PHD #321: From The Bull to The Twins
From the Bull to the Twins
Summary: Cidra allows a visit of Vandenberg to discuss a theory.
Date: 13 Jan 2042 AE
Related Logs: Anything with Tywyn's Caverns.
Cidra Vandenberg 
CAG's Office
Though it's not much bigger than the average ship supply closet, the office of the commander of Cerberus' air group has as much luxury as one can hope for aboard a battlestar: a hatch that locks. It is dominated by a blocky gray metal desk straight out of standard Navy supply. Behind it is the room's single indulgence, a high-backed rolling chair of almost comfortable-looking brown leather. That one, the CAG probably had to import herself. A few other chairs are shoved against the wall, able to be rolled over should visitors to the lair require one, though those are of the standard not-terribly-comfortable Navy offices variety.
Post-Holocaust Day: #321

After a knock, when the door opens, the Marine standing in the doorway is in her officers blues. She looks like she took some time to starch and appear as professional as possible. There is a small folder in her left hand while the right comes up in a smart salute. "Major Hahn, sir? I'm Lieutenant Vandenberg, Marines. I was wondering if I might be able to take a few minutes of your time?" Her words are crisp, all business.

Cidra is seated at her desk. In her blues as well, though a good deal less pressed than Vandenberg. Two two buttons of her jacket undone, ruddy brown hair down around her shoulders as she reviews some octagonal paperwork. CAP rotation schedules, if one knows about such things. There's a cigarette going in her ashtray, on which she puffs frequently, and a tin cup within easy reach containing tea that's gone luke-warm by now. She's seated in a plain office chair, shelves rather bare of books and knick-knacks. The office was likely in part gutted by the fires that swept the deck in the recent explosion.

She only straightens as much as absolutely required, returning Vandenberg's salute fluidly and offering an "As you were." "Yes, Lieutenant. We are acquainted. You did contact me concerning your HALO training preparations not terribly long ago. What can I do you for? I hope I have already made clear that the Marines shall have all the aerial support they require in Operation Silent Mastiff. I said as much to your Major and Captain."

"Thank you, sir." Vandenberg takes a cautious step into the office but makes no move for a chair while she relaxes some. "I wasn't sure if you recalled, sir. I did not want to throw an assumption out there. And yes, everything has been made clear about Silent Mastiff. This has to do with something else altogether, though." She takes a breath before she begins. "A few days ago I brought something to Captain Vakos that concerns Cylon intentions and operations. I trust her judgment which is why. She recommended that I bring this to you. If the information is a waste of time, I hope it is not a reflection on her and only myself, Major." Vandenberg keeps her eyes on the CAG. "I have orders from Colonel Pewter to pursue this due to the potential implications, though for right now they are not putting much stock in it until confirmation. I was hoping to get your thoughts on it." The Lieutenant removes a piece of paper from the folder and takes a step towards the desk to offer it to Cidra.

"Sit, please. Do you smoke?" Cidra, for her part, continues to take idle puffs on her half-smoked ciggie. As for all that, a shrug. "Many things are a waste of time, Lieutenant. They cost us naught but minutes, of which I have some at present. I shall be judge of that." She takes the paper, skimming it first, then picking it up and reading it in fuller detail. A soft "Ah" and nod. "Yes. The business with the activity of the abominations upon Tauron. I know a little of it, though obviously Sister Karthasi herself knows more. For my part, I find the whole matter deeply unsettling, though I can make little sense of it."

"Yessir, I smoke." Though not as much lately, but that's neither here nor there. Cidra's puffing does not seem to bother her one bit. The Marine remains quiet until the Major finishes and her eyes fall away. There's some subtle frustration there on her face. "The Sister does not think much of this, either. Though she is also not someone I would associate with tactical or strategic acumen." She wets her lips. "I'm trying to tie this together somehow so I can make a stronger argument to Command, sir. So far I have not received much in the way of guidance from the Marines. Is there anyone else that you might suggest I speak with? If the Cylons are intending to continue a migration or travel on someplace else, in any sense, this could be very important to what we are doing."

