PHD #174: EVENT - The Widening Gyre
The Widening Gyre
Summary: Old hatreds don't die. People do.
Date: 19 Aug 2041 AE
Related Logs: Old Habits
Cora Oberlin Constin Cadmus Trask Evandreus Tisiphone Penelope Sofia Drew Kadena Melpomene NPC Polaris 
The Village of Aigosthena — Jharkand Basin — Sagittaron
The stilts are the first things that catch the eye: two meters tall at their shortest, driven into the ground from the base of every thatched hut and every wooden bridge. For Aigosthena is no different from the other villages in this verdant delta, consigned as she is to the tender mercies of the ancient River Jharkand — and when the river rages, it's an open question as to whether even this feat of human ingenuity is sufficient to meet the storm.
Nearly all of the buildings here are new from their foundations on up, though they're built in an old-fashioned style: for instance, the vast majority of them have been caulked with tar to stave off the rains. Only the ragged antennae and satellite dishes rising up from the largest of the houses suggest that Aigosthena's inhabitants have entered the modern age, and there aren't terribly many of those to be seen. Oh, and the boats: there's a veritable fleet of them moored where the village meets the left bank of the kilometers-wide river, and many of them seem more advanced than the luxury yachts of Virgon.
Post-Holocaust Day: #174

But it's not those boats that draw your attention when the two Raptors set down at the southern approach to the village, but the ones rocking back and forth on the placidly-flowing river. They've been emptied by force, from the looks of it: skeletal carcasses (long since picked clean) rest limply on deck chairs, over railings, in sails — the works. Only the creaking of their still-functioning anchors interrupts the stillness that falls when the Raptors' engines cut out: that and the cawing of some carnivorous seabirds soaring above the river's sun-touched water.

1000 hours, and all's well.

How the frak did /he/ end up in-charge? It was bad enough that he was saddled with 'interim' command of VAQ-141, but now he's responsible for /all/ of the Air Wing representing on this outing. Never mind that he, Evanandreus, and Quinn have more combat flight experience in this region than anyone else in the CVW-14, or that Quinn isn't here because she's (1) not cleared for flight; (2) four-months preggers; and (3) needed aboard the serve to actually be the LSO. Unhappy Trask is unhappy. Mentally, he is furiously fistshaking at Sitka, even as he's busy monitoring the channels and DRADIS while the CMC does what it does with those actually leaving the Raptor.

Evandreus finds someplace flat to settle down just beyond what used to be a major intersection, the tall, stiff grasses bowing under the Raptor and giving the landing the odd sensation one might imagine would come about were the Raptor to get tired and ease itself into a bed, green billowing all around as if to cradle the craft or display it in some sort of holiday basket, even though in reqality the grass underneath is now perfectly flat. SMUSH. "And… we're down," Evan gives the signal that seating restraints can now come off safely, then goes to unlock the hatch controls.

"Move out," comes the barked instruction from Constin to the two fireteams accompanying the 'talking folk'. Kitted out in battledress blacks, with assault rifles slung across their chests, the CMC personnel are positioned with four at the front of the party, and four at the back, eyes constantly moving.

Sawyer is dressed in what survived her stint on Leonis, and the rest of her marine-esque garb has been reissued so that she blends in with the masses once more. Sawyer Averies: War Correspondent is one more on the scene to observe, record, and be a general nuisance to those actually trying to do their jobs. Well, the last is rather open to interpretation, but no doubt there was a grumble or two about the extra liability factor. She spills out with the rest, camera slung around her neck at the ready. There's a hardness, this time, to the lines of her face that is quite over the novelty of touching down on solid ground again.

Seven years away, give or take, and the spot of Ensign Apostolos's return to her homeworld is that of the Aigosthena Massacre. The gods are not only laughing at the prodigal daughter, they are pointing while doing so. Sidearm checked and re-checked, her ill-fitting (yet life-saving) combat armour strapped on as comfortably as it can be, she gives a tense glance over to Sawyer before she steps out with the others into the late morning sun.

Lieutenant Macer, for her part, is tasked with medical support much like the last mission she went on when they went to destroy the Cylon research facility. Awkward pack upon her back and a pistol holstered at her hip, she simply waits only to then move when directed. Decked out in whatever counts as 'field kit' for her - the fatigues and (hopefully!) armor - she looks only marginally less out of lace than before.

Cora blends in with the marines and the rest of the party in those same battle-dress blacks, the only difference being the lack of assault rifle (SIGH). The sidearm that takes its place is checked as she exits the raptor, letting Constin organize the marines as her gaze sweeps over the rest of the party, and then those dead-body-decorated ships.

On her way to disembark, Penelope pauses, her hand caught by the ECO. She gives him a fond smile as her hand is squeezed, kissing the tips of two fingers to him before continuing on her way. It was a lovely little moment, but the warmth of it dies as she steps off the raptor. "Sweet Lady," Penelope invokes her patron goddess, visibly shaken by the floating carnage that greets them up front. She makes a sign against evil, quick checking the radiation strip on her gear.

That poor grass. Once so 3-dimensional, once so verdant and loved. Now flatter than flat. Sofia is among those present, the engineer quietly boggling at it all. People. A touch of envy at a homeworld still habitable. She smiles for a moment at Sawyer. But it's soon good, replaced by a quiet, wide-eyed look as if Sofia might bolt into a hole and watch warily. She follows along obediently, in her armor. No rifle for her, but she watches.

"Don't know if this place looks better…or worse than it did." It's been a distant few weeks since Lt. Oberlin returned from his mission on Leonis, and 'distant' is a very good way to describe the man since he's been back. He hasn't exactly been a social butterfly, content with studying reports and working furiously through PT regimens to get his arm back into shape. He has more or less accomplished this. More or less successfully. His words now are a quiet murmur as he moves on into formation with the troops, his rifle slung about his shoulders.

Drew looks rather unaccustomed to wearing quite so much gear as he currently has loaded about his person, still he seems in rather good spirits as he looks about. The Doctor lacking the alert edginess of those more suited to combat and the sort of joy that comes without having anyone who yet needs to be patched up.

Evandreus looks back over his shoulder to count the ducklings as they leave the hatch one last time, just to confirm. Always know how many ducklings need to be back on board before lifting off. One little, two little, three little— what the? One little duckling stopping to make kissyface at the guy in the backseat has him craning just that little further to make sure he's really got Boots sitting back there. Huh. But there are ducklings to count, so the 'bwuh?' face will have to wait.

Something draws the nurse's eyes and she finds herself veering off in that direction, not straying too far from the others but it should be fairly obvious that something has the medical officer's attention divided. "Hey…" she says to no one in particular while angling her chin in a quick thrust, trying to discretely indicate the tarp off a ways. The actual approaching of said tarp will be left for the Marines.

Sawyer fiddles with a telescopic lens, affixing it to her camera with a little practiced twist before lifting the entire contraption to her eyes. She starts quickly clicking off test shots, capturing various stills of the tree houses, the boats, and…. "What the frak is that?" The journalist lowers the camera, looking to the small digital display screen, then comparing it to a portion of the landscape up ahead. "Marines, look lively. There's something in the road up ahead. Or rather, something -on- the road. It's been mucked with recently." No doubt her warning overlaps a few others, but it's better than keeping the news to herself.

