PHD #448: Many Matters
Many Matters
Summary: Cidra and Trask discuss many matters, including the Harriers, Bannik, Gemenon, McQueen, and schisms.
Date: 20 May 2042 AE
Related Logs: Bad Bannik (Kinlochard); Waiting for the Signs (Bannik tries to 'recruit' Cidra); Memoir: A Gemenon Manifesto (Bannik's first outcry); Memoir: A Second Manifesto (Bannik does not STFU); Memoir: A Letter for Cidra (Queenie's letter to Cidra)
Cidra Trask 
CAG's Office - Deck 10 - Battlestar Cerberus
Though it's not much bigger than the average ship supply closet, the office of the commander of Cerberus' air group has as much luxury as one can hope for aboard a battlestar: privacy. It is dominated by a blocky gray metal desk straight out of standard Navy supply with an equally standard-issue rolling chair behind it. A few other chairs are shoved against one wall, for those who drop by for whatever business they have with the CAG. The surface of the desk is covered by a computer and stacks of files and octagonal papers covering whatever bit of aerial bureaucracy she's mussing with that day. A few heavy books on air mechanics - mostly devoted to Raptors - occupy the shelves.

The room is largely devoid of decoration, save one item hanging on a hook on the shelf direct above her desk: a set of prayer beads, well-worn olive wood and strung with a single, crudely-carved owl charm.

Condition Level: 3 - All Clear
Post-Holocaust Day: #448

Cidra is ensconced in her office, hatch slightly ajar, as it ever is when she's on duty here and not busy with someone in particular. She's going over aerial maps of Gemenon space at present, making idle notes on a gridded paper with a red pen.

Ever one to have his plans, his contingency plans, and contingency plans for his contingency plans prepped in advance, there really isn't much more Bootstrap can be doing about the upcoming extraction mission, what with how there is no new intel to take into consideration. This does not mean that he is lacking things to do. Arriving with a light rapping atop the hatchway, he simply admits himself inside because, hey, the door is open, and Cidra really should know that he takes that as an invitation. "Toast," is the simple greeting. "Got some stuff to go over with you, sooner than later." Point of fact, he's carrying a folder.

"Boots." Cidra greets him without looking up from her notating, though her eyes tick up after making a quick circle on her paper. "There are many matters to go over in these times. What is occupying you this day?"

"A couple things," which isn't an illuminating answer, but it's the one she gets while he closes and dogs the hatch. "Let's say it's Lady's Choice as to which one gets tackled first." Drawing closer, Trask tells her the options: "We've got Harriers foo, Fighting Fourteenth foo, and even Fleet foo. Take your pick."

"Ah. I had presumed this had some matter to do with Gemenon," Cidra says. "But all right. Let us start inward and work outward. What is this business of yours with the Harriers?"

Pulling up a seat, he plops down and gets comfortable as befits someone expecting to be sitting for a while. "Performance reviews," is how he chooses the start. "About a month shy of a year since I took over, and I've been spending the past few weeks seein' what progress has been made since I took aside everyone shortly thereafter. I'm overall pleased with my findings, but I really wanna press harder for cross-quals."

Cidra nods short to that. "It is prudent, and with everyone but those recently out of Nugget training, I concur should be a priority. I have set Lieutenant Bran upon that already, after his promotion. He has the strongest base in terms of piloting skills, and I do not think it shall take long to get him into shape where I could assign him to cover CAP shifts in that capacity. I shall be doing a bit of flying with himself, as I can carve out time for it." The CAG was an instructor before she took her battlestar post, and there's clearly still part of her that misses it. "We need to get you properly qualified for Raptor piloting as well, once you are cleared by Medical." She has not forgotten.

Neither has he, which is probably why he's been hitting the piloting sims extra-hard since being off the line. It took at least six (6) months for him to stop thinking like an ECO when in the pilot's seat, but now that he's past that point, Trask's been progressing rather quickly. "Obviously," he snerks about his needing to qualify and just leaves it at that.

Moving on to the next matter, since they are in agreement about cross-quals training squadron-wide, the SL notes, "I'm also lookin' to switch-up pairings. I know it's traditional that duos tend to stick, but I've been thinking that might be limiting. And seeing how some of the pairings I made a while back have met the objectives I intended, I'd like to make some rearrangements that I believe will improve overall squad performance."

"Order the flight assignments how you think best, Boots, you need not my permission for matters of that nature," Cidra says. "Though I would personally be wary of disrupting pairings that coordinate well together. If the Fleet does undertake more in-depth operations on Gemenon, it will call heavily on our Raptor contingent, and the pilots and ECOs should be able to operate without too many new variables to consider. Still, do as you see fit. Is there anything more with your squadron?"

