PHD #057: A Necessary 'No'
A Necessary 'No'
Summary: In the wake of the CMO's death, the Admiral passes the responsibility to new shoulders.
Date: 2041.04.25
Related Logs: None.
Abbot Bia 
Sickbay — Deck 10 — Battlestar Cerberus
Post-Holocaust Day: #57
Being able to accommodate combat casualties requires room, and the Sickbay has it. Beds line each side of the room with privacy curtains strung up and readily available. Large vaulted lockers hold access to the supplies at the far end of the area. Nearer the front, a Petty Officer sits ready to dispense simple items like ibuprofen and aspirin. Further to the rear is an area prepped twenty-four hours a day for emergency surgery. To the side are a set of double doors that lead to the Recovery Ward where patients can recuperate.
Condition Level: 3 — All Clear

For all the good-natured ribbing the Cerberus' engineers have received from their comrades, nobody can deny the quality of their work. The damage from the recent Cylon unpleasantness has largely been erased, though priority was obviously given to providing substantive rather than cosmetic repairs. The bullet holes and burn marks still present on Sickbay's gunmetal-grey bulkheads provide silent testimony to the horror of that lethal afternoon — as if the bodies in the ship's morgue weren't proof enough of that.

And so it is that when Admiral Michael Abbot arrives for his scheduled inspection, only a couple of people remain to greet him. Their faces are tired and drawn, but their salutes are quick and steady nonetheless. A few of them are stained with blood — of others, not their own; many more bear ranks far different from those they held just two weeks before, breveted by his command. "Admiral on deck," the lead doctor announces, snapping into parade formation just the way Abbot likes it.

"At ease." The salute's returned curtly, almost perfunctorily. "Don't let me distract you from your work." Which doesn't stop his keen eyes from flicking this way and that, dancing from the damage to the physicians to the orderlies to the several patients conscious enough to have greeted him upon his arrival, but still.

"Understood, sir." At that pronouncement, the doctor in charge of his reception snaps his fingers, dismissing the assembled company. And as the crew's myraid voices begin to rise once more, he fixes his attention on one officer in particular. "Lieutenant Bia, front and center. The admiral's requested that you brief him on the department's status. Nurse Wilson will handle your airman for the time being."

"Take you this- here. And- here. Perfect. Records are over here." The warm drawl rises from behind the curtain as the switchover is performed and, a few short moment later Grace strides briskly out, long-fingered hands passing over and around eachother as she works disinfectant gel into them. There's a quick smoothing of her scrubs as she steps forward and pulls herself into a salute, eyes on the Admiral for a moment before the chicory gaze continues past him to the wall. "Admiral, Sir."

"Lieutenant. Walk with me." Abbot's steady gaze rises from her hands to her face as he offers her a short, tight smile that doesn't quite reach his eyes. His prominent knuckles jut out from the back of his hand as he offers it to the woman, and then, pleasantries over, he begins his tour of the ship's reconstructed heart. "Captain Gabrieli tells me that Sickbay's now running at a hundred percent capability," he begins without preamble, pausing to run a finger down the side of an unoccupied cot — one of a precious few. No dust. "You know that's not true, don't you."

It's a slim but work-roughed hand that Grace shakes with. Professional but soft, the slightest papery feel to the skin that comes along with the march of years. That handled, she falls into stride with the Admiral. "An engineer's eyes weren't ever a doctor's eyes, Sir. The work's right as rain, but it won't be helping our restructuring." A nice way of phrasing 'scraping half the necessary staff over twice the work', that. Softer, with a glance up to the man: "Captain Glory passed two nights ago, Sir. I'm sure you're aware. Weren't nothing more we could do, I'm very sorry to say. There's a whole mountain of work she left behind we're just starting to put eyes on."

"Funeral arrangements have been made." The lines around Abbot's eyes grow slightly more obvious as he stares at the pillow and perfectly-folded sheets on the cot before him — envisioning its previous occupant, perhaps, or its future ones. "I never thought I'd see the day when the chaplain's secretary has to write a stock scheduling conflict memorandum to handle those arrangements." The slightly hyperbolic confession is delivered woodenly — as if by rote — while he proceeds onwards, not looking to see if he's being followed. "Supplies. How are we?"

There's a notable pause there, and a sound the Admiral is doubtless intimately familiar with — the sound of someone drawing themselves up while trying to decide how best to answer. Good words, or truthful ones? Grace's voice answers the Admiral from a step behind, after the tiniest throat-clearing. "I hain't been able to find the manifest records in the backlog yet, Sir. 'About what we expected' isn't the answer you're wanting, and I'm not happy to be the one giving it. A proper accounting's next on our list, Sir, once we're moved back in."

