PHD #075: EVENT - Don't Shoot the Messenger
Don't Shoot the Messenger
Summary: What do you do when you see a ghost?
Date: 12 May 2041 AE
Related Logs: The Promise of Science
Oberlin Stavrian Penelope Haeleah Sawyer Walker Diesel Poole Polaris 
Prometheus Square — Kythera — Leonis
Crammed full of restaurants, upscale fast food joints, warehouses, and office supply shops, Prometheus Square is just really a collection of stores at the intersection of Inspiration and Imagination Lanes, constructed for the express purpose of sustaining the men and women working for the biotech beast. Like the rest of central Kythera, most of this area is no more than rubble. Service industry workers are buried alongside the high-powered scientists they served, and what few buildings remain are in perpetual danger of toppling over. The most prominent of these is unquestionably the Museum of High Technology, whose asymmetrical hypermodern frame forms the southern edge of the square. A shredded banner still hangs from its central gallery, whose collapsed roof frames its bold white text quite nicely indeed: "Behold! The Promise of Science."
Post-Holocaust Day: #75


It shouldn't be this quiet at 0600 hours, not here — not at this great intersection at the heart of the city, where posh coffee shops once catered to the tens of thousands of workers that streamed out of the H, where blindingly white tour buses once disgorged caravans of tourists with their families in tow, where the sound of a thousand internal combustion engines once roared in unison around the roundabout at the center of it all. But as the sleepy mist lifts over the wreckage of Prometheus Square, whose broken buildings are bathed in gentle blue light, not a thing can be heard save the crunching of boots over shattered asphalt and broken class. Streaks of red cut through the cloudless sky, and as a gentle breeze picks up from the east, the faint smell of decay wafts lightly through the cool springtime air.

Good morning, Kythera. Rise and shine.

Nothing is a motivator like the promise of food, stale or otherwise. Up like the proverbial early bird, Oberlin stalks the streets of the square within the building shadow with his team, gesturing them forth with a series of hand signals. This early bird will probably settle for a worm or two, at this point.

Here with their little group, Stavrian has rifle ready in hand and medkits in place over his shoulder and on one leg. He stays fanned out from Oberlin at the Lietenant's three, covering the left side of the straggler party. A frequent glance behind him reassures him the engineers and reporter haven't fallen into a sewer, or worse.

Haeleah makes her way out into the city proper with the others. Trying to walk as quiet as possible. It's eerie, how the sound of one's footsteps are magnified in the near-dead place. She's decidedly not her usual chatty self as she follows Oberlin. She can't help staring at the remains of restaurants and shops as they pass them. So much normalcy amidst so much destruction.

Time is relative anyways, especially when you've grown used to living in a metal husk in the middle of the black where there is no real day or night. Sawyer pauses as the group marches on, turning her face to the sky to appreciate the rosy tendrils of dawn as they creep over the eerie landscape, soaking up the image of sunrise while she can. Before anyone can call her out on her dawdling, she scurries to catch up, taking a quick picture as an excuse.

Penelope turns as the group passes what was once a very expensive Panthera Coupe, its front crumpled like tin-foil beneath a fallen streetlamp. She cannibalizes it with her eyes, walking backwards a few paces, then faces front once more. Up and over the buildings her gaze travels, taking in the aching blue of the sky against the shadowy, hollow-eyed buildings. Not quite so frosty today: there's good salvage everywhere she looks, and her mind is busy putting it to use.

The silence is so eerie and so pervasive that even the pair of Marines escorting the survivors can't bring themselves to break it. Corporal Walker — nobody calls her Nora — strides forward at the rear of the makeshift column, her assault rifle dwarfed by those muscles she's spent her entire life training up. Her hardened face is taut with worry as the corner is turned and the square comes into better view — the square with Evandreus' Raptor at its center, her engines and that precious FTL shot through by a steady stream of Cylon bullets. Opposite Stavrian, Private Diesel sees it too — "Chuck," as he's known to his friends, whose unique last name came courtesy of a courtroom the moment he hit eighteen. The young man adjusts his grip on his gun, its heavy strap cutting into his shoulder. Muted brown eyes can't look at this vision of salvation lost for more than a second at a time, flicking there and back again as he walks — shoulders thrown back in a display of confidence more fragile than heartening.

