PHD #276: Show Me
Show Me
Summary: Vandenberg interviews McManus. Trouble is afoot.
Date: 29 Nov 2041 AE
Related Logs: Keep Your Eyes Peeled
Vandenberg McManus 
Taeryth Warehouse
Two large doors open onto a warehouse floor almost the size of a football field. It's all poured concrete, cracked and stained, with abandoned tools and machinery clustered around the edges of the room. One corner has been walled off into an office, the door to which hangs open, only one hinge still attached. Another massive door leads into the plant proper, where giant vats and mixers rust, packed together tightly. The ceiling in the main warehouse is several stories high, and a network of pipes and catwalks run overhead, accessible by an iffy-looking staircase. A door at the back leads to the loading dock.
Post-Holocaust Day: #276

Later in the afternoon after the sun has spent most of the spin warming the colony, the day is finally beginning to cool off. In the large warehouse a few Marines mill around their posts but one in particular has spent the day hopping around to talk quietly with a few different people. She's a short blond with barely the height on her to meet minimums. Her swagger and sharp gaze seems to give away her overwhelming confidence, though. Perhaps its well-deserved. Maybe not. She finally approaches a small group of survivors and lifts her chin, clearing her throat. "I'm looking for a Paul McManus. Do me a favor and point me the way, please?" Its not so much a request as she might have otherwise given in peacetime.

McManus wipes his mouth of the few crumbs from the biscuit he'd scrounged, lifting his chin to see who calls the name, then rising ponderously to his feet. "Yeah, I'm McManus, sir," he affirms, looking the small blonde over. For his part, he's a beefy guy, if a little bedraggled, with a scruffy beard and distinctly unregulation hair length after spending months on Tauron. He has, however, at least washed off the worst of the dirt and rudimentary camo from his skin, and the tufts of grass taped to his clothing and pack have been ripped away. "What's up?"

The female officer moves over towards the volunteered voice and looks the man up and down as he does the same to her. Its the woman's own quick evaluation. "I'm Lieutenant Vandenberg, Colonial Marines, Mister McManus." She motions back to the seat he just rose from. "Please, make yourself comfortable. I can conduct your entrance interview if you like but I'm the Marines Operations Officer. I talk to the survivors about what kinds of things they have seen, what their own experiences were, what it all means in the larger picture on the ground. Right now I'd just like to know if you have any prior military experience, what and where it was, and when it was - if any at all."

McManus reaches a hand to his neck, flipping out a set of dog tags to help answer the question. "I'm a Petty Officer 3rd Class, sir, with the CEC Marsyas. Corpsman with the SAR crew, usually. Or was, until I got stuck down here surrounded by machines and clones. How's the war going out there? Are we kicking ass, sir?"

Vandenberg takes out a small notepad and pen, jotting down the name and service number on the dogtags as he produces them. The ship name gets noted as well. "I know the feeling. They yanked me off Aerilon with my fireteam about seven weeks back," she allows quietly, writing. When she finishes, she looks back up and meets his eyes. "Not exactly, Petty Officer." A short breath leaves her. "Tauron wasn't hit too badly, Mister McManus, and that should tell you something. I can't comment too much until we get you completely processed but the situation isn't ideal. We've got a combat capable battlegroup that has been beating some ass but its about an uphill struggle as you're going to find. So far the fight in space isn't too different from the fight I would assume you had on the ground against the canners. Lonely, hard, bloody, and one that you can't afford to lose." She lets that sink in and looks back to her pad of paper. "How long have you been on Tauron, Petty Officer, and were you involved in any ground combat operations against the Cylons?"

"Tauron wasn't hit too badly?" McManus repeats in disbelief, face falling. "Oh… shit. I've been down here since February, whatever that works out as now. Six months? Seven? I was down here with the Virgon boys for training and a couple of matches, but… yeah, I haven't seen any of the guys since we got separated then. The tin cans are pretty much everywhere so I've just been keeping my head down, trying to get food and trying not to get spotted. They've got to know you guys are here by now, though, I'm sure of it. You're not making it a big secret with all the aircraft all the time," he reproaches, even now taking a long look across the horizon for any sign of danger. "And they've got a load of clones in the cities, so you have to try to stay clear of those, too. You guys going to be able to ship me back to the Marsyas? They'll have me pegged as a goner, I don't doubt."

