PHD #078: EVENT - A Lie Never Lives to Grow Old
A Lie Never Lives to Grow Old
Summary: Three terrifying hours in the City of Kythera.
Date: 15 May 2041 AE
Related Logs: Concurrent with Zero Hour Part I.
Laskaris Alessandra Tisiphone Cilusia Sitka Samuel Lunair Covington Ashwood Marty Frankie Chris Sholty Croke NPC Polaris 
Bradley D. Leyman Memorial Starport — Kythera — Leonis
Bradley D. Leyman Memorial Starport was once the busiest transport hub on all of Leonis, and its soaring spires were a familiar sight to businessmen rushing in and out for a brief afternoon meeting. It was to Leyman Memorial that the citizens of Kythera fled, and the fortunate ones even managed to get off the ground before a Cylon tactical nuke exploded directly above the Starport. The resulting blast has made it difficult to tell one pile of carbon from another. Not even individual ships can be distinguished from another: as exploding tylium created a deadly chain of secondary explosions in the sky above Kythera, the extreme heat liquefied both ships and anything man built below. Long since returned to room temperature, Leyman and the surrounding area is now a metallic wasteland where nothing will ever grow or live again.
Post-Holocaust Day: #78

It's in the 'surrounding area' that a halt to the ragged Colonial convoy is finally ordered. Battered ATVs park beside what may have been a garage, hulls down to provide cover against any incoming attack — for in a city, bears and wolves are far less dangerous than the mechanical beasts that almost assuredly lurk within. Their job is simple: to search for shelter, which obviously won't be found in this chunk of heavily-irradiated land, and report back as soon as possible. And so it is that these four soldiers set out on foot at precisely 1900 hours, rifles at the ready, their black armor and blacker guns warm from the last rays of the summer sun.

Despite being nearly mauled yesterday by a desperate, half-starved wolf, Lasher finds himself tasked with taking out a patrol. Hey, there's nothing wrong with his legs. He's got his full combat kit; armor, rifle, armor-piercing ammo, the works. He wipes a bead of sweat away from his brow — he'd forgotten how muggy the summers were on Leonis — before looking back to the other three, checking on their readiness.

When she was scouting in the forest, Tisiphone left her helmet back with her gear. Out here, however, with a vista of metal melted to concrete and a ruined city beyond, the full kit suddenly seems a bit more prudent. She's just finished the final drag off a cigarette as the Captain turns his attention toward her and the others — grinding it out underfoot, she blows the lungful of smoke out at the sky and picks up her rifle before moving to follow.

By the time this little adventure is all done, most of the pilots and deck crew might be able to make a case that they should be in the CMC. Cilusia is a pretty good example of that. Boots crunching against the dirt, crumbled concrete, slag metal, whatever else is laying there on the ground as she stars off when Laskaris leads away. Like the others, the full kit (helmet included, with her hair hastily stuffed up under with her makeshift vine hair ties), seems prudent to Cilusia, given the sudden openness and vulnerability of being in the concrete jungle.

Alessandra's as ready as she can get, her gear situated where it needs to be with her armor worn, strapped tightly to her body, and the pack and other things slung over back or limb. The humor she exhibited while they were dealing with last night's wolf-issues has been stowed so when the Captain looks at them she simply nods to him once, signifying she's good to go.

Moving through this difficult terrain takes time, and it's made all the more difficult by the fact that combat boots — already worn from days of non-stop use — weren't intended for use on razor-sharp ground. The process of avoiding bits of jagged metal sticking out of the ground is almost as arduous as the process of finding cover, seeing as the four soldiers are the tallest things in the vicinity by far: even tiny Cilusia stands out like a dirty-blonde thumb, casting her long shadow to the east. Four silhouettes glide silently across this vista of blasted destruction, deforming with every bit of debris over which they drift.

Starfall Place — Kythera — Leonis
Junkyards, repair shops, fast-food restaurants, cheap apartments, student hostels — low-income workers and poor tourists have to stay somewhere, and the city planners of Kythera saw fit to place them here, just north of the bustling starport below. Not only would this arrangement keep such undesirables isolated in close proximity to the place where the majority of them worked, it'd also create a buffer with which the posh neighborhoods to the north might be shielded from the sound of passing ships. Not that the sound of passing ships is much of a problem any longer, judging from the crashed passenger liners and smaller personal vessels strewn all about the streets.
Many of the buildings in the north have scorch marks that seem to point to a huge blast, or series of them, in a flattened area to the south. Along the ground or dangling precariously from rooftops and high places, the ghastly sight of horrifically burned people can be found in progressively worse stages the closer one gets to ground zero. Only the city's maintenance yard has survived the holocaust, cloistered as it is in the far eastern corner of Starfall Place. Lines of buses still sit partially disassembled in its bays. Radiation levels here are particularly high, and they get even higher when a breeze blows in from the south. The waters of the River Elpeus are visible to the west.

Fifteen minutes' worth of trekking later and the sun has vanished entirely, painting the River Elpeus a beautiful bloody red before withdrawing below the horizon and taking its light with it. Stubby streetlights in various states of disrepair emerge from the distance: artificial trees lining narrow streets arranged — thank the Lords of Kobol! — according to the gridded design in such vogue with rationalist city planners. And there in the median, covered in a thin coating of dust, is a small blue-white sign whose top screw came loose during the tumult of Warday. "Welcome to the City of Kythera," it proclaims in upside-down letters, and as the scouts approach they'll hear it rattle against its post as a stiff breeze blows in from the half-story housing complexes to the north.

The order is no torches; Laskaris would rather progress be slow than potentially alert any Cylon patrols to their presence. They were lucky enough to avoid enemy contact in the forest, but they likely won't be so alone or so lucky in an urban area. Advancing with his rifle out, Lasher stays along the side of the street; as the group crosses into the city, he'll lead them along the sidewalk, moving around the trees lining the street in the hopes they'll partially shield his people from prying eyes.

Lucky is errily quiet, the scenery having done well to remove her of anything to say. Or at least that's at first. A pan from left to right has her gasping in surprise and she stops, her voice raising to a harsh whisper as she reaches out to slug Laskaris in the shoulder, lightly. "Look…" Motioning to the east with the barrel of her rifle, she indicates several large items off in the distance, those appearing to be buses. "What do you think? Should we check them out…" she pauses and then tacks on a, "…sir," in afterthought.

"Well, I'll be frakkin damned…we finally got here, and mostly in once piece," Cilusia says to nobody in particular, just muttering out to the breeze. She falls in behind the rest of the scouting party, going so far as to run a hand over the charred surfaces of the artificial trees. They crumble a bit on the surface from her fingers, the char falling off. One step finds something new to crunch on, though. Stopping, blinking, looking down, Cilusia finds that her eyes are getting more used to the dark. "I…well…excuse me," she says to whatever it is she stepped on. "Uh…Sir? You might want to look back here. I think I found a body…bones and stuff…" she calls out to Laskaris.

In flight, Tisiphone's happiest off someone's portside wing — on foot, she ends up trailing after Laskaris off to his left. Old habits die hard. Her expression is shuttered as they enter the ruins of the city, and goes blank, almost wooden, as her attention moves off further down the street as it melts into darkness. "A lot of bodies," she adds to Cilusia's comment, pointing her chin further down the street. "They were far enough from the blast they weren't turned to dust."

Lasher sees the buses as well; he stops right as Alessandra hits him in the shoulder. As it happens, it's the same one that took the wolf bite; he grimaces, grunting in pain as he shoots a dirty look the woman's way. He looks down, his eyes finally acclimated enough to the darkness that he can make out the fuzzy outline of the bodies Tisiphone and Cilusia mention. "Not as they'd've lived long enough to know the difference," he notes quietly. A look back towards Allie, and he grunts. "Might as well start carryin' around giant flashin' signs saying 'HERE WE ARE, CYLONS' if we start driving those bleedin' things around. Though, if you want to have a look…" A shrug.

Lasher sees the buses as well; he stops right as Alessandra hits him in the shoulder. As it happens, it's the same one that took the wolf bite; he grimaces, grunting in pain as he shoots a dirty look the woman's way. He looks down, his eyes finally acclimated enough to the darkness that he can make out the fuzzy outline of the bodies Tisiphone and Cilusia mention. "Not as they'd've lived long enough to know the difference," he notes quietly. A look back towards Allie, and he grunts. "Might as well start carryin' around giant flashin' signs saying 'HERE WE ARE, CYLONS' if we start driving those bleedin' things around." Instead, he nods to the north, at the scorched, run-down housing complexes. "Let's start there."

Alessandra winces a half a second after Anton reacts in pain, her brow arching up for a moment before creasing heavily. "Sorry." She's not used to him being the injured one out of the two of them, hence why she hit him like she did although she didn't really hit him that hard, it taking some getting used to. "And I didn't say we had to drive them, Captain Grouchass. But maybe there's something we could use. Like maybe fuel." That's all she says though as she's looking around again, this time in an attempt to get a bead on the bodies before they move elsewhere.

"We need to find shelter," Tisiphone murmurs, half-distracted by the dim grey-against-grey outline of bones across the street. "Once we find that, might be something useful in a bus depot. Fuel, at least, yeah." A slight nod toward Alessandra. "Smaller vehicles, too." She rakes her teeth against her bottom lip for a moment before again moving to follow after Laskaris toward the housing complexes.

