2238-01-30 - Coming In From The Cold

Lyn, on a patrol, discovers Gage and Ines in the woods and brings them back to the warehouse, and Cate patches up Ines. But reintegration with the Wolves -- and thirty some-odd survivors -- presents its own challenges.

Date: 2238-01-30

Location: Woods Of Picon

Related Scenes: 2238-01-28 - Darkest Before The Dawn 2238-01-31 - Things To Worry About

Plot: Operation: Bullhorn

Scene Number: 1636

Jump to End

At dawn -- or just before, more accurately -- they finally left the cabin. A day and a night of sleeping and food -- with Gage actually waking Ines for her turn at watch -- not to mention relatively clean clothes does wonders for ones mood. The Tauran marine isn't exactly humming again, but he does start the day out in a seemingly good mood, whatever food they have left packed into their backpacks. Also with them: the broken radio, the tea, the bow and arrow, and that strip of orange sheeting, and the furs.

Initially, Gage insisted Ines wear the furs, but with her still wearing his bulky-on-her tactical vest, even he was forced to concede it was a fruitless effort, and instead claimed them for himself. Together with the bow and arrow slung over his shoulder, at a glance he could be mistaken for the hunter -- though he doesn't wear the furred hat, not with that bump still sticking out from the side of his head.

Speaking of that: if it's bothering him, he's certainly not admitting to it, though the occasional wince, and surreptitious rubbing of eyes whenever he pauses to scout their surroundings suggests there's still some healing to go on that score. He also doesn't push them as hard as he has in the days leading up the cabin, though whether that's in deference to their shared state or merely his own is anyone's guess.

-

Ines is still full when they set out. Granted, days of very little to eat had shrunk her stomach considerably, but the cuts of meat from the deer were not insubstantial, and there wasn't much point to doing anything other than eating their fill. Anything that spoiled would go to waste. Dried meat and canned fruit make all the difference, too, in having something to look forward to whenever they finally call it quits for the day's traverse.

Today is the first day of travel that Ines has seemed as though she's not struggling to keep pace with him. A full day of resting her leg did remarkable things for the swelling. The only sour note amidst all of the good news arrived in the form of her decision to silently, and with no fanfare, take the first of the antibiotics from their medical supplies. The wounds on her arm are like most shrapnel injuries not clean enough to stitch in most places. They remain difficult to keep closed in places, and they don't have the supplies necessary to disinfect them.

Still, she's in solid spirits as they move, actually taking in the landscape they're passing through, rather than doggedly staring at the heels of his boots in a grim and silent march.

"I never thought much about Picon before this. About the interior, I mean. Only the water, really."

-

The momentary stillness and slight tightening of jaw earlier -- when he saw her take those antibiotics -- are the only reaction from Gage. He, too, doesn't mention it. Either they have enough antibiotics to do their job... or they don't. Certainly, the hunter didn't have any to hand.

Rubbing at his beard -- despite his suggestion the previous day, he never quite got around to cutting it -- the Tauran snorts, "Our first campaign here, the other marines warned me about the local fauna. Giant spiders and sharks and bears and what have you. I'd say we're lucky it's cold so we don't meet them all, but then, I guess they'd make good eating."

They've been alone for long enough that any faint noise outside of themselves gets attention -- in this case, a scrape of boot on leaves, and a quiet, 'ahem' -- to draw their attention to a man further down their path, leaning against a tree. He looks to be a Picon native, wearing warm clothing. He has a gun, too, but his hands are very deliberately held easily at his side.

-

"Giant...spiders?" Ines' brows stitch together around the thought of that, a look narrowed in his direction as though she's trying to discern whether or not he's actually serious. Her murmur reflects this thoughtfulness, almost toneless. "I think we're safe from sharks, Tomak, unless-"

Another throat-clearing, and it wasn't him. She stops dead in her tracks and visibly adjusts the way she's holding the rifle: it wants to nose up, but she's keeping that impulse restrained.

For now. The way she looks, collarbones hollowed out with tension and eyes wide, that could change at any moment.

She should say something, but through the sudden buzz of adrenaline in her system nothing even begins to suggest itself.

-

"Ones as big as your head," Gage is sticking on the spider theme, despite her logical observation about sharks not being an issue. He seems earnestly serious, only a brief twitch at the corner of his lips to betray amusement. That all flees in an instant, at that noise, head snapping around. At the same time, his rifle snaps up and is pointing squarely at the stranger. Either he hasn't Ines' restraint, his training dictates otherwise -- or her paranoia is just infectious.

The man tugs at his ear, as if vaguely embarrassed for having interrupted the conversation. His gaze flickers between the pair of them -- lingering for a moment on Ines -- or maybe what she's wearing, before turning gaze on Gage, frowning visibly, though not necessarily at the weapon, though that, too, earns a wary glance. His accent, when he speaks, is definitely Piconese, "I'm thinking you might be little lost Wolves?" he grins, a little, as if seeking to ease the tension. "We've a place, back there," he thumbs a vague gesture over his shoulder. "You look like you could use the rest."

Gage's tension is obvious, his weight shifting as he eases a step away from Ines -- only so that he can keep his gun trained on the Picon man, and catch a glimpse of Ines' expression, too. He, frankly, looks suspicious, mouth a thin line.

-

It's a tense tableau.

Two soldiers, in better shape now than they were twenty-four hours ago but still worn down and weary, visibly bandaged, holding a man dressed in warm, Piconese clothing at silent gunpoint. Rifle-point, as a matter of fact. The single figure at the vertex of this wedge of incipient death is also armed, but he hasn't drawn his weapon. He doesn't look especially hostile, either.

