PHD #056: Swords to Plowshares
Swords to Plowshares
Summary: Rejn and Karthasi have a talk about vengeance. Sofia boggles.
Date: 24 Apr 2041 AE
Related Logs: None.
Rejn Karthasi Sofia 
Chapel — Deck 9 — Battlestar Cerberus
The hatchway opens into a dimly lit corridor, stark grey walls now and again painted with some mural appropriate to the religious season, stretching from floor to ceiling and then sloping down away from the ceiling in two triangular forms that bracket off the tiered seating areas to either side. Straight ahead, in the center of an open space, stands a simple rectangular altar, the emblems of the Lords thereupon arrayed to receive sacrifice in the tall room when the altar isn't decked for some more specific use. Hestia, who is not vouchsafed her own emblem on the altar, is etched in relief on one side of the altar itself, shown tending the hearth in her usual fashion.I n the wall behind the open area are three evenly spaced hatchways which can only be opened and closed from the inside. The small cubicles behind each hatchway are each furnished with a small altar against the back wall, upon which sometimes the dark shape of a sacred object can be discerned even from the tiered seating for visiting on the sacral days. The hatches can be closed to block out profane eyes from rites they were not meant to see. The walls between each little cubicle can be retracted to create a larger space for more well-attended mysteries.
Post-Holocaust Day: #56

Morning breaks cold and clean aboard Battlestar Cerberus, heralded not by rosy-fingered dawn but the flicker of candles just now being lit. A few devout crewmen flit down the dimly-lit corridors, their feet padding softly against the hard metal deck, and in their hands they bear long matches that smell of incense and smoke: holy offerings for the Lords who hold sway over the destinies of Man.

Allan Rejn is here, too, watching. He's had the good grace to take off his blazer and hang it on the back of his chair, and there's a detached expression on his wide and flabby features. Narrow blue eyes are closed beneath those tinted spectacles that never seem to leave his face, and if not for the silent opening and closing of his lips, others might very well think he's asleep. Stretching shadows twist over his sallow skin and his pinstriped shirt, coupling like drunken maenads on this screen of fabric and flesh.

Add another to the audience. Sofia's on and off duty with a cap on her hours. But it's a peaceful place here and perhaps she appreciates what the people here did for her once. That Thousand Yard stare never leaves her face, haunting her green eyes. She inches in quietly. The incense must be a perk at least. Unwittingly, she finds herself near Rejn. Uh oh. That'll teach her to not pay attention.

Karthasi arrives not long after the morning offerings have begun, stopping at the hatch-end of the vestibule to lower her head in reverence to the altar before stepping over the threshold. Her uniform fresh and crisp, as befits so early in the day, hair freshly cleaned and dried, even if the woman herself has not had the night's sleep that such trappings indicate. She watches the Lords being given their due honors, hanging back in the vestibule a short ways, not to hover over her NCOs, but observing them, no less, since she has a moment to do so.

Fortunately, Rejn doesn't notice either of the women who've just shown up, and just as well — one of them has already been given one of his trademark nicknames, and chances are highly unlikely the other will be able to get away without receiving a gift along those very lines. Fragments of whispered words flit over to their ears, the sweet and sibilant susurrations of his very own morning prayers — or whatever else he's going on about. After all, he doesn't really seem the type who wakes up in the earliest of early morning hours to pay the gods the respect they're due.

Oh yes. SUDDENLY Sofia notices Rejn. Her eyebrows lift. Wait, him? Here? Her eyebrows find a new home on her forehead. But regardless, she is quiet and respectful as things go on for now, eyeing Rejn and the morning activities alternately.

Karthasi tucks her hands at the small of her back, chin tilted just a little toward her chest as she takes in the devotions with an air of tacit approbation. Once they're finished, she steps free of the vestibule even as they move back toward it, engaging in a few quietly voiced words of conversation — nothing too weighty, though she does ask something of one of the group more briskly voiced than the rest — her aide, in fact, who retreats with a nod to go see to some matter.

Blue eyes flash open at an unexpected sound — a full-body sneeze that causes the offending enlisted girl to jerk backwards, her match flaring out from the force of the air expelled from her mouth. But even that doesn't break the mood. Rejn merely gives the girl a vague, secret smile before pushing himself upright in his chair, his beige dress pants riding up on his thighs to expose his bland black socks and a flash of ankle. "I won't say anything," he murmurs. "Didn't see shit." Cursing in the chapel? Gods save him.

