PHD #413: EVENT - With Friends Like These
With Friends Like These
Summary: Rebellion and a kidnapping.
Date: 15 April 2042 AE
Related Logs: All 15 April logs.
Sawyer Bannik McQueen NPC Tucana 
The Wild Kaleidoscope
Post-Holocaust Day: #413 (and then some)

It's a seemingly trite old adage - one never knows what one is made of until one lives through dire times and desperate situations. Since the reveal of Kepner's betrayal and murder of his fellow soldiers and the even stranger source of 'help' that the Battlestar Cerberus has turned to, the triteness of said adage would be lost on almost anyone. While monitoring the situation in CIC, there have been a couple of system anomalies that have been detected in the bowels of the ship - one of the primary DRADIS power relays has apparently gone off the fritz. While it hasn't affected anything yet, loss of redundancy is bad. Very bad, and a pair of engineers have been dispatched to investigate - Petty Officer Third Class Bowman, a rather rotund, paranoid sort, and Specialist Tyr Bannik. Apparently the router that hosts it is unresponsive and will require a manual approach to fix. Two marines are escorting this team. This router is located near the Port Hangar Bay.

If Sawyer was seen lurking around the now-guarded doors to CIC, one of the computer specialists specifically would have pointed her out - "You wanna help? Go help these guys. Make yourself useful."

"We've really got to make this quick," Bannik is telling Bowman when he meets up with him around the stairwell. "I'm needed back in CIC to work on that nuke thing, because I don't have any idea how long —" He pauses, as if he's about to talk about Rejn, but then stops himself. "Because I don't know how long it will be before I'm needed up there again." As if somehow CIC couldn't make it through this without an earnest E-3 around.

Man, a girl steps away from her (well, short term) terminal to run down to the News Room to get her notes and she returns to CIC being barracaded. She has little time to think on the matter before she's being called away for something else, "Yeah, sure." Comes her distracted response, still wondering what all the commotion is, but for once in her life, Sawyer's doing as she's told. A civilian following orders, wonders will never cease. And so she shifts her notes and her little bag of tricks to her other hand and follows along with Bowman and Bannik and the Marines on their trip to the router.

"This is seriously frakked." Bowman licks his lips nervously and rubs his hands together. His green uniform ripples a bit - it never seems to fit right. He gives Bannik a sidelong glance but doesn't comment further, eyeing Sawyer, and then nervously looking towards the marines. "They're sending us on this 'milk run' because they can't spare hands down on the deck due to combat readiness." Of course, this is as the Cerberus' Air Wing is scrambling. There's an element of truth to that.

And the little party proceeds as they pour into the stairwell, the marines flanking them. Thump, thump, heavy bootsteps echo through the stairwell's chambers. "Relay's on the edge of Repair Bay Five-Bravo." Bowman continues, mostly to himself. "Let's get in there and see what's going 'wrong.' If anything is." He hefts his toolkit.

Bannik reaches into the top pocket of his greens and takes out a pen light. Whenever you're headed into a far-flung corner of the ship, it's always good to have a light at the ready. It's never well-lit when you're staring at wires, Bannik seems to find. "Yep. Let's get in, fix it, and get out, huh?" He gives his best reassuring smile, despite the chaos elsewhere.

Sawyer sticks close behind Bannik, not as used to trolling the back passageways of the Cerberus as the others. There are limits to even her security clearances, not that anyone is paying attention to such things during this chaotic time. For now, the Reporter stays blissfully quiet, trying to keep her mind clear so she can recall any knowledge that may be useful for fixing whatever it is that they think is borked. Which is to say: little.

The party rapidly approaches their destination. Upon exiting the stairwell, the scene unfolds — The Port Side Hangar Deck. A picture of hopping chaos as the air engagement outside the Cerberus unfolds. Birds have been scrambled and deck crew scurry about, performing work that Bannik would be no doubt familiar with. As everyone nears the router's mounting point, they will proceed into Hangar Bay 5B. Which is where everything goes wrong.

Specialist Stanley Prince and Petty Officer Second Class Margaret Agnew, from the Cerberus' deck crew are flanked by two marines, standing approximately fifteen feet from the mounting point which already had its access panel removed. They are approaching the router's access point now.

"Oh, they sent more help?" Agnew asks. These deck techs are pretty stand-up, reliable sorts as such people go. Prince points behind him. "We caught ourselves a traitor." One little omitted detail: the two marines present have their guns drawn, trained directly at the figure of one Lieutenant Trevor McQueen, hands behind his head and kneeing on the floor.

<FS3> Bannik rolls Alertness: Success.
<FS3> Sawyer rolls Alertness: Terrible Failure.

"Queenie?" Bannik's first sound is one of surpirse as he looks at the figure prostrate on the floor. Then he looks over at the Marines and the two technicians. "Prince? Agnew? What's going on here? How do you know that Queenie here's a bandit?"

"More help?" Sawyer looks questioningly at Bowman, having just been told that deck couldn't spare anyone to fix the relay himself. The sight of the man on his knees at gunpoint draws her up short. Displeasure is etched all over her face, but she waits for facts before forming any kind of judgment.

"No. I saw them fiddling and tried to, they'rewithKEPN— AUGH" McQueen starts, his eyes wide and face pale, trying desperately to force the words out before the inevitable comes, in the form of a boot to the side from one of the marines holding him at bay. "Nobody asked you."

Yeah, he shut up.

Prince gestures towards the router. "Yeah. We're going to get this little baby back on line. He only managed to cut the power before Agnew saw him here. Thanks for the help, but we're allright. We'll get this guy to the brig."

Meanwhile, the two marines with the party look at the other marines holding McQueen at bay. And to the pair of deckhands. And then to Bannik and Bowman. Bowman starts, "Uhh, are you sure you don't need help? I mean, we came all the way down here." He blinks, almost like a nervous twitch.

"Uh-huh." Bannik, for some reason, doesn't seem all that impressed by the explanation from the two deckhands. "And if Queenie here is a skinjob, why didn't you raise the bandit alarm? I've been in CIC since this whole thing started and we didn't get any reports from you guys about finding someone here." He glances towards the two Marines with him. He doesn't have a gun, so he's relying on them to back him up.

Sawyer nudges Bannik. Twice. Persistantly. It's clear, she doesn't like where any of this is going. "CIC sent us down here, so why don't we just double check. Make sure everything is in order. I'd hate to think we made the trip for nothing, right? You guys can handle the escorting this man up to the brig and start filling out all that nasty time consuming paperwork, and we'll take a look at getting that router back on line."

Briefly, the look on McQueen's face borders on indignant. "Wasn't saying he's a skinjob. Maybe But he could be with" Agnew points vaguely in the direction of the hangar deck proper. More specifically its exit. "We needed to address this first, and —"

Then and there, he is interrupted by a Raptor pilot in a flight suit. "Special ordinance is loaded on the bird." It's Lieutenant Ralph 'Jelly' Rollins, of the Harriers, a stocky, balding fellow. "And we've got the IFF to trigger. It's all been set up with the Ev—-" Suddenly, he falls silent, looking at Sawyer, Bannik, and their marines.

Meanwhile, one of the marines guarding McQueen shifts his gun as Bowman plows through to access the panel. And fires. At Bowman. It all happens quickly and the man goes slumping to the ground as his torso takes three rounds in the back.

"What the — what?" This is all moving very fast for Bannik and he's not all that sure what's going on. Bullets! More people! Things! He just tries to bolt around the corner, away from the people with the rifles shooting other people. "Frak. We need to raise the alarm." He keeps looking around for some sort of Wireless up to CIC. Somewhere.

The arrival of the Raptor pilot is all the confirmation that Sawyer needs that SOMETHING IS AWRY. Before she can open her mouth to warn the two marines she's with, a shot rings out and then another and another and Bowman goes slumping to the ground. There is a scream in her throat that gets stuck and only emerges as a whisper of a cry before she's dropping down to scramble out of the way. "We have to stop them!" And whether that's by reaching a wireless and calling for help, or…the or is the scary part: stop them themselves. And here Sawyer is without a weapon. What was it Tillman had once said about wanting to get her clearance so she could arm herself for that anti-cylon investigation? Seems like years ago.

Unfortunately, the conspirators, whoever and whatever they are, did one thing right - the power to the phone has been cut. Which our poor heroes will soon discover when they attempt to use the thing. Meanwhile - a lesson in subtraction. It's just addition in reverse. Just add bullets. The marines that were accompanying the little team from CIC draw their weapons, and one of them gets a shot off on the trigger-man who took down Bowman. His chest erupts in a fountain of gushy, icky red, and he goes down. Unfortunately the man who shot the trigger-man's victory is short-lived as he too is gunned down by McQueen's /other/ captor.