None of that seems to matter to Gage and Ines, who happen to be the two soldiers in question.

He's only just finished hypothetically identifying them as Wolves -- and grinning, trying to deflate the moment of its sudden, crackling tension. For reasons he cannot possibly guess at, the grin has almost entirely the opposite of its intended effect, coaxing the muzzle of Ines' rifle slightly higher. Or maybe that happens in response to what she can see of Gage, openly sighting on the sudden stranger, stepping aside to glance at her briefly -- a look she returns, uncertainty etched in every line of her face.

"Yeah. We've heard that before," she says, finally. "The last guy tried to put a hatchet in him." Her head tilts on that last 'him' toward Tomak indicatively. "Why should we trust you, ami?"

-

Lyn is out on patrol with a few of the civilians they're staying with in the warehouse. The recon marine has been out there tirelessly, only stopping when she has to sleep or risk dropping in the field. She's worried sick about Aldrich and Cate's injuries, so she does the only thing she knows she has control of. Her job. It's not helping that the locals are really not trained soldiers, so her renowned stealth is hampered and she can't move as quickly as she'd like without leaving them behind. Thus, when one of the patrol startles a couple people, she's sighing as she looks down the barrel of her scope and recognizes at least Gage.

Lyn calls out, 'They're clear, Danvers! I know them." The Aquarian steps out from some cover and shoulders her rifle. "Ares on a pogo stick, Tomak. Are you always this friendly to people wanting to help you?" she asks with a smirk.

-

Gage definitely does not look like Gage. His hair is long and he sports a full grown beard, scraggly and unkempt in itself. He's also dressed in a fur coat that looks to have been hand sewn and cured, his head oddly shaped in some odd way -- at least until the bump that rises from the side of it, like he was struck at an angle from behind -- becomes obvious. Currently, he has his gun settled, center mass, on the Piconese scout that's leaning against a tree and trying his best to look casual and unthreatening.

"The name's Danvers," the Piconese scout says, keeping his voice casual, especially when Ines' rifle is raised, too. He looks wary, but not afraid, like he's used to skittish wolves, indeed. His hands stretch, slowly, out to either side of him. "We've got some of your fellows with us. Got one with me, in fact, though she was scouting ahead..." he's probably hoping she'll turn up before things get too dicey. But for now, Danvers seems content to play it safe. When Lyn calls out, his expression is wry; they're holding him to gunpoint, after all. There might be a subtle kind of exhale when she intervenes, however.

Gage's gun remains on Danvers -- at least until he recognizes that voice, and then he only lowers it, doesn't completely put it up. "Arda?" there's a roughness to his voice, one of mostly misuse and, probably, abuse. Only when he sights her does he exhale, long and low, like a mute chorus of relief.

-

A secondary voice, remote to the stand-off happening in front of Ines, has her taking a step back, trying to put trees between herself and the source of that voice and actually angling her rifle in that direction. Could she have made a shot at that distance, this underfed Leonese pilot...? She seems to think it's within the realm of possibility, anyway, because she looks awfully serious about what she's doing.

And then Tomak says a last name, and Ines' grasp on the weapon wobbles, noses downward again. Her expression is still tight with adrenaline, but it seems to be slowly unraveling, like someone had found and begun to pull at a loose thread. What sneaks in amidst that tension oh-so-gradually is something like cautious confusion -- like she's afraid to believe what she's seeing and hearing.

"Is...does that mean." She takes a short, shallow breath. "Does that mean we're out? We -- are we out?" Her swallow is tight. Bright eyes slant toward the marine next to her. "Did we make it?"

-

"Alive and well. Charlie , Cate , Geoff, Scott, and Al are holed up with us too. Charlie and I are the only ones fully healthy though. What happened to your head?" Lyn asks, and is that...a pilot?" she asks, vaguely recognizing Inez. "You two look like you've been through the ringer. We rescued a couple of the civvies here who were skirmishing against the tin cans after the front passed them. See anyone else?"

Lyn has a stellar poker face in a crisis. She was search and rescue on Aquaria, and spent a lot of time trying to keep people in very bad danger calm so she could get them to safety. She does look tired though, and underfed, and needs a shower really bad. Her hair may have gained sentience at this point. Her lips press in a tight line at Ines' question before she shakes her head. "Fraid not. We're still behind enemy lines. We're talking about Charlie and I going out there to try and make our way to the front and get help sent back." She doesn't want to leave her people, but the recon gals may be their best hope.

-

"I don't..." Gage's muttered response to Ines trails off into silence as Lyn starts naming names. The brief swaying could well be attributed to relief just as much a result of his concussion. A glimmer of something like hope surfaces in the marine's expression, reflected in his gaze as he glances at Ines. They made it.

And then Lyn continues, and the news isn't as good as he'd allowed himself, for that one shining moment, to believe in. His expression closes once more, mouth a thin line. The question about his head earns a dismissive grimace. "Correa," he tells Lyn, with a tip of head at Ines. "She was on a team trying to rescue us. It half worked," he says, understating it with a grimace. He glances at Danvers, just a quick look, a quick check. Habit. A finger rubs through his beard. "Correa might be able to help us identify possible search patterns from our birds. Got a broken radio with us, too -- if there's anyone that can fix it and has the parts."

