AWD #003: Considering the Implications
Considering the Implications
Summary: Several of Orion's pilots attend a film session in the ready room, and the conversation keeps coming back to the Cylons.
Date: 07/01/2013
Related Logs: Into The Fire
Cole Holtz Jess Phin Keller Bennett 
Ready Room
Capable of seating every member of the wing with space to spare in its stadium organization, the Ready Room has more than two hundred seats and is the largest room on the ship dedicated to single briefings. Sections of desks were manufactured specifically for this and wrap the width of each level of seating, rolling leather seats positioned at even points through each row. The walls have the tenant squadrons' patches painted on individual panels as well as a Kill Board up to the left side of the dais and podium, the Training Board on the other side to log progress. At the rear hatch, on a barren section of wall, is the framed and cased photo of 'Bad Dog' Ruegger.
AWD #03

The Ready Room is quiet, caught some place between the changing of shifts and the normal throng of bodies has dwindled to just Aristides "Janitor" Cole, seated at one of the tables near the front of the room. He's off-duty, but probably just, if the half shed flightsuit is any indication. A plastic jar of peanut butter is palmed in one hand, and distractedly Ari digs in the interior with the scrape of a spoon. His eyes are focused on nothing, just the space beyond the immediate space.

It's precisely because of that lull in activity that Holtz is making his way into the ready room. His own eyes are just a trifle bloodshot, and his cheek and jawline have a thin layer of stubble. He's got a manila folder and a small stack of computer disks under his arm; he's making his way towards the video projector in the room before he notices the presence of another. Storm pauses; finally he offers the other pilot a brisk nod. "Janitor." Another pause, and Holtz considers the other man's distant expression. "You there?"

"Are any of us really /here/?" Ari is kidding, of course, based on the small smirk he shoots Holtz over his shoulder. Boot heels press into the ground and he pushes himself a little straighter in the chair. "How's it going, Stormy? And feel free to say 'like shite', because that seems to be the common concensus. Shite. What a pretentious way of saying excrementos." Like the version in his native Scorpian tongue is any different. "Shite. Shite." He repeats the word, trying to make his mouth form the more Virgan form of the word. "Mmph." He mutters, spooning out another heap of peanut butter.

Jess is just off-duty as well, flight-suit unzipped but not yet shed, still flushed and mussed, but not in the attractive way those words imply since it actually involves helmet hair she's still fixing and red marks on her neck where the seal collar has been pressing into the skin for too long. "Ari, you frak," she says as she comes in, "Did you ta— you have got it, I knew it," she says, spotting the peanut butter in the pilot's hands. "If you finish that I will punch you in the nads," she threatens. "Oh, hi Storm."

"As good a word as any." Holtz gives a short, humorless chuckle as he gives the other man another measuring look, and then rummages around in a pocket for a moment. He produces a small flask, and offers it to Cole. "'Ere, have a nip. Better for what ails ya than peanut butter." It's… well, whatever it is, it's strong and it's green. He turns as Jess bounds into the room. "Hey, Nags," he greets her, giving her a quick once over. "Still quiet out there?"

Ari's eyes tick from Holtz' down to the flask and back up, "Naughty Storm." Drinking on Condition Two. Tsk. But Cole seems less concerned with this then with his next confession. "Don't drink." Twisting around to spy the incoming Jess, ready to do battle landings ON HIS HEAD for stealing his peanut butter, he merely spoons another big glop and shoves it in his mouth before she can come close enough to wrestle it away. He's even cringing back and trying to protect the jar in anticipation. "How eth do you ethpect me to get pwotein?"

"Same as it's been," Jess confirms to Holtz before making a move to recover her peanut butter. "You could suck your own dick," she suggests Cole, sitting on the edge of the table and reaching over to give his head a shove and try to snag it back from his grasp. It may involve some prying his arms from around the jar. She eyes Holtz's flask for a second during this process, before advising, "Duke's been so up on readiness even before this I doubt he's the sort of overlook drinking on Condition Two. Might want to keep that out of sight."

"Ain't touched the shit since it all went down, believe me. Janny here looked like he needed a knock, is all. You didn't see him when I came in." Holtz might not be the perfect little soldier, but he's no dummy. The flask disappears back into the pocket from whence it came, and it's small enough not to make any unseemly bulges. "But maybe a knock on the head'll do just as well." It's a jest, if a dry one. He peers down at Jess for a long moment, his expression looking remarkably like that of a ruffled parent. "Lecturing me now, are you, Karlsson?" he asks mildly with a tiny, not-quite smile, addressing her as he did in training before she had either callsign or lieutenant's pins.

