Silica and Snipes
Silica and Snipes
Summary: Zaharis brings Rhea up to speed on the fruits of his Cylon dissecting. Later, she updates her robot-probing snipes in turn and gives them the Saint Crispin's Day speech, Engineer-style.
Date: 55 ACH
Related Logs: None

Robotics Research Labs Genesis - Deck 8

55 ACH 23817 Souls

This area is a classified and secured location. The doors and entrances are locked down with direct electronic locks and are monitored via cameras. Only authorized personnel are allowed within. If you have not been shown here ICly and cleared, you most likely are not.

This area has been converted into a large laboratory space for mechanical and robotic study. Tools, machines for analysis of metallic structures and metallurgical properties are located within. On several tables are pieces of multiple Cylon parts and several computers are located here, running various programs to assist in the work being done within.

---—< Condition Three - Restricted Area >----
Contents: Rhea Zaharis Wireless 573

Exits: [O] Out

Rhea is wearing a lab coat, which is a strange sight when combined with her standard clompy fatigues. She looks somewhat ill-at-ease in it. She's currently bent over one of the tables, wearing gloves, examining a severed Centurion arm. Eyes narrowed as she studies the fingers.

Zaharis came alone, without a Marine escort or anything else that looks like more than just a casual stroll into a classified area. He has a black case with him, clearly locked on the top and sides. A few flashes of ID and a fingerprint check and he's admitted into the lab with a soft swoosh of the doors.

Rhea looks up from her robotic claw when someone else enters the lab. Offering Zaharis a short nod. "Your clearance works, then? Good. I'm not sure what would happen if you tried to come in and it didn't. I'm a little curious to find out, though." A joke, though she doesn't laugh. This place sort of saps her humor. Must be the disembodied robotic machines of genocide. "You brought the silica, I take it?"

"Probably got rifles rigged in the ceiling," Zaharis raises a finger to indicate, then comes over closer to her. His boots echo softly in the silence. "Yeah, I have it. Which counter's safe to unload on?"

"You can unpack it there," Rhea says, gesturing to the table that's been cleared for metallurgical analysis. More for science than for clanky things. "So you really think those women were Cylons, then?"

"I don't know what to call them, Rhea," Zaharis talks quietly as he sets the case down. The security on the locks is complicated, things clicking as he undoes them one by one. "There's still an element of human. They have human genes. They clearly had the complexity of brain to have thought processes."

"The Centurion brain is fairly complex, itself," Rhea says, leaving her arms and torsos to go have a look at Zaharis' case. "I know they look like walking chrome toasters but they *think*. They reason. They even feel, if not in a way you can call human. They're properly sentient." Her eyes travel to the most intact Centurion skeleton they have, laid out on a table. "Every now and then, it hits me. The pure brilliance of what their makers achieved. It's beyond anything. Makes hyperlight travel look like a mousetrap. Those engineers created *life*. Out of nothing, out of wire synapses and subroutines and electrical signals. It's incredible, when you stop and think about it."

Zaharis pops the case after a long futz with the locks. Inside are several tiny plastic cylinders nestled securely in a layer of black styrofoam. He picks one up and holds it up where she can see it, showing its contents. The silica is a thin gel, almost liquid, that barely quivers as it moves. There's not much of it. "And now they've done what even we've never quite been able to do," he says, his lips pursing. "With no concern for ethics…and quite possibly no limits on how many they could be producing right now."

"If they've really accomplished a marriage of human biology and mechanical technology…it'd be the most incredible scientific breakthrough since the artificial intelligence ban." A tremor of fascination underlies Rhea's tone. She tilts her head up, to get a good look at the silica. "Ethics. Yeah. You could argue the scientists who created the Cylons weren't too caught up in ethics, either. I do wonder sometimes, though. If I'd been in there place, been able to do what they did…would I have stopped myself? Would I have even worried about whether it was right or wrong? I don't know."

"Scientific breakthrough. Sure." Zaharis holds out the tube for her to take, looking at her face. "It could also mean that the people who teach your son at school every day are cylons." He looks back at the tube. "I wonder how much they know, themselves. These hybrids. Human behaviour is an exceedingly complex thing to mimic. Just having the genes isn't enough to be a human being. We can even identify tiny things like what colonies someone is from just from their mannerisms and their speech…those things aren't programmed. They're learned, over a lifetime."

