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 Post subject: Episode 26: Fallout
PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2007 9:44 pm 
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The ship shook with the hits from cylon raiders, the klaxons sounding constantly.

“Roberts! It’s going, get back here RFN!” Marine Sergeant Trevor Roberts heard Staff Sergeant Holyoak’s voice in his earpiece.

He was already getting ‘back here’, as fast as he could run—he could hear the emergency hatches slamming shut behind him. He skidded around the corner and was caught by two of his teammates.

“You okay?” Holyoak asked sharply. “Where’s your helmet?”

Roberts reached for his helmet—or where it should be. “Decompression explosion,” he said in answer. “I’m okay.”

“You got blood leakin’ everywhere, Rob,” PFC Dixon noted.

Roberts shrugged. “I’m okay,” he repeated, not feeling any of the small cuts he had on his head and face.

“The dome is gone,” Holyoak said grimly, looking at Roberts.

Roberts nodded, not finding it necessary to say that he hadn’t found any survivors.

Another hit to the ship rocked it violently, knocking the Marines off their feet. Roberts accepted Lance Corporal Cutter’s hand and she helped him up.

“Holy frak, what was that?” Corporal Moody asked, also standing.

Holyoak touched his fingers to his earpiece. “Captain says we got a frakkin’ cylon heavy raider just crashed into the shuttle bay! Let’s go!”

Roberts listened as Holyoak gave terse orders over the combat net, getting the other seven Marines to head for the shuttle bay from their position on the port side of the main ship.

Frakkin’ twelve of us, Rob thought. And who godsdamned knows what the heavy has… He double-checked the magazine on his assault rifle as he ran. He listened, too, pounding along at the back behind Corporal Moody—Holyoak had patched the command channel over to all the Marines. Captain Evans was giving short updates on the situation; the shuttle bay had been repressurized, but the electronics were fried and the pressure doors wouldn’t be operated again; Damage Control was reporting fires in the bay, and in passages leading to the bay on the starboard side… Who the frak decided that civvie ships don’t need weapons?

Roberts heard it even before he reached the bay, the deep roar of a heavy machine gun raising the hairs on the back of his neck. He’d seen pictures of centurions from the first cylon war… but there was nothing to prepare him for this.

When they turned the corner into the bay, he got only a glimpse as Moody was thrown back against him, both slamming into the bulkhead. Frak! Roberts coughed, trying to catch his breath—the impact had knocked the wind out of him. Moody was half on top of him, moving feebly, so Rob hooked his arm around Moody’s chest and drew him back around the corner, keeping low as rounds impacted and ricocheted off the bulkhead above them.

What the hell IS that…?! He’d gotten just a quick, jumbled impression of the centurion who had fired at them. Fast and chrome and spitting bullets like fire… not at all like the pictures he’d seen.

He got on his knees next to Moody, figuring the corporal had been partly knocked unconscious by the rounds impacting his armor. He froze, finding his assumption was wrong. Very wrong.

The rounds had pierced Moody’s left thigh armor, up near the top, and gone diagonally across his body to his right hip. The sheer power and number of the rounds had nearly severed his body in half. Only splintered bone and strands of muscle and skin held him together.

Roberts had seen wounded and dead teammates before; he was an experienced combat vet, but this was far beyond his experience. Moody moved slightly again, his eyes already unfocused. “What… what…” he whispered, blood on his lips.

Another burst sent Rob diving for cover, flat on his belly on the deck. His rifle cradled in his arms, he low-crawled back toward the shuttle bay, then he stopped, using Staff Sergeant Holyoak’s body for cover. He’d been bringing up the rear, and it was the rest of the fire team that had taken the centurion bullets. There was no doubt Holyoak was dead—most of the back of his head had been blown off.

Roberts didn’t let himself think about the slippery fluids under his body. He breathed shallowly through his mouth.

He saw them, then. The bay lights, even the dim emergency ones, glinted off their chrome bodies. They moved smoothly and quickly, the heavy thuds of their footsteps attesting to their weight… Godsdamned, their hands are machine guns! He counted six of them, wondering how well armored their metal bodies were.

“Smitty,” he said in a whisper over the com net, “Sitrep.”

The reply came back just as quietly. “Forward passage port side of the bay, I got three down. I see five toasters from here,” Sergeant Reggie Smith responded.

Roberts thought swiftly; he was at the aft starboard side of the bay. From where Smitty and the others were, the heavy raider would provide them some cover. He could see to his left how far Dixon had managed to get toward cover before he’d been cut down—three meters from where Rob lay behind Holyoak’s body. Just another meter and Dixon would have had the protection of a low blast wall.

And Dixon had the squad’s SAW, the squad machine gun, askew under his body.

Rob’s plan, If I could call it a plan, took him only a second to formulate. “Only me here,” he said to Smitty. “I see six of the frakkers. Gimme a three count and draw their fire, I’m gonna get Dix’s SAW.”

Smitty clicked over the net once in acknowledgement.

Rob got ready, reminding himself that the deck was slick. The instant Smitty and his fireteam opened up, he was on his feet, moving fast. Even before he reached Dixon, the centurions turned their heads his way, the roving red eyes evil.

Running crouched, Roberts didn’t hesitate; he grabbed Dixon and the SAW both, throwing himself forward and behind the meter-high blast wall, rounds impacting behind him. Frak frak frak… He tore the SAW from Dixon’s grip, jolted to see that Dixon was still alive, although not for long. Blood bubbled from Dixon’s nose and ran from his mouth.

Roberts laid the muzzle of the SAW on the top of the blast wall, and praying that the belt-fed rounds would still load when soaked with blood, he opened fire.

Three of the centurions had stayed to face him while the other three headed toward where Smitty and his team were. The first centurion Rob aimed at was knocked back by the impact of the rounds, and as the Marine continued to fire, it fell… but then climbed to its feet again. Frak frak frak… Rob aimed for the monster’s neck and finally it went down to stay.

Rob ignored the return fire that the other two centurions were sending his way, ducking back down under cover of the blast wall. “Smitty, three heading for you,” he said, not bothering to keep quiet. Three heading for Smitty meant he had to take out the remaining two coming after him. Bursts thudded into the other side of the blast wall, and ricocheted off the bulkhead above and behind him. He could hear the deep throaty roar of the centurion’s weapons, echoing through the shuttle bay, and the higher-pitched response of the Marine assault rifles.

He scrambled to get another box of the belt ammo off Dixon’s body, listening to the centurions coming methodically his way… thud, thud, thud. He got ready, then on one knee fired a long burst, aiming for what he thought would be the behemoth’s weak points—the head: its eye and chin slot, and neck, and for the beast’s narrow waist. He leapt over the blast wall, charging toward the two centurions, then his right leg buckled and he fell, sprawling on his chest. Still he kept firing, his entire being centered on the enemy, dimly aware that falling had saved his life. The sizzle of bullets burning through the air above him echoed in his ears.

