PHD #136: Trust Issues
Trust Issues
Summary: Constin and Tillman trade ideas and tactics about the Cylon.
Date: 12 July 2041 AE
Related Logs: Civility, Impressions and Monotheism
Constin Tillman 
Executive Officer's Quarters
A decent-sized room for a personal quarters, the XO's cabin has few of the plush amenities of the Admiral's but still retains a few more touches than would normally be found elsewhere. There are bookshelves that are stacked neatly beside a line of lockers. The standard-sized bunk is built into the wall with a few cabinets overhead for storage. The desk is a standard issue piece of furniture and so is the chair that comes with it, but there is a plain blue couch against the wall near the door and a respectably-sized blue rug lain out in front of it. This room also has a personal bathroom that holds a cramped shower, toilet, and sink area that is separated by a thin wooden door painted to the same color as the walls.
Post-Holocaust Day: #136

The hatch to the XO's Quarters is cracked and the light is still on despite the late hour. While the rest of the ship sleeps but for a skeleton crew and the roving Marine patrols, the XO toils. He's sitting at his desk in his 'AEGEAN' sweatpants and his tanks, reading over some papers with a glass of whiskey next to him, the bottle nearby as well.

"Major," comes Constin's all-business voice from the direction of the hatch. The single word carries the edge of having been at work without relaxing for several hours, and without the intent to slow down. "You got the time, sir?" The big sergeant is still in his duty tans.

Tillman looks up from the papers and lifts a hand, motioning the Marine in. "C'mon in, Sergeant. Take up that chair again." He sets the paper down and gestures to it. "Transcript from the interrogation. I couldn't sleep right now if I wanted to. Wanna take yourself off duty? Have a glass?" He glances to the bottle.

"Been off duty for-" he checks the chronometer, "Four hours. Thank you, sir," the marine drawls, belatedly loosing the top button of his uniform shirt in a token gesture toward informality. "Mah favorite chair," he mutters, lowering himself into the seat facing the XO's desk and letting out a short breath. "Swear, ah feel like shot were fired today. All wound the frak up."

The Major nods, rising from the chair and heading for his lockers. "Yeah, that whole thing felt like I was trying to drink from a firehose. I wanted to chase every damned thing she said." He opens one and removes a glass and heads back to the desk to pour some of the drink for the Marine. "Here. I'd say you've earned it." The glass is set on the edge of the desk closest to Constin and he circles back for his own chair. "Biggest problem? Godsdamned thing so genuine. I want to believe everything she's telling us. But..she seemed credible when you started throwing pictures. What do you think?" The XO reaches for his own glass to sip at it.

"Ah think ah trust anything it says about half as far as ah could throw a battle tank, sir," the marine mutters back with raised brows. "First step in feeding misinformation is to spout off just enough credible sounding shit to win confidence," Constin mutters as he reaches forward to take the glass with a nod and word of thanks. "So, professionally? We're no damned closer to closing off this sabotage situation than we were before talking to that thing. Speaking out of pure curiosity? Few inconsistencies ah saw. But hell, sir- if that resurrection shit is true?" A shake of his head.

"That's the battle I'm fighting. I don't want to believe any of it but damn. I want to believe we have a source like this." The man takes a long breath like he's deflating, leaning back in the chair. "But yeah, that resurrection shit." He looks at the glass in his hand. "The problem is that from a strategic viewpoint, more and more of what she said makes sense. It fits. Just like resurrection. If that's true, then that closes off why the hell Morgenfield- the Six?- killed herself." He looks back to Constin. "She said that this whole area screws with their minds. If she couldn't offload her memories from inside, then of course she would have to jump out."

"Autopsies came back," Constin notes, as talk turns to 'the Six'. "Worst case scenario: not a frakking thing to set them apart from a real human. No alien components, no discernible implanted technologies.. Nothing." A terse breath of his own. "Bout the only lead ah can think to follow on that front, is carbon dating a sample of bone or some shit. If it comes back four months old, instead of thirty or forty or some shit, then.." A shake of his head. "Even if cylon resurrection- frak it, even if cylons CAN'T reboot when they get blasted, there's enough to suggest that Morgenfield had some kinda communication or information relay with the rest of the toasters, and that would confirm the probability that our present position is in fact compromised, sir."