"Guess I'm lucky there's no education system to speak of yet, then," Rhea replies wryly. She sighs. "I don't know. That's your department." She takes the tube, setting it carefully in one of the holders, to be analyzed by some lucky tech. "Anyhow. That's what all this is here to figure out. Or is supposed to. I'm quickly realizing how far beyond me all this is. I'm no researcher. I'm just a glorified mechanic."

Zaharis pulls the other two small tubes from the case, handing those over. It's his case and she doesn't get to keep it. "Guess you earn your researcher pins now." He nods to the tubes. "At least we have somewhere to start. Not like it's a substance we've never seen before. I'd just be happier if we could put something in the water that made it glow bright visible red or something." His tone clearly doesn't think that's possible.

Rhea gets a laugh out of that, getting all the tubes settled. "Maybe we can try to plug everybody in the Fleet into an outlet. The ones who power up - Cylons." She snorts, her tone also highly skeptical. She knows it won't be that easy. Another snort, as to her researcher pins. "I doubt it. I don't have the patience for it. You have to get your head half up in the clouds to come up with the real theoretical stuff. I'm of a more practical bent. I can deal with the mechanical, though, so I'll do what I can."

"We'd better make 'what we can' be pretty damn good." Zaharis closes the case, snapping the locks shut again. "Going to run some more lab tests on our share of that silica. Let you know if we come up with anything useful."

"We'd better," Rhea agrees grimly. She nods. "Of course. Do you have autopsy photos of these so-called skinjobs? And the corpses themselves, for that matter. I'd like to have my mechanical engineers go over them. See if they can spot anything useful. With Medical supervision, of course. Doubt they'd know what in hades they're looking at without help, anyway. We're not biologists down here."

"Got photos. They're on a separate machine not connected to the mainframe." Zaharis looks back at her. "They can come up and look. Send me over a list of who's cleared by you. And I'd prefer you accompany them."

Rhea nods shortly to Zaharis. "Of course. And if you have anyone of a research bent under you you think might be a good hand with the biological Cylon component of this, you can get them cleared for access here."

"Let me see who I have." Zaharis picks up the case and steps back. "Alright. }Buzz me when you're ready to come up and we'll go corpse-diving."

"It's a date," Rhea replies dryly, as to corpse-diving.

(…sometime later…)

Main Engineering Genesis - Deck 8

56 ACH 23817 Souls

Main Engineering is staffed by the Chief Engineer and his or her crew. There are enough monitors, flashing lights, back-up generators, consoles and various other areas to man the battlestar and keep it in top form at all times. Storage areas, locked areas, pipes, machinery and tools are all around the area. The desk of the ChEng sits in an area where it is the quietest so work can be done.

----< Condition Three - Duty Area >----—-
Contents: Quill Rhea Snatch Magic 8 Ball Marker_Four Whiteboard
Wireless 1319

Exits: [O] Corridor

Special: +detail - Details available

Quill is working with Snatch on what appears to be a backup generator from the Astra, something so plucked for parts that it was easier just to bring the whole thing over here to repair it. Or at least, that's what he /was/ doing, now the ensign has ceased productivity and is rubbing at some unidentifiable grime on his wrench as though this task requires all of his focus. The industrious Snatch is still working on the generator. "Yeah. Well, um. There were rumors about that," Quill is telling her. "Sounded like a load of shit to me and I didn't pay any mind to it. That memo you just handed me? It's telling us that the rumors are true." He's trying to sound objective and Officerly, but there's a slight tinge of 'oh my gods' lurking in his tone. "There's a bit of humanoid cylon for study in the research lab down the hall. We're cleared to work on it."

Snatch stops what she's doing, brow lowering— but only for a brief second, and she's yanking the wires free like someone's got a gun to her head again. "Than ain't so," the enginesnipe tells him, "Y'ns read it wrong." It happens to her all the time. She still thinks that for a day or so there was a proclamation up around the ship that all women had to get married and get pregnant or get kicked off the ship. Plus, telling herself that that can't be true is helping her maintain her Aerelonese backwater cool.