Blink at the sneeze. "Bless you," She whispers, just to be safe. Can't have people's souls flying out here. Sofia blinks as Rejn speaks. Gack. She lifts her eyebrows and resumes a quiet, upright position. A polite smile towards Karthasi. Sofia is looking around though. Hmmm. Apparently someone's chapel habits were lapsed before all of this.

"Sinistr' ut ante dextra sternuit," Greje adds her two cubits to the issue of the sneeze, the words almost light-hearted, well-omened as they are in their scriptural context, as she comes to the altar alongside the petty officer, takes up a match, herself, and, "Let me come to this place with purity of spirit, integrity of intent and correctness of right-action," she murmurs half-under her breath, going about finishing lighting the devotions, sending a meek smile over toward Rejn and Sofia thereafter.

And in a light-hearted well-omened tone of his own, Rejn greets Sofia at last. "Morning, Miss Chesty." Those words come out as soft and muted as he intends, but though his voice is pitched just quietly enough such that only a few can hear him, there's no mistaking the amusement in his manner. "Who's that chick?" A thick thumb jerks toward the chaplain, who receives a searching look that — despite his crude manner — seems the exact opposite of a leer.

Pretty! Sofia smiles over to Greje, although it's a bit subdued and polite. And she adds her own intonement, softly. She winces though at Rejn's nickname for her. Damn, he remembers. Siiiiiiigh. Sofia's eyebrows go flat at that greeting. "Hello there," She murmurs and looks over towards the chaplain. "She's the Chaplain, though I haven't really met her in person," Sofia admits quietly.

Karthasi looks over the altar once more, and, content that nothing is amiss, she waves the kindlestick until it smokes white, then sets it aside, stepping back once and once to the side before turning around toward the graduated seating, noting the attention cast in her direction, coupled with the conversation as it is. Once she comes close enough to the seating to be able to speak without disrupting the whole of the chapel, "Welcome," she tells them, not recognizing either. "We'll be holding Theoxeny here in about an hour," she lets them know, in case they've come for services. "May I serve you, in the meanwhile?" In case they haven't.

"Didn't know they made 'em this young." Rejn's gaze lingers on Karthasi for just a moment longer, piercing eyes holding hers as long as she permits him — and then, as if suddenly losing interest, he glances back down at the wrinkles on his pants. Back down they go, smoothed by pudgy hands to un-bare those offending ankles. "Don't know about the top-heavy girl, but I'm just doing some thinking away from my room, because if I do do it in my room, I tend to enlist the help of a nice bottle of red." His lips pull up into a faint, challenging smile. "See if she needs counsel. I'm probably beyond you."

Sofia is a good audience. Headtilt. Sofia pauses and looks over her shoulder. She shakes her head. "It seemed peaceful here is all," She admits quietly. She looks to Rejn, "Sometimes you know where your path leads early on." A shrug at that. She pauses, and flinches at her title of top-heavy girl. Shoulda got that surgery. Stupid lack of funds. Mutter. "I'm well enough," She admits quietly. Although she seems a bit puzzled by the 'beyond you' comment. There's a look as if some witty retort were to bubble up but she thinks better of it. "Hm." She just grunts softly. "It's a pleasure to meet you in person at least, sir."

"Greje," the so-named priestling speaks up, by way of introduction, perhaps, or perhaps to ward off any further applications of 'sir' to her person, demeanor amiable, if only meekly so. "Greje Karthasi. Or Sister, if it suits you," she adds, not pressuring them to use her religious title, since both of them have claimed being here for non-religious reasons. "And," to Rejn, "I'm not as young as I once was," she tells him, though the statement means absolutely nothing in a literal sense, a fact which seems to tease her funnybone, if her eyes are any indication. "Besides which, Dionysus is sometimes the only one who can coax out Hephaestus, when he's unwilling," she points out. "Which is to say — some problems just refuse be solved without a bottle of wine poured over them." Again, a touch of subdued mirth.

"If you didn't have the body of a thirteen-year-old, I might like you." Subdued mirth is met with a full-on belly-shaking laugh from the bureaucrat extraordinaire, whose expression has settled back into its usual genial frame. A large hand is offered to the slender woman — don't worry, he's clean. Even Rejn has to shower. "Allan, Rejn, Allan Rejn, Mister Secretary — whatever works, though I'd appreciate it if you'd stay away from the Secretary bit unless you're talking to Mikey." That would be his pet name for the admiral. "So can I take your words to imply that you've a bottle of wine ready to be poured on top of this problem?"

