AWD #572: Parlay with the Arpay
AWD #572: Parlay with the Arpay
Summary: The unexpected guests from across the galaxy meet with the Orion officers. Some blunt truths are laid bare.
Date: Sat 14/Jan/2017 (OOC Date)
Related Logs: Unexpected Guests
Dropkickst Elias Miri 
Penta Pratt Robin 
Ward Room
Where Dick Grayson lives.
Tue 01/AUG/2006 (IC Date)

Elias makes certain the Ward Room is presentable and that they have food and beverages available — it may be mid-rat sandwiches, coffee, hot water, and cold water, but at least it's something. Then he nips out into the hall for a quick smoke. He has his wristwatch and his knowledge of exactly how long it takes to get from the hangar to Deck 2, forward. A minute left and he carefully ashes out his smoke and moves to stand by the hatch, waiting for the away team and their company to arrive. The young Major is looking carefully neutral, hands hanging loosely at his side, as the final moments tick by. He has chosen to appear unarmed — if the MPs on Deck Two can't handle it, his sidearm is unlikely to make the difference.

Robin helps Elias out by straightening the trays and making sure things are placed appropriately. Her bourgeois upbringing is good for something, even if the aliens won't know, anyone with knowledge of Virgon manners would notice the strict arrangement of various items. It might come across as fastidious behavior though. Finally she stands opposite the Major, not too clustered together. Her side-arm is worn at her thigh, buttoned into its holster and safetied.

Penta is just inside the hatchway, matched by an NCO on the outside - both armed with pistols.

The arrival home of the crew is met with a lot of surprise from the Deck. But not nearly as much as the visitors that get off the Raptors. People stare. They are in slate gray uniforms that look like utilities rather than dress uniforms. The nametapes on their uniforms are in a strange language and nobody recognizes the patches on their shoulders, certainly not what the rank structure in the center chest of the uniform represents. The male leads the way followed by two females. All of them look to be in either their late thirties or early forties. The male has a thin metal briefcase, the blonde female has a larger box case that almost looks like luggage, and the brunette has two satchels over her shoulders and others are towing two rolling cases behind her. The sidearms on their hips are clearly not there for show - each on looking like it has seen extensive use with the paint flaking and friction marks. The blonde carries hers in a thigh holster, too.

When they arrive in the Ward Room, Elias and the others get a better look at them, too. They look like normal humans but for two differences that are noticable after a second glance. Their eyes have pupils about twice the size of normal human eyes and the iris seems to have been compacted, producing a very bright blue on the male, a rich and royal blue on the blonde, and vibrant forest green on the brunette. The next thing? Their ears. They're more swept back on the tops and come to a dull point. They seem to be well aware people are staring at them for tese differences but they don't seem to care a whit. As they enter the room, one by one, they salute the people already present with a casual doubletap of a fist to their heart. The same greeting al Yamoha gives. They come to stand in a casual line at the other end of the room, left to look at each other. They seem like serious folks, though the male seems to have no problem being within personal range of Pratt, as if they've known each other while.

Miri follows close on their heels, in full Marine gear, med kit strapped securely to her. She falls into parade rest, watching the officers on the other side of the room.

Pratt waits until the group that came on the raptor is all together before they start heading in, and while he doesn't stop moving, when they hit certain points, he's busy saying, well, something to the two strangers in something that is decidedly NOT Colonial Standard. When the group assembles in the Ward Room, Pratt comes to attention and addresses Elias, "Sir. Mission detail reporting. The Individual on my right is Doctor Jimenez, and beside her is Major Valloy. Doctor Jimenez would like me to relay that she wishes to speak with the Chief Medical Officer as soon as can be arranged."

Elias studies the newcomers as they arrive, trying to supress his surprise, note the differences, and focus on the important details. They're armed and they have a fair bit of equipment. The young Major returns their fist-to-chest salute with the Colonial hand-to-brow, then turns to listen as Pratt makes introductions. There's a nod to the pilot for the medical matter, and the TACCO takes a brief moment to address Pratt and Miri. "Welcome home Lieutenant, Specialist." Then he gives a quick clear of his throat before addressing their guests. "Commander. Major. Doctor." Each of them gets a direct look in turn. "Welcome aboard the Battlestar Orion. I'm Major Gray, Tactical Officer." Then Robin is introduced. "This is Lieutenant Colonel Io, the Commander of our Air Wing." And Penta. "And Ensign Penta, Marine security officer." Names and titles exchanged, Elias gestures to the chairs around the table. "Please have a seat. Would you care for … some refreshments?"

Robin keeps an even expression as the newcomers enter the Ward room. Her eyes do flick to one of theirs and then their ears, mind registering the differences as if they don't gel with her own internal mindmap of the body, but beyond that, she trains herself consciously not to stare. At the foreign salute, Robin returns it with a Colonial salute of her own in time with Elias. She dips her head solemnly when she's introduced.

Penta returns the salute with his own as well, but stays standing, and quiet. Good Marine, stay.

When Elias responds, Pratt clears his throat and murmurs lower in that unidentified language, his head half turned towards the 'elves', his pauses perhaps making it clearer that he's translating what Elias is saying for their benefit. With that done, he straightens up and nods, "Thank you, sir." With that said, though he seems either willing to remain standing and indicating the seats are for the guests, or is just being professionally courteous and waiting for them to sit.

With Pratt translating, the trio looks to each person as they are introduced, associating names with faces. There's a defined lack of arrogance or superiority about them as well. They seem like normal people visiting a new ship. They take the offered seats, Chapman and Jimenez placing their cases on the table. Valloy keeps hers to the side. The offer made has them look to Pratt and then there's a slow nod and a shrug as they look to each other. They each speak to Pratt quickly and there seems to be respect there. the way jimenez looks over the people in the room might remind every one of them of Samtara. Clinical, but just a touch more warmth.

