PHD #049: Striking a Chord
Striking a Chord
Summary: Tillman finds Alessandra in the library and offers some help.
Date: 17 Apr 2041 AE
Related Logs: None
Alessandra Tillman 
Ships Library
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.
Post-Holocaust Day: #49

It's the day after the near disaster with the Basestar and the library is mostly empty with only the person who is assigned as the ship's libarian and a few straglers trying to relax or, for the real dedicated people, do some work. Lieutenant Sophronia is one of the latter, the need to finish a project being what has brought her here today. Seated at a table with books, notepads and writing impliments strewn about it, she has her head propped up on the table's top while looking blearily at something she has written down, looking for the life of her like she's about to fall asleep.

Tillman wanders in with something specific in mind. He bypasses the petty officer at the desk and heads directly for the 'Training' section and spots a nearly sleeping pilot. He smirks but doesn't say anything as his eyes scan the shelves. Spotting his intended target finally, the Major reaches up and takes a thick blue book out of the stack. 'Officer Minimums and Requirements for Duty Performance' - could be for anything. He wanders over towards Alessandra's table. "Mind if I steal a seat? Need to see if this is what I'm looking for."

Alessandra's suddenly awake, that sleepy, half-lidded gaze going very wide when she hears someone speaking to her. Looking at the owner of the voice that roused her is someone she recognizes, if only verbally, Tillman being someone she has heard over the comms and such for pretty much her entire assignment upon the Cerberus. "No, please feel free to join me, sir." An arm is swept out to the side and then brought towards her, catching some of her belongings, those moved to make room for them. "Please excuse my mess," she adds while darting her eyes towards a pile of wadded-up and discarded notes, "Been here a while and I guess I've cluttered up the table something awful."

"Psh. Excuse nothin'." Tillman waves it off. "When I was in college I used to make the Librarians bitch like my presence was the end-all of their existence. The mess I made was deplorable." The Major slides down into the chair. "Thanks, though. Workin on anything super important?" His brow lofts as he glances to her notes and opens his own book.

"I'm working on a project for the Captain…" There's a wry quirk to Allie's lips, still not used to calling Laskaris by his new rank, "…who wants me to write up an attack plan that we can program into the simulators." Looking discomforted, now, she fusses with the pencil she has held between forefinger and thumb, bouncing it faster and faster until it does that strange bendy illusion thing. "I'm out of my element here," she concludes, sounding rueful.

Tillman flips through a few pages as he listens to her with a smirk. "Ah yeah. That new Captain you Viper sticks got. What's his name? Laskey? Something like that? I've heard his name bandied around the Mess and the Berthings. Haven't met the guy yet." He looks up with her last and chuckles. "Out of your element? Why's that, Lieutenant? Programming the sims or just developing a plan?"

Alessandra nods slowly. "Close. Laskaris. Lasher if you care enough to call him by his callsign." There's a hitch in her voice now, one of regret, although it just might go unnoticed by the Major for as minute as it is. "He's a good man. Great leader. The squadron's lucky to have him as our lead." Done with the fidgeting, now, she drops the pencil and allows it to clatter semi-noisily, the minor ruckus comforting. "I'm not used to the planning, sir. This is something I've had the luxury of allowing others to do for me in the past. I am…I am having to think in ways that I am unfamiliar with. It is complicated."

"Ah." Sometimes name's are just hard to keep track of. "I usually interact with only two pilots: Major Hahn or Captain Quinn. I haven't had much of a chance to meet with the Viper pilots, sadly. Though I probably should more, I suppose." If he notices the regret, its uncommented on. He gives a light laugh, though, with her remark. Not so much -at- her predicament, but just at the general situation. "Yeah. Its a lot easier when you can just order someone to do your job for you. Perks of being an officer, right?" He smirks and glances to her. "Well I can't do your job for you. But I can maybe offer some perspective? Give advice? What're you stuck on?"

"You should if only to give us the impression that you're more than a disembodied voice, sir," Lucky says with a chuckle. "For a while I was beginning to think that you were nothing more than a tape recorder or some kind of robot programmed to give us orders and stuff." Pushing the upper-most notepad, showing Tillman a few of her notes. The first scribbled bits of info has to do with the objective, that being a tylium refinery as well as its defenses. AA towers, Raiders…looks like she's going to have a lot of heavy fire thrown at the pilots. "I got the basics. I'm just not sure what's too much or isn't enough and am not sure what I should be doing as far as how we're supposed to attack.." Not sure what she's doing is frustrating and she eventually just gives up, grunting and shrugging in what can only be defeat.

