Immediately after Ines and Hunter land at Northholt, Stirling gives Ines an informal debriefing in the medbay. Ines begs for a rescue mission to be mounted, makes an outlandish request, and Stirling surprises the hell out of everyone.
Related Scenes: 2238-02-25 - Against All Odds
Scene Number: 1667
It's fifteen minutes since the cylon aircraft limped into a landing at Northholt, following some extremely tense moments of maneuvering in patterns recognizable to individuals monitoring air traffic, flashing various lights wired up by Hunter for the purpose, and in various other ways striving to make it clear that the heavy raider wasn't being piloted by a cylon at all -- or at least, if it was, it was being piloted by the strangest cylon in existence, with a working and inside knowledge of Timber Wolf flight test patterns and a bizarre penchant for sematophore code.
She and Hunter King were the occupants, both somewhat worse for the wear: Ines was missing for over a month, Hunter slightly less than that amount of time, and both have been freshly injured in the efforts to escape. Probably unsurprisingly, neither seemed especially interested in worrying about that; both of them were fixated on getting help back to the others -- because there are others. Upwards of thirty, and on top of that however many prisoners might be freed from the mine during a strike that-
Somewhere in the torrent of words and arguments and near-flailing insistence on scrambling raptors now now now, someone manages to get Ines Correa into the medbay. She's there now, having shreds of filthy clothing literally cut off her -- both she and King have certainly smelled better -- but she looks furious. This is not where she wants to be.
Stirling wasn't on CAP at the time the raider turned up, and it took some time for someone to round her up and direct her over to sickbay. She comes into the exam room where Ines is being treated, wearing rumpled duty greens. "I almost didn't believe it," she says in lieu of greeting, an astonished smile on her face. "Thank the Gods." She comes closer, and - assuming no visible injuries to Ines' hand - extends her own for a hearty handshake.
Ines snaps her head up and around, looking toward the source of that familiar voice. She slides up and off of the exam table she's been corralled into finally sitting on, earning a flat look and long-suffering frown from the two individuals trying to wrangle her into some semblance of a treatable state.
"Whisper, please, we've got to-"
And Stirling is holding out a hand to be shaken, a gesture that stalls the pilot's urgent words, leaves her looking down at it with something like bewilderment, as though she'd never had someone try to shake her hand before. She puts her (dirty!) hand into Stirling's and shakes it, but the gesture is clearly on autopilot as she gathers her thoughts again. "I- it's weird for me too," she manages, and the words are not quite adequate to the sentiment. Everything feels beyond surreal: she keeps expecting to blink and wake up from a fever dream at the ranch.
Stirling goes beyond the regular handshake into the clasp-the-forearm-because-I-don't-know-you-well-enough-to-hug-you clap of enthusiasm. After patting the arm once, she releases the pilot's arm and tries to guide her back into the bed. "Sit down, you look like you're about to fall over." Ines' feverish stare was not lost on Whisper. Concerned eyes lock onto the younger pilot. "They said it was you and Stingray. Anyone else?"
"I'm fine," Ines says, iron in the words, and for just a moment she sounds so much like the obstinate, stubborn ass of a Tauran she's been spending the last month with that it gives her pause, a little flutter of something sick in her stomach that has nothing to do with her infection, and she can't afford to consider too closely. "Just Stingray and I on the raider, but there are- gods. More than thirty others at a ranch just outside of one of the abandoned towns near the factory. Marines, Wolves, but also families. Guerrilla fighters. And the marines were going to use the distraction we created to free prisoners from the work camp at this mine where we got the raider in the first place, so- so who knows how many more? It's just a matter of time until the cylons go looking to find them, we've got to get back there to get them first. If they have to leave the ranch- ah!"
One of the doctors manages to interrupt this veritable torrent of words by inserting an IV into the back of Correa's hand. She wasn't expecting it and it's enough to jostle her out of her rapid-fire report, but it can't hold her attention for long. Already, she's angling her eyes back up to Stirling determinedly.
"You're clearly not fine, Kestrel, now sit there and let the medics do their job," Stirling says, a firm but kind tone that doesn't brook argument. She listens attentively to the rapid-fire report, brow furrowing. When there's a break from the IV, Stirling says, "All right. You wait here - I'll go get a map and you can show us where this ranch and work camp are." The Major doesn't really wait for a response, giving the doctor in attendance a questioning 'you go this?' look before departing at a brisk pace.
A month out in the great nowhere is apparently long enough to cause a few service disruptions in Correa's willingness to obey orders unreservedly. She stands for a long moment, a tempest in a bottle, before she finds it in herself to ball her hands into fists and grudgingly half-sit on the table's edge again. The longer she sits there, the more severely her brows dagger down, coiled energy fueled by desperation braiding tension through her body like steel cables.
