PHD #336: Birdie and Poppy
PHD #336: Birdie and Poppy
Summary: Birdie and Poppy meet up in the sims with the intent on doing joint training. Egos get in the way.
Date: 28 Jan 2042 AE
Related Logs: None
Finch Khloe 
Flight Simulation - Deck 11 - Battlestar Cerberus
A training room specifically dedicated to honing aerial skills, this area is equipped with several flight simulator pods that allow the pilots to practice maneuvers and tactics without being in a real live plane. The Viper-pods are installed on one side of the room with a little space between them, an attempt to provide a realistic feel for close-range wing training, while a smaller number of Raptor sim-pods are installed on the opposite side of the room from the Vipers. A central computer terminal and overhead display screen sits at the head of the room, where one can input exercises and data to be run in the sims, scroll through score records, and control the training modules.
Post-Holocaust Day: #336

It's her turn. Khloe has been dreading this mixing of pilots ever since Toast brought it up. However, Poppy is not one to question her superior officer, at least in public; 'must toe the party line' and all that. So in walks Captain Vakos, on time, dressed in her flight suit sans helmet - after all, if she's going to make her pilots sim while suited, she's sure as heck going to do it too. What's good for the goose, etc.

Dirk Finch doesn't walk. Dirk Finch swaggers — and even the orange-clad deckhands who see him walk past can't help but comment on how right he looks in a flight suit after he's safely out of earshot. His goatee is freshly plucked; his sideburns are freshly shaved; his hair is freshly gelled. He even smells like aftershave, as Khloe will undoubtedly notice when he steps — nay, arrives — in the battlestar's simulation room. "Morning, Pops," he calls briskly, striding over with hand extended. "Glad you could make it. Sorry I'm a bit late. There was a little incident with a Raptor on deck this morning. You know how it goes."

Nostrils flaring first, Khloe can smell Birdie coming before he actually announces his presence. Frowning as she is want to do, she turns to regard the superior officer. "Yes, sir," she says without inflection, although she lifts her chin slightly defiantly. "And, if you don't mind sir, the callsign is Poppy. Shall we get started? Major's perogative on the sim choice."

"Didn't know poppies came with pricks. Good on you for biting back." Birdie's grin is wide and genuine as he puts his hand back inside his flight suit to produce a — cigarette? "Smoke?" he offers, making no move to climb into the cockpit of his simulated bird. "Can't go out there without one," the man explains. "Call it stupid, call it supersition. Whatever. Never had the balls to do anything different."

"No thanks, sir. I don't smoke," Khloe white lies. Well, it's only a white lie. She's only smoked one cigarette since being aboard the Cerberus, and it was one of Cidra's death-brand menthols. Poppy chooses another sim pod that's laterally across from Birdie's, so that they can maintain eye contact. "And if I may make the observation, sir, I'm harsh with my squadron, and never my superior officers. Privilege of rank. No offense meant." Her words are more clipped than usual, perhaps an indicator of her displeasure with this exercise without vocalizing it.

"None taken." The man's mountainous shoulders roll up and down as he limbers himself up; then, making a lighter appear as if out of nowhere, he flicks it on with practiced ease. The sharp and acrid scent of burning tobacco mixes with 'ocean breeze' or whatever scent he's decided to wear. "I meant what I said back at your CAG's little meet-and-greet, you know," he observes, taking a long drag. She probably still remembers his words: You Regulars have surprised me in places. The tip of his cigarette flares orange and black in the room. "They might not be the most gifted sticks, but frak it all if they don't work twice as hard as some of mine. Like Fiasco." His exasperated snort of amusement is accompanied by a swirl of smoke. "Ninety-nine percent perspiration one percent inspiration and all that bullshit."

Khloe's jaw briefly flexes as she takes the backhanded compliment, again, in stride. She flips a few switches and checks her simulated screens. "I show green on pre-flight, Birdie. Ready to launch when you are."

Birdie's chuckle is the color of dark chocolate. To folks who don't have synaethesia, it sounds a lot like gravel being crunched underfoot. "I'm not even a quarter the way through," he observes as lightly as he can manage. He leans against the simulator and folds his arms across his chest, letting the cigarette dangle from his mouth as he watches Khloe do her thing. "What's the hurry? Raiders'll still be there in five." Because superstitions, stupid as they might be, weren't made to be broken.

"Because, sir, we simulate not only Viper combat but hurried pre-flight and all the checks necessary to hasten an alert Vipers launch," Khloe explains, half-turning in her seat to look Finch in the eyes. "Cerberus does not have the benefit of bleeding-edge technology to fry Cylon circuitry. So, because of that, we need to be quick with our preflights and get out into space as quickly as possible. As you say, sir, we work twice as hard, because we have to." She's allowing a hint of an edge to her voice, now, or perhaps it's just seeping out. But it's clear she resents everything Birdie represents.

