AWD #324: Indistinguishable
Summary: The true depth of what Piraeus may represent is lain before the newest intel officer. Panic attack ensues.
Date: 11/05/2016 (OOC Date)
Related Logs: Piraeus Hallucination, Points of Failure
Petra Skyler 
Map Room
Dominating the room is the large bottom-lit map table in the very center. Ten feet across and eight feet the other way, the table can gather a large number of people around it while still accommodating enlisted and support personnel in the small riser seating behind the table. The risers are done in single-piece desk sections that run the width of the seating area and have small reporting displays built into them along with communications ports for headphones. At the head of the room are two very large LED displays that can have almost anything put on them, including projections of what is on the map table. A single computer at the support seating controls this and in the rear of the room is a large, locked case that holds maps and table models.
Sat Nov 26 2005 (AWD #324)

Does Petra even go down to the mess hall? Eat? Because Great Ares, the smell of fresh coffee hangs in the air again and a large mug of it sits at the edge of the map table. Petra's pulled a chair up to the corner and has a map of P out along with several pages of hand-scribbled notes. His blues vest has been pulled open and he rests an elbow on the corner of the table while he reads his own henscratch. Elias is nowhere to be found, but surely the Major isn't that far off…

The mapping trip knocked Skyler a few steps back in her recovery plan. Not quite to crutches, but it's definitely delayed getting off the cane. The woman has adapted and moves around decently, but it's still clear that the injury to her leg pains her. Which is quite likely why she leans upon the hatch into the map room for a long moment before tapping on it with her clipboard by way of announcing her presence. "Sir?" The door wasn't closed and no signs of a meeting going on, so the newest intel officer continues her way in. She's in her blues, hair pulled back in a rough sort of bun. The hair regrowing near the headwound is a bit sloppy yet, but there's not much to be done for that. It's not like the Orion is new to headwounds. Not in the least. Tucking the 'board beneath her arm, the woman shuffles her way to the coffee pot first. Cane, clipboard, and mug. It's a bit of a balancing act, but she makes it to the table without dropping anything or falling over. Minor victories and all.

Petra perks up and looks over at the tapping, sitting up then slowly rising to his feet, "Lieutenant?" He sounds confused, his brow furrowing, "You know you could send word and my very able feet could have caught up with you in sickbay. Ares…come sit the hell down." Then in a softer voice, "You'd think there's a war on or something." She makes her way to the coffee pot and he chuckles, "I get you hooked on my brew and you really WILL need hospitalization." While he talks, he takes a moment to straighten up his vest and reclose it, stretching his neck.

"I'm avoiding the sickbay much as I can, sir. And I think your rank and schedule both far outweigh my hobbling about. It's my fault for not holding up the Raptor longer to get my brace on over my flight suit." Everything had seemed rushed once she got the boot off the Pulse High, so Skyler had figured - what the heck, I'll be sitting the whole time. Goes to show her. Maybe if she'd ever flown with Kelsey she'd know to prepare for worst case scenarios. The woman smirks, setting coffee and clipboard down before sinking into one of the chairs that often now lives by the table. Her one real 'claim' in the Map Room. "Hooked, maybe not. Find it quite handy? Oh, yes." She doesn't take a drink yet, no. Just sits down, gets her leg situated, and balances the cane against her thigh. "Major Gray thought I should talk to you about these ruins on Piraeus. Something about ghosts. Maybe do interviews of those who experienced it."

Petra grunts softly at the first description, but when she talks about ghosts, he pauses and watches her for a moment, then leans back and parks his ass back in his chair, "Oh he did, did he?" A faint smirk touches his face, "I'm becoming the loony old man at this rate. Alright. Have a seat, and you might as well start drinking. Have you read any of the geology and excavation reports from P? From way back when the war just started? We had scientific teams out, with industrial drills. They found more than we bargained for out there…"

The woman raises an eyebrow at Petra's initial reaction. Not what she was expecting. Likely, upon hearing of the 'ghosts,' she went the route many did in consideration. A mass hallucination. An excuse to cover up something embarrassing, perhaps. But then the Colonel takes it seriously, she abandons her clipboard for a moment, reaching instead for her coffee. "I've seen them, sir, but I admit I haven't had the time to read them yet. Been playing a lot of catch-up and things have been somewhat as-needed thus far." She shifts a bit, adjusting the lay of her leg with careful movements of her hands upon the brace. "I'm guessing it might be needed, now?"

Petra mmms, "Well, there's one you haven't seen. After the Sergeant came up here and told me what his team experienced, I had a feeling this was going to become relevant again." He leans forward and flips through the notes, finding a printed page, which he pulls out, and whirls around to hand over, "Elias hasn't seen this one yet. Happened before the war started. We had a CIDSR team working to explore this ball of rock we got station on and they had picked up a radiation signature that should not be naturally occurring, especially that close to the surface, so we had a team start drilling. Read that." He hands over a transcribed copy of Nuke It From Orbit; It's The Only Way To Be Sure.