North it is. If Leyman Memorial was Ground Zero, this neighbourhood must be Ground Zero Point Five. Bits of broken drywall loom out from silent storefronts as the scouting party crunches along, crunches along — over glass, asphalt, metal, even the occasional bone. There, tattered flags hang from the ruins of broken balconies; there, bones in sequined clubbing dresses glimmer faintly beneath the light of the stars; and there, after a few minutes spent picking through fenders and lamps and manhole covers broken by irruptions of now-dried sewage, is a spot on the ground that seems to be surging and swelling —

Yup. It's a swarm of cockroaches feasting on said broken sewer, proving beyond a doubt that roaches — those damnable beetles — are far better than men at surviving a nuclear holocaust. They swarm towards warm meat with the clacking of merciless mandibles. And while they find that body armor and heavy trousers are harder to bite through than the flesh of those people whose bones are still there within that swarm, it's more than enough to cause cries of disgust from several members of the team. Alessandra in particular has difficulty keeping her voice down as she swats at the insects trying to make a meal out of her gloved hands, of her long brown hair, of every bit of exposed skin they can find —

And even before her brief shriek of panic fades away there comes the distinctive sound of clanking from the south — past which intersection the Colonials have already moved.

The Cylons have come to play.

Well, there's nothing subtle or secret or mysterious about that sound! When the Cylons come up on the group from behind Cilusia makes her first reaction to pull the gun up to her shoulder, spin back around, and fire at the Cylons. Her rifle is set to single fire though, and she takes time to fire just one shot before she thinks about finding cover, both from the machines and the bugs. Bugs she's dealt with before; they're the lesser of two evils right now.

Lasher emits a soft snarl of disgust at the roaches, the noise inaudible from the sounds made by the others. His blood runs cold at the sound of clanking, and after catching sight of the bobbing red eyes closing in the darkness, he ducks for the nearest bit of cover. Never mind the fact it's covered in swarming roaches. Never mind the fact that they start crawling all over his boots, and a few from above plop down with hissing noises onto his helmet and shoulders. He levels his rifle nonetheless, thumbing his weapon to burst fire and opening fire on the first Cylon he sees.

Tisiphone's cursing may be quieter than Alessandra's shriek, but the coarse Sagittaran syllables hold just as much disgusted horror. In between one wiping slap and the next, the all-too-familiar CLANK, CLANK is heard and she freezes as if her blood had gelled in her veins. Pale eyes dart around in the darkness for an eternity of a heartbeat before she scrambles to the side, searching out cover — a blasted car, some concrete steps, /anything/ — that isn't trying to crawl under her armour.

"…oh no…" Allie whispers when she sees the Toasters approaching them, it adding to the sinking, gnawing feeling in her gut. Gritting her teeth, she prepares to do what she can to keep from getting shot, eventually finding a spot among the roaches to take cover, this while preparing to shoot at one of the metal assholes once they get close enough to do so.

Several shadowy figures emerge from the darkness, their chrome torsos marking them quite distinctively as new-model Centurions. It's hard to see just how many of them there are, though there are at least four: a quartet of red eyeslits thrumming lowly beneath the chittering of innumerable bugs. Heedless of danger, they press forward until the humans are in sight — and then, in a single blinding burst, their extended muzzles flash yellow as a steady stream of bullets pours towards the Colonial position. Mindless cockroaches crunch under their feet as gunfire explodes around them, echoing down the street's wrecked remains.

It's not for nothing that they staged this ambush at night, which might well be day as far as they're concerned: judging, at least, from their precise shooting. Alessandra — the source of the shriek — is riddled from head to toe with bullets, which slash through her heavy body armor to reach the yielding flesh beneath; blood drips onto the ravenous beasts that leap onto her body, her face, her legs, her hands…

Yeah, well, luck has a habit of running out as Allie has learned before, this being a near-replay of the attack on the Cerberus when she got shot the first time. All that's lacking is a mass of corpses and a blood-splattered stairwell. She doesn't even get to where she can hide before crumbling on her way to try and hide, the unconsciousness that hits her immediately making her blisfully unaware that she has roaches crawling on her.

Yeah, well, luck has a habit of running out as Allie has learned before, this being a near-replay of the attack on the Cerberus when she got shot the first time. All that's lacking is a mass of corpses and a blood-splattered stairwell. She doesn't even get to where she can hide before crumbling on her way to try and hide, unfortunately awake to feel the roaches crawling on her, one of which makes a home in her left ear.

When the bullets start to fly their way, Cilusia decides it's time to find some real cover. While she bolts for the cover provided by some burned out vehicles, she's swatting and batting at bugs with her free hand and with her rifle. The sight might be comical, if it weren't so tragic - teeny tiny deckie, outfitted in combat gear, big rifle, batting at tiny bugs while dancing around to avoid fire and find cover.

Tisiphone's mad scrambling takes her across the street from the writhing roachswarm to a narrow staircase of crumbling concrete and brick, flanked on either side by trashbins. It reeks. She couldn't care much less. She crouches down, half-hidden by the combination of galvanized tin and brick, and adds her own gunfire to the mix, the bursts lighting the street like a nightmarish strobe light.

"Godsdamnit!" Lasher roars as the Centurions' bullets rip through the air and Alessandra goes down hard. "Fasi! Help her!" He points to Alessandra; the little blonde deckie is the best one with a medkit besides Allie herself, after all. "Will cover you," he grunts a moment later as he pulls the trigger, his hate-filled eyes and weapon still trained on the same Centurion as before.

Still the Cylons fire, heedless of the cockroaches whose legs find purchase on their smooth and polished armor, chrome turning black in the reflection of their guns — guns that sweep from left to right to left to right. Bullets ricochet off of bricks, cars, Lasher: well, they don't so much ricochet off of Lasher as sink into him, tearing into his abdomen and hand. And then, over the commotion, comes a hearty yell and the thudding of footsteps —

Human ones. "Dudes, what the frak!" shouts the youth at the head of the formation, his floppy blond hair visible even in the dim light. In his hands is a tremendous shotgun whose barrel has been sawed the frak off; in the hands of his three friends are jury-rigged explosives they now launch into the air with amateurish hurls. "Just frakking GROOVING with some free frakking WEED and now you bring these godsdamned Cylons down on top of our — "

BLAM goes his gun, drowning out whatever else he'd been planning to say.

"You guys go. Leave…leave me here…" Allie's somehow managing to gasp that through the pain and the lack of air due to the chest wound, that a familiar feeling. She's unaware of what's going on now, the new arrivals to the gang bang going without so much as a glance from the felled pilot.

Tisiphone's eyes narrow to sleet-blue slits as her burst of bullets catches a Centurion in the neck — a moment later, when it topples to earth, a taut and mirthless grin slashes across her face. Got you, frakker. Laskaris's bellowed order to Cilusia pops her eyes open wide. "The frak?! Get her off the street first!" she shouts, rifle raised for another burst of shots.

Oy, looks like some form of cavalry is here. Somehow, over the roar of both Cylon fire AND shotgun fire, Cilusia manages to hear Laskaris' instructions. No sooner does she find cover and pats down her gear to pull out the little soldier first aid kit before she bolts out to Alessandra, keeping her head down, just doing her best to make a small target while the Cylons are distracted by their fallen comrade and the arrival of new targets. Reaching Allie, she kneels down and starts to slide the girl's arm about her shoulders. "Nobody's leaving anyone anywhere," she says, for what it's worth. Grunting, she starts to drag the pilot back toward the car where she just was a moment ago.

One down, three to go. Lasher spares one last look over to Allie. "Oh, shut your damn stupid gob with that self-pityin' 'leave me' shite Self-pitying crap. I swear to all the gods, woman…" He shakes his head with a quiet growl before looking back to the Centurions — only to stop with a start as another voice sounds in the night. "Just frakkin' shoot, you damned stupid mophead!" Laskaris snarls at the lead newcomer. "You can complain when the bulletheads are dead!" Lasher squeezes off another round to punctuate the words.

CLANK. CLANK. CLANKCLANKCLANK — THUD. Centurions sure fall loudly. As for those roaches, the entire swarm goes up in a burst of flame, their chitinous shells lit by the newcomers' makeshift bombs. It's instinct that takes them away from the fire — deep underground to the tunnels from whence they came, flowing like lava while their dead friends twitch legs-up in the air. And when the noise dies down:

"Lords almighty," the blond man drawls, his shotgun leveled directly at Alessandra's chest. "You said that weed was good, Marty." Presumably, Marty's the redhead who's hanging her head in shame. "You said that shit would get us all — all like, euphoric, Marty, that's what you said. All relaxed and shit." The gun's held awkwardly, though it certainly looks sufficiently deadly that, even in the hands of an amateur, some damage will likely be dealt. "We-e-e-ll, dude, let me tell you something: I'm not feeling euphoric." His slow and steady tenor rises in weary indignation. "I'm feeling pretty frakking angry, guys, that somebody led the godsdamned machines to our hideout."

"Got it from a police impound," Marty mumbles. "Sorry, Colin." As she levels a police-issue pistol at the soldiers.

"Sorry, she says. She says she's sorry." The blond just shakes his head. "Oh, suck a ba-a-a-a-g of cocks, Marty. And you four, you'd best start talking."

Alessandra's not the most easiest of patients to get onto their feet at first as she's kind of rubbery-legged but the medic's efforts are eventually rewarded. "Frak off, Lasher," Allie spits at the Captain verbally while she's moved, her arm pressed tightly to her chest while the other's draped around Cilusia. "Frakker," she whispers to her savior while they make their way to cover. "Just he wait. Once I'm frakking better I'm going to kick his frakking godsdamned sorry ass." Teeth stained red with blood clench as the explosions and shooting commences, THAT getting her attention. "Did we…did we bring grenades?" Okay, Lucky's not quite with it to see the others, yet.

Praise each and every god, goddess, and godlet out there for grenades — if it wasn't for the ears-ringing aftereffect. Tisiphone straightens slowly and warily. The safety on her rifle is not clicked on, but the muzzle is pointed down at the sidewalk. "Here," she calls to Cilusia, stepping toward the deckie as she drags Alessandra over. "No roaches over here." Rather than assist in dragging, she seems to be… guarding, really. As for words to the strangers? Nothing but mistrustful looks. First Contact is left to the one in charge.

