PHD #311: Cry Havoc
Cry Havoc
Summary: Colonel Pewter lets slip the dogs of war.
Date: 03 Jan 2042 AE
Related Logs: Raiders of the Lost ... Raider; Storks
Cidra Madilyn Mathers Mark Cora Riederer Parry Pewter Polaris 
Ward Room — Deck 7 — Battlestar Cerberus
The Ward Room is dominated by a large oak table that's surrounded by high-backed black leather chairs whose rolling wheels have made indentations on the muted blue carpet. A large LCD screen at the rear of the room faces the CO's traditional seat at the head of the table. At the other end of the room is a small counter for refreshments, cream and sugar arranged neatly beside stacks of legal pads and pens. Near the hatch on the port side, a small monitor has been set into the bulkhead to provide constant updates from CIC. Along the starboard wall stand the 12 flags of the Colonies.
Post-Holocaust Day: #311

Jacket hanging open, baggy eyes bleary, Colonel Andrus Pewter looks significantly the worse for wear than he did three hours ago — for three hours ago he marched into the Ward Room, evicted its occupants, and ordered Yeoman Parry to bring in his things. He's been shut up inside ever since, poring over typewritten AARs and recon photographs with a magnifying glass requisitioned from the ship's library. The ship’s TACCO — Captain Nikephoros — has spread out a host of classified documents stamped "TOP SECRET" on the oaken table before him, arranging them like platters at a buffet. The man himself ranges from one end of the feast to the other, heavy footsteps stomping loudly against the carpeted floor — a rarity indeed aboard this otherwise Spartan ship.

In the far end of the room, the redheaded yeoman busies herself making yet another pot of coffee, while on the side of the table opposite Cerberus' CO paces Areion's Alke Riederer. And even Rudy Kepner's right-hand-woman looks just a bit perturbed by the information she's received: her marble skin is flushed and the top button of her duty blues is unbuttoned, though that might just be because of the room's oppressive heat.

Cidra is in her flight suit as she enters. She was likely not engaged in some duty that had her actively in the cockpit, however. With Condition 2 still a way of life on the ship, she may just feel it the wiser course to stay dressed for the line as much she can. "Colonel Pewter. Colonel Riederer." She brings herself up to a fluid salute.

Mathers is punctual but not hurried, uniformed within inspection guidelines but not perfect. Basically he's what you'd expect out of a newly minted Marine XO who got pulled away mid-shift and like the others is a little harried around the edges with the extended shifts like the rest. You'd think he was lapping on the heels of the CAG the way he enters just behind them, but happenstance had them converging just outside in the halls. "Sirs." He sort-of-echoes, his own salute snapping up.

Offices. Yeah. Mark has been running DC teams since he came aboard and it shows. He's barely managed to make it into his blues but there are still carbon-trade smudge stains at the edge of his face and on his neck. He's running a hand through his hair as he enters the room and seems a bit surprised at seeing who is present. That's a lot of heavy-weight brass. His eyes flicker back and forth like he isn't quite sure this is where he should be but comes up with his own salute - if still a little rough. That hand is in dire need of a scrub. "Colonel. Sir." The latter to the unknown Alke.

Riederer doesn't bother with pleasantries, though she does return the proffered salutes with a picture-perfect one of her own. "Don't sit," she says, imperious as usual. "It's easier to look at all this from up here." Which might be why all of the comfortable leather chairs have been pushed back against the bulkheads to allow for maximal movement.

Just as well, then, that Colonel Pewter possesses twice the capacity for pleasantries as a normal human male. "Major Hahn," he says, broad face breaking into a wide and knowing grin. "And y'all here must be Captain Zane. Mathers, yeah? And Mark somethin' that starts with M — normally I'd know it but I've got a lot on my plate." Spoken sotto voce but with good humor. "I'd tell y'all to call me Andrus but then Red over there might get ideas. Say hi, Red."

"Sirs," says the striking yeoman, snapping into a salute before turning back to her coffee. And what a back. You know Pewter's looking.

"Coffee'll be done right quick," he rumbles as he does. And then, suddenly, gaze sweeping to the CAG: "Major, y'all's bird found this motherfrakkin' monster. Care to tell us how y'all's missed it on the recon sweep?"

