The News-Review

A Service of the News Bureau of the Government of the Twelve Colonies

Fleet, Quorum rocked by grisly double murder, suicide

Posted by Fleet News Service on September 30, 2007

CYLON SCREENING TRIGGERS DEADLY RAGE IN EX-PILOT; DISGRACED POLITICIAN, MARINE AMONG VICTIMS

 

BATTLESTAR PACIFICA, September 30 — Hours ago, word reached the News-Review offices that trouble was brewing aboard Pacifica. Strictly an internal matter — my source refused to pass any details to me over an unsecured channel. “Two people are dead, and there are witnesses. No criminal charges will be filed. This one’s open-and-shut,” intoned my source. “Now get over here and do your job.”

Never one to refuse such a “gracious” invitation, I hopped the next shuttle and tried to steel myself for whatever waited on the Battlestar. But nothing could have prepared me.

A “nugget” — or, rookie pilot — whom I hadn’t met before greeted me at the airlock and ushered me to the brig; aside from snapping at me to put on my visitor’s pass, he didn’t speak a word. Inside lay the two bodies I’d been warned to expect, one inside the bars and the other outside. Clearly the forensic investigators had finished their work as both were covered with shrouds, but the shapes under the cloth were distinctly female, and the air was still sharp with the odor of gunpowder.

I nodded to the Marine standing guard over the women, motioning to him to pull back the sheets. Staring back at me through empty, haunted eyes, were Caprican Representative Capri Carbetta, laying inside the cell she’d called home for the last several weeks, and disgraced former Heartbreakers pilot, Lt. Kalah Decuir on the concrete slab outside.

Carbetta and DeCuir b-w file photoI swallowed hard. “My Gods… What happened here?”

“Get these two to the morgue,” the Marine barked to two of his colleagues. Then, turning to me, he took a seat at the guard table and indicated that I should pull up a chair and join him. It was when he began to speak — low, growling, not looking me in the eye at first — that I recognized his voice as that of my anonymous source. (His name, of course, will not appear here.)

 

Photo, from the News-Review archives: Rep. Carbetta and Lt. DeCuir, at the first post-attack Fleet Economic Summit.

“We had our orders, plain and simple,” said the Marine. He seemed to be grappling with two opposing forces — duty and humanity — and it was hard to tell which was winning.

Was he ordered to kill them? Did they struggle?

Composing himself, the Marine spoke again.

“We needed to run the standard blood test on both of them. They were two of the last in the fleet who haven’t been tested yet, and it was time. We started with Carbetta — at least we knew where she was.” A smile. I returned it, hoping it would encourage him to keep talking.

“What were the results? Was she a Cylon?” I asked.

“No… Her blood came back clean.” Against my better inclinations, I felt a slight shudder of disappointment cross my shoulders. I suspect I wasn’t alone, as the Marine’s smile had run completely away from his face. “Whatever else people may have said about her,” he continued, “she was as human as the rest of us.” He sighed, smirked a little, and said, “She rambled for a while about being a political prisoner, held against her will, and that when she eventually assumed control over the Fleet we’d all be sorry… starting with me. You know, the usual stuff.”

I nodded, and we sat in silence for a moment. It seemed the wrong time to pepper the man with questions, but he seemed reluctant to go on. I set down my pen and leaned forward, trying to appear as non-threatening as possible. Failing to pick up on my hint, the Marine’s head swiveled. He stared at the bloodstained floor from which Carbetta’s body had just been removed, and then to the body of Lt. DeCuir, and back again. And again.

I could stand it no longer.

“Why did you shoot them, then, Corporal?”

This woke him up, and quickly. 

“I didn’t!  We didn’t!  We weren’t ordered to kill anyone!” He’d flushed red, and now glared at me as if he, himself, HADN’T demanded an audience with me. “None of this would have happened if we hadn’t tried to test…the other one.” He pointed, disgustedly, at the late Ms. DeCuir.

