PHD #008: Breaking News
Breaking News
Summary: Tillman sequesters Sawyer to drop a bomb. About the bombs.
Date: 06 Mar 2041 AE
Related Logs: Any regarding the Holocaust.
Tillman Sawyer 

Map Room

Tillman, absent from the hallways for the past few days, suddenly appears at the door of the newsroom in his blues. His face is set like stone. The man looks rested though the strain still shows behind those eyes. "Miss Averies. Come with me to the Map Room, please." One of those critical areas of the command deck that is pretty off-limits to the reporter. He leads her along without a single word or answered question if there might have been any. When he opens the hatch, he lets her go in first before sealing the lock behind them. An upturned hand is extended to the map table which has a full-size chart of the colonies on it. Tillman takes a place at the end of the table and lights a smoke before beginning. With the table bottom-lit and the lights turned low to aid with the table's illumination, the lighter provides an ancient flicker to the TACCO's face.

Sawyer steps into the map room with a cursory glance with a flick of her eyes, refraining from rubbernecking like a tourist. As the lock is engaged, she dares a glance over her shoulder from the man's hands then up to his face with a tick of her eyebrow being raised. She moves further into the area with the motion from Tillman, stepping up to the map plotter to peer at the image atop it. "So, what can I do for you Captain Tillman?" She asks, now that they are squirreled away in here.

Tillman takes a long drag of the cigarette and ashes it into a nearby tray. "Miss Averies, I need your help. And in the spirit of cooperation, I said I would come you if I ever had anything. Well.." He clicks his teeth and looks to the colonies. "Stories don't get any bigger than this." A clear of his throat and he nods to a waste can at the end of the table. "If you feel ill, feel free to use that. Or sit if you feel light headed." The man still won't look at her until the last. His vice drops: "Our Raptors have returned from reconning the colonies. Sawyer….I need to know the best way to break thirty billion deaths to this crew."

He certainly didn't try to gum that up with any preamble, did he? Throw up? No. But the color as well as anything resembling an expression drains from her face. For a split second, it looks like Sawyer might just pass out, her knees going week and her eyes going a bit blank, but she catches herself on the edge of the table instead of completely crumbling to the ground. She's covered some bad stories before, but Colonial wide genocide? By sheer force of will, the journalist remains upright though her bottom lip trembles and her voice quivers. "I think I'm going to need one of those cigarettes, Captain."

Tillman nods his head once, slowly, and slides the pack across the table to her. Likely this guy has already known for at minimum a few hours. Maybe even a day or so. Who knows? He looks fairly composed. "Take as many as you need. There's no easy way to break news like that, though, Sawyer. I'm sorry but that's just the way it is. I have information on each Colony, some which is mixed. But overall, we're looking at a total loss, ma'am." For once, with those last few words, his voice hits a tense moment and almost cracks. Tillman probably isn't handling this as well as he looks to be outwardly.

Sawyer reaches for the pack of cigarettes with a shaky hand, as if she's loathe to give up her grip on the table. She picks the package up and up-ends it, spilling out white cylinders that roll over the Zodia Asteroid Belt and tumble across Sagittaron, Scorpia and Tauron like a child's game of Pick Up Sticks. Pawing almost blindly at the grouping, her fingers miraculously close around one and she retreats with that and the lighter to the perimeter of the room. She can't stomach the sight of that map anymore. With back to bulkhead, she slides down until her ass unceremoniously meets deck and tears spring to her eyes to run the rim and spill out the corners silently. "All of it. Gone." She mutters, before tucking the cigarette between her lips and somehow managing to flick the flint wheel of the lighter and bring about a flame. It takes her two or three tries, but she finally lights her cigarette and her eyes slide shut. He's calling her Sawyer. This is real. "Okay." She says when smoke is expelled with a bit of a cough. Okay, he can go on. Okay, she understands.

Whatever he was expecting, he tries not to judge her reaction. When she dumps out the cigarettes, he gently cows them towards the edge and off the map while Sawyer makes her way to the floor. As she lights the smoke, he stoops and squats in front of her, his own smoke trailing grey as he moves. "Take a minute. Get composed. Already had a good go of it, myself, before I came to find you. I don't think there's a single one of this crew who won't." He's serious but his voice is quiet and light. Sympathetic.

