Colonial Couriers
Colonial Curiers
Summary: Vendas orders Poppy and Legacy to deliver something to Fleet HQ. Hilarity does not ensue.
Date: MD057
Related Logs: End of the World!!!

[ Ready Room - Hangar Deck ]------[ CEC Kharon ]—
IC Time: Mission Day #57 OOC Time: Sun Apr 19 22:19:20 2009

The soft glow of white lights overhead cast hardly any shadows across the battleship gray walls and dark, trodden carpet floor. Divided into two sections of chairs, their bases bolted to the floor with an aisle running up each side and the center of the elevated riser. The plush black leather of the arrangement has been worn-in over the years to provide for a well-used but comfortable atmosphere. To the front a pair of large liquid crystal displays provide for the analysis of anything required while a single podium occupies a place up front and to the left. A pull-down screen is secured to the high ceiling to be used with a digital projection system that is fed on the side of the room.
Doubling as an office area, there are a few desks at the rear. Various technical manuals as well as tactical guides are set on a low bookshelf above the writing spaces. Around the side is a line of metal cabinets that hold various labels as to their contents. Hangers hold a row of spare deep green flightsuits and helmets on the other side of the room while half-hidden posters and pictures adorn the walls. One section of the wall near the front, kept clear of clutter and debris, is a wooden wall-plate that goes nearly floor to ceiling.
-=[ Condition Level: 1 - Action Stations ]=-------
Wooden Plaque
[O] Hallway

Poppy has arrived.
Legacy has arrived.

Vendas found them discreetly and had them follow her up to the Ready Room. Once inside, she steps aside and closes the door behind them, latching and locking it. The CAG still hasn't put down her helmet yet. Not since she grabbed it following the scramble order. But she looks at the two in front of her. "I have a mission for you guys and its could be damned dangerous." The CAG lives up to her reputation of being blunt. "We have a problem and once again it comes back to you guys to help us resolve it. But I need a crew who can keep quiet about what they are doing before and after. Are we on the level?" She looks both of them in the eyes.

Thea's in her flightsuit, helmet in hand, as she settles in to listen to Vendas. Her head cocks slightly to the side and then nods, very slowly. "What's the situation, Sir," she asks, equally as blunt. Someone's not beating around the bush.

Poppy nods her head, voice a little quieter than usual - the air of hush-hush compels her to lower her volume, "Yessir." All the same, she does spare a brief glance around the place - looking for someone, maybe? But no, there is a mission and despite appearances she is professional. She turns her focus fully to the CAG.

"Our communications relays were knocked out by Raiders during the battle. We think it was exploded chunks one of the Viper drivers hit. Anyway, it'll take a few hours to fix and we can't sit around with our thumbs in our asses waiting to phone in our reports." Vendas is stern as she was back when they debriefed after the dogfights. "I want you guys to jump back to Picon and report in. But do it carefully. I doubt those bastards we killed today were out here by themselves. If you run into problems, jump back ASAP. If we don't hear from you in three hours, we'll send a rescue party." She lifts a thumbdrive out of her pocket and hands it to Poppy. "Transmit this file once you get into contact with fleet headquarters. Its our after-action report."

Thea doesn't relax much, but she breathes a tiny bit easier. "We should be out and back in no time," she says quietly, nodding. "Turn in the report, wait for the reply, beat feet back?"

Poppy reaches out to accept the thumbdrive, unzipping one of the pockets on the chest of her flightsuit and depositing in there - safest seat aboard the Poppy express, apparently. She nods her head, not looking relaxed at all, "I've got a few shortcuts I've picked up … I can get that transmission to them in no time."

"Right on the money, Captain. Don't stay out there any longer than you have to." Vendas then looks to Poppy, smirking at where she deposits it. "Sounds like a plan. Okay, I've already filed departure clearances. Get in your Raptor and get out of here. Report to Commander Sheridan if you can't find me when you get back." A final nod to them. "Go get 'em. Dismissed." A hand reaches to the side and unlocks the hatch, turning it over a few times.

Legacy looks over at Poppy, giving the woman a grim little smile. "C'mon, Poppyflower. Let's go see if your callsign is enough to cheer someone up at headquarters." With a final salute to Vendas, Thea turns for the hatch, strides brisk.

