2237-05-31 - The Inquiry

An inquiry is held into the friendly fire shooting incident.

Date: 2237-05-31

Location: Ward Room

Related Scenes: None

Plot: None

Scene Number: 779

Jump to End

The Scene

The ward room has been co-opted to look more like a courtroom today, with a panel of seven senior fleet officers (from both the Colonial Forces and the Canceron Air Force) sitting behind a long table at the front of the room to hear the testimony. Facing them is a table for the interviewee and their lawyer (if requested), and behind a roped-off line are some seats for spectators and soldiers waiting their turn to testify. A few members of the press are here, and everything is being recorded.

The Testimony

LTJG Calliope "Soundbite" Drake comes to her inquiry session looking as correct as she can manage. Dress uniform squared away, clear-headed, and trying to show a minimum of wide-eyed horor about the whole affair. She succeeds only spottily at the last part. Her account of the incident sticks to the main points at first, which she accounts mostly coherently. They were sent out on a bombing run, target an airfield in Kannur Province. They'd received reports of Cylons using Canceron transponders to disguise their "Cypers," so they were on alert. When they crossed into Cylon territory, they picked up signals that pinged "friendly" on the DRADIS. Iris and Roller tried to contact them, but there was no response, and Major Webb ordered them to engage after repeated hails were ignored.

"Maybe Mince and I should've tried to hail them ourselves. Maybe we should've waited until they took aggressive action first. I don't know, sirs. The toasters are changing their tactics and trying to trap us more, and we've been fooled by the Cypers before. It was a mistake, a horrible mistake and I'm so, so sorry to the Canceron pilots. We're supposed to be here to help. But what would you have done in our place, you know?"

She clears her throat, adding one last thing for the record.

"I just want to say, we were all ordered to engage, and we all engaged. Razor was just the best shot right then. But it could've been any of us who downed one of them. It's on me, and all of us, as much as it is on him."

Her Raptor's DRADIS footage was pulled by techs and entered into the record as well, for whatever it's worth.

Before the panel of seven, Charles "Lastman" Durant was seated at the table assigned for the interviewee to be questioned. Professional in his attire, the blue dress uniform of Aquaria's standards had been freshly laundered and pressed earlier that day in preparation for this moment. Both hands folded into each other in a relaxed manner on top of the table and just before microphone used to record his testimony.

"Yes Sirs." He started.

"Our mission after briefing was to transport the explosives to the cylon occupied airfield for detonation. Upon nearing our target we received contact on the DRADIS. We were to assume all contacts were hostile until confirmed by a Colonial identifier." Durant spoke in a casual manner, his words unhurried as the raptor pilot recounted the events that led him testifying before the panel.

"Prior to embarking on this mission we had received reports that the cylons were using Canceron Transponder codes." Durant answered an inquiry made as to why the contacts were treated as hostile first.

"Iris, Lieutenant Irene Harris, was given a command to radio for contact and confirm identity." He said then another member of the panel raised a question.

"Five seconds." Short and to the point.

Durant met their eyes as he stuck straight to the facts, as best as he could recall. "There was no response. The supposed hostiles remained on on course as if we were ignored."

"We were given the order to engage the enemy we attempted to jam our target's signals." He responded as the panel took a moment to talk among themselves before posing yet another inquiry of the pilot. "I managed to suppress one of the targets and the other two we attempted to jammed were had failed. After one of the Canceron squadron leader responded, when one of their birds had been unfortunately eliminated by Ensign Kell Draygo, we pulled back immediately. They accused us of being on the wrong frequency."

"I don't question orders Sir. We're not afforded the luxury of asking our enemy to wait a moment as we need time to think." Durant replied, his tone dry but weighed with nothing but the truth. "We acted accordingly to the situation we were in."

When it is his turn to speak to the panel of senior fleet officers, ENS Kell "Razor" Draygo enters the make shift courtroom promptly. Freshly laundered and sharply pressed is the dress uniform that the young Viper pilot has on today and he enters alone, choosing not to have a lawyer with him despite offered the opportunity. His eyes are focused straight ahead when he approaches the table that is assigned to the interviewee, ignoring the press that is present and the spectators that may be present. His focus is purely on the panel present and his usual reserved manner is fully on display today, perhaps the triad face he has on when playing cards is actually useful at this time.

The Ensign's account of the mission begins with the mission briefing of their objective and intel that was provided on their objective. Then it shifts to when they first cross into Cylon territory which of course is followed by contact on DRADIS, blips that are being identified as friendlies. Everything was fresh in his mind again as he had reviewed the mission tape once more before the inquiry began.

"On the previous Combat Air Patrol mission that I flown in, Cylons were using Vipers as bait, a fake engagement which drew our patrol in to assist. They were also painted with Canceron Air Force's color, and when we reinforced the supposed friendly Vipers, both groups turned on us." It was not a pretty engagement and it was also the mission where Kell was shot down, his first time. "So we were all on high alert that Cylons are capable of using Cypers with local colors as lure Colonial Forces in." There was a pause before the Viper pilot continues his testimony, "Leftenant Harris's ECO patched into the Canceron Force's comm channel and they proceed to send repeated verbal queries for them to identify themselves as friendlies. We received no response to any of the queries. Major Webb also contacted Vanguard Actual to check if there were supposed to be any friendly forces in the area, however they needed time to check the information. By that time, we were able to count /eight/ possible bogeys flying under false colors, which out-numbered our strike force and they were still on an intercept course."

