PHD #044: Judged By Your Methods, Not By Your Goals
Judged By Your Methods, Not By Your Goals
Summary: Tisiphone brings information to CIC, lingers for more politics with Oberlin.
Date: 2041.04.12
Related Logs: None.
Kulko Oberlin Tisiphone 
Gun Systems Control Room — Deck 5 — Battlestar Cerberus
Located immediately overhead of the CIC, this room is usually darkened but for the soft glow of blue overhead lights. Lining the bulkheads are floor-to-ceiling control panels that give read outs on gun status and ammunition levels. Control centers for the separate gun systems are clearly labeled in white over top of each designated station. In the center of the room is a small digital astral plot and a DRADIS readout that feeds directly from CIC. A handheld phone links directly to the main hub below and the whole room is manned twenty-four hours a day.
Post Holocaust Day: #44

The lights have been raised from their usual dim setting, and various crew bustle about completing the temporary transformation of gun-control to CIC. Kulko is at present the sole officer in the room, with various papers spread out over the console beside the digital astral plot. His duty blues are left unbuttoned and wrinkled, and he looks less than rested.

'I'm looking for Ensign Kulko. I've got information for him.' It's a two-fold mantra — first, it establishes whether or not he's still alive. THAT confirmed, it leads Tisiphone on a wending route from the sparking remains of the /real/ CIC to this hastily hand-drawn facsimile. "Yeah. Go on in," comes the voice of one of the Marines outside, and a moment later Tisiphone steps in. "Stephen," she calls, heading his way. Tired, scratchy voice. Dull, reddened eyes. It hasn't been a great twenty-four hours for anyone.

Kulko looks up at the pilot's voice, a half smile cresting on otherwise weary features. "Tisi," he greets, despite her marked distaste for the name. "Good to see you, and in one piece."

Tisiphone doesn't rise to the bait /too/ far — there's a tired flicker in her eyes, maybe. "Didn't see you on the floor in CIC last night," she says. "About the only good part about finally getting up there." Her eyes sweep her fellow Ensign from head to toe, though. Surprise bulletholes. You never know. "You collecting witness reports yet? I was down in Sickbay when it happened."

"Some of them are in. Right now I'm tryna figure out just where in the hells they came from." Kulko gestures vaguely to the papers. "I wasn't in CIC at the time, no, but I'm told we had /no/ DRADIS contacts. So unless these frakkin' things are just floating through deep space, something doesn't add up." He leans back against the table and folds his arms. "So. Tell me what ya seen."

Oberlin arrives from the Deck 5.
Oberlin has arrived.

Tisiphone glances around for anything safe to sit on. Finding nothing, she gives her shoulders a tense roll and slouches her good hand down into her pocket. "CAPs would've spotted them if they were… floating in like debris," she reasons, her attention down on the ends of her boots. They're a mottled reddish-brown instead of the usual black, up past her ankle. Dried blood. "They're bigger than mines. In- Sickbay, at least, they came in right through the walls. Power cut out, phone was dead. Then there was a- drilling. And then the wall caved in."

Kulko nods slowly. "Yeah, that's about the long and the short of it. But you can imagine how that looks from our perspective - all across the ship, enemies appear outta nowhere." He pauses, shakes out the last two cigarettes from a pack, lights both, and offers one to Tisiphone. "We didn't leave Picon with toasters in the walls. Did frakkin not. So where'd they come from?"

There's a bit of fumbling at the hatch. Quite a bit of it, in fact, as a figure jimmys, prods, jerks, yanks, thumps, and otherwise goes through a bit of a dance trying to get the latch open. Finally, just as a helpful enlisted tech curiously makes his way towards the hatch to answer it, the person on the other end finally gets it open, revealing one Lt. Oberlin, in his offduty tanks with his uniform Blues jacket hung open over his shoulders like some sort of cheesy cape. His arm and chest have a series of gauzy bandages wrapped around his torso, underneath, making it difficult to move. Light duty, his ass. He probably shouldn't even be back on duty, but he was one of the lucky ones.

