PHD #015: EVENT - The Test of Gold
The Test of Gold
Summary: A funeral pyre for a broken man.
Date: 13 Mar 2041 AE
Related Logs: None
Gabrieli Haeleah Astrid Sarkis Barclay Sofia Atreus Zosime NPC Polaris 


The executive officer's room is one of the larger aboard the ship: one of the perquisites of Command left over from the days when ships had sails instead of engines, and captains and commanders took silver-served meals while observing the stars through blown glass windows. But tonight, of course, Alec Sarkis can see no stars from behind his mahogany desk, the drawers of which have been thrown open to reveal more than a few bottles of remarkably fine liquor — a collection through which he and the ship's master-at-arms are currently browsing while they wait for the third member of their party to arrive. Evidently, it's quite all right to start drinking before all the dinner guests get here, but to start eating? That would be just rude.

The XO wants to have dinner. This same XO that Michael had informed command crew was suffering from some kind of mental trouble. And so it's with respect to orders but with a hair of caution that Gabrieli makes his way up from Engineering, dressed in fatigues and carrying a folder with a couple papers in it. He raps at the hatch before opening it, popping off a very casual salute to the two men in the room. "Sir. Master Sergeant."

"So glad you could make it, Captain." Sarkis looks up as the hatch swings open, his rugged face breaking into a hard, tight smile. "Ignore the reeking and watch the glass — some fool in CIC zigged us when he should have zagged us, and I lost one of those crates I've been keeping around since the ban." That would be the alcohol ban, presumably, enacted (from the look of the room) for the sole purpose of filling the XO's larder. And indeed, the sharp scent of licorice that pervades the man's quarters might cause Gabrieli to twitch backwards as he enters the field of broken bottles between him and the table. Jagged shards of glass lie embedded in the rug beneath his feet, their sides still glistening with droplets of ambrosia — another handle of which James Barclay now removes and uncorks on Sarkis' orders. "Want one, Captain?" asks the Marine after pouring the XO a glass. He himself will be partaking not at all. It seems Gabrieli isn't the only one who's nervous.

Gabrieli smiles at Sarkis upon seeing the man he's been working with in close quarters for the last few weeks. It's not forced, at least not while the XO's actually looking at him. "Sure, sir. Why not." He looks down at the glass as it crunches underfoot with his third step in the room, nostrils briefly flaring. The ChEng's an alert man when it comes to his surroundings; engineers have to be. "CIC? Yeah, right. Doing the old 'drunk off fumes' experiment, I know how this goes. Haven't seen this since military college." His eyes flicker to the Marine at some point while Sarkis' attention is elsewhere. The smile and happy acceptance of the liquor isn't reflected at all, the green-gray sharp with a flash of concern. "But I should probably get a crew up here and clean this up. Someone's going to cut their damn foot off."

Sarkis takes an indelicate swig from the crystal goblet in his hand, the wide palm of which is large enough to swallow up entirely its fluted stem. Green liquid dribbles down the stubble on his chin as he lets out a satisfied little sigh, gesturing for the MP to top up the identical glass laid out above and to the right of the plate at Gabrieli's seat. "What's the point of being the XO if you can't skim a bit off the top?" he asks, dark eyes boring into the engineer's chest while his free hand whisks a table napkin onto his lap. The crack of said napkin unfurling rings loudly in the room, sending spiraling forward the steam rising up from the piping-hot serving tray in the center of the table. "I present to you the last frakking steak any of us will ever eat in our lives," he announces, voice thick with anticipation. "Please. Serve yourself." He certainly does.

Gabrieli looks down at the glass on the floor, then Barclay again. Then Sarkis, without moving his head much. "Alright, will do." He steps over the rest of the glass, pulling out the indicated seat. Reaching over the table for the glass, he accepts it and sets it down on the tabletop, crooking a brow at the food. "Shit, Sarkis. Steak? You got the whole damn cow on this plate." He's still not quite…relaxed. But he keeps on, resting the folder down on his leg and picking up one of the napkins himself, absently wiping off hands that have no dirt on them. "How've you been, anyway?" Offhanded, question asked as he looks over the dinner spread.

"Last damn cow in the entire frakking universe. And — me? Good. Good. I've been doing a lot of reading lately." The XO's voice is harsh, low, and conversational all at once. The serrated edge of a steak knife tears into the meat on his plate, stainless steel scraping loudly against the porcelain below; then, stabbing the tip of that knife into a bit of cow, he raises it to his mouth, his fork still clutched in the palm of his left hand. "Got lots of time on my hands after being yanked by that damned bint of a shrink. Never knew how much crazy shit was in those reports I used to sign without thinking. Hah."

