A catastrophic electrical failure sends a Raptor into the lake.
Location: Atray Province
Related Scenes: None
Plot: Operation: Bullhorn
Scene Number: 714
A pair of marine squads was sent on a hunt-and-destroy mission into the mountains a few hours ago. This is the higher-elevation mountains, not too far from where the ski resort is located. They were going after a mobile SAM battery that had been harassing the air wing for a few days. Charlie and Cate's squad hit the flank as a diversion while the other squad went in and destroyed the missile dish. Worked great. Minimal casualties. Now they've withdrawn to a clearing in the forested lowlands, awaiting Raptor pickup.
The beanie that Charlie is wearing against the cold is slipping a bit as they wait, hunkered down by the edge of the clearing. No need to be out wholly in the open... that'd also be problematic for the Raptor. Needs space to land! She lets her rifle slacken on its sling, lifting hands to tug at the hat and adjust it. The radio at her shoulder is checked, as well, to ensure it's on and receiving signal. "You know what those new birds need," she comments to Cate, looking over to her fellow marine. "Hot chocolate stored on board. Hop in, warm up with a nice treat."
There's a bare minimum of radio traffic, almost enough to make the marines detachment feel completely isolated if it weren't for a dull noise somewhere in the bass register that gradually gets louder and louder until somewhere just overhead can be seen the source - a low flying Raptor, all lights dimmed and running as silent as possible to come in for the rendezvous.
Cate pulls one hand up to her mouth to blow on her gloved hand to warm it up. "That is the best idea I've heard in a long time," she agrees, teeth chattering a little. She cranes her neck when she hears the sound of an aircraft approaching. "Here comes our ride."
The squad leader flashes the strobe signal to the Raptor just to confirm the landing location. Not that it wasn't pretty obvious already. "Ridley, Smith, you two are on overwatch while the rest load up." It should be noted that a different Raptor is picking up the second squad from another location not too far away.
"I'm not even asking for whiskey to spike it with. Just some proper hot chocolate on the ride back. We're freezing our toes off while the pilots have climate control." Usual sort of griping from ground pounder to jock. Charlie gets her hat back in place and squints up as the Raptor comes angling in. The rifle is brought up to her shoulder as they prepare to file out to load up.
The pilot brings the Raptor in gently to the clearing, hovering a few feet over the ground before bringing her down to settle, engines still running. The doors hiss and crack open, ready to bring the marines aboard, revealing Rhona in the pilot's seat and Cressida just behind, manning the nerve centre. "Somebody call for a cab?" Rhona calls out of the open door, jerking a thumb towards the space in back.
Cate smirks at Charlie. "Well, I wouldn't complain if they decided to put some whiskey in it. And at least we get to enjoy the climate control on the way back." Breath fogging in the cold mountain air, she slings her rifle and climbs up the wing into the bird. "And here I thought the cabs didn't run in this part of town," she jokes to Rhona as she comes aboard. There's a little flash of surprise on seeing Cressida there, but she gets a polite nod. "Captain." One of the marines has a bandaged arm, but the rest of them seem to be no worse for wear after their little excursion. The sergeant and the overwatch team are the last to file aboard.
The opening of the hatch cuts off a clipped, arid remark to the tune of there being such a thing as too low; but Rhona gets away with it this time because pas devant les marines. Cressida Hart looks up from her displays and glances over her shoulder at the squad filing on board, nodding polite acknowledgment to them en masse and letting her eyes linger briefly upon one of them before amending her first nod with a second, equally reserved and equally professional, directed to Cate in particular. "Corporal," she says quietly, a salutation which would sound distant even if it weren't being filtered through the speakers built into her flight suit's helmet. "Good hunting today, I understand."
The bandaged marine is helped aboard with a hand beneath their armpit. That way they're less likely to put too much weight on the injured limb. Charlie just flashes a grin in Cate's direction as they do clamber aboard their ride home. "I'll just have to raid the mess when we get back. So much effort. Maybe I'll put something in the suggestion box." That doesn't exist. Yet. The sniper is settling in and checking that her weapon is secure -- safety on -- as the overwatch climbs aboard. There is a quick nod for Cressida, but the young Piconese woman is more focused on warming up once on the Raptor.