"Sorry, Specialist." He smirks at the guy, but it's a weak sort of smirk, and he looks three shades of pale. More than usual.

Ah, now there's something to rouse a little warmth from sleety eyes. Tisiphone's mouth even twitches upward at the corner as she accepts the cigarette. "Thanks." A long, long drag, held in for several seconds before the smoke is blown out at the ceiling. She repeats the process before answering, eyes travelling over the makeshift CIC before arriving at Kulko's face. "The ones in Sickbay were melted," she says. "Like candles put against a hot wire. Where are their pipes that hot, in the Cerberus? Maybe we- we've been infested from the start, Stephen." Her shoulders tense as she says /infested/, as if staving off a shudder. "That message they had for us, out on CAP. Maybe it was actually to wake them up. Remote-control termites."

"Y'know how many people would have to be in on it?" Kulko marvels, his drag taken not quite as long. "Thousands of contractors. Installing sleeping Cylons and all keeping quiet. I doubt it, myself." At Oberlin's entrance, Kulko salutes crisply, but fails to come to attention. "Lieutenant, sir. You look like shit."

The CIC tech goes back to what he was doing after noting Oberlin's ghostly presence. He starts to walk a little stiffly. He rattles at something in his pocket and shoots Kulko a bloodless, heartless attempt at a grin. "As per usual I assume." He croaks, slowly ratcheting his glance to and fro to study the environs of the backup-CIC. "Looks like they didn't hit here." He says in a distant tone. "Ensign." He adds, catching Tisiphone. He starts to move his arm to return the salute but it wavers a little. "You all been sifting through the ashes?"

"It doesn't make any sense. But none of it does," Tisiphone says to Kulko, with a numb shake of her head. She straightens a little from her tense-shouldered unslouch when her fellow Ensign salutes, and brings her casted arm, cigarette and all, up for her own approximation of a salute. "Sir," she says, eyes moving from Oberlin's face to his obvious injuries, before sliding away to her boots again. "Four of them came in through the wall," she says. "It was Sickbay, they- nobody had a chance. There was a Marine in there with me, he-" She clears her throat sharply. "He distracted the last Centurion so I could make a break for the armory." 'Distracted' sounds like quite the euphemism.

"They're scary as all Hades up close, ain't they?" Kulko muses in sympathy with Tis. Oberlin gets a shrug, and he motions to the room around them. "Weren't hit here - spose that's why we have a backup CIC in the first place. Can't say it's near functional enough, but we'll be back home soon enough."

"I don't get it. They came up right when I made the call to bar the hatch. "That kid got her face blown off." Oberlin narrates, sort of out-of-the-blue. "But if it got barred, I'm pretty sure some of the people out in the hall would have died. This is all some kind of meaningless dice roll." He comments on the sort of 'who lives, who dies' aspect of decisions like that arbitrarily. "Same thing happened up on the hangar deck, from what I heard. Still need to read all the reports, but I'm going to bribe the Master of Arms and that Private to see if I can keep that sidearm I requisitioned. It's lucky."

"First one I've ever seen," says Tisiphone to Kulko, looking up from her boots. Bit of an odd look, that, trying to be numb and stricken at once. She fidgets with her cigarette, looking away suddenly to it as if she'd nearly dropped it. Back to her mouth it goes, for another lungful of smoke. "Four of them came in," she murmurs, as if still recounting the event in her mind. "After the first few seconds, three of them left for the hallway- for the stairwell, I assume." Considering the bloodbath it was. "Suppose they figured only one was needed to finish the rest of us off. Were any of the others melted like that?"

"No idea," Kulko admits, looking to the stack of papers. "Like I said - still looking through the reports. Suggests they might have come from the engine area? I ought to talk to someone about heat generating areas of the ship."

"That one Parres and I sawed up in Engineering wasn't scorched. Which gives you a good clue where these ones may have been hiding. That jives with what I've heard, anyway." Oberlin states as he shiftily looks between Ensign and Ensign. "Mind if I steal one of those?" he asks, absently, pointing at the cigarette with his good hand. "I probably shouldn't right now, but. — The bullets didn't kill me." He laughs feebly. It fails to bring his spirits up, though.

