A Tense Exchange
Posted on Sun Feb 25th, 2018 @ 3:15pm by Commander Mitchell Hanson & Lieutenant Colonel Amaris Kendall & Captain Alethea Graystone [Astraea] & Major Jonathan Kilmartin & Major Catherine Wolf & Captain Zachary Kovak
Timeline: PCH-15 0830 Hours
Fifteen days had passed with little incident and the fleet was experiencing a bit of a lull in activity after a hectic few days following their arrival in the Prolmar Sector. Hanson had ordered the fleet to travel at sublight speeds until further notice while engineers assessed the jump drives of all the ships under his command. It was not looking good for some of the older vessels and civilian transfers had already begun. Components and spare parts were being salvaged and distributed as to where the needs were and everything was, for the time being, going quite smoothly.
From a civilian perspective anyway. From a Colonial Fleet point of view, things were far less smooth. A staffing crisis was dominating much of his time and it had caused him to finally call a meeting of the senior officers from across the two military vessels.
Sitting at a table in the large wardroom, the Commander awaited the arrival of Colonel Kendall, Captain Kilmartin and the three most senior officers from the Achilles. Together, they would finalise all crew rotations and together, they would finally make sure the two colonial ships would function like a well oiled machine. If not, he’d flush them all out of an airlock and start again…
…ok, maybe that was an exaggeration, but he most certainly would not be impressed.
The port side door to the room cycled, he could hear the noise behind him and he turned as it opened to reveal the presence of the CAG, Captain Jonathan Kilmartin.
Sunbeam had benefited from having a few days of peace, in more ways than one. He had not only got to grips with information about the air group at his disposal, but he had managed to get his uniform washed and pressed, which meant he smelt as fresh as a daisy and, what with being clean shaven again, he looked like a senior officer should. He fired off a salute to the Commander and, once it was returned, he took a seat at the horseshoe arranged table. “Morning Commander,” the Captain greeted with a warm smile as he slid a closed file across the table to the master and commander of the fleet. “Here are the suggestions you asked for.”
Hanson returned the smile as he took possession of the file and opened it slowly. The contents made for interesting reading, somewhat radical in fact, but that was what was becoming increasingly more common in recent times – radical fighter pilots. He liked the CAGs thinking on some, not all, of the ideas.
The door opened and in walked Colonel Kendall, Major Wolf, Captain Kovak and Captain Graystone. Amaris had gone down to meet them on the Hangar Deck and to escort them to the Commander’s Wardroom. It had been an awkward journey for the three officers; conversation had been forced and, in Amaris’ case, not much was said.
“Sir.” she said solidly as she stepped into the room.
As Alethea walked into the room she couldn’t help but recognize the surroundings, the Solaria was a lot like the Orion she had served on before. Certainly a lot bigger than the Achilles. It almost felt like home.
“Colonel,” the Commander spoke as he rose from his chair and nodded at his XO in greeting before turning his attention to the visitors from the Achilles. He and Wolf shared a handshake and a smile before she stepped aside and introduced those who had joined her.
“Commander Hanson,” she gestured to her XO, “this is Captain Kovak, my XO and,” she then gestured to the other officer, “Captain Graystone, our CAG.”
Zach felt some slight pangs of anxiety for being shuffled into this meeting, but he covered it with a smooth and confident smile; he didn’t feel confident at the moment. “Nice to meet you, sir.” he said, offering his hand to the Commander after Catherine.
“Welcome to the Solaria, Captain. I understand you were a Snipe? I have the utmost respect for Snipes,” the Commander smiled as he shook the man’s hand. Anyone who was able to keep a Battlestar functioning in the chaos of battle deserved the crews respect for sure.
He then turned his attention to Captain Graystone. Something rang familiar with him as he looked at her, but he couldn’t put his aging finger tip on it at present. “Captain. Welcome,” he smiled as he offered his hand.
Alethea shook the man’s hand. “Thank you, Commander. It is a pleasure being back on one of these”
“This is Captain Jonathan Kilmartin, Solaria’s CAG,” Hanson introduced as Sunbeam joined them at the side of the table and exchanged handshakes with the newcomers. Once all were acquainted, Hanson gestured to the table. “Shall we?”