"Nearly ten months, Mister McManus. Far as we can tell the Cylons have evacuated Tauron. They did the same thing on Aerilon and Sagittaron back in the middle of July after this battlegroup managed to roundhouse the toasters in the face but good." The woman talks while she notes some of the aspects of what the large man has been telling her. "Aircraft operations aren't my purview but I would assume Command has it all noted well. The groundside operations, thus far, have been smooth for the most part since the cans packed up and consolidated." Says the Lieutenant with a fresh scar on the left side of her neck. The last, though, gets Vandenberg to draw a short breath. "Petty Officer, the Marsyas was confirmed destroyed during the main engagement over Virgon. As far as we can tell.. all hands were lost. They weren't the only ones, either." The woman lifts her eyes to look at him once more. "The Colonial Navy lost nearly five hundred ships over Virgon. Including more than half the fleet of battlestars."

McManus winces, drawing in a sharp breath. "You're kidding me, right, sir?" He musses his hair with one hand, lowering himself down to sit again. "How about Virgon?" he asks, forcing some hope. "And Caprica? How about the Aggie? She still flying? And you're wrong about the cylons. They're here, still. Sometimes you see the light reflect off them at a distance, if you keep your eyes open, and their clones hide out in the cities."

"Virgon was hit one of the hardest of all the colonies, Petty Officer." Vandenberg keeps her voice low. "The battlegroup ran a recon back there the day after the strikes. It looks like a total loss. Sorry to have to be the one to tell you that." She wets her lips and looks back to the notes. "Caprica is still fairly intact but the canners seem like they've made a home out of it. There's a lot of activity there. They major population centers escaped the nuclear strikes but we have had no human contact with anyone on the colony or who survived the attacks on site. The Aegean was also lost above Virgon in a similar fashion as the Marsyas. They all went down fighting, Petty Officer." She eyes the man, though, at his last commentary on the Cylons. "You've- You've actually seen Cylons in the cities and the humanoids there? In the last few weeks?" She sounds deadly serious. "Are you absolutely positive about what you saw or are you guessing? Be damned sure."

McManus pauses, scratching at his beard. "I'm… fairly sure?" he hazards, doubt beginning to creep into his voice. "I haven't been close enough to get a positive ID. I've been avoiding them, not trying to find them."

Vandenberg jots down notes and fingers at the radio on her left shoulder, eyes holding on the man closely. "What have they been doing? Can you tell?" She's getting more insistent but seems to be devoid of threats - which may be a function of her temperment or a byproduct of her dimunitive size.

"I couldn't say, sir," McManus admits. "If I saw anything that moved, glowed or shone in the sun within a couple of klicks of me, I hotfooted out of there. I haven't seen them shooting in… a few months, yeah. I figured they were just running out of us targets to shoot."

"These human ones you've seen, did you get close enough to make out sex, height, body structure, maybe any faces?" She taps the button on the radio and begins transmitting: "Cerberus, Dog Actual. I have incoming priority traffic. Standby for words." She reaches into her tactical vest and removes a large map, unfolding it. The radio crackles with a confirmation. Vandenberg kneels down on one leg and takes out a pen. The map depicts the land masses of Tauron in different sections but without much detail. There's some remarks jotted on it. The grease pencil in her hand drops to it quickly as she looks up to McManus. "Show me where you've seen these bastards and where you were found. We're here.." The pencil stabs at a circled 'X'.

McManus moistens his lips as he takes the map, turning it and looking out across the landscape as best he can to orient himself. He gestures out to a couple of hills, then taps the map with one finger in question, raising an eyebrow mutely to confirm with the Lieutenant. Satisfied with that, he then turns his attention to tracing a valley with one finger, explaining, "Been travelling along here since I saw you guys arrive, but I would have been headed… south east, I guess, to start. The tournament was at Dudley," and he taps the map more confidently on finding that city. "Yeah, I headed down here, for sure. Dudley was just… full of them. The tin cans, mostly, at least to start. When I went back to try to salvage what I could? That's when I saw the clones. There's like three different clones, one's a blonde girl, pretty, maybe five ten, five eleven, one's a brunette, a bit shorter than that, and one's an older guy. Grey hair."