Rhona shoots Cressida a Look, before returning her attention to flicking switches and checking dials in the cockpit, ready to take off again as soon as the door closes. "All aboard who's coming aboard?" she calls back, fingers hovering over the thrust controls. "Much as I love the idea of a nice skiing holiday, I'd be quite pleased to have it another time and just get back on board now, if that's okay with you guys?"
Cate ends up sitting near the front of the bench, since she was one of the first one on board. There's a nod to Cressida's remark. "Yeah, the other team -" which is being picked up by another Raptor somewhere not too far away. "- got the missile battery. We took down a few Toasters." There's some blood smeared on the front of the medic's white camo, but it doesn't appear to be hers. She slips her medic pack off her back and tucks it behind her legs, her rifle resting by her knee with one hand still on it. "I'll take my holidays without snow, thanks very much. We -" A glance to Charlie, "Were just discussing a hot chocolate raid."
"All in," the squad leader reports when the last marine is sitting. He checks on how the injured one (Renard) is doing with a quiet exchange.
"Good," says the ECO mildly, because the only good Toaster is indeed a frakked Toaster. She almost smiles -- really, she almost exhibits a genuine facial expression -- before turning back to the console that was never quite out of her line of sight, and re-checking readings of even the most routine variety.
No blood on Charlie. Her white-cammies survive to see another day! She might be disappointed about that later. No way to try to weasel out of a mission with 'Sorry, sir, the red on my uniform would give away my position.' Alas and alack. The woman pulls off her gloves and beanie once the door is closed, pushing fingers through thick hair to draw it away from her face a bit. She does glance to Cate, lifting a hand to wiggle fingers. "I hate how it hurts as they warm up."
Another couple of flicks of switches, then the hum of the engines increases in volume and pitch, the doors hiss closed, and the Raptor begins to take off, slowly turning to head away from the landing area. "Wasp, give me a vector?" Rhona demands, perhaps a little more touchy than strictly necessary. One might assume that this has not been the friendliest flight out.
The trajectory away from the front lines takes them out over the lake. As the ECO figures out the best vector to get them back to where Galactica is orbiting, the computer screens suddenly go dark. All of them. All at once. And the comforting hum of the engines suddenly is just not there. Total power failure.
Cate nods to Charlie. "Yeah, I still can't feel my toes," she complains, taking off her gloves as well to stick the bare hands into her coat. Then the lights and engines go off and she looks around, bewildered. Shit, that can't be good.
In fact Cressida was quite prepared to provide her pilot with another irritation in the form of a vector worked out in advance, being only the reverse of the one which brought them here; but as she is reading speed and direction from her display, enunciating each number with crystalline precision, the screen in front of her goes blank. On the next word her voice falters from sheer surprise; she strengthens it again, by deliberate force of will, in reciting the last of the string of numbers she can see now in her mind's eye alone. Her gloved hands are already moving across the keys, seeking some, any sign of life. But the cold and silent Raptor makes no reply.
Everything goes dark and Charlie freezes. The woman is already blindly tugging her gloves back on as Cressida names the final parts of the return coordinates. "Frak, uh, that's not good." Likely voicing what everyone is thinking. She does lean, trying to get a look outside one of the cabin viewports. "I really don't like this." A marine, caught in a bad spot, and unable to use their weapon. Not a fun place to be.
The cockpit rapidly becomes a blue mess of obscene language, button pushing, lever pulling, and console thumping, this being Rhona's eutomatic response to the failure. One thump brings about a hopeful whirr, but it's shortlived, and the whole Raptor is soon jerking and bumping as the undercarriage brushes the trees Cressida was so keen to get above on the way out here.
The cursing in the front is met with a chorus of equally-alarmed curses from the back as the marines, like Charlie, realize just how 'not good' this is. They grab onto things as the Raptor begins to shudder from brushing the tops of trees. Then the shuddering stops. Which might seem like a good thing to those in the back. But Rhona, up front, can see that they've now cleared the treeline and their dead-stick flight path is now going to drop them straight into the lake in just a few seconds.
Cate, sitting near the front, can see it too. The clear blue expanse of water now filling the viewport. "Oh shit," she breathes, grabbing hold of a handle, her eyes widening.
Too low. Just what Cressida was saying.
