AWD #301: Do Cylons Dream of Electric Sheep?
Do Cylons Dream of Electric Sheep?
Summary: The recently transferred Epiphany tries to get her bearings in the Mess.
Date: 18/04/2016
Related Logs: None
Epiphany Knox 
Mess Hall
The Crew Mess on the battlestar is one of the larger rooms meant for occupation. The room is far longer than it is wide with the classic stainless steel tables that can be seen anywhere else on the ship, standard to all navy ships. Most of the chairs match, their padding on the seats worn down after several years. Towards the rear of the room is the food prep area and serving lines. During the time in between meals the Mess will serve midrats, or 'mid-shift rations', such as sandwiches and drinks. Coffee pots are left to run at all hours to keep people going as needed.
AWD #301

A new transfer onto Orion, Epip probably hasn't ever met one of the skinned models before - except in combat. The Sixes, his model, are relentless and murderous. But there he is, sitting amongst the rest of the crew. There aren't many people in the Mess at this hour, but nobody really seems to pay him much mind. He's in a set of off-uniform cammie pants and the uniform tanktops. There's coffee in front of him and an empty plate that was probably a small sandwich at this hour. There's an open binder in front of him that he seems to be looking over with some boredom, propping his head up with one arm while the other lingers by the coffee mug.

Transfers aren't fun when you're fresh faced. They're less so when you're older. It's harder to fit in amongst the proverbial rank and file. Epiphany found herself not quite ready to jostle for space in a bunk room. She knows what that means. She'll be taking over the space that someone used to occupy. Someone who may have been a wingmate or a friend. It's her first ship posting in this wartime environment, but she knows. She saw it enough on Picon. Thus, it's a woman who holds the unmistakeable look of 'new' that briefly hovers in the entrance to the hall. She doesn't stay long. Not even long enough to raise a fuss from those exiting. It's just enough to be a pause before she rousts herself further in. The woman is in her blues and bearing a duffel; currently in an overhand hold over her shoulder. It's as she passes by the tables that she spots Knox. She'd been told. She'd seen the intel. But to see him in person… Well.

It's only once Arrington realizes that she's staring that she clears her throat and glances away. "Sorry."

Knox looks up when he realizes someone is staring. Not exactly a new occurrence. The guy is clearly a Marine, though. The guy looks over the whole package, blues and bag, and chuckles. The guy looks back down to the book and reaches for the mug. "No reason to apologize, sir." The guy sips from it and lazily looks over the page. "You can sit if you want. I take it you're new. First skinner you've met, Captain?" The guy puts the mug down and glances back up again. Everything about the guy seems quiet. More than just his way of speaking, he has that non-obtrusive air. A being that belies what violence his race has wrought. "You can sit if you like. Talk. I don't have much but coffee and conversation, though. Might want to get your coffee first, though, sir." And eminently polite.

There's a shift to Epiphany's jaw. She's considering. After a moment, the bag is plunked down next to a chair and she tilts her head towards the coffee pot. "I'll be back." No answer to the query as to whether he's the first she's met or not.

It only takes a moment. Coffee — black — is procured and followed shortly thereafter by a sandwich. Both are set down across from Knox and she soon follows; booted foot hooking the chairleg to draw it in after her. It's a practiced movement borne of years of having to sit with full hands. The woman's hair is currently gathered in a neat braid, but a few bits have come loose around her features. She's still holding onto youth, decently, but the age is still there. Easy guess that her current rank wasn't a wartime deal. "You're the first I haven't had to shoot at." Took her a while for her to formulate the answer and it seems she opted for blunt, but not unkind. A hand is proffered. "Epiphany Arrington."

Knox looks to the bag plunked and just smiles a little to himself. A hint of amusement, a little something else. He flips a page in the binder and looks up as she returns. The guy watches her for a moment, trying to gauge if she'll shoot him or not. Seeing her sit like that? A hand gently closes the binder. It then reaches across to shake her hand. "Sergeant Cooper Knox. Most of my friends just call me Coop, sir. Good to meet you, Captain." Seems to avoid the first name. Or names in general. "I get that about as much as you'd think, sir." The guy gestures to her uniform wings. "Always good to meet a pilot. I work pretty close with you all." There's a low smile, still sitting just a hair forward. It may be hard to picture him as the face of the enemy. He looks like any other Marine. "I get a lot of questions, too. It's fine. If you need to ask, I won't be offended. I actually prefer to answer in person. Seems most of the Corps around the ship isn't as friendly with the questions about me." There's a bit of humor that goes with it, obviously proud.

