PHD #089: Making Sense
Making Sense
Summary: Or not.
Date: 27 May 2041 AE
Related Logs: None
Oberlin Kulko Ashwood Samuel Tisiphone 
Grounds — Sagittaron House — Kythera — Leonis
This was a beautiful place, once upon a time. Grounds that were once expansive and lush with vegetation in the forms of planned gardens, walking paths, and sitting areas are now dead and barren; trees devoid of leaves, bark charred, grass dead and brown. A 10-foot tall wrought iron fence with spiked tops and thick brownstone joiners every 20 feet surrounds the consulate and the grounds. In several places the bars, normally 8-10 inches apart, have been separated enough for a person to slip through sideways.
Post-Holocaust Day: #89

<Ashwood entered here! Somebody please fill in what he missed.>

"You realize," Oberlin begins, taking another drag off his cigarette and letting his arm dangle, practically staring at Stephen. "That, whether or not this is true, we already have confirmation of one infiltrator. One leak. Considering this whole operation went down like they were ready for us, there's likely another. Do you even think we should go public with this? Action it right away? Because if we do, and there's any merit to this — we're blowing our cover."

Clearing his throat again, he adds, "Unless that one of us is a plant. You realize what kind of can of worms this is. Could be you. Or me. Hot-ass Ensign Powell aboardship in Logistics."

"That's the whole godsdamn point, if you ask me," Kulko counters with a flourish of his cigarette, tracing a glowy trail in the murky evening. "Get us all riled up, start doubtin' each other. Won't be able to fight if we're lookin' over our shoulders half the time. If we're gonna keep holdin' out we can't stop trusting each other. Human until proven otherwise." It's his mantra, these days. "But how many people were in that briefing room? You, me, Diana, XO, Rime, CAG. And the Skipper. Makes sense he'd be the plant, he knows frakkin' everything."

"What doesn't make sense is whatever this plant, whoever it is, is doing." Oberlin snaps suddenly, and shakes his head as he drops the spent stub of the cigarette down on the ruined ground and jams his bootheel on it with a disgusted jerk of his leg. "If we had a plant, they've done a considerably shitty job at wiping us out. All things considered." His mouth quirks to one side as his teeth are pressed together. "We had that one woman warning us off. Another shot that CIB Agent's people. Another attacked MolGen but we were very much allowed to gather that data. Unless —"

This statement is now allowed a finish. "So, uh, this videotape. How'd it look? When I was in junior high, I knew this guy that used to sell pictures of Cynthia Markos back when she was hot. Except they were just forgeries of her face transposed on some porn stars. He was an entrepeneurial god."

"Unless they want us to get back to Cerberus with this." Kulko shakes his head, obviously frustrated. "I don't know… Looked like a vidrec. I'll go get 'im, you can see for yourself." He tosses his own cigarette to the floor - quite a pile accumulating in this corner of the courtyard - and heads off for the door, cracking his knuckles idly as he walks.

"I'm regretting not shooting her in the legs and sawing them off, stuffing her in a sack and hauling her away for questioning." Oberlin states now, half to himself. "Next time, we take one alive." He simply falls silent now, watching Kulko go.

Oberlin 's stare is as dull as is voice.

"Dude didn't have tits in my video," comes Ashwood's smooth tenor from said door, which — gods damn! How long has that thing been unlocked? Who knows how long the man was just standing there listening. "And I should know because I'm telling you, man, if that entrepreneurial god had one of the-e-e-e-se sweet babies right here — " Fingers tap the hard plastic case on which he's leaning. "Well. I'll let you see how this Varel zooms. C7, dude. Stratocam." Right arm drapes over Kulko's shoulder as he guides the lieutenant back to where Oberlin may or may not be fapping; the other makes sure his case doesn't touch the ground more than it needs to.

"Lieutenant Oberlin here wouldn't mind a gander at that footage you got of the older man, blue eyes, walkin' round with the tinheads. You still got it queued up?" Kulko doesn't seem too thrilled about the newsman's posture, but keeps pace and doesn't complain. Higher purpose and all that.

