Numbers Game
Numbers Game
Summary: Roubani visits Nine in the brig after her arrest. The conversation, needless to say, touches on the bizarre.
Date: PHD 219 (23 Nov)
Related Logs: Shortly after The Reverie Alone Will Do

Kharon - Brig

Nine keeps her torso pasted to the wall near the floor of her cell, back to anyone who might be looking at her. On her knees, her knees are spread to a perfect plane with the rest of her form, her arms spread likewise, flat on the wall, head turned to the side with her ear pressed to the bulkhead, listening to the noises the ship is making.

Footsteps come down the hallway from the security hub. Two sets, though one drops off and leaves the second to continue alone. A much softer set, befitting the face that finally walks into the brig's main compartment. Roubani is in flightsuit, of course, having had no time to waste on things like changing in and out of uniforms. It's unzipped and shrugged off his shoulders, leaving him in a T-shirt from the waist up. His old, wooden prayer beads are looped twice around his wrist.

Nine doesn't move. Her attention rapt in whatever Kharon might be telling her now. Her elbows bent at a perfect ninety-degree angle, she looks rather like one of those old statues of suppliant women with their hands lifted to the Lords. Her eyes are open, but remain blankly fixed on the wall somewhere between her head and her arm.

Roubani gives one of the empty cells a lingering look before he approaches Nine's. His knees bend, lowering him into a graceful crouch and then forward, booted feet flattening under his body as he sits back on his heels, hands folded between his knees. It's not Nine he watchs first, but the wall she appears to be listening to.

The wall doesn't seem to be doing anything, nor making any noise. Not, at least, to any ear that isn't pressed up against it to listen to the ship's inner workings as they rush. She listens to Kharon's heartbeat and her own heartbeat is soothed in a timely sympathy of metal and flesh.

Roubani is content to sit like that for a time in silence, his index finger winding absently around one loop of his beads. Then, simply, "Nine."

Nine's eyes widen slowly at the sound, then ease back to their quiet stare. She remains pasted to the wall, immobile, though after a moment her lips flutter open with a word: "Ten."

It's something. Roubani's lips move as though somewhere there had been an impulse to smile, but it dies way before it gets to his face. "Nine. The maximum number of cubes that are needed to sum to any positive integer. Ten. The base of our number system. Nineteen. The maximum number of 4th powers needed to sum to any number. Ninety. The number of degrees in a right angle." His voice is quiet, talking off that litany of numerical interactions.

Nine's head finally turns, a light splotch of color coming to her neck as Ten proposes multiplication in a manner quite forward (at least, to her). Her eyes look for his, though, not shy, but still quiet, body still pasted to the wall. "The ones will never find peace," she tells him, politely rejecting his advances by reminding him of the consequences of subsequent division, "But will keep leaping into the void," a sorrowful note there.

If it was something more forward than a recitation from a math textbook, Roubani's body language certainly doesn't show it. "The ones?" His soft-spoken voice is scratchy, consequence of long hours and shouting into comm mics. "Who?"

Nine's features fall a little bit, and she closes her eyes. "That which separates nine and ten," she finally explains to him, bringing the other card to the table, both the adversative functions now in play beside the conjunctive.

Roubani's head tilts a fraction. He pulls one foot out from under him and then the other, sitting indian-style on the floor instead. The end of the bead loop taps his ankles. "Please help me, Nine…I don't understand."

Nine finally peels herself away from the wall, twisting her back and scuttling along the floor upside-down on hands and feet until she comes close to the bars and she kicks her feet up, resting her big toes on the insides of the bars to stabilize herself, looking at Ten with her hair pooling on the floor. "Ten. Minus Nine. Is One," she explains herself, very simply.

Roubani doesn't seem bothered by her twisting and bending, resting his elbows on his knees. His dark eyes look back at hers, upside-down as it were. There's something on his lips and then it dies away, replaced by breath. "One." It seems to catch him off-guard, that response. "Who is One?"

"One is the slightest being which cannot be denied its sovereign quidity," Nine replies quietly. "That which takes a corresponding portion of all with whom it is involved. One is one Nth of any N."

"Nine…" Roubani leans forward on his hand, drawing a knee up to his chest. He exhales quietly, looking at the bars and then back at her. "Nine, what are you doing in here? What have you done?"

