PHD #000: EVENT - What Sweet Price Freedom
What Sweet Price Freedom
Summary: The men and women of the Colonial Marines face an agonizing choice.
Date: 26 Feb 2041 AE
Related Logs: The Blameless Tide and others to be added.
Arkat Cadmus Callista Damon Demos Karthasi King Marcion Margaret Nikias Santiago Sofia Stavrian Reuben NPC Polaris 


Built as much for beauty as for functionality, this boarding corridor is a good two hundred meters in length, its slate grey frame holding in place seven-foot windows intended to give visiting VIPs a view of the station and the ship from which they came. Even the ground is carpeted — plush navy blue the color of Picon's oceans. No joke: that's actually what the swatch is called.

Tonight, though, these corridors are being used for something else entirely: the rapid evacuation of military and civilian personnel from Picon Anchorage to the ship docked alongside. "Pilots and Tactical first!" shout the quartet of Marines barring the way through the airlock at the very end of the corridor, all four of them dressed in their blacks. A burly MP leads the way, her thick blonde hair tied behind her in a bun the size of her bulging biceps. "Credentials out, everybody! Quick now, quick! Pilots and CIC first!" The line progresses as soon as her people can check the badges being flashed, shortening considerably as the thirty-odd named personnel break ranks and begin their mad dash for the flight deck — which leaves, of course, a crush of some three hundred and seventy-odd people, over half of them civilians, their eyes goggle-wide at the scene outside — and what a scene it is, as machine and man smash themselves to bits in this grand dance of death. "Keep calm, everybody, and have your IDs out!"

Marcion is fuming. The shit is hitting the fan and he is still far farther from his engines than he should be. His ID is held up, even if his hand is shaking a bit. "Need to spool up FTL, just in case. What if that has been forgotten? E-Class new, spin up takes longer. What if new Admiral forgets?"

"Eyes frakkin front" Meg growls to the group of civilians she is shepherding through, her large hand on the arm of the most panicky whilst propelling her forward. She keeps her own gaze shifting around carefully however and as she spies crew comming through she shifts her group to one side with a mix of encouragement and forceful language "Right, as they said get yer soddin ID's out whilst we let crew through"

Santiago clutches a handful of her dress in one hand, keeping the long skirt out of the way of her heels, and a bottle in the other. Her wrap, really more of a scarf, has been loosely draped around her throat, and fans out behind her as she hustles down the corridor. A lady never runs. It's really more of a gentle hustle than a 'my ass is on fire'. That's pedestrian. Now, where did she put that ID. Santi glances down at herself, slowing a bit. "Huh." She put the ID on CPO Atreus' desk, and that's probably where it still sits. Oh, well. Chest out. Who's going to notice?

Sofia is near Marcion, helping part the crowds. She holds up her id faithfully although the picture on it is - horrific to put it lightly. Got her with one eye wider than the other, looking bewildered. "I don't know, we'll get there sir, I promise." Sofia has to wonder what the world is coming to. Her sharp green eyes are a little narrowed as she looks through the line.

"I don't care we forgot your cello, you stand right the frak here and *do* *not* *move*!" Cadmus barks at a musician who happened to be swept along in the crush. He then quickly looks around, pulling civvies aside to let engineers, vips, and anyone with a *real* job through to the Cerberus proper. Every now and again a civilian shouts something about how important they are, and all they get in response is a steely glare.

Nikias is no marine, but he's no stranger to managing people or hefting authority, and at Sergeant Demos' prompting he went off to gather up a group to get them into the corridor. With a few words, the right tone, and some gestures to the exit, he's managed to keep them relatively calm and moving quickly as directed by the marines. With the full-blown battle raging outside, in full view of the remarkably vulnerable corridor, he obviously looks tense. The glances towards the Cerberus are of obvious dread, "Frak no." he murmurs.

Callista has her ID out in hand, a grim look on her face. Gone is her normally cheerful demeanour as she makes her way through the crowds of people, "Lieutenant Kathleen Aurelia, Battlestar Cerberus." She shows the MP blocking her way and calls out to the Cerberus crew, "Cerberus crew, let's get together and make our way to the ship. Let's stick together." For now, it seems she is the highest ranking Cerberus officer left on the anchorage in the room anyways.

Well, shit. Stavrian has been dealing with the civilian that damn near gave herself a concussion on the wine table, wiping blood off her face with a fold of her own dress sleeve and shoving her on ahead. "Come on, move!" His ID's out of his jacket and stuck on his front pocket, dogtags let to jangle freely in front of his chest for the checking.

While she is moving at a clip, Demos leads her own group of civvilians, "Stay in line, please and we will all get to the ship. No pushing, shoving or pinching." A glare is turned to the man just behind her, though she softens it to a smile for Nikias if she can find him. When they reach the area with the four MPs, she ushers her group to one side. "No one moves from this spot until I, or another Marine, come for you. Got it?"

Staff Sergeant King seems to be taking as much charge as he can. "Cerberus crew up front now, followed by the wounded! Marines, rotate and get weapons from the lockers!" He doesn't need to mention that he'll probably be on the last rotation to grab a weapon. "Civilians, get your ready now! Sergeant Demos!" He says trying to get her attention so that he can make a hand gesture to her. He points to his eyes and then points back the way they came. 'Watch that way'.

Callista is trying her best to make sense of the chaos, moving up beside King she nods to the man and says calmly, "We need to keep things organized. We don't know if we're under attack yet or not Sergeant, but we all trained for the possibility of a fight." As they're making their way to the weapons lockers, she looks back to the non-marines and says, "Make sure you grab a sidearm if you can shoot, this isn't a drill or a joke."

Even Sgt. Arkat Galyian has his own little bunch of Civvies, although all in all they total about four. When he's close enough to the impromptu checkpoint to hear King's call, his own group of 'VIP's' (They so aren't) get the reassuring comfort of "Stay. No crying." before he's trying to get close enough to have his Marine ID drag him on through. Guy's staying chipper, all things considered.

Marcion takes deep breaths as the line moves forward. He isn't big enough to push anyone out of the way, anyway, then he looks over to Sofia. "Occurs to me. Windows. Ships attacking will want to kill docked Battlestar first. Strafing ships might see windows, and people though windows." He has just enough sense to say that so only she can hear it. "Faster would be better. Jumped away would be best."

As Demos jobs by, Nikias tries to flag her down. "Wait here, I take it?" he asks for clarification. "I'm… I'm trained to… nevermind." he cuts himself short.

It takes a while for great fleet actions to happen, for the ships involved are by no means dainty little butterflies flitting here and there on wings of song and beauty. No, battlestars and — well, whatever those strange spinning asterisk-shaped things now coming into view are called — asterisk things are more like gigantic wrestlers pounding about in loincloths until at last they close in an explosion of flesh and sweat.

Such is the battle occurring outside, as at last the battlestars of the Colonial Fleet close to firing range. The thump-thump of their cannons is reassuring even from this distance — but soon, strangely, those cannons stop pounding, and soon, strangely, those Vipers stop flying. Flashes of red light spray forth from the enemy vessels, painting a magnificent interlocking laser show for everybody in the corridor to see. Previously pacified civilians start murmuring now as they point towards the battle going on to starboard, worried whispers catching like wildfire among the four hundred people gathered in or lined up outside the corridor.

And from the front: "Sorry, Staff Sergeant," says the burly blonde in charge. "Marines first; looks like we're going to need some backup. All civilians and POGs stand back until all your people are through. ID looks good, Sergeant King. Get the rest of your MPs armed and ready." And to a disturbing mounting chorus of 'what the fraks', the grunts march through, wading their way through people stacked from wall to wall in rows of three.

Cadmus nods curtly. "Aye, sir!" he says, immediately jogging off down the corridor to collect the aforementioned weapons. A marine is naked without their rifle, everyone knows that. Upon reaching the opposite end, he immediately pulls out a helmet, throws a handful of magazines in it, and begins collecting a rifle.

