Ryan checks in with Van about the status of things in the squadron.
Location: Ready Room
Related Scenes: None
Scene Number: 1079
Van has been spending a good deal of his free time in the Ready Room, either with other pilots or studying himself in order to help them better. A cigarette smolders between his fingers as he leans forward in one of the front-row chairs, watching gun-cam footage of the qualifying runs on the screen at the front of the room. A good inch of ash lingers at the end of the cigarette, dangling precariously over the built-in ashtray on the arm of the chair.
"Now there's a man intent on his work," Ryan observes as he makes his way into the ready room. "May want to either put that out or actually smoke it. No sense wasting a good cigarette."
Van looks up in surprise as the CO walks in, starting to rise to his feet, and then looking down to the cigarette he completely forgot about. Luckily, the ash tumbled into the ashtray when he started to stand, but he turns it over ember-down in the ash's wake and then continues his way to his feet, "No sir." A faint, dry smile touches his lips, "I have to admit that I got rather distracted. Just studying up to help those who missed their quals the first time around. Although I suppose I should set that aside and get back to watching combat footage soon." It's not a fishing expedition for any information, just a simple reminder to himself that there's a war going on.
"Oh I don't know..." Ryan gestures towards the screens. "Seems like time well spent to me. What do you think?" He comes over to stand near the screens.
Van nods slowly, "If I can help get them through the quals, it will definitely be time well spent." Looking back to the screen, the younger Picon frowns thoughtfully for a moment, "I think that one of us probably should have gone over flight and gunnery records before the quals, sir." By his tone, Van actually includes himself in 'us,' rather than trying to put any blame anywhere, "Because I think that failing them did a number on Izzy..." he grimaces a little and corrects himself, "...on Pi and Ringer. I haven't spoken to Soundbite about it yet. But they've all proven themselves in combat, and this..." he gestures toward the screen, "...this damaged their confidence."
Ryan presses his lips together in consideration of that suggestion. "You think you would've found anything in the records of three pilots who between them half a couple dozen successful combat missions and a dozen kills that would've made a difference?"
"No sir, I don't." Van shrugs more than a little helplessly, "But I wish I had tried. Because we need them confident out there, especially after Roller's mistake came out." He looks down at the desk he claimed a moment, then tightens his lips and adds, "I'm worried that what we gained from actually taking it to the Toasters for once -- and that did feel good, sir -- we lost again afterwards. Or at least some of us did."
"Confidence is a hard thing to get back when it's been shaken," Ryan agrees with a somber frown. "But, on the flip side - I'd venture that a pilot who can't bounce back after missing some targets in a test is gonna have a pretty hard time weathering the real thing. But I know you know a thing or two about bouncing back, after Triton." The colonel's expression is grim there when their homeworld's mentioned. "Anything beyond R&R you think can be done for morale?"
Van nods slow agreement with the CO's words, although the mention of Triton leaves him flexing his right leg a little, as if he still has to test the limb now and then. "It wasn't easy. And it took me a lot longer than any of our pilots have." If, indeed, he has fully bounced back. But then there's another question, and he frowns thoughtfully, "I don't know, sir. It's not necessarily about the quals, but some of the new pilots could use a little personal touch now and then. A reminder that other people have been where they are now, and have gotten through it. I've been touching base when I can, after a first dogfight, or after they get shot up, but I don't know that anyone else has been able to." He... definitely doesn't know what everyone in the squadron has been doing. "I don't think that anyone talked to Razor after the friendly fire incident for the better part of a day, for instance."
"Well, that's what senior pilots are for," Ryan says vaguely, though whether that's an admonishment of the senior pilots or a compliment to Van is open to interpretation. The comment about Kell gets an arched eyebrow. "Spider didn't follow up with him? They were on the same mission."
"Not at the time I spoke with him, sir, the day after the mission." Van shakes his head, pressing his lips together a little in distaste -- either of the CAG or of ratting him out. Drawing in a slow breath through his nose, he shrugs a little helplessly, "I assume there was an official debrief of some sort, but nothing beyond that."
"I see. Well, it's good that you're looking out for the younger pilots. I know Cherry is helping to make sure Razor stays grounded." He catches the phrase and smirks. "In the figurative sense. I hear the squad's still pretty shaken up about Twinkle-Toes."
Van chuckles at the unintentional pun, evidently honest amusement rather than sucking up. "Good, because he's too good a wingman to be laid up on deck." The humor leeches out of the younger pilot at the mention of Twinkle-Toes, "I don't know if it's just Twinkle-Toes, sir. But we've been taking some hits recently, sir. Maybe no more than other squadrons, but Twinkle-Toes, plus Grasshopper, Digger and Whammo, Rush and Agony... plus the friendly fire incident and Farm Boy getting shot up? I think we're just a little bruised. Morale-wise. I don't know what the solution is though, besides taking it to the Toasters again."
"All good people," Ryan agrees somberly. "But as you say - that's the damnable part of war. Doubly ironic since it's exactly what the Cylons were meant to prevent. Revenge only goes so far, though. In my experience, the way a squad gets through the tough times is by pulling each other through. I know it's been tough, with everyone coming from different colonies and units, but how do you think the wolves are faring there?"
Van nods his distinct agreement at the first part, although he looks less sure about revenge not being the solution. Still, there's a serious question there, and he considers it with a thoughtful frown, "I think that Smackdown put together a good team, sir. There was some conflict early on, and I know some of us still have our little annoyances with this person or that, but I think the squadron was forged strong, sir." He carefully goes back over his words in his head, and then nods, "I think that those of us who have been with the squadron a while have pretty much gotten past Colonial differences. We're all Wolves now."
"Smackdown did a great job," Ryan agrees readily. But he considers what Van has said - and also what he hasn't said - and prompts. "What about the new arrivals? The squadron's changed a lot since it was the Wolfpack."
Now Van is slipping down a dangerous -- at least to him -- road, and his answers come more slowly, more carefully, "That has been a lot of turnover," he agrees. "And there have been some difficulties fitting into the culture that Smackdown encouraged. On the other hand, several of the new pilots have slipped in like a porpoise down a water slide. It's great to see Hammerhead again, for instance. Razor and Banshee seem to be fitting in quite well too." He pauses, then adds, "I have to admit I haven't gotten to spend much time around some of the new pilots, but I'm hoping to be able to at least sit down with them for a few minutes before our next job."
Ryan presses his lips together. "I see. Well, keep up the work with the other pilots. And just in general. I should let you get back to it. Thank you for your time, Lieutenant."
Van nods again, sharply, "Of course sir." There's a moment's pause, then he adds, "And thank you, sir. For checking in."