PHD #078: EVENT - Zero Hour Part I
Zero Hour Part I
Summary: In which humans are herded like sheep.
Date: 15 May 2041 AE
Related Logs: Concluded in A Lie Never Lives to Grow Old.
Sitka Covington Samuel Lunair Sholty Croke NPC Polaris 
Bradley D. Leyman Memorial Starport — Kythera — Leonis
Bradley D. Leyman Memorial Starport was once the busiest transport hub on all of Leonis, and its soaring spires were a familiar sight to businessmen rushing in and out for a brief afternoon meeting. It was to Leyman Memorial that the citizens of Kythera fled, and the fortunate ones even managed to get off the ground before a Cylon tactical nuke exploded directly above the Starport. The resulting blast has made it difficult to tell one pile of carbon from another. Not even individual ships can be distinguished from another: as exploding tylium created a deadly chain of secondary explosions in the sky above Kythera, the extreme heat liquefied both ships and anything man built below. Long since returned to room temperature, Leyman and the surrounding area is now a metallic wasteland where nothing will ever grow or live again.
Post-Holocaust Day: #78

It's in the 'surrounding area' that a halt to the ragged Colonial convoy was finally ordered at 1850 hours. Battered drivers parked equally-battered ATVs beside the ruins of what may at one time have been a garage, their hulls down to provide cover against any incoming attack — for in a city, bears and wolves are far less dangerous than the mechanical beasts that almost assuredly lurk within. And vehicle-less, with naught but the bullets in their guns and the clothes off their back, a scout team of for was dispatched to the city with one simple job: to search for shelter, which obviously won't be found in this chunk of heavily-irradiated land, and report back as soon as humanly possible.

2055 hours. 2056. 2057. The sun's long since set — and still, no word has come.

Croke and Sholty are leaned against one of the ATVs sharing their last cigarette. The Marine has his rifle slung around the front of his chest and Corpsman Croke is readjusting the straps on his backpack, cracking his neck. "I'd frak a bear for another pack of smokes at this point," Croke offers in a grunt that's as low as a whisper. "You'd frak a bear just for the reach-around," comes the equally quiet retort from Sholty. The cherry glows in front of Croke's face, illuminating the wry smirk. "And you'd be jealous."

Some people get grouchy when they're not quite healthy. One of them would be Samuel, as he paces around a bit near one of those ATVs. He keeps silent for now, just looking and pacing, with a bit of a grimace.

Lunair mercifully doesn't hear the talk of bears and reacharounds. Bears are terrible about the reach arounds. Or something. They tend to leave once the pic a nic baskets come out. She just hums softly, considering the journey. She's near Samuel once they stop and - looks to him, "How are you corporal?" She asks quietly. Lunair seems withdrawn these days.

Sitka is seated on the ground, back resting against one of the parked ATVs, possibly trying to find some respite from the heat that's dogged the group throughout the day, and still radiates from the buckled slag of a landscape. Lacking a smoke, a beer or even a pinch of the precious Stash, he's got his head pitched forward and his fingers woven through dusty, disheveled hair. Every so often he checks his watch, and then checks the horizon with slightly squinted eyes. Still nothing.

Croke hands off the smoke to Sholty and the PFC nods in agreement. "Ain't my fault. Just born for want." A drag lights up his face. "Just..not wanting to be a bear-frakker." The smoke is exhaled to the air overhead and he hands the dwindling butt back to Croke. "Whatever. Hey, I ever tell you about my Aunt? Used to wrestle pigs on Gemenon." His eyes widen as if the expression adds credibility. "Used to say that it was the only humane way to kill them. Love me some ham." Toad takes the last drag and drops it to the ground to get crushed under his boot.

Samuel pauses a bit at Lunair's words, "Rather useless at the moment, sir," he offers a bit quietly, gesturing to himself. "Brain and feet still work well. I could have been of some use out there…" He grimaces a little bit, going silent now.

Sitka rubs the palm of a grimy hand across his face a couple of times, checks his holstered sidearm, and reaches for the rifle leaned up against the ATV next to him. The conversation about pigs and bears and reach arounds briefly garners his attention — and amusement — as he clambers wearily to his feet. "I'm going to take a leak," he blandly informs the nearest marine standing watch. "Holler if you spot them."

Lunair looks sympathetic, "You took a beating. Not your fault. I feel useless sometimes too… don't feel too bad," She shakes her head. "You did well and fought hard. Now work on not getting hit again so you can heal." Wow. Talk about /awesome/ speeches. She looks flustered briefly. "You're never useless though. Okay?" She murmurs. She looks around, trying not to hear the discussion of bear frakking. Nooooooooo.

