AWD #168: Afterimage
Afterimage
Summary: Phin seeks out Knox to ask about the ghosts of Cylons departed.
Date: 23/06/2013 (OOC Date)
Related Logs: What You Want To Be
Knox Phin 
Some Private-ish Office Space — Battlestar Orion
Tables, maps, stuff.
AWD #168

There's a lot of work to be done and the last place Knox probably wants to be is anywhere near the skinjob prisoner. There are recon shots of Picon spread out on the table in front of him as well as various reports on stocks and statuses of vehicles within the Marine Motor Pool. He's leaned forward on his elbows, looking it over with narrowed eyes.

Phin is off duty, taking what downtime he can while it's still available. Between Picon prep and necessary reconnaissance, it's not much. But he's carved out a bit today, and gone in search of Sergeant Knox. "Umm. Excuse me. Sergeant?" He's hesitant to interrupt the Marine. Or maybe looking for an excuse not to.

Coop looks up from his layout here on the table and stares at the doorway a moment. Apparently even skinjobs can feel and show strain. "El-tee," he greets. "Congrats on the promotion, sir." He rises off the table a little. "What can I do for you?"

"Oh. Yeah. Thanks." Phin himself sounds neutral, and a little bemused, on the subject. "I'm still kind of getting used to it, I guess. Anyway, if you're busy, I can come back later." Still almost asking for a dismissal. "I was thinking about what you mentioned in that meeting, with the Lieutenant Colonel and everyone."

Coop smirks. "Always takes some getting used to with promotions, sir. Don't sweat it, though. Just stick with it, trust your people to follow their training, and herd the cats when you have to. Don't think there's much difference between management in our positions, except… well, you all have college degrees. Most of my guys have diplomas in crayon." He gives a much-needed laugh. "Nah, you're fine. Just tossing around an idea about Picon. What's on your mind, sir?"

Phin lets out a soft "Heh." "I'm not sure what the degrees are worth in the job sometimes. It's not a lot different than being a rifleman, and the end of it. At least, the Viper side of it. Just, more complicated guns." Shrug. "I guess I was just wondering, what is was you were talking about there. Or talking around, I guess. About the gods, about Ceres, about…I don't know."

Coop chuckles. "Would you trust one of my guys with eight months flight training and keys to a bird?" The Sergeant chuckles. "Hell, I wouldn't loan half these guys my truck for a beer run." Did he ever have a truck? The guy certainly looks and behaves human sometimes. The last gets a different kind of smile from him, though, and he leans a hip into the table, crossing his arms. "Yeah. That. You mean what Ceres and I experienced with the Sister?" He glances down and dips his head before speaking once more. "My model and Ceres' are both extremely religious as fundamental tenets of how we are sent to function. The two of us decided to have a couple drinks and discuss it all. She had some Chamalla. About fifteen minutes into the discussion she starts seeing things. Apparently she saw Apollo and Artemis behind Ceres and I, and the rest of the Gods — sans Zeus — were sitting there to watch the debate. Said Aphrodite touched her. One of them, I think it was Ares, showed her something. She never did tell me what that was. Only that it scared the living hell out of her, sir. I don't mind saying that whatever she saw? I believe she really thinks she saw it. Can't speak to whether or not its true, though, sir. Not my place. I talked to her about it again a couple days ago and she still gets pale with it. She's convinced it was real, el-tee."

"If they scored well enough on the quals to keep the thing in the air," Phin replies. "Maybe that's what it'll come to, eventually. It's not like peace time. Not saying it's all we do but…lot of it's just about throwing bodies up there who can shoot enough Raiders down, until the Raptors or the battlestar or whoever achieves their objectives. It's just point defense with a little more physics. Killing, and hoping not to be killed." He quiets as Knox starts talking about his Model, though, and Cylon religion, and the priestess' vision. It brings a frown to his face. A deep one, though it's thoughtful around the edges as well. "Drugs make you see, and feel, a lot of things. Doesn't make it real." Though he doesn't sound as sure of that as he'd like to be. "The Cylons believe in the gods?"