Cora is mostly interested in the village and those boats, though her head swivels to get an eye on any possible hiding spots on their flanks. That tarp is spotted, looked at for a moment, and then she calls, "You got that tarp there, Sergeant Constin?" It's a semi-rhetorical sort of question; he couldn't have failed to miss it after all, could he?

"Huh, a tarp?" Sofia tilts her head. She nods, as the others mention it. She looks thoughtful, following along. She might tag along with the marines to take a look, unless of course, she's shooed off.

"Don't think that was the work of irradiated rats." Oberlin's head swivels a bit at Sawyer's mention of the disturbed landscape. He too focuses his vision in a quick, calculated snap. "Careful with that thing. Uh - I'm not the superstitious type but if there's a place that I'd call 'cursed', this is it."

"On it, sir," Constin answers Cora, paying Sawyer's advice not even the courtesy of acknowledgment. The tarp was already in the metephorical crosshairs as Elf- with the forward fireteam approaches the painted tarp across the road. Walking up to the edge of the plastic sheet, crouching briefly for a closer look at the ground near the edges.

"It's the welcome mat," mutters Tisiphone to Sawyer, zig-zagging around behind the reporter as she paces out and away from the tarp, giving it a /very/ wide berth. "Stomp once before entering, leave yer limbs at the door."

Polaris (Pol) pages Evandreus and Trask: You guys suddenly sense something brush against your flight-suited wrist — a light, gentle touch, like the caress of a beautiful woman's silky soft fingers.

Indeed, it /is/ Bootstrap who is strapped in that back seat. Penelope's smile is returned, somewhat subdued on his lips, but not in his expressive brown eyes. Then, soon enough, both she and the moment are gone. Eyes back on the console, he abruptly blinks in a startled manner a few heartbeats later, glacing at his left wrist. The smile that had subsided briefly returns, as he finds himself thinking about the snipe.

Sofia wants to give the Saggies a hand, but that would just be rediculous. She'll get closer to help look. She could get a leg up in the world, but depending on how things go - okay, enough limb puns. We don't want this to get out of hand after all. It's the sort of gallows humor that comes with the work. She'll follow Cons and kind of peer around, checking to see if she can see disturbed soil under the tarp.

And it's a good thing the Marines investigate, too. The tarp is pulled off to reveal a chasm that's been dug into layers of asphalt, one far too wide to be jumped across safely. Six feet wide and more than ten feet deep, its bottom is lined with crude wooden spikes smeared with what looks to be, quite literally, shit.

Fresh shit.

And such is the cleverness of this contraption that it makes progress into the village quite difficult indeed: the pit's right side is nearly flush against the river, while the land on its left side looks muddy and altogether quite hard to plow through.

Cora follows the marines towards the tarp, maintaining a safe distance until they've investigated enough for it to be clear nothing is about to explode. "Well," she comments dryly when she moves close enough to see what they're facing, "It seems someone heard us coming. What do you suggest, sergeant? The river or the mud?"

Penelope grimaces as she cranes her head, peering into the pit. "Frak all," she murmurs. "That's not just self-defense. That's… malevolence." She places a hand over her hand and mouth, wrinkling her nose at the stench. "That contraption is meant to kill very, very slow."

Constin casts the tarp back and turns a look to Cora as the Lt. approaches behind him. "Found some old Carvers in the dirt at the El-Zee, sir. Not inclined to tempt the mud. Ah'd suggest emptying out one of those boats-" yeah, the ones with corpses inside. "And going around this shithole."

Evandreus is just getting settled in again from his head count, beginning the first of many, many repetitive cycles of checking each system in turn for power-up readiness. He takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly, the maintenance so routine that his own mind wanders faintly— only to have the peaceful moment skewered when he flicks his hand out suddenly and briskly, shaking it for a moment before peering at it as though it had just done that on its own.

Sawyer gets up on her tip-toes to try and peer over shoulders and heads to what the thrown aside tarp reveals. "Anyone know how to pole vault?" She comments rather flatly, then eases down back to flat feet. She seeks out Tisiphone with her gaze, slanting the woman a rather impish smile. "Welcome wagons usually bring pie. Not…sharp implements covered in…" She sniffs and wrinkles her nose. "What /is/ that? Sewage?"

"Careful," Kadena offers once she gets close enough to smell and see what is scattered along the floor of the pit. "Get poked by one and an infection will be the lesser of your worries." Frowning, she darts a glance to the other side, her expression worried.

"That's a crappy way to welcome someone," Sofia frowns. "But I guess it would do the job- or it's a distraction from things placed elsewhere," She considers. She looks around. She wrinkles her nose. "Crude, but kind of effective I guess." Yick.

"Not much use against Centurions, that's for sure, but I'll give them points for the 'simple yet effective' approach." Oberlin's dry voice rings out as he squats downwards. "I wouldn't be sure it's so much sadism, Pen. This is an old trick — making do with simple tools. The Insurgency always was short on firepower. Asymmetrical warfare isn't exactly very nice. Still, we /see/ it. Okay." He reaches out with a gloved hand, covering his nose reflexively with the other, more of an exaggerated gesture than anything else. "What've we got for gear?"

Back aboard the Raptor, the brisk wrist flicking is missed, but the hand shaking does eventually draw Trask's attention. "Y'alright there, Buns? Doesn't quite look like the jazz hands of elation." Being back in this province must surely rouse some deeply unpleasant memories in the ex-Cavaliers.

"I suspect it's more a lack of advanced materials," Cora replies to Penelope before Oberlin says the same thing in more technical terms and she makes a deferring gesture, "As he said. At any rate." Constin's suggestions are considered, those boats looked at for a long moment. "Might as well take a look at them," she decides, "Unless you have a strenuous objection," she asks, turning to look over her shoulder at Oberlin."

Sawyer turns to eye the boats, not seemingly excited about climbing in the death boats. "You know…" Sawyer glances back at Cora. "We could just use one of them to bridge the opening."

Penelope lofts her brows slightly at Oberlin and Cora, clearly taking the darker view. "If you say so," she replies. "It's simple, alright. Simple biological warfare. Smearing the spikes with shit is a little something extra special."

"All else fails, you've always got your own shit to fling, right?" says Tisiphone as she paces restlessly back toward Sawyer. She keeps looking between the Marine fireteams, then to the nearby vegetation. Louder, then: "Pull planks from the boats to bridge the pit, Sergeant? Or- you figure they're seaworthy?"

The boats aren't making things particularly difficult, not when they themselves are already splintered and broken — but they're still sufficiently seaworthy that, with a modicum of effort, they might be convinced to float a few minutes longer before disintegrating around their passengers. All it'd take are a couple of strong folks willing to ford the river — given the absence of a wagon to caulk and float.