Finally meeting the man, Oberlin's weary stare turns to focus on Ashwood, wincing a little as he adjusts his arm in its sling. A little stiff, but not completely agonizing, by the looks of it. Either that or he's on some really good drugs. Considering his general coherence, it's more likely the former. "So, uh, yeah. Where did you /see/ this if you don't mind my asking?" The 'don't mind' qualifier sounds like a total formality which he is happy to breeze through.

"S'why I'm here, dude." Don't worry, Kulko: Ashwood will be out of your personal space soon. Setting himself down on a nearby bench, he extricates himself from his temporary armrest and begins assembling his camera with trained ease. Blue eyes narrow as his tongue clicks against the front of his lip: "Low batts," he murmurs. "Sh-i-i-t. Can't keep giving out more of this delightful peep show — and this was up in Morningvale, brah." A variation upon 'bro' that likely signifies respect in some vernacular. Maybe. "Way up north by Atlas Tower, the big H station up there." Blue screen flickers on to reveal the crystal-sharp picture. "Big guns, here." Anti-aircraft, to the trained military eyes. "Here, too, and — " A few seconds later. " — Here, too. But I think thi-i-i-i-s is the one you want, bro, yeah?"

There, right in the center of the screen, distant but identifiable, is a man short but compact, his body muscular and trim, walking like a king between what appears to be an honor guard of Centurions: inspecting the damage to a hospital, perhaps, while interfacing with a gadget that emits waves upon waves of red light. And as the man turns around for one brief moment, Ashwood freezes the frame —

Yeah. That's Abbot all right.

Samuel makes his way out from the inside, humming a little bit to himself for now. Pausing a little bit as he glances around at the people present, but he doesn't say anything to anyone at the moment.

"Son of a bitch," breathes Kulko, still not quite comfortable watching the tape. He stares transfixed for a few long moments. Then he's scrutinizing Oberlin's features. "Suppose we can check it when we get shipside, but I reckon our boy here ain't had time or facilities to do any serious tampering, what with the city bein' in ruins and all."

Fumbling with his empty fingers, Oberlin, making a brief note of Samuel's approach before leaning against a thoroughly slaughtered tree, as Ashwood does his work. He declines whipping out another cigarette despite the arm tic. He leans forward and squints a bit at the camera output, glancing at it openmouthed. "Quality's good." He murmurs, eyes narrowing as he stares at the figure on the screen. "That's — that looks like him." He says, flatly. "Yeah, we'll save this. We should keep that camera safe, too. At all costs."

"No shit, dude." Ashwood's lazy grin grows wider as he hits the power button — but not before gesturing to Samuel in case he wants to see as well. Makes sense just to keep the thing on as long as possible to conserve battery. "Anybody touches my baby, I — well, not me, but Chris — I'll sic him on the perp and see how long it takes for the Crazy Tauran to turn the guy into human jerky."

Samuel pauses a little bit as he sees the gesturing from Ashwood. "What?" he asks, after a few moments of pause, sounding a bit curious. Looking between the others for now, to see how people's reactions to whatever that was. "Something wrong?" Asked after another brief pause.

Kulko looks aside to Samuel at the marine's query. "Mr. Ashwood here's got us a lead on the saboteur back on Cerberus. You and your boys keep him and that camera safe, whatever happens. Got that, Corporal?"

"We can store it for you. If you like." Oberlin says, with a glance back at Samuel and then to Ashwood, after Kulko makes his recommendation of the device's safety. "Just throwing that out there." His voice and expression are fairly taut. "No jerky. Unless. Hm. Have you seen anyone else who just seems like they don't belong? Not just walking with Cylons. People who seem to wander around untouched by the damage?" He glances back to Samuel. "I already heard about what you guys saw, at least."

