2238-02-03 - Acceptable Risks

Aldrich's plan for the prisoners touches on one of Cate's biggest fears.

Date: 2238-02-03

Location: Picon

Related Scenes: None

Plot: None

Scene Number: 1640

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Cate had gone out yesterday with Gage and Ines to scout the mining operation / prisoner camp. The trip took most of the day and they weren't back until late. But at least they got back in one piece - physically anyway. Emotionally, it's been clear that Cate's starting to fray around the edges. Right now she's found a quiet little nook in one of the smaller rooms, a half-broken crate serving as a desk of sorts as she sits on the floor. A few papers are laid out on top of it. She had dozed off, pen still in hand. But whether it's the sound of the door or just an unfortunately-timed bad dream, she's jerking her head up and blinking disorientedly.

It could be the sound of the door that startled Cate awake... Aldrich tries to be quiet when he peeks in, but there's only so quiet a person can be. He winces when she jerks up, but continues in. He's still limping and still trying not to show it. "Hey... Sorry, I didn't mean to wake you up. I just wanted to check on you."

Cate had instinctively started reaching for her SMG, never far from her hand, but Aldrich's familiar face grounds her. She relaxes, the hand dropping back to her side. "Hey," she says, rubbing her face. "It's okay, I didn't mean to fall asleep anyway." She notices the limp, much as he tries to cover it. "Leg still sore huh. You want some more (space)aspirin?"

"No. Better save it for someone who actually needs it," he recommends, although he does come over to claim a seat near her. "How are you doing?" he asks, watching her with his unique brand of mixed compassion and worry.

Cate nods slightly, not arguing with him about the meds since they are starting to run low. "If we're going to be here much longer we should try to scavenge for some more. Maybe that ranch they found might have something in the medicine cabinet." The fact that she doesn't immediately say how fine she is is probably answer enough, but Cate just shrugs, frowning. "Tomak thinks he might be able to blow up the two Raiders they've got there." She taps a spot on one of the pieces of paper. "Cause a distraction, maybe give at least some of them a chance to get away."

Aldrich frowns at that, looking down at the paper. "Isn't Tomak the one who wanted to use grenades when they attacked our ship...?" he remarks, dryly, but he looks at the paper anyway. "Still. I guess any plan is better than no plan. We can't just leave those people there."

"Was he?" Cate shakes her head, not really remembering. "All the missions sorta blend together at this point." She lets her head lean back against the wall, a soft sigh escaping her lips. "I mean, he's a combat engineer so I guess it makes sense he'd like to blow stuff up." His latter comment causes Cate's frown to deepen. "They want to, y'know. Wagner, Tomak, even Correa I think. 'Too risky'." She says the phrase like they're four-letter words.

Aldrich nods a little, but he's frowning. "They're probably right," he says, slowly. "If they're only using their brains. But in a broader sense, they're very wrong. Sometimes the logical thing and the human thing are not the same." He smiles, without humor. "Perhaps in this case, stealth and speed might be a better strategy?"

Cate looks over sharply at first when Aldrich says they might be right, but her expression softens at the rest. She nods. "Some things are worth the risk," she agrees solemnly. "And even logically - we're only risking ourselves. I don't think we should involve the locals. They need to keep protecting these people here." She rubs her face again and then nods to his latter point. "I think we should do that yeah, but we won't be able to get a bunch of people out without anyone noticing. Hence the diversion."

Aldrich nods at that. "It makes sense..." He looks back to Cate, one brow lifting. "So what do the others think about it? Do you think they'll come around, or do you think they'll refuse?"

Cate shakes her head, her expression glum. "I don't know. I mean - Tomak's talking about blowing shit up now so maybe he changed his mind? But I still think he thinks it's a fool's errand. Wagner said she wanted no part of it before she and Davion went to try and get help. I haven't talked to Lyn." Her brow creases. "I don't care whether it makes sense or not. I can't just leave them there without at least trying. I can't live with that again."

"I don't know if I want you to tell Lyn," Aldrich admits, quietly. He leans toward Cate, resting his weight slightly on the crate as he looks at the paper. "But you do realize that I won't let you try anything alone, right? If the others want to leave it, maybe it will be just you and me. But you won't be alone."

Cate offers him a sad half-smile. "I wouldn't try to do anything on my own. Or with just you, either. I told you - I don't have a death wish. And I'm sure as hell not dragging you along on a suicide mission. Lyn would kill us both." Except they'd already be dead. Technicalities. The smile fades, and Cate sinks back against the wall again. "If I were gonna try a crazy one-girl rescue mission, I would've done it at Hyperion. Maybe I should've." Her expression grows distant.

