PHD #122: For The Sake of Knowing
For The Sake of Knowing
Summary: Cadmus and Tisiphone discuss the previous night's interrogation.
Date: 2041.06.28
Related Logs: The Blood Of Us All.
Cadmus Tisiphone 

The migratory patterns of the Southern Forested Sagittaran during moody season are a fairly predictable thing. There's the gym, whose punching bags have been seeing an extra dose of abuse; there's the chapel, whose altar has seen a lot of burnt offerings; and there's the Observation Deck, whose frontmost couches are where she comes to roost.

None of these three are particularly useful for the hasty passing-along of messages, and so it's a bit belatedly that a rather rumpled-looking Tisiphone makes it to the Security Hub. She folds her arms on the edge of the counter and waits like a good little demi-LT until someone looks her way. "Hey, En-uh. Junior Lieutenant Apostolos." She'll stop stumbling over her rank someday, won't she? "Lance Corporal Maragos sent for me."

The Security Hub, known colloquially as the "puzzle palace", is a busy place; consequently, the Marine on guard duty simply points toward the back of the room. As usual, Cadmus is seated at his desk. Unlike normal, his desk is clean of papers, dossiers, documents, and other assorted policework. This is, in fact, a first. The only things decorating it at the moment is a small box and a manilla folder. The box contains the Marine Expeditionary Medal, the Colonial Marines Corps Medal, and the honorary AIRBORNE tabs. The folder, in turn, seems to contain information on certain crimes and one John Borenstein.

Cadmus glances up from the papers, and points wordlessly to the chair across from him. He doesn't speak until you're seated, but once he does, his tone is quiet and even. "I know a lot of police who are of the opinion that a mess of evidence indicates a set-up. That any time you're certain, without a doubt, you're in dangerous territory. They'd be crapping their pants over Borenstein," he says. "But me? I have a mess of evidence, and it wasn't in the open. I had to look past double-blinds at every turn to get a scrap. And now he wants me to believe it's a triple blind? That's horseshit, Tis."

Back of the room with you, pilot — and so Tisiphone goes, slouching her hands down into her pockets with the clicketyclack of jostled prayer-beads. "Hey, can I smoke in here?" is her greeting, upon stepping into the office. She's already digging out her pack of smokes, though she doesn't light up. Down into the seat she drops, then slouches, legs sprawled out in front of her. Ladylike, wot? "So a timer on the bomb so he didn't hurt Snag with it. And Shiv's bird because he's high enough up it'd throw up a shitstorm, not to mention fragging a bunch of launch tubes." She looks down at the rumpled back, tossing it in her hands a few times. "All that other evidence, though, he wasn't having /any/ of it. I don't get it, either." A little shrug; she's a pilot, not an MP.

"Yeah, knock yourself out. If we couldn't smoke in the hub, I don't think we'd ever get any work done," Cadmus says. He has no ashtray on his own desk, but he wheels off to the left to borrow Panos's ashtray; this earns him a muttered, 'Ask, dickhead' from Jason. Cadmus only blows a kiss in response. Dropping the ashtray down on your side of the desk, he taps on the dossier a number of times: "Right. Even after I got him to take a swing at me, he wasn't having any of it. And that's pretty frakked, you know? We have his signature - and it matches his handwriting - on requisition orders for fiber optics. We have his codes accessing the hatches where he hooked the lines into our video feeds. We have his fingerprints on a missile shell he had no clearance to access, whose warhead blew that Raptor. I can buy a faked access code or two. But fingerprints? Signatures? No way. Unless the skinjobs can change shape at will, a fingerprint is a freakin' fingerprint, and a signature is a signature."

"Your boyfriend's bitchy today," Tisiphone grin-mutters against her cigarette, head tipped forward to light up. The first drag is pulled down deep into her lungs and blown out toward the ceiling after several seconds. She'd look relaxed if it wasn't for the troubled frown. "Change shape?" she finally says, glancing through her cigarette smoke to Cadmus. "No, that's-" A shake of her head. Some things she's not yet willing to accept. Seven impossible things before breakfast are fine, but that eighth is /right/ the hell out. "One of them had a broken leg. I shot one in the neck. Must have been a dozen of them in that tower that got gunned down. They said they're Cylons, but if they are, they're… constrained? by the body they're in. Died just as easy as the rest of us do."