Ari is defending his stolen prize mightily by bapping Jess with the heel of his spoon, but eventually it gets reliquished to her greedy, grabby hands after they knock about a bit. "If I could suck my own dick, I'd never leave my bunk. You'd have to roll me to briefings. And then my breath would smell like yours." He gives the spoon a good long lick and then sticks it back in the jar that Jess now possesses. "Frak me, now I have to go wank thinking about your mouth. If there is a wet spot on your pillow when you get back to berthings, just revel in my liquid love." Kidding? Probably.

And just missing the beginning flask conversation, Phin wanders into the Ready Room. He's in flight gear but it's unzipped and sans helmet, so it's unclear if he's here in some on-duty capacity or is just…wandering around. He does not miss Cole's description of how he's spend his time if he was a little more bendy, however. "Oh. Uh. Hey, sirs."

"Ahg," Jess says as Cole licks the spoon even more and then sticks it back in the jar. She breathes on him exaggeratedly before turning back to say, "Never. Just looking out you down end up in the shit, Storm," to Holtz, "I— Ari, you are the worst," she gets distracted by the need to retort to her wingman, "I am almost out of pillow cases. You know I can't sleep on them anymore after you do that, I have to add them to my shrine to you. It's becoming a firehazard." She eats a spoonful of rescued peanut butter, and so doesn't actually greet Phin, just waving.

There's laughter from Ari that doesn't quite ring true, but the heaviness of the days prior still hangs thick on the ship. He trots up the aisle to make his escape and possibly find some yogurt to further this joke, giving Phin an air elbow on the way out.

Holtz is down at the front of the room, not far from where Cole and Jess are having their War of the Peanut Butter Jar. The folder and disks in his hand get tossed down onto the table; some of the documents in the folder spill out as he does so. They look like various training materials, stamped with the CFAB Nike Flight School logo and various dates ranging from five to ten years ago. The disks, meanwhile, each have a sticker scrawled with a name and a date — most of them from over forty years ago. "But think of all the girls you'd disappoint if you could do it yourself," he jeers at Cole with the slightest of smirks. "Wouldn't be the first time," he admits dryly to Jess a heartbeat later. "But yeah, now'd be a pretty bad time to end up in hack." As Phin enters, Holtz throws off a jaunty two-fingered salute. "Hey, Dolly, come on down."

Phin cracks a faint smile, and juts out his own air elbow to ward off Cole's, as the man passes. Eyes skim the flight board. Whatever information it might provide was probably his reason for coming here. But his concentration quickly shifts from it to the lieutenants. "Where'd you get the peanut butter?" he asks Jess. As he goes to sit he says to Holtz, "In case I didn't say it before, man, that was hellish flying yesterday. I mean, in a good way. I mean, you probably saved my ass so…thanks."

Some of that heaviness seems to settle back on Jess as Cole makes good his escape, and she turns back to her peanut butter for a moment of silent eating before looking up at Holtz and Phin again. "Brought it with me," she tells the ensign, "He stole it out of my locker." She leans over to get a look at the disks and files and then arches a brow, "From the War?" she guesses, and then pauses, amends, "The First War?"

"Yeah, well, it'd be pretty shitty of me to lose a wingman first thing back in the cockpit after five years, huh? Don't mention it." Clearly not the best at accepting praise gracefully, is our Storm. Holtz grimaces as Jess is forced to amend her statement, and nods. "Yeah. Remember all that footage we used to analyze in classes?" Her, him, Dolly, and every other nugget since the Armistice, really. Study the lessons of the last war to prepare for the next one, and all that. After all, it's not like anyone thought another war with the Cylons was impossible. "Wanted t' get a fresh look, and compare it with some of the gun camera tracks we took during the big scrum. Something about those… things…" He can't quite bring himself to call them Raiders. "… we fought out there is bothering the hell out of me."

Phin inclines his head to Holtz, not dwelling or being effusive with the thanks. He sinks into a chair. "The Cylon War?" He can't quite make his brain call it 'first.' Not yet, at any rate. He slouches, watching it. "Shit. It's just…it's surreal. I figured I'd never see a toaster. Half my professors back at the Academy were talking about streamlining. How to make the military relevant in an 'age of Colonial unity.'" It's not said with any sort of mockery. He plainly believed it as much as anyone else. "Bothering you? You mean…other than that they were there at all?"

