Special Delivery
Special Delivery
Summary: Timon carries out one of the more curious orders to come down from his CO.
Date: PHD118
Related Logs: References a conversation in the laundry that was not logged.


The past hundred and eighteen days have witnessed quite a number of firsts: this is, for instance, the first time in its history that humanity seems on the verge of withering as a species; this is, for another, the first occasion in recent memory that cockroaches have had free reign of the Colonies — assuming scientific predictions regarding the longevity and resilience of those damnable pests hold true. Set against such an apocalyptic context, tonight's first is not at all significant, but the man whom it concerns — one Timon "Ivory" Stathis — finds himself nervous nonetheless.

And so it is with hesitant steps that the Raptor driver opens the hatch into the Kharon's enlisted quarters, a place he's never before visited throughout his tenure aboard the ship. He's wearing the Fleet's standard-issue off-duty sweats, freshly laundered, exposing pale shoulders scored with a veritable maze of scars; in his hand is a relatively nondescript hamper, which drags on the deck beneath him as he proceeds into the room.

Ariadne's slept in — perhaps that's caused the considerable lift in her mood. She stands at her locker in her off-duty uniform, her hair spilling down her back, humming something light and pleasant. It's Caprican in origin, old and charming. Something country folk could dance to, back when there was more country than city, fewer skyscrapers and more sky.

"I know, it's lunch time," she speaks as she hears the hatch, taking her cassock from the locker. "And I'm sure you're cross with me for sleeping through breakfast. I promise I'll eat before service — " Turning, she sees… not who she expected to see, apparently. Her mouth hangs open a moment, then finishes the final syllable, " —ez."

The priestess blushes. "Lieutenant. I apologize. I thought you were… I have a crewmate…" she gestures to an empty bunk. "Who's always cajoling me to eat more."

"I hate it when surveillance missions find what they're supposed to," the lieutenant mutters under his breath, though all the priestess will hear — unless she possesses exceptionally sharp ears — are quick susurrations punctuated by periodic silence: Ivory isn't exactly the ship's loudest individual, having inhabited libraries for the majority of his life. He apparently conceived of this particular errand as one of those jump-in-scan-quickly-jump-out situations. At the unexpected greeting, though, he does manage one of his trademark wan smiles. "I live with an ECO," is his reply, pitched rather more loudly, as he trundles over to the woman's bunk. "And really — drop the rank. I'm Ivory." For the moment, he won't state his errand, though his gaze does flit from woman to hamper while he speaks.

Ariadne tucks a lock of hair behind her ear, glancing at the hamper as well. Though she also leaves it unremarked. "I. Uhm." She flickers a smile, turning to the small mirror inside her locker door and putting up her hair. "So which is the real story behind that name? Scholar in an ivory tower of intellect, or… social difficulties due to said tower's location?"

Timon's lips tighten incrementally at the mention of 'social difficulties', though his expression is more sheepish than anything else: "Word gets out, huh." It's with a rueful shrug that he turns for a chair, sitting down without an invitation; one leg is lifted with some amount of difficulty and placed atop the other, his foot resting perpendicular to his body. "Got it at Camp Kilo," he begins, "on Aerilon, from one of the more foul-mouthed instructors I've ever had the pleasure of working with. Fill in the blank yourself." Which means, in all likelihood, the latter.

Ariadne coils her hair into a knot, fixing it with small pins. "My spies are everywhere. They have to be — the priestess is always the last to know." She glances at the pilot's reaction and exposition, looking a bit chagrined. "I'm sorry. That was meant to be teasing, but… sort of turned out in poor taste, didn't it?" She gives her head a slight shake, testing the structural integrity of her coif. Satisfied, she shuts the locker. "I'm hardly one to jest about social awkwardness."

"If you're awkward, Sister, I don't want to know what I am." Timon waves his hand dismissively — his left one, as his right still hasn't let go over the hamper by his side. If anything, his grip has only tightened, judging from the fact that his knuckles are turning a fine shade of white. "Really, I'm not offended. I've heard much worse in my life — from that particular instructor and others." His smile widens as he remembers some private insult he won't repeat for her ears. "It's why I mostly deal with books. Hard to hurt their feelings — and even if I do, it's not like they're able to talk back." It's a lame joke, but the best he can come up with on short notice.