Mark looks between all of them as his salute drops. Huh. Not what the Lieutenant was expecting when he woke up this morning. He takes a step closer to the table at the beckon but smirks to Pewter at the remark. "Makinen. Whatever, sir." He genuinely doesn't seem concerned or hurt by the Colonel's memory omission. Besides, there's cool stuff on the table which he starts to look over.

As Mathers' hand falls away, he gives Pewter a crisp nod. "Correct sir." The answer is as sharp and precise as the rest of his mannerisms but being in the presence of the big dawgs will do that to you. As instructed, he doesn't find a chair but rather bellies up to the table to get a look at the informational spread put out by Command, sampling everything with his eyes which also includes the others in the room.

"Captain Mathers. Captain Nikephoros. Lieutenant." Cidra greets her fellows as she lowers from her salute. Cutting the actual greeting to Mark short when she realizes she does not actually know his name. He is eyed up and down, expression inscrutable. As she is wont to be. She remains standing, as Riederer instructs. "The 'foundry,' as my people describe it. Yes. I have seen the footage and it is quite striking. When we scouted that region initially with long-range DRADIS, it read as naught but scrap. And unlike the rest of the outer colonies, there was much of that left in Tauron space. We completed our sweep, found nothing further, and have avoided the place since due to the dangers of navigating the minefield left-over from the Great Civil War. We suspect it was masked in some way, to appear as nothing of interest on such scans."

There's a lot of stuff on the table. Lieutenant Trask's AAR tops the list of interesting items, framed to its left and right by twenty-odd still shots of what Intel has dubbed the Cylon Foundry — all in grainy black and white. Below those are sensor readings of the area in question, from Trask's Raptor and CF Corsair both: plastic transparencies marked over in thick black marker where the UV and visible spectrum turns to infrared.

"Colonel Baer came to much the same conclusion," Riederer notes, glancing over at the CAG with eyebrows raised. A callused finger flicks back a strand of blonde hair that's migrated out of her tightly wound bun. "And data from the initial EXLORAD sweep we conducted upon entering the system confirms that — as of mid-November — there was nothing of interest in the area."

"Mmmph." Pewter leans forward, his massive hands leaving sweat-marks as they slide up and down the table. "No FTL sigs that match, either. The Cylons probably turned that sumbitch off when they frakked off to Gods knows where. Any idea why the frak it's back on?" Narrowed eyes now turn their attention to Lieutenant Makinen, entirely devoid of the conviviality from just a moment before.

And from the back comes Parry's distinctively fluted alto: "Coffee's ready, sirs. Cream or sugar?"

<FS3> Mark rolls Systems: Good Success.

"Major, Captain, Lieutenant," Cora reads down the list as she greets the arriving others in return, her nod polite, but businesslike. "Neither, thank you," she replies over her shoulder to Parry as cream and sugar are offered, glancing at the redhead for a moment before turning back. She remains otherwise silent.

Mathers turns to assist Parry in delivering cups of coffee. Or more importantly, /his/ cup of coffee. He nods a silent thank you as he crooks a cup of black java on his fingers and then turns back to the pages. If he has anything to say about the images laid out on the table, he's not yet ready to pipe up about it.

"One cream, please. A pair of sugars, if you would," is Cidra's polite response to Parry. She rarely takes her coffee touched up, but that is more a matter of utility than anything else. If the yeoman is pouring, she'll take something sweet.

"Top fuel black, please." Coffee, now. That dirty hand comes up and strokes at the stubble on Mark's cheeks and chin. Interesting. He's barely listening to what is being said - a sad side effect of being away from a uniform for so long. After Pewter finishes gravelling through his muse, Mark pipes with something of his own, "A facility that size? They would need a good reason. The power requirements alo-" As his eyes drift away from the photos and towards the recon information he cuts short. The man doesn't bother to ask but remembers enough to use his clean hand to turn the readouts as his own neck swivels a bit in a lean. Its not unlike watching an owl. "Huh. So check this out, uh, sirs: That Raider your pilots chased down Major?" He looks to Cidra then back to the readout. "From what your ECO captured this looks like some pretty heavy duty encryption. But it keeps repeating the same thing over and over and over. Its not unlike, uh, how could I put this?" He rolls his hands as he says it, looking up and back towards Pewter. "Kind of like a navigation beacon, I guess? Its weird and could actually be anything, though. But we've had to deal with some encryption issues like this with Praetorian's wireless, sir. Damned contractors borked the initial install and we've been chasing systems issues."

