The morning before the awards ceremony, Kell and Astraea talk. On uniforms, qualifications, the war, and what it means to be a pilot.
Location: Air House
Related Scenes: None
Scene Number: 347
After managing (albeit barely on gunnery) to pull off expert marks for her qualifications, Astraea seemed to be in better spirits. She was still quiet and didn't stick around terribly long at the after party. Long enough for a couple drinks and to share congratulations with the others before heading out and on her way.
Not that she went straight back to Air House either. She didn't get home until fairly late. She's up early and cooking breakfast, dressed in the same sort of shorts and tee outfit she's chosen when not on duty. They might be the same exact clothes, even. There's no evidence of a hangover, either. Eggs, bacon, and sausage can all be found cooking. There's bread ready for the toaster and a couple cartons of juice.
Today, she's singing something in Leonese. Or trying. Every so often she has to stop to recall the words. At least she has a good voice.
Kell was up even earlier this morning, having quietly departed from the lodgings even before the sun crested the horizon though the lighter shades of purple in the skies announced its impending arrival. He had been notified the night before that his kit has finally gotten in, after being misrouted to the wrong location and that he can pick up his stuff at first light.
So that was where the young Viper jock went, first thing in the morning, and when he made his way back to the Air House, the sun was already up. Astraea would hear the front door unlocking and opening but it takes a moment before further sound of someone making entry as Kell had to turn around, pick up two boxes, and slowly stepping inside the main room. Setting the boxes down, he turns around to shut and lock the door behind him, and only then does he catch the aroma of food being cooked.
“Smells good!” Kell calls out to whoever is in the kitchen though he suspects that it is Astraea, since she is the one that usually cooks for everyone. Carrying the boxes half way across the room in the direction of the room he is sharing with Van and Isolde, a bulky endeavor but he managed all the way from the quartermasters and logistics building. Surprisingly, Razor is wearing even more casual clothing, a pair of dark grey swimming trunks that goes to the knee, another short sleeved shirt though this one is a generic Colonial Forces logo, not a Timberwolves one, and flip flops.
“Bacon always smells good,” Astraea answers, leaning out of the kitchen to look through to the lounge. “Glad they finally found yer things. Was startin’ to worry they’d been destroyed an’ they just weren’t tellin’ ya.” She finally notices what he is wearing and blinks a few times in surprise. There’s a bit of a grin for it in the end and the woman waves the spatula she’s wearing in his general direction. “You look good.”
There’s a look to the door of the room he’s been sharing with the other two, “You actually get to sleep last night? I noticed th’ sock on th’ door when I came in.”
While carrying the crates, Kell slows and takes in a deep breath of breakfast before making it the rest of the way. Instead of just kicking his door open, he puts the boxes down against the wall next to his door, perhaps not wanting to wake up Van and Isolde. “Yeah… Iris said the same thing yesterday, suggested that it was possible my stuff might have been accidentally vented into space.” The compliment though is answered with a grin, “Thanks, feels… different. But works, especially if I wander off onto the beach for short periods of time.”
As for the celebration that Van and Isolde were having, Kell was out and he nods his head, “Yeah, it was no problem. No different than my days back at the Academy on Libran. They deserve it.” He heads to the kitchen to join Astraea, so he can get a closer look at the food that is cooking or already made, “So how did it go? Heard part of the squadron went for another round of qualifications?” Razor, was of course absent, choosing leave over trying to get fancier badges. Seems like the basic qualifications was more than enough for the Ensign.
Retreating into the kitchen as Kell approaches, Astraea is prepared once he appears and holds up a plate with bacon. “Much better for th’ beach. Imagine how terrible it’d be to go for a walk in uniform. Sand in yer creases,” no, she won’t mention which ones, “overheatin’ under th’ sun. This-” she gestures with spatula to what he’s wearing, “is as much about practicality as it is comfort.” She looks up to him and smiles. “Plus, it is really good to see you relaxin’. Seriously.”
When he asks how it went, she returns to cooking. Finishing up the sausage with the eggs on standby. Enough bread is put down the toaster for the two of them. “Pi got her basics. Hawk an’ Double-Tap got pretty much perfect scores both. I just barely got expert on mine.”
