PHD #068: Go
Summary: Beware COs bearing good news.
Date: 5 May 2041 AE
Related Logs: Two Alpha; concurrent with Call and Response
Abbot Sawyer Tillman Parry 
Commander's Quarters — Deck 4 — Battlestar Cerberus
The Admiral's Quarters are as stately as can be expected. One of the few rooms on the ship to get carpeting, it has numerous other small amenities that only few can ever dream of having. A personal bathroom has a privacy door to the side with its own shower and sink. The bunk has a queen size mattress which is set deep into the wall. Overhead of the bunk is personal storage while the rest of the room is lined with bookshelves and pictures from various points in the CO's life or noteworthy occasions. Above the Admiral's large oak desk is a set of displays the read-off various status reports throughout the day and night. A seating area with overstuffed chairs and a coffee table, is located nearer to the entrance hatch.
Post-Holocaust Day: #68

There's no whiskey set out for the reporter, not this time. Surely she's heard the whispers flying about the ship despite the admiral's best efforts to contain them, the most pernicious of which is undoubtedly the charge that he's authorized a suicide mission to Leonis — fully cognizant that it's as likely to succeed as it is to be a one-way trip for all parties involved. Small wonder that he looks as distracted as he does, spinning in his fingers a model of a Cylon baseship. Round and round it goes, grey plastic glinting dully beneath the light, scattering like a slow-moving fan the cloud of smoke that seems perpetually attached to his face and frame. And the object of contemplation this afternoon? A short operational plan, from the looks of it, stamped on each page with a bright red 'TOP SECRET.'

Sawyer dressed meticulously for this evening, wearing a pencil line dark grey skirt, off the shoulder black sweater, and hose with black heels. Her wardrobe choice was even a week long debate wherein she got outsider's opinions, her nails are done, and her hair is perfectly straightened and styled. Tasteful make-up is paired with subtle jewelry, glinting at her ears and the hallow of her neck. Instead of her usual pad of paper, she carries a dark leather portfolio which she totes more like a purse then meant for business. As promised, she's the one that brought the alcohol this time in the form of a bottle of Ambrosia that's previously been nipped on once or twice. There's a mild smile for the Commander as she's shown in by and announced by an aide, then left to her own devices with the ship's CO. "You're a hard man to pin down, Michael."

"I need to time my breaths of fresh air, is all. Dismissed, Petty Officer." This to the buxom redheaded yeoman whose fluttering smile betrays slightly less professionalism than she might prefer — but if Abbot notices it, he doesn't comment, instead waving her off with a quickly-snapped return salute. "I wasn't aware of the salon aboard my ship," he offers dryly, pointing to one of the overstuffed armchairs arranged before his desk. The report is quickly snapped closed and deposited within a drawer, the basestar chucked like a paperweight on top of its already dog-eared pages.

Sawyer pauses just a moment in her stride, "I'd venture to say you're not happy to see me, Michael. We had a date, but it seems you've forgotten." She takes a few more strides forward, sliding the bottle on the edge of his desk like some sort of peace offering. "Can't blame a girl for trying to look her best, but I see it wouldn't have made a difference had I shown up in my pajamas and flip flops. At least they're cute pajamas. Pink plaid, in fact." Her smile turns a little wry as she eases down into the chair he indicated, tucking her portfolio next to her thigh. Legs take their sweet time in crossing, at the knee too instead of the ankle like a proper lady.

"What is it that they say?" Abbot allows himself a long and deep sigh as he cocks his head, gaze following the bottle's tight green curves before returning to the pack of cigarettes lying open on his desk. "Something about time speeding up when you want it to slow down and vice versa. You should know what I'm talking about, Sawyer. Admirals are on deadline, too." Nicotine, yes; alcohol, no. It seems the rumors of an upcoming up are true if the admiral is turning down the opportunity to have himself a little tipple. "Pink, huh. I can only guess what the pilots are saying about that." One hand pushes the pack across the table — an offer of sorts — while the other reaches for the lighter he keeps perpetually within reach.

