2237-06-07 - Lonely Planets

Erin spots Calliope an apple. They talk about their war-torn homes. Katja drops in for coffee.

Date: 2237-06-07

Location: Mess Hall - Vanguard

Related Scenes: None

Plot: None

Scene Number: 1102

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Well, it's later in the day. The cafeteria is mostly shut down, with a skeleton crew working to clean up the dishes and get set for the next day's round of meals. That makes it a good place to have a snack, a quick drink, or maybe settle in and enjoy a good book. Erin? Is doing the latter. And a bit of the first.

She sits at a table by the door, in a little corner nook that seems perfect for hiding in and people-watching. Actually, it's the best place for it. There, she reads a large book that rests in her lap, her feet up on a neighboring chair, boots off. In her hands -- both -- she cradles a peeled apple, which she munches on slowly and patiently, its flesh turning a light brown in the oxidizing air of the Vanguard.

Quiet? Comfortable? Let alone? What a perfect place for a reader.

"Oh my gods! Am I too late? Is there food!?" Calliope yelps this, to no one and everyone, as she comes running in. She's still in her flight suit and looks sweaty and drained in that way that sitting in a cockpit for hours of combat air patrol will do to one. There's always some food, and a gruff mess hall rating directs her to the sandwiches still out. It's kind of a sad processed turkey sandwich and cup of juice she finds for herself, but it is food.

The staff look at Calliope and roll their eyes. Of course there's food; the question is its quality.

Calliope's sudden appearance does catch Erin's attention, though. She watches as the pilot scrambles -- literally -- and gets what's left. Which is sort of sad. "Hey." Erin gestures vaguely from where she sits. "Hey."

And, like some miraculous angel from the Food Gods, the Marine calmly produces a fresh, shiny apple. From her tray. "You can have this, if you want." Beat. "It's still good. Fresh. Want me to peel it for you?" Fruit. Fruit is always good. If you like fruit.

"Hi!" Calliope pipes this at Erin after the 'Hey.' She apparently takes that, and the offer of the apple, as an invitation. Because she takes her sad sandwich over to join Erin's nook. "Seriously?" She beams at the fruit. "Thanks! You? Are awesome. I was going to eat before my shift, but then I sort of didn't, and we didn't land until like Zero Dark Frak Hour."

Erin's smile is small, but it's there. "You're welcome." She shifts in her seat, and straightens a little. "You want another one?" And, lo, she produces another one from a pocket. Like she steals them from the front when they are available, and keeps them with her in some mysterious parallel, chilled dimension. "I've got another. And this one." The nuded one she's eating.

She bites into her apple, and it delivers that satisfying snap and crunch that comes with a nice one. "Pilot, I'm guessing?" That would be the reason she's wearing a flightsuit. "I'm Hayes. Marine." She's dressing the part, so that makes sense. "Have we met?"

"Whoa, did you smuggle a tree aboard or something?" Calliope asks. Biting and chewing the apple as she does, so her words are rather muffled. She apparently doesn't require it peeled. "Nah. I think this'll be good. It'll be, like, a buffer for the sandwich." As for the pilot thing, she nods her blonde head. "Probably. There are, like, tons of people crammed into the berthing. And I fly Raptors, so Marines sometimes get crammed into those, too. But I don't think we've met, like, people. Calliope Drake. Lieutenant, junior grade. Callsign Soundbite. I think that's all my names. Hi." Smile, after she swallows.

Blink. There's a presumption that Calliope talks fast. If so, Erin takes a moment to track all of the words, line them up, and fill in the inaudible gaps.

"Erin Hayes. Corporal." Another blink. "I don't think we've met. I've seen you, but I don't think we've met." The Marine straightens up a little more. "Actually, the trick is -- with the apples -- " She lifts an eyebrow. " -- you wait. You get in line towards the end, and take one. Then, get back in line, take another. As people are departing, anyone that has one left, ask for it. Then you get whatever's left as the lunch line is about to close." Basically, hoard.

Another smile appears. Erin's eyes twinkle with a light of mischief. "How'd you get the name Soundbite?" Beat. "That is, how do you think you got that callsign?"

