PHD #468: To Lead
To Lead
Summary: Vandenberg talks to Decumius about a few things.
Date: 09 June 2042
Related Logs: None
Decumius Vandenberg 
Behind the two hangar decks, the Cerberus' Galley is the largest room on the ship. Nearly half the size of a football field, the eating area is made up of long lines of stainless steel tables that can be folded up and placed against the wall for larger events. Individual seats are the standard military issue, boring and grey with lowest-bidder padding. The line for food stretches across one of the shorter sides of the room while the kitchen behind works nearly twenty-four hours a day to produce either full meals or overnight snacks and coffee for the late shifts.
Condition Level: 3 - All Clear
Post-Holocaust Day: #468

Later into the evening, Vandenberg has settled in her off-duties at a table off to the side of the Galley with a notebook. Lounging in her tanks and sweatpants, the Captain hasn't even bothered to put her hair up. It hangs loose around her shoulders despite the slight slouch she has found in her seat. Overall, she looks relaxed and comfortable she she doodles on the page in the book - maybe. Could be she's writing something, too. The burger on her plate only has a few bites taken from it and the mac n cheese looks mostly untouched for now.

Decumius isn't looking particularly well today. He's got a pallid colour to his face and his eyelids droop down lower than normal. Still, the Corporal goes to the chow line, because what's life without shitty mess food?

Natalie doesn't move much in her chair. She looks pretty comfortable there, honestly. She trades the pen for a fork for a short moment and takes up a bite of the mac n cheese and uses the time to look around. Noting Decumius, her brow quirks at his color. She doesn't say anything to him just yet but she isn't trying to hide the fact that she is watching him - she's nearly squared her shoulders in his direction.

Decumius turns around after getting a platefull of pasta. The most appetizing thing on the plate is actually the fairly fresh veggies, which come from the hydroponics garden. He slowly turns around and makes his way to a table. In his slightly downtrodden and sick state, he still manages to pick out Natalie's look from the crowd, smiles weakly, and makes his way to her.

Vandenberg doesn't say anything at first, but she does relax back into her chair at seeing him approach. The fork is turned in her fingers over and over, spinning it slowly as if deep in thought though her eyes stay on him. When he gets closer she gestures to the chair beside her by way of glance and then settles her eys on the Corporal once more. "You look like you've seen better days, Decumius. You alright?" Always the mother off duty.

Decumius chuckles in a quiet manner. "Eh, I've been worse, sir." He takes a seat, gently putting his plate down on the metal tabletop. "How's it with you?"

The Captain crosses her legs, turning to face him as she drapes an arm lazily over the back of her chair. Her eyes trail over him as, again, a mother might look over her sick child - though with less fretting. Meeting his gaze once more she nods. "I'm alright, thanks. Been a busy few weeks. What about you? Got something like the flu? I've seen better color on a dead body." She tilts her head forward with a ghosting smile to see if she can't get something similar back.

Decumius rubs the back of his neck and slowly begins picking at his macaroni. He nods, barely smiling, but smiling nonetheless. "Yep. It'll be alright in a few days."

Van nods a few times and tilts her head back towards a more relaxed posture, still eyeing the man. "Uh huh. Well get some rest then, darlin." She winks and glances to her plate and takes up the burger in one hand. "So how have you been otherwise? Doing alright after the recon and everything?"

Decumius's eyebrow perks up at the 'darlin', but he simply nods, otherwise. "Honestly?" He puts his spoon down, folding his hands. "I wish I was still out there. I dream about getting out there, wish I could get back. But I know, in my head, that I can't."

She takes a small bite from the burger and settles it back on the tray while she chews, propping her head up in her hand. On duty, Van is all professional attitude. Off duty? Very relaxed and her Canceran accent shows more - though it has been creeping more into her voice on duty. "I can understand that. I miss being out in the field, too. Being stuck on a ship like this drives me a little bonzo, yeah. I prefer spening nights under the stars and actually hiking and humping. I don't look like much much I'm scrappy for field work. Always have been." She sniffs once and wipes her thumb at her nose. "So you prefer grunt work? You seem to have plenty of solid experience with it."

Decumius's lips part and he lets out a chuckle, a little bit of colour returning to his face. "Oh, don't need to tell me that. I saw you down there, I've seen you under fire. I'm not gonna lie. My battalion didn't have many women, and I was skeptical of most, not all, but most of them. Not so much anymore." A pause as he scoops some macaroni into his mouth. "Definitely prefer grunt work. And yeah, got a bit of time in."

Vandenberg smirks. "I'll take that as a compliment. Thank ya." She even nods with it. "We were about fifteen percent female in the seventy-third Mountain. My Company was made up of special troops platoons - this group was tunnel rats. Well women tend to be smaller than guys so we had a slightly higher percentage. About a full quarter of us were female. Hard chargers, the lot of us." There's no small amount of pride to her expression. "So you got all this time in recon, you like soldierin plenty, and… what? You don't have much desire to advance? Or do you just prefer to stay behind the scenes until it comes to kicking down doors?"

