AWD #473: Of Humanity and Hubris
AWD #473: Of Humanity and Hubris
Summary: Major Gray meets with the 'ghost' of Captain al Yamoha to discuss skinjobs and Piraeus.
Date: 07/10/2016 (OOC Date)
Related Logs: Battle Plans
Elias the-captain 
CMF , Piraeus
The Marine camp down on Piraeus.
Mon Apr 24 (AWD#473)

Sources tell him he just needs to be on the ground and have a need to meet, mentally, that runs strong. They will show. He's about fifty paces past the gates to the LZ when one of Them appears. He walks up beside Elias and nods slowly. The completely different uniform and gun is a signal enough. "Sir, I'm to escort you." That's all the young guy says, but the words dn't match his lips. Elias just hears them perfectly in his head. But he walks Elias towards the Marine camp, which might be a relief. At the gate, he actually seems to know the Marines there and they exchange a fistbump. "Major Gray," he tells the MP's. They check Elias' ID, but not the kid. He stays behind, though. "Sir, she will meet you by the artillery tubes." A hand-slice points the way. "Take a left at the Fire Direction Center, she's waiting there for you, sir." He taps his chest twice with a balled fist before throwing a salute. The Marines at the gate imitate the gesture and then salute the officer, letting him pass.

What the 'sources' tell him does little to put Elias' mind at ease. He's going to meet unknown entities who have some way to tell when you have a need to meet with them. Lovely. He whiles away a few minutes out on the grass, smoking a cigarette and pacing back and forth. The young Major does his best to keep his mind focused on things far removed from the current state of the war: People he knew in his early years with the Fleet, at OCS or his first analysis job for 7th Fleet; His initial arrival aboard the Orion, grubby and exhausted from weeks on Picon; The feeling of being planet-side, something of a rarity for Elias. There's a full stop from the man when the ghost soldier first appears — he hasn't dealt with these entities face to face, only seen them from a distance. He gives his escort a crisp nod, and unable to identify the young man's rank, he simply says "Very well." And after entering the base and getting directions, Elias gives his guide another terse nod. "Thank you, soldier." The fist-tapping isn't returned, though the salute receives the expected response, and then the Major takes his way over towards the artillery part. Considering where he's going, he decides to finish his current smoke and not light another.

When he does make his way through, the directions were accurate to a T. He spots the posted sign for the FDC and hangs a left. Walking down a long line of terran hesco walls, it opens up. The space is easily 100 yards wide with the same depth. There are Marines there, mostly on duty for the sake of 'manning the guns' but sitting around talking. They eye Elias as he enters the bunker area but don't move. There's the feeling that She had moved them off so she could meet with Elias. But there she is, leaning on the wheel of a 155mm howitzer, in her full gear. When Elias enters, she stands off her lean and actually seems to come to attention. Full gear, hands resting on the butt of her front-slung rifle, she stands tall and looks to the Major as he approaches. "Major Grey." The being dips her head to him and looks back. "Sir, I understand you wished to meet with me. I hope this is appropriate."

A solo naval officer in his blues might stand out at the CMF base, but Elias walks at a purposeful pace, as if he belongs there and knows where he's going. After pausing to crush his cigarette butt underfoot, the young Major spends a moment composing himself before he enters the gun pit where the Captain is said to be waiting. With uniform straightened and mind focused, he completes the final leg, only to come to a rather abrupt stop as he sees the 'ghost' leaning casually against a howitzer. Elias' lips compress into a tight line as he concentrates, comparing the woman he sees to the photograph of the Five taken on Libran. Then he steps forward and gives the other officer a polite, rather formal sounding greeting. "Captain. Yes, this is fine. Thank you for your time." Then his formality eases a little as he tries a thin, wry smile. "As you were. I appreciate the courtesy, but as I understand it you have a few thousand years time-in-grade? That must count for something."

al Yamoha nods easily to the order, as if he were talking to any other Marine. She goes to something like a parade rest. Given the amount of gear she wears, and the rifle, it works for the position. The words, though, get a smile and a look away. She even laughs with it, appreciating the humor. Looking back, she shakes her head. "No, sir. Rank is accumulated in our people in trial by fire. We've had none since our planet was lost. I insist on showing the respect, sir." Its more casual, but she seems to understand it. "We've been here awhile but there is due protocol. You do outrank me, Major."

