Hearts and Minds
Hearts and Minds
Summary: A Genesis recruiting poster and a passing priest bring a small measure of peace to a survivor.
Date: 104 ACH
Related Logs: None

Carina Park
Carina - Central Square

The main level of the Carina depicts a garden-like atmosphere with cobble-stoned walkways leading off to other areas. This ship is the pride of the Colony fleet. Set up as a training area and stadium for play-offs of the Colony Pyramid teams. - In the center square the colony flags fly with their Pyramid team labels.
Caprican Buccaneers, Picon Panthers, Aerelon Argonauts, Tauron Bulls, Aquarian Aces, Virgon Vultures, Sagittaron Hornets, Scorpia Stingers, Libris Daredevils, Gemenon Giants, Canceron Capitals and the Leonis Liberators. The flags surround a statue of the latest team who won. The C-Bucs Pyramid trophy stands proudly in the center.

Signs point down the cobblestone pathways to other places: Training, Housing, Hotel, Courts and Stadium.

Karan comes up one of the walkways that crisscross through the park, seeming to be headed in the rough direction of the ship's docking bay. He's dressed as befits one of the fleet's military, in crisp blues with a duffel bag slung over one shoulder— probably, he's returning from some shore leave aboard the Carina.

Aniketos, for his part, has found himself a bench upon which he now stretches out all five-feet nine of him. The crumpled flyer he retrieves from his pocket without further ado, holding it above his mutilated face — squinting, some, as the Carina's artificial light peeks out around the edges of the paper to needle his yellowed eyes. The emblem of the Battlestar Genesis is clearly evident to all interested passers-by: this is a new recruit, or at least someone who's thinking about making the jump. And under his breath he hums the all-too-familiar notes of the Colonial Anthem — dun da-da-DA, and on and on it goes.

Karan pauses on his way past the bench. Maybe he picked up a strain of that colonial marching music, or maybe it's the odd-loooking man himself, that caught the young Lieutenant's eye. He does stop however, a few feet away, and speaks in a clear voice sullied with a hint of guttural Gemenese, "I'm grateful to you. We need all the men and women we can get."

"Ah!" cries Aniketos, and his disfigured face crinkles into a parody of a grin — genuine merriment that has the unfortunate disadvantage of making him look altogether monstrous in the fading dusk. "Finally, a man with manners on this overwrought heap of slag." With surprising agility, he leans up and swivels his feet to meet the ground, showing the full contours of his visage to the put-together lieutenant for the first time. "As for me, I'm afraid you've got me wrong. I'm but a tick on the front of some pilot's kill-sheet, or so it seems: your buddies on the battlestar were handing these out like candy to all comers. They'd have me swabbing decks with the backside of my gloves if I follow up and enlist."

Karan doesn't seem bothered by the face he's presented with, or perhaps he just hides his bother well. One hand curls fingers around the strap of his bag, the other held out for the slip of paper like he means to see for himself what's writ upon it. "I don't think things are quite so bad as all that. What division are you considering?" He doesn't say 'sir', ingrained though it no doubt is, and frequently at the tip of his tongue.

"I'll read it out to you, mister," offers the ever-smiling Aniketos. Holding out the flyer before him like some musical score, he clears his throat before beginning: "Wanted — fodder for our cannons, men for our orders, butts for our jokes. Serve the Colonies for a second and a half before getting vaporized in the depths of space! Come one, come all, to the opportunity of a lifetime, where … you get the idea." His voice trails off in disdain, though not before a twinge of sardonic humor finds its way into his deeply-textured baritone. A gloved hand holds out the flyer for his companion's perusal, black leather streaked with stains. "I'm a freighter pilot, not some hotshot jock. Fat lot of use I'd be with a gun."

Karan raises a brow slightly at the diatribe coming from the man, and his lips press together in a slight frown of disapproval. Certainly, Aniketos is paraphrasing a little there; the hyperbole doesn't seem to amuse the Lieutenant, but by the looks of him, very little does. He accepts the flyer though when it's handed over, as if it needed confirming of its benign intentions. "You didn't answer my question," is mentioned a bit tautly. "Though if you've piloted freighters, you might consider the raptor squadron?"

