Astraea seeks out a bit of the faith. It's desperately needed.
Related Scenes: None
Scene Number: 234
Morale hasn't really been the best on the ship in general, but can one call morale on the front lines of the war 'good' in general? Either way, the offensive (if one can call it that) on Picon has been dragging on and the Timber Wolves' personal losses have been increasing enough that moods have been dipping low. One particular pilot who, generally, remains fairly upbeat on the surface has especially taken a hit to her demeanor. And it's led her to not just talk to those she trusts, but to also begin haunting the chapel in her stolen moments in hopes of catching the chaplain.
Now is just one of those moments as Astraea leans through the hatch, stepping through after another moment. Her duty uniform shows signs of her lack of attention overall; it's fairly wrinkled in places and not just from a day's wear.
It might have been trickier of late to catch Aldrich, given the bad luck he's been having on the current mission. It seems he's been in the infirmary more than the chapel for awhile... But he's finally back in fighting condition, so to speak, apart from an ugly, nearly-healed wound traversing his left eyebrow and over the bridge of his nose.
Today he's lighting candles at the altar in some sort of symbolic offering, but he looks up when he senses someone entering (whether he hears her or just sees her out of the corner of his eye is unclear). She gets a welcoming smile, and he rises from where he was kneeling to brush at the knees of his uniform. "Hello, come on in... I was just finishing up here."
There's some level of uncertainty to Astraea when she sees Aldrich. She's been looking for the chaplain, but now that she's found him... she's suddenly not quite certain what to do about it or with herself. For a few long seconds, she just sort of freezes in place. The pilot glances over her shoulder, as if considering some sort of escape plan or excuse ("Oh! This isn't the CIC, silly me."), but ultimately does make her way further in, pushing the hatch mostly-closed behind her, to dull the noises from the corridor. "I've been, ah, lookin' fer ya, if I'm bein' honest," she mumbles, in her Scorpian accent. Hands find pockets and she looks fairly sheepish.
Aldrich has a pretty welcoming and gentle air about him, and that doesn't change as he waits for her to decide if she's going to stay or not. In fact, he seems pretty patient, and once she admits she's been looking for him, he gestures her over to the rows of pews. "Well, in that case, why don't we have a seat? You're from Scorpia?"
"I am," Astraea affirms. "How could ya tell?" It seems to be a bit of a joke, or at least an attempt at one. Perhaps due to her own accent; it has shades of Eli's in it, though the doc's is more refined. They come from the same region. And even in her uniform, there's hints of her tattoos visible when her sleeves pull back as she moves. And she does, towards those pews. "Was it th' winnin' charm? Been told we got a lotta that. It's why we're such a calm people." Deflection. She's very, very good at deflection. Or bad, depending on your perspective, since it's so damn obvious.
Aldrich grins a little and answers, "Doc Cadmus is a good friend of mine." He follows her to the pews and settles next to her, apparently not in the least surprised by the deflection. Then again, if he's friends with Eli, he wouldn't be. "And I'd say you all do have a certain charm." He grins a bit, then, and adds, "Not so sure about the calm, though."
"Naw, we're 'bout as calm as a..." Astraea tries to come up with a good comparison, but fails. After a long moment of staring at the viewport, she finally shrugs and leans back, slouching in the pew. "well, a Scorpian." She chuffs faintly, shaking her head as she lifts a hand to rub the heel of her palm at her forehead. "Dunno. Thought I'd talk to ya 'bout missions an' morals an' all that, but now that I'm here, I just can't... find th' words."
Aldrich nods and looks toward the viewport and the magnificent view of space, considering the trouble. "It's difficult out there," he offers. "I'm finding that more and more, as I work with the marines. But I understand it's a little different for the pilots..." He glances aside at her, thoughtfully. "Did something specific happen that you're struggling with, or is it more of a...general feeling?"
The Scorpian scratches at her cheek as she leans forward, elbow landing on her thigh. "You've heard 'bout Fish, I'm guessin'." She continues looking at the viewport. It's a nice view and something to focus on, at least. "It ain't th' first time Cherry's had us ignore orders ta rescue someone. Th' first time, it was only us at risk. Wit' th' Oreti, onna their Raptors was dead in th' water, but there were nukes incomin' from a Cylon ship. We managed th' rescue, but we were supposedta just get outta there. This time, we tried ta save him... at a loss of a coupla men on a Picon ship."
Nova glances over at Aldrich with a sort of wry expression. "Th' funny thing is? I was th' rescue pilot on both, but if anyone's gettin' written up, it's her."
Aldrich leans against the pew, listening to the story with an occasional glance aside to show he's listening, without being too uncomfortably focused. "Well, if Cherry was the one giving the orders, there's not really an ethical question for you, is there?" he points out, gently. "Or is it more complicated than that?"