Coop doesn't really comment too heavily on the idea of Marines in Vipers. "Maybe one day when its not every pilot and boot on the line. Maybe." He smirks and then looks down. Fingers drums across his bicep while he listens, but his mind still has its own thoughts. "Drugs make you do a lot of things, sir. I'll give you that. In my last unit, we had a lot of guys who saw combat. Bad dreams, stress when they get home. Our chaplain would take the guys out and let them smoke and talk things over. I've heard a lot of stuff in the last few years. Nobody ever saw the Gods, though. I'm not sure about that experience." He wets his lips and looks up. "Ehhh. Some skinjobs are religious, yeah. Other's, nah. Its about as divisive as it is among humanity. The primary wedge between the two is that the skinjobs hold to a monotheistic viewpoint. Many consider the idea of polytheism to be heretical. Others try to incorporate it. Its a debated issue. Individuals like myself develop our own opinions over time, drifting from the model."

Phin's frown deepens at mention of dreams, and monotheism. A lot of frowning in general. "One god?" He shakes his head at the notion. "What do you believe?" A pause and he asks, "What did she believe? Redux, I mean."

"Yessir. One God." Coop is serious, but this is informational for him. Its not an attempt to argue a point. "I believe that its neither possible nor impossible to prove the existence of the Gods, or a God. I believe that each person is their own and proof is relative, thus the burden is always impossible to meet for some. For others, proof is everywhere." He smirks. "I think its more important that we all believe in each other and keep the faith rather than worry about whether or not the other is right about the Gods. If they're real, it won't matter, in my opinion. All we can do is try to be the best people we can to each other and fight the good fight." Coop lets off a long sigh. "Ceres was… sort of a mono. We'd discussed it at length but her mind was starting to come around that maybe she wasn't right. Maybe there was something else. She had ideas she never got to explore with you all, which is a shame. I think its a path everyone she explore at some point."

"But how is that even supposed to work?" Phin asks. Wanting sensible answers. About matters of faith. "The gods are supposed to be…everything. Love, war, life, death, madness, inspiration…all of it. How can one thing be all that?" As for Ceres. "She talked to me about her model once. About what she was…made to be, I guess. She said her line's whole purpose was to kill, and be willing to die in the killing of others."

Coop shrugs. "One being who understands all of it. One being that everyone prays to. Its a singular idea of beauty, supposedly. I abandoned the idea when it because clear to me that if this God were real, he was allowing this wholesale slaughter to proceed. A God that is kind and beneficent and loves us does not turn innocent children to ash." Given his model's supposed dedication to a God, fighting to warn the fleet must have been something of a major sin to his people. "Mm. Yeah, her model was designed to be terminal. They're supposed to kill the hardest targets. Even if it means never downloading back to our own people. Final death is as real a concept for you as it is for us, though more potent for us. We could theroetically live forever. To actually die means we have strayed too far physically. What about religiously? Its a philosophical road to travel, sir."

"Not all the gods are kind," Phin says. "I was raised, sort of, by the priests of Ares. From the time I was fourteen until I was done going through one of their schools. They teach us he glories in war. Glories in slaughter, though the priests don't like to put it like that. I've never really figured, if the gods are real, that they're all about what's good. They wouldn't have made humans like they are, if that was true." Which seems to put him in mind of something, and he raises his blue eyes to regard Knox quizzically. "Do you know how you were made, Sergeant? I mean…there's no record of skinjobs from the First Cylon War."

Coop nods slowly. "That's just the thing. Your religion allows for it. It allows for the pain to be inflicted so that the Olympic heroes to rise. Those legendary figures that fight for humanity and become elevated? They were likely all based on real people who when they were at the darkest hour of humanity stood tall and refused to quit." He glances around and back to Phin. "Sound familiar, el-tee?" He shrugs. "But the One True God would supposedly allow this to happen out of some sort of kindness or smiting punishment?" Coop shakes his head. "Sir, I held my teammates newborn five months before the bombs fell. What did he ever do to anyone? Or his parents? No… I can't accept that." The other question has him shake his head. "All records of where we came from have been destroyed, probably to protect the integrity of it. To know construction is to know the weaknesses by design."

"Flawed design seems like a pattern," Phin says wryly. "Did you…did you always know what you were? I mean, that you were a Cylon. And not some guy with an actual human life. Redux and I…she told me stuff about her dad, about why she'd become a pilot, about her time in the service before joining the Taskforce. Where did that all come from? At first, after I found out what she was, I figured she'd been lying to me but…" He shakes his head. "I get that she wasn't, now. That she believed that was her, for awhile at least."

