AWD #449: Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers
Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers
Summary: Under the guise of a training exercise, a group from the Air Wing and Marine Corps travel to a set of coordinates provided by the ghostly Piraean Captain as an answer to what they were fighting against in their lifetime. What they find leaves no one untouched.
Date: 13/09/2016
Related Logs: A Brace of Favours, Recruitment
Elena Kapali Kelsey Randy Ward 
Pireaus - Coordinates
See log body for desc…

With the mission clock ticking, it was floated as a low level training op for Elena as a cover for the real mission. Theoretically they would practice combat-dropping Marines in tight terrain about 20 miles southeast of Sheridan. She was surprised to see so many people gathered at the Raptor when it's time to kick the tires. Kitted out with smoke rockets and marking bombs, the Raptor looks fitted for training. That's how they take-off, too. Nothing out of the ordinary. The JG in charge of the mission, technically, has Elena drive from the Pilot In Command chair. Kelsey is up front in the co-pilot seat. She directs the Ensign towards the identified coordinates.

As they approach it becomes easy to see why there might be something missed down here. The valley floor is only about a quarter mile wide with a river running through it. There is a thick forest of pine coating most of the ground while is up at about 7500 above sea level. On each side of them the mountains rise up to nearly fourteen thousand feet and the valley becomes more narrow. With scattered clouds overhead and chilly weather, it looks like a beautiful day.

Descending to about 600 feet off the ground, the ECO starts pounding the area with millimeter band dradis, ground mapping every square inch that can be viewed or seen from any angle around the trees. They're just approaching the coordinates when the ECO sings out, "Ah, Lieutenant, we've got something down there under the trees." Up ahead there is a very flat area, still covered with trees, about 1/4 mile across, nearly squared. It would be almost impossible to see from a purely top-down view of photo reconnaissance. But from this slow, shallow approach, anyone can look out the front canopy and see it. "Looks like multiple metallic bubbles on that flat area. Can't make it out, sir." A pause for a few seconds. "Secondary contact, uhhhh," he peers closer. "Looks like something on the side of the mountain at one o'clock, probably at an opening of trees. The area indicated looks like a shaded area, almost like a cavern, well-shaded by trees.

<FS3> Elena rolls Piloting: Good Success.

Elena flies the Raptor down into atmo beautifully. "Are you seeing anywhere to land?" she asks, scanning the horizon with her eyes.

Drop training, that was precisely what the doctor; or rather the rust of years off, called for. Ward Casemant had just barely stepped off of his arrival Raptor and gone through procedures of getting assigned and checked in when the rumors of this drop training exercise reached him. Since it was for volunteers he figured it was a good opportunity to ease himself back into some of this Marining business. He'd kept himself quiet. Quiet on the deck, quiet while climbing on the Raptor and quiet the whole way through. Were it not for his size, he might be good at hiding in fact. As it is, the most recent arrival to the Orion, by way of Aerilion, occupied his seat on the Raptor with a growing look of skepticism on his features, expanding with each passing minute.

Just because it's a training op doesn't mean that Kapali skimps on so much as a single piece of combat gear, including her tricked out field first aid kit with it's smiley faced bandages, decorated by yours truly. Secured in the Raptor with everyone else, one hand resting on the Rifle slung across her chest, the other holding equally as tight to the straps holding her in place, Kapali's has her boots braced against the floor even as she's eyeing what can be seen through the thick view ports on the side of the raptor. Seeing the look of skepticisim on the face of the not diminuitively framed new arrival, one Corporal Casemant, Kapali's own expression turns to one of mild amusement as she tips a nod in his direction.

It's pretty easy to sell taking the newly tranferred Corporal along with her EOD mini(not)-me for the Sergeant and Ward was a no brainer. "Hey look Kappa. Disappearing act," she says from behind Ward somewhere, strapped into the Raptor. Randy has made sure the Marines are kitted out so they're practicing will be worth a damn. She glances sidelong, but mostly up at the tower of a guy sitting beside her to obviously check out his reaction. "Stay sharp," she mumbles.

Kelsey's eyes widen as she looks over the terrain in front of them. As she catches the flatter area she sits up straighter in her ejection seat and takes up binoculars. Pressed to her eyes, she scans the area. "Nothing like where we can put it down on that flat area." For Ward it might be a little odd seeing these two officers up front. One looks like she's just tripped 21 and the other barely out of high school. The binoculars drop to her lap. "Well, looks like Shackleton's information was legitimate. Ensign, right there." She aims a finger at the cave entrance. "I want you to touch down at the entrance. Do not put us under the overhang. This is not a combat landing so ease it in." She's certainly got the air of someone who knows what they are doing. Leaning around the seat, she then points to Randy. "Sergeant, Shackleton is not on this op so I'm deferring command. This is a ground operation now. Once we get boots off this Raptor, you're in command. But we are going to recon the ground here and see what we can see. We are weapons hold. No gunfire except in self defense. Maximum safety, maximum respect. If this is something important I don't want to piss anything off." She looks to the others in back. "Everyone, turn on your GoPro's. Everything is filmed." She then looks back forward.

Assuming Elena heads that direction, the Raptor moves forward towards the entrance to the cavern. As they approach, they can tell something very quickly - this is not a natural formation. There's something that looks like a 6' thick reinforced concrete archway for the entrance. Some it looks collapsed, though. Water over thousands of years may have done its damage, and it has also eroded the outside, leaving the interior still mostly intact. As they settle in, the cavern looks ramrod straight and turns completely black about 100 feet inside. A few boulders and collapsed concrete slaps and rocks litter the flat, paved floor. Paved. The section the land on has grass growing from it but the way the skids touch down, it feets just as solid as an aircraft parking ramp.

