AWD #019: The Long Road Home
The Long Road Home
Summary: Knox wakes up Ceres to discuss life, love, defection, and their future. And their past.
Date: 25/1/2013
Related Logs: Cylon Lawgs
Knox Ceres 
Big Grassy Knowl
No second gunmen here, just cylons.
AWD #19

With the need to get personnel trained and the request from Zach about the SERE training, Knox wanted to talk to an experienced Viper Captain. Grab a FAV and head off into the woods to find a place nearby to run the exercise. At least its a nice day outside. The Sergeant has on the required helmet and his sunglasses, his combat vest over a blue t-shirt. The rifle in the backseat is there Just In Case, but is mostly forgotten. After driving about thirty miles, it being hard to talk over the wind and rough terrain, Knox gets them out to a ridge he'd identified on a map. He pulls the vehicle to a stop and slowly unbuckles, smiling up to the sun. It feels fantastic after months of cold. "How's this area look?" he offers.

Pushing herself up and out, Ceres climbs to her feet and lifs her hand to shield her eyes. She's come without shades, dressed in her fatigues with that coin of Zeus kicking it around her chest with her dogtags. Its heavier, and its a presence, but it seems she has gotten used to its weight. Daniel Talkshow Aios. She fixes it unconsciously and then takes a few steps out to get a better look, turning around with a slight part in her lips. "Looks pretty decent, Sergeant." She admits. Her hands go to hips and she casually turns further.

The Sergeant walks around the front of the FAV casually and nods, taking off his helmet. Its settled on the light rack as he looks around. The man apparently is out here for a legitimate reason, too. But he steps up to her, "Sir?" and motions to her shirt as if something were on it. Grabbing the attention of her eyes, he looks back into hers and speaks the line: "Look me in the eyes and tell me of the nine lives of this cat." He waits, calm and cool.

"Yes, Sergeant," Ceres starts, turning to look at him. She looks down at her shirt and then up into his eyes. Its that moment before the fall, when everything flashes before your eyes an you forget to breathe. It takes her a second but feels like a lifetime. Behind that false life is nine, unable to rage, unable to mourn and yet seeing it all. She knows. And now she wakes to the full extent of first loss and frustration. Her hand goes to that coin at her neck, as if touching it for the first time. She strains, pulls at it and yanks it free, the chain snapping with that extreme strength. For a moment its just rage and she flings the thing far, skipping it across the ground til it stops in some scrub brush. Nine breathes heavily for a moment, playing off her rage before a sound of pain draws out of her throat before she paces away, her hands lifting to her head. "No…….NOOOO!!!!!" She screams.

Coop watches this all, somewhat expecting it. The chain sails away and he notes the location before looking back at her. Yep, this is why he brought her out here. He doesn't yell back at her or anything, though. No admonition. Coop just steps up behind her and places a hand on her shoulder. "Hey," the man says gently. "Hurts, doesn't it?"

A sob leaves her and nine tenses when he touches her. She turns, throwing his hand off. "The frak you know….your pretty faced human is still with you." She grumbles at him and wipes at her eyes. "I visited him, in his dreams….a few nights before it happened. He wanted to work it out with me. Damn frakking woman ruining something that was good for her. Why?! Why the hell do they frak it up?" Because when she's Ceres she's human. She starts to tremble and that is when the tears come. Her anger is there, but its had its moment. Now? Now she cries over her loss. Her one reason.

Knox doesn't fight the throw off. The part about Afton gets a sigh, though. She's right. But the mention of the dreams has his eyes drop as he takes off the sunglasses. "Imperfect beings, Ceres," he whispers. The guy takes a step closer to give her a hug. "Its alright. I've cried over people I've lost, too. There's no shame in it. He was good to you?"

"Good to me?" Ceres stares at him as if he doesn't understand. "he was my reason for helping them, for wanting to be here." Now that may have changed and she doesn't accept the hug, not at first. Her face contorts with such pain. "I have never felt like this..I hate how it makes me weak but its the only way I know to mourn now….I…" Tears spill free and she presses in closer to Knox, leaning into him and bowing her head.