"But…" Samuel begins, before he shakes his head a little bit, going silent for a little while. "Yes, sir," he says, after a few moments of pause, and a few deep breaths. Looking around for a few moments.

Shulty taps two fingers to his temple at Sitka's notice. "Give 'em hell, sir." His attention then falls back to Croke. "Your aunt wrestled slaughter them? Godsdamn what kind of redneck are you?" Croke almost looks indignant. "I'm the best kind. Trucks, guns, explosives. I once skinned a possum with a fork. Now I've got some kinda damned medical code about harming others. Don't be a Corpsman." Shulty just stares at the PO2 under lidded eyes. "Lemme guess, you also wipe your ass with cactus." Croke glances away as he looks to the horizon. "Psh. Eighty grit sandpaper."

The salute tossed his way isn't even returned as the Captain lumbers off in the direction of a crumbled section of wall heaped with twisted metal and wiring, harnessing unfastened with a few rustles and snaps before he vanishes around behind it.

"But?" Headtilt. Lunair peers at Samuel. She rubs the back of her head. "Er, look. Speeches aren't my thing. But…" He probably noticed. Cough. Fidget. More awkward than a cat trying to explain calculus. She just sighs and looks around. Lunair glances around. She just takes a spot near poor Samuel now. "… I tried." Gloom. Confidence ebbs and flows, and she tries not to think about it too much. Buck up! "Right. Anyway. Keep our eyes open I guess." She looks around. Trying not to think about the conversations at hand.

"I hate you, Toad. Damned smartass." Shulty looks down to the floor as he rests his arms across the rifle slung at his chest. "Aw c'mon. There's still tabacco on that butt. And you stomped it." Croke leans off the ATV and begins kicking at a piece of slag that's long-fused to the ground. "Great. We can smoke my boot. ..So how's your girlfriend? Still think I'm charming?" A curious glance and a waggled brow. Shutly gives him the finger.

Samuel grimaces for a few moments, "It's nothing, sir," he offers to the question, before he offers a bit of a quiet smile, "I appreciate it," he offers, before he glances around once more, shaking his head as he notices Shulty and Croke. Starting to hum a little to himself now.

That bad huh? Lunair looks considerably deflated. "Wow. That normally works." So much for great war officers. There's a little rain cloud over her. Oh well. She just folds her arms for now and looks to Shulty and Croke, lifting her eyebrows. Is … that what life amongst the enlisted is like? Hmmm.

"Well if she's offerin', I sure wouldn't mind." Croke gives a big grin. "Course we all know how much I love bears. Especially when its cold enough." Shulty makes a face and looks away. "Why you always gotta give her shit, man? So she's got a unibrow. Doesn't mean she's hairy." Croke snorts, still keeping it low. "I heard one of the dudes in the enlisted berthings talkin' bout how she's always lookin for new razorblades to shave with. Frak, man. Just get her a buckknife or somethin'. Or send her to me." Shutly's jew tenses before he looks back to the Corpsman. "I hate you."

"If I'da knowd this was gonna be one of them wilderness attack, hostile occupation, irradiated drinkin' water with irradiated deer piss in it, I guess I woulda thought twice about volunteerin'," Dallas Covington muses, mostly to herself, or anyone sitting nearby. She'll always muse to an audience. "Nah, y'all right," she adds, without awaiting response, as if the air itself had answered her. "Any excuse ta set food on land again, feel the sun an' smell the night air." There's a glance around. "Course this ain't the view I had in mind. Right pile 'f shit, this is, an' not the kind good for fertilizin' the petunias neither."

Sitka, of course, is still off taking a tinkle behind whatever passes as cover out here. After zipping back up, and buckling up his gear once more, he hoists up his rifle and turns to head back toward the convoy of parked ATVs.

Keeping quiet now, glancing around for a few moments, Samuel shakes his head a bit to himself. Keeping on with his humming at the moment, he doesn't say or do anything else so far.

Stare. Lunair has a look of abject horror at the Corpsman and Marine's conversation. Shiver. nnnn. She can't look away from the pair either, eyebrows flattened, expression of 'what' on her face. Then along came Dallas. She blinks at Covington. "Well, um, regardless of amorous bears, hungry dogs and whatnot. … it's good that you came along," She offers quietly. It's a distraction. LATCH ONTO IT. LIKE FREE CAKE.

Sitka pauses mid-stride and turns sharply, boots crackling audibly in a pool of charred and shattered glass. His rifle's brought up and pivoted toward the treeline. "Lieutenant!" It's barked— or about as close to barking as the Captain ever gets.

