AWD #076: They look like us

Dr. Nadir, Lt. Col. Petra & Lt. Morgan discuss the reality of the skinned Cylon models and specifically Agent Boyd.

They look like us
Summary: Dr. Nadir, Lt. Col. Petra & Lt. Morgan discuss the reality of the skinned Cylon models and specifically Agent Boyd.
Date: 03/24/2013
Related Logs: Petra's monthly address from March
Petra Morgan Samtara 
Battlestar Orion — Deck 3 — CMO's Office
The CMO's office is not huge, like most offices on the Orion. Nine feet by nine feet, most of the floorspace is taken up by a desk and file cabinets.
03/24/2006

In the absence of a ranking CMO the office has been occupied by which ever ranking physician is on duty and used more often than not for meetings, conferences or a quiet place to do paperwork. At the moment it's being used for a combination of all three as Dr. Nadir is elbow deep - literally - in reports, analysis findings and arranged around the room are shots of a autopsy which are noted - over noted, to be fair - meticulously. A cold cup of coffee is nearly buried under a stack of reports and a coffee pot is percolating away in the corner, brewing up more brain juice. The source of the autopsy is the reason she'd asked if the Lt. Colonel had a spare moment, and the same question was fired off to Lt. Morgan.

Coffee? Petra doesnt have a blood system, he has a coffee system, so when Samtara requests a meeting, the man brings a large mug of it, and a clipboard tucked under one arm. He balances and kicks the hatch a couple of times in rapidsuccession…well, it at least SOUNDS like a knock, before nudging the hatch open and ducking his head to step inside, "Doctor. Unless I completely mixed signals, you wanted to talk to me?"

Morgan stopped first at the recovery ward to check on Stone's status after the latest mission, so that he missed Petra's arrival. However, having received a briefing from the charge nurse, he strides across the sickbay to the office. Seeing Petra ahead in the doorway, he waits patiently until the man has cleared the door before stepping into the office.

Nadir looks up as the hatch is kicked in a boot-knocking before the Lt. Colonel steps through, blinking briefly from behind the reading glasses perched on her nose, the light from the sickbay spilling into the semi-cramped confines of the office as she rises to her feet. She removes the glasses and tucks them into the breast pocket of her lab coat as she nods, "Aye sir, that I did," she confirms with another nod aimed at Lt. Morgan, "thank you both for coming," she says, ever polite. The autopsy shots that line the room are not exactly subtle and she glances at those before back to both men and offers, "I see that you brought your own, sir, but Lt. Morgan would you like a cup?"

Petra flashes a faint smile at Morgan when the man steps in as well, then sidles over to claim a seat, setting his mug and clipboard down on a corner of the desk Samtara has claimed. He peers over at the photos and winces a little, murmuring, "Ah. That business." He says nothing further about it - instead he sits back and shifts his weight, waiting for the other two to settle and Samtara to elaborate.

After Petra alights, Morgan eyes the coffee pot and then cups next to it. Then he circles the desk toward it to take a cup and fill it. While he does so, he looks at the photos that Sam has pinned to the wall. The images seem less important to him than the careful notes. If he has learned anything about her, it is that she will address each point in due course. So he turns from the pot and finds a chair for himself. "Doctor," he greets. "What's on your mind, please?"

Nadir is quiet for a moment, quite potentially because Petra's casual murmur robs her of linear thought patterns for that moment until she recovers and reaches for her cold cup of coffee and wraps one hand around it before taking a drink from the cold contents. "Yes. That business," she confirms. "As I'm not done conducting the tests, and am waiting on further analysis, I thought it would be prudent to speak to both of you at this point in the venture. Lt. Colonel, in your address you identified the dead DoD Agent, Boyd, as a Skinned Cylon. I've re-viewed your address several times to make sure that I wasn't just hearing odd things out of a combined lack of sleep and a over-adequate amount of caffeine. So it begs several questions, the least of which is why is there a dead skinned cylon in my morgue and how in the name of logic is it known that she, it, what ever pronoun we'd like to use, came to be wearing a DoD uniform in the first place." She pauses, another long drink from the cold cup of coffee before asking, "You're positive that Boyd is a skinned Cylon model?"

