Cate learns the ultimate fate of the prisoners in Picon's Big Blue Pyramid Stadium.
Location: PNAB: Triton, Hyperion, Picon
Related Scenes: None
Scene Number: 591
It had been almost three months. Three months of air raids. Three months of playing soldier, going out with the marines and patching up bullet holes, then coming back to patch up more holes in the clinic. Three months of sleeping on a hard floor - that is, when she could sleep at all. But worst of all - three months of knowing that she’d left her best friend behind.
Sometimes Cate could forget for a little while. Distract herself with work, with her new-found friends, or with moonshine. Other times the guilt hit her like a two-by-four. Today was one of those days, and it drove her to Major Lewis’ office. He looked up when she knocked. His eyes sported the same tired circles most of them did these days, and he’d allowed his scruff to flourish into a full beard.
“Doc,” he greeted, weary but warm. “You look like shit. You slept any since the mission last night?” He motioned to a chair in silent invitation.
“Not really,” Cate admitted. She plopped into the chair. “You saw the report?”
Lewis nodded grimly. “I did. Tech guys are going over that… cybernetic shit you guys brought back. Frakking horrifying.”
Cate’s lips drew together in a thin line. Frakking horrifying didn’t even come close to describing what they’d witnessed. She felt queasy thinking about it, but she wasn’t here to talk about that - not directly, anyway. “Major, we need to get those people out of that stadium.”
Lewis sighed - leaning back in his chair with a here we go again look on his face. “Doc, we’ve been over this. You’ve seen it yourself - that place is crawling with Cylons.”
“But we have to do something!” Cate rose abruptly from her chair and started pacing in front of the desk. “You read the report, but you didn’t see what those bastards were doing to people. They could be doing the same thing in the stadium for all we know.”
Lewis leveled a patient stare at her. “They might be.” Cate drew back at his honesty. “That doesn’t change the fact that there’s not a godsdamn thing we can do about it. We’re spread so frakking thin here I’ve got a civilian doctor pulling combat medic duty.” He waved a hand at her. “And even if we could get them out, what the hell are we going to do with thousands more refugees? How are we going to get them back across the bay? How are we going to feed them?”
Cate frowned at his logic, continuing to pace off nervous energy. “What if we just did a hit and run attack on the main gate? At least some of them could make a run for it.”
“Run where? The Cylons control that whole area. How far do you think they’d get?”
“What if we went in the sewers - same way we got the president out?”
Lewis sighed. “Cate, I know you want to help your friend, but believe me - we’ve examined the situation from a dozen different angles. There’s no plan that has an acceptable chance of success given the risk. I’m sorry.”
Cate flopped back down on the chair, deflated. “So what, we just give up? Do nothing?” Lewis said nothing, but his silence was affirmation enough. Cate said in a plaintive voice, “She’s got a husband. A little boy. What the hell am I supposed to tell them?” Of course, the likelihood of her living long enough to do so was looking less and less likely by the day.
Lewis leaned forward, resting his elbows on the desk. His gaze was intent. “You tell them you tried, but there wasn’t anything you could do. You’re a doctor, Cate. You know how it goes. You save the ones you can and leave the rest to the Gods. Who knows - maybe we’ll get relief soon and turn the tables on those bastards. Don’t give up hope.”
It might have brought more comfort if Cate wasn’t already half-convinced that the gods had forsaken Hyperion.
Two more months came and went, with no sign of Lewis’ hoped-for relief. With supplies and food running low, everyone wondered how much longer they’d be able to hold out. But in the mean time, all they could do was fight on.
Cate had closed her eyes for just a second, weary to her bones, when the Raptor lurched suddenly beneath her. She grabbed instinctively for the stabilizer bar with her free hand, the other clutching her rifle. There was a gasp from one of the marines closer to the front. “What the frak is that?”
Cate craned her neck to see out the windshield. Off their port side, just barely visible at the corner of the pilot’s windshield, she could see orange flames shooting up into the evening sky.
The sergeant called up to the pilot, “They want us to go check it out?” The pilot said no - their orders were to return to base. The marines speculated that the Toasters might have hit an old fuel dump at Amphitrite, the mostly-demolished Naval base opposite the bay from Triton, but nobody knew for sure.
