PHD #029: EVENT - Sic Semper Tyrannis
Sic Semper Tyrannis
Summary: Tillman leads an aggressive recon towards Hydroponics on the station.
Date: 27 Mar 2041
Related Logs: Lots of things OTHER PEOPLE HAVEN'T POSTED YET. Ahem.
Haeleah Astrid Kulko Tillman NPC Tucana 

Some time later, the Battlestar Cerberus has sent over a fresh recon detail to delve deeper into the secrets of Parnassus Anchorage, complete with a squad of armed(and uninjured) Marines for security. Ensign Kulko will reprise his role on the ground. Clive Tillman, the XO, has been dispatched due to the anomalies surrounding the situation. There is a medic, and two engineers - Lt. JG Parres and Petty Officer Second Class Ter Avest, rounding out the group. As they disembark on the hangar deck with the Raptor, they see the place abuzz with activity. The grafted-on seal stands secure and there has been no report of activity from within the place.

Various crewmembers are picking through the wreckage. For now, the answers this group seeks lie within.

Kulko has a rifle slung over his back, after his lesson in ballistics - .45 caliber rounds aren't the best against Cylons, armor piercing or no. He's quiet as they fly over from Cerberus, but as they disembark, he pipes up with a recap for Tillman. "We never even made it into CIC, boss. Skipped the hydroponics decks - though we oughtta cart the equipment back to Cerb and set it up somewhere. Then there's the classified research decks up top. Gods only know what they've got brewing there."

Tillman has decided to arm himself for this venture, opting for a Marine uniform and bodyarmor (most likely at the insistence of the Marines) as well as a rifle that's slung across the front of his chest. The man looks like he's used to it but its been awhile. He looks towards the group, then, after Kulko speaks up. "Alright. Let's saddle up and head out. We're heading to CIC. Marines will take the lead. Let's move out when you're all ready." He looks to each member of the party in turn as if to say 'That should be now.'.

Haeleah sticks near the back of the group, walking in step with Astrid. She's wearing her sidearm at her hip but it's her engineering kit that she handles with more care. And clearly assumes she'll get more use out of it. "I'm looking forward to seeing what's intact in CIC, sir," she says. Mostly to Tillman, though the comment is for all and sundry. "Maybe we can get some info for you all out of the black box. If not, any CIC area is an electronics and general equipment cubit-mine. As it were." She's ready to roll. A look to Astrid to make sure that's true of the tech as well.

[TAC2] "Crash" Michael makes contact. "Ground team, this is Cerberus-Actual. We are standing by to receive transmission, and Raptor is on the ground." There's a lingering silence as the transmission holds, and he continues. "I'm not going to nag you, Major. Be careful out there. Godspeed."

[Into the Wireless] Tillman says, "Copy, Actual. Sierra-Tango is moving out in one mike. Will report in as briefed."

Astrid, for her part, doesn't have any fancy armor or big guns — just her ubiquitous engineering worksuit with a pistol strapped to her waist, and that much only as a concession to the Marines. Her sunken eyes and wan expression indicate she's been having a rough go of it ever since the Sarkis incident, but she's still, somehow, fit for duty. There's no words from the young woman as she walks alongside her superior; Haeleah's unspoken question is answered with a nod.

"Aye, sir," Kulko affirms, checking the safety on his weapon and following along as the Marines take point. "Clear eyes."

The Sergeant present makes a few hand signals at his team as they fan out in a point formation, to enter the airlock. The eerily calm Lance Corporal Harlan Brenner taps his helmet and takes point silently and dutifully. "This way, sirs." He has his rifle unslung and leads them on inside. To which they find —

Well, this will look familiar to Ensign Kulko, first and foremost. The passage through the airlock into the entryway contains that same generic set of gunmetal grey walls typical of a Colonial installation, with the same clipped angles. He pauses as he eyes the bloodstains and the pair of wrecked centurions several meters once they're inside the hangar level access hallway. A few glances of his head towards the other anomalies on the walls, the strange resin-like substance begins to be spread unevenly along the walls. "Report tells me we're going to CIC, sir." The Sergeant behind queries Tillman, directly. "We going straight there?"

A word about the resin - it is a hardened, adhesive-like substance of a reddish-brown hue. It is semi-opaque and hard to the touch, if one is crazy enough to touch it.

Tillman follows along, hands resting on the rifle. The man seems to stand a little taller in the whole outfit - but it could just be the boots. His eyes roam over the walls and the bloodstains on the floor, though he nearly pauses at one of the Centurians. He mutters something under his breath and continues along until the Sergeant asks. "Straight there, Sergeant. Plans may change along the way, though." He glances to Haeleah then. "You have a Geiger counter with you for the radiation?" he asks, looking away to the resin. Weird.

"Rad counter out, Petty Officer," Haeleah orders Astrid as they set off. A nod to Tillman as she gets said-counter of her own in hand. "We got them, sir. Scanning now." The soft blipping sound from the counters is largely lost with the footsteps of the others in the party, but Haeleah pays attention to it. "We're fine for now, Major. We're getting slight levels of radiation, but we'd need weeks or months of exposure to get to the point where we even needed anti-rad meds at these levels." She follows with the party.

"That's the same crap we had to cut through to get in," Kulko informs helpfully, motioning to the walls. "Deck brought a sample back for analysis, but that's the last I've heard of it. The rads get worse as you get closer to the secured decks, but never got too bad. Least, not past CIC."

Astrid's face blanching an even paler shade is her only reaction to the bloodstains on the floor — though her reaction to the trashed Cylon is a little different. No fear, just a sudden spike of anger followed by a cool curiosity. Like Tillman's, her eyes are drawn to the resin-y stuff a moment later. No, she's not crazy enough to touch it, though she does step in for a closer look. Her hand finds her own radiation counter just as Haeleah is giving the order; no newbie, Astrid. The thing begins chattering as soon as it's activated, and the PO's readings match Haeleah's own. It isn't until she moves to catch up with the engineering lieutenant that she notices something else. There's a frown, and she speaks for the first time. "Uh, Lieutenant?" Her brows are furrowed in consternation. "This is weird." A pause, before she realizes she should probably explain a little further. "Noticing some fluctuations in the radiation level. Like, I'm getting different readings here — " she takes a long stride — "than I am from here — " another step — "than I am from here." She shrugs, obviously at a loss as she looks from Haeleah to the XO.