Sofia is for her part, quiet, watching and none too thrilled about the death boats. "It's cruel, cheap and effective. Everything you could want in a weapon I guess. I wonder if it's a distraction for a trap put elsewhere," She wrinkles her nose. Then a shrug. She's not really how plotty the folks who placed the trap are. There's a look to the Marines, then Tis and the others. For now, she awaits.

Constin continues addressing others who voice Sawyer's suggestions, answering Tisiphone, "Ah trust wood to float before ah trust it to get stepped on, sir. It's a boat, ah suggest using it like a boat."

"I'm fine," Evan's quick to answer, though careful not to sound snappy as he does it, the two syllables like a little chirp of well-drugged merriment designed especially to convince Trask (and maybe Bunny, as well) that all is good both in the world and inside Evan's head. He stretches out his fingers as if he'd just been working out some manner of cramp. "You doing alright?" he goes on.

So use them as boats they shall. Without further ado, Constin leads the charge into the river, followed as he is by a doughty Viper pilot, a tall and willowy engineer, and a hard-eyed nurse. The water is as muddy as its banks, to the point at which one has to keep one's head above water to see a frakdamned thing. For their sakes, they best have learned to doggie-paddle back in Basic, not that they have terribly far to go — the nearest ship (festooned with skeletons like all the others) is a small rowboat just twenty feet out from the shore.

"As fine as anyone could be in this place," is what the SL wryly murmurs to his pilot. Which, really, is highly open to interpretation. Then, also perhaps to assure himself as much as Bunny that the others will also be 'fine', Trask notes, "Constin was briefed. I gave him all the info on the SSLF that we'd compiled."

Constin pulls out his sidearm and hands it off to Cadmus, before relieving himself of his grenade and assault rifle as well keeping only the jump knife. Wading out into the shallows, swimming unhurried and easily out toward the nearest boat. gripping the edge and peering into the wooden vessel to inspect whether- among all the corpses, there is any water in the bottom of the thing.

Kadena follows along after the others, wrinkling her nose as she feels the water start to flow over her. It's not easy trying to keep the medic's pack that was brought with her and her pistol dry, resulting in an awkward puppy paddle but the boat is eventually reached and the edge clung to.

[TAC1] (from "Bootstrap" Trask) Just as the quartet starts to swim towards the boat, Trask's voice comes over the TAC channel. "Team. Sudden power surge registering some 50 yards northwest of the Raptor." AKA, the ship that the ECO has no visual on. "You seein' anything out there?"

Those who get there first might not recognize what's inside. There are skeletons, sure, most of whom are clothed — including one with a shiny new digital watch that ticks and ticks and ticks — but that assuredly isn't the time it's announcing, because there's no way it can possibly be fifteen seconds from midnight…

Penelope wades in and makes for the boat, cutting through the water with relative ease. Just like the swimming holes back home. Except, perhaps, for the cadavers. She treads water just behind the big marine, letting him get first peek inside. Momma Paris didn't raise no fools.

Aaaand bringing up the rear is a disgusted, already soggy-looking Oberlin as he relieves himself of some of his excess gear before wading his way into the less-than-appetizing(one would imagine) water. "Ugh."

Tisiphone checks her sidearm yet again before leaving it in the loving care of Miss Averies, then fllows the rest of Team Boat into the murky river. She lacks Mother Nature's flotation devices (ahem) and is wearing full battle kit. Her swimming is best described as 'stubbornly refusing to sink beneath the surface of the water'. She treads water not far from Penelope, muttering, "Maybe the mud was a better idea."

"Good." This, from Bunny, still chipper enough, though he's not doing much looking up and out front, keeping his eyes on the controls. "They'll do—" he stops talking when Boots gives his report, only listening out for updates, brows knitting together and lowering attentively as he listens into the channel.

Sawyer doesn't seem overly concerned if Constin is ignoring her directly, quite used to being a civilian in a military environment. "Don't drown." She offers helpfully to the contingency setting off to swim, tucking Tisiphone's sidearm into her belt so she can free her hands to take pictures of the lot as they get up to their neck in river water. "Why am I having MolGen flashbacks?" She wonders aloud to no one in particular.

Somewhere in the middle, it's Sofia! She keeps her gear dry as best as she can. Mercifully, Sofias are bouyant, quiet and attentive. She could be used as a floatation device, alas. She pauses. A look to Sawyer and a hheadtilt.

Crouched near the edge of the mud, Lance Corporal Maragos holds his rifle with the ginger readiness of someone who's not just prepared for something to jump out of the underbrush, but positively *expects* it. He's smeared with mud and greasepaint, as well as a bit of blood splatter, and wears the usual frown he's known for. Trask's comms alert perks him right up, though; the rifle snaps back into aim position. "Nothing good ever came of surprises," he grumbles.

"Wait…" Dena gasps out before, with a sigh, she points out the wires. "Boobytrapped?" Not a demolitions expert, she can only guess but at least she can point them out to those who just might be able to figure out what is going on there.

Cora nods to Constin as he decides upon commandeering a boat or two, taking up an observational position as others brave the water. Trask's com report draws a grimace, and she focuses in on that boat and the personnel swimming up to it, before turning to scan the village again. Somebody's got to be watching them, right?

Tick, tock, tick, tock. Ten seconds to midnight — and yet there's naught a cloud in the sky.

"BOMB!" Tisiphone isn't certain, of course. She's no demolitionist. She'll worry about crying wolf after the fact. If she's wrong. She turns, trying to swim for the shore, driving all thoughts of hydrostatic shock out of her head.

"Hey, there's wires from that watch…" Sofia point sout helpfully. Crewman Obvious on the case, she gently nudges Maragos. "And it's almost midnight. Isn't 12 an important number…?" She pauses. Ticking … wires. Her internal brain hamster runs its wheel a few times. "Um." Uh oh. She pauses. Well, Tis beats her to the punch. Time to get out of the way if she can and she'll take anyone slower than her's hand to get the frak out of the way.

Again with the explosives. "Distance!" Constin barks curtly to the rest of the swimmers. "Dive to the bottom in five seconds!" he instructs sharply. "Four! Three!" he yells to encourage people along their way before following his own advice.

[TAC1] (from "Bootstrap" Trask) Answers are taking far too long for Trask's liking. Some might call it paranoia; he calls it painful familiarity with the way things work in this part of the world. "Team. Sit rep. /Now/."

"I can't believe i — " Whatever other randomly dry, snarky comment Oberlin was going to drop is cut off as something more interesting than the general unpleasantness of going for a swim post-holocaust grabs ahold of his attention. "Hold! That thing could be hot!" Constin's command is echoed as He pretty much turns /tail/. "MOVE MOVE MOVE!"

"SWIM!" Penny shouts, almost simultaneous with the others. "GO GO GO!" She, herself, luches away from the boat — but she succeeds in putting no distance between herself and the craft. It almost looks like something yanks her back by the ankle. She twists, panic registering, face going sheet white, and tries again. With the same lack of results. That leg — whatever it's caught on — is well and truly caught. Penelope Paris… is not going anywhere.