She forbears heroically to point it out again -- because from the moment she glances forward and sees Rhona silhouetted against the blue, 'too wet' is the prospect occupying a deal of her attention as she strives to coax some sort of response from the Raptor's backup systems. She doesn't utter a sound.
Lake? Nope, nope. Bad landing spot. Charlie isn't even air wing and knows that much. The woman swears under her breath and grabs a strap overhead as she starts digging through what the Raptor does have. Like flotation devices or something to help if (and at this point... when) they hit the water. She does point to the man with the bandaged arm. "You, strap in for now." No need to make that wound worse, right?
Rhona thumps automatically on the emergency alarm, neglecting to remember in the heat of the moment that yes, that too requires power. Another thump, another long string of inventive invective, then she's struggling with the joystick and rudder pedals to try to keep them at least mostly level so when (there's no if any more) they do hit the water, the aircraft is less likely to break apart. "Hold on," she calls back. Unnecessarily, some might say.
"Wagner, sit --" Cate's alarmed call to urge Charlie to get back in her chair is cut off when the Raptor impacts the water. On the up side, their low altitude meant that they weren't going as fast as they could've been if they had dropped like a rock from thousands of feet up. On the down side, they were still going pretty fast. It's a hard landing, cracking the front viewport and doing all sorts of damage to the outside of the bird. Inside, the passengers are whipped around like crash test dummies. Those fortunate to have their straps fastened mostly get away with some bruises and whiplash. Those not... ouch.
The squad sergeant, ironically, was one of those not strapped in. Poor example, man! He bounces up, hits the 'ceiling' of the bird, and then crashes down again, unmoving.
It may not have been the smartest idea, but Charlie's survival training doesn't extend to 'Raptor interior.' When she's on the bus, she expects the bus driver to handle things. The woman was more focused on post-Raptor water-survival. Thankfully, she had a good hold on that strap. It's probably all that kept her from a broken arm -- or worse -- of her own. Still, the Corporal gets thrown around enough that she's gonna have bruises for days. There's a cut on her cheek that won't need stitches, but it'll smart. And she is, once things start to settle, a bit dazed for a moment. Not too much, for there is a muttered "Frak" from the marine.
Cressida is strapped in impeccably, though she spares a hand to check buckles here and there about herself in between swift, efficient attempts to get something working. At the last moment she gives up and just braces herself. The crash hurts, but it does her no real harm. And when she's finished bouncing about in her seat her eyebrows continue moving, all the way up in response to the squad sergeant's adventures with gravity. She swivels, counts the number of marines who didn't bother with even the most rudimentary safety precautions, and is duly astonished for a nanosecond or so before moving on. She unfastens her own straps and gets up, making for a panel behind which she hopes to find answers. "Electromagnetic pulse weapon?" she suggests to Rhona via a private channel pilot and co-pilot don't share with their cargo of marines. "If this was deliberate rather than chance, we're sitting ducks." Duck-hunting out on the water. A Virgon aristocrat would know all about that, wouldn't she.
"Grab a lifejacket," Rhona suggests, checking herself over once they're 'landed', and reaching back to claim the pilot's one. "If anything starts shooting, we go swimming. Until then, we stay with her and maybe she'll come online again for us. Or at least we're a bigger target for the rest of the wing to find."
Cate's head smacks against the wall when it jerks forward, but she still had her combat helmet on and it absorbs the impact some. She blinks a few times, trying to clear her head. As the fog lifts, she looks up and down the Raptor for signs of wounded. "Wagner, you okay?" she asks, dazedly. Her hands unbuckle her straps, and she reaches down for her medpack.
Rhona's idea of staying with the ship would've been a fine plan, all things being equal. What she didn't realize, though, was that the crash into the lake had damaged the hull, and the bird - not really meant to be 'seaworthy' in the first place - is now taking on water. It fills the undercarriage area first, but soon the Raptor starts to list forward toward the nose, and water begins seeping into the cockpit.
"I want that whiskey now," Charlie grumbles as she straightens up. The woman does extend both arms a few times, testing what they can do. There is a bit of a wince, but she gives a nod towards Cate. "I'm good. We gotta-" she grabs hold again as the Raptor lilts. A glance towards the cockpit and she cringes. "We gotta get out of here." Whatever gear she had on board is grabbed and there's a look to Cressida. A sort of 'please can we get the frak out before we drown?' look.