Jess nods at Holtz, agreeing, "Seems wise. Not that these things look anything like what I've seen of the war. Bet they upgraded. Makes me wonder how people were so quick to know they were Cylons, but— I guess what else would they be?" She shrugs, and eats her peanut butter, a smaller spoonful this time, easier to talk around. "Bothering you? Like what?"

"Well. Yeah, besides that." Holtz flushes momentarily at Dolly's last, his accent thickening with a bit of what almost sounds like embarrassment. The rest, he addresses with only a snort, giving a possible hint of how he must have felt about the 'streamlining' policy. "What else indeed?" That's directed at Jess, though it sounds more rhetorical than anything else. "Here, lemme try and show ya what I mean." He pops one of the disks into the computer and brings up the footage. It shows a small fleet engagement, a Colonial battlestar along with its screening ships and Viper contingent going up against a yo-yo shaped basestar and its small fleet of flying-wing Raiders.

"We know that Centurions piloted those things during the war," he says, his booming Instructor Voice coming to the forefront as he points at the screen. "They had disadvantages and advantages compared to our Vipers, but for the most part we were playing the same game." The video indicates what Holtz means; despite the Centurions at their helms, the old-style Raiders more or less maneuvered and used tactics similarly to their Colonial opponents. "But then, let's look at what we saw out there the other day…" There's a brief pause as he accesses the computer once more, working to bring up one of the pieces of gun camera footage taken by Orion or her fighters during the Warday battle.

Phin rolls his head toward Jess, shrugging. "I mean, they're walking and flying chrome toasters, right? Much as you upgrade that, that's still a Cylon." He does lean forward as Holtz talks, though. Adding nothing to it himself just yet. Just watching, and listening to the more experienced pilots.

"The ones on the ground, the Centurion toasters, sure," Jess says to Phin, "But those ships were pretty different." She turns to watch the screen when Holtz cues up the video, sucking absently on her spoon as she considers. "They don't fly like us," she agrees even before the newer footage has begun to roll, "Their tactics weren't like ours, didn't move like we do. You're right that they used to. Must've upgraded their software, too."

"Come on, dammit…" Holtz mutters to himself, or possibly the computer, as he rummages through the Orion's database. Finally, he finds what he's looking for — camera recordings from one of Orion's Raptors, the namestamp at the bottom corner reading B STCLAIR. The former instructor nods with satisfaction as Jess pipes up. "My point exactly. Watch." The footage is a little grainy, but it's slightly better quality than what one would get from a Viper's gun camera. The trio can clearly make out a cloud of the new, crescent-shaped Raiders spewing from hangars in and around the spindle-shaped basestar's central column. "Look how they're maneuvering. It looks more like a flock of birds flying together than a combat formation."

And so it does; the fleet of fighters moves fluidly and almost as one, eschewing the tight formations of their Colonial adversaries. He switches to another camera feed, this time a Viper recording with the name C DELACROIX. This video shows Ceres in close combat with a Raider, which is juking and firing more erratically than any ship Holtz has ever seen. As Ceres maneuvers, short bursts of other dogfights can be glimpsed as well; the other Raiders are moving similarly, juking to and fro with seemingly little thought given to what the Colonials would consider conventional tactics. "Look how they're maneuvering. There's definitely something controlling them… but what?" Holtz pauses theatrically, continuing to watch as Raiders flit haphazardly about on the screen. "It's like… bugs zipping around a lamppost at night, or somethin'."

"I…don't know," Phin admits to Jess. "People just started saying 'Cylon!' 'Cylon!' and…" Shrug. "I mean, they've had forty years. We've kept building weapons. I guess they did, too." He leans a notch farther forward in his chair, elbows balanced on his legs, blue eyes intent on the vids Holtz loads up. "I mean…they think don't they? That's what artificial intelligence is. They can, like, make decisions and stuff." He lets out a low whistle. "Frak, they're fast…"

"They're machines," Jess says, "They have programming and— yes, artificial intelligence," she points at Phin, "They have developed tactics of their own. I mean, had the things not had AI and the ability to think for themselves none of this would have happened to begin with, would it?" She drums the convex side of the spoon against her lips as she watches the gun cam footage, saying, "I mean, you're right that there's certainly something controlling them, but I'm not sure why that's a surprise. How else would they fight at all?"

