2238-02-16 - Not Much Of A Shot

Cate and Gage argue over how best to help Ines and the sick Picon boy.

Date: 2238-02-16

Location: Picon Ranch

Related Scenes: None

Plot: None

Scene Number: 1650

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The routine of the ranch hasn't quite settled into domesticity, but still -- there are elements of that. Evenings largely consist of cooking whatever meats and other foods have been gathered, and a communal meal. Gage -- wearing his fur coat, bow and arrow, and his rifle -- steps in from outside -- grabbing himself a plate and settling down on the floor, back against the wall, by habit adjusting his rifle so it doesn't stick uncomfortably into any part of him. The Tauran's been largely on night watch, sleeping fitfully through the day, and it kind of shows, though his weariness is harder to determine through the set expression on his features. Maybe the food is just bad, or he's really, really distracted as he eats methodically. There's casual chatter going on, but probably not surprisingly he's not inclined to contribute.

Cate hasn't been sleeping much at all, and it definitely shows. She's mostly been busy tending to the health of their little group, though she does her bit on patrols and watches. When she allows herself some down-time, it's usually spent chatting with Aldrich or playing with the kids. She seems to have a particular affinity for dealing with the little ones. Coming in from one of the other rooms, she spies Gage and heads on over to him. "Hey," she greets softly, settling down on the floor nearby. Her SMG - never far from her - is unslung and set carefully on the ground beside her.

"Rhodes," Gage returns, with a nod. His gaze flickers over her quickly, taking in her state with a little tightening of his mouth, but no comment -- not much point. Instead, he offers his plate towards her -- no utensils for the stew-like contents -- once she's settled down next to him. "Bit tasteless tonight. Even the rabbits are finding it hard eating out there," he says.

Cate shakes her head to the offered plate. "You eat up - need the energy with all that hunting you've been doing. I'll get some. Thanks though." Though they haven't been in danger of starvation or anything, the lean rations have cost the doctor a few pounds. "We may need to head into the city, see if we can turn up some stronger antibiotics." She doesn't say for whom, but her grim, worried expression is probably a good clue.

The Tauron doesn't seem inclined to argue, settling the plate back onto his lip and scooping up a handful with his fingers, chewing with the determined and kind of distracted expression. Her suggestion of heading into the city -- or more than likely the words that follow -- earn a flat, almost scowling expression from Gage, though he's trying hard otherwise. "Aint anything left that hasn't been picked clean, unless there was some off-the-books doctor keeping stashes in a cupboard somewhere." He can't help it -- he just sounds angry -- not at her, but the situation, fingers flexing and turning white where they grips the side of the plate. He exhales sharply, jaw tightening a moment before he glances at the medic. "If I give you -- and Courtois, and the preacher and whoever else wants to try -- a good distraction down by the mines, think you could handle springing the prisoners? Could create something small to blow the doors for you." The change of topic might feel abrupt, even if in his head the two statements are inexorably interlinked.

Cate squints at him a little, shaking her head. "You don't know that. Hospital, clinic, doctor's office, pharmacy - plenty of places to look. Look, Tomak, even if we spring the prisoners - how are we going to get everyone out of here? We're still gonna need the meds."

Gage's mouth tightens, clamping down the automatic protest in favor of her inarguable logic. "If I can get Correa and King to the raider, they can make it fly." Nevermind that Ines didn't seem that certain; he does. "They can bring the cavalry back for the rest of us." It's, undoubtedly, a pipe dream. On some level, there's acknowledgement of that in the way he straightens as if defensively preparing for an argument. He scratches at his beard -- or more accurately, tugs at it. "I guess in the meantime it can't hurt to scavenge out that way." But his tone clearly doesn't hold out much hope.

Cate's jaw tenses in a way that suggests she might have argued with him, but instead she shakes her head. "Thorne and O'Day managed it. Maybe they can too," she grants, a tone that's just as short on hope as his. "But I'm not staking all our hopes on the mythical cavalry. I've been left high and dry by them before." She lets her head drift back against the wall wearily.

It's her latter words that draws the Tauron's gaze, Gage anger mutating into a frown. "You figure they think we're dead by now?" he muses, frown deepening as he tries to calculate. "How long...? Yeah." There's a shift of shoulders that might be a shrug underneath his furred coat. "They ought to learn better by now. Wolves don't frakking give up. We're too frakking stubborn." A brief exhale that might've been the start of an amused huff of breath, but ends up flat instead. After a moment's silence, and chewing -- he says, "I'll ask for some volunteers tomorrow."

Cate is sitting near Gage on the floor of the living room. Some other folks are around in the tail end of the supper rush. There are a couple different quiet conversations going, but the medic and engineer seem to be alone in theirs. And it's not a happy one, judging by their grim expressions. Cate rubs a hand across her tired face. "Even if they haven't given us up for dead, they might not be able to get to us. Or it could just be a numbers game. I mean - you said as much yourself when we first talked about going after those prisoners." Her expression is flat, but the set of her jaw betrays her displeasure at remembering that conversation. She nods to the last though. "I'll go. I know the best places to look inside a hospital."

