PHD #008: Tough Love Pulls No Punches
Tough Love Pulls No Punches
Summary: Recon reveals that the Cylons think Aerilon is as worthless as most of the Colonials do. Trask is not most Colonials and shames Quinn for being ashamed about where she's from.
Date: 06 Mar 2041 AE
Related Logs: Pretty much anything Warday
Quinn Trask NPC 

Never mind that this was to be his third recon mission — more than any one member of Air Wing had undertaken. There was simply no way that Trask was going to let his best friend survey what was surely going to be the destruction of Aerilon. Never mind that Command's orders stipulated that no one was to recon their home colony — and Quinn's going was a violation of those orders. The CAG is ignorant of the redheaded Captain's origins, however. Even Evandreus is unaware. The ECO knows, though, which is all the more reason that it's gonna be his ass in that backseat.

Going through all the pre-flight checks, Bootstrap is buckled in and so far refraining from making comments about baked goods. This latter bit might be because of the medic and analyst who are coming along for the ride.

Quinn has been quiet. Not that she's ever really a chatter box, especially lately, but she's said nothing but what is completely necessary for the pre-flight checks, going down the list of everything that needs to be cleared, and going over the mission briefing again. So, in her usual calm, clipped Caprican accent, she confirms with the crew, "Jump in, do what scans we can, a single DRADIS sweep, and jump right out again. All routine. We're almost getting good at this now." Maggie deadpans the last, having meant it as encouraging but there's something about it all that just comes off… well, depressing.

It actually has become a bit routine for Kal. There was Virgon, then Canceron, and now this. With a glib dryness, he informs the tagalongs, "Don't worry. We'll do our best to make you feel useless." As he continues, the pitch of his voice changes somewhat as an indicator of speaking on their behalf, "'Why ever did I need to leave Sickbay? They totally didn't need a medic.' 'I could've been busy analyzing the contents of the galley's tuna casserole. Instead, I got stuck watching people doing an awesome job.'"

The analyst, who is named Adler, snarks back, "Cut the in-flight entertainment and just do your job so I can do mine."

Trask, unsurprisingly quips like a faux steward, "Sorry. There are no snacks, meals, or beverages to be served on this flight. You'll just have to wait until you can get to the mess hall to get back to business."

Quinn stretches one hand over, finishing her final check and hitting the comm button, "Harrier 307 to Cerberus Actual, we're ready for launch, waiting for clearance…" And once the clearance does come, she's hovering up off the deck and quickly out the airlock, her flying smooth as ever. She doesn't quite join in the banter between analyst and ECO, though Trask is given a bit of -a look-, a smirk dancing across her lips. The only real emotion she's shown the whole time. She pulls into a safe distance away from the Cerberus, "Preparing for jump. All systems set, Bootstrap?"

"No lollygaggin' back here." With coordinates entered and the FTL spooled, the ECO counts down, "On mark, in five… four… three… two… one…"

Quinn falls dead quiet, almost mentally bracing herself. And then the familiar, slightly sinking sensation of the jump hits her and her eyes shut, part of her not immediately willing to look.

They pop back into existence a moment later, hovering in a distant orbit to Aerilon, the bread basket of a planet below them looking… surprisingly not as completely devastated as some of the others. While there is ash, it's not nearly so heavy in the atmosphere as some. From space, only a few viciously burned out points can be seen, the few major cities of the planet. Otherwise, there is still some green. Still some clear ocean. As the devastated colonies go, this one got off light.

Quinn slowly reopens her eyes, blinking quietly. "…She… She doesn't look so… bad," Maggie whispers, more to herself than anyone.

With DRADIS off-line, Trask starts scanning with the rest of the sensor suite. "The difference between getting a beatdown during a mugging an' getting a beatdown during a ga-" For some reason, he doesn't finish the comparison. No doubt that Quinn has a good idea what he /was/ going to say. Strike a point for an unconscious moment of sudden sensitivity because his silence sure as frak has nothing to do with not wanting to offend the other passengers. To all eyes on him, though, it looks like something in the readings caught his attention. "Yeah," the backseater simply replies to his pilot. "Some parts actually appear to be relatively unscathed." There's a hint of surprise in his voice, and a small sense of relief that his best bud has been spared what could've been a much greater sense of heartache.

"It-" the medic starts to stammer, "it looks kind of green." Not something expected. With a tentative hopefulness, Watson adds, "It's possible there could be some survivors who haven't suffered much in the way of radiation poisoning."

