PHD #262: The Ins And Outs Of The Whys
The Ins And Outs Of The Whys
Summary: Richards tries to explain his feelings to Vandenberg and gets disturbing news for his efforts.
Date: 15 Nov 2041 AE
Related Logs: TBA
Richards Vandenberg 
Marine Offices
This offices consists of desks for those under the CO, along with his desk toward the back of the room. The S1 and S2 have desks here and the place is neat as a pin, with everything in its place. At the front of the room, a Marine sits at a desk to meet people as they come in through the hatch.
Post-Holocaust Day: #262

Vandenberg is doing one of two things: Milking her injuries to indulge her secret fetish for paperwork.. or more likely, she's reading through a ton of files. They're stacked up on the desk in seemingly random piles but knowing her there is probably a method to the madness. A few of the file cabinets behind her are open but she otherwise looks quite into whatever she's reading. The coffee in her mug is cold and the cigarette in the ashtray looks to have been smolding for some time.

It isn't very often that Dick gets a burr under his saddle blanket but the other day has served well to do just that, his mood having beem made stormy over the actual egress and made all the worse thanks to the pain and medication he is on to treat it. The hatch is closed behind him once he realizes the Lieutenant is around, the *clank* of it being shut oddly loud in his ears. "Sir, can we talk," Richards asks once he's standing before her desk, only to then follow that up quickly with a hurried, "…off the record?"

Natalie doesn't even look up at the hatch opening. She's off in her own little world until the door clanks shut. She lifts her chin to him in greeting but quirks a brow at the question. "Yeah, sure. What's up, Richards?" A hand slinks out for her mug of coffee and tilts it towards a seat in front of her. She then takes a sip and makes a face at the temperature of it.

Richards ignores the offered seat, opting to instead lean over the desk, his good hand used to brace himself against its edge while the injured right is just set upon it. "You just do not get it, do you," he starts out, the insolent tone not one Vandenberg has ever heard the normally cordial and obedient Sergeant use. "About why I don't like it when you pull that macho 'I'll get on after everyone' bullshit, I mean." His throat clenches when he swallows as if he's having to get a lump out of it, it being something he regrets immediately. Frakking neck wounds.

Vandenberg glances to the file in front of her, setting a pen in it to mark her place in it as he begins. She shuts it and stares at it for a few long seconds after he finishes, letting that silence hang in the air. The mug is replaced carefully on the desk, she clasps her hands together and leans forward on the desk at looks up at him. The motions might be friendly enough but the look in her eyes says otherwise. The Lieutenant doesn't make a sound. The stare back at him, waiting for the Sergeant to continue, doesn't look thoroughly patient.

There's an obvious attempt made to temper his mood but it doesn't work and the next words he manages to choke out are even more terse than before. "Do you know what it's like to be stranded, sir? To have to live day by day wondering if you're going to get out of the shitty situation alive or not? To be hunted and having to hide like some kind of prey animal…" He's trying to explain that he doesn't want her to go through what he had, that he would sooner die than have her go through that same kind of shit he did, but between his reeling emotions and thoughts and the fact that he's drugged to the frakking gill it's coming out a jumble of words and feelings. "Gods, Natalie? Can't you see…I just don't ever want to know you had to go through that because you frakking waited for me to get on the frakking Raptor."

"I know what its like to but cut-off, yes. But if you think I'd tolerate being hunted, you've got another thing coming. Chris." She makes sure he hears the fact that she uses his first name. She has carefully controlled patience for now. "I am the first one off and the last one on for two reasons, Sergeant. First? Its my prerogative as the officer in charge and my job to set the example for the Marines. Second?" She stands off the desk, planting her palms on it and stares right back at him. "I am the last one on because anyone who is left behind is done so at my responsibility. To make sure that what happened to you does not happen again."

Richards's pacified by Vandenberg's answer to the point where he's no longer rapidly simmering under the facade of 'calm' he was struggling to maintain but he's still not happy with the fact that she's so willing to sacrifice herself for them…for him. Leaning in a bit closer when she does, Chris almost places his forehead against hers but stops short, that being a level of familiar affection he doesn't dare to brave. "I understand, sir," he says with a sigh. "I don't like it though, but I do. I understand."

Even as Richards moves closer, the blond firecracker does not flinch a single muscle. "Damned right, Sergeant. When you are the ranking member of the Corps on scene I expect the exact same thing from you. Anything less than a shining example is not acceptable." Chris might have been going for something a little more friendly but Vandenberg doesn't seem like she's willing to go there. "We leave nobody behind. You don't want to know what it did to me when I realized that you were left out there on your own. And you oughtta be damned thankful you weren't caught. Sergeant Constin turned me on to something that's about shaken my tree til every apple done rolled away." At the edge..the very fringe of her eyes..its there. Fear. "You ain't gonna like this, either."