Barclay gives Gabrieli another meaningful 'look' when he thinks the XO isn't watching, though the man from Aerilon lets none of what he's thinking appear on his face. "We were going over casualty lists," rasps the Marine, taking a bite of his own. "The … reports he signed without reading."

"Lots of crazy shit in those reports," Sarkis continues, pounding down another third of his overfilled goblet. "Jim here — " His massive thumb twitches in the Marine's general direction. "Jim here lost a guy to some godsdamned stairs. Snapped his sodding neck like a twig, just — " A contemptuous snort. "And your snipes. A redhead and a blonde, both burnt to cinders the day after Picon went. COD? Electrical fires unrelated to the Cylons."

Figures why nobody in command ever called about those. If, you know, nobody actually read anything. Gabrieli meets the Marine's eyes yet again, a subtle flicker. He did see that look, though likewise his expression doesn't change at all. "Yes, sir," the ChEng lets the napkin rest crumpled on his knee. "Faulty materials we were unaware of until the problems started. It's being replaced and rewired." That, Sarkis would probably know too if he'd read all the reports, but thankfully the chief engineer knows better than to get snippy with a man in this increasingly odd state.

"Replaced and rewired." Sarkis shakes his head, and the room seems to shake with him (so powerfully built is he). "The Cylons just came back and we're losing people because some godsdamned civvie contractor couldn't be arsed to insulate some godsdamned wires." The last word fades into a sound half-grunt, half-snarl."

"Been doing a lot of thinking, lately, too — hey, Jim, just need a bit more of — yeah, that's it." A snap of his fingers and Barclay is refilling Sarkis' glass, before moving to top off Gabrieli's drink as well. "How we got here. Sitting in this shithole sector of space with our thumbs up our puckered-up sphincters. And you know what I realized?" Wolfish gaze turns from Barclay to Gabrieli to the half-eaten steak on his plate, another quarter of which vanishes into his mouth as he carves. "Evolution." The word, though muffled, is clear enough. "We lose people to stairs and wires — and we wonder how we got here. Mm?"

Gabrieli hasn't touched his drink, so Barclay's helpful pouring can only squeeze another half inch or so of booze into the already-full glass. "Been losing people to stairs and wires ever since we've had stairs and wires, sir. You want evolution? Handrails and insulation." The steak isn't drawing much of his attention, eyes flickering down only once over the food spread. "We adapt. But we're still fragile." Speaking of which, for some reason that glass on the floor just keeps bothering him. "I'm going to get a cleanup crew."

And just as Gabrieli moves to leave, so does Barclay, who halfway through the XO's soliloquy has given up entirely on keeping his emotions off his face. "I'm not a philosopher, sir, and I'm fairly sure the Captain here isn't one either." The man sets down his utensils, not that he's been eating much at all to begin with. "If you needed one of those, sir, you should have asked the chaplain. Sure she'd have been glad to talk to you on this. So if you don't mind me asking, sir, with respect — " Though each of those 'sirs' seems to possess a progressively more obvious undertone that suggests anything but. "I've got business to attend to, not that I don't appreciate the dinner." The muffled sound of a chair squishing against an ambrosia-drenched rug is audible in the echoing cabin.

"Hold, Jim." Sarkis smiles toothily, his eyes focused not on either of the two men but on the doorframe — a wholly unremarkable thing, really, until one follows his gaze to a small circular lump of steel attached to the bulkhead, and then another, and then another, all of them cunningly concealed by the potted plants flanking the bulkhead. "The timer's about to go, and if I were you, I'd stay as far away from that hatch as possible, because, well — "

The sound of three targeted explosions rocks him off of his chair as metal fuses to metal, superheating the door and fusing it shut while the lights in the room flicker, flicker, and shatter. The shockwave from the blast will send crashing to the floor anybody who isn't prepared, and as dust and smoke and the stench of burning paint begin to fill the room, the darkness is suddenly lit by the bright flash of a handheld lighter. Is Sarkis — smoking?