“Go on, Marine.” I lowered my voice almost to a whisper, again trying to reassure the rattled — and heavily-armed — soldier. “No one’s here to ruin your career…and if anyone asks, we never talked. You have my word.”

He continued, in spite of himself; clearly, I hadn’t earned his trust.

“Listen. The Commander wants this story out there, and that’s the only reason you’re here. When we’re finished here, you’ll be lucky not to end up in that cell for accusing a Marine of murder without supporting evidence.” I found his attempts to sound legally authoritative somewhat amusing, almost endearing…and made a mental note to ask Ms. Christensen of the Judiciary if any legal precedents for such “charges” existed.

“We needed to find DeCuir before we could test her. Since she’d had her flight status revoked, she hadn’t been seen aboard Pacifica. Stopped coming to briefings, stopped filing duty reports…she was essentially AWOL. We had a strike team search her quarters – not there. We scoured 7th Heaven top to bottom, no sign of her. Not in the lounge, not in the pool…and we checked with you news people to see if she’d appeared on Celestra. But she’d just…vanished.  About the only spot left to search was the Tylium Queen.”

Shouldn’t that have been the first place you looked? I thought. Haven’t you heard the rumors of what’s been going on there, lately? If you want to live off the grid, outside the reach of law and order, that ship’s as good a place as any to start weighing your options…

“So, last night another team boarded the Queen. Sure, we could have made some arrests for minor infractions if we’d felt like it, but we’re not a civilian police force. People want to blow off a little steam, as long as they’re not wearing a Colonial uniform it’s not our business. So, we turned a blind eye to a couple of things…until we got upstairs, of course.”

“What was upstairs?”

It felt, unbelievably, like we might finally be getting somewhere. When the Marine’s head turned to watch his colleagues wheeling the Lieutenant’s body out on a gurney, I knew.

“DeCuir was in a daze, and the room reeked of chamalla. By the looks of her, she was starting to go through withdrawal, though… Eyes sunken, sweating, shaking. Still in uniform…at least part of it. She saw us enter, and tried to speak, but it all seemed like nonsense to me. Just chanting, flapping her tongue, and dropping to her knees in front of some kind of a shrine. The team leader ordered her restrained, because we needed to get a blood sample.”

“Wouldn’t the drugs have affected the screening process?” It was a longshot, but I hoped I could get him to tell me whatever he knew about the way these so-called “recreational” drugs interact with the top-secret screening technology. Luckily, he missed the hidden intent of my question.

“Blood is blood, sir. Unless it’s got the synthetic Cylon markers in it, we don’t care about whatever other crap might be swimming through people’s veins. Until we’re ordered otherwise, we’re not going to stomp on people’s free will.”

“I see.” 

Cylon markers. Interesting.

“Did she submit to the test?”

“She put up a hell of a fight. What they say about never forgetting your training, well, it’s true. She was landing hand-to-hand moves like I haven’t seen since basic training! Sent one of our guys to Sick Bay for stitches, too. But, the chamalla had taken its toll — she got winded, quick. When she slumped back onto the bed, we drew the blood sample…and double-timed it out of there.”

“Why didn’t you take her into custody, Marine? She’s still in uniform, apparently still passing herself off as military, and doing illicit drugs aboard a civilian ship…”

The Marine looked at me, leveling his eyes at mine. “Like I said, the drug charges aren’t our business unless we’re ordered. We figured, she’s no more a pilot anymore than YOU are — and to tell you the truth, if she’d kept the chamalla habit up much longer, she’d have been so far gone that no one would have had to worry about her much longer. We posted a single Marine guard outside her room on the Queen to keep an eye on her, but quite frankly, she wasn’t our problem anymore.”

I sensed I’d hit a dead end, but there were still so many unanswered questions. What had happened to Carbetta? How did a drug-ravaged ex-pilot end up dead in the brig next to a deranged politician?

Before I’d had much more time to ruminate, the Marine stood up and began to pace around the brig like a defense attorney holding forth for a jury.