Tillman grunts at the autopsy results. "Ain't that a bitch?" he asks rhetorically. "So we've got no real way to tell these things apart other than how they look. That's friggin fantastic." Another sip from the whiskey. "Yeah. I hear what you're saying about the resurrection, but too much makes sense with that puzzle piece installed. Like, her constant use of 'God' - singular. I got out of a meeting with the Sister about an hour ago and she was tellin me about monotheistic cultures? Shit fits. All of it. Right down to their use of precision tactical nuclear strikes on our religious sites on Gemenon. If this thing is feeding us lies? Its one helluva spun web, Sergeant. As for our position? I'll be talking to Pewter in a few hours on exactly that topic. I'll have a copy of the memo you authored to hand to him personally. You'll have credit for that find."

"Sometimes it makes me sick to be right, sir," Constin growls with a shake of his head. The long delayed shot is held aloft with the words, "Here's to us, and them like us: damned few and most are dead." With that he slams back the shot, savoring the burning sensation going down the back of his throat. "A lot of the info fits, sure. But this essentially remains a cylon agent, taken from a cylon biological weapons installation, without much more than it's own word that it's not in line with the other cylons. Anything we get from this thing? Ah'll factor in as a possibility, but it ain't proof for shit, far as ah can see."

Tillman smirks with the toast and drinks to it. "All true. But its a biowarfare installation she was trying to sink before our people were even on board. While I disagree with her shooting at our people, the rationale holds from her perspective of attempting to save lives. If her goal was really to have something bad happen? Why tell us? Why sink the installation into a giant radioactive cloud- which brings us to another point." Tillman taps a finger from his drink hand on the brim. "Why in the frak would the Cylon install a facility like this out here? If they died, they couldn't download and bring their work and research back with them - if what she says is true and that theory about Morgenfield holds."

"Contagion," is Constin's simple and direct answer. "IF we trust that thing's words, then the procedure was effective on cylon meat-machines. IF they reboot when they die, maybe they take the contagion back to the big old hard drive in the sky with them." A thoughtful breath drawn through flared nostrils as he looks aside to stare through the bulkhead while the marine orders his next thoughts. "Ah still say self-preservation, in the face of going offline without the ability to reboot. Hell, sir- even if this 'resurrection' shit isn't true, the thing in our brig seems to believe it, and that's enough to shape actions and choices. Hell, a whole lot of real people think that when they die, they kick back in a grassy field having a picnic with the Gods. Whether or not its true, that fact shapes the way a lot of folks act, yeah?"

"Yeah. That's what I was getting at. If that shit screws with them and they take it home, then..well what the frak? Why would it matter? Do these things have kids? They're machines. If they wanted kids, they could just test tube a few right?" Something is bouncing inside Tillman's head and he tries to catch it while his eyes move around the room. He finally ends up digging through the transcript. "Wait. Here. She said she was born for that job. And that she was 'cast out by God' and she accepted this sacrifice of herself." To the man's last, Tillman nods. "Yeah. Talked to the Sister about that, too. Religion is a social control that guides movements, choices, and motivations."

"So, for a machine.. patterned off of people," Constin mutters along with the elusive thought. "Whatever bits of code they lug around to mimic real genetics- getting cut off from download, would mimic real genetic reproduction, yeah? Maybe block their ability to reboot, or some shit? Frak me, ah don't know enough about computers. OR genetics. But why the frak would they be able to test this kinda bioweapon on cylons, and expect to apply it to people?"

"Heh. Yeah. I don't know much about either topic. But from an abstract point of view, the autopsies came back negative for anything mechanical. They look and function anatomically like people do. So.." Tillman is trying to finish the thought but damned if he knows enough. "Then the weapon should work on them. I just- How could something like that transmit back? If it even would? Maybe this place was just a fantastic place to hide? Frakkin hell."