Demos nods once to her charges, though she notes nervous glances between one and two or two and three. Catching her name, she turns and nods to King, "Yes, Staff Sergeant!" Pausing only long enough to claim a rifle and armor, she jog-trots back through the group of civilians to the rear. Fixing the armor, she kneels with the rifle in position aimed back the way they came.

Callista can see clearly what is going on through the viewport and isn't about to have the crew of the Cerberus stuck here. Approaching the Corporal she says in an authorative tone, "Corporal, you will stand down and allow the Cerberus delegation to join our marines and make our way to the ship." She motions to the viewport, "As you can see, there is a battle happening and it's likely this anchorage could be boarded. I need to get my people.." They are her crewmembers afterall, "Back to our ship and we may need to be armed to do that. So unless you want to be on latrine duty for the rest of your life, get the frak out of our way. This is an /ORDER/ Corporal."

Margaret is good at following orders, as instructed she leaves the civilians where they are and heads on past the barricade. She flashes her ID on the way past her fellow marines, heading tot he lock she snags the nearest rifle and some clips. She locks and loads with crisp professional motions and then looks up to the fleet "Something ain't frakkin right" she mutters softly whilst heading to join the others, cradling her rifle carefully as she looks down to the mass of civilians in the very vulnerable walkway.

Cadmus rushes down the corridor, his eyes suddenly very narrow and sharp. Vest on, helmet snatched up and slammed down, rifle, sidearm, magazines, insert, charge round into chamber. And then back again like all the harpies in the galaxy were chasing him. He seems to have realized that this isn't any accident - this is an attack, and that means he's got a job to do.

With elbows, a knack for sliding between small gaps and some good old fashioned elbow grease, Arkat finally makes it to the locker, waved through by the grace of his ID. There may have been one or two mutterances of 'I will kick you in the groin' to move the more stubborn of the upper classes, but c'mon, who hasn't wanted to say that at least once? The rifle allows him a little more comfort, the fact it's civvies everywhere… doesn't. When the lightshow occurs, the pit in his stomach grows, and seems to drag all of his facial features down with it. It's not a good look.

King seems to have gotten cut off by Callista. He does wave the marines under his command right now through, but before he heads on in himself he says, "You heard her, Corp. We need the crew through here, at the very least." Then he goes through and comes back geared up, rifle, sidearm, armor and mags. "Spread out! Get the civilians down until the coast is clear! I want every inch of this corridor covered for fire!"

Santiago is now facing the viewport, behind, back to the armed marines, which puts her facing a lot of civilians, and stuck between the slowly more panicked masses. She stands out a bit, platinum blonde, tall with her heels, all in white. She takes another step back as she's jostled, large wine bottle still in hand, though at her side. For a moment. She takes a pull. "Shouldn't wear white to a war…" Because even if those huge ships are unfamiliar, even if the sight out there is strange and terrifying, it's quite clear someone's come pounding on the door at midnight, and they're not looking for cheese and toast. She hisses in a breath, another, shallow, fast.

Dionysus is supposed to slacken the rules by which the universe normally plays on a day-to-day fashion. But on this Day of Khoes Greje Karthasi is beginning to feel things slip just a little -too- far afield from the normative, that dizzying feeling like Erigone dangling by the neck from the great oak seizing her for a moment as she slouches, back against a wall of the corridor, making more room for the rest of the crowd. To remind herself that Dionysus too has his place in battle, and to put her trust in the Lord for the moment, giving her a freedom from thinking about anything else, she begins to recite a catalogue of the mortals that Dionysus led into battle in India. It's the least she can do, right now. Sadly, it's also the most she can do.

"What is…" Nikias murmurs aloud, and then at the silencing of our guns and the show of lasers, he adds, "Why are…". But a few quick glances at the civilians around him shuts him up, before he blurts out something that might panic them. "Stay calm, we'll be aboard soon." he says for their benefit.

Sofia is shifty. She's devious. She might even be faintly malevolent in that managerial way. but she's a /far/ cry from stupid. Sharp green eyes narrow. "Something's wrong, this-" She looks to Marcion, and her facial expression is twisting. It's hard to hide her uneasiness. She just hangs near Marcion, "Helpless is the worst Hell of all. Gods I hope we can do something." She frowns and looks to Marcion. For now, she waits until she's allowed through.

Somewhere along the way, this night of banal pleasantries tinged with free drinks has gone awry. Damon has been mingling and doing his thing for most of the ceremony, drifting about the room and enjoying the proceedings - but now everything's falling apart, and he's looking around in the crowd for any cues on what to do. Taking the remainder of the drink in his hand in one hard swallow, he starts making his way toward the guarded door, his heartbeat echoing the pounding of the cannons.

Marcion looks ahead to Callista with a vaguely impressed look. "Good idea. Authority. Eltee outweighs corporal." He nods in approval. "Should have thought of that." The pounding the fleet is taking earns his curiosity. "Ships powering down. All of them. Why?"

It's times like these when the naval medics switch under Marine command. Stavrian has managed to elbow through to grab a rifle, fingers pulling at the front of his dress uniform until the top button's popped and spun out somewhere on the floor. Damn thing was annoying anyway. "Stay calm," He calls to the civilians crowded up next to him. "Watch your feet, let's not end up with more frakking crushed heads in here."

That's the other thing about great fleet actions: both fleets are supposed to be, well, fighting. Instead, neither side is shooting, now, as the enemy waits for whatever it just did to take effect — and soon, even the dullest among the gathered civilians can tell that something is Dreadfully Wrong. Two battlestars drift out of firing position, listing towards each other, lights flickering out throughout their magnificent length. Another two — on an intersecting course meant to be straightened — do not straighten, colliding mid-space in a spectacular ricochet, bouncing off the other like billiard balls while explosions tear through the upper deck of the ship on bottom. And all throughout the fleet, Vipers in tightly-knit formations suddenly fly out of them, engines cutting off like a thousand fireflies extinguished at once …

"Oh Gods," cries a panicked-looking civilian, falling to her knees on the carpet. "Oh gods — look!" And as hundreds of faces turn in unison, the four MPs raise their weapons at the crowd, their faces pale under black helmets and clear, clear visors.

"Fleet first," the corporal snarls. "And nobody gets a gun who isn't a Marine. One by one! Slowly!"

Margaret takes up position with the rest of her fellow marines. Her face is hard and set, but she sneaks glances up to the fleet action overhead, paling a little as she looks back to the civilians, decidedly not pointing her weapon at anything but the roof for the moment.

Callista points a finger right in the Corporal's face and says full of venom, "Corporal, I'll be back for you and you /WILL/ be cleaning latrines with your tongue, you frakking uptight little enlisted bitch." She's not too happy with the situation, not too happy at all, her normally cheerful demeanour is shattered. Her tone cutting through the noise again, "CERBERUS CREW! LET'S MOVE NOW! Form up on the marines six and let them lead the way for us." Making her way up to King, she purses her lips for a moment before saying, "What's your assessment Sergeant? We need to get moving A-S-A-P and get these people to their duty stations."

"Can't ships jam each other in a fight?" Sofia asks. "I played with that stuff when my brother tried to operate a radio station. Jamming coms and electronic systems is an effective way to disable your oppon—" Uh oh. "Here goes nothing. Management powers, ACTIVATE. Paper Pushing Maneuver #954581!" Sofia will take Marcion's hand. Thankfully, she's not a skinny girl. She'll nudge, shove and slink her way along - even using a chest or hip check if she needs to. She'll help Marcion along towards his beloved engines. "To the Engines!"

When the Marine sorts begin calling the Fleeters through, Greje looks up from her meditations and gives a numb nod, beginning to look through the crowd and help others through, being meticulously polite and calm throughout, even if there's a little shell-shock to her eyes. She's content to head out toward the end of the group from Cerberus.

Cadmus speaks to each group of civilians as he shoulders back through, "Get down on the ground, you will be safe soon, but we *have* to get by." He doesn't look panicked, at least - just deadly serious, shoving as he is for the end of the boarding tube. Similarly, his tone has gone from gruff to deadpan cold. One hand pushes civvies to their knees, the other one-handing the rifle, muzzle to the sky.

