Cate's escape from the Cylon captors didn't go as well as she might have hoped.
Plot: Operation: Watchtower
Scene Number: 1444
(GM by Aldrich)
At some point in the night, a Cylon came to fetch muttering guy, and he hasn't been seen or heard from since. The next day, Cate was the first chosen from the CF crew. Either because she rushed them, because she volunteered, or because she was closest to the door. Dealer's choice. In any case, whether she comes quietly or fighting, the Cylon takes her away from the cage and deeper into the cave system. There's a glow somewhere ahead, suggesting they've built /something/ in these caves. What it might be is unclear, at the moment.
After several futile attempts to get the cage open, Cate had settled into a defeated exhaustion, slumped against the door of the cage. She didn't sleep, despite her aching head and hand begging her to rest. She just sat there, alone with an imagination running wild. She had resolved to try to rush past the Cylon if it took one of the others. Instead, the metal hand clamped onto her arm and nixed that idea. In a way, she was relieved. Better to get it over with. She went quietly, looking for an opening, looking for some sign of a way out. As they near the glow, and presumably more Cylons and a fate worse than death, Cate fakes tripping over something and tries to fall. Should she reach the ground, her hand quickly searches for a loose rock she might use as a weapon.
Did the Cylon expect her to stay docile? Is it malfunctioning? Who knows! But it loses a grip on Cate's arm when she goes down, and its first action isn't to retaliate or even try to knock her out again. Surely that would be easier. It could even shoot her in the leg, if the goal was to stop her escaping. But it doesn't do any of those things. It just tries to grab for her arm again to drag her back to her feet.
And it /is/ a cave, so there are plenty of rocks around of varying sizes.
Cate's hand clamps around a rock just bigger than her fist. It's not much, but, well, desperate times and all that. As the Cylon bends down to grab her arm, Cate springs up and slams the rock into its metal face with all her might. If she's lucky she might damage its optical sensors and disorient it.
The Cylon stumbles back when Cate smashes its face. Luck seems to be on her side in this, but it won't be for long if she doesn't hurry. It makes a loud noise that is certain to alert the others, and sure enough, the clank of robot feet can be heard echoing from somewhere ahead.
Cate doesn't wait for the Cylon to recover. Still clutching the rock, she bolts for one of the side tunnels between here and the vague glow up ahead. There are several, and she picks one at random after a silent prayer that it doesn't turn out to be a dead end.
Perhaps the gods (or in her case, god) are with Cate, because the tunnel is not a dead end. She can still hear footsteps approaching, echoing through the tunnels, and now and then robotic voices made incoherent by the echo effect. It's impossible to know how close or far away they might be due to the strange acoustics created by the underground maze.
Cate is no stranger to caves, due to hiking and mountain-climbing escapades back on Hibernia, but without a light source this is something altogether different and terrifying. And that's not even counting the killer robots looking for her. Cate bites back a cry as she stumbles over a stalagmite and falls for real this time. Get help or die trying. Those were her words to Astraea. Time to put her money where her mouth is. She picks herself up and continues onward in a hunched-over walk - one hand stretched out in front of her like a blind person feeling their way along.
Gradually, the echoes of pursuit grow quieter. She can still hear them now and then, but it becomes obviously more distant, and sometimes can't be heard at all.
Cate's ragged breathing sounds loud enough to bring the whole Cylon army down on her, as she stumbles her way through the darkness. Even when the sound of the pursuing Cylons die down, she keeps going. Eventually, though, she decides to dare trying to make some light. She's got the piece of shrapnel in her pocket, and rocks all around. Maybe she can make a spark, but what can she burn? She knows her uniform is supposed to be flame-resistant - they drill that into everyone in basic. Are the undershirts? Aha. The bandage. She unwraps the cotton cloth from her hand and crouches down. Time to put that survival training to good use.
Maybe Cate needs to go back for a survival course refresher. Or maybe the course just neglected to account for the difficulty of starting a fire in a pitch black cave with one hand injured and only a bandage (which may or may not be actual cotton) to catch the spark. Whatever the case, Cate's firestarting proves unsuccessful after the first few attempts. She calls it quits after that, frustrated and worried that the loud crack of rocks against each other is going to attract the Cylons again.
She's probably right about that, for soon after her little girl-vs-wild experiment, she hears some more sounds of pursuit echoing through the caves. Cate resumes her slow advance through the darkness - cold, alone and afraid.
The cave here is so dark that she can't even see her hand in front of her face, let alone see the sharp drop of the ground before her foot goes over the edge. There's just the abrupt sensation of falling, a short cry, and then a bone-jarring thud. Cate sees an explosion of light, and then nothing.
When Cate opens her eyes again, the blackness is so complete that for a moment she's not sure her eyes are actually open. Struggling to her feet, she starts to feel her way forward again, hunched over and testing carefully for solid ground with the tip of her boot before each step.
Without a watch (lost or taken by the Cylons, she didn’t know) time ceased to have meaning. It feels like an eternity that she stumbles along, her head aching even worse than before. She could feel a sticky warmth on her face from a gash she can’t see.
At one point, she cracks her knee on a rocky outgrowth jutting out from the wall and falls down on hands and knees. Tears sting her eyes, hopelessness settling in. She was going to die down here. The physician in her idly wonders what would get her first - exposure or dehydration. Or maybe she’d just go insane, smothered by the darkness. For a fleeting instant she considers turning back.
Then she remembers what the Cylons did to their prisoners. She thinks of Deb and everyone else at the Pyramid stadium, burned alive. Those poor souls on the Eros, with metal grafted into their brains. Aldrich’s friends on Canceron, flayed like something out of a horror movie. Evan and Daisy, whom she prayed had died rather than being captured.
The rage fuels her. Ignoring the stinging in her knee, she limps onward through the caves. Some time later, she sees something on the ceiling up ahead - a tiny sliver of light. A way out? Her heart leaps, and she hurries forward - tripping over another uneven patch on the way.
The light seems to be coming from a vertical shaft above her. How high was it? Was there enough of an opening for her to fit through?
Only one way to find out.
Cate starts searching for handholds, the light from above giving just enough to see by. Climbing was torture with her burned hand, but she grits her teeth and powers through. The light gets brighter as she rises, almost painful after the pitch-blackness of the cave. When she finally reaches the top of the shaft, she sees a crack in the rock. It's just barely wide enough for her to squeeze through. She tears her sleeve and leaves some skin from her arm and knee behind, but then she emerges on a Sagittaron hillside.
Cate flops on the ground, half-laughing and half-crying. She soaks in the heat from the rocks to ward off the underground chill and lets her eyes adjust to the light. It's still painfully bright, but she can see okay if she squints.
She didn't dare stay put for long, though. This area was still crawling with Cylons, and they'd be looking for her. Standing up, Cate scans the area with a hand shielding her eyes. Nothing looked familiar. Maybe if she got to higher ground, she could signal friendly air forces or at least see some landmarks to help her find her way out. With that thought in mind, Cate gathers up her resolve and starts hiking.