PHD #335: Quest for the Holy Whale?
Quest for the Holy Whale?
Summary: Leyla brings Cora news of the recon mission she and Marko just completed; Cidra stops by and discusses the results
Date: 27 January 2042 AE
Related Logs: Questing, Beachhead?, More Than Just Ashes
Cidra Cora Leyla 
TACCO's Office
It's an office on Deck 10.
Post-Holocaust Day: #335

It's not a long run from the port hangar to the Naval offices, but it also isn't often that Sweet Pea needs to make that run, either. And she was out at that run, the moment she settled Bertha in for the night and grabbed herself a copy of the recon the raptor, along with her crew just brought back. No changing out of her flight gear, no getting cleaned up to be more presentable to those with bigger brass on their collar than hers. Her only concession to decorum is actually falling down to a walk when she finally gets up to deck 10. And she certainly knows where she's going. Helmet under her arm, portable datadrive in her pocket, she's well on her way towards the Naval Offices. And, oddly, not towards the one usually housing Major Cidra Hahn, CAG. Nope, this time, she's heading for Captain Cora Nikephoros, TACCO. Door closed, she knocks.

"Come in!" comes Cora's voice from inside. The hatch is (obviously) unlocked and opens to reveal an office even more sterile than previously, the only feature of interest the marks the fire on this floor left on the walls. Cora sits behind her desk, working on a laptop, though she stops typing as the door opens. Blonde brows rise, "Lieutenant Aydin," she says, "You look like you ran here straight from CAP." Why, her expression asks, would that be?

Leyla pauses, just inside the doorway, before she does what might be considered quite presumptive. She turns back to push the hatch closed behind her. No, she doesn't lock it. That would be creepy and a little psychotic. "Captain Nikephoros, not from CAP, no. Flasher and I just got back from a recon of the two waypoints we determined from the notebook." She also doesn't say which notebook. Cora, after all, was the one to bring it back to the Cerberus. "I have a request. I know the things brought back from the estate were in the public domain, but I'd like to ask that you pull the notebook and keep it somewhere secure." She doesn't drop her helmet, but her free hand reaches into her pocket, pulling out the data drive. "That's a straight dump from Bertha's systems. All of it's worth looking at, but if you'll open her image files and start at time signature 124 Alpha-S."

"Ah, of course, the recon," Cora nods, rubbing briefly at the bridge of her nose, "I had forgotten that was today." After a beat, she gets over her memory lapse and looks up, "I take it you found something?" She looks interested, to say the least, a faint kinetic tension in her frame that was not present before. She reaches for the datadrive and plugs it into her laptop, clicking into the relevent files and opening the images. Brows rise. "You found this at the coordinates in the notes?" She keeps clicking, going through the full cycle of exterior photos, head tilting once or twice as she looks. "This is bizarre."

Leyla recalls the order of the photographs, as she was the one who ran the raptor in circles so that Bertha could do her full image captures. "At the second set of coordinates, yes. The first set placed us in the middle of an old smuggling lane. There were a few items of interest there as well, but I think this second point, out in deadspace was the more important. If you'll continue scrolling, you'll see that Flasher and I landed Bertha inside her hangar deck and did a full capture of everything inside." A grimace, as Leyla switches arms with her helmet, working her arm out to release the crick in it from holding the helmet too long in one position. "The hangar was forced open. We weren't the first people inside there recently."

"I'll require the full report and scan results from the first set of coordinates as well, when everything has been compiled," Cora says without looking up, "I assume Lieutenant Scaurus is still working on that now." She makes her way through the photos, and then flicks a rapid glance up at Leyla, "You went inside? Ah, the next folder." She opens it, and then adds, "I assume you're using the term 'people' as loosely as possible, given where we found these coordinates. Has anyone else seen this yet?"

