PHD #242: The Choices We Make
PHD #242: The Choices We Make
Summary: Vandenberg and Ajax meet for the first time, none of them stands down.
Date: 26 Oct 2041 AE
Related Logs: None.
Vandenberg Ajax 
Main Brig
Tiny and cramped, the Main Brig seems designed to be claustrophobic. The steel bars lining the three cells have been set into the steel bulkheads on each side. Inside each cell is a stainless steel toilet and a bunk that might be too short for some of the taller crewmembers. The dreary conditions don't seem to be helped by the presence of a Marine guard who is there twenty-four hours a day, as long as a prisoner is in custody. The whole room is under surveillance via camera system in the Security Hub and every visitor must sign-in and abide by the rules.
Post-Holocaust Day: #242

Even if he already had different meetings with people from the CMC, Ajax is still locked in his cell. So a little over 30 days and counting. The man is laying in his bed, he is fully extended and since the bed is not big enough for him, a big part of his legs is just, hanging and falling as his feet rest on the floor. His hands are placed on the back of his head and he just stares at the ceiling. In a few minutes, he'll start his round of exercises again. Around the cell, there's not a lot of stuff really, but breaking the regular sight, is a book, laying on the floor, closed.

The hatch open and a fresh face enters wit ha stack of folders under her arm. She's probably two feet shorter than Ajax. The Marine, dressed in her combat blacks, walks to the desk and greets the Lance Corporal easily. There's an exchange of saluts and a report. "Aye, Lance. You're relieved. I have the watch." The woman takes up a clipboard and signs it before doubletaking at the hulk in the cell before settling herself down into the chair. The folders are stacked in front of her and she clicks a pen open.

Voices is not something he hears often, believe it or not. People tend to be pretty quiet it seems. A new voice draws his attention and he opens his eyes, looking at someone he has never seen. His attention moves to the person that now walks outside the brig and then returns to her. The man yawns now and covers his mouth while doing so, arching his back just a little to be more comfortable. If that bed could scream in pain, it would be doing so right now. Ajax closes his eyes and leans his head against the mattress.

"You're probably the largest form of organic life left from the twelve colonies," the Lietuenant mutters from the desk, not even looking up. "You eat small children for breakfast? Or are they the appetizer?" The Marine continues writing whatever it is she is working on. Considering the stack of folders, she is probably going to be here awhile.

Ajax opens his eyes when he hears Vandenberg's voice again. He arches his back again and extends his arms, moving his body so he can sit on the bed. "Nah, they give me gas…" idly says the man. After a few seconds of internal debate, he stands up. Ajax makes his way to the bars of his cell and rests his hands over the horizontal ones "You new?" asks the man now. Heck, if someone decided to talk to him, he might as well make some conversation. Right?

Vandenberg finally lifts her eyes to track the man as he moves. She's probably just over five feet. Its a long look up, though she doesn't exactly look intimidated. "Yeah. I feel the same way about Capricans." She looks back to the folder and continues writing. "In a manner of speaking. They pulled me off Aerilon two weeks back. Learnin the jobs on this ship which means I have to work a few shifts down here. Deal with the finest, most upstanding members of what's left of society. All the same, I'd rather be on a planet."

"I was invited to leave Caprica when I was 19…invited to leave and never return" informs Ajax, adding something to the conversation. He shrugs at that and then nods at the information given. "I was picked up in Saggitaron, I'm from that Colony, but can't stand the regular person from Saggitaron" He presses his lips together and nods yet again "Aye, me too…I don't like being locked up here, would like to be down in some planet. But, changing the scene does work a little bit"

"Consider yourself lucky. I spent two days on Caprica visiting friends in college. It was supposed to be a week." Vandenberg just deadpans it. "Not a personal fan of Sagittaron, either. I was deployed there for seven years. A lot of those frakking people killed good friends of mine. Far as this ship is concerned, its probably best that I didn't get picked-up until after they left." Scribble scribble. She tosses a folder onto the floor and opens another one to start reading it. "Its prison. Nobody is supposed to enjoy being in it. I'm guessing you killed a lot of people at some point?"