Still, you all see no signs of human life or remains, but in at least three separate areas there is blood on the walls and on the floor indicating /something/ happened here. Speaking of walls, there are pieces of a hardened red-brown resin-like substance at this three-meter point. Also, are a pair of fallen Cylon Centurions, shot up. From the way they were positioned, it looks like they were facing each other. Another ten meters in, there is a shot-up elevator door which has been blown to Hell and back,along with parts of the shaft. You ain't getting up this way. At the elevator, the path forks diagonally left and right.

Also, pressure and o2 checks will are still reading as positive. Radiation levels are that same weird, fluctuating, anomalous levels. Low, and probably not all that immediately harmful. Take your rad meds just in case when you get back, kiddies. The lights flicker here and there but power is still functional.

As the team makes their way further inside, they eventually go to that familiar fork. "Reports say this way led to CIC decks last time." The Sgt states. Veering right, the Marines on point end up at the emergency stairwell, a large, unremarkable angled hatch with a door that was forced open. "Aw, I didn't bring my gym shoes." Pvt. Fensler says, softly. L.C. Brenner, the point-man, finally breaks his silence. "Thank your god for the reprieve of a boring old stair-climb." In a tone of admonishment. "Er, sorry sir." He adds, half to Sarge, half to the others in command.

Inside, the stairwell is clear. There are still signs of gunfire, conflict, the occasional bloodstain but no people. Inside is a helpful color-coded map of various decks. It has various entries in turn, with the station's CIC dead center. Most of the decks up top are labelled "Restricted - Research.

Below them are offduty and residential. Then CIC. Then Hydroponics. And then Engineering. And then Medical. The bottom is where you are - Hangar. Ready for a climb?

Kulko steals a glance over Astrid's shoulder as she announces her findings. "That's new," he points out simply, before falling in for the climb. His eyes are perpetually glued to the next landing - then the next - then the next. "Did we have anyone haul the dead toasters outta here?"

The XO stops and looks back to Astrid. Then to Haeleah. Then to the resin. "Think this shit on the walls might be what's pegging or even screwing with the readings? Like emitting it or absorbing it somehow? I'd hate to think all this crap is radioactive, though." His blue eyes look over the walls and back to the ground as he adjusts the sling of his rifle before moving off towards the stairwell. He stops at the directory. "Nothing like an evening hike to get the blood pumping, right?" With a loong breath he nods to the Sergeant. "Alright. First stop, Combat Information Center." He then lifts a gloved hand to his throat mic.

[Into the Wireless] Tillman says, "Actual, Sierra Tango. We're proceeding up the central access stairwell towards CIC now. Will report in when we get there. Could be a few minutes. Sierra Tango, out."

Haeleah pauses at Astrid's words, frowning thoughtfully. First at the petty officer, then down at her own counter. "That is strange. Keep an eye on it, PO. No point in lingering, but see if you can spot a pattern to where the levels spike. The XO might be right. See if you can get a better idea of what that gunk is, and if the readings are spiking near it." She keeps up with the team, pausing briefly to get a look at the map of the various decks. A look to Kulko. "You said the rad levels got higher near CIC? Huh. Simplest explanation for radiation like this is a leak in the reactor, but the readings'd be stronger closer to Engineering if that were the case, and dissipate a bit as you got farther away. But the Engineering Decks are several levels lower than CIC." A shake of her head to the question about the dead toasters. None she's heard about, at least. She continues to climb. "I wouldn't mind having another to study. Mostly, though, I think the Deckies will be drooling to get their hands on Cylon aircraft."

[TAC2] "Crash" Michael sounds like he's taking this damn seriously. "Sierra Tango, Cerberus-Actual. Copy. Actual out."

"Frak if I know," Astrid mutters in response to Tillman's question. "Uh. Sir," she adds hastily, suddenly noticing she didn't quite mutter that softly enough. She looks quickly over to Haeleah. "Yeah, Lieutenant," the PO responds, stepping in the direction of some of the unknown gunk with a frown. Suspicious eyes sweep over the brown stuff, then the clicking, chattering rad counter.

"Well, there's six of em waitin' for ya." Kulko grumbles as he dutifully hoods it upstairs. "Full of frakkin' holes, but all in one piece." He's still looking up, rather than at where his feet should be going. They always return to the scene of the crime.

Onward and upward. Excelsior, in the words of the ancients. As the team slowly ambles up the metallic-walled stairwell, it's quite a haul just to get from deck to deck on foot. The rest of the ground team performs in grudging silence, weapons at the ready and appear tense, edgy, but all one can see is the occasional sign of conflict. Bulletholes, bloodstains, signs of conflict but no corpses, metal or flesh. It's like something terrible here happened and plucked half of the evidence out of the ether. Past Medical, Engineering, past stair after stair, the group makes it to the landing of the CIC deck and can see the wreckage of the previous engagement the team fought here, just like the reports read. More blood, some broken Cylon centurions, and a forced door. The team makes its way inside, the marines on point ducking in the A-Frame hatch's ruined form. So far, there is nothing but silence as they enter the hallways leading to CIC.

These particular hallways are TRASHED. There's no other way to describe it. Utterly trashed. This place took heavy fire, and heavy foot traffic. There are scorch marks, the remnants of a detonated grenade. And here there are some more dead Cylons. But no humans. Anywhere. Presuming they head along, CIC's ruined door just lies ahead.

Tillman glances to the Snipes as they move up. "If you want another one, you're going to have to get a team up here on your own time. This mission is purely recon and recovery of information, Lieutenant. Sorry." He clicks his teeth and looks back up the stairwell as they move. One hand on the rifle, one hanging near the railing. Its tough work trying to keep up with these young assholes, though. Upon entering the hallway, Tillman keeps to the side and holds up next to a frame section ot use for cover. Eyes survey the hallway and the destruction. "Godsdamn.." he whispers. "One helluva firefight. Everyone else hold back. Marines?" He looks to the Sergeant and extends a hand, palm flattened vertically. He chops it softly a few times towards the CIC door. Open and Clear.

Kulko falls behind as they pass the Centurions. Rather, he slows to a stop, staring at the remnants of the battle. "Sir…" he calls to Tillman. "Boss… this ain't right. There was a body back in that corridor, missing his dogtags… now he's gone. And we lost three Marines in the fight… they're all gone."