Poppy immediately follows along behind Thea, allowing herself a little smile although something is still weighing on her mind, "Alright, but just so you know I crush on my pilots, Cap."

Annnnnnd to the Raptor!

"You crush on all your pilots," Thea asks, quirking a brow over her shoulder at the woman. "I don't want to know how many of those little metal boxes you have, do I?" It's almost a rhetorical question. She's a little grim through the pre-flight check. The past week has taken its toll on her, but she's ready. "Got your cross-check?"

"Mini Captain Legacy is tucked away safely in my locker," Poppy jokes, looking over the ECM console carefully - hands gliding over it in a well-practiced routine that doesn't seem to be hampered at all by a different pilot, "Pre-flight looks all green, Cap."

Legacy groans quietly and shakes her head. "I'm not going to ask. Just so long as it's not hot pink, I'll be happy. And don't leave it too close to Mini Matto." Helmet on, strap in. "Alright, strap in and let's get this done." She taps at her com. "Foxbat Lead requesting launch clearance, CIC."

Already in the process of strapping in when Legacy gives the order, Poppy makes sure the seal on her helmet is airtight before she leans back over the console to begin the myriad of pre-launch checks.

"Foxbat Lead, you are cleared for take off on filed flight plan Juliet-Six-Four. Good Hunting."

"And here we go," Thea says quietly, winding up. There's a last check that Poppy's ready before she pushes the throttle forward and takes the Raptor out. "I feel like we're going on a road trip," she mutters. "All we're missing is a grumpy mother in law."

"Don't look at me," Poppy answers, eyes still firmly locked on her instruments, "I'd make a terrible parent." She slips from casual conversation to professional almost seamlessly, "Starting up the pre-jump calculations."

"Taking us out, preparing for jump," Thea says quietly, settling back into professional with the same ease as Poppy.

"Locked in the coordinates," Poppy answers, finalizing it all with a tap of a button on the console, "Ready to go on your mark, Cap."

"Annnnd," Cat says quietly. "Spool us up, Poppy and let's get the hell out of Dodge. The faster we're gone, the faster we're back."

"Spooling," Poppy replies in a monotone, listening to the sound of the Raptor working up towards a jump.

Once the spooling is complete, Thea takes the little Raptor into the jump, commenting to her ECO, "Keep an eye out for any of those silver bastards."

Out in front of the glass canopy, Picon can be seen in all of its glory. The planet is covered in the typical greens, browns and blues of the normal view. Against the view of the planet is what looks like it might be small ships silhouetted against the skies. Towards of the edge of the planet's horizon, something blinks on the surface.

"And we're here," Thea says quietly, but she's tense, on guard. "Hmmm. Can you get a DRADIS contact on what those are, Pop," she asks quietly, drifting for a moment rather than taking the straight shot.

"Cap," Poppy begins, peering at the DRADIS as though it might be broken, " … I'm picking up about three dozen small contacts. I'd imagine it's them," she gestures out the cockpit window, "But none of 'em are Colonial or at least their transponders aren't saying as much."

"Frak," Thea swears softly. "What in the hells is going on here? See if you can raise Picon Yards on the com. I'm going to try to take us around on the far side." Oh, yeah. She's not happy.

<FS3> Legacy rolls Alertness+10: Success.

None of those floating objects seem to be maneuvering. In fact, a few look like they might even be in a slow tumble. There's a another distinct flash at the edge of the horizon, the white light glowing brightly for just a moment before fading away. The clouds seem to part slightly.

"Picon Yards, Foxbat-1," Poppy calls into the wireless, eyes still locked on the Dradis, "Picon Yards, Foxbat-1. Copy?"
You paged Poppy with 'No response. After a few moments, the signal scrambles badly. Its being jammed.'

Thea sits a little straighter in her seat. "Poppy, how long do we have until we can spool to jump," she asks, a thread of something in her voice that sounds vaguely like fear. Her voice is calm and quiet, authoritative, but there's a definite note of something isn't right.

<FS3> Poppy rolls ECM: Failure.