Haeleah looks over her shoulder at Penelope. And that lingering look she's giving the Coupe. She tries to catch the other snipe's eye, nodding a little. There is good haul to be made here. If they manage to get off the planet alive with any of it. The sight of Evandreus' Raptor makes her wince visibly. That taxi ain't taking them anywhere. She pauses as she notes Sawyer lagging, saying nothing for it, though she slows her pace as the reporter scurries.

The silence is only broken by the soft footfalls of Oberlin. He's not exactly some sort of high-danger hands-on special forces type but he's been practicing, for what it's worth. Through the row of broken and abandoned buildings, his head whips from one to the other attempting to eyes the ones in a better state of repair. A few minutes later, the little group comes up on an 'T.S. McQueen's' — an unassuming mom-and-pop coffee shop that was probably home to various young professionals and artsy urbanites before the planet got blown to Hell. It looks intact. Gesturing towards it, he comes to a stop, giving the little building a wave.

Stavrian licks his lips as they spot that Raptor, exhaling a steady but tense breath through his nose. His teeth press together in his mouth, bunching the muscles along his jaw, and blue eyes turn to look at Diesel and then Oberlin. A slight nod and he steps ahead of the Lieutenant, turning his back to the entryway for some flimsy illusion of cover. Trying to keep his boot steps silent, he crouches a little as he tries to see inside. Anyone home?

Note to self: brush up on ground tactic lingo. Why is Oberlin waving at a building? Sawyer quirks her head in a bird-like approximation of curiousity. OH HAI COFFEE SHOP? Oh, that's their first destination. She gives one more look over her shoulder to the beaten up hull of the ship she rode in on and snaps off a quick morbid picture. Things are easier to process when you do it through a lens. It steals her up before they dungeon crawl through their first objective. "My kingdom for a half-caff double latte with extra milk…"

Penelope flashes a tight little grin at Hae when her fellow snipe catches her eye. Good to have someone on her extremely geeky wavelength. The Raptor… well, she stares blankly at it for a moment, torn between the illusion that it might be repaired and the urge to cannibalize it, too. The need to hope and the imperative to accept cancel each other out, leaving her ambivalent. A bit numb. She shakes her head slightly, as though to clear it, and hefts her rifle with more purpose, creeping up on the cafe at Oberlin's signal.

Haeleah creeps along as well. To the coffee shop. Maybe there're some grounds left.

Oberlin also makes his way on in, although he ain't on point. Privileges of command. Another reason to hate this guy.

No such luck, Sawyer. As the storefront draws nearer, its massive bar-facing window lying in pieces on the ground, it's clear that there won't be anything resembling fresh milk in the powerless refrigerators kept inside. No need to sweep the building, either: from the looks of it, there's but two rooms in aforementioned mom-and-pop shop, connected by a quaint wooden door that hangs ajar by its hinges. Chalk-covered blackboards are visible behind the bronze serving counter, displaying the menu for Friday the 26th of February — pumpkin-flavored mocha is the special of the day and has remained as such for the several weeks following. Comfortable leather armchairs are strewn across the floor, some overturned, some still upright. Decomposed cakes — carrot, chocolate, and otherwise — stand ready for serving in a display case that's been riddled by shrapnel, their desiccated remains crumbling like the buildings around them: because at T.S. McQueen's, as the signs proclaim, No Preservatives are used.

Stavrian is just fine on point; nothing's shooting at him. Yet. He waits for Diesel and Walker to settle into covering position before slinking a little further in, then further, boots cracking a little broken tile and wood underfoot. One hand lifts, indicating to be still for a long few seconds, blue eyes skimming around the room. Alert, brows twitching. And then the hand drops and he glances back at Oberlin. "Looks clear, sir." His voice is still kept quiet.

"Clear." So says Walker, whose harsh voice rattles loudly in her larynx.

"Clear." That, from Diesel, who looks longingly at said cakes before jerking his rifle towards the back room. "Want us to check that out?" More faux bravado. It's so cute on him.

"If there's nothing to shoot at back there, see if you can't find some boxes, plastic milk crates… all that rot," Penny requests of Diesel. "We'll need something to carry any salvage we can… salvage… in." Request made, she goes behind the bar, peering beneath the counter and in the cupboards overhead. Checking for anything canned or retort-packaged, things which — while wholesome as the T.S. McQueen's promise — might still be good.

Sawyer's boots scatter some broken glass with a scrape, crunch and tinkle as she moves forward into the gaping yawn of what used to be a window when Stavrian sounds the all-clear. Sawyer's stomach rumbles at the first sight of cake in that display case, but she quickly turns green at the decomposition that's quite clear at second glance. "What we need to do is finds a frakkin Twinkie somewhere. Now /there's/ post apocolyptic food." Because the sight of the sagging, frosting roses is just so sad, Sawyer lifts her camera and takes another picture for her digital collection.

