AWD #235: Going Down in History
Going Down in History
Summary: Bennett parks herself in the Viper berths, waiting for the DCAG. It seems she has a mission request from Lieutenant Commander Spree — one Atalanta doesn't consider particularly pleasant.
Date: 29/08/2013
Related Logs: Caprica Caper
Atalanta Bennett 
Viper 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 Lucky Strikes has been painted onto the wall behind the couch, as well.
AWD #235

It is unusual to find a bus driver camping out in here, but that is precisely what Captain St. Clair appears to be doing this evening. She's parked herself at the table in the centre of the room — that is, the table itself, in lieu of a chair — and is perusing her datapad while enjoying a smoke. She's dressed in crisp blues, suggesting she's here on official business, but her hair has been pulled into a ponytail and the top button on her jacket's undone, indicating she's technically off duty.

It is unusual to find a bus driver camping out in Viper country, but frankly, it's happened often enough that it doesn't strike Atalanta as odd. At least, not at first. Of course, that might be because she's got her nose buried in a notepad when she comes striding through the door, so it's pretty much a miracle she hasn't slammed into the edge of the hatch or something. She, too, is in her duty blues, though all of the buttons have been undone, leaving the tank-and-tee combo underneath exposed.

Bennett looks up when the hatch cranks open, and a smile blooms on her lips when she spots who's arrived. Target acquired. "Good evening, sir," she greets softly, booted feet hitting the deck with a muffled thump. The smoke, however, stays; she'll only bow so far to protocol, it seems. "I am sorry to ambush you like this, but.. I was hoping to speak with you."

"How serendipitous," she muses, almost absent-mindedly, before she finally tears her eyes up from the page. "I have one or two things to discuss with you, too, Captain." A beat, before both Atalanta's brows lift. "Is this a conversation that requires some privacy? If so, I've claimed an office on Deck One. I think you've already been by, once or twice."

Bennett's smile curves wider at those first words from the other woman, and there's an unmistakeable flicker of curiosity at what she says next. "Oh, no, as a matter of fact I have already taken the liberty of apprising the Ghosts on the general gist of things." She pauses, then elaborates, "I have received a request for a strike operation, from Commander Spree, sir." She's electing, apparently, to cut to the chase.

The cover of the notebook is flipped closed. Apparently, the words 'strike operation' and 'Commander Spree' have caught her full attention. Atalanta leans back against her locker, folding her arms across her chest, which leaves her no choice but to hug her now-closed notebook as though it were some sort of shield. "In regards to retaking Picon, I would assume?," she asks expectantly.

That notebook won't protect her. Bennett steps in closer, and passes Atalanta her datapad. "Yes, it concerns Picon. Here are the assets and intel I have received from her so far. She requests our assistance with a strafing run on Avery Hall, sir." Avery Hall, as in the place where it all started with this war. The raptor driver's expression is difficult to read beneath her professional mask of austerity, but she seems vaguely discomfited. "We are to destroy the target on the day of the Quorum of Twelve's swearing in ceremony, and there are to be no survivors."

Atalanta is silent for several long moments. It doesn't really matter, of course. She doesn't need to say anything at all. For once, her cold facade has broken, instead replaced with a slowly dawning… well, abject horror would be an exaggeration, but only a very a slight one. "Lords on the Mount," she eventually exhales, the breath coming from her so slowly, it's a wonder she hasn't started turning blue yet. "Why? Have all of them been compromised? Can she prove it?"

Bennett swallows, and shakes her head slowly. "I do not know, sir. I asked her if there was an alternative, and she maintained that there was not. She feels.." The raptor driver draws a steadying breath. "..she feels that the entire election is a setup by the cylons, designed to put their sympathisers in charge. I confess that I have a difficult time believing that every one of those men and women is part of the toasters' agenda, but I…" And here she is at a loss for words. "She places her trust in the word of a Nine." Difficult to say whether she finds this foolhardy or wise.

The DCAG doesn't lose her temper often. Frankly, if it weren't for the fact that she was introduced to most of the Wing with the Hebe briefing, it'd probably be difficult for them to believe she had one. But now her face crumples in on itself, brows furrowing and lips pinching tight. "Captain St. Clair, my family has served the Fleet, and the Caprican Navy before it, for well over two hundred years. Ten generations of Franklins, in an unbroken line, have worn this uniform. We have served in more wars than I care to count, under the orders of more presidents and prime ministers than I honestly know. For my entire life, I have been taught that the greatest glory anyone can ever hope to acheive is to die in service to the Colonies. If Lieutenant Commander Spree would like me to lead me my men into the capital to bring down what may be the last democratically elected government of mankind, if she wants me to allow my name, the Franklin name, to be written into our history as Quorom assassins," she cuts off, the volume of her voice raising slightly. "She had gods-damned well better have something to go on besides the word of some humanoid abomination."

There is utter and complete silence from the captain, as Atalanta speaks. Saint Clair does not back down, does not cower, though she likely damned well wishes she could, when her commanding officer gets that look on her face. Instead, her chin comes up a fraction, and her lips press into a solemn line as her eyes fix on some point slightly to the left of the major's. In fact, it is some time after Atalanta's finished that she chances to speak at all. Her voice does not have that finely honed edge that the other woman's possesses; it is softer, as always, like a balm to a deep cut. "I will ask her to speak with you herself, then, sir." Those brilliant blue eyes finally flick back to Atalanta's, and hold there steadily. "For what it is worth, the very notion of this mission makes me sick to my stomach. Although I.. do not know what to make of this Nine she trusts. It is true that we would not have succeeded in Adar's assassination without it." Yes, the cylon is still an 'it', as far as she's concerned.