"Arggh," Poppy says, leaning back and away as though the wireless just bit her, "What the frak … someones jamming the wireless, Cap. I can't get through." She is suddenly overcome with the desire to get out as well, checking the status of the FTL drive, "Three minutes."

One of those 'ships' out in front of them and a little ways off explodes internally, the pieces moving out in all directions. Little pieces of it seem suddenly drawn by the planet's gravity and begin to burn brightly as the tumble through the de-orbit.

Thea is very quiet for a time as she watches it. "Poppy," she asks, voice very low. "Are you seeing what I'm seeing out there," she asks, tone begging the other woman to tell her no, that it's all just a hallucination.

"What is it?" Poppy asks, moving away from the console for the first time so she can lean and look out the cockpit window, "What … whats going on here?"

As the Raptor moves around through the darker side of the planet, things become more apparent. Where once the lights of the capital would twinkle in the planet's night, fires burn brightly. The whole city looks to be on fire, the flames illuminating the pillars of smoke that rise thousands of feet into the air as if from a volcano.

"Oh, gods," the Raptor Captain breathes quietly. "That's why you can't raise them, Poppy." The light from her helmet illuminates the woman's face, which has gone a sickly shade of pale. "Taking us around just a little further for more recon. Are you picking anything up on DRADIS?"

"Same," Poppy answers, though her voice is barely above a whisper as she only glances at the computer screen - more concerned with the decimated city below, "No Colonial signals … but … a lot of something else."

Approaching the location of the shipyards, there isn't much to see. The husk of a Battlestar, gutted from what looks like a small nuke detonated inside it, floats past the windscreen. The name 'Trident' can be seen plated across the side of the only remaining flight pod. The Picon Yards just.. aren't there anymore. At all. Not even the mooring beacons are still there.

There's a quiet sound from the back of Thea's throat. "Prepare to spool for jump, Poppy," she says quietly. "I wonder if it's just here…" she asks, the question that the audience is thinking, of course. "Set the jump coordinates to Saggitaron. We're going to look around a bit before we go back."

"Three minutes until we're spooled," comes Poppy's answer, staring across at the Trident once she's made the correct calculations, " … Cap. The whole planet … "

The remnants of a Viper Mark II float past the windscreen. The nosecone and engines. Everything between is missing, the edges blackened by an explosion. Not even the wings are left attached.

"Spool us up, Poppy," Thea says quietly. "Get us ready to jump to Sag and keep it together. Maybe we can get some answers when we get over there." Hopeful. A little too hopeful.

Poppy swallows noisily, not wanting to break down when their lives depend on in it. She begins to spool up the drive, working quite swiftly given her wide-eyed horror at what has happened, "Three minutes and counting down."

Legacy's voice is soft, quiet. "Deep breaths, Pop," she advises. "See what you can get me on those signals. Are they like what we dealt with earlier today?" Yes, give the young woman something to do. Orders. Orders help.

<FS3> Poppy rolls Technical: Good Success.

"As far as I can tell," Poppy answers after a deep breath, "They're … destroyed sections of bigger ships. I'll … try and trace them back to their original coordinates to see when they detonated but I'm gonna need some time."

"You've got two minutes to get what you can, Pop. I don't want to hang around here for too much longer. Is there anything on the jamming?"

<FS3> Poppy rolls Technical: Bad Failure.

"I … " Poppy shakes her head, lifting a hand up to her helmet, "There's too many … I'd need to be a mathematical genius to figure this out in two minutes."

"Get the information, Pop," Thea says gently. "We'll take it home to Cube." It's probably a sure sign she's not thinking right - she defaulted to the old name for Roubani. "Alright, how long until the jump? Coordinates are programmed in."

"Under a minute," comes Poppy's reply as she attempts to download all the information from the DRADIS for later perusal.

"Good job," Thea says softly. "Alright. We've seen Picon. They'll tell us on Sag what the hells happened here." It sounds like her heart's in her throat and being kept down with difficulty.

"I hope so," Poppy answers, glancing over her shoulder at the cockpit window as the timer counts down, "Ready to jump on your mark."

"And jump," Thea says without hesitation, clearly glad to be getting out of there. The Captain is shaken and clearly trying not to be, trying to keep a good face for her ECO. But after such wholesale destruction, who would blame her?

