PHD #375: Hubris Begets Hubris
PHD #375: Hubris Begets Hubris
Summary: Trask reveals information he's accumulated regarding Raider brains to Cidra and Khloe.
Date: 08 Mar 2042 AE
Related Logs: Feasibility (the 411 from Cameron)
Referenced: Clankers: Blood for Blood (Brenner); It Lies in Odd Numbers, Part II (Centurion wearing dog tags); The Promise of Science (MolGen & Miranda)
Cidra Khloe Trask 
CAG's Office - Deck 10 - Battlestar Cerberus
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: privacy. It is dominated by a blocky gray metal desk straight out of standard Navy supply with an equally standard-issue rolling chair behind it. A few other chairs are shoved against one wall, for those who drop by for whatever business they have with the CAG. The surface of the desk is covered by a computer and stacks of files and octagonal papers covering whatever bit of aerial bureaucracy she's mussing with that day. A few heavy books on air mechanics - mostly devoted to Raptors - occupy the shelves.
The room is largely devoid of decoration, save one item hanging on a hook on the shelf direct above her desk: a set of prayer beads, well-worn olive wood and strung with a single, crudely-carved owl charm.
Post-Holocaust Day: #375

Cidra isn't actually to be found in her office much these days, as the ship sits at Condition 2 at all hours and the Cylons return to hammering them daily. But she's here now to speak with her SLs. At her desk and smoking, as she is wont to be before any meeting.

Bootstrap has been keeping busy. Even so, he has made the time to be present for this meeting, which is a good thing considering how he requested it. In his left hand is that nigh omnipresent thermos mostly full of Deck coffee, tucked under that arm is a folder, and betwixt his lips a cigarette he's been smoking since before he hit the stairway. "Toast," he greets from around his tobacco treat.

Khloe strides in shortly after, dressed in her flight suit as she's no doubt on the Alert list. She turns smartly to close the hatch door behind her, throwing the wheel, too - often Poppy is one to want some manner of ventilation when Toast is puffing away during meetings. Even the usual nostril-flare and wrinkle of her nose is seen, but beyond that she makes no indication that she's uncomfortable. The Knights SL looks fatigued, with faint circles under her eyes, and it looks as if she's not had a chance to wash her hair in a couple days, dry and easily escaping its usual braided torture. "Evening, Major, Captain," she greets quickly, coming to parade rest in front of Cidra's desk, beside Kal.

"Boots. Poppy." Cidra rises, acknowledges the salute, then sinks back into her chair. Putting her cigarette out, albeit carefully. She does try to conserve those that she can continue smoking. "You have both been deep in preparations for operations in the Aeolus region already? That is very good. We shall want advance Raptor scouts out ahead of the assault, as we are able. Not too many. Best not send up any flares to alert them we are coming if it can be avoided."

"Poppy." The less than perfect hair gets noticed. "Hosedown finally screw with your shampoo?" Trask asks after plucking his cigarette and exhaling a steady stream of smoke in the opposite direction. It's a step up from his typical blunt observations of Khloe looking like crap, at least. The thermos is set down and ash is tapped into Cidra's tray. Licking thumb and forefinger, he then also carefully puts out his cancer stick for later use. Perhaps it's courtesy, or maybe it's just that he has enough sense to follow the CAG's lead. "Been on it for over a week, Toast." The planning, that is. "When're you lookin' to launch?"

Khloe folds her arms across her chest once formalities are eased, and she casts a wary glance Kal's way. "Actually, it's lack of conditioning. There's no point during Condition Two; we're constantly sweating our balls off in a cockpit. Must be nice to sit backsies in a climate-controlled Raptor." Someone is snippish tonight. Turning now to face Cidra, she says, "My Knights have been laboring in the sims. They'll be ready whenever the call is made."

Cidra is inhabiting her flight suit as well. Sans helmet but, with her hair in a rather untidy bun, it's hard to tell how attentive she's been to her own personal grooming details. Brows arch some at the Raptor comment. The CAG shall always be a bus driver in truth, after all. Though Khloe's comment about the Knights earns a short, approving nod. "I have no doubt. As for when we touch off, three days hence. Did this meet concern anything about the op specifically, Boots, or have you something else in mind this day?"

