Silence Is the Last Thing
Silence Is the Last Thing
Summary: A routine CAP goes horrifically awry.
Date: PHD146
Related Logs: References the events of Drank Your Drank, Parts 1 and 2.


The hangar bay's humming along as usual, a bustling nest of industry crewed by orange-coveralls'd worker bees armed with wrenches and impact guns. The CAG might be spotted somewhere in the midst of it all, leaning against the wing of one illustrious Foxbat-4, flight suit unzipped to his clavicle while he sips his pre-flight coffee. Looks like the checklist has already been completed, and the raptor's payload — a pair of unarmed test drones — juts menacingly from the craft's missile pods.

Timon pokes his head out from within said plane, his jock smock zipped up snugly around his neck, his helmet hanging loosely from his gloved hands. "We're all set in here," he offers, even going so far as to offer a thumbs-up to the CAG. "Ready when you are." Beat. "Sir," he adds, almost as an afterthought.

Kai lifts his coffee cup in response to the thumbs-up, blue eyes ticking over to the raptor driver cum ECO for a moment. "I'll be right up. Hope you've brought your A game today, Stathis; we're going to be playing a little hide and seek up there in the debris field."

Had this happened three weeks earlier, Ivory's response would be something along the lines of a stiff "Yes, sir"; today, though, he shoots his pilot an injured look as he clicks his hard seal in place. "Just for that, I'm going to tell you everything out there's Cylon and let you figure the rest out for yourself." His voice is as dry as he can manage — which is to say, not really, given that he's trying not to chuckle aloud. "I'll be up front."

The Captain doesn't even bother trying to hide his amusement. There's a hoarse, throaty little chuckle barely heard before it's submerged in a sip of his coffee, and a warmth at the corners of his eyes that's ever so subtly fond. One of the mechanics bellows something at him between cupped hands on her way by, accompanied by a saucy grin and a wave; he answers in a similar fashion, though with considerably less volume. A lifetime of cigarette smoking's pretty much ruined his chances of ever making a good drill instructor. And then the remainder of his coffee's tossed back, the mug dropped off on a rolling trolley, and he clambers up inside his vehicle of choice for the afternoon's CAP. "Give me a status on our drone rig," he murmurs as he ducks through the hatch. "Chief tells me they were having some trouble with the mountings on the starboard side." He reaches for his helmet, which he'd left on the pilot's chair.

Timon needs to get his helmet on first, which he manages with remarkable speed: muscle memory, no doubt, from nearly a decade or so of putting it on and taking it off a couple of times each day. That accomplished, he boots up the training console and initiates a preliminary system scan; in the meantime, he's firing up DRADIS, comms, and all the rest. It's a veritable litany of green. Then, finally: " — EW bus two, green; explosive bolts, green; drone rails, green. If I may hazard a guess, I think Chief's just trying to cover her delicate behind."

"No doubt," is Karim's murmured agreement from up front. His own helmet's tugged on, and the hardseal locked into place before he sinks his not-inconsiderable weight into the pilot's seat and spins to face forward. It uses a simpler belt that the viper's webbed harness; there's a brief hesitation before he clicks the snap closure in place. "Avionics, nav, comms, all engines are green." Switches are flipped as he speaks, and somewhere in the midst of it, he leans over to trigger the hatch controls. The door grinds shut with a few mechanical sounding whirrs and clunks.

Ivory grabs his own harness from behind his seat, locking himself in place — or trying to, if the thing wasn't so loose: he's shorter than Thorn, who usually sits in this space, and it takes some fiddling to shift the buckle down to a more manageable height. Then, he's punching in his code to unlock the flight systems and transferring full control to Kai's station, leather-covered fingers tapping against lighted plastic to complete the transaction. "So this is it," he ventures, brown eyes focused not on the CAG but on the deck crew tugging the Raptor to the flight elevator. "Last flight."