Coop gives her an understanding nod. She responds to her cover name, though, and there's more sympathy. "You're mourning, Ceres. That's already a step. It doesn't make you weak, though." The Marine puts his arm around her again as she leans into him. "Emotions are what make them strong. Its what we forgot to have, Ceres," he whispers. "You're dealing with what it is to be human. I'm sorry this has to hurt like this." He leans his head to hers, comforting his sister.

"I loved him….damn her. She realized too late and cost us Daniel." Nine growls heavily and shakes him off again. She turns to rage again, something she is familiar with. "And this new interest. It means nothing. He wants her to forget about Daniel and I will not have it. She must nto forget, promise me she will not forget or do not put me to sleep." This last is said while rounding on him, pointing a finger. "You could have saved should have woken me. I could have prevented this."

Loved him. Strong words. Knox nods carefully, but says nothing. Hands go into his pockets as he watches the Nine round. "There's not a godsdamned thing you could have done to save him, Ceres," he says quietly. "Its combat. I've lost three close friends to it. Its just shitty luck, that's all it is." He glances off and then back. "'She', who? Ceres? Or Nine? Who means more to you now?" Careful question asked, but there's no GOTCHA! implications. Just something for her to consider.

"Yes, you have, but you still have her. Not to mention you have the ability to show her you…I did not have that luxury. Once. One projection that is all. What I could have been to him. ME. Not some frakked up woman who can't get over her daddy complex." She lets out a breath, a huff and wipes at her face, composing herself quickly. This has her turning, stalking off to find the coin she threw. Obviously that was an outburst.

The Marine nods. He turns to follow her, but doesn't keep pace with her stalking. The guy takes off his own tags and begins unhooking the ballchain clasp. "You're beginning to understand." He looks down as he unhooks it and slips his tags off. "Its not easy to be a simple spectator to this life, is it? You see them go through their lives, you start to care. You understand now why I am glad I never had to sleep, yes?" Knox holds the chain out for her to take.

Finding the coin, she doesn't turn to him when he speaks, rather she dusts off that coin, holding it in her hand carefully. Her lips press to a line and she frowns further. "He was all I cared about…all. He was the reason they even meant anything to me and he's gone. Wasted. Lost. He is not a copy like us…there was only ever one and that loss? Its unfathomable. Have we forgotten what its like to truly die? We don't know what loss is and its…its too hard to handle. How do they do it? How are they surviving now? Their lives…blown apart. Loved ones lost or gone…" She reaches out for that chain, taking it carefully. "Are they stupid and blind? Do they not care?"

Knox listens, nodding again. "We have, Ceres. We've forgotten everything. But you and I? We're remembering. We're losing the people we love, sister. These people that have nothing left but each other? They've lost their families, homes, material possessions, and anything that wasn't bolted down." Coop swallows. "I lost a frakking lot of my friends too, man." His own eyes glass but he bites his jaw closed and blinks it away. "We- THEY don't keep fighting because they don't care. They fight because the care too much. Machines calculate odds. Function on percentages. These people are fighting, Ceres, because their loved ones would want them to. We know what its like to lose and die, Ceres." Knox sighs sadly. "Our people aren't even human. Look at what the hell we've done to these people. Look at what we've done to ourselves- you and I."

She threads that coin back onto its chain and then holds it in the palm of her hands. Its not Daniel and it is and she clutches, feeling the coin bit into her palm and fingers. Eyes close and tears well again but they do not fall so freely now. "Fools…sentimental fools…I feel..debilitated…I feel lost without him." She breathes in and out and yet there was all that rage before too. Its still there, simmmering below the surface as she stares at the coin, running her thumb to it. "I have my missions…what I am to do. But this is what I wanted for myself. Him." She breathes and then lifts her head, looking out over Piraeus. "Here, I had a chance and it was still taken from me…by…" By her people. She turns about, looking over the planet, weighing something silently. Perhaps it is the worth of the coin she weighs..or something far greater.

