PHD #436: Debatable Differences
Debatable Differences
Summary: Mark and Leyla debate Cylons and humanity over dinner.
Date: 08 May 2042 AE
Related Logs: Not really.
Leyla Mark 
Behind the two hangar decks, the Cerberus' Galley is the largest room on the ship. Nearly half the size of a football field, the eating area is made up of long lines of stainless steel tables that can be folded up and placed against the wall for larger events. Individual seats are the standard military issue, boring and grey with lowest-bidder padding. The line for food stretches across one of the shorter sides of the room while the kitchen behind works nearly twenty-four hours a day to produce either full meals or overnight snacks and coffee for the late shifts.
Post-Holocaust Day: #436

Back to full duty, Mark seems to have gotten away with the downtime. Maybe Command didn't notice. Maybe he had people cover for him. Whatever the case, he's back to his normal self. Grabbing an early dinner, he's already run through the line and found himself a chair while he gobbles down the noodles and white sauce. Ever-present, the coffee lingers by his tray.

"Is this normal, do you think?" The easy question from the seat across the table from the ChEng. Leyla's settled in, her own plate of dinner set out in front of her, though, for the moment, it seems less interesting than the spoon currently hanging suspended from where it's been stuck inside of a cup of gelatin. The cup of gelatin being held in hand upside down and off of the table. Defying gravity is an amazing thing.

Mark watches the display with an easy smile and pursed lips. Gravity. Lawlz. He Waves his fork at the show and lifts his chin. "Nine and a half years of school and I can tell you that gelatin defies all laws of physics. I don't trust anything I can't define. Solid? Liquid? Damn that stuff weirds me out." He grins and dives his utensil back into the pile of noodle. "Kinda like this stuff with Gemenon. I can't define what the hell is going on. I don't know if I can trust it. You read that little pamphlet that the Deck Specialist wrote up?"

The gelatin cup's turned right side up and set out on the table, before Leyla finally turns to dinner, not much different from what Mark's eating across the way, "Well, I'm of two minds on this. The first, is that it seems ridiculous to believe that consciousness is somehow flawed because it is artificial. After all, we created cylon artificial intelligence. You cannot create something that can think for itself, and then be surprised when it does. I remember this conversation I had with Marko, I think it was, once. We look down on the cylons because they are a 'people' if you want to use the broad sense, that we created. And yet we have no record of how we, ourselves, came to be created. I think most religious people would say that human beings were created by the gods. How is that any different from what we did with the cylons?"

Mark nods slowly along, listening as he chews. "Mm." Its the only sound he makes while he ponders over it. "Well religion tells believers that the Gods created us. No doubt about that. There's multiple points of the scrolls that run parallel to our own experiences, believe it or not. The apocalyptic disaster, the Exodus, the search through the stars for a new home.. Some might say the third is debatable but the point is still there: We're going to have to find a new home." He takes another bite, waving his fork gingerly as he chews and swallows. "If the Cylons view us as Gods, which is possible, then the whole point is valid. It also poses the question about who our creators were and whether or not they were as mythologically powerful as some of us believe. But I'm with you about AI. I don't trust any of it. Its helpful, but learning computers were a bad idea from day one. Especially since they would be taking their lessons from a species as violent as humans."

"Which is another point I've always thought we should consider. We know from our own experiences, on Tauron, on Sagittaron, on other worlds during the wars before the Unification, that humans do not like to feel as though they're enslaved to other people. Hell, there was still dissension on my world and on Sagittaron before the cylons came. Slaves rebel against their masters. That is a simple fact of nature. People want to assert their autonomy. We created a slave race. Why are we surprised that they rebelled against us? We planted the seeds of our own destruction when we created them. That being said," Leyla continues, working at an even pace through her pasta, "We have also seen that people can come to agreement and change how they perceive others. Enemies can become friends. That is why we had a unification. So why is it so impossible to believe that there might be cylons who have evolved and have a different opinion of their race and of humans and of their place in the world than the rest? Do I truly believe that they want only peace and love and understanding? I don't know, but I think it's short-sighted and narrow-minded to believe 'once an abomination, always an abomination'."

"Still, all good points. I'm inclined to agree with it. Creating a slave of anything sentient is a good way to cause strife and rebellion. When you restrain rights, eventually those straps and bonds will be forced apart or broken by some means. The only way to truly subjugate is to destroy in completion." Mark pushes the pasta around, eyeballing it with disinterest. "As far as friends?" He shakes his head. "I just don't know. Like, I lost a lot less than most. I lost a fat bank account and a great penthouse - which I was never at. But even then, I'm angry at what they did to our race and culture. Our civilization is in ruins for it. But then again, I've seen things with my own eyes that I absolutely cannot explain. Horrible betrayal is how I ended up in Rutger Tower. But its hard to deny some of the facts floating around on the other end."