Vandenberg wastes no time circiling the areas in question and making arrows. She then takes out a black marker to highlight the route that McManus had been travelling. There's an obvious hurry. Someone could explode behind her and she probably would just ignore it right now. "Dudly," she repeats quietly, making notations to the man's words on the maps. "Today is twenty-nine November. When did you last see these things there?" She's tossed her notebook onto the floor of the warehouse and is scribbling down shorthand notes afterwards. "Were these skinjobs working with the chrome domes or were they operating seperately? Were these skinjobs talking with each other ever or did you just seem them individually?"

McManus winces. "Uh… I don't know, sir. Up close? Not since maybe March. I don't know, I'm sorry. The tournament was supposed to be early March, so… yeah. I didn't see them together any time. But I saw one blow up, then the next day, there it was again. I saw the same one all over the city. That's how I figured they have to be cloning."

"Its a sort of cloning. What they are doing is growing new bodies. According to intel they all have the same basic personality installed when they are taken out of their birthing tubs. One of the ones the battlegroup captured claims that when one is killed its memories upload and the others retain its knowledge. Clones. Cyborgs. Whatever. I know they bleed and I'm all too happy to drain them." Vandenberg settles back down to takign a few notes and compares them with the map that McManus has pointed out locations on. "I'm not worried about up close, though. How recently have you seen these skinjobs or the Centurions in the cities or just out in the hills?"

McManus leans over the map again, eyes narrowing. "I saw a flash of something yesterday, about eight, nine hours before I made it here. Over in this area." Another tap of the map. "That's the most recent, sir."

Vandenberg looks to the man and nods once with his indication. She cues the radio once more, still peering over the map. "Cerberus, Dog Actual with traffic: Interviewee on Tauron indicates potential Cylon contact within last twelve hours. Repeat, possible Centurion contact sighted within last twelve hours. Interviewee indicates contact sighted in the area of gridsquare one-one-niner, zero-six-four. It is still unconfirmed at this time. Returning to Cerberus with intel. Dog Actual, out." The woman lets go of the radio and looks over the map. "At any time were you involved in firefights or did you engage the Cylons while you were down here?" She looks like she might want him to take a guess where.

McManus shakes his head firmly. "No, sir. I came down here with a kitbag and a change of underwear. I didn't have a weapon… well, I had a knife, but your boys took that from me yesterday… so I just stayed clear and tried to stay alive."

"Attacking with a knife would have probably been suicide anyway. Alright, thanks." Vandenberg begins folding up the map carefully and tucking it back into her vest. The rifle over her shoulder is adjusted in its sling while the other hand tucks the pen and pencil back into another pocket. "Has anyone bothered to finish out your initial interview yet or are you still fresh and green?"

"Green as cabbages, sir," McManus replies, wiping his mouth again. "I got some chow, some sleep, and that's as far as I got."

Vandenberg puts two fingers in her mouth and lets off a loud whistle to get the attention of another Marine. She waves him over before turning her attention back to McManus. "Alright. Lemme take care of this real fast and I'll get back with you." She steps aside and begins talking quietly with the Lance Corporal. The Marine doesn't appear to have any problem shouldering respect for her and what she is telling him. The woman removes the map again and tears out a few pieces of the notepad. There's some hushed, explicit instructions given quickly before he is dismissed. The Lance turns on a heel with a salute and jogs off and out of the warehouse. Moments later, a Raptor can be heard starting its engines. Vandenberg returns to the man and rolls over a new page on the pad. "Okay, sorry about that. I appreciate the information. Now.." She takes a long breath. "I know you are pretty starved of information. What other questions do you have for me? I'll try to answer as best I can."

McManus just stares for a moment, trying to think what to ask first. "Uh… I… you know who won the twelve nations?" he throws out there. Because clearly what's important is the rugby score at a time like this. Denial, thy name is rugby.