There is another pause from the Ensign as he takes in a slow breath, as he collects his thoughts once more when the testimony reaches the point of the actual engagement. "Since there were no responses from the Vipers in response to any of our queries on the Canceron frequency and Vanguard Actual was not able to update us on friendly assets in the area... the decision was made to treat them as hostiles before they were able to maneuver into a position that could have seen our flight cut down if they turned out to be Cypers." Once more, Kell falls silent for a brief moment, the triad face slipping slightly as his facial expression tightens, "So we engaged. I had a target focused and I fired off a burst from my autocannons, my shots hit center-mass and that was when we receive an update from Vanguard Actual that a friendly force was in the area returning from a fighter sweep. At the same time, the Canceron flight immediately went into evasive and they finally responded on comms, telling us to break off after identifying themselves as Canceron Squadron Seven-Two-Four."

Swallowing hard, Kell pauses again and then continues, his tone a little bit quieter, slight but noticeable. "I broke off as ordered, but it was too late. My target was down." That is where the Ensign's testimony on the actual friendly portion ends. Left out was the exchange between Webb and the Canceron squadron leader on the comms, or the chatter coming from the other pilots in his strike team. Either he felt no reason to add them, or he actually didn't recall any of those words until he reviewed the mission tape. There is a longer pause from the Viper pilot before he finally speaks again, finishing the rest of his testimony of how they returned en route to their original target and a brief synopsis of how the strike went.

No excuses were made, the Ensign's testimony was clear cut in how he presented the facts. However, perhaps something an actual would probably have advise against, Kell either in his inexperience and naivety or he felt that it was the right thing, he adds on last statement, "I am very sorry to the Canceron pilot's family and friends for the tragedy this accidental friendly fired cause."

Salvae dresses up for the occasion, wearing his dress uniform with everything polished just right. He sits at the table and waits to be addressed. When asked for his recollection of events, he begins:

"Our flight briefing had mention of an event where the cylons were using Canceron Vipers with transponder codes engaged in a dogfight with raiders. When given aid, those vipers then turned on our forces, revealing them to be cylons.

"On the mission in question here, we were briefed that there were no friendlies in the area. We were to be alone on this one, and proceed to the airfield to bomb the shi-- to eliminate the target. Once we crossed the front lines, we went weapons hot.

"Our flight was en route when Dradis pinged a squadron of cypers. They were on an intercept course, and were radio silent. When challenged, they offered no reply. Our flight leader called back to base to confirm they weren't friendly. There was no response by the time they were upon us, so, being in hostile territory with a squadron of cyphers approaching, we engaged.

"A few hits were scored by the time Vanguard called back. We ceased fire immediately, but one went down."

Webb takes his seat, looking smart in his red jacket with a chest full of decorations. He gives a brisk recounting of the mission objectives and launch, then gets to the good part. “After crossing into Cylon territory, DRADIS picked up eight contacts bearing Canceron Air Force transponders.”

One of the panel members interrupts to ask, “The communications transcript shows that you instructed the pilots to treat friendly birds as, quote, ‘hostile until confirmed on comms’, is that correct?”

Webb frowns. They know as well as he does what the transcript shows. “That’s right.”

“And is that standard Colonial Forces procedure?” the senior officer representing the Canceron forces asks in a stern voice. “To assume all friendly ships are hostile?”

Webb shakes his head. “No, sir, not generally. But two days prior one of our flights had encountered Cylon birds spoofing Canceron transponders. When our planes went in to assist them, they attacked. Our daily situation briefing had ordered all pilots to be alert in case the Cylons tried a similar trick again.”

The Canceron officer still looks displeased, but one of the other panel members tries to steer things back on track. “What happened after you saw the Canceron transponders on DRADIS?”

Webb answers evenly, explaining how they tried to contact the other ships and Vanguard. “We didn’t receive a response before we were on the other flight. I gave the order to engage. As soon as we received word from the Canceron ships and Vanguard, we immediately broke off the engagement.”

A series of rapid-fire questions are tossed out by the panel: Had he considered waiting for confirmation from Vanguard? Having other pilots try to contact the incoming ships? Doing a fly-by to visually identify if there were human pilots? Waiting for the other fighters to make the first hostile move? The answer to all, of course, is ‘no’, each one a little testier than the last.

Finally Webb’s had enough. “Look, let’s cut through the shit, sirs.” If he had a lawyer with him, the poor guy/gal would probably be having a seizure right about now. “It’s easy to sit back here with the benefit of hindsight and second-guess what we maybe should’ve done. But in the sky we don’t have that luxury. There’s no playbook. We have a few seconds to make a decision. As far as I knew, that was a squadron of eight Cypers waiting to pounce on us. If it had been, and we’d waited till the trap was sprung, we probably would’ve lost a hell of a lot more than one pilot. I stand by my decision. The rest of the flight was just following my order.”

Eva, having come in with the first wave of observers, remains carefully perched on her seat. She's worn her dress uniform, out of respect for the solemnity of the proceedings, her expression a matching shade of dour, almost grim. She's made no comment or small conversation with anyone who might be sitting around her, only watching, waiting, listening.

Aubrey has been sitting quietly in the back of the ward room. She wasn't on the run that resulted in the friendly fire incident, but the Air Crew is all family, and she's here to show her support. She followed Eva's lead and put on the brand spanking new, still starchy, dress uniform. She tugs a little at the collar as she shifts in her seat. To say the inquiry is uncomfortable is an understatement, and she's not even involved.

As Webb finishes his testimony, Tucker actually seems impressed as he leans over to mutter quietly to Eva, "Shit, good on the Major." he says quietly as he takes a few notes in his pad. He wasn't at the friendly fire incident, but he was at the Cylons first attempt to sucker them into the fight, and he introduced one of the ideas to try to separate friendly and enemy Vipers in the heat of battle.

