PHD #086: Loyalty and Service
Loyalty and Service
Summary: Tillman tells Madilyn about the evidence against Abbot. Assurances are given.
Date: 24 May 2041 AE
Related Logs: Leonis and sabotage logs
Madilyn Tillman 
Marine Offices - Deck 6 - Battlestar Cerberus
This office consists of desks for those under the CO, along with his desk toward the back of the room. The S1 and S2 have desks here and the place is neat as a pin, with everything in its place. At the front of the room, a Marine sits at a desk to meet people as they come in through the hatch.
Post-Holocaust Day: #86

Since the XO's revelation several days ago, the marine offices have been a flurry of activity. Runners constantly race in and out with secured documents (no risk of interception via wiretapping, at least); the coffee is always on and always strong, even in the middle of the night shift; the CO is a constant presence, despite how strung out and flushed she looks. Not even the music she typically surrounds herself with in the offices is playing today. If the threat of infiltrators on board who have struck is past is dismaying, the events of the past night are even more troubling, suggesting coordination and continual contact with enemy forces outside the ship. Currently, she's pacing said offices, looking over the shoulder of every marine on-duty there, checking their work for any progress or news.

Tillman appears in the hatchway and looks around at everyone. "Marines!" he hollers. "Give me the room. Major Cavanaugh, stand fast. We need to talk about a few things." The XO steps further into the room, his face a solid slate of determination and thinly veiled anger. Luckily none of it seems to be directed at the Marine CO. He'll wait for everyone to be out of the room before he says anything, but he's physically shutting off the power to every phone in the room as he moves.

The marines in this room have been subject to this before in the last few days, and have even been given the heads up by Madilyn herself. They know the drill, and don't waste any time in vacating the offices, stepping out into the hall and shutting the hatch behind them. "More bad news then, I take it?" She doesn't even both with ranks at this point, faux pas though it may be. It seems unnecessary at this point, as often as he's been down to bear bad news and reports (or she's been up to CIC) in the last 24 hours. Out of habit, she tops off her own coffee mug, and offers Tillman one should he want it.

The XO just shakes his head to the offer. He clasps his hands in front of him, the stare on his face unmistakable. He's more angry than he initially let on. "We got a lead on who the collaborator is in CIC. And I've got some more information that will likely change the way security on this ship is conducted so I suggest we both grab chairs. You're gonna want to sit for this one." He moves to sit at her desk.

Mirroring Tillman, Madilyn too takes a seat at the desk, behind it rather than in front of it. The normally neat and organized surface is a mess of papers, reports from various MPs, messages that have been run down, on and on; more than a few of them are coffee-stained. "Who's the chicken shit collaborator in CIC? Pull no punches." The normally stoic woman is strung out enough to actually drop an insult, which is rare.

Tillman doesn't waste any time. "My own investigation into it seems to agree with this. Lieutenant Kulko delivered me a report, and is corroborated by claims from Lieutenant Sophronia - a Viper pilot we pulled off Leonis - that the collaborator is Admiral Michael Abbot."

Madilyn visibly slumps in the chair, deflating practically. "Godsdamned…" is all she manages to mumble out. Her palm is laid across her eyes, thumb on one temple, middle finger on the other, rubbing while she thinks. "Of all the people. If I order my MPs to detain the Admiral without laying charges in public - I am assuming you want to keep this quiet - all hell's going to break loose."

"I don't want this information circulated beyond the people I inform. So far that includes yourself, Lieutenant Alessandra Sophronia, Captain Margaret Quinn, Lieutenant Gracious Bia, and I will be informing Major Hahn right after this. If I find out anyone lets this travel I will personally execute the leak, regardless of who it is." If there's any hint of the man using the phrase as an analogy, its not evident. He looks deathly serious. "I want Abbot untouched for now. If we move on him now, the other agents could go underground and become dug in like ticks. I also need time to coordinate with Major Hahn and yourself about how we are going to handle this because this situation?" Tillman deadpans the next. "Its worse than you can imagine. First reports from Kulko's note indicate that the Cylons are either cloning humans or growing them. Sophronia has confirmed this. Abbot is likely not even human."

