The jungle crew tries to secure a Raider for Eva and Finn's mad scheme, and Aldrich has an unexpected reunion.
Location: Isabel Island
Related Scenes: None
Plot: Operation: Jungle Fever
Scene Number: 738
It's been a week for crazy rescues, it seems. First the shenanigans at Edson, and now the XO is asking them to do it again. This time, though, the target is a little fishing village near one of the rivers west of Edson (in what was Cylon-controlled territory even before they seized Edson and the surrounding area). "We have reason to believe the Cylons may be holding human prisoners in these buildings here, here and here -" Colonel Ryan is drawing in the dirt with a stick - oh how the mighty Galactica crew has fallen from its VR holo briefings. "And that the Cylons may be doing experiments on them." Ryan's frown is grim when he says that.
"We want to rescue as many as we can, but that's not our top priority. Cherry and Farmboy have a plan to steal a heavy raider and fly it out of here, make contact with friendly forces. We've observed raiders landing here -" Another X is drawn. "On the flats by the river to bring in prisoners. Primary mission is to secure that Raider. Once our pilots are aboard, we'll sweep through the village and rescue as many as we can. We expect there are no more than a half-dozen Cylons in the village, plus a couple more on the Raider. Any sign of Cylon reinforcements and we bug out. Questions?"
Calliope might've engaged in some retreating into the background and having a quiet freak-out after being relieved of her pseudo-command. She just might've. It hasn't been a public freak-out, though, and she's very happy to have people around giving her orders. Even if the XO's stick-map does get a blink of her blue eyes. Still, she's here for the mission. "So we're sweeping in after the pilots make off with the Raider? I think I get it."
Tamlin is down for this mission. Especially if it might potentially involve exploding ordinance. Possibly, in another lifetime, she was actually a marine, because she doesn't even flinch at the plan, "We move in, take out the cylons, protect the two Caps until they can get clear, and then round up any survivors." Which would well include some of them. She looks around, trying to spy the medics in the group.
Aldrich didn't tell anyone that he was volunteering for this mission. He just sort of showed up when it was time to gather and didn't leave. So he's here, listening to the plan and watching the drawings in the dirt with an intent expression. When questions are called for, he glances at the others uncertainly, but then clears his throat. "What's the plan if we get separated?"
Cate is standing near Aldrich, arms crossed as she listens to the XO's briefing. She maybe gave the chaplain a concerned look when he quasi-volunteered, but didn't say anything to try and dissuade him. Her once-khaki fatigues now have entirely too many dark bloodstains on them, and not all from her patients.
Ryan nods to the summary from Tamlin and Calliope then looks to Aldrich. "This will be our primary rendezvous point. If it gets too hot, split up and head back to your camps on your own." There are a couple other questions from some of the NPCs - there are twelve soldiers in all. Although the XO is doing the briefing, Lt Hale will be the one leading the assault. "All right. Set up positions around the flats and be ready for that Raider. You'll need to move fast once it starts unloading the prisoners, to get inside before it takes back off."
"Yes, sir!" All of Calliope's 'Yes, sir's have a renewed enthusiasm, of late. She checks her weapon - she's even starting to look not-hugely-awkward with a gun in her hand - and gets into position. Keeping her head low. She's a tall girl, and it's a thing she's extra-conscious of when crouching in the jungle.
Tamlin gets to her feet, securing such weapons and equipment as she's been given for the mission. She's going to need a buddy. Oh hey! "I'm with you, Bullseye?" She actually makes that a question, though it seems fitting the pair should be in it together again. Wolfpack and all. She moves to join the pilot, not much smaller than she is.
Aldrich listens in silence for the rest of the briefing, and once people start dispersing to their assigned positions, he stops for a moment to check and then double-check his own weapon. Once satisfied that everything is in working condition, he glances aside at Cate and gives a crooked smile. "Here's hoping our luck holds," he comments, softly, and then heads off for whatever assigned position he's been given.