The plate of bacon is eagerly accepted as Kell takes the plate with one hand and grabs a strip with the other, immediately munching away at it. He usually eats healthier but this time, it is home cooked and they are on leave. “I would never wear my uniform to the beach, you know, because of the reasons you said. Plus, I was wearing something similar last time we were here on Scorpia, when the Colonel held that BBQ. And I relax when I can, harder to do when in a warzone. This leave, was sorely needed.”
“Hawk I am not surprised, Double-Tap though, even the piloting one? That’s pretty boss, I thought he only had a head for games and electronics.” When Astraea slips in that she achieved expert badges though, Kell seems happy for her, “Congrats Nova! So it seems like you are an even better pilot than I am. I only have my basics.”
“Well, alright, Double-Tap got expert on pilotin’, but only barely. Still, his scores on ECM and gunnery were-” Astraea shakes her head. “Should count for both.” She smiles a bit over her shoulder. “As for th’ last time y’all were here- I wasn’t transferred in yet. I didn’t see ya dress down. In my mind, you were standin’ on th’ beach in yer duty uniform, scowlin’ each grain of sand away.” She grins a bit, moving sausage to a plate and eggs into a pan. Totally healthy food. Home cooked and everything. It’s protein! They work hard, they need it.
She flushes a bit under the praise, but shakes her head. “That’s in a Raptor, Razor. If you were doin’ the course in a Raptor, I bet you’d have your expert wings, too.” Even so, she’s a bit flustered and it shows she appreciates his words. Thus, a subject change is required, so she gestures to the cabinets. “Wanna grab some plates and glasses?”
With Astraea having flown with them for several missions, to Kell it felt like she’s been here forever until she mentioned that fact. When she shares how she pictured him on the beach, there is an amused smirk as he munches away at some more bacon before putting it on the table so he can pour himself a glass of juice, “Just because I was focused more on training and duty doesn’t mean I can’t have fun once in a while. How about this, I promise to stay for any celebrations we have after the ceremony tonight or tomorrow.”
After taking a drink of juice, he goes to grab another glass and two more plates. “Sure, no problem. And you sell yourself short. Raptor course may be different but the bird flies a /lot/ different as well. Definitely gave myself a reminder on the trip home from picking up the new Vipers.” He sets the two plates down near Astraea before taking the glass to pour her a glass of juice.
“Really?” Astraea looks surprised when he promises to stay for any celebrations. She brightens, quite a bit, over this. “You really should. I’m disappointed it ain’t a BBQ. That sounds like it was a lot of fun, t’be honest. But I ain’t never been to a ball. Don’t even know what I’d wear, so I’m just gonna go in my dress uniform-” she wrinkles her nose, looking at him with a bit of uncertainty. “You don’t think that’s gonna be weird, right? I had CAP early on th’ base an’ heard a lot of people goin’ on about what they’ll be wearin’. Startin’ to think I might be th’ only woman not in some sort of gown.”
She turns back to the stove, cutting off the eyes as she starts serving out the food onto plates. “You flew th’Raptor just fine. Didn’t hear any complaints from Pitbull. They’re clunky an’ slow. Gotta be good at it to get put inna Viper. An’ gota keep brushed up on ‘em. I’m sure you could ace quals in one if you had to, Razor.”
It isn’t a surprise when Kell says, “I’m glad it isn’t a BBQ… I’m looking forward to the christening of the new carrier and battlestar.” Probably looking forward to getting to wear the sharp looking, Colonial Forces dress uniform too but he won’t mention that out loud. As for her concerns about outfit for the ball, Razor quickly shakes his head, “I think the dress uniform is great, well-tailored and shows your dedication to the unit! No need to go in some fancy gown or dress, not to a military event. If it was like a Leonese ball with princes and princess… that’d be different. We’re Timberwolves, through and through.” As for the qualifications, Kell shakes his head in response, “Not sure about acing them… I’m not that great when it comes to exams and such. I feel pressure when it comes to stuff like that, in a bad way. Not like when we have to perform at our best when lives are on the line.”
“I don’t even know why I’m askin’ you,” Astraea says with a small huff, offering a plate of food to Kell in exchange for one of the glasses of juice. “All you see is th’ uniform. You probably can’t even tell if I’m a man or woman half th’ time.” She grabs the toast once it finishes, dropping a couple of slices atop the rest of his food before moving past with her own to sit at the small kitchen table.
