PHD #417: Drugged But Not Down
Drugged But Not Down
Summary: Van and Constin talk about the upcoming op. Cameo from Nataly.
Date: 19 Apr 2042 AE
Related Logs: Too many to list. 15 Apr plus anything with Gemenon or the Elevens.
Constin Nataly Vandenberg 
Recovery Ward
A much quieter area of Sickbay, this long rectangular room is lined with more than two hundred narrow beds. Each is outfitted with privacy curtains and a seasonal affective disorder lamp to provide patients with maximum comfort, and the bulkheads have been painted a pale canary yellow in an attempt to lift spirits further. Plastic folding chairs are readily available so guests can pull one up to talk to the patients during their convalescence. Near the entrance, visiting hours have been posted next to a very conspicuous 'No Smoking' sign.
Post-Holocaust Day: #417

Later into the evening and most of the recovery ward is quiet. Except for a stall down at the end with the curtains drawn and the light on. Most of the Marines have been cleared out but for a steady few. Van isn't going to be out of here for a few days, obviously. But that doesn't keep her from working into the night. Her hushed voice can be heard speaking as if to someone but once inside its clear she is speaking into a small electronic recorder. Both her hands, arms, and most of her upper body is still bandaged and she's essentially just laying in bed staring at the ceiling while taking down verbal notes. "..request maximum drop height of one thousand feet AGL and speed markers as low as possible. Uh.. Ne- need Raptor to fly vectors as close as possible on jump towards Lam.." She takes a breath.

Constin returns to the Recovery Room, on duty tan shirt loose over the tank tops and patches of gauze and medical tape. The Sergeant checks in with the marines remaining on guard, before turning steps toward the laid-up lieutenant. "Sir, you are real shit at that 'relaxing' thing, know that?" he drawls in dry greeting.

Recruit Rassvett is tired and footsore. She has been running stairs more or less constantly since the op, on recommendation from some of her squadmates who said that if she made Elf look for reasons in his present state, he'd only pile on more. She laughed, they hadn't, she'd run stairs. And then some more stairs. It was really having an effect, her body was… more solid, than when she had started. She'd lost some curve in exchange for tone, and her walk was starting to show that stride shared by many marines… she was dangerous, and she knew it. "Hey there, Sarge. Sir." She doesn't salute Van, having been told she didn't have to in Recover Wing. It takes every fiber of being in her body.

Van uses a stub on the bandages to pause the recorder that's perched on her chest and smiles at the big man. "Well look what the cat's ass drug in. Figure I've spent enough time sloggin dreamland and ah'd get some work done. Burn the oil n start a fire or too, aye?" she doles out in her Canceran accent. Yeah, Natalie'll be just fine. Though by the look in her eye she's good n stoned. "How're ya, Guns? Doin alright?" If she has to make an effort to be upbeat, she's doing a good job of hiding that effort. Seeing Nataly, though, she grins. "Ey, Scooter. Lookin' good. We'll make a digger outta ya yet, aye?" Yes, definitely high. "Ya'll slide a favorite my way an help me sit up? Arms're as useless as teets on a bull right now."

Constin grunts shortly in a near-chuckle at Vandenberg's request, proffering the requested assistance in sitting Natalie upright. Habitually narrow eyes shift to the Corp's other Nat, whom is greeted "Rassvet," with a short nod. "I'm as peachy as an Em-Pee with a brig full of bastards, sir. REAL full."

Nataly walks over and helps rearrange Van, doing so with a bit more care than she normally shows with Van around others. Happy Van equals slightly relaxed Nat, though not by much. Elf is still there, after all. Glancing over at the dour bullet magnet, she says in a reporting tone- "Followed the gun course you gave me to the letter, sarge. I met your proposed goals in everything but reload time, and I ran the stairs you prescribed for missing it."

Natalie doesn't weigh much so helping her sit up is pretty simple. Kinda like folding a soft taco. The recorder falls into the sheets in her lap but its just given a glance. It won't go anywhere. "Ohhhh really?" she slides out at Elf's quip. "Brig full of bastards." She takes a breath and looks the man up and down. "We're Canceran, El. Don't see you bringin' back a bunch of yellah' bellies or drum beaters from Areion. Not anymore'n I would. What's the tale?" She then looks to Nataly and smiles. Her heavily bandaged left hand sneaks out to tap her gently on the hip. "At ease, love. Mean ol' shit like Guns here can lay off on ya for five under my friendly, sisterly request, aye?" Right, Constin? She's not exactly in any condition to give orders. Forget being out of uniform, she probably thinks words feel nice in her throat or some such nonsense.