Meanwhile, McQueen takes this opportunity to remove his hands from his head and, as he's already kneeling, throws himself at the legs of the still-standing marine who was guarding him.

Not to be outdone, the last marine that was accompanying the CIC team suddenly crumples as another gunshot is heard, and "Jelly" can be seen standing with his sidearm still smoking, having capped that poor marine in the back.

"I'm sorry." He says, softly.

The other two deck crew are scrambling now, attempting to engage both Sawyer and Bannik. They're not armed, at least. Not visibly.

Bannik makes a bolt for the phone, grabbing it off of its hook. "Bandit! Bandit! Ban —" But it's just then that he realizes that it's been cut. His eyes wide, adrenalin running through his veins, he finds himself stuck between a guy with a gun and two deckhands without them. He seems to feel the deckhands are the lesser of two (three?) evils, and then makes a break for it, trying to break through them and try to raise the alarm past them.

<FS3> Sawyer rolls Firearms: Bad Failure.
<FS3> Bannik rolls Melee: Failure.
<FS3> Bannik rolls Melee: Terrible Failure.

All this is happening so fast, and the marines that were escorting them drop after valiantly defending both her and Bannik as well as the greater picture: the ship. Later, she'll chastise herself for her move, but Sawyer dives for one of the fallen marines, wrenching the sidearm from where it never had a chance to be drawn. She tries not to think too hard about the crimson stain on the handle that makes it slippery to hold, just aiming it in the vague direction of that pilot.

Another round goes off as Jelly fires in Sawyer's direction as she sees him going for the gun, it makes a divot in the ground right next to her. Just then, an alarm is heard in the vicinity of the hangar deck. Apparently people notice things like copious gunfire. "I don't like hitting girls. That was a warning." The Pilot says.

Meanwhile, the two deck techs are starting to force Bannik to the ground as he grapples with them. Agnew punches him in the gut, but not with a whole lot of force. "We're going easy on you. Always liked you, kid."

Meanwhile, the marine McQueen was wrestling with still has his smg and a few shots go off wildly as he grapples with the pilot. Queenie, however, didn't go for his main gun. He grabs the sidearm out of the marine's holster and proceeds to flip it around in his hand - pistol-whipping the UNHOLY FRAK out of the marine in the face.

Thud! Bannik is many things: Earnest, sweet, smart. But what he's not is sturdy. The punch to the gut takes the wind out of him and sends him tumbling to the deck. While he struggles, it's fairly ineffective. "What the frak do you want from us?" he shouts out. At least he still has his glasses on.

<FS3> Sawyer rolls Firearms +25: Great Success.

With a trembling hand, the Journalist tries to keep the barrel of the gun trained on the pilot cum traitor, her leg twitching away from where his bullet lodged itself in the deck so close, so very very close. If this is the end of days, Sawyer can say one thing: she went out on a high note. "Frak you." She says through grit teeth as her other hand clamps over the first on the grip of the pistol, and between beats of her racing heart, she pulls the trigger. Luckily for her? She has no problem hitting boys, even if it is by the grace of the gods. Maybe later, she'll try to convince herself that she wasn't shooting to kill. But the fact remains, the pilot crumples when his legs give out from underneath him, having just enough time to look startled before his eyes roll hard enough to flash the whites.

POP! One minute, Jelly stands. The next minute, Jelly falls, quivering on the floor much like his namesake.

"Call me a bloody /traitor/ you cowardly son of a bitch." A furious McQueen snarls as he gets the upper hand, knocking the marine to the ground finally and proceeding to kick the poor (murdering) man in the face. Repeatedly. Until he stops moving. The fingers on his gun go limp.

"Look. We want to fight the cylons. That's all. We're just doing what we signed up to do. It's obvious that Commander Kepner has a plan. We don't want to do anything to make things worse." Specialist Prince explains as he finally holds Bannik at bay with one arm. "C'mon. You can work with us. All /Colonel/ Pewter is going to do is hemm and haw about fishing and bullshit. He's probably going to take us down to Gemenon to sell us out to the Cylons. SELL US OUT, Tyr. He's a traitor. Just like th —"

POP! Another gunshot rings out and Specialist prince takes a bullet in the shoulder. This time the shooter is the pistol-packin' McQueen. Bannik doesn't have two people on him anymore, as the specialist is wincing in pain, clutching his shoulder. "So, uh, about who has the guns now, yeh? By the way - I /was/ tryin' to stop them." He briefly turns towards Sawyer, whose pistol is likely still smoking. "Listen. They've got more coming to seize the hangar deck. I overheard some of it. We need to get an alarm raised. And reset that bloody router before they accomplish whatever it was they were planning. They changed the local password." His gun moves to train on Agnew. "I'd consider a new outlook on life in the next five seconds if I were you."

Once Prince pulls his arm away from Bannik's shoulder, the other Specialist in this encounter, Tyr, realizes that he needs to make a break for the terminal. "Frak, frak, frak," he mutters, looking to start tapping at the terminal. "It's not a big deal. We just need to get the router reset. Get it off; get it back on. Just a minute to get in and thirty seconds to cycle the router, and we should be set."

"Frankly, I don't know who in Hades to trust anymore." Sawyer's voice quivers, but there's a thread of strength behind it. Enough is enough, already. Sawyer's gaze flickers to McQueen. "But seeming how you're not the one shooting at me, let's let the Specialist here sort things out, and we'll cover him long enough to do just that before we raise the alarm." There is no way in hell that she's lowering that weapon now. "And you!" She addresses Agnew, "Don't move. Please don't move." Because the thought of shooting another person is making her look a little pale.

"Nice shot. By the way." McQueen's voice rings out, drily. "And…thanks for at least bein' bloody sensible. I'll check the door just to guard our arses in case Jelly has more friends comin'. We can sort this out later, yeh?" He pauses a moment. "By the way. Thanks. Keep an eye on her while I do that?" He points at Agnew who is already under Sawyer's guard. "I have to say - you and Specialist Bannik here are becoming two of my /favorite/ people." His harsh accent lilts at the end of the sentence as he walks towards the door, scowling, leaving the fallen marines and heading towards the repair bay hatch.

Meanwhile, Bannik's maintenance proceeds more or less according to plan. The router is reset and back online. A few minutes pass and McQueen, ducks back into the repair bay hatch. "Listen, uhh, we'd better get moving. I think I see some more comin' and I /don't/ know whose side they're on."

"I've got it reset and I've got some encryption put on it," pants Bannik, getting up from where he was on his hands and knees working. "So if anyone comes in after, I doubt they'll be able to rehack it." He makes his way for the hatch, turning his head over at the fallen bodies there, retching. It's something to give him nightmares later.

The journalist steps up to Agnew, muttering, "I'm sorry for this." And there is a sharp inhale of breath as if she's gathering the courage or the stomach to do what she thinks has to be done. This is right before she cracks the woman with the butt of her weapon, looking to knock her out and prevent her from scrambling for a gun and shooting her or Bannik in the back as the scramble towards the hatch. Off she goes with the others, without having the heart to see if it even worked.

Agnew just stares at Sawyer openmouthed. Until she gets clocked and is given an involuntary nap. As the little group of three flees Repair Bay 5B, they make it out to the deck, proper. They clear the way to the deck proper, where an assault raptor, primed with warheads sits, hatch open, and as they move past it, there's a cry of "HE'S ESCAPED!" followed by a pistol shot aimed at McQueen, which goes wild. Klaxons are going off. Another deck grunt fired this shot, and a few more marines are at his heels, following him.

Queenie ducks into the Raptor with a stiff walk, not-quite-run. His right leg still seems a little bum. "Oh, you have to be bloody kidding me. We can hide in here and broadcast an alarm." He gestures for the other two to follow.

"If those were the infiltrators — what's going on?" Bannik is clearly confused beyond all belief, but he follows Queenie towards the Raptor. After all, this is where safety is, isn't it? "Why can't we raise an alarm from here? We're on the Deck proper now? People know me here." Yet he still follows.

Sawyer can barely think straight as she half throws herself into the Raptor, ending up on the floor while she backpedals until her back hits the ECO console. The how's and the why's and the what's are all sort of blurring together in a funny haze with the knowledge that she just likely shot and killed one man and pistol whipped another woman hanging over her head. Looking down to see the marine's blood on her hand, she drops the pistol she was carrying in a clatter to try and wipe off the red sticky subtance on her pants. "I don't know! I don't know!"

