PHD #315: All Bullshit, Really
All Bullshit, Really
Summary: Cidra and Damon discuss death, responsibility, and leadership.
Date: 07 Jan 2042 AE
Related Logs: Breaking Point
Cidra Damon 
Chief's Office - Hangar Deck - Battlestar Cerberus
Post-Holocaust Day: #315
The room is fairly small, to maximize the area of the deck itself. It contains a smallish metal desk with locking drawers, a computer terminal, a file cabinet against one wall and metal shelves filled with tools, spare parts, and manuals. There are two chairs facing the desk, clearly scavenged from somewhere else. One area of the shelving, nearest the desk, has been cleared and is clean. This holds a coffee maker that constantly seems to have some brew or other in it. Above the chair behind the desk, in a position of prominence, a framed picture has been hung. It is an embroidered image depicting Hephaestus with his two metal helpers. The work is beautiful and almost lovingly detailed. The god is laughing, one eye bright where a patch covers the other. He is held aloft by his helpers, one done in glittering gold, the other in silver.
Condition Level: 2 - Danger Close

It's not easy for the CAG or the Chief to get a free moment these days, what with continual double CAPs, salvage (and the hope the ship will even be fixed soon!) and repairs, and all the fun that comes with Condition 2. Still, Cidra does drift over to try and pay Damon a visit when she touches down from her own turn on CAP and complete her post-flight. She's jocking a Viper today. A rarity, even moreso since Aerilon than it was before, but she managed the thing competently enough. She's been covering some of the Viper shifts since the death of her pilot, Kefir Abbascia.

It's not easy for Damon to sleep, even when he's off shift. So he's crawled back into his office and is rubbing his eyes while dealing with some of the mountain of paperwork dominating his desk. It's literally piled up so high in multiple stacks that the Chief is obscured from view behind his desk. Maybe that's his way of hiding while keeping his door open to everyone. His policy since Nikolai's suicide is that anyone can walk in anytime and talk to him about anything. "What in the frak kind of chicken-scratch is this?" he mutters to himself, holding up a hand-written report and squinting at it.

"Ahem." Cidra clears her throat. Not too loud, but she has a way of projecting when she wants to.

Damon squints from the memo over to the door - he looks surprised to see Cidra standing there. "Toast," he says, his voice reflecting his surprise. He lets the paper fall to the desk and fires off a quick, informal-looking salute. "Please, come in. Bit of a mess right now, I know, but…"

The salute is acknowledged just as informally, and in Cidra comes. "Chief. I shall not take up too much of your time. You are most busy, it is clear. But we did need to speak on the matter of the incident in the launch tube. It was an awful affair. Prayers to those souls." She bows her head. "My thoughts have been much on my Kefir Abbascia. And your man. Nikolai Ganas was his name, yes? Are your other personnel going to be all right? I did hear one of your people was additionally injured in the mess."

Damon sits down and shuffles the piles around so that he and Cidra can at least see each other when they're sitting down, much as he did during Mark's visit earlier in the day. "Nikolai, that's correct," he confirms. "We had a couple injuries. PO2 Radcliffe took it the worst - she was the one who managed to close the hatch, as I understand it. She's recovering now. I'm sorry about Captain Abbascia, I don't even know what I can say that can even approach how…" He tries to find the words, but can't. "One of the Deck crew - my Deck crew, now - caused the death of a pilot. Killed him. And took his own life."

"Chief. I am not here for recriminations," Cidra says, sitting. Posture a little slouched. She's a tall woman and tends to slouch a little habitually, if she's not taking care to watch her posture. "Not so long ago my Lieutenant Tobias Ulixes tried to end his own life in an airlock. Thank all gods he was talked down. My Tisiphone Apostolos, my Money Shot, she had no such luck…" Cidra's voice catches some at that last. She clears her throat. "What happened was ugly but passing blame is up to the gods now. As for Captain Abbascia…he and I had our differences, but he was a good pilot, a good warrior, and he was owed a better death. I shall carry his name upon my heart, as I carry all the others, and try to right by his memory. Somehow."

"No… but the guilt weighs on my shoulders all the same," Damon says quietly. He sinks further into his seat with a deep sigh, his posture also slouched and his shoulders hunched in. "Nikolai was a good kid. He wasn't cut out for the Navy and he wasn't much of a deckhand, but he had a good heart. I keep thinking, if I'd said a kind word to him after Petra chewed him out, if I'd given him a break after I brigged him for AWOL, maybe this all wouldn't have ended this way. But that kind of what-if thinking just leads down dark paths. Pulls you into a spiral of despair."