"Mmmm," Elias acknowledges her point without making further argument. Once he might have been concerned with advancing up the ranks, as a career move. The war may have changed his own outlook, but he understands the need for protocol too. Especially on what might be considered a 'diplomatic' mission. "I assume you know why I wished to meet with you, and what I intended to ask?" Because there's no sense in him explaining if she already knows.

The woman, the Five, stands in front of him like any Marine. But she isn't. Marines are not soldiers. And if any accounting is correct, she was in a special warfare unit. Recon. They died at the ruins. But here she is. When he asks his questions, though, she shakes her head quickly. "No, sir." Those eyes look so real. So alive. "We look at people. We watch. We let a lot of things work in confluence. But when it comes to senior officers, I've drawn the line. That was against the judgment of the others. I want to believe we can trust you with the truth. So, no, I do not know the reason. Only the need, sir." She stands in between two guns. That rifle looks formidable and at this point he knows the pistol is at least live. But she shows nothing but respect.

Elias studies the woman, head tilting slightly to one side as he rubs at his chin and mouth in a habitual gesture — one that probably looks more natural when he has a cigarette in hand. "I see," he says after a few seconds thought. "I appreciate that, Captain." That said, the young Major gets down to business. "I'm sure you've gathered that we're trying to 'free' as many of The Lines as we can? Our next step is hopefully an alliance to defeat the Cylons." This much he has some grasp on, but the rest of Elias' proposal is increasingly based on conjecture, a fact he does not try to hide. "The Lines may want a place on Piraeus, but my impression was that they … may not be entirely welcome here. But to be honest, my understanding of your kind and your relationship to the lines is essentially zero."

The Captain listens without interruption, letting him go through it without interruption. Her eyes go low, though. She's thinking on this. The cold late-Fall wind blows over the hesco walls. Eventually she does look back, "They represent the best of who we were. You call us Piraeans, we accept that. But that is not who we are." The Captain takes a few steps forward but doesn't get into personal space. She's about ten feet from him, but those eyes are looking to his. He can look back and see the age. Everything she's seen and that this is a rough officer who has actually seen Hell. "The impression is understood. We get that. But this is their home. It always has been. We created them." The Five holds her place, but the look on her face is more empathic. "They are you. Major, sir, the lines were created to be the best of us. The best of humanity. They were designed for something so much larger but they've been hijacked to this horrid end." She slowly moves her hands and reaches into her plate carrier. Out comes a picture, slowly, and it shows all twelve of the lines together, smiling in a candid photo. She holds it out for Elias to see. "Do you understand?"

Now it's Elias' turn to be patient and listen. He may be acting as TACCO, but he's still the Intel Officer at heart, and his attention is focused on al Yamoha as he tries to gleam what he can from her manner and expression. Her approach doesn't take him aback, but the weight of the ages in her gaze isn't so easily ignored. The young Major blinks, then frowns to himself, looking distinctly uneasy. Any number of questions are forming on his face, but remain unasked as she continues to speak, and then Elias leans in for close look at the picture, scanning it with both personal interest and to confirm the faces are all familiar, especially the Three. Then he straightens up, still frowning, and takes a few seconds to consider before he answers the woman's question. "No…" he says slowly. "That's to say, yes, I understand you're answering my question. But no, I don't fully understand the answer. Would you mind explaining it to me, from the beginning?"

The Five stands there, taking the picture back. She tucks it back in before she nods. "We've been waiting to talk to a senior officer. We give hints, ideas. But this is different." her hands come out from behind her back and rest on the butt of her rifle, but her chest. The figure, moving to sit on the wheel of a howitzer, looks back to him. That face is solemn. Serious. "Five thousand years ago humanity landed here, on this planet. It resolved to make choices. Some of those choices were forgotten. Humanity fled for a reason, though. This planet was meant to be a safe haven. A secret place. For millenia, humanity thrived. They forgot who they were and rediscovered themselves. They built a new civilization. They called themselves the Colonials." The Captain stares at Elias. "They knew they never came from here. But over time, they forgot and it became a moniker they lived with. In time, when we came about, it became light and right. Sir, the lines were created to protect humanity as it expanded." She looks to her shoulder and removes the velcro patch. Holding it in her palm, she presents it: A figure of a single star system with many arrows pointing out. Two bolts on the top down towards the core. "Major, this is their home."

