PHD #477: Lovey-Dovey
Summary: Khloe and Trask discuss lovey-dovey things in a thoroughly non-lovey-dovey way.
Date: 18 Jun 2042 AE
Related Logs: Assorted Khloe and Vandenberg logs; assorted Khloe and Trask logs
Khloe Trask 
Flight Simulation - Deck 11 - Battlestar Cerberus
A training room specifically dedicated to honing aerial skills, this area is equipped with several flight simulator pods that allow the pilots to practice maneuvers and tactics without being in a real live plane. The Viper-pods are installed on one side of the room with a little space between them, an attempt to provide a realistic feel for close-range wing training, while a smaller number of Raptor sim-pods are installed on the opposite side of the room from the Vipers. A central computer terminal and overhead display screen sits at the head of the room, where one can input exercises and data to be run in the sims, scroll through score records, and control the training modules.
Condition Level: 3 - All Clear
Post-Holocaust Day: #477

As the actual severity of the fleet's condition has dropped off since the Kepner Mutiny, and there have been no Cylon attacks or any other Condition One situations, things have gotten a little stale. Enter Captain Vakos, who has already taken the initiative to start working on some new sim programs to throw at her Knights. Currently, Poppy is struggling with one of the side terminals, not taking up the master display with her simulations - yet, anyway. The privilege of high rank certainly lets her use the big equipment, but for now she's just struggling her way through the first data sets and letting the computer produce the results for her. Ah. the woes of being mostly computer illiterate.

Oddly enough, Poppy is dressed in her fatigue greens, including the overshirt that matches the pants (although it's unbuttoned, showing tanks and dog tag underneath). Beside her terminal, on the floor, is a reasonably-sized duffel, which likely contains several days' worth of clothing… or one day plus a flight suit. Her flight helmet sits atop the closed bag. These days, she apparently travels ready. Then again, she's not been staying in the pilot berths nearly fifty percent of the time. Who knows if the rumors have finally filtered back through the Wang.

"Okay, who the frak are you and what have you done with Poppy?" Perhaps it's the sight of the Knights' SL in her duty greens that has finally pushed Bootstrap far enough to comment about Khloe's recent shifts in behavior. For his part, the Harriers' SL is dressed in his flightsuit, having just spent the past few hours in a parked bird while on Alert Status. To combat the boredom and to save time, the man handled paperwork and then tinkered inside the Raptor, the latter largely accounting for why he is in a fairly decent mood. Working with his hands has always had a way of putting the rest of him more at ease.

Drawing closer, the electrical snipe turned knuckledragger turned ECO pays little mind to the notion of personal space, being rather keenly interested in just how personal his fellow Captain is getting with the sims. For a moment, he merely quietly observes. Only for a moment, though. "I suppose this is where I offer to show you a more efficient way to configure what you wanna configure, followed but you frowning and ultimately stepping aside to be shown this better way."

"Whathmm?" Comes the distracted reply from the fellow Reluctant Captain, tearing her eyes to glance over her shoulder at the entering Kal Trask. "Oh. Bootstrap." Her eyes drop down to look at herself, as if to remind herself that she's not in uniform blues with polished buttons and buckles and boots. "Right. Uniform's harder to maintain when I'm away from my locker. Figure I'd not waste the fresh sets that I have right now on the times between making it back there." Glancing back up at him, there's a brief hesitation in her face before her expression hardens back up to usual Poppy Stoicism. "And greens are perfectly acceptable attire when not dealing with matters of squadron leadership." Which, of course, is precisely what she does most of her waking hours when she's not working out or eating or sleeping. Or, away from the berths. Take your pick.

Looking back to her screen, she says, "Trying to craft new Viper sims. I didn't find any scenarios in the computer that were modernized for Gemenon CAP engagements. You know, nothing more interesting than a typical BARCAP. Mainly looking to design strike, fast, and SAR scenarios that deal with both orbit and atmosphere." Clearly, someone is planning for the upcoming shitstorm that is likely to be Gemenon.

With typical Bootstrap blitheness, he responds with, "As long as it doesn't affect your job performance, I really — truly — do not give a frak that you are having regular sleepovers in your girlfriend's bunk." Maybe the rumors really are all over the Wang, or maybe he's just more observant and respectful of privacy than others are inclined to believe. The comment about the greens does conjure an amused smirk that carries to his eyes. He is, after all, the living poster boy of getting all things done while wearing duty blues as little as possible. In fact, it's quite feasible that the last time he actually wore his officer's uniform was when he returned the dog tags of Major Bartholomew to then Colonel Pewter on the 10th of August, last year. In light of that, he really doesn't have to say a word to point out the silliness of Poppy's protestation.

