Helena's gaze rose as her tablet computer reported a loss of connectivity, one of the side effects that prevented the permanent deployment of mobile EM field generators to keep Cylon infiltrators silent while working aboard her ship. Prolonged exposure to a generator could even cause a device to short out and so she placed the tablet in stasis mode, dropping it on the wardroom table as she waited for the guest of the hour to appear.
Around her, a limited representation of her senior staff waited. Sienn was present both to handle the application of Hansen's miniature field generator and discuss technical needs, as was Shaw. Garner and Jonasson were present for the same reason, Fisk had appointed himself as guard instead of one of his marines, and Hiskari would be along with Hansen herself. Helena's lips quirked. So in the end, most of her staff was present. They were just missing Taylor, Chadaara, and Hill, and Belzen was up in the CIC covering for her while they held this meeting.
A knock announced the arrival of Hansen and Hiskari, and Helena sat up a bit straighter in her seat. "Come." The door slid open to allow the two entrance; Hiskari looking as serene as always in her… Helena had taken to thinking of it as a 'modified' Fleet uniform for her sanity's sake, and Hansen considerably less composed than usual in her brand new aluminized Melinex catsuit. While it wasn't quite as mirror-like and distracting as Helena had feared, it was a silvery, body-hugging garment on a very curvy woman and distracting in ways that had nothing to do with reflectivity. Her and Hansen's eyes met and the knowing quirk of Hansen's brow made Helena flush slightly before attempting to regain control of the situation. "So, what do you think of the latest in prisoner wear?"
"This catsuit is binding, restrictive, and altogether uncomfortable." Hansen grimaced, running her hands over the sleek silver garment before inhaling deeply. "Additionally, it makes it difficult for me to breathe, particularly when I bend at all in the waist."
As unprofessional as it was, Helena really couldn't help herself. "Comfort is irrelevant."
Hansen inclined her head at that, the faintest hint of a smile tugging at her lips. "Turning my own words back against me. How very witty, Admiral. I would ask if I could sit, but I'd prefer not to in this… atrocity you've forced me to wear. So can we proceed with the reason you've called me here?"
"Not yet." Leaning back, Helena gestured to the Twi'lek sitting two seats down on her right. "Sienn has a present for you first."
Hopping out of her seat, Sienn circled the table as she dug into the box she was carrying. "Now, you might feel a slight pinch… or a moderate pinch. Not sure. Nobody wanted to test this out before you, so I'm sorta shooting in the dark here." Pulling out a C-shaped metallic device, she leaned in and pressed it against Hansen's face, circling the blonde's left eye from the beginning of her eyebrow all the way out along the brow ridge before descending to follow the outside of her eye socket to the bottom. Hansen made a face, the device moving with her face as her brow's position shifted, and Sienn smiled widely. "Success. Well, assuming you're not seeing everything inverted or the colors are off or anything?"
Hansen sighed, turning her head back and forth before narrowing her eyes. "No, my vision seems to be completely normal. It's nice to know you'd attach such a potentially damaging piece of technology to me without testing it or even warning me, though." Reaching up to finger the device, she turned her attention back to Helena. "I take it there's a reason behind all this?"
"Yes. We know from Gina and your own words that you can contact the Cylons. This makes sure you don't. I don't know where the signals come from, and I don't really care. The device we stuck to your face generates a localized EM field around your head, and the catsuit reflects signals if your body emits them." Reactivating her tablet, Helena called up the lengthy to-do list of the ship's engineering staff and then pushed the computer towards Hansen. "And this is why you're being allowed out of the brig at all."
The micro generator rose along with Hansen's brow as she inspected the tablet for a moment, scrolling down the lengthy list of tasks before sighing. "I see. Your desire to exploit my skills outweighs your desire to punish me. Very well. After all, I lack Captain Fierar's ability to amuse myself twenty-four hours a day in a small brig cell. I will require an alteration to my catsuit, help constructing an additional piece of technology for use in my work, and I need to know if I will be resuming my work as navigator after the upgrade."
