09.08.3013: Nubilus Recon
Summary: A group of glider pilots run a recon flight on Nublius.
Date: 4 September 2013
Related: None
Antaeus Ariana Keanen Rebecca Viannea 

In a Transport Glider flying over several mountain peaks.
Clouds and Mountains
8 September 3013

The Lashes of Oculus have been the subject of Hostile landings during both their first and second attack waves. But the moon of Nubilus is not like most places in the Haven system: most of it's surface is uninhabitable, nothing but barren mountainous terrain with a toxic lower atmosphere. It's population centers, like the capital city of Summit, are build high above the clouds, and all transport across the moon is via either Waygate or air - using the planet's famous Gliders. This simple fact has created natural containment for the the moon's Hostile incursions. Even the largest of their landing forces remains restricted to a plateau well away from any of the cloud cities.
This scenario of natural separation has bred a feeling of safety among the moon's populace, but the moon's leadership, House Larent, is still keen to keep tabs on their 'guests.' Recon flights are regularly made over various landing sites, and today another such excursion is being put together, this one aimed to fly closer to the main hostile landing zone. Lord Percival Larent, the House's patriarch, has placed his son Antaeus in charge of the mission, and his supplies are waiting here in the Sky Palace's glider launch bay, including the mid-sized military light transport glider that will be their 'ride' for the excursion.

Antaeus Larent is currently checking up on the final preparations before the mission is to start. Several men in the employ of House Larent are directed to load the transport glider with the supplies provided to them by his father. In preparation for any potential combat, he is donning his defender armor, which is etched with the trappings of his house. Gazing over those who have assembled to be a part of the mission, he offers the following comments, "As you all know, we will be scouting out the primary hostile LZ. This operation is going to be about gathering intelligence on our unwelcomed guests. If things get a little hairy, non-combat personnel should stick to defensible positions until assistance can arrive. Are there any questions?"

Sergeant Rebecca Mordain has been loaned out by the Rovehn military for this excursion, due to her scouting skills. She is without her horse or her falcon, not willing to expose them to any dangers of the lower atmosphere. The Red Wraith, as she is known to many, is suited up in her scout armor, with a variety of weaponry attached to it. Bow, crossbow, knives, longsword. She bristles dangerously. She looks at the glider curiously. She's been in them a few times, during her wanderings.

Normally Viannea Peake prefers to stick closer to home and fight the Hostiles on more familiar territory but this time she finds herself wishing for nothing but to help Antaeus and his family as a way to thank them all for Antaeus' support during the ambush he took part in. The Lady Knight is armored and armed, her Defender Armor repaired, her sword drawn and used to lean against, tip held to the ground. A quick glance is given to Antaeus and then a shake of her head, there being no questions for him from her.

Keanen wanders into the bay. He's wearing a shiny black and crimson skin-tight gliding suit worn by speed and stunt glider recreational pilots that looks not so different from the body suits worn by water surfers. His heavy black leather boots make a bit of noise as he strolls casually across the bay, a matching helmet strapped to a buckle at his waist beside the holstered blaster that is also there. His long hair is pulled back in a pony tail and he smiles as he approaches the others. "I didn't miss the party, did I kids?" He tosses a glance to Rebecca, giving her a wink and an obnoxious 'you're hot' kind of point, before looking at Viannea and noting, "You're gonna dull your sword doin' that, babe."

The transport, like most of Nubilus' gliders, follows the design of a single central fuselage with two gravity lifts on props, and a rear engine directly behind the reactor on the main body. In this model, the hull includes a passenger or cargo chamber behind the two-seater cockpit. Used primarily for reconnaissance, light transportation, and search & rescue, it has a significiant onboard electronics and communications suite and sufficient lift for a small party of armored soldiers or a more lightly-geared party and some cargo.

