AWD #115: Take us to your leader

Lt.'s Gray, Kingsbury & Yates are sent to investigate rumors of another battle group that survived the attempted extermination of the human species and their machines of war.

Take us to your leader
Summary: Lt.'s Gray, Kingsbury & Yates are sent to investigate rumors of another battle group that survived the attempted extermination of the human species and their machines of war
Date: 01/05/2013
Related Logs: Current events on Caprica and other surviving colonies]
Elias Kingsbury Yates 
Raptor - 25
The cramped utilitarian interior of a raptor.
May 1 2005

Being out here, as someone once termed it, 'the ass end of space', is a bit like driving a two-lane highway late at night through the desert. Add in the other factors, and its a bit like being really late when you know that somewhere out there is a cop looking for you. The jump in totals their fifth since leaving Piraeus, having never even hit the Colonies and electing to jump all the way around it to avoid detection. Out here, there is nothing. The closest star is Helios Alpha, a dozen light years back behind them. But out here, its quiet. Sort of. Funny thing about radio transmissions? They take time to travel, radiating out away from the colonies at the speed of light. When they jump in, all sensors open to detection, something fills their helmets… Its a rock song from nearly 13 years ago, the last verse of it ending and fading away with the wail of a guitar.
"And that was The Stone Bonhams with 'Chasing Betty'! Love that song. Man, beautiful October day out there in Cap City. Seventy-three degrees and climbing. In the news, the planning committee for the 1994 Pyramid Championships has announced their list of five cities where the final five games of the playoffs will be held next year…" Life. In Caprica City. Twelve years ago. Its staticy out here, this far from the colonies. Lots of stellar objects to interfere with it. But that was home. A free home. Twelve years ago.

With a look at the board and a minute adjustment of one of the controls, Yates turns the volume up briefly to listen to the fading echo of life that once-was on Caprica. A small shake of her head is given, rolling her right shoulder subtly to ease the tense set earned from jumping all over like a hare hopped up on fermented carrot juice. She checks the position of the Raptor out of that last jump, "Everything green for go on this end," she says in a quiet voiced aside to Kingsbury, the remark accompanying a glance sent sidelong then another with a nod toward their resident Intel officer who's along for the ride. "Do a quick sweep?" she asks of Royal, old habits die hard for a reason.

Kingsbury nods, and doesn't argue; he does the sweep without complaint. He's silent, seemingly unsettled by the old radio transmission. It's a tense moment before he says, "All clear," looking over at Yates. "Please turn the transmission down. It's unsettling," the man says with a little shudder. Then he does another sweep for his own sanity.

Elias has commandeered a flight suit and helmet for this mission, and there's a sidearm strapped into the integral holster at his right hip. You can never be too prepared for a Raptor ride toward an unknown, and possibly hostile, welcome. As the 'passenger' on this trip, Elias takes whatever seat is open and straps himself in. At least he looks like has some clue of how to get around a Raptor. That or he's the curious type that likes to stare at the read-outs. Perhaps he's just trying to keep busy and out of the way. The music from Caprica brings a thoughtful frown to his face, but he doesn't comment on it himself.

They're early, though. Given the Orion crew had to jump five times, its no surprise. Don't want to miss that window and all that. So they wait, floating through space with zero velocity. Minutes stretch. With the radio transmission shut off, it gets very quiet out here. The loudest sound for several minutes is the Raptor's DRADIS detecting a new contact at 18:30:01 CCST. Right on time. The Raptor's transponder checks with last verified IFF signals and checks out as Colonial. At :08 there comes a new sound. This is the sound of a missile lock tone on the Orion Raptor. "Unknown Raptor, this is Blackjack Two-One." The voice is male and sounds surprised and more than a little menacing. "Challenge is Lance. You have five seconds to reply." The Raptor is somewhere off at their five oclock and very low, under the belly.

"Can do," Yates replies, reaching to do exactly that once Kingsbury voices his request, simply nodding in fact as she adjusts the volume. "Hmm, remember where you were in 1994?" she wonders the question in that same quiet aside, still eyeing the board and watching all the read outs with the sharp eyed look of a pilot who's been shot enough times to not get lazy at the helm.
The ping, right on time, has her focus narrowing even more, straightening - consciously - in the seat at the sound of the missile lock tone, the knee-jerk response to respond IN KIND is somewhat twitchy but she is calm as she opens the channel to respond. "Arrow," in a clear voice that makes sure each syllable and consonant is clearly enunciated - this is no time to have issues with accents after all. "I say again, Blackjack Two-One," a measured pause, "Arrow."

Kingsbury lets Yates reply to the challenge, his eyes locked on the comm. He nods once, carefully, at the challenge response, but otherwise says nothing, his hands knuckle-white and clenched in his lap.

Waiting on station, even for a relatively short while, makes Elias visibly edgy. And remembering where he was in 1994 doesn't seem to help much. "Too bad we can't send a message the other way," is his only reply to the Pilot's musings. He kills time craning his neck to look at the DRADIS display, and checking his watch. When the contact appears, Elias straightens on alert, but there's nothing for him to do but wait and see what happens.

There's a pause while the transmission is sent and received and at the second call of 'Arrow' the missile lock tone goes away. "Hold position." -21 can be seen on DRADIS to approach the Orion Raptor and slowly circle around it above. It comes over the top on its nose pointed towards the cockpit. On each side of the winglets are miniguns, a missile rack, and nuclear missiles. The carvel missile racks on the rear deck have blue tips painted on them, as well. Armor piercing? The whole Raptor, likewise, has been painted a very charred black making it damned hard to spot, even at this range of only a dozen meters. They're staring back at the other Raptor crew and they can even read the rank of the pilot, he's a Captain. "Standby to copy coords. Meet there in two-zero minutes." They don't even want a name. The ECO watches and she doesn't look any less friendly. The pilot removes a flashlight from his belt and begins flashing, in morse code, new jump coordinates directly into Yates' face.