"You love me. Like bears. And your sasquatch girlfriend. Hey, she still know that chick from engineering? What's her name? Ter Avest? ..Yeeeeah. Smokin'." Croke just nods along with the last word, nearly thrusting his hips as he does so. "Godsdamn, Toad. S-T-F-U. I remember you gettin drunk last mont hand sharing the story about your 'friend'" he does airquotes, too. "What was his name? Travis? Went out to celebrate his birthday with him. At a bar full of dudes. How'd that night end up again?" Croke just looks on in abject horror. "Who told you about that?"

Dallas glances over to Lunair. "Well, honey, it ain't like I brought them bears and wolves with me or nothin'. Shit." Her head whips around as Shiv invokes Eltee. "I ain't do it, Cap." Whimsical though her response is, her eyes are intent upon the Captain. He's probably talking to Lunair, but a woman likes to cover her bases.

Humming trails out as soon as he hears Sitka's almost-bark, Samuel goes quiet, looking over in that direction for a few moments, then glancing over at Covington, offering a momentary grin now.

And the enlisted keep going. Her eyes close. Oh dear. She rubs the back of her head. Cough cough. "Huh?" She turns around. Does he mean her or Dallas? The wolves and bears comment gets another blink. The wind noises from the jokes going past could be used for enough power to get a small village going. Blink. Either way, Sitka has her attention.

Sitka keeps his rifle raised for a few moments, eyes squinted as he continues to scan the treeline and surrounding 'skyline', then blows a breath out his nose and gradually lowers the weapon. "Over there. Thought I heard something. It sounded like raiders, and I'm pretty sure I spotted something just over that ridge." He indicates with a gloved hand. "I suggest we move out of here, head a little deeper into the forest, and keep an eye out in case the scouting team returns." He, of course, is already headed back to the ATV he'd been slouched against, Dallas and Samuel afforded a brief glance on his way by.

Shulty's grin is wolfish. He's finally got the damned Corpsman by the balls. Then the Captain belts out and he physically cowers against the sound. His hands fly to his rifle and he looks up towards where the Captain was gesturing. "You told us about it, dumbass." Enemy contact won't prevent him from getting revenge. "You refused to finish the story. Ended with you playing XCube on his couch and about to watch some movie about scantily clad guys in loincloths. So how was he?" Croke takes a knee and looks towards where the Captain gestured, not saying a word while Shulty speaks. Its only a beat before he retorts with, "Shit if I know. Aren't you dating him- Sorry I mean 'her'." Shulty nearly spits: "Frak. ..Wait did someone say Raiders?" The safety is flicked off.

There's a little wink to Samuel as the blonde Petrel catches the man's grin at her words. Her attention shifts between Lunair and Shiv at the mention of a scouting party, then she hops back into her ATV. Dallas' brows arch slightly as Shiv glances over, but she says nothing except, "Frosty." Yeah, right. One word from her? Unheard of. The following slip out just after, "… Nothin' like ominous sounds of enemy craft on a still, warm night."

Lunair says, "Sounds good," Lunair nods. She doesn't seem to care about the Corpsman and Marine's antics. She furrows her eyebrows and nods at the too. "The Captain thinks so and it sounds like - some of them are lifting off?" She lifts her head, dark purple eyes narrowing. "It's coming from the forest." She offers, trying to see if anyone contradicts what she's hearing. She frowns and unslings her rifle, looking uneasy. She frowns faintly."

Shulty and Croke sit by and say nothing - for once. Not even a wise-ass crack about the sound or each other. The PO2 takes a knee beside Shulty as the Marine moves to a bit of rock for cover. Not that it would save him from Raiders or anything.

Samuel frowns as he hears that roar of engines. "I have a bad feeling about this…" he mutters, before he ducks down a little. Nodding a bit at Lunair's words, "Sounds like it," he offers, looking in that direction with a bit of a frown…"

"Scratch that," Shiv grunts, setting off at a jog once he hears those engines roaring to life, "Let's head for Kythera and hope for the best." BAM as his hand comes down on the hood of the vehicle he passes. "You two, let's move it." That's to Shulty and Croke. Then he hoists himself up into the back of one of the other ATVs and hunkers down to check the loadout on his rifle. "Lieutenant, you want to get your ass in gear and ponder the meaning of life later?" he calls out to Lunair. "You too, Corporal. Let's go."

"Aye, sir." Croke and Shulty pipe up in unison. Croke low-walks back towards the ATV they were standing beside while Shulty keeps his eyes on the sky, scanning for afterburners. Slowly, the man rises and walks backwards carefully towards the same ATV.