"Are we treating orders from him as compromised? Are you assuming functional control of the ship?" I.E., does she even bother to file future reports to the Admiral? As for the idea of cloning humans? Of the Admiral not being human? "Am I to take your words to mean that not only are Cylon collaborators on board, but said collaborators are in fact Cylons themselves, indistuinguishable in appearance from humans?"

Tillman sighs. "If these charges are accurate about the Admiral, and I believe Kulko, then anything Abbot says could be compromised. I am going to say that his word should be taken with an extra grain of salt. Reports to him from your office shouldn't stop or indicate anything is amiss. However, anything pertaining to the hunt for these agents? Send directly to me. As for assuming functional control?" Tillman was probably anticipating that question. "I am the Executive Officer and this is a unique situation. I am assuming control of operations provided that I have the support from my combat commanders - namely yourself and Major Hahn. You're running the Cylon investigation, Major. You tell me if you'll support me or not. And answer that considering that the last question? It could very possibly be yes."

Madilyn too gives a heavy sigh. "Of all the ships in all the Colonies in all the years…" she mumbles to herself. Of course, this is one of a very few handful of other ships. Speaking of… "Do we have any word from our frigates? Any suspicions of collaborators on board? If we think Cylons jumping in and launching attacks are terrifying, imagine if our own missiles were fired from essentially point blank range from our own fleet. I'm walking a fine line here, you know. I need to give my marines /something/, but too much, and we're going to spread rumors like wildfire. And truth be told? I have zero faith in who to trust anymore. Evidence suggests that the Admiral is the collaborator, but maybe it's just you, planting the right pieces, to incriminate the Admiral. Unlikely, highly difficult, nigh impossible. But still, unless you start acting…weird, you have my support." Weird is really the best adjective she can come up with.

Tillman shakes his head. "So far reports from Corsair and Praetorian are quiet. Major Michelle Bartholomew, the Corsair's XO, was killed on Leonis. Colonel Pewter took the news pretty hard. But I think they are safe. Praetorian is most likely secure because of the Cylon boarding attempt. If they had an agent on board I think they would have already done just what you are suggesting. As for giving your Marines something?" The XO shakes his head. "Zero. And I mean that. Stamped with a point-two-two-three caliber. If even a hint of this gets back to Abbot, he is liable to charge every one of us with mutiny and shoot us on sight. They crew will never have a chance to know - which they will after I terminate his command." He pauses, letting that sink in. "If you believe me to be a Cylon or this story to be false, I encourage you to speak with Lieutenant Sophronia at your leisure. I just ask that it be done securely. Ask her anything you wish. But I appreciate your vote of confidence, Major. Nobody wants this job less than I do right now."

"I do this because I'm ordered and because it lies in the best interests of this ship and its crew. If there are two, distinct reports both claiming that Abbot is in fact an enemy agent, I'm forced to take that at face value. I can't at all imagine they'd make up such a fantastical story while planetside. "That being said, I will continue in the same way that I have always done. Abbot will continue to get status reports, but devoid of any information. I'll continue to dispatch sensitive information to you directly by runner. Have you any additional information regarding the incident last night? My MPs are stretched thin securing sensitive areas and working the Viper sabotage case, but there's no way these two events are unconnected."

"Good." Tillman seems to mean that. "Poke holes in this shit any way you can, Major. I *want* to have that report be wrong about Abbot. But we can't risk ignoring it. If you find evidence otherwise or something isn't panning out, I want to know right away. If you suspect me of being an agent, act as you see fit and coordinate with Major Hahn or whoever seems most approachable. She is next in line for command, though, after myself and will act accordingly. Fleet security is priority one." The XO's intensity about this subject doesn't seem to be abating at all. "As far as additional information.. Land Corporal Maragos met with me last night to discuss the hunt. Him and I are of the agreement that there is likely a team working on the deck, not just across departments. No reports as to the extent of infiltration, sadly. All missing G4 was apparently accounted for after the bombing of Captain Sitka's Viper. That means the Raptor was likely bombed from ordnance stockpiles. And done by someone who knows Raptors. He's looking into it further."