This might be how folks in terrible action movies survive encounters with massive exploding things while in the water: they get under said massive exploding thing, limiting the amount of shrapnel and fire slung every which way by packs upon packs of G-4. Packs upon packs of G-4 like those currently lining the gap between the boat's inner and outer hulls, all of which explode when that dreadful timer reaches twelve midnight exactly. A tremendous geyser of displaced water and shredded wood shoots upwards into the air while a series of powerful shockwaves slam into the river, the force of which impacts Sofia and Oberlin and sends the two of them drifting toward the bank sore but alive. Tisiphone and Constin are lucky enough to avoid that fate, having dived with remarkable abandon — but their reward is to see Penelope's flailing legs before they and her and the anchor cable to which her armor has become lodged evaporate in a shower of red and white.

And as for that pit? How handy that a long, thin plank of wood impales the ground directly in front of Cora and Sawyer, perfectly suited for the task at hand.

Silver linings, right?

Things like the word 'BOMB' drifting back to the shore, and the sight of all the swimmers suddenly fleeing the immediate area of the boat really should have given Sawyer more warning that a big BaddaBOOM was about to occur. Still, Sawyer stands there in a mild state of shock, eyes wide, before she has the sense of mind to crouch where she stands, throwing one arm over her behelmeted head to protect it and the other cradles her camera to her chest to do likewise. As the deafening sound quiets to a dull roar in her ears, she dares to peek out and around the wobbling piece of board that's now imbedding just in front of her. "Frakking boobytraps." And with that, she starts to count people…and comes up one short.

Unlike in terrible action films, wherein she would be running in slow motion towards the scene of the blast in horror at what is about to occur, only to then get blown flat on her back, lightly scratched in some photogenic spot but otherwise unharmed, Cora just sort of stands and watches. It all happens so quickly that she's still in the process of clicking on her com to reply to Trask's demand for a report when there are shouts and diving and Penelope getting stuck and then blown to bits. The lieutenant just sort of stares and flinches, then ducks with Sawyer into a slightly belated crouch, just in time to avoid the board quivering in the dirt in front of her. "Frak," she breathes as she straightens, informing the counting Sawyer, "Paris. She was stuck."

Evandreus is starting to get a little anxious, himself. The duckings are out of the hatch and out of sight, and now, no word, not even on a call for sitrep. He opens his mouth and takes in a short breath of air in preparation to give some input on the next course of action, when a sudden explosion in the distance leaves the air idling in his lungs. He sits, statue-still, for a second, before he's on the comms.

"Clear the area, wait, PEN, G — " Oberlin snaps as he makes the cardinal sin of looking back. Never look back when you're running away, you know? That just slows you down and gives you horrible nightmares. His own scream is cut off as he is sent flying a little by the bomb blast, and he hits the shore -hard-. There's a loud 'thud' as he faceplants onto the soil.

As the explosion tears through the air, Cadmus lifts one arm to shield his face - to no real avail, as the armored jacket and armplates aren't too good at stopping water and mud. The net result is an MP only slightly dirtier than before. "Frakking Lords," he grunts, standing. There's no thought given to the lucky survivors - or the one unlucky one, really. He's just looking at those trees, that horizon, the river, all the while inching closer to the ground. "Nobody gets lucky timing like that unless they have eyes on us," he says to no one in particular.

[TAC1] "Bunny" Evandreus says, "Guys… guys, is anyone out there? Can anyone hear this? Please sound off."

Penny- Noo. Sofia doesn't have much time to mourn before she's slammed by a shockwave. So much for built in cushioning. She squawks and thuds alongside Oberlin, more the noise of air being knocked out of her than anything else. But eventually she makes it towards the bank. But sadly, she doesn't have much time to celebrate, hearing about Penny. Penny, no. Sofia twitches a little. Another engineer. Ren, the others. It's all playing over and over again. When will /her/ number come up? She just stays on the ground for now. "Someone should respond to that call…" But she doesn't seem eager to do it herself. She's quietly stunned, wide eyes in horror. Penny, Ren, Robin, names spiraling into particles, letters and dust. There's only a shiver and the memory that Trask and Penny smiled at one another once. There's a little weight in her stomach, like she swallowed a stone. Then, a single sniffle.

Tisiphone glances back as her mental timer ticks from three to two, to see Penelope no further from the boat than she had been. Pale eyes go bleak and sick as she shouts back, "Get under!" before diving deep into the silty, murky riverbottom. It might be safer there than above the river's surface, but the show is far less pleasant. It's not until debris and sparks are spattering down across the river and shoreline that she re-emerges, sputtering in a breath and floundering back to shore. "Bomb," she sputters into the comms, very belatedly answering Trask. "Was a- bomb."

[TAC1] Cora says, "Bunny, this is Cora. The boat they were investigating was rigged to explode. I think we lost Paris, still checking on the others."

Drew stares for just a moment after the explosion, jaunty day happily planetside with fresh (if somewhat feces scented) air having been quite totally disrupted. Still he is quickly moving to shore to offer a helping hand to any seeking to leave the water, looking over those who were close to the blast with a critical eye to assess any injuries.

It's Kadena the doctor has to treat first, judging from the lifeless way her small and unconscious frame hits the bank. Her body armor is torn in various places but fortunately, no blood seems to be gushing from her body. Except the blood on her head — but that, fortunately, isn't hers.

Sawyer levels a look at Cora at the explanation, her face just sort of…devoid of any real emotion. She just sort of nods, then releases her camera to hang by its strap. A small notepad is taken out of a pocket, notation is made, and then it's slipped away. "Looks like we'll be taking the bridge route." Pencil eraser gets jabbed at the convenient sized board.

Constin comes up from the bottom several seconds after the shockwave hits from above, pushing off the muddy bottom to take a breath of air, shaking his head sharply to clear the water from his eyes. The sergeant doesn't take a headcount just yet before bellowing back at the shore crew, "Where's the spotter?" Only then does he take the reluctant look around to see if they were lucky enough to only lose one in the blast.

Cora reports into the comms before nodding at Cadmus, "Agreed, they're watching us from somewhere. I haven't been able to spot one yet, though." She does another scan of the area as she moves towards the shoreline, calling back to Sawyer, "Looks that way." She avoids where Drew works on Kadena and heading instead towards the others. None appear to be bleeding, that's a plus. "Anybody badly hurt?" she asks, "Let's get you guys out of the water." She offers a hands to Tisiphone and Sofia first, turning back to shake her head at Constin, "Haven't found him yet. The other ship or one of the buildings would do, up on stilts like that they've got a decent view."

"Can't see him, El. There's nothing out there, but… Yeah, we got eyes on us, even if I can't see 'em. I figure we have about one, maybe two minutes before they fall back and set something else up for us, if they haven't already," Cadmus calls out, glancing toward Constin. He quickly unlimbers himself of the Sergeant's sidearm, drop knife, and grenades, tossing them back to the larger man. "We're pretty frakking exposed here, sir. We can expect sniper fire from a flanking position any time now."