The ECO is looking forward and flips on the lights. As soon as he does everyone has the barest blink of an eye to see something before the whole cavern is lit. At the end, about 100 meters down they can see bunker ramparts and a thick vault door that looks to have finally rusted and fallen off the massive hinges, the lights not able to get an angle to see further in.

<FS3> Kapali rolls Alertness: Great Success.
<FS3> Elena rolls Piloting: Success.
<FS3> Elena rolls Alertness: Success.
<FS3> Ward rolls Alertness: Good Success.
<FS3> Randy rolls Alertness: Good Success.

The Raptor is landed securely, Elena looks up from her controls into the cavern. She gasps, then blinks. She shakes her head, popping her helmet. "Please tell me you saw that," she says, eyes fixed on the darkness.

A slow movement from Ward occurs as the pilots discuss the landing procedure and what they are scanning over. His ears catch some of it but the movement has his focus as he pulls a piece of pilfered gum from one of his pockets; a leftover brought with him from 'home'. Placing the chewing tablet into his mouth he glances first at Kapali and then towards Randy, an eyebrow is quirked at both along with a narrowly lopsided smirk. "Ain' no drop trainin'." His country accent present before he looks up through the viewport during the descent. Into the cavern, the darkness and the brief moment of light cross paths, Ward's eyes blinking a moment after. "Tha's somethin' weird."

Leaning as far forward as the safety harness will allow, Kapali eyes switches on the GoPro and twists slowly so that the camera gets as much of the view from the canopy as possible, eyes sweeping the terrain before her breath hitches rather louder than intended. "Sarge," keeping her voice level as she quells the surprise, "yeah. We have company, sarge," she flexes one hand on the rifle then leans deliberately back to wait for the raptor to touch down. "Quick glimpse, Sarge, maybe a score or so, full kit and all, the captain up front, all formal like, everyone tricked out. Only saw 'em for half a sec, if that." She flicks a glance back toward Randy, skimming a look over Ward in the process, studying him for a silent moment before she shifts again toward Randy. "Weaving a basket, Sarge," the rather cryptic remark is all she says before easing back around to face fully forward again.

Randy pulls the head cams from her trusty black duffel she's been sporting at her feet and hands them out. "Sorry, should have gotten these to you guys sooner," but they have more than enough time to fix the attachments to their helmets. Randy makes quick work of hers and then helps the others if they need it. Then she flicks it over to record. "Hear you loud and clear Sir." Randy checks her rifle and then nods. "Marines. We could be entering sacred ground. We do not want to piss off any locals. Treat it like you would your own grandmother's house…and that doesn't mean stealing candies out from under her blind nose." That's pretty much the sum of her pep talk. "You heard the LT. Let's scour the ground and re-" And that's when Randy stops talking and unstraps herself to stand up. "No shite," Randy offers Ward in return followed by a whisper of a chuckle. "Were those /the/ soldiers? Friendlies?"

Kelsey is busy flipping switches. She doesn't seem to be paying any attention just yet to what the cavern holds. She's unbuckling her harness when she hears the words and looks up. Eyes drift over the cavern and then to Elena. "Saw what?" Leaning forward, she peers down the cavern and spots the door. "Yeah, looks like some kind of bunker door. I'd say this qualifies as something worth seeing." She kicks a finger to the ECO and he pops the door. "Everyone out. Jackson, you're staying with the Raptor. If we aren't back in one hour, radio Orion and tell them what we found and what's going on. If anything except us comes out, seal the Raptor and call for close air support."

The Raptor's door unseals and the cool mountain air flows. It's about 50F outside and the breeze brings in the scent of Piraean pines and granite. Once they're outside, they can see that the harder area of the ground seems to flow down towards the flat area. But the ground beneath the grass feels like crumbled rock. A closer look and it looks black and grey, but there's no volcano for hundreds of miles. Eyes that drift towards the lit cavern can see a few things. A faded yellow bar runs at shoulder level down each side. There is writing on the walls in white, but its hard to make out. By the armored door at the end there's something glittering on the ground, like a sea, shifting as they move.

Elena unstraps herself, secures the GoPro, and steps slowly out of the Raptor. She looks around, trying to take it all in. "What is this place?" she asks softly, trying to be respectful.

Around a snap of gum, Ward comments wryly, "Treat it like grandma's house? So you want me to find prostitutes here?" The dry tone of his voice floats and he places the cam into position before sliding out of the Raptor in one of those standard Marine poses. Sliding out of course is being generous since he has to duck and kind of turn to get his body out of the Raptor onto the ground beneath him.

Following Ward out of the Raptor, Kapali makes a startled snerk of sound, unexpectedly amused, "I think she means don't be a bull in a china shop and break stuff," comes her voice over the comm as she sets boots on the ground and ranges out a few steps, panning slowly up, around, left then right again and around. With Ward on point, she walks a full circuit of the Raptor, studying the surround and even when she returns to the side of the Raptor she spends more time studying the area around than the cavern itself.

"Keep it respectful Casemant," Randy says, suddenly her tone much more serious. "Move out. Do not touch /anything/. We don't know if there are traps or what is going on here. Fan out. Do not get spooked into doing something stupid. Some weird things might happen." Randy obviously knows more than what she's been letting on to some of the Marines. She touches Kelsey on the elbow and says, "Sergeant Flynn reporting at," she says the coordinates, obviously reporting this part for the recording's sake. "Squire, a few of us saw an apparition of what might have been the Captain's. I think you must have been looking away," she explains as everyone searches the grounds.