Haeleah trucks along, through the ruined corridor, dark eyes flicking over the walls with a growing sense of unease. "It's almost like they cleaned up after themselves…" she mutters. The idea seems to unnerve her, for some reason. Like she'd prefer to see carnage. "Got you, sir. Once this place is cleared, I suspect most on board are going to want a piece of something," she says to Tillman. She tenses at Kulko's words, coming to a dead stop. Another swift look around her. She doesn't ask what might've taken them. Judging from her expression, she doesn't terribly want to voice the idea. "Watch yourself, PO, and follow the Marine's lead," she says simply to Astrid. Hanging back at Tillman's order.

Astrid takes a few experimental steps towards the resin on the wall, tracing a pattern on the deck as she tests the XO's theory. No dice; whatever is causing the fluctuations in the rad levels, it isn't the brown gunk. She falls into step once more with Haeleah. "Yeah, LT," is her monotonous response. "Radiation ain't coming from that resin sh— stuff," she reports a heartbeat later, to anyone who's interested. "Your guess is as good as mine, until the lab coats get their hands on a sample." With that she falls silent, at least until the group gets up towards the CIC. A look at the rad counter is followed by a nudge of Haeleah's arm. "Hey, Lieutenant…" she says, her voice guarded. "Rad count just went up a tick. I mean — it's still fluctuating, but the counts are trending a touch higher than they were down there."

The hatch to CIC has been forced, almost ripped off its hinges. It's still attached, but barely. Like some sort of space yeti came in here and did something utterly horrible. Brenner, the dutiful point-man takes the lead, and gives the hatch a jimmy, "That's no way to leave the dead." He comments once, silent. Private, gimme a hand with this." He calls out, even in giving an order, his voice is still smooth and has a zealot's calm. Yanking the thing open it reveals the station's dimly-lit CIC.

Oh, it's a charnel house.In more ways than one.There are the remnants of a firefight everywhere. The lights flicker and are completely out in some areas, making it initially difficult to tell what this place /is/ for the uninitiated. Larger and more square than a Battlestar's CIC, the top level is completely trashed. There's blood everywhere. A couple /parts/ of bodies, what looks like a shot-off, bloody leg. The remnants of brains on the wall. And that resin, that creepy resin is heavily concentrated from wall to wall. But that's not all.

There are approximately four Cylons down, shot to pieces with extreme prejudice. Most of the consoles in the room are wrecked. A few have been shot to pieces but the most important ones, including what those in the know would be aware of as the station's mainframe are gone. Not just destroyed. Gone. Utterly removed. There are a couple still on-line but look badly damaged.

In the center of the room, where the station's Commander would normally be seen, is a figure. An upright human figure in what looks to be duty greens. Male. Haggard, but it's hard to tell as he has his back to everyone. He doesn't react to the presence of other humans, and just stands there, stock still, staring at the wall. A further glance in the room's flickered, compromised illumination indicates something else. Some dead humans surrounding, on the floor, neatly laid out with their eyes closed and their arms folded upon their chests in a funereal pose. The dead include the two Marines and the Petty Officer from the Cerberus who fell on the last attempt to make it this far.

Tillman looks to Kulko with his concern. Eyes lift to look around the hallways once more while a hand lifts to the charging handle on his rifle. He pulls it back slowly and takes the same care with it going forward, the sound barely even echoing. "Frak." Not going to comment on leaving the dead at this point, apparently. Not hearing gunfire, though, Tillman rolls off the wall and lifts his rifle to his shoulder as he enters the CIC. It snaps to the figure in the center of the room and he takes a knee behind a console, indicating for the others to do the same with a simple hand gesture. "This is Major Tillman of the Colonial Navy. Identify yourself." Its that stern command voice that the man only manages to use when he's mad or under pressure. Coming in clipped syllables, he almost sounds like a Marine Drill Sergeant.

If she were a Marine, Astrid would probably react by instinctively whipping out her pistol and fixing the back of the man's head with a steely glare, or something. Instead, she just stops in her tracks as she follows the group into CIC, eyes widening at the sight of the unfamiliar man. The petty officer hesitates for a long moment, but luckily she's not the one that has to take charge. Tillman does that, and Astrid manages to relax a bit when he does. She almost smiles at the irony there, being reassured by what for all the world sounds like her instructor's voice from boot. What times we live in.

Kulko follows along after Tillman, shouldering and taking the rifle off safety as they enter the CIC. He takes a position off to Tillman's right, but his eyes drift from the ironsights of his weapon to Private Trista's days-old body on the floor. A shiver courses through him beneath his armor. "Son of a bitch…"

"Frak." It's said softly. Under Haeleah's breath as she gets a look at the remnants of CIC. She looks hard, paling at the bits of bodies that are left. She forces herself not to look at them. To look at the equipment. Which isn't too pretty either. It's not until her eyes have swept over the frakked consoles that she spots the figure in duty green. She stifles a gasp. Just staring. A mixture of horror and bewilderment on her face. "Steady, PO," she manages to Astrid, holding herself still until she gets word from Tillman or the Marines. She listens with that same look of utter bewilderment.

"I'm good, sir." Astrid whispers back to Haeleah; the ashen look on her face betrays a possible overstatement there, but she doesn't look like she's about to snap and run for the hills, at least. Steady as she goes, Ter Avest. It isn't until a few moments later she realizes she's gripping her rad counter and her engineering kit with a whiteknuckled, vise-like grip. The enlisted woman tries to steady her ragged, anxious breathing, but she enjoys only mixed success as her eyes keep falling on the bodies and the blood. So. Much. Frakking. Blood.

First, nothing. All is silent, save the hum of static and the station's systems, the air vents pumping in air through the stale smell of human remains left out a little too long. Tillman's command to attention earns a slight shift in the figure's shoulders, but nothing more.

"Sir." The Sergeant calls out in a clear voice. "Sir." L.C. Brenner echoes, his voice raising a little.

Finally, it's Kulko's response that finally triggers his reaction. Turning about, the Greens-clad figure is revealed to be a dark-haired, bloodstained, filthy man with matted hair and dirt upon his face. He looks weak, and has a dull stare. The tag on his tattered uniform and the pins on his collar tell a story, revealing him to be a 'Lieutenant Lalonde.' His blood-caked forehead narrows, as his eyebrows droop and he leans forward a bit. He squints. "Is it - - Is it really you? You've come." He gestures downwards towards the body of L.C. Stenson, and Trista, and Arbenz, the fallen man found on the station. Some others, recognizable and not. P.O. Lurtz.