"I have a feeling wherever they came from, they'd been sitting there a while. We don't have boarding protocols for stowaways, really."

"Just lit the last. Sorry, boss." Kulko offers earnestly, shifting his weight. "Maybe we ought to. CMC dropped the ball, if'n ya ask me."

"Here, I've got it," Tisiphone chimes up promptly, tucking her cigarette at the edge of her mouth as she digs out her rumpled pack. She taps out one — only slightly bent, honest — and lights it off the cherry off her own ciggie before offering it out to Oberlin. "It sounded like the Marine berths were hit, too. Trying to decompress the room? I didn't get all of the announcement, but- uh. Anything else you want to know?" A glance back up at Kulko. "I- pretty selfish to hang out and gossip when you guys have a ship to pull back together."

Bent, schment. It's a smoke, and Tisiphone had it. Oberlin slowly reaches for the cigarette with his good hand. "I'll remember this the next time you're all busted up. Thanks." Flashing a cheeky grin at the woman he props it gingerly in his mouth as his smile fades. "I don't know that anyone dropped the ball. /Hell/, it's not like we didn't know something was up when that signal was sent. This just wasn't in the realms of conceived possiblity. Not that it brings anyone back. Or fixes what was broken, but.." He trails off, helplessly, taking a drag off the smoke.

"Are we looking into a connection between that tramp freighter and the attack?" Kulko wonders aloud. He blows smoke at the DRADIS screen. "I mean, the two seem a little too coincidental for me, y'know?"

That's her cue to leave, then. Tisiphone flashes a flat, thin-lipped smile at Oberlin and reaches up to touch Kulko's shoulder, rubbing it once before she starts to turn away. "Anything else you guys need, let me know," she says. "Sickbay or wherever they're letting me pitch in is where I'm likeliest to be. Enjoy your smoke, Sir."

"If you want. I'm not really doing much right now." Oberlin says, lamely, taking a puff. Largely to Tisiphone at first. "I'm just taking stock. That medic looked like he was about ready to clock me for leaving but it wasn't like he wasn't overworked." He smiles a little, self-satisfied smile. "I pointed this out to him. Never underestimate the power of being a pain in the ass."

Some moments later, he comments to Kulko. "Maybe, but I couldn't imagine how. Maybe the Admiral's frakking nuclear cat is bugged. If we want to start fishing for wild coincidences."

Speaking very belatedly of sidearms, Tisiphone's wearing hers. Happiness is a warm puppy, but security is a holstered Five-seveN. Her expression's a throwback to much earlier version of herself — wary and mistrustful of anything beyond her personal space, sleet-blue eyes closer to frost. She could be sitting in a building working on a car bomb. She hesitates at Oberlin's words, though, turning back to the room. "You got time to spare, I got time to stay," she says. "I never mop blood off a ceiling again, it'll be too soon." A brittle smirk, there, as she ashes her cigarette.

Kulko has his throwback revolver strapped to his thigh, as per away missions. He eyes Tisiphone's, then looks to Oberlin, flicking ash towards the carpet. "After Parnassus, I'd see about totin' a rifle - these things might make you feel better, but the toasters don't much slow down when you start shootin' .45."

"Don't know what else I should be doing, so, yeah." Except for that whole 'rest' thing. Yeah, right. Oberlin gestures with his lit cigarette, exhaling a drag and looking fairly nonplussed. He's weaponless himself, but considering he isn't going to be much of a shot right now, that's sort of an empty observation. "It's all about luck and placement. I saw whole clips go into that thing. And I still remember that one. Not the one that got me, but the one that went down with two shots to the neck. Standard rounds in that Five-SeveN too." No wonder he called that a lucky gun.

<Exit Kulko for RL.>

"There has to be something Engineering can do. Or maybe the deckies. Some kind of- scan. X-ray of the ship. I'll chew my frakking rads pills without a complaint, even. There has to be some way we can be sure this won't happen again." Tisiphone puts her good shoulder against the wall and slo-o-owly sinks down it to her haunches. "I hit one- the one that was left, but- the Marines did the heavy lifting with their rifles."