Marcion is mildly surprised as his hand is taken, but he follows through with her as she moves him toward the front. "Turning them off like with switches. Isn't right. Could be an EMP charge… no, our lights would be flickering, too. Computer virus, perhaps?" He shakes his head. "Have to jump away. Can't fight if turned off…"

Kitted out, Arkat's eyes watchs the civillians, who are in turn watching the scene outside. With his rifle pointed at the floor for the moment, he can't help but glance away when they start to panic. His face drops at the sight for just enough time to be seen, then he's back to business. Emotions are shoved aside for now as he tries to wave the fleeters through, checking as best he can in unison with the others.

"Make a hole!" Damon roars, starting to push his way through the crowd to get to the door. He's pushing with all his body weight, using his elbows to pry his way through civilians, shuffling sideways to get out. At 6'1" and 220 pounds, he's got a decent amount to push around. It's not too long until he's behind the Marines, ready to move. "El-tee," he says to Callista. "PO First Damon. I'm ready to move."

Someone has to take control here. Or at least try to, looks like King wants it. "Oi, marines, you do /not/ raise your weapons to civilians! Lower your muzzles!" Then he turns his attention to the civilians. "Everybody needs to stay calm! We'll get you aboard the Cerberus and to safety. Trust me." He just has one of those oddly pleasant voices. "My marines." He says, taking what he can from the group. "Keep your eyes open, watch the end of the corridor." He then turns his attention to Callista. "Sir, I expect boarders like crazy. We need to get the crew on first, and then QUODEL, then the rest. Do /not/ let anyone through without their ID ready. Can't have people gumming up the godsdamned works."

Demos moves with a quiet authority that means absolutely nothing in the throng. She works the side opposite Cadmun, pushing people to their knees with one hand, the rifle shifted to the other. "Please kneel. It will help us get through this. Over there, you are crew, yes? Move up to the front, then." Hearing Damon's roar, she tries to move civilians out of the man's way. "Let the PO through, please. Kneel." Shoving a bunch of folk to one side, she nods to Damon as he passes."

Santi's attention is taken by the great and sudden listing of the huge Battlestars, and the sudden quiet in the storm of assault. "Touch my ass again, end of the world or not, and I will take your balls as a trophy." That's suddenly called to some anonymous member of the crowd who's taken distraction as a drunken invitation. Someone in the crowd's still calm, anyway. Santiago can multi task. She backs up against a wall, plants herself there, and does her level best to finish off the bottle. It'll help with whatever comes next, unless that's rhythmic gymnastics. She's shit at that.

The Fleet's reprieve is short-lived. As soon as the firing line of twenty-seven ships breaks out of position, the enemy capital ships are launching volleys of missiles from whatever devilish mechanical bays lurk within their bone-white frames. The blackness of space is soon filled by the glint of starlight as what looks to be hundreds — nay, thousands — of gnat-like cylinders flash past the disabled Colonial Fleet, their deadly engines glowing a pulsing green as they thread through the sea of drifting ships: silent candles in the deepening night, as if carried aloft by a grim procession of faceless priests.

"What the frak are those?" Yeah. Calm? Not so much. The woman who's fallen to her knees is nearly catatonic with shock, but her call is nonetheless carried by a bunch of those civilians being forced down by Arkat, Cadmus, and the others. "Lords — did they just — "

"They just killed the whole damn Fleet — "

"What are we still doing here?"

"Come on, you frakkin' assholes, let us through!"

A cavalcade of voices rises above the crowd's stunned silence, though nobody yet dares to challenge the black-clad Marines and the weapons they've held aloft.

As for the corporal who's just been reprimanded by the sergeant in charge? "Got it, boss," she snaps, rifle lowering just a tad. "And you can tell this frakking bitch to can it. I'm not taking orders from no ship's counselor."

"Everyone! Make room for the personnel to get by! They need to get to their jobs!" Nikias shouts to the others nearby, hoping that a fellow civilian can calm down those that are not reassured by the military's handling of this. "We'll board soon, trust me." he adds, before casting a glance to Demos.

Callista nods to Damon and asks, "Can you shoot Petty Officer? We might be in for a rough ride." Nodding to King, she does her best to work with the marine, "Alright, you and your boys know your stuff. You and your men take point.." She looks back in the direction of the ballroom, "I had a feeling the corporal might shoot anyone who didn't listen to her, she seemed unbalance, so why don't you.." She motions to the fleeters, "If we're expecting boarders, have your marines pass out their sidearms to us and we'll take up the rear with one of your men." She looks the sergeant in the eye, not throwing her weight around but asking, "Sound good Sergeant?"

Alright. Damon might beat Sofia out in the pushing department, but she's a darn fine crowd pusher. Must be that experience with papers and red tape. "Sorry sir, I did wash my hands. Just so we don't lose you in this craziness," She grits her teeth as her foot gets stepped on. "Crewman Sofia Wolfe and Lieutenant-" She motions to Marcion. Sofia sees the events unfold. Her green eyes widen. Oh gods. Oh gods oh gods. She takes a deep breath. MANAGERIAL OVERDRIVE goooooooooooo- By now, she redoubles her efforts and manages to make it a little after Damon with poor Marcion in tow. "Will we need guns too?" The Crewman asks a marine in passing.

Margaret stays still and silent, finger off the trigger as she looks down to the increasingly panicky crowd. Her muscles are tense, standing out under her armor and dress uniform "Finger off the frakkin trigger" she growls to a private by her side.

"I can hold my own, Sir, but I ain't no pistol-sniper," Damon replies, his voice already hoarse from screaming at people to get out of his way. "Worst come to worst, I make an excellent meat shield." He's breathing hard, trying to slow himself down and get calm again - but Gods, it's hard. The knuckledragger's fists clench and unclench repeatedly.

The ranking sergeant here (King) just takes a moment to let some things run through his head. To him, the battle isn't even happening outside. He has to stay in his lane. First thing's first. "Corporal Walker." He says to the blond corporal who is acting up. "We will talk about your insubordination later." Platoon daddy doesn't like it when corporals act up. "Corporal Tiran!" He calls for Meg, "Come here and take Corporal Walker's place!" Then he points at Santi, "And you, let go of that man's hand. I won't have the MPs arrest you this time, but if I catch you pretending to be Fleet personnel again, I will eat your soul." Then he instructs his crew further. "Cerberus personnel, IDs out and get through here. Fast. Highest ranking first. You shouldn't need sidearms if we get through this quick, but my marines will pass them to you. Everybody understand?" He's talking fast but clearly in that authoritative tone learned from years of being an NCO and his own naturally pleasant voice.

Karthasi looks back toward the treatment being administered to the crowd, but, if her last post has taught her anything, it's not to question the Real Soldiers. Rank notwithstanding. She quietly and calmly does as she's told, one less problem for anyone to deal with. ID comes out and she moves along with the other officers as orderly as anyone could want. Or maybe that's just the hangover keeping her docile.

"Aye, aye Sarge" Meg says, with a parade-ground snap in her voice. She moves up to take the unfortunate Walker's place at the impromptu barricade. She slings her rifle carefully and gets ready to start to check ID's and usher people through as quickly as she can, her face hard and stern.

Marcion looks to Sofia, releasing her hand and patting her on shoulder. "Be safe. Get to Engineering as soon as you can." he then steps forward. "Lt. Alexander Marcion." He gets in line behind the Captain, looking down at the pistol he is handed as if looking at a particularly strange cat. "Uh, thank you."

Callista raises a hand and yells out again, "Cerberus personell, let's move!" She doesn't seem happy with leaving the civilians assigned to the Cerberus here and looks back to King, "Sergeant, I know you may not like it, but we're taking the QUODEL members and any other civilians that have been assigned to the Cerberus for whatever reason since she launched. We're not leaving them here…" She doesn't say it but with what's happening in space, the anchorage was a floating coffin. She extends her hand towards King for a sidearm, "I hope you're right, about not needing to do any fighting. We need to get as many of these people to safety as possible." She doesn't even seem to care about anyone elses orders, the sergeant or the corporal, "If you were on Cerberus before this gala, get your frakkin' ass moving now." The latter is mostly directed to Santiago.