Ah. These people do not seem to have a psychic ability to communicate in Colonial Standard, unlike the 'ghosts.' This is clearly a bit of a relief to Elias. The pilot's ability to translate for them draws an arched brow from the TACCO, but that question goes to the end of the rapidly growing queue of those that have to wait. "I assume you've explained the basics of our situation and how you found them?" this question is directed to Miri and Pratt, even as Elias moves to take a seat himself. He waits to hear what their guests have said before he addresses them further.

Penta remains standing. His job is to be the strong, silent type in the room. And he's good at being strong and silent, watching the proceedings with a look of interest.

The translation abilities don't escape the Colonel either. Her eyes narrow an iota. Just one more person in the Wing with weird crap going on. She has a queue of her own. She moves to serve herself some coffee before taking her seat. A gentle discerning look takes up residence at her brow. It's so close to her neutral expression it's hard to tell if it's the mind exaggerating what is only just a micro expression. She puts some sugar in her coffee and uses a spoon to stir and dissolve it, eyes now on the pilot.

Pratt nods slightly and adds as the three speak, offering to Elias and the others as teh elves speak. From Jimenez, with a faint smile, "She is the Medical Doctor, but believes you can tell that already from looking at her." From Chapman, 'I am an air group commander. We'd like to be the first to say that we're here as friends and allies. We have no interest in starting wars. We have enough wars to fight that fighting our own people makes no sense. We've come with the intent of the safe return of your people as well as information and some hopefully helpful technology. You may accept or decline any or all of it at no ill will towards us. For now, words will do.' From Valloy, 'I am Military Intelligence and Intentions.'

To Elias's words, he nods slightly, "To an extent, sir. What they know as 'The Machines' sounds like something different than we know the Cylons, but when I described the basic toaster, they seemed to recognize what I was talking about. They are…impressed that we have been able to fight back against an AI and not immediately get flattened, especially with our low levels of technology compared to theirs. We have not gone into detail about the Skinjobs or their situation. Our orders were to find out what was there and bring back help. Major St. Clair and I did not feel we were the best people to go into further detail than that. It would seem they are used to immediately running when these machines show up, and were surprised that we would want to stay and fight."

"Their medical technology is fascinating, sirs," Miri adds. "It's amazing, beyond anything I've ever seen. If they choose to share it with us, no one will ever die of cancer or a degenerative disease ever again. This is a momentous meeting." The freckled medic gazes levelly at the assembled officers, her voice strong and confident.

Elias listens to Pratt's translation, only remembering to look at the original speaker when the pilot is half way through. He holds his response until after the two Orion personnel have a chance to answer his question. "Mmm," he says in response to the pilot. "Understood Lieutenant, thank you." The medic's claims earn Miri a questioning look from the TACCO, but they've seen no end of strange things, so a cure for cancer isn't sounding as far fetched as it might once have. "I see … let's hope they choose to." Elias then takes a moment to consider, glancing aside at Robin before he addresses their guests again. "We appreciate the risk you're taking on our behalf, and we are grateful for any help you're willing to offer. Thank you." His mouth tightens a bit in discomfort, despite the pleasantries. "I am afraid we don't have a great deal of time," he says, not exactly an apology given their state of war, "So I'll get down to business." He pauses to give Pratt a chance to relay that.

Robin blows on her coffee lightly. Momentous or not…or especially because it's momentous, Robin needs to make sure she's really awake and this is really happening. Plus she hasn't had her cup today. She listens to the pilot and specialist reports and arches a brow slightly when Pratt speaks of the guests as immediately running, but says nothing, instead filing a thought away for later. She takes a test sip of her coffee as she listens to Elias take hold of the negotiations. She does what he can't as easily, watch the body language of more than the people he's looking at.

The three visitors look a bit uncomfortable as Pratt says more. They know that they are being spoken about and things exchanged that they have no way of knowing. It puts them at a disadvantage. Yet they came anyway, likely knowing this would happen. They don't seem tense or angry, or about ready to pull guns and shoot someone. Quite the opposite. The group seems fairly calm considering everything that's been happening. Maybe its the confusion on the time and how well these people have come to know the explorers that left on the Erol. And when Pratt translates again, they all nod along. The Doctor speaks quickly to Pratt and slowly begins to rise, looking to the others at the table, a finger lifting questioningly to the door as if asking permission to leave. Chapman and Valloy seem to indicate their support.

Elias doesn't need a translation for the Doctor's question, nodding his approval and turning the the Marine officer present. "Ensign Penta, please arrange an MP escort to see Doctor Jimenez to Sick Bay." The TACCO's question is directed to Pratt and Miri instead. "She'll need a translator, I assume? Specialist, can you handle that?"

Pratt glances over at Miri when she explains, simply nodding his head once in agreement with her assessment. But then Elias is speaking again and he lapses back into relaying what the TACCO is saying to the guests, pausing to listen, consider, and mentally reconstruct what they want into Colonial Standard. The first is for Jimenez, "The Doctor understands that time is of the essence and suggests she go ahead and speak to Doctor Nadir, since the tactical situation is not her forte. And…" And then Elias explains and Pratt nods, "Yes sir, that was what I was going to suggest." And that's why Elias is TACCO!

Pratt adds, "The Commander and the Major are happy to continue."

Elias nods to Miri and Penta, letting them take care of the details. And once arrangements have been made for the medical meeting of the minds, Elias turns back to the remaining two visitors. "This is our current understanding of the situation," Elias begins. "Our Twelve Colonies have existed for some two thousand years, and our history prior to that had largely been lost. Forty years ago we fought a war with the what we call the Cylons. Machines we created ourselves, intended to be our servants. The war ended in an armistice, but resumed some two years ago. This time the Cylons destroyed most of our fleet and defenses. We've recently begun a major counter-offensive, but the situation is … far from ideal." He pauses to let the translation catch up. "And during that time we've discovered a planet we believe you might know as 'Ys'ral.' There we learned some of our … lost history. And information that lead us to you."

