AWD #171: Pallas Revisited
Pallas Revisited
Summary: …and things aren't going so well this time around.
Date: 26/06/2013 (OOC Date)
Related Logs: None
Ygraine Bennett 
Helios Beta - Pallas is the home to several small outposts and a Colonial Armed Forces military research station. The station has had it's landing pads hit hard and destroyed by the Cylon invasion force.
June 26, 2005

Nothing out of the ordinary with the preparation, a couple of cases of general survival supplies loaded onto the raptor after it was prepped for the round trip, and off things go! It still takes three good jumps to make it back to Helios Beta, and perhaps its a good thing that right now, Pallas is fairly far away from Leonis and Troy and the basestars either of those probably have in close proximity. So when the last jump is completed, a good distance away, the little ball of Pallas hangs there in the distance, with the running lights of the military research outpost still faintly blinking in a little cluster on the surface. At this PARTICULAR moment, DRADIS is clear. Troy and Leonis are a little too far away to register any contacts that might be there.

"…and jump completed. No contacts." Ygraine says from her spot at the ECO's console. There's a pause, as she admits, "Butch…they were gettin' close t'bad when we talked to 'em the first time. It can't be better, only worse. And betcha bottom cubit they want to know where the Hades we've been."

"I am certain they will have a fair number of questions for us," is Bennett's even-keeled reply, once the pair's raptor slips out of FTL travel and begins its hurtling descent toward Pallas' gravity well. Her eyes flick up to DRADIS out of habit, then back to the unassuming sphere in the middle-left of her windscreen. "You were present on the last reconnaissance, Vashti, correct?"

"Yeah, it was me and Squire and Buzzkill." The last name is spoken with a certain dismissal. "Ya want me t'do th'shout out?"

As the little ball slowly grows closer, the cluster of running lights expands to define the series of small atmosphere domes that surround a central, larger complex. Apparently the site was built with two landing pads on either side of the central dome, both of which have been visibly trashed into rubble. Wireless remains silent, as does DRADIS. If someone sees the Raptor coming, they sure aren't saying anything or giving any sign.

"Please." Though she needn't, Bennett turns her head just slightly so as to catch Ygraine's eye in the reflection of her helmet. Her lips curve into a brief smile. "Perhaps a familiar face might be an asset here. Is there anything else I should know, that wasn't in the official report?" Her right hand closes over the flight yoke while the right is busy with the console. As an aside, "Initiate sensor sweep and prep for data capture."

"It's pretty much all laid out." Ygraine says, toggling the com. "Pallas, this is Raptor Echo Sierra Victor Two, do you copy? Repeat, this is Raptor Echo Sierra Victor Two. Anybody home?"

As the raptor continues to close distance, only silence greets the initial hail across the wireless. From a visual standpoint, none of the domes are showing signs of life, but then Ygraine might remember that they didn't last time, either. In fact, not much of anything seems to have changed, save that one of the landing pads seems to be a little more clear of debris than it was last time, like someone's been making an effort to clear the wreckage. Hasn't done a very good job, but it is noticable.

Bennett's brow furrows slightly when they are greeted with silence from the installation. "Hmm," she murmurs, voice soft and tinny over the radio. "Let's try switching frequencies." The thrum of the raptor's maneuvering thrusters can be felt now as gravity begins to exert its pull on them.

Ygraine nods, though of course the nod can't be heard. But the wireless sings out with a whiny shriek as Ygraine switches frequencies and tries again. "There's at least one landing space cleared." she observes before singing out. "Raptor Echo Sierra Victor Two to Pallas Dome. Sing out, Pallas. We're listening."

There's just enough of a pause that the two might think they're getting ignored again, or there's noone to answer at all, but then maybe just before Ygraine reaches to change the frequency again, there's an unsure female voice, "Repeat that last again…please?" The transmission is weak in strength, but Yggy's instruments will indicate it is indeed coming from the direction of the research facility.

Bennett blows a tense breath out her nose that she didn't know she was holding, and her gloved hand relaxes its grip fractionally on the flight yoke. "Course is laid in for Genevieve Station, heading zero niner zero," she informs Ygraine, and the raptor pitches smoothly to port as they begin their descent.

As if she can somehow bolster the signal by talking louder, Ygraine speaks into the mic once more. "Genevieve Station, this is Raptor Echo Sierra Victor Two, Milkshake speaking. I was on original contact at the domes. We have a drop for you. And news." Hitting the mute, she asks of Butch, "Should we ask about landing?"

"Let's see if they have a recommendation," Butch agrees, gaze flicking to the HUD positioned just above the windscreen, where she is analysing elevation and surface composition readouts. "If not, I think we can put down.. over here." Her finger taps the glass.

