PHD #178: Hackles and Cylons
Hackles and Cylons
Summary: Coll and Constin discuss a few things. Cora shows up. True love is found.
Date: 23 Aug 2041 AE
Related Logs: From Sagittaron with Love, All other Sag logs.
Constin Cora Coll Cidra 
The Farmstead
This is a sad and squalid patch of loamy earth, the blackness of which is broken up every few meters by rotting bits of green. Located on some of the highest ground near the Jharkand Delta, the farm went to seed a while before Warday — making it good only for growing weeds. An old farmhouse is the plot's most notable feature, perched as it is at the very summit of the hill — beside the charred walls of a barn quite recently set aflame. Those rickety structures aside, only two other hints of civilization remain. A poor excuse for a road winds its way down the slopes, its grey-white gravel partially obscured by encroaching dirt, while a small broken-down water pump creaks idly in the breeze, its handle worn by decades of use. The fields themselves have the undisturbed look of once-flooded ground — before the intrusion of men. The remains of broken tractors, plows, and various other farm implements have been carried by rising waters to their final resting place by the base of the farmhouse. Just enough barbed wire fences have survived to mark the edges of the twenty-acre property.
Post-Holocaust Day: #178

As the afternoon wanes, the work continues. Even on the surface, some maintenance has to be done on the Raptors. Thus, people like Coll have to come down and work - which she had been doing most of the day. The woman still looks tired but what else is new lately? She's taken off her green duty blouse and tossed it to the ground beside her. Lauren is just watching the people milling around in the sun from her position against the barn wall.

"Lucky loitering around a secure area ain't a crime, woman," Constin drawls by way of greeting. "What you think this is, some kinda vacation?" the marine wonders with a brief grin, as he steps up to where Coll sits and turns to lean his shoulders against the barn, taking in the same view Coll had been soaking up.

Coll looks up to smile at Constin and it sticks as she looks back out across the field. "Well I did until yesterday. I was still plannin to get that mud bath in. You know, I actually thought about trying to work on a tan but I'm short a bathingsuit." She'd still have to clean off the grease smudges on her arms and face to get that done, which would be a task in and of itself. "Sorry about storming off last night, though. I've about had it with the CAG."

Constin shrugs. "Weren't like I coulda sat around and chatted anyhow," the marine returns to Coll's apology. "Well, if you decide to strip down and soak up some sun, expect company. We got spotter's nests on top of each building."

"Yeah, I know. I'm just sick of it. I work my ass off, do everything right..even a damned good job. And I just get shit on. Only thanks or acknowledgment I've ever gotten, from anyone except you and Lucky, was when we got those friggin medals after Leonis. Getting to the point where I just wanna quit the Navy." Coll doesn't seem like she's joking either. Its a bubbling frustration with her that seems to be coming to a head. She smiles, again, though. "If I decide to strip down and lay out someplace, I'll be sure to get a Marine escort. Probably a Sergeant."

"Uh-huh. You damn well better," Constin drawls to that last, cracking a grin, despite the serious subject matter that had led off Coll's reply. "Quit the Navy and you ain't gonna get to see those missiles kill a basestar," the big man baits. "Sides- Every body knows pilots are a lotta catty bitches," he adds with a sidelong smirk.

Cora has connected.

Lauren picks at a seam on her pants and shrugs. "Honestly, I'm never going to see one of those missiles kill anything. Not personally. I'd hear about it just the same if I was Navy or civilian. That's not important, though. Like, I know its the military and we are expected to perform without thanks. Its our jobs. But seriously.. Imagine you're putting in all that effort for OCS. You study. You work. You put in all your free time. Then? Nothing." Coll shakes her head. The Crewman just sounds very put off but all of it. "Hear hide nor hair from -anyone- about those seven weeks I put into those missiles. First time I see the CAG after that, I get nothing. Decides to chew my ass a bit in front of a bunch of people for joking around. I wasn't even godsdamned talking to her. No 'Thanks for making contact' or 'thanks for being willing to risk your life to save a squadron leader'. Frak it all, El. Bitch goes and ruins the sunshine and everything else good. Only thing she might ever get close to is a godsdamned icecube or my fist in her face. I don't know how you all deal with her." Coll is sitting on the ground outside the barn, watching people out in the field while they go about their business. Constin is standing next to her, also leaning against the structure.

