AWD #092: Uncertain Allies
Uncertain Allies
Summary: The next hurdle is confronting armed humans.
Date: 8/4/2013 (OOC Date)
Related Logs: A Question of Honor, Landfall
Ceres Holtz 
Somewhere heading West on Picon Highway #1
AWD #92

The truck was left a mile back already, having been pulled over, Ceres yanked what she could and tried to fix it so that the tread marks wouldn't be seen right off the road. Either way, it was a rough done job before they headed on foot, the sun slowly sinking in the sky, with just their weapons and not much else - she didn't think to grab food or water. Probably was none.

"Did you see any signs? I think I missed how many miles ahead the next town is. We need to look at getting some food.." She eyes him and then pauses, looking around and listening as they stick beneath the canopy of the trees.

Holtz is still limping, but it's not quite as bad as it was before. The pain in his wounded leg is slowly starting to subside, thanks to the medical supplies Ceres found in the drugstore back in Mayer. He's walking a few steps behind her, the dead Six's rifle still cradled in his arms as he looks around, keeping an eye out for Cylons. Well, Cylons other than the one in front of him.

He shakes his head at the question. "No, nothin'," he grunts in response. When she stops, so does he, sighing and leaning against a tree to catch a breather, taking a quick look at his bandage before going back to surveying the surroundings. "Not that I remember either, leastways." He cocks his head at her last. "You eat? I mean, it's not just for show?" It's not a dig at her origins, rather an honest question, judging from his tone.

The crack passes Holtz's ear first and not even a blink later, bark is torn from the tree beside Ceres' face. The smoking hole of a .308 rifle round is only six inches from her ear. The boom of a rifle follows close behind, coming from the direction of their truck and the way they had been walking from. Just one shot, though. Farther back through the woods, nothing can be seen. No glimmer of metal, no follow-up shots in the next second or two.

"Yeah, I eat. I can just ignore it but given enough time it won't matter if I can shut out the pangs of hunger. I will die just like you." Ceres intones. "I will grow weak. My body does process things the same way." She gives him a look and as her head turns, she feels the heat and whistle of that bullet whiz past her face. She ducks down then in reaction and then moves for him, grabbing his arm and dragging him down. "Frak…I don't see anything.." She tries to get an idea of what is coming.

"Sonuva — " Holtz bites off a curse as the shot rings out. He doesn't require much dragging; he's already dropping to the deck himself even as Ceres tugs him down. The rifle is leveled in front of him, his finger flexing on the trigger as his eyes dance around, searching for a target, although for the moment, nothing pops up to oblige him. A moment later, he looks back at Ceres. "Got an idea," he says softly. "Turn on that toaster speed of yours and start ducking behind the trees, yeah?" He hefts the rifle. "If you can tease the bastard into takin' another shot, I might be able to spot the flash."

There's nothing but the sound of the wind in the trees for several seconds. Even the birds have taken off. Then there's the sound of a breaking stick to the right, a few dozen yards off and just below a dip in the terrain. To the left, shadows move farther up a gentle rise. "Let him go, canner, and we promise we'll make it quick," echoes through the trees from the direction of that rifle shot.

Giving Holtz a long look, Ceres seems about ready to go with his plan and then goes utterly still. She stays down. "I think you don't have to worry, Storm." Her dark eyes meet his and she wets her lips. She considers her options and shifts, starting to rise a little, but doesn't say a word. "Got you to where we were going, Major. At least they found us before the Cylons did." SHe tells him and flexes her hand on the gun, slowly offering it over. "Less of a threat without it."

Colonials. Humans, anyway. Well, that changes things. Holtz's mouth forms a silent 'o' of surprise, and he slowly reaches out and takes the weapon, stuffing it into his belt with a grave nod. Taking a deep breath, he calls out, "Stand down, godsdamnit! I'm coming out!" He pushes himself to his feet, and then he looks back to Ceres and hesitates. "If they don't wanna see reason… you put your head down and you run. You got me?" Swallowing, he emerges from behind his tree, rifle leveled.

The emergence of Holtz but not the Nine seems to cause confusion. There are a few whispers through the woods and the sound of a radio hitting squelch. Silence lingers for several seconds. "Walk to the sound of my voice," the man calls once more. "You tell that toaster she'll be home soon enough. Tie that bitch to a tree and see how long she can hold a cooked grenade between her head and the bark," he calls with a laugh. There's a few hoots and hollars to accompany it.

Watching Holtz rise, Ceres' jaw clenches and teeth grind as she waits for the other shoe to drop. But his words cause her to hesitate and she wants to laugh, "Got no where to run to, Major." Fact. She remains low though, as if unsure of what to do and slowly, she stands, placing her hands to the air, rising so as not to seem a threat. In fact, she doesn't move an inch, she remains where she went down and allows him to step out into view.