Saved his life for brief moments only, he knew, and the realization of his own death just moments away gave him amazing clarity. Time slowed, and he imagined that he could actually see his rounds traveling toward the centurions. He adjusted his aim and watched, detached, as first one, then the other, centurion fell.

“Rob!” came Smitty’s panting voice in his ear. “Falling… back. They got Lloyd and Baker… Kimbell and I… are drawing them… into passage…” Silence over the net for a moment, then, “Our rounds just bounce off them.”

“Comin’,” Rob replied, getting to his feet, but as soon as he took one step, he almost fell again, going to one knee. Frak! His leg from mid-thigh down was soaked with blood. No broken bones, he said to himself calmly. Keep goin’. He headed across the shuttle bay at a limping run.

He took cover, crouching behind the heavy raider, the SAW heavy in his arms. Cautiously, he peered around the raider. Smitty and Kimbell had retreated down the forward port passageway that opened into the bay, and two centurions had followed—leaving one standing motionless except for its roving eye. Rob jerked back behind the raider, holding his breath.

It hadn’t seen him; or, if it had, it wasn’t moving. He closed his eyes, picturing the distance and angle, then he dove out from behind the ship, sliding across the deck. As soon as he came to a halt, he opened fire—just at the centurion did. He rolled away from the rounds, stopping to fire again, and by sheer luck hit the monster’s gun-hand, but that only slowed it for a split second.

As before, time slowed to a crawl for the Sergeant. He fired a short burst, a matter-of-fact voice in his head telling him that he’d need to reload soon. Two hundred rounds gone already. He let his breath out halfway and fired again—then he was out of ammo.

His aim was good, though, and the centurion went down. Quick and smooth, Roberts replaced the empty magazine with a full one, reloading the machine gun, then he got to his feet to head after the remaining centurions. “Smitty, sitrep,” he said, limping as quickly as he could toward the passageway. He could hear the gunfire, still. “Kimbell,” he said, but didn’t get a response from either. Prob’ly busy, he thought, but he knew it was wishful thinking.

He skirted the prone carcass of the centurion by the entrance to the passageway, pressing himself up against the bulkhead, the SAW soft and ready in his hands, his eyes searching the dimly lit passage for movement… shiny metal movement, but all he saw were bodies of Marines.

Then the gunfire—centurion gunfire—stopped. He moved slowly, quietly, then steeled himself, but just as he was about to put the muzzle of the weapon and one eye around the corner, he heard, then felt, the whump of a grenade. Kim and her grenades, he thought with admiration even as it registered that one centurion had opened fire again. And it was close; just around the corner.

He stepped out, the gun at his shoulder, and he opened fire at point-blank range. The centurion turned, batting Roberts aside as if he was a bothersome fly. The Marine hit the bulkhead hard, but this fly still had a little fight in him, and he kept on firing.

The centurion went down partway, propping itself at an angle with one ‘hand’, its other gun-hand cycling. Rob held down the trigger of the SAW, not flinching as his rounds and the centurion’s sparked off the deck and bulkheads around him. He could see where the metal creature’s skin had been dented and pierced by Kimbell’s grenade.

And then it stopped firing. The gun-hand clicked a few times, then came to a halt. The roving red eye suddenly blinked out. It didn’t move, propped there with one leg blown off below the knee, unmoving.

Godsdamned, Roberts thought numbly. He pushed himself to sit up with his back against the bulkhead, hugging the machine gun to his chest. He stared at the centurion, almost within an arm’s length of where he sat. Holy godsdamned frakking hell.

It was dark and smoky in the passage, and he was suddenly aware of the voice in his ear, on the command channel… it wasn’t Captain Evans, and the connection was bad, crackles and static and undulating whining nearly obscuring the voice.

“Holyoak, this is Heaton.” it was the Sundog’s chief engineer, Joe Heaton. “Sergeant Holyoak, what’s the sitrep?” He sounded… as strung out as Roberts felt. “Holyoak, are you there?”

“Sir,” the Marine said over the net. “I, ah, this is Sergeant Roberts. Staff Sergeant Holyoak is dead. We k--… er, killed the centurions.”

“Say again?” Heaton replied.

“Boarders destroyed,” Roberts repeated carefully.

The only acknowledgement was a burst of static. Wearily, Roberts levered himself to his feet, limping slowly a little further down the passage, where the bodies of Sergeant Reggie Smith and Corporal Salina Kimbell lay, shredded by the grenade that Kimbell had detonated as a last-ditch effort to kill the centurions. She’d succeeded destroying one; its metal body was in several pieces, strewn along the passage.

Roberts went back toward the shuttle bay, staying as far away as he could from the centurion leaning at an angle in the middle of the passage, the gun-hand still extended. One by one, he checked each of the Marines whose bodies lay along the passage and out into the bay. The cylon rounds had torn their bodies apart; all were dead.

He intended to go back across to see if any of the others might still be alive, but he was suddenly light-headed. He staggered unsteadily, then sank to his knees, his vision darkening. The machine gun slipped from his hands, hitting the deck with a clatter, and he slumped down, curling up on his side. He was vaguely aware of a roaring noise in his ears and burning pain in his thigh, and he sweated, nauseous.

Time passed, but he was unaware of it, and slowly the reaction subsided. Gotta… stop the bleeding, he decided, and gingerly pushed himself to a sitting position. He removed the body armor on his right thigh with fumbling fingers, the task made even more difficult by his slippery blood, then carefully he probed the injury.

He thought that maybe a round had passed through the muscle on the back of his thigh, but as he’d figured earlier, the bone wasn’t broken, and although his pant leg was soaked clear down inside his boot, the bleeding wasn’t as bad as he expected. He eyed the bloody trail he’d left and decided not to think about it.

Using the SAW for support, he pushed himself to his feet and stood there a moment, dizzy. Take care of me first or I won’t be worth a rat’s arse to the others. Slowly he limped back into the passage he’d just left, knowing that further along there was a first aid box secured to the bulkhead.

He passed the centurion again, giving it a wide berth, and then he heard it… the ominous low throbbing hum. He turned, bringing up the SAW, firing from the hip even as the centurion opened fire.

He felt like he’d been hit with a fence post, but he kept firing, burst after burst into the metal body, oblivious to all else. The monster finally fell, its red eye fading slowly.

Marine Sergeant Trevor Roberts dropped the machine gun, taking a single step, and then he slowly crumpled to the deck. Consciousness faded, darkness overcoming him. “Frak,” he whispered.