Kelsey glances to Elena, then back to the entrance. "Best guess? This looks like a bunker. A seriously badass one." She says it as she hops out onto the ground. She hands Elena a flashlight from the Raptor and takes one from her own gear. Kelsey has her usual combat kit, too. She doesn't fly a Raptor without looking like she's ready to eject behind enemy lines. Never again. A flashlight is taken from hers, but the gun remains holstered. When Randy touches her arm, she looks back, surprised. About to ask Captain Who, the words die on her lips. Right. "Okay, well. Wanna check out the bunker? I personally would like to see what's behind door number one. But this is your command now so I'll just say that as a suggestion, Sergeant." She seems to mean it. Squire has seen too much to know what happens when Air Wing people try to command Marines around.

The Ensign digs the toe of her boot into the sparkly substance on the ground. "Sure. Let's, uh, let's check the bunker." She wanders over to look at the writing on the wall, entranced.

Moving further in the lights from the Raptor cast long and then longer shadows on the ground. It's as ghostly as the apparitions a few of them saw. Deep in here, their voices echoes and the air chills a little more. There's the feeling that they are entering a mausoleum. The write writing is done in block lettering, but is so faded that its almost impossible to make out except for some of the corners and accent marks. It looks official, though. Above them there are dark, square recesses in the ceiling that probably held light fixtures at some point. The glass on the floor beneath them seems to confirm it. As they get closer to the door, though, they can make out just what the glittering is on the ground.

Shell casings. Thousands of them.

Blown with the wind over centuries, maybe millenia, they've all ended up at this end of the entrance, the sewer grate nearby seemingly still functioning because the air back here feels very dry. There's even a low whistle of air passing over the crumpled remains of the heavy door. That item is about fifteen feet across and about four feet thick. It apepars to have fallen off in place and tumbled to the ground when some of the overhead rock buckled. The locking bolts on the sides, however, look to have been melted clean through. It owuld have left the door able to swing freely. With their lights moving into the entry left open by the fallen door, they can see a room with twin metal doors. There's the remains of something that may have been furniture, but only scraps this far in the past. The ceiling tiles have collapsed and rotted away millenia ago, leaving the room looking almost skeletal. Rodents and woodland creatures must have picked everything in there apart long before the Colonies were even settled.

The casings get a gentle nudge from Ward's foot before he crouches down to pick one up gently and roll it over between his fingers. A look over the metal and he straightens, eyes casting back towards the others. "What's the move boss ma… boss lady?" The question is directed towards Randy, the big lug quirking an eyebrow at her.

<FS3> Randy rolls Demolitions: Good Success.
<FS3> Kapali rolls Engineering: Good Success.
<FS3> Elena rolls Not Freaking Out: Success.

"Kapali. I want you to keep your eyes peeled on our surroundings and the structural integrity. You're going to be our canary here. On point. No one goes anywhere Corporal Kapali has not okayed," Randy says as soon as they enter the bunker. When Ward tries to pick up a shell casing, Randy says, "Be careful Corporal. We can ruin anything here just with the oils on our skin." Randy levels her gaze on Ward. "Can you get a good recording of that writing?" she asks him before she heads over to inspect and film the penetration techniques she finds as she moves from the outside-in approach, documenting it in a low tone. "Not oxy-acetylene," Randy can be heard mumbling to her recording. "Showing signs of heating and cooling."

"That means they've been shot?" Ellie asks, unhelpfully. Her eyes go wide when Ward starts playing with the artifacts. "Dude, what did she /just/ say?" she levels at him, putting her hands on her hips.

"Copy that, Sarge, on point," Kapali says as she tracks Ward's position as he steps forward, shell casings crunching or .. well flattening, or possibly crumbling, beneath his boot even as she moves forward as well, stepping lightly past Ward and studying the cavern and ceiling, one step at a time. "Decibel check," she warns in a quiet voice. "Ceiling looks stable," and she scrapes the edge of one boot against the floor before walking to the nearest wall and resting one hand - lightly - on the surface. She tips her head back, staring upward, panning upward as well with the light on the end of the rifle, letting the camera take in the images as well before she exhales. "Rules. Keep voices low, don't touch anything that looks like it's even remotely a load bearing beam of any kind, don't push on any levers, cogs, buttons, switches, depression points, etcetera etcetera," each word is quietly spoken and spaced for emphasis before she makes a slow, cautious, study of the entrance then shares a nod with Randy. "This area is secure, like is was built to withstand those bunker buster bombs, the .." she waves one hand in a gesture, "shell itself is stable. I make no guarantees about the side of the mountain, though, that's geology and I'm not a savant."

Kelsey wanders, but doesn't touch anything. She's just glad she's wearing her warm flightsuit for this. The pilot just looks over the sea of shell casings with a long face. The kind that's remembering something. Seconds pass before she turns away and looks to Elena. "Ensign," she says quietly. "Show respect to the Marines. You will address him as the rank he's earned, as you'd want him to for you. This also Sergeant Flynn's command at the moment." She smiles and rests a gloved hand on the girl's shoulder. "What's our motto?" No, probably not expecting an answer. But she does move off to look at the twin metal doors still attached to their frames. "Anyone's guess what's behind doors two and three?" Her flashlight moves over the frame, listening to Kapali. She just nods slowly, staring. "How is this possible when the colonials have never been here before?" she whispers.