Sawyer touches the knuckle of her thumb to her eye, blotting away tears that keep wanting to flow. Putting on a brave face is a little harder then it should be for the reporter, but hearing that everything you knew and loved is now ash is a lot to process. The filter touches back to her lips, and she's having a hard time meeting Tillman's eyes. Cheeks hollow out a bit as she takes a deep drag, lips canting towards the ceiling so she doesn't exhale in his face. "You need to gather them all up. Tell as many as you can at once. This isn't news that should filter through gossip mongers like me, Captain. You need to rip the bandage off quickly and let them mourn collectively." Her voice is raw, as it gets scraped up by emotion as it crawls up her throat.

Tillman looks her over as his gaze drops to the floor. His cigarette hangs ignored between two fingers behind him. "Sawyer, if I thought you were a gossip I would have never bothered to find you." He finally looks back to the young woman. "I need someone who knows how to deal with vast chunks of information and deal it down. Not everyone is going to be able to hide behind their bearing. I'm a bit of a loss. I'm sorry to have to deliver it like that." His own massive family, gone. Home. Or likely. "There's a variety of information. Some really bad. Some - less bad." But still bad. Tillman's not exactly one for words.

Sawyer rolls her weight, shifting it to one hip as she digs in the back pocket of her trousers and pulls out a pad of paper and a little stub of a pencil. Leaving the cigarette to dangle between her lips, she nudges the pencil out of the coils of the spiral and flips open the cover. "Alright. Let's go over it." Sawyer probably smoked previously in her life, the cigarette left to waggle precariously between her lips as she talks around it. Tracks of tears line her face, ash is now dusting the downy white of her blouse, but there are more important things to think of now.

The Captain watches her roll and lets off a long breath. "I'm going to stand, Sawyer. Sit if you need to." Its not a mean or distressing comment. Just a nod to her staying on the floor if she likes. He rises and takes a few steps back towards the table. "Alright. You want the worst cases first? Or last? Or should we just start with where you're from?" Its a genuine question for her, the man keeping his bearing again with a hard swallow and held breath. He probably doesn't want to think about those worst cases any more than she does.

Sawyer has no intention of getting to her feet, perhaps not trusting herself to stay on them long. Her willowy legs tent at the knees, propped up higher in heels and she uses her thighs as a convenient writing desk. She's not really herself, but who would so soon after hearing the most devastating news of your life. News that it's now Sawyer's duty to record for what's left of humanity. "Virgon last." Presumably her home world. "Whatever order you like, but maybe we should work up to the worst of it. By then, maybe I'll be numb enough to stomach it, hmm?"

Tillman dips his head, but he doesn't look to her. He sticks the smoke between his lips and speaks around it, leaning forward to plant his palms on the edge of the table. "Alright. The lightest hit. Aerilon has among the lowest population density. All the major cities were nuked. A few other similar-sized strikes throughout the planet. Radiation levels are bad but there could still be people living down there. Maybe a scattered few." He takes a drag and ashes the smoke into the tray. "Gemenon." Tillman pauses, taking a moment to steady his mind. "Same story with the cities. Those out in the countryside might have gotten away from the initial hits and still be alive, but radiation levels are rising. They, uh..The Cylons I mean. They went out of their way. Every religious major site on the planet that we could get radiation scans of took a nuclear weapon. Some took two. I would suspect that they at minimum shelled the smaller ones." He's closed his eyes, letting the words just fall out. At least he won't have to face Greje when she finds out. "Lastly, Saggitaron. The northern continent took a blaze of strikes and most of it burned heavily. The major cities on the southern continent all got hit. Outside of those, the outlying areas are fairly intact but with all the hits up north?" Tillman shakes his head. "Its only a matter of time."

Sawyer dutifully makes notations on her paper as her cigarette burns slowly until she tokes and then the cherry burns bright red. She's using that odd notation that is a cross between a Doctor's handwriting and a fevered spasm of her hand, focusing on this task instead of the implication of the word. "Nuclear strikes on every planet, then?" She can't help but ask questions, to round out the story she's forming in shorthand. "Are then any Colonial wireless signals? Any indication of survivors? Are the hostiles still in the vicinity of the Colonies?"

