PHD #316: Whipping Boy
Whipping Boy
Summary: Colonel Alke Riederer meets plenty of gawkers (and a few kindred spirits) in the chapel.
Date: 08 2042 AE
Related Logs: Takes place shortly before Favor for Favor.
Cidra Mathers Lunair Karthasi Cilusia Stavrian Croke Sholty Riederer 
Chapel — Deck 9 — Battlestar Cerberus
The hatchway opens into a dimly lit corridor, stark grey walls now and again painted with some mural appropriate to the religious season, stretching from floor to ceiling and then sloping down away from the ceiling in two triangular forms that bracket off the tiered seating areas to either side. Straight ahead, in the center of an open space, stands a simple rectangular altar, the emblems of the Lords thereupon arrayed to receive sacrifice in the tall room when the altar isn't decked for some more specific use. Hestia, who is not vouchsafed her own emblem on the altar, is etched in relief on one side of the altar itself, shown tending the hearth in her usual fashion.
In the wall behind the open area are three evenly spaced hatchways which can only be opened and closed from the inside. The small cubicles behind each hatchway are each furnished with a small altar against the back wall, upon which sometimes the dark shape of a sacred object can be discerned even from the tiered seating for visiting on the sacral days. The hatches can be closed to block out profane eyes from rites they were not meant to see. The walls between each little cubicle can be retracted to create a larger space for more well-attended mysteries.
Post-Holocaust Day: #316

Just three worshippers seek solace in the gods this night, eight days and two thousand forty-two years after Man emerged from the shadow of Kobol to build worlds anew. By the altar stands a pair of Marines — Sholty and Croke — burning tapers for the lives of their comrades missing on Tauron, going through the words of ritual with awkwardness born of unfamiliarity. It's only with the assistance of a shaven temple acolyte that they know how to complete their offerings, and its her voice more than theirs that carries in this dim and holy room.

Sitting a few benches back, however, is one on far better terms with the language of the Lords. Colonel Alke Riederer maintains a quiet, respectful presence. She's dressed as she usually is whenever she visits the battlestar, though tonight her impeccably clean blues are going to need a washing from the thick, perfumed smoke carried her way by the air re-circulator humming almost imperceptibly above her. A small figurine held between her callused hands serves as the recipient of her silent appeal, its wooden body worn but gleaming from decades of use.

There are some sects that believe you should remove head coverings when entering a holy place, and others still that believe it is a sign of respect to cover your head in the presence of the gods. Mathers must fall into the former category, for when he ducks through the hatch, he's removing a worn ball cap from his neat clip of hair. The beloved bill gets cupped in the curve of his hand, as he steps down the aisle, choosing to slip into the row just in front of Riederer. He murmurs a quiet, "Sir." As he takes up a seat and looks on to the two marines offering their awkward rituals.

Cidra slips into the chapel. In her off duties, in a tank top that reveals the copious tattoos that cover her arms and shoulder blades. All symbols to the goddess Athena, if one knows about such things. Prayer beads, plain olive wood saved for a single, crudely carved wooden owl charm strung along them, twined around her right wrist. Wordlessly she comes to sit, not far from Mathers and Riederer. "Colonel. Captain." That is all she says for the moment, eyes also on the Marines as she unlaces her beads to wind them more loosely around her fingers.

Let's face it; the chapel is warm and quiet and visited infrequently en masse. Perfect place to retired to for some mandated R&R when the bearthings get played out, the gym isn't doing it for you, and the galley's off-hours. Cilusia's not too much of a reader anyway. Whatever's going on in the chapel, she's taken to sitting up in the back row, been there a little while now; at least before Sholty and Croke came in for their offerings. Though she doesn't give off that vibe, a number of beaded bracelets and the open scriptures on the bench beside her indicate something more of her upbringing on Scorpia.