"You kidding me?" An answer to both of Oberlin's questions, that, as Ashwood shakes his head. The camera is slipped back into its case, held as close to his chest as possible. "Never went out after that," he says. "Marty found some rank shit in impound and, you know." He blows out a deep breath he didn't know he'd been holding. "Figured we'd just smoke our days away until your scouts dropped four Cylons on our doorstep."

Samuel nods a little bit as he hears Kulko's words, "Will do, sir," he offers after a few moments of pause. Looking over at Ashwood again now, studying the man carefully for a few moments.

"Sorry for the mess." Oberlin declares, adding towards Samuel, an oddly-delivered, halting, "Thanks," before glancing back at Ashwood. "Guess it was your lucky day. You know, I think I've revised my approach on dealing with suspicious unidentified people. Don't know if mercy pays."

"Maybe you should re-revise it," is all Ashwood has to say. "Because if we'd done that ourselves, we'd have let your scout team get massacred by Centurions and gone on with our merry lives." The man's smile and subsequent low chuckles reveal the depths of his exhaustion as he leans back against the bench.

Samuel nods a little bit. "One of the cases where finding the middle ground would be a good thing, I guess," he offers, before he studies Ashwood carefully once more.

"You also weren't sitting in a bombed-out coffeeshop spouting off some bullshit about some unnamed god and threatening people with uncertain death and destruction, either." Oberlin smiles tightly towards Ashwood. "You know, one good turn deserves another, right? Wasn't talking about you. "Always wonder about zealots. They spend so much time bitching about their orthodoxy but never bother actually /explaining/ it. Sounds like a lousy way to gain converts if you ask me." An additional aside is shot towards Samuel. "You just hit it on the head. Middle ground. That's where I live."

"No," says Ashwood, fingers rubbing against his textured camera case as he listens to what's being said. "No, that wasn't me." Another slow, lazy smile. "Know what you're saying, though, about zealots. Ever met a libertarian?" The journalists snorts in low laughter. "'Taxes are too high!' 'Government is too big!' Like one of those speaking dolls they sell for 19.95 at three in the mo-r-r-ning. Pull string, spout bullshit. Bullshit, I say."

Samuel grins a little as he listens to the two, "See, that's the good thing about military life. Just do what you're told, and things go well. At least it used to." A brief grimace, before he offers a chuckle at Oberlin's words, "And I thought you lived down here, with the rest of us. At least for now."

"Yeah. Even if it doesn't make any /sense/." Oberlin states sourly towards Samuel. Even if he manages a grin, which adds a pinch of sugar to that proverbial shit sandwich. But he mantains a gaze upon Ashwood here, smirking in spite of himself. He clutches his wounded arm gingerly with his good hand. "So in other words, you're talking about a whole lot of talking. And not a whole lot of listening. At the end, people just start shooting or dropping bombs."

"Yeah, right? And all of us folks who stand up and say 'Give peace a chance' — " murmurs Ashwood. There's no bitterness in his voice, not really: playing cynic is hard, even for him, which is why he does laugh at Samuel's joke. It's supposed to be contagious, right? "But. Well. It's like this: nobody listens to us until — boom." There's no heart in that onomatopoeia, though his fingers do slap gently against the side of his camera case. "Thought it'd be nice to be vindicated ex post genocidus or whatever," says the reporter. "Na-a-a-a-w."

Tisiphone pushes out into the embassy's dead garden from within, lighting a cigarette as she walks. Her red bandana's looped twice around her wrist instead of covering her hair, the stubbly, disheveled strands gone nearly white from the relentless Leonis sun. She looks up as she exhales the first lungful, steps faltering as she sees who lies ahead.

Samuel nods a little bit as he hears that, frowning a little. He doesn't add to the conversation at the moment, but looks around, offering a nod to Tisiphone as he notices her.

