PHD #319: EVENT - The Forces of Reaction
The Forces of Reaction
Summary: Cerberus' Marines are set up for a fall by one Piers Rene-Marie.
Date: 11 Jan 2042 AE
Related Logs: Who is Robert Warner? and Law and Order
Astra Vandenberg Richards Samuel McManus Sawyer Piers NPC Polaris 
Living Quarters — MV Elpis
The freighter has living quarters sufficient to accommodate around 800-1000 people, divided up into rooms of varying sizes. Each room holds multiple sets of bunkbeds, most commonly housing between 10 and 20 people, none housing fewer than four and some as many as 60. For each bed, there is a locker of some sort. These rooms take up several floors, and are arranged around a central 'courtyard'. Each floor has at least one common room, outfitted with scavenged couches and televisions, separate heads for men and women, and laundry facilities. The rooms are pretty barren — plain military-issue bedding on the bunks, and nothing currently adorning metal walls or floors. The lighting is unforgivingly fluorescent, and there is a constant soft hum of generators and ventilation systems in addition to the other noises common to areas housing hundreds of people in relatively close quarters.
There is also a galley in a room off the living quarters, with a kitchen of its own, churning out food served in a buffet line much like on Cerberus. There are a few long tables that match and then a smattering of others of all shapes and sizes, the chairs equally mismatched as they are arrayed around them.
Post-Holocaust Day: #319

Shift change on the civilian freighter isn't quite as hectic an affair as it is aboard Battlestar Cerberus or any other ship in the Fleet. The MP guards shuttle away from their posts with alacrity, eager for a chance to slip away back home or — more likely — to Pete's. Along the way, they can't help but exchange a couple minutes' worth of private conversation on the assumption that nothing's going to combust between 1550 and 1600 hours. This brief idle interlude doesn't last particularly long, but it does provide those proverbial rats a few precious moments of freedom with which to steal the equally proverbial cheese.

And so it is that nobody confronts the pair of men threading their way past the hatch into the central court. They're unmolested even as they climb the staircase leading up to the living quarters' second floor — slowed as they are by Astra Koios and her veritable horde of children. One of the pair lets out a brief and vulgar curse before he's shushed by his redheaded comrade-in-arms, who smiles a disarming smile underneath the brim of his fedora. "Sorry ma'am," he offers, voice flat but friendly. "My buddy here's had a long day at work. Would you mind terribly if we squeezed by?"

Without waiting for her response, the two of them push up the stairs as quickly as humanly possible, their footsteps muffled by the sound of kids' laughter. It takes them far longer than they'd like to get through the pack, but eventually they make their way through. And there they are: aforementioned redhead with fedora on the left; a bald and slightly taller fellow on the right.

[TAC2] "Dog Actual" Vandenberg says, "Call him when he gets to the center hall, Richards. Everyone is weapons hold. Do it quiet and calm. Blaine and I will approach for fore and I'll alert him to detainment. McManus, roll from aft and block an escape."

[TAC2] McManus says, "I'm the fat man. Understood, sir."

Seeing the pair as they make their way through the various people, Chris finds himself frowning to himself. This is to be expected to go poorly by him but he steels himself and pushes off of the bulkhead, seeking to catch up with those they've been tasked in…dealing with. "Hey," he calls out while plastering on a smile; with how many people have made this ship their home, he's not too worried about not being recognized, he able to pose as one of the many faces. Hopefully with success. "Man, I've been looking for you." Dressed in jeans, hooded sweatshirt and tennis shoes…nothing to be suspicious of here.

While waiting for their 'target' to turn and acknowledge him, Chris speaks hurriedly, hand covering mouth as he feigns having to rub his nose.

[TAC2] "Dick" Richards says, "Got him in my visual. Time to move out and have fun…"

It's the redhead who looks up, his handsome features breaking into a faint and polite smile. "Don't know you," he says, sing-song voice still as bland as ever. "You know him?"

Baldie beside him shakes his head curtly, canting his head as he peers at the stranger with vaguely birdlike eyes.

"Thought so. Please excuse us. Private Triad game." Spoken almost apologetically as the pair pushes past hooded Richards toward the hatch to a common room some fifty yards down. The one in which two Marines are hiding.

McManus takes that as his cue, absently rolling his shoulders as he swings open the hatchway and steps from his hiding place behind them into the corridor itself, turned towards Richards and the pair of civilians. One fat man, as ordered, blocking the way back.