"Who on deck do you trust most? I'm about this far…" and here she holds her fingers up, about an inch separating her thumb and her index finger. "…from telling my MPs to restrict access to both small arms and ship's ordinance to about as many folks as I can count on one hand. Small arms is already to that point, but to sabotage ordinance on a Raptor…I just feel so ineffectual. I'm sick and frakking tired of /reacting/ to this shit. I want to act, but if I do, we tip our hand." Her voice remains measured and calm, but like Tillman, it's intense and seethes, just below the surface.

The hands that were a moment ago across her eyes, then indicating a measure, now clench into tight fists, unclenching, reclenching. "It's funny, Major. Once upon a time, I learned the fundamentals of control systems operation. Feedback control…much easier to implement, but it doesn't do anything until it's too late. Feedforward control…much harder to implement, but prevents things from happening. It would seem we've a very poorly calibrated feedback control system deployed aboard this ship, infuriating as that sounds."

"On Deck? Nobody. Maybe Atreus. But the Lance Corporal has a plan. Shutting down operations and access isn't a plan with can live with anyway. Trust me, I know how infuriating it is. Nothing pisses me off more than what those shitheads did to that Raptor crew." Tillman sighs, gritting his teeth. "Look, when the Lance gets the go ahead for his plan, that's likely when I will terminate the command. I will need Marines on the bridge who will follow orders. Marines who trust you when you have to tell them 'Ignore any orders from Admiral Abbot' - unless you plan to be there yourself?" To the rest, he snorts but can't bring himself to laugh. "Forward feed implies a forcible clampdown. I won't have that. Not while I am Command Staff. We operate as a free people."

"Reliable marines I can promise you. And I absolutely insist that I'm in CIC when you levy that command and formally bring charges to bear against the Admiral. If it weren't a serious risk, I'd also suggest Major Hahn be there as well, but then one bomb has the risk of eliminating practically half the ship's command. A smooth transition with command presence will be necessary to ensure that this doesn't appear to be a helter-skelter mutiny." Madilyn sets her jaw and lays her hands upon her desk, curling her fingers back into fists so tight that the nails bite into her palm a little.

Tillman dips his head. "Much appreciated. Though I may change the location. It may be better to do this quietly. And as bad of an idea as it is, I want Major Hahn to be there. It will be important for the crew to see solidarity among the combatant commands. But once it happens? We may see a counter-operation to eliminate us and restore Abbot. The other problem will be the Corsair and Praetorian. They may react with hostility to our removal of Abbot. But informing them? Its one helluva risk." The man falls silent and looks away to a colonial flag on a desk nearby. "You know? Between the Corps and the Navy? I never thought I would be leading a mutiny, let alone dealing with one. This shit is about as far from normal as it gets for me."

"I've never questioned my choice of career before this shit fell in our laps, either. Now, thoughts of what it'd been like had I just gone to school the way my father suggested and became a teacher or something are starting to creep in. It's like some sick and twisted birthday present, courtesy of the Cylons." She manages a stressed, wan smile in Tillman's direction. "Happy birthday, huh?"

"I never wanted to do anything else. After this, I never wanted it. I took this cruise as a favor and honorific. I'm a Tactical Officer, not a godsdamned leader." Tillman growls that out. "Anyhow, you know what's going on. I'll be in touch. Talk to the Lance Corporal about what's going on with his investigation but do not inform him about what we just discussed." The man leans forward and rises from the chair. "Again, I appreciate your support on my taking operational control, Major Cavanaugh. I will give you updates as they become available. And again, speak to Lieutenant Sophronia if you have any questions."

"Understood Major. When the time comes, you'll have the marines on your side, I guarantee you that." She too rises from her chair, to see the XO out, leaving those words hang in the air. That's one half of the ship's military force accounted for.

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