MD# 233: Playing Against The House
Playing Against The House
Summary: Petra gets a visit from the last person he expected to show up.
Date: 17/11/2017 (OOC Date)
Related Logs: None
Petra Elias 
Battlestar Orion - Deck 2 - XO's Stateroom
The XO's Stateroom is not nearly the size of the Admiral's, but the allowance of personal space is not taken for granted. There is a small couch that has been pushed against the wall by the bed at the rear of the room. To the side are several lockers next to the entrance to the personal head and on the other is a desk against the wall.
Jun 14 2049

Its right about the middle of second watch, which means, relatively speaking, its getting late. People are gravitating towards an evening meal, the MPs in the hall are on half duty while the Admiral is off finding 'something that doesn't taste like godsdamned cardboard', and Petra has the hatch to his staateroom shut, the universal sign for 'if you knock, this better be good'. Paperwork and maps are scattered across the desk, his vest is untucked, and he's tapping away on his datapad, still trying to beat more meaning out of the old maps he's had forever. Yes, that's his third giant mug of coffee.

The first sign that Petra is no longer alone is fairly subtle, but may well trigger sense memories from long ago — the scent of cigarette smoke, acrid and musty. This is followed by the subtle feeling of another presence, as if a subordinate were waiting silently for Petra to finish what he's doing before claiming his attention. The visual doesn't come until the Commander actually looks up — it's out of the corner of his eye at first, the sort of thing the brain instinctively decides won't be there when you look directly. Except it is. There's a familiar young Captain, dressed in rumpled blues from the last war, standing at a loose attention. Elias Gray looks exactly like he did twenty years ago, shortly after Petra brought him aboard from Picon, in the dark days following the fall of the Colonies. When he realizes he has the XO's attention, Elias's only reaction is to quirk a thin smile.

The smoke stands out more than it would normally since neither the Admiral or the Commander do, but its still dismissed shortly. Pilots, amirite? Its the itching at the back of the neck that someone's waiting on him that furrows the brow and has him glancing up. He left the hatch closed, didnt he? Then the quick doubletake and Petra just stares for a moment, then blinks. There's a long, long silence before he remembers to swallow, and offers in a low voice, "Okay. I've either finally had too much coffee, or there's some movie quote I remember about you becoming more powerful than I could imagine. Gray?"

"Mmmm," Elias confirms his identity, but neither confirms nor denies his force-ghost status. "Sorry to surprise you, sir." Not very sorry. "But there's … no good way to do some things." The ghost from twenty-odd years ago remains patiently where he is. "Permission to come aboard, Commander?"

Petra sits back in his chair slowly while Elias speaks, and lightly shakes his head, "No, I suppose you couldnt exactly just give me a call. Pretty sure I don't give you orders any more either, but appreciate the guesture. There's…coffee. Cant say that I saved any of your smokes, though. What brings you out to the ass end of space we're hiding in?"

"Sadly, no," Elias confirms that there isn't any instant messaging from the Underworld. There's a glance toward the coffee, and a small shake of his head to decline. "No thank you. It smells like I remember though." He musters a faint smile for the lack of cigarettes, then gets down to the point. "Where you are, sir, is lost." There's a clear sense that Elias is choosing his words carefully. "But as they say, it's the journey not the destination. And you won't be lost forever."

Petra mmms softly, more of a grunt than any sort of sound of musing, "I would have said 'flailing around in desperation', but 'lost' is more succinct, sure. As for the rest, well, you're right. Eventually we'll be dead - the question mark is 'are we going to find something to stop the Skath before that happens?' Unless we turn the colonies into an absol;utely gigantic gypsy drifter fleet, we can't just keep running. If you know something you can relay that will provide some insight, I'd be quite happy to hear it. You always had pretty good ideas, and that was while you were still smoking like a furnace." He smiles just a little at that, and links his hands together across his stomach.

