PHD #179: Consignation
Summary: A conversation about things lost and found, and those consigned to oblivion and creation.
Date: 24 Aug 2041 AE
Related Logs: The Widening Gyre, Ancestor Worship, & Memoir: Missile Log Two
Cidra Trask 
Inside a Raptor at the Colonial Base Camp on Sagittaron
The inside of a Raptor, yo.
Post-Holocaust Day: #179

Truth be told, Trask had been tightly wound well before the barn was burned down while he and Bunny were in-transit to Cerberus the other day. When upset, stressed, agitated and the like, the man becomes more of a workaholic than he ordinarily is, which is no small feat. Whatever has been his primary project, as of late, it's been transpiring within the makeshift office-slash-atelier that is one of the Raptors.

Alternating between a notebook and a laptop, Bootstrap has amassed quite a cross-section of schema and blueprints in-progress. Fueled by caffeine, nicotine, and perhaps even a bit of neurosis, he's poring over some manner of report. Cigarette dangling betwixt lips, and the top of his flightsuit tied around his waist, this is the state in which he is to be found.

There's much that goes on under the nose of the Air Wing, in terms of her pilots' various neurosis, that Cidra generally subtly ignores. She values her own privacy and tries to leave her people theirs. Until something concerns her, or makes her terribly curious. Perhaps both in this case. There's a knock on Trask's Raptor hull. It's a just courtesy, but she *does* knock. "Bootstrap." She's in duty greens herself. And she's acquired a cap from somewhere. About a day too late, judging by the fine sunburn she's sporting. Her nose is peeling.

"Toast." It's a simple greeting, faintly distracted. It takes a moment before those expressive brown eyes flick to Cidra from what's currently absorbing his attention. "Hey…" The spark of creativity is emanating from Kal, evident in that gaze. Perhaps his coping mechanisms aren't at all healthy when it comes to long-term well-being, but he certainly is productive when he's dealing with (or avoiding) something that gnaws at him. "You gotta few minutes? There's some stuff I wanna go over with you, actually." There is no comment about the sunburn, which may be a bit surprising considering his smart ass. As for himself, his natural light tan merely is a bit darker than usual.

"Certainly." Into the Raptor Cidra ducks, craning her neck down a little to try and glimpse whatever he's working on. Though she does sit soon enough, where she can face him, rather than just spying. "How are you faring? I have seen little of you since I came down." And there is concern underlying her tone, though it's not heavy. She does understand the value of privacy. She's fair, for her part, and was gifted these past months with that extra pallor of one who serves long-term in space. If nothing else, she may get a nice tan out of Sagittaron.

No sooner than then the CAG decides to stick around, the SL is closing the hatch. Privacy, indeed. "As well as anyone can in this clusterfrak of a hell hole," is drily replied about how he's faring. "Damn glad to have you here. Only wish you'd been here sooner…" That train of thought is derailed, but not before it's possible to glimpse the tumultuous amalgam of anger, anxiety, bereavement, and scorn that he wrestles back to just below the surface. "Been keeping busy." The cigarette bobs as he speaks, only to be plucked so ash can be tapped. Exhaling smoke through the nose after another drag, he opts to remove his gun and holster, perhaps feeling more secure with the Raptor locked down. Even so, it remains within quick reach. "How 'bout you? I heard you met Shortcut."

"I did hear the initial reports," Cidra says. "I grieve the loss of Dominic's Lieutenant Paris. It was a bad beginning." Perhaps prompted by his smoking, she plucks a cigarette of her own from the pack in her pocket. She lights it, watching him with sober blue eyes. That tumultuous flicker of emotions was likely noted. Though, beyond somberness, it's hard to pin her precise reaction to it. A nod as to Shortcut. "I did, yes. Lieutenant Nikephoros and Sergeant Constin wish to have proper words with him about his experiences down on the planet, but I shall see him taken back to Cerberus for processing as soon as possible. Doe identified him, so that should ease things for him slightly. You served together on the Victory?"

"I'm sure they do," he remarks in a tone too acidic to be deadpan. Someone clearly is not a fan of the CIC LT or the CMC SGT. "Yeah," Trask continues about Ulixes. "Jugs was my primary pilot and Bunny my back-up. Maybe I flew with Shortcut a few times. He can handle a bird. Friendly enough fellow." Beat. "Well, about as friendly as anyone other than Evan can be when the flight roster is a revolving door of fresh meat and carcasses." The Victory lived up to its reputation. "He's local, but no lover of the insurgents. One of those rare souls who wanted to make a positive difference in his home, instead of just gettin' the frak out." Cue smirk, equal parts wry and pitying. "Shit. I think his entire career was one giant, self-requested tour aboard the Victory. Few people are likely to know more about the region than he does, and those people are likely dead."

