PHD #324: Instincts and Doubt
Instincts and Doubt
Summary: Marshall and Sawyer meet for the first time at Colonial Pete's. Herak weighs in on their conversation.
Date: 16 Jan 2042 AE
Related Logs: The Library of Hard Knocks
Herak Marshall Sawyer 
Colonial Pete's - MV Elpis
Colonial Pete's is the long-awaited successor to Kythera's Aquarian Pete's, though this version is more bar than strip club. Not that there aren't any strippers here, in fact there's even a raised platform complete with pole built just for them. The majority of the room, however, is dominated by mis-matched tables and chairs and a long bar. Lighting is haphazard, the harsh fluorescents that came with the place usually left off in favor of lower lighting from scavenged lamps and even a bit of neon rustled up from somewhere and hung behind the bar. There's a pretty decent sound-system playing a wide variety of music, and a couple of low-tech bar games, like a mini pyramid arena.

There are always a few burly-looking guys around to keep an eye on rowdy patrons, and especially to guard the doors to the back rooms, where the stills are kept along with (rumors say) a few private alcoves for those willing to pay extra for one-on-one time with the girls.

A large black chalkboard that once adorned Cerberus' Ready Room hangs behind the bar. Scrawled on its surface beneath a crude picture of a steaming bowl are the words 'SOUP OF THE DAY: MOONSHINE.'
Post-Holocaust Day: #324

It's quiet at the bar this time of day. There are some off-duty soldiers having drinks, some civilians killing time, some friends just mingling and talking. Marshall, suit and briefcase and all, sits at the bar with his back to the pole where the afternoon dancer is being largely ignored. His glass is sitting on the bar itself, his napkin having been re-appropriated as a notepad where he's been jotting down various thoughts and snippets of conversation.

"You know, they make these little things called notepads." Sawyer doesn't know the man but maybe she recognizes him from the brief encounter in the library. That doesn't stop her from slipping up next to him at the bar. One leg lifts so she can slip a thigh up onto an old metal stool that once belonged to Engineering of some ship or another as it has 'Snipe Property: DO NOT TOUCH' stencilled on the top she now occupies. A drink chit get pushed across the bar to whomever is tending it today. "Whiskey on the rocks with a splash of water." Of course what she actually receives is a far cry from what she ordered: still swill.

Marshall glances up from the napkin and looks across to Sawyer, giving her an amused smile. "Ah, but the pretension of being struck by such great thoughts that they necessitate being hastily scrawled on a bar napkin before the lightning of genius vanishes so appeals to me," he explains, flashing the napkin in her direction. His handwriting is neat and slanted to the right. "J.J. Marshall," he introduces himself, rising from his stool in a gentlemanly way, one hand straightening out his jacket while the other extends for a shake. "And you, if I am not mistaken, are Miss Sawyer Averies, journalist." Does he remember her from the library? Or did he just read her badge and credentials?

Crabby squawks out, "Call the ball! Call the ball!"

Sawyer's handshake has a brusqueness to it, all business that doesn't leaver her fingers lingering. "The one and only Averies. The journalist part, however, remains open to interpretation. So you know my profession. What is it you do, J.J.?" He offered his first name and she seems intent to use it instead of opting for a more formal approach. "Besides scrawl moments of brilliance on cocktail napkins and looking dapper in your very fine suit." Her words are friendly, her eyes are warm, but there's a practiced grace to it all that seems a little stiff today. Maybe she really needed that drink she has yet to sip.

Marshall's handshake is professional. Firm grip, one simple shake, disengage. "Pleased to make your acquaintance. I'm afraid I'm only contributing to the local scenery at the moment," he responds, indicating his very fine suit. "I was recently rescued from Tauron and have been recovering. I have yet to find an occupation suitable to my age and skills in these circumstances." Age, he has much of, that's for sure. But skills? He picks up his glass, which appears to be whiskey neat, and raises it in a silent toast to Sawyer. "Cheers." He takes two quick sips and sets it down again. "So, Sawyer, what is the story of the day?"

Sawyer relaxes back onto her stool now that proper introductions have been dispensed with. The clear liquid she received was not her original order and thusly she eyes Marshall's drink with a bit of envy. "You might not be a rocks man, but you should add a splash of water. It's actually been proven to open up the flavor of the whiskey, much like decanting wine, but I've always respected a purist." Her own drink is toyed with before she finally sips from the glass. There's a wince evident, just around her eyes. "The news? The civilians are being frothed into a frenzy against martial law by an unclaimed manifesto and there's a teenage girl trying to rally for a sense of government through the application of milk and cookies. A girl who probably failed her Poly Sci class, no less."

