PHD #140: Sacrifices
Summary: The after-math of the basestar engagement-turned-suicide-mission. They don't cover this sort of thing on a standard post-flight checklist.
Date: 16 Jul 2041 AE
Related Logs: Bye Bye Birdie - Air Wing
Cidra Trask Tisiphone Sitka McQueen Psyche Devlin Evandreus 
Hangar Deck - Port - Midship - Battlestar Cerberus
The single largest rooms on the Cerberus are the hangar decks. Each flight pod consists of two stacked landing bays with adjoined decks and hangars, which along with computer-assisted landings results in a faster Viper recovery rate. Mirror images of each other, these two huge areas are located on the flight pods. The inboard sides of the deck, closest to the ship's main hull, are lined with parking and maintenance bays for Vipers and Raptors based aboard the battlestar. The outboard side of the deck contains the launch tubes used by the Vipers for standard deployment. Huge blast doors seal the deck into four sections, each one containing an elevator that leads up to the flight deck directly overhead. The fore-most section contains an elevator system that leads towards Aerospace Fabrication.
Post-Holocaust Day: #140

Cidra's Raptor touches down. Not quite so pretty as her landings in the big birds usually are. She's still working with a half-crippled engine. The Deck boys and girls won't love her for that. Even with all that, she doesn't look near so bad as many of the Vipers coming back.

The deckhands will only like Trask a wee bit more if only because he's drafting a post-flight report that will address every possible concern a knuckledragger might have. Surrounded by so much chaos and destruction, he seeks solace in constructive action.

Tisiphone's Viper is still spitting sparks like some angry electrical beast as it's brought into the hangar. Its matte grey surface is covered in a patchwork of charred burstmarks, charcoal black and ashen-white alike, a crumple-zone scrawled all along one side where she and the Raider swapped paint. She's taking her helmet off as the canopy opens, seized with a tight, nervous coughing fit.

The Petrels' Captain seems to have Cidra's return timed to the second. As soon as her raptor is brought in on its tow lines, and the ramp unlatched, he's striding over at a brisk pace that might bely his bulky frame. Helmet shoved under one arm, dark curls plastered to his head, he rather looks like he might be on the warpath as he cuts between milling technicians, and even shoulders one or two out of the way.

Cidra leaves the post-flight to Trask without even properly telling him to take care of it. His coping mechanism is working in her favor at the moment, however, so it seems it'll get done. Helmet off, tucked under her arm. She's pale as snow. A few deep breaths through her nose and she manages to look less ill. She says absolutely nothing. Eyes sweeping the deck, taking stock. Such as it remains. Sitka is spotted and she just stands there, watching him. She'll continue to just stand there, so she's not hard to meet.

Psyche is very still as the canopy of her spider-webbed canopy pops, making no immediate effort to unstrap herself from the pilot seat or remove her helmet. It's not until one of the deck hands tries to assist her that she moves, fumbling the young man's helping hands away, clumsy and numb. At last conscious that she's causing some undue concern, she sheds harness and helmet, lurching up and out of the battered plane. It's not uncommon for Bubbles to… burst, sort of… after a bad CAP — letting fly her emotions. Not this time. Obediently and even a bit meekly, she begins her post-flight checklist — until she sees Shiv's dark form heading for Cidra. Then all else is forgotten, her bleak attention on the captain and the major.

As he piles out of his Viper and it is attended, McQueen coldly doffs his removed helmet and stows it under his arm, scowling. The scowl is directed in all places at once, but not at any individual /person/, really. His post flight checklist is handed to him and he stows that too, wordlessly while still wearing the same expression as he looks back at his damaged Viper. Gritting his teeth, he just shakes his head.

Psyche is very still as her spider-webbed canopy pops, making no immediate effort to unstrap herself from the pilot seat or remove her helmet. It's not until one of the deck hands tries to assist her that she moves, fumbling the young man's helping hands away, clumsy and numb. At last conscious that she's causing some undue concern, she sheds harness and helmet, lurching up and out of the battered plane. It's not uncommon for Bubbles to… burst, sort of… after a bad CAP — letting fly her emotions. Not this time. Obediently and even a bit meekly, she begins her post-flight checklist — until she sees Shiv's dark form heading for Cidra. Then all else is forgotten, her bleak attention on the captain and the major.

