AWD #318: Home
Summary: Epiphany meets two other generations of Wescott. There is talk of what 'home' means.
Date: 05/05/2016 (OOC Date)
Related Logs: None
Epiphany Kelsey 
Somewhere in the town.
Sun Nov 20 2005 (AWD #318)

Landing at Sheridan is a bit of a unique experience. The terrain is so familiar but also too alien. The trees look eerily similar to the colonies, but with just enough difference to remind a person this is not Caprica. But the cool fall air is just a touch chilly when the breeze picks up. The LZ is just outside the Marine Base, though, which is surrounded by hesco walls and sandbagged MG positions. Within the base Pip can make out the gun tubes of a battery of 155mm howitzers aimed skyward as if ready to send rounds towards an unknown enemy on the planet. There are MP's everywhere but everything seems very casual. Like a peacetime base.

Outside the town's delineated limits is a large encampment of Taurons recently rescued and there seem to be construction crews, aided by the Taurons, working to build semi-permanent homes and buildings. But the town itself seems to be here to stay. A lot of the buildings are traditional construction and the CIDSR sciences facility takes up a good portion of the town. Small shopfronts, looking relatively new, are propped up where they can with people bartering items. Its a shocking amount of different items. Worthless trinkets to obscure machinery parts. But there's even a school in the civilian area. The sound of children yelling and laughing is a dead giveaway to a nearby playground. Pip probably wouldn't head that direction. No, there's a bar to be explored. But on the way to that bar is a set of picnic tables by a couple of pro-sized pyramid courts.

At one of the tables are three females. One has a recognizable tint of natural red hair, up in a ponytail. Kelsey is in jeans and a zippered black hoodie with wraparound sunglasses on. The woman she is sitting with looks to be in her later 60's or early 70's, but by no means frail. Most of her dark hair has turned silver and she wears a pair of aviators, also in jeans but she has on a thicker coat. The two are talking while the third, about five years old with a shock of blonde hair and a matching pink set of cords and sweatershirt, runs amok in the grass nearby while she holds up something in her hand and pretends to fly it around. Complete with sound effects. And muttered pretend voices.

It's rare, really rare, that Epiphany actually takes time for herself. When she realized she was searching for work to do, even she couldn't deny that maybe it was time to take a break. One thing the woman is learning is that she's better at delegating than she expected. The squadrons had their commanding officers. The rooks were being put through their paces with instructors, squadrons, and the very specifically assigned 'acclimation expert' she'd found in Kelsey. Paperwork done, schedules signed off on. It took a cup of coffee and staring at a relatively clean desk before Epiphany made her way out and caught the Raptor assigned to transpo. She spends a few moments simply standing planetside. It's surreal. In a number of ways. So calm, compared to her last year on Picon. So similar to… both Leonis and Caprica, but yes. Alien. So far outside the colonies. In some ways, she stands out. Arrington has no civvies. She's in 'off-duty' mode, in BDUs and dual-tanks, and a jacket that matches the pants.

Wescott was right about the sunglasses. Epiphany finds herself shielding her eyes with her hand after getting directions from the Raptor pilot on where the bar lies. She may be the CAG, but that doesn't exclude her from kicking back and drinking on her off-time. It's slow strides that carry her towards Charlie's, taking in the fledgling town. A stiff breeze tugs at her jacket and she finds herself shivering, pausing to zip it up. Blinded in the moment. Sunlight like this after the ship- takes time to adapt to. But it's long enough that it lets the voices carry. Epiphany looks over, jaw tightening just a bit. Finally she rolls forward, coming to a stop a short distance away. "Wescott." There's a slight, awkward lilt to her voice. Social, it just ain't her bag. "Where might I find sunglasses?"

Hey, the ensign — er, JG — recommended them. She should know where to get them.

Kelsey looks up in time to see the approaching CAG and come to a natural pause in the conversation with the older woman. Kelsey is leaned forward a bit, arms crossed and resting on the table. It's so much easier to picture her as some rando college girl like this. She looks completely comfortable and totally at peace. It's night and day from the ship. The older lady looks much the same and just smiles up at the Captain. "The bartender at Charlie's has them for barter. If you want to get a nice pair, shop around the little vendors near the LZ, sir." There's a slight pause and she looks to te older lady. "This is the new CAG."

The older lady gives a smile and 'ah' moment and slides a smile back up. Now Pip knows where Kelsey get's her smile from. They are definitely related. A hand goes out to shake. "Madeline Wescott. Once upon a time it was Major and I had a wing like you. It's been awhile since I've felt envy and sorrow for the same person," she chuckles. Meanwhile the littlest Wescott comes running back over and a few words are quickly whispered between Kelsey and the girl. The girl looks up up up and gives basic salute any kid might try to do. "Melissa Wescott, sir." That big toothy grin.. Her other hand is holding a diecast model of a Raptor.

