PHD #427: Honors To Your Service
Log Title
Summary: The events of the 15th of April are carefully reviewed.
Date: 29 April 2042 AE
Related Logs: From Hell's Heart, To Fly And Fight And Die and We Are Evocati
Burke Cidra Khloe 
Ready Room - Battlestar Cerberus
With the hatches at the rear of the room, the walkways on both sides slope down towards the dais at the front of the room. The stadium seating forms a partial semi-circle around the speaking podium and provides enough seats for all three hundred members of the Air Wing. The walls are adorned with the patches of each squadron aboard and their mottos stenciled in white lettering above each one. Behind the podium is a set of large LCD screens that can display any matter of material from reconnaissance to maps to gun camera footage.
Post-Holocaust Day: #427

Eveningtime, or what passes as evening on a battlestar in the void of space, marked by the ticking away of numbers that the chronometer shows, and the changing of the types of food served at the galley. The room is well-lit, nothing currently displaying on the large screen or any of the smaller side LCD screens. Captain Khloe Vakos stands by the speaking podium, looking fresh from a shower, dressed in fresh and pressed uniform blues. Rumor has it she doesn't have much of a personal life, and as a result lives, eats, and breathes the Navy. She's a hard mistress. And when Burke arrives, she turns and gives him a stoic glare, folding her arms across her chest.

All the way from the berths where he was tuning his guitar to the Ready Room, the crew of the Cerberus were treated to Breakout talking to himself. As he walks down the fourth deck hallway: "Now Ah know Ah didn't forget t' disengage that." As he hurriedly trots down the stairs: "Maybe she saw … ? Nah." As he turns into the corridor leading down to the Ready Room: " … mad about havin' t' sign that ol' guitar. Ah knew it." As he turns into the Ready Room, however, all conversation with himself ceases and he offers his best impersonation of a military salute to Khloe. And impersonation it is, for Burke never really got the hang of 'military bearing'.

Cidra is in attendance and trussed up in her blues as well, hair neatly in place, standing next to Khloe at the podium. The COs are all here. Usually ominous. She stands quietly, shooting Khloe a sidelong look while waiting for Burke to arrive. What she may or may not be trying to impart in it is unclear. The CAG is an inscrutable creature.

"Mister Burke," sharply says when he arrives. No rank, just 'Mister'. She returns the salute but she drops it quickly, her gesture nowhere near as smart or sharp as his. "Get over here, now. We have things to talk about." A pause. "I see that you've found a way to unglue your guitar from your person." Ah, that must be it. The guitar.

"Uh, yessuh," Burke nods his head curtly, clearing his throat as unobtrusively as possible; "Ah left it in the berths. Ah only take 'er places with me when Ah'm off duty." He is slightly taken aback, although he obediently closes the distance between them when asked.

"Ensign," Cidra says simply and mildly to Burke. For her part, she makes no mention of the guitar. She just watches him, in that mildly appraising fashion she has of watching things.

Khloe turns to the podium, retrieving a remote control that was tucked in the shelf beneath the document rest. "Mr. Burke, we have a problem," she states in her usual command-alto, which is none-too pleasant a timbre. Clicking the remote, footage is played back of Breakout's theft of the Mark VII.5 from the Areion's hangar. "Do you see something wrong here, Mr. Burke? I believe your callsign - which is far too good a callsign for someone so young - was earned because you appropriated a Viper in order to escort the carrier." Now, if memory serves, Poppy's order during the battle was, 'Fly it like you stole it.' Why she's changed her mind now is unknown.

"Escort th' … " Burke's brow furrows, shaking his head a few times as though trying to grasp particularly complicated mathematical formulae after a lobotomy, "Ah … can y'all explain that diff'rent, suh? Y'all sayin' Ah was tryin' t' help the Areion?" He looks up at the display, mouth slightly agape.

Cidra's brows arch a notch at Khloe and Burke, though she still says naught. One might notice the CAG is holding a folding, an octagonal blue one with the Colonial Navy symbol stamped on it in gold. She idly opens it and skims through its contents, making a soft "Ah" sound. She might as well be reviewing her daily memos while they chat.

"There were a lot of things going on that day that were unclear, Ensign. You may find it in your best interest to listen, absorb, and offer rebuttal when one is asked for." Khloe's posture straightens and she squares off with Burke, not quite invading his personal space. She clicks the remote again, showing a graphical plot of the stolen Viper's trajectory. There was an initial herky-jerky and erratic flight path that Burke was following as he wrestled with the modified controls; that flight path is not directly in interception with the ongoing engagement. "Now. Your actions that day are under scruitiny, Mr. Burke. You have one opportunity to defend your actions and explain yourself." She glances quickly at Cidra, her eyes alighting on the folder, then she focuses back on Burke again. Eyes slightly cooler than burning.

