2237-06-30 - Damn The Regulations!

A cadre of pilots get together to talk addiction, though cigarettes aren't the only topic under that banner.

Date: 2237-06-30

Location: Hangar Deck - //Vanguard//

Related Scenes: None

Plot: None

Scene Number: 1176

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Van is still looking a little pale, resisting the urge to go up to sickbay and get a nicotine patch. As he exits the Ready Room, he pulls the holobands from where they've been pushed up onto his forehead, closing them down and gathering them in his left hand, "Need a little more work on beating techniques." If that comment to himself isn't an invitation for a double-entendre...

"Alright," Comes a voice over the din of the hangar deck, "Try it now." There is the distinct noise of a Raptor trying its hardest to turn over with a chugging and a shuddering, that goes suddenly quiet. "Well," comes the self-same voice, easily identified as coming from the tall and aged gentleman that is standing on a spare engine, apparently to boost himself up to let him peer into some open part at the back of the offending Raptor, "Something's gone out of skew on the treddle... we're going to have to rip the whole counter-assembly out and start again."

Ford can be found somewhere in the hangar, eyes glued to a random Raptor stationed there, its pieces all around her as it waits for the mechanics to fix it. The blonde is in her uniform, as she usually is when seen by others, her medals and decorations firmly on her chest, and that golden ponytail doesn't leave one rogue strand of hair free. Lieutenant Ford looks meticulous and in control. Tonight, however, she doesn't seem so stern, deep in thought as she keeps her eyes fixed on the broken Raptor, just a small frown of confusion on her brow before Van walks in.

Immediately the blonde turns on her axis to stare at the man who looks like a ghost. An eyebrow arched, and leaning backwards, the woman doesn't say much, but her eyes speak of judgement over the shape the young man finds himself in. She does NOT approve, but nods nonetheless, trying to be personable and failing at it, somewhat. Johannes' voice erases that expression from her face, and now Ford becomes, well, Full Ford, stern and hard to read. She adresses Van, "You look like you need some sleep, or an injection. What is it?"

This is when Isolde pops in from the stairwells, zipping up her flightsuit as she does. Her dark hair is pulled back into a loose knot at the back of her neck with some of her longer forelocks fallen across her cheeks. She isn't meandering, but instead beelining toward the Raptors. She is so intent on her pathway she doesn't even notice anyone else until Van falls within her line of sight, and she slows just a bit. She squints at the pilot, but still makes it toward the Raptors. She catches Ford's question to Van as she nears. "He needs a cigarette," she says wryly.

Stepping back from his Raptor, hands now fully coated in grease and something vaguely brown, Johannes frowns and sucks his teeth, "Alright, we're gonna need... just go grab the whole kit. She's gonna be out for another day, I think." The tech from inside the Raptor pops out and toddles off to do whatever it is techs do when they're not being lambasted by pilots and thus the aged pilot joins his fellows in the knitting circle, "Eveni..." he frowns again and tugs his watch out from one of the pockets, "Morning. When did it get past midnight?"

Van looks over to the shuddering and chugging Raptor, shaking his head slowly. He doesn't have any medals or decorations on his blues, but at least he's in his blues. In fact, despite his paleness, they're actually creased and pressed. He starts to offer an answer, then just gestures over to Isolde, "Exactly that. And probably some sleep." When Johannes departs the Raptor, he lifts his brows slightly, "Captain Whyck, I presume? I don't believe we've managed to fly together yet." Looking back to Ford, he adds, "You either, sir. Van Newton. Vipers."

Ford looks skeptic as she is given the information Van needs his cigarettes, arching a brow and just looking at the man from head to toe twice over before she offers a hand, "Lieutenant Miranda Ford. Raptors. You trying to stop for a reason? Not sure this is the best place for rehab." The stern woman looks at Isolde, for whatever reason, like she is trying to make some connections between her and Van, before Johannes shows up.

The Leonis poster child straightens her back and nods at the man, not stammering or acting starstruck, but acting VERY formal, "Captain. Past midnight indeed, just over, but not by much." She doesn't relax after speaking, and looks at Van, waiting for an answer.

Isolde slouch-leans a bit, hand resting on her curved-out hip. "Cate already told you about the patches. Why are you torturing yourself?" Then she casts a dubious glance toward the Raptor that has earned Johannes's wrath. Oh good, it isn't Fifi. Her favorite Raptor still sits off to the side, a complete mystery to the deck crew, but certainly flyable. She starts to beam at Ford, all dimpled and cheerful in her earnest expression. "Hi. Ensign Isolde Asa, but they all call me Pi." She will offer out her hand once Van has finished shaking Ford's. Then she looks over to Johannes, and quirks a brow at the Raptor he's left. "Oof. The engines again?" She sinks her hands into the pockets of her flightsuit, and starts to rub at hte back of her right calf with the top of her left foot.

