PHD #410: Matters of Portents, or No Importance
Matters of Portents, or No Importance
Summary: McQueen, Cidra and Sofia wax about recent events in the ancient ship. Few conclusions are reached, but it's done in style.
Date: 12 Apr 2042 AE
Related Logs: None directly, though there are call-backs and musing.
Cidra McQueen Sofia 
Ancient Ship - Midship - Battlestar Cerberus
Stored in the Starboard Hangar deck is a transport vessel - smaller than a craft like the Elpis but clearly designed for long-term travel. It takes up a good portion of the hangar by itself, and its entry is under guard 24/7 by Marine personnel. It's oddly shaped - seemingly built along more curves and gentle lines than standard ship design, and has a decidedly 'alien' quality to it. Neither much like any comparable human ship, or anything the Cylons traffic in. It's shape calls to mind a whale more than anything else, a curved 'tail' at one end and round 'head' at the other, elongated body with a fat 'belly' of a mid-section. There's an entrance of sorts in the 'tail' section with a walk-way rigged to make going in easy enough. From its size, it was originally made for small ships such as shuttles - not people - to walk through. The room one enters into is more a 'foyer,' or some other communal gathering place, than a traditional hangar. The ceiling is domed and rounded over head. The curve of the 'whale's' 'tail.' A large entry foyer, or common area. The 'floor' is bare, though there are openings in the walls. Alcoves. Thirteen of them. While there is an arched doorway at the opposite end of the room, this one made for people, but it's likewise guarded and those without clearance aren't allowed to pass. The walls are covered in thirteen large mural-like paintings. Almost more akin to cave paintings than anything else. Each positioned over the thirteen small alcoves with benches where one could sit. Twelve of those might be familiar to those learned in Colonial scripture, or just the lore of their own colony. A thirteenth, however, would not be a thing any of them have encountered before in any recognizable way.
Post-Holocaust Day: #410

Cidra is in her flight suit, albeit with it unzipped down the front, helmet and flight gloves off. She looks as if she's just come out of the cockpit but not particularly bothered to change. She is kneeling. Before the alcove with the symbol of the twinned faces, head bowed, lips moving in silent but fervent prayer.

Since his last disastrous attempt at a combat mission, a battered McQueen has been less than a regular fixture on the flight deck or in the hangar bay, even after he was released from medical. In the ship's regular-issue baggy sweats, he walks a bit stiffly but without a pronounced limp, as he ambles deeper into the belly of the ship. His hands are balled into loose fists and sloppily stuffed into the pockets of his sweats.

The echo of footsteps makes Cidra pause in her silent recitation. Head coming up and turning, as if a little startled. McQueen is spotted. She idly runs her thumb over the prayer beads twined around her right hand, watching him for a beat. "Queenie. You still do not walk so easy."

"They spent the better part of two days pulling little bits o' cockpit out of my rotten hide." McQueen observes glibly as he shuffles further inside the ship, and his face crinkles into something resembling a bemused look, tightening with every step until he's maybe a good ten feet away from her. His head cranes up towards the icons on the wall, eyes half-focused. "I'll be dancing like a spastic donkey again in no time."

"So rotten, is it?" Cidra asks with a little hint of dry humor. Glib herself. "If you are going bad from within you have larger concerns than bits of cockpit." More seriously she adds, "Just listen to Medical and get yourself whole so you can be back on the line soon enough. You are missed out there. Every hand on a stick is in these times."

"Isn't the half of it, Toast." McQueen half-mumbles, half-snorts as he takes another stiff, tentative step inside the chamber. "Oh, I'm doing my part. P.T. Sleep. Boring. I think that nurse was half-relieved that she could kick my arse out to make room for the Mystery Plague. But I know what you mean. What's it like out there?"

Cidra is kneeling on the floor of the ancient ship's foyer, before the alcove with the split twin 'faces' mural crudely painted over it. Though her head is turned away from private contemplation at present, toward McQueen. "'Mystery plague.' Is that how they are terming it now? I was down with it for a week, myself. Though I fared better than most. I pray for Drips tonight. Among…many other matters. Out there?" A curious pause. "How do you mean? There is much afoot on the ship at present, and little of it good. The sickness. The rumors of personnel being taken with little reason aboard the Areion for questioning in some skinjob 'hunt.' And Gemenon…" A pause. "Have you heard news of the recon, Queenie? At this juncture, I do figure all have."