Perhaps sensing his interlocutor's irritation, Aniketos spreads his hands in as close to an apologetic gesture as he gets. Certainly, the pink on his cheeks doesn't come from the cold, not in this climate-controlled paradise with front-row seats to the Fall of Man. "I didn't mean to offend," he says, though his expression remains locked in that sad excuse for a smile. "Just having a bit of fun tweaking your nose. Not your fault, really: I'm a spiteful fellow, and the last person I saw in a uniform ran screaming for the hills."

A beat. The back of one hand rises to wipe away a few crusty brown specks underneath his right eye.

"Proverbial hills, I should say. No reason to take it out on you." His free hand pats the artificial wood beside him. "Sit?" If the lieutenant wants his answer, he'll have to wait.

Karan looks from the ramshackle man, down to the paper in his hand, which of course states nothing of the sort about cannon fodder or butts of jokes. And speaking of jokes, the fair-haired Lieutenant doesn't precisely seem like the sort to get them; he's got a permanently sallow look about him. "There are more than enough reasons for people to feel embittered with the military, I don't begrudge you, but I try to remind myself that we do more good than ill." He hesitates, then perches himself gingerly at the edge of the bench, like he might bolt again at any moment. He has good posture however, that much is indicative of his chosen career.

"You picked me up, y'know." Aniketos divulges that rather personal bit of information without so much as blinking; even as the lieutenant takes his seat next to him, he leans back against the hard slats of the bench, throwing both hands behind his head and staring up into the artificial sky. "Sheer luck, I guess — stray debris here, a few ghost contacts there, whatever. Can't think of any other way your Raptor crew could have picked up a signal off my jury-rigged wireless, that's for sure." Unconsciously, he runs a finger or two through the remains of his hair; the scent of mint wafts through the encroaching dusk, carried along by a few air-circulators whirring in the distance. "Still haven't managed to find those two to thank them proper. But that's something good, innit?"

A sigh and a nonchalant sidewise glance follow. For a moment, the former pilot says nothing; then, suddenly: "And you. Why'd you throw on the blues? Chicks? Booze? Laughs?" The last is spoken with a wry chuckle. Aniketos expects the answer to be nothing of the sort.

The first remark is a little ambiguous, all things considered. And, bless the poor young officer, he looks briefly startled, in the fashion of a dusk-winged owl caught in a bright flash of light. Nothing's said however, and he does seem to relax slightly once Aniketos elucidates a little. "I don't believe in luck," he explains, mouth pursing in a half-musing fashion, "so much as I believe in the gods' foresight. I believe there is a reason they've spared each and every one of us, and that we have work to do; this is not the time to rest on our laurels." A pause, and then a small frown when his uniform is questioned. Karan glances down at it briefly, smoothing out a crease with his fingertips. "I'd taken some shore leave time to coordinate services at the new temple." He nods that way. "But, like all good things, it's come to an end."

"Laurels!" Aniketos snorts in derisive laughter as fluid of some sort leaks from the corner of his eye. Blink, blink. "Son, the only laurels I have are currently in geosynchronous orbit over the planet of My Ship Got Blowed Up By Toasters, you read?" The ugly man shakes his head to clear his vision, his left foot tapping out a simple rhythm against the worn stone beneath. "Wait: don't tell me. I'm alive because I'm special — because the gods have given me a destiny to fulfill, a life to change. How could I forget? I must /really/ be getting old." There's that note of bitterness again, playing discordant counterpoint against the pilot's perpetual smile — a note that soon fades into wistful, then contemplative, then nothing at all. "Maybe I should check out this temple of yours. Think they'd take an ingrate like me?"

