PHD #234: Same Battle, Different Honors
Same Battle, Different Honors
Summary: Astra, Richards, and Vandenberg discuss heroism, recovery, grief, and bad food.
Date: 18 Oct 2041 AE
Related Logs: Saving Sergeant Richards
Astra Richards Vandenberg 
Recovery Room - Deck 10 - Sickbay - Battlestar Cerberus
A much more quiet area of Medical, this elongated room is also lined with beds. Each is similarly outfitted with privacy curtains as necessary and even the paint on the walls has been lightened in an attempt to help lift spirits. Chairs are readily available all over the place so that visitors can pull one up to talk to the patients during their recovery. Near the entrance, visiting hours are posted with a very conspicuous 'No Smoking' sign.
Post-Holocaust Day: #234

It's been less than twenty-four hours since Richards has been rescued along with others who had been held captive and he was immediately brought here, the man looking like so much shit. Malnourished and looking like he had been abused at some point or another, the man's laid out in a bed, dressed in a spare set of scrubs since he absolutely refused to wear one of those gowns. IVs have been put into his arm and a tray of food has been set before him but the latter's gone untouched, Richards just having no appetite.

A young woman comes into the recovery room on crutches, with a little girl clinging on her shoulders and some odd sling-like contraption, full, covering her chest. The girl is settled on one of the beds and almost immediately goes limp. The sling is un-done and two very young babies are nestled on the bed as well. Each of the three has a little wrist monitor. The woman sighs and eases herself into a chair, closes her eyes a moment. Then she shakes herself and covers the girls, tucking them in, and looks around. Seeing the man in bed, her gaze softens with a sad sort of understanding.

Its a kid! Wait, no, that's just Vandenberg walking through the doors. She's in her duty browns with an MP brassard attached to her left arm. She glances across the faces laying here until seeing the hungrier one and approaches him in her recognizable swagger. "S'r'ent Richards, are you -looking- to set an example of laziness for my Corps?" she greets with a smile, taking the drill instructor's tone with him. Stopping by the bed, she lifts her chin. "How's things? Doin' alright? Donating urine with the enthusiasm I expect?" The Lieutenant leers at him, the smile reaching her eyes.

It's the lady with the kids that gets Chris' attention first; nodding hello, he gives her a sad little smile to match her own expression, perhaps a mutual understanding passing between them. That is short lived as Vandenberg approaches and greets him, that getting his eyes to dart quickly to her and his smile to change to something less sad. "Yeah, well, after the last three months, I think I'm owed a bit of laziness," he shoots back while rolling his head side to side. Clearing his throat, he looks at the tube in his arm and follows that up to the large IV bag, that getting him to grunt. "As well as can be expected, yeah. Going to be pissing for a year, though. Godsda…" Looking towards Astra and her children, he backs up and self-censors, not wanting to cuss in front of the young ones, "…goshdarn fluids. Forgot how fast they pass through you."

"I don't mind hearing the swear words," murmurs the woman, her voice gentle. "Heard plenty in my like. The twins are too young, and Petra… not awake." She rubs one of the infants' backs, making a soft, crooning sound. She falls silent, though, nodding to the MP, and deferring to military addressing military. She gives a weary sigh, and sets the crutches down on the floor.

"He'll mind his tongue regardless, Miss. Or he'll face my wrath." She grins. Then Vandenberg feigns offense towards Richards. "Three months? You think you've earned the right to lay on your back and suckle fluids like a newborn? Boy, don't make me come up there and set you straight. I don't recall giving you Leave." She finishes with a wink. "So. You hooked up with some real sweet people, looks like. Kept you fat and happy." There's a pointed glance to his tray, too. "Seriously, though. Got a reason that thing hasn't been touched? You know what they do if you don't eat, right?"

"What the El-Tee said, ma'am," he says, Richards grinning wryly at that. "Got to behave in front of the civvies, after all…" Coughing, he then looks at Vandenberg and shakes his head, his eyes glinting with mischievousness. "Sir, if I was sucking it down like a newborn there'd be tits involved and…" Waving a hand, he tries to casually indicate the two women in a manner to signify that it is not an option as neither Astra or his CO are available, most likely. The food is given the same wave although this time it's dismissive, now. "Not hungry yet, sir. The docs said it might take me a while to get my stomach settled again but wanted me to give it a shot."