"Perhaps." Cidra's not about to claim otherwise. "Those who claim they have no regrets and no mistakes are liars. But there is no changing it now. Honors to his service, however he ended it, and I pray the gods are merciful upon him." It's said kindly, in her fashion. "What is the status of the launch tube? And Captain Abbascia's Viper? Is any of it salvageable?"

"We've managed to salvage most of the jamming array, ECM pod, and main thrusters intact," Damon answers. "Other than that, I'm afraid it's scrap metal and spare parts. As for the launch tube…" He rummages through the papers and comes up with a report. "It's taken some serious damage. The service hatch seal has to be repaired first before the tube can be serviced. At the current rate and priorities of work, we might be able to have it back to serviceable status in a few weeks. I'm sorry, Major, but that's the best I can do right now."

Cidra just nods short. "Do as you can. We will manage. We always manage, somehow." Said a little wryly. "Perhaps we can do something with the metal once Deck Eleven is back in full service and fabrication up and running again. But do as you can. We manage." She pauses a beat. Watching Damon across the desk. Her generally inscrutable expression not unsympathetic. "Was Nikolai your first? K-I-A, I do mean."

"No," Damon says, a resigned tone to his voice. "Not as such, but…" He seems to be in the grip of some internal dialogue, lost in his own mind for a moment. "It's just not the same. We lose people, I mean, it happens. Training accidents. EVAs gone wrong. Ship malfunctions. Friendly fire. And Cylons, of course, they're the big one now. Even still, this is just…" He shakes his head, looking down at his hands. "I don't know how to put it into words, but it's different. For me, anyway. But we'll manage. I'll manage."

"Since you became Chief of the Deck, I did mean. It changes things," Cidra says. She does not explain how. She does not seem to think she has to. "There is nothing to be said to make it better. When a pilot dies in battle, I can accept that on some level. They died for the mission. For the ship. An accident…those are also things one must accept, terrible as that is. But when Money Shot ended herself…it was like a knife through me. I felt I had failed her. I still feel that."

"Ah… then yes," Damon answers. "It does change things. I didn't think it would, but the mere act of removing the word 'Acting' from my job description changed everything." At the mention of Tisiphone's suicide, his expression falls even more than it already has. "Money Shot's death was - and still is - crushing. Not that I was very close with her, but she did work on the Deck for a time, and I always felt that she was a part of the heart of this ship, as it were. She stood out."

"I loved her," Cidra says simply. Not much more she can say than that, really. "Her death has been a blow to morale, no question, but I think things are improving. Be there for your people in these days. It will be hard for them. They will grieve, and they will be angry. Just try to guide them through it as best you can."

Damon nods sympathetically. There's nothing he can say, really, that will make any of this better. "Sir, can I ask you a question? A personal one, I guess?" He licks his lips nervously. "See, when I was working my way up through the ranks, I always thought, you know, the Chief knows everything. He knows how to deal with difficult people, tough situations, or seemingly unfixable problems. That's the vibe I got from Chief Atreus - if I can't figure it out, he knows. He knows. He's the Chief. Of course he knows." That's not a question, and he knows it - he's trying to figure out how to ask it. "I guess what I'm getting at is, do you sometimes feel like… like you're lost and confused just like the rest of everybody else? 'Cause that's how I'm feeling, and I kind of feel like a fraud wearing these Chief's pins when I can't figure things out for myself, much less for the entire Deck. Like a kid playing dress-up in grown-up clothes."

"And you have figured out now the truth is we are all terrified of failing our people, making it up as we go along and praying we are not horribly wrong?" is Cidra's response to that. It's said ruefully, but she clearly isn't joking. "It is all bullshit, really." The CAG rarely swears. Profanity wraps oddly in her Gemenese-accent tones. "Chief Atreus was a good man. I miss him very much. But he was not infallible. Just…remember your duty and try and do right by your people. Whatever else happens. If you do that you will right more often than not. Or at least not wrong in ways that are too hard upon them."

Damon looks taken aback at Cidra's swearing. He doesn't know her that well, but he's never known her to swear in any of their previous conversations. "Well, I always suspected," he says with a crooked grin, "but I guess all the Chiefs I had before made it look good." Looking across the desk to Cidra, he gives her a single nod. "I'll do my best, Major. And if I can fake it well, maybe better than my best. I keep asking myself, 'What would Atreus do?'. And I do try to ignore the voice that answers, 'Retire to Aerilon'."

"We do not all have the luxury of retiring," Cidra says. Allowing just a hint, perhaps, of disapproval there. "We owe them better than that. Carry on, Chief Damon. That is all we can do for them." With that, she departs his office.

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