Just in time, too — for as the beleaguered team loads back into its ATVs, the sound of mechanical CLANKing begins to resonate in its members' ears: heavy footsteps that may well shake the very ground on which the men and women are standing. It's as if an entire company of Cylons had decided to do jumping jacks simultaneously — except replace "jumping jacks" with "full-on charge." And sure enough, forty-eight chrome heads have emerged from the treeline by the time the ATVs' engines turn on, sucking in fuel with abandon. They're still several kilometers away, but — well. Anybody want those odds, he's a terrible gambler.

"Yes sir," Lunair grunts. She takes up a driver's seat then, unless someone stops her. Her rifle is set down. She seems to be logging a good deal of driving hours these days. It boggles and amuses her. She will wait for her passengers. She stops pondering the meaning of life and the secret sex lives of enlisted, xboxes and loin cloths or not. She winces, hearing the sounds of shaking. Clanking. And oh snap. She'd rather the Cylons has been sweating to the Oldies (And Richard Simmons is clearly a Cylon). But she's not eager to find out their opinions on spandex shorts either.

Samuel nods a little bit as he hears that, moving for the driver's seat of one of the other ATVs, working on getting that engine running as he places his rifle as near as he can, so it's ready if it's needed.

Dallas slides her rifle off of her shoulder, and settles into her seat. She glances over her shoulder as the charge of centurions sounds. There's a long moment of silence, then she says, "We gonna need a bigger boat."

"One day. Just one godsdamned day I'd like to be on this planet and not get assaulted by bears, wolves, or giant AI-powered kitchen utensils!" Shulty bitches as he slides into the seat next to Croke. He runs the bolt, chambering a round and aims it off into the distance. "I'm with the Lieutenant," Croke says as Dallas climbs in. "We need a tank. And a fast tank. To get us the frak out of here!"

Once he's chambered a round in his rifle, and double-checked the minimal gear crammed into the back of the ATV, Shiv calls around to his driver, "We're good to go. Let's, uh.. we'll head for densely packed structures, though I'm not sure what's going to be left standing. The rest of you.. if you're not driving, you're getting ready to shoot. Eyes open."

Lunair's not about to find out. Even if they do sweat to the oldies or are jumping jack enthusiasts, she is going to get that ATV and her passengers the hell out of there. She owes them that much. She will go towards where she's directed. The engines start and off she goes. Beep beep, Elizabeth Taylor's a motorist!

"Let's see if your city offer some kind of protection at all, Betsy, wherever you are…" Samuel mutters as he starts up the engine of the ATV. Starting to head off following after the vehicle driven by Lunair. Better get the getaway car going as fast as it can?

The drivers strap themselves into the rumbling ATVs and gun those engines. Thank the Lords their topped up on fuel, because the Cylons have started to run as well — and though they're several kilometers behind, they also have the advantage of not needing to drive across truly awful terrain. And speaking of that terrain? 'Truly awful' might be an understatement. The process of avoiding bits of jagged metal sticking out of the ground is almost as arduous as the process of handling these off-road vehicles, which really weren't meant for high-speed travel. So it is that as clouds of black gas spout into the sky, as headlights flare on, the Cylons have already started gaining, their light machine guns cracking as if to urge the Colonials on.

Let the chase begin.

Sitka has wedged himself in between two overstuffed packs, and grips the ATV's sidebar for dear life as it streaks across the slag-filled landscape, kicking up dust and debris in its path. It's a struggle to keep his rifle steady throughout all of this, but he resolutely keeps his sights on the advancing foot soldiers, finger hovering over the trigger.

The ATV Lunair has chosen works beautifully. The vehicle accelerates past bunches of… random metal spikes. "Hey! I found a road," The JiG points out helpfully. "Spikes! Please don't fall out," She offers to her passengers. Her ATV zooms along.

Looks like it's been quite a while since Samuel drove a vehicle the last time. That in addition to the bumps in the road, that it seems he has trouble missing at the moment, makes some of the boxes of anti-rads and food and other supplies fall off. "Sorry, haven't driven anything in a long while. Hang on back there," he calls out to the passengers, as he tries keeping up with Lunair's ATV.

Croke scrambles to try and save some of the bouncing supplies but fails. "Godsdamnit! You're gonna make me forget about not hurting people, Sam!" Meanwhile, Shulty doesn't say anything. One hand is holding onto the rails for dear life while the other clutches the rifle's grip.