Constin nods curtly once. "Good," he drawls to Nataly's report. Vandenberg's talk of a nice sisterly request draws a bone-dry sidelong look and a wordless snort. That dismissal given, the dour MaA answers, "Two Areion saboteurs taken aboard the Cerb. Singing like drunk canaries," he adds evenly. If he is joking in his next breath, there's not much clue as he looks back to Nataly, "You got five minutes."

Nataly nods gratefully at the five given minutes. A month ago she might have gawked at Elf, as if wondering if he was kidding. Now, she just nodded gratefully and took her five minutes, leaning in to carefully give the older woman a hug, and then, feeling brave, a pat to a bit of unscorched flesh on the sarge's shoulder. "Thanks, Sarge." She says with a smile there. It was an odd thing, but he had given her the time, and she meant to use it to its fullest. She'd almost felt like giving the sarge a kiss on the cheek, but felt that might have been pressing her luck.

Vandenberg focuses on Constin, listening to what he's got to say as her expression darkens. There's a grunt from her at the end. "I don't rightly imagine either one of them is too happy 'bout their mates beatin a dusty trail. These the same folks that.. you know.. the bomb thing." Tillman. She can't remember his name right now. With the gentle hug from Nataly, Van does her best to lean her arms around in their state. There's a kiss planted to the recruit's cheek. "Love ya, hon. Glad you're safe. Been worryin' up a storm." There's a grateful smile given to Constin.

Constin does the ladies the courtesy of not saying anything or interrupting the endearments, simply nodding briefly aside to Nataly as she pats his shoulder. To Van: "One of 'em cops to it. Areion Intel. Might account for how he cut two throats before either marine got the drop, or there might have been help." He draws and lets out a slow breath, through the nose. "Corp service Thursday. Wheels or boots, you got a place."

Nataly stays out of the way of the other two, focusing on holding Van in a way that won't cause too much pain while allowing her to talk with the Sarge. She just liked being able to check in, though it did worry her how often she found Van here. Elf too, come to think of it…

"No shit. Yeah I read the report. Broke necks and cut throats. Nasty business." Vandenberg sighs. "Droppin two Marines like that?" She shakes her head. As Constin brings up the funeral, the officer lets off a long breath and looks down to her sheets. "I heard. Twenty-six." Leading that first wave, she has to know a good number were under her command. "I'll be out Thursday come hell or high water. I'll want to speak, El. Make it happen." Quiet words. At least neither of them were there to see her reaction to that news earlier. Her arms stay around Nataly, though she doesn't move. She can't. "What else you got goin? I heard Rotunda shot Kepner. That's about all I can get. Not many seem to wanna talk to deep into what's happenin."

Constin nods to the tally. "Yeah. You got it, El-Tee," he returns to the speaking request. He nods once again to the word of Kepner's end. "Ask, I'll answer." A hand raised to itch at the edge of the medical tape clinging to the side of his neck.

Nataly is relaxing, muscles that had been tight for a month slowly relaxing as she settles in Van's arms. She missed this… she had only just been adopted by Van when enlisting had changed the rules between them. At Van's request, she shakes her head. "The berths are full of the talk, and some of it seems crazy. Another Skinjob, volunteering to help us this time?" She shakes her head. "Glad I'm not back on Elpis right now. The rumor mill over there has got to be crazy."

"Well, figure you all got my note about Rejn." She had a runner take a note down to the SecHub while Rejn was hooked up in CIC. Natalie was there when the whole thing went down and that's not exactly a secret, either. She nods, then, to Nat and rubs the younger woman's back as best she can through the bandages. "Aye. I can personally confirm that, darlin. Allen Rejn identified himself as a Model One in CIC Friday afternoon. I was there when he took the hostage. Didn't like the bitch he took much, but then again it don't matter much." She sighs. "Glad you're here too, hon." Her eyes then turn back up to Elf. "Did we gain any sympathizers from the Areion? Anyone rebelling against Kepner? Also, did we bring home any munitions captured off them? I know its a long shot by I don't know much of what happened after watchin your barbaric ass blow up that Viper. Nice shot, by the way."

