PHD #413: EVENT - One
Summary: One Rejn to r— damnit, we already used that joke.
Date: 15 Apr 2042 AE
Related Logs: Everything?
Bannik Cora Kepner Marshall Pallas Rejn Stryer Trask Vandenberg NPC Polaris Volans 
It's where fancy people are in charge of things and also there are computers.
Post-Holocaust Day: #413

[TAC1] Cora says, "I understand that, Commander," Cora is saying into the wireless, expression tight and angry but voice relatively calm, even cool, "But the assault you've ordered requires time to prepare, and without our department heads, and with a fire raging down on Deck 4, we're running just a little bit slower than we might otherwise. The plans are in progress. We need more time, unless what you're looking for is half-assed work."

In breezes, well, breezes isn't really the word. In hustles Specialist Tyr Bannik, his briefing book and file clutched to his chest just as it was when he entered the Ready Room. "I've got the combat personnel briefed, sir. They know what we have to do and why we have to do it." His voice is a little breathless; he must really have hustled from the Ready Room. He moves back towards his station.

[TAC1] Kepner says, "Cerberus, Areion Actual." Kepner's voice over the wireless is level and calm. "I sense a lack of courage on your end, Captain Nikephoros. You disappoint me. I had expected better from you in particular. I thought you of all people would understand what I'm trying to do, and the glorious mission we're all about to be a part of. Stop playing for time and work faster."

[TAC1] Cora says, "I believe what you're actually sensing is a lack of resources, Commander," Cora replies, "You've hamstrung my ability to do the work you're now demanding I do in a fraction of the time. Plans are in progress. I can send over preliminary drafts if you like, but they are just that, drafts. We need more time. Do you want to hit as many Cylons as possible, or do you want to cut corners and fail to make the most of our revenge? I need another hour."

[TAC1] Kepner says, "Very well then, Captain. Clearly you need incentive to work harder."

Bannik logs back into his console, even as he has a certain impulse to join the damage control crews buzzing around CIC. After all, wrenches wrench. They don't watchstand in CIC. But then again, Cora usually doesn't command. "Anything you need, sir?" he asks the Captain.

[TAC1] Kepner's next broadcast does not go over merely the tac frequency to Cora in CIC, but to every wireless unit in the Fleet. "This is Commander Rudolph Kepner," comes the man's grating voice. "Thirty minutes have elapsed. Your interim commanding officer has informed us that preparations for our operation are not yet complete. These delays will not be tolerated. I have therefore authorized the execution of Captain Rafe Williamson, Chief Weapons Officer of the Corsair, for mutiny, sedition, and colluding with the enemy in times of war. I pray you will permit me to exercise my powers of clemency in thirty minutes. Kepner out."

Cora hangs up the wireless receiver with a clang and glares at it for a long moment as Kepner's announcement is made. "The Weapons officer from Corsair," she informs those who might not be familiar. She shakes her head, and then turns back, "Bannik! You know Colonial Signal Code, right? I want a message to the combat personnel in the Ready Room, use the FLASH transmitter and get them up here, I need to hear their assault plans. See how they compare with ours. Go."

Immediately following Kepner's announcement, lights start blinking up on communications consoles in the CIC. One in particular catches the attention of the operator. "Sir," she calls out. "We have an incoming transmission from Elpis asking to speak with you directly."

Cora turns to frown at the operator, replying, "Elpis? Seriously? What do they want? Put them through."

"Yes, sir." Because he's been close to Basic, Bannik has drilled in his head the basic Colonial Signal Code. He makes his way over towards the antiquated FLASH console in the CIC and connects it through to the Ready Room. And then he begins tapping away. Tap-taptaptap. Tap-tap. Tap. A pause. Not because that's a break in the word. But because he needs to recall the next letter. Tap-tap-taptaptaptap. "Getting them on up here."

[TAC1] "Staredown" Marshall says, "Cerberus Actual, this is Staredown. Captain Nikephoros, I'm given to understand that you've taken command of Cerberus at this time. Is it true that Kepner is holding all department heads from all ships of the Fleet hostage aboard Areion?"