Kai, similarly, is facing forward rather than watching Timon by this point. It's a conversation carried out by proxy of their communications equipment, as both pilots have their focus elsewhere. "Yep," he speaks into his helmet, bracing himself as the lift comes to a grinding halt— and ahead of them is wide open deck, and space beyond that. "Glad to be rid of me?" It's not particularly self-deprecating, though there is an undercurrent of amusement in the CAG's voice. The craft shudders as the engines are throttled up one at a time, tylium exhaust generating a miasmic haze outside the windscreen. The liftoff is a fairly gentle ascent, tail-first and then nose, as the raptor peels away from the deck and swings to starboard before sailing out into the black.


"Are you kidding?" Timon wonders, grinning faintly. "Let me rephrase, as you don't kid: it's nice to be ferried into battle. You're Automedon, son of Diores. Me? Swift-footed Akhilleus." His grin widens, pale skin a pallid white under the light of his helmet — not that the CAG can see him. The pilot relaxes in his seat as the Raptor takes off, the view in the cockpit shifting from Kharon's metal deck to a field of glimmering stars in less than three seconds. "Or Horseman Patroklos, as the case may be." That's self-deprecating.

"If you're implying that this is your chariot, and I am your charioteer — " The sound of engine numbers one and two simultaneously being powered up to full, and the raptor thundering away from Kharon's serenely-reclining hulk with enough force to jolt the pair back in their seats, puts a halt to conversation briefly. " — then you're overly romanticising things, Stathis." The humour's dry, but present. "No joy on DRADIS, switch to long range sensors on my mark. Bangbang, Shirt, patrol pattern delta four, we'll accompany you through sector five niner zero, then you're on your own."

"It's not my chariot," Timon agrees, brow furrowed. He's picking out the larger bits of debris and tagging them with names on DRADIS — there, in the distance, basestar Bravo-One; out further, basestar Bravo-Two; bracketed between them, the wreckage of Bellerophon and her convoy, green Colonial signals flickering into existence on the digital canvas of the Raptor's sensor display. Only when he's done does he tack on the punchline: "It's the Fleet's chariot. You just drive it."

That gets another laconic chuckle out of the Captain, his voice smoke-roughened and throaty even over the crackling comm system. Lacking the maneuvering prowess of the more fleet-footed vipers, he cuts the speed once they're away from the carrier, and turns on the raptor's 'headlights' so as to get a good view of the cluttered route ahead. "Heard Price had a bit of a sending-off the other night." His helmeted head lifts, then lowers to his console again, gloved hand steady on the flight controls as he pulls the craft into a short burn to starboard. "Sorry I couldn't attend." He does, actually, sound a bit disappointed there. About as much as a rabidly antisocial man like him, can.

"Ah," says Timon, with a slight hitch in his throat — this has caught him off-guard, though his flushing ears are thankfully hidden by his helmet. "Yeah. I won't lie and say I had nothing to do with that," he confesses, watching blasted metal scrap fly by as Foxbat-4 angles into the field. "If you must know, my co-conspirator was none other than Lieutenant Roubani. Our plan was to have a small, informal get-together. Word got out; things escalated." He tugs at his harness, checking its fit. "If you hear people making sheep noises around Case, now you know why."

"Sheep noises?" Kai queries after a pause, and a quick tap-tap of the port thrusters to bring them about again. Ghostly hunks of metal barbed with singed edges drift past their windscreen, floating in a soup of pulverised detritus. "And, somehow, that doesn't surprise me." About Roubani, that is. He switches back to tactical, "Nearing checkpoint one, Kharon, this is Spider. Sector five niner zero sweep is complete, commencing drone recovery test in ten. Bangbang, Shirt, good hunting out there."

"You probably don't want to know." Timon doesn't bother looking up; DRADIS tells him all he needs to know about what the two Vipers are doing, minus the wing-waggling and elevator-flapping and hot-dogging Bangbang and Shirt are undoubtedly pulling as they bank away from the Raptor. "About the sheep noises. The explanation's pretty vulgar. Anyway, training console's up — wait a second." All business, now. "Just lost power to the starboard coupling — and — " The pilot-turned-ECO blinks. "It's back up. Everything's green again."

