AWD #254: The Next Crop
The Next Crop
Summary: Kelsey talks to Bennett about taking on more responsibility.
Date: 17/09/2013
Related Logs: None.
Bennett Kelsey 
Raptor Squad Berths
The berthings for the Orion's Air Wing are the same as what one would find on any other Mercury-class Battlestar, though they are distinctly different from the rest of the bunks on the ship. These bunks are separated not into sections of sixty, but by squadron. That means that there is a little more room to move around with only twenty to twenty-five pilots in one bunkhouse. Some officers have brought a small rug to sit in front of their bunks, but the tables and chairs are standard military issue. At the rear is a small couch that was probably new when the ship left anchorage and seems to have been kept carefully clean. The crest of the Gentlemen Ghosts has been painted onto the wall behind the couch, as well.
AWD #254

There's a faint strain of music coming from someone's bunk, and the scent of tea that's been steeping for some time, mingled with fumarella. Bennett is not the owner of the music, but she most definitely is the one with the smoke between two fingers, sprawled on her back in her bunk, and distinctly sans uniform. She's in her skivvies and tanks, to be precise, and has a stack of ignored paperwork beside her while she gazes up at her bunkmate's slats.

Kelsey comes on into the berths in her blues, looking smart. She's been off the roster today by request to get some of her own paperwork done. There's a binder under her hand and a cup of coffee in the other as she heads over towards Bennett's bunk. She looks a bit hesitant at seeing the Captain sprawled out and relaxing but stops there anyway. "Hey Cap. I hate to bug you on your down time but I was hoping maybe we could talk about some career stuff for me? Or should I come back later?"

Bennett turns her head against the pillow when she hears the hatch open, blue eyes tracking Kelsey across the room. A smile blossoms on her pensive features. "No, no, it isn't any bother, Wescott." With a soft sigh, she swings her legs around and drops her feet to the deck, dark hair sticking up every which way before it's nominally tamed by fingers raked through it. "What can I help you with?" Her gaze drifts to the binder.

Kelsey steps back to allow the Captain down. She takes a moment to straighten her uniform while Bennett is distracted with the hop. Ahem. The Cap might even catch the tail when of her straightening the tunic or rank pins. She eventually holds up the binder for Bennett to read. Pre-Flight and Flight Mechanics. Its a training manual, something Kelsey hasn't had to look at in more than five months. "Sir, I wanted to talk to you about my career path if that's okay? I know people are proud of me and that I'm supposedly contributing." She's a little nervous, but its the good kind Bennett probably knows well. Wescott isn't scared of talking to Bennett anymore. She's nervous because she doesn't know how to approach this and its very likely that there is zero surprise from Benners because Kelsey never went to the Academy and OCS was a joke for her due to needing pilots and …Zach taught her. "But I want to be more. Remember I said I got to lead finally? Well it felt great. Amazing. But I don't want to just me Ensign Wescott who occasionally someone forgets isn't a Lieutenant. I'd like to be more. I know that's hard for an Ensign but…" She's still here.

Bennett isn't even wearing a uniform to straighten, so there's probably nothing for Kelsey to worry about on that front. She does think to dig a pair of fatigues out from a pile of freshly folded laundry — still warm from the dryer — and pulls them on while the ensign speaks. "Of course it's okay." A glance to the title of the binder, then back to Kelsey with a raised brow. By the time she pauses for air, St. Clair has a contemplative look on her face. "More responsibility?" she asks. "Or more, as in you wish to cross qualify in something else?" The slight press of her lips pretty clearly says she hopes it's not that.

Whew. Bennett is okay with this. Wescott seems to chill out a little with the nervousness and a deep breath solves a lot more. She sips at the coffee and places the binder on the table. The questions get a slow shake of her head. "I have no interest in cross-qualifying, sir. I'm in the position I want to be, flying. I don't want to backseat and Vipers are flown by insane boys." That last part is said with the assurance of the opposing sex that only a plucky twenty-one year old could have. "I'd like to take on more responsibility, sir. I feel confident and I believe that I can do it. It also means I have an excuse to tell some people to do their own damned paperwork for once." Mmmhmm.

Bennett merely grins at the comment about insane boys, but doesn't offer her own opinion on the matter. Might be that she's inclined to agree. "All right," she answers, grin sobering to a warm smile. "Responsibility, I can work with. We have some very strong aircrew in the squadron, but as I am sure you understand, Wescott, there is more to being a pilot than climbing into a cockpit. I have actually been thinking recently of.. having you officially designated as Ordnance Officer. It would require approval from the CAG, of course, but I do not see any problem with that." She ashes her cigarette before speaking again. "It would also require that you receive some additional training, likely including some shifts up in CIC.. and, of course, the ability and willingness to devote some of your duty time to working with the deck crew." Well, at least it's her old digs.