-Creaaaaaaaaaaaaak! WHIIIRRRRR THUMP!

The telltale sounds of the latch spinning and the hatch slamming open herald the arrival of yet another soul to the Ready Room. Lt. Keller, duffel bag slung over his shoulder as he clomps his way in. "Oho. Movietime?" He ventures, mildly, glancing askew at the footage.

"Artificial intelligence, no matter how good, no matter how adaptive, still has bounds. Remember that the Centurions were programmed to mimic human actions and reactions. They fought like hell, and yes, they did come up with tactics of their own, but they fought in patterns we recognized. Not like this." Holtz waves a hand at the screen as a Raider buzzes past the camera, juking and spinning like a madman.

"That… ain't quite what I meant, Karlsson. Of course there's something controlling them; what I'm wondering, though, is exactly what the frak it is. They look like machines, but they don't fight like machines. At least, they ain't fighting anything like the machines we remember. I mean, look at us. We might have shiny new battlestars and shiny new Vipers, but you can reconcile what they can do with what our war-era stuff could do. But this?" Holtz tilts his head, indicating the odd movements of the Raiders with a wave of his hand, and looks at Phin and Jess. "What's that suggest to you?" A look at Keller as the ECO tramps in.

"Hey, Sandwich," Phin says, turning his head briefly from the footage to look over his shoulder at Keller. "Kind of. Storm pulled up some footage of the attacks over Caprica. It's surreal, watching it again." He frowns as he listens to Holtz. "You mean like…they've got a new leader or something?" He can't seem to fathom what this might be, though it clearly unsettles him. "I mean…I guess that'd be one reason they'd do this now after waiting forty years but…"

"They've had forty years, Holtz," Jess replies dryly, sliding off the table, "So they figured out some new tricks. It's probably some fancy new algorithm or something that having a bunch of computers for brains instead of just brains like us let them come up with." She shrugs, "I mean, we've got to figure out how to beat it, but I don't get what you're getting at, otherwise. Anyway, I need to get changed before I'm back on shift all over again. See you guys around." She waves a spoon at her fellow officers, and departs with her peanut butter.

"Good thing we were doing /something/ for the last forty years, right?!" Keller chirps, as chipper as can be, without anything resembling a real smile as he clomps in and grabs the nearest empty chair that he can get a decent film footage vantage point from, settling in with a gentle THUD.

Bennett wanders into the ready room in her flight suit, like most of the wing these days, either on her way to a patrol or recently having come off of one. The heels of her palms are scrubbed against her eyes as she heads for the front of the room, where the log book and duty rotations are posted.

"Your guess is as good as mine, Dolly," Holtz admits. He's down at the front of the room, pacing in front of the video screen with his hands clasped behind his back as he addresses the seated pilots in front of him. There's a sigh of frustration. "I don't know, Nags, that's why I came down here," he calls out in his booming, gravelly baritone after the departing pilot. "Maybe you're right… maybe it is just logical progression. Some new robot trick. But if we don't figure out what they've got, and what they can do — and how they do it — we're all gonna end up like those poor dumb fraks in orbit around Caprica. And I'd rather not, personally. Someone's gotta start somewhere, and it beats moping in my rack." He shrugs. Then, he notices Bennett's entrance, and he nods to the captain.

Phin starts to reply to Keller but, on reflection, doesn't seem sure how to. So he just offers a, "Hey, sir" to incoming Bennett. At of mention of all those deadened over Caprica, he frowns. Saying nothing more, and focusing on the screen.

"Nnghhh," is the first thing St. Clair says, a soft mumble that could be either sleepiness or a headache coming on. The second is, "Hello, Storm. What's this about robot tricks?" She hops up on the table where the log book sits, and lightly pats down her flight suit's myriad pockets for a pen. What she finds is her pack of smokes, and duly distracted, pulls them out to light one up.

"I guess that's what I don't get — those things flew like nothing I've ever seen." Keller says, interjecting like nobody's business, slumping in his seat and looking up at the screen. "You see their lateral turn radius? Way beyond anything we're capable of. Which I get when you consider they're less likely to get crushed by high-g maneuvers. But they still die. As we saw. How did they /dismantle/ all those Battlestars? How?"