Rhea marches into Engineering. The ChEng is in mid-shift, judging by the duty board, but she's not covered in grease and grime. Almost unheard of for Rhea when she's working. Lately, it's a good indication she's come from the robotics lab. She heads to her desk, to check any messages that've come in either by computer, fax or courier.

"It's true," Quill insists. "I owe you everything, Snatch, I wouldn't frack with your head over something like this for fun." The generator is totally forgotten now; since he usually has a good work ethic (Quill missed those memos on officer slacking, too) that alone speaks to a state of distress. "Somehow they got a corpse of one and took silica out of it's spine, and… shit. /Shit/."

Catching movement out of the corner of his eye, Quill looks over and spots Rhea. Aha. When in doubt, go flail at your CO. He beckons the tech, "Come on. Leave that thing, I'll finish it later — we should both be hearing about this from Major Zim herself now that she's here."

Snatch looks back toward Quill, not having been accusing him of joking, but simply of having read the thing incorrectly, since she messes up stuff like that a lot. But she regards him, and remembers he's one of those library dogs, and then nods her head, evidently trusting in his power of deciphering Colonial off of a memosheet. She stands and comes when beckoned.

Rhea gets through her messages in short order. Some are put under her kiddy handprint. A sign they are important and will be dealt with swiftly. Others get shifted into other piles. Then she heads to the duty board, doing some hard core erasing and writing. It's nothing skinjob-related. Just a standard impossible task. This one involving repairing the Nebula. She frowns determinedly as she writes, not yet noticing the approach of her snipes.

People. People. They look like people. What the frack cylons look like people. How good an approximation is this, anyway? Stick-figure people? Store mannequin people? Or oh my gods Major Zimmerman could be one and that's unlikely but seriously she could kill me right now people? These and other panicked thoughts race around Quill's overpowered brain, but once he approaches the whiteboard all that comes out is a salute and a redundant, "Sir, we'd like to talk to you about the recent memo, sir."

Snatch is still uncertain, picturing something out of an old children's cartoon, maybe, with a Cylon clanking around in a dress with a curly wig and waving a handkerchief. 'Yoo. Hoo.' comes the mechanized voice, and some poor bloke's eyes pop out of his head and turn into pounding hearts. She can't imagine a machine streamlined enough to fit all those wirings into a human shape. But she looks at her Cap'm— Major, rather. Silent, for now, eyes faintly narrowed.

Rhea palms her marker, returning when she's sniped from behind. She regards Quill and Snatch. Unsurprised they've come to question her about it. Her own expression is the same facade of blunt, vaguely demanding competence she ever wears in Engineering. But she keeps her ChEng up in front of her snipes. "You've read it, then. Well. It's true. I can't quite wrap my brain around it, myself, but there's little other explanation for it. And I've never been one to deny something unpleasant when it's spit in my face. Ask anything you like of me, Ensign. I'll do my best to answer." If she /has/ the answers.

Quill draws a breath and runs a hand through his hair, making grimy streaks across his forehead in the process. "Shit, sir, I don't even know what to ask. How much do they look like real people? How did whoever found them know they were cylons, is there some characteristic that gives it away?" He smiles, humorlessly, glancing to Snatch before looking back to Rhea. "Or in the worst case scenario I can imagine, is it engineering's job to figure out 'oh say this is how they're different' and then find a way to detect it?"

"Y'd reckon a good hard knock on them's hull an' y'ns woul'nt half need fer an -other- clue," Snatch points out. They'd go some variety of 'clang,' she figures.

Rhea takes those as much one-by-one as she can. "According to Medical, they're nearly indistinguishable. They took two bodies off the Nebula. To any eyes, they just looked like young woman. Identical twins. But they're beyond identical. Perfect matches, genetically, which is impossible for even identical human siblings. Aside from that genetic oddity, all Medical found were traces of silica in their spinal cords. The only indication they're partly cybernetic. As of now, we haven't any way to tell them from humans without yanking out their spines. Which, as a screening mechanism, is impractical to say the least." As for the last question, she manages to crook a grin. She answers with a question of her own. "Ensign! PO!" She's using her 'officer' voice. A rarity when she isn't yelling at someone. Though she's not really yelling now. If anything, there's an encouraging note injected in her tone. "What are we?"