After Petra alights, Morgan eyes the coffee pot and then cups next to it. Then he circles the desk toward it to take a cup and fill it. While he does so, he looks at the photos that Sam has pinned to the wall. The images seem less important to him than the careful notes. If he has learned anything about her, it is that she will address each point in due course. So he turns from the pot and finds a chair for himself. "Doctor," he greets. "What's on your mind, please?"

Petra sets his jaw for a moment at the questions from Samtara, but listens and nods slowly, "As for how she was part of DOD? I dont know. Its safe to say the Cylons had several sectors of Colonial life infiltrated long before the attack ever happened, and its probably one of the reasons why their initial assault was so damned massively effective. As for the rest…Yes. I am very certain she is a 'skinned' Cylon model. Wish I had known that earlier, but…"

Nadir sits down, rather abruptly, in a chair that has a stack of folders - which means she sits down rather abruptly on a stack of folders on top of the chair, but it either doesn't matter or she doesn't notice. "There's a dead Cylon in my morgue," she says it slowly. She only says it ONCE aloud, despite how it's cycling around in her head likely in a chipmunk pitched tone of voice that is making her head hurt. She looks slowly around the room at the extensive file cabinets - cabinets that no doubt contain a medical file of every single person on this ship. "You're certain." She doesn't make that a question. "Are there others that I should be aware of, Sir? In the fleet, on this ship, are there more?"

Morgan glances from the doctor to the colonel. "Sir, I'm confident that Dr. Nadir has conducted a thorough autopsy. If she wasn't aware that this … individual was a Cylon, that means that the enemy has the ability to duplicate human tissue with incredible accuracy to fool our own doctors. We will need to devise methods for detecting them."

Petra considers for a moment at Samtara's question, then glances back to the hatch to make sure it is indeed closed. He glances at Morgan's comment, then clears his throat, "I'm well aware of that, Lieutenant." He takes a deep breath and offers, "There are at least three of these 'skinjobs' still alive here, either on Orion or down on Piraeus. One of them is hostile, and is responsible for Catriona's death." He stops there for a moment, then starts in again, "For right now, what Im going to tell you, does not get repeated again, until you hear otherwise from me. Understood?" He glances at Samtara, then Morgan, "We can't have a witchhunt panic tearing the task force apart."

Nadir nods slowly even as she says, "We don't have any sort of screening protocol to discern the validity of human DNA or anything else when we're doing the medical profile that is used to establish a base line for each member of the crew. There's been no reason to establish some sort of protocol, as one's human status has - before now - not been a question. Any man or woman who walks in off the street is presumed to be human, there's been no reason to screen for what should not be a question in the first place." She sets the coffee mug down, and rubs her damp palms against the knees of her trousers before she nods again, "Understood."

"Aye, sir," Morgan affirms with a curt nod. He focuses on Nadir while the doctor raises her questions, but remains quiet otherwise.

Petra nods slightly, "As far as I can tell right now, there ISN'T anything we can scan for, though perhaps you will find something in your work with Catriona's body that will help facilitate that. Two of the three individuals in NOMAD have been with us since well before the invasion. In fact, one of them warned me the attack was coming, back in the middle of December. Jameson and I warned Fleet. I had a lot of evidence to back up my claim, and Jameson had my back on it. The Admirality agreed with us, but Adar decided to stay right where he was on Caprica. Because of the warning, we have three super dreadnaughts hiding out there somewhere that were taken out of mothball and put into service a week before the attack, and hidden away, just on Jameson's and my say so." He pauses, glancing at both of them before offering, "This individual and their 'cell' mate, were supposed to destroy NOMAD, but once they got to Piraeus, defected. They've been killing Cylons since then, and have helped us survive. I know the identity of one of them, the other I have not been introduced to. They are, understandably, scared shitless of revealing who they are. You both saw what happened to Dolly after my announcement last month, and they both understand that I can't really guarantee their safety when they get 'outed'."