Yates's eyes narrow subtly, reading the coordinates and automatically keying in the data - NOT punching it in and hitting GO but keying it in so she doesn't miss so much as a skinny little digit. "Copy that, -21," is voiced calmly in return. She gives Calm in return to Unfriendly/stoic, because there's no reason or call to get jumpy or rude. "Meet in two-zero minutes at the given coordinates," she doesn't read them back either but she snags a flashlight from a conveniently located position and mirrors the coordinates back at the Captain of the other Raptor in Morse code, studying the face of the Captain as she does this.

Kingsbury remains silent, looking at his counterpart on the other Raptor. He is expressionless, blue eyes blank as he watches the exchange out of the corner of his eye.

Elias twists to look out the front canopy as Blackjack-21 comes into view, and he studies the other craft intently, eyes narrowed. Once they can see into the interior of their companion Raptor, Elias looks around, checking for any unusual equipment or other gear.

"Do not be early. Do not be late. Ten seconds either side of the second we jump away plus twenty and you will be fired upon." The Captain hovers there in front of them, watching in silence. He says something over his shoulder to the ECO and she looks back to her panel and nods several times to confirm it. "You'll have more questions before pick-up." He slowly lifts the Raptor away and then jumps, leaving them to sit there and wait.

Yates silences their end of the com, "Jump calc, time in transit and ETA?" she asks of Kingsbury. "Our orders were to relay the message from the RADM," which they all know by heart, "then depending on the warmth of the reception - or lack thereof - decide whether or not to follow them around like a pair of lost geese. So."

Kingsbury looks to Yates. "This jump is outside of colonial space. By far, Whip. Do we even want to go that far?" He's obviously reluctant to go, looking uncomfortable and displeased. "I don't know. They were kinda cold."

"They didn't wait around to hear the message, unfortunately," Elias points out. "If we want to deliver it, we'll have to follow their instructions." The news that the coordinates are even further out causes Elias to pause and reflect, lips compressed in a tight line. He addresses the pilot. "It's your ship, Lieutenant. But if they had wanted to disable us, they passed up a perfectly good chance just now."

"Considering the new intel, I'd be cold as hell, personally," comes Yates's reply, her head moving in a slow but resolute shake. "For all they know, we're a pair of meat puppets with tiny cylons pulling our strings or something equally creepy as hell." She gives a twitch, not a subtle one, at her own words. "But. Pros and cons," yeah she likes lists, "if they are who they say they are, they represent a valuable asset to be re-linked with. If they aren't who they say they are, then command doesn't get jerked around by any other would-be pretenders of their battle group and can get down to the bloody business of blowing the crap out of everything that isn't US from now on." A nod is aimed at Elias, "Good point. Alright," she looks back to Royal, "Spool us up and get us moving, last thing I'm doing as the bus driver is getting us shot for being tardy."

Kingsbury sighs and hits the correct sequence, silent, eyes big. He's rattled. It's not affecting his performance, but he's definitely rattled.

Once the decision is made, Elias sinks back into his seat and closes his eyes. He just sits there, focused-inward for a moment, then he slowly lets out the breath he was holding and opens his eyes again. "Well … we'll know if our number is up in twenty minutes." He's decided to be philosophical about it.

Twenty minutes counts down. All jumps are instantaneous so the 'JUMP' button is hit at 19:59. The world flashes in front of them and… DRADIS goes apeshit. Contacts light up in a huge wall behind them. Two dozen of them, easily. Its probably a rather insane moment in the cockpit of the Orion Raptor where underwear turns dirty while the DRADIS pings the targets. Every single on of the has a near instant missile lock on the Raptor and radiological alarms begin emitting an angry growl, every one of the targets hot with nuclear warheads — several of them targeted at the Raptor. One by one, the IFF comes back, though. The yellow 'UNKNOWN' blips turn green as the tops of semicircles with an R beneath the umbrella. Friendly Raptors? "Unknown Raptor, identify yourself and your origin." This is not the same voice as before. This one is older and holds a lot more authority.

"I trust that everyone took their anti-radiation meds and remembered to burn something nice to your individual patron gods of 'oh god oh god we're going to die'?" Yates remarks in a dry tone of voice as her hands move over the board, checking one system after another. The alarms (bells and whistles) make a jarring cacophony of sound inside the cockpit and she turns down the most obnoxious of them (redundancy + ear ringing does not equal goodness), "Overkill, seriously, overkill, do they think we snuck a frakking armada in with us, tucked into the boot?" no she did NOT say that on Comm, she does have some measure of discretion when it comes to being moderately snarky and keeps that wise-assery to their Raptor and not to the entire friggen welcome wagon. A glance is shared "This is Raptor-25 of the 11th Air Group, Joint Task Force NOMAD," is what she DOES say over the comm in return. "LT Yates in command," offering up her name but not putting everyone else on the table.

Kingsbury pipes up, off-comm. "There are 24 individual Raptors, all nuke-equipped and active and armed warheads. Behind them is an unnamed escort carrier." And then he falls silent again, eyes darting from Raptor to Raptor.

