PHD #147: Benefit of the Doubt
Benefit of the Doubt
Summary: Trask's take on the assistance of the Eleven confounds Penelope.
Date: 24 Jul 2041 AE
Related Logs: It Lies in Odd Numbers, Part I
Penelope Trask 
Recovery Room - Sickbay - Deck 10 - Battlestar Cerberus
Post-Holocaust Day: #147
A much more quiet area of Medical, this elongated room is also lined with beds. Each is similarly outfitted with privacy curtains as necessary and even the paint on the walls has been lightened in an attempt to help lift spirits. Chairs are readily available all over the place so that visitors can pull one up to talk to the patients during their recovery. Near the entrance, visiting hours are posted with a very conspicuous 'No Smoking' sign.
Condition Level: 3 - All Clear

There's been improvement, slow but steady, since Penny returned from the no-man's-land between life and death. But it's been frustratingly slow. Today, though, she's sitting up in bed, dressed in her off-duty fatigues rather than that deeply unflattering gown. Her hair is worn up, perhaps to better-hide the fact that it's begun coming out. Up in a bun and combed over, one can barely tell. That won't be a viable solution for long, however. Maybe the girls from Aquarian Pete's brought wigs?

Strangely considerate as he can be in his strangely considerate way, Trask is freshly showered despite the fact that he intends to get in some PT as soon as visiting hours are over. He's dressed for such, anyway, and lacking in the sight or stink of sweat. Why, he doesn't even smell as though he's even smoked. There merely is a faint scent of sage. Gym bag toted in one hand, arm bent to sling the bundle over the shoulder, he unceremoniously grabs a chair with his other hand and hefts it on over. Just like that, he sets it down, the back facing his chest, and then straddles the seat without even waiting for greeting or invitation. A soft *thump* ensues as the bag hits the floor. "No barrette today. Holding out for one with pink hearts or maybe glittery stars?"

A snort of mirth, and Penelope shakes her head. "The barrette was courtesy of Ensign Gerber. It won't be making another appearance. I swear to frak, if I'd known I was playing Coma Fashion Doll, I would have woken sooner." She shifts in bed, sitting up a little straighter and leaning over to kiss her visitor's cheek, running her fingers through his hair. "You smell good. To what do I owe the honor?"

That wasn't expected, the hands in his still slightly damp hair. Not that the man is complaining, even if his eyes narrow with incredulousness in a suspicious sidelong glance as his cheek is kissed, almost as if he's half-expecting something terrible to follow. When it doesn't, he lightly rolls his shoulders and smirks. "I always smell good," he notes. "It's just usually obscured by the stench of sweat and cigarette smoke. And did it ever occur to you that maybe I like smelling good because /I/ deserve it?"

"For a moment," Penny replies blithely. "But that's not congruent with the underpinnings of anger and self-loathing that support your facade of strutting ego." There's a warm smile that follows, however. "It's good to see you, Kal. Thank you for coming. How's life in the world outside sickbay?"

Not one to deny that he's full of crap, Kal still isn't accustomed to it being called-out in such an incisive manner. It's almost as though the snipe smashed a wrecking ball into one of his buttresses of bravado. To his credit, he recovers rather quickly — and promptly retreats into his fortress of facetiousness. "Maybe I'm just workin' the whole little boy lost with a dark and mysterious past who captivates and confounds angle 'cuz I hear chicks are total suckers for that kind of thing." The words flow oh so smoothly, in contrast to a certain vulnerability that his expressive eyes can never entirely conceal.

He keeps on rolling, though. "Same ol', same ol'," is the answer to the question. "Air strike. Nuking of five basestars. Nabbed some more Raiders to dissect. Cylon whateverthefrak station above Sagittaron self-destructing. Fleet jumping to another system to work on repairs." Same ol', same ol', indeed.

"Mm," Penelope says, non-comittally, of that angle he's working. Then, with a simple shrug, "We are." She's done been suckered. She's really past denying it. Being touch-and-go with your mortality for days on end will, for some, strip away the bullshit like so much cheap varnish. Her expression turns more grave at the report, however run-of-the-mill the details might be. Truly, they've been there, done that. It's the repairs that gets her. "Frakking frakkity mother of frak," she flops back against the bed — though she doesn't flop far, as it's been converted to sitting-upright, chair-like position. "Oh, Hecate, I've got to get out of here."

Alas, it's likely that it'll take something industrial-strength to strip away all those protective layers Trask has engineered over the past few decades. Then again, perhaps not. It's easy to avoid opening-up when people permit him to wriggle out of, or outright divert from such matters. Case in point, there is no further comment about suckers. Instead, "One of the cannons got trashed pretty bad. Some hull damage, too, I think. Dunno, really. The time I can dedicate to stalking Engineering has dwindled." Being a pain in the ass, though, it simply must be added, "Prolly will all be fixed before you are." The double-batting of his lashes is the signal that the utterly innocent look is anything but. "Don't eat too many of Lieutenant Bia's cookies, lest you get so much junk in your trunk that you can't pack yourself into any tight places."