-

Names. Familiar names. Chuck is in their bunk, even, when they live on the Dauntless. Muscles corkscrewed into steel-cable tension slowly begin to unbind, though it seems to take some of the wind out of her sails, too, leaving her looking tired as her eyes close and she brings one hand up to press it over her face. The rifle finally hangs slack on the improvised strap tied to it, her second hand joining the first, pressing at both eyes while things inside of her that she hadn't realized were tied in knots begin to decompress.

Not entirely. Just a little.

When she lowers them she drags a long breath in and instantly, immediately, on Lyn saying they're talking about an effort to get help, once Tomak's introduced her: "We'll-" Pause. "I'll go. I'll go with you, I can help."

And then, remembering, she glances at Danvers, slightly shame-faced. "I'm sorry."

-

"I'm not much of a techie, but maybe one of the others is. Or maybe Charlie found some more people by now. We've been on separate patrols trying to bring people in." Lyn gives Gage a tight smile and it broadens at Ines. "Maybe you should have been a marine if you were able to give Tomak a bump that big," she quips. Her shoulders relax, visibly, which is the only indication she was ever not relaxed in the encounter. "Sorry, Correa, but Charlie and I work best alone. We're recon, and we need to move fast and run silent if we're going to get past the enemy and back into Colonial territory." She signals the rest of the patrol and they begin heading back to their hole, the warehouse they've been hiding out in. "Come on, let's at least get you a roof over your head."

Gage glances at Ines, mouth a thin line. But, strangely -- or interestingly -- he doesn't protest, despite the fact that she is a pilot. For him, that's practically a ringing endorsement. "Aint no sarge, Arda, but even I know that's just plain dumb," Gage being Gage, throws that to Lyn as he moves to fall into step with the other marine. It's offset, maybe, by the nudge of his shoulder into hers, about the most demonstrative he seems apt to. "Any word on Davy?"

Danvers, having relaxed enough to lower his hands, gives Ines a grin. "No hard feelings. Run into plenty of your fellow Wolves of late, all of them just as wary." He starts moving with the rest, settling into an easy lope to keep him a little ahead of the rest of them.

-

Surprise crests into Ines' expression, followed by puzzled humor. "I didn't hit him on the head," she says, though she looks tickled by the thought more than anything, and follows that up with a wry, pointed glance at the dark-haired Tauran. "Yet."

Whatever may have driven her to offer to help, she certainly doesn't seem as though she's about to press the point with a recon marine, and as Tomak falls into step beside Lyn she falls in behind the pair of them, adjusting the hang of the rifle over her shoulder and giving Danvers a rueful but grateful look as he passes them by. She settles into silence readily enough, listening to the pair in front of her.

-

Lyn returns the shoulder bump. "I've been out here for 24 hours. Could be back at the warehouse if Charlie found him. Hopefully so. Who else is missing? We lost a few people from our team in the ambush. Scott is really injured badly. Cate has a concussion at the very least, and Al got shot in the leg." That last has her clearly the most worried, since the two have been together for some time now. "When I left, Geoff was sleeping, so I have no idea if he's ok or not."

-

"Practically inevitable," is Gage's opinion on Ines hitting him on the head, casting a veiled look over his shoulder at the pilot, though there's an undertone of something serious behind the casual addition to Lyn, "Still, I wouldn't say no to a headache pill or two, if anyone had them to spare." He gives a grunt at her lack of news about the other Tauran, though his footsteps slow a little, tension visible briefly in the shift of his walk. "Maison got out -- I hope alive, still. Ridley, too. Haven't seen a single other soul since." The hunter, apparently, doesn't count -- that or that encounter is going in the 'forgot to put that in the report' pile. "Sorry about the preacher. He has a knack for that, doesn't he?" is observed blandly.

-

Smoldering amusement glitters in the pale eyes that meet the look Gage angles over his shoulder, but Ines says nothing else. Not until they've finished with that quiet exchange. "We have some clean bandages left, if he needs them. Aldrich. No disinfectant, though."

They got the bandages from the hunter, granted, but her phrasing is careful enough to suggest that she's prepared to sign off on the 'leaving it out of the report' approach. "How are supplies...?"

-

"All his prayers seem to keep me in one piece. He needs to start saying a few for himself," Lyn says with a soft snort. "There's not much left of the meds or the supplies, but Cate or Al might have something still." She digs in her pocket for an energy bar and offers it to the pair. "It's not much, but it's calories. I've been hanging on to it."

-

The subtle phrasing is apparently heard, and adhered to by the Tauran, too. Gage shakes his head for the offer of chocolate. "We were lucky -- managed down down something to eat day before last." Undoubtedly due to the bow and arrow that he's got slung over one shoulder. He does, however, gesture towards Ines, as if she might want to partake. "Way things are going, he'd best say prayers for all of us." He rubs fingers through his beard again. "How is the food situation?"

-

It takes her off-guard, that little gesture from Lyn: offering them the thing in her pocket, when things are bad for everyone. Ines' lips part as she watches it held out and something in her expression seems to gently crumple, leaving her grateful she's behind the others. She turns her head to angle her attention away, eyes bright as stars under knitted brows, the curve of her mouth pressed into a thin line as she wrestles with whatever fist of feeling is digging into her stomach and lungs. Gage explaining about the deer gives her time to marshal that sudden surge of emotion.

Eventually she chokes down the knot in her throat enough to trust her voice again. "Arda, was it? Thanks. I'm good, but...thanks." Quiet: "It's just...it's nice to see another friendly face."