The last thing he saw was the menacing gleaming face of the centurion.



He woke up and there it was again, looming over him, the reflection of light off the metal angles of its head blinding. He picked up the gun and fired at it until it fell over. The Marine sagged back with relief… but then the centurion moved once more, the red eye coming back to life. Yet again Rob fired…

…and he woke up, gasping and covered with sweat. Nightmare, it’s just a nightmare. He sat up on the edge of the rack, grinding the heels of his hands into his eyes. Nightmare… But it hadn’t been a nightmare; he’d had to kill the beast twice, on Day 90.

And he killed it over and over again in his dreams every night since then.

University of Caprica
Agricultural Research Vessel Sundog
Day 170 Time 0156

Image
**Photo By ZED**

_________________
Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper, about budget cuts for the US’s intelligence agencies: "We're not going to do more with less and all these other clichés. . . . We will just simply have less capability."


Last edited by GoldWolf on Fri Jul 06, 2007 9:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2007 10:39 pm 
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[With GoldWolf]

Rated PG-15 for sex

D170 1636
Medical Ship Chiron
Col. Xenthais Merconi, Maj. Scott Duncan, Dr. Norma Rijos-Colberg

Xenthais lay on the examining table, her heart in her throat… She held on to Scott’s hand like it was a lifeline.

“Hello Colonel, Major.” Dr. Rijos-Colberg greeted them with a bright smile as she walked in. “How are you doing, Colonel Merconi? Baby giving you any trouble?”

She swallowed hard. The last eight days she had managed to put her concerns on hold, bolstered by Scott’s unwavering conviction that the baby was fine. But here in the small, sterile and efficient examining room, surrounded by the trappings of the medical arts, she was again overcome with dread. “F… fine,” she stammered, shaking like a leaf. “I’ve b.. been fine.”

Scott knew she hadn’t been fine, and he gripped her hand reassuringly.

“Very good,” the tiny doctor stated. “Now let’s see how the little one is doing, shall we?”

The doctor’s good humor was making her even more nervous. She knows something is wrong and is trying to hide it from us! Xen prayed to every god she knew – even Scott’s Aten – as the doctor prodded her belly and then slathered it with the cold, clear gel. And when she started to glide the wand over it, Xen closed her eyes and squeezed Scott’s hand even harder.

It will be fine, Xen, Scott thought, but he didn’t say it. He’d said it to her so many times in the past eight days; the answer was soon to come.

Dr. Rijos-Colberg made a few more slow passes and chuckled. “Now this explains it!” she exclaimed and, with a flourish, turned the monitor to face Xen and Scott.

“What? What does?” She couldn’t tell anything from the image – it was just two circles…

Image

“This, Colonel Merconi,” Dr. Rijos-Colberg said gently, pointing at one of the circles, “is a top view of a baby’s head. And this one” she pointed to the other, “is another. You are having twins. One must’ve been hiding under the other one during your last ultrasound. The strange echo the technician heard was the sound of the other baby’s heart.”

“Wàtenahì,” Scott said, jolted. As when Xen had told him that she was pregnant, he felt as if he was in zero-gravity. “Tagwai… twins…” He almost asked the doctor if she was sure, but Scott could see it there on the monitor for himself. “Xen,” he breathed with awe. Twins!

"Twins?" Xen squeaked, uncomprehending. She was having a hard time accepting she was even pregnant, and she was going to have TWINS?!? She looked for confirmation in Scott's eyes. "Two babies?"

The diminutive doctor laughed gaily. "Yes, two babies. Hm... fraternal, from the looks of it," she said, noticing the separate placentas. "We should be able to tell if it's two boys, two girls or one of each in 4 to 12 more weeks."

“Twins,” Scott said to Xen, stupefied. He regarded her belly, still awed.

She touched her slippery belly softly, reverently, near where the doctor had located the babies' heads.. "Twins!" she breathed, still shocked. "Scott!" she turned to the man standing next to her, her smile dazzling, "we're having twins!"

The doctor smiled indulgently. “Yes, and both look just fine.” She turned off the scanner and said, “Be sure to schedule your next appointment before you leave, Colonel Merconi;” then she left the two of them alone.

“Twins,” Scott whispered, and he put both his hands on her slippery belly. He didn’t move for a moment, a shocked but tender expression on his face. He started rubbing gently, smiling, and he leaned over to kiss Xen. He intended it as just an affectionate kiss, but the moment their lips touched, it was like electricity through his body.

His hands on her belly were gentle, reassuring, and she closed her eyes in blissful relief. Twins! And they are fine! The touch of his lips, soft and warm, surprised her; after eight days of uncertainty and anxiety, her body reacted instinctively, and she deepened the kiss.

His body leapt in automatic response, and he moved his hand, about to caress her breast, but he had gel on it still. She’d pulled her shirt up for the exam, and he knew if he got gel on that, there’d be hell to pay. Smiling, he grabbed a towel, wiping his hands, and he wiped her stomach, also. When he was done, he again rubbed her belly with one hand, in gentle circles… and now that his hand was dry, he also caressed her breasts. He eyed the examining table… if Xen scooted down a little, it was just the right height. He bent to kiss her again.

Xenthais had remained uncharacteristically passive throughout his careful ministrations - the relief and shock of the news had left her limp at first, but Scott's hands and lips were working their magic, and her lassitude was replaced with sensual anticipation. Her hands roamed his face, his neck, his chest...

Breathing fast, he moved down to the end of the table, taking her by the hips and sliding her down towards him. Her jeans were already unbuttoned and partly unzipped, so it was easy for him to pull them all the way off.

He paused a moment to smooth his palms up over her belly, again stroking her breasts before unbuckling his belt and unfastening his pants.

The room was cold and the examining table was hard under her buttocks, but Xenthais didn't notice - she tried to help Scott out of his pants, but she didn't know if her efforts helped or hindered him. "Scott," she breathed, already hot for him.

He held her hips again, taking his time. He exhaled slowly, silent, watching her, the sight of her partly unclothed body just increasing his excitement. She felt so good, hot and tight, and he shivered with pleasure.

She arched her back, her breasts high and erect. Her hands grabbed his hips to bring him closer, closer still... She bit her lip not to moan from the pleasure. "Gods!" she gasped, giving herself over to the sweet fever coursing through her body.

The bliss was no less intense for its speed, and Scott shuddered as he felt her crest, panting. Sated, he slowly caught his breath, gently running his fingers over her breasts, over her belly… he shivered again with lingering pleasure, and said softly, “Twins!"