"Here's hoping we get your luck instead of my schizophrenic version, padre," Cate replies with a little smirk back. To Tamlin and Calliope she offers a nod. "Take care." Then she's moving into position with the others.
And then they wait. And wait. Damn Cylons and their unpublished flight schedules. Then just to add insult to injury, it starts raining. One of those brief torrential downpours the island is so fond of. As the rain drives down on their faces, they hear a hum in the distance, getting closer. The raider is coming.
Calliope nods firmly to Tamlin. A little smile tugging at her lips when the deckie buddies up to her. "Wouldn't have it any other way, Dorn." Not that she strays too far from Cate and Aldrich. Or the rest of the team, for that matter. Being surrounded by an organized mission of sorts is heartening. She glances side-long at the chaplain and Marine medic, pursing her lips and inhaling deep as she waits. The rain makes her huddle even moreso, but all she can do is grit her teeth and endure it. There's a lot of rain to endure on Canceron. Finally, through the downpour, that hum reaches her ears. Whispered soft, "I think that's our Raider..."
Tamlin keeps the pace Calliope sets, moving into position, a hand doublechecking the safety on her rifle. Her eyes scan the skies, as well as the jungle. She and the Ensign has way too many close calls with cylons coming out of the woodwork. She lifts a hand in greeting to Aldrich and Cate, before that pair move into their own position. A grunt, as she looks up, just in time to catch the rain in the face, and has to free a hand to wipe her eyes, "This could work to our advantage, sir. Lower visibility."
Aldrich gives Cate a rueful little smile, but agrees with a silent nod. Once he reaches his position, he hunkers down in his spot, and just sits quietly. He doesn't look too bothered by the wait or even the rain. Maybe it's all that meditating. In any case, at the sound of the hum, he sits up a bit, his attention sharpening as he looks in the direction of said hum.
The hum grows louder, the rain still hammering the area. It does cut down visibility some, but they can still see the ship as it comes in for a landing, sending little splashes of water up around it as it touches down. Two Centurions move across a little bridge from the village proper, marching toward the ship. The hatch opens, and a third Cylon is visible half inside the ship. "Now!!" Lt Hale shouts, and the ambush is sprung.
Tamlin only crouches lower, as she hears the approaching raptor, eyes only tracking it's arrival, hands tightening on the rifle. Another final check to see if it's unsafetied, and she settles in, until the marine LT gives the order and she begins to fire, selecting the one closest to her who seems to be aiming at her.
Cate squints up at the rain trying to see the Raider. She grips her rifle, aiming at one of the Centurions and following it as it crosses the bridge. When the lieutenant gives the signal, she opens fire.
Calliope inches herself up when the lieutenant shouts, "Now!" The service pistol she's clung to since fleeing Edson tight in her hands. She's still far from a crack-shot, but her hands don't wobble as she aims and fires.
Aldrich pulls up his rifle to get ready as the Raider lands and then Cylons start moving around down there. He pauses to wipe some rain out of his face, even if it's a pointless gesture, and when the order is given, he takes aim at what seems to be the most likely target and fires.
Oh no, this centurion did not just try to shoot her. Well, okay, it did, but she's just not having it. It's like the invasion of the deck all over again. Tamlin manages to spin around and cover, just after she fires off a shot, just in time to avoid the bullet aimed at her. She comes back around and tries to quick fire once again.
Two of Hale's marines charge toward the ramp, hoping to secure it so the Cylons can't close it. One is struck in the chest. He staggers and falls to his knee for a moment before getting back up and continuing to charge forward.
Calliope actually hits her target. And barely wings it, but it makes her squeak with both surprise and excitement. Like she's a little amazed she's capable of hitting things. Her eyes try to sweep quickly around to Tamlin, and the rest of the team, before she aims and fires again. Just to make sure everyone's still alive.
Aldrich scowls and mutters something under his breath in Gemenese, but remains focused as he lines up another shot and fires.
