PHD #002: EVENT - Virgon's Coffin
Virgon's Coffin
Summary: A recon to Virgon reveals the blood of millions, plus one.
Date: 2.28.2041
Related Logs: In Hope of Answers, Search Party; followed by Counting Coffin Nails
Quinn Trask Stavrian Oberlin NPC 

Virgon Airspace
Storyteller: Tillman

After taking off and getting situated with everyone in their suits, Cerberus has cleared Raptor Five Oh Five outbound for their leg back to Virgon's orbit. Armed with a set of rocket pods on each end, the ship is about as ready as it could be for anything it might face. The Cerberus slowly glides along behind them with the Praetorian and Corsair running a protective shield.

Captain Quinn has been through her pre-flight checks. She even, on very strict Major's orders, managed to get a few hours sleep. This wasn't a mission for someone without a sense of mind about them. So she's here, mostly awake and alert eyed, flying as smoothly as ever towards a jump point a safe distance away from the Cerberus. She looks briefly back towards her ECO, "Everything checks out… Jump fully plotted. Your board green, Bootstrap?" The normal easy relaxation between them is just a hint more tense than usual. At least from her end. Tonight is above and beyond the call of duty.

Tugging a bit at the slightly unfamiliar confines of his flight suit, Oberlin is trying his best to not look like a fish out of water. "When the Captain ran the prospect of a Raptor ridealong by me, I never thought it would be like this." He mutters, seated in back, now tapping the weight of the sidearm strapped at his side. No doubt he had someone doublecheck his suit fittings, got his radiation injections, helped install the Raptor's surveillance package, and — yeah. He's been a fairly busy bee, all things considered.

"Greener than a cadet fresh outta th'academy," is the reply from said ECO. "Spooled an' ready to jump at will, Jugs." Trask also managed to get some sleep, as well as a bit of food and a frakton of caffeine, although the source of said caffeine has mostly since been expelled in the 'little boys room'. To Oberlin, he adds, "The G-Grav fraX0rz come later."

There were meant to be two medics, on 'just in case' line of thought. But only one made it, the crush of refugee needs in the starboard bay making Sabien's deployment impossible. And so, the only red cross that gets suited up and boards the Raptor is LTJG Stavrian. His left and right side are something of a paradox — large medical kit over one shoulder and a Marine rifle over the other. As he climbs up into the bird, he nods respectfully to the senior officers (which is almost all of them), and starts to strap in. "Sirs."

The FTL kicks on and the whole of the ship disappears into a speck of light…

The flash fades from the jump and the whole ship bucks on entrance. A malleable black shape sprawls across the cockpit glass almost immediately, right in front of Quinn's vision. A quick look to the ominous shape and one's eyes can see the crushed helmet faceplate and ghastly look of shock and dread frozen forever within. She could have been beautiful once. The pilot's body hangs for a second, caught on one of the sensors by her leg before another heavy knock and crash rocks the Raptor. The body is dislodged and the whole ship rocks to port with the strike before the view out front is cleared to the tragedy that has befallen.

The local star illuminates the field before them, bathing it in soft white light. The cold dark of space has become the silent graveyard for the husks before them. The cavernous remains of four battlestars are visible to them out the front with a few smaller ships decimated and spinning languidly in the light. It casts instant reflections off glassed sections of their hulls and the random piece of debris or cockpit glass that hangs in a zero gravity ballet. Floating between it all are the internal organs of these ships, their hearts, blood, and crews spilled out into the vacuum and lain bare for the Gods to count their dead.

With Virgon hidden behind the smashed remains of the Battlestar Chimaera and a frigate that has drove it's nose into the center of it's back, the only thing to see are the swirling debris around the Raptor and the scorched gray plating of the capital ships. It all presents itself as a memorial to the fallen for a few seconds. Then a series of shadows flash across the ships glass. Twisting and spinning in the light, the shadows get biggerSomething is headed right for them.

<FS3> Quinn rolls Raptors: Good Success.

Quinn's fleet hands give the command for the jump and leap them into space. Into the unknown. The jump has been plotted well. Not into a planet or any structure that they have confirmed to be there. But anything that might be drifting, or any new additions… that's just the risk a Raptor crew takes. So they jump. Leaping into the black, Quinn doesn't scream at the sigh, but there is a sharply caught breath over the comms as she looks up to see the woman hanging out of that ship… the destruction. It was almost a blessing when it was just the dead pilot. Maggie manages to keep their Raptor well on track, dodging hard around the large piece of a Viper nose cone that has managed to shove it's way straight through the cockpit section of a Raptor. Twenty more feet forward, and that would have been them. But they made the jump… sucessfully, mostly. And after a sharp pull starboard, Maggie has them around the small crash immediately before them and facing… the utter destruction in the distance…"…gods…" Margaret breathes out.