[TAC1] Cora says, "Staredown, this is Cerberus Actual. You heard correctly on all counts. In what capacity are you hailing, Mister Marshall? No offense, but you're retired and I'm a little busy."

"Good," Cora nods to Bannik before picking up the call from Elpis. She seems faintly confused as it begins, and leans an elbow on the nearest console as she speaks, gesturing for an aide to hand her the folder he's been hovering nearby holding. She reads as she converses with Marshall.

[TAC1] "Staredown" Marshall says, "Cerberus Actual, Staredown. My daughter, the Chief Weapons Officer of Praetorian, is then one of Kepner's hostages. Retired though I may be, and limited in my resources and abilities here on Elpis, I wish to offer you any and all assistance I can provide in your efforts. I have no official capacity in which to be hailing you, Captain, so I'll not take up any more of your time. But I am here and ready should you need me for anything."

[TAC1] Cora says, "Copy that, Staredown. As far as we know, Praetorian Weps is unharmed. Thanks for the help, we'll keep you posted if there's anything you can do. Keep your eyes open for Areion agents over there, make sure the guards on CIC are paying attention. Who knows what they'll try next. Anything strange happens, you let me know. Nikephoros out."

Pallas is slower to make his way up to CIC than Bannik; he arrives some minutes after the fast-moving Specialist following the announcement of the first execution. Since this isn't his usual scene, he just stays off to the side and watches as events unfold. From the look on his face, he's thinking real hard about something.

"Marshall's some sort of military analyst, isn't he, sir?" asks Bannik after he finishes sending the message. "Wouldn't he be a help over here if, you know, we had him to help with all of these things?" But he seems to notice how impertinent this might sound, so he retreats to his console and continues staring down at it.

"You heard the woman," snaps LTJG Iris Stryer, her oily hair bound up behind her glasses with a thick purple band. The short Intel officer paces around CIC's glass walls, bending down every so often to read a few scribbled suggestions or change the placement of certain assets on the central map board. "Marcus, give me thirty-second bullets for our best-shot assault plan," she says as she walks. "Where the frak did we get these godsdamned schems? If the answer is Areion, throw them the frak out. I've got a map of Aera Pona's subway system that'd be more helpful. Barker, are you shitting me?" Her knobby finger stabs at a portion of the blueprint labeled 'LZ' — right above Areion's hangar deck. "Great for exfil. Too bad it'll be a killing field during infil. That's our worst case."

From the Deck to the Map Room to the Ready Room to CIC, these are the places that Trask has been dashing to and fro since he was forced to abort CAP and abandon poor Burke a little more than thirty (30) minutes ago. Still dressed in his flightsuit, his Picon Five-seveN also remains on his person as befits an officer on-duty. Even before the announced execution, he had been discussing with the Marine S-Three how assaulting the Areion was the way to go.

The conversation was curtailed, however, by the flashing signal lights that effectively summoned him and Vandenberg to CIC. "You rang?"

The only difference between the Ready Room and the CIC in terms of Vandenberg is that the helmet has been slung under her arm by her rifle. The scarring across her face and head is much more visible now. She's on her radio when she comes in, "Position report: S-Three, CIC. Tell Constin I'll be ten mikes late. Out." She heads right for Nikephoros and snaps a salute. "Marines are standing by, sir." Its obvious the S-Three has deferred Command Authority automatically to Cora.

"Probably wouldn't hurt, Specialist," Cora shrugs to Bannik, "But we can't get him over here, we can't launch transports right now. And I can't keep a line open on our tac convos and risk Areion listening in." She turns back then to Stryer and the other Intel and Tactical officers around the table, checking out their notes and shifting a couple pieces on the board. She looks up as Vandenberg and Trask arrive. "You're the reps sent by Air Wing and CMC? Good. We've been working on alternative plans, assault plans, obviously. That table over there," she points at another little knot of personnel, "Are mocking up plans to Kepner's specifications so we can show him we're working on it. Time to hear what you guys have worked up, see if we can make anything fit together here. Air Wing," she gestures at Trask, "You first."

