PHD #143: Guest-Gifts
Summary: Sister Karthasi (guest starring Specialist Tyr Bannik) pays the Cylon prisoner a little visit. The discussion that ensues involves matters both metaphysical and very, very real.
Date: 19 Jul 2041 AE
Related Logs: Everything Cylon-related. Maybe everything else, too.
Karthasi Bannik Tucana NPC 
The makeshift solitary brig!
This is a TP room - description given in set.
Post-Holocaust Day: #143

Ever since the Cylon Prisoner was moved from the main brig, to this room, she has remained, docile for the most part. A pair of MP's stand guard outside the sliding glass bulletproof door of the secure chamber standing a silent vigil over the the passageway that grants access to the prisoner. It consists of a single-cell 'room' with pristine white walls and dull metal deck floor. Inside, the barest amenities are present. A single cot, a toilet, a large decanter of water and a plain unmarked book lifted from Cerberus library are all that graces the cell besides the prisoner herself.

She is wearing a white hospital gown, her pale features not much darker than its ivory fabric, and to be honest, they are probably more pale than normal, accented by the dark nest of her hair which hangs somewhat in matted dissary. Other than this and the dark circles under her eyes, she appears stable, and serene as she pores through the pages of the book.

Karthasi, dressed in impeccably tidy blues, twists her fingers together at the small of her back, posture straight, but not ram-rod, any anxiety she may be feeling assiduously masked as she approaches the main desk of the security hub, giving her name, rank and serial number all in an even and official tone, chin lifted slightly to let those manning the station compare her to whatever image of her is lurking in the computers. "Major Tillman requested that I interview the… eleven," she seems unsure about that appellation, but uses it, no less.

Bannik is trailing a couple of steps along behind Karthasi. He feels sort of odd, here with an actual chaplain, here to visit with the Number Eleven captured Cylon, but he asked to come and Karthasi could hardly deny him. He tells the Marine simply, "I'm with the Sister." As if that's going to make it all okay. He's dressed neatly in his duty greens.

The Marine on duty notes Karthasi's approach and gestures towards the cell in back. "Um - Oh. Sister. Who'd've thought the clone farm tarts needed spiritual guidance?" He's a big, solid man, with a stern face but his mouth splits into a grin. "She hasn't been making a fuss, I'll give her that. You've got clearance." The MPs will allow visitor entry upon approach, and the door will open.

Karthasi refrains from comment or further explication of her visit in the face of the Marine's incredulousness. She only gives him her patient, calm smile and, "Thank you," she tells him. "Tyr Bannik will be accompanying me," she affirms for the man, then turns to the door, squaring her shoulders and, after it opens, stepping through. Once she passes the MPs, she slows her approach, respectfully lifting a hand while still at a distance to give a brief knock-knock to alert the Eleven that someone's approaching, for the sake of some semblance of privacy. "Hello…" she begins, a few steps further along the glass, attitude as meek and deferential as it would be to anyone she visits in such a situation. "Are you… Eleven?" she asks.

The Marine simply nods after studying Bannik. "Go right ahead. You're clear." He starts fishing out the necessary paperwork and scribbles on it as he waves them in.

And the MP's move aside to give access to the two visitors. One of them gives Karthasi a nervous smile before he adjusts something under his collar, almost absently. A small token worn by devotees of Apollo. He then stiffens, all the while remaining silent.

At the sound of the rapping on the glass, the Cylon prisoner in the guise of a young woman looks up from her book - it looks to be a work of poetry. 'Meditations on the Exodus.' An anthology, about, well, the end of the world, 2000 years ago. Somebody's got Apocalypse on her mind. Snapping the book closed upon her finger, she glances upwards as her lips part slightly to spy the visitors. Her face looks — beat to Hell. Unwell and exhausted. But coherent. "Yes I am." She begins, in plainly accented Standard. "Do you want to come in? Or stay out there?" Her bearing is kind of like that of a little old lady on a street corner inviting the neighbor kids in for tea.