Robin sips on her coffee and lowers it to the table while she watches their guests as the words are passed along from Elias to Pratt and onwards. She watches Pratt's somewhat effortless translation with a line of skepticism between her brows that looks more like she's just thinking than anything else.

Doctor Jimenez takes up her satchel from the table and hangs the strap on her shoulder once again. She reaches over to shake the hands of Valloy and Chapman, nodding, sounding something like 'Good Luck'. Reaching into her bag, she produces a small handheld device that looks like a palm-sized blowtorch. A few more words spoken to Valloy and the device is placed in front of her. The Major seems appreciative and looks back towards Elias. Pratt and Miri will recognize the device right away as the one shot into their eye when they first arrived. Jimenez taps her chest heart twice to the rest of the room and moves to go for the door with Miri. However, the other two listen. And as they listen? It doesn't look so hot.

When Elias mentions that the Colonials created the Cylons, Chapman leans his head to the side and rubs his forehead. A classic gesture of facepalming. Valloy has a low order disbelief on her face. It stays there. They speak to each other for a few moments, looking blankly at the table. Valloy's crossed her legs and mostly has her mouth covered by a hand. She eventually shakes her head with a thought that he seems to finish. Some sort of saying. Chapman finally looks back to Pratt, then Elias and seems to have plenty to say.

Penta heads out with the doc and Miri.

Pratt winces a little when Elias mentions the origins of the Cylons, but translates it anyway, adding in Colonial, "I did not mention /we/ had built the Cylons, sir. In case that might have inspired a 'well, you're frakked, go away' reaction." But then the Commander says something that snaps Pratt's head up and looks at him oddly and repeats a few words of whatever the Commander said, back to him. But then he's asked a question, to which Pratt nods and begins translating again, "We understand your problem. We have seen it before. Someone in your history failed horribly. A group of people was responsible for your history and one in particular. We obviously could not say who. Fighting wars like this is always the worst because of the personal nature of the combatants involved. Their homes, their invention. The ideas are hard to resolve against each other. The emotional attachment can cloud the mind. We need to pointedly ask what your attachment is to this location. Your twelve colonies.. if you had to, could you leave them?"

A facepalm reaction was not unexpected, to judge by Elias' seeming lack of concern. He simply folds his hands on top of the table and waits while they discuss what he's said among themselves. "Understood, Lieutenant," he acknowledges Pratt's words without comment. Perhaps it's odd for the former Intel Officer to go with brutal honesty, but that does seem to be the course he has set. Elias focuses on Chapman when the Commander starts to respond, judging what he can from the man's expression even as he listens to Pratt translate the words. There's not a moment's hesitation for his answer to Chapman's question. "Yes. It's not a fondness for home that keeps us here, Commander. We have two billion survivors, few surviving transports, and nowhere to go." He pauses a second to make sure this understood before he adds. "And there is indeed one who may very well have betrayed our history. He has certainly betrayed our present by helping the Cylons destroy our Colonies. And we think he is trying to learn the location of your Rally Point, just as we did."

Chapman and Valloy wait for the response with keen interest. While PRatt translates, their dark eyes move between the Lieutenant and Elias. A CAG and a Military Intel Major are trusting this guy to give them truth and speak for them. That's real trust, something that can't be ignored. The two discuss Elias' answer a moment before Valloy seems to nod in agreement. Chapman clasps his hands, resting them on the briefcase, and looks to Robin and Elias as her speaks. The man is serious and focused - the eyes only reinforce it.

Pratt nods at Elias' words and relays the TACCOs response, listening to the Commander and Major for a moment, his brow furrowing a little at the back and forth between the two, but finally he offers to Elias and Robin, "We will help you, but this is going to be contigent upon working with us. We will not attempt to control actions, but we expect to be worked with and listened to for our experience. Our people, the Arpay, have been fighting this war longer than we have properly recorded history for. If you do not have an attachment to these planets, we have a place we can evacuate your people to. The problem is moving five billion people. We cannot move them all anytime soon. We are in the middle of a deployment cycle and our last deployment involved hundreds of landing ships - most of our fleet of them. In the meantime we can offer limited combat support, medical, and educational. We are not interested in hoarding what we have. You are human, our charge is to fight with you when we can, for you when you cannot, and to avenge where possible."

Robin straightens up a touch, lowering her coffee as Pratt begins to relay back what the visitors have spoken. Perhaps she did not expect such talks to be expedited so soon. For the quick to the point Colonel, the visitors' briskness is refreshing. She nods to them as Pratt relays the bit about not being able to evacuate right away. She's used to dealing with constraints and hadn't gotten her hopes up. "That is good to hear," she actually remarks after Pratt relays their charge, though afterwards, her eyes flick to those strange instruments that the foreign doctor left behind.

Elias listens, his expression grave and patient, his gaze on the commander while he listens to the words in Standard. There's a slow nod of agreement with the CAG's opinion. "As I said, we are grateful for any assistance you're willing to offer. We are willing to listen to advice, and we will share whatever information we have as well." He considers a moment, then adds more. "I assume you'll need to return to your people to discuss this? It might be best if we exchanged liaisons before your ship departs. Or are you planning to … remain here?"

With Elias getting called away suddenly by a runner, Jameson likely needs him for something. Maybe his coffee still hasn't arrived. Admiral Toddler. Pratt translating the words, though, has both of them look to each other. Valloy settles back into her chair and clasps her hands on her stomach, looking to Robin, then the table in front of her. Chapman holds his leaned-forward position, looking to Robin as he speaks. When he's done, he look to the item on the table that Jimenez left. He holds it up in his hand, explaining what it is. While he is doing that Valloy leans forward, opens her eyes, and faces him head on. He holds up a finger in a 'one moment' gesture and aims the device into Valloy's retina. He pulls the trigger quickly and an infrared laser fires. She blinks a few times and looks back to everyone at the table before relaxing back.