The jarring symphony of alarm and warning sounds sends Elias' attention back to the DRADIS display, and the ECO in front of it. And when Kinsbury gives the count of nukes aimed at them, Elias' face goes pale. For a few seconds he's silent, just waiting for their Raptor to be obliterated. But they're not. Yet. "Yes … nothing like a warm welcome…" he mutters in answer to Yates, forcing a very strained smile. "My guess is they gave us twenty minutes to see if we had any other ships following us, and hoping we'd bring them along this time. Let's see if they feel safe enough to talk, now."

"Raptor-25," the voice begins. "-of Task Force NOMAD." the Raptors hover there, waiting. Its the kind of ambush you would set up if you were expecting a fleet of basestars. "What is your intent here at this position and how did you come by the time and location to meet our Raptor?" The missile locks don't leave, but at least they aren't screaming in ears anymore.

"Nothing like overkill, why use one nuke when twenty four could turn this entire section of space into radioactive slag?" Yates mutters to Royal and Gray before she clears her throat and opens the com to answer the asked question
"The intel that brought us here was provided by a Lieutenant we rescued from a bad situation," she begins, trying to keep the information cut and dry and not make it sound like she's a talking meat puppet. "This Lt. claims to be a member of the Blackjack group and provided two sets of coordinates and a date/time for each. He said that that a scout from the Blackjack group would supposedly be listening in for a colonial contact. We're here to check the reliability of the information."

Kingsbury remains silent, monitoring the situation on the DRADIS and in front of them. He shakes his head a little, disbelieving at all of the firepower.

Elias falls silent again as he focuses on listening to the comms traffic, and the voice of the person sending to them. "Sounds like we have someone we can deliver our message to, at least." He glances over at the FTL console, then suggests quietly. "And we may want to spool up again. Just in case."

There's a long pause while the information is processed. Eventually he comes back. "Very well. Flight crews standdown." Missile locks shut off almsot immediately and the radiological alarms vanish. "Two-five, you are directed to land on the Rabaul's flight deck and await instructions. That's the pocket carrier behind the screen. You'll be met on the hangar deck by armed Marines. Leave your weapons on the Raptor for your own safety and exit the Raptor with your hands visible. Do be very careful to comply with these instructions. That was our last rendezvous location you just burned. Rabaul, out." The comm freq goes dead and the running lights on the carrier turn on, illuminating the name across the side. Its just the flight pod of a battlestar with the bare essentials tacked onto it. The name can be seen clearly across the side.

Again, Yates keeps her hand off the comm, keeping the conversation IN raptor. "If we spool up we stand long odds of jumping out of here in anything but a bunch of debris and scraps of what used to be a Raptor and crew," she says with a long look from Kingsbury to Gray and back. "Formidable firewpower, a willingness to use it, a bit of over kill -yeah- but .." and she looks back at the display. "But. We land, we keep our mouths shut about everything BUT why we're here. We get some names to go with faces, give your intel guys," a look aimed at Gray, "a chance to try to ferret out some details to go with those names. Could happen, also long odds on that. But we get a look around. And try to figure out if they're still human," grim alternative there but she's doing the talking at the moment. "We spool up now, it's game over."

Kingsbury nods his rapid agreement with Yates. "She's right, Gray," is all he offers. He puts his hand to his head and rubs his temples—a headache is forming.

Elias does not look like he agrees completely, but this is not his ship, and not the time to argue. So he just nods reluctantly. "Your call, Lieutenant. But there is a risk in looking too docile. They should expect us to be ask spooked as they are."

"Too docile when they have 24 nukes they can aim at us in a pinch?" comes Yates's reply, still studying the display. "Spooked, yes. Armed to the teeth and willing to use it? yes. Would we be dumb to have a tree peeing contest out here in the ass end of nowhere with someone who can go radio silence in a half second, cue up the destruction music and turn us into slag? Yeah, a bit. However," and she turns to aim a look at Elias, "You're the intel guy. Ante up. Right now I'm the taxi driver if you have something to say that'll level the playing field."

Elias shakes his helmeted head and takes a deep breath. When he speaks, it's the carefully even tone. A forced calm. Or mostly-calm. "All I am suggesting is that we push-back a little. Send them the message about the Rear Admiral and our rendezvous coordinates. Then say our orders are to leave, but we'll comply with their landing instructions if we can keep our sidearms. If they are willing to nuke us for just saying that …" he shrugs helplessly.

Yates gives another of those slow nods, "Good thinking," she says with a wry ghost of a grin. "This is why you're Intel and I'm a taxi driver," she adds with a brief attempt at a smile before she turns back to the panel and exhales, flexes one hand before punching the com button again. "Rabaul, Raptor-25, acknowledge receipt of instructions," so far so good, "our standing orders were very precise," she adds, letting the listener(s) hear her voice, not just her words. "Our orders were to relay a specific message: Rear Admiral Jameson extends his greetings and requests, if you are capable, to rendezvous with us at the following coordinates," she then recites - clearly - the set of jump coordinates, "in 24 hours." She pauses again then continues, "Our orders are to leave after relaying the message and coordinates, but we'll comply with the landing instructions a s as a of good faith," she turns off their end of the comm and looks back to Elias. "One to find, one to keep, tell me your side arm isn't the only weapon you have on you," she adds as she starts to guide the raptor toward the designated pocket carrier behind the screen.

Elias stays quiet while Yates sends the message to the Rabaul, and offers the pilot a wry smile when she ask about other weapons. "I'm just a glorified analyst, Lieutenant. And Field School was a long time ago. So … no, I'm afraid I don't have a hidden arsenal in my pockets. Sorry." He still has one ear cocked for the sound of missile launch warnings as he speaks.