"Huh," Constin grunts with a nod (there are so many nuances to the wordless grunt) at the compliment on his shot. "Some of the Specter Squadron defected with their birds. Not much else. No munitions," he adds, "Brought back our own, first. Didn't end up having a second shuttle run. Areion jumped away to cut the countdown on our nukes after Rejn dropped." Talk of the Elpis from Nataly draws another nod. "Fair nuff, Rassvet. One of our saboteurs was trying to hop a bird that way when our people detained her."

"It'd be a great place to hide. The Facebook is huge, disorganized, and occasionally woefully inaccurate. Found that out helping out with that investigation for the lance corporal." Nataly shrugs. "It's a warren."

"Damn. Well, people are the priority. Glad you were there to get that done first." Vandenberg lilts her head forward a bit with the sigh. Twenty-six. "I was going to ask about the nukes but figured when I actually woke up here that they didn't go off. Vakos came by, I think. Unless I, like, dreamed it or somethin'. Told me the Areion jumped. Didn't get much more out of her then.." A lot, but- "Other than that we won." Bittersweet, that victory. "Working with a Lance? Kincaid?" There's a grumble to her voice. "But yeah, Rejn helped. Saved our asses, I suspect. Kept the nuclear detonations off our backs long enough to get people aboard. Ain't the first time that's happened, neither." There's a glance to Constin. "Think we can clear her to bring her up to speed on the Cylons not exactly being the enemy every time?" Again, stoned. She knows it. She can't make that kinda call right now.

"No chance in downtown Hades, El-Tee," Constin returns to the notion of bringing Nataly up to speed. Rassvet's description of the Elpis as a warren draws a slow nod. "Figure they snuck the folk on by way of Elpis. S'why we watch the shuttles so close." A breath drawn in slowly through the nose. "Kincaid is in the next room." He doesn't speculate on the presence or morpha-induced absence of Khloe.

Nataly nods. "I appreciate the thought, Nat," younger Nat says with a smile, "But Sarge is right. I'm not Corps yet. But it won't be long, now." She glances at her watch, and sighs. Time is starting to run short. "Uh, Sarge? Any special instructions for tomorrows exercises, or will you be there personally?"

Vandenberg nods reluctantly to Constin. "Sorry, Nat. Maybe after graduation and we get you inserted with the rest of the Company. Security is tight on these matters and I gotta trust Constin's ruling right now." Its official Marine business but its explained more how a mother would. Probably the drugs messing with her attitude. "Yeah, soon, darlin." The mention of Elpis being their entrypoint gets a nod. It all makes so much sense despite the drugs. Damnit. But Kincaid? Suddenly Van looks stone sober. "You tell that sonuvabitch what I told you? You handlin' him, Gunnery Sergeant?"

"Vacation's over, Recruit," Constin returns to Nataly's question, affecting a tight, humorless grin. Then it's back to Vandenberg, and the humorlessness remains, even as the grin disappears. "It's being handled, El-Tee," he voices. He is nonspecific as to the language used.

"Back to getting my ass handed to me in person then, instead of by proxy? Good to know. At least this way, I may eventually be able to work my elaborate plan of revenge against you, sarge. It's a good one. Involves some sedatives and a few high powered magnets." She gives Van an extra squeeze and starts to detach. "And yeah, Kincaid. He drafted me to help him look for doubles among the civvies. Neat idea, even if Elpis was a nightmare for it."

"Gods help him if it ain't been handled, Constin. I will hogtie his ass and string him up by his ballsack." Elf may not be specific but she certainly is. There's a huffed breath and her arms drop from Nataly. Back to pure officer mode- or as much as can be attained in her state. As Nataly rises and explains the involvement with Kincaid, her eyes narrow despite the glassed look to them. "You take zero training and modeling of Corps ideals, principles, or activities away from him, Recruit. Zero. Even after graduation. Gunnery Sergeant Constin is your man for school unless he says so. And rue the day he fraks that up." Those green eyes flick to Elf. "What I was going over when you walked in? Saratoga Session." Apparently she's assigned a codename. "We need to talk. Operations to.. your official capacity for insertions." Nataly may or may not know Elf's role as Jumpmaster for the ship.

