PHD #262: No Easy Answers
No Easy Answers
Summary: Cidra and Khloe engage in a brief post-mortem of the Aerilon engagement, and look ahead to Tauron.
Date: 15 Nov 2041 AE
Related Logs: Not Out of the Woods
Cidra Khloe 
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: a hatch that locks. It is dominated by a blocky gray metal desk straight out of standard Navy supply. Behind it is the room's single indulgence, a high-backed rolling chair of almost comfortable-looking brown leather. That one, the CAG probably had to import herself. A few other chairs are shoved against the wall, able to be rolled over should visitors to the lair require one, though those are of the standard not-terribly-comfortable Navy offices variety. The aforementioned desk contains a computer that looks rarely touched and an ashtray of greenish glass that is obviously frequently used, as well as the standard office supplies. The surface is usually cluttered with files, squadron reports, flight schedules and other aerial bureaucratic sundry of the day. A metal carafe, filled with water or coffee or tea depending on the CAG's whim, is usually at hand on the desk's corner. The rest of the office is packed with filing cabinets and wall shelves, the latter of which hold various flight manuals and military and historical books. Any decorations on the walls are limited to professional awards and mementos from Major Hahn's past tours of service. It is largely devoid of the personal, save for one item: upon the shelf just behind and above her desk, serving as one side of a bookend to a collection of Raptor manuals, is a wooden statue of a small brown owl with very large eyes. A person might get the feeling of those eyes following him around this confined space.
Post-Holocaust Day: #262

Current Office Description Addendum - Cidra's Papers
The walls of her office have been covered in spots with papers, octagonal sheets taped in placed. At first glance, it's mindnumbingly boring aerial bureaucracy of the most mundane kind. Maintenance reports and work schedules, most of technicians on the hangar deck. They're arranged haphazardly, seemingly put up in order of whatever had captured her attention at the moment rather than anything coherent. They're covered with notes, scrawled in spidery chicken-scratch ink that's barely legible and most definitely isn't Colonial Standard (Old Gemenese, if one knows about such things). They're also covered in highlighting, mostly of names, dates, and plane designations. 2 May 2041 AE. 10 May 2041 AE. 23 May 2041 AE. 11 Jun 2041 AE. 05 Jul 2041 AE. 06 Jul 2041 AE. Sitka. Laskaris. Nostos. Emerson. Villon. Weber. Orr. Morgenfield, Morgenfield, Morgenfield, everywhere it appears. Coll, Coll, Coll, Coll, Coll, Coll - likewise emphasized everywhere it appears, lines occasionally drawn from her to Morgenfield where they appear together in one of the rosters. And they do in quite a few places, though given that they worked together on that Deck that's not unexpected.

The day after the Aerilon engagement, and the jump to Tauron space, and Cidra's been in meetings with Tactical and representatives from various departments all day. Doing a Command post-mortem of the engagement itself, and planning for what comes next. Whatever that is, it's apparently trickling down to her squadron leaders, as she's summoned Khloe in for a chat. Cidra's seated at her desc now. Sipping a cup of tea and smoking a cigarette. An odd combination, but not an uncommon one for her. Her desk has been cleared, a rarity these days, to make room for a small, flat planetary map of Tauron. Little markers already placed upon it in certain places.

The whistling sound of her office hatch opening and closing, followed by a familiar bang, bang, indicates that Cidra has a visitor. Likely by now she'd know who it was from the measured pair of knocks and the punctuation of booted heels. In walks Khloe, reporting punctually. Faint circles under her eyes betray that she's likely not slept since the engagement yesterday, or her sleep was not particularly restful. "Reporting as ordered, Major," comes Khloe's clipped and professional greeting.

Cidra doesn't look as if she's gotten a great deal of sleep either, though she's at least taken time for a shower. Being forced to interact with Command makes one pay some attention to their appearance at least. "Poppy. Have a seat." She's motioned to take one of the chairs shoved up against her office wall. "Tea?" Cidra stands, to refill her own cup whatever Khloe says to the invitation. As she pours she asks, seemingly out of thin air, "Are you a woman of the Faiths, Khloe?"

Khloe takes the proffered seat, taking a moment to get settled and cross her legs before replying. "No, but thank you," she answers in response to the tea. "As tempting as that sounds, and with as busy as I've been, but that's precisely why I should refuse." She cranes her neck a little, trying to identify precisely which tea she's using. But only a quick glance. "I… believe as much as the next person, I suppose, sir," she responds. Cidra probably knows that in Khloe's quest to be more pure and free of external influences, she's never been one to invoke the gods. "Why?"