It's hard not to worry about those Marines. It really isn't. Lunair arrives quietly, and finally - she has hair, so she removes her headscarf in the chapel. She's in off-duty garb and seems quietly solemn, somewhat worried. It's a quiet place to come offer a small prayer for them and hope the search party returns too. She pauses, noticing the others here. "Sirs." A deep breath. Hey… are those beads? Must be a new thing for her.

Even those skilled in reading lips might have a difficult time deciphering what Areion's XO now mouths to herself as she completes her silent prayer: Hail to you, Artemis Khryselaktos, Elaphebolos, Iokheaira, daughter of Leto whose children reign supreme among the immortals in both thought and deed. Hail to you, daughter of Zeus, whom I remember first and last. Yet she navigates those tongue-twisting epithets with impressive skill before — at last — she leans back against the hard back of her bench, closed eyes opening. "Stand easy," the woman offers gently, doing her best to modulate her harsh voice in recognition of her surroundings.

In the meantime, the mismatched pair up there by the altar completes their offering at last. "Thanks — uh, dude," says Sholty, his usual eagerness dimmed by something akin to fear. "C'mon, Toad, PT in five."

"She's called Sister, you — uh — stupid person." Croke can't come up with a setting-appropriate diss. But as they leave the hatch, saluting those who bear saluting, the crew-cut corpsman might be heard whispering something immensely inappropriate about women with bald heads.

The misfortune involved in having a CMES Department head of the Academic variety is that she is wont to believe more in the efficiacy of research than prayer, and, as such, when rites aren't needing to be performed the chapel is more often staffed with altar attendants than the woman herself; the fact that her trusty Lieutenant, of a more popularist religious tack, has already queued up for the ferry, doesn't help matters much at all. And yet, when the hour comes for Theoxeny to begin, here comes Sister Karthasi with a silver patera in one hand and a clay one in the other, bussing them with a particular ease until such time as she finds herself nearly colliding with the two beating their retreat from the Chapel, lifting the sacred vessels suddenly and worming to the side to endeavor to keep from dropping anything. "Gracious," she comments, ever so mild.

"I bet she is," says Croke without thinking, but then furious Sholty is yanking him out of the priestess' way with a very loud apology.

There's a ghost of a smile from Mathers offered to Cidra as she slips in, and her own rank gets bandied back to her in the form of greeting. He's in off-duty tanks as well, though contrary to Cidra, his bicep is covered by a very graphic display of the Erinyes. My what epic illustrations are wasted by the cover of uniforms. His booted foot hitch up by the bench in front of him one by one, causing his knees to tent and become ledges for his elbows to rest on. Fingers twine together, becoming one collective fist that he presses to his lips. If any prayers are said, they are so private that he shields his mouth from view.

blink. Lunair seems surprised. She watches though, her expression polite and reserved. She seems out of place here. There's a blink at Croke and Sholty for a moment, but she says nothing for a moment. Only a faint, unamused frown. She takes a deep breath and settles in to listen, a quiet, short presence. Ahem. She smiles politely at Karthasi, but it's more a reflex than happiness. "Hello Sister." She offers quietly.

The tall woman uncoils with sinuous grace, bowing twice toward the altar before moving toward the sacrificial basin. From her pocket she produces a small pocketknife whose tip is crusted with something that's almost surely blood — from her left wrist, it seems, which she holds over a diorite bowl whose sides are now stained with twelve drops of it. Two more bows and then Riederer backs away, trading knife for the stretchy gauze practiced hands now tie over her wound.

Artemis, Apollo, Poseidon…they're so mainstream. Cilusia was brought up with other sensibilities; some would dispute that her patron even counts. Hephaestus, lame, crafter, blacksmith, that's the one who Cilusia was raised on. Maybe that's what the little anvil she keeps pressed into her hands is all about.