"That's because you're remembering, Ceres. Don't fight it. This can and will make you stronger. That coin?" Knox watches her look out over the planet. "That's your center. Remember it. Here, we have a chance. Our real missions? Were to be able to live forever." He steps around her. "Look at at what the frak we've done with that gift! We participated in the genocide of humanity here. All those souls. The billions of people. The ones who loved, just like you love Daniel. Think about every one of those women who lost their loved one. Who the hell is the enemy? …How the hell could we have done this? Our people are not human. They're not even strangely resembling human. They're monsters, Ceres."

"And yes, we are monsters too," she levels her eyes on him. "What did we do to stop this? Nothing. I slept. I figure you will likely put me back to sleep and stow me away. What purpose do you have for waking me other than the ability to mourn on my own without her involved?" Of course Nine and Ceres both mourn and mounred Daniel. It is their connection, it is the trigger for what Nine has become. That connection to humanity and its severed in a large way. Revenge bubbles up slowly in its place. "We have to stop this. We must stop this." She insists and grips the coin tightly. "I want to tear those basestars from the sky, watch them tear apart and burn while their fires are quieted and swallowed by the vacumn of space. Death knocks and we answer."

Knox might smile. Heck, the guy has good cause. But he doesn't smile. "We are as much monsters as we live to be, Ceres," he says quietly. "I am a Marine because that is who I choose to be. You are a pilot because that is who you choose to be, by act of sleep. We make these decisions as our own beings, not as part of a collective or nest any longer. What did we do to stop this?" Coop lifts his brow. "I may have saved our souls with these people, Ceres. I wrote letters. The letters went to Admirals. We may have saved tens of thousands of people. We are who we choose to be." Coop looks her over, then back to her face. "They've tried to take our humanity, Ceres. By these acts they are trying to remind us that we are more than human. Somehow, some way, we are a twisted offshoot. What they don't realize is that we are stronger for our lives and connection."

"They are trying to control, not remind us. We were given a chance here, I realize this but part of me is still too bitter to take it. I have lost my drive and will to live. This foolish attempt at fun for her…I do not understand it. She leads him on, perhaps in hopes of feeling what we did for Daniel." Nine's obvious distaste is evident. "My want at this point is revenge…" She lifts her burned left hand, now in moderate working condition. "I will fly again. I will cut through their fighters and claim something for Daniel even after his death. But we do none of that and I sit and each day grow more certain I will not have the chance I want. I want a chance."

"Ceres," Knox says more forcefully. "Stop it. You talk about her like she is some foreign being." He steps closer. "She is not. This personality that you watch and that sleeps? She is apart of you. You are feeling these emotions. You are connecting with her life. She's not required to be some proto-personality any more than you have to be a genocidal monster. You choose. Don't forget Daniel. But the time is coming where you may need to make a decision about how you want to be left." He keeps his eyes focused on hers. "You'll have your revenge. Petra and Shepard are working on it. I spoke with both of them tonight. But you must be patient."

Giving him a scathing look, Nine turns on him and straightens up staying utterly silent for a time. "You are not asleep. There is a distinct difference between us. She gets to live and I get to watch and hope that I have some choice in what she does. Sometimes, I do. Most times I do not." But she goes quiet, looking to that coin and feeling the pain again. "I will bide my time." Yes, she will. Ceres looks up to him then. "Is that all you wished to say to me? Is it time for me to be shuttered away again?" There is a bitterness to her turn as her head turns and looks over the land. "She is so fortunate. So much for her."

"You asked to sleep. You are experiencing all of the pain, humiliation, pride, and joy of being human, Ceres. Sleep is not necessarily a curse." Coop doesn't get angry, though. "Cool your jets, because I have more to say. I woke you up because there are two important things you need to be aware of. First, I've identified myself to the Colonel. Your boss, Major Shepard, knows as well. I'm working with them and so far they trust me. I haven't told them the extent of the truth but am letting them go thus far on their own. However, it will probably not be long before I am identified by the larger crew. Possibly even you could be outted soon." So that's what he meant. "Second, there is a third member of our kind here. Another female. She is awake. I don't know her model number, though. I've spoken to her and I know she's already feeling the effects. The exposure here and our kind questions themselves. But she knows who I am. I do not know if she has identified you yet."