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PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2007 10:34 am 
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Battlestar Taurus
Docked with Tauranian Titan
Day 170
1900

"Good evening Commander, Major." said Captain Nick Wu as he looked around the CIC. "Looks like the Seabees have been in here today."

"They've been the main excitement of the shift. I'm just happy to finally be docked." smiled Cmdr. Guynes. "The Seabees will be taking CIC offline at 0100. Both of you need to move to Aux Con around 2300. We'll be working from there for the next four days."

"Understood, sir."

Major Amanda Bays was going thought the fleet traffic reports and looked up at the commander. "Any news from the Colonel yet?"

"None, but I'm not worried. The Colonel and Major Duncan are more than likely talking about the baby and planning for the future." Guynes then looked at his watch "And talking about babies and the future, I need to meet my wife on the hanger deck. Amanda, Nick...have a good watch."

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PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2007 11:39 pm 
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Sundog
Day 171 Time 0143
Sergeant Trevor Roberts
(By Goldwolf and JDCTexas)


Rob knew he was probably being too… obsessive, but he was a Marine, and his uniform meant a lot to him. He only had two sets of duty blacks left—he’d started out with four, when the squad had first been assigned to the Sundog. One had too many holes… and too much blood on it… to be repaired; another he’d worn whenever he was working on the crops, and now was too worn and stained to be worn as a uniform any more. That left his dress uniform, and just a few civilian clothes, besides his last two sets of duty blacks.

He felt like, as the only Marine left on the ship, he was on duty whenever he wasn’t working in the dome, or working out… or sleeping, which seemed to be the hardest of anything to do.

Which was why, at some time not long after midnight, he was awake and putting on one of his remaining sets of duty blacks and making sure he could pass inspection. His boots were polished, he’d carefully shaved, and the SAW was cleaned and loaded. He still thought of the machine gun as Dixon’s, but it was the only weapon he carried, any more.

He walked the passageways, going through the shuttle bay, where he carefully checked the inert cylon heavy raider. They’d long since jettisoned the remnants of the centurions—had done it, actually, when Rob had still mostly been out of it, from his injuries.

He checked the domes and went back through the section of the ship where the quarters were, walking silently so he wouldn’t disturb anyone, ending up in the control room.

Captain Heaton was there, which didn’t surprise Rob at all. He’d often seen the Captain doing the same as he’d just done, walking the rounds. “Sir,” he said quietly, and stood at parade rest with the SAW in his hands. Standing guard duty.

Joe smiled, he knew Trevor slept about as much as he did. "Coffee was just brewed. Take a chair and sit down for a spill. How is the walk around going?"

Sergeant Roberts hesitated, then nodded. What was there, really, to guard anyway? He got a cup of coffee and sat with the SAW across his legs. “Everything quiet, sir,” he said.

"Good to hear...guess Kyle and Susan decided to be quiet tonight." Had a talk with them a few days ago about keeping the volume down." Joe took a look at the control panel, "So you know, I'll be doing a course correction burn in about an hour. Just a slight jarring...burn is only thirty seconds."

Rob nodded, drinking coffee. The coffee wasn’t bad… actually, it was better than some of the Marine coffee he’d had, before. Guess it pays off to get stranded with a bunch of college ag students. “Crops in eight are hangin’ on,” he said.

"Brad is doing a good job of trying to get more out of them," Heaton smiled. "If he could only keep Dr. Wyatt the frak away. That man is about as useful as tits on a bull."

Rob snorted softly. He agreed, but didn’t say so. He drained his coffee cup and stood, saying, “Goin’ to walk around, sir.” With a nod, he went to walk the passages again.

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"Times change...and so must I." - The Doctor, 'Time of the Doctor'


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PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2007 12:03 am 
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Fleet BBS


Are you ex-military and not interested on returning? But are you bored? Do you want to make a diffference? Do something? Fight cylons? What skills do you have?

Let me know.

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PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2007 12:05 am 
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Battlestar Libra
Day 170 Time 0800-0830
Basic Training Graduation
(By Goldwolf)

The audience was all in place by 0730, on the Libra’s starboard hangar deck. Chief of the Deck Alexandra MacLean had made sure the deck was sparkling; a raised platform was at one side of the deck for the reviewing party, and folding chairs had been set out for all observers. Conversation was a low murmur that filled the hangar.

Precisely at 0800, Admiral Benito Rodrigues, Colonel Eric Riley, Gunnery Sergeant Razorski, and Captain Andros Meyers strode in, taking their places on the platform. The quiet conversations from the audience faded as everyone waited expectantly. For a moment, the happy cooing of a baby was heard, then that, too, faded.

Almost silently, the eighteen graduates marched in; only the soft shuffle of their feet could be heard, but they stayed precisely in step. They marched in two rows, side-by-side; the first two held assault rifles, then behind them came twelve, each carrying one of the Colony flags; the flags fluttered gently from the poles. The final four in the formation also carried rifles. As they came in, those in the audience began standing, until everyone there was on their feet.

Hunt knew that all of his extended family was in the audience, but he was a flag-bearer, and he knew better than to look for them as he kept in step with the others. They were marching in what the Gunnery Sergeant had called ‘delay-step’—a normal length stride, but at half-time. It was a special drill, used for solemn occasions like this one—posting of the colors, and for funerals. This wasn’t a funeral, although this part of the ceremony was also recognition for fallen comrades.

Hunt carried Scorpia’s flag. Out of the eighteen in this class of basic training, Scorpia was the only colony not represented by a trainee. Hunt was from Aerelon, but felt no loyalty to that colony, and because Major Duncan was now--sort of--an extended member of their family, he’d been glad to volunteer to carry that colony’s flag.

They proceeded past the front of the reviewing party on the platform, pausing and stepping, pausing and stepping, making a single line, and then those who were carrying flags filed around to make a circle, marching in place next to the flagpole stands already set on the deck next to the platform. The six carrying the rifles formed a straight line in front of the circle of flags. Hunt watched carefully, and at the class leader’s nearly imperceptible signal, they all came to a halt, standing at attention, holding their flags straight and high.

Admiral Rodrigues stepped forward then, and spoke in a calm, clear voice. “What you are watching is the flag ritual for fallen comrades. Please remain standing until all flags have been put in place.”

One by one, each of the flag bearers dipped their flags, slowly lowering them until the poles were parallel with the deck, the bottom edge of the flag just above the deck. Those carrying rifles snapped them off their shoulders, holding them diagonally across their bodies at port arms. Then, by another silent signal, they all lifted the weapons to the shoulders, pointing upwards at an angle as if they would fire, although they didn’t. They stood that way, motionless, for a slow count of five. All together, they brought the rifles back to port arms, spun them a complete circle and another half circle, the muzzles pointing downward, again waiting five slow seconds noiselessly.