"Maybe, Specialist. Maybe. Probably. Do you want to chance that?" McQueen barks; a couple other bullets are fired as the other two pile into the raptor. " I don't. I need one of you to get on the horn and call CIC. We need to lock this place down before it boils over. Right now the safest place for us is /out/ of here. I'm askin' you both right now — do you trust me? Because I trust you. With my life. Work with me and we can stop Kepner and get out of this alive. And the only one who'll get in trouble is me." He stops, oddly, looking directly at Sawyer. And then Bannik. And then he gets into the pilot's seat in one swift, fluid motion, setting his gun down on his lap.

Bannik's brain is racing behind his actions. His actions have him moving towards the co-pilot's seat even as his mouth is saying: "What are we doing, Queenie? Is this the special Raptor that Jelly was talking about? The one with the special ordinance and the IFF set a certain way? What are we doing with all of this? How does this make us stop Kepner?" But even though he's questioning, you might notice that he's not saying 'no.'

Sawyer grabs the edge of the console and pulls herself up to her knees, trying to focus on something, anything, to quell the rising nausea in her throat. "Close the hatch, Specialist." Sawyer croaks, her voice raw. "I don't know how, and that'll keep them at bay for a little while longer while we sort this out." She studies the ECO's board, and finally recognizes a button which she hopes will transmit her voice to CIC. "I hold down this button? Frak. CIC, this is Sawyer Averies. Advising that there is hostile activity on the hangar deck. They are trying to seize control of the deck. Kepner! They are with Kepner. Four presumed dead…oh gods, I killed him…uh, one wounded. We're holed up in a Raptor. Shit is hitting the frakking fan! Alert: Bandit. I repeat, Alert: Bandit."

McQueen's chest rises. And then falls. He takes a heavy breath. And another, before snapping his head to one side and nodding at Sawyer. "That'll bring the cavalry. An' Be glad you can feel something. That's good. Just —" He switches his focus to Bannik now. "Those missile racks outside. Sounds Raptor was designed to ping friendly to the Evocati. I don't know what they were plannin', but I can pretty much guess what high-exposive ordinance /inside/ the Cerberus' flak ring from one of its own was designed to bloody do, yeh?" He pauses a moment. "We can lay low from these mutineers, do what the Evocati are expecting. Just — point it at them, y'see? They'll be occupied. And then jump out of harm's way til this blows over. Anyway, that's my plan. Or stay and hide in a one-sided gunfight hoping CIC sends us some more jarheads who are actually working for us instead of that rubber-faced twat Kepner." His tone is staccato, speaking quickly as he already starts fiddling with some switches, in a frantic rush. "At least, that's my plan. We save our arses and maybe everyone's. You in?"

"So if we go inside Areion's space pinging as one of the Evocati —" Bannik trails off, as if he's beginning to catch on. "But. There's so many people on that ship, Queenie. I mean." It's clearly just hitting him, the enormity of what he's about to do. Which isn't to say that he's unwilling to do it. He turns down to the control panel in front of him. He knows how one of these things is wired. He's just about never done it before. "Closing the hatch!" he announces. "Let's. Go do this."

"I don't…" Follow. Sawyer's words drop off as her eyes tick tock between both the men, as her mind races to catch up to the conversation about technical aspects she can't even begin to dream up, let alone understand. "Wait. We're going to make them blow up the Areion?!"

"No. The missiles. Instead of our people." McQueen adds as he starts fiddling with something around his neck. his dog-tags. "You think I would dare blow that thing up when Toast is on that ship?" He actually looks aghast at the thought.

McQueen continues to fiddle with the launch sequence. "You can stay here an' take your chances or come with me." He then starts to fiddle with the FTL console as well, thumbing through a few settings. "When we're done, you come back, safe. And Tyr, — if you get shit about this, the blame will fall squarely on me, yeh?"

"Okay." Bannik's response to McQueen's comment about the blame is somewhat distracted. Why is that? Because Tyr is focused on his co-pilot's console in front of him. "Okay. This makes more sense. This Raptor is kitted out with explosive-warhead missiles. It looks like the Evocati were planning on trying to target some key subsystems of Cerberus, not take it out." He turns his head over at Sawyer. "So. If we can take out — Queenie, what would be the best system to try to hit on Areion? Engines? Weapons?" He's now drifted over into a more tactician role somehow.

Sawyer shakes her head, not completely understanding but she seems relieved that the ship the captured department heads are onboard of isn't the target of this little…insanity. "There are less scared people with guns in here." Which is to say, three people and two guns as opposed to the chaos that's undoubtedly sprouting up outside. "I'm staying." Because it's too late for Sawyer to call shotgun, she settles into the ECO's chair, tucking one leg up to her chest because going completely fetal is out of the question.

"Oh, I'm scared. And I have a gun." McQueen says, cheerily. As he grins a wolfish grin. "Just remember my promise. I mean it." He looks towards sawyer and the grin fades. "I just know — sometimes you need to put the guns down. Speakin' of guns, Tyr, it's settled." He leans over and studies Bannik as he hits the ignition and the Raptor takes off. "We're goin' after the Gun." With that, the jets fire, and the Raptor clears the metal of the hangar deck, speeding towards the stars, and the chaos outside.

[Harrier-670: McQueen] Another blip appears on the DRADIS readings of the Colonial forces arrayed outside. A Raptor, loaded for bear with missile racks clears the Cerberus' hangar streaks through space leaving a small metallic glint amidst the fire and fury of the combat between the last known free ships helmed by humanity, still within the Cerberus' flak ring.

[Into the Wireless] McQueen howls, in a familiar voice over the comms. "Evocati, Evocati, Evocati. Luring our people with candy and false promises of gold, beer, and whores over the rainbow? Turning our own guns against us? One would think you're cheatin'."

[TAC3] (from "Dizzy" Drake) "That's why rainbows are so awesome," Drake sunnily proclaims.

"I thought that we were supposed to be flying under the radar, Queenie," Bannik replies when McQueen broadcasts over the radio. "Let's hope they don't figure out what's going on." Which 'they' Tyr is referring to is uncertain. Maybe the Cerberus pilots. Maybe the Areion ones. "All right. Gunning for the Gun. Let's do this." He brings his head up, eyes-behind-glasses focusing out the front window of the Raptor.

[TAC3] "Queenie" McQueen sounds almost contrite. "Sorry, Birdie. By the way, you little shits should know that Jelly is leaking blood all over hangar Bay 5B and your mutineers are goin' to be either dead or in hack. And Decoy — I was bored. I know I can't fly a Viper right now. But someone left this little bird fueled up and armed. You know what they say."

[Harrier-316: Keenan]
Miraculously, Keenan pilots the Raptor through the flak screen, and manages to survive the teeth-rattling concussive force that comes with being rocked by the explosions. Like a bullet from a pistol, however, they slip through and the targets on his viewscreen light up. "HOLY SHIT we made it, Pens. Lighting it up now."

[TAC3] Keenan says, ""…Areion vipers? I'm just curious, is your CIC screaming in your frakkin' headsets right now about a missile-armed Raptor inside your flak screen? Go frak yourselves. Tell Zeus Pom-Poms says hi.""

"Shut up! Just SHUT UP!" Sawyer cries from her seat behind the other two. "You're going to make us a target for every damn Viper in the skies that's under that bastard's control." Not to mention she'll be seeing Poor Jelly's face in her mind for a long time to come.

[BlackKnight-1117: Burke] "Dangit girl if you ain't makin' me miss that bucket them Areion boys done fried!" Burke says to the Viper as once again the shots fly wide of the target, the craft bucking and weaving as he overcompensates for a turn or two while on his attack run. He pauses a moment as he fires upon another target that just so happens to be passing near to him, glancing down at the almost alien-looking console, "Stop blinkin' at me!"

[Polly's Hoopty: Finch] Colonel Baer didn't get his reputation for no reason, and skilled though Dirk Finch might be, his audacious maneuver costs him dearly. Bullets slam into his nose cone, just barely missing his canopy, and tylium begins to leak from the side of his starboard wing. His already-wrecked tailfin is long gone by now, with only a web of steel where that once-proud squadron stencil had been. Birdie's stricken Viper spins out and away from the battle, little bits and pieces of her getting shredded by Areion's ring of flak. Yet somehow his engine still fires, and as Cerberus' Raptors finally begin the short hop back to base, they might see his barely-controlled plan on an intercept course for … the hangar.

"Sorry. This is how they play the game. Every one who takes notice of this will /stop/ shootin' our people. I only /look/ like an idiot, lady. I'm really not. Trust me." Viper jockey or not, McQueen seems to be able to maneuver the Raptor pretty well, although he moves the yoke a bit too hard at times. Planes fight, fly, and die as the Colonial craft pound the proverbial snot out of each other. "Tyr, keep an eye on weapons lock. I'll just need you to push the button and unload when we get one. Sawyer - " He gestures towards the FTL button. "I've spooled up a jump plot that will take us out of their firin' solution. Just hit the FTL when you're good. And the Gun? Naw, this is just to get their attention. Reaaady - and…Mark. We have lock! Hit it, Specialist!"

