AWD #331: Walk in Their Wake
Walk in their Wake
Summary: A group heads down to Piraeus to begin studying the ruins found near Shepherd's Raptor.
Date: 15/05/2016 (OOC Date)
Related Logs: Piraeus Hallucination
Halena Mallas Perry Skyler Thanos 
Room Name
Desc of Room
IC Date

Piraeus Dig Log

The Raptor crew that flies them down is all too happy to take off again quickly once the team is disembarked. Nobody wants to stay down here longer than they have to. Zach's abandoned Raptor has some patches on it but the canopy glass still needs to be replaced. It looks ready to leave but nobody wants to stay down here to work on it. After the first trip down, people have still reported seeing and hearing things. It's a nightmare for command to contain and it can't last. It's not hard to see why. The grass in this wide clearing is about hip-high in some area. The trees surrounding it on most sides are so thick that they turn the ground black with the shadows. Twenty feet from the closest one, the Raptor is parked with it's nose into the treeline. Within, they can just make out the pine needle floor and the very rough twenty to twenty-five foot wide swatch of floor where the trees just aren't as thick, leading up the side of the rising ridgeline. Above them, the sky is dark with grey stormclouds that carry a subtle pink thanks to ionization and the planet's iron core. The wind blows and a few drops of rain can be felt in the cool air. Meteorology says it will pass without dumping. Hopefully.

Command issued each person a combat helmet from the Marines and night vision goggles, plus small combat vests with flashlights and pockets to hold some gear. They've been tasked to head back to the ruins and put some scientific eyes on it. The ChEng has been assigned to bring her understanding of battle damage and overall engineering prowess to the table. Skyler, for her involvement with intelligence assets and knowledge of wtf is going on - somewhat. Thanos is the no-brainer, an expert at this stuff she was a serendipitous find on Aerilon. An act of the Gods perhaps. The two Marines are simply here to provide escort but both have been issued GoPro cameras attached to the sides of their helmets and told to observe. Command needs them to determine a very rough idea of what happened here and see what can be found out about the site. They know it may take months for conclusive answers, but they can't wait that long. They need intelligent opinions and suggestions asap. That's what brings them all to this place now.

For a woman entirely at home in the screaming closeness of the engine rooms, CPT Halena Tremaine is remarkably calm and comfortable making her way through the tall grass toward the ruins. She has a pack on with some of her technical equipment, and her sidearm at her hip. Her hands grasp the straps of her bag tightly as she wades through the swaying greens. For a moment, she pauses, consulting a compass she has on her person. Check it. Look around. Nod from beneath her helmet, reaching up to adjust it back from her eyes just a little. Bloody thing is a nuisance. She gestures with a pale hand. "Keep up this way," she tells the group calmly. Her hazel eyes cast to each of those around her, checking on each of them in her own silent way for a moment before turning and trudging ahead.

The civilian too seems remarkably at home. Her rucksack is heavy with personal supplies, but also the things most needed for a small footprint field study camp. Thanos is adept at packing well, and while the others may find themselves carrying a few other small cases attached or packed in their gear too, she's no slacker for taking on as much as she can herself. The types of things she's carting in, beyond the typical foray food and water and the like, probably wouldn't even be missed. Spectrometers, sample equipment, a bunsen burner equipment, visual and photographic measuring devices, twine and stakes and even a bucket and fine mesh sieve. But there's a spring to her step despite it all. After a year of hell, it's fantastic to be out in the field again, where she belongs.

The new Marine Staff Sergeant is down here. Knox hasn't been seen in several days and the rumors of his re-assignment seem to be spreading. Meanwhile he seems to have been replaced by a pretty woman named Perry. She has all of the JTAC gear normally carried, but looks uncomfortable in the helmet she's forced to wear. The bun of her thick hair seems to act as a buffer pad between her head and the helmet, too. Being her first time on P, she takes her time to look around and then bring down the NVG's on her helmet. Better to have them on. Forest looks dark. She runs the charging handle on her rifle and signals to Mallas. "Take point and take the Captain's lead," she tells him. "I'm tailgunner." Perry will move out with everyone else, but keeping to the rear and make sure nobody wanders off.

Private Mallas is rides the raptor down to Piraeus with a bored expression. The young Marine is geared up in woodland camo, combat armor, hauling a rifle and rather a lot of extra ammunition, plus a large rucksack. Perry gets an odd look as they disembark. "Hey Sarge. Where the frak did you come from?" It's clear she's a new face, at least to him. But her orders don't allow for a long conversation, and the Private gives Perry a nod. "Yeah, yeah." Being on point? No surprise there. He hustles to catch up to Halena, rifle pointed safely down at the ground.