"She was just lying there. They all were." He starts saying in a halting, faltering voice. "Brought down by the Spear of Ares bravely all of them, but just left there alone. I brought them up here so they wouldn't be lonely. That's no way to enter Elysium. But you've come. The Lords of Kobol brought you here with coins for the Ferryman and my work is done. The others, they wouldn't let me go. The demons will kill them all. But I got past them, you see? I am here. And now, I can…" His hand reaches for the pistol at his side, shaking. But there's a smile on his face.

At first, Kulko is indignant. "We couldn't get them out. We had casualties, we had to pull back…" he responds in defense of the initial Cerberus away team, trailing off as it becomes apparent what Lalonde has planned. "Lieutenant, sir, don't be messin' with that sidearm. We're gonna get you back shipside, everythin's gonna be fine. You're safe now." The ensign rises from where he's in cover, slowly.

"Ensign, stand fast in cover." Tillman's voice carries a bit of anger in the quick words but he doesn't take his eyes off the figure in front of them. "Sergeant! Take his kneecap! Now!" Wound him to prevent him from killing himself. The Major doesn't move a muscle from behind the cover of the console.

Haeleah takes a knee, even in the back as she is, and motions for Astrid to do the same. Her sidearm is close at hand, should she need it, but she makes no move to draw it yet. No more profanity from her. A look is exchanged with Kulko. Quizzical. He know this dude? Not that she asks such verbally right at the moment.

Lalonde's shaking hand clips onto the pistol. "No. You're not wh — I finished my task. This is what I get. I've earned my res— I'VE EARNED MY…" He pulls it up and Gods, if Tillman wasn't correct in calling that. The Sergeant fires a single shot from her rifle just as the pistol is brought to bear…on himself. Her gun rings out and clips him a little above just when he jerks forward, hitting him in the thigh and sends him toppling to the ground in a bloody haze. What's a little more blood in this room anyway? He howls in agony as his hands shake and L.C. Brenner takes point and glides forward to wrestle the gun away. Which is pretty easy, in his weakened state.

"It's gonna be all right." He says, as the wounded, wretched man continues howling. "I was promised this. Just…want to rest!" He continues howling as the medic glides forward to haul out his kit, not even being prompted to do so, and starts to wrestle out a shot. Tranquilizer, something to calm him down. That little drama continues.

"Hiding..Hide. Ics. Demons killing them!" There's a series of hysterical shouts going on as they wrestle. "Killing us all. Killing each…"

Those consoles continue to flicker angrily.

Astrid immediately does as bidden. No messing around now. Eyes bug out a little at Tillman's command, but she stays where she is, quiet with her weapon undrawn. Her gaze flicks wildly around the room, from one person to the other, wincing sharply as gunshots ring out. A horrified stare finally settles on the writhing form of Lalonde himself. She looks away as the marine and the medic begin wrestling though, looking at, of all things, one of the flickering screens.

Tillman all-too-clearly remembers what happened the last time a crew was in a CIC. "Sergeant, post men at each exit and watch for incoming." Tillman slowly rises from the cover and looks towards the entrance they just came through, paying the shot man no mind for the moment. Gloved hands tightly grip the rifle, but its lowered from his shoulder as he moves around and away from the entrance and towards the dead Marines. "Lieutenant Parres, see to these consoles on the double." The Major looks over the dead crewmembers and their positioning. It's all pretty unsettling.

Kulko lets his rifle rest on its sling as the threat dissipates, moving slowly towards the bodies of Cerberus' fallen enlisted. The Lieutenant isn't paid any more mind as Kulko takes a knee beside the meticulously posed corpses and murmurs a prayer to the Lords of Kobol. He looks to Tillman at the conclusion. "We didn't have a choice," he insists.

Haeleah clamps her jaw tight to stifle any sort of exclamation on her part. So the team again misses out on more profanity. They'll probably live. Her eyes also flit around to the flickering screens, to what little remains of the equipment. A grimace. Nothing in this CIC is pretty to behold. "Yes, sir. Ter Avest, let's get to work. Safety gloves on. Those things look nasty." She gloves up and approaches the nearest flickering console, getting her engineering kit out and ready for action. Such as techy action is.

Astrid already had her gloves out and on back when people were all with the telling her to get up close and personal to that brown gunk business. "Right," she says crisply, her tone tightly controlled. The PO steps over to another flashing console, a few steps down from Haeleah's. Her engineering kit thumps as she places it unceremoniously next to the screen.

<FS3> Haeleah rolls Repair: Success.
<FS3> Astrid rolls Repair: Success.

More howling, as the medic gets Lalonde under control and sedated as he twitches and starts to mumble more about "Them," killing "them," "Won't survive, I told —" and then poof, he's out like a light as they start to immediately treat his wound. Or attempt to stabilize him.

Brenner steps away and steps over a blown-off hand, just barely, looking down at it, his dark features blanching a little as he says a prayer of some sort like a good Gemenese boy. It doesn't call out any particular god though, or a generic Lords of Kobol. He must be on a casual basis with the Gods.

Meanwhile, the two Engineers will get to what's left of the fried, glitchy consoles which are displaying fragments of flickering data, as the two get to work.

<FS3> Haeleah rolls Programming: Success.
<FS3> Haeleah rolls Programming: Failure.

Tillman's hard eyes flicker to Kulko with his words. "Nobody leaves this CIC without these fallen Marines. I don't care if we need the whole Company up here to carry us out with them." There's a hard edge to his voice to indicate that yes, Kulko, you -will- be speaking to the XO later. He looks over the bodies once more and turns away, lifting a hand to his throat mic. Ignore the blood. Ignore the severed leg. His free hand fishes into a pocket on his vest for a pack of smokes while he talks.

[Into the Wireless] Tillman says, "Actual, Sierra Tango. We're in CIC. Found one survivor - repeat one survivor. Recovered all Kilo India Alpha from previous recon." There's a pause. "Actual, this place is pretty bad. In every way you can imagine, sir."