Kelsey listens closely. She still looks young, but she's too young to have see nwhat she's seen. Deep behind those bright blue eyes there's been severe emotional and psychological trauma. At least she doesn't wake up crying anymore. But there she is, standing tall and asking for more. A lot can happen in nine months. "I'd be more than happy to take the position, sir. Its not the prettiest job, but it needs doing. And if you want me to learn other avenues, let me know." She stands there for an awkward moment and looks to the binder, then back. "Any chance I could, you know, get qualified? To instruct?" Being offered the other position isn't why she had the binder. She knows it. Bennett probably knows it. But she'll never know until she asks.

<FS3> Kelsey rolls Lipwobbletosuccess!: Success.
<FS3> Bennett rolls Immunetolipwobble!: Failure.

"No, it is not the prettiest job," Bennett agrees, even-voiced. She brings her smoke to her lips and continues to study the younger pilot carefully, like she's waiting for something. Aaaaand.. there it is. "To instruct?" she repeats, brows arching up a fraction. "Is that what you came here to ask me, Wescott?" Not quite incredulous, but perhaps.. uncertain might best describe the look on her face.

Its not quite a wince, but she was hoping for a better response. Her eyes move to the side and down. She frets over lint on her uniform for a moment and makes a mess trying to restraighten it. Say what you will, she's trying. Even if she's trying too hard. Given the lack of formal training, can Bennett really blame her? Legions and eons of aircrews in Elysium are smacking their foreheads at this very moment. "Uhm." She doesn't know if she wants to ask anymore. "Maybe? If I did, would that be a possibility?"

Bennett keeps her gaze on Kelsey's face, even when she shifts her eyes away and starts picking at lint on her uniform. Smiling, the captain reaches over to smooth away a buckle in the fabric. It could come across as motherly, and.. maybe it is. "Everything is a possibility," she answers, smile fading to a more solemn look as she reclaims her spot on the edge of her bunk. "But if wishes were horses, as they say, then beggars would ride." A beat. "What do you plan on doing to get there?" The question is pragmatic, utterly serious. There is no sense whatsoever that she's teasing, playing games or leading the young woman along.

The touch from Bennett almost makes her jump at first but she calms with the gesture, realizing what it is after a moment. Kelsey sighs and looks up to her Captain as the woman sits. "I started rereading the training manuals and everything, sir. And I pulled my sim logs from start until I graduated. I started looking at which ones were which, why they were flown, things like that. What I need is someone to show me how to instruct and what to look for. I know I can stand in front of people, sir. I -know- I can." She has to try hard not to plead with that, but she's making a play. Desperation can be a stinky cologne. "But I want to start… I don't know." This obviously did not go as planned. "See," she lets it hang after a moment. Typical Kelsey False Start Failure. She flops into a chair and forgets to be formal. "I want to give back, sir. Someone taught me how to fly. I'm out there making a difference. I want to pay it back. I want to teach others how to fly. I want to work with people who are people like I was. People who are on Deck or Engineering or even someone who mops floors or cleans toilets. Non-standard officers, ya know? People who could be so much more but… they never got the chance. I want to pass along that magic."

Bennett sits quietly and listens while she continues to smoke. The woman looks tired, run ragged, but who isn't these days? A smile begins when Kelsey starts and stops and falters for words, and it grows into something genuinely warm by the time she's finished speaking. "You.." She laughs suddenly, though it isn't mean spirited. "Gods, where did you get your silver tongue from, Wescott?" She grinds out her smoke finally on the edge of her bunk, and plunks it into an empty cup set on her shelf that's already got a few cigarette butts littering it. "All right, then. If you are serious about this.. I will speak with Major Franklin about your intentions. In the meantime, I want you to speak with Captain Ommanney about putting together some recruitment packages. See if he has someone already working on it from his end, I am not too sure. Secondly.. forget about the training manuals for now, and start going over gun camera footage. Preferably with a senior officer. You can come back to the books later. Sit in on some training exercises and take copious notes. I am happy to help you out where I can, though I warn you, I am not much of a teacher." She pauses, breathes out softly. "This is not something I would feel comfortable pinning on anyone right away. It could take months; are you prepared for that?"

Kelsey almost goes Deer In The Headlights when Bennett laughs. She has no idea what she's doing and she's already working out her apology in her head when- Oh. Isn't 'Silver tongue' supposed to be a compliment. Why is she getting a compliment? Her mind peers at Bennett while her expression remains blank/terrified. Though this is all resolved by the time Bennett finishes. "Uh." Very eloquent. "Yeah, I'm totally cool with that. I figured it would take me awhile. But there's just one problem, sir." She glances to a particular bunk, then back. But she isn't going to say anything. "I'd prefer if I could learn from you, sir." Its not a secret Kelsey has always sort of idolized the Raptor Captain. "I'll do everything else, though. You betcha, sir." She sighs. "Spree wanted me to talk to this college sophmore and take her up on a ride. She's some kind of electrical engineer and she's been working on Raptors but real life happened. Works long hours, always tired, Spree was afraid we were wasting her." Nine months ago, that was Kelsey. "So I grabbed her and took her up. When I gave her the advice to submit a packet application, you hsould have seen the look in her eyes, sir. I cried later. I remembered that feeling. There aren't a lot of career paths anymore. Flying in the fleet, from the Orion, is probably the most prestigious thing most of our people my age can hope for with any realistic, short-term desire. Giving advice like that? Yanno, its saving souls, sir. We're delivering hope." She sniffs and looks down, wetting her lips. "I think her packet is probably going to be approved too, sir. She wants to be an ECO. Even after she barfed everywhere."