Eyes narrowed, Jason's only response is to shoot Tisiphone the bird. Juvenile behavior: the hallmark of CMC Marines everywhere. Cadmus only chuckles. After a moment, he flips through the dossier pages, shaking his head slowly as glances at the pertinent details for perhaps the twentieth time. "They must be," he says, exhaling between gritted teeth. "But they've built these bodies, right? To spy on us, to be saboteurs. There's no reason to make a node from meat if you don't have to. So first off, we have to assume a basic physical won't turn up anything. You'd make a shit spy if a metal detector went off every time you passed it, or if you were missing basic parts. So always-on, long-range Wireless is out, neh? No hivemind. The transmitter would be too noticable. Maybe short-range, but nothing big." Cadmus pauses, rolling this idea around in his head. After a moment, he ponders: "If they can make the body, they must make the minds, too, right? Without the long-range Wireless, they'd have to be autonomous. Do you think maybe they could hide programming from their own agents? You can't reveal information you don't know, after all… Their true orders could unlock in certain circumstances, but otherwise remain hidden. Like the old spy movies, you know. The Picon Assignment, or First Man Out of Saggitaron."

Being the mature individual she is, Tisiphone replies to the upthrust finger with a couple kissy-noises thrown back. Then, their juvenile dance completed satisfactorily, her attention turns back to Cadmus. "We've all seen what you can do with hypnosis. Stupid Human Tricks on the television, yeah? If they're… /crafting/ bodies-" There's some deep unease in her expression, as she says that, and she shifts in her chair. "-then why not craft them so they're even more susceptible? Maybe they've found a way to make electronic components out of flesh and bone. You know…" She stalls, dragging on her cigarette. "They've told you about Rutger Tower, yeah? What we found in there?" The nebulous They(tm), responsible for all things beyond mere pilot's ken.

"Nope. I know there was some generically 'awful shit' there involving experiments, but that's all Raine would say. I hope to hell they can't make electronic parts out of meat, or I'll throw the towel in right here. We can't compete with that," Cadmus notes. He swirls some of his remaining coffee around in his mug, eyeing the rogue grits that slosh against the side. "The thing is, I *want* to believe John that he didn't do anything else. Because damn me, he's convincing…" he murmurs, looking up at Tis from the rim of his mug. "But all the evidence in the world is against him on it. He says it was hard for him to wire up that G4 charge, but that's bullshit. It was as pro a job as I've seen, but he seemed to think it was difficult. And there has to be *some* reason Snag choked on her own backwash. Maybe he's just the hands, and the brains are still giving the orders…"

"We found an abomination trapped in a library. Pinned under a shelf. Sagittaran accent, headscarf. Called itself Yazdah — um. Means 'eleven'. Didn't realize it was one at first, or we wouldn't have helped it, right? By the time it came out, it had pet Centurions surrounding us. captive audience for the rest of its little spiel. Told us there was something going down in the tower. People to rescue. Kept insisting it wanted to help us, that its brothers and sisters were making a mistake." Tisiphone shrugs restlessly and slouches down further in the seat, dragging hard on her cigarette. "So we end up going. Only this Eleven's set it up so we can eavesdrop on it talking with its sister, Five, and brother, Twelve. Twelve's the one that, uh. My old squadmate." She squirms around that, pressing onward. "They argued about the research going on in the tower. Whether it was useful or not. Eleven had some sort of paper, a mandate or something, that overruled them. The three of them left together in a Heavy Raider, and some of the other Fives and Twelves stayed behind to 'terminate the project', they said. That's when we came in firing."