Even if he hadn't effectively been invited to take a look, Bootstrap still would've moseyed on over to the board containing would-be battle plans. "Still waiting to hear back from Broadside, but Poppy and I are in agreement that we need to take the fight to them. We'd foregone that we have to view all hostages as already dead, and Kepner just proved us correct. That leaves our compromised nukes as our primary problem, which is why we wanna position Cerberus well within blast radius. Areion decides to detonate, they go down, too. We figure Kepner will kill someone else in order to get us to back off, but that's when we aim to launch a triple-prong: the first, to take out the Gun; the second, to deal with the Evocati; and the third, to get a boarding party in position to stomp some spooks. The CMC conducted some training exercises on the Areion, so we're running what they recall against what schematics we have of the freighter model, keeping in mind that it was heavily modified when refurbished."

Vandenberg drops her salute quickly and glances to the other 'team' and then back to Cora. Excellent. Boarding. The Marine's lips quirk a touch up but the expression stops there as if hiting a brick wall. "First thing, sir? This needs to be a legitimate seizure operation. We need orders, from you, to arrest and detain Commander Kepner and his Command Staff on legal authority. It sounds trivial but when we roll aboard, if we want to garner any support from that crew, we will need legal backing. Otherwise we are just doing to him what started this whole mess and its angry kids on a playground." Despite the analogy, the woman is deadly serious. "The Marines agree with the Air Wing completely, but our priority is still rescuing any hostages that may still be alive. Depending on the priorities given to the Marines by Command," she tilts her head to denote that being Cora, "-we will take objectives as necessary. Currently, my priorities are first the hostages, then second, terminating Kepner's command. For this, we'll need to be inserted as close to the brig as possible. Our limited into has a general location thanks to a map drawn by a former prisoner of their's, Crewman Lagana." The Marine's words are clipped, her accent barely hanging on through her explanation. Time is important.

"Didn't the Marines get crushed during the training exercise aboard Areion?" asks Bannik, looking up from his console. It's perhaps not quite the thing to say to people about to plan an assault on Areion, but it's something he recalls.

Pallas glances over to the board from across the room, purses his lips, and crosses his arms. His eyes move from Trask to Vandenberg as they speak, quietly assessing their opinions. "If Kepner's going to execute the hostages as soon as we're perceived as making a threatening or noncooperative move, how the frak are we planning on getting from here to there in time to rescue them?" he asks. "And if," he continues, turning to Trask, "we're disregarding the hostages in the equation, why bother attacking? Leave them behind, we jump away with the rest of the Fleet."

Trask might feel Stryer's lean, menacing presence behind him as he talks. The woman's eyes narrow as he speaks, and halfway through she pushes away to grab a sheaf of papers from Ensign Marcus. Double-checking some figures, from the looks of it — and from the way her face wrinkles, it's reasonably clear she doesn't like what she sees. Nor does she like what she hears from Pallas. "Because the moment he sees our engines warming up, Kepner's going to light up all those warheads faster than I can say boom. And yeah, Crewman — Specialist — whatever — they did." Stryer coughs delicately. "If our jarheads crumple, then frak this all — I'm stealing a Raptor to check out those fishing spots Pewter won't stop yammering about. Anyway, what the Marines and Wing do on their time I don't care, but prong one is DOA. They've plastered on a bunch of new armor onto that thing, and though it's nowhere close to battlestar thick, it's probably thick enough to deflect the little bits of us that slam into it. And that's problem two: we're in a battlestar. Kepner's not an idiot, ladies. He knows he doesn't need to blow all our nukes to kill us. Just one'll do, really — and if one nuke isn't enough to smash through us from the outside, it won't do terribly much from the inside, either. Our armor'll take most of the brunt of it. There won't be little bits."