There's a moment of quiet as Astraea considers this. She shuffles herself a bit on the bench, squirming somewhat. Leaning forward, she sets her other elbow on her other thigh, rubbing her hands together as she considers them. "How much do ya know of Scorpia an' th'... clans an' their conflicts an' all?"
Aldrich shakes his head a little. "I know what little Cadmus has told me," he admits, with a little smile. "I know that there is... well, a lot of conflict between the clans. And that you value your clanmates above anything else. You are not unlike the Gemenese in that way... If you think of Gemenon as one large colony-sized clan, that is."
"Well, in that regard..." Astraea falls silent, frowning as she considers. It takes some time, but she never finds the words or that. Finally, she shakes her head slightly. "Most of us already knew war, in our own ways, yeh? I mean, in some ways, this is easier. When I go out there, whatever I'm shootin' at-" Except that time it was pirates, "is just a machine. Who cares. Destroy it. It's just bits an' parts. Many of us have... fought other people. But they weren't, y'know, our clan." There's a glance to Aldrich as she frowns. "So, I mean, even if... y'know, Gemenese are... sorta one large clan, it ain't really th' same."
Aldrich nods a little, frowning thoughtfully about that. "Yes, that makes sense." He smiles, sadly, and remarks, "The Gemenese prefer to be more... spiritual in our violence, I think. So no, it's probably not the same." He tilts his head a little, watching Astraea for a moment, and then he asks, "Is that what's troubling you? The difference between this war and the war you know?"
"Not... quite," Astraea says, voice dropping a bit. She takes a deep breath, looking up to the viewport again. "Part of why I joined the Fleet was to make up for what I did in the clan. What I was, well-" a twitch of her mouth, "forced to do. I wanted to make up for those things. So whenever... I lose people, I feel like I'm failing in that goal."
Aldrich nods a little, his expression growing sympathetic as he listens. "Let me ask you a question..." he starts, in response to her explanation. "Are there people alive today because you chose to join the Fleet? People who might not be alive otherwise?"
"I think so," Astraea answers after a moment, looking away from the view to the chaplain. "I've done SAR missions." Even for some of their own. "It doesn't feel like enough. I'm not sure it ever will."
Aldrich nods a little, and looks back to the viewport. "I joined the LFL because I felt like my people weren't doing enough," he confesses. "I think... maybe it never feels like enough. And maybe that's the point. But that doesn't mean that what we're doing is meaningless." He takes a deep breath, and smiles. "Personally, I try to focus on the victories. But that's just what helps me."
"I think part of the issue," Astraea offers after listening and processing his words for a time, "is that... we haven't really had many of those recently, have we?" She finally sits up, leaning back against the rear of the pew. "It just feels like... stalemate or failure most of the time."
"We haven't," Aldrich sighs, in agreement. "This is a particularly difficult mission... But I think that may just come with the territory of being on this sort of team. We're not meant to turn the tides of the whole war. They send us in where the regular troops can't necessarily go, surgically... and that means sometimes it's going to seem like all we're seeing is failure. But that doesn't mean that what we're doing is meaningless."
Lifting a hand to rub at her face, Astraea makes a sound of quiet frustration. "I feel like," she says finally, letting her hands drop to her lap, "I could sleep for a week. Or drink for one. Perhaps both." She glances to Aldrich, blinking a few times. "Do chaplains that fight drink?"
Aldrich nods a little. "If you're having trouble sleeping, I can put a word in with medical and they can give you something," he offers, helpfully. The last question earns a little half-smile. "I've been known to partake, now and then. But usually only on shore leave, unless it's part of a ritual."
There's almost a flicker of interest, but Astraea tries to quash it down. She shakes her head finally, pushing to her feet at long last. "No, thank you. I'll... sort it out, yeh? I mean, better I do that then start relyin' on other stuff I suppose." She offers him a small smile. "I gotta go get ready fer a thing, but, uh... I'd like ta say a prayer or somethin' ta Apollo for I go. He's sorta th' one I- do my thing for an' all."
Aldrich smiles a little. "It's not a show of weakness to accept help now and then," he says, gently. "You wouldn't be the first I sent to medical for a sleeping aid. It's up to you... But you can always come back if you change your mind." He climbs to his feet, and gestures to the altar at the front of the room. "Of course. There are candles and incense under the altar, if you need them, or you're welcome to just sit here quietly. Shall I leave you to it, or would you like company?" With a crew that has people from all over the colonies, he can never make assumptions about what they mean by 'prayer'.
"I'll consider it," is all Astraea will concede after a time. Maybe it's not wanting it in her record somewhere, being a pilot and all. At his offer, she looks at the altar, then back to him. "I think I may jes'... do it on m'own, but thank you." There is a small smile for the chaplain as she makes her way for the altar.
Aldrich smiles back, and makes his way to the end of the aisle, himself. "All right, then, I'll leave you in peace..." He hesitates for a moment, and then offers, "Anytime you need to come by, whether you need to talk or just want to pray. You're always welcome." With that little reminder, he retreats to leave her private use of the chapel.