Kilmartin nodded and returned to his seat further round the table and next to the Colonel from his own vessel.
Wolf happily took a seat at the ‘head’ of the table next to the Commander, spaces reserved for the ‘Commanders’ of the fleet; not at all feeling like she had one upped the Colonel on this occasion. Plus one for Achilles Actual in her eyes.
Alethea waited for the others to have taken their seat before sitting down herself next to the members from the Achilles delegation. She was fully aware that in this particular pecking order she was on the lowest rung so felt it most appropriate.
Amaris was headed to the seat that Wolf had just lowered herself into; she roiled inside, but her face was a mask. Who did she think she was? She contained her anger and lowered herself into the seat on the other side of Hanson. She had been glad to have Wolf off of Solaria, but she hadn’t been able to stop this particular meeting. She didn’t want Catherine Comfortable walking these halls.
As if calling the meeting to order, Hanson clasped his hands together on the table top and sat forward in his chair, a subconscious “Hey, look at me! I’m talking!” type gesture. “The six of us in this room make up, probably, the six most experienced Colonial military officers in this fleet from a command perspective. It is our responsibility to leave this room this morning having solved every staffing crisis we have. Without the right people, in the right place, we might as well just hand this fleet to the toasters,” the Commander frowned, before quickly realising he had used a derogatory name for the Cylons for the first time in decades. “So, with that in mind, let’s start with the Air Group. Captain Kilmartin,” the Commander turned his head to look at Sunbeam and hand the meeting over to him.
“Thanks Commander,” he spoke before opening his own file on the table top. “I asked Captain Graystone to provide me with a rundown of her contingent yesterday. Taking those numbers in to account, the Solaria alone is short on a full Viper wing by two entire Squadrons,” the CAG revealed. A nearby Petty Officer who had been lurking at the side of the room wandered around the table handing copies of the Captain’s notes to the others. “It is my suggestion that, as the Carrier, we move all but one of the Achilles’ squadrons here, to Solaria. As much as it pains me to say it, but in the big fights, we’re most likely to send Solaria rather than the Achilles, so it makes most sense to have as much of the Air Wing based here as possible.” he revealed as he looked across at his compatriot from the Achilles. He hadn’t had time to share his suggestions with her, but wasn’t sure she’d like the fact he was essentially stealing seventy five percent of her Viper compliment.’
Alethea could barely maintain her composure at the mention of those numbers, in her head she was already reviewing what she’d need to keep a capable force running and it was a lot more than 25%. She would remain silent for now, to let her XO do the talking but would have some comments for the other CAG of her own.
“So you’re planning on gutting our Air Group?” Zach spoke up, suddenly. His tone had no hesitation. “Due respect, Captain, but that’s where a lot of our strength is. Achilles isn’t a ship made to resupply Solaria.” he looked diagonally across the table, right at Kilmartin. “Exactly how much are you planning on taking from us?”
Amaris looked at the man’s face squarely, an analytical, yet annoyed look in her eyes. She was sitting right across from him and had an excellent view. She could see why he’d caught Wolf’s eye; he was certainly the most handsome man she’d seen in a while. Was he brave or just a fool? She would have to find out.
Kilmartin shifted uncomfortably. “We would take all but the 9th,” he told before hastily adding, “but as soon as the training Squadron’s become active we can redistribute and bolster your Air Group.”
Zach looked over at Alethea resolutely. He’d promised her that he’d go to bat for her when the time came and he intended to do what he said he would do, even if it meant getting on the “bad side” of the most powerful people in the fleet. He didn’t care about that anywhere close to how much he cared about taking care of his people.
“You’re leaving us with one squadron?” Zach rebutted, leaning in more intensely. “We won’t be able to defend ourselves with that kind of downsizing.”
“Any sort of mission requiring additional firepower for the Achilles would be catered for,” Hanson butted in, jumping in to protect the CAG, who had only done what he had requested. “These are drastic times and it calls for drastic measures. The truth is, Solaria is a Carrier and Achilles is a Patrolship.”