-

"We're scavenging and hunting as we can, but besides us, there are thirty civvies, including kids. So it's not a good situation," Lyn admits. She nods to Ines and puts the energy bar away again. She clearly has no intention of eating it herself, but is waiting for someone who needs it badly. "We were lucky to have had four of us from the start. In as much as anyone is lucky after that shitshow went down." She runs a hand through her greasy hair. She is dying for some shampoo at this point. She talks to Danvers briefly and he and another civvie range on ahead to let the warehouse know they have friendlies incoming. "You'll be able to get some rest in this place at least. It was a warehouse of some sort. So far, it's managed to hide thirty-plus people successfully for the last week."

-

"She means it's nice to see a friendly face," Gage mutters. "Aint been the best of company." He doesn't look over his shoulder as he says that, and thus misses Ines' reaction, his own posture full of that subtle thread of tension that only increases the closer they get to their supposed base of operations. Fingers twitch, reflexively towards his rifle, or reach for a pocket of the vest that Ines is wearing, instead of him. Little, reassuring gestures that he's not even conscious of. He gives a nod to Lyn's assessment, the line of his jaw tightening. Thirty people. After so long, out there -- the very thought makes him miss a step. That, or he's just tired.

-

Thirty. Thirty.

They'll know some of the people there. Soldiers. But the list of names they were given was so small by comparison, wildly outnumbered. It's not just Gage who struggles to wrap his head around that. Not just the thought of being surrounded by strangers that way, either -- the thought of lingering in the midst of the fat target that creates.

At least Ines has the sense and courtesy to wait until Lyn parts company with them to move ahead with Danvers and the others to broach that, taking the spot beside him that the recon marine so recently vacated and slowing her pace to let the rest get way out ahead of them.

By now they've been traveling together for over a week. She doesn't say anything, when she angles that silent, serious look up and sidelong at him, but she isn't sure she needs to. It is, like countless other similar glances over the last week, solicitous.

-

Gage's pace, too, is slow, like he's reluctant to move ahead, gaze skipping from Arda and Danvers ahead of them, to what lies beyond. He doesn't even need to adjust his stride to match the pilot's; it's just unconscious, after so long, to shorten his stride when she moves up next to him. His jaw tightens as he exhales an audible breath, glancing back at her.

"It's fine. This is fine," he mutters, finally. Hard to say whether he's telling her, or trying to convince himself. He doesn't sound entirely convincing, either.

-

Ines traces her eyes over the tightened muscle that straps his jaw, then turns her gaze forward, watching the last of Arda and the others, swallowed soon enough by the woods.

Is it? The question is written clear as day on her face, pensive in every line and angle. But what choice do they have, really?

"...We need to see what they have stockpiled. What the worst-case scenario is. Three days? Two weeks? It's when the food gets low that it gets dangerous. If they're barely hanging on it doesn't make sense to sit and wait. Maybe if-"

She hesitates. When she continues it's with a slightly different approach, and she's trying to keep her tone casual. "Would you be trying to go with Arda and Wagner, if they try to cross the front?"

-

Gage doesn't react to her speculation, not at first, though brief tightening of his eyes suggests he's listening closely all the same. "Aint one for sitting and waiting," he admits, "But even I know that's a long shot." Even if it's precisely what he was pushing, hoping at long odds for themselves. That gamble of maybe survival.

A swallow makes his jaw tighten, and then he stops, looking at her, waiting for her to look at him, or at least notice he's ceased moving. "But if it comes to that, we'd go." We. A subtle, deliberate inflection. We as him and her, not him and them.

-

That Ines stops instantly the moment he does suggests she was paying very close attention to him, in spite of her eyes being pinned in front of her.

At this point she doesn't even bother trying to conceal the relief -- subtle but deep -- when he anticipates where she was going with that line of thinking and puts it to rest. It takes her a moment to reorient herself on the thought she abandoned a moment ago. "We might double the odds of someone getting through if we went two different routes. Us, and them."

In the pause that follows, she ticks her gaze back in the direction the warehouse must lie. "So we find out what's left, figure out how much time there is, maybe...talk to people. Read the room, see how desperate people already are. We don't..." Pause. "I don't want to be there if it gets dire. I'd rather take my chances with you."

-

"Aint much of a shot out there," Gage reiterates, clear and deliberate, like he wants to be sure she knows what she's committing to. He takes a breath, exhales it out. The words are even, but they hold a raw honesty that he usually holds carefully close. "Chances are good, with the supplies we have, we'd never make it."

His gaze holds hers, seeking that awareness of the truth of his words.

-

It's a long silence, and it's full of the mundane sounds of arboreal wilderness. Birds, wind, creaking trees, rustling leaves. They've been in it long enough now that it's an open question as to whether or not she hears it anymore. Strange, that a week of that kind of silence and solitude could make the thought of being surrounded by a human community feel stressful for more than just pragmatic post-apocalypse reasons.

"If you want to stay," she says eventually, slowly, "Then I'll stay." She lets that sentiment stand on its own for some heartbeats' span of time. "But even good people become monstrous when they can see the last of something they need dwindling to nothing. If I'm to starve out here I would rather starve with someone I know isn't going to open me with a knife in my sleep. But..." Some of her stillness sloughs away, leaving her shifting her weight from one leg to the other, gaze finally tilted away, off toward nothing in particular. "I'm not going to just leave you there. Maybe it won't have to happen that way. Maybe tomorrow, a Raptor lands on the roof, non? But we should know what we're going to do and when or if we're going to do it."

