PHD #181: Eleven No Longer
PHD #181: Eleven No Longer
Summary: "Sweet Pea" reports to the CAG for a short debriefing.
Date: 26 Aug 2041 AE
Related Logs: None
Cidra Leyla 
The Bowers
Crumbling stucco covers the thick adobe walls of the abandoned farmhouse. A dozen or more people lived here, judging by the size. The second floor has mostly collapsed, though the stairs leading up remain intact, ending upon a landing that peers out at the frame of massive palmwood beams whch support the thatched roof. Much of the furniture was left behind, and sun-faded curtains still hang from the windows, flapping restlessly in the breeze.
Post-Holocaust Day: #181

It's not a particularly glorious headquarters, this crumbling piece of abandoned farmhouse on the edge of insurgent-infested, irradiated Sagittaron wilderness. But, it's what the Colonials have at the moment. Cidra is sitting at a folding table that's been brought down from Cerberus, going over some terrain maps. The CAG, a fair-skinned creature naturally with that particular pallor that comes of prolonged space duty, obviously wasn't minding the importance of sunblock during her first days on the planet. She's looking rather red, nose starting to peel.

The ready room, the CAG's 'office', a farmhouse on Sagitarron. It really makes no difference to the diminutive pilot that walks her way up from the landing area. Despite the fact that her trip is over, and there's another pilot prepping to make the trip back, Leyla seems to decide against removing her helmet, which, really, is par for the course, for the woman who spends more time in her suit than out of it. The less time it takes to get dressed when you get the call to fly a raptor, the sooner you can get out where you're needed. And so, silent and singular, Leyla makes her way up towards the farmhouse, footsteps on the creaking boards announcing her even before the knock at the door comes, and she waits for permission to enter the command center.

Cidra is sans helmet. She's even got her duty fatigues shirt tied around her waist, arms bare and stripped down to her tank top due to the heat. She is wearing her sidearm at her hip, though. An unusual sight on the woman, frankly. They're standard in-flight, but otherwise unless necessary she tends to avoid donning it. Sagittaron, however, is an environment that sort of calls for it. It takes her a moment to notice another interloper in the farmhouse. Though the creaking of boards does make her look up. "Ah. Sweet Pea. How does the day find you?"

Leyla was just about to ask permission to enter, but at the greeting, she goes ahead and steps inside, removing her helmet, tucking it under her left arm. A short series of steps brings her in from the doorway, and she offers a crisp salute, and an equally crisp, "Major," before she switches the helmet from her left arm to her right, freeing up her dominant hand. "Busy." Which, by all accounts, is just the way she likes it, "Just finished the latest crew rotation. Ground-sensing radar reported no movements save for the activity of the ships' crews on the surface."

Cidra straightens up so acknowledge the salute, though she doesn't actually stand. She'd just have to sit again. "As you were, Aydin. Have a seat if you like. And some water. Hydration is quite vital in this place." She has a tin cup at her elbow from which she's been drinking liberally. There's a pitcher in the middle of the table. "No movements. Well. I shall take that as good at the moment, though I wish we were having better fortune discovering living humans who did not respond to us with explosives. Had you ever been to Sagittaron before this little jaunt?"

"Thank you, Major." The helmet is finally set aside, placed down on the floor beside the chair she's selected for herself. Gloved hands emptied, Leyla makes her way over to the small sideboard of sorts, where she picks up a spare cup, before she walks over to the pitcher and fills a cup, only after ensuring, with a glance, that there's enough in there to not leave the Major without, "Never. The first time I left Tauron, was to head to Picon for the Academy. I went right from there to the Stussy. I spent my leaves heading back home to see my family." As to the lack of happy to see the Cerberus humans, well, "I can't speak for the people of this Colony, but I imagine we would find much the same thing on Tauron. For all that we contributed to the original creation of the Cylons, hatred for the Unification would probably generate a lot of survivors who would look at the destruction as the fault of the other Colonies, and prefer to fend for themselves, rather than depend on the ones who were responsible for the destruction wrought by the Cylons."

Cidra drinks deep of her water, finishing off that cup, then fishes into her pockets for a packet of cigarettes. "Do you mind?" she asks Leyla, before she'll light up. A pause and she asks, "Care for one?" But she goes on with the matters at hand before attending to smoking. "I suspect you are not far wrong on that. I am from Gemenon originally myself, and there were parts of that planet were the Colonial Government was not well-loved. Still. Those left have to see reason. There is no life left here. What we were is gone. We shall have to make what we can from the ashes."

"No, I don't mind, and I'd be glad of one, thank you." Leyla accepts the cigarette, reaching into her belt to pull out a lighter. She's smokes slowly, carefully, as if she were trying to make the cigarette last as long as possible, which, well, she is. Never know when you'll get another. "There is no 'life as it was' here, but there is still life. After a fashion. They have been surviving here since the attack, rebuilding from their own ashes, learning new ways to live, choosing new priorities. No different than what we have been doing. They might very well see us, we outsiders, coming in as Imperialism all over again. Outsiders coming in and trying to tell them how they should be living after the attack, insisting that we know better than they do, these people who have been living on the ground, day in and day out."

