PHD #387: The Art of the Riddle
The Art of the Riddle
Summary: After the return from the basestar boarding, Cora reviews hybridbabble, and Mathers offers his thoughts.
Date: 20 March 2042 AE
Related Logs: Enter the Swarm: And in the Basestar Bind Them, also referenced: (tba)
Cora Mathers 
TACCO's Office
The actual room doesn't have a real desc, why would I write one for this?
Post-Holocaust Day: #387

After the Raptors complete the escape back to Cerberus, medical personnel whisk the injured off to Sickbay and it's up to 7 for Cora, debriefing Command on the mission. Enough time is spent in Intel to upload and copy the videos shot by various members of the boarding party, and then those copies are collected by the TACCO before she slips back to her office. It's there she will be found, her marine battle blacks piled on a chair (minus the pants and boots, that is, which she still wears). She has headphones in her ears, and is watching the screen of her laptop intently, occasionally hitting keys or typing briefly.

Mathers likewise had some rounds to make, snagging the Marine CO and briefing as they made the trek to sickbay to check in on the prognosis of their injured men and women and get the current fatality count. He hasn't taken the time to shower off the dirt and grit of the mission, but has likewise stripped down to his tanks; his dogtags dangling outside of his shirts, and those three angry women that rule him are keeping visage on his shoulder. Fortuitously finding the hatch unlocked, Zane slips into the room and by virtue of those headphones and intent expression, maybe Cora won't notice he's approaching her desk until he's right up on it.

Cora is very intent on her screen, that's for sure, frowning at it as she hits a couple of keys, the impression being that she is rewinding and playing something back again. She doesn't seem to hear Mathers enter, but as she reaches to pick up her pen and make a note the adjustment is enough for her to catch him out the corner of her eye and she startles visibly. "Did I miss you knocking?" she asks, and the question is not entirely rhetorical; she might have, given her focus. She pulls the earbuds out of her ears and focuses on him, "What?"

No comment as to the knocking, probably because such an event didn't occur. "I figured I'd find you in here. Thought we could watch the footage together and maybe you'd bum me a smoke." Mathers' doesn't smoke often, the occasion rare that he'd rather toke up than just gnaw on one of his damnable toothpicks. Missions have their different effects on people it seems. There are no cheeky smiles nor the brooding of before, Mathers just sort of…is. He exists. It's just a plain fact without any embellishment, sort of like the tension in his muscles that cords his neck and defines his shoulders as comes around the edge of her desk.

"I've been watching the last bit in particular," Cora explains, seemingly eager to jump right into a discussion of the data gathered. She reaches into a drawer for her pack of cigarettes and a lighter, handing the latter and two of the former over to the marine to deal with as she moves her chair over to make room and rewinds the footage on her screen, "In the Hybrid Chamber, I mean. There's detail in the others parts I'd like to get back to but this is obviously the most interesting." The video is almost totally dark except for sparking and the sense of bodies moving nearby, but when she pulls out the headphones to go to speaker, the sound of alarms and the voice of the Hybrid fill the office, "…and God is calling, and God is saying to O! God's children, turn you away from this path. Turn you away from this path. Construction attempt terminated. The end is the beginning but this time the beginning is the end. Time is the undammed river that plunges over the falls. The falls. Remember you the falls, Children of God is God is God is God is…."

"The falls." Mathers repeats at a mumble, as he has both the cigarettes' filters stuck in his mouth; his words pausing as he flicks the lighter to life and moves the flame across both fumerella'd tips to draw a good cherry. One of them he passes off to Cora before tossing the lighter back onto her desk. "You figure this for another connection to Lampridis Falls? She also seems to be telling them to stop producing the skinjob models, but then again, I might be projecting a lot of wishful thinking into this." Sans a proper seat, he props one thigh up on her desk and leans into it, angling himself over it to look at the computer screen.

Cora listens, watching, as the screen bursts to light with the flames the Three lit of himself. She takes the cigarette and inhales deeply, holding the smoke for a long, long moment in her lungs before letting it curl slowly out her nose. "Where do you hear her telling them to stop producing skinjobs?" she asks curiously before turning to his question: "It could be a coincidence." Another smokey pause and then she adds, "But I'm less and less inclined to believe that."

"Construction attempt terminated." Mathers points to the screen as if by doing so he could indicate the precise passage. "And Mister Three also mentioned something about a Final Death, though that might just be the location we were in, in relation to their ability to reload their conciousness into another skin suit. Did you count the vats? There were thirteen. Twelve maybe for their so called models and the thirteenth was occupied by ones we're calling Hybrids. That one Eleven you all had in custody mentioned something like that. That the thirteenth was some sort of weird bastard child. Do you reckon that's where they sleep? Recharge their batteries?" He takes another draw on the cigarette, lungs screaming enough with the unfamiliar smoke that it causes him to give a little throat-clearing cough.

