the best. Not by a long shot.

Blake doesn't do bird retrieval from the flight deck, but he hears there's a spectacular landing that begs his attention. He's standing with some other knuckle draggers as the birds are finally pulled down and docked, a shit eating grin spreading his lips wide.

Yeeeeaah. That wasn't fun. For the wrecking ball formerly known as Cygnus, anyway. Spider has to swerve his fighter sharply to starboard, and hop over the careening viper in order to touch down cleanly. And as soon as they let him? He's popped the canopy and torn off his seat harness, up and out of his bird like a shot. There's already a few knuckledraggers approaching with fire retardant spray, and the Captain's tugging his helmet off as he tries to wade through them to get to his wingman.

Clomp, clomp, clomp. The sound of boots echoes against the dull metal of the staircase and onto the flight deck as a flightsuit-clad Willem meanders on up for his scheduled CAP, clearing the last of the steps. He does his usual 'look both ways before crossing the street' schtick, which is to say he looks around the general vicinity of the Deck like a crow hopped up on stims, half-expecting something to pop out and eat him. This doesn't last long though, as the spectacle of the recent landing draws in his attention. Mouth opens a little, eyes narrow a little. Not -quite- a wince, but close enough.

Xanthus isn't too far behind, "So I told the guy, 'You cats gonna stand there, because the CO's right behind you and he's going to show you just how square he is one he gets his boot out of your…" THe tragic landing cuts the other pilot off, though. "Now there's something you don't see every day. Thank gods."

Cygnus had been fine. Just /fine/, until that landing. Tricky frakkers. It leaves him wondering if that one brilliant move just cost him his chance at making it back into the Squadron. He'd done so /well/ before that. He's rather pale now. Almost deathly so. Once the spray of flame retardants seems to stop, he pops the canopy open and drags off his helmet with a sigh. Oh, and look, half the Kharon seems to be on deck to have witnessed this little fiasco. An applogetic glance is shot in Kai's direction, "Sorry, Sir."

Blake isn't on fire crew either, so he's not one of the ones running forward to make sure Cygnus' bird doesn't burn down to the landing struts. No, he's the one that does the body work when everything is said and done, and can only tsk about the paint job. "That right there is what we call an 'emergency landing'." He says with a smirk, easy to joke when no one's injured.

Kai has just wrestled himself out of his own fighter, which appears to have touched down unscathed, not far from Cygnus'. Helmet under one arm, dark hair rumpled and sweaty from what appears to have been a fairly grueling little exercise, he comes up to the base of the ladder. A gloved hand is rested on one of the rungs as he looks up into the cockpit, assessing the pilot's state of being in one piece still. Which he appears to be. "I'd tell you you came in a little hot there, Cygnus, but that might be the understatement of my career," is mentioned drily. He doesn't seem angry, but nor does he seem particularly thrilled.

"I think everybody, everybody makes that mistake at least once," comes Willem's easy reply, still in the middle of his wince. The fair-skinned Libran pilot shakes his head slowly as he turns to address Xanthus, who he was accompanying. "I mean, shooting your mouth off without looking." He stretches a lazy, gloved hand towards the ensuing mess on the deck as he hastily amends, "Maybe that too." He tries grinning now, as abashed as a grin can be but it doesn't linger long. "I guess I'd be a hypocrite if I laughed at him for that." Half the carrier's probably heard of Rebound's spectacular crash landing as an Ensign on his old posting at this point, so he doesn't comment further, simply watching the deck gang as they start to mop up the mess.

"I'm not sure what happened there," A frown mars Cygnus' features as he tries to work it out in his head. "I haven't done something like that since back in flight school. Suddenly it was like there just wasn't any deck left to come down on." A shake of his head and he begins to work at unstrapping himself. "I didn't think these Escorts were that much different than a Battlestar, though maybe I'm just that rusty. Gods." Once he's climbed down from the cockpit which gives him a chance to actually see the damage done? What little blood left in his face drains away leaving him ghostly white.

"Being a hypocrite never stopped me from laughing at anything. It would be a change of pace. Usually I just laugh at myself." Jester turns to his wingmate, "Sucks to be him, though. Looks nervous as hell. Is he a…" Xanth squints for a second, "No. Not an ensign. I guess he's not totally shitting himself. Just a little bit. Captain seems like the kind of cat who brings that out in people, though. Think we should check on the natives?"