"Oh. yeah, not surprised you don't know me. Name's Cox. Larry Cox. Got picked up on Aerilon a while back, you know? Been hearing some great things about a lot of the people on this ship and was told I need to hook up with you in particular." Looking around as he shoves his hands into the pouch-like pocket of his sweat shirt, 'Larry' smiles and rolls a shoulder in a lazy shrug. "I was told that you're good people to know. Said I should make friends with you." As he's talking he's trying to follow along, the pair nodded towards as means of gesture.

Vandenberg is the first one out of the room in her brown MP duty gear, brassard to baton. She takes the turn and walks confidently towards the pair of men. She leans around them and signals for McManus to begin rolling in closer. "Robert Warner!" she calls directly to the redheaded man. "I need you to stop where you are for me right now." Its not worded as a debatable point. She nods to Richards, indicating that he should take up a place right behind them.

As the others are getting into the action, Samuel moves as well, attention on the redheaded one for now. He's moving in a bit carefully, glancing to the others for a few moments, then back to Mr. Warner.

"Cox?" the redhead repeats, his smile only widening. "Do you have a cousin named Dick?" But Vandenberg's clear voice puts a stop to whatever else he might want to say. "Is there a problem, officer?" Not that 'Is there a problem, officer?' is the best way to address a military MP, but the man evidently doesn't know better.

Meanwhile, buddy baldie stands stock still, glancing from 'Larry' to Vandenberg to his friend and back again with a slightly puzzled, bovine look. Dude, he seems to be saying. This shit be trippin'. Whatever this is, he suddenly knows he wants no part of it, moving to slip away past Big Man McManus.

<FS3> McManus rolls Alertness: Success.

Up the stairs comes that horde of children, seven of them five to almost-twelve, and Astra carrying her twins. Burdened, she moves slowly while they move quickly, flocking things spreading out, then returning, before spreading out again. She draws closer to the military, having no idea that anything is going on.

"How 'bout you just stay there, sir," McManus suggests to the bald man, tone quite reasonable as he extends both arms out casually to the sides of the corridor, crouching just a little to stop any attempt to get past. "How about we all just go with the nice officer there, instead?"

Richards nods to Vandenberg and falls into place, his hand falling to his hip now. The large sweatshirt he wears is baggy enough to conceal the holstered pistol he has on him, it making him look like he's just posturing cockily instead of getting ready to draw a weapon if it's necessary. Looking past the duo he frowns, trying to keep an eye on the entire area, not just where Red and his friend are.

"I'm not sure, Mister Warner, but we need to straighten a few things out. If you could keep your hands visible for me at all times to prevent things from becoming a problem." Vandenberg approaches with Samuel in tow and comes closer. She points to the man attempting to flee and is about to signal to McManus when he stops the guy. Go Brute Squad. "Go ahead and face the bulkhead, sir." That, to Warner. "Mister Cox, please keep the children away and funnel them elsewhere for now."

"Now wait just a moment." Redhead faces the wall as instructed, though his smile doesn't fade. "I'm no lawyer, but I think you need something like a warrant — or, barring that, a shred of probable cause — before you put me in chains. This here smells like bullshit to me."

Baldie, for his part, fidgets for a few seconds, looking back to where his friend's about to be searched. It seems as if he's considering the wisdom of making a break for it — but, then, he too allows himself a sigh before marching back into the corridor, hitting the ground spread-eagled like he's seen criminals do on every single police procedural ever produced.

<FS3> Vandenberg rolls Alertness: Good Success.

"Smells like cheap slap to me," McManus notes under his breath, moving up closer to the pair, arms still outstretched. Just in case of any silliness.

'Mister Cox' rolls his eyes but then steps past everyone, trying to get to where the little herd of rugrats have gotten off to. "Hey, you know what? I was thinking how good it'd be to get something to eat…we should go and see if we can't find some pudding or something." Looking around after he offers the suggestion to Astra's little group of children, wanting to encourage her to join them if he can get them all moving in the right direction.

<FS3> Astra rolls Alertness: Terrible Failure.
<FS3> Richards rolls Alertness: Success.

"We have probable cause, Mister Warner. You're wanted for questioning. If you cooperate, there is no need for chains and we can do all of this like adults." Vandenberg peeks up at the man's head and smiles. "Huh. Not sportin the red locks for truth, are you?" Coming up behind him, she motions for Samuel to search the man. "McManus, search the other gentleman would you please? Get all his information while you are at it if you could?" She the lifts a finger to what is apprently a wig and tries to lift it carefully off. "You also wear blonde, Mister Warner?"