"Simple enough," Constin returns with a shrug, "I ain't got a sense of humor on duty, and I ain't got anything to prove to her. So it don't make any difference to me. Sides- you really think some body like that understands how much work re-wiring a smart missile takes? Frak no," he comments dryly. "And for the record? Haven't heard a word about Oh-Cee-Ess. Just gotta… assume some body's reading over all the shit I put down, yeah?" A short chuckle as he lets out an unhurried breath. "Sides: if the first thing on your mind when the sun comes up is the Cag? You gotta just make out with the bitch and get it over with. Cause woman? There's better shit to think on."

"I know you have a sense of humor, El. I've seen you smile. I've seen a lot of different sides of you. Its why I don't even lump you into the same gene pool as the CAG. At least you have a sense of humor. You've got a soft side. You care about people. I mean, you can't even accuse her of being a skinjob because at least I'd think -they- would make an effort to appear human and not like a godsdamn robot. She's just a soulless bitch and I hate her for it. You know, she had the audacity, in my aircrew interview, to tell me that she wouldn't tolerate pilots that disrespected enlisted or ignored the Deck? What I wouldn't give to have a recording of that and play it back to her face." In a sudden movement, Coll jerks her arm and slams her elbow into the wall of the barn hard enough to shake the boards up and down. Her knuckles already look like she spent some time beating a wall. "I'd rather make out with a Cylon that kiss her," she mutters, fighting a smile. She takes a loooong sigh and leans her head back to look up at Constin. "So I talked to Ulixes last night. Fed him some rum. Got him to talk informally."

Constin snorts dismissively at Coll's initial talk. "Uh-huh. And how many jokes you ever see me crack on the job, huh? You gotta be shitting me," he mutters with a snicker. "Just cause half the air wing thinks you're into girls, alla sudden I'm some kinda joker? Heh- now that I mention it, that might explain why the Cag's so heavy on you- it's the romantic tension, or some shit." A shit-eating grin cracks his reserve, before brows go up at talk of Ulixes. "What'd he have to say?"

"I've seen you crack your share. All that time we had in the brig while I was locked up? We had some good laughs and I know you were on the job. I was a terrorism suspect. But you still believed in me. It takes guts. And being able to have a heart." The remark about her orientation -does- get a grudging laugh, though. "Dickhead. That will never get old, though. Ever." She brings a leg closer, bending it so her knee is about even with her shoulders, resting an elbow on it. "It wasn't so much what he said as what he was asking about. Things he inferred. Though I'll say that if he -is- a skinjob, he knows how it feels to aircrew a Raptor. The relationship a pilot has with their ECO? Its tough to understand if you've never been there. But I believe he does with the way he talks about his ECO?" She gives him a nod and looks away. "If I had lost my pilot like that, I'd be a goddamn wreck."

As if on some sort of comic cue, Cora steps out of the barn, just in time to ask, "Why does half the air wing think Coll's gay?" The bit about the CAG she doesn't comment on one way or the other, but she seems faintly amused, and there's no indication of how long she's been listening except to mention, "I'd be curious to hear what Ulixes had to say for himself as well."

Constin looks up sharply as someone speaks from well within earshot. "Cause the other half ain't heard yet, sir," the marine replies simply. Arms crossing over his chest, Elf shifts his weight forward off of the barn and divided between his boots. "What you think about the fella, Coll?" he drawls, doing his part to bring the conversation back onto business.

Coll doubletakes at who walks around the corner and nearly bangs her head on the barn as she scrambles to her feet. "Uh." She glances to Constin as she falls to parade rest despite not wearing the top half of her uniform. All those scars and that tattoo are out for everyone to see around her tanktops. She looks a bit flustered, not quite sure what to say for a moment. "Uh, we talked, Lieutenant. He seems like a good guy, sir." How much did she hear? Does it matter? "I'd fly with him, sir," she finally stammers.

"As you were," Cora says to both of them, a quick flick of her wrist dismissing the need for that much formality. She too is in tanktops rather than that heavy fatigue shirt, though they hide her tattoos and her most visible scar is still the one on her right hand from that bullet through the palm on Leonis. "Good," she replies of Ulixes, nodding. "Did he tell you anything more of his time here? Was he already aware of the attacks on the other colonies as well?"

