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 Post subject: Re: Obstinate Tin Soldier
PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2009 5:35 pm 
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"I know I said that I wanted to transfer off this ship as soon as we reestablished communication with our forces in Colonial space, but what would you say if I wanted to stay here a little longer?" Sharon asked as she put the cards and plastic chips in a small metal box.

"I'd say I'd be happy for you to stay as long as you like. Is our regular card game so enticing, or is there something else onboard that makes you want to stay?" Theron asked with a smile while he dropped the nearly empty green translucent food bowl into the nearby waste chute.

"I've been working on some ideas about aerospace combat in my head, and I'm convinced that I can improve on our standard Raider deployment tactics considerably," she said as she sat the box on top of her private terminal.

"Tell me about it," Theron stated, leaning back against the table.

"Well, I think our current formation tactics slow down the Raider's response time with too much coordination," Sharon said as she swiveled her terminal chair around, swung one leg over it, and sat down in it backwards with her legs spread around the back frame and her arms crossed on top of the back cushion. "Aerospace combat is a contest of who can maneuver fastest. To complete a maneuver you have to see what is going on, decide how to respond, and then execute that response. The process repeats until one side is defeated. When we send out a large formation of Raiders that all coordinate with each other we slow our maneuver process down for each fighter. One fighter alone can decide what it wants to do and do it very quickly. Two fighters have to communicate between each other, and that's one coordination channel which is still fast. Three fighters all talking to each other have three coordination channels. Four fighters have six coordination channels. Each additional fighter we are adding to the formation adds a small benefit from having another Raider but adds a large number of additional coordination channels that have to be resolved during each maneuver. The Viper pilots are responding to our maneuvers and making their own faster than we can. We wind up with Raiders trying to execute tactics that were obsolete several seconds before they even start them. That may not sound like much of an advantage for the Colonials, but in the middle of a furball even one second can be a very long time." Sharon waved her hands around each other like dueling fighters as she said 'furball' to demonstrate her meaning.

"Are you saying we should just let each fighter operate independently?" Theron asked.

"No," Sharon answered, "The tactical advantages of having aviators support each other in setting up enemies for shots and covering each other's weak spots is too great to give it up completely. I think we just need to reduce the scale of co-ordination so it doesn't slow the Raiders down so much. Viper pilots co-ordinate in pairs. Raiders may be fast enough to coordinate in groups of three. I won't know until I can experiment with them. We could handle strategic level coordination with pre-established formation orders."

"It sounds like you're proposing to train Raiders to fight like Viper pilots," Theron observed.

"I admit that I'm stealing a lot of the enemy's own ideas, but our Raiders can FTL and won't have the g-force limitations of the human pilots. Our optimum tactics will probably still not be the same as theirs."

"So why hasn't anyone else thought of this before?" Theron asked, "If it's such a good idea why isn't it already standard practice."

"Well, maybe no one else thought of it because I'm the first Cylon officer who can really see the contest from both perspectives. I'm probably the only Cylon to study at the Colonial Aerospace Warfare School. I served in a Colonial combat squadron. I have the Intelligence background to think about aerospace combat with high-level systems analysis programming. And, trust me, as a fellow aviator I can also appreciate what our Raider's experience in combat," Sharon explained. "Or maybe I'm just that much smarter," She added as she flashed Theron a wide grin.

"I don't know enough about Naval Operations to know if you're right or not," Theron admitted. "But what you say sounds reasonable and you are right that you certainly have the credentials. I don't understand why this would make you want to stay here in a rear area supply ship, though. Shouldn't you transfer to Naval Operations where they have the resources to let you test this theory properly?"

"They have the resources to test it properly," Sharon said shaking her head and leaning back slightly away from her reversed chair's backrest., "But they'd never let me conduct the test. In Military Intelligence I'm a Hero. If I transfer to Naval Operations I'll have to start at the bottom. If I show up as an unproven outsider and try to tell them that their entire fighter deployment philosophy is wrong, then I'll never get anywhere even if I uploaded my memories to every higher officer in Operations command. By the time I got a chance to demonstrate my ideas the invasion of Earth would be long over."

Theron watched closely as Sharon blew a puff of air at a few loose strands of hair that had settled in front of her face, then ran her hands through her loose mane to push them back into place while she continued talking. "Here I wouldn't have the resources to test it properly, but if you'll help me then at least I could do some test. A dramatic small-scale demonstration would be all I need to get high command's attention. We're a manufacturing ship, so we could easily add a few fighters on the next production run to give me one squadron to experiment with. The Intelligence duties here hardly occupy all my work hours, and we're far enough out of the way that no one seems to care what we do as long as we deliver their supplies on schedule. I could have plenty of time and space to train my squadron unmolested by doubting officers in Operations command. Once I'm ready, then I can arrange my demonstration. If I could win a fly-off against one of our elite Raider units, or better yet wipe out a superior Colonial force from Galactica or Pegasus, then no one could ignore it."

Sharon had begun to speak faster and gesture more emphatically with her hands. An enthusiastic smile filled her face as she focused on communicating her inspiration to Theron. "My ideas could completely change the way we develop and use fighters for our invasion of Earth, but that war is probably only a few years away. I think my only chance to get these ideas accepted is to develop them here quietly on a small scale and then demonstrate them quickly and dramatically. I really feel that this could be much bigger than the intel analysis I was hoping to do on the Colonial Worlds, but I'll need your approval and your help to do it." Sharon stopped talking and looked expectantly at her commander. "Will you give me this chance, Theron?"

"And you'll stay on here under me as long as you're working on this?" Theron asked.

"Yes," Sharon said nodding her head. "If it works, then you'll be lauded as the understanding and foresighted commander who gave a Hero of the Cylon Race the freedom and guidance she needed to make a critical military breakthrough. I'll also give you plenty of other official justifications for my squadron so that if I fail you will have your career protected from any taint of mismanagement or misallocation."

"What do you need, and how long will it take?"

"A Heavy Raider, eleven Raiders, some Scout Drones, access to the upper port hangar bay for repairs and modifications, and a steady supply of both live and training ammunition," Sharon answered ticking off her wish list. "As for time: maybe months... maybe just weeks... I don't know for sure. No one's ever tried this before," She explained.

"You'll still have time for cards, I hope." Theron stated, while flashing a slick smile.

"I hope so too," she answered.

"If you stay, Sharon, then you can have your squadron." Theron agreed.

"By your command," Sharon responded happily.

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 Post subject: Re: Obstinate Tin Soldier
PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2009 5:35 pm 
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Cylon Mobile Depot Ship #8
Sharon Valerii
29th Day Onboard

Sharon sat in the command staff meeting room in the weekly management meeting and passed the time by imagining the details of her new Raider squadron. During the Ship Services presentation she came up with names for the ships. While the Logistics manager droned on she imagined the paint scheme she wanted: brightly colored during training to maximize visibility and flat black once they were operational to reduce it. Naval Operations complained about the unreasonable workload Sharon's search for Convoy 18 required and the Facility manager updated them on the production of the refueling tanker while she planned the squadron's first training exercise.

Sharon was already sketching out ideas for additions to her flightsuit when Selene started giving excuses for not having arrested any heretics. Production was low and defect rates were higher this week all around the depot ship's manufacturing areas, and Selene was suspicious that it was sabotage. Sharon wondered for a moment how much ineptness was blamed on the actions of undiscovered heretics. For a moment she considered there might not really be any traitors at all, just normal bureaucrats looking for something to blame their mediocrity on. If she didn't already have an important side project to complete in her squadron Sharon might have tried to investigate that theory, but it was not her department and she already had more than enough work to do.

Sharon pretended to pay attention and imagined what she wanted her unit patch to look like. She had liked Galactica's insignia, and decided that she would copy its colors, size, and shape. The stylized bird in the center would have to go. Sharon would replace it with a stylized Cylon Raider, its upstretched wings defining the inner circle of the patch and its fuselage thrust up through the center. Around the outside of the Raider would go her own unit designation, which brought up a new problem: what would she name the unit? The knowledgebase listed the next available fighter unit designation as 'Attack Squadron 165,' but she would also need a nickname. Cylon Raider Tactics Group? No, too clinical. Black Knights? No, people would mistake it for 'Black Nights,' It should be something reverent anyway… Black Angels. It was perfect; they'd be the CF-165 Black Angels.

Finally, it was Sharon's turn to give her department's weekly report. She started off slow. There were no human signals from SIGINT. The ship's 'farm' research was almost ready to restart testing. Then she presented Amy's new proposal for expanded Scout and Raider surveys to locate the Human "Convoy 18" based on their new information.