"Pudding! Pudding! Mana, can we have pudding?" cry a couple of the children in unison, while the others kind of mill around her and 'Mister Cox'. They clap and basically react like… children with the energy of just-getting-out-of-classes, and Astra doesn't have much of a chance to react. She blinks, looking behind and ahead, frowning, puzzled. Then both twins start crying loudly, and she shakes her head. "I just need to get home."

McManus clears his throat quietly, noting to the bald man, "Far be it for me to question any man's choice of gender identity, sir. I mean, if a man wants to put on a frock and makeup in his free time, that's no problem, but really, you should try something with a bit more class. Trust me, a guy doesn't go for anyone in cheap makeup." He presses one hand to the bald man's back. "And I bet you looked better before you shaved your hair off, too. Don't listen to anyone else's dumb opinions. Ginger can be sexy, too. Name, please?" he asks, already beginning the patdown.

Samuel nods a little bit now and moves over to search the man. "Don't worry, I'm sure you don't have anything to hide," he offers a bit conversationally in Warner's direction, as he begins the process of the searching.

The redhead — or, more accurately, the dark-haired man — stays stock still as he's frisked and de-wigged. "Blondes have more fun," he agrees pleasantly, even as his equally dark eyes flash down the corridor past Vandenberg and Samuel to where several more hatch doors have opened. The sound of voices has evidently roused a few napping civilians, to the point at which more than a few bleary eyes are now checking out the scene unfolding before them. Soon enough, about fifteen curious citizens have blocked the part of the corridor leading deeper into the housing blocks, while up the stairs another twenty or thirty are in the process of arriving. If the be-wigged fellow notices, though, he doesn't seem to mind. "Questioning in regards to what, exactly?" he wonders conversationally.

The man pinned to the ground, for his part, remains mute, though it should be manifestly clear by now what McManus is talking about. His makeup — is he wearing makeup? — has started to bleed from all the sweat pouring out of his pores.

It's the sight of people coming up that stops Chris in his tracks, his brow furrowing as he looks behind him towards the El-Tee. "Frak." Leaning in, he whispers to Astra, "Keep the kids together and try to get them out of here as soon as you can, don't ask any questions," before he's off to try and deal with those coming up. "Hey! Excuse me, coming through," he cries out, trying to distract the throng of people long enough to let Vandenberg and the others do their thing.

If Sawyer's here, something must be up or maybe it's just by happenstance the nosiest reporter in all that's left of humanity has shown up at this time and place. Somehow she's finagled a place in the gathering crowd, edged up towards the front with her eagle eyes on the disguised men, her curiosity not drawn away by the well-meaning Chris.

Astra nods, and she trembles a little. "All right, kids. Security drill NOW>" Her voice snaps like a whip-crack, and all of a sudden her merry band has gone still, and they press themselves up against the wall, looking to Astra. "Right. Eyes on me. If I say run, you run. You know where. If I say drop, you drop. If I fall… you run. Got it? Good." She speaks calmly, steadily, holding their gazes. "Hold hands. Right." Then she lifts her head, stands a bit on her toes, trying to see what is happening. Her hands tremble a little, and sweat beads on her forehead.

The people coming up aren't distracted, especially not by some random dude in a hoodie. "Outta the way," says a particularly large fellow, who with a single swipe moves to shove 'Cox' aside. "I can't see for shit." The mild curse is delivered rather loudly as he struggles to gain a better vantage on what's going on. And what's started as an orderly gathering suddenly feels like anything but.

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Dick:Melee vs LargeFellow:3
< Dick: Success LargeFellow: Success
< Net Result: DRAW

"Sergeant, get everyone out of that stairwell right now. Clear the rest of this hall if you can." She rests a palm on the center of Warner's back and looks towards the crowd: "Back in your rooms, please. Especially you, sir." no mistaking who that went to. She then looks back towards the man being searched in front of her. "Don't I know it. You're wanted for questioning in regards to the theft of food, Mister Warner. We're going to take you back to the Cerberus temporarily until we can straighten this out. If everything is just fine we should have you back here in a few hours." She says this very quietly, calmly. No reason to be angry if he isn't. When she glances over towards the man on the floor, its a doubletake. "Mister McManus?" she calls over. Progress report time.