Sawyer doesn't seem to mind the fact that the Admiral isn't inclined to drink this evening. She doesn't push the subject, nor even move to make herself her own drink. The bottle just sits there idle for another day. "Most pilots are still too afraid to let me know what they think. Pajamas or otherwise. Nervous it might be published, no doubt." Sawyer leans forward at the offer of a cigarette, using the tip of one manicured but unpolished nail to snag the end of a filter and pull it free of the pack. "Don't worry, I'm not offended. I have a rather thick skin and I new if I'd nag your aides enough, I'd eventually get penciled in." The cigarette gets tucked between her lips and she remains tilted forward so he can light it for her.

As indeed he's already doing. Blue-white flame jets up from the tip of that lighter, flickering for the two or three seconds it takes for him to ignite not one but two. Hey, he can quit whenever he wants. "You're not the only one vying for my attentions, you know." There's mild humor in his cultured voice as he leans back in his chair, blowing out a thin plume of smoke before standing to put on some more coffee — a job that his redheaded yeoman, for all her charms, hasn't quite learned to do on her own initiative. And while Abbot dips into the head to fill up the carafe: "Unfortunately, the Cylons aren't as considerate as you are." Tongue clicks against the hard lid of his mouth. "They don't bother with skirts, either, but — " The pleasing gurgle of running water drowns out his low chuckle.

Sawyer leans back into her oversized chair, cheeks hollowing out as she takes a drag of her cigarette. It must be her first in some time, as her eyes half lid with the sheer pleasure of a nicotine rush. Lips cant towards the ceiling with an exhale, a thin grey stream streaking away to join the Commander's own personal cloud before it gets wisked away by the life support system. "And they don't look as good in pink plaid pajamas, either. I know you're busy, Michael, and if this were just about sharing a smoke and swapping childhood anecdotes, I'd have let it slide until after this big pounce you have planned. You'll forgive me for having ulterior motives?"

"Only if you'll forgive me for saying that I expected nothing less." The reporter is allowed a small, tight smile that testifies to the strain weighing down the admiral's shoulders, though his carriage is as proud and upright as ever. Quick, efficient strides take him over to the coffeemaker by his desk; equally efficient motions allow the grinds to be loaded in with almost brutal precision. Only then does he sit, taking another drag as if to recharge his batteries.

There's a laugh from Sawyer, a delightfully coarse thing that comes straight from the belly. "You wouldn't respect if I didn't." She waits for a moment longer, letting him enjoy that drag as she watches him with the twinkle of mirth slowly ebbing out of her eyes. "There's a vicious rumor, Michael, that your thinking of installing a draft…" She lets that sentence drift off so he can pick it up where he'd like, and the filter of her cigarette gets touched back to her lips during the void.

"Rumor's a nasty creature, Sawyer." The coffeemaker hisses loudly behind him, a few tendrils of water spilling over its top — something engineering hasn't been bothered to fix, not that the admiral would order anything of the sort. Wouldn't that be a scandal? "I take it one of your contacts slid you a copy of one of my recent explaratory orders, didn't he." The tip of his cigarette is tapped against the side of his pewter ashtray as he speaks. "If that's the case, I'll let me speak for — well, me."

"Mmm. That's why I never print anything until I go to the source. I could have splashed this all over hangar bay and had the civilian population in an uproar. But I didn't. Because you and I both know I'm smarter than that, which is why - yes - I've been trying to get a hold of you for weeks so I could hear it directly from the horse's mouth. As the saying goes." Sawyer slips out of her chair, if only so she can share his ashtray and knock a column of ash from her cigarette. Instead of retaking her seat, she shifts her thigh, and half-props herself up on the edge of his desk to loom.