The doors take some tugging. They don't come open at the first try. The keypad on the rusted metal wall beside it tells why. But on the second yank it starts to give. There's a sudden whistling of air, and then the third time is the charm. The doors come open and promptly come off the hinges. They begin to tumble towards the ground and clatter there if nobody stops them. They're about 100 pounds each and the exterior looks to have been made of titanium. The edges look to have some kind of plastic sealant on them where it looks like it had nearly melted together over the years. But there's the feeling of the breeze blowing against them from down the opening in front of them. Positive pressure. The whole facility had kept an airtight seal this whole time. Or at least this section had. Ahead of them they are looking at a small greeting hall. The mostly tattered remains of couches are shoved in different directions. They look torn up and shot to shit. There's shell casings that roll across the floor, clinking as they door in the breeze as it tapers off. There's solid support colums holding up the concrete roofing with pipes running every direction. The whole place looks to have been hermetically sealed with very few signs of wear and tear except for the obvious destruction here. There's blast burns and damage along the walls and floor from grenades and bulletholes everywhere. There's even still the scent of cordite in the air. How is that even possible? But its cold in here. Colder than outside. The sort of chill that invades the spine and doesn't leave. To the left and right are separate corridors, and a bank of elevator doors at the center of the room behind what was probably once a receiving desk.

"Frak," Randy says when she hears the air hiss. With the smells in the air, the sound of air hissing out, and her two-bit training she got from Thanos.

Ward casts a glance behind him momentarily, that lopsided smirk on his lips present before he nods in the direction of Rando. "On it." He makes his way over to the writing, walking in a deliberate manner to record it over with the camera. Slow steps, steady measuring, all with the intent to make a good clean recording for others. When he's done, he'll move to tag along, lending his mass to moving the doors and steadying things.

"Frak," Randy says when she hears the air hiss. With the smells in the air, the sound of air hissing out, and her two-bit training she got from Thanos, she knows something is bad, or is it good? Randy can't remember. "Let's try and keep our impact here a minimum. I don't want anyone wandering off alone. No one put any weight on that lift. Let's investigate this main room, then we can work our way through. Let's seal this entrance first so we don't let anything in or out if possible. We have any plastic or anything? I've got some tape here in my kit."

Kapali moves, instinctively, to try to help catch the doors so that they don't fall to the floor and do something catastrophic, like set off some sort of cave in or alarm or booby trap or just rudely announce that visitors have arrived and are breaking shit. She works with Ward to ease the bloody door down and only then does she answer Randy's question: "I have one of those thermal blanket things in my kit, you know the silver ones, space blanket things, looks like a tarp," Kapali murmurs as she unclips the kit from her side and offers it to Randy. "And duct tape," because she's a marine, of course she carries duct tape into combat.. er into a training mission kitted out like it's a real combat situation. That's her story and she's sticking to it. She crosses the threshold in the same careful manner, stepping lightly, shifting her weight forward from one foot step to the next, sweeping another long, very slow, look around, and as much UP as around than not. She gives a mild, then not mild, shudder of a shiver at the chill in the air then paces around the circuit of the room, examining the walls and the flooring all along the way. The lift is eyed, and with a wary approach she rests one hand on the door of the lift itself, frowning at the doors before turning back to the desk and carefully easing open any drawers that might be there, looking for anything written down that might've survived the span of time this room has been sealed. "Sarge, if the lift shaft is stable, then we might be able to power it with a portable generator." She states that as a potential option even as she continues to carefully examine the desk.

Kelsey goes frozen with what they find on the other side. "Oh my Gods," she breathes before it catches in her throat. She forces herself to swallow to get herself breathing again. Randy's words bring her back and she looks over. "Uh, yeah, yeah.." A few blinks ot get her brain restarted. Her radio is taken up while she lets her flashlight wander. "Jackson, grab the sealant kit from the Raptor and the crash tarps. Get your ass up here now and seal the double-doorway just inside the main bunker door." There's a scratchy protest before she loses her shit minorly. "I don't GIVE A FRAK!! GET UP HERE NOW AND FOLLOW YOUR FRAKKING ORDERS!" It's hissed into the radio about as loud as she's willing to speak, stepping into the room and looking back to the doors. in a few moments time they're going to hear someone's boots running at full speed up the asphalt floor in the tunnel. Looking back to Randy, she takes a breath, trying to steady her nerves. "He'll seal us in. We've got a couple emergency shelter tarps. They're waterproof. Best we can do for now, Sergeant. I'll reseal it when we walk out of here." Hopefully.

Randy prepared for this trip, mentally even more so than physically, but she's trained to go calm when facing unknowns. But in the light of such strangeness they uncover, the calm in the Sergeant is just as eerie. Whether it inspires calm or the opposite in the others comes down to the individuals themselves. She seems to be brushing everything they uncover aside rather easily, at least on the surface it seems that way. She's waiting for answers to unfold. "That'll be a lot better than nothing," she replies calmly, before lifting a fist to blow some warm air through. Not much meat on the bones. Her dark eyes graze over the evidence of carnage and she makes a note of the scent of cordite while staring blankly for a moment. She shivers and shakes her head to Kapali. "Let's check out what's easiest before we go sinking time into getting anything working. Left corridor, I'll take point," she keeps her voice low. It's like moving through a mausoleum.

Kelsey reaches into her survival vest and hands over two packets. "Crack them in your fist. Hand warmers." She holds up her glove. She's cozy. But with the order to move out, her nervousness is visible on her face. She made the order happen and now Squire has to suck on it. Swallowing hard, she just nods and holds up her light. Moving to follow Randy, she stays close behind with the other Marines while the ECO works on his seal for the door.

Moving left, the corridor seems to branch off in a few directions for offices. The gunfire damage doesn't seem to let up. There's shell casings everywhere. As they move down the corridor, about 100 yards in, they come upon a sign of something. When clearing a corridor to the right, in a corner is something they probably didn't expect to find. Or did they. On th ground is a rifle - exactly like the ones the ghost army used. Over time it has been degraded and looks brittle, but the plastic buttstock and handguards are still in perfect condition. Right next to them? The desecated remains of what looks very much like a human body. Clothing has long since fallen away, but the skin has become like tough leather and hugs the bones. Empty eyeballs stare back at them, jaw left hanging open. Metal dogtags around the neck. The kevlar plates from their armor have sunk into the body, the skin having tightened around them. A hole in the skull tells a drizzly death. Magazines lay on the floor beside it, as does a helmet with a neat hole poked through the side to match the headwound.