Penta almost reaches for his sidearm. ALMOST. He stops in time before there's an interstellar unfortunateness, but his hand twitches. "What is that, may I ask?"

When the device is picked up, Pratt arches his brow for a moment as it's aimed at the other elf, and seeing the reaction on Robin's face, he shakes his head, "Colonel, no, it's a device that can 'teach' language. Or at least, its one of the things it did for us. Its how we can understand what they are say…" and then Chapman starts speaking, he pauses, and considers the translation, then nods and translates, "I am in charge of the mission and operations for my people. I am the last word in this sector now. We will return to our own people for higher level talks if it turns out you require additional support or we require more people. Our families will continue on." Chapman guestures to the little laser box, "This is a retinal laser. We call it a razer. It is used to implant information directly into the brain. It cannot replace memories, only create new ones. It is a highly controlled device. This one has been programmed to implant our whole language to make anyone fluent and understand the nuances. No translaters needed. I'll show you on Major Valloy. This is very simple and it is painless.' This is when Chapman pauses and demonstrates it on Valloy. "Very simple. You hear a clicking in your mind, those are new nerve endings being created to store the language. Very easy. Would anyone like it?"

Penta looks thoughtful. "Not my place to decide if I get it done to me," he responds, verbally for once. "I'm a Marine, I'll shut up and do what they tell me."

Elias stepped out when a messenger arrived, but he is only absent for about thirty seconds. The TACCO returns and slips quietly back into his seat, in time to catch most of Pratt's translation about the retinal laser device. The razer is given a moment of close scrutiny, and then Elias nods his understanding to the Commander. "I assume this is how you were able to learn their language, Lieutenant?" he asks Pratt. "Any side effects you've noticed?" Then he turns to Penta. "Entirely voluntary, Ensign. Unless Major Ommanney decides otherwise." Elias is not volunteering until he hears what Pratt has to say, but he doesn't look particularly bothered by the idea. "One moment please, Commander," he stalls their guests, holding up a hand to indicate a brief delay while he considers.

Penta nods. "Aye, sir." Not that 'Voluntary, unless it's not' is particularly clear phrasing, but he got what Major Gray intended to say, he thinks.

Commander Chapman and Major Valloy watch the exchange, letting the group make their own decisions. They seem to have anticipated or at least expected discussion on the idea. Chapman seems to understand Elias without a translation needed, the gesture indicating they need a few. He leans back and looks to Valloy. She shrugs.

Pratt nods slowly at the first question, "Yes, sir, it is, and no sir, we haven't noticed any side effects at all. The only point of difficulty was that…sir, I know the clock says we were gone five days, but I swear to Ares, we were there at least four weeks. When we jumped back, I was so used to speaking their language that I almost kept it up when I called out. If you can call that a side effect, though." The Lt offers a slight shrug of one shoulder, shifting his attention to focus on the two Arpay officers with a lifted brow, then links his hands in his lap, staying attentive and waiting for them to need something translated back the other way.

There's a faint, wry smile for Penta's hesitant response, but Elias doesn't clarify. He turns to hear what Lt. Pratt has to say, and this leaves the Major with a thoughtful frown. "Time dilation? Mmmm." Astrophysics isn't his thing, so there is a fairly long moment while the TACCO weighs his decision. But he finally gives a nod of consent, "I a going to assume that wasn't related to this … device." Rising, he makes his way around the table toward their two guests, and the Elias gestures questioningly to an empty chair. Should he sit down for this?

The Commander and Major seem to have no problem waiting while things are discussed. But when Elias moves to sit, Valloy moves to sit straighter. She seems to understand what he is asking and motions for him to sit. The laser is taken up, as she is sitting closer and points to her own left eye, making sure he can see to open it wide. Once down, she holds the device about four inches from his eye and presses the button on it. She holds it in place for two seconds before lowering it. There's no immediate attempt to speak to him, they just wait. But she places the device back on the table as if it were deliberate - to show that she means no harm.

Retrograde murmurs, "You may want to sit down anyway, Major. Just, you know, bright lights shining in your eyes and all." He falls quiet again as Valloy blows a hole in….no no, shines the laser and gives it a moment. Pratt waits a moment before shifting to Arpay and clears his throat, «Can you understand me, sir?»

Elias sits, then nods his understanding when Major Valloy indicates he should keep his eye open wide. He'd already resolved to go through with this, so the TACCO sits up straight and stares straight ahead, doing his best not to blink. And he doesn't, at least until the procedure is done. Then Elias looks a little unsteady for a second before rubbing at his temples and looking around the compartment. There's a few seconds delay, where he seems lost in thought, before the TACCO responds to Pratt. "Yes, I can understand you, Lieutenant." he says in Standard. "And it appears to work as advertised," he adds for Penta. Then he turns to their guests and tries their tongue himself. «An … interesting sensation. Sound I expect any side effects? I assume you can impart other types of knowledge as well? Scientific? Technical?»

Chapman and Valloy both smile with a little relief when they hear their own language. Chapman is quick to respond, «No, Major. If you feel strange or woozy again in the next twenty-four hours, please see your own Doctor. They should contact Jimenez. But those side effects are extremely rare.» Valloy leans forwad to handle the rest. «Sir, yes we can. But we do not unless there is an extremely good reason. We value knowledge at a high level, but knowledge without the effort to obtain it carries no weight of concern for how it can be wielded. We can provide documentation, databases, knowledge bases, everything. But unless there is a very immediate need for something specific? We rarely use them. in fact, Jimenez has to sign for every single one. They go back to her control. The military is forbidden long-term or controlling access to these devices.» She just gestures to it. Chapman looks over to Pratt and grins a little, seeming to know or at least understand the Liuetenant well. Far mroe than five days familiarity.