Coop nods, but the remark about flawed design actually gets a laugh. "Yeah. I was never asleep. From the time I woke up in the tub until this moment, I'm almost positive. I'm the person I am today because of my experiences with humanity. I have a cover. I could talk about my mom and I have false memories of her, but I never talked about that stuff unless it came up. Too…" Coop sighs. "It just feels too disingenuous. What Ceres told you?" He tilts his head towards Phin. "That was her cover. That was a person who believed she was human. That was a personality developed that once she woke up and stayed there, just drifted away. She could access it, but it was not who she wanted to be. The skinner who woke up was sitting in the background the whole time, watching. She was feeling the pain and the joys. That was real for her."

"She showed me…" Phin leans on the table, letting out a long breath. Pausing a beat, like he's not sure how to articulate what he wants to ask next. "…I don't know. This one time, she asked me to trust her and I took her hand and it was like, I was inside her head. But more than that, I could actually feel how she'd felt. About us. Me, Storm, Janitor. Even her husband and Talkshow and…it was intense. I've never…what the hell was that?"

As Knox listens, the smirk on his face loses its wry quality. "Ahhhh yeah. I didn't know she'd done that. We call that a 'projection'. Petra knows we can do it and has sort of forbidden it, but its one of those things where I do it anyway if I think it will help a person with understanding. I don't know how its done, but it works. If the other person is accepting of it, we can share our dreams and memories and almost anything our mind can create. But I will tell you, very intense emotions are nearly impossible for us to create. I would say that what you felt was her genuine feelings for you all. I've shared them with Maia, Afton, and a few others. I told her that if she ever did it, she needed to make very sure that the other person was not harmed and that they were willing. I hope she didn't violate that.

"I haven't told anyone else she…I sure as hell don't want people knowing I let a Cylon…I don't know. It's not like she was inside my head, but I know how people'd see it." Phin looks a little surprised when Maia's name is mentioned, but it's not something he asks about. He just shakes his head at the last. "No. She didn't. I said she could. I didn't really understand what it was she was going to do but I didn't…I wanted to understand her. And that helped, in part, I think. I just wish…we never really had a chance to talk about it. They took her off to the brig that night and then she…" He swallows. "Lieutenant Colonel Petra said your kind do something called 'boxing.' To skinjobs they don't want to come back. Do you think that's what happened to her? When she died?"

"Yeah," Knox says quietly. "I generally those I've shown to just keep it between us. I don't want people thinking we downloaded some kind of mindvirus or some kind of stupid shit," he chuckles. "And no, we don't carry a mindvirus. But yeah, okay. I remember that. I interrupted and was going to go grab her for a drink. We tried to grab you and bring you with us. Damned shame. Gone a few days later. I'm just glad she got that out to you before then. At least someone knows how she really felt. That's trust, man. It really is. Don't forget that." The last actually has a refreshing look to him. "Ah, no! For awhile it was a fear of mine, actually. Boxing means that they take the individual personality that we've developed? Or the influential memories that could alter the line- they take it and segment it off. Its sort of like just taking it all, putting it in a box, and putting it somewhere in storage. The personality supposedly endures infinity in isolation in an instant. Its a fate worse than death. We all know that is to be our sentence if we are caught or brought back alive. But I know she's out there somewhere. The JAG said she ran into three of her models down on Picon calling themselves the sisters of Ceres. They claimed that she's alive." Coop grins. "And she is slowly and quietly turning her whole line of suicide bombers against the Cylons."

"Maybe," Phin mutters, about what trust Ceres might've had in him. He sounds more sad about it than anything else. What Knox says about her possibly being alive, and what she's doing to her line, makes his eyes widen. He doesn't look pleased about it. "She wanted to be more than…than what they'd made her to be. What her model line was supposed to be. She wanted to change. To have something…I don't know. Some kind of life that wasn't just about killing. That was hers. Her choices."