Elias listens closely to what Petra has to say, then gives the Commander an understanding nod. "It may feel like flailing. As you said, you can't defeat the Skath right now. So discovery is a necessary step. What's important is that you don't give up. Not that I have any doubts on that score, sir." The man moves towards the desk at an unhurried pace and scans the maps and charts Petra was working on. "And I'm … hesitant to try and give advice." He frowns faintly and clarifies that to, "or at least, specific advice. I could offer a few possibilities? What you /choose/ to do, sir, is the important part."

Petra mmms, "I suppose I'm hoping you know something I don't, considering your…status. Not that I don't value your opinions on things…you've always provided a viewpoint I hadn't considered. Right now it just feels like we're flying very blind and acting on little more than faith, and you know how much I like depending on faith. But yeah, giving up isn't really something I'll do, even if the Skath showed up right now and surrounded us and took out our drives, I'd be trying to consider how to ram their flagship in such a way that we'd still give the rest of the fleet enough time to run." He stops there to purse his lips, sucking on a tooth for a moment, then nods, "So if you DO know something, feel free to share. I think we're waiting to see how this strike goes on Golf and if we bring back any new friends. If that blows up in our faces, our best lead right now dies out."

"Being dead isn't what I thought it would be," Elias admits with a ghost of a smile. "There are things I literally can't explain, and things that wouldn't make sense even if I tried." Then there's an understanding nod for the upcoming mission. "I can't say that I miss ordering good people to do things like that. How many times did we have to rely on ridiculously long odds? This all /should/ have ended long ago. And yet, here you are." Elias straightens up from the desk. "Beating those odds? That's what really convinced the Cylons, I think. That's why they've done what they've done so far. They worked closely with One, even modified his memory. He gave them Skath designs and technology. They're still a potential resource, sir."

Petra starts to say something, then stops and furrows his brows for a moment. He's quiet, then asks, "When we left Cyrannus, they specifically mentioned our armistice agreement was done. They are in worse shape than we are. Im going to have to be pretty godsdamned convincing to get them to help us with anything at all at this point. You have that much faith in me?" He smirks a little at that, and again considers for a moment, "I was going to take on a couple of rescue strikes back at home to grab more people and take them to Pitchfork. If we're going to be in the area, we can try reaching out to the Cylons again and see if they've reconsidered their 'we're done with you' stance from before."

Elias listens to the story of what happened back in the Colonies with the Cylons, then makes a neutral sound. "Mmm." He weighs the matter for a moment before responding. "My guess would be that the Cylons were upholding their agreement with the Colonial government. If they agreed to fight with the Colonies against the Skath, and they considered you Colonial forces, they may have felt bound to assist you. But once you left the Colonies, that deal was off." He's thinking aloud more than offering conclusions here. "But the reason I used to try and convince them to help in the first place remains. The Colonials, including this ship and the people on it, /can/ beat the odds. The Cylons have seen that first hand. And it doesn't sound like they have much of a chance against the Skath themselves." All that said, he leaves the ball in Petra's court. "You asked for my recommendations, sir. You need information. The Cylons might have it. The decision is yours."

Petra reaches up to rub at his face with one hand, then murmurs, "You know, they've either given you an absolutely crappy retirement plan, or I owe you a lot more than I have any remote chance of ever paying you back for. Unless I have your job to take over after I finally bite the big one." An amused look touches his face, but he nods slowly, "Well, Im pretty sure they wont just open fire at us for saying 'hey, we'd like to talk', so what can it hurt? I'll just have to be very careful who I take with me. And maybe shouldnt mention how we've started waking up some of the downloaded Lines."