Ajax thinks about it for a moment and smirks faintly "I would say that's a record then" says the man, about her adventures in Caprica. Now, hearing that she's not a fan of Saggitaron and that friends of her died there will probably act against him if he reveals what he used to do in the past, but, since he already spoke about it and nothing can erase the past, he doesn't have a problem in sharing. "You could say that…" is said about killing people. "When I returned to Saggitaron, I was recruited by the SSLF, spent a few years with them and then left to do my own thing." He clears his throat and adds "I became a bounty hunter and collected money for sending scum to prison. Of course I am also viewed as Saggitaron scum." he shrugs at this and finishes with "I was convicted to life in prison for Quadruple murder…"

Van stops writing at the mention of the SSLF and she takes her time lifting her eyes to look at him after he finishes. "I could say that you've killed Marines? That you worked with the SSLF to kill people that were only there to support each other?" For a short thing, she's got a lot of fire behind that low voice. "I should introduce you to Sergeant Lysander from Charlie Platoon. He'd be tickled pink to know you're down here."

Ajax smirks at her words and says "Stings, doesn't it." Now he shakes his head and says "Nah, I didn't kill people that did not deserve it in the first place. Mind you I am no avenger, I did what I was ordered to. But my orders were to eliminate competition. See, it wasn't just about being SSLF, within that group, there were smaller groups fighting for power under the noses of the…big guys. So, the so called big guys, trained me to deal with that problem. After all, they wanted obedient people under then…" He smirks once again, remembering those days "And even if I did, you could introduce me to every single Marine in this can…what's done is done."

It stings? Vandenberg stares at him. "You're not a legal beagle so I'll explain something to you called 'disaprity of force'. It means that if a five foot, two Marine is threatened by someone overwhelmingly larger than her? As a member of the police, that Marine can exercise any efforts she deems necessary to affect an arrest. Including deadly force. Consider that before you decide to really piss me off." Her voice is as dry as a desert. Clearly she means it. "So you mostly just killed other insurgents? Or was that just a hobby?" There's no comment to introducing him to the rest of the Marines.

Ajax just looks at her in silence, his expression completely uninterested in her display of 'rawriamanmphearmeroar' "I bet people told you in the past that you talk too much" Now, he takes a deep breath and just runs his hands over his bald, scarred head. "I'll explain again. My job with the SSLF, was to do crowd control, if you want to call it that way. And eliminate competition. Fights for power occurred every day, believe it or not. I was just there to make sure that the power remained with the people that 'hired' me. So I only killed people within the SSLF" He nods again to this and takes a deep breath "I'm not trying to throw threats at you, I don't know why you got to that conclusion." He clears his throat and continues "So…I did that for a few years like I said and then I left. They tried to hunt me down, I didn't allow that. I became a Bounty Hunter because really, the pay was better…and as a Bounty Hunters, I didn't harm innocents"

"I didn't say you were threatening me." Its a very pointed comment. "And if you'd rather me sit here in silence, I can do that. You can go back to staring at the ceiling and contemplating whatever it is the hell you think about." Vandenberg stares at him a moment longer before going back to writing in her files. There's no heat or anger in her movements. Its as if she just dumped everything she heard.

"But you felt the need to let me know that as an MP, you were allowed to use deadly force if necessary." says Ajax and then shrugs "I left the SSLF.." he stops to think the correct number and finally says "…11 years ago" Yep, yep, he's 36 now. "I was captured during the Market Cage Operation. I was after a Bounty and ended up finding four guys in a room, torturing a little girl. I lost it, I killed them. I was going to take the girl to safety but a group of Marines was waiting for me, and regardless of what the girl told to them, they still wanted to take me down. I resisted, I got shot, I resisted some more…I got tazzed. And that's pretty much it" Her comment on him rather spending his time in silence, he just doesn't pay attention to it.

Vandenberg continues writing on in silence as if she is waiting for something before responding to him again. The folder is closed neatly and set on the floor behind her with the same gentle grace as the one before. She opens another one and settles it down in front of her. "You want respect, its a two way street. Want to trade insults like a frakking five year old, you can keep talking all day but you're talkin to a ghost."