Gabrieli had just gotten up, still slightly stooped when Sarkis says that. You know that moment when your blood just goes cold? The ChEng can feel it, a sliver of ice running from throat to stomach just in time to be abruptly warmed by the blast. He stumbles forward, half tripped by the chair and slamming his arm into the wall, some forgotten picture hook digging a gouge into his cheek. "Frakking shit." It takes just that many split seconds to register what just happened, and he jams his leg against the wall, standing back up and coughing in the dust. "Barclay, secure the Colonel." His hand's already feeling in the dark for the wireless, grabbed off the wall.

INTERCOM: Gabrieli says, "Attention damage control, this is Captain Gabrieli. Emergency team to executive officer's quarters."

"Poor Jim," drawls the man, who seems entirely unruffled by the fact that he and two others are sealed inside. His lighter flickers on once again, held down by one thick thumb as from behind the desk he observes with placid amusement the Marine's limp body. "Told him he should have had some ambrosia, but you know." Another harsh growl. "He just didn't want to listen. Just try to appreciate what I'm doing for you here, yeah?" And with a mad gleam in his dark eyes and a quick wave of his hand he's wafting into his nostrils the sweet smell of licorice, breathing in heavily before — just like that — he drops the lighter to the ground, and then the entire carpet is lit, flames jetting forward as they consume the liquor now fueling their progress, arcing towards Gabrieli and the phone.

"'Now let me choose a death glorious,'" the XO intones, cigarette clutched between his lips. "'Let me choose a death glorious, renowned, illustrious, full worthy of myself. This day will I make famous. Go, cut down all the woods, heap Oeta's grove together, that a mighty pyre may receive Hercules, and set the sky aglow.'"

"Sarkis!" Gabrieli's sharp voice cuts easily through the smoke. He could barely tell Barclay was lying on the ground until he spots the man's foot. The wireless receiver clatters as he drops it, the white handheld arcing to the floor in a mirror of that lighter falling to the executive officer's carpeted, glass-strewn floor. The flame catches on his boot and the bottom of his trouser leg and he sprints forward for Barclay's unconscious form, trying to grab the man's larger shoulders. "Sarkis, what the frak are you doing?"

Haeleah rolls up with the damage control team from engineering, making her way swiftly through the ship toward the XO's quarters. You wouldn't think a person could move that fast in full DC gear, but she manages it. "Come on, people! Let's *hoof*. *It*." A quick glance over her shoulder to make sure the other personnel on-call are with her, but she doesn't slow. She manages to look like she knows what she's doing, though her dark eyes are even wider than usual. What the frak could cause a DC emergency in the /XO's/ quarters?

Sofia comes scrambling along. Spazzoids move fast at least. "Huh, I figured I'd slowly rotate in personally," Sofia comments, squinching her nose. Engineers: May not be the fastest. She's all business though, frowning. "Gods, I hope it's not the wires again." She hass a few ideas, all likely wrong. Regardless, her green eyes are narrorwed in a businesslike look. Scoot, Sofa scoot.

Astrid is in fact with her, the dark haired petty officer following promptly on Haeleah's heels. The same thought process is running through her mind as Haeleah's, if the harried expression of confusion on her face is any indication. Choosing not to volunteer any hypotheses, however, she just keeps hoofing it down the corridor as ordered.

Atreus, decked out in proper attire for an emergency of unknown origin, pounds up the stairs and bursts through the hatch. Scanning the hallway outside the XO's quarters, he shifts his equipment to a more comfortable carry and strides swiftly after the engineering crew. Lowering his mask, he flips the filter on, then motions for his crew to come ahead.

Right behind Atreus is Zosime, dressed almost identically to him. Seeing the others from Engineering filling in as well, the PO frowns and attempts to crane her neck in order to see what is going on. Though an emergency has been called, she has no idea what could cause it here. Keeping her mask right where it is - just in case - she lines up right by Atreus.

The howling of synchronized sirens is audible even through the hatch, and as Gabrieli falls, Sarkis stands, his hulking silhouette casting long and confused shadows on the Cerberus' grey walls. And from the midst of these roaring flames upstarting he raises his glass in a toast, sparkling ambrosia splashing across lips and his chin to color his skin a sickly venomous green. "'The whole crowd stands in speechless wonder,'" the man continues, voice thundering over the alarms echoing in his ears like the wails of mourning of a hundred ancient women. "'So calm his brow, the hero so majestic! And into that blazing mass he strode and sought where the flames leaped highest, all unafraid, defiant, feasting his eyes upon the fire.'" The delicate tinkling of smashing glass interrupts his speech as he, too, strides forward, the blaze turning the polished brass of his dress uniform an ominous shade of orange.

