PHD #413: EVENT - Alea Iacta Est
Alea Iacta Est
Summary: The die is been cast. Commander Kepner puts his plan in motion at last.
Date: 15 Apr 2042 AE
Related Logs: Taken; To Own the Skies
Pewter Kepner Laughlin Cidra Madilyn Mark Damon Bia Baer Keller NPC Polaris Hydra Volans 
Conference Room — Deck 2 — Escort Carrier Areion
It's a room. See below!
Post-Holocaust Day: #413

Top of the line though Areion may be, a conference room is still a conference room is still a conference room. The bulkheads in this cramped meeting space are painted the same gunmetal grey as those aboard the other ships in the Fleet, and the place settings — complete with name placards and all! — are printed on the same stiff cardstock stacked meters high in every Colonial warship's stores. Only the heavy metal table looks different. Large enough to fit about thirty around its rugged steel oval, it has as a centerpiece neither fake flowers nor the ship's crest but an unfinished pyramid built from the ragged wreckage of so many Vipers and Raptors. Bits of twisted nacelles and burnt ailerons cast jagged shadows across the walls and the navy blue carpet, standing in silent testimony to lives lost and sacrifices made.

The sight of it causes portly Andrus Pewter to harrumph as he steps inside, his thick thumbs hitched up in the pockets of his dress greys. Medals and ribbons shine brightly on his chest, rattling as he manages a salute to the only other person in the room: Commander Rudolph Kepner, who sits alone at the head of all those seats. "Ain't nobody else here but y'all?" he rumbles in greeting, eyes squinting beneath his glasses to figure out just where he's supposed to sit.

"Andy." Kepner's in his dress grays as well, though for all his other lack of formality he might as well be sitting in the galley. The salute is dismissed with a two-fingered flick from one hand. "Nobody here but us chickens. Or ducks. Or whatever the hells they say back on Aquaria." He flashes the Colonel a smile, to perhaps take some of the sting out of his little joke. Or perhaps not. "Plant yourself wherever you think won't buckle. I'm sure Laughlin will want to get right down to business. And so do I."

Cidra enters along with Pewter, dressed up in her grays, hair bunned back rather more tightly than usual. The CAG cleaned herself up for this occasion, so far as military polishing goes at least. A glance around the room, and an inscrutable look is exchanged with Pewter, before she also straightens into a salute. "Sirs." That's her only immediate contribution.

Drop what you are doing and come to Areion? It takes Mark damned near 30 minutes just to put something down, let alone get to a Raptor. He is *not* Mister Spiffy. The orange coveralls, as usual, look like he crawled out of a mineshaft but he uses a rag on the way over to try and clean up a bit. His face falls at seeing all the Marines, though. "Fantastic," he mutters before following everyone up to the Ward Room. People take their seats and Mark thinks twice about dirtying a chair.. but its the Areion. Frak 'em. He's gonna plop down ASAP. Eyes turn to the monument to lives lost for a moment before he looks right at Kepner and offers a somewhat hesitant salute.

If these dress grays look uncomfortable, it's because they are. There hasn't been too many occasions to wear them, thus, they've remained heavily starched and tucked away for some time. As one of the Cerberus contingent, Madilyn enters after Pewter, having done her damndest to tug on the collar in the halls outside. Like Cidra, her hair is pulled back tightly - not a strand lose - and snaps into a salute after entering and fanning out along the side of the room away from the entry point. The dress grays aren't exactly regulation though, as she has seen fit to include her sidearm as well.

Colonel Xander Ionis arrives from the Corsair, making his way in and taking a seat with a salute for those already present, "Commander Kepner, Colonel Pewter. Afternoon to you all." He nods to the department heads, polite, but serious.

Commander Michael Laughlin has never been one to make much of an entrance. He's never been one to make much of anything, some would say. From the first moment of his arrival on Areion, though, it is clear that tonight is going to be different. In his dress greys, Laughlin arrives flanked by two squads of fully-armed Marines. He leaves them outside the conference room door, but makes sure it's pushed open wide enough and long enough for everyone within to get a good look at his escorts. He strides into the room and up to the head of the table (which could also be the tail of the table, depending on whether you ask him or Kepner). He does not salute, he just sits. "Colonel Pewter," he greets the big man first, and then the other, "Kepner." His tone is as flat and neutral as ever, his expression blank, but his eyes are hard, focused keenly on the Areion Commander. "I'm pleased we were able to meet on short notice. It's a shame your department heads weren't able to join us as well, Commander, but let's get down to business right away."

