Geoff, Aldrich and Cate are caught up in the evacuation of the ranch when the Cylons find it.
Related Scenes: 2238-02-25 - Against All Odds
Scene Number: 1671
The ranch is quiet. Most of the people not on watch are asleep - those who could manage it anyway after the tense events of the day. Those who aren't hold quiet vigil in the darkness. The night air is cold, moreso with the fires and candles doused to reduce their signature. They stirred up the hornet's nest tonight, and while the ranch is a hefty walk from the mine it's not so far by air. Not so far that they're safe if the Cylons decide to scour the area.
As Geoff leaves the common room in search of Lyn - who's off on watch somewhere among one of the ranch outbuildings - the sudden 'pop' of a gunshot off in the woods beyond the ranch house. A few seconds later, there are a few more pops. In an instant, people in the ranch house are beginning to stir, alarm warring with denial.
"Frak," Geoff swears as soon as he hears gunfire, and books it down the stairs to grab his rifle where he dumped it earlier. "Gunfire! Everybody up! Get away from the windows if you're not shooting!"
Curled up on Geoff's bedroll, Aldrich is most definitely not asleep. His head goes up at the first 'pop', and he remains frozen until there are more. He starts clambering to his feet, leaning heavily against the wall. "Geoff? Cate?" He starts moving toward the interior of the ranch, since possibly there is a window nearby.
There's an indistinct shout from the woods - probably one of their sentries trying to pass the word. Some of the other guerrillas jump to their feet, grabbing weapons and moving into defensive positions. Others are still waking up, groggy and confused. Most of those fresh from the mine have a dazed, panicked look about them. One of the elder Picon partisans comes tromping down the steps with his rifle in hand. "Fighters, cover the others. We're gonna have to scatter. Help the POWs." The partisans and their families had a contingency plan in place for just such a circumstance, but there hasn't been time to convey that to the newly-rescued. More pops can be heard from the woods - and then another set of gunshots from the rear of the building. Still somewhat distant, but too close for comfort. One of the outbuildings probably.
"There's wounded upstairs," Geoff reminds the Picon partisan as he heads up that way with a rifle. He goes back toward the room where Aldrich was, and puts a hand on his arm to guide him toward the interior wall. "Sit close to the wall but be ready to run if we have to," he says, then slides open a window to stick the muzzle of his rifle out, waiting to see what he can see.
Aldrich grabs Geoff's arm when he guides the way to the appropriate spot. He doesn't sit down, as instructed, but leans against the wall with a grim expression. "You didn't find Lyn?" he asks, between listening for the sound of more gunshots. "What's happening? They found us?"
Cate has been keeping watch over the wounded. The first gunshot had jolted her out of a thousand yard stare, and now she's peering out the window of their makeshift infirmary room in one of the ranch house's second story bedrooms. SMG in hand, she scans the darkness but doesn't see anything. The Cylons are being crafty - their telltale red 'eye' lights dimmed for the occasion. Without much moonlight, it makes it hard to see the enemies moving in the darkness.
"Cate? What's going on?" Deb's voice was small and afraid.
"They found us," Cate reports grimly, her throat tight. She snags her battered flak vest from the floor and shoves it at her friend. "Put this on."
While Deb does so, Cate slings her medic pack over a shoulder and starts rousing the patients. There's one serious patient who'll need to be moved, and another with a bed leg wound who'll need some help. A third has a frakked up shoulder but is at least walking wounded.
The partisans continue to organize, non-combatants grabbing supplies and preparing for flight. The elder Picon man nods to Geoff. "We'll get them. Max, Baker, let's go buy us some time." They start heading out.
"Didn't have long to look," Geoff replies. "We don't know what's up yet." He kneels by the window, trying to let his eyes pick out anything in the darkness. It's hard to be sure what you're looking at in the dark and from above. "I think I see one," he says.
Aldrich nods a little, frowning. "Are they surrounding us? You could still get out... Escape to the forest." He stays put, propped against the wall. "Make sure the others get out, too?"
"I don't give a frak about running," Geoff says. "The Piconese are evacuating people, they're gonna get the wounded, too. That includes you. When it's time."
Aldrich scrubs a hand over his face. "Maybe I can help, somehow..." He trails off, a doubtful note to his tone of voice, but he stays put and otherwise doesn't argue.
Deb fumbles a little with the unfamiliar buckles of the flak vest, then comes over and grabs Cate's arm - pure panic on her face. "Cate, I can't go back there. You can't let them..."