There's another long pause as the raptor descends closer, but this time the voice is replaced by an older-sounding female, who clears her throat on the mic before speaking, "Raptor Echo Sierra Victor Two, this is, ah, Station Actual. Can you tell us what ship you are from?" There's the faint sound of someone else speaking under her voice, then both are cut off when the mic is shut off. Then just as quickly, the older voice is back again, "What news do you have for us?"

"Copy that, Station Actual. We've got a drop for you. And we need to talk ex-fil." There's a pause, and Milkshake adds, "I'm sorry it took so long. Can you give us a population number?" She's certain it's smaller than last time."

Again, another long pause. To Bennett's point of view, there's plenty of good clear space for a Raptor…it just wouldn't be able to handle something big like a liner or cargo ship. The landing pads are both totalled, just the northern one seems to have had the rubble mostly cleared from it. The Ferrocrete is still broken and chewed up and not suitable for cargo landings, but she could put the raptor down on it with a little bouncing.

The same voice returns a few seconds later, "Victor Two, we're…are you serious? The last we heard from anyone else was…February. Raiders still patrol the system. We thought the war was over." Again another voice murmuring in the background, and she startles, "Oh, I..I don't know, actually. Maybe twelve hundred? We don't really count…anymore."

"Station actual, we are." Ygraine would pinch her nose. "Can you tell us anything about your continued monitoring from the enemy? How often they do fly-overs? Is there any chance you can assist in recovering your landing pads for mass ex-fil?"

Bennett twists around slightly in her seat, just enough for Ygraine to catch the movement of her lips when she mouths the word "weird" and scrunches up her brow a little. "We'll set down on pad 1A," she informs Ygraine, referring to the partly-cleared, northernmost tarmac. "See if they're interested in a face to face conversation off the airwaves." They are slipping through atmosphere now, the raptor brought in on a gradual approach vector to the aforementioned landing pad somewhere beneath the clouds.

"We catch them in the area every three or four days. A wing of raiders…sometimes two, sometimes four or six. They came through the day before, so maybe not see them again until tomorrow. We keep track so noone gets caught outside when they come through. Like to make sure they think we're dead already." Boy, doesn't she sound so chipper? Another pause, and she comes back, "Are you landing?" She sounds rather incredulous.

Ygraine considers a moment. "We can. You've got a partial area cleared, and the raptor can make the fit. Do you have anyone who can meet us, Station Actual?" Again she hits the mute button. "We don't know they haven't been jacked, but if they are, we're going to need to make a quick retreat." She toggles the com again. "We've got a relief crate with us as well. Not enough to feed twelve hundred…but we can bolster some of your people."

Bennett flips out her datapad and jots something down while their contact on the surface divulges a little about the raiders' flyby habits. Ygraine's off-the-record remark earns a small nod from the Captain. "Agreed. Sidearms with us. Standard protocol. Let's keep the bus warm, just in case." They finally burst through the lowest layer of cumulus, and the pilot begins visually scanning for the landing pad.

"You should…someone can meet you. If you have supplies, we…yes, we'll take them. But you said ex-fil? I don't understand. Ex-fil where?" As Bennett makes her approach, a few extra lights go on around one of the man-sized airlocks that faces the mostly-cleared landing pad. When she starts her final landing, both can see the outer door open and two human figures in blue and while pressure suits step out. Both of them have battered assault rifles, just not being held at the ready.

"We'll talk face to face, Station Actual. Raptor out." With that, Ygraine signs off, and makes sure her suit is secure before rising up to free up the relief drop and prep it for roll out. "From three thousand to twelve hundred." she remarks as she gets it ready, admitting, "I honestly thought it couldn't be worse."

Bennett also checks the hardseal on her helmet, and locks her visor into place before bringing the raptor in for a (slightly rough) touchdown. Finesse does not seem to be her concern at the moment. "What the hell happened down here?" she murmurs, half to Ygraine and half to herself. "We should have come sooner." That is spoken softer, as she begins powering down the engines and reaching for the Five-seveN beneath her seat.

The two figures that emerges from the airlock wait patiently for the Raptor to settle down and start winding down, and only then start approaching, rifles slung over their shoulders. They give the bus a good 10-15 feet of respectful distance, waiting for the crew to emerge. The wireless does not offer a response once Ygraine signs off, though the two outside shoot each other a look while they wait.

Ygraine takes the lead on the roller of the relief crate, trusting Butch to cover her in the event that things go south. There's a very soft, "I think it may be safe to ID ourselves from Orion, but if things go badly and they try to get us to give up its location…don't let them get the chance t'get it outta me."

