2235-04-12 - Van's Toaster Intro

Van gets his first taste of Toaster over Triton.

Date: 2235-04-12

Location: PNAB Triton, Hyperion, Picon

Related Scenes: None

Plot: None

Scene Number: 573

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The sun shines through light cloud-cover, weak and watery in the midst of a Hyperion spring. Still, it turns the bay into silvered glass, shattering lens-flares over the city like only an over-enthusiastic Caprican director would. Ensign Van Newton studied it through the tinted visor of his helmet, picking out the destroyer Edna Vigil at the Amphitrite docks.

"Milkman, Crosser. You said your family was in town for the Fair?" One good thing about Lieutenant Criss is that he always takes an interest in his wingmen, and like Van does, they usually appreciate it.

"Crosser, Milkman. Just my sister and her wife. I'm on leave starting tonight. Gonna cruise by the Half Hitch with Monkey, Quarters, and Tossup, and then meet up with 'Nique and Becca tomorrow." Van's words are accompanied by a broad grin that the other pilot can't see, and a chuckle of anticipation that he can easily hear.

"That sounds like a pretty good time to me, Milkman. Just the right amount of fun and family." Sobering a little from his own chuckles, Crosser triggers the secondary channel, "Rattler Flight, this is Squire Flight, I have you in visual contact. Come around to 232-degrees to join up on us for the flyover."

"Rattler Flight Acknowledges." Van grimaces a little inside his helmet, craning his neck to spot the pair of Cylon-piloted Vipers from No. 393 Squadron as they sweep in to join himself and Crosser. The Cylon pilots were efficient, no doubt about it, but they didn't fly with any panache, and they were boring as all hell to fly with -- no chatter at all.

"Squire Flight, this is Team Zone," Triton air traffic control, renamed in honor of the game being played between the Panthers and the C-Bucs right now, calls in, and Van frowns as Crosser acknowledges the call. The controller's voice sounds... anxious. "We have unconfirmed reports that the President has claimed that Cylons attacked him..."

Even as he listens to the controller, something catches Van's eye: the two Cylon-piloted Vipers aren't joining up on Crosser's wing, they're dropping in behind the pair of them. "Break left, Crosser! Break!" The tracers reaching out from the Cylon Vipers stretch almost sluggishly toward Crosser as adrenaline floods Van's system, but he knows that the warning is late.

Crosser almost makes it, snapping his Viper over into a sharp break away from Van almost immediately, but either the warning or the pilot's reaction isn't fast enough, and KEW rounds chew into his right wing, knocking the Viper off-course as secondary explosions burst from the ammo storage. Van barely sees this at all, however, as he's already flicking his own stick over to the right, rolling and diving away from the No. 393 birds.

"...Lords of Kobol!" Gunfire and screams come from the Triton control tower over the wireless, and then the voice returns, jumpy and worried, "Squire Flight, Cylons have attacked Team Zone, repeat, Cylons have attacked Team Zone! Look out for Rattler Flight."

The words settle into Van's subconscious, but most of his attention is on the three other Vipers in his immediate area. There's more chatter bursting over channels, but it's all he can do to keep peering around him as he dives for the deck, straight toward the gleaming water. Crosser pulls out of his dive shakily, but the two 393 Vipers are on his tail, closing in on Crosser's smoke-trailing craft.

"I've got two on me, Milkman. I'm going to try to lose these malfunctioning circuit-monkeys." Crosser's voice is tense, sharp, and he weaves back and forth, his Viper moving awkwardly as he avoids sprays of KEW rounds.

"Turn to... oh-three-oh, Crosser, I've got you covered." The senior pilot complies with Van's suggestion immediately -- only to have the two Cylon-piloted Vipers dart over to cut him off. "Frak me! They're still on our frequency!" Crosser's ship takes another glancing hit as Van streaks back toward the fray, peripherally aware that explosions are popping up across the land, sea, and sky about him as other Cylons presumably strike out at the humans around them.

Crosser dives away from the Cylons, followed by the pair of Cylons, and then by Van, each of the trailers trying to draw a bead on their quarry. Van triggers off a pair of short bursts, hitting nothing but water, and then shakes his head, starts to call a maneuver for Crosser on wireless again, then shuts his mouth in frustration. Instead, he chases after the Cylons another moment, and then a slow grin spreads across his face.