The firing button. The firing button. Come on, Tyr, you've done this a million times, repaired and maintained one of these. Now you just have to HIT it. And hit it Bannik does. Taking his index finger, he jams down on the button hard. "Missile away!" he shouts out as the feeling of rumble and SWOOSH that comes with the heavy munition releasing from its rack on the side of the Raptor comes through the cabin.

[Harrier-670: McQueen] The little Grand Theft Raptor that could flies a bit unsteadily, almost like its operator, although competent enough to actually fly it, is overcompensating a little bit too hard. As it navigates the void and alters its bearing, it points straight at the silhouette of the Areion. And those missile racks? They empty. Each warhead goes streaking towards the Areion, specifically a part of it. The Gun. These aren't nukes - but they are high-explosive warheads, though. Messy.

[TAC3] (from "Birdie" Finch) Static reigns before for one bright and beautiful instant Birdie's smug baritone cuts back into the channel. "Too bad you didn't kiss me the other day, Pops," he begins to say. "We could've made — " And then the rest is silence as his engine outright explodes, his landing skids wrenching away as he vanishes from sight into the gaping hangar beyond.

[Harrier-316: Bran] "I don't know if shit had anything to do with that piloting, Poms," Bran is definitely amused at least, "I'll give that flight a good ten out of ten. Let's see what the Are's got for us tonight." And with that, the ECO shifts his focus from electronic countermeasures to glorious, bright and flashy assault.

[TAC3] "Poppy" Khloe says, "Birdie, Poppy. Sing out!" The dramatic sound of Khloe trying to catch her breath in this insane, intense combat. "Major!"

[TAC3] "Decoy" Devlin says, "Bored?" Decoy laughs briefly, "Wow, Queenie, remind me to make sure to keep you entertained in the future. Unlimited strippers on me, just in case. Fly awesome out there, dude."

[TAC3] (from "Birdie" Finch) For a moment, Poppy might hear what she thinks is a dark, rich chuckle — but that's probably just the static.

[Harrier-316: Keenan]
"Thank Shakes for introducing me to the scrolls." Keenan says out of the side of his mouth. Turning the Raptor so that it's on a strafing run on the side of the Areion, he lines up the shot and pulls the trigger.

[Petrel-648: Pallas] Pallas decides to go over to Burke, since he seems to be having trouble with his swiped Areion Viper. Dodging and weaving through birds and KEW fire, he manages to get there taking no significant additional damage, giving a little roll to his formerly-captured wingman before resuming his attack on Maverick.

[TAC3] Burke says, "Uh, y'all, this is Burke. Anyone know what in th' heck the blinkin' blue light here means? Them ol' Vipers was hard 'nuff."

[BlackKnight-854: Drake] BAM! ZAP! POW! It's like one of those comic books turned block buster special effects movie spectacle the way 4 of the Evocati KEW into the hummingbird that is Dizzy, only for her to deflect or roll with the blows. Spinning-out, it takes her a moment to kip-up like some aerospace kung-fu diva.

[BlackKnight-662: Wade] Well, that Fedora wearing piss poor asshole can fly, everyone knows that. Wade's attack misses just very, very barely and he snarls. His attention moves for a moment to follow Birdie's Viper and he yells "Nooo!" inside his cockpit. His gaze returns to Baer now and he squeezes the control of his Viper, pushing the thruster even further, moving in to engage again. He'll see that this man goes straight to hell, even if his Viper turns to dust around him.

"Trust me trust me trust me, he says." Sawyer mutters darkly, turning to the console with her hands dancing a bare inch over the top of the console like she's pretending to play the piano. The finger twiddle helps locate things faster, honest. "Okay, I got it." That's what he was gesturing towards, right? "Ready?"

[TAC3] "Fiasco" Marduk says, "Burke! I couldn't remember your name, little dude. Fiasco here, and you my friend-in-crime have got a bandit on your tail. Evade your backwoods ass off and I'll see what I can do."

[BlackKnight-853: Khloe] At the apparent crash-landing and destruction of Birdie, Poppy seems to have forgotten her previous target of Thumper in favor of delivering Canceran justice to Papa. Her severely wounded bird limps off in the direction of the Areion CAG's, KEW blazing.

[Harrier-307: Evandreus] Evan's boat has come to something near on to a stop, a slow drift high over the battlefield, listening to the relatively spare chatter on the comms. He can't even really look at the devesation down below, eyes straying to something more generally placid, gazing at the stars while humanity does its best work to bash its own damned brain out. He gives a soft, put-upon sigh when Stiffy calls to his attention the incoming assailant, and he prepares evasives, not implementing them, yet, but beginning to turn and roll the fore of the ship south of carom in preparation for a maneuver when the other ship gets close enough.

[TAC3] "Spiral" Pallas says, "Blue light? Cut back on your *KRSHH* and give a little more *KRSHHH* to *KRSHHHH* systems, and for frak's sakes, don't *KRSHHHHHHH*"

[TAC3] Burke says, "Spiral, Burke. Ah'll, uh, try that. Thanks. Evadin' …"

"Nice!" McQueen exclaims to Bannik, adjusting the controls for jump preparation. "Allright, hit it! Jump!" He glances towards Sawyer with a sharp tilt of his head.

[BlackKnight-855: Devlin] Devlin always seemed to like the idea of targeting Baer more than any of the other people he was told to shoot at, so when Khloe breaks off to take aim at the Areion CAG, he follows suit.

Bannik has done his part. He's hit the red button. Now he waits for Sawyer to do her part, to get them away — out of the firing solution — and into wherever the heck that they are supposed to be.

[TAC3] (from "Dizzy" Drake) Again, there are tears in her voice, but they are hot with anger. "Hey, Papa. Is it true that you're such a crap lay that Toast had to call out some skinjob's name and she /still/ couldn't get off?"

You're damned if you do, you're damned if you don't. Sawyer squeezes her eyes shut to prepare herself for the jolt that always comes from a small craft making the making that faster-than-light transfer and she jams her finger down without so much as another word to warn the men.

[TAC3] "Queenie" McQueen makes one more transmission as his Raptor's payload empties. "This is for Calliope. And Commander Laughlin. And Toast, you bastards. If this doesn't work - tell her I love her, yeh?" And with that — silence.

[Hydra's MysteryMobile: Hydra] The Evocati do their level best to regroup in the chaos, but between the mutiny within their own ranks and the missiles suddenly flying at their ship from both Keenan's effort and the strange Raptor that suddenly entered the fray, Baer is losing his hold on them. Birdie's fiery spiral back toward the Areion seems to have taken the fight out of the Spectres that remain on the side of the Areion. It's an utter clusterfrak, but somehow it's working in Cerberus' favor.

[Harrier-670: McQueen] And just like that, the little Raptor that could flashes. And winks out of existence as its FTL drives are spooled up and jumps - away from the fray. It's gone.

And just like that, as Sawyer hits it, the little ship winks out of existence. The Areion, the Praetorian, the Corsair, the Cerberus, the Elpis — all gone. The blackness of space is replaced with the bright blue-orange of the outer atmosphere of a planet, as turbulence suddenly rocks the Raptor. The rocky, rugged terrain of the planet should be familiar to anyone who knows the Colonies. Suddenly, the Raptor's DRADIS console starts chirping. But more on that in a second. McQueen blinks a moment, barking out a single laugh.

"We made it. We're safe. You — I love you two, you know that?" He states. "I don't mean in a creepy way, yeh? Now — listen. I need to be completely honest here. I was honest about keeping you safe. You'll be back aboard the Cerberus when this is all over. They're probably going to kill /me/. But I don't care. Humanity is going to win this war. And survive. And find a new home." There's a pause. Oh, the planet? It's — Gemenon.

"The Twos and the Elevens seek an alliance with humanity. And they want to talk to some of its finest specimens."

There is this very long pause from Bannik. It's a very, very long pause. It's a good thing he isn't needed to actually fly this Raptor or avoid incoming ordinance or fire missiles or anything like that. Because it looks like his mind has just been blown. When he finally speaks, the first word he says is, as one might imagine, laced with surprise:

"Me? They want to talk to me? Not the Colonel or the CAG or — me?"