Cidra reaches into her desk to offer Vandenberg her pack of cigarettes and an old metal lighter. Cheap Picon tobacco. "You misunderstand me some, Lieutenant." A pause to sip of her tea. "It is not that I do not think 'much' of it, as you do put it. I find the Cylons apparent interest in human religion greatly disturbing and I do think it could prove of most importance to whatever plans they do have. The question is what it means, and I do not think we have the wisdom to see that clearly. Cylon religion is a twisted thing, alien, seeped in blasphemy, so our own scholarship cannot provide easy clarity to it. They seem to have an *interest* in some of our sacred traditions, but to what purpose they shall twist them…" She shudders, taking a long drag. "…unless you are an Oracle, that purpose is not easily seen. I, for my part, am not."

There's a quick "Thank you" to Cidra for a smoke, which she takes. It is lit quickly and the lighter returned to the CAG's desk. She takes a quick puff and folds her hands in front of her. "Ah, sorry for the misunderstanding, sir." She nods to what the other woman says. "I believe it is more than an interest. If they are looking for such specific items like the knife and the information that our prisoner had, then that tells us something important. There is no reason the Cylons would have gone to the lengths they had to take hostages unless this was all extremely important. Why not just kill our people anyway? Frankly, Major, I'm astonished we even got our people back at all." She steps forward to ash gently to the tray on Cidra's desk. "However, the most important point I can find is that the Cylons seem to be following the scrolls as some aberration of literal truth. I'm religious, but not a scholar, sir. Especially not an oracle. But they have taken a very keen interest in one of humanities monotheistic cults." She pauses. "We're trying to chase down these leads as best we can and maybe tie it into what we found on Wreath-of-Roses - which already has us concerned due to what was discovered in a notebook. I think there is a link but it is too early for me to say for sure." Because the rest of this she is apparently sure of. There is no mistaking the confidence she has in this information she's presenting.

"Do you wish to know what I think truth, Lieutenant?" Cidra pauses to puff. "I do not think the Cylons know quite what they are searching for. Their razing of the temples and old museum sites on Tauron seemed…haphazard. The act of one who hoped to stumble upon a path rather than one who knew how to clearly walk it. As for monotheism, that follows as logically as any of this. The Cylons are known to practice some brand of monotheism. In our encounters with them they speak often of 'God,' not 'the gods.'" Her distaste for this is obvious. "Are you much familiar with the initial reports we received on the destruction of the colonies? The places targeted by the Cylons in the attacks of near a year past?"

Vandenberg seems like she has a lot to say, but holds back. Its not anger growing, but there is something coming. "I completely agree, sir," Natalie finally breathes. "Which is why during the hostage situation, I challenged the Five. I asked her how her path was working out for her. That response was angry. I don't think it had a clue where it was going. I believe the path they speak of? They might know where they are going now. Or have an idea. What we turned over was important to that, sir." Vandenberg is one of those people that gets excitable when there is an idea going that makes sense to her. She's trying really hard to reign it in at the moment with some measure of success. "I've read the reports, but nothing too detailed, Major."

"Speak freely, Lieutenant," Cidra says. Her own mood is pensive and introspective. These are clearly not new questions for her to consider, even if she's not found the answers. "Perhaps, though we have naught to indicate this one way or another. My own suspicion is that the enemy searches still for whatever it is they seek, and that it is not so simple a matter as one object or scroll. In any case. Among the reports of Colonial destruction there were two things notable. The first, the Cylons left some cities on Caprica - including Delphi - unscathed. Delphi is the center of Caprican religious teachings." 'Caprican' seems to have a less-than-complimentary sound to it, though she holds back obvious disapproval. "Second, all the major holy sites on my Gemenon were targeted both with nuclear and convention strikes, with impunity. Now, Caprica, that can be explained. We know from our last reports of their activity on the planets that they are making use of the cities for…bases? Habitation of their skinjob abominations? Some purpose like these. Gemenon however…" Another drag is taken.

"The last Raptor I sent there encountered evidence of excavations on the surface. Diggings, in the manner of…archaeological sites. Whatever they search for goes beyond Tauron, Lieutenant. I do not dismiss connections, but the picture I think is a larger one."