Cora listens to Trask's plan, flipping through a few pages of something as she does, though her gaze keeps flicking back up to the ECO to demonstrate that he has her attention. One assumes, anyway. She gestures for Vandenberg to go next, and listens to her as well before finally looking up for real as Pallas approaches. She tilts her head, seemed slightly bemused by his presence but nods and gestures finally to Stryer, who has clearly been chomping at the bit to speak up. "As the lieutenant says," she agrees, "We're not currently in the blast zone, and if we try to move into it, we're dead immediately. We know the location of the brig - I was a prisoner there as well and between my recollection and Lagana's I'm sure we can pinpoint it - but the armor on the Areion is too thick to cut through, not anywhere near fast enough. If we enter, it'll have to be somewhere with an entrance. Right now, though, our priority has to be figuring out how to regain control of the nuclear weapons. Without that, we're paralyzed. We approach, we're nuked; we launch planes, we're nuked; we try to jump; we're nuked. And if we're going to get blown to shit, I'd just as soon do it over a Cylon installation, which obviously is his plan here. So we have thirty— twenty five minutes. We need a new plan."

"We've got to get the nukes out of their control," says Bannik, staring down at his screen. Maybe he's finally doing something other than remarking on the Marines' failings. "If we can get the nukes back in our control, we're not Kepner's hostages along with the department heads. And — I just need to make that happen, I guess."

Vandenberg turrets her head like the 16" guns of a battleship coming around angrily on their target and she fixes Bannik with one helluva Look. Then Stryer. "We ain't frakkin around with pea-shooters this time. Nor am I fighting on the side of the Areion, Lieutenant. Specialist. We have a numbers advantage, firepower advantage, and the motivation. We know we're dead if we don't do this. They still think they might come out alive. 'Ahab' Kepner might be looking for a glorious death but I'll be frakked if I buy for one second that everyone on that ship wants to quit life." She stops short of becoming venemous. Barely. Lords know the unholy hell the Marines are about to unleash aboard that ship, though. Her head turns back to Cora. "I have Gunnery Sergeant Constin laying out weapons. Initial plans are to roll in strong with heavy weapons leading the sweep. Karlstovs and Zastas." Recoilless rifles and medium machineguns. "Stuff we captured from heavy weapons depots and ships around Virgon. Same way we took down the foundries and we had zero intel on those places and Centurions are harder kills." But Vandenberg listens along after that. She glances to Bannik and then to Cora. "I'm a demolitions tech, Cap. I've only ever looked over schematics for nukes, but disabling them is pretty damned easy if you don't mind ruining the warhead until it can be repaired… If it can be repaired. If they don't detonate in an exact sequence, its just like G-four goin' off in a missile tube."

Along with Bannik, of course, are a host of others — a call went out right after Kepner's ultimatum for anyone and everyone on Cerberus with programming and hacking skills to report to CIC and they've all been sat at consoles, working away, since then. There are familiar faces among them, but all hidden behind monitors, frantically trying to find a fault in the Areion nuclear hack.

Faintly, Bootstrap smirks. "This from the man who ran the risk of getting himself killed when he refused to leave his wingman behind." Stryer, however, fields Spiral's question, so that's that. Speaking of that JiG, she's who the SL next addresses, "I'd suggest Hammerfall, but that would absolutely make sure there were no hostages left to rescue, or junta-appointed despots to arrest. And, should one of our nukes detonate, it's likely at least one of /those/ puppies will also blow, and those things, according to the ChEng's programmed scenarios, are capable of taking out a basestar." And here he turns to regard Cora, "BUT, as you've pointed out, it's pretty pointless to get ourselves killed if we can't even take out those frakkers. So, unless we can somehow manually disable all our nukes all at the same time…" Hi, Vandenberg.