"You mean I'm more than a disembodied voice form On High? Shit. I'm obviously not doing my job. I'll try and stalk the corridors and be a pain your asses a little more. But do it late at night." Tillman cuts her a wink and looks to her notes. "May I?" he asks, reaching for the notepad to pull it closer. Regardless, he looks it over. "Hmm. Well this information is all vital and you'll be using it to execute a plan of attack. But right now? If you're still trying to get a basic idea down.. Start with the big picture and then only bring in details when you need to." The Major looks back to her, lifting his hands to talk with them while he speaks. "See, its easy as hell to get lost in the details of an operation There's a temptation to throw it all together at once and you have this nasty proliferation of complexity. But really? What you need? What you need is ruthless simplification. So throw out all the details for now. Everything. Don't worry about the Raiders or the air defense guns. What're your goals? And I mean all of them down to personal concerns about aircrew."

Alessandra purses her lips, trying not to laugh at the Major, not wanting to seem rude even if he is making jokes. The notebook is pushed closer to him when he inquires as to if he can look, Lucky having no qualms at all with sharing. "The big thing Lasher was wanting me to do is make a plan of attack but outside of that, it seems to have been left entirely up to me. Which isn't a bad thing, really." Tapping a finger to her lip, she narrows her eyes as she thinks, going silent when she does. "We could do a total razz of the refinery which would really require nothing more than strategic bombing runs but if we're going to try to take control of it it'd require an entirely different plan. Strafing of defenses instead of outright destruction. Things like that. And…" Now she boggles. "The aircrew. That is just another complication, no?" Wow, this is getting to become bigger of a project than she thought.

Tillman shakes his head. "Nah, nah.." The Major waves his hand, not as concerned about profesisonal appearance as he is about the concepts. "You're still too detailed. Just make the assumption that you have to destroy the refinery. Taking control of something requires a lot more finesse and experience for planning." Probably something he would be involved in. "See, look at it from my perspective, okay? Your two main goals: First - Everyone comes home. Every time. Second - Destroy the refinery. The second one is easier because all you have to do is put a few bombs on it and is actually an off-shoot of the first goal. See, you can't destroy the refinery if your pilots are getting shot down. So!" He rolls his hands to indicate that this is all building. "Your ultimate goal is to make sure that everyone comes home. Take this one step at a time and work your plan from that angle. If you want to make sure your team comes home, then your first concern is probably going to be your approach to the target area, right? Because you want to avoid as much opposition as possible."

Alessandra nods as she listens. "So basically plans like these are made in an attempt to get everyone home," she says, thinking outloud without noticing she does so. "Okay." 'Get everyone home' is scrawled on another notebook, the first left in Tillman's possession. "So I got to figure out how to make this happen. I guess this is where putting thought into formations and everything comes into play?" The tone of her voice is starting to level off, the nervousness over this whole thing ebbing, allowing for her to relax although it's safe to assume that if it wasn't for the XO's help she'd probably be in a near panic right now.

The Major nods slowly, smiling. "Exactly. Every mission. Every time. You guys?" Tillman motions towards her. "You, as crew members and people, are our most valuable resource. We're people first. Even me. I swear." He grins. "But yeah. Formation flying is important because it gets you all comfortable in operating in tight spaces and help in maintain discipline in combat. It seems really boring, I'm sure, but you'll see how it comes into play. Those who are very good at it will see the application quickly." Tillman takes up an extra pen on the table. "So, with the idea of your approach and crew survivability in mind, you can procede. You already know your target and where it is, so its not too difficult a proposition. Just have t'start bringin' in details, now. Crew survivability means either eliminating or minimizing those threats to you and your pilots. With that in mind, what're your options?" The XO keeps it as informal and instructional as possible. He could be another LT for all he seems to care.

"Guess what we need to do is figure out formation over defense placement," Allie says while looking up, eyes lifted ceiling wards. "Of course it will vary from situation to situation as no one scenerio will ever be the same but, for the sake of making this as easy on myself as possible, I'll save focusing on that for a later date." Leaning over, she begins to draw little x's, in varios places after scribbling a hastily drawn parameter, trying to make it look at least vaguely astroid-like in shape. "Do we need to think about what they might possible throw at us or keep it basic? Like…standard AA missile towers and simple Raider numbers or is this when we need to start making this become a 'larger picture' kind of situation?"