"Hey, don't frakking touch me, jerkwad," Dick says while pushing at the big guy who just does not seem to be effected by his having done so, too heavy to move with just a single shove. "I'm trying," he then calls out to Vandenberg, obviously following her order. Blowing his cover, undoubtedly, Richards gives up on the whole civilian routine and lifts up the hem of his sweatshirt, his holster and the gun within it now visible. "This is CMC business! Clear the stairwell. You'll be allowed into your homes after this is taken care of."

"Sir, this gentleman's apparently not too keen on cooperating with us," McManus notes mildly, drawing the bald man's arm up behind his back. "Recommend we take him in, as he appears to match the description of the man we're looking for. Tall, redhead, freckles. Do we have a clear route back to the Cerberus?"

Damnable Press have a sense of entitlement that accompanies the clearances that Sawyer wears around her neck nearly 24/7 as the military do their dog tags. Should people clear out at the bark of this being CMC business, she doesn't seem disuaded from her perch on the stairs. She's even half sitting on the railing now, to give her a better vantage point. "Huh." Is all she says as the reasoning behind the detainment wafts back to her position.

"Ah," says the loquacious black-haired man. "In that case, I can save you a whole lot of trouble right now if you'll just look in my wallet. Right pocket, your right, on my trousers. Oh, and please don't take a detour to my testes — then I think I'd have to pay you, and I'm running pretty low on vouchers." Assuming Vandenberg complies, she'll find an ID card assigned to a man who looks exactly like the one before her — a QUODEL ID card signed by Admiral Abbot himself, issued to one 'Piers Rene-Marie.' His voice has slipped into a slightly higher register as his boring lack-of-an-accent accent turns into something distinctly more nasal and … Virgan, for lack of a better word.

And over there by Cox-turned-Dick, the large fellow isn't at all swayed by the gun now being displayed. "Allowed into our homes? Now ain't that some bullshit right there. What's your plan, man? Gonna shoot us for trying to get back to our own bunks?"

"Ah, here we are, sir," McManus notes, finally retrieving an ID card. "Our gentleman here appears to go by the name of Mister Wally Foster." He eyes the card a little longer, then pats Wally on the back of the head. "See, you look far better with hair, sir. Shaving it was almost a crime in itself."

Waiting by the man that's been searched, Samuel keeps most of his attention on said man, waiting to see if Vandenberg takes that wallet indicated. Glancing over at Richards and the crowd, he raises his voice a little bit. "Don't worry, people. Just let us handle our job here, and then everything will be back to normal quite soon. That's what we all want, right?"

Hearing the rumble behind her, Astra straightens. "Excuse me," she calls out, using her Teacher Voice. "Look, you people have a job to do, but the rest of us are tired and want to go to the only homes we have. Can't you and… whoever… just stand there calmly and let us all past?" There is a weariness in her voice, and she sighs gently.

"Frak," Vandenberg sighs, watching Richards. "Sergeant!! Calm down." The second two words are distinctly more of what she is requesting: calm. "You're scaring the women." She smiles to him and looks back to 'Red' as McManus delivers that. "Works for me, Petty Officer. If he is uncooperative then please place him in restraints and get him up so we can move him. Anything in his pockets?" But as the initial suspect directs her, Vandenberg nods. "Fair enough, sir." She's careful and polite about the matter - avoiding the important parts - and takes up the wallet. She checks the ID on it and compares the two. The Lieutenant seems satisfied. "Very well, sir. Blaine? Please assist Sergeant Richards in crowd control." The Lieutenant taps the man's back and steps away from him with his wallet extended. "You're free to go, Mister Rene-Marie. It appears our business is with the other one for right now." She takes up the wig and extends it as well.

Richards's in the middle of what's rapidly becoming a potential situation and he's being told to calm down. Richards can't help but to roll his eyes but he also nods, that being the only sign that he heard Vandenberg. "Look," he says, loud but not so loud that it'll freak out the civvies. "I'm sorry. I know this is a major inconvenience but it won't be but a few more moments. Just be patient with us and we'll be out of your hair before you know it." Astra is looked at and considered before he shakes his head. "I understand, ma'am. I apologize for this. Just…please bear with us." Crap.

"Much obliged. And in case you're wondering," Piers says graciously, "Wally there didn't shave his head by choice, did he?" A beat. "Wally, did you shave your head by choice?"

The bald man shakes his head from where McManus has got him pinned. "Lymphoma," he mutters, voice hoarse and cracking. Which must explain the makeup.

"They snapped the poor guy's picture before he went into treatment," Piers continues. "And you know what chemotherapy and all those nasty drugs can do to a person, don't you?"