The first flag bearer lifted her flag upright, holding it high and then lowering it into the stand. Each of the others followed suit at precise intervals, and once all the flags were in place, the flag bearers, still in step, strode up and filed behind the rifle drill team, standing in three ranks of six in front of the circle of flags. Only then did the rifle drill team spin their weapons muzzle up, and returned to holding them at port arms.

“You may be seated,” Rodrigues told the audience, and as they sat, the trainees, still in unison, went to parade rest. The Admiral took a moment to look over those assembled, and at the eighteen trainees who were graduating. “Nearly six months ago, we suffered the most devastating blow that a people can endure. We could have given up, accepted a final defeat—but we did not.” He looked at those in the audience, making eye contact with one, then another.

In a stronger, louder voice, he continued, “We did not give up; we kept on fighting, and we will continue to fight to preserve what is left of humanity. These young people,” he turned, gesturing to the eighteen graduates standing motionless in the duty black uniforms, “—these young people represent the best of all of us. They recognize the threat, understand the need, and have risen to the challenge of helping to defend us.” He turned back to the crowd. More quietly, he said, “We are fortunate that there are those among us like these eighteen cadets; like the military members who stand with me here on this platform, and sit among you there on the deck. We are fortunate that we have civilians who support our military and help to protect the lives of all in the fleet. We are fortunate to be here today to recognize these outstanding cadets.” He stopped and turned slightly; Gunnery Sergeant Razorski and Captain Meyers stepped forward.

Razorski first called up the class leader, the cadet who had the best overall score in all areas; academic, marksmanship, and physical training. Cadet Milan Carrigan stood at rigid attention while Captain Meyers pinned the medal to his uniform; then he saluted both the Gunnery Sergeant and the civilian captain, and marched to rejoin the other cadets.

Then, in order, the top cadet in each individual area was called up to receive their awards. Hunt waited, holding his breath, because even though he’d gotten the highest possible score on the final PT test, so had two others… and he had no idea how the tie would be broken. He listened as the Gunnery Sergeant explained.

“We had three cadets who scored maximum points on the final physical training test,” Razorski told the audience. “And we had one cadet who has struggled throughout the training to make minimum standards. This last person, Cadet Emily Norton, passed the final PT test with a commendable score well above the minimum. Cadet Norton was able to pass her PT test only with the assistance and encouragement of one of our top three…” The Gunnery Sergeant paused, and although she didn’t smile, those who knew her well could hear her satisfaction in her voice. “Cadet Hunt McCormack, report!”

Hunt didn’t smile, either, but he felt as if he was walking on air as he went to get his award. He saluted and marched back to the formation, and as he passed Emily, she grinned at him. Then he smiled.

And then the ceremony was over; Admiral Rodrigues called the cadets to attention, and dismissed them.

Hunt went looking for his family in the crowd.

_________________
"Times change...and so must I." - The Doctor, 'Time of the Doctor'


Last edited by jdctexas on Tue May 15, 2007 11:05 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2007 12:06 am 
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Battlestar Libra
Day 170 Time 0830
Basic Training Graduation
(Goldwolf, Eagle, JDCTexas)

"Hunt!" Gia called out when she saw him. Buster turned and began to make way for him and his wife among the throng to reach their son. When they reached him, he engulfed the young man in a hug. "Well done, son! Well done!"

Gia wiped the moisture from her eyes and hugged him too. "Oh, you look so handsome! A flag bearer! And an award! We are so proud of you!"

Hunt hugged them back. “I sure am glad it’s over!” he said grinning. “Gods, is it great to see you all! I gotta stay here on the Libra for a few more days until they figure out what they’re going to do with us, but then I’ll be allowed to come home for a bit. But you guys are allowed to stay here till after lunch… you can eat in the mess hall with me, but it’s not nearly as good as your food, Mom!”

Ferdie, Clive and the Muellers finally reached them and the round of hugs and congratualtions started anew.

Except for Else. She stood back, uncharacteristically shy. Hunt looked so... different. All grown up and... well, grown up!

She had dressed carefully for the occasion and, while she was not totally happy with the way she looked, at least she didn't look like a baby or a dork like her mother wanted her to. She'd grown at least an inch in the last 5 weeks, and her body was changing - her waist was smaller, her cheeckbones more defined. She'd finally settled on one of Xen's suit jackets - a grey double-breasted one with lighter pinstripes, a short pleated skirt in a white, grey and red plaid... and combat boots, with her rolled-down red socks barely peeking out.

“Else!” Hunt exclaimed when he was finally released from everyone else’s clutches. His eyes lit up. “Gods, you look so… so, well grown up, and… well, chic!” He grabbed her hand, looking around. “C’mon, there’s someone I want you to meet.” Practically dragging her, he led her through the crowd to an attractive woman in a flight suit. “Major Watkins,” he said, “this is my friend, Else Mueller, who’s going to be a Viper pilot someday.” He turned to Else. “Else, Major Sabrina Watkins is the Fleet CAG!”

"Nice to meet you, Else." Major Watkins smiled "So, you want to be a pilot? We have another class basic training and flight school starting soon."

"N... nice to meet you, sir," Else stammered. She had preened at Hunt's compliment and had been about to say something when he grabbed her hand and dragged her to meet the Fleet CAG. The Fleet CAG!!! "I... I'd love to join up, sir, but I'm... well, I'll be 14 next month, and they won't take me until I turn 16..."

"Well, there are some things you can go ahead and do."

"There are?" Gone was all awkwardness, replaced by breathless interest.

"You can study up on general avionics and see about working with some shuttle pilots. Also, keeping in good shape will help you through basic training."

"Oh, I know about avionics! I've been studying my mother's books, and Thorny and Iolanda explain things to me when they are fixing the engines. And Buster taught me to fly the little shuttle, although Mama doesn't let me fly it yet. But she said when I turn 14 she'll let me, IF she thinks I'm qualified. And Hunt said he'll teach me all the PT stuff, so I'll be prepared for basic training!"

"You know, we're not to far from the simulators. Would you two like to go in and take a look?"

"Could we? Oh, that would be fantastic, Major Watkins!" Else was in heaven - she'd met the Fleet CAG and was about to see Libra's flight simulators. And Hunt thought she looked chic! It was turning out to be a totally perfect day!

“Else, you can go ahead with the Major,” Hunt said. “You’re the one who’s going to be a pilot.” He smiled. “Thanks a lot, sir!” he told Major Watkins, saluting her. He’d seen the others who were slated to be civilian agents gathering with Ms Liala, so he went to join them.