Bennett grins a little at Kelsey's story; her amusement is likely due to the bit about barfing at the end. "Yes, well, vomit is an unfortunate hazard of the job," she murmurs. "However, I am going to have to insist that you trust me, and learn from as many pilots as you can. Even the weaker ones." She meets Kelsey's eyes. "Especially the weaker ones. There is no other way to learn how to teach, I am afraid. Also, I need to know that you are capable of not only giving hope to those who genuinely have something to offer the wing, but can also identify those who are not cut out for this work. Which will be a large percentage of those who wish to do it. I enjoy a happy ending, too, Wescott, but you must be able to look someone in the eye and tell them they cannot hack it. There are lives riding on the line; the recruit's life, the lives of those they fly with, and the lives of those who ride in the back of their bus." Her gaze continues to hold Kelsey's, as if searching for some kind of uncertainty or reticence there.

Kelsey listens to that and it might be apparent that Kelsey hadn't thought about it like that. She had possibly looked at this as a way to counterbalance all the violence. But this is more than she realized. The Ensign sits there in the chair, looking back at Bennett and then the floor. That's a lot of responsibility. But in the end, she nods slowly. Saving lives by doing the hardest things nobody else can do. "Sir, you've never heard this before because I asked Petra not to tell anyone because I didn't want to be decorated. I just wanted to put it behind me. But its relevant now." She pauses, voice quiet. "When I was trapped on Picon with Colonel Petra and Captain Hallick, right before I hijacked our ride home, both the Captain and Colonel had been badly wounded. Neither were in good shape. They needed first aid and the only people that had it was a small camp of Marines we had just shot up. We knew some were still alive." She swallows. "I grabbed a pistol and ran down there. I shot two Marines in the head, sir. I even met their eyes. One asked for help. I shot her first. Then I took the bandages she was trying to use. It probably saved the Colonel and Captain's lives." Her eyes lift. "I know what its like to make choices that aren't about you and having the guts to make them on your own. It sucks. But we can't afford to quit. If I'd quit, you'd hve been down two Raptor pilots and Petra…" She couldn't imagine where they'd be without him. "I can do what you're asking. I won't like it, but I think it would be worth it."

Bennett is quiet again, content to let Kelsey mull that over a little and answer in her own time. Her cheek rests against the frame of her bunk, arms drawn about her midsection in about as far from an on duty posture as is possible. And by the time Kelsey gets to the meat of her story, Bennett is barely even blinking. There's a soft sound as she swallows, but years of training have taught her how to carefully school her expression into almost nothing. "Good," is all she says at the end. The word hangs between them for a few moments before she speaks again. "That is all I wanted to know. I will put you in touch with the current crop of hopefuls, then, and you may feel free to speak with them, and do as I've asked regarding the training material and study. I will let you know once I've spoken with Major Franklin." She licks her lips, which have suddenly gone dry. "Was there anything else, Wescott?"

Kelsey looks at the floor for a long few moments, waiting until Bennett asks her that at the end. She shakes her head slowly, confronting a buried memory again that she'd rather not have. "Thanks, sir. If its all the same I think I'm going to take some of the paperwork to Charlie's and get a drink." She looks up to Bennett and slowly rises. "Thanks for listening, Captain. I appreciate it."

Bennett flickers a smile and watches as Kelsey makes to stand. "Please do. I have you off the flight line until the late shift tomorrow, so feel free to stay the night down there if you like." She starts to say more, then hesitates.. and decides to say it, after all. "If you wish to talk.. about anything.. in a non professional context. I am here, Kelsey."

"Nah. I'll take my paperwork and catch the last bird back. I just need to get outta here for a bit. Sip a drink, do some reading." 21 going on 35. War ages everyone differently. She seems about to go when Bennett makes the offer. Squire doesn't look like she knows how to react and its about to get awkward… then she turns and gives Bennett a big hug, leaning in and squeezing. That seems to be the whole of her response. Was that an intent? Thanks-but-no-thanks? She holds there another moment before doffing from the embrace, turning for her binder, and slowly walking back off without allowing Bennett to see her expression. She'll be okay. Nobody has any choice anymore.

"All right," is the captain's soft reply to the first. The hug catches her by surprise, but she lifts her arms to return it at least. And if it's a thanks-but-no-thanks, it doesn't deter her from remaining right where she is as she watches Kelsey leave. Right where she said she'd be. She doesn't need to see the young woman's face to know what it holds. Eventually, she flops back down in her bunk and returns to ruminating on the slats above, and her unfinished paperwork beside her.

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