Randy flicks the light attachment on her rifle on as they enter the corridor. She focuses heavily on absorbing her surroundings, allowing the others behind her to document things along the way. Her first priority is safety. She moves off to the right, the light from her rifle first falling on the sunken holes where eyes used to be. Randy lifts her hand to her mouth and then digs into one of her pockets to pull out a dark blue bandana to tie up over her face like a makeshift balaclava. She moves into a squat and gets closer to the corpse using the barrel of her rifle to try and turn the tags a way she can read them without disturbing the body for now. "Gods…"

Kelsey steps around the corner after and stops in her tracks. No, this is definitely not something she wanted to see. 'But I'm a cheerleader!' crosses her mind for a moment, her brain trying to hide behind innocence. But it's no use. There's no un-seeing this. The flashlight trembles in her hand before she forces herself to look away back down the corridor.

The corridor hallway has msot of the interior, wood doors long fallen off hinges and laying on the floors of the interior rooms. The metal ones to secured areas are still standing, a testament to the construction of the facility. But the tags Randy moves with her rifle are brittle, like most else. They snap in half at the movement, the thin metal barely able to handle any touch. But the raised writing is still clear in that foreign language. The long oval shapes list five lines that could be anyone's guess. But the top is very likely their name.

"Oops. And…that's why we don't touch anything," Randy announces to the group behind her when the metal snaps. She angles herself and her light a little to get better imagery of the marks and shapes. "Could signify blood type?" Randy posits to the recording. She takes some stills as well before committing it to memory as best she can. Then she moves the lens over the rifle, not touching it at all. What horrible things has she seen to keep her so calm while staring at desiccated corpses is anyone's guess, but the Sergeant seems to keep it together save for a gag reflex that kicks in once, nope twice when she's least expecting it. She rises up and coughs it out a little. "I can't believe this is still here…I mean, Kelsey," she uses the pilot's first name without thinking. "Sir, this could provide dna samples." Yet another reason not to touch anything. "Frak, I don't know anything about bodies, but I can't imagine one that's been dead any serious amount of time would do well with the open air…" Randy knows what she has to do, but it doesn't make it any easier to think about. Sure, she could just order someone else to do it, but this is Flynn. She steps away from the corpse to pull a hand light from her pack and she digs out what looks like a sandwich bag, unused. She also grabs a twisty tie from where she has some wound to the laces of her boot. Then she pulls her knife from her boot and uses some alcohol from Kapali's first aid kit to sterilize the blade. She positions herself back in front of the body and then says in a low voice, "Okay Captain…if this is not okay I need a sign. Otherwise, I'm taking back some so we can find out more about this person." Then she waits. She doesn't even know if the ghosts they saw were the same ones she knows of.

Kelsey steps off to look down the hall and then looks back at hearing her name. Any propriety of rank is gone for her. She looks shaken and pale in the low light. She just stares at Randy, unable to formulate a response for the moment. The girl has seen a lot, but never this. Dead people is one thing, "This is a tomb, Randy," she whispers. "We're in a war grave. Gods, we're in a war grave older than the colonies. This is wrong. It's all wrong." Watching Randy work, she shudders and crushes her eyes shut before turning away. "Randy, Randy don't," she whispers. "Please. What if these were your family?" Kelsey lets her head lead as she turns away around the corner and turns off her light, leaning against the wall.

But there is no sign. Only silence. Randy can feel the eyes on her, though. No direction of feeling given, just the weight.

"My family?" The Sergeant looks up at Kelsey, but her face is covered in shadow as the light glares harshly on what's left of the legs of the corpse. It's impossible to read her expression even if she didn't have the bandana. "I'd want to know. I'd want them to get..a proper burial." The Marine looks back at the corpse. When Kelsey turns away and escapes into the darkness, it's only her and and the body of the fallen soldier and the eyes. Randy speaks a prayer, though it isn't to the many gods. There's the sound of a knife sliding against leather. Randy rises, leaving the sack and the tie there on the ground. "Let's move on. We're here because the Captain wanted to show us something." Her voice sounds a different, a touch hollow.

Coming around the corner, Kelsey is standing there with her back to the wall, looking at the ground. She whispering something to herself, likely a childhood prayer. Something she hasn't done for a very long time. There was not outward reaction from her at the sound, but she stops Randy with a hand on her arm. "Please, don't do that again. Promise me." The Lieutenant's voice is a little shaken, but she isn't breaking down. But there is a quiet plea there. No more words, though, Her light goes back on as they move.

The corridor leads them around to another turn and what looks like a security checkpoint. It was. There's five bodies there, all of them in similar shape as the last. The elevator doors behind the checkpoint have fallen away and a flashlight down the hole doesn't even reach the bottom, it just continues down into nothingness. The other door shows an emergency stairwell that looks to have been the point of the defense, the door left propped open by one of the bodies. They don't go up, only down. Much like the rest of the structure, there's large, thick metal column running the vertical. The concrete steps still look intact. …Its warmer in the stairwell. Only just.