The expressions on Skyler's features shift from curious to quite curious when the TACCO mentions that Elias hasn't seen the report in question. Not quite flabbergasted, but there is a definite edge of WTF-ery to her mien. She accepts the report and draws it in, dark gaze regarding Petra for a long moment before she looks down to the paper itself. As she reads, her expression goes from baffled, to surprised (likely at the radiation levels referenced) to just blank. The woman gets to the end and looks up at the Colonel. For a moment, she's silent, before setting the report down and pushing to her feet to regard the map that Petra was already reviewing when she came in. She looks for the site referenced, before glancing to the man. "How far from it was the team that found the Raptor?" For the moment, it seems to be easier to focus on 'known' quantities.

Petra grunts softly, "Not sure. But that might not be relevant much. See, I've collected these little pieces over the last 350 days, and I'm really not liking how this adds up. First…" He rises to his feet and leans over to pick up the page he just handed over, "This gets burned. The only copy is on a thumb drive I keep safely locked up. Absolutely, positively, do not EVER mention this to Knox or Naomi, and gods forbid, no other skinjob we ever run into. Lets make that clear right off the bat. The Sergeant said they saw people. A ruins. the good Doctor that authored this report seemed to think what the drill bits hit were spacecraft-quality alloys, and the nuclear signature was along the lines of weapons grade quality…either a nuclear strike, or a reactor that overwound and melted down. Either way, manufactured. And over 800 years old."

"Of course, sir." As it stands, Skyler treats pretty much everything she sees in her new job as secrets to be guarded. Even if it's just informing a Marine XO that he has to have his men bring in upwards of five-hundred thousand beans. Yes, beans. A specific bean. No, I won't go into details plzkthx. She leans on the table, heavily, looking down to the map. "I can't say I've ever really believed in much like ghosts, sir," the woman admits, quietly. "But that many people witnessing the same thing." She lifts a hand, lightly rubbing at where the stitches in her head were. Where the hair is growing in slowly. "Do you intend to launch a further investigation of those ruins? Or a survey of the surrounding area?" There's a brief pause and a glance over to the man. "I saw a journal mentioned in the report. Did that offer anything of interest?"

Petra mms, "Thats a trickier thing. But lets preface one thing: Have you ever heard the phrase 'any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic'? I don't necessarily believe in spooks and ghosts. But if there was a race here that had spacefaring ships and nuclear reactors 800 years ago? What do you think they could be capable of by now? How about just by the time /we/ made it to the stars?" He pauses there, and sighs, "The Cylons have a myth. A god story, that talks about there being a race that came before us. And I'm sure you've heard our own scrolls and the phrase 'this has all happened before, and will all happen again', right? What if we're just the next rotation on the chain, and what was left here was where it began last time? Funny how Command picked this gods damned planet out of the millions of habitable rocks in this arm of the galaxy…"

"Aye." Of the phrase, regarding science and magic. Skyler is staring at the map, still processing the report. What it means. What it implies. She worries at her lower lip, brow furrowing. "I was going to ask if you knew how this place was chosen." She's never been a religious sort, but one can't help but cleave to things so deeply intwined with one's culture to an extent. The scrolls are part of Who They Are, even if one does not frequently visit the chapel or murmur prayers to a patron Lord or Lady. After a moment, Almaeda draws a deep breath and returns to her chair. Her leg aching too greatly to remain standing for the moment. "Do you really think it's so cyclic as that? That… one's ending is the next beginning? If so, what do we even do with that information?" She lifts a hand, rubs at her cheek. "Scuttle from those that saw it said they wore uniforms different from our own, with markings in an unknown language… But they understood the words they spoke. That does make me think of some sort of technology, to be honest."

Petra nods slowly, "First of all…the whole story does not go beyond you, me, Elias, the Admiral, and Faulkner. We're going to have to identify some scientific teams and have them start working again, and we're going to have to come up with one HELL of a cover story. I think we need to check the site they had these visions at and see if the radiation is bad there. If not, that might imply the site on this report was a power station or ship or site of an attack, and something more conventional was used to destroy the ruins they found there. The idea I don't like to entertain is that these people also had their creation return to destroy them. If Knox or Naomi finds out…what would YOU do if you found out your friends were stomping all over the holiest place in your mythology? How many seconds would you hesitate before you wiped them all out?"

