PHD #426: Cannibal Song
Cannibal Song
Summary: Marko meets Vandenberg in the old hydroponics lab to talk about what Bannik told him earlier in the evening, try, unsuccessfully, to persuade her about letting at least Bannik off the hook and generally talk turkey about the situation they're in.
Date: 28 APR, 2042 AE
Related Logs: Sharing the News of the Future (chat with Bannik); assorted Gemenon-related foo
Marko Vandenberg 
Storage Closet 8-014 - Deck 8 - Battlestar Cerberus
Post-Holocaust Day: #426
This small storage closet has been transformed through months of effort into a modest floating garden. An assortment of plants hang in trays, water running through their roots; misters go off periodically, giving the room a damp, clean feel. The lights are ample, but not blinding — and they're faintly warm, too, when the misters don't pipe up. The plants are in various stages of growth and blossom, but only a few currently dare to extend hopeful tendrils. There also exist a few rows of pots for those plants that don't handle hydroponics particularly well, though these are not nearly as numerous by any stretch and seem to be limited to a couple of rows on the left wall.

Two whiteboards on the port and starboard walls detail the various projects currently being undertaken, while the rest of the walls are home to cupboards and shelves bearing impromptu plant-growing supplies: notes for cuttings, mist bottles, inventory of seed and cutting stock, and the like.
Condition Level: 3 - All Clear

Before the Elpis was commissioned, this little closet was the greenest, warmest, wettest spot on the entire ship. Home to the hydroponics experiment headed up by CMC Raine Lunair, eagerly assisted by many, including her future husband. Once the Elpis' systems were fully rehabbed and she was ready to join the Fleet, the bulk of the work of feeding the Fleet moved there, leaving the little closet that could in the custody of the Marines as it took over growing hydroponic poppies for Morpha and other medicinal plants of the restricted variety. Fortunately, or unfortunately, the bulk of the piping that's still there is the sort of thing Marko had been fighting with for months. So now and then, when something truly goes on the fritz and nobody can figure out why one of the pumps isn't working, he gets called down for odd jobs. So it is tonight, which seems to suit him just fine, for all his black, vulgar growling as he muses on the ancestry of the people who designed the particular water-moving device he's working on. It's also, he's learned, a great place to have a private chat. The guards are, after all, on the outside. Which is his true purpose for being here, a discrete tete a' tete with Vandenberg.

With her request in hand, Vandenberg wanders down to the 'Pot Locker' on Deck Eight. She's back on full duty finally, the woman in her duty browns with baton and sidearm on her polished black belt. The black helmet denotes her to an MP as well. Pushing open the hatch after flashing her ID to the guards, Van closes it behind her and looks to Marko. "Hey, el-tee. What's up? Probably with the drugs?"

"Just a sec." Marko calls, grunting as he manhandles the pump he'd been mending back into place. A few soft _whirring_ noises of an automatic screwdriver sound as he re-secures the device to the improvised frame. "There…..that ought to…" he says, turning a few little valves with his fingers and then crossing them as he watches the water begin to flow into the pump, which, after a false start, begins to do as it was meant. "Good." he grunts, shouldering his way out from underneath the frame. Finding his feet, Marko gives Vandenberg a wave before he slips over to retrieve a little mini boom box that's been here since the project started. Pressing play, the sound of a growling, looped didgeridoo begins to fill the compartment at a volume specifically chosen to prevent eavesdropping. Are there microphones in here? Who knows, why take the risk? "Glad you could make it." Marko calls over the din, the big, woody instrument giving way to a sliding, mechanical drum track accompanied by an oily bass line. "I need to talk to you about something."

Van watches the man work, lifting the radio to hear ear to overhear some kind of transmission. The Marines operate on their own frequencies and use their own jargon. Its anyone's guess that she is listening to. She returns the wave and settles the speaker back to the station on her shoulder and returns the wave. When he starts the music, she already knows this isn't a typical call. "White noise works best, for future reference. But yeah, proceed. What's on your noggin, Marko?" she asks, stepping over closer to him so they can speak easier through the music.

