PHD #004: Some Seriously Grim Shit
Some Seriously Grim Shit
Summary: Ensigns Apostolos and Kulko touch base in a moment of calm, interrupted by the Admiral's announcement.
Date: 2041.03.02
Related Logs: None.
Kulko Tisiphone 

--[ Ships Library ]-------------------------[ Deck 9 - Battlestar Cerberus ]--

Racks of books extend deep into this room, nearly darkening the overhead lights towards the back. The shelves are neatly labeled to each category with nearly everything represented here. Fiction, Sci-Fi, Romance, and everything down to comic books has been loaded up onto the shelves. A smaller research area at the back has a large table for maps to be opened-up. Nearer the door is a small library of movies that covers some of the most recent blockbusters and flows through some of the more campy movies from about two decades before. Next to the door, a Petty Officer can usually be found at a desk to help someone checkout their selections.

-=[ Condition Level: 2 - Danger Close ]=--------------------------------------

Kulko is towards the back of the room, in off-duty fatigues, with three or four thick tomes open and spread out around him. There's a legal pad next to him, and an assortment of various colored pens. His head is propped up on one hand, fingers combed through his hair, and he wears a face that borders on a scowl. The Warrant Officer librarian shoots him a look every once in a while, and is summarily ignored.

Enter Tisiphone, wearing nap-rumpled fatigues and a couple days' worth of pale, almost translucent, scalp-stubble. Too much more, and she'll start to resemble a dandelion gone to seed. She pauses for a moment at the entry, eyes flicking restlessly about, before determinedly heading into the maze of aisles. She's on a mission for some manner of dry and dusty tome, as opposed to light reading, and her quest takes her steadily toward the back of the library.

Kulko flips through the book at his right, holding his page with one hand while combing through the index with the other. After a moment or three, he dog-ears the page and looks back to the center, and largest, book. For his part, the JTAC looks none the worse for wear - one of the perks of working in the alligator head, it seems.

Tisiphone emerges from one of the aisles with a rather encyclopaedic tome of her own, all black leather and fine gold lettering on the spine, too new to be broken-in. Giving a second sweep of the library now that the rear tables are in sight, the sleet-blue gaze lingers on Kulko for several seconds. A well-gnawed spot on her lip is given further abuse. Finally, she pushes herself into motion, crossing over to the other Ensign's table. "Hey," she greets simply, her tone light.

Kulko drops his pen at the greeting, looking up at the pilot with first startled surprise, then recognition, then finally a tired smile. "Howdy," he offers in response. He looks briefly down to his notes, then shoves the pad into the book to hold his place and closes it. "Have a seat. How've you been holding up?"

The heavy black tome is slid onto the table with a leathery whisper. Eleusis, Vol. XIII, 100-250 AE. Tisiphone pulls out a chair and slouches down into it, arms folded lightly across her chest. "Still unknotting my guts after all the stims those first two days," she says. "If I never fly a triple CAP again, it'll be too soon." It's not really an answer, but it's what she gives.

"Can't say I blame you. By the time I got all the casualty reports together for TACCO I was ready to find a corner somewhere and just curl up." He glances to the book, then back to the other ensign. "And that was only a double. You splash any bogeys before we called y'all back in?"

The question brings a complicated tangle of emotions to Tisiphone's face, sleet-blue eyes lowering to the cover of her tome. Troubled. Ragged-nailed fingers drum soundlessly at the leather. "Lucky and I got one. Didn't hear any other confirmations, but-" She shrugs. Command was was aware of the state of the comms as she was, after all. "I didn't see any others, but maybe there were."

"That's good," Stephen replies, unequivocally. "No good walkin' away from a fight as the only one bleeding." He twirls his pen between index and middle fingers for a moment before he shifts gears. "And your squadron? How bad were your losses? The guy I saw you with in Sickbay didn't seem too bad."