Sitka looks, in a word, like shit. Eyes bloodshot, knuckles freshly bruised from a control panel in his viper that took the brunt of his anger. Face stricken. He draws to a halt opposite the taller woman, oblivious to any who may be watching them, and then tells her quietly, flatly, "You bitch." There's a tension underlying his speech that suggests his self-control may be fraying, and for once he meets blue eyes with blue eyes directly. Them's dangerous words for a man who just got his flight wings back.

Post-flight checklist. Tell us what's left working on your bird. Describe your latest crushing clusterfrak in short, concise sentences. Where's the 'at least we didn't nearly smother this time' checkbox? Tisiphone sets her helmet down on the stepladder and rakes her hand through her sweaty, disheveled hair, looking at the clipboard without really seeing it. Sitka's utterance brings her head up and over, though there's little surprise in her expression.

Scribble scribble, check, check. After angrily tossing his helmet on the ground after the deckhand makes some kind of inquiry, it lands on the hard metal of the deck with a too-loud /thunk/. "How is that supposed to even matter. Do you think that this ship lives and dies around PAPERWORK?! You —,"

The Crewman's mouth opens a little and closes. He may be young, but he simply stands and meets McQueen's tirade unmoving, beyond a simple, "Sorry, sir. You can do that at your leisure."

McQueen's shoulders slump, and he sighs, as that scowl breaks. "No. I'm sorry." He simply goes towards his Viper and finishes with a few scribbles.

Although the safety has been released, the helmet is not removed. Bootstrap remains within the Raptor, going over everything more obsessively than his standard, already more than necessary thoroughness. As some mechanics pop aboard, he absently starts detailing issues with the ship, even as he jots down precise notes. As such, he hears nothing of the outside conversations.

Cidra flinches. Like he'd physically slapped her. She looks him in the eye, though. All usual inscrutability gone, but she does manage that. "It was the only remaining tactical option I was able to see, Captain." It is said quietly. Not as if she's trying to keep any of this particularly private, really. But like the words at all are hard to manage just now. "We could not have destroyed the basestar engines with our guns in the time that remained. The ship was going to be rammed. It needed time. There was not time. We could not get through the Raiders fast enough we just…we could not…" It's getting more audible now and verging on just sort of going off the rails. She reins herself back in. "…our lives are the defense of this ship. We protected this ship. They protected this ship." It seems like she's about to go on. But she doesn't. She just stands there and looks at him.

Psyche looks away from the still-quiet confrontation, face bleak and grey-tinged. She sits on the stairs against her plane, staring at the checklist in her hands — not seeing it. Her hands slowly work it into a ball of paper, useless and meaningless. The wad of paper is dropped to the deck, and she lowers her head into her hands, covering her face.

"YOU SACRIFICED MY PILOTS." Yes, it's pretty well bellowed, somewhere around when Cidra's explanation starts going off the proverbial rails. Shiv's not generally the sort of person to get in peoples' faces, but he's about six inches away when he shouts that at her, and you can bet there's spittle flying. At least he keeps good dental hygeine, aside from the chainsmoking habit. "You sacrificed my frakking pilots. My friends. Not our lives. Not your life. Not mine. Theirs." Raw-voiced and furious, he even has the gall to reach for her face, thumb and two fingers sunk into her jaw hard enough to send little jabs through those pain receptors. Hard enough to bruise, if he held it long enough. "Theirs. That wasn't your call, it was mine. It was my call." Where are the MPs when you need 'em, anyway?

"A frakking Raider ran into me while we were going through the Cerberus's flak ring, what does it LOOK like happened?" snaps Tisiphone at the deckie trying to puzzle out some answer scrawled down on the checklist. "Just-" And then the easy-going Petrels Captain is anything but, his shout echoing between the battered spacecraft. The clipboard's left with the deckie as she steps around the nose of her Viper, one still-gloved hand resting on the scorchmarked metal. She looks between Sitka and Cidra, pale eyes uncertain and very intent.

"This will suffice. Anything else I didn't fill out can be shoved up the LSO's arse. Or mine. I really don't care. We all get frakked in the end, anyway." McQueen says dully as he hands the clipboard off to the Crewman with an oddly gentle detachment. He finally stoops to pick up the discarded helmet and stalks along the deck, approaching the other pilots.