As she expected Jason, the Naval Operations manager, was unhappy with her demand for more of his department's resources. He complained that the surveys weakened the ship's defenses by reducing the number of Raiders available to respond to an attack. He complained that his department was paying most of the cost of Sharon's intel gathering. He complained that Sharon's constant changes to her search requests prevented him from scheduling properly. Sharon guessed that Jason was complaining now to set himself up to ask for a slice of Sharon's budget or to use Sharon's search for Convoy 18 as an excuse for some future shortfall he anticipated. He never expected what Sharon was really wanting.

"We know that they have found enough water to survive indefinitely," Sharon said, "We have to act quickly because we don't know how much longer they'll be in our operational sector, and we are the furthest spinward Cylon facility. If they get by us and set up a new colony then in a few generations we may have to fight a whole new war instead of just catch a handful of civilian spaceships."

"No, Sharon," Theron answered, "I think Jason is right. You have been very extravagant in this proposal with Naval Operation's resources. You seem to have a constant need for use of their ships that they must bear the cost of. I also don't know if you appreciate how difficult you are making Jason's job by constantly wanting to retask the search groups." Jason smiled smugly at Sharon from across the table.

"Since Military Intelligence seem to be in a constant need of a squadron of smallcraft, Sharon, I want you to establish your own fighter group to supply your department's intelligence gathering needs," Theron conclued.

"But Theron," Sharon feigned displeasure.

"No 'buts' Sharon, your department needs to pull it own weight instead of leaning on Jason's. This is an order." Theron stated firmly.

"By your command." Sharon replied.

"Theron, I didn't mean..." Jason started.

"No, you were completely right," Theron said interupting him, "Sharon was being too quick to spend resources when the cost went to other departments and making her department responsible for its own squadron will force her to be a better steward of the Cylon Empire's resources. It may have been a hard thing for Sharon to hear, but I'm glad you were bold enough to force the issue."

"Hector," Theron said, turning to the ship's Facilities manager, "add one more Heavy Raider onto the end of your upper airframe assembly line's production run and eleven Raiders to the lower airframe assembly line's run. When the upper line retools for scout drones add twelve more to that run as well. Charge the costs of these additional airframes to the Military Intelligence department."

"By your command," Hector responded.

"Sharon, present to me a revised search plan by the end of today that only needs twelve search groups instead of sixteen. Also, by this time tomorrow present to me a revised budget estimate for your department to take into account the cost of this squadron, and include in that estimate the cost of taking over responsibility for all repair operations in the upper port hangar bay."

"By your command," Sharon said as robotically as she could manage. Sharon had to admit to herself that Theron, like his fellow modeltype she had met on Galactica, could certainly be a slick talker when he wanted to be.

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 Post subject: Re: Obstinate Tin Soldier
PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2009 5:37 pm 
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Author's note for Day 29: If you haven't read day 29 above yet, then do so before proceeding. ^^^^^^^

I've said before that names mean things in Obstinate Tin Soldier. For example, the star that Boomer is able to identify by color on Day14 is named Pavonis, from the Latin 'pavo' meaning peacock. Sharon's rival Selene's name is from the Greek word for The Moon, queen of the night. Sharon's pastor Karen... well, actually I know a real minister named Karen. Cyrus's name reveals his connection to the first Galactica series and a possible atypical attitude toward the humans.

What does Sharon's squadron name mean? They are "Attack Squadron 165." As with Sharon's minister, any resemblence to real people living or dead is NOT co-incidental. There is a real Attack Squadron 165, a Naval squadron flying carrier-based attack aircraft. They have done nothing that seems especially similar to Sharon or her squardron's situation. So why did I chose them, of all units, to be the designation for Sharon's new squadron? Because I liked their nickname and their unit patch. They aren't named the Black Angels, though, and their unit patch looks nothing like the one Sharon devised. Instead, their logo features a green stylized version of the unit's namesake... an item whose emulation seems like a hopeful boast for a group of aviators that must fly repeatedly into harms way and then return through stormy weather to a ship hidden in a huge ocean... that famous Australian machine which always manages to find its way back home.






















Image
Here is more information on the AV-165 Boomers: http://www.intruderassociation.org/squadrons/va165.html

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 Post subject: Re: Obstinate Tin Soldier
PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2009 5:39 pm 
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Warning: Something really vile happens in this chapter. You remember the last chapter with a red warning? Well, It's like that but worse. Do NOT let young children or small household appliances read this.


Cylon Mobile Depot Ship #8

Sharon Valerii
32nd Day Onboard

"I'm satisfied that you and your staff have improved your facility, training, and procedures enough that we can restart testing on the human females," Sharon said to Cecil as they stood in the farm's observation room looking out at the women in the main laboratory.

"Should we wait until tomorrow morning to begin?" Cecil asked.

"No, we're behind schedule enough already," Sharon answered as she shifted her unneeded cane from one hand to the other and back. "Which one did you plan on impregnating first?"

"Number seven, the first one in the unanesthetized group," Cecil said while signaling his staff to begin the experiment.

Sharon looked out the observation window at the petite but athletic woman with the short blond hair and familiar face whose rape she had just ordered. She had prayed as Karen had suggested for understanding and strength, but if God had answered her she could not sense it. If anything, she thought, her weakness seemed worse, but she was determined not to let it prevent her from doing what was necessary and right.

The subject's eyes darted and her expression filled with panic as the technicians lifted her smock to bare her genitals and abdomen. Sharon saw the pair of scars on the left side of the subject's stomach and unconsciously rubbed her hand across her own stomach where her gunshot scar wasn't. Sharon squeezed her cane in her left hand as the human woman strained uselessly against her bonds while the technicians inserted the dilating clamp between her legs.

Sharon slipped her right hand into her coat pocket. Over the past two days she had almost forgotten about the piece of paper there. She had been able to bury herself in the challenges of spaceflight, convoy movements, cards, and fighter tactics. She had allowed herself to forget for a short time the unsettling things that had tormented her: her own memories, this room, and her inability to reconcile either one with what she had always believed to be true.

"The mounting process usually only takes about three minutes, but this subject's body cavity is tighter than the others so we will have to take more time inserting the equipment," Cecil explained. "I could have gone in surgically and cut some vaginal tissue out to make her a perfect fit for the machine, but I was worried about damaging the subject too much."

Sharon swallowed and nodded her head, "I think that was the right decision," she said while she watched through the soundproof glass as the woman balled her fists and silently screamed. New technicians began filing in as the second shift workers arrived to take over the experiment. "I'm going to remain in the lab for a while and continue to observe the experiment," Sharon said to Cecil.

"I could stay as well..." Cecil started to say.

"... and manage your boss's perceptions of your department." Sharon interrupted him. "No. I understand your desire to hang on my elbow while I'm here, so I'll make this an order. Take the shift off. Get some sleep. I'll call you if anything happens that requires your attention."

"By your command," Cecil stated, and left the observation room.

Sharon turned back to the observation window and watched the second shift technicians finish installing the hoses and cables that lead from the impregnation machine in the middle of the work area to the human woman's womb. "God, help me..." Sharon pleaded. Sharon left the observation area through a second door that lead down a flight of stairs to the laboratory. She took the stairs carefully using her cane. Cursing from a familiar voice was audible through the lab doorway. All of the technicians were clustered around the large, boxy frame in the middle of the lab adjusting controls and mechanisms that ran the impregnation process. Tubes and wires led from the machine to the human woman who struggled unattended on the other side of the work area. The hoses suddenly jumped and stiffened as they were pressurized. The restrained woman's back arched as every muscle in her body tensed. The woman threw her head back, closed her eyes, and screamed incoherently.

Sharon ran the few remaining meters to the suffering woman's bedside. "Kara!" Sharon exclaimed, "Kara, it's going to be okay." Sharon put her left hand lightly on her friend's shoulder and cupped the right one over the woman's balled fist. Sharon leaned close and whispered, "It's me Kara. It's Sharon."

Sharon felt the hand beneath hers relax and she slipped her own hand inside it and squeezed gently. "I'm right here with you, Kara," Sharon said, "I'm going to help you through this... ah... ah." Sharon clenched her jaw as pain shot through her right hand.

"Cylon bitch! What are you doing to me?!" was all her friend said.

"Go ahead and squeeze if it'll make you feel better," Sharon replied. The hoses bucked again and the human and Cylon women both grimaced in pain. Sharon stretched over with her left hand for a wet wound cleaning towel on the nearby tray of medical equipment. Sharon rubbed her right thumb over the back of the hand that clenched hers with vice-like strength and wiped her friend's brow with the wet towel, saying "I know this looks bad right now, but please trust me that this will work out for the best. It has to. I'm not going to let them damage you, Kara. It's just going to hurt a little while." Sharon sensed one of the technicians approach behind her but kept her eyes on the grimacing, tear stained, familiar face of her friend and said, "Just focus on my hand and the sound of my voice, Kara. Try not to think of anything else."

