A simple slip proves to be a costly mistake when the marines are on a recon op.
Location: Tauron - Atray Province
Related Scenes: None
Plot: Operation: Bullhorn
Scene Number: 710
The recon squad was dropped off yesterday evening by a routine Raptor patrol on the front. Their hope was that the brief dip in the flight path wouldn't be noticed by the Cylons, and it seems to have worked since no Toasters immediately came to crash their party. The unit, under the command of Sergeant Moreau, then trekked overland to the target site. It was a bitch of a hike through the foothills on a cold, moonless night, but Moreau - a grizzled Leonese veteran - kept everyone together and didn't tolerate grousing.
As the sun begins to rise over the city of Arlask, in Cylon territory, they have taken up a vantage point in the hills overlooking the town. Arlask has seen better days - it's clear that the place had the crap bombed out of it when the Cylons took it. Half the buildings are either rubble or charred beyond recognition. And there's not a human in sight. But there are Cylons - workers and warriors, seemingly clustered around the east side of town where the damage isn't quite as bad.
Harrison is generally too quiet to grouse, but an overnighter recon means no cigs, and no cigs means an unhappy Harrison. It's certainly made him more irritable, but not enough to get into any fights -- or any hot water with their Sergeant. He's started to unload the recon gear mostly in silence, getting everything set into its place to get he best read on the town below.
Working in tandem with the Recon girls and boys are Marines of other stripes -- like PFC Stefan Lulezim, for example, a Fortifications Specialist roped into coming along to try to riddle out what the Cylons are building, where, how, and /why/. Last night when they embarked, his combat blacks looked so new there could've been a price-tag dangling somewhere; at least by today they're looking a little broken-in. Currently, he's handing back a set of binoculars to their owner, his face pulled into a thoughtful frown. "They been killin' everyone here?" he wonders to those nearby. "I heard they was herding civvies into camps."
"Depends on their mood, it seems. Round up a few thousand here, firebomb a few thousand there," the bitterness in Cate's voice can only partly be attributed to being grumpy after an all-nighter hiking through the chilly mountains. She squints a bit to see the city, but without binoculars of her own can't really see too much of use.
Moreau gives an approving nod when Harrison starts to set up the gear, and sends a pair of the other marines out to watch the flanks. The last two lucky devils get some snooze time. Their plan is to observe all day and hike back out under cover of darnkess tonight. Assuming everything goes as planned. Like that ever happens. In the distance, a pair of Cylon fighters can be seen zooming across the city to parts unknown.
"We don't know that," Harrison breaks his habitual silence to say, the words a bit sharp as he glares across at Stefan. There's a distinct bristle to the way he responds to the words, a tension in his shoulder as he tries to return his attention to the setup of his equipment.
Stefan half-turns at the sharpness in Harrison's voice, pale brows lifted in an expression a little too uncertain to be a smirk. "Better'n iffin they're lined up an' shot, yeh?" he 'reasons'. "Ain't make enny sense, ennyhow," he continues, glancing back to Cate. Proper grammar when speaking Standard is apparently Not A Big Deal where he's from. "They want us dead or don't they?"
Cate gives Harrison an odd look. "Don't know what? That they're rounding up some and killing others? Sure we do." She shrugs a bit at Stefan. "Who the hell knows what they want. You find out, you lemme know."
Moreau looks over at the discussion but as long as the gear's getting set up, he doesn't seem to care. Marines will be marines. He busies himself setting up an overhead camouflage net that's designed to disguise their position from the air. "Give me a hand with this, Lulz." Stefan has apparently acquired an unfortunate nickname from the Leonese Sergeant.
"We don't know anything about no camps," is Harrison's low-voiced answer to Cate, his own Tauron accent laying thick over his words. He focuses on the gear instead of getting too caught up in the argument, though, until the cameras and recording devices are getting access to the view below.
Cue a snort from Stefan, though it's more dubious than contemptuous. "Fine, yer right," he mumbles. "Ain't know nothin' fer sure. Just ain't seen anything movin' what wasn't metal down there. Yer rig'll see better 'n I did, tho." A little covetous of the soldiers getting to play with the fancy electronics? Perhaps. After a final glance at the equipment being assembled, he hustles over to the Sarge to help rig the camo netting over every available corner.
