ALT #302: So Many Questions
So Many Questions
Summary: Samtara meets with the Wests to discuss research possibilities to better organize efforts and knowledge of Cylons and their activities.
Date: 04/11/2013 (OOC Date)
Related Logs: None?
Samtara West Quorra 
Map Room, Deck 2, Battlestar Orion
Dominating the room is the large bottom-lit map table in the very center. Ten feet across and eight feet the other way, the table can gather a large number of people around it while still accommodating enlisted and support personnel in the small riser seating behind the table. The risers are done in single-piece desk sections that run the width of the seating area and have small reporting displays built into them along with communications ports for headphones. At the head of the room are two very large LED displays that can have almost anything put on them, including projections of what is on the map table. A single computer at the support seating controls this and in the rear of the room is a large, locked case that holds maps and table models.
November 4th, 2005

While not normally a visitor to the Map Room, every once in a while Nadir takes the most recent set of file's she's working with and takes a turn at the maps to update her data. specifically, Cylon studies 101. With a tall, very tall, insulated thermos of coffee to her right and the stack of files to her left, Sam is searching through specific reports along with other projects.

Courtesy of Elias, the Map Room has turned into something of the smoking lounge, and so West is filling his pipe with fumara weed as he enters, then pulls out a matchbox to tamp it down and light it. "Good evening, Doctor." he says, as he comes in, "You wanted to see me?"

Quorra shows up at the map room just moments after Seneca does looking amazingly good considering the revelries of the previous evening. By all accounts she should look hungover but nope, not a sign of it. "Doctor, Captain," she greets her fellow officers with a smile.

Sam narrows her eyes subtly at Seneca, "I see that Elias's preferences for cancer causing substances is more popular than I thought, it looks like my campaign will have to be more widespread than I'd originally projected," she muses before she shakes off the smoking-thing and smiles at the West's. "Thank you both for coming," she says, "coffee?" she offers, pointing to the thermos she'd brought with. "I've some dark roast that I'm carefully parcelling out," she adds. "Before we dive into it, let me thank you both again for the wonderful party that you organized yesterday."

West sits down on one of the chairs, under one of the air vents, and lights his pipe, "With due respect, doctor, at the moment our life expectancy makes cancer a very distant risk. The chance of cylons blowing us to bits are of much greater concern." He crosses his legs and rests his elbow on his upraised knee. "Coffee would be lovely, thank you. And the party was very entertaining. I was pleased to have been involved."

"It was my pleasure." Quorra sits down beside the engineer. "But it wouldn't have been a success without all the party-goers who showed their sense of fun and community." She politely declines the offer of coffee, and does not direct any critical looks her husband's way when his tobacco consumption is targeted, actually smiling to herself instead.

"It's still unhealthy," Sam chides, though isn't obnoxious about it, just frank, as she pours some of the very dark very strong coffee into a cup and slides it toward Seneca. "Some say that a good scotch is the water of life, I say that coffee that's strong enough to stand up without the benefit of a cup to hold it in place is really the breath of life." She smiles at Quorra, "It was nice to see any large social event go off without having any broken bones to tend to after ward. Oh, sure, the usual mess of hangovers to address but that's normal." She tops off her own cup and sets the thermos, cap secured to ensure that nothing spills, "So, I have actually two questions for both of you, well one for each, actually."

West takes a somewhat defiant puff, and then exhales, before accepting the cup of coffee and raising it in salute, then taking a sip. "Very good!" he comments, then takes a slightly larger sip, "The engineering style of coffee involves something you can stand a spoon up in. Then again, a watch of staring at gauges is fairly boring. Anyway, questions? Do ask, Doctor."

"For one," Sam wonders, aiming it first to Seneca, "I know that the deck and engineering have been working on several projects related to the Cylon's, well the Centurions - the walking metal ones - to be more precise. The jacked and the skinjobs are as much my bailiwick as everyone's, but that's neither here nor there at the . . well actually we'll talk about the jacked in a moment. You're aware of the pertinent details we know about the jacked yes?" she says before pressing on. "If we were able to get ahold of a centurions processing unit - which, I'm hoping, is stored in the head-appendage and not the feet or chest or some other section of the metal casing - would it be possible to hook just THAT up to a computer that is entirely non-networked, have it in some sort of Faraday cage so that it couldn't bounce out signals or maybe just pout it down in the middle of the woods with a solar panel for charging and supply. Er, I digress. But would it be possible, in theory, to hook it up and recover any local files stored on it's individual memory? Even if all we could do was pull the last commands it'd been given or the last tactical over lay, wouldn't it be better than nothing? And as we don't need the 'body' of the chassis just the processing section, it'd be safer than trying to power one down and then hack it, right?"