Haeleah takes a longer look around the nastiness that is CIC now, expression grim. "Looks like somebody yanked anything of real value, sir," she says to Tillman. "The mainframe central computer, including the black box, is gone. Redundant systems still work, though…" Which is, presumably, what she gets to fiddling with on the fritzing console. She tries not to look at the bodies. Her dark skin is a shade paler as it is. "I'm trying to see if I can get it working to get any useful readings out of it. Maybe salvage some data, too…" She fixes her eyes on the machine. The machine is not bleeding or missing limbs. It's easier to look at just now. The interplay over the bodies between Tillman and Kulko is studiously not commented on. Not her place. "There's a frakload of junk in here. These files've been corrupted to hades and back. I think I can salvage some of it. It'll take a minute, though…" Fingers go into some speed typing. Ratta-tat-tat-tat-tat.

[TAC3] "Crash" Michael says, "Sierra Tango, this is Actual…Copy. What's your assessment? Have you swept the rest of the station?"

Astrid's gloved hands tap a few command sequences into the keyboard of her console, but her efforts produce nothing. Staring at the screen with a vexed expression, she hesitates briefly before muttering "Frak this," sotto voce. A look over to Haeleah, and then Astrid steps over to another console, going to one knee as she pulls the paneling off one of the computers. With a feminine grunt or two, she surveys the machine's innards for a moment before reaching in and yanking out several circuit boards and lengths of wire. Returning to her original console, she opens up that one's innards as well as she starts splicing her salvaged circuits and cables into the frazzled machine. Thankfully, the work keeps her attention from the discussion of bodies and such. A few components are pulled from her kit and thrown into the works as well; it takes several minutes of jury-rigging, but then her console is working. After a fashion. Several moments of poking around confirm what Haeleah's said. "A lot of partial logs. Looks like… shipping logs, maybe? Some docking logs? A few others, don't know what the frak they are… shit's ten different kinds of muddled. Almost like someone tried to purge the drives, and did a halfassed job of it." A nod to Haeleah. "See what I can get from this one, LT."

Kulko rises, maintaining eye contact with Tillman for a few long moments. He looks as if he's got a response - but discipline wins out, and he answers simply, "Aye, sir." He makes safe his weapon and returns to his post by the door.

Astrid's gloved hands tap a few command sequences into the keyboard of her console, but her efforts produce nothing. Staring at the screen with a vexed expression, she hesitates briefly before muttering "Frak this," sotto voce. A look over to Haeleah, and then Astrid steps over to another console, going to one knee as she pulls the paneling off one of the computers. With a feminine grunt or two, she surveys the machine's innards for a moment before reaching in and yanking out several circuit boards and lengths of wire. Returning to her original console, she opens up that one's innards as well as she starts splicing her salvaged circuits and cables into the frazzled machine. Thankfully, the work keeps her attention from the discussion of bodies and such. A few components are pulled from her kit and thrown into the works as well; it takes several minutes of jury-rigging, but then her console is working. After a fashion. Several moments of poking around confirm what Haeleah's said. "A lot of partial logs. Looks like… shipping logs, maybe? Some docking logs? A few others, don't know what the frak they are… shit's ten different kinds of muddled. Almost like someone tried to purge the drives, and did a halfassed job of it." A nod to Haeleah. "See what I can get from this one, LT."

<FS3> Astrid rolls Alertness: Success.
<FS3> Haeleah rolls Alertness: Success.

The only other functional machine here is a weakly outputting station system monitor. It's ticking off a listing of the states of various decks. It's fuzzy though, one will need to take a moment to pay attention to it.

Tillman grunts to the reports. "Same shit the teams found back at Virgon." He slips a cigarette into his mouth and repockets the pack. "Keep digging, though. I want all of the data you two can mine out of it." A pause. "Anything that would indicate what they had on this station? Or what might be causing these radiological readings?" The XO fishes a gold zippo out of his pocket and lights the smoke while the reply comes in from Actual. He touches the mic again as he moves around the room, looking at the physical damage.

[Into the Wireless] Tillman says, "Actual. The CIC looks like it sustained heavy small arms fire and they took extremely heavy casualties here. They probably defended to the last man, sir. Systems-wise, its been stripped. Similar to what we saw at Virgon, Admiral, though I suspect more extensive. We have -not- cleared the rest of the station yet but will try to push on once we finish some data recovery here."

Haeleah nods at Astrid's words without actually looking up. She is in full geek mode. Carnage briefly put out of her head as she zens with the computer. "Ter Avest is right, sir." To Tillman, presumably. She still doesn't look up. There's still something we can get out of this. Docking and shipping logs, mainly. Some other logs, too. Can't quite tell what they are. Somebody frakked this computer system up the back-end with a rusty tent spike. *Something's* left, though." That's layman's terms, presumably. Colorful. "The code's really garbled, but there's…some kind of pattern to it. It's going to take some time to analyze it all. There's a lot of garbage to sift through."

[TAC2] (from "Beer" Tucana) This time it's the comms ensign's voic, that comes over steadily. "Understood. We'll stand by for assistance and send a team to retrieve the survivor. CIC out." Maybe the admiral had to take a bathroom break.

"We should see if'n we can get access to the top decks," Kulko suggests, shooting a glance down the hallway back to the grisly staircase. "All reads as 'classified' on the directories. Prolly shed some light on why the toasters sealed it up."

Astrid has to suddenly subdue a hysterical giggle at Haeleah's rusty tent spike comment. She doesn't quite succeed, though, allowing a strangled half-cackle to escape her throat. An amused smile is quickly replaced by a pained grimace as she turns back to her own screen. Astrid's head is inclined in agreement with the other woman. "I noticed it too, LT. Hard to spot under all this shit, but definitely a pattern. As for data?" This to Tillman. The enlisted woman shrugs. "'Scuse me, Major, but you won't be getting any solid information out of this melted-to-scrag piece of shit." A boot nudges the bank of computers. "Not with a hell of a lot more work than we just did, anyway, and by that point you'd just be better off sending the frakkin' hard drives for analysis on the Cerb." A blink as, again, the woman remembers just who she's talking to. In her defense, there's not too many Majors or XOs down in the engineering section. "Sir."

At this point, two of the marines and the medic start gently rearranging the wounded, unconscious man in the best possible position. Which isn't saying much. All is otherwise still.

Tillman doesn't bother responding further to the comms traffic. He just looks between the two Engineers. "Alright Lieutenant, get it all copied and let's keep moving. Rip out those godsdamned hard drives if you have to. We're sitting ducks here. They're sending a team to pick up our Marines and the guy the Sergeant put a hole in, too." He walks over to the other flickering screen that gives a status display. "My thoughts exactly, Ensign. Did you and your team get any further or hear anything from the upper decks?" He squints at the flickering display and takes a long drag from the cigarette. "Looks like Hydroponics had a fire. Fantastic. Research decks aren't reporting anything. Looks like the sensors got bushwhacked. Alright," he says, the last word coming louder. "Lieutenant get that data stowed. We are moving out. Marines, form up at the door!" He turns a finger in the air next to his head with the order.