"You feel no different than most taurians feel about what the other colonies did by forcing us to unify. We lost much of our culture, our language, our heritage. We've fought hard to maintain what we can, but it was always a losing battle. The only difference between what the colonies did to us and what the cylons did to the colonies is the scale. But I think if the colonies had had the same amount of manpower that the cylons did, they would have destroyed those who fought against unification just as soundly. But perhaps more than most, I have ways in which my culture was not destroyed. I have lost my family, yes. But I carry their stories on me, inside of me. Just because something is no longer 'alive' doesn't mean that it ceases to exist. It's in your head and your heart and your memories. Heritage is not a planet or a place or an object. It goes on regardless of those things. It's never a good thing to value any object, living or dead, too much." A smile, half-formed, "Though I'm sure I'm being completely hypocritical, in your case."

"Didn't think of it that way. But my line of thinking is just general understanding of historical repression. I can honestly say I've never had to deal with it. Nor has anyone in my heritage or past. Charmed life and all that la dee da." Except for being dirt poor growing up. Mark doesn't count that, though, obviously. "I'm not so convinced the Colonial government would have resorted to scorched terra, though. See, the theory behind war is that its conducted for one of two reasons: To take something away or to engage in retaliation. Neither of those are conducive to wiping out everyone. Especially a people like the Taurian, who have as much fire in their spirits as you do." The ChEng winks to his tahu.

"Isn't that what Unification was trying to do, from the points of view of…say, the Sagittarons? Take away their independence, their right to live as they pleased without having to answer to anyone else? Isn't that why the SSLF was still such a problem that we had Marines boots down on the colony up to and including Warday? That's also why they were still fighting us after we went back to their colony to try to 'rescue' them from a dying world. They were willing to die, and take as many of us with them as they could, if it meant they could die in a manner of their own choosing. Might made right in the colonies, it always did. We just like to believe that we were better than that, but we weren't. Now people need an enemy. They need someone to blame. They're not ready to accept that the comfortable pigeonholes they've put people in, including the cylons, might be incorrect. And while I thank you for the compliment, dear husband, I have no doubt that were it not for the fact that the taurians decided it was better to live under the rule of the colonies than die out to the last man, woman and child, if they had not made that decision, the colonies that fought us for unification would have gladly destroyed us."

"Quite. The Sag's saw the revocation of their independence. Make nice all you want on the other end, but that's exactly what the Unification War was all about. Prepackage in neat, tidy presentations in childrens' history classes, but that's how it goes. All claims of righteousness to the victor. To the loser goes, deserved or not, imposed shame. Shortsighted jerks like to call you all names going back to that War." Mark smirks, rolling his eyes. "Whatever. Now I don't necessarily believe we are better than complete annihilation, but I also believe that we wouldn't engage in a nuclear genocide without more than a cursory 'you broke a truce' line like the Cylons have given us." He pushes the pasta around his plate a little more, watching it. He's obviously not front line combat material. "Yeah I started seeing some of that when we got to Sagg initially. The more I've had to deal with the work some of the apparent Cylons have done, the more I'm convinced there could potentially be allies out there."

"What other reason could they have given? 'You wanted to keep us enslaved?' We wouldn't have cared. We made them to be slaves. In our minds, intelligence or not, machines were meant to serve man. That was why we fought so hard during the first cylon wars. We showed the cylons even then, that we would never accord them the same right we accord other humans, simply because they were machine and not living flesh. What other choice did they have? Even now, that they have found ways to mimic living tissue, we still consider them lesser than humans. Abominations, as Toast likes to call them. Damned for the audacity of wanting to be able to live as humans do. As if being human or having a human body were some great prize they would forever be unworthy of." Leyla reaches out, light, gentle fingers reaching to trace the line of Mark's jaw, to whisper across his mouth, "Who among us, would not covet the ability to touch, and taste and feel, smell and savour the world, if it were barred from us. We gave them a taste of what it meant to be human when we gave them life, and metal bodies. Is it so strange to think that they would crave the chance to enjoy everything that we human beings can? We showed them how glorious it was to be alive and human. And they waned that for themselves." Leyla moves to reclaim her hand. "I agree, it isn't so far-fetched to believe that we could have allies among them. What their ultimate aim is, remains to be seen."

"One does not dispute well-known facts, my dear," Mark allows with a grin. "Though I've heard Toast use that term before. It kinda bothers me because she seems to say it with such firm knowledge of that term. It doesn't seem to leave any room for any other possibility. 'Abominations' are not what I would call them. Like you said, they are a race of slaves. They took on AI and became sentient. They truly are another race. Maybe they're machines, but that's what they are. I can't see these humanoid models any more an abomination than stem cell research. Growing organs? Why not?" Mark shrugs and his smile turns up at her touch to his face. "I sure as hell coveted you when we met. Gorgeous woman like you are? Hell, I'd bet its our women alone that was enough for them to be like 'Oh man, we need us some nerve endings! Giggity!'." He laughs and waves his fork lightly at her. "Ultimate aims concern me. Though the missiles I worked on Marko with? The deck Crewman who was accused of being a Cylon? Her work. There's a lot of evidence in those missiles that go both ways but I'm confident those were built to aid humanity - her status as a human or not is just not important."

