PHD #360: Hard Facts
Hard Facts
Summary: There are not many floating around, but some of those few prove difficult to swallow.
Date: 21 Feb 2042 AE
Related Logs: Everything related to the 'Sparrows and Serpent' arc and Van's investigation.
Cora Vandenberg 
TACCO's Office
It's an office. It has a desk, a couple chairs, and a lot of paperwork.
Post-Holocaust Day: #360

Vandenberg appears at the appointed time. She took the time to starch out her MP browns, shining the metal and polishing her boots and gunbelt. Its obvious that she wants to make an impression for this. There is a thick folder tucked under her arm that looks fairly unassuming but for the thickness. Best not to advertise or something. With a peek inside, she raps her knuckles twice on the doorframe before stepping in. Folder in the left, her right arm comes up in a sliced salute and held there. "Sir. Lieutenant Vandenberg. I'm here about my research in Cylon operations and the knife, Captain." Eyes forward.

Cora, on the other hand, is in off-duty greens, the outer shirt discarded (does it even really count as part of the uniform if no one ever wears it?) and nowhere in sight. She has a laptop before her, a coffee mug beside it and a cigarette between her lips. "Come in, lieutenant," she says without looking up, continuing to type for another moment or two. When she has finished to her satisfaction, then she looks up, cigarette removed from her lips with two fingers so she can exhale at the ceiling and say, "Well, let's hear what this is about."

Vandenberg's salute drops and she steps closer to the desk but does not sit. "As my initial memo's pointed out, sir, what I was investigating was the Tauron Knife's potential importance into Cylon operations and the possibility of predicting their movements. Pewter's mandate gave me clearance to chase this where I needed to and its led in some unexpected directions. Since starting, this investigation has taken on some truly bizzare bents and I've even had to look into group hallucinations and tie them in." She takes a breath and settles her eyes on Cora. "Sir, this has some overarcing ties to our religion and a lot of it is based on loose information. Some conjecture. I realize that the conclusions, thus far, are tough to swallow but everything I have seems to point towards a Cylon interest in creating their own God and collecting religious artifacts related directly to Kobol. As I said, these are preliminary but I think important conclusions."

Cora sips her coffee and regards the marine as she speaks. And then she sets her coffee mug down and smokes and regards the marine as she speaks. And then she smokes and regards some more. There is really nothing additional in her expression: neither incredulity nor curiosity nor condemnation nor surprise. She just smokes and listens, and then waits a moment after Vandenberg finishes before replying, "How, precisely, do you think them to be important, lieutenant? Is there some particular course of action to which you think they point us?"

Vandenberg knows there is a lot riding on this - maybe not from the higher ups but in her own way. She isn't quite nervous but there's some anxious tension to her. "I think them to be extremely important, Captain. Given everything I have seen and tied together through this investigation I've discovered things that aren't just hard to believe but have made me re-evaluate my own beliefs in the Gods, sir. I'm hesitant to call directly to what it all means, but this war could be based on religion and likely continues to be. Subtle things we've come across over the last year alone don't mean much. But assembled together they paint a broad picture for it." She clears her throat, coming back to hard facts. "I can't recommend courses of action, sir. That's not my place. But the number of times I have heard Lampridis Falls on Gemenon referenced, I believe we should consider it a high value target. Either for recon, operations, or just information mining. Not only do I believe the Cylons have a vested interest there, I believe that we are being prodded there as well."

As before, Cora makes no attempt to interrupt or speak over Vandenberg, allowing the marine to say her piece while the TACCO smokes in silence. "Do you believe you have discovered anything of which Intel was not already aware?" she inquires next, one brow lifted slightly with the question, though whether that is meant to make it seem a challenge or simply to convey curiosity is not altogether clear.

"I can't say for sure, Captain." The response is quick and confident. "I'm not intel and I tend to steer clear of that side of the ranking structure. I was able to breifly discuss this with Lieutenant Corrath O'Hare, Marine S-Two, and he prompted me to take my case to command. Since then I've been unable to sit down with him. My investigation started on operational motivations. It is still there. What I can say is that if intel had assembled all of this before, I would be surprised that we haven't already moved on it because their investigation would likely have been more complete than what I am presenting." She's not an analyst. She knows it. The Marine has obviously put a lot of hard thought and effort into this, though. "I can say with all conviction that after spending time with this information that anything is possible, Captain. Including intel having missed this."

"Let me see if I understand you, Lieutenant Vandenberg," Cora begins when the other woman is finished this time. She takes a long drag on her cigarette, and exhales the smoke in a leisurely stream, "You have 'steered clear' of coordinating with Marine Intelligence outside of a single meeting. You have made no attempt whatsoever to contact Naval Intelligence. You have yet to offer me a single fact or piece of evidence to support any of your theories, and despite your claim to have begun on 'operational motivations', you also cannot offer any suggestion as to what you think ought to be done with this 'information' you consider so important." Her cigarette is ashed into its tray with a single precise flick of he finger, and then lingers in the air as she finishes, "You will have to forgive me, lieutenant, if I am not entirely certain what the purpose of this meeting is supposed to be."