Decumius pauses to ponder the question, again setting down the spoon on the table. In the end, he nods. "Yeah, something like that. Originally, I liked working in reconnaissance platoon. We were really tight, everyone was experienced and we all knew what we were doing. So I asked them to be taken off list for Sergeant's course, since it would have put me back in the regular battalion. And since I got here… dunno, keeping my head down."

Natalie nods a few more times, her focus on him. The woman seems to have forgotten about hte notebook in front of her. Its not doodles, though. Some kind of writing. The scrawl is horrible (likely intentional) and it looks like gibberish. "Yeah. Combat groups tend to be like that when you spend a lot of time on deployments. There's plenty of people who have expounded on it better than I could, though." She smiles again. "My platoon was like that, too. Losses weren't uncommon but they always hit hard." She shrugs. A life left behind and destroyed by nuclear weapons. "So you decided to stay off the dradis to stay in the field with your people. I think that's pretty understandable. Do you still feel that way?"

"Honestly? I kind of help the Sergeants with their shitty paperwork. Nobody likes doing admin, and that's half of my job as a Corporal. To be fair.. I am kinda sick of the paperwork. I don't know if I'd make a good squad leader. That's not really up to me to decide." Decumius just offers a shrug.

"There's no escaping paperwork unless you'd like to be demoted to a buck Private - which I could make happen if ya like!" Vandenberg is quick with the reply, her smile large. No, she obviously is not serious. She settles quickly, though. "Well sure it is for you to decide. If you want something bad enough, you can do it. Managing a squad is like managing a fireteam - just more people. Tactically, its more freedom of movement by way of providing you with more options. From a leadership standpoint, its more about people. You've got the time into the Marines plus you have some valuable experience. Your concern about being promoted away from your team shows that your concern for your element is in the proper place. I think you could do well with it."

"Like I said, it's not my place. Asked me a month ago - I would have said no way, absolutely not. But now? Well, I'd say, whatever the platoon or company needs me to do, wherever my experience would be best used, then that." Despite the fact that he's speaking with a monotone, the twinkle in his eye indicates he likely feels strongly about this.

Vandenberg shrugs. "Well your first step would have to be you lifting the request for you to be skipped for the consideration of Sergeant's courses. I'm not going to ignore it. You're one of my people and I'm not in love with my commission enough to piss on what y'want. I'm just of the opinion that we promote people who deserve it and are smart enough to handle it. People like Staff Sergeant Boelyn are testaments to improper procedure on that end." Its rare for her to badmouth another Marine, so this is likely something she feels strongly about in her own right. "But Lucius, you can give me stock answers all day long. 'Whatever is best for the Corps' is a great reply and one I've heard plenty of times in the course of my giving promotions. I'm askin y'less as a Marine and more as a person - what are you looking for?"

"Honestly, sir. I'll life that request, it was from a time where the Marine Corps had many, many thousands of people who could do the job. Now there's only a handful of qualified folks for a squad leader position. We lose people on every Op, almost." At that, Decumius frowns, shaking his head. "I can't duck responsabilities my whole life. Maybe it's time to man up."

Natalie nods a few times, eyeing him again in that same manner that she has before. "Aye. We lose a lot, but that doesn't mean that I wouldn't be having this conversation with you if we still had those many thousands. You're a smart guy and capable in the field. And if I hear you saying that you're ducking responsibilities again, I'll batter y'jaw like a speedbag." She winks at him once more. "But it ain't about manning up, either. Its about what you want. We don't get pay raises anymore and I know you're not in the Marines to be self-important with your rank. If you think that its something you want, I can see about making it happen. I think you'd do well, but that's my opinion. You're doing an outstanding job at your current rating."

Decumius offers a nod, though that's about the only emotion he's showing at this point and time. "I want to get our Fleet somewhere that we have solid ground to live on and defend. I want to have a somewhat normal existance that involves not running around and hiding every time we're confronted with vastly superior enemies. We do a lot of good, especially for a small force. But I want to eventually see results for us, and say, Hey, I was a part of that. I know there are some Lance Corporals and Corporals about who could do my job well. I know we're lacking in squad leads. Two and two together, I guess."

Natalie chuckles, the mirth and warmth easily apparent in her tone. "Corporal, you've already secured your place among those who have done amazing things in the defense of humanity. That's not a question. That fact that you're still here and refusing to quit is one thing, but your steadfast dedication to the service and Corps is an inarguable fact." She runs her hand over her head and through her hair, settling it back to prop her. "Lemme ask you something.. If we found security someplace, hypothetically, and we were reasonably sure the Cylons wouldn't come after us.. what would you do today? Would you settle down, retire from the Corps, and find a mate? Maybe have some kids? Or would you stay on?" Its clear this isn't a 'right or wrong' kind of answer she is looking for.