Shifting in his chair, Cadmus looks distinctly uncomfortable at this revelation - and given how hard he works to be totally unflappable, that's a pretty hefty feat. After a moment's silence, he murmurs, "Well, I guess they *do* have Wireless of some kind, then, if they pulled in the Centurions…" He pulls his hands together, fingers knitting into a ball, and presses his mouth to them as he thinks. "That's pretty frakking curious, Tis. Staged for your benefit, sure, but did the other human models know about it?" he murmurs. He exhales heavily after a moment: "I don't have enough information to judge at this point. But I could certainly see factionalism arising within any society, machine or not. It's not like there isn't evidence of some infighting - or at least disagreement - during the First Cylon War."

"Staged by Eleven, absolutely," Tisiphone agrees, "it had to be, but- I think it wanted us to see it as a show of faith. Good intentions on its part. The other two- no. I don't think they realized. The- others ones all came out firing. They weren't interested in talking at all. I don't know how it summoned those Centurions, but they came when it called, and left when it wanted them to. They were outside the library, we were inside." She shifts again in her chair, sitting up and hooking her heels at the edge of her seat, knees drawn up to her chest. "The tower was full of- experiments. Autopsies? I- frak, I don't even know what to call it. Corpses hooked up to wires and tubes and- brains pulled out and put into separate machines, bins full of livers, bodies on tables with all their insides hollowed out…" She trails off not so much because she's out of things to say, but because she's out of things she /wants/ to say. Flat, shuttered eyes and a weak twist at one corner of her mouth is her only expression.

Still staring over the top of his knuckles at Tisiphone, Cadmus remains silent for a long, nervous moment. Despite his unease, he's stopped fidgeting. Instead, his eyes flicker over the pilot, the dossier on the desk, and the surrounding room. After a time, they lock back on Apostolos, and his entire body seems to settle, in a very slow fashion. "I think," he ventures, words blown over his knuckles so quietly that only the closest ears could hear, "That they may explain why Borenstein needed us to run away, if he's a Cylon. If they're experimenting, they may need a control group; a strain of 'untainted' humans. Ones that are still in the 'wild', so that they can compare and contrast to the ones they've captured. It doesn't make complete sense, no. But it explains, perhaps, why we weren't summarily killed."

Tisiphone frowns hard at the ragged ribbons of smoke curling up from her cigarette for a minute or more before she turns the pale stare back on Cadmus. "There were corpses everywhere, you know?" she says. "In Kythera. Except near that tower. Picked clean. And- the survivors we found in the stripclub, they said any time people were caught by a Centurion patrol, they weren't killed. They were marched off to that tower." She hauls in a deep breath that catches at the end, holds it for a slow count of three, sighs it out again. "We swept floor after floor of it. All the way to the top- then second to last from the top, a floor of hydroponics. Then at the very top, prison cells, where we found the last of the tower's survivors."

Cadmus leans back in his chair, swearing quietly under his breath; the chair responds with creaks and groans of its own. "I'm not happy about any of this. Unless something incredibly unlikely is going on, we have at least one more infiltrator onboard the Cerberus, possibly more with the refugees from Leonis. And we're up shit creek when it comes to smoking them out," he grumps. "What's more, I'm not about to let Abbot get spaced after a solitary videotape is all we've got to condemn him, but the success of the HALO mission proves our extra secrecy in CIC *worked*, so there is - or was - still a definite leak there. This ship has too many variables for me to count odds at this point."

"I know what I saw on that videotape." Tisiphone's voice is matter-of-fact, not heated. "Frak, I wish Ashwood had made it." Her mouth purses, and she ashes her cigarette off the edge of her chair a few time more than is strictly necessary. "His girl made it, though. Marty. She might know some of the details." She shifts again, pulling her knees in tighter to her chest, arms dangling out off her knees, cigarette rolled back and forth in her fingers. "If what Eleven said is the truth-" A pointed glance, here; she realizes what risk there is in that. "-there's twelve of them. Twelve brothers and sisters. At least some of them are- religious fanatics. Five called us heretics. Made references to God. Singular."

