PHD #013: Thank You For Smoking
Thank You For Smoking
Summary: Well, some people won't. Two pilots and an engineer converge in the Laundry.
Date: 11 Mar 2041 AE
Related Logs: None
Laskaris Haeleah Sitka 

[ Laundry Room ]------[ Deck 3 - Battlestar Cerberus ]

Industrial washers and dryers line each side of this elongated room, which typically has personnel moving in and out all day and night. These front-loading systems are designed to withstand the rigors of a military beating and still function as expected. A sturdy set of counters run the length of the room for crewmembers to fold their own laundry and dress and pins or patches before and after the process.

=[ Condition Level: 2 - Danger Close ]=

The only sounds in the laundry room are the dull hum of several machines at work and the soft tap-tap of boots on the deck. Laskaris is here, clad in his offduty tanks-and-trousers, a green blouse with lieutenant's pins hanging haphazardly from the back of a nearby char. His laundry bag is once again filled to bursting with clothes that reek of stale sweat and body odor. The stench is mostly covered up, though, by the acrid scent of the smoke coming from the cigarette in Lasher's hand. Right now, he leans over a washing machine, tossing bits of clothing into the water.

With the dull hum, Haeleah's entrance might be missed right off. She's in her offduties and carting along a bag stuffed with dirty clothes. Albeit not as large a load as Laskaris'. She comes in quietly, an abstracted look on her face. Up in her own head, and not making too much undue noise. So it's not until she's half-way to a free washer that her nose starts to twitch. She smells the smoke. And, smelling it, her head turns toward Laskaris. Nose wrinkled. "You have any idea what that thing is doing to your vital systems?" Not the friendliest greeting, all in all.

At first, Lasher isn't sure Haeleah is talking to him, but there's no one else in the room. A wintry expression is directed at the unfamiliar woman. The Viper pilot tosses a couple last bits of clothing into the machine — all the while taking a long, luxuriant drag, the smoke billowing slowly from his lips with relish. "And what gave you the idea that I gave a bloody damn?" he asks acidly in return, that Aerilon accent, as always, doing horrible things to his vowels.

Haeleah's own accent is unremarkable Libran. So it does nothing particularly interesting to either her vowels of consonants. She keeps going on nonetheless, however. Unphased by Laskaris' curt response. If anything, it seems to encourage her. "Obviously nothing, since you seems all about inhaling, but I have a little more love for my lungs." She only half-looks at him as she natters on. Half her attention is on sorting. Military clothes entirely, mostly fatigues, those covered in various degrees of sweat, engine grease and other unidentifiable battlestar system stains. "Mercury, ammonia, nitric oxide, hydrogen cyanide…I could go no. Plus, if you're sucking up a pack a day of those things, you're getting the equivalent of a coffee cup of tar. What color are you teeth? Stuff turns 'em yellow, if you don't care about your health. Or the perfume." She sniffs pointedly. "Very attractive."

Laskaris rolls his eyes as he closes the washer in front of him. "Who th' frak died and made you the bleedin' surgeon general?" Well… probably the surgeon general. But that's neither here nor there. He eyes Haeleah for a moment, his expression a half-smirk, half-sneer before he quickly selects the wash cycle and starts the machine up. Said smirk widens at the coffee comment. "Always knew there was a reason I didn't drink that crap." Then, the washer next to the one he just started is emptied, its wet soggy contents shoved into a nearby dryer. "Besides… given what's going on? I'm thinking it's more likely a Cylon will do me in before this will." Lasher gestures with the cigarette.

Haeleah pivots around sharp at that to actually face in Laskaris' direction properly. Something in there actually struck a nerve, beyond her rather broad grousing about the smoke before. "You think that's funny? Think getting your ass blown up is something to be all la-dee-da about? I…" And then claps her mouth shut. Stopping herself from going on. It clearly takes some effort but, again, something in what she said brought her up short. "You know what? Never mind." Clothes are stuffed, rather violently, into a washer.