"Depends on your definition, I guess," is Cate's off-hand response to Harrison.
The recording devices start doing their business on the target building. Satellite imagery hadn't shown much activity when it was looking, but the sats can't cover 24/7 and the brass was pretty certain that the Cylons had figured out their sat schedules. Seems they were right.
It's a long day, though the fact that it's a boring one is probably a relief to the marines stuck behind Cylon lines. They take turns between flank watch, observation and snoozing, so everyone's at least had a chance to rest by the time nightfall rolls around. Presuming they could get any z's at all under the circumstances. At long last, it's time to pack up the gear and hike on out. They withdraw quietly from their observation post and head away from the city. The weather has taken a colder turn tonight, going from the 'chilly' of yesterday to downright 'cold'. After the hot day under the sun, it's a rude awakening to this region's extremes of temperature.
Harrison actually mutters a low, rough curse in Tauran at one point when the cold weather really starts to sink into his bones. The gear is packed up and secure, at least, and he moves out with the others with a certain grim determination.
There's a bit of a pissing contest that emerges between some of the Marines as the temperature dips, as far as who's endured the coldest weather. Stefan's a part of it, claiming to win the debate because of his time spent working on a Gemenese space station, but is soundly outvoted by someone whose bunkmate is Aquarian who has apparently, literally seen water freeze before it hits the ground. Stefan gives up the debate at that point, and leans into the hike back.
Cate doesn't participate in the arctic pissing contest. She's too busy over here shivering in a jacket that someone deemed adequate without considering there were crew members who weren't particularly used to cold climates. They're passing through a region of the foothills that looks something like this:
Hugging the edges of the rock walls for some modest cover and concealment and occasionally taking more direct cover when a Cylon flight passes overhead. It's been a few uneventful hours of trekking through the darkness when the pointman suddenly comes doubling back to say in a hushed voice to Moreau, "Toaster patrol up ahead. Six of them."
It's pretty dark, but at least tonight the moon is poking through the clouds a bit. Not completely black. They do have night vision goggles, but the way it screws with depth perception makes it a bit problematic on the rocky terrain.
Harrison bites down on his next instinct to curse when he catches those words from the pointman. His jaw clenches and his hands tighten on his rifle as his gaze sweeps down the rest of the squad and then up ahead. He hasn't tried using his goggles yet, considering the terrain.
"Where? How many?" Stefan's a short distance up from where the information's getting related to the Sarge, and has to rely on the time-honoured game of telephone to find out. He stands a little straighter, neck craned as if he can see through the obstacles with that half-inch advantage, and looks more excited than worried.
Moreau curses under his breath in Leonese. "We're too far from our pickup point to risk engaging." He glances back the way they came. "Back that way - up and around that big rock there," he hisses to the rest of the troops. "With any luck they'll pass us by." The marines begin shuffling back, heading on a different track than the one they were on originally. It probably would've worked too, if Private Graves hadn't been a dumbass and lost his footing on the rocky slope in the dark. Slip - thud - bang. That would be the sound of his rifle discharging as he slid down a small embankment. With the threat of cylons looming, Private dumbass had left his safety off. So much for stealth. The look that Moreau levels him could've cut glass. "Into cover," he hisses.
There's that moment where Harrison, probably like many of the others, freezes at the sudden crack of noise. Poor Private dumbass. His own expression is briefly scathing -- he's a Staff Sergeant himself, after all, and has plenty of experience in glares -- but Moreau's in charge today. He doesn't even chance the low cursing as he tries to move swiftly behind one of the rocky outcroppings.
Any native Taurian predators with mating calls remarkably similar to gunfire? None? Dammitall. That's the sound of /being screwed over/, then. Stefan's likewise frozen in place by the gunshot, discreetly patting at himself a couple times in the moments after to make sure he's still intact. Once that's done, he's scrambling up and over the rocks to try to find cover that might also provide a view of the incoming patrol.
Cate jerks when the gunshot goes off, thinking that they're taking fire. Then she realizes where it came from and shoots her own glare at Graves. She scoots into cover behind a rock near Stefan, readying her rifle.