Aldrich's brow furrows and he looks away. "A lot of people's lives would be changed for the worse if you had," he points out, quietly. "So let's focus on something productive. What /are/ our options here?"

Cate's mouth quirks up a tiny bit. "I don't know about lots, but thanks." She gives him a friendly, gentle nudge with her arm. Then she shrugs. "There's a back door here, but it's blocked and we don't know where it goes. Wagner thought it'd take explosives to blow open, which would probably frak up any chance of surprise we had. But if we could dig through it, maybe..." She leans forward, touching another part of the map. "It seems like this is the loading area, and there were prisoners there the whole time we were watching. If we could take out the guards and get them away somehow." She shakes her head. "I dunno. I'm no good at planning this stuff."

"Well, I'm no strategist. But it seems to me that our biggest problem lately is that they are catching wise to all of our strategy," Aldrich points out, mildly. "Perhaps the trick could be to do something completely unexpected and get them out while they're adjusting their strategy to compensate?"

"Yeah, me either. And, well, I think attacking a big operation with just a couple of people is probably not something they'll expect - though I'm not sure how well that really helps us." Cate smirks weakly. "Do you have any ideas?"

Aldrich chuckles a little at that, and shakes his head. "I don't suppose we ought to count on an act of the gods..." He looks at the paper, staring at it thoughtfully. "What's our chance of faking them out and convincing them there's a larger group of us somewhere? Maybe think that they're about to be attacked?"

Cate hehs softly. "Count on? Probably not. But I wouldn't complain." She frowns thoughtfully at his suggestion. "I dunno. Maybe if we make enough noise. Trick them into thinking there are more of us than there are. If we hit them from multiple angles it would at least scatter their response."

Aldrich nods a little, still looking at the map. "What drives these machines?" he wonders, with a sigh. "They want to kill us, yes, but why do they kill some of us and keep prisoners of others? Why are these people still alive?"

Cate shakes her head, frowning with that distant look creeping in again. "Well we know why some - for human shields, for slave labor, for guinea pigs." A soft shudder runs through the doctor's body at the last comment. "Is there another reason - suppose that's the million cubit question." Her brow creases. "We all wondered why they kept the people in the arena in Hyperion. I mean - they wiped out the whole damn city. Why keep a few thousand? Then they just... killed them all anyway." Her voice is strained. "Frakking monsters."

Aldrich nods a little, thoughtfully. "I guess what I mean is... Do we know why they did /this/ time? What would trigger them to take someone a prisoner instead of just killing them outright?" he wonders, brow going up. "I mean. It would be one way to get /in/..."

Cate clearly isn't following at first - perhaps chock it up to being sleep deprived. But when Aldrich finishes his thought, she recoils visibly, paling. "No," she says, shaking her head. "Hell no. We don't even know if we can get anyone out. Going in there..."

Aldrich shakes his head, raising an eyebrow. "I'm not saying we /should/. Just... Listen, think of it as an intellectual exercise. What if we could get in there? Could we smuggle in something that would help us get them out? Would it allow us to organize the prisoners to take advantage of a distraction the others could create? Let's think it through before we dismiss it out of hand."

Cate shakes her head again. The motion is small but jerky. "No. No, we don't know what they'd do to us." She puts her pen down - a slight tremor visible in that hand before she clenches it into a fist and crosses her arms. "We'll find another way."

Aldrich sighs and reaches over to put his hand on Cate's upper arm, giving it a slight squeeze. "Not /us/, Cate. Do you think I'd suggest something like this and let someone else do it?" He gives a crooked little smile. "And as far as I'm concerned... We don't know what they'll do to the prisoners, either."

The squeeze does little to ease the terrified look on Cate's face. If anything, it intensifies at the thought of Aldrich doing it himself. "Al, no, you can't. You can't do that to Lyn - to me - please. You don't understand..." She just shakes her head, too overcome to continue.

Aldrich blinks, rapidly. "Cate..." He stops, and pulls his hand back with a little sigh. "I'm not going to stand back and let other people take all the risks." He smiles, but it has a troubled cast to it. "We don't have to talk about it anymore. It's obviously upsetting you."

"It's not a risk anybody should take!" Cate snaps back, more sharply than she intended. Regret at the harshness of the words flashes in her face for a second before she buries it in her hands. The gesture is over quickly, and then Cate's hands fall again. Her expression is stricken. "Al, what if we can't get you out? You've seen what those bastards do to their prisoners."