"I'd offer my hand," Johannes says with a slight uptick of his grey eyebrows, "But I'm afraid I'm about due to turn into a puddle of muck at any moment now." He settles his greased-up hands behind him, much like a military at-ease position without the shifting of feet, "Captain Johannes Whyck, as you've correctly surmised." He glances over his shoulder towards the offending Raptor and shakes his head slowly, "She took a round to the fuel line, turns out they like to bounce around under the plating to cause all kinds of mischief." The elder statesman turns his head ever so slightly to bring his gaze to bear upon Ford, "Ford... Ford. Your grandfather commanded the Excelsior as I recall. Brave man." He pauses as his cold, imperious gaze rakes over the younger pilot like a cadet on punishment detail, "We can but hope that your rigidity in posture does not reflect your tactical abilities, Lieutenant."

Facing now towards Van, the Captain arches his eyebrow, "Cigarettes are bad for one's health, of course. I would never advise smoking as a cure for any ill." He pauses and a glimmer of playfulness bursts into his eye and is quickly smothered as he jerks his head slightly towards where his off duty jacket hangs over the rung of a broken ladder, "Though if someone were to reach into one of the pockets on that jacket and find a packet, I wouldn't object overmuch."

Van shakes Ford's hand once, and thankfully, the shakes are past, so the clasp is firm. "Combination of personal and profession reasons." He shrugs at Isolde slightly, "Because I'm just about through it. From what I've read." He smiles just a touch, reaching out to pat her once on the arm, "If I backslide, I'll go get the patches, Izzy." He nods to Johannes' excuse for not shaking hands, nodding at his description of smoking, "It was a nervous habit I picked up at Triton." At the request from the Captain, Van hesitates, then visibly steels himself and steps over to the jacket, patting it down briefly to find the pack and then digging it out checking for a lighter or matchbook too. The paraphernalia are brought back to the elder pilot, and when Van holds them out to him, his hand does shake a little.

Although the blonde Raptor pilor from Leonis smiles at Van, it is a precise, polite smile that doesn't speak of much sincerity, but she was told being nice goes a long way with other colonies. "I hope you suceed," she adds, adding some positive reinforcement and hoping this is enough social interaction for tonight.

It isn't, however, as Isolde is all smiles and she keeps looking at Miranda. Ford can't stop looking back at Isolde as the woman stares at her with that... sunny attitude that is so anathema to the Leonid's behavior. How can someone be so cheerful?! Is she up to something? The blonde's frown deepens, so that the Universe remains in balance, and shakes Isolde's hand firmly, peering into those eyes as if she could find the reason for her friendly behavior. People always have a reason!

It is Johannes that gets the woman's attention one he speaks her name. That he knows the Ford name is obvious, but still, Miranda almost crack an unprofessional smile. She puffs her chest ever so slightly, the two expert medals on her being the small proof she is well on her way to make her lineage proud. "My grandfather was a very brave man. I would only hope to reach that level of success one day!" The excitement of finally finding someone she can have a Leonis Conversation (tm) with suddenly comes crashing down with criticism over her... rigidity?! Her blue eyes go WIDE for a second, and one can see the exact moment her heart turns to splinters. Frozen in place, the blonde mulls over the failure that is this encounter.

Utter failure. She wanted this to go better.

"My tactical abilities are just fine, Captain," she finally says, almost sounding defensive.

Isolde purses her lips, tilting her head to regard the Raptor. She then settles back onto both of her feet, and nods thoughtfully. "That'd do it. Means you gotta do some searchin' around to find the offender. Probably why it looks like the tech is gonna be spending a lot of time in the innards." When Johannes recognizes Ford's name, she glances back to the rigid Leonese woman with a half-tip of her head. Her dark eyes spark with curiosity, only to have the whole cigarette thing distract her once more. "Alright, if you say so. But, I'm gonna start smacking them on your arms at night if you get too twitchy." She watches him carefully when he fetches the Captain's cigarettes, as if waiting for a sign of a backslide. The shake earns her a small look of concern, but she doesn't speak on it. She just looks back to Ford, an almost natural opposite in her own bubbliness compared to the Lieutenant's rigidity. When Johannes speaks to that rigidity, Isolde offers a small shrug. "Van's like that, too." Okay, maybe not that rigid, but Van "By the Books" Newton is close enough. "But, rigidity in professionalism isn't always the same as rigidity in mental flexibility."