The crowd, for its part, has started to grow even more restless as word of the happenings filters down through the stairwell. Those stuck within might hear furious whispers and dark mutterings, only some of which aren't related to the case at hand. And then the large fellow is moving to shove past Richards again, this time helped from behind by a few more restless comrades-in-arms angling for a better view.

<FS3> Opposed Roll — LargeFellow:3+20 vs Richards:Melee
< LargeFellow: Great Success Richards: Good Success
< Net Result: LargeFellow wins.

Wait. She knows that voice, doesn't she? Sawyer presses up onto a tip-toe to try and see better, but it's evident she harbors some recognition for this Piers fellow. Sitting properly on the railing now so she's a good head above the crowd, she tilts her head this way and that to get a better feel for what's really going on here.

"Certainly do, sir," McManus agrees with Piers, not letting Wally up for a moment, however. He briefly taps the red cross on his arm, shrugging. "Well, shouldn't be any big issues, then, sir. If you need any medication for your condition, we'll just be able to look up your records for you and provide you with everything you need while you're on the Cerberus. Should just be a few questions, then we'll get you back over here with a story for your friends as soon as we can, sir. You don't mind coming along, do you? I'm sure the captain there's just got a few formalities to go over and it won't be long. We've all got things we'd rather be doing, I'm sure."

Trying to hold the crowd back doesn't work when Richards finds himself pushed to the side, it leaving a big gaping hole for the civilians to pass through with no problems. "Sir…think we're going to have a problem…" Hopefully things will defuse now that people will be able to get to where they live but he's not counting on it, this snowballing faster than he can control on his own.

Samuel nods a bit as he moves over to try helping Richards with the hard work that's called crowd control. "Everyone please calm down…" he calls out, moving to try blocking the way for the crowd as best he can. "Besides, if you do not calm down, I will have to sing, and you wouldn't like that." The last part said a bit more quietly.

Vandenberg lifts a finger towards the man she had just set free. "Sir, I'm going to have to ask you to move along and clear out of here while we move this other gentleman out. If he has a medical reason, that's fine. But we still need to clear it with my superiors before I can do anything else." She slices a hand farther down the corridor as if motioning for him to keep moving. "Please, sir." She then looks ot McManus. "Petty Officer!" She's more insistant, lifting her hand in request for 'Walley' to be brought to his feet and fast. The crowd is pushing through. "Before the man is trampled." She's already moving over to help protect the gent they are taking back to Cerberus.

"No need for that, Mister Big Man," says Piers. With surpassing confidence, he's moving away from the bulkhead to offer his friend Wally a hand up. "The doctors aboard Praetorian are treating him, and in their care I'm sure he'll have a few more months in which he can get — ah — slammed to the ground, was it, and then arrested for looking — tall and redheaded? Please."

"Calm down?" shrieks a woman in the meantime, her banshee-like voice sounding even louder in the now-cramped confines of the stairwell. "All we're doing is looking and you point a damn gun in our face!" The crowd echoes her outrage with growing passion before — at last — Large Fellow and his three Equally Large friends break through Richards' brave but increasingly feeble attempts to stop them. The fact that they knock a few children against the bulkheads doesn't seem to concern them; instead, their attention is focused on the scene unfolding before their eyes, taking down as many details as possible — all the better to give their heavily editorialized versions of what happened here.

Wally, for his part, isn't saying anything — merely groaning every few moments in evident pain.

"…the kids…" Chris looks to Natalie and the others before pushing his way to where Astra and the children have been standing, trying to physically put himself between the mob and them. This is his fault in more than one way, after all, and he wants to make sure those innocents are kept from being harmed more than they might be already.

"We'll confirm that when we're back on board the Cerberus, sir," McManus responds more firmly, gripping the back of Wally's clothing to assist him upright. "Mister… I'm sorry, I didn't get your name," he adds to Piers, "I recommend that you continue on your way as the officer requested. Any other course of action could be construed as obstructing the duties of a police officer." As McManus very deliberately puts on more of his own, particularly upper class, Virgon accent for emphasis. "Sir," he turns back to Wally, holding him up tightly against his own body and turning to begin moving away from the large crowd of rowdy civilians, "Come along now."

"Please stand back…" Samuel offers to the crowd once more. "Look, it's been a long day for all of us, both civilian and military, and we just want this matter taken care of, so we can all get back to our respective bunks and get some rest, okay." He offers a bit of a smile to the crowd, before he moves towards those that broke free. "That includes you, sirs. Would you please stand back a bit so we can get this all over?" Trying politeness first, it seems.

