PHD #042: Auspices and Theology
Auspices and Theology
Summary: Karthasi and Cadmus discuss Lalonde's religious beliefs and ramblings.
Date: 12 Apr 2041 AE
Related Logs: The Scales of Judgment
Karthasi Cadmus 
Chapel — Deck 9 - Battlestar Cerberus
Post Holocaust Day: #42
The hatchway opens into a dimly lit corridor, stark grey walls now and again painted with some mural appropriate to the religious season, stretching from floor to ceiling and then sloping down away from the ceiling in two triangular forms that bracket off the tiered seating areas to either side. Straight ahead, in the center of an open space, stands a simple rectangular altar, the emblems of the Lords thereupon arrayed to receive sacrifice in the tall room when the altar isn't decked for some more specific use. Hestia, who is not vouchsafed her own emblem on the altar, is etched in relief on one side of the altar itself, shown tending the hearth in her usual fashion. In the wall behind the open area are three evenly spaced hatchways which can only be opened and closed from the inside. The small cubicles behind each hatchway are each furnished with a small altar against the back wall, upon which sometimes the dark shape of a sacred object can be discerned even from the tiered seating for visiting on the sacral days. The hatches can be closed to block out profane eyes from rites they were not meant to see. The walls between each little cubicle can be retracted to create a larger space for more well-attended mysteries.

A light murmur, rhythmic, cyclic, flows from the faint motions of the priestling's mouth as she passes two fingers through the smoke rising from the incense on the altar, consecrating it to the divinity to whom it was offered. The room is lit, but dimly. Quiet, but not wholly unpopulated, several groups assembled in quiet rows of prayer on the grand steps that offer the chapel's seating.

Despite being dead on his feet and having the look of one of the half-dead walking, Lance Corporal Maragos is still on duty. He hasn't changed out of his body armor, tactical gear, or put his assault rifle down since the attack nearly a full day ago - he's carrying that damn rifle like it's a part of him. His helmet is unstrapped, however, and he's obviously not expecting to find any more Centurions inside the chapel. Pausing by the hatch, he kneels down and places a number of MREs in a pile by the door - dispensation for those who have taken refuge here during repairs to their quarters. After standing once again, he moves fully into the room; his eyes search left and right, seeking someone in particular.

Karthasi closes her eyes and lowers her head, stepping back and then to the side, disengaging from the altar, then turning and coming near face-to-face with the Lance Corporal and his gun, which gives her some pause as she looks at the thing, then back up to the LC's face. A glance past him to the rations, and she tips her chin toward her chest in a shallow, quick nod. "Thank you, Lance Corporal."

Wiping the heel of a hand across one eye and then the other, Cadmus nods a few times. "Welcome, Captain. Just… trying to do what I can," he murmurs. He pauses for a long and confused moment - the sudden stillness of someone who's forgotten most of what they were going to do. Suddenly he seems to remember, and straightens up with a few owlish blinks. "Actually, I wanted to talk to *you*, specifically. 's why I asked to bring them down here, rather than stay in the stairwell. I need some expert advice."

Karthasi stands there, awkward, that long moment, not quite sure what to say or if to goad the fellow on. Just as her lower lip is tremoring away from its upper counterpart in the first indication that she might question further, he speaks, and she gives him a slow nod as she listens, and gestures out toward the vestibule, "If you think I can help, please, go ahead. Let's speak in the vestibule," she goes on, "I understand the necessity of the times, in regards to weaponry, but I would appreciate keeping firearms out of the chapel," she points out with an ineffable mildness of expression. And begins to walk along with him, if he goes, leaving those within to their prayers in peace.

"Regulations, sir. Can't leave it in the hall. Can't go check it in, because I'm supposed to carry it everywhere I go until the Lieutenant tells me otherwise," Cadmus answers back. He seems *somewhat* apologetic, at least - he's not completely insensitive to the decorum of visiting the chapel. As he follows along behind, he eyeballs the rifle for a moment. Eventually, he unbuckles his vest and pulls off his helmet. Lifting the rifle, he wraps it in the vest, and places the helmet atop the barrel, and finally places it against a wall upon entry into the vestibule. Perhaps this effort to disguise the weapon is the best he figures he can do on short notice. "I was hoping you could shed some light," he ventures at long last, "On some things that came up when interviewing Lieutenant Lalonde, who was recovered from the anchorage. He was the one who was… ah… arranging the dead."