Laughlin leans forward, and folds his hands on the table. "Commander Kepner, I have gathered the commanders of this Fleet together because it its time that we address directly what has been going on. These illegal renditions committed by your people at your behest must cease immediately and not resume. We must then turn out full attention to the planning of a mission to Gemenon."

"What they say is, 'Ain't nothin' troublin' a duck but his bib,'" Pewter offers affably, dropping himself into his seat with a deep and heavy sigh. But his narrow eyes narrow further behind those thick-rimmed glasses while his gaze sweeps from Kepner to the rest of his people, as if to get a sense of what might be going through their heads.

Majestic Bia takes her place at his right, composed as usual; beside her, the rest of the Fleet's command staff begins to settle down. Not a small number find their own gazes drawn to the monument at the center of the room, and a couple of puzzled murmurs rise from various corners of the room until Laughlin's forceful entrance shuts everybody up.

Even the gregarious Colonel Pewter won't interrupt until he finishes, instead folding his arms on the table so he can fix Kepner with a weighty, curious stare. And then: "Y'all gotta admit, Rudy, that was pretty low, grabbin' up my people without even a whisper to the ol' man. Didn't even know y'all were doin' it till my boys started askin' questions. Now don't y'all hearin' this get me wrong: I sure don't mind the hard stuff. But this here? This won't work 'less y'all keep all these fine people in the loop."

The Marines Laughlin is packing can't be missed, of course. Kepner's genial smile never wavers, but there's a hardening in his bright eyes. "As you were, everyone. Let's get down to business. Looks like Mickey here is itching to get down to it. He's even brought an entorage." Mickey being Laughlin, apparently. That last earns a sharp "Heh" from him. "And here I was thinking we were all friends here. That you all would actually want to find the skinjobs within the Fleet - and there are skinjobs within the Fleet. Hells, everybody knows that. But from where I sit, nobody's done a damn thing about it until I took action. I regret the way it was done. But given the coddling your people had shown to some clear high-priority targets - particularly your XO's pet reporter, Andy - I felt it was necessary. I've agreed to put a hold on detainments in the spirit of cooperation, but surely you can see that the program itself must resume. Every man, woman and child in this Fleet should be put before that Gun, their humanity proven. Or we all might as well just stick our sidearms in our own mouths and call it a day." That smile ticks over to Madilyn, and the others who've come packing.

Cidra wordlessly takes a seat next to Mark, folding her hands upon the table. She likewise has her service pistol at her belt, though it's worn awkwardly. For the moment she just listens, brows in a state of perma-arch.

Captain Makinen looks at all the greys around and shrugs to himself. Short notice? Best he can do. There's a glance to the Marines outside. Yay. Guns. The salute falls after nobody wants to address the render of arms and he folds his arms on his chest and watches the exchange, eyes flitting between Kepner and Laughlin. This should be interesting. Its obvious by the look on his face that this is something he is not happy about either. When he's cleared to sit, the Cerb's ChEng moves to sit and leans back in the chair to make sure there's appropriate grime transferred. Oops. The man has a lot to say on the matter but is politely binding his tongue for now. There's a glance to Cidra at the mention of testing everyone in the fleet before his gaze returns to Kepner.

A knuckledragger in a room full of officers, Damon's kept quiet since arriving. He's wearing his green fatigues and carrying his clipboard, since he went straight to the assigned Raptor when he received his message to get moving. It's only been a few days that he's been out of Sickbay, though, and there's still some color missing from his usually cheerful visage. For his part, he sits and listens, tension evident in his neck and jaw.

With the big brass in the room, Madilyn doesn't risk shooting herself in the foot quite yet. While the ship's COs volley back and forth, she takes a seat with the Cerberus DHs and listens. The opportunity to gauge the tempers, test the waters, examine the currents, and any additional people-watching metaphor are playing out now.