"We're men, Dom, you and me." The XO comes around the front of his desk and clasps his hands behind him, fire reaching for his boots and thighs. "The rest of the ship can take the stairs, or be blown out of the sky, or be roasted in their sleep — but you and me, Dom, men like you and me? Like Alcides we'll stand and wait — unafraid, defiant — and though these hot tongues may lick our heads, we will not close our eyes."

And outside: "Make a hole!" screams a chief in orange, muscling his way past a pair of stunned Marines, shoving a CIC flunky to the ground — all to get him to Haeleah and Atreus and the crews thudding up the stairs. The light from his torch carves arcing patterns in smoke and dust, glinting off the broken bulbs over which his feet now crunch. "Explosion — took out the godsdamned door — whoever's inside, they're burning up — going to have to cut it open, and fast, and watch the smoke — "

There's a maddened look on the man's face as he charges past the DC crew to retrieve equipment of his own, and beyond him can be seen the charred and blasted ruins of the hatch, a quarter-town slab of steel bent inwards with the bulkhead and smoking about the edges. Fire licks at the thing's heavy frame, making paint bubble and burst with pressure, and over it all, like buzzing from a television that refuses to die, the sharp tangy smell of licorice burning and burning and burning —

The broken glass on the floor has cut through Gabrieli's fatigues, leaving shins and hands dripping blood into the flames licking their way across the floor. Fusing carpet, the stench of melting polyurethane mingling with that disgusting sickly sweet smell of the contents of the broken ambrosia bottles, and the burning crate they fell out of. The ChEng is struggling with Barclay's body, dragging it as far from the flames as he can — useless venture given the size of the room and the accelerant provided in the alcohol splashed all over the burning carpet. Hatch sealed shut, none of the black smoke can escape but for the vents up ahead, not nearly enough to keep it from overwhelming lungs. "Ja — …" Gabrieli can't even speak anymore, coughing the Master Sergeant's name out. "… — ames. James." His collar's caught fire, some flame hungrily finding the front of his uniform.

"Mask up!" Haeleah calls to the engineers with her. If they aren't already. Her helmet's on, visor down, breathing filter fixed over her mouth. She's right on the chief's heels and, whatever questions she might have at the moment, she refrains from dwelling on them. Though she can't help but bite off a "Frak" as she preps to cut open the door.

Oh gods. Fires. Sofia blinks, wincing at the confusion. The howling of sirens isn't helping. She nods, and pulls up her mask. Sofia will help cut open the door best as she can. She's in Grunt Mode, quietly taking orders. She hears - things? What's going on in there? Ears strain. Ancient instincts tell her FIRE BAD - but she doesn't react on them, not now. She isn't aware of the loony inside or what's going on, it's hole time.

Astrid's helmet is on, but her mask isn't in place. That's quickly fixed, though, a single hand movement locking the protective gear in its proper place. "Son of a motherfrakking…" she mutters to herself, buffeted by the heat and horrified by the sight of bubbling paint and ruined metal as she approaches the door. Protective equipment in place, she's moving to join Haeleah and the rest of the engineering squad in prepping to cut through the hatch.

Surveying the scene, Atreus' grim expression sobers further. "I swear, this ship and everyone in it is going to give me grey hairs." Following the 'chief in orange', the DC weaves his way forward though turns to call behind, "Damon. Zosime. Bring the torch forward." He ignores the sirens as well as possible, the sound of his respirator in his ears a soothing counter pulse. "Chief. Any way to trigger the fire system in that room or did the explosion frak it to Hades?"

With the sirens blaring and the yelling from one of the chiefs, Zosime looks around her worriedly. The fire is a terrible one, she can tell it without having to see much more than the bubbling paint. She knows fires and what they can do to people. But what she's really worried about is the smoke. That's what will kill anyone left in there still breathing. They're going to have to work quickly. Upon the orders from Atreus, Zosime pushes her way through the crowd of those gathered and starts to work on the door, brows knit in concentration.

"Don't waste — " A fit of coughing cuts through the XO's voice, causing him to skip over his words. " — godsdamned time, Dom." His face is impassive as flame tears up his legs, the grey of his uniform turning red as fire consumes fabric and flesh. "He holds the realms of heaven in his palm, and — " The man's throat seizes as black smoke pours into his lungs, washed down by another swig of ambrosia. "At last has he attained the sky, for now — " The man grunts in agony, sweat pouring down his brow; trembling hands upend the bottle, pouring its contents over his body. "His valor bears him to the stars and to the gods themselves." And then he's not doing much talking at all as, accelerated by rivers of green, the inferno claims him utterly, still standing ramrod straight before the mahogany desk — the wooden pyre of old.