Pratt nods once when Elias seems to understand what he's saying and even smiles faintly for a moment. When Valloy shoots a look his way, he offers the Major a bow of his head, but falls quiet, keeping his fingers linked in his lap while he gives it a bit longer to make sure neither Elias nor the Arpayans have questions specifically for him.

Penta watches curiously, before asking a question of his own. "Major, a question for the Arpayians. How….'sticky', I guess…how perishable is the knowledge imparted by the razer? Is it imparted like a first language, and thus near-impossible to forget, or like a second or third language, where maintaining fluency between uses takes more effort?"

Chapman shakes his head. «Not necessary. Thank you, Lieutenant Pratt, for all your assistance. This won't be forgotten.» Both he and Valloy rise from their chair and tap their hearts twice with their fist, a measured gesture of respect. Once he is up and moving, they retake their seats. Valloy picks up the reply, «Yes, Major. Knowledge is knowledge. This will imprint strongly and last a very long time. But if it goes unused, then the language will fade, much like memories no longer accessed. But yes, the knowledge was taken from an individual and then given to you. The person's brain was scanned and recorded in completion and the selected areas related to the language were electronically carved out and programmed into the razer. It was millenia or five ago, however. We have had the tech forever. We just rarely use it anymore, except on first contact meetings such as this.»

Sure of the razer working, Pratt finally rises to his feet and murmurs, "Major, I'm sure the Doctor is impatiently waiting for me, if you have nothing further?" then almost without hesitation, he offers a bowof his head to the Commander and Major Valloy, «I am certain the feeling will be reciprocated, sirs. Thank you for getting us home.» With that said, assuming he's not stopped, Pratt heads out for Sickbay.

Penta nods at this answer. "Hmm. I'll try it, then."

Elias looks up to Pratt and gives a quick nod. "Dismissed, Lieutenant. And well done." And once the pilot has made his exit, the TACCO then he turns to relay the answer to Penta's question. "They say it behaves like any other knowledge, Ensign, and may fade with disuse. Apparently it is recorded from someone, as opposed to artificially generated." And then he relays the Marine's decision back to the Commander and Major. «Ensign Penta is volunteering to undergo the procedure as well.»

Penta nods, moving to sit down, ramrod straight, hands folded on his lap like a cherubic little boy.

Valloy takes up the device once more as Penta takes the seat. She takes aim at his eye exactly the same way that she had with elias while Chapman addresses Elias, «Now, your people explained that this mission of their was time sensitive. They indicated that your Cylons were a problem and that humanity was in grave danger in this sector. We've noted the nuclear damage to this Picon we are in orbit around..» This is where Penta can rapidly start to understand exactly what's being said by the. "However, we've noted there does not seem to be any combat and the outbound missions, with our limited scope, seem minor. One could say the same of Rally Point. Is this Picon very distant from the combat zone?"

Penta blinks, grabbing the table for a moment before resuming his normal posture. However, he lets Elias answer the question.

Elias studies the procedure as it is performed on Penta, giving the man a moment until it looks like the Ensign is understanding what is being said. Then he turns back to Chapman. "Mmmm," he makes a generally affirmative noise. "Picon was attacked and occupied by the Cylons. It was liberated some months ago. The most recent nuclear damage is from a strike the Cylons made while the Fleet was making an attack elsewhere." He pauses, mulling over the situation for a second. "We've largely driven their Fleet from Colonial space, at least temporarily. But there is heavy fighting on several planets where their ground forces remain. We need to secure these worlds and begin to rebuild if we're going to defend them successfully." Which leads into his own question. "What sort of support can we expect from your people, Commander? Can we expect combat vessels? Ground troops? Transport? What sort of numbers?"

Chapman and Valloy seem surprised by Elias' assessment. They look at each other, confused. "Our mistake, I suppose," Valloy begins. "We were under the impression you all were about to imminently be attacked or were under threat from the machines. If you've already driven off the Cylons then retaking your colonies, isn't that just a matter of time and effort? Surely with five billion people that's an accomplishable feat?" She seems unsure about this. Chapman continues, "We brought our single ship. If we request resupply or more resources to this sector, we'll need justification. Once we have something we can present to our senior staff, we can lobby for more support. But if your war is essentially over…" Should they be heading home?

Penta looks worried, and speaks up, in Arpayan. "The problem, sirs, is that of those billions, many are under Cylon Occupation. I don'

Penta looks worried, and speaks up, in Arpayan. "The problem, sirs, is that of those billions, many are under Cylon Occupation. I don't remember the preicse numbers for our evacuation point settlement or the freed territories on Picon, but our war is not over. The moment the Cylons see a slackening on our parts, they'll be back."

"That is not … entirely inaccurate," Elias says after considering how to phrase his response to Chapman and Valloy. He nods to confirm Penta's point, then adds a bit more. "Our counter-offensive has bought us some time. How much time, we're not certain. The best case scenario is that the Cylons are now in the same position we are — spread too thin to risk a major offensive. Then it becomes a race to rebuild. If they're significantly stronger than our current estimates …" Then they're in trouble. "There is also the possibility that the Cylons may encounter your Machines. We have information that indicates the Cylons are trying to back-track human colonization … to a planet we know as Erfrik."

Valloy and Chapman look to Penta, and then to Elias. They aren't so sure what their role here is at the moment and are trying to understand the strategic situation. Both are leaned forward. The last statement has them take long breaths and look at each other. Its the Arpay equivalent of 'Ohhhh shit,' that leaves Valloy's mouth. Chapman opens his briefcase finally and removes a datapad. He turns it on and begins tapping things with his finger while Valloy leans to the side on the arm of the chair. "We know Erfrik. Captain Eart came through our sector and we evacuated him and his colonists, sending them onward to safety. Major Gray, Erfrik is well inside Machine territory. Its a base of operations for them. If your Cylons go there, one of two things will happen in our experience: They will capture and assimilate your Cylons or they will attempt to destroy them. Neither of those situations are good. Do you have any way to contact the Cylons and warn them against this course of action?" Chapman slides the tablet face-up onto the table and suddenly there is a holographic image of the galaxy on the table. "Erfrik is here." Not -too- far from Cyrannus. But they already knew that. "The machines have never been through your space because they probably never found the need or haven't yet picked up on your signals."