The priestess shrugs on her cassock, crossing the small space to coax the hamper from Ivory's hand. Perhaps she noticed the white knuckles. "You might have heard worse, but you deserve better," she opines softly, followed with a smile. "True. Books don't complain. Even when you break their spines." Her eyes betray a flicker of amusement. "Though they have the scholars to speak in their defense. And I remain duly chastened."

"No need to flatter an old man." Reflexive self-deprecation: the last resort of a fellow who has no idea how to take a compliment. His index finger scratches at the bridge of his nose. "I was only kidding about the books, by the way." Timon looks somewhat guilty. "Or, I should say, about the extent of the damage. I sometimes exaggerate for comic relief, not that it was all that comical — but that's retrospect for you."

Ariadne smiles. "Well, I'm relieved to hear it. I've spent a lot of time with books. I try to treat my friends more gently." Her smile grows, lightly laughing. "You're not old Lieutenant. Believe me, I've known old men. Priests don't easily shuffle off this mortal coil, for some reason. And a great many of my mentors were simply too ornery to die."

"The gods are merciful — or unmerciful, as the case may be." Ivory's hand moves to scratch at the back of his neck, the shadow from which movement throws his face into sharp relief. "I knew somebody like that myself, back in the day — " He pauses, whistling lowly. "I can't believe I can actually say that — but anyway — Martin Tarkus, CPO. Taught me at OCS, and then aboard the Atlantia. Stereotypical movie non-com made flesh. Last I heard of him, he was spending retirement fly-fishing and eating his wife's famous custard." Timon shakes his head, a veil settling over his already-muted countenance. "Tarkus used to tell me that it'd take the end of the world to bring him down. Didn't think that'd actually happen."

"We all get a lifetime, Lieutenant," Ariadne replies, gently. "No more, no less." Her lips curve in a fond smile, as though she'd known the man. "It sounds as though Martin Tarkus had a good life. I'm glad for that."

"Yeah." Timon nurses the word in silence, the furrows on his brow deepening. "I don't envy you your task," is what he comes up with next: talk about non sequitur. "To render unto Charon what is Charon's, I mean. Gods only know the universe doesn't have enough silver pieces to cover the eyes of the dead." Well this is morbid.

Ariadne shakes her head slightly. "Actually, I render unto Diaktoros Psychopompos what is Charon's. He takes it from there." She laces her hands before her. "I have a beautiful job. Heartbreaking, sometimes, but beautiful. I'm privileged to comfort the grieving and remember the dead. To bring hope where there's despair and succor where there's pain… I can't think of anything I'd rather do."

Ivory considers that for a while, lips pursed, eyes downcast; when he speaks, it's to some secret sing-song rhythm: "Strange, that Asklepios the healer bears the weapon of Hermes, harbinger of the gods, whom we call dioktoros; and dioktoros is also khtonios, Hermes of the Underworld; and khtonios is argeiphontes, since from the living once stole Hermes Argus the hundred-eyed; and argeiphontes is psukhopompos, for the soul of Hera's most favored guardian he led to the very gates of Tartarus — " Timon stops abruptly, his reedy voice hoarse. "I'm showing off again," he says, looking up. "Sophistry and pedantry." His short laugh breaks the mood. "Old habits die hard, I've learned."

Ariadne laughs. "Were you? Well, if you were… it worked." She grins. "I'm impressed." She turns to shut her locker. "I wonder, though, if you're actually flaunting when you do that. You don't seem the type." She looks over her shoulder at Ivory. "Though you do seem the kind that wants to share the things you love. People probably haven't understood that and accused you of showing off — maybe you've come to believe them. But I see you as seeking the connection of like minds."

She turns back and busies herself with buttoning her cassock. "I can be presumptuous. I'm probably reading too much into things I know too little about. I apologize."