Cate shakes her head, resting a hand on her friend's shoulder. "Deb, look at me. You're not going back. You're going to get out of here, and you're gonna see Zach and Ben again. All right? I need you to go find Al, okay? He can't see - make sure he gets downstairs all right. I'll meet you there."
Deb nods, still somewhat shellshocked but spurred into action by the mission. And so it is a few seconds later that she comes barging into the room where Geoff and Aldrich are.
"Shut up," Geoff says. "Your job is to frakkin' evacuate with the other wounded. Don't be stupid about it." He takes a deep breath, his aim following that dim red glow. But he wants to wait to let more people sneak out before drawing fire to the house.
Aldrich scowls at that. "Shut up, yourself," he grumbles, but goes silent after that. When Deb bursts into the room, he jumps and stumbles to the side slightly, still leaning against the wall. "Frak!"
The rattle of more gunfire can be heard outside, which does little for Deb's nerves. She jerks a bit with every sound, and her voice quavers. "Aldrich! There you are -" Where else would he be? "Thank the Gods. Cate said we should go downstairs. They're evacuating." Geoff is spared a brief glance, but she's moving closer to Aldrich, oblivious to having startled him.
Geoff jumps a little at the sudden advent of Deb, too. "Take him by the arm," he says, "He can't see good. I think I see one of the tin cans down there so I'm gonna count to like ten and take a shot. Get moving."
Aldrich stays frozen for a moment, but then he reaches over toward Deb. He actually looks a little resigned. "Geoff. Be careful? Remember we have unfinished business..." After the pause to offer that parting request, he allows himself to be helped away by Deb.
"Okay," Deb says breathlessly to Geoff. The exchange between the two marines gets a confused look, but she's too distracted to comment on it. She reaches for Al's arm and starts to lead him downstairs. In the hall, they pass one of the Picons carrying the invalid patient in a fireman's carry towards the staircase. There's a crash and a scream from downstairs at the back of the ranch house, and then a gunshot.
Aldrich makes his way down the stairs, mostly with Deb's help, but he stops and grabs her arm at the crash downstairs. "We have to go back," he warns, taking a step back up the stairs and tugging her with him. As though she couldn't guess that, already. "Get the wounded back. Barricade the door..."
Geoff squeezes his trigger at the red light he thinks he sees, since the attack on the house is already afoot.
Deb screams at the crash, fingers tightening on his arm. She starts backpedaling up the stairs, "But... how are we going to get out?" she asks, on the edge of panic.
Geoff's shot seems to ring true. There's a spark of bullet on metal. It does some damage, but there's a burst of return fire for his trouble. It stitches the wall above the window.
Aldrich doesn't answer the question, since there's no good answer for it. "Come on." He keeps one arm clutching hers and the other against the wall, given Deb's panic. "Help me find something to block the stairs. Furniture or anything."
"Like what?" Deb shrieks. Unhelpful Deb is unhelpful. She looks around, fretfully, clearly at a loss. More gunshots can be heard from the room they just left, and downstairs. Someone shouts something about going out the kitchen door. There's indistinct shouting and some gunshots from outside. Booted feet clomp up the stairs, and then there's Cate's familiar voice, breathless from exertion. "Al! Deb! Come on, we have to go. They're closing in."
"/Anything/!" Aldrich snaps, uncharacteristically harsh. No doubt being in the middle of a firefight without sight is getting to him. Luckily, Cate's voice cuts through the stress, and he squeezes Deb's arm. "Cate! Geoff stayed upstairs to shoot at them. Someone needs to make him go before..."
Cate glances past Al, up the stairs. "Okay we'll get him. Let's get you guys out first. Come on, this way." It's like a little chain - Cate leading Deb, who's in turn leading Al. They reach the downstairs landing in the common room just as the front door splinters open, a hulking Centurion visible in the doorway just a few feet in front of them. The Cylon begins firing at one of the closest partisans who were defending the front. That guy's riddled with bullets, and the lady behind him is wounded as well. Deb screams, ducking back and probably pushing into Aldrich.
The Cylon then swings his gun towards the stairs. Cate lets go of Deb's arm and swings her SMG like a club, knocking the robot's aim off just a hair. It fires, and bullets splinter the wall next to Deb and Al. "Cate!" Deb cries, in fear for her friend.
"Right..." Contrary to popular belief, Aldrich /can/ follow an order sometimes, and he does just that as he follows Deb down the stairs, swiftly but carefully feeling each step with his feet to avoid tumbling down.