"And, as right now I seem to be the only woman onboard who is nursing, I don't have any to spare." Astra chuckles softly. She sits up and brushes back her hair; she is still terribly thin, and the four-year-old girl is also rather scrawny. "I remember right after I'd been rescued from Aerilon. We had hardly any food. We'd been eating some roots and… well, it just wasn't good. When I got here it was very hard to keep down anything solid, even when I wanted it…" She shakes herself, blinks. "I'm Mrs. Astra Koios. Schoolteacher, artist."

"Well luckily the military is used to seeing a breast or two around," Van asides with a smile to Astra. "We managed to keep some jerky. Did some hunting. Aerilon wasn't too bad for us but then again, that's one of the benefits of being armed. I'm Lieutenant Natalie Vandenberg. Marines." She dips her head in greeting to the woman before looking back to Richards. "Hey." Vandenberg holds up a finger at his use of terminology. "You leave my chest out of this." She shakes it once more at him before resting her hands on her hips, looking at his food as he talks about it. "Just make sure you eat it. If you refuse to eat, they can and will administer vitamins rectally. Now I know that might be a Navy thing but you're a Marine and I expect more out of you. Attacking your target with gusto had better be priority number one." A sigh later, she looks him over. "So you're supposed to be dead. Your fireteam said the Centurions must have gotten you."

Richards actually has good enough manners to blush when Astra mentions breast feeding, the rush of color more noticeable than normal thanks to the pale cast to his face. "Uh…huh. I'll have to take your word on that, ma'am." Grimacing, he looks at Natalie who makes it all the more worse on him and he groans. Arm without IV tubing is lifted and his hand is applied to his face, covering it only to then peek through his fingers to playfully gawk at the Lieutenant's upper body. "Sorry, El-Tee. It's just been a while since I last saw a woman…ah…" Thankfully she segues into another topic…no, not the vitamin-via-rectum one as he's not touching that with a ten meter pole…and he finds himself rushing to respond. "I thought I was going to be dead, sir but managed to find a defendable position and hid myself in it. For as aggressive as they had tried to deal with me…I think they had bigger things in their metal brains and decided I wasn't worth the effort." Just a theory.

Astra, also, flushes, and she looks down at her hands. A visible shudder passes over her at the mention of the Cylons. The little four-year-old is apparently not completely asleep, and she turns her head towards the man, her eyes wide. Astra leaps up, heedless of her bandaged ankle, and scoops the girl, blanket and all, into her arms. She sinks back in her chair and cuddles the child against her, offering an apologetic smile. The girl relaxes a little, one ear blanket-covered and the other resting against Astra, filled with the sound of the woman's heartbeat.

"Don't make me poke your eyes out, child. Keep gawkin’ and I'll make sure your first day back involves eight hours in the sparring ring with me." This coming from the woman who just took down Crowe the day before. She still has the bruises on her face. "You want some eye candy I hear there's a good lookin' Lieutenant in the Air Wing with a callsign right up your alley: Lucky. I'll have her come by." But his report gets a lofted brow from her and her arms cross. "Boys said you stayed behind to cover their exfil. Nice move. Lotta guts on display there, Sergeant. Glad you were smart enough to hunker your young tail down someplace and ride it out. That 'more important' thing was Neath. They swept it clean. Crowe and my team barely made it out." She watches him for a moment. "You lookin' to get back in the fight, Sergeant? I got room for a Sergeant with savvy and a sack in Able." Her eyes flicker to Astra, then. "Sorry, Miss. But this is something that needed to be discussed."

