PHD #480: The Measure
The Measure
Summary: Eventually, all things fall apart.
Date: 21 Jun 2042 AE
Related Logs: TBP
Ciro Ekho 
Enlisted Marine Berths
Designed specifically to house a small Marine contingent, this berthing is one of the smallest on the ship. The bunks are arranged in standard formation in the classic over-under configuration and lockers dividing each one. However, the lockers here are a bit larger than most elsewhere on the ship to accommodate the bulky combat gear associated with the security details of the crew that lives here. Tables are spread out for use through the area with their standard allotment of chairs.
Condition Level: 3 - All Clear
Post-Holocaust Day: #480

The evening has arrived and Ciro has just returned from the Marine offices after submitting some paperwork, per his new duties as Platoon Sergeant of Dog Platoon. Heading down the long rows of bunks, he makes his way towards the very corner of the room where his bunk rests. Stopping at his locker, he pulls it open and starts to undo the buttons of his duty uniform. Letting out a sigh, glad to be away from his shift, he pulls the shirt from his shoulders and reaches into the locker for a fresh pair of tank tops. His tattoo, still angry and scarring over, is slowly healing.

Paperwork, sadly, is something the MPs know a great deal about, and Ekho is no exception in that regard. Settled onto one of the chairs at the metal table close to her bunk, the woman's working her way through what looks like a titanic pile, taking notes and ordering the large pile into smaller more organized piles. But paper is paper, new or recycled, and she's obviously dressed for it, switched into her sweats, rather than her usual uniform. A glance up at the movement not far too distant, "Sergeant."

Glancing down to her, Ciro eyes her quietly, taking in the sight of the paperwork that she's gathered before her on the table. Eyebrows furrowed, he turns back to his locker and stows the olive drab shirt on a hanger. "You know…" He speaks quietly, carefully pulling the tank tops over his torso to conceal the rapidly healing artwork. "…I've got to be curious. Are you calling me Sergeant because we're not on a first name basis anymore, or is there nothing to it?" He asks, turning to sit on his bunk while he pulls at his laces. "I don't know if you've heard but I've had to scale back on some of our gunsmithing sessions. Vandenberg's keeping me busy."

"I had heard that you'd gotten the promotion." There's a light lift of her shoulders, almost a shrug, "She offered me the spot. We didn't see eye to eye. She took it back." There's no thread of emotion in the comment, whatever happened between Ekho and the Captain obviously having moved beyond the realm of 'able to bother me', if it was ever within it. "Congratulations." Another piece of paper's marked, piled up, another picked up following, "It was never meant to be a permanent thing. Real duty before pastimes."

Oh. Shit. Then again, Ciro should have figured something was up when he was referred to as 'Sergeant'. The dismissive tone should have been the second hint. Dumbfounded, the mohawked marine's jaw goes slack as he peels the tank tops down the rest of the way. Biting the inside of his lip, he lifts his eyebrows to Ekho's back before turning his gaze back to his locker. The metallic door rattles closed and the latch falls into place. He thinks of something quick to say. "Oh…" He gets out, sounding surprised. That's the first step. Stuck for a moment, having never thought beyond sounding surprised, his reply comes after a few seconds of thought. He turns and pulls out a chair beside the slender, athletic Staff Sergeant. "…well shit, Elly, I didn't know that. If it makes you feel any better I'm not getting a rank promotion. Did you…want the position?"

"No. Honestly, I hadn't even thought about it until she mentioned it to me. It's not an MP slot, and I would have had to leave the 3-2." Since the MPs are Able platoon and the 'field' marines are Dog. "But it would never have worked out. I can't work for an officer who can't even support their own prejudices." A shrug of her shoulders, as she pushes aside one of the stacks of paperwork, to start working on her notepads. She seems to have everything colour-coded and labeled. "Don't bother feeling badly about it, I don't."