Helena's jaw dropped at the gall of her former lover. She was requesting further privileges? Already? Swallowing the urge to snap at Hansen, she decided to at least hear the blonde out. After all, her efficiency and skills were unparalleled. It was highly unlikely she'd request something she didn't find necessary. "Maybe, depends, and why does it matter?"
"Whether I am allowed to do the second alters the necessity of the first and the third is affected by it as well." Hansen tugged at the wrist of her catsuit for a moment before growling in frustration. "This illustrates my problem nicely. I can't bare my forearm when I need to, which makes this next part hard to demonstrate." Then, to Helena's disbelief, the blonde reached back and tugged, the sound of a separating zipper horrifically loud in the otherwise silent room. Working the catsuit down her left arm, Hansen pulled it free before carefully pinning the empty sleeve under her arm to keep the front from sagging and baring her breast. "Now…"
Helena quickly directed her attention upward at the wardroom ceiling. "What the hell? Is the partial nudity really necessary?"
"Yes. Besides, you act as if it's not something you've seen many times before. Major Jonasson, please remember where my face is located before I provide the others with a practical demonstration of the superior strength my kind possesses." Helena shot a glance to her left at where Jonasson was doing his best to keep his gaze on her face, occasionally dipping south before migrating back to safe territory. "Admiral, look at me please. The sooner you understand my proposal, the sooner I can get dressed."
Well why hadn't she said so. Helena looked at Hansen, who was holding her left arm out for inspection. After a moment, Helena's eyes narrowed as she found what she was supposed to be looking for. "You've been cutting lately. Disturbing, and not doing much to encourage me to trust you with any more privileges than you already have. Encouraging me to schedule you for some therapy time, though."
Hansen rolled her eyes, pulling her arm back and wiggling it into the sleeve of her catsuit. "What I doubt Gina reported, if you don't see the significance, is that Cylons of my model can interface with a computer through a direct fiber optic connection. I can literally stick a cable into a computer, stick the other end into my arm, and use my brain instead of a keyboard. It's how I get so much work done in my off hours. Rather than constantly cut myself and run the risk of infection, I'd like to widen the wrist of my catsuit slightly and construct an interface that runs along my left arm. It would insert a fiber optic splice directly into my forearm about midway up the length of it, and create a jack just past the cuff of the catsuit on my wrist that I could access without nudity or cutting through the garment itself."
Ugh. Inhuman, a possible metaphor for heterosexual coitus, and a really strong reminder of what her two ex-girlfriends really were. Helena frowned and decided to take herself out of the debate; she wanted to say no instinctively, but the technically oriented members of the crew were the ones who needed her and so she would open things up to a vote for once. "Thoughts, people?"
"That's how you got the CNPs reprogrammed so fast, isn't it?" Shaw leaned forward in her seat, staring at Hansen curiously. When Hansen inclined her head in agreement, that seemed to settle the matter with her. "Sir, recommend we let her. The amount of work she had to do with the CNP and how fast she did it… it would have taken me far, far longer to do the conventional way. Especially with how much work we have ahead of us, I think it'll come in handy. Recommend we isolate the terminal she's working on and double-check her work, of course."
Given she'd already put work into freeing Hansen from the brig, Helena shouldn't have been surprised that Sienn agreed with the Caprican lieutenant. "There's always the risk she could try to link into the entire ship without permission and take over, like how the Cylons took out the Colonial Fleet. But somehow I doubt she wants a lightsaber blade shoved through her skull, so I believe she'll behave. Yes, Hansen?" Gulping, the blonde nodded quickly. "Good. So I stand with Shaw. If all Hansen needs is the fiber inserted and stabilized along with a terminator jack, I can do that in twenty minutes easy and have her to work right after that."
Helena waited but when neither of then men replied, she coughed before pointing her tablet stylus at Garner. He shrugged helplessly. "She's not one of mine, Admiral. I'm not a programmer. If she says it'll get her work done faster, it's a lot like when you let the Chief and I take over the Hephaestus
's factory for a day to make new tools for the engineering staff, isn't it?"