Van wears his new Colonial Forces dress uniform, for all that the sash hangs a little awkwardly while he's seated, totally unlike the tight sash of the Picon dress uniform. Evidently, he has taken it upon himself to be front and center, showing clear and unequivocal support for his fellow Cee-Eff pilots. When Webb cuts off the last question, Van straightens up a little in his seat, eyebrows lifting and eyes widening in surprise. That surprise, at the end of the CAG's testimony, turns to grudging respect, and he nods, evidently agreeing with Tucker.

Lieutenant Miranda Ford walks into the room in her immaculate uniform and golden mane of hair tied in a perfect ponytail that screams of control freakishness. The woman pays attention to the testimony of all officers, and not even once she seems to express what she really feels about the situation at hand, other than some puzzled quirking of a brow when a certain someone expresses nervousness or too much emotion about what happened. She pays special attention to Webb's testimony, betraying some disapproval with a subtle furrowing of her brows. She almost feels like she needs to speak up, but remains silent, hands behind her back.

Calliope is also in her new dress uniform. It looks both a little too big and a little too short in the legs and arms. Made for someone both less skinny and less lanky. She'll need to have a tailor attend to it later, though. Her testimony has been over and done for awhile and she just sits, kind of curled into herself as she listens to Webb. Hands clasped very tight in her lap. She's a nail-biter, and is trying not to give into temptation.

Darcy has just taken a seat as well, glancing just a little from side to side at the other pilots in the wings listeng intently at the various testimonies and such.

Kell is wearing the dress blacks with blue piping like everyone else, looking as orderly and sharp as possible. However, what he look like is almost the opposite of how he is feeling, a tumult is emotions that he had tried to keep bubbling up to the surface. Even after he completed his testimony, the tension within him doesn't fade, in fact it builds as Webb stepped up for his testimony, the mission leader. The testimony from the Major certainly eases some of the tension in the rookie pilot, but he is left slightly wide-eyed at the choice of language that was used for the senior officers on the panel at the end. The only thing that Kell can do is shift his gaze from the Major to the panel members.

Obviously Lieutenant Kalivas is fairly new. Her uniform is perfectly pressed and her insignia carefully placed. The woman's chest is free of actual service medals to speak of despite having her fair of technical and academic merits to go with the flight wings. A volunteer service medal. Alex is of average height, a bit on the slender side, wth her red hair carefully pulled into a tail and tied with a bit of blue ribbon. At least the dress uniform fits. The woman's lips quirk slightly but other than a thoughtful frown and a faintly furrowed brow she doesn't seem to have a comment.

They saved Roller for last. There's a bit of back and forth at the beginning, making sure he (and his JAG advocate) understand that he's testifying here voluntarily and that any testimony could be used at a later hearing. That doesn't sound ominous at all.

Roller doesn't provide much beyond what the other pilots have already said. The panel grills him about the details of the communications. How many times did he hail them, what did he say, what was the response.

Then the million cubit question: "What frequency were you hailing them on." Roller tells them, and the one senior officer prompts, "Are you sure?"

"Quite sure, sir. It was my job before the flight to ensure everyone's comm units were set to the proper frequency."

Oh frak. It shows in Tucker's eyes. He's already starting to realize what's about to happen as he reaches over and jots a note to show quickly to Eva, a frown pulling across his features as he shows the note to the seinor redhead of the ship. 'He's going to be fed to the sharks'. His face is quickly schooled to hide the worry, as he watches the proceedings. Then he adds 'Did anyone check the boards to make sure that the right frequencies were posted in the Ready Room?'.

Aubrey's eyes narrow at the line of questioning. This sounds pretty bad to the pilot, and she grimaces, looking around at the members of the air crew who were involved with an uneasy expression.

Eva glances over to Tucker, a frown darkening her features, as she hears Webb's final statement before he steps down from the stand, a shake of her head, her voice kept low, out of deference to the stillness in the room, "I wonder." Confidence and bravado have never been things Webb does not have in spades. But anything else she might say is set aside, as Roller comes up for his testimony. Eyes glance down to the note, and she nods, reading the note, but offers a shake of her head at the second jotted note. Not the Captain, at least.

Calliope glances sideways at Webb. Her face is a little contorted at the moment, all worry and seriousness, but there is a respect for the CAG in her eyes. And, then, Roller is talking. Her eyes briefly find Mince, her ECO from the day of the incident, who's sitting next to her. The share a little nod, laced with no small amount of regret, and then listen as Iris' ECO goes on. And is questioned in turn.

There is only one 'proper' response to 'are you sure' at an inquiry, and when Roller gives it, Van nods a little to himself again, even if tension has settled in at his shoulders. He can read the line of questioning as well as Aubrey can, and his lips remain pressed tightly together.

To Kell, Roller's testimony is taken in full faith, a slight nod from the Ensign as if feeling confidence in Roller's testimony about the frequency that was used. The grilling by the panel members isn't surprising as they just want to get the facts straight. When Roller's testimony is completed though, Razor turns his gaze back to the senior officers on the panel as if to wait for what will come next. He is just waiting for the conclusion, one way or another, wanting to get this whole mess behind him and move onto the punishment phase.

"Indeed it was," the Canceron senior officer says sharply. He motions to a clerk, who delivers a hardcopy printout to Roller. "Lieutenant Haynes, is this the pre-flight checklist from the day in question?"

"Yes, sir, it seems to be."

"Can you please read for the panel what you have recorded in the communications section?"

Roller starts to read, but gets only a few words in before he stops, his face draining of color.

"Read the frequency, Lieutenant," the officer prompts again.

Roller looks as though he's been gut-punched. "332.7."

"3-3-2-dot-7," the Canceron officer repeats, each number emphasized with a tap of his finger on the desk. "The joint taskforce frequency for 20 May was 337.2. You were transmitting on the wrong frequency."