Cidra takes a sip as she seats herself again, quiet for a moment. As if summong something to her mind. And then, just as suddenly as she asks the question she recites, "I sing of Artemis Khryselakatos, with shafts are of gold, own sister to Apollon Khrysaor of the golden sword. Over the shadowy hills and windy peaks she draws her golden bow, rejoicing in the chase, and sends out grievous shafts. With a bold heart turns every way destroying the race of wild beasts." One of Artemis' hymns. Recalled from her memory as easily as a birthday or repeatedly-dialed wireless number. Well, the woman is a Gemenese seminary drop-out. Though she's always a little vague on why she went into the Navy rather than completing her training as a priestess of Athena. "And when she is satisfied and has cheered her heart, then Theroskopos Iokheaira, the huntress who delights in arrows, slackens her supple bow and goes to the great house of her dear brother Phoibos Apollon, to the rich land of Delphoi, there to order the lovely dance of the Muses and Kharites. There she hangs up her curved bow and her arrows, and heads and leads the dances, gracefully arrayed, while all they utter their heavenly voice, singing how neat-ankled Leto bare children supreme among the immortals both in thought and deed." She recites the hymn with the same quality of projection in her alto voice that she often uses during briefings in the Ready Room, albeit with a somewhat more lyrical rhythm.

Another pause, as Cidra sips her tea. "I made the offerings to Hermes and Hades for Lucky last night. And Artemis. Alessandra Sophronia. Callsign Lucky. I do not know which of the Lords and Ladies she was devoted to, if any. But she always did strike me as an Artemis daughter. Not so level-headed as Athena. But more passion. In her was the hunt."

Khloe studies her superior's face as she recites the hyms. There's a hint of an uncomfortable shift at the beginning, but there's something of a charmed, serene look crossing Khloe's facial features by the time Cidra is done. Then, she snaps out of it, shifting in her seat again and adopting a more stoic frown. "I've been going over the information regarding yesterday's attack as it's made available. I remember seeing Lucky's Viper, and she was information, and she was fighting true. Until I'm satisfied, I won't be saying farewell."

"I remember the first time I met Lucky," Cidra says, almost going right past what Khloe said to her. Reflectingly. "I mean, really met her. Beyond what you say to a new pilot when they are handing your their reporting-for-duty paperwork. She was helping to paint a mural in the chapel, and making eyes at Anton Laskaris. Lasher." She says the man's callsign with a certain fond snap, like she's cracking a whip. She chuckles. "I am not certain she ever quite forgave me for putting him over her in the Knights, and not because she coveted the position. Well, say what you will about Lasher but he had the sense not to dally with his subordinates. Too much sense for either of their own good, perhaps…" The slightest of smiles, though it's touched with somberness now.

Khloe's brow creases briefly. "Major, I don't mean any disrespect," she begins, voice softening a little. "I barely knew Lucky, as a person, beyond the numbers. I certainly regret it now. But, I'm not entirely sure I'm the right person you should be reminiscing with. Hell, I'm not even sure if there was fault at play, either on her part, or mine, or her Viper. I need to know the facts before I'm ready to get to… what you're getting at. Mourning." Inscrutable Cidra is inscrutable, naturally, and Khloe knows this: "Unless you're getting at something I'm just too cold or too tired to notice."

Cidra's sips her tea, watching Khloe over her cup. Cloudy blue eyes difficult to read, as they tend to be. "Lasher. Lucky. Ibrahim." All names - however she holds them - of those who held the Knights squadron leader position at one time. There are some in the Wing who say it's cursed, and Alessandra's death as likely only cemented that opinion. Not that Cidra herself ever says such, of course. The CAG believes in curses, and does not lightly invoke them. "Review after KIA is quite standard. But Lucky knew her business in the cockpit. We have lost many good souls, Poppy. We shall lose more. Sometimes there is no better reason other than to save our ship demanded a sacrifice. Or that, good as we can be, the Cylons were better. All the perfection of aerospace engineering, all the well-honed skill…all it takes is one time for the Fates not to be on your side, and none of it matters anymore."