Cidra intakes a sharp breath. Less pain at first than surprise, though the instinct to raise her arm and rather forcefully slap his hand away from her is immediate. "Take your hands off of me, Captain." She straightens her shoulders. She's taller than him. Just a little. Not so much that it's noticeable usually unless they're standing nose-to-nose like this. She's lean where he's bulky, however, so her figure is hardly what anyone would call imposing. "I know what I did." There's a raw quality to her voice. She blinks once. Twice. "And it was my call. This is war and your lives are mine for the duration." She stops, swallowing. "And I would do the same for anyone in this Wing if it was a matter of their lives or this ship. This is what we…this is what I do…" Again, trailing off is done. She doesn't retrieve herself so quickly this time. She, for her part, is still very quiet.

It might take a slap or two to get the Captain's hand off her— and it looks, for a blessed moment, like he might even escalate things when his elbow draws back and his fingers begin curling into a fist. But the fact that he's not a twenty-two year old rook seems finally to sink in right about then, and his arm drops back to his side stiffly. He breathes purposefully, in and out. Three times. Then, "I hope your Lords and Ladies are as understanding, sir." Shiv backs off a few paces, blue eyes torn away only after he turns, and trudges for the stairs.

Psyche lifts her head to watch Cidra and Sitka once more, eyes red-veined and red-rimmed, her hands clasped over her mouth and chin. She draws a shuddering breath, tearing her gaze away and shoving herself to her feet. Stooping, she retrieves the discarded checklist, smoothing it out over her knee. Once more she stares at it stupidly, her brain refusing to render the familiar words and symbols into anything useful.

Glancing down at the retrieved helmet contemptuously, McQueen stows it on the appropriate rack with a shove as he strolls along the way. "If you're looking for someone to blame," he says without really paying close attention, he wildly jerks a thumb over his shoulder towards the expanse of space outside the Hangar Deck. "They're out there. They killed 'em. And they'll do it again and again until we choke this bloody war out of them." He doesn't even meet eye contact as he stalks towards the stairwell, still in his flight suit.

Cidra straightens and looks for all the worlds like she's just going to stand there and let him hit her. It takes her a second to realize that's not actually going to happen. For a moment she just stays frozen in place. "I will answer to the Lords for this and many other things when the ferryman comes for me…" she murmurs. More to herself than Sitka or anyone else. She does not sound like she thinks they'll be particularly kind to her. Then she clears throat to something resembling a call to the general assembly. "I should see what is going on in CIC." And then she's off.

"Ibrahim…" Tisiphone starts to say, eyes flaring with alarm when the Captain's fingers curl. Her own do as well — on the scorched nose of her Viper — as if to remind herself to stay put. Not her fight. So not her fight. She watches Cidra for a few seconds longer, teeth caught at the crack in her bottom lip for a moment, then turns to track Sitka's progression to the stairwell.

Sitka probably didn't catch McQueen's offering, with the speed he's blowing through the 'bay. He doesn't so much as glance over at the man, though a stray toolbox does go careening across the deck and exploding into sundry bolts and spanners when his boot viciously meets it. Only Tisiphone gets a brief, ferocious slash of his eyes before he hoofs it up the stairs.

McQueen's still scowling. He shakes his head. "That was good out there, Money." He says, looking back over his shoulder at Tisiphone. Another glance at Psyche and his expression knits, shaking his head once more. Finally a glance at the CAG, and then he is out.

Still crouching by her Viper, Psyche's eyes flit from Sitka, to McQueen, to the CAG — marking their words and their departures in turn. She flinches and turns a quick shoulder to the kicked tools, though there's very little chance of her catching shrapnel at this distance. One hand lifts to half cover her face, her eyes shutting, expression drawn. Finally, she blows out a breath and stands, eyes taking one more stab at the checklist. Right. She can do this. When she at last applies a pencil to the abused paper — stiffly and mechanically — her hands only shake a little.

Tisiphone's mouth twitches into a bloodless line when the Petrels Captain slashes that angry stare at her, chin lifting just a fraction, pale eyes level. If they're having another quaint round of Sagittaran Eyeline Tag, it's a draw. She blows out a long sigh as he passes — it catches on a flinch at the sudden cacophany of the toolkit skittering everywhere — and looks back to the deckie, grabbing again for the clipboard. "Let me finish that," she mutters.