Elias didn't expect a 'yes.' That much is clear from his expression. But he recovers quickly and gives a slow nod, keen to hear the Captain's answers even if he is apprehensive about what they may be. Some he seems to grasp and acknowledge with a nod. Others the young Major is less clear on. "You're telling me this is Kobol?" Elias looks around at what little of the scenery he can see from the artillery emplacement. He's past being skeptical, but wants to make certain he does understand. "And the founders of the Colonies left here before your people were … wiped out?" He leans in again to study the patch as it's shown to him, though there's no sign he recognizes the design. "Twelve Colonies, twelve lines, twelve lords and ladies of Kobol. I thought that was a rather unlikely coincidence."

The Captain shakes her head slowly. "This is not your Kobol." She looks at him directly. "Your own Kobol had its initial people flee, according to what we have gleaned, a thousand years after this planet was founded, sir." For all the violence she could visit, the woman seems solemn. "Your humanity did not come from here. But neither did ours. Humanity fled another planet to arrive here. This was home, a secret place." al Yamoha holds her gaze. "Twelve lines, twelve lines." Two different meanings. "We were created for a reason, sir. The two bolts at the top?" She moves a finger to point. "Male and female." Her hand drops. "Two in, the best twelve out. To defend. To guard humanity against the threat."

"Before Kobol?" Human history, for Elias, didn't exist beyond the Colonies' oldest myths, and this civilization is older than that by a good bit. "I see…" Which is it say, he needs to think about this for a moment. The hint about how the lines were created causes the Major to compress his lips, and he gives a reluctant nod. "Clearly we're the same species … we've seen evidence of that, even if they have abilities we don't understand…" Further conjecture on this point is brought to a halt by a mention of a 'threat' however. "Mmm," Elias makes an uneasy sound. "What is the threat?"

"Before your Kobol, sir." Its simply repeated. "But the words bear repeating." The Captain just keeps her gaze on him. "You are correct on that point, though. We are the same species. Me, myself, a little different. But my guys?" She glances beyond him, looking to invisible people, then to him again. "No different. Consider that point, Major. They follow me because I lead. No other reason." The words don't match her lips, they never have. So when the next comes, its clearly understood, "The threat are the Cylon."

Elias nods for her confirmations, both for the time line and the biological classification, but he's still far from solid intellectual ground. The scope is too large, and the details too few. "Saying you /are/ human in your … current state leaves me with any number of questions." He could start asking them, but it would never end. So stays silent, considering her point and working it all over in his mind. After a few seconds of this, he starts to rummage in his pockets for his smokes. At least until he hears her name the threat. "The Cylons?" Elias arches a brow. "They're thousands of years old as well?"

The Captain smiles, but the look is glib. "I was. But I never was. It really is a larger question, sir." She doesn't step closer, but there does seem to be something distinctly human about her. "I remember the months with my son, his crying, keeping me up when I had to be at work early. The feel of my husband's hand on my shoulder when we slept. When we would meet with other couples, the way he would stand by my side and just be there when I was uncomfortable with other women. When I was away, fighting, I had faith." She shakes her head. "What is it to be human, sir? What does the question even mean?" She leaves it for him before moving on. "The Cylon are the ultimate hubris to humanity. The ultimate sin. Creating artificial life and allowing it to grow. Pick your way it propagates… Different names, different locations. "Ask yourself an important question, sir: We were wiped out a thousand years before the colonies were founded. What is the hubris of humanity?"

"Mmm," is all Elias has to say for the larger metaphysical question of humanity. "I don't think I'm in any position to argue the nature of humanity with you, Captain." So he offers a brief diversion instead, "Smoke?" The Major digs out the cigarettes and lighter from his pocket, showing them to the Five. "Philosophy aside," he continues, "It sounds as if you're telling me 'All of this has happened before, and all of this will happen again.' I've never found that very comforting. And that is why the Twelve were created? To prevent it from happening again?"