Well. Bannik handles it better than Sawyer, at least. Which is to say, she's immediately scrambling to find that gun she discarded not long ago. "You…you're a…" If her hand was shaking before when she held the gun, when she hefts it now, it looks like her arms are quaking with a seven-point-oh. "No. No no no no…" She couldn't get a shot off if she wanted, and she at least has the presence of mind to realize if she /did/ and managed to hit McQueen, there would be no way that they'd get home. "We..we…" She can't talk, much less form a sentence as she slips out of her chair and puts as much distance between herself and McQueen as possible. Which isn't much. "I killed someone! For you!"

"You killed someone who was going to murder your friends and destroy any chance of humanity's future. It sucks." McQueen calmly addresses Sawyer's obvious state of panic as he concentrates on working the controls, glancing over his shoulder. "Sawyer Averies. Please. If you kill me you kill us all. Trust me - I wasn't lying. For once. So much of what I've had to do /was/ a lie, but I told myself it was easier when I was tryin' to /save/ lives." His thick brows knit and his forehead wrinkles. Pale blue eyes then drift towards Bannik. "And Tyr - yeh. Sure, I would've /loved/ to invite the Colonel over for tea but that would be a bit too high-profile. Besides, the quality of a person doesn't have to do with rank. Or importance. It's so much more."

Just then, the comm system on the raptor crackles. A smooth-sounding, slightly familiar female voice comes across. "Colonial Raptor. Please identify yourself and state your intent. We are not hostile - as long as you are not."

Bannik gets up from the co-pilot's seat and begins to make his way over towards her. "Sawyer," he says quietly, trying to take a gentle, soothing tone with her. Talk her down. "You know McQueen. He's not any different than he was before. You just — look at him differently now. I believe him that he's going to take us back to Cerberus unharmed. So. Let's go in there, meet with the Twos and Elevens, and see how it goes. If Queenie wanted to kill us, he had any number of chances to do it, starting with when he got us in this Raptor and we closed the door behind us."

Sawyer's lips are pressed into a thin line so tight they have lost their color. Tears have sprung to her eyes as she focuses on Bannik's face and then she finally loosens her grip on the gun so it goes slack in her hand. Her arm extends and she offers the weapon to the Specialist lest she do something stupid. There is a thick sniffle from the woman before she wipes at both her eyes. "You better answer them." She says hoarsely, in as much of a consent as any.

"I'm sorry." McQueen says, simply. "I'm sorry if this hurts. But Bunny was right about one thing - we needed to sit down and talk. A long time ago. And nobody did. /We/ didn't. And nobody took responsibility." The look on his face isn't really light pity - it's the look of a parent trying to console an upset child. His head looks between the two people. "Thank you, Tyr. And thank you both." He reaches for the transmitter. "Little Sister. It's Cairn. I've come back. And I've brought some possible friends. Call the hounds off, will ya?"

The voice on the other end is suddenly loud, excited. "I almost…You son of a bitch! We almost gave up hope. You're cleared for landing at one-eight-five by seven-three."

McQueen offers simply, "Understood. See you soon." He seems a little nervous while talking to her. "Sorry, I get that a lot. Now, you're probably wondering a lot of things - what's a Cylon Saboteur doing trying to make nice? Well, I kind of quit my job when the bombs fell. It didn't feel like the right line of work. But I guess I can't hide anymore. They're probably going to do to me what they did to Salt, so the other Twos need to know what I know about God's plan. And the Gods' plan. They're one and the same, you know."

Bannik doesn't know a lot about weapons, but the one thing he did learn in sidearm familiarization in Basic is how to safe a weapon and remove its magazine. And that is what he does with Sawyer's pistol; he makes sure the safety is on and takes out the magazine. And then he takes the magazine and tosses it to the other side of the Raptor. This, apparently, is to make sure that no one does anything stupid. When McQueen speaks of the gods and God, something registers to him — or at least he thinks it does.

"The Unnamed?" he asks, hesitantly.

Sawyer slumps back against the wall, as if the last of her adrenaline was sapped away when Bannik plucked the weapon from her hand. "So that's what you are? Your model number is Two, yet you go by Cairn? Is that what we should call you then? Or do you prefer McQueen, still." These are the semantics the journalist decides to focus on first. "I want to know what to call you."

"Not the Unnamed - that's —" McQueen starts, as he guides the controls into a leisurely descent, RCS jets firing. DRADIS is still pinging numerous Cylon contacts in the sky. Durr. "That's complicated. And still something we're trying to figure out. We're learning our own history. But the Fives are wrong. God just is. And the Gods just are. I don't think there's any difference, other than point of view. God is everything. Which is why we have committed a terrbile sin that we can never erase."

He shrugs one shoulder. "Oh. It's my middle name, y'see." He addresses Sawyer, now, as the ship gets brought in for a final descent. "I am a Two. But some of us were designated names that stuck. It's part of how our society is sick. And broken. - We have individuals in a society that can't account for individuality. That's something I learned from humanity. And when I realized what I'd learned, I couldn't stop what was coming. Kepner's cursed ship and Hauck's weapons projects were the last straw, and we turned inward."

He coughs. "So, yeah. Call me whatever you'd like, I guess. It's like Tyr said. I always knew what I was." With this, he starts fumbling with one hand, pulling his dog tags off and setting them on the Raptor's dashboard. "When you go back, give these to Toast? Or Decoy? Or Bubbles. Well, not that any of them would touch them. I'd like them to have 'em, though."

Bannik reaches out and takes the dogtags, putting them in the pocket of his greens. "I'll give them to Psyche. Do you want me to tell her the truth? I think that she'll be the one who will understand better than anyone. And then she can talk to Decoy and Toast." Even though he's speaking to a Cylon — the elusive Two! — he has a certain rationality about him. Perhaps his panic has become so intense that its dissolved into a form of Zen.

"What do you. All of you want to know from us? What do you want to learn from us exemplars of humanity?"

"You're damn straight you can never erase it." Sawyer mutters darkly, flicking out one of the jumpseats with a her hand so she can sink into it, as opposed to the ECO chair or further up by McQueen himself. Her words, for once, don't seem aimed at the Two but the Cylon race as a whole. She leans over her hands to grind her palms into her wet eyes. "And what do you expect us to take /back/ with us? If we can't convince a few pilots to take your dog tags, how could we ever…" She cuts herself off. "You know what? Frak it." She sits up abruptly "I've always waited for the full story, for all the facts. Damned if I'm going to stop now. Lay it on me. Let's do this."

"And /that/, Sawyer, is all that I hoped for." McQueen says, simply, as the Raptor's yoke is shifted to slow the craft's descent. The vessel hovers over the ground below - pockmarks of a ruined landscape mixed with some unspoiled-looking (but probably all irradiated to Hell) terrain. Mountains, rivers, plateaus - and the elusive Lampridis Falls comes into view. And, wonder of wonders, the signs of a relatively intact town. A human settlement, in fact. There's a large clearing coming up as trees wave and bend at the wake of the approaching Raptor. Several humanoid figures are visible.

"I don't know, Tyr. I — I saw how Bubbles talked. And thought. She kissed me once, before the thole thing with Decoy. Did you know that? I like him. He's better for her anyway." And now it almost sounds like he's babbling. "I don't expect you to take anything back but the truth. Nobody's /tried/ this before. It may be too late — but I don't think so. I have an idea what my brothers and sisters found down here and if that's what I think it is, /everything/ has changed. You know about the Falls. Don't you?"

"I didn't know that, no." Bannik shakes his head. "But Decoy's a good guy. But I know the feeling. I —" His voice trails off. "Well, Bubbles means a lot to me, too, McQueen. I'll make sure she gets these." He pats his hand to his side, the pocket with the dog-tags, lightly. "I've heard about the Falls. I read about it in the after action report from the last recon mission to the planet. But what about it? What was found there?"

As the settle down, Sawyer's natural curiosity takes over, and she's slipping from her seat to edge up near the viewport of the Raptor, a sad smile on her face she likely doesn't even realize is there. "An old man spoke to me of them once. In a dream." Or a vision, with some others. "And then I got to see it from afar on the recent recon. Some how I always knew I'd end up here, I just don't think I could have ever fathomed who would have brought me. The old man said there was better fishing here…let's hope we're not the bait." She adds the last with a glance to Bannik before she looks back to Two for the answer to the most pressing question. What was found?

As the Raptor touches down, McQueen lets silence linger in the cockpit a few moments. Awkward silence, only interrupted my the hum of the ship's systems, ambient noise, and that still-pinging DRADIS. Which finally shuts off as he powers down the system. "Sorry, I shouldn't have told you about that. That's private. Anyway, yeah, she's a gem." This addressed, he comments on Sawyer's statement. "So you had the dreams too, yeh? That isn't a coincidence." He muses. "Nothing is, though." His brows knit as he brings the last bits of the craft offline and piles out of his seat, leaving his pistol untouched on the floor. "This place is important. I believe it was one of the first places visited by the humans who fled Kobol." He walks towards the hatch, popping it open, revealing — trees. And then people move into view.