"Dolly? Wait, that's McBride, call sign 'Phin', one half of a set of twins, he's a Viper pilot the other.." Nadir says quietly, almost speaking to herself, "the other half is a Marine, Bear McBride. Ahh, so just the two of them being twins marks them as potential targets because - yes. Alright, I see the logic there." Nadir nods again, equally slow as her tone of voice while sorting through this data, "You know one for sure, another that you have not been introduced to - is Boyd the one you had not been introduced to is is this number three?"

Morgan frowns thoughtfully and then looks at the doctor. "Is there any way to compare tissue samples between Dolly and Bear?" he wonders. If the two were identical twins, there might be some distinct thing that we could trace." He glances to Petra, expecting that the colonel might know if samples from Dolly were preservers.

Petra nods slowly at Samtara, "People heard that Cylons looked alike, saw twins, and went on a murderous rampage. So the REAL defectors have no illusions about their situation. Their hiding, and they aren't going to stand up. As I said, there are three alive right now that I know of. Two are the defectors I know of. The third…is the one that murdered Catriona. This is why I put travel restrictions in place, because its someone we got in a refugee boat. I dont know who, and Im not sure when, so noone who isn't original crew can go back until we find out who it is. BECAUSE…" He pauses to take a small breath, "Out here is apparently too far out for Cylons to communicate with the collective. No basestars within four jumps of the place. Their signals cant reach this far. So as long as we keep them here and hunt them down, we're still relatively safe."

Nadir holds up one hand, "Your count then is four?" She shakes her head, slowly again but pushes to her feet and paces the length of the room and back - nine feet minus the linear cubic feet taken up by the file cabinets, table, chairs - that amounts to about five feet in either direction. Less if the pace-ee is taller than she. "So the one you know, the one you haven't been introduced to yet, the dead one - Boyd - who is identified after the fact, posthumously that is, by the first. And now a fourth who's murdered number three." She stops pacing and eyes Petra again, "Or, arguably, number four with the person of Interest being number three." The rest of the details that Petra outline are filed away for future consideration and she glances at Morgan. "Twins have a baseline match all the way down to their genetic markers, that's what makes them twins and not merely siblings. Their DNA markers, yours, mine, the Lt. Colonel's are going to be within the same genetic parameters that mark humankind as a species." She looks back to the Lt. Colonel, "I have a dead skinned Cylon in my morgue," if she sounds possessive, right now that's a fair statement. "And I don't have anything to work from other than that it's NOT human. I need to establish some sort of protocol, Sir, what makes It not a Human other than the word or assertation of - I'm not challenging their word on this matter, Sir. But I'm a scientist. I require proof. If it can't be expressed in numbers, it's not fact, it's theory. How do this .. How do you know for sure?"

Morgan nods again at the central point of Nadir's line of questioning, 'What distinguishes a Cylon from a human?' He has no questions, but clearly, the point interests him.

Petra listens quietly, nodding along in agreement, "Four total, yes. One dead, three alive." He falls quiet again to listen to the rest of her thoughts, then rolls one shoulder, "Because every single thing they've told me so far, has come out to be true, and if I hadn't stopped and listened, and acted on what they told me back in December…we'd probably all be dead right now, or at least in a much worse situation. So no, the proof you are asking for? I don't have. Im acting on faith. Because if these two really wanted us dead? We'd have been dead by now. They've been back to the Colonies and they didn't turn us in. We dont have basestars in orbit over Piraeus right now, so I believe them." He pauses, "As far as how THEY can tell? No frakking clue. Im sure they dont want to tell me for fear of us turning it around on them and outing them."