“Commander, with all due respect. The Achilles won’t be much of anything if we have only one squadron to defend it. We will be sitting ducks” Alethea replied, she understood the motivation from the Solaria’s staff but with how things were going she was not convinced the plans were in the best interests of the whole fleet.
Hanson glanced at Kendall, wondering if she was thinking what he was right now. If anyone would be, it would be her for certain. He then glanced to his right. “Major?” he asked.
Catherine sat forward in her chair and took a deep breath. “Captain Kilmartin. Your plan is not without merit and I can see your reasoning behind it,” the Major retorted. “I cannot deny the concerns of my staff, but, ultimately, for the time being, I can see no alternative. We need to put the assets where they will serve the best purpose and that, clearly, is on the Solaria,” Wolf told, avoiding eye contact with her people. “Achilles is never going to be sent on any sort of mission that Solaria would be better suited to and if, gods forbid, she is, then I am certain you would re-distribute assets as required. Correct?” she asked as she looked over at the Solaria CAG.
“Of course Major,” Kilmartin nodded.
Zach glared at Catherine as she spoke and then caught himself. How could she trade their people away so easily? He was quickly becoming anxious that she was more a Hanson-lackey than the Commander of his ship. He pursed his lips in an obvious attempt to control his reaction, but ultimately he failed. “I can’t lend my support to this.” he said strongly, his eyes conveying care and a lack of hardness, but determination. “This will leave the Achilles understaffed and undergunned. I don’t think it’s good for the ship. I don’t think it’s good for the crew. This doesn’t have my vote.”
Alethea likewise was visibly startled by the betrayal of her Commanding Officer. She could too see the strategic merits but beyond the Fleet’s interest it was also her duty to look out for the ship and her crew.
“I”m not sure what ships you’ve been serving on, but in this fleet, there is no voting.” Amaris cut in rather harshly. She looked at him like a marksman who’d just successfully taken aim. “Captain, this is a military installation. We do not require your vote or your agreement. We require your acquiescence.” she concluded, turning her eyes to Wolf and scolding her wordlessly by relation.
“Ok,” Hanson interrupted and put his hands up to curtail the discussion. “I guess the next suggestion won’t be to your liking either. Captain,” he glanced across at the CAG again.
“All Squadron’s will report to the Solaria CAG and will be directly under their command,” Kilmartin responded. “It will be up to the Solaria CAG to distribute mission assets as needed,” he let out a sigh, “beginning with immediate crew rotations. Deputy CAG Lieutenant Naven Rhodes of the Solaria will transfer to the Achilles, a like for like swap with Lieutenant Lochlan. Several other pilots are to be rotated and, rotations will occur as needed in the future. Lieutenant Ayesha Myers of Solaria will head up a training unit of recruits already identified from the fleet,” the CAG concluded.
Alethea was almost fuming at the additional statements, not only were her birds stolen, her position undermined and now essentially the near full staff was removed. She couldn’t help but wonder if perhaps the goal here was to unify the crews entirely and drop the smaller ship.
Zach’s eyes ballooned at the CAG’s words. He found himself speechless. All he could do was turn to Catherine and look at her with questioning eyes. He wanted to see what she thought of all this. He had a feeling they had a lot to talk about, and soon.
“I have agreed to all of this, with a single, unknown proviso,” Hanson chimed in. “Captain Graystone. You will transfer to the Solaria with immediate effect and assume control of the Air Group,” he blurted out, seemingly to the surprise of everyone around the table, except one other. “Captain Kilmartin has been offered, and agreed to take, a promotion to the CIC and will hand control of the Air Group to you,” Hanson revealed.
If Alethea had been surprised by anything in this meeting, that was definitely it. Her position on all of this remained unchanged, she still felt it unwise to transfer so many assets away from the Achilles but at least now she could do more to protect it directly. “Commander” She said, quickly looking over to Kovak to confirm she had heard it right. “Will I still be able to oversee the protection, by Vipers, of the Achilles?”