"Some people would read that as 'naive.' Mind you, it may be right." Oberlin continues, clicking his tongue wordlessly afterwards at Ashwood, as he draws in a shallow breath and elaborates, "The trick to diplomacy usually involves trying to say everything to everyone at once. Even if it's not exactly what they want to hear. One hundred percent. Just, you know, the middle ground. How about 'I can see where you're coming from, this is what needs to change. And this is what we can do.'" Snickering, he shakes his head. "A little too late for a career change to the Colonial Diplomatic Corps. But, yeah. I suppose we understand why nukes are bad. Wonder what they're going to do with this wreck of a planet. Let alone twelve of them." After waving a hand, he wheels about to study Tisiphone, tripped by Samuel's reaction to her presence. An eyebrow raises.

"World's biggest chain of strip clubs," Ashwood deadpans. "Starring model number Three-Six-Dee as in 'Check out those titanium jugs.'" The fingers of his free hand run through his ragged blond hair as he props his left thigh onto his right knee. And to Tisiphone? "He-e-e-y." Say hello to another one-syllable word stretched into four or five as, having peeked through the corner of his eye, Ashwood gestures to the bench beside him. "I'd like my revolver back when you get a chance." A private, knowing, perhaps even infuriating smile is shot the pilot's way.

Tisiphone gives a mute nod of greeting to Samuel before her eyes sweep restlessly over the withered brown garden. The cigarette bobs at the corner of her mouth, then stills abruptly as her gaze comes around to find Oberlin looking her way. "How's your arm, Sir?" Flat words, shuttered expression. The sudden stillness is just as suddenly broken out of as she stalks for the wrought-iron bench, settling at the opposite end of it from Ashwood. "Traded it for a pack of menthols," she says, without looking at him. "Said it wasn't worth a real pack."

"Or," Ashwood interjects quite pleasantly, "you didn't have the balls to pull the trigger."

Samuel looks about to say something, but he pauses a bit as he looks between the other three for a few moments. Staying quiet for now, as he studies all of them.

"It feels like it got shot with a Cylon autocannon. Which is a really unpleasant experience, I've learned." Oberlin tays towards Tisiphone with less sarcasm than one might expect coloring these words. "But I'll live. I think. Thanks." His thin smile is shot at the woman, and he rounds on Ashwood and Samuel again. Back to Ashwood. "I don't want to know. Do I?"

Blue eyes drift over to Oberlin as a vaguely amused expression crosses the reporter's face. "Not really, man. Well — " Back to Tisiphone, then past Samuel before returning to Oberlin. "Naw," he concludes. "Not really."

"There were no bullets in it, jackass," Tisiphone replies to Ashwood, her words as sweet and biting as strychnine-laced treacle. There's a tight little grin flicked at him, showing more teeth than qualifies as 'friendly', before she hooks her heels at the edge of the bench and draws her knees to her chest. She stretches her arms out across her knees, cigarette dangling negligently between two fingers. "I thought Stephen was out here." Which is not the case, obviously. "You finally get a look at that videotape?"

Samuel shakes his head a little bit as he looks between Tisiphone and Ashwood, shaking his head a bit. "He was," he offers to the pilot, before he shrugs a little bit, going back to being quiet.

"Check that. Now I /know/ I don't want to know." Oberlin says, in the most laconic of tones he can possibly muster. Pressing himself away from the tree he is half-leaning against, he looks up at the ruined sky and then stands straight, addressing the trio. "Saw it, allright. I'm not sure I'm in the 'making sense' stage just yet."

"No bullets?" Toothy smile is met with that trademark lazy grin. "Fancy that. But I bet you checked before you pulled the trigger," says Colin. She might have — and that's all he needs to deliver the sentence like the fact he suspects it is. "Which means at the end of the day you still think you've got some chance of getting off this godsforsaken rock. Q. E. D." A little shrug. "And that's the truth, brah, isn't it? But you know what? I'll tell you something: I'd be just fine not getting to that stage at all. I send Marty and the others off this planet safely, man, that's my win." His smile grows wistful, almost dreamy; then: "Got a smoke?" This, to nobody in particular.