Karthasi looks duly grateful for the effort, and, for the Lance Corporal's troubles, she gestures back around the end of the slanted wall to a spot on a step near to the abandoned weapon, where she sits, herself, a seat's worth of space away from the vestibule, that Cadmus might sit. She folds her hands on her lap, listening with a quiet attention. "Giving due observance to the dead is a pious work for man," she praises the individual in question, even if in moderate tones.

"Mmm. True, but I don't know if he was doing it for the same reasons you or I might." Cadmus begins fishing about in his pockets now that he's blissfully free of his armor. Eventually, he produces a small notebook, a pocket recording device, and folded up bunch of printouts. "I realize this may not be the best time to ask you about this," he says quietly, eyes fixed on the items in his hands, "But… I need to try and make sense of what Lalonde was trying to tell us, if I'm going to be able to work. And I think it's important. First, let me show you the transcript of our interview, and photos of how he was arranging the bodies. Frak, I don't even know where to *start* with this, Sister." He places the folded up print-outs and photos beside you, along with the recorder - although he does not set it to play.

Karthasi takes some time flipping the first few pages of the transcript, not even getting to the end, a few glances spared for the photographs, but her attention is for the main part on the words. "He's obviously very well-educated, he has a firm grasp on several theological theories," she begins. "He refers to the cyclical succession stories that preceded the Reign of Zeus… and… seems to be of the opinion that the Dianic Stasis is broken, and that we've reverted to the successive theological model, through the aid of the Mother Figure, the Serpent, the Spiral— who are all in essence the same thing. The chthonic whirlpool, the womb-sepulchre," she goes on. It all seems to make perfect sense to her, at the very least.

If there's an easy way to make a Marine feel poorly-educated, this must rank very high on the list of methods. Cadmus just runs a hand over his head, fingers knitting into his hair as he listens. "I have to admit, Sister, I have *almost* no idea what he's talking about, but it was my impression that he definitely knew exactly what he was attempting to tell us. Even if we didn't," he says. "I made a stab in the dark that he was referencing Typhon, given his dominion over storm-winds and boiling oceans. Not unlike the current state of some of the colonies. But that was simply a stab in the dark."

"I think we're going more for Python than Typhon, though the two figures are related to one another. Typhon is simply the attic perversion of the Python into the masculine, ouranic type," Greje begins to expound, then reins herself in, clearing her throat. "Python is the Ge-serpent at the navel of the world. The Pythia takes her name from it. The spiral is the form of the serpent indicating the descent into the chthonic realm: death. The Mother is the figure who guards the portal, or… is the portal, herself. The spiral becomes an apotropaic symbol through the aversion of the evil eye from that which is frightful to view. Like the head of Medusa, also festooned with serpents, who acts as the omphalos, the navel, of Athena's shield," she gives another example.

Silent as he listens, Cadmus actually *takes notes*; only the occasional nod of his head interrupts his pen's slide across the notebook. "Would it be incorrect to assume that in Lalonde's understanding of events, the Mother he refers to is actual catalyst for that descent, then? The root reason for which change - or the spiral, whichever - has taken on motion, rather than simply remained a symbol without physical manifestation? My impression of his body language is that he did not regard the mother figure as hostile, so much as the cause for necessary death and transformation within … well, all of this," he murmurs, finally glancing up from his notepad.

"No, it would not be incorrect at all," Greje answers simply. "The mother figure always sides with the children in the overthrow of their father, in terms of the Cyclical Succession. Ge helped Kronos overthrow Ouranos, Rhea helped Zeus overthrow Kronos. Always through duplicity over force. But the cycle was broken when Zeus devoured his wife, Metis, whose name -means- duplicity, treachery… all of those things with which the female always ended up overcoming the male. Zeus, in turn, became half-female, and, in gathering both halves of the male/female force/trickery divide, became supreme ruler of the universe, unable to be overthrown. The Lieutnant's theological assertion that the Mother has overthrown Zeus is… theologically unsound, but it seems to me that his hypothesis has been inspired by the recent return of the Cylons and overthrow of humanity. I'm not sure in what form he believes the 'Mother' has aided the Cylons in our destruction. I'm not sure that it particularly matters; she's an archetype which can take a great many forms, and he seems to me to be speaking on a theoretical level rather than a practical one."