Abbot doesn't quail, though he does angle his face to the side to avoid blowing a plume of smoke directly into the woman's face. "You're well connected, Sawyer," is all he says. "I'll let the order speak for itself, but — " The cigarette is held between his lips as he considers the blonde, fingers interlacing below his chin; then, slowly, it's removed and de-ashed once more. "Well. You tell me what you think it means."

Sawyer looks vaguely bemused, but only vaguely. There's something just behind those brown eyes of hers, that she's not letting surface. "Am I? I'd rather just think I'm damn lucky…stumbling across the oddest things. You're a bright man, Commander. You wouldn't be in the position you are if you weren't. You're exploring all options, now that we're fighting an unwinnable war with no reinforcements to speak of. But conscription isn't the answer. I want to talk to you about the alternative we spoke about briefly. The civilian work force. Because if you slap down a draft, then you've completely obliterated what the Navy stands for, and torn away one of the last remaining freedoms we have."

"I believe I have more than passing knowledge about what the Navy stands for, Sawyer, and I admit I'm not terribly inclined to be subjected to a lecture on the same." A bit of an edge slips into Abbot's voice, though on the face of it he's as cool and collected as ever. "Would you like to know what other exploratory orders the Fleet has issued over the past ten years? Admiral Nagala was tasked with developing an operational response to the Sagittaron Insurgency using all available weapons at his disposal, up to and including tactical nuclear bombs. Admiral Franks was ordered to come up with a plan to suppress the labor riots on Tauron using Marines that would have been deployed without the consent of municipal authorities. The Fleet has invasion plans for every major city in every province on every Colony — all plans that, Gods be praised, never once saw the light of day. But — " And here he pauses to nurse his cigarette a bit longer, leaning back into his chair while crossing his arms over his chest. "I'd be abrogating all of my responsibilities if I left even unpopular stones unturned. So." Abbot smiles thinly. "Let's shelve the outrage and talk about putting your volunteers to work, shall we? And before I forget — do you take your coffee black or white?"

Sawyer's lips twitch in what might just be a threat of another smile. "I hadn't even gotten to outrage yet. That's lower down in my checklist. First I was going to try reasoning, and eventually pleading." She rewets her lips with a quick pass of her tongue. "I've been biding the time I've been waiting for your audience by doing research, gathering statistics and making a neat and tidy list of facts to back up my arguement…so are you saying you're shelving the idea of a draft or just trying to appease me for the time being so I /don't/ go on a tirade and bore you with my numbers?" She lifts her own cigarette for another drag, but her hand isn't quite as steady as it was just moments before. "If I go through all the trouble of arranging this workforce and you just slap down conscription anyways….Black. Black is fine, Michael."

"Good answer." Abbot stands, shedding ash from his navy blue uniform to dig within a mahogany cabinet for a pair of semi-clean mugs. Eventually, he finds what he's looking for, and soon enough said mugs are being disinfected by burning-hot coffee — evidently, he likes his beans charred. And while he does: "I'm saying, Sawyer, that even a military officer with my reputation deserves to be given the benefit of the doubt." It's not quite the commitment she's looking for, he suspects, but it's all she's going to get. "So. These volunteers. When do I get them?"

Sawyer tilts her chin up slightly, if only to equalize their height with him standing and her still leaning on the edge of the desk. She shifts her cigarette to the same hand she takes the cup of coffee with, murmuring a quiet thank you as it warms her hands. "Well, frankly Commander, when I can give them the assurance that it's for the good of the ship and they'll be doing their part and when I can do so without feeling like I'm duping them into temporary servitude while you hammer out the final details of your draft. And. I still have to implement it. With your golden seal of approval of course. Once you and I are in agreement, I'm sure we can get something worked up and set in place…in a week?"