The Lieutenant listens, taking a few drags of her smoke. She exhales to the roof overhead and makes another soft ash into the tray. When the CAG finishes, Natalie looks to her clasped hands deep in thought. She's only silent a few moments, the Marine standing not unlike she might in prayer. "Gemenon," comes a whispered repeat. Those eyes lift back to Cidra. "We know that the Cylons consider our religion an abomination, sir. Much the same way we consider theirs - though they seem to have a more scathing hatred overall." She takes another pull. "I believe you're right about Delphi, sir. Though it may have been incidental and they may be doing their own research there." A pause, an ash to the tray. "Sir? What if this monotheistic cult, that has ties to Poseiden if I recall correctly," obviously something she will need to doublecheck. "What if they have some ties to Gemenon. I'm aware that there are- or were a number of cults there that were not entirely aligned with what we know." Its implied as known truths. "Do you recall if they only hit targets that were of importance to polytheistic beliefs? Or did they hit all of them?"

"I think it may not have been incidental, indeed, as to Delphi," Cidra agrees. "They one: left a major center of our religion intact. They two: have an obvious interest in sifting through the remains of our faiths. On Tauron, yes, but at large-scale on Gemenon. Do you fnd it odd, Lieutenant, that the Cylons have abandoned all the 'fringe' colonies save Gemenon? And on the others they hold we have seen them performing build-ups of ships, resources. On Gemenon…they dig. I, I find it most odd. There were monotheistic heretics on many worlds, and they took the worship of many of the proper gods as guises. They operated underground, generally. Such things were punished most harshly on my Gemenon. I know little of such blasphemy myself. But I can believe easy they existed in shadow there. There are no holy places to monotheism, at least not those at are known in the traditional faiths. If they exist, they are so far on the fringe our own scholarship has little traces of them, though the Sister might know better than I. Still, I would know better what path the Cylons follow. All we can do it try to see it clear. I am planning with my Captain Quinn a return reconnaissance to Gemenon as soon as we've personnel free for it. We did not get terribly close to the surface in our last run. The place, as I did say, is still held by the Cylons in some odd form. But we suspect there is more to be seen. You spoke of Wreath of Roses? Strangeness there draws toward Gemenon as well, though still I cannot see clear what it means."

That had not occurred to Natalie. "I had assumed their pullback from the less central colonies was something that they had planned and was left to the shadows. But now that you mention it, that does make sense, sir." Vandenberg takes a thoughtful pull on the cigarette. She does not comment on the underground monotheists, though. "Digging. I would assume that they aren't mining, sir? Or do we know? If you need confirmation to either, I did my college work on Mining and Mineral Engineering so I may be able to dismiss mining." Though Gemenon wasn't famous for its rich soil like the Cylons have taken to on Canceron for the Tylium. Home is a focus for anyone when they looked at reports. She stops as she ashes, though, looking to the Major with a quizzical expression. "Wreath of Roses is leading you all to Gemenon, sir? I mentioned it because we have some security concerns about it and I am generally looking at anything related to Cylon operations on Tauron." Or above it.

"They appears to be using 'human' diggers as well as Centurions. Either their skinjobs or…human slaves, perhaps." She tries to voice the idea with a catch in her voice, but cannot quite. "It has not the look of a mining operation. And it does not appear to be concentrated around any mineral sites or deposits. Gemenon was ever a poor world, Lieutenant, with little in the way of heavy industry. They have their pick of far better mineral stores on Canceron, Scorpia…all of the colonies they still possess in force. And yes. Among the items discovered at a house on Wreath of Roses was a set of coordinates, which one of my pilots identified as tracing as a 'map' to Gemenon. It was discovered amongst other things that do appear to have ties to the Cylons."

