PHD #182: Spirits and Muses
Spirits and Muses
Summary: Talk of those that've been found on Sagittaron, for good and for ill.
Date: 27 Aug 2041 AE
Related Logs: The Widening Gyre; Ancestor Worship
Tisiphone Cidra Cilusia 
Insert crappy and violent planet terrain here.
Post-Holocaust Day: #182

The sun slowly turns a blazing, bloodied red as it sinks toward the horizon. Another day on Sagittaron, this one navigated without white phosphorus mortars, snipers, or suicide bombers. Let the away team be grateful for small mercies.

Ensign Apostolos is turning the base camp inside-out in an unhurried manner. The CAG is still planetside, and she's not on patrol. There are a limited number of places where one can hide. Theoretically. She searches hither and thither, a clipboard dangling carelessly from one hand as she goes.

Cidra is indeed still planet-side. And it shows. She's gotten some sun. Mostly during her first few days, which mercilessly taught her the importance of proper sunblock application. At least her nose is no longer peeling. She may even leave her with a tan. She emerges from the farmhouse, sidearm at her hip, as it has been affixed since she parked her Raptor down here. Tisiphone's movements hither and thither are noted. And she turns her long stride in that general direction. "Apostolos. How goes the day?"

Near the janky new parking spots for the Raptors and Vipers, Cilusia is hanging out. For the most part, the ships are taken care of, checked out following the barn fire, and functioning just great. There's always some sort of regular maintenance to be done though, checking wires, checking hydraulics…all the shit that would be done to these birds were they still aboard ship, as part of daily checks. So, that's what Cilusia's doing while one of the pilots hunts down another one of the pilots.

There might be an olive tone creeping into Tisiphone's complexion, beneath the sunburn. Whether it'll stay after the sunburn's gone, though, is anyone's guess. The late summer sunshine has turned her overgrown scalpfuzz from ash-blonde back to the bleached wheat-white she escaped Leonis with. It lays flattened and disheveled against her head, and is raked into a new mess with a restless scrub of her free hand. Spotting the CAG, her chin lifts in mute greeting, steps speeding up to close with her. "Sir. Shiv wanted me to get this to you. It's the translation you wanted. Said he needed to get ready for patrol. Think he just wanted to finish his smoke." A brief grin is quirked as she offers the clipboard out.

Cidra's wandering was taking her in the general direction of the planes when she paused to hunt Tisiphone, so they're not far from the birds and Cilusia now. The CAG offers the deckhand a small inclination of her head as her eyes pass. But it's the Viper pilot that still holds the main of her attention. Slightest smirks at the comment as she takes the clipboard. "I trust him to be very well-prepared, then. And my thanks to you. The both of you. This shall aid much. I want no misunderstandings with this woman and Standard often lacks…precision."

While others scramble to keep themselves sunblocked and covered up to avoid sunburn, Cilusia manages to get away with just the bare minimum: she does come from a place where the sun, the heat, and the humidity are ways of life. To some extent, she seems to revel in it, in fact - it's an excuse to basically tool around camp in just a tank, with that crazy mane of hair all over (like Tisiphone's, getting a hint lighter from all that sun - not too much, but some!), and a rather welcome little sheen of sweat. There's just something nicer about being out in real sun and real heat, rather than the exertion that comes from working in recycled air. Uh-oh, are those pilot-sorts heading over this way? Probably a good idea to slide off the winglet of that Raptor and look busy!

No child of the more equatorial reaches of the Southern Continent, she; Tisiphone's far-southerly corner of the world ran to giant cedars and moss instead of mangroves and lotuses, pumas instead of crocodiles. "I think it's more polite than she deserves, speaking frankly, Sir," says the Viper pilot as she follows along a half-step behind the CAG's elbow. "There's no way she won't try to skew a neutral location around to her advantage." Pale eyes track Cilusia's hasty departure from the Raptor's wing, and another here-and-gone-again grin is quirked.