And outside? "Frak all if I know, Chief," snaps the man in orange, who's returned to the scene with an axe the size of his arm. "Sure doesn't look like anything at all's working in there, but — " And then his eyes widen as his gaze whips toward the door — "Back!" is all he can muster, before a gout of searing fire explodes out from a gap in the metal and into the burning hot corridor beyond —

<FS3> Astrid rolls Reactive: Success.
<FS3> Haeleah rolls Reactive: Good Success.
<FS3> Sofia rolls Reactive: Success.
<FS3> Atreus rolls Reactive: Good Success.
<FS3> Zosime rolls Reactive: Bad Failure.

"FRAK!" Not that Haeleah's profanity is particularly audible, with the explosion and all. She leaps back, reaching out to grab the engineer nearest her - Sofia, in this case - and shove her with her out of the blast zone. She hits the corridor floor hard, and it takes her a second to regain her wind and shove herself back up. Gaze flicking around to the other members of the DC team. Counting heads.

The XO's final act, immolation within immolation, is the last thing Gabrieli sees through the curtain of fire. His throat's already trying desperately to close up, unable to get in any of the superheated air other than a pained wheeze, that's lost in the raging noise of the fire. He's quite sure he's screaming by now, but really he's not. The sound of the hatch exploding, that registers somewhere in the back of his mind, and voices, and the strangest thought that he never really liked ambrosia in the first place…and then nothing.

Atreus nods to Zosime as she moves to begin work on the door. He nods to the chief, then blinks as the man cries out. Reaching down, he grabs the back of Zosime's protective gear and yanks her backwards as he moves himself. The gout of flame licks after them, lighting the woman on fire. Rather than speak or curse, he rolls the woman onto the floor, smothering the fire as quickly as he can.

Astrid squeaks in surprise as some set of hands or another yanks her away from the door — just in time for that nasty looking gout of flame to whoosh past her and not through her. Unlike her superior, however, she manages to stay on her feet; Astrid snatches up the torch in a blur of motion and immediately applies it to hot steel. Sparks begin to fly as she starts cutting into the metal.

At the cry, Zosime doesn't even get a chance to shout or squeak in surprise. Instead, she finds herself yanked backward by Atreus. Not quick enough to get out of the way of the chasing flames, the fire engulfs her for a moment, catching and burning her protective gear. Rolling and allowing the Chief to help her to put out the fire, she only sits up again once she's sure that she's completely put out. Breathing heavily from fear and adrenaline, she gasps out, "Thanks Chief."

The chief who gave the warning isn't so lucky. Tripping over Sofia's flailing form, he stumbles not backwards but forwards, losing his balance as, desperately, he releases the axe and topples — right when Astrid's blowtorch roars to life. And then there's not much of his face left at all, thirty-six hundred degrees' worth of acetylene flame slashes through his skull and carves a sickening swathe through his dull right eyeball before like a sack of potatoes he crumples to the ground against the white-hot hatch, fingers twitching and lips moving even as his heartbeat slows to a stop.

When he is sure that Zosime is no longer in danger of being toasted alive, Atreus nods, "You okay? Yeah? Good. There are fire extinguishers along the hall. We'll need a lot of 'em. Especially if the system's down inside." Not waiting for an answer, he picks up another torch and moves in to start cutting a few feet from Astrid.

Ever want to see someone normally cheerful and irrepressible totally crushed like a soda can in front of cement mixer? Here's your chance. Sofia liked that chief. She reaches out to keep him from tripping as she's yanked one way and another. "Oh my gods!" She screams. "Chief, no!" It's painful to watch the transformation. The cheeriness is being burned away. She rushes to the chief, to at least set a hand - move hin away from the white hot hatch. "Nono, I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry." It's all she can utter. So sorry. So sorry. So sorry. First Ren, now this. Someone's going to be crazier than Ann Coulter on crack. "Sorry, so sorry," Twitch. Uh oh.