"Eh?" Lasher raises an eyebrow in surprise; his eyes widen slightly at her sudden change in tone. Now, the woman has his complete attention. The Viper pilot backpedals — metaphorically speaking, of course. "Here, now, I didn't say that," he protests, brows furrowing. "I mean…" There's a brief silence as his tongue fumbles. It's not often that the veteran lieutenant is at a loss for words, but Haeleah's done it. "If we do die? It's not like any of us'll have much of a say as t' how, or when. You obsess about that shit too much or you try to ignore that reality and pretend everything'll be all right in the end… it'll drive you insane, you know what I mean?" He shrugs. "Say what you like. I couldn't report you if I wanted to. I don't even know your name."

Haeleah is silent for a long time. It's hard to tell if she's listening to that. Her attention is all on her laundry. Detergent is poured with careful focus that isn't at all necessary of the task. Washer lid shut, with something of a slam, cycle selected. With that, she gets it humming. When she finally does turn around to face him again, arms crossed along her chest she says, "You going to report me for not liking second-hand smoke? Wasn't aware that was a court-martial offense…sir?" It's half a question. Mainly an assumption. Whatever got her hackles up has settled now and, if she's still not friendly, she's coolly conversational. "Name's Parres. Haeleah Parres. Lieutenant, junior grade. Engineering. You got a name, or I should I wait until we're both before the JAG for proper introductions?" A joke. She's now settled into acerbic banter.

Laskaris flushes crimson at Haeleah's first question, but the uncharacteristic flash of color quickly fades from his pale features. "That isn't what I bloody well meant." he mutters crossly, before cutting himself off with a shake of the head. "Just — never you frakkin' mind." There's another pause; shale-colored eyes continue to study the woman as he steps over to the dryer. A needle-thin smile is his only response to her witticism. "Uh. Lieutenant Anton Laskaris. 'Lasher'. Black Knights," he introduces himself haltingly.

"Lasher?" The callsign is met with a smirk and low chuckle. "Pilot. I should have guessed." Whatever that means. Haeleah doesn't elaborate. She leans back against her washer, arms still crossed, studying him in return. "Why do they call you that, anyway? I never understood how they come up with those flyboy names."

"Yeah, pilot. How else do you think I can get away with stained teeth?" comes the retort. "Gold wings go a long way. Most days." Lasher says the latter bit wryly, not taking himself too seriously on that one. His shoulders twitch in a shrug, and he leans one side against his dryer, facing her. The cigarette comes back up to his lips. "Well. Generally, it's something embarrassing. Something funny you did once, something about you, or so on." A wave of the hand, and he continues, hand moving up in an awkward motion to scratch the back of his head. "A couple years into my first assignment, I'd just made JG and I snapped at a couple rook ensigns fresh out of the frakkin' academy. Tore them a bloody new one, almost turned 'em into stains on the deck." His tone is an odd mix of pride, abashedness, and amusement. "Then, after my SL tore me a new one, I got the new handle." Another shrug. "Short for tongue-lasher, I suppose." Smirk.

Haeleah's brows arch at that that first part. She snorts. It's another quick chuckle, though whether she's laughing at him or with him is hard to determine. The actual callsign story earns a more genuine laugh. "I guess it could be worse. Sorry to say they don't give snipes any neat-o nicknames, usually. Too bad. Kind of curious what I'd end up being stuck with." She glances over her shoulder to check the time on her washer. She's still got cycles to go. "You been in the Fleet long?"

Sitka arrives from the Deck 3.
Sitka has arrived.

Haeleah and Laskaris are each standing by nearby machines, conversing as they rotate loads of laundry. "Don't ask me. I was never any good at coming up with them," Laskaris replies in a deadpan. He doesn't answer her question right away, instead going to finish shoving his wet clothes in the dryer. After the machine begins to cycle, though, Lasher looks back to Haeleah with a nod, cigarette finding its way back into his mouth. "Yeah," he affirms, voice slightly muffled. "Frak me… going on eight years now." He snorts. "Wasn't planning t' stay in much longer, either. So much for those plans," he notes sardonically.