Haeleah heads into the coffee shop once the clear is given. Any hope she had of finding food is promptly dashed at the sight of the moldy cakes. She stares at a particularly green carrot dessert. Well, that's one effective way to kill your appetite. She strides over to a display case, kneeling. Getting a better look at the shrapnel but not touching it. "Looks like the toasters came through here personal. Maybe. I wonder where the bod…people are?" She can't quite bring herself to say 'bodies.'

"Hold." Oberlin says, softly, as he holds up his free hand, with an action that is clearly louder than a word. His brows are furrowed as he glances around, stalking inside. "Yeah, it does." He amends to Stavrian before creeping past a few of the pieces of destroyed furniture. An 'ech' of distaste is tossed towards the moldy and clearly inedible food. "Not the squarest meal in the best of damn times. But —" He gestures towards the door in back. "Flank the door, open and clear on my mark." He suddenly turns towards Penelope. "Soy. It lasts forever." Haeleah gets a wordless frown and a nod. Sawyer a nose twitch, for her statement. "All right. Clear." Back to work, he signals the marines and proceeds to close in behind them.

"Twinkies and roaches," Stavrian mutters after Sawyer. "Wonder which would taste better at this point." He lowers the rifle a little, nodding to Diesel and Walker. His lips thin at the sight of the mold and decay and he swallows lightly, turning to head for the door on Oberlin's order. Flank door, wait…and here we go. He steps around the corner, his back tense as his feet cross over one another…and…no gunfire. Silence. Then his voice: "Clear. Storeroom, sir. Coffee…got some powdered milk back here." He nudges a bit of broken shelving, moving to the side to let others in if they follow. A storeroom indeed, about 30 feet by 20 feet. With /stuff/.

And indeed they do follow. Walker moves in first, rifle raised and pointing at the emergency exit at the back — marked as such by a number of stickers that have, thanks to the Cylons, been rendered entirely irrelevant. It's there that she takes up position — and as for the door, that's Diesel's job. Pushing through, the young man drops to a kneel and covers the sales floor from which he entered, safety flicked on and off just to double-check.

Sawyer will happily carry things when asked of her, but for now she's content to record the images of humanity - as twisted and distorted as it is - through the snap of her camera. "Shoe leather. I'm going to resort to shoe leather first before I eat cockroaches." She comments to the room at large, not so concerned with being silent now that they're within four (if broken) walls. False sense of security, perhaps.

Penelope opens a cabinet and gapes. Her eyes nearly fall out of her head. "Oh, BAY-bee…" she whispers, picking up a vacuum sealed, foil bag of coffee. She runs it rapturously under her nose, breathing in — though there's probably no aroma escaping the package… It's the frakking principle of the thing. "Gods help us, we might go hungry, but we're going to be wired for sound."

"Don't knock them, Averies. I hear they're rich in protein," Haeleah quips. She gets back to her feet. She'll haul as well, as needed. "And given our daily supply of calcium," she rejoins to Penelope, going to get some powdered milk and something to carry it in.

In the meantime, Oberlin continues to survey the place, particularly looking for signs of destruction. Yay milk mules.

Or not. Oberlin's nose twitches. "Shit. They must have brewed enough in this place that the coffee's in the frakking walls. Or —." He doesn't let that finish, suddenly falling silent and holding up a hand.

Stavrian's nose wrinkles slowly and he sniffs. Allergies? DUST? He sniffles again, scratching the tip of his nose, and turns halfway around to look back at the exit door. Blue eyes blink slowly and a dark brow arches steadily upwards, attention fixing on Penelope and that bag. "The frak is that, El-Tee, a scratch-n-sniff?" Another sniff in the air, twice this time, and his eyes flicker to Oberlin in mild surprise. "You-…" Hand up. He shuts up.

Diesel trades uneasy looks with Walker before their eyes lock onto Stavrian as if to say 'Lead us, oh officer.' Whatever it is that everybody else has noticed, they assuredly have not — though the former's too nervous and the latter's too tense to be of much use. Click-click go the safeties on their rifles as they eye their precious magazines: because out here, ammo is life.

