PHD #190: Remains
Summary: Jesse Stavrian's 'homecoming' involves naught but corpses and grim tidings.
Date: 04 Sep 2041
Related Logs: Tihar Prison Blues
Stavrian Cidra Trask Tisiphone 
Tihar Penitentiary - Exercise Yard - Sagittaron
The prison courtyard is paved with cracked concrete, the few stubborn weeds that managed to poke through the gaps long since killed by radiation. There is a large garage for the facility's vehicles near the main entrance. The newer, steel-and-concrete prison block looms nearby; beyond it, the bleak black walls of the original prison, narrow window-slits carved into the basalt. The area between the two prison blocks has been converted into an exercise-slash-recreation yard for the inmates, and is cordoned off by chainlink and razor-wire. A few concrete chessboards jut out along one wall, while basketball hoops and a Pyramid court in shambles are against another. On the opposite side of the courtyard stand three gallows, their massive palmwood timbers blackened with age. They face the exercise area, and would have provided the inmates a clear view of their most typical escape from the prison.
Post-Holocaust Day: #190

Staying on the ship means staying busy, even when largely out of sight. Stavrian hadn't yet been sent down to his home colony, held back to help translations on the ship and to analyze data coming up. Now, though, if he /was/ avoiding seeing this at heart, he no longer can. The discovery of bodies in the jail prompted his being shipped out, along with what mobile lab resources they had that one man could carry.

After spending a few hours in the cells, his booted footsteps come thudding softly out into the exercise yard, his larg dark green lab bag thumping against the side of his leg. Dark blue eyes skim the open yard for the CAG, hand lifting to shield his eyes.

Said CAG is out in the yard, near the area that's been hemmed off as a landing zone for the Raptors and few Vipers down on planet. She's in conversation now with a Raptor pilot who's just returned from a search run along the coast. She's dressed in fatigues, for her part, so if she's going up for flight it probably won't be for awhile. In addition to her greens and sidearm, she's also got a plain Navy green cap on her head, brim pulled down to shade her eyes from the sun, dark hair hanging out the back of it in a ponytail. She's acquired something resembling a tan during her time on Sagittaron, though it's only now fading from sunburn red to light brown.

Stavrian hasn't spoken much to anyone since arriving on the surface. The silence shrouds him even now as he draws closer to the CAG and the Raptor driver, turning to look over his shoulder at the personnel outside as he waits his turn with the superior officer.

Cidra spots Stavrian's approach along her peripheral vision. "Very good, Ensign, carry on," she says to her pilot, dismissing him. And pivoting to fix her full attention on the medic. "Lieutenant Stavrian. Doctor Bia informed you would be coming down. I am sorry I did not have the chance to meet you properly. Much do to here if we are to complete our search of the planet before Command gets overly impatient."

"Understood, sir." It might be the most complete utterance Stavrian's given anyone since his boots touched ground, complete with a salute that's a little overly formal. "I'd just finished looking into the cells. If this isn't a good time to report, I will return later."

Cidra acknowledges the salute fluidly but quickly. Getting the protocol out of the way so business can be gotten to. "This is as fine a time as any, Lieutenant. Walk with me, please." She starts to stride away from the planes on that note, moving toward the wall along the perimeter of the yard. Motioning for him to follow. "I have not spent a good deal of time in the cells myself. It does look most grim, though. The idea of all those people, just left there…" She can't suppress a shudder.

"Aye, sir." Stavrian's acknowledgment to her request to walk rather than agreement with the emotion. He shifts the heavy lab bag on his shoulder and keeps up with her walking pace — being an inch shorter than the CAG his field cap brim keeps his eyes somewhat shielded. "If I may ask before I say anything myself, Major. Was an analysis of this requested because someone felt there was some other cause of death than what you've said?"

"Not precisely," Cidra replies at Stavrian's last question. "Though I did want more information, in case there was something more to it than that. I care not to make assumptions. In any case. What did you make of it?"