Main systems, down. Backups, down. Whatever's behind that panel, wholly unhelpful. Cressida fits the panel back in place, because she's meticulous that way; she catches that look from Charlie, but she's already stepping back across the narrow cabin to her seat and pulling the tabs on her flight suit which activate its potential as a flotation device. She's the sort of person who reads instruction manuals -- and even remembers what's in them...
"Nobody's going to drown," she informs the marines calmly, as she straightens after claiming the co-pilot's life jacket from beneath her seat. She says nothing of who might or might not be shot dead in the water by hunters on high. "Who here can't swim?" she inquires with a flourish of the jacket. "Step forward, please. Ensign McRae, your jacket," because she also has the benefit of a flight suit. "Private, if you would be so good as to open the hatch," since he's leaning against it right now for support. "Corporal Rhodes, in the cupboard below and to your left you'll find our emergency kit."
"You and me both," Cate agrees with Charlie breathlessly. She hurriedly strips off her flak vest and coat and helmet. Better to be cold and bulletridden than sink like a rock, she figures. "I should probably have one," she tells Cressida when the officer starts handing out life jackets. She's has a couple lessons, but the idea of swimming fully clothed in a lake is a bit much for her confidence. "Ridley, get the emergency kit - I need to check on the sergeant." She's moving to the back then, bending down to check on the unconscious squad leader. "We'll need one for him." Obviously.
"I can't swim one-handed," protests Renard, the one with the bad arm.
"I've got you," Charlie offers to Reward. "I can swim and aid one other." Though there's a look to Cate and the unconscious Sergeant. The Piconese woman takes a slow breath. "Or... frak." She gestures Cressida towards Renard. "Get the lifejacket to him. It should help." She's leaving the other marines to get the hatch open, joining Cate with the sergeant. "How is he? I should be able to get him to shore." There's a tinge of uncertainty, but she's clearly intent on doing her best to get everyone out.
Whilst the overcrowded Raptor's marine occupants shuffle about attempting to divest themselves of the heavier bits of their kit without smacking the said kit into anybody else's face, Cressida issues one life jacket to the sergeant by the simple expedient of placing it upon his supine figure, and assists the walking wounded in donning the other one. That isn't a one-armed job either. She has one eye on the hatch as it's pushed open and up, a task to which Ridley and Smith are admirably suited by youth and burliness; she sees water lapping its way up over the wing, and with the jacket fastened about Renard and his sling re-tied atop it she steps across to Cate next, picking her way carefully upon the tilted deck. "You'll be all right without a jacket," she murmurs to the medic; "and the water can't be any colder than you've been practicing in, can it?" She nods to the sergeant. "In another minute or so the real flooding starts," she adds. "How is he? Carry him out or float him out?"
Cate gulps, looking to Cressida with a barely-concealed anxiety when the Captain says she'll be fine without one. "If you say so." Then she answers the question about the Sarge. "I'm worried he might have a neck injury." When in doubt, focus on keeping busy to keep the fear at bay. That water looks awfully deep. She's slipping an immobilization neck collar on him from her medic pack. "Floating him out might be gentler on him. Can you manage that?" she asks Charlie.
The cockpit is rapidly filling with water, the Raptor's deck tilting more. Rhona has gone out onto the wing to help with the evacuation. Smith is already out treading water, and Ridley is standing ready to assist as needed.
"Part of surfing was managing getting yourself to shore if something went wrong." There's a glance down to the Sergeant and Charlie is already slinging her rifle around to her back, after being rid of whatever extraneous attire she had. She'll be damn cold, but she won't be too weighed down. "And SERE involved getting injured squad mates out." THere's a look to the hatch, then back. "I'll figure it out." And she's already getting her hands under the man's arms to start hauling him towards the wing so they can all get the hell outta dodge.
"I do say so," Cressida informs Cate with the same firm assurance, from where she is checking that Ridley has worked out what to do with the straps which will attach the Raptor's emergency kit to his back. Better his than hers; he's half her age and twice her size... She pats the kit in silent assurance to him that he's good to go, and sends him forth over the wing to join Smith and the wounded Renard, whom Rhona is even now helping down into the water.