Sawyer is a college graduate. It doesn't take her long to catch on to the hand signals. As Oberlin's extremity goes up, Sawyer lowers her camera, but otherwise stands stalk still. She didn't catch what the others obviously did, but she trusts their judgement. Statue Sawyer.

Penelope's coffee sniffing becomes cartoonishly exaggerated after a few moments, her expression furrowing into puppyish confusion. Sniff. Aroo? Sniff-snarf-SNIFFFFFF!!! Because… it's not scratch-n-sniff and she shouldn't be smelling a frakking thing but… that's… She could swear she smells… She blinks, eyes snapping up and taking in the room again. She sees the Obi-hand, and freezes.

Click. Oberlin's safety goes off too as he simply shrugs, and gestures towards the storefront, moving again into formation as the group clears out. Short and sweet.

Haeleah sniffs at the air, head turning toward that smell. "That is some strong stuff, L-T…" she begins saying to Penelope. Then, at Oberlin's signal, she shuts up.

Stavrian raises an eyebrow at the tac LT. Not that anyone can blame a guy for being paranoid, but you know. His head barely moves as he meets Diesel and Walker's eyes, a minute tip of his head indicating for them to keep the rear guard. No words from him, and what he can /hope/ is no sound (haw), as he moves up to keep an eye on Oberlin during this little exodus.

Everyone seems on edge about something, so when Oberlin signals them to move out again, Sawyer proceeds with extra caution. Her camera hangs slack around her neck from its strap, her hand free to rest on the butt of her gun just in case there's cause to use it.

Haeleah moves out a little as well. Light on her feet. What do you know? The snipe knows how not to clomp when she wants to. She follows Sawyer, sticking close to the reporter.

Penelope stands frozen. Silent. Only her eyes move… back. And forth. Like you can see a smell. Maybe she huffed a bit of funny mold when she was trying to determine whether her bag of coffee was Hazelnut or Breakfast blend. When Oberlin gives the signal, she moves as carefully and silently as she can — which really is to say, not at all. The best one can say is that she's not purposefully stomping and knocking shit over.

It's Oberlin who notices it first — a flash of grey, the turn of a page, the rustle of a broadsheet folded over by long and practiced fingers. And the smell? It's stronger, now — all smoky and sweet and richly roasted at once, rising up from a mug placed on a table whose leading edge is visible past the right-hand corner of broken window in front. Only when they move forward will the true picture become clear —

Because outside, there's a woman — a woman sitting cross-legged in a burnished bronze chair, reading her morning news like nothing at all is the matter. Her dusky features have a distinctly noble cast, and her age — she must be forty, at the very least — has granted her a dignity beyond her years. 'Pindel Under Fire!' the headline blares, visible even beneath the fluttering purple umbrella growing like a tree from the table's weatherproofed top. Her elegant black pantsuit must have cost a pretty penny — a businesswoman's, perhaps, at the very pinnacle of high fashion. And that face — dark eyebrows draped in sooty arcs over large, expressive eyes, which contrast quite sharply with her angled, pointed chin —

A face last seen staring up at a security camera inside the MolGen compound before, with an inaudible prayer, its owner swept open her coat to reveal enough explosives to wreck a room twice the size of the one she was in…

Oh hey. It's not an armed gang. It's not a 7 foot tall chrome automaton. It's a woman done up like a mover and shaker. Oberlin just stops as his mouth hangs open when he comes through. His tongue clicks as his head flickers towards her. "Y'know, in a situation where drinking water's hard to come buy, caffeine's a horrible diuretic. Which means — " He falls silent as his eyes just widen a bit. He /stares/ at her. Maybe he's pulling for a date.

Also — note Oberlin hasn't lowered his rifle.

"Sweet Hecate…" Penelope's rifle, which had snapped up at the sight of the casually seated figure… slowly lowers. For good or ill. The shock of this very distinct, very familiar apparition has made her quite stupid for the moment. "Apotropaia, protect us from the restless dead," she whispers.

Which means… "Someone's taking the piss?" Stavrian murmurs, humor totally flat as it rolls out of his cotton-dry mouth. His blue eyes are slightly wide, rifle jammed securely against his shoulder and breathing far up in his chest. He tries to swallow, feeling inadequate salive rake its way down his throat, and he licks his lips. "Ma'am?" How absurd, /addressing/ it. But it's the only thing his mind can think of to do.

Sawyer draws up with the rest of the group, whisper soft on her feet. It's really hard not to gape, when the elegant looking woman is sitting in the midst of a rubbled landscape reading her paper as easy as can be. A hand reaches up, rubbing her eyes with forefinger and thumb, but as Oberlin is talking to her, at least it's a group hallucination.

