PHD #149: Disgrace
Summary: Pallas rages at Cidra about the merging of the Black Knights and the Snow Petrels.
Date: 25 Jul 2041 AE
Related Logs: None.
Cidra Pallas 
CAG's Office - Deck 10 - Battlestar Cerberus
Post-Holocaust Day: #149
Though it's not much bigger than the average ship supply closet, the office of the commander of Cerberus' air group has as much luxury as one can hope for aboard a battlestar: a hatch that locks and a modicum of privacy. It is dominated by a blocky gray metal desk straight out of standard Navy supply. Behind it is the room's single indulgence, a high-backed rolling chair of almost comfortable-looking brown leather. That one, the CAG probably had to import herself. A few other chairs are shoved against the wall, able to be rolled over should visitors to the lair require one, though those are of the standard not-terribly-comfortable Navy offices variety. The aforementioned desk contains a computer that looks rarely touched and an ashtray of greenish glass that is obviously frequently used, as well as the standard office supplies. The surface is usually cluttered with files, squadron reports, flight schedules and other aerial bureaucratic sundry of the day. A metal carafe, filled with water or coffee or tea depending on the CAG's whim, is usually at hand on the desk's corner. The rest of the office is packed with filing cabinets and wall shelves, the latter of which hold various flight manuals and military and historical books. Any decorations on the walls are limited to professional awards and mementos from Major Hahn's past tours of service. It is largely devoid of the personal. Save for one item. Upon the shelf just behind and above her desk, serving as one side of a bookend to a collection of Raptor manuals, is a wooden statue of a small brown owl with very large eyes. One might get the feeling of those eyes following them when they're in the confined space.
Condition Level: 3 - All Clear

The hatch is slightly ajar at the moment. As it tends to be when Cidra is in residence. She sits at her desk, smoking, sipping at a tin cup of coffee, and reviewing some paperwork.

Lights, camera, action! Into the CAG's office bursts a wild-haired and crazy-eyed Pallas, a memorandum clutched in his hand. The thing's all but wadded up into a ball in his fist - and in fact, it looks like it's been scrunched up before and flattened out again. He slaps it down on Cidra's desk with a loud BANG!, shaking with barely restrained rage, and points to it with tightly pursed lips. "What. The frak. Is this?" he asks, trying to control his voice. It's the memo designating the Petrels as now being amalgamated into the Black Knights, signed by Cidra herself.

Up flick Cidra's cloudy blue eyes from her papers. To Pallas. Cigarette still poised between her fingertips. "Hello, Spiral." Said very mildly. The lack of anything resembling a salute or…anything remotely approaching military propriety does not seem to jar her. Eyes flick to the memo in his hands. Then back up to him. "It appears to be one of my standing orders. Was something unclear? I do think it fairly straightforward."

"Straightforward. Yes," Pallas responds, his words clipped. Snappish, almost. "Y'know, I'm trying to figure this out, I really am. I can't tell if you're doing this shit on purpose to undermine the Squadron's - the entire frakking Wing's - trust in one another. Putting Lucky in charge was one thing. She was still one of us. But you merge a combat squadron with a reservist show-troupe, and put that weekend warrior in charge as the Squadron Leader?" He can't help the sneer that comes to his face. "Seniority, like frak! He might technically be a Captain, and I'll salute him until my Gods-be-damned arms fall off, but this is a disgrace to the Black Knights." His left fist slams into the Squadron insignia on his right sleeve.

"I am doing this, Lieutenant Ellinon, for the same reason I do everything. Because it is ultimately to the betterment of the defense of this ship, this Wing and your squadron. And you are not one to talk about what disgraces the Black Knights, I do not think." It is only on that last that a sting comes into Cidra's tone. "The Reserves stopped existing except as a platitude the day the Cylons attack. They have done their bit without hesitation. We are all regulars now. And we could not sustain either squadron given the casualties we had suffered. Not just the Petrels." Though throwing four of them into a basestar thinned them rather dramatically. "But the Knights as well have seen their numbers dwindle to the point where it simply no longer makes good sense to pretend such distinctions matter. I deem Captain Sitka the best man to lead you. And you will follow him. Just as you have Captain Kefir Abbascia, and Captain Anton Laskaris, and Sophronia." Quite the turn-over in that Black Knights SL job, when she lists them all like that.