The Tauran is seated on the floor, his back against the wall, a plate of food resting in his lap. He's wearing his fur coat, and he's carrying the bow and rifle -- so it's a good bet he's stepped in from watch for a quick meal. He's kind of frowning while he chats with Cate, though it's more a general expression than directed at anything in particular. His shoulders shift as she reminds him of what he said before, mouth tightening briefly. "We've got explosives now," he says, like that makes a difference. It does, in many small ways, to him -- though undoubtedly not the whole of the reason for his change of heart. He gives a nod to her, at that last, satisfied. "There's some nasty pack of dogs out that way, if they aint moved on. Gotta be careful. That's how Nate--" he doesn't finish, just glances down at his plate.

Wherever Ines has been and whatever she's been doing, it wasn't indoors and it wasn't sleeping -- though she's been doing increasing amounts of that over the last three days. She's still got her borrowed jacket on when she comes in, hood up, and her backpack clinks when she moves, though the load doesn't look heavy. For a moment she stands just inside, giving various plates of food an uncertain side-eye, as though she can't decide whether she wants to eat or not. Somewhere in there she catches sight of Rhodes and Tomak, and after another brief pause begins to maneuver through the remaining diners that way.

Cate makes a skeptical face when he mentions the explosives. "Yeah, because that makes so much difference," she says dryly. "But anyway, that wasn't my point. The brass likes to play numbers games. How hard you think it would be for them to write off a half-dozen marines rather than risking how many marines and pilots to go get them?" She nods to the warning about the dogs. "You want to come?" she asks, before looking over when Ines approaches. "Hey," she offers in quiet greeting.

"Makes a plenty big difference," Gage can't help but to argue, and for a moment there's a brief flicker of a smile in response to her dryness. There's a nod -- kind of offhanded -- like she should've just assumed his assent somehow. "Gotta have someone to watch your back," is all he says, like it was a given. There's a notable pause when he catches sight of Ines approaching. His gaze flickers over her, taking in her demeanor as much as assessing her overall well being. His plate of stew is more than half empty, but she, too, gets it offered her way when she gets near, wordlessly.

The last few snatches of conversation are audible for Ines as she gets close, though her expression doesn't change until she offers Cate a small, tired, but warm smile, pausing once she's beside them so that she can shrug her backpack off and set it down gently on the floor. "Hey Rhodes. Tomak." She's flush-faced and bright-eyed, but a little on the pale side. At least her leg doesn't seem to give her any trouble when she sinks into a crouch, then settles on her backside just in front of both of them. Once settled, she gives that offered plate another skeptical look, eventually shaking her head once -- something she follows up with another small smile. "Sounds like the usual cheerful dinner conversation."

"Spoken like a true mad bomber," Cate quips in that same dry tone, though there's an undercurrent of fondness that makes it sound more like a tease than a criticism. She nods to his assertion of watching her back, then shifts her attention to watching Ines sit down. "As always," she agrees with the pilot grimly, then says, "How're you feeling."

"Aint my fault if I enjoy what I'm good at," the Tauran marine says, with another of those flickered grins. It fades, however, as he watches Ines settle down, frowning briefly. "You should eat," he mutters to Ines, though he pulls the plate back to him, working on the remainder of the food there. It's clear he's listening sharply when Cate asks her question of Ines, posture tensing.

That question from Cate shouldn't give Ines pause, but it does. She glances at Tomak ever-so-briefly as though looking to gauge something, then returns her attention to the medic. "Good," she says, finally, sniffing and touching the inside of her jacket sleeve beneath her nose. "Pretty good. Just tired. Like everyone." Hand on the top handle of her bag, she drags it over and into her lap with another muffled clanking sound, then drapes her arms over the top and leans into it. "I'll eat in a bit." But she's looking at Cate, curious: "What's he watching your back about?"

"Good to love your work," Cate replies off-hand to Gage, though a shadow crosses her face when she says it. She's too busy squinting at Ines though to follow up on that thread. "Scouting." It's a simple response, calculated in its brevity. A tiny nod acknowledges Ines' assertion that she's fine, but - without asking - the medic reaches out to rest the back of her hand against the pilot's forehead, checking for a fever.

The scowl that springs to Gage's face probably betrays him just as readily as the way he glances sharply at Ines when she answers Cate's query. The fact that the medic reaches out to feel the pilot's forehead appears to mollify him enough that the scowl fades, leaving just the marine's silent, if weighted, tension in its place.

Pilots are supposed to have great reaction times. Ines does not manage to evade the hand to her forehead, though she seems to want to, only to relent partway through her tilt away -- probably because it wouldn't do her any good. She's definitely running a temperature, anyway, though it's low-grade. It's still enough for her to get uncomfortable chills when cool fingertips touch her skin.

Given this is literally Cate's job, Ines moderates her own clouded look of irritation, kept mild and not really directed at the medic herself. She doesn't grouse, at least. "Scouting what?"