The handshake is firm, no nonsense. Fitting for someone who made a proper career of the life. Epiphany leans back, replacing handshake with coffee. That, like many pilots, she looks perfectly at home with. It would truly be the end if there was no caffeine. "There might be questions about you later. I haven't got them right now. It was o'dark-thirty when I got dragged out to meet with the Raptor. I didn't know I was being transferred." Which means being rushed to prepare while your ride does their best to not look impatient in the face of a superior officer. She leans back a measure, crossing one leg over the other. Her knee bumps the table, but she doesn't bothered to look embarrassed. Likely happens all the time. "But maybe you can give me an idea of what I'm stepping into. Sitreps don't cover the mood of a posting."

No questions? Knox seems fine with that. He uses a single hand to slowly slide the binder aside. Over the top it has something about envelope mathematics. About as exciting as one might expect for how enthralled he looked. "It's fine, sir. I'm game for questions if they come up." The Cylon sits with just a barely imperceptible hunch of his shoulders. the question to the post seems to strike him by surprise and he sits back into the chair and looks off. "The Air Wing has a lot of good people. They've been through hell and they are close because of it. Like any unit, but they are a /unit/. Barring a few exceptions, they are very competent people who know their jobs. I guess.. rank- I think it might mean more to prove judgment over authority. I think a soft step and getting to know them first would be better than throwing rank. That's just me." He looks back to her. "The Orion takes itself seriously most of the time. We jumped back to Caprica City when it all went down. Tried to rescue people from the capital. It didn't work out. There's a lot of pride for being front line, though. Tip of the spear and what goes with it, I suppose." He looks thoughtful, eyes dropping to his coffee cup. "I adopted the idea of closed lips and open ears and mind. It's worked well for me. I've been new to this ship twice over. Had to meet everyone all over again. Seems to work well, sir."

Harried. First meeting. New transfer. It's not the best time for questions. Epiphany seems to want to make sure they count. She works on her sandwich as he talks, taking her time of it. There's a quiet sound from the back of her throat in regard to getting to know the 'wing rather than (or before) pulling rank. Something about that seems to amuse her, but no so much as to risk interrupting the man. When he mentions Caprica City, there's a bit of a ripple through her features. A shuddering of eyelids and a tightening of jaw. The woman still says nothing, opting instead to sit up a bit straighter and go for the coffee again. Once the sandwich has been washed down, she rolls her shoulders back. "The first impression is the only one I get. I figure there will be some who aren't happy to see me and others who are. Nature of the beast. It just has a way of…" As she searches for the word, her eyes unfocus and drift somewhere over his shoulder. "Amplifying these days. As if people aren't quite sure how to feel anymore."

Knox catches the shudder and nods slowly. "I was at the Battle of Avery Hall." The capital building. His words are solemn. "Of the Marines there, only one other is still alive today. We put reverence on the people who perform the tasks, Captain. Not that I assume you do not, but I wish to impart the idea that such things are important here. I am who I am, what I am, but I am here because of what I have done. The pilots that flew the bombing of Avery Hall last month are held in high regard, as are the ECO's. It will be tough to navigate being new, finding your way through while people do not know how to feel. Have faith in the Wing, sir. You may find their faith in you will be equal. But my opinion is humble. Clearly, sir," he chuckles. "I'm not Air Wing." He smiles a little and lifts his mug to sip from it. The man takes a moment to settle the mug before he looks back, "If I may, sir? …We've all been through hell. You wouldn't be here if you had not. This is a fact of life. Once fighting with the Wing you will get to know them better. I won't try to quote poetry or make it romantic, but I will say that you will see the lust. It is something in this group you will know as well. We fight as one, for our families."

"By the very nature of your placement and rank, you have a better idea of the undercurrents active than I or anyone that would properly see themselves my peer." Spend enough time teaching pilots, you get used to your rank being used more than a name (to your face, at least). It doesn't seem to bother Epiphany one way or another. She doesn't seem inclined to tell him to stop, nor does she preen in the face of it. It simply is. "An Ensign in the wing would feel more comfortable telling you her complaints than some El-Tee." Maybe, too, she's feeling out the skinjob. He's trusted and she respects that, but there's a certain measure of discomfort there as well. She's studying him, much as one might a map or guncam footage. Facing the animalistic fear head on and controlling it. At his final thoughts, she taps a blunted (chewed, if one looks close enough) fingernail against the side of the chipped mug she holds. There's that unfocused nature to her eyes again before she gives a faint shrug. "I wouldn't expect anything less from a ship that's served as this one has."