"Frak," Holtz mutters as he realizes she's right. For the moment, though, he doesn't move from where he stands, his chin jutting out defiantly. "I'm Major Kurt Holtz of the Colonial Fleet," he barks, "and the first one of you brainless shitheads that tries any such thing is gonna see how much shit he can talk when I put a round through his jaw. You frakkin' get me?"

…and there is only silence.

Ceres' hands remain in the air, but her attention briefly shifts, as if to trying to see how many their are. Holtz' defense of her seems to give her pause, and then perhaps she worries a bit much. "I come willingly." She says, stepping to the side so they all can see her and in hopes that he's out of the line of fire.

Holtz shoulders his rifle as his challenge gets no response. It's pointed in the direction the voice came from. "Where's the big talk now, asshole?" he snarls at the trees. "I want to see someone down here in front of me, standin' tall, yeah? Now."

There's a movement from the direction of the rifle shot and a man in his early twenties emerges. Mismatched camo uniform, the green facepaint completes it. He's got his sidearm out, but his rifle slung. He walks straight towards Holtz with some intent and a grim look on his face. Eyes flick to Ceres, then back to him. He doesn't wear any visible rank, either. "Right now you've got a lot of guns pointed at the both of you," he says on the approach. "What the hell is your deal?" he demands. "That thing is a godsdamned Cylon. Are you deaf, dumb, or stupid?"

Watching the young man approach Holtz, she remains silent, starting to scan again for others. Her dark eyes return though at the call of her being a Cylon and her jaw tenses. There is no remark, not a word and her hands flex as they remain held to the sky.

"And I got a gun pointed at you," Holtz says, his tone soft but dangerous nonetheless. He says his words with all the force and conviction of a trained killer, implying that if either of them goes down… the man in front of him is going down too. "I don't like bein' threatened, especially by a bunch of dumb peckerwoods cowerin' in the brush." He takes several steps towards the man in front of him, but doesn't raise his weapon any further. "I know what she is, you fool. She's a Cylon, aye… and she's mine. If anyone's goin' to kill her, I'll do the job myself."

"Buddy, I'm already dead. You killing me just means it comes a little sooner rather than later. This is Picon, Major Ass. We're all walking dead. Difference is, you seem like you probably got someplace to be." The man stares down Holtz. "So you're one of the can openers? Get your rocks diddlin toasters?" He sneers, shaking his head. "Fine, asshole. Your funeral. Enjoy." He averts his eyes to Ceres, staring at her. "Gods, I love killing your kind. You're so godsdamned pretty when you cry in pain." He looks her down then up and turns to walk back the way he came.

Oh right, this is going well. Ceres shifts on her feet and then goes stock still at his sneer. Her dark eyes meet his, staring back into his. "We need to get to Spree. Well he needs to get to Spree. Get Major Holtz to her." This said, she looks at him. "Go with them, don't be a fool." This is said below her breath, her hands yet in the air.

"Shut up." The frigid words are directed at Ceres, but Holtz's eyes never leave the camouflaged man. He starts fast-walking, advancing on him as he retreats. "I got a better idea, frakhead. You tell your men to stand down and show themselves. Otherwise I'm going to drop your stupid ass, an' then I'm gonna kill all your sick little frakhead buddies an' line 'em up right beside you. Your call."

The guy has no comment to Ceres' words about Spree. He just keeps walking until Holtz comes up behind him and he stops. The guy turns and holsters his gun, staring back at Holtz. He looks him over. "Pilots. You all never change. Orion, too, huh? You want to threaten me? Fine. But while you airy faries fly around in your cozy little cockpits and probably sleep in warm beds, we're fighting. Good to know you all haven't forgot about us. How godsdamned gracious of you. I really appreciate your threats." He leans in. "You kill me, you and your thing will be dead before you hit the ground. I guarantee it. By the grace of Ares, I am letting you walkaway and not killing you for collusion, which in case you've forgot, Major, is treason. Kill me if you want, it'll just prove I'm right. Your funeral." He glances back to Ceres one more time and turns, walking back. Closer from where they were standing before, Holtz can probably see a rough form in a slopped-together ghillie suit with a rifle aimed past him and at Ceres.

Ceres shakes her head, as if wishing she could throttle Holtz. Her eyes flicker from the pilot to the man on the other end of the spectrum who looks about ready to skin her. She chooses to stay quiet.