"There are two separate populations." Stavrian lifts his chin and points across the yard towards the eastern cells. "The first in the older cells and the communal pits. Without tissue testing I can't say once and for all, but by all observation they did indeed die from starvation and dehydration. I found some signs of ligature marks and physical evidence that a few attempted to hang themselves."

Cidra nods short to that, trying to keep her expression as neutral as possible as Stavrian describes their manner of death. Though the thought of it makes her pale some. "I must admit I pray they had some fortune at the latter. Finishing it yourself is a quicker mercy than dehydration."

"Yes, sir." Stavrian purses his lips before he goes on, indicating the western cells now with his extended finger. "The COD…however, was not the same with the second group, the one in the newer cells."

Cidra's eyes follow Stavrian's pointing finger toward the cells westward. She reaches into her fatigues pocket, withdrawing a packet of cigarettes and lighting one up with her omnipresent metal lighter. Perhaps feeling the need for a smoke just now. A hint of surprise, and slight narrowing of her eyes. "What do you mean…not the same?"

Stavrian runs the tip of his tongue over the topside of his bottom teeth. "Almost all of the bodies in the west cells were pushed up against the back corners. By their own volition, judging from their positions. I found shell casings on the floors and gunshot trauma patterns in all the corpses." And as if that weren't bad enough, he adds on thinly: "I had a look at some of the casings. They were not Centurion, sir."

"Do you believe they were executed?" Cidra asks, voice dropping a little lower. Though it does not seem so much a hint for secrecy as a natural inclination on her part. "Could you tell anything more from the casing? The guards were likely issued standard sidearms and ammunition, though we have not found any of their weapons here that we could check it against, to my knowledge."

"'Executed' is a judgment that I'm unprepared to make, sir," Stavrian replies as the brim of his hat shields his eyes once more. "What hard facts I have are only what I could see. They were shot to death and from their positions they had tried to take cover. By whom and why, I do not know. As for the casings, all I could tell is they weren't the ones we've seen the cylons use. I can send a collection of them up to the MPs to be run against whatever databases they may have. It might give us some more facts to go on."

"Get some to send off to the MPs, Lieutenant, yes," Cidra says. "I shall ship them along on the next Raptor we have slated back to Cerberus." She's walking with Stavrian along the wall around the exercise yard. Smoking. "Is there anything more? Are we in any particular danger in terms of disease to our people from them? Given their…state I did not think so, particularly away from us in the cells as they are, but…" Well, she's no doctor. Or coroner.

"No, sir." Stavrian answers, with muted patience. She's a pilot, not a doctor. "They're all but dessicated. I would keep people away for the time being out of respect for the bodies and prevention of tampering with the scene — but as for biological threats, no. I'll have the casings ready for the next run to the ship. I'm to remain down here, so I will pass along any information promptly."

Cidra inclines her head to the medic. "I thank you, Lieutenant. That brings up another point that has been on my mind." She pauses. Idly ashing her cigarette (safely away from Stavrian, of course). Almost more toying with it between her long fingertips than anything else. "I…do not wish to simply leave them like this when we leave this place, if it can be helped. I have sent a message to our chaplain but…do you have any recommendation in terms of…laying to rest of the bodies? There are so very many…"

Stavrian clears his throat softly, a moment going by before he speaks. His dark blue eyes aren't directly on Cidra's, turned partly towards the prison instead. "Where I am from we would often cremate those whose souls were likely in…unrest." His voice too lowers, not that anyone's around to hear but he does it anyway. "Particularly suicides, so that they would not return to tempt the living into doing the same."

After many an hour, Raptor-411 eases down into the prison yard as much as a Raptor can ease down in atmo. When the hatch finally pops, it is LTJG Mara "Mouse" Smythe who emerges, going over her post-flight checks with one of the awaiting deckhands. Bootstrap, her backseater, remains inside, going over his own checks.

Cidra's eyes tick up as yet another Raptor returns from yet another search run over Sagittaron. Noting its return, likely synching its presence up with whatever tally she's keeping on the birds in the back of her mind. But she leaves it to its pilot's and ECO's devices for the moment. Attention still on Stavrian. "Cremation is customary where I come from as well," she says. "In my province, at least. Body is lain upon a pyre and given the rites as befits it. Then burnt, essence reduced to ash and given to the Lords and Ladies." A pause and she asks, rather out of the blue, "Where is it you come from, Lieutenant?" On Sagittaron originally, she likely means.