“This is one Air Group, split across two significant military machines. You will be in overall command of the Air Group and, with confirmation, can move assets as required to meet mission profiles,” Major Wolf interrupted before the Commander could answer. Apparently, it seemed like she had known about the idea all along.
Captain Kovak looked at her, looking more exasperated, if such a thing were possible. It was unimaginable that she would have proceeded this way without telling him. Before he’d processed what he was doing next, he was up on his feet and walking toward the Wardroom’s exit.
Amaris watched the exchange with silent pleasure. She never would have admitted that this difficulty associated with Wolf had made her so excited, but it had. A thin smile was on her lips, which she quickly reined in, looking to Wolf with a neutral expression. Many of these structural changes had been in her formal recommendations to the Commander. She believed they made the fleet stronger, but good plans can kill two birds with one stone.
Hanson rose from his chair and glared in the direction of the retreating XO of the Achilles. “This is war Captain. Our civilization is on its knees and we are forced to do what we can to keep it alive, with limited resources and limited experience. Achilles is a Patrolstar for crying out loud. She is not the biggest, or the best weapon in our arsenal. Solaria is,” Hanson declared, somewhat louder than he had intended, “you may be new to military command but you cannot be new to logic, or reason. Your ship is but one cog in this fleet. By strengthening Solaria’s Air Group in this way, we strengthen our response capability and we strengthen this ships defence.” He then lowered his voice. “Some people in this room need to know the harsh truth. The truth of the matter is, we have no idea where we are going or if Galactica is even out there. The fifteen thousand people in this fleet could be all that remains of our species. I will not put them at risk to satisfy the needs of one small Patrolstar, or its crew,” he chided before lowering himself to his seat. “You all know where the door is. Hand in your pips on the way out if you aren’t happy. But if you stay, you better get your asses on the same page or I will find people that will,” he concluded.
Zach looked at the Commander, having turned around close to the door. He listened to him speak and, as he listened, he began to feel foolish. Of course, he had done an important job and stood up for his crew, but he had missed the bigger picture: the survival of the human race. He moved back toward his seat slowly and lowered himself into it. “I’m sorry, Commander.” he said genuinely. “You’re right. We’ve got bigger fish to fry.” His words, however, didn’t stop him from avoiding eye contact with his CO. He was livid with her. He observed Amaris’ barely-restrained smile and looked at her in confusion before shrugging it off and looking down at the pages in front of him.
“Anyone else?” Hanson asked, glaring around the table and when it seemed like he was free to continue, he did so. “Major Kilmartin will assume the role of Officer of the Deck aboard the Solaria. To compensate for the Achilles’ loss of personnel, we will transfer several officers and Captain Thaddeus Scott to your command in the same role. Colonel Kendall assures me he is quite a capable officer,” Hanson assured, looking at the Colonel with a severe look on his face, as if to say, ‘make me look like a fool at your peril’.
“Captain Scott served as my XO during my brief command of Solaria.” Amaris chimed in, noting the commander’s look. “He’s a capable officer. He’ll be an asset to the Achilles crew and, by my estimation, will be highly capable of whipping the CIC crew into shape.”
Alethea was still taken a bit aback by the exchange between her XO, well former XO, and the Commander however she too opted to accept the situation as it was. There would be time to second guess things later. “Commander, what are your instructions for the initial CAPs?”
“Well,” this was where the Commander uncharacteristically relaxed back in his chair. “You tell me, Captain. You are my CAG now. You tell me,” he instructed. Unbeknownst to anyone else in the room, the Commander had finally managed to answer a question that had been playing over in his head since the meeting had begun and he’d made a mental note to store it for future reference. Things were sure to get interesting.
She thought things over for a second, she had of course stayed up to date on the movements of Solaria’s Vipers so she had an idea on how to proceed. “Provided the civilian ships remain in close formation we should be able to manage with a few Vipers while keeping alert one’s ready for Cylon attacks. Four or five around the clock on patrol should work”
“We’ll maintain our position at the lead of the fleet as a bit of thrust up front,” Wolf added as she looked at the Commander beside her briefly, happy that the awkwardness of before had been put to rest for now.