The flash from the jump subsides and the planet is laid out off the starboard side. Like leaving Picon, they have jumped onto the dark side of Sagg, the sun-lit side just visible ahead on the horizon. There's no ships visible here. Not even pieces.

"Nothing on the DRADIS," Poppy says, sounding relieved until she realizes that there really should be something there, " … nothing at all. No signals off the planet, either."

Thea, so hopeful a moment or two ago before the jump, is now…not so much. There's dead silence for a moment. "Spool for jump to Gemenon," she says in a calm, controlled voice. "And then get pictures. We'll need proof to show the Captain. He'll want proof that there's nothing left." Thea punches the throttle slightly, moving the Raptor into a recon pattern. "Get as many as you can, Poppy. Then we're jumping to Gemenon. And after Gemenon, Caprica. After Caprica, we're going back to Picon to get pictures from there. We're doing a full recon of the colonies."

"Frak … " Poppy answers, silent for a moment as she takes a deep breath to keep her hands from shaking, "Oh frak … frak … spooling." She might be having a minor freak out leading to a major one but it doesn't keep her from readying the Raptor to jump.

Jumping from planet to planet, everything is the same. Some have the remains of ships floating aimlessly through space. Others don't have anything. One thing common is there there is no electronic noise coming off the colonies. That is, until Caprica.
When the jump is complete, the Raptor is far out from the planet, the Colony itself about the size of a fist against the glass. But even from this distance, its evident the planet is lost. Small flashes erupt from the surface along the southern continent.

Poppy looks for a moment as though she's about scream in horror, although it only comes out as a rather pathetic squeak as she stares out the cockpit window. She reaches down out of pure habit, not thinking as she sets up the camera for recon. But the noise from the radar draws her attention and, choking back her grief, she manages, "No Colonial signals … they're maneuvering though. Multiple contacts."

By the time they get to Caprica, The seems to be numb. Utterly numb. It's been the same for all of the planets. Jump, fly, get pictures. Jump, fly, get pictures. Get as much information as possible, get as many DRADIS contacts as possible, get gone. "What are you seeing on …" Poppy answers before Thea can even ask. "Multiple contacts heading toward us," the woman asks quietly.

The planet seems to pay not notice the whats happening, the clouds just parting past the flashes. The horizon can almost be seen turning across the surface.

"We're being intercepted," Poppy's voice becomes oddly robotic, as though she's operating on autopilot - completely retreating into herself, "I've got the recon photos."

"Stay with me, Pop," Thea says quietly. "Spool to jump back to Kharon. We've seen enough."

Out in the distance against the silhouette of the planet, an even dozen crescent shapes can be seen turning across the path of the raptor and heading straight for it.

"Spooling," Poppy answers, voice still distant and detached, "Two minutes thirty seconds until intercept … "

"Time to run," Thea says quietly, turning her Raptor in the other direction and punching the throttle. At least she's still got a sense of self-preservation and isn't turning the raptor screaming into the oncoming raiders. "Get what pictures you can of them and any information from DRAEDIS. We've got to get this back to Kharon." Back to Kharon. Home.

"Already on it," Poppy answers, multi-tasking like a fiend as she takes photos and prepares for the jump while eyeing the DRADIS.

The planet turns from view, Caprica disappearing aft of the Raptor. Somewhere back there, the Raiders close the distance, but not fast enough to catch them.

"Good woman," Thea praises quietly. "Keep it up, we're almost home, Pop. Two more minutes and we'll be back. We've got to get this information back." It's her new mantra, apparently.

"Ready to jump," Poppy answers, reaching out to transfer control of the FTL drive to the pilot's seat so Thea can get them out of there whenever she's ready.

"Jumping on my mark," Thea says quietly. "In 3…2…1…Jump." And away they go. "Get on with Kharon and let them know we're coming in. We need landing clearance."

"K-Kharon Actual, Foxbat One," Poppy calls into the wireless, looking visibly annoyed with herself for stammering, "Requesting permission to land."

"Foxbat One, this is Kharon. You're cleared to land for a hands on approach. Contact the LSO for paddles contact on button six. Welcome home."