Randy rounds the corner quietly and stops at Kelsey's touch. "I'm trying to do the right thing. Not for me…for the mission. Sometimes, that means doing things that don't seem popular or safe," the Sergeant says quietly. "I might have just blown the key to all of this, to who these people were." Because sometimes, leading is a gamble…no better than a calculated risk. But still, even with her words, something, not just Kelsey, caused her to not go through with it. She moves on, passing Kelsey and leading the group towards the security checkpoint. She hasn't bothered to remove the bandana, which is probably a good thing. After having the group hold so she can check out the structural integrity, Randy supervises helping get people through the door in the stairwell without disturbing the body propping it open. Then she starts the descent.

The stairwell is a nightmare. Its dark and there's more bodies and no doors. It just keeps going down with no sign of it ending. But around each corner there are more bodies. The soldiers that died here put up a defense down to the last man. The place smells like concrete and bone. The taste of death is in everyone's mouth except Randy's. They can tell they are getting close to the bottom, though, when the bodies stop wearing body armor and carrying rifles. Handguns left to the side. Most of them fired empty, the metal slide-locks still holding the slide in place somehow. But they can also tell because it's getting warmer down here. Twenty minutes in, forty to go. Climbing those stairs again will take a bit, too. When they finally hit the bottom, though, there's a solid metal door that looks to have been blown open. It lays on the floor of the room beyond. A huge cavern. It's warm here, a dry feeling in the mid 70's. But inside, each and everyone can feel the ice cold chill. Upstairs there were eyes. Down here? They are not alone. No one can see them as they approach the door, but they can feel them. Dozens of eyes on them. Maybe more. The sort of feeling nobody walks away from and forgets about. The last chance to turn away and leave this where it is. Where it has been for thousands of years.

Breathing through clenched teeth, as much because she THINKS it should smell worse than it does, as because there is the unmistakable scent that is unique to long dead bodies, Kapali is making her way forward, or rather downward, one measured step at a time. NOT because it's a fantastic idea, but because it has to be done, and she - like it or not - has 'volunteer' issues. Which is to say , she keeps volunteering. Her skin crawls with the impression, real or imagined, that there is something here in the deep, and a cold shiver runs along her spine, making her hair stand on end, all of which makes her twitchy as hell. "Still weaving a basket, Sarge," she mutters and winces as her voice echoes back at her in a way that is just downright frakking creepy as all frak.

With the stairwell being clogged with bodies, Randy doesn't try to make her way to the front. She tugs the bandanna down on the bridge of her nose to keep her mouth relatively covered. The descent is simply a nightmare. At one point, she almost steps through one of the bodies, but is able to recover her balance to avoid it. "I'm glad," she says back to Kapali. The experience leaves her still shaking a touch once they finally hit the bottom. She steps forward to stand in front of the fallen door, eyes sweeping the cavern. "We're here." She wipes her hands off on her pants, trying to also get rid of her jitters and give herself a moment to not speak, compose herself even as the presence of the eyes feels like a persistent pressure like a weight hung round one's neck. "Kapali, stay on point. I'll take up the rear. Same rules apply," she says in a low voice.

"Let's go in there and see why it's so silly to be afraid of the dark," Randy directs the group.

Kelsey is breathing through her mouth, if only just to make sure she doesn't stop breathing otherwise. Slow, measured breaths. She tries very hard to not look at the bodies, but she can't help it sometimes. These are the things you never, ever forget. They haunt dreams. At least her gun is still holstered, though. When they reach the bottom, her light hovers in the doorway as if afraid to illuminate what be beyond it. But with the orders, she moves in behind Kapali, left hand holding the light and right hand by her sidearm, fingers ready to twitch it right out.

The eyes. As they step beyond the threshold, they can feel more than just the eyes. They can feel people standing around them as if there were hundreds of them. To reach out might expect to meet fabric or flesh, but there's simply nothing there. Even a hint of whispers right at the edge of hearing, but to hear them only invites the question of whether or not they are even there. Even a few feet in, the feeling electrifies the spine and invites the fight or flight instincts. It doesn't get any better as they move further in.

Beneath their feet is poured concrete with some kind of non-slip coating on it. The light on the floor colors it a light grey with a smattering of light dust. There are no footprints, though. As the lights lift, the first thing they cross is a metal railing and a drop-off about twenty feet from the door, perpendicular to it, as if they were walking right out to a cliff's edge. The plastic railing looks to have been broken through in several places and left busted, but the posts still stand like grave markers. Approaching the edge, their lights shine down and slowly move out. Ahead of them, the cavern opens up. There are rows on computer consoles and work stations, maybe a dozen of them, set up in chevrons that would have allowed the workers to face ahead at a slightly offset angle. Gunfire looks to have smashed many of the screens. Bodies and shellcasings litter the floors. As the lights lift, the lights can barely catch what is on the far wall: Six huge screens, three on the bottom slightly smaller and the three on top much larger. Even as they stand at the edge to the ten foot drop, they can start to feel it - movement beside them. Invisible bodies standing close, staring forward as if looking on with them. Below, there eyes of hundreds can be felt staring back up at them. Every sound echoes, every whisper carries. It's room temperature warm here, but inside their bodies it feels like ice.

More than just people died here with all of the bodies.

Intangible things.



Without conscious thought, Kapali had lowered her weapon so that it is aimed, safely, at the floor, and flicks on the flashlight that's clipped to her vest instead, the beam angled so that it pans across her field of vision, depending on of course which way she's facing. She moves forward, taking point, placing her feet with care, mindful of that which she may be stepping on, but more so than just that, out of a sense of profound respect. Somewhere along the way the stoic, cynical, somewhat snarky young marine feels the dampness on her face and realizes that tears are streaking through the dust and sweat on her skin. She doesn't lift a hand to wipe the moisture away; at the very least the dead deserve a tear or two, no matter how long these bodies have been here.