Cidra's fingers begin to work her beads, rhythm practiced, the olive wood whispering in soft whisks as it brushes bead-against-bead. Thumb passing over to caress the little owl each time it winds around. The rhythm is a practiced one, and one she does without even having to think of it. Head bowed respectfully at the sight of Greje, another nod to Lunair. Her own prayers are murmured soft, and in a language that is decidedly not Colonial Standard. Gemenese, if one knows about such things. She watches Riederer. Mildly. Somberly. Just watching.

There's a little grimace evident around Mathers' eyes as Riederer practices blood-letting, his eyes then dropping from the sight of the altar to the ground visible between his knees. Knuckles get pressed into his forehead, and now his prayers are directed at the floor for the time being while he makes quick and tidy work out of his verbal tithe to whatever patron god or goddess he's chosen to worship.

As she turns toward the hatch, Alke's grey eyes meet Cidra's darker ones with a queen's detachment, acknowledging not in the least the odd looks she's sure she's receiving. "Major." The unspoken question being, of course: 'Got something to say?' Round and round goes that figurine in her hands, cypress colored black where it's touched by her blood-reddened fingertips.

Having juggled the paired paterae back into a semblance of a normal stance, Greje gives the pair a permissive, forgiving smile. "Of course," she replies, though her own voice doesn't carry much further than the pair of them. Looking to make certain that the threshold is clear, with a clever gesture she holds the flat-rimmed bowls out to her sides and flips the detachable CMES hood of her uniform up overhead, essentially blinkering herself so that all she can see ahead is the path to the altar— it wards off the possibility of poor omens ruining the Theoxeny. "Xenoi amen xenoi amen," she sings gently, the hood functioning to amplify the almost joyous-tuned chant, "Xenoi amen aperoi."

There's a faint surprise at the blood letting. But it is only there for a moment. She smiles politely and nods at Cidra. There's obviously fondness and respect there. She is quiet though. Perhaps unsure who to ask. A sign of the irreligious wealthy. Tragic, but there's at least respect and curiousity. She seems curious about the other Marine about, but says nothing. Whomever will listen for now then. Whomever will listen, please give those lost back. Or at least let them have gone quickly. She doesn't seem miffed as Greje doesn't respond to her. Simple acceptance. She's busy likely. Lunair takes a deep breath to listen then.

Cidra seems to take the blood-letting as a matter of course. No surprise from her, though it does make her look more closely at the Areion XO. "You are a devotee to Artemis?" The question asked softly.

It's with a somber nod that Riederer angles away from the hatch, slipping to sit next to Cidra and the Marines' XO. Perhaps Karthasi's mesmerizing chant has calmed the raging beast; perhaps she's just decided to allot herself a bit more 'Me-time' before returning to the daily grind. "No light thing is it to forget her," she murmurs, "for her supple bow pierces the hearts of wild beasts with grievous shafts."

The chatter between the CAG and Areion XO gets Cilusia to lift an eye in their direction. A sssssh is about to roll off her lips but then, it's never a good idea to sush officers who outrank you by that much. That's always good for a day or five in the brig. Rather, her attention is focused back on the sister and the chant. An observant pair of eyes might see her mouthing along with.

Mathers isn't really disrupted from his prayers, he's said all he's had to say to the powers that be. Hazel eyes lift to the question of the Colonel, perhaps curious as to this little exchange.

"Theoi akhon, theoi akhon, theoi akhon apeiroi," comes the second verse of the Theoxeny hymn, notes cheerful and bright in a Melic key. If she ignores any greetings tossed her way, it's quite likely the purpose of the hood, to keep the priestling shackled to her task, unable to falter from distraction as she sets the silver patera upon the altar and moves to hold the earthen patera in both of her hands. She hasn't even had an opportunity to gawk at the Violent-Eyed Goddess' rites, when on any normal occasion she'd be in the corner taking notes like a researcher in the field.