"Aren't /you/ just the little wunderkind genius," Tisiphone mutters, /still/ not looking over at Ashwood, puffing on her cigarette as if she's somehow enacting some sort of vengeance upon him by her smoking. The cherry flares up to hellfire orange. "Yeah. Yeah, here," she says, frowning down at her pocket. Her rumpled packs of smokes is drawn out, along with a few loops of her prayer-beads; they get stuffed back in before she tosses the back over at him, a little harder than is strictly necessary. At least it's not thrown at his face, right? Right. As soon as that's handled, her eyes lift back to Oberlin. It's hard to study someone while trying to avoid their eye contact, but she's trying. "He told you about the one who looked like the pilot I flew with? Who remembered me?"

Oberlin's not offering, really. Not that he /consciously/ makes a gesture of offering or denying, he just lets Tisiphone fork it over. He puffs out a breath and turns towards Ashwood, offering the man a terse smile. "Don't we all. And then, where, oh where do we go next?" That is left uncommented on, in the face of Tisiphone's question. He snaps to her and nods, his lips drawn tightly. "He did. Go on."

Samuel frowns a bit as he listens to this, looking a little distressed about the part about people looking like people they know from before. Shaking his head a little bit, as he glances around again. Expression quite thoughtful for now.

Ashwood, his eyes closed, doesn't see the pack of cigarettes en route for a head-on collision with his thigh. The pack ricochets off torn jeans to rest on the dirt- and gravel-covered ground, and so strong is the lure of tobacco that he abandons his camera for the three brief seconds it takes him to bend and grab it. Another cigarette is filched from the pack before he waves it Samuel's way, holding it out like civilized men are supposed to do. It's easy to be generous when it's not your property you're offering, isn't it? As for Oberlin's question, the answer won't be coming from Ashwood's direction: no words at all, in fact, save the sharp shink of a lighter going to work.

Tisiphone looks a bit like she'd been hoping the response would be a nod from Oberlin, and then a rapid shift to some other topic. When she's asked to /elaborate/, she shifts restlessly and spends a long while studying her cigarette as she rolls it back and forth between her fingers. No answers seem forthcoming from the jittery ribbons of smoke, however, and so she finally starts talking again. "Wasn't- a lot else. He was shot in the neck. Bled out pretty quick. He talked about himself or- or Salt, or whatever- in second person. Said Salt was defective. That he was purged, just like someone else was going to be purged. Said he reminded me of someone. Then he died." From the look on her face, he died about two dozen words too late. "I went back to the spot a couple days later. He'd been dragged off. Centurion tracks."

That's Lt. Oberlin. He'll give you exactly what you ask for, but unthinkingly bundle it with something one definitely did not. Tisiphone is the unlucky recipient here. Of the question. His good arm curls up under his immobilized one, leaning forward and glancing intently at the woman. "That's — first of all. 'Defective?' Someone else? Wait a minute, here. Either someone was playing you or this is important. Somehow. And Centurions were definitely involved. Sort of like what Lt. Kulko told me about our charming mutual friend 'Ms. Poole.'" And now he finally lets something slip. "Shit. And we /didn't/ shoot her. I let her go. And now who knows how many of her are wandering around this city capping survivors." His attention visibly focuses over towards Ashwood, and then Samuel.

Samuel shakes his head a little at the offer of the cigarettes. Not the right moment for that, now. Frowning at the mention of the Poole woman. "Complicates stuff a bit," he offers, absently. Glancing between the others for a few moments.

"So at the very least, Cylons have figured out cloning." Ashwood shrugs lightly, letting smoke coil about his tongue before a quick puff sends it away from his face. Wisps of grey thread into the garden's dying brown, brushing lightly against the trees. "I don't know." Puff-puff. "Ma-a-a-a-aybe they raided some DNA storage somewhere, you think? That's Chris' theory, the crazy frak." Another faint smile. "It's all the government, collecting our genetic material for 'national security,' and — " Ashwood hands the pack back to Tisiphone with his habitual chuckle. "Wa-a-a-y too groovy for me to even think about, brah, that shit. For all I know there's another me out there, or another you, or another you, or another her." Cigarette hand points from Oberlin to Samuel to Tisiphone before looping 'round and 'round his ear, smoke spiraling 'round and 'round all the while. "Almost makes me wish we'd stayed on Battlestar Chamalla back there, if you hear me."