"Agreed. There is no room, with the word abomination. But how do we know what we were once. There are twelve models, so they say. Well, if you are building an organic race, you have to start somewhere. They are a race of twins, but they are only a few decades old. Think how diverse they might become as the years pass. Look at humans, we have twins, triplets and other multiple births. What if we once began as they did, years and years past, when the gods, as some people believe, created us?" Leyla shrugs, returning to her meal, working her way through it in quick forkfuls, "I don't know about that. I've met some really ugly women. And I don't think the fact that they had the right parts makes up for that." A sip of water, before she continues, "But will we ever find out what their ultimate aim is? Would we trust it to be the truth if we heard it? There are too many who refuse to believe that the cylons could be anything but our enemy."

"Right, which is that fundamental question about where we came from. Did our distance ancestors arrive on Kobol from somewhere else? Did our Gods create us? If so, why? As slaves? For us to worship them? These are questions that in religion are as old as the scrolls. And they're good ones. But diversity?" The man shrugs, slowing as he gets towards the end of his food. "Maybe. But that's assuming they could have children. If they can, then you're looking at biodiversity on a larger scale. Also poses a question of what the difference is between them and us at that point? They're molecularly identical to us. We just built their metal cousins. If they can laugh, cry, create, and hate.. and they're individualistic? Like this guy McQueen. Dude lives on the ship for a year after warday. Fights, flies, whatever. He stops becoming a person because he's also a Cylon?" He quirks a brow, wording all that as if it were philosophical. Maybe that's what Mark is going for. "I think we'll find out their aim eventually. In this case its going to be actions speaking rather than I think anything they could tell us."

"But we don't trust their actions. Salt died on Warday to defend us. And people hate him because he was a Cylon. McQueen spent the last year of his life fighting for us, and we hate him now because he's a cylon. Coll, if she was a cylon, worked hard to build us a weapon to defend ourselves and we hate her. What about the Rejn-One who gave his life to try to save us from the Areion, or the elevens who helped us as well? All of them tried to help us, and that hasn't changed the minds of the general population on their purposes and the value of the cylons as potential allies. And if the gods did create us, and we were meant to worship them, well, we have certainly succeeded there. Look at the problems we have with monotheism. The more religious among us consider not wanting to believe in the gods as heresy. And the ability to bear children is but another step on the journey to being human, isn't it. Why would they not explore that? bridging the gap between cloning and breeding. That's the final step, isn't it? They can look like us, feel like us think like us. All they're missing, at least as far as we know, is the ability to reproduce like us." There's a moment, as Leyla considers, "If we do return to Gemenon, which I think is inevitable, I will probably be one of the pilots who goes down there." Not entirely a happy-happy-joy-joy prospect.

"Exactly. At what point do these individuals lose their humanity? We assign trust, respect, and friendship to these personalities. They are, for all intents and purposes, human beings to us. If they have done nothing to attack us, then why should they lose their status? Because.. what? They can't have kids? Is that what it boils down to?" Mark settles the fork on the plate and picks up his coffee. "They committed a genocide. Lots of them are happy about that. Fine. Kill 'em. But you do not attack a foe and assume all of their population are hostile. Just as we may have sympathizers aboard our fleet, they likely have them among them. Its a human trait. They want human form and to mimic our being? There you go. Once you get past that, we hate these things on a blanket assumption because..?" He leaves the question open, shaking his head. "I'm sure they've tried. Or are trying. If they can't do it already." The last gets him to settle back in his chair and regard his wife. "Really." A sip of his coffee, eyes still on her. "How do you feel about that? How do you think I should react to that?" Carefully neutral.