“Very well,” Hanson confirmed with a nod. “We’ll continue with the forward Recon Raptor’s charting our way alongside the Athena’s Grace as required. Now, where do we stand on the engine situations around the fleet. How many ships will be able to make the next jump with us, Colonel?” Hanson questioned, turning the heat on to his XO for a short while. It had not escaped his attention that she had enjoyed the tension levels before, even though she had tried to hide it.
“All ship jump drives have been assessed and I can confirm that 15 vessels are able to complete the jump.” Kendall responded smartly. “I’ve collected crew and passenger rosters for the entire fleet as well as information on human and cargo capacity.”
“Excellent,” the Commander nodded in approval of her swift, efficient work and moved to the next item on his agenda.”It will not have escaped anyone’s attention that we no longer have a Fleet Academy. We need to rectify that swiftly so we can begin to recoup our losses,” he revealed. “Colonel, you and Captain Kovak will establish an Officers Training Program. Major Wolf and I will send you the best and brightest from our commands and you will mould them into Officers worthy of serving our ships,” he instructed as he used his right hand to close his file and his left to lift a glass of water.
Kovak creased his brow while Amaris looked on with a neutral expression. He looked over at her to try and see how she felt about the task they had been given and noticed a surprising lack of response. Perhaps she’d already known of this? As for him, he was still not at all used to his new role working primarily with people instead of the Achilles’ engine.
“As soon as we have the cadets, we’ll get started.” Amaris said simply, looking back at Kovak evenly. “The sooner we move on this, the better.”
Starting to adapt to her new rule as CAG of the entire Solaria fleet Alethea would speak up concerning the program as well. “Will there be a targeted pilot program in addition to current ones? We’re likely going to need every pilot we can get. For one if we could train anyone with even some flight experience that would be great.”
“Lieutenant Myers will be heading up our trainee squadron,” Amaris responded. “She’ll be under our jurisdiction but she will, of course, continue to report to you, Captain. Work with her to make sure that the pilots being trained are worth the time and effort. We don’t need confused amatures bumping into other Vipers and flying into our firing solutions.”
Hanson rose from his chair and looked around the assembled gathering. “I know tensions have been a little high today. Some of us have found things difficult to hear and some of us are still taking the time to adapt to new roles, but rest assured that I wouldn’t allow any of us to continue in those roles unless I thought we were the best people for the job. The fleets counting on us. We need to deliver,” he spoke quietly. “All changes are effective immediately and I want everything agreed in place by the end of the day. Major Kilmartin will assemble the pilots in the Briefing Room and will introduce them to the new CAG. Colonel, make sure that the rest of the crew knows about any rotations. Now, does anyone have anything else for me?”
Major Wolf shook her head slowly, remaining seated as she finally glanced across the table at her XO.
Kovak met her eyes when she looked at him; he was clearly angry with her, yet he remain respectful, pursing his lips and turning slowly away to look at anyone- anything else.
Major Kilmartin shook his head. He and Alethea had a lot of work to do to get the Vipers aboard. It meant not only transferring pilots and crew but also deck hands, knuckledraggers, supplies and equipment. It was going to be a busy few hours.
Alethea shook her head as well, she too realized there was going to be a lot of work to do and not every pilot was going to take it as easily, luckily however it seemed they had at least some time.
“I don’t have anything else, sir.” Kendall responded from her seat. She’d understood the Commanders order for her and was ready to carry it out.
“Then you’re all dismissed,” Hanson spoke as he gave each officer a nod and then did an about face, departing the room, only to get caught up in conversation outside with the Marines that had been waiting for the command staff.
Kilmartin looked at Alethea and then departed by the same door. What a meeting that had turned into.
Alethea nodded at Hanson, Kendall, Kovak and Kilmartin before joining the last one in getting out of the room as quickly as possible. The meeting had been interesting and while all things considered it hadn’t gone too bad, she still felt disgusted by Wolf’s betrayal.
Catherine remained steadfast, staring across at Captain Kovak, the urge to say something threatened to overwhelm her until eventually, with no one else in the room, she exploded. “Come on! Bloody spit it out!” she exclaimed.