Sharon felt a hand on her shoulder, and the Cylon medical technician leaned close to her ear and quietly said the word, "Elizabeth."

Sharon turned to face the technician with a quizzical look and asked, "What?"

"The subject," the technician responded, "Its name is Elizabeth."

Sharon turned back to the suffering woman strapped to the bed and looked into the unfamiliar face of a stranger. "I knew that." Sharon said.

"If you could get it to relax some, Sharon, the process might go easier," the technician added before walking back to the other side of the room.

"Did you hear that, Elizabeth," Sharon said, "It will be better if you can relax. I'm going to stay right here with you and you're going to be okay. All of this will be okay."

"Just close your eyes, Elizabeth," Sharon instructed in a soothing voice, "Try to imagine that you're somewhere better." Sharon wiped the woman's tears away with the damp towel while her own streamed freely down her face.

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 Post subject: Re: Obstinate Tin Soldier
PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2009 5:40 pm 
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Warning: Something really vile happens in this chapter. You remember the last chapter with a red warning? Well, It's like that but worse. Do NOT let young children or small household appliances read this.


Cylon Mobile Depot Ship #8

Sharon Valerii
32nd Day Onboard

"I'm satisfied that you and your staff have improved your facility, training, and procedures enough that we can restart testing on the human females," Sharon said to Cecil as they stood in the farm's observation room looking out at the women in the main laboratory.

"Should we wait until tomorrow morning to begin?" Cecil asked.

"No, we're behind schedule enough already," Sharon answered as she shifted her unneeded cane from one hand to the other and back. "Which one did you plan on impregnating first?"

"Number seven, the first one in the unanesthetized group," Cecil said while signaling his staff to begin the experiment.

Sharon looked out the observation window at the petite but athletic woman with the short blond hair and familiar face whose rape she had just ordered. She had prayed as Karen had suggested for understanding and strength, but if God had answered her she could not sense it. If anything, she thought, her weakness seemed worse, but she was determined not to let it prevent her from doing what was necessary and right.

The subject's eyes darted and her expression filled with panic as the technicians lifted her smock to bare her genitals and abdomen. Sharon saw the pair of scars on the left side of the subject's stomach and unconsciously rubbed her hand across her own stomach where her gunshot scar wasn't. Sharon squeezed her cane in her left hand as the human woman strained uselessly against her bonds while the technicians inserted the dilating clamp between her legs.

Sharon slipped her right hand into her coat pocket. Over the past two days she had almost forgotten about the piece of paper there. She had been able to bury herself in the challenges of spaceflight, convoy movements, cards, and fighter tactics. She had allowed herself to forget for a short time the unsettling things that had tormented her: her own memories, this room, and her inability to reconcile either one with what she had always believed to be true.

"The mounting process usually only takes about three minutes, but this subject's body cavity is tighter than the others so we will have to take more time inserting the equipment," Cecil explained. "I could have gone in surgically and cut some vaginal tissue out to make her a perfect fit for the machine, but I was worried about damaging the subject too much."

Sharon swallowed and nodded her head, "I think that was the right decision," she said while she watched through the soundproof glass as the woman balled her fists and silently screamed. New technicians began filing in as the second shift workers arrived to take over the experiment. "I'm going to remain in the lab for a while and continue to observe the experiment," Sharon said to Cecil.

"I could stay as well..." Cecil started to say.

"... and manage your boss's perceptions of your department." Sharon interrupted him. "No. I understand your desire to hang on my elbow while I'm here, so I'll make this an order. Take the shift off. Get some sleep. I'll call you if anything happens that requires your attention."

"By your command," Cecil stated, and left the observation room.

Sharon turned back to the observation window and watched the second shift technicians finish installing the hoses and cables that lead from the impregnation machine in the middle of the work area to the human woman's womb. "God, help me..." Sharon pleaded. Sharon left the observation area through a second door that lead down a flight of stairs to the laboratory. She took the stairs carefully using her cane. Cursing from a familiar voice was audible through the lab doorway. All of the technicians were clustered around the large, boxy frame in the middle of the lab adjusting controls and mechanisms that ran the impregnation process. Tubes and wires led from the machine to the human woman who struggled unattended on the other side of the work area. The hoses suddenly jumped and stiffened as they were pressurized. The restrained woman's back arched as every muscle in her body tensed. The woman threw her head back, closed her eyes, and screamed incoherently.

Sharon ran the few remaining meters to the suffering woman's bedside. "Kara!" Sharon exclaimed, "Kara, it's going to be okay." Sharon put her left hand lightly on her friend's shoulder and cupped the right one over the woman's balled fist. Sharon leaned close and whispered, "It's me Kara. It's Sharon."

Sharon felt the hand beneath hers relax and she slipped her own hand inside it and squeezed gently. "I'm right here with you, Kara," Sharon said, "I'm going to help you through this... ah... ah." Sharon clenched her jaw as pain shot through her right hand.

"Cylon bitch! What are you doing to me?!" was all her friend said.

"Go ahead and squeeze if it'll make you feel better," Sharon replied. The hoses bucked again and the human and Cylon women both grimaced in pain. Sharon stretched over with her left hand for a wet wound cleaning towel on the nearby tray of medical equipment. Sharon rubbed her right thumb over the back of the hand that clenched hers with vice-like strength and wiped her friend's brow with the wet towel, saying "I know this looks bad right now, but please trust me that this will work out for the best. It has to. I'm not going to let them damage you, Kara. It's just going to hurt a little while." Sharon sensed one of the technicians approach behind her but kept her eyes on the grimacing, tear stained, familiar face of her friend and said, "Just focus on my hand and the sound of my voice, Kara. Try not to think of anything else."

Sharon felt a hand on her shoulder, and the Cylon medical technician leaned close to her ear and quietly said the word, "Elizabeth."

Sharon turned to face the technician with a quizzical look and asked, "What?"

"The subject," the technician responded, "Its name is Elizabeth."

Sharon turned back to the suffering woman strapped to the bed and looked into the unfamiliar face of a stranger. "I knew that." Sharon said.

"If you could get it to relax some, Sharon, the process might go easier," the technician added before walking back to the other side of the room.

"Did you hear that, Elizabeth," Sharon said, "It will be better if you can relax. I'm going to stay right here with you and you're going to be okay. All of this will be okay."

"Just close your eyes, Elizabeth," Sharon instructed in a soothing voice, "Try to imagine that you're somewhere better." Sharon wiped the woman's tears away with the damp towel while her own streamed freely down her face.

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 Post subject: Re: Obstinate Tin Soldier
PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2009 5:41 pm 
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Thank you for the kind comments, Pierre.

Pierre wrote:
That's a terrible scene for sure, but finally written in a sober way. Probably one of the parts you worked the most on?


Author's Note for Day 32: Yes, I wrote and rewrote it. I think it's one of the crucial chapters to get right. It needed to be terrible. horrible. vile. And yet, I at the same time something you wouldn't want to stop reading. Since the beginning of Part 2 I've been showing things from within Cylon society looking out, and it makes the Cylons seem less intimidating... less like monsters. Sharon's career as an intel officer is going well. She has Cylon friends. She's enjoying her off duty hours joking and playing cards with her shipmates. It might be tempting to think that the Cylons aren't bad guys after all, they just happen to be on the other side. That there is no villain, just a misunderstanding between two noble peoples. It might be easy to forget why this very thing was so terrifying to Lt. Sharon "Boomer" Valerii back in Part 1. It was important to remind people (and machines) that there is evil... true evil... being done. And who is doing it.

There is a lot buried in the two chapters for this day. You picked up on the heartrending double meaning of Sharon's statement about Elizabeth's virginity. Other things might be harder to see until events later in the story illuminate them.

Author's Note for Day 32 continued:

Hidden in all the horror and saddness of Day 32 I threw in a little window into something unexpected. Boomer's callsign.

Up in the Boomer is Love thread I wrote:

Quote:
Why do they call you Boomer?

According to Boomer's entry in the Battlstar Galactica Wiki:

Virtual Six rhetorically asks Gaius Baltar in "Flesh and Bone" why he thinks that Valerii got the callsign "Boomer", implying a sexual reference. Aside from the fact that Valerii is the analogue of Boomer from the Original Series, the reason for giving her this callsign is likely due to her reputation for loud and botched landings with Raptors (Miniseries, "Flight of the Phoenix", "Scar").

It also adds that

In reality, "Boomer" is a nickname for a ballistic missile submarine.