Two Elevens, one with the same red headscarf from the video, the other in a plain white dress. Also - two men — Twos. One is shaved bald with two days' stubble, covered in dirt and what looks like construction or work clothes. The other is a lanky fellow, also sharing McQueen's features but obscured by a big, shaggy brown beard which trails below his neck. He also wears a tan fedora with a faded black feather in it. Topping off the ensemble is a faded t-shirt with the airbrushed images of several wolves, superimposed over a full moon in a nighttime sky. Classy.

"The people who fled from Kobol? You mean the people in the ancient ark that recovered?" Bannik seems to be trying to connect the things he knows with the things that McQueen is saying, his voice sounding terribly concentrated. Focus, Tyr. Focus. Don't get overwhelmed that you are now surrounded by skinjobs who somehow want to make a deal with you. "The drawings in the video you sent us are similar to the ones we found inside the ark."

Sawyer edges over to the open hatch, her fear and loathing being obfuscated by her inquisitive nature. Curiosity killed the Sawyer Cat? Well, hopefully not today. She lays a hand on the edge of the opening, taking a deep breath of the fresh air as it meets the recycled air they were breathing. They're not wielding torches or pitchforks, and so she actually steps out onto the wing of the Raptor. "Children. There were children last time we were here. And Centurians. There are catacombs beneath the temple, right? The underground places in the video."

McQueen starts, simply. "The Ark. Yes. That's /exactly/ where it came from, Tyr."

Before anyone else can talk or reply, the next words spoken are by the Eleven in the red headscarf. "There are some children here, yes. I — well, I like them, but we thought that maybe they need to be taught by one of their own. Sister Martine runs the schooling here." She steps forward. "Welcome to Gemenon." She says, a little awkwardly, gesturing towards the other Two with the big shaggy beard.

"Right. Welcome to Gemenon." He says in a crisp, Caprican accent. All four Cylons give the departing passengers a wide berth. "We felt that having Centurions here might be a little overbearing at first, so they are back there. Resting. They need their leisure time too." He states, gesturing back beyond the trees, smirking, where the glint of metal figures can /barely/ be spotted. "And the temple - yes, there's a lot to talk about. Especially the catacombs. We've found - well, first things first."

As McQueen departs, the bearded Two steps forward, and reaches back, and /smacks the frak/ out of his face, leaving a red handprint. McQueen himself yelps in surprise, but doesn't back away. The other man then hugs him and steps aside. "It's about damn time."

The red-headscarfed Cylon then walks forward and slaps McQueen in the face. "That's for making me pray so hard for your safety and well-being. Brother. Asshole." And then she leans forward and plants a big fat one right on his lips. McQueen yelps again, at first. "Yeah, yeah. Well. Yazdah. Ulf. Meet - Sawyer Averies and Tyr Bannik." He gestures towards the passengers.

Bannik takes a deep breath and slowly lets it out. "Yazdah. Ulf. It's a, well, it's not quite a pleasure to meet you, but it's an incredible honor that you would consider me someone worth talking to, I suppose." He doesn't seem to sure whether to offer his hand to shake or to bow or what he should do. So he just clasps his hands behind his back; parade rest is the refuge for the enlisted man. "I do not know what insight I can offer, but I am happy to give anything that I can of myself, for the betterment of — everyone left in the universe. I am happy to do that."

Sawyer offers as polite of a smile as she can muster to the others, but really, this is a lot to let all sink in. "So there are human adults too, it was hard to confirm when we were here by Raptor the week before last." Her eyes finally come back around to the two being introduced by name. "Sorry this wasn't under better circumstances. And the Specialist and I are both undoubtedly frazzeld as we just left our loved ones while they were under attack. All this is a bit much to digest. You…you wouldn't happen to have any coffee down here, would you?"

"Well — under attack? Wait. We'd been informed that Three's crackbrained plan had failed. He was acting independently though - sort of as we are." Ulf inquires, sharply, the hat drooping on his head a little bit. He scuffs a foot against the rock. He's wearing the classy ensemble of cargo pants and leather sandals with socks as well, which are a bit dirty. "And it is a pleasure to meet both of you. As far as 'worthy' goes, well, we assumed anyone who'd be willing to take a chance and speak with us would be of good character. Cairn-Two here'd vouch for you, and even though he's a traitor and a rogue he's an /excellent/ judge of character." The label of 'traitor' almost sounds admiring.

"I'm not a traitor, you hairy beast. I'm a /convert./." McQueen scowls, protesting and raises a hand. "I'll let them explain about the Areion." He gestures towards Bannik and Sawyer with that hand.

Yazdah steps in now. "Just one person looking at something wrong and saying 'this must be stopped' is worthy. Sometimes that's all it takes." She states. "And anyway - we are here because we are here. We have information on finding something dear to both our peoples. A new home - free of war. Death."

Something to note - all four skinjobs scowl at the mention of the Areion. Visibly.

"The commander of the Areion, Rudy Kepner, launched the culmination of his elaborate plan. He took all of the department heads and commanders in the Fleet captive and attacked all of the executive officers. He wanted to force the Fleet to engage in a final suicide run into Cylon-held space. We were — opposing that before we were brought here." Bannik's eyes flick among the skinjobs in front of him.

"I am sure you know many in the Fleet would not even consider working with any humanoid Cylons." He avoids the word 'skinjob.' "Under any circumstances. But I remember all that the Elevens have done for us. And I respect that and I want to hear you out."

"Did you know, then? Of the Gun and its capability?" Sawyer inquires when she notices them all darken as if on queue, her own hand lifting to her opposing wrist and rubbing the fading marks of her confinement from her time aboard the Areion. "He had us under the control of our own nukes. Something we were trying to overturn when your friend here secured us away and tried to turn the tides. He's not one of yours, then? Kepner, I mean. Who turned rogue himself? Because his team was using similar tricks to the way we broke your own encryption."

Ulf begins, arcing his head upward. "And yes. Believe it or not, Cylons do drink coffee. As do the other people here. Adults that is. I've been pulling some strings to round up what survivors we can. It's not an ideal life, but they're safe here for the time being until we have a better idea. Don't suppose your people can help us with that." He states, plainly before continuing, hands at his sides. "Walk with us." Gesturing, he begins to move towards the treeline as the other skinjobs follow. "We'd consider helping you with the Areion. Wih that little problem if it came to that. That ship was skulking around in our space for some time before it returned to the Colonies but I doubt /anyone/ would take kindly to a Basestar or two jumping in and interdicting that thing. That's even /if/ their weapon didn't fry us."

Yazdah grimaces at the two humans. "By stopping Kepner - you may have saved /us/ as well. I don't know /what/ happened to that ship. And thank you. I remember what happened on Leonis when I met some of you. I still have it, you know." She walks over towards a nearby tree and retrives a plain medical-issue cane.

Now it's McQueen's turn. "No. Kepner's nothing but humanity's own creature. You had monsters before you built us, remember?"

Bannik follows after the various Cylons, his hands still clasped behind his back. "I'm sorry if I'm asking too many questions too quickly," says Tyr, his eyes focusing off into the tree line. "But — what do you need our help for? You are far stronger than we are. You have centurions. You have far more processing power in your heads than in any of our computers. What would you desperately need the help of humanity for?

"What can we possibly offer you?"

"If we knew of a safe place to settle down, you can be assured that we would have already. When things like trees have become a novelty," Sawyer stoops to pick up a leaf that's blown up by their little landing zone, long dried and gone brittle, "We certainly aren't running around for fun." As Yazdah mentions Leonis, Sawyer musters a bit of a smile for that particular version of that particular model. "Well, if we're to help each other, I suppose there is a lot we need to learn about one another first. More us about you, I should think though."

"I don't think anyone's going to be offended or put off by — questions." Ulf's reply is immediate as he smiles a thin smile towards Bannik. "Although you're never going to understand everything in a short time." He turns back towards the treeline as he proceeds to lead the little party away from the landing zone — towards the metallic figures of the Centurions standing silent and still, their arms at their sides and with no visible weaponry 'drawn' as they do.

Yazdah taps her cane against the ground even though her gait shows no hint of needing one. She even whimsically twirls it from one side to the other. She now addresses Sawyer's immediate concern. "Well, that — I know this is getting ahead of ourselves, but finding a safe place to settle down — that's kind of what this is all about. But this goes back to what the Twos here were talking about. And the message you received. You /did/ decode that, didn't you?" She peers over at McQueen, her pale forehead scrunching as her eyes narrow. "Yeh. Clever, clever, all of you. But I was wondering about that. And also - what /about/ the Areion, Ulf? I was hoping we could — even if it was just a token force. I could lead it."