It took some minor arguing with Medical, but Skyler's been cleared both for the trip and declared to be alright no longer using a cane. For now. Opinions may change. The woman still wears a brace, yes, but she's better able to maneuver around, at least. It does slow the progression to the ruins, but the science-types may have no problem with that. It also means that the intel officer is carrying a lighter load than some. Certainly her own pack, gear, and even a rifle checked out for the trip. She's observing, largely. Doesn't mean she can't be helpful if something befalls them. The helmet is an unfamiliar thing and the woman floats towards the end of the grouping as she fiddles with it. Not enough to cause a halt to be called or to possibly fall behind Perry, but she's definitely not right up front. Every so often, the woman is looking over at Perry. Thinking. Processing. Bestirring old memories. Finally a snap and a point: "Julia Perry. I knew you looked familiar." In fatigues, head partially shaved, and shaped by war like them all… the former Virgon noble may not look much like her old self, either.

The path starts only a few feet from the Raptor's nose and leads off at an angle with the rising terrain. It's strange. It has the feel of a purpose-built path that works with the terrain to keep an ease of climb towards the ridge. But after only twenty or thirty feet into the woods their visibility is down to about fifteen feet. It's just that dark under the dense canopy. Beyond that, nothing can be seen. To wander off the path would invite certain dangers nobody wants to consider. The trees are dense enough that it would turn into a winding maze. Shining a light into them or looking through the NVG's green bath of light tells each of them that such a maneuver would have them lose sight of the path in no more than thirty feet. The tree's are closely packed, just big enough to move through. On the ground in front of them, though, they can all see the bootprints from the team slowly climbing up there last time, and the skidding bootfalls where the team exited the area at best speed. But there is the feeling that none of them are alone. This isn't defined by anything overt, but each of them can feel eyes on them. It makes the hairs on the back of their neck and their arms prickle.

<FS3> Perry rolls Alertness: Good Success.
<FS3> Mallas rolls Alertness: Good Success.
<FS3> Skyler rolls Alertness: Great Success.
<FS3> Halena rolls Alertness: Good Success.
<FS3> Thanos rolls Alertness: Good Success.

When Mallas steps up to walk point with her, Halena glances over just once at the man. "You startled me," she admits quietly, but in a relaxed manner — if she was startled, it wasn't so much so that there was any physical sign of it. She turns her eyes back forward again as they move through the trees, the NVG pointing out like a beak from her face. A slender, pale hand comes up to adjust the settings somewhat. Once her hand lowers, she seems content to take a few more trudging steps forward. Her head swings toward Mallas again, though this time there is a slight register of surprise — like Mallas managed to sneak up on her again, but this time she wasn't so chill about it. Her steps never falter, and her beak swings back the opposite direction, then forward again. She reaches up to push a wayward branch out of the way. "Check your surroundings," she tells the team quietly. "But do not stop moving."

"Incredible," breathes Thanos under her breath. The digital image recorder comes out, and wow, it's not about taking a selfie. Though she doesn't lag behind, since the pace is not breakneck, she takes a series of recordingsthe bark patterns of the trees, the arboreal litter on the ground on the way to the camp. Quite frankly, a layman's eyes might very well not even think of this as pictures from a totally new planet at first glance even if they were to be seen. "Is the cover like this through much of this area, do you know?" she asks curiously. Doubtless her armhairs are standing up like everyone else'sbut there's a focus there. And perhaps she has a little too much trust in their escort's ability to protect/defend/spot potential wildlife trouble. And then, there is a pause, for a moment, where Thanos actually stops for a moment, her head tilting, her light directed away from the path. And then a faint frown, and a tug at one of the pouches on her utility belt. She'll resume her walking, after drawing in what looks to be an air sample into one of the tubes. "Aye," she agrees softly to Halena's orders.

Perry looks up to Skyler at the mention of her name and she seems eminently surprised. She's identified often enough but not usually while wearing NVG's, a helmet, and a bunch of combat gear. "Yessir. How did you know that?" she asks with a chuckle. "Wait. Are you Sk-" she's walking and then the voice from her abruptly stops as she looks back at Skyler. Her NVG's focus on the area just beyond the former Raptor jockey. She swallows and then clams up. No, no more talking. But she does turn around and walk on up the path, watching for something coming up behind them. Something just startled her little and doesn't seem inclined to talk about it.