Cate either doesn't notice the irritation or chooses to ignore it. Occupational hazard. She lets her hand fall, a mild frown the only indication of her assessment. Rather than answering the question herself, she looks to Gage, eyebrows lifted questioningly.

Setting the plate aside on the floor at his side, Gage is otherwise a tense, focused fixture. The fact that Cate doesn't say anything doesn't help -- and probably contributes to the scowling expression when he answers Ines' question: "Don't matter. You aint going." His tone is flat, brooking no argument.

The silence from Cate slowly begins to drive one of Ines' brows upward, and when Tomak refuses outright to tell her the start of a dubious furrow becomes something else altogether. Surprise, then something more complex than that -- something with a whole lot of subtle things rolled together. "'Don't matter,'" she repeats, flatly. It's not inflected as a question, but it seems to be challenging him on that statement anyway, like: are you really sure that's the line you want to take with me? Poor Cate isn't going to escape, either, because the look Ines shoots her makes it clear she finds the medic's silence evidence of her complicity in -- whatever this maybe-could-be-fight is about.

That wasn't the answer (or lack thereof) Cate was expecting, judging from the way her brow creases. She looks between the two of them, and shakes her head a tiny bit. After rubbing the heel of her palm against her eyebrow for a second to ward off a brewing headache, she sighs and says flatly to Ines, "I'm going into town to look for medical supplies. Antibiotics mostly, but we could find other useful stuff."

Well aware of the pilot's incense, Gage nevertheless remains resolute in his enduring stubbornness. "You need to be resting, not--" his hand waves, vaguely, "Out there." There's a definite tensing of jaw when Cate mentions antibiotics. "Aint much of a shot," he finally adds, barely an audible mutter, shoulders tight as his chin lifts.

The series of reactions that Ines has to the answer Cate does finally give her is clear as day in her expression: intent focus when she realizes someone IS going to tell her what's going on, after all, then arch-browed surprise following the word 'antibiotics,' and a slanted look Tomak's way at the last which is, like a lot of these looks lately, not easy to read. There's a fair amount of silence to follow, and then she just...gets right back up again, and stoops to pick up her bag. "Right. Well. Better let the two of you get back to it, then." She sounds far too casual for this to be anything but outrageous unhappiness about something. Her disinterest in looking at Tomak probably puts the fault squarely on the Tauran's shoulders, but gods only know what has her knickers in a twist. "You should take my rifle if you haven't got ammunition, Rhodes. You can come to get it from the room Nate's been in before you go, whenever that is." And then she's stalking straight back out again.

"Best shot we have," Cate counters, though the flat tone doesn't disagree with him too strenuously. Ines' abrupt departure has the medic blinking. She opens then closes her jaw without actually saying anything. Slanting a confused look to Tomak, she says, "What the hell was that about?"

Gage's expression, too, mutates pretty quickly: from stubborn resolution, to frustration, to resignation as his gaze starts to track Ines' stalking retreat. He's silent for a moment, running a hand over his beard and scowling to himself. "She'd go, if someone doesn't say something. But she's not well -- aint safe for her to, no matter what--" he breaks off, mouth thinning, as he exhales sharply. "You'll convince her of that, right?" he asks Cate. His frustration -- and concern -- are evident under the tired strain of his expression.

A mildly-perplexed look greets Gage's explanation. When he asks if she'll do any convincing, Cate's eyebrows lift. "No matter what what?" she prompts, not answering.

"Nothing," Gage says, with a typical scowl, as if to ward off further inquiry. He collects his plate, and starts to lever himself up off the ground, adjusting his bow and the rifle reflexively as he does so. Though he's standing, he doesn't leave immediately, instead shifting his weight, posture tense, gaze still fixed where Ines departed. "I aint... I don't want her to die, Rhodes." And while he could say that about others, and still mean it, there's something in his tone that gives the statement more weight, more meaning. "If it means taking a chance with the prisoners, with getting a chance at getting her and King away, I'll do it."

Cate watches him, trying to read between the lines. It's hard, given his scowling stoicism. Harder still with a brain fuzzy from sleep deprivation. But in the end she gives him a little headshake. "I don't want her to die either." Then her expression clouds. "I was in her shoes once, y'know. After Hyperion. My friends got me the meds and I pulled through. Then they went off to scout for supplies. Left me behind because I wasn't up for it. I never saw them again." The pain and regret shines through in her voice. "It's her life. Damned if I'm gonna tell her she doesn't have a right to try to help us save it," she says flatly.

At his sides, Gage's fingers clench into balls. Cate's story in particular seems to deepen his scowl even before her final words. <<Damned fool Leonese,>> the harshly muttered Tauran doesn't seem like it's directed at the medic, given he's still glancing kitchen-wards, but it'd be easy to mistake otherwise. "Fine, then. Let her come and die after everything--!" and then he, too, is going the way of Ines -- that is to stay, a haughty retreat -- albeit towards the door outside rather than after the pilot.

Cate offers no response to the storming Tauron, though the exchange does get a few curious looks from some of the other 'residents' of the ranch. Cate just watches him go, rubbing her temple with a sigh. "Frakking hell," she mumbles to herself.


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