Haeleah's arms are crossed along her chest as she converses with Laskaris. The posture isn't defensive, exactly, but it's not exactly relaxed. Still, she's conversing pleasantly enough. She's got a machine going but is in the middle of her washing cycle, so she just lets it spin. "I'm getting into my sixth. I was in it for the long haul, I guess. Just finished up my master's on Scorpia. I did it through the military extension program, and they get kind of twitchy if they think they've wasted their money. This ship was my plan." A general nod around at the bulkhead walls. "Not that this isn't different, though. Everything's different."

The creak and thump of the hatch admits another crew member with sundries to wash. This one's a Captain, sporting a slightly rumpled tee shirt, and sweatpants tucked into combat boots. His bag of laundry is ditched by one of the machines, and a glance shot to Laskaris before he begins poking at the various dials and settings. "Hey, Anton," he greets quietly, during a convenient lapse in conversation. Haeleah's shot an awkward twitch of a smile that doesn't really touch his eyes.

Lasher, likewise, seems a little tense himself, even by his own standards. Nothing too far outside the realm of the ordinary, though. "Got all my schoolin' done before I joined up. The Fleet was my escape from the real world." It's said sardonically, as he expels a breath of smoke. "Hnh. I like the job, most days. Some of the people I've worked for… not so much." He shrugs. "Before all this started, I figured there wasn't much higher I could go, so might as well find my way back to the civilian world in a year or two. Crises have a funny way of frakking with your life plans." His head swivels as a third voice joins the group. "Oi, Shiv," he hails the other pilot with a faint nod.

"Hey," Haeleah offers to Sitka. Cordial enough. Tone a little more polite than when she was rattling on to Laskaris in fact. He gets a nod, which makes her currently unpinned curls bob, but she doesn't bother to attempt a smile. To Laskaris she replies, "I did undergrad on Libran on my own cubits. Well, the Colonial Government's, technically. Student loans are a bitch. Got into ROTC because I heard a rumor it'd pay down my debt. It fit okay. Felt like it did, at least." There's a past-tense aspect to that. Head it tilted at Sitka. "Shiv?" This does get a grin. "That another one of your fly nicknames?"

The cordial tone either isn't noticed, or doesn't strike Sitka as abnormal, judging by his behaviour. He's probably accustomed to it from the 'regular' military folk. Once the machine's set up how he wants it, he upends his canvas bag of laundry inside, and closes the lid. "It's my callsign.." he informs the young woman, blue eyes briefly flickering over her collar in search of a rank. Finding none, he leaves that hanging a bit awkwardly, and resumes the business of starting his washer.

Lasher snorts at the mention of 'fly nicknames', his head wagging ever so slightly side to side. "How's tricks?" he directs a moment later in the direction of Sitka as Lasher again leans with a shoulder against the wall of dryers. Then, there's a curt nod to Haeleah. "Loans. Yeah." He makes a noise. "I was still paying off loans when I made JG. And that was with the bloody Fleet's help."

Haeleah is bereft of signs of rank at the moment. She's in her off-duties. She fills up the awkward space by adding her general information to it, however. "Haeleah Parres. Engineering. L-T. J-G. I haven't met many of the pilots. Just got assigned to the ship when it left drydock, and they tend to keep us chained to the FTL. We keep it running by jogging on a big treadmill. Kind of like hamsters." She crooks a little half-smile, joking around, though it seems a little forced. A shrug to Laskaris. "I don't even want to think about what grad school would've actually cost. I pretty much signed over my natural life to the Navy. Not that I had any other plans. What'd you study?"

"Nice to meet you, Haeleah," the pilot returns, glancing over again briefly once he's got the lid down and the load started. To Lasher, "Doing all right. I mentioned your idea to the CAG, last night. She seemed to like it, so whenever you want to get together and discuss patrol schedules.." His right hand disappears into a pocket of his sweats, and extracts a pack of cigarettes and a lighter. Which are promptly switched to his left, so he can lean in and offer Haeleah the proper hand for a shake. "Ibrahim Sitka. Uh, Captain."