"Your logic, sir, is sound, and you don't need me to say that but I haven't quite wrapped my mind around what I have here. You're saying that one of the refugees that we've taken in since the assault is a Cylon. I, or someone else in my department, has signed off on every soldier or officer that has been cleared for duty. I've cleared some of them myself. I haven't checked all the civilians, personally, but they'd have been run through a standard quarantine and base line test to ensure they aren't carrying anything contagious, any of the usual herd issues, pox and other things included." Again she's up on her feet, back and forth those five steps. "So the one cylon that you know .. doesn't know what separates them - genetically - from Humans other than that they're positive that they're Not human. I don't know where to go with this, Sir. All I can do is conduct as many tests as I can think up, invent a few more to work forward with, until we find something that gives us a skinny edge. Something. Anything. But it would help, hugely, if I had live tissue to work with. Would you convey my request to the one that you are on speaking terms with, Sir? Even if I hadn't already promised to keep this data to myself I'd be as bound by physician patient confidentiality as iron clad as any other oath I've ever sworn. It might help."

Petra murmurs, "I'll ask them, but I'll tell you what they'll say right now: No. Now, when the inevitable happens and they get outed? I'm sure they'll agree to it. After all, at that point, there's no reason to not do it." He takes a moment to rub his face, then sucks in a deep breath, "There's another aspect to this that is going to skew your perception of the matter. As long as one of the skinned ones dies within transmission range of a basestar…they dont die. They get resurrected in a new body, with all the memories they had from the old one." He waits for a moment to let that sink in, then adds, "Piraeus is outside their transmission range. So that means, if you discover a Cylon and you need to make sure what they know or find out doesn't get back to the rest of them…you bring them out here or somewhere else equally way the frak out in the middle of nowhere, THEN you kill them. They die permanently. I dont know how helpful that is, but its a little leverage we have to use."

"Memory transferrance?" Nadir says, or rather, blurts, staring at Petra with a look on her face that is tough to discern. "That's.. the math on that is nearly unquantifiable. The sheer amount of data stored in the human brain is enough to fill this entire ship, stem to stern, with page after page of stored .." she draws in a deep breath, one hand held up, palm facing Petra, for a moment as she composes herself. "In the lack of sufficient data to prove otherwise I'm accepting that at face value. because if it wasn't true you wouldn't say it and wouldn't believe it enough to have said it in the first place. And I understand, logically, why the individuals in question would prefer not to volunteer, but should he or she require medical attention at some point in the near future it would be helpful to know - nope. If the one you know for certain is, then he or she has already undergone at least one physical in order to be in uniform." She uses that same hand to rub slowly at the back of her neck, "I need to process this."

Petra holds up his hands, "Artificial Intelligence revolted against us, ran off, and has had forty frakking years to design a new system. I'm not shocked by anything at this point. I probably wouldn't blink if they had been able to figure out teleportation, at this rate." He smirks rather wryly at that, "And yes. The inidividual I know has undergone multiple physicals. They've been wounded and you and your crew healed them. And no, its not me. Frak, I got enough problems to deal with right now."

Morgan's eyebrows rise for a moment, and he questions, "Sir, that would mean that they are in contact with the basestars with some kind of radio signal. What would happen to a Cylon if that signal were suddenly cut? If we could find a way to shield an individual from that signal, would that cause a change in it that we could detect?" He taps on the side of his coffee-cup. Then he asks. Does that signal have any effect on normal humans as well?"

Petra mms at Morgan, "That…is a good question. Fleet had discovered a signal coming from the colonies being transmitted out across the Armistice line, using encryption we had no hope of cracking, but they didn't give us details at the time, and now Fleet HQ is so much nuclear slag. Melpomene started a project to decipher how the Centurions communicate, but she hasn't had any results. I know Petty Officer Rutlii is trying to reverse engineer the Centurion design, so she might have found something useful that could result in a jammer."