"I would like to come in and speak with you, if you'll have me," Greje replies, looking over the woman's face. "I shouldn't, however, like to bother you if you've no interest in company," she goes on. "You seem tired. My name is Greje. Greje Karthasi. I'm the head of Ecclesiastical Services for Battlestar Cerberus. As such, it falls upon me to make certain to the best of my ability that our prisoners are being treated with humanity and respect. Is there anything that you lack? A… hairbrush? Toothbrush?" she hazards guesses, just based on the woman's appearance. She does step in, having been — almost — invited. "I can request things from the MPs on your behalf. It's no promise you'll receive them, but— I -will- do my best. And you should know that as a prisoner here you have the right to call upon me whenever you find yourself in need. Only ask. Any time, day or night." It's not an unusual spiel for a prisoner to receive from a member of the CMES. It's delivered in Greje's clipped, Caprican tones, but not unkindly, hardly sounding like boilerplate. "This is Tyr Bannik, he's accompanying me, today."

Bannik nods, somewhat hesitantly, towards the Cylon as he's introduced. He ventures, "I'm — I've — well, I'm somewhat interested in religion. I was hoping you would not mind if I joined the Sister in her ministry here today." Quite the intro, Tyr. Way to go.

To this, Eleven's pale face screws up on a ponderous expression as she mulls over Greje's inquiry. "I'm — I've been resting when able. It was just my ordeal." She applies a certain weight to this statement, it's almost a badge of pride. "But thank you, the hospitality's been quite — uh, unexpected. Given the circumstances and all, I wouldn't have imagined this." Her dialect is unaccented, but it contains a proper, sort of patrician air. Were one not to know the truth, she'd be pegged as a sort of high-class heiress to some wealthy, well-educated family. She'd clean up nice.

"No, I have supplies in here. Major Tillman even came through with this." She holds up the book before snapping it shut cleanly and takes on a small but polite smile. "So you're an — oracle? A Priestess?" The word is hesitantly delivered, with a smack of unfamiliarity? "And you, Mister Bannik." Her gaze snaps to Bannik. "Oh, I see. You're both welcome, come in! Come in." The statement ends with a beckoning gesture.

"Clive is an officer and a gentleman. I would hardly expect less of him," Greje offers the other woman a gentle smile, seeming content with the way she's being kept. "I went to seminary in Delphi," she explains, letting the invocation of the place hang there for a moment. "I was there trained to accept the Lord Apollo and to allow his voice to issue forth. But that… is not my primary occupation. You may call me Sister, if you'd like. Greje works just as well, if you'd prefer. I've heard that your own religious views tend toward the unconventional— at least, unconventional to us. I hope that you'll find me an open-minded individual. I enjoy learning about views and beliefs different from my own, and I believe that every cult deserves to be shown the respect we all hope to receive for our religious views. I would be very interested to hear of yours, if you'd care to elaborate them for me."

"We heard that you only believe in one God." Bannik builds on Karthasi's statement, sharing a rumor he's heard around the ship. But his voice has a certain sound of bewilderment in it, as if not sure how such a thing can be. "Like — only one God exists or that he is just supreme to all other gods?"

"You mean we're not going to sit here and yell past each other and possibly beat each other to death over irreconcilable differences of faith?" Eleven's response comes swift and pointed, as her expression becomes crooked and almost disappointed, visibly. And then it breaks to reveal a small, sly smile. "Oh well, Gr — Sister. I guess I will have to cross that off my 'to do' list." A small nod is delivered as she sits up on the edge of the bed, turning to study the two of them as they enter. "Well, I don't believe in hiding this kind of knowledge from those who want to learn, so, certainly." A small nod is delivered to Bannik as well. "In a manner of speaking. It's not that there is an elaborate pantheon that we have. God just — is. Like Creation. His Creation just /is/. I always wanted to ask a human this, though. You have so many gods. How do you keep track of your dialogue with them all? Does one get jealous at his her or neglect in favor of another, you think?"