"Yes, Sir." leyla might not know for sure, but she's never been one to not be willing to put her spoon out there. "It is my belief, given the age of the skid marks we found on her deck, and the manner in which we found the coordinates, that a heavy raider discovered the ship before we did." As Cora's only looking at images, and not yet any of the hard numbers, Leyla continues, "As close as Flasher can estimate, based on the ship's elliptical orbit, as well as his radiological and infrared scanning of the material composition of the hip's hull." Leyla pauses, "We estimate the ship's approximate age as being in the area of 3000 years." Head shake, "No, no one. Not even Toast. Which may come back to bite me on the backside, but I felt getting this under lock and key as soon as possible was imperative. And that's your demense. The full report will be sent to the Colonel, the XO, to yourself, Toast and Boots. Further dissemination will be at all of yours discretions."

Cora leans closer to the screen, and then zooms in on the image a bit before nodding, "That fits. At least we know they were there. Did you see any sign that anything had been taken or destroyed?" she asks, "Any signs of damage or tampering beyond the doors having been forced?" As for Flasher's numbers, which she is definitely not focused on at the moment, brows rise again. "Three thousand years?" There is a long pause, and then she changes topics again, nodding, "Major Hahn will understand, I'm sure. And yes, the notebook will be made secure, unless the CO or XO object, which I should expect they will not. I would prefer if you forward your report only to them, myself, and Major Hahn for the time being. I'd like a chance to speak with her before a copy is provided to Trask. These doors, that lead further into the ship — was there any sign that they had been opened? Or that they could be?"

"No, none. They certainly seemed to want to preserve as much as they could. Why they left it there is a mystery to me. From what we can see," Leyla shifts her helmet again, but makes no other attempt to see to her own comfort, "They went in as far as the hangar, which…as you can see from the images, seemed to be more of a common living space, and no further. I do believe that a proper salvage and EVA team could make entry into the ship. Though given its age, I am not entirely confident we could get her up and running again." Another pause, "Though I am strongly in favour of bringing her back to the fleet somehow." As for who to give the info to, "I am having Flasher work on the full report, I will let him know." She might be the senior officer on the mission, but as senior officer, it is her duty to bolster the Junior Lieutenant as much as she's able. Jigs don't become full El-Tees by magic. "Thank you for agreeing to make this secure." She takes a moment, "I'd better get back to Flasher. It's a frekton of information to parse and disseminate."

Cidra arrives from the Naval Offices.
Cidra has arrived.

"Interesting, when they destroyed everything else historical and religious that we've seen so far," Cora remarks, as she flips through the images, pausing occasionally to peer at something more closely. She nods along as Leyla speaks, and agrees, "Yes, we need to get another team out there as soon as possible. Myself, perhaps someone from CMES and/or the CAG, and a tech team to get those doors open and investigate its systems as well as potential methods of retrieval. Actually, that we should get to work on prior to returning," she decides, "I'll get in touch with Engineering and the Deck once we have the specs." The door to her office is closed, but Leyla heading in in full flightsuit not long ago would certainly have been observed by the others in the office area.

Leyla nods, shifting her helmet again. She's been in the raptor for hours, and then on EVA for hours more. Her exhaustion is showing, despite her attempts to shore up her mental and physical defenses. "I would like to have permission to be on the raptor team that goes back. Flasher as well. Thank you for being willing to listen and get the ball rolling." The small pilot offers a salute, and pending dismissal, moves to reopen the door, only to have the hatch open in her face. Frak. CAG at 12 o'clock.

Cidra is, indeed, standing there. Speak of devils and CAGs, and they shall appear. She's in her flight gear as well, helmet tucked under hear arm. She was on CAP when Leyla and Marko returned from their jaunt across space (and time), but she came as soon as she could set boots on deck. "Ah. Sweet Pea. You have returned, and with much to tell I do hear." Blue eyes are bright. "Do not let me keep you, though I shall want to speak with you later of course. Flasher has given me the broadstrokes, as I see you have given Captain Nikephoros. Well done."