Cidra is definitely from a cooler location natively. She's naturally fair, with that extra tinge of pallor that comes with long-term space service and little in the way of proper sunlight. After the first days reddened her, she's now wearing a solid layer of a high-SPF on all exposed surfaces. She skims the clipboard. With narrowed eyes. Not that she can actually read the Sagittaron version of her missive Tisiphone's given back to her. But she *stares* at it as if it will avail itself of any hidden insults due to the power of her gaze. It apparently does not, so she just shrugs. "Politeness never does any harm, Apostolos. I find it gives on the upper-hand, in fact. Many have no idea how to handle one who is relentlessly well-mannered. They find it unnerving. I have never been sure why, but it is occasionally very amusing." That faintest of smirks remains as she also notes Cilusia's quick slide off the Raptor. "Petty Officer. How do the birds keep?"

All the craft here are definitely air-worthy, definitely capable of passing back through atmo and into space following the attack on the barn. Some quick thinking by others who were around and some follow-up checks saw to that. Today's little bit of faux-work is checking some of the access panels, making sure they're all latched up and secured should these things be flown. "Well, they're ah…good to go, Sir," Cilusia says with a nod. "Ran all the checks on this Raptor myself, in fact." One of the perks of wearing just a tank? Well, she went through all the trouble and pain getting that full sleeve, so why not show it off a bit?

Tisiphone /wants/ to disagree with the suggestion that politeness never does any harm — it's clear in the way her sun-bleached brows twitch immediately after it's said, and how she prims her mouth and stalls for a few seconds by digging out her cigarettes. "I just think-" she begins, restlessly tapping out a cigarette from the rumpled pack, then cuts herself off with, "-well, I'm no mediator, Sir." She snorts softly at herself at the thought, head tipped forward to light her smoke.

"Excellent. At least one can count on the mechanics to still run efficiently in any location," Cidra says with a quick nod to Cilusia. Her arms, though caked in sunscreen, are likewise bare. Tattoos on display, though her twining olive branch is not quite so elaborate as the deckie's lilies. "Keep them under camouflage netting when you do not need to work on them, but we shall keep them out of doors from now on. It was unwise on my part to keep them in the barn in the first place. Just made them difficult to move in an emergency, and this way they shall be easier to scramble should worse come to worst." As for Tisiphone, she earns one of those bare hints of smiles at her inability to argue. "I am glad you agree, Apostolos." A pause before she adds, "I am not either, honestly, but I suspect this shall need to be sorted face to face. If it can be sorted. Lieutenant Nikephoros is better at talking. You and Shiv are better at dealing with Sagittarons. I shall muddle through. You have met her, yes? This…Melpomene?"

"Well, yeah. We like to get some work done in between sunbathing and eating steak, Sir," Cilusia replies with a sort of lopsided grin. It's a joke, of course. It goes without saying that they aircraft will be kept under the camo netting as well. "Will do," she does reply to the suggestion though. "We can do most of our work on them when they're still under that netting as well. Gives us a bit of shade, though not as much as mucking around right underneath them of course."

"Lieutenant Oberlin's the one who ought to be handling it," mutters Tisiphone around her cigarette, under her breath as the CAG and the deckie speak. She frowns toward the darkening sky, as if she can see the Cerberus — or more precisely, its sickbay — from here. Who gave the spook permission to try to blow himself to bits, anyway? Sheesh. She digs her hands down into her pockets and rocks back on her heels, cigarette bobbing in time with her gentle wobbles. Her attention stays fixed on Cilusia's inked arm as she says, "Yessir. I was at the village when she ambushed us. I've seen- clips of her before. Photographs. Never, uh." She clears her throat. "Never in person. Muse of Tragedy. Almost don't- understand why she's still around."

"Is there steak left?" Cidra is reminded to ask by Cilusia's comment. "Hippo has an…interesting texture. Sweet." Another nod to the deckhand. "Very good. I would not mind sheltering under them myself, given the climate here." Though she does not sound precisely like she's complaining. It's been a good long while since she's been even remotely at risk of a sunburn. Tisiphone's comment about Oberlin gets no response from her, though her gaze follows the ensign's upward. "Best we can with the pieces we have…" she mutters. "Anyhow." Cloudy blue eyes back direct on Tisiphone. "What do you make of her?"

"There was some left as of yesterday, I figure. Might all be gone by now, but I didn't check yet today, Sir," Cilusia replies to Cidra. As for the rest of the conversation? If there's one thing that Cilusia's occasionally good at, it's staying the frak out of other's conversations…particular when it involves two pilot officers. The shit they talk about tends to go right over her head. So far, she's caught something about one of the Saggies down here, questioning, maybe one of the people hurling phosphorous at the camp. Who knows?

