PHD #393: Our Likenesses
Our Likenesses
Summary: Charis and Cidra meet on the Observation Deck, and speak of matters past and things to come, of men and gods and Cylons.
Date: 26 March 2042 AE
Related Logs: None
Cidra Charis 
Observation Deck - Deck 3 - Battlestar Cerberus
With a quiet view to the stars, this tends to be one of the more popular 'quiet areas' of the Cerberus. Up front is a small-unseated area for ceremonies or other activities while the seating rises up behind it. Each level rises up behind the one before it, comfortable chairs and couches set up for crewmembers to relax, get some work done or even take a nap. A large armored plate is lowered during Condition One to protect the interior against a breach in the glass.
Post-Holocaust Day: #393

The observation deck is not exactly crowded at this hour but a few crewmembers populate the chairs, taking advantage of the view of the stars and the gas giant planet of Ophion the ship is presently orbiting around. Cidra Hahn is among them. She's presently folded up in a seat near the viewport window, shoes off and stocking feet tucked under her, smoking a cigarette. There's a clipboard in her lap, but she's ignoring it in favor of staring out at space, absorbed in her own thoughts.

This is one of the few places on board the Cerberus that Charis can reliably find, at the moment. Still learning her way around the giant battlestar, this is one spot that she made sure to locate early on. As she customarily does, upon entering she moves straight across towards the great viewport, to put as little as possible between her and the stars. Though the wearing of a uniform is not exactly a distinguishing feature here, hers is crisply new - lacking in the lived-in quality of many others aboard the ship.

Cidra is lacking in both proper uniform and rank insignia at the moment. She's in her off-duties, various Athena tattoos on display on her bare arms and shoulders while she wears her tank top. An idle drag is taken on her cig, her gaze drawn out of its introspective semi-trance as something new passes through her field of vision. That's Charis, as things happen. Her eyes drift to the other woman, narrowing a touch as they focus properly. There's recognition there, but it's faint. For a moment, all she does is regard the other woman.

Though she's not wholly oblivious to the attention, Charis is rather accustomed to being stared at. Brand new Lieutenants are not exactly ten a penny, after all, and most of the crew have been together since long before she was pulled out of a ruin. As a result, the Canceran keeps her gaze forward, trying to shift her focus past the hazy reflection of herself and the room, to drift out into space beyond. Hoping to clear her mind and find some of the deeper calm that has been so elusive for so long.

The faint recognition pushing at the back of her mind is apparently a bother enough that Cidra doesn't just leave Charis to her own devices. "I at times think I shall tire of the view of them," she says, speaking to the other woman without bothering with a real greeting as such. "The stars, that is. Planets I have never set foot upon. I do not, though. There is ever a beauty to it, even when seen each day."

It takes a moment for Charis to register that the comment was almost certainly directed to her. Then she shifts her gaze back to the window, seeking out the reflection… and raises a brow. Turning slowly, she offers the older woman a half smile and a distinctly searching look.

"I… forgive me", she says carefully. "But you remind me of someone I used to know. Which is a dangerous game to play, but… I keep finding myself hoping, each time I see a face that seems familiar. But your voice…."

Cidra's voice is one of her more distinctive features. Alto touched with a Gemenese accent that's only been somewhat softened by years off-colony, with a projecting quality that seems used to commanding attention though it's not particularly forceful. "I play this game each time I walk the corridors on the Elpis. Each time we find new survivors. Hoping on will see the faces of their family and friends. The chances for such are miniscule, of course. But, one never stops looking." A pause, and more intent narrowing. "Pyramid…that is what I keep thinking upon. Did you play? I do not follow the sport overmuch, but one could not really avoid absorbing it when the worlds were whole."

Charis laughs softly. "I wasn't walking the Elpis, for some time after I was picked up. Fractured femur, with a nice case of malnutrition. Still limp a bit when I push myself too hard, but it's getting stronger all the time…." As she lets her words spill out, emerging in the Bureau-neutral accent of an educated federal agent, she continues her intent searching of Cidra's face.

"I played, at the Kobol Colleges." A pause, then she rather tensely adds: "you remind me of a man named Cillian." And a good deal more, but… best not to spill all that to a stranger, if she's wrong.

"Ah…" That's exhaled slow as a few things click in Cidra's head. She nods slight, her face sombering some. She's not particularly expressive, but a touch of sadness does come to her cloudy blue eyes. "The Kobol Colleges. Yes. That was at least three lifetimes ago. I did not follow sports much while I was there, but my brother, Cillian, was more of a fan of such things." She regards Charis more intently now. "And more social than I. I am Cidra Hahn, by the by. In my younger days my name was Cidra Nevarine, daughter of Agathe and Emmanuel Nevarine. You are not Gemenon-born." It's not really a question. She sounds certain enough of the last bit, made more from observation than real memory.