"Could work. Better ask the wonks over there." Stryer shrugs — she has absolutely no idea. "Anyway, hate to be Debbie Downer here, but we've got another problem. There's no way we can jump our birds from inside our hangar without tearing the ship to pieces, right?" The lieutenant leans back against the table, accidentally sending a plastic Raptor tumbling to the ground. She grimaces as the sudden crack heralds the likely response to her idle question, but she plows on nonetheless while a crewman shuffles over to clean up the mess. "I mean, we've seen the Cylons do it in open space. The AARs call them 'microjumps,' or whatever the frak that is in pilot speak. I ask because even if we unlock our nukes, which at this point looks about as likely as me getting nailed by Ares' gigantic rod, they've still got us bent over a godsdamned table with our skirts down if they see us scrambling birds. Most of the squids' fancy boomsticks will just get annihilated in space by the horde of Vipers they've got out there before they have time to land. Which means step two has to be figuring out some way to blind them."

"We have no advantage here," Pallas says, directly contradicting Vandenberg. "They've got us by the short-and-frakking-curlies every which way you cut it. My question is, why aren't we following Kepner into Cylon space? If we get those frakking nukes disabled by that time, we wait until they've fired their Gun, hit as hard as we frakking can to extract the hostages. If we fail, we bug out with the rest of the Fleet, leave Areion behind. Here, they're the enemy and we're frakked. There, they've got two enemies to deal with and we've got a better chance."

"We can't disable the nukes, sir." Bannik is talking to Bootstrap, even as he keeps tapping and frowning at his computer screen. "Kepner's got the nuclear status monitors. And not only that, but getting nuke teams up there, we don't even have anything close to the time." He bites his lower lip. "I'm trying to decrypt the hack with the same hex system we used on the transmissions from Gemenon, but it keeps shifting. I can't break it."

"Speaking of which: /how the frak/ did they even get remote access, anyway?" Kal is rather caustic in his asking, but that makes it no less a valid question. "Someone buy some Bee-Ess that Cylons couldn't hack some super special network?" The bull snorts. Going back to what Pallas said, the SL notes, "That's the other alternative. We play along, refuse to not join the link-up at the last second, let Areion blow its load, and bug out. However, in /that/ scenario, we'll still have Cylons to contend with, and definitely will have no chance of retrieving any of our people. And before anyone pipes up about foregoing they're already dead: Yeah. I stand by that. Doesn't mean I'm against clawing into the maw of Hades to pull 'em outta the Underworld, if at all possible. Call me sentimental, or maybe just spiteful. I'll cop to it."

Vandenberg looks to Pallas with a lofted brow. "Wow. Don't recall you making any frontal assaults with us. Or ever even training with us." Marines. "Besides, we follow him into Cylon space, we lose the hostages and this whole business is academic when we could just jump away now. We go now, or we don't go at all. Sorry, though, its not a policy of the Colonial Marine Corps to run from a fight like this." The Marine looks back to Cora, waiting for Bannik to finish. She says nothing in reply, though. That's settled.

"That won't work either," Cora informs Pallas with a shake of her head, "Even if Areion's unable to manuever after firing The Gun, they can still detonate the nuclear missiles. And as the specialist just said," she gestures at Bannik, "We can't access the missiles themselves without, again, say it with me, Kepner detonating." She reaches for a cigarette forgotten in an ashtray and relights it, shaking her head, "As for how they got in, we don't know. But they're using what looks like code that's been heavily modified with Cylon programming. They must've learned it from that 6 they tortured forever, I don't know. But that's where we are. We can argue about whose Marines would win in a boarding assault all you guys want, but it's a moot point because right now we've got absolutely no way to get aboard."

And round and round the debate goes. Lieutenant Stryer's the first one to lose her composure: three minutes before the next deadline, she slams a thick stack of manila envelopes on top of a Viper-on-a-stick. The blocky model shatters as it hits the deck, and with a muttered apology its killer excuses herself to scrounge up some smokes from one of the CIC personnel nearby. It's left to her subordinates to pick up where she left off — and from the tone of the ensuing conversation, even the most optimistic among them realizes that Kepner's plan is as effective as it is horrific. "Frakkin' a," Lieutenant Barker snarls, biting down hard on his own cigarette. "Pissant Rudy's got us by the big blue balls."