Nadir makes a low sound, sort of a grumble, "And that, sir, is on my wish list. A deactivated cylon unit to dissect in tandem with which ever engineer - mechanic that wants in on it." She glances toward Morgan, "If you gentlemen could disable one and bring it back - safely - I wouldn't mind a chance to crack it open like the hood on a car. Which I've never done, mind, it's messy and untidy. But for this, I'd be willing." Back to Petra, "Well, that's two of us, I'm not a Cylon either. I'd like to think that I'd know if I was, because I'd sure as hell be running every bloody test that I could be to establish the baseline." She fixes a thoughtful look back at Morgan, "Your turn," she says, offering Morgan a chance to 'ante up' on this particular topic.

Morgan nods to the doctor. "So far, we've focused on destroying them, but with the colonel's agreement, I think that we can add that to the mission objectives."

Petra nods once at Samtara, "We can phrase a request to the Marines, so the next time they encounter one of them, to bring it back. I'm thinking that bringing a live one here to interrogate might be an effective thing to do…because here, they will actually fear death." He rolls a shoulder and takes a deep breath, "I need to get back to CIC. I think I've scrambled your brains enough for one day. Why dont you both think about it for a day or two, and then we can meet again next week and go over any ideas you might have. Will that work?"

"If you are able to disable what allows it to view it's surrounding, we're talking it's optical receptors or 'eyes' that would limit it's ability to track actual movement and location, unless it's using augmented sensors or sonar of some sort," Nadir suggests before she nods. "On all counts, yes sir, that will work. Thank you for taking the time to come here today. If I didn't have two patients who need to go back into surgery as soon as they're stable enough to do so I would've come to you. Sir, gunnery Sergeant Stone is going to need at least one more surgery before his hand is going to be up to gun drills again. And the civilian, Rhonwen Llywarch, will need at least one more as well, but I'll keep you appraised."

Morgan reaches to place his cup on the desk, but finding no room, simply holds it and stands. "Aye, sir," he acknowledges tersely. Then he looks at Nadir and assures, "We'll do all that we can, doctor."

Petra nods slowly as he rises to his feet. When Rhonwen is mentioned, he pauses, then nods again, "I know you're doing everything you can. Rhonwen was…the JAG officer that defended me on my shooting incident on the Valkyrie. Sometimes how things work out can be very very surreal." He pauses again, then starts, "Anyway. Good night." And with that said, TACCO flees

Nadir stares after the Lt. Colonel for a silent minute after he departs, even waiting until the hatch is closed again. "I have a dead cylon in my morgue," she says softly and turns to Morgan, only NOW letting the look of horror and confusion show in her eyes. "I have a dead cylon in my morgue and I have no idea HOW it's a Cylon or why it's a Cylon or what I'm supposed to do with it when I'm done dissecting it. And it's one.. of four. There's two more out there that are working WITH us and ONE that is killing others of it's kind including any incidental trivial humans who get in the way. Who kills, face to face, in what is considered a markedly aggressive and violent stance, face to face kills are typically profiled as highly aggressive killers."

Morgan sighs ounce that hatch has closed behind Petra. "Part of what disturbs you is that you didn't /know/ that it was a cylon during the autopsy," he adds. "That worried me as soon as that bit of news came to light." He looks at his empty cup, and then at Sam's. He takes a step to snatch her cup from the desk and carries both to the pot for refills. "It worried me for us, and it worried me particularly for you." He turns with the fresh cups in his hands, and approaches the desk to place one in front of the doctor. "I haven't known you long, Sam, but I didn't need long to know that you would take something like this very personally." Then he steps back and nods. "And you're right about the nature of the killing. In humans, that would qualify as highly aggressive. Whether it would for Cylons is another question."

