PHD #353: Do You Understand?
Do You Understand?
Summary: Devlin is not totally sure Cidra understood his point, and he is absolutely sure he did not fully understand hers.
Date: 14 Feb 2042 AE
Related Logs: Swarms
Cidra Devlin 
Pilot Berths
Bunks and pilots, oh my.
Post-Holocaust Day: #353

Devlin is seated on the bottom bunk of the pair the Devlins share, the one that is technically Psyche's, but which they mostly use for storage and entertaing. Okay, mostly just storage. He sits there now with his back against the wall and legs stretched out bare feet dangling out into the aisle as he watches something on his laptop, head tilting occasionally as he does.

Cidra is lying in her bunk. She was bunking in the Ark, as it's come to be common called, but after her injury during the last swarm attack (and Engineering's efforts to clear the Ark properly), she spent the previous evening and this one in her actual bunk. She's in there now with a cup of tea and a cigarette, taking as much relaxation as one can at the present time.

Devlin has been watching whatever he is watching for quite a while now, but eventually he gets up, and sets the computer aside, and pads over towards Cidra's bunk. He's in sweatpants and a t-shirt, neither of them navy-issue, by the looks of it, but hey, his flight suit and boots are laid out and hung on the ladder of his bunk for the quickest possible access in the alarms go off. Anyway, when he reaches Cidra's bunk, he raps his knuckles on the frame, asking, "Toast? Have you got a minute to help me with something, maybe? It's not urgent, if you don't."

Cidra is in her off-duty fatigues, for her part. Goddess tattoos on display on her bare arms. The right forearm of which is still bandaged though, given the way she occasionally idly pokes at it, it's more an annoyance than a source of real discomfort. "Decoy." With a soft "Mmph" she pushes herself into a more proper sitting position, ashing her cig in the tray that is, always, omnipresent in her bunk. "What is upon your mind?"

Devlin's tatau extends past his sleeve, 3/4 of the way down his left arm, roughly, and he rubs at the left side of his chest absently as he leans against her ladder. "I've been going over my gun camera footage from the last few days, and there are a couple bits where I'm missing my target and… I'm not really sure what I'm doing wrong," he admits, "I was wondering if maybe you could take a look? And how's the arm?" he adds, nodding with his chin at the bandaged one.

"Only a flesh wound," Cidra says, a bit rueful, though in this case it seems actually true. "Medical was able to treat it on the Deck and did not seem concerned beyond that. I am cleared to fly. It itches a bit." She hefts herself into a sitting position, taking a sip of her tea with her right hand. Cigarette still held over the ashtray with her left. Double-fisting, in her way. "Quite honestly, Ensign, you are holding up out on the field much better than I had expected you would. But attention to such things is prudent. I can if you like. Though Poppy or Drips might be the better to go over it with you, in terms of Viper tactics. My experience in the little birds is…limited."

"That's good," Alex nods, "That it's minor, I mean. Not that it itches," he adds with a smile. "When stuff's at that stage of healing with it just itches all the time and you can't scratch it at all… I hate that." He shakes his head, and then smiles crookedly at the sort-of praise, shrugging, "Thanks. I'm trying. Getting pretty lucky, I think. Could you?" He smiles, "Thanks. Drips is so busy helping down the deck and everything, and… well. I'm not really comfortable asking Poppy, to be honest. Let me grab my computer and I can show you." He returns a second later with his laptop and asks, gesturing at the bunk beside her, "Is it ok if I sit?"

Cidra folds her feet up under her so she's sitting cross-legged. And taking up less space. The CAG is a lanky thing. She puts her cigarette out, though she continues to nurse her tea. Idly plucking her prayer beads in hand once she's got a moderately free one. The things are never far from her. "Certainly." Though there is a hint of disapproval in her tone. "Why are you uncomfortable going to Poppy for such things?"

Devlin is a lanky thing as well. Or, well, tall, at least. 'Lanky' might not be quite the right adjective. He folds his frame into her bunk when she gives permission, folding his legs up to sit cross-legged beside her. He has the footage cued up and he passes it over, explaining, "There're two misses in a row here, and then I nail one, and then miss the next. I can't see what I'm doing different." As for Poppy, he shrugs a little, and after a brief hesitation replies, "I mean… I feel like her answer for everything is that I'm married and not dedicated enough and I don't understand about duty. And I'm sick of hearing that. It's easier just to avoid her. I know that's not… you know. It's kind of lame. I shouldn't. But. Yeah. That's why."