“It was when the test results came back last night that things really started to get out of hand. DeCuir’s blood had the markers — there was no doubt about it. She was a Cylon.” He paused, for effect. “Sure, THEN we wished we’d taken her into custody…so my battalion leader ordered her Marine guard to enter the room and to bring her back to Pacifica ASAP.”

“And?”

“Corporal Mason entered as ordered, but wasn’t able to get a visual on the prisoner. Not on the bed, in the chair, in the closet… He went for his wireless to call it in, and that’s when…” His voice trailed off, and he swallowed hard. “That’s when she came down on his head. He’d forgotten to sweep the whole room — including the ceiling — and she’d been perched on a high shelf over the door, waiting for him. She pounced, and snapped his neck in a single move.”

“Did you send reinforcements, when he didn’t answer his wireless?”carbetta and vargas_Web ready

“We never knew there was a problem. She got him before he ever pushed the transmit button…so as far as we knew, she was still snug as a bug and stoned out of her mind on the Queen. It wasn’t until an hour or so later — about 0300 this morning, in fact — that we heard of a problem, over the ship-wide here on Pacifica:

‘Set Condition One – Intruder alert! Unconfirmed reports of shots fired; identity and disposition of intruder unknown. Marine strike teams, sweep all decks!’

“By the time we’d located the source of the gunfire, it was too late. She’d taken out Carbetta, and then turned Corporal Mason’s stolen sidearm on herself.”

Photo: Rep. Carbetta, on the night of her arrest for sedition. Having attempted to assemble a Quorum to force through an emergency “appointment” to the post of Vice President, the late Representative from Caprica refused to drop her claims that emergency succession via Case Orange had placed President Vargas (right) in power “against the will of the people.”

I sat for a moment, stunned. It seemed unconscionable that DeCuir, a recognized security risk and newly-uncovered Cylon, could have found her way aboard Pacifica again and all the way to the brig without being detected. True, she’d shrewdly waited until a quiet duty shift, worn her old uniform, and quite likely changed her appearance (a haircut and colored contact lenses, at a minimum), but had EVERYONE been asleep at the switch? I jotted down some quick notes for future follow-up.

1. Pacifica security chief — surveillance tapes, BSP and TQ?

 

2. President & Quorum — Civilian police force?  (Suggested by Halberd weeks ago… status???)

Wanting to be sure I’d captured the salient facts, I looked the now-pale Marine straight on and spoke slowly, carefully. “You’re telling me, Corporal, that once DeCuir knew she was at risk of being uncovered as a Cylon, she snuck aboard Pacifica and killed the Representative, and then herself? Do I have that right?”

“Not exactly, Mr. Steadham. At least, I don’t think so. See, I’m not sure she even knew she was a Cylon. We hadn’t had a chance to report her results to her yet. See, we’d taken her blood shortly after midnight last night, brought it to the lab by 00:30 hours, and the test takes at least an hour to complete…which brings us to 01:30. To my knowledge, no teams were dispatched back to the Queen to inform Ms. DeCuir of the test results. Clearly something set her off, but I’d hesitate to say it was the Cylon thing.”

Something clicked… a snippet from earlier in the conversation.

Chanting…flapping her tongue…kneeling in front of some weird shrine…

“When you found her on the mining ship, you said she was babbling, chanting… Could you make out anything she was saying?”

The Marine hesitated. “Something about divine will… and lots of ‘No, no, no…’ See, she seemed conflicted. Arguing with herself.  Her eyes were wide, like she could see something for the very first time…but then she’d get angry and start denying it. All the while, she’d get more and more worked up. I think we all chalked it up to the chamalla…”

*          *          *          *          *

We wrapped our interview shortly after, as we needed to clear out of the brig for final cleanup. This Marine source of mine, who’d initially wanted to tear my head off and feed it to me, seemed now to have released a great weight from his shoulders having told his story. I shook his hand, collegially, and started for the airlock again. He called over his shoulder.

“Steadham. No names, got it?”

In that moment, his voice sounded more like it had over the wireless. Involuntarily, I replayed in my mind his chilling summary of the situation. Two people are dead, there are witnesses, no criminal charges… Two people? Weren’t there three bodies in the morgue? The Marine…the Representative… and…

Of course.  Not a person… a cleverly disguised killing machine.