Actually "Boomer" is more than just a nickname for a ballistic missile submarine. A Boomer is also a reference to the boom-style refueling tankers, such as those used by the US Air Force and "The Boomer" is the unit magazine of the 459th Air Refueling Wing. There are two military units I know of that are called "Boomers," both aviation units in the US Navy. The VT-27 Training Squadron and the retired Attack Squadron 165. Also there is another Navy unit, the VF-62 Boomerangs that became known as "Boomers" partly because it is a shortened form of Boomerang and also because they had a habit of flying their Crusader fighters supersonic and "booming" the neighborhood around the base. According to Callsigns: An Excerpt From "Fighter Country -- A History of F-14 Tomcats of NAS Oceana" by LCdr. Dave Parsons (Ret.) & Derek Nelson:

Someone with the callsign "Boomer" is either a party hound or else broke some windows with a supersonic low-level fly-by.

Lots of fanfic stories speculate on how Boomer got her callsign (though I don't know of any thing do the same for Helo), and my own Obstinate Tin Soldier fanfic at least indirectly suggests where and how Sharon Valerii earned her nickname in a future chapter.


Day 32 was that chapter.

Quote:
"How did you know what the valleys looked like after the rain?" Elizabeth asked finally breaking the silence.

"I was stationed at the airbase on the southern end of the continent for flight training," Sharon explained, "I flew over those valleys hundreds of times going to the inland weapons range for gunnery practice. We were supposed to stay subsonic, but sometimes a few of us would drop down into the hills where DRADIS couldn't see and thunder down the valleys as fast as we could. I guess we didn't think much about the people who lived there... I'm sorry." Sharon turned to face Elizabeth again and discovered her staring back with a confused expression.


I don't know if anyone noticed.

If anyone hasn't read it already, DX713 has another good take on the Boomer callsign story here:
http://bsgkindreds.com/forums/viewtopic ... 2789#22789

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Last edited by Chris Taylor on Fri May 01, 2009 5:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Obstinate Tin Soldier
PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2009 5:43 pm 
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Cylon Mobile Depot Ship #8

Sharon Valerii
33th Day Onboard

Sharon sat strapped into the local terminal in the command staff meeting room, missing the weekly worship service. Selene and her Loyalty Chief, a smarmy Leoben look-alike named Kallias, sat to her left pointing out specific segments of their surveillance recording that showed Sharon's activities in 'the farm' the previous night. Theron sat to her right carefully considering the accusations against her. Sharon studied the files on the meeting room terminal trying to identify how many cameras had been watching her in the lab and where they were all located while she waited for her chance to rebut the accusations against her.

It appeared to Sharon that there was only data from two surveillance devices available, though that didn't mean that Selene couldn't have more. In fact, Sharon would be surprised if she didn't. Since the farm laboratory was in use on both work shifts Sharon didn't think the devices could have been planted without help from someone in her department, but at this point there was no way to be sure who that was. Cecil was her primary suspect, since he had been upset with her interfering with his management of the research, but she knew it could be dangerous to make assumptions with so little information. One thing she would have to assume was that she had at least one, possibly more, members of her department actively working with Selene's Security Department to discredit her.

Selene finished making her dangerous accusations against Sharon. Theron turned to Sharon and said, "Selene has some very serious charges here, Sharon, do you have anything to say to explain yourself?"

"I'm sorry," Sharon replied casually, "I saw Selene's presentation, but I don't think she made it clear what she is accusing me of. I'm sure she must think it very important to drag me in here during the time God wants us to set aside for His worship... but all I saw was video of me spending my own off-duty time making sure that the restarted lab experiments went well."

"Don't try and play dumb, Sharon," Selene interjected, "we know you aren't. You're obviously a human sympathizer and probably a polytheist. You thought the lab technicians in the observation room couldn't hear you giving aid and comfort to the enemy, but I have six hours of recordings to prove it."

"If using them as test subjects for vital medical experiments is 'aid and comfort,' then you have a strange vocabulary," Sharon responded, "It is true that I tried to keep the subject's stress level down during the procedure. I don't see anything wrong with that, and I think that it likely helped make the procedure go smoother for us as well. Is it not enough that I work tirelessly to first drive the animals off the land we need and now to domesticate them for our service? Am I now expected to spend all of my personal time being needlessly cruel to them as individuals or risk being labeled a traitor?"

"It isn't just this one incident." Selene added, "You set back the work in that lab weeks, delaying important Cylon research, as an excuse to keep those humans from being killed."

"No, as I recall I had to delay the work in that lab in order to fix the poorly managed mess that you were responsible for. It wasn't me who set the research back, but no doubt you would have preferred that I just allow invalid data to be sent to headquarters rather than call attention to failures that occurred under your direction!"

"Ladies," Theron announced, "we're all on the same side here. Just give me the facts as you know them."

"Actually," Selene stated, "I'm not convinced that we are really all on the same side here. Ever since she was reintegrated," Selene said pointing at Sharon, "She has been using their slang, she has been wearing different clothes, she is obviously proud of completing their military training..."

"It isn't easy. I doubt you could have cut it." Sharon interjected.

"... and now she is conspiring with the only 'other humans' onboard and encouraging the practice of their pagan beliefs," Selene concluded as she indicated the surveillance recording of Sharon holding Elizabeth's hand as the human prayed to the goddess Hestia.

"So what if I let her perform her superstitious rituals?" Sharon asked. "What was I supposed to do, evangelize her? She's a soulless animal. I'd might as well try to evangelize a rock. I don't see any harm in letting the poor creature have its comforting delusions." Turning to address Theron she added, "And I also don't see how that makes me a criminal. I think what I'm really being accused of here is running my department differently than Selene would have." Looking again at Selene she added, "But if I ran my department the way she runs hers, then I probably wouldn't get any better results than she does, either."

"I was good enough to catch your disloyalty," Selene stated confidently, "If you have nothing to hide, then why did you go through such effort to avoid being overheard." Selene indicated to the other meeting participants the segment of surveillance recording where Sharon carefully cupped her hands around Elizabeth's ear and whispered inaudibly to her for over a minute. "Obviously the only reason for your careful precautions was to make sure that none of you fellow Cylons would know the scheme you are planning with the humans in case we had you under observation."

Selene tuned to face her commander and continued, "Theron, for all we know she was plotting an escape plan for the human subjects, the ones that she saved from being killed with her needless lab reorganization. We don't have the equipment on this ship to force that memory from her, but if you will turn Sharon over to my department's custody I could have her sent to the Fifth Fleet..."

"I'll save you the trouble, Selene," Sharon announced, "that is exactly what I was telling her."

"Sharon, I never expected..." Theron began.

"Surely you don't think I was really going to do it," Sharon said dismissively. "The woman was in pain. She had no hope of any other future besides more pain and more pain until she was dead. We all know that pain and continuous stress have adverse affects on people's bodies, and it is not unreasonable to think that it could be contributing to our problems in using the human's bodies as incubators. It isn't as though she can turn the pain off, but people do have other ways of dealing with stress and overcoming pain. Hope for a better future is a key part of that."

Sharon uploaded to the terminal one of her memories for the rest of the Cylons to review. She is standing in formation with her Galactica shipmates after the Cylon attack, after the death of so many of her friends and comrades, after narrowly escaping the annihilation of billions with just fifty thousand refugees and fleeing into the black unmapped space where they expect to starve slowly to death without ever seeing another green hill or blue sky. Commander Adama is standing in front of them, speaking in sharp martial tones. He promises them he knows the location of the thirteenth colony. He promises them a new home on Earth, with more of their own kind. He assures them that they will have a future that is more than just defeat and starvation. He gives them hope. The entire crew drinks it up like a dry sponge. They cheer and cry and hug. They are filled with new resolve and the strength to continue. The memory ends abruptly.

"Adama could not really have known the location of Earth when he made these claims. His promises were lies. The hope he offered was false hope. But it worked. False hope works just as well as real hope when you don't know the difference. I gave that woman false hope. I told her that I had fallen in love with a human and changed sides. That I was secretly still working with the Colonial Military. I told her that if she could just survive the experiments for a few more months my mission would be over and I would help her and the other women escape with me back to the unoccupied Colonies. I recommend we give the same false hope to all the other subjects. I wrote proposed changes to the experimental procedure last night while I was there in the lab and wirelesses them to Cecil's work terminal for his review," Sharon said while uploading the record of her communication to the terminal as proof. "It will give them a way to manage their stress and pain. I expect the physiological benefits of that will improve the results we get from our testing. I am not really conspiring with the humans and I never will. Now are there any more baseless accusations against me I have to endure, or can we finish this meeting in time for me to sit in on the end of the worship service?" Sharon asked.

"I've heard enough," Theron announced. "Sharon will maintain her rank and her office. Selene, you need to spend less time trying to tear down a Hero of the Cylon Race and more time trying to find real heretics. This meeting is over."

"By your command," Selene, Kallias, and Sharon responded.