_________________
"Times change...and so must I." - The Doctor, 'Time of the Doctor'


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PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2007 9:28 am 
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Battlestar Libra
Day 170 Time 0855
Basic Training Graduation

Liza Liala had watched the ceremony solemnly, had listened, as Rodrigues spoke...Spoke words she understood only too well.

Now, looking on from the section reserved for various higher-ranking observers, Liza scanned the crowd to see where "her" four trainees had gone. In the relative safety of Libra, she had left her regular detail of marines to wait aboard the shuttle than would later return her to Catalina, and had only Willborn by her side.

She continued to look throughout the crowd, finally spotting Max and Naiya, neither of whom had families to attend the graduation, chatting together in one corner. She spotted Hunt next, near his family, and finally, tiny Emily, speaking with her father a few feet away from the McCormack clan.

She slowly made her way through the crowd, towards Naiya and Max's position, and, with a brief congratulations, led them closer to the area where the McCormack and Norton families were. She wanted all four, together....For a few words of her own, to echo those that had been spoken earlier to all, by Admiral Rodrigues.

She and Jack had been the survivors. They had been the very last, the last left still standing when the rest had fallen. But Hunt, Emily, Max and Naiya...They were something far more critical. They were the future.

Finally, she positioned Max, Naiya, and herself close to the Norton family. This--as she had suspected--drew Hunt her way as well, as she suppressed a somewhat satisfied grin, as he walked over to join them all. She stood there for a moment, with a genuine smile gracing her face, as she dropped her newfound political mask from her words as well her expression.

"I wanted to personally congratulate you all." she said, shaking each hand in turn. "I want you all to know of your importance to the fleet. You have all chosen to join organizations--or rather their successors--Who will be vital in the days to come, once a civilian government is once more in place. the life you have chosen is not easy, and it may yet be more difficult, for you. But also rewarding beyond measure. You will be the first, the ones who will path the way for those to come....and also continuing the path of those who came before. Of them..."

Her voice tone did not change, her face was unreadable, but she spoke her next few words much more softly.

"...I can only emphasize this: They were people of integrity, and people of courage. They were people who stood their ground while the world came apart around them. Who performed their duties even with their dying breaths. I cannot stress enough how much it pleases me, that people such as yourselves--people such as everyone in this class--still exist within the human race."

She gestured to the entire class of trainees as she spoke her last few sentences, then turned back once again to just the four before her.

"You and the others, civilian and military alike, you are the future of this fleet. That future will be a bright one...As long as people like yourselves still exist."

“Thank you, sir,” Hunt said, his words echoed by the others. He hadn’t had a chance to talk to his family much, though, and after a few more words with the others, he excused himself.

He hadn’t had a family for very long, and he hadn’t had a chance to see them hardly at all for the last eight weeks. He had a few more hours with them today, and he planned on taking advantage of every moment.

_________________
Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper, about budget cuts for the US’s intelligence agencies: "We're not going to do more with less and all these other clichés. . . . We will just simply have less capability."


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PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2007 4:19 pm 
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Discovery - Dr. Robert Dunnavan's Office
1145
Day 171

Dr. Dunnavan sat at his desk flipping through the test results for a fourth time. Across from his was Dr. Katerina Alexandrov, the head of Biological Sciences. She was as surprised as her boss.

Dunnavan finally looked up and spoke with a concerned tone. "Are you sure of this, Doctor? What your results state are...well, extraordinary. In fact, they are historic, for better or worse."

"Doctor...Robert, I've ran the tests three times. The results are valid." Dr. Alexandrov took a deep breath "With all that has recently gone on in the fleet, this may only add to the problems..."

"Not if we keep our traps shut for now. How many people know about these results?"

"Counting you, three...and the subject suspects something is out of the ordinary."

"Tell your assistant to not say a word about this unless he is talking to you or me." With that, Dr. Dunnavan took his glasses off. "And the subject is working so well with us...the others we have to basically knock out to get samples from."

"Maybe we can get the subject off of Libra and moved here?"

"I don't think the military will go for that, Katerina. Maybe if we can put the subject on another military ship?" Dr. Dunnavan paused for a moment. "I want one more confirmation. Do we still have a good sample?"

"Yes, I have one that is still good and untouched."

Dr. Dunnavan closed the report and placed it back into it's lockbox. "Dr. Kersh has been assisting us with some previous projects. Send the sample to him and have him run the correct medical test."

"And what of the Admiral and Dr. DeValera, sir?" Katerina asked.

"Not yet...let this result come back and then we'll get the military concerned." Dr. Dunnavan then put his glasses on "In fact, tell Dr. Kersh this is a test for a friend and she doesn't want the entire ship to know. Our medical team, at times, is known for running their mouths when they shouldn't..."

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"Times change...and so must I." - The Doctor, 'Time of the Doctor'


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PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2007 9:42 pm 
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Battlestar Libra Medical Section
Day 172 Time 1300
Dr (Maj) Ralph DeValera, Ms Delia Buscaglia

“Please, Ms Buscaglia, come in,” DeValera welcomed the woman, nodding his thanks to the Marine who had escorted her from the hangar deck.

“Do you want me to wait, sir?” the Marine asked.

“Yes, if you could, I’d appreciate it,” the doctor said.

“No problem, sir,” he replied, and calmly stood at parade rest outside DeValera’s office.

Ralph DeValera had already talked to Delia Buscaglia on the wireless. She’d called to ask if her name was on the Colberg’s list of non-consenting egg donors; when DeValera had answered in the affirmative, she’d requested to speak to him in person.

So now she sat in a chair across from his desk, a woman in her mid-thirties who seemed calm—and determined. “Thank you for agreeing to see me, Doctor,” she said. “I had wondered about the course of treatment that Dr Rijos-Colberg prescribed for me… but she was highly recommended.”

“In spite of her unethical practices, she is an excellent physician,” DeValera replied, curious why Buscaglia wanted to see him in person.

She nodded. “I want to know who is carrying my child, and who the biological father is,” she stated firmly.

“I can contact them and ask if they’ll agree to release their names to you,” DeValera told her. “I’ll just need you to sign a release form, allowing me to release your name to them.”

“Of course,” she nodded, “I’ll be happy to." She waited expectantly, so Ralph handed her the form, and a pen, and she signed it immediately; then she went on, "You understand, Dr DeValera, that the child is mine, and once it’s born I intend to get custody.”

Ralph was not entirely surprised by her statement, and let none of his personal feelings show. Calmly, he said, “I’ll contact the surrogate mother and relay your request to talk to her, and to the biological father as well.”

“Thank you,” Buscaglia said, standing, and Ralph stood, shaking her hand. “You know where to contact me.”