Straightening, Richards runs his fingers through his hair, the same hair that was way too long just a couple weeks ago and recently been shorn short. Now he sits and he all but hunkers down when doing so, bracing himself on his knees by his forearms, his shoulders curling in a bit in a slouched hunch. "What did he notice," he asks to prod her into going on, curious.

Natalie stands up all the way, removing her hands from the desk and gestures to the stack of folders. "It wasn't what he noticed. It was part of an op they ran back in July. Right before the Cylons pulled out of Aerilon. I don't know who knows about this shit so if anyone asks, you stumbled onto it while you were reading past investigations and folders." She takes a breath. "Seems a skinjob prisoner turned them on to a Cylon facility in orbit over Sag. They raided it and found something that.." Her jaw clenches and she looks away for a second. "Seems they found a Centurion wearing Colonial dogtags." Those greens look back to him. "They think the Cylons are trying to implant human brains into Centurions. Evidence seems to confirm they've been successful at least once."

There is a very shocked, scared look in Dick's eyes as he hears that, the terror one thing he can not mask. "Frak." So eloquently put, that, but he has nothing else he can say. Too shocked and too…yeah. Shocked sums that up perfectly. It takes him a while but he manages to speak eventually but not before a minute passes, at least. "So we got to be all the more caref…ul." Well, no duh Dick.

"You could say that, Sergeant." Natalie hugs herself and looks down to the folders, scanning them. "From what it sounds like the Cylons are trying to capture people alive. They want them intact so they can implant them into Centurions. Maybe even Raiders. They want us to be slaves..trapped within the machines." Its a sick idea. "If they've been successful, we may be killing fellow Marines when we knock a can over." Her voice is quiet as she looks up. "I don't think they know for sure. If they do, its not in anything I've read yet. Chris.." She looks him right in the eyes. "We can't leave anyone behind. This is why they've been scouring the colonies and looking for survivors. The Centurion they found? It woke up in the lab and shot down a line of attacking Centurions. Afterwards it responded to the name on the dogtags..right before it shot itself in the head." Its a helluva ghostly look on her face. The idea of enslavement plainly horrifies her.

Richards's cheeks billow out like he just vomited but there's no mess made, whatever might have come up swallowed back down. It doesn't settle well with him, it seems. Once his stomach stops doing twisty flipflops he speaks, his own reaction directly proportionate to Vandenberg's. "We can't think of it like that, Natalie," he ventures, his words halting as he has to think at the same time he responds to her. "They stop being Marines once those bastard frakking Cylons do that. They cease to be human." It is not what he wants to say but there is something that makes him, perhaps the need to try and put it in perspective or some stupid crap like that. "It's like…I dunno, sir. I am just good at shooting stuff so all the science behind this crap eludes me. But I have to assume that's the case. That a person stops being a person when…"

The look on Vandenberg's face seems to indicate otherwise. She doesn't say it, but its plain that Richards' hopes and theories are not the case. When she finally speaks, she seems to realize what she's been wearing for an expression. "If they stopped being human inside, there would be no point." She swallows and looks back down to the desk. "Sergeant, I want you to keep this to yourself. But I want you to think about it when you make sure that everyone you are responsible for is accounted for. Remember it when I order you on a Raptor before me. I'll deal with being left behind if I have to." She'd probably just shoot herself before she got taken alive. "I won't be able to handle the idea of one of you getting taken and stuck in one of those frakking things. You understand what I'm getting at? Orders are more important than ever." The Lieutenant still doesn't look back up at him, her eyes nearly closed as she looks at the files.

Richards nods. "Yes, sir." It all makes a little more sense to him as far why Vandenberg does what she does as well as what she expects of him. "I should let you get back to work, sir. I just wanted to let you know how I was feeling about the subject." Getting back on his feet, Richards salutes his CO, smiling a bit as he does. "Permission to get my ass back to work, sir," he asks, a bit of his normal personality showing through.

Vandenberg finally looks back to him again as he requests leave. She gives him a simple, jerky nod. "Aye, Sergeant. Be gone with you." When he finally makes his way back to the hatch, Natalie sits back down at the desk and rests her head in her hands. The silence of the room providing the backdrop to her own quiet sorrow once the young man is gone.

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