For some odd reason? Sofia's proven remarkably resilient to the plague. Maybe it's from dating a Deckie and a Pilot both in her history? Engineers repel cooties by making them run screaming? Who knows? Sofia's gotten some time to look around here, peering here and there. She's looking for something perhaps. She wrinkles her nose. She sighs softly at the mention of the hunt and looks pained. "Oh um. Sorry. Is this a sensitive conversation?" Fidget. She looks over her shoulder.

"Oh. You mean the team-building exercise. Or witch-hunts. Funny how you can spin a thing with words, yeh?" McQueen mumbles, his face lined and showing heavy creases. His wrist half-disappears under the billowy folds of sweatshirt sleeve as he jerks his thumb over his shoulder. "Yeah. I've heard a bit. Tryin' to keep myself busy. And poking my nose where it doesn't belong, sure." At Sofia's entrance into the conversation, his head darts around a bit to study said cootie-free engineer. "Sensitive? I mean, I'm not talking about feelings yet. Or where the fat man touched me. I can warn you before we get to that part, though." He coughs and then adds as an aside, "Shouldn't need to ask permission - this ship belongs to all of us, after all."

"Witch-hunts. Perhaps." Cidra's own tone is dark, and uncertain, on the matter. "If there is truly a way to suss out the abominations among us, my question is why it was not used before now. To the better of us all." At Sofia's entrance she finally bothers to stand, posture straightening. "Wolfe. A fair day upon you. Sensitive?" A wry shake of her head. "Hardly. Not when all the Fleet knows the same as the rest of us of that which we talk. And it does, yes." She takes a deep breath, gazing around the environs of the foyer. "I always expect to find…I am not sure. Something more when I come here. I am not sure I ever find it. But there is a peace here. Or…a sense that we are not the only ones who have journeyed hard, at least."

"Never hurts to check," Sofia admits. "I'm not exactly off the list of suspicious people," This seems to sadden her. "I guess people didn't learn much from Coll's death." Exactly what happens when one jumps at skinjobs that might not be there. She smiles faintly at McQueen and Cidra. "Hah… um." She rubs the back of her head. "I just wanted to check. It's rude not to at least," If not to avoid the whole suspicion thing. She shrugs. "Their command puzzles me," She admits. "Like… when he tore the picture off the wall. I guess I can understand but-" A headshake. The Memorial Wall is nigh sancrosanct! She looks around and takes a deep breath. She considers Cidra's words, looking thoughtful. The CAG has a way of doing that. "Lots of secrets and memories. That's for sure." She nods. "I just … wanted to see for a bit."

"Well. Call me suspicious of anyone who offers a too-easy, handwavey, magic-wand of a bloody solution, then." McQueen weighs in on — well, something. "And in any case, the way they're going about these things doesn't exactly do wonders for morale. But that's way above my pay grade, no?" Shrugging languidly, he turns to study Sofia. "I think I understand them. Not that it makes a difference."

"Or they learned a lesson from it too well." Cidra's tone is dark at mention of Coll, and touched with a suspicion she does not bother to conceal. "We know not what she was, in truth. I pray we never shall, for knowing would mean seeing her face in the enemy." But she doesn't go further down that road. "Understand, Queenie? How do you mean?"

Sofia nods at Cidra. "Could be." She seems to think the CAG is completely and utterly wise. She nods at McQueen. "Mine too. I think I've got plenty to do, making sure the ECMs are happy," She remarks quietly. She seems to take purpose and pride in it. She takes a deep breath and kneels near a little spot to peer. "I think you're both right."

"Heh. Heh heh heh. One thing that all the years of my life've taught me is that nobody learns something until they pay a horrible price for that knowledge. 'Swhy you have so many stories of figures lost in history that've gone through ridiculous trials that make even the garbage we're dealing with now seem mundane." McQueen observes, bringing a pair of weathered fingers to cup his chin, splayed slightly. "Well, at least you've a job to keep you busy." He offers as an aside to Sofia. "An important one at that." He sounds slightly envious. Looking between the two women, his head whips back towards Cidra. "And yeh, I understand 'em, Toast. It feels like, I — don't quite know how to word it. Like they've painted themselves into a corner. It's not how you fight an enemy that could be anywhere and everywhere at once."

"The abominations could be anywhere and everywhere, Queenie. I find their methods deplorable, but that does not change the central danger that faces us all," Cidra says. A small nod to Sofia. "Duty is a blessing, Wolfe. Gives us reason to keep on, when all else is lost. But we are not so lost yet. What I pray for today is foresight to see where we might go. You have heard the reports of Gemenon?" This she asks McQueen. "You must have. They are everywhere, and to all ears."