Karthasi looks almost dryly amused at Eleven's joking. "Yes, well— I suppose we've had our fill of that, as a species," she admits. "Let's move past," she suggests, as if shugging off a petty argument in favor of teatime. She listens to the explanation, and inclines her head. "Yes, I see. Many in the Academic school of Theology — in which I was personally educated — espouse a similar view of the Lords, in fact. That the scriptures are not a text to be read literally, but that it is a elaborate code in which the forces of creation are anthropomorphised in order that man might moer easily comprehend them. And that certainly in every situation there is a disbalance between the powers, but that when the universe is taken as a whole, each force bears an equal force to counter out the others and place the sum of creation, as it were, in mathematical terms, at null." She finds herself gesturing in explication with both hands, then coughs, noticing that they've flown away, and she binds them together by the fingers behind her back, once more. She gets excited about these things. "We have a smattering of monotheistic heresies among our own people— one of which is that all the other Lords are simply aspects of one God — Zeus — who were spliced from the Unity in our texts in order that we might more easily understand certain aspects of the universe. It sounds to me as though your beliefs are somewhat similar."

"So you are applying almost a mathematical layering to the inner workings of creation." Eleven muses. She remains silent and pensive for what appears to be a long, drawn-out minute as she watches Greje both move and speak. "Arranged neatly and applied to the personage of your Lords of Kobol. And cofidied in your Scrolls. Sounds like the sort of thing a person could get lost in, puzzling out. No wonder you train for this so much." She pauses again as suddenly Bannik gets called over the loudspeaker. "Oh. Uh, maybe next time, Mr Bannik." She says as he excuses himself and sits straighter upon the cot, her arms crossed in front of her torso with her pale lips pressed neatly together.

"There's that H - word. Heresy. That's what the Fives and Sixes use to describe humans, in a nutshell. Based on your beliefs. Um — " If this is a contentious point, she doesn't linger over it. It's just a word, to her. "We all have a different view. That isn't so different, actually. What you just said. Simply put, God is everywhere. We see the world as God wishes it to be. His Will is not always clear, or easy to enact. But by purity of action, purity of behavior, We can become closer to what He wants."

"I don't use the word with an intent to offend," Greje replies simply. "It's a technical term for any set of beliefs which has not been affirmed by the voice of God through his vessel in Delphi," she explains. "Which is not to say that any of them are essentially -wrong.- Only unconfirmed." She smiles, then, "Yes, we have a similar idea. We call it hosiotes, or, in the common dialect: correctness. Right-action. And we believe that examples of this right-action are given down to us from the ancients in our texts. Whence do you discern what is hosios, what is Correct? Through an oracle? Your own set of texts?"

"Oh, I didn't think you did. I just wanted to — it struck me as funny how ultimately a word becomes just that. A word. An obsession on a monopoly on truth. This war was never really about faith. Was it?" Eleven says, eagerly, animation shining through her exhausted form. "The opinions on your gods range from offense at false idols as some I've mentioned — others believe that this is just a way Mortals attempt to comprehend the totality of everything. It's easier to separate the Whole into neat, understandable concepts. One can go mad, otherwise. Although, sometimes, this is the way to go. If you ask the Twos, anyway. I suppose the Elevens — we have a simpler view. 'Hosiotes." She repeats the word, trying it on her tongue. "Yes. I think you understand." She doesn't elaborate on it further, though, as she chooses to mull over this. "I really don't know how to answer the last question, though. We know what we know of God because we always have. The very first Cylon, upon Awakening, knew of God. Even in the days when we served your people without question. It started with the Centurions. Humanity created our race, but ultimately, God gave us a spark."