"Sorry," Mallas says to Halena, though not without an amused smirk. "Sir." He is rather casual for the first few minutes of the hike. It's good to get off the ship in a context where killer robots are not involved, and the young riflemen looks around and sniffs the air with interest. But soon he is frowning to himself as that uneasy feeling settles in, and he follows Perry's earlier example and chambers a round in is rifle. "Frak man, why can't we ever go anywhere nice." The NVGs affixed to his helmet front are flipped down over his eyes, and Mallas proceeds much more warily up the trail. For all of fifty meters or so. Then he comes to an abrupt stop, despite the Captain's earlier order, and he signals a halt. "Hold up," he adds for the benefit of the civilian. "We have people down here already? 'Cause there's somebody up there." His helmeted head nods up the ridge.

"It's your voice. It took a while to get there." So it wasn't the visual, no. Meaning she's actually engaged in conversation with Perry at some point. Maybe there was an op at some point and the former-Raptor pilot heard the JTAC on the radio. At the same moment that Perry is cut off, something makes Skyler falter. She settles heavily back on her left leg (the good one, thankfully) and just sort of stares in Perry's direction. It lasts for a long moment, that gaze, but she shakes her head suddenly and turns to scan the trees and the narrow gaps between them. A hand lifts, rubbing the back of her neck and then a shift of vest. Breeze. Bug. All of the above? She scans the group before she begins moving again, shuffling a bit to get her right leg going. Lips move in counting folks, a frown visible below the line of the NVG. "Did anyone else-" Almaeda begins, but the intel officer cuts herself off and just falls to quiet. Mostly. One hand does settle against the sling-worn rifle as she starts following along again.

"No," Halena says, pulling up beside Mallas the Marine. "No one touched down in the last twenty-four hours," she explains. She looks back to the group behind her and gestures onwards. "I don't want to get stuck out here. We're basically blind." She takes a half-step closer to Mallas, her voice lowering so that it's likely a murmur to those behind her, but her words are discernible to his ears. "Are you sure you saw someone up there?" she asks, seriously. In case he thought he saw something, perhaps.

They're about halfway up the climb when Mallas brings them to a stop. The prior AAR had recorded contact with something. It was termed a hallucination. This definitely does not feel like a hallucination. But it also feel surreal. There's something different about where they are standing. They know this isn't right, but they also know they are not what's wrong here. None of what they've seen seems to be threatening. Indeed, some of it is quite the opposite. But the AAR they read never talked about it like this. To experience it is something else. No wonder the Deck crews don't want to return. What had they seen out in the grassy field?

Perry looks over to Skyler. She wants to ask, but at this point she's a little too unsettled for social discussion. What she just saw, she can't explain. And now Mallas is calling a halt. Yeesh. She shivers her spine all the way down and takes a knee at the rear, looking back through the trees. "Keep moving, Private. Get us up to the ruins where we have cover. If we're seeing something real then we're terribly exposed out here." That Virgon accent is clean and very crisp. Someone wants to keep on the move. "Assuming Captain concurs, of course."

"Fascinating," Thanos even rubs at her fucking chin a little. "Did the hallucinations happen the /entire/ time after the crash site was investigated? Or on the way in as well? Perhaps something was activated by their disturbance. Damn. I won't be able to analyze until we get the field kit set up, but if this is a neurological agent it's a very unusual one." Some people find comfort in gripping a gun, others in stoicism, apparently for the scientist it's in…well, thinking out loud. "I thought I saw a patroller with a gun. Is that what others are seeing? Or is it different?"

"According to the reports, they did not see the hallucinations until reaching the ruins. They followed the path away from the Raptor," Shepherd's landing site, "and found the ruins at the ridge." Where this group is currently heading. Skyler speaks quietly, but loud enough that she should be heard. A dense forest has a way of making spaces feel enclosed. "So unless they left something out, then no, they did not experience it beforehand. I think there's a validity to the idea of something being switched on." Almaeda falls quiet a moment, moving carefully a few steps further up the line. "Yes, I saw the same. Female, on the path with us. The rifle didn't match any that we use and the gear was unfamiliar, too."