She moves forward to the railing and pans, slowly, deliberately, across the room, taking her time so that the GoPro gets as many clear, unblurred, images before she moves her head again, incremental movements all the way.

She clears her throat, quietly, but the sound is jarring all the same. "This looks like it would've been, possibly, a command bunker of some sort. Soldiers out front on the battle line. First defenders. The soldiers in the facility itself would maybe have been fielded in stages, one element fighting after another. All the spent brass up there, all the bodies, soldiers to civilians until they got here. And I'd rather be wrong, but it looks like a slaughter in here as well. This was their last stand, do you suppose, Sarge?" she wonders in a low voice. "The image that the captain shared.. do you remember that feeling, that they were making their last stand, and that they knew it? I wonder if the captain was one of the soldiers out there in the tunnels."

For Randy, the whispers, the brushes with shadows of souls long since past, the things that are there but not there feels like the tickle of madness. One must give, yield, in order to survive. Today, she is yielding just another inch of her sanity, if not her soul. She squints in the darkness, the light from her rifle casting shadows at the feet of the real feet belonging to the real people in front of her. Her friends. Real. Yes. She breathes in warmth and breathes out cold. Everything here is dead and everything here dies. "Steady," a measure of gentleness and barely a whisper. As Kapali speaks, Randy remains silent, ghostly pale and stricken into a numb stare. "I don't know. Let's look for evidence of what or who was attacking…" She takes a deep breath and pulls her bandanna up over her face before saying, "Search for any adjacent chambers as well." She motions for each of them where they ought to cover so they aren't all stepping all over each other.

As Kelsey steps forward, she moves the light to keep it from showing that her hand is shaking. She isn't thinking about the GoPro. She's just staring. Like Kapali, she's openly crying but there's not a peep from her. No movements to wipe it away. Jaw trembling gently, her eyes move over the consoles and the bodies, just trying to take it in. There's just no way. Even at feeling the brushes against her she can't do anything else except just slowly go to a squat and hug herself. Looking out over the cavernous room, she breathes and cries in silence, listening to the Marines. With the order to move, her head bows and there's a quiet nod, slowly rising to move off. There's nothing for her to cover up with so she walks very slowly, avoiding looking too far ahead.

Kapali turns to glance first at Randy then at Kelsey and, in a move that is rather uncharacteristic to the somewhat trigger happy marine, she switches the rifle to safety mode and slings the weapon to the side. She moves to Randy first, then Kelsey, resting one hand on the shoulder of each and, with a tug as gentle as sufficient to draw the two of them to stand together for a moment. "We see things in our lives that we can't unsee. This is one of those things, one of those moments, and going down there is going to be even harder than it is standing up here. We can do this, I think maybe we're supposed to do this, ok?" glancing from face to face before she gives each another of those gentle hand on shoulder squeezes and steps back again, ready to take point once more.

There is a concrete staircase leading down to the command floor of the bunker. To each side the raised walkway goes towards command offices with blown-out glass windows that overlook the floor.

To the left, there's an office where most of the wood furniture has collapsed, including the bookshelves. The wood has nearly faded into nothing but dust piles. There are several bodies in there, all weapons fired empty. The anteoffice overlooks more directly with metal desks and chairs still standing. There are reams of binders and folders stacked up that look like they might fall apart at the first touch or even a little gust of breath. There are still some intact computers and screens in there, none of them looking like they've seen any use in a very long time.

To the right there is a large meeting room, the table looks like it had been turned over on its side and used as a firing position. The remains of the chairs can still be made out as if proving addition protection. There are half a dozen bodies behind it, including two that look like they died holding each other. There's a painting on the floor that still happens to have some color to it, the image difficult to make out. It looks like to unfamiliar fighter aircraft in formation with a setting star - the same color as the one the planet orbits. There is also the remains of more binders and folders, nothing that coul be touched without it falling apart.

The floor of the command deck is littered with bodies. Some of them died at their consoles, looking like they were still working when they were shot in the backs and heads. Many others surrounding them looked to be defending. Still more took cover to fight from behind the console lines. At the very front they find several fully armed and armored bodies, a light machine gun, and dozens of empty magazines. And one body with no armor laying on the ground with what had to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

<FS3> Randy rolls Alertness: Good Success.
<FS3> Kapali rolls ALERTNESS: Good Success.

Randy's eyes glint like polished stones in the ghostly light that bounces off the surfaces from their flashlights. She watches Kelsey squat down and cry until they're gathered up by Kapali. There's a hint of a smile and then it's gone. Her gaze is like lead as her focus swings to the front, back to the task at hand. She walks in slowly and stops to inspect the unarmored body with the head gunshot wound. First she films the soldiers around the figure, their equipment, a radio that looks like one of Knox's satcom packs. With her trained eye scouring the equipment, she's about to turn to film the fallen figure when her light catches a wire leading off from the radio kit. She pauses a moment and then moves to film the unarmored figure's body. Her hollowed eyes look not much different from the lifeless lense of her headcam, staring down at the carnage of the obviously important man. She films his stars and then rounds back to the wire, following it along till she spots a breaker box. She shifts through the space like walking through soup, the presences in the shadows pressing in. She shines her flashlight over the breakers and spots that most of them are in the OFF position, but that one of them is still ON. She tilts her head at the little mystery. "Hmm."

<FS3> Kapali rolls Body+mind: Failure.