As one of the techs helps Antaeus with his armor, he comments, "I've double checked the atmospheric seals, my lord. So long as you avoid any major breaches, you should be good for easily an hour in the lower atmosphere. The emergency backups are really only for that - they'll hold if you breach, but the atmosphere will quickly begin to corrode them, so if your suit is damaged you should get back above the air line as fast as you can."
Similar instructions are given to the rest of the group, as well: even the civilians are advised to wear sealable environment suits, in the case of any exposure to the lower atmosphere.

While her brother makes certain that everything is in order, Ariana Larent is on her comm, speaking with someone back at her lab on the Ring, "Please do run the test again and be perceptive of any noticeable changes. I'll be back in the laboratory early tomorrow morning to review your results." As she speaks, she takes a few pacing steps forward and then back, before finally shutting off communication with her colleague. Even while she was preoccupied with her work call, being a decent multitasker, she has been flipping through the information provided, hearing the droning of Antaeus' voice in the background as he speaks to the gathered scouting party. Her eyes lift from her datapad for a moment and this is when she notices Keanen's arrival which makes her look just a bit surprised. "Lord Keanen, I didn't think you were free to join us today."

Rebecca gets eyed by Keanen and she blinks a couple of times at the Arboren before triggering the helmet on her armor to seal up. That way he can't see her rolling her eyes. Young people these days. "Phantom, make sure all seals are intact. Priority notification of any seal breaches once we get into the lower atmosphere."

Antaeus offers the tech a firm nod. "Thank you, I will make sure to keep track of that should the need arise." That said, he dismisses the man once he has completed his duties. Going over a mental checklist in his head briefly, Antaeus looks at the group. "Alright, Lord Arboren, if you would be willing, I would ask that you pilot our craft during this excursion. The Lady Ariana will act as our science and medical officer. Lady Viannea and Mrs. Mordain, I ask that you both be ready to respond should we need to engage any Hostiles. If there is nothing further, please board the transport and we shall begin."

Keanen looks over at Ariana, "I'm free," he answers, with a touch of unfriendliness accented with a role of his eyes. He nods at Antaeus, "Sweet!" He then strolls all the way around the glider, gently, almost lovingly, dragging his fingers along the hull as he goes, caressing the machine as he does some kind of preflight ritual that Ariana likely recognizes.

Viannea nods. "Of course, Lord Antaeus." The woman steps into the transport and then shuffles to the side, making sure everyone can fit inside without having to jostle each other. Like before, Vi's all business, serious to the point of being sober, hopefully insuring her that she'll be on her A-game.

Ariana offers the gathered group a polite smile once her brother lists everyone by name and position during this mission. "Thank you all for your assistance. As with anywhere in Haven, any sort of Hostile activity is taken seriously and though we do not believe that our enemies have the means to leave the plateau which they had landed upon, we can't simply let them remain there." She does note the chilliness of Keanen's words, but does not inquire on them at this very moment. Instead, she merely watches him perform his usual preflight ritual. She awaits for everyone to board before she steps into the transport herself.

Rebecca boards the transport and takes her seat, buckling in and checking that all her weapons are secured. She nods to the other members of the scouting party politely.

Keanen finishes his circuit and then taps the machine three times with his cybernetic hand. He smiles, and then takes the helmet from his belt and pulls it over his head, latching the seal with a hiss before hopping up the ramp into the transport. "Let's see what this piece of shit can do!" And then he lets out a crazy whoop holler as he flops into the pilot's seat. "Strap it in, kids," he calls over his shoulder as he attaches his oxygen and powers up the glider like he was born in this machine. A few seconds later, the engines whir to a loud humm and the doors seal shut.