"Maybe he was just frakking with my head." There's a tense shrug of sunburned shoulders to accompany Tisiphone's words. She leaves her cigarette dangling at the corner of her mouth, arms stretched out across her knees again, eyes focussed on her fingers as they curl, tighten, then slowly loosen again. "Worked, right?" More humourless words have not been spoken. "But it's what he said." Her fingers tick on empty air as she recounts off the points in her mind. "Salt was purged. He was defective, just like someone else- he didn't say /who/- was defective." Her finger ticks again, on a faltering moment of silence. Then, on the next tick, she speaks again. "And he said I reminded him of someone, just as he died. Clones, maybe, but- they're getting information back and forth with eachother."

"Maybe. Maybe." The repeat of this observation on Oberlin's part could be directed towards Tisiphone. Or Ashwood. Or both, considering how he looks between the two. "What'd you remember about Salt? Why'd he be 'defective,' anyway?" Now his conversation gets more specific. Animated. He turns his hand upwards and gestures away, again glancing to Samuel as well, maybe for input, or something else. "And /someone else/. Why would he tell you this? Or any of this?" He scratches at his chin and cups his fingers underneath it as his eyes narrows. "Salt. Salt." He sounds like he's drawing a blank, here.

Which is a good opportunity to turn to Ashwood. "Maybe." He repeats. "Thing being? If I were going to make an infiltrator, an artifically grown human plant? I'd try to have more than one or two models. Mass production is a key givaway. Unless they /want/ to be discovered."

Samuel looks a bit lost in thought for a few moments, "Probably just frakking with our brains. But perhaps making a number of them, and having small differences between them. Like people looking similar to other people?" At Ashwood's words, Sam can't hold back a grin, "Another you? Sounds scary…"

"Beyond me, man." Ashwood hooks his arms over the back of the bench, elbows digging into splintered wood without eliciting a sound. Cigarette smolders darkly beneath the cloudy sky. "Me, I'm wondering what kind of algorithm the Cylons used to pick a name like S-a-a-a-alt." Even he understands levity has no place in this current discussion, but it's incumbent upon him to try, right? "And you know it, dude." Blue eyes flick over to Samuel approvingly. "Too of this sizzle and you won't need Cylons to make the sun go nova." A brief sss escapes his mouth as, having licked the tip of his finger, he sets it his toned bicep.

"Wasn't a matter of looking /similar/ to Lieutenant Shaker. It was /him/." The pointed words are jabbed at Samuel before Tisiphone looks away, dragging hard on her cigarette. It's a bit resentful, the look she turns on Oberlin, next. Couldn't they talk about the weather, instead? Maybe Kythera had a Pyramid team… "I thought he was a good man." Which she grins some terrible rictus of a grin at, as the words scrape out, because it's either black mirth or tears. "He was- he- loved to fly. He was- just- calm. We only flew a couple times together, but it was always good knowing he was there. You tell /me/ how that's defective, man. Beats the frak out of me."

As Ashwood goes through his little litany, Oberlin's eyes drift from one side to another and then loll over to center on the man. And then they roll upwards. Just a little. "Salt was a callsign. At least I can answer /that/." he shakes his head and has, well, nothing. "Maybe defective by their standards is doing something right." Is all he says. He doesn't dig further for the moment, clearly preoccupied by something.

Ashwood tugs deeply at his cigarette, eyes tearing slightly as acrid smoke finally makes its presence felt. "Doing something right," Ashwood repeats, shaking his head. "Fra-a-a-a-k, it's like winning a fight with a ten-year-old kid once you put it like that, brah. Hell, next to all the bombs? Chris looks like a nice and cuddly dude." With an exhausted sigh, he kicks at a pile of dead leaves, his sneaker heels dragging loudly against gravel. "Think anybody'll believe your story even with this tape?" Not if. Ever the optimist. "Because I hear this business about clones and Cylons who look like us and if I hadn't seen it for myself, man? I'd think it came from one of Frankie's custom 'campaigns' or whatever they're called. 'Missions.'"

