Ryan gives Isolde a pep talk and pries about squadron morale.
Location: Mess Hall
Related Scenes: None
Scene Number: 1078
Isolde has found a corner of the mess hall to occupy, poking around her neatly segregated plate of food, each organized by color. She is fiddling with her red portions, nudging together some watery radishes into some tomatoes without much eagerness to eat. This is perhaps because she is looking over the book that she scored during her unorthodox training to become an ECO, pouring over some old notes, trying to figure out what she missed. She knows she's trying to use a book to solve a problem that is entirely in the field, but she hopes there's something there. Anything.
Even commanders need to eat. And while Ryan certainly could eat at the table in his quarters, he does like to eat down in the mess now and again to stay in touch. He goes through the line, greeting people - by name when he remembers, which is most of the wolves. After getting a tray, he scans the mess hall and then zeroes in on Isolde's table. "This seat taken?" he asks with a grin.
Isolde doesn't immediately recognize the voice, but all she has to do is look up to realize that the Commander is standing there. The Commander is standing there, and he's asking if the seat she does not occupy is taken. She opens her mouth, closes it, and does this once more before she straightens up slightly and shakes her head. "No... I mean, no, sir." She gestures him to sit, carefully closing her book and setting down her fork.
Ryan smirks at her reaction. He's probably used to it. The CO sits without fanfare. "Nothing like a little light reading over dinner," he notes, gesturing toward her book.
"Oh, uh." Isolde looks down at her book, brushing her hand across the surface before she nods slightly. "It's... it's the book Van got me... when Kallas had me training on the Galactica. One of his flight school textbooks." She frowns slightly, mouth tight. "I just wanted to be... better prepared."
Ryan takes a bite out of his dinner roll. He chews and swallows politely before using the roll to point at her in an odd sort of finger-wagging gesture. "You're not going to fix your problem with books, Pi." He taps his temple. "You're overthinking it. I've seen your combat records. You've got three kills. I know you can shoot straight when it matters." He sips his water then asks, "Other pilots been helping you out?"
Isolde frowns, her eyes sliding off her book and up to the Commander. "But that isn't what matters, sir. Being a qualified is what matters." Then she looks down at her plate at his question. "No, sir." Then she pauses, looking up at the Commander. "I mean, us Ensigns are working together... Soundbite and Ringer." She works her jaw. "And I know that Newton is probably going to offer to help."
If Ryan's surprised that no one has followed through with the helping, he doesn't really show it. He just nods, another bite of the roll staving him off from having to comment. "You think a badge matters more than lives you save out in the field?" he challenges in a very mild tone.
Isolde looks thoughtful, brows furrowed slightly. "No." She says this carefully, slowly, as if really working through the entire thought. "I don't think so, but can't they both matter?" She rubs a bit at her jaw. "Sir, if there's one thing I've learned since joining the Air Wing, it's that everything matters." She frowns again. "I want everyone who I'm flying with to be certain I'm qualified to fly with them."
"Everything matters, Pi, but not everything matters equally." He starts cutting up whatever meat slab the mess hall gave him. "Take Roller for example. What do you think matters more - the one time he screwed up, or the hundreds of times he didn't? The hundreds more he could'a done if he'd stuck with it?" He makes a vague gesture with his fork. "Not saying the mistake doesn't matter. It's a hell of a thing to live with. But, perspective - it's important."
Isolde works her jaw a bit, letting her mind fiddle with that bit of advice. She looks up at him, watching him work through his food. "Sir... I don't understand. I mean," she hastily adds, "I do. I understand the perspective bit and how that's supposed to make me realize I'm actually useful to the Colonial Forces, and there should probably be a small shoulder chuck and some kind of atta-girls involved, but I don't understand." Her mouth tightens. "All I've ever observed and experienced in the Air Wing tells me that this all counts. Whether or not I make Ace, how many qualifier badges I have, how many hours I've clocked... no body keeps track of how many lives they save. That's not what's tracked on the board in the Ready Room is all about. It's about how... good you are. And if I'm not good, then won't you..." She frowns. "Won't you just transfer me back?"
Ryan presses his lips together, considering the question seriously. But it only gets a short response - at least for now. "How many kills you think I have, Pi?"