-

Gage watches her for moments more, before he nods, an acceptance of her acceptance. Something dark creeps into his gaze, and he looks away. Not towards the warehouse, though that's where his gaze is pointed. "I was on Tauran, when the cylons turned. When my city burned and fell around us. I know what it's like, when desperation sets in." His jaw tightens. "I won't put us through that, I swear." He doesn't look at her again, not with that thought, that memory, still fresh in his mind. Instead, he holds out his hand to catch hers, briefly, squeezes, then releases it as he steps towards the warehouse.

-

Friendlies -- Lyn Arda, Danvers, a couple of other civilians -- returned not long ago to the warehouse to say that they were bringing friendlies back. Gage Tomak, a pilot named Correa. Ten minutes ago, perhaps, having ranged out ahead of the pair.

They're standing now on the fringes, and the expression that Ines is wearing as she looks at the marine with her is solemn, heavy with things she doesn't actually articulate before he squeezes her hand and turns away. She watches him for some moments before drawing a long breath, hooking her thumbs into the straps of her backpack, and following behind.

They've looked better, but it might be surprising that they don't look worse. Ines is wearing Gage's vest -- it's huge for her; the straps are tightened as far as they can be -- and a rifle with an improvised strap, her left arm bandaged from shoulder to wrist. She's barely limping at this point at all. The Tauran is bearded and tousle-haired, and wearing furs of all things, along with a bow and arrow -- properly a wilderness look, for sure. But they seem pretty clean for people who've been missing for over two weeks and one week, respectively.

-

There's a definite wariness in the way that Gage moves about the room. That one hand is ever on his rifle is unmistakable, for other Wolves -- the Tauran is ill-at-ease, and the gesture is one of unconscious reassurance. The mostly unfamiliar faces get careful looks -- a brief nod, when they notice him, but otherwise, the marine seems intent on finding friendly faces amongst the group. Wherever he moves, his pace is adjusted to Ines' shorter stride.

-

Cate has also looked better. Her uniform has a few tears in it, including one over a knee, and there are dark reddish-brown splotches on it that probably don't bode well for someone's health. But apart from being ragged and exhausted, she seems relatively okay as she stands by the doorway. Her hands are stuffed into her jacket pocket, and her SMG is slung over her shoulder. "I thought they found another marine, not Grizzly Rocklin," she quips as the stragglers approach, referencing a popular wilderness TV show from a few years back. Nevertheless, she offers a weak smile.

-

"Rhodes!"

Now that they're inside, surrounded by unfamiliar faces, it would be difficult to believe -- just to look at Ines -- that she'd been in the woods for a week at all, or anywhere else for that matter. Aside from the way she's dressed and her general air of dishevelment, she seems -- quite suddenly -- as though she's the same as she's ever been.

Right down to the warm smile and the sly, rueful, gallows humor in her eyes. "You always seem to be where the excitement is." She even cocks a hip, plants one hand on it as she tilts her head and sweeps pale eyes over her. "I asked him if he plans to keep the beard. He was evasive. I think he likes it."

She crinkles her nose, a playful little editorializing on that possibility.

-

"Rhodes," Gage says, gruffly, as his eyes light on her. There's a wealth of emotion in the single word -- an obvious relief at her health, tempered still by the awareness that while an improvement, they're not out of the woods yet -- literally or figuratively. He moves closer, grimacing as his left hand comes up to curl through his ragged beard, a flicker of a smile perhaps visible under all that hair. Closer, she can probably see the large bump rising from the side of his head, unbandaged, though he looks largely clean. He comes to a halt, like he's not quite sure how to greet her, settling finally on lifting a hand aimed for her shoulder, fingers light. A glance back over his shoulder at Ines' warm greeting of the medic suggests the two already know each other. He grunts at the pilot's words. "Give me a sharp razor, I might consider it." Might.

"Hey," Cate's greeting back to them is fond but restrained. She's not as good as Ines at the whole Happy Camper business. When Gage touches her shoulder, she responds by patting his arm. A weak smirk is offered to Ines. "Yeah, well, I always say my luck runs to extremes." She lets out a sigh, then brushes past that thought. "Glad you made it. What do you need? Hungry? Hurt?" Her eyes drift over them, searching for signs of injury.

-

Another nose-wrinkle: Ines is not a fan of the beard, obviously. Or maybe just beards in general? Or maybe she's just reaching for something normal to fuss about, with everything around them sitting on a knife's edge.

"Tomak was concussed. His head is probably screaming bloody murder, but Arda said you're in a bad way for..." Everything. She sits in momentary silence, then gestures at her left arm with her right hand. "I've got some...things. Ah. Cuts. I think they're not very clean."

She knows they're not, actually, but she's been keeping the status of her arm sort of a secret from Gage, which makes this exchange slightly awkward.

-

There's another brief smile for the medic, before Gage's smile fades. "We can only hope it swings good, for all our shakes, then." His hand drops, giving a brief snort as Cate immediately asks about their health. It's familiar, in a way, and comforting, and it eases something in the tension of his posture, fingers releasing its hold on his rifle. He opens his mouth, but Ines beats him to it -- glancing at the pilot sharply. "Correa's arm needs a looking at. I tried my best, but I aint no doctor, and we didn't have much in the way of supplies." The marine isn't shy about it, either, moving over to sink down onto a seat and waving to Ines as if to say, 'her first'.