"There's always something to look forward to, Trask." Lt. Oberlin just addresses Trask by his last name now, delivering the whole sentence in a deadpan voice and sighing dramatically. Still, there's really nothing but tension present in his face. As space shifts, he holds in a breath, and truth be told, he's handled jumps remarkably well so far. "Heh heh. Take a ride on the…" Well, -that- shut him up, didn't it? He cranes his head to stare out the viewport to get whatever look he can, watching Quinn steer the ship with all her might and turns a few more shades of pale. "Frak me with a…What the. They're gone." He repeats for emphasis. "Gone."

Stavrian sits very still for the jump, his back pressed against the Raptor's wall and feet flat on the floor. He's aware of himself exhaling as the world and his stomach untwist, and his body makes an unpleasant start at the first ghastly roadblock they've come across. "Shit…" No real time to consider it though, with the abrupt crash and sudden sensation of being off-balance. If there is such a thing in a Raptor. His inner ears say there is. "Frakking wasteland," he breathes out, trying to twist his back on the seat to see more clearly out the closest side viewport.

Seeing how they are in Stealth Mode (TM), DRADIS isn't running, which means that Trask has less to do than he ordinarily does. All which means that he actually sees the person stuck to the windshield. Welcome to the Roadkill Cafe. You kill it, we grill it. "I'm so not eating that." Tasteless? Yes. Inappropriate? No doubt. Surprising to anyone who actually knows the ECO? Not at all. The grim humor subsides, however, when he espies the remains of the Chimaera. Picon getting razed, for whatever reason, didn't seem to affect him. This, however, hits close to home, for the Battlestar had been his home for 6 years, once upon a time.

Quinn's eyes go a bit wide, trying to process the massive amount of sheer… Destruction… in their wake. But she doesn't have time to process or grieve. All she has time to do is register there is something else coming upon them, shadowing them, close. If it's an enemy, she'd rather they not know she was there… and if it's more debris, a simple glide won't hurt -too- much… so she begins killing systems, going into dead energy shut down. Hopefully they can hide with debris just using passive sensors and nothing else… "Something's coming in our direction… I'm trying to get us to look like dead debris… better to blend in…"

"We don't have to play dead too, do we?" Stavrian's voice is a little overly wry, perhaps to lay cover over nervousness. "Hate to get this suit dirty." He swallows, the sound seeming very loud in his ears, and looks towards the front viewport again. The medical kit's kep securely between his booted feet.

Speaking of hitting close to home, that is literally the case where Oberlin is concerned. Maybe not the wrecked Battlestar, but the planet. One silent glance in the vague direction of the Colony and he says — well, he says nothing. The lines around his eyes say it for him. Turning to eye Stavrian a moment, he then looks to Trask and rumbles, "Can you see anything? Try to get a camera focus on — whatever it is. Let's ready that thing." In the meantime, he starts readying the handheld camera stowed beneath his seat and switches it to ready.

"While you're at it, try to make sure we don't actually become dead debris," Kal quips to his pilot. "You can start by, y'know, being thankful you didn't get food poisoning." Yes, he's still at the roadkill cracks. "Oh, an' turning on the frakkin' systems 'cuz if somethin' really /is/ comin' for us, we kinda need /power/ to jump 'cuz I am totally serious about the whole not becomin' dead debris thing." Then, to run the risk of stating the obvious. "I would /love/ to oblige, Lieutenant, but it just so happens that's /another/ thing that requires the systems to be back on." You hear that, Quinn?

Off to their right, the darkness slowly swells as a shadow is suddenly cast long across the hulk of a frigate with its expanding armor plates. The whole length of it seems to shudder an instant later before it flashes. The magazines cook off inside and send debris flying through space in all directions. The brilliant display reflashes ten times brighter into a brilliant display of white and blue when the first cook-off hits the Tylium tanks and the whole ship vanishes in a surreal display of eerily silent fireworks. Gun turrets, armor plating, piping…Its all suddenly flying towards the Raptor and closing the distance very quickly.

<FS3> Quinn rolls Technical: Good Success.

<FS3> Quinn rolls Raptors-10: Good Success.

<FS3> Trask rolls Technical: Good Success.

Despite Quinn's initial hide in the turtle shell instincts, probably more out of shock than anything, the moment her ECO actually starts speaking some -sane- advice she's already booting everything back up, cursing at herself. "Sorry… frak… Sorry…" The normally completely calm and collected Captain mutters out quietly. With Trask's help, no doubt, she gets the systems restarted within a matter of heartbeats, and it's just in time as fireworks rain through their windows, flashing terrifyingly lovely colours and necessistating that Maggie suddenly pull things into higher gear. She's dodging before she knows what's happening, the whole of the crew jerked hard up in their seats as she dodges below the flak that is suddenly coming at them. Some skitters across the windshield, but she misses the dangerous stuff. Hopefully everyone was still wearing their seat belts.

The pilot bantering goes forgotten the second Stavrian registers something getting brighter. The medic's pupils constrict to pinpoints and eyes tense hard at the corners as the light hits. His safety belt catches and locks him into place at the sudden movement of the bird, his hands holding onto the sides of the seat to help the belt do its duty. "Hades got himself a polaroid," he murmurs, blinking away the spots that the brilliance left dancing on his retinas. "What just happened?"