Rabaul ~ Flight deck

The flight in is like approaching any other flight pod. The flight deck has a line of Vipers and Predators stored and sitting on it so combat landings on here would be a megahuge bitch. The Raptor is escorted in by two other Raptors that flank it and keep their guns trained on it until it begins the descent to the hangar deck. As they cross into the light, everyone has stopped what they are doing and are staring. Every single bay is filled with aircraft and they are even shoved two-at-a-time for things like Vipers. This place operates way beyond safety. The nukes are still sitting aboard the Raptors and everyone is just staring at the Raptor descending the elevator. The faces look a little gaunt and most of them hungry. There are no overweight people here. At all. The Marines have rifles trained on the cockpit even before the pilot can be seen. They're watching every move and others are shifting to cover the hatch when it opens. Maybe they have a reason to be paranoid?

Yates is careful to remove her sidearm before they open the hatch, she makes a point of checking the safety once or twice - for her own nerves - once that is done. They'd stripped the Raptor, in advance, of anything that would lead back to that which may not be discussed. Their jump computer had been carefully filtered as well, making it even MORE difficult for more data to be fished out than they'd want looked at. For all intents and purposes their jump computer says Picon and data to support operations in that sector ONLY. She shares one more look with Gray before she steps out of the Raptor, hands held at her sides, palms open - making a conscious effort to make it very clear she isn't coming out shooting.

Once the Raptor comes to a halt and the engines quiet, Elias takes his time undoing his straps and getting out of his seat. He looks over at Yates, then outside the canopy to their welcoming party of waiting Marines, and sighs heavily. Slowly Elias unbuckles his pistol, leaving it in his seat before he moves towards the Raptor door. "Do you want to do the talking out there, Lieutenant?"

With the hatch open and Yates and Elias exiting, the normally busy hangar deck seems to have just gone silent. At the sitant end there is the sound of people shouting and moving, but nearer the Orion Raptor, most people have just stopped. "Nichols, up." An officer in his early 40's points to a young JG who hurries up past them into the Raptor, the man wearing a Raptor patch. He goes right to the ECO station. The Major who had just directed the JG motions with a whistle for the Orion crew to step down onto the deck plating. "Marines, search 'em for weapons." And they do, the Marines are fast about it, but only seem interested in guns, explosives, or knives. The rest of their gear — including helmets, is left untouched. The Major eyes them both and crosses his arms. "Well ain't this some shit. Even got Orion patches. We'd heard rumors you guys were out there." He finally smirks and extends a hand, at once to each of them. "I'm Major Chuck Dawes." Aerilon, all the way. Its about as hard to pick out as the sun in the sky. "I'm the CAG on this boat. Sorry about the welcome. Had to be sure you could pass all our tests." No, he's not sorry. But at least he's amusing himself by pretending he is.

One look through the hatch has Yates shaking her head subtly, "Because I'm the diplomatic one?" Yates asks, a fine note of humor in her tone of voice, small emphasis on the words 'I'm' in that remark. "Lets try 50/50 on the talking and see if we can come out of this alive," her eyes continue to scan around, wariness evident, justifiably wary in fact. She recognizes that lean look, she'd had it herself, that half starved scrawny malnourished not getting enough to eat or enough sunlight for that matter, and it triggers a touch of empathy.
Once she and Gray step down out of their Raptor and the officer - Nichols - heads inside, she and Elias stand-to for the frisking and the searching before the CAG does the meet & greet. "Lt. Claire Yates," she volunteers for her part and accepts the offered hand, exchanging a firm - albeit brief - hand clasp in return before Elias gets a turn.

Elias looks around the hangar, talleying up the nubmer of Marines watching them, and trying to get a feel for the condition of the ship and the craft in the bay. The look he gives Major Dawes is very 'not amused', but he steps forward to shake has with the officer as well. "Lt. Elias Gray. Pleased to meet you, Major." He looks over at Yates, then adds a bit more. "As Lt. Yates said, we were ordered to return immediately. But it was hard to turn down such a … warm welcome."

"Glad to see you're so talkative," the Major chuckles. He lifts a radio from his belt and makes a call. "Sir, looks like we're all good down here. They don't match. I say we roll, Colonel." There's a scratchy reply back and an overhead voice announces. "All crew commence jump prep. Jump in two minutes." But after Elias says that, the shakes of the hand is slow and he furrows his brow. "Yeahhhh. I dunno about you guys, but we shut off our radio gear unless we're actively using it. Most of our comms are light-based when we get this close to the colonies. We don't have that boosted encryption bullshit. You got orders to return right away?" He looks back between them. "Alright. Take off. Otherwise we're jumping away. We've got things to do that we got pulled away from to meet up with you all. Otherwise we can probably get you back tomorrow after we head back to the other ships." He lifts the radio, ready to stall the count. "I need to know fast."

Yates shares a sidelong look with Elias before aiming a thoughtful and reasonably wary look around then back to the Major. "You guys look like you've been jumping through some version of the nine hells," she remarks in a quiet voice, her Gemenon accent coloring her words but not sliding into local idiom. "Those thing that you have to do, maybe we can lend a hand. We'll stand for the moment," she says with a look again toward Elias, sharing the blame on this equally when they get back.