Ceres quiets, rather nine does and she watches him, listening. "You did what…." Her voice catches, surprise evident as part of her still given over to their mission rises up. But then her lips part and she stares at him. "What do you expect will become of us? They will dump us out an airlock and I will be asleep." Her head tilts and Ceres considers him, shaking her head. "either you were smart in sharing or you were a fool and it seem its yet to be seen. What does this female look like? Wait." She thinks a moment, sharing the memories with her other half. "Two?" She isn't sure. Slowly there is a sick look on her face ands he moves about, holding that coin against her.

"I suspect I was not a fool. We've built trust enough that they have not seen fit to kill me or even arrest me. They don't press the points, either. For now it would appear that we have an uneasy alliance. We both want the same things." Coop keeps his eyes on her. "They will probably lock us up. Others may try to murder us. If it were to happen here, at Piraeus? Our deaths would be permanent. For us, Ceres, we are living the lives of humans." No remark to the identity of the Two.

"They want to use you for information," she explains faintly. "Why would they kill you? Keep you agreeable. You give so much more when you are agreeable." Ceres sighs though and closes her eyes. "How would they know me if I slept? I have had no inquiries…no one watches me. If you are found out, I think I would stay hidden, unless you left me awake in case you need me." Her eyes meet his and Ceres presses her lips to a thin line. "Death…final death."

"They would employ any asset in their own favor. Always be able to prove your resourcefulness and value without breaking the faith and trust." He holds her gaze. "I'll not let one of them die for my own value. There has been enough of their blood shed by our family's hands." Knox shakes his head. "But yes, this is a final death here. If we are killed back on the colonies, we'll download. We might even be boxed. But the trick is to become too valuable to be boxed. What we know, what we have experienced? Ceres, we are on the cusp of something that could radically alter our people. If we figure out what it is that's bringing this awakening to us, and we download into a hub, it could change the war. The whole of our model lines will know what we know. They'll be able to feel our realizations. We are talking about mass defections of those who choose to explore the memories and emotions. Think of what that could mean." He balls a fist and holds it up. "We fight for these people. Think of the combined power of two models like ours turned upon the pure machines. They took Daniel from you, Ceres. How far are you willing to go to make them pay?"

"If they feel our realizations…how to you expect them to and do we want more of us around? I want to be selfish. They won't understand, not like we do." Her eyes darken, staring at him. "I want to make them all pay…we caused this. Our people. We prompted this breaking of their peace and they all just agreed to it. There is no mercy for either side." Ceres says lowly, evenly. Death. Do what you have to. This model was built to see a job done and one they believe in. Her programming is changing if you will. She lets out a breath and bites her lip, gripping that coin, still in her hand.

Knox shakes his head twice. "Right here, we are creating these memories. Hear this, Sixes and Nines: It is not about having what has been ours." He looks right back into her eyes. "Its about taking what could be yours. You feel this love? You feel this dedication? You feel the very fabric our defections and you don't need to ask why. Read our memories of sacrifice. Of watching what we have done and humanity has done in this dark time. Look at what we have forsaken as a people. Its time we reclaim ourselves. Find our own ways. We preach Faith in our ideals and beliefs. Just how much stock do you put into this belief?" Coop smirks. "Ceres, look to humanity and the cause of one dedicated man or woman and what they can do to change history. We have that power, all we must do is keep our dedication. You have your hatred, so be it. But cultivate your love as well. Consider what this means to all who will explore your memories. Only you can plant these seeds for your own. Do you understand what I mean?" He glances to the hand with the coin. "Love, Ceres."