"Well, by y'all's leave, then," Burke says, growing silent when chastised for speaking out of turn. He clasps his hands behind his back, staring up at the screen and scrutinizing the video on display here. He waits for the moment, though, not ready to yammer away again unless he's asked to.

"Speak up, Ensign, we are waiting," Cidra says promptingly. Not so cool as Khloe, but still rather stoic. Eyes tick up from her folder. To watch him.

Nodding at Cidra's words, Khloe eyes Burke, then goes to stand behind the podium. She rests both hands on its edges, glowering down at Burke like some sort of predator bird.

"Jus' over a year ago Ah was flyin' crop dusters," Burke says, hands clenching tightly together behind his back, "Ah ain't so much as seen a Vipuh a'fore that. Bad stuff happens, Ah end up on th' run. 'Ventu'ly, Ah end up with y'all. Ah got my first ever look at a Vipuh 'bout six months ago. Didn't start flyin' one for real until after that. Then, my first CAP? Ah get blowed up by them Areion boys. Locked up in prison, ain't gettin' no pref'rential treatment, as Ah'm sure y'all can vouch for, Loo-tenant Colonel." No 'Boz' for Cidra this time, he must be serious.

"Ah got shot," he starts counting on his fingers, "One time. Two times. Three times. An' some ol' fool even shot a bazooka at my dang ol' head. When Ah finally got a chance t' actually do what Ah was recruited t' do in the first place, it's in one o' them customized birds. Now, Ah ain't never seen th' inside of a Vipuh seven ought five, let alone fly 'un. Ah did th' best Ah could. But y'all reckon if Ah was tryin' t' help them Ah woulda done somethin' more than shoot at 'em ever chance Ah got?" He's gesturing at the screen now, visibly steamed for probably the first time since he arrived aboard the Fleet, "Y'all can call me a redneck or a bumpkin or an idiot or whatever y'all like. Ah don't truck wit' names. But Ah ain't a traitor, and Ah ain't gonna be called one."

At first, Khloe gives a slight eyebrow-raise. Then, she cracks a smirk, and glances sidelong to Cidra. "What do you think, Colonel? Do you think we can clear him of all charges of treason? He certainly has spine; I don't think I've had a single Nugget or Ensign stand up to me like that since you promoted me to Knights Es-El." She's shuffling something around behind the podium; Burke might get a glimpse of two small box-shaped objects.

"Give him all he deserves, Captain," Cidra says in that inscrutable fashion of hers. "He has earned it." Eyes flick to those boxes. Is there a hint of a smile playing on her lips? Perhaps.

Burke may simply be too stubborn or dense to realize a potential joke at his expense. So, he simply lifts his chin and stands at attention as best he can given his relatively short time in the military. He continues to stare up at the footage on the screen, as though scrutinizing his own flying.

"Ensign Burke," Khloe begins, stepping down from around the podium. In her one hand she has two squarish boxes, appropriate for holding medals. "First and foremost, Breakout, you were a prisoner aboard the Areion. And you dutifully held fast, did not abandon your ship nor your shipmates, and managed to escape - all during a time of war. For this, I am authorized by command to present to you the Colonial Fleet POW Medallion." She cracks the lid from the top box and displays the POW medal.

"Second, due to actions above and beyond what is expected of an Ensign - especially a crash-course pilot like yourself - " Khloe smirks when she says that. "- I am authorized by command to present to you a Fleet Commendation Medal." That box, too, gets cracked open, so that both boxes are open side-by-side in her hand. She offers her right hand to shake. "Congratulations, Breakout. I was frakking with you. And, you passed the Poppy test."

"Commander Pewter approved all the citations himself, and yours brought him particular pleasure," Cidra says, allowing herself a proper smile at Burke now. "In addition to the decorations he wrote you a letter of…I suppose you could call it a commendation letter. Of sorts." She clears her throat and begins to read. Thankfully for all concerned, Cidra Hahn does not attempt an Andrus Pewter imitation.