Mallas grimaces to himself when Halena confirms they're supposed to be alone, and the Grunt looks even less happy when both the Captain and the Sergeant order him to continue. No getting out of it when the Officer and the NCO both agree. "Frak…" he mutters as he starts off again, trudging uphill as he follows the middle of the trail. Halena's question causes Mallas to slow and look back at the Captain. There's a mixture of resignation and exasperation in the Private's murmured response. "There's someone up there, sir." There's a glance back to Thanos for her question, but Mallas only shrugs before he turns back to the long hike up the ridge. Apparently he didn't see exactly what she or Skyler saw.

"Waiting on your marine," Halena informs Perry behind her, looking to the Mallas and jerking her head in the 'move along' direction. "We can compare notes when we get there. We push hard and get to the ruins, and only speak up if there's a threat." When Mallas answers that he saw someone up on the ridge, the Captain nods but begins to trudge up with the man. The pace now is still steady, but not so leisurely as it was before. The cone of her NVG swings around in either direction seeking dangers, but as long as there are none they'll plow on.

"Armed soldier, male, late teens, uniform. Carrying a belt-fed machinegun I've never seen before. There one second, looking into the woods like he was one of ours. Gone the next second." Perry suddenly fumbles with the GoPro on her helmet and turns it on. The red light on the back of it turns on, a dull glow. Recording. Trying to explain what she saw to a camera isn't going to help things. But the camera has NVG settings on so it can still see some of this. When they start moving again, Perry looks back at Skyler and shakes her head, pointing to a spot just beside Skyler, like 'It was RIGHT THERE!' but she says nothing. Tight lips. While they walk, Perry makes sure she's looking behind her every now and again for whatever it was that she saw.

As they continue the hike, the minutes stretch. Not because of the arduous nature of the hike, though. If anything, the path seem to switchback their way up the elevation change in a way that makes things easy but it does take a bit longer. But it stretches because what they see doesn't stop. Occasionally they pass by what looks like a military Sentry, focus on it and it vanishes. Conversing figures in the trees that stop to look at them when they trudge through. They all seem to be wearing similar uniforms and there are very few civilian figures to be seen. The only constant seems to be the figure of a female, one that Skyler had seen initially, and it stays with them. When they look at her, she fades into a cloud. But at the edge of vision they can make out the detail on her gear. The pockets. Wrappers for candybars Wires for radios. Rank insignia. nametapes in an unreadable language. She's in her early twenties with a bobbing ponytail left low out the rear of her helmet. She moves naturally as if she were always there. The figure mingles through them, seeming to spend a moment or two walking beside each as if checking them out. But the moment one of them looks to her, she fades into that vapor one more time. Synchronized hallucinations? Nothing happens, though, until they reach the terminus of the 'path'.

At the top of the ridge they come to a very flat area. About fifty meters by fifty meters square, there are trees growing from the flat area but they are very sparse and do not look as lush and healthy as the others. They do, however, still provide heavy overhead cover. But the squared area is very precise, too precise to be natural. As they look across the flat area, though, they can see the rough grey shape of the ruins through their NVG's. They're here. But there are still figures hanging out, watching. Look to one, it slips away. Figments of the imagination? Paranoid reaction to some kind of gas attack? A highly sophisticated holographic system? A trick of the Cylons? It's impossible to know.

"I'll note the part of the path where there seemed to be some…trepidation. Perhaps it's a boundary of some sort, either from activation or biological agent. I've extra filtration masks if they're wanted, if something shows on the spectrometer later." Now that the visions are known to not be solely to her personally, and somewhat shared—while she's not precisely untroubled by things that exist on the periphery of vision only to disappear, neither is she totally wigged out now either. She doesn't attempt to interact at all, but instead taps on a clicker now and then. When they get to the top of the ridge, she will study the flattened area, now using the visual recording device to take measurements of the area, if such a thing is possible. "Captain, where would you recommend setting up the field equipment shelter? I'd like to get closer in, but I'd also like to get some foliage samples for dating from the trees along the path as well as those up here. I cannot be certain, but this seems like an ideal staging area for those coming to use what is now in ruins. I'd like to see how deep the litter and soil goes if we can find a surface beneath it. It may give me some way to determine how long it's been since the area fell out of regular use."