Sofia is quiet. She listens to the two, and tilts her head. "You don't-" She looks baffled. "Gods, I'm behind on everything," Her eyes half-close and her head droops. She looks thoughtful. "I am grateful for it. But it makes me wonder, this whole skinjob thing." She glances down. "Rumors spread pretty fast. Almost as good as intel," She looks thoughtful. "I'll ask for those things too," She seems to figure Cidra's got a good idea. For now, Sofia runs her hands over a small panel. "Have you seen much of this ship? I don't mind talking about the skinjobs but…"

"And what happens if they slip?" McQueen counters. "Before we get to Gemenon, I really have to ask that. We are the Fleet, we do our jobs without hesitation, of course. But ask yourself this if nothing else, sir?" Finally there's a bit of deference towards Cidra, whether he's in uniform or not, his hands turning upwards. "We're thousands of people now. Not hundreds of thousands (most likely), not millions. Can we really afford to start crackin' heads? I don't think it will come to that, but I've already heard enough moaning and groaning to make me wonder." Letting the issue drop for now, he finally moves on to Gemenon. "Yeh. I've heard. Quite a bit, actually. /Someone/ wants us to go there. I don't make the decisions, though."

Sofia's change-of-subject finally registers with the man. "Mm, I spend a deal of time, here. This ship's a gift, I think. And a riddle."

"Something is driving us toward there. The question is what. Or whether something ill for us all awaits us there. I have been thinking much of late of the auspices, Queenie. The sacrifice of the cow enacted by our priestess at the launch of this vessel…but, ah. You were upon Picon then, were you not? I at times forget you are in fact a foundling, you have been with us so long. As for the Areion…as I said, I deplore their methods. They do our people at large no good and spread much fear. I just pray we find those spies among us, by better means, before they strike at our hearts." A pause. As to the ship. "I have ventured into parts of it. It is a strange place. Sad, in many ways. All that died here. Eerie in places. Yet I come here to pray, and it feels as well done as in the chapel."

Sofia again, is an audience. She tilts her head. She offers quietly to Cidra, "I get the feeling they don't think much of us on the whole. Their deck crew was really nice to me but … it's that normal fleet personnel versus special spooks…" She's not got it quite right, but seems to get an inkling. "I wonder if it's healthy for them," This whole thing. She shrugs. "I hope so too." She nods at Cidra. "Yeah? I might go see that part then. Ever since Gemenon." Something about the scene touched Sofia. Was it seeing Eleven again? It's a strange relationship, that. "Be well, you guys. I think I'll see what I see before I go back on shift. We might have to test some of the new stuff soon," She wrinkles her nose. "Before … people need it to fight." She seems worried. She waves and starts off, rattled, thoughtful. It's a lot to think on.

"It probably isn't healthy. But — I'm glad the two of you still recognize this. Sometimes I think what's left of my brain is slowly leaking out of my ears and I'm bloody well going /mad/." McQueen utters, plainly. "And — well, I saw plenty of bad omens on Picon. Don't know if I'd really want to talk about them /now/. They've already served their purpose." Another series of steps inside and he shrugs in a particularly hapless manner. "And yeh, Major. They all died in here. They'd be dead by now anyway, though. I'm thankful for the gift they left behind."

McQueen finally stops, falling silent and just turns his head after Sofia, eyes narrowing, visibly puzzling out something.

"Be well, Wolfe. Gods walk with you," Cidra bids to Sofia in parting. Her gaze goes to McQueen, then. Blue eyes intent. "Did you now? What omens did you see?" She asks it soft. In near a whisper. "I keep coming back to a conversation I had with…a friend, I suppose. Before the worlds fell. After I saw the darkness in this ship's auspices. He said to me,

"Be well, Wolfe. Gods walk with you," Cidra bids to Sofia in parting. Her gaze goes to McQueen, then. Blue eyes intent. "Did you now? What omens did you see?" She asks it soft. In near a whisper. "I keep coming back to a conversation I had with…a friend, I suppose. Before the worlds fell. After I saw the darkness in this ship's auspices. He said to me, 'Omens are everywhere if you go looking for them.'" Her lips twitch up in a faint smirk. "He was not of the Faiths, but I think he was more right than he intended to be. There *are* omens everywhere. They haunt us. Perhaps like the ghosts upon this ship. Even if we do not heed them, they mark our steps. And I wonder what steps are being marked on our path at this moment."