"Crosser, Milkman. You ever see that horrible Caprican flick On Wings of Fire? Remember the finale?"

There's a pause, and then Lieutenant Criss comes back, "Oh... you don't mean... I don't think that's a good idea, Milkman..."

"On my mark." There's a beat pause as Van studies the waterfront ahead of him, "Mark."

And Crosser puts on all of his maneuvering thrusters, coming to nearly a dead stop for a moment, and the two Cylons and Van whip past him, the second Cylon just barely avoiding running into the nearly-hovering Viper. "Yeeeeow!" Van cries, as his tracers reach out... not for the Cylon Vipers, but for a crane jutting out over the bay. They strike home, and it begins to topple in front of the fighters.

Van hauls back on his stick even as Crosser does his best to recover from the sudden stall, and the Cylon-piloted Vipers have to maneuver even more frantically to avoid the sudden collapse of the automated crane. It sends up a huge splash as it hits the bay, but by the time Rattler Flight has recovered, Van is back on Crosser's wing, and the four Vipers are turning toward one another on much more even terms.

As they whip toward the Cylon-piloted fighters, Crosser orders, "Milkman, Crosser, go to channel the number of drinks you had on our last night of leave."

Van nods fiercely to himself, flicking over to the given channel -- 8, it was not a pleasant morning -- and notes, "Crosser, Milkman. I've got another idea."

The response comes back immediately, "You got the last idea, Milkman, this time we try mine. I'm going to try to sucker the leader in, down low, you bounce them from on-high."

Van grimaces a little, but nods, "Acknowledged." The quartet of Vipers flash past one another, tracer rounds reaching out and... almost entirely missing one another. Van feels his Viper jump a little as he takes a glancing hit to the wing, but then he's pulling up and rolling to haul his ship into a rising circle, gaining altitude as Crosser dives for the deck again and turns into the Cylons. "I see them, they're turning into you, Crosser."

Crosser acknowledges, and turns toward Amphtrite, drawing the two Cylon Vipers after him. "Wait for it, wait for it, Milkman. When the time comes, go for the wingman." Tracers lick out towards Crosser, "But I want them focused on me..." His ship takes another grazing blow, and he calls, "Do it, Milkman!"

And Van is diving, even as his nerves start to catch up to him, adrenaline sparkling through his limbs. Tracers lash the sky again, and they strike home on the Cylon wingman, even as Crosser flips his Viper end for end and fires on the leader with his remaining KEW. There are three explosions -- the Cylon element lead taking a hit to the cockpit and starting to tumble toward the water, Crosser's engine taking a hit and gouting smoke, and the Cylon wingman losing a wing but starting to roll aside.

Van bares his teeth, screaming and steepening his dive well sharper than he should, manhandling his stick to keep his sights on the rolling Cylon Viper. He triggers off another burst, and this time he's so close that pieces of the Viper splash across his own ship, shaking the stick in his hand and sending cracks across his cockpit. But it does the job, the Cylon ship starting to nose over out of control and headed toward the water.

And then Van realizes that the scream wasn't just his as he watches Crosser's Viper crash into a pier just outside of Amphtrite, the second scream cutting off just as flames flare outside his cockpit. Dully, he switches back to his last channel, "Team Zone, Milkman. Crosser's down, no chute. He got one before he went down though. And I got one too. Splash One."

But there's so much panicked chatter that it's hard to tell if anyone got the message, and Van starts to pull his Viper up, giving Amphtrite a wide berth as he realizes that some of the anti-aircraft artillery is Cylon-controlled. The blaze of a missile launch is visible above him and to the north, and he turns toward it as he watches a Raptor blow a Viper out of the sky, then quickly dive to avoid another Viper's pass. He's not entirely sure how he's going to tell which one's friend and which one's foe besides getting close enough to look in the cockpit, but it's clear that there are still people up here who need help.

Besides, he's already got one kill, but he figures he needs at least four more to avenge Crosser.

Unfortunately, when he lands back at Triton, his Viper battered, blasted, running on fumes, and out of ammo, he'll find that the debris strike wrecked his guncam (not that anyone has time to check footage), and not only did he lose his element lead, but he's still officially scoreless.

And there's still much, much worse news to come.


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