"Every colony got nuked. Some extensively." Tillman looks away and towards the other end of the room for a second as his head begins to hang. "No signals. No contact. No positive confirmation of any survivors. Anywhere." Not easy to think about but the TACCO's head comes back to the map. "There are cylon ships at every single Colony except Aquaria. Even if we could confirm survivors, we'd have no way to get to them right now." Another unsteady drag of his smoke. "Caprica." He tilts his head forward a bit. "Major cities were not nuked. Caprica City, Delphi. Both are still standing. For now. But we don't know whether or not they were shelled or what's happened to the residents. Next, Canceron. All the cities are just gone and wiped. However the cylons have taken an interest in it. They've packed on the fleet defenses there. No idea why." He takes another drag, blowing smoke at the map. "Libran? Same story as Sag. But their forests have turned into firestorms that are sweeping certain parts of the planet." He steadies himself, knuckles turning white for the next part. "Scorpia." The way he says it, it has to be home for him. "Its frakked. Parts of the fleet that couldn't get out of the Scorpian Yards are disintegrating and deorbiting. Every major city. Even parts of the jungles. Gone." Its a quiet moment before he hits the last point. "Tauron. The industrial capability is gone. The whole place got hit pretty hard. But the cylons have taken up an interest there as well." The way he says it, not a clue as to why. Why for any of it.

Sawyer holds up her free hand, doing a tally of the Colonies they've covered. "And we got a first hand idea of Picon - though have we been back to survey? Which leaves Virgon and…frak me." The normally tepid woman seems suddenly crass as she pulls the cigarette from her lips and merely ashes it right there on the floor. Later, some crewman will mutter as he cleans up, but that seems inconsequential now. "Which one am I forgetting?" Her forehead wrinkles as she searches a brain that's clearly not working on all cylinders. Eyes search out where Tillman is in the room, looking to him as if she expects to be thrown a life line.

He nods. "Leonis, Picon, Virgon, and Aquaria." Tillman takes a breath. "They're among the hardest hit." He wets his lips and takes a long drag, ashing the smoke again. The silence hangs for a moment, almost an oppressive feeling coming with it. "Leonis. The whole planet looks like it was nuked pretty extensively. The atmosphere is a mess. There's an incredibly heavy cylon presence there, though. But that's more a military concern." He's trying to keep his bearing, jaw setting and loosening between sentences. "Picon, as we saw and you mentioned, was gridded out almost methodically with high-yield nuclear weapons. Its really bad. There's a heavy enemy presence there, too, but the colony looks like it could be a total loss. Almost no chance for survivors. The Raptor crew reported that the remains of about a quarter of our fleet is still hanging in orbit near what was the Picon Station Fleet Anchorage."

Sawyer's cigarette has almost burnt down to the filter, and now she just stares at it as if unable to remember what you do with the things when it gets to this state. "Which leaves Virgon and Aquaria. It's alright, Captain, I'm ready for the news." The reporter murmurs, her voice would be lost if there were others in the room, but even that little voice seems to echo in the Map room.

He finally looks back to Sawyer, then. The man holds her eyes for a moment before having to look away. "Virgon is gone. I have a few photos if you want to see them - one's that were taken during our initial recon back there when we discovered the remains of the fleet. Its bad. We're going to try a detailed recon of it in the next few days but it doesn't look good. We'll be heading back to looks over the wreckage for survivors but.." Again, his voice fades out. Hope is in short supply tonight. Then there's only one left. "Aquaria." He stares at the map table, almost looking lost. "Its ruined. Maybe for thousands of years. They hit every piece of real estate with nuclear weapons and we suspect they even detonated quite a few high-yield weapons in the oceans. The whole ecosystem is just destroyed. Its gone. The whole colony is..we couldn't even put Raptors on the surface if we wanted to. No chance for survivors." His voice quiets to nearly a whisper, those last words hanging in the silence. He stares at the map. The oceans that helped feed eleven other colonies were boiled by nuclear weapons, taking with some of the water the fish and sea life.

Sawyer presses her lips together until they're thinned out in two white lines. This is what biting back a cry of pain looks like. Her eyes round out, wide and blank, and then she's blinking back the shock that she thought she had braced herself for. Aquaria. How will she tell Santiago? Virgon. Home. But not anymore. This metal husk is now home, and perhaps the only one they'll ever know again. "I would. The pictures. I'd like to see them." She gropes up behind her until her palm presses into the bulkhead and she's able to get to her feet. Wobbling for a moment on her heels, Sawyer then plods over to the table without a lick of grace in her frame, stubbing out her cigarette with quick little jabs.