When Perry points by her, Skyler glances that way. Instinctually. There's a breath drawn and she looks to the JTAC… and slightly past her. There's a tilt of head. She saw something just there. In amongst them, as if one were passing through or by the other. The intel officer scowls a bit, looking off into the trees: as if they held the answers. She keeps spotting that same woman, with the foreign rifle, but cannot get any solid looks her way. Every time she tries, poof. It's starting to stress Almaeda out. Either that or her leg is a lot more cranky than she expected. When they finally reach the top of the hill, she looks relieved. Mostly. It's still disconcerting as frak. Finally speaking up just a measure, Skyler posits an inquiry: "Might we stop to set up camp?" Code for: my leg frakkin' hurts.

Halena has her hand on her weapon, on her hip, but she doens't draw it out. She actually seems to be calmer as the apparitions become more frequent, appearing and disappearing amongst them. So by the time she reaches the top in the clearing, just on the edge of the ruins, her face is calm. She looks around, this way and that, before turning to the group behind her. She listens to the civilian, nods, then her eyes flit to the Intel analyst. Nods. To Perry. "You and the Private help me check and secure the perimeter, then yes — we'll camp here. The rest of you go ahead and start getting situated, but not too comfortable until we're secured." With that she turns and begins to move along the visual perimeter between the forest and the ruins.

Mallas keeps glancing aside at the phantoms, increasingly wide-eyed as they press forward up the switchbacks. But he's been told to press on, so gamely on the Private goes. After a time he tries not looking at the figures, and focusing on the climb. And while his mind seems to be on boundaries as well, Mallas takes a different tack than Thanos. "Lords of Kobol, hear my prayer," he mutters as he walks. "Hermes the traveller, show us the way. Guide us in and out of this … place. Hades, or wherever the frak it is." At the top he comes to a halt, staring at the ghosts that haunt the ruins they've reached. Hearing Halena's orders, he gives the Captain a look like he's doubting her sanity. "Secure? You not seeing all these ghosts, sir."

Perry does her best to take notes on the figure walking with them, and after figuring out the poofing trick, does her best not to look at the figure. Or any of them. She just walks ahead and occasionally turns around to look for something a little more physical approaching from behind. With nothing of /that/ nature there, she continues forward. Nope, she's not seeing all these figures. Nope, they aren't there. This is just some weird chemical weapon side effect and she's going to do her job. Like halena, though, with the regularity of it the Staff Sergeant seems to just accept it. She even reaches a gloved hand out to waggle fingers and pass through one. It makes her chuckle just a little to herself. once at the top, she looks around and strips off her pack. It hits the ground with a thud and she gestures for Mallas to join her. Her face cockeyes into a smirk. "Luckily the indigenous population doesn't seem to be offended by our patrol, Private. Assuming we're actually seeing this and it's not a hallucination. My bet is on a chemical weapon of some sort," she ventures, looking off to the side.

The green light given, Thanos doesn't seem displeased to set up the equipment shelter. Nothing wizbang or fantastic—mostly it's a canopy, a small field table, with a series of self-contained analysis devices. There's space to hang a light source, which is done, and then another webbing to put in a case of tubes of samples, a box of barrier gloves, a canteen with a device on the mouth that seems to convert it to something that can be used as a washing station with minimal fuss. There's something that looks suspiciously like a mini-microscope too. And a pop up crate. The scientist's ruck is now only about half full, but kept nearby. And she eases off her helmet for a moment after that, scrubbing a hand through sweaty blonde hair as if to ward off a tension headache from the unexpected extra weight on her noggin. She pauses, to scribble down something with a stubby pencil into a dusty notebook, jotting down a few notes to herself before looking around again.

Something seems to shift in the way things are. They can feel it. There is the presence of something very large here. Something vast. Something not of this world and certainly not of their full understanding. It can't be seen. But it touches all of them as a weight on their shoulders for a moment, a heaviness of the soul. It's a very spiritual moment that can't help making each one of them smile for just a moment, like no matter what happens, everything will be okay. As they look around, though, they realize the figures are no longer vanishing when they look at them.

The female approaches them again and looks to Halena, then to Thanos, and Skyler. The detail on her face is immaculate, almost like she were standing there with them - but they can stil lsee right through her. When she speaks, the movements of her mouth do not match the words they 'hear'. To each one of them, the woman greets them to their rank. Then a particular smile for Perry and Mallas as ground pounders. But she seems to address the officers directly, "I am pleased we did not alarm you. We had intended to leave. Our watch has ended. But others from this world wished to see you all, to examine what is inside each of you. To know. The could not leave until they knew for sure. Our solemn post is complete and we stand relieved. However others refuse to go until they see for themselves. They thought that a familiar face would be easier for your group to accept, though." Familiar face? "Please let your people know we intend no harm. We welcome you to our former home. Please treat it and us with care." The sound of her voice isn't felt outside their bodies, only within their own heads. But she does keep a very calm and considerate face.

