PHD #193: What You Live For
What You Live For
Summary: Cidra spirits off into the night to have a little chat with the one who calls herself Melpomene.
Date: 07 Sep 2041 AE
Related Logs: Yes, to be linked
Melpomene Cidra 
Somewhere on Sagittaron
Hellpit planet description goes here.
Post-Holocaust Day: #193

There's honor among thieves, from the looks of it, for when Major Hahn's Raptor arrives above the forested clearing at the southernmost edge of the Jharkand Basin at eighteen hundred hours on the dot, no RPGs soar out of the treeline to greet her. Only the fluttering wings of a congress of ravens announces her arrival — specks of black against the dimming night sky, splatters from the brush of some macabre Pointillist mind. A whisper of smoke flickers out into the woods as the Raptor roars in for landing, blown backwards by blasts of compressed air, but the fire from whence it came does not go out. And so it is that when the commander of Cerberus' Air Wing steps out onto soft and yielding soil, a hearth is there to greet her: a hearth and Melpomene alone, her silhouette tall and severe against the open flap of her tent.

"Keep all systems green and ready to jump off on my mark," Cidra requests of the ECO she's brought along on this jaunt as she exits the Raptor. But, true to her word, she's brought no Marine escort with her. And out she does step, in her flight gear, doffing her helmet as she exits the Raptor. Former sunburn turned to something almost resembling a tan after these weeks on Sagittaron, though she's still too fair to have ever come from this climate natively. Drawn up to her full height herself, and she's not a small woman. "You are the one they call…Melpomene?" Blue eyes fix on the severe creature. In that weighing way Cidra's eyes have of fixing on things. Features largely inscrutable, save being very curious.

There's no answer at first, or at least none comprehensible to those untrained in the native tongue. Instead, the dark-haired woman steps out beyond the threshold of her tent, muttering quiet invocations while between long fingers she scoops up a handful of dirt. Soft soil is clutched in her callused hands before she throws it into the air, and then, only then, come words Cidra will know: "By Athena the Grey Lady, by Athena Xe'nia, I bid you welcome." Her voice is smoky and guttural, devoid of ladylike smoothness but compelling all the same. "By Zeus the God of Gods, by Zeus Xenios, I bid you welcome. No harm be coming to you in this my house tonight."

"You invoke the Wise Lady?" Not the 'Grey Lady' from Cidra, though the invocation only heightens her curiosity. Even among the cults there are different strains. And different aspects worshipped moreso than others among some of those strains. Though it does relax her manner, ever so slightly. "In Her shield I shall trust. I thank you for your hospitality." It's sincere. Inclination of her head and slight dip of her shoulders, in something resembling a bow. And into the little tent she goes.

"Safe be he who enters these doors," Melpomene intones with some degree of finality; then, she's following Cidra inside. Dirt-covered hands draw the tent flap downwards, buttoning it up behind her with practiced ease. The tent itself speaks to an ascetic's taste: it's completely unfurnished save for the bedroll and cookstove rolled up at its far end, and in lieu of carpets two maps of Sagittaron have been spread. There aren't any chairs in sight — and just as well, for the tall woman prefers to sit cross-legged on the floor, palms facing upward as she regards the Colonial officer with just a flicker of curiosity.

Cidra sits in kind, long legs fold cross-legged under her as she takes a spot across from Melpomene on the floor. Her flight helmet is set carefully down next to her. Posture straight. "I am Cidra Hahn of the Battlestar Cerberus. But. This you should know already. So. It is as I said it would be, is it not? Me and my people have vacated your basin and no longer trespass upon it. We received your message that your forces would not longer seek violence against us." There's an unspoken question there of how strong the words of that message hold.

"Greetings, Cidra Hahn of the Battlestar Cerberus." Her proud head dips ever so slightly as she holds the other woman's gaze. "I be called Melpomene, but named I be Asiye Ourai, daughter of Phoinix. And yes, Cidra Hahn. This armistice be holding." As evinced by the fact that no further suicide bombers have attacked the Colonial camp. "You be not needing to come here to know this." Her left index finger flicks a spot of dirt from her right palm.

"I did want to look you in the eye and hear you say it, perhaps," Cidra says. And so she does. Endeavor to look Melpomene in the eye, that is. A pause and she goes on, half-introspectively. "I was born Cidra Nevarine, daughter of Agatha, of Shinkirsei in the low valleys of Dryope province. Gemenon. Among my pilots I am called Toast. Strange, the names we acquire. Whether we choose them for ourselves or not." Another pause. "Melpomene. Muse of Tragedy, I am told is its meaning. I thank you for meeting me in good faith this day. And for your agreement upon an armistice. I am…curious as to why you agreed to such, however."

It's not hard to look Melpomene in the eye, seeing as the darker of these two lionesses hasn't ever looked away since the Colonial pilot entered. "Toast," she repeats, though it seems the familiarity unnerves her. "I do not be understanding this name. Do you be understanding mine?" The taller woman taps her fingers against the ground while her other hand rises in a gesture of warding. It's the same that's taught to all Gemenese children and yet it's somehow different. "Melpomene be divine. I be mortal." There's a slight pause as her fingers twirl against the green mesh of her tent's thin floor. "The priests be calling this a special word, I think. Hubris." A thin smile. "So, Cidra Hahn, know that Rhadamanthos be already naming me damned on his rolls and his tablets. Let hubris be the only sin of Asiye Ourai. Let oathbreaker not be added to the lists."