The XO watches the paper get fleshed out with positions. "You know, we have a map room on Deck Seven? Its across from CIC. If you've got the time to read up on and learn it, there's a great program up there that lets you build three-dimensional maps and programs pretty easily. They show up on the big screens and you can use 'em in briefings in the Ready Room. Neat shit." He asides it all, continuing with her last. "Well that's up to you. Remember your ultimate goal. When I was in training for this, I had this Colonel for an instructor. He said that one of the most effective ways to learn how to plan strikes was to write down your ultimate goal someplace prominent and constantly look at it. Ask yourself whether or not what you are doing is working towards that goal directly, or it is side-tracking? If its side-tracking, chances are good that you are getting too complex. Complexity can get people killed - which is counterproductive at the very least. So - coming full circle back to your goal: Getting Everyone Home Alive. Do you think that SAM sites, Raider numbers, and flak positions will be important?"

The offer of the use of mapping program has Allie seriously giving it thought before she nods and breaks out into a huge grin. "That'd be great. I'm sure the Captain won't mind if I'm a few days late. Didn't seem to have any kind of deadline in mind. He just wants something to present to the CAG…" Chewing her lip, Allie looks back down, counting x's, having to give it some thought. "I believe so sir but that'd be only something we'd know in advance if we do a recon mission first." Yet -another- factor to take into consideration. "I think I am going to write up the main scenerio as us not knowing what the positions of the AA towers and other defenses and then write up a side mission as if we know what we're facing."

The XO dips his head. "No trouble. The map room isn't my own personal playpen. Though I will say that Tactical does have priority so you may have to bow to some of their needs. Don't know how often they need it, though." He scribbles the pen on the paper to get the ink flowing. Once done, he sketches out a quick phrase: 'Stay Flexible'. He tears it off the notepad and sets it down in front of her. "These two words will keep you alive, Lieutenant. You will be faced with circumstances where you may not have a chance for a recon. Sometimes you will come up on a target of opportunity. Plans like you're working on have the luxury of time. The single best skill you can have is the ability to ride the balls of your feet because when you don't have time to plan, the ability to stay flexible and adapt to a fluid combat environment will make the difference. I mean, what happens if your recon doesn't show any SAM sites. Then you get out there, you come over a ridge, and your radar warning receiver goes batshit nuts? What then?" He's not trying to scare her. The man is still smiling, his tone conversational while he talks in abstract. "Plans have to have this quality, too. Those who are flexible leaders create flexible plans. Flexible plans survive contact with the enemy."

Alessandra's lip chewing turns a bit more frantic, the flesh going red and then white as the pressure against the flesh increases. "I see what you're saying now, sir," she eventually responds with whiile reaching up, running her hand along her mouth to make sure she didn't accidentally chew a hole there. "I think I know what I can do now." The note is lifted from where it has been placed and is read, those two simple words getting her to smile and even relax. "How about something like this. We can set up the scenerio as being after a recon mission and give those taking part in the exercise a 'report' - numbers of defenses, what kind, etcetera, only to then try and throw a wrench into the mix by…" Finding herself on the verge of babbling excitedly, Allie stops in midsentence and blushes, embarrassed. "Sorry, sir. As I was saying, we can ramp it up a bit without them knowing. Throw them a curveball, eh?"

The Major listens, smiling as she finally slows herself down. "Its alright, Lieutenant. Nothing wrong with getting excited. And I'm a big fan of curveballs, myself, so you're not going to hear arguments. Just as long as they are balanced with equally good intelligence. The test of a good, flexible plan, is that no matter what? It still applies. If you encounter more defenses, less defenses, or the expected amount. These pilots you are designing the strike for.. have a goal for yourself. What are you trying to teach them? Maybe -you- want to teach them to be flexible. Maybe they will teach you a thing or two about it, themselves - which is good. Never be afraid of a junior officer teaching you something new, aye?"

More note-taking and more nodding is what Alessandra does, everything that has been taken in and is able to be put on paper done so right up to where Tillman comments about learning something from the others. "Of course. One should always try to learn what they can from others. Even officers of a lesser rank.." The paper eventually winds up a clutter of hastily phrased scentences and commentary written in 'short hand', the majority of this being something she'd have to decipher if anyone else were wanting to read it. Considering it good enough for now, she sets her pencil aside and instead watches him, starting by looking at him as a whole only to then look directly into his eyes. "I do appreciate the advice, Major. I…it is all starting to make sense, now." There's a slight quiver of her mouth, the raising of one corner of it before the grin becomes a full-on, appreciative smile.