Snippy, meet Cheeky. "Okay, (1) I wear the same suit you do," and Kal currently is, "which means the same amount of coolant; (2) being the total hottie that I am, I assure you that it can get more than toasty in here," that being the suit, "and (3) even though you have balls in the figurative sense, you're full of it because women don't sweat, they glisten."

Then to Cidra, "Considering the op seems to be more or less what I've been pitching since the 24th, and that I and my people have been working towards that end since then, I think I'm pretty set on that front." The folder tucked under his left arm is retrieved and flipped open. One copy of the report contained within is offered to the CAG and another extended to his fellow SL. "Since Poppy expressed an interest in wanting to know what's making these Raiders tick, I thought she'd like to be present for the briefing."

Khloe rolls her eyes. She's not about to get into a one-up with Mr. One-Up, especially not in their boss' office, in front of their boss. So she lets it roll off, simply adopting a deeper scowl than usual. The mention of the Raiders gets a slight nod from her towards Cidra. She accepts the folder and begins leafing through it, glancing at its contents - not one for the technical, Poppy's skimming for the juicy parts.

"I thought we were working on our respect for our fellow human beings, Boots," Cidra notes, with a certain amount of snip in her tone. Though the tidings he actually brings prompt her interest. "The examination of the Raiders we have captured? Oh, yes. Certainly…" She takes a moment just to read over it, blue eyes widening slight.

Khloe had the right idea in letting it slide. Since Cidra did not, she gets some cheek from Bootstrap, too. "Okay, (1) she started it; (2) I didn't say anything disrespectful; and (3) if you have issue with the whole glistening thing, I suggest taking it up with the bulk of your gender's members 'cuz that's certainly not an ad campaign a man would concoct."

That out of the way, Trask returns to the Raiders. "Short version: they're kinda like dolphins. That level of intelligence and trainability, only on some kind of neuro-crack. Enhanced speed and processing power. The details are all in the report. Now," attention shifts to the other SL, "turns out that the hypothesis that these triple-hashes are brand spankin' new, limited in experience, etcetera, etcetera, is actually correct. Again, details in the report. The wonderfully hypocritical part? Doc Adair says there's some kind of chip in the Raiders' brains located in the area that should control reasoning and higher-functions, like self-awareness, willfulness, etcetera, etcetera. Turns out that Centurions also have this chip. Funny how slavery of these seemingly sentient …things… is okay when skinjobs do it." Snicker.

Khloe flips through the pages, but zeroes in on the section about the chip. Her scowl turns from annoyed to one reflecting her attempt to take in the information from the page, and from Bootstrap, at the same time. "So, what does Adair think would happen if these chips were removed or disabled? You'd have a bunch of pissed off dolphins with KEW welded to their fins?" She asks, looking between the faces of Trask and Cidra, trying to judge their impression. Because Khloe. seems. increasingly. pissed. "If they're smart enough to reason with, then we need to find a way to disable this chip. It could mean the war."

Now that *does* make Cidra show visible surprise. "Self-awareness inhibiting…" She snorts. "…all this has happened before, and all this shall happen again…" She dips unconsciously into the Scripture, used in a decidedly wry manner. "…this is most remarkable…so they are more like animals within than machines…much different than the Centurions. Well, the Eleven we had in captivity told us they had the ability to resurrect. Perhaps it follows…" Eyes flit to Khloe, narrowing slight. "An interesting theory, though one I cannot readily see a way to put into practice. Unless Doctor Adair, or perhaps Chief Damon or Captain Makinen, have ideas on the matter."