29 Apr 2042 AE

FR: CDR Andrus Pewter
TO: ENS Beauregard "Breakout" Burke
CC: LTCOL Cidra "Toast" Hahn (CAG: CVW-14); CPT Khloe "Poppy" Vakos (SL: VF-154)
RE: Commendation

Ensign Burke,

On April the 15th of the 2042nd year After Exodus, during the Kepner Mutiny and captivity of myself and the other leaders of the Fleet from captivity on the Areion, you fought with valor during our escape and in the hangar bay, and never showed less than good conduct and courage despite having been shot down and captured mere hours before. Further, you displayed daring and initiative by repurposing a Viper from the Areion's hangar deck and using it to join your fellow pilots in the space battle. You showed yourself to be a credit to your ship, your comrades in arms and this Fleet, and you have my personal thanks.

We ever find a lake to put down next to, I owe you a fishing trip.


Commander Andrus Pewter

Rather more formal than the CO is in person, but it bears his signature nonetheless. Cidra hands Burke the folder, which has letter inside, laminated. "Honors to your service, Ensign."

If Burke were to attempt speech, it would likely come out as something not unlike 'buh' but he keeps his mouth shut and avoids (for the most part) looking stupid. The joke on him is lost in the haze of things for now and he extends a hand to shake Khloe's when it is offered, the other reaching to take the folder which he looks at almost like it may suddenly explode. He then lifts his gaze back up the pair, still silent.

And at this, Poppy laughs. "I think we shocked him, Cid," she says sidelong to the Lieutenant Colonel. "Probably going to give him a huge chip on his shoulder when he finally figures out what the frak just happened." Setting the boxes down, Khloe takes out the medal and the commendation. "If you'll allow me, Breakout." And if he does, she'll put the medal around his neck and affix the commendation to his uniform.

"The Commander regrets he could not present you with that personally, but his duties press him very much this day," Cidra says. "He said he would make it up, however. I mentioned your project with the guitar to him, and he said he be most honored if you asked him to sign it." She hangs back, letting Khloe pin Burke, though she fishes into her pockets to draw out another little box. Which is /not/ presented to the ensign. "To attention when you are finished, Captain."

Burke nods once more, and it is likely he would be far more enthusiastic if he still weren't, for the most part, entirely dumbstruck. He lets the medal be draped around his neck and the commendation be pinned to his chest. He takes a step back, allowing Cidra to do her thing while he turns the medal slowly in his hands and peers at it curiously.

Khloe frowns, doing a double-take and looking at Cidra. When her order for attention is realized for what it is, she snaps-to, heels together, but a concerned look crosses her features.

Cidra opens the box to reveal…a medal. Which can't be /too/ surprising, given they're presently being handed around the Wing and the ship at large. She clears her throat. "Captain Khloe Vakos. From all accounts, the Fighting Fourteenth fought most well all around to punch a hole through the line of Evocati. And continuing to fight to keep that line clear for our evacuating Marines. The Knights displayed particular gallantry under heavy enemy fire and were instrumental in assuring those Raptors made it past the Areion fighters. Thusly, you are awarded the Fleet Commendation Medal, with valor device, for your conduct and courage on April the Fifteenth, in the Battle of Ophion." A pause. "The Commander is of the opinion a few more of the Knights are due the Commendation Medal at the very least. They fought most bravely, and are a fine credit to you."

It is only now that Burke snaps out of it, looking up as the medal is awarded to Khloe and clapping his hands together loudly so that the sound reverberates throughout the Ready Room. He even throws in a whistle for good measure, grinning broadly, "Black Knights! Woo!"

At the appearance of a medal, Khloe looks immediately relieved. "Thank you, Colonel, sir," she says in resposne, her voice lightly cracking. "Honors to the Knights. They fly well, and I agree, many of them have proven that you don't need a fancy name to pilot well. It's not just skill. It's determination, and courage." A pause. "I thought you were going to promote me again. Gods help me."

"Not quite today," Cidra says obliquely, though there's pride in her eyes as she affixes Khloe's medal to her uniform. "I have done so not so long ago, after all. Though you wear that much rank a little easier today than you did then, I do think." A short nod. "As you were, both of you. You held that line, Poppy, and I am off the Areion and alive for it. There is little I can say but that I am grateful, but know it true. That is all. You are both dismissed. Take your liberty, for it is earned."

Burke fires off a quick salute, followed by a slightly formal bow to the pair of them and then turns about on his heels to head towards the hatch. As he goes … does he? Yes, yes he does. He jumps into the air, clicks his heels together, and disappears out into the corridor.

Khloe watches Burke go, and then with a smirk, salutes Cidra once the medal is affixed. "Thank you, Colonel. With your leave, sir."

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