"Bet Chief Pridgeon claimed half of it, right off," Tisiphone says. There's been a hint of respect by way of /fear/ whenever the galley chief is mentioned, since the pilot did her time in the kitchen. "Hippo's gotta weigh four thousand, fourty-five hundred pounds. Had to be a ton of meat on it at least. Guess we'll know if we have Hippo Casserole night sometime soon, hey?" Another smoky snort as she rocks forward, setting her feet flat against the earth, her eyes falling down to her boot-tips. She takes a drag off her cigarette before speaking again. "I don't think there'll be any reasoning with her, Sir. She never was one of the SSLF moderates. I got the impression from, uh-" A vague gesture. "-what I read that she might've been Krotos's right hand."

"Is it common for a woman to hold such a position of respect in the insurgent ranks?" Cidra asks Tisiphone. Quite curious about this point. "It rather surprised me, given some of what I had heard of this world." She is standing near where the planes are now situated. Talking with Tisiphone, and Cilusia off and on, who hangs nearby. To the deckhand she explains, "I am endeavoring to arrange a meeting with the leader of the insurgents in this region. Discuss their situation with ideally fewer explosions."

"Ah, that's a fairly diplomatic solution to things…even after they decided to approach negotiations with permission to open fire," Cilusia says with a little shrug. "Couldn't hurt to have some insurgents in our corner though. Seemed to work pretty frakkin' good on Leonis. Get the locals to help you out, and it becomes a hell of a lot easier." A diplomat Cilusia most certainly is not, nor will she ever be confused with one!

The pilot's fascination with her boot-tip moves to the ground in front of it, where she unearths a rock with meticulous patience. Something Cilusia says gives her pause, and makes the next drag off her cigarette deeper than the ones before. "Might be she'd see killing any survivors we find as saving them," she muses on the exhale. "Saving them from us. Stuck in a war machine full of godless offworlders for the rest of your life. Medicators and meat from a can. Might be she's trying to finish the last sorry song for this damn place." Tisiphone shrugs suddenly, with perhaps surprising lightness. "Might all be way too frakking poetic for whatever her goals are. She wasn't- the voice of the SSLF where I was. It's… symbolic that they're in charge of the cells. Krotos and his nine Muses- nine wives, might as well be. And you don't run your mouth at your boss's wife if you respect your boss." Or want to keep your neck, in the case of the SSLF.

"Nine wives? Ah." Cidra deadpans it as she gets that image together in her mind. "Well. She must have a strong hand if she has held her people together through the near-destruction of this world. That is no small thing." There is still a great deal of curiosity about the CAG as she thinks on this Melpomene. "Perhaps it shall be futile but it is worth more trying than not. The worlds are dying, and whoever might remain here at least deserves a choice. We cannot linger here much longer. Command shall want to press on to Aerilon soon." Her gaze sharpens a little suddenly. "There have been others our search parties have encountered, yes? Besides the SSLF and Lieutenant Ulixes."

"If only they saw it as a clear cut option…if they even see it as an option. If they are killing their own people to keep them from even entertaining options of coming back to the fleet with us…well, that doesn't sound like someone that's gonna be easy to sit down at a table and talk sense with. But then, I figure you know these people better than I ever could," Cilusia says to Tisiphone and giving them both her two cents in the matter. "If it can be done though? Great, more people saved, ones that are tough enough to have hung on this long."

"'More than three wives and you're asking for all the trouble you'll get,'" says Tisiphone, as if reciting. "Uncle used to say it all the time." Beat. "He had four." Her cigarette bobs with a brief, wry twist of mouth. "Southern Continent's been near-destructed since before the First War, Sir. When it wasn't one of the other colonies swinging by for shits and giggles, it was Aera Yazd waving its-self-" Good recovery, Ensign. Good recovery. "-at Aera Pona, or, or, or…" She shrugs again, seeming more tired at, than troubled by, the history lesson. "There's a reason the Cylons pounded the north into dust. They knew the south could finish the job themselves. If it was up to me? I'd check the outskirts of Aera Yazd and maybe…" She gnaws a spot on her bottom lip for a second. "Maybe try to convince the… folks we found up in the mountains to come down. They might know where more are, too."