"Roger that," Kai answers blandly into his helmet, regarding the training console being up. As to not wanting to know, he seems to be in silent agreement about that, and questions no further. "Log the error and make sure to get a data dump of it once we return to base," he informs Timon, briefly turning around to glance at the other man. Then flying the raptor once again commands his full attention, as he guides them through the wreckage of bravo-one. It's vaguely foreboding, and almost monolithic, even ruined as the enemy mothership is. "Eyes peeled. We're going to deactivate the drones' transponders, deploy each of them to preset coordinates hardcoded into their nav relays, then see if we can find them."

Timon doesn't respond for a brief moment, for his eyes are trained on the basestar lurking above them, one arm of it large enough to hold — "A wing of Raiders," he breathes, lips tight. Then: "Sorry," he mutters. "I've got the raw feed spooling to disk. We'll hand it over to the Chief, see if she can't make sense of it. Just to be sure, I'll also record what these drones are thinking before launch." He either doesn't know the technical term or doesn't feel like using it. "Usually I don't bother, but — if the goal here is to take down everything — " Ivory shrugs. "Anyway. Done. Coords uploaded; ready for launch on your mark."

Marek's not a very technically-minded man, except where his birds are concerned. He can rattle off a list of engine specs for a mark seven from memory, but can't get the coffee machine to brew him a cuppa. Something's wrong with that picture. "Good idea," he answers, eyes ticking back to DRADIS again as they come within range. His voice is difficult to gauge over the fuzzy comms, but there might even be a thread of approval in it. "I'd like you to do me a personal favour, Stathis." Silence, save for the crackle of the wireless, and the odd message broadcast from the two vipers continuing their patrol.

Ivory had been about to punch the Big Red Button (TM) the moment the CAG opened his mouth — on the assumption that whatever words Kai spoke would include the order to launch. It's a testament to his reflexes, then, that he stops his finger from depressing aforementioned button, looking up from his console. "I used up my first and last bottle of ambrosia on Rebound's bachelor party, if that's what you're after." A hint of humor creeps into his voice, his eyes crinkling as he speaks. "Anything else, though, I'll see what I can manage."

Kai's chuckle is brief, though not insincere. "I don't drink," he answers somewhat bluntly. He's sure taking his time pulling the raptor into position; they're jostled lightly by a shredded hunk of wing and tattered innards reminiscent of intestinal tubing, that undoubtedly belonged to a raider at some point before its untimely ripping apart at the seams. "I wondered if you might keep an eye on Thea for me."

Ivory's eyebrows shoot up, drawing new and temporary furrows on his forehead. "You mean on the Captain's flying?" he ventures hesitantly, warily. "She's better than I am. I don't think you have much cause to worry about her performance in the air, if that's what you're saying." Whether this is what Timon actually thinks the CAG is referring to or a clumsily-executed attempt to dodge the question is up in the air.

"You're jumping to conclusions again, Stathis." The CAG's accent kind of mangles Timon's name a little. Certain words give him more trouble than others, no matter how much he might try to cover it up. They're drifting now, Kai's hand on the control yoke and ready to move them in an instant if necessary. "I said it was a personal favour, not work-related. I'm concerned about her, and I don't think — " 'given our history' isn't said, but implied. " — I'm the right person to give her what she needs, right now. I'd like you to just keep an eye on her for me."

"Jumping," says Timon, his smile a little tighter than normal. "Yeah." If he could scratch the bridge of his nose with his hand, he would; instead, he settles for a few moments of silence checking and rechecking the metal ring around his neck. "I'm — I'm not sure what she needs now, myself," he says after a while. Thank the gods it's taking the CAG some time to maneuver into position. Coincidence? HMM. "I doubt she'll take well to a member of her brood watching out for her, but — I'll try, I guess, though I can't promise she'll respond any better to me than to you."

It's not like Kai isn't awkward about this his own self. Talking shop is so very much easier. Women? Confound him. "I don't need promises or guarantees, of anything beyond that you'll watch out for her." The raptor's pitch is adjusted, and the craft noses down smoothly, fore thrusters firing to bring it to a halt in the shadows of the ruined tombstones that comprise the basestar's graveyard. "Please." It might just be the first time the Captain's ever used that word, and that precise tone with Timon. He's not the sort to beg, but he does gently beseech.