Devlin is helping out the overloaded deckies, mostly staying away from the planes and sticking to things like cleaning up puddles of oil and clearing debris out of paths so other things can be moved. He couldn't have missed hearing and seeing that confrontation, but he stayed out of the way, stepping forward now only to crouch and gather up those kicked tools, walking them back to where they belong. On his way he detours to pass off a wrench some crewman is requesting, and then swings his path back out wide to pass by Psyche, reaching out to give the pilot's shoulder a squeeze on his way back to the workbench to put things back.

Evandreus has stayed off-deck this long— not cleared for duty, and never having passed muster by the deck chief's standards to work on the ships, despite his long experience in vessel maintenance, he'd just be in the way. But now he shows up, face blanched somewhat, walking, even though with a cane, like he's been walking with that cane for years— he even manages a hurry.

Psyche jumps as she's touched, eyes snapping up from her post-flight list. She blinks a few times at Devlin as he moves on, her expression crumbling from blank confusion to something utterly stricken. Her lips part slightly and a breath is drawn… but if she has something to say, she thinks better of it, hurriedly handing her paperwork to a hovering deck hand and starting for the stairs. Evan's arrival stops her short, and once again she seems about to speak — but all that comes out is a choked, wet little sob.

Devlin looks back over his shoulder at Psyche, catching the blinking, and then maybe just a hint of that crumbling before he has to turn and look where he's going to avoid tripping over stuff. It takes a minute or two, setting down the tools and box and piling the former in the latter in a… well, not a very neat fashion, really, but so that the box will close, at least. So he misses Psyche's almost-flight to the stairs, and instead turns around to find her stopped short and beginning to cry. He stops short, too, looking around, and finding Evan. Brows rise a little, questioning almost, but he heads towards the blonde after that pause, reaching for her shoulder again, the hand staying there if she allows it, this time. "Heyyy," he says, the word drawn out gently.

Evandreus goes a few more steps after Psyche stops, maybe intending to close the space between them. But Abs is already there with her— and so he stays where he is, for the moment, leaning tense-shouldered on his cane, his features pale, striken, and sheened over with a cold, cold sweat. His dark green eyes find hers. His mouth's open just a little ways.

Well, there are worse frakking dilemmas in life than whose arms to fall into, aren't there? Like, say… which of the valiant pilots under tour command you'll order to make the ultimate sacrifice. Psyche, fortunately, has not and — if the Lords love her at all — will never have to make the latter call. The former, however, is fairly simple. Devlin's hand is given a gentle touch — not perfunctory, exactly, but brief… and that's all the thanks the poor lad gets for his compassion before she's quickly closed the distance to Evan, wrapping her arms around him and burying her face against his chest. The sobs that shake her are nearly silent, but shake her they do — profoundly. The blonde pilot trembles like she's going to fall to pieces, her chest and shoulders hitching like everything inside her wants to flee her body.

Worse dilemmas too than whether to wander after sobbing pilots or go help shovel bits of viper into piles to be picked through later for intact parts. Devlin seems to consider the former for a moment after Psyche pats his hand and makes a beeline for Evan, but after watching for a moment, he just looks to the raptor pilot and makes the universal thumbs up-thumbs down gesture that asks silently, 'you good?'

Evandreus only has one arm for Psyche to fall into, at the outset, but it's ready for her when she gets there, sliding under her arm and resting with palm flat on her back, moving a few inches up and down and hugging her to him even as his own eyes begin to leak profusely, his throat choking nearly shut as he bows his head and gets Psyche's hair wet, one tear at a time. Otherwise, though, his shoulder straight-arms his limb into the line of the cane, and he manages despite his current frailty to exude some sort of stereotypically masculine strength upon which Bubbles might lean. His watery eyebeams move to Abs, next, and he just shakes his head. Nothing will ever be okay again.

Some women cry gracefully — Psyche is not one of them. She chokes and hiccups herself into a sodden ball of snot, clinging to Bunny all the while. If she notices her hair's getting wet, she doesn't seem to care. Really, how could she, considering the mess she's making of his shirt? Her hands clench and unclench against his back, a tremor passing through her each time she balls up her fists — between grief and rage and crushing, sickening guilt there's no port in the maelstrom of her emotions. There's nothing to do but channel them, conducting them like a continuous arc of electricity. Evan grounds her, it seems, keeping the nevertheless agonizing process from proving fatal.

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