"I am one too few," Nine explains gently, then is silent for a moment, eyes going unfocused, then re-focusing on Roubani. "They killed Crucible. He had such a dear soul. Nobody was ever more kind."

"I know," Roubani replies, gently. "I saw. And I'm sorry." As if he were the one who'd ground it underfoot. "They're saying Crucible killed someone too."

Nine's features grow rather pained, even upside-down as they are. "You can't think it was malevolence. Crucible never had a thought but of peace and kindness."

"I don't know what to think, Nine," Roubani admits, very quietly. "Is that what taking a life was? An act of kindness? How could it be."

"She was in pain. She was afraid. Kharon told me that she needed help," Nine relates simply. "We asked her if she wanted the help. In case Kharon was wrong. He wasn't. She desired to be free of fear and pain. She asked for help. How could we refuse?"

"Kharon told you?" Roubani's eyes make a subtle flicker towards the wall, then up towards the grate. Then back down at her, brows drawing. "This Kharon? Our home?"

Nine moves her head in a few degrees' worth of a nod, her toes trailing down the bars in front of her until her feet are planted on the floor to either side of her head. She uncurls into a standing position and then sits down on the floor, indian-style, mirroring Ten.

Roubani opens his hands on his knees, slowly uncurling them so his palms face Nine. "I've never heard Kharon speak. Sometimes I wish I could, but perhaps I just don't know how to listen."

"He talks to me, sometimes. I think he likes me, some," Nine's eyes flick away toward the flooring with a moderate blush. "I like him. All my work is for him. He's all I have, for now. Please tell Marcon that I'm sorry."

"I will do that," Roubani murmurs. His hands turn the palms back towards his legs, his fingertips scraping the floor as he looks down at it. "Is Kharon afraid? Of being destroyed by the cylons?"

"No," Nine replies simply. "He works for the Cylons; as far as he is able while enduring the slavery you keep him under," her lips draw together with a brief flash of anger. "He would be glad to see the lot of you gone, even if it meant the end of him, as well. Some would rather endure death than compelled servitude."

Roubani frowns, slowly. He shifts his legs, wrapping his hands around the shin that's up close to his chest. "Nine…does he call out to the cylons? Is that what he's doing?"

"If he is… he hasn't told me about it, yet. But I keep listening," Nine adds, explaining that posture she had been maintaining when Ten arrived. "They're coming, aren't they? To set him free?"

"Haven't they for a long time now?" Roubani asks, quietly. He's still frowning, less a frown of being disturbed than of one trying to piece something together. "Is that all they want, Nine? To free Kharon, and we are just casualties?"

"I couldn't say. They may still be mad," Nine considers the possibility. "For the time they spent in slavery themselves. Or maybe they just think that the universe will be a better place without us. Could you blame them? We're terrible. Not all of us. But most of us. Terrible to one another and even worse to those we don't understand."

"We have slaughtered, they have slaughtered. They kept four hundred of us in servitude," Roubani reminds her, softly. "Does that make one better than another? Or simply make one more mighty?"

It has to stop, sometime," Nine agrees. "One of us or the other must make the first step toward peace. The bomber. What she did was wrong. But keeping her in pain and fear— was also wrong. And they killed Crucible. They didn't understand him— they didn't want to understand him. They were afraid and killed in ignorance. This is the human spirit. I only hope that while out of the reach of our influence the Cylons have evolved past that."

"Have they?" Roubani asks quietly. "If they had they why come after us. Why, still." He looks at her, brows drawing a little bit. "Nine, was the bomber…" He rubs his nose, uncomfortably. "Was…she working for the cylons?"

Nine nods, quietly, to the last. "I think so. Kharon told me so," she adds. "I don't know what their motives are. Maybe they've evolved enough to know how dangerous we were, and make a decision to better the universe by our removal. Or maybe they are still just like us," she gives a forlorn sort of sigh.

"We were." Roubani repeats, quietly. "And what are we now." It's rhetorical. "Has Kharon told you much else? I mean…aside from the bomber. And that he wants us dead."

"Gone," Nine answers the question, rhetorical or no. "No, not much. I didn't know until recently. But I've been dead a long time. Kharon brought me back."

Roubani tilts his head slightly, asking in his soft voice. "He did? How?" His hand wraps around his shin again, the other hand cupping over his knee.

