2237-04-11 - Lay Your Burdens at the Altar

Beckham visits Chaplain Aldrich for some advice on how to treat a reopened wound on the soul.

Date: 2237-04-11

Location: Caves of Isabel Island, Canceron

Related Scenes: None

Plot: None

Scene Number: 973

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After trading off the civilians and injured for new supplies and reinforcements, one of the first things Aldrich did was claim a clean uniform and retreat to a private section of the nearby stream to clean up. Anyone who had a chance to see him before would understand why... He escaped largely unscathed, himself, but through the course of their various adventures, his old uniform had become a hopeless patchwork of reddish and brown stains that were impossible to wash out. The new uniform doesn't fit perfectly, and he looks a bit like he borrowed his older brother's jacket, but at least he's clean!

Now, he has retreated to a space near enough to the mine to be relatively safe, and where he can hear if any emergency comes up, but where he can sit and meditate while waiting for his turn at watch. He has a distinctly Gemenese way of meditating: seated on the ground, legs folded and hands resting on his knees, back ramrod straight and stiff, and eyes closed. It's the same posture he'd be found in back at the Galactica's chapel, if one were to come in outside of an official service.

In stark contrast to Aldrich, Beckham still looks fresh. His jungle printed battle uniform carries several pockets and patches, stuffed with items. His tactical vest is still packed with magazines and ammo. Though he's removed the helmet for now, the shemagh is still wrapped about his neck and drapes down - definitely not standard issue.

He arrives in the makeshift place of worship and clears his throat. "Chaplain?" he asks. "Told me that I might find you down here. So, I brought a little something." From his ruck, he pulls out a small box of incense. "Enough for a week, here's to hoping we ain't down here much longer than that." While his voice has the harsh muddle of a Sagittaron to it - the undertones are decidedly Caprican in origin as he offers up a grim smile.

Aldrich blinks his eyes open and looks up at the sound of footsteps approaching. He still has the tell-tale dark circles and generally worn-out look that matches the others who lived through the escape from Edson air base, but if he's a little weary, it doesn't stop him from giving a welcoming smile. "Oh, hello... What's this?" He accepts the small box to have a look at it, and then gives a slow, crooked grin. "Now here I was assuming no one would think of our religious needs. That's really very kind of you... Would you care to join me? It's not a comfortable seat, but it's peaceful."

"Was stationed on Sagittaron for a few years - never really got into the religious way, but know enough people respect it." Beckham offers, before he moves to take a seat. "Thanks for the offer, sir. I already know that the rocks are as comfy as it gets. Met a nice one the other night, but I ain't taking it to bed with me." he says with a little laugh as he settles down and lowers his head for a moment. "Hades, who knows, maybe if I do figure this all out, it would be in the chapel."

Aldrich doesn't seem too surprised by Beckham's explanation of his religious status. Perhaps it's a story he's heard before, but if so, he doesn't seem too bothered. "There are times when I think that having respect for the paths that other people take is half the battle." He takes a last look over the package of incense, before finally placing it gently on the ground by his knee. The joke about the rocks earns a quiet chuckle, then he grows a little more solemn again, curiosity piqued by the last comment. "Sometimes I think a jungle must have been the original chapel," he remarks, quietly. "Are you struggling with something?"

Slowly balling his hand into a fist, Beckham grinds the top of his glove into the flat surface of a rock that has been rubbed smooth by millions of years of rain water. "Either that or it was the original purgatory, sir." he says, as there's a bit of a frown, then he starts carefully. "Forgive me, Chaplain, for I have sinned.. it's been.. over a decade since my last confession. My father ransacked the Caprican government out of millions of cubits, and built my life on a pack of lies that I have come to pay penance for." he closes his eyes. "And it seems here, in the jungles of this world, that either Hades come to collect his due, or Athena's just going to prove what a bitch she is."

Aldrich raises his eyebrows slightly, but sits a little straighter, listening attentively as Beckham starts his confession. "I see..." he says, slowly, in the way people do when they don't, in f act, see at all. "Is this your first ground mission?" he ventures, tentatively.

"My first mission? Frak no!" Beckham laughs at that, and rolls up his sleeves. On his left arm is a long jagged scar from a bladed weapon. "Riot suppression." On his right? Tattooed there in grim dark ink is his name, serial number, blood type, allergies and religious preference. A permanent, on body, hex tag. "It's about a girl. But I'm sure you've heard that one before too. One I haven't seen in a long time, and came back to visit me last night."

Aldrich gives a mild little smile. "I didn't think it looked that way, but I try not to assume... You'd be surprised." His head tilts at the revelation of the real source of the trouble, and he raises an eyebrow. "An ex-girlfriend?" he guesses, and then wonders, "Someone from the Edson bombing, or someone who came along with the reinforcements?"

Ex-girlfriend. Oh, that would be easy. Beckham gives a little chuckle at that. "Ah, sorry. Didn't mean to snap sir, just a little skittish - which is funny. Put me in a small village with hundreds of hostiles and wounded, I'm fine." he starts, before his smile turns lopsided, and he draws in a breath. "Step off a Raptor, and come face to face with my wife? That's a whole other kit and kaboodle."

