PHD #298: Sortin'
Summary: With Engineering taking heavy losses, Colonel Pewter ensures that SCPO Alteris will never see retirement.
Date: 21 Dec 2041 AE
Related Logs: Pressure Points - Damage Control
Pewter Ximena 
Commander's Quarters
The CO's quarters are as stately as can be expected. One of the few rooms on the ship to receive carpeting, it also possesses several other amenities that would be unthinkable anywhere else. On the port bulkhead, a small door opens up onto a personal bathroom with its own shower and sink. Two plush armchairs and a single handmade rocking chair surround a coffee table placed directly in front of the head, its glass surface perpetually covered in coffee grounds and a dusting of creamer. Nearby, a queen-sized mattress is recessed into the wall, capable of sliding out over the knotted tweed rug that lends a cozy touch to this makeshift sitting room. Above the mattress are four wall safes where the CO keeps his classified documents, private effects, and other things not meant for the public eye.
Despite its creature comforts, however, this room remains a working office, and its current occupant evidently works best in an atmosphere of controlled chaos. The wide oaken table facing the exit is covered with reports, reconnaissance photographs, and internal memoranda all hours of the day, with islands of personal memorabilia scattered here and there to break up the monotony: a glass tumbler bearing the insignia of the frigate Corsair, a black-and-white photograph of a fishing boat, and — nailed to the front of the desk — a twelve-pound rainbow trout stuffed and mounted on a polished mahogany plaque. Only the Colonel's five bookshelves are organized in any semblance of order. Framed family photographs sit next to what must be the largest remaining collection of fine spirits and liquors remaining in the universe, each bottle strapped to the rear bulkhead by thick Velcro bands — to protect them in case of turbulence, no doubt.
Post-Holocaust Day: #298

The ship's technical contingent has not had a lot of spare time on its hands, what with the destruction visited on Cerberus in the last Cylon encounter. And the shortage of personnel in Engineering in particular that it caused. Nevertheless, Colonel Pewter summoned SCPO Alteris to a meet with him at her earliest convenience.

Well, fortunately for Ximena, she does have an earliest convenience. Unfortunately for Colonel Pewter, that convenience is just as she's getting ready to head back for another double duty shift down on deck 11. Her more limited mobility has meant that she's not spent as much time on deck 10 as some of the others in Engineering. Still, she's as proper as she can be, save for her uniform, her coveralls in their place. There's a polite knock at the door, once she makes it up to the 'command level'.

"Come along in now." Pewter's booming voice is accompanied by the opening of his hatch. He leaves it open, stepping back to clear a path for Ximena to enter. The colonel is nothing but a gentleman. "Well, well. Hard times, Senior Cee-P-O. Hard times. Lots of work to be done. Won't take up much of y'all's time, as I'm sure y'all's wants to get to doing. But we got some ducks to get in a row."

Ximena's grateful for the space, and she's gotten accustomed to the sort of maneuvering that's required to get her through hatches on the ship, one of the reasons she's not as effective at damage control as she could be. She can't just skip the lip of the hatch on her way running past. But it's as quick as efficient as ever, before she rolls to a stop, offering a salute, no less on-point for being given from a seated position, "Engineering is doing everything we can to get our ship back up and running sir."

Pewter acknowledges the salute with a crisp one of his own, getting that business out of the way. Then he trundles back to his large oak desk to sit, plopping himself down heavily. The man looks tired. But, then, most of the crew does right now. "Been on the horn with Praetorian. Seein' to our people over there. They say y'all's Captain Gabrieli's gonna make it. Man's got as many lives as a cat. Just wish he wasn't havin' to keep on usin' them. He'll be out of commission for a spell, though. Long spell. Took a real beatin', my engineers did." There's sorrow in his gravelly voice as he notes it.

"That's wonderful news, Sir. With your permission, I'll pass the word on to the department, I'm certain they'll be glad to know he'll be coming back to us as soon as he's recovered." Unless he gets transferred somewhere less deadly, that is. Ximena wheels herself forward, moving into position to be able to address the Colonel from across his desk, as one would at any normal meeting, "Yes we did, Sir, but we're still fighting. And so is the Cerberus. She's not ready to go just yet."