"They're linked in." Oberlin makes this quick mental correction in his head and shoots Trask something of a defanged dirty look. "I meant 'finger-on-the-trigger.' But you get the idea." In any case, there's no real malice in it and he leans again to stare out the viewport. He's still buckled in, but the turbulence isn't doing him any favors. Finally he gets a tight grip on the camera and leans over to bring the Raptor's viewport in focus, when that bright flash gets him and his eyelids snap shut. "Shit."

Oh, look. Massive amounts of heavy frigate guts and skin and limbs hurtling towards the Raptor at alarming speed. "See, this is yet /another reason/ why cuttin' power is a Bad Idea." Yes, that was said in capital letters. When they get hit, Trask doesn't go far at all, being securely strapped. He does quietly exclaim, "Frak," and then dryly notes with, "Congratulations on not killin' us, Quinn." A glance at his console prompts a sardonic smirk. "As a prize, you win one frakked-up IR scanner." Sorry, Oberlin. You'll need to get Thermal shots another way.

The severe jinking and maneuvering threw them from what they were initially looking at and was blocking their view of the planet out the front canopy glass. Rising like the moon on a cold October evening, Virgon slowly appears beyond the wreckage of what was once the Battlestar Aegean's port landing bay. The sudden streak of color against the black of space is almost impossible to miss. The northern pole is visible first, the white caps of ice and snow interspersed with the familiar salt oceans surrounding it. But as the distant colony rises further, almost agonizingly slow at first, the sick sight of a dying Colony becomes apparent. Thick, acrid clouds of black, yellow, and green cover more and more of the surface. The once pristine green forests that coated so much of the planet are now hidden behind the opaque, puffy blanket of death that seeds it forever more. With the prevailing winds kicked into aggravated disharmony by the roaring fires beneath the clouds, only forty-eight hours after Picon was nuked this Colony looks to be nearly covered by the turning masses of scorched dirt sent skyward. The hammer is falling on the last nails of Virgon's nuclear-induced coffin.

A small twinkle appears at the edge of the atmosphere and begins a bright, slow streak in towards the clouds before disappearing. A few seconds later, another. They almost look like shooting stars against the black night sky, the soup of the Colony's atmosphere providing the canvas for the streaks to flow across in smooth arcs.

Despite the fact that Trask seems to be mocking her flying ability, it was that same ability that's kept them all alive too. The damage could have been far worse, considering how near those explosions were to their too-small craft. She keeps them on some sort of course, around and carefully through debris, the worst of the hits and the shaking over as they come upon the sight of the dead planet. Maggie breathes shakily, staring it all over as she pulls her attention between the atrocity in front of them and the simple task of doing her job, "…Well… this is… some information. But there are only… four battlestars… I can see. I thought most of the fleet was supposed to be here. Maybe they… got away?" She murmurs to the group inside.

"Dear unknown and unannounced enemy. Thanks for shooting it to shit. I didn't want to go home anyway. Real estate values on the North Side of Samos on that flat I always wanted just tanked. Hope you're happy." Oberlin narrates aloud, in a shockingly unfunny deapan as he snaps his head towards Virgon's sorry state. Maggie's suggestion snaps him out of it though. "We don't know -where- they are. All we know is these four fell." With that, he brings up the camera, snapping footage out of the Raptor's viewport. leaning to try to keep himself steady. Yeah. He's having fun. Lots of it. He glances towards Trask. "Lovely." He snaps, before turning back, staring through the hand-held camera.

Oberlin is also attempting to snap shots at those little streaks, zooming in as much as possible.

Stavrian is staring less at the wrecked fleet than the planet below for what amounts to quite a long while. His throat is cotton-dry, and his mouth can't quite produce enough saliva to re-wet it when he swallows. All that shows, though, is a tightened jaw. "Or they're been shredded so badly that we can't account for them." He's squinting out the viewpoint, lips moving silently. And finally, "That's enough debris for another Battlestar…and some of those parts are too small for a 'star. That's at least four or five smaller ships out there."

For the time being, Bootstrap is quiet. Not because of the horrors just outside the viewport. In truth, he doesn't see any of that. He's busy starting to scan the atmospheric content, water levels, radiation, and anything else possible for this fact finding mission. Before he manages to finish, something breaks his furrow of concentration, as is evident by the way he perks up and his large brown eyes widen with surprise. "Captain." It's not even said in a cheeky tone, so this is Very Serious Business. "A radio beacon has just popped up. It appears to be an ELT," which is the emergency location transponder that pilots eject when they see friendly forces, "comin' from about 5 miles behind us."

"ELT?…Do they have fleet transponders?" It's a dumb question, it wouldn't read as an ELT otherwise. Maggie frowns, distrust upon her features for a few moments, but then she nods. "Worth checking out, at least. Boys, get your last photos… Bootstrap, start getting ready and spool us up for a jump just in case it is a trap. I'm bringing us around now." And with that, Maggie turns the ship in the opposite direction, trying to hone in on the coordinates that Trask is seeing and giving all of them a 360 view of the nearby mass destruction. "See how many… pieces of battlestars… you think are out there, LTs… " She comments, a bit quieter, to Oberlin and Stavrian. A guess is all she needs. How much of the fleet -was- destroyed?