"This is bullshit!" One particularly combative civilian has muscled his way to the front, his bald pate glistening with sweat. "I spent ten godsdamned days cooped up on your ship watching your frakking Deck crew talk about wanking. Just ask that guy!" He points to Damon, chubby finger accusatory. "Even gave him a good performance evaluation. Ask him! You have to let me through."

"No way!" This from a statuesque redheaded woman beside Santiago, whose elbow jostles the visitor's white dress as she strains forward in the crowd. "Nobody gets special treatment! We go where we are in line." The fact that she's reasonably close to the front of that line doesn't seem to matter.

"How unfair is that!" This, from a whiny and mousy little fellow by Cadmus and Arkat, whose ears have been perked up the whole time. "Just because those guys ran faster doesn't mean we get to — augh!" He whimpers as another flash of light explodes from the enemy vessels that, slowly but surely, have now begun to fire. And then, the dam breaks, as he sprints forward. "No! Won't let that happen! I'm going — I'm going now!"

As for Walker? "That's some straight officer pussy you're licking, Staff Sergeant." She's not moving; if anything, her hand clutches her weapon even tighter. "Arming the godsdamned POGs? Giving a gun to some chick whose job it is to talk to us and make us feel happy-happy-happy about ourselves? Frak no, Sergeant. We're Marines. We got this." The first few civilians are let in while she talks, their IDs checking out.

Sofie's got a gun, the whole fleet's come undone. What did that cylon doooo- Sofia nods. Then pauses. She gets a pistol eventually and frowns. "You too sir." She is moving along speedily. "The engines need you," She offers reassuringly before bolting squeezing through. Moving, moving, moving. She's a movin'. Her eyebrows lift at the disobedient Corporal. "Didn't this happen in a movie once?" No time to ponder. Go girl go!

Callista glares at corporal walker, interjecting quickly with, "One more word of insubordination Corporal and I'll see to it you're left here as well."

Cadmus turns to the man beside him, and addresses him with incredible calmness given the man's combative attitude. "Sir, if you try and break past the crew, I *will* knock you out. Failing that, I will be forced to shoot you. The only way we are going to keep YOU alive is to have trained people on that battlestar, manning all systems. Do I make myself clear?"

Damon all but tears his dogtags out from under his dress grays and produces his ID for verification. Getting in his place of priority behind the officers, he motions to a Marine for a sidearm. It's unloaded, the magazine checked, reloaded, and readied with a round in the chamber. When the civilian points an accusative finger toward him, Damon's entire body tenses up, pistol still in hand - but the moment passes Cadmus handles the man. "Gods be with us," he murmurs, casting a glance back to the viewports before starting to move out.

Arkat's eyes are on the whiny mouse the second the word 'Unfair' reaches his ears. The second mousey starts sprinting is the second the Sergeant moves to flank Cadmus, eyes narrowing and grip shifting on his rifle. It's not good for shooting, but it's a pretty outstanding stance for cracking someone in the nose with the stock if need be.

Santiago shoves off of the wall, and scoots closer to the checkpoint, her bottle now sufficiently empty. (There really wasn't that much left in it, anyway. She happened to get a waiter actually on the ball with his re-filling job. The jerk.) Though Ms. S. Santiago Blue is probably one of the more recognizable members of the QUODEL, simply by her tendency toward ridiculous footwear and ultra blonde hair, she does not have an ID in hand as she moves forward. Her father, and the Aquarian Quorum Rep, are nowhere to be seen. At the beginning of the party: Good. Now: Bad. "Aquarian QUODEL, coming through." If ever there was a time to walk like she owns the place, now is it.

Staff Sergeant King hands over the sidearm to Callista while he talks further. "Corporal Walker." He says, still doing all he can to keep this situation in check. "I do not wish to have to bring this to the Master At Arms so we'll handle this here. I am Staff Sergeant King. I am your platoon sergeant. You do as I say because you are a marine. Now, I get you're jealous that nobody wants to lick your pussy right now, but you have a job to do." his eyes keep darting back towards the rear door. "Now go down there and secure that firing sector. If someone nasty comes through here, we need your gun to put them down. You understand me?" He raises a hand to Santiago, "Hold on, ma'am, Cerberus crew is first."

In the middle of the crowd, Demos glances back to see the mousy man push forward toward Cadmus and Arkat. She nibbles her lower lip, but is really too far past their position to help. "Everyone stay calm. Que up but stay calm, please." Finally, she pushes through to the end of the crowd. She moves a few feet beyond the crowd, kneels in position and lifts her rifle to her shoulder, ready to watch the corridor behind them.

Callista waits for King to hand her the sidearm and since the Corporal isn't moving to let anyone by, she follows up her statement with, "Corporal, this is a combat situation and you need to follow orders immediately as you are in direct violation of section 7, line 4 of the Colonial Fleet code of conduct which you swore to follow." Her tone is almost pleading as she accepts the pistol from King, double checking it with practiced ease as she stares down the Corporal, sidearm loaded she waits for the woman to either listen to the orders she's been given by King or refuse and if she refuses, she is in trouble. Motioning to Santiago, she says, "Miss Blue, come on get through here now." She is very intent on getting everyone out of here in one piece.

"You 'ave been given a frakkin order Walker" Meg rumbles softly as she looks from her to the growing restlessness of the civilians "Let's keep it bleedin calm and don't frighten the frakkin civies" she adds softly, keeping her voice low to avoid doing the same herself, eyes scanning the people heading through.

As soon as he has been let through, Marcion pushes forward towards the main hallway, Gun forgotten in his hand. (Luckily, the safety is on.)

Karthasi looks hesitant, as though she ought to stay, but in the end, through cowardice, head swimming in Dionysus, or a simple lack of confidence in her ability to do anything of use here, she shows her ID, going on through with the NCOs, slightly out of the requested order.

"What are you going to do, huh? Tough guy?" The mousy fellow is still pushing forward, not even stopping to look at the Marine he's threatening. "I know you're a jarhead but you can count, right? Look at how many of us there are. Now look at how many of you there are. Going to shoot us? Huh? Don't think you've got that many bullets."

And that is what the crowd needed to hear. "You tell him!" hollers the guy whose back the mousy fellow is now pushing against — as he too starts to press forward.

"Look at what's happening!" shouts a woman in a lab coat, her glasses slipping down her face. "They're slaughtering us out there. And — " Her soprano catches in her throat. "And where did those little green things go?"

It's really hard to tell. Space is alight with the joy of combat, thousands of raiders versus thousands of malfunctioning fleet vipers and raptors. The fleet's battlestars are still horribly crippled, hanging in space like fat blimps on tethers, unable to shoot. And meanwhile, the destruction of the Colonial Fleet continues. Raiders tear through the swarms of defense birds, explosions lighting the vastness of space. A massive V of raiders has cut straight through their forces, plowing their way towards Picon unhindered, as conventional missiles streak forward at the defenseless Colonial ships…

"You sure you want to do this, Sarge?" Walker's voice is steel as she watches the crowd begin to surge. "Looks like you're going to need my gun. And — whoa. You over there in white. Where's your ID?" This, to Miss Blue. "No ID, you don't get in."

Santiago bellies right up to King. "Do you see this hair? Do you see this dress?" She eyes the taller man's hand, then flicks dark green eyes at the SSGT's. "I'm not drunk enough to withstand trampling by bug eyed suits. Make it fast." There's just a slight note of tension in her voice, and definitely a hint of that 'you're being timed' authority that only a politician's daughter can muster. Her eyes flick to Walker. "Does my dress look like it leaves room for ID? If you want to see the family crest tattoo, I'm going to have to be a lot further into the bottle."