He gives a little yelp himself at the sound of the door crashing open and the following hail of bullets. Deb pushing back into him is convenient, because it allows him to grab her and push her down, crouching to make the two of them less of a target (and by coincidence, putting his body between the Cylon and the civilian, at least partly). He doesn't wait to try to convince Deb to lend him her eyes. He pulls her to the side, going by memory along the wall in search of some sort of cover. Anything would be better than nothing, at this point.
The Cylon reaches for Cate's throat, but she ducks and gets her arm in the way. A metallic clamps down on her forearm and twists, making her yell in pain. There are a few seconds of awkward wrestling. The Cylon fires again, narrowly missing Aldrich as he pushes Deb into cover behind a couch. Then Cate jams the barrel of her SMG against the robot's 'jaw' and fires. A short burst of bullets rips into the Cylon's skull with a shower of sparks, and the thing falls over. It pulls Cate with it, and she ends up sprawled on top of it. Deb is ducked down, covering her head with her hands.
Aldrich follows Deb into cover behind the couch. He has to feel the couch and the wall to reassure himself that it's at least big enough to provide the cover they need. Then, he reaches for Deb and pulls her closer again. His own hand rests on the top of her head, as though she needs any encouragement to stay down. While Cate battles the Cylon, a Gemenese litany murmurs from Al's lips.
Al can feel Deb trembling when she leans on him. She's no soldier, and even two years of hardship in Cylon prison camps haven't prepared her for a full-on firefight. As Cate struggles to extricate herself from the dead Cylon's grip, wincing, a loud roar from outside rattles the windows and shakes the ground in the ranch house. Through the window, they (well, maybe not Al) can see a plume of flame rising across the way. Someone gasps, "The fuel storage!" A few seconds later there are secondary explosions but - oddly - they sound like they're coming from other parts of the ranch.
Cate scrambles over towards Deb and Al in a crouch, cradling her injured arm against her chest and holding her SMG with the other. "That's probably Tomak blowing shit up," she says, breathing hard and grimacing in pain. And then there's another sound. Aircraft engines. She looks up in sinking dismay. "Frak frak. We've got to go - they've got air support." She lurches to her feet.
Aldrich does what he can to soothe Deb. After a moment of muttered prayers, he switches back to something that can be understood. "Deb... Listen, we're going to protect you. You just need to hold it together a little longer. I may need your eyes so I can keep you safe, all right?" Then there's an explosion and he flinches.
Cate's return is met with a grim smile that is more tension than anything. "Let's go." He nudges Deb to get her back on her feet.
Deb looked up at Al and nodded through tear-filled eyes. "Okay," she mumbles, sniffling. "Tell me what to do." When Al nudges her, she rises and helps him up. Then she seems to notice her other friend struggling to do the same. "Catey, are you okay?"
"Yeah, sure," Cate tries to be reassuring, but the strain in her voice isn't fooling anyone. But there's nothing Deb can really do about it, so the nurse lets it drop. "Stick close behind me." Cate yells back toward the stairs, "Geoff! Come on - we've gotta get the frak out of here!" Then to the two partisans still in the common room. "We can't hold this place. Follow us." She moves to the edge of the front doorway, peering cautiously around the edge before heading out.
"Follow Cate," Aldrich instructs, taking pains to keep his tone gentle, in spite of the stress of the situation. "Warn me if you see anything, and from what direction. Keep your eye out for cover, in case we need to take shelter suddenly." He hesitates when Deb calls attention to Cate's injury, but he has to take Cate's word for it that she'll survive.
Deb bobs her head almost frantically to Al's instructions, keeping a tight grip on his arm and following after Cate. The scene outside is pure chaos. The plume of fire from Gage's fuel tank sabotage lights up the night. Scattered fighting is taking place around the sprawling ranch - in the outbuildings and in the woods - the handful of Picon partisans doing all they can to give the non-combatants a chance to escape into the woods. Aircraft streak by overhead, invisible in the darkness. It all reminds Cate of the night Triton fell, and the flashback hits her so hard that she sags against the doorframe. The fire, the pain, the terrified flight.
"Cate?" The look on her friend's face scares Deb. "Cate what's wrong? Where do we go?"
Cate stares at her blankly for a second, but the panicked query brings her back to the present. She isn't the helpless civilian this time. She's the soldier - and she's got to lead the two people she holds most dear to safety. "Over there -" she decides, her voice shaky. "Past the barn." She starts that way before she can lose her nerve again, moving quickly across the garden in front of the house.