"Barter. That's what I was worried about." When you have nothing, it's a bit difficult to start building up to something. And the only thing not Colonial Fleet-issue that Epiphany has, Kelsey would know she'd never give up. The brunette looks between the two, but her gaze settles on the eldest. She moves forward a few steps, accepting the hand offered in a firm sort of shake. In response to the words provided, there is a snort. It's relatively close to a laugh, even. "I have to say, my personal career plan never had 'CAG' pencilled in anywhere." Peacetime, instruction is an easy, if sometimes slow path to retiring at a nice rank, afterall. She leans back on her heels and seems just about to make her departure for parts more dim when the girl comes up. For a long moment, the Captain is stiff-backed, hands in pockets. There's a tense quality about jaw and shoulders, but finally, she crouches down; wrists resting against knees to aid in balance. "That's a nice ship you have there. Keeping it tip-top so Deck doesn't yell at you, right?" She shifts, offering out her hand. "Epiphany Arrington. They call me Goose."

Kelsey rummages around in her pouch in the hoodie and comes out with a small clutch purse. It looks expensive but incredibly beat up - definitely acquired after the war started. She removes a few chits for alcohol and holds them out for Pip. "Here, sir. I don't drink near as much anymore and most of these collect dust in my pocketbook. They won't be the best sunglasses, but they'll work." She seems genuine about it, though. Kelsey's file said that prior to the war, she was always upbeat and smiling, even when worked to exhaustion she tried to float her spirits. It's visible here.

"Me either. I was a sophmore at the Academy on Picon when the Cylons rebelled and launched the war. I rode out all twelve in Vipers. Nobody is ready to be a Major at 28, let alone a CAG." She stops, though, when Pip crouches like that. The girl's smile spreads wider, the salute held in place. "I crashed my Reptar like mommy. Sorry. But it's still okay. Promise." Cue facepalm from mom, yep. Embarrassed. But the name Pip gives has Melissa give a wary look and lean over to her mom, tugging on her sleeve. "Mommy. Your important lady thinks she's a bird. She doesn't look like a bird." A few more traded whispers and Melissa seems to understand and looks back to Pip. "Hi Goose. Grammum calls me 'Squirt.'" The salute is tossed off in a grand gesture.

"Lucky me, then. I've at least crossed into my thirties." It's a sort of dry comment. Not quite humor, but almost. There is a smile for the eldest Wescott, at least. There may be a moment in which it seems that Epiphany will not take the offered chits. She does seem on the verge of refusal. Either it's the recent promotion (and knowing what needs Kelsey may have in regards to that) or the family present, but the woman does ultimately accept. She looks them over before tucking them away in a pocket. Likely she could have made some requests with the management up top, as it were. 'Hey, float your CAG something to help her rebuild some sliver of a life.' But doing something for herself? It's taken how long for her to even set foot on Pirarus, after all…

"When you crash, they care less about the plane and more about the pilot. I'd avoid crashes if I were you." And Arrington does a fairly good job of not looking to Squire. Let her have that embarrassment in peace, at least. The woman gives a nod, leaning back on her heels and starting to press to her feet. "Squirt. I'd say that's fitting."

The eldest Wescott nods slowly, looking over the CAG. But when the chits are taken, they both look pleased. Kels even a bit surprised, but certainly bouyed to see the Captain accept the gift. the vibe between them is clearly one of mutual encouragement and feeding of energies. They would very much remind Pip of a close-knit family. Trying to imagine Kelsey without the family surrounding her… The fitness reports make sense. She was reckless, listless, combative, and had clear emotional trauma over losing her daughter. Not even a trace of it left.

"Mommy says that when you crash that its scary and sometimes bad people come at night." Melissa says it as if it's a normal thing. Kelsey's face twitches and she moves to haul the girl up as she stands. "Ohhhh you're heavy, kiddo. C'mon, we're not going to bother mommy's important friend. Say byebye."

"Bye Misses Goose!" the girl says with a wave as Kelsey moves off.

"Captain," the elder Wescott says quietly, watching Kelsey leave. "Thanks for promoting her. I know she had to earn it, but a lot of officers in the Navy before this most recent war would have just left her in place to sputter and drown."

After a fashion, it's something Epiphany knows well. When the woman speaks of pilots and their deathmasks, it's a very personal thing. She does her job. She drowns in her job. Because she sees nothing else for herself. It's a different kind of reckless. It's one where she's letting her personality fade away. She has a duty to the Colonies and the Fleet, but a big part of her died over Picon nearly a year prior.

As Kelsey hauls her kid off, Epiphany lifts a hand to the girl. She turns, however, as the retired Major speaks. There's a slight twitch of her lip and the woman shrugs. "I was an instructor, on Caprica, for a handful of years. I can tell the difference between someone in it just for glory and someone in it with a purpose. The hard part once you identify the ones with a purpose is finding out the right ways to reward them. You do it wrong… they might lose sight of their goals." Her foot grinds against the ground a bit as she rotates, keeping the young pilot in view. "I told her to put her money where her mouth is and she did. I wasn't going to ignore that."

