PHD #315: Gone Fishin'
Gone Fishin'
Summary: Cidra gains some insight into why Colonel Pewter does things the way he does.
Date: 07 Jan 2042 AE
Related Logs: Cry Havoc, Kick the Dog, all other Operation SILENT MASTIFF logs.
Cidra Pewter 
Commander's Quarters — Deck 4 — Battlestar Cerberus
The CO's quarters are as stately as can be expected. One of the few rooms on the ship to receive carpeting, it also possesses several other amenities that would be unthinkable anywhere else. On the port bulkhead, a small door opens up onto a personal bathroom with its own shower and sink. Two plush armchairs and a single handmade rocking chair surround a coffee table placed directly in front of the head, its glass surface perpetually covered in coffee grounds and a dusting of creamer. Nearby, a queen-sized mattress is recessed into the wall, capable of sliding out over the knotted tweed rug that lends a cozy touch to this makeshift sitting room. Above the mattress are four wall safes where the CO keeps his classified documents, private effects, and other things not meant for the public eye.
Despite its creature comforts, however, this room remains a working office, and its current occupant evidently works best in an atmosphere of controlled chaos. The wide oaken table facing the exit is covered with reports, reconnaissance photographs, and internal memoranda all hours of the day, with islands of personal memorabilia scattered here and there to break up the monotony: a glass tumbler bearing the insignia of the frigate Corsair, a black-and-white photograph of a fishing boat, and — nailed to the front of the desk — a twelve-pound rainbow trout stuffed and mounted on a polished mahogany plaque. Only the Colonel's five bookshelves are organized in any semblance of order. Framed family photographs sit next to what must be the largest remaining collection of fine spirits and liquors remaining in the universe, each bottle strapped to the rear bulkhead by thick Velcro bands — to protect them in case of turbulence, no doubt.
Post-Holocaust Day: #315

As the ship's clock strikes oh-dark-hundred hours, Colonel Andrus Pewter finds himself hunched over his perpetually messy desk, scanning the latest departmental memoranda under the light of a single brass lamp. He's got his reading glasses on, and both bifocals and his prominent nose now cast long shadows over his broad and pockmarked features as he shifts restlessly in his seat. It's not coffee he's drinking but rather some fine red wine, served not in a tasting glass but in his favorite mug: baby blue lettering on a navy blue background with 'AQUARIA'S BEST GRAMPS' printed in the Colonial equivalent of Comic Sans. No rest for the weary.

There's a knock on Pewter's hatch. Three taps. Polite but brisk. They might as well be Cidra's calling card.

"Uh-huh," the man mutters, half to himself. Only after he takes a bracing swig of Virgon's finest does he realize that speaking sotto voce might not be the best of idea when there's a few inches of steel between him and his visitor. "Come," Pewter booms, before looking down at himself — uniform buttoned, check; belt buckled, check; fly zipped, check — to make sure he's presentable.

"A good eve, Colonel," Cidra says as she enters the old man's quarters. She brings herself up to a proper salute, and will stand thus until relieved of it. "I do apologize for interrupting your respite. I have only just gotten off-duty myself." She's in her blues rather than her flight suit. With repairs more or less complete, there's a general feeling of the pressure of the last weeks lifting. "I had hoped we might speak concerning Operation Silent Mastiff. Some of my officers voiced concerns, which I do consider sensible enough to bring to your attention." Her manner's all of composed inscrutability, and not unfriendly. Which is quite different from the last time she was in his quarters after Audumbla, at least.

"Toastie." The greeting might seem overly familiar if not for the fact that Pewter has a penchant for shortening the names of everyone and everything. Or maybe he really does genuinely like the woman. He does, after all, chuckle at her words. "Respite? Sheeeeyit. I got every department sendin' me these memos. Five-paragraph essays comin' through this place like a runnin' sugar tree, if y'all know what I mean. Drink?" Like his paperwork, the garrulous man's words doth runneth over as well, even as he bends down on his squeaking chair to retrieve a crystal decanter from the nearby desk. "Cote de … somethin' I can't say; vintage somethin' that tastes a damn sight better than Pete's swill. Got another mug by the trout on deck if y'all want to wet y'all's tongue 'fore talkin' off this ear."