"Of course." And lo, the more terrifying aspects of her job. Keeping such big secrets. It's worse, in some ways, than flying through a hot zone. It lives with you, at all times. It settles deep in the hollow of your chest. Skyler draws a deep breath and lifts a hand to rub over her features. "The report from the ruins… It mentioned sounds of battle. Whatever it was, they were fighting something conventional. Were they checked on their return for radiation?" The last is a partial aside to herself. Trying to recall the report and whether that was done. One can only hope, considering they're now meandering about the Orion. "Sir… If it's possibly a civilian ship that is our leak, can we trust CIDSR with something like this?"

Petra shakes his head at the radiation question, "I don't know. I haven't seen Medical's report on the team, but maybe the next time you stop down there to get your injuries checked on, maybe you should casually and quietly ask the CMO about that." Then she mentions the leak and he nods, "This is why we need a cover story, so even if someone in CIDSR tries to put all the pieces together, they come up with something OTHER than 'an ancient race lived here before us'. I don't know right now what that cover story is, but I don't recommend we move forward until we have a plan."

"I can do that." Inquire with the CMO. That's the easy sort of quiet. Just an intel agent following up on a report. 'So, doctor, for record completion, I was just hoping to get the details on the check-up of the team that found Shepherd's Raptor.' Done. Likely it'll be one of the easier gigs Skyler has had over the past couple weeks. At the mention of the cover story, she nods slowly. "Disconnected groups that report to us, not each other, to lessen the chance of someone ending up with more than one piece." Much like how many top secret projects are handled. You get puzzle piece A, the team over here gets puzzle piece B, and never the twain shall meet. "I'll see what I can come up with, sir, but it's a tricky one. These are the first verified ruins that I'm aware of. There will be questions and controlling civvies…" Skyler exhales outward, grabbing her mug and drinking deep of the TACCO's strong brew. Might as well be liquor at times, but an upper rather than a downer. "I'd say whatever the story, we have our people working with them, even if just as oversight. People we can explicitly trust, that they have to go through. No kicking them out because they feel like it." Someone's a bit sore about the Pulse High.

Petra mms, "Even better if we can work out a way so that even if the teams DO talk to each other, they have no idea that Puzzle Piece A and Puzzle Piece B even go to the same puzzle, see what I mean? Tricky. But then…welcome to Fleet Intelligence." He offers a wan smile at that, "Chat with Elias, I'll show him this, because he didnt join us until well after the war started, so Im pretty sure we've been so busy I've never even had the forethought to mention this to him. Looks like we got some catching up to do. As for the civilians, well, the bottom line is, whether they like it or not, this is war, and we're sort of in charge of keeping them alive. Lets hope we don't have to remind them of that at the point of a cruise missile launcher."

"Based on the actions of the Pulse High, I think some of them have forgotten. They want rein over what they do." Like… all civilian scientists pretty much ever. Conditioned to think that military oversight is Evil. But in a time of war? Damn right we're going to use your research as a weapon. Deal. With. It. Skyler looks down into the mug, biting at her lip. Already trying to strain for possible scenarios. Possible cover stories. Willing one to leap into mind. She exhales, nodding. "I'll meet with the Major. We'll see what we can spin up. In the mean time, I'll talk to medical and find out if anyone who found Shepherd's Raptor showed any signs of radiation on their return."

Petra nods slowly at that, "Let me know what you find out, and we'll work out a plan, one way or another. We have a lot of balls in the air now, so lets make sure we don't drop one. Delegate what you can when you can - everyone doesn't need to know the whole story as long as YOU do." With that, he takes a deep breath and lets it go in a sigh, rubbing his face in both hands before offering a small smile, "Anything else on your mind, Lieutenant?"

It's a lot of weight to carry. The breadth of the report and the job she and Elias have ahead of them. Skyler's always had more dusky-toned skin, but there's a hint of ashen to her features. For all they trust Knox and Naomi, she knows the TACCO is right. What Piraeus could represent could change everything. She stares down at the mug for another moment before she laughs. It's brief, but high and thready. A sudden overflowing of the panic in her chest. The jig draws a hand to her breastbone, pressing it there as she takes a deep breath. There's a sudden shake of her head. Some of the hair falls loose from its bun. "No, sir. Plenty on my mind now. I was.. just following up as requested by the Major. Could I — we — possibly see that journal? I doubt it, but maybe it'll help in coming up with a story."

Petra mms, "I'll see if we saved it on the flash drive or if I have it locked away. As long as we still have it and the doctor didn't destroy it, absolutely." He pauses there and finally picks up his mug to drain the last of it, then returns to staring at the map, "It wasn't complicated enough, now we have this. Try not to forget that while all of this is going on, our front lines only know of the threat in front of them, and we need to make sure they know we consider that the top priority…the thing that can kill them needs to appear to be top on our minds. Good luck."

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