"We expected to be on patrol with Admiral Kulle and the rest of the Ninth Fleet on the Armistice Line." The rebuke is delivered with as much ice as — well, as much ice as one would expect, but Abbot's annoyance isn't aimed at her. Those knuckles flare white as he pauses to observe a surgeon at work some two beds over, her face impassive while nimble fingers dip into a pale-faced patient's innards. "I'm told we recovered a few crates of anti-rads aboard Parnassus." The 'And it won't be enough' is implied, not spoken. "So, accounting's next on the list. What's first?"

For her part, Grace seems uncowed, following after the Admiral with unruffled patience. "We did at that, Sir. Always better with some than none at all." Her eyes are on the surgeon as well — or her work, more precisely — until the Admiral speaks again. "If'n we're not counting the rest of patient transfer, Sir, it's scheduling. Hain't no point in trying to take stock if you're runnin' on empty and makin' mistakes for it. I've got a preliminary schedule in the works, but things are in a turvy after Miss Glory."

"So CMES isn't the only department writing up a stock scheduling conflict memorandum, is it." Another tight smile, this one coming a bit closer to genuine than the first. "I should put you in touch with Crewman Eamon — and keep up the good work, Doctor." This, spoken just loudly enough to reach the surgeon's ears. Abbot doesn't seem to mind that he gets no response other than a vaguely dignified grunt. The niceties of rank tend to drop away when somebody's life is on the line. And then, moving deeper into Sickbay with Bia on his tail: "Tell me about Project Domiongo, Lieutenant."

"Mmn." It's a slow and quiet sound — a different sort of drawing-up and taking-stock of one's audience than the earlier question posed by the Admiral. "Exploratory mission into the Domiongo Jungle, Sir. The CO at Fort Lubutu, well, he always was the sort who kept his eyes on results and weren't much interested in how they got there. Civilian pharmaceutical firm was shipping in from Caprica, and he wanted claim rights. It weren't nothing someone else couldn't handle, and, well." There's a slight change in tack to her story. "With Remy passed, he couldn't watch our babies while I was away, and I weren't interested in being in charge of levelling a jungle." A scant moment later, she adds, "He never did like hearin' a 'no', even a necessary one. Figured I'd be better off on the Cerberus, after that."

"I see." The admiral finally stops, having turned a sharp ninety degrees to starboard to bring him into the semi-privacy of a room within a room, created by the bullet-torn curtains hanging loosely from the ceiling. "Not many people get the chance to turn down captain's pins, Lieutenant, and even fewer people get the chance to turn them down twice." The planes of his face glitter beneath the surgical light he flicks on with a tug of his thumb and index finger — planes like a hard-cut diamond that bends for no one.

"Maybe you'll be one of the latter; maybe you won't. Because I'll be frank, Lieutenant: I don't know you." There's a slight pause as he crosses his hands behind his back, shoulders steady as always. "I don't know you, Lieutenant, but I selected Captain Diego for this post and Captain Diego selected you for your post, which means I have full confidence in your ability to get done whatever job needs to get done, doesn't it." The rhetorical question is phrased as a declaratory statement by that low and cultured voice. "Welcome to the team, Interim Chief Medical Officer. I want an inventory of what you have and what you need on my desk by 0800 tomorrow. Deputize a second-in-command if you need — I'm no doctor and I'll defer to your judgment on that issue. And before you even think about refusing, you should know that on this ship there's no longer a such thing as a 'necessary no.' Am I clear, Lieutenant?"

"Asclepius don't much care how much brass you're wearing, Sir, long as you get his Good Work done." Grace offers this back, soft and smooth-sailing in the choppy wake of the Admiral's grim words. If there's startlement in her sudden status change, it lingers too deep in her eyes to be seen. There maybe, ma-a-aybe is a touch of amusement, of all things, as if Grace is thinking, 'Well, if that don't beat all.' "Clear as a summer's sky, Sir. You'll have those reports by morning." She reforms herself into a stately salute, eyes on the Admiral's this time as she does so.

"Good." And Abbot softens ever so slightly as he returns the salute and places his hand on the woman's shoulder — if he's permitted, of course. "Should you need anything, my hatch is always open. I'd prefer you stay alive long enough to visit more than once." A faint ghost of a smile flits across his face. "Now stop staring and get to work. That'll be all, Lieutenant — I can finish the inspection on my own."

Good Gracious is the hugging sort, though it's passing unlikely the Admiral will ever be privy to this. She doesn't seem the sort to balk at contact, and simply relaxes her salute, standing there with that same warm patience and a wide, if weary, curve of mouth. "Appreciate you lettin' me get back to work, Sir. Admiral's eyes aren't always a doctor's eyes, neither. Mind your footing near the lab doors, there's a mop goin' in there." With that she's off to the bustling depths of Sickbay, pushing from stillness to a brisk and long-legged stride between one step and the next.

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