"Those aren't military." Oberlin looks from behind the camera even as he continues to snap off shots, as the shutter clicks. "Those are just civilian ships, plucked out of space like grapes. They'll crash into the planet eventually." He says, his voice finally toneless and somewhat dispassionate. "This isn't merely war. This is target genocide against a Colony. That's two. Just like Picon." The revelation of ELT's snaps him out of his muttering as he moves to take a better position to get some high-quality zoomed-in shots. "Someone's left alive here?"

As the Raptor begins a slow turn back along the reverse heading of its jump in, the true magnitude of it all settles in. The view stretches out in all directions as far as the eye can see: Hulks. Everywhere. Debris clouds, small groups of permanently frozen crew and destroyed plating pass amongst the wreckages. Counting the wrecks might even prove impossible. With the number of large chunks of ships number near a thousand and spread out over thousands of miles, it could take years without a camera to capture a single instant forever. The sheer number of flight pods littering the area are staggering. Names plated to the sides of these sections float by like visions in a dream: Atlantia. Marsyas. Triton. Olympus. Forseti. Tens of them at a time can be spotted. All without power. None with any apparent survivors. Smaller pieces of Raptor and Viper turns amongst the remains. As one flight pod drifts by, crashed airframes can be seen driven into the flight deck plating and wedged into corners.

Hundreds of thousands of lives ended here and it looks like not a one ever had a fighting chance. Half the fleet hangs in an extremely high orbit of Virgon, the durasteel tombs keeping their crews safe from the horrors of seeing the larger picture in their last moments of life.

In the distance, on the side of a blown frigate's silent engine nacelle, a light flashes quickly in code a simple an ancient code known to all sailors. SOS.

<FS3> Quinn rolls Alertness-10: Success.

"At least one right there…that's a markings plate out to port." Stavrian squints again out the small window on his side. "'Tenant's right, those little pieces are probably civilian." Which hardens his tone a little bit, as if the words themselves had a sour taste. Then Trask's cut in gets his attention, a dark brow arching a little bit.

<FS3> Stavrian rolls Alertness-10: Success.

Trask isn't watching the same horror show as everyone else. His eyes are on his equipment. "Prepping spool," he relays, while keeping tabs on the navigation. The only comment made about the carnage is a simple, sardonic request that Quinn likely would know is made in earnest. "Lemme know if you spot the Aegean… or parts of 'er, anyway."

Quinn looks up, slowly, trying to track their flight and keep an eye on …everything. She swallows hard, mentally beginning to count. One, two…three… too many. Too frakking many. She blinks against sudden stinging in her eyes beneath the face plate of her helmet. A tight swallow as she begins to near that SOS signal. She pulls them closer, trying to get in tight enough that she can make an estimated judgement call. To abandon them here in paranoia…or to help them out and risk the Cerberus? "…the distress call is coming from a colonial ship… do we… Trust it?" She looks for input from the others, but from the hope in her voice…she wants to.

<FS3> Oberlin rolls Alertness-10: Success.

Stavrian's eyes shift to the back of Quinn's head and then out the viewport once more at the ghastly sight all around them. "Least fifteen just out this side. Can't see the back." As Quinn talks judgment on the SOS call, he draws a breath. "How can we not, Captain? There /have/ to be survivors out here."

"That's somebody." Oberlin notes, without any variation or pitch to his voice. It's pretty much drained of color here as he gets up and wheels about, taking more shots, holding in a sharp, ragged breath as he states the unwelcome, unobvious fact. "This would have to be 40 battlestars. At least. Atlantia. Triton. Marsyas." His pause lingers as he holds in that breath and abandons the topic as he revisits Quinn's. "Captain." He says, deferring. "It could be a trap. We don't know enough about our enemy to say so. But if we don't? Remember we left them behind here. How fast are we able to perform an emergency jump in this situation?"

"We'll be a button push away from jumpin' by the time we get there," the ECO informs the others. "Not my call to make," Kal unhelpfully adds to the 'Do We or Don't We?' debate. "You know that I trust your judgment, Cinnabun." It's said in earnest, and Quinn would recognize it to be one of the rare moments where his smart mouth it trumped by his ability to actually be a caring, supportive friend who has placed his hella hard to earn faith in her.

As they drift closer to the sight of the ELT another explosion flashes. This one is hundreds of miles away and no threat, the light reflecting off of debris and casting some long shadows closer to its source. Meanwhile the light keeps flashing erratically. SOS. SOS. IOS. Then it stops for a couple seconds and restarts. Still too far to see what it is on the outside of that ship - its in the shadows.