After the Marine escorted Delia Buscaglia away, Ralph stood there in the hatch of his office for a moment, deep in thought.

“Do you need something, Doc?” Howie asked.

DeValera shook his head. “No, thanks, Howie,” he told the clerk. He turned and went back to his desk, making notations in the files, and sending off eNotes. This may become interesting…

_________________
Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper, about budget cuts for the US’s intelligence agencies: "We're not going to do more with less and all these other clichés. . . . We will just simply have less capability."


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PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2007 9:50 pm 
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0142
Day 174


“Gods…I…never…get…tired…of…this…” said Susan after she collapsed in exhaustion on top of Kyle. “Now I can go to sleep in your arms.”

“At least you didn’t wake the kids or everyone on the ship.”

“Aw, you hush! I don’t hear you complaining…”

They both laid there for a few minutes, not uttering a word. Finally, Kyle broke the silence. “Do you ever wonder what happened to them?”

“Who?”

“Intrepid, Taurus…the fleet.”

Susan propped herself up next to Kyle. “I wonder about them a lot. I really hope they got away. I still think David and Stacey made the right choice to blind jump. We’d be dead otherwise.”

“Yeah…I really miss them. If they had survived, maybe…” Kyle paused, trying to explain what he wants to say.

“Maybe what, hon?”

“Maybe Joe wouldn’t try to carry the Universe on his shoulders so much.”

Susan snuggled closer to her love, “He feels responsible for all of us, especially the kids. Joe does his best and you are doing everything you can to help him.”

“Yes, but he just keeps getting distant at times.”

“Go and have a long talk with him tomorrow, Kyle. Maybe he needs his friends around him more.” With that, Susan kissed Kyle. “You need some rest…I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

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"Times change...and so must I." - The Doctor, 'Time of the Doctor'


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PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2007 10:13 pm 
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E-note / Discovery
0745
Day 174

Quote:
To: Dr. Katerina Alexandrov, Discovery
From: Dr. Steven Kersh, CMO – Taurus
Subject: Sample

I did the requested test and your friend has reasons to be happy (or at least I hope she is happy). The test was positive as she suspected it would be. Results are attached to this message.

Now, I would suggest that she go ahead and visit Dr. Cruz and he can get in touch with Doctor Talbard on Iasoan, so she can get fully checked out and on a good pre-natal program.

Tell Dr. Dunnavan Dr. Sonji and I said 'hi'...and you two are welcome over for a visit anytime.

//signed//
Dr. (Maj.) Steven Kersh
CMO
Battlestar Taurus


Dr. Alexandrov picked up the handset on her office desk and punched a button. “Dr. Dunnavan, this is Katerina. The tests are confirmed and I am forwarding an e-note to you. So, now what?...”

_________________
"Times change...and so must I." - The Doctor, 'Time of the Doctor'


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PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2007 9:03 pm 
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Cpt. Rayna "Draco" Darkstone, Lt. Nicholas "Quickdraw" Baxter
Day 174, ~15:00 Hours


Quickdraw: <"Okay Draco, now come at me. Weapons-free. You can do this.">

Draco took a deep breath and eased onto the throttle, heading right for Quickdraw's Viper. "Okay Rayna. Keep it together" she thought. She was on a collision course; steady speed, finger on the trigger. But her heart began to race and she was starting to hyperventilate. At about 350 meters she broke to starboard and flipped around.

Draco: <*sigh* "Sorry Nick..">

Quickdraw: <"It's okay.. you're doing better! You just, need to relax. We've got time. ..Here, let's try it again. We can go slower this-">

Divot: <"So sorry to interrupt, but I need to speak with you Lieutenant.">


Quickdraw took his helmet off and opened the canopy. Draco did the same.

Battlestar Libra, Viper Simulator Training Room

They got out of the simulators and exchanged glances. Divot was standing nearby, taking the wireless headset off and hugging a clipboard. There was an awkward silence for a moment, before Nick approached her.

"..Captain?.."

Divot was all business. "Lieutenant, I've received the schedule update from the CAG. I suggest we review it." She gave a cold off-hand glance towards Draco.

"Okay. I'll be th-"

She cleared her throat and impatiently looked up at the wall, still hugging the clipboard.

He hung his head and looked towards Draco. She understood, and was actually a bit relieved to be out of the cockpit, even if it was only simulated.

"Alright.. guess we'll pick this up tomorrow then."

Draco nodded, and the two squadron heads exited the room. Quickdraw bit his tongue as they walked down the corridor.

Lt. Nicholas "Quickdraw" Baxter, Cpt. Mira "Divot" Koldeski
Battlestar Libra, 113th Black Crows Briefing Room
Day 174, ~15:30 Hours


"..and my trainees will be starting live wargames in a couple weeks" explained Divot. "So that is the outline of my schedule. Yours is marked, here." Divot smiled and slid the clipboard across the table to him. Quickdraw gave her an annoyed look and reluctantly grabbed the clipboard, reading the schedule to himself.

Moments later.. "The frak?!"

"Excuse me?" she said, raising an eyebrow.

"This, is almost the opposite rotation that we're on now..."

"Yes."

"..So, how is that supposed to work?! I train Draco in the afternoons. How can I-"

He knew it before she even said a word.

"The CAG and I feel this is the best schedule if we-"

"Oh, the CAG and you.." He pushed the clipboard away and leaned back in his chair, crossing his arms.

"Yes Lieutenant, the CAG and I.. We've considered all the other squadrons rotations, and factored in my training time, as well as-"

"I've got it, Captain." he said sternly. Divot's posture stiffened. She was trying to keep her cool, but she was getting annoyed with his attitude. "..So when did the CAG and you decide to shift my training sessions to?"

Divot gathered her paperwork and didn't even look at him. "We didn't. Starting next week, somebody else will be training her." She looked him square in the eyes, almost daring him to say something. He was grinding his teeth. "Draco will be fine. It was decided-"

"By the CAG and you" he thought sarcastically.

"-that you should be focusing your full attention on the Crows" she explained.

Nick was getting very fed up with her now. Her motives were completely transparent, but they both knew he couldn't do a thing about it. She turned back to him again, wearing a simple smile on her otherwise expressionless face.

"Now.. let's discuss pilot performances, shall we?"

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PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2007 9:18 pm 
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Day 174, 1947
Sergeant Trevor Roberts, Brad Carnes

“Come on, Rob, one more,” Brad Carnes said, his words a command.

Sergeant Trevor Roberts exhaled, partly growling, as he bench-pressed ‘one more time’. He was soaked with sweat, and his left shoulder was on fire. His arms shook with the effort as he strained to push the weighted bar above his chest. It was the eighth lift of the third set, and the most weight he’d attempted since he’d been wounded. The most weight he’d ever been able to lift, actually, thanks to Brad’s urging, even though it felt like a red-hot poker had been jammed deep into the front of his shoulder.