When Yeoman Parry bends over to retrieve a tray from the cupboard below the refreshment counter, Pewter doesn't play the lech — not that he's ever un-subtle about it, but. Well. Men are men. The orders are taken with consummate skill, the coffee prepared exactly to specifications, and the steaming beverages distributed (with a short nod to the Marine) in as unobtrusive a manner as possible. A faint hint of lavender accompanies her passing: not enough to be cloying, but definitely enough to be noticed.

"Thanks," says Pewter, who takes a sip out of a bright blue mug decorated on the side by a garish-looking trout with a hook through its mouth. He'd been prepping for retirement when the Cylons hit. Sue him. And as Mark would have it, the Colonel has time to take a few more sips before speaking again. "And that fancy crypto business can't work when y'all's got a brain-fried Raider doin' the spittin'. Mmmph."

"Precisely." Riederer has moved up behind the engineer while he's giving his spiel, and now she points a thin finger at one particular timestamp. "Here. That's when your Vipers reported seeing the flash, right?" Her mouth twists a little in distaste. "Right when the Raider finishes one cycle of your little wave and starts broadcasting it again."

Quite out of character, the hatch of the ward room opens to admit Madilyn, just a little late for the start of the briefing. Trying to be a stealthy as possible, she sneaks in at the back of the room and stands to listen. Time is taken to pull her hair up into a tight bun, as if just a few minutes ago she was neither in uniform nor prepared for the meeting. Cue the XO of hers, to fill her in later on the details that she's not yet seen in the reading tucked under her arms and laid out on the table in more detail or is unable to fill in later.

"Coffee, sir?" Is that mild disapproval in Parry's expression? No, it can't be. But there the yeoman stands, having sidled up to the entering Madilyn with her tray still in her hand. "I just finished making a batch, but I'm sure I can manage another." How nice of her. She even smiles.

"Navigation beacon?" Dark brows loft at Mark, and Cidra too moves closer to the table. "So the Raider was…what? Being summoned there?" She strides toward the table to take a closer look, brow furrowing. "This wavelength looks familiar…we have this frequency flagged as a Cylon identifier. Colonel Pewter, I advise you check for similar transmissions on the Corsair's EXLORAD logs. Their passive sweeps might have recorded when it turned on initially, even if it did not raise alarm at the time."

Mark rubbing at his face has smudged dirt with the salt and pepper stubble. Pewter's observation leaves the Engineer staring back at him, though, his face showing the confusion. "Right." What? He looks back to the other Colonel, then. "A flash? At the end of the oscillation cycles? There's physical responses to accompany the broadcast frequency patterns?" Lieutenant Makinen looks up towards Cidra and then takes the coffee from Parry. There is a kind smile from the man before he looks back to the others expectantly. "Just conjecture, Major Hahn. The likeness is similar in operation, sir, but there's nothing here that would indicate what it is. Hell, these could be instructions for surrender for all we know." Even if its hot, he's still going to take a big sip of that delicious black liquid tylium.

Mathers glances over his shoulder as Madilyn slips in, "Major." He murmurs before turning back to something Cidra says. He nods in concurrance. "We know that as a primary transmission before whatever data they are communicating gets broken up into secondary and tertiary frequencies. They're making sure they have a dial tone before they start talking, if you will." He turns from the lot to approach Madilyn properly now, dipping his head to her ear to quickly fill her in on what has transpired up until the moment she entered.

Madilyn holds a hand up to the yeoman, waving off the coffee with a bottle of water. "No, thank you," she says rather reluctantly. When Mathers starts to whisper, she leans her head over, nodding silently. It's designed to be as least disruptive as possible to the rest while she's brought up to speed.