Cora nods. "If at all possible, Lieutenant, you and Mr. Scaurus will be involved. Thank you for bringing this to me so promptly. You're dismissed." She turns back to her laptop screen, only to look up again in surprise at Cidra's appearance. "Major," she nods, "Yes, Lieutenant Aydin was just filling me in. She brought the recon photos, if you would like to see them?"

Leyla steps out of the way, allowing Cidra to make entry into the office. Well done? Surprise, in Leyla expression. Clearly, the CAG intends for the woman to live another day. "You weren't here when we got back, Toast. I felt this couldn't wait." While it's clear Leyla isn't apologizing for her actions, neither is she entirely comfortable in going over Cidra's head. Or around it, more like. "Thank you, sir. I'll head back down to Bertha and help Flasher get everything ready for his report." Run, little girl, run now! And so, she does, barring Cidra telling her to stay behind.

"It could not, Aydin. I cannot say I quite understand the import of what you and Flasher found but…my gods…" Cidra can't seem to say anymore than that breathed invocation. Half prayer. A far broader smile than she usually shows tugging at her lips, though she seems reluctant to let it bloom full. "Rest well. You have had quite a journey." She lets Leyla go at that. A nod to Cora. "Yes. Yes I would…very much like to see them."

Leyla. Exit. Stage left. At speed.

Leyla leaves, heading towards the Naval Offices [Out].
Leyla has left.

"I thought you might," Cora replies to Cidra with a bit of a smile, "And I'd very much like to hear what you have to say about them. Here, sit," she gestures to a chair in front of the desk, picking up her computer and coming around to sit in the other so they can both see the screen. "As I assume Flasher mentioned, his scans show that the ship is roughly three thousand years old," she informs the CAG, "And here…" she cues up a photo, "Is the outside. They've captured enough images for a 3D model, though it's not put together yet. But here, the interior photos…" she switches to that folder, and switches to slideshow mode, watching Cidra as they play.

"Three thousand years…" While there's not surprise in Cidra's tone, it's touched with awe. She sits, leaning forward to watch the photos with rapt attention. "Astounding…to think it has been out there all this time just…drifting. Not impossible, I do suppose. That area of these coordinates is right on the edge of Colonial space, and not trafficked much at all by Gemenese ships. No useful resources, not phenomena worth studying…none that we knew of, at least. My gods…"

"The scans will need to be re-run," Cora says, "And samples taken for additional testing. I want to be absolutely sure that this ship is really that ancient and not some sort of Cylon fabrication. How did they find it?" she wonders, "It is on some sort of orbit, according to these notes, "It comes into this space every six hundred years, in the middle of nowhere… how did the Cylons find it? Look," she adds, pausing the images and pointing at one, "Taurus, the bull. Doesn't that symbol above it look like a lightning bolt to you? Like the knife we found, that the Fives were so frantic to get?"

"That is the point. This could all well be a Cylon game. Though how they would create something like this…" Cidra does not look at Cora as she talks. Her eyes are on the photos. Less studying them than drinking them in in a wide-eyed, almost child-like manner. Searchingly. A slow nod, when Cora pauses on the bull. "Yes. Zeus the bull…Tauron…and if the others align with the ancient Twelve Tribes as well…and yet Flasher and Sweet Pea found this relic more or less whole. And left intact, with no Cylon presence."

"They can create clones we cannot tell apart from humans, whose brains resurrect over lightyears. I put nothing past their technology," Cora replies, "I see even less reason for this, but the tests must be done." She starts the images scrolling again, saying, "There does seem to be one for each colony. Caprica's goat and Tauron's bull are even poised as if to attack each other," she says, with a thread of humor in her tone, "How apt. And then, of course…" the mandala appears, "The thirteenth. There is no sign that Cylons were still present, but they had been there. There's no guaranteeing that they did not remove something, though Aydin said she had seen no sign of it. We have to get inside."

