Gage, Ines and Cate scout the mine operation / prison camp in hopes of finding an angle to help the prisoners.
Related Scenes: 2238-02-03 - How To Be A Hero
Plot: Operation: Bullhorn
Scene Number: 1639
It took the better part of a day for them to reach the vicinity of the Cylon mining operation. Just as Charlie and the others had described, the ore-mining operation sprawls across a large open 'pit'. There's also a section that seems to be an underground operation - over by the ravine where the prior scouting crew discovered a back door into the tunnels. Several Cylon-worker-operated vehicles tear at the ground, and human prisoners can be seen transferring ore from mine carts into trucks near the underground opening. Underfed, ragged and haunted, it's not a pretty sight through the field glasses. There's a small airfield to the east where two Heavy Raiders are parked.
Since their arrival at the warehouse some days ago, Gage had retreated into his typically taciturn mood. It might be notable that the Tauran is without his pistol -- and that instead, the father of one of the kids at the warehouse now wears the Timber Wolves-issued holster and gun. The marine was even was seen instructing the man correcting his stance, talking about balance, instructing him on center mass. It is, of course, illogical in the purest sense. The weapon is far more dangerous -- and thus more useful -- in the hands of a trained marine than it is in the hands of a barely schooled civilian. It goes against all training. And yet he's done it.
Unsurprisingly, the Tauran is eager to get out and away from the large group of people, questioning those who have seen the prison camp, and in particular the surrounds. It's an excuse -- not just an excuse, but it is one. Now, in his stitched-fur-lined coat, he has rifle slung over one shoulder, and bow and arrow over the other -- just in case they run into anything worth eating on the journey. He seems steady and focused, though the lump on his head hasn't entirely shrunk away yet. He lies flat on the ground, frowning down at the operation below. He's less focused on the prisoners and move on the movements of the cylons and the large machinery. The raiders in particular get a dark eye. "Gotta be trucking that stuff out," he mutters.
Ines has been...around. Presumably, anyway; there aren't that many places in the area surrounding the warehouse that it's worth being, so it stands to reason she's been somewhere nearby. Unusually for the typically social pilot, she's keeping for the most part to herself -- and the only person in whose company she's been reliably found has been Gage. In fact, that's almost exclusively the company she's been found in. One might fairly get the impression that she's almost physically stuck to the Tauran marine's shadow.
See also: the presence of a pilot on a scouting venture.
She was quiet on the way in, and she's quiet now. Chin on forearm, she dips her brows to the murmur in the soldier next to her. "Where? To the factory?"
Cate tries to keep busy as much as possible - taking care of the wounded, keeping other people from getting sick, helping to wrangle the children of the group, and just generally running herself ragged. But her single-minded obsession with the Cylon POWs eventually led to her volunteering to join the scouting mission. She had to see for herself. Jaw clenched tightly, she lowers the binoculars and hands them over to whomever wants a turn next. "Either that one or a different one, if they've shut the first one down," she murmurs.
Gage, for his part, seems perfectly at ease having the pilot on what should be a marine mission. "Aint sure it matters," the marine says, frowning. "The important thing is to find out whether they're trucking in food for the prisoners and other supplies. Things we could use." And then his frown deepens again, and he passes the binoculars to Ines without looking through them first. "Take a look at those raiders. How ready are they to spin up and take off? How long before they could be in the air, if... something happened?" he asks. He rubs at his beard, glancing sidelong at Cate, all too aware of her tense demeanor -- not that he says anything. Just that look, silent. "How many do you count, Rhodes?"
Silently accepting the binoculars, Ines glances sidelong at Gage and then fiddles with the adjustments to get a clear view of everything. She takes all of it in before she says anything -- not just the raiders, but the whole tableau. "Could be immediately scrambled for all I can tell." After a pause, her lips tilt, dissatisfied. She lowers the glasses, then hands them back with one brow quirked, but whatever she's thinking about stays -- for now -- in her head. Expectant, pale eyes slant past Gage to Cate.