Graves at least has the good graces to look appalled at his own stupidity. He's limping a little due to a sprained ankle from the fall, but scrambles into some cover himself. And sure enough, the gunshot attracted the attention of the patrol. The clanking can be heard even before they come into sight above the line of the ridge.
Harrison does still shoot a look down at Private Graves when he catches the kid limping into cover, but once he sees everybody ready for the attack, he shifts his focus back to the Cylons. His hands move with long-held familiarity on his rifle as he pops around the outcropping he's crouched behind and fires off at one of the Cylons in the first row. The bullet only pings lightly against the Cylon's chest armor, unfortunately.
"Open fire!" Moreau shouts when the Cylons come into view, leading the way with a shot of his own. A clatter of assault rifle fire echoes through the canyon, little sparks dinging off the Cylon armor. The lead Cylon's head sways back and forth, searching for targets, and it lifts its gun-arm to take aim. Two of the more lightly-armored Cylons (5 & 6) seem to be trying to close in to close combat range with Moreau and another marine, one of them armed only with its bare hands.
Is the gleam of metal from one of the Cylons' arms, or one of their toastery domes -- and the front rank, or the next? It's nearly impossible to tell in the limited light. Stefan's single shot caroms uselessly off metal plating, and his eyes narrow in frustration.
Cate lets loose a burst that seems to do a little more than chip the paint, but still doesn't bring down one of the toasters. She shifts her grip on the rifle and tries again.
Two of the Cylons close in on Moreau and another marine, braving the hail of gunfire to try for some close-range melee nastiness. The remaining marines continue peppering the incoming Cylons, fortunately not getting any casualties so far.
Harrison's attention snaps over to Moreau and one of the privates, and there's a moment where he looks about to switch targets, but Stefan is already on it. He looks back and fires off another burst, this time at the Cylon who has looked to put him in its targets.
Stefan's eyes get wider as the Cylons advance unfazed through bullets. "Get 'em down 'fore they're on us!" he shouts through the gunfire, raising up slightly to track one of the closest Cylons. He hesitates for a moment, gauging distance between it and his fellow soldiers, and the wasted time means he risks only a single shot.
"Trying! Frak," Cate mumbles to herself as her shots go wide of the moving Centurion. She glances over to make sure nobody's been hit before shooting again.
"Dogsucking frakkers won't die-!" Stefan doesn't sound panicked, but the shout definitely has the potential of leading to a freak-out. He straightens from his crouch, coming out of cover, to shift target from the Cylons now at melee range with the Sarge to one of the rifle-bearing ones.
"Keep your head on," Harrison yells over to Stefan when he hears that potential in the younger man's voice. His own expression is focused; any hint of potential panic is hidden very safely underneath too many years' experience. Not with this, though.
"Keep pouring the fire on!" Moreau shouts over the din. There's a Cylon in his face now, making it hard to bring the rifle to bear. He tries to use it as a club instead, swinging the butt of it toward the robot. Marine3 is likewise engaged in close combat with a Cylon that has some kind of wicked serrated knife attachment on his hand. The rest continue to fire. Even poor hapless Graves.
Cate glances over at Stefan. "Get back into cover!" she shouts at him, shifting his way a touch but not leaving cover herself.
In the retelling of tonight's events, Stefan will mention the hail of bullets -- HIS bullets -- that finally dropped one of the Centurions to a spasming, sparking heap upon the rocky earth.
That bit where he popped up out of cover to do it? No-o-ot so much.
"Ah, frak-!" comes the yelped cry from Stefan's direction, as the ZWIP of a bullet leaves a stripe of white-hot pain across one leg. Back down behind cover he goes, pressing at the spot less in first aid and more in a, 'how much blood? is it ALL THE BLOOD?' sort of way.
As if to prove her point, a bullet spangs off the rock right next to Cate. She ducks instinctively for a second, but then peppers the Cylon with another burst. That seems to get its attention, and it swings a rifle her way. Seeing Stefan get hit, she scoots his way. "You all right?" she asks, managing by some sheer force of will not to add a told-you-so onto the end of that.