Alke's a Colonel; she does what she wants. But the look she gets from the curly-haired girl in the corner seems to have made its mark, unlike Mathers' little eye-twitch from before. Only after Karthasi finishes the second verse will she speak again, wincing a little as her wrist settles onto her knee. "My family was Taurian," she murmurs, voice quiet. "They'd moved to Caprica by the time I was born, but they enrolled me in an ecclesiastical school. To make sure I never got too far from my roots, they said." So it's not merely Artemis but the Taurian Artemis to whom her prayers are directed — the same goddess whose lunar light produces madness in the minds of men.

"The Valiant Lady is kindred to Wise Athena," Cidra says with a low nod of all respect, also waiting until Karthasi has finished her verse. Perhaps also cowed by Cilusia's look, though she takes care not to *show* it. "My prayers go to both of them frequently, though it is to the Wise Lady who I hear the call to strongest." A pause when Alke speaks of her family. "I was born of Gemenon. I attended one of the schools run by the Sisters of the Wise Lady when I was thirteen. It stays with you, the teachings of the goddess. Better lessons I have never learned."

Lunair is simply here, quiet. She's at least, polite and listening.

"That's the whole truth, Major, though I can't say I enjoyed myself while I was there." Riederer regards the blood now seeping through that thin layer of gauze with something like satisfaction, though she does apply a second layer to make sure she doesn't ruin her uniform. A faint metallic smell intermingles with the heavy perfume of the two Marines' more traditional offerings, lending a disturbing edge to an otherwise pleasant smell. "You might've heard of the place. The Academy of Parthenos Aidoine — a girls' school on the River Meles? The government tried to shut it down a few times when a journalist — " She delivers that epithet with evident distate. "When a journalist came in to do a piece on 'inhumane cult practices.'" Riederer smiles tightly. "Apparently they got a little uncomfortable when they saw young girls being scourged near the Lady's altar so that it might be doused in our blood."

Mathers' ballcap gets pulled off the crook of his knee, once more held in his hand instead of pulled back on his head. His fingers worry the brim much as the others work their prayer beads. He seems to make a decision and slips to his feet, side-stepping to get out of the row of benches. "S'cuse me sirs." He manuevers past the conversation about flaggelating young girls in favor of the nearest exit.

There's a quiet thoughtful look, and Lunair soon departs too. She nods politely to those here, but there's a deeply worried look on her face as she goes.

"Theoxenoi, theoxenoi, theoxenoi apeiroi," comes the summation of the singing, the two verses woven together into the etymology of the name of the rite. Hymnal etymologies are always fun. Not as fun as discussing arcane cult practices with those who have come here to spread them, but there's work to do, after all. The clay patera is lifted and brought back away from the altar, and brought in the vague direction of People. Greje still can't see very well, but when she comes into the proximity of a pair of hands or a uniform, she offers out the patera, full of little barley-grain cakes, for people to take. "Theoxenoi amen," she murmurs, by way of a blessing, to each.

"Many rituals seem harsh to the uninitiated, Captain," Cidra says soft to departing Mathers. "But do not fear them. There can be clarity in pain." To Riederer, a simple nod. She's heard of it. "The story made the wireless rounds on Gemenon when it broke. Much different, of course. Meddling of the Caprican humanists in free religion." Her tone is kept soft, beads never pausing.

"Evidently, Major," says Alke blandly, "some of your people aren't the biggest fans of 'clarity in pain.' Captain. You there." The latter is directed at Lunair (whose rank she can't divine), but the words are spoken as courteously as usual. She's probably inured to this sort of treatment, open as she is about her peculiar brand of faith. "Believe me, I can see where they're coming from. The rituals sounds weird when I describe them, but — well, it's as they say, right? You can take the girl from the temple but you can't take the temple from the girl. And really, these days I find them … comforting, if I can say that. For I walk with the Huntress' keen-nosed packs, and they hunt through all the house with me." The concluding words of a famous prayer, albeit one that faded in popularity during forty-some years of peace.

a pause. Lunair stops. She tilts her head. "Sir," She replies quietly. "If such rituals are important to the people who perform them, it is not my place to render judgment," She remarks quietly. "The discussion is not why I was going. I'm worried. My family never was very religious, but I try to listen to understand why it is important to people," She offers softly and sincere. "I am not a part of that group, I cannot speak on it or judge it." She remarks softly. "So if it's important to you and things were consentual - I don't believe in forcing things on people - then so be it." She shakes her head. "I was just - worried and figured I would see if anyone would listen to my quiet fretting." She half-smiles sadly. "That's all."