"Lasher," Tisiphone automatically provides. Then, perhaps more usefully: "Lieutenant Laskaris. Our squad lead. Yeah. Just a rattle from his flight harness from his landing." If touching down canopy-first can be considered a 'landing'. She drums at the tome again, then starts scratching at it with her finger-pads, nails chewed too short to make contact. "Black Knights were really lucky," she says. It sounds like she's trying to keep saying it until she believes it. "Could've been Piglet and her Thunderheads, or- or the rest. Something to remember, the next time we bitch about being kept within arm's reach of the Cerberus."

"We were all lucky, when you get down to it." Kulko uncaps the pen and slides the pad out enough to expose some paper, scribbling some numbers down. "Not counting the fact that we were attacked last, cause we were tethered up - which is its own bit of fortune - there was a… 3.5% chance of surviving that encounter. Twenty seven battlestars bought it, and we got out. That's either luck or the Gods." He looks up, making eye contact if offered. "Least, that's what I keep tellin' myself."

"Ares making bets with Tyche, with Eris's dice," Tisiphone responds, bitterness creeping into the low, scratchy tone. She sighs sharply at the end of it and looks up at the ceiling, scrubbing hard at her scalpfuzz. "Whichever it was, it got us here. My mothers used to say, 'Heal thyself and the rest will follow.' Always made me roll my eyes, but maybe it was right, after all. If nothing else, it's something we can focus on." Half a beat later: "Smoke?" She's patting down her pockets.

"My father used to say every man gets what he deserves, in the end." The JTAC snorts at that. "And I damn sure used to believe him." As she searches for her smokes, Kulko admis, "I'd be delighted." He tears out the now-ruined page from the notepad, and creases it to form a makeshift ashtray. Made of paper. Fire safety, not his thing. "Gotta find someone interested in a barter, if I'm gonna keep this up. Got half a case of whiskey in my locker, but I'd been laying off the tobacco and didn't bring any shipside."

*The intercom beeps it's muted tones, indicating an incoming shipwide address*

This is the Admiral.

On February 26th, 2041 AE, we faced a disaster of unprecedented proportions. It is clear in my mind that this disaster was not the work of radical groups or of paramilitary organizations, but that of our own creation. One that we had thought .. and hoped to never hear from again.

On that fateful day, the Cylons launched a full scale attack on Picon and all vessels and installations in orbit. Somehow, someway, they were able to disable all of our fleets within moments of jumping in system. Even now, those aboard this vessel with technical experience are working around the clock to ensure that our system are protected. To ensure that we do not fall prey to the same viscious attack that has claimed the lives of our brothers, sisters, parents, children and friends.

I will not give you false hope by saying that Picon was the only target in this attack. A scout recon raptor that was sent to Virgon found the same devestation there. All ships had been destroyed and the colony fell pray to the same nuclear attack as Picon. The moment our FTL is back online, the Cerberus will be making a jump to Virgon in the hopes of finding survivors. From there, we will determine the next best course of action. If we survived, so did others.

For now, I ask you all to not give up hope. The days ahead will be rough and long, but I have faith in each and every one of you. I know that you will do everything that you can do. Know this, we will not tuck tail and run. We will not forget what has happened. We will not let it go unpunished.

So say we all.

*There is a moment's pauses before the intercom is hung up, static taking it's place before fizzling out to nothingness*

The pack's in better shape than the one that first night in Sick Bay, only slightly bent instead of sweaty and crumpled. She draws out a pair, rolls them briefly between fingers to straighten out the crinks, lights them both, then twirls one like a smoky majorette before offering it to Kulko. The folded-paper ashtray isn't given a second look. Even a cupped palm would hold ashes well enough for her.
She's midway through her first drag when the broadcast begins. Almost immediately, she sputters on her lungful of smoke, adding disbelieving wheezes to the Rear Admiral's words. "What?" is all she says, and continues to say, as the speech continues. "What?!"

"Frakking right," Kulko affirms, taking the cigarette and drawing on it deeply. "I was worried they were gonna try to keep it quiet. Blame it on terrorists or rebels or sommat. Good on you, skipper. Tell it like it is." A second drag, this one not held nearly as long as the first. "You were out there - you telling me you didn't see em?"