-

Cate listens attentively to their reports, a crooked grimace agreeing with Gage's hopeful remark. "Yeah. Okay, c'mon back here - we've set aside a little makeshift infirmary. Like you said, pretty much everything's short but we're scraping by. Could be worse." She leads the way back, pausing as two of the civilian kids cut across their path while chasing each other across the room. Their antics get a soft 'heh' from Cate. A few other civvies are visible, though the entire group is spread out between patrols, chores and the various rooms in the warehouse.

-

Ines follows in that bright-eyed, attention-everywhere sort of way once they begin to move, glancing over her shoulder at Gage only briefly. At a glance, she looks as though she's in high spirits to have found herself back in amongst boisterous company, trailing the kids playing tag with a quirk at one corner of her mouth that might have been a smile under other circumstances, maybe.

"What else should we know? About the group here, or..." She pries her fingers off of the strap of her backpack, gestures vaguely. "The area?"

-

There's a brief grunt of effort as Gage pushes himself up again, hand reaching for his rifle to adjust it as he moves after Cate, aiming to fall back behind her and Ines. In contrast, the Tauran's reaction to the two kids is notable, he slows, and stops, frowning after them. Not for their antics, so much as their actual presence, though the distinction might not be obvious. After a few moments, he lengthens his stride to catch up with the other two. "The Piconese -- they just refugees, or...?"

-

"There's about thirty locals," Cate explains as they go. "Dozen guerrillas, though one of them's in a bad way. Couple kids, the rest refugees. There's not too many people left in the area now - Cylons have it locked down pretty tight. But these guys have managed to survive, so who knows who else is out there." Her jaw tightens a bit with restrained emotion there. They reach a door, which opens up into an empty office that now serves as their makeshift infirmary. Two men lay on makeshift stretchers, both sleeping (one is a local, the other is CPL Scott). Cate's pack and armor are tucked away in a corner. She safeties her SMG and bends over gingerly to set it down by the armor and pick up the pack. "You get knocked down by SAMs?" she wonders of Ines.

-

Stepping into the office, Ines casts a glance over the sleeping men, and when she next speaks she keeps her voice quiet, probably in deference to their rest. "Cylon with a rocket." It takes her a moment to shrug off the straps of her backpack, setting it down along with the rifle -- gotten from somewhere -- so that she can begin to unbuckle Gage's vest. "It was stupid. I should have seen it. I was just..." Eyes turned briefly distant, they return to Cate and seem to push aside some of that maudlin remembering. "I was excited about finding marines."

With the vest off, it's easiest for Cate if she peels her long-sleeved thermal shirt off, too, as rolling the sleeve up wouldn't really give the medic access to her entire arm. The front of her torso is a continental map of bruises, but they're over a week old, now. The arm, on the other hand, is a mess of ragged shrapnel injuries, all along the outside, with a graze bullet wound on the top of her forearm, just about over her elbow's hinge. Some of them have obviously been reopened. Two of them look infected.

"We have some antibiotics...I only took one, but now that we're here....maybe, better if I don't have to take more, and we can save them."

-

It's, perhaps, best that Gage is behind the other two Wolves, since his expression darkens the more Cate explains the situation with the locals. By the time they reach the makeshift infirmary, his expression is fairly closed, which admittedly is about normal for him -- though there's still visible tension in the way he moves, his gestures to tap at a non-existent pocket of the vest he's not wearing -- before he catches himself. He moves towards the two injured men, not recognizing the first, though the second -- there's a tightening of his jaw. He's still wearing his pack and keeps hold of his gun, even here. "They got Maison and Ripley out. Maison would've died." He grimaces, corrects: "Might've." He wouldn't know -- but it'd be bad luck for the newly transferred private.

The Tauran half turns, to give Ines the illusion of privacy. He's seen all the bruising already, anyway, but... her words draw his gaze, and as his eyes trail over those wounds. His jaw clenches, something sharp and hot flashing in his gaze for a moment before he spins on his heel to turn away. There isn't much space, but he goes to sit near Scott, posture rigid.

-

Cate brings her pack over to Ines. Like Gage, she never lets her gun get too far away, plus there's a pistol on her hip. "Eh, don't beat yourself up too much. Can't have eyes in the back of your head all the time." She surveys the wounds with a critical eye when Ines starts doffing layers, lips pursed consideringly. Motioning for the pilot to sit down on the floor (since there's no furniture to be had in here), Cate crouches down herself and starts opening the pack. She smothers a wince as she does so - not entirely unscathed herself. "Mmm, I think you should go ahead and keep taking them. Don't want this infection getting worse." She says it with a practiced casualness. She glances over towards Gage. "That's two out, at least," she says, trying to find the bright side.

-

It's safe to say Ines is very determinedly not looking at Gage Tomak as she sinks down to sit. She's got an injured leg obviously -- she takes care not to just drop into a hard bend of the knee on that side -- but she hasn't mentioned it, so she must not feel it's worth worrying about in the grand scheme of things.

The recommendation she gets concerning the antibiotics meets with a thinning of the lips and grudging sort of look, but she tacks a nod onto the end of it, and then handily changes the subject: "We found a radio. It hasn't got batteries, might be broken, but...maybe someone can fix it...?"

-

The sharp nod and brief grunt from Gage is acknowledgement of Cate's latter words. His gaze is fixed on Scott, but not really looking at him -- instead, breathing, his gaze and his thoughts visibly distant. Even in the small space -- his backpack pressed against the wall, rifle resting across his knees -- his posture breathes tension.