Mathers heavy hand falls gently to Cidra's shoulder with familiarity as he moves to step past, his exit delayed by Alke's words and he turns slightly to offer a lopsided smile to to the Colonel. "Quite the contrary. You have flaying, I have the gym. The pain is different, the clarity is the same. We all worship in different ways, and mine just happens to be done for the day. I prefer my conversation over a cup of joe instead of incense, is all. To each their own."

"I hear you there, Captain. I'm no boxer, but — well, I've had to break up a few rows in my day, and Areion's boys can get pretty rowdy." Riederer's expression softens as she leans forward, elbows resting against her knees. "Maybe we'll knock each other senseless sometime and get closer to the divine." Sure, Alke's a true believer, but at least she's still got a sense of humor. Odd that it comes out in a setting such as this. "As for you, Mister — " She uses the old form of address, one dating back to a more archaic and less PC time. "If you're serious, sit. Over there, if you like." Her bloodied left hand gestures to a nearby bench located a fair bit out of her reach. "Can't stab you accidentally."

Uh. LOL?

"The beauty of religion is that, even if you were to stab accidentally, there's always a higher power to blame," Cilusia contributes to the conversation. Sure, sure, it's a terrible joke and horribly inappropriate but then, there's always some atrocity or genocide or religious war going on somewhere. See also: the Cylons. From across the aisle there as the other talkers, Cilusia slides to the end of a bench and leans out to keep her voice down as much as possible.

Cidra's brows arch at Cilusia. As if unsure whether to find humor in the jest or not. To Mathers and Riederer she merely notes quietly, "I am no boxer either. Athena's skill is in strategy, not brute force. Or so I claim as my excuse." To Lunair, she nods deep. "The gods here all voices, Raine, if one seeks to speak to them."

A pause. Lunair blinks, and smiles politely at Mathers. "I'm afraid I haven't met either of you," She shakes her head. "I am Lieutenant Junior Grade Raine Lunair-Scaurus. That's a mouthful. Most of the time it's 'Where's my coffee?' 'JiG!' or 'purple eyes'," She's not above a joke at her own expense. "Lunair is fine too," Her husband and her felt having two of the same last name at the same rannk would be hazardous. She's polite at least, and nods. She'll sit then, at the gestured bench. She smiles at Cidra. "I'm hardly a boxer - most people don't bend over to box." A jab at her height. "Thank you."

"Anytime you want to get elysian, Colonel, you just look me up." Mathers even has the audacity to wink. "Same goes for you, Major." Fingers squeeze Cidra's shoulder and then he's scaling towards the hatch. Maybe so he can curse without committing something hubristic. Someone else'll have to fill Lunair in as to who that tall dark and handsome man is.

"Lieutenant. I'm Colonel Riederer." No first name. "And as for you — " Alke's steady gaze turns to Cilusia. "I've heard that argument before." It doesn't seem she's taking Cilusia's comment as a joke. "Religion is the opiate of the masses, the refuge of the weak. I'm not sure I agree." Which is her way of saying 'That seems flat-out wrong.' "If you read the Scrolls," she continues, "you'll find agency doesn't just flow one way. If it did, why would Leto's offspring kill the seven sons and seven daughters of haughty Queen Niobe? If you buy that line, then her hubris came about because the Fates made it so, and nothing we do is of any import. But that, I think, is not the lesson we're meant to take. The parable warns us of the consequences of what we do. It's not proof of our clockwork lives." And after her disquisition the normally imperious XO actually has the courtesy to look a little abashed. "Sorry. I like this stuff."