"It is 'lame' indeed, and highly improper, Ensign, and we shall address that in a moment," Cidra says in that implacable way of hers. Her attention actually is on his footage. "First off, you are not going to hit a bandit on every pass. Not every competent pilot is an ace, nor do they need to be. Most important thing particularly for one such as yourself is listening sharp to and supporting your section lead. This does not always mean landing hits. It can simply mean putting enough heat on your enemy that you keep him off his own target, or shake him from your wing's tail, or open him up so a stronger jock can make a kill."

Devlin frowns faintly but nods, and then looks back to the footage, watching as he listens. "I know I'm not going to hit them every time," he admits, "And I do. I think I do, anyway. Always follow my section lead, and not just look for kills, I mean. I don't keep track, or anything like that." He scratches a hand through his hair, raking at it and then pointing, "But like, here," he says, "Here I'm supposed to be hitting that one, and I'm way off. I tried the same move in the sims earlier and made the shot, I can't figure out what's wrong here."

"I do not keep track, either," Cidra says, tone ever so faintly dry. "I do not mind the pilots keeping their personal tallies, of course, but it leads to a mindset I do not think entirely constructive. We are a unit, we support each other, not engage in one-ups-manship." A shrug. "Comes from flying a Raptor my career, perhaps. Missile kills are quite impressive when they occur, but they do not tally so high." She sets her tea cup aside. It's drained by now anyhow. Fingering her beads and watching the screen. "A thousand little things can go wrong. Enemy turns a hair quicker than you anticipate - or a hair slower - you shift your arc to clear space for a friendly, dodge incoming fire. Or just slip. Never underestimate nerves, Ensign. In the sims, you are entirely in control. Out there, you cede that. Not just to the enemy, but to your wingmates as well, and to your aircraft. It is an exercise in faith, combat flight."

Devlin nods, agreeing, "It just doesn't seem like the important thing," he shrugs, "I don't really care how many I kill, I just want the number of wingmates and squadmates I let get killed stay at zero." He glances at the beads and then back at the screen, glancing up to watch Cidra as she speaks, nodding a little. "So… basically it's not something in particular, it's just I need to get better," he summarizes, and then shrugs a little more, nodding, "Okay. I guess that's not really surprising."

"There is nothing one can tell from one missed shot, Decoy, other than that it did not land where you willed it to," Cidra says. "Do you find yourself missing in this way consistently? Is your aim better or worse when targeting port, or starboard, or fore or aft, or certain areas of an enemy target? Do you pursue, aim and target tactically or do you get a bead on a target and spray with as much fire as possible? There are no right or wrong answers, but the question of *why* we fly the way we do boils down to habits that we develop over time and over training."

"Yeah, I know," Devlin admits of the first, "I just don't have each miss cued up, and I don't want to make you watch all of it, you know? There's so much lately." He scrubs at his forehead, tugging on his hair again and replying, "It seems like I usually do better if I aim for the cockpit? I mean, I guess just because it's in the middle, so if I miss I'm more likely to still hit something else. I try to aim and target and not just spray KEW everywhere and risk hitting somebody else if I miss. I've been trying to come up with a pattern for what I've been missing lately, but I'm not seeing something consistent, really. Which I guess just means I need to be better at everything."

"That is economy of fire. That is smart," Cidra says with an approving nod when Devlin talks of aiming for the cockpit. "You are not going to become a top gun in this Wing, Decoy. There is just not time for that in the months ahead. Years, perhaps, but not months. I mean no slight, concentrate on what you *can* do, not what you cannot. You approach it in the best way you are able right now. Take the most utilitarian hits you can, avoid stupidity, weaken the target for your wing. I tell you what. Catalog your misses in the coming days, the ones you cannot explain, string them together and see what you can make from them. It may expose bad habits. It may just expose the unpredictability of flight."

Devlin nods at Cidra, listening, and then nodding again, and some more. "Okay," he replies at the last, "I'll do that. See what I can figure out." He ruffles a hand through his hair again, and adds, "Thank you for looking." He reaches out in offer to take the computer back, though there is more footage continuing to play across the screen if she prefers to keep watching. "Umm," he hesitates again and then, perhaps in an attempt to do better and not continue his policy of avoidance, reminds, "You wanted to talk about Poppy."