"I understand not so well as I would like to think I do, I suspect. If you take my meaning," is Cidra's reply, as to Melpomene's name, eyes following the gesture. Both marveling a little at the familiarity of it and squinting at the differences. "One of your countrymen, one of my pilots, said you were…one of the nine wives of Kronos. That such was how you came by it." Another pause. "We shall not linger long upon your world. This land is dying. You must have seen that. We returned to save what could be saved. We have no quarrel with you and yours any longer."

"Krotos." The correction is acknowledged and repeated, abashed. Cidra does not try the name again. "All right, then." She does not touch the death vs. rebirth part. Agree to disagree, indeed. "None shall take you by force from this place. But not all your countrymen may feel such as this. We ask only that they are given the free choice to come with us. Or not. That is our only mission here. You must have seen the Cylons while they held this world. I cannot believe they go into the ether so easily as it might appear they have."

Harsh laughter sets Melpomene's face alight, as behind her the makeshift hearth blazes with warmth that doesn't find its way through the tent's entrance flaps. The chilly Sagittaron night descends in the meantime, casting its shadow over the maps on the ground. "Then we shall be fighting them, too, like we did you." Spoken with a fanatic's absolute conviction — and something more. A touch of wistfulness, perhaps. "There be no place for abominations on this our world, and we at least shall not be stopping until they or we — how is it, you say? 'Shuffle off these mortal coils.' My people do not go cheaply." There's that dark and toothy smile. "This you know."

"This we know." Cidra echoes soft. A mixture of understanding and an edge of unease in that understanding. Perhaps it's the use of the term 'abominations,' or the fanatic's air with which it's spoken. Her flight suit gives her some protection from the night's chill, so she at least manages not to shiver. Not outwardly. This, though, raises some other questions to her mind. "What were your encounters with them like? The toasters. The abominations. Was it only war they sought or…something else? We have seen…facilities they built. But we cannot rightly make out what horrors they were doing within them. They have removed themselves most utterly from this planet, such as we can see."

"Processed." Melpomene spits out the word. "They came to us under the white flag of truce. Simulacra. Mockeries of what the gods be created." It seems she's spent more time trying to figure out the vocabulary of Colonial Standard than the syntactical rules of the same. "Some be seduced. We found them, later, in one of these — what did you say? Facilities." And there, that sign of rejection: palm diagonal to the ground, hand thrusting downwards. "Strained bodies. Distilling the essence of Man. Fuel for their creations." Dull horror is writ in her dark, hollow eyes. "I am not wishing to speak of this more, Cidra Hahn."

"Fuel for their creations…" Cidra does shudder now. Murmuring something under her breath in a language definitely not Standard. Like many of her lapses into Old Gemenese, it sounds both a prayer and a curse. She speaks on it no more. "And then they just…left? That does not strike you as most fearful strange…?" But she shakes her head. Whether pursuing that line of conversation will yield anything, she moves on from it. "Fine, then. In their going, though, did they leave any signs of *where* they moved on to, from this world?"

"No." Easy enough. Melpomene rocks forward so her soles of her feet press against the floor of the tent, considering her maps in what little light remains. "To others of the Twelve, maybe. Not here. And we do not be chasing them." Whatever that means. "The answers you will find with the gods, not with me."

"The gods speak to me little these days, and rarely in ways I understand until it is too late," Cidra mutters. More to herself than Melpomene. She clears her throat. Eyes going to those maps, then back to the woman. "I do not know how many remain on this world. I would guess you know better than I. If you see those we do not…I would ask you to tell them they have a choice, at least, and if they wish to go with us peacefully we shall find a place for them. Please."

Melpomene considers this in silence, and for a moment it seems as if she's content to convey only what the crackling of the fire can say. Her eyes drift closed — and then: "The ones who leave, Cidra Hahn. They go. What next?"

"We go on. To see what remains of the other Twelve. And…we remain," Cidra replies. "Not good, perhaps. Perhaps nothing left is good. But…we remain. And that is better than nothing."

"Mmmmmm." It's a long, slow sound — almost sensual, if Melpomene were a woman capable of that sort of thing. "And this, Cidra Hahn: this be why you will lose. For you know nothing higher than life — but life and to live? These, they be not the same."

"I have…I have my duty. You live here now, Asiye Ourai?" Cidra retorts, with more offense in her tone than she likely meant to show. "What is it you *live* for?"

"But you already know, Cidra Hahn," she murmurs, casting her gaze up to the heavens. On the way, her flashing eyes catch the other woman's as, for the first time, she smiles — a small, sad smile, one that belongs to the woman called Asiye Ourai and not the avatar called Melpomene. "To place an Archer amongst the stars."

Cidra holds the other woman's eyes, though there is no smile in return. Blue eyes break from hers to look skyward as well. Then back to the woman herself. "I hope you manage it," she says, soft. "Gods' mercies upon you." It has the sound of a traditional parting. The latter bit of this conversation has uneased her, moreso than the talk of even the Cylons before. She uncoils her long legs and stands, picking up her helmet and taking a step backward. "I have…I should be getting back. I have…much to do. I do thank you for speaking with me."

There's a long, formal bow of that regal head as the woman pushes herself up as well, her posture as straight as Cidra's — if not more so. Then, Melpomene — Asiye? — undoes the opening to her tent, revealing a fire whose embers fade in the encroaching night. "May the gods sing wherever you be, Cidra Hahn."

And like a statue of worked marble she'll stand before the flame while her men and women emerge from the woods like shadows turned to flesh. A show of strength, maybe, or a guard of honor — as the fire crackles, burns, and dies.

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