"Now that there's an interestin' question." Pewter sits up in his chair and leans forward, his thick forearms blocking Bia's view until she very delicately taps him on the shoulder. Oops. The man

"Commander Kepner, I am your superior officer and you will address me with respect," Laughlin says, tone going from dead neutral to cold in as long as it takes to be called 'Mickey'. "The actions you took were beyond the scope of the authority granted to you by me, and in contravention of the dictates of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. They will not be repeated, and an apology for the disregard you showed for law and chain of command will be issued forthwith." He stares Kepner down hard still, gaze never moving, not even as Pewter speaks or the others sit. "That matter is, however, now at an end. There will be no further illegal detainments. And we must move forward. Gemenon is our next order of business. It is clear to me and, I believe, to Colonel Pewter," he glances now at the man in question, and then back to Kepner, "That a mission to that planet is our obvious course of action. We should begin tactical planning immediately."

"Before we get there, Laffo — " Pewter's thick cheeks twist up in a tight, taut grin. "Commander Laughlin. Rudy just raised an interestin' question." Pewter sits up in his chair and leans forward, his thick forearms blocking Bia's view until she very delicately taps him on the shoulder. Oops. The man's shoulders hit the back of his chair until it groans under the stress, though those eyes never leave Kepner's face. "Puttin' aside whether we outta slam every fellow with a pulse into y'all's house of rads, one of my lance coolies — Danny? Y'all know him? Baldin', kinda homely — was wonderin' somethin' that's been on my mind too. Let's say y'all's magic machine really does work like y'all's sayin' it does. So why didn't we put the admiral in there before we gave him the ol' quietus? Mm?" That penetrating gaze doesn't leave Kepner's face. "Might be y'all want to chew on that a bit while we figure out what the hell the bulletheads are doin', sendin' us all that screechin' opera bullshit."

"You want me to apologize….Commander?" If possible, the rank is used with less respect from Kepner than the nickname 'Mickey.' Those bright eyes are positively fixed on Laughlin now, flashing. No apology is forthcoming. "Fine. Gemenon. I've got some questions of my own about that. For starters, how the hells did a *classified* after-action report become the hottest gossip topic at frakking Colonial Pete's? You want to talk about the law, let's talk about Fleet security. We've got higher priorities than whatever trap the Cylons and those traitors with them are hatching on Gemenon. That's what we all should be discussing."

Though, when Pewter asks *that* question, Kepner does detour topics slightly. "Given *Commander* Laughlin's squeamishness about necessary security measures in a time of war, and hard-on for that 'trial' of yours, it looked to me like you'd rather go through the motions of 'justice' than actually get to the truth. Besides, it's no longer an issue. You proved yourselves Abbot was a Cylon. Beyond a reasonable doubt, I'm told the burden is. And now, Admiral Abbot is gone."

At her seat, Madilyn gives a little cough. "If you'll allow me a moment, sirs," she starts out with an inquisitive upturn at the end of the statement. "Given the nature of the Gemenon findings, my Ess-Three is already in the process of drafting plans to affect a landing on the planet's surface. It is in the extreme preliminary stages, and requires far more input and collaboration with our air-wing." Our air-wing, she's careful to note, plowing on ahead of the others, clearance given or not, if only to break up the cockfight.

"And, I should add that there is an additional suspect that, of all the members of the fleet should be tested utilizing the Gun as soon as humanly possible." Madilyn's look turns to Laughlin, and the yeoman who is reported to been in two places at one time. The matter of Abbot is left untouched, for the moment at least. "That, I think, is where our inquiries to fleet security should turn. We have a suspect, and we have a testing method."

"My Raptor pilots are also fully prepared to undertake a return mission to Gemenon along with the Major's Marines, covertly if possible," Cidra says with a short nod to Madilyn. "With further collaboration necessary, of course. I have spoken about the matter with Lieutenant Colonel Baer and am quite certain we can manage it without the need to involve his Raptor personnel." Quite polite, if cool. The bit about Laughlin earns a blink and stare at that particular Commander. Though the business about Abbot just makes her pale and tight-jawed.