Crabby squawks out, "Down the Hatch!"

Marshall holds up his glass to the light. "Depending on the whiskey, I do add a few drops to taste. It does, indeed, bring out the full flavor." Not so much a purist, then. "Ah, yes. The child you left in the library last night, if I'm not mistaken. She is young yet." The old man moves his finger back and forth along the lip of his glass. "Is the situation amongst the civilian populace so dire? I'm afraid I have spent most of my time in the sickbay of the Cerberus since being rescued. But if that is indeed the situation as it sits, it is hardly a story. How will you calm them, Sawyer?" He turns to her with an interested look.

There's a smirk from the woman, a deeply rooted thing that seems more born out of some sort of inner reflection than Marshall's words. "I got out of the politics business. I didn't have a taste for it. I'm built more for handing people facts that are never quite as easy to swallow. People don't want that in a politician. They want someone who's going to kiss babies and tell them everything is going to be okay, and keep the dirty truth out of the public eye. The way to calm them is to present them with such a figure. Take someone like you for example. On first blush you're a…" Sawyer tilts her chin up slightly, leaning back to observe him in quick up and down. "…presentable man. You clean up nice, wear a nice suit. That instills confidence. You look collected. Stable. Which is what people want to pretend we can be again." Her hand travels to his hand, perhaps noting the ring. "You have a military background. Liasion maybe? Or brass. You speak well and don't mince words and you know your target audience. You speak back to me as I addressed you. You're observant because you knew who I was and which girl I was referring to simply by a few key indicators." Her hand flicks her badge. "If I wanted to calm them? I'd give them you."

"Excellent," Marshall remarks, punctuating with an upraised finger. "Excellent. Precisely the acute insight I would expect from a top-notch journalist, presented with the subdued undertones of flattery befitting a seasoned politician." The finger is lowered and another one raised with it. "Two things. One: both your assumptions about my background are correct. I am a Naval officer who retired and became an advisor and liaison to the Tauron government on military affairs." One finger down. "Two: you have mistaken my meaning." He twists in his seat to fully orient himself toward her. "You see, it is not a politician's job to calm the unruly crowds. No, you had the gist of it: a politician's job is to tell the crowd that they are calm." His eye twinkles as he leans in. "The media is who influences mass ideology and perception. How they present a politician, a military action, or an idea. What opinions they present, what facts they withhold. And from what I hear, you are not just a journalist - you are the journalist of the Fleet. That is why I asked you how you will calm them. Because no man or woman - not myself, not Andrus, nor any other - can do with a thousand words what you can with a single sentence."

Crabby squawks out, "Yo mama …."

"Now who's abusing those undertones of flattery?" Sawyer responds dryly, lifting her drink again as a natural break in the conversation. It seems by body language alone, she's not as convinced as he seems to be in that assessment. "There's a fine line between controlling which news the general populace consumes and milling propaganda. I hope to never be guilty of the latter."

"I would hardly consider it propaganda to publish an article which may calm the civilians from escalating to actions of exceeding foolhardiness," Marshall responds, straightening back up. He has excellent posture even when sitting on a barstool. "And truly, would you need to resort to propaganda to accomplish such an effect? Truth and reason, when presented in the right fashion, can reach the hearts and minds of many. That is what separates the good journalists from the great ones, is it not? Not merely the ability to write a story worth reading, but the expert touch that connects that story to the reader and speaks to them on a personal level?"

Sawyer's features smooth out and she's left wearing that tiny little smile again that just barely turns up the corners of her mouth. "J.J., if you'd like to give me a soundbyte, I'd be happy to quote you in my next article. How you're taking up the old mantle of liaison and working with Command to ensure the best interests of the civilian populous are being taken to heart. Something about how time and patience are our most precious resources, and we need to strive to renew them. If /you/ want to say that? That's fine. But my literary license extends to the flavorful use of adjectives, not creating smoke to then blow up their collective asses."

Marshall laughs appreciatively at her response. "Perhaps we are both envisioning goals too unsuited for one another," he says, lifting up his glass again. "I sincerely hope I did not give the impression that I was suggesting you lie or deceive with your power. I was merely curious as to whether or not you had a masterpiece in the works that would quench the disquiet of civil unrest. Forgive me if I've overstepped my bounds." Holding his hands out and open, he bows his head to her. "As for myself, I am only now beginning to accustom myself to how the Fleet has carried on since the Cylon attack. My doctorate background in political science compels me to research the legal legitimacy of martial law in this situation. Which will lead me to study the mutiny against and trial of Michael Abbot. But I understand that to be a very controversial topic of discussion these days, and rightly so."