There is no immediate reply from St. Clair to that. Ygraine may be aware of the older woman watching her, and the silence in the cabin is broken seconds later by a soft, "Understood." Standard protocol, like she said. The hatch release is pulled, once she's confirmed they're both ready to go, and her sidearm's safety is disengaged with a faint click that's barely heard in the space between them.

With the hatch open, its easier to see that the two figures are both males, faces rather gaunt and pale, both with slightly wide-eyed looks as the two emerge from the Raptor, complete with a supply crate, even! One of them taps the other on the arm and points at the boxes, while his compatriot starts forward, offering the two a small little wave of one hand, then points at one of the boxes with a questioning look on his face.

"Go ahead." Ygraine tells the approaching figure. But she seems to think the one who did the motioning is the boss. "I'm Milkshake, this is my bus driver, Butch." she says. "Do we get t'come inside, or we gonna be th'boy stuck waitin' outside right before prom?"

Bennett climbs out shortly after Ygraine, boots hitting the mangled tarmac with a solid thump. She makes no bones about the weapon in her hand, and the brilliant blue eyes behind her visor are trained on the men who've come out to meet them. She, for the time being, seems content to let Ygraine do the talking.

The figure that's stepped forward sees Ygraine's lips moving and shakes his head once, then taps the side of his helmet and moves his hand in a talking motion while shaking his head again. Apparently, their suit comms don't work. He does, however, make a motion for the two to follow them, before offering to take the crates off of the flight crews' hands. The outer door to the airlock remains open, about fifty feet away, and for the moment, there doesn't seem to be any other activity.

Ygraine looks back at Bennett for a moment, and then follows the pair in. There's a certain amount of risk here, and it's hard, especially in a suit designed to protect her from vacuum, for Ygraine not to hear her own heart thudding in her ears.

The ECO's reassurance comes in the form of an almost imperceptible nod from Bennett. The time is briefly noted, and then she sets off across the tarmac after the trio. Her Five-seveN remains unholstered, clasped loosely in her left hand.

The two let the pilot and Eco take up positions in front, behind, wherever they choose to fall into the procession as things are carried back to the airlock. Crates are set down once inside, and they wait for Ygraine and Bennett to step inside, before closing the outer door. The lights outside shut back off, and the display is watched intently for a moment, before both men remove their helmets and phew softly, signaling the air is clear. The older of the two finally speaks up, "Stabilized. It takes another 30 seconds for the machinery to unlock the inner door…emergency power means everything goes slow."

Ygraine waits until they declare the air clear, and then pops off her helmet, all milkmaid braids and feckles. "Thanks." she says. "I'm Milkshake. My bus driver is Butch." She repeats herself, because she cannot say it enough, "I'm sorry we took so long.'

Bennett waits until the civilians seem to think the air is safe to breathe, before she releases the seal on her own helmet, and slides it off her head. Her hair tumbles out, uncoiling into a messy ponytail with damp wisps framing her face. "How long have you been running on emergency power?" she enquires casually, skipping the small talk. "Is there a problem with your main reactor that we could bring an engineering crew down to assist with?"

The older pipes up, "I'm Doctor Captain Williams. This is Doctor Lieutenant Feinstein. She said you were landing, but I swear to Ares, I had no frakking idea…" Finally, the inner doors click and slide open, revealing a small staging room inside. Several alcoves line the walls, some with pressure suits in them, some empty. Maybe ten individuals crowd the 30' diameter room currently, all staring intently at the four in the airlock. Some of them are wearing fatigues. Some are in civilian attire. Most have some semblance of body armor on, though it's almost always in horrible condition and clearly been patched together with the materials they have on hand. About half are armed with either sidearms or rifles, and while some are drawn, none are aimed at the two Orion crew yet.

Williams clears his throat and addresses Bennett, "We don't go to the reactor level anymore. And unless you brought a Marine division in that little Raptor of yours, you won't either. We're conserving battery power as much as we can."

Ygraine points out to Bennett, "If everything goes according to plan, we won't need to bolster the reactor." She looks over to Captain Williams. "Sir, what I can tell you is that we are with the Colonial Fleet. We want to ex-fil your remaining survivors to a safe location that for security reasons I can't disclose to you. But I can tell you that our CO is Louis Jameson and that we are the real deal. We can try and answer other questions, but what we can offer may be limited. If you're willing to trust us, we can start talkin' process t'get y'all the hell offa this rock."