Haeleah is too stunned by the sight of the woman even to swear. She just stares, silent, open-mouthed and slack-jawed. Nice tailoring in this blasted wasteland, that. She can't believe what she's seeing either.

She moves not unlike a cobra, that king of serpents — for, like a snake, she possesses a sinuous economy of motion that testifies to an unshakable confidence in her own superiority. Eyes so dark they might as well be black fix upon the faces of the soldiers whose rifles are pointed her way: committing them to memory, perhaps, or gauging their quality. Corporal Walker doesn't flinch, which she notes with a nod; Private Diesel does, which is noted in much the same fashion. And then, ever so slowly, she places the newspaper on the table, manicured fingernails tracing idle patterns across the dateline — 26 February 2041 AE — before reaching for the mug nearby.

"Good morning," she says, throaty contralto as rich as the coffee she drinks. "I give greetings to those doomed to die."

"I used to own that album." Oberlin says, still /definitely/ not lowering the rifle. Especially now. He keeps it trained in the woman's direction. He holds still, but his eyes are wide and ever-widening, his pale features visibly searching for something. An explanation, maybe? "Now that we're done with the ominous greetings would you mind answering something? First of all, what happened to 'hello, somewhat-heavily-armed people poking through my ruined city?'" He blinks a bit. "Second of all — Nah. Never mind."

SUP? Somehow that doesn't seem like the proper response. Stavrian's widened eyes stay pinned on the figure, corner of the left one twitching like a tic at her last words to them. Oberlin gets to do the talking for now, his tongue running over the backs of his front teeth. That rifle does not get lowered, trained on the woman and her absurdly innocuous setup. His attention only flickers once, to that date…26 February, and he's aware somewhere in his mind of his throat tightening.

Sawyer would have preferred to start off a retort with 'Listen Bitch' and then go on to say about what a hard week they've been having and maybe some slack should be cut. But seeming how they're looking at a /dead woman/, Sawyer can't even dredge up her inner snark. So those who can't….do. Sawyer lifts her camera and takes a picture of Miss Politely Creepy.

The frak kind of thing is that for a ghost to say? Not that Penny could suggest something more likely, really, but… the woman's words obviously irritate her. "Yeah. Well. Morituri te salutant, back at you," she mutters. Her commentary isn't particularly meant to engage — it's more to keep her cool. She lets Oberlin do the real talking. And though she holds her rifle ready, but doesn't seem nearly as intent on keeping this creature in her sights as she was with Miranda. After all, if she is corporeal, she's just a bag of bones.

Haeleah's hand goes to her rifle. Slow snipe. It wasn't up and ready. She just stares around wildly. From the not-so-dead woman to Oberlin. Kythera is creepy. It must be said.

"You are a brave man, Lieutenant Oberlin, though I would not put so much faith in that toy." It doesn't take much effort for her to infuse her words with harsh contempt — so much so that she doesn't bother looking at the man as she drinks that delicious-looking coffee. "I care not for this shell. Shoot it when we are through, if that will sate your thirst for blood. It will change nothing, for — how would you render it in the Old Tongue, Penelope?" Another sip. "Ah, yes: Alea iacta est."

"Oh, you know me." Oberlin states with a very tight, calculated flippancy. "Um, /apparently/ you do. But thanks. I want to say I know you but we're not really on a first name basis." He holds stock-still, as he gives Penny a sidelong glance. "Classy, Paris." It almost sounds like a compliment. "Obviously, in addition to your other skills you're a classicist? I think the die was cast a long time ago when those things started coming up snakeeyes."

While the Lieutenants exchange words with the phantom — if that's what this thing is — Stavrian's eyes stay locked on that newspaper. The date on it: day, month, year. Tiny lines cut into the corners of his eyes as they subtly, slowly tense and relax, and as Oberlin keeps talking he shifts his weight a little on his feet, trying to see more of the text showing.

Penelope's hands twitch, clutching her rifle reflexively. If she were back home on Aerilon, her brothers would give her two for flinching. Her name. It knows her name. And there's power in names, any devotee of Hecate'll tell you. She takes a long, slow breath in through her nose. Holds it. Releases just as slow. She flicks an inscrutible glance at Oberlin, but says nothing.

Haeleah passes a look between the…woman(?) and Penelope. She doesn't speak the ancient tongue, obviously.