Karan seems impervious to the pilot's bitterness. Not ignorant of it, no; he acknowledges what he hears, though he seems not to internalise it. Enigmatic perhaps, in how delicate he seems, yet how resilient he is. "A destiny, I'm not sure of. I don't even know whether I have a destiny, whether any of us does. But work to do? Yes. However small that work may well be, however insignificant the part." Where Aniketos is wistful, where he is contemplative, Karan is expressionless. Inflectionless. "Do you serve the Lords?" he asks simply, a question for a question.

"In my way," the former pilot answers, a bit too eagerly. An attempt at changing the subject, perhaps, or awareness that he's been pouring his troubles out to an ear he's had for no more than ten minutes at maximum: testament, then, to the power granted to willing listeners in this time of uncertainty and despair. "My father isn't — " A pained look. "Wasn't, I should say. Wasn't all that religious — he ran a brewery on Aerelon. But he knew the songs of the faith, or at least a few of them, and he taught them to me when I was a kid. I'd sing a couple of hymns before dusk every night, right about now, when I worked the family bar, if you can imagine that." He hums a bar or two to demonstrate, eyes closed, a hand in the air, gesturing like the conductor of some invisible choir. "And you? You've got the look of a true believer, if you'll pardon me for saying so."

"I won't pardon you for the truth," Karan replies easily, lips quirking in what might be his first actual smile since he sat down, however brief. "And we all serve the Lords, in our way. Some without knowing it, I think. Some, in spite of their disbelief." He lifts his booted feet, hooking the heels on the very edge of the bench; he's lanky enough to be able to do so easily, almost like he's curling in on himself. "Apollo," he begins, voice low though not difficult to make out, "at the touch of the golden key his lyre sings sweet. Thence, swift as thought, he speeds from earth to Olympos, to the house of Zeus, to join the gathering of the other gods: then straightway the undying gods think only of the lyre and song, and all the Mousai together, voice sweetly answering voice, hymn the unending gifts the gods enjoy and the sufferings of men." A breath. "Sometimes the songs, are what matter most. Especially to the god of song." He turns slightly, and winks.

"I can toast to that." And he does, his leather-clad hand raised as if it were cupping a goblet of the finest honey mead. Then tilt — and down, down it goes, a libation of air to music and light. "You know, I once thought I'd bag a Muse of my own." Unlike the priest, Aniketos uses their common name. "Terpsichore Academy? Doubt you've heard of it. It was a music school out in the middle of nowhere. Didn't know Virgon had countryside until I got out there as a fresh-faced teen, all gussied up in a tweed suit and jacket. Someone forgot to tell me that tweed went out of style, oh, about seven, eight decades ago. Story of my life." His hand drops limply by his side, overwhelmed by nostalgia. "Did you know I recorded a song like that once? 'Fusion-style,' my professor called it; spiritual but folksy, infused with True Aerelonian Soul. Commercial flop: even the cats wouldn't listen to it. Turned to freighters after that. They don't make nasty eyes at you when you sing them to sleep."

Karan sits still while the 'toast' is given, in which he does not partake. Then again, if he's the scripture-thumping Fundamentalist he appears, maybe he doesn't drink much. "I haven't," he confirms. Of Terpsichore Academy. "But I haven't been to Virgon. Is that where you're from?" Mention of tweed has him smiling wanly, but not commenting. "So you gave up on music, to fly freighter ships instead. It's certainly a lateral career move. What's your name?" Ever abrupt, is the odd little Lieutenant.

"Aniketos Karahalios. A mouthful, no?" Lazily, he turns his body toward the lieutenant and offers his right hand — the ugly one comes in peace. With a smile, too, though none of these expressions seem capable of reaching his bloodshot eyes. "Apparently, it means 'unconquerable,' if you're the superstitious type. Though I suppose not even a nuclear holocaust managed to fry scruffy old Aerelonian me." And there's the answer to the other question, thrown in as an afterthought. "And you? A pity you don't seem like the drinking type: your gut must be made of titanium alloy if you can sit there and stare at my mug without retching in the bushes."