Tillman watches her on the approach, almost seeming nervous about looking at her for too long, though. He doesn't say anything, either. There's just a curt, jerky nod with her request. A hand moves to a shelf built into the table and produces a dark brown folder. "I didn't show you these. Nobody did. They don't exist, yet. Not until you personally clear it with me." While Tillman might normally huff out a statement like that, this one is said quietly. The folder is slowly opened, a small stack of photos turned upside down. Maybe four or five. There's a hesitation before the first one is taken between two fingers and turned.

Virgon used to be green and lush. The green of its forests clashing coldly with the blue of its oceans. In these photos, neither are visible. There's a disgusting green/brown/black haze over nearly the whole planet except for the poles. There's the wreckage of a ship in the foreground but its blurry and hard to make out. Its evident that the colony took a horrible beating. "You may turn the rest as you're ready. I won't make you look, Sawyer." The TACCO doesn't look. He's already seen them.

Sawyer slides the folder closer to her so she can poise herself over it. She props an arm to each side and tents herself over the image, hanging her head over the indistinguishable mass. There's the sound of a drop of water hitting the page, moisture from her eyes beading on the paper before she swipes it away a pass of her fingers. There's a sniffle, a clearing of her throat, and then after a long moment she's flipping to the next image. "What is the official position of Command?" She asks, trying to occupy her mind even as her vision is full of horrific images.

"Our official position is about to be announced. I'm going to be addressing the crew in a few minutes." The man almost looks and sounds sick for him to say it. Worst task, ever. "But we are going to hit back. We aren't going to roll over and die out here, waiting for our food supplies to wither." He still doesn't want to look at her. "But Sawyer?" Now he does. "We'll need someone to document this. To write humanity's official history of it. I know you aren't a historian but..I'm no good with writing and documenting. Think you can handle that? After we make our official statement you can write and release what you've heard here if you think you're up for the task?"

Sawyer gives a numb little nod. "I assume that's why you brought me here. I can try and do my best. Historical recounts are usually lacking in an emotional viewpoint, and that will be a difficult in this case both from a personal and professional stand point. I, um…" She clears her throat, finding it very dry as she looks at the photos, staring at this one a moment before flipping to the next. "…had talked to another QUODEL member. The thought was to start an in-ship newspaper during the duration of our stay. In return for this documentation, I'd like you to get command to green light that project."

"With the losses of our homes, being unemotional isn't possible, Sawyer. Its fine. Talk to people. Write like a member of the human race and it'll be alright. After this, be as middle-of-the-road as possible. If you find yourself on the wrong side of the Navy about something and its creating a divide, let me know. We don't have to make anything official, just shoot me a note or catch me. We're going to be on this ship for awhile and I figure our best bet is to keep the lines of communication open - even unofficially." Tillman keeps his voice low and quiet, not trying to force anything. "But I will talk to command about it. I can't make any promises, though."

Sawyer pushes her hands through her hair, smoothing it back from her face. Eye makeup has started to smudge, but that's the least of her worries at the moment. "I need this. Make sure they understand that." There's another sniffle and she's reaching for a secondary cigarette to where they've been shuffled off. The folder is flicked shut, closing off those images to view. "You said you're going to make the announcement this evening? Are you going to assemble the crew or just announce it over the intercoms? Please don't be as impersonal."

Tillman's own throat is dry. He doesn't even like thinking about having to tell people. "I will tell Sarkis and Abbot about it. I'll even argue the case if there's a denial. But if they stand firm, there's nothing I can do." Just prepare her for the worst case scenario. Twice. To the last he almost looks ill. "To be honest, the intercom is the only way to address the whole crew. Pulling everyone down to a hangar deck isn't feasible and I don't want anyone to be forced to miss this. Being told second-hand would be hell. But I'm open to ideas." Yep, he doesn't look well.

Sawyer folds her arms over her chest, an unlit cigarette still resting in the crook of her fingers. "Assemble non essential personnel and broadcast at the same time? I don't know. I just know that this news will be easier to hear when looking into the face of someone they trust rather then a speaker." A pause. A swallow. "Now will you light my cigarette, Captain? I'm not sure my fingers will function."