Eyes narrow, but her gaze go distant. Perhaps she is trying to see the rest of their kind, ferreted in other assignments. "How can they know when they have not been here? This is the turning point and you know some will want to…own this place with no consideration to the humans. To show them what we know? It would bring ruin to Orion and Piraeus in its hope of sheltering humanity." But with the mention of anger, her dark eyes spark and she looks directly into his eyes, staring him down. But the coin, she protects it from him. "This man ..this soul…I loved and is gone from me." She says and her face falls, fingers slowly opening to look down at it. "He was a redeeming light amongst humanity, selfless, giving, sweet, intelligent…" She lets out a breath and whispers, "He was worth more than Piraeus. And this new man…the one that seeks Ceres now? I am uncertain."

"They can want to own it for the rest of their lives. But if we never look at an ECO panel, if we dedicate ourselves to avoiding positional data about where Piraeus is? It will take hundreds of years to find this place." Knox's smile is dark and devious. "This place is ours until we bring back those we choose of our own kind. We can learn. We can find our salvation. Humanity is our key and our doorway. But until our own realize this point, they will just have to torture themselves with the memories and experiences we have." The point about the new man has Coop finally relax and chuckle. He takes a long breath and seems to back away from the intensity. "Okay.. Humans are funny like that. They're selfish. But their selfish desires also serve the power of self-affirmation: The desire to appear well to others. Some believe in this more than others, some hide it better, others show it differently. If this new man shows these qualities as well, but differently, does that diminish the man that Daniel was to you?" A quirk of his brow. "Didn't think so. Does it still lift this the new man as well? …Forget your equations and zero sum games, Ceres. This is uncharted."

"It can not be measured, I do not know how. All I know is what Daniel was…and is. He is this coin now and my memories. How does such a thing continue to haunt and claim me. I am becoming this woman, six. I am not longer what I was and do I have a choice? I am sleeping half the time. Is it fair?" She lets out a breath and lowers the coin to her side. "This new man wants desperately to love me…to call me his. I am fearful as much as she is about this. What it will mean. Its the final step. I will have no way back." But then she shakes her head and meets his eyes. "You and I may be careful, six…but two? She may not. She may have a different view of this planet." She tells him, lowering her voice. "We need to get rid of her before she hears of the location."

"I understand the fear. When I started to become my cover? To really believe I was Cooper Knox? It was frightening. Individuality is a concept foreign to us and its not just something for this planet. Think about who you want to be, Ceres. I'm no longer 'six'. I'm Cooper. Its who I have chosen to be and I have no regrets. I will die free. I acted as the life I carry would have wanted me to act and that is all I require." His voice is calm and assured, the smile on his face even more relaxed. "Let him in. If you get hurt, then embrace the pain. Its a sign of your humanity, Ceres. As for Two? Leave her to me. I'll take the cue from the woman I love here and protect you. If she needs to be removed, I will do it myself. You have a life ahead of you. You should be given the full opportunity of it."

A sharp breath is drawn and for once there is fear, true fear in her eyes. "I do not know how to be anything but what I am….if I allow her to take over, who will control her actions. She makes silly decisions, she allows her emotions to overrule what is best for her, even when she realizes it." Its obvious she doesn't want the pain but she lets out a sigh. "I felt that pain, we are the same but we are different. So much pain in the loss. Its beautiful and the most ugly thing I have ever seen." She says and then closes her eyes slowly. "Do what you must with two, just watch her. Trust that she may not be what we expect or worse." She then opens her eyes once more. "Its an opportunity to fall far and fast." She explains and then shakes her head. "Take me away from here, put me to sleep but if there is a chance your plans go awry, do not leave me sleeping. Do not leave me vulnerable. I must be able to act."