Decumius laughs heartily for the first real time - not just a weak chuckle, but a deep seated laugh. He grins broadly at the question, eyebrows rising and eyes crinkling together. "Both, most likely. I'm still young enough to be of use. Therefore, I say, use me. Till I'm old and broken, like me old man. Then it's off to training the Colonial Guard for me." He scoops some more of his now cold food down his gullet. "So I'd say, find a mate and stay on at once."

Van can't help smiling at seeing him laugh. Its refreshing. "Well just about everyone alive is useful. Way I see it? If you can still nail a rifle without endangering anyone, you're useful." She leans farther into the chair and seems more like she is lounging than anything else. Relaxed S-Three is Relaxing. "So probably find yourself a lady of upstanding quality and stay on." She nods a few times. "I don't think I could answer the question if you put a gun to my head." She grins. "So you're in for the long haul of your career. No interest in potentially becoming a farmer or trying to raise livestock for humanity's survival?"

Again, Decumius laughs. There's no malice in it whatsoever. "I find the idea of me farming to be highly amusing. I've got no hand or eye for that kind of shit, sir. I've done this since I was of age. My dad did this before, and my mom was a deckie during the War. Naw, I'll stay on. As for a woman of upstanding qualities… well, I'm not so good at picking those out."

Vandenberg continues grinning. "C'mon. Don't think you could handle a horse or a field of corn?" She nods and lets it go. "Yeah, but I can understand the feeling. I've met a lot of multi-generation Marine families. Its hard to imagine doing anything else. If I ever have kids likely they'll end up being Marines, too. Its just the nature of who we are. As for you finding a woman like that.." She smirks. "I think you'll have better luck with it than you give yourself credit for. At least you don't have to worry about gold diggers anymore. Playing field is pretty even these days."

Decumius is enjoying himself here. Once he's finished the rest of his food, he slides the plate over to the side. "That's the damned truth. And I don't have to worry about stupid little frakkin' hippy girls from the university spitting at me or cussing me out when they find out I'm a Sagittaron baby killer."

Vandenberg faux-gasps. "You- you volunteered to go there? And hurt all those poor innocent people? You bastard." She lays on a thick Virgan accent, complete with a snooty hairtoss to punctuate the end. When its over she just grins. "Aye. I know the feeling, yeah. All the people who think they know something about political opinions and war because they saw a documentry or had a professor who got their 'street cred' protesting 'the man' and their 'war machines'." She even airquotes them. Yep, Van has ran into a few of them herself. "I love those people, honestly. They reminded me that I needed to go buy ammo."

"Yeah, but you know, one day when we settle back down, we're gonna get those kinds of people. Every society like ours always has 'em." Lucius shrugs. "It's the way she be. Plus, they're kind of fun to be around too. I get some kicks from 'em."

Van nods a few times, reaching for her burger again to nibble off a bite. "We've already got a few of them. People forget too easily. People bitching and moaning about the state of our fleet and whining about how they want some things. We've got some solid civilians too, but eh. I grow weary of the bitchiness from some of them. Especially people like Bannik who think they know something." She sighs and bites from the burger before putting it back. "So what do you generally look for in a woman, then? Obviously not the hippie with the patchouli bathing oil and unshaved legs."

"Oh, he does know /something/. Just probably not nearly as much as he thinks he knows." Decumius notes, downing the last of his glass of synthetic milk. Probably made from the soybeans or something equally unpalatable. "Eh, I'm low maintenance. I want someone who's low maintenance. Funny and smart. Understanding the job goes without saying here, and so does fit, usually. Well, maybe not with some of those Fleet types. But seriously, I don't require much. Someone to confide in. Dunno. I haven't exactly been looking. I've been reading, and playing cards, and working out, and working, this last year."

Vandenberg smirks. "Yeah, sounds like a decently easy set of requirements. I don't think you'll have much trouble when the time comes. There's plenty of women in the fleet.. just, yeah. Finding one who understands the Marines and the job?" She chuckles. "That's tough. We're not even the same branch of the military." She smirks and scratches at some of the scarring on her face. "I usually found it easiest to date guys who were Marines at one point. They understood it well enough. So anyhow, you're still looking for service." Another firm nod. "What kind of qualities do you usually admire in a leader, Corporal?"

"True, but what I was trying to say is that it'll be easier to find a woman here who understands than a woman in the old civilian world." Decumius says, grinning. "Honesty. I hate being lied to, and I know all of the troops feel the same. Eventually they might become resigned to being lied to, like I did after a couple of years in the Corps. That's bad. Being honest at least means they can trust their direct leaders. That goes with telling the troops when you fucked up, and when they've done good. Jacking them up is one thing but… well, you know." He pauses, probably to reflect. "Competence, obviously. That goes without saying. But even if one isn't the best at a job, knowing how to delegate to those who are is the best skill."