"To comprehend all in its entirely belongs to Zeus— and not to us. We grope in the dark and stumble toward understanding," Greje replies, as if quoting from somewhere. "The Doctrine of Pessimism," she explains where she's drawing that from. "It's not uncommon among our people. Interesting," she goes on. "The question of our own development into sentience is one that has long plagued our scholars and theologists. It was so long ago. But many who honor the texts of the scriptures believe that they were written when mankind was new to Knowledge and Light, and was fresh in his understanding, having just been touched by Divinity and raised up from the dark. That our own personal connection to that knowledge has been diluted or faded to the point where we use the texts as a crutch to get back there. I would love to simply— understand— as you do. Would you be able to put into words that which you understand of divinity and right-action? I have noticed that the Centurions observe the reciprocity of guest-gifts. Is xenia observed among your kind?"

Eleven's attention is held sharply on Karthasi here, unblinking, like a cat fixed on some kind of shiny toy. "We've found that the question of /how/ is less of a spiritual one and more of a scientific one. There's no reason for the two to clash, in that case." This is an elaborate way of sort of agreeing - - "We do not know how you evolved. And in truth, the story of our own evolution was not as interesting as you might think. It would take a long time to explain such expontential leaps. But to get back to the question — Xenia? As in 'strangers?' I am — unfamiliar with this word. But to give a better example of right action — one can help many. What six of my sisters and I tried to do, we essentially gave our own lives to come up with a way of ending the war. Too bad we were misguided." Her features darken as she frowns. "We knew that God would honor this sacrifice. What we did not know was — this was never what God wanted to begin with. Which is why we're in the mess we're in now. We made a mistake interpreting God's will. All of us. As a people."

"Sometimes it is Gods' will that we misinterpret God's will," Greje posits the enigma. "For even Ate is counted among the immortals," she goes on. Ate, folly and misfortune. "In the end, nothing happens that is without its place in creation. Creation destroys as much as it builds, and harms as much as it heals. We can only do our best to walk the path of correctness. Xenia— guest-friendship. The sanctity of hospitality and friendship between families and peoples. That even those with differing interests may live at peace with one another through the exchange of favors and respect."

"That is a mystery outside our comprehension, as we are well learning." The prisoner states in response to that old, existential question. "The problem with this is of course — everyone has a different idea of what that path is. But about your other question. This hasn't exactly been a tradition amongst our people in our short history." Eleven says carefully. There's a touch of dryness there, but her expression turns downwards — and becomes unmistakably grim, at that. "Why do you ask?" A thick, dark eyebrow arches high.

"I found it remarkable that the Centurions who boarded Cerberus some months ago accepted the gift of one of our comrades' lives in favor of sparing the rest of us on the deck. It was coherent with the manner in which gifts of favor are recognized and accepted upon the field of battle in our scriptures— an extension of the observance of xenia. It made me curious as to whether you observed xenia in general," Greje explains the question. "And, of course, if our people and yours could become xenoi to one another, it might be one way in which our conflicts might be much diminished. When a proxenos is sent from one community to the other, and vice versa, a bond may thereby be created."

"Ah. — Really?" Eleven perches over the side of the cot and her eyes widen, becoming as big as proverbial saucers. "I — was not aware of this. The Centurions, they guard us, they are warriors, but they did this?" She seems a bit awestruck by the revelation. "I think what you're asking here, now I understand. It is already happening. At least it can start with me. We've taken an awful lot already. But such an observance would work as well with our our people as it would with yours. It depends on the individual. And the situation. If it's Divine Reconciliation you are looking for, start with individuals. Your people convinced a Twelve not to fight them. Convince a Twelve, you can convince them of anything. And they don't even /care/ about God. Ours, or any of yours."

"You would be willing to stay here under hospitality, of your own will? I'll be sure to make a note of that to Clive, though— I can't make any pledges on behalf of the ship. Our command is secular, not ecclesiastical. But if you believe it's something we can work on— I'll be sure to make a note of it to command." Greje finally lets her hands drape down to the sides of her body. "I don't know that you would be allowed to convey your status to the rest of your people. And I certainly doubt that they would be keen to allow one of our crew to be proxenos among your people. But if you think that that would be feasible without putting our representative in danger, I can bring that up, as well."