"You damn right," Constin mutters to Nataly as she interprets his answer correctly. He scowls habitually as she starts making light, right up until the bit about magnets provokes a short, "Hrm. You're also gonna get your classroom session doubled up tomorrow, so that you got time to attend the services Thursday, Recruit." Then Vandenberg offers that threat. "Had a feeling you'd say that," he mutters, half to himself. 'Saratoga' draws a short nod. "What you need?"

"Back to work," Nataly says with a nod, then a small salute. Just in case. "See you tomorrow morning, Sarge, and I'll come by when I can, Natalie. Take care, both of you."

"Keep it up, maggot," Vandenberg offers with a smile. Its probably a term of endearment by now. She sketches a salute with her bandaged right hand and looks back to Elf. "Munitions and ordnance. Our team is going to be on their own out there but mobility is going to be key. We need to plan for seventy-two hours on the ground before extraction or resupply. I got my own ideas for loadouts. Lemme hear yours." She pushes down the recording button and the device beeps.

"Recruit," Constin notes in parting to Nataly, returning the small salute with a precise one of his own; a none too subtle reminder not to half-ass a salute. Respect, respect, respect. Only then does he look back at Vandenberg. "Well. Mobility being key, would say leaving the Karls. Would like a Zasta if the loadout allows. Gee-Mar battle rifles and an underbarrel grenade launcher for the grenedier. If a supply crate can get dropped, that'll change the loudout. How many jumpers?"

Jumpers. Right. She was so busy listening she almost missed the question. "Five. Max. Team Leader, Rifleman, Grenadier, Corpsman, Light Gunner." She's worked hard to commit that to memory. "We'll need distance hitting capability on at least one rifle. If we can get a shooter good enough with a GMAR, I'm happy." She swallows, scooting down a bit from her higher seating position. "Small packs. Figure rations for the days, poncho, personal kit, weapons, ammo, ponchos, and that's about it. I'll want a mer- mal- No. Shit. Uhm, yeah- microwave radio set in case we need to break silence. We're on our own for this one, though. If Lagana is ready and healed, I want her as our Corpsman. I'll approve an LMG, but no Zasta. Grab one of the others- can't remember the name. They're lighter." Mobility mobility mobility. "Tell me what we're looking for on the recon."

"Eff-Aych Em-Eight-Thirteen," Constin fills in. "Thought about that, but then thought about durability issues over seventy-two hours. A Zasta ain't as light-and-tight, but with a spare barrel I got no worries on function." Predictably, he'd favor bulky but reliable. A short shrug. "But the load limit might make it a moot point, anyhow." A long drawn breath. "Lysander's a damned fair hand as a Designated Marksman, but he'd need drilling on Jump procedure. Can't promise he'll vet by then. As for recon.. surveillance of positions, securing an El-zee, monitoring of terrestrial wireless traffic."

"I'll hump the spare barrel and be assistant gunner, assuming I'm cleared for the insertion. It might be a landing op if they can find a way to stealth a Raptor, but I doubt it. Plan for a jump." Vandenberg takes a moment to unscatter her brain and think on what Elf just said. Right. Okay. "Don't know if he'll be ready. He's also proposed to Lagana which may be a complication. Plan on who we know is ready. I've got Lagana qual'd. As for the LZ, don't worry about that too much. Terrain is a bitch. We're going to have to find an LZ once we land. Uhm. Yeah, we also need to look at how they are treating civilians. Are the civilians armed? Uhm.." She takes a frustrated breath. "Frak these drugs, man." The officer is doing her best to power through it. "Priority goes to the civilians for surveillance. It's got to. That will tell us everything. I'm less concerned.. Gods I think I am.. less with their positions than I am with how people are being treated." She cleans her throat and lies back into the pillow. "If they even think we're on the ground, the mission is bunk. They can't even suspect we've got anyone from this battlegroup down there or the whole mission is shot. We've gotta make our approach to our surveillance spots real quiet and.. careful." This has to be frustrating as hell for her.