And speaking of — right as the chronometer strikes 1550, the phone by Cora's station begins to ring.

"Call for you," says the comms specialist, her expression twisted in something like hate. "Guess who."

"Why did his one single good quality have to be punctuality?" Cora remarks, picking up the phone. "Hello?"

[TAC1] Kepner says, "Captain. It's good to hear your voice. A status update, if you please."

[TAC1] Cora says, "Commander, we've got plans completed for a proposed assault on a foundry in Aerilon space, and we're about 60% finished with a possible action against the shipyards above Picon. We're working as fast as we can, here."

[TAC1] (from Kepner) Kepner sighs heavily. "That's what I thought you'd say. Do know that it gives me no pleasure to do this, and if you would be so kind, do convey my condolences to Commander Marshall aboard the Elpis. His daughter served with honor — until she decided to betray her people. Hopefully you'll learn from her error."

[TAC1] (from Kepner) Like the first broadcast, this next one goes to every wireless unit in the Fleet. "This is Commander Rudolph Kepner," he says again, as if reading from a script. "Sixty minutes have now elapsed, and still your interim commanding officer has informed us that preparations for our operation are not yet complete. The price of treason is death. I have therefore authorized the execution of Major Calliope Olivia Marshall-Nicander, Chief Weapons Officer of the Praetorian, for mutiny, sedition, and colluding with the enemy in times of war. Know that I do not enjoy what I must do, but without sacrifice, humanity is as good as dead. Kepner out."

[TAC1] Cora says, "Commander, do you want me to pull Tactical plans directly out of my ass? We cannot work any faster than we are. You're being completely unreasonable!"

[TAC1] Kepner says, "On the contrary, I'm being as reasonable as I can, under the circumstances. And if you'd spend less time making excuses and more time thinking, 'Captain' — " He says the rank as he would say 'little girl.' "Maybe more bloodshed might be avoided. These deaths are on your hands above all. I'll be in touch."

As Cora sets down her phone in its cradle, the hatch to CIC slides open to reveal Iris Stryer, her cigarette still dangling from her mouth — and a thick arm, not hers, pressed over her neck. She's being carried across the deck with slow, stumbling steps, and her captor shuts the door behind him he lowers her to the ground, beefy fingers clenched around her neck. The sudden reeking stink of alcohol suffuses the air, wafting from the beige fabric so recently dry-cleaned, from that red dart of a tie looped around not one but two chins —

And as ex-QUODEL Special Rapporteur Allan Rejn leans back on the door to prevent it from opening, his fingers tighten on the woman's windpipe to elicit a whimper of abject terror. "Draw your guns and I kill her," he says, sounding remarkably lucid despite the fact that he just took a swig from his half-empty flask. "I'm through with this bullshit. Frakking through. Hear me out, then shoot me, don't shoot me, I don't care. But hear me out." Another swig. "Please."

Bannik's voice catches in his throat. "Hey. Hey. No one needs to hurt anyone here," he manages to croak out. "We just — we have a minute to hear what you say. Right, Captain?" His head swivels towards Cora, his eyes wide behind his glasses.

Cora sets the phone down in its cradle and then shoves the entire portable apparatus off the desk so that it clatters noisily to the floor and offers a quiet dialtone. She drags on her ciagrette and stubs it out and then… and then Rejn is dragging Stryer in as a hostage. "You have got to be frakking kidding me," the captain replies, a hand paused on her sidearm, undrawn. She glares at Rejn, and even at Stryer, and shoots a look at Bannik, but then nods, and gestures, "Fine. Talk fast."

The Marine officer listens impassively to the execution in silence. The exchange isn't more than it is: Information. There's no look of hatred or blame for Cora. Just the look of 'give me an order'. But then someone is being grabbed and Vandenberg wheels. Her first instinct is to grab the grips of her rifle slung across her chest. She steps out away from the group to get a better angle on Rejn. The rifle isn't raised but she's got her hands on it. Vandenberg looks ready to kill.