Tisiphone tries to cure her sputtering with another drag off her cigarette — which works about as well as could be expected. She leans forward, forearms on knees, doing her best impression of a fourteen year-old sneaked off behind her old man's home for her first smoke. "Didn't- know WHAT the frak I- I was seeing!" she says as she coughs up smoke in return for fresh air. A fine dusting of cigarette ash falls over her boot and the nearby carpet. "Wasn't- in the military history books, and- the Cylons-" She lets her head sink between her shoulders for a few seconds, and practices breathing deeply. Finally, she gets herself back under control, and looks up. "The Cylons were gone. Fourty years gone." She drops back against her chair, staring at, then through, Kulko. "Cylons."

Kulko leans forward to meet her gaze, elbows propped on the desk. "Our DRADIS went out, same as yours. We were blind. So Skipper sent me up to Observation, to look out the frakking window and see what was going on. The fighters were moving too fast, and too small but the cap ships… Thirty basestars - they're kinda different, sure, upgraded maybe, but I wasn't totally sleeping through Colonial History. I know what I saw." Stephen extends his lower lip to blow smoke upwards. "Yeah, maybe they were gone. Now they're back. With nukes. And a bone to pick." He ashes in the ashtray, compulsively, every few seconds.

"Basestars," Tisiphone echoes, pale eyes snapping back into focus on Kulko's. "They were Basestars. I couldn't- I didn't understand. All I could think was they looked like caltrops." Her memory's being rewound, edited, and pored back through with fresh understanding. "Gods Above and Below. Cylons," she decides, after several lungsful of smoke. "We really /are/ at war." Only the presence of the cigarette is keeping her from sitting there like a gaffed fish.

"Thirty of em. They only had us by three ships. We could have…" Stephen shakes his head. "We should have been able to take them. By the numbers, at least. But… you should have seen it. Like the whole fleet just… shut off. We lost two battlestars to a frakking collision - like someone just pulled the plug." He nods solemnly, considering her last. "We are. Hell of a time to graduate."

"I saw that collision," Tisiphone says, narrowing her eyes at a plume of smoke, watching it writhe toward the ceiling and gradually disperse. "Doubling back to get on Lucky's wing. Didn't believe I was seeing it." She draws her knees up to her chest, bootheels hooked precariously on the very edge of the chair's seat, arms dangling out over her knees. "So it happened to everyone, then," she murmurs, half to herself. "It wasn't just the Harriers left twisting in the wind."

Kulko sits bolt upright. "I didn't believe I was seeing any of it. It was like a dream - or like I was watching a movie and describing it over the phone." He finishes his cigarette, the cherry conical from the force of his inhalations, and snubs it out on the paper, eyes ablaze and still fixed intently on Tisiphone's face. "It didn't hit me till the nukes started flying. I… I flipped, Tisi - can I call you that? Once I realized what was going on, I frakking lost it. TACCO had to talk me down. He gave me some busywork to keep my mind off it - but I still drank myself stupid for the next 48 hours."

"Tis?" Tisiphone offers, by way of compromise, wan expression giving way briefly to a grin. "Used to be someone- Sissy Tisi, it's all I hear when someone uses that name." Ah, childhood teasing. "Picon turned to glass, and you're ordered to watch and report back," she continues, gaze moving from her cigarette back to Kulko. "Frak, man. I can't- I think I'd still be stupidly drunk." She lifts her smoke in a sort of salute.

"Done. Tis. Right." Kulko draws a deep breath, coughing once. Still getting used to that again, it seems. "Didn't think they'd appreciate me showing up for my shift in that sort of condition. And I needed a shave. And someone suggested to me that hiding in the bottle might not be the best solution." He lets slip a grin of his own. "AND. Who knows when I'll ever be able to get more of the stuff?"

The statement startles a laugh out of Tisiphone. It sounds a little painful — either from the earlier coughing fit, or because it's been a while since the last time she laughed. "If we need to break out the rest of that Incarnados?" she says, stabbing the stub of her cigarette accusingly at Kulko. "Then we know we're in some seriously grim shit." Apparently she didn't donate it to the Deck Chief for de-icing the Raptors, after all. She leans forward, crushing out the last of her smoke in the origami ashtray.

<Fade, on account of RL.>

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