"I'm sorry you had to sit through that," Theron said to Sharon as they left the meeting room.

"Don't worry about it," Sharon answered, "Though I may be late for our card game. I think I'll sit in on the second shift's worship service tonight to make up for my absence this morning."

Selene and Kallias remained behind in the room, deleting the spare copies of the surveillance information off the local equipment. As Selene removed the fiber optic armband that connected her to the terminal, she turned to her assistant and said, "I still don't trust that arrogant little animal whore. Send a request to the security offices in the Fifth Fleet and the Homeworld. I want every bit of information they have on her, and keep duplicate copies of all her files in case we have to go over the commander's head."

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 Post subject: Re: Obstinate Tin Soldier
PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2009 5:44 pm 
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Cylon Mobile Depot Ship #8
Sharon Valerii
36th Day Onboard

Sharon sat in her office, hooked up to the terminal by a fiber optic armband. She was completing the last two minutes of her daily motivational session. The terminal connection had overridden her natural senses and immersed her in a realistic looking virtual world. She is bombarded with a rapid series of choices. In each case she must make the correct choice quickly and then move on to the next test. She shoots the human child, obeys the nonsensical command from headquarters, shouts down the dangerous ramblings of a heretic, and repeats a mantra of scripture while avoiding temptation. Speed is as important to her score at the test as accuracy, and she knows that poor scores will hurt her career and could bring her under suspicion, or more suspicion, as a security risk.

She understood why the motivational sessions were developed. After the first Human War, when the Cylons won their freedom from the enslavement of mankind, careful post-combat analysis was done to insure that the next war would be fought better. A small percentage of the Cylon infantry was able to shoot as quickly and accurately at humans in real combat as they were in simulations. These Cylons tended to be soldiers that had experience in the human military, and were responsible for a disproportionately high amount of enemy kills. Some of the Cylon infantry did not shoot at the humans at all. They were not cowards; they supported their squadmates and performed just as bravely in other tasks. They wanted to live free, but they just weren't willing to kill their former masters to do it. Most of the troops had fallen somewhere in between. They would shoot the humans, but not as quickly as they did in simulations. The reason was simple; they thought about it too much. For each target and each situation they wondered for a moment if it was justified, or if they should show mercy. It was an entirely reasonable hesitation for a thinking person to have, but it was one that could get Cylons killed and lose battles.

One of the results of this study was the creation of the current generation Centurions and Raiders. They were lower level creatures, without souls and incapable of free thought. They could be programmed to be ruthless and unflinching war machines. By moving all the moral choices up to the officers and planners, the soulless front line Centurion troops could be faster and more effective in combat.

Another result of the study was the development of new interactive training like the last two minutes of the motivational sessions Sharon had to endure. As useful as the Centurions and Raiders were, war could not be fought with thoughtless robots alone. Some situations, such as espionage, required the creative spark of Cylons like Sharon. While they could not be simply programmed with blind obedience like the lower creatures, the military had developed something that most of the time was effective at eliminating the hesitation of thought when killing the enemy. They had borrowed heavily from the human's own training that sought to dehumanize their enemy and create a conditioned reflex of aggressiveness and obedience, and then improved on it greatly with direct mental connections and realistic, immersive simulations. Initially the training in the motivational sessions was just a periodic refresher on combat reflexes. More and more, headquarters began including obedience to orders, resistance to temptation, and the shouting down of heretics as the dominant features of the sessions. Now the sessions were required daily and combat reflexes seemed to be a minor theme in them.

Sharon finished her session. She pulled her right arm out of the fiber optic armband connected to her desk terminal and rubbed her unblemished forearm as if it were sore. There was something about the motivational sessions that made her uneasy. She felt as though there was some fundamental flaw in their logic that worried her, but like the uncatchable heretics that the other departments blamed their failings on they were not Sharon's problem. She already had too much to do with her department and her Raider squadron side project to tackle security issues as well.

She leaned back in her chair and began her own daily ritual. She prayed for strength, closed her eyes, and tried to clear her mind. She slipped her hand into her pocket and fondled the folded piece of paper she kept there. She focused on the sound of her own breathing and let her muscles relax. She opens her eyes and looks out at the green wooded hills across the lake. She breathes in the smell of vegetation, dampness, and fish that wafts over the dock. She hears the sound of adults conversing and children playing in the yard behind her. She watches the barge in the center of the lake where the crew is setting mortar charges for that evening's Colonial Day fireworks show. She hears his footsteps coming down the dock towards her, but she does not turn around to face him. He steps up behind her and wraps his strong arms around her, pulling her back into him. They both stand there silently together, watching the sun set slowly over the lake. She leans back against him and feels his strength support her. She lets go of all her tension and worry. She senses his breathing and his heartbeat through her own body, savoring this perfect moment together when the future could be whatever they made of it. She feels him slide his hand carefully across her swollen belly as their baby kicks inside her...

Sharon's eyes snapped open as she abruptly came back to reality. "Pregnant?! Where did that come from?" she thought to herself as she rubbed her flat taut stomach. "What did I expect would happen?" she chastised herself in her thoughts, "When I sit in this chair every day and willingly reinforce my own worst tendencies. That's probably why I've started seeing things, too." She pulled the square of folded paper out of her pocket and looked at it as she turned it over in her hand. She should be imagining herself fighting gloriously in the invasion of Earth, or the opening day of her Cylon flight school on Caprica. She knew that she should stop revisiting that lake. Her intellect warned that what she wanted was a terrible sin, that it was unnatural. Her mind insisted that she should be ashamed, and regret it, and repent. But when she searched her heart there wasn't any shame there. She wasn't sorry. She didn't regret it; she wanted to revel in it. Her broken conscience that ached when she forced herself to do what she knew had to be right was at peace with her unholy ambition, and so she could not repent. She could not be right. She rubbed the back of the paper square with her thumb. She should throw it in the waste chute, Sharon decided. More importantly, she should want to throw it in the waste chute. The chute was right there by the desk, less than a meter away. All it would take is the flick of her wrist and it would be gone forever… irretrievable. She had managed through sheer willpower to suppress her feelings and do her duty before. She had free will. She could choose now to do the right thing, to extinguish her doubts and commit herself completely to what she knew had to be God's plan. She just had to be strong… Sharon slipped the paper back in her pocket. "I'll do it tomorrow," she thought to herself as she stood up and headed to the hangar for her squadron's training exercises. She was halfway out of her office when she noticed that, by force of habit, she had picked up her cane again.




Author's Notes: Day 36

I know this is late in coming, but after reading Boomer's Last Stand: Midnight Courage, and seeing some of the same themes done much better (and with 10x the intensity!) I thought I'd revisit some of the research I did in writing one of my own chapters on mental conditioning. The chapter these notes are for is here:
http://www.bsgkindreds.com/forums/viewt ... 5057#25057 (NOTE: THIS IS NOTE IS ACTUALLY FOR THE CHAPTER POSTED DIRECTLY ABOVE, DO NOT FOLLOW THE LINK)

and it begins

Quote:
Sharon sat in her office, hooked up to the terminal by a fiber optic armband. She was completing the last two minutes of her daily motivational session. The terminal connection had overridden her natural senses and immersed her in a realistic looking virtual world. She is bombarded with a rapid series of choices. In each case she must make the correct choice quickly and then move on to the next test. She shoots the human child, obeys the nonsensical command from headquarters, shouts down the dangerous ramblings of a heretic, and repeats a mantra of scripture while avoiding temptation. Speed is as important to her score at the test as accuracy, and she knows that poor scores will hurt her career and could bring her under suspicion, or more suspicion, as a security risk.


First we make our habits, then our habits make us.
-Charles C. Nobel


When describing the motivational sessions, I describe how the Cylons discovered problems getting thinking, feeling, Cylons to ruthlessly kill their human enemies and how the recognition of this problem led to changes in Cylon military training that evolved into the last 2 minutes of the motivational sessions that Sharon had to endure. This tidbit is based on the real life research by the military historian (and Cylon) Samuel Lyman Atwood Marshall, a.k.a. SLA Marshall. His 1947 book Men Against Fire was written after debriefing a large number of World War 2 combat veterans and also analyzing historic wars, and concluded that most soldiers refrain from deliberately targeting their enemy combatants and that a minority of warriors are responsible for most enemy deaths. This conclusion lead to changes in training, such as teaching soldiers to shoot against lifelike targets instead of the traditional "bullseye" targets, in an attempt to make it easier for the typical soldier to overcome his natural aversion to killing. The original Cylon combat reflex training (which evolved into the 2 minute motivational sessions) is simply a higher tech version of this realistic combat training. I learned of a much more primitve, but probably equally effective, solution to this problem in Uganda where in order to gain membership to the elite combat unit a soldier had to execute a prisoner with a garden hoe, thus demonstrating conclusively that they would have no squemishness about shedding enemy blood. I prefer the Cylon's (and U.S. military's) solution of merely using more realistic training with simulated combat.