"About ten hours northwest of here by train, sir." Stavrian replies. Up where everything was nuked to shit, is the unspoken implication. His eyes watch the Raptor across the yard until a gap of silence passes, then he looks back at her. "We used to call the Gemenese 'too liberal'."

Ever thorough, the ECO inside isn't inclined to rush through the post-flight checklist. Eventually, however, he does emerge, those expressive brown eyes of his harsh with irritation, disappointment, or perhaps displeasure. As has been his wont since arriving on Sagittaron, Trask's flightsuit has been swapped for combat dress. After all, there are no plans to leave orbit and a flak vest certainly offers better protection against bullets. Fortunately, no one has yet to have been shot down. This, however, hasn't done anything to buoy his spirits. Even so, he's not rude per se to the Specialist he waves over to accompany him on a walkdown of the bird. Still, what knuckledragger likes dealing with a surly Squadron Leader?

Cidra makes another of those soft "Ah" sounds. Eyes drifting north by northwest. Though of course she can see little more than wall and prison from her position. The faintest of wry smirks at his last. "My mother would, I am sure, be most offended by that descriptor. But, then, not much is known of Sagittaron practices on Gemenon. Even my studies at the colleges were more concentrated on the split between our interpretation of the scrolls and that by the academics on Caprica." The word 'academics' is said with a cool disdain that's probably as much ingrained habit as actual feeling. "Each time I think I find a similarity between my Gemenon's practices and those of this world, I discover something else entirely alien." Her eyes are still half sidelong on the Raptor. Trask's disembarking is noted. They aren't terribly far off. But, with the settling of the bird still to be done, he remains left to his own devices.

Stavrian keeps up his study of Cidra's face until after she's spoken of academics, at which point his examination seems to soften. — a little. "Yes, sir," he remarks under his breath. "I still remember you at the services before our departure." His arms fold loosely over his chest and he glances at the Raptor again, the movement getting his attention every now and again. "I have endeavoured to adjust my stereotypes."

Since the death of Penelope, the 'interim' SL of the VAQ-141 has been keeping himself extremely busy. He also has, by and large, been keeping to himself. This probably is best when it comes to bristling bulls, which he certainly is. Eight hours of scouring the northern continent to no avail certainly hasn't improved his sour mood, and the Specialist now following him for the external ship inspection looks as though she's walking on eggshells while taking down notes.

"You are the first to hint at calling me a 'liberal', Lieutenant," Cidra replies to Stavrian. "My stereotypes are adjusted daily these days. I remain…often surprised." Oh-so-faintly amused. A puff is taken on her cigarette when he mentions the departure services. Blue eyes sharpen. She remembers that, she does. And it doesn't take much to bring it back to the forefront of her mind. She's walking with Stavrian, albeit slow enough to be called properly 'paused' now, along the wall. Trask has just returned from a search flight and is finishing up his post-flight work on his Raptor in their makeshift landing area not far off. "Yes. The auspices. I think of that often." A pause and she asks soft, "What did you make of that? Given all we have seen since?"

Ensign Apostolos steps out of the prison's garage, dusting her palms off on her pantsleg and squinting against the afternoon sun. She's of little use to the calibre of repairs the Cerberus requires, but give her something with diesel instead of tylium for blood and it's a whole 'nother game. It also keeps her busy between foot patrols and air searches, which is good for…well, all involved. She wipes her hands a second time, and digs for her cigarettes.

"Deformities carried deeply within us, pieces of us that could not have been borne and survived without us to feed them," Stavrian replies thinly, lips barely moving. "Yet no matter how monstrous, we share the flesh of twins." His arms fold a little more tightly, eyes flickering subtly back towards the Raptor. "Has that come from the north?" He asks the question as though the answer wasn't one he thinks he'll enjoy.