It's the kid's reaction and that of Astra's that really gets to Richards and he looks down, his hand coming away from his face to be rested against his belly along with the other. "Lucky? She sounds like my kind of gal. Sure, El-Tee. Have her come on down," he says with a slow not but there's no enthusiasm to go with his request, the words tumbling off of his tongue in a dead tone. "I had to give them a chance to get to you, sir," he adds once he's semi-recovered from the pang of sadness. "How many made it back?" When Vandenberg makes her offer he looks back up into her eyes, his own a bit tear-filled. "I'd like that a lot. Thanks."

"Not a problem, ah… sir," murmurs Astra. "I understand. I'd give you privacy if I could, but the girls need to stay here for a few hours. Bad reactions to their latest round of vaccinations. Or, well, first, for the twins." She sighs, then rubs Petra's back. She lifts her head a little. "If I might interject, though…" She closes her eyes. "What you did was a grand thing. So many people just thought of their own selves, civilian and military. I could hear them, the early days, on the radio set. Those who did think of others, who sacrificed themselves, their lives, their health, their time, their comfort… they are why we still live. So…. thank you."

The Lieutenant looks to Astra, totally not expecting to hear that. She blinks a few times and nods finally. "It takes guts, determination, and a willingness to take a chance on someone else, Miss. All my Marines and I did was show up. They gave us that trust. I'm indebted to them. You might thank me, but my prayers of thanks will always go to them." Vandenberg doesn't comment on Lucky anymore when she looks back to Richards. "Three. McClusky, Farnborough, and Smithe. Gave the town the time it needed to prepare for what was coming." She takes a long breath and shakes her head. "But they wouldn't leave their homes. You remember how those people were. No such thing as a choice in fight or flight. Just fight. Last time I saw Old Man Zand, he was in a fighting position with his granddaughter." Fourteen. Too young. The look on Natalie's face says it all: Nobody made it out. She Lieutenant clenches her jaw and looks away. For all the hard-ass she puts up, that really bothered her into a deep dark recess that she does not like to think about. "No problem, Richards. We're cops first but like you saw last night, its more of the same from Aerilon, too."

"I just did what was right," Chris says with a shake of his head, not ready to accept much in the way of praise or gratitude right now. He did his job. That's it. "No offense. I'm just…" Looking up, he frowns when the officer answers, that number less than acceptable. "Dammit," he hisses, disappointment and anger creeping up in his voice. "I had hoped more would have gotten back. But at least someone did, right?" Shaking his head, he falls silent, clearly struggling with it all. He had convinced himself that everyone survived and that there would have been time to evacuate the civilians but as it was pointed out, many of them were stubborn and wanting to fight for their homes and their families. For whatever good or bad that was for.

"I understand." Astra sighs softly. "It's hard when people talk about sacrifice and heroism and praise what you did when you yourself know what you weren't able to do. When you know how many people didn't live. But… it's not your fault. Not theirs. It's the Cylons' fault." She blinks back tears. "And if anyone ever tells you different, I'll deck them myself."

"I'd say the worst part is knowing what I did and wondering why I didn't do more, Miss. I think about how it ended all the time. Sure, its the Cylon's fault. I didn't kill anyone. But I might have been able to save a few if I had stuck around." And if, if, if, if… into infinity. Some people won't lay down their burdens. "Thank you, regardless." She flickers a ghosting of a smile to Astra before looking back to Richards: "Yeah. At least a few did. Sorry, Sergeant. I think we all lost another big chunk of ourselves that day." Vandenberg lets off another long breath. So she -does- have a heart somewhere. Probably. Her eyes lid, looking to the ground for a long moment. "Point is we made it out. We'll be assembling for training operations in the coming weeks. I expect you to be there. I gotta get going, though." She turns her wrist over, the hands on it ticking at her. Natalie is probably here on her break. "When are you out?" comes the question as she backs away.

Richards nods slowly. "It just makes it hard to have put your heart into the hope that more survived… Kind of what I had clung to while I was in hiding." Pausing, he looks up at Vandenberg, his face growing white again. "I am sorry about that, by the way, sir. I know it probably seems cowardly of me but I couldn't risk leading them back to town. Sure Sarge will want to bust my balls for that." Chuckling with what humor he can invoke, he reaches over to grab some of the food that was left for him - thankfully it's a sandwich so there's nothing to have grown cold - and the first tentative bite is taken. "Hmm. I'll try to be back and functional by then," he promises.