"Good," Atalanta replies, without hesitation. "Anyone that's comfortable with this mission as it stands isn't someone I'm comfortable flying with." The statement is laid before her, laid completely bare. "There have been entiely too many instances of people just following orders without stopping to think for themselves in this unit, and its cost us hundreds of innocent lives. I won't be party to it. I won't tolerate it. At all." She rubs her lips together once, as though trying to taste the harsh words which she just spit out, to consider the merits of their particular composition. "How soon can you have the Lieutenant Commander here?"

"I have not told anyone about the nature of the Commander's proposition, sir," Bennett confides after a beat, watching the blonde carefully. By that, she likely is referring to the 'slaughtering people wholesale' part of it. "I.. wished to let you hear about it first, before sending the wing into a frenzy of panic and wild scuttlebutt." Her lips twist into something resembling a smile, but without any of the warmth or good humour. And finally, her smoke is brought to her lips, and she takes the opportunity to rest her bottom against the table's edge again. "She told me she would be coming out by week's end, but perhaps I can expedite that a little?"

"I'll make myself available, regardless of when she arrives," Atalanta replies, before finally dislodging one of her hands from its place tucked under her arm. She drags it through her hair. Or, rather, over her hair, smoothing down a few stray wavy wisps of gold that have strayed from the confines of her bun. "In the meantime, Captain Ioselovich has been transferred to the Rubaul, as part of Lieutenant Colonel Petra's attempts to create bonds across the two task forces." There's only enough space for a heartbeat between that statement and then, as the DCAG immediately presses forward with, "I'm reinstating you as squadron leader of the Ghosts."

Bennett observes this thoughtfully, the absent motion of tidying her hair, and remarks a moment later, "Understood, sir. I will contact her immediately." She's about to push off the table, perhaps forgetting that Atalanta herself had business with her, but pauses when the woman speaks of Captain Ioselovich. And blinks slightly when she mentions, in the same breath, that Bennett is to be reinstated. It is something that hasn't been spoken of much at all; the illness that sidelined her for weeks, the gradual return to duty, the demotion to Captain. "I.." There is no smile, no victory in those words. Red-rimmed eyes, and no doubt sleep lost over the mission she's just presented to the CAG. "Yes, sir," is all she has, voice soft and subdued.

"Presuming that everything goes well in the coming weeks, I expect that you'll be reinstated to the rank of Major before the October Horse," Atalanta informs her, without so much as a smile of sympathy or congratulations. On the contrary, she's started to frown, the corners of her mouth twisting down just far enough to form lines in her face — lines that begin to show her age. "I will also be sending a new arrival from Picon — Ensign Aphrodeen — to you and to Lieutenant Vashti for additional training. Picon was her first assignment and gods only know what she may have learned being thrust into that." There's a sniff, before she adds almost as an aside, "She's also expressed an interest in cross-training as an ECO, after I mentioned the issues we've had forming up proper teams, depending on who is out and who is where and who is sickbay and so forth." In short, Vashti — barely a year out of flight school — is being given a half-frozen nugget to finish cooking. And Bennett gets to make sure no one fraks it up! It's like Saturnalia came early this year.

Bennett may not be the most hard-nosed pilot in the wing — nor anywhere near it — but she does have a good grasp of empathy. Not that it takes much to see that Atalanta's bothered by something. She pulls from her smoke again, and ashes the tip with a flick of her thumb, eyes remaining on the other woman and her frown all the while. "We have spoken, actually, and I think she'll be an asset to the squadron," she explains. "As I told her, I prefer pilots with experience flying in atmo. It presents certain challenges that spaceflight do not, for a raptor airframe." And for a viper airframe too, but she leaves that alone. "The cross training is not a bad idea, sir. I would like our ECOs to renew their flight qualifications, as well, if you approve of the idea."

There's a nod from her, swift and solemn. "Given the fact that any one of them may be forced to a land a bus? One that's been damaged in combat, to the point of incapacitating their pilot? Yes. Do it. It could save some of our personnel, and some of our Raptors, neither of which we can really replace. If they don't like the additional workload on top of our current preparations, then tell them I signed the order." In short, taking any bitching about being overworked up the chain will get them precisely nowhere. "And run the pilots through some paces in atmo. As I understand it, JAG may be opening a manhunt for Shepherd any day now, and with several months head start? He could be anywhere on the planet by now, if he's even still alive. Even if it's a pointless search, at least you can use it for practice."

Bennett chances a small smile, and opines softly, "Sir, it is not your job to take the heat for my orders. If anything, it is quite the other way around. If they do not like it, they may request a transfer to another ship, or file a complaint with you." It seems to be her way of saying that she can hold her own. Mention of Sheperd does not have any discernable effect on her, though she nods her understanding of the implication of that request. "Yes, sir. I do have a couple of exercises in mind that I was hoping to get your approval for. I will begin organising them, then."

"I look forward to seeing the reports," Atalanta replies, almost automatically. Clearly, her mind has drifted elsewhere. To Shepherd, maybe. Or back to Spree's request regarding the Quorum. Either way, she's distracted. But eventually, her eyes drift from some distant point back to Bennett's face, which she focuses on expectantly. "Will there be anything else for this evening?"

Bennett has already put out her smoke and collected her paperwork by the time Atalanta looks back to her. Maybe it was the glazed-over look in the woman's eyes. "No, I think that is more than enough for tonight," she murmurs with a rueful twist of her lips. "I will let you know when I hear word from Commander Spree." And she steps past finally, with a few quiet parting words, "Good night, sir."

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