PHD #224: The Importance of Syllables
The Importance of Syllables
Summary: Cidra and Devlin run into each other in the chapel, and discuss names, their syllables, their importance, lists that are made of them, etc.
Date: 08 October 2041 AE
Related Logs: None
Cidra Devlin 
It has an altar! Also benches. Apparently they are comfy!
Post-Holocaust Day: #224

It's between formal services but the chapel aboard the Cerberus is never precisely empty. Various souls from among the crew are scattered about it, kneeling at the altars or seated on the benches. Mostly engaged in quiet prayers or contemplation. Among them is Cidra, prayer beads twined loosely around her right hand. The CAG is a familiar face here, especially of late. She's been spending some nights sleeping here rather than in her bunk. And she looks for all the worlds like she might be asleep now. Eyes are closed, and she's curled semi-comfortably against the wall of the bench. Except…she's humming. Very softly and tunelessly, at a volume not any louder than the other private prayers. But the sound is there is one listens for it.

Cidra also looks extremely…relaxed, one might note. She's in her off-duties. Her tank top is actually on inside out. Dark hair down around her shoulders and rather mussed. And she's not wearing any shoes.

Devlin does not actually seem to note Cidra at all, when he sits down in the end of her bench. Maybe it's the way she's tucked up against the wall, or the time he's spent up near the well-lit altar with its various burning offerings (some his, some others') that hinder his vision in this dimmer part of the chapel. Either way, after a while, he walks back down the row and steps into her bench and takes a seat, wrists resting on the back of the bench in front, his head after a moment bowed over them.

"Mmmm…" Cidra's humming kind of trails off. Like she'd forgotten the tune, such as it was, in mid-mmm. When one is sitting closer to her, one would immediately notice the heady scene of chamalla. She's not smoking in the chapel, but she's definitely been at it before she came. She rolls into a somewhat straight position, stretching her long arms languidly. "Near fell asleep again…" she mutters. To herself. She seems unaware anyone else is occupying her bench.

Devlin looks up at the muttering, that registering more than the humming, which seemed to just sort of blend into the ambient noise of the room to him. He turns slowly, and watches Cidra for a moment, squinting faintly and then blinking. After a beat, somewhat hesitantly he offers a quiet greeting: "Major." After another he goes on, "I'm sorry, I didn't see you there. I can find another bench."

"Alexis? Is that you?" Cidra peers lazily in Devlin's direction. Tone all of mellow. "Hello. And for gods sake. We are in a chapel. Call me Cidra. Or Toast, at least. Everyone calls me 'sir' all the time. Or 'Major'. I have a name, you know. Do you know what it is like to be 'sir' all the time, for everyone? It is awful, Alexis Thaddeus Devlin. Very, very awful." She slides down the bench to sit closer to him. "Please do not leave." It's somewhere between a plea and a (very lazily given) order.

"Yes, si—dra," Devlin changes mid-word as he begins to confirm his presence and then is emphatically requested not to call her by the title he was just about to use. "Okay," he replies when asked not to leave, not leaving. He does sit up a little, and after a moment ventures, "Sorry. I sort of feel like I shouldn't use callsigns until- unless I'm a real pilot." He must, as she comes closer, smell the chamalla, and it can't be that difficult to figure out what it is, given her demeanor, but if he realizes he doesn't say anything about it, just suggesting instead, "You could call me Alex. If you want. Or Devlin. Whatever, really. I guess Alexis is ok if you like it better," he concedes, totally talking himself out of his request.

"I like Alexis," Cidra maintains. Reaching out to put her arm around Devlin's shoulders once she's sitting next to him. She's been smoking a lot. "Names are important, Alexis Thaddeus Devlin. Names give a thing form from ephemera. They shape our relationship to a thing. Are you a man of the faiths, Alexis?" A pause. "I see you here at times. I come here often. More of late. You know, I have never quite stopped thinking I would receive divine wisdom here. But I do not. The gods do not work that way."

"Okay," Devlin replies, not attempting to steer her away from his fullname again. He tenses briefly when she slings an arm around his shoulders, clearly surprised, but he just sort of goes with it, nodding along a little. "Yes, I am," he replies, adding, "I've seen you here." He considers how the gods work for a moment and then sort of nods, "I'm not sure I've ever had the gods put an answer into my head while I sat here, exactly, or anything. I like to think I find them later, sometimes."

"The gods do not speak to me," Cidra says, rather melancholy, but in that lazy, abstracted sort of melancholy one feels when rather…low. The almost pleasant sort. "Never have. I have never had a vision or had my mind touched. Some have. My mother had me tested for an Oracle when I was fourteen - after I had undergone the Rite of Womanhood…" She sounds for a second like she's going to go into more detail about the rite. But she does not. "…had no talent for it, though. I did feel them, though, Alexis. For the first time. Down on Saggitaron. I *felt* them. I have been waiting for more but…I cannot now. No matter how much I try to clear my head it is a…jumble. I cannot seem to get the straight of it. You ever get like that, Alexis?"