"Computer science," Lasher offers to Haeleah. "And no, you don't," he adds with a thin smile. "Took me half the time as undergrad, and it put me out even more cubits than the bachelor's did." There's a derisive snort as Lasher shakes his head ruefully. Eyes shift over to Sitka, and he inclines his head. "Didn't figure she wouldn't. All right…" He pauses to ponder for a moment. "I'll catch up with you in the ready room tomorrow on shift, then, and we can hash something out."

Haeleah's nose wrinkles some as Sitka withdraws the smokes. "You have any idea what those things do to your vital systems, sir?" she asks him. Though she's not overly pushy about it. She even smiles a little, shooting a smug look at Laskaris for some reason as she does. She takes his hand and gives it a quick pump. Her palms are small and calloused in places. "Anyway, pleasure, Ibrahim. Is there a reason they call you Shiv?" A glance over her shoulder at Laskaris. "'Lasher' here was just telling me his story." The young pilot's callsign is used wryly. "It was kinda funny." Kinda. Her tone carries a slightly theatric note of Underwhelmed at whatever it was. She shows a tad more interest when he speaks of his education, however. "No kidding?" She doesn't bother to hide her surprise. "Part of my concentration for my master's in Mechanical Engineering was Mechatronics. Involves a little software shit, among other things. The Engineering Corps has been big on that kind of thing for a last few years."

Sitka's own hand is callused, and his grip a little rough. Sagittarian, probably, even if the slight accent and the swarthy looks didn't give it away. "Every callsign's got an embarassing story behind it," he points out with a faint smile, and withdraws to lean against the edge of his washer so he can tap out a cigarette. "Yeah, I have some." Idea. The smoke's promptly lit, and brought to his lips. "Sure," he tells Laskaris, "I'm off patrol around fifteen hundred hours, barring another vertical stabiliser busting on me. Been through three in the past two weeks." The deck crew must love him for that.

Probably wisely, Lasher doesn't comment on the cigarette issue beyond a grunt, a roll of the eyes, and a long drag from his own dwindling cancer stick. As for the callsign bit? He chuckles darkly. "They're all 'kinda funny'… t' someone else," he notes with a crooked smirk. "No, no kidding," he adds a moment later. "Bachelor's at Delphi, master's at Nemea. Leonis," he clarifies the last. "Yeah, my recruiter wondered why I didn't go the snipe route," Lasher says dryly. An understanding nod is directed at Sitka. "I bloody hear that." A snort. "No CAP for me tomorrow. I'll be in the ready room at fifteen hundred, then."

Haeleah own accent is only remarkable in its genericness. Libran, if one knows about those things. She shifts out of the general smoking vicinity, unloading her laundry from the washer. It's a mess of fatigues, all of which are stuffed in to dry. "Four thousand chemicals. And a pack a day is the equivalent of drinking a coffee cup of tar." She's one of *those*. Though that's the extent of her harping just now. She's still somewhat distracted by talk of higher learning. "I got my bachelor's at Nomos U on Libran. It's better ranked for pre-law than technical programs, really, but it got the job done. And it was cheaper to stay on-colony. I hear Caprica's overrated for the cubits they charge in tuition, anyway."

Silent, the Captain merely nods his acquiescence to Laskaris and takes a long pull from his smoke while the pair socialise. Chitchat does not appear to be his forte. Though he may be trying to place Haeleah's accent, descript or non.

Lasher's own cigarette has finally seen its end; the butt is dropped to the floor and crushed beneath his boot. "Delphi wasn't bad. Caprica U, now, those wankers would bend you over for every credit they could pound out of your used, twitching corpse." A shake of the head. Hey, chitchat isn't exactly his thing, either. "How're the II's holding up, anyway?" This over to Sitka. "Bloody airframes have already probably seen more stress than anybody'd figured they would this whole frakking deployment."

"Never been to Caprica except to catch transports to-and-from Navy spots," Haeleah says. "I heard the museums in Delphi aren't a bad way to spend a day, though." Or weren't. She clears her throat, fiddling with the settings on her dryer, though an ear still seems tuned to the conversation as it turns semi-technical.