"I've never said this before in my life, Lieutenant," Johannes says as he gently accepts the packet and the matchbook from Van, "But I would follow the Ensign's advice." He pauses and narrows his eyes slightly, "I believe my father started rolling over in his crypt when I said that." He displays a flash of a fraction of a part of a smile and slips the paraphenalia into his pocket without opting to 'spark one up'... which is probably wise given that he's covered in potentially flammable liquids, "Though the chaplain might claim Eternity is his jurisdiction, I've always found that medics are exceptionally better at interceding on your behalf in that regard."

When the other Leonid gets all emotional - for a Leonid - Johannes offers a short, sharp sigh and readjusts his gaze, "He was indeed. One of his finest qualities was the ability to understand people, of all backgrounds, for the betterment of his ship." He pauses and arches his eyebrow to retort towards Isolde, "Quite true, Ensign. However it has been an observation of mine that those who place profesionalism too highly over other matters often cannot see far past the rule-book stapled to their nose. All mindsets have their uses, of course."

Van lets out a little breath when Johannes takes the cigarettes from his hand, nodding slowly as he steps back and theoretically up-blower of any smoking. He's about to comment when Isolde describes him as rigid, and for a moment he looks like he's about to protest, and then he merely notes, "Flying within my Viper's capabilities and within tactical doctrine -- as much as possible -- has kept me alive through Triton and beyond." But still, he nods his agreement with her point, and again at Johannes' words, "The Picon Naval Academy prides itself in teaching that quality ideas can come from all ranks, and that specialists provide the best advice on a given subject." He nods to Ford then, "And that strength comes through discipline." Olive branch to all involved. Finally though, he chuckles faintly at Isolde and nods, "I'll trust you to patch me in my sleep if I need it. Just... do let me know if you do it, because I wouldn't want to compound the treatment."

Ford has a playful side, one that she left at Leonis in a box under her bed, so when Isolde pokes the lion inside of her, talking of -imagined- short-comings, the Lieutenant is just about ready to breathe fire all over the sunny mongrel who speaks like she knows her! Instead, just as she inhales some to prepare for her biting tirade, Johannes offers his veiled advice along with his sort-of but-not-quite scolding that is all too Leonid. Miranda visible recomposes herself, and seems to decompress, eyeing Johannes, and then Isolde.

"I will have you know I am quite apt at improvisation." She wouldn't know, but Ford has the confidence she would be quite apt in everything she set herself to master, and these are now 'People Skills' and 'Improvisation'. You know, vagabond training. Should take a week, tops.

"Thank you," she tells Van, faking a much better smile now, her voice almost sounding warm, "but I think I understand what the Captain is saying. He isn't right. Discipline is good most of the time, but creativity and insight must take up the slack every now and then. Speaking of which, you should really see a doctor about this problem of yours. If you are this bad in the addiction stages, you might as well embrace your vice. It isn't killing anyone but you."

Ford, People's Person.

Oh Gods, Johannes gets the biggest, dimpling smile of the day at that first statement. She lifts her chin, looking at Van with a genuine mightiness in her expression. That's right. She's right, he's wrong. Na-nana-na-na. Then she clears her throat a bit, trying to smother out that look of triumph for something a bit more relaxed. "See?" Then she curls her fingers around themselves in the pockets of her flightsuit as she stands in her own version of at ease. She mulls over Johannes's counter, and the Tauron presses her lips together thoughtfully. "Hmm. Well, I was only ever given the summary of the rulebook, so I usually hope someone will swat me on the nose if I step outside those boundaries. Otherwise, I thrive entirely on my instincts and what I pick up or are taught along the way." After all, Isolde has never stepped foot in either a flight school or an officer's school.

Ford grabs her attention again at her first objection, and Isolde brightens once more. "Oh, I got no doubt. After all, you're here with the rest of us, so that's gotta be something." Though she looks back to Van at Ford's words, and her smile turns to a smirk. She does not rush to defend him. Oh no. She's letting him swim these waters all on his own.

Blinking rather more quickly than usual is all that Johannes seems to display to react to Ford 'correcting' him. He frowns deeply and shakes his head, "Discipline and creativity aren't mutually exclusive. I was referring to those people that are incapable of being flexible with their implementation of established practices." He offers her the slightest of smiles that is smothered faster than her hopes and dreams, "We are the ones establishing those practices against a new enemy. Intuition and instinct are often all that separates the living from the dead. I do hope to see you command your own squadron one day, Lieutenant." He narrows his eyes slightly, "Plans are often useless, but planning is essential. Stay disciplined, of course, but do not let that adherance to protocol blind you to opportunities while in combat."