"I don't think I know anybody who's ever had a vision," Devlin replies, "Or even been tested for an Oracle," he adds, "I just… when I figure things out, or something comes to me that helps me make up my mind, I assume that the gods probably helped it along somehow." He reaches up to scratch at his temple with two fingers before rubbing his broad palm on his knee and nodding, "Like I've got too many thoughts and so I can't really think any of them all the way out? Yeah, I get like that. It's hard. I don't like it." He leans back a little, settling slightly and shrugs, "Not much to do about it, really. Either take one bit at a time or just… wait. For something to make it clearer."

"Mmm. Yeah…" Cidra murmurs with a yawn. "Been thinking about a lot of matters lately, Alexis. Lauren Coll. Ryan Shaker. Michael Abbot. Dominic. Ibrahim. My Daeds. Sagittaron. Aerilon. Picon. Why leave some and reinforce others? None of it fits together. But it all does, though. It all does somehow. If I could just step back and look at all the pieces…" She trails off, shaking her head. "Well. Athena blesses me with no such wisdom tonight. And what of you, Alexis? On what do you seek clarity of, from the Lords and Ladies?"

Devlin listens, dark brows drawing together faintly as the CAG lists off things that are jumbled together in her brain. "That sounds like an awful lot to figure out," he offers, somewhat soothingly, "I mean… if command and intel and whatever haven't managed it yet…." He shrugs a little, against her arm, and then again at her question. "What I should be doing, how to do it best, how to… make the most of the time I have, I guess, mostly. It's not so much clarity today," he admits, "More like… patience. And strength. And faith. To trust that whatever happens to me will be what is meant to happen, and that they have a good reason."

"You are nearly Ensign Alexis Thaddeus Devlin, Midshipman Alexis Thaddeus Devlin," Cidra says. With a smile. As if that had only just now occurred to her. "I am writing a speech for you and the other Nuggets. Well. I will write one. And I will get up at my podium and I will say that. You know, I wanted to strangle Pewter after Audumbla. 'Hit them back, stronger, harder.' It sounded such nonsense after the sacrifices we made. That they had made. Those four brave, wonderful pilots. Not me. I did hit him. But I think I…I understand now. You have to do that sometimes. Puff people up when they have been knocked down hard. Even when you scarce believe it yourself. Well. I believe it more now than I did after Audumbla. We have found souls alive back on the colonies, and that is no small thing. Even when we have lost so much…"

Devlin's brows rise at that, and his shoulders stiffen, and just for a moment he's perfectly still, in the fashion of someone trying very hard to keep from moving involuntarily. So he ends up listening in silence until Cidra is finished and then remaining silent for another moment or two more. Finally, he asks plainly, not very loudly, "I'll be top of the list to follow after those four, won't I? When I'm an ensign. Soon." He does not sound as if he begrudges her making that decision, just… maybe a bit worried.

"What…?" Cidra blinks at Devlin, blue eyes wide and a little taken aback. As much as one can be when mellowed as much as she's made herself. "You think I…because they flew older planes? Because they had been Reservists? It did not matter. None were regulars when the bombs fell. All are now. It could have easily been Bubbles. Or Money Shot. Or myself. Gods, I wish it had been me at times, Alexis. The basestar could be taken out no other way. It needed to be done, and they were best positioned to do it. It was just…luck. Very ill luck. There is no list, my Decoy. There is no order. There is no sense to it. You can frak up entirely and land without a scratch at times. You pray you make the mistakes when it matters least. Because we all frak up sooner or later. And you can do everything perfectly, you can fly like a ballerina taken to air, you can be right on the cubit…but one hair's breath off, just one time, and it will not matter. And even if you are not off…we are the protectors of this ship, Alexis Thaddeus Devlin. And at times our duty is to be right on the cubit into the teeth of the enemy. That is what we are. And this ship is still here because those four beautiful pilots were *right* on the cubit at Audumbla. And you and I are here talking like this because of them. Adn countless others who came before. And we remain, and I pray we honor them as we go."

"No, not-" Devlin starts to shake his head a little, but instead he falls silent and listens, still frowning faintly, in that way that serious thinking seems to require, for him. "But you need them more," he points out after a moment or two of thought, "Bubbles. Money Shot. You can make another of me in three months, but they took years. That's what I meant. I'm… expendable. Less of a loss, if there needs to be one. I know what they did was incredibly brave and and— noble and everything," he falters a little, "And we're all alive only because of them. I do honor that. I just…" he trails off and shrugs a little. "I'm sorry," he switches gears a little, his tone shifting, almost forced, "I didn't mean to say you picked them because they were Petrels. I never believed that."