Cate sees her fellow marine get hit and there's a moment where she jerks forward like she's going to run over and help. But he gets back to his feet so for now she focuses on providing more fire against the Cylons by the ramp.
Why do these things never want to die? That's what Tamlin wants to know. It shoots at her, again, which she manages, somehow to dodge. Must be her relative proximity to that vehicle of god, the Chaplain, and she really opens fire, switching to burst mode. But the thing takes a few hits and still won't go down. Well, she's not giving up. She fires off another round.
Calliope refocuses her fire as the Cylon she was targeting goes down in a hail of Marine bullets. At least she is hitting her targets, and she's not squeaking any longer.
Aldrich gives only the slightest glance aside when Cate moves, then looks back to what he's doing. "Don't go out there," he says, even as he's lining up his next shot. "Wait for us to get these three..." Whoops, "Two." He switches targets and fires another shot.
Cate glances over at Aldrich. "Just one - close enough," she says, and then is dashing out toward the fallen marine. Hale and one of the other soldiers nearby are doing the same, even as the Centurion on board the ship fires back outside.
Thank you! Finally, the centurion that continued trying to take potshots at he goes down. There's a moment ro breathe, before Tamlin moves the focus of her deckie rage, watching for where the other members of the team are firing and aiming carefully, as she can't see more than a whisper of the cylon.
Calliope provides what covering fire she can to Cate and the other Marines running toward their fallen comrade. Much of that fire plinks off the cover around the Cylon, but she keeps shooting.
"Cate! ...Frack." Aldrich is too late to stop Cate from running out, and for a moment, he seems to be thinking about following her... but only a moment. Someone has to stay back and provide cover fire, so he keeps aiming and firing at the remaining centurion.
The combined fire of the colonial attackers finally takes down the last Centurion. "Go!" Hale shouts, urging the other soldiers forward to storm the Raider.
Cate doesn't go for the Raider directly, but instead for one of the marines who fell halfway to it. She falls down on her knees in the grass beside him, rifle still aimed at the hatch while checking for a pulse with one hand.
Tamlin is one of the boys...girls, got it? She could stop to check one one of the marines, but she's not that good of a medic. She could stay and try to shepherd the prisoners, but that;'s not the mission. So instead, she makes a dash for the raider, to do her best to get inside and either eliminate any remaining threats, or ensure that it's secured for the incoming pilots.
Calliope rushes on the Raider with Tamlin, holding her gun tight in her hands as she sweeps it. Too tight, really. A marine would tell her she's choking her trigger. Better than dropping it, though. Her eyes, for a brief moment, flit toward the controls of the beast. But she makes them flit away. That's not her mission today.
Aldrich can follow orders, at least. He rushes the Raider along with the others, expression grim. He glances over toward Cate, checking to make sure she made it to the downed marine safely, then continues his trajectory.
The hatch is just starting to raise when Tamlin and Calliope get there, Aldrich and Hale close on their heels. The inside is not too different from a Raptor, and as soon as they get up on the ramp they can see the pilot-Cylon.
The first downed marine doesn't have a pulse, as evidenced by Cate's grim frown. The second one is gutshot, and Cate pauses just long enough to say, "Hold pressure on that. Hang in there, I'll be back." Then she's trailing after Aldrich toward the ship.
No firing willy-nilly now, as Tamlin gets a view of the cylon within, and she tries to aim as carefully as she can, so as not to do damage to the controls of the ship within. She might know how to make said repairs, probably, but they don't have the luxury of time.
Calliope's breath catches as she enters the Raider. This might be as close to a Cylon as she's ever been. She squeezes her trigger, trying to zero in on the thign with something resembling precision.
Aldrich comes up behind Tamlin and Calliope, just in time to catch them take down the pilot. "Are we clear?" he asks, even as he's sweeping a glance around, searching for any enemies that might need shooting.