"We only get the golden seal upon promotion to full admiral," is Abbot's deadpan response, placing his own mug on the semi-circular coffee stain etched into his desk. Cigarette first; jet fuel later. "Put your head together with my yeoman to come up with a list of non-combat duties civilian volunteers could perform. Secretarial roles, janitorial roles, and service roles are the first to come to mind, but there may be others. Such individuals would, of course, be integrated into the military hierarchy and would be subject to military law. As for the precise details of the arrangement, Major Tillman has my full confidence, and I'll deputize him to represent the Fleet in this matter." Blue eyes glimmer as he crushes his cigarette in the ashtray — his gaze as stolid as ever, but this time informed with just a hint of amusement. "I believe you'll find him quite sympathetic to your arguments."

Sawyer looks down to her hands, a sad smile creeping to her features. "I hope you won't be disappointed then." On an inhale, she lifts her head again, a little flick to get a lock of hair out from her vision. "May I suggest some incentive for the workers, such as better sleeping and eating arrangments. I hope you don't mind, but I've already drafted up an announcement that we can begin posting…" She finally moves back to her portfolio, unzipping it to pull out a hexagonal sheet of paper. "Get your red pen handy, as I took some liberties…" She hands it over, before taking a sip of her coffee while waiting for his opinion.

"I'm sure proper carrots can be arranged. And you're the writer, Sawyer, not me." Cursory gaze is turned to the paper as he begins to skim, though — surprisingly — no pen comes forward. Then, for the first time, he allows that expression of his to soften, pushing the paper back into the woman's grasp. Distracted eyes glance towards the still-open drawer in which that plastic basestar still gleams. "Are you free on Saturday night?" he wonders.

With no critique given, Sawyer takes the paper back and holds it awkwardly down in her lap for a moment. He asks after her Saturday, and for a moment she's bewildered. When she gets tripped up, her careful composure cracks, and for a moment she just looks at Michael blankly. She snaps back to it, though, when the cherry gets too close to her fingers and she has to shift stuff around quickly to stamp out her smoke in the ashtray before the acrid smell of filter fills the air. "Saturday? For the Commanding Officer, I think I can clear my schedule." She says smoothly as ever, as if there was never that little hiccup in her demeanor.

Admiral Abbot, always unpredictable. A twinge of humor colors the angular planes of his face as he smiles at her discomfort — not-quite-gentle amusement. "I'm sending twenty-five men and women to Leonis," he says without preamble, once he's so graciously given her enough time to recover from her momentary shock. "I want you to go with them."

Unpredictable is right, here Sawyer was expecting maybe an offer of an actual date, or at the very least some boring stuffy meeting with the Department Heads to discuss the civilian workforce. It's written all over her face in the second time in as many minutes that the Commander has managed to trip the poor reporter up. There's an uncomfortable gulp of scalding coffee as she has to rewet her windpipes so they work again. "Beg your pardon?"

"You're the writer, Sawyer, not me." Abbot repeats himself, at last allowing himself to grab that basestar from where it lies. "And if anything we do deserves a written record, it's this — " The model of the deadly Cylon ship rests easily in his palms, its 'arms' jutting out from between his fingers to cast long shadows over the length of his desk. "It's this. Because on Saturday night, Sawyer? On Saturday night, after two months traipsing about the Colonies with his tail between his legs — on Saturday night, humanity returns home."

Things are shuffled aside, paper and coffee cup and another impatient tuck of her hair behind her ear. It's all in effort so Sawyer can help herself to another one of the Rear Admiral's cigarettes, "Just try to keep me off the damn ship…" Her voice is a growl, her lips twisted in some sort of sardonic smile. It's the look of a hungry woman who's just been offered a steak after eating nothing but tofu. "You won't regret this, Michael."

Abbot lets the baseship fall to his desk, plastic clinking hollowly against the stainless steel of his still-steaming mug. Taking up that mug in his white-knuckled hands, the man turns his back to the reporter and her smile, face frozen in an unreadable mask that speaks only to surpassing exhaustion — for indeed, it doesn't seem as if he's had much sleep. "I'm going to commandeer that bottle of ambrosia," he says at last, his tone even, his voice flat. "I have a feeling that article's going to be a long one, and I don't want to be thirsty when I read it. Do I make myself clear, Miss Averies?"