Although no computer genius like Marko, the Taurian nonetheless knows his way around the sims better than most. Basic programming was part of his electrical engineering curriculum, and he's since gone on to build on what he knew to find ways to benefit the Air Wing. Having Flasher around has certainly been a boon to Bootstrap's continuing education. "Marko's been consistently updating our Cylon meshes and Ay-Eyes, so whatever you need for basestars should already be in there. As for in atmo, easiest would be to take the Gemenon data and transpose it to the plethora of Sagittaron scenarios we have. The program can crunch the numbers and interpret the differences in terrain, weather patterns, and whatnot."

Computer forgotten for the moment, a certain rigidity fills Poppy's posture, perhaps predictably, at the comment about her 'girlfriend'. She doesn't respond right away - in fact, she's holding her breath. When she does speak, though, it's strained through a tight jaw. "Do me a favor, Boots, and keep your voice down. All right? I figured people would guess eventually but I do not need the grief or the teasing." She exhales the rest of what she was holding on to, almost like a frustrated, quiet sigh, and she spares a quick glance back at him. "How long have you known? Frak, have people figured it out? The last thing I need is performance problems because of my… well, distraction. It's been a distraction since day one. If you think it's an issue…" She trails off, frowning at herself, doing exactly the same self-doubting that she did originally with Vandenberg in private. Another sigh, this time sounding like a huff. "Never mind. Don't answer that."

"Teasing?" It's flatly asked. "Really?" It's a wryly incredulous look that is leveled. "I hadn't realized that 'Poppy and Vandenberg sitting in a tree' was a chart-topping hit." To the rest, he remarks with the same wryness, "Please. We all know that I won't keep my trap shut if I think there's a problem. Right now? Dunno. It's not like I'm stalking you, so I can only comment about what I publicly see. You still do what's required and expected of you, and there's no crime in smiling more. Not even for a sourpuss like you." At which point he smiles in that rascally way of his, although it doesn't linger. "And even though it's a bit jarring that you're spending your designated off-duty time doing non-work related things…" No innuendo there, although one could be forgiven for assuming such. "…as long as you're not breaking any regs, you're entitled to spend it however and with whomever you want."

That said, Trask still notes, "But when you start freaking out and scratching the inside of your arm raw, then it's a problem." Which is his way of letting her know how he knows, how long he's known, and that he's not convinced that Khloe is in the clear, so to speak. Addiction is an ugly thing, after all, and he has an entire pre-military lifetime of enduring substance abuse fueled abuse to be wary about such things.

"Look, would you frakking just stop, you insufferable jackass?" Khloe half-snarls in a timbre which is considered 'normal Poppy operational parameters' - a commanding alto with quick, quipped speech through a clenched jaw. At least she hasn't lost fire. "I got a reputation at Tau Garrison when I chopped my hair off after a bad fling. I managed to quell it there. The last thing I need is for morale to suffer around me because someone doesn't approve of my… relationship choices." Trask may or may not know the rumors of when Khloe was stationed on Tau Garrison, when she chopped her hair extremely short as a form of relationship dismissal towards her then-squeeze; he had accused her of acting like a 'prudish dyke' when not proceeding fast enough in their relationship. Poppy has never responded well to testosterone-laden bravado.

At the mention of her punishment of her scarred left inner arm, Khloe folds her arms across her chest and gives him a pointed look. Now he's crossed the line from 'annoying camaraderie' to 'personal accusation'. "I'll submit to a blood test at any time, Boots, if you think I'm back on the sauce. But I really don't see the connection between relationships and morpha. Perhaps you'd like to elucidate?" Frowning Poppy is frowning, and she's probably unaware that Kal saw her scratch her arm raw when Vandenberg was away on her Gemenon mission.

Poppy's righteous indignation rolls right off of him. "You really don't get it." There's nothing snide about Trask's manner. Dismayed, yes. Perhaps even disquieted. For a weighted moment, he just looks at her, somewhat pained and decidedly pensive. "When she was gone, you acted like a junkie in need of a fix," is quietly and firmly explained without rancor. "Had she not returned, or had she returned in bad shape… Yeah. You might well have gone out and gotten high. And, believe me, if I thought you had, I would've done everything within my power to have you removed. The fact that I believe you're capable of it, though, is a problem. And after Sweet Pea's stunt, I'm extra wary about all manner of lovey-dovey stupidity going about."

"She's already returned in bad shape. That's what clued me in that I had feelings for her in the first place," Khloe explains; not that Trask needs a run-down as to how these kids met, but he gets one anyway. "And please, you're not even remotely close to being CAG, so don't pull this high-and-mighty crap on me, especially when everyone else knows that I scratch when I'm down on my game. Tired? Scratch. Sick? Scratch. It's a habit. My veins itch, Kal. Sometimes, that just happens. And I have no one to blame but myself if I go back after half a lifetime of being clean. But you get something straight right now - " And she rises out of her seat. She's just shy of looking him directly in the eyes, a testament to how tall she carries herself when she wants to be imposing. "Ever since day one of joining the military, I have been capable of it. I'm still capable of it. And I live with that every frakking day. So don't you frakking lecture me, mister. I'm quite frakking aware."