Harrison is actually one of the few in the squad not hit at this point. (Along with stupid Graves.) He glances over at Cate and Stefan, who have both taken hits now, and barks a quick, "You good?" before working out his next target when the Cylon he'd been hitting -- finally goes down.
Cate sucks in a wince as a bullet zings her arm, but a quick glance tells her that it's not too bad. She hears a pained shout from across the way (Marine1) and looks to see him still standing as well. Since nobody's calling for her services, she shifts her fire to another target. "Yeah, fine," she calls back to Harrison.
Blood Report: Some, but not ALL. "Ain't nothin', I'm okay!" calls Stefan -- you know, like every adrenaline-charged wounded soldier since war was invented -- as he tries to line up his next target. "Shit, shit-!" he blurts when Cate's hit, his rifle lowering slightly as he looks her way. When she calls her own all-clear, he focuses back on the fight.
The sergeant is not having a good day, going toe to toe with a killer robot. His day gets even worse when a stray bullet from the trying-to-be-helpful private dumbass nicks him in the arm - right before the Cylon smashes him in the chest. Despite his armored vest, he goes down hard. Not moving. Might not be breathing - it's hard to tell. "Doc!" shouts the marine next to him (Marine3) even as he is himself duking it out with the blade-hand Cylon.
"Frak--" Harrison ducks back out of cover to hussle over to the downed sergeant and the marine now facing two Cylons in close-quarters at once. He lifts his rifle towards the one that just put Moreau on the ground, trying to distract it from the other marine now that he's in closer quarters.
Cate is also moving out of cover, scrambling over toward the downed sergeant and the beleaguered marine in response to the summons for a medic. That doesn't stop her from unloading a burst into the one that got Moreau on the way there.
The Sarge gets his chest pulped by a Cylon, Cate's out of cover and on her way to help -- and Stefan's being an idjit. AGAIN. "Over here, frakkers!" He stands and opens fire on the rifle-wielding Cylon.
Down to his last bullet before he has to spend time reloading: Harrison spends it on the same Cylon as he continues to try and distract it from the other marine -- or just put it down.
For having two Cylons on him, Marine3 seems to be doing a good job holding his own, taking only slight damage. "For frak's sakes, get 'em off me!" he shouts, frantically blocking and trying to get a shot off here and there. The other marines pour on the fire, but it doesn't seem to be as effectual as they might've hoped.
It worked. It actually worked. Wait. SHIT. IT WORKED.
In return for playing Stupidest Rodeo Clown Ever, Stefan staggers back as three bullets hit across his right arm and chest. He doesn't drop, and there's no immediate spray of blood, so he's probably not dead on his feet. Probably.
Cate's rifle clicks empty just as she nears the downed sergeant and the marine fighting next to him. Which is a really shitty moment to run out of ammo, all things considered. She smashes the rifle butt towards the blade-handed robot.
And just as quickly as it started, it ends. Harrison's chamber clicks empty just as the last of the Cylons finally fall, and there's a moment where he just breaths before he's looking to Cate by the sergeant. "How is he?" he asks, striding closer. He takes in the rest of the team with a sweep of his gaze, fixing on the two uninjured left besides himself. "Keep watch until we can get moving," he tells them, presumably under the assumption that he's probably the ranking marine on deck.
Cate smashes her rifle butt onto the back of the Cylon. It's not a particularly forceful hit, all in all, but it seems to be enough on top of the other hits to knock the Cylon down. From there, the other marines make short work of finishing the thing off. As soon as the coast is clear, she's on her knees next to Moreau, dipping her head near his mouth. "Shit. He's not breathing. We need to call the evac Raptor." It wasn't their first choice of exfil's, but it was an option they could call for if they ran into trouble. This probably constitutes 'trouble' enough to break radio silence and call for help.
Stefan limps over closer to where the Sergeant lays, his hand pressed against his opposite arm, looking between her and Harrison with slightly-too-wide eyes. "Frak," he says, repeating it for good measure: "Frak."
Harrison looks down at Cate crouched next to Moreau. He stands there a moment, watching her even after she's spoken, and then he jerks his chin in a sharp nod. He turns away from the rest of the group while he pulls out his comm to try calling for their exfil.
fade out on return to ship