Knox hems and haws mentally. He even waggles a hand. "Yes and no. I'm a Cylon, sir. I only hear so much. I'm honestly nobody's peer except in their minds. I work through it, assume the best. People talk, but it's understandably different. Some Ensigns will talk to me. Others won't. Except on the radio." A faint smile accompanies that. He glances to the fingernail, then back. "Go in, be yourself. Just respect where we have been and they will respect where you have been. Like I said, sir, we've all seen more than any of us ever wanted. Each person's hell is their own. When we go to bed, each of us is left to confront our demons. When we wake up, we lean. Like anyone else. If that makes sense, then I'm sure you'll be fine, sir. Really."

There's a twitch in Epiphany's left cheek. Just a hint of a tic. Maybe she's trying to purposefully forget that he's a skinjob. Or at least process it. Merge what she knows of his kind — his model — with what she was given in reports. Dear Cpt Arrington, you will have to serve aboard a ship with a Cylon. But it's okay, really. No, trust us. He's cool. The woman shrugs. It's a one-shouldered thing, complete with a cant of her head. "Makes sense in the way that I wish it didn't."

The one thing that sets Knox apart from the other Sixes, right away, is the old scar on his cheek. Maybe a few months old. It isn't pink, but a dull red. A reminder that he isn't like the others. "I think that what you just said ensures that you'll be fine, sir. We may not be all related, but there's kin there. Everyone has lost a lot. I think…" He takes a long breath before looking back at her. "I know this might be awkward to hear, but listen to the message, not the words, sir." He looks at her, hands clasped around his mug. "I spent a lot of time observing humanity. Learning the ins and outs. Trying to fit in so hard, telling lies, trying to make myself seem more human. It took me a long time to realize that my desire to fit in wasn't that I wanted to infiltrate, but that I wanted to just belong. I wanted to share in how others felt. It all hit me at once that a desire like that is just about wanting to know you are not alone." Knox smiles a little. "No matter what happens with the wing, remember that you are among fellow souls who are just as nervous as you are, sir. When we wake up and try to forget our demons, we come together and fight the physical ones."

Something in the marine's words amuses Epiphany. She laughs. It's not a polite chuckle or even a faint snicker. It's a legitimate laugh. Maybe not an all-out one, but there's a moment of actual mirth in the woman before she quells it, giving a small shake of her head and looking down into the dark liquid rapidly cooling in her own mug. "Frak. Did no one ever tell you that's what being human is? Wanting desperately to fit in, while hoping no one notices how bad you are at it." She wouldn't have been a good instructor if she didn't 'get' the plight of the younger sect. She's held to those same feelings, rather than disregarding and disdaining them. The pilot looks away for a long moment, that same finger tapping on the mug. It's a tell for deeper thought. When the question comes, she doesn't look back. Perhaps feeling a touch of uncertainty in putting it forth: "So you do dream then?"

Knox seems to enjoy the laugh. No offense taken despite the solemnity of the words. "Actually, no. Nobody told me what it was. Had to learn that lesson on my own. It sucks. But I've been told that the perspective helps bring things to focus. Sometimes it takes a child to help see what's hidden behind the bullshit, sir." He seems to take no offense or hit to his self-confidence to reference himself as a child. Perhaps to him, he knows he is. Six years is only so much time, even if he is a grown man on the outside. The last question gets a small chuckle, "Yes. I can do a little more with my dreams, but my brain is like yours, I suspect. I work out my own problems in ways I have no control over. Revisit fears and loss. The one I have most is listening to my sister, Ceres - a Number Nine, call for help before she was killed. She put herself between a Centurion and a wounded Marine. It hurts. Every time. That helpless feeling. …But I think my dreams are more vivid than yours. Just with comparison stories, mind, sir."

There's something to having begun this war the way she did. It's different in many ways and difficult in its own ways. Epiphany listens and in that listening, it's clear some things are falling into place from her own standpoint. Maybe not even specifically where this particular humanoid Cylon is concerned, but beyond that. She's part of a merging of worlds and experiences. The people who were bound from the start and lost as they went versus those who lost everything and had to find strangers to cling to out of necessity and desperation. Both are hard in their own ways and there's a measure of the reckoning in her mien. "If you remember them clearly, that's already a different. There are people who spend their lifetime trying to remember their dreams accurately. It's like trying to capture the rain. By the time you do, it's already changed." Another sip and with a glance, she realizes her coffee is gone. The mug is set upon empty plate and the woman sighs. "Might be time to bite that bullet and find out which ghost will be sharing my new bunk."

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