"No…no we don't have grenades or nothing. It's…there's townies or something here. They have grenades," Cilusia informs Allie, dragging her as gently as it possible given how they sort of get rocked by the explosions, stopping momentarily, ducking down out of instinct. "Come on…over here…down here. We'll uh, patch you up. Good as new, I swear." Allie gets helped off to where Tisiphone is motioning, before being laid down as gently as possible to begin treating.

"Let me tell you somethin', 'dude," Lasher spits, Aerilon accent in full force. He's tired, he's hurt, and he's officially Sick Of This Frakkin Planet. "You can shove it up your arse, for all that I give a frak." His rifle is leveled at the other blond man's head. And oh yeah, that's his thumb flicking to the fullauto setting. "Captain Anton Laskaris, Colonial Fleet. Now are you goin' to get those weapons out of my face, or are we gonna have problems?" His voice is that of a man who's clearly had it up to here. "If you're not going to help us, then get the frak out of my way, afore I start feeling unfriendly."

"Sure don't fight like you're in the Fleet," the blond observes, laughing lowly. "Cause really, dude, I could put on some lipstick, maybe a dress with one of those low-cut scooped-out things, you know, ri-i-i-i-ght here — " And his free hand wiggles invitingly near his ripped blue t-shirt. "I could do that, but that still wouldn't make you want to hang ten on Ash's Wood, would it? So just cause you're wearing a soldier's uniform doesn't mean — Frankie? Frankie, he-e-e-y. Buddy, snap to it." The blond taps his knuckled fist against his massive friend's shoulder, squishing into arm-fat before bouncing right out. "Check them out, man. Think they're soldiers."

"Don't give a frak," comes Frankie's shockingly high voice, his bloodshot eyes blinking. "Hey, maybe if they have some food, we can rob 'em."

"Dude's getting hungry," says the blond apologetically. "Love him to death, though. Frakking lo-o-o-o-ve Frankie, even though he plays that game with, like, I don't know, big lizards with wings and twenty-sided dice."

"But Colin, I'm a level eight magus of the sepulcher," the large man protests faintly. Still that gun doesn't move.

"I frakking love him," Colin repeats, rolling his eyes. "But he won't be able to necromance your ass," says the blond, a little apologetically. "So, uh. Let's say you calm down and let us help you instead of pointing those things around like you know how to use them? But that means you'll have to give your guns to Marty, here, for the time being." A light shrug. "Can never be too sure, with all these new Cylons running around."

"Anton," Allie moans while getting laid down although she won't let herself recline fully, allowing for her pack to help keep her seated up some. "Play nice with the kids, please? They've been through just as much as we have, if not more. Relax and everyone…" This is where she tries to put a bit of oomph into her voice. "…calm the frak down before we call the attention of more of the metal frakkers and they come to finish off the job the first could accomplish." Now she's spent and she closes her eyes, the last of her energy gone. At least Cil shouldn't have any complications with treating her now.

Tisiphone's fingers go white-knuckled on the grip of her rifle, though the muzzle remains pointed at the sidewalk. Her mouth tightens into a thin line, then twists, as if she's chewing hard on words to keep from speaking them, and she breathes harshly through her nose. "Not. Good," she mutters, mouth barely moving, as she continues to stand 'guard' near Cilusia and Alessandra.

Whatever's going on between the two groups is the least of Cilusia's worries. Her rifle is slung over her back and the solider aid kits from both the armor and their various pockets and belt pouches and everything lays out, ready to be used, on Allie's chest, and pieces of discarded armor that comes off with buckle snaps and Velcro tears. Wipe here…gauze there…inject small hypo of morpha JAB right there — Cilusia's tongue sticks out of the corner of her mouth a little while she works, playing doctor.

Lasher stands his ground. "It's not happening, mophead," he snarls to the remark about handing over weapons, with a dark, derisive snort of laughter mixed in. "And if I'm not a frakkin' soldier, then the last eight years have been the wildest trip of my life." His eyes sidle over to Tisiphone, before settling once more on Colin. "What the frak are you talking about, new Cylons?" A shake of the head. "We're pilots, not frakkin' marines." Well, except for Cil, of course. "Doesn't mean I'm a bad enough shot to miss from here. Care to try me, or shall we all start acting sane?"

Tisiphone's watching the little interplay between Laskaris and the four thugs pointing guns at him rather intently — so when he looks over her way, her pale brows immediately shoot upward just slightly, in some sort of silent query. Just /what/ question she's trying to convey is likely impossible to know — though she shifts her weight restlessly on her feet, white-knuckled fingers readjusting on her rifle's grip.

"Look, dude — can I call you dude, my man? Don't think I caught your name after all the dick-swinging you did." Colin laughs merrily as he interrupts, his shotgun swinging up and down — echoing weirdly in the suddenly-silent street. "Captain. Anyway, dude — this'd be a whole lot easier if you let us show you instead of standing out here on this corner like your mother — "

As one, his three friends wince. "Too soon," mutters Marty; "Awww shit," says Frankie; a brief head-twitch is all the last guy says, who holds his pistol sideways like the gangsters in the movies.

"Man, dude, that was my bad. Seriously." The blond shakes his head again, shrugging and smiling in as disarming a fashion as he can. "Reflex. But yeah. These videos'll blow your mind, man. It's crazy. And if you're really military, you're not here alone, and maybe you can help out a few brothers now that you've basically made sure that those metal things are going to come back and finish the job on the new headquarters for TV4 News at Eight." And there, on cue, is his newscaster voice, as easy and casual as butter. Beat. "Yo, we'll give your guns ba-a-a-ck, dude," he hastens to add. "Unless Frankie over there tries to eat them and gets his slobber all over their muzzles."

"Are you just going to stand there arguing all night? Or are you weed fiends going to help us get our wounded off the street and out of sight so more of those frakkers don't come back?" Cilusia sounds a little exasperated as she yells to their benefactors. "We can figure all that shit out after we get into cover and shit…you don't blasts us, we don't blast you…fair? And if you don't think we're Fleet, just look at the godsdamned patches on the uniforms!" They're there, somewhere, under that armor.

Alessandra's not being listened to but it's something she lets slide. Not that she really has a choice in that, of course. "God, if the bullet wounds won't frakking kill me, it'll be drowning in all the frakking testosterone," she drawls sleepily.

Laskaris seems to have simmered a bit, but his rifle — still on fullauto — never wavers, as it remains pointed square at Colin's nose. "Lieutenant?" he says to Allie, his tone deceptively silken. "Shut up." He shakes his head at the blond man a moment later. "Anton Laskaris," he repeats. "But it's not like I've not heard 'dude' before." A slight smile turns quickly into a scowl. "And I'm not handing over our weapons. That's bloody final." After taking a deep breath, however, he lowers his rifle and slings it over his shoulder. A hand rests uneasily next to his sidearm, but the pistol remains undrawn. "PO's got a point, Mister…" He trails off, head tilted slightly to one side. "You blokes'll get no trouble from us unless you cause it. What'll it be?"

"We-e-e-e-ll. That's a pity, see, because — " Colin jerks his sawed-off shotgun at Alessandra's bleeding body. "Because from this angle, where I'm standing? It looks to me like you're the ones in a hurry and we're the ones with all the time in what's left of the world. Well, Frankie's pretty hungry and my high's going away faster than a sorority girl doing the walk of shame, but, you know, we're sure not about to breathe our last or anything. So really, dude, we could stand here all night just wagging our tongues while the hot one dies — " The man shifts from one leg to the other as he gazes up at the sky, blue eyes squinting as he eyes the moon. "O-o-o-r, maybe you could start shooting and we could start shooting and we'll give Chris here a chance to test another one of those big-ass grenades he made." Another shrug. "That's it. Kill her, try to kill us, or give us your guns and come with us. Because if you are Cylons, I'd prefer to make you kill us with your bare hands, not that it'd be that hard, but — you know. The principle of the thing." Ashwood smiles again. "Your call, big man."

Tisiphone's mouth goes through another series of thin, bloodless twists as Laskaris lowers his rifle. She takes a couple steps back, to a point where she can glance sidelong down to Cilusia and Alessandra without taking her eyes entirely off the exchange out on the street. Something said snaps her attention back, and the muzzle of her rifle comes up just a few degrees. "Cylons? The frak you all been smoking?"

"Yeah. Frak you too, Captain…" That's what Alessandra hears herself saying but it sure as hell doesn't come out like that, the word 'frak' sounding remarkably like 'love' when it leaves her mouth. At least she gets the gesture right, the middle finger of her right hand shot straight up. A barely-opened eye gets her noticing the weapon pointed towards her and she sneers, being used as a leverage point like this not good. And it isn't settling well with her. "Hey, punk. Don't you…hmm…" Morpha. Yeah. It's got her brain going fuzzy now and whatever she could say about this is gone in a drug-induced fog.

"Cylons?" Lasher lets out an unpleasant laugh as he stares at Colin in disbelief. "Are we Cylons? Do I look nine feet tall and made of chrome to you, you bloody fool?" Another shake of the head. Finally, though, curiousity seems to get the better of him. "Fine. But if their chums — " he points to one of the twisted wrecks that was once a Centurion — "show up anytime soon, I don't plan to be lambs for the slaughter because some half-baked mophead's got all our guns. Just remember that." A long sigh. "Give the bastard your rifles," he says to the rest, looking to the others before turning back to Colin with a glare. "Are you going to take us inside, then, or what?"

Alessandra's rifle's no where near where she is currently, it being where she was when she got shot. She does unholster her pistol though and holds it up, that waved in a limp-noodle manner.