Cora is definitely far behind on the tally of scars, when joining Coll and Constin. The marine nods once leaning back against the barn at the 'as you were' is given. A glance aside to Coll to quickly gauge her reaction to Cora's emergence, as well as giving ear to the answer the Lieutenant's query prompts.

Coll nods her head a few times but doesn't really seem to know what to do with herself. She looks around, stuffing her hands into her pockets before leaning awkwardly against the barn with one shoulder. "Yessir. He talked about it a good bit. I don't think he was lying, either. I gave him some rum and he looked like he hadn't seen booze in months.." Lauren trails off and looks through the cracks in the barn, suddenly not appearing so comfortable. "I know you guys are just doing your jobs, but I kinda feel like I'm snitching, now." She clears her throat and looks back towards Cora - though not particularly at her. "He seemed like he figured other places had been hit, but with how he worded his questions? I don't think he had any idea of the scale. He asked me if, after six months, Sag was the last colony to be 'cleaned up'."

Cora listens and nods. "That sounds… about right," she says of the way Ulixes spoke of the attacks, nodding silently for a moment before her gaze returns to the pair. As for snitching, she shrugs faintly and replies, "If anything you pass along were to get him into trouble, it would be because he's lying to us about something material, in which case you would be doing your duty. Otherwise, you're just passing on what you've learned about a new arrival as we all get to know him."

"If it helps any?" Constin drawls, "I figure that fella's getting talked about all over base camp by now." A breath drawn and let out through the nose. A turn of his regard toward Cora. "The El-Tee has a marine with him for now, but assuming we're gonna collect a whole lot more folks off this rock, camp security's gonna get stretched some, sir."

'Duty'. Lauren quirks her brow at the word and looks away. Doesn't seem like she's got a lot of heart for that term anymore. She swallows and watches a pair of pilots make their way across the field below them. "Yeah, okay." She sighs. "I didn't ask him about family or anything. The guy was already having trouble sleeping and I didn't want to make it worse. He mentioned he'd been on the Victory for a long time. We talked about some of the people he had run across while he was stuck out there. He asked about our command structure and where our orders were coming from…Sir? If he's a Cylon, he's the most ill-informed Cylon I could imagine. This is basic stuff anyone on board our ship would know. Honestly, I just sympathize for the guy. He's been through hell. He's trying to readjust. He's worried about psych tests and was worried he might have been chained up when he arrived back here. I gave him a little pep talk and the el-tee seems hopeful, though. Said we're mostly a family. I think he's looking forward to it." Coll gives Constin a little smirk. "Okay, good point."

"What sort of stuff?" Cora asks curiously, brows drawing together faintly, "Basics that he didn't know, I mean." As for the rest, she nods, "Well, he'll have to go through the same interviews and debriefings everyone else did, but there's no reason to treat him any different than survivors picked up anywhere else, or who came aboard at Picon to begin with. Once the marines and medical have cleared him, he's cleared." Her shoulders shift faintly and her lips quirk as she adds, "I'm hardly one to find fault with that approach. And yes," she nods to Constin, "I'll leave it up to the marines to determine what security measures will be more effective, but I understand we haven't anywhere near enough personnel to assign each of the rescued their own personal marine escort."

"Will have a word with the fella when Intel's done," Constin mutters, letting a breath out through the nose. "But if he's made it six month on his own, s'a good sign we set base camp down in a nice calm spot. Apart from the occasional mine and such," he adds dryly.

Her hands come out of her pocket and she seems to hug herself across the midsection, still watching those pilots stroll through the field. "Like I said, he was curious where our orders came from. I think he was inferring a question towards how much of the Navy was left but I kinda answered it. Started to ask how big out battlegroup was but stopped because he said it sounded like a question a Cylon would ask." That smile that quirks doesn't carry a lot of humor. She looks like she's someplace else in her mind. "I mentioned to him that I had come aboard from Picon, myself. That he wouldn't be alone as a refugee. He was kind of surprised, though. At our screening techniques." Lauren finally looks back to Cora. Apparently she's dropped any pretense of using 'sir' for now. "That we opt to trust each other rather than accuse. My own personal experience with that is a cargo freighter with enough bullshit to fertilize Tauron but I didn't want him to feel like he would be pushed around. I think he took it as genuine remarks. I was mostly trying to keep his spirits up." Constin gets an upward turn of her lips at his comments about the mine. "Yeah. And tripwires."