Van has the clear and obvious inclination to snap back in response to that false smile and sharp advice, the need for nicotine looking for any excuse to get loose and rage at someone, but he battens it down like a proper Picon upper-cruster, "...And as a fighter pilot, I'm not likely to see the end of the war. That is nearly exactly why I started. Plus the exquisite tension relief. However, as I now have every intention..." he pauses, glancing to Johannes with the faintest of smiles, "...every plan of outliving the toasters and making something of my life after the war is over, and I don't believe that tempting cancer is the way to do that." One corner of that hint of a smile curls upward, "Plus, I've been led to believe that it also makes my mouth taste like an ashtray. Thank you for your advice though. The moment that my urges for nicotine get in the way of my duty, I will absolutely seek proper medical advice." Of course, according to some, it already is doing so.

'You are here with the rest of us... with the rest of us... the rest of us... with the rest of us...,' those words echo in Ford's head, and suddenly the room feels smaller. Maybe she is being punished for something? Why does the word 'purgatory' keeps popping to her mind right now?! This girl... is fucking with her head, and Ford narrows her eyes at Isolde, shooting daggers as Ms. Sunshine. Thrive on instincts... Yeah, right!

It is Johannes' words that have Ford worried, however. He keeps talking about the separation of living and dead, and there is something that might hit home with Ford, something that makes Miranda look downwards for the briefest moment, eyes slightly wide and lips pursed tight. She almost looks afraid, or shocked, there, but soon looks up at the Captain once more, even though her face is still betraying quite a bit of concern. "I see. I think I understand."

She looks at Van, looking at him for a moment, and then peering at the Raptor she was looking at in the beginning of all of this. "I hope you make it." But he won't. Statistics are a bitch. Still, she conjures a smile, from the pits of her feelings, something that is small but genuine, even if it might come off like she pities the man. "We need to focus on endings this war, for now. And don't worry," she smiles now, "if it gets in teh way of your duty, I will drag you to the medics myself." She says that sincerely.

There is something almost amusing Isolde as she stands there, the daughter of a Tauron street kid turned well-regarded Master Sergeant surrounded by the crustiest upper crusts of Picon and Leonis. Add a Caprican, and honestly, Isolde might as well get herself a server's tray and apron and ask if any would care to try the bacon-wrapped mussels drizzled with garlic aioli. She at least seems pretty comfortable where she falls in all this, until she feels the bit of heat coming from Ford's incoming glare. Her brows furrow deeply over her dark eyes, and her smile deflates a bit. She clears her throat, and she's once more rubbing at the back of her calf with her opposing foot, but this time almost awkwardly instead of casually. "Well, I think I'm gonna go check in on Fifi." She offers a companionable smile to Johannes and Ford even if she still looks a bit perplexed. "It was nice meeting both of you, lookin' forward to flying with you all soon. If either of you need an ECO, I'm at your service." Then she starts to pad her way toward the Raptors, her graceless steps resounding off the deck.

Johannes too backs up slightly to regard his gutted Raptor and frowns, "Oh," he says, twisting to gaze back at Ford, "Worry less about rank, more about combat hours. I'd listen more to an Ensign who's flown a dozen sorties over a Captain piloting a desk." He shrugs his shoulders slightly and sniffs sharply, as if he had just smelled a post-burrito gastro-intestinal greeting, "What's the old saying? A sergeant in a hurry outranks a lieutenant at rest? It holds doubly true for this new enemy we face. Read a hundred reports and you still won't be ready for your first engagement." He pauses slightly, "Follow your leaders, stick with your team, and fly safe. You'll be fine."

Of course Van won't make it. He's already lost three wingmen -- even if one wasn't actually flying with him at the time and the other two were in the cauldron of Triton. The statistics say that he's about three missions overdue. Once more, the Picon pilot throttles down the nicotine-craving need to strangle the smile that the smoky little voice in his head insists is pitying him right off the Leonese woman's face, and he just nods, "Thank you. I'll be sure not to struggle too hard." He gives Isolde a little wave as she heads off, "See you after your shift, Izzy." And then he nods to Johannes and Ford in turn, sharp bobs of his head each, "Good advice, sir." If he's sucking up, he's quite good at sounding sincere. Then again, since he was just talking about flying within his craft's capabilities, perhaps he's not just sucking up. "If you will excuse me, Captain, Lieutenant," the use of the latter rank isn't strictly required, of course, "I really should get some sleep before I don't have the time for a full REM cycle. Fly safe."

Isolde leaves. Good. Van leaves. Good. Ford is left alone with Johannes, and THAT is not good. Not at all. Still the Leonid doesn't back down from an engagement, not without firing something back, and left behind to face the Captain the blonde woman is quick to make sure she is looking him in the eyes, showing she is willing to defend her values.