“It is a lot of pressure,” she agrees, turning her toast into a sandwich of eggs and bacon. “Whisper made me go first, after talkin’ ‘bout th’ folks who aced ‘em last time. I’m surprised I didn’t frak up th’ whole thing.” She lets out a bit of a sigh, glancing up at the Libran. “Half expected to, but… I ain’t heard from Cherry yet, about… trainin’ on Vipers. So I thought if… I did decent, maybe it’d prove to Whisper that I’m worth it.”
The exchange is made, a great trade from Kell’s perspective as he goes to a drawer to grab a couple of forks, placing one down near Astraea before using his own to dig in. After scooping up some egg and using the fork to cut a piece of sausage. “You’re a Raptor pilot, and a damned good one, Nova.” He says with a completely straight face, which pretty much answers her question, “And yes, you are a woman.” He finally adds with a slight grin, as if his initial response was somewhat teasing in nature. Joining her at the small table, he continues with the eating as the hot food is delicious.
When Astraea shares her experiences on the qualifications, Kell nods his head understandingly, having gone through it last time. “All eyes are on you, unlike in a dogfight where everyone is focused on the enemy, their wingman, and their assignment. Sounds like your training and instincts took over, which is why you did so well. What I’ve been told by one of the more senior pilots in passing is pretty true, weird logic but still, sometimes the less you think, the better you do.” As for Viper training, Razor taps his plate a couple of times with his fork as if thinking, “Probably takes a lot of time and Whisper will want you to make sure you are focused on your current assignment, especially if we’re going back to Picon. Maybe after Picon?”
“Oh, you do notice! What gave me away? Th’ voice or th’ hair? Was it mebbe my shorter stature?” Astraea seems quite happy to tease back; pleased with this more laid-back version of the Libran pilot. Even if it is a leave-only engagement. She’ll encourage it as much as she can. Her egg-and-bacon sandwich is packed down to make sure it stays intact before she takes a bite, glancing up as he explains. She nods along after a few bites, setting the rest down.
“Pretty much. Was harder wit’ Double-Tap yammerin’ away, but I’d still prefer to be graded on my work durin’ a dog fight. Buoy’s don’t move, y’know? Everythin’ in quals is… static. It makes it more awkward.” As for her current assignment, she gives a small shrug, looking back to her food. “Mebbe. Think we’re goin’ back to Picon? I know nothin’ is finished there, but neither was Canceron an’ we still got moved on.”
Kell can only smirk in return when Astraea teases back at him, not choosing to answer since in the end, she would probably outwit him with words and win. Hearing about Yohan yapping away has him laughing in amusement though, “That’s one thing I don’t miss, having a talkative ECO. Especially after flying in combat now, focus can be the difference of life and death.” As for Picon, Razor nods his head, “I believe so. We left Canceron on our own terms, Picon we did not. Our home base got shot out from under us, we’re going back unless something much more urgent draws us away but after what we’ve seen, I’m not sure what could be more urgent than Picon.” Of course, Picon is a protracted war, a quagmire that could draw this group of special forces in and fighting constant battles that can grind them out may not be their goal.
“But we’ve only seen Picon an’ our homes. You said you only served on Libran, yeh? Me, it’s been Scorpia an’ Picon. Kell, I’ve seen th’ civilian news here. They get even less than us.” Astraea’s lips draw to one side as she mulls, looking at her plate. “I think there’s worse out there an’ they’re keepin’ it from us. Picon’s bad, but it may not be… th’ worst, y’know? Picon’s th’ sorta place you have placed, grounded troops to hold th’ line, I think. Not folks like us.”
The Scorpian takes a deep breath and shrugs. “But I didn’t take a lotta tactics in Academy. I’m just rememberin’ those I did. I wouldn’t send a strike team like ours back there. We’d just be… stripped away, over and over. We’ve lost so many already-” Nova looks up to him, briefly sad. “Almost lost others.”
Kell can’t rule out what Astraea is suggesting and it is a scary thought that there could be worse off besides Picon. She certainly makes a good point, which is why he is quiet for a moment, “I still think we are going back to Picon, since our departure wasn’t planned. But how long we stay there, I don’t know. You could be right… there might be another, more urgent and worse spot that requires our insertion.” As for attrition on Picon, Razor nods his head in full agreement, “It is definitely a grind, and if we get caught in a bad fight again with a Basestar like we did over Islesboro, it could be really bad.”
