PHD #323: Such Is Life
Such is Life
Summary: Cidra and Marshall discuss treason, duty, marriage, war, religion, and politics.
Date: 15 Jan 2042 AE
Related Logs: None.
Cidra Marshall 
Observation Deck - Deck 3 - Battlestar Cerberus
Post-Holocaust Day: #323
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.
Condition Level: 3 - All Clear

It took a bit of convincing, but Marshall has managed to get his Marine escort to relax and keep a bit of distance from him. He's here to enjoy the view, which is hard to do with a PFC hovering over his shoulder. The old man has taken up a seat facing the view of the stars, his briefcase resting on the floor beside him, one leg crossed casually over his knee with his hands folded in his lap. There's marked improvement in him since the day he was found on Tauron, though he's not quite back to his full strength yet. But with a clean shave, haircut, and smart-looking suit, he looks like he's starting to recover nicely.

Cidra likely heard Marshall was taking some rest here. As she drifts up to the Observation Deck not long after he does. She's in her off duties and looks, if not relaxed, than at least like she's at liberty for awhile. "How do you find the view, sir?" she asks upon approaching the old man. Tone friendly but still formal.

"Curious… curious," Marshall answers, his voice stronger than when last she heard it. "It has been three years since I was out in space, but everything looks different now. Like visiting a home you moved out of many years ago. It is the same at its core. But the furniture's changed, you see." He turns to face Cidra with a warm smile, but there's a slight sound before he does, like he's smacking his lips. It's not as pronounced as before, but he's still repeating his words to himself. "Major Hahn. From here, I was but an infinitesimal speck upon the surface of Tauron, and yet you managed to find me."

"It is our high duty to find that which remains on the colonies, sir," Cidra says, taking a seat next to him. "What precious remnant of humanity remains. Such as we can. Tauron was the last which the Cylons had flown from. Why, I cannot say. The men and women who were the rest of the worlds after the attacks are in my prayers, but I confess I can hope little for them, beyond peace for their souls. You are looking better than when last we met." She sounds glad of it.

"Come now, Major," Marshall says as she takes a seat, "I've neither rank nor stature now. Save the 'sir's for Andrus. I'm just plain old J.J. now." He sounds pleased with this fact, or at the very least happily resigned to it. "Yes, I'm feeling better after a brief stay in your sickbay. They say a little while longer and I would have expired of malnutrition. Your timing was impeccable." A serious nod emphasizes the statement. "Now I live aboard the Elpis, but I try to visit here when I can. I'm in between jobs, you see."

"You will have to pardon me," Cidra says. Foregoing any form of address that time, though she still does not call him by his first name. "You were my commander and, long ago as it was, it is not a thing that is easily forgotten. Nor should it be. I am grateful the gods held you long enough to be found. I can take little credit for the rest, beyond providing a ride. How is life upon the Elpis?" There's a beat of hesitation before she admits, "I have not ventured there, for my part. I have spent little time among the civilians in past weeks."

"Staredown, if you must," Marshall relents. "And I, too, am glad. Though part of me wishes I'd been burned alive in the nuclear attack so that I would never have borne witness to a Rear Admiral executed for treason." The words leave a bitter taste in his mouth, but he doesn't dwell upon the matter. "Given that I've been alone on Tauron for just shy of a year, the Elpis is overwhelming. There is little solitude to be had. The sounds and the voices startle me sometimes, but it's far preferable to the deserts of Tauron. How has the Cerberus treated you?"

"Staredown, then." That Cidra can manage. Mention of Abbot makes her bow her head and murmur something soft under her breath. In a language that definitely isn't Colonial Standard. Old Gemenese, if one knows about such things. It's hard to tell if it's a prayer or a curse. Perhaps some combination of the two. "It was a grievous thing. The idea that the man who commanded us for those first months could have been an abomination - that the enemy could have risen so high in the ranks of our military…" She shudders. "I prayed he was not, even until the very end. Truth be told I pray it now, guilty and dead though he is." She pauses a moment to consider the last question. As if unsure how to answer it. "The Cerberus is my ship. And her pilots my charges. They are good men and women, and it is a duty that makes one persevere. Such is a thing all need in these days."