Does he get the mesasge from Yates? A small eye-roll from Elias seems to indicate that he does indeed. He nods agreement. "We do need to get word back to the Admiral, Major. But we're here now, so …"

Dawes listens to everything before he nods and reseats the radio to his belt pouch. "Fair enough. Your call. He motions for them to follow and glances to a Petty Officer. "Secure their Raptor. Nobody messes with it except Nichols. Guns go missing, you go missing." The woman nods in reply and Dawes leads off the two Orion officers. "Its been harder on Engineering and the Deck personnel than most anyone else, actually," he explains. "They're working longer and harder hours with the same rations. The Commander is about to change that ruling, though. We've been on halfs since Warday. We're all a little hungry and right now we don't have a home to go to, so we're making it last." The Major leads them up through the corridors. "We're not going to CIC. Security concerns. You'll get introductions on the Obs Deck. Besides, best view." He smirks. There are Marines following, though probably not a big surprise. "So what the frak, the Orion is real? Its like this ghost rumor we keep hearing about. Adar told the colonies in a radio address that the Orion is something Spree has made up to sew false hope. Hell, your existence is a point of debate with half our fleet's command staff. I just made a bottle of whiskey off you guys so I'm pleased as shit to see ya."

Yates casts a look over her shoulder at her Raptor then back to Dawes, resisting the urge to look back /again/ before she rolls her right shoulder slightly and nods, "That's reasonable," regarding the weapons. His words about rations make her look around, again, until something he says makes her study him long and hard. "President Adar is alive?" is the question she asks. She doesn't answer any of those un-asked questions because news that Adar is alive can change all manner of political stuff she hears bantered about. "And we're not ghosts and glad to help you win that bottle. We're glad as hell to see you guys too."

Elias follows along with Major Dawes, listening as the CAG explains some of their situation, and the rumors. He doesn't say much of anything, just offers a few nods and an occassional "I see." Elias spends most of his time try to get a casual look around as the make their way through the ship. When he finally enters the conversation, it's more business-like. "Judging by our reception, I'm guessing you have had the same problem with Cylon infiltrators that we have, Major?"

Rabaul ~ Observation Deck

Dawes laughs. "Hell yeah he's alive. Man, you guys don't have intel spreads about Caprica? That place is traitor central. Adar surrendered at the opening shots. Begged them to stop nuking the colonies. Tin fraks laughed and kept going. Adar has been their mouthpiece since, geez, maybe early March? February?" They pass a lot of people in the corridors who give them odd looks, especially the patches on their arms. Once they pass there are occasionally hoots and hollars. "He's a real piece of work. He's been yellin at everyone, offering rewards for people to inform on their friends and families. If your tip leads to the capture of at least one resistance fighter, you get a reward. More fighters or more important ones, bigger rewards. If you want to rule Picon, deliver Spree's head on a platter to Avery Hall," he chuckles. They move to the Obs Deck which is really just a small room with a really big window. It's about one quarter the side of Orion's. He glances back to Elias and nods, looking a bit darker. "We had a pair of Sixes roll through a couple ships. They'd wait until lights out and throw grenades into the bunk houses. Bad enough as it is, they'd tape them to steel canteens full of liquid tylium fuel. Shrapnel, high intensity fires… they killed about six hundred people before we finally got them." He finishes just in time to hear the overhead speakers announce jump time. "Alright, time to head home. You guys ever seen a Super-Dread?"

"Sixes?" Yates asks, casting a sidelong look at Elias. "How many models do you guys have numbers and faces to go with?" she wonders, trying to tuck as much information away as she possibly can, as it'll all be important. The hoots and hollars earn a glance over her shoulder from time to time, a bit of a grin given before they reach the obs deck with it's really big window. "People are turning each other in for rewards?" she asks next, trying to really believe that, and working hard to wrap her brain around that idea.

Elias gives Dawes a steady, assessing look as he explains about Adar, and then the sixes. His glance back to Yates is a cautious warning. "Maybe we got off lucky. One of them shot up our mess. But it sounds like you've got some good intel, Major. If there's any data you're willing to let us take back to the Orion … " Yes, he's asking, politely, and of course understands that security is a concern. But hey, you've got to play upon your fame while you can.

"Oh hell if I know," the Major says. "Never forgettin those faces, though. Man, those frakkers. Sixes are nasty. Violent as hell. Absolutely lethal." He nods a few times to Yates' last, though. "Yeah. Caprica is a non-permissive environment. People are backstabbing everywhere just to scramble for a position with the new Cylon governance. Its sick. But I'm just a pilot, guys. You want to find out about the canners, talk to the intel shack on the Baker bay. I try not to go over there. That place is hot as hell." He leans a shoulder against the glass and looks up as the FTL spools to the end and he smirks. "Poof." There's a flash out the window and there, in front of them, is a fleet larger than Orion. They're in orbit around a small moon of gas giant and the pocket carrier is approaching them from aft. Four flak frigates, four light cruisers, two heavy cruisers… and the Baker Bay. The latter crafts massive engines glow a hot blue against space, the flak frigates forming a defensive right around it with a cruiser at each end. Its a MASSIVE amount of firepower in one location.

"Holy crap," Yates says quietly, walking forward until she rests one hand against the big window, looking - counting - but mostly trying not to (unsuccessfully) gape at the display of fire power. And the Baker Bay. "So, we're looking at a bathtub fleet," she aims for a trace of humor as she turns back and gives Dawes a quick grin. "Damn," which is about the sum of her vocabulary, turning back toward the sight with a decided gleam of approval.

Elias stares out the observation port as the jump completes, and just stares a few minutes longer. "That is … a welcome sight." he murmurs, and he certainly sounds relieved. It also gives him a chance to count ships and types, and scan the hulls for obvious damage. "Who's in command, Major? We need to arrange another rendezvous, so we can regain contact after we take the news back to the Orion… " He seems to be thinking aloud now.