“At least it sounds like we’ll be on a bigger ship an’ have more Vipers an’ Raptors. We’ll be better equipped to handle whatever th’ Cylons throw at us.” Astraea offers Kell a small smile for that. She takes a moment to finish off her sandwich before reaching for her juice to wash it down. “But I ain’t sure what can be done to win Picon. They’ve got such a hold on it and they’re usin’ it against us. It ain’t a loss, but it… it ain’t good either, y’know.”
She props an elbow on the table, lifting a hand to set her chin in upturned palm. “Jigger thinks I should go see my family. We only got a couple more days, so I dunno if I should waste th’ time.”
The plate is slowly emptying as Kell continues to devour the food. Eggs, sausages, bacon, all going poof. “You are right, and I don’t think the balance will tip in either direction on Picon until something significant happens in the air. Like us finding one of the Basestars and catching it unawares, blowing it to bits. Or vice versa. To have a better chance at winning the ground offensive, we need to control the skies.”
When the subject shifts to Astraea and her possible visit to her family, Kell pauses in his eating and arches a brow, since it involves her talking to Jigger. So in his mind, maybe whatever happened the other night has been ironed out. Cleaning up the plate, Razor now focuses on the glass of juice, “Sounds like a good idea. If my parents were free, I would go visit them. But they’re on assignment so going home to Libran would just be an empty house. And old squadron mates that… I don’t care much for to waste a pass on.”
“I’m kinda scared ta do it,” Astraea admits, quietly. “It’s not as… easy as it is for th’ rest of ya. Ain’t seen ‘em in nearly six years an’... Well, there’s other complications. ‘Cause of th’ clan politics an’ all, me showin’ up might put my family at risk. Jigger thinks I should send word to one of my brothers. Have him meet me here in town an’ see how it goes.” She bites at her lip before getting to her feet to collect up both of their plates; she still has some juice left. “I wish th’clans could set all that shit aside, y’know? There’s bigger stuff, with th’ Cylons.”
As Nova says, Kell isn’t familiar or use to not wanting to see family when given the chance, it’s a side of life that he isn’t privy to as he lucked out in that department. Hearing her explanation though, Razor is once again quiet for a moment, as if trying to think of what to say, “Oh… Jigger sounds like he has the right idea then. If you are having trouble with family, pick the one that you want to see most and see what happens. Maybe ask him to go with you if you’re not comfortable going alone?” Since it sounds like Alain has more experience in troubles like this. When Astraea goes to put away the plates, Kell refills her glass with juice and his as well.
“I thought about askin’,” Astraea admits, setting the plates in the dishwasher. Thank the Lords the place has one; there’s too many people in the small house to be washing by hand. And Kobol knows none of them would actually do their own consistently. She returns to the table, murmuring thanks when she sees her glass refilled as she retakes her seat. “But it seemed… awkward at th’ time. Not after th’... just friends talk an’ how Banshee was th’ other night. Could you imagine how she might react if she found out he went with me to see family? Even just ‘cause I’m scared what might happen?”
She wraps her hands around the glass, staring at it. “It might just be easier not to see ‘em. It’s been six years. What’s another year or two on top of that?”
Now, that is something Kell has no helpful suggestion for, looking like someone who has been trying to avoid all of that. Even after getting a little bit of a verbal sparring with Alain that night because of different views on how to proceed. “That is up to you, Nova, if you want Jigger to fly your wing when you go meet with your brother. As for how Banshee would react, that is between her and Jigger, and if she wants to talk to you, her and you. But would you choose the wrong decision if we were in the air just because the right decision may be riskier?” That question is a tough one, and could lead to the wrong solution but that is how Razor views these situations, as if he was still a pilot. “It sounds like Jigger is the only one that really understands the situation between you and your family.” As for just not seeing family, Kell can only shrug at that, “I would want to see my family whenever I get the chance, especially with my current assignment. But I had a different experience growing up than you did.” That is without a doubt a huge understatement.