"The Cents we shot to shit after they mowed down Brenner in the Starboard Hangar back in, uh, April, was it? Anyway, I'd be curious to know if they also have — had — have? — whatever frakkin' tense those chips, or if that's something the skinjobs added after that incident." And since Trask is already strolling down memory lane, he asks of Cidra, "The installation above Sagittaron that the Fleet nuked to the Nine Hells… wasn't there a Colonial dog tag wearing Centurion aboard that one of the assault teams found? What— what if it wasn't malfunctioning? It opened fire on the other Centurions and then, for lack of a better term, committed suicide. What if— Shit. That ancient Centurion at MolGen. The one called Miranda… it talked about how it downloaded the human consciousness of several people to comprise its personality. What if those skinjobs figured out a way to download human consciousness into tincans, and /that's/ why they need that chip. Talk about twisted as frak shit, but it makes some messed-up sense." And it's not a hypothesis that rests well with him.

All of this is slow for Khloe to process. Her eyes are still drawn to the pages detailing this personality-supression chip. She finally breaks the silence, muttering, "Gods, this is…" She sets the folder down on a nearby surface, pinching the bridge of her nose. Eyes clench shut. She's at a loss for words.

Cidra takes a breath at mention of Brenner. Eyes going to the outted cigarette in her tray. As if very much regretting nixing it. To Trask's question, a short nod. "Yes. They found one such as that. I have never known what to make of that incident on the base above Sagittaron, or why Brenner's sacrifice was honored. For the tags…we know they conducted abominable experiments on humans on Leonis…likely the other colonies as well, judging by those….facilities on Sagittaron, Aerilon and Tauron, abandoned even as they were…" She shudders. "Gods above and below…though we do not know enough to make but horrific guesses."

"I…" A bit at a loss, the man vaguely shakes his head. "I really didn't give it all that much thought when I read the Sag report. I figured that it probably was a malfunction." The unuttered question remains: What if it wasn't? "Doc Adair thinks there might even be sleeper agents in the Fleet, like in that one movie with the politician and the Queen of Diamonds. He didn't find any such chip in Morgenfield, though, but it's possible that's because she was fully aware of what she was." A jolt of coffee would be good right about now, and Bootstrap takes a long, long sip. "I haven't really spent much time examining any of the Centurions we have. I've been concentrating on the ships. It's… it's something that……… someone should look into it. Doc Adair would best know, at this point, I'd say. Damn shame Parres is no longer with us."

"I don't need to guess," Khloe states, finally coming around. "It doesn't take numbers to convince me what we need to do." She crosses her arms again, facing forward, giving a glance towards Trask. "They're still the enemy. I won't stop shooting down Raiders every time I'm ordered to. But I'll be damned if I won't do anything in my power to figure out how these chips can be removed. If they're fighting against their will, and this is all the skinjobs' fault, then it's not the cylons versus man. It's the skinjobs enslaving man's creation to kill man."

"That is a commendable sentiment, Poppy, but we have at present no way of doing that, or even knowing where to begin," Cidra says to Khloe. "Perhaps Medical and Engineering can find one but in the meantime, we focus on our business. And that is protecting this ship and fighting the enemy as they come at us. Which I pray, once this foundry is dealt with, shall no longer be daily. And we can only speculate on what effect removing this bit of machinery would have." She eyes that cigarette again. "The Cylons rose up against humanity in the first Cylon War with no help from the skinjobs, after all."

Sardonically, Trask points out to Poppy, "There's always been an enemy. How ever we draw our lots, we're all on one side or another. As long as someone or something seeks to harm me and mine, I'll take 'em out. And even though our side has no shortage of assholes and other despicable wastes of space, they're still /ours/ until we choose to get rid of 'em. And even though I'm all for airlocking predators of all kinds, I suspect that humanity collectively is not ready to toss the rotten apples just yet." That bit of misanthropy out of the way, he adds with a faint smirk, "To play Eris' advocate here, man enslaved man's creation first. But, damn… I had been so convinced there was no way those Fives could be more insufferably holier-than-thou. I always knew they're giant, skankin' hypocrites but this is veering into the realm of trite."