The Major watches Yates with a smirk. "Like I said, you could've left if you wanted. But what would you have missed?" He puts his hands into his pockets and looks past Yates and on out the window. "Colonel Mike Galloway is running the show out here. Gave himself two weeks ago when we got ourselves back up to full combat capability. Right now we've just been shopping for a new target. I've tossed in my recommendations, but they're just mine. And we haven't even made serious contact with Spree yet. That's up on the docket, though. But Galloway figured showing up at Picon, killing everything in the sky, and parking, might be construed as a bit… what was the term?" He chuckles and looks off. "Right, yeah, 'a touch of imposition.'"

"I'd call it a touch of inspiration followed by throngs of people cheering in the streets and massive bonfires to smelt down the toaster carcasses to be recycled into bullets to re-spend toward more enemy action," Yates replies as she fights the instinct to tuck her hands into pockets that don't exist on her flight suit. She settles for clasping her hands behind her back, one wrist holding the other. "Gave himself two weeks ago?" she asks before wondering, almost immediately next, "How many models have you guys identified in your fleet? And what about the body snatcher ones?"

Kingsbury has been silent, as is his way, for a long time, simply following and watching. He remains so, taking everything in. The news about the Cylons makes him go pale, but he doesn't say a word, just observes.

Elias stands in front of the observation window, staring out at the task force ships. He's also quiet for a long while, but his attention returns to the conversation when Major Dawes starts to discuss hitting Picon. This draws a sharp look from Elias, and a trouble expression settles over the Intel Officer's face. "Would it be possible for us to speak with Colonel Galloway before we go, Major?"

"We've got the Ones, Sixes, and Tens." The Orion crew has 1, 2, 6, 9, 11, and an unknown female model. "I'm sorry, what? Body-snatcher Cylons?" The man blinks. "You mean the ones kidnapping people off Caprica?" Dawes then looks back to Elias and nods a few times. "Yeah, you don't have much choice in the matter, Lieutenant. He wants to meet our new arrivals. You're the first new people we've had in this fleet since before Warday. We were out here for two weeks before we knew anything had gone wrong. You can imagine how that went over." His voice is grim, but relaxed. There's a Raptor that passes the window, headed for the flight deck above.

"We got word before we lifted off that there's some new technique that the cylon's are using that somehow takes control of a human and turns them into a walking talking cylon puppet," Yates explains with a slight shake of her head. "I didn't get much more than that," said in a tone that implies 'WAY above my pay grade', "except that the word is this isn't just some weird ass rumor, but genuine data. They Cylons are kidnapping people off of Caprica? Why?" she wonders in return. "Like they need a reason, I know. But it's damned odd. First they want to exterminate us and now they want, what, to keep us in a zoo as potential oddities to throw bread crumbs at in the future?"

News of Cylon models Dawes' group has seen keeps Elias' attention, but he only replies a bit vaguely. "I believe our's was a One." He goes thoughtful again, for a moment. He's shaken out of this abruptly when Yates starts talking about the latest news of human-controlled Cylons. "I'm not sure it's wise to speculate about that too much, Lieutenant." Elias' suggestion is rather terse and pointed. To Major Dawes he adds. "We only just heard about it as we were getting ready to leave, I'm afraid."

Kingsbury stares at Yates, frowning. He says nothing, as Elias beats him to the punch, but he is obviously displeased. He shakes his head and stares out the window again.

Major Dawes just stares at the pilot, then Elias. Seconds pass. "That sounds utterly horrifying and I hope its a sick joke." Flat, monotone, and more than a little disturbed. He shudders after a moment. "No idea why they are talking people off Caprica. We've been in contact with the 55th Mobile Command on and off for the last week or so. They've been giving us some good info. They've directed us to seek out Spree, but would absolutely love for us to come in there and clean house. Apparently its a frakkin cesspool." Dawes shakes his head and glances to the radio with a burst of static.

Yates tilts her head toward Gray in a subtle nod and shares a glance with Kingsbury before turning back to Major Dawes. "We don't deal in sick jokes, I'm afraid," is her only remark on that issue but falls silent with a glance toward the radio.

Elias glances around to Kingsbury and Yates, offering each only a brief, steady look. Then he turns back to Dawes with a thin, wry smile. "We're all looking to get some payback, sir." Elias is more than willing to switch topics, especially to one he can agree with whole-heartedly. "Hopefully, as soon as we're in regular communication."

"Unfortunate. Neither does Galloway." Dawes glances towards the door. Two Marines step inside and keep their rifles ready as they watch the three Orion crew carefully. The Major gets the clue that they aren't looking to talk and his eyes slowly lid towards Elias. "We can sit here staring at each other if you want to play intel games about protecting what you know. I've been talking in hopes that you'd be willing to share something back. But if you'd rather sit on your thumbs like we're not on the same side and wax poetic about wanting payback, I've got better things to do than babysit. We should probably just send you home in that case and you all can fight your own damned war while we're knocking down enemy fleet. You copy me, kid?" There's more than a little cool on Dawes' words. About now, the Colonel walks in wearing his blues and he stares around at the assembled crew as he comes to a fast stop. "Is there a problem here, Major Dawes?" he asks, staring at the pilot rather than the visitors. There's a trail of people behind the Colonel, too.

Kingsbury is about to reply to Dawes, possibly something sharp, when the Colonel walks in. He straightens to attention, but does not salute. "Sir," he says stiffly.