The new Lieutenant closes her eyes for long moments, the effort to remain calm visible in the irregular little twitches that trouble her features. A long, slow, shaky breath - then she lifts her lid and manages a weak laugh. "No. I'm from Silver Strand. Canceron. Your brother took you to see me play."

"Ah." Said with more satisfaction this time. Cidra nods short again. "Oh, yes. You were one of his…friends." The pause implies she was about to use another descriptor, but decided against it. A smile comes to her face, albeit still a somewhat somber one. "I apologize. I do not recall your name."

That hurts a little, the younger woman briefly closing her eyes again. Then she musters another smile and ducks her head. "Charis. Charis Apollonaris. Did he have many… friends?"

"No. He did not," replies Cidra simply. "Charis. Ah, yes. You will forgive me. I made it a point not to meddle in Cillian's personal business. Nor he in mine. Our family was…well, we did not really talk much of such things. Our time in university was, for both of us, the first time we were really on our own. I recall it was a happy time for him." She turns a little around in her chair, so she can converse without craning her neck. "You wear the Colonial uniform now?" Not that she sounds surprised, really, but she's curious.

A slight hesitation, then Charis moves forward. A little hesitant, she gives Cidra a chance to object before she reaches and takes a seat near the other woman. "I just finished OCS a few days ago. I have one set of prior oaths to uphold - but since I presently seem to be the entirety of the Colonial Investigation Bureau… the chances of those being relevant any time soon seem to be rather low. I've been… accepted as the fleet's newest Lieutenant. Posted to Tactical."

Cidra gestures an open palm to the seat next to her as Charis moves to take it. "Do you smoke?" She reaches for her omnipresent cigarette pack to offer Charis one, even before she gets an answer. "You were with the C-I-B? Well, you should take to much of the Navy well enough, then. Not that the military is not itself much changed since the Cylon attacks, much as some would like to admit it not. All the pillars that once upheld our worlds are torn down. And yet, we remain."

Charis shakes her head in response to the offer of the cigarette. "Only when under-cover", she responds with a hint of a smile. "I haven't yet lost all my habits from my sporting days. But… I confess that I'm not quite sure what else I have. The days when… studying narcotic-smuggling networks seemed important… those feel so very distant now."

Cidra nods, slipping her cigarettes back in her pockets. "A vice I developed back in my boarding school days. Likely the least-harmful of mine." Said a touch wryly. She takes care to angle the one she's smoking so she's not blowing it directly in Charis' vicinity. "All has changed. The military, at least, has a structure that gives on the illusion of normalcy. A commander is still a commander, and his personnel still follow his orders. But even in that, there are no higher orders coming to us from the government in Caprica now. We all but try to survive as best we can."

"And… if I remember my briefing, "Toast" Hahn is the CAG?", Charis checks carefully, venturing another smile. "I'm still trying to figure out where I fit into things, never mind anyone else. Or what I should possibly be aiming at doing."

"Major Cidra 'Toast' Hahn. Such is how they call me these days," she says, tone *really* wry at that. "I do command the air group here. And do not worry. I am quite sure I do not fit particularly well in the role I find myself." She snorts something resembling a laugh, though it's not really a joke.

For all that, Charis cracks a swift grin, seemingly rather reassured. "Personally, I'm finding myself unsure as to whether I should be vigorously promoting my personal abilities - I've had training and experience in intelligence analysis and in tactical strikes - or hiding in the background while I try to learn as much as I can about ships. Everything I did professionally was about guns and drugs. Not Cylons and warships."

"My advice?" Cidra sits up a little in her chair. "For the present, serve as you are called to serve. Tactical is in a difficult spot at present. There is no way for us to retake the colonies. Our homeworlds are lost. So we must fight back against the Cylons in small ways, and salvage what we can. And focus your skills where you can. Our enemy does not just fight us with Raiders. The Cylons have the ability to look like us now. Walk as spies among us."

Charis sighs and nods. "Ideally, I'd be gathering up fellow agents and undercover cops, and pitching an agency to tackle internal security - but I can't claim that one woman could do much at all. And it seems that there are significant gaps elsewhere, that I might help to fill."

A low chuckle, and she shakes her head. "Not that I expected to have any of these… problems. I was just trying to keep people alive as long as I could, on Tauron. Hoping that a rescue would show up, but not really expecting it. To be here now… I'm still adjusting to having any of these concerns. Let alone the chance to be useful."