Tisiphone pushes up to her feet and stuffs her cigarette pack back down into her pocket with the thin clatterclick of bone beads. She doesn't have much left of her original cargo, but the prayer-beads will need to be pried from her cold, dead fingers. She pulls the last drag away from the filter, drops the butt and grinds it out under her booted toe. "None of it even answers why they haven't just-" She peters out, glancing sidelong to Ashwood as she reconsiders her words. "Yeah. Anyway," she finishes, lamely, slouching her hands down into her pockets.

Samuel just shrugs now, keeping silent as he considers all of this. Looking a bit lost in thought as he glances around the area for the moment.

"Somebody just asked the big question." Oberlin finally cuts in with a light, sing-song voice, remaining perfectly still, otherwise. And then he glances straight at Tisiphone. Congratulations!

"Ever seen a cat frak with a mouse?" wonders Ashwood, shaking his head as he pushes himself up from the bench. "Or a prick of a fifteen-year-old pulling the wings off a fly? Just like that. Cocky bastards." And that's answer enough for him, but of course he can't leave it there. For when he reaches the door, camera case resting gently against the doorframe, he turns back with a half-hearted grin. "We've still got bullets," the man offers. "And I don't know about you guys, but I'll be damned if I let them get us before we use them all. A-a-a-nyway. Marty's probably wondering where I got myself off too. Pardon the eavesdropping from earlier — I promise I didn't hear the part where you confessed to being a Cylon." And with one last tired laugh he shuts the door behind him, footsteps dying before a falling leaf hits deck.

A Winner Is Tisiphone! She doesn't look too happy with the prize. There's a sullen frown aimed at the embassy door as it shuts behind Ashwood, and her shoulders hunch together a bit as she looks down at the dead grass crushed beneath her bootsoles. "It's not arrogance that makes someone toy with a person," she says. "It's- spite, or mean-spiritedness, or black-heartedness, or- or /evil/, or a shitton of things we shouldn't even be using to /describe/ a frakking Cylon." Yet they're what seem to fit. "If this is all just an elaborate cat-and-mouse…" She trails off, shrugging again, giving Oberlin and Samuel an almost-flippantly hopeless smile.

Samuel nods a little bit as he hears what's being said. "I'll head back inside for now…" he offers after a few moments of pause, starting for the door again. "Be safe," is what he says to the others.

"It can be a garden variety of these things." Oberlin states as he watches the others move off, almost wordlessly. With that, he slumps on down against the tree and rests his ruined arm limp upon his lap, sighing. "I don't know that human or machine /either/ are capable of doing something without reason. No matter how shitty. But that makes me think. That woman just kept talking about a god. God. Unnamed. Generic. Smell the religious angle."

Tisiphone's shoulders tighten further. She balances carefully on her heels, rocking ever-so-slightly back and forth. "Jesse was talking about that," she says. "A little. We haven't had a lot of time to talk yet." Go go Team Sagittaron, brooding over religious significances. "Something about a- cult? of Athena. Gorgon's symbol on the floor. The- woman we found called us heretics just before Stephen shot her. Which Lord are they beholden to? Ananke's pre-pregenitive. Maybe one of the-" She frowns harder, shakes her head at her own line of thought.

"No no no. I mean, maybe, but if there's a connection to the Athena cult it is indirect or antagonistic. The MolGen facility was clearly run by them. And clearly spoke of Athena by name. There were some differences." Oberlin leans forward excitedly. "Uh. You realize that I'm sort of picking and choosing with that 'classified' nonsense down here, right? We're putting our heads together because right now, I think everyone needs to know what it is we are facing. And it's not like /I/ have any answers." He adds, sourly as he stares out towards the fading sky. "She said something similar to us — our version of the 'Ms. Poole' creature." He pauses. "Wait. I see what you're saying. Maybe. This is all connected somehow. It /has/ to be."