The woman seems about to answer the question when she see's the offer of a smoke. Her eyes light up in a way that's been rarely seen. "Thank you, sir." She reaches for the cig and plucks it from his fingers. But it seems she has her own lighter. Ducked into a pocket, she brings it out to spark the tip. It glows as if he were standing with another person. The whole act seems to stall her from answering everything, letting the smoke leave her lungs. Watching the smoke drift from her lips, she looks back to Elias and nod very slowly. "Close." She takes another puff and looks to the side. Steps taken away, she moves to sit on the tire of a gun. "The lines were created for a few reasons. Our primary mission was to work together to spread off Piraeus to populate a fleet. To explore and defend. We always knew the threat. But humanity kept growing, getting more arrogant. We had a short life with humanity here. We were the enemy for a time. But we proved ourselves. I know what I am and what I am saying, too, sir. But they found us. On the cups of humanity's hubris… They found us again. The Cylon."

Elias had assumed she'd decline, but doesn't begrudge the Captain a cigarette, relatively scarce though they may be. He takes one himself and props it between his lips, ready to offer his lighter until he sees she has her own. So he lights up himself, puffing the smoke to life and then exhaling with a relieved sigh. Listening to her tale with a more focused interest, the Major gives a few attentive nods, then looks thoughtful. "Do you mean thousands of years ago, when your planet fell? Or do you mean our … more recent hubris?"

The woman smokes her cigarette like its the first she's had in a very long time. Each drag savored. He can tell she's even listening to the crackle of the paper. While me might look attentive, she just seems to relax on the tire. But her gaze is downcast. "The fact that you are asking that question invites many more, sir." Another drag and he looks back at him. The smoke wafts between. "We fell because they found us. I suspect the Colonies invented their own problem. Perhaps lessons lost. But each civilization has sought out Earth - the safe haven. The place we could find harbor. The place the Cylons could not find it. But its only a myth. Every religion we've come across decided it." She takes a drag and looks back. "Your hubris. …But do you think the Cylon did this on their own?"

Elias considers the point about Earth, giving a small shrug. "Looking for Earth now would mean abandoning billions. And I don't think we're quite ready to surrender." Then he takes another deep drag off his cigarette. "We created our own Cylons," he admits while breathing out a stream of smoke. He holds the cigarette between the first two fingers of his right hand, momentarily letting it fall to his side. "Sixty years ago or more. The first war was over years before I was born." He lifts his smoke for another hit. "But we'd never seen the lines before last year. We assumed the Cylons created them. We weren't disabused of this notion until Sergeant Knox was forced to admit it." A point which the Major takes pains to clarify, "Forced by circumstances, that is. After we met you, and then subsequently, a Five. In any case, One seems to be actively assisting the Cylons. Is that what you mean?"

The Captain listens, watching him. She smokes her cigarette in the meantime. "Time is relative, sir. That's the biggest thing to consider. I'm just telling you what I know." There is some weight with the last of her phrase, though. No further words to it, but its left there. And she's already said a lot. "One has strayed. That's all I can say." She finishes the smoke and rises from the seat on the tire. The last drag is taken.. and she looks to the side and flips it over the hesco wall — to some deep satisfaction. Likely personal. "Sir, your war is everyone's war. It always has been. But you're the first in many ways. What you do with it is up to you. Is there anything else, sir?"

"I'm not questioning you, Captain," Elias assures the woman. "I was confirming your suspicions — that we invented our own problems." Being 'the first' in some unnamed way doesn't seem to put the Major's mind much at ease, but he does acknowledge that they do have choices to make. "Mmm." As for anything more, Elias finishes with business. "On Libran, One, Five, and Ten are investigating what appears to be the founding colony ship. We think he's looking for the point of origin. Is that here?"

al Yamoha stands taller once leaving the seat on the wheel. She looks to Elias, but the last question brings a slow shake of her head. "That would be impossible. What they are doing there is outside the planet you call Piraeus. But you are correct. Partially. The question to ask yourself is where the origin really is." She smiles, the expression low. "And can you afford it. What would you do with it if you found it?" She tilts her head. "Can you get further than the galactic others?" her face smiles a bit as the words fade, the woman then turning and beginning to walk away - starting to fade.

It's clear early on that Elias is not exactly following everything the Captain is trying to say. A brow goes up, and spends a second smoking as he listens. And she's already fading away before he can ask her to explain any of it. Blowing out a stream of smoke, he stands for a time to replay the last exchange in his head. Then with a frown he turns and starts to stride back towards the landing zone, and a ride back up to orbit.

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