Drew lowers himself down into a crouch beside the nurse, checking Kadena's vitals quickly and frowning while he does so. Motioning over two of the nearby burly marine sorts standing watch he says, "She's suffered a concussion. Carry her back to the Raptors and ask that they make her comfortable, she doesn't need to go back to base camp immediately but she won't be moving about under her own power for a bit."

"Wai — wait, sorry, sir, what?" The suddenness of the blast seems to have unnerved the young Marine Drew now addresses. But when his pal fills him in, the big corporal nods and leaps into the river to obtain another plank. It's on another piece of flotsam that Kadena is carried back to Trask's Raptor, deposited near the ECO by grim-faced soldiers who make sure not to look the man in the eye.

Polaris (Pol) pages Trask: You feel it hardcore, now. This time, beneath the hardseal of your helmet. The tickling of what seems to be a hand — gentle, like Penelope's — across your neck before it drifts down to your chest, then vanishes.

"Ugh." There's more grunting on Oberlin's part as his scraped, bruised face as he starts to slowly, weakly push himself up from the bank. His arms are shaky and he doesn't quite make it. Collapsing back down again against the rocks he squirms a bit, twisting his neck to look back as he comes to. "That. It doesn't make any sense. She was on Leonis. She lived. We all lived." He mumbles.

Tisiphone accepts the hand out with a sodden nod of thanks to Cora. She mops at her head, then shakes her arms out, and finally hawks and spits off to the side to clear the taste of brackish water from her mouth. Trudging over toward Sawyer, she reaches a hand out — presumably for her sidearm — and utters, "Ding-dong. Welcome Wagon." Her fingertips tremble as they wait there, paused in midair.

Constin trudges out of the water, accepting back his weaponry from Cadmus, even as he hears the reports with a scowl. "Sir," he drawls to Cora, "That pit ain't a damn bit of good against cylons. They're looking to kill people. They had eyes on us, so they know we're Colonial. That means they're looking to kill us. All due respect, ah recommend return to base and letting them rot."

Sofia is bruised, battered and more than a little stunned. She just stares blankly a moment. Why is she alive, but not Penny? It never seems fair, does it? If only one life could be traded for another, like a metaphysical card. She just /stares/ at Cora a moment, as if there were answers there. But there's none, nothing but blood and remains. She just meekly accepts a hand. "I'm-" What? What are you? Alive? Yes. There's that. But mostly. "Not too hurt." A satisfactory answer, even if only partly true. She just stands with a wobble and coughs. Yick, water. Who needs lungs at this mooment? There's a deep sigh. So many awful thoughts, churning like a cruel parody. "I wonder if they know about skinjobs. But then… I guess hate is the slowest emotion of all to die," She considers thoughtfully. If only to chase away memories of Penny and her last moments there. But it's not that easy, like the taste of some awful medicine returning to taunt moment after moment. It's all quite bitter.

[TAC1] (from "Bootstrap" Trask) Whereas the Bunny is soft and fluffy in his tone, Bootstrap, now right and well pissed-off, comes on the coms with the verbal equivalent of a curbstomp. "Sit. Rep. NOW." Timing leaves it so that what Tisiphone relays is bulldozed over. Cora's words, however, register. There is a long moment of silent. When he again speaks, it is with an intense amount of levelness in his voice, as though the tension might shear his vocal cords. "Mission aborted. RTB /immediately/. I say again, mission aborted." Beat. "And you sure as frak make sure you have /all/ our people." That last is practically growled.

Sawyer slips the pilot's gun out of her belt, handing it over butt first. "I'd offer you a towel, but all I have is a wet-nap." Ah, the ironies of life. Once Tisiphone takes her gun back, the Reporter reaches up to get a sodden twig off of the shorter woman's shoulder.

Cora helps the blasted to their feet, and then looks back to Constin, nodding, "Unless we can get a bead on whoever's out there—" Trask's message over comms cuts off her sentence to tap hers on and reply, giving the marines another moment to find the spotter.

[TAC1] Cora says, "Trask, that's not your call. If this mission is aborted, it will be when I say so. Hold for further report."

Help … me. Help me? Help me! Sofia pauses. Her eyes widen. "… hey. Am I hearing voices again?" If it weren't so tragic, it'd be vaguely funny. She turns and points. "I hear… I hear someone crying out in pain in there for help. I wonder if it's another trap or if someone is really hurt," She states. Her voice is oddly soft and flat, as if part of Sofia just /withdrew/ to cope with the horror she just witnessed. As it sits, there's water in her eyes that doesn't seem to be river water and once she stops speaking, she's just still. Dead and numb, probably reliving something.

"I - uh…Maybe they did. They could have seen the Replicants. Maybe that was what this was about." Oberlin's voice chimes in a little distantly after Sofia speaks. "I can't imagine anything else. I don't want to…" He seems slightly in shock here, even as he scrambles to his feet. "There's someone out there all right. These are classic tactics though." Looking thoroughly beaten up and miserable, he turns over towards Cora. "We going to reply to our 'friend' over there?"

"El Tee!" shouts the Lance Corporal, looking toward Cora. Cadmus drops his ready hand from the front of his GMAR, one finger lancing out toward the tarred hut adjecent to a rickety shack painted a peeling sky-blue. "Someone's in that house. Sounds like they're frakked up, too," he says, pulling the rifle back up to read with a glance at Constin. The silent question is there: 'We going?' is what his body language is asking. Indeed, his gun barrel is already listing to the left, as if it knows he's going to move to flank opposite Constin.

"I hear it," Cora replies, maybe to Sofia or Cadmus or maybe just in general. When the lance corporal pin-points the exact location she follows his indication, looking the place over as she considers. "I see no reason not to expect that's a trap," she remarks, and then turns, beckoning at Tisiphone, "Apostolos." When the pilot is nearer, she suggests, "Shout something back to them in Sagittaran, let's see what happens then."

[TAC1] (from "Bootstrap" Trask) Cora is ignored, if what Trask says next is any indication. "Oberlin. Sound off. You're the se — " Whatever Oberlin is, it's cut off by a sudden, labored gasp, as though the ECO just had the wind knocked out of him.

Sawyer is, meanwhile, trying to get that board dislodged from the bank while the others discuss whether or not they're actually going to cross it.

Tisiphone coughs again while she re-checks her sidearm — how many times until she's certain it's Good To Go, anyway? — and sticks it back into its holster with a wet squelch. "Uh?" she replies, helpfully, to Cora's instruction. She's looking a little stunned, still. After a few seconds: "Oh. Yeah. Sure." She trudges forward, clearing her throat a couple times as she shouts toward the house.

[TAC1] Oberlin grunts, clearly sounding somewhat in shock. "Not now, Trask. Not now." Last name and all. That's it.

Constin turns his head sharply at that muffled cry for help, eyeing the same house Cadmus indicates as the being the point of origin and sharing a wary glare with the Lance Corporal. He's voiced his opinion to the Lt, that's all there is for an Enlisted to do for now. He holters the pistol again, and readies the GMAR, ready in case Cora decides this is worth checking out.