"The mission is the same. Survival. Save there are more in the Fleet to protect here, thank all gods," Cidra says. "Tauron? Ah. I cannot imagine what it was like to be stranded down upon those worlds for near a year. How did you manage it? If you do not mind speaking of it, of course. I know it must have been a horrid time."

"I… wound up specialising in networks. Terror and criminal", Charis says quietly. "It gave me a lot of insight into how the more successful operations could evade attention. Many of the techniques are irrelevant when you're dealing with… an enemy that kills everyone on sight. But I tried to teach people to form cells, how to set up supply caches, how to keep mobile. My… my success rate was a lot worse than I'd hoped, but… better than I'd feared. A number of people made it through and got picked up by the Fleet, thank the Lords."

"Thank all the Lords, indeed," Cidra repeats firmly. "You fought the Cylons on the ground. Now all in the military - I believe all in the Fleet itself - fight them as we can. I can well see how skills such as that would be useful to Tactical." The faintest of smirks crosses her lips. "What are we now if not a group of insurgents, fighting a far superior force?"

Charis chuckles softly. "My greatest weakness is likely to be me… flatlander thinking. I'm going to struggle to conceive of us as existing in a realm where movement in any of the three dimensions is as easy as any other. So I've certainly got a lot of learning and adjusting to do. But I do hope that I'll be useful. And also that we keep finding more people. The more there are, the more relevant my existing skills might be."

Cidra bows her head a touch at that. "I pray there is more of humanity out there for us to find. I fear for them on those worlds the Cylons still hold. They abandoned Sagittaron, Tauron and Aerilon - even ruined as those planets were - to concentrate their forces in the inner planets. They still work some strangeness, but oft times their motives elude me. At times the Cylons appear intent upon destroying whatever remains of us, others they disappear and leave us to drift in situations where they could easily kill us. It speaks of a game, some plan, but one I cannot follow."

Charis sighs and nods. "Or internal disputes", she says softly. "One of the basic instincts of mankind, when in danger, is to conceive of the enemy as a monolithic and united force. To see every action taken as the deliberate result of a central plan. Overcoming that notion was one of the basic tasks of my work. How much it applies to the Cylons, I don't honestly know. But behaviour that makes no sense if one looks for a single plan might more credibly be taken as proof of there being more than one plan, and more than one would-be directing force."

"The Cylons are machines." It's said like a mantra Cidra's repeated time and time again, with more firmness than feeling, and accompanied by a drag on her cigarette. It's a long beat before she speaks again. "And yet…those abominations. The skinjobs. They made themselves in the image of humans. I sometimes wonder if they did not inherit our ability for divisiveness and contradiction in that. The Raiders and Centurions…each seem the same as another. But the skinjobs we have met at least each seem to present a different persona. Even if all are the enemy to us."

"Even machines might reach differing conclusions if given the same task and goal, but a different perspective. And so far as I know, they're not a true hive-mind. Each is to some extent autonomous", Charis says quietly. "So especially with the addition of the… skinjobs, it seems credible that there'll be disagreements. Quite possibly wholly logically-based rather than emotionally-influenced, as are so many of ours - but the more events take place, the more actions their forces are involved in, the more the conclusions of different decision-making units are likely to start to diverge."

"No. They do not seem to have a true 'hive mind,'" Cidra agrees, though she sounds reluctant to. "They even appear to have their own religion. If a blasphemous one. We have encountered some models that speak of the one 'God' - not our gods. If they have created some sort of twisted mandate of the heavens for themselves, who knows what strange forces they look to which drive them."

Charis inhales slowly through her nose, then nods. "I have… some speculation about that. But… my role, that was in large part to provide speculation. Come up with reasons why people might take actions. Give an array of options other than the obvious. Find logical constructs, ways of understanding why things happened other than 'they're criminals' or 'they're killers and anarchists'. Because with reasons, you can start to tackle the underlying causes - identify different cells, different motivations, different agendas. But here, now… I'm dealing with things I can't even be sure feel or think in any way that I can understand, and I've got no one else used to working with my methods. So I can offer you speculation, but I have literally no idea how valuable it might be."

"I think such speculation would be of great value now," Cidra says. "We have learned a little of how the Cylons have…evolved from the machines our forefathers created. Their 'skinjobs,' their strange faith, their actions upon the colonies after the attacks. One abomination we had in custody here for some time, known as Number Eleven,, she as much told us that there were…internal divisions among the different 'skinjob' Models. If we could find some way to exploit that, or at least make guesses as to what their motivations might be, it would give us some direction. For my part, I fight and fly. It is a simpler mission, but one that has no end without an answer to why the enemy fights as they do."