"Ummm….I never asked for respect. Like you said, respect is earned. Plus…I didn't insult you so. Whatever you considered as an insult, wasn't." says Ajax, keeping a neutral expression as he looks at her. After that, he just turns around and heads back to his tiny bed, laying on it, looking at the ceiling, because it's really pretty.

"Godsdamn, its no wonder you're in jail. That blew right past you, didn't it?" The unnamed Marine continues jotting in her folder, nothing apparently at all the matter. The only sound from her is a soft 'Mm' at something in a file. "This file says someone was listed as a sexual offender for taking a piss in an alleyway and some bum saw him. Heard of that before?"

"If you want to see it that way, sure" says the big man. He keeps looking at that damn ceiling, he already memorized it by now. "Haven't heard of that, no" answers the man, sitting down again. He stands and extends his arms upwards, getting a hold what look like support bars. He starts doing pullups, going as up as he can without hitting the top. "A lot of people was brought here, a lot of people already left. And I'm not one people enjoy talking to…"

"Ever wonder why people leave and you're still stuck here? What the hell would you even do once you were out? Sit down on the civ freighter and get a kitten?" Vandenberg looks back to her folders and sets another aside as she moves along. Notes are made. The end of the pen is tapped against the paper as she thinks on something for a moment before moving on.

"I'm still here because they don't know what to do with me, I'm still here because I didn't pee on something in front of everyone or danced naked under the rain. I'm still here because I murdered people, and because I don't regret doing it. As a matter of fact, I would do it again, and again, and again if I had the chance." says Ajax, taking a deep breath after that "I am not suited for Civilian life. So I guess that, if I get out, they'll put me to work in something" He half-snorts and adds "Maybe they'll even make me a Marine…" He looks up, still neutral expression "I do like cats tho"

Vandenberg finally looks up again and this time she's actually smiling. "A Marine, huh?" The woman settles back in her chair, crossing her legs as she taps the pen on the edge of the desk. "And you're saying that you can just kill without remorse and sleep alright at night? Put other people into the ground and it never bothers you?" She lofts a brow with the question. "I'm just trying to understand if this is a point of pride or something else."

Ajax stops doing pullups and walks to the bars again, he rests his hands in the same place he did before and looks at Vandenberg "Let me ask you this. Say you walk into a room, where there's a little girl, not older than 12. And with her, there are four guys, burning cigarettes on her skin, slapping her face, pulling her hair. Say you also hear they are planning on raping her, and leaving her to die. What would you do?" He presses his lips together and shakes his head "No, I do not regret what I did to those men, I would keep doing it again and again if I had to." He takes a deep breath and continues "And as for killing SSLF, even if I had orders to do so…" he shakes his head "No, I don't regret it. This is not about pride…it hardly ever was about pride."

"What would I do? I'd roll a flashbang in there, hogtie them, bring them back to the ship. Then I'd probably round up every mother I could and let them decide what to do with them. I kill when I see no other option and it saves the lives of my men." Its stated as a fact, the answer to his question coming without hesitation. "Then if it isn't pride then what? You just.." She makes a face, her head slowly moving side to side as if to illustrate her query. "-did it for money?"

"Those last four?" asks the man and then shakes his head "No, I did it to help that girl" See, in his case, there was no ship, there were no rules, there was no team…it was only him, and he did what he had to do. "Bounty Hunting is done for money. Now mind you, that doesn't mean I killed a lot of folks for money, most of them, I delivered to the authorities and they were sent to prison. The ones that got violent, I responded with violence. People is worth more money alive than dead, that is a fact." He takes a deep breath and shakes his head "I only /killed/ directly, for money, when I was with the SSLF, and never a 'good person'"

"But with the SSLF, you said you were hired. That you protected the interests of those that paid you. you indicated that you worked for them the longest. It would behoove you to remember that while you may not perceive these as 'good people', the world ain't black and white. Every person you killed was somebody's kid. Somebody's brother or sister. Husband or wife. Father or mother." Vandenberg then leans forward on her chair, settling her elbows on the desk. "I can tell you right now that an attitude like that don't fly in the Corps. I can also tell you that we might have a shift coming in my fair department. A reorganization. I just got out of a meeting about it before I came down here. It would seem that I'm going to be the officer in charge of Dog - which means I am in charge of training and who is selected to join my beloved Corps. And you stand before me like this? The brotherhood and honor is never given openly. It is earned."