"You don't do headcounts anymore. You don't go down to the reactor level." Bennett's jarringly blue eyes pin Williams as she speaks, perhaps a touch more sharply than she tends to, "Why is that?" Once the inner doors slide open, she ducks inside with a briefly assessing glance about the room. Ygraine's observation garners a nod of acquiescence, and a small smile. "Assuming their backup reactor doesn't decide to shut down tomorrow. Yes."

The 'mob' outside the airlock surge forward a little when Ygraine starts explaining, about 5-6 people all trying to talk at once. All of them look like they had a good meal maybe a week ago, and some of them look downright frightening when they get excited. Williams holds up his hand to try to get people to shut the hell up, and still standing there in the airlock, addresses Ygraine and Bennett, "Look, we've had nothing but dead air and Cylons buzzing the complex for four months now, and you show up, say you wanna rescue us, but can't say where you're taking us? I can't…" He doesn't even get to finish the sentence before two people pipe up loudly, "Frak that, I'll go, gods damnit!" "Yeah, me too, where the frak do I sign up?!"

He has to fight with a angry look to get people to shut up again, before he can turn his attention back to the flight crew, "Look. Things change when the world ends. The Commander thought he could keep control here after the Cylon attack, and even after they shot a hole through his chest, you could still see the look on his face, nothing but shock and surprise. There's maybe a thousand of us left here. We pass the word around, maybe the others will believe it and stop fighting. So maybe twelve hundred. Dome three and five went dark and a group took over the reactor level and used the lab equipment for booby traps. Good ones."

"We can return you to the Fleet." Ygraine says firmly. "I can't say more than that. But look at us." she gestures to herself and Bennett. "It's pretty obvious we get three squares a day wherever we're from, right?" She sighs. "The bottom line is, if you can get the pads prepped, we can move you all out of here. Between those and your private airlocks you have, it'll take time, but it can be done. It may have to happen in segments. But the first step was assessing how many we'd have to move, how able you are to assist from your end, and your willingness to go. Th'way I'm seein' it, what choice do ya have? Maybe ya got hydroponics that are bolsterin' your supplies, but."

Bennett continues to scan the small room while Williams speaks, though she edges back into the airlock as the 'mob' presses toward them. Her sidearm is held loosely at her thigh, safety still disengaged, finger off the trigger. In her right hand, the datapad she brought from their raptor is held out— toward Williams. "Here are the numbers. Estimates of what we'll need to do in terms of equipment drops, timelines. They will need to be modified for the headcount you've given us. I am sorry for how obtuse this must seem, but we have been fighting a war on many fronts. And we will need a yes or a no, doctor." Her tone is gentled, but it's practically an order.

Williams glances over at Feinstein, then at the other faces outside the airlock, two of whom approach and step inside with the for to hiss and whisper at Williams. He finally pushes them back in frustration and turns his attention back to Ygraine and Bennett, "If you're talking about repairing the landing pad? That's not happening with what we have. This is a Weapons and Tactical Research Facility. We don't and never had heavy construction equipment. We got the pad you landed on mostly clear of the pieces, but we'd need a paver to repair the pad itself and we got nothing like that here. But…" He pauses and looks back at the expectant faces, then sighs and shakes his head, reaching out to take the offered datapad, "Tell us what you need us to do. And for the Lords and Ladies' sakes, make it quick. Shiela says the battery power has maybe a week or two left before atmosphere control starts failing."

"We'll haveta bring th'equipment then." Ygraine grimaces. "Which means it takes more time. We'll need a map of the domes with population counts in each so we can best determine the means of extraction for each one. Smaller groups might be able to go though local airlocks t'waitin' raptors." There's a pause as Ygraine looks at Bennett a moment, and then says, very very quietly to the pair, "If ya got any criticals ya need th'hell outta here, injured, kids, pregnant women…we can take eight back with us now. But real quiet-like."

There is no argument from the pilot on that quietly-voiced request. Bennett is mostly concerned with making sure she doesn't have to create some space between she and her backseater, and the station inhabitants, with her pistol.

The mention of wounded and pregnant women and children has the group looking around at each other's faces. If it was humanly possible, Williams' face pales a little further, "We don't have any critically wounded, and noone here is pregnant. There are some children, but it will take a while to get them over here. Give us two minutes and we can get you the facilities map you need and our best count of people, but I cant guarantee exact numbers. And…thank you for coming back for us." Williams' face is an unreadable mask, hard to tell if he's about to break down, or has hardened himself against the situation. The datapad is handed over to a young woman in heavy bodyarmor and fatigues, who turns and runs off, presumably to go retrieve the information he spoke of.

Ygraine shakes her head. "I'm sorry, then we can't wait for 'em. Th'sooner we get back with your data, th'sooner we can return with prep instructions."

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