Cidra smirks, oh-so-faintly, at Tisiphone's recovering. Is she amused? Perhaps. "The cities even in this area of the continent were hit to near decimation. Still, like Kythera, some survivors might *have* gone to them if they did not want to risk hiding in insurgent territory. Especially with the Cylons…gone." That, she does not understand. And things she does not understand do not sit well with her, even if they mean not facing hordes of Centurions. "Anyhow, we should send parties out to sweep the outskirts of Aera Yazd, Aera Pona, Sthethoi, and perhaps even some of the northern settlements before we leave. If nothing else, perhaps some materials remain we can salvage." More focus on Tisiphone. "I have heard some of these…mountain folk. But not all. You think they would be amenable? From the reports they were, at least, more receptive than the SSLF." Low standards, those.

While Cidra and Tisiphone get into heavier parts of the conversation, Cilusia disappears around the far side of the boxy Raptor. Only her boots can be seen from under the thing, though she can be heard clunking around on the other side, climbing up onto a winglet to check out that other side and get the missile covers off should Cidra want to take this puppy up and out.

"The slums were full of tunnels," says Tisiphone, her gaze skittering over to the Raptor as Cilusia crawls in underneath it. "Like- rabbit warrens. Root cellar to root cellar. I lived there about a year. The dropped a nuke right on downtown Kythera, and how many people did we find there? It's- there's- maybe there's something. There's gotta be something worth saving." Her brows twitch again, her earlier lightness replaced with pensiveness. "Not everyone puts out punji sticks as a welcome mat. The- people up in the mountain caves. If they're willing to leave, there's- they'd be good people to bring back."

"If they are willing to leave." Cidra shakes her head, frustration evident. Maybe part of her was naive enough to think they /would/ be welcomed with flowers. Or at least some measure of happiness that there were other human beings left alive in the universe. She sighs. "We shall take any we can. That is the point of us being here. Along with a look in those facilities the Cylons built. I suspect Command shall want to move on that soon. Why would they not want to leave?" Head tilts at Tisiphone. "I was given to understand they were not of the same ilk as the insurgents."

"They believe they're guarding the mouth of the River Styx and bearing witness to the souls trapped there." Tisiphone does her best to sound completely neutral as she says this — like some anthropologist relating information found on a computer somewhere. It works, for the most part, except for the way she runs her teeth over her bottom lip to worry at a cracked spot, and shuffles her weight from one restless stance to the next. "It's a heavy burden to throw down for the sake of your own safety."

End Pt. I / Begin Pt. II

Cidra was called away from her chat with Tisiphone and the milling deckies to a Raptor, for a wireless call from the XO. She emerges from said Raptor now. The CAG is generally inscrutable. Generally. But she doesn't terribly think anyone is looking now. Her expression is pinched in a mixture of worry and frustration. Before she steps properly away from the Raptor she turns, taking a deep breath, and kicks it. She's wearing boots, fortunately. And it's an armored vehicle. So nothing is broken or dented. She doesn't look much like it helped her mood, though.

Tisiphone hasn't wandered far. The grounded Vipers are just across from the Raptors, and the Mark VII with the bullet-dented weapon mounts is being frowned at from close range. The important part should be that it and its pilot came back intact, not that it came back in perfect condition, but she seems to be forgetting that detail at the moment. The THUNK of booted toes meeting Raptor flank brings her head up and pulls her back a step from the bird, almost guiltily. Bad pilot. No touchie. Only shootie.

Cidra looks up and blinks. Hey, there's Tisiphone. Close enough to observe her CAG-on-Raptor violence. Deep breath, features smoothed. Hands clasped tightly in front of her, white-knuckles the only residual sign of tension a beat later. "Apostolos. I am sorry. That did take longer than I did expect."

"Sir?" Tisiphone's pale brows again write uncertainty across her face with their slight, furrowed twitching. To pry, or not to pry. "There's- is there a problem back on board? Do you need me to go find Shiv?" Her chin lifts as she scans the farmyard for her fellow Saggie, then looks back to Cidra.