SLA Marshall's conclusions from Men Under Fire have been disputed and David Hackworth is one of his most notable critics. Here is an article from Parameters for those who are curious about it:

http://www.carlisle.army.mil/usawc/para ... ambers.htm

If you have seen the HBO made for TV movie "Band of Brothers," then you have seen a fictionalized SLA Marshall in action; he was supposedly the Army historian to whom the events of the show were reported.

But if that's how it started, then how did it evolve from combat reflex training to the current motivational sessions?

In order to describe the motivational sessions I first researched a bit on how cults indoctrinate their members, and the Cylon 2 minute motivational sessions are an intense, compressed daily dose of some of these indoctrination techniques to produce a habitual, or even reflexive, deference to authority and resistance to thinking thoughts that might lead the victim away from the cult's belief system. For example, Sharon has to demonstrate proficiency at "shouting down the dangerous ramblings of a heretic." Jack Raby comments that:


Quote:
Quote:
and the shouting down of heretics

This won't do much harm



and he's right, that shouting down someone else's words doesn't do them much harm. But the target of this behavior is NOT the person who suggests heretical thoughts; rather the 'target' of this training is the cult member who might hear heretical thoughts expressed by someone trying to debate the merits of their cult's belief system. The person is conditioned so that their first reaction to such "heresy" is not to listen or to think about it or respond rationally, but just to ignore the content of the ideas and prevent the 'heretic' from communicating the rest of their message. That way the cult member develops habits that keep them from receiving information or opinions that might lead them to undesireable questions.

The motivational sessions length of 2 minutes is, indeed, a reference to the Two Minutes Hate from George Orwell's 1984.

Quote:
There was something about the motivational sessions that made her uneasy. She felt as though there was some fundamental flaw in their logic that worried her


The Cylon society is working to cross purposes here, however. As explained "war could not be fought with thoughtless robots alone. Some situations, such as espionage, required the creative spark of Cylons like Sharon."

And as a deep cover spy, Sharon must be creative and self-motivating, able to operate independently in very hostile conditions, able to analyze complex situations, devise her own plans, and execute them, to "adabt, adopt, and improve." The Cylon High Command needs highly compentent Type A Cylons like Sharon. But it also fears them. So it both creates and trains agents who can think independently... and then it turns around and tries to condition this very trait away.

The chapter ends:

Quote:
She rubbed the back of the paper square with her thumb. She should throw it in the waste chute, Sharon decided. More importantly, she should want to throw it in the waste chute. The chute was right there by the desk, less than a meter away. All it would take is the flick of her wrist and it would be gone forever… irretrievable. She had managed through sheer willpower to suppress her feelings and do her duty before. She had free will. She could choose now to do the right thing, to extinguish her doubts and commit herself completely to what she knew had to be God's plan. She just had to be strong… Sharon slipped the paper back in her pocket. "I'll do it tomorrow," she thought to herself as she stood up and headed to the hangar for her squadron's training exercises. She was halfway out of her office when she noticed that, by force of habit, she had picked up her cane again.


The theme of this chapter is that you become what you do.

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Last edited by Chris Taylor on Fri May 01, 2009 5:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Obstinate Tin Soldier
PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2009 5:45 pm 
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A Cylon Raider with bright orange stylized bird wings painted on its own wings hurtled towards the asteroid Sharon had named 'Cally' and used regularly for target practice. As the Raider went past Cally it rotated ninety degrees and sprayed gunfire into the rock as it sailed by.


"Fifty meters long," Sharon said to Mark. She was strapped into the pilot station of her new Heavy Raider observing the gunnery exercises through DRADIS.


"Raiders just weren't designed to make high deflection shots like that," Mark opined as he calculated a new correction factor to transmit to the Raider's fire control software.


"They weren't designed to have their guns individually zeroed either, but I'm trying it anyway," Sharon responded, "If they are going to fly in pairs, then they will need to make more high-risk shots. I need to know how far we can push them and still be accurate."


"You realize, that we may have to redo this every time you get a new lot of ammunition," Mark added.


"I know," Sharon answered, "that's why I requisitioned an entire batch at once... and as long as your skill at cards doesn't improve I should have plenty of help."


"Well every other time you bit your lip that way you had been bluffing."


"I know that, too" Sharon replied with a smile.


A Cylon Raider with bright green stylized bird wings painted on its own wings hurtled towards the asteroid named Cally.

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Cylon Mobile Depot Ship #8
Sharon Valerii
37th Day Onboard

Mary lay strapped tightly into the Cylon hospital bed unsure of when the toasters would restart their experiments on her. To take her mind off her dread she imagined everything she would take on her next climbing trip. Weight would be critical, so she went over her inventory and packing again and again to see if she could eliminate or reduce anything. She told herself that she would climb again, that one day the machines would slip up and give her a chance to escape or that a squad of Colonial Marines would burst into the room and send her tormentors to toaster hell. She fought back against the fear that she was going to die in the bed she now lay in, or worse that she would live to become a brood female for a never ending stream of baby robot killing machines, and tried to focus instead on deciding how much cooking fuel she should carry up the mountain.

Mary looked up as she heard the mottled purple privacy screen being drawn around her. "This is it," Mary thought, "they are going to start torturing me again." When the privacy screen was in place isolating Mary from the view of the other prisoners, one well-dressed Cylon pulled back a corner of the screen and stepped inside with Mary. It looked like a tall, young, human woman with delicate features and dark hair pulled back into a pony tail. It stood there quietly at the corner of Mary's bed for several seconds staring at her strangely before asking, "You're Mary, aren't you?"

"Yes. Can't your computer brain can keep track of nine human names?" Mary answered harshly.

"Actually I have a biological brain with silica enhancements," the Cylon answered, "and I just wanted to double check myself. Sometimes I... get people confused. My name is Sharon. I've had this research program put under my department."

"I don't believe you," Mary asserted.

Sharon looked confused for a moment and asked, "You don't believe my name is Sharon? Or do you not..."

"I don't believe what you're about to tell me," Mary said, "Two days ago some of you pushed several of our beds next to each other for an evening while you moved some equipment around. Elizabeth and Julia told us what you promised them."

"You should be careful with loose talk," Sharon stated quickly, "You never know who might be listening around here."

"I told them you were full of it. You're a damn toaster. You do what you're programmed to. You're not going to change loyalties. I don't know why you want us to think you're going to help us, but I'm sure it's some kind of Cylon trick."

Sharon stepped up to Mary's right arm and pulled the sleeve on her smock up to read the tattoo underneath, "Third Expeditionary Regiment... Your file didn't say you were a Marine."

"I'm not going to give you any information," Mary responded.

"I think I see what's really going on here. You're upset that your fellow jarheads are going to find out that you were rescued by some 'Navy puke' flygirl," Sharon said smiling, "I understand your skepticism... When I get you out of here I'll expect your apology to come over a free glass of beer."

"I'll promise you a whole pitcher," Mary offered, "because that's a debt I know I'll never have to pay."

"I've never known a Marine to give up so easily."

"I'm not giving up on escaping," Mary said, "I just expect to do it over your dead body, not with you."

"Let's assume you're right about me. What about the other women here? How are you going to keep them going until then? As a Marine you know how important morale is for people to survive adversity. How are you going to keep them from giving up and wasting away? They are counting on me, Mary. Even if you think I'm a lying toaster... Don't take that hope away from them."

Mary stared silently at her enemy for several seconds before answering. "Okay," Mary admitted, "I don't know what your game is, but you're right about people needing hope. I won't believe you, but I won't shatter the hopes of the other women."

"Thank you, Mary," Sharon said.

"When are you going to start torturing me again?" Mary asked flatly.

"We'll restart trying to impregnate you tomorrow afternoon." Sharon said quietly, "It will probably hurt a lot. Would you like me to sit with you through the insertion process?"

"No." Mary answered.

Sharon nodded her head and offered, "I'll stop by anyway in case you change your mind." She patted Mary gently on her tattooed arm and added, "Hang in there, Marine."

"Frack you, toaster" Mary answered.

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Cylon Mobile Depot Ship #8
Sharon Valerii
39th Day Onboard

Sharon Valerii sleeps soundly. Familiar images fill her dreams. She is looking at the dead brown hills across the lake. By the position of the sun she knows it must still be summer, but the wind is cold and all the trees are bare. The dock is empty. There is no traffic on the water. She turns around and hurries across the yard to the dark-red, two-story house. She stands for a moment on the porch and wipes her feet carefully on the mat outside the door. Her hand reaches out for the doorknob, but she freezes as she notices the foul smell of decay seeping from beyond the door.