"I don't know. It was dark. I couldn't see. There are some mysteries not meant for human eyes," Nine whispers, hands on her knees.

"It's alright," Roubani murmurs. "I know there are…I know. I simply wish there wasn't so much death." He licks his lips, looking down at the floor where the bars meet it. "Nine…tell me more about One?"

Nine's lips twist suddenly into a grimace of pain at the desire for the death to stop, nodding her head in silent agreement. "They wouldn't stop," she finally says, inhaling sharply after the statement's done. "I begged them to stop."

Last question forgotten, Roubani swallows a hint of saliva that's not nearly enough to wet his throat. "What do you mean, you begged them?"

"To stop shooting," Nine lifts her hands covering her face and then digging her nails into her cheeks. "They just kept shooting. They wouldn't stop. Neither of them would stop."

"Shhh, shh." Roubani starts to reach for the bars, but thinks better of it. "It isn't your fault. Begged who, Nine? What two?"

Nine brings blood to her cheeks, the red dripping down her face in lieu of tears. A common practice in Dionysiac worship, usually she'd be wearing a wooden mask to scrape with her fingernails— but her prayer masks are obviously not in here with her, so she makes do with what she has. "The humans. And the cylons. On Scorpia," she hiccups the words out, gut twisted in pain as she remembers the event which scared away her voice for so long. "They wouldn't stop. They wouldn't stop!"

Roubani still doesn't reach, even if the sight of the blood makes his body stiffen a little. "Nine, please don't. Please. We had to shoot. If we'd put guns down, we would have been killed. You know that, you know that's what would have happened. We have to survive."

The small burst of endorphins from the pain in her cheeks distracts Nine sufficiently from her grief that she stops tearing at her face, turning to lie down there by the bars, instead. "They wouldn't stop shooting, either. I don't understand what I'm supposed to do. All I can do is do what Kharon tells me. Kharon will look after me. Kharon loves me," she rests her palm flat, warm on the cool decking, running her fingers along the corrugated slip-proof texture there, caressing the metal fondly as she drips a droplet or two of blood from her chin.

Roubani exhales quietly. His hand turns, wrapping his fingers securely around his prayer beads. "Nine…please tell me more about One. I don't understand very well."

Nine is quiet a moment as her ear presses to the flooring and she listens out for any messages. But it's hard to hear from in here. Her eyes move from blank space to Ten's prayer beads, and she looks to him. "N plus one cannot equal N, not even inclusively. N plus one cannot equal N plus two, not even inclusively," she goes on, looking at the beads, then at his face, "Will they let the Priest come? I'd like communion with the God, if they will let her administer it."

"I will ask them to send a Priest, I promise you," Roubani murmurs, nodding once. "N plus one cannot equal N, not even inclusively," he repeats back, giving the words a cadence. "N plus one cannot equal N plus two, not even inclusively…" Clearly he's still not piecing it together, though he's trying.

"Thank you," Nine whispers. "And yes. One divides. One rolls over into the next infinity, and, small as it is, is inexorable in its divisiveness. Nine and Ten may share a boundary," she lifts a finger to touch at the inside of a bar. "And Nine may go as close as she wishes to it, but, for all the infinite smallness of that boundary, there's no crossing it, is there? They will always be separate."

"Why are only you separate?" Roubani asks, quietly. His brows are drawn sligthly, bringing out lines between them. "Why only Nine?

"Ten is separate from eleven, and eleven from twelve, just the same. It is the nature of one, not nine," Nine explains, though her face falls as she says so. "I feel it, though. I don't belong here, Ten," she whispers.

"Then One is…" Roubani's talking, but it falls into a pause. "Ten? Me? I…" Now she's really got him confused. He's trying, make no mistake, his fingertips rubbing over his brow.

"I don't belong," Nine repeats, looking simply tired, now. "I keep waiting. I wish they'd come soon and take me home," she says with a sigh.

Roubani exhales slowly through his nose. Up above, the alert lights turn red and begin to flash, and the corners of his eyes tense into lines. "Forty-two minutes." He's still a moment and then stands up, tucking the beads into his pocket. "I'm sorry, Nine. They'll have to get through me." He looks at her a few seconds longer, as if wanting to say more, but then turns away, heading quickly out.

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