"Can't support their own prejudices?" Ciro asks as he lowers himself into the chair. Sticking his legs out low beneath the table, he folds his arms across his muscular chest and watches Ekho work. He's at least attempting to make eye contact, even though she's definitely locked into her paperwork. "Well, I am a field marine, you know this, so you know that my true love lies in rolling around in the shit, getting cuts and bruises, running, jumping, and climbing trees. Why I beg to be sent down to irradiated wastelands I don't know. It's just what I'm trained for. So I have a definite bias to the Dogs, and I like Captain Vandenberg, but don't let that make you think we still can't have a private conversation, okay?" He pauses, lowering his head a little bit. "What's up, Ekho? Talk to me."

"She loves that shitheap of a colony she comes from. And can't abide anyone questioning her and forcing her to try to defend her opinions. Fair warning, don't try it. She offered me the position, we got on the topic of canceron opinions, I challenged her to defend something she said, next thing you know, she's railing about how I was insulting her and telling me she'd decided I wasn't the right person for the job. She may have been through MP training, but she isn't one. She doesn't know or appreciate how we think. It would never have worked. But everyone seems to like her, so I try to keep my opinions to myself." Again, that light shrug.

"Well, all opinions aside that's the same shitheap of a colony that I come from, Ekho." Ciro replies, lip tugging to the side in a quirky smile. "Sounds like a frakkin horrible conversation the two of you had, and if you didn't put it together even on a social meeting you're probably right that it wouldn't have worked out being her Platoon Sergeant." He tilts his head, giving her foot a shove with his boot under the table. "Shithole colony you say? Shithole? What's up with that, Eks?"

There's a distinct shake of her head, as Ekho draws back her foot out of kicking distance beneath the table, pulling out a datapad, and pushing it over towards the man sitting across the table from her, easily navigating the paperwork she has spread out on the metal surface. "It's file 17-42." She returns to her paperwork, moving back into the easy rhythm of her work. "It wasn't a social conversation. She wanted to 'feel' me out, find out about me outside of the file and the paperwork. Except she clearly didn't get the paperwork at all to begin with, or she might have seen my point. But I suppose when someone gets set in their ways, it's difficult to make them see any differently. She wasn't looking for a leader, she was looking for a follower."

Flipping on the datapad, Ciro taps over the screen. Browsing through the files until he finds 17-42, he loads it up and silently browses over the document. Chewing his lip, his brows lower and a frown creases his features as he reads. It's not healthy reading. In fact, it details the foster childhood of one Ekho Inoue. His thumb taps on the screen, scrolling the text down. He reads while she works. After what seems like an eternity, he turns off the datareader and sets it down on the table. "Place never did anything good for you." He states, nodding his head softly.

Ekho reaches over, without looking up from her work, pulling the datapad back over and sliding it back into its case. "I don't want you to think I have any sort of resentment towards you when it comes to this promotion, because I honestly don't. She wanted someone who could work with her in the field, who wasn't going to question her orders. Problem is, I don't believe in doing something unless I know why. That's not to say I have to know why beforehand, if I'm given and order and I think it's a legal one, I'll follow it, but I'm not gong to be a mindless drone. It's perfectly fine to have opinions and beliefs, but if you can't back those up with solid reason, then in my mind you aren't the sort of person I want to take orders from either."

"Oh, no I get that, Eks. Her and I have worked together before and have a working relationship. It's about trust. Sometimes in the field you don't have time to question every last order, and with all of the vague, mystic bullshit the Cylons are cramming down our throats there's way too much at stake. I don't know if you heard but Z-lady, who's in Dog with me, launched at one of the Cylons and some kind of suicide pill got cracked open, killing the Cylon. There's just a lot of low-level bullshit going around, and the way information filters down I think she's got to know who's going to play ball, or who's gonna launch themselves at the would-be diplomatic Cylon." He leans back, folding his arms across his chest as he watches her work. "Hey…" He tries to nudge her foot with his under the table, trying to get her undivided attention. "…are you doing okay? You were pretty distant with me the other day."