"Did they?" Khloe asks Cidra, an eyebrow going up. "Was there a sophisticated AI in charge of the cylons that we weren't aware about? Machines don't rebel; societies rebel against societies. Intelligence rebels against intelligence. Ego versus ego. Toasters don't have ego, so there had to be something else there." She shakes her head. "This whole frakking war didn't make sense, but now, it's starting to. Machines that look and sound and bleed and think like humans… you get me one. I'll get the answers out of them." Poppy's hatred of slavery runs deep, being a Canceron national; you can remove the slave-miner from the ghetto, and all that - never mind that she hails from criminal stock, and it took the Quorum to dissolve the practice of using criminals as slaves, more or less. Violence is a means to an end.

To Trask, she shakes her head. Poppy begins to pace, agitatedly. "Don't give me that. You can't enslave a machine. You can, however, enslave a soul. A living, feeling, thinking, rationalizing creature can be bent to its knee by another such creature that's more powerful. No, this is frakked up."

"The Cylons are not merely machines, as you point out, Poppy. They are things which should be. Man tried to create life, as if they were gods, made something that could think for itself, and on us it turned. The skinjobs… they are absolute abominations. Our ultimate sin. Created in our image…" Cidra's lips twist, as if she were about to spit. But she takes a breath, and does not. "And it all comes around again. They still throw themselves at us daily in an attempt to kill us cut by cut, and they are still the enemy."

"Y'know," Bootstrap blithely begins, "I'm an electrical and aerospace guy. Artificial intelligence and the like never much interested me, nor am I really feeling inclined to get into all that whole 'what makes a soul?' debate. But I'm also a practical person, and the way I figure it, if something is programmed to think and feel, regardless of what value or legitimacy any of us might place on that, it doesn't change the fact that it's very real to those 'things'." To Cidra, he remarks, "If humanity is responsible for skinjobs, that's definitely one done off the books. Wouldn't put it past some douchebags, mind you, but just sayin'." Coming full circle and back to Khloe, "It most certainly is, in no uncertain terms, frakked up. It also goes to show just how much like their human forefathers skinjobs are."

Poppy never showed one bit of emotion or disposition, one way or another, regarding the cylons. They were the enemy, and they were supposedly 'just machines'. "You know," she muses dryly, "Back on the Stussy, Sweet Pea and I broke up more pirating and illegal mining operations than I can count. Killed a fair amount of people, too. I never really gave it much thought; they knew what they were doing. They knew the risks of their illegal activities, and knew that the military wouldn't stop shooting if they refused to give in. I did my duty. So did Sweet Pea. I never really gave it much thought what I did." Meaning, of course, manslaughter in the name of the Colonies. "And you can be sure that should Toast or Gravel or anyone else order me to do my job and kill for the fleet, you can bet your ass I will. Because that's the sacrifice we agreed to make when we decided to serve. But I'll be damned if I have to kill one more Raider or Centurion than necessary."

"Humans made Cylons, Cylons *must* have made the skinjobs. It all comes back to our hands one way or another," Cidra says. "In any case. Brenner, the dog-tag wearing creature on the installation, these creatures with 'chips' in their heads…it is all horrific, but it does not change what we must do. And it does not change the fact that these creatures will try and kill you today, and likely tomorrow, and likely the next. Protect the ship, protect your wingmates, protect humanity. That is all it has ever been about for us, that is all it continues to be."

"So say we all, Toast," is the response to doing what needs to be done. Whatever more he momentarily seems that he wants to add, he refrains. Thus done with this conversation, Trask starts to gather his things. "Anyway, I pretty much relayed what I wanted to relay. Doc Adair is gonna take a look at the Audumbla specimens, and he's willing to work on the radiation risk assessment and detection criteria for that other thing." That last is directed to Cidra, whom he assumes will know that he's referencing his Gun As Skinjob Detector idea. "So, if you can float that to the proper people, that'd certainly be helpful." Beat. "And appreciated." With that said, he sticks the unlit cigarette back in his mouth and assumes the 'waiting to be dismissed' position.

Khloe does the same, albeit without cigarette. There's fire in her eyes, though - it's clear she's not going to let this one lie.

"Already done. I am told the Marines will be touched base with shortly on the matter," Cidra says simply to Trask, about the other thing. And to the pair of them, "Dismissed."

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