Cidra's brows arch at the 'Toastie.' Bemused. Not that she really objects, she just seems unsure how precisely to take it. She relaxes out of attention. "I will take a drink, yes. And I shall take your word for it. I have not tried the beverages at Colonial Pete's. I do not drink overmuch, really. It musses with the senses in a way I do not particularly care for." She takes the other mug. The trout is eyed. Again, bemused. "Is that a real creature? Did you catch it?"

"Ain't y'all ever learned never to question a man 'bout his fishin' tales?" Pewter's tired eyes sparkle beneath the thick lenses of his bifocals. "Oh, he's real all right. Finer than a redheaded stepchild — mm. Stalked that beautiful sumbitch four hours; even made a right special fly for him and everythin'. Near on pulled me into the damn water 'til I got him." The clink of decanter against mug interrupts his story; Cidra's going to get an extra-big pour. "I 'spect he might've made a nice meal but this old dog's sure big enough 'round, and 'sides. He looks better up there than he'd look in the shitter, if y'all know what I'm sayin'."

"My husband did like to fish when we were at our home on Picon." Cidra does not look at him as she speaks of her husband, but her tone is normal enough as she does. Perhaps it's some sort of weird peace-offering. Who knows with her, really. "I never did quite understand the appeal of it. He threw them back usually." She takes a seat and lifts her cup when it is poured, though she does not immediately sip. "Are we drinking to anything in particular, sir?"

It'll be a moment before Pewter answers. Head bowed thoughtfully at his desk, he might well be asleep — if not for the fact that his heavy but even breathing is punctuated by little snuffles of contemplation. Then, after a few seconds of silence: "He must've had some true rare yarns, y'all's boy," the CO offers mildly, looking up to reveal his habitual grin (albeit one tempered by the moment). "To fables, then." He bangs the bottom of his mug against his table in salute before knocking back another swig. "And those who tell 'em."

Cidra tilts her cup upward. "To fables." She sips. If that's any indication, she'll be nursing that one for quite awhile. The grin is returned with the faintest-of-smiles curve of her lips. "Like war stories, I suppose, save more pleasant to recall. In any case, to the op. As I did say my senior officers had some concerns. Many of them will be laid to rest in the preparation, I suspect, but my Captain Vakos and Lieutenant Trask did bring up a valid point. I realize traditional aerial bombardment would be useless against a facility of this nature, but we *could* make use of a targeted nuclear weapon."

"Mmmph. Pleasant bullshit. Y'all know what they say. Old fishermen never die." An appropriately long pause for comedic effect follows. "They just smell that way." And laughing his sudden, booming laugh, Pewter polishes off what's left in his mug with a tired but satisfied sigh. For a moment, he makes as if to pick up the memo he'd be working on before the CAG dropped by; then, perhaps thinking better of it, he chucks his reading glasses on the desk and leans back in his chair. Cidra might catch a glimpse of exceedingly bloodshot eyes before his homely features move out of the light. "Nukes." Noncommittal. Perhaps he's waiting for Cidra to say more. "Huh."

"The thinking, which I find some logic in, is that it would allow us to assault the facility in a way that would not endanger our ground personnel," Cidra does indeed go on. "A nuke could be launched from one of our Raptors if deployed correctly. I know not how feasible this is, given our weapons supply, but it did seem a valid consideration."

"That would not endanger our ground personnel." Pewter repeats that particular bit of Cidra's justification, chewing on the words like he would a toothpick. "Uh-huh." His chair creaks again as he tilts backwards and forwards in time to the tapping of a foot — and then with a slam he's sitting forward to look the CAG in the eye. "Ever seen a nuke hit a battlestar before, Toastie?"

"My only experience with such things is with the bomb that exploded upon us recently during the engagement over Tauron, sir." Cidra takes another sip from her cup. "Which was - and I do not mean to belittle the damage done - but small-scale. A battlestar is made to withstand nuclear attack, I know, though that naturally depends on where it is hit."