Kelsey hauls the kid off towards the playground, probably wanting the distraction. Some things are better off left to distraction. But the older woman nods slowly. "I know exactly what you mean. For her, she's been through a different hell. All ours is personal, I guess. When she was on Picon, Petra got wounded pretty bad in a gunfight with a bunch of Bancroft's Marines. She shot a Marine point-blank in the face to get his medkit. Didn't even have time to think. He told her that if he was about to be captured, she needed to kill him." The older woman watches Kelsey's distant form from behind the lenses. "Twenty years old, thinks her daughter was turned to ash. All that gets piled on. When we were all reunited she was a wreck. Just a complete trainwreck. I had to get her drunk a couple times to get her to tell me what happened on Picon." The woman shakes her head. "She's never needed encouragement, just the knowledge that there are people behind her. Once she knows that, she has a home to work from. Even if she earned it, you gave her a home. I haven't seen her smile like that since before she left for the initial cruise. -That- is why I wanted to thank you."

There's a long period of quiet from Epiphany. Is the woman ever chatty? She's at least a good listener. There's never the sense that she's tuning someone out. The woman takes in the whole world, but lets little of it back out. She's an observer. A lifelong learner in her own way. Always processing. One of those people who dislikes letting out anything that isn't wholly refined. In her own school days, she was likely one of those students who would beat themselves up over less-than-perfect scores. Or maybe not. Perhaps it's all new. It's not like there's anyone who knew her before all this, save a single student.

"I didn't give her a home. She had that before I arrived. But I arrived to a vaccuum. No CAG. And her squad's commander, I think, is more friend than anything else. Same with the Colonel. You expect praise and encouragement from your family and friends. Not from the person challenging you. It means more when you fight for it."

The retired Major considers it, nodding a little. "Sure does. I wouldn't expect the Colonel has much favor for her, though. I asked her about it once. They don't talk. She avoids him even if she's pretty attached to him because of Picon. It sorta has the vibe that he avoids her, too. But St. Claire? Yeah I suppose that's possible. I don't dig into it too much. That's another life for me. Most days I just help out with daycare, teach a few high school classes." The woman gestures to Pip. "Just remember what you're saying. Transferring in during wartime sucks. She transferred in, too. Was the home always there? One thing that never leaves is the sense of common place with pilots in war. It sucks but remember one possibility, Captain: Maybe the Orion has always been your home — maybe you just hadn't arrived yet. Maybe you just need the challenge to feel like it really is your home."

"Perhaps the Colonel avoids her because he knows he cannot show that attachment. I've seen them interact. It's clear as day. I don't resent it nor will I find fault in it. They both went through something. War forges its own bonds. Often they go deeper than any other." How often does a family member or friend fight by your side to survive? No, it's those who face death, true death, by you. It's why squads can be so close. And why, likely, Epiphany sees herself as apart from the rest. There's a quiet laugh a the elder Wescott's last words and the CAG gives a small shake of her head. "No. My home is gone, as is the home of many others. I live on the Orion and it will likely be the last place I ever live… but a home?" She shakes her head, casting a brief look towards the playground. "Not for me."

"It's possible. I know she doesn't seek him out anymore. But yeah, she feels something. It's anything but romantic, though. I don't think she's got that in her anymore, to be honest." The older woman watches Kelsey push her daughter on the swingset, both counting out loud. But those eyes lift and she shrugs. "You'd be surprised how much power you have in that decision. Some people thrive on the pain of what's left behind and maintain the detachment that way. It doesn't make a person wrong or bad, just how they are." She waggles her hand above the table. "Flip side? If you never make the ship your home, are you really fighting as much as your pilots need you to? Its their home. Would you fight just as hard for a place you just live versus a place you believed to be home?" The woman shrugs. "Every wartime CAG struggles with that question, Captain. You aren't the first, you aren't the last. Each man and woman in your slot makes that call. I never found a good answer, though." She slowly rises from the table. "I should get back to the daycare, though. Hopefully one day you'll be over 70 years and be talking to some young CAG one day and passing on something that meant a lot to you. Good luck to you, Arrington. I know you'll do your best to bring everyone home the best you know how."

"Something like they went through," what pieces Epiphany has ever put together, with more of the story now, "rarely means something romantic. It's the sort of thing marines see the most of, I think. A sort of brotherhood. But it would still draw questions, considering their positions. Most people think frat and think people sleeping together, but that's not the only means." Always in her head. Always thinking about the profession. Always considering others. There's a thoughtful sound at the older woman's words. "Maybe because it's not about the CAG. It's about the pilots. You don't fight for a home, you fight for them." Then the woman gets to her feet, Epiphany nods and takes a step back. "Thank you." And there's a final glance towards the playground before she strikes off towards the bar again.

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