Sofia's jaw drops at the body comment. She closes her mouth, "She's pretty." Is her only counter argument. She looks to Greji and nods. "Pleased to met you," She murmurs. She rubs the back of her head. "Ah. I can't drink for now, but I guess a lot of artists might attest to that," She smiles. "At least mom and dad did. Mom loved the opera." She shakes her head, chasing away the memory. She goes quiet though, to listen to the exchange briefly.

Karthasi looks a little held up by the comment, as well, surprised into letting the hand linger a moment before she sets her own into it, her grip surprisingly strong for someone who looks as frail as she does, but she doesn't bear down into it. "Good to know you, Rejn. I think it's a little early in the day for that sort of thing — " she feints toward the abstentious, before, softening, "But ask me again in an hour," she remarks, invoking the stereotype of priests as particularly bibulous creatures, whether it's true in her particular case or not. "Is there a problem in particular you suspect requires drowning?" she wonders, attention shifting toward Sofia again at the nostalgia, as if to acknowledge that there are problems enough to go around, these days.

"An hour?" Mock outrage. "And — can't drink?" More mock outrage. Rejn snorts, maintaining his grip on Karthasi's hand while — distracted — he looks over at Sofia. "That's some bullshit right there. Wine on the house and you won't even take a tipple — that's a caning offense, as Pop would say. Behind the woodshed with a godsdamned rod. Bet your opera-going parents never did any of that." Perhaps realizing he's still shaking the priestess' hand, Rejn releases his grip, callused fingers dropping down to fiddle with his bright red tie. "As for the problem?" There's that challenging grin again. "Sure. Fair warning, though: you might want to reconsider the bit about not drinking." A breath; then: "Heard of a fellow named Euthypro?"

Sofia looks to Rejn and shakes her head. "Nope, none of that." She goes quiet though to listen. She smiles almost sadly. "No, they've got appointments for me." She simply rests her hands in her lap. "At least- what I remember anyway. But the offer is appreciated." She goes silent then settles in to listen.

Karthasi's eyebrows perk a little, keenly impressed, it seems, by Rejn's pronunciation of the name. Then, more cautiously, "Is there a fellow aboard by that name, or do you mean the one who argued for betraying his father in court?" she wonders. Betraying a parent, after all, is one of the hubristic crimes, and any text which arues the piety of the act is sure to be well-studied. At least, in Delphi.

"Might well be somebody from Gemenon aboard with that name." Rejn shifts in his too-small chair, leaning forward while scooting back to rest his elbows on his thighs. "But yeah, kid — Euthypro talking to Socrates or Plato or whoever really transcribed that interview business. Why the ancients felt the need to do philosophy via screenplay, I don't know, but — " The rant is forestalled by a quick breath. "What is piety? Because I'd love to figure it out."

Sofia listens. She could learn. She looks like she might speak, but for now is an attentive audience. Engineering classes probably glossed over this after all.

"It came into vogue because Plato believed that philosophical topics are by necessity ones argued over, rather than simply related. And since a text can't, by its very nature, be the active, living process of dia logon, the act of discovering truth through the course of an argument, Plato chose this form as sort of a consolation prize. Of course, that merely begs the question of the literacy fallacy, but— I believe he was endeavoring his best to espouse his vision of education within the given restrictions." Ask a Caprican a question, get a Caprican answer. When there is an answer, at least. On the question of what piety is, she hesitates a moment. "Well… piety proper stems from the scriptural pietas, which simply means the respect due a parent from his offspring, and vice versa. The natural cycles of giving and receiving. A parent gives to his child when the child is young, a child to his parent, when the parent is old. Its definition was subsequently expanded by people who asserted that the relationship between the Lords and men is that between parents and their children, in essence, which argument is not entirely without debate, despite the fact that the term has come into the common parlance. Now, as for Eut'hypro… well, the issue of pietas was obviosuly not foremost on his mind, especially since it didn't come into vogue as a moral construct until several centuries after his floruit. The terms with which he dealt were instead hosios and eusebes, both of which have subtly different meanings."

"Lots of fancy words, there, but no real answer." The chair groans under Rejn's weight as he forces his back to straighten. The woman's answer to his rhetorical question about screenplays and the value of text-as-discourse is ignored; rather, the man keys in on the relevant part of that spiel, fleshy fingers strumming the length of his tie as Karthasi drones on and on and on. "To the question, which I suppose could be rephrased thusly: is shit pious because the gods say it's pious, or do the gods say shit's pious because it's pious?"

Forever, she'll be in outerspace. Where roombas dance and sing and - Sofia's eyes have glazed over a bit. The antipsychotics don't help and she's doing her best to listen - but one can power a windmill with the breeze going over her head.