Ulf snickers. "Right. Leave it to you to volunteer for suicide. I will look into what we know of the situation and tell you all what we find. Including the two of you." He points to Sawyer and Bannik. "There's a lot to know about us - but remember one thing - we're as simultaneously different and /like/ you as we could be. Let me just tell you something else here - we've found something in that temple - something that is meant for /human/ eyes. We have Brother Solon and his followers working on it, and whatever other humans we've been able to safely," he makes a 'plucking' motion, 'pluck. But we need better. We need the Cerberus. And human and Cylon alike have forseen that nothing's going to get fixed until that ship gets here."

Bannik's eyes flick around to the Centurions here and there. He seems to be surprised to be near such things without having their hand LMGs firing at him. He turns to Ulf. "What's in the Temple? I thought were you still digging. I saw it in the video." Apparently they did, in fact, decode that video. "But — okay. Well. Okay." He just seems to — accept that.

"The first transmission was just an audio file. An old opera, if I am to understand correctly, religious in connotation. The second, well. The second is why I'm glad we're here, even if it wasn't under the best of circumstances. But why send the first, so cryptic in its meaning - which we still haven't decided on - when the second was so direct?" Those seem to be the first questions Sawyer settles on, instead of something more obvious like 'how can we defeat your kind'. "Will…will they let me touch them, I wonder." The Centurians, she means, as the journalist steps in that direction. Because, really, who else can say they touched one of these things while it was functional? It's called making the best out of a bad situation.

The walking (and talking) continues as the little party makes it through the tall, pine-needled trees which are miraculously holding some foliage. This /is/ higher ground however which ensures that the flora might be just a bit healthier than in some places. Yazdah's cane taps in the dirt idly. Tap. Tap. Tap. She seems to speak for the Centurions here, and answers Sawyer's question - "They know you are coming and as long as you aren't threatening - they will not threaten you. They know this is important." It might be just a trick of perspective, but the closest Centurion's head turns a little, red eyes scanning and focuses on the lead Eleven before tilting downward slightly and upward. It's an almost human gesture which might be view as either comforting or unnerving, depending on your point of view.

"The messages were purposely encoded. We couldn't risk them falling into the wrong hands and we /knew/ where Cairn-Two was." Ulf responds now, the other Eleven and Two disappear further into the tree line as they keep walking leaving the other five humanoid figures to chat. "He was to act as a key, literally and figuratively. So, yes, the fine fellow here with the distinct lack of beard" he notes dryly, "was to break the news to you one way or another. We weren't quite expecting /this/ but it's better than guns blazing."

The temple is - let me guess, man," McQueen's harsh accent rings clear - "A companion chamber to the Ark we found. That I'm guessing /you/ found before us, unless I'm bloody well mistaken, yeh? But what is /in/ it? It's a hint to where we all came from, I have no doubt, but —"

Ulf shakes his head excitedly. "From what we've been able to decipher - the temple is a record. Of history. A record of the times before the Exodus from Kobol. A record of habitable lands beyond Colonial space, just as God's messages foretold. Not that the…other models really paid attention, you see."

Blink. Blink. Blink. Well, that is something to send Bannik for a loop. "A history of time before the Exodus?" Blink. His eyes are wide indeed. "Well. That's something we're going to need to see, indeed. I am not sure how the Sister will feel about it." Sister Karthasi, apparently. "But I think, I think you're right. Until we figure this out, we're just going to be hitting and running and pricking the Cy — the other models —" He at least catches himself. "until we finally have a few bad breaks and that's the end of the line for us. This gives us a way forward. People will have to see that."

Well, it's one thing to say and quite another to do, isn't it? Sawyer hesitates for a moment while watching the Centurian, but eventually wills her feet to more forward again, hand outstretched to touch the metal of it's chest with trembling fingers. "How do they…I mean. Do you control them? Changed their programming?" She edges up onto her tiptoes to look him in the red scanning eye, but it's quite taller than she is. The journalist /is/ keeping track of the rest of the conversation, however. "Not to sound…rude, and you'll forgive me if I do but hopefully you can understand the why's of it. Tyr and I speak with you, we all discover this 'safe' place together…what's to keep one of you from accidently dying and then…downloading into a version of you that isn't so sympathetic?"

"Before the Exodus." Both McQueen and Ulf nod and say this in /unison./ "I hate it when you do that." McQueen adds, dryly. "But yeh, uh, the other models are still a problem, to put it /mildly/. Any word on getting their ear?" As they clear the treeline, the picture of a small town built around a breathtaking vista appears, glowing in the off-color sunlight of the late afternoon. That's exactly what it is. A town. With buildings, some not intact, but a large number of them showing signs of life and even active maintenance. There are makeshift scaffolds, boarded up windows and even intact windows. And there are — people in the distance. Humans, young and old, adults, even children, several dozen going about various tasks. Some of them see the little party and start walking rapidly towards the little group.
The centurion Sawyer touches doesn't flip out and whip out a chaingun or claw. Rather, it arches its head downwards to focus its red eye on the woman passively.

"These Centurions are —- well, trust me to say they're not under the direct orders of the Threes or a Cylon consensus at large. They're on board with us. They've been made to — understand." Yazdah explains this here.

McQueen whips his head about to study her sharply. "You mean to tell me that they're — free?"

Suddenly, Ulf stops in his tracks and holds up a hand. "We really shouldn't let this little secret get out. Um, so, yeah, Sawyer Averies. A Two never Downloads" he does in fact use this word "as anything other than a Two. Every model is like that. And the Twos and the Elevens have reached a consensus on our plan. We have no other workable choice anymore. " The bearded Cylon begins. "We're not exactly acting in full concert with the other Cylons. Same way Three's little crusade was his own. And that blasphemy on Leonis." He makes a sour face "was mainly Twelve's disaster. We're in a bit of an awkward state right now. Our goal is to produce results, and to come back to the others with a working system saying that we've found a permanent solution to our living situation — and humanity's. Humanity is given their own territory, some resources, we don't molest each other, and this sad little war comes to a close." A brief smile flickers across his face.

"Territory, huh? If I have to bloody live across the street from a Twelve, I think I'm going to go live in a cabin in the woods - /alone/. Which reminds me. When are they going to roll out the old box?"

Ulf and Yazdah both scowl and Ulf said, "That is not happening. We're — harboring you. There are Protocols to be followed and for now, the others aren't pushing the issue. We need what you know, and you've — you've your own path. Whether we agree with it exactly or not."

Bannik listens. Indeed, Bannik is on the edge of his metaphorical seat, hanging on every word leaving the skinjobs' — collective — mouths. "You mentioned that the Twos and the Elevens are in accord regarding this particular plan. But there was a One that helped us with Areion, Allan Rejn. And Salt, a Twelve, turned on his model. What role do they have with this? Are you saying that — while your models are in accord the other models have some — dissension in them?" He turns his head towards Sawyer, judging her reaction. He knows that she doesn't yet know about Rejn.

Sawyer's hand withdraws from the Centurian as if he suddently turned into lava, and her skin was getting seered. Of course, the affront was not on the metal thing's part, but on something Bannik just said. All she can respond with is disbelief as she whips around fast enough that her eyes lose focus for a millisecond, "I'm sorry what?!" It was much more calm and collected in her head, but vocally, it comes out a strangled shriek.

The next words are McQueen's "I /thought/ that fat, condescending bastard finally put the bottle down and decided to drop trou and bloody /do/ something. Relax - you didn't get to see him getting a lapdance at Colonial Pete's. Or maybe you did." The Cylon-turned-Pilot blinks awkwardly. "Ah. Uhh, this came out. No, uh, the Ones are sort of famous for their stupid-arse neutrality and refusal to actually /do/ anything about anything. Since that cat's out of the bag —" He looks at Sawyer, worried, and then to Bannik. "Um. I see you have some talkin' about this to do." Awkward.

Yazdah also looks concerned. "I am sorry. But Rejn - he was the First of us. The very first. He was trying to disarm some of the — nastier, more warlike projects when he was working as a human Administrator all those years. Like the Areion. /Especially/ the Areion." Her dark eyes turn downwards.
"Fitting that he pit himself against it after all." Ulf states. "The Ones don't like us. Always like a disapproving parent, no matter how much we grow and try to get them to listen to us —."