That one does seem to surprise the Chaplain. Aldrich's brows go up, "Your wife? That's..." He doesn't seem to know what to say about it. After hesitating for a moment, he offers, "It sounds like that was a bit of a surprise for you. You didn't know your wife was assigned here?"

"I didn't even know she had joined the Navy, sir. It's a long story.. and I'm fairly sure you'd get bored with the details." Beckham says with a laugh. "We haven't seen each other in a while.." and it's clear that he's trying to find a way to approach it, but is having a hard time short of 'starting at the beginning'.

Aldrich blinks rapidly, possibly trying to compute the situation that must have occurred for someone to be married and somehow not know that they'd gone off to war. And then at least one puzzle piece falls into place, and he guesses, "You were married to Dorn?" Seeing that Beckham is struggling, he asks another question, "Did you split, or were you separated by... events out of your control?"

Aldrich is a smart cookie, and his recognition of to whom he refers as well as his ability to parse it out is rewarded with a nod of the Marine's head, and a grim look. "Remember when I said my father stole millions from the Caprician government? Before that, my family was as powerful as hers - and they had arranged for us to meet and had hoped that we would blossom into a relationship." he comments and then chuckles dryly. "They didn't know how hard we would take root to each other; while they were planning a wedding, we eloped and didn't tell anyone."

"After my father was arrested, her father called off the marriage and threatened to have me arrested for knowing Tamlin.. when she wasn't quite of age - mind you, she was of the majority when she married me - but her father's a powerful force. And he forced me into the military, and Tamlin seemed pretty clear of mind that she never wanted to see me again." he admits quietly. "I tried to forget her, to drown her out, first in alcohol and women. But that failed.. so I found duty was the only way to quiet the voice in my head. So I threw myself into my work and tried to forget her. Not that I ever could. I even wear my ring still, sir." he reaches up and touches his tags where the ring sits with them. "And seeing her last night.. that's some powerful stuff to be bringing back up."

Given the limited number of people in the Edson crew to begin with, 'female Navy, possibly Caprican socialite, whose relationship status is unknown to Aldrich' might be a pretty small subset. In any case, Aldrich listens with a quiet sort of empathy, nodding here and there to show that he's listening, and when Beckham reaches some sort of a conclusion, he asks, "So you think the gods sent her here to punish you for your father's sins?"

"I don't know if she's here as punishment.. or for a second chance." Beckham admits as he draws in his breath. "I guess that makes things a might bit confusing. As far as I know, sir, we're still married. Her father tried to make me sign an annulment contract. Offered me 20 thousand cubits to do it. I refused." he explains. "But it's been almost nine years. I'm not even sure how to approach her - much less how this is going to work out. I guess I'll have to talk to her." he says finally as he looks down. "And see how she feels."

Aldrich nods a little, slowly, and considers all of this for a time. Finally, he takes a deep breath, and offers, "I think... perhaps it's best to remember that women are not rewards or punishments doled out by the gods. They are... people. That's all." He smiles, gently. "You won't know until you talk to her. But... try to remember to take her perspective, whatever her reaction is. Nine years is a very long time to be married if your spouse if not around to... be the spouse. And I don't know what it's like on Caprica, but on Gemenon, the consequences for this sort of thing can be much different for women than it is for men."

"Fair enough.. she was never a prize. Yeah, to our families, we were pieces of a contract.. but she was never a thing to be possessed to me. I had those things. Horses, a yacht. Those things can be taken away and you can never get them back. Tam's heart, though? That's something I'm not sure I even deserve. But like you said.. won't know until I talk to her." Beckham admits as he looks around. "Uh. You ain't got a place to leave a donation or something for collection? I know I'm supposed to leave a little something for my use of the services."

Aldrich nods a little, and smiles ruefully. "If it helps, I don't think anyone ever /deserves/ another's love. That is the beauty of love, if you ask me... But even if it doesn't have the outcome you're hoping for, at least now you can perhaps seek some kind of closure." Beckham's last question is met with a little chuckle. "No, unfortunately. You know, I've met a lot of people with many different beliefs, and sometimes I find them quite useful in situations like this. There's a small sect on Aerilon where they don't give any physical sacrifices at all. Instead, they sacrifice pieces of themselves. Figuratively speaking, I mean. So perhaps when you speak with Dorn, you could make a point to sacrifice what you hope to receive and think instead of what she would like you to give. I think the gods would be satisfied with that."

That brings a thoughtful pause from the Marine as he considers Aldrich's words, weighing them heavily. "I'm going into this not even sure if I should, or what to expect or receive.. so.. yeah, I reckon that you're right. And those Aerilon folks ain't all backwards rednecks that marry their sisters." he winks at that, and gives a short nod of his head. "I'll leave my burdens and expectations here then, sir, and pray that we will find our way, in whatever direction that may lead."

Aldrich smiles patiently at the Aerilon crack, and then nods a little. "I'll say a prayer for you both to find peace. Whatever that looks like for you," he offers, gently. "And feel free to come see me whenever you like. Religious or not... Even after this is over. Everyone is always welcome in the chapel."

Pushing himself to his feet, the Marine rolls his sleeves back down, and considers for a moment. Reaching into his pocket, he pulls out a few cubits and sets them on the rock that serves as the altar. "For the words, though can't rightfully put a price on them." he admits, before he slings his rifle back into place, and heads off to see if nine years of walls can offer any cracks.


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