“Copy that, Marine. I’ll keep my promise.”

*          *          *          *          *

And so we bid farewell to a Marine Corporal killed in the line of duty, a conflicted pilot tortured by a private crisis, and a power-mad politician who, despite her other faults, gave those of us in the press trade a great deal of material to pass along to the Fleet. Though it may be an unpopular viewpoint at present, I’ll personally lobby President Vargas to grant full Colonial honors to all three of the deceased; two, after all, were military, and the other apparently served her Caprican constituents with distinction prior to the Cylon attacks.

If there’s a lesson here, it’s that extraordinary circumstances often draw extraordinary behaviors from ordinary people — sometimes for the betterment of all, and sometimes for personal gain.

Mason is, no doubt, a hero and should be honored as such… but in the spirit of Fleet-wide unity, perhaps it’s time to clean Carbetta’s and DeCuir’s slates too. For in forgiving the “unworthy” their transgressions, we point out the greatest qualities of humanity — those qualities that make us ALL worthy of the lives spread out before us.

Dean Steadham
The News-Review

 

((OOC note: Yeah, so this one’s not written in a strictly journalistic style… so sue me! I was in the mood for a narrative… 🙂  -DS))

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6 Responses to “Fleet, Quorum rocked by grisly double murder, suicide”

  1. Unknown source said

    Interesting article, Mr. Steadham. Despite the fact that it is well written, do you really think it’s wise to tell people about the possibility of Cylon sleeper agents ? People will accuse their neighbors of being Cylons just cause they want their Ambrosia in a mug instead of in a glass as usual.

    This wont end well.

  2. fleetnewsservice said

    In an age as absurdly unpredictable as this, “Unknown,” the time for measuring our words, for hiding from the unknown rather than facing it head-on, is long past. If taking a risk in print awakens leadership to the need for true security (rather than a skeleton crew and a bucket full of hope), then I have no regrets.

    And I’ll take my ambrosia however I can get it, thanks.

    — DS

  3. LizzyD Vendeta said

    “perhaps it’s time to clean Carbetta’s and DeCuir’s slates too. For in forgiving the “unworthy” their transgressions, we point out the greatest qualities of humanity — those qualities that make us ALL worthy of the lives spread out before us.”

    Clean DeCuir’s slate? Frack no! If I knew she was a Cylon I would have shot her between the eyes and fed her non-human ass to the rats!

    LizzyD Vendetta, XO Tylium Queen

  4. Arrow of revenge said

    apon reading this my heart truely bleeds for the loss of lives. there was no good blood or good feelings between me or either of those two, but as decuirs commanding officer in the heart breakers. my heart truely bleeds at the loss of one of my pilots. carbetta, truely on of the remaining politicans, i hold no candle of honor to her name.

    but still a life is a life freind or not, and a wasted life is a shame.

  5. The Sky Tracer said

    Amen to that, Arrow, whatever Kalah truly was, she should always be remembered for who she was, not what she turned out to be. I will always remember her that way, as the second cutest Heartbreaker in the squad.

    As for the late lamented Ms. Carbetta, I shed no tears for her, she was only after power and nothing else.

  6. Argo Blanco said

    I’m just returned on the Pacifica after a prisony on the cylon basestar and it’s very sad to read that Lt. De Cuir is dead.
    The Last time i’ve saw she alive was in the brigs of Pacifica, she was earlier freed from the cylons. She was in the brigs of Pacifica as i am now, she asked for her flaute, an instrument that she liked to play in her spare time. Can’t forget that moment, and i remember i didn’t want to believe she was suspected to be a cylon.
    Now i prefer remember her as one of my squadron, as a good wing commander, always ready to do her duty. For me Kalah died when she was caught by the cylons. It’s easyer for my mind.

    Writing this from the brigs of the Pacifica.
    Ensign Argo Blanco, Hearthbreakers pilot.

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