That's where Khloe tends to draw the line on faith. "Major, I'll speak frankly," she says, apparently not finding it necessary to ask for permission, first. "You have been like an elder sister to me, in all the times I've known you. But I don't believe in fate. I believe that we're only as good as we are. All it takes is for one mistake, or for one Toaster to out-perform a pilot, and boom. Say your goodbyes." She sighs quietly, shaking her head. "No, I don't believe in the Fates," she reiterates, perhaps for her own good. "Lucky died because something went wrong. Malone crashed because something went wrong. Decoy lost his Viper because, again, something went wrong. All of this is on my shoulders. It's my responsibility to resolve any issues that have yet to be uncovered, so that the next time, we're better than the Toasters, and we minimize our losses." She shakes her head. "I'm… sorry." Heavy disappointment settles on her features, and her rigid posture slacks a little. Clearly she's taking yesterday's fight hard, and probably blaming herself for all of it.

"Before I took this assignment, I could count on one hand the number of pilots and ECOs lost in my squadrons," Cidra says, focusing more intently on Khloe now. "The night the Cylons attacked Picon, the night we fled them, one-hundred and forty-seven were lost in an instant. And we have only increased our tally since. I thought I would go mad after Picon. After Virgon and Leonis. After Audumbla. I thought I was the most poorly-made soul for this in the worlds, and the least deserving of the your good service. Well. Perhaps I am. But we are what remains…" She sounds unsure whether that's good or bad, so she just lets it trail off. "I have made many mistakes. I have done things I account horrible that were necessary. My officers shall judge me for it now, and I am sure the gods shall judge me for it at my end." And she sounds more resigned than anything else to what her Lords will of her. "But we are what remain, and we must do the best we can with the pieces we have. For my part, I saw no immediately actionable error on the part of Lucky or Splash or Decoy. Or yourself. But a full post-mortem is prudent. Just do not expect to find easy answers in it, or easy blame."

Khloe shakes her head. "And I'm not looking for blame. I'm looking for answers to the ongoing problem of dealing with the Cylons in a skilled and tactically superior fashion," she says. But, her eyes drop down and her shoulders continue to sag. "Last night was the first loss that I've ever had, under my command. So you know how I feel." She peers up at Cidra, and some of the life-hardened Khloe fades away and reveals a very vulnerable and passionate junior officer from nearly a decade back. "I don't feel sorry for myself. I simply… don't like feeling this powerless."

Cidra has no immediate reply. For a beat her eyes go past Khloe, to the papers she has pinned and taped up on near every free bit of space on her wall now. Over the highlighted names, the notes in spidery old Gemenese. "No easy answers…" she mutters under her breath, as if hearing an echo of her own words in her head. She does not appear to like it much. A quick drag is taken off her cigarette, and she tears her eyes away from the wall. On Khloe again. "It will not get better. And Lucky shall not be your last. Honor her service and her sacrifice, and remember her name. I keep a listing of all the names we have lost in my drawer, because they deserve at least to be remembered for the price they paid for this ship. There is little else one can do, and the tide moves ever forward." She clears her throat. "Speaking of. To Tauron."

Khloe straightens up at the change of conversation; now it's back to business. Whatever uncertainty or melancholy the normally stone-faced woman was letting her Major and friend see is quickly stowed. "Yes, I…" She clears her throat, moving to sit at the edge of her seat. Better posture that way. "I see that you already have something planned, sir?" She indicates the map by lifting her chin and nodding towards the top of the CAG's desk.

"Tactical is making plans, but we shall do our best to carry them out," Cidra says, sitting back in her chair so Khloe can see the map. "The Cylons have abandoned Tauron, same as they did Sagittaron and Aerilon. There is again hope of recovering people and salvage on the surface. If somewhat less so here. Tauron was hit far harder than Aerilon, particularly in its cities, and its population was more heavily concentrated in urban areas than Sagittaron. Still, we have a duty to seek what we might find. Our first order of business is to find a suitable area for a base camp on the surface. Our Vipers and Raptors shall be tasked with first flyover duty of certain identified areas, to see if they are suitable before ground personnel are sent in."

Khloe glances at the map - geography, like most academics, was never a strong point in her education. Still, she knows the rules and regulations for planetary survey and atmospheric CAP. "I'll meet with Bootstrap to coordinate our efforts, then, since survey's more about the bus than the Vipers. But naturally, they'll need protection. Do you think standard CAP formation of two-to-one is sufficient, or should we double-up?"

"Escort protection, yes, and do not discount the ability of Vipers on search and survey as well," Cidra says. "Particularly in urban zones, when we get down to salvage work, they can go fit in some places Raptors cannot. Standard CAP formation shall do fine. We cannot afford to dedicate too many personnel to individual runs. Vipers on Alert Five shall be on stand-by to assist ground personnel should any…complications arise. The Tauron population does not have the record of insurgency that Sagittaron did, but they were not all kindly beholden to the Colonial government. We shall find what we shall find."

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License