If the Captain were a more brazen man, he might be pointing out that those airframes are the self same ones that received so much snickering behind the backs of pilots' hands, during the initial war games. How long ago those seem, now. He ashes out his cigarette, and scratches at the scar above his lip before answering Lasher, "They're built pretty solid. I'd say they've got another decade of life in them, easy, even with what we're putting them through. From what I understand, parts are the problem." Blue eyes turn to Haeleah briefly as she clears her throat, then lower again to the deck. "I guess my pilots'll probably be getting crosstrained in flying the sevens, soon as we can," he adds to his fellow viper jock.

"Parts, yeah. Most of the shit we're packing is for the Sevens," Lasher muses, as much to himself as to Sitka. He goes to reach for another cigarette, but thinks better of it a moment later. He nods slowly to the captain at the mention of crosstraining. "Anything I can do…" The lieutenant spreads his arms, the rest of the implied offer going unsaid. "If you were into that sort of thing, anyway," he says to Haeleah a moment later. A smile. "I didn't get out of the apartment much." He's a computer geek, after all. Interpret that how you will.

"I'm glad I'm not on the Deck crew right now. I'd be afraid of breaking one of those pretty lady Mark Sevens. The vital systems on a battlestar can take a slightly less delicate touch," Haeleah says wryly. "I've taken a passing glance at their internal computer schematics, but small-craft avionics is *not* may bag. There is a *lot* going on with the electronics in those little things. It's impressive, but it all seems kind of over-engineered from a mechanical perspective." To Laskaris, a shrug. "Not really my bag, either, but I always got the feeling the museums on Libran suffered from a Caprica inferiority complex. Wouldn't have minded seeing the real deal." Before the worlds blew up. Yeah. She turns her attention back to her drying for a moment.

A soft "mmhm" implies Sitka's corroboration with what Laskaris says, and the squad leader once again falls silent while studying a scrape on his knuckles. "They're amazing pieces of machinery," he confides in Haeleah, a smile flicking across his lips too fast to really be identified as such. He, of course, almost certainly holds a fond place in his heart for the IIs.

Lasher's eyes go quickly to his dryers; nope, still time left. "Right on both counts," he says with the shade of a smile at Haeleah. "I don't envy the bleedin' knuckledraggers a bit, myself. Shit they've got in the Sevens makes the Two's internal systems look like the little piece of shit that runs my sister's cell phone." He shakes his head. "First time I actually looked at the Seven's computer schematics, it made me wonder if the thing was a fighter or a flyin' supercomputer. Damn well close enough, anyway."

"Similar mentality that went into designing the new Mercury Class, really. On a bigger scale. The tech on this thing is amazing to play with in places. It's why I put in for the assignment. I do kind of miss the simplicity of stuff when I was pulling escort carrier duty, though," Haeleah says. "When something broke, it was less of a pain in the ass to fix." She eyes her drying, watching the clothes spin right round, right round. Nearing done.

As tech talk makes a brief foray into prior postings, Shiv's head come up again so he can absently study the young engineer. "Which carrier?" he asks, blue eyes touched with a glint of curiosity. His washer's got a few minutes left on it, and he'll know when it buzzes, by dint of lounging against it. His eyes stay on Haeleah, without quite making contact with hers.

And now, it's Lasher's turn to temporarily fade into the background. As Haeleah and Sitka start swapping stories of past postings, Lasher brings his empty bag over to one of his dryers. The door is open, and the Viper pilot begins haphazardly shoving still-warm pieces of clothing into said bag. His head occasionally cranes to keep track of the conversation.

"My first assignment was on the Pasiphae," Haeleah replies to Sitka. "Shipping lane duty between Aquaria and Canceron mostly. It wasn't glamorous but the route pushed the smaller engine, and the snipes had to juggle a little bit of everything. I learned a lot. After that it was the Shipyards and Scorpia. Hung out there while I was getting my grad work done. This was my first battlestar assignment. I figured I was lucky to get it." There's that hint of past-tense in her voice. A bit. She's alive, so the Cerberus has that going for it right now. "You?" The question is directed at Sitka, though it's a sort of all-inclusive line for information.