Sofia closes her eyes, as if looking into the sun. She moves to help Sawyer if the reporter likes. She seems to wobble a second taking a step. She scowls at her foot briefly, as if inwardly commanding it to do what the frak it's supposed to. She closes her eyes a moment, then reopens them. Her head is not feeling happy.

Tisiphone's plea receives no response. The man who called out has fallen silent, though whether it's out of fear or recognition, one really can't say.

There's a long, long pause as Oberlin stumbles once as he tries to move towards anything that can provide him a bit of stability as he stands still. And then he adds to the conversation, quite suddenly, in Saggitaran himself. It's pretty good even if it lacks Tisiphone's native poise: "We're also not here as enemies. We've got supplies. The Cylons have — retreated."

Maybe being irked works in Sawyer's favor as, with gritted teeth and a grunt, she yanks the board out of the ground and crosses the few feet over to the edge of the pit. "I got it." She huffs quietly at Sofia and her wobbling. The journalist is either careful, or lucky, with not slipping in the mud as she plants her foot sideways, braces the bottom of the board against it, and then lets it fall neatly across the gap.

Those Marines wanting to avoid eye contact with the Harriers' SL succeed, if only by the virtue that he abruptly shudders as he feels something brush his neck beneath the hard seal of his flight helmet. Gentle as the sensation is, it's utterly unmistakable. Down Trask's chest, it drifts, then vanishes, taking his breath with it. By the time Macer is deposited in the Raptor, he's steadying himself against his console.

Still nothing from the man even after Oberlin shouts.

As for the marines by Trask? They're backing away very, very slowly. The ECO's o-face is not something in which they are at all interested.

Polaris (Pol) pages Trask: The feeling returns, but only briefly. Lingering slightly — and then, it drifts up and away.

Kneepad squelching in the mud, Cadmus adjusts his crouch as the reflex sights on his rifle continue to sweep the village. "Time, El Tee," he says, voice gravelly, "I'm not hearing much back from that house. We need a decision." He seems blissfully ignorant, for good or ill, of Trask's face and fit, occupied as he is with the other direction.

Cora lets Tisiphone and Oberlin make their attempts, and waits thirty seconds or so for a response before nodding, "All right, sergeant, let's get everybody out of here. I'm curious, but…I can't see any good reason to go further."

Evandreus would very thoroughly be endeavoring to help his SL and best friend, if he weren't tied to his consoles, keeping everything on point. "Boots… Boots! Are you okay?" he calls back, trying not to sound frantic.

The only kind of o-face that Bootstrap is making is the 'oh shit, something is very, VERY wrong here' face. There's no verbalized reply to Evan. Merely a pained expression of instinctive comprehension of the worst kind.

Trask does not need a sit rep to know that Penelope Paris won't even be going home in a body bag.

There it is — Cora's orders are given, and just like that the Marines are moving to go, shouldering their weapons as they prepare to hike through more mud to the Raptors sitting beyond —

Until, suddenly, from the ground beside the pit there rises first one human figure, then two, then two more, until fully fifteen men and women emerge from trenches — trenches?! — dug beneath the heavy sodden clay. Long, hollow reeds dangle from their mouths, spit out in unison — and then, with what looks like a smile underneath a mess of dark, wet clay, the long-limbed woman closest to the Colonials flicks off the safety of her weapon.

"That," she murmurs, voice smooth as velvet, "be a very. Good. Decision."

Drew hears nothing! Nothing! And thus without calls for help to draw the Doctor's attention he is instead looking desperately about at those trying to respond to said calls in an effort to get some grasp of what is going on. His gaze eventually falls on Oberlin, eyes drifting down one arm and he advances in that direction. "How are you feeling? You were near to the explosion as well, it's looking like you might have suffered some injuries from the force of the blast."

"It's just like being back on this godsforsaken b—" Oberlin doesn't finish his sentence, and snaps out of whatever else he was going to say. "I don't feel good." He states, plainly. And it's pretty obvious why. His face starts to show maybe some more cuts and bruises than it did. Or rather, his face, and whatever exposed skin can be seen is bleeding. Blackening. It looks — unhealthy.

Sofia nods at Sawyer. "Okay," Sofia doesn't smile for now. She's sort of in a daze still, having to close and open her eyes. "Hey… is it just me or did the ECO just sound kind of fu—" She nods at Oberlin. There's a quiet moment of consideration. Why is everything tilting? Tilting. Stupid Sagittaron and its tiltiness. She has to squint again a moment, putting her hands out as if reaching for something that isn't there. "…" Blink. She turns, just in time to notice the woman and stares owlishly. "Um." Wobble. She's torn in a million pieces. Disgruntled Saggies, one lost Penny, her own injuries that she's trying desperately to ignore (It's really getting to be a complex at this point) … everything. "Hi." She finally manages, before deciding to just kneel for a moment. It's all lost on her for now.

Sawyer is still standing near the pit, having just plunked the makeshift bridge into place when the others start popping out of the ground. She just freezes, hands in a neutral position until she hears Oberlin's voice behind her. Twisting, she looks back at him, eyes wide and aghast. "What did you do to him?" She demands of the woman who seems to be the voice piece. "What did you do to /them/." She quickly amends, as Sofia goes knee-bent.

As the locals emerge from their trenches, Constin gives Cora an instant's sidelong look, giving the woman a narrow window of opportunity to give the officer her chance to speak, before bringing the assault rifle that is slung across his chest up to its ready position with the butt to his shoulder.

That? Was reflex.

Cora's sidearm is lifted automatically when she hears an unfamiliar voice, and she turns towards the woman appearing out of the mud. There is, however, no assault rifle pointed at her, so she lowers her weapon, if not her guard. "Who are you?" she demands, "And what-" a sideways glance at the bl— blackening?? Oberlin and then back to Mud Woman: "And what is happening to him?"

Drew ignores the girls and the guys and the guns as he looks over Oberlin, making a half circle around the man and reaching out to press a finger against his skin for a moment and frowning at the darkening that occurs as it is pulled away. "You'll be ok, but we need to get you off your feet and under proper care away from here. Quickly." A glance towards Cora and he states, "He has internal injuries from the blast. He's bleeding out from the inside. We need to get him out of here."

Shit has gone from kinda normal to incredibly bizzare in about twenty seconds flat. Cadmus is frozen in place, though he does seem somewhat concerned with Sofia and Sawyer remaining unharmed - so they're kind of covered, though the barrel is not *directly* aimed down on anyone just yet. In the moment's calm, he spares a glance back toward the Raptor, where Trask and Oberlin do not do anything to reassure him that this is all 'ok'. "Well, shit. And today, I didn't bring along any prayers to Asclepius…" he whispers. "Ares, don't you let me get wasted without a fight…"

Up goes Constin's rifle — and fifteen rifles rise to meet him, sighted and aimed with near-expert precision. "That," the woman says coldly, "be not." Mud drips down her face and neck, revealing skin tanned from years in the bush. "Listen to your doctor, Colonial. Go along your way. These toys be not meant for you." Eyes locked on Cora flick over to take in the rest of the group, one hand gesturing expansively at the village and the river beyond. "Just for him." And from a house nearby there comes the sound of a door slamming open — to reveal four more insurgent fighters leading before them a blindfolded man of indeterminate age, his naked body bleeding from where he's been whipped (which at this point just might well be everywhere). "We be letting him run, soon." Her heavily-accented voice drips with something akin to hatred. "Blood for blood. That be the way."