She is NOT a impressionable little girl anymore.

"How are they, sir? The... things, in combat?" Her question is almost painful, as it reveals her own inexperience, but the man could probably read that from a mile away. "Are they as accurate as the reports would suggest?" She looks at the man, focused and listening. He has great advice, even if Miranda won't quite admit it tonight.

"Accurate, certainly," Johannes says with a simple nod of his greying head, "though... alright, look at it this way. You read, as a child, about flying, yes? The experiences of others that had gone on before you to do what you were going to do." He tilts his head slightly and settles his hands once more behind him, "But reading about it, hearing about it... nothing compares to actually doing it. Right?" He pauses somewhat to allow her to absorb this pontification before continuing, "I could sit here and talk for hours about combat flights, being surprised by a squadron of hostiles jumping in out of nowhere while on a late-night CAP. Or any number of other things. Seeing comrades, people you know and trust to support you - not necessarily like, but trust - disappearing in a puff of smoke and a flash of light. Being a hair's breadth from death and then going back to the ship and laughing about it over a beer." Of course it's almost impossible for any rational mind to concoct the image of Johannes Whyck, Grumpmaster General, ever laughing.

"I do not at all," the Captain says after a moment, "wish to dissuade you, or anyone, away from following the rules. Rules are vital to anything. But at the same time, the rules cannot fit every circumstance - if they could, they would be so labyrinthine as to be impossible to know. That is why, at least sometimes, intuition - trusting your own experience and the experience of those in your flight - takes precidence."

Ford doesn't seem the kind to be easily dissuaded, but she does seem at least a bit shaken by the notion her best traits might be her undoing. The blonde listens, and nods every now and then, so she doesn't look like a cared little lion. Gears turn in her head as seems to be thinking of what to do, how to get out of this corner, but so far, there is much confusion in her face. Still, she nods, assertively, once Johannes is done talking.

"With all due respect, sir, you wouldn't dissuade me from what I know to be right," she starts, giving some pause before continuing, "... but I woke up tonight after the realization that," and she motions towards the Raptor she was inspecting before, "...will be my casket. Deep down I probably knew something was wrong, and now I know what it is. To be perfectly honest, I am not so sure I am ready to take flight anymore. But that is the only life I know, and the only life I want for myself."

Ford doesn't say that proudly. If anything, she seems almost sorrowful as her shortcomings become crippling spectres in her head. "There is only one way out of this. I need to see more combat. I need to... put myself through the fire." Still serious, she looks at Johannes, "I appreciate your tips tonight, sir. I will take them to heart."

"Bravery," the elder lion says as he arches his eyebrow, apparently being an expert at not moving unless absolutely necessary, "is not a lack of fear. It is the perseverance against that fear." He settles his hands, now, on his hips - totally unphased at the idea his duty uniform is getting all mucky, "You are a scion of one of the greatest houses of our kind. The lion within you will not be quelled by this small blaze you feel in your mind. In your heart, Lieutenant, you are a warrior of the highest class. Your forebares did you great credit in building you, slowly, into that which I see before me." He nods his head just as sharply as he sniffs, "Doubting one's self is the only way to know one's self. And knowing one's self is half the battle. You're not alone out there, no matter what it might feel like." He shrugs his lean shoulders and offers a very brief little smile, so brief that it's probable Ford is the only person aboard that could have noticed it, "You might be a little abrasive, I know I certainly am. People might resent you, as they do me and many of our fellow little lions. But they won't abandon you. That's one protocol they'll never drop by the way side."

Ford quirks a brow at 'Bravery'. She doesn't feel very brave, but the compliment still makes the woman feel somewhat better. She preens up some, and she nods, agreeing with the notions Johannes conveys. Moreover, her whole countenance seems to improve as the man keeps talking, and she smiles at some point. Miranda isn't as battle-hardened as Johannes, and can't keep quite the poker face, and such it becomes obvious she feels a lot of pride in not only being a chosen of Leonis, but of being a respectable representative of the colony as well.

She doesn't speak, that would be too childish for the both of them, and she doesn't thank Johannes, as that might feel pathetic. You don't thank someone for compliments, you live up to them. In the end, the man knows he has rekindled the flame in Miranda, and it has inspired the stiff Leonid to push herself, and perform beyond what she was taught, and thought mastered, in Leonis.

She gives the man a brief bow, and turns on her axis to go back to her dorm, and if before she was too distraught to sleep, now Miranda is too excited to do it. She will find something to read, or something to shoot, but tomorrow, oh tomorrow, it is the start of a new day!


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