"No shit?" Constin returns to word of Lysander's proposal. It's news to the Gunnery Sergeant. "Jump trained as of now are Jenkins, Maragos, Rian and Richards. Lady's qual'd on Jumping, but I ain't got much confidence in her restrain in this kinda mission profile." A short exhale. "We gotta consider everything. Deployments, positions.. civvies, sure. But gotta say, El-tee: covert surveillance is more your backyard than mine."

"Yes, shit." Van deadpans the reply. "I gotta be honest, Elf. I don't care who is jump trained. Our first consideration has to go to those people who will control themselves under this scenario. I don't want wildcards. We need reliable Marines who are the coolest of heads. Make no mistake, if this looks kosher, I will do anything necessary to prevent a team meber from screwing this up." She might be stoned, but she seems to mean that. "Potential allies, even given the shitty potential of who they might be, cannot be ignored. I don't want some hot-shot frakstick thinkin it might be funny to bag a skinjob down there - especially if they ain't lyin about bein pacifists." She takes a breath. "Like I said, Lagana is ready. She's reliable. She goes. Beyond that, you test motherfrakkers however you need to. One hint of bullshit? Nixed. This isn't like.. like.. that insane plan we had. Straight and on the level, we need this to be clean and by the numbers." She reaches beside her for her oxygen mask and takes a few deep breaths. "Do your homework on the elevens. We know they're down there. I'll bone up on my investigation. Any ideas on who you want to go?"

"Maragos," Elf names first. "I know Cad's up to his eyeballs in bullshit these days, but there ain't any I'd trust further. Past him.." A slow breath as he frowns in thought. "Shit, gotta figure out how Lysander is gonna handle jumping with Lagana. Cause he's got the watch-and-wait for this. Jenkins would do. Lady's out. Kincaid's out.." The list of who is 'out' goes on at length. He belatedly nods to looking up the Elevens. "Chatted with one of them awhile back," he notes idly.

Vandenberg seems to be really pushing through the haze. "I don't give a shit what Maragos is doing, you get him on this team, then. He made the Leonis jump with you - I know that. Do it." She swallows, lifting the mask once more to take a few deep breaths. "This isn't a couples vacation. If Lysander can check his relationship at the door, get him. But you make damned sure. I'm holding you responsible for him. Get Jenkins, too." Another long breath from her mask. "I know you did a few interrogations with them. That's why even if I don't go, you are. What are your impressions of them?" A topic they've never hit. Good thing this is being recorded for her to hear later.

Constin nods curtly to the instructions. "Don't trust what I don't understand, as a rule. Seemed damn near naive, to be plain with you," he note son the subject of the former prisoner. "If it was a human, would be like one of the hippies that tries to get arms factories shut down with boycotts and shit," he opines. "Was keeping shit back from us, but can't say that surprised me. If it lied to us, did so in a way that ain't been seen yet. Then again, a lot of what it said is still unproven. Will go back over the tapes and see if time makes what it said any sharper."

Vandenberg uses her bandaged hands like mittens to hold the mask over her face to catch her breath. Slow and steady. "I looked at the tapes awhile back, myself," she says behind the mask before removing it. "It tracks, though. Pascifists? The way you describe that model?" She sighs. "Nah, no surprise it was hiding anything. But we're still operating under the intel she gave us. So far its all panned out. Can't ignore the help they've given, either." Her eyes drop to the bed out in front of her. "Give them the benefit of the doubt here, Elf. Hyp- Her- Hyperthetically." Close enough. "Let's say they are telling the truth. Any ideas what to expect? You and- and the XO-" whatever his name is- "talked to her. He's out for intel."

"IF it were telling the truth," Elf caveats in return, "I gotta expect either cylons got some kinda programming against killing their own, or else the rest of the Cylons got no idea where this little hippie campsite is set up. In which case they might not take too kindly to the notion of a Battlestar Group orbiting over their heads, drawing attention. The biggest sticking point for me- assuming this shit is on the level- is that for some reason, the cylons ain't wiped this little party out, yet. If we sit still, the toasters can bring together a big enough force that we can't fight them off."