Moving forward with measured reluctance, and with more actual reluctance than is pretty and with more effort to keep moving forward than she really wants to admit to, Kapali moves one shoulder, then the other, easing the tension that keeps tightening her muscles and driving the spikes of a tension headache into her brain with all the subtlety of an ice pick. Picking one of the rooms at random, though only after she'd kept a weather eye on Randy and Kelsey to make sure that they were moving forward as well, Kapali begins a slow - careful - methodical sweep of the room. She checks the walls and ceiling, even easing her weight forward one foot at a time along the floor, caution thy name is also Kapali. Making sure that the GoPro gets the images of the bodies, most of them civilian, and all riddled, literally, with huge amounts of gunfire to the point that the word 'overkill' barely seems to her eyes to scratch the surface. It's only as she's moving around the room a second time that she sees, of all things, a gleam of light dimly illuminating upward from beneath a bit of rug, maybe carpet? maybe industrial grade weave of one of a kind polymer that somehow stood to the test of time? but all the same, there's a gleam of light, of all things. She speaks into the com as she takes a knee, carefully easing the body that obscures it partially to the side and uses the edge of one of the knives she carries to move the rug to the side and clear the area around the keypad adjacent to the hatch that she now sees. "Sarge, I have a hatch, and a LED panel that.. still has power."

Kelsey steps into the command offices and looks over the destroyed and remains of the desks. Standing in the doorway, she just stares at the bodies and the guns. Memories of Picon flood her mind, everything suddenly feeling like it happened yesterday. The helplessness. The inability to do anything but try to kill more of them before they killed her. Or Petra. One thing does come back and it makes her take the steps inside and slowly pan the room with her light. Little metal bits by the bodies. She touches the edge of a folder and watches it turn to what looks like ash. The tears still fall but, she continues moving, filming everything without realizing it. With nothing else to be found, she steps back out and stands at the edge of the raised area, looking down, like stone. "We don't have long." The voice is very small, but it carries down here. But Kapali's voice has her lift her head and look that direction. "Without a powerplant, how is it even possible?"

Just as Randy's wondering how they're going to figure out what still had power at the time this place went to crap, Kapali reports in over comms. "That makes my end a little easier," which is probably an odd reply to something so bizarre in the first place. Level headed Marine? Kelsey got /some/ kind of version of that. Whether it's comforting or not is another matter entirely. "Well…Corporal, what's on the panel? Is the display on?"

"Ladies, I don't make the news, I only report it," comes Kapali's voice over the comm, though her tone of voice is, oddly enough, mildly amused. Seems like an odd twist to the mystery settled her nerves in some fashion. She leans closer, one hand VERY carefully and very lightly set against the floor, not on the hatch or on the panel or on the remains of the carpet or rug itself, but on the cold concrete floor, and leans closer…. until even then she's still squinty at the tiny dull red LET lit surface of the keypad. "It's a keypad. With tiny keys and red and green LED's above it. Could be a pass code. Could be the keys to the sound system. Could open this hatch. Maybe it's the fail safe trigger that seals the mountain in before it self implodes. I don't know, Sarge, and I'd rather not start pushing buttons randomly now and seeing what happens."

Kelsey looks between the two, standing quite a ways between them. She doesn't seem to have anything else to add. She ends up staring at a body at the bottom of the drop-off, eyes fixed while she tries to come to grips with all this. How can she tell someone about this? Where to even start?

"I think this place was in contact with our Captain. If they were talking to anyone, it would have been Command to get relief, but none was coming. This must have been happening at the same time roughly," Randy's brain seems to whir back to life a little. At this point, there's an electronic beeping. Their signal that they need to head back. "We need to regroup back with our ECO. We need specialized tools to deal with this and I'd rather have a suit. Meet back up where we split off and we'll head back from there."

Kapali studies the control panel, then the hatch, then the panel again and - rather meditatively - rests one hand on the rifle at her side. She calmly raps the end of the knife she's carrying against the hatch and listens, equally intently, with a rather speculative gleam on her face that, mercifully, no one living can actually see. With visible reluctance, she rises to her feet again, takes another moment to methodically pan the GoPro around the room, making it clear precisely where this panel and hatch are before she backtracks through the room to regroup with Randy and Kelsey.

Kelsey looks back to Randy and nods. She's already standing by the door. A long sigh leaves her and she tilts her head back as she looks back towards the door. The elevators are just to the side and more centered on the platform. As she does, her light sweeps it. There's a huge stencil of faded words across the wall done in very careful and lovingly done monogram. And a huge design on the wall above it. It's Piraeus, the globe, red lines encircling it with arrows pointed out and away. Above, a bird of prey perches as the protective guardian with wings spread. Kelsey finally opens her eyes to see it. Her camera pans across it slowly before she looks down and heads back for the door. No words.

Once she reaches where Randy and Kelsey are, in the main room, she notes, "The top of the hatch is concrete, but it looks like it might be metal beneath. No way to know for certain until we get it open. What ever it is, the hatch is definitely heavy. and there wasn't much fo any echo after I knocked on the hatch, politely knocked, so it could be shallow. When you're ready to pop the hatch, Sarge, I'd like to be part of the team," she asks this before she takes another long, slow, look around. By chance she happens to be watching as Kelsey pans her light across the wall and illuminates the huge design, the image itself - for reasons she can't immediately put words to - moves her again to silence followed by a sigh of regret. "As long as there are at least two people left under the stars, one to tell the story, and another to hear it, no one and nothing is ever forgotten. Who ever they were, they aren't going to be forgotten now."

Randy closes her eyes for a moment, letting her head fall back, her helmet clinking into her body armor. Then she pushes off towards the way she came, stepping over bodies with an easy efficiency as she grounds herself in the mechanical nature of the task at hand. "We'll just have to see how brass reacts first," given they did this all off the books. It's then that she notices the emblem, insignia of a lost civilization. As Kapali speaks, she spends some time to bounce her light off the wall and then onto it so she can get some stills that have more definition and color vs glare. "Go on, I'll take the rear."

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