Penta raises his eyebrows. "Contact the Cylons…?" As would have been said in a certain TV series of a certain age, Penta's brain is going 'I'm nooooot sure that's a good idea, Davey'

Elias manages a pained sort of smile when Valloy and Chapman adopt that expression of deep concern. There's a nod of recognition for the Eart expedition, and then he is brought to a full stop by the suggestion that they contact the Cylons. The TACCO's mouth tightens, and he needs a moment to consider this before making a response. "We can try," he says with no small amount of skepticism. Clearly he shares Penta's concerns here. "It is unlikely they will listen, but…" And again he needs to weigh the finer points before he adds, "… we can make the attempt." His gaze falls to the holographic image the Chapman displays, and Elias gives a slow nod. "Mmm." He studies the map for a moment before going on. "Assuming the Cylons encounter the Machines and learn about our Colonies, how long would it take them to travel here? Is their technology on par with yours?"

Valloy stands with Chapman. "Its in their best interest to listen to you. I can speak with them if you think they would be more inclined to listen to someone alien to them. But to be frank, if we can get them off the idea of going to Erfrik, I'm just going to advocate meeting them someplace and using fusion warhead mines as they arrive." The blonde is merciless. Damn. She is a little shorter than the others in the room so she lifts her hands and pulls the hologram down a few inches lower to ensure she can see it. Chapman defaults to her. "Difficult to say in this sector, sir. Erfrik is closer to the core, time moves slower. They've been using a new jump drive in the last few thousand years and trying to spread the tech. There's the natural slow progression near the gravity center of the core. They likely don't have it yet. So best guess, from the day they know where you are? Probably two weeks. They'll send a small scouting contingent first. When it reports back, they have protocols about how to reply. If it doesn't come back, they land in force. Usually about eight hundred capital ships to their standard massed landing. About half a percent of their overall strike capability."

Penta pales. Says nothing, just pales.

"Yes," Elias agrees. "I understand it is in their best interest, but I doubt they will believe us. Still … I will recommend the attempt." As for using the Arpay as negotiators, the TACCO is quick to shake his head. "It's possible they would have a … less unfavorable reaction to your people. But I'd rather they did not know you were here, if we can avoid it." He may have misgivings about giving the Cylons vital intel, but Elias has none of blowing them up with fusion mines, or anything else. So he simply nods for Valloy's proposal. The news about the machines leaves him grim-faced, but not surprised. He's already assumed meeting them would be a no-win scenario, and two weeks is two weeks. "Understood." A moment of grave silence, and then Elias continues. "And could we expect any support from your people, if that should happen?"

Chapman nods. "Strategic surprise would probably be in our interest. We have enough combat power to ruin a couple days. We've got most of a carrier strike wing on that ship." And enough guns to take out a bsestar, probably. The rest has them look at each other and shrug. "I mean, its possible, Major," Valloy picks up. "It really depends. If you want our help? Honestly, it would be best if the Sheens think this place is worthless to them. If they show up here and don't find much, just slivers of humanity confined to their dying planets, they'd probably just leave. They can come back any time in force and take this place out. Or just turn it into their personal playpen as they're won't to do sometimes. Depends on how your Cylons react at the meet-up and what happens there, though. The Sheens are the very definition of Super Predator. They will kill or subjugate anything that they think may pose a threat to their dominance."

Another thoughtful "Mmmm" is all Elias has to say for the Arpay ship's capabilities, as the notion with talking to the Cylons seems to have lead him on to another train of thought. He takes a deep breath, looking between Valloy and Chapman after he hears their advice for how to deal with a Machine encounter. "I see. So if we offer effective resistance, they'll respond with greater force. From the way you say that, it sounds as if your fleet doesn't … pose a threat to their dominance?"

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Valloy listens and slowwwwly nods. "If you provide enough overwhelming force to strike down what they send, they will send a massive response. For them it is wasteful to piecemeal a proportional response. They probe lightly and where they find resistance, they drop iron. In this way they can quietly take large volumes of the galaxy without provoking a shooting war in a sector. Over time they slowly move more ships in. Sometimes before humanity knows it, they have a sky full of Sheens. The first sign something is wrong is when a nuke flashes or a ship lands and their walkers step out." Valloy looks at the hologram, turning it slowly as she looks at it. Chapman picks up there. "Strategically? We pose no threat to them. They far outnumber us and we have no long term hope of taking them out. However the races of humanity that we have rescued are amassing a huge fleet that may be able to counterstrike. But thats in a different galaxy and we've not heard reports on it for some time. We go with what we have in front of us." he leans his palms on the table. "The way we fight is that we search for human worlds and we try to evacuate them or liberate them if they are in a remote area. We primarily fight delaying actions or lead them on assault paths down routes we know are empty. Thats why if you look at a map of occupied space, you see long slivers of control. We've led them around by the nose for a long time and they're a little pissed about that. But we really enjoy killing those fucks. The sound they make when one hit the ground is just pure pleasure."

Penta looks thoughtful. "So, you're saying killing Machines is like putting bugs in the microwave as a kid?" There's a grin there.