"Not just this moment but I shall need to speak with Captain Sitka very soon in detail," Cidra replies, tone still rather clipped. "Also Lieutenant Nikephoros and either Lieutenant Lunair or Sergeant Constin. And there is no problem back on board beyond those of a phallic nature." Ahem. She almost bites her tongue. Almost. "Command is getting jumpy, particularly after that suicide bomber came to our camp. But I believe I can get the situation in hand before something very stupid occurs. I need an hour or so to gather my thoughts, in any case. Do not worry over it, Apostolos. It shall be handled."

Tisiphone's mouth curls up sourly at one corner, and she shoots another glance skyward. "What were they expecting? You think they'd be happy nobody's been shot yet. Considering the welcome we got and where we are, it's sure as shit been quieter than /I/ expected." She throws her arms out gently, jostling her shoulders with a shrug, then starts to dig out her cigarettes. "I'll- find you in a bit, then, Sir? I made some photocopies of the travel maps in the ship's library. Maybe Shiv and I can figure out some landing spots near the cities."

Cidra just about answers that, but her tongue *is* bitten this time. She is, in front of her pilots at least, a company woman. Public criticism of command is a rarity, and she likely regrets snapping even as much as he did before. "I would appreciate that, Apostolos. The areas on the outskirts of the cities, particularly. Locations of high schools, stadiums perhaps, old military installations. Places with both fields for landing space and defensible positions." Doesn't sound like she wants an area that'd just do for plunking down a Raptor for a salvage op. But she does not elaborate on whatever plan she's spinning immediately. "But first. You were speaking of those people you had encountered in the caves. Lieutenant Trask had mentioned the…Sibyl before."

Tisiphone's hand pauses on the way back to her pocket, arcing out instead to tilt the rumpled pack toward Cidra. "Sir?" she offers. Her zippo's dug out next to light her cigarette — as well as the CAG's, if she snags one. "Funny he'd call her a Sibyl," she says, words mumbled a little against the filter, the fresh-lit cherry drawing little orange lines in the gloom. "He didn't even see her. They weren't there for prophesying. But. They believe it's a sacred place. They protect it, but they were peaceful as long as we were."

"You mentioned them…guarding the River Styx?" Cidra knows not quite what to make of this, but she's most interested. "Well. Peaceful is something more than we have gotten from most thus far. How many of them were there?" She lights up a fresh cigarette of her own while she waits for an answer. She needs a smoke just now. And it gives her something to do with her hands rather than clench them to strangulation-strength around her own fingers.

"Mmn." It's a cautious sound that Tisiphone makes as she leans a shoulder into the Viper she was fretting over, her gaze squirming here and there before fixing on her cigarette. "Yessir. It's what they believe. There was an- interesting thing I read, when I was in Caprica City. One of the religious scholars at the Delphi talked about the Styx having mouths upon each of the colonies that fed into the underworld. It would- be like that. I'm not sure how many there were. At least a dozen that I saw. Four or five on the ledge, with guns, who escorted us in. Maybe… maybe closer to twenty, all told. I didn't think to ask, and then I was too tired in the morning to remember."

"Tired?" Cidra eyes the ensign. In that mild way she has of eyeing things. "Ah." But the rest of that meets with her general approval. She nods short. "Twenty. Well, that is something. If they can be convinced to go. Some of them may believe it their duty to stay with the mouth of the river. But they seem at least more amenable to talking than Madam Melpomene." Faint frown. "Trask mentioned something else. Concerning…spirits?" Again, no disbelief her tone, but great curiosity.

"There's a whole school of- belief, here, of non-violence. Of doing no harm." Tisiphone breathes out a sharp puff of smoke, as if she knows how absurd it sounds, butted up against a week of punji sticks and suicide bombers. "It was more popular in the north, but it- took down here, too. Sometimes. They weren't violent people. They just- have a duty." Her head tips back against the charcoal grey wing. "I stayed the night. Shiv did, too- to make sure nothing went wrong. He didn't participate. I don't think he could have." There's another uncertain twitch of her brows before she continues. "It's…" Deep breath. On the exhale, she gets it out: "It's thick with souls down there, Sir. How many million people dead on Sagittaron? How many have found their way there already? I helped them bear witness for a night. It was- it was- I don't know if I could do it again. But I don't know that I could refuse if they asked me to, either."