Colour Tisiphone a very bright shade of Not Pleased. It's with great reluctance that she flicks the safety on her rifle and unslings it from her shoulder. She crouches to pick up Alessandra's sidearm, pale eyes skirting around the Lieutenant's freshly-patched wounds, then slowly moves over to the nearest thug to hand the rifle, Lucky's pistol, and her own pistol over.

Cilusia doesn't even give the stoner thugs the pleasure of handing them the weapons she has. The rifle is pulled off her back, safety checked, magazine pulled out and pocketed, then slid right across the street, as far as it'll go, if not hung up on cracked asphalt. Same goes for the pistol. When it stops short, she just shrugs her shoulders at them. "Oops."

"By Aphrodite's sweet and succulent tits, Hot Chick, looks like he loves you after all." Ashwood grins easily as his men move to grab said weapons from the soldiers. "Look, guys," he says in the meantime. "I'm sorry about all that nastiness, but after you've seen what we've seen in this godsforsaken city, well — you'd be paranoid too." Gone is the exaggerated surfer-drawl — it was evidently put on for show, though his trademark drawl is still quite present in his voice. "I'm Colin — Colin Ashwood. Anchor for TV4. This is Frankie — he's my gaffer. Redhead is Marty — she's my best boy — "

"It's just my job description," the woman mutters, grabbing Alessandra's rifle from the ground.

"And the guy who doesn't talk much is Chris, my grip," Ashwood finishes. "Though I don't know how he managed to get past HR, as he's probably on thirty terrorist watch lists. Tauron, not Saggie. Free Sag, woo." The safety on his shotgun is clicked back into place with a sigh of relief. "Come on — the hostel's not far."

And indeed, the intrepid quartet isn't lying. Having wrangled Lucky onto a nearby piece of wood — actually, just a doorframe — Ashwood and his friends lead the soldiers through the winding streets, moving as if by memory alone. The entrance is hidden beneath a shattered car that Frankie pushes aside, and the big man will stay behind to pull it back while the team moves forward into the ground floor of what used to be a hostel some three blocks east of the battle. True to his word, assorted drug-related paraphernalia lies spread across the grungy reception area, in which four sofas have been arranged in something like a square — half-smoked, too. The police station is a wonderful thing. And concealed beneath a stack of female undergarments is the prize of the lot: "My Varel C7 Stratocam," says Colin, a little more proudly than perhaps it deserves. "Yo Marty, see if you can't grab her some water, get her drinking. II'll set up my baby. Chris — want to stick those guns in the safe?"

Free Sag. Snort. Tisiphone curls her lip in a sneer for just a moment before the bitter spark of amusement fades away. She moves along with the others, trailing near to Alessandra's makeshift litter, and paces over near a wall once they enter the hostel. Her hand brushes the spot where her sidearm should be, and she folds her arms across her chest, instead. Cagey. "What kept you four from biting it with everyone else?" she asks, trying to shed some tension by speaking.

A weaponless Lasher is smoldering as the former news crew leads the Fleet people to their hideout, though he's able to keep a calm enough expression. He stares at Chris for a long moment as the quiet man takes their guns away before turning back to Ashwood himself. When Tisiphone asks her question, he waits a beat before chiming in with one of his own. "Where'd you get the weapons and such?" His arms are crossed, mirroring Tisiphone's skeptical expression. "And what the frak is all this nonsense about Cylons?"

"At least you can run when they come, if you wish," Alessandra groggily quips. "Try being on a frakking ship while those assholes pick your friends and comrades off while you can't do anything but scream…no where to go." Bitter much? "Then we'll talk about paranoia." The tip of her tongue is ran along her parched lips but her mouth's dry as well, it doing nothing to help, that getting her to grunt in frustration.

Alessandra lets everything else kind of slide away from her.

Cilusia follows along with the group…it's the cool thing to do afterall. She looks a little sour to have given up her weapons; she cracks her knuckles out of habit, lacking a rifle or pistol to fiddle with.

"The weapons? Same place we got all this great shit: the five-oh po-po. Frakking fascists. And how we lived? Just lucky, I guess." Ashwood flops down on one of the couches, his camera's black case held tightly in his grasp. With an oof, he gets to work, running the professional-grade camcorder by muscle memory alone — "No lights," he says by way of explanation, jerking his head to the shadowy (and comfy) sofas nearby. "Power's out. Anyway, we were saved by a story, if you can believe that. Turns out I frakked my boss' wife — and before you get on your high horses, guys, let me just say she came up to me and de-e-e-e-finitely didn't have that wedding ring on her finger, so — anyway."

While he talks, Chris is bustling off with the weapons and Frankie stands like a massive overweight statue before the door. Marty, for her part, has busied herself with the water. "Want cherry or raspberry?" she mumbles, her voice sounding far younger and far less sure of herself now that she's not got that pistol in her hands. "Wait — shit, I'm sorry. I had the last of the raspberry last night. Tastes like yogurt when you're blazed." Small, steady footsteps take her closer to Alessandra's fallen body, stepping past Tisiphone and Cilusia in the process. "Drink up — try not to spill, we've only got a couple bottles left." Her touch is cool and gentle against the pilot's warm skin.

And Colin? Yeah, he's still talking, fiddling with his Stratocam in the process. "Got assigned a puff piece — you know, one of those, like, 'Local Grandmother Wins Lottery and Buys a Mansion for her Pet Dog,' you know, or like, 'Wine Merchant Sells Millionth Bottle of Shitty Shit in a Box.'" The camera's LCD screen flickers on, casting a pale blue light against the walls. "This one was at Atlas Tower, up north. Morningvale's main hub for the H. Rich pricks were doing one of their yearly protests and boss wanted me to film something nice about his best buddy who just happened to be leading the thing." The blond man snorts, hair crushed against a worn green pillow. "Turns out being underground's a great way to avoid getting bombed."

Forearms placed upon whatever it is she's laying on now, Allie reclines a bit so she can get take a drink, only sipping enough to help wet her lips. Water's important and the civvies will need their supplies to last, after all. "Thanks," she croaks while managing a weak smile. "Do me a favor. Make sure the Captain's alright, please? He's prideful and won't ask for help. Like pulling teeth, you know?"

"Hnh." Lasher grunts as he sinks down into one of the couches. It's lumpy, it probably smells, but it's still a damn sight more comfortable than the chair of the ATV he's been sitting in for almost the last week. "Kythera got off light, all things considered. We ran some photo recons of the Colonies after the attacks - some of the cities were just totally glassed. Nothin' left but craters." The man's accent is dull as he recounts the story, dredging all the memories from Warday back to the surface. "You'd've been in one of those, it wouldn't have mattered." There's a gesture towards the camera. "That part of the process for you answering my other question?"

Any invitation to sit down with the nice thugs on their comfy couches is refused, for now, with a tense head-shake. With effort, Tisiphone will put on a show of Somewhat More Relaxed Girl by unfolding her arms across her chest and hooking her thumbs into her pockets. There's still nothing about her that reads even remotely as 'just chillin', yo' though. "Stay here too long, they're gonna think we're not coming back," she says quietly — to Laskaris, presumably, though her attention keeps flicking around the room's other occupants.

Cilusia takes a seat on a couch…but up on the back of the thing. She sits with her feet on the cushion and her elbows on her knees, chin in her palm. "So what's the in-flight movie you have for us, huh? I'm not paying for headphones," Cilusia gripes.

"He didn't let you die," murmurs Marty, closing off the sport-capped bottle with a snap of plastic. "That's gotta say something, right?" And then, silently, she's moving off to replace it on its pallet, throwing more gathered lingerie on top of the bulky bottles.

As for Ashwood: "The Colonies, you said. Plural." For the first time tonight, the blond looks shaken. "Shit, man, I just thought they had it in for Leonis. Tell you the truth, we were just waiting for the cavalry — but — well — " Blue eyes, wide and innocent, flash over to Frankie, who's just knelt down on the floor. Even Chris, silent Chris, makes a gesture of prayer with his hand, clutching his hand to his heart before returning to play with his guns. "Means there won't be any Best Reporter in the Known Universe award for me, will there, not for this." False bravado: oh, it's so adorable. "Because I think I know how they did it."

And without further ado, Colin presses play, causing a perfect high-definition image to spring to life on his screen. "Took this shit out when metal first moved in," he whispers, voice shaking. "Just three, maybe four days ago. Snuck around by myself, thought I'd take a looksee around the neighborhood, and then — " The tinny CLANK of Centurions makes itself heard through the camera's awful speakers. "Sure don't look like the old ones, do they. They're all over Morningvale — way up north. Locked down the station where we got most of our shit." As indeed his video shows. "Put up gun emplacements all around. Big ones." The picture zooms in to reveal what are quite clearly anti-aircraft devices. "And then — "

Wordlessly, he tilts the camera up so everybody can see. There, right in the center of the screen, distant but identifiable, is a man — short but compact, his body muscular and trim, walking like a king between what appears to be an honor guard of Centurions: inspecting the damage to a hospital, perhaps, while interfacing with a gadget that emits waves upon waves of red light. And as the man turns around for one brief moment, Ashwood freezes the frame —

To reveal none other than Admiral Michael Abbot.

Alessandra hmms out her nose, turning her head just slightly so she can track Marty as she moves. "Yeah. Probably so he can kill me himself the next time he's pissed off at me." Lucky is lucky in that she doesn't know what's being discussed by the reporter and Laskaris, their little reveal of info flying over her head. "Hey guys," she says to Tis and Cil both, now. "You two managed to get out of there…huh. Make me proud you both do, yeah. Good job out there."