"Anything is possible in theory, Doctor. But we have barely scratched the surface of cylon research. I haven't even really /started/ yet. And I'm not entirely sure that if I had any information, I'd be authorized to share it outside of those involved in my particular project." West puts the coffee down and leans back with his arms crossed, puffing his pipe meditatively for a few moments. He resumes, "As you noted, for example, we don't even know where the CPU, so to speak, of a cylon is located. Not to mention that we actually have to disable and capture a 'living' chromejob to go with this little stunt. Theoretically? Yes, it's possible. Practical? Not without a lot more fundamental research."

Quorra listens attentively at the discussion concerning centurion-model cylons and possibilities for research. Her eyes flicker in a hint at unspoken thought despite the subject matter not falling within her area of expertise. She looks between the doctor and engineer as she listens.

"What I know about electrical engineering would fill a thimble," Sam admits quite candidly, "but that doesn't mean I'm not curious. THough as far as I know I'm cleared for anything related to Cylon research but I'll check with Elias just in case. That being said," She lifts her cup to take a slow drink of the contents, considering, "why is it that we can't build a EMP device that'll short circuit the metal type Centurions even if it's just for a few precious moments the precious moments would count." She pauses then asks, "And another question, the marines shoot up plenty of them, we could request they bring back segments that aren't destroyed until we have enough pieces to assemble one entire metal cylon without actually doing so."

"We have to know more about them first. I admire your aggression, Doctor, and I think these are paths we have to go down eventually, but for right now, the projects I've been asked to explore are things that were started before the war began." West explains, tapping the stem of his pipe against his lower lip.

"What would the ultimate purpose be of what you propose?" Quorra inquires, furrowing her brow and rolling in her lower lip. "What would you do with a cylon sample if you had one?"

"Have you had chance to speak with Sgt. Knox on this issue?" Sam wonders of Seneca, "I don't know what he does or does not know of the actual manufacturing behind these metal centurions, I gather that they've made some significant leaps in evolution from the ones that we created to the ones who are walking around now." Sam rubs at the back of her neck with one hand before shifting her focus to Quorra, "Would you be able to discern precisely what their metal alloy is comprised of?" she wonders before answering. "To defeat it, we have to know how it works. Knowing how it works tells us what it's weaknesses are. Once we know it's weaknesses on individual model by model scale we can make a weapon large enough to take down whole regiments of them. The only way to win is to make sure that the enemy can't ever, ever, get back up and fight in the future. The only way to win is to win the war and all future wars. We humans invented war, we humans invented murder, so we humans have to invent the end-game solution to this thing. Which," and she rests one hand on the cup of coffee in front of her, "brings me to back to my original question that I had for you," she admits to Quorra. "Can you take a look at the maps of the known areas that the Cylon's have been using for prison camps and determine fi there's any specific mineral compounds in the surrounding terrain that matches the terrain on other planets that they're using with prison camps? It may help us know why they're running prison camps in the first place. Not just because they need humans to walk around in as puppets."

"That's a rather bloodthirsty philosophy, for a medical woman, Doctor." West observes, with a frown, "The cycle of eternity, damned as a race to forever repeat our own mistakes. Perhaps this time, it will be different, and we will learn." He tamps down the fumara in his pipe and puffs it alive again as he considers, "There are some options. We have information regarding a few new weapons systems that we might be able to put into production, but they will take a lot of work. As far as the Centurions, there have been marked advances in capability, as far as we can tell, from the First War to now, matching or exceeding our own advances in the same technological areas."

"I'd have to have a sample for analysis in order to determine what the composition of a cylon shell was," Quorra replies. "To hypothesize in the absence of such tests I'd have to have a great deal of information about how the metal is known to respond when treated in various ways - i.e. when subjected to heat at what temperature does it melt." She knits her brow again when Sam mentions maps and prison camps. "Again, I would need a sample of the ground. Whatever I could determine based on topographical maps of an area alone would be an extremely loose educated guess." She pauses and takes a deep breath and says, speaking quite slowly and looking between the physician and the engineer, "This is just my personal opinion…but the most important question to answer about the cylons is what *are* they. They cannot be machines, based on what I see as the evidence. And if they are not machines, Doctor, then what you propose would be genocide."