"You've got Ananke right at the middle of everything, okay? Spinning creation out, pulling it back in, remaking it. Over and over again. The Lords and Ladies are- they're, like…" Tisiphone hesitates mightily here, scratching at one of the metal charms on her cuff. "Depending who you ask, what you read," she begins, carefully distancing herself, "they're third-string divinities. Ananke and her consort threw out a whole family what begat the Titans what begat the Lords. Back the family tree up from where the Colonies choose to worship-" Is there a touch of scorn, there? Maybe. "-and there's a whole slew of… those who don't earn a place on altars anymore. Maybe it's /there/ they're coming from."

"Oh, how I love metaphor." Oberlin states at this. "We /have/ whatever Ananke is, at this point. Ms. Congeniality seemed content to warn us away from it. But again - talk about specific targets. Should have dragged a Centurion back into that place just to see what it'd do." Still, he more or less throttles back, listening. "So this whole thing can be seen as some sort of metaphysical family feud." And he sputters out some ill-timed laughter, throwing his head back, slightly.

"As above, so below, right?" The Intelligence Officer laughs, and Tisiphone just gives a crooked and desperately mirthless grin. She looks up at the sky, rubbing slowly at the disheveled, sunshine-whitened hair at the back of her scalp. "Whose likeness are they made in? Figure that out, maybe we'll figure out a whole bunch more. It's-" She chuckles once, tightly. "-what I'm holding to, anyway."

"That's a more classy way of saying 'stupid is as stupid does.'" Oberlin says, ruefully, the laughter fading. "Gods can fight it out amongst each other to their divine hearts' content. Just leave /us/ out of it." He picks up a chunk of rubble with his good arm and idly throws it off to the side. He, too, looks on up at the sky himself. "Maybe these people just looked at the infinite and went insane. I know /I/ would."

"A more classy way of saying, 'Remember just who we're placing our divine hopes in', maybe," Tisiphone counter-offers. She links both her hands together behind her neck, still staring off into the sky. "Could be?" she says, at length. "You know there's a whole school of thought related to religious significances found in the deep digits of pi? Read up on it when I was in Caprica City. Maybe they got- wound up in something like that. Twisted in too tight on this one tiny idea. Lost their perspective. Maybe it's easier to consider than divine wrath."

"I liked my way better." Oberlin notes quickly, with a wave of his right hand as he slowly staggers to his feet, his voice dull. "But I think a publisher would rather quote you than quote me in this case. Right now, I wonder what all these people are thinking." He gestures towards the house. "Including the ones I don't know. I wonder what they're thinking about all of this. What's the significance of fifty billion?"

"Annihilation," Tisiphone says, keeping the tone deliberately light by throwing her arms out for a stretch, then flopping them down to her sides. "Utter annihilation and overwhelming hatred." She seems to have made her mind up on it, at least. "But- frakked if I'm gonna crawl back into my own head and chew that over again right now. Gonna grab a bite while my stomach's willing. Get the door for you?" She starts for the exit, turning around to walk backwards, looking back at Oberlin.

"It's no fun to throw out snappy riddles when you already know the /answer./" Oberlin chides. It sounds as though he is generally kidding, although his expression is carefully composed. Throwing another rock, he simply shakes his head and remains stuck against that tree. "Fifty Billion's a number you notice when it's gone. I think I'm going to stay here for a bit. Don't know when I'll get a chance to do this again." He simply waves that same hand, not really watching her go.

There's the sound of a soft, scratchy chuckle trailing along with Tisiphone's long-legged stride. "Follow your bliss when you can find it, Sir. Or- whatever's passing for it, down here." The heavy embassy doors creak as they're opened. A long pause follows, before the sound of them closing again, leaving Oberlin to his thoughts.

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