"Huh." Cadmus sounds less than impressed, and looks vaguely like he might have swallowed a bug. Pursing his lips, he again lifts a hand to his mouth as he mulls this over. "I think we should accept what this Yazdah has told us, at least in terms of simple truths. A lie would avail her little, I think. But that raises an interesting series of questions about the nature of faith in a synthetic society, as well as begging the question: are wirelessly linked entities predisposed to find divinity in homogeneity?" Cadmus pauses here, and blinks a few times. Apparently he has even surprised *himself* with this academic question. He suddenly starts to speak again, however, waving a hand as if to chase the earlier question away: "It certainly explains the bombings of holy sites in the Colonies, however. And people laughed at me for suggesting it was a hate crime, or an act of fear or rage."

"/I/ didn't laugh at you," Tisiphone points out, a touch wryly. "We talked about it in the laundry room, one time. Lieutenant Oberlin was there." As the spook so often is, for good or bad, when she tells it like she really thinks it is. "Gemenon was hit nearly as hard as Picon, wasn't it? The- Eleven said something about lost knowledge on Gemenon. Because the Fives destroyed it. What if this is a holy war? The Lieutenant and I talked about it, once. Down on Leonis. If- maybe that's what this is."

Still looking off into the distance, Cadmus's eyes eventually snap back to the pilot in front of him. "I could believe it. It's a reasonable explanation for sudden and unprovoked genocide," he admits, shifting in his chair. He folds his arms on the desktop, dropping them away from his face at long last. "This is all such an insane mess. It doesn't help that I feel like I'm the last line of defense, either. We need more info, basically. "

"I figured I might be able to get him to talk. Borenstein. Just… knowing more stuff than you guys did. Hearing it all on Leonis, you know? I thought maybe it- thought maybe he'd…" The more of her sentence Tisiphone tries to work through, the lamer and lamer it seems to sound to her, until she trails off with a weak shrug. "I don't know what the frak I was thinking, that I'd be better at it than you two. It didn't work at all. I-" She drags her teeth against her bottom lip, hesitant, before confessing, "I really wanted him to talk. Not even- to- help you guys, really. I mean, great if it does, but- I wanted to know more about what they're thinking. Why they're doing this."

Cadmus actually just starts laughing; he slaps the surface of his desk once or twice, bends over, and cackles into his own lap for a measure of time beofre regaining his composure. "Gods," he says, wiping some tears from his eyes, "You sound so damned sheepish. Why the hell do you think I wanted you there? That's exactly what I wanted, too. Expected, even! You heard about Yazdah and the human nodes, and all of that, and… I just wanted some answers, too, for the sake of *knowing*." He shrugs, lips turning up in a wry kind of a grin. "But sometimes they don't crack. Sometimes they don't have anything to crack *about*. It's just the game, you know? We do our best, and we win or we lose. We lose too often, people die. So we try not to put too many points in people. Or at least I don't. I put points in men with guns, signed crosschecks, proceedure. Because they're a good defense."

"Yeah, yeah," Tisiphone mutters, mouth twisted up at one corner to show a few slivers of teeth. "News bulletin — I don't always know everything. News addendum — sometimes I don't even /fake/ knowing everything. Don't tell anyone. I'll lose my wings if the secret's out." Cue one (1) smoky snort. "Glad it worked, then. I sure as shit felt entirely out of my element, in there. Reminds me, though." Her bootsoles drum the edge of her chair for a few moments before she continues. "Your lessons. The, uh. The Moat Thing. It really works. We had a couple gunfights indoors, and- it really helped."

"That's the idea. Don't let anyone know it, but the cops don't actually *want* to arrest anyone. We'd rather be playing soldier and polishing our boots. Frak, I didn't even wanna hit Borenstein, but I needed to push him until he lost it, so I could see where he'd go and what he'd do," Cadmus 'admits'. He snorts a little, kicking his own feet up on the desk's surface. Pinching the bridge of his nose, he says, "As long as I can help all of you stay alive and kicking, I'm doing my job."

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