Aubrey feels that roil of nausea at the evidence that Roller used the wrong frequency. She looks over at Kell, because he's the one who has paid the highest price for it. Even if Roller gets sent to the brig, it was the other pilot who shot down the friendly because of Roller's mistake.

Lt. Ford frowns more visibly now, the reveal of the wrong frequency making her mask of indifference fade to become far more judgmental. A mistake like that is not something the woman seems to take lightly, and it is easy to assess which side she takes on the matter now. There is a brief shake of her head, that ponytail swinging softly as she does so. Miranda straightens her back and peers over at Alex at some distance, before looking back at the Canceron senior officer.

Tucker opens his notebook, quickly flipping to the page, and finding his own frequency logs. "Frak." he hisses underneath his breath, opening it to show to Eva. Unfortunately, it's an affirmation against Roller as it shows the frequency for 20 May as 337.2.

Alex sucks in a sharp breath, shifting her gaze across the room as she is taking in the reactiosn fo those present. She keeps silent otherwise and does not, of course, ruin her perfect military posture.Eventually those blue eyes settle on Miranda, mostly for the factthat the other is already looking at her in turn. Still, her expression is more thoughtful than angry. Alex wigglesh er fingers agaisnt her hips. Ifshe tapped loudly enough one might make out the beat, a popular song from a year or so before the war began. But it's silent. Of course.

That line of questioning sounds... bad. Van sits up a little straighter when the Canceron officer asks Roller to read back the frequency. This wouldn't be coming if... and then Roller's reaction seals it. Van grimaces, swallowing hard to try and clear out the bilious lump that suddenly formed in the pit of his stomach. He lets out a slow breath, the tension building in his shoulders even as his head slumps a little. Forcing a bit of steel back into his spine, he looks up to Roller, sympathy on his features for all that he feels sick himself. However bad he feels, the ECO has to feel even worse.

Calliope lets out an audible breath, paling. Next to her, Mince puts his hand on her shoulder and says something gruff but comforting. As he does. Calliope's eyes are all on Roller, though, wide in her pale face. She's silent. Horrified.

Roller just shakes his head, stunned. "I'm sorry…" he murmurs. His JAG advocate is leaning in to mutter something, probably advising him not to say anything else.

Webb's eyes widen, then he just scowls and shakes his head. Ryan, on the panel, is unsurprised — he knew about this evidence ahead of time, of course. But looks grim.

The other panel members look to each other, murmuring some soft words and conferring.

Eva leans over, reading the log as it's offered to her, and she nods, "Wrong, but...where was his crosscheck?" An arch of her brow, at that. Yes, all members of a flight have their responsibilities, but everything should be checked and doublechecked for accuracy. That's how you avoid mistakes that kill people.

The look of confidence that Kell had after everyone's testimony, including Roller's, which combined into a rather strong deck of cards for the Timberwolves, crumbles when it was the Canceron senior officer's turn to speak. As evidence is rolled out though and it becomes obvious that there was a mistake made on the frequency channel that was set for the by Iris's ECO. The mask that Razor usually wears slips back on, a passive expression except for a tightness at the edge of his eyes and lips. However, his hands that was open and flat at his side has now each balled up tightly. They were in the wrong.

"Was there another ECO on the flight?" Tucker asks Eva in response. "If they were short that day, then he wouldn't have had a crosscheck." Which is a lapse in protocol, but it happens in combat situations.

Eva tilts her head, looking across at Tucker, "You don't doublecheck your bear's numbers before you launch?" There are always two people in a raptor.

"Have you seen a Raptor's checklist, Cherry?" Tucker asks, not defensively. "We have two sets of checklists to go through, and that's only for non-cargo missions. When we're hauling a fully loaded bird? There's things the ECO covers that I don't and vice versa. Comm checks are for in-wing only to make sure we can talk to each other, not to others out there." In other words, he just doesn't have time for that check most of the time.

Roller just sits there looking green, like he might either faint or throw up. He does neither, but it's sure not comfortable as he waits for the panel to decide his fate.

"It's on the books but I don't think I know anyone who's actually checked it since we got out of training," Alex half mumbles to herself, shaking her head as she does. She's commenting on the conversation but perhaps not actually inserting herself. Finally she shakes her head and scowls, mostly looking down at the ground in front of her while she considers. Well. Everything, likely, if she's as green as she looks. Finally she shakes her head and returns to watching Raptor, patience the predominant emotion on her face.

Calliope is just silent throughout all this, though she offers occasional weak nods at what Tucker says about Raptor protocol. There's very little sympathy in her eyes for Roller as she watches him. Just a sort of stark horror at the fall-out from a deciminal point.

Aubrey chews on her lower lip, folding her arms across her chest with the tension of the moment, waiting for the verdict.

"I have, but clearly this is something we need to consider, don't you think? Given that we're usually working missions with cross-squadron cooperation. We don't always have the luxury of working only with in-wing communications." Eva's tone is not in the least judgmental. Rather, she and Tucker might well be two pilots sitting down at a meeting to decide on a new SOP. It just happens to be in a room full of people with their heads in other games.

When the panel gets done chattering to each other, faces grim, it's the angry Canceron officer who is nominated to speak. And he continues to look angry. "Were it up to me, Lieutenant, you would be facing charges. Negligence. Dereliction of duty. Your carelessness caused the death of a good pilot. A man with a family. A husband, two children, parents, a twin brother. It is inexcusable."

Roller looks like he'd like to be swallowed by the deck. But the Canceron pilot goes on. "However, I am but one vote. And the panel has decided that no charges will be filed in this incident." And man you can just about see the steam coming out of his ears at that proclamation. "Colonel Ryan will determine what disciplinary actions to take within the unit for your mistake. But the greatest punishment is living with what you have done."