"I'm not saying that it's right, Mark. Just that it's true. All of those cylons, except perhaps in the case of the Elevens, were people we cared for, trusted, believed in, until they turned out to be cylons, real or suspected. And all of a sudden, the people who cared for a trusted them felt betrayed and now that love and trust has been turned to anger and hate. There are too many people in the fleet that refuse to see this in any way but black and white. They might as well accuse me of being a cylon if I don't bear you a child. If that's the only thing that separates us from them. If that's what makes us human, now that there isn't any way to tell us apart from them." A quirk,. not quite a smile. "We hate them because they committed genocide, a fact I find slightly humorous is a way, since most of us, before warday, probably couldn't have cared less about the lives of people we didn't know. I am a perfect example of that. Before all of this, I had been to two colonies. Tauron and Picon. And I had no real desire to go to any of the others. So on a personal level, was it really a loss to me, those who I did not know on other worlds? Honestly, no. If warday had not come, those people would have lived and died and their stories passed on without my knowledge or even an ounce of my care. It seems to me, that now, people want to 'care' because it makes us different than the cylons, it makes us seem better than them. How often did you watch reports of the people dying on canceron or sagittaron or any of the other worlds and it was just a footnote in your life. But now, all of a sudden, we care about the faceless dead." A lift of her shoulders, "I will go where I am ordered to go. And I don't know how you should react, I just thought it might be wise to give you some advanced warning."

Mark smirks at her being accused of being a Cylon because she hasn't born a child of his. "Exactly that, Ley. See, this is why I love you so much. Damned smart and I love your points." He leans back forward, sipping at the mug. "I've thought the same thing, though on not quite concise a level as you've reduced it to. Honestly, you are exactly right. Hell, I never even met my neighbors. I didn't care about them let alone the other billions. What -does- concern me is the destruction of a culture and the possible extinction of the human race. That does chafe my ass. But like I said, I don't feel I've lost as much as most have." To her last, he nods his head and looks to the mug. "Look babe. I know what you do is dangerous. Much more than turning wrenches. I knew that coming in. But I also know you're the smartest, most talented Raptor pilot in the fleet. I need to know two things: One, that you'll do whatever it takes to come home. Two, let me know before you go so I can give you another quick toss in the sack for good luck." He's not shy about the wink that follows.

"I think you love me because I put out, which is unashamedly why I put up with you. Most women don't want to spend much time around men who are smarter than they are, better looking and higher on the food chain. I, however, am willing to forgo all of those points in favour of the sheer size of your attributes and the manner in which you use them." Hey! She married the man, she can say what she likes now. It's too late now, Mr. Makinen, no takebacks. "Your inner tree-hugger is revealed at last. You weep for a culture that, in many ways, was never yours. But perhaps being born so close to the end of the first war put things in a different perspective for you. It was always something to study and read about in books for me. A logical puzzle, not a visceral one." A snort of laughter, as she hears her husband's conditions, but it quickly fades, replaced t by an echo of the expression she had on her face all those days ago aboard the Areion, "I will always come back to you, Mark, no matter what's standing in my way. And you will get as much forewarning as I can manage."

Mark just gives her an 'Orly?' look the whole time, smirking back at her with the coffee mug held just above the table. "I ..see." He chuckles. "So you love me simply because I make you happy. That would have worked and I could have taken it the same way. But that, my love, also works. I think I'm okay with being used like that. Just, you know, make sure to call me once in awhile so I can fool myself into thinking there's something else going on other than awesome sex." Mark grins. "Oh, psh! It was never mine to begin with? Dang right it wasn't. But that doesn't mean I can't wish it hadn't been wiped. Hell, culture gave us arena rock bands, tight jeans, some fantastic drugs, and great video games. Not to mention some cool movies. I didn't own that culture, but I miss it. My experience with it just post-war?" He shakes his head. "Nah. I didn't have money. Barely had a home. My culture was rubble piles and not trying to impale on rebar during neighborhood games of tag."

"Oh, the little fictions men need to keep them going." An airy tone and a wave of her hand. But it's no less a lie for all of it. He's a part of her, soul deep and no amount of joking or teasing will make it otherwise. "There is no me without you, Mark. Everything that came before was just the prologue before the story." Dinner finished, Leyla sets about cleaning away her side of the table, taking as many of mark's dishes as he's finished with. So much for not being domesticated! "Miss it sure, but you shouldn't be weighed down by it. The lives we had on the colonies, we will never have again. We must be willing to forge a new future for ourselves. Living in the past is only another name for dying in the present."

Mark chuckles at her first remark. "Damned right. Lie to me, baby. Tell me you care." He winks with the mirthful remark. But then she does and he grins. "Same, love. I'm tryin' my best to be someone you deserve. Just hope I'm living up." He whispers a thanks to the empty plate being lifted and smiles inwardly. Aww. "Bah. Yeah, I'm not worried. That's just junk. Its over and gone. I'd rather start a new life, anyway. One with you. I'm not sure you would have liked who I was before all this. But then again.." He rises with her to move with her.

Leyla takes the time to clear the table, to put the dishes to be cleaned, before she turns, settling her hand, ever so gently, on the place where she and he and they now live on his skin, "I only ever wanted you Mark, the good and the bad. The past, who you were, has made you who you are, and I love that too. For better or worse." Serious, quite, but it soon fades, replaced by the impishness that she lets out now and again, "Come on, I've something to show you." A quick turn, and she's off and heading for the hatch.

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