"Well hey. I guess I'm just the nice guy of the squadron," Willem notes dryly. "I don't know -what-'s going on." He quips back towards his wingman as he takes a few solid steps down the deck towards the Captain and Cygnus, which of course, gets him closer to Blake. He smirks awkwardly at the Petty Officer for a second before rolling his head back towards Xanthus. "He's one of the Chaplain's people. Technically." As he explains, although he seems a little unsure. Mac's position on this ship -has- always baffled him a little. "Ex Viper pilot though. Done some sim runs. Competent. Never saw him land, though."

Nope, it ain't pretty. "On the bright side, the deck's got a few racing stripes now." Gods help Cygnus if Kai considers that to be the 'bright side'. There's already a collective wince going up amongst the deck crew, who no doubt can't wait for the Chief to show up. Won't she be pleased. The Captain though, is about to be saved by the bell. In the form of a 'runner' who's managed to slide his way through orange coveralls-clad mechanics, with an apparently urgent message for him. Kai listens, blinks once, frowns slightly, and nods to the kid. "You're going to have to excuse me, Lieutenant. I'll be making my report to the CAG by tomorrow morning, so you'll likely hear from her once she's made her decision."

Blake saunters over to the bird, hoisting himself up on the wing of Cygnus's downed bird and he begins to go over the damage. Someone hands him up a clipboard, and he begins walking around, making official looking checkmarks. Yup. That's what they trained him for, folks. Checkmarks.

A nod is given to Kai, before Cygnus replies, "Thank you, Sir. For the opportunity. However this comes down, it felt good to be out there again. At least for a little while." The words are clearly heartfelt, though now there's a whole new kind of nervousness over the waiting game.

Xanthus, never one to be shy (understatement!) steps up to Cygnus, "Hi!!!" His greeting is overly loud and overly enthusiastic. On purpose. If possible, he even gives the poor pilot a backslap for good measure, "Nice landing back there! I'll bet you want to get totally, completely hammered." And then he gestures to the lights on deck that indicate such a thing is simply not a good idea, "Life's a bitch, huh? Xanth. Jester if we're flying. Did we meet?" He's extra loud just as if the sound of his voice is supposed to break the tension. It probably doesn't.

Kai nods curtly to Cygnus, and cuts his eyes briefly toward the rubbernecking pair of Willem and Xanthus nearby. Particularly Xanthus, as he steps forward to be tonight's overenthusiastic welcome wagon. "Boys," he murmurs bemusedly, then salutes (and awaits one in return) his poor wingman before turning to head briskly off. Blake is given a little twitch of his lips as he passes the perched deckhand, and then he's gone.

The salute, is indeed returned, with as much crispness as Cygnus can muster in his currently pale and slightly queasy state. Xanthus, he remembers from the night before, "I tried to introduce myself last night, but somehow it got rather lost in translation." That or Mac rated as somewhat boring in comparison to Antioch at that particular time. There's a headshake in Willem's direction. "I'm just hoping I didn't just lose my chance. What a frakking way to come into a landing. Frak!"

Blake glances up from his clipboard to find Willem, "Sir, give me a roll of duct tape, a bottle of wine, and one evening, and I can make a paraplegic dance." Wait, are they still talking about the Viper? He hops down with a grunt, and makes a pass of the landing gear. "One of the stuts is bent, but it's nothing we can't straighten out. Pretty routine."

"Wasn't anything personal. Did you know one of those cats came out of a straight jacket? As close as I can figure, that means he'll fit right in here. Was serious about the drink, though. You got nervous, brought new meaning to 'three point landing'. If I were you, I'd be juicing right now. Bunk five, bottom bunk. Under the mattress." Xanth glances back at the others, then nods a bit, "Yeah. Probably shouldn't dwell. Any crash you can walk away from, right?"

"I don't think there are enough straightjackets on this monst." Willem interjects suddenly towards his wingman, cutting himself off and stopping short of calling the Kharon a 'monster.' Which isn't the worst perjorative out there, to be honest. Still, decorum and all that. "Don't worry about one botched landing. Too much." He says, encouragingly enough to Cygnus. "Although the biggest thing I'd worry about now is the Chief seeing those gouges on the deck and attempting to roast your liver." He winces again, the expression of the hour for him it seems, a bit too dramatically to be serious. "I'm sure that can be mitigated, though." Back towards Blake, as he weighs the technician's response. "I think you'd better keep the duct tape under wraps. The snipes are getting desperate after that rupture in the Head. I wouldn't put petty theft past them."