There's a sharp intake of breath from Laskaris as Colin freezes the frame right as it zooms in on the face of 'Abbot'. He tenses all over, hands locked on his knees with a white-knuckled grip. "The frak…" he whispers harshly. Wide-eyed, he looks from the image to Colin and back. "You're telling me," he says harshly, "that not only are there Cylons that look like us now, but that… this man is one of them?" A quivering hand removes a cigarette — one of his last four — from a tattered pack, lighting it as he awaits an answer, his entire body taut. "May the Lords of Kobol spare us all," is mumbled a breath later.

Tisiphone doesn't seem to register Alessandra's words. In fact, for about twenty seconds, she looks as if she could be lit on fire without noticing it, so intently — and with such utter noncomprehension — does she stare at the man frozen there on the screen. Her mouth starts to purse, in anticipation of saying 'What-' but it never quite gets there — instead, she just looks over at Colin, then Laskaris, face ashen.

On the back of the couch, Cilusia just blinks one, keeping her lids pressed shut for a good few seconds. "Owwwwww, my brain hurts just thinking about that. You mean…what? Owwww. I don't even want to think that." She just shakes her head side to side a bit, finally taking her helmet off and letting it drop between her feet on the couch.

"Yeah." Colin flicks the off-switch to conserve batteries before he starts to disassemble his camera. "Figures they'd grab human collaborators. How, I don't know. Maybe some sort of crazy mind control shit." It's spoken with a little too much fervor to be entirely a joke. "We've been getting on Spaceship Chamalla ever since. Until you guys came by." The reporter laughs nervously as he lounges back in his chair, his camera slipping back into the grey foam folds of his precious carrying case.

Some things can not be missed no matter how tired or how drugged one is, the tension that's just about tangible being one of those things now, Allie realizing something's not right thanks to the tone of voices and people's expressions. "Hey, mind clueing me in, please," she asks quietly, looking at the Ensign and the PO first and then over to Lasher himself.

"Our Admiral's a Cylon spy." Tisiphone says this without looking down to Alessandra — instead, she's looking back over at the now-blank screen, staring at it like the image is still there. She looks as if she could stare at it until her gaze burned the image back into the screen, mind spinning — until the CLANK, CLANK snaps her attention away. "Frak." She's looking straight at the last person she saw with their guns, right about now.

Lasher shakes his head. "Unless this bastard's got a twin brother… that's no frakkin' human." From what Colin said on the street about 'new Cylons', and now this… with the information Laskaris has now, it seems to be the only possible conclusion, no matter how odd it may sound. He sighs. "We're off the Battlestar Cerberus. Commanded by Admiral Michael Abbot. Who looks exactly like that." He waves disgustedly at the screen. "There's another — " He stops abruptly, craning his head. "Frak." Tisiphone's sentiments are echoed precisely. An owlish look is directed at Ashwood. "We'll be havin' our weapons back right frakkin' now, if you please."

"What do you think the sentence is for killing a Cylon…even one that looks like that?" Cilusia muses, stretching out off the couch and standing…all 5' of her. "And yeah…unless the 'Admiral,'" and here Cilusia holds up her fingers and air quotes the word, "can be in two places at once, I don't see how that can be him. It's someone or something that looks exactly the frakkin' same. Toasters have that annoying characteristic, last I…" and she trails off, snapping to look at the entrance, the way the others do.

Yeah, the men and women of TV4 News at Eight have heard it too. As one, the news team leaps into action as silently as they can: Frankie to the door, Colin to the pile of bras in which he keeps his cameras, Chris to the safe where the guns have been stashed. They're handed out with grim anticipation before he returns for the weapons of his friends.

"Frak who he is or where he is or whatever," the reporter hisses. "We've got some frakking metal dude snooping around outside and you can bet he's gonna bring a buddy, so get your friend on her feet because we're moving out. NOW."

"You're not funny, Money Shot," Alessandra grouses before she falls silent, the accusation of it all being a joke they're collectively trying to pull on her dying as soon as the first clanks ring. "Aw frak!" Get her on her feet? The others won't really have a chance as she's struggling to get up on her own, the wounds seeping a bit more red, the bandages somehow managing to keep the worse of it at bay still. "We'll need our weapons," she offers to Collin while holding out her hand, her expression serious. "And unless you guys can pull a miracle out of your ass and take them on yourself…"

This time, Lasher isn't inclined to argue with the hook-nosed reporter. "Get Sophronia on her feet, now," he orders, rising to his feet like a shot. When Chris hands him his weapons, Laskaris immediately holsters the pistol and hefts the rifle in his hands. Still on fullauto, he switches it back to burst fire. He points to the camera with the footage of 'Michael'. "You'd better bring that along," he says to Colin, whether or not the man was already planning to. "Got some friends somewhere in this bloody city as'll need to be seein' that."

Check the sidearm. Holstered. Check the rifle. Slung over her shoulder. "I couldn't be less funny if I tried, Lucky," Tisiphone mutters, crossing over to Alessandra and reaching a hand out. "C'mon. Time to go." It's not particularly gentle, the way she hauls the Lieutenant up to her feet, but it's less gentle than the Centurions would be if they find all of them still here. If she needs help standing, she'll put a shoulder under the pilot's arm to help support her weight.

Cilusia gets her rifle and pistol back, sliding in the magazines, holstering the one, putting the other about her shoulder. The two pilots are a good deal taller than she is, but she helps as best she can with getting Alessandra onto her feet and moving about.

"You didn't leave your baby girl behind, dude." Ashwood shakes his head as he pats his case on its lovingly-maintained leather handle. "No way I'm ditching her." Which also means he won't be shooting that massive shotgun of his, but, well. That's the way it goes. "Frankie — yo, Frankie!" A loud hiss accompanies as much of a finger-snap as he dares to offer. "What's the play?"

"Got — " The level eight magus lowers his voice as he realizes how loud it's sounding. "Shit, sorry. Uh, there's that basement access tunnel. Pop us up into the restaurant like, two buildings across. Then we get the frak out."

"Hope you dudes don't mind a tight squeeze," says Colin, his lips set in a single grim line. "This way." Down the stairs, into the basement, through a door blasted ajar by a bullet in classic movie style — and then, as quickly as possible, up and up and up a far narrower stairwell than the one before, until at last they find themselves in the ruins of a battered kitchen, its tile floor scattered with pots and pans and the stray spatula, its emergency exit thrown open by the force of panicked people. And best of all? No clanking.

Haul, haul, drag-drag, haul. Tisiphone helps Alessandra along with a lot of puffed breaths and boot-scuffing, her rifle bouncing between her side and the nearest obstacle whenever she moves. She contributes noting else until they reach the emergency exit — at which point pale eyes bug out wide again and she shouts, "Wait, there's something out there-"

Moving fast isn't really possible but Lucky does try to keep up, grabbing on to various arms and whatever else she can as well as lean on Tisiphone and Cilusia. She pauses however when Tis says something's near and she sighs, looking defeated.

Okay, well. NOW there's clanking — and the spray of bullets through drywall as the Centurion lying in wait spins about, firing at the source of the noise before punching through the wall itself, tearing a hole into the side of the building. Because it's too big to fit through the door, see.

A step or two behind Colin is Laskaris, looking about suspiciously as the group makes its way through the tunnel and into the ruined kitchen. The clanking may have stopped, but that doesn't necessarily mean anything, right? When Tis calls out, he holds up his hand. "Hold— " he hisses, his rifle pointing out towards the emergency exit as his eyes dart around in search of anything that might resemble cover. While, at the same time, bullets suddenly tear through the darkness. Oh, frabjous day.

Guns start coming up, and Tisiphone has her arms full of a bullet-riddle Lucky. She does the first thing that comes to mind — which is to take a step back, half-behind the Lieutenant, and bodily drag her around and /down/ behind the doorjamb, out of harm's way. Well. As much as /anywhere/ in this building is out of harm's way, right now. Ideally, she'll land on her butt, but Tisiphone's only sparing so much time for the action.

When the bullets start flying, so does Lasher. He immediately darts behind a dusty shelving unit; steadying himself, he mumbles something that could either be a prayer or a curse as he takes aim at the Centurion.

Things about the kitchen here? Plenty of big stainless steel 'stuff' to hide behind. When the bullets start, Cilusia aims in the general vicinity of where they come from and fires a burst, before dropping down into cover behind a steel something or other. A stove maybe.

And the reporters aim and shoot as well. Not that it's that hard: the damn thing is right there on the door. BLAM goes Frankie's sawed-off shotgun; PEW PEW go the two tinny pistols; "Dude, knock that sumbitch out!" goes Ashwood. Hey. Moral support.

The thing's through the door, now — or, more precisely, the new door it's constructed for itself in the restaurant's rotting drywall. It makes no sound save for that coming from its red eye — and its gun, but, well, that doesn't quite count. Bullets clang off pots and pans, making all sorts of joyful clatter.

Alessandra yelps in pain, not unlike the wolves as they were felled, the sound entirely too pained to be sounds of surprise. "Frakking warn me next time," she half-whines before checking her pistol, making sure it's loaded and ready, flashing lights still making it hard to see. Even then, she's taking a look around around the item Tisiphone placed them behind, the small weapon aimed right for Mr. Tinny's noggin.

Cilusia doesn't wait to see if the first few shots hit the thing before she goes for the cover. Once behind the cover though, she gets her bearings, then pops back out enough to fire off another burst at the toaster.

Lasher grimaces, the pain from his earlier wounds battling the adrenaline now coursing full tilt through his veins. Bullets chatter all around him, but none of the Centurion's random spray hits the captain. His sights still on the Centurion, Lasher finally opens fire with a well-aimed shot.

Down Lucky goes, and up comes Tisiphone's rifle. Immediately it wavers as she flinches away from something, far too late. "Ah, frak!" A sharp shake of her left hand, spattering blood around, before she resteadies her rifle for a shot.