Maggie's eyes have gone a bit wide now, keeping their course steady, but she leans over, looking at some of the other displays to 1. Be certain there aren't any Cylons on their tail and 2. See the fact that her home planet actually isn't nearly so beat up as some of the others. "…Frak…" She breathes out, relieved, shocked, perplexed, scanning some of Trask's data as it pours in. "How… how long could people survive? If… if we came back. We could get people out of there… Maybe some food, too… People from the most rural areas. The mountains…" Maggie admits, a scratchy hint of hope making her voice a bit thicker than before.

"That entirely depends on the fallout and the amount of radiation exposure a person's had," Watson tells the Captain.

Adler further explains, "Severe local fallout contamination can extend far beyond the blast and thermal effects, particularly in the case of high yield surface detonations. The ground track of fallout from an explosion depends on the weather situation from the time of detonation onwards. In stronger winds, fallout travels faster but takes the same time to descend, so although it covers a larger path, it is more diluted. The width of the fallout pattern for any given dose rate is reduced where the downwind distance is increased by higher winds."

"What they said," is all Trask says, concentrating on the recon.

Quinn blinks slightly, listening to all the technical talk that her pilot's mind just doesn't entirely get. She frowns, looking back from the trio with her towards the mottled surface. "…So… getting to them the sooner the better, right?" Maggie breathes out, trying to keep some emotion out of her voice but now, finally, failing a bit. Part of her wants to go down now. She could pick out the province, find her home town. A few scans, it wouldn't be hard. They could land and be out in a few hours, some survivors with them… her family. She abruptly looks away from the group, throat tight. "…Finish your scans. We… need to get back."

"Unless your idea of better is more exposure to radiation." Leave it to Kal to say something like that — and to patently not care about the looks he might be getting from the medic and analyst.

Quinn just shoots Trask a look, a weight behind her eyes that isn't normally there. It's a quiet begging 'Not now…'. Don't tempt her more. If she saved them now, they're probably alive. If she went against all sense and orders, she could come back with her family, maybe. But no, she's a good officer. She'll report back, wait for the gears of the brass to move… and probably lose her family forever, with everyone else. She tightens her fist beneath her console a moment. "…let's just get out of here. Tell me when you're all done and ready to start the count," she whispers.

Such a pity that the ECO doesn't see that look; his attention is firmly set on monitoring the console. "Just about done with the atmospheric readings." Which means that all that's left is DRADIS. In the meanwhile, he preps the spool for FTL.

Quinn keeps one hand beneath her console, not needing to do anything but keep them on course and keep her cool. She breathes in slowly through her nose, fist clenching and unclenching there. They'll be fine. They can do this. She closes her eyes, waiting for the all clear that they can go.

Those few moments probably feel as though they drag at a painfully slow pace. Eventually, though, DRADIS is brought back online, the necessary scans taken, and then Bootstrap gives the signal to jump in, "Five… Four… Three… Two… One…"

Quinn's eyes jerk open the moment she hears the countdown, glassy behind her helmet. Hopefully, no one will see. She stares down at the surface for the last few seconds, watching the clouds of radiation and ash blow across the continents… her home. And then they're being jerked back, stomachs dragging, light gone and back in a moment. The familiar sight of the Cerberus. Aerilon gone. It's a few lagged moments before Maggie manages to crack out, "Harrier 307 to Cerberus Actual. Back with the data on Aerilon… permission to land…"

"Harrier 307, Cerberus. Permission granted. Welcome home."

Quinn begins the smooth flight back to Cerberus. Her new home. She's still blinking a bit of moisture from her eyes, not looking at any of the others on her craft as she brings them down for a manual landing through the airlock. She always prefers manual.

"That wasn't as awful as I anticipated," Watson admits before adding, "Still horrible, but I was expecting much worse."

For his part, Trask is busy burning copies of the data files. He's also being atypically quiet.

Quinn settles in the familiar clink of the magnet locks, the ship finally solidly on deck and being pulled into the hanger. A moment later there is fresh air outside of them, as well as inside, and the deck crew is beginning their normal post flight checks. Maggie nods quietly to the crew as she pops the hatch. "You're dismissed, boys. Please put all your findings in your post-mission report so I can compile it for the brass."

"Yes, sir." The non-Air Wingers show the proper respects before disembarking. "Captain. Lieutenant." Then they are gone.

The ECO remains, still copying the recon findings.

Quinn quietly begins going through her post flight checks, but she could normally do the list in half this time. She's still not finished. Maybe she's purposefully dragging her feet, or maybe her brain just isn't there.