The sickly, nigh-disgusting form of Oberlin suddenly wheezes a thin, wracking laugh, his blackened face contorting around him as his face displays a rictus of pain. "Shoma chetur hastin, friends?" This is directed towards the — slightly restless natives. "Are we really pointing guns at each other?" After all that's happened in the past few minutes, the normally level-headed Officer seems to have lost his grasp of cultural relativism. It happens.

Sawyer runs her tongue along the bottom curve of her lip, wetting a mouth that's daring to go dry. "If that's the case," Obviously referring to the 'blood for blood' comment, "You're a few up on us. We were just coming to /help/, even if it was just to bring news of the Colonies outside of your little bubble here." Brazen, they name is Sawyer. "How can we /save/ him?" Sawyer is pointedly /not/ looking at the blackening Oberlin, lest she lose her bluster and her lunch.

Drew states firmly, "We don't have /TIME FOR THIS/. You can't have a shootout because I need men alive to get him away from here." An arm moves to help support Oberlin and he's turning that same terribly determined expression on the villagers, "And I don't know what issues you have but we're not here to hurt you. We're here to help. Even if you have a Doctor of your own they have to be running short of supplies and equipment. Kindly defuse your booby traps the next time so I can at least get a look at your sick without all this idiocy getting in the way."

Cora glances at Oberlin again, and then back to the natives, a faintly tic of her lip as Sawyer speaks. "We're not here for… toys," she replies, jerking her chin towards the village, "We're here to rescue survivors of the cylons' nuclear attacks. If you'd prefer not to be rescued but to stay here and eventually starve or die of radiation poisoning, that's fine with us. We'll be on our way, just as soon as you tell us what's happening to him right now." Him being Oberlin, at whom she gestures.

Wobble. She looks worried about Oberlin, even if Sofia is riding in the same metaphorical boat. Sofia is content not to be poked at though - right about now… curling up seems like a good idea, and she does so.

"What's the word, El-Tee?" Constin's even words ask of Cora, without looking away from the target, or lowering his gun at the multiple threats levelled upon him in return. Good old predictable marines: aiming to shoot until told to stand down. still without looking away, he barks sharply, "Everybody not the Cee-Oh, cut the chatter."

Looking left, toward Constin, and then right, toward Cora, Cadmus begins to chuckle under his breath. It's a dry, bleak laugh - the wracking crack of someone who's just plain *had enough*. And he looks at that leader, the woman who's living in this muddy world so different from Cerberus's, searching her face as if the clues to some unasked question must be written there. He even lifts his rifle, so as to have it pointed further away from them.

"He be bleeding," says the woman, whose cold eyes evince a detached sort of curiosity as they focus on Oberlin's face and hands. "From the insides. He be getting to close to a bomb, no?" A harsh, guttural laugh sends mud flying from her face toward the Colonial soldiers arrayed before her. "I be seeing it before on my people too, when the bombs be yours." There's poetry in that, at least as far as she's concerned.

The naked man, for his part, raises his eyes to the Colonials just beyond the pit — silently pleading as he's dragged closer and closer to the chasm the team just recently uncovered.

"Frak a bunch of this," utters Tisiphone, suddenly, on the heels of Drew's words. "Blood for blood? These toys you didn't mean for us just tore Penny apart at the frakking hips and you're-" Her words cut off like a switch was flicked when Constin barks. She stalks toward Drew and Oberlin, to help get him back toward the Raptor. "If you die, I'll frakking kill you," she informs the spook, under her breath, as she nears.

No, Sofia is fortunately, not as bad off. But at the reminder of Penny's fate, her expression is blank. She just looks thoughtful. "I'm sorry," She sits up after a long moment. She looks to the poor man. "What did he do?" She blurts out. It doesn't seem quite right to throw a guy into a poo stake pit. But Penny… No. She just shakes her head.

Despite all that is transpiring, the Raptor remains incommunicado. From their vantage, though, they probably should be seeing what is happening.

Sawyer eyes the muddy woman one more time before she turns from the pit altogether. Never mind the naked man being prodded towards the gapping hole. She shoots Constin a look, and then moves towards the crumbled Sofia. "C'mon, baby. Let's get you back to the ship." That was Cora's last standing order, afterall, and she doesn't seem concerned about the guns at her back (even if they are pointed elsewhere). Chalk it up to civilian stupidity or stubbornness.

"Get him back to the raptors now," Cora instructs Drew, "Oberlin, go. Wolfe too." With Tisiphone helping, she turns back to mud woman and the man about to be tossed into the pit. She jerks an elbow towards him and asks her: "Is that the captain? The one from Aera Pona? We didn't come for him, you know."

Drew looks grateful for the assistance, nodding in greeting to Tisiphone as she draws near. "Thank you. We need to hurry. Once we get him back and immobile there is a lot more I can do." To Oberon then he firmly states, "You're going to be fine. Just hold on and try to keep conscious while we get you back."

Cadmus snorts, and finally turns his gaze from the muddy woman, looking instead to the wounded man. Stepping back pace by pace, he drops the rifle back to ready, though again off-center from any living targets. "A whole system full of dead men, and we shoot each other because it's what we know how to do best. What a frakking joke," he whispers, sparing a wink for the Saggie commander after a moment of silence. Once he's even with Cora and Constin, he stops again, waiting. He opens his mouth, about to shout to the woman, but stops, after looking at Constin again.

Hard gaze settles on Tisiphone, whose voice is processed, filed, and — recognized. "Ahhh," the woman breathes. "Khosh'amadid, pretty girl." Welcome in Sagittaran, if anybody happens to speak the local dialect. Up and down that Colonial body armor those pale eyes go, until with a sad cruel smile she turns away. "You cannot be coming home again. Hmm?"

Whatever else she has to say is forestalled, for now, when the Colonials move to bring their wounded back to the Raptors. With a sharp snap of her figures a few of her fighters break off from the main pack, always maintaining what numerical advantage they have over the Marines with Big Guns. Shadowing the soldiers from the mud — making sure they don't try anything funny.

"And Aera Pona?" Somehow it sounds more authentic coming from her tongue than Cora's. "No. That one be finished. This one? This be McCrae." Now that's a word that doesn't sound at all natural. "Mister Eleon McCrae." The name is accompanied by a ritual gesture of warding from the hand that's not on her gun. "Five hundred souls he be sending to the Ferryman — "

"You lie!" the man bellows, before the butt of a whip comes down hard on his shoulders to send him to his knees, his head hanging precariously as the smell of stool overwhelms him.

"Five hundred souls," the woman repeats, as if she heard nothing. "It be a pity he has but one to give."

Without looking away from the lady on the other end of his sights, Constin is blissfully unaware of sharp or exasperated looks among the rest of the Colonial party. No shooting having broken out yet, he doesnt feel it neccessary to give the marine team any further instruction. This is where the talking folk get to talk.