"Yes I did," Cidra says, continuing to finger the well-worn wood of her beads, though her gaze never leaves Devlin. "In the first, you cannot simply choose not to deal with your commanding officer, Ensign. Such behavior speaks of petulance that is not befitting an officer in the Colonial Navy, or a comrade in arms."

"It's not that I don't deal with her, sir," Devlin replies, "I fly her wing a lot of the time, I deal with her then, and afterwards, and whenever I need to or she needs me to for official things or whatever. I just don't seek her out otherwise," he shrugs, and then says, "But okay. I understand."

"Do you understand, indeed?" Cidra's beads make a soft 'whisking' sound as they slide together through her fingers, her thumb occasionally pausing on the little owl charm strung on them. One might think she was rotating it ever so slightly so it *watched* Devlin. Its tiny eye holes lack the penetrating quality of the old statuette in her office, but she works it as well as she can. "I suspect you do not, in truth. But tell me, Decoy, what is it you understand? About my import and about Captain Vakos?" Her question is oh-so-mild. She watches him and works her beads.

Devlin glances down at the beads, and then back up. "I mean… I could be wrong. But I think you meant that avoiding her because she doesn't like me is…lame, basically, and inappropriate, and I should learn to deal with her, because she's my squad leader, and I have to respect her, and we're all in this together. Or something like that." He doesn't seem quite so sure.

"That is a portion of what I meant," Cidra replies. Whisk, whisk, whisk, idly charm-spinning with her thumb. Watching him. "You think Captain Vakos does not like you, Ensign?" There is an ever-so-slight arch quality to the question. It is leading him a somewhere. She is inscrutable as to where.

Devlin watches the beads go 'round her fingers and then looks back up and nods simply, "Yes, I do."

"Firstly, Ensign, you do not get to decide how well you serve someone based upon how well you like them or how well they like you. But I shall *presume* you know this." Cidra's tone is very firm, and with a deceptively mild quality that actually isn't mild at all, on that point. He had better. Round and round they go. The rhythm isn't smooth but it's constant and even. It's a motion she does so often it's become instinct. She pays no attention to it, cloudy blue eyes never leaving Devlin. "Secondly, I think you have very little idea of what you are talking about. Picture this if you will. You are flying with Drips. You like Drips, yes? He is a good man, fine comrade, good friend. Say the universe was ordered such that he was the ensign and you the El-Tee. Do you have this in your mind?"

Devlin frowns a little, but it probably more likely to be in concentration than any thread of disagreement. He tends to frown, when things require thought. He doesn't respond, at any rate, and then frowns a little more at the second part. "Umm. Okay?" he says after a minute, "I guess so?"

"Firm in your mind, Decoy. You and Drips, flying in combat. You are lead. The Raiders are on you. And your losing, Decoy. They are breaking through and headed right for your ship, your charge, the thing you fly and fight and risk to die to protect every time you go up. You cannot hit them. You cannot get near enough to get in their way, either. Not in time. But he can. He is in the right spot, except he will not get out again if he does. Now you can save your ship and the lives of your other comrades, and all you have to do is order your friend Drips to smash his Viper bodily into a swarm of Raiders." A pause. "Do you have this in your mind, Ensign?"

Devlin listens, expression grave, made more so by the continuing downturn of his brows and lips, the frown more than merely thoughtful at the scenario painted. He watches the beads slide past Cidra's fingers, and nods. "Yes," he says, and while he may not be the brightest, it's clear enough that he now knows (or thinks he knows) where this is going."

"All right, then." Cidra nods, approvingly, as Devlin summons this disturbing image to his mind obediently. "That is command, Ensign. It is one thing to die for your ship, your comrades, to complete the mission. That is a terrible thing, but we prepare for such sacrifices, and we all pray we will have the strength to make them when the time comes because we owe our duty thus. But to send your friend to their own death…well. That is something else. And it is a thing that one *thinks* will be less complicated - if the times comes and one has to do it - if one does not get too close to those under them." A pause. "That thinking is wrong, of course. I have come to believe this. But I did not always. You think it shall be easier to do an awful thing that you do not think you can bring yourself to do if everyone thinks you are awful already."

