PHD #003: The Devil's Tool
The Devil's Tool
Summary: Kulko and Santiago get acquainted over caffeine.
Date: 01 Mar 2041 AE
Related Logs: none
Kulko Santiago 

[ Recreation Room ]-----[ Deck 9 - Battlestar Cerberus ]—

This huge room spans quite a lot of floor space, the support beams crisscrossing at even points throughout the room. The two sides are divided fairly between the Enlisted and Officers with an unseen line more or less running down the center of the room. A couple pool and card tables sit in no-man's land with a series of regular mess tables at the rear of the room, nearest a counter full of minor refreshments like coffee and bags of chips. Magazines and reading material are spread out over the couched seating areas and a few televisions are set-up with a couple of video game systems made available.

Seated on one of the couches, in front of a vid screen, is a woman who is quite clearly a civilian. Her attire screams wealth. She's sat back on the couch, legs crossed at the knee. A cup of something steamy is wedged between two couch cushions next to her — the efficient approach to couch camping with a beverage whilst leaving both hands free, and not having to move much to retrieve said beverage. In her well manicured hands, fingernails lightly clacking against it, is a video game controller. On the screen: slow moving, gore dripping, maw open, space zombies. Princess Aquaria is playing Killer Space Zombies. Her dark green eyes are fixed on the screen, though her expression gives little away. She could be contemplating high tea as she unloads thousands of rounds into the unfortunate digital foes.

Kulko moseys into the rec room, uniform tunic undone lazily at the collar, and heads straight for the counter. The game serves as background noise while the ensign procures a cup of coffee - black, with a boatload of sugar. Only once he's done does he take in the sight before him, regarding the woman with a bemused smirk. He stands behind the couch, watching the screen intently, and sampling the beverage to ensure minimal burn potential.

The images on the screen flash by in usual high speed, video game fashion. A zombie lurches out of the corner of the screen, the the hands on the controller adjust to snap shot. In a moment of extreme hand eye coordination, or perhaps luck, the shot blows off the zombie's head, and there's a spurt of hyper realistic gore and blood splashes across the screen. "Uhngh." Finally, a response from Santiago. She punches the pause button, and tosses the controller aside, going for her tea to cover up the expression on her face. She happens to glance up, just as the cup comes to her lips.

"Howdy." Kulko raises his cup by way of greeting, free arm folded across his midsection. "You as quick on the trigger in real life? Or is this a, ah…" His eyes flit to the screen and back to the Aquarian, "a solely virtual pursuit?"

There's a long sip taken of the tea, and her eyes peruse Kulko's face, before finally settling on his eyes. "I don't usually play these games. I was feeling a little vicious, but after that, I'm thinking firearms are best avoided." She looks a bit disgusted, still. Could have something to do with the Picon Incident, as it's so lovingly been termed. "My skill in the range is only as good as my security specialist insisted it be, no more. I don't like them." Guns. "Lucky shot." She sips again, lingering over the tea. "… Have we met?" Something about the man's face seems familiar, but she has no name to go with it.

"I think we're all feelin' a spot of bloodlust, right about now." Kulko settles his cup onto the back of the couch, looking back to the screen for a moment. "Ain't worth a damn at these things myself… Pop always said they were CMC tryna' get in our heads and teach us to fight before we finished school." He resumes eye contact and offers a half bow from the waist before extending his hand. "Ensign Stephen Kulko, junior tactical."

Santiago regards the man for a moment, and makes no move to re-take the controller from the couch. She reaches for the remote, and clicks the vid screen off. "Santiago Blue, Aquaria." The last is tacked on as a bit of an afterthought. She reaches over to take his hand, her own mostly smooth with just a hint of roughness across the knuckles of her palm. "A pleasure, Stephen. Tactical. So you get the view from CIC. I hear it's nice."

Kulko makes an equivocal gesture with his free hand. "'View' prolly ain't the right word for it. Everything comes through a DRADIS screen or gets plotted on a map. So you really don't see a whole lot of anythin' at all." He tries the coffee again, without success. "The real view would be from a Viper cockpit… 180 degree open canopy. See all of space in front of you. But we have the advantage of being able to 'see' the big picture."

"But with the viper cockpit comes all the jocks," there's a slight smile at that, and she raises her tea again to her lips. "The Observation Deck is pretty quiet. That's where I've spent the most time during operations." She goes quiet for a moment, then adds, "I think I could get over the jocks for the view out of the viper's canopy. Anything's possible, right?"