Ryan bangs a gavel. "This inquiry is concluded."

Lt. Ford arches her brow at Alex, something that finally breaks her austere demeanor into something aking to 'orly?' as she listens to the woman admit the books are not all that followed 'round these parts. She stares at the judgment, and nods when the Canceron officer speaks like the man is absolutely right. Incompetence kills and it shouldn't be acceptable. The people left behind are just added salt to injury, and Miranda shakes her head.

The inquiry is over, and the woman just stands there, hands behind her back, taking in the sentence. She peers at the Canceron officer, her mind racing a little, enough that she ignores the people around her at first.

Aubrey lets out a shakey breath, and color returns to her face.

Webb rises, rubbing his face. "Well that was a clusterfrak," he mumbles to no one in particular.

Salvae lets out a sigh of relief that Roller isn't going to spend the rest of the war in a cell for a little frakup like transposing two numbers. It was a simple typo that cost the canceron pilot his life. A tragic mistake, but not one that would make throwing away an officer's career away. He wipes his sweaty palms on his knees and gets up, when he's able, he gives Roller a reassuring pat on the shoulder and a nod, before he begins filtering out into the lobby area.

Snapping his book closed, Tucker frowns. "That was a massive SNAFU." he mutters to himself then glances aside to Eva. "Want to see if anyone wants to drink some piss beer and try to forget this whole evening happened?"

Eva pauses in her break down of the procedures, waiting for the results of the panel. A shake of her head, as she hears the Canceron officer speak, but doesn't look at all relieved, as no punishment is handed down, "He's right. No amount of disciplinary action will ever equal knowing you killed an innocent man." Says the woman from Hibernia, a moon that knows all about the death of innocents. "I'll pass on the beer, but I'm happy to get the frak out of here."

"I don't think anyone should ever forget this evening happened," says Lt. Ford as she hears one of the present propose that very idea. She tries to find whoever said it by slowly scanning the room, but doesn't bother explaining herself further, at least not without prompting. Now more relaxed, with hands on her hips, the blonde pilot just doesn't lose her stern expression.

When the conference between the senior officers are complete, Kell's balled up fists begin to relax and they are left hanging open at his sides again. When the outcome of the vote is revealed for Roller's fate, there is a very slight nod from the rookie Viper pilot. However, when Ryan bangs the gavel and claims that the inquiry is concluded, the young Ensign can't help but blink at those words. He fully expected his name to be called next to go front and center, and Kell almost raised his hand to voice the question. But the more pratical and probably self-preserving part of him puts an iron grip on his arm to keep it from rising. So the result is just stunned, motionless silence for the time being.

"He's going to need to forget, Eva. You got to have a short memory for these frak ups. Because the next time, he second-guesses himself, and we may end up with worse than a misplaced decimal. We may end up with an ECO that doubts everything he's doing, including what his next target is. Not who I want behind me in the backseat." Tucker points out as he's already moving to head out, catching the blonde's eye on the way out.

Calliope lets out a breath. But it's less one of relief than just allowing air into her lungs again. She watches Roller a long moment, then looks away. Standing and wandering over to mingle. "Yeah. No frakking kidding," she mutters. Generally in response to Tucker, but to everybody and nobody. "I definitely don't want to stick around." She shoots Kell a quick smile. It doesn't quite touch her eyes, but she does look a little gladdened for him.

Aubrey slips on out, pausing to pat Kell's shoulder as she passes and give him a tight smile.

Colonel Ryan shakes hands with the other panel officers as they begin to disperse. Someone shoos away the press. They had their show - the rest of this is a military matter. Ryan comes out from behind the desk, smoothing out his new dress blacks. He heads over to Roller, claps the shellshocked young man on the shoulder and murmurs something quietly to him. Probably a 'we'll talk later' sort of thing. Then his eyes scan the room, and zero in on Kell. He heads over to the other pilot. "Ensign Draygo."

"They tell you in training that the checks are all important and any one of them could saves lives. People are always rolling their eyes, too. I guess... People will remember to check their comm frequencies now." Alex finally relaxes and shifts her hand to her trouser pockets, keeping a firm group on that contemplative, vaguely melancholic expression that she's been wearing the whole time thus far.

"A couple of beers sounds like a good idea," the young woman now calls a bit more firmly, stepping forward. She'll never be known for having a loud voice. It carries, at least. "Oh! Ah. Alex. I just transferred in while we've been in dry dock. I guess you're short a few ECOs?" She'll offer her right hand to, well, anyone who feels like a handshake.

Only when Aubrey pats his shoulder does Kell snap out of his funk, a quick glance given to the other Viper pilot before an appreciative nod is given. The same is offered to Calliope as well before he hears his rank and name spoken. It is Colonel Ryan and out of reflex, Razor snaps to attention, "Yes sir." He offers no opinion of what has just transpired, only formally acknowledging the senior officer as the other man sought him out for a purpose. It looks like Kell isn't leaving the room just yet.

"Sounds like she's going to take your beers, Cherry." Tucker offers aside to Eva before accepting Alex's hand. "Flats. This is Cherry. You new to the Pack?" he asks curiously, sure he'd recognize her before if she wasn't. "I don't mind a third, do you?"

Eva will offer her hand in turn, "Welcome to the Timber Wolves." She's usually good abut remembering faces, so Alex is definitely in the 'new' category. "I would say I wish you had been introduced to us under better circumstances, but..." Nothing they can do about that now/

Lt. Ford looks at Alex' extended hand but she doesn't shake it, even looking a bit puzzled when the woman aimlessly offers a handshake. Thankfully, Tucker is there to avoid a weird situation, but unlike the friendly, redheaded ECO the blonde pilot gives a brief shake of her head at the trio. "Thank you for the invitation, but his sorrows are not mine to drown. I have a lot to do before the morning comes."