"Keep your chin up, yeh?" is directed towards the departing Sofia. A few moments later and whatever McQueen is puzzling out is banished and he languidly turns to study the older woman again. His own pale eyes affix on her. "Well, your friend was right about the omens. We've been over this, though. The Gods don't dazzle us with bright, trippy visions and creatures out of the Scrolls on a regular basis because they don't need to be flashy necessarily. Too much effort. But. Yeah, you asked, so.." Another footstep. "The omens themselves told me there's something wonderful permeating the universe. And something dark and terrible. I don't even know if it was the Cylons. Maybe something — something even /worse/ than the Cylons." He finishes, flatly.

"The gods are loving and terrible. They create and destroy, and we are both their children and their pawns. I wonder at times if we survived for a reason, Queenie. Or if we are all cursed. And this is punishment for our sins…" Cidra goes quiet as McQueen talks of his omens. A touch of disbelief in her expression. "What could be worse than the Cylons? They murdered us by the billions, destroyed our homes. Nothing could scarce do worse to us than that."

"No argument there, 'cept applying human values to them is a fool's errand. They're so much — bigger." McQueen fumbles for the word before turning to study another one of the alcoves idly. "Which brings me to a point. There's something bigger out there than all of us. And the Cylons have loosed it. And they're going to be bloody sorry. The more time passes, the more I come to know but not understand. More — I don't know more than that. That's just what I saw."

"Loosed it?" This puzzles Cidra. "Do you speak of the gods again, Queenie? No. That cannot be it. The gods, as you are so fond of saying, are beyond us. *Well* beyond the Cylons. What is it you think the abominations have loosed?"

"If I knew specifics or understood what I saw I'd be able to quantify it." McQueen says after a weighty pause, shaking his head slowly and taking a few paces back the way he came. "No. Not the Gods. /They/ don't need loosing. They're everywhere, Toast. No, I don't know exactly what it is is. Can't come to me for dry, granular data. Can ask the doctor from the Areion for that." He winks, but it's nigh-mirthless. "Tell me something. Do you have any thoughts, any belief as to why these people came here? Fled their home on Kobol? What drove them here? What were they fleeing?"

"The Scriptures speak of a great calamity. That they tribes fled, and were warned that a return to Kobol would be paid in blood," Cidra says. "It could be anything, truly. Plague. Environmental disaster. War and genocide, as we fled. I think the latter very likely, in truth. All this has happened before after all…What is it you think, Queenie?"

"But it doesn't have to ever happen again? Heh. Well, I s'pose that it'd be naive to think we already /paid/, Boss." McQueen mutters, accompanied by a shred of grim levity. But one could take all the murder and collateral damage that's gone on as payment. But I think there's more to it than that. The Serpent's on the loose, and it's going to damn well take everything we can muster to bash its bloody head in. Otherwise this will never stop. "

He hastily amends, "The serpent isn't just a tangible, material thing. But it also is."

"The Serpent…" Cidra repeats the term in that soft, thoughtful way. "It is associated with Athena, you know. The symbol of the serpent. And of Eternal Return. Ever coiling, ever round. Is it such an evil thing, you think, Queenie? Or is it merely fate? You cannot outrun the Fates. This I believe."

"Well, /that/ serpent. That's the problem with symbols. There's always more than one and if there were an easy way to interpret them, Sister Karthasi'd be out of a job and have taken up Pyramid years ago. No. You can't stop the Fates, but you can choose how you meet them, and look /damn/ good while doing it, Toast. /Damn/ good. Just remember that when they're knocking at your door. For posterity's sake, if nothing else." He shakes his head, from one side to the other. "No, the Serpent. Just think back to the Serpent and the sparrow. The one that was just too damn fast and clever for her greedy jaws to catch. The Cylons are about to figure out what happens when one bites off more than one can chew." He whistles a simple, tuneless whistle. "Just remember that what I said when we get to Gemenon, Toast. Don't doubt."

"In style. Make enough of a loud, messy noise when you are going out that the Gods themselves take notice." Cidra grins that faint hint of a grin at McQueen. "So you said to me once. Myself and Money Shot, a life time ago. Well, the Fates caught up with her, and in a worse way than she deserved, gods mercies upon her." All traces of a smile fade at that. "But I do not feel the pull of Fate upon me yet, Queenie. Nor do you, I pray. For as I told you then, in my less grand state of sobriety, I love you all. Since I wed I think I think I have not loved anything so deeply and so well as I do the me and women I fly with here and now. The serpent, we shall meet together. Whatever form it takes, if its symbol comes in that of our enemy."