It's like squeezing a marshmallow through a tube. Eventually Sofia pops through around the time Marcion and some others do. She has her sidearm, safety neatly left on. She gives the marines a sympathetic glance in passing but the sights - if she sees any - leave her wordless. She sprints along. As much as a slinky without stairs can.

Karthasi pauses, just past the checkpoint, and looks back to Walker, then the woman in white. "Excuse me," she speaks up, "She is part of the delegation, I have seen her at several chapel services." She can attest to that fact, at least. Whether she's believed will be another matter.

Callista doesn't hesitate in her action and raises her sidearm at Corporal Walker, directly pointed at the back of the woman's head, "Corporal, you are to stand down, you are hereby relieved of duty under the Colonial Fleet act." She motions to one of the marines, she is an officer afterall, "Take her weapon and bring her back to Cerberus, she's going to the brig."

Cadmus is about to say something to Mr. Mousy, but instead sighs and aborts his statement. Instead, he just says, "I don't have time to argue. You fight, we all jam up, we die gasping in space. We go through like adults, everyone gets on. You try and instigate something, we're done talking. You got me, sir? So cool it."

It is almost calm back here. Almost. The rumbling of the crowd is heard, yes. The whispered destruction clear around them. Lifting her wireless, Demos clicks it on, "All clear back here, Sarge. Might want to start sending civvies through, though. Maybe 20 at a time with a Marine to lead them. The Marines can cycle back. Just a suggestion." Clicking it off again, she hangs the device at her belt. Her eyes have not left the corridor behind the mob.

Sergeant King, on the other hand, is a little too drunk for this. Good thing it's at the point where training and authority are all that's up there right now. "Private Hudson, take Corporal Walker's weapon and escort her to the brig." That's cold, having one of her own fireteam do it. His tone makes it clear it wasn't his decision. He would much rather have her guarding the civvies. Now it's Santiago's turn. "I know who you are. I'm from Aquaria, afterall. However, there is an order of things. It's there for a reason. Wait your turn like everyone else. Fortunately for you, it just so happens to be so. And next time, carry a frakking purse." He then stops to catch his breath a little. Now it's time for Mr. Mousy. "Lance Corporal Cadmus is right, sir, if you fight with us all of our chances of dying increase by a lot. And they'll probably shut the bulkhead doors and then just shoot whoever manages to make it past us. Now then…" He's interrupted by the transmission from Demos. A lifesaver, she is. "Now, marines round up a group of 20 civilians each. Take them to the Civilian Guest Quarters. Leave a couple guards at the door, but then come /right back/. Double time."

"With respect, el-tee, you don't have the authority to do that." This, from one of the heretofore silent privates. This guy's got a massive frakkin' shotgun. "Walker's right, Sarge. You think we can control — "

And then, several things happen at once. Those bone-white ships begin spinning, their attention turning to the only battlestar that's really fighting back — Cerberus. It's hard to tell where the bow begins on those things, but they sure do look like they're maneuvering into firing position, their engines flaring blue — and then those isolated voices finally, finally converge in a chorus of panic, rage, and sheer undiluted terror. Bodies surge forward right when Santiago is waved through, crushing into Arkat and Cadmus; three by three, the civilians make their move, pressing forward as only a mob can do.

"Permission to fire!" shouts Walker over the sudden clamor, stumbling backwards as she's forced backwards with the rest of her team. "We can't hold them — "

And then the sharp report of a shotgun rings through the air, bullets spraying forward until they've embedded themselves in the chest of an onrushing journalist. There's a collective gasp — and then the rout is on as missile after missile after missile slams into the Anchorage to which the corridor is linked…

Callista eyes open wide at the situation, "HOLD YOUR FIRE MARINES! THESE ARE CIVILIANS!" She cannot believe the chaos and pandemonium happening, how quickly human beings devolved into a primitive mob like entity. She knows now, it's too late to try and get this situation under control, the civilians were not going to stop and neither were the scared and paniced marines. Grabbing Santiago by the arm to drag her away from the confusion, she says, "Miss Blue, get going now.." She tries her best to maintain control, "Please, stop, everyone calm down we can all get to the Battlestar." She knows her own words are lost with the sounds of gunfire and screaming, her voice sad, she looks to King, "You've gotta stop this Sergeant, these are innocent people…"

Nikias opens his mouth to speak, but there's nothing he can say that is going to avert this catastrophe. This crowd is going forward, whether or not everyone agrees with that. Pushed and jostled by panicked people, he tries his best to keep up, to keep from being falling under the mob and getting trampled.

Santiago watches King as he goes through his lecture, and a smile just teases her lips when he relents to let her pass. "Thank you, Sister," she acknowledges Greje's vouching for her identity, but doesn't actually verbally respond to the marine SSGT. She moves forward, and then all hell breaks loose behind her. With the report of the shotgun, Santiago jumps and stumbles a little when her heel catches the carpet. She grabs for the shoulder of a nearby marine to keep from falling, and then it's time to move! "Motherfff —" Callista is there to help, and Santi's on the move!

"Rack your fucking guns, stay calm!" Meg yells to those nominaly under her command after the barest instant's thought. She grabs a hold of the falling Walker, steadying her fellow marine and hoisting her foward towards safety as she herself is pushed foward. Her braced bulk is harder to move, but no-one can stand against panicking crowds. She starts to usher people past her, trying to keep things at least a little sane. As someone stumbles into her and bounces off she catches them and pushes them behind her into the crowd.

Frakking HELL. Stavrian was doing just fine on the whole standing thing until that happens, and a surge of people behind him nearly send him crashing into the wall. Someone's screaming in his ear and there's something wet on his cheek that might be a fleck of blood from said dead journalist.

It is the sound of the shotgun's fire that shakes Demos most, "Ah, frak." Rising, she turns her wireless to broadcast, "Attention. Attention. Hold your fire. Civilians, the corridor will collapse if too many people are in it at one time. Stop moving. Marines, Allow no more than 60 in that corridor at a time." She is making it up. But, it might keep people from mobbing the corridor. "Marines, take the first people to the Cerberus. Double time it. Civilians. Stop moving now."

It's all instinct once the rounds fly. King's finger starts to go for the trigger but he gets the better of himself. "CEASE FRAKKING FIRE!" He's shouting, trying to instruct and direct. The marine Santiago grabs for just happens to be his. He pulls her into his body and turns so his back is to the crowd and she's away from it. "MARINES, COVER THE CIVILIANS AS THEY PASS! WE'RE THE LAST ONES THROUGH, GODS DAMMIT!" He then lets Santiago go with a "Ma'am, you have to get moving."

And just like that, Arkat is screwed. The surge of people collide into him with… well, the force of a mob. His rifle gets pinned to his chest, the pressure a mix of hands trying to grab for the weapon and bodies just pinning into him. He staggers backwards, then begins to teeter over under the rush.

The first order of business in any mob situation is to avoid becoming penned-in. Consequently, the first action Cadmus takes when faced with a huge onrushing mob try and step back a pace, and then shove hard back on them, hoping Arkat steps up beside him. But that's not going to work with several *hundred* people. Instead, he starts working dirty - shoving some up against the wall, elbowing the next person who pushes, *tripping* one. This will let some by, but he seems to be hoping it will *slow* the inevitable door clog. The whole time he's jamming his thumb on that safety like there's no tomorrow.

There is a such thing as a fear so desperate and overpowering that it overrides all sense of reason — a horror so terrible that the human mind switches off and the animal mind takes over. And here, now, among these people seems to come none other than Phobos — fear Himself, worked as the Shield of Herakles in adamant unspeakable fury, staring backwards and forwards with eyes that glow with fire, and upon his grim brow there hovers one frightful Eris —

But his voice is that of a nameless navigation officer in CIC, whose call comes through the wireless in the room just loud enough for the Marines to hear. "Airlock crew, CIC. Close the airlocks now for emergency departure. Say again, close the airlocks now for emergency departure." And that blasted speaker system installed on the ceiling carries his words down the still-crowded corridor that rocks and rocks and rocks again while unremitting enemy fire slashes into the anchorage's armored hull.