"Well.. Same way a computer virus does, maybe? Changes the.. basic code, right?" A dry snort as Constin catches himself playing techie. "If memories can get reloaded, then they're encoded somehow. Programmed. Seems simple enough in principle to load on some kinda computer virus that goes back with them? Hell," he dismisses the attempt. "Either case, ah'm gonna want another session with that thing, sir. See if we can get some kinda consistency out of it's reactions."

Tillman shrugs. It makes sense to him, but he's not the poster boy for computer knowledge. "Yeah, I'm not done with her, either. I'd actually like to sit down and have an informal discussion with it." He keeps switching between 'her' and 'it'. That will probably never end. "A lot of serious interrogations lend themselves to less productive ends because the subject knows they are being interrogated. It raises the stress levels and promotes a defensive attitude. When people relax they tend to be more willing to speak freely." Which would explain his demeanor during the whole thing. "If these things really believe themselves to be human or close copies, at least psychologically, then it should track along the same lines. I think having a relaxed discussion with her might provide some interesting clues. I can try and shoot holes in her stories that way. What, in particular, are you looking to chase down?"

"Want to poke at that programming block it claimed," Constin answers promptly. "Seems a bit too convenient for mah taste: can't volunteer anything we don't already know, but it'll talk up, down, and sideways about shit we already know." A fresh breath after a moment's musing. "See what other kinds of blocks 'God' decided to build into their hard drive commandments. Shit, hope that don't get out- Computer geeks already think they're frakking Gods, one of them thinks the cylons think their programmer is a God? Frakkers'd be insufferable."

"Yeah. That kinda drives me nuts. I'm willing to pander to it for so long, but regardless I think there are ways around it. The trick is going to be that we need to keep it convinced that we aren't looking to kill with this information. And to be honest?" Tillman shrugs, lifting his glass a bit. "I was truthful. If I don't have to order anyone to kill one of them, then it takes the risk off our people. If there are entire lines of models that are opposed to this whole godsdamned mess then not only do we not have to fight them, then we may actually have more willing to provide information. See, even the lies can be telling. All we have to do is figure out what its lying about. I've got a few ideas to test theories but I'll need a couple days to implement them. If it turns out she's full of shit, then she can get the kind of treatment she probably expected from us."

"Well, next step is establishing a ground line for it's reactions," Constin notes with a nod. "If the toaster had said 'yeah' when Abbott's face came up, ah had Lucky's next in line as a control test. As it stands now, the only word it gave that ah can trust is the word that is in line with what all of our prior research and investigation had already confirmed as being the case." A terse sigh, "And that's a shit source of information: one you don't gain a frakking thing from. If we can establish SOME kinda consistency in it;s answers, then *maybe* what it says can get a bit of weight."

"Exactly. And it readily identified Shaker. It didn't even have to be prompted for Morgenfield except for a single picture." The Major takes another sip of the glass. "All true. I don't know, though. I'm going to have the Sister talk to it and learn what she can about their religious viewpoints. There might be strategic value there. I'm going to press her on a couple different topics - mostly having to do with motivations and loyalties. If it turns out this thing is feeding us the truth, I want her to feel like she has at least one ally here — even if it isn't entirely true. I doubt she's about to just suddenly turn tails on her own people, but it might be worth the effort to try. She's already hit a few of the key points required for it."

"Thing still has some kinda agenda that ain't in line with what it's told so far," Constin mutters with a frown, nodding to Tillman's comment on Eleven's tagging of Shaker and Morgenfield. "Whatever it thinks and 'feels', sir- soon as the boat leaves the radiation soup around Audumbula? It needs to be on suicide watch. Be one helluva score for the toasters to put a spy right back on the boat."

"I dunno. It could. Its also possible that it may not. I don't want to throw out the idea that it genuinely is looking to help us. Its agenda may very well be to see an end to hostilities. If that is the case, then likely she will see herself as an ambassador. She'd have to know that we'd want her dead and anything she tells us would have to be the truth or we'll grow tired of it — ruining her mission. But again, anything is possible. You very well could prove to be right. I hate to turn this into a good cop, bad cop situation..but it may come down to that." Tillman looks to his glass with the last comment and nods. "Agreed. I'm going to push Pewter for an immediate jump out of here. I want to head back to Parnassus. There might be more wreckage of that basestar out there. I want to take a look at it."

