2237-03-14 - Tortoise and Hare

Webb and Thorne meet on the beach. The result is...predicable.

Date: 2237-03-14

Location: Rocky Beach, Outside of Edson Air Base, Canceron

Related Scenes: None

Plot: None

Scene Number: 964

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It's pretty well common knowledge, even for new fish, that the beach not far from the base is a sort of no man's land. You're not really supposed to be there, maybe, but it's a place to get away from the base, absolutely. So if people assigned to the base occasionally find themselves out here, as long as they don't lose a limb or end up doing a floater, the brass tends to let it go.

Just at the mo, there is at least one person who seems to have wandered down past the flight line and down the path to the rocky shore. At the moment, though, she's not moving, rather, she's found herself one of the largest rocks and is using it as a perch of sorts, body angled to allow a unobstructed view of the ocean's breaking waves. And it is a she. The long braid gives it away. But the rest if her is wrapped up in what looks like a blanket of some sort.

Eva is not alone on the off-base beach. Webb could be jogging anywhere, but why pass up the chance to jog along the ocean? In a standard-issue T-shirt and sweat pants and a lot of mosquito repellent, the new CAG's feet pound along the rocky shore. He notices the figure there from a distance, eyes picking out the braid.

It's the sound of falling feet that draw Eva's eyes away from the ocean, hands instinctively pulling the blanket, more of a quilt, really, more closely around her shoulders. Her eyes find and follow the approaching figure. No such luck that it might actually be a familiar face. Well, no. The face is familiar, but the tightening of her lips, as she identifies the man is clear enough that it's not a friendly one. Still, being that she's both a: a grown woman, and b: an officer, it probably wouldn't do to act like a petulant child. So, she waits, watching the CAG approach in silence.

Not a friend, but the greeting Webb calls out is at least a friendly one as he jogs to a stop a short distance away. "Hallo there Thorne." He has demonstrated a tendency to call the pilots by their last names rather than their callsigns when not in the air - a quirky tradition in some parts of the Virgon Royal Navy.

Eva waits, until Webb has both come within speaking distance, and slowed to make conversation possible, to reply to his greeting, "Good evening, Major." She doesn't seem surprised by the use of her given name. She too, started out in the Virgon Royal Navy, before this particular pleasure cruise. Now that Webb is close enough, even in the light of the moon, which is full enough to make running on the rocks a non-suicidal adventure, you can make out the Leonese colours, and occasionally, little Foreign Legion flags have been worked in to the pattern.

Webb tilts his head a little when he notices the blanket. "Thought you were Royal Navy, Thorne. What's with the blanket?" he wonders cheerily. Aside from their initial tense meeting, in the short time he's been with the squadron, he's proven to be a cheerful, gregarious sort on the whole.

Eva looks down at the quilt wrapped around her, tucking it more firmly down around her legs as a gust of wind picks up the edge. Yes, this may be a jungle planet, but the wind near the water is occasionally still chilly. "I am Royal Navy, Major. These are Smackdown's colors. I've been meaning to send it on, but I haven't been able to get word on where he's ended up yet." She has neither the rank nor the familial connections for that. "This is just the outside anyway, I'm still working on the inside. I've been trying to add in little things that represent everyone in the squadron."

"Ah, you're making it for him? Nice gesture," Webb says, in an off-handed way that is sincere enough without being overly enthusiastic about the prospect. "Sure the 'X' can find out where he's landed, if you like." He brings his foot up onto a rock, stretching out his leg a bit. "Popular guy, your CAG."

"He should have something to remind him of us, and of what he meant to us." Eva doesn't seem to take offense at the response or lack there of. She's only offering information. She takes a moment to consider the comment, before she nods, "Smackdown cared about his people. He understood what it meant for a lot of us to give up our identities as members of our home colonies, our home militaries, and come together as a unit. Maybe it was coming up from the Legion that helped with that, I don't know. But he never held his position over our heads, or expected us to respect him just because of the pins on his collar, or the title on his jacket. He got down in the trenches with us and earned our respect, and that made us stronger as a squadron."

Webb nods consideringly, then switches legs to stretch the other one. "Our old CO in Queens Harbor was like that - always on the front line." If she followed the news, Eva might recognize the name as an airbase that was a bastion of resistance in a heavily-occupied area of Virgon. The force there was cut off from support for several months. "He flew longer and harder than the rest of us. Never sent anyone to do anything he wouldn't do himself. Big shoes to fill."

"You won't be able to." Eva's voice isn't belligerent or dismissive, it's just...honest, "And that's no reflection on you. But nobody would. Not you, not me, not even Moreau (ooc: that's the Argonauts lead, Kallas' unofficial second). Kallas was Kallas. He was the first, and his own thing. Nobody in this squadron, and I would suspect, in the Argonauts is looking for a replacement. You're free to be whom you feel you need to be to lead the air wing. And if his way isn't your way, we'll live with it." Not happily, but then, being in the military isn't about being happy.

Webb shakes his head. "Wasn't talking about Kallas. I was talking about Colonel Crossley. He bought it in a bombing raid a month in. We'd lost a lot of blokes; I ended up being next in line." He shrugs. "Everyone can be replaced. Crossley, Kallas, you, me. It's war, that's just how it is. We're all just filling a chair till the next one comes along. I'm not here to win a popularity contest. I'm just here to do my job."

"If that's really what you think, then I would say you're going to do a bang up job of not being very popular." Eva opens the blanket, adjusting it and then settling it back around her shoulders, "The fact is? Yes, we can all be replaced. Yes, when one of us dies or can't function anymore, command writes a chit and sends someone else down the line? Those are the facts. But the reality, Major? The reality, is that while we are here, in these seats, we all want to feel that we matter. That the work we do matters, that who we were and what we believed in matter. Squadrons don't work well because of the things that you can measure on a kill board or write down in a quarterly evaluation. They succeed because of all of the little things you can't put down in an after action report."

Webb nods, pressing his lips together. "That's a really sweet sentiment, Thorne. But the way I see it - we don't get to matter just by taking up space in a bunk. We matter because of what we do up there." He points a finger at the sky. "The Toasters we take out, the territory we take back, the people we save, and the pilots we don't lose. So you go on putting Major Kallas up on some pedestal if it makes you feel better. Long as you do your job, you can knit all the blankets you like." He offers a condescending smile and then puts his feet back on the ground.

"The fact that you would even read that into what I said is precisely what I'm talking about, Webb. I never suggested that just being here was a matter of celebration. But, rather, that the very reason I am able to fly, to take out Toasters, to help our campaigns to be successful, to save people, isn't solely because I am a good pilot, which I am. It is because I know my wingmates well enough to be able to work seamlessly with them. I understand their strengths and how to compliment them. I know their weaknesses and how to bolster them. And that means knowing more about and caring more about them than just what I read on a kill board or in their service jacket." Eva comes to her feet, tugging the quilt off and throwing it over her arm, "Enjoy your run, Major."

"More to being a pilot than flying a plane, Thorne," Webb chimes in, though whether that's an agreement or disagreement or both - he doesn't clarify. He just continues jogging on down the beach.


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