Astra bows her head over the small one nestled against her, and she bites at her lip. "The worst is wanting to help and not being able to… and knowing what will happen. Hoping against knowing, being helpless. So many voices in the night, asking, is anyone there? So many voices asking for help, hope, just someone listening. A few snatched moments of sleep at night, and waking to know one more, two more, how many more… are dead. Because we're only human. Why couldn't we have had the power of gods, just to save others? I understand. I wasn't trained to fight… but now, after… those months on Aerilon… I understand."

"Nobody is helpless. You raise your children, Miss. In such a persistently violent environment? You're a hero in your own right. Especially to your little ones. Nobody is just human anymore either. We all have to step up. We all are just doing it in different ways. I carry a rifle. You're holding our future. Same battle. Different kind of honors." Vandenberg gives a firm nod to Astra, her attention falling once more to Richards. "Watching it get shelled wasn't a picnic. Like I said, we all left something back in Neath. Even Crowe, though I doubt he'd say so." Vandenberg might have smiled with that, but she's being serious. Those six months could not have marked each of them in deeper ways. "Don't sweat hiding, Sergeant. I'm just glad you survived. You know what that means to me?" She forces a meager smile. "It means that not only did another Marine get out, but maybe a few civilians did, too." Surviving on hope and pride. Things are rough all over. "I'll come back and see ya soon, kid. Get off the bed at some point or I'll beat you silly." She steps off, nodding to Astra as she passes. "Ma'am. Take care."

"Yeah! The El-Tee's correct, ma'am. You're definitely acting in a manner above and beyond, you know? Don't go acting like you don't, either." Playfully extending his index finger, he waggles it at Astra, smiling around another bite of his dinner. He still feels like crap but the ladies seem to have done his spirits some good as he is actually a bit hungry now. "Hmm. Awwww. Do you have to go, sir," he asks while smirking, having to fight the urge to call her Shortround since that didn't go over well last night. "Okay. I'll get up and stuff. Take it easy."

"You too. Take care, sir," answers Astra, nodding to the other woman as she departs. "And… thank you." Then she glances at Richards. "I'll make an agreement with you," she answers. "I won't act that way if you won't. Come Warday, there were fifteen of us. Then I gathered together five more children, little stragglers. Twenty of us. Seven children, thirteen adults. At the end, it was just me and the seven. I was pregnant. Had a HAM radio. Talked with other survivors. Gave as much hope as I could. So far, have only found one who survived. Had to listen to so many suicides, and those who were killed trying to fight back." She shakes her head. "I don't want pity or praise. I just want you to know I'm not blowing smoke out of my rear when I say I understand. You get feeling responsible."

Richards had been trying not to be a downer but with Astra's retelling of her own experiences the light mood he had kind of forced about him is torn into so many little pieces which are caught in the proverbial wind and blown away. "Yeah, you do," he says in regards to her concluding assessment. "That's how I feel. But can't dwell on it otherwise you kind of get lost to the grief." Now, he says that but doesn't really seem to be following his own advice.

"But I go on. You'll go on. And we'll do what we have to in order to bear it and live again. To not drown in that grief. Just know… you're not alone." Astra smiles warmly, and she lifts her head. "I'm here. And there are others. And…" She shakes her head. "Once you get used to having food again and remembering what good food tasted like, you'll learn that this isn't it. And the mess isn't much better." She winks, then looks down to the girl in her arms again.

"Are you kidding me? You haven't eaten rations, have you? Compared to those, this…" He waves a hand with the sandwich in it, "…is frakking Ambrosia." Is he avoiding talking about the other subject? Mostly, yes although he does smile to show Astra she hasn't gone unheard, that combined with a single appreciative nod to her reminder. "So where are you from," he asks, giving her the spotlight while he starts to eat, the gingerly pace he consumes his food helping with not throwing it up although, time from time, he does look slightly discomforted.