-

Cate slants Gage a glance, that tension noted. She's hardly relaxed herself, but the bearing is not commented on. "Maybe," she grants to Ines. "Not any good with tech myself. Let's get this cleaned up. Shrapnel sucks." There's a sympathetic, somber edge to her voice. "Wagner found where they moved the prisoners to."

-

It's actually the silence from Tomak that finally turns Ines' head. That, and a week-long habit of checking on him every now and then when it's quiet. That's where her attention stays for long, silent moments, until she finally tugs her attention back around to Cate on the heels of that last piece of news. "Yeah? She is...with them, now?"

-

A huff of breath exhales from Gage's direction. With a grunt, he pushes to his feet, leaning against the wall to do so. His jaw is tight, anger underlacing the grumbled words: "Aint any benefit to breaking them free. We have no raptors to get us out, let alone them. All we'd be doing would be putting them in a debateably shittier position than they are in right now." He rolls his shoulders, though the movement is limited with the backpack still on. "I'm going to do a circuit." He starts to jerk his head towards the door, grimaces at the half-completed motion, and just moves for the door instead.

-

Cate shakes her head to Ines, her lips thinning. "No. Her and Aleks headed out to try and get back to friendly lines. We're not exactly very mobile here, so getting everyone out wasn't going to work. This is gonna sting a bit..." she warns, before applying some antiseptic to the shrapnel cuts. Gage's grumble gets a sharp look. "That's bullshit, Tomak. Anywhere'd be better than where they're at right now," sh says, jaw tight.

-

That produces a very definite reaction. Ines snaps her head around, pinning her eyes to Tomak's back with an intensity that seems likely to have her saying something, brows knitted. Her mouth even opens. She wants to.

For whatever reason, she doesn't. She presses her lips together and then ducks her head, lifting her free hand to rub her fingertips over her forehead in a contained fidget, tension stitched all through the movement. The lean muscle in her arm tightens when the antiseptic begins to sting and her eyes tighten, but she says nothing. It takes her a moment to even process the rest of what she heard, at which point she lifts her head. "Davy is- was, here?"

-

It's not Cate's latter words that stop the Tauran marine in the doorway, but her mention of the other Tauran. "Davy's alive?" Gage exhales, slowly. "Arda said she and Wagner were going to--" but that thought isn't important. "Maybe," is the most he's prepared to concede in response to Cate's sharp look. "Maybe not." He's definitely not looking at Ines before he turns and disappears out the door.

-

"Yeah, he was. He's all right," Cate answers Ines, though of course it goes to Gage's question as well. She shakes her head to Gage. There's obviously no 'maybe' in Cate's eyes, but she doesn't say anything back to him. Her expression has gone strangely distant as she continues working on Ines' arm.

-

In the silence of the office, the click in the pilot's throat as she swallows is audible. Tomak leaves, and for some moments she sits in silence, looking at the floor and dealing with...whatever. Whatever it is that makes someone look like that, a sizable dent put in her 'everything is fine' act.

She does eventually stir, though, and push all of that aside through sheer force of will, lifting her eyes. "How are you, Rhodes? We didn't really ask, did we. Sorry."

-

Cate isn't even pretending that everything's fine. The tension oozes off of her, as obvious as the tired circles under her eyes. But none of that keeps her from working quietly and efficiently on Ines' wounds. A few soft apologies are mumbled when the ministrations result in winces - a necessary evil to clearing out the grit and infected tissue. "Think there's still a sliver of shrapnel in this one," she says with a grim frown. "Gonna have to take it out to fight off that infection. I'll numb it up first." As she gets a little needle of anesthetic ready, she shrugs to the pilot's question. "I'm here. Sucks, but... we're alive right?" She glances in the direction Gage went briefly.

-

I'll numb it first, Cate says, and Ines flaps a hand, is about to wave it off for someone else who needs it more when she glances up to find Cate's got the needle prepped and ready. She saves her protests.

The answer she gets turns the corners of her mouth up. Only a little, and the expression is heavy with rue, but it seems genuine. "Right." She turns her head just a little, understanding the angle on which the medic turns her eyes, but she doesn't look all the way around again -- just pitches her voice low. Just in case. "He stayed behind when he saw one of the vipers crashed. He didn't know who it was. He'd already been out there a week, he just...wouldn't leave. He could've been back at base now." A shadow paints between her brows. "He saved my life. But it meant he's had to think about someone else, keeping both of us alive, you know? Supplies being low, all of those extra mouths...he's..."

For a moment she lapses into quiet. "It's a difficult mathematics you do, when you...start thinking like that. That maybe they would just...starve sooner. Or starve the rest of the people here. You know? No easy answers, now."

-

As promised, Cate numbs up the troublesome wound with a bit of anesthetic, giving it a minute to take effect before she gets a scalpel and pair of forceps out of her kit. Anyone familiar with such things would no doubt recognize that Cate has a bit more than just the standard combat medic supplies tucked away in her pack. Stuff that could get her into trouble back at base, but out here? Quite literally a life-saver. Her frown softens a touch when Ines tells about Gage staying behind. "Sounds like Tomak. He's a good guy under all that scowling." She shakes her head then, firmly. "But he's wrong. I've seen what they do to the people in those camps too many times. We can't protect them all, but even in the forest on their own they'd have a better chance than they would locked away being worked to death or turned into human guinea pigs." Her jaw clenches so tightly the muscles stand out in sharp relief.

-

"Of course." Ines murmurs the words, softer than the ones that came before. "I remember. I...I'm sure he remembers, too. Sometimes..." Her mouth opens and then closes, gaze slid off of Cate's incensed expression to watch what she does with her hands, instead. Whatever she'd been about to say dies on her tongue, lost in some nameless hesitation. "Gods, I don't know. You're probably right."

