PHD #063: Office Hours
Office Hours
Summary: The interim CMO brings difficult news to the admiral.
Date: 30 Apr 2041 AE
Related Logs: A Fair Few Words, Unfortunate Answers.
Abbot Bia 
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: #63

The admiral's massive oaken desk is perpetually covered by papers of all shapes and sizes, stacked in columns that vary in degrees of neatness depending on the importance he assigns to each. Clad in his starched-and-pressed duty blues, he's fiddling with what looks to be a travel guide bearing the label of the Cerberus' library: the Solitary Globe's edition on Northern Leonis, several pages within which have been dog-eared for ease of reference. Warm light peeks out from beneath the green-glass shade of his classic old-fashioned lamp, illuminating its pages while casting shadows everywhere else. Smoke rises from the pewter ashtray by his side, its recessed hollow already filling with the wreckage from the pack of cigarettes through which he's now burning.

Enter Lieutenant Bia, Interim CMO, all of ninety seconds late for what meagre time the Admiral has allotted to her. She takes a step in and her already-straight posture somehow straightens further as she forms her right arm into a crisp salute. A thick folder is tucked under her left. "Admiral, Sir."

The salute's returned from his seat, which creaks backwards so he can more easily make eye contact with the tall doctor before him. "At ease, Lieutenant. I've got some coffee in the pot if you want any, just as long as you pour me a mug as well." Abbot's tight smile reveals two rows of even teeth — remarkably white, too, given how much he smokes. "I read your initial report and I have to say, I don't like the trend." Just like that, with only a few seconds' worth of pleasantries, he's down to business. "I don't suppose you have better news for me this morning, else you would have written it up in a memo."

The crisp salute is smoothly unfurled from before Grace moves forward, crossing to the chair she'll shortly inhabit to set the folder down. Paff. "Hain't no shame in serving an Admiral his coffee, Sir. I'd be happy to take some." Despite the sunbeam-lazy cadence of her words, her movements from location to location are brisk and purposeful. Over to the coffee machine she goes, answering comments as she attends to the beverages. "No, Sir. I'm afraid I'm here to chase worse news after bad. There's two matters. First, we're done with inventory. The bad news is someone's helping themselves to the morpha when they oughtn't. The worse news is the records are in such a turvy we can't tell if it's a slow leak or a single large theft. I've already spoken to the MPs about this, and we're taking measures against it, but I wanted to bring word direct to you." Two steaming mugs are carried over to the oaken desk. The full one is placed in front of the Admiral; the half-filled one is kept for herself. She starts making her way around to her chair.

"Has been helping or is helping? And thanks." Abbot ashes his cigarette, stabbing it out with a twist of his fingers; then, to the coffee he goes, letting the smell of it waft up into his face before he takes a rather large gulp. The fact that it's steaming hot doesn't seem to bother him terribly much. "The former, while concerning, is less worrying than the latter, as you well know, but neither can be tolerated aboard this ship, can it." Each word is enunciated altogether too precisely to make him sound friendly, but his tone remains as cultured and smooth as ever. "I trust you'll handle the situation?"

"Situation's already being handled, Sir." It would be good news she's bringing — problem found, problem being solved — if it was about anything else, maybe. "Hain't something that could afford to wait even the three days between then and now." Grace eases down into the chair and folds her legs, picking up her folder and setting it on the edge of the table. Long fingers weave around her coffee mug, holding it against her topmost knee. "I'll keep you informed, of course. Gods willing it'll be a memo next time." Her coffee-coloured eyes crinkle a little at the edges, but the usual warmth there is muted and hesitant. She takes a moment to lift her coffee mug for a testing sip, then a deeper one, before sliding the mug onto the edge of the table. "Second matter, Sir. I'm afraid it's a nettlesome one."