As for Cadmus and Arkat, those brave souls just meters — miles, it seems, now — away from the hatch, they're soon to face another problem as trapped civilians reach out to wrest their guns from their hands.

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Polaris:5 vs Arkat:Athletic
< Polaris: Terrible Failure Arkat: Success
< Net Result: Arkat wins big.

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Polaris:5 vs Cadmus:Athletic
< Polaris: Success Cadmus: Success
< Net Result: DRAW

"Oh, FRAK no!" Cadmus shouts as the rifle spits fire along the tube. It's less a shout of horror, and more an 'oh, no you don't.' But the man has a deadlock on the rifle every bit as sure as the Marine's, and he's being borne under the press of bodies. Slowly one step back, then another - being pushed as surely as he's trying to step.

Nikias really has no choice in the matter. He can't turn around, he'll just get trampled if he tries that, and with that announcement he doesn't want to spend another second trapped here. Still, going forward means heading into the mess up ahead. "There's still marines back there! You can't close the airlock! You have to-OOF-You have let us all through!" he shouts to the marines ahead.

Callista is in the business of saving lives and she plans to stay until the last possible second, muttering to herself, "Too many lives have been lost today." Still trying to keep the civilians moving, she calls out loudly, her voice starting to crack a little due to screaming, "Hurry! Get the heck through those airlocks now! There's no time to waste, everyone move!" She's of course standing beside the airlocks trying to make sure as many make it through before she does, followed by the marines.

"No way to save 'em all!" screams Walker, though — to her credit — she hasn't yet fired, instead attempting to muscle the thundering herd of civilians away from the hatch. But several others have set up a human barricade of sorts around the airlock controls, with which they — as evaluators, after all — are intimately familiar. One civilian snatches a crowbar lying on the ground as he attempts to pry open the controls; others shield him with their bodies, pressing against the Marines while he works to disable the controls.

"Frak, frak" Meg says as she sees the civilians working at the controls "MOVE DOWN THE CORRDIOR" she yells a she swings her rifle butt at the nearest, kicking hard at another as she works to shift them away by main force.

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Polaris:6 vs Tiran:Athletic
< Polaris: Success Tiran: Good Success
< Net Result: Tiran wins.

Cadmus is breathing hard, and may be well-trained, but frak this: he disengages from the man he's wrestling with, swings a fist at the man's face in the hopes of stunning him long enough to snatch the rifle back, and then bolts down hall toward the airlock. The PA system's brought him back to reality: if he stays to fight with these people, he might be endangering other crewmen.

Santiago, long since through the airlock, thanks to the fast thinking soldiers, is on her way. Hanging around on the other side with the firing going on? Hell no. She's not a reporter.

The sound of that radio announcement is the death knell to any hope of an ordered retreat. Lifting her wireless again, Demos shifts it to com. Clicking it on, she speaks quietly, "Let 'em go, Sarge. Get as many aboard that ship as you can." She is at the back. She knows she is last. As the civilian horde moves like a wave into the ship, she follows them. Her rifle is checked once. The airlock is closing. Slowly, yes, but closing. Glancing around at those left, she lifts an arm in a time-honored 'charge' sweep. Then, she is running. Running down the corridor toward the ever shrinking window. Lifting her rifle, she holds it against her body, then leaps in a long diving roll through the airlock onto the ship and; hopefully, into those guarding the guy futzing with the controls.

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Polaris:6 vs Demos:Athletic
< Polaris: Success Demos: Success
< Net Result: DRAW

Rifles are less important than people. King drops his and grabs a hold of Callista. They were already close to the checkpoint so with her over his shoulder, it's easy for him to toss her through by charging the line and stopping very suddenly at the edge. Now it's his turn to join the fray in trying to stop the man messing with the controls.

Hands grab at Arkat's rifle at the sasme time his right foot shifts behind him. It buys him a little time to steady (being pushed along with Cadmus, mind you) before one hand moves to grip the barrel of his rifle, the other wraps around the stock, pushing against the crowd with it like an iron bar. Without further ado, his forehead hits the magazine release, and a fully-loaded metal container of 20 rounds drops between him, disappearing quickly into the advancing masses. You're damn right he never racked the bolt. Then, just like that, he lets go. A civillian suddenly finds himself holding the rifle he was fighting for. The Sergeant turns and bolts for the Airlock, close behind Cadmus.

Nikias is soon at the airlock, and the small gang of evaluators trying to sabotage it. "What the frak!" he exclaims, seeing other marines trying to stop them, but he doesn't stop and manages to squeeze through, and get to the checkpoint beyond.

And it's not just civilians, now. The seventy-odd still in the tube have been joined by a flood of Fleet personnel as well, olive, orange, and blue uniforms appearing down the bend as the station shudders again. "Move!" the flood of humanity seems to cry, and "Help!", and "In the name of the Lords, you can't leave us all here!" And around them the station rocks and rocks, creaking at the seams like the tube itself, which groans under the strain.

"Airlock crew, CIC, what is your status?" comes that dreadful voice once again. "Be advised: if the airlock is not shut within thirty seconds, the station itself will be eliminated, followed by mass decompressions in your section that would cripple our ability to jump."

And still the determined man works, his face covered in a sheen of sweat, his job more urgent now than ever before. "Cerberus can't go," he pants, crowbar slamming loudly against the bulkhead as he works. "Not with all those people. We can't go. We can't — not with all those people — we can't go — not with all those people — " A mantra for the ages.

And from Walker, looking up at the speakers askance: "Gods damn it, Sarge, let us fire or all of us frakkin' die!"

And that's when Staff Sergeant King makes the hardest choice he's ever had to make. He grabs his rifle once more and without a word raises it to fire on the man fiddling with the airlock controls. Grim stuff.

Callista is caught off-guard when King grabs her but she doesn't struggle or object to it, in fact it may be the only reason she manages to make it back to the Ceberus. As she's tossed unceremoniously into safety, she looks towards King appreciatively at his gallantry. She's on the other side of the airlock now and doing her best to help the last people through, her voice high-pitched and filled with worry for the man who just saved her life, "Sergeant, come on!!!!"

Margaret seems to have come to the same conclusion as King, as his rifle comes up so does hers. Her gunmetal grey eyes have never looked so hard despite a tear runing down her cheek as with all the snap of a parade ground she raises her rifle to her shoulder and opens fire at those around the control, aiming low for the legs to try to avoid killing them and also damaging the control, the roar of her rifle ehcoing around the tunnel.

Still sprinting, Arkat's attention is now on the airlock. And the people trying to bust it. As neither of those are conductive to his living for the future marine has little choice as he passes Callista, still at some pace. He snatches her pistol. It's downhill from there as he draws a bead, still moving.

Callista is standing in relative safety, the pistol she was formerly clutching tightly forgotten like an old tissue as she holds it in her hand so loosely it almost falls. It's not that she wasn't trained for combat and she was going to drop her gun at the first sign of it, it was the fact that this was a massacre. Eyes staring ahead fixated on the carnage that's begun, a tear rolls down her cheeks followed by another, "By the gods, it's come to this…" She doesn't stop the marines, she doesn't help them, she doesn't even seem to notice the fact that Arkat snatches her pistol from her hand. Mouthing the words softly to try and comfort those near to her, she says, "May the gods keep our immortal souls safe from harm, both the living and the innocent who have fallen.." She pauses, a crack in her voice, "..and may they honor the heroes.." She looks towards King and his marines with hope, "..that have sacrificed everything to give us our lives during this horror."