Haeleah smirks at the profanity from Astrid. Hae clearly sets a good example. She looks up and over at Tillman. "We can download what we can salvage from here and work it over back on the Cerberus, sir. It'll take some time to sift the useable data out of this mess, anyway, and a workstation in better shape would help. We'll keep it isolated on one of the computer stations down in Engineering. If it's corrupted, there's no danger of it frakking up more than one of our computers. And this shit looks pretty interesting." A quick "Aye, sir" to Tillman and she gets to work extracting. She knows her way around a mainframe, so she can get 'er done without too much lingering.

"No, sir," Kulko answers, peering at the screen but too far to see anything. "Where you saw the toasters was as far as we got." He hefts the rifle in his right hand and forms up behind the Marines.

"Onward and upward again, then, sir." Brenner says, shaking his head rather violently as he turns towards the door. He looks like he's frakking glad to be anywhere but this room. The rest of the marine detail follows. "On point." And with that, upwards and onwards you go.

Well, to be fair, Astrid was cursing a blue streak long before she met Haeleah. Not as though the junior engineering officer has ever done anything to dampen that tendency, however. As the others are preparing to leave, Astrid lingers just long enough to tap in a few final keystrokes before she bends down, reaches back inside of the computer's guts and swiftly yanks out the hard drive. It's divested of a few hanging wires before placed carefully in her kit. That, and a few other small pieces of miscellaneous electronic stuff she'd much rather examine in the safety of Cerberus' lab. Then, and only then, is she ready to go.

<FS3> Astrid rolls Alertness: Success.
<FS3> Tillman rolls Alertness: Great Success.
<FS3> Kulko rolls Alertness: Success.

Onward and upward indeed. Anyone detecting a trend, here? The trip up the stairs is mostly uneventful, with signs of struggle, blood and pain. Maybe Mr. Lalonde had a bunch of his stashes, though, because, frankly, There are still just no bodies to speak of. It's utterly eerie. Even more eerie - This station had well over a thousand people on it. Maybe even more. There's no way to tell and the dead have so far only been discovered in a handful. Still, it's far from explored. At least someone in the landing party will begin to notice something as they get back the utterly thrashed crew decks. There are more shot-off body parts wedging open the hatch to the recreational area, as a shredded, untouched and nearly unrecognizable corpse sticks out of the stairwell. It looks clawed to /death/. One of the privates begins to lose his lunch, it would seem, as he just stops a moment and stares at the viciously mutilated man.

Just above in Hydroponics, a series of loud 'thumps' is heard. Maybe not exactly the same as rhythmic, loud, heavy footsteps. But something is bearing a whole lot of weight just adacent to the Hydroponics hatch.

<FS3> Haeleah rolls Alertness: Success.

As they pass the crew decks, Tillman looks to the bodyparts wedging open a door and makes a mental note: Don't Play Pyramid. Seeing the corpse, though, Tillman sighs. He reaches down to check for dogtags when the loud thunking is heard. The Major freezes in place. "Ensign Kulko. That sound like Cylon booties to you, son?" The XO has his eyes welded to the stairs above, free hand on the pistol grip of the rifle.

"Could right well be, boss," Kulko affirms, looking towards the source of the noises. "Recommend if we're gonna move past, we barricade that hatch so's we don't get our escape route cut off if things go south." He takes a couple steps closer to the hatch. "That body have any tags on it? The one we found had em stripped - mighta been the Ell-Tee."

Why yes. No tags.

Haeleah moves along with the party, keeping near the back. Though not smack in the rear. That, of course, still needs to be covered by professional Marines. She swallows hard as she passes the body parts, but manages not to vomit. Well, not right just now, at least. . The sound of rhythmic, heavy footsteps makes her stop dead in her tracks. "Sounds like a good plan to me, Ensign," she says, as to Kulko's suggestion to barricade the hatch.

The incident in Sarkis' quarters had one positive effect, at least, in that it gave Astrid's stomach a layer of steel, albeit a thin one. Unlike the young marine, Astrid's last meal is kept fully under control in her stomach, where it belongs. Her expression shifts from apprehensive to kinda frakkin' terrified at the sound of stomping and the subsequent conversation between Kulko and the XO. Cylons? She's a snipe, for frak's sake, she didn't sign up for the chance to see an angry Centurion up close and personal. The woman is made of fairly stern stuff, though, remaining at Haeleah's side despite any lingering fears.

Whump. Whump. Thump-ump. The sounds get louder as the group ascends. The marines on point waste no time in raising their rifles as they scale the stairs, and suddenly there's the sound of something impacting, loudly. And then a few rounds of gunfire. They're coming from, as the team further ascends, the area behind the Hydroponics hatch.

Which, by the way, has been forced open messily.

As they move up the stairs, Tillman's own rifle is up. He keeps behind the Marines, but ready no-less. Though he suddenly slows and looks up. "Godsdamn, I can hear people up there!" Then, then there's the gunfire. When they reach the hatch, Tillman looks back. "Anyone with a sidearm or rifle, lock and load. Engineers, stay to the rear and keep yourselves from being exposed at all costs - but stay with us. Do not stop for any reason unless we do. Kulko, on my ass." He then looks to the ranking Marine. "Breach, Sergeant. We're right behind you." Rifle up, he flicks the safety off.

Ensign Kulko clicks his rifle from 'safe' to 'burst', and forms up behind Tillman. "On your ass, sir," he deadpans without a hint of irony.

"Understood, sir," Haeleah says to Tillman. Tone a little *too* level, but she manages to keep it steady. She keeps behind the Marines, getting into as much cover as she can, but she does draw her sidearm. "Just keep your head and do what you're told, Ter Avest. We'll get through it." She manages to sound vaguely competent, at least. Vaguely. She's a snipe, not a groundpounder. At least she remembers to take the safety off once her gun's out.

[Into the Wireless] Tillman says, "Actual, Sierra Tango. We're approaching Hydroponics, Deck Ten Bravo. I've heard human voices and the sound of small arms fire. We are investigating, out."