"Yeah. A lot of people get the concept of learning from people underneath ya, but the actual practice is a little different. Some people just don't have the room in their noggin for somethign else." Tillman even raps his knuckles on his head to illustrate, smiling. "Advice ain't a problem, Lieutenant. People who want help and are willing to ask deserve every bit of it as long as they can put their own work into the application. Does Laskaris have you working on this alone or with someone else?"

Alessandra blinks. "I think it's difficult for people who have too much ego. Which, unfortunately, is the case with a lot of pilots and other officer-types. It can be hard to learn from someone who is technically supposed to be your subordinate when you're conditioned to think of them, and the practice of learning from them, as being beneath you." An odd statement, coming from someone who is a pilot herself, but with the events of the last two months, Allie has been pretty well stripped of her ego. "I'm working on this alone," Allie then adds once she mulls over the previous subject a bit. "Which I am glad for, really. It's a much, much needed distraction from what I've had on my mind, lately."

Tillman shrugs. "It could be anything. Yeah, its harder in the military because of exactly what you're talkin' about - but its also a trait that follows you into regular life. Recognizing that maybe someone else has a better idea is just as important as learning to say 'I don't know' to a superior officer." Tillman's bean leaning a bit on the table for awhile as if he's a study buddy or something working on a project. "Alone. Nice. Yeah things like this can get frustrating. Helps to have someone to bounce ideas off of. But if anyone asks, you did this all by yourself, eh?" He winks. "Just promise me that you'll pack on what I'm telling you to other officers. If you do that, then sittin here going over this is more than worth the time it takes." He smirks, tapping the end of the pen agaisnt the notepad. "Got somethin else rackin your brain, Lieutenant? Or just thinkin about family?" The expression softens a touch.

The whole 'this is our little secret' feel to this has Alessanra smiling again, this time one that is about to consume her face making its way to her face. "I won't tell anyone, sir," she promises along with, "And I promise to pass on what you've taught me to others. Too important of a lesson not to." Done for now, the balled up pieces of paper start to be gathered, put in a neater pile at the end of the table to be thrown out later. "Family is part of it. And…a man." It's something she's not looking forward to revisit but she's not going to do tell the XO that outright, hoping that the slight tension in her face and the slightly sad tone of her voice will discourage the Major from asking about the latter.

"Good. Knowledge is our best weapon. It doesn't help each other to keep things back." The Major taps the pen idly on the table, still smiling. With her last, the man gives a soft 'Ah.' and looks back to the notepad. "Family. And a man," he repeats. "The who isn't my business, I assume. Just remember to tread softly and consider the consequences of your actions - and I mean romantically." He lifts his eyes without putting his whole face to her. The man almost seems quieter and more subdued. "We had our families before Warday. You, me, Abbott, everyone. Even the librarian. Now?" He takes a long breath and rolls the pen between his fingers, looking at it. "We're all family. Brothers and sisters. We're in this together with our backs to the wall in the same fight. This family, much like the ones who we left behind on the Colonies, are not the ones we chose but the ones we were given. The choices we make with our new family will effect the future for longer than you and I will ever know about. The question is whether or not you want to worry about a future. We all have our ideas for what the next week, month, even year might hold. But being a pilot, Lieutenant, I think your position is a little different. Ya'll have a different bond I'll never understand." Yep, there's the man behind the rank.

Alessandra is not often one to show her emotions outside of the basic and sometimes more-baser ones, the more private feelings kept locked away. But the Major seems to hit a chord somewhere and the tears begin to fall. Finally. "I've never been good at letting people close to me," she mutters while trying to keep herself composed. There's no effort made in keeping her tears at bay or to dry them off, for once letting someone else who isn't Captain Laskaris or Lieutenant Ekonomo see what is inside her heart. "All I ever had was my mother and father. No siblings, we moved around a lot due to my father's military career so we weren't near any of our extended family. Then I joined up and thought it wouldn't matter. That I would never have to worry about being alone or needing friends because Mother and Father were still fairly young. Healthy. They were supposed to live for so much longer than they did." Shaking her head, she looks away, something about keeping Tillman's gaze with hers almost hurtful. "Then I get here, find myself falling for a man who never knew how I felt until it was too late and now he's in a position where nothing can come out of it." The urge to get off of her chest is finally quelled and she suddenly slumps in her chair, looking spent and defeated for a minute. "Sorry for dumping that on you, Major," she apologizes meekly.