A few moments thought and Maggie finally nods. "We're going in. I'm not just abandoning them. If we're wrong… then keep this bird spun up and jump home. if we bring something… wrong aboard, we shoot it. Keep us spooled up, Trask. I… won't order anyone on an EVA to get our survivors who doesn't want to go… I'm willing, but someone else will have to pull off this jump without me if shit goes wrong." Maggie is just soft like that. Or maybe smart. But she'd never order her crew to do something she won't do herself. Still, they have to get there first. so she keeps pulling in closer…"Going to try a fly by first… see if we can see anything inside…" Quinn turns her head, flashing a faint, brief smile at Trask as he actually is… Nice for a moment, but otherwise her eyes are all for the screen in front of her. Too many variables and too many things to see to exchange personal niceties.

At first, Oberlin says nothing. He chimes in, clearing his throat in one swift rumble, "You'd better rescue somebody." He pauses a beat. "If there was anyone aboard, how would you surmise they could have made it past whoever-it-was who came in, torched shit and -apparently- left?" He asks, thinking out loud. "Never mind. I agree with you, Captain."

Stavrian can't order pilots around, and the PA's said his opinion. His jaw works slightly as Quinn seems to hem-haw, then his eyes turn back out th viewport, one hand resting against the Raptor's wall just below the rim of the fake glass.

"That's the fun part, el-tee," Trask tells Oberlin with a deadpan sort of cheekiness, "findin' out the hard way."

And fly-by they do. Moving slowly, the light stays on as they approach. In the dark shadows, a form starts to take place. A human one. Then a few more. The one holding the flashlight shines it on himself. His holding onto a protruding piece of piping with one hand and waving the flashlight again in the other. He's making 'Come In' motions with the light as a member of the Deck might direct a Viper into a parking bay.

Maggie's carefully pulling the bird around closer, shifting the back end of the Raptor so it's almost pin point near them, not wanting the poor survivors to have to travel any more than necessary. "Everyone in their suits? I'm going to open the hatch in 10 seconds… Nine… Eight…" Maggie continues through the count down, giving her crew plenty of time to check every bearing and clip on their flight suits before she finally pops the back hatch and climbs away from her seat. "You've got the controls, Trask, until I get these people aboard…" And she's moving back to help. At least her flight training has assisted in this. She's done EVA before.

Stavrian has helmet nearly pressed to glass as they start to drift by the frigate. He can't see well, but apparently it's enough to start with. "At least one I can see, sir. He's moving…" A second more. "Got an injured left side, probably his arm."

Quickly stowing his camera, Oberlin almost jumps out of his skin in anticipation, so fast is his straightening and securing his helmet, making sure his O2 seal is sound. He again secures his sidearm, for whatever hollow comfort it provides. "Survivors. Lucky bastards." He then just falls in line, waiting to depart.

With Trask taking over pilot duties while the others all prep for the EVA, there is one 'tiny' logistical problem: there's no one to push the 'Oh Shit' button to jump. Truth be told, this isn't exactly an oversight. Not on the ECO's part, anyhow. He purposely does not state the obvious because there is no frakkin' way he'd ever leave Quinn behind. "I'll keep your seat warm," is all that's said to her, though, along with a more general, "Happy hunting."

Pulling closer, it becomes more obvious that the other people…aren't moving. There's two of them floating lifelessly, bodies hovering inches from the deck plating face down. There's a beautiful view of Virgon from here, too, if one might find the planet's current state to be attractive. His left arm is slung at the elbow around the pipe, holding on to it and his side. The light he was holding is a simple pilot's flashlight they all carry. When they pull closer the man just lets it go and drift away. Judging by the suit he's in, the guy was pretty obviously a pilot of some kind of type.

Stavrian leaves the rifle behind in its secured spot. Not much good a firearm will do in space. As they prepare to go EVA he unclicks his belt and snaps the clasps of his medical pack onto his belt at sides and back. He says nothing as the hatch starts to open, his jaw set and eyes fixed forward.

Quinn leans out, keeping one hand attached to the bar just at the door frame of the Raptor, her anchor point, and the other palm stretches as far and long as possible to try and help pull the few living survivors inside. "Boots, you better be keepin' one hand on the stick and the other on the jump button. The moment we get all survivors inside I want to pull back and go. We've been in one spot too long now…if there's something here…" Well, she particularly doesn't want enemy fighters coming in while they have their ass wide open. She nods a quick, professional thanks to Stavrian as he assists her with those they might be able to pull in.

"We're not getting any younger." Oberlin says, cheerlessly as he keeps his sidearm in place, his paranoia contrasting with Stavrian's practicality. The boots of his sealed flight suit impact against the Raptor's floor as he makes his way towards the airlock, falling in line.

"Jugs is already fairly along in years," Kal quips back at Oberlin, "so you guys really should haul ass." Leave it to Bootstrap to belittle a tense situation.

The man lets go of the pipe and pushes off with his good arm, then swinging it out to meet Quinn's. He's not entirely with it and his aim is off so he comes in a little fast and more towards Stavrian. When he lands its almost a crashing motion before he settles onto the floor of the bird. There's a loud groan as he hits and settles on the bottom of the bird. The pins on his collar read him as a Major. The patch on his arm reads him a Viper pilot. The vomit on the inside of his faceplate reads him as ill - the dried bile containing bits of blood.