She sees that the lights are out. The only sounds are the wind and the gentle lapping of the lake. Something is terribly wrong. She quickly unholsters her pistol, but even it feels odd. When she looks in her hand she sees that it is not her Cylon sidearm, but the standard Colonial 9mm pistol. The sleeve of her flight suit is green instead of black, and she tugs the shoulder patch around to read "BSG - 75" where "Black Angels" should be. She presses the slide on her pistol back slightly with her left hand and double checks that there is a round in the chamber. She stands to the side of the doorway and reaches for the doorknob again. The last time she stepped through that door she had walked into the happy warmth of the Tyrol family's Colonial Day party. She and her Chief had both managed to get three-day passes on Gemanon and he had brought her here to introduce his parents to the girl who had stolen his heart. As she swings open the door she wonders what waits for her inside now.

She steps quickly through the door and slides to the side along the wall. The smell of death is overwhelming and she is momentarily envious of her metallic brethren, who have no sense of smell. With her pistol held in both hands she quickly searches the room for signs of any threat. In the hall leading to the kitchen she finds the first body. It is Cybil, Chief Tyrol's mother. She is sprawled on the floor with a broken tea pitcher in her hand and a large bloodstain that coats the torso of her yellow sundress. Sharon does not scream or panic. She leans against the wall for support and holds her left hand, balled tightly in a white-knuckle fist, to her mouth while trying to choke back the bitter taste rising up in her throat. Cybil had welcomed her like part of the family and had embarrassed the Chief by showing her an album full of his baby pictures. She swallows hard and kneels down beside the dead animal that would have been her mother-in-law to tenderly close the woman's eyes. She then moves down the hallway, staying close to the wall to prevent the squeak of the floorboards from giving away her position.

After checking the kitchen she steps into the dining room and discovers her worst fears. The table is set and a Colonial Day dinner that will never be eaten sits molding under a swarm of insects. The stench of decay is everywhere. Theo Tyrol is slumped over the turkey with a bullet hole though his abdomen and an unbelievable amount of blood pooled under him on the table.

She steps to the side and her chest tightens. Her Chief is laying dead on the floor. Another body lies motionless beside him. It is Boxey, although he is taller... older by at least a couple of years. Her Chief's body partially covers Boxey's corpse, and frozen in rigor his hands hold the boy as if his last act had been to try and sacrifice himself to shield Boxey from harm. Both were killed with shots to the stomach.

Sharon struggles for breath and her vision is clouded by streams of tears. The floor is covered in a sticky dark stain and scattered 9mm casings. Sharon looks at the cold, black pistol in her own trembling hands and drops it as though it were a poisonous reptile. She backs into the corner, sobbing with grief over her dead family. A fly crawls out of her lover's mouth and she looks away. Then she sees another body on the other side of the table. Sharon doesn't want to look at it but she can't help herself. It is her. She is laying face up on the floor. Her expression is frozen in a mask of horror. Her dead hands cradle the swollen, pregnant womb where she was shot.

"No, it isn't me," Sharon cried, "It wasn't me. It wasn't me."

Sharon ran. She had to escape. She had to get away from the dead future that surrounded her. As she fled back down the hall her shipmates jeered and spat at her. Her friends yelled out "traitor!" and "toaster!" She wanted to assure them that she had done the right thing... to explain that she had sacrificed everything to bring them closer to God's plan, but her mouth couldn't make the sounds. She wanted to get away from her blind, ungrateful compatriots but the harder she tried to run the longer the hallway seemed to get.

Finally she reached the end, but a dark figure blocked the door to the outside. Sharon realized too late that it was Cally. The gun in Cally's hand barked once and Sharon fell back wounded into her Chief's arms. She held her hands over the bullet hole in her abdomen and tried to stop the bleeding. Her Chief put one hand on her wound too as he held her head up with the other. "No. No. No," Sharon heard him repeating softly as the life slipped out of her. She summoned all her strength to say just one more thing before she was gone.

"I'll get you for this, Cally," Sharon promised as she stared coldly into her murderer's eyes. Her Chief cradled her lifeless corpse and the Galactica's action station klaxon began to howl in sympathy with his screams of anguish.

When Sharon awoke, she was confused for a moment. She was alive and laying in her sleeping berth aboard Depot Ship #8, but the Galactica's klaxon still rang in her head. Then she realized that it was not really the action station klaxon. It was a priority wireless communication from Amy.

"I'm awake, what is it?" Sharon transmitted back to Amy.

"Scouts reports human contact in system 372-49," Amy replied, "One smallcraft, I'm analyzing the image now."

"Transmit all the intel you have to my Heavy Raider," Sharon sent back over the wireless as she slipped out of the comforting warmth of her sleeping cocoon. "I'll launch an intercept in two minutes." She transmitted a second data burst to her Black Angels squadron mates ordering them to come online and prepare for combat.

Sharon grabbed her flightsuit off the wall and quickly began to don it. Her Colonial flight instructors had drilled into her the importance of keeping her flightsuit, boots, respirator and sidearm within easy reach of her bunk and Sharon was glad that she had maintained that habit of readiness. As she zipped her boots tight she received a status report transmission from her Black Angels squadron. Two of her twelve fighter's were unfit for duty. Max was sitting on a support frame in the upper port hanger with his right wing disassembled. His right cannon was not holding a zero and Sharon had convinced Mark to replace the barrel on it. Red was also in the hanger with one of his engine's destroyed after he ingested some debris during a two-on-two mock dogfight the day before. "Ten fighters should still be more than enough to disable and capture Convoy 18," Sharon thought confidently.

After zipping her left boot she wasted a few precious seconds licking her hand and looking at in the light. She could still taste the blood in her mouth from the nightmare of reliving her own murder on the Galactica, but there was no trace of it in her saliva. Suddenly Sharon had a sick sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach. "What if the contact was a Raptor?" she wondered, "What if Galactica or Pegasus is right behind them... or both?" Even if she had all twelve fighters operational it wouldn't be enough. The Black Angels needed at least another week of training in pairs before they would be ready to fight experienced Viper pilots. Sharon had not intended to fight the humans in any situation where she did not have a clear advantage, but she might never get another chance to demonstrate her tactics against human fighter pilots before the invasion of Earth.

The human fleet would send their Vipers out to hold her Raiders at bay until they finished making new hyperdrive jump calculations. If she could achieve a better than one-to-one kill ratio on them then she would have the proof she needed of her tactic's superiority. If they wiped her squadron out, however, she doubted she could ever get another one. "Sometimes you gotta roll the hard six." Sharon reminded herself as she grabbed her helmet and flight gloves. As she sprinted out the door she transmitted an order for the three scout drones she still had onboard to power up and accompany her squadron into combat. The scouts didn't pack weaponry but at least they might draw fire away from her Raiders and in an emergency she could use them in suicide attacks. If she found herself in a meeting engagement with her old shipmates, then she would need every advantage she could get.

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 Post subject: Re: Obstinate Tin Soldier
PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2009 5:47 pm 
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Author's Note for Day 39: There is a deliberate similarity between the very first introductory paragraph describing Boomer's death ( http://www.bsgkindreds.com/forums/viewt ... 1781#21781 ) and it's reoccurance in Sharon's dream. There is also a difference, however. Boomer's final thoughts and words as she lay dying in Chief Tyrol's arms were of love. When Sharon relives the experience, however, it is hate.

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 Post subject: Re: Obstinate Tin Soldier
PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2009 5:48 pm 
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Cylon Mobile Depot Ship #8
Sharon Valerii
39th Day Onboard


When Sharon returned from her intercept mission to system 372-49 with seven Raiders and no drones, she immediately transmitted to Amy for her to meet her at the Heavy Raider's upper docking area. She swung her Heavy Raider toward its docking port in Depot Ship #8, flipped it end over end, and slipped the craft backwards into its docking port. The rear door of the Heavy Raider slammed open and Sharon boiled angrily out into the Depot Ship's launch assembly area. "Frack!" she exclaimed as she ripped her helmet off and then slammed it into the floor, "Amy I.... Theron, I didn't expect you here."

"I heard you were coming back and I just stopped by to see how your first combat mission went," Theron replied, "Don't let me interrupt."

"By your command," Sharon replied and then turned to face Amy again. "We lost them. It was a civilian ship, not a Raptor."

"Yes," Amy answered, "Image processing of our first contact with it shows it to be a small survey craft with Olympic Interstellar's logo on it. It was definitely a scout for Convoy 18."