With that Miranda turns to leave the others and their confraternizations/introductions alone. Friendly woman, this one.

Ryan doesn't look angry, or even stern, as he stands before Kell. "At ease," he says. "Ensign, I've spoken to Major Webb." He nods in the direction of the CAG, who's around here somewhere talking to one of the other pilots. "I'm putting you in charge of revising the pre-flight procedures and checklists for our taskforce comms." He calls over then, "Captain Thorne, join us for a moment?"

Van stays quiet for a long while after the verdict, but when he rises, it isn't to join the other members of the squadron. Instead, he moves up toward the front of the wardroom, offering Kell a pat on the shoulder as he moves past, and then follows up the CO's visit with Roller, reaching out to put a hand on the ECO's shoulder, "Are you still in there, Roller?"

Calliope blinks at Ford. "Umm..." She decides not to greet that one right now. She approaches Alex, though. Smiling, albeit weakly. "Hi. Lieutenant Junior Grade Calliope Drake. I'm a Raptor pilot. So we'll be flying together, maybe. And...coordinating checklists like whoa." Her eyes flick briefly to Webb, as thoughtful as her blues ever get.

Roller looks up at Van. Devastated - that's a good word for it. "What?"

Eva, just about to turn and head out following the raptor stick, draws up short as she hears the Colonel call out to her, and she offers an apologetic look, "Ill catch you up, Flats, Alex." She moves to join Ryan and the Ensign, "Yes, sir." Not a question, a statement. Ryan is, after all, the boss of her.

Aubrey is lurking outside the ward room, waiting to see if people are going to have some sort of irish wake for Roller's career.

Van tugs at his sash a little as he moves to squat down in front of Roller, "You made a mistake." He's putting that out there as table stakes, his words quiet, just meant for the ECO, "But it's the sort of thing anyone could have done. You're going to take your lumps, but I know you'll be back. And when you are, I'll be happy to fly with you. I know you'll have everything on the checklist double-checked. So you'll be the safest person in the Fleet to fly with."

When told to be at ease, Kell shifts into the slight more relaxed posture rather easily and in more practiced position than most. Perhaps his judgement is now being shared on a more personal nature than announced like what happened to Roller. However, when the Ensign is being told that he is being placed in charge of a major revision in current SOP, the young pilot can't help but blink, a brief moment of confusion obvious. It is when Ryan calls over Evangeline does it give Kell a chance to collect himself.

Ryan motions to Kell. "I've spoken to the CAG and have put Ensign Draygo here in charge of revising the pre-flight procedures and checklists for our taskforce comms." He really should've called over Eva first so he didn't have to repeat himself. "I want him to have a report to you with suggestions by the end of next week and you can work with him on revisions. I think it would also be good to start some brainstorming among the squadron about how else we can get around the flakey transponders, like Lieutenant Carrington's idea with the lights. That trick won't work forever, though. We need something else up our sleeve." He gives Kell an even look. "We can't change the past, but we're going to make damn sure this doesn't happen again."

"Anyone didn't do it, Milkman. I did," Roller says, heaving a sigh. He nods to Van though. "But thanks."

"Lieutenant Alexandria Kalivas, Drake. I guess we probably will be. And I am pretty good on checklists, we should be able to work it out." Alex shakes Tucker's hand, nodding as she does. She shakes Eva's hand in turn. "Brand new to the pack. Just got here, pretty much right now. And we get the circumstances we're given. Up to us to make them work out."

It seems the newest ECO can't help that thoughtful expression, like she's turning everything over in her mind before deciding how to respond to it, but it suits her pale blue eyes and mild manner, at least. "SOunds great. Ah... And enjoy your work, Lieutenant?" That last is called after Lt. Ford, whose dismissal doesn't seem to be enough to dampen Alexandria's spirits.

If Eva looks at all surprised, either that Ryan has assigned the Ensign to the task, or her to oversee him (for the record, that's a no to both), she doesn't allow it to show. Instead, she listens with engaged attention, already nodding, as though she were planning out the stages of the work before it begins. "I'll be sure to bring him all of our current procedures, as well as any procedures I can gather from th existing colonial navies, so that he has a good basis to start from. And I'll make myself available if he wishes to work out procedures on the fly, Sir." A twist of her lips, as she looks at Kell, "Nothing like being thrown in the deep-end feet first, Razor."

"I know. And I can't know how you're feeling now. I get that." Van nods once more, "But if you're going to prove that you've got the right stuff, you can't let this torpedo," yes, Picon still has torpedoes, it's a wet navy thing, "your career." He squeezes the other man's shoulder once, "Let me know when you're ready to get back to work." And then he's off, leaving the other man to stew, because he's not egotistical enough to think that one little pep talk is going to fix the situation.

"I'm just a Jay-Gee. Want me to call you sir?" Tucker asks with a grin, though he's probably older than most of the pilots of the wing. "I'm a late bloomer." he offers with a teasing lit as he waves over to Aubrey. "Hey, 'shee? You meet the new gal yet? Drake, Banshee, you're like a couple of Demigods and Depots."

The responsibility is a heavy one, an important one, Kell can easily grasp the magnitude of what is being assigned to him. When he looks towards Eva who joins him and Ryan, there is a look of partial relief and thanks that she will be there to perhaps herd him in the right direction if it is needed. When the Captain already has a plan on how the Ensign is to start this project, Kell nods his head, "Thank you Captain. I will be sure to review all of the documents you are able to provide me and thank you for your offer of assistance on this. I will most likely take you up on it."