"Uh-huh." His reply comes almost before she finishes. "2031," says Pewter, resting his forearms against the table. "Right before they made me Corsie's XO, back when I was still head Weps. Some brass got it in their heads they wanted to make a big show for some visiting squints." Civilian scientists. "We'd just made a new nuke, I guess. Mean motherfrakker. I mean, mean. Megatons stacked atop megatons stacked atop couple kilotons to boot. So HQ comes up with this great idea. Shit, we got an old battlestar lyin' around collectin' dust; might as well put her out to pasture with a bang like one of Zeus' brass balls. Squints even tell us where to put this missile, all pattin' each other on the backs, yeah?

"So. I'm sittin' there runnin' the squawker — " His pet name for EXLORAD. " — from CIC with these suits behind me, and I'll be damned if I didn't guide that sweet missile in smoother'n knife through butter. Got her right there on the seal. But by the time we unfrakked our DRADIS, I was peelin' squint brain off my bulkheads 'cause that battlestar? She was still frakkin' mobile, and y'all know why?" Pewter pauses to let the words sink in. "Cause the geek motherfrakker who built that wreck figured it'd get hit. Now I ain't no fancy egghead like y'all's captains, but shit. The Cylons're out there buildin' skinjobs that get wet 'twixt the thighs when they see some guy without a shirt and y'all really think they didn't figure this Foundry might get hit?"

"I would…not refer to either of my captains as eggheads, sir," Cidra replies mildly. Sip, sip. "Noted. I would not have our precious supply of such weapons wasted if it has been determined a nuke would not properly destroy this facility. I do pray our Marines and technicians are able to gain entry through its shell, but Major Willows-Cavanaugh and Captain Mathers do seem to think it possible, and they do know assault engineering far better than I ever shall."

"Y'all's captains got more egg for head than me, Toastie." Pewter scratches the stubble on his chin as his eyes drift over to his drink. Nope: no more for him, though he does curse below his breath at the little claret half-circles that have appeared on his memos where his mug's been carelessly set down. "I got ears too, y'know. Some folk out there think this here dog's done got himself the oldtimer's. Other folk out there think ain't nothin' in this rattlin' head of mine to get the oldtimer's." His gentle grin breaks into a vaguely pained expression. "I was takin' a shit," he explains, not un-fondly. "Them folks was loud." Anyway. "Never really was into the fancy talk, y'know. Came up in guns, right? And not just guns. Flak. Point 'n' shoot. Y'all either make the ring or y'all don't make the ring. No need to hum and hem and haw. — Never was into the fancy talk. Never will be, either. But what I do got is 'bout thirty stacks of three-hundred-sixty-five days in the Fleet, and — " He pauses to do some multiplication. "All them days got to count for somethin'."

Cidra still has plenty left. She's nursing her drink. Faintest of smiles after another sip. "I have never accounted you stupid, sir. Though I do think you take advantage of being under-estimated on occasion. This is a thing I understand." Sip sip. And then, for something completely different, "Do you think Admiral Abbot is a Cylon, sir?"

"On occasion. Huh," says Pewter, and for a moment a flash of mischief returns to his dark brown eyes as he taps the side of his nose three times. But at the mention of Abbot, all semblance of levity disappears. "Case's still goin'," he says, ever so carefully. "Confidential. Hush-hush. Can't talk much 'bout it."

"I did not ask you about the case, sir. I asked you what you thought," Cidra says. "They are different matters." She sighs heavy, folding her arms on his desk, cloudy blue eyes looking across at him. There's a searching quality in those eyes. Looking to him for answers. Expecting he will be able to pull them easily out of the air. The way her pilots must look at her more often than she'd probably like. "Colonel…what shall happen to our Fleet if he is found guilty? Commander Kepner of the Areion and his people have not pressed the issue much but…" She leaves it hanging but Kepner ranks him and sits equal to Laughlin, at least. Riederer ranks Tillman. Baer ranks her. The implication may or may not be clear enough.