"Talked to Bannik tonight." Marko replies, tearing off a tiny patch of paper towel to coax the grease and water mix beading on his skin. "Queen _was_ a Cylon." he says simply. "I don't know _all_ of the circumstances, but they were essentially kidnapped. They played along because they didn't have a lot of other options." he explains, chucking the stained wad of paper into the recycle bin. "They didn't collaborate with anybody, at least Bannik didn't." he adds. "I can't vouch for Averies, but Bannik's clean. He needs to be released, and soon. Or is he being held for his own protection?" he asks, cocking his head a little. "I know there's a lot of bad feeling about them,"

None of this seems to phase Vandenberg. "I didn't know the man, myself. If they say he's a Cylon, and people confirm it, I'll take it at face value. Other side of the coin is they are Cylons themselves and McQueen has been taken prisoner to some unknown end." She doesn't sound like she really believes that herself, but its given out anyway. "And how is it that you know Bannik is clean, Mister Scaurus?" Hands fold behind her back. "Because he said so? As for his release, or Averies?" She shakes her head. "I'm not in any position to order their release or push for it. Fact of the matter is that I support their continued detainment. Especially Averies'. What they did, by their own volition or not, has frakkered them into a corner in a way that nothing else could have. We don't know what they told the Cylons or if anything has been compromised. The bad blood some feel isn't an easily assuaged issue."

"Yeah, yeah, I know, I get it." Marko replies, waving a hand and heaving a sigh. "If Bannik's a Cylon, then there's no way we have to really test for that, or Averies or anybody else for that matter." he points out. "Aphrodite's cunning, for all you know _I'm_ a Cylon and vice-versa." he grumbles. "All I know is that they, who or whatever they may or may not be, taken under whatever circumstances they may or may not have been taken, telling the Elevens and Twos on Gemenon whatever they may or may not have told them, _this_ one little thing is true - We haven't been attacked. If the Cylons wanted to hammer us, believe me, they'd hammer us."

"True, you could be a Cylon. But you didn't recently take an unscheduled jump to visit with a bunch of Cylons and come back crowing about our needing to go talk to them. I'm also not concerned about you announcing to the entire fleet about what you saw like Sawyer Averies has told me she intends to do upon release." Vandenberg looks around at the plants as she speaks, noting what is where before her eyes fall back on the ECO. "I think that both of them believe what they are saying. To what ends they may or may not have been fooled is something this mission to Gemenon intends to find out. That's why it is essential they remain in custody. And while they may not have attacked us yet, I'd also submit that we haven't launched a fifty megaton nuke at Lampridis and called it a day. We're moving. At a pace command and the Marines are comfortable with."

Shit! Don't you hate it when the other person you're trying to persuade has a valid point you can't get out from under? That one often not-so-subtle twist of logic that you didn't consider. The mention of the recon mission causes Marko to smile ruefully and give a regretful half-shrug. "You got me." he admits, nodding a little. "Dead on nuts, alas." he sighs. "Still, one thing it says to me." he continues, not content with being shoved into the wall by Vandenberg. "The fact that they're both so eager to believe whatever they were told is a very clear signal." he says, sighing before taking a slow, deep breath. "We're losing hope."

The Captain doesn't do a victory dance or give him any expressions of the kind. Only a nod. With his last though she takes a breath and glances to the floor. "Their intent to believe everything they were told so quickly is understandable on a few points. First, Sawyer is a dreamer. She's been called to Lampridis by something bigger than us. I'm not surprised she is believing all of it. Second, neither of them are strategic or tactical planners. Or Intel analysts. By Averies' own admission, she didn't know what to look for so she went on her own reporter's instinct. No lie, that's a powerful force and one I won't discount. But would you trust the future of humanity in a war like this to a deck Specialist and a news reporter?" She doesn't expect an answer and moves right along. "Some people may be losing hope but that's their right. The Corps will fight to the last man or woman, no matter how hopeless it might look in the long run. But I personally believe Lampridis will either be our deaths or salvation. And it will be decisively one or the other."