Haeleah pulls herself to her feet, torch up, to get back to work on the door. Just in time to see Astrid's blowtorch quite literally blow up in someone's face. And Sofia screaming. "Wolfe! Get your ass back to work on that door! We need to get in there now." She takes her torch to the door, attempting not to set anyone afire. Not setting anyone afire is a priority, really. "Ter Avest, torch down, get your extinguisher ready." There'll be time to deal with the face-burning when the immediate fires are put out.

Astrid's in such a rush to cut through the door, she doesn't even notice the form of the falling chief until, well. One moment she's slicing through a hatch, the next moment she's slicing through SOMEONE'S FACE. Her eyes widen to the size of plates, but her hand fails to release the torch even as she watches the luckless chief's burnt corpse slump lifelessly to the floor. Her legs keep her locked in place; it doesn't dawn on her for a few seconds that she's screaming in horror. Haeleah's command does serve to snap her out of it, some; she's still whimpering a little, though, and moving unevenly as she steps away, a quivering hand exchanging a torch for an extinguisher.

Twitching hands move to her face. Nononono. Her green eyes are wide, pupils nearly gone. Sofia's face is an expression of abject horror and guilt mingling. Wherever Sofia is, it's not necessarily /here/. Deep breath. Deep breath. Pull it together. She reaches for tools, or perhaps the chief's axe. "For you." She won't let his sacrifice be in vain then and picks up his axe to help resume his job. Right. If you can't be a hero, then - at least don't waste his memory. Deep breath. there's still twitching - she's probably going to need Amy Winehouse grade tranquilizers after this - but she's pulled together enough to work.

"I'm — yeah, I'll be fine, Chief. Thank you." With shaking hands Zosime pushes herself up off the ground. That was a close one and she's glad for the opportunity to walk it off a bit by grabbing the fire extinguishers. Needing a lot of them may be a bit of an understatement if the systems aren't working inside the office. Not wasting any time, the woman is luckily not looking when the poor chief's face is burned off. Instead, she starts to stack up fire extinguishers to use.

Heeeeeeeeeeeeeere's SOFIA! Eat your heart out creepy Shining Child. Sofia hefts the axe. Deep breath. "DIE YOU STUPID DOOR. BARRIER. THINGY. NONSPECIFIC INANIMATE OBJECT IN THE WAY." Sofia pulls herself together and noticing the work done, is going to axe the hell out of the door like it's cake and she's a dozen small sugar crazed children. "What is it with me and doors and bullets? I really don't get it - but - here goes nothing." Focus your nerdly strength. Sofia's going to help take a hunk out of the door once everyone's out of the way, if her crazy didn't repel them. But Sofia totally wouldn't be cruel enough to hit anyone with an axe or give them splinters. "Hey, do you guys smell that…?" Alcohol? The hell were they doing in there? Sexy party? Freaking officers. Sofia's got no idea. RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGE AGAINST THE DOOR!

Haeleah goes to work on the door. Cutting, cutting, cutting. Their combined efforts are finally getting through it, though hers don't quite burrow a hole.

"HEADS FRAKKING UP!" Astrid yells to the assembled multitudes as she charges back towards the hatch, this time with a fire extinguisher. The nozzle is pointed at the floor, specifically towards the base of the fire that's being caused by the alcohol seeping out of the XO's quarters. Still biting back tears, she rips the pin free and pulls the lever. It takes a few seconds of darting around to get it done, but soon all the last little bits of flame in the corridor are extinguished. Should make it easier for the rest of the DC team to do their jobs, anyway. Somehow, she manages to keep her eyes off the roasted form of the dead chief — probably a good thing, too, given that even a slight glance right now would probably push her over the edge into unable-to-do-her-job hysteria.

When the light of the torch changes indicating a breach, Atreus nods in satesfaction. Glancing over the work of the others, he switches his torch off, "Let's break it down, folks." Easing back, he sets the torch down out of the way of the heat, then picks up an axe. Turning, he watches Sofia for an instant to get an idea of where her axe will strike. Moving to an area near enough that his blows to the door will be effective, he pauses to take a sniff, "Alcohol. Frak. As soon as oxygen enters, it's going to blow. Bring up the extinguishers and start using them as soon as…" And there is Astrid, already at it. Swinging the axe, he works to widen the hole they are making.

Brave, brave Sofia digs her axe into the burning metal door, which — being metal — repels its head as easily as fire from the DC crews' torches, which slash through reinforced steel as warm knives through butter. The recoil from the crewman's efforts nearly causes her plan to end in disaster, but fortunately she's just strong enough to keep control of the blade, meaning it dips just centimeters from Atreus' face before clanging against the ground. The scent of licorice is almost overpowering, now, mixing as it does with the smell of roasted flesh — but as the crew works and works and works, it doesn't take long before the door cracks open.