Vandenberg nods a few times, holding the mask up while Elf speaks his piece. "We know they've got a basestar in orbit. It didn't fire on the recon bird so assuming.. assuming.. its on the level, they've got a big amount of fire support. That goes for the Raider banks it has, too." She takes a breath again, looking back up to him. "So we've got some initial questions right there. I'll probably recommend to command that we keep the fleet back for now. Good points all around." Natalie bites her lower lip. "El." She looks right at him. "Those Raiders acted like human pilots having a good time. The Centurions had kids on their shoulders. Remember what you ran into above Sag? You think they've slaved human souls into Raiders and Cents on a large scale?"

"Vandy, there ain't a basestar ever made that could secure even a corner of a planet if the cylons wanted it wiped out," Elf returns with a wary exhale. the 'what if' Natalie offers earns a thoughtful frown. "Wouln't be the craziest thing I've ever heard. I just don't know. Too many unanswered questions. But one thing?" he notes, meeting Vandenberg's eye intently. "That Centurion in dogtas weren't giving kids no pigybacks. It couldn't bear existing."

Shit. Why the hell didn't she think of that? Natalie hangs her head. "Yeah. Good point. So we gotta assume, on our end, that for some reason that the nasty honchos are leaving this little sect alone. For some reason. That stinks like a trap. Bad." Natalie takes a few more breaths from the mask while she thinks on what Elf says. "Right, but hear me out on this one:" The officer looks away. "Say you or I were somehow captured. Our souls we put into these things. We were slaves. Our bodies were dead." She closes her eyes, the drugs making that a little too real for a moment. "Suddenly we're free. But we're not just free, we're someplace like Lampridis. Someplace that despite being stuck in a Centurion body, we could make a difference. We're frakking Marines. You fight until you can't. Would you just kill yourself because you were stuck in a tin body? Or would you fight to protect those who were free from the same fate?" She looks back to him. "I know I'd fight. Worst godsdamned nightmare imaginable, but we don't quit because our lives suck. Its never about us."

"Well, the suicidal Centurion's dogtags WERE a pilot's," Constin notes to Vandenberg's question. He shrugs as if that explains everything. Another breath drawn through flared nostrils and let out in the words, "Speculation, pure and simple, but not off the table. humans loaded into robots is something we should attempt to determine on the ground. Look for habits or mannerisms that don't line up with prior Cylon examples." As for whether he'd kill himself, the big man simply twists his lip into a smirk. "I ain't dying a quitter, Vandy. I got folk watching, y'see."

Vandenberg smiles a little darkly to Constin's remark about the pilot's dogtags. "It was also a lone personality thinking it was at a hopeless end. Damned thing shot the frak out of the incoming Centurions to protect you all." She holds his gaze a moment longer and looks to the bedding once more. "Oh no, its all speculation. Every bit of it. But mannerisms outside normal Centurions? Like having a party with a bunch of people and walkin around with kids on their shoulders?" Chilling. There's a short, abrupt laugh almost like a bark at his last. "Yeah. I think we all do, Elf. Fifty billion eyes upon us. A certain few especially. I know I've got mine."

"Well, it tried to. Remember: pilot's programming. Poor bastard couldn't hit shit." See? Even constin can try to crack an occasional joke while discussing a fate worse than death. "Yeah, we all got our eyes and our 'some day's. And by the time your lazy ass gets out of bed, we'll have a jump team."

Van laughs, stiffling it quickly and holding her mitten bandages to her chest. "Oh. Ohhh hell. Ow. You little frak," she whispers, still smiling with the jokes. To the rest, she nods her head once. "Oorah. Lookin forward to mine. But like you, I think mine would be a little pissed if I just quit." She lifts the mask once more and takes a deep breath with her eyes still on the sheets. Faces remembered. Experiences lived. Feelings carried. Memories forged. "Alright. I think I need sleep, Elf. Thanks for coming by." She lifts a mitten to turn off the recorder. "I need to get with the wing about this. If you run into Lieutenant Leyla Aydin, tell her I need to talk to her, please?"

Constin cracks a brief, tight grin at the accusations of frakkery. "Yeah," is all he voices in answer to the reflections on those left watching. the moment of silence is appreciated by both marines. "Yeah," he ultimately repeats. "Will send the Lieutenant in, if I happen to run across her. Rest up, Vandy."

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