Tillman blinks and looks to the cigarette as he fishes in his pocket for the Zippo. He opens it slowly and works the wheel with practiced hands. There's no clap to shut it or quick hand maneuvers. Just the solemn click as it shuts. "Unfair. I can't do that to certain people who are at essential stations." He takes a breath and looks to her. "And to be honest, I'm not sure how I'm going to pull this off. I don't know if I'll hack through it and if I can't the last thing they need to see is the senior watch officer losing it."

Sawyer's hand is still shaking just a hint as she holds her second cigarette in three times as many months to her lips before she leans over the flame. She's going to be coughing up a lung tomorrow, but right now, she doesn't seem to care. "Then do what you have to do, Captain. I sure as Hades couldn't stand up in front of all those people and tell them there is nothing to go home to. But I would have stood next to you." She cycles the smoke into her lungs, this time the exhale coming through her nose. "I'll probably have a million more questions when I've had time to process all this. I assume you'll be available to your new Historian?"

Tillman still looks pretty nervous, but he manages a ghost of a smile for Sawyer. "Thanks. I would probably need the back-up. I wasn't this nervous before I proposed t'my wife." He tries to swallow but there's nothing there. So he takes a breath and looks back to the map table. "Of course. I won't stick this on anyone else. Feel free to shoot me questions when I'm off-duty. And, as long as we're alone, you can call me Clive. But I think now, I need to make this call. You going to be okay?" He looks back to her. There's some marked concern in his voice.

Sawyer hoists her cigarette up in a mock salute. "End of the world is a perfect time to start an addiction, wouldn't you say?" She asks with a ghost of a smile that doesn't come any where near to reaching her eyes. Those smiles are going to be hard to find ever again. Her notepad is slipped back into her pocket, a heavy weight no doubt. As she's about to leave, she changes her mind and steps around the table, giving the man a quick and awkward embrace. "Thank you, Clive. For not making me look at a speaker."

"Take the pack. I brought a case." Tillman's offer is as easy as he can make it. And the surprise catches him off guard, but he returns it. The man is tense as hell, but he gets some warmth to it. "I'm sorry I had to deliver it, Sawyer. Be safe and I'm sure I'll see you again soon." He steps away and looks to the exit with a heaved breath. "Wish me luck." Tillman closes his eyes and heads for CIC across the hall.

The intercom horn sounds and crackles to static before Tillman's voice comes over it. "Ladies and Gentlemen. Officers and Enlisted. Civilians berthed on this ship. Stop what you're doing and take a moment. This is Captain Tillman, ship's Tactical Officer. Tonight I'm addressing you to bear some news." There's a short pause. "We all know what happened at Picon. Some have heard rumors about Virgon being hit as well. We've tried to re-establish radio contact with all of our standard protocols to anyone. Nothing worked. With the help of some diligent work by the Deck and Wing, our Raptors were fixed and today the last of them returned home from their recons. What they found is what many of us feared.

"Our Colonies. Our families. Our homes. They're gone. Picon was not the only target, though it was more heavily hit than most. All twelve received strategic high-yield nuclear strikes. The devastation is unevenly drawn across all the colonies but none escaped with.." He pauses, clearing his throat. A forced breath before the man continues. "-None escaped with what anyone would call 'minimal damage'. Not even the fleet. Our most accurate estimates by intelligence and analysis indicate that most of the Colonial Navy has met similar ends. Tomorrow we begin our new tasking, starting with the wreckage our brothers and sisters left behind in space.

"Tomorrow we are jumping out of our relatively secure position here in Uram. We leave the security provided by the dying star nearby to visit the graveyard of our comrades. This graveyard is in the orbit of Virgon and should provide us the cover to stay hidden from the enemy patrols for a short time." A pause. Tillman keeps his voice slow but there's a building anger to it. "Tomorrow we will begin a search for any survivors near Virgon as doing so on the colonies is currently impossible. We will begin to pick up the pieces. We will gather our resources. We will figure out how to exploit what we have and what they don't. We will begin to take the fight to them. The Cylons think they can steamroll our race into a genocide. We are going to make them regret ever thinking they could. Tomorrow, we begin prep for offensive operations. We are going to have the honor of fighting for our families, friends, and our race. Trust your shipmates. Follow your training and listen to your senior officers and enlisted. We have some tough road ahead but we can and will attempt vengeance for what they have done. The memories of our fallen demand it. So say we all.”

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