"See? You don't get it either. It's not about trust. And it isn't about following orders." There's a snort, as Ekho gets to her feet, making short work of getting her paperwork together, cleaning up all of the things she brought to the table, "But since you both seem to have the same misunderstanding, I suppose you'll work out just fine." Once everything's back in order, She pushes her chair away from the table, coming back to her feet, and turning, heading towards her bunk, and the locker besides.

Ciro tilts his head, watching the space that she's just vacated as she walks away. He doesn't follow her movement, instead he takes in a slow, deep breath and tilts his eyes to the ceiling. His fingertips drum quietly on his forearm as he mentally tosses a few dice, trying to figure out how to respond to the angry Staff Sergeant. "Ekho, instead of storming off you could realize that for me it is about trust, not about not seeing eye to eye with you. Frak, girl, you've a right to your opinion, but there's no reason to storm off like that. Last I checked we were friends."

"It ISN'T about trust. It's about knowing that the person you're giving your life to has the ability to dish out orders with their head on straight. Knowing that you can believe that when they DO something, they're doing it for logical, well-reasoned…reasons. Not because 'I believe this' so you go out and do it. How can you know that someone isn't going to throw you into a dead-end situation without having considered every possibility, if they can't even defend themselves in a simple conversation. That was what that entire conversation was about. Seeing if she could use her head, instead of her gut when it came to having to defend her beliefs. In a situation where lives weren't gong to be in danger. Like learning to drive in a parking lot, before you get out on the road. She couldn't even make it in the parking lot, so why the hell would I trust her on the road? And here you are with exactly the same blind spot that she has. But what did I expect. She picked you to come to heel, so what does that say about you?"

"That I'm a mindless dog and when she says frog I jump?" Ciro replies, a twinge of annoyance to his voice as he rises from his seated position at the table. Pushing the chair in with his boot, he moves to lean against his bunk, watching her from across the six-foot space between their collective living spaces. "Ekho, chances are I am going to be thrown into a dead end situation. You're recon, you know how that is. If I'm way out there scouting ahead and a Basestar pops in and the fleet's got to jump, I'm pretty much frakked. Best I can hope for is that I'm somewhere liveable. Not to mention that we've got Cylon skinjobs to try to find somewhere inside of the fleet." His hand floats up to his brow-line, rubbing softly. "Look I'm not some mindless grunt, okay, but Eks…truth is that anyone could be a Cylon. You, me, even Sofia Wolfe, although she comes across to me as mostly harmless. I've got a hard enough time trusting anyone period."

"Those are your words, not mine." The paperwork gets slotted back into her locker, pulled open a bit harder than it needs to be, before the door's slammed shut again, and the woman turns to face the man now standing just a few feet away from her, "You put your bet on the wrong horse, and it's going to get you killed. And you're going to die thinking you made the right decision. And nothing I do is going to change your mind. So you know what, have at it." There's a shrug, more of resignation than annoyance, "I know who I am. You can believe that or not, it doesn't really matter to me."

"Honestly, Ekho, when I die it'll likely be to the final thought of 'looks clear' and I'm not going to know the difference between what was right or wrong. I'm not trying to get you to change your mind, and what else can I do, Eks? I'm a Sergeant. I take orders and hand them off to the squad and get the job done. If things get frakked up in the field we deal with them as they come but I'm not brass. I don't get to make those calls. That shit's ten-thousand feet above my payscale." Turning his head to the side, he places his hands on his hips and lets out an frustrated sigh. "Whatever, Ekho, bullshit it doesn't matter otherwise you wouldn't be slamming shit around." He looks back to her. "Why are we fighting about this? I don't have a choice as to what orders I do receive but there are good reasons why I trust the Captain. More than an argument. I've been in the field with her."

"Everyone knows the difference between right and wrong, even if they can't always do one and they sometimes have to do the other. That's part of what makes us human. We have the ability to perceive that. And saying you're a Sergeant and you just take orders is a load of shit. You didn't have to accept the position. You could have said no, it's not for me. But you didn't. You went right along with it." There's a snort of sound, before Ekho continues, "We'd all been 'in the field' as it were, with Kepner, before he showed his true colours too. And look where that got us. You don't find out about someone by starting with the big picture. You find out about them by looking for all the little details. The small things that fit together like puzzle pieces to tell you what's underneath the mask they've got on."