And now the axe-men — well, axe-man and axe-woman — find their tools to be of much more use: makeshift crowbars that pry apart overheated metal to reveal the scene inside — a charnel house of bodies. Choking black smoke whooshes out into the hall, lightening the room just enough to reveal two figures huddled in the corner, the larger deployed as a shield by the smaller. In the center of the room lying spread-eagled on the floor is the charring corpse of the executive officer of Battlestar Cerberus, a cigarette in one hand, an empty bottle of ambrosia in the other, his handsome face frozen in a horrifying expression equal parts pain and a fanatic sort of joy. On the burning table behind him rests a melting silver serving tray with two pieces of steak still inside, cooked to the consistency of charcoal.

Having gathered a couple of fire extinguishers in the time it's taken the workers to cut themselves a doorway, Zosime grabs her own and starts forward again. She's certainly more cautious this time, ready for any balls of flame that come flying her way. To steady herself, she takes a few deep breaths. Having heard that it's an alcohol fire, she's all the more on the alert. Steeling herself to not step backward having heard that, she waits for the first hole to crack. As soon as she sees the opportunity, she steps closer and slowly squeezes the lever of the extinguisher and points it toward the flaming room, turning the hose from side to side in order to cover as much space as she can. The scene is not a pretty one. "Frak," she mutters to herself.

In the sea of crazy, there is a moment of clarity and control. Phew. Sofia doesn't axe Atreus who does his hair. Literally. She stares blankly at the axe. In horror. "…" It's an odd sight. She twitches, about to laugh. "There's really… no room for incompetence. I suppose I'll just… have to pay for it later," Oh well. Maybe after dinner. Rude to die at the table after all. Once they breaak through, Sofia looks apologietically towards Atreus. More guilt. It's an episode of Higurashi waiting to happen with Sofia cackling somewhere. She's looking for any signs of life, fire be damned. What's she got to worry about? Strong with the crazy this one is. Ignoring fire and debris, there is a hunt for the living. She steps in quickly. Search crazy-wan kenobi, SEARCH.

Biting back tears, Astrid forces her way into the room as soon as the axe-wielding team manages to pry the door open enough. If what happened outside horrified her, the scene in Sarkis' quarters isn't any better. Finally, between the smoke and the circumstances, Astrid can't hold it in any longer, as tears begin to streak down her face. She's just detached enough to be able to do her job, though, and the fire extinguisher sweeps back and forth. Each glance around the room is little more than a kick to the gut, though, as she watches the voracious flames eat their way up a cabinet filled with leather-bound books. Several pictures and certificates hanging on the wall nearby have caught fire and flutter downwards as well, though they're little more than burnt, jagged cinders by the time they finally hit the ground.

Haeleah moves aside once the door is cracked, though her first move is not to dive right in with the extinguisher, but to get to the nearest intercom. She gets on the horn to Medical. "We're going to need a medic team in the XO's quarters ASAP. Putting out a fire now. Probably burn victims in there." Living ones, hopefully.

It isn't that Atreus didn't see the poor chief turn into a crispy critter. It isn't that he is not conscious of the smell of burnt flesh mingleing with the alcohol and flames. It isn't really that he is heartless or unfeeling. It is that there is only so much that can register on a conscious level and there isn't a frakin' thing he can do for the man. Thud goes the axe. Thud… And thud again… Prying at the metal, Atreus grimaces as he watches Sofia's axe warble by his face then lower. A softly whispered prayer to Hephaestus might be missed in the general roar of sound. When the room has been opened, he lsteps out of the way of those with extinguishers. Seeing Sofia step in without one, Atreus considers yanking her back out, but the woman is in protective gear on. Turning aside, he takes a step toward the intercomm, but Haeleah beats him to it. The woman gets a quick, tight smile, as he scoops up an extinguisher. Before going in, he grabs a couple of those fire retardant blankets used for trauma situations. These are tucked beneath an arm in the fervent hope that someone in that inferno is alive.

Soon enough, the fires are quenched. Soot covers the walls, the cabinets, the rug, the bed, even the two or three bottles of ambrosia standing untouched and unharmed behind the desk — Stanford Twenty, the really fine stuff, distilled in the Bliffe Sector (or so the labels say). Black fire scars trace their way up the bubbled grey walls, and the ground is covered by a veritable maze of glass from bottles and light bulbs both.