"There was a lot of heavy lifting on everyone's part up there. I lost count. Y'know, it's new. I just watched people I see every day, die. Billions already bought it." Oberlin narrates, distantly, as he leans against a console himself, watching the little blue-grey curls of smoke twirl upwards. "I didn't see it happen though. Does it make a difference?"

"We'd all be dead if we could resonate with every single person on all the colonies. If we were capable of the math. You take- one person, you don't even have to know them well. See them at work every day. Talk a little. Basic details. A couple laughs in the galley. Then-" She snaps loudly, punctuating the end of the statement. "Gone. Hard enough for people to wrap their mind around that. Multiply it by fifty billion? Never." Tisiphone looks very tired, sunk down where she is; she stretches her good arm in front of her, fingers splayed for a second before they relax into a dangle. "First time getting shot, Sir?"

"Gone." He echoes. "I know. We're at the point where we're looking at numbers, statistics, because there's no way to measure it all in names and faces. I'm at the point now where I find myself missing people I thought I hated. Or did hate. That was another lifetime, though." Oberlin says, with an unusual lack of flippancy. He just concentrates on this simple moment, smoking and chatting. At this point, he's seen enough of the makeshift CIC to get a sense where stations are, and his only M.O. tactically is to stay out of the way of people actually working.

"War changes everything, but it's always the same story. And not the first time I was shot /at/, but it was nothing like this, when that happened. That felt undirected. Feeble." He shifts a little, grimacing from the residual pain.

"Shot /at/, never /into/," Tisiphone relates. "Bombed, but never bombed /well enough/." Another brittle smirk, as she ashes her cigarette toward her boot-tips. "It's going to get crazier. Smaller and smaller data-set. Higher odds of the name called being one you know. We should never have come here." She drags harshly on her cigarette and blinks out of her own mutterings a little, looking up again. "They've given you something for the pain, Sir?"

"I don't know about this place. I don't know what Admiral Hauck was up to. She was the type of commander, from what I knew of her who'd gleefully set an entire Colony on fire to save the other eleven. Quite literally, in fact." He muses, glancing at his cigarette as he stiffly moves his arm again. "She used to say we should just 'back out of Saggitaron and let them fend for themselves when the Cylons come back.' I met her once. No, a couple times. She was there at my last promotion."

Disjointedly, he switches topics. "I never quite hated my ex-wife as much as she hated me. My sister, she was clever, and amusing." No mention of the parents. "Albert. Meg. People I knew, but never knew well enough because I thought there would always be time later." He slowly shakes his head. "Look who's getting maudlin, now? Oh, yeah. I'm high as a frakkin' kite." There's a bit of the ol' Oberlin smirk, now. "Sometimes I wonder how your people could handle it, not being able to take these." Always so full of ambivalence about this topic, he finally lets a very clear opinion slip. "I know better than to make a sweeping generalization, but you're bred tough. Aren't you?"

"Sounds about right. Leave us to our roots and rocks until you're in trouble, then come crying back. Tear up everything for your war-machines, dragging /your/ enemy to /our/ door, and then you're gone to defend somewhere 'important'-" A quiet barb in that word. "-soon as you're done, leaving your mess behind. All we ever wanted was to fend for ourselves." Tisiphone props her casted elbow on her knee, resting her cheek against the plaster. Her eyes close for a moment as she swallows, nostrils flaring with a deep breath. "It's not the concept, it's the application," she says, looking back to Oberlin. Dodging the question put forth. "There are alternatives. Less- adulterated options."

As the words flow, Oberlin listens to Tisiphone's long response, with measured calm and a certain level of detachment. "I didn't say I agreed with her. But she had a very split appeal on both sides of the occupation debate, based on that opinion. You're talking about the long view." He notes, taking in a shallow breath of his cigarette as it winds down. He looks for an ashtray. "A lot of people were just like, 'off now.' But since we're on the topic of 'you' and 'we', I never asked you." His foot starts tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tapping. "Had everything not gone the way it had in the last couple of months — would you have even /wanted/ your home to be intercolonial? Or independent?" His voice is utterly neutral, but unabashedly curious. "Also - if I wanted to be a contrary dick, I'd just note that there are some narcotics that are just ground-up flowers, concentrated. Is it a question of scale? Or additives? I just honestly am curious for your interpretation here. If I'm out of line, I'm out of line."