Vandenberg takes the information on slaves with a dry expression. "So they are excavating on Gemenon at someplace that holds, and this is an assumption, little to no religious import to our faiths?" The Marine turns a bit, appearing as though she may start pacing at any moment. There's another drag of the smoke and the ash to the tray. Her eyes have drifted aimlessly to the wall. All of the information the CAG gives her ends with a snap of her fingers. "That was the missing page from the notebook." She sighs. "Well all the better I suppose. You all would have been able to make better use of it than we could have, sir." She takes a few steps across the office, still keeping her eyes low. "I want to take the leap that those coordinates are evidence of what I was connecting to a Cylon migration, but I'm not sure of that. Unnlessss-" Vandenberg looks back to the CAG. "Sir? What if part of this migration was them leaving the less central colonies as a whole. I mean, that's a leap and a stab in the dark, Major. I know." She takes another drag pensively. "There's a connection here. Between what I found about the Bull and Gemenon? Sir, if I might ask be allowed to know, what are you all looking for on Gemenon? Just general information on what is going on at the dig site?"

"I would have to take another look at the data to say for certain, but at this point it is unclear. We honestly did not get a particularly good overall sweep of the planet's surface due to Cylon presence. Hence why I feel a return and more intensive, riskier look, is necessary," Cidra says. A nod, as to the notebook. "This is why it was given to my Lieutenant for analysis, yes. As to migration, I do suppose that is a possibility. But at this point their pull back to the central colonies appears very much strategic in nature. They hold the central worlds where they have most access to resources and strength to insulate themselves from attacks that eat along their less-defended remote areas of space. And on Gemenon, their presence is not so heavy as it is upon worlds such as Picon and Caprica - which do seem to be serving as true bases of activity. Or even Scorpia and Canceron or Libran. And yes, Lieutenant. We are looking for some clue to what they are up to, and some better look at where they are digging. It is, I do think, a straightforward enough matter. The danger is in pulling it off with Cylon presence still upon that world."

Vandenberg nods once, fingering her cigarette. She can sense the mission coming. "Odd that the Cylons would so consolidate their positions along the central colonies but leave Gemenon, as you're saying sir, more lightly defended, sir." A beat. "Especially since it leaves them exposed. Especially at a site that I would guess is important to them." The Lieutenant takes another drag and taps the ashes off into the tray once more. "Alright, sir. It sounds like I need to try and find some kind of solid connection from what I've been looking at to Gemenon. There has to be something there that I'm missing. I'll talk to the Sister some more and see if I can't dig it out." She takes a long breath. "Would it be possible for the results of the recon to be passed along to me, sir?"

"You would guess, Lieutenant. And I would guess. But it is all a matter of guesses," Cidra says. "I am a woman of the Faiths, but I work with my feet in the concrete world. I do caution, the Bull is a symbol quite commonly referenced in the Faiths and associated with several of the Lords. And, like many symbols, its meaning can change based on context, what other symbols it surrounds itself with, and many other matters. The gods speak to us in many ways, but they rarely speak clearly. As for the results, there shall be a proper after-action report completed by my personnel. Those are available through the usual channels. If there is information redacted from it I shall see about getting you cleared for it, though in that you ask me to answer a question based on information I do not yet have."

"Aye, sir." Ain't that the truth. Lots of guess, very little hard information. "I'll consult more with the Sister about the Bulls as well. And I appreciate the time, sir. I'll take your leave if there is nothing you require of me, Major?" Vandenberg stubs the cigarette out into the tray. "Oh, one more thing, sir: If you all think you need boots on the ground on Gemenon, we stand ready." Freeing slaves from the Cylon? That is a worthy mission.

"At the moment, Gemenon is controlled by Cylons, many guesses and little useful information. I shall not think ahead of myself. Answers are what is needed. But I do appreciate the sentiment, Lieutenant, for true. No, nothing further. Good hunting, though I do caution you against hoping for concrete answers. There may be few upon this matter given what we have now." Cidra takes another sip fo her tea. Long gone cold, but she manages to gulp it without grimacing.

"I've read enough ARR's to know that nothing about this war is concrete except that its being waged. All I am hoping for is information that will help crush their bullethead skulls, sir." Vandenberg is adamant about that. She straightens and lifts a sharp salute. "Watch your corners, Major." Assuming the salute is replied to, she'll turn in place and head for the door.

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