Ivory hears it, all right — that tone is unmistakable even filtered and re-filtered and scrubbed of most inflection by his helmet's onboard comm. Too bad he has no idea how to respond, apart from a brief nod — up, down, up again — that signifies his assent. No references to the classics, no long-winded story, no lame jokes: the awkwardness is getting to him, too. Then, he's clearing his throat as he looks back down at his console, where stylized representations of the Raptor's onboard drones are blinking green. "Ready to launch on your mark," he says again.

The point isn't belaboured any further. There's beating a dead horse, and there's beating the reanimated, zombified corpse of a thrice-dead horse. "Mark," he speaks clearly into the comm. There's no fancy getting out of dodge this time, no putting his piloting skills to the test. This time? They get to sit back and wait for the self-guided drones to do their thing.

"Acknowledged." The Raptor shakes as the first of two dummy missiles is fired. "Port-side drone is away; burn looks — " Timon leans forward against his harness, its black fabric pressing against his shoulders as he squints at the web of text spiraling down the edge of his screen. "Looks good. Oh, and I've turned down plasma sensitivity on DRADIS so we can't just follow its exhaust trail. That'd be cheating." Which might be why he doesn't even follow the thing with his eyes. "Starboard-side is — "

It's at this point that several things happen in rapid succession: there's a sickening boom much louder than what usually comes when drones are launched, and then Foxbat-4 is suddenly arrowing into the wreckage of Bravo-1, propelled forward by the onboard engine of the drone that hasn't detached, and then lights that once had been green are now turning red in rapid succession. "Master alarm!" Timon shouts, gasping for air as he's thrown forcibly forward. "We're still attached!"

"Roger that," comes the CAG's mild reply as a few switches up front are flicked to the 'off' position. "Transponder is confirmed inactive." There's a rumbled chuckle, this one probably not quite heard over the comms, when Timon mentions cheating. His eyes cut from the drone blazing a trail off to their left, back to DRADIS. He's just in the process of spinning his seat around and leaning back to access secondary communications relays — to keep the drones from phoning home on alternate bands — when that starboard missile lights up with a BOOM and starts dragging them with it. Frak and hell. "Cut.. cut power to the armament relay — " It's hard to talk with the raptor picking up the velocity it has, and shuddering hard enough to rattle both pilots in their chairs. " — before the fuzing.. aligns. Kharon, this is Spider, we have an emergency situation here, requesting a raptor on standby for possible SAR — " THUMP, rattle, rattle, rattle. His gloved hand closes around the control yoke with some effort, teeth gritted as he tries to muscle the bird into complying before they impact the rapidly-approaching slab of basestar and blow themselves to smithereens.

Cutting power? Yeah, Ivory's already tried that. For kicks, he tries again — and then, wordlessly, he's scrambling to unbuckle himself and make his way to the main compartment and the drone's manual release. His fingers fumble with his clasp, scrabbling against cool metal until at long last he's free; two steps later and he's in position, reaching above him to grab a crowbar hooked in the netting separating the cabin from the cockpit; a second later and he's crouching down to pry open the bulkhead, rubberized boots clamping down hard on the deck to keep his footing. He's even managed to get the thing open when a particularly hard jink to port sends him flying backwards, crumpling against the hatch right as the hiss of smoke shoots out from the exposed piping, the ominous sparking of which can be heard even through the helmets they've got on. Then —

Well, if you thought the previous boom was bad, this one's like a thunderbolt fired by Zeus himself. Shrapnel from shattering metal peppers the rear compartment as the drone detaches at last, slamming into the basestar hull before breaking into a fine mist of component parts. Spider even gets a few moments of uninterrupted control before a third explosion rips through the Raptor's spaceframe: the barrier in the hypergolic fuel tank nestled in the starboard wing has just been ripped clean off its joints. Foxbat-4's dorsal thrusters are suddenly maxed as the smell of burning fuel seeps into the stricken vessel.