"Your logic with that one is flawed." Oberlin smirks a pained little fraction of a smirk towards Tisiphone woozily. "Nah. I'm not going anywhere until this is resolved. I'm — standing here an extra five minutes won't kill me. Right? I mean.." He leans towards the medic. "This is really how you spend your last days, huh. This was worse than Aera Yazd. I wonder if they've figured out that if they try anything stupid what kind of firepower we have." He starts to say something else but the general pain and disorentation of his state overtake him.

"But … that poor guy … that's a horrible way to go …" But then, the village. Sofia reels. "He's worse off than me," Sofia notes. She looks worried, at Sawyer. "You'll miss this… I guess I can go back, but-" She's worried about Sawyer missing seeing this and that poor guy who gets butted with the whip and everything is just so surreal, she's half waiting for Rejn to ride by naked on a giraffe or something. No, it's a dream but it isn't. The scents remind her all too much. But Penny… what could be taken home of her? She just stands for a moment. "I'll go back but, you should probably see this. But- that poor guy." But. So many buts. Either way, Sofia will eventually allow herself to get shoo'd or weebled off.

"Ahh, of course," Cora nods, "I see why you brought him here." That's right, she read up on the place. She glances at McCrae without apparent sympathy and turns back to shrug at the woman, "We didn't come for him either. You do know that the cylons were the ones that nuked this planet, yes? They hit every colony. This planet is being destroyed by radiation, and it will get here soon enough. We're here to pick up survivors and take them back to the fleet. If you want to stay, we won't interfere with you."

"Everything's gone, you know? Everywhere. Everyone. Rubble and dust and the radiation's going to eat you from the inside out come winter and you greet us with this. Cylons building prison camps, cutting us apart and filling us back up with their metal AND YOU GREET US WITH THIS." They're Tisiphone's words, a tangle and snarl of angry Sagittaran, gutteral knots of consonants tangled over eachother, louder and louder as she continues to carry Oberlin away, with Drew's assistance.

Back in the Raptor, the marines who brought Macer have since arranged the concussed nurse into a suitable position for transport. A rather fretful Bunny is hovering next to Bootstrap, who looks as though he is on the verge of vomiting. There's a flush to his light tan skin, as well as a sheen of sweat. Visceral responses for the emotionally repressed are a special kind of agony. It's potent enough that his helmet came off some time ago, as if that might somehow help in steadying his breathing. It doesn't appear to be working very well.

Sawyer lends an arm to Sofia, not dissuaded from escorting Sofia back towards the ship. "Nonsense. I don't need a front row seat to the laughing stock that is the end of humanity to be able to write about it. It'll be short and sweet 'And the Gods wept'. Simple enough. I really should consider going into fiction…"

"Back to the Raptors" Drew states firmly, not slowing in the least his haste to get Oberlin away from here and back to the ships. Towards the injured man he says, "I know it's a heck of a show, boats and booms and pretty ladies with muddy guns but we're not sticking around for any more of it. One foot after the other and if you can't walk we're carrying you out of here."

"How fierce the pretty one be." The tall woman smiles a mocking, sardonic smile as she strides forward to place the butt of her rifle on the man's trembling neck — before with one gentle, almost seductive push he tumbles forward, his bloodied body rolling down shit-slicked sides. His landing is announced by a shriek of agony as a spike pierces his thigh. And above it all there comes the drone of so many voices — all of them singing an ancient hymn to Nemesis Inescapable.

"So be it done," the woman intones, bringing the short ceremony to a close — watching the Colonials go with those eerie pale eyes. "And spare yourselves this talk. We know the Cylon. We know the Cylon better than you, for the scourge of the Gods they be — come to return to the pure and faithful the home that be theirs. So take your ship, Defilers — take your ship and leave this place." Ever so subtly, her voice shifts from one of reverence to one of command, and at last she levels her gun at the retreating soldiers. "And if you be here still when tomorrow's dawn be broken, know this: Melpomene shall be finding you, and then — " A wicked, certain smile.

"And then we be playing for not his lives but yours."

It's with great sadness, that Sofia hears that shriek. No. They couldn't stop it. Save him. There's another blow. How she loathes being helpless. "How awful," She whispers. There's tears in her eyes. She just shivers and nods at Sawyer, taking the arm. "That sounds about right," Is all she whispers and lets herself be lead away, water now running from her eyes unchecked. Too much death for one day, in such awful ways.

Cadmus slings his rifle at long last, rising out of his crouch; several joints pop and groan in protest of the long time spent hunched over. Scraping some of the mud from his right kneepad, he closes his fist around it, so that it squishes out between his fingers. "Dike watch over you," he mutters toward the chasm. As he begins to back up, though, he points at the pale-eyes Saggitaran woman, and then loops his index finger and thumb in a circle before his eye, as if to gesture "Be seeing you" to her. But go he does, back toward that raptor and away from the man in agony.

There's a hitch in Sawyer's giddy-up, just the faintest of pauses in her step, as she hears that shriek of pain rise up behind her. All she can do is shift to sling her arm around Sofia's shoulders, squeezing the ailing woman closer to her frame and lending some comfort where this planet is otherwise devoid. "And the gods wept." Sawyer repeats, quieter, and trudges off towards the ship.

Cora watches impassively as McCrae is tipped into the pit, watching the woman who carries out the sentence all the while. "If you think the cylons are the scourge of the gods you don't know them at all," she replies, tone conversational, but dry, "They believe in one god only, and they'll be the death of you all soon enough. Say hello to your sisters for us, Melpomene. If the cylons spared any of them." She tips the rebel something of a salute and orders, aloud and into the com, "Fall back, all. Return to raptors. Raptors, prepare to RTB."

Polaris (Pol) pages Trask: And as you fly out, you feel one last brush — this time against the fabric of your pants, down your thigh, until it reaches your ankle. And then .. it's gone.

And suddenly, inexplicably, wracked with pain, Oberlin rings out a hoarse laugh. "This is — GODS I love this place. Hauck was right." And just like that, his head lolls to one side as his eyelids flutter closed, and then open.

Constin's stern stonefaced stare down the sights of his gun did not relax throughout the grisly ordeal, nor does his expression crack or flicker at 'Melpomene's speech. Cora's exchange and eventual declaration of TRB is what at last causes the sergeant to let the gun hang, as the Colonials withdraw. He says nothing while the Saggitarions are within earshot.

Merry and disdainful laughter cuts through the air when Cadmus does his thing. "Safar bekheir," calls Melpomene, if that is indeed her name, and her tongue licks mud from her lips — for they must be clean to deliver the traditional benediction upon the departure of any ship. "May the Zephyrs themselves be guiding you to the stars."

And long after the Raptors leave, Melpomene and her friends will remain, standing watch around the edge of the pit until the chariot of mighty Helios dips at last beneath the waves — until cawing birds descend upon the living carcass — until the man they've murdered twitches once, twice, and no more, and it is as the poet said:

"The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity."

This is the way the world ends.

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