"I'm talking in the sweeping generalizations you were polite enough to avoid," Tisiphone points out, a twitch of apology at one corner of her mouth. "I'm- sorry. Everything's hitting so- close- right now. It's- reflex. Bad habits. Like I could've climbed that stairwell yesterday and there should've been mortar dust and the CMC on the bullhorns at the top, not CIC." She looks down to her cigarette, finding it smothered against the filter. She flicks the last of the ash off it, and drops it into her pocket. "You ask the /me/ that I was, before they sent me to Caprica, I never wanted to see another offworlder, hear their- words. Touch anything they'd touched. By the time I hit flight school? I just… wanted the CMC to stop poking them with sticks. It's like telling someone to calm down while you're slapping them across the back of the head. It was never going to work."

Again, Oberlin listens far more than he talks, as he thumbs the cigarette out of his mouth and jams it down into a makeshift coffee cup being used as an ashtray. It's not the first butt stubbed out in there, and probably won't be the last. "The you the was. It's like I just said, people /become/ something else. And like I said that one time, the first war /made/ us a people. Before that we were all happy at throwing sticks and rocks at each other, and Saggitaron was the odd kid out on the playground wearing a different colored shirt." Time passes as he again slumps back against the console. "And you can keep the apologies, they're not necessary. I've had experience dealing with /far/ worse things than innocent generalizations. More to the point, I asked you what you /thought/, rather than something that would come out of a textbook." And he holds out that coffee cup now in offering with his good hand, that same makeshift ashtray.

"No, it never would have worked. That's a point I noticed, too. That one kid I told you about? I think it was you who I told? Yeah. He wasn't the only one. I think it became abundantly clear up the chain of command, eventually, that unified Colonial forces would never have a foothold so long as they carried themselves as hostile invaders. And you can talk all about the goals of your mission, highmindedness, blah blah blah. But at the end of the day, people judge you by your methods more than your goals. That's how history's recorded."

Tisiphone pushes back up to her feet, one knee popping quietly as she straightens. A few tired steps carry her over to Oberlin, where she digs not one but three dead filters out of her pocket, dropping them into the coffee-mug. "And how do you change your- the impression of what you're doing, halfway through beating them, right? 'Oh, terribly sorry. We didn't mean to hit you. We're not here for hitting anymore. Honest.'" Snort. "It was- frakked. Start to end. However it would've played out." She worries at a raw spot on her bottom lip for a moment, then says, "I should go pitch in. You- wanna talk sometime about why needles and medicators- why all of it makes some of us weird right the frak out? I'll try to catch you before the next crisis rolls around."

Tisiphone adds, perhaps oddly, "Least I can do, all things considered."

"So you pitch in, as it were." Oberlin says, holding the coffee cup level as the dead smokes get deposited. "All puns aside." With a chin-gesture towards the coffee cup, he smirks a little bit again, letting it drop as he retains a level expression. "It all comes down to an ill-conceived reaction going downhill, and fast. Whether it's fear, anger, or a simple disconnect between goal and policy, everything goes pear-shaped. It's happened all over human history, and if we somehow survive?" He laughs a hollow little laugh. "It may very well happen again." Doesn't sound like he puts much stock in this concept, however.

"I — um, sure. I mean, I know the textbook details of the tradition and a little testimony but if you don't fully understand someone's mindset, the first thing to do is ask. Not shoot first, ask questions, first." Odd position for a spook, but there you have it. "I'm going to hobble back to my rack and pretend to rest. And maybe go over these frakking reports."

Odd position for a spook, indeed — and Tisiphone's expression confirms it, a sort of wary curiousity rising above the shell-shocked weariness. "Rest while you can, Sir," she says. "Who knows how long until this all happens again." Her third brittle smirk, and she's out the door.

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