Thea goes through the motions of taking the Raptor in, but it's clear she's in a bit of shock. Her responses to the LSO are wooden, distracted. "Pop," she says quietly. "Grab everything. All the pictures. All the contacts. Everything. Leave nothing in the bird."

"I have it," Poppy answers quietly, holding up a series of flashdrives in her hand. She climbs out of her seat, her face uncomfortably pale behind the glass of her helmet - still appearing very detached.

They're down, finally, and Thea starts the process of getting out of the cockpit. Instead of just leaving, though, she turns to wait for Poppy, offering a hand. It's a simple thing. She can't even fake a smile for the deck crew. The helmet is off, dangling from her wrist, and her face has gone the color of old flour.

Poppy takes the offered hand, following after Thea onto the deck although she seems almost unwilling to let it go once they're both back on 'Terra Firma'. She looks about at the deck crew, pulling her helmet off with her free hand and looking towards the Captain - waiting for some sort of instruction.

Legacy squeezes the hand briefly, but firmly. She doesn't seem to give a shit about the deck crew or the strange looks they're getting. "C'mon, Pop. We have to go see a man about a horse," she says, voice low and quiet. "I need you on your game with the Commander." And then she's off, taking Poppy with her.

Annnnnnd now the the CO's Quarters!

En route to the Commander's quarters, Poppy has managed to gather her wits about her again and is no longer clinging onto Thea's hand like a frightened child. In fact, she looks downright military with her head held high.

There's a quiet knock on the Commander's hatch. Outside are two pilots, both in their flight suits, and at least one wearing an expression that indicates there's no way in hell she's going to be turned away. Thea's gone military and professional as well, despite the sickly pallor.

This late into the night, most would be expect the Commander to be asleep. The Marine guards on either side just eye the pilots briefly, looking over their flightsuits and sidearms before focusing back forward. With the knock there is an immediate "Enter." from within. Once inside, Sheridan is standing at his desk and looking over charts and comparing them to some books. There's a short glance up and then back to his charts. "So, what have you brought me in reply?" Just an off the cuff question.

Poppy seems inclined to open her mouth in reply before she realizes it is probably Thea's place and she shuts up. Instead she inches forward a little, placing the flashdrives down on the desk.

Thea gives Poppy a briefly grateful look though is pulled into attention, saluting. She looks directly at Sheridan as she says, voice low and quiet, "It's all gone, Sir. Everything. We made it to every colony except Virgon and Scorpia before we were spotted at Caprica. I deemed it prudent to jump back to Kharon with the information we'd gathered. My ECO was able to take extensive footage between jumps and she managed to get scans of those silver ships from earlier today. They were there." Thea seems cool and calm, collected. "Widespread nuclear destruction, Commander. The colonies have been obliterated. The world is on fire."

Slowly, his pen stops writing. They're looking at his mostly bald head while he's paying most of his attention to the chart in front of him. But by the time he's stopped, its clear that despite his gaze being elsewhere, his attention is on the pilots in front of his desk. A few long moments afterwards, he looks up towards the Captain, then to Poppy. "If this is a godsdamned joke, I'll have your wings. From the both of you." He finally settles on Legacy, eyes wide and threatening. "You're telling me that you got no response from fleet? You got nothing from them? I have Danika send you back for a courior mission and you.. you.. you tell me.." And there he sputters for a moment, the man's voice rising in volume like he might suddenly start yelling at them.

"It's gone," Poppy says flatly, perhaps trying to hold in her desire to scream or cry or shout behind a veil of professionalism, "Multiple non-colonial contacts. Gutted vipers … the Trident is a husk. We've got visual evidence for all of it. Caprica was under attack when we … " A pause, she swallows and attempts to catch herself, "We got there."