"It's always good when the driver knows where the road is," Covington comments, with uncharacteristic dryness. Or maybe that's just her terrified voice. No 'women driver' comments are forthcoming.

"Shit," the viper Captain hisses beneath his breath, as he looks over just in time to spot the distinctive neon yellow of a velcroed pack of antirads bouncing off the ATV, and tumbling a few times in the dirt. There's obviously no time to jump off and retrieve it, so he hoists up his rifle and refocuses, whilst trying not to elbow Shulty in the face. "You're doing fine," he calls back to the Corporal driving. "Hell of a lot better than I would, in your place." Over the din of engines throttled to maximum, and tires slamming into potholes and slabs of metal, he manages to catch what Lunair shouts back, and responds in kind, "Take the road west and then northwest, to the bridge, if I remember correctly!"

Starfall Place — Kythera — Leonis
Junkyards, repair shops, fast-food restaurants, cheap apartments, student hostels — low-income workers and poor tourists have to stay somewhere, and the city planners of Kythera saw fit to place them here, just north of the bustling starport below. Not only would this arrangement keep such undesirables isolated in close proximity to the place where the majority of them worked, it'd also create a buffer with which the posh neighborhoods to the north might be shielded from the sound of passing ships. Not that the sound of passing ships is much of a problem any longer, judging from the crashed passenger liners and smaller personal vessels strewn all about the streets.
Many of the buildings in the north have scorch marks that seem to point to a huge blast, or series of them, in a flattened area to the south. Along the ground or dangling precariously from rooftops and high places, the ghastly sight of horrifically burned people can be found in progressively worse stages the closer one gets to ground zero. Only the city's maintenance yard has survived the holocaust, cloistered as it is in the far eastern corner of Starfall Place. Lines of buses still sit partially disassembled in its bays. Radiation levels here are particularly high, and they get even higher when a breeze blows in from the south. The waters of the River Elpeus are visible to the west.

As the ATVs proceed north, their headlamps cast eerie shadows over the blasted urban cityscape unfolding as if illuminated by strobe lights at a surrealist rave. Stubby streetlights in various states of disrepair emerge from the distance, standing like artificial trees along narrow streets arranged — thank the Lords of Kobol! — according to the gridded design in such vogue with rationalist city planners. And there in the median, covered in a thin coating of dust, is a small blue-white sign whose top screw came loose during the tumult of Warday. "Welcome to the City of Kythera," it proclaims in upside-down letters, and as the drivers approach they'll hear it rattle against its post as a stiff breeze blows in from the half-story housing complexes to the north. Up ahead, the road forks into three: north, east, and west, from that last of which suddenly emerges four gleaming Cylons, guns blazing. It's like a bad — and deadly — amusement park ride.

"Demeter's grassy green lawn," Dallas comments, too loudly for it to be classified as a mutter to self. "Hold onta y'all asses!" Her accent is no less pronounced when she yells to her comrades.

Shulty and Croke get bounced around pretty badly in the back. I. Am. Chitty chitty- The Corpsman grunts and shoulders a rifle. "They ain't people. I can kill these sumbitches." He flicks off the safety and tries to aim as the ATV careens down the road. Shulty grunts. "You ain't hit shit yet!" He does his best to compensate for the roll and bounce as he fires.

Covington kicks up her foot onto the mini dash of the ATV, braces against the roll bar, and raises her rifle, tucking it tight in against her shoulder. She breathes in, breathes out, and prays to the Gods for Lunair's driving to not get them killed before the Centurions have a chance to set upon them. It goes a little somethin' like this: "Come on Lords. Mama needs a new bag." Right, no one said it was easy to understand her meanings. At least that one didn't involve goat ass or a skilletfull of rattlesnakes.

The distinctive sound of clanking, and then the rattle of machinegun fire draw Sitka's attention to the right side of the fleeing vehicle— since he's seated on the back of it, facing the direction they came from. He releases his hold on the bouncing ATV, steadies the muzzle of his rifle, and takes aim at the nearest Centurion. "North," he calls up to Samuel, "Head north. And don't stop moving. We should.." He fires off a burst. " harder to hit."

Poor Sam and their bouncing ATV. Lunair's driving seems to prove more than adequate. She does cringe as bullets ping off the ATV and thud into its hull. That'll be murder! Lunair will go where she's directed, following the road. Nice and northwardly then. She probably would like to hear the one about a skilletfull of rattlesnakes, Lunair is learning more about Aerilonian-ness than she'd ever planned on even living aboard the Cerberus. She doesn't join in the attacks, concentrating on driving.