"Oh. I said that. Right, well, It doesn't have to be messy. Remember, style and finesse over volume, boss." McQueen quips, having regained his often-ineffable sense of good humor, grinning right back at the CAG. "We learn as we go. And — well, Money wrote her own end. I won't judge her like some did. That was her choice." Allright, here too, the grin fades somewhat. But it's more serious than somber, really. "And I have some work to do, yet. I'm still figuring out what that is. Just remember one thing. Whatever happens? I've come to love you all too, as I loved flying with the Jotun, and everyone aboard that doomed station. And everyone aboard the /Corvus./ And — well, for what it's worth, remember. I'm here to help. Whether we face Cylon or — worse. The dark things that hide deep within the darkness of the universe. We'll face them together."

"I understand what she did. She heard her song, and answered the call of it. I understand too well…" Cidra inhales long, and lets it out in a slow exhale. "Well. We are both still flying, you and I. And as I say, Queenie. I love you all, for I have nothing left in the worlds but the lot of you. And if this is the end of me, there are none I would rather share it with than each of you." That said, she straightens, and leans forward to kiss him. It's an impulsive gesture, and full on the lips, albeit it's not a romantic one. There's a hint of ceremony to it, and formality.

Formality or not, McQueen's response is peculiar and spontaneous, as he throws his head back and laughs. Not mocking, but celebratory, the noise of it disturbs the almost oppresive solemnity which hangs over the discarded husk of the abandoned ship. He throws his arms about her shoulders briefly and pulls her head to his shoulder once and then retreats, smirking. "To the end, then. Let me tell you a secret though." His arms drop to his sides. "There are ends, but there /is/ no end. But you know this already, yeh? Just — remember that, even if things get as low as they can go, I'll be looking out for you. All of you. And you."

McQueen amends, "Wow. Wonder if we broke the hermetic seal on laughing aboard this thing. Don't think the Gods'd mind. Probably they'd say it's about bloody time."

The laugh surprises her. Perhaps Cidra is simply so used to people being *unnerved* by the gesture from her. She lets out an "Ah!" of surprise when he grasps her, but she laughs as well, throwing her head back once he's retreated. "Forgive me. It was an impulse. And do not take it wrong. I love you not in that fashion, though do not tell Poppy. She thinks unkindly enough of me as it is. But it is a practice among the Sisters who I thought to join as a priestess when I was a younger woman. That life is long gone now. But you are my brothers and sisters now, and I think my path better for it to have walked with such. We watch one another's six, Queenie, all of us. Worse as we get on when our feet are back on deck, that I have never doubted." His comment about laughing aboard the ship earns a wry chuckle. "There was once life here, long ago turned to dust as it has. If we found it for no other reason, perhaps it can serve as a vessel of life for us again."

"She needs to loosen up a bit. Maybe if we fixed up her and Spiral…" McQueen ventures idly at the mention of Poppy. "I mean, I say this with uttmost respect for the chain of command, sir." He amends, "Yeh, I know what you meant. I may seem like I'm mad most of the time but I get it." He grins, wiping a tear of laughter from his eye with the back of his hand. "No, I understand what you're saying. Completely. It's why we'll win in the end." He takes another stiff step towards the exit. "Y'know, it's the damnedest thing, now that I think about it. I completely forgot why I came here. Maybe that doesn't matter, yeh? Anyway, it's getting late. I'm seein' if I can weasel my way into that decryption project to pass some time. XO put me on the last one. Before Leonis. And that dust-up."

Cidra makes a faint "Heh" sound at mention of Poppy and Spiral. "Ha-ha. Spiral. Unthinkable. Amusing joke. Ahem." She moves on. "I do not think you mad, Queenie. As for the decryption, you and all others on this ship. Well, the transmitter taken to Leonis failed. But perhaps we may have learned something from that debacle. We are still flying, after all of it. Some of us." That last said somberly again. "Well, offer your skills to Tactical, if they think they are of use, I shall not stop you. We have learned little after months from the data gathered in our first Gemenon mission, we may gain nothing from this either. But, we try and try. I shall see you later. I pray on the flight line soon. In chapel, if not."

"Oh, c'mon. Spiral's many things, but a bad guy and a bad pilot are neither of 'em." Oh, McQueen - never to speak ill of others behind their backs. His thick eyebrows knit in bemusement as he retreats slowly, as the bemusement fades. "Yeh. Well, that whole thing smelled like a trap. But that's not for the likes of me to decide. I'll talk to someone. Don't think the XO really likes me over that whole Admiral incident. But I don't think an XO's job is to like anyone." Shaking his head, he continues on out of the vessel. "And of course, Toast. You'll see me around. I've got your back. Remember that."

And this sounds as true as anything that was ever said, coming from him. With that, nothing but his footsteps echo through the ancient, discarded hull of a forgotten ship that once belonged to a people whose names are lost to time.

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