He can't say he didn't ask for it. Even then, Major Finch looks just a little nonplussed at the venom in her words, a puzzled but rakish half-smile appearing on his expression as he puffs away. "We-e-e-ll," he drawls when she's done, bristling eyebrows raised. "What do you think we do on our magic escort carrier when Rudy gets on com with those panties of his all tight, going all 'Lords of Kobol, get the alert Vipers out there or by my ex-wife's shriveled tits I'll wring all of your necks and pay you a metric shitton of alimony?'" His smile twists in rueful amusement. "I guarantee you, Poppy, we don't walk."

"Then, sir, may I make the humble observation that you are taking your sweet time," Khloe states, again flatly. "And lighting a flammable substance in a highly-oxygenated environment like a Viper cockpit is extremely dangerous and against two regulations I can think of off-hand, more if I researched it. Sir. Preflight check?"

Can't wriggle out of this conversation so easily, Khloe. Still Finch puffs on that cancer stick, and still Finch smiles that crooked smile. "You're jealous," is all he says.

"Jealous?" The woman repeats, mouth briefly agape, an incredulous look on her face. "And what the frak would I be jealous about?" Formality is gone, since it seems Birdie is barking up the 'speaking freely' tree already, and Khloe's not about to ask for permission if he's talking trash.

"You don't want to work twice as hard," says Finch, his gaunt cheeks hollowing as he takes another pull. "You like the idea of being as comfortable in that there bird as a fish in water. To get shot out into the black and know that, because you're sitting in something that's just better than the chrome shit the Cylons love throwing at us, you're going to come home to your boys, throw back a few beers, and do the same damn thing the next day." The man shrugs again. "All the kills, none of the effort."

Khloe tugs at the reinforced collar of her flight suit, as if the rubberized polymer suit were suddenly too far constraining. Or perhaps it's to help facilitate cracking her neck. "If there comes a day where I can't work as damn well hard as I want to in this Navy, then I'm either dead, or the Gods have come back to us and made this life a paradise. The prior is more likely than the latter. So don't you frakking judge me or this boat. I work hard, as does my squadron. And I'm damn proud of the effort they put forward, even if I don't show it. I can't."

Finch doesn't chuckle. To his credit, he even manages to dampen that smile. "I don't," he says with just a touch of wryness, "think I'm the one doing the judging. But that's neither here nor there." And with that he crushes the cigarette between his thumb and forefinger, returning it to his pocket after taking one last wistful drag. "Let me tell you a little something," he offers conversationally, walking toward the woman's cockpit with heavy but even steps. "Ever wonder where the rest of my squadron is? Ever wonder where the rest of the Evocati wound up?" His heavy fingers tap out a melancholy rhythm on the side of her mock canopy. "They all had the same as me," Birdie continues. "They were the best pilots in the Colonies. All of them could have led a section with the Regulars if they wanted to. A lot of them did, before black ops sucked them in. Custom spaceframes, custom avionics, Rudy's monster Gun — " His growling voice is rougher than usual as he forces himself to pause. "Or did you never bother to ask?"

Khloe's face screws up into a confused frown. "What the Hells are you going on about, Major?" Comes her pointed, stabbing question. "I'm a frank, simple person. I come from a miner's background. I ain't black ops and I wasn't leadership until Toast promoted me out of need. So if you could, use small words, if you wouldn't mind, sir."

"The point, Poppy, is this." Birdie's a very obliging man. As he leans in, his stocky body casting a very large shadow over the woman in the cockpit, she'll definitely get another whiff of that unique perfume of sweat, smoke, and sea-breeze that seems to accompany him wherever he goes. And then, grinding out the words: "Evocati bleed. Believe it or not, we even die. So get off your high frakking horse and stow that bullshit about how all that hard work and effort makes you just as good than the black ops folk you so clearly despise. Because you're not." Finch stands up, pushing himself back to his full height. "You're here," he says after a moment. "And the rest of my squadron — with their custom birds and all that talent — is not. Which means, Poppy, you're better. Good day, Captain." And with that he's making for the hatch, boots clomping loudly against the deck.

"Hold on," says Poppy, clambering out of her sim pod. Leaving simulated engines hot, tsk. "You're the one who brought up how we 'Regulars' work twice as hard because we're only 'Regulars', so don't try and pin this bullshit on me. And the only thing I despise, Major, is the egotistical nonsense that seems par for the course for your precious Evocati. You want to make a point, then stomp off in a huff? That's fine. But don't put this bullshit on me and then run away, you frakking coward." She's just shy of reaching out to grab Birdie by the shoulder to spin him around, but she thinks better of it, instead coming to a halt at arm's length. She's quite upset with him.

When Birdie turns around with awkwardness born from his size, that infuriating grin is back on his face. "Thanks for conceding I had a point." And after brushing a bit of gelled hair from his eyes he pushes open the hatch, striding off with his trademark swagger. This time, he won't let her catch up.

Watching Birdie go, Poppy is left standing there, glaring angrily at his wake. "Frakking prick," she grumbles, then turns to switch off the equipment.

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