PHD #165: Keepsakes
Summary: Trask and the CAG make a delivery to Colonel Pewter.
Date: 10 Aug 2041 AE
Related Logs: How Sweet, Vengeance
Cidra Trask Pewter 
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: #165

It's been months since the machinations of Major Tillman put Andrus Pewter in this room, yet the Colonel still hasn't bothered to change around the pictures on the wall. Yet months of occupancy have nonetheless generated noticeable — if not entirely intended — effects on his office decor: Abbot's many ashtrays are nowhere to be seen, while a magnificent collection of fine spirits and liquors is strapped to the bookshelves by thick velcro bands (to protect them in case of turbulence, no doubt).

Not that Pewter has the time to enjoy himself. Even now, after a shift in CIC and another in the naval offices, the man still works — burning the midnight oil beneath the dim light of a single brass lamp on Abbot's oaken desk. He's going over dated reconnaissance photographs, from the looks of it, holding a magnifying glass in one hand and an old-fashioned fountain pen in the other. He's the very model of an explorer of old, with only his duty blues to distinguish between him and a figure out of legend.

The CAG keeps her promises, and pays what she owes. Such it is that brings Cidra knocking at Pewter's door this night. She's polished herself up for the occasion. Duty blues neat, hair swept up with more care than usual. There might, just might, be an extra edge of formality about her as she approaches the CO's quarters. Propriety turned up to eleven. But, like all things with her, it's subtle. "Behave yourself," she says simply but firmly to Trask, before knocking.

"Uh-huh," Pewter grunts. Which, in CO-speak, means 'speak, friend, and enter.'

Reproducing the spitshine and polish that he displayed at the Colonel's triad game the other evening, Lieutenant Kal Trask looks the very image of a model officer. "I always do," he murmurs to the CAG, eyes forward, the faintest flicker of humor briefly tugging one corner of his mouth. The issue is whether or not he behaves well or badly. Following Cidra's lead, he shows all the proper respects and stands at attention.

Cidra spares the briefest of glares at Trask, before proceeding into the colonel's den. She straightens. She salutes. She stands at attention. "Colonel Pewter, sir. As I did say, my Lieutenant Trask did wish to have a word with you."

Pewter glances up from his pictures, squinting slightly as light from the lamp filters through his magnifying glass to illuminate the dark, pockmarked skin of his face. "Toast," rumbles that distinctive voice. "Evenin'." The colonel groans as he unbuttons the top of his stiffly-starched uniform, swallowing hard to clear some phlegm from his throat. "Sorry it took so long to get to y'all. Shit." Gravel chortles lowly. "It's what happens when y'all tell Red y'all's meetin' ain't urgent. And this — " A big finger points in Trask's direction. "This boy here must be Bootstrap. Sit."

Yes. This would be Cidra's Lieutenant Trask. Unlike some, being called a boy doesn't appear to offend him. Any wry amusement he may find from it isn't evident, however. "Aye, sir," is replied, the salute held until instructed to sit. Even so, he lets the Major have her choice of seat, "Thank you for allotting the time to meet with me, Colonel. I'll endeavor to utilize only that which is necessary."

Cidra sits quietly, letting Trask say his piece. She's mainly here as a spectator. Though she does regard Pewter as she sits, legs crossed and posture straight. The tall woman has a tendency to slouch. Not today. She eyes her CO in that vaguely weighing and probing way she has of eyeing things. Though if she makes anything from it, it's not readily apparent.

"He always talk like that?" Pewter wonders idly, leaning back in his chair and reaching for the coffee mug he always keeps nearby. Sniff. Lukewarm. Figures. "Y'all're my last appointment. Keep on yappin' until I conk out, feel free, just make sure to close the godsdamned hatch behind y'all. Didn't happen yesterday night and — " Rueful humor finds its way into his tone as he takes a loud gulp; then, despite himself: ah-choo. "Think I caught a frakkin' draft."