"I am not asking you to help me become a Marine, I never did. I just said that is one of the options I think is being considered. Heck, I might just stay here to rot, or be airlocked…." says Ajax, shrugging at that. "And no, I didn't say I worked for them the longest, I worked for them for 4 years and 13 on my own." Now he got it right, yes. "I said 11, but it was 13…13 years as a Bounty Hunter, and 4 years before that with the SSLF" Now he looks at her straight into her eyes and says "And I can say that every person that you kill, no matter how many…were someone's kid, or father, or mother…" Nobody is free from their sins really.

"Being considered? Child, you'll need orders to me from the Major herself to get me to train someone like yourself to carry the crest of the Corps. Not without a huge shift in the way you think." The last doesn't even phase her, though. Natalie meets his eyes with her own hard gaze. "I have killed kids because I had to. I've even run into their families later. Orders have come from me that got people killed. I am fully aware of what I have done. The difference is that I'm not dismissive of it. I sleep okay at night not because I don't care, I sleep at night because I know that I care."

"And you receive payment as well, Marines are paid by the government after all." says Ajax, still looking at her into her eyes "Knowing what you did doesn't have anything to do with regret. I know what I did, I know how many I killed. The only ones that truly don't affect me in the least, are those last four. Those last four? I would find the way to bring them back to life, just to kill them again. Or maybe I would keep them alive, and subject them to the tortures they were doing to that girl" He snorts and shakes his head "I am no saint, nor I will ever be. But I know what I did, why I did it…and I remember it"

"Were paid by the government. To support their families and be able to afford a life outside the military. After the bombs? Not a single one of us has received a paycheck. Even off this ship, not one Marine I have heard of stopped behaving like a Marine. Are they out there? Sure. The same disgraceful fraks that sullied the banner before the fall. We still follow orders. We still conduct ourselves with pride and honor on the job. No paychecks. No vacations. Every excuse in the world to throw it away. Except each other and our honor." Getting Vandenberg to back down would probably be something akin to trying to get a Rottweiler to apologize. She's not mad or upset, but she is quite sure of what she is saying. "Killing those people over and over? That's why you're in here. Consideration of actions and the ability to reflect on alternatives are powerful teaching tools. If you won't accept them, you cannot be trained in any way I think someone like you would accept."

There is something Ajax is certain of "And you don't know a damn fraking thing about me outside of what I told you…" he shakes his head and sighs "You can keep saying that, that's why I'm here, but the truth is, you don't know. Truth is, you are taking something as an absolute truth, but you can't be sure." He presses his lips together and smirks "Funny enough, I stopped getting paid as well, even before you did" He takes a deep breath, he doesn't give a shit on where he ends as long as he doesn't end being a civilian "You are an MP right? You'll be glad to know that it's less than likely that I'll be sent to your team. That has already been told to me."

Vandenberg just smiles. "No, I don't know. But I know every Marine I have heard about or come across since this started has not betrayed their team or their Corps. And that is something I take pride in." She then leans back in her chair, tossing the pen onto the desk. "Actually, you would be sent to me. Because you would have to go through training like every other Marine. It means that if I don't think you make the cut, you don't. If you're hard up take be apart of my Corps, then you have to prove that you are worthy of it. Like you said, I don't know frak-all about you except words. I think you'd agree that they don't mean more than a pile of horseshit anymore. But from where I sit and you sit, you have a base to start from. Where you go from there is something I cannot decide for you. That is a decision that every Marine must face on their own and hold fast to through basic and through their careers. You want it? Come and take it."