"By the data to date, there is only one animal in the Galaxy dangerous to man — man himself. So he must supply his own indispensable competition. He has no enemy to help him." Sam quotes this rather quietly. "Barring the number of deaths due to disease, pestilence, bacteria and mischance and old age.. War is the next biggest killer and War is nothing more than murder - writ large. We made our own worst enemy, we did this. We did this to ourselves." She turns slightly then to nodding slowly at Quorra, "So, we need soil samples. As to what they are, yes, that is a very good question isn't it," she agrees.

"We made them. They are machines. Can machines be alive? I suppose that's the question you're asking, and it's a dangerous one. But the practicalities are no different than if other men were trying to kill us - we shoot them before they shoot us. Because if it's him or me, I want it to be him. You know as well as I do, Doctor - when it comes to survival, our most basic instinct is that we be the ones to survive." West puffs the pipe one last time, and says, "Anyway, I will let you know if I come up with anything. For right now, I'm not even certain we have any Centurions to study."

"Defending ourselves is not the same as the total eradication of a sentient species," says Quorra matter-of-factly. "Don't get me wrong - all my known family are dead as a result of this conflict the same as for most of us. I will not associate with so-called 'skinjobs' no matter who clears them or vouches for them. They are not allies in my eyes and CIC doesn't control my thought, they can't force me to accept them." A distinct edge of bitterness creeps into her demeanor as she says this. "But that does not mean I will work to obliterate creatures that show signs of being sentient and possibly sapient."

"Discerning their weaknesses and resource needs is not, necessarily, the same as eradicating them. Knowing that we have the ability to destroy them just as they've demonstrated their ability to destroy us may well be the only thing to bring any of us to a table to negotiate terms," Sam says in a voice that is quiet, calm and blunt. "I'm not in charge of Colonial operations with regard to the war effort. My job is to give as much information as possible to those who are in charge and, once having donce so, hope that those in charge have the good grasp of right and wrong to make the sort of decision that will not shame all of what's left of humanity when the dust settles. We need to know how to fight better. Do you have any idea how many death certificates I've signed, personally, since this war started?" she wonders, her voice quiet once again. "Our marines need to be able to fight back with better weapons, better equipment, better gear. I don't know if we're winning or losing this war, but I don't think we're winning it. These are questions that I don't have answers too, just a handful of many in fact. I'd like to find the answers to these questions to add to that which I'm constantly building for Gray. That's all I'm asking."

"Considering we've been all but thrown out of the Twelve Colonies, I should think the answer readily apparent." West responds, drolly. He sighs and pinches the bridge of his nose, "When I know something, as I said, I'm sure you'll know about it. All we have right now is supposition, half-finished experiments, a few prototypes, and that's it. These are all good ideas, Doctor, and I'm not saying they don't have their place, I'm just saying we need time. And while the best guns might not win the war, they're nice to have."

"You said you had *not* talked to Knox to find out what he knows about the make-up of centurion models?" Quorra seeks clarification from Sam. "Would someone care to…volunteer…for that task?" She clears her throat and immediately adopts the «Not 'It'!!» expression. "I'd be happy to analyze samples of anything brought to me, whether it's centurion parts or soil samples from prison camp sites. But the reason for the choice of locations could be so many different possibilities, I wouldn't limit myself to assuming it had anything to do with obtaining raw materials for their construction. For instance, I'd be more interested in knowing what prisoners are being made to do and then go from there. Do we have some sort of proof that they're being used as slave labor in mines?"

"Since when do we need to tell the enemy that they've won, right?" Sam says with a slow shake of her head before she finishes the second or fourth cup of coffee, she's lost count somewhere along the way, with another nod at Seneca. "The best weapon is the one that we never have to use that we have, ready to fire, just in case we have to." She curls both hands around the now empty cup even as she nods, "Yes. Some of the soldiers that have been liberated from the prison camps report instances of slave labor. The extent of, unfortunately, I have not personally inquired into. I'll make that next on my list and yes." She even nods at Quorra, a quiet chuckle shared, "I'll be sure to ask Knox if he can give any pertinent details about the Metal Centurion models. I don't think that his line, or maybe just Knox himself, has spent exhaustive time with the metal copies but I'll ask. I always come into these talks hoping I'll have more answers when I come out. I think what I've done is refined my questions this time around, and thank you both for taking the time out of the day's watch to work on this. We need to know more and I feel like we're barely scratching the very edge of the tip of the iceberg."

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