Trask gets a delayed start on his post-flight yet still manages to finish before the SL. Unbuckling himself from his station, he rises, pockets the data discs, and starts to unfasten his helmet. Regarding the lagging redhead, he kind of stands there, equal parts pained and discomfited, and at something of a loss when having to contend with emotional foo, especially when it involves someone he deeply cares about. His way of dealing with heavy stuff is flippancy. Like a little boy lost, he just looks at her, with a sort of helplessness that shouldn't be present in a grown man. Finally, it can't be helped. The only way to diffuse his feelings is to quip with glib sardonicism, "I guess the Cylons think Aerilon is as crappy as the Colonials do." Not worth the nukes.

Quinn's jaw tightens just a moment as she hears that, but the final response he actually manages to get out of her is a sick, half-hearted sounding little laugh. She hasn't even removed her helmet yet, but his quip has managed to pull a few more tears from her eyes, the moisture slowly beginning to fog up the inside of her face shield. "…yeah… apparently…" She agrees, her voice as choked as her laugh over the comm units patched between them. She shakes her head slowly. "…we need to go back, Kal… I want to go back. We… we could save them… they're /alive/… I know it."

The tension in his mouth is evident, and those big brown eyes sensitively glisten. This is the downside of having loved ones. Frak. "You let me know when, an' my ass will be in that chair." After all, he always was the sort to demonstrate with actions, not words. Cracking a small smirk, Bootstrap then idly knocks on the top of Jugs' helmet. It's a lighthearted way to show affection. Besides, she's still sitting and that makes hugging more complicated that it needs to be.

Quinn shakes her head faintly under her helmet, finally turning to stand up. "I know what the brass is going to say. There are more important colonies out there. More important supplies. Nothing really for us on Aerilon to take the risk." Except for her family. She swallows hard and does stand, finally twisting off her helmet and, as quickly and smoothly as possible, trying to wipe those tears away. "…Sorry… I'm… I'm an idiot… Ignore this…" She moves to step past him, escape without subjecting him to more emotion.

When he really needs to, the man rises to the occasion. Gloved hands seek Maggie's shoulders to draw her into a firm embrace of silent comfort. Words never made a lick of difference in his world, but holding and being held draws forth strength from vulnerability. It's a primal declaration of unity. Kal's heart may be battered, bruised, and tarnished, but it is also large and fierce, even if it rarely emerges from its fortress.

Quinn doesn't want to do this. She KNOWS he's not good with emotion. It's like torturing her best friend. But dammit, he's trying and that's enough to break down the wall she was just barely able to hold in place. Maggie suddenly sinks forward, both of them just standing there in their usual raptor, still hidden from most of the outside deck. Her arms slowly come up and around, clutching him back in turn as her head sinks to his shoulder. "…we… could save them…" She gasps out, crackling between tears, her voice just a rasp of a whisper.

That hug is strong but not crushingly so, and the residual scent of sage mingled with pre-flight cigarette smoke can be whiffed from his person. His helmet is still worn but he can't be arsed to remove it, at the current moment. He has more important things to do. It's true that it's not quite the same as it was with his mother or his sister after a brutal beating from his inebriated father, but Trask easily falls into that protective stance, the response having long-since been hardwired into his brain. "You let me know when, an' my ass will be in that chair," is softly reasserted.

Quinn breathes in shakily, nodding against his neck, not picking herself up quite yet. She just needs a minute to be the little farm girl from Aerilon, not the Caprican Captain the rest of the ship knows. Her fingertips clutch a bit harder against his waist, breath trembling, before she finally pulls herself back and up. "We… we'll see what the readings… and the brass say. I suspect… not. We'll see." She's trying to accept it. Her colony wasn't even important enough to completely carpet bomb. And it won't be important enough to rush back for either. It was oddly humbling.

Trask's long-since been busting her chops for refusing to be that farm girl. It's why he calls her all those stupid baked goods nicknames. "Maybe they'll agree when they realize that Allegheny's tobacco can probably be salvaged." What military doesn't need smokes? He doesn't move, though, apart from giving Quinn a reassuring squeeze.

Quinn is that little girl now, even some of her accent slipping. Tears make it hard to lie. She turns her head, forehead resting against his cheek and the wet apples of her cheeks now against his stubbly jaw line. She draws in a deep breath of his scent, familiar and smoky, the closest thing to a brother she has left. "Sorry, Kal. I'm better than this. Stronger… I'm sorry." And then she does force herself to pull all the way away if he lets her.