"Really glad that you think all the marines you've met haven't betrayed their team, really glad. It means that you haven't seen the ugly part, the traitors, the rapists….you did know that the Marine corps also hold some deep scum-bags, right? Can't speak for the ones I don't know but I can say that the ones I /do/ know? The ones that are already here, the ones I spent months with in Saggitaron? That's an outstanding group of humans." Bet she didn't know that one. It seems to Ajax she didn't even read his file. "Wanting something? The only thing I want is to /not/ have a life as a civilian, that's all I want." He smirks and leans forward against the bars "The choice we make? I have no choice…" Now he taps his big hands on the bars and finishes with "If I fall into that line, and you are in charge of my training. Do your best to make my life a…" beat "…living hell."

"I just told you I'm an MP. I've seen the rapists and their ilk. I've interviewed their victims. I'm well aware of what people are capable of. They were also dishonorably discharged for their crimes. The Marines I'm speaking to are the ones like who you ran into after the bombs. Like the ones I led on Aerilon." To the rest, the woman just shrugs. "Then that's your goal. Maybe the Corps isn't for you. Maybe it is. Like I said, it all depends on how badly you want to be a Marine. But the job of training isn't to make your life Hell. I'm sure you like to think you've been all over to some real bad zipcodes and your life has been rough and whatever. I don't care. That ain't my problem. The point of training is to instill certain things in you that matter. Physically? Fine. You're a powerhouse. I'm happy for you. Basic training isn't about running laps. Its about learning lessons that will keep you and the Marine next to you alive."

"No, it doesn't depend on how badly I want to be a Marine, it depends on how bad I don't want to be a civilian" simply states Ajax without changing the tone of his voice. Relaxed, calm. "Well then you Marines need to get together and decide a sell line for everyone to use, I've been told in the past that I was going to regret selecting taking the 'Marine' path because my life was going to be hell or whatever crap…I don't know" Now he shakes his head "Whatever, if I fall in your end, you do what you have to do, and I'll do what I have to do…how does that sound?" As for what is taught in basic "The fact that I worked mostly alone doesn't mean I can't work on a team nor it means I don't know what it takes. But hey….suit yourself"

"If you don't want to be a civilian, there's a lot of other jobs. Deck could use use to shove aircraft around. I won't talk you out of the Corps if its really what you want. We don't need a recruiting line or a defense of who we are. You wear the uniform and know what it means to be apart of something bigger? That's what its about. We're the last organized fighting force left in humanity. It is up to us to represent the ideals of the Marines until the last of us falls. If people want to trample on it, that's their problem. You won't hear them say it in front of a Marine, though. Ever." Natalie shows no signs of backing away from it. The woman is cold, hard resolve in human form. "I'm not talking about working with a team, either. Like I said: You can shoot and you're fit? Fine. You got a small part of it down. Its about unified training so that you know what your man next to you is going to do when it gets bad. Its about knowing that no matter what, people are going to follow orders because by Gods if they don't? You may never get that resupply or relief when you desperately need it."

"What can I say…if I have the training, I might as well use it" simply states the man. He yawns again and covers his mouth, shaking his head after that. The fact that she doesn't back down, matters little to him because he is not looking for her to back down. He's not looking for anything. "So…like I said, if I fall to your line, we'll see how it goes" Now, he extends his arm outside of the cell and with that, offers his hand "Deal?" While he waits to see if she does something or not, he idly looks at the other cells, most of them empty now.

"You will use the training you get. But like I said, you gotta want it. Hell. I don't think you'll be able to finish." Vandenberg smirks. "Prove me wrong. Make me eat my words. Show me you can soldier and we'll consider it a bet lost." She glances to his hand and shakes her head. "Sorry. Contact with prisoners is strictly forbidden. As far as training? I'll do what I think is necessary. You do what you have to within the code of the Corps. Acting outside of it? Well, I win the bet."

Ajax takes his hand back "Another time then" The man smirks at her last words and shakes his head, going back to his bed, taking a seat and leaning his back against the wall "There's no bet here." He closes his eyes and leans his head back against the wall, taking a deep breath "We'll see how it goes."

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