Devlin rakes a hand through his hair yet again, clearly not totally accustomed to having it on his head just yet. He listens, and carefully, but when she is finished, he is still frowning in thought. "But…" he begins, and trails off, and then tries again, "But sir, you've… you actually know this. Firsthand. And you don't believe that's the way to deal with it. You don't go around making sure everyone thinks you're awful. So… I mean…. It seems like she looks up to you, I know everybody else does. Why doesn't she do things your way, instead?"

"I did once, Ensign," Cidra says, fingers continuing that softly whisking rhythm. Perhaps tightening a little around her beads. Perhaps. Though her expression remains inscrutable. "I spent a good deal of time and effort after Warday trying to convince the Wing I was quite heartless and terrifying. Truth? I did not think I had it in me to do what I knew might need to be done. I was quite convinced every pilot on this ship hated me, and I did think that made it less complicated. And then the time came and…well. One never really knows such things about themselves until it comes to it." She pauses a beat.

"I think you pull it off pretty well when you want to, sir," Devlin remarks of heartless and/or terrifying. He adds after a moment, "But I don't know anyone that hates you." He looks for a seond like he might go on, or like he might be about to ask a question, but instead he shuts his mouth and waits to see if she goes on.

"I have moments. And yes, I figured out they did not eventually." Faintest of smiles, albeit a rather sad one. Cidra does not go on presently. Just looking at Devlin, brows arched ever so faintly. "Go on if you have on to go, Ensign."

Devlin's lips part, but he remains silent for a second, and then admits, "I kind of lost my train of thought. I guess…" Another pause, part hesitation, part gathering of words, "I guess, I just… I'm still not sure really what it is you think I should do, sir," he says, "I mean, I get your point, I do, really. Command is terrible, and difficult, and she thinks she has to act like she does because that's the only way she can handle it. Okay. But… I mean, how am I suppose to deal with that, exactly? I mean, I'll try to keep it in mind more instead of taking it personally if she's— if it's seeming like she hates me, but… I mean, if she wants to make dealing with her difficult, right? So that she can keep us at a distance? How am I supposed to make it easier?" He seems to be honestly asking, rather than attempting to argue, looking for input, though he does not seem sure he won't regret asking the question. "Just… if she wants us to think she's awful, then she'll get pissed if I act like I don't think that — I've seen Hosedown and people try to be friendly and she hates it. But if I act like I do think she's awful, then that's no good either. And I'm trying to just… you know, do what she tells me to do as best I can and stay out of her way otherwise, but you said I shouldn't do that, either… what's my other option?"

It takes Cidra a moment to answer. Her train of thought had gone off somewhere else entirely. She clears her throat. "The first point is the main, Ensign. It is not about you. As for what you do? That, again, is the main. Do your duty, do not *try*. But do understand where it comes from. Understanding is the beginning. All else flows from that."

"I do," Devlin replies, "I do my duty. I work really frakking hard to be the best pilot I can be, when we're flying and when I'm off-duty, too. I do everything she wants, short of getting a divorce and only wearing fleet-issued boxers. Is that not enough? Am I missing something?" The words could easily be petulant but his tone is more like baffled.

"I have just said it is not about you, Ensign," Cidra says with something of a sigh. "I am not insinuating you do not try. I am attempting to make you understand where it comes from, in your Captain. And to maintain perspective."

"I— okay. Thanks for your time, sir," Devlin says, shutting his computer. Not having technically been dismissed, he doesn't leave, but he seems done. After waiting a minute he gestures at her bandaged arm again and says, "I hope it didn't mess up any of your ink. Let me know if it did, I might be able to fix it."

"Pruned my olive tree," Cidra remarks idly, twisting her head some to look down at the bandage on her arm. "Well. The suit took the brunt of it. Medic tells me the cut is shallow. But I shall keep that in mind, Decoy." And she does look thoughtful for a beat, though she does not immediately pursue the subject. "Do not tell Captain Vakos we spoke thus, if you do not mind. I do not mind hearing your counsel, but this strikes me as something in the nature of a personal matter rather than a professional one, if I take it right."

"Too bad," Devlin replies, "That looked like nice work. But yeah," he shrugs, "If you want, once it's healed." He shrugs again, lingering as she looks thoughtful, and then nods quickly, "Of course. I won't. I wasn't going to."

"Very well, Ensign," Cidra says, letting the young man go. Then she sinks back in her bunk, to catch some actual rack time before…whatever calls.

"Bye, Major," Devlin replies, unfolding his legs, one knee drawing a faint wince as it's straightened, and climbing out, head back across the berths to his own bunk.

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