Yates may not know her ECo for this mission all that well, but she recognizes the look on Kingsbury's face all the same and is preparing to leap in as mediator when she too straightens abruptly, shoulders squaring. "Sir," she echoes a bare moment after Kingsbury. She doesn't actually need to glance sidelong to check if Gray has done the same thing, though there's a dialogue in action that has to get resolved.

Elias listens through Major Dawes 'explanation' with a guarded expression, and the tone of his reply is right out of the manual under 'response, non-confrontational, superior officer you've just pissed off'. Does he copy? "Yes, sir. Understood, sir." The Colonel's entrance is well timed, and Elias joins Kingsbury and Yates in trying to use it to defuse any brewing disagreement. "No problem, Colonel." Elias glances to Major Dawes. "Major Dawes was just making his position clear, sir."

Dawes straightens a little and goes to parade rest. Galloway looks to Elias, then to Dawes. The Major speaks up, "No, sir. Our guests are a bit tight lipped and I-" and Galloway finishes the thought: "-and you decided to issue ultimatums." Silence hangs. "Major, report to CIC and stand post there until I have time to deal with you personally. I don't care if its tomorrow. You will wait. Dismissed." There's a subtle bark and gruff agility to the way Galloway handles the situation, simply stepping back to allow the Major out. Dawes shoots the Colonel a Look and stalks out without another word. Galloway invites in his staff and gestures for one to shut the hatch, locking them all inside with the Marines. He looks over the three officers for another moment and lets off a sigh. "Alright. At ease. Let's have a few words." He moves to take a seat with the staff behind him. "Your Raptor," the Colonel shakes a finger to Yates, then Kings, "didn't come from Picon. Your bird doesn't have the radiological trace on it. Which means you probably flew from someplace that hasn't been nuked recently. That means either you're legitimately from this ghost fleet we hear stories about third hand, or you all are skinjob infiltrators. Got a way to prove either one, boys and girl?"

Kingsbury takes a breath, and looks to Yates, then Elias. He has nothing, not off the top of his head. He does remain calm, though, trusting in his fellow Orionians.

Yates stares the Colonel down rather calmly as she says, "Sir, what proof do we have that you're not a cylon? Or that any of your command staff aren't? Any of your crew, your personnel, etcetera?" she asks, taking the question in stride and asking the very question that they'd come here to ask in the first place. "We have orders to find out if your fleet is for real or a rumor. So far, we're able to report that this isn't a rumor made of wishes, dreams and a combination of bad booze and happy thoughts spun into gossip. Our primary objective was to relay the invitation from Rear Admiral Jameson and the jump coordinates for a rendezvous if you are willing to take the same leap of faith that we've taken to be here. And no, sir," she pauses briefly, "I can't prove that I'm not a cylon any more than I can prove that you're not one either. I did, however, spend a month locked in a prison camp on Picon before getting rescued by the crew of the Orion, and I'll be damned - personally - if i know why, to this date, that the lot of us were held in the first place."

Elias's expression tightens as the Colonel tells off Major Dawes, and Elias has the good grace to look apologetic about it as the Major leaves. Elias takes a relatively long moment assessing Colonel Galloway and his staff, and how one might make a useful answer to the question of proving you're not a skinjob. Long enough that Yates has ample time to take point on responding to the Colonel. So Elias just nods his support for the Raptor Pilot's answer. "Major Dawes is right about one thing, sir. We do have to decide if we trust each other or not. It's difficult to not take two dozen nukes, pointed right at you, personally … perhaps I was taking it out on him."

Kingsbury speaks up, quiet voice somehow carrying. "And I admit, there's a lot of trust here to be built. I'm willing to work toward it, and I believe Rear Admiral Jameson would agree. It's why we're here, after all. So… where do we start?" He looks around. "It's obvious Major Dawes has trust issues with us. The question is: do you?"

"Well now you've got some fire under your britches, don't you?" the Colonel observes. "Lieutenant, if I were a Cylon impersonator, do you really, honestly think the best thing I could come up with to do with my position is get this fleet in fighting shape and killing bastestars?" He laughs, glancing to his staff and back. "We've already discussed this several times. If we are, there's not a damned thing we can do about it. So we fight. If you're just here to relay a message, then so be it. Message received. Jot down the coordinates with the yeoman and we'll send a Raptor." Galloway rises slowly from his chair and motions for a Petty Officer to speak with Yates and Kingsbury. He then looks back to Elias and nods. "You've got your point. Next time, Lieutenant, I would suggest not taking it so personally. One would do the trick for your Raptor. We were concerned about you bringing along five basestars." He glances back to Elias and then to a clipboard he's signing. "Which is what happened last time. They trashed out meeting Raptor, then jumped in on our provided coordinates with a small fleet. We lost two escort carriers and a whole air wing due to that mistake." He taps the pen to the paper and hands both off to an Ensign. Looking to Kingsbury, he shakes his head. "I've got no burr up my ass to trust you. You say you all have resources, I'm interested in combining them. I'm not under Spree's command yet and have yet to make contact with her. Our rumors say you all are running the show. Whatever the case may be, this group is about to see heavy action. My trust of you all is not required. I know where my rounds are going without you and we aren't sittin around here sniffin each others asses for skinjob. We've lost enough of this group. So tell me, the three of you, do you think I have trust issues?" The Colonel just looks at them with a lopsided expression with little humor.