It's like somebody demented is playing the steel drums in this now-wrecked kitchen: bullets off the Cylon's armor; bullets off the cookware; bullets off the wall. The concert is concluded only when the Centurion keels over after being smashed from neck to abdomen by not one but six direct hits, all of which mangle its wiring and render it very much inactive.

"Holy shit," Frankie breathes, still clutching that shotgun. "Dude. That is how you shoot. THAT is how you frakking kill frakking — TAKE THAT FRAKKING D8 OF DAMAGE."

Colin, in the meantime, still holding that camera, is already out the door — the human door. "Can't stay here," he whispers. "Gotta cross the river. They've probably got guys all over the western bank just looking for us after you kicked in the door. Straight shot north to Mulberry Road and then west across the bridge. Quietly."

At first, Laskaris is inclined to protest; after all, this wasn't exactly part of their orders. Colin's words ring true, however, and whatever words Lasher was contemplating die on his lips. He simply gives a terse nod, his face slightly pale. "You know the way. We're right behind you." As he follows the reporter out the door, eyes sweep the street for Cylons. Nothing at the moment, though, and he keeps hurrying along beside Ashwood.

Mulberry Road — Kythera — Leonis
A wit once observed that the rich and the poor have strikingly similar needs in spite of their strikingly dissimilar means, and the existence of this street seems to prove that assertion true. Stretching from the Eternal Bridge in the west to the suburbs in the east, Mulberry Road is a millionaire playboy's paradise, with scores of exclusive resorts and the occasional gentlemen's club located well off the main street. It should come as no surprise, then, that these dens of iniquity survived while organic supermarkets, trendy wine bars, and luxury car dealerships did not.

The quartet — some more injured than others — hurries along, guided by that long-haired blond beneath the pale cold stars. Miraculously, they manage to keep up a fairly steady pace while remaining unseen, ducking from abandoned building to abandoned car to abandoned building in an absurd game of hopscotch played on a city-wide scale. Going is slow — Allie, leaning against Tisiphone, is weaker than she looks, and every so often she'll stumble forward to send the pair of them careening into the side of one building or another. Laskaris, his body encrusted with blood, crunches the loudest of them all, his legs pumping up and down in response to the adrenaline flooding his veins. Cilusia, by contrast, is nimble as a fox, leaping ahead with Marty while Frankie and Chris lumber on behind. Fifteen minutes pass — twenty — twenty-five — and then, with a hiss, Ashwood calls the group to a halt, jerking his head towards a ruined sign advertising some insanely fancy car. "This is it," he murmurs. "The demarcation line. Mulberry Road. Morningvale's up there. And this is where all those epic jagoffs who live there get their shit. West, over the bridge, and we're home free." Beat. "Except — oh — oh shit." Yeah, that's a look of panic.

"We forgot the weed," murmurs Marty, eyes downcast.

"Read my mind, Marty. You read my mind." Ashwood feels up his pocket for any spare packets and, finding none, slumps his shoulders.

At the end of thirty minutes of struggling to keep Alessandra on her feet, Tisiphone's barely on her feet as well. She's just in the process of helping the Lieutenant ease herself against a wall when Colin's panicked words straighten her back up again. "Mother of- the gods-" she pants, eyes narrowed with exhaustion and hate at Colin. "Worried about the- frakking herb at a time like- this."

Alessandra would have startled and then follow that up with an asschewing for the herb-partaking civvies but she's barely conscious; tired plus bleeding, she's just wanting to sleep. That means she's steadily becoming more dead weight for Money Shot to have to haul.

Lasher's breathing is starting to come heavier now; there's a dull pain in his abdomen that draws a lingering grimace. He pushes his armor aside for a closer look — and blanches. "Oh, frak me," he hisses. That would explain it; there's a fresh bullet wound, from their initial skirmish with the Centurions, presumably. Quickly allowing his armor to fall back into place, he shambles along, the pallor lingering along with a fine sheen of sweat on his face. He doesn't comment on the news crew's priorities, however, as he's spotted a new wrinkle. "Ensign. PO. Heads up." The man's raspy voice is quiet as he points in the direction of the front lot of that car dealership. "See somebody," he pants a moment later.

"If it'll shut you jaggoffs the frak up, I'll give you one of my last cigs. But you have to share. And you have to shut up about your damn weed," Cilusia hisses at the TV crew. When she reaches down to her pockets, her head stops. She stares, out at the car lot to the east. "Yeah…yeah I saw something two Cap'n. Too fast to be Cylon…and it ain't clanking at all. Human?"

They're heard — or, more specifically, Laskaris is heard, as suddenly the figure in the distance perks up. "Who goes there?" it calls from behind the hood of a car. Male — with a calm and soothing voice that really doesn't fit the circumstances.

Heads up, as much as Tisiphone can manage — she can't exactly raise her rifle while she's helping Alessandra along, after all. Her eyes narrow slightly as she watches the humanoid form move behind the silhouette of a car. "Lucky, lean up over here for a sec," she says, helping-slash-hauling the Lieutenant over that-a-way to the nearest abandoned car. /Then/, she can shoulder her rifle.

"Gotta be," Lasher rasps to Cilusia with a wince. "Keep your guard up. Could be one of those — spies, clones, whatever the ever-loving frak they are." Then a voice calls out, and Lasher grimaces. He straightens as best he can, his rifle coming back up as he points it in the vague direction of the newcomer. "Colonial Fleet," he calls out. The strength in his voice has faded a bit, but he's still got one of those voices that carries pretty well. "Step forward, with your hands behind your head!"

Alessandra does as Tis tells her, the chance to do so a welcome respite from all the walking. "I'll…just sit…" she slurrs while half-sitting, half-sinking, her legs unable to support her weight now. "Whose that," she asks once she's comfy.

"It's your godsdamned frakkin' mother, that's who it is! Now…get the frak out here and don't try any funny shit. We're the good guys." Cilusia just…backs up Laskaris, with a bit more of a 'tude (and a little less in height). Her frustration with this whole adventure is beginning to boil over, and she really, really wants to just lay down and sleep with minimal risk of having a toaster show up.

"Yeah — you got it, man. Hands right here." And the tall figure steps out from behind the car, his hands held high as instructed. He's dressed in casual street clothes — a maroon hoodie and a pair of designer jeans that really aren't his size, so tightly do they envelop his legs — and as far as they can tell, he's absolutely unarmed. The hood's pulled over his face, but at some fifty yards away he's not really recognizable anyway. "Don't shoot!" he advises, voice still level and cool. "Look — I'm unarmed."

"Looter," snorts Ashwood. "Probably looking for the fancy drinks in all the high-falutin' gentlemen's clubs around these parts."

"Dunno," is Tisiphone's muttered response to Alessandra as she takes two wary steps forward, though a puzzled frown is knitting pale brows together as she does. "He's-" A deeper frown, rifle snugged in closer to her shoulder. "The frak IS it?" she says, slanting a brief glance away from the shadowy form to Laskaris, as if he might know the answer.

"Put your hood down," Laskaris snarls at the newcomer. Recognizable or not, he doesn't like not being able to see a man's face. "Advance slowly. Keep your hands where I can see 'em, wot?" He shakes his head over towards Tisiphone. "Don't know," comes the quiet reply. "Don't bloody like it, though. Just how many frakkin' survivors can there be in this damn city?"

"Shoot it before it is miserable," comes a suggestion, it making no sense to anyone but Alessandra. In her mind, the stranger's another of those sick animals that's in need of being killed for the sake of being kind, not one of their fellow human beings.

Cilusia just watches, rifle held up at her shoulder, trained on the approaching man. Her finger is off the trigger, but rests on the trigger guard; the safety is not on.

"Enough." The blond reporter shakes his head. "Met a couple who decided they wanted to take our shit instead of talking real gentleman-like. Couple of dudes with green armbands shot Marty up real bad." There's evident strain in his tone as he leans against a signpost, his camera cradled tightly in his arms. "Watch yourself."

And the looter? "Steady with those guns," he advises. "Slowly — take it gently, guys, just like dancing slow at the club. Look, see, I'm not getting a gun or anything. Just going to reach over and drop the hood, because boy am I glad to see you guys and it sure wouldn't do me much good to get nailed right when I finally find salvation — " And down goes the hood before — suddenly, eyes widen. Just like that, he's turning tail, scampering away as quickly as his legs will take him.

"Sonuva— " Lasher snaps with a sneer as the looter suddenly bolts. He doesn't shoot at the man, the rifle immediately coming down from ready position as he looks first in the direction the looter is running, before turning to look for whatever it is the hooded man saw. He steels himself, preparing for the worst.

Alessandra peeks up over the hood of the car just in time to see the stranger run. "Frakker's going to bring Hades upon us." Not the best idea for her to shoot but there she is, leveling her pistol at the fleeing figure's back.

Alessandra peeks up over the hood of the car just in time to see the stranger run. "Frakker's going to bring Hades upon us." Not the best idea for her to shoot but there she is, leveling her pistol at the fleeing figure.

"Eh, live and let live, huh? Guess there's no sense in shooting humans, right?" Cilusia lowers her rifle, to go along with Laskaris, but she watches Alessandra lift her pistol. "W-what are you on about? He's just a looter." For confirmation, she turns to the Captain, who's running this shindig by default.

The looter's eyes widen at exactly the same instant that Tisiphone's do as well, the blood draining from her face for a second time tonight. The harsh Sagittaran syllables sound somewhere between a curse and a prayer, and continue spilling from her mouth as she shoulders her rifle to fire.

"What in the name of — " Ashwood begins, his mild tone now edged with something akin to shock as the report of a pistol and semi-automatic rifle ring out in the silent night. "My Gods, dude, he was running away and you shot him in the back — "

As the looter collapses in the street, arms flailing before hoodie hits turf.