"What if there was another way?" Marko postulates. "We've got a frakking _ARK_ in the bay, Captain." he begins, unconsciously using her rank instead of her name. "What if we were able to deconstruct it's flight path? Think about it, sir." he adds, sounding a little more eager than he'd like if he could hear himself clearly over the howling, banshee wails of Tomas Jorge against the grinding backdrop of music. "Whether we believe in the Scriptures or not is irrelevant at this point. We've got evidence in hand that says at least part of it's true. That, yes, there was a world called Kobol, and yes, a frak-off long time ago, we left there for the Colonies." he muses. "So what about the rest of it? The Scriptures say that Kobol can lead us to the Thirteenth Tribe. Maybe the Cylons found something down there at Lampridis that can give us an answer…I dunno." he says, shrugging a little. "What I know for an absolute fact is that we've got an artifact that originated from Kobol in our Starboard hangar bay. One that we've never _really_ put the screws to. I say we do it. We tear the bastard thing apart and decode as much of it as we can. All we need is a direction." he adds. "Space is kind of a desert, after all. Planets that can support human life are kinda thin on the ground."

"From what I understand, Engineering already tried to pick apart the computers. It caused a fire. All the systems on board, according to rumors, are toast. There's nothing to be had there except the carvings." Vandenberg shakes her head, the inflection of her voice apologetic. To the rest she takes a step closer and fixes him with a look. "The Cylons have told our people that they need our hoelp to decode what they have at Lampridis. I'm going to tell you in the strictest confidence, Lieutenant Scaurus," likely this has legal connotations, "-that the help they need is probably going to have to come from myself and those involved in my investigations. The data I've compiled might prove crucial. When I tell you that nobody on this ship wants this to work more than I do, I want you to understand the full weight of that. What we could potentially put together may in fact provide what you're talking about."

"Yes, sir." Marko replies, nodding a bit as he chews over that bit of truthfulness. "If you need _anything_ in the way of computer support, you know where to find me." he say simply. "We can't keep chasing our tails, Captain." he sighs, finally letting a little bit of how truly crestfallen he is show. "The war is over. We lost. Revenge is…." he huffs. "Revenge is sweet as a frak with the neighbor's middle daughter, but it isn't _advancing_ our cause any. We get weaker, the Cylons get stronger." he says simply. "We've got two choices, and I know you've already thought of this, but I just have to _say_ it. Either we die ferreting out the remnants of planets that are now mostly unable to support human life, a thousand paper cuts and hollow victories. Or we die rolling the _big_ dice, and take a chance on something better."

"I'll keep in mind, Marko, but I don't think there is any computer or ECO support I can use at the moment. As for the war?" She sighs, shaking her head. "The war isn't over in my book. As long as we are still trading shots, its war. I don't consider anything we're doing to be revenge." Its not a lecturing tone, its more a softly offered opinion. "Kepner wanted revenge. He was a coward he was afraid to make the tough calls and was looking to just go down swinging without any regard for the future of our race. What we're doing is calculated. There's a lot of options.. I don't know the odds of finding another habitable planet by sheer luck. I'm not a scientist. But I also know that as a war-fighter? We can still win. We may not be able to get our homes and families back, but we might be able to prove that war is no longer in their best interest. I agree that we can't fight forever. Humanity can't afford it. But they do live forever. If we run and settle someplace - even Kobol - they will eventually find our descendants. And then they will kill every last one of us."

"Then let's hope the Cylons are as divided on the subject as Bannik and Averies make out them to be." Marko replies. "All I know is this, we can't keep this up much longer. At this rate, we kill _ourselves_ and the Cylons get to have a great big laugh at our expense. No….it's Kobol and then, maybe, just maybe, Earth…or _nothing_. A slow death's still a death, Van." he says quietly. "And we're already bleeding ourselves white…"

"If they are that divided, I know we can exploit that and use it to take them down in some big ways. Tactics are artful and subjective to the situation and the artist. I know I could use some of it against them." That smile is just a little wolfish. A little. It fades quickly, though. "I'm well-acquainted with what its like to bleed for this fleet and humanity, Marko," Van deadpans. "And what it means. We're united again under a common flag. We're being sent to Gemenon to find out whether or not something is feasible under that flag. Whether or not its possible is out of my hands now. Once we land, the ball is in their court. If we have to die to prove our end of commitment, then so be it. Beats a slow death. But I'm not done here, yet. I have some things to do just yet." That smile returns.

Marko smiles back, if only a little. "Find it. What ever it is down there, for Frak's sake _FIND IT_." he says, with an unusually stern tone in his voice. "I am not going to keep banging my head against this brick wall for much longer, Van. I ..I can't. There's a point where military discipline breaks down and panic sets in, and I'm not going to lie to you, I'm getting there…._fast_. We either change the game or we change ourselves, and that isn't much of a better option."