"Well, for someone who regards religion as the opiate of the masses, you sure seem willing to inflict the most grievous type of high upon yourself in pursuit of that refuge…Sir." Cilusia looks at the XO as she stands up, realizing there's not much of a height difference there. "I was always taught that religion should be the guide of what we do…not just the consequences of those actions. Retroactive religion seems…secular. Since you did that, this is what you got." And with that, Cilusia takes the few things she brought with her and makes for the hatch.

Karthasi ducks back out of the storage unit to the left of the long slant-walled vestibule, having put away the paterae used in the theoxeny and having pushed down the blinding hood off of her head, letting it drape down the back of her uniform in a series of loose pleats, her suddenly augmented ability to notice… well… anything… making her look a little bit like a prairie dog as she notes the sound of someone putting theological inqueries to someone else in the chapel. It puts her in mind of her seminary days. Oh, long nights, getting trashed and talking about infinity. "You're no inconvenience," she pipes up mildly, "Theological discussion is welcome— here—" and Cilusia is making her way off. "Though I would request general civility." Again, far too meekly voiced to be interpreted as an accusation.

The gaze Cidra directs toward departing Cilusia is one of prim disapproval. Hands twining around her beads. "Most odd…" she murmurs. A small shrug to Riederer. "Not all understand commitment to the Faiths. No offense was meant, I am sure."

Maybe Alke should have said 'That seems flat-out wrong' after all. "Either that one wasn't listening or chose to be purposefully dense." A hint of her usual steel creeps into Riederer's voice. Neither of those outcomes is acceptable. She tries to be civil; really she does — but when you've been tasked with shepherding men and women like those aboard Areion for as long as she has, she can't help the irritation that comes when she's misunderstood. "But. Sorry, Sister. Yes."

"Pleased to meet you sir," Lunair replies quietly. "I may not experience it much, but - I suppose it's been around far longer than any secular view." Which says something for it, right? She quirks her brows and smiles at the abashed Colonel. "That's okay. This would be the place to do that," She nods. "And it makes you happy, yeah?" A shrug. She doesn't seem to mind at all. She is quiet, for her part then.

"Happy isn't the word I'd use. Comfort, maybe." As evinced by the fact that she already used that word once. "Even that's a stretch. It's been a long time since I've heard the Goddess or her hounds — and sometimes I'm not sure I ever did. But I still give tribute unto Artemis Lykeie all the same." Riederer's smooth fingernails toy restlessly with the edge of her bandage, under which her blood has already clotted, her eyes closing as she allows herself a sad little smile. "And sometimes — when I let myself drift — well." But what happens then she will keep to herself.

The hatch opens, letting in a sliver of outside light and a shadow over the threshold before shutting again. Stavrian is in his field gear, jacket undone so as not to confuse him with someone on duty for these few minutes, prayer beads wrapped around his wrist and dangling next to his left leg. The dusky Sagittarian stays territorially close to the hatch for a long beat, eyes flickering from the back of one head to another, before he starts deeper into the back of the place.

Karthasi clears her throat, as if to put a period at the end of the bit of awkwardness concerning Cilusia's departure. "In. Any case," she is slow to start up again, "The notion that there exists a dichotomy between the will of the Fates and our personal will as human beings is an entirely modern one, having been intrduced into Theological discussions only within the last several centuries. Most attempts to read the actual scriptures in light of this dichotomy, therefore, suffer from a fatal stroke of anachronism," she points out. And then, luckily for all, is cut off from going into full lecture mode by Riederer's mention of the tribute, the wheels in her mind turning at about a mile a minute as she eyes the bandages first with alarm and then with something like the glee in a child's eyes on seeing Ouranos' bootlaces undone in the temple grounds.