"What the hell… " Laskaris mouths silently as the looter tumbles into a heap on the floor. Whirling in Tisiphone's direction — well, it looks a little more like a drunken swerve, given the state he's in — he stares in shock at the younger woman. "Explain yourself," is all he says.

Alessandra feels sick over the turn of events almost immediately and she is fast to turn around and sit back on her heels, her eyes closed tight. "His running could have alerted more Cylon to our presence," she points out to Ashwood. A sharp cough racks her body and she brings a hand up, wiping red off of her lips in an attempt to conceal her worsening condition from the others. When Lasher wheels upon Tisiphone she opens her mouth to speak but then she finds herself unable to find the words. A quick glance is darted between Captain and Ensign, her eyes as wide as they're going to get.

The moment the looter is slapped to the ground with bullets, Tisiphone's advancing on him, rifle still at the ready. The chalk-pale face is /terrified/ — something about the figure in the hoodie pushed her fight-or-flight button, and pushed it well. Thin, tight words as she advances: "It was Salt, Sir. Frakking Salt. Lieutenant Shaker, K-I-A Warday, and That. Was. Him. Right. There. Oh, mother of the-" Her words cut off to a tight swallow. She keeps advancing — rather like she did with the starving wolves. Checking for the kill.

Cilusia blinks, heavily. She wasn't out and about on Cerb to even know who Shaker is, but she gets the picture. "You're frakkin' kidding me right? Another of these dopplegangers? What the frakking shitting godsdamned motherfrakking hell is going on here?!" She doesn't advance, but then, she doesn't let her rifle down all the way, either.

"Like your frakking sho-o-o-ting wasn't loud enough?" drawls Ashwood, his tone worried — though he absolutely doesn't dare interfere. He has, however, turned quite pale, and so has his team. Apparently shooting an innocent man in the back doesn't rank terribly high on their list of traits possessed by civilized folk.

And the man? Blood trickles out of his punctured throat, pooling about him in majestic red lines that fan out behind his head — a halo of sorts, carved in asphalt beneath the pale moonlight. The girl was right: for that, indeed, is the face of Lieutenant Ryan Shaker, former Black Knight aboard Battlestar Cerberus. "He never talked to him," he gurgles, voice weak, eyes fading. A hand rises to point at Laskaris. "Or her." To Alessandra. "But you — you're — " A familiar but unfamiliar smile appears on his face, beatific as usual. "We purged him." There's a sharp, gasping intake of air. "He was defective, so we purged him from our systems like — " Hack. Cough. More blood. "Like we'll purge that other traitor in — " His smile grows wider to reveal teeth stained the color of wine. "He liked you. Really. You reminded — him — " And just like that, the man succumbs to his wounds, head lolling backwards before eyes drift closed.

At that last from Tisiphone, Lasher's shock and confusion turns to ugly understanding. He lumbers after the ensign, his awkward gait carrying him towards the form of the prone man as he goes for a look of his own. He never spoke to Shaker, seeing him only in passing a few times in the ready room or in berthings, but he recognizes Salt nonetheless. "What the frak are you?" Lasher growls at the bloody, insensate form before him. Pale white hands grip the front of the man's(?) hoodie, shaking the body roughly. "Who the frak is we? Answer me, you godsdamned…" It's no use, though, as Salt v. 2.0 is already quite dead. "Frak!" Lasher spits, slamming the body back against the ground as he slowly rises back to his feet.

Alessandra struggles again, trying to push herself standing again. "Oh…shut the frak up," she snarls at Ashwood, her wounds lending her the same kind of disposition she accuses Laskaris of having, that being quick to snap when annoyed. Her feet are not finding the ground and she eventually gives up, her head bouncing off of the side of the car when she leans back. "What's going on…" she ask then, the question posed of no one in particular.

My, but that's a terrible lurch of emotions crossing Tisiphone's face as she stands there, staring down the dying not-Salt over the barrel of her rifle. She looks like she might spit on him — or maybe she's about to cry, or scream — but then Laskaris grabs the bloodied form and it seems to jar her out of it. Muttering something under her breath, she backs away one step, then a few more, each one quicker than the one before. Recoiling — then snapping her head to the side, as frayed nerves alert her to the sound of ATVs.

"Looks like…well, your pilot buds say this looter is another doppleganger. This one a pilot, rather than an admiral. So…that's good? I think? I don't know anymore. This is all got my mind going feeling melty." She doesn't get much of a chance to mull it over though, before the buzz of ATV engines gets her turning her head too. "What's that sound like to you all? Like our ATVs? That's sure to get some Cylon attention, I'll bet."

Alessandra wipes another small smattering of red from her mouth after a second cough, the deepness of this one deep, rumbling. The sound of the ATVs is noticed by her as well but she doesn't say anything, too tired and too depressed to do anything but sit against the car.

Cylon attention? Perhaps — but not now.

Dull yellow headlights reveal an odd sight indeed as the ATVs round the bend onto Mulberry Road, moving at top speed as wrecked low-income housing becomes wrecked middle-income housing becomes that curious blend of bourgeois and proletarian that characterizes those dividing lines between rich and poor. Four figures are the first to fall victim to those overly bright lamps: a blond man carrying a big black case, standing with three others in a semicircle around Alessandra's prone form. The tall and portly one is carrying a sawed-off shotgun in his hands; the other two, one a slim redheaded girl, the other a sallow-faced man, have their pistols drawn and pointed at the convoy. The latter's is held sideways: gangster-style, which doesn't work terribly well as he recoils from the light. Not forty yards ahead are Cilusia, Tisiphone, and Laskaris: the prodigal children, behind whom lies a body that's breathed its last.

Lasher for his part does spit, though it's on the ground next to the body and not on it. He squints off into the inky blackness as Cilusia points out the sound of the approaching ATVs. There's a nod, a jerky, uneven motion. "Sounds like the cavalry's finally arrived," he mutters wanly, the still-bleeding Viper captain sagging visibly. His rifle is slung over his shoulder as he slumps weakly against another burned-out car.

"As they say in Marine Country, Lieutenant, Oorah," Covington's grin is wide, perhaps owing to the fact that she didn't take any bullets during the latest exchange of fire, or anything other than a few bumps and bruises so far. Her hair blows in the breeze, tied back in a loose tail, rifle held up, just a moment from being brought to bear. It stays up, however, barrel out of play. She rides shotgun on the ATV Lunair is driving. "Hell if that ain't a ragtag buncha sorry," she mutters, upon sighting the group ahead.

"I don't think- I've any room to talk about sorry," Lunair admits wryly. If Covington looks closely, there's red run down the back of Lunair's neck. Some are bald by choice, but it seems Lunair might be bald by virtue of getting shot in the head repeatedly. She smiles at Covinton's grin though. She pauses, seeing those ahead - finally sinking in. the others! And … a prone form?

And Tisiphone, for her part, doesn't entirely lower her rifle, the wide, wild eyes squinting painfully against the bouncing headlamps. She takes a few steps back toward Laskaris — strength in flagging numbers — and glances over to him for just a moment.

Shiv, of all people, is driving the second ATV, and squints as the vehicle's headlights swim over those moving shapes in the near-dark. Definitely not shapes of the cylon variety. He hits the brakes, bringing the battered vehicle to a shuddering halt, and draws his sidearm in lieu of the rifle straddling the seat beside him. "Anton?" he mutters beneath his breath, blue eyes flickering briefly to one of the more distant shadows that can barely be made out.

Forward — ever forward come the machines. No time for idle chit-chat, dear sheep, because the sheepdogs are closing: forty-eight Cylons plus that one joiner from before, whose pounding feet crack asphalt and crunch metal as they close on where the Colonials have parked. It's a veritable metal mob meant to push the survivors to the river, and the crackle of machine guns sends tracers through the air: a promise of doom to come.

Sitka's passengers, it seems, are a trio of marines; one of them bleeding fairly profusely while another works to bandage him up during the brief lull in being bounced around.

"Well, lookee what we done got here, pardners…" Cilusia smirks to Laskaris, doing her best impression of a country accent. Her rifle is shouldered and she looks at the new arrivals with a bit of…relief, yeah, that's what we'll call it. "Good of you all to get here in such a timely fashion, huh?" Joking, of course. She's joking. Squinting into the lights, covering her eyes (whatever good that does), she can see enough to know they've been involved in some action themselves.

The prone figure isn't exactly totally prone, just yet, but with Alessandra's strength being steadily sapped from her it won't be much longer before she is. Nothing's comprehended, voices and figures blurring together. With her armor on, there's no way to see the worse of her wounds, the only visible one being her right hand.

As the ATVs pull nearer, a squinting Laskaris pushes himself off the car with visible effort, walking slowly but surely towards the vehicles' path. He returns Cilusia's smirk as he trudges forward. The captain's visibly wounded also, though not quite as bad as Alessandra; blood shows from under his armor, as well as on his left arm. He's in pain, but still under his own power. "Glad you lot could make it," he says, his tone completely devoid of sarcasm. Lasher's not unrelieved, though, and he has trouble stifling a thin smile as the first ATV gets close to him.

After a pause, Lasher turns to Ashwood and the rest of TV4's finest. "'Salright," he croaks. "They're our ride."

Poor Alessandra. Lunair frowns. Her ATV is towards the front, if not the front. Mercifully, her wound is towards the back of her head/sideish. It is her destiny to be bald, perhaps. Oh well. It's aerodynamic and she has acquired a massive scarf collection. She offers a wave to the group as the ATV pulls up nearby.