It's either irony or poetic justice that has the pair thinking along precisely the same lines at this apparent hour of their doom— Timon's already tried cutting power, and Kai's next suggestion was going to be hitting the manual release. It's textbook, and they both know their procedure, but knowing and doing are two different things, especially when you're about to be blown to kingdom come. Trusting that Timon's doing what he can with that crowbar, Spider clamps a second hand down on the control yoke, and puts all one hundred eighty odd pounds into trying to bring them out of their hurtling death march. Warning klaxxons are shrieking, red lights are popping up all over his console, but the sound of his hoarse breathing being recycled through his helmet is probably all he can hear. Pull up. Pull up. Pull the godsdamned stick up.

The proximity alarms cheerfully state that they're at precisely three metres to impact, when he finally manages to yank the raptor out of its nosedive. It lurches sideways, port thrusters kicking in with just enough oomph to swing them away from that hunk of basestar, but unfortunately setting them into a dangerous spin. Until the craft finally disgorges that drone. Followed by a fuel tank. BANG. BOOM. The three good engines kick up with a high-pitched whine as he struggles to regain control. "Ivory— Ivory, how're you doing back there? I need you to cut power.. cut power to those dorsal thrusters!"

All Kai will hear is a hiss of pain a few shades short of a scream, magnified tenfold over the shipboard comms as Timon presses a hand to his flightsuit. It comes away dripping with blood — boiling and bubbling and — floating, for the artificial gravity has gone the way of Foxbat-4's maneuvering thrusters. It takes a moment for Ivory to get his thoughts together, and when he does speak, it's in short and choking bursts: "Fire," he gasps, and then he's flailing about in zero-grav, trying desperately to push himself forward so he can reach the extinguisher out back. "RCS — it's burned through — "

What that's supposed to mean soon becomes clear as a gout of flame shoots out from what had been the EW console, launching into the air a spray of glass and charred wiring. The good news? Those dorsal thrusters are going to run out of fuel in about thirty seconds. The bad news? The Raptor will be nothing more than a fireball in about twenty.

"Kharon, Spider. Request immediate SAR at the following coordinates. Abandoning foxbat four, repeat, we are abandoning — " The rest of that message doesn't get through. Static engulfs the rest of what he was going to say as fire chews hungrily through the ship's wiring. Wasting no more time trying to actually pilot the blasted thing, Kai hastily unstraps himself from his seat, and quickly turns his head away as a blast of exploding circuitry shatters the paneling near his console. He swings out of his chair, and uses whatever handholds he can in the zero G environment to propel himself closer to Timon. He reaches out to grab him by the back of his flight suit, misses, and reaches again with a grunt. "I'll get the emergency hatch open. Focus. Hold onto me."

It's a good thing Kai left when he did — it doesn't take long for the stick to be consumed by flame, which reaches the bolts controlling the Raptor's ejection mechanism not half a moment later. Foxbat-4 shudders again as two seats slam against the canopy, metal crunching loudly against metal. If the CAG's head had been there

In the meantime, blood has drained rather precipitously from Timon's face, which would look almost corpselike if not for the fact that he's mouthing something that he can't quite manage to vocalize — something that looks like tape. One hand extends not to grab Kai but to point somewhere, at something behind him — something kept in the netting —

If the CAG's head had been there, Timon would have one less thing in life to worry about. Kai, on the other hand, may or may not even be aware of the messy death he just avoided. He's got less than twenty seconds to make an assessment of Timon's condition, get that hatch open, and get the both of them out before their raptor's consumed in a fireball. The heat and smoke spitting from various consoles is already starting to make everything hazy; his visor reflects the glow of fires hopping from wire to wire, sucking out the air in the compartment.

Finally managing to sling his arm around the younger man, Kai thumps on the hatch access panel twice, three times before giving up and reaching for the manual release lever. It's going to require some muscle power to get that thing open, and he's only got one free hand. There's another FWHOOMP as something goes up at the front of the craft, and takes out the windscreen with it. The vacuum of space instantly puts out any fire that gets sucked away, but doesn't help their still-hurtling raptor any.

This is the reason Timon's always the last person selected when picking teams for a game of charades. He'd say something if he could talk, but it's not like he's got full control of his vocal cords now, anyway: it's hard enough just to breathe, and what breaths he does take come quick and ragged and — wet, almost, if that's the word. In the meantime, he's trying his hardest to hold onto the CAG, blood seeping out of the ugly gashes in his flight suit before freezing the moment it hits air, or more precisely, the lack of it. The docs are going to have a really fun time with this one.