The Captain's hands unclasp from behind her back and her right reaches out to clasp on his shoulder and give a firm squeeze. It drops quickly. "We'll do what we have to do, Marko. But I have faith in you, Lieutenant. I know you can keep this up. We're already changing the game. I think the elevens and a few others have been trying to for some time now, its just that nobody was listening." She gives him an easy smile. "We've been pulled to Lampridis for a reason. If you're not religious, believe that I want this to work and my team and I are going to do everything possible to help humanity. That means you, too. If you are religious, like myself?" She winks. "The Gods are speaking. We're listening."

Marko claps Van's shoulder the same as she did his and squeezes. "I'm not religious." he chuckles softly. "But I'm not stupid, either. Something is happening here. Let's just both hope that we can get on top of it before it gets on top of us…._again_." he says simply. "Do you have a flight team picked out for the mission?"

"We're on top of it like white on rice, el-tee," Van says with a smirk. "That something that is happening? Its a chance. An opening. Either we take it or we miss out. But as I said, it'll be one of two things: Survival or Death. Wouldn't wanna miss out on that, would ya?" She clicks her teeth with a wink at the end. "As for the mission? No idea. The Colonel will probably assign a few people she trusts to get it done. I'm in the dark to that end."

"Stick my name under her pillow." Marko grins seditiously. " And for frak's sake, talk to your CO about Bannik and Averies. They got frakkin' _kidnapped_, for pity's sake. What were a journalist and a Avionics Tech supposed to do? They brought us back Intel we might have never gotten unless Cowboy went off." he points out. "And if they're sympathetic to the Cylons they met there a little, well, who cares, frankly? They are the same Cylons who could've easily had them both murdered and shoved into the nearest ditch to bleed out. I'm tired of everybody gnashing their teeth and growling at the mention of the word 'Cylon'." he adds, sighing a little. "It's lunacy. We can be as mad as we want about what happened, it will _not_ help us. Not one bit. What will is the one thing that anger discourages. Thought….reflection….reason…..We're hanging by our fingernails. It's time we stopped waving our arms around."

Vandenberg re-clasps her hands behind her back. "I won't talk to anyone about that. And I don't think you'll get sympathy from anyone in the Marines, either. As I said, we don't know the truth of the matter. Maybe they did, maybe they didn't. To be completely honest, el-tee, we don't know whether or not what they brought back is real or just what the Cylons wanted them to see and hear. They were not sent by command. They were not issued instructions. McQueen just took them with him. They could have returned our genuine human pair on 'good faith' and are just waiting to draw us in with more good faith. Its actually a brilliant strategic plan, you know?" Van pops her brow. "Gather up all the humans you can find through the colonies? Bring them to one place. Then lure the fleet? All the eggs in one basket." She pauses for just one breath. "Not saying that's the case, but we have to explore all options here. And seriously? Marko? Do I look mad?" She's actually, a little oddly calm about all this. Maybe its them damned pins. Maybe she's really okay with this. "We're going to make the best decision we can about their intentions. But if we lose here, we lose everything. So for frak's sake, don't even think about breathing a word about the recon."

"Like I said, don't lose my number." Marko replies, nodding a little. "We may never know one way or the other, Captain." he sighs. "Maybe they are, were or could be….." he shrugs. "Or anyone else…..for the foreseeable future. Nobody's bothered to stop and ask the questions about how to detect the skin-jobs. So now we just lob that accusation at anyone that doesn't fit in with our own specific mode of thought. Like anyone who's willing to sit down and _listen_ to a Cylon instead of jumping through their own arsehole to bite through it's carotid artery." he says simply, gathering up his tools and shutting down the radio. "Think about it, Captain. Think about it _real hard_." he adds, a note of steel in his tone. "We're lining up for the next apocalypse….." he grumbles as he reassembles his kit and heads for the door. "And the next time, we may not be so frakkin' lucky. Frak the Gods, frak the Scriptures, frak the Elevens and Twos on Gemenon. The only thing that's going to save this species is _US_. And no worries, Van, I'm not completely stupid." And with that, Marko exits, giving Van a nod before departing.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License