"Nearly indistinguishable." Quill echoes the words in a whisper, closing his eyes as though listening is already an overwhelming input and more sensory information cannot be allowed. Then Rhea asks her question, and 'scared shitless' doesn't seem like an appropriate answer, so the Ensign straightens a bit. "Humans, sir," he answers. "Snipes of the Colonial Navy."

Snatch is still unsure how having some silica in someone's back can make her a cylon, and she misses the thrust of Rhea's question until the Doc's answer puts it in perspective— the Cap'm's asking her if she's a cylon. It makes her buck up a little, some fire in her eyes, "Ou-ais Ah'm your'n snaahp, Cap'm," Major, but that's going to take some time to adjust, especially when she's on fire. "An' A hain't no gods-damn carcajou-sucette ma-h'r-fakkin grille-a-pain," she very nearly snarls.

"Frakking right we are, on both counts," Rhea says to Quill and Snatch, giving them a sharp nod of approval. "We are sworn snipes in the Colonial Engineering Corps. Every day we get up, take thirty-five *thousand* tons of battlestar loaded down with the population of a small town, and make it our bitch. We break the hyperlight barrier with a twist of our wrists. We bring light to darkness, we build walls where there was once only black, empty space, we put our hands into the most dangerous, destructive machines humanity ever devised and, for us, they sing such beautiful songs as would break a lesser human's heart. Forget assault rifles and Viper gun turrets. It's the snipes that should fill the toasters' nightmares at night because we *will* take those frakkers apart and use them to refurbish the hull without breaking a sweat. So, yes, Ensign. It is, partially, our job to figure out how they're different and if we can detect it. And that's what we will endeavor to do. We will take these skinjobs apart with the same terrifying technical skill with which we tackle every other job on this ship. Because they have *no* idea the frightening power they have frakked with when we got our hands on them. We clear?"

It's hard to say what will rise faster, the rising flood of instinctive mortal panic or the levy of strength Rhea's building up, her words falling into place like bricks and mortar. Inner conflict is easily visible on a face Quill is trying and failing to keep impassive. But in the end it's the levy that holds, and there's even a bit of a smile at the mention of 'frightening power.' The Ensign salutes, crisp and straight despite the grime all over his hand and sleeve. Confident. "Clear, sir," he affirms to Major Zimmerman. "There's not a machine inanimate or alive that will take down this team. We'll take the frackers apart and show them what Engineering's made of." A wry grin follows, "And with that in mind, sir? I've got a job to do." Quill heads back to the generator, returning to the task with a new determination.

And from Mopsus Doe, of course, the exhortation elicits a regularly triumphant chorus of, "Ou-ais, Cap'm!" MAJOR. She looked pissed to hell and back before, and now she looks ready to tear apart a Centurion with her bare hands. While it's still activated, preferably. She wants to hear that motherfucker scream, you can see it in her face. But she'll settle for getting back to the Destiny to tear out some more inconspicuous-looking goodies. "M'a git back on mahn chor'n, ou-ais!" she agrees with the Doc, and makes to go after a moment's stiff-backed military politeness, unless Rhea needs anything else.

Rhea acknowledges Quill's salute sharply as he hustles off to work. She's usually more foreman than officer, but she came by her rank pins honestly. An equally sharp nod to Snatch. "Get to it, PO. Idle hands never did anybody any good, eh?" She cracks a crooked grin. "Not like we're lacking for work just now."

"Ne'er, Camp'm," Mopsus Doe drawls, and scoots. Major. Has she just not noticed, or has it just ingrained itself so deeply into her vocabulary that the term Captain, in her mind, only really refers to Rhea? She's only ever used any portion of Rhea's actual name two or three times in her years on Genesis.

Rhea has always regarded the title as much as a nickname as 'Snatch' or 'Gizmo' or 'Professor', or any of the other funky handles the engineers have acquired. And she is rather captain of this bit of the ship. She lets Snatch get back to work, and attends to her own duties. She shies away from her desk, heading over to take control of a power console for awhile. The memos will wait. She's feeling mechanical just now.

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