North it is — and north they go. If Leyman Memorial was Ground Zero, this neighbourhood must be Ground Zero Point Five. Bits of broken drywall loom out from silent storefronts as the ATVs roar along — over glass, asphalt, metal, even the occasional bone. There, tattered flags hang from the ruins of broken balconies; there, bones in sequined clubbing dresses glimmer faintly beneath the light of the stars; and there, oddly enough, is what appears to be a veritable mound of beetles near four dead Centurions. The ATVs rock back and forth as scream past rubble-filled streets, their engines coughing loudly as their drivers milk them for all they're worth, and behind them — still stumping — are those three remaining persistent Cylons, firing while their comrades thud still closer a kilometer back…

Croke fires off a quick burst, the last round hitting the target in the head and blowing out its little red eye-thing. "HA! Nailed 'im! See that shit?! I ain't done this since I was in grade school!" Shutly is about to tell him to shut up - then the fire comes in. Both of them duck down and clamps their helmets down with their arms as if that might protect them. Shulty looks up in time to see a dress blow past and flutter in the wind. Suddenly the man's face doesn't look so colorful. They lift their rifles again to return fire.

"Nice shot," Sitka murmurs to one of the marines crammed in beside him on the back of the bouncing and skidding ATV. After a slight adjustment of his aim, and a shuffle to bring him closer to the tailgate of the vehicle, he remembers to breathe— and fires again.

The spray of LMG rounds slams into the ground around Covington, none of them actually coming quite close enough to wing her. The startled pilot, not used to being so ass-in-the-open-air-y when it comes to full auto fire, exclaims, "Wood duck!" A mommy has to be creative with her swearing when she has (had) 2 little inquisitive girls at home. No need for profanity to travel to play dates with four year olds. With all the jostling, bouncing, and evasive driving, the woman can barely tell if she hit anything. That doesn't stop her from firing as they ride along. She thumbs her weapon to burst. Ok, so maybe some of those rounds were a little too close for comfort.

Making the ATV hurry along the road, Samuel looks like he's getting more comfortable with the driving, everything going much easier now. However, the Corporal can be heard to sing under his breath. "Words, I like to break 'em, Words I'd like to shake 'em. Shake 'em from my troublesome mind. And why? Lords know, it's a joke I suppose. But baby, I'm the worrying kind, Yeah!" Maybe it makes it easier for him to focus with some music running through his mind?

Cough. Lunair is mercifully, unbled by the LMG round that dings her chest armor, but it's still not pleasant. She flinches, but keeps on keeping on. The scenery around her makes her go a bit pale. She looks pained. But there's no time to think about it. She's got driving to do. She'd compliment the Corpsman, if she could tell. She's quiet for her part, her brain in full focus mode. Hum hum hum drive drive. She does eventually start humming a soft tune. Driving along northward.

The Cylons fall back, beaten by speed — but not before one of them scores a lucky shot indeed. The bullet zips through the ATV's unprotected side before lodging in Samuel's abdomen: the very same abdomen that got mauled by a bear and then a wolf just a day or two earlier. Just like that, the man falls unconscious, overwhelmed by pain, and as he slumps forward his ATV's horn rings out loud and clear in the city. The vehicle swerves left, swerves right, swerves left, straightens for one miraculous moment, and then suddenly cuts ninety degrees to starboard. Somebody's got to take control of that wheel and fast.

Croke hoots once more. "See that?! Who's got the skills now, Van Failey?!" Apparently the Corpsman has done this before. Shulty curses as the rounds miss and he ducks against the next volley of incoming. Toad doesn't even bother anymore. The idiot is wound up on adrenaline. Again. Then, nobody is laughing as the ATV careens side to side. "Holy shit!" Shulty hollars. "Get it, Cap'n!"

Driving an ATV can't be all that different from piloting a viper.. can it? As their driver's pegged by stray gunfire, and the vehicle starts swerving wildly from left to right, Shiv slings his rifle up over his shoulder, and calls back to the pair of marines over the blare of the horn as he starts clambering over the seat, "I've got him, I've got him. Cover us!" If it's going to be anyone scoring a lucky shot back there, it's going to be the groundpounders. Samuel's unconscious form is handled a little less than gently as he tries to haul him across and off the gas pedal, with one hand trying to steady the steering wheel.

While Shulty is bitching, Croke lets the rifle fall to its sling around him as he jumps forward to grab the man in front of him. "Where's the hit?! I can't see it!" The medic is already reaches for bandages and some QuikKlot in the bag on his hip.