"So. Frakking. Lame," Trask opines about Kepner. "Seriously. It's like he ripped off his material from some bad spy flick. The scariest part is that I think he might actually be swallowing his own crap. I bet all his goons are eating it up to obesity, too." Because this is how a facetious person reacts to such events. More seriously (or perhaps not when taking into account what he actually says), the smartass SL simply says, "Call out the Two." Before he can expound upon that, there is Allan Rejn. "Oh, for frak's sake. Can this get any more trite?" The man rolls his eyes and vaguely waves his hand. "Fine. Whatever. We go from despot to drunkard. Anyone else wanna use threats of death to get their way?" He does not, however, make any motion to stop the ex-QUODEL Special Rapporteur. No, he just settles in to listen, looking vaguely bored.

"I can save your frakking ship," slurs Allan Rejn, and his bloodshot piggish eyes widen just a bit as Stryer tries to make a move. With surprising strength he slams the woman to the deck — who twitches once before she falls limp in his hands. "I can save your frakking Fleet. Even that wretched Godforsaken freighter you've been dragging around full of — " The man's lips quiver as he gathers up a glob of spit, letting it loose on the deck. "Babies that shit everywhere and cry and — " Time for another swig. "They're going to frakking kill me for this, but for frak's sake I'll walk into my frakking box before I let that shitstain of a madman destroy all you stinking, shrieking, infuriating — " Swig number three. "Beautiful people."

For once, Bootstrap is actually surprised. More to the point, it shows. "You?" Blink-blink. "You drunkass frak. /You're/ the Two?!"

"Rejn, talk faster," Cora orders, clearly losing patience, "I have 28 minutes until someone else dies. Stop drinking and babbling and get to the frakking point."

Bannik raises his eyebrows high at Rejn's diatribe. He looks down at his console, but, well, it's not like there are any solutions to breaking Kepner's hold over the nukes there. "Okay. Uh. What?" His eyes swivel to Trask. He wasn't quite expecting that allegation.

Vandenberg watches as Stryer is slammed to the ground and the GMAR comes right up. She keeps about three meters away and with her left hand cues her radio - completely calm. "Break traffic: Code Blue, CIC. Squads two and four stand by outside both entrances. Nobody enters without my orders." Her left hand comes back to the rifle as she aims right at the man's/Cylon's chest.

Pallas's hand rests lightly over his sidearm during this whole exchange. He doesn't know the woman and therefore doesn't particularly care about her fate. But as soon as Trask accuses Rejn of being a Cylon, his pistol snaps up at the man almost as quickly as Vandenberg's rifle does.

The weapon is ignored. The civilian lets Stryer fall to the ground, tossing his flask at a very surprised petty officer to his left. And when he laughs that familiar, gut-busting laugh, the buttons on his shirt almost popping as he does, he shoots Trask a look of supreme contempt. "No," he says, wiping the last remnants of Colonial Pete's fabled moonshine off his perfectly groomed mustache. And those beady blue eyes fix hard on Cora's face. "Plug me in and I'll give you back your nukes. I'll take away his eyes. And then you can blown that frakking steel can six ways from Sunday, good riddance. Two can't do that."

Allan Rejn smiles.

"But One can."

"Sir?" Tyr Bannik is the next one to speak after that particular bombshell hits. "My plan right now is to try to get teams up in the nukes and hope we can disable them before Kepner can blow them, so." So perhaps this isn't quite as crazy as it seems, though it seems rather crazy. He takes a step away from his console. "You can access from here. I've been working on it the best I could." He's talking to Rejn now.

Cora draws her weapon as soon as Rejn drops Stryer, and then makes a gesture for one of the other petty officers to get the fallen lieutenant up off the floor. Her own gaze never leaves Rejn, and as he explains, it's clear she just barely refrains from rolling her eyes. "Seriously, this has got to be a frakking joke." She shoots Bannik a glare, all the weapons trained on Rejn hopefully preventing him from moving just yet. "And why should we trust you with access to our systems? Why not just blow us up and save your kind the trouble?"