"Mm." Van listens with nary a sound but that. When he finishes, though, she nods. "Good qualities. What about the worst qualities? And don't say you hate liars. What do you think makes the worst leaders? How do you see people falling into the traps that create them?" Its worded as curiosity but she probably has a good reason for asking all of this.

"Sometimes, unfortunately, you have to lie. I just don't like doing it, so I can't say that liars are the worst. The worst people are those who blame their subordinates for their own failings. Frakking up is one thing. Passing the buck is a totally different thing, and completely unacceptable. I've seen it before. Nothing kills morale more." Decumius says, seriously. He folds his hands over eachother.

"Aye. Seen that enough, myself. I used to even do it. My first year or so in the Corps I was the nightmare officer. Bawdy little bitch that thought she was hot shit. I abused my Marines, always cracked a whip when I didn't need to, never boosted morale or even tried to do anything for them. You couldn't convince me to lift a finger or even listen to my Sergeants. I hated everyone in my platoon with a burning passion. And you better believe it showed. And they hated me right back. Well-deserved in hindsight." She switches her legs being crossed over another and crosses her arms, almost hugging herself. "How is it that you think I fell into that trap? Do you think anyone can or does it take certain personalities?"

"Anybody can. But usually people who are confident in themselves are the first ones to fall into it. It hardly matters, anyways. The only way you can learn are either through your own damn mistakes, or through other peoples'. And there lies the other most negative quality. Failure to adapt. How can your Marines trust you if you crush their morale and don't learn?" Decumius's eyebrows raise.

"Hmm. Interesting way to look at it. Would you say that the confidence could be concealing arrogence? Or could someone be innocently confident and still fall into the trap?" Her brow lofts with the question as she moves along. "You keep mentioning trust. Do you believe that earning and keeping the trust of fellow Marines is more important than anything else?"

Decumius nods at Vandenberg. "Yes. Ultimately, a leader's job is to marshall his resources. Since we're not talking about computer banks or fuel pumps, but people, we don't manage, we lead. And that means we're really just using the talents of our troops to get the objective. I had a very good battalion commander when I was on Sagittaron for April Lightning. After the Op was over, he pulled the battalion aside and said, 'I may get the notice and shiny shit for everything we've done here, but it's you guys who actually knuckled the frak up and /did/ it.' And I think that's true." He pauses after his little aside. "If we don't have the confidence of our troops, if they don't think we're out for their best interest at all times, then they can't perform at their jobs as well as their able to. Troops won't march for a leader they don't like, and if they have a sword at their back, then they'll march slow. I read that in a history book once… but it's true."

Something catches Van's expression and she smiles. "Ah, exactly. 'Managing' is something you do with inanimate objects. I agree whole-heartedly that you must lead people. Anything less and you might as well treat people like dogs you are trying to train." She clears her throat and reaches for her glass of orange bugjuice. "So this batt commander was someone you admired, it sounds like? How would you feel if he hadn't said anything to you all but turned down his shiny stuff and preferred to pass the recognition to you all through more medals or promotions? Think he would have had the same effect on you?" The last gets a solemn nod from the Captain. "That part is quite true. I can attest to that personally. I had it explained to me that the mark of a good leader is that they can motivate and convince anyone to do anything - and like it. Because people who believe in what they are doing are less likely to quit and they don't want to let their comrades down either. That's where trust comes in, as you explained it."

Decumius shrugs at that. "We all know the Marine Corps doesn't work like that, sir. We got ours. I got me a shiny silver cluster, which I don't think I really earned. I wasn't the only one there. But that's how medals and promotions work, right? Someone has to get them, so they just choose one in the group and have it represent the group. Well, except for jumping on a grenade or something." Is his response to the remark about the CO turning down medals. This is the first time he's ever spoken about his silver cluster, and the topic drops after.

Vandenberg nods a few times. "Fair enough, Corporal. Just consider what you've said to me this evening. Talking about trust, what it means to be a leader of men, and what you're looking for out of your own life. As the old saying goes 'We ain't makin godsdamned cornflakes'." She winks and reaches for her tray and notebook. "I'd like to hear about the cluster sometime but I won't push you too hard right now. Figure you've heard enough of me yammering. You take care, okay? And get to feelin better or I'm gonna make you run it off." She gives him a knowing grin and rises from the table. "Be well, Lucius."

"Eh, I think I got my file on it, if you want. I mean, I think the file's in the system. Well, you know." Decumius flashes a half grin, getting up as well - but he's got a cup in hand, so he's probably just going to refill it. "You too, sir. Thanks for the talk."

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