Cidra fires up, then passes another to Leyla. Even offering a light. Her own smoking is languid as well. It doesn't exactly help with the heat, with has an air of mugginess do it after the recent rain, but she drags deeply nonetheless. None of what Leyla says is met with any kind of disapproval. If anything, there's a small nod from her of weary agreement. "The radiation will eventually take this world. Choke what life remains. Even if the Cylons did truly abandon it, which I still cannot make myself believe. Not that we can promise them much more hope than that, I shall admit." More smoking. "We owe them the offer, at least, I do figure." The faintest of smiles. "Many officers would not say such things so freely, Lieutenant." Again, not disapproval precisely. If anything, she seems curious. Cloud blue eyes resting on the younger woman in a weighing sort of way. Though it's difficult to tell what her measuring decides, one way or another. The CAG can be highly inscrutable when she wants to be, which is more often than not.

"And when that day comes, and the radiation kills the last of them, they will have gone to death on their own terms. That is what my people would do, would want. To be the masters of their own fate, even to the inevitable end." Leyla pauses, between her comments, enjoying the swirl and smoke of the tobacco. So sane…so normal. "Begging your pardon, Sir, but I don't see much point in blowing smoke. Figuratively speaking. The time for that has long since passed. And every day we're here, more of our people are injured. More of our supplies are expended. We're fighting a war of attrition here, with these survivors. And any war we hope to 'win', if there is such a thing in this case, comes from knowing the enemy, even if the enemy are our own people. And I'm not from here, but I can infer from my own people, who have a similar history. And that might be useful in this situation." She reaches out, flicking the ashes away, "Also, again, if you'll excuse me, Sir, but from what little I know of you, in a professional capacity, you have never struck me as a woman who cares much for platitudes and smoothing things over."

"Mine as well, in some quarters," Cidra says softly to the first. "It is all any of us can ask for in these times, I do suppose." She drags once more then rests her elbow on the table. Cigarette clutched lightly between her fingertips as she regards Leyla. "We came here not to fight these people, and I shall not for my part if that is all that is to come of it. If they truly wish to die here, then there is little to be done but leave them to it. But there may be some left who wish for more of a chance. Even if not, even such as these are owed the chance to say whether they shall go or stay." That faintest of smiles turns to a smirk. "I hope, then, that I have struck you correctly. Anyhow. What have you inferred so far, Sweet Pea? I shall take all that might be of use to me right now that I can get."

"I have only known the people of Gemenon from books and stories. And I try to look at those with skepticism I prefer to know a people, rather than to know about a people." Which is understandable. There are half a hundred stereotypes floating around about Taurians. "Even if we refuse to fire a single shot, there is still a war here. One of ideology, of differing perspectives." Another long moment to smoke, while Leyla gathers her thoughts, "This is a proud colony. But also a colony which, more likely than not, will say no, just for the satisfaction of saying 'no', even if the right answer is and should be yes. It's like…when a man is courting a woman at home. She might want him, but, at least where I'm from, she'll wait for him to make the first move. He should come to her, and then allow her to accept." Leyla leans forward, moving to rest her forearms on her knees, stretching out in the flight suit, before she sits back up. As much as she enjoys flying, it does leave you all kinked up sometimes, "They may very well want to do what we want them to do, BUT, pride insists that they be the ones to make the approach. Perhaps we might consider scouting for areas where it seems as though there might be survivors. Find some way to drop a message canister to them, with coordinates for rendezvous points for those who wish to come with us. If they come, they come. If not, we know what choice was made. We set the points to accept survivors at set time periods. Every two weeks, every three, whatever our supplies will allow."

That bare hint of a smile remains on Cidra's lips. "Never believe the stories, Lieutenant. The truth is usually far stranger." That is all she has to say of Gemenon. The rest she just listens to, smoking quietly, absorbing the pilot's words as she talks. Small nods here and there. "That has many most sensible points, actually. We cannot linger here in full force for much longer. It leaves us too exposed, and we only waste time if all we shall do it have insurgents poking at us with sharp bombs. I am attempting to arrange a meet with the SSLF leader here. The woman they call Melpomene. If that does not go as I hope…" And it could go badly in several ways. "…then we shall have to begin pulling out. There are signs of survivors on Aerilon as well, and we cannot leave them overlong. But I do like this idea. I shall work it into our exit protocol, actually. Arrange a place those who might change their minds can wait, and promise a Raptor shall be there in two weeks' time. The rest can be up to them. Or not. None can do more than that, I do suppose."

"Well, I've certainly learned that that has a tendency to be the case. That is why I enjoy learning about thew colonies and their people from the people themselves. Books are an unchanging point of view. People are endlessly surprising. Good and bad." Leyla is almost down to the end of the cig now, despite the fact that she's been nursing it along, "And as you said, we have more colonies that need to be visited. Whether they accept us or not, we cannot leave them for long, without hope of salvation. And the longer they remain, the more dangerous circumstances become, for their health, as well as for their survival against the potential return of the Cylons." The walking dead are still…dead. being caught before that, well. "You know that we will do everything in our power to keep you safe, Major. And…I would be willing to pilot the raptor back, if we do set up a rendezvous."