<COMBAT> Triggering new turn.
<COMBAT> Walker attacks Fleeing4 with Rifle - Moderate wound to Chest.
<COMBAT> Margaret fires a 3 round burst!
<COMBAT> Margaret attacks Fleeing2 with Rifle - Moderate wound to Abdomen.
<COMBAT> Margaret attacks Fleeing2 with Rifle - Serious wound to Abdomen.
<COMBAT> Margaret attacks Fleeing2 with Rifle - Moderate wound to Chest.
<COMBAT> Fleeing1 passes.
<COMBAT> Arkat attacks Fleeing3 with Pistol - Moderate wound to Left Arm.
<COMBAT> Tiddmouse attacks Fleeing4 with Rifle - Serious wound to Right Arm.
<COMBAT> Stavrian passes.
<COMBAT> Reuben passes.
<COMBAT> King fires a 3 round burst!
<COMBAT> King attacks Fleeing4 with Rifle - Serious wound to Chest.
<COMBAT> King attacks Fleeing4 with Rifle - Moderate wound to Chest.
<COMBAT> King attacks Fleeing4 with Rifle and MISSES!
<COMBAT> Hudson attacks Fleeing3 with Shotgun - Serious wound to Chest.
<COMBAT> Fleeing4 passes.
<COMBAT> Fleeing3 passes.
<COMBAT> Fleeing2 passes.
<COMBAT> Diesel attacks Fleeing2 with Rifle - Moderate wound to Right Arm.
<COMBAT> Callista passes.
<COMBAT> Polaris has started a new turn. Pose and choose your action.
<COMBAT> Fleeing3 has been KO'd!
<COMBAT> Fleeing4 has been KO'd!

Stavrian barely made it past where the Marines are now firing on the civilians by the airlock. He turns around on his heel, body tensed at the sound of the shooting.

The Marines still left in the corridor push their way to the checkpoint as their superior physical conditioning pays off. This is why they make 'em go through Basic, all things considered, though in their wake they leave behind several stumbling civilians whose eyes open in sheer terror as, from their vantage point by the bloodstained blue carpet, they see what fruit those green gnats have born:

Clouds. Thousands of clouds, hundreds of thousands of clouds, smoke and ash and incandescent heat that sets alight the waters and islands of Picon to the sharp crack of rifles and the acrid reeking smell of sulfur —

Peppered with bullets, two of the three remaining 'guards' collapse to the ground, blood pouring from gaping holes in their chest as more and more civilians flood through. Yet several more step in to fill the gap — women, this time, their faces a mask of agony as they move to defend the man still working, offering up their very bodies as a sacrifice for those behind them. And thus meet the fronts of battle here aboard Cerberus — dread it rings on either hand, as incarnate Strife stalks through the midst, with ghastly-faced Slaughter beside, and through the air upshrieks an awful indistinguishable roar for on the defenseless hosts fall the iron-hearted daimones of murder most foul — murder most necessary —

And below, the oceans of Picon burn.

Coming tromping down from the Cerebus, or rather rapid fire booting it would be another tram of marines, a rather tall one in their lead. The dark blacks showing well with the MP brassard on is arm. Lock and loaded Reuben and his own join into the madness at the airlock. Already people are firing, Mother frakking shit. "Move to cover our own." comes the thick accent of the Sagitarron Staff Sergeant as eyes are going straight to King. "Sergeant." needless to say the other needs to know what the hold up is…though given the look. Well He can figure it out for his own.

"MOVE OUT OF THE FRAKKIN WAY" Meg yells loudly even as her hands move through motions ingrained through untold hours of drill. Safety off, fire select to burst, finger on trigger, squeeze. She tries to clear her mind of just who she is firing on as her rifle roars "MOVE" she yells, then as other's step foward she squeezes the trigger again.

Still hastily approaching the airlock, Arkat's hand bobs enough to send a shot at a civillian's head hit their arm instead. Normally that'd be a good thing but… circumstances are odd, right now. Not that he's really got time to contemplate such things. Clock's ticking, and this is mostly survival instinct. Hell, he's not even giving a warning when he fires.

Callista sees Reuben enter and places a hand on his shoulder, not knowing his name but seeing the rank she point towards King and the team of marines fighting in the corridor ahead, "Sergeant, it's a grim business, one which no man should ever face but they need your help. Sergeant King and his men, they need you, the Cerberus needs you." She isn't saying it, but she's giving Reuben the rundown, her voice is so sad, "The're so scared, they just want to disable the airlock so they can all get onboard. It would be the end of us all though.." She looks at Reuben now clearly, her eyes meeting his own, "Help them please, we all need you." She feels sick to her stomach as she tries to tell Reuben to go join his fellow marines in firing on the civilians, gods she felt sick but she had to do it.

Stavrian still has his rifle, but it doesn't come up to point. Not yet, not without bullets flying back at the Marines doing their jobs. There are times when ethics feels the breeze of disturbance across what's right and wrong — this is most absurdly it. But no abandoning the group, not yet.

King keeps it simple for Reuben as he approaches, "FIRE, GET HIM OFF THE FRAKKING CONTROLS!" He's barking orders for others as well, "KEEP AWAY FROM HIM OR YOU DIE!" He's doing all he can, really. And he seems to have gotten a bit sloppy. Maybe it's the fact his eyes are watering up at this.

Nikias hears the shots, and the screams behind him, and he freezes in his steps. He's safe now, inside Cerberus, or at least safer than those still trapped in that corridor. He immediately regrets letting his mind dwell on it now; he knows it has to be done, but that doesn't make it any less palatable. And then he continues on, following the directions of shouting personnel, just wanting this day to be over.

"Fine." Reuben doesn't even flinch as he is moving into position. It's either this, or they die with the rest of them. The safety flicked off, before the MP is moving right over and towards the other marines. A hurry step. "Fire into them." Barked out , even as he is moving to cover the controls. Like hell he is going to get his ass sucked into space for this. In the old days they would be hacking at the line with an axe. This? Well, a gun is as sharp as an axe in such a situation.

<COMBAT> Triggering new turn.
<COMBAT> Margaret fires fullauto!
<COMBAT> Margaret attacks Fleeing2 with Rifle - Serious wound to Neck.
<COMBAT> Margaret attacks Fleeing2 with Rifle - Moderate wound to Chest.
<COMBAT> Margaret attacks Fleeing2 with Rifle - Serious wound to Abdomen.
<COMBAT> Margaret attacks Fleeing5 with Rifle - Moderate wound to Left Leg.
<COMBAT> Margaret attacks Fleeing5 with Rifle and MISSES!
<COMBAT> Margaret attacks Fleeing5 with Rifle and MISSES!
<COMBAT> Margaret attacks Fleeing6 with Rifle and MISSES!
<COMBAT> Margaret attacks Fleeing6 with Rifle - Moderate wound to Abdomen.
<COMBAT> Fleeing6 passes.
<COMBAT> Callista passes.
<COMBAT> Arkat attacks Fleeing6 with Pistol - Serious wound to Neck.
<COMBAT> Walker fires a 3 round burst!
<COMBAT> Walker attacks Fleeing5 with Rifle - Serious wound to Chest.
<COMBAT> Walker attacks Fleeing5 with Rifle - Serious wound to Neck.
<COMBAT> Walker attacks Fleeing5 with Rifle - Serious wound to Head.
<COMBAT> Tiddmouse attacks Fleeing2 with Rifle - Light wound to Chest.
<COMBAT> Stavrian passes.
<COMBAT> Reuben fires a 3 round burst!
<COMBAT> Reuben attacks Fleeing6 with Rifle - Moderate wound to Chest.
<COMBAT> Reuben attacks Fleeing6 with Rifle - Moderate wound to Neck.
<COMBAT> Reuben attacks Fleeing6 with Rifle - Serious wound to Neck.
<COMBAT> Hudson attacks Fleeing6 with Shotgun - Moderate wound to Chest.
<COMBAT> Fleeing5 passes.
<COMBAT> Fleeing2 passes.
<COMBAT> Fleeing1 passes.
<COMBAT> Diesel attacks Fleeing2 with Rifle - Moderate wound to Chest.
<COMBAT> King fires a 3 round burst!
<COMBAT> King attacks Fleeing5 with Rifle - Moderate wound to Abdomen.
<COMBAT> King attacks Fleeing5 with Rifle - Serious wound to Abdomen.
<COMBAT> King attacks Fleeing5 with Rifle - Serious wound to Chest.
<COMBAT> Polaris has started a new turn. Pose and choose your action.
<COMBAT> Fleeing2 has been KO'd!
<COMBAT> Fleeing5 has been KO'd!
<COMBAT> Fleeing6 has been KO'd!