The Raider is clear, the pilot slumped forward over the control panel. It does look like they lifted a lot of the design for these things off the Raptor. In the back are a half-down bound human prisoners, cowering in fear. "Everyone off!" Hale barks, ushering both the captives and the soldiers back off so the pilots can come in from their jungle position to do their flying thing. "Across the river, let's sweep the rest of the village."
With the raider clear, Tamlin gets to work clearing the vehicle. She'll manhandle the cylon out of its chair, drag it out of the back. The less the pilots need to worry about the better. Once that trash's been taken out, she goes to help free the prisoners, and hopefully leave the ship mostly in tact for the incoming pilots. And then she's off to make her way across the river. She's low on ammo, but she brings her rifle to bear regardless as she steps out. Might still be a few in the village.
Calliope takes a beat to stare at the dead Cylon. Just to make sure it isn't twitching. She shares a quick, breathless grin with Tamlin. Then asserts a piping, "Clear!" to Aldrich. She'll assist with the getting the prisoners freed and back across the river ASAP.
Cate gawks a bit at the unfamiliar ship, but then she's motioning with her rifle to the prisoners. "Come on, head over to those trees there." She coopts two of them to act as stretcher bearers, cutting their bonds so they can lug the badly injured marine over with them. Hale details one of the marines to stand watch over the prisoners while the others head across the bridge into the village.
The team meets minimal resistance as it heads through the rest of the village, making short work of the couple Cylons they encounter. Most of the buildings are empty, but the living room of the largest house has been turned into some kind of gruesome Dr. Frankenstein laboratory, the grisly results of the Cylons' previous experiments still on display. It's enough to send one of the marines back out onto the porch to lose his lunch.
Beyond the basic 'let's see how the humans work' experiments, some of the lab work seems to have been centered around grafting bits of machinery onto human bodies. Locked inside the back bedroom of that building are some more prisoners.
Tamlin, already in the lead, is probably one of the first people to make it into the village, which, to her mind, is for the good. She's still relatively unscathed, until they get to the laboratory, and she pauses. She just stops, staring. She doesn't even say anything, until she's walked back out. "Chaplain. You're not going to want to go in there. But you'd better go in there." Someone's has to give those poor people last rites.
Calliope stops short, when she hears what Tamlin says to Aldrich. She gives him a long look, and hangs back. She'll support him if need be, but she's not sure she wants to see what's in there.
But there are still people to rescue, and Tamlin can't just stand outside of the house or horrors, so back in she goes, to try to get the last of the people still alive out, with the help of the rest of the rescue team who aren't busy with other responsibilities.
Aldrich is shortly behind Tamlin in arriving to the laboratory. When Tamlin meets him with that statement, he gives a grim little nod, and shifts his grip on his rifle to carry it a bit more conveniently as he steps into the lab. He doesn't follow the example of the vomiting marine when he sees what's inside, but he does pause for a second to compose himself before he starts walking through, making inventory of what exactly needs to be done.
Some of Tamlin's prisoners are locals, and perhaps even more horrifying, there's at least one child among them. One glassy-eyed woman stops when she spots Aldrich, freezes, and then gives a sudden scream. One would be forgiven for assuming it was a scream of fear, but moments later she has fallen upon Aldrich with a tight embrace, babbling out barely-coherent greetings and praises to the god, etc. The Chaplain looks pretty stunned about it.
Cate was coming out of clearing one of the other buildings with another marine when she heard Tamlin's grim report. She could've hung back, maybe there was a moment where she was tempted to, but she steels herself and heads on in with the chaplain. Wide eyes take in the house of horrors, and it's enough to turn even the doctor a little green around the gills. She nearly jumps out of her skin at the scream from the back, rifle snapping up, but then relaxes when it turns out to be a friendly sort of scream. Her mouth quirks up just the tiniest bit to see the happy reunion, but then she's helping to usher the prisoners out. "We should take them out the back," she suggests to Tamlin softly.