Mark watches the exchange with growing impatience. He looks like a parent trying to keep quiet while his kids squabble. There's a glance to Madilyn and Cidra as he takes a relieved breath. Its like fresh air.But eventually his tired eyes look back towards the Commanders.

As for Damon, he's still sitting there quietly. He listens to the back-and-forth exchanges, but doesn't follow along with his eyes. There's something about all this that's giving him an off feeling, but he can't quite put his finger on it.

"As to the matter of Admiral Abbot, Commander Kepner, you took it upon yourself to decide whether the Admiral ought to be tested, and it was not your place to do so. Information about your radiation weapon's capabilities ought to have been made available to myself, Colonel Pewter and Colonel Ionis prior to deliberations. You have knowingly withheld information useful to the prosecution of justice in this Fleet, and you are lucky not to be facing a court martial for it."

Laughlin turns then to look at Madilyn first, encompassing Cidra in his gaze as after a moment he offers, "Your initiative is commended, Majors. Your plans should be coordinated with those drafted by the Fleet's Tactical departments and we shall find ourselves in good position to begin this endeavor shortly, I believe." As Madilyn goes on his narrow jaw sets slightly, weak chin more prominent as he turns back on that note to Kepner. He is silent for a moment or two, and then rises, "Commander Kepner, Colonel Pewter, Colonel Ionis. Please join me in the commander's office, I believe it would be best if we spoke privately for a few minutes."

Either Pewter doesn't really see the need to answer Kepner's claim about the trial or he's too smart to give voice to whatever emotion causes his quivering jaw to set and lock. Instead, as he pushes himself up from the table, he flips open the beige binder to withdraw the AAR that's become the talk of the Fleet. "Y'all can't keep news like this in its hidey-hole forever," he observes, and for a moment his wrinkled eyes twinkle with knowing amusement. "Y'all can try to plug the dike all y'all's want, but when that gully-washer comes, it's gonna clean sweep y'all away like some rickety outbuildin' my grandpappy built." By the time he finishes all that, he's reached Kepner's office, graciously holding open the door for Colonel Ionis. "Might be somethin' we could do to sneak our boys in right under those chrome noses, or least make 'em have to sniff us down. Talk to Chief 'bout that. Guy's got some brains rattlin' round in there." Then, tossing his copy onto the table, he steps into the office himself.

Kepner's lips twitch toward a smile of something resembling smugness when Madilyn mentions Laughlin's yeoman. "I always figured you were playing games with that yeoman of yours, Mickey, but I figured they were the kind you kept limited to under your desk." Smile fades at the talk of Gemenon from the Marine CO and CAG, however. "Gemenon is the least of the targets we should focus on right now, with the capabilities we have." He stands. "But fair enough, 'Commander.' As my 'superior…'" He does not actually utilize finger-quotes, but they're audible. "I can't say no."

And then the hatch slams shut behind the four commanding officers, leaving only the various department heads to wonder just what's going on behind that thick steel door.

Eventually, the tension is broken by the chief weapons officer aboard Praetorian, her nervous laughter somewhat muted in the shadow of that statue. "So," she suggests. "Gemenon." Doing everything she can to not look in the door's direction. "We're going, right?"

Damon starts and looks up when the word 'Chief' is said aloud. After the command staff have disappeared behind the door, he finally allows a deep frown to cloud his expression, mirroring the anxiety that's been holding his body rigid ever since he arrived. But he continues to say nothing for the time being despite the juicy topic of Gemenon being brought up.

Mark just -stares- at the exchange, mouth hanging open slightly until the door slams. "I've got more maturity and respect for rank with E-one's down in Engineering," he voices to nobody in particular. "Good freakin gawds." He takes a long breath and turns round to look at everyone else. "So. Gemenon. Cool. Fine." He's looking at the others but pointing a finger towards the closed hatch. "But if you put that man near a Cylon he's gonna fry the tinner, regardless of the Cylon motives!" Four guesses as to who he is talking about.