A momentary smile tugs at Michael's thin lips at the mention of a memo, but whatever comment he was about to make he keeps to himself. At the doctor's question, he raises his mug off the table in invitation, steely eyes watching steam rise in thin smoky tendrils to fog his light's green glass. The message is clear, at least to him: you talk, I'll drink.

"One of my staff spoke with me last night, powerful upset about a memo from your office." The Interim CMO doesn't get fidgety — instead, the graceful ease she carries with her stills to something more purposeful. Her eyes don't waver from the Admiral's face. "I understand there's an execution scheduled for next week."

Oh. Down goes the mug very, very carefully, its beveled steel bottom clinking dully against polished wood. "There is," the admiral confirms, his icy eyes frozen on his opposite number's face. You can almost see the cogs in his brain burning rubber as they make a note to talk to his MPs about 'information security' or whatever it's called in jargon. "And that information is not to leave this room, Lieutenant. Are we clear?"

Are they clear? Grace's gaze doesn't waver, but her shoulders square slightly, and her mouth, so often touched with a patient smile, thins slightly into a line. She doesn't confirm his ramrod-direct question. Instead, she says, smoothly, "Sir. So few of us left, it seems a terrible time to throw souls away over what was right and proper three months' ago."

"Careful, Lieutenant." Abbot's smile is back, though it does nothing save accentuate the hard planes of his face. Half in darkness, it emerges into the light as he leans forward to set his wrists on the edge of his desk.

"Hain't more careful I can be, Admiral. It's a fair point I'm making, and I stand by it. I realize this hain't something we're liable to see eye to eye on." Grace's head tilts just slightly, her chin coming up a fraction. "If you're set on telling me this execution's going through because it's what's deserved, then that's the answer I'll take back to the one what brought this up to me."

"I'm aware of the numbers." The edge in Abbot's voice is muted but audible as he takes another sip of coffee, dabbing at his mouth with a handkerchief he's produced from a drawer left ajar. "And I'm also cognizant that I'm responsible for the continued safety and security of this Fleet, especially now that 'Fleet' happens to be synonymous with 'the last remnants of humanity.'" Deliberate hands fold the white fabric over to cover the stain. "The decision was not made lightly or thoughtlessly, despite what your — " A short caesura allows him to find the proper word for Bia's mysterious informant. "Despite what your well-connected friend thinks. So I repeat: that information is not to leave this room, Lieutenant. Are we clear?"

"Weren't my intent to imply you made this choice lightly, Sir, but I wouldn't be much worth if I wasn't here putting these objections forward." The firm and slightly imperious cast eases, ever-so-slightly, when Grace's hide remains unflayed by the Admiral's words. "It's your duty to keep us safe and strong, and it's mine to keep as many of us living as the Lords let me." Then, finally, the acknowledgement comes, along with a single slow nod. "Order's clear as clear can be, Admiral."

"That's good to hear." Abbot isn't terribly much a fan of the hide-flaying thing, but it's certainly an arrow in his quiver of 'ways to reprimand insubordinate subordinates' — which, fortunately for Bia, remains next to 'note in service record' and 'pistol' for now. All she'll get this morning is that frozen and level gaze, which pins her to the bulkhead for a full five seconds; then, very mildly, the admiral makes his point. "And don't ever imply again that those duties are mutually exclusive, Lieutenant." The smile returns but for an instant. "Dismissed."

There's a backbone in the Interim CMO, at least — she holds that steely gaze with as steadily as she might hold a scalpel. "Admiral, Sir." And up Grace stands, reforming into a smooth and stately salute. "Appreciated the coffee." The folder is scooped back up and tucked under her arm, before she makes her brisk departure.

"That's also good to hear." And with just the tiniest of twinkles in his eyes, Abbot turns his attention back to the travel guide on his desk. Planning his next vacation, perhaps? But that's between him and the next unfortunate to enter his office, a fresh-faced young man who looks absolutely dazzled to be here: "Thanks for coming in, Crewman. Take a seat. I've got some coffee in the pot, if you want any, on the condition that you also refill my mug…"

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