"We may need the space," Cora nods to Constin, "Assuming we find any others who would rather be rescued than shoot us, at least. They must be out there somewhere." To Coll, she nods, listening and finally points out, "We might as well give newcomers the benefit of the doubt; after all, they're no more likely to be skinjobs than someone who's been aboard all along. That's been proven more than once now."

Constin snorts bemused at the allegory of the cargo freighter full of fertilizer, cracking a tight grin at the words. "Got a point. Ig things weren't so bad off, we'd be a helluva lot tighter about 'maybe's and loose alibis." A shake of his head at a newly occurred thought, and the words, "Hell. Gonna have to dig a shit trench," he mutters, with a grimace. "People's guts are gonna be rioting at regular rations after alla this time."

Coll nods a few times to Cora's remarks. "No joke. Seems like they've all been dealt with, though." The pilots disappear behind some terrain between her line of sight and them, but her eyes linger. "Seems like any we bring aboard now would just make themselves known real fast. Ulixes doesn't strike me as anything out of the ordinary, either. Just somebody who was lucky enough to survive this long. He talked about how people had asked him for help or how they wanted to stay with him and he couldn't take them on. I doubt he could barely feed himself." Lauren's eyes drop before sliding back toards Cora and Constin. "I don't like the idea of bringing a Cylon on board any more than you two. But? Treating our newcomers like them just makes it harder to adjust, I think. My gut just tells me to support them."

Cora nods to Constin. "We just don't have the ability at this point to really verify identity or even humanity. And we can't just assume everyone originally assigned to Cerberus is human and everyone who showed up later is a skinjob. Only thing there is to do is debrief everyone thoroughly, make them go through the interviews and background checks for clearance, and then if they're willing and deemed able, re-enlist them and trust them until they give us a reason not to. That's the XO's policy thus far, anyway and personally I'm grateful for it." Having been, after all, one of the primary beneficiaries of it.

"Don't think anybody suggested otherwise, sir," Constin notes simply to the notion of keeping to procedure and welcoming people back into the fold. "That's the whole reason we set down here in the first place. Pulling folks off the world." The sergeant's eye scans over the grounds surrounding the farmhouse. He draws a breth to add something to the words, but lets it out through the nose, unspoken.

Lauren looks a little uncomfortable with the discussion and looks away again, closing her eyes as a breeze pushes past the trio. "I heard that one of the Cerb's original pilots, one killed on Warday, was a human model. Guess that kinda confirms it." She keeps her voice quiet and her eyes closed as the breeze winds down. "Is there a policy on what happens to any that are discovered aboard? Shoot on sight? Call the Marines?" Those eyes finally open, still looking into the distance. A hand lifts from her hug to tuck some flyaway hair behind an ear.

"It sounded as if Coll thought I was proposing something different," Cora replies, mostly to Constin, though she's certainly neither forgetting nor pretending that the crewmember mentioned is right here as well, "I was just clarifying the official position, and my own. But yes, that is the whole reason we're here." She nods once more, and then looks back at the other woman, replying, "I believe there would be interrogation in order."

"Same as any enemy combatant: depends on the situation," Constin states. "Arrest if we can, take 'em down otherwise. Calling the marines is definitely a good place to start- skinjobs are a helluva lot tougher than they look," the sergeant voices.

Coll shakes her head. "No, not proposing anything. The hell do I know, anyway?" she mutters gently, not apparently miffed at anyone present. The woman looks like she hasn't seen sleep in weeks, too. Or at least a solid night of it. Only the sunlight seems to be giving her energy. Feeding her. "Just interrogations?" She looks back to Cora. "I saw that Eleven on that station. She'd died somehow and…come back? Did the air wing execute her?" Its an entirely unsettling prospect. She then looks to Constin, watching him as he replies. "So we just kill them if they resist? I.. just ask because I never considered meeting one before. Like Morgenfield was a catty wench I didn't like much, anyway. But someone friendly?" her head shakes and she looks away.