Calliope does talk fast, with a tendency to ramble as if not terribly sure where all her words are going. She just chews and absorbs Erin's wisdom about apple acquisition, though. Nodding along. Thoughtful swallow, and gulp of juice. "Nice. I'll try that tomorrow at breakfast. Or lunch. Whatever it is, when I'm up for it. Beats getting stuck with these if you miss the kind-of-good food hours." She nibbles on her sandwich. It looks somehow sadder, now that she's maligned it. As for her callsign, she snorts. "I kind of didn't yell 'no comment' at a reporter on Canceron fast enough, and I accidentally go interviewed. Nothing wounded but my dignity, though."

"Yeah." Beat. "I get that." Another beat. "They call me Chilly. Guess I'm a bit of a bitch or something, I don't know." Erin doesn't seem like one, but appearances can be deceiving. She probably can muster an attitude if she wanted.

"Where're you from? I'm from Aquaria." A few new Aquarians have come on board recently too. Almost as if they don't have anywhere to go. Which is sort of true.

"Chilly?" Calliope considers it. "I mean, you're one of the nicer bitches I've met, if that's it. Trust me. I went to private school. I know from bitches. None of them ever gave me an apple. I'm from Caprica City. Flew civilian ships - cruise liners and some transport craft - before the war. I did a run for awhile to Aquaria and back. We used to contract with a company that ran ski tours out there. Didn't get to spend as much time outside the spaceport as I would've liked, but the parts I saw were gorgeous."

Erin grins at the end of Calliope's explanation, and it's like the sun coming up. "So, you were flying before the war." Beat. "I've never been to Caprica City. I mean, I'd never been off-planet until -- well, until the militia was joined up with the Libran forces. Our military was, understandably, fractured when -- I mean, after the Cylons bombed Heim into -- " Shrug. " -- rubble. So -- "

She clears her throat.

"I mean, that sounds exciting." Erin's tone becomes a little guarded after. She takes a bite from her apple, and then wipes a hand clean on a napkin. "What was it like, um -- you know, growing up in the city? I only -- " Gulp." " -- only saw bits on vids."

"Yeah. My dad was a pilot for a civvie spaceliner. I got my license to fly in atmo when I was sixteen. Did my hyperlight qualification after college," Calliope says, between gnawing on her apple. "But there's flying and then there's flying. I never even thought about joining the military before...well, everything." The robot uprising and destruction of their homeworlds thing. "I'm still not the best at the blowing things up part of it. I'm trying, though. Blowing toasters up is motivating." As for Cap City, she quiets for a beat, as she thinks on how to answer that. "It was...huge. In good and bad ways. The downtown with all the clubs, and the rich parts of town, are a lot like what you see in the vids. Nothing ever seemed to stop. It was exhausting. And kind of awesome, sometimes. But there were more, like, normal parts of the city. Like the South Side, where my mom still lives. It was just...kind of dirty and run-down. Especially after everybody started using Cylons for cheap jobs. Funny thing. It's about the only part of Cap City that's still in good shape. Nobody in mom's complex had a Cylon butler." She winces.

Erin listens. By the heavens, she's a listener. It's good because, if she were a talker, the conversation would go nowhere, right? Or they'd be talking over each other.

But, no. Erin's a listener. And she listens so well, nodding her head from time to time, keeping eye contact, occasionally taking a bite from her hair, touching her hair gently every now and again as if anxious. She smiles while she listens, just a little and just enough to indicate that she's not bored.

"My life seems to be the exact opposite." Beat. "I grew up in an enclosure. My parents were scientists. I spent months on a glacier, only coming to Heim for vacation once a year. We had to have supplies flown in weekly, we were so far from civilization. The enclosure was on a glacier." Another beat. "And I lived that way until I went to college. You can imagine how much of a shock that was."

Calliope rambles even faster as she talks about home. It's a lot of words that she doesn't put together easily in a coherent fashion. She seems spent, and relieved to quiet, as Erin talks of Aquaria a little. Smile pulling at her lips. "That sounds pretty. And lonely. But. Well. Cap City could be lonely, too. In a weird way. You're packed in with millions of other people, but you kind of just exist in your own little bubble that bumps into them without touching most of the time. I used to go to this club down the street from my condo, when I was actually back on planet to sleep there, and dance for hours without talking to anybody." Head tilts at Erin, like she's studying her from another angle. "What'd you study? In college."