Like bowling pins the civilians collapse. They're not even putting up a fight as heavy lead slams into their waiting bodies, and indeed on the women's faces there might be seen smiles of triumph and an exultation words cannot describe — rapture, perhaps, as the deck grows slippery with fresh-spilled blood. Clothes tear, flesh rends, and still the onrushing mass of people scramble forward onto the ship, the arms and legs of those at the back flailing out at the hair and heads of those in front. Such are the dominos of the Gods.

No more sacrifices, now. The man at the airlock finds himself defended by martyrs no longer; three enterprising souls have made for the arms locker left so conveniently unguarded by the overwhelmed Marines, grabbing rifles and jamming down the triggers. Rat-tat-tat-tat go those stubby black monsters, so beautifully syncopated with the groaning of the station disintegrating behind them.

Callista ducks for cover as shots are fired back on the marines even though she is out of harms way, glancing to Stavrian , Arkat and Reuben and trying not to feel helpless she calls out, "Cover them! We've got less then 15 seconds before that airlock shuts!" Her tone pleading as she calls out, "Sergeant King! Get you and your men back to the Cerberus, we've got you covered!" Of course, by covered she means the armed men near her, her weapon in the hands of Arkas.

"Tidd, Hudson, kneel!" barks Walker, pushing her men down as she whirls to line up a shot on the desperate civilians powering forward — no time to think; just time to shoot. Bullets ricochet everywhere, slamming into bulkheads, careening off walls, the clink-clink of brass casings falling like stars onto the hard deck beneath.

"Airlock crew, this is CIC — twenty seconds!" Such is the voice of Phobos. "Be advised: the station is about to blow, and we still show your airlock as open…"

And Arkat? Arkat just doesn't give a damn. His mind isn't thinking about much, judging by the fact his face is amazingly calm for someone putting round after round into unarmed people. Well, they were unarmed. Now, as sick as it is for his mind to rationalise, he's dying on the connecting bridge. With any luck, he can keep the numbers low. That's the rationalisation he's working with as he continues to squeeze the trigger at whoever walks between the sights first.

Bodies fall as Meg's well trained hands go through the drills with a parade ground snap. Thumb to full-auto, squeeze trigger. Shift aim. Bullets fly out as she calmly walks the autofire from person to person, eyes narrowed down in careful aim despite the tears flooding down her cheeks.

"Frak me." Stavrian barely registers Callista yelling at him, the rifle already up to shoulder the moment the crush of terrified people begin firing back on the Cerberus' Marine force. The butt's jammed against his formally gray-covered shoulder, and he quickly moves away from the psychiatrist to get a clear shot on one of the two aiming for the tall Corporal.

There's not even a blanche from Reuben as he steps calmly up into the firing line. His own target flinching upon being hit, which raises him right into his sights. And like that he opens up with a burst shot. Not even a look of malice as the blood sprays right up into a nice fine mist. He's seen worse and has been party to it, back home. And as the fire comes from their flank. "Frak." comes a curse, before the staff Sergeant's turning and moving a bit out to return fire. "FLANK. COVER!" to his own Marines turning to return fire. "King, Back it. We'll hold." and cut the damned line if they have to. Maraz will even do it himself.

<COMBAT> Triggering new turn.
<COMBAT> Arkat attacks Fleeing1 with Pistol - Moderate wound to Neck.
<COMBAT> Stavrian attacks Desperado3 with Rifle - Moderate wound to Chest.
<COMBAT> Reuben fires a 3 round burst!
<COMBAT> Reuben attacks Desperado1 with Rifle - Serious wound to Chest.
<COMBAT> Reuben attacks Desperado1 with Rifle - Serious wound to Chest.
<COMBAT> Reuben attacks Desperado1 with Rifle - Light wound to Chest.
<COMBAT> Walker attacks Desperado1 with Rifle - Serious wound to Chest.
<COMBAT> Tiddmouse attacks Desperado3 with Rifle - Serious wound to Head.
<COMBAT> Margaret fires fullauto!
<COMBAT> Margaret attacks Fleeing1 with Rifle - Moderate wound to Chest.
<COMBAT> Margaret attacks Fleeing1 with Rifle - Serious wound to Chest.
<COMBAT> Margaret attacks Desperado1 with Rifle - Moderate wound to Chest.
<COMBAT> Margaret attacks Desperado1 with Rifle - Serious wound to Neck.
<COMBAT> Margaret attacks Desperado3 with Rifle and MISSES!
<COMBAT> Margaret's weapon clicks empty.
<COMBAT> King fires a 3 round burst!
<COMBAT> King attacks Desperado2 with Rifle - Moderate wound to Right Hand.
<COMBAT> King attacks Desperado2 with Rifle - Moderate wound to Chest.
<COMBAT> King attacks Desperado2 with Rifle - Moderate wound to Chest.
<COMBAT> Hudson attacks Desperado2 with Shotgun - Serious wound to Chest.
<COMBAT> Fleeing1 passes.
<COMBAT> Diesel fires a 3 round burst!
<COMBAT> Diesel attacks Desperado1 with Rifle - Serious wound to Chest.
<COMBAT> Diesel attacks Desperado1 with Rifle - Moderate wound to Chest.
<COMBAT> Diesel attacks Desperado1 with Rifle - Moderate wound to Neck.
<COMBAT> Desperado3 attacks Margaret with Rifle - Moderate wound to Chest.
<COMBAT> Desperado2 attacks Arkat with Rifle and MISSES!
<COMBAT> Desperado1 attacks Margaret with Rifle and MISSES!
<COMBAT> Callista passes.
<COMBAT> Polaris has started a new turn. Pose and choose your action.
<COMBAT> Desperado1 has been KO'd!
<COMBAT> Desperado2 has been KO'd!
<COMBAT> Desperado3 has been KO'd!
<COMBAT> Fleeing1 has been KO'd!

After the latest burst of fire, King makes a quick decision. He starts moving as fast as he can, heading for the guy at the controls, going to make a heroic diving tackle….Or not. When your opponent has been liquified by gunfire, then you don't really need to tackle him. Once King's there, he hits the big red button (as is present at all important sci-fi controls) and lets the airlock shut finally. Then he reaches for the wireless and calmly states, "CIC, this is Airlock crew…All clear, over."

All clear…except for the bodies. Once King looks down to assess the situation he stops moving all together. He shivers and shakes a little and drops his rifle on the floor, quickly followed by his vest and helmet…

Just in time, too, for the anchorage has blown. Explosions tear through her tremendous frame as from her portside hangar bay there comes into view a small yacht bearing the Phoenix of the Colonies; over and under her soar a bevy of Raiders, KEW fire bursting from the tips of their cannons as they pound her engines and — more importantly — the boarding corridors through which are still thronging hundreds upon hundreds of people —

Like greased lightning, King is dashing to the airlock controls, the heel of his boot crushing the nose of the man whose crowbar is still clutched uselessly in his hand. Down the blast doors go as Walker's Marines turn their weapons onto the civilian and Fleet personnel still trying to surge in, causing them to reel backwards and out of the way of crunching steel. And the faces —

Black and yellow and red and white and all shades in between, some frozen in terror, some in peace, most in shock —

There's a massive shuddering and a deep rumble as Cerberus finally undocks. Still tethered to her boarding corridors on Picon, the walkways begin to snap and break apart with the force of the huge battlestar's escape; below her glass shatters and metal groans, both the two corridors breaking like splintering bones.

Walkways…packed full of terrified, fleeing people. Hundreds of them. From screaming to silence in the blink of an eye as the sound of their panicked shrieks are lost to space, bodies ripped and left to float in the vacuum. Raiders and Vipers alike careen straight through the breakage, glass spinning while through the viewport Picon burns — but Cerberus, at last, is loose.

What sweet price freedom.

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