"Hmm," Cora replies, "I'm not sure, I think that may have been part of the actual technical part; it was trying to reconnect, it seemed like, or something like that." She rewinds further back as she adds, "I believe he did mean his death outside the range of downloading. And I noticed the vats," she nods. She watches the recording as it plays rapidly in reverse, searching for the bit she wants. She responds, almost absently, "The thirteenth, the one. The all, the beginning, the end. An ill-conceived number." It has the tone of recitation, made more obvious as she replies more directly, "It could be. I'm not sure. We've seen those pods before, they're always naked in them. I don't know that we were able to figure out what the fluid was from the sample we took before." She finds the part she wants, an earlier bit of hybridbabble: "Reading. Connecting. Searching for peer. Initiating timeout in three. Two. One. Timeout. Retry. The giants who formed this world into its sensual existence and now seem to live in it in chains, are in truth the causes of its life and the sources of all activity, but the chains are the cunning of weak and tame minds which have power to resist energy, according to the proverb, the weak in courage is strong in cunning. We call out."

"Maybe they're just running a day spa. I mean, they already had a night club." Mathers lips spread in a humorless grin while he searches and finds an ashtray to flick his cigarette at. "So you think she was trying to connect with the other ships and warn the others that we had boarded, maybe? So are we the giants or the weak and tame minds? Maybe both. All I know is that for machines, they sure as hell have mastered the art of the riddle."

Cora snorts softly, and then shrugs, shaking her head as she blows another line of smoke up at the ceiling, "Trying to connect with something, what the purpose was, I don't know. But at least some of that ship's systems were fried, and the hybrid-thing was dying, if it can be said to die." She shakes her head a bit as he goes on, "I'm not sure it's that simple. I don't think… I don't think it's that coherent. Like sentences strung together necessarily go together. That said, the giants could mean humans. It could mean Cylons. It could mean gods. I don't know. One of the foundry hybrids seemed to be referring to Three as 'the maker'. But it could have meant One or Two." She shakes her head again, and again, and then agrees, "They are good at riddles."

"They should be good at zeros and ones, at least then maybe we could make heads or tails of it. Not that their code works as our does, it's far progressed beyond that rudamentary system. I think every department has tried to hack it in one form or another, to no avail." Mathers quiets down after that, as if reminded of something that has his mind churning in several different directions at once. During that lenghty thought process, his eyes rove Cora's face.

"Their code is nothing like ours at all," Cora agrees, "We've put the most powerful decryption programs in the fleet on it and gotten nothing. It's like they're working with a completely different sort of cryptosystem." She shakes her head and reaches for the ashtray, flicking her cigarette against it's edge before sitting back again. Despite the grime and a couple small nicks and scrapes sustained fleeing the basestar, her face is more animated than usual, and eyes flick quickly back to Mathers as she spots his observation, asking again, "What?"

Mathers says, "If only we had the decoder ring. You know, those cheap plastic toy pieces of crap that you got at the bottom of your cereal box as a child. Heh." Mathers pulls his gaze off Cora's to once again find the ashtray and stamp out his dying cigarette among the other butts. "Nothing." Is the response to her repeated question, not so much in denial that there is an answer but in the realization he's not sure what that answer would be in the first place. "I have some energy to burn. I'm all keyed up." And apparently the cigarette's not doing the trick."

"Heh," Cora replies, "It would be useful. We just keep plugging in each scrap of data we get to the crypto engines, maybe one of these days something will click." She doesn't sound very hopeful, shrugging and then exhaling another lungful of smoke. Her middle finger twitches, tapping against the cigarette, sending a small trail of ash onto the floor. "Yeah?" she replies simply.

Tick tock. His eyes look back and forth between Cora's and her lips. "More motivation, I guess, to get my shit in order in the next twenty four hours." Seems he's come to the conclusion that she may damn well try to break his wrist again should he try anything now. "Thanks for the smoke." He rumbles, getting back to his feet after a tug of his fatigue pants where they've bunched up at the thigh.

Cora does not look like she's in a wrist-breaking mood, exactly, more distracted and restlessly eager about this new information. She's twitchy and kinetic where she's usually still and reserved, and her mind is enough elsewhere that it takes a moment to register what he means, but there's a brief second where a "Huh?" almost sneaks out. It's covered by an, "Oh." She shrugs and nods, "You're welcome. Can you drop this back down at the SecHub if you're headed that way?" She passes him a file.

"Sure thing, Captain Sweet Cheeks." And only then does an honest to goodness smile come to his features, Mathers quickly reaching out to snag that file and vacate the area before she does manage to get goaded into that particular appendage snapping mood. "See you tomorrow night, Gods willing." Because they did, afterall, make a date.

"Sorry, what?" Cora is snapped out of her semi-reverie by that farewell, blinking and staring incredulously at Mathers. The file is snatched forgotten out of her hand and she just shakes her head, "You shouldn't ever call me that again," as he departs.

"Never in public." Is Mathers' solemn promise before the hatch snicks shut.

"Never, period," is Cora's vehement rejoinder, the hatch sadly already shut before he can hear it.

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