"My concern is the mission rather than my own safety, as should yours be," Cidra says simply. "But, gods willing, we shall all come through this sound enough. Oh would you now?" More weighing eyeing of the young woman. "That would not be so simple a rendezvous, Lieutenant. Argument is, providing coordinates will only give those unfriendly to us a well-made target. But. They are shooting at us already. So I suppose we would be no worse to try than we are now, with a target painted on us here."

"The mission, as I understand it, is to preserve what's left of humanity, and you are a part of that. Being both human, and a vital part of the lifeblood of the Cerberus. We can't afford to lose people with skill and experience, not when we do not have enough people waiting in the wings to take over. Every loss is a loss that cannot be replaced, only compensated for, until we are left with nothing." A final drag, before Leyla puts out the cigarette, keeping the filter in her right gloved hand, "I will do my duty until I'm dead, or someone decommissions me. But if I am in a position to be able to keep someone else out of harm's way, I would do it willingly. And knowing where we will be, will give us the opportunity to plan for what might be waiting for us when the time comes. It's easier to avoid a bullet if you can guess on where it will be coming from, than walking in blind. They will know where we will be, but we'll also know where they will be."

There's a slight hint of pensiveness about Cidra when Leyla mentions a lack of enough people to take over. "No one is irreplaceable," is all she says on that, however. "But each life has a high value. Perhaps not so much now more than ever, but now we appreciate it more." The rest just earns another of those small nods. "Well, we are left with no ideal situations. We must just make the best of the ones we have, try as we can, and plan for the worst. If we must leave here without all the Sagittarons we can, and that looks to be becoming far more likely, I shall put you down for such a return."

"Perhaps, to one way of thinking, the life isn't irreplaceable, but the knowledge certainty is. What would happen, for example, if we lost so many engineers that we could no longer repair the FTLs? If we could no longer train nuggets to fly vipers, or to control the ECM station in a raptor? Manuals and guides are one thing, but having someone alive with real experience is preferable. And everyone on the ship, every person we meet has some bit of knowledge that would die out, when they do." Leyla turns the filter between her fingers, loosening the paper from the fibers beneath, "Thank you." She could say thank you for the opportunity, but really…

"We do the best we can with the pieces we have left, Lieutenant," Cidra says. A little dryly, but she does not seem dissatisfied with what she has to work with. "I should not keep you from your duties long. But. There is one matter of business I should settle with you. I am rather separated from my paperwork down here, but Captain Matise does send my wireless updates each morning on matters or more or less importance. You had a transfer request in from the Early Elevens to the Harriers, yes?"

"As you say, Sir, but if there's a chance we can keep more pieces in play longer, I would vote in favour." Leyla nods, reading the dismissal for what it is. And seeming unbothered by it. Time, like the tides, waits for no man. Or woman, "Of course, Sir." And then, she pauses, in mid-movement, picking up her helmet, but settling it on her knee, rather than rising to put it back on, "I did."

"No point in waiting, then. I gave it my approval this morning. There shall be a bit of a lag with processing, of course, but paperwork matters little in the field, so I shall not concern myself overmuch with it," Cidra says simply. "I shall message Lieutenant Trask promptly. You shall be running under him now in most of your day-to-day matters." Another bare hint of a smile. "Though I still own your life overall for the duration, of course." Was that a joke? A weird one, if so. "Is there any particular reason you requested it? Not that I disapprove or I would not have granted it. The Harriers could use more officers with a bit of seasoning at the moment."

"I'll be sure to look for him as soon as I can catch him, introduce myself." Only polite, and all. "Of course, Sir. It's a benefit of being in the 14th." And just then, there's a smile, a small one, of Leyla's own. "Two reasons. The first, was to improve my own skills. I was sectioned into the Elevens, and I've enjoyed being a part of the squadron. But I want to make as much use of the resources on hand as I can. I want to improve my skills, and with any luck, the second, to pass on what I know to other members of the air wing. Do what I can, before I go."

"The squadrons will stay reasonably balanced, and beyond that I am all for my personnel showing initiative," Cidra says. "Interested in mentoring, are you?" The younger woman gets another of those weighing looks. "Well. We shall perhaps be able to do something with that, with our attempt to train up some proper Nuggets. But we can talk on that later. Clear eyes and steady hands, Sweet Pea. Dismissed."

"I don't know if I had intended to be a lifer, when I entered the Academy. But it looks like the Cylons made that decision for me. I intend to do the best I can until I can't." Finally, she does rise, waiting to slip her helmet back on, until after she's dismissed, "Yes, Sir. And thank you." With that, the helmet goes back on, the heat ignored, as best she can, before the small pilot makes her way back out of the farmhouse turned command center. "May the wind be always at your back, Major." And then, she's off, and heading back to the drop point.

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