Commander Chapman waggles his hand in a familiar expression. Some things translate no matter where you go. "Play dead? Eh. And hope is never a plan. You want to just move combat assets out of the area. If they think these people are trapped, like I said, they may just leave. Evacuation, though?" The guy shakes his head. "There's roughly thirty billion humans left in the galaxy by best estimates. That just jumped to thirty-five. We don't have the logistical assets to move five billion people anytime soon. It would take a century or more. That's why we are here, now." Valloy nods in agreement. "We're here because we want to help you all fight. We can't abandon five billion people. What we need is evidence that you all are fighting and that this is a place worth fighting for. The Sheens are fighting all over this galaxy. They can't focus easily due to time dilation. Most of them are in the core. Jumping back there to get a large fleet assembled would take a long, very long time. But what they have outside the core could cause serious trouble. They don't have a lot in this sector that we know of. We're willing to stay and fight and get that evidence we need to call in real support and get your people out of here - who we can." Valloy speaks up again, "But we are not here to control your war. All we can do is advise. These are your homes. Emotional entanglement makes it ugly."

Penta looks thoughtful. "Y'know….I have been assuming that, like us, you travel at FTL speeds. And yet you mention time dilation. Isn't faster-than-light travel supposed to not be impacted by time dilation?"

"Well … I suppose knowing our five billion is not the last of humanity in the universe is … some consolation." Elias doesn't sound terribly heartened, but hey, it's something. He pauses to think things over, giving time for Penta to ask about the time dilation and the Arpay to respond. Then Elias nods for their willingness to fight. "If we can prevent the Cylons from attracting the Machines attention, we can at least do that. But I suspect we'll need more than your one ship. Unless it's … far more powerful than I can imagine. As for moving our population? If you can share your technology, we can build a fleet in less than a hundred years. I hope."

Valloy looks to Penta and shrugs. "It depends on your method of FTL travel. Typically, no, especially not folding space like your Erol uses. Or used. We are upgrading your ship to our standards. Your Captain Harris and the Master Chief stayed behind to document and assist." She turns the galaxy idly, no real purpose other than to look at it. "But time is effected by the force of gravity exerted on a location. Closer to the core, time moves slower. Much slower. So when you spend any amount of time closer to a gravity well, like the supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy, time dilates accordingly. So to answer your question, the answer is no it does not. But your arrival and any time spent in a location does. We don't use folding space the same way you do. Its far too unstable for long distance travel. We use temporary wormholes. Our journey across thirty thousand light years took us about twenty minutes. We said goodbye to our families a couple hours ago." Meanwhile Chapman looks to Elias, "Yeah. Our ship is a stopgap for recon and diplomatic exchanges. Doctor Jimenez is considered our diplomat for the trip and is evaluating everything by speaking with your Director of Medicine. I and Major Valloy would like to stay and fight but our ultimate mission here is dependant upon her judgments. But our ship does have significant combat power.. though it would not offset a large engagement, I suspect. Now we can share our technology, but you would need a massive logistical base to produce enough ships in that time. If you've been devastated by conflict, I'm not sure what we can do except make the case to Arpayan Fleet Command." But it will take evidence. They likely need to see active resistance.

Penta smiles grimly. Evidence, huh? He'll let Major Gray make the offer, but his idea is clear….and under five feet tall.

Elias listens with interest as the temporal effects of the galactic core are explained, then gives a careful nod. "Astrophysics is not my area of expertise. But that does explain the fact that our team has only been gone five days, from our perspective." Then the young Major's lips purse as he considers the information about Doctor Jimenez being key to their decision-making. "I see. I assume you'll relay our conversation to the Doctor?" Otherwise he may as well be making his case to her, instead. As for logistics, he's unconvinced, but also does not have the facts to make any real claims. "Some of our industrial base has survived … but it will take time to recover." Consider the implications of what the Commander has said, Elias adds, "And what would help convince your fleet command to send us assistance?"

Chapman nods slowly. "Yeah, the time dilation makes sense. Its why we are based on the edge of the galaxy. Seven weeks for five days? Happens all the time to us. We plan for it. Our society is shaped by it." The rest has him cross his arms and give a low smile. "Everything we talked about will be relayed. I'm the military leader for the venture, she's diplomatic. I enforce her decision, but her specialty is not strategic level planning. Her and I work together to make a decision. I've already made my thoughts known to you all." No sense repeating them. "As for evidence? We need to have anything you can give us. Documentation, hard drives, files, anything you're got. It'll be backed-up by personal testimonials from myself, Doctor Jimenez, and Major Valloy, as well as other crew. In other words, we need to be in the fight alongside you. Now… I've been notified a few of your crew are requesting elective surgical operations in order to take advantage of the same evolutionary developments we have made." He tilts his head forward. "If that is the case, we will give them access to our equipment that will also be used to record from within your own units, as well as enhance the individual Marine's effectiveness. That is optional, though. Jimenez will handle that integration should you all choose to allow it."

There's a note of vague relief when he's assured that everything will be relayed to their Doctor, as then Elias will not have to repeat this conversation with her as well. "Understood." And there's a quicker nod for the details of intel the Arpayans need to make their decision. "I doubt there will be an issue with giving you any records and data we have, or allowing you to interview our personnel, formally or informally." He pauses a second before adding, "As I expect you've noticed, I have no interest in trying to deceive you … or hide uncomfortable truths." Whatever fraks Elias may have had left when before he moved to TACCO, they've since run out. The issue of physical enhancement and recording does give the young Major pause, however. He doesn't seem concerned so much as thoughtful. "I assume this is some technology beyond audio-visual recording? Is it some sort of memory recording … similar to the razer?"