Kell then turns his attention back to the Colonel, "I am definitely up to the task, sir." After those words are spoken though, there is a hesitation from the Ensign as if he is trying to decide whether to broach the subject that has been stuck on his mind. Since Ryan is here and the rest of the senior officers of the panels are not, he feels that it is safe enough to ask, "Sir... I understand that the verdict for Roller has been issued. What about what I did on the mission?" He can't believe that killing a fellow friendly pilot is just being swept aside rather easily.

Aubrey grins at Tucker and shakes her head, stepping back inside. "Nope, haven't met til now. Aubrey Naxos, but they mostly just call me Banshee. Viper Pilot." She tilts her head over at Tucker. "So what's the plan? We can't all just go around doing nothing after this, we all need something to break the tension and shake it off."

Roller frowns up at the departing Van. He does get up, but not to get back to work. He heads out of the room.

Calliope grins to Alex. "Well, welcome. I am always glad to meet more bears. You keep us honest." Side look at Roller. "Well, mostly." She allows herself to look a little sympathetic. That's rough, right there. "Anyway, my callsign's Soundbite." She can say it without making a face now. "Sorry you aren't seeing us at our best. But the CAG really came through for us up there." She can't quite keep the surprise out of her tone.

"Soundbite you know Banshee as well, right?" Come on, Tucker can't be the only man that knows her on the boat. However, when Roller leaves, the pilot considers. "Excuse me, ladies." he offers, as he goes over to Roller. "Come on. I ain't had a drink to Grasshopper yet, and my girlfriend's got medical duty. Come have a beer with me. I need to drink down my supply before the Colonel gets me that Ambrosia." he smiles a little. The offer is made simply because he's not going to let Roller be alone tonight. He's seen too many folks get some shit dumped on them like this and then put a gun to their head to end it. Instead, he'll get him drunk off his rocker, and let him sleep it off in the morning to start the first day of the rest of his life.

Ryan nods to Eva. It's not a day for smiles, but there's a ghost of one briefly for the Captain. "Excellent. I trust you both to get it done." Kell's latter question causes the Colonel's eyebrows to arch. "What about it, Ensign? You heard the testimony. You followed an order from your flight leader to engage. That order was based on another pilot's mistake. It's a hell of a thing to live with, son, but it wasn't your fault. Work with Captain Thorne. I look forward to seeing that report." He nods to them both and seems about to take his leave unless they had something else for him.

And now Van returns to the group of pilots, offering nods to the old hands and then offering out his hand to Alex, "Lieutenant Van Newton. Vipers. Welcome to the Vanguard. Although I'm sure that you've already been well-welcomed by now."

No, not a day for smiles. But also, that faint one for the Colonel. And a look of sympathy for Kell, "Mace," she uses the Colonel's callsign, as if to subtly emphasis his years of experience in conditions very much like these, "is speaking from experience. This is war. People die in war. Sometimes they're the enemy, sometimes they're innocent. A lot of the time, your kew fire doesn't know or care about the difference, when the orders come down. You deal with the aftermath, and you get back in the saddle and do the job the next time your number gets called." A shake of her head, "It seems cruel, and hardless, but you'll eat yourself up if you don't find a way to wrap your head around it."

The Colonel's explanation is straightforward and completely logical, facts laid out and the path to that conclusion easy to follow. However, Kell just feels like it is almost too easy. Then after Ryan leaves them, the Ensign shifts his attention to Eva who helps with the explanation. It does help the rookie understand and accept the judgement a little easier, as if the fog is clearing but only a little bit for now. It will take time, that is for sure. "Thank you, Captain, and you are right, it does seem cruel. To be able to excuse something tragic like this because of war." There is a breath taken and a slow exhale before Kell continues, "But you are right, and I guess that is one reason why the Colonel is putting this... project on my shoulders. To force me to move on."

Ryan gives Eva another nod, a hint of gratitude in his gaze. He sees Tucker leading Roller off and gives the Raptor pilot an approving nod. "See that he reports to my office at 0800, Flats," he calls over, placing the reamed ECO into his care for the evening.

"Alex is fine. Or Nyx," the newest redhead offers helpfully to Tucker, a smile slowly blossoming on that quietly serious face as she does. The young woman looks up as names are called. Banshee, hmm? That earns Aubrey a smile and then Alex turns slightly to orient herself properly onto Calliope, nodding."WDoes seem like they went to bat. I really didn't catch a lot of what's been happening of course, but..." A slow breath follows and then Alex exhales briefly. "Pleased to meet you. ALl of you. I'm looking forward to seeing how you all fly in person? Reports are pretty dry reading." Alex talks like someone who probably read the reports. Possibly all of them.

Eva nods, settling in for the conversation, seeming intent on staying as long as the Ensign needs her, "I'm from Hibernia, Virgon, Ensign," in case he didn't know. Not everyone does, though her Celtan features and thick miner's accent usually is a dead giveaway. "I remember the first time I got the order to take out an enemy target...and when I looked at the target I saw it was a camp not far from the summer mine my father worked. Friends, people that I had known, lived with. I...I nearly refused the order. I would have done anything to get away from it. Anything to not have to kill a friend." She doesn't bother to say how that turned out. She's still here, still flying, "Where are you headed?"

Calliope flashes Aubrey a quick grin as well. "I think I need to hit the showers for awhile. This was intense. I'll catch up with you guys later, though." With that, she takes her leave of the inquiry room. She needs to go shed her dress uniform somewhere.

Webb wanders over to the group around Alex. "Giving Kalivas a proper welcome, I hope." He would have met her in brief passing earlier when she first reported o the squadron.