"If you come up with something on that, I'd love to know. I'll even help you publish the outcome of your research. It's actually a topic I consider rather personal. He is the reason I am the - as you so interestingly put it - the journalist of the Fleet. He's the one that shipped me down to Leonis to be a war correspondent and now you know a little bit more about me then most." Sawyer looks into the depths of her glass and takes a larger gulp than prudent, causing a little cough to erupt involuntarily. "As to the civilian unrest, until a strong leader emerges from the lot, they're going to follow the loudest. And that can't be me."

Marshall nods to Sawyer. "Then I shall be certain to inform you of what I find. It seems that we both have a personal stake in this matter. I knew and respected Michael Abbot; he was not a friend, but an acquaintance and a peer. Still, I spoke to him before his sentence was carried out. I retain some doubts." He finishes off his glass and sets it down on the far edge of the bar. "As for the strong leader, there are a few candidates at the current moment from what I have heard so far. Who, then, would you consider to be the loudest? The mysterious author of the manifestos?"

"Until people start to take eighteen year olds who tag personal ads and cartoons at the end of their pamplets seriously? Yes, I'd have to say it's the manifesto author. Rants as they may be, they're well-worded and concise. Short and sweet and easy to follow will be followed." Sawyer's sitting at the bar with Marshall, the former sipping on something clear from the still and the latter is nursing a straight whiskey for the discerning bartender's eye. "I purposely did not speak with Abbot prior to his trial, I ceased my visitations once I was decided to serve as the stenographer. Your doubts? As to his guilt or his innocence?"

*THUMP**THUMP*THUMP*. That's the sound that heralds Herak's limping entrance into Colonial Pete's. He makes his way behind the bar, exchanging a few gruff words with the man who was pouring earlier. It's some kind of shift change, apparently. Colonial Pete's never closes, it just ebbs and flows. The chatter between Sawyer and Marshall must catch his attention. It's a hot-button topic. But the only thing he immediately says to either of them (well, more to Sawyer than Marshall, presumably) is, "Need that topped off, doll?"

Marshall holds up his hand to Herak. "No, thank you. Just the one for me." Turning back to Sawyer, he says, "I will express only doubt in general at the moment, since I have yet to review all the facts and available data. As for the manifestos, they are written with a practiced hand. A political mind. Someone who writes that well is, most likely, also an excellent speaker. That should narrow down the candidates significantly. You know the civilian populace; I do not. Who stands to gain the most from unrest amongst the civilians? Is it a civilian attempting to overthrow martial law? Or the military looking for an excuse to extend their reach further into civilian affairs?"

Sawyer is not a regular at Pete's, so when the change of shift occurs she's careful to note the man who has taken over. "I wouldn't dare waste a voucher on a mere topping off." She holds a finger up to Herak, telling him to hold, and then the journalist downs the rest of her drink in one fail swoop. Ooooh, that burns. Her voice is hoarse when she speaks again, "Okay, another one." And out the little paper chit to pay for her next drink comes. "Oh, I'm quite certain I know who it is." This back to Marshall, "But like you, I'd be speaking purely on conjecture at this point. Once I have a chance to validate the facts, I'll pass them on. I'd love to hear about your encounter with Abbot, purely from a personal standpoint. Maybe someday you'll feel comfortable enough to share that with me. I regret…well. Let's just say I have my regrets."

"Idiots stirring up shit," is Herak's gruff opinion at the continued chatter about manifestos. "Bad for business. At least the military folks pay their bar tabs on time. Much as anyone's paying anything these days. Now that's the right attitude, darlin'." He flashes Sawyer a rakish, if jowly, grin and pours Sawyer another glass of Pete's Local Vintage. "Best left in the worlds. Guaranteed not to make you go blind." He takes the voucher and deposits it behind the bar. Ain't exactly cubits, but he does seem to keep careful track of the things. He's not openly eavesdropping, but he doesn't exactly drift away from their conversation.

"I have found," Marshall intones, "that basing one's decisions and judgments on instinct leads to favorable outcomes more often than not. Perhaps one day, at a more appropriate time and place, we can discuss what we know by instinct without fear of reproach for lack of substantiation. My doubts, for example, are fully unfounded on fact." He offers her a guarded sort of smile. "I assure you that whoever is writing the manifestos is no mere idiot," he corrects Herak. "He or she is playing a clever game, carefully manipulating public opinion. To what end, I cannot yet guess with certainty. What has been the general reaction that you've heard here?"