"That is the crux of it, though," Cidra says softly. "We are none of us expendable. None more than any other. But we are *all* expendable, if that is what it takes to keep the ship whole. We are defenders, Alexis Thaddeus Devlin. After all that has happened…we are still defenders…" And she does say it as if heartened by it. "We all of us have our strengths, our weaknesses, and some were better made for this than others. But it does not matter. We are what this ship has. And on our best days, when we get past the nonsense, we fly *surpassing* well for it. Once you have your wings, my Decoy, you shall be that as much as the rest of us. You shall be a defender. We fly and fight together. We protect each other. And that is no small thing. Sometimes it is not so much as it needs to be. But it is all we can do, and thsi ship needs us to do it."

Devlin listens, with that same intensely thoughtful little frown, and finally nods a little. "Okay," he replies, and then nods again, "I understand. I— thank you," he amends, just barely leaving off the 'sir', "I am, or— I will be honored. To be part of it," he says, adding with a quirk of a smile, "I hope I'm ready. Captain Vakos… well, she liked my flying, at least. I practice as much as I can."

"You fly well enough for me to trust you on a CAP," Cidra says. Even mellow, the CAG is not one to give much praise save 'You did that adequately.' "You are ready to fly with us, Alexis Thaddeus Devlin." She does not smile when she says it.

Devlin takes that in stride, nodding a little. "Okay," he repeats, "If you think so." Again he barely resists the 'sir' and then after a second his head cocks a little sideways and he asks, "Do you have a middle name?" After another beat he seems to realize he's being presumptuous and adds, "I'm sorry, that's a personal question. It's just that you keep saying mine. And I was wondering suddenly."

"Agatha," is Cidra's prompt reply to Devlin's question. "After my mother." Said a little wryly, that last. "I was born Cidra Agatha Nevarine, of Shinkirsei in Dryope Province. Names are important, Alexis. The ones we are given. The ones who choose. Names give a thing form…"

"Cidra Agatha Nevarine Hahn," Devlin says, repeating the full name experimentally, and perhaps not as hesitantly as he should. "Thaddeus was my grandfather," he informs her, "And Alexis was his father. Everyone always thinks it's a girl's name." And he does not appreciate that, clearly enough. "Do you use the Nevarine?" he asks, "If I were to say your full name, when you say mine. Do you leave it in like that, or just say Hahn? I haven't asked Psyche if the Athenos is still in there or not, I don't know how it works."

"I like Alexis," Cidra says, a little defensive of the name. "It has several syllables." A shake of her head. "When a Gemenese woman weds, she joins to the flesh of her husband, to his blood, to him in all parts of herself. Love is a thing that should consume one utterly, Alexis Thaddeus Devlin. If it does not, you are not doing it right." The barest hint of a smile, albeit a somber one. "I am Cidra Hahn, and I shall remain so."

"Cidra has fewer," Devlin points out, "I like it anyway." Is it possible to get a chamalla contact high? He listens as she explains, and nods along, as if understanding. "Taurian tatau have designs that commemorate marriage," he says, "And they have to be etched into the skin with chisels and blades, like the parts that tell of your family and its lineage and history. So that even if you were able to get enough lasers and chemicals to remove all the ink, you'd still have the scars tracing out the design, always."

"That is so beautiful…" Cidra says, smiling as Devlin talks about the permanent scarring, blinking at him with somewhat unfocused blue eyes. She digs that. She squeezes his shoulders when he calls her by her given name. She's still got her arm draped around him. "Thank you."

Devlin smiles back, and while surprised by the squeeze, he does not seem to mind and after a moment, shifts to put his arm around her shoulders in return. "Thank you," he replies, his free hand reaching to press over his heart, "It will go here," he says, "Soon, as soon as I find someone who can do it. Regular tattooing, with the needles, I can do, but this takes special training. It takes days to do that way, and it hurts. A lot. Incredibly. But I think it's important."

"It is important. Very, very, very important," Cidra agrees solemnly, nodding her head with each 'very.' "Very." Just for emphasis. She yawns again, unwinding her left arm from Devlin. Her right hand still has her prayer beads wrapped around it, and she fingers them idly. "I will stay here tonight again, I think. I cannot think in the berthings and there is…there is so much to think about, Alexis. You know? Is not there just?"

Devlin nods his agreement, though not quite so emphatically. When she speaks of staying there, he nods a little more, agreeing, "There always is. I have to just focus on the flying and the people who are here and block out the rest, most of the time." He nods a little more, and then gives her shoulders a squeeze in return, a one-armed sort of hug. "Sleep well, Cidra," he offers, "Try not to get a stiff neck sleeping upright. And thank you," he adds, "For talking."

"This is perfectly comfy," Cidra assures him, returning the hug, then scooting back to the far end of the bench. Where she sort of curls, feet up on it. "Thank you." She doesn't close her eyes right away, but spends some time staring up at the altars, toying idly with her beads.

"Good," Devlin says with a nod, smiling a little. He watches for a moment, as if making sure she is situated, and then takes a few steps back before finally turning to exit the chapel.

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