Cidra does not seem to find it absurd. Another soft "Ah…" is forthcoming. If anything, she looks even more curious. "I know little of Sagittaron belief systems. Even on Gemenon, when I studied Theology at the Colleges, the scholarship was mainly concerned with the split between the Fundamental readings and Caprican doctrine. There was not a good deal of reliable scholarship about Sagittaron available. It seemed…apart from either school of belief." A small nod at the word 'duty.' That she understands. At the last, her expression grows more inscrutable. And more pensive. "You felt the spirits there?"

"The difference to me always felt like- the Gemenese were about /practice/, and the Capricans were about /theory/. Could argue that it meant the former were too invested, too close to the topic, and that the latter were too clinical, I guess, but maybe there's good and bad to both. It always felt very… lofty, to me. We were- just some damn Saggies translating the Caprican Standard translation of the Old Gemenese translation of the original Scrolls. How much of the original transmission do you get out of a message that's been encrypted three times, you know?" The analogy amuses her; she chuckles for a moment at herself, shaking her head. "I think everyone that was in that cave felt them. Lieutenant Nikephoros says she's not sure what she was reacting to, and I haven't asked Shiv what had /him/ spooked, but-" She shrugs. "Impossible /not/ to feel them, Sir. Even on the way into the cave."

"The practice, the words, the ritual, give *form* and function to belief," Cidra says. "They are what the gods left for us, and bind us to our belief. Without practice, belief is hollow lip-service." It seems a half-automatic response to any comparison between the ways of her homeworld and those of Caprica. "Everyone?" Blue eyes get rather more intense in their gaze on the ensign. Is she…jealous? As always, it's hard to tell, but that's the only real way to describe it.

There's barely a nod in response to Cidra's words, and it's belatedly given, as if Tisiphone's agreement was a foregone conclusion. Her pale eyes stay downcast, tracking the ragged ribbon of smoke drifting up from her cigarette as she rolls it back and forth in her fingers. Considering. "I believe so, Sir. Whether they'd admit to it…" …is another thing entirely, that shrug says. "I don't know what else you'd call it to feel something pulling you along by the hand and a second later you look forward and your wingleader's starting at nothing where that /something/ would be. But- you know. Wilful ignorance is a powerful thing." Beat. "Why don't you bring a group back to the caves yourself, Sir? Shiv's not a praying man, and I'm no public speaker. Cumaea's Standard was good. You'd be the right one to speak to her."

"I have been to places where ghosts supposedly walk before. I have never felt anything. Even when I knew, in my head, they were there. Even when I did the rituals perfectly," Cidra says. Rather tersely. Slim frown still upon her lips. But at the last, she nods. Tone moderating. "I would be very honored to speak with her. From the sound of things, they shall stay at this…mouth where you found them. I shall have some matters to settle in the coming day or so, but I would do this while I have the opportunity."

Tisiphone prods at a cracked spot on her bottom lip several times before she says, "I don't- it's not a sign of how… favoured… one is, whether the souls of the dead speak to you or not, Sir. I think… some would say it's not a blessing at all. I think it's a mercy to be able to let the dead go. But." She inclines her head slightly, as if deferring, then pushes herself up from her slouch against the Viper. After clearing her throat, she says, "I should get started on those landing locations for you. If- just let me know, when your timing's good to go back into the mountains. My schedule's freer than yours." An uneasy flick of a grin.

"Doe and this Marine I spoke to, Sergeant Rufinus, claimed they had a vision. Of a place I know on Gemenon. Neither are followers of the Faiths." Cidra smokes long. "Not a sign of favor? I am not so sure about that. It is a sign one is…receptive. Open. I try, Apostolos. But the gods would rather speak to the hearts of non-believers than…" She trails off. Stopping herself from going any further on that topic. She clears her throat. "Yes. Good. Get to it. Perhaps tomorrow. Travel within this region may become more…difficult for us soon." No elaboration on why she thinks that yet.

"Whenever's good for you, Sir. Just give the word." TIsiphone steers carefully clear of matters of receptiveness and faith, concentrating instead on the practical. "Earlier in the day, the better- they'll be less wary if they can easily see us coming." She hesitates a moment, as if considering something else to say, then simply lifts her cigarette in a smoky salute-of-sorts before heading off toward the farmhouse with a purposeful stride.

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