Hope Timon doesn't mind getting nice and cozy with his CAG. Because he's about to have zero choice in the matter. As their raptor all but begins to disintegrate around them, Kai wraps his arms around his 'self loading luggage' in what could be classified as a really big bear hug, and half-scrambles, half-kicks his way out the half-opened hatch. With the craft spinning, bitching betty bitching, and various things (including Timon's flight suit) on fire, it's difficult to tell in what order things happen next. There's heat, there's silence, there's the sound of something exploding, there's a hatch that won't fully deploy because the control mechanism's jammed.

The silence is definitely the last thing.

[Foxbat-7: Matto] Foxbat-7 clears proximity of Kharon, turning as it rises and then setting off into a smooth course away from the vessel along a standard CAP trajectory, for now, until the DRADIS can give them more information on the situation.

[Foxbat-4: Timon] It's a testament to her pilot's skill that Foxbat-4 has not gone the way of her errant drone — that is to say, she's not debris. The lifeless Raptor emerges from the shadow of a broken Cylon basestar, borne forward not by her engines — for indeed, all of those are silent — but by inertia alone. She's spinning in lazy, drunken arcs, rotating about her vertical axis like some deranged ballerina, fully half of her starboard wing gone missing. Only when Matto and Komnenos get closer will they see the full extent of the damage: Foxbat-4's cockpit is exposed to space, her frame still edged with jagged plexiglass, her hull burned a sickening grey-black, her interior a mess of blood and wires and molten slag.

And her crew? Nowhere to be found.

[Foxbat-7: Matto] Still too far for visual confirmation, especially through the debris field between here and there, Foxbat-7 nevertheless seems to have caught sight of its drifting counterpart, its flightpath decidedly in that direction, if less direct than normal in deference to the larger bits of floating ship which really ought to be avoided.

[Foxbat-4: Kai] As Foxbat-7 swims through the debris field and inexorably closer to its burned-out brethren, it might be difficult to pick out anything of worth amongst the husks of shredded raiders and unidentifiable wreckage. A relatively intact arm of the basestar extends out for hundreds of metres, having at one time provided a launch platform for the enemy fighters— now, it's collided with heavily by the out of control raptor, shearing off a section of its flank and sending pieces careening in various directions. While Foxbat-7's sensors won't pick them up with all the interference, a keen eye however might spot a huddled shape adrift between slabs of paneling and torn hoses; it looks distinctly like two figures in flight suits, one of them with his or her arms wound securely about the other, who looks either dead or unconscious by the way he or she is slumped.

[Foxbat-7: Matto] Foxbat-7 slows as it approaches the drifting and now more or less decimated 4. It hangs there a moment in the big empty, as if uncertain, before it begins to roll, pivoting on two axes at once and beginning to accelerate along the peak of a parabola as it does so, continuing to curve less acutely as it approaches the pair of huddled suits in an oblique approach, coming up alongside at a respectable distance of about five meters.

Not too long later, the hatch of the Raptor opens. The cabin had already reached decompression, evidently, since there's no great rush of air particles happily rushing to escape. Only one particle. The Thorn particle?

[Foxbat-7: Komnenos] There's a slight puff of residual air as the hatch opens, and the flight suited form of Thorn emerges, tethered to his bird by a thick cable. He drifts over slowly towards the pair of flightsuits huddled together against the morbid backdrop. Finally, he reaches the two, and after a brief pause, gets a hold of both forms and begins to retract the tether.

[Foxbat-4: Timon] The pair of huddled suits doesn't un-huddle as Thorn heads out of the hatch and reels them in. They won't be rotating much either, though the one that's not unconscious does make an effort to swim forward to meet their savior, one hand waving slowly and laboriously while the other holds a body — a tall one, limp and unmoving. The two slip inside with ease.

[Foxbat-7: Matto] Kissy pushes up the lever once again, locking it into place as the hatch begins to close. Once it's clicked into place, he repressurizes the cabin and gets on STC, "CIC, Madman, Spider and Ivory have been retrieved and we are expediting RTB. Please scramble a medical team to the deck."