"Why are you apologizing to /me/?" he asks somewhat sardonically, peering at her like she's a bit nutto for doing so. Trask doesn't restrain her, but makes an effort to rest his hands atop Quinn's shoulders. "An' yeah. You /are/ better than this, so maybe now you'll /finally/ stop being ashamed of where you're from." Oh, yes. He went there. Unsurprisingly, he twisted what she meant in order to get there.

Quinn stares over to him through those bloodshot, glassy eyes, trying not to sniff at all though it's hard through the tears. Her fingertips trace against his arms, since he hasn't quite let her go. She's content to keep under his touch a bit longer. His words, though, sting. She frowns, not entirely certain how to answer as her eyes search his face. "I'm not… not ashamed, Kal. Not exactly. People just don't… respect it. I wish they did. And they'll respect me even less if they think I'm some crazy liar… it's better if we just… just get through this all… as we were."

"Oh, really." It's more of a snide challenge than a question. She's not ashamed? Bullshit. That way he looks at her thoroughly conveys the sentiment. And there he is with his nonchalant impertinence. Smirking, Kal asks, "Why the frak should they respect it if you don't? I'm a frakkin' dirt eater. Only thing considered worse than that is a root muncher. An' not only am I a frakkin' dirt eater, I'm a Black Country boy. That place is so shit that you can't even /eat/ the dirt. Y'know what, though? Even though I'm from one of the worst frakkin' places from one of the worst frakkin' colonies, I'm not ashamed. I'm /proud/ of being from that frakkin' place 'cuz my being who I am, having gotten to where I am, is a brazen frak you to everyone who thinks that someone from where I'm from will never end up anywhere — or anyone — worthwhile. That I could never be /something/ 'cuz I came from nothing."

Quinn listens to those words, his statement at least instilling a touch of shame in her at the things she's been doing, if not at her heritage. Maggie frowns, really not certain what to say, her eyes dropping away from him along with her fingertips. "You… you and I are very different people, Kal. And I love you for it. I'd never want anyone else at my back other than you. But… this is who I am. This is who everyone thinks I am. I can't stop being her… because everything's gone to hell. If anything, people want a strong leader they can look up to. I need to remain that woman." She tries to turn to go again.

"Okay, /those/," he says, regard intent, hands not budging, "are two /very/ different things." Who she is vs how everyone else thinks she is. "An' the fact that everything has gone to the Nine Hells is all the more reason to incinerate this stupid charade." Trask's voice hasn't raised, nor does he sound angry per se, but it's evident that he thinks she's full of crap. "Y'know what it is, Maggie? You can't stop being 'her'," the derisive quotes can even be heard, "because you're ashamed an' you're afraid." Tough love pulls no punches. "There's nothing strong about lying like this. That woman," his head dips a bit, those brown eyes effectively saying 'listen up, this is important', "doesn't exist. That woman is a lie. You will never be /that/ woman. The closest you'll ever get is being the woman wanting to be that woman. That's an idiotic waste."

Quinn has tried to get free, but he's not moving his hands, and right now she's not feeling the strongest at the moment, something weak and sick in her stomach at having seen her home planet like that, so she's simply not up to fighting him. She stares up at him through suddenly slightly angry, tearful green eyes, a slight tremble coming to her body beneath his fingertips. "Frak, Kal… don't do this. Not now. I am that woman… that's how I live my life, how my squadron sees me, how command sees me… that's the woman people rely upon. I won't take that away from them. Not now."

"No, Maggie," Trask says, obviously disappointed but ultimately acquiescing to her request, "you're better than that. An' when all is said an' done, it's a farm girl from northern Aerilon that they rely on. It's certainly who I rely on. You're cheating them an' you're cheating yourself." Frowning a little and faintly shaking his head, he sighs. A somewhat flippant shrug follows, as does a 'what the frak ever' expression and rolling of his eyes, which signals the man's retreat into the safety of irreverence. "I should go run these discs over to Tactical." Affectionately, Quinn's right shoulder is squeezed. "Go drink some tea or… something… an' I'll catch you later, yeah?"

The redhead relaxes, just a touch, as he finally releases her. But he has managed to talk a fair amount of guilt into her, her eyes lined with exhaustion and emotion now, mainly sadness and shame. She doesn't even know what to say, letting him go quietly out the hatch. She finally just nods. "Yeah, tea… I'll… see you later, Kal. Thanks…" She whispers gently after him before she turns on the ball of her foot, heading out of the raptor herself.

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