"We've been through all the EXLORAD logs," Cora speaks up to offer, "So far no currently known raider or basestar handshake protocol signal has been found. Whatever activated the foundry station either did so outside the range of Corsair's scans, or using an activation code of a sort we've never seen before and therefore can't search for."

"Yes, sir." Parry withdraws without another word, retreating back to the coffee area and retrieving a bent paperback from the desk. "I'll be here in you need anything."

"Mm-mmph." Pewter's brows furrow as he pushes himself off the table, listening to his subordinates' explanations. Madilyn gets another of his trademark grins before he retrieves one of the recon photographs from the table, one that shows quite clearly beams of light reflecting off the lens of a Viper's gun camera. "This puppy here looks like a physical response all right, wouldn't y'all say." And it's tossed toward the other end of the table. "Major Willows-Cavanaugh, Captain Mathers — " He says the unfamiliar name with much more assurance now. "The eggheads'll be talkin' some time about how this thing got turned back on, looks like. Y'all got a way for us to turn it back off?" His tongue clicks loudly against the top of his mouth as he raps his knuckle against the table. "Iit's made out of some right solid shit, and can't well blast it out with guns with all the wreckage around it. We'd be pulverizin' space junk for a frakkin' week."

"Might be able to drill our way in with blowtorches," Riederer wonders aloud. "Are your men trained for offensive boarding ops?"

Mark glances over to Cora and shrugs. "You don't necessarily need activation signals. If you had the manpower and know-how?" He gestures to the recon shots. "You could more or less set a timer to have it restart internally. No signal would be needed. But that's implying they wanted it to start again recently. For some important reason." Just an idea. He looks to the picture that Pewter asks about and the Engineer shrugs. "I'd prefer to see vide of it, sir. A still-frame is meaningless for what I'm getting at. Has anyone checked the lightwave frequency for information? Similar to how we run fiberoptic cables with laser? It could theoretically carry our decryption information. Radio broadcasts can go anyplace, right?" Lieutenant Makinen waves his mug towards the wall. "But light particles disperse over a distance. Like how stars get more dim. At a short distance you could encode information into the source that any other receiving source at long range would never get. Its a good way to hide information. We toyed with using it a few years ago."

Cidra lets out a soft "Ah" at all Mark's talk of oscillation cycles. "Perhaps." She'll take his word for it. Her thoughts are preoccupied with something else for the moment, eyes narrowing at the photos. "Might it have something to do with that unusual basestar we glimpsed when we were last attacked on December the 18th? It was emitting very powerful EW signatures. Our conjecture was that it was here to record our activities, but perhaps it had something to do with this as well."

"Blowtorches aren't much good for anything above and beyond deck plating, interior wall sheeting and other less…ah, structural pieces of a ship's superstructure. I'd lose respect for the Cylons if they were making their equipment out of such things. It may take a Centurion down to pieces but on a factory, ship, whatever the frak it is out there, you're going to need something bigger." The photos are picked up and given a look-over by Madilyn. "If you could get heavier stuff on task though, it may be possible. Fight manufacturing facility with manufacturing facility. That is to say, our own heavy-grade welding equipment from our manufacturing facilities, if engineering is amenable to the idea."

"Of course, sir." Mathers replies smoothly to Riederer's inquiry as to the ableness of Bravo company to execute a boarding mission. The rest he lets his CO explain, regaring blowtorches versus welding equipment. "If you can get us there, Major Hahn, then we just strap a few marines in EVA suits to guard the breach of the hull and we should be able to do it nice and quiet."

"The crypto-techs haven't identified any signal patterns in the light as yet," Cora informs Mark as she moves over towards a stack of piles, setting down her coffee to flip through and draw out two, which she spreads on a spare bit of table in front of her, "In order to use any signals we did find for ourselves, we'd need to be able to decrypt them, which at the moment we can't even begin to do, I'm afraid. The basestar from 18 December, however, was emitting signals we can compare to the EXLORAD logs. Give me a moment."