And survivors? It doesn't take the Medical team pounding up the stairs terribly long to arrive, pushing their way past the stunned DC crew to reach the people inside, their stretchers tossed to the ground. One medic places two fingers against the XO's still-warm neck before her head twitches from one side to another; another three have rushed to the two bodies in the corner, peeling one off the other with unimaginable difficulty. Only one of the two gets a thumbs-up — the one with the dark blond hair and a web of third-degree burns on his back, the part of him left unprotected by his human shield. "Call down," the lead corpsman murmurs, her face set in stolid focus. "Prep the burn unit, and get a doc up here to pronounce TOD. Now."

Alas. Sofia couldn't even get that right. What was it for? Useless, useless. You should throw useless things away. Couldn't even help look. Couldn't put out the fire. Couldn't not trip the chief. She stares blankly ahead. Couldn't not almost axe a good friend. Useless. Trash. She just stands there, frozen. Coping mechanisms are wanting, left overwhelmed and burned like wires with too much current racing across them. She sways on her feet a moment. Couldn't even find a person in the room. She stares. What to feel? There's nothing really. Just a blank, seared away feeling like seeing a star up close or having the breath torn out of your throat before space pulls a body apart. Only particles, spatters. There's not really a Sofia. Just. Someone. Something. She at least stays out of the way, quietly. "I'm sorry."

Adding to that, it's not really angst, so much as a blank confusion.

It seemed like both an eternity and a heartbeat at the same time, but now it's over. The flames are out, the smoke dispersed, and the medics are finally here for the wounded. A grim expression on Astrid’s face, she steps uneasily around the room; she looks around, ostensibly to survey the damage, but it's actually for another purpose. Partially disappearing behind a beam running up the wall, the woman drops weakly to her knees; it's not easy to make out over the sound of everything else that's going on, but anyone close can make out the sound of retching coming from where she's slumped down and hunched over.

With the fire out and the Medical team swooping in to take over the situation, Atreus begins to put away his gear. He does stop one of the medics and point out the chief lying outside in the corridor, however. Zosime, Rat and Damon are sought out. When he finds them, he speaks quietly to each. The words are various forms of 'Thanks.' and 'Good job' and 'Let's get the gear stowed'. Finally, he looks to the Engineering contingent, walking to Sofia, he touches her lightly on the shoulder, "Come on, Sparks. We need to talk to your CO about finding out why the frak the fire suppressent system in this room did not take care of this before it got lethal."

Once she's made the call, Haeleah gets back to the quarters to do some mop up work on the fire. She gets out of the way once the medics actually arrive, however, making a clear hole for them. She stares at the bodies of the men who'd been trapped in there. The dead XO. And Gabrieli. "Captain…?" It's breathed and inaudible under her helmet. She doesn't even relax when he gets a 'thumbs-up' from the medics. She just stares as he's carted away. Shake of her head, as if physically trying to order her thoughts, then she turns toward the Chief and Sofia. "He's alive," she says. Trying to make it sound encouraging.

There's one little metallic gleam where the medics found Gabrieli and Barclay, something tiny and mostly covered in black soot, a pice of glass having fused itself to the stubborn metal. Captain's pins, the ripped piece of uniform long having gone up in the blaze.

With everything put out and the medical team now fully in control of the situation, Zosime steps out of the burnt room. Peeling off her mask, she takes a deep breath of unfiltered air, even if it is still filled with the smell of char and smoke. At least it's not bottled. There's going to be a lot of clean up needed, not to mention that at some point they're going to have to figure out what the frak just happened here. Aemilia looks over her shoulder with a deep frown at the remains of the XO's office and then sets about gathering up strewn gear and extinguishers.

The medics linger in the room as they await the arrival of the just-summoned doctors, eyes downcast in reverence for the dead. Three of the four stretchers they'd brought to the scene remain empty, as they must until a doctor can make official what everybody in the gutted XO's Quarters already knows — but the rules must be followed, even in times like this. And so it is that the body of Alec Sarkis lies undisturbed on the ground, his dark eyes glassy as they stare up unblinking at the ceiling, at the stars, for as the Scrolls tell us:

"Never to Stygian shades are the proud and valorous borne. The brave live on, nor shall the cruel Fates bear them o'er the waters of Lethe; but when the last day shall bring the final hour, glory will open wide the path to Elysium."

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