That question regarding his manner of speaking is something he lets Toast vocalize the answer. The subtle way his lips curl, coupled with a certain gleam in his expressive brown eyes may or may not adequately convey his opinion about the matter. "Were I not responsible for the VAQ-141, busy planning four high-risk recon missions, working on analyzing the most recently acquired Cylon technology, and trying to find a way to better mask our Raptors' signatures for the aforementioned recon missions, I'd take you up on your offer, sir. As it stands, I'm gonna have to request a rain check." Well, maybe /that/ also answers Pewter's question about Bootstrap's manner of speaking. "I'll be certain to close the hatch, though, even if it hits me on my ass on the way out, sir."

True to his word, however, the El-Tee doesn't dally. "For the time being, if I may, I would like to present this to you, as I feel it should be in your possession." Just what that is remains to be seen, for the item is hidden within a small swathe of neatly folded cloth that is held in the hand that was not raised in a salute. Even so, Trask waits for permission before advancing.

"Uh-huh." Having set down his fountain pen at last, Pewter finds himself with a free hand — which promptly moves to brush the crust from the sides of his tired eyes. Thick fingers cause his glasses to ride up on his forehead while he rubs out knobs of stress from his forehead. And in the meantime: "He always this pompous?" The words are spoken not to Trask but to Cidra, who sits in stolid and not unexpected silence. Not that the man really expects an answer as he taps the bottom of his mug on his desk.

Thud. Thud thud.

Code, perhaps, for 'give it here.'

"He is generally worse, sir," Cidra replies without missing a beat. Tone dry. "Lieutenant Trask is in sore need of further house-breaking." Tone level. "But so far as electronic counter-measures go, I assure you, there are few better." Silence again after that, so Trask can make his presentation.

"You really find me pompous, Toast?" It's a direct question, although perhaps not an earnest one, if the undercurrent of 'tsk-tsk' in his voice implies anything. Rising, the small bundle if offered to the Colonel. Should Pewter deign to see what's wrapped inside, he will find the tags of Major Michelle Bartholomew. Some scrutiny will even reveal a bit of dried blood in the crevices of a few letters in her name. Either way, more seriously, Trask continues, "She died as a result of the wounds she incurred while drawing Heavy Raider fire away from Captain Quinn and myself when we were forced to eject from our Raptor." Briefly, he pauses, and quietly clears his throat, for emotional things never rest well with him. "I'm grateful for her sacrifice. It will not be in vain."

"We go to war with the assholes we've got, not the assholes we want," is Pewter's response, spoken with not a hint of levity — though his worn and bloodshot eyes do glitter beneath the dim light when he hears the distinctive jingle of dogtags in the loosely-wrapped bundle.


Slowly-moving hands open the package with dull deliberation while Trask talks, and the end of his little declaration is met with the clink of metal hitting metal hitting desk. Almost as if moving by rote, Pewter reaches for the looking glass and bends over the thin hexagonal slices, his expression blank — nay, inscrutable.

"Assholes like her," he mutters at length, breath fogging the convex lens. "Shit." Spoken to mourn, not to condemn.

"We do the best we can with the pieces we have left, sir," Cidra says soft in echo of Pewter, if with less profanity. For her part, she does not sound all that put-out with what she's got to work with. Wry, certainly, but not displeased with them. She just watches the colonel as he takes the tags. There's a certain measure of sympathy there though, like him, she lets little else show on the surface.

"We go to war with assholes, period, sir. On both sides." Fight with them and against them. That is all the ECO adds about that. "For whatever they are worth, Colonel, I offer my condolences. I scarcely knew her, but I know that she risked and subsequently lost her life in an attempt to save mine. That's all I really need to know, as far as I'm concerned."