[TAC2] (from "Beer" Tucana) The Admiral's back from his bathroom break. "Sierra Tango, this is Cerberus-Actual. Understood. Good hunting, and we are standing by."

"Frakfrakfrakfrak…" Astrid mutters a long strain of dread-filled profanity, flinching at the sound of gunfire not far away. She finally seems to remember there's a pistol on her waist, and she takes it out, giving Haeleah a jerky nod. "Yeah. Right. You put it that way, it sounds so easy, Lieutenant," she whispers back to the officer in a tone that could be called snide if not for the undercurrent of anxiety. A look to the XO and the marines, and Astrid swallows hard, waiting for someone to tell her what to do. It's a skill she's developed fairly well in 4+ years as an enlisted woman in the Colonial Fleet.

There is more thumping and now the sound of gunfire. Actually, human small arms, to be exact. The sound of something violently crashing into something else as the team hustles into the blasted Hydroponics deck.

This place has seen better days, allright. Greenhouses full of neglected, sometimes drowned, or sometimes scorched plants that look a bit unhealthy line the walls, some are upended and wilting on the ground as the glass containing them has been shattered. Oh, the blood. There is blood everywhere. Some human bodies, some cylon. There's more concentrated here than anywhere else.

Water and scorchmarks are everywhere. The telltale signs of fire that was doused remain here and there as the team gets closer and they close in on the central chamber and see four shiny metal asses. Only one of them is shooting though, another other is charging closer at something — no, someone? The other can be seen in the act of throwing a large piece of debris that looks like a door that was ripped off its metal hinges. They're concentrating on engaging whatever it is they're after.

"HOLD! HOLD THE FRAKKING DOOR!" a woman's voice screams as more gunshots ring out, most of them look like they're pinging into the charging Centurion. There's a scream as another Centurion, the one firing, hits something.

Coming up on the corridor and titanium asses hangin around in the central area. Still unseen, Tillman's eyes flicker across the situation and he makes a snap decision. He points to the Engineers to take cover and makes a fist at the Marine Sergeant than pushes towards the Cylons. 'Engage!' The XO takes some decent cover at the corner and switches to Burst fire, opening up as soon as the Marines do.

Kulko takes a knee behind some hydroponics equipment, and echoes the tactics drilled into him by the Marines now resting in sickbay. "Concentrate fire!" he calls above the din, pointing briefly to the closest Cylon before shouldering his rifle and squeezing off a burst.

Haeleah takes cover. She takes the hell out of some cover. Never let is be said she can't follow orders. A look over her shoulder Astrid, to make sure she's doing the same. Her sidearm is fired, but mostly she's just making sure she doesn't hit any of the Marines or Tac folks closer to the point position. Her chances of hitting anything of the killer robot variety is miniscule. But she manages to avoid capping anyone in friendly fire. She's going to consider that a win.

<FS3> Tucana rolls 5: Success.
<FS3> Kulko rolls Firearms: Success.
<FS3> Astrid rolls Firearms: Bad Failure.
<FS3> Tillman rolls Firearms: Failure.
<FS3> Haeleah rolls Firearms: Good Success.

Astrid seems almost gratified by Tillman's wordless order for the lady snipes of Cerberus to take cover, which she promptly does. She doesn't even bother firing her weapon, holding it awkwardly in front of her as she hits the deck, scrambling behind — well. Who cares what it was, it's providing decent enough cover. She reaches her gun arm over the top, squeezing off a shot, but it's kind of hard to hit something without aiming at it, and Astrid certainly doesn't have that sort of talent. With guns, anyway. Indeed, if she were watching, she'd see the bullet ping harmlessly off the nearest wall.

Say what you will about marines, but some of them are consummate professionals. At least, with competent leadership. The squad has managed to nestle behind boxes, a podium, some rubble, a broken door propped upon a dead Cylon, they all manage to do their duty. "Focus fire!" the sergeant yells, popping off shots. Two of the Centurions manage to drop. The others' shots go wide.

<FS3> Tillman rolls Firearms: Failure.

Two down, two to go. Unfortunately, more rounds are squeezed off by Tillman, and more by the Marines, as another drops. Tillman isn't exactly getting kills here, the bullets impacting off the Centurion who's throwing shit's leg. The one charging down the way, though, slowly jerks back. And back. And back. With every impacting shot, it gets thrown, and finally drops.

Up ahead, the boarding party can finally see them. There's a dark-skinned, diminutive woman in a Colonial flight suit with an SMG spraying bullets from an angle. A marine in torn body armor. A couple figures in fatigues, and a dark-haired female in a lab coat slumped down against a pillar as a crimson stain starts seeping out of the white of her clothing as he shrinks away from the fray, clutching at a post. The most ridiculous of them all is a rotund man in his tanks and shorts who runs screaming after the Cylon, firing off round after round with his pistol, catching the last Centurion in a pincer along with the marine squad who does their duty, and the machine drops. These cylons, /none/ of them, ever seemed to bother to dodge. It was a suicide run, and for one of the first times in the short history of this month-long war, they were caught off-guard and utterly slaughtered by human forces. It's the small victories that count, right?

One might note that all of these people, in layman's terms, look like shit. Their clothes are stained and torn to Hell, and hygiene's been more or less forgotten.

Tillman ceases fire as the fat man runs across the room and he blinks under the helmet. He looks to the group across the way, letting the deafening silence hang for a moment. "CLEAR!" he calls in that clipped command again. "We're from the Battlestar Cerberus!" he shouts to the survivors. "Hold. Your. Fire. This is Major Tillman speaking, the ship's Executive Officer. I'm going to walk out with the medic. These Marines will cover the entrance. Sound off if you need medic attention?" Slowly, almost hesitantly, the XO rises from his cover and steps out, motioning the medic to join him. The rifle is in his hands but not on his shoulder. Lead from the front.

"YOU WANT SOME MORE? YOU'RE NOT WORTH IT!!!" The defiant roar of the pudgy man touches on the delerious. The last Centurion falls, amidst bodies. Bodies. So many bodies of the dead. Still, it's not enough to account for the station's population, but there are so many.

Just like that, Tillman's call gets a response. A cogent response, in fact, one that has nothing to do with crazy suicidal fanatics or anything of that sort. In the distance, the small woman calls out. By the way, did anyone know they made flight suits that small? She's approximately 5'3" on a good day. Maybe 5'4", by the observer's estimation.