"Now, now… I won't be lured that easily into giving a civvie the idea that we're anything other than one big ole' happy family." Kulko grins, but it fades just as quickly. "The observation deck is a… was a favorite spot of mine as well. And its actually where I spent most of the action so far… when our DRADIS went down, I was low man on the totem pole…" He pauses a moment, looks down at his mug briefly, then makes eye contact again, deadly serious. "So I went on upstairs and got me a set of binocs. Real old-fashioned like. Eyeball intel."

"Man on the ground? Com in one hand, long range viewers on the other, huh? Do you use those to try to see into the portholes of civvie liners?" So to speak. Santiago relaxes into the embrace of the couch's cushions. "They don't make you fetch the coffee, do they?" The question must be rhetorical, because she continues to speak, "From what I've seen, there's a fair share of tension between the units, but not as much as I'd expect. Every group of kids likes to be special. The military's just better armed than most."

"Can't say I ever thought of usin' em for that," Kulko muses. "Maybe I've just not been around long enough to experience it. All the flyboys… and girls… have been nothin' but cordial my way." He walks around to the front of the couch and seats himself opposite the Aquarian. "So what about you? You just along for an unlucky ride?"

"You're an officer. It pays to be nice to the boys upstairs, even the newer ones." Santiago's arms slide crossed as she gets comfortable, after she's tucked the tea between the couch cushions again. She watches Kulko take a seat, and studies him for a moment before she answers. "My rotation as a QUODEL observer was due to be up shortly after the ceremony in orbit of Picon. Unfortunately, things didn't go as planned." The comment is a little dry, though her eyes drop to her tea, nestled where it is between the cushions. "I imagine I could return to Observing the Deck, but I've been thinking about heading down to the Hangar to check on the refugees."

Kulko takes a long sip from the mug. "I haven't been down there yet. Can't imagine things are partic'arly pleasant down there… but we all need to count our blessings, y'know? They coulda been on the surface." The young man makes his best effort to divert the conversation. "I hope you enjoyed your time aboard thus far, at least."

"I imagine their introduction to the Battlestar was a little turbulent," Santiago agrees, though she doesn't elaborate on that. By now, the whole ship knows. "Aside from a few moments of heavy gunfire, I'd have to say the ship has been more or less hospitable. The soldiers have accepted civilians among them grudgingly. A few have been quite warm. I think the true test will be in the days to come, but I've re-aligned my expectations. Sometimes you have to do that." She sounds like she's discussing four vs five star restaurants, or something equally mundane, rather than the situation at hand.

"/I'll/ say…" Kulko concurs readily. "Not for nothin', I thought I'd be doing more of your job than what I trained for, when I heard I'd been posted here. Now… I don't think observing will occupy quite as much of my time." He looks to the blank screen, brows drawing together. "If there's anything I can help you with, given that you're here and all, don't hesitate to ask, now."

"That's a dangerous offer, Stephen," Santiago's warning is both amused, appreciative, and certainly rings true. "But I'll definitely keep it in mind. I imagine it also pays to have friends upstairs." She quirks a little smile. "If you have any burning desire to learn about Aquaria's history, I know a guy. Other than that, my skills run a little wide. Not really great at anything, except maybe the perfect eyeliner application. But I can cover almost anything with passing proficiency."

"We're all in uncharted waters, here. Ain't naught to lean on but each other." Kulko looks back to the room's other occupant. "An' like you said, at least we have the benefit of the uniform. Don't have to wonder what to do, cause someone's always tellin' us." He smiles somewhat sardonically. "Hate to admit it, but it's a hell of a crutch. Keeps your mind off of… you know."

There's a nod to his first statement. Santiago's hand slips down to retrieve her tea, and she looks across the way to the man seated opposite her. "I know. I do know. And you're absolutely right. We have little else but each other." It sounds as if it's a bit of a new concept for the Aquarian. "I'm adjusting. I'm not used to this many people in my space. Constant companionship takes some getting used to." She sits forward a little. "Do you know if a list of refugees has been completed?"

"I know what you mean. Just being shipboard is an adjustment for me - used to open fields and clear skies." Kulko shakes his head. "It's been slow goin, as I understand. CMC is running background checks on everyone we took on, just to make sure we know who's who. Not that anyone too dangerous woulda been on Anchorage, but can't be too careful given the circumstances."

"What is it that made you decide to join up in a capacity that would take you off world? Did you just decide you'd like to travel, or was it a luck of the draw?" Santiago glances around briefly, and takes another sip of her now cool tea. Her eyes take in the accommodations, and then her attention returns visibly to Kulko. She smiles, but doesn't comment on the danger level of the folks who could have been on the station. "It was full of politicians." Ok, she makes a comment, but not a terribly leading one. Well.