Once the glider is away from the landing bay, the moon's famous 'cloud sea' opens before them, a seemingly endless expanse of fluffy white vapor pierced occasionally by the greatest mountain peaks. The relevant mission data has already been loaded onto the glider's computers, including both wind-current and topographical maps marked with data from previous recon flights. The map lays out three points for further recon, labeled alpha, beta and gamma, with alpha the closest and the other two equidistant from it, creating a triangular survey area.
Point alpha, likely the first for the glider to reach unless the group takes a more circuitous approach, is a fairly jagged peak, even by the moon's standards. The topographical maps do suggest a few ledges, cliffs, and other 'safe' places where a hostile pod could theoretically make a landing, although any one would be dangerous.

Rebecca is not accustomed to flying, so there is a tiny bit of tension in her grip on the arms of her seat. She tries to think like her falcon, Ghost, and that calms her a bit. Faith in the wings holding you up.

As they near Destination Alpha, Antaeus asks, "Lord Keanen, I think it would be best to do a high pass around the peak, and then do several more passes, getting closer each time to see if we pick up any signs of Hostile activity. If we don't see anything by the time the third pass is made? Well, we can decide on our course of action when that happens."

Keanen nods, lifting his hand up in the air to Antaeus, "Aye aye, Cap'n." He laughs as he flies the glider along a path that's just slightly indirect towards the first point, just indirect enough he can take a few fancy banks testing the handling of the machine a little. He flips a couple switches, and then announces, "Hold onto your sacks, kids. We're starting our approach."

Vi's just listening and watching, the silent sentinel keeping as much of her attention on what s being said and done as she can. Every once in a while she gets a status update from her armor's AI, that information fed to her directly and left for her notice alone.

Despite the accident which mars Keanen's gliding record, Ariana looks to be confident enough in their pilot that she's able to take the time to survey the landscape from her viewscreen. At their distance, she sees nothing and thus her attention shifts briefly to observe the analysis of the air composition surrounding the plateau itself. Everything seems normal. When time is permitted, she quickly looks over the group to ensure that everyone is, at least, comfortable during this journey…especially, when Keanen announces their approach, she nearly senses something of that daredevil spirit taking over. "Careful there, My Lord. These do not handle as well as the sporty gliders you are used to." It's not a chastizing tone which she uses, but more of a reminder!

Rebecca focuses on breathing slowly, watching the others, rather than the windows. She is silent, relying on her training to keep her calm.

As Lord Keanen turns the transport inward toward the peak, the initial challenges become obvious: First, picking out any useful visual details from the jagged rocks will be quite challenging without getting very, very close, although this is a challenge the daredevil Arboren might just enjoy. Second, the alternative to visual survey, use of the glider's sensor suite, faces interference from the high metal content of the rocks. Nubilus is famous for it's mining, but these natural assets make it somewhat more difficult to accurately differentiate a hostile pod's hull from the surrounding rocks.

<FS3> Ariana rolls Electronics: Failure.
<FS3> Keanen rolls Gliding: Good Success.

The first pass bears this out; Keanen indeed gets the glider fairly close in, enough so that the passengers might be able to attempt visual surveys of their own, although Ariana's attempt to pick anything unusual on the scanners reveals only the expected background readings: airflow, ambient magnetics, heat, all of these seem baseline for the mountains themselves.

Antaeus steps over to Ariana who is handling the glider's sensors and glances over her shoulder to see what is currently going on. It would seem that not much is going on at the moment actually. "Are the scanners having problems, Lady Sister?" He frowns at the blank screen, even going so far as reaching over her shoulder and tapping the screen, as if that was a solution to the problem.

<FS3> Rebecca rolls Alertness: Failure.
<FS3> Antaeus rolls ALertness: Great Success.
<FS3> Viannea rolls Alertness: Success.

Rebecca has her eyes closed for a the moment, trying to stop feeling queasy.

Leaning towards one of the windows at the right time gives Viannea a good view of what they're flying past and something that strikes her as being very, very strange. "Lord Antaeus. There seems to be something not quite right." Not sure how to put it into words, she motions for him and any of the others who might want to look, trying to get them to where they might be able to see the strangeness that she discovered while observing the peak.