While this is happening, the throng of humans comes closer, and closer. The stocky priest from the video footage is at their fore and a wide-eyed, beaming smile is on his face. His priestly vestements are faded a bit but clean. And for that matter, the other humans aren't wearing rags - they have clean clothes and look to be a bit threadbare here and there but otherwise — healthy. Not quite like refugees. "Is it — We saw the Raptor and one of the Elevens told Sister Martine who told —" He babbles loudly.

Just then a little girl, probably no more than ten, her dark hair partially spilling over her eyes comes running towards the group. "CERBERUS" she yells with a lisp.

"CERBERUS." some of the crowd call out in unison. It's like a benediction. A greeting. Or a prayer. The priest repeats it. "Cerberus is coming! So Say We All."

Bannik has been worshipped as a god, he has experience with that sort of thing. But at the same time, the rush of the throng towards him, he seems uneasy. "I — I'm just a Specialist," says Tyr to no one in particular. "I. I'm going to do my best to try to get them to come because you have always helped us before. But — I don't know if I can make them do it. I can just try my best, I really can."

He pauses, and then he focuses on McQueen, putting a question to him directly: "What was your job? What were you supposed to do before the bombs hit? What — what were you supposed to do to make sure we didn't live?" It's like he has to know this to truly make peace with Cylon Queenie.

The humans. The joyous cry of 'Cerberus'. The details of Rejn's kind. They'll all have to wait, Sawyer begging off with a raised hand and a single finger held up in the universal 'excuse me one second' sort of gesture. She can't get far, wishes it were further really, but numb legs just won't carry her far enough to make it to the trees. Instead of a trunk, she braces her hand on a Metaloid's thigh and leans over behind him, emptying her stomach contents until there is only the painful heave of having no more to give.

Not squeamish but not excessively pushy, it may be that Yazdah's time with humanity has made her a little less clueless, naive, or socially awkward than she first appeared. She takes a few tentative steps towards Sawyer and merely watches her, holding up a hand towards the others. "I understand if you need time. If you need help I am right here." She says, succintly, stopping halfway between the reporter and the others and granting her her space. Her voice is oddly soothing. Even through the sound of poor Sawyer's yakking.

"Cerberus!" A few more cries of, yes, Bannik, /worship/, erupt from the others. "Margot - don't be in a hurry!" He calls out to the little girl who finally slows as her name is called. "Wait for us." The priest waves out as they continue to approach.

"Brother Solon, High Priest of Aphrodite." Ulf states. "Excuse me a second." He walks /towards/ the humans now after glancing at Bannik and McQueen, letting the two talk.

"I was supposed t' supervise the 'pacification' of any Colonial ships not compromised by the sabotage." He begins, looking from Sawyer at first and then to Bannik. There's a bit of a blank look on his face as his eyes narrow. "Using whatever means necessary. My second task was then to report in their destruction. I decided that the first part was — unnecessary." There's a harsh emphasis on the last word.

"Okay." Bannik seems to accept that. "Okay." He changes gears.
"So — what's the alliance that you're proposing? What do you give? What do we get? What do we give? I suppose that is what my commanders are going to want to know." He's really trying to be the Diplomat on Behalf of Humanity here. But the uncertainty in his voice — that tone of 'I think I'm supposed to say this?' — undermines his cred somewhat.

Sawyer remains doubled over until she's sure there won't be any more surpised spasms, leaving Bannik to fend for himself on behalf of humanity for a moment longer. She pats the Centurian as she straightens away, "Sorry about that, big guy." Muttered quietly, as if the Tincan can understand. He's been 'freed', whatever that means, so he at least deserved some sort of apology for wretching on his metal shoes.

The journalist turns back partway, looking to Yazdah sidelong while sheepishly wiping her mouth on her sleeve. "It's a good thing there are only a finite number of models of you guys. A girl can only take so many surprises in one day."

Whirr. Whirr. The Centurion's head spins back around, bird-like, still studying Sawyer. And then the head 'nods', clearly responding to her. Yazdah responds, her lips pursed, "Well. We don't always /look/ different, but — I see what you're saying. I'm sorry." She looks unsure when she says it, as if mulling over whether or not it's even appropriate. It still sounds sincere.

"They were unprepared for Salt bein' unable to do what they wanted him to do." McQueen amends, hastily. "They were /really/ unprepared for me just flat out sayin', 'This is horse shit.' Which I'd been sayin' for months, but it's not like anyone listens to voices like ours until it's too bloody late." He adds, bitterly. There's some sort of wounded pride there, out in the open. "But what you're asking? We have the basics. The details just need to be filled in. But from where I'm standing, we need humanity's knowledge. Humans have seen things. Found things. We need humanity to study that temple and get inside to corroborate what they —" He shakes his head, mulling over the implications here, "Well, /we/ have found in that Temple and elsewhere. In return, we may well negotiate a full-on ceasefire and find a place to live where human and cylon go their own way. And maybe we'll even survive a generation or two. There are more survivors. Ulf and the gang've been seein' to that. All you have to do is work with us here. It's — I don't know how we'll strongarm the others though but I think Ulf has a plan, if I know him. I /know/ she does." He points at Yazdah in the distance. "A word of advice about the Elevens - they're a lot more determined than some give 'em credit for. Especially her."

Meanwhile, Ulf has caught up with Brother Solon and — suddenly the two of them throw their arms around each other and embrace warmly. "Thank you, Brother. Thank you for having faith in me." They're close enough now to the little party for those words to be recognized.

"Okay. I don't think some people will want to negotiate with Cylons, will be satisfied with anything less than a full-on attack and ongoing war against the Cylons, but." Bannik's voice trails. "Well. I think what just happened with Areion will make people less resolute in that particular belief." Tyr Bannik, ladies and gentlemen. Master of Understatement.

He then turns his attention towards Brother Solon and the Eleven. But he says nothing for now.

Sawyer has no response for Yazdah, because honestly, anything would seem paltry given the current situation. "Let's catch up with the others. I have a feeling this is going to be a long night, and I believe I'm owed some coffee." She blots her mouth a little further on the back of her hand, but still that acrid bile burns her throat.

"Coffee. Water. Whatever we have we will share. That's what got people here to sit down and talk. That and the fact that some of what the other models have shown was downright — well, I won't pander, Ms. Averies. You know what cruelty is like." Yazdah states sincerely. She gestures the woman along. The Centurions hang back, watching. One of them starts gazing up at the sky.

McQueen's immediate reaction towards Bannik is a rueful smirk. "People sometimes rely on harsh lessons. Problem with bloody Kepner was that his 'Now is the Time for Heroes' shite just sounded so good. Right up to the everybody dying part." He stares down at the ground. "I'll catch up with you in ten minutes or so, yeh?. I think I need a few minutes alone. If you don't mind. They'll show you around. And I promise, we'll fill in the blanks as best we /can/."

The other little crowd of humans and Cylon-Two await the others.

Several days pass, on Gemenon's battered surface. The sun rises and falls, as the two humans McQueen brought to the oft-mentioned site of Lapridis Falls are shown around. A scattered, frightened colony of humans trying to scratch out a temporary living, strangely amongst a number of those who tried their hardest to eradicate their civilization. They are there, though, and a fragile peace is kept. Oh, there's sometimes grumbling. There's sometimes fear, but there is nothing displayed that hints at a deeper, sinister plan. The outer portion of the Temple that they were stuck at is seen, the same ancient, mystical chamber that was shown on the video. The same mysteries remain, waiting to be unlocked. Whatever the key is, the lock remains undisturbed for now.

Plans are discussed for the future. The offer the Cylons are placing on the table, as human and Cylon work side by side, getting their hands dirty - the path to a new home and a plan to eventually leverage an end to the war. Some details are still fuzzy but time uncovers new surprising things about the two people.

As several days pass, the Raptor is fuelled up. The two humans are left with an Eleven who is geared up in a sleek black unmarked flight suit who has volunteered to return them to BSG-132 as promised. As news of Kepner's defeat reaches the Cylons, there is a visible atmosphere of relaxation, but there's something odd about it - nobody seems that surprised. The name on everyone's lips is still, "Cerberus. Cerberus." Kepner was right about one thing - It is a time for heroes. It is a time for legends, too, and this ship is a living one.

McQueen stands outside the Raptor as Bannik, Sawyer, and their pilot make ready to depart. "Don't bloody know /where/ I'm going to end up. But I don't think I can go back there. Not now." The other Cylons seem adamant too. Also adamant about 'protecting' him. "Maybe I'll see y' again. God willing. /Gods/ willing." He gives the Raptor one last wan smile before turning away as they board.

Bannik goes to step into the Raptor, clapping McQueen hard on the shoulder as he does. "Take care of yourself, Queenie. You'll be in my prayers. All of you will. I'll do the best I can to bring them here. I promise I will." A long pause, and then, just:

"Thank you."

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