"There are always holoband sims if the deck crew is still busy repairing damage from Canceron." Van clasps his hands behind his back, giving Calliope a nod as the Raptor pilot excuses herself. Webb's arrival draws him up a little more, nodding a bit more formally, "Sir." There's a moment of hesitation, and then he adds simply, "Thank you. I know what you said was just the truth, but I appreciate, and I'm sure the rest of the squadron appreciates, you sticking your neck out for us, sir." For Kell, Roller, and the rest of that particularly mission really, but apparently that is enough of an 'us' for Van.

"I second Milkman, sir. It meant a lot," Aubrey agrees, giving Webb a smile for his efforts.

When Eva share that she is from Hibenia and her tale of what she had to do in the Virgon Armed Forces, Kell can't help but wince in sympathy for what she had to go through. "I'm sorry to hear that you had to be placed in a situation like that, Captain. I'm from Libran so I've been lucky enough to avoid anything like that." He also managed to miss any dealings with Cylon until he transferred to the Vanguard. As for where he is headed, the Ensign runs a hand through his hair, "I'm not sure, I wasn't expecting the inquiry to end this quickly... or the way it did." It's obvious that Razor did not plan for free time after the inquiry, "I may head back to the Vanguard and grab some rest so I can focus on the project that has just been assigned to me in the morning."

Webb shrugs off the thanks. "Just telling the truth. Hell, if I hadn't had shit aim that day, it'd been me bringing down that Canceron flier, not Draygo." He frowns at that. Wishing he could've spared the Ensign the drama, or honestly upset that the rookie outperformed him. Or maybe both. "They were looking for a frakking scapegoat. Least the Colonel kept Roller from the worst of it."

Calliope does pause, on her way out, to look back at Webb. "Thirded. Or, err, however many it is by now, sir. That was really well said. A lot more eloquent than I managed to be." Weak laugh.

"Get some rest if you need to, Razor, but make sure you give yourself some down time, as well. You want to retreat, I know, try to see how you go on from this. try to wrap your head around the fact that you did something terrible...you expected to be punished for it, you feel you should be...and then all of a sudden...you're not. So you might be inclined to stew in it. My advice? Don't. Even if you have to force yourself, or get someone else to do it."

Van nods his agreement with Webb, glancing over to Aubrey and then back to the CAG, "Absolutely. And your testimony put you right in their crosshairs, sir." And then he sets the thanks aside, "The court's leniency, no matter how well-founded I think it is, won't do Canceron-Colonial relations any good, however." A point which is well above his pay-grade. "Not that I can think of anything we can do to make it better at this point."

"No, I reckon it won't," Webb agrees grimly with Van. He frowns a bit, then says, "Newton, a word?" A word over there away from the others, if the little jerk of his head is any indication.

Kell certainly doesn't seem like the type to just go drink the memories of the day away and he nods at Eva's words, "I believe I will, should be able to sleep easier with the inquiry finally behind us." Lucky for Isolde and Lyn, there will be no more rehearsing either. "I will definitely force myself to move forward from this, probably give my parents a call as well to let them know." Chances are, they already know as both are somewhat significant in the Libran military senior ranks. "I'll make sure to get myself sorted and get this project done. Again, thank you for your help on this, Captain. I know I will need it."

Aubrey slinks off to go find some booze for the aftermath. And to get out of the starchy new dress uniform because ugh!

Van stiffens a little at Webb's frowning request, but nods, "Of course, sir." He offers nods to Aubrey and Alex, and then moves to follow the CAG off a distance away. When the other man stops, Van lifts his eyebrows, an expression of open waiting.

Eva nods, no smile, but she seems to be genuinely concerned and open to the Ensign's words, "I will be here in whatever capacity you need. I'm not difficult to miss, and if you can't find me, Farm Boy or Soundbite can usually be trusted to know how to rattle my cage." Mostly, though, Eva stays closer to home. "I'll leave you to your evening. And call your parents, whether they know or not. You'll be glad of the sound of a friendly voice.

Webb walks to a corner of the room near where the panel was. He folds his arms, voice low. "Look, I don't know what sort of deal Kallas had before I got here, but your girl needs to get her shit squared away before the next trial. We're under a microscope now. How's it gonna look if we have pilots out there who can't even pass their basics?"

That open look fades away into something far more stony-faced at Webb's words, but Van nods, "She'll pass, sir. So will everyone else. We're not going to let our squadron-mates fall behind." There might even be a little sharpness to that last statement. "She can clearly cut it in combat though. As I recall, she's only three kills behind you, sir. Without flight school, and as an ECO." He probably shouldn't have said that.

Stone face meets cold hard face at Van's sharp reply. "Put another way - in about a month's worth of air combat I've doubled the number of kills she's gotten in six. Let's not even count the pack of tallies I got in the two years before that. That wouldn't be rightly sporting," Webb says in a cold deadpan. "But since you're so keen on not letting your squadron-mates fall behind, thanks for volunteering to train them up. Sure you've got some free rotations to spare."

"Four and change, sir. But yes. Because you're a veteran pilot. She'll pass the quals, sir." Van lets just a hint of a tight smile touch the corner of his lips, "If you'll recall, sir, I already volunteered for that job." Out in space, immediately after the runs. "I'm happy to make it part of my duties as well as dedicating off-duty time, sir. Thank you."

"Good then. Because now it's your responsibility. Carry on, Leftenant," he says with a clipped voice, then Webb turns to go.

Van draws himself up to attention, snapping off a precise Picon salute, palm-out, "Yes sir." He lets Webb be the one to depart, because both of them stalking off at the same time in the same general direction (the door) would be exceedingly awkward.


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