"Um." Erin blinks, and then looks at her book. Large book. "Oh." She holds it out. "I'm just -- " Wait, that wasn't the question. " -- I was -- I studied, um -- " And then, she drops her book. And her apple gets tossed onto her plate, all at the same time. " -- frak."

The Marine takes a moment to gather her shit. GATHER HER SHIT TOGETHER. When she's back up on her chair, she looks a tad mortified about seeming clumsy. "I'm sorry, I -- " Cough. " -- I studied sciences. Physical sciences. Hard sciences. Like -- you know, chemistry, physics." Beat. "I was studying to become a geologist or planetary physicist. My, um -- my mother was a limnologist, and my father was a geomorphologist." Quite a pedigree. Would explain why she was on that glacier.

"I, ah -- didn't really dance much in college."

Calliope looks down at Erin's book, then up at Erin, blinking. Like she's afraid she's said something wrong. She just blinks like that for a second, lamely. "Uh." She shrugs. It's an apologetic gesture. "That's cool. I mean, it's harder than what I could've done. I was a physics major for, like, ten seconds. But my grades were, uh, not good. So I kind of switched around for awhile. My degree is in Business Administration. Which I wasn't great at, either, but I didn't fail out. I didn't really care about what I was studying. I just wanted to get out and fly full-time." Sheepish smile. "And I spent too much time dancing, probably."

"Put it this way." Beat. "I understand the mechanics of flight and space flight. I know the science behind how this ship works. But you? You get to actually fly. You make us soar." Snicker. "Meanwhile, without you? Without pilots? I get to walk everywhere. So -- " Shrug. " -- dance or no dance, study or no study, the fact is that you -- you get us into and out of trouble." Another beat. "I just sneak around and shoot evil robots. Fat lot of good my graduate degree helps with that."

Erin finds this a bit funny. Okay, she finds it very funny. She laughs a raucous sort of laugh, and claps her hands together a couple of times. "I'm sorry. I just -- " Find it kind of funny. Find it kind of strange. " -- I wish I knew how to dance."

Calliope laughs. But it's a merry sound, rather than mocking. "I mean, I can teach you, if we ever get somewhere we've got shore leave again. Picon sounds like it's going to be kind of short on clubbing time. I'm not great or anything, but I can bounce. It's fun. You can just kind of get carried away on the bass and not care about anything but a little while. Anyway, I think you guys have the harder job. I was stranded on the ground for a little while, down on Canceron. At least in my ship, I feel like I'm kind of in control. Having to see the faces of the toasters when you're shooting them is something else. I will totally get you guys out of trouble anytime I can."

"Well, good. Good. I mean -- " Erin makes a snorting noise. " -- nothing's worse than just waiting for the pick-up. Never sure what'll happen."

Pause.

"I guess -- I mean, it was, back then, just that I wasn't really that confident. I mean, confident enough to dance." Erin strokes a hand through her hair. "My girlfriend loved to dance, and she always wanted me to go with her, but I just -- " Shrug. " -- you know, when you don't have it -- that confidence -- you just -- you feel awkward. I felt awkward." Beat. "It was weird. And I -- " Another shrug.

Calliope shakes her head. "I mean, I get awkward. I felt it in classes, mostly. And at the stupid parties at my dad's house I had to go to sometimes. Like I wanted to be anybody else but me. The more physical stuff I always just...sucked at less, I guess. Helps if you don't feel like you're making a total idiot of yourself." She smiles a little when Erin talks about her girlfriend. She seems tempted to ask more. But, then, she doesn't. "I used to know some good bars by the spaceport in Queenstown, but they're probably all bombed out now. Whatever. When we take back the planet, we can totally party wherever." She tries to sound confident. She can't quite manage the necessary level of obliviousness. But she smiles at the thought, at least.

Confidence in success is hard to have in a war when so many people have been lost. Erin nods in agreement, but doesn't share the same words. "Yeah. Well -- " She gestures at Calliope. " -- if that does happen -- if we do have a place to dance at -- I'll just -- " Shrug. " -- I don't know, sit and watch, have a few too many drinks, and probably make an ass out of myself." Because she's done that.

"And, like, I guess I know what it feels like to want to be someone else." That's all she has to say about that.

For Katja: Erin's in her usual corner table, sitting on a chair with her feet out of her boots, a book on the table, an apple in her hands, and someone else to talk with. Calliope! Thankfully, Erin's a fan of fruit and not pasta -- otherwise, she'd probably be packing on the pounds.