"Probably matters to the brass, but frak-all we can do about it with the manpower we've got. Can't go chasing trucks to gods-know-where," Cate muses. "Too many," is the tense answer she gives Gage, her throat bobbing. The frustrated, helpless anger practically radiates off of her. More seriously then, she starts outlining the various guards and patrols she identified. "And that's not counting the worker bots in those trucks, and however many are in the underground mine."
It's not good news, to judge by Gage's grunt. Again, he scratches at his beard, an increasingly unconscious gesture. "So, even if we were to find a supply truck en-route and ambush it -- the raiders would be straight on us. You know, though..." he takes the binoculars and lifts them, scanning the terrain. "It'd make an awful good distraction. If, someone wanted to make a play for the prisoners." He, too, glances at Cate. "Maybe the Piconese could suggest somewhere to dump the trucks under cover -- make the raiders waste their time looking for them. Even still. Aint odds I'd like. If I had some C4--" and if wishes were horses.
"I only asked because, if they're supplying the prisoners, they've got to be doing it from somewhere. But maybe...maybe by air." Ines presses fingertips to the place between her brows, attention lingering on the raiders even without the benefit of the binoculars to look. It's strange for her, seeing them from this perspective, without an interposed canopy.
One slow-blink later, she turns her head again, a soft frown aimed at the combat engineer. "Do Cylon mines not use explosives? Surely they must?"
Cate nods grim agreement with Ines. "They could be flying it in, but since they've already got the trucks coming it makes sense to bring it that way. You can fit more crap on a truck than a Raider." Ines' suggestion about the explosives gets a shrug though. "Getting it is the hard part." She slants Gage a glance. "But I'm sure we could make some homemade stuff."
"How much room do those things have inside them?" Gage asks Ines, like she might know somewhow. "I don't think I'd like to try and ambush those." He gives a brief nod. "I'd imagine it'd be stored somewhere in the middle of the mine -- undoubtedly under guard, since they wouldn't want the prisoners getting hold of it." He glances back at Cate at her suggestion of homemade stuff, giving a snort of rough amusement. "Maybe. Aint seen anything hopeful in the warehouse though."
"About the same as a bus. The raiders." The words homemade stuff get Ines' curious attention, but she doesn't ask. Explosives are not something with which she has any experience. She looks strangely skeptical over the idea that the Cylons are heavily guarding it, though, and obliquely alludes to why in her response: "What would they even do with it if they did get hold of it?" Eyes the the fore again, she rests the point of her chin on the back of her wrist, hands stacked, and exhales a long breath through her nose. "They probably think they have nowhere to go. No one close enough to look for them."
Cate squints a little towards the Raiders, wondering what Gage has in mind. Then after Ines talks about someone getting a hold of it, she says, "Some might just make a run for it on foot." As raggedy as those people look? Calling that 'wishful thinking' would be generous. "Maybe take a truck. If we can just create enough of a diversion, we could at least give some of them a chance to get away." Then she glances back to Gage. "No, the warehouse was pretty picked clean, but that industrial park back where we first attacked has got to have something. Or the ranch they're starting to move to - sure they've got some fertilizer there."
For a moment, Gage's left hand curls into a ball. "If it were me, I would use it to collapse the mines. Delay their operations as much as possible." He lifts the binoculars again, doing another pass, this time with a different eye, before he sets the binoculars down, glancing sidelong at Cate. "I could make plenty big of a distraction." Something that, for once, actually earns a brief smile from the Tauran. "You reckon you could drive one of those things?" Gage asks Ines, nodding towards the raiders.
The expression that Gage's hypothetical gets out of Ines is stronger than just about any expression she's worn since she arrived at the warehouse, and possibly for days before that, too: the slow knit of brows over eyes that seem to want to laugh, the curve of her mouth pressed into a thin line as she tilts her head and angles a look that way that somehow manages to be exasperated and affectionate and entirely unsurprised all at the same time. It's just a brief moment, and she doesn't say anything, but should Cate happen to be looking at her she'll share the look before she wipes it clear, one of her brows slightly arched.