As the walkdown starts to wind down, Bootstrap finally gets around to unstrapping his helmet, which he removes only so long so he can run a hand through his damp, matted hair. Whatever he is saying to the Specialist is too quiet to be discernible.

"Lieutenant Trask and Lieutenant Smythe were scheduled to run up there, yes," Cidra says. Taking Stavrian's question as a cue to head back toward said Raptor. Motioning for him to follow. "Before the attacks, even before the war games, with all the little mechanical troubles on the ship, minor accidents that befell my pilots…I wondered if it might be an omen. Of…I do not know." A shrug. "Unwise to dwell on such, though. If one goes looking for omens, particularly in the past, one makes oneself see things that are not truly there."

The CAG and the corpsman take one approach vector toward the Raptor, and Tisiphone takes another. It's a wider and warier approach, one more likely to keep her unseen. Her footsteps rasp softly, gravel and grit against the concrete, and the smell of her cheap cigarettes trails after. At one point she pauses to scrub briskly at her sun-bleached hair, face creased with a moment of irritation.

"Or one connects dots that were always there," Stavrian returns in a measured tone. His arms stay crossed as Cidra starts for the Raptor, and he hangs there a moment before he turns that way as well.

Without fanfare, the helmet is again donned, its jaunty angle unintentional. Post-flight checks concluded, it's time to move on to the debriefing. First, however, Kal is in need of nicotine. Reaching into one of many pockets, he retrieves a crumpled pack of cigarettes and pulls out a smoke that evidently has snapped in two. Frowning, he drops it back in the box and plucks out one that is slightly bent but lacking tears. Flick-flick goes the wheel of the zippo. Let there be light and a long, lusty drag of the taste of tobacco. Turning, the CAG and the corpsman are noticed, but the only greeting they thus far receive is the stream of smoke that's being exhaled through the nostrils.

"Perhaps," is Cidra's reply to Stavrian. Too thoughtful on the matter for anything more. She speaks nothing further on it. She's got a cigarette going herself, and drags on it with feeling as she approaches Trask. "Bootstrap. Anything of note to report?" The question is asked without much expectation of an affirmative answer. But, one can hope.

Tisiphone detours sharply as Cidra and Stavrian close on the Raptor and strolls around the ship from the other direction. Step, step, scritch-step. Not so close to it that the protective Raptorfolk might get tetchy — no touchie, Viper jock! — but close enough for the purpose of all this. Eavesdropping.

The silence shrouding Stavrian is enough to consume its own oxygen supply. He comes to a stop near Cidra but quite as close, as she questions the Man Who Flew North. And there stays his attention.

"Every major city has been nuked to the nine hells," is blithely relayed. That qualifies as something of note. Just not in the sense that Cidra was hoping. "No nibbles in the countryside," the ECO continues, pausing to take another drag, this time blowing out a few smoke rings. "Anyone who may be alive up there is S-O-L. It's like tryin' to find a four-leaf clover in a sea of shamrocks. No sense wasting the fuel. Our birds eat enough tylium, as is, just operating in atmo. I'm callin' to call off the searches." Harsh, but pragmatism tends to not be kind. Besides, it's not as though the Harriers didn't give it the good ol' college try. "Maybe we'll still find people in the south. Dunno." The man's demeanor is too weary to quite qualify as insouciance, but it's damn close. "Stavs," is then added, in greeting, for he hasn't seen the PA-C in quite some time.

Cidra simply nods short at Trask's reply. Expression grave, but unsurprised. "Given our initial data we had not much hope of finding living souls there. But it needed to be tried. I concur with calling off flights up there. Concentrate on the south. Our reports in this region are a bit more encouraging. One of our out along the coast reported via wireless they believe they spotted signs of habitation in another of the fishing villages along the coast. I hope to hear back within the hour if they have managed to locate people there. It would be worth dropping some of those leaflets Lieutenant Aydin is preparing over some of the other southern cities as well. And getting foot patrols out to them as well." The eavesdropping ensign is not noticed. Yet.