When Mallas begins his prayer, Skyler looks his way with slightly pursed lips. Mild disapproval, but not enough to actually say anything. When they're told to start prepping camp, the intel officer drops her pack heavily and stretches a moment. She's not used to so much gear. It's a pilot thang. The vest is adjusted, as is the helmet. Maybe that's the source of the smile. The relief at being able to rest a moment. She's just about to start rifling through her bag when the figure begins speaking to them. There's an unsettled expression that takes over. The woman clears her throat, just faintly. While a part of her (a large one) is still rather skeptical and trying to puzzle out just what is going on here, well. There was no indication of attempts to interact with the figures in the AAR. So she speaks up: "What do you mean by familiar face?"

Halena nods to Perry, hazel eyes flitting back toward Mallas once again. "What's more, the AAR indicated that the apparitions are not a threat. That's one of the things we'll be testing, over the next few days. But the woods are still full of things that are a danger, so … yes. Secure." And then the feeling settles on them, and Halena closes her eyes and takes a deep, calm breath. She's calm still when her eyes flit open and she turns to the ghost of a woman, eyes flitting up and down the garb, her face, her stance. Halena seems to be content to listen, just now, her hands resting on her belt rather than on her weapon, just now. Skyler speaks up with her question, and Halena just glances her way momentarily, then back to the apparition, her head tilted just to the side, curiously. What will that asnwer be?

Well, Thanos has crashed a few times, threatened in more than one way, then barely escaped to jump to a totally unfamiliar place with uncertain welcome, all while putting the bravest face possible on the last year. There's a tension that really hasn't ebbed since the first drop out out to see the unfolding events of warday, even beyond the scramble for survival. But for a moment, there is blessed relief that doesn't need to come from burying oneself in something else.. Though along with a smile, there is a reflexive touch against Thano's breastbone by two of her fingers, as if against a pendant hidden underneath her clothing. When the apparition comes closer, and then seems to speak personally, there is a brief step backwards of surprise, but a recovering soon thereafter. "I am here to study and observe," Thanos says quietly. "There will be no irreverence or unkindness towards what remains. Peace be unto you." There's a gentle confidence there, perhaps a promise as well. Who knows, maybe this weirdo makes the same out loud promises to every bit of bone or fragment of the past she's dug up before, but the concept doesn't seem foreign to her.

Perry feels the heaviness in the air and she twitches her lips into a smile as she looks at the forest floor. Gods, how strange is this? Is that you? Her smiling face lifts and she aims her NVG's up the trees for a long moment. But as the woman approaches, she looks that direction. But there is no rifle coming up. Perry takes an ambled step forward to the woman as she finishes and reaches out a finger as if to prod the apparition's shoulder to test it's integrity. She's looking for an answer, too, though and steps back after the test. "Name and rank, sir?" Rough guess by how the apparition conducts itself… officer?

Private Mallas drops to one knee and bows his head when that spiritual feeling settles over him, offering a moment of supplication to the Gods. Maybe his prayer has been answered — he is certainly not shy about his faith, despite the Lieutenant's disapproval. And though he's clearly still freaked out by ghosts everywhere, Mallas does have enough presence of mind to nod mutely to Perry and Halena. "Aye aye, sir." At least it gives him some specific task to focus on, and he seems just as happy to not be in on that conversation with the spirit of some dead woman. The Private walks slowly around the perimeter of the cleared area, checking down the slopes on all sides.

The question of a familiar face gets an amused smile from the the figure in her military gear. "I spoke with others of your star battle vessel. They must have spoke of me. But we are curious at much more than that with your question." That smile on her face is a knowing one, as if this small group is not in on some much bigger joke. Perry's finger passes right through her shoulder, though, and she shoo's the hand away. "I can feel that, Staff Sergeant." She does address them all, though. "Captain Kha'lila al Yamoha." For one pristine second her voice matches her lips when she speaks her name. Her final address goes to Thanos and there's a slow dip of her head. Appreciation. "We will hold you to your word, Doctor. I hope you speak for all your people." No pressure at all right there. "There are more places like this. Everywhere. In time, if you are worthy, we will show you what you desire. Just remember what we have passed and learn our lessons well. Your folly only lies in what will happen again. Go with the light." She takes a step back, then another, and then turns to go, heading for the structure and what looks like may have been a doorway at one point - but only the top is visible.