Mark shrugs towards Cidra, making a bit of a face. "Sorry, Major. I have no idea. I'd have to look at what it was putting out. As you know, the reason behind transmission is to receive something back generally - either a response from another source or station, or to get raw data back like how DRADIS will bounce a signal. If they put out a signal, especially a strong one?" Makinen stifles a touch of a burp. Drinking coffee too fast will do that. "It tells us something. What it tells us, well, I could make wildly innaccurate guesses but little else." The Engineer listens to Madilyn discuss the ships and structural design without a comment. Lieutenants are here to be seen, not heard. For the most part. There's another sip of the coffee and he clicks his teeth at Cora's response. It was worth a shot. He will wait patiently.

At Madilyn's suggestion, Pewter's wide grin turns just the slightest bit … feral. "Now we're talkin' sense, boys," he says, voice booming just a bit louder than usual. And Cidra, too, receives an approving nod that causes his glasses to ride down on his nose. Magnifying glass is set down so he can readjust their — wait a minute. Are those bifocals? Man really must be getting old. "One more thing. Ol' Missus Cassandra's sittin' out there cause a mine took her out, and I'spect none of y'all's pilots are up to runnin' a big op like this with more of those sittin' out there. Gonna need 'em cleared. Colonel?"

"Wild Weasel," says Riederer, and that notion causes a rare smile to light her face. "Well. Sort of. It's not SAMs we're hunting, just proximity mines, but that just makes things easier. Nothing back then flew as fast as our Vipers fly now." She looks to Cidra, as if expecting that the CAG will be able to finish her thought for her. Is this a test?

"Not quite shooting fish in a barrel, but we swim light enough that we should be able to clear a fair path," Cidra says. Smiling the barest hint of a smile at Riederer in return. "And I am ever-ready to carry our Marines wherever they had need to go. We are considering undertaking this operation after repairs are affixed, I trust? I do not relish attempting it with Cerberus still unable to mount an escape from this vicinity of space."

"Got it," Cora announces after a few minutes of paging through the reports, "EXLORAD recorded what we've flagged as a handshake protocol signal from the EW basestar seen on the 18th at zero hours, on the first of January. That's zero precisely, down to the second. We don't have any reading indicating it jumped into the system or was otherwise present, though, so if it was activating the foundry it did so over an incredibly long distance."

"Agreed," Madilyn quickly adds to the end of Cidra's statement. "I could not in good judgment approve of any operations in this vein until such a time as repairs are completed and this ship is able to flee should that outcome be dictated. While eliminating a significant Cylon presence is always fulfilling…in a very visceral way," she begins but takes a moment to look at Colonel Pewter. Seems that feral look didn't go unnoticed! "It is our duty to ensure that this ship and her crew are safe, first and foremost."

Mark apparently finds himself confused anytime Pewter rumbles. The Engineering Lieutenant just stares at him and backs away from the table. This is all way over his head anyway so he takes up a lean against the wall, putting his free and clean hand into his pants pocket. "You know, Major?" the man pipes up after a few moments, forgetting that he might be interrupting. "I'd be willing to bet that the Marine Captain was on to something. If that Raider is frequency hopping? Think about why we do it: We do it to hide what our communications are saying. To prevent jamming amongst other eavesdropping problems. When that facility figured out the Raider was defective or doing something incorrectly, it probably reclaimed it or whatever." He waves a hand with the last and looks around. "Sorry. Just kinda popped in there. ..Sirs." Ahem. He'll go back to being quiet now. When Cora speaks up, though, he blinks. "Well that makes sense, sir. But wait, eighteenth of December and the first of January? There were two? Or just one?" Lieutenant Makinen looks around.

"My thoughts exactly, Major. Perhaps you and Colonel Baer could get together and coordinate how we might — ah — swim together, if I may appropriate your metaphor." Riederer gives the CAG the faintest of nods. One gets the feeling that in their few exchanges she's already formed an opinion of the woman, though — well. Inscrutable XO is inscrutable. Take that, Cidra Hahn. "And count me in agreement with the rest. For now, we appear to be safe: EXLORAD is keeping watch on communications from the Foundry. Colonel?"