Keller amends, pointing at the screen and then turning back to Bennett. "Oh, uh — /those/ tricks. I guess, Butch." He says, nonplussed.

Holtz's darkening mood really isn't directed at one person in particular, but it's apparent nonetheless as he falls silent and watches the screen play. "That's what I'm sayin'. Shit isn't natural," he murmurs half to himself as a Raider pulls off a turn that looks like it would create a g-force sufficient to crush a human pilot. He nods to Keller, then turns to Bennett. "Just trying to make some sense of what we saw out there, Captain," he says to the Raptor driver. "Those suckers're — well, Sandwich said it." He takes a closer step to the screen, his eyes narrowing as he watches a Raider pull off yet another impossible maneuver. "Would love to see what makes those suckers tick…" he mumbles.

"I just don't get…why now?" Phin asks. Everyone and no one in particular. Those aren't answers he's likely to find in the footage Holtz dug up. "Why sit behind the Armistice Line all these years and do nothing and now…" Shrug.

Chewing on her lip slightly, Bennett studies the footage for a time. Blue eyes crinkle softly at the corners, a testament to the fact that her girlhood days are long past. Finally, she drags off her newly-lit smoke and murmurs, "My guess is neural networks of some kind. Hydromechanical actuators, far more streamlined design than our vipers. Basically, if it can think it, it can do it." Her gaze shifts back to Holtz. "The question is, can it think?"

"First Cybernetic engineer in the room, raise their hand to answer that one." Keller says, half-lifting his own hand lazily above his back and then above his head. "Yeahhh uh…./no/." He drops it with a resounding thud and a 'popping' sound made by his mouth. "It's thinking well enough to fly and kill. Thing I don't get though is — we have that nice cozy station where the Cylons are invited once a year to show up and discuss grievances. And it's so /cute/ too. So if they're thinking, I wouldn't put much stock in their logic systems."

"Maybe our frakking card just came up," Holtz mutters. "Who knows why those metal motherfrakkers do anything?" He looks up abruptly at Bennett when she asks her question, and then over at Keller as he answers it, his pacing coming to a stop. "Yeah, and each year we send a man and they send nothing. Maybe they're not interested in talking. They sure weren't a couple days ago." Eyes back to the screen. He looks like he's about to volunteer an answer to Bennett's question… but his mouth just hangs slightly open, his brain coming up with nothing.

"I was a History major," Phin says with a sheepish half-grin to Keller. "So, no joy. Which is kind of…I mean, the first time it was about revenge, basically. It's awful, but you look at what led up to it, you can make sense of it. This…we haven't heard anything from them in four decades. Or them us, far as anyone knows." Pause. "Anyone I know about, at least." To Bennett, he shrugs. He certainly can't answer that.

"I'm inclined to agree with Storm," Bennett points out, sucking in a lungful of smoke. Her eyes are red-rimmed, and have been almost perpetually this past couple of days. The fumarella or whatever she's smoking probably isn't helping her slightly disheveled appearance any. "What if they do not wish to discuss grievances. Their actions thus far seem not unlike those of a petulant child." A brief, curious glance for Phin. "History major?" She summons a faint smile. "I think you may be the first history major cum viper jock I have ever met, doll." The last word is spoken sotto voce, lower case d.

"Mmmm. Yeah. I mean, I know what it's like to have your ass stuffed in mind-numbing, repetitive jobs." Keller notes to Phin as he begins to idly chew a pen. "Not enough to actually drown entire nations in blood and fire, to put it in a sorta grandiose way, but I get what you're saying. But now?" The tall ECO shrugs as he slumps even further in his chair. "Hey, I knew a Viper Jock who was a history major when I was up on the Bitch. Of course, she's a horrible person. Not like Dolly here." He smirks, however simply.

For now, the group seems to have gotten whatever they were going to get out of the video recordings, so Holtz shuts off the projector. "You saying that they torched the colonies out of some temper tantrum, Butch? Not sure I want to even touch the implications, there." That's not a pleasant thought — the Cylons going from logical, unfeeling machines to temperamental children. "History?" Holtz raises an eyebrow. "That's a new one on me. Though I did once meet a Viper stick who used to be a computer programmer. Must've raised nine kinds of hell to keep 'em from sticking him in the back of a Raptor."