"Really." It's flatly spoken like a rhetorical question that really is just calling 'bullshit'. "When's the last time you scratched it so much that it bled and scabbed over? And were there accompanying mood swings?" But then Poppy is on her feet. Even so, she can rise all she wants to; she's not going to get a rise out of Kal. "I'm not lecturing. I'm just telling you how it is. And I know you know. I don't at all doubt that. And I really wish I had something constructive to say, but I don't. All I can really do is be ready to perform any damage control that may become necessary."

Frowning and quiet for a moment, Poppy changes her attitude slightly. It's clear she's sensitive about the topic, perhaps overly-so, especially when bundled with her newfound willingness to allow herself something outside of the tight framework that is duty. "She's happy, you know," she begins. "Sweet Pea. For the first time in a long time, I've seen her happy. She's my best friend, Kal… maybe the only true, deep friendship I have aboard. Natalie doesn't even come close." Meaning, of course, Captain Vandenberg. "You call it lovey-dovey stupidity, and a couple of months ago, I would have agreed with you without hesitation. Now?" She rolls her shoulders, glancing away. "I don't know, Kal. I don't know."

Jerkass that he can be, there truly is good heart hidden somewhere deep within that fortress of factiousness that he erected from all his trauma and emotional scarring. It's why he's never preyed on Poppy's own turmoil, and why he's always made a point of not making her feel any more threatened than being vulnerable innately would. It doesn't mean that he lets things slide, though. "Contrary to popular belief, I am not opposed to people being happy. But answer me this: if you were incapacitated for a week after nearly dying on the operating table, and you were being kept off the flight line because your injuries were so severe that you'd hemorrhage to death in the vacuum of space, and you had a second you trusted to be in the field because you couldn't, what would you call it when said second went ahead and did something they full well knew would take them off the flight line for several days?"

The Harriers' SL is not done, though. "Then factor that this second did not at all follow the Chain of Command and instead went over your head to the CAG to get permission, even though the CAG isn't the one running your squadron. Oh, and that you found out about it all from someone other than your second. And not once while you were scrambling to get someone else to fill the unexpected void your second willfully created did said second seek to make any amends or offer apology or anything. What would you call that? 'cuz, honestly, lovey-dovey stupidity is being very generous, in my estimation."

Smirking slightly, Khloe offers in response: "I'd call that someone who doesn't make good leadership decisions. Someone who should probably be skipped during the next promotion eligibility. But really, who's more at fault, here? I don't mean this as a slam, Boots, but think about it: you were the one who put her in charge. Injuries or not, she was your 'second'. Just like how Drips is mine. And let me tell you, there are times I think he's a frakking idiot. He's probably not a Cylon, but this whole 'dream' nonsense has got to stop. Certifiable, probably." Meaning, he's crazy. "But I suppose you have to be certifiable to fly several tons of metal at supersonic speeds."

"As Toast is fond of saying: we make the best of the pieces we have." Or something to that effect. "I'm not shirking my share of blame in putting her in-charge, though." He really isn't. Hells, he even apologized to Leyla for putting her in a position she so thoroughly was ill-suited for. "But I spoke with the Matatau after I found out what happened. And I know you were there. And I also don't doubt that, once upon a time, you would've questioned the questionable timing of her little ceremony and that, evidently, you didn't. I know it's not your squadron, but we fly and fight and die together, Pops, and the Harriers and the Knights do so more than we do with any of the others. What she did affected us all. That you failed to realize it or maybe that you just don't care?"

There's a deep disappointment in his eyes that accompanies his faint frown of displeasure. "It's over and done with, but I'd ask that you still keep it in mind. If one of your people was doing something stupid, I'd sure as frak bring it to your attention."

"I'll do my duties until the day I die or they discharge me," Khloe explains, her attitude remaining to a quietly roiling point somewhere below 'seething'. So she's no longer angry specifically at Trask. "And yes, I was there. And yes, I do care. But I'm not going to question the actions of a capable officer not under my command. And I especially wasn't going to say no to the only friend that I have."

Jaw tightening slightly at the last bit, she responds only with, "And I would inform you, as well. I'm not omniscient, Boots. I presumed she had permission. I presumed she had cover. If it'll make you feel any better, I'll follow her around with a camera and send you periodic updates for the next time that she fraks up again, if that'll make things right." That stated, she glances back at her computer. "Look, can we save this for another time? Help me make this damned machine do what I want, please."

A sidelong look is leveled at Khloe, complete with the gleam that always comes to his keen brown eyes when an opportunity to offload incisive observations presents itself. That smart mouth of his starts to open, but then his sentiments hang suspended on the ensuing intake of breath. The sass and the snark are there, contorting his suddenly uncooperative mouth, and the pensive furrowing of his brow is suggestive of restraint. After a moment, Trask simply settles upon saying, "Fine. I'll accept your raincheck for the witty rejoinder." If only because he's recently committed himself to making a concerted effort to choose being constructive over proving that he's right. And these sims won't program themselves. "So," he begins, actually helpful, "the first thing that needs to be done…"

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