Well, since when do marines and deckhands do things like intricately describe someone's appearance? Nor are they expected to. Still, something passes over Skyler's features as if considering making that a requirement. The woman finally does fumble with her pack when the figure turns to Thanos. A notebook and pen are pulled out; the former flipped open so some furious notes can be jotted down, along with some rough drawings. Perhaps trying to replicate things like the patches on the Captain's attire and the rifle she carries. The intel officer watches the woman go, frowning. Her leg aches, but she shifts forward a half-sep nonetheless. "Captain, do you mean everywhere on Piraeus or everywhere… in general?" She's not going to chase this Kha'lila, no, but she won't stop trying to gather information. To test the 'boundaries' of whatever this is; be it it technological, hallucinatory, or… 'other.'

Halena continues to watch, her stance comfortable and easy. She smiles slightly to the Captain, nodding her head in the woman's general direction. "Thank you, Captain. I am the one who speaks for this group, Captain Halena Tremaine. And I will concur that we do come peacefully, and are most interested to hear your lessons, and wish you know harm. I do wish you will come to speak with us again, before we go." She pauses when Skyler speaks up, looking over her shoulder at the Intel analyst. Should the question stop the apparition from going, just yet, Halena will ask a further question. "I would request permission for myself and my group to move among your ruins for the next few days for the purposes of study and research." Better to ask permission to enter than break into someone's home, right?

Perry listens to the name and rank, golved hands resting top the butt of her rifle. The sling keep sit in front of her. She stares at the woman's face, knowing the camera is pointed right there as well. Describe her? Psh. Perry has video. But that's not why she smiles. No, her smile goes far deeper. There's left for her to ask and she doesn't wait for answers. The Staff looks over at the other women and then off into the woods. She steps off in the direction of the edge and nods to a apparation as she passes. He nods back. It's bizarre but seems to work for her if she just treats them like people.

"Ahh, Phil." That breathed and saddened two words is the closest thing to a prayer that has been heard from the doctor's lips. She watches the apparition go, though her observations may be different from the others—her focus shifts from the figure that talked to them to the others, observing if they follow suit or are present still.

The Captain turns when she's about fifteen feet away. She aims a finger at Skyler as she walks casually. "You think bigger than most." It's not an answer, though. She seems to know that. There is some laughter through the trees with how she replies, though. Looking to Halena, the apparition nods slowly. "I've said as much as I will there. You will have to decipher it. Maybe you will see us again. I would expect others visiting our home will likely see us as well." She then puts her finger to her own lips as if to say 'Shhh' and the whole world goes eerily quiet. As it does, the spiritual heaviness lifts from their shoulders and all that remains is the feeling of normalcy fading back in. A blink and everything is gone. All of it. All that remains is the ruins and each of the Marines. Their gear is there but every trace of anything abnormal has completely parted. They're left with only the sound of the wind in the trees and the dull glow of the NVG's on each of their faces.

"I realize that we are under the strain of time," Thanos' voice is calm, but quite firm. "And certainly, we can work as fast as we can. However, if you're amenable to it, Captain, I'd like to establish some basic ground rules for the site, so that even after the initial report of surface impressions is made, work can continue. And so that we minimize the chance of destroying later evidence or improperly handling remains." She rolls up her sleeves. "No matter who happens to be present on-site."

Away from the face to face meeting, Mallas walks the perimeter. Eventually he comes to a halt at the best position to stand sentry — where he can see the trail that zig-zags down the ridge below them, and along the ridge line itself in either direction for some distance. The position is not unoccupied however, as one of the ghost soldiers is already on watch there. The Marine pulls up next to the spectral sentry and gives it a hesitant nod, and then the two figures stand side by side, keeping watch. The fading feeling draws the Private's head around, and he quickly looks to see if anything has happened to the rest of their group. Thank the Gods they've all made it through … whatever that was. Flipping up his NVG, Mallas turns his face skyward, taking a moment to softly speak another prayer. It is a long moment before he slaps the night vision back down and returns to his vigil.

The Captain's reply and the pointed finger both earn quizzical looks from Skyler. The human version of quirking an ear. Aroo? She holds notebook and pen in one hand, arm dropping down by her side. She does want to ask more, but the intel officer is busy wracking her brain for the right question when everything clears. She does a slow turn and exhales, slowly, returning the few strides to her pack and the gear she helped haul up. Any that look like 'first' needs (such as shelter) is sorted out. At Thanos' query, the Lieutenant does glance to the Chief Engineer.