Keanen shouts, "Close enough for ya, ladies?" he asks, glancing back at Antaeus in particular. He laughs, and then furrows his brow a bit, adjusting a few controls, and then leaning forward to look out the side of the cockpit a bit at the cliffs. "I can get closer if you need it," he shouts, confidently.

Antaeus has spotted this as well, "Good catch, Lady Viannea." Offering her a quick smile, he turns to Keanen and nods. "Lord Keanen, if you can get closer in such a fashion that can give us a bit of cover from anyone or anything that might be there, I would have you do it. I hear you are quite a pilot, now's the time to prove it, My Lord." A grin is flashed in Keanen's direction, perhaps encouraging the man more than what is necessary.

Seeing nothing out of ordinary, Ariana switches views of the camera again, until Viannea brings up some oddity out on the peak. "What do you think you see out there, My Lady?" She asks, but now it seems that even her brother has spotted something peculiar enough to warrant this attention. So quietly, she observes the appointed section of mountain, in the hopes that she will be able to notice something too.

Keanen smiles, "You bet your ass I can," he responds, reaching to an overhead switch and making another quick adjustment with his cybernetic hand. The engines hum a bit louder for a moment as he makes a banked turn to set up another pass, and then they settle a little quieter. "Watch yourselves back there, we may get a bit of turbulence as we get closer…" And the glider begins to lurch just a hair as it dives nearer.

<FS3> Keanen rolls Gliding-1: Failure.

The glider begins to lower, but bringing it down so close to the rocks is a challenge. If the sighting Lord Antaeus and Lady Viannea made is indeed evidence of a hostile landing, one might imagine the difficulties they might have faced coming down. After all, the gliders are specially built for Nubilus' atmosphere and gravity. Hostile landers? Probably not.
But right now, the difference is moot: A bit of wind shear, and the rocks are suddenly -very- close, and a proximity alarm begins blaring.

Rebecca turns green, then white, and she plants a hand over her mouth, which is useless as there is a helmet between her palm and her lips. She manages not to puke at the dip, thankfully. Puking in your helmet would be BAD.

Viannea braces herself, unflappable despite Keanen's little piloting error. "It was almost as if part of the peak wasn't natural, I believe? I couldn't make out what it was because of the cloud cover. Bet you they're using those clouds to conceal something big." And probably deadly.

So very used to even the bumpiest rides in a glider, Ariana is not affected at all by the turbulence. That said, she once more looks to the others in the group, knowing that some are not frequent fliers when it comes to Nubilus skies….. or any skies. While Viannea doesn't seem disturbed by this, perhaps it is merely Rebecca's body language, even in when in her armor, that might attract the medic's attention. "Is everyone feeling okay? I know that this might be considered a little frightening and… disorienting, but if you need any medication to keep yourselves calm and to fight off motion sickness, I always keep some available. Especially for glider rides." Once Viannea begins to speak, she is drawn back towards her viewscreen to try and catch a glimpse of this mysterious thing.

<FS3> Keanen rolls Gliding-1: Success.

Rebecca triggers her helmet to open and nods to Ariana. "Please. Don't fly much." Or ever.

The flashing red light and proximity alarm make Keanen huff, "I saw it, I saw it. Shut up, girl, I'm flying here…" His hand quickly silences the alarm as he attempts to steady things and adjust the flight. As things seem to settle, he shouts back to Ariana, "I could use something to relax me," he volunteers. Maybe he's kidding. Surely he's kidding. Right?

Under Lord Keanen's steady hand, the glider is steadied, and the potential impact between the right pylon and the nearby cliffs is averted. The corrective maneuver brings the glider into a stable hover and allows it to be further lowered toward the small ledge where the irregularity had been noted. Indeed, after a few moments, the ship is hovering quite close, and no further guesswork is needed. Right there, for all the crew to see, is a portion of a hostile landing pod jutting out of a crack in the rocks. Another portion of the pod is few meters further down, settled on a small ledge.