"Not entirely, Michael, but I've come to expect that from you. You either mean my ass better make it back to this ship in one piece or you expect this to be the most epic article I've ever written. Can I pretend it's the former and say how flattered I am at your concern for my person? The latter is just an insult to my creative process." Sawyer smirks, lofting the unlit cigarette in a silent request for him to light her up again.

[WIRELESS] (from Tillman) The phone on the wall buzzes.

A quiet, stifling silence crashes down upon the room as Michael turns halfway, enough to give the woman one final light while he considers his next words. The metallic shink that accompanies the burst of flame cuts powerfully through the stillness — and is absorbed almost instantly by the warm furnishings of his office. "I'll tell Petty Officer Parry to expect you within the hour," he says at last, his expression veiled — and then comes the phone. "Excuse me."

[Into the Wireless] Michael says, "This is Abbot, go ahead."

[WIRELESS] Tillman says, "Sir, this is Major Tillman in CIC. We just had two Cylon transponders go off within the ship. Both Praetorian and Corsair have confirmed it. I called down to the Hangar Deck and a crewmember indicated that they have gotten the two transponders powered and working. They're collecting data as we speak."

There's an audible hiss of relief as Michael's fists clench and ever-so-slowly unclench.

[Into the Wireless] Michael says, "Very good, Major. I want a report on my desk upon the conclusion of your tests, as well as a list of all individuals involved in this project."

Sawyer leans over the flame, making eye contact for a brief moment with Michael before withdrawing. My how a few weeks changes things. Even though she's basically been dismissed, she's taking her sweet time about leaving. No doubt it has something to do with eavesdropping in on his wireless conversation while she gathers up her things and smoothes out the line of her skirt with a palm as she stands.

[WIRELESS] Tillman says, "Copy that, sir. Should this indicate that we are officially a 'Go' for Cobra Talon?"

Abbot holds the woman's gaze, his eyes flashing with a cold, quiet light — and then, setting his jaw, draining the rest of his coffee, he returns his attention to the phone in hand.

[Into the Wireless] Michael says, "Cobra Talon is officially a go, Major. Say again, Cobra Talon is officially a go."

[WIRELESS] Tillman says, "Understood, sir. Thank you. That's all I have."

[Into the Wireless] Michael says, "Thank you, Major. Abbot out."

And in one, furious motion, his steel mug smashes down against the table, crushing the delicate plastic assembly that is the model Cylon basestar. The hastily fabricated toy shatters at the impact, crunching loudly against his heavy oaken desk.

Sawyer touches the top of the bottle, mouthing the words, 'save me a drink' before about to take her leave of the Rear Admiral. The sudden unexpected impact of his mug to the toy causes her to flinch, face twisting away instinctively in case any of the plastic pieces go flying. The wireless call over, Sawyer murmurs quietly. "Don't suppose you want to talk about it."

It's not worry in his expression, nor is it fear. It's not even exhaustion — for that's been swept away by the tidal wave of adrenaline that now courses through his pulsing blue veins. It's pure, unadulterated anticipation — mixed to taste with a dash of exhilaration and a garnish of relief. "No," he says, and his voice is tight with all of the above. "But you can quote me on this, Sawyer: the days of running are over." And the last dregs of his coffee go down the hatch to the sound of a short, rich laugh. "Dismissed."

Sawyer quirks a brow when he 'dismisses' her, her expression evening out quickly into an impassive mask. With her chin lifted, she turns to the hatch, only pausing when she's halfway out of it to say, "It's lonely at the top, isn't it Admiral." Her voice crisp and clear and devoid of any emotion. Admiral. Not Michael. And the way she uses it, it'll be a wonder if she ever reverts to first name at all. Maybe that's what he prefers. And out she goes.

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