Vandenberg takes a breath when Cora finishes and looks away. "Sir," she begins, setting her jaw momentarily before looking back to the Captain. "I haven't been able to see Lieutenant O'Hare. Believe me when I say that I have quite a number of things I need to speak with him about. If you want details, Captain, I can present anything you'd like." She taps the folder with her thumb. "Its all right here. If you want me to make operational suggestions, fine, I will do that: We need to know first hand what's going on with Gemenon. Its the only outlier colony that the Cylons haven't abandoned and they have almost no reason to be there. Air Wing recon says there is something going on there and I know for a fact we've had birds overfly Lampridis. We need to know what's going on there even if we have to put boots on the ground." She pauses only a heartbeat. She's frustrated. "Sir, I came here because I thought command would want to know what I've found to coordinate this information with whomever is handling this stuff from any other angles.

"Lieutenant," Cora replies, unruffled, "That you assembled all of this on your own time and curiosity demonstrates an admirable passion for investigation, certainly, and your concern for the import of these matters is noted. But you seem not to have considered that these are all things of which Command is already aware. Every memo you have drawn from here, every AAR, every log of prisoner statements or what have you… these are all documents that Intel, Tactical, and Command have also received. That you would consider it a strong possibility that my people and I had somehow completely failed to notice such obvious patterns is an insult I will this time assume you did not mean to offer." She reaches for her mug, taking a sip of coffee before continuing, "As for operational suggestions, the CAG has long been interested in additional recon of Gemenon and has had my approval to pursue it, but there are, in case you were not aware, substantial obstacles to the success of such a mission, and our situation at present is not such that a great deal of time, effort, and personnel have been available to be devoted to this endeavor. Aside from that, lieutenant, I would challenge you to offer any additional suggestions for how to render this intel actionable in any constructive fashion."

"I said it was possible, sir, not that it was a strong possibility. Given my limited access to intel and what their knowledge base is, I have no way of knowing who or what is not available. I was ordered by the Colonel to pursue this so I was under the assumption that if he wanted it done then there was a reason for it." She stares right at Cora. Van's face is hard and tending towards angry but her eyes tell a different story: Ouch. "I have nothing further, Captain. I'll put the investigation down for now and leave it to your people, sir."

"You have managed to cobble together a great deal of information, Lieutenant," Cora replies evenly, "I find it difficult to believe you could not have rounded up a few facts regarding whether or not others were similarly interested." Her expression even now remains neutral, a bland, unyielding Triad-face. She does not, however, dismiss Vandenberg. Instead she just watches her, and smokes. "I think not, Lieutenant," she says eventually, "As you seem to have plenty of time for such things, I would like you to continue your investigation, but you are to refocus from the esoteric and theoretical to the actionable operational intelligence. Theories, patterns, and speculation are plentiful — plans for what to actually do with those thin on the ground indeed. You are to keep me closely informed as to your progress, this time, and to remember the limits of our situation: we can afford to devote only limited resources to the further study of ambiguous religious symbolism, and I will not offer my support for any mission which has a better than average chance of getting its participants killed. Is that understood?"

"Colonel Pewter told me this was Top Secret. I can't exactly go asking everyone whether or not they knew anything about this. I read in a few people, including the two aircrew that flew the recons. They're behind me on all of this, Captain." Vandenberg's face doesn't change. Her hands fold behind her back and she stares back at Cora at the last. "Right. So you want me to drop this. I have absolutely nothing I can recommend, sir. My only suggestion would be to put boots on the ground on Gemenon. Beyond that, I am at a complete dead end - and even that was based on theoretical and religious information. Everything I have revolves around that. I'll go over the information again, but Air Wing seems to have capable people handling operations already. If you have any suggestions, Captin, I'm open to them."

"Very well, lieutenant," Cora shrugs one shoulder as if it makes no difference to her, "If you cannot possibly conceive of any actual use for this information, then I suppose your investigation is at a close. As I said, Command is well aware of the theoretical and religious implications you have mentioned. The reason, lieutenant, that Command is not overly concerned about the potential 'import' of this information is because there is simply nothing to be done with any of it at this juncture, as you now see."

"Yeah. It is. Three weeks of hard work and assembly and I'm told that everyone already knows this?" Vandeberg shakes her head. "I've got plenty of ideas for what to do with this stuff but you want hard facts, sir. Not to mention that I'm not exactly too interested to go back over this - again - after being told all that." She turns out the file in front of her and flips the pages and photographs, looking at it. Her jaw locks a few times and she looks back up. "I've got my orders. If I come up with something I'll be sure and toss it up the chain."

"I have asked you repeatedly for ideas, Lieutenant," Cora replies, her tone hardening just faintly, "I would point out additionally that it is hardly my fault that you went about this without bothering to check whether it was strictly necessary, and frankly, you seem to be taking this more personally than is entirely professional. I've told you what it is that I actually need, and given you an opportunity to continue dealing with this business you've immersed yourself in. If you choose not to involve yourself further that is, again, your own doing."

"I also could have taken the hint from you, sir, that this was unnecessary - which is equally as fair to say that I should have asked you. You were aware of what I was working on as per your inclusion on the memos. And yes, when I invest this much personal time into something I do concern myself with what it means when I receive feedback like this. I'm doing my best, sir." The Marine refolds her hands behind her back. She doesn't comment about further involvement, though.

"Colonel Pewter replied very promptly, Lieutenant, and I am not in the habit of contradicting our commanding officer," Cora replies drily. "Is there anything further?"

Vandenberg comes up straight to attention again. "No, sir. I have nothing further."

"Then you are dismissed," Cora says, turning back to her laptop once again.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License