"Before the Articles of Colonization, a man from Tauron visited Caprica to write a book about her prisons," is what Timon comes up with next. Apparently, it's time for his random knowledge dump of the day. "Alexei Towns. He came up with seven hundred pages of notes on the entirety of Caprican civilization — and now it's become mandatory reading for anybody interested in Pre-Colonial Government." Like Ivory. "Which is to say, sometimes it takes a certain kind of distance to evaluate a situation correctly." Timon leans forward to rest an elbow on the metal desk in front of him; brown eyes are careful not to glance at the priestess as she changes. "Though don't take that to mean I agree with you, necessarily." Another low chuckle. "I'm egotistical like the rest of my kind. More, if you ask the CAG."

"I didn't ask Captain Marek and don't plan on it," Ariadne replies with mild amusement. "Also, I am — you'll be shocked to know — entirely accustomed to being doubted." She wraps her fascia about her waist, tying her beads carefully into the knot. "But as luck would have it, I'm also egotistical." She flashes Timon a smile. "And therefore I maintain my opinion."

Timon — has no idea what to say to that, though his ears have turned the very slightest shade of pink. The jury's out as to whether it's visible under the light. "Anyway," he says, coughing, and the nonchalance with which he hands over the black bag is clearly feigned: his posture is stiff, his usually-animated hands are still, and his eyes have stopped blinking. "That's enough ego-stroking to last me a lifetime. Your, uh, laundry. I swear on every diploma I've ever received that I didn't look inside. To be honest — " His shoulders are noticeably tensed, as if bracing for impact. He'd be curled up in a ball if he thought he could get away with it. "This expedition wasn't my idea to begin with. It's all part of Black's effort to get me out of my bunk and socializing — something about 'comfort zones' and 'morale' and other stuff to that effect." He trails off near the end of that sentence, perhaps realizing he's rambling.

It can't be terribly flattering for a lady to hear that the gentleman before her had to be cattle prodded into her presence. Still, the bag's accepted with grace. "I appreciate your consideration. However, being that I am a priestess, I think you'd find my undergarments exceptionally uninteresting."

"To be honest, I wouldn't be able to tell the diff — " What begins as a casual comment rapidly becomes nothingness as Timon pulls the emergency brake on that sentence. Let the mortification commence.

Ariadne laughs, shaking her head a bit. It's not at all a mocking sound — she's a little embarrassed herself — but she shares it with ease. Burdens shared are halved, no? "Very, very plain," she elaborates, likely just making things worse. "Nothing to see here."

Nine peeks out into the main room of the berthings from behind her mostly-closes curtain, one dead, empty black eye socket, too large to be human, peering out from the crack as she watches the priestess who's recently moved in and her visitor.

Timon doesn't notice the opening curtain, so quite lost on him is the fact that he has an audience besides the priestess standing before him. "Better for my imagination that way," says the pilot, doing his best to grin away the embarrassment — until his brain, moving at about the speed of molasses, figures out just exactly what he's implying. "Not that I was imagining," he adds hastily, eyes focusing on a spot above the woman's head. Ho hum; nothing to see here; carry on. "You know what I mean."

The priestess lifts an eyebrow. It could be interpreted as flirtatious. You know. If there were actually a woman beneath that cassock. "Come now, Lieutenant. Allow me some illusions." She does, then, see the shift of the curtain. The dark eye peering. Her head tilts. "Hello, there."

The dark eye moves, the light catching a glint of dark, grainty wood, identifying the item behind the curtai as a mask. Then it disappears, leaving darkness in the small gap.

Timon stammers something unintelligible when he sees the diminutive deckie poke her head out from her bunk before withdrawing: something about the Kharon's stores of chaff, and the need to test them for duds, and the need to test them for duds Very Soon. It's a terrible excuse and he knows it, but he does have the advantage of not being particularly understandable at the moment. "Not lieutenant," is the only thing that's perfectly comprehensible. "I'm Ivory."

Ariadne blinks at the mask as it's withdrawn. She turns her attention distractedly back to Timon, then nods. "Only if you'll call me Ariadne," she replies.

The curtain makes no further motions, but the occupant behind it might presumably still be listening.