"I fought on the right side of the issue with Kepner, and if anything like that happens again, Ekho, I'll be on the right side of that as well. Vandenberg hasn't asked me to do anything unethical and if she ever did that would be the day you see me sitting in your brig. I accepted the position because these guys mean something to me and it's an honor to be their Platoon Sergeant." He steps closer, lowering his voice lest their conversation become something for much more public consumption. His face hovers near hers, and he attempts to reach for her shoulder. "Ekho, do you really take me for the kind of person that would do something like that? I think you're wrong about the Captain. I don't believe she'd ever do that sort of thing, but if she did. IF she did…why the frak would I dig in for the ride? I swore nothing in my oath of breaking ethics, cmon, you know that."

"Yeah, and all the people who fought with Kepner thought they were fighting on the right side too, Ciro. Every last one of them, down to the last man that stayed on that boat. Every last one that tried to kill us when we boarded their ship. Every last one that kept our people detained and killed their fellow soldiers because they wanted to push Kepner's agenda. They trusted him, they believed in him, just like you believe in your wonderful Captain." Ekho doesn't stop the man from taking her shoulder, "Is it ethical to take a life? To destroy something that we can't create? And how many have you killed in your day, Ciro? How many have I? Because it was what we were ordered to do."

"Eks, both Vandenberg and myself fought on the right side of that Kepner problem, and so did you. You're acting like I've done something wrong. I haven't committed any crimes and if something like that Kepner bullshit ever happened again I'd be on the right side of that too. This isn't about my Captain, Elly." He squeezes her shoulder softly for effect, eyes locked onto hers. "I've killed plenty of people. There's nothing I like about it. There's nothing I ever will like about it. But I need you to understand that this isn't about blind loyalty, at least not to me. When shit gets out of line and command starts giving psychotic orders, that's when command is assumed. Until then it's mutiny. She gave you a bad taste in your mouth but I've been under her command for a while and she's never asked me to do anything unethical." He pauses, watching her facial expressions. "Don't worry about me. I keep my eyes open better than most people. Frak…I sleep with my back braced to the bulkhead."

"That's not the point I'm trying to make, Ciro, but you're refusing to see anything but what you want to see. you've got it in your head that you know what the right thing is, and you won't even consider anything else. You talk about cylons on the fleet…you know what? The cylons didn't just appear out of nowhere. They infiltrated us years ago, if the memories of some of the people on this ship are anything to go by. Very few of the faces we've seen so far have been new ones. Anyone we knew before the war might have been a sleeper agent and we just didn't know it. Jakob could just be a figment of my imagination. You might see a dozen clones of your girlfriend one day." yes, she knows he has one, that's no secret. "You tell me you trust her, but you don't even know her. You've worked with her what, a few months? That's it. Everyone is suspect. Everyone needs to be put under the microscope." Another snort, "No you don't, you sleep lying on your stomach like a child, with your arms curled around your pillow."

Ciro, nearly seething, pushes Ekho up against her bunk. Eyes narrowed and his face directly in hers, he steals away her personal space. "My girlfriend died on Scorpia over a year ago, Ekho. Don't think that I haven't asked myself what I would do if she popped up a Cylon. Don't think that I haven't asked myself whether or not every person around me is worth the frakkin' scrutiny. Everyone is under the microscope, Elly. What else do I have to go on? Vandenberg hasn't asked me to do anything that's given me the impression that I shouldn't trust her any more than I trust anyone else because everyone I trusted died on the same day. Now I've got to question it because the Cylons were polite enough to give us a reason to fear each other. Every question ends in a question that leads to more questions. Until we get a difinitive answer on who the skinjob spies are this is a frakked situation all around and there is NOTHING I can do to change that. We just have to frakking deal and keep our eyes open and wait for the next bomb to go off." He lets her go, averting his gaze as he runs his hand through his mohawk. He sighs, shaking his head bitterly.