Calliope has made short work of the apple she bummed off Erin. She still nibbles at the remaining bits of it, around the core. She sandwich is lingering longer on her plate. It's one of those sad processed turkey ones that's probably been around all day, and tends to only get scrounged during odd hours. She's eating it, though. She needs protein. She's still in her flight suit, blonde hair in a sweaty ponytail. She looks like she just came off duty not long ago. "We're all somebody else now, I guess," she notes, half to Erin and half to herself. "But, yes! We will totally drink on Picon! I'm glad we're finally about to get into it. Even if it sounds really frakked up. The waiting kind of makes me twitch."

Katja arrives in a pair of BDUs and her tanks. This time she sneaks a peek at Erin's corner spot before she heads to the coffee station. Snagging a stir stick early, she holds it between her lips as she checks to find some coffee that's still hot and starts loading the cup up with sugar and cream. Then she turns to head straight over towards Erin and Calliope. "Warning. Incoming," as if to semi-politely signal her arrival at least for privacy's sake. She flops bonelessly into a seat near the other two and then looks around to see if she's welcome.

Erin makes a face at Katja. "The frak?" She pats the seat next to her. "Really." Beat. "Madsen, this is Drake. Drake, Madsen. You two are both flight jockeys." They probably know this. "I was just saying that Drake must show me how to dance because I'm probably terrible at it." Probably, although enough alcohol might change that.

"I guess now, like -- I feel better about who I am, though. More confident." Shrug. "Come with surviving a few deployments and about two dozen ground missions or so. Getting shot at. And hit." Erin snickers. "Bleeding. It always helps put things into perspective." And then, she turns her attention to Katja, and says to her, almost warmly, "Hi." Definitely familiarly.

"Hi, Deathwish," Calliope pipes to the other pilot with a quick smile. She's welcoming enough. She seems to have decided this is the cool table for the evening. A chuckle and nod, at what Erin says. "Yeah. I was speculating about clubbing possibilities on Picon. After we liberate it, of course." Even as she says it, she seems to know it's a pipe dream. But she tries to sound positive. A little nod, at that last Erin says. "I know what you mean. I feel like...I can hack this, kind of. I liked the flying part of taking liners from colony to colony, but it felt kind of...aimless. I know I'm doing something real now, you know?"

Katja doesn't seem fazed by Erin's look, but does squint briefly at the seat Erin pats as if trying to determine what that distance means for her own laziness. After a beat or two, she pushes up and steps to slide into the seat, a drop of her coffee jumping up from the edge at the impact to dot her outer tank, nothing dramatic. She nods with a small smile in return to Calliope's greeting. "Dancing? Yeah that definitely requires alcohol." Her accent is definitely some variation from Aquaria. "Hi," she returns with a warm lightness that picks up more in her tone and her eyes. "You piloted liners? Or did you do some other job on them?" Katja asks as she turns her attention back towards Calliope.

Nothing to add for the moment, Erin shifts in her seat so that the circle is complete. That is, no one's twisting their head about to talk or anything like that. "Someone told me I should've been a doctor or something, because I was a scientist. But, no, I wanted to be at the front. I wanted to fight and shoot and all of that." And, so, apparently, she went into the Marines. Sort of an odd choice.

Katja's asked her question, so Erin turns her attention to Calliope again. And listens and watches, like before.

Calliope sounds very much like the Caprica City girl she is. To Katja, she nods. "Yeah. I flew them. Cruise ships, luxury transports, stuff rich tourists liked to fly on. It was big business on Caprica, before everything fell apart. Wasn't exactly great for shooting stuff experience, but I knew how to fly. So they slapped me in the pilot's corps after I volunteered." She looks between the two of them. "Are you both from Aquaria? I was just telling Chilly, I used to fly folks on ski trips there sometimes. Didn't get a ton of hours away from the spaceport, but what I saw was really beautiful."

"You can be analytical and be a soldier. Probably a strong asset." Katja drops her stir stick into her coffee and starts to get it all good and mixed, sugars dissolved. "Interesting. So did you join up after the revolt then I'm guessing?" She glances sidelong to Erin for a moment at Calliope's question. "Yeah. Grew up on the outskirts of Heim. Dad was a fisherman. Mom was an ER nurse." Must have been some commuting going on. Maybe it was cheaper to live out there. "Yeah it's rather beautiful there. I miss it. Haven't been back in something like three years."