"Hard to keep a good engineer down. And we're not too full up on replacements." Which is quite likely how Ximena ended up being recommissioned at all, given how unfriendly a working environment a warship is for someone in her condition. "And if he can't work, he can still think, he can still direct. And isn't that most of what all a Chief Engineer does? But yes, we'll get it sorted. We'll find a way to do what needs doing. Keep working until we can't."

"We'll get it sorted," Pewter repeats. "That's why I asked you here, S-Cee-P-O. To start sortin'. Taken bad losses among our engineering officers all these months. Real bad. Worse, we ain't seein' any replacements comin' in. So we got to take from what's there to take." A pause. "How y'all figure y'all'd do wearin' a bit of brass?"

It's a surprise, and it's not a surprise, when Ximena hears the question. One the one hand, she's certainly not officer material, not by any stretch of the imagination. Not in body at least. But on the other, she probably has more time in service than almost anyone else left in Engineering, if not before. "If that's what the ship needs, then I'm willing to do it, for the department. I had planned on retiring, after I got my twenty, but that was before." Before The Chair. Before she had to leave the Marines and transfer to the Navy. "Now I think I've got 18 years of experience dealing with officers and getting the job done. I can't imagine it would be much worse on the other side of the fence."

"Mmmph. Y'all ain't the only one thinkin' bout greener grass." Pewter's booming voice takes on a wistful note. "Lemme tell y'all a secret. This, y'know. This was gonna be my last cruise. Wasn't no plumb position — frak, Corsie's a right ugly old bitch — but I wasn't in the service for plumbs. Had my first gran-baby — little boy — back on Aquaria. Figured I'd retire. Fish. Do all them things old men do. Never got there. Never did meet my grandson. Nothin' home on Aquaria now." A shrug. "Ain't no point thinkin' about what y'all ain't done or got, though. Figure y'all know that." Her last comment gets a snorted laugh. "Ain't so much worse if y'all got a good head on them shoulders, which Captain G says you do. Won't bump y'all to ensign official-like right off, of course. Gotta go through the motions of O-C-S, get y'all's pins proper. But need to start doin' the work right off, while the ship's in need of repairs. Plus, the other officers can can show y'all the ropes. Y'all figure it out together. That's the way it always be, for better or worse."

"I suppose that depends on your point of view, Sir, if you don't mind me saying. She's no battlestar, but she's a damned beautiful ship. She'd be a pleasure to work on." For Ximena, anyways. "I'm sorry for your loss, Sir." She doesn't say much more. What else could you say? Everyone's got the same story, or something similar. "Imagine, once things cooled down, we could see about having a little pond built out on the Elpis for you, though, stock it with a few guppies for you to throw a hook at." Ah, engineers, always trying to fix problems, "Always learned better in the field. Books can only take you so far, then you've got to get the grease under your nails, and the dirt under your feet."

Pewter cracks a jowl-y smile at the prospect of a pond. He likes that. "That'd be a hell of a thing now…" But, it'll have to wait for another time. "Well, y'all gonna be usin' that head as much as them hands. Likely more, the way brass fits. Still got a good a one of 'em as any. It'll be a month or so 'fore y'all get pinned right, but — " A grim smile. "Sure as Full Colors'll top the table, y'all have to start doin' the work without them die-cut shinies." He stands. "Won't keep y'all any longer. Figure y'all want to rack out or get back to work. Ain't seein' my techs doin' other stuff these days — and y'all got my thanks for it."

"We'll see what we can get working over there, when the job's done, Sir." Everyone should have a little bit of happiness, now more than ever. Ximena pushes her chair back, and away from the desk, to make it easier to move out once she's dismissed, "I imagine they've probably already got the paperwork waiting for me down there to be handed over when my shift's done." Efficient and Engineer do, after all, both start with an 'E'. "Work, Sir. No time to sleep while our ships hurting." But she does offer a second salute, before she waits to be dismissed, "Thank you, Sir. I won't disappoint you."

"Expect they do," Pewter replies, returning the salute in kind. "I 'spect y'all won't, S-Cee-P-O. I 'spect y'all won't. Best enjoy folks still callin' y'all 'Chief' while it lasts. Be Ensign or 'sir' before long." He says it with a smile though, given the circumstances, it's not precisely a happy promotion. "Dismissed."

"I'm still getting used to that, Sir. I got to liking Sergeant. Chief still makes me want to look around for someone else." But with the dismissal, Ximena turns, to depart the Colonel's abode. An ailing ship waits for no man. Or soon to be brassed woman.

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