"Yeah." The word is short and clipped, spoken while Pewter twists the beaded metal chain around his left hand. The pressure causes his dark skin to lighten, tracing angry lines across the plane of his palm. "That was one nutty frakkin' bird," he mutters, almost fondly. "This — this one time. Hah. Sent a picture of herself to my wife. Corny took it the night she made Major and took the entire godsdamned tac staff out for a night on the town. Ended up slidin' half-naked down the bar shoutin' 'Launch all Vipers' and — " Low, deep laughter fades into reflective silence. "Nutty frakkin' bird," he mutters after a moment, the stillness broken only by the sound of dogtag grinding against dogtag in that large, unflinching fist.

Then, after another: "Y'all got more for me?"

Cidra's blue eyes widen as she gets that picture in her head. She does crack a smile, though. Again, it's one not untouched with sympathy. "All honors to her service, Colonel," she says, soft but fervent. A slight shake of her head at the last. No more from her.

That's a story that Trask can, and does, appreciate. "Sounds like I would've liked to have known her better." Ruefully, he smirks. Then, "No, sir. She was the Corsair's only groundside casualty. And at the very core of it, she died because a missile blasted into my cockpit. It was her decision, but that doesn't change what the catalyst was. I'm accountable, which is why I wanted to personally see to it that those tags were returned to you." It is something important enough that he safeguarded them throughout the all the crap that transpired on Leonis.

"Cut the bullshit, Bootstrap." Pewter's fist — having incrementally relaxed — now tightens once more, and his knuckles press against the edge of his table as he leans forward to bring his head out of the light. His small eyes narrow further behind the horned rims of his glasses, the reflections from which cast rippling shadows across the photographs on his desk. "I read the report. She died cause a Cylon Raider jammed her body full of enough lead to poison a small godsdamned city." The rhythm of his words is far more precise than normal, punctuated every so often by the trill of the dogtags now dangling from his thumb. "So the Cylons blew up y'all's plane. If it wasn't y'all, it woulda been someone else, and — my hand to the frakkin' Lords — I say to y'all straight, she'd've been out there wavin' around that peashooter of a gun for him or her or — "

Pewter stops abruptly, pressing his lips together until, suddenly, the tags tumble from his palm — falling on top of the recon photographs in a flash of silver and steel. "All honors to her — " His hand — still criss-crossed by the marks from the chain — scrabbles for his mug, from which he chugs the remaining contents with abandon. "All honors to her service."

A toast to the fallen; then: "Dismissed."

Cidra gives Pewter one last, long look. Hers is now less inscrutable than it is searching. Again, hard to tell if she actually finds anything. "Come on, Kal," she says, rising and turning to depart. She does not precisely wait for Trask, but he's obviously expected to hustle along with her.

"All right, Colonel." The CAG can chew him out later. After all, he's just doing what the CO instructed. "You're right. If it wasn't my frakkin' plane, she probably would've done something else fatally foolish and ended-up dead long before we got off that frakkin' rock. Doesn't change how she ended-up going." There is no apology in Trask's tone. No backpedaling. Even though, the volume doesn't raise. "Now, that might not matter to you, but it sure as frak matters to me." It doesn't take long for him to start veering between sardonic and blithe. "Frankly, I'm not big on pomp and ceremony. I also don't give a shit whether or not you give a shit about what I like or don't like. Major Hahn or the CMO or pretty much anyone else could've returned those tags. It mattered to me, though, that I be the one to do it. And whether or not it matters to you that it mattered to me, I also don't care." Which, really, is the truth.

That all said, he adds his voice to the chorus with, "All honors to her." Having finished cutting the bullshit, at least for the time being, he snaps off a cursory salute. "Sir." Thus dismissed, he departs with, "Thank you for sparing the time. I am aware that you are a very busy man." And unless he's going to be taken to task, Kal is out that hatch, making pointedly certain that it is fully closed.

Most men would rise to the bait. Andrus Pewter does not. He spares one final glance at the bloodied dogtags on his desk — and then, making a mental note to clean them in the very near future, he's opening up a drawer and placing them quite gently inside a shoebox half-full of others. Back to work.

Better than collecting snowglobes, right?

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