Quinn gets his back, since his front is mostly going to Stavrian, and as soon as the man is aboard she's pulling the hatch shut. All business now, and the sick major is in the hands of the medic that knows how to fix these things, or at least ease them. She pats his shoulder once, as if to say 'we gotcha', and then swings back in the direction of her seat, "Alright, boys and girls…time to go home?" She calls over the comms as she works on getting back into being ready for a jump, giving one last look up to the destruction beyond.

It doesn't matter if the feeling of weightlessness has already hit by the time Stavrian gets to the edge of the Raptor. That infinite, yawning blackness of space still carries a heartbeat's worth of terror that they'll all just start plunging downwards. He grabs for the man's arm as he comes hurtling towards them, his other hand grabbed onto a handle on the very edge of the raptor bay, and pulls back along with Quinn until they've got him inside. "Pilot patches…he's a Major." his voice comes through the helmet comms. "Radiation burns." He's already snapping open his kit.

Oberlin's one-word response to all this is, "How?" It's worded in an almost trivial manner, as though there is no answer he could ever be expecting. "Is that everyone?" He strides back as the hatch is closed, looking down at the hapless survivor, openmouthed.

As the ECO rises and goes back to his station, he remarks to Quinn, "Sorry. I singed it a bit." The seat. Because he's so damn hot. Har. Har. When the SL asks about it being time to go home, Trask cheekily points out, "Last I was aware, you were the one makin' the calls." He's sure as frak ready to push the button, though.

The Major, using his right hand rips off his helmet and takes in fresh air as soon as the hatch is shut. He rolls over onto his side and stares up at everyone for a second while it registers where he is. The man looks delerious and the smell.. Oh Gods. Anyone with their mask off would be greeted with a putrid combination of bile, human excrement and rotting blood. The skin across his forehead and cheeks looks to be peeling at the edges. Then he speaks. "Gods! No! We've got to get to fleet headquarters!! They have to know!" The suddenly wild-eye'd man looks around at everyone, nearly astonished before settling on Trask. "Lieutenant! We have to get to Picon! Now!" Does he hold rank over Quinn? Uh oh.

Quinn gives the man a brief look, shaking her head slowly. "Major, I am here by relieving you of duty until you can be cleared by medical. Sit back, relax, we're fully apprised of the situation and actually just came from Picon when… everything happened." Maggie's voice is surprisingly stern, if with a touch of gentle to it. That disapproving mother that WILL take away your toys if you force her, but she'd rather you just calm down from the temper tantrum. She settles back into the seat and, nothing more to see on the sensors… "Bootstrap… can we get a single DRADIS blip… gather everything we can in one pass, and then jump out immediately after? it'll give us the most information to bring back home with the least risk…"

Stavrian found a syringe of their anti-rads where he put them nice and handy in his pack. If the Major had waited two seconds longer to move, the medic might've ended up jamming the needle into his own hand. He jerks back on his heels, holding up a hand quickly in front of him. "Major. Junior Lieutenant Jesse Stavrian, Colonial Battlestar Cerberus medical detachment. You are suffering serious radiation burns, sir. I need you to be still so I can treat you." The shit about Picon, yeah he leaves that to the Captain.

"Might not be such a good idea, sir." Oberlin says, succintly. Any lulz stemming from the attach are not mentioned or described. Like Stavrian, he surrenders the floor to Quinn now, pulling out the camera for one final pass.

"Really?" It's a mocking incredulousness. "After all we've been though, you /actually/ asked me that?" Theatrically, Bootstrap rolls his brown eyes and lightly scoffs. Getting everything ready to go, he tells his SL, "On your mark, /sir/." The stress is faint, but Quinn would know it well.

The Major takes a heaved breath and looks to the back of Quinn's head as she says that. That's the last breath he takes before he collapses back on the floor with his hand over his leg. Then with a jerk, he's back and the gun right by his hand is right out of his holster. "YOU WILL NOT!" he roars before hunching at the waist and vomiting blood all over the deck - and Stav and Trask if they aren't fast. The man looks like he's used to it, though, still mostly in control of himself. "You will get me to Picon! We have to warn them! There's no stopping these frakkers!!" He levels the gun at Trask's helmet. The look in his eyes, beyond being bloodshot and crazed, is a little more than serious. "Picon, Lieutenant!" The gun starts to shake, finger rattling loosely against the trigger.

Quinn's eyes shoot wide as it all happens so damn fast. She turns her head, staring between the vomiting, crazed Major, the gun… and her ECO. Finally, she slowly gives one nod, trying to catch Trask's eyes for just a moment, "…You heard the man… plot the jump…" Hopefully they know each other well enough by now. Her eyes trace over to Stavrian, Oberlin, searching for any bit of help. A tranqualizer? Quick disarming? She's too far up front to do it herself, her motions would be obvious from the second she took them.

"Sir." Stavrian's in an airtight suit. They'll have to decon the crap out of this Raptor later, but that was a given the moment they opened the hatch in a radiation zone. As Quinn and Trask do their codetalk behind him he stands up slowly, his body putting itself dead between the gun trajectory and Trask's head. "Please. Calm down now. We need to take care of you so you're in any shape to deliver that news, or you're going to die before we get there. Please." He's still holding that syringe and it's pretty damn sharp, blue eyes watching the man closely.