She turns back to Cate and Charlie and takes a sloshing step out of the way of the sergeant disembarking under their power rather than his own. Her unspoken intention as the senior officer present is of course to see everyone else out of the sinking Raptor before quitting it herself. "Do you need another pair of hands?" she asks Cate briskly, but keeps the hands in question to herself unless and until the medic requests her assistance.
Cate nods to Charlie. "Great. He's all yours then. I'll just stabilize his head till he gets out." Which entails climbing out onto the wing and then keeping his upper half as steady as possible. "Think we're good," she tells Cressida. "Wagner, is your radio working?" she wonders aloud while they're in the process of extricating the unconscious sergeant. She's gonna stay on that wing until the last possible moment, glancing anxiously at the water.
"I think so," Charlie says of her radio, though her hands are too occupied to do a full check. It's at least on and receiving. The woman looks to the water, backing up toward it slowly so that Cate can help keep the sergeant's head steady. She moves to her knees first, then sort of slides into it... with a small, gasped yelp. "Frak that's cold," she hisses, before giving a few kicks beneath the surface to carefully pull the lifejacket-wearing Sergeant in after. The flotation device will definitely help.
Cressida takes Cate's word that she isn't needed and turns away to her final chore, which some might consider overkill in neutral territory and with the waters kindly opening to subsume and conceal a Raptor which surely isn't producing any telltale readings. She opens another panel, high enough above the water that she wasn't in too great a rush to get to it, and places a small, shaped explosive charge upon the Raptor's master hard drive, just where it ought to be in order to scuttle the entire computer system in one go. She glances out through the hatch and sees the sergeant afloat in Charlie's care, Rhona disembarking after him, and only Cate Rhodes hesitating to plunge in; she adds the detonator, and arms it.
The explosion is a tiny one, all things considered, but enough perhaps to get the corporal's attention as Cressida comes swiftly sloshing out onto the wing after her. "In you go," she orders her swimming pupil, in a tone of bracing encouragement; "I'm right behind you."
"Think you can raise any friendlies on it?" Cate asks, regarding Charlie's radio. It's not the long-range backpack version designed to reach Galactica, but there might be friendly air wing forces still in the area. Including the bird that picked up the second squad.
The thump of the explosion does indeed cause Cate to drag her eyes off the injured man and the water back to the Raptor. Just in time to see Cressida coming out. She swallows hard, then nods. Surely the captain isn't going to let her drown if she gets into trouble, right? Tentatively, she slides off the wing and into the water, echoing Charlie's sentiment. "Frakking hell." She starts trying to tread water, but between her boots and clothes, she's struggling. Still, her head's above water - that's a start.
The Sarge continues to float silently with Charlie, still unconscious. The other marines are doing all right. Rhona suggests moving away from the sinking Raptor, lest it pull them under.
"I'll try," Charlie assures Cate, just as she looks sharply to the Raptor at the sound of the explosion. Small as it is, it's still briefly concerning. But Cressida appears, seemingly unharmed, and the Corporal goes back to her task... of treading water steadily as she guides the unconscious Sergeant away from the sinking bird. Now that he's in the water, she keeps one arm looped under his to pull him along, using the other to help move away towards shore. It's once she feels she's comfortably far enough that she lifts a hand to the radio still clipped to her shoulder. Or re-clipped, since she moved it with coat-removal earlier. Gotta hang onto gear that might be useful, right? Such as her rifle. Water-logged as it may be at the moment. "Any friendly forces in the area of..." there's a glance up, around, and she gives at least... vague coordinates, based on where they were. Likely something along the lines of 'the lake near...' said coordinates.
Being a woman of few words Cressida can afford to mean all of hers. She enters the water a moment after Cate, gritting her teeth for an instant but uttering no complaint -- the flight suit blunts the worst of it, and it would be not just fruitless but discourteous to comment in front of others who've got it worse -- and, as she anchors one side of their little group centered round the unconscious sergeant, she keeps close to Cate and one eye upon her. She opts for backstroke, the better to watch the skies above as well as their late Raptor completing its final miserable slump beneath the surface of the lake. Her flight suit is proving nicely buoyant. That's something. And, having calculated the flight's incoming and outgoing vectors, she's in the happy position of being able to call out to Charlie a more precise set of co-ordinates.