"No?" Pallas shoots back when she talks about disgrace. "Well I'll tell you this, Major - the reason that the Petrels and I are both disgraces to the Black Knights is for one simple reason. One common factor: choice. They didn't choose to be full-time fighters. They got stuck on this frakking ship fighting for their lives. Poor bastards, the whole lot of 'em. And me, well, I tried to get out of the service and got denied." His speech is animated, punctuated with wild hand gestures. "The Reserves may have stopped existing in the sense that they're not on-call loaners anymore, but the fact of the matter remains that they're not trained to the same standard, they don't have the same sense of commitment and duty, and they sure as frak don't have the experience and knowledge of regular duty officers. You know that. You know that!" A pause to regain his breath and let his words sink in. "This isn't just a frakking convenient decision of administration and organization. This goes to the core of what the Fleet is. This goes against everything, everything that tradition and decorum stands for! Throw unit pride, cohesion, and morale right out the Gods-be-damned airlock. The Black Knights are more than a frakking uniform, and they're sure as frak more than some frakking patch on a frakking flightsuit!"

"You want to talk to me about decorum, Spiral?" Cidra stands up as she says this. Cigarette deposited in her ashtray. Posture straightening out of its fluid slouch. She's a tall woman. Built light and not imposing in a physical sense, so it's not often apparent, but she does top him by a good inch. "You want to talk to me about what the Fleet is? I have given the past decade of my life to this Fleet and nothing but this Fleet. My duty has been all that I have had in my life. I had *nothing* else. So do *not* talk to me about what it means. And it is all I have left now, so you be damned certain I will do everything in my power to see that it still means *something*. You want to talk about who is fit for this? You think I am fit, Spiral? I am a bus driver who had never flown in an attack squadron before I took this post. Am I your ideal CAG? For *this*? Because if I am, you need to *seriously* reconsider your priorities. I am very poorly suited for this and so are you. You are *hardly* my ideal in a Viper stick. You are right, you should be gone. At your age, it is *unconscionable* of me to let you keep flying like this. But I am doing it, Lieutenant Pallas Ellinon, because I need you. And not just as a body in a cockpit. I need you because when you actually pull it together and forget to be an old, bitter ass for ten minutes, you actually *can* fly passing well and you actually give a damn, I think, about the people are you flying with. That is pretty much the best we can hope for right now. And Shiv does as well. He is *far* from my ideal, but at least he does that. And so I, Spiral. You and the rest of the Knights and the rest of the personnel in this Wing are about the only things left that matter to me at all. So tell me I am wrong. Call me a dumbass. It has earned better men than you a promotion, if you want to know the truth. But do not tell me I do not understand what it means. Because it is all i have got left and it *matters* to me. Whatever is left of it. It matters."

"Bullshit!" Pallas roars back, not even batting an eyelash. "You stand here and tell me it matters, but your actions and decisions contradict you at every frakking step of the way!" His visage twists into an ugly mess of accusing anger. "Major, I don't give a weasel's foreskin what your frakking credentials are. A Squadron Leader flies lead in combat with their Squadron. CAG's a staff position, administration and tactics. And when you put a civilian playing dress-up in a Squadron Leader position over pilots who have dedicated their lives to the Fleet, you better frakking believe that morale and discipline are going to be shat out faster than that yellow mold that the galley calls breakfast." There's sweat starting to bead on his brow. "You think I don't know what I am? Frakking eighteen years serving in this uniform and I'm still a Lieutenant. Because I don't give a frak what pins you're wearing, and I sure as frak don't lose sleep over what pins I'm wearing - bullshit is still bullshit. You want me to call you a dumbass, Toast?" He snatches the memorandum from her table and holds it taut between two hands. "This here! You signed it! This makes you a certified frakking dumbass, and you've signed to that effect."

"Well, maybe I am. But I am the dumbass that you have got, Spiral, and I have indeed signed to that effect. And I am doing what is best for this Wing, and your squadron, and yourself. You do not have to agree with it or like it. But you will live with it and you will do your duty. I am doing the best I can with the pieces I have got left and when manage to put it together, Spiral? Terribly suited for this as we all are? We actually fly passing well on our better days." Cidra pauses then, taking a breath. "Unless this little tantrum has anything more substantive to it, you are dismissed. I trust you and the Captain shall work it out like gentlemen. Or not. I do not care. Just do your duty."

When the CAG calls the exchange a 'little tantrum' and then dismisses him, a flash of something more than anger flares up in Pallas' icy eyes. His hands tighten into fists, still holding the memorandum. The paper tears in half, and his hands slowly and deliberately go down to his sides, each still holding on to its scrap. For a moment, he just stands there breathing - smoldering eyes staring off, not seeing Cidra or anything else before him. A moment, and it passes. Wordlessly, he lets the two pieces of the memo fall to the floor and just walks away.

Cidra stares at Pallas, blue eyes hard, as he smolders. The memo is ignored as it crumples to the floor. She just stands there, posture straight, hands clasped together in front of her. Watching him go.

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