"Yes, of course," Cora amends, nodding at Constin's words, "Though taking them out is a risk as well, and one we'd like to avoid pursuing until necessary. Ideally, they'll be taken in and interrogated. After that, I couldn't say. I imagine it will depend a great deal upon the situation. And no, the air wing did not execute the Eleven that traveled in Major's Hahn's Raptor." More than that, she seems unwilling to say.

"Yeah. They resist they get shot- same as Borenstein, these Saggie terrorists, or any tin can," Constin states simply to Coll's question on resistance. "Cylons are the enemy, whatever they look like." An unhurried breath drawn through flared nostrils, and let out slowly. "The enemy gets taken out." Lauren's last word is answered after a moment with, "Machines can't be friendly. They can be programmed to act it, sure.. but it ain't real."

"So then what? If the captured Cylon was someone everyone liked before then they might not be tossed out an airlock so soon? Maybe give them a few extra weeks or months?" Lauren looks to the ground and turns a rock over with her boot in a slow movement. There's no further comment to the execution of the Eleven. "Yeah, I know El. But..I mean. I heard that cylon in the Air Wing? That he fought for us. That nobody had any idea until he was spotted later. Is he still the enemy if he fights for humanity?" Coll, taking the unpopular side of the discussion.

"It's not a question of whether or not everyone liked them before," Cora replies, "It's a question of how immediate a threat they are believed to be balanced with how much useful intel we think we'll be able to acquire. That's all." Her brows draw together slightly as Coll goes on, eyes narrowing. "I seem to recall you wanting to personally shoot the Eleven we had in custody not so long ago. Now you think maybe they aren't all the enemy after all?"

"Programming breaks down, sometimes.." Constin allows after a moment's frowning thought on the subject of Shaker. "It's still a cylon. There was one that frakked Morgenfield- don't make it real." Another drawn breath, before the marine notes to Coll's last: "When the enemy of my enemy is a machine? Yeah, it's still the enemy."

"So then if they're, like, a minimal threat then they stay in prison forever? They just sit there and wait to die or whatever it is they do when their bodies are done. Somehow that doesn't seem likely." Coll lifts her gaze again with another breeze, glancing to Cora with the last question. She straightens off the wall and looks between her and Constin for a moment. "Look, that was personal. Don't talk about shit you don't understand." Her arms unwind from herself. "I was two days from Raptor qualifications and I went on board that station with you. I will never. Fly. Again. All because she wanted to open fire despite surrendering anyway." Lauren tenses her jaw and looks away, taking a breath to calm herself in another breeze. "All programming breaks down. Run a cycle enough times and eventually something unexpected will happen. Its one of the reasons code is so complex." Her arms recross on her chest and she seems to tense a bit. "All I'm saying is that if that pilot turned on his own and fought to defend us, how is that not an ally? If he were human, we might welcome him. But..because his.." Eventually Lauren just sighs. "Its a logic flaw, is all I'm saying," she allows, looking back to the pair.

"I didn't say that," Cora replies of skinjobs staying in prison forever, "But there are a variety of considerations." She doesn't seem interested in detailing them further, nor particularly moved by the bit about shit she doesn't understand. She listens to the rest impassively, without expression, and finally replies, "Because a bit of code that happens in one out of ten million possible instances to do something in our favor does not make it loyal. It's not a choice, it's a programming error. A computer cannot be an ally."

"If it were a human, we might," Constin allows to the very last of Coll's comments, shaking his head with the next words, "But it ain't. So it's not." A short look aside at Cora, as the Intel officer agrees with him. The man's expression is stonefaced.

Coll just gives Cora a look. "You have no idea how that shit works, do you?" she deadpans. "So then they are programmed to be loyal to the Cylons. Fine. Do you have any idea how many cycles a -Raptor's- electronic warfare suite goes through in two seconds during combat? Millions. Maybe billions. For a pilot programmed to be loyal he would have to overcome tens of trillions of cycles of code being processed in a few minutes, all telling him not to do what he is doing. So because he chose to turn and make a stand, that means he had a single botched line of code one time? Does that sound rational?" Lauren finally looks away again. "If they are conscious, that means free will. If they are artificial intelligence, numerous computer laws point to an event horizon where it becomes self-aware and begins learning. Learning denotes intelligence. Self-awareness and the ability to learn means that a computer will have to choose lines of investigation that are important to it. Do you see where I'm going with this or do I just sound out of my damned mind?" When she finishes, she purses her lips and looks back at Cora. Then Constin. When she looks at him, though, she blinks and her gaze travels back towards the field.