"Something was there. Whatever was inhabiting that house on Tauron where Sweet Pea and you lot discovered these coordinates, my presumption would be. Inside…" No disagreement from Cidra. If anything, there's an eagerness there she's clearly trying very hard to restrain. "Yes. Most certainly" The mandala is squinted at. "I have never seen such a thing…it is strange, placed beside the others. Even if they do not directly correspond the the symbols of the Twelve, they are…interpretations. Cousins of our Scriptural lore. That is…what the devils is that….?"

"An 11, is my guess," Cora replies, "There is the portrait of one, and I'm told the sketches of our personnel are those who met an 11 on Leonis, shortly after a bizarre incident. Not that there were many on that planet that were no bizarre," she adds a bit drily, "Or any other. At any rate. I have no idea what that symbol is," she admits with a shake of her head, "It doesn't seem to resemble any of the others or anything of ours I have seen. If we still had the Five in custody…" she grimaces and moves on, "Aydin is of the opinion that we ought to try to retrieve the ship. I tend to agree though I'm not sure whether there is any way to actually do that, especially if its systems are non-functioning, as we must assume."

"The Yazdah…" Cidra murmurs the name soft, as if lingering over the syllables. Puzzling over them. "It…yes. The one Ibrahim and Money Shot…" A pause, as she clears her throat. "…and the others encountered…I still do not understand…" The last murmured soft, to herself rather than Cora. "Retrieve the ship?" She blinks, coming back out of whatever reverie she briefly went off to on that note. "I do not know if it is possible, either. But if we could…my gods…if we could…and if this truly is three thousand years old…this could be a piece of our history. Even if it holds nothing else, when so much of us has been destroyed…if this holds some part of where we came from, that is no small thing. Even if only for our human memory."

"Possibly," Cora nods, "They seem the type, as well," she says, a bit drily, "To live in an artist's house and keep a canary." She returns to the subject at hand, nodding at Cidra and listening, agreeing, "Yes. And I want the time to go over it in complete detail. I'm not sure whether it's possible. We need precise dimensions. If it could fit in the Starboard hangar… that would be ideal. Otherwise I'm not sure if there is any way, beyond moving the fleet there. And that's assuming that we can move it at all, and that it won't break apart if we attempt it." She presses the heel of her hand to her forehead, "There are so many questions. We need to get a team back out there as soon as possible."

"The canary…" Cidra frowns. It's unclear if she ever actually thought about the fact that the bird she allowed to be adopted as the Air Wing 'mascot' was possibly the pet of a Cylon. But her expression softens and she murmurs soft, "He sings very prettily…" Again, it's a comment more to herself than Cora. "The type…perhaps…I never understood why…" Whatever she's saying she stops herself, with a shake of her head. "It is likely of no moment. But yes, we should return. Perhaps with Cerberus herself for a day or two of surveying, if Pewter will consent to separate us from the Fleet here for that time. We are the only vessel where there would even be a chance of containing it, if it is not flat impossible. On the eve of Silent Mastiff I do not know but…my gods…this does call to one, does it not…" Her eyes fix on the photographs again.

"We will have to speak to him," Cora nods, "I… would be inclined to suggest that this is more of a priority than Operation Silent Mastiff. And preparations for that could continue in the interim, personnel can be shifted temporarily to one of the other ships to continue training. This is something," she says with a nod, "If it is a Cylon trick or a trap, then there is something to be learned from that as well, that they would go to this much trouble. And if it is not… we have to learn all we can of it. We can't risk them taking or destroying it."

"No we cannot," Cidra says firmly. "I concur, and I shall speak to Command in support of it. They have some strange interest in this area. And Gemenon. That keeps swirling in the back of my mind. This was but a waypoint. The 'map' such as it was, marked Gemenon as its destination."

"The destination of what, though?" Cora wonders, "We had assumed the Cylons. But in light of this…" she glances back at the screen again as she trails off, and then gestures at the photos, "I wonder if there is any significance to the order in which the 12 known symbols appear. It is clearly not alphabetical, and I don't see any pattern of inner and outer planets, either. I assume this script is unfamiliar to you?"