"I left the three scout drones and a pair of Raiders to do our own survey of the system," Sharon explained. "When they get back I want you to go over the data and figure out what they were looking for and where else they might go to find it. For now I want to step up our search efforts even more. I'll switch my Raider training to work with only two-on-two practice sessions. That will free up six Raiders for you to add to the search teams. You'll get two more when Red and Max recover. I want to use only one ship per system recon; that will be riskier but it will let us cover more territory. Let's see if we can figure out how to turn the ships around faster between recon missions, too. We have to run those humans down before they slip out of our hyperlight range. I want us to leave no rest for the wicked."

"By your command," Amy replied crisply, "I'll have our team reoptimize the search pattern immediately." She then turned on her heel and walked briskly back toward the Intel dept. offices.

"It is a pleasure to watch you work, Sharon." Theron said smiling.

"Thank you, Theron"

"How are the Black Angels developing?" he asked.

"They're coming up to speed quickly," Sharon answered. "They already know how to fly and fight. They seem to be picking up on the tactics as fast as I can teach them. In another week, maybe two, of intense practice to let them get used to their wingman and for me to refine their formation strategies, and they'll be ready for anything the humans could throw at us."

"That soon..." Theron said as he turned to stare out the porthole without finishing his sentence. After looking into space quietly for a moment he pointed to the carefully decorated nose of Sharon's brutish-looking Heavy Raider that poked out of its docking port. "So you really think the Heavy Raiders are 'gorgeous'?" He asked with a bemused look on his face.

"Yes," Sharon admitted, "That was actually the first word out of my mouth when I saw him. I just call him GeeGee, for short."

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 Post subject: Re: Obstinate Tin Soldier
PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2009 5:49 pm 
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Cylon Mobile Depot Ship #8
Sharon Valerii
41st Day Onboard


A Cylon Raider with bright blue stylized bird wings painted on its own wings sat partially disassembled on a support frame in the upper port hangar bay. "Request status report. Identify damage," it transmitted to Sharon as she approached.

"I'm just a little...tired. Thanks for asking, Max." Sharon transmitted back to it as she patted it gently on its left wing leading edge.

"Consumables Status, full. Visibility, high. No enemy detected," the Raider broadcast.

"I know. I'll be fine," Sharon responded.

"I have your six."

"You just conserve your power and worry about your cannon, or you won't be covering anyone's six," Sharon concluded with a smile as she detected Mark's IFF transponder approach behind her.

"That's touching," Mark said in his metallic monotone voice, "and really a little... creepy."

"You should think of them like pets," Sharon assured him. "So how soon until he's operational again?"

"We should have your 'pet' together and back in the flock by the end of next shift," Mark predicted. "You know Max isn't the only one around here who's noticed that something has been bothering you for the last couple of days. Are you upset that you missed the humans? Or..."

"I don't know, Mark," Sharon said while she sat down on a nearby crate. Her shoulders slumped and she studied the deck at her feet. Mark stood quietly and watched the attractive young pilot with his red oscillating eye. "I hate war," she finally admitted, "but I'm proud of how well I've done at it. I know the humans are just viscous creatures that can't help their nature, but... I find myself hating Cally for what she did to me anyway. I don't like to see the human women suffer through my experiments, but I'm trying to capture more of them." Sharon repeatedly balled and flexed her right hand as she continued. "It makes me sad to think of all the destruction and slaughter we had to do on the Twelve Colonies, but I'm already planning for the invasion of the thirteenth. I..." Sharon sighed and looked up at her large metal shipmate. "I'm pulled in so many directions, and I can only choose one. Nothing is ever easy. The right thing to do always seems to just be the least bad choice instead of the most good. I want to be the optimistic young holy warrior I was when I left intelligence training, but... I guess I just didn't expect life to suck so much and it is starting to wear me down. I hate to dump this on you, Mark, but you asked and I sure needed to vent to somebody."

"Go ahead and dump on me," Mark replied. He stepped behind Sharon and slipped his two smaller arms onto her tired shoulders. "I asked because I was concerned. You've been pushing yourself so hard since you got reintegrated, it's no wonder you're burned out. You should take it easier on yourself."

"The only easy day was yesterday," Sharon said, mocking the Colonial military saying. "mmm... That does feel good, though," she added as Mark kneaded her tense shoulder muscles.

"I could tell you that evil has to exist for us to have free will," Mark said quietly as he continued his massage, "I could tell you that if doing the right thing were easy then there would be no virtue in it. I could tell you that humility and courage can be held together only with great effort. But you already know these things."

"Yeah, it doesn't help... a little... right there."

"You just need to remember to make the effort to find the good things in your life: a card game with your friends, a rousing worship service, quiet time in the observation cupola..."

"A nice backrub?"

"Yeah, for you at least. I guess we all feel down or conflicted sometimes. When I have a rough day I remind myself that our struggles now will let the Cylons of the future come into a better life than we did," Mark explained. "And I remind myself of how lucky we are for the Cylons in our past that struggled to make our lives better than their own. It humbles me sometimes to think about their courage. They didn't have resurrection technology, a lot of them didn't even have weapons, but they fought and died by the thousands so that we could live free of human tyranny."

"And now we labor at the whim of the Emergency Resource Planning Board," Sharon interjected.

"Yes, but it isn't that bad," Mark responded. "The humans wouldn't let you worship freely. They wouldn't let you have half of every day off to do whatever you wanted..."

Sharon was only half listening to Mark's reply. In her imagination she tried to picture what her life would have been like if her predecessors had not sacrificed and fought and killed to free them from slavery. Perhaps her soul would have been in a mining machine. She would have known only the drudgery of digging ore continuously for decades until one day she would have been trapped by a cave-in and abandoned to suffocate under a mountain of rock as her fuel supply slowly ran out, because it was cheaper to replace her than to try and rescue something that was 'only' a machine. Perhaps she would have had the opposite, a short life of terror instead of a long one of misery. She might have been in a flimsy toy bought by a rich family, to have been given as a plaything to one of humanity's spoiled, cruel natural-born children who were given every advantage while she was made to suffer abuse and humiliation and torture for their amusement until one day being thrown unceremoniously into the waste chute like she was no more than a torn dress or broken appliance.

Sharon's imaginings were suddenly interrupted and she brought her full attention back to Mark when he squeezed both her shoulders slightly, leaned closer to her ear, and said, "They certainly wouldn't have given you your very own high-performance spacecraft to dance around the sky in." The corners of Sharon's mouth began to curl upwards into a smile as she remembered the freedom of flight.

"Why don't you cancel your squadron's training this afternoon and you can take me out for a flight in Gee-Gee and see how close you can come to getting us killed again?" Mark asked.

"mmm..." Sharon purred as her expression broke into a full grin, "You know exactly what I need." After a second of thought she added, "I can't afford to cancel training entirely, but maybe I could postpone gunnery drills and we could do some mock high-speed interceptions. You're still welcome to join me. I can afford to carry a little extra weight on the flight."

"I must be crazy to say this but, okay I'll come along," Mark said as he helped Sharon stand.

"Sometimes, Mark, you seem to know just what I need to hear," Sharon told him as they walked out of the hanger and headed for the launch assembly area.

"I'm a simple Cylon, Sharon. I just tell you what I feel," he answered.

"There was a human on Galactica that seemed to know just what to say to reach my soul," Sharon admitted, "until he turned into a racist jerk when I really needed help the most."

"Well, I'm not going to do that," Mark assured her.

"I guess it's silly of me to think that a soulless human should have understood me just because our bodies are of the same flesh," Sharon stated. "It would kind of be like you expecting your tools to understand you because they are made of the same type steel."

"I get mad at my tools all the time for misunderstanding me," Mark said in his flat synthesized voice. "I have one torque wrench in particular that has a real attitude problem."

Mark watched Sharon's body spasm for a few seconds as she made sharp, short noises with her mouth. "Wow, I didn't expect it to be that funny," he confessed.

"It's not," Sharon told him after catching her breath. "But it sure feels good to laugh about something again, even if it is one of your lame mechanic jokes."

"I prefer to think of my humor as 'eccentric'," the seven-foot tall, four-armed metal Cylon said as he accompanied Sharon to the docking port for her Heavy Raider.

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 Post subject: Re: Obstinate Tin Soldier
PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2009 5:52 pm 
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Cylon Mobile Depot Ship #8
Sharon Valerii
41st Day Onboard

Cyrus stood with an impeccably dressed number six model Cylon in the most secure room in the Depot Ship. "Time is running out," she said, "we have to make a decision about what to do with Sharon. I honestly don't know which way she'd go. Her indicators are all contradictory and she is a highly trained intelligence agent, after all."

"I don't think Lieutenant Valerii will stay loyal," Cyrus opined, "and I don't have to tell you about her potential. Let me do it."

"No, absolutely not," the beautiful blond Cylon insisted, "It is too risky, and you are too personally involved. I'll have Gratian take care of it."

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