Sam accepts the cup of coffee and is relieved to see that her hands don't shake, despite how shaken she is. "I didn't think .. I never considered.. it wasn't even in the protocol of variables. Why would a Cylon be involved in a single or even double killing, face to face. It seems to.. small. Why resort to individual killing when they've already displayed just how effective mass murder is, on a multi-global scale. It seems small. It seems illogical. It seems petty. What did Boyd know that our unknown cylon didn't want her to reveal? Was it merely his identity or more? We don't have motive. All we have are dead bodies and more questions. Yes, yes I take it personally. I did the autopsy. I did. I've been over every ounce of data and I'm going to go back and look for more. I did this, I filed the report, and I didn't know that she was is a cylon. I didn't know. How could I not know, I had the body under my hands, under my scalpel, on MY table. And I didn't know," her voice rises slightly, her words more emphatic as she speaks until she's pacing back and forth, agitation evident in every ounce of her bearing. "I didn't know. I can't remember the last time I looked at a medical report of any kind, the last time I looked at ANYTHING in my field and said 'I don't know'. It's my job to know, it's my job to discern, to explain, to outline, to break data down into the nuts and bolts, to use mechanical vernacular, to explain to those among us who are not medical professionals."

She rounds on Morgan rather abruptly, the coffee sloshing a bit in the cup, "Tell me that you're not a cylon. Just. Say it. I just need you to say it. I don't care that it's illogical and I swear I'm not trying to insult or imply that you are but I just need to hear you say it. I just need - -" she hauls her words up abruptly and exhales, uneven. "Just say it."

Morgan remains silent, tracking Nadir's movements fastidiously while she paces the room, seeing every non-verbal cue to her mounting frustration, and when she turns on him, now practically screaming at him. He is frowning with grim determination and he reaches out to intercept the wrist of her hand holding the cup of sloshing coffee. With his other hand, he wrenches the cup from her grasp and sets it on the desk. His eyes meet hers, and he takes a slow breath. "I'm as human as you are, Sam," he confirms, speaking quietly. Then he adds, "And you're killing yourself with guilt." He looks at the piles of papers everywhere. "I can't help you with the medical work. I'm sorry that I can't. But I can do one thing for you. You need to vent your frustrations so that you can concentrate on thinking clearly. We're going to the rec room, where you can punch that bag until your head clears. OK?"

Sam takes a couple of slow breaths, shallow ones, and is visibly rebuilding the shell of calm around her composure as she nods, her hands shaking as she lifts both to smooth her fingertips along her temples, lightly over her hair, one hand finding the pen that she'd tucked into her hair at some point and plucks it free and sets it - with marked care - on the nearest stack of reports. She looks slowly around the small office before back to Elijah. "That.." she clears her throat quietly, "that sounds like a terribly good idea." She stares down at her hands, seeing the subtle tremor that makes her hands shake ever so faintly. "They look like us, Elijah. They look like us. The walk, they talk, they breathe, they bleed, every measure of physiology that they exhibit is on par with Human enough to not stand out when they go through a physical. They look like us," there's something in her voice that is the echo of horror and something more, something that defines quantifiable definition.

Morgan steps closer to Sam and takes her shaking hands in his own once she has set aside the pen. "There must be some difference," he insists. "That's why I asked about the radio. If they can sense that, then something about them must be physiologically different to allow them to sense it. We'll find the differences, and you'll be part of that. For now, let's go and work off that frustration."

Sam's hands are cool to the touch, which - in and of itself - marks just how upset she is, her hands are cold, the shock of it finally starting to really set in. She doesn't tug her hands away, however, and considering how rarely she ever actually touches anyone - at all - without gloves? This, also, is a mark of how upset she is. "We'll find it," she agrees quietly, "if it's there to be found, we'll find it." She closes her eyes for a moment, shoulders ever so faintly slumping as she takes a moment to just concentrate on breathing in and out until she has more of that shell of composure in place again. "Alright," her eyes open, shoulders squaring again, spine straightening and drawing herself up to her full height, "we'll do this. But first I need to bruise my hands a bit on that punching bag." Her eyes meet his again, "Thank you, Elijah. For.. well. Everything, at this point. Lets go."

"Everyone needs a friend, Sam," Morgan answers, releasing her hands at length, although he seems reluctant to do so. "We'll stop by the berths and change into suitable gear," he instructs. Then he goes to the hatch and unlatches it before leading the way.

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