"I'm not," the Lieutenant confesses, straightfaced. The hand is grasped though, and given a firm enough shake. He's no marine, that's for certain, even if the navy blues hadn't given him away. His grip's also a mite clammy, though he doesn't appear particularly nervous about anything. Poor circulation, perhaps? "Brother Jerome Karan. Were you.." He drifts off. "Did you survive the holocaust?" It's asked with a bit of wide-eyed wonder; he doesn't even address his iron stomach.

Aniketos' fingers clench just a little bit tighter at the mention of the Cylon Holocaust, though his expression remains placid. Nothing more than a twitch, Brother, nothing more. But aloud: "A pleasure, Jerome," the civilian replies, and there's genuine warmth in his carefully wrought voice. "Hope you don't mind if I drop the title. We didn't stand by formality aboard /Polaris/, and — gods ward her — there's no way -this- manmade Elysium deserves more respect than my old lug. Habit, you see. You bunk with your mates long enough, you don't care if one of them got a doctorate up in some fancy Caprican college, say." With an audible grunt, Aniketos leans back once more, his breath catching a bit in his throat. Nothing a quick cough can't solve — and his chest heaves a bit as a dash of spittle lands on his trousers. Disgusted, the man flicks it off his thigh with the tip of a finger.

"They're out there somewhere, still," he says when he recovers. "Doing a damn well better job taking care of themselves than I ever did. Lirra put in my head the great idea to resupply the escape pod with some canned meat she picked up on Tauron. Next thing I know, the door locks and boom — out I go as some silver things finish the — "

Abruptly, he stops, still rubbing the spot on his leg where his saliva had fallen. "So. Yeah."

Then, quietly, quietly: "You're good at getting people to spill their guts for you, know that? Nice gift to have. So that's more than enough from me. How about you?"

Karan doesn't seem to mind having his hand gripped more tightly. Where someone else might be trying to scrape it off, repelled by the face that goes with the fingers clasped around his own, Jerome is.. almost irritatingly calm. "I do, actually, mind. I am a servant of the gods, so you may address me as such. Unless you are my superior officer, which I can see you are not." Aniketos' hand is released finally, and the young Lieutenant's fingers are woven together on his lap. He could play piano, with fingers like that. "But I don't mind, at all, listening." His voice softens a little there. "You've been through a lot more than most. It can't be easy for you, to adjust. Do you have a place to stay aboard the Carina?" Him? What about him? Maybe there's nothing to say.

"I make do," Aniketos replies, jerking his head in the direction of the apartment quarters aboard Carina. "And — wait, now — superior officer?" Another belly-laugh from the man of Aerelon — rank, it seems, matters to Aniketos about as much as decorum. "Don't get ahead of yourself — just fifteen minutes ago you were on me to enlist. Still think that'd be a good idea, Brother?" If ever the title could sound sarcastic, it does now, but at least it's there. Consider it a minor victory. "Anyway, I look on the bright side. No more filing taxes, you know? No more losing bets to Kieran on Pyramid games, no more kids to wake me up at four in the godsforsaken morning — " His jaw clamps down on his lower lip, which slowly turns pale and pallid. "I make do."

"As do we all," Jerome replies with a tiny smile that touches his lips, and then his eyes, before it fades completely. A brief check of his watch tells him that he's going to have to jog to catch that shuttle, and he starts to his feet smoothly. "Please do consider dropping by the temple. The accomodations aren't as good as they might be, but I will do my best to find room for you to stay, and rest, and pray in peace if you have need of it. I come over roughly once a week, as I'm able, and my ear is always available, if you wish to speak."

"Keep the stars to your back, kid." Aniketos, for his part, stays where he is, watching the figure in blue as he starts down the path to his ship. Emotions seem to war on his face, so violently does his frozen cheek twitch. Then, on a whim, he raises his voice to shout "Hey! You there!" A pause, to make sure he's heard. "Throw me back that flyer, yeah?"

And sotto voce: "So say we all, I guess."

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