Charis lifts a brow, then nods slowly. "If you want, I can give you some of that speculation now. Initial impressions and ideas. The more officers who are aware of such things the better, I'd say - at least if this were the Bureau. I'm aware I've still got a lot to learn about how things work in practice here."

"I would be most interested to hear such," Cidra says, taking a quick drag before turning her focus fully back on Charis. "The mission of the air wing, as I did say, is a fairly simple one. Fight and fly and die." It's said with a touch of grim pride, but that same dryness. "As Command deems it worthy. But I pray they have the information to aim us to do such better, and for the good of the Fleet."

"Well", Charis says, running a hand self-consciously over her hair, before leaning forward, resting her forearms on her knees. "They appear to have had the capacity to survive, out beyond the frontier. Perhaps they have used up virtually all the accessible resources out there, and there is a very simple underlying explanation for their… return. But the complexity of their actions would suggest that there is more to this than a simple desire for resources."

"One such motivation would indeed be religion. It could be used to forge unity where there was none previously. To bring together hitherto-disparate groups and inclinations in pursuit of an agenda set - in reality or in appearance alone - by a much higher power. It could be used to move a large body of thinking minds from a home that provides the necessities of existence, or it could be used to overcome divisions… at least for a time. So I find a religious motivation for their actions credible, I confess…."

"Perhaps that is why they divined their abomination of a 'faith,'" Cidra says, her lips twisting to use such a term to describe the Cylon religion. "As a means to bind them together. It has certainly been a powerful bound for humanity, and these skinjobs mimic us in uncountable other ways." The first makes her purse her lips, thoughtful. "We have assumed the mission of their return to the colonies was simply the extermination of humanity. And yet we know scant still about how they lived beyond the Armistice Line after the First Cylon War. And they seem to be making great use of our natural resources in the inner colonies, at least."

Visibly attempting to overcome nervousness, Charis nods, closes her eyes for a moment, then continues. "Another element that inclines me towards accepting religion as an underlying factor is the nature of their campaign. Conquest, manifestly, is not their first priority. Or if it is, then it is heavily focused on particular targets. They have treated sites presenting comparable military challenges in very different fashions. The nature of their occupation has been radically different. Their use of atomic weaponry has varied dramatically. In purely strategic terms, their campaign is a rather confused mess - as seen most immediately in their seeming inability to finish off the remnants of the human military, as embodied by Cerberus and this fleet."

"Instead, I'm inclined to take their actions as signifiers of what matters to them. And those reveal a remarkable degree of… active interest in life and death. Some worlds are preserved, others… purged. Some populations are slaughtered with overwhelming force, while others seem to be left to be handled in a very different fashion. Hunted, even. I and the others on Tauron were utterly irrelevant in military terms, especially if the world were to be… blanketed in warheads as they have done elsewhere. So what purpose did we serve? Game? Prey? Training exercises? Lab-rats?"

She shakes her head. "A focus on life would fit. They are the first non-biological life of which we are aware. They were created, then our ancestors were unsuccessful in an effort to destroy them. Then they returned to demonstrate how such a purge should be done… or how a nearly successful purge should be done, perhaps. Some seem to want to complete it, but do they all? If they did, shouldn't we be dead by now? If killing us all were their primary goal, I'd never have made it off Tauron."

"Instead, I think that they seem themselves as very active participants in a cycle of the divine. Not as gods, but as those playing a role. For the majority of the information they have on faith and religion is likely to have had its roots in our own - and that, sadly, has rather a lot to say about children and creations turning on their creators if you choose to focus upon those parts. And also about how children deserve better than their creators give them - whether it be the tale of Prometheus and the punishment given to him even by those whom he had helped rebel against the cruelty of their own sires, or the story of Kronos consuming his children, it would be all too easy to learn from their own near-destruction and see life and death as intrinsically linked."

"And from there… a logical step is to look back. To the only unitary god in our books. To primal chaos. To the one force from which all else ultimately sprang. To what would, in scientific terms, be described as entropy. The power of change, in which destruction is the path to life, and life an act of destruction. Chaos can be seen as hostile, rendering all to dust - or it can be seen as that which makes possible the very concept of beauty, and with it all that makes life meaningful. My speculation is that the Cylons serve Chaos. See all other gods as merely derived beings in a chain of creation and betrayal. Perhaps see us as enslaved by our own creators and needing broken free from the chains that bind us to our Lords as they were once bound to us."