"See," and here is where he rests his forearms on the desktop and leans closer, "I'm not disagreein' with you, but I also don't want our people /too/ comfortable. And, yes, I realize that's a bit of a dick move 'cuz, really, who doesn't like a sense of stability in a time of uncertainty and chaos? It's just that if we have an opportunity to prepare people to be more adaptable, I think we should take it. The moment Jugs was off the flight line, I started regularly rotating pilots. And, yeah, I frakkin' /hated/ it, at first, but I also don't doubt that it's helped me become a better backseater."

Furthermore, the man notes, "Besides, as it is, in recent months, apart from CAP rotations, the bulk of our default pairings have been switched-up during scrambles and, thus far, they've actually worked out well. Whether it's Shakes and Sweet Pea, or Pens and Poms. Plus, with Jugs back on the roster, I kinda want someone to observe her. I know she has the chops, but I wanna allay any doubts that anyone might have about her head being in the right place. And even though I believe I can be objective, I have to take into account that some people might be concerned that I can't. And although my natural inclination is to tell 'em to frak off and grow-up, it's not something I really should be dismissing as their Cee-Oh."

"I flew with Jugs myself before she came back on the line. I do find her more than ready. And I am certain she is most glad to be back in the cockpit. The only way a pilot gains confidence in another pilot is to fly with them. That is true whatever the case," Cidra says. "I still do caution not to disrupt routines too much. I want to have a good sense of how personnel work together before sending them off on any future missions. Still, handle it as you think best. I shall not tell you differently unless it becomes problematic."

For whatever reason, the SL has sought to keep the CAG in-the-loop. Perhaps he genuinely values her opinion, or maybe he's making a point of setting an example when it comes to open lines of communication. It could be a bit from Column A and a bit from Column B. Whatever the reason, it's a far cry from him just outright doing whatever the hell he wants. For all his recalcitrance and protest at being saddled with a command position and more responsibility, he's certainly grown into it. In the end, it appears to have been a good trade-off: his sense of freedom lost but a feeling of empowerment gained.

All that said, the man merely nods in response to Cidra's input and then moves on to the next point on his Harriers agenda. "So, as you're aware, in light of recent events, Snake Eyes has been acting as my second. He's a fair hand at it, but it's far from ideal. Jugs definitely has the seniority in years and in rank. She led the One-Four-One before I did, and she ran the Cavaliers before that. She knows how to do the job and she knows what is required of a leader. If she's up for it, I wanna make 'er my deputy."

"I certainly have no issue working with Captain Quinn in a command regard," Cidra says. "I had my pick of squadron leaders when I took command of the Fighting Fourteenth, and she was among them. And she is, by far, the most senior pilot in the Harriers. Including yourself. It shall keep command stream-lined, particularly with Sweet Pea more occupied with the Hyperlights. Again, her duties and other obligations permitting. I suspect many of the older pilots would be glad to look up to her again. She has been missed by many on the line."

The forefingers of his left hand idly tap out a syncopated beat, which isn't uncommon when he is pondering something. Almost abruptly, he then leans back into the chair. "I trust 'er with it. And we've handled the scheduling issues. Kalli's set, even during Condition One, and that definitely makes a big difference, so I think she might be up for it." Bootstrap certainly would be more at ease with Quinn covering his back. That kind of confidence is a rare commodity, and he's still feeling somewhat burned by his former second-in-command. To his credit, though, his mouth only /faintly/ twists with distaste at the mention of Leyla, and there is no cutting remark.

Instead, Trask asks, "So, what's the deal with Bannik? Has he gone off his nutter or what?"

Cidra has little to say on the matter of Kalli, so long as that is settled. "Very good." As to Bannik. Slim frown knits her features. A troubled one. "It appears quite likely. I am honestly surprised he is being allowed to wander the ship and spread his particular brand of nonsense. No good can come of it, Boots. Mark me." She exhales long. "He actually came here, to me. Trying to get me as a… convert, you might call it? For that foolishness he is spreading with his 'manifesto.' I half think the Cylons brain-washed him when he was on Gemenon, Kal, I truly do. Though Sawyer still seems in possession of her faculties."