"Looks like chromeheads made themselves some grunts." Pewter chuckles darkly at the thought. "Corsie's squawker — " His pet name for EXLORAD. " — Squawker says no transmissions out. If they saw y'alls birds, they sure didn't think much of it. Folks on the minimum wage couldn't give a frak if y'all's in their store stealin' their shit. The plan is to hit them when we're up, not before — but if that thing chirps once, just once, we're goin'. De-minin' — " To Cidra. "And EVA trainin' — " To the Marines. "And deep-space weldin'. All of it: if I give the go six hours from now, y'all best be ready."

"One last thing," Alke interjects. "Chances are the Cylons wouldn't send a new basestar out here by its lonesome without escorts, and if they've got more than one — " A nod in Mark's direction. "Well, the Gun only reaches so far. Our engineers say we might be able to fit amplifiers aboard the capital ships in the Fleet as well as aboard your Raptors. I think it's about time we move that forward."

Mathers slips a toothpick out from behind his ear and slips it between his lips to gnaw on while he thinks. Maybe that oral fixation is his answer for staving off smoking while in mixed company. He starts pacing around the perimeter of the others, trying to get a different angle and therefore perhaps a fresh take on the material that's laid out on the table. Quiet now, this one.

"We shall be ready, sir," Cidra says to Pewter. An inclination of her head to Alke. Ever respectful, though her gaze directed at the other woman remains assessing. "As I have said to Lieutenant Colonel Baer, I look forward to our forces working closer together and do think we shall swim together quite well." To continue the metaphor. That's all from her for the moment.

Mark -stares- at Alke. "You want us to retrofit amplifiers to the whole battlegroup to boost the signal of your ship's gun, sir?" The Lieutenant is flabbergasted beyond normal Pewter-invoked confusion. "We haven't even finished getting this ship's FTL back online. We're short on building supplies as it is. We just repaired a nuclear-blasted hole in this boat's hull and are hurtin. I can check with M&R but I-" He coughs out a dry laugh and lifts his mug to her in salute. "We'll need full access to your ship's gun systems, schematics, and your Chief Engineer is going to have to talk to ours when he's up and kicking again, sir. Assuming we have what we need to build these things. Praetorian's current systems might handle it on their own but this ship has taken a bad beating."

"Understood, sir," Madilyn replies to Pewter with a nod. A similar nod is given in Mathers' direction; they both now know the prep to be done. There is still much information left on the table, and that's where Madilyn goes, especially to look over any additional photos or information about the facility itself that may not have been reported to her yet.

Mathers returns the little nod to Madilyn, as if some more in-depth communication just occured beyond the tiny gesture. As Madilyn comes closer to the table, he drags over the image of the foundry for her examination, perhaps so they can pinpoint or examine the best locale for breach and boarding.

"Yes, Lieutenant." Alke stares right back, arms folded across her chest. "You'll have the Gun's schematics within the hour; the rest we'll provide as soon as feasible. Unless you're telling me this can't be done?" That's a rhetorical question, Mark. You'd be advised to answer one way and one way only.

"You heard her right," says Pewter, echoing Riederer's sentiment if not her words. "Dealer just chucked us a hand full of junk, and right now we're chuckin' back the whole thing just prayin' for a Triad to come." And then he slaps the engineer hard on the shoulder. "Y'all don't leave this room until y'all have draft plans to give to Red. Me, I've got a meetin'. Laffo wants to talk my ear off about missile supplies and damned if Rudy doesn't want to tag along for the ride. Colonel, if y'all be so kind and follow me — "

"You're all set in your private quarters, sir," Parry reports, looking up from her novel. "Commander Laughlin is expecting you on intraship."

"Mmm," grunts the CO, making his way to the hatch. But right before he leaves, he swivels to survey the officers gathered before him, mouth opening as if to say something inspirational — and then, with a fatherly grin, he turns back around. "Nah." And the hatch slams shut behind him.

Lieutenant Makinen pounds back the rest of the coffee. Engineering won't be sleeping ever again. "Yessir," he says with a shit-eating grin to Alke. "With pleasure." He can't listen to Pewter anymore. It hurts his mind. The man just turns away and slides the coffee mug across the table towards the other side. Hands slide down his face as he mutters something very unhappy into them. "I don't understand a damned word that man says. Ever. I don't speak that dialect of Backwoods." He sighs and drops into a chair, staring at the table as his attention drifts away into his imagination.

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