Covington glances briefly over as the other ATV starts to swerve and groove, shaking up the occupants like a dirty martini. She's still hooked onto the roll bar, rifle raises, trusting Lunair to — Oh shit.

The medic works furiously to stabilize Samuel's wound, dragging him up and over the seat without regard for his safety. "GET IN THE FRONT SEAT, CAPTAIN!" he hollers, fumbling in his bag as he acts, Samuel basically bleeding on his lap in that bumping ATV — which just bumps something far worse than a bone on the road. Sitka's makeshift steering sends the ATV back on course, so much so that he slams into the rear of Lunair's vehicle, causing it to spin about. More than enough time for the Cylons to come into range and squeeze off one last round of shots, that, before the ATVs have the chance to turn and get back on course.

"Ah!" Lunair winces as the other ATV slams into their rear. She grunts at the jerking and /tries/ to keep their vehicle from going too far as they spin. And look, it's March of the Cylons. Lunair prefers penguins really. But she has no time to think about it, trying to keep on courses. "Hang on please, I'm sorry~" She is frantic within, trying to affect a calm air but everything is goin by so fast.

Shulty keeps up his fire, aiming out the back at the oncoming Cylons. He lets off a warcray with his next burst. Croke doesn't even pay the man a mind as he's busy ripping off Samuel's equipment and working to stop the bleeding. Its not pretty. Or sanitary. But he's doing his best he can while in the back of a speed ATV that's traveling through a nuclear warzone while taking fire.

And Samuel will appreciate it when he regains consciousness, probably. But for now he's still out. Something weird probably going through his mind, perhaps even his entire life flashing through…

Sitka may be no marine, but he's a pretty bulky guy. With both he and the medic hauling on Samuel's limp form, they manage to oust him from his seat enough for the Captain to wedge his way in and stomp on the brakes. Which sends them into a sideways skid and drunken swerve back onto the road— and into the tailgate of the ATV in front of them. He curses floridly under his breath, gears back up again, and switches to the gas. To his poor passengers, it very likely feels like riding in the back of a performance fighter jet. He ain't no bus driver, that's for sure. "Hold, uh, hold on. This might be a little bumpy." Just a little. "Can you staunch the bleeding?"

Just like that, the third of four Cylons fall, collapsing to the ground with a resounding thud. At that, its counterpart's gun seems to switch to a different mode entirely, spitting forth bullets at an even faster rate — above the cars and not at them, forcing drivers to dodge and weave and spin as they proceed. It, however, will not pursue, having apparently decided that discretion is the better part of valor. Better to wait for its buddies, whose thumping and thudding is getting progressively louder as brakes howl and tires squeal in the semi-darkness of the lamp-lit night.

"Working on it, sir!" Croke yells into his lap as he tries to pour some klot into the wound after ripping open the package with his mouth. Its rough going. Bandages are already flying in the breeze. Shulty doesn't even comment as his entire burst finally hits home on a Cylon as it drops. He just switches targets quickly and lines up his rifle on the last target.

Covington clings to the roll bar, her shot pinging across her target, most of them missing with the swerving of the ATV. Through clenched teeth, she calls to Lunair, "Keep drivin' like ya stole somethin', an' there's beer at home base." She thumbs to burst mode to offer a little more dissuading fire to the enemy, a parting shot as the vehicles retreat after a round of crash and smash bumper cars.

Ow! Lunair's outcry is muffled. She seems to have a knack for absorbing bullets with her face. But even if it hurts, she has a job to do. Nerves protest, though, wanting her to stop this madness and lick her wounds. She ignores the urges for now, nodding meekly at Covington. She says nothing but keeps driving, weaving amidst the bullets.

Sitka nearly hits the steering wheel as he ducks to avoid the hail of gunfire. The vehicle swerves sharply to the left to avoid a caved-in portion of road that the headlights barely picked up in time, and hops up onto the curb with a tremendous thump and a rattle as its contents are jarred. ATVs definitely do not handle like Mark II jet fighters.

Bullets fly harmlessly over the top of the cars, skittering across that rollbar and barely missing Covington's fingers before clattering against the street. And then, with true force of will, the drivers nudge their makeshift convoy out of the jam and forward, their ATVs trundling down the street as still more smoke pours out of their exhaust pipes. And there, just ahead, is the first sign they've seen referencing the bridge — forward, says the arrow.

Shulty lowers the rifle and flicks the safety back on as they move out of range of the Cylons. He falls back into the chair and looks to Samuel as Croke continues working. "How's he doin?" the PFC calls over the sound of engines and the wind. "Like shit. Dude's already been a scratching post this week and bullets ain't helpin!" Toad just keeps on working, grabbing more bandages as the drive seems to calm down a little.