Clumsily and somewhat weakly, Penny thwaps his shoulder with the back of her hand. "Jerk," she sighs. It's sort of obligatory and lacking in teeth. About those cookies, though, "I'm still sort of dodgy on the solid foods. Cookies might be a bit beyond me right now." Which, if she is the bright center of the universe, puts getting in an EVA suit and welding the hull on the planet farthest from. She considers her hands — healed, now, but still rendered useless by virtue of being attached to the rest of her. Another subject? "How's the prisoner?" That'll do.

Jerk: a badge he wears with pride. No matter how he tries, he can't fully school his scampish mouth into a straight line. "If I thought those jelly beans of yours could be melted, I'd offer to make you a smoothie. I'm pretty sure they can withstand sulphuric acid, though." True to form, Trask blithely says of the other subject, "Dead."

Penelope raises her eyebrows a little at the news. "How?" she asks, curiously.

"Electrocution." Beat. "I think. The whole thing… it was kinda weird." Another beat. "Actually, it was hella weird. She has… had some kind of sub-dermal jack in her arm and she plugged directly into the EW console. Then she started babbling all this stream-of-consciousness freaky shit about cycles, parents, beer cans…" Trask is actually telling the truth about the beer cans, although the context is utterly omitted. "Systems were goin' off the charts but didn't fry. Not until everyone switched to the frequency she gave, anyway. Then shit started sparking. I made it behave, though," naturally, "and she ended-up taking control of /all/ the Wing's systems, then did some kinda hard reboot that powered down not only us but the Raiders, too. They never powered-back, though."

Combing his memory, he concludes with, "She thanked us, asked for forgiveness, then went back into crazy babbling mode. Said something about seeing the face of the Thirteenth. Then she got toasted." If that were not enough, the ECO then adds, "All that happened /after/ she made our Raptor ping as a basestar on DRADIS, mind you."

Penelope blinks slowly as she takes in all this data, eyes widening at certain key points. The jack in her arm. Switching to her frequency (though that looks a little more like alarm). She shakes her head. "It's doubtless sitting on a basestar somewhere as we speak, having a sinister laugh about the performance it put on. How sympathetic it must have been, begging for forgiveness and then 'dying'. Truly, we should give it a medal." Bitter Penny is bitter. Deeply so.

"Asked, not begged," Kal corrects, perhaps as a knee-jerk reaction to the bitterness. "And I'm under the impression that she wasn't asking it of us, but of her sisters or whatever. Loves, I think she called them. Pretty sure she didn't mean me seeing how she never gave me a 'hey, baby' kinda look." That all aside, more soberly is asserted, "I've only heard scraps from my people who were on transport duty, but it sounds like she's the one who caused the whateverthefrakitswas installation to self-destruct, and that she did it before she was within downloading range. No idea if she resurrected, or whatever the frak they do, but I do know she could've seen us all killed, but she didn't. Whatever the reasons, at this point, I don't really care. I'm not dead. My people aren't dead. I call that a good day."

Penny gives Trask a flat look. "That's lovely. It — not she — was a machine. And the enemy. She and her 'loves' did this to me — " the damage both seen and unseen, deeper. "You might want to keep that in mind." She pauses, then adds, "It's not like you to give anyone the benefit of the doubt, Kal. Doing it for one of those things… isn't the healthiest place to start."

For a weighted moment, the man is simply silent, simultaneously intense yet contained, much like a chemical reaction that can explode at any time. When he finally does speak, it's with a carefully modulated tone. "My opinion of humanity hasn't at all changed. Most people are useless jagoffs. Some are far worse. Very few individuals, in my estimation, are actually worthwhile. Downright wonderful, even, on exceptionally rare occasion. Maybe the same can be said about those skinjobs. Maybe they aren't /all/ awful, despite the mistakes they've made and the frakwits who sired them."

Pensively, he pauses, those brown eyes of his soulful and vulnerable compared to how steeled the rest of him has become. "I don't expect you to understand. You've never had to fight against becoming what you despise. I envy you that," is the somber admission. Quickly, then, it's all brushed aside as he wields flippancy as a weapon. "Nothing I do is healthy," he points out, reaching for his bag and then rising from the seat. "PT is probably the closest thing. Speaking of which…" He's making his retreat.

"They. Are. Machines. They are not people. They are not wonderful, or worthwhile, or even not-all-awful — they are all alike. Anything that thing did to make you think to the contrary, it did by design, Kal." Penny shakes her head, baffled. "You are the last person I would have expected to be taken in. Frakking Sawyer and her little love poem to their cause, I can see. She's not terribly bright. But you?" She looks tired, settling back against the bed once more. "Right. You do that," she authorizes the retreat, shrugging. "Thank you. Come again."

"Those Fives and Twelves… Morgenfield… I'd blast 'em all to the scrapyard in less than a heartbeat. I'd do it even if they weren't machines. A frakker deserving to be airlocked is a frakker deserving to be airlocked. Period. That Eleven, though?" The Taurian also looks tired. "Like I said, I don't expect you to understand." Ever, really. And he's not at all inclined to explain any further. "I'll see y'around, Penny. Maybe I'll even manage to make you a jelly bean slurpee." That said, he's turning to depart.

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