In the chair, Madilyn turns to look toward the hatch where Laughlin's marines made a big show before, processing the show she just witnessed, and re-thinking what Laughlin's motives may be. "Yes, Gemenon. A potential cornucopia for enemy intel, particularly if they're willing to be be…friendly in their exchange." There's not much more - and nothing specific - she's eager to disclose, not here on Areion. Who knows what little tricks and secrets Kepner has set up in this room?

"Most certainly. Commander Laughlin *is* in charge of this Fleet, and he has as good at authorized it here and now," Cidra says. What Kepner says she is apparently not dwelling on. "Though the point should be kept in mind. This all could be a very elaborate enemy trap. I do think stealth and caution should be watch-words upon this mission. There are humans alive down there, whatever their status, and playing this wrong may place them in danger."

"If it is an enemy trap…well, the plan is to be covert and non-hostile. I'm not suggesting that we're going in with hugs and rainbows as our only weapons. If they decide they want to be hostile, enough marines will be in position - the covert part - to reply in kind. I'm tired of being bullied by these frakkers parading around in human skins. Either they want to be our friends, or they want to kill us. You can't have it both ways," Madilyn replies with an exasperated sigh. The intrigue and political maneuvering, subterfuge and posturing is not what she signed on for.

"I dunno," the Chief Engineer from Corsair runs a hand over curly hair drawn carefully back as much as it can be, "How are we going to manage stealth and caution when they know we're coming?" She looks across to Damon in particular, "What's the situation with your birds over there, Chief? Have you guys got any sort of supply of those Swallows left? Those sure rattled our brains in Uram, maybe we could put them to use again?"

"Maybe this is a crazy question, so please, stop me if I'm wrong. I'm just a spanner-turner. But if this team is going in covertly or quietly, why bother with making a show with trickery?" Mark offers with lofted brow. "Swallows are electronically loud and a combat tool. You really need them?" He looks at Damon. "Do we have enough to afford using them here?"

"I, um," Damon stutters, caught off-guard by the Chief Engineer's question. "Yes. Uh, if memory serves on the last check, we do have, we have got some left. I think that caution is important for this, but I'm still trying to think of, uh, how we can be discreet, so to speak, given that we're coming up on a planet and not a fleet." To Mark's question, he blinks and tries to think. He's not back at a hundred percent just yet. "I wouldn't recommend relying on them as a primary means for this, no, sir. The nature of the theater of operations will, I think, dampen the effectiveness of their use, unless it's during a hasty extraction."

Announcement: Polaris shouts, "All 9pm events tonight will be starting ~30-45 minutes late. Sorry about that! This event here is taking just a tad longer than expected."

The Engineer waits for Damon's response and nods, before shrugging at Mark, "I mean, you all are talking like it's easy to just drop in unnoticed, like they haven't got DRADIS to pick any entering craft right out. You can say 'stealth' all you want, but how're you gonna do it. Might be better to just flash so much stuff they're not sure what's going on, is all I'm thinking." She shrugs, "I don't know, just tossing ideas around. That's the point of this meeting, right? Aside from… you know, them getting all the measuring over with." She jerks her head towards the office door.

Just like that, BSG-132's department heads do what they do best: get down to business. Five minutes pass, then five more, then five more after that. The insulation in this room is apparently really good, as befits a ship constructed by spooks and for spooks — indeed, not even those department heads paying more attention to the closed hatch than the discussion itself can hear the faintest hint of raised voices coming from the office. If not for the Praetorian MPs everybody knows are standing outside, it might even be easy to forget that the Fleet's COs are talking at all — until, at last, the sound of a hatch grinding open causes Corsair's CWO to look up in evident relief.

"You have my thanks, Commander," Laughlin's saying, his back to the pyramid, his exhausted carriage making him look ten years older than his age. "I'm glad we were able to settle this amicably. And do let me apologize for the display of force. You understand it was never my intention to spark a civil war."