The Marine quirks a brow and sloooowly shakes her head. "Sorry, Mister McManus. Organized sport was never my thing. You want to talk mountaineering or cave diving, I'm all ears, though." She almost hints at a smile. Almost. "The overall situation is this: We're currently picking up survivors where we can. They group has slung around Leonis, Sagittaron, Aerilon, and now here. In that order. Leonis was apparently more of a combat mission but they made some good rescues. The Cylons have consolidated their fleets around the remaining colonies - mostly Caprica and Picon apparently. So far our fleet consists of four fighting ships and one civilian freighter. We've got a flak boat called the Corsair, a missile slinger called the Praetorian, and the Battlestar Cerberus. I guess the fleet picked-up some kind of experimental escort carrier type a few months back and they've been tagging along. There's a civilian freighter being overhauled as well. You interested in coming back to work?"

"Shit, /four/?" McManus echoes in dismay. "We're down to /four/ ships. One battlestar and a couple of gunboats. You got nothing on Virgon at all?" he adds, expression pained. "I've got family…"

"Four ships, Mister McManus. Four ships which have so far accounted for as many as a dozen basestar kills without a single loss since Warday. The people crewing these ships are the hardest fighters and survivors left. Nobody is throwing towels in, either." Vandenberg seems quite convinced with her hard tone. Though her expression soften an inkling with his own concern. "Yeah. I figured. We've lost more than we can ever regain, Mister McManus. I wish there was something I could tell you but Virgon is.." Glassed? Gone? A nuclear wasteland? "Its just not someplace you'll be able to get back to again."

McManus rubs at his face with both hands, silent for a long few moments. "I guess you'll need more corpsmen, then, huh?" he eventually manages, tone soft, before lifting his chin and looking her in the eye. "Where do you need me?"

"We need everyone medically qualified that we can get. We've got a civilian moonlighting as a trauma surgeon in Sickbay. He knows his ply, no doubt, but things aren't as high and efficient as we'd hope." Vandenberg isn't going to sugarcoat their needs. "We could use you. Still remember how to nail a rifle? We need trigger pullers with experience and people who can patch. I can't clear you to come aboard just yet but we'll want you if you can get back in the saddle. I'll see about getting you a shaving kit before you come aboard, though."

McManus ruefully rubs at the beard, nodding. "I can still shoot and patch," he tells her. "How many have you picked up? Guys like me, I mean? 'Survivors'." He tests the word distastefully, frowning at it.

Vandenberg peels off her helmet strap and lifts it off her head. She scratches at her hair, loosening it before tucking the helmet under an arm. "So far? A couple hundred I think. I don't know the exact number. That's the Marine S-Two's bag and I'm Three. There would have been a lot more if the group had moved faster but as it stands, we're barely keeping up with those we have found. I think most everyone from Tauron is being kept down here while we can make living accomodations available within the fleet. Most of the Cerb's Starboard hangar deck is full of survivors. Some have signed-up. Most are still trying to get used to the idea of living again, I think. We're enforcing law and order but we don't even have a government anymore. Its a little hectic. Been quiet since July for the most part but the Cylons hit us a few weeks ago on Aerilon and that prompted us to move on to here."

McManus winces at that, nodding. "I guess I should thank them for forcing you here, then. If there's food and water here, I can make a start on checking up on any civilians you've got held down here if you want, sir?"

"Frak 'em. We were going to get here anyway. We're not leaving any colony behind if we can find a way to get access to it. So far its proving to be near impossible." Vandenberg sighs, shaking her head. "As for right now, I'm afraid not. I need you to sit tight and wait until we can run your background through our database. I can't stop you obviously from helping out, but I can't give you any orders until you've been processed. Hope you can understand that." At least she seems sincerely apologetic.

"I should be dead," McManus notes curiously. "I should be dead so many times over, back home, or with the ship, or here. But I'm not." He shrugs, frowning. "So the gods want me here for something. Can I get a razor, at least?"

"I know the feeling. Only thing that kept my ass alive was my fellow Marines. Can't tell you how many times I owe them that much, either." Vandenberg looks around and settles back on McManus. "Yeah. I'll have a shaving kit delivered but a proper haircut will probably have to wait until you get aboard unless you can convince an MP to let you borrow a bayonette. Good luck there." She smiles ever so slightly. "Anyhow, I need to get back to the Cerb on the double. I'll try and get you cleared ASAP. Since you're military it shouldn't be as hard to get you off the planet. Sound good?"

McManus gives a shy smile, nodding once and briefly touching his forehead in quasi-salute. "Thanks, sir. And thank all the guys who decided to come to Tauron, too."

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