"Mmm. I believe there was an actual catalyst for that belief, with a physical form, either aboard Parnassus Anchorage or somehow related *to* it. I don't have any proof for that assertion, as yet, but I have a very strong suspicion that the work being done on that Anchorage would have been resoundingly condemned by the Quorum of Twelve, if they had known about it." Cadmus taps his pen's tip against the notepad repeatedly. Pursing his lips, he glances over the scribblings - forward a few pages, back a few. Eventually he settles on one where a phrase has been repeated several times, circled and underlined. "Do you have any idea what Lalonde might have meant by asking us to seek the Mother in the lair of the Huntress, on the plains? I assumed he was referring to a temple to Artemis, but the more I think about it, I'm not so sure he doesn't mean some kind of *other* secret military installation, near to a known geographical feature or unrelated temple."

Karthasi flips through the pages of the transcript some more, reading now this passage, now that. "Mmm. I'm not certain. It looks to me to be a fairly… standard exegesis of the cyclic successions, Lance Corporal." A faint smile. "Not unlike some of the undergraduate papers I used to grade at Delphi." The smile fades again. "The 'Mother' is a force of nature, more than any given person. Look here, he names her Necessitas, Anagke," she points out, "The force that compels one generation to die away in deference to the next. Over and over and over again, without fail." Something catches her eye, then, on a passing page, and she flips back to it. "Hunter on the Plains. Leo, Leonis," she notes. "The Lion."

Blinking a few times in rapid succession, the marine begins to flip his notebook forward. Reaching a blank page, places pen to paper once again. "I hadn't considered that," Cadmus murmurs, head bobbing a little as he ponders it again. "Do you… Do you know perhaps what he meant by that? How it might be connected to the rest of his train of thought?" It is abundantly apparent that Cadmus is totally out of his own educational depth, and is now swimming through the unfamiliar waters of high academia - he has that almost-panicked look that one so often finds on undergraduates at their first final.

Karthasi takes a deep breath and rereads the section for context. "Um. It looks as though she was just using an example as a foil to her gnome," she hesitantly offers. "You find her everywhere. In the wake of a newborn star — she helps things come into being. In the lair of the lion — where dead animals are brought to be consumed… back into the cave… another chthonic reference. I think he just means that she's the force of birth as well as death, which is a fairly standard pair of attributes for the Goddess." A pause. "Or he means the colony of Leonis. That particular phrase, the Hunter on the Plains… was claimed as the banner of that tribe."

Cadmus presses the heels of his hands to his eyes, head falling back; the beginnings of a rumble begin to rumble low in his throat. Eventually the groan becomes an exasperated groan, and he lets his upper body fall forward again. "Gods above, this is going to drive me crazy, given enough time. I have a gut instinct that Lalonde knows something we should know - maybe that we *have* to know. But I'm damned if I can figure out how to read this. I hope that he did mean Leonis, and wasn't simply making an example," Cadmus mutters, looking back up at you. He is grinding his teeth, perhaps consciously, perhaps not. "I can't in good conscience make recommendations on gut instinct, though."

"I don't -think- that he meant we should actually -go- to Leonis. But. Then. I don't know. Maybe you can ask him straight-off, now, whether we should go there and what we might find there if we do," Greje offers the sensible suggestion.

"I'd like to, but as far as I know, he's under sedation still. Optimally, we should find out what the hell they were doing on the anchorage. Why it was mined so heavily. Why it wasn't listed on any charts or records. Because I will lay a lot of money on the fact that at least some of his ramblings are inspired by direct events aboard that anchorage," Cadmus says. He slaps the notebook closed, sliding it and his pen back into the breast pocket of his shirt. "I don't want you to think I don't value what you had to say, Captain. I do, immensely. I think you are probably the only person who can make heads or tails of Lalonde's behavior. But this scriptural business… It's beyond my ability to *use*. And that frustrates me."

"I understand your frustration, Lance Corporal," Greje goes on, quietly. "Believe me, I understand. You're speaking to the person who had to petition the Admiral to delay the commissioning of the vessel on account of foul auguries. I never expected anyone to delay any of the exercises, but… it's my job to report them, in any case. I wish you luck, Lance Corporal."

Snatching up his helmet, rifle, and armored vest from the vestibule wall, Cadmus chuckles a little as he begins strapping himself back in. "Sister, I know you don't ever see me down here. But I don't ever go out without my amulet of Artemis. I have about half-pint of ink in my back, made into protective ward so I don't get shot from behind. And you know what?" He clicks the final fastener closed on his vest and hefts the GMAR over one shoulder. "I've never been shot. I've walked out of bloodbaths without so much as a scratch. So really? I don't know what the frak to believe, but if the omens are bad, you can be certain I'm gonna listen."

"You can listen all you like, Lance Corporal," the Priestling's words soft and friendly, for a moment, almost hiding a tone of laughter amid them like a shy girl hiding in the trees. "Only don't expect command to do so."

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