Calliope takes a deep breath and edges inside. To assist with the evac of prisoners however she can. She pales at the sight of it. She doesn't throw up, but her eyes do well. Like she might well start crying. "Holy frak..." She nods, a little numbly, to Cate and moves to help with the ushering.
There's a moment when the attack, friendly though it is, takes the deckie by surprise, as she tries to puzzle out the reason. But feeling...oddly like an interloper, she looks Tamlin looks away, as the doctor walks in, her face grim, set in that look that look that those of the group who saw her after the cylon attack on the deck mighr recognize. That look that says, 'If I don't keep my shit in order, I will completely lose it.'. So she doesn't speak, she only nods, as she moves to assist Cate and the team in taking the prisoners out the back. And if there is no back, she'll make one. No one should have to see the remains in that room.
There's certainly nothing interesting about what either Aldrich or the woman have to say. There are others among the prisoners that he knows, but after a very quick update to determine who is alive (not to mention a few tears shed), he encourages them to go with Cate, Tamlin, and the others to safety. He hangs back, to address Tamlin, Calliope, and Cate. "Look out for them. They've been through a lot... It won't take me long to finish up here." And with that short comment, he steels himself and heads back into the horror show.
"We've got them," Cate promises Aldrich. She reaches out to give his shoulder a little pat of moral support as he goes to deal with the less fortunate prisoners, then continues to help get the others out the back.
Calliope offers Aldrich a shaky nod, wiping a hand across her eyes. She will not be sorry to be gone from this place. She'll help see the prisoners out, and to some degree of safety, on that note.
And with the prisoners out, Tamlin will steel herself to walk back in, and she'll stay with the chaplain until his work is done. Nobody should be alone at a time like this. Not even a man of the gods.
Aldrich glances up when Tamlin comes in. He's still a bit wet around the eyes from that reunion. Although he looks as grim as you could expect someone to, under the circumstances, it seems like there's a weight lifted from his shoulders. "This won't take long," he repeats his earlier assurance, and after taking a deep breath, he gets to work. "I don't know if I have enough coins for them all," he comments, as he starts digging in his pockets. "The only reason I have any at all is because I was on my way to perform a ritual when the bombing started."
It won't take long. Maybe, "But you still shouldn't be alone." She watches the man do his work, her mind trying to find avenues she can use to solve a problem, any problem. And for the moment, his problem, "There might be others on the rest of the house, or some f the other houses. They must trade here. How many do you need?"
"Well, one for each person." Aldrich looks around at the mess that has been made of the victims, and then starts attempting to count bodies. Halfway through, he hesitates. "Is this one person, or two?" Judging by his lack of hesitation to look closer for clues, this may not be the first time Aldrich has encountered dismembered bodies.
Tamlin look down at the body(ies) Aldrich is pointing to. "I...had better try to bring double." She turns, but it doesn't take long for her to come back. This was not a subsistence village, and there is money to be found if you know where to look. She brings in a small drawstring bag, "These were all I could find." She offers them to the Chaplain, before she starts to move towards where the grafting of parts was being done.
While Tamlin is gone, Aldrich has been working. Even in that short of a time, he has made pretty significant progress in organizing the bodies, taking them down from wherever they were left by the cylons, and arranging them as respectfully as possible on the floor, in neat rows. Not all of the bodies are complete... but he's doing his best. And getting a bit gory in the process. He glances up from the chore when Tamlin returns, and gives a grateful little smile. "That should be enough. Thank you..." He glances to the grafting corpses, and sighs. "I don't even know what to do with those. It seems wrong to leave them like that."
Tamlin, sad to say, has very nearly seen worse, so she has no qualms about getting down in it and helping Aldrich to do the works he needs. She may be no practitioner, but she knows all of the rituals and the proscribed actions. "We could burn them. A pyre might be a proper sendoff. But we'd have to do that soon. I have no doubt that the cylons will come looking for their compatriots. A pause, "Chaplain, did you see what they were doing with the bodies, trying to graft her parts onto our bodies?"