A few minutes later, they were landing at Triton. The fire was visible across the bay, smoke billowing up from the horizon. Cate strode across the tarmac, towards a gaggle of pilots trying to find out if their forthcoming CAP was launching.
"Looks like Amphitrite," said one, his mouth set in a straight and unhappy line.
"No way. Looks further away than that."
"Maybe one of the tinheads tried to figure out a toaster,” Another opined, to a chorus of nervous laughter.
After a brief conversation with the pilots, Cate wandered off. The smoke on the horizon unsettled her as she made her way across the base to get cleaned up, and then over to a forgotten corner of an old admin building, where two of her pilot buddies had set up a little hideout. With Evan on CAP, his dog probably needed a walk and that was always good for calming her nerves.
Evander found her at the hidey-hole a few hours later. The dog - walked, fed, watered and played with - had camped out on the couch next to the tired doctor, enjoying having his head scratched. Cate sat up when the door opened, a pensive look creeping across her face. Things had been awkward as hell between them for the past few days - and every conversation felt like navigating a minefield.
After an strained exchange of pleasantries, she began to realize that something else was wrong. When she prompted him about it, Evander confirmed her suspicions. "How do you like your bad news?" he asked, with a compassionate crinkling of his brows.
Having delivered enough bad news in her career, Cate immediately recognized the look on his face. Her throat bobbed in the obvious - if incorrect - assumption that something had happened to one of her Triton friends on the patrol. “Just say it,” she answered softly, bracing herself. “Who?”
A pang of guilt surfaced on Evander’s face. "I don't know her name. Your friend. The one you came to Hyperion with. What-" Evander drew a soft breath. "What was it?" As if he should know, if only as a matter of courtesy and respect.
His response caught Cate off guard, and she blinked in confusion. "Deb? But… how…" How could he know something had happened to her without knowing her name, or even what she looked like? Then the pieces crystalized in a flash of shocked realization, putting together the news with the explosion earlier and the Hyperion maps she'd seen. It wasn't Amphitrite, as the pilots had suspected, but further past there. "The arena," she whispered. "The fire. My Gods, all those people…" Cate looked suddenly pale, sickened, and sank down heavily on the couch.
Evander was on the couch in short order, arms encircling the distraught doctor. He said nothing, because, really, what can he say? Other than, perhaps, “I’m so sorry, Cate. I’m so, so sorry.”
Cate’s face crumpled, the numb horror at such a mass extermination giving way to the wrenching pain of knowing her best friend was gone. She buried her head against Evander’s shoulder, tears wetting his shirt. “I shouldn’t have left her there. I should’ve…” The words gave way to unintelligible sobs, while Evander stroked her hair and his dog tried to put his head into her lap, tag-teaming in the consolation.
Eventually the tears slowed and then stopped, although Cate still didn’t pull back from the ECO’s comforting embrace. “Deb Brody,” she murmured. “She was a nurse. My best friend.”
One of Evander’s left Cate’s back to undo the velcro of a cargo pant pocket, from which he withdrew a small gold coin. Pensively, he rubbed it with his thumb and said softly, “"I don't know if you're a woman of faith, or if Deb was, but…" He held it out, respectfully. Cate had heard of the tradition even though it wasn’t common in her faith. When a coin couldn’t be left with the body of the lost, someone close to the deceased would carry the coin for them until it was their turn to meet the ferryman.
Cate sniffled once, and took the coin. “Thanks,” she mumbled, her throat tight. Her finger traced along the edge of the coin, and she gave her own litany, in Celtan. When it was finished, she repeated it in Standard for Evander’s benefit.
"Death is nothing at all. It does not count. I have only slipped away into the next room. I am but waiting for you for an interval, somewhere very near, just around the corner. All is well. Nothing is hurt, nothing is lost. One brief moment and all will be as it was before. How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting, when we meet again."
Evander remained silent throughout, head bowed, eyes closed, before finally offering a soft, "So say we all."
A week later, Triton fell.
Back in the crew berthings, Cate continued to study the coin. It had a few dings and scratches in it now - scars to match her own - but she always kept it close at hand. She carried it for both of them now. For Evander, whom she knew in her heart was gone even if the Picon Navy still called him ‘missing’ - and for Deb, lost to the firestorm at Big Blue Stadium.