"Major." Oberlin says, a bit of tension in his voice as his hand starts to dangle to his side. "Sir. If you want to go to Picon, you are going to find a smoking wreck. There is -NOTHING THERE.- We've already been to Picon. I defer to your leadership, but strongly suggest that we have an enemy to face, and we are operating on an Admiral's orders. Which supercede yours. Sir." By the way, at his side? That's his sidearm. His hand hovers over it, stock-still. "You want to stop this enemy? So do we. We are all on the same side, here." He himself is still by the Raptor's airlock. Not too far away from the action.

Flying together for a solid year in some of the worse war zones in all the Colonies? Yeah, they know each other really frakkin' well. "Yes, Captain. It'll take a moment to plot the coordinates and spool for the jump." Even so, Bootstrap appears to be doing that. Really, though, he's doing that scan Quinn wanted, during this moment of borrowed time. "Major, sir, I'd really appreciate it if you would lower your weapon. I'd rather not make a navigational error because I'm panicked over the prospect of having my brains blown out." Even now, there is grim, deadpan humor. Although, really, maybe there is some truth to the whole threat of blown-out brains causing panic thing.

The Major lifts the thumb on the backstrap of the sidearm and cocks the revolver, the clicking sound of the gears audible in anyone's helmet. His hand is still rattling on the trigger, it only taking a pound of pressure or so to fire at this point. He coughs a few times, blood aspriating onto Stavrian's faceplate. When Oberlin speaks, it distracts him to flinch. "No. You're full of shit." Yep, the Major is talking to Oberlin. "Its there. Its gotta be. Kapetti can't be right. Swore it was the Gods. Shit isn't possible." His breathing is getting more erratic, the gun shaking more and more. "Picon can't be gone. Its not frakkin possible!! You people are lying to me! They smite the sinful!! WE haven't sinned!! My pilots! GOOD MEN AND WOMEN!" He looks like he's going to wretch again. "MY family on Virgon. You people come out of nowhere! Tell me this?! How dare you!" The radiation has probably already fried his brain quite a bit. "FRAK YOU, LIEUTENANT!" This is back to Trask. "Kapetti said it. It ain't possible. Or maybe it is.." His eyes drift towards the ECO panel, gun still wobbling.

Quinn swallows tightly, remaining in her seat, eyes occasionally flickering to the panel in front of her but mainly they're on the madman behind them. "… The LT is right, Major. Picon's destroyed. I know it doesn't seem possible. And it sure as hell ain't fair, but it's true. And if you ever want a chance to get back at the fraks who did this, you'll put down that gun and actually let us help you. But I will not risk my men and women on your words, when I know this to be true. Court martial my ass when we are back to our ship. But put your gun. Down." It's not Maggie any more. That's as Captain Quinn as the redhead gets, her voice dead stern, a complete command.

"Sir. SIR." Oberlin's voice remains vaguely on this side of calm, although it's gods-damn likely he didn't plan on anything like -this- happening. "My family is down there too." He gestures with a raised hand towards the ruined sphere that is Virgon. Oh, that hand is still hovering over his pistol and ends up clasping the handle. "I'm the last person to lie to you. My sister was on Picon. The rest of my family was here." He nods in response to Quinn.

"'I pray to Zeus and the other immortals that we may drive from our place these dogs swept into destruction whom the Keres have carried here on their black ships.'" Stavrian's watching the man closely as he drones the piece of scripture. "You know it isn't sin that brought this upon us. Let us brush the Keres from you, Major. I need you to put the gun down." His rifle's too far away so all the medic still has is this syringe, his fingers closing tighter on it. He hasn't moved, still blocking Trask and Quinn from being in the direct line of fire.

To his credit, Trask has enough sense to remove his tongue from his cheek and keep his mouth shut. For the record, he would've responded to the 'FRAK YOU!' with something along the line of 'I fully intend to in the showers, sir, with some help from my hand'. Instead, he continues to feign charting a course for Picon. It's not as if the disoriented, puking Major on the floor can see what he's doing, especially with the corpsman making a far better door than window.

"Don't talk to me about fair, pilot!" The Major says, bloody spittle flying everywhere. "You don't know the FIRST GODSDAMN THING! Fair would have been getting a shot off! Sixty-eight battle groups jumped in! YOU, you haughty bitch! You think a single one made it out!? Everyone's frakking DEAD! Where have you cowards been!? And..And if Picon's gone.." He's not listening anymore. A dribble of blood leaves his ear, trailing down his neck. "They..Then he was right. They've brought their vengeance!" Maddened, paranoid eyes look between Stavrian and the back of Quinn's head. "And how could we defy it? Or course!" This may be his moment of euphoria because he finally manages a choked smile. "They reclaim their own. They leave us for lost and dead! Who are we to defy their wishes? Surely, Lieutenant," he says, choking once more. "You understand what we have to do, right!?" The wobbling gun shifts off Stavrian and moves with his body as he starts to lean to get a shot at Quinn.