Phin's grin quirks some at Bennett. "I heard the Navy liked hard science degrees for the pilot track, but I figured my grades'd be better if I went for a bachelor's in something I was interested in." Keller's remark gets a chuckle. "We don't know each other that well yet, sir. But thanks. The ancient history students drove me nuts, if that's what she was. Really dry, which draws the pretentious types. I was mostly into pre-unification. More arguments, but fewer assholes." As for the Cylons, another shrug. "Maybe Command'll figure out something soon that'll tell us more about…why."

Bennett lifts one shoulder in a delicate shrug to Holtz's question, and continues to study the screen long after the gun footage still vanishes. Her smoke is touched to her lips again, blue eyes slipping back to Phin. "I admire that," she offers sincerely. Flick, flick to the filter of her cigarette, peppering the deck with a dusting of ash. Good thing Bumper isn't here to ream her out for it. "If I'm honest, I didn't want to do much besides fly. I went mechanical engineering, and barely made the cutoff for fleet academy." She smiles wryly.

"And to think, I told someone I was just here for the hardship pay." Keller observes, languidly as he stretches his legs out, kicking his heels against the floor and staring at the screen. "Dolly - you nailed it. She was a little obsessed with pre-Exodus theories. Well, that and Tauron Unification. But she was Tauron. Ummm — you know how it is."

"You were luckier than I was, then," Holtz says wryly to Bennett. "Had to get my gold pins the hard way. Enlisted, then OCS," he explains. His nose twitches at the scent of her cigarette smoke, and he looks at the cancer stick for a second. But then Keller speaks, and the smoke is forgotten. Holtz narrows his eyes at the ECO's comment about Taurons. "Oh, go pound sand," he says evenly, looking… well, sort of offended. But not much.

"I hear that, sir," Phin says to Bennett, about just wanting to fly. "I never figured I'd get accepted to the Academy, actually, but once I did I figured I might as well get as much out of it as I could. Education-wise." He makes a "Heh" sound at mention of Taurons. "Yeah. I can imagine. That's what was interesting about it, I guess. To me. How we've got this idea of what our society's supposed to look like but…it's not like that. And you can still kind of follow the cracks back and see why. Like, we've got the Quorum and people talk like we're this solid unified thing, but it's only been forty years, and a lot of places still can't agree on how they want to be a part of it. Or, well, they couldn't. That's all different now."

Bennett is not unaware of Holtz's eyeing her smoke. She withdraws her pack and taps one out for him. The catch: he's going to have to come and get it. "You shouldn't sell yourself short," she tells Phin gently. "You've got some real skill, you know. And I don't tell that to every pilot." Puff, puff. "Just the pretty ones." It's a weak joke, but when morale is this low, anything goes.

"Which? The — oh yeah. Sorry, man." Keller looks over at Holtz, sheepishly. "If it's any consolation, she was hot. But I was married. And she looked like she could use a knife. Wait a minute, you of /all/ people should know how that goes." The big guy's grin suddenly flashes bright and fades as soon as it appeared.

"And you're telling me about this fractious thing." He nods to Phin now. "Half my family's from a place that would drag its feet about not even being /from/ a Colony. Hibernia was like that though. Moon people would bitch and moan about Virgon and try to claim ties to Aquaria, Tauron, Libran — half a dozen places not even realizing they didn't have the first damn clue what those places were /like/." He waves his hand a little, banishing the topic. For some reason now, he cranes his head towards Bennett and flashes her a wink. For apparently no reason.

"It makes you wonder what would've happened if it hadn't been for the Cylon Wars," Phin says to Keller. "Like, if Caprica and Tauron would've really gone at each other, and if a place like Picon had been able to form a bloc with planets like Leonis to kind of push for dominance in the system or…" Shrug. "It's just interesting to think about it sometimes. It's all hypothetical now." He might blush, just a little, at Bennett's comment. "I'm still here, sir. I guess that's something." Something that isn't an entirely chipper thought for the ensign. He stands. "Anyway, I should hit the showers before I'm due back on again. Let me know if you turn up anything in that footage, Storm. It was seriously weird to watch, but I don't really have the head for stuff like that."

Holtz eyes Bennett again, and shakes his head. "Nah, 's okay, sir… I quit years a— " And just like that, he cuts himself off and considers. "You know what? Frak it. I don't see my ex anywhere." He takes a few steps over towards her and accepts the offered cigarette. "Keep talking, and I'll show you some time." His voice is down to a growl, but the amusement in his eyes belies his aggressive tone. The sudden tension in his body dissolves as he looks back to the Raptor captain. "Gotta light?" He looks to Phin with a shrug. "Yeah, well. Like I told Nags, I dunno what I expect to get out of it… but if something occurs to me, I'll let you know."