Aldrich nods a little. "That's the ones I'm concerned about," he comments, looking over them. His concern turns out to stem from a different place. "If it were you, would you want to be disturbed as little as possible, or would you want to be separated from the... ah. Additions? I don't think there's a precedent for this in the ritual..."
Tamlin, to her credit, gives the question its due consideration, "I would want to be whole. As whole as I could be. And let the fire separate me from everything that was not me." It is terrible, but..."It's as if...they're trying to...to become." She's not sure the chaplain will understand, or even that she understands herself. But this isn't just malicious torture, not all of it.
Aldrich shakes his head a little. "Or they've discovered psychological warfare. Or they want to find a way to infiltrate our ranks. Or they think if they can make a hybrid, they can understand us better. We could come up with theories all day. It's best not to think about it too hard, I think..." He takes a deep breath, and steps forward to start pulling one of the grafting victims down to join the others.
Tamlin nods, as the Chaplain lays out other potential theories to explain what's been going on here. But she acquiesces to his words and does not continue to speculate. Instead, she busies herself with helping him to move the bodies, the parts, and to try to put them back together, like the world's most horrifying jigsaw puzzle. "We will have to see if the Colonel will allow us to burn them. If not, we may have to come back, once we've secured our escape."
Aldrich nods a little. "We don't need to ask. We should come back when we're sure the area is secure. It takes a lot of time to burn this many bodies, and it draws a lot of attention. Their spirits will have to be content with a symbolic burning, for now." When the last body is laid out, the Chaplain starts at one end, saying a prayer over each and pressing a coin into their hand. He improvises for those without hands as best he can. When the prayers are finished, he glances to Tamlin. "Do you have a lighter or some matches with you?"
Tamlin is no shrinking violet, and she doesn't shy away from doing the arranging, so that Aldrich can work on preparing them to receive the rights. She doesn't even notice, at least not yet, that they're coated in blood. She wipes her hands as best she can, as she reaches into her toolbelt, pulling out one of those windproof lighters that could possibly double as a small torch. "Just click it on the side there, and it will keep burning until the fuel runs out."
Aldrich nods a little and takes the lighter. "Thanks..." Then he's back to work. He pulls out a ceremonial knife and for each of the dead, he cuts off a piece of hair, or in lieu of that, a piece of clothing. Each bit gets burned with a murmured phrase, adding to the already pretty disgusting array of aromas. Finally, he finishes and hands the lighter back to Tamlin. "That's all we can do for them, for now," he sighs, wearily. "Thank you."
Tamlin remains silent, as Aldrich begins to say his prayers. So many, so many dead, so many prayers, and only one man to do it. "I wish that I could help you, Chaplain." But words without faith are only words. But still, she remains, doing whatever he needs, until finally he's as finished as he’s going to be. "You're welcome." She comes to her feet fully, holding out a hand to support him, "We should make our way back to the group, or the camp, if they have gone on ahead of us."
Aldrich slings the rifle back over his shoulder, and gives a solemn nod. "You helped more than you realize," he comments, quietly. He glances down at himself and the mess he's made of his uniform, and sighs a little. "I hope I have a chance to clean up before... Well, I guess they've seen worse at this point." He smiles humorlessly. "Let's go." And he moves off for the exit, without another glance for the rows of dead.
"It's awful and uncomfortable, I have no doubt, but people should at least see you, Chaplain, if they can't see these unfortunate soul. See what we're fighting against, and price that we're being asked to pay." Tamlin knows all too well how insulated from the way some parts of the colonies still are. "If all else fails, you can have my coveralls." he's only a few inches taller than she is, and they're extra roomy. And then she too departs. But not without looking back, her mechanic's mind, macabre as it is, not able to look away from the work that was done and how the pieces were intended to fit together.