He looked at her, his gaze not respecting of rank or status, but simply angry. “You knew about this, didn’t you? And you didn’t tell me?”
“It’s my job to know about all things that affect our ship,” Wolf responded in frustration. “I knew some of it, but not all. And I didn’t know the Commander had given it all his seal of approval. As far as I was concerned, it was just suggestions,” she countered.
“And you didn’t think it would be a good idea to tell your XO we were ripping the crew apart?” he asked, gesturing decisively. “Is that what I signed up for when I said yes to you?”
“No, of course not! You think I’m the bad guy here!? I did what I was ordered to do,” she countered again, as equally as frustrated as him. “Sometimes you just can’t do things the way others would like and sometimes, just sometimes, you have to do something that disappoints others,” she added, a bit quieter and more considered than before. She wanted to tell him, to blurt out the words, but her position dictated she had to maintain some semblance of decorum.
“That’s a nice platitude.” he said sarcastically, then caught himself. He had to remember that she was his commanding officer. He indicated non-verbally that he was controlling himself and continued. “I don’t see why you couldn’t have mentioned this to me. Colonel Kendall seemed to know exactly what was going on before this meeting started. I was completely in the dark.”
“Of course she did,” Catherine scolded, “This has got her name all over it,” the Major spoke before opting to hold her tongue somewhat. “Let’s put it this way, she has made it clear on multiple occasions over the last fifteen days that she would be willing to do anything to protect this fleet. It wouldn’t surprise me if the whole thing was her brainchild,” she concluded, folding her arms across her chest and letting out an almost childlike sigh.
Zach watched her as she spoke, a mix between observation and irritation in his gaze. There must be something there between her and the Solaria’s XO, but it hadn’t gone unnoticed that she didn’t answer his question. “So what does that mean for us, and for the Achilles?” he asked, crossing his arms and lowering his bottom onto the table edge. “Aren’t you close with Hanson? I don’t understand how you couldn’t have known all this was going on.”
“Don’t get me wrong,” she began as she echoed his stance and perched on the edge of a nearby table. “Hanson is probably the best Commander this fleet could hope for. Kendall is a war monger. She would quite happily leave this fleet behind and go on a one ship Cylon hunt,” the Major’s words escaped her lips before she had the chance to push the stop button. Not being open and honest with him had got her into this mess, so she wasn’t going to miss this chance to fix it. “Hanson knows that his priority is to keep this fleet alive and that means keeping her on side I’m sure. Keeping her in her place is probably no easy task. Remember, Solaria, by rights, should have been hers. She should have got the job when her CO was lost,” the Major revealed, her arms still crossed in a protective stance.
“You should have gotten the job.” he said, unapologetically. He looked at her, admiring her appearance, but keeping his mind on the topic at hand. “Still, maybe you’re right where you’re needed most right now. This fleet will be much stronger with Achilles at full strength. Maybe you’re the right one for the job.”
“Even after this morning?” she asked, a smile creeping on her face as she glanced over at him. If anyone else had been watching they would have been forgiven for thinking there may have been a hint of flirtation in the exchange.
“There’s more to you than this morning.” he said, looking into her eyes. “I’m madder than ten bears at you, but that doesn’t make me a fool.” He rested his hands on the table and offered a sigh. “I’ll be honest: I don’t believe in coincidences, Major. Not at a time like this. Everything that’s happening…as terrible as it is..is going to result in something good. Maybe I’m right or maybe I’m crazy, but that’s what I believe.”
She smiled back at him with deep, sincere eyes. She liked him and was glad she had him as her executive. “Come Captain,” she grinned as she pushed herself off the table top. “Let’s get out of here. Our people need us.”
He lifted himself off the table as well and walked beside her. She was cute, and he was having a difficult time not flirting with her. It was the end of the world after all; one couldn’t be blamed for having a harder time resisting such things. “I’m making that steak for you tonight. 19:00, my quarters.” he said with a grin.
As the pair left the wardroom, looking decidedly happier than before, the Major nodded and let out her cheesiest grin yet. “It’s a date!”