Nothing is said about Penelope.

Instead, it's back to business. "So, the SSLF took longer than anticipated to attack, and it's less impressive than anticipated, so we really need to determine if that's 'cuz they are strapped for resources and manpower, or if it's something else. I'm still tryin' to wrap my head around Melpomene not shoving the lot of 'em," being the team Cora led, "into the shit pit."

"I do hope to know this Melpomene's motives better soon," Cidra says, dragging long before continuing. "I am endeavoring to set up a meeting with her. Poking us with a sharp stick is only eventual suicide for her people. She must see that." And she does sound firm, and confident. She's got a great Triad face. Even when her hand is shit. A soft "Ah" about the Victory. "I am hoping your Ulixes might be able to tell us something that could lead us to the remains of the Victory, if any of it came down on-planet. Perhaps he was not the only one among that crew to survive. The crash, at least." Six months on irradiated post-holocaust Sagittaron was likely not so kind to many others. "If nothing else, perhaps we can pull some materials from it."

Retrieving a notebook, Bootstrap starts flipping through pages, remarking around his cancer stick, "Her motives are simple: she wants us outta here. Period. The fact that she was willing enough to offer a non-body bag option's an anomaly. Whether or not it's enough to strike an agreement to work together against the toasters and then leave them the frak alone with their beloved tract of Tartarus, no clue. I'm inclined to say no, but I'm biased." Seeing even a fraction of the shit he did when stationed here would pretty much make anyone highly skeptical.

As for the Victory, "A lot of its birds woulda been scrap even before the nukes. If the Cylons or the insurgents didn't pick the carcass clean, we might luck out and find some non-detonated ammo. There was no shortage of that…" Finding the page he wanted, Trask adds, "Speaking of ammo, I've been going over that report Coll sent over…"

"We shall see what we shall see," Cidra says simply, as to Madam SSLF. Not much more she can rightly say to it now. Or the Victory. It is another matter where they will see what they shall see. "The munitions the Crewman has been working on, yes. I am endeavoring to keep to the pulse of it, though it is moot for us at the moment without a craft capable of deploying them. I do understand she and Fresh were designing something…" She sounds dubious, but her dubiousness only gets a shrug. She just flies them, she don't build them, so she knows not how far is far-fetched. She leans her nose over to get a look at what he's sketched.

"Yeeeeeaaaah…" is what the engineer-turned-ECO says about the aircraft in question. It's all he really needs to say to convey his criticism of the idea. "Why the frak they just don't try to retrofit the missiles, I have no idea." Well, he probably does but it certainly wouldn't be a favorable opinion. "Coll already proved they can be dismantled and rebuilt. I've never been much of an ordnance guy, so I'll defer to someone who is, but it just seems more apt to take the schematics and use the materials to create something we can use with the ships we already have. Yeah, the payloads will be smaller but'll still do plenty o' damage." Or so assesses Trask. "I've been going over dimensions," evident on the page of numbers and diagrams he shows to Cidra, "and I'm wondering if it's feasible to rework the Hammerfalls' guidance systems so they can still be deployed should the ship carrying 'em be destroyed. From what I can tell, they might not detonate even if a Raptor blows-up around 'em."

"That would seem the more logical end to approach it from, I do agree," Cidra says. No comment on the prospect of a Raptor blowing up around them, really. She just nods. She's quite capable of cold practicality. "I know little of ordnance myself. In that I would defer to our Weapons or Deck personnel. As well as Crewman Coll. But I do think it worth pursuing. I know not quite the status of their ship project, but it will likely take longer to complete than retrofitting would."

Tapping some more ash, the El-Tee nods. "I went over Fresh's blueprints a while ago. Made some notes 'cuz I said I'd review the design." His mouth quirks. "Look, I give props for showing initiative and creativity. I just wish they had some sense to go along with it. To be honest, I thought the project was scrapped when Weber was killed. If it's been green-lighted, it's news to me. Frankly, I'm more interested in trying to adopt the missiles' stealth features. If a new model of ship is on the docket, I'd sooner like to see some somethin' solely designed for recon. FTL-drive, RCS reductions. Hells, we could even consider an unmanned mode, in case the crew are killed or incapacitated." There is nothing to sweeten Trask's choice of words. Pragmatic as he is, he is also blunt.

"They had received the greenlight, so far as I was concerned, but I have heard little on it beyond Coll's work with the munitions," Cidra says. "I had presumed myself Fresh's death had put that aside." She shrugs. "In any case, so far as I know Coll is still working on it. I was spoken briefly with Petty Officer Damon about studying the Cylon ships. His people perhaps seeing if the innovations their technology shows could be used to improve our own. I know Mister Bannik is quite the expert in that area."