"Ariadne — daughter of Pasiphae and Minos," says Timon, almost by rote. "Helped Theseus overcome the Minotaur before being swept into the skies by Dionysus."

"My parents may very well have been Cretans," she dimples at the pun. "And I always HAVE had a weakness for wine." She glances once more at the curtain, then seems to let the matter pass from her mind. The bag of laundry's placed on a nearby table. "So, then. Ivory."

Timon's not sure if that's a question or not, and so does what he usually does when confronted with a dilemma like this one: continue talking. "I also had an ulterior motive in bothering you today — to apologize." His eyes are now focused not above the priestess' head but on a dot below her feet. "For — the incident in the laundry room." A finger returns to the place where his nose was broken, leaving white scratch-marks that soon turn an angry red. "Spin cycle," he clarifies, just in case. "I — really thought you burned yourself."

And the priestess winces deeply and groans, covering her face. Her shoulders shake… but when her hands come down, despite the near fuschia flush suffusing her face, she seems to be laughing. It's kind of a pained laugh… but it's better than tears, right? "Oh, Lords Be kind, the most humiliating moment of my life." She rolls her eyes with another pained laugh. "And of course you had to be there for it."

She waves a hand slightly, brushing the matter aside. "Your concern was appreciated, truly. Nothing damaged but my pride."

"I once dozed off during a seminar of five," says Timon, looking a little flushed himself. "I hadn't slept a wink the night before — some paper or other — and cranberry-infused espresso beans can only take a man so far." Yeah, he said it: cranberry-infused espresso beans. Because Ivory was quite the yuppie back in the day. "Turns out he was giving instructions for the next assignment. I woke up, found that section of my notes missing, and proceeded to ask the exact three questions he'd just spent the past few minutes answering." The pilot taps his hand against his boot, still supported by his leg. "Which is, now that I think about it, not at all the same thing."

Ariadne shakes her head, looking amused and rueful. "I suppose it's relative," she allows kindly. Then, "Cranberry-infused espresso beans?" A beat. "Covered in chocolate?"

"I'm a lush." Not the most plausible explanation for a fellow whose typical habits would make your average mountaintop ascetic look like a disciple of the Party God, but Timon has always been about the self-deprecation. Head moves forward to rest on the back of his palm.

Ariadne lids her eyes and sighs rapturously. "When there's chocolate again… I'll know the Universe has righted itself at last." She looks at Ivory again and smirks faintly. "Or I've died and gone to Elysium."

"I'd settle for toothpaste that didn't taste like seawater — and a library worth the name, as long as we're playing this game." Timon tilts his head backwards, relief palpable on his face: finally, something that involves neither the priestess' underwear nor her 'spiritual experience' with a dryer. "The good part about having a rich father whose idea of tenderness was to buy me expensive things: I had my own study, once. Mahogany shelves; eight of them. And this red leather chair that wasn't so soft as to put you to sleep but wasn't so hard as to be like sitting on a rock."

"That sounds beautiful," Ariadne says after a moment, as though she's painted it in her mind and considered it in fact. "You must have been very happy there. We had a library, too." She looks up slightly, over Timon's head. "There was a rose window. It echoed ever with whispers and footsteps. Like it was haunted. But beautifully, peacefully so."

"It was nice," replies Timon off-handedly, though the slight hoarseness in his voice betrays his real sentiment. Overly long brown curls droop over his eyes; he doesn't move to brush them back. "Was this at — temple?"

Ariadne nods. "I lived there all my life. The temple at Delphi." She smiles sadly. "A beautiful place. I miss it." She gestures slightly with her hands, framing words, or thoughts that lie too deep for tears. "I was left on the temple steps as in infant. Cliche, I know." She smiles wryly. "So I'm Ariadne Adelphi."

"Where mysteries unfathomable are explained — though maybe not in ways we mortals can understand." Timon tips his head, chuckling sotto voce at the thought. "So you're like a philosopher, then, except you have the luxury of divine smiting — which would have helped me with peer review, now that I think about it." The notion of testing chaff for duds has long been swept away.