"You shot first," Holtz barks at the other man, but he doesn't make good on his threat. His finger twitches on the trigger, but he doesn't pull it. "I'm perfectly reasonable when motherfrakkers ain't shootin' at me, yeah? You wanna talk about collusion? You don't have a godsdamn idea what you're talkin' about." Reluctantly, he begins to lower the rifle until the muzzle is pointed at the ground. "I fight every frakkin' day, same as you. All I want is a ticket off this rock so I can get back to the fight."

The man just keeps walking, lifting an arm over his head. He makes a circle with his hand and then chops it back forward. Passing the ghillie, he leans to take up a painted GMAR and he keeps walking. Around them, there is the subtle sound of movement, but only a few shadows are seen. As they vanish into the woods, the shooter stays behind and then slowly backs away before turning and leaving, himself. The sounds of the forest don't return, but the wind still blows.

Staring as they stalk off, she doesn't let her gaze leave that last gunman until he disappears. It is only then that she moves and rolls her shoulders. Ceres lets out a breath and without a word resumes their direction, brows furrowed. The only sound he will get is the crunch of her shoes on the ground as she trail blazes her way towards the West, darkness starting to set in.

Holtz also stands, waits and watches until the gunmen are out of sight. His earlier composure seems to crack a bit, and his body is shaking slightly as he turns away and resumes walking; his eyes flick about wildly, and his slightly flushed features are twisted into a grimace as he moves. He follows Ceres' path through the foliage, still staying several steps behind her as they advance along the path of the setting sun.

Perhaps she should say something, but she doesn't. In fact she forgets to ask for her gun, which could end badly. But she leads, doing her best to keep a pace that he won't fall behind on. Her dark braid is fraying, but it sways against her back and her neck. Finally she speaks softly, "You should have gone with them."

"Frak them." Holtz spits on the ground to show her what he thinks of them. "Stupid gutter scum nearly took my head off with that shot." There's a pause, punctuated by the sound of leaves crumpling under his boots. "The best you could've expected from them was a slow, painful death. I — " His next words stick in his throat, and they sound awkward when he finally gets them out. "Besides, you… you saved my ass when you came after me. Maybe I could've let those pricks do what they wanted to you… but how could I call myself a man afterwards?"

Her steps slow a little and there is a bitter sound. "I want to say I grateful for your change of heart, Storm. But your wording, as it was to those /gutter scum/ is poorly chosen. I am sure you would have slept at night." She draws a breath, "It likely would have been slow..painful…and I would have remembered every moment of it upon waking into a new body. Then, if I was lucky, I could try again…or they would find me and take who I am and box me so that I could not infect the rest of them with my ideals and hopes." SHe pushes a piece of foliage away from her. "And you are worried about whether you can call yourself a man." Letting out a breath, she waves her hand at her side. "Going with them would have gotten you back to your daughter."

"I don't forget a debt. Even if I don't much like who I owe it to, yeah?" He shakes his head, expression suddenly angry. "Yeah, I worry about that. And yeah, I might've been able to sleep, but that don't mean I'd've been proud of it. What the frak is the point of livin' if you can't be proud of the person you are, of the choices you've made? Ain't that the whole reason you supposedly defected in the first place?" He snorts. "Thought you wanted to be a person, not just another godsdamned Nine." He makes a disgusted sound. "Ah, you don't frakkin' understand. An' I doubt you ever will."

Ceres stops, but doesn't round on him. She just stands there a moment in the grey of twilight. "Still spitting hate and anger at me. I get why you are angry and upset, why you want blood. I want it too. My gun is in your hand because I will not shoot a human, I came for you as you have said. I killed a brother six. How about you start calling me Ceres, or Redux…and stop referencing what I was. I stopped being that quite a while ago. Why not have a little faith in the fact that what you have, your lives, your feelings, emotions…can be a blessing. I blessing that Cooper and I want badly." She looks back over her shoulder at him, watching and hesitating as she chews on the words, "Thank you. You didn't have to do what you did…risk yourself as you did."

Holtz stops as Ceres stops. He studies her face as she speaks; his own expression still contains some of that residual anger, but it slowly fades as he takes in her words. When she finishes and offers her thanks, he slowly approaches her and locks his eyes on hers, as if trying to measure what's inside. The second pistol in his belt is taken out and stiffly offered in her direction, handle first. "Just don't make me regret it," he whispers; whether or not she takes the weapon, he'll resume walking in stony silence after a moment or two.

Ceres waits for it, as if expecting he might hit her but remains still, some surprise registering as he offers her gun back. There is no reply to his statement, instead she takes it, testing its weight in her hand again before she nods her head. She takes up the lead once more, the gun pointed down and safety on as through the night they will try to make their way to someplace safe enough to rest.

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