He couldn’t get it all the way up, though, but Brad was there spotting him, standing at his head, and Brad put his hands under the bar, helping Rob to set it up on the rack.

Rob sat up on the bench, hunching and hugging his left arm against his chest, the pain sending red lightning bolts behind his eyes. It had been two and a half months since the centurion had shot him up, so he figured he really wasn’t doing too bad… he was certainly doing more than Dr Needham approved of, but what else was there to do? He’d taken five centurion rounds, altogether, two high up in his left shoulder. His shoulder blade had been broken, part of it splintered—but amazingly, not any part of the shoulder joint itself had been damaged.

Amazing, actually, that he was still alive, according to Dr Needham. He’d lost a lot of blood, was still low even after ten weeks, and that was why the doctor disapproved of the rehab plan that he and Brad were working on.

Once the pain had subsided a bit, Brad handed him a bottle of water, saying, “Here, drink it up.”

Rob nodded gratefully, gulping. “Thanks,” he said when the bottle was empty, using a towel to wipe his face and chest.

Mimi, the ship’s black cat, jumped up onto the bench next to Roberts, swishing her tail and bumping her head against Rob’s left elbow. He reached to pet her, but stopped, gasping, “Frak!” He held his arm against his chest again, sweating from pain, now.

“I pushed you too much,” Brad said with concern.

Rob shook his head. “Sometimes,” he grunted, “it just… hurts.”

Brad didn’t argue. He knew that Rob’s shoulder often bothered him, even when they hadn’t been lifting weights. Rob seldom said much, and had never complained, but Brad had gotten to know the quiet Marine well enough to tell when he was in pain.

“Enough for today,” Brad said, but they’d been done, anyway. “You did really well.”

Rob nodded, standing cautiously. One of the side effects from losing blood was dizziness if he stood too quickly. Once he was sure he was steady, he turned to scratch Mimi under the chin—using his right hand—and the cat rewarded him by purring.

“I still got work to do in eight,” Rob told Brad, referring to Dome #8. The crops there weren’t coming along as well as in Dome #4, and Rob had been working there, following Brad’s directions. The graduate student was trying to get as much out of the crops there as he could, but the soil had been tainted by pollutants from burst lines, when the ship had been attacked. Dr Wyatt’s bumbling attempts at assistance hadn’t helped any, either… Brad, along with a couple of the surviving agriculture students, had cleansed the soil, but some of the dirt’s nutrients had been lost.

“Take it easy,” Brad said. “The work will be there tomorrow, too.”

Rob nodded, but he headed to the dome anyway. His formal education had ended with high school, but he figured if he could contribute simple labor to help out, it was better than nothing. He didn’t mind weeding and tending the crops, and it would distract him from the pain in his shoulder.

And even though the work would be there tomorrow, too, there was always way too much for the few of them left to get it all done.

_________________
Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper, about budget cuts for the US’s intelligence agencies: "We're not going to do more with less and all these other clichés. . . . We will just simply have less capability."


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PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2007 9:22 pm 
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PG-13 - Sex

D174 T2214
Battlestar Libra
Cpl. Francois Laffitte, CPO Alexandra MacLean

Frankie squirmed, but it was no use - he was still stiff as a post. Laying next to Alexandra was becoming more and more... uncomfortable.

Things between them had been good since they had talked and cleared the air weeks ago. More than good - they had been great: they were closer than ever, and secure in their love for each other.

But Alexandra was still not ready to have sex; Frankie respected that, and wouldn't push her, but Hades take it, he was horny! And having her press her tight bum against him while she slept did little to ease his torment. Resigned to another mostly sleepless night, he put his arms behind his head and lay on his back, watching the ceiling in the dim light.

Mac rolled over, snuggling up against Frankie. She knew he was horny, but before now, she just hadn’t been able to… think about having sex. But she was relaxed and drowsy, and he smelled so good. She smoothed her hand down his muscular chest… he felt so good, too. She suddenly recalled the first time they’d had sex, and how good it had been, and she started to get warm.

She slid on top of Frankie, smiling, and kissed him. “Be… gentle…” she said softly.

He almost jumped out of his skin when Alexandra caressed his chest. Now, with her warm body atop him, he burned like a thousand suns. Still, he took her face in his hands and whispered, his voice hoarse and gravelly with arousal, "Are you sure, ma petite? I can wait..." His manhood's insistent prodding belied his words, but it was true: he'd stop if she asked him to.

“I’m sure,” she whispered, kissing him.

He kissed her tenderly, desperately, his heart thumping violently against his chest. His hands caressed her body, rediscovering paths and crests and valleys, endlessly varied, endlessly fascinating. His touch was sometimes soft as a gossamer wing, sometimes warm and lingering, but even in the haze of ever increasing passion, he strove to keep his hands light on her body, non-threatening. Oh how he wished to turn her over and bury himself in her, to burn away all lingering memory of what had been done to her! But he was scared of breaking the spell, of unwittingly reminding her, of hurting her...

So he kissed and caressed her while his body screamed for release, shivering with passion and his effort to control it.

Even though she’d told him she was sure, she really hadn’t been, but she wanted to try. Being with Frankie like this was the one big hurdle she felt she still had to overcome, and she didn’t want it to keep hanging over her.

And she was afraid, at first. But then, as he touched her and kissed her, so tender and loving, it was so unlike what the Brown brothers had done to her. She kissed Frankie in return, touching him, delighting in the feel of him, and her fear melted as the heat in her body rose.

Then she was finally ready. She knew he’d been more than ready since they started, but it didn’t take them long, now. She forgot the past, forgot the future, and lived just in the moment of passion and bliss.

He was burning up, about to explode, her increasingly passionate caresses driving him to the brink. "Please, mon coeur," he pleaded incoherently as he took hold of her hips, poised just above him. "Oh gods, Alexandra, let me in, please! I love you so much, and you're so hot and gods I can't hold off much longer!"

She murmured something and lowered her hips; all seven oceans roared in his ears as he slid inside her - hot and smooth and tight - and he shook like leaf caught in a storm-tossed sea whose waves carried him higher and higher until, with one last mighty roar, he crashed and broke and there was no Frankie, no Libra, no past, present or future - there was only passion and bliss. There was only Alexandra.

She curled up in his arms, content, and murmured, “I love you, Frankie.”

It took him a little longer to be able to speak again. He burrowed his head in her hair to wipe the unexpected moisture away and whispered, "Je t'aime, princesse..."

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