"Sawyer comes by her skepticism honestly, and she has a lot more good sense than she's given credit for," is all he says, not explaining what is meant by that. "Bannik, though…" That's something else. A small frown forms, follow by an admission, and once more leaning across the desk. "Look, to be honest, I don't really pay any attention to the Elpis beyond keeping it safe from external threats, but even /I've/ heard talk that this stuff is being plastered all over there, which means that it's getting outta hand. He said his piece. I don't have a problem with that. What I have a problem with is that he now needs to shut the frak up."

It is here that he levels a somewhat wry, very knowing /look/ at Cidra. "I mean, come on. You and I both know that I have /no problem/ whatsoever when it comes to telling Command what I think." And they both know that he's pretty disrespectful in the way he goes about expressing his dissent. "But even /I/ do it behind closed doors. He's crossing a line that is unbefitting for anyone who wears the uniform. This isn't some whistle-blowing on war crimes or otherwise repugnant behavior. He spoke up when he was being silenced, which, honestly, doesn't bother me. Yeah, it was somewhat ham-fisted, but whatever. It should've ended there, though, and it hasn't, and /that/ concerns me."

Why does that concern him so? "I don't want another Kinlochard incident. We let that shit slide because, hells, the worlds were nuked and it wasn't like he'd ever need to pull another such bone-headed stunt to try to track down his loved ones. Now, though? I honestly don't trust him to not tamper with our systems again in order to make a case to get the Wing to go where he wants. I don't care if he's probably the best avionics technician we have, I really don't want him touching my birds."

"Specialist Bannik's work I have never had reason to distrust. His sense, though, especially now, I am less certain of. Whatever happened to him on Gemenon clearly left him changed, and not for the better to my mind. I shall speak to Chief Damon about it. I have a few other matters to go over with him, anyhow, and he has been difficult as all hells to catch of late." Cidra frowns slim again. "What do you make of it, Boots?" A pause and she clarifies. "I know not quite what Sawyer told you of what she saw on Gemenon, but we have all seen the recordings from the recons. It all disquiets me great, but I cannot for the life of me make good sense of it."

"If it were just about his work, it wouldn't be an issue. It's about what he's done and what he's likely to do. I trust him to fix something that's broken. I don't trust him to not manipulate data and systems to get what he wants, seeing how he's already done that once before. And the crap he's spouting goes beyond finding him mom and his girlfriend." Trask is being very logical in his condemnation.

As for Gemenon, "Make of what? That Cylons and humans are seemingly living in sweet harmony?" Wry, that. "You'd probably be better off asking someone who isn't nearly so misanthropic." And, blithe delivery aside, he really is no fan of people. Not at all.

"I do not know about that. Part of me near wants to believe this is all a trap. I am perhaps just searching for agreement." Cidra slightly wry, on that note. She shrugs. "Or perhaps just clarity. Gemenon is home to me, Kal. I shall not even claim to be impartial on the subject, even if when I left I wanted to shed all traces of it. Anyhow. You had more matters for me?"

"There's somethin' I /can/ tell you. Whether or not it'll make anything make more sense to you… well, you tell me." That said, he reveals, "I think that if Queenie really wanted to sell us out, he would've found a way to injure himself so he'd be off the flight line when we were dealing with the swarms in Audumbla." Flipping open the folder he brought with him, Trask pulls out and deposits in front of the CAG a small stack of detailed assessments written by each of the Viper SLs, as well as several of the Wing's top jocks, including Dizzy and Drips.

"The numbers don't lie, Cid," Kal continues. "He suffered more flight degradation than anyone else out there. It wasn't evident, at first, 'cuz he's so damn slick on the stick, but the longer he was out there, the worse he got." Whereas everyone else's level of suck seemed to plateau. "He went out there knowing that he was as mortal as the rest of us. No downloads. No resurrection. No whatever the frak they do when they get killed. So, it comes down to whether or not that means anything to you. Whether or not you believe those Elevens who said he really wanted to be one of us. And whether or not you think he'd sell out the people he was willing to die for."

Cidra takes the reports and for a moment just reads them in silence. She doesn't even look up from them when she speaks again, staring at them as if they contain some answer. "McQueen wrote me a letter." Which he probably knows, not that she's ever spoken of its contents. "McQueen said it /would not/ betray us, during all those sorties. That it made a choice. Part of me *wants* it all to be a trap…" And yet part of her clearly does not.

"From where I'm sittin', he appears to have been telling the truth." It's a simple observation, although his expression is tinged with a certain compassion, as if he's aware that this is difficult for Cidra. For a moment, Kal's silent, trying to determine what, if anything, to say next. "For what it's worth, I think he was on the level. I really do. Does that mean he still feels that way? Dunno. I guess it comes down to whether or not he can withstand being a pariah, and that's something we won't know until it becomes evident. I can tell you, though, I think he's in a really bad place and that not many people can withstand being torn up like that."