"I don't know." Isolde frowns as she looks at the Commander. "Are we talking just Colonial Forces, or your whole career? If it's your whole career, I'm gonna guess twelve, maybe thirteen... because, well, there's probably not a lot of real stuff Picon was doing before the Cylons. Unless you were with the peacekeeping force." She feels her cheeks warm a bit. "I haven't really studied your jacket, sir."
"Whole career," Ryan says. Then he holds up a hand with the fingers curled in an O shape. "Not a one. But I've saved a hell of a lot of lives. And I like to think I earn my keep around here." He gives an easy grin. "Perspective. Now there's nothing wrong with chasing badges or keeping an eye on the kill board in the ready room, long as you don't let that distract you from what's really important. If you can hit a fast-moving Cyper in the heat of combat, you can hit a bunch of stationary target buoys. If you can fly a half-wrecked Raptor out of a hot zone and land it with all souls safely, you can pass the piloting test."
Isolde looks up at him when he shares his kill count, and she blinks slightly. "But..." Her words taper off, leaving her staring at Ryan, a bit befuddled by this share. She twists her fingers together in her lap, squeezing them together several times before she finally starts to nod. She hesitates then. "Is that why you're giving me another chance?"
Ryan shakes his head, taking a bite out of his supper. "Nope. I'd give anyone another chance. Everyone's entitled to one bad day. Even the CAG." Who scored lower than about half the squadron even though he did decently. "But it's why I think you'll make it the second time around. Anyway - how're you holding up otherwise? Been a rough couple months for the squad."
Isolde spares herself from asking what happens when she has two bad days, even if it is the question that's been haunting her lately. She looks up a bit as the topic slightly changes. "Okay, I guess. I didn't fly all that much with Twinkle Toes, but I know a lot of the squad took that hard... and then the whole thing with the Cancerons, and Roller and Razor." She shrugs slightly. "Combine that with really lousy sleep, and I think we're all a bit toasty around the edges."
Ryan nods. "Well, much as I'd hope a little R&R can help smooth out the edges, that's something everyone's just got to deal with on their own. Soon as someone finds a magic bullet, I'll be first in line." He smirks then takes another bite. "Spider settling in all right? I know Smackdown left some pretty big shoes to fill."
"Oh, um." Isolde rubs slightly at the back of her neck. "Everyone really liked Kallas." She twists her lips a bit. "I mean, I owe him a lot." Then she thinks a bit harder on the actual question. "I know some people don't... like Spider. He's different, I guess. Personally, I like him. I think he'll do okay, but I don't think the squad has really accepted him as a whole. Yet."
"Why do you think that is? Just personality conflicts?" Ryan wonders, keeping his tone casual as he finishes off his meat and starts eating the vegetables that came with it.
"Well." Isolde thinks about that, worrying at her lower lip. "I think it's some of that, but... also I think there's some conflicts in just how he handles situations. I think he really likes getting people riled up, but his idea of riled up is kinda more making them angry at him." She quirks a smile a bit. "He doesn't really compliment people too often." Then she furrows her brow slightly. "Kinda reminds me of my dad." And if that doesn't require extra analysis, nothing does.
"Your dad?" Apparently Ryan is content to just go for the open-ended prompts and just listen to Isolde's thoughts, not offering much of his own on Spider.
"Um." Isolde frowns slightly. "My dad is -- was -- a Master Sergeant in the Marines. He wasn't really the best at, um, positive parenting." She is careful with her words, realizing plainly that she is still talking to her commanding officer and not venting to a friend. "He relied a lot on negative discipline, which I guess is what reminds me of Spider. There's no real, um, way to earn positive points. You're either at zero, or somewhere in the negative." She frowns. "But, I think they both did it for the same reason... they wanted results, and wanted results fast, and creating a positive environment takes a lot of time." She hesitates a bit. "And we don't exactly know how much of that resource we still have."
"Indeed, time is a luxury we don't have much of," Ryan agrees grimly. He finishes only about half of his vegetables before saying, "Well, it's been a pleasure talking with you, Pi. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts. Duty calls." He offers an apologetic smile.
"Oh, um. Thank you, sir. Has been nice talking to you, too." Isolde nods to him, resisting the urge to stand when he does, as that might be a bit odd. She remains carefully seated, with her book and half-eaten plate. She will give both a serious look, and then sigh as she grabs the book and starts to bus her own table, too.