"I was endeavoring to explain that there is a difference between what is pius and what is hosios," Greje notes. "And that they both are characterized by their own particular definitions. The issue of whether hosiotes is an active or passive principle — well, Socrates is said to have argued that it is an active principle, and I tend to agree. That there are characteristics of an action which we categorize as hosios, and which we thus associate with the Lords," she gives her answer. "Of course, there are many things that come down to us in the scriptures and non-scriptural traditions which we are -told- are hosios or anhosios without any particular explanation of why. Sacrificing the meat of a pig to Aphrodite is anhosios. Why? There are many theories. I believe I understand why, but that would be another topic altogether. In general, that which is hosios — well. When I translate the word hosiotes into Colonial, I render it as 'right-action.' An action which is hosios is appropriate to the time, the place, the situation — impeccably so. There is no one thing that is -always- hosios, but being able to take the entire situation into consideration and act always with propriety is the general thrust of the notion."

"Radical." Rejn finally looses his mangled tie, letting it fall back over his stained dress shirt as he scratches at his moustache with a single fingernail. "So it's not the gods who set standards of right action, says you, but — what? Time, place, situation, circumstance, natural law? Omnipotent Zeus, then, is somewhat less-than-potent than the temples would have us believe — for in the same way he can't write over the tablets of Fate, he can't — well." Parallelism fail. "Maybe anything that's willed by the gods is right and proper. But that thing isn't right and proper because it's willed by the gods but because of some antecedent moral standard that operates a priori. Logically, that is, not theologically." Because he doesn't do that. And as for Sofia, the unfortunate woman receives hardly a glance. Hey — at least he's not still calling you names.

Sofia is a good audience. Her eyebrows are lifted though. And yes, for now. Though her unfortunate figure will earn her more nicknames later.

"I believe that the Lords are the ones who demonstrate for us that we must be alert to the needs of right-action in any given circumstance," Greje goes on, unphased by being called a radical. She's been called worse for her liberal theological leanings. "By the very fact that none of them on their own -can- set a standard for right-action. For every Apollo there is a Hermes, for every Artemis an Aphrodite, for every Ares an Athena, for every Hephaestus a Dionysus. Each deserves his due honors— honors due in the right season, at the right time. And as for Zeus— well, it's long been noted that there are, in fact, two versions of Zeus in the earliest texts, which two deities must have been conflated at a very early stage. The one, omnipotent, as you say, the other as subject to season as the rest of the Lords. The former, possibly from an early monotheistic tradition. He had bia in him, and devoured metis, its opposite. Becoming the two halves that form a whole. Right-action, all the time, from one end of the spectrum to the other. And as to questions of fate— well, we've dug ourselves a great pit in thinking that fate and free will are locked in eternal agon with one another. It makes that problem a particularly difficult one to suss out in any modern context, sadly."

"Which is basically a long way of agreeing with what I said." Rejn tugs at the edge of his moustache before abandoning it entirely, his hand rising to push those glasses back up on his face. "You can't be terribly popular subscribing to the notion of the gods as bounded." Leather shoes tap restlessly against the ground. "Or, for that matter, the notion of the gods as having sovereignty over everything except that most important of questions." As for the question of free will and fate, he'll leave that one untouched. Even Rejn has his limits, and the flood of the Old Language such a discussion would inevitably trigger might aggravate that poor overworked and surgically-repaired heart of his.

Instead: "I wonder, then — and let's keep the gods out of it, yeah? So the Cylons wiped us out quicker than it takes a pony to shit, and I think it goes without saying that genocide is pretty frakking wrong, which raises the question: can we do it to them?" There's a beat. "Well, not can we — we're a few nukes short of being able to annihilate one Colony," he deadpans. "But let's say we could. Ought we?"

More glazed than a bunch of stoners making pottery. But Sofia is at least trying to listen. "I can fetch some water or paper if you like," Is all she offers.