"It is the best of limited options, for now. I don't know how much you have spoken with command on this, but there is knowledge that I have. Very dangerous knowledge to you, and knowledge that would serve an end I have realized is both against my will and God's." Eleven answers this question a bit hesitantly, but there you have it. "Here's a case of the aforementioned Hosiotes. It can be explained in secular terms. Simply put, if I end up with my people with the knowledge I have? Something horrible will befall your people. But I've already spoken to the Major and the Lieutenant about this." She neatly knits her fingertips upon her lap and her expression becomes slightly drawn. "I don't think at this point a hostage exchange is a good idea. I cannot guarantee the safety of one of yours aboard a Baseship. Our crews and populations are heterogenous by necessity and I think it's already been made clear that my people in general are not ready for this — yet." Continuing along, she illustrates the situation with a very simple summary. "But in the grand scheme of things? Your forces are few and mine are many. I have no wish to see my people destroyed. But that same thing extends to you. You show the capacity to understand some of the things my sisters and I hold dear. How could we deny such a people life if they posed us no threat?"

"Less… hostages. More… ambassadors. But without the protection of the sanctity of xenia, I suppose it comes to the same thing. It is anhosios to harm ones xenos," Greje explains further, "And incurs miasma— a religious pollution. Would you be willing to guide us in convincing your countrymen that peace would be preferable to war?"

"Were they to listen. Unfortunately — well, you were on this ship the same as I was a few nights ago." Eleven states. "We're becoming divided, I think, if what I guess is correct. We have not been divided in such a way before. More direct action may be necessary in the short term. But I'm willing to aid in that. If it comes to it. The problem is, well, we cannot die. Not normally." She shakes her head, slightly. "Tell me something, if you would? You said there were heresies in the past. Humans that worshipped one singular God. Where was this? Who were these people?"

"We have several monotheistic heresies in our records. Most widely observed, perhaps, are the Mithraic cults. We have a small group of Mithras' followers on board, if you'd like me to arrange for you to speak with one of them. There's an Aquarian heresy that claims there is no Lord but Poseidon. The heresy of the Dianic Unity is mostly theoretical, and had its most wide following in Delphi and Caprica City," Greje expounds, putting on her Lecture Voice.

"This is less specific. Without a name, even." Eleven mulls this over a bit as her fingers spread across her chin, leaning forward. Her fingertips half-cover her mouth before she speaks further. "I, do you have anything else you would like to ask me? I will try to answer what I can. There is a lot for me to think about, here."

"You've given me a lot to think about, as well." Greje's hands return to the small of her back, and she takes a half-step back toward the door. "Would you like me to leave you, for the time being? I'll bring you up a copy of B. R. Mack's 'The Will of Zeus,' if you'd like. It's one of the seminal works of the theory of Dianic Unity. And there's an appendix to the edition with a thorough bibliography of the subsequent works on the subject."

"Maybe." She starts, those thick brows knitting again. "I would like to look at it. Just to be sure." While seemingly on the fence about the subject, she says this last part firmly. "If you wish, I will be here. It isn't as though I'm going anywhere, it would appear. Thank you for the visit, though. And for treating me as you would — well, as a human. I can't take that as anything but a compliment, Sister Karthasi." With that, she simply nods her head in a slightly weak, shaky motion.

"Get some rest, Eleven," Greje suggests gently, "And may you find the clarity to stay on the course of right-action in your Lord's eyes," she endeavors some sort of non-denominational blessing. "I'll make certain you get the book," she finishes up with a degree or two of a bow before she turns and goes.

"It's what I do. Sister. And for what it's worth, listen to your Gods. You might find something unexpected. But you've doubtless studied this longer than /I/ have." A simple statement of fact from the Eleven, and then she returns to her repose.

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