"It is…" Cidra squints at the script. "I cannot read it…" And this seems to surprise her, though it clearly didn't occur to her before. "It reminds me of Old Gemenese. But it is…not quite. The letters are the same, and some of the arrangements but this is…nonsense to my eyes. Or no dialect or older tongue I have studied. As for the order…I do not know. Perhaps…So many questions this brings to mind…"

"The letters are the same? Interesting," Cora replies. She is silent for a moment or two, gazing at the bits of writing, and then suggesting slowly, "If we input these into the decryption software, along with possible meanings… the names of the planets they correspond with, associated epithets and cult titles, things like that, maybe it will be able to find a match and decipher the language."

"Perhaps…" Cidra murmurs. Linguistics is not her business, so she takes Cora's word for it. "The same or very similar. I grew up speaking Gemenese in my household. My mother did not care for her children being indoctrinated in the 'Outsider' tongue early on. I did not learn Standard until I went to the Athena Schools, when I was fourteen."

Cora nods, "I know you are busy so I will speak with CMES first, but if necessary, could you provide Gemenese or Old Gemenese terms related to these, so that I can plug them into the program? It is worth a try as a first step, at least." She runs a hand over her hair and sits back a bit, adding after a moment, "As a more strictly practical matter, Aydin has requested that the coordinates themselves be classified, and I'm inclined to agree. She also mentioned that Trask will be receiving a copy of their full report when it is completed. I believe much of this will be classified, at least the coordinates, and while I can see the necessity of the Harriers SL knowing what his people are about, I would prefer that he not have clearance to disseminate the classified portions to anyone else without first consulting command. I'd prefer we keep those details close until we've determined what to do."

"The coordinates are already known quantities to Captain Trask already," Cidra says. "Aydin and Scaurus are his personnel, so he did need to be kept in the loop with the planning. I can reinterate the order on its classified status, however. I do not think anyone should have clearance to disseminate this information now without going through Command. The Cylons clearly have an interest in this area, and we still have enemy agents on board, if the intelligence gathered from the Eleven can be believed."

"Yes, I'm aware the coordinates are known, it is the ability to freely disseminate the information as he sees fit that I would like to limit," Cora nods, "Agreed. Given their known interest and the presence of agents, I'd like as many particulars as possible kept to as small a group as possible, ideally Pewter, Tillman, myself, you, Aydin, Scaurus, and Trask. If I had my way we'd keep the entire scope of their results classified, but there is no way Tillman will agree to that, so we'll have to settle for the coordinates alone."

"Besides which, I think it…important those in the Fleet know of this," Cidra says. "Not where it is, precise, but that it is…out there. A piece of our past, perhaps." She stands, stretching slightly, shaking her head as if coming out of a slight daze. Forcing herself to look away from the photographs. "Well, see it done, and I shall offer you any support me and mine can."

"I would like to be more sure of what it is and what we can make of it before we go giving people false hope," Cora says, "But I suspect Tillman will declassify the AAR as soon as the coordinates are redacted." She shrugs, "It is what it is. I will begin arrangements for a return trip, and keep you apprised. I assume you will wish to go, and I know Aydin and Scaurus do."

"False hope is better than no hope, Captain, and that is a tide we fight against each day now." As for the return trip, Cidra nods. "I would wish so, yes. It still tempts me to request to bring the Cerberus there in fulll, if there is any chance at all of retrieving the ship, but that may be precisely what the Cylons want us to do."

"Not if it will be rapidly shown to be false. False hopes are best left vague, it seems to me, they last longer that way." Cora shrugs, and then nods, "I think we ought to send a smaller party first, and see what we can determine. It is likely too great a risk to bring Cerberus there before we've done a more complete recon."

"As you consider best, Captain. We shall see it done." On that note, Cidra takes her leave of the TACCO's office.

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