Two beats of silence, then: "Do you think Wagner and Davy will reach the other side? Do you think...would it make sense for more people to go? Go a different way?" Pause. "How long can the supplies here keep everyone fed? How much time do we have to find solutions?"

-

Cate's brow knits a bit in confusion. "Remembers what?" She shakes her head to the rest of it. "I don't know. I hope they do, but even if they can..." Cate's voice trails off in a frown for a few seconds before she sighs. "I mean... we got our assess kicked when we attacked this place the first time. We're so far behind the lines, I don't know if they could rescue us even if they did know where we were. It's not like forty people can just hop on a single Raptor. I think it's dangerous to pin all our hopes on a miraculous rescue." Having given the anesthetic time to do its job, Cate uses the scalpel to widen the cut as gently as she can and fish out the troublesome bit of metal. She holds it up for Ines to see. "That's going to be on the mend now." She starts dressing the arm. "As for the rest - I dunno. Logistics aren't my strong suit. Ask Al or Lyn I guess."

-

"What happened. To you, Nova. Some of the others." Not particularly squeamish, Ines watches the scalpel work with muted interest, and holds her hand out, cupped, when Cate holds the piece up, a silent request to be given the little fragment. "Thanks."

She's still mulling over the first observations, though, and takes her time with them. "If that's true, I would rather die trying to get out, I think," she says slowly, as though feeling her way through the words. "Give everyone else a better shot. People who can't go, who can't...can't fight. Like..." She does glance over her shoulder then, though of course Tomak is nowhere to be found. "Like the families. People with children. They have no choice, maybe. They have to stay."

-

"Oh," is Cate's soft response to the first bit, her face clouding at the reminder. "It's not just that though. There's been other camps..." She lets that thought trail off with a slight shake of her head and focuses on the other less gloomy thought. "Maybe," she grants, looking deflated. Once the bandage is pinned in place, she asks, "How's your leg?"

-

In some ways, in spite of a personality that embraces warmer and more openly emotional qualities, Ines is a lot like the terse marine who stomped off to brood: she offers Cate a quietly sympathetic look for that softly-spoken 'oh,' but she says nothing about it, reluctant to touch on anyone's private hurts.

She seizes on the leg question instead, and actually manages a small smile. "Better, actually. Better every day. That was the first day, so...we had supplies. Tomak stitched it. The first couple of days we had to run a lot. It's better now that we've had some time to rest. Not hot, not...not red."

-

Cate takes Ines at her word, acknowledging the report with a quiet nod. "Okay. Well keep an eye on it and let me know if that changes." She starts putting her stuff away. "There's some food out in the main room if you're hungry. Think Wagner brought back a couple rabbits before she left."

-

"We got lucky the other day. Got a deer." Ines quirks a half-smile, but it's swift to gutter out, like a candle in a stiff breeze. "I...should probably find Tomak." After a beat, she makes a tired effort to turn that into a joke: "I don't think the people here are ready for dealing with him when he's in a bad mood. Do you...ah. Do you have something I could bring him? For headache, maybe?"

The best Cate can muster to the joke is a soft 'heh'. She fishes out a bottle of whatever passes for aspirin and shakes out a couple pills. "Here you go. Two for each of you." Since rummaging around in shrapnel undoubtedly hurts. She doles out two more for herself - frowning briefly at the level in the bottle - and downs them with her canteen.

-

"Thanks."

She says the word quietly, pockets the pills -- hers and his, though the way things shake out, she'll probably just tell Tomak they were both for him -- and then sits a moment in silence, regarding the beleaguered medic with eyes containing far more things than she ever seems willing to articulate.

"Rhodes..." Pause. "What you said, before. About the extractions, how you don't think..." Pause. "Do you plan to stay, no matter what? With, ehm..." She gestures loosely over her shoulder, indicating presumably 'the entire compound of people. "To help the civilians?"

-

Cate looks up from re-packing her supplies when Ines calls her name, and her brow creases a the question. She looks disconcerted, and for several moments she's at a loss for words. Then she gives a little headshake. "I think the prevailing sentiment is I'm more likely to get us all killed trying to get them out so..." She hitches a shoulder. "Probably never get to find out." She zips the bag closed and picks her SMG back up again. "I'm glad you're all right. Try and keep that as clean as you can." Then she's getting to her feet in preparation for leaving.

-

Inexplicably, that response earns a slow, slightly surprised smile from Ines that turns into a short, weary laugh. "...ah. Right. Well. If it comes to it, count me in," she says, planting a hand on the ground and carefully getting to her feet to begin clothing herself again, and putting that vest back on. By now the movements are becoming rote, even if the armored garment is too large for her by far. "Tomak too. We'd do that. We'd make the push. Arda said she and Wagner wouldn't want us along, but..." The buckles click and snap together. "Anyway."

She levers the backpack up off of the floor and over her shoulders, leans to retrieve the rifle, and as she hangs the improvised strap over her shoulder nods just once, a little. "I'm glad you're alright, too. Thanks for the help. Let me know if you need help with something I can do."

-

Cate seems confused by the response for a moment. Then she realizes the misunderstanding and clarifies. "I meant the people in the prison camp." And the weak quirk of her lips shows that she's not expecting Ines was volunteering them for that particular bit of insanity. "But thanks." And with that, Cate wanders off.


Tags:

Back to Scenes