"I do, Mikey." Rudolph Kepner's voice is smug. "That was your first mistake." And then —

BLAM. Laughlin stumbles backwards, a fountain of blood spraying from what used to be his right eye. BLAM. The old man's body slams into the table a foot or two away from where Damon sits, his grey uniform turning black where his heart's supposed to be. BLAM. Commander Laughlin twitches once; twice; is still, his pale face rigid with shock — and in two seconds the room goes from calm and collected to anything but. The smell of burning sulfur fills the air as Kepner points one antique revolver at Pewter's stunned face and another at Ionis' torso, as if daring the men to move. And even before the report of those three gunshots dies away the room's two doors are blown wide open by black-clad Marines —

Areion Marines, twenty-eight in all, assault rifles unsafed, led at the van by a man in a flight suit and a very snappy fedora. "The frak is going on?" Skiron Baer demands, wearing a look of stunned surprise.

Cidra instinctively leaps to her feet when the shots go off, intaking her breath sharply. She does not scream, but that's more due to shock than any trace of her remaining composure. Her hand goes to the pistol at her side but, seeing Kepner now pointing his gun at Pewter, she does not draw it. "Skiron?" The voice of Baer gets her attention. "Thank gods. Commander Kepner just committed murder! This is mutiny! We must stop it!"

Mark is shrugging over the idea of stealth, mostly just asking theoretical questions and pondering over the replies when the hatch opens. The ChEng's expression shifts to neutral at seeing the men return from the meeting. He's about to say something quietly to Cidra when the shot rings out and Mark scrambles out of his chair and stares at the body of Laughlin sprawled out on the table. "What the FRAK?! Are you out of your godsdamned mind?!" the Captain bellows at Kepner.

Alongside Cidra, Madilyn is up on her feet as well. Only the first shot makes her flinch, and while her reactions might be a bit faster than Cidra's, she can hardly manage to get snap off the sidearm, let alone draw it to point at Kepner. Unfamiliar with Baer, Madilyn can hardly determine whose side he's on, watching the Areion marines flow in. "Kepner…detain him!" she barks out to those pouring in, hoping the Praetorian marines will be following, if only to deter the Areion marines if they decide they want to go with their ship's CO, or with, you know, reason.

Damon winces when the first shot goes off, but otherwise doesn't seem disturbed by the fact that Laughlin was shot right in front of him. He watches the old man as he's shot again and again, blinking as each round is fired. Mutely, he looks at Kepner, then the incoming Marines led by Baer, then at Cidra and Madilyn with a quiet but sad expression in his eyes. "What is your intention with us?" he asks Kepner, surreally calm.

Pewter doesn't turn — the gun leveled in his direction makes sure of that. Narrow eyes widen as his normally jovial features twist in barely controlled rage, his dark skin flushed, his thick fists balled. "Y'all best make damn sure y'all's get that peashooter out of my face," the man thunders, his basso profundo so deep that the very ground might rumble beneath his feet. "Major Tillman's got our guns trained right at y'all, and though I don't truck with this politics shit, this ol' dog knows damn sure what a big-ass slug'll do to y'all's armor. Kill us, fine — but y'all've just signed y'all's death warrants if y'all's do."

"Majors. Captains. Chief. You are hereby ordered to stand down. Commander Laughlin has been executed and I have taken command of this battlegroup," Kepner says, cold as ice now. No more smarmy jabs or any trace of casualness from him. And calm, for all that he just shot a man in a room full of military brass. "I am placing you all under arrest for treason and conspiracy. The time for 'debate' is over. This is war, and you've proven yourselves unworthy to carry on the fight for humanity." As for Tillman, that draws a smile. "Oh, I don't think that will be a problem."

Mark just -stares- wide-eyed at the whole thing. "Blow a whole clean through this damned thing! Praetorian ain't a lame duck, either!" He's raging pissed until Kepner orders his arrest. "Oh really!! You simpering frak! You frakking coward! Don't have the balls to face a man down you gotta shoot him in the back??" The Chief Engineer stabs a finger in the air at him. "You're frakkin dead, you son of a bitch!!" It may be a point of anger that Laughlin was Mark's former Commanding Officer. "I'll see you strung up by your ass for this!!" And he's not happy about seeing the man shot. The normally calm Captain, the friendly happy-go-lucky gent, is explosively mad and begins storming around the table towards Kepner.