Aldrich clutches Deb's arm as they flee, instinctively keeping his head down. Running blind isn't the most fun thing in the world, as evidenced by his grim expression, but then again... he also can't see how dire the situation is, either. He stumbles once or twice over uneven ground, but manages to recover without pulling Deb down with him.
The hum of aircraft engines grows louder, ships coming in for a landing. Initially Cate assumes they must be heavy raiders bringing in reinforcements, but when one sets down over near the burning fuel store, she's able to get a good look at it. She stops so suddenly that Deb crashes into her back. "I don't believe it," Cate mumbles.
A loudspeaker booms. "Picon taxi service here! So get your arses moving!" They may recognize Hunter's voice even through the crackle of the speaker.
Another Raptor is setting down near the barn, a few marines hopping out to assist with the evacuation. The Raptors came without full squads - expecting to bring back as many people as they could.
Aldrich crashes into both Deb and Cate, and is so startled by that fact that he's left stumbling and a little dazed-looking. "What?" But it isn't until the voice crackles over the speaker that he has any clue that isn't not a further disaster. "Is that...?"
"Stingray," Cate confirms, letting out a tense, disbelieving chuckle. "It's Stingray. Gods." Her relief is short lived when a burst of gunfire pops off nearby. Cate fires back at the Cylon and yells, "Go! Get in the Raptor." The one by the barn is closest, even though that's not the one with the loudspeaker.
Deb seems more shellshocked than anything, perhaps still having trouble believing that the Raptors are really real. But spurred by Cate's order, she grabs Al's arm again and starts leading him towards the ship. Cate trails along a little behind them, still shooting but rationing her bullets carefully.
Aldrich has his face turned toward the loudspeaker, though instinct takes over and he ducks when there are gunshots nearby. Before he can tell Deb to go, she has already grabbed his arm, leaving him looking against disoriented as they run away from the speaker? But at this point, he must trust Deb and Cate, because he doesn't voice any protest. He just looks grimly determined as he follows Deb's lead and focuses on keeping his footing.
They reach the Raptor, and the ECO is right there. "Up and in - let's go!" he yells, ushering them up into the ship. A few of the Picons are already inside. Deb doesn't let go of Al's arm, and when they reach the Raptor's wing she's quick to try to help him climb up.
Cate's SMG clicks empty, and she doesn't bother trying to reload it. She turns and bolts for the Raptor at an awkward stumbling run, reaching the wing just a split second behind Al and Deb.
Aldrich stumbles on his way in, but one hand on Deb's arm and another on the Raptor save him from a /totally/ embarrassing spill. He does what he can to help Deb up and moves along as much by memory as anything to make room for the people boarding behind him. "Cate!" he calls over his shoulder. "Did Geoff make it out? Did you see? What about Lyn?"
Cate shakes her head to Aldrich, "I can't see them Al. But there's a couple ships..." She tries to sound hopeful, but just ends up sounding worried."
Deb chimes in to help assure him too. "The marines are here - I'm sure they'll be fine."
Cate hesitates on the wing though, scanning the figures milling about on the ground. It's impossible to tell who's who in the darkness.
Aldrich doesn't look encouraged by that. "I shouldn't have left him there." Never mind that Geoff would have probably literally booted him down the stairs if he'd tried that... "Lyn was on watch, I think." He squeezes Deb's arm, probably in appreciation of the sentiment, but that doesn't stop him from looking deeply worried.
"You didn't have a choice," Deb assures him, raising her voice over the hum of the engine as the ship stands ready to take off at a moment's notice.
Cate chews her lip. "I'll make sure he got out." She then says to the ECO, who's wielding the ship's emergency SMG. "I need a clip - I'm empty."
The ECO looks at her like she's crazy. "Get on the damn ship, Doc. We're about to lift off."
Aldrich's brows fly up, and he takes a step in Cate's direction before he even remembers that it might not be a good idea when he can't see where he's going. "Cate, no," he blurts. He pauses there, but looks like he'd very much like to go over and pull her into the Raptor. "I can't lose /all/ of you."
Aldrich may very much like to, but Deb goes a step further, eyes widening when she hears Cate speak. She lets go of Al's arm and slides back down the wing, seizing Cate by the shoulders. "Catey, don't. You're hurt. Let them do their jobs." She fixes her friend with an imploring stare. "You've done enough."
Cate looks between her and Aldrich - agonized in indecision. But when the pilot calls back to the ECO to close the hatch, she reluctantly lets Deb guide her up into the ship. Even though it feels like admitting defeat. She sinks down onto the bench next to Al, Deb clinging to her good arm. The ship is already lifting off as the ECO closes the hatch.