"It's a topic which requires some subtlety of thought," is Greje's only reply to Rejn's assertion about the unpopularity of her views. It's a loaded term, subtlety, which the Caprican Academics have been known to apply to certain theological topics when they want to look deeper than the surface texts on a matter— and one which the Fundamentalist wing of the church used to point to as condescending as frak: 'Just -think- about it, Brutus.' Which. Might also be true. But. The question posed takes enough consideration that she feels the need to repeat it, slowly, feeling out the words. "Ought we to destroy the cylons, given the ability to." A further beat, and then she's thinking it through, aloud. "If we only have the ability to destroy them as well as they destroyed us, I would say no. With the number of us who have survived, and their ability to reproduce at such a prodigious rate, they would only be back again sooner or later. Given the ability to somehow destroy completely and utterly every last cylon and piece of cylon technology." A new condition requres a moment more of consideration. "At this point, I would say no. The worlds are uninhabitable to us, and will be nothing short of poisonous for a long time. I'm assuming the solution would not be military in nature, so I'll skip over objections based on how many we might lose in the effort. And finally, given their own displays of free thought and respect for reciprocity, I am unable to think of them as simply machines, at this point. Such that, although we are at war, I would find the genocide of their entire race as distasteful an action as the one we have suffered. The entirety of the heroic age was wiped out in a quest for vengeance," she goes back to the scriptures. "But mankind lived on because of those who knew how to lay down arms."

An odd look drifts across Rejn's face as the woman talks — brows drawn in, eyes closed, lips tightly pursed, he tilts his head back and allows himself to listen — and contemplate. Occasionally his lips will drift open, allow him to exhale without making a sound; occasionally his hands will twitch, folded across his belly in an attempt to hold them steady. But the man with a motor for a mouth lets the woman finish, and when she's finished, he grunts — acknowledgment, keeping his own views as close to his chest as his thick arm. Then, quietly: "Lose anybody when they hit us?" he wonders, almost casually.

Sofia listens. She seems quieter, darker as the subject veers towards cylons. Unpleasant memories those. A pained look.

Karthasi pauses there, longer than before, mind endeavoring to shift out of its theoretical, professorial mode, and she swallows quietly as she processes the question. "My Lieutenant was lost in the stairwell," she tells him, finally. Her most succinct sentiment since hello.

Sofia pauses, then tilts her head. "Noelani was it?" She asks quietly, perhaps remembering the name. Her eyes are blank though.

"Shit." Rejn slumps forward, resting his chins — yes, chins — on two balled-up fists. "Me, I was — I was going to bring Mary along," he murmurs, his tenor taut and raw. "Pull a few strings, see if I couldn't give one of my secretaries a vacation on Canceron and slot her that way." The worry-lines on the man's expression grow deeper. "She wanted to stay home with Junior and the grandkids. Got in my face about it, too." A deep sigh. "Told myself I'd shit down the throat of the first Cylon I met, after. Part of me still wouldn't mind just wiping those godsdamned skidmarks out." Rejn's cheeks pulse as he swallows. "Laying down arms is hard, Karthasi." He uses her real name. "Good on you for trying."

"It was. Yes." That's to Sofia, slowly voiced. "And there's nothing wrong with -wanting- revenge," Greje takes the moment to remark, gently. "It shows… devotion, to our fellow man. Certainly not a bad thing. But, as I was saying… there are other considerations. Not to mention other ways to display our devotion. Achilles and Odysseus were given a choice," she begins some manner of parable from scripture. "Achilles chose vengeance. Odysseus chose life. Which one did Patroclus the better good, Achilles, for having died in his name? Or Odysseus, for living, and passing on that name through the generations, that the names of all the dead may be immortal in living memory."

Sofia looks sympathetic towards Rejn. For once. She frowns a little. Poor guy. She looks down herself. It is pretty tough not to want to wipe 'em all out really. Especially after all the nuking and what have you. For now, she is quiet, watching. A nod at Karthasi.

"Hektor," is Rejn's rapid answer, "for killing him with a spear to the belly so he didn't have to think about all of this bullshit." His chuckle is tight as those clenched fists. "Anyway. Yeah. I've got an appointment to go bother somebody else, and I've not had enough to drink for that." With surpassing effort, Rejn manages to push himself to his feet. "But — if you'll pardon the presumption from a bitter old frak like me — keep on saying what you're saying, kid. Make your flock listen if it's the last thing you do, because it might just be the last thing you do." A quick harrumph. "Oh, and cheer up Miss Chesty when you get a chance. Anybody who turns down free wine isn't quite right in the head." Fine shoes begin to thud loudly against the floor, carrying him to the hatch.

"Be well," Sofia does wave politely to Rejn. … "I am /never/ going to get rid of that nickname am I?" Sofia sighs deeply. "If only I'd had the money for the surgery. But I guess things like cosmetic surgery are frivolous now that supply is limited." Although there are health and comfort issues. "… anyway, you can't have wine on antipsychotics." She frowns, "Or I'd accept." She notes wryly. "But either way, I guess there's wires to get fixed and I'm all in your hair."

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