"Something like that," she agrees, smiling. "I do have a degree in theology from the University. You could call my being groomed as an Oracle my master's work, perhaps." Still reflecting fondly, she continues, "That was a grueling process for all of us, the girls that were Chosen. And I was a terrible influence."

"I can't begin to imagine what it's like, if the old accounts of possession are any indication." Ivory sighs, flicking his hair backwards with the brush of an arm. A haircut: he really needs one — and, for that matter, a shave, too, judging from all the stubble. "Then again, spiritual experiences aren't my thing. It's your job to care for the souls of men; it's mine to doubt whether we have anything as silly as a soul to begin with. Easier to question than to believe, I guess."

Ariadne inclines her head. "A very astute observation. It's a very common misapprehension that faith is a weakness. Religion is the opiate of the masses." She shrugs lightly. "It's unfortunate. Belief requires an inordinate amount of courage. To trust what you can't see or touch. You might as well step out above a bottomless chasm, with only faith to assure you there's an invisible surface there. That you won't fall."

"I know what that feels like, at least." Timon's tone is mild; his words, deliberate. "Every time I get into my Raptor and turn on her engines. The deck crew assures me that her FTL is perfectly calibrated, that her spaceframe is sufficiently aerodynamic to sustain atmospheric flight without dropping like a twenty-ton rock, that her flight controls are responsive — I even got one of them to show me the math, which was about as incomprehensible as one of your prophecies." At that, Ivory smiles — perhaps a bit too tightly. It's only been a month or so since he discovered that there existed no invisible surface below Scorpia's troposphere with which to cushion a landing.

The curtain across the way there opens a little bit further with a rattling of bearings. Several faces gape out of the darkness toward the berthings in an eerie display, but the priestess will soon enough recognize them as the Dionysiac prayer masks that they are— speaking of divine possession, the masks are meant to act as a conduit to bring the god into the worshipper. And whoever lives over there has quite a collection, masks lining the inside of her bunk, staring at her from every surface but the one she reclines upon. A moment or so later the open space vomits out the form of the silent Petty Officer, who seems on the whole to have left her voice somewhere on Scorpia.

"Prophecies tend to be perfectly comprehensible. In retrospect." The irony of that isn't lost on the priestess, of course. There's amusement in her tone. "Remind me to tell you the one Blind Helvetica gave me…" She startles a little as the Dionysian girl emerges from the berthing so suddenly. "Hello," she says again, this time greeting the PO and not one of her masks. "You must be Nine." Who else could she be?

"What you call comprehensible I call hindsight bias — but that's the skeptic in me talking again." Ariadne is saved a potentially long and agonizingly boring explanation by the masked girl's appearance. "Afternoon," offers Timon, his small wave sending a brief ripple through the scarred skin of his shoulder. "I'm Ivory. From the chess match?"

Nine drops to her bare feet and then turns around, peeking over her sholder as greetings are sent in her direction. Her thin lips move a little, but she doesn't say anything, staring at the both of them in silence, instead. At least she isn't wearing a mask. She reaches back into her bunk and takes a cubit from the shelf there. Whether Timon will recognize it as the partcular cubit from the chess match, who knows. But it is. She remembers, she lets him know as she shows it to him.

Ariadne regards Timon with barely concealed amusement. "I'd have thought you a better tactician than that, Ivory." But the silent girl has most of her attention now. "I've seen you at Chapel," she observes. "There aren't many Dionysians on the Kharon. It's good to see Him revered. Such a lust for life is so beneficial in dark times."

"Luck travels," is Timon's reply to the display of the coin — he remembers, and more to the point, he remembers her, which might be why he looks not in the least befuddled by the girl's silence. "And to 'try and trap such a spirit' — to quote a wise man you may know — 'that's one way to ensure it never comes round again.'" It's accompanied by a faint shake of the head — as if he's just been reminded of something. Then, to Ariadne: "And where, pray tell, have I blundered?"