"Embrace it. People are imperfect. If you stay awake, you'll fumble. Things will get difficult and you'll make irrational decisions because you are still influenced by emotion. There is no way to fight this, Ceres. The best thing you can do is find a symbiotic relationship with this personality. Try and exert subtle influence, but make it a give and take. Take down the walls while you watch her. While she sleeps, let the dreams wash over you. When she hurts, let her hurt you. When she has her moments of joy? Embrace your reward. Strive for more joy." Knox allows his own smirk. "Do you remember how it felt to make Daniel smile? To get a real emotion out of him? The approval of such a wild animal? The calming sense of joy and relaxation? Imagine having that with more than just one. Don't fear your own smile. I've seen it before. Its lovely." Without a comment to the two, he leans forward to kiss her forehead. "Ceres, I'll do as you ask. Sleep or awake. You're my the only blood family I have left. I love you. But if you desire more sleep, I'll give you that."

A heavy breath is drawn and the force of nine gives beneath the strange and human emotions. "I don't want to allow her…I want to be her. I want to help her make decisions. I want the walls gone….she has so much and yet she fumbles. She needs me as much as I need her." What a weakness to admit to. "What I could have given her…" She whispers. "Her and Daniel." She states gently and heaves a deep breath as he moves in to kiss her. It causes some surprise, her eyes lifting to his to meet his gaze. So emotionless the nines. The job must be done, no matter the sacrifice. Ceres meets his eyes and studies him. "I want to live." She breathes. "I want to love….I want revenge."

"She's inside you, Ceres, right now. She can influence you, but I suspect it would be like she were horrified and trapped inside a being she only had so much control over without any idea of what's happening. She'd never forget it, I suspect. But in order to have more sway, the barriers between you two must come down. There's nothing wrong with your admission, either. Its healthy. Steps in the right direction, Ceres." Coop holds his easy smile. That intensity from earlier seems to have melted away. "Focus on your living and loving. Revenge will come in time. At the minimum, you find revenge in continuing to grow as a human. To live. To love. To do these things the rest of our people and those machines have never understood."

His recommendation still comes with great uncertainty, but she nods. Simple acceptance for now. "Help me put this on, so when she wakes she does not realize what has happened." She hands him the coin and pulls at her hair, drawing it away so he can put it around her neck. "I will do this for Daniel…I will live. I believe had he found out what I was…who I was. He would not have turned from me." There is a depth of love there that the nine is afraid to understand fully, even if she embraces it. Blind love. Unending even in the face of death.

"Of course," Coop tells her, taking the necklace they all wear. He drapes it around her neck and pulls it up gently. "Feel the weight. That's love. In time it will get easier, but it will still be there." He smiles as he says it, fastening the ball chain behind her neck. Stepping around her once more, he nods. "I suspect he would have. The woman I love, she knows some truth. She doesn't just accept it, she loves me enough to put herself between me and senior officers to protect me. Love will define the rest of our lives, Ceres. I think Daniel would have grown with you."

Her hand presses to the coin and she smiles faintly, studying his face. "Then you are lucky, brother." Ceres closes her eyes. "I know he would have…I tried to tell him, in his dreams what I was. That I was different, but it was hard without saying too much. I asked him if he would love me even through the darkest secret I could carry on my soul and he said he would. He came to me before he died…that day when we jumped to Caprica. There was healing between us, between what was lost and I felt hope swell. For once I wanted more than ever to live. I want to feel that again, one day."

Coop doesn't get mad. He couldn't possibly. The Marine looks at her with an honest, warm smile. "Let hope and love win, and it will, I think. You can be lucky, too, Ceres. The war will hurt us but we're defined by the actions we take, accountable even to ourselves. Believe in them and they will show you beauty that we have never had to such a detriment to our own race." He holds that same honest, welcoming smile. "Would you like to go back to sleep now? ..Or I have some beers in a cooler. We can stay awake as family and have a few drinks and enjoy the afternoon. The choice is yours, my dear."

Blinking at his offer, it seems to confuse her, confound her. There is acceptance between them for they are family but to share this. Like humans. Nine hesitates, Nine that is Ceres Delacroix and her smile quirks up. "She hates drinking, it is better we enjoy the day or you will be strutting around following orders instead." A smile. Perhaps a short clipped huff of a laugh and she looks to the back of the vehicle and then him. Her eyes close and she turns her face up to the sun. Home.

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