Marshall is silent on the matter of Abbot, but his silence carries with it an implied skepticism. His opinion on the matter, aside from the dismay already expressed, is conspicuous by omission. "She is a fine ship," he agrees enthusiastically. "Certainly the best of ships by which to be rescued. Though I hope duty is not all that drives you, Major. In these dark times especially, one needs more than just duty and honor on their side."

"Duty is a beginning, sir…Staredown. It gives one a reason to go on, to strive for something better. I shall admit, duty has driven me much these last years which I have lived alone." There is a somber quality in Cidra's voice though, as with most things about her, it is faint. Muted. The woman has an inscrutable quality about her that certainly wasn't present when she was a quiet young LTJG. She tilts her head at him a notch. Voice lowering slightly.

"What are your thoughts on the matter of Admiral Abbot? It does seem to disquiet you much. It disquiets us all."

Marshall purses his lips, a gesture that could be seen as thoughtfulness or consternation. "I am not current on the details, so I will not speak to the court martial," he answers. "However, I shall say this: it is unbefitting for a flag officer face execution. And, although I am no lawyer, I am unclear on what authority he was tried and sentenced. Was the Battlestar Group not under martial law, and Abbot the highest ranking officer?" He frowns and shakes his head. "What's done is done. I wish I could have spoken with him longer before he met his fate, but… such is life. And death." He clears his throat and adjusts his sitting position, still keeping his back straight and shoulders pulled back. "I assume you speak figuratively when you say you have lived alone these last years, Major."

"Admiral Abbot was relieved of command when we found suspicion he was a Cylon agent," Cidra says. "A videotape, retrieved from Leonis, showed a man with his face leading a group of Centurions. It could not be ignored. He was held for many months before he faced trial. It was unorthodox. I shall admit this." And does she, perhaps, sound a touch uneasy about the who thing? Perhaps. "But I believe Colonel Pewter did what he could to see justice served." As for the last, she is quiet a beat. "Ah…yes. It has been many years since I left the Columbia. You would not…" Another pause. "My Daedrek was killed some…near a decade ago. Accident. Viper collision with another pilot over the asteroid fields around Canceron." She says it quickly. As if, like tearing off a band-aid, it'll hurt less if done swiftly.

"Ah…" Marshall's voice is tinged with sadness. Though he never knew them closely, he was the one who had married them those many years ago. "My deepest condolences, Major. He was a good man and an excellent officer." He reaches out and touches her hand lightly, offering some comfort for an old wound. "I lost my first wife; she was a Viper pilot like your husband. Lieutenant Isabel Barton. Killed in battle during the War - the first war." He is ancient. "It was nearly fifty years ago, but I still remember that day. I still remember that pain. So you have my sincerest sympathies."

Cidra looks down at her hand when he touches her, surprised, but she does not pull away. "Thank you," she says softly. "I did not wed again. On Gemenon one weds for life. And it not common for a widow to take another husband. I never wished to, anyhow. It seemed…less complicated this way." She leaves it at that. "The War against the Cylons…my gods. Forty years gone. I was born but two years after it. It always seemed a thing of distant stories. History books in school. We thought the peace would last for always, save whatever bickering there was between the colonies."

"Forty years gone, but as yesterday in my mind," Marshall replies, a fierce pride edging into his voice. "All this has happened before, and all of it will happen again." His hand is pulled back into his lap as he stares out into the starry darkness, surely remembering moments from the First Cylon War. "I remarried twice," he says, suddenly changing the topic back. "Both ended in divorce. I would like to think that had Isabel made it, we would still be together today. But such is life. And again, death."

"The wheel of life keeps turning, and not always happily," Cidra agrees softly, her own eyes going out to the stars. "What was it like, that war? I cannot even picture the worlds as they were then. The Colonies divided, the Cylons once our servants, turned upon us…it changed everything so much. And yet we barely had more than a generation of peace."