Tisiphone's mouth pinches together for a moment and she rocks back on her heels, staring down determined at her boot-tips. A few wobbling seconds later, she clears her throat gently, looking up and across at the others. Flick-flick goes her finger against her cigarette filter before she tucks it into her mouth again, dragging deep upon it.

As the other two talk of the destruction, Stavrian's complexion has gone a nauseous pale. A noticeable occurence in one as dusky as he is. His eyes cut away from them, looking at nothing in particular, then he rocks his weight back and starts to turn back towards the cell buildings. "Trask. Sir. Excuse me."

In reply, Trask simply nods short at the CAG's concurrence. "If they find somethin', I'll pass along the coordinates to Sweet Pea." When Stavrian blanches at the conversation at hand, a certain rueful sympathy twists the Taurian's mouth and softens the severity of his eyes without lessening the intensity. Faintly, he nods in understanding but doesn't draw out the emotionality of the situation. The two men, after all, have an unspoken pact to not poke and prod at such sensitivities. "Sure."

There's a visible pass of abashment over Cidra's features as Stavrian pales and turns away. "I…thank you for your service, Lieutenant," she says simply. As if there's half an apology on the tip of her tongue, but it's held back. She lets him go. She's not one to prod at personal spots either, generally. It is only then that the throat clearing is noted. And up tick her eyes to Tisiphone. "Money Shot. How does the day find you?"

"Jesse?" Tisiphone's voice rasps and threatens to crack as she calls the corpsman's name. Talking into the loudspeakers all morning hasn't been kind to it. There's more to what she says, but it's Sagittaran; some sort of flat-pitched question, by the sound of it. She glances to him on the last few syllables, then away to Cidra. "Sir. Working on the offroad buggy they've got in the garage until the Marines are ready to patrol again."

"I'll be in touch, sir." The flatness in Stavrian's voice mercifully keeps it from cracking. He shakes his head to Tisiphone as he passes her, giving her a terse answer in their not-quite-the-same dialect. If there were more words to be gotten in edgewise he doesn't wait for them, stalking off towards the cells with one hand unconsciously curled into a tight fist.

Once Stavrian is seemingly out of earshot, Trask confesses, "I thought he was from the south." As if /that/ really lessens the blow of such annihilation. It's not something he dwells on, however, as that involves being sensitive and he has difficulty with such. So, instead he offers Tisiphone a laissez-faire greeting consisting of nothing more than, "Apostolos." Puff-puff.

Cidra's cloudy blue eyes follow Stavrian gravely. A shrug to Trask. "Nothing to do for it, Boots." She may dwell on it a little. But she lets the medic go without anything further. She listens to the snatch of Sagittaron exchanged between Stavrian and Tisiphone, but she clearly can't understand a word of it. She can barely manage to pronounce the local names without her drawly accent making them unrecognizable. A nod to Tisiphone. "Excellent. I did hear some of our technicians did get the buses back up and running. Far more ground we shall be able to cover with all of those at our disposal."

"Yeah, copy that," Tisiphone mutters, mostly under her breath, eyes flicking back to the departing corpsman. She blows out a lungful of smoke before making a sour face at Trask and saying, "No. Shiv and I were from the south. There's… anyway." She shrugs determinedly and pulls another drag off her smoke. To Cidra: "Yessir. Threw the loudspeakers on them. Was out this morning with the Marines getting the word out."

Tisiphone garners a vague nod. The pensive look lingers for a brief moment and then is abruptly tossed. "Right," Trask says in that decisive manner people do when they are announcing they are ready to leave. "I've got some paperwork I need to handle." And he relayed all he really needed to relay. So, with that said, he flourishes his free hand and faintly tips forward like what might be expected from a courtier. "Ladies." And with some more puff-puff-puffing, he's off.

"Very good. Our Raptors picked up some sort of radio transmission within the city. That is at least suggestive of people lingering here," Cidra says to Tisiphone. A parting nod to Trask. "I shall see you later, Bootstrap. I should be getting on myself, actually. One of our Raptors along the coast may have located more people in one of the fishing villages, and it is time to prod them for another wireless report, I do think."

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