Tillman let's her cry and doesn't try to hold her eyes anymore. "No apologies, Lieutenant. Its a tough subject for anyone. Nobody is immune from it, either. Even me." He glances at her, making an effort to give her a smile. "My parents were the same way. I was born during the first war. Never saw much of my dad until after it all ended. I know how you feel, though… Probably a lot like my daughters. Getting sick of moving." He gives a little smirk, absently eyeing the pen in his fingers. "Friends were tough. Like you, I always figured they'd be there. But like I said. We've been given a second chance. You probably won't like all these people and they may not like you..But what you do is important. I remember hearing you on the radio last night. Knocking down those nukes saved innumerable numbers of lives. And for what its worth from me? Thank you. Your family owes you more than it can already repay."

Alessandra looks oddly at Tillman, surprised to hear that he has been in the same boat she found herself in, the fact comforting like a favorite blanket or old sweater is. "Wow. Tha was wholly unexpected, Major. But, at the same, not unexpected." The rest of what Tillman had to say is soaked in like a dry sponge does water, absorbed and clung to, every single thing. "My fam…oh, you mean those upon the Cerberus. Nah, no one owes me anything, Major. I was just doing what I could. Doing my job." Blushing, she finds herself squirming, her modesty keeping her from enjoying the gratitude.

The Major chuckles. "My father was a CAG during the first war. Even did some teaching afterwards. We didn't settle anyplace until I was eight or nine? Maybe ten? I barely remember, anymore. Lifetime and half ago. But I think I lived on six colonies by the time we finally settled." He looks back to her with the last and shakes his head. "I ain't just talkin' about your family here. This new one? Yeah. We all owe you. But your real family? Mom and Dad? They were military?" He stops tapping the pen and gestures to her with the unheld end. "How do you think they'd feel about what you're doing? They'd probably be holding their heads high and telling everyone they know about you. Do your family proud isn't just about doing your job, Lieutenant. Its about serving the honor of the fallen as well. Its a burden I think we should all gladly carry and recognize. Keeps us honest about who we are and what we're doing."

Alessandra chuckles. "We only ever lived on Picon but we moved a lot…Gods, sir. I never thought I'd say this, but I really miss home." Head ducking, she reaches behind the back of it, digging the tips of her fingers into the hair at her nape which causes some of the shorter, finer pieces to fall from the braid she has it up in. "You call it honorable, some would probably be more inclined to call it suicidal but…seriously, Major? I just did what was right. Just because that's what it was. The right thing for me to do." Her fingers continue to work throughout her hair, freeing more and more of it until the plaiting it is held in becomes nothing more than a sloppy, frizzy mess.

Tillman chuckles. "Yeah I was on Picon for a bit, too. I miss it a bit but I don't remember much. Most of my time there was on official business. My family was back on Scorpia. I wake up every single day and miss it. I was going to finish out this cruise.." He flattens his hand and sails it out in front of him slowly. "Then faaaade away into retirement. Do something obnoxious like worry over my grandkids in a few years. Grumble about kids ruining my lawn. Maybe get a cane and shake it at passers-by. Gotta have the rocking chair, too." The Major grins. "But honorable, suicidal, serving your job. Whatever you want to label it as, the point is that the actions of yourself and two other pilots - as I understand it - prevented nukes from even having a chance to get close. You got lucky and got home pretty unscathed as I hear, but just keep it in mind. What you're doing takes guts. You may not see the pride in it all the time, but if you ever find yourself losing faith and wondering what its all for? Walk the hallways, eh? Look at the people around you. We do it for family. And the families who have passed. All those brothers and sisters who stand to your shoulder. For all the hell that's happened, I wouldn't want to be anyplace else."

Alessandra smiles at first when Tillman describes how he foresaw himself, the image it brings into her mind getting her to even go as far as to chuckle a little, but then he continues and she sobers, the jovial mood now thoughtful, the smile now a slight frown. "I will, sir. I will." The tip of her tongue slips between her teeth for a second, just long enough to wet her lips, the lower one of which has been turned a bit raw, it getting her to wrinkle her nose slightly when she notices the sting. "I should go, sir. I'm still a bit weak from being in the infirmary and I think I'm going to try and get some sleep before the others try to do the same. Not sure who it is but someone snores horribly. Makes it difficult to get rest." Getting up, she gets her notes and everything, the wads of papers also gathered so they can be deposited in the waste bin on her way to the door.

Tillman nods. "No problem. I need to get some of my research done, too, and get on out of here. You be careful out there, aye? Shooting down nukes is part of your job but it doesn't mean it ain't dangerous. Check six, Lieutenant." He taps the end of the pen to his temple as if in a salute and lifts it off to hand her back to the pen before she leaves. "Thanks for the talk. Be seein' you around."

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