"Eh." The idea of being an analyst isn't really inspiring to Erin, apparently. "Science is what I am. Being a Marine is what I do." Shrug. "I've come to terms with that. I'm still coming to terms with, like, other things, but -- " Another shrug. " -- little things. Baby steps."

She tucks her hands, now empty, into her lap. And curls up a bit. Eyes look to the exit for a second, for whatever reason. Then, she returns to looking between Katja and Calliope. "Either of you want to try and, like -- I don't know -- watch a vid some time in the lounge?" Blinky.

Calliope's eyes light up at the offer to watch a vid, and she nods enthusiastically. Friends! "Yeah! Totally! I love the High Velocity movies. I mean, I've seen them like a dozen times since I came onboard, but the chase scenes are still awesome." They're the sort of 'unrealistic' effects sequences the pilots all mock ferociously, while rewinding them. "And I picked up a couple new ones for my digital files when I was on Scorpia. That'd be totally fun." To Katja, she shrugs. "I don't think I'm analytical enough to be a really good strategist. Not like Cherry or Milkman. But I can do what I'm ordered to do. And I'm into killing as many toasters as I can. Maybe that's worth something."

"No, I just mean that it's important to have a good head on your shoulders out in the field I'd imagine. Raw horsepower in things like being able to prioritize, creatively solve problems, analyze threats quickly, keep multiple factors in your head at once, and so on," Katja flourishes her free hand to indicate. She watches Erin curl up and eye the exit, but doesn't really react outwardly much at all. "Totally." Calliope's enthusiasm steals Katja's attention. She smiles softly. "Oh yeah. My strategy amounts to kill...and evade."

Pilots. Sheesh. It's hard to describe the feeling of shooting a robot in the face. Sort of hollow, really.

"How about tomorrow?" suggests Erin quietly. "I'll, ah -- I'll see if I can kick people off the vidscreen in the lounge, and then -- um, Soundbite, if you just want to grab a vid or something, and we can load it up. Watch." She draws a hand along her arm. "Figure it'd be a break from my usual reading and waiting to be called to the front."

With a bootless foot, Erin jabs gently at Katja, grins for a second, and then announces. "I have to head to sickbay. Get my arm looked at again." Her arm is only minimally bandaged. "Clean bill, though, after getting hit in the head. No damage there." Apparently. "So, tomorrow. Be there or be square." Totally lame way to close.

"Yeah, definitely!" Calliope says brightly to Erin. "I'm working a saner shift tomorrow. I hate covering the Zero Dark Thirty hours like this, but I owed somebody a favor. Anyway, I'll be around. Later. Good to meet, like people." She's mostly finished her sandwich now. Uninspiring as the protein intake was. A nod to Katja. "Yeah. I get that. Fly fast and bomb as well as you can."

Katja lifts her coffee for a sip as she listens to the other two talk about times and such. She looks up at Erin out of her stare after the woman jabs at her. "Good. It's always good not to die of sepsis or a brain hemorrhage right? Alright. Yeah. I'll come." Katja reaches up to rake her fingers through her hair, away from her eyes. "Oh yeah, I should check the schedule, but I'm pretty sure I can make it."

"Good." Erin tucks her feet back into her boots, but doesn't bother lacing them. She puts her book under an arm, and then picks up her tray. "So good to finally meet you, Soundbite." To Calliope. "And good to see you too, Katja." A shuffle-boot-bump is delivered to the other Aquarian.

And then, the Marine shuffles off to put her tray away, and then head out of the Hall. Sickbay beckons, apparently.

Calliope chases the remnants of her sandwich with a swallow of juice. "I should hit my bunk, too, actually. Or the showers. I smell like four hours of cockpit. But I don't know if it's worth it to shower now or after I wake up." Shrug. She'll figure it out. "Anyway, I will totally not die of a brain hemorrhage before my next shift. Probably."

Katja tries to bump Erin's boot back, but it's already gone, so she doesn't bother with anything more. Instead she cavalierly watches the Marine move on to return her tray before those blue eyes swing back round to Calliope. "Shower now. Better for your skin and you won't have to wash your sheets because of it." As for the brain hemorrhaging, "Good luck with that." She smirks and just sticks to enjoying her coffee.


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