Cidra is silent as she listens to Charis, taking in all that, blue eyes narrowing as she turns it over in her head. "And we would have been destroyed a dozen times over, if killing us were their only motive. There have been many opportunities when they could have crushed us yet came not to finish it." Another long drag is taken on her cigarette. She exhales in the direction of the viewport, out at the stars and the gas giant that dominates so much of the view of this region of space. "The cycle of the divine, yes, there is truth in that…are you a woman of the faiths, Charis?" She asks the question soft. "It speaks, among other matters, of the idea of eternal return. That all we do has happened before, and we repeat the cycles in our days. I wonder, at times, if the Cylons hold to some twisted manner of this. The chaplain, Sister Karthasi, does seem to think they do. Perhaps that was part of why they returned to the Colonies in such force. Back to the place of their creation, their destruction. Now our destruction. All of this has happened before…I wonder, if that is true, where we go from here."

Charis nods carefully. "I try to be", she says quietly. "And yes. I have wondered if that is the essential disagreement at the heart of their councils. That some truly wish to destroy us - seeing it as a vital part of their own cycle. Others might see us as Titans, so to speak. To be overthrown, shown the error of our ways, but not utterly destroyed. Prometheus was not the only Titan to survive Zeus's war - Helios himself was one, and there were others. Others might even feel gratitude - see in us Chaos itself. Creator and destroyer. The bringers-about of change in them. For by some of the simplest definitions, we are their Olympians. We have played divine roles for them - giving life and seeking to take it away. We've played out our role as leaders of a cycle. Now it is their turn."

A slow shrug, and another rueful smile. "Personally, I think that we need to find a way to stop letting them define the rules of the game. Or at the very least to confirm what those rules are. But even if they hold to - and are right - in all that I just said, it leaves out the factor of our own Lords. For if all this is literal truth, then it must also be true that our Lords are real - and that they are therefore a power in their own right. A subtle one, by all that we have seen, but real. And that in turn would fit with some of what I have heard of Cylon actions. For they have been said to have shown a particular interest in some of the more ancient sies, have they not?"

"Or like children, they endeavor to kill their parents, attain supremacy. They do make themselves in our image." Cidra smokes more as Charis speaks, absorbed in it, though much in those words seems to trouble her. "Yes. I do think their strange faiths drive them. We have received some very…odd reports from Gemenon. That the Cylon presence there is engaged in some sort of…archaeological digging around some of the old religious sites. Sites they bombed with a vengeance, as they did military targets on other worlds. I intend to send a recon Raptor back to that world, to perhaps see what they unearthed, or at least gain a closer look at it. Getting useful information from Gemenon has been most difficult. It is the only one of the colonies on the outer rim the Cylons still occupy. And yet it has no surplus of resources, or military value, as the other worlds they keep hold on do." A pause, and long exhale that has the sound of a faint shudder in it. "Part of me fears what they do to my homeworld. What twisted manner they seek to use it for, for I do not believe they linger there for no purpose."

"Some versions of our tales tell us that death can literally be a source of life. Aphrodite rising from the waves, when Zeus castrated his father than cast the 'trophy' into the sea", Charis says quietly. "They might well see the maiming of our civilisation - of our race - as the most deeply religious and creative act they can undertake. And they might even see the Lords as remaining enemies. Or as mentors."

"Our lives as sacrifices to their abomination of God." Cidra flicks some ash off her cig in a convenient tray. While her features are carefully schooled the movement of her fingers shows more intensity as she turns over the other woman's words in her mind. "The transformation of our worlds into…gods only knows what. But I think there is much importance to be found in the enemy's faiths, in whatever mysteries of their twisted God they have invented for themselves, and perhaps perverted from our own Faiths. I am glad you turn your mind to such things, and that you have the ear of Tactical now. I do believe answers may lay there, though I cannot conceive of what they are." Finally smoked down to the filter, she has to put out her cigarette. "For my part, I should turn my thoughts to duty soon. I am grateful to the Lords that you survived Tauron and found your way to this ship. Perhaps there was a reason behind it."

"I… certainly hope so", Charis admits, with a rather awkward smile. "If you come across anything, please let me know. The more information I have, the more basis I have for my speculations. But… quite apart from that. It is good to see someone from my own life again. I am glad you are here."

"The Lords work in mysterious ways. I am most glad to see some memories are not just ghosts, however distant they may be." Cidra unwinds herself from her chair and puts on her boots. Then makes to depart. "We should speak again soon. I have not talked of my brother, of home, in a good while. And it is good, to know there are still such that can be done with. Gods mercies upon you this day."

Charis looks as if she's unsure whether to rise or not, but settles for smiling up at Cidra. "And also upon you", she says gently. " Just… take care, while out there. I suspect that you'll be able to find me here again in future, for speculation or remiscence - and I would like to be found again."

"So say we all," Cidra says, as to being found. And off she goes.

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