The Raptor goes under with a whush, and then the lake is still once more save for the marines and flight crew. Charlie's radio calls are answered by a Viper flight, far enough away that the signal is a bit crackly but near enough to still communicate. With Cressida's help, she is able to relay their position. "Hang in there, Two-Zero," the Viper pilot tells them. "We've got a SAR Raptor heading your way. We're heading in to circle your position and provide overwatch."Then there's nothing to do but wait and hope that the Vipers can fend off any Cylons who decide to come and strafe them.
It doesn't take long, though, before Cate begins to have trouble staying afloat. "Captain..." she calls, out of breath and sounding alarmed.
There's a grateful look to Cressida for the proper coordinates and Charlie calls those into the radio. There's beat and the SOS is repeated again. Along with note of injured. The Corporal is relieved as the Viper pilot calls in with an update. "Aid is on its way. Vipers providing overwatch." Because shooting from the water? Not happening. The woman already looks tired, herself, but she's going to keep going. There is, however, a look towards Cate in alarm. "Frak- Captain?" Following the other marine's call. Wagner can't assist; she's got the Sergeant. Even if her kicking does increase to try to get the unconscious man to shore. It'd be too far to get him there and return to assist, but she's damn well trying... even if she's flagging, as well. Freezing water and all.
They're only halfway to the shore -- but it's farther than Cressida, in her heart of hearts, really expected Cate to get. A freezing lake is a far cry from the controlled confines of Galactica's swimming pool, and that's without even taking into account the drag provided by standard-issue marine corps boots...
And that's why she's only an arm's length from Cate, pacing her; and why when the corporal's breath quickens and that note of worry enters her voice, she's quick to close the distance between them. The flight suit is ungainly but it has its virtues: as soon as she's not lying on her back she seems to bob up above the lake's surface, a good third of her body lifted out of the water, and slipping her arm around Cate she's as good as a life-preserver. She dips down under the extra weight, but Cate is held up. "Don't struggle," she advises the corporal, distilling into her voice a hundred generations of aristocratic aplomb; "just float. I won't let your head go under." And the last time she said that, she was as good as her word.
Cate has had a cool head in combat, but panic was beginning to set in when her cold, tired limbs were no longer keeping her afloat. One some instinctual level it pains her to have to be rescued by a Virgon aristocrat, but damn if she's going to complain about that now. Gulping down air, she nods and leans back, letting Cressida buoy her up out of the water. Just floating, not entirely unlike the Sergeant who's safe in Charlie's care.
Even the seasoned surfer is flagging by the time they reach the shore. Charlie's been slowing at times to check in on the radio, but the Vipers are surely overhead by now. Able to guide in the SAR Raptor more clearly. When shore is reached, the sniper drags the Sergeant far enough that he's out of the water, makes sure he's still breathing and in the recovery position... before she just sort of flops out, herself, sprawled on her back as she draws in deep breaths. "Whiskey," she manages, "so much whiskey."
"Deep breaths," says Cressida, who has been giving orders all these years she was out of uniform, too, and who sounds like it; "in, and out. Like that. I often go swimming in our lake at home, corporal, albeit without quite so many accoutrements, and I haven't drowned anyone there either," she explains conversationally. "When you're ready you'll turn onto your back and I'll tow you along with me. All you have to do is kick a little if the spirit moves you, and keep breathing. We'll be slower than the others, I think," she speculates drily, "but we'll get there..." And, because she is apt to define 'when you're ready' as 'when I decide you're ready', they are shortly on their way again, Cressida with one arm hooked round the medic as though she has just caught an unusually large and prize-winning fish, and the other arm doing what it can to augment the propulsion provided by four booted feet. They're late to the beach, yes, but what a sterling example of co-operation they present.
Cate is only a small help in getting them back to shore, Cressida doing the lion's share of the work. But she at least succeeds in following directions and not taking Cressida down with her. When they finally reach shore, Cate crawls up, huddled and shivering. "I'll take the hot chocolate instead," she says in response to Charlie's remark, teeth chattering.
Fortunately they're not waiting too too long before a fresh Raptor makes its way to their position. Long enough for a mild case of hypothermia for the exposed Marines, but not long enough for any real damage. And so on this Raptor - which manages to not suffer a catastrophic failure on the way - carries them safely back to Galactica.