The Spider half of the pilot-ball looks conscious, at least. The Ivory half, on the other hand… not so much. Both of them are singed and covered in blood, though the latter looks to actually belong to Timon. As soon as they're safe and sound inside the raptor, Kai's down on his knees and trying to assess the situation with his erstwhile ECO.

One doesn't need an M.D. to figure out that the situation is very much not good. The front of Timon's flight suit would be slick with blood if said blood hadn't already congealed — makeshift clots that have only partially shielded him from the ravages of space, which is to say, they haven't at all. What skin of his is visible has been drained of all color. Luckily, the flame-retardant cloth from which his jock smock is made has worked as advertised, though it might well be fused to the skin of his left arm (which looks like it's suffered the brunt of the damage). And for some stupid, strange reason, he's still got a crowbar clutched in the fingers of his right hand.


Thorn wasn't far from the hangar when the SAR call went out; he's already here, suited up and running through preflight. He pauses momentarily to pull on his helmet, tapping at the seal to ensure it's locked in place. That done, he runs through the last remaining items on his checklist as he waits for his pilot to board.

Matto comes on deck, hastefully re-checking his gear as he goes, jumping up the ramp of the prepped Raptor and sliding up front. Not having been as near to hand, he passes Thorn with a muffled, "Who're we looking for?" as he settles in, gearing up systems already suitably prepped, expediting the checklist and pushing up the lever to get the hatch to close up, fastening in while it does.

Thorn's head tilts aside as he hears the voice behind him. "Spider and Ivory," he says promptly. His tone is businesslike, but he can't hide a hint of concern in his voice as he finishes his prep. "Clear t' launch as soon as we get the word from CIC."

Matto reports as much into the wireless and then sits at the ready, tapped into nav and hand just settled over launch execution as he wonders back, "Spider and Ivory? Do we know what happened?"

"Some kind of accident, I think," Thorn replies. "They weren't too specific on the details, though." With systems online and ready to go, Thorn sits back in his seat, occasionally looking forward to peer out through the canopy.

Matto gets a little antsy waiting for the OK, but just as he's about to actually make some gesture of impatience, the OK to scramble comes through. "Great," he lets out the breath that he was holding, then, into the wireless, "CIC, Madman, I hear you, launching immediately." And he means it, too, as the ship doesn't even wait until he's done reporting to begin to rise from the deck, turning away from the vessel as it clears proximity.

Thorn scowls at his DRADIS console. "I'm not reading any Colonial transponder signals…" He squints at something. "… wait. I've got something at three-four-niner carom eight-three-eight. Looks like our Raptor." There's a long intake of breath as he continues to study the readings. "I'm not reading any active power signatures… looks t' be adrift."

Matto sets the course as Thorn reads it off, proceeding with as much speed as possible, which, given the circumstances, isn't very much of it. "Can you get any heat signatures from it, or is the heat from the engines still obfuscating?" he asks back: after all, even if the engines are offline they'd take a little time to cool down. His lips then press together as he takes the forward third of the maneuvering thrusters on manual to try to get through the soup without getting knocked about by anything drifting.

"All this shit is frakkin' with DRADIS t' no end," Thorn replies with another frown. "There's a couple barely noticeable heat signatures, but I can't tell if that's from th' Raptor or some of this other drek floating around." He hunches over, hurriedly punching commands into his console, his eyes locked on the readouts.

Matto becomes quickly rather engaged with the effort of keeping track of the debris rather closer to the vessel, his attention not extending much past the next three or four obstacles presented along the course. "Right, well, at least we've got a course. Let's get out there and then see what we see," he mutters, voice a little on the tensely distracted side as he keeps his attention directed dead ahead.