"Yow." Dallas' assessment of the combat is simple. "That's like droppin' your pants ta take a pee on a snow an' ice bank. One wrong move an' ya got somethin' you got somethin' you don't want somewhere it ain't meant ta go." It seems the pilot is a bit distracted watching the other ATV to note much else.

"A-are they okay?" Lunair asks, unable to really look herself. She's trying to ignore the bleeding. Stupid face and head with capillaries so close to surface. Theyy trundle along once they ditch the cylons.

Sitka eases off the gas a fraction once the seven foot tincans are well out of range. It's still a fairly bumpy, uncomfortable ride that's sure to threaten the regurgitation of his passengers' stomach contents, but he makes no apologies for it. "Hey, el-tee, did you hear that?" he calls up to the ATV ahead, tapping the brake pedal with a squeak that clearly needs some grease.

"Looks clear," Lt. Unawares Covington notes to the JiG seated in the driver's seat of her ATV.

Lunair too will ease off the gas a bit.. She shakes he rhead, at the call from Sitka. Although she assumes Covington might respond too. She doesn't seem to notice much if anything.

"Blaine looks like he fell face down in a sticker patch an' got runned over by cows," Dallas comments offhand, her eyes on the other ATV. One could easily take that to mean he doesn't look so good. "Requestin' elaboration on what that might be, Shiv!" She so helpfully relays Lunair's headshake.

Shulty rides on in silence, eyes scanning the wreckages they pass by. The PFC doesn't look terribly happy, the joker face gone with the expended rounds. Croke just continues his work on the other Marine. "Think I got him stable, Cap'n!" he yells. "Lost a lot of blood. Guy is gonna need something more than what I can do in the backseat of an ATV, though!"

"Automatic weapons fire!" Shiv calls back across, hoarse-voiced from having to shout over the whine of the ATVs' engines. He swerves sharply again to avoid the encroaching curb, jostling his passengers once more. "Colonial assault rifles, to" THUD, rattle, rattle, rattle. "cise. I'd know that sound anywhere. Let's head over the bridge!" A brief glance over his shoulder to see how the medic's faring with Samuel, and a grim expression flits across his face. "What do you need, and how long's he got?" is his curt question.

The ATVs zoom forward with renewed haste, zipping past streets long since looted of anything of real value. The drivers have to dodge broken cars, jump bone-filled clothes, shift gears to compensate for craters in asphalt, and so on — but all that's really just child's play now that no Cylons are firing. It's just like an obstacle course, albeit one far more macabre than any to be found in old Colonial theme parks. And soon enough there comes another sign: Mulberry Road, beneath which is the silhouette of the bridge in question. TURN LEFT, it advises.

Oh, and those Cylons? Still their feet thud loudly against the ground, staying in pursuit but never, ever advancing. It's almost like the Colonials are being … herded.

Trust the ex-marine to hear what the pilot, unused to loud gunfire and open air bullet battles missed! "Sounds like home ta me!" Covington calls back to her Captain, then she turns to look to Lunair. "Colonial auto-fire, says he," Dallas relays to the driver of her ATV. "I think there might could be a party in progress we're set ta be fashionably late for. I brought me a slightly used hostess gift." She hefts her rifle again.

"I need to get him on his back, sir! Its a ricochet so I might be able to get the bullet out. I think its just below the surface!" Croke yells over the engines and wind. Shulty glances to him before leaning out slightly to look ahead. The safety comes back off. "Fantastic."

A little frown, but Lunair keeps going as they need to. She nods, at Dallas. Over the bridge! Poor Samuel. She zips and winces aat the ride. Her head is aching and stinging angrily, reminding Lunair that her mortal coil has its limits. She focuses on driving, unnerved by the skeletons and morbidity - the wrongness of it all. After all, there's a nearly instinctual dislike of dead bodies in many. Some might argue that long ago seeing someone or something dead was a tip off that the area was bad news, and perhaps that memory too is embedded. "We'll just have to welcome them." She smiles at Covington, grateful for the woman's presence. But she keeps on keepin' on.

Sitka doesn't bother waving off the sir, if it even registered. "Once we're over the bridge and have some idea whether that's our scouting group, we'll re-assess the situation," the Captain calls back. "I'll see if we can stop, and buy you a couple of minutes at the very least to patch him up. That work for you, Private?" Meanwhile? He swings the ATV onto the well-marked 'Mulberry Road', and gears down a notch as they turn.

OOC: Continued in A Lie Never Lives to Grow Old.

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