"Well, I think we can all see why Hauck picked you to be her lapdog, you psychotic bastard. I think the Gun's fried your silicon circuits," Madilyn barks at Kepner. "All this talk about rooting out Cylon agents, and in the end, it was just a play to get your ass in the driver's seat." She just shakes her head at the man. "Pathetic. Sowing the seeds of discord, so you psycho fraks can drive your turbo-charged, tired-out little bucket into the fleet and claim to be our saviors." While she hasn't /drawn/ her weapon, neither has she made it a point to get her hands in the hair. The table, with its ostentatious memorial, might be just enough to keep her hands out of sight enough.

The Areion Marines don't hesitate, they have their orders. As Kepner speaks, they move swiftly into the room and directly towards the gathered brass to divest them of weapons and restrain those that need restraining. As Mark attempts to storm around the table, two step up, taking his arms and working in concert to subdue him while another trains his weapon on the Chief Engineer's chest. There are enough Marines to get to everyone near-simultaneously, and more to spare, weapons at the ready should anyone attempt to resist the arrest orders.

Skiron Baer looks around the room, into the office at Kepner and then back to the body of Laughlin on the table. Lips purse faintly at the sight and then he looks over at Cidra, stepping towards her as she addresses him, though he doesn't yet say anything.

Master Sergeant Amika Keller is one of those Marines. Working with brutal efficiency, she and her subordinates begin to snap plastic riot cuffs over the hands of everybody in the room. She reserves her roughest treatment for the other Marines, taking excessive pleasure in slamming them against the table's sharp edge while she binds their wrists. Including Major Willows-Cavanaugh, whose sly move to hide her gun she sees, anticipates, and summarily prevents with an elbow to the small of her back. "About godsdamned time," she hisses in Madilyn's ear before jerking the blonde to her feet by the back of her greys. "Can't believe your people actually take orders from you, you frakking pussycat. Get down."

Damon's hand stays clear of his weapon so that his movements aren't misinterpreted by any trigger-happy Marines. But before he's overtaken and arrested, he turns toward Baer, watching the man's face. "You can still stop this, sir," he says, a tone of pleading in his voice. "This can end here, in this room, with minimal bloodshed." That's all the resistance he has to give; he won't fight the Marines from detaining him.

"Skiron, stop this!" Cidra says sharply at Baer. It's less a plea than a mixture of an exclamation and a command. She struggles against the Marines trying to detain her, attempting to get a grip on her gun, albeit to no avail. The CAG is not a brawler. "This is madness! You must see that! Help me! Help us!"

"You'd be surprised what you can achieve when you use the carrot and not the stick, bitch," Madilyn hisses out before she's hauled up by the back of her greys, then pushed down against the table. "I leave the stick to grunts like you. I can see Benoit's frakked your brains out…just based on the way you mindlessly do what these twisted frakkers say," she mumbles out with her cheek against the table, arms pulled back behind and cuffed.

"You're right," Baer says to Cidra, tone solemn as he steps closer, one hand lifted to slowly remove his precious fedora, "I have to help." He reaches for his sidearm, unholstering it and then, in one swift motion, raising his hand high and bringing the weapon down onto Cidra's head in a vicious blow. "Help you right out an airlock, you stupid, skinjob-loving slut," Baer finishes his thought, before stepping back to wipe the barrel of his gun on his flight suit as he laughs. And laughs and laughs, shaking his head at the fallen CAG as he picks up his hat and sets it back on his head at a jaunty angle. "Let's get these bitches out of here, shall we?"

Cidra falls before Cerberus' CO is cuffed — and for what it's worth, it'll take three Marines to deal with him. Two hold him by the arms and force him to his knees in case the former dockworker decides to get any crazy ideas into his head; the third approaches gingerly, as if half expecting to be thrown backwards at any moment. But even Andrus Pewter can do nothing save grit his teeth and submit, staring blankly at his glasses — glasses that have fallen to the deck in the commotion, whose thick fiberglass lenses reflect soldiers in black, soldiers in grey, and the occasional soldier in orange —

And, of course, the limp and lifeless hand of Commander Michael Laughlin, on whose curled index finger there quivers a single drop of blood that hangs, dangles — and falls.

The die is cast.

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