Chapman shakes his head. "No, nothing so spectacular. Standard recording equipment captured in digital storage. Sort of like, ah, a gun camera in a fighter. I'm assuming you have those. The gear our soldiers use interfaces through our ears. Pilots work similarly. It projects a heads up display into the brain, but it appears as visual within the eye. Our eyes have developed towards night vision and details at a distance, allowing us to pick out distant targets in a starfield or at night. Our ears have additional sensory input, helping with situational awareness. They aren't manual upgrades we designed ourselves, but natural evolutionary growths.." One side of his mouth gives a dark smile. "A development we fought wars over before we were forced to reign it in. We have given them before. But that's Jimenez's specialty. Likely she's already spoken to your Director of Medicine about the requests. I won't pretend to know details. But the footage captured will not hurt the case we need to present." Valloy lifts a hand off the table, speaking up, "However I want to reiterate the point that we do not look ill upon anyone for turning down anything we offer. In our time doing this we have learned to respect the paths each people have walked. We do not understand yours and we cannot expect you to immediately understand ours. So anything declined from us is done-so with respect until proven otherwise. We are here to offer help, not force it upon anyone."

"Mmm." Elias tips his head as he considers Chapman's explanation, then nods slowly. "It sounds like a subject our Doctor Nadir will … enjoy greatly. I'll need to clear it with her, and Command, but I expect that our personnel will be given permission to make that decision individually." And then Valloy's point is acknowledged with another nod. "Understood, Major." But this point leads the TACCO to take a few seconds and consider how to proceed with his next subject. "It does seem that you've developed a … fairly strong code of ethics about how and when to use your technology. Given what we've experienced in the last few years, I can certainly respect that. It also touches upon a point that you need to be made aware of, regarding our history. This may be something better discussed with Doctor Jimenez present, but I'm perfectly willing to do it now if you'd prefer."

Chapman chuckles lightly. "Major, they've already made the decision and signed the paperwork." He glances to Valloy, "Can I talk a moment?" She turns a bit red and laughs, muttering an apology. "Major Gray," he begins again, "they've already volunteered for the offer. Jimenez would not perform the surgeries requested until speaking with your own Doctors about it and gaining their permission. Your people cannot be co-opted because we happen to have them as a captive audience. You own a seat at your table as the head of it. We are joining at your invitation. So the decision is up to your people, not us. But we can deliver if that's your request." He seems sure about this. The point about ehtics has him nod slowly. "Tens of thousands of years, dozens of civilizations? We tend to have strong beliefs, yes," he laughs. "Go ahead. If its better for Jimenez, we'll direct you to her."

"Have they?" Elias hasn't heard about this agreement, though given the timing he doesn't seem to think anything of it. "My apologies, Commander. I hadn't been informed. I wasn't questioning your motives, simply trying to make it clear that authorizing … medical enhancements is not my decision to make." And given the go ahead to touch upon the other issue he's broached, Elias needs a few to consider how exactly to tell this tale.

"As I said earlier, most of our history was lost to us." Start at the beginning as he's experienced it, and go from there. "We had only vague, semi-mythical stories about our people fleeing a world we call Kobol, several thousand years ago. Since this war began, we've discovered more, but much of what we have now is pieced together, or from sources who's reliability I have no way to judge." Caveats given, he pushes on. "It appears that our Kobol was founded by one of the groups fleeing Erfrik, several thousand years ago. Another group seems to have established themselves on a world we know as Piraeus. At some point during this time — possibly even before they left Erfrik — these people took what they believed to be the twelve best of their people and … enhanced them. From what we've gathered, they meant for a race based on these twelve to become guardians for the rest of humanity. But somewhere along the way, things went wrong." Elias' lips compress into a tight line. "Somehow they ended up operating in numerical model lines — many duplicates of each of the twelve — numbered One through Twelve. They infiltrated our military and helped the Cylons destroy and subjugate our Colonies. We assumed they had been created by the Cylons for this purpose, and it wasn't until many months later that we learned the truth, primarily because some of them had remembered something of their original purpose and turned to our side. In time we were able to find a way to do this for the other Lines. We now have eleven of the twelve fighting alongside us. Only their former leader — model One, continues to work with the Cylons."

Chapman and Valloy seem fine with the apologies. Miscommunication. Other people make those decisions. But they stand on the other side of the table and listen. Both of them have a certain level of discomfort visible. There's even some suspicion, though the target of it remains unclear. Valloy steps away from the table and Chapman watches her a few seconds before looking back to the hologram of the galaxy. "Captain Kobol. Eart was right." That's Valloy who speaks first. Chapman nods slowly in agreement, then looks to Elias. "This is artificial life, but created from the best of humanity. They aided your enemy but now… you work with them. They are fighting alongside you." Valloy then turns to look at Elias. "By our strict code, they fall under rogue AI since they could be apparently tricked — or programmed." The Major returns to the table. "This is a first. But created by the - not Erfrik - Eart would have said something. They must have come from this Piraeus." Chapman nods and takes it from there, "That's troubling. Very. But you are indicating they have escaped their programming but fight with you… as originally intended. As protectors." He takes a long breath. "We are going to have to discuss this with Jimenez. Can we take your leave? And could you give us relevant files?"

Elias keeps a careful eye on the two Arpay officers, watching their reactions, but he doesn't alter his story even as discomfort and concern become evident. Their conclusion about the lines being artifical doesn't seem to convince him entirely. "Possibly. By our biological criteria, they're the same species we are — a human and one of the Lines have produced viable offspring." A fact he leaves out there for a second before addressing their other points. "Yes, that's correct," he confirms the facts Chapman repeats back. "They originally aided our enemy, until we came to understand them and how to re-awaken … who they were meant to be." There's no disputing the conclusion Valloy makes about the lines coming from Piraeus, but the question of classifying the Lines as AI does come under some question. "Yes, they did agree to voluntarily come over to our side, once they learned the truth. At no small cost to themselves. As for considering them 'programmable' … is your technology not capable of doing the same thing to a human, if you were so inclined?" There is no objection to the Arpayans taking time to discuss this among themselves, however, and Elias is quick to agree. "Of course. I will forward you all the information we have. And I can arrange for you to interview some of the Lines, if you wish. But our main source of information for them is on Piraeus. We can take you there to … examine it for yourseves as well."

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