Title: Lock and Load (1 of 1)
Rating: PG13 for language.
Author: Lin lin.morris @ btopenworld.com
Imperious Beta: Rap
Setting: During 2.19, "Lay Your Burdens Down, part 1".
Summary: The perspective of Sharon's marine guard detail.
"Soooo … this is designated a two alpha mission provided you're a flyboy," said Iskander, cleaning her gun for the fifth time that day.
She looked along the barrel, then began to reassemble her weapon.
"Lock and load," said Polemon, "lock and load." It was his mantra before action. The small group of marines were too used to it to mind.
As Iskander put her rifle back together, she mimicked Starbuck's briefing.
"We're also expecting to take heavy fire, simulations indicate losses of up to 20% can be expected."
"We got it," said Polemon. He sounded resigned, and his friends knew he had been ever since the Gideon. Nothing to do with being a Picon, or being assigned to guard the toaster formerly known as Boomer. The third marine in what was left of their unit shrugged.
"Who're you gonna call," said Ripley.
They recognised the bitter truth in that. Polemon tightened the straps on his body armour, again.
"Anybody feels like friendly-firing that frakking toaster, I've got your back," said Polemon.
The unit began escorting the robo-skank out of its cell to the hangar. Three corners down the hallway, and along came Lt Toaster Frakker, puppy-eyed and acting like he'd memorised the scroll on caring.
"Something dark is coming," said the machine that looked like Lt Valerii. "I can feel it lurking out there, waiting."
"Funny," thought Iskander, "the rest of us know that something dark is right here on board Galactica."
"It's nothing specific," the machine went on, "nothing on the mission, more like a dark time."
"Ya think?" said Ripley, in his head. "We lost the frakking war with the frakking Cylon, there's dark times coming? Frak me."
"Lords of Kobol, hear my prayer," thought Polemon, "let not this monster of evil destroy our mission to rescue your own."
The detail moved their prisoner into the hangar, past the picture of the marines on his knees before the destruction of Aerilon.
It was faded and greasy from every pilot and marine who had touched it as they went to combat.
"Lest We Forget", baby, lest we forget.
The photograph was part relic of the Colonies that had gone forever, part memorial to the pilots and marines who had never come back, and part mystical bestower of good fortune.
It was the only thing on the ship that was more sacred than the Hall of Memories.
Ripley knew that if the skin-job had so much as lifted its paw in the direction of the picture, he'd have blown it away.
There was barely enough room in the Raptor even before the knuckle-draggers had installed all the extra hardware for the toaster to jack itself into.
The guard planted themselves along the webbing at the back of the cabin, readying themselves for the long series of jumps.
Halfway through Thrace talking to Galactica actual, Iskander and her unit realised the skin job was talking about her little girl like the thing had been real.
None of them could help staring, could stop themselves crossing the line from watching the skin job like they were ordered, into staring.
Then the LT who'd been frakking it turned to them.
"Is there a problem?"
The LT wasn't the sharpest piece of cheese in the barrel, but was still an officer even if he was a flyboy. Also, the size of a small piece of field artillery. The marines broke eye contact with him. They'd all served too many years to think of answering him, even if there'd been anything they could in decency have said.
Iskander made a silent promise to her unit, "Anybody feels like friendly-firing that toaster-frakking elltee, I've got your backs on him as well."
Iskander wasn't aware of her hands cramping up from keeping her rifle trained on the skin job until their Raptor came out of the last jump intra-atmosphere less than two klicks above the surface of the nuked rock they used to call home.
On schedule and in position, and better than happened to Sgt. Kaeso and his guys on board Raptor 6-12, who'd jumped inside a mountain.
Ripley counted that was two Raptors and a dozen good marines the toaster had killed so far. Four, maybe five, flyboys too. That wasn't twenty percent casualties, he acknowledged that; or maybe that should be, not twenty percent casualties yet.
Iskander shifted her gun to ease the tension in her muscles. She told herself you didn't have to be Gaius frakking genius Baltar to work out that the odds were turning against them before there'd been any contact. She considered maybe that was the skinjob's real plan, divide, destroy, and rule.
She wouldn't bet on the flyboys or the CIC working that out.
The Raptors landed on the edge of a forest that provided cover for their route to the Caprican resistance base-camp.
Outside the Raptor's cabin, there was a weird yellow tinge to the sky, and to the very light itself. That hadn't been there the last time any of the marines had been on Caprica.
'Course, the entire planet had been nuked since then.
Polemon, Iskander and Ripley moved up behind the skin job, which was going to take point. Just where they wanted it to be, in their sights.
The SAR party moved slowly through the forest until they came to a clearing, and the skin job held up a fist to signal halt. Iskander moved in closer.
"Movement," it said. "Eleven o'clock."
Iskander shaded her eyes and looked into the low sun. For a second she wasn't sure, but as she scanned the treeline, she did see movement, low down. Not Centurions, she was sure of that: they never used cover, or cared about coming out of the sun to attack. The figures were moving fast, but not as fast as Centurions, whose pace never slackened. Plus, Centurions were silver metal and would have reflected the light. Maybe this was skin jobs, she thought, but why keep dog and bark yourself?
Or maybe, she thought, maybe this was the rumoured Caprican resistance. If so, they weren't bad. Not good, certainly not marines good, but not bad either: good enough to have survived on a planet of hostile machines for months.
As the SAR party took cover, the movement on the horizon increased. Whatever they are, whoever they are, thought Polemon, they've got faster, and nearer, and there's more of them.
"Friendlies?" asked Thrace. Iskander realised that the captain had been thinking along the same lines she had. Hell, maybe Thrace had taught them some basics. Stuff basic enough for a flyboy to know.
So then Lt. Toaster Frakker asked for a bullet by sticking his head up above cover and called out to the approaching figures.
Ripley and Polemon took aim on the machine, in case.
But the advancing figures in the treeline turned out to be the Caprican resistance after all, who'd been bombed out that morning, and now had toasters on their ass.
Toasters who started fired incendiary rounds on the SAR and the resistance even before they'd finished saying their hellos.
Polemon's last thought was, "That ain't no friendly fire."
Then the captain ordered a retreat back to the Raptors, only for the skin job and its frak buddy to yell out they were cut off.
Ripley grabbed the guns and ammo off what was left of Polemon. He dived down behind a fallen log, next to Iskander.
"One hell of an ambush that skin job planned," yelled Iskander.
"I see it, it's frakking dead," yelled Ripley, right back.
"Incoming!" screamed somebody they didn't know, a woman, before there was the biggest explosion yet, followed by a different sort of screaming.