"Point." Jonasson was another shrugger, and Fisk probably didn't particularly care since it didn't affect him in the least so she didn't bother polling him. If all the ones doing the actual work thought it was a good idea, though… Helena sighed. Fine. She'd go along with it. "Permission granted. When we break up, go with Sienn to get the work done to your arm. After that, get your catsuit adjusted to fit and from there you fall under Lieutenant Shaw's purview." Hansen grimaced at the prospect of working as her rival's subordinate. "Hey, should have thought of that before you turned out to be a toaster." Which made sense in a way that didn't. "Moving on, what does any of this have to do with naviga… oh, you better not be suggesting what I think you are."
Taking up the tablet again, Hansen quickly tapped away at the screen. "The design of the replacement bridge is nearly complete, meaning I would have to request the necessary modifications soon if they were to be included. But Cylon basestars operate using a hybrid, as I'm sure you know from eavesdropping or direct interview with Gina, who has direct mental control over all systems. I can direct faster with my mind than with my hands. While a traditional interface should definitely be constructed, if we also include a direct cable link and I include several overrides in the software, I could essentially serve as a hybrid for the Pegasus
during combat operations."
Helena threw her head back and laughed outright at that. "You want me to let you take over my ship with your mind because its how the Cylons run their ships? Are you out of your frakking mind?"
"The Cylons defeated the Colonial Fleet, didn't they?" That shut Helena up. Hansen handed over the tablet, revealing she'd navigated through the network to the computer in her quarters. A set of schematics for a CIC station with a reclining chair and fiber optic interface stared up at her. Someone had definitely done their homework. "Do with it what you will. If I might be excused, I'd like to get my interface constructed so I can get to work."
Waving one hand absently, Helena dismissed Hansen. "Rest of you can go too. Except for you, Shaw. Need you to stay for a moment." The others disappeared through the door, off to see to their individual responsibilities, and Helena opted not to mince words. "If I have Sienn build a way to plug Hansen into the Nav station, could you keep her mind from wandering into places it didn't belong?"
Shaw nodded, bit her lip, shook her head once, and then shook it again. "Honestly, sir? No. I could construct firewalls to isolate the navigational controls but if I gave her too little access and she genuinely needed something, or even just felt like taking it, I don't think I could keep up with a hacker who can move at the speed of thought. Sorry, sir."
Helena grimaced; she'd been afraid of that. Frak.
"So this is where you've been hiding out when you leave the cell. Should have known from the guards. I go past here all the time, too."
Turning around, Annika used one hand to shade her eyes as she squinted into the sun. "Gina? But with the wireless networking blocked and my projection encompassing all my senses, I shouldn't be able to see or hear you. Or are you not real?" Would this Gina tell the truth if she wasn't? Annika wasn't sure; she'd never tried to project a situation with other humans.
Gina kicked her shoes off and padded gingerly across the warm sand of the beach. "Oh, I'm here. I figured that since you'd already outted this ability, I might as well use it. Took a spare length of cable, connected it to the network router, and then jacked in. Reminds me, I hope my bandage holds or I'm going to have a lot of blood on my nice white dress."
"Ah yes. It is that day, isn't it?" Gina was wearing the same outfit now that Annika had seen her preparing for the last two days: a simple white dress with a gold stole and matching sash around her waist, along with a necklace crafted from scrap metal Annika herself had scavenged for her fellow Cylon. "I look forward to hearing about how things went. History shows that members of the Thirteenth Tribe weren't received well by the Colonials. And they weren't part of the species that wiped out twelve worlds and billions of humans."
Crouching down, Gina began to scrawl something in the sand. "True, but these people have had their faith in their gods shaken. They might be more receptive now." She continued to move to her right as she wrote and Annika followed, waving her hand and causing the endless rows of code she'd already drawn in the sand to part and form a narrow path for her to use. "So, aren't you going to at least wish me luck?"
Annika snorted in disgust, leaning forward to try and figure out what Gina was doing but finding herself unable to read what were definitely not Colonial Standard characters upside down. "Luck is irrelevant. You will succeed or fail based upon your own merits, not on… probability taken personally."