"Pasiphae," Sitka repeats, dark brows furrowing thereafter in thought. "Doesn't ring a bell." He listens to the rest of her story, and the scarred side of his mouth pulls up in a slight smile. "The Delphus was my.. uh." Flick, flick. His thumb taps the filter of his cigarette, loosening another tiny column of ash. "Third. Pretty sure it was my third tour of active duty. Ugly sons of bitches, those escort carriers. But I imagine to an engineer what a mark two is to a pilot?" His eyes shift Laskaris' way for a moment, then back to Haeleah. "First time I've set foot on a battlestar, myself."

Lasher's eyes widen slightly from the sidelines. "First time, Shiv?" He seems surprised. "Hell, they stuck me on frakkin' Valkyrie right out of flight school. Only had one assignment that wasn't a battlestar, and that was on frakkin' Tauron." He snorts. "Honestly. Who the frak puts a garrison on the edge of a bloody blighted desert?"

Haeleah gets a chuckle out of Sitka's comparison of escort carriers to old Vipers. "Never thought of it that way, but it's apt. Like I said, though, I learned more working with the systems there than I would've on some spiffier vessels. And they were reliable. Complicating a system too much makes it skittish. And, like I said, a major PITA when something breaks down." A snort at Laskaris. "Been around the battlestars, huh?" The sarcasm is light, but palpable. On a more serious note she adds, "I always kind of wanted to see Tauron. I know it's reputation is spotty in places, but some of the tech work that's been done there is really intriguing."

Sitka's small smile widens into a brief grin when Lasher speaks. It's there, and then all traces of it are utterly obliterated as his features regain their severity once more. "Yeah, yeah." He doesn't seem particularly chagrined by it, really. "They save the battlestars for the hot shit pilots, I guess." Mention of Tauron results in a briefly bemused look from the squad leader, though whatever its source may be, he isn't sharing.

If Haeleah's question was meant as a barb, Lasher's not rising to it, this time. He does, however, mock-defensively throw up his arms when Sitka speaks. Geez, tag-teamed. "Hot shit. Yeah. That's me." He snorts. "The Valkyrie was a decent assignment, but then I got t' cool my heels on Tau Garrison for a year and a half before they shipped me off to an old rust bucket who went t' the breakers a year after I stepped on board. That's far closer t' frak-up territory than golden child territory, my friends. How I drew this billet, only the frakking Lords know." Despite his best effort at a calm tone and the semblance of a smile that still clings to his face, a mixture of defensiveness and sharp sarcasm starts to creep into his voice.

Haeleah looks, for whatever reason, both vaguely smug and vaguely apologetic at the defensiveness about Laskaris. Which seems to annoy her. Her dryer's done it's job, anyway, so she gets to unloading her fatigues and stuffing them back into her duffel. "Well. Better go hit my rack so I can get these dirty again tomorrow. Been a pleasure, flyboys." Two fingers are raised to her temples in a sorta-salute that just turns into a mini-wave.

"Nah. You frak up, they ship you out to Aeskil Anchorage, where jigs go to rot," Sitka tells his partner in crime, aka sometimes wingmate, aka Laskaris. Sliding his cigarette between his lips after his washer buzzes, he eases off the edge of the machine, and turns around to tend to the transfer of clothing to a nearby dryer. "Take it easy," he tells the snipe over his shoulder. His hands are occupied, so he doesn't even return the two-fingered salute.

"Heh." The droll comment from Sitka stops Lasher before the younger man can build up any steam. "Things could always be worse. Point taken," he notes in a deadpan. There's a long look at the departing Haeleah, and Lasher inclines his head in farewell. "See you," he offers as he goes back to gathering up his laundry.

Haeleah heads out the hatch without further ado. Abandoning the laundry room to the mercy of pilots.

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