Kulko shrugs. "I was a rugger, back in secondary. Coach thought I was officer material… and I suppose someone at CFA agreed." He looks to the hatch, briefly. "True and it was, full of pols… Oughtn't you not be speakin' ill of your own kind? Or are you only a part-timer?"

"My own kind." Santiago's smile twitches back to life. "I'm not a politician, Stephen." She finishes off her tea. "I've spent a good deal of my life around them, had many dinners with them, worked very briefly in a couple of offices, but it's not for me, despite the wishes of a very influential cultural attache. I was looking forward to a return to Aquaria to get off that train. Didn't know it was going to skip the track, but there you have it."

Kulko shifts somewhat in his corner of the sofa - as if becoming more and less comfortable at the same time. "I, uh." he takes refuge in his coffee for a moment, draining the mug and setting it on the low table. "My apologies, miss. Didn't mean to presume." After a few moments of silence, he meets her eyes again. "So what /do/ you do, then, when you're not observing naval training exercises?"

"I've had much worse assumptions thrown on the table." Still amused, Santiago treats the tactical officer to another grin. "Apologies necessary," she assures him. "What do I do. I infuriate my father. That goes without saying. I'm… a pilot part time, and a driver part time." She hesitates to elaborate, though the implication is that it's something other than delivery. "I don't really have to work, given familial bank accounts. I was still in the middle of finding myself. And now I find myself on a Battlestar, basically in the military, but with much better clothes."

"Basically…" Kulko arches both dark brows. "Thinkin' of joinin up then, are you? We could use a talented pilot, especially given what happened at Picon…"

"Joining up?" Santiago's delicately arched brows tick up, as if that hadn't even blipped her radar. "No." She laughs at the idea. "No." And then her mind actually follows that train of thought to the inevitable conclusion, "Uh." Cough. "No."

Kulko can't help but allow himself a laugh at the response. "Musta misunderstood you, then. Thought for a minute…" He shakes his head, rising from the sofa and picking up the mug. "But you have to admit, just a while ago you were envying the view from a Viper."

"I was. I miss the stick. It's been weeks. I've never flown a viper, but some of the racer's I've had my butt in have been really fast." Santiago lifts a hand briefly. "Just because I'd like to get in one doesn't make me military material. I recognize my strengths, and I'm not sure I have what it takes to wear a uniform."

Kulko walks back to replace the mug on the rack of things to be sanitized. "Miss Blue, I can't speak for anyone but myself," and at this, the ensign turns to face Santiago again. "But there are times I wonder whether I do, too." He folds his arms. "I try to think of it as a challenge."

Santi smiles at that. "You seem pretty self possessed, Stephen." She watches him as he returns the mug, and rests her own empty cup on her lap, both hands still wrapped around it. "I'm still working on my authority issues." Her brows raise just a bit, then her expression settles. "I'll give it some consideration, if, at some point, I find myself in need of a challenge."

Kulko grins, looking away to the deck. "Ain't naught better for that than a sergeant chewin' your ear off at first light. But you're right - it's certainly not for everyone. But on the flip side, the Gods only know when you'll get behind the stick again." He laughs, short and abrasive. "Listen to me… I sound like a frakkin' recruiting ad. I'm sorry - I don't mean to offend."

"If you'd offended me, I would be on my feet by now." Santiago moves to rise, and she also notes, "This isn't me being offended, it's just me returning the cup. Unfortunate timing." Despite recent events, she's ready with the smiles. She approaches him, then steps just by to set her own empty near his. "… It would be wise, for as many of the civilians to enlist at this point as possible, to slot them into the hierarchy, to give them a purpose before they get restless enough to do what large groups of restless people do." Her arms slip crossed again. "I've seen enough to know that." She remains leaned against the counter for a moment, then tips off of it, and runs her hand over the hip of her black slacks, as if dusting something away. "The thought of trying to turn myself into an officer just caught me off guard is all." She glances over at his clothing, eyes passing over the BS Cerberus patch. Her eyes linger there for a long moment, and then she blows out a breath. "I have some apologies to make." Her eyes slip upward, as if asking any number of the Gods for strength. "I'd better get started before I lose my willingness to be nice to arrogant people." She lifts a hand. "Not you. You've been delightful. There are… other officers I've had words with." She shakes her head. "I have a low tolerance for initiative. I'd better take care of it soon."

"Gods speed you on, then," Kulko replies quietly as the not-politician departs. He watches the hatch for a few moments after it closes, then shrugs, returns to the couches, and fires up Killer Space Zombies. How bad could it be?

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