"Right now this person has only been successful in stiring the embers of discontent. Some are fearing it may boil over into an out and out riot, but I think the displays will have to manifest beyond paper for that to occur. So we'll see." As to the rest of Marshall's baiting, Sawyer doesn't seem to be rising to it. "This is going to be it for me, so thank you…" Sawyer lets her sentence drift off, fishing for the bartender's name.

Herak barks a chuckle at Marshall's words. "You got better instincts than me if that's the case, pal. No mere idiot, huh? But what's the point? To skim some extra tomatoes out of the grow house we got on board? Make an MP pissed off at you enough to knock your teeth in? Ain't much gain, and it just ends in bad business for everybody." He leans one heavy elbow on the bar, focusing on Sawyer. "Herak Takao. Provider of drink and merriment to the populace of the M-V Elpis. I run the tabs. That's power, darlin'. And you are…?" The question is aimed at both of them, even if it is Sawyer he's eyeing.

"J.J. Marshall. Pleased to meet the man who really runs the Elpis," Marshall says, rising and offering Herak his hand with a smile. "As for the tomatoes and teeth, I'm afraid I'm not acquainted with that story. Was that the incident which sparked the near-riot I have been hearing about?" Turning to indicate Sawyer with his other hand. "And although it is not my place to do so, it is my honor to introduce the Miss Sawyer Averies."

Sawyer counter-leans against her side of the bar, planting both elbows wide enough to support the maneuver. "That's right." She says after Marshall's kind introduction. "Sawyer Averies. Journalist. And I print one story that your still has a deadly bacteria in it? And you won't have any tabs to run. Now that's power." Even if she spent the last thirty minutes convincing Marshall that's a power she won't actually abuse. The journalist flashes Herak a wink, feeling just saucy enough to do so with the warm drink circulating in her veins. "Alright boys," Yes, J.J. counts as a 'boy' currently, "That's enough for me for one evening." The glass gets lifted though, to polish off that last drink because when you waste not you want not.

Herak takes Marshall's hand, pumping it with a firm shake of his own. "Yeah. That's me. King of the worlds." The sarcasm is deep, but it's aimed mostly at himself and said with a smirk. "Frak me if I know what caused the near riot. I keep my head out of that bullshit. Somebody was skimming from the hydroponics set-up. You'd have to ask that chickie who runs things down there…Rose I think her name is, the redhead? More about that. I guess the MPs came to look into it and things got outta hand." Sawyer's comment earns a grunt from him. "You trying to blackmail me, The Miss Sawyer? Heartless. Just like a woman. But I won't hold it against you. Come back some time. You got the vouchers, we always got room at the bar."

"Rose, yes, that name's been mentioned to me before. Miss Rose Ibbhanas, yes?" Marshall gives Herak a firm manly handshake before retracting his hand so he can circle something on his napkin. "Excellent. I do believe my docket is now full for the next few days. Unemployment certainly is an interesting business." The napkin gets pushed into an inside pocket in his jacket before he leans over to note to Herak, "That's your cue to offer Miss Sawyer here with a free sample of your finest spirits to prove no such bacteria runs rampant in your fine establishment, Mr. Takao." He's joking, of course. At least, he sounds like he's joking.

Sawyer raps her knuckles on the bar. "Maybe next time. Save me a seat." Is her only response to Herak as she slips to her feet. "It was a pleasure to meet you, J.J. Marshall. I'm sure our paths will cross again very soon indeed." And with that, the reporter is off to do whatever naughty reporters do when no one is looking. Like crossword puzzles.

"Ibbhanas, yeah," Herak says. "I think that's her name. I don't go in much for the science-y shit, excepting the chemistry that runs our fine vintage brewing operation." Meaning, the still. To Sawyer he merely grins and says, "Will do." And watches her walk away.

"The pleasure was mine," Marshall responds. He remains standing until Sawyer's gone. "Very interesting young woman. I suppose I should seek out this other very interesting young woman, Miss Rose Ibbhanas." He gives Herak a polite nod. "Until we meet again, Mr. Takao."

"'Interesting' usually means 'trouble' where women are concerned," Herak opines, plucking a rag from behind the bar. He picks up the empty glasses and gives it a wipe-down. "She got a nice pair of legs, though." As if that balances things. "Until again, old timer. Watch yourself. Stay out of trouble. Best move in the new normal is just to keep your head down and get along. Ain't much else a man can do these days."

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