"Won't throw it out," Constin drawls to the notion that this cylon may truly want peace, "But wouldn't even bet another man's cubit on it, sir." A breath drawn in and let out through the nose. "Whatever the story it feeds us, it confirmed firing on our people, and if it really wanted to make sure that shit didn't spread? Why the frak would it wait until after being boarded to let the place go to pieces? If it really was all about a sacrifice for 'God', why wait long enough to risk our people being contaminated, and not wait long enough to let them investigate more of the installation? Plus all this shit with the 'thou shalt not name names' commandment.. whole thing stinks."

"Well, that's a pretty valid set of points. But the reason why she waited until we were aboard? I don't think she did. The only reason we detected that station was due to a massive loss of power and the shutdown procedures begin producing DRADIS returns. More than likely she was just in the process of letting it crash with her aboard when we interrupted. Even if we -had- been able to get people aboard? The Lieutenant said that there was ten to fifteen minutes worth of time to explore before it became dangerous." Tillman explains it all matter of factly. "The thing all makes sense if and only if she's not shitting us at a single corner. That's why I want to have something informal. Gauge her intentions.

Constin nods along bitterly, "Yeah. Makes a fella wonder what could've been found in fifteen minutes. And whether *anybody* would've been exposed to that shit if those frakking drones hadn't lit up the Deckies. Any word on that count from Captain Price yet, sir?" the sergeant asks, narrow blue regard holding Tillman's eye with that last query.

"Sure. I'd loved to have gotten all our people down there to look around and figure out where and how that junk worked. I understand the team pulled some data chips out of the paneling. It may provide some clues but..? We could try asking our inmate. Its a shitty alternative, but she might be more than happy to give up everything she knows about it. If it all tracks?" The XO makes a face. "As for Captain Price, I'm not quite sure what you're looking for. I can't chew someone out multiple times for the same mistake. Guy already feels bad about it. I kinda doubt he is going to make the same mistake again when he knows there's a pissed-off MP looking to throw a nightstick at his balls."

Constin shakes his head. "Get better snap with the nightstick when it don't leave the hand, sir," he states without a smile. Hearing that it's been addressed as much as th8is sort of thing really can be will have to do and the MP shifts the topic back to a less off-pissing topic: cylon genocide perpetrators. "Well, sir.. if nothing else, the brig-toaster should damn well know the workings of the shit it was working on our team's arrival. Any hedging around the question is a dead giveaway."

"Ow." Tillman tilts his head and lifts the glass again to sip at it. "Yeah, she's either going to help or she isn't. That's as good a place as any. Just make sure that if you talk to her about that, that you get copies to Lieutenants Stavrian and Bia. If there's anything you can glean from her as far as reversing the effects of that crap, Medical needs to have it. But they are next up in line to talk to her. I think Stavrian is trying to get in there tomorrow. Just..let them talk on their own. For now."

Constin nods to the advice/order. "Don't intend to play doctor sir, no need to worry on that count. This point, does me just as much good to be watching it through a camera, looking for patterns, contradictions, and bullshit. Leave the medicine shit to the experts, yeah?"

"Pretty much. I don't understand half of what they're damned talking about half the time anyway." The Major shakes his head. "I'm interested in what she tells them, but not as interested as I am to see her interaction with Lieutenant Nikephoros. I have my suspicions about her due to the circumstances surrounding her boarding. However, leading this operation? Nobody reporting anything out of the ordinary about her? I'll be watching that video closely."

Constin's stern frown twists nearer to a scowl as the Intel officer is named and discussed. "Yeah," the marine mutters, letting a bullish breath out his nose in a snort. "Well then. Ah thank you for the drink Major, but ah should be heading out. Anything remotely relevant will get sent your way."

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