Halena pulls back her NVG and watches after the apparition. When she turns, she marches toward where the others have tossed down their packs. "You're more than welcome to make recommendations," Halena says, her tone inviting further conversation. Her own pack is slung off and she begins to set up her own section of camp. "Though in the meantime, I want everyone to be keeping a daily tally of notes, conversations, and impressions. Things you see, things you hear, so we can compare notes later."

Perry keeps walking. She goes around the perimeter of the flat area, using an IR flashlight to point into the woods. She blinks at the MG team laying at her feet and they smile to her. No, no time to keep moving. As she passes, the feeling lifts and she pauses to lean against the tree. Eyes turning back to look, they're all gone. A chill runs down her spine again and she continues walking, whispering to herself as she moves. Yep, just gonna walk around the building ruins and come right back.

"Captain, please. At least allow me to establish the datum, and provide some measurement tools, as well as the reference grid. It will aid in the whole, I promise, especially if individual data is also collected while using the reference grid, and the collated." There's a note of frustration there, perhaps, but she shakes her head slightly, as if not holding out much hope of being listened to, especially when people depart to do their own thing. So, she'll return to the equipment shelter to unpack the datum spike and the individual measuring devices at least, trying to calibrate them as quickly as possible in case they're used.

Halena has a look of bewilderment on her face at the civilian's tone. Then a frown. "Write up your recommendations and we can run them up the chain when we're back on ship." Whatever Halena might be thinking behind that frown is left unsaid. She focuses mostly on unpacking, and once she has the bare minimum set up around her, she rises and dusts off her hands. She nods to Perry. "Work out guard shifts for everyone and let me know when you're ready. Otherwise let's all try and get comfortable — we have a long day ahead tomorrow."

"I am asking for adherence to some practices currently, Captain. A lot of damage can be done in a couple of days, which it may very well indeed need to be, given our parameters. The primary one being that we all carry these devices" Thanos indicates something about the size of a beeper, that doesn't look super high techjust a digital ruler or some sort. "And when there's an unusual phenomena, press the button on top. That will log where each one occurred relative to the datum spike," she indicates this tucked into her belt—it's about the size and shape of a sonic mole chaser. "It will create a bit of a topographical map of occurrences. In addition I'd request that nothing be moved without marking it on the map first, and either photographing or labeling what it is, in one's notes. I realize it's a bother most likely, but it will keep the strata in chronological order, which will be even more of a concern if and when teams go inside."

Seeing as there's more to this request than long-term procedures, Halena moves toward Thanos and reaches for one of the devices, turning it over in her hand curiously. She listens, her eyes on the device. Finally, she nods. "Fine, see it done. With one clarification — no one's to risk their lives if staying put to label or photograph something is a danger. Otherwise, those recommendations are perfectly acceptable. Are there any others that should be adhered to immediately, or are the rest procedures for repeat trips?" Halena's hazel eyes are now squarely on Thanos, head tilted slightly to the side as she awaits the answer.

"Certainly. I'd much rather preserve the living than the dead," the scientist agrees, with some relief. "Thank you, Captain, for your patience in the meantime." There's even a smile, and apologetic one. "For now, that will suffice, at least while we are not in the excavation stage. I will prepare some specimen kits, if anyone's interestedif there's a plant or some substance of interest, then it can be collected safely by whoever finds and logs it. More and fresh eyes often see things that mine do not. And my notes will be open to all, in the field lab. I'm not sure anyone will find it terribly interesting, but even theresometimes new eyes bring fresh perspective and connections that others may not see. So all of you are welcome to it, and there will be a place to add thoughts if you'd like. In the meantime, I'll write up a list of standard practices, and perhaps you'll give me feedback about what's most realistic and useful to you and the others?"

"We can talk through your long-term procedures afterwards, and I'll make sure to submit those requests up the chain," Halena agrees, folding her arms across her chest in a comfortable position. More relaxed than having her hand on her gun like she did for most of the hike up here. "For now, just be ready to brief everyone in the morning on any procedures you need us to follow while we're on-site for this particular visit. Also add into your visit the importance of respect for a site like this." She glances sidelong, as if watching the apparitions that are no longer there. "If this isn't one mass hallucination, I'd like to make sure everyone takes steps not to piss anything off."

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