Nine replaces the cubit carefully on the shelf. Less a talisman of luck than one of remembrance, for her, but she doesn't correct the chessman out loud. She slips silently along to her locker and opens it, crouching down to find a set of clean clothes. The priestess gets another quiet look from the Dionysian's mouse black eyes, eyes which seem less than lusty, and certainly full of darkness. Perhaps her Dionysus is Deinotatos rather than Epiotatos.

Ariadne tilts her head towards Nine, displaying the cubit. "It looks to me like you lost," she elaborates to Timon. Her eyes track Nine as the girl crosses the room, her expression thoughtful.

Timon's Dionysus, for his part, is best characterized as Nemo — he's as much a Maenad as Nine is talkative. As for the cubit: "To Poet," he says. "A far better player than I will ever be." This isn't grudging respect but the real deal, judging from the earnestness with which he speaks. "Though, in my defense, I did put up a good fight." Timon humphs at the memory, not un-fondly; then, like he's suddenly remembered something: "Do — do you have some place to be? Because I've taken up a whole lot more of your time than I'd intended, really, and gods know there's plenty of souls aboard this vessel that need saving — " From mezzopiano to pianissimo goes his voice.

Nine takes a set of clothing from her locker and sets them on the cold metal of the table in between her bunk and the one opposite. Her eyes fix on the clothing briefly, and she pulls off her undershirts, first, about as prudish as a Maenad, setting them aside and not seeming shy about the deep and scarry divot that got blown in her chest on Scorpia, either. Her sweatpants and underwear, next, before she begins to get dressed in the clean set she'd pulled out.

The priestess blinks at Timon. She clears her throat a little, looking down and smoothing a non-existent wrinkle from her cassock. "I suppose I always have somewhere to be. You know… the Lords' work never being done and all that. No rest for the wicked. Et cetera, et cetera." She smiles and shakes her head. "But of course, I've taken up far too much of your time, Lieu—Ivory. So if you'll excuse me. I'll go do… something. Else. And you can, too." She wrinkles her brow. "If you choose. That is to say…" She sighs. "Never mind. Good hunting." She moves towards the hatch. "I'll see you in Chapel, Nine," though she doesn't look back at the latter, giving the girl privacy as she dresses.

Is somebody — getting naked? Timon doesn't have the guts to turn and check: by chance, he didn't look over at Nine until after she's disrobed, and that brief flash of female skin is more than enough to send his face snapping back toward the priestess so quickly it's a wonder he didn't get whiplash. But the priestess — well, she's leaving, now. "I have the niggling feeling I just said something wrong," the pilot notes rather sheepishly, setting down his uplifted foot and pushing himself upright in a not-so-smooth motion. His voice goes up, not down, when he speaks: an implicit signal that it's more question than statement.

Nine draws on fresh undergarments, and then begins girding herself in the full-body coveralls with the almost armored panels that constitutes the enginesnipe's workgear. She cinches it with her workbelt, and then sits down to pull on her socks ahead of her thick, heavy boots.

"Not at all," the priestess turns in mid-stride, her cassock in a swirl, her smile blithe. "We can't stand about all day as though we enjoyed one another's company. That would be highly impractical."

"It wasn't a dismissal," Timon starts — then thinks better of it, as he has very little confidence in his ability to salvage the situation. "Sorry," he murmurs, lamely. "I'll go — look at chaff pods. Or something." The now-clothed Nine gets a brief jerk of the head, as if to say 'Coming?'; then, he too is making for the hatch. It looks like they're going to be walking out together, unless Ariadne radically alters her pace.

Nine is going to be going on shift once her process of becoming clothed comes to an end. She's working with her boots' buckles when Timon shoots the look her way, and thus misses it.

Ariadne pauses reluctantly… ruefully. She shakes her head. "Think nothing of it," she says softly. She departs ahead of Timon and Nine, but not at the same clip as before.

And so it is that Timon ventures back out into the corridors of the ship not quite alone, as more than a few moments pass before the sound of Ariadne's footfalls disappears behind him. Just in case, the pilot checks his six more than a couple of times to ensure he’s he's out of earshot; then, with evident disgust that's assuredly uncharacteristic for a man of his nature: "Shit."

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