Aldrich flinches at the snap, and looks away. "Don't get me wrong, I want there to be a solid plan if we do something like that," he says, gently. He sounds slightly wounded. "But do you think I joined the military so that I could be more worried about my own safety than for those in need? If it goes wrong, that's in the gods' hands... But everything you're worried about for me? That's definitely what's going to happen to them if we don't try."

Cate shakes her head, leaning back against the wall with her shoulders slumped. "I'm not saying we shouldn't try, Al. I'm the one who's been pushing for us to do something, remember? I'm just saying we should try something else. Anything else." She rubs her forehead.

Aldrich lifts a shoulder, still looking vaguely wounded. "Yes, well. I mentioned I'm no good at strategy. So what's a better plan?" He falls silent, waiting for her answer without quite looking at her.

Cate sees that wounded look and frowns guility. "I don't know," she admits. She lets out a slow sigh. "Al, I'm not saying it's a terrible idea, strategically." There's a long pause, and when she speaks again her voice is quiet and hollow. "Back in Hyperion, when we were first trapped in the arena - I got picked to join the group that was getting out to Triton. I tried to get my friend Deb to go, but she thought it was too dangerous. So she stayed. We were going to get help and come back for them, but..." Her throat bobs. "There were too many Cylons, and the brass decided we needed to keep every man we had to defend Triton. So we just left them there. She was like a sister to me, Al, and I left her there. I can't do that again."

Aldrich swipes a hand over his face. "Cate... Do you think I don't have my own sins to atone for?" He leans toward her, his voice taking on a sense of urgency, "We /need/ to do whatever it takes to help these people. Precisely because there were times when we couldn't. Maybe this isn't the best strategy, and I'm happy to hear other ideas. But if no one has a better idea? I think we should try it."

Now it's Cate's turn to look wounded. Her lips draw together, and she just gives a little headshake. "You do what you have to do then." It doesn't sound angry, just - defeated.

Aldrich frowns and looks toward the paper, more as a distraction than out of a genuine interest. "I'm sorry. I wish I knew what was the right thing to say."

"Yeah," Cate agrees softly. After a beat, she says, "I just don't want anything to happen to you, Al. Maybe I'm just selfish, but..." She doesn't finish that sentence, but instead just drags a hand across her eyes.

After a moment, Aldrich shifts to sit a little closer, and tentatively puts an arm around Cate's shoulder. "Well, I don't want anything to happen to me, either." It's a weak joke, but his faint smile fades quickly. "I may be a chaplain, but I'm also a soldier. There will always be danger. It comes with the territory. Just as it does for you."

"I know," Cate says softly. "But there's a difference between the risks we take in battle and walking into the mouth of the lion." She leans into his shoulder, and he can probably feel a slight tremble. "I don't want you to go alone, but...I can't do it." It's an ashamed murmur. "Not again."

"We all have things we can't do," Aldrich replies, gently. "And even if you could, I wouldn't want you to. Our numbers are too thin as it is. There wouldn't be anything you could do from in there if things went bad, so we'd just lose two people instead of one." But then he smiles, tightly, "But again... Maybe we don't even try this plan. We need to talk to the others. It won't work if they won't go along, and maybe someone has a better idea."

Cate just bobs her head slightly. Thinking of the others makes her realize. "Y'know, Lyn is probably going to club you over the head and tie you up when she hears your plan." There's a beat, then she says, "Would you forgive me if I helped?" It's a strained joke. Well, mostly a joke.

Aldrich chuckles weakly. "She knows I'm a soldier. She'll forgive me." Or so he hopes. He releases her shoulders with a squeeze, and sighs. "Anyway, it's not a plan yet. It's just an idea. We need to be fairly certain what triggers them to take prisoners instead of killing people. And we need everyone to be on board, or there's no point trying it."

A soft mmmm acknowledges Al's statement about Lyn without actually agreeing. Then Cate slants him a perplexed look. "How do you plan on being certain about that? We know that they do, sometimes, but we don't know exactly why or when."

"We can't be /certain/. But we can talk to the locals about their behavior. Try to figure out if there's a pattern," Al points out. "It probably changes depending on what they want people for anyway."

Cate's head bobs again. "Yeah I suppose that's true," she agrees, without much enthusiasm. She tries to come up with a neutral topic - anything else to talk about. But her brain stays stuck on the plan like a dog with a bone, and she just lapses into a strained silence.

Aldrich sighs and pats Cate's shoulder. "I'm going to get you something to eat. Then, I want you to try to get some sleep. Consider it a doctor's order if it makes you feel better." He smiles faintly at the mild attempt at humor. Then he climbs to his feet to do just that.


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