Thea very carefully puts her helmet down in front of the desk then leans foward, both hands on the front of the Commander's piece of furniture. Apparently someone has had enough. "Look at what's on the drive, Commander," she says, her voice low and quiet, thrumming with emotion. "Look at my ECO standing next to me. Look at ME, Sir. Take one look at my face and tell me this is a frakking godsdamned joke. There. Is. Nothing. There. Picon Shipyards. They're gone. The bases on Sag, Aerelon, gone." She goes quiet for a very long moment. "The pilot training academy on Gemenon, gone. Every colony was covered with fires and mushroom clouds. There were no Colonial contacts. We tried. Everywhere. None. All that was left were hulls of ships in atmospheres." Thea goes into loving detail about the devastation. "There is your AAR that was to be dropped off on Picon," she says softly, pointing to one of the flash drives. "And there is every bit of information we were able to get before those silver ships chased us. There were twelve of them chasing us. Twelve." Finally she realizes that she's leaning halfway over the Commander's desk and she straightens suddenly, adding, "Commander."

Sheridan's gaze flickers to Poppy, face turning to a bit of disbelief at her mention of the Trident. And Caprica being attacked? It looks like he's eaten something sour. But when Legacy leans over his desk, he looks right up at her before standing-up himself. The Commander huffs a few times before she's done. And when she is, the silence hangs in the air with thick tension. The only sound is the humm of the ship and the faintness of voices in the corridor. Even some mild laughter. Those hazel eyes threaten to dig holes in each of them. "You're frakking telling me that there is no fleet. There's nothing. Not a single godsdamned transponder squawking on ten planets." That's directed at Poppy. She had to be the ECO. He then looks at Legacy. "Where is the fleet, Captain? I.." He stumbles his words, still trying to wrap his mind around this. He finally lowers his voice. "You got everything on these drives? Right? Tell me you sanitized that Raptor before the deck crew got their hands on it."

"I didn't leave a trace," Poppy answers, "I … the Captain told me I shouldn't." And she isn't lying there, she wiped the drives clean save for the standard operating software - everything is on the flashdrives. The only copies. She exhales deeply before she answers the question that was directed at her.

"I tried to contact Picon Yards but there was a jamming signal … whoever did this is came prepared. I didn't pick up a single Colonial transponder at any of the stops … but there was a lot of unidentified traffic."

Thea lets Poppy handle her part of that, and despite the shock on the woman's face, there's just a small hint of pride there. Poppy is one of -hers-. And she did damned good. "We found nothing, Commander," Thea says quietly, voice a little softer, tone more gentle. "But it's likely there are others out there, like us. Ships that weren't planetside when…when whatever happened. There's still Virgon and Scorpia. Getting this information to you was more important than checking those two out after we were spotted. We had a two minute lead on the enemy ships." The Captain's throat works. She's trying to hold it together, she really, really is. "My ECO got as much information as she could on the signals. It would have taken more time than we had to decode them. I made the call to jump and continue searching."

"Thank the Gods you cleaned that bird." Sheridan gruffs at Poppy, something she said turning over in his mind. He rolls his flattened hands into fists and leans the knuckles into the solid oak of his desktop. Legacy's words roll off of him and his jaw sets. Again, when she finishes, the man is quiet for a long moment. His gaze drops to the charts in front of him but his eyes finally settle on the flash drives. "You two can consider yourselves under a gag order. The contents of tonight's mission are now classified. You will not discuss this with anyone until myself and Colonel Cortez have a chance to review it and tell the crew. Is that loud and clear?"

That does not sit well with Poppy - she's on the verge of losing it and she's only ever kept one secret from her best friend. But she'll do it because when everything goes to hell she can fall back of professionalism. She nods her head, "Yes, sir."

It doesn't sit well with Thea, either, but it's clear that she expected it. "Yes, Sir," she says quietly, waiting and watching. "If you would like, I'll sit down with you to cover the material as we saw it."

Sheridan finally looks back up to the pair as the acknowledge what they've been told. Though the CO shakes his head at Legacy. "We'll be looking at this material impartially. If we need the recollection of either yourself of the Lieutenant here, we will make the call." Eyes flicker between them once more. "Grab a shower and some food and get some color back to you. People are going to ask questions. I'll deal with the CAG, myself, since she's Miss Twenty Godsdamned Questions. You're both dismissed." He tries to end it sound less angry and manages it a little. He's not mad at them. The guy is probably pretty confused.

Poppy nods her head, turning to move towards the hatch and making her way out - she seems very much on autopilot. Walking in a daze towards the head because that's where she was told to go.

Thea, at least, remembers to pull to attention and salute before turning and walking out crisply, following her poor ECO.

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