By the time there's a question for her to answer, it's gone entirely, as if it never existed. "Some other pilots told me about Cherry and Farm Boy flying a raider back to Galactica. But...they're not really configured for human pilots. They had to tinker with it." Tilting her head over onto the side, cheek to the back of her hand, she considers the other two. "Stingray- ah. King. Hunter King. He used to be a- he's got some background in that kind of thing? But we would only find out if it was possible once he got a look at it, so...a contingency plan would be good."
Cate does indeed catch Ines' glance, a curious eyebrow arching briefly. But then she turns serious. "Yeah, I was there when they did that. They had time to fiddle with it though. Under pressure in a raid? I dunno." Her brow creases worriedly. Then she purses her lips. "Bet they blow up really well though. Probably got fuel stores up there."
With his gaze focused on the mine below, Gage completely misses Ines' reaction. He's instead, tugging at his beard. "So... plan C then," he sounds gruffly disappointed, but only briefly. "Hate to blow up a backup escape route but... might be the only option," he agrees. "And not even a guaranteed one. Only gives the prisoners a shot at escaping, plus whatever cover we can provide." His gaze turns, steadying on Cate as he says it, as if trying to judge by her body language how that plans sits with the medic. "Whose ranking, with Scott out of it?"
"They do. ...Blow up really well, when they're full of fuel." The words are murmured, and a little bit wistful in spite of the fact that Ines is only whispering. "Depending on how close the other end of this operation is, maybe well enough to draw attention." Silent for two, three beats, then: "Maybe we should go out to the ranch and take stock before making any firm plans."
"Don't think they're much of an escape route as-is. And if any of the prisoners do get out, it'll be easier for the Toasters to chase them down with those Raiders," Cate points out. Her body language hasn't changed, really - but the desperation of wanting to do something to help those people is palpable. She doesn't take her eyes off of the mine for several seconds before finally registering Gage's question. "Frak rank," she says, nose wrinkling. "We're on our own out here, and we've got the local partisans too."
Gage is demonstrably poor at sitting back, or indeed, taking stock for long. Still, with a last glance at the mine, and he gives a gruff sort of noise of agreement with Ines, before he begins to edge down and back, away from the edge where they might be spotted. His expression, when Cate mentions the locals, is dubious at best. "They actually any good?" He hasn't exactly gone out of his way to spend time with many of them.
It's not until they're about to retreat from their ultimate objective that Ines allows herself to look at the people caught there, imprisoned and perhaps to their knowledge alone, unconsidered. It's not something she lets herself think about for long: she has more difficulty sliding backward on her stomach given the condition of various pieces of her, but she manages, with care.
"If our plan's going to be blowing shit up, and it sounds like it is," she offers, as always that poncy accent of hers making a bizarre thing of standard profanity, "There's really only one of us who knows what the frak he's doing. So congratulations on your blowing-shit-up seniority, Tomak."
Cate crawls stiffly back down over the ridge, smothering a wince as she gets up. Laying on your stomach for a prolonged period is just not very comfortable on cracked ribs. But she doesn't complain and instead just nods to Ines. "I know a little but he's definitely the expert there." As for Gage's comment, she slants him a look. "They've managed to keep thirty people alive behind enemy lines for two-and-a-half years and still find time to strike back," she points out mildly. Apparently that's good enough for her. "We should be heading back if we're going to make it back before dark."
The Tauran gives a rough grunt as he glances at Ines. "Always had seniority over that, even when outranked," Gage tells her with a bland sort of humor. His brows do go up at the two-and-a-half years thing -- apparently unaware of that. "Well, that counts for something," he concedes, before nodding to her suggestion, adjusting the rifle strap and the bow over his fur coat once they get far enough back to stand again.
"Ah?" That little sound is Ines perking a brow at Cate, at the revelation she's got training on explosives. "Wish I knew how you managed that." Once she can stand, she does. Her leg's not nearly so stiff as it was; she doesn't need to brace herself on anything, anymore -- which leaves her with hands free to reach for the rifle she continues to tote around, and shoot Gage a smirk as they begin to descend. "We'll see soon enough, sounds like." It doesn't sound like a challenge, really, or like doubt.
It sounds like hope.