Coop doesn't look surprised so much as interested. "No kidding. I wasn't sure if she'd just talked to me about that or if that was something she was pushing for and was seeking to grow. I advised her once to go to people she admired and seek their thoughts. I know she thought very highly of you, sir. Very high. When things were rough between you two it ripped her up. But." He holds up a finger. "She never lost faith in you, sir. Never. If Ceres believed in anything at all, it was the wing." The Marine lets off a quiet breath. "But that makes sense. Considering what these other three models have said, that sounds like what is happening. All three have different names. Sir, I'd recommend talking to the JAG about what you'd spoken to her about. Not for charges or citizenship or anything official… just to help get answers. I'm interested, myself, but I think it would be a different sort of discussion with her rather than having me tell you something second hand."

"She did?" Phin sounds more puzzled by that than anything else. "I'm not sure why. Sure as hell are better pilots than me. The wing in general, maybe. I thought…I thought we were alike, in some ways. Maybe we were. But I don't think I was a very good friend to her when she needed it." As for the rest of it, "I'm not sure I want anyone else…it felt kind of private, y'know? I just wanted to understand what she'd shown me, I guess. I've never felt that…connected, I guess. With anyone before. Sometimes with my brother, in flashes, but that's the only thing I can compare it to."

"You're an orphan, sir, right? I think that was part of the scuttle about you being a Cylon? Well, sir, so am I. So is she. Ceres was angry as hell about the lies we'd been told. The false hope. We'd been abandoned by our own people simply for wanting to try and find ourselves. Does that feel similar to you?" He asks, the question genuine. "And no, don't do that, sir. You were everything she needed you to be. Where is the motivation to grow and find yourself if everyone simply just accepts you as this thing that her and I are? I've been there. I've grown. To be hated and feared? It teaches us to appreciate the other viewpoint. For a race so insular, consideration of how you feel is something so human its foreign. You did good, sir. It hurt like hell, but its what she needed. But don't worry about the projection. Keep it to yourself if that's what you want. Its probably safer. Just don't forget it. Hopefully one day we will all see her again and you all can talk about what it meant. If we're all lucky, we'll see each other in the afterlife anyway."

"I'm…no." Phin starts that like he's not sure how to answer it, but the last syllable is defiant of the word. "My mom was still back on Scorpia before the attacks. Might still be there for all I know. I hadn't talked to her in a couple years but…" He shakes his head. "Whatever. It doesn't have anything to do with this." He looks back up at Knox. "I don't think how I acted after I found out what she was taught her anything but that you can't really count on people. Which is pretty important to learn, I guess. So there's that. Anyway. That doesn't matter anymore, either. It's all done. You said…you said you think she's alive. Is there any way we could find her? On Picon?"

"Fair enough. She mentioned that she wasn't sure humanity could be trusted, but I let her think on that. In the end, she still gave you what she did and you treated her with some respect. That's all that matters in the end." Coop hears the questions and shakes his head. "Nah, sir. She's blending in. She probably won't go anywhere near Picon. I ordered her to go dark until she thought the time was right. But she has questions she will have to answer for from her own model. When I depart on my own op, I will have much the same task put out before me. Its a tough business, but we'll see her again. But even if she wanted to get back here? She's got no idea how. Not myself, not her, not Catriona, not Naomi. None of us have this site's location."

"I keep telling myself that, if the Cylons did know where Piraeus was, it'd be gone by now," Phin says. "So it has to still be secure." The rest of it he doesn't touch, except to nod about Ceres. "I hope I see her again some day. If she's alive. Anyway. I should, umm, let you get back to your planning. And stuff. Thanks for…" But he doesn't seem to know quite what he'd be thanking the skinjob for. "…good luck, Sergeant."

Knox nods slowly. "Ceres was the risk. The test for us. If she knew and had given it up? This place would be a nuclear rock." The rest he just watches with that same Stare that Marine Sergeants are famous for. In the end he comes off his lean. "Anytime, el-tee. Just keep the faith. We'll see her again some day. You all can talk it over. Just be prepared for a tearful homecoming. Its gotta be really damend cold out there for her." He gives the man a thumbs up. "Be careful out there, sir," the Marine says as he turns back for his work.

"Or maybe there's some other plan. Some kind of long game." Phin does more shrugging. "But if that's the case we're dead and we just don't know it so…kind of best not to think about it." When Knox says 'keep the faith,' he can't help but laugh. "I'll try. Much as I ever do, I guess. Later." And with that, he turns to go, leaving Knox to his maps.

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