Elias opens his mouth to say something in response to Petra, but no words come out. That faint smile, extra dry, reappears on his face, and he clears his throat. "There's a … cost associated with appearing like this, but it's not something I can explain, and it is definitely not something you owe me for, sir." In life the man was focused, confident in his judgment, determined. But at peace with himself? No one would have said that of Elias Gray. Now his smile is touched with an uncharacteristic satisfaction. "I owe you. We all do. I can't express what it means that you're still out here fighting this war. Suffering and enduring. To have the chance to talk with you, one more time, is an honor." That Lines are another subject entirely, and one that causes the man's mouth to tighten. "The Lines. I'm may not be the right person to give advice on that score. I certainly didn't do them any favors when I was alive. But I believe you and Admiral Jameson were right. Seeing them as people. Trusting them. It was the only way, sir. We never would have beaten the Cylons without their sacrifice. That may be the case again."

Petra rumbles softly, "You said it yourself. We've been playing long odds and succeeding. The thing with playing the house too long is that the house always wins. We survive this, I ought to open a damned casino." He takes a moment and straightens up in his chair, pursing his lips and nodding once, regaining a little seriousness, "I don't like gambling with our future like this, but it seems like that's the only way we aren't constantly getting mowed over. Alright. We'll see how our luck holds up, and for what its worth, I hope this isnt the last time you and I talk, but if it is, I appreciate everything you've done from the other side, as it were."

Elias looks faintly amused, even if his response is spoken in earnest. "When there is no other choice, you take the chances you're forced to take and hope for the best. But I believe there's a reason you've been able to beat the odds, and I don't think that reason is to get rich quick. Sir." Then he gives a small nod. "I haven't actually done anything. Just offered a few words. The doing is up to you now. But I do have faith in you. We all do. Billions and billions of those gone by. You may not beat the Skath today, or tomorrow, or next year, but as long as you keep up the fight, there's still chance."

Petra murmurs wryly, "Well, if I frak this up, I guess I have a billion pairs of disappointed eyes waiting for me, right?" With that said, he slowly rises to his feet with a grunt, and straightens up, pausing to tuck the blues vest closed and actually LOOK halfway presentable, "M'not going anywhere, and for Ares' sake, they have certainly taken enough shots at us to try and stop us. We'll do this. One big frikkin step at a time." He pauses there, eyes the hatch, then looks at Elias, "And if the MP outside hears me talking to myself for too much longer, he's gonna tell Robin Im finally losing it."

"No," Elias answers Petra's wry comment with an unusually kindly tone. "You won't." Then he steps back as the Commander rises, giving a slow nod as he seems to be dismissed. "There's one more thing I need to tell you, sir. Something is coming. A … question." He seems to have a little difficulty choosing that word, but sticks to it. "A question each of you will need to answer for yourselves." The way he speaks of it, it sounds more profound than some verbal Q&A. "Remember where you've been," Elias urges, "And remember that determination to keep going, sir." The young Captain half-turns, as if he's going to simply follow Petra out the hatch and down the corridor. "Oh, and if you do see the Cylons?" Right after delivering that warning, Elias seems to be following it with some sort of joke, "Tell them 'I did not appear here through quantum entanglement.'"

Petra grunts again, pausing before he offers, "Well, wouldnt be the first time we've been faced with something like that. We'll handle it when it happens and make the best decision we think we can make when it does. As for the entanglement…" He smirks, "The Cylons know me and Im willing to bet they know I don't even understand what quantum entanglement is. But I'll make sure they get that message. Thank you, Elias." With that said, he lightly taps his knuckles on the edge of hte desk and takes in a deep breath, letting it go, "Guess I gotta get some stuff prepped about returning to colonial space and the Cylons."

"I think this may be unlike anything you've ever faced before," Elias advises, but he doesn't seem concerned about Petra facing it when and if it comes. Then that wan smile returns to his face, and the Captain nods. "It's part of something the Cylons told me, once upon a time. You can prove you've spoken to me, if necessary. I don't know how much you want to tell them." And then he adds a small nod for the thanks. "You're welcome, sir. Good luck." Did Petra even look down for a split second while rapping on the desk, or did Elias just vanish in the literal blink of an eye? Either way, the ghost is gone. There's a whiff of cigarette smoke in the air that lingers a moment longer, and then nothing more.

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