Just for a moment, hidden in the slight narrowing of her eyes, the tension in her shoulders, there's an echo of old, remembered pain, as Ekho finds herself forced up against her bunk, that instinct to curl up and protect all of the places that can hurt from the pain they know is coming that seems to have been bred into anyone who's ever felt the sting of a slap or the lash of a belt. But to her credit, she manages to hide those traces easily enough, rolling them into a shift in her balance, a straightening of her back, as she looks back at the man, slipping out from between the man's body and the locker behind her, a human animal giving itself room to run. "If they really wanted us to trust them, they would tell us who the infiltrators are, they would provide us will pictures of them, help us to ferret them out, but they refuse. Every one of them who has come to us has refused to tell us that." A shake of her head, an easy step back, "You've made your decision, we won't speak about it again."

"You're right, Ekho. If they wanted us to trust them they'd hand us over a list of people that we couldn't trust. They'd have come up with a list of people that are confirmed to be alive, hoping to maybe connect us with lost family members. Instead we're left to wait, and while we wait the worse aspects of our species keep popping up." His shoulders rise as he breathes in deeply, and his bare hand plants against the side of his bunk to lean as he exhales, his back partially turned to her. "But I haven't made any decisions, Ekho. What I've done is decide to keep watching. When I see reason to act, then I'll act, but until then I'll do my job, just like you."

He looks up, sparing a glance to her face. He pushes off of the wall and turns, letting himself lean back until his shoulders connect with the cool metal of his bunk. His glance turns into a stare across the distance between their bunks. "I'm going to see one of the skinjobs tomorrow."

Ekho continues to move away, slowly, deliberately, carefully, moving towards the free area just past the bunk, well out of the reach of the bigger man. Her face is still, impassive, a mask that doesn't allow any trace of her emotion through. Nor does her voice, soft and steady, calm and modulated, everything in her that seemed so ready to confront him only a few seconds ago completely dialed down. Even her eyes avoid him, looking only in his general area because he happens to be speaking to her. "Good luck with that."

Ciro watches her slowly move away from him, eyes quietly following her direction. She's…retreating? One of his eyebrows raises incredulously as if to ask her what she's doing, the he doesn't really have to. He knows exactly what she's doing. She's putting some distance between the two of them as if he's capable of harming her. His eyebrow lowers, giving her a look of disapproval. "Right. Maybe I should have just agreed with you." He turns towards his bunk, shaking his head once more in disbelief. "Whatever, Ekho. You're the one that grabbed the raw nerve and yanked. If you think I'd stoop so low as to hit you, you clearly are judging me with that same laser-beam of accuracy that you did Vandenberg." Yeah…he's pissed.

For just a moment, Ekho actually has the temerity to look shocked or perhaps surprised, as she hears Ciro's answer, as if she honestly couldn't believe the words coming out of his mouth, when she can still feel the places where her back hit her bunk when he pushed her against it, before she schools her features back into that careful neutral. "I judge people by what they do, not by what they say. I learned a long time ago not to trust in words." Whatever else the woman might have needed in the berthings will have to wait for another time, because she promptly turns and heads for the hatch.

"Then why don't you wait for Vandenberg to make some actions, Ekho?" Ciro snorts, turning to open his locker. "One minute you're wanting me to take your side over something involving words, next you're telling me you don't judge people by them. Next you're bringing up my dead family, pointing out that any one of them could be Cylons. What was the point of this, anyway?" He calls out towards her back, giving his locker a shove shut before turning to sit on his bunk with his back against the wall, knees bent with his elbows propped on them, hands resting on his forehead. He lets out a labored sigh, closing his eyes. "Great."

Ekho's voice is soft, as it drifts back through the hatch, just a moment before the woman moves down the hall and away from the berthings, "I think…I wanted to believe you were the way I wanted you to be, the person I wanted you to be. I wanted to believe, but I had to know. Now I do. And I'm sorry." But she doesn't stop and isn't going to, until she's well away from the berthings.

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