Not only is Bootstrap blunt, he's not one to dawdle when it comes to telling the truth as he sees it. "I'm going over some of their avionics and comms, hoping there might be something we can incorporate. At the very least, find a way to counteract. Any kind of reverse engineering, though, would take years with the best minds in the best possible facilities." Which means even longer for them. "Still, I keep lookin' for anything we can co-opt. I have no doubt that Bannik is, too."

That all said, Trask switches gears. "Any idea when you might be meeting with Melpomene?" If she'll even accept being what is not verbalized yet still conveyed via tone.

"Before the week is out, I do hope," Cidra replies. "Getting a message to her is not so simple a matter as sending a runner, but I would have it done shortly. Waiting shall only make things more difficult." More constructive cigarette smoking is done as she watches Trask. Gaze never really leaving him. "You are keeping yourself most busy, Boots." It is an observation more than anything else, though there's a tentative non-question behind it.

"When don't I?" he smirks with self-deprecating sardonicism, those expressive brown eyes of his taking the soulful cast of someone far more sensitive and vulnerable than most would ever suspect. Even so, nothing is ever so simple with him, for there is grim humor, insouciance, and that facade of strutting ego along with that little boy lost quality. Beyond all that, however, is sheer willfulness that often bleeds into defiance against the universe and all the ills it hurls his way.

Quietly, Kal clears his throat and sucks in some more nicotine. Blowing smoke out one corner of his mouth, he suggests, "We could try using the frequency Marko discovered. Odds are they've switched for security reasons, but I bet they'll still be monitoring any traffic on it. Get Shiv or Shortcut to translate a message into Sagittaran. Nikephoros can encrypt it, if necessary. I can send it."

"Likely our best bet, yes," Cidra agrees, as to the frequency. "When I figure out what I best want to say to her, I shall let the lot of you know." The faintest of smirks. "I shall have something on the morrow." Cigarette is nearly smoked down, but she gets the last few puffs out of it. A pause and she says, "Kal. If you wish to talk of… anything else…" She is not quite sure what precisely she wants to say there, either. "Well. I am about. And not on duty every moment."

A faint nod about the message. To the rest, that gaze averts and that cigarette is smoked, the mix of emotions resulting in a very pensive mien that would make one hell of an artistic, evocative portrait. For a brief moment, Trask lingers like that, his usual disquiet about visceral experiences giving way to something more profound. Finally, he simply says, "I'm not a religious man, Cid." Understatement, that, but there is an absence of acerbity, for once. "Penny, though…" Tension enters his face, so he pauses and smokes some more, then rolls his neck and shoulders as if making an attempt to shrug off some weight so he can don his proverbial armor. "She, uh… she was really devout." Another quiet clearing of his throat. "An' they just left 'er there. They didn't even attempt to salvage anything. An' you can ask Apostolos and Sitka about it, but I swear there are souls trapped here. There was some Sibyl…"

Bootstrap may not be a religious man, but Cidra most definitely /is/ a religious woman. "Souls trapped…?" No disbelief from her. Blue eyes are suddenly sharper, in fact. Manner turning both quieter and even more serious. She mutters something beneath her breath. In Old Gemenese. It has the sound of a warding. It's a long pause before she makes any other reply and when she does it is, "Lieutenant Paris was… dear to you, yes?"

The depth and length of that drag from his cigarette is as though he is trying to suffocate with the inhaled smoke everything he doesn't want to feel, which is far-sweeping, tumultuous, and intense. Alas, it doesn't work that way, even if he manages to masquerade. The eyes still peer through any mask, however, and his convey everything his face and form otherwise conceal. It is with such resolve that he is now regarding Cidra. "I'm not leaving 'er behind." It is a simple statement, as though Kal were speaking some great cosmic truth. "I don't care if it's just a chip of jet from her prayer beads, she's coming home." To someone as spiritual as the CAG, it probably can be gleaned that he is convinced that the soul of one Lieutenant Penelope Paris has yet to pass from this world into the next.