"For that reason exactly, Sir, is why we were sent in the first place," Yates explains in return, taking point again to reply. "If this had been a trap, our net losses would have been one raptor, the crew and any intel that could be pressed out of us if we'd allowed ourselves to be captured." There's no small amount of subtle emphasis on the word 'if' in the way she'd phrased it. "We don't have the authority, sir, to do more than make the offer, carry your response back, and then hope that you send a Raptor to the agreed upon coordinates at the agreed upon time. We understand that you're in the middle of operations, and I can only say that we have the same underway on our end of things. This war, is one war, Sir, one that is being fought by civilians, by children in some cases, and anyone with the nerve to pick up a weapon - any weapon - and do what they can. Your tech didn't pull anything useful off of my Raptor for a reason, just like I imagine that any Raptor that you send out now is carefully scrubbed for the same reason. With respect, Sir, the three of us are Lieutenants, and the next dialogue needs to be made someone with the authority to do more than extend the invite and try not to get turned into floating shrapnel while doing so."

Kingsbury falls silent again, nodding his agreement with Yates. There's nothing to add. He just goes back to observing.

Elias is willing to let Lt. Yates do the talking, contenting himself with studying the Colonel's reaction, and those of his staff. He sends one whistful look out of the viewport window at the Blackjack group, then turns back to the group inside the observation deck. And while Elias looks like he may still have something to say, he's waiting to hear the reaction from the Colonel before he ventures anything further.

Galloway watches Yates and glances to his own staff, then back. "No skin off my back. We'll send a Raptor and do this dance three or four times. Eventually someone will talk to someone else. In the meantime, we're gearing up for maneuvers and a strike inside the following week. This ship is committed for the evening. You'll be asked to confine yourselves to your Raptor in this case. Nobody will molest you and you'll be cleared to return once we can jump this ship back to another location. If you attempt to leave the hangar deck before you have take off clearance, it will be considered a hostile act." He lifts his brow, looking around at the three. "Any questions, Lieutenants?"

"Sir," Elias steps forward to address both the Colonel and the other officers from the command group. "There is something vital I think you need to know." He pauses long enough to throw a questioning look back to Yates and Kingsbury. "I'll take responsibility for this," he assures the other two Lieutenants, but he does wait to see if they're going to agree or protest.

Kingsbury shakes his head, watching Galloway for a long moment before looking to Elias. Then he takes a deep breath, lips pursed. But he nods. Once. Sharply. A displeased gesture, but understanding what's at stake.

Yates aims a sharp look at Gray before she gives a grudging nod.

Galloway stares at Elias, noting the other reactions around him out of his periphery. "That's not a question, Lieutenant." Its pretty clear that the Colonel is not happy with how this has all turned out thus far. "Say it and if its vital I am going to sit here and hope that you had always intended to pass it along."

Elias draws a deep breath, composing himself before he launches off. Here goes nothing. "We encountered a group of Colonial Fleet personnel recently, who turned out to be hostiles. One was taken alive. I interviewed this man myself in the sickbay of the Orion. He had … non-Colonial technology implanted in his body, sir." Elias pauses, looking uneasy. "We confirmed his identity as an officer in the Colonial Fleet, previously reported missing. But he now appears to have two distinct personalities. One of which appears to be Cylon. It /may/ be that he is just insane, sir. But I don't think so. He gave a an alpha-numeric designation to identify himself. I spent several years at 7th Fleet Intel as part of the Cylon Studies Group, sir. This was a dead-on match for a Centurion identification number." Elias pauses for just a second to let that sink in. "We believe the Cylons may be able to use these implants to 'download' a Centurion's personality into a human body. We don't yet know if this is widespread or not, but if it were, we have problems beyond just killing Basestars, sir." Elias takes another deep breath. "I believe we need to concentrate our forces and come up with a new strategy, if this is the case, sir."

"This is, as I have said, and as Lt. Gray is explaining, not a joke or something we are saying to you - all of you - as some sort of flight of fancy," Yates interjects at the end of Elias's words. "The game, sir, is changing up from just the skinned models and the metal ones we're all familiar with, the weapons they're using to combat our fighter assaults and the rest of the not inconsiderable weaponry that they can bring to bear. It's not just rumor, sir, which is why proving that we are not a trio of Cylon's s just as difficult to prove that anyone else isn't. I believe that command would prefer," she does NOT cast a sidelong look at Elias, "to give more details. We did, however, mention it when Major Dawes was speaking with us originally."

Kingsbury shifts. He has nothing to add, of course. He just watches and tries not to fidget much. He mostly succeeds.

Galloway listens to all of this, eyes moving between all of them. Nobody in the room says a word while the Colonel chews in this info. After a few moments, he nods. "Great. Okay, I'll order us not to pick up any survivors. Medical will be unhappy. Its the only prudent thing to do. But as you said, I'm sure Command would prefer to tell this stuff. And I'll be speaking to Dawes about your conversation, you don't need confirm it for me. Now if you'll excuse me, I have emergencies to attend to. Marines, escort these crew to their Raptor and be sure they understand their position." He looks over their uniforms for some indications to name before turning and heading off. Its going to be a long, lonely night.

Elias waits tensely while the Colonel digests the information, and relaxes only a little bit when the commander's reaction does not involve anything worse then being confined their Raptor. After letting out the breath he was holding, Elias says a subdued farewell to Galloway. "Good hunting, sir." Their Marine detail gets a strained smile from Elias, and he turns back to Yates and Kingsbury with the same expression. "Well … good thing I don't have a career to worry about anymore…"

"On the up side, we are still not radioactive shrapnel," Yates remarks in a rather calm undertone once the colonel takes his leave, glancing sidelong then from Gray to Kingsbury and back. "I brought cards and there's some books as well. But I am not letting Royal pick the music."

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