“It ain’t as easy as that, Razor. You were right th’ other night, ‘bout how bad it would be if th’ things she said got back to th’ Major. Or worse… th’ Colonel. She’s afraid I’d attack her.” Nova looks over to him, grimacing a bit. “I gotta keep that shit in mind. Jigger’s my friend an’ I’d like him at my side. I think he would support me, but she might take it th’ wrong way. An’ he’s… well, he’s optimistic, y’know? You saw it. If she got angry enough to… say or do th’ wrong thing. I gotta think about that. For th’ wing’s sake. For his sake. For hers. Even if…”
Astraea shrugs, “Even if it has a negative impact on me. That’s th’ sorta thing you do for your wingmates, right? You take th’ hit for ‘em.” She looks down to her drink. “I miss my family, but it’s th’ same for them. Seein’ them might put them or even th’ whole clan at risk. It’s weighing what I want versus what could hurt other people. I’m just one person.”
The way that Nova explains it is certainly complicated, and Kell is trying to wrap his head around it. For now, he just drinks the glass of juice, perhaps a healthy distraction, even if it’s momentary. “It could just be the alcohol talking, she was pretty plastered from what I saw. Maybe Jigger is right, just be optimistic. You’ve done no wrong, so you shouldn’t be worried. If she has worries in her mind, she can see the Doc.” Razor’s solution, it seems, is always within the military family, whether it be the superior officers, squadron mates, or military doctors, he feels that the answer is always here. On whether it would be good or bad for her clan seeing her again, Kell has no response for that. An unknown that he knows absolutely nothing about, nor able to make any plausible assumptions. “If you can’t see them, maybe just write your brother? To tell him you are all right, and hear that he is all right?
“Maybe. It just… hurts, Razor. Havin’ a member of th’ squadron thinkin’ I’d hurt them.” Astraea taps a finger against her glass, shaking her head as she looks over to him. “You’d hate it, too. Drunk or no. It’s a miserable feelin’.” She lifts her juice for a drink. “Don’t see her goin’ to th’ doc easily, not since she thinks I’m the issue.” There’s a purse of lips as she considers the letter option.
“That might be possible. Could ask someone to deliver it to him, since mailin’ it could be problematic.” There’s a look over to the Libran and a tilt of her head. “I’ll ask Jigger, but if he won’t, would you? It’s just one of th’ next islands over.”
There is no argument from Kell about that, “Yeah, I know what you mean, Nova. It would hurt me too, especially after we went through as a squadron. The only thing you can do though is just be you, don’t change as long as you aren’t doing anything wrong. You are a damn good pilot and you are who you are.” When Astraea considers the possibility of starting things with just a message, Kell nods his head, accepting the job as a backup messenger if need be, “Sure, I’m not going back to Libran so I’m sure I will have some free time. Unless you guys drown me after the ceremony today, then you gotta find yourself another messenger.”
“Some days, I ain’t entirely sure who I am,” Astraea admits with a brief smile at Kell. There’s some sadness in it, but it shows appreciation for his words nonetheless. She finishes off her juice, looking to him as he agrees. There is, however, a small laugh for his final words. “Drown you in alcohol, maybe.” She gets to her feet, offering a hand out for his glass. There’s a look to the door, then back to the Libran pilot.
“I’m gonna go down for a walk on the beach before th’ ceremony. Would you join me?”
Kell inclines his head when Astraea gives her admission. Then he laughs as well as she speaks of drowning in alcohol, “That was exactly what I meant.” The invitation, however, is declined with a shake of his head, “I would like to but I have to unpack and make sure everything is in order. Gotta make sure my dress uniform made it without issue, kept it in protective wrapping back on the Vanguard so hopefully it’s good to go. I will see you at the christening event though and the ceremony.”
“I’m sure if it ain’t there, you can talk to th’ Major about gettin’ one. No one’s gonna let you show up to th’ceremony without a proper dress uniform.” Astraea looks mildly amused. “Th’ fleet wouldn’t allow it, even if I would just to see you squirm.” There’s a hint of teasing in her voice, but even she wouldn’t be so cruel.
The woman steps around the table, pausing by his chair. “Offer is there if you want. I’m gonna go change first, in case I decide to go for a swim. No tellin’ when I’ll next get th’ chance, y’know?” She lingers briefly before leaning down to quickly kiss his cheek. “Thank you, Razor. I’ll see you tonight."