Wait. She knows /names/. Maybe there was a gas leak in the MolGen compound, and they're actually all laying around down there in some noxious fume induced stupor. The camera slowly lowers and Sawyer creeps forward more, catching what Stavrian has already caught. That newspaper is positively as fascinating to the Newsie as the woman is herself.

"Very good, boy." Mocking approval lends surpassing sweetness to the woman's tone as behind her shine the sun's first rays. "Your hounds heel." That coffee hasn't done much at all to polish her rasping voice, which — though not quite a croak — seems even throatier than before. Long legs cross, uncross, cross again as she leans back in that chair, her expression severe, her bright eyes unblinking. "But I am not here for banter, entertaining though it may be. I am here to deliver a warning, which you will heed if you are wise."

Slowly, mug in hand, she rises to her feet, long hair falling in rivers about her head. Jet-black clothes crease slightly as she moves. "You have seen what happens when you defy the will of God." God — singular. "This — " Free hand gestures to the destruction all around her. "This was a merciful death. Learn from it — and let it end. For if you persist in your attempts to eradicate His children, He will strike again — " That's actually a smile. "And the next time, He will not be so generous." The mug's tilted over, over, over — spilling coffee onto the pulverized concrete pavement beneath her feet, splashing against the chair before the mug, too, bursts open, brown-fired clay exploding with a crack: a libation of sorts in her god's holy name. And with that, she turns to go, heels stirring up dust where they fall.'

"I've got a shot," mutters Walker, her rifle fixed at a point between the departing woman's shoulderblades. "Orders, sir. Orders — now."

Bl-blink. "Listen. Nobody's eradicating anyone else. The Cylons pretty much ensured that." Oberlin states, cautiously, with the kind of kid gloves someone will suddenly don when dealing with the clearly insane. "All we're concerned with is getting anyone we can off this blasted, useless planet and we can leave the Toasters dancing in the radioactive mud until they rust and die, or start getting chewed up by three-eyed fish." He just stands there, processing the dark-haired woman's words with a carefully clenched jaw. "Which god do you follow? We're not here to oppose anyone's faith. We can take you with us if you cooperate." His finger twitches just above the rifle trigger but does not fire.

If it were Tillman leading this expedition, she'd probably be taking rounds in the kneecaps right now. But for better or worse, Oberlin is not Tillman. He glances towards Walker. "Hold your fire. You don't want some unarmed zealot's blood on your hands." He winces. "That's not somewhere we want to be." He calls out, "Don't get shot out there, lady."

Stavrian's lips move, soundless as they committ something on that newspaper page to memory. His eyes snap up as the apparition begins to speak, back tensing like a shot when she stands up. His face suddenly drains of color as she speaks, leaving the olive-skinned JG sickly-white as a sheet. "K'haireto hemeteros Basileus Soter ta Pater te…" Not much sound, dry and slightly raspy. It comes out before he even realizes what swamp in his mind it's dredged up from, and he sucks in a sharp breath. "His blood for ours."

Penelope stares after the departing ghost-cum-prophetess, mouth slightly ajar. Walker's words snap her out of it a little, and the look she gives the marine is one of envy. Even though she knows Cal Oberlin would never give the order to shoot an unarmed woman in the back… wouldn't it be nice? Then again… "She can't die. She's already dead." Penny swallows, throat bone dry. "I might've expected this place to be haunted," she murmurs. "Haunted, and the ghosts've gone mad."

"Frak." Walker doesn't relax, but that twitchy trigger finger does lift to rest quite safely on the stock of her rifle.

As for the woman? It'll take her a while to get out of sight, and even longer to get out of earshot — though at this distance, a fair few yards away, it seems quite unlikely that Stavrian's words were heard. But the moment they're uttered, she spins about, regarding the tall medic with that steady, level gaze. "Turn back," she intones, as if reciting from a liturgy: "Turn back, for though you may kill me, you will not kill my people. K'haireto hermeteros Basileus Soter ta Pater te." There's that unsettling smile once more. "Lance Corporal Brenner was a wise man," she offers. "If you will not heed me, at least heed him." And without another word she's gone, stepping over puddles of broken glass until, like the stars, she's vanished into the light.

Minutes later, when the sun rises above the remains of Prometheus Square, glinting in the distance is visible the distinctive form of a Heavy Raider ascending into the sky, painted gold and a blinding crimson red before it quavers — blinks — the chariot of Helios, Lord of the Sun —

And disappears, as dawn turns to day.

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