"It was chaos. I marvel still that humanity won that war. We were frantic, disorganized, and manic. I still remember when I was transferred from Battlestar Galactica to Battlestar Theia. Nobody knew I was coming. Nobody knew who I was, where I was going, or which Squadron I was flying with." Marshall shakes his head, touching his fingertips together. "The Gods were surely on our side, Major. That is the only explanation I can give as to how we came to be victorious."

"I wonder what the gods think of us now?" The question is asked quietly, as if it's half more reflection than any real query to Marshall. Cidra sighs. "Are they on our side? There are so few of us left. We cannot hope to stand against the Cylon hordes. Yet we remain. Only numbering in the thousands but…we do remain. I cannot see a road to victory, given the blow the Cylons have dealt us. These days…I just try and see a way forward."

"That's what we thought after Caprica," Marshall says, referring to humanity's encounter with the Cylon Basestars in 1995. "I watched Isabel die, I saw the Theia utterly destroyed… amongst countless other casualties. But the Gods will uplift the faithful, Major, this I know. It matters not how few we are nor how numerous and powerful the enemy. I was stranded for nearly a year on Tauron, but I never lost hope. Never lost faith. The Gods sent you to save me just as I was on the brink of death. So shall it be for us all. Never lose hope and never lose faith, for the Gods are watching over us always."

"I believe the gods saved us for a purpose," Cidra says. "If only to sustain humanity. This is the duty I serve now. And that is no small thing. I keep my faith, dark as the days become. It is the path forward that I cannot always see, though I know it exists somewhere, if only we can put our feet upon it solidly." For a beat she studies the old man's face. "And what purpose would you serve now, Staredown? I admit, it is odd to see you out of a Colonial uniform. I know retirement comes to us all but…I admit I could never picture what I would do when I left the service. I just put off thinking about it these last years, though I knew it was coming. Once you are past forty your flying days are numbered most severely."

"Politics was my life these past years," Marshall muses aloud, "but there exists no need for politics in a Fleet under martial law. What purpose exists for a man holding a doctorate degree in political science who spent forty years in the Navy? Very little at the moment, I'm afraid." He smiles at Cidra and taps two fingers on the arm of his chair. "But I sense that change is soon to be upon us, Major, and even an old man like me may prove to once again be useful."

"We still have need of a civil society," Cidra says. "Perhaps more now than ever, when it has been shattered. You have seen the civilians up closer more than I, but they seem to have little direction. Little…sense of purpose. Being in the military at least supplies that. There those among them that try. Miss Sawyer Averies, and that lovely girl, Miss Rose Ibbhanas. But I fear their good efforts are not enough against less clear-thinking forces."

"Perhaps… perhaps," Marshall responds. He sees the reflection of his Marine escort approaching him and holds up a finger requesting a moment longer. "It seems my time is up, Major, so I shall leave you with this simple thought in response. What good is direction to a group who are unable to steer themselves? How do they develop a sense of purpose when they lack self-determination?" Rising, he smooths down his jacket and picks up his briefcase. "As ever, Major Hahn, it has been a pleasure. Thank you for the company and the conversation."

"You may call me Cidra, if you like," the woman says, standing as he does. Posture straight. Almost as if she half wants to salute him, though she stops herself from doing that. "Or Toast. If I am not to call you 'sir,' it seems only proper. It has been…good to speak with you. Gods mercies upon you. I shall try to get over to the Elpis some time. To see how you steer yourself there, perhaps."

"I would very much enjoy a visit, Cidra," Marshall says. "And it would be good for you as well, I think, to get away from the uniform and the duty, even just for brief moments." He gives her a final nod in farewell. "Fly swift, shoot true. The Gods are with you." Turning, he walks with the PFC out of the room, headed back to the Elpis once more.

"Clear eyes and steady hands, Staredown," Cidra offers to the man in parting. She lingers on the Obs Deck after he's gone, watching the stars.

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