"Mister Piers, this gentleman laid on the ground of his own volition and I am well aware that you saw that with your own eyes. Inciting the crowd is not a smart thing to do. I have advised you to leave, sir. Now." Vandenberg is losing her own patience. "Sergeant Richards! Protect the kids! Get them into a room or something with their teacher and let's exfil and I mean right now! You too, Blaine!" She's already moving with McManus.

"Leave? Now? But where would be the fun in that? And you, monsieur, I assure you that Wally deserves no questioning." Piers uses the obnoxious word for "Mister" as he catches what McManus just did there. One hand rises to undo the knot holding his hair in place, which now streams down past his shoulders in gloriously smooth lines. One wonders how he keeps it like that on a ship with a few amenities as this one. "Look! Magic. I've got your man Warner right here." Snapping his fingers in the air, he directs a few of his ex-QUODEL compatriots to do that thing they do. Sure enough, the two of them produce from an adjoining room a tall and gangly redhead — hair still intact — who struggles furiously against their iron grip.

"We've even locked him up for you, see," Rene-Marie points out. The man is cuffed. "He came to me looking for a favor, see. He told us the whole story: how he was stealing from the hydroponics bay to feed himself and a few greedy others. And that's just not behavior I can condone. I just wanted to see if you'd ask me questions — or rough up the first suspicious-looking redhead you saw. I'm so glad martial law's working out for you," he adds, watching the crowd with evident amusement.

It's a crowd that — furious one moment ago — now falls into something like stunned silence. Large Fellow and his Large Brethren stop shoving; the children manage to peel themselves off the walls; even Banshee Woman shuts up.

"You've seen what you came here to see," the black-haired man calls out, moving toward the gathered masses with sinuous grace. "Maybe the authors of that manifesto weren't as — how do you say it? — alarmist as you thought."

Could Sawyer step in? Sure. Though it'd be difficult to say which side she would aid. Her part as a journalist, however, is to remain detached and just try to record the events for posterity. The appearance of yet another red-haired freckled man that causes the crowd to fall to silence gives her the opportunity she needs to edge a little bit forward, coming to the front of the crowd.

Richards picks now to usher the kids and their teacher off, doing his best to do so quickly and without calling attention to them. The nearest hatch is then opened and everyone's directed to hang out there for now, Richards then disappearing with them…or at least that's the plan. Hopefully no one will try to detain them.

Samuel nods a bit as he steps back, blinking a bit as he sees the events unfold now. "Politics…" he mutters under his breath, shaking his head a bit.

"Uh huh." Vandenberg says. "So not only did you knowingly keep information from us about this questioning and the suspect, you engineered this situation to incite this reaction?" The Marine Lieutenant looks ready to explode. "There are children in this hallway, Mister Piers, and you risked their safety and that of everyone else for this? I know you're probably hoping to flay yourself on the alter of whatever your problem is, but I'll deal with you later. For now? That's also illegal detainment and kidnapping. Think anyone else here might be interested in being detained by someone who isn't law enforcement?" Purely rhetorical, the Marine is spitting venom. "Blaine, take the other man into custody as well. They are -both- coming back to the Cerberus with us until we know who is who, courtesy of Mister Piers." Seeing Richards usher the kids away, Natalie looks back at the silent crowd and then to McManus. "Let's go, Petty Officer. Mister Blaine." She'll lead them all away assuming the crowd is going to part.

"I didn't risk anything," Piers points out. "You did. And you don't have to thank me for his capture, you know." The man's smile never fails. "And you there." His fluid voice is as smooth as silk. He's talking to McManus, it seems, that being the man to whom he now draws near — as one Virgan to another. If the big corpsman allows, he'll even put his arm over that bulging shoulder. "Sorry I had to rope you into this," he whispers, all liquid friendliness. "But better you learn now than later: you can't win them all." And with one last superior smirk he's disengaging from the Marines, offering the blonde reporter a knowing wink before vanishing into his room.

"Nob end," McManus notes ever so softly as the other Virgan man disappears, then rests his hand on Wally's shoulder. "Let's get this over and done with, sir, shall we? Just a few questions for you, and apparently for your other fellow there too, then we'll get you back here. I'm serious about your hair, though. You shouldn't have shaved it. Red hair's cute," he notes amiably, nudging the man forwards.

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