"Probability taken personally. I like that one." Gina went silent as she continued to trace the odd symbols in the sand, slowly moving further and further to her right. "But you'll never know if something floats or not if you don't throw it into the water." Finishing, Gina straightened up and brushed some sand off her dress. "And it'd be a nice diversion from all this, wouldn't it? Step back and relax from your one-woman crusade to redeem our kind in the eyes of the Colonials for a few hours?"
Annika narrowed her eyes and bent her knees, leaping toward Gina and easily clearing the five or six feet of code in the sand before touching down. "I am Annika Hansen, Lieutenant in the Colonial Fleet, assigned to the Battlestar Pegasus
. I'm helping because I have the ability and I end up just as dead as a human crewman if the ship is destroyed by the Cylons. I don't resurrect like you do. And I have no need to 'redeem' myself. I didn't do anything to these people, unlike you."
"Low blow, SEVEN." Gina folded her arms over her chest and glared. "Fine, I'll be honest. I wanted you to be there because it'd mean something to me. You've been nice to talk to for the last week or so and I thought we were starting to become friends. Besides, if I was just doing things out of guilt, I'd be working myself to death like you. I'm not. Have you ever considered that I'm spreading the Word because I truly believe in what I'm doing?" She nodded towards the long stretch of shaky text she'd written in the sand and when Annika looked back, the blonde was gone.
That was going to come back to bite her later, she just knew it. Annika sighed; she'd make it up to her cellmate later. Somehow. The EM field generators, like her catsuit, didn't stop projection but simply kept the signal from propagating. Inside the cell, they'd be able to share a projection. Maybe she could treat Gina to some of the spots on Aerelon and Caprica she'd visited. Given Aerelon's status as a Colonial backwater, she was fairly certain no other Cylon had gone to some of the spots she'd visited and therefore it'd be a new experience for Gina, which was hard to come by.
Attempts to read the line in the sand had her coming up blank at first, before she dipped deeper into her memory and found some of her Elder Language learning. "Οὕτως γὰρ ἠγάπησεν ὁ Θεὸς τὸν κόσμον, ὥστε τὸν Υἱὸν τὸν μονογενῆ ἔδωκεν, ἵνα πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων εἰς Αὐτὸν μὴ ἀπόληται ἀλλ᾽ ἔχῃ ζωὴν αἰώνιον"
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.
The randomness of it confused Annika for a moment, and then the what and the why of Gina's activities hit her like a pyramid ball to the face. She'd been blinded by her assumption that all mass models would go to a resurrection ship and a new shell upon death. But for a traitor like Gina, there was no going home. When she died, like Annika, like any human crewman, death was final. The promise of an afterlife through belief in a higher power was her only consolation that there was something more awaiting her after she fulfilled her purpose and her life ended. And so logically, surrounded by others just as mortal as her, she'd want to spread that promise and that prospect of eternal life so that they too could be rewarded after death.
Forcing herself back into the real world, she reached down and yanked the fiber optic cable free of the connector on her arm and stepped forward, only to come up short when she found a diminutive, pale form in her way. "I take it you need an escort, since I doubt the guards are inclined to attend a monotheist meeting?"
"Correct." Hiskari turned and passed through the doors first, leading Annika past the two marines and waving them off when they attempted to follow. "Major Dorset?"
"Hiskari? Thank you."
Hiskari just hummed noncommittally at that. "She's a remarkable woman. She was raised, if you want to call it that, to believe in the wrong things. She did the wrong things. And then she realized they were wrong. She wants to change. And even as she tries to help herself, she wants to help others. Honestly, I'd be glad to turn out to be half the woman she is."
She must have lingered in the projection for longer than she thought because she didn't catch sight of Gina on the entirety of the long walk to the bow of the ship where the converted temple could be found. By the time Annika slipped through the doors into the room, Gina was just ascending the steps onto the slightly raised platform at the front of the room. Their eyes met and Gina mouthed 'later'. Annika nodded and eyed the chairs in front of the platform, of which only twenty or so were occupied, before remembering her limitations and wandering over to stand in the back of the room.
Perhaps 'later', she could talk to someone about getting an outfit that would allow her to sit like a normal person…