It gives her time to think, which is precisely the opposite of what she wants or needs to be doing. By the time Stirling's back Ines has a hand over her closed eyes, lips pressed into a line so tight they're practically bloodless.
On the upshot, her rigid stillness has allowed for a lot of progress in getting her things off of her so that she can be evaluated. A couple of graze injuries, a few soon-to-be-bruises where the vest she was wearing got pummeled with rounds, a bucket of fresh scars, but no serious flesh wounds.
The fever, though...
"If you give King and I a raptor, we'll go in. Nobody else needs to take the risks," is how she greets the Major upon Stirling's return.
It gets another flat look from the doctor.
Stirling returns as fast as could be expected, a tablet computer in her hand. Hearing Ines' request, and seeing that look from the doctor, her eyebrows go up slightly. "First things first," she says, setting the tablet down on the bedrail beside Ines. "What can you tell me about the area, where our people are." A few quick strokes with her finger, and the tablet brings up a map centered around the area of the original ill-fated mission.
That the response is not a 'no' goes a long way toward keeping Ines from digging her heels in and making A Whole Thing of the issue before the details are hashed out -- probably working as intended. She'd usually be canny enough to suspect that. It probably says something that she does not.
Still, whatever faculties may have been compromised by weariness, malnourishment, illness, injury, or any other unseen hurts -- and those are legion -- she manages to give the fundamentals of the situation without any difficulty. A rough estimate of the location of the mine based on their two trips out there, the places they had patrols posted, a list of the Wolves present and the most grievous injuries and illnesses in the persons to be rescued. She points out the warehouse where they were all holed up previously. It's basic, but thorough.
"If they're discovered they'll have to move, and probably split up, too. This is the best chance to get the most people out."
Stirling listens to it all intently, nodding in a few places and asking a few clarifying questions here and there. She nods seriously at the end. "Certainly sounds like they're busy stirring up the hornets. So our people were still at this mine area when you left. And that was..." She glances at her watch, mentally doing the time difference. "Whatever happened there is probably long over by now."
Long over, one way or another.
The thought sends a sick lance of injury spearing through her chest, like a cramping contraction of muscle around a piece of broken glass. "Please, Whisper." Her stubborn determination flickers like a bulb on a faulty circuit, exposing the raw things that reside beneath. Desperation, more than anything; it dominates things far more subtle, this overtone of begging. She looks, and sounds, for all the world as though she expects to meet with resistance to even the idea of a rescue, let alone any possibility of her personal participation. "Please. I'll go. I'm ready to go. I'm sure King would go, too." She's not sure, actually; she's guessing. It's an educated guess, but nevertheless, she volunteers him as though it were her right to do that.
Stirling glances sidelong up at Ines as she hunches over the map, her lips pressing together.
As if reading the thoughts going through her head, the doctor in the corner looked up from his chart to chime in with a disapproving look, "Major, the Lieutenant is in no condition..." He didn't get through the sentence before Stirling's pointed stare stopped him.
"Is she putting herself in danger if she flies?" Stirling asks evenly.
"She's malnourished, feverish..."
"That's not what I asked, Doctor."
The doctor glances between the two pilots, his frown deepening, then shakes his head. "I don't think her condition will worsen during the mission. But I really can't advise..."
"Thank you, Doctor." Stirling says, then glances to Ines. "Let the doctors buff you up - get some fluids in you, some meds. I need to talk to the Colonel and start putting together a rescue mission."
A bolt of the purest hope shines like a lightning strike in Ines' face when Stirling asks that question of the doctor. It's a far more naked expression than she typically wears, which owes itself to any number of things, but the precipitous intensity of it portends a terrible, crushing defeat if that hope is foiled. And it nearly is, or feels that way to Ines, who looks wide-eyed at the doctor's best efforts to refute her soundness for service.
...and then Stirling decides, gives orders, and Ines stares slack-jawed, suddenly dizzy with relief. Her eyes and nose prick with heat and tingles, but she fights that off, along with the horribly unwashed hug the Major very nearly condemns herself to. She'll never know how close she came to being bodily assaulted by a filthy, overjoyed pilot. "Thank you. Thank you so much. I will. I'll be ready." The words come out rough, squeaked through a whisper.
Stirling may not know about the narrowly-averted hug, but she picks up enough on Ines' emotions to reach out to give the younger woman's shoulder a little squeeze if she allows. "We'll get them," she says solemnly. Then she's heading off at a brisk pace.