And Bennett, by the looks of her, doesn't have the head for wrangling politics, given her hesitance to chime in on blocs and alliances and Colonial wars. She lifts her free hand in a wave to the ensign, then rolls her eyes dramatically when Holtz asks for a light. "Sure, Lieutenant, but it'll cost you." She's just handing it over when she spots the wink from Keller. A brow is arched in return, expression faintly amused.

Wink? Shrug. That's Keller's go-to response here as his big shoulders rise and fall. "I've got nothing, I suppose. Nothing." He returns to chewing his pen, crossing his right leg upon his left knee and staring at the screen. "Humanity's pretty good at being balls-out stupid and destroying itself. Which is probably why it's a good thing some of us are where we are. Some of us have to have a clue, yeah?" He waves a hand at Phin lazily.

"Not me, sirs, but some of us," Phin chuckles, with a two-fingered wave that passes as a salute to his superiors. "Later." And off he goes.

Holtz snorts. "Heh. Name your price, then, Captain. Just know it'll take a lot more than a cigarette to get me to wash yer dirty laundry." He chuckles, momentarily proud of his own wit… such as it is. "See ya, Dolly," Holtz offers to the younger pilot, returning the gesture.

"You're very odd," Bennett remarks finally, after a thoughtful pause to ruminate upon what Keller's said. She finally scribbles a couple of lines in the log book she originally came here for, clicks her pen off, and hops down from the table she'd been perched on. "But I imagine you must be an entertaining backseater, at the least." She even summons up a grin, dimple and all. "I think I'm going to hit the showers." Blue eyes drift back to Holtz. "And then think up something suitably extortionary for our viper jock, here." She pauses. "Is that a word? Extortionary?"

"I don't know about the former and you'd have to ask someone like Dropout 'bout the latter, Captain. It'll only be a matter of time until you're saddled with me." Keller says apologetically towards Butch as he turns to idly watch Phin leave, with a half-wave. "I like that kid. He's got something I wish I had. Don't know what it is though. Not specifically." "Anyway, sorry about yesterday. I used to serve with Thumper. We go back a ways and right now, familiarity is something that —" His glib smirk goes away and then he descends into something somewhat – pensive.

"I'm no frakkin' dictionary. Sir." Holtz smirks at Bennett, almost as if taking pride in his ignorance of the matter. Though, if the way he talks is any indication, it doesn't sound like something he ever worries about, himself. "You know the Pyramid jock, huh?" That to Keller. Storm might be built like a Pyramid blocker, but he himself never played. A frown, as he connects the name to a face. Or, in this case, a ship. "The guy got shot up pretty bad in the furball out there. He doing all right?"

Bennett pauses enroute to the hatch, apparently having forgotten that she's not retrieved her lighter from Holtz. "Sorry.. for what?" It's unclear whether the apology was intended for her, but her question stands, long fingers fussing briefly with the floppy helmet-head bun that's threatening to collapse. Pyramid player? That explains a lot.

Tap. Tap. Tap. Taking the pen out of his mouth, Keller starts thwapping it against his chair arm and he cranes his head over his shoulder ato address Holtz. And then Bennett. "Yeah. That's the one. That guy's a pain in the ass but if he's in your corner, he's in your corner forever. Ex-wife always thought he was good people, for all she'd bitch about him." He chortles a bit, shallowly, and then falls silent and oddly pensive.

"'Ey, Butch, you missin' something?" Holtz holds up said lighter, the now-lit cigarette dangling from his lips. He lobs it in her direction, and then takes a long pull, a plume of smoke escaping his lips a heartbeat later. The Viper pilot lets out a contented sigh, even as he stifles a cough; it has been almost a decade since his last one, anyway. He starts gathering up his materials from the table, slipping the documents back into the folder and stacking his disks.

<FS3> Bennett rolls Reaction: Success.

Holtz is lucky the captain's a pilot. Albeit one of those slacker bus drivers. She catches the lobbed lighter, barely, almost drops it— and snags it before it hits the floor. He's given a look before she ducks out the hatch. Maybe she's going to come up with something extra extortionary.

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