"Found guilty?" Suddenly, there's an unaccustomed sharpness in Pewter's tone. The implication of the CAG's second question is left alone for now as he gestures toward the still-open decater. Yeah. He will need another. PLZ BE THE POURING, MAJOR. "Let me tell y'all somethin', Toastie. I knew Mike six years, back when he was still on Vickie." The frigate Victorian. "I saw that insane motherfrakker go down to the surface of gods-forsaken Canceron by his lonesome and come out eight days later with the head terrorist in charge all shackled 'n' yessir-nossiring while the MPs read him his rights — just minutes before we were scheduled to glass the mines and the hundreds of hostages packed in there like sardines in a can." Pewter is breathing even more heavily now as he tells his story; his deep basso profundo is edged with evident tension. "Maybe he ain't a Cylon. Maybe he is. That's up to the court, not to me, and y'all bet y'all's sweet ass I'll flush him out the airlock myself if the verdict comes back and that's what's got to be done. But I just keep goin' back to all them hostages and wonderin' if they give a frak what in confoundation he is." His searching gaze fixes on Cidra's face, eyes unmoving — until, sagging in his chair, he bows his head. "Shit. I need that pour."

Cidra straightens, and pour she does. Brows arching some more at being asked to play bartender, but she does it without complaint. When Pewter is topped off she sits down again. Posture slouched. She's a tall woman and tends to slouch habitually, if she isn't watching herself. "I do not know Michael Abbot well. I served under him barely three months - gods, perhaps not even that - before his arrest. I agreed with Major Tillman that it was necessary. Supported him in the chapel. And yet…I pray he is not an abomination. I prayed it then. I pray it now." Longer sip. "Would we all of us be under Kepner then? If Abbot is put out an airlock?" She might as well actually ask the question she was dancing around before.

"Maybe." Now that he's got that drink, Pewter seems to be doing everything in his power not to drink it, instead staring into its liquid depths that've turned blood red beneath his desk's brass light. "They're not pressin' the issue, least not that I can tell. None of 'em." His gaze flicks up from mug to Cidra before darting back down to where it started. "Y'all don't trust 'em?"

"It is not that," Cidra says quickly. "Lieutenant Colonel Baer is a good man, and a very skilled pilot. I thank all gods he and his fly beside me and mine now. But I think they keep many secrets of themselves, even after we have been together for all this time. I ask myself what they were doing before the worlds fell and I cannot imagine the answers. I am not certain I want to. There were parts of the Navy that I…" She takes a longer drink. Grimacing some as she swallows. "I flew a Raptor and pretended I played the owl for the great shield of the Colonies. Yet I remember Parnassus, sir. It was a thing that should not be by our laws, yet we made it nonetheless."

"Ain't space to stick a hair into between a sword 'n' shield sometimes, Toastie." The pace of the colonel's speech has slowed considerably, as if even he's having some difficulty with his mangled syntax. "Sheeeyit." The man shakes his tremendous head backwards and forwards while he leans back once more. "Y'all been in long as me, y'all stop seein' blacks and whites. After a while shit all starts lookin' the same color."

"Some things are black and white…Gravel," Cidra says. Using his pseudo-callsign with the lightest touch of irony. "So I learned from the faiths. That we can sometimes make only the better of wrong choices does not make them not wrong, and it does not absolve us our sins." She sighs. "Well, we have as many sins to our name as whatever the Areion has amassed, I do suppose."

"Mmmmph." This one's delivered thoughtfully — with just a twinge of regret. "In less than a week, Toastie, I'm gonna order to my Marines to put ten bullets between the eyes of a man I called my friend." When Pewter does look up, it's with a wan and faded grin. "So y'all never understood the whole fishin' business, huh." A statement that's really a question. What a pivot.

"So you are so sure that will be that for Abbot, then." It's not really a question. Cidra finishes off her drink. Eyeing her mug, but she does not ask for another. "All honors to his service."

It's as if he didn't hear a word she said. "Y'all hear some top-notch bullshit 'bout how it's relaxin' for the soul," muses Pewter. "Rockin' back and forth on y'all's boat, lettin' the day go by. Me, I fished 'cause no matter how many I hooked, the damn stupid sumbitches just kept on bitin' and bitin' and bitin'." His expression isn't so much sad as pensive. "It was nice, y'know. Knowin' we ain't the only folks made by the gods who do that."

Cidra says nothing on the subject of fishing. She just looks a little wistful, and a little sad. "He is a lovely trout, sir," she says, standing. "Thank you for the drink." She'll take her leave, on that note.

"So say we all, Missus Cidra." Pewter sniffs at his wine before, with painstaking determination, he starts pouring it back into the decanter. "Y'all better stay with us." Which actually means goodbye.

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