"It doesn't actually matter precisely how many millions or trillions of lines of code it was," Cora replies evenly, "Nor whether there are computer laws that point to the possibility of self-awareness. The point is that they are computers. They are machines. They will always be so. They will never be human, no matter how complex their programming or how advanced the technology. And to start ascribing to them the qualities of humanity and proposing that we treat them as we would humans is to ignore the essential reality of the situation. Now, if you'd like to turn your clearly advanced knowledge of computers into drafting a report on how cylons most likely function, I will read it with interest, as a useful tool in our continuing efforts to survive their efforts to exterminate our species. But I would strongly suggest that you refrain from making any more public than this your beliefs that they are more or less comparable to humans and should be treated similarly."

"She ain't saying the cylons should be treated like people," Constin mutters to Cora's last words, with his regard still held on Coll. Cylons are machines- they're the enemy, and we shoot the enemy." Marine logic. Easily argued with, but hard to alter. "Don't care if machines shoot at machines, too- in fact I'll thank them to do it. But whatever label smarter folks than me put on the enemy, they frakking well stay the enemy. Know you know more of computers and shit than me, Coll-" he allows, with a shake of his head. "But I don't care if they're aware or independent, or what have you.. They're the enemy."

Coll looks back towards Cora from lidded eyes as another breeze washes over the trio. "All I know I learned in school. Spend enough time in electrical engineering and computer systems and this stuff comes up." Though the last part gets a shake of her head and she looks away. "Yeah, you just missed everything I said. Listen to the Sergeant. At what point did I say that they should be treated like humans? Not once. Just advocating an alternative viewpoint to a situation we've been presented with. You think I got love for the Cylon? Why don't you take yourself someplace new like the Ordnance Deck and see what I do for sixteen hours a day." Someone is just a -touch- on the defensive. Another huffed breath, Coll looking quite flustered. "Frak all. They killed my family, too. They're the enemy. But classifying every-" She stops herself and looks back at Cora with the same pursed expression.

Cidra emerges from the barn, stripped down to her tank top, dark hair pulled back in a loose no-fuss ponytail rather than swept in her standard bun. It's warm on Sagittaron. She's looking rather…pinker than when she arrived down on planet a day and a half ago. She's naturally fair-skinned and had acquired the extra pallor of one long posted in space, with no natural sunlight. And she's not been as diligent about her sunblock application as would've been wise. Her nose, in particular, will be peeling in the days to come. The sound of rather spirited voices draws her gaze, but she's too far off to properly hear what they're saying. Still, her long stride takes her in that direction.

"Perhaps that's what you meant," Cora replies to Coll, still totally unruffled by the conversation, "But that isn't what you said. You can't say 'they're the enemy, but…' and pretend it's the same thing as just saying that they're the enemy, as he does," she indicates Constin with her chin. "I'm serious," she goes on, "That I would be interested to read a report analyzing the way cylons most likely function based on known programming technology and computer science theory. I think it would be extremely useful to research and consider such things."

"With respect, sir," Constin states crisply to Cora, "That's you drawing conclusions. Just like somebody might draw the conclusion you was threatening the Crewman with what you'd said before. Which of course you were clearly not doing," he tacks on in the same wooden tone.

Coll has her back (and hackles) towards the barn door so has no idea that Cidra is approaching. "You have no frakking idea what I think. What I've done. What I've experienced and dealt with since I came aboard. Putting words in my mouth would be about as useful to you as trying to operate an ECO station." There is nothing but ice in her voice for Cora. "Yeah, I'll get right on that report, too. I'm sure it'll get read by the same amount of people that care: nobody. It'll be another seven weeks spent on something nobody gives a flying shit about. Get the same amount of thanks. Very inspired." She then looks to Constin and gives him a little tick of a smile. Her eyes say it all: 'Thank you'.

Continued in From Sagittaron with Love.

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