"I think drinking is going to have to wait until after the evening service." For now, Cygnus is still firmly assigned and attached to the Chaplain's office, until something changes. There's some relief there at the news that the Viper isn't too badly trashed, though, "Frak. I think I'm going to do my best to hide from the Cheif for the next few days. I used to be on her good side."

Blake's eyes wrinkle at the edges, amusement lingering there but not mirrored on his lips. He goes back to his clipboard, finishing the paperwork that's needed before the bird can be put up for repair. "I'll keep that in mind. Duct tape carries a higher price then my mum's chocolate chip cookies." He says distractedly.

"Tread lightly and pray to whatever God will hear you." Willem says ominously in Mac's direction. He lets out a snicker though, the only thing showing his hand at this being some sort of a joke. Letting this topic of conversation die out though, he stands firmly upon the deck with his arms crossed in front of his chest, his foot tapping soundlessly as he watches Blake go through his motions, his lower lip lodged between his teeth. His observation of the technician seems to be academic in nature, as he steps up further to study the damaged aircraft itself. "As we revert to a barter economy, that and alcohol and smokes may be all we have left." He observes, in the tone of your classic university egghead.

Now it's Cygnus' turn to smirk as he tacks on to the end of Willem's little laundry list, "You forgot the eyeliner and black nail polish. Those could rank right up there to some, as well." Of course, Mac doesn't bother to point out that he numbers among those 'someones'. At least some color seems to finally be returning to the pilot-priest's face at this point. "Though, makes you wonder what will happen if the booze does run out…"

Blake passes the clipboard off to a specialist, clapping him on the shoulder and sending him on the way. He then makes a gesture for the MULE to be hooked back up to the bird Cygnus flew, so they can pull it of to Hangar Three where they do the majority of the repairs, especially when it requires hoisting this bird off it's legs. "Find me some rice, and you'll never have to worry about that. The booze, I mean." He comments, interjecting himself back into conversation.

"I recommend apple juice." Willem observes, in a wry tone of voice, addressing Blake once further as he shifts his weight from one knee to the other. "Actually, I remember a guy at the garrison who made a killing looting mess hall leftovers. He also did something disgusting with cornbread and water but even -I- wasn't that brave." He continues chewing on his lower lip as he shoots Mac another smirk. "You could always start a side business making your own." Wait, he's talking about…makeup. Not booze. "Soot and engine grease. Might have a use, you know?"

A snort is all the reply Willem gets for that particular effort, though Cygnus does crack a grin. After a moment, "I should have known you'd know about ten places to come up with booze if there's ever a shortage." Picking up his helmet, Mac claps a hand against Willem's arm for a moment, then turns to Blake. "Sorry about the bent bird," A wince accompanies the words, along with a small sigh. "If I don't get going though, I'm going to miss assisting at the evening service. I just have time to change and make it as it is," He states by way of apollogy.

Blake salutes Cygnus by ticking his pen off his forehead, and then it gets slid behind his ear. "That's what I'm here for. Be kinda boring of nothing ever got bent. Well. Deck bowling, but the crewmen really hate being the pins. Have a good one." He glances back to Willem, slightly narrowing his eyes. "Cardboard, huh?" Then he snorts his disbelief.

"Don't blame me. Blame garrison duty. You have to make your -own- fun. I was just an observer, as always." Willem says with a half-snicker towards Mac as the man gets ready to run off to his second calling. He reaches upwards and tangles his fingers in his hair, smoothing it back in a sort of motion that indicates a nervous habit. It's too short to really do anything with -but- that. "When the Chief comes after you I'll be sure to steer her the wrong direction. Be seein' you." Sighing a little bit, as he realizes CAP won't perform itself, he looks towards his usual Viper again. The one that took a big nasty KEW slug in its starboard engine the other night. And back to Blake. "Cornbread." He reiterates. "Cardboard might have been safer, though."

With a last wave, Mac steers himself towards the stairs and heads off of the flight deck, wondering what his future might hold.

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