After taking brief stock of the situation, Sitka racks the slide on his pistol and climbs out of the ATV. "You've got about a minute and a half," he calls back to the medic frantically patching Samuel up in the back, and heads past Lunair's vehicle toward the grouping of faces both familiar and not. The safety's thumbed off, but his gun's kept pointed toward the ground for now. "We've got about fifty centurions in pursuit," he informs Laskaris, eyes skimming briefly over the other pilot's injuries. "Anyone who can walk, mount up. If you can't, sing out." Then the four people he doesn't recognise get a brief glance-over and a twitch of a smile.

"Think they brought the party with them," says Ashwood, a little dryly, but relief is written quite plainly on his face — and those of the other civilians as well. "I'd lo-o-o-ve to meet your guys in person, but I'm thinking we get the frak out of here before we get run down. Just, you know. Just a thought." And without further ado he's clambering into the back of one of the ATVs: Lunair's, to be precise, whose boot has conveniently been voided of baggage by the bumpy ride. Marty — she's small — joins him, the pair of them standing like meerkats while holding onto the rollbar for dear, dear life.

It doesn't take much prompting to get Covington out of the ATV — just a little slowing so she doesn't hurt herself doing so. "Y'all need a hand?" That's a mostly rhetorical question. Duh would be an appropriate response. "Mount up, kids. Daddy found out we lit the barn on fire, an' he's fixin' ta pick a switch." She takes as much time as she can with her feet on the ground, letting the others load before she returns to her shotgun seat.

"Hey…help…?" That's the weak request from Lucky upon hearing Shiv call for those who can't walk to say so although it might go unheard thanks to the loud droning of engines and the chatter that's now going on. She goes as far as to wave a hand once she hears how quiet her voice is in her own ears, one last attempt to flag down some aid.

Tisiphone lowers her rifle the rest of the way when Sitka climbs out of his ATV and steps over. She watches him for a moment before looking down to flick the safety on her rifle and sling it over her shoulder. "Lasher's hurt. Lucky's worse. We're-" Her and Cilusia, presumably. "-okay." There's dried blood all over her hand, but nothing fresh. Two people in the back of Lunair's ATV already — she paces down to the next one.

Being tiny has at least one advantage — you can fit into smallish places! In this case, it's a way for Cilusia to climb up onto the back of one of the ATVs, and sort of wedge herself in between some of the remaining cargo and the back seats. That way, she can hold onto the rail, look forward and turn back, and not take up a real seat.

"Dallas, give Anton a hand. I've got Sophronia." It's called back over Sitka's shoulder even as he's safetying his pistol — once the strangers pile into Lunair's ATV — and jogging over to where Alessandra's lying in a heap on the ground. He crouches, slides his arms under her, and attempts to hoist her half to her feet, and half leaning against him. The blood doesn't seem to be a concern. "Hey," he murmurs, while trying to get a solid grip on the smaller woman, "You still with me?"

"Hey, handsome," Lucky murmurs while Sitka's working to get her on her feet, her efforts in helping with that not really helpful at all. "Frakking got shot again." Duh. "It hurts." Another duh. "And I'm tired. Can I sleep now?" Eventually upright, she should be a lot easier to get to one of their vehicles.

Lasher's about to say something, but is cut off as the ATV crew is already springing into action. There's a look to the other three scouts before he steps towards the line of ATVs, waving Covington off, thankyouverymuch — except, he might need a hand after all. With a wheeze, he staggers; looks like all that excitement kept the wound under his armor working. He stays on his feet, but he accepts the helping hand without protest and even a murmured word of thanks.

The Eternal Bridge — Kythera — Leonis
As befits its well-augured name, the Eternal Bridge somehow emerged unscathed from the recent Cylon assault. The four-kilometer span that connects both banks of the city is suspended from brilliant steel towers rising a full three hundred meters in the air, their carved stone casements held aloft by decorative caryatids in flowing gowns. An armada of sedans and black limousines is parked on each side of the throughway, their owners having apparently decided to chance the waters of the River Elpeus in lieu of continuing down Prospect Avenue. The consequences of their decision are visible from the elevated pedestrian walk that runs down the middle of the bridge: broken corpses that dot the river's banks for as far as the eye can sea, their rotting flesh reeking of blood and guts, their exposed bones caressed by softly-washing waves.

That's odd: as the newly-laden ATVs lose speed, so too do the Cylons, as if they're matching velocity with their prey — though those crackling machine guns leave no doubt as to their intentions. And with three people sitting in seats meant for two, with more people hanging on to the outside of the cars, the pursuit begins anew, until at last the majestic steel towers of the Eternal Bridge rise up from the darkness, jutting out three hundred meters above the air. The four-kilometer span is held aloft by carved stone casements on which decorative caryatids in flowing gowns are visible from the bank, and the bridge itself is covered in one of several perpetual traffic jams in the city, crammed full of sedans and limousines that only become visible after they've driven nearly a kilometer onto the damn thing.

"Shit!" says Ashwood, slamming his hand against the rollbar as the ATVs jerk to a halt. "Can't stay here — we got to run through, guys. East bank's crawling with Cylons and those frakked up human things. We stay there, we're dead for sure."

And speaking of those Cylons, they've taken up position at the very end of the bridge, guns falling silent, eyeslits turned to black. Waiting.

Tisiphone sags against the rollcage of the ATV's she's hanging on to as it comes to a halt. There's a low moan of frustration, but she can't even muster a curse at this point. "Mother of the gods, let's go," she utters, stepping heavily off the back of the vehicle. One could get the impression she's ordering herself more than those around her, with these words. "Grab the medkits and go." She grabs whatever's small and easily carried out of the back of the ATV — if any of the supplies are left at all.

They're seen a half-second before they're heard: those three Heavy Raiders from earlier, which flash into existence above the Cylon position before the sonic boom from their arrival cracks the glass on all those cars nearby. Their yawning cargo bays open as the Centurions begin to pile in, their work complete — CLANK-CLANK-CLANKing aboard, nine-foot silhouettes disappearing into the bellies of the beasts.

Running away, perhaps, from what's about to happen: those five river-skimming missiles now rounding the river bend, their engines flaring a brilliant gold-red as they skim towards the bridge's majestic casements, eyeslits humming and humming and humming —

Something wicked this way comes.

Lunair blinks. Oh hell! She's going to throw the ATV in reverse. "Hang on tight please!" She's going to try to get off the bridge. And she is speeding them off the bridge. She's not going to lose an ATV if she can help it. She figures it might be faster than having everyone disembark too. Her mind is reeling, but she's got the foresight to throw it into reverse and try to speed them away.

Sitka has swapped with Shulty, taking the passenger seat in order to let the marine drive their ATV. If he didn't, he'd probably have a mutiny on his hands, given his earlier driving. A glance behind them has him scowling ever so slightly. "The frak do you make of that?" he mutters, possibly to nobody in particular. Or possibly to any of the others who've piled in with him. Either way, he's also clambered out and started to quickly grab supply packs and medkits. The smell of rotting, sun-cooked bodies doesn't even seem to register with him, though the glint of a missile streaking toward the bridge they're on most certainly does. "Frak me sideways," he murmurs, shoving the packs back into the vehicle, and attempting to drag Tisiphone back inside. "Back off the way we came," he calls across to the PFC who's driving.

"Mama said there'd be days like this," Dallas grunts, just as she's about to haul herself out of the ATV. At the orders from Shiv, she nods, and grabs hold of that roll bar again, remaining seated. "Ever'body likes ta die standin'." She glances over to Lunair. "Pedal to the metal, petal. Today may be a good day ta die, but my hair ain't fixed and my face ain't on. Rain check on Elysium."

Tisiphone, bedragged into Sitka's ATV. Well. He /is/ the one with candy. She clutches to the roll cage with bloodied fingers, twisted around awkwardly to stare at the approaching missles with a sickened expression.

Lasher is sitting in the back of an ATV, whichever one Covington guided him to; all he can really do when he sees the missles screaming in is reach out for the side railing and hold on tight as the drivers scramble to react. That, and bleed on the floor a little more.

Forget sickened. Shiv's heart is pounding so hard at the moment, there's nothing but the adrenaline, and the sleek silver death that his eyes are riveted on. He too grasps the roll bar, and jerks against the seat as the marine kicks their vehicle into reverse, and pulls a modified two-point turn as soon as there's room. "Head north along the river, once we make it off the bridge-" Optimistic, isn't he. "There might be another way across."

"BACK!" screams — somebody — it's hard to tell, as everybody's ears are still likely ringing from the sound of three FTLs activating in quick succession — "GET BACK — " Words that are spoken but not heard as time seems to slow, mouths opening wide, and still that godsdamned ringing — the shriek of loosened brakes, the sputter of overworked engines — Heavy Raiders vanishing into space, leaving the city behind — Lunair pushing her ATV into reverse as quickly as she can manage — back, back —

The casement furthest to the west is the first to disappear, detonating in a magnificent eruption of heat and sound that sets the entire bridge swaying. Its twin directly to the east goes up next — and the third, to its east — and way back on the western bank the first tower collapses, taking with it the suspension cables holding the bridge upright. The deck swings this way and that, asphalt and concrete twisting like it was never meant to twist; parked cars slide from side to side, doors smashing into doors as they're flung about like toys by a rampaging child — and now the fourth of those, on top of which the ATVs had been sitting just moments ago, goes up as well, fire just feet away from searing the hoods of those faithful beasts of burden, racing once more for their lives —

And as the bridge convulses, its fifth and final casement destroyed, the force of the missile — oh, what irony! — hurls several tons of ATV and guns and people into the air, sending all of it careening backwards from the splintered bridge onto the cliffs overlooking the banks of the river, one upturned, the others sideways, wheels spinning and spinning and spinning while the funeral pyre of man's hubris burns and crumbles and falls —

This is how their world ends.

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