Unbuckling herself from her own seat, Ariana carefully makes her way to where Rebecca is seated and crouches down beside the woman. Undoing the cap on her bottle, she pours 2 tiny pills into the woman's hand. "Those will dissolve easily in your mouth. Don't worry, they taste like ginger." For a moment, she braces herself until Keanen can get things under control, she then rises to full height now, adding in, "Unless… you don't like the taste of ginger. But the effects should work almost immediately to at the very least, soothe your stomach." Lifting a brow now, her attention turns to Keanen and she quickly places the original bottle back into her medkit, while reaching for another. "I'm afraid that alcohol isn't being served on this flight, My Lord."

Antaeus glances out at the remains of the hostile landing pod with an annoyed expression. Annoyance that these things would dare taint Nubilus' surface with their presence. To Ariana he asks, "Have you been able to activate our scanning equipment? I am curious to see if we can detect any lifesigns." Glancing over to Keanen, "Can you take us around slowly so we can get a good look at the area? I want to see if we can detect any visible signs that anything has survived or not."

Rebecca doesn't even know what ginger is, outside of the soda they give to children from time to time. She takes the pills without complaint, and seems to get some color back to her face almost instantly. "Thank you," she says quietly.

Keanen laughs at Ariana, and then makes another adjustment of a few dials. He nods when Antaeus speaks, "There's no fun in slow, buddy," he teases as the glider begins gently moving once more, slowly. "I'll see what I can do."

Viannea peers, leaning against the window again. "Oh… oh. damn. Lord Antaeus? Did you see that?" An armored fingertip clinks against the glass as she points out the pod just as he makes it known he's seen it by making his request. "Day late, dollar short, Vi," she grumbles.

Having gotten in this close already, it won't be difficult for Keanen to make further adjustments to the ship's position, and a slower survey of the crash zone will simply paint the same picture in more detail: a pod that split on initial impact and tumbled, in part, down the mountain to land a bit further down. Clearly most of the hardware is wrecked beyond use, and while the pod's broken shell looks devoid of occupants, there are no heat signatures on Ariana's equipment to suggest anything alive in the immediate vicinity of the crash site.

"If you /really/ do need something to keep your nerves calm, do let me know." Ariana murmurs to their far-too-happy-to-be-flying pilot and moves to return to her seat. "Negative, Lord Lieutenant. Or my readings are not picking up any heat signatures down there." Now that she has a better look at the crashed pod, though, she does observe it all the more suspiciously.

Rebecca leans her head back against the wall of the transport and lets her queasiness subside, refocusing herself.

Nodding to his sister, and throwing back a grin at Vi, Antaeus motions to the wreckage. "It seems as if there are no survivors. Lord Keanen, let's do one more pass around this point and then go ahead and proceed to the next point on our survey."

Keanen nods, "Alrighty, Antie. Once more around for the googily eyes…" He presses a few buttons and once again the glider picks up a bit of speed, making the banked transition to return for another fly by. "You need me to come back there and snuggle up some comfort, Red?" he calls back to Rebecca, noticing her uneasiness.

Another pass reveals nothing more than those before it. A little more wreckage, broken metal strewn over the mountainside, but no signs of living hostiles. Presumably the glider is soon en route to it's next point.
The second marked waypoint, site beta, proves more straightforward to survey (but perhaps a little less exciting for the pilot or Rebecca's stomach) than the first: a small flat basin sits relatively guarded by two low mountain peaks, with a number of metal signatures that register quite easily on the scanners. The only problem is that the basin is below the cloudline, submerged in the toxic lower atmosphere.

Rebecca glances over at the pilot. "My husband wouldn't appreciate that," she notes sourly.

Keanen shrugs, and mumbles to himself, "I wasn't worried about your husband…" He turns back to the controls and decides to not get his ass kicked by a woman today, so he just focuses instead on what he's here to do.

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