"The Scriptures tell us the souls of those denied the rites are left adrift. In oblivion. Not even granted so much peace as those consigned to hellfire," Cidra says softly, smoking as well. This one will go down to the filter. Her cloudy blue eyes meet Trask's darker ones. Not so inscrutable at the moment. There is a very sad sort of understanding there. "They never recovered my husband's body." Has she ever even mentioned having been married? She was single as she is now even five years ago, back on the Aegean. "He was a Viper pilot. There was an accident. Collided with one of his squadmates in a training exercise in one of those damned asteroid fields over Canceron. Just… gone. Did not eject. That ship went down to the rocks and it was just… gone. Nothing SAR can do about that, really…"

She clears her throat. Voice was getting rather husky. "Boots." Another pause. Voice almost soft as a whisper, but all of conviction. "We shall go back for her. What remains of her. Let me try and speak to the Melpomene first. Perhaps we can be granted passage. But whatever comes… I shall do all in my power to see you do not leave her behind…"

A sad sort of understanding, indeed, and an unspoken consideration to not rub salt and shards of glass into such a wound. The way he looks and faintly nods in response to the woman's bereavement truly is all that is necessary to share in her grief. It simply is the most elegant and eloquent condolences one really can offer is such a moment. Again, there is a pensive pause, followed with a grateful, murmured, "Thanks, Cid." Eyes drop to regard the stub that remains of his cigarette, which he idly rolls between thumb and forefinger. "I suspect she'll be unmoved." Melpomene, that is. "Go on about all their people consigned to oblivion." The smoke patterns become more jagged as Trask continues to roll the cancer stick. "Maybe, though… maybe the Sibyl can get her to see reason." What he means by that… well, it sounds foreboding.

Cidra clears her throat, fingertips fluttering a little over her cigarette. The intention is to ash it, but it drops from them entirely. She looks at the remaining cherry burning down there on the floor of the Raptor, before grinding it out with her boot. "She was killed in an explosion, from my understanding. There may be nothing left, you know." Well, she presumes he knows. It's not said to dissuade him. "Sibyl?"

Surely, he knows. With no less conviction does he comment, "Like I said, I don't care if it's just a chip of jet from her prayer beads, I'm not leavin' 'er behind." End of conversation. Determined to suck the very last vestiges of life from that cigarette, the nub is returned to his lips for a last hurrah. Exhaling the smoke through flaring nostrils, the butt finds itself on the floor and rubbed out beneath Bootstrap's boot.

"Yeah," the man continues. "Sitka or Apostolos could better fill you in, seeing how Bunny an' I remained in the bird, but they came across some cave where the unburied dead wait to be ferried across the Styx or some such thing." Best ask Tisiphone because she is neither an atheist nor a misotheist. "There was a Sibyl there. A priestess who speaks with the dead, is what it sounds like. The woman's name started with an 'A'. Really, I am not the best person to ask. Still, I can't help thinking that some of the spirits might owe their current state to the SSLF." Perhaps the CAG can see where he's going with this.

"All right," Cidra says simply to the first. Rational or not, it's an irrationality she can understand. The part of the Sibyl has her deeply intrigued. "I shall talk with them on this." And an askance look at Trask. Blue eyes very narrow. And suddenly filled with unease. A very different sort than when she was speaking of lost souls. "The spirits have different concerns than our earthly forms, Kal. They are beyond our struggles now. And off to ones I shall not even claim to understand. If you think to make them work *for* us, you are mistaken. And you think to trifle with something very dangerous. Very sacred."

"I'm not talking about coercing 'em. Hells, I'm not even sure that's possible. And if it was, I sure as frak wouldn't try." An independent soul like him subjugating someone else? He'll pass. "Some souls, though, as I understand it, remain stuck if they have unfinished business. Maybe some of them might be willing and able to do something to help another stuck on the shore. Hells, maybe Penny'll help us help her." It's only after he says that does the implication that she's still here — and that he's felt her presence — strike Trask. "Anyway, I have work to do." Which is true, but it really is more an egress into his defensive stance of distraction. "An' I don't doubt you're likewise busy. Lemme know what the deal is with the transmission." He's already returning to the laptop.

"Some are occasionally bound to the mortal worlds, haunted by obligation," Cidra admits. Very still, but those cloudy eyes never waver from Trask. Another long pause. "There is no harm in trying, so long as the spirits are given their due respect." And she admits, "This Sibyl and her coterie of spirits are a thing I would not mind seeing for my own self." Work. Yes. She does have that. A nod to the last. "Clear eyes and steady hands, Kal. I shall see you later."

Sharing Time is officially over. It's nothing personal, really, beyond his own emotional damage and subsequent guardedness. A simple nod about respect for the dead. Another for the Sibyl. "Just say when." Odds are that cave hasn't changed coordinates. As for the parting remark, the man genuinely replies, "Same to you, Cid." Beat… Two… Three… "And thanks." Sincere as it is, it also is the last Trask is willing to discuss matters of loss and lost souls. Such thoughts are dismissed for the clackity-clackity of the keyboard.

Cidra stays in the Raptor for another cigarette, and to nurse her own guarded emotional damage. She'll be awhile.

Kal does not seem to mind. As far as he is concerned, she is no longer there.

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