Lunair pauses. She tilts her head. A smile. "That's kind of what is meant. Some people enjoy a lively theology discussion," She shrugs. "It's none of my business - it's intensely personal to some people. As it should be." She pauses, noticing Stavrian and nods in greeting. She takes a deep breath. "Really?" Blink.

Riederer doesn't know the chapel's latest worshipper, but that doesn't stop her from offering him a polite nod nonetheless. No salute, though. Judging from the colonel's pins on her uniform, it's fair to say that the number of people she has to salute can be counted on two fingers. "Anachronism, Sister?" she repeats, shaking her head. "I can't say. Maybe. I'm not a real scholar, just a believer. I do what my mother has always done, and what my mother's mother has always done, and so on. No other reason." Well, that's not strictly true. Neither of those women took an oath of chastity, after all, but Alke doesn't concern herself with that niggling detail. "There's sense in tradition, I think. Good sense."

Chapel smells like brass and estrogen. Stavrian stops walking as Lunair and Riderer look at him, the former getting a vague upwards nod back. The latter, just his eyes for a dragging moment or two, a guardedly cautious assessment that ends with a subtle bow of his head. Deference but no salute, not in here. Gathering his prayer beads into one hand, he settles onto a bench — right on the edge as the sitting only serves to rest legs while he silently digs through a pocket for something or other.

"Of course there is," Greje stops herself short of actually bouncing forward onto the balls of her feet. "Many fine ritual and cultic strains have only been passed down orally and by lineage transmission. When I was working on my dissertation I spent quite a lot of time on Tauron endeavoring to make contact with some of her heretical cults." She uses 'heretical' in the strict Academic sense of not belonging to Delphic canon, there's no negative connotation to the word in her voice. Quite to the contrary— although as nauseatingly prejudiced as those who support a strict Delphic canon can be, there's something almost as bad about those Caprican Academics who persist on coming around and watching one perform rites as if one were some manner of rare mountain ape engaging in never-before-witnessed courtship behavior. Of course, they always have the common courtesy to change your name when they publish articles on you. For what that's worth.

Cidra has become absorbed in her own thoughts, gaze on the olive wood beads in her hand, thumb idly passing over the little wooden owl charm upon them as she works them with that soft, rhythmic brushing sound. Perhaps she is turning Riederer and Karthasi's words over in her mind. Or perhaps her thoughts have taken a path of their. Eyes do flit up as Stavrian enters. Smallest of nods to the medic.

"Did you, Sister." It's not the word 'heretical' that causes Alke's eyes to narrow ever so slightly. The real reason she doesn't say, but it might be related to how she busies herself pulling the cuffs of her duty blues over her wounded left wrist to hide the gauze from view. This rare mountain ape is done with courting.

Lunair is quiet. "I wonder how the word heretical got started," She just considers softly. She nods at Stavrian, moving over to make room if he wished to sit nearby. Lunair is not a slender Marine, alas. But she's a good audience, if notthing else.

Stavrian finds what he needed in his pocket, a slip of paper slightly crumpled but folded with careful precision. A black piece of cloth is wrapped around it, tied meticulously. He stands up again, keeping bootsteps silent as he heads for the altar. The discussion goes uninterrupted, the Sagittarian a poor excuse for a scholar, but he does slow just long enough to murmur to Cidra under his breath. "Gods bless, Major."

Cidra speaks not on the subject of heretics or heresy, though her expression grows decidedly arch. The Gemenese woman probably has very firm ideas about such things. They are not voiced, but Karthasi is regarded with upturned brows and a soft "Ah" escapes her. "Gods favors up you. To where do you direct your prayers tonight, Lieutenant Stavrian?"

It's about now that Riederer stands, perhaps sensing her internal clock telling her that the half an hour she's alloted for devotionals has passed. She's done what she came to do, anyway, and she only has so much time in her schedule. "Gods watch over you all," she says by way of farewell — and then, with one final bow toward the altar, Areion's XO heads for the hatch, the metallic tang of blood following her as she goes.

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