As long as they can keep the guy distracted enough not to shoot anyone, especially not Trask, who has the biggest job at the moment. Jumping them back to the Cerberus. Quinn's still partially keeping her eyes on the board, not willing to shout at a madman any longer. "If you sit down, Major, we are going to make the jump." She murmurs, dead quiet, not facing him, her eyes preparing for the jump… but when she flickers her gaze back, she's suddenly met with gun barrel, a gasp catching at her throat.

One only has a split second to act and sometimes none of the choices are good. They can get back without a medic. Without a pilot? Bigger problem. Stavrian moves a split second after the Major does, aiming the underside of elbow and forearm straight for the man's wobbling wrist as hard as he possibly can, trying to disarm the man and stay between him and the Captain at once. No time even to pray.

<FS3> Stavrian rolls Reactive: Success.

It gets to the point where the word 'cowards' is uttered and Oberlin ceases clinging to the tenuous strands of reason he was using. The sidearm is pulled from his pocket and drawn on the berserk major. "Sir, you are currently unfit for duty. We are hereby gathering survivors on order of Rear Admiral Michael Abbot of the Battlestar Cerberus. STAND DOWN or we will have no choice but to use force." Unfortunately, as this happens, Stavrian's taking matters into his own hands. That might be more effective. Really.

Bootstrap is still keeping his trap shut. Collecting the data is far more important than indulging in one-sided witty repartee.

The sickly man is just starting to sneer at Oberlin's words when it happens. The shot towards the Major's wrist is enough to knock the gun out, but not fast enough to prevent a shot from ringing out. His finger was already on that trigger. The round cuts the air beside Quinn's head and plugs a neat hole right through the canopy glass. The gun spins from his hand and bounces against the ECO's panel and lands neatly in the lap of Trask. Good luck for Trask. Bad luck for the man already dying of radiation sickness. With the sudden rush of air out the front of the ship, the man collapses against the side of the panel, only harder due to the hit. His right hand reaches for his throat, eyes going wide. Vomit once again rises from his mouth while the nitrogen tries to escape from his body, causing bloodvessels to pop instantly all over his face and in his eyes. Its all over in a few agonized seconds. Once on the floor, he twitches a few times and then..doesn't.

Quinn looks near to vomiting herself, it all happening so fast. By the time her mind processes what's occured, the man is twitching on the floor. It's a heartbeat or two before she manages to thickly say, "Frak. Let's seal this up and go." And immediately is down on her knees, grabbing the patch kit from under the control panel and pulling out the massive suction-cup like thing so she can attach it to the glass.

"FRAK." Oberlin sounds from behind his helmet glass. As this man twitches his last, dying twitch, the Lieutenant dashes stows his sidearm and rushes towards the front seat. He moves over the dead man to assist the Captain in applying the seal. "Understood Sir." He says towards Quinn, sourly. "I've had enough of this place."

Stavrian offers no excuses for the action, not to his superiors and not to the man whose blood he's now wearing even more thickly than before. He rolls the man's body over, his face set in a tight, unreadable mask as he clips one of the safety ropes to the dead man's suit. Then he climbs up into his seat.

Even though he is accustomed to the crazy that comes with VAQ in Sagittaron hot zones, this whole gun going off inside the Raptor thing totally sucks and leaves Trask sitting there, wide-eyed, and perfectly still. Especially after aforementioned pistol lands in his lap. Good thing that he never wants to spawn. Even better that he still gets to be the proud owner of an unmarred nutsack. When he finally gets around to realize his crotch is packing more heat than usual (heh), he very carefully removes the weapon from that area and resets the safety. Only then does he dryly say, "Someone please tell me that only Major Frakshitinsane is dead."

Quinn frowns a touch deeper at Trask's words, but she says nothing. Not even a reprimand for his poor taste. She leans up, finishing the hard seal and a moment later alarms stop going off on her panel. "Alright, we've got a hard seal. Everyone strapped in? Bootstrap, jump us in three…. two… One. Mark." Her voice is dry, thickly husky, not completely Caprican right now no matter how hard she often tries. She just sits back, waiting to get back home… silent. She can't even look back at the moment.

Silence from the back seat. Stavrian turns his head only enough to see Virgon's nuclear winter below them once more, eyes staying on that point until it's faded into FTL black.

"We'll get his tags." Oberlin says, with hollow helpfulness. He strides back to his seat and settles himself in for the jump, falling uncharacteristically silent. He'll probably remain so for the duration of the trip. He looks back to the viewport one last time to give his home a silent glance of farewell. The forests of Virgon are burning, never to recover.

"Right. Since no one is shrieking, 'Oh my Gods! Major Frakshitinsane dragged Lieutenant Stavrian with him down into the bowels of Hades!', I am gonna conclude that the el-tee is still among the living." Poor taste? Kal Trask is a true connoisseur of such. Maybe this will be overlooked when he adds, "DRADIS scans snagged." Then comes the countdown. Three… two… one… Jump!

Continued in Counting Coffin Nails

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