For a moment: silence. And then Rejn's laughter is rejoined. "Classic. Nice to know that if this drunkass frak /really is/ as he claims, he's still a drunkass frak. So glad to see you've truly embraced the wide variety of all the ways people suck, Rejn." The contempt appears to be contagious. "The circle of life is complete, or some shit." Sardonically, Trask tacks on to Cora, "'cuz we're his booze supply, obviously."

The Marine, eyes narrowed on her target, flicks the safety off and right to three round burst. Its instinctive. The woman looks like a hunched statue, her form leaned forward as if waiting to receive the kick from burst fire. There's no more words. No more suggestions. Vandenberg just stares right at Rejn's face as if committing it to a long memory. She won't fire without an order or violence, but nor will her rifle take leave from being aimed at him. One doesn't miss from this distance, either.

"Look, unless someone has a better plan on how to release the nukes, this is our plan." Bannik points over at Rejn, raising his voice to Cora for the first time. The potential end of the world must have gotten some courage into him. "I'm the computer mind up here, okay? And this is what I'm saying we need to do. So you can have the Marines point rifles at me and call me a traitor, too, but — we need to do this. It can be worse than what we've got right now, that's for sure."

"Hey, if you can get a live feed of Rudy's face when he realizes what's happening," if any of this is actually legit, "I'd be willing to risk death by drunkard," Bootstrap snickers.

"No," Pallas says, narrowing his eyes. "You let him touch our frakking shit, then you really are colluding with the frakking enemy. We do this our way, even if it gets us all frakking killed. You let him do this, and Kepner's got a real good frakking claim for calling treason. We don't cooperate with the enemy. We kill the enemy. That's Kepner, and that's him." Although his eyes stay on Rejn the whole time, it's clearly Cora he's addressing.

"Everyone who isn't him," Cora points at Rejn with her weapon, "Shut up!"

"What she said, you small-minded sack of blood and shit." Rejn's eyes remain locked on Cora's face, though his first words are for Pallas. "You want my short answer, Princess?" He belches, and from his thick lips there issues an invisible cloud smelling of alcohol, vomit, and last night's frozen pizza. "Use your frakking brain. If I'd really wanted to kill you, I could've done it any point before the shit hit the fan. I could've even kept my frakking mouth shut just now and gone right on getting lapdances from that big-titted scamp down in Supply. But here I am." His heavy footfalls taking him closer to Bannik's station; his legs stepping over Iris Stryer's limp body. "You don't even have to give me a medal. Or you could just shoot me." And for one infinitesimal moment the man — man? — looks every bit his age, a pained and weary expression crossing his face. "Either way, I get to go home."

Cora glares consistent at Rejn except for the second when he manages to smell his breath and it looks more like she is very briefly struggling not to vomit. There is a pause, during which she follows his movements with her gun, and then seems to make a decision, "Plug him in," she orders, before pointing up at Bannik and the other computer heads back there, "I want you all monitoring what he's doing constantly, and I want Marine guards with weapons on him at all times. Go."

"And someone escort Lieutenant Ellinon out before he tries to shoot me," Cora adds, "The rest of you, back to the table. We need an assault plan."

Oh, dark humor of the universe. How you assail the ambivalence that comprises Kal Trask. There are no protests to Cora's decision, though. All he asks is, "So, /can/ you get a live feed of Rudy being all butt-hurt?"

And out come the wires, torn up from the deck by nervous techs now shredding Bannik's console on the specialist's orders. Meanwhile, Rejn's stripping out of his shirt and tie, tossing them on top of Stryer's body before his blazer joins them. "Knife," he orders. As soon as one's produced he begins to cut, slicing apart his own flesh to reveal bloody veins and bones — at his wrists, on his chest, across his belly. It takes but five seconds to make sure everything's in place — and then his eyes slam permanently open as the ship's computers start to sing.

The time is 1553.

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