With a muffled curse, Thorn throws his hands up in disgust at the spectacular lack of answers his scanners are providing. Reflexively, he looks forward through the canopy again; his eyes are still working, at least. He's about to look back to his console, though, when he catches something out of the corner of his eye. A thoughtful frown on his face, he unstraps himself from the back seat, taking a step up to the cockpit. "What th' frak is that?" he asks, perplexed, pointing out through the glass. "Looks like…" His eyes flick over to the damaged Raptor, which is now close enough for him to make out the jagged hole in the other ship's canopy. Then, back to the shape of what looks like twin flightsuits as he puts the pieces together. "That's got t' be them," he says, softly but urgently.

Matto's teeth grind together a little as he comes through the field of debris just in time to see the other Raptor get sheared in half by the wing of the Basestar. Something tightening in his stomach, he nonetheless keeps his shit together in the manner one would expect from a military pilot. When Thorn comes up into the co-pilot's seat, he turns his attention toward him, then peers where he seems to be looking, breath coming a little bit easier, though not by much. "Okay," he says. "Pull out the internal tether and get hooked up. I'll get us close, you go grab them, yah?"

Thorn is startled by the sudden flash of the exploding Raptor, but not so much so as he'd have been had he not already spotted the forms of Kai and Timon. He nods briskly, heading back to the other end of the Raptor. "Right," he replies, reaching to attach the tether to his belt.

"Decompressing," Kisseus announces, unlocking the safeties and decompressing the chamber so that opening the hatch doesn't cause any sort of mass expulsion of air. He then unlocks the hatch controls, "Opening the hatch."


Matto doesn't waste any more time than is necessary to get the Raptor through the soup with a minimum of getting knocked about, and, once they've landed, the hatch is opening before he even bothers beginning to power down the other systems, in order to let the medical teams in or the wounded pilots out, or some combination of the two.

Thorn's face is rather ashen as the hatch pops open; his eyes flick over to Timon when they're not on his console. "Y' poor, dumb, unlucky frak," he whispers at the insensate form of the Raptor pilot, worry in his tone. He stays out of the way, though, letting the medical squad undoubtedly hustling towards the open hatch of the Raptor do their work.

Well, it could be worse: Timon could be trapped up there in that burned-out husk of a raptor still, fused to his sensor panel. Instead, he has to suffer the ham handed CAG and his insistence on helping remove his copilot from the raptor as a medical team comes rushing into the hangar bay. Timon's helmet is ripped off by Kai in preparation for the medics shoving breathing tubes down his throat and loading him up onto a stretcher. And then? Then, there's not much more for the Captain to do but pull back and watch as his pilot's carted away. He's still got Timon's blood on his gloved hands, and caked to his flight suit. Some of that might even be his own, it's hard to say. "Madman," he addresses Matto after a stilted pause, "I want what's left of that raptor towed back. Tell the Chief I'd like a look at the logs, if they're salvageable, first thing in the morning."

Matto is lucky to be facing away from the sight; he tries to turn to look, but can't quite make himself do so, as if his acknowledging the wounds would somehow make them worse. The medicoes are at their appointed tasks, and that's better than anything he could do for Timon right now, anyway. So he goes about powering down the Raptor, methodically, system by system, by the book, barely breathing for fear of hearing the worst sort of news from the medical in the back. Or, rather, he does until the Captain gives him the further assignment, acknowledged with a simple, "Sir," as he powers up what systems had gotten powered down so far.

Thorn simply turns back to his station as new orders are given, toggling his systems back on line as he wordlessly prepares for the next trip back out into the void.

The gurney team is already in place, and now they push their way into the recovery Raptor in a flurry of movement, shoving aside anybody stupid enough to get in their way. The lead paramedic is already making her diagnosis as her men lift Ivory's body and strap him down: "Multiple shrapnel wounds," she barks, pressing her stethoscope to his chest as the team runs for the stairwell: "Decreased breath sounds — somebody get his pulse ox, WBC count — looks like two big entries, fifth and fourth left intercostal spaces — make ready trauma four!"

The rest of what she says is lost as she disappears with her cargo into the bowels of the ship.

Kai apparently has no intention of babysitting the two men on their return trip. They know their jobs perfectly well. Instead, he climbs the rest of the way out of the raptor, and hauls off his helmet as he strides through the hangar bay after the medical team. He might be headed down to sickbay, or he might be headed for CIC, to apprise command of the situation. Hard to say.

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