"It helps if you cut it small, then chew it a lot," murmurs Astra. "And yes, I've had rations. Trust me. You ever eaten Dryweed? The kids called it Dryheaves, because it tasted that good. But bannaroot tastes even worse. Rations are ambrosia after that. Heck, things I ate as a two-year-old are ambrosia after that." She takes a deep breath. "I'm from Aquaria. Northern Skerry province. The islands. I had a school there with my husband. Elementary, emphasis on the arts. I'm a schoolteacher, but also an artist."

Richards nods. "Yeah. Didn't grow up where there was any of that stuff but we had to eat a lot of crap during survival school. Makes you glad to come back to base and hit the mess." Angling his chin down, Chris proceeds to take in all of what she tells him, his brow creasing when she mentions having a husband. He shouldn't ask. He really shouldn't. But he's curious about Astra so he does. "Is your husband here with you?" Gods, that sucked to ask and he hurriedly shuts himself up by cramming an extra large bite of food which may, or may not, stay down thanks to how big it is.

"He went to look for food with eight others. Only one of them ever came back and that man was delirious, ill, and died. We found a few bones. That was… months ago." Astra closes her eyes a moment, then smiles sadly. "He was a good man, and I'm proud of him." She looks over at the infants. "I gave birth to them in the back of Evan's Raptor, the night we were all rescued, the kids and me."

"I'm sorry." Yup, more and more of that food is being consumed and soon the sandwich is gone, making for one uncomfortable Chris. He does his best to not let that discomfort show, however. "Evan? Don't think I've met this Even you speak of but I really wasn't paying much mind once I got on the bird. Was pretty distracted by the time we took odd."

"Pilot. Lieutenant … I think… Evandreus Doe. He's a good man. He loves my kids like they were his. I'm glad for that." Astra shakes her head. "You shouldn't have eaten so fast…." Now there is motherly concern in her voice. "Puking it up is a lot less pleasant than eating it…"

Richards nods. "Well, he sounds like a very good man. I am glad you and your children have him in your lives." Smiling weakly, he can't help it and takes to blushing again, this time thanks to how Astra dispenses the advice, making him feel like he is four all over again and has eaten too much candy. "I'm fine," he lies while shaking his head, trying to shrug it off as nothing. Hopefully Astra will be gone before any puking happens, if it is going to.

The woman's lips twitch, but she merely inclines her head in a slight nod. "I have to stay for another…. two hours," she says quietly. "But I can curl up here with the kids and shut up if you'd like to rest. Or, you know, pretend I'm sleeping so you don't have to pretend being okay."

One of the especially bad things about being by yourself for a while is that you kind of forget how to behave around other people once returned to society - ask Vandenberg who got called Shortround by him - and one of those times where it is obvious to Richards is now. Not sure what to do, he looks at Astra and then the wee ones, his brow knitted when he tries to think of a workable solution for all parties involved that won't make him look rude in the end. "I think I am alright," he eventually gets out with a sigh. "I don't want you to think I'm a boor or anything." Okay. When solution does nothing to present itself, go for honesty instead.

"What, because you're not well, have been to hell and beyond, and came back with all the pieces not quite fitting like they used to?" asks Astra. "For not having 'society' manners when you look like your stomach's churning? For the likelihood that I'll be seeing you throwing up?" She shakes her head. "I teach boys, am raising boys, lived for months with an old ex-miner who knew swear words I never heard of, and held together a motley collection of survivors over the air. There's very little you can say or do that are going to make me think you are a boor, and I highly doubt you're going to do any of them."

Richards frowns. "I probably should at least try to sleep. Not that it's really sleeping when you get woken up every three frakking hours to have blood drawn and be asked if you've peed so they can make sure your kidneys aren't shutting down." Reaching up, he brushes a hand up over his forehead wearily and then up higher, his fingers raked through his hair as he adds bashfully, "Wouldn't mind talking with you some more later, though. If you are good with that."

"I'm good with that," answers Astra. She gives a fond smile. "Rest well… and I'll watch over you for a while." She leans back, the smile still on her face.

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