"Cerberus? Cerberus? You mean??" The lanky marine in back also puts up his gun. "You mean the brass /does/ give a frak. Just in time, too. I'm due out in two months." He mutters aloud, although it might be lost in the distance. "Going down to Canceron to open a home for wayward Gemenese girls."

The small woman snaps. "I'm going to find a home for my wayward Gemenese /boot/ if you don't shut with that shit, Matko. It wasn't funny the first two times." In any case, they start slowly inching forward, gesturing back at the woman who's injured. "We need a doc for the doc. Ours is…Dead."

Haeleah has been in the back, taking cover and contributing unremarkable covering fire to this enterprise. At the sound of voices, human voices, she sticks her neck out a notch.

Tillman stares at the bodies for a moment before pointing the medic towards the wounded doctor. Gods. Damn. The Major's eyes lift back to the pilot. "The Brass?" The XO pulls a fresh magazine out of his armored vest and reloads the rifle. Some things finally come back to you once training takes over. Even if its been a few years. "How many are you and how many are ambulatory? We're getting you all the frak out of here." He glances back to Haeleah and motions her forward. "Lieutenant. Get up here and help these people."

"Brass." The mouthy marine utters and immediately gets cut off by the woman in the flight suit with a sharp wave of her hand. Whatever else, he listens, as she asserts her authority. "I think what the Corporal means is, they sent a /top of the line/ Battlestar that we'd only heard about to get us out of this shithole. Which makes me wonder why the Invictus hadn't gotten through. I don't know if I'll like the answer." The woman strides forward as she and the two other crewmembers in fatigues assist the grunting woman in the lab coat. Her injuries don't look immediately life-threatening, other than a bullet graze in the shoulder, but she's not looking happy.

The marine still remains silent and puts up his weapon as he scans the area. Note - there's nobody else. The pudgy man puts up his gun too and steps forward. "Just her. The rest of us can…make it on our own."

"Lieutenant Junior Grade Hippolyta Greene, of the Battlestar Invictus." The woman in the flight suit finally says. One can make out Raptor qualification patches on her torn, stained flight suit. She looks terrible, filthy. But still ambulatory. "How the /hell/ did you stumble on us?"

Protip - The Invictus was ironically named. It was Admiral Hauck's command, and is now crashing into the planet the station is orbiting.

In pieces.

"Aye, sir," Haeleah says, standing and moving toward the survivors. She's no medic, but she can give them an arm and a hand out if need be. She purses her lips when the pilot asks about the Invictus. She is so not answering that question. The beauties of being low on the totem pole.

Tillman stares at the group, especially the pilot. "You're going to like the answer about as much as you enjoyed your time here on this anchorage," he deadpans. "Got any Engineers here who can explain to my Lieutenant about these radiation levels?" The Major then lifts a finger and touches the throat mic with his other hand.

[Into the Wireless] Tillman says, "Actual. Actual. This is Sierra Tango. We've found six survivors in Hydroponics on deck Ten Bravo. One is wounded. Encountered four walkers and eliminated them without loss to our own. Request medical detail waiting on the Hangar Deck of this station and we will need a graves detail to my location."

"You can talk to them. If you have a priest." The small woman replies, without a speck of humor. "If there's anyone else alive in this station. Lalonde went walkabout and we couldn't stop him but we had fifteen yesterday. These /Cylons/ who infiltrated hit us hard before they started ignoring us for a while. We holed up here, with the help of the good Doctor over there." Hippolyta says, with a faint inclination of her head towards the injured woman in the lab coat who winces in pain as she's helped along the way. "Rads didn't start until the Cylons torched the upper decks." There's a lingering pause as they all limp along. "So what's the bad news? Seriously. We were here for a supply detail when the station suddenly went on alert, and these things showed up and started shooting and people started dying." More silence, as she suddenly shoots Tillman a brown-eyed stare, and her marine companion pipes up. "What the Lieutenant means is, candidly, we don't know a gods-damn thing. Lalonde started talking about some 'project' or something, but started blathering about the Cylons attacking and it seems like they detonated a low-grade nuclear device. So low-grade, the likes of which couldn't penetrate the hardening up there completely. But there's nothing there but dust and ashes."

[TAC3] (from "Beer" Tucana) Haltingly, the voice of Admiral Abbot rings out. "Sierra Tango, Cerberus Actual. Dispatching a team. Get our people out. They're our people now. This is your first priority. Be careful out there."

Haeleah assists their own medics with the injured doctor. Very carefully. Her hands were made for rougher work than tending. The pilot's account makes her eyes roll up in her head. As if trying to see through the hull plating. "Those areas were all restricted on the maps of this place we passed, sir," she says to Tillman. She sounds curious now. "Maybe they were running some kind of nuclear research up there. I can't even take an educated guess based on what we've seen. Maybe that…maybe the one we found in CIC can tell us something."

Tillman finishes on the radio and moves along with them, rifle at the ready across his chest. "Lalonde? Crazed guy? Yeah, we found him in CIC trying to give last rites to three of our Marines. He should already be back on the Cerb." When Haeleah speaks up, he nods to her. "Most likely. They did some crazy shit out here, Lieutenant. But I think that nutter from the CIC is the one they were talking about." He stops, though, as the Marine pipes up at him. Hard eyes look between the two of them. The radio traffic hits his ears before he says anything. "We're rolling you into our command and we are evac'ing this station and anything we can take with us." His jaw sets, a long breath taken. "The fleet is gone, Lieutenant Greene. Our battlegroup is about all that's left. The cylons have embarked themselves on a genocide and we've lost more than we can ever make up in our lifetimes. Let's get back to the ship and get you debriefed, though. Welcome to the war." With that, he turns and moves back on down the stairs.

[Into the Wireless] Tillman says, "Copy, Actual. We are moving out as we speak. Will give you a full report in CIC in two-zero mikes. Sierra Tango, out."

"Crazy guy." Hippolyta's mouth moves. "Crazy guy. Yeah, that sounds about right. He went off on some mission to 'save the crew.' Said it was his duty." He notes, with some detached melancholy. "He made it sound like some kind of holy mission but figured he was dead when he ran off. He was sweet, though. Always shared what food he pulled out of the lower decks with anyone who looked at him sideways. If he's alive, it proves that there's some…" And then it hits her. And Matko. And the entire small convoy. Pretty much, they all stare at him openmouthed.

"What are we waiting for?" asks the pudgy man. Somebody get this guy some pants. Please. They all continue on.

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