For a beat it seems Cidra's going to say something more. But she does not. She just puts down the flight reports and stacks them, neatly, on her desk. Those will be kept. And likely reviewed obsessively later. "Perhaps it does not matter now. I can try to divine motives for what it did all days long, and find no answers. All I have is its strange post-cards that it left behind." Wry look at Trask, on that note. She saw the missive to him from Queenie, and cannot unsee it. "Is there anything further, Boots? We shall have some report back from Gemenon on the morrow. One way or another."

Is there anything further on that particular subject? Actually, there is. "I rightfully can't say that I knew Queenie all that well, 'cuz I didn't, but I /can/ say that you calling him an 'it' isn't something he'd ever wanna hear should all that he claimed actually be true. Now, I'm not sayin' to implicitly trust him," because Bootstrap is extremely stingy when it comes to trust, "but I meant what I said about being a pariah, Cid. If Cylons truly were made in our image, that means they embody all that is monstrous of our own make. But, just as few and far between as it is to find something good about humanity, it stands to reason that this capacity exists within them, as well. I advise you to meditate on that. Because if he really is carrying a torch for you like Sawyer says he seems to, you just might be the one to make or break what he's willing to do."

"Your lecture on courtesy is ironic, Boots," is Cidra's flat reply to the criticism of her use of the word 'it'. "The skinjobs were not born of man and woman. Gods knows how they were created, but we know the Cylons undertook abominable experiments upon both Centurions and humans. McQueen is not a man." As for that last, she frowns, deep. This is a matter that clearly troubles her. "McQueen and I were never lovers, Boots. Nothing like that was ever between the pair of us. At one time I thought…" She pauses, as if not quite sure how to put this. "…I thought he… it… whatever you prefer to call McQueen. I thought there was an understanding between us. We used to speak at times of the Gods, of the nature of universe. And fate, and eternal return. I have few friends. But before all the mess with the Areion, I would have called the McQueen creature one of them. Now I do wonder if it is all just manipulation. Lies, to draw us toward whatever strange purpose the Cylons have on Gemenon."

"I wouldn't say it's so much courtesy as it is decency, Cid." To wit, he smirks somewhat sardonically. "Anyway, frakking or lack thereof notwithstanding, there's nothing to say that you really didn't have that connection. And, yeah, it's also possible that it's all some great ruse. I still maintain that it's doubtful, and I say that as someone who thinks most people — whether human or non-human — suck." Which is to say that him giving McQueen the benefit of the doubt is no small thing. "You have the reports. I've listed where the compiled footage is stored in the digital archive. Go over it. And if you still wanna maintain that they'd go through so much trouble, that's your call. Me? I just can't bring myself to follow such convoluted thinking. I will say this, though: whatever strange purpose they may have, I have a feeling that those Twos and Elevens will do whatever they can to safeguard us until they get what they want. After that? All bets are off."

"Schisms within schisms. All we have seen points to some division within the Cylons, so I can believe that latter part. The question is why, and what shall they do with us when they are done?" A sigh and shrug from Cidra. "Questions neither you nor I can answer. I will watch the tapes. Though I suspect Poppy and Drips and the others have gotten as much out of them as can be gotten. Is there anything more?"

"Some things you just have to see for yourself." Whether that pertains to the Cylons and their agendas, or to the flight footage, or both isn't all that evident. As for anything more, Bootstrap pauses, considering his reply. There is something else, but he decides that it can wait, so he opts with, "Nothin' that needs to be discussed right this moment, but I do have some Wing-wide contingencies I'd like to go over with you, soon."

"In the event of… whatever many events may await us on Gemenon, I presume?" Cidra nods. "I shall roundtable properly with you and Poppy and Broadside and all my senior officers when Command digests what the Marines bring back. When *we* bring them back." A note of firmness in her tone, on that point.

It's faint, but one corner of Kal's mouth wryly curves. "Gemenon and beyond… but, yeah. Somethin' like that." Thus, with what he wanted to cover more or less covered, the SL rises to his feet. "I'll let you know how things pan out with, Jugs. Hope to have an answer before our," that being his and Cidra's, "next session." In the flight sims.

"Do as you will. Dismissed, Captain." And with that, Cidra settles back into her chair, with her McQueen-centric flight notes. She has the courtesy to wait until he's gone, and hatch closed, before lighting up a cigarette.

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