AWD #325: How to Be Friends
How to Be Friends
Summary: Two officers, out of their element, try to figure out how to relax.
Date: 12/05/2016 (OOC Date)
Related Logs: None
Epiphany Fairfax 
Officer's Lounge
The lounge at the bar, an afterthought built onto the main structure, is a little more classy. This is probably a function of the fact that the members of CIDSR and some of the ranking officers wanted a place that was not as prone to barfights. Some of the research ships look to have been looted to bring down nicer couches and other seating. Proper floorlamps and even even a felt-covered card table have been set towards the back and a brave soul even donated a painting. The lighting is darker and the mood is more calm here. The room is restricted, and policed by bouncers, to all commissioned officers and CIDSR personnel only. Rowdy behavior is not permitted.
Sun Nov 27 2005 (AWD #325)

It's bright and early on Piraeus, but a ship's cycle is never exactly that of a planet. The three shift — Alpha, Bravo, Gamma — workforce is one that goes counter-intuitive to what a body's biological needs might demand. While Alpha may be prime for those of higher duties, in theory, it puts them working hours that would seem mad to a civilian. It's a cycle that becomes worse when one's duties have them interacting with the entire fleet. Having to fi a schedule in with other ships and personnel. A Department Head may, depending upon situation, find themselves 'floating' some of those cycles just to be able to meet with everyone and get their duties done. Been Alpha for a few weeks and suddenly need to sit down with Gamma for a period of time? Well. Have fun adapting your sleep schedule.

It's almost necessity that has lead Epiphany trying to carve out time for herself. Between sorties over and on Aerilon and cleaning up after CAGs of days gone by, Arrington has found herself nigh overwhelmed at times. When one adds in having to visit a few of the other ships within the TaskForce to meet her squadron leaders there and make certain they have nothing they need and that all is running smoothly, it becomes a job of a breadth she had no means of fully comprehending. After a few hours upon the Baker Bay, her 'ride' had to make a layover at Piraeus and the Captain decided 'frak it' and made her way to Charlie's. Rather than interrupt (by simple nature of //existing) the good time being had by the younger sect of one of the Orion's squadrons, she made her way into the lounge. A quieter sort of place and out of sight, for the most part. It leaves the CAG sitting solo, for a moment, in a booth that lines one wall. She's leaning back, glass in hand, staring at the painting on the wall opposite… without really seeing it.

Fairfax is in a similar sort of predicament. Only the lack of a doctor willing to prescribe them for such a use is preventing him from going on the upper-downer pill cycle often employed by combat soldiers to ensure they can sleep when they need to and be up when they need to, regardless of their body's cycle.

He's been on Pireaus for some inspections, and is currently waiting on a ride back. So he's come here, to Charlie's, to at least wait in peace. And like Epiphany, he's not about to let his existence ruin things for everybody else. So he's headed into the lounge. When he sees the CAG, it's hard to tell if he's relieved or disappointed to find the place not entirely empty. Maybe both.

It's a funny thing, how war changes things you would never think about. There's the obvious, of course. The losses suffered, primarily in souls. The provisions that must go into place. The orders opened. The injuries witnessed. In a time of peace, CAG is a position of honor and largely of paperwork. It's one that career pilots often strive for. The distinction. The positional power. In a time of war, however, the position carries a weight with it that few understand. Rather han being a stepping stone apart from one's peers, it becomes a deep, dividing rift in the continental plate. Pilots you previously drank and caroused with must be weighed and judged. Rather than caring for them as brother and feeling their life in your hands only as you watch their six, it becomes every life of every officer in the wing. The moniker 'Mom' never fit Arrington so well as it does now. Even the pilots and ECOs whose names and faces she has yet to fully learn are etched upon the fibers of her being.

In the quiet moments as this, it leads to a woman who looks every inch her thirty-four years. Only a single button of her duty jacket has been undone; the smallest concession to her 'off-duty' state for the moment. The lines upon her features are amplified, particularly those between her brows. She does not, however, miss the arrival of the Marine XO. For all that she stares at that painting — one of the few pieces of artwork left to the 'free' Colonies — she is not wholly lost to herself. There's a bit more green to her eyes as they shift in his direction. Her glass is brought in and a long sip of the amber brew imbibed. "Fairfax." It's a simple enough greeting that could be easily construed as an invitation.

"Arrington." There's a wealth of information contained in the return greeting, as Fairfax adjusts his course to head toward her with his drink. The recognition that this is one of the few people who can understand the place he's in. The mutual understanding and empathy for her position. "Down here too, huh?" is asked as he settles in oppsite her. There's still that slight awkwardness about him, that slight feeling that he doesn't really belong here. But it's lessened greatly by their shared isolation.

There's a series of minor adjustments to the Viper pilot's physical bearing as the marine officer joins her at the table. She at booth, he at chair. She sits up straighter, draws in the leg that had been extended, and ultimately brings her attention to the man rather than the painting that breaks the otherwise uninterrupted line of the opposite wall. "I figured I would pass the time until my shuttle back to Orion indoors." Rather than out in the cold. Sheridan nestled in a mountain range as it is and here in the winter months… It's a cold place right now. And she, without a proper coat. The woman hasn't been able to trade up for one yet. Instead, she's found her way into some sunglasses, which rest on the largely barren table.

"I was told there was another passenger. I hope they do not leave us down here. That would be a shame to have to write up." Not that she would. The Raptors work on a schedule for the most part, regardless of any perceived import of their passengers. At Condition 3 levels, however, the pilot is more likely to take some downtime if they can swing it. Visit a local friend. Do some shopping in the fledgling market. All they'd need to do is pay off the right person along the line… "I am looking forward to what Captain Ommanney puts together for a survival exercise for my wing."

"Oh, I'm sure if they did they'd come and get us the moment they realized we'd been misplaced. Or the moment something went wrong in our respective outfits." Fairfax observes with a wry smile and a sip of his drink. He doesn't seem to mind too much, if the pilot takes some time to do their own thing. "It will be outstanding." He assures, of the survival exercise. "Captain Ommanney is…one of the best S3s I've worked with. He's a genius when it comes to operations. You won't be disappointed." There's no boastfulness in his tone, just quiet, well founded, pride. "How are things going on your side of things?"

"Are you trying to tell me that you expect competence out of people?" The words are clearly in jest with mild amusement flickering its way across the CAG's features. "Your experience in managing large numbers of personnel must be limited. If it's possible for an officer to frak it up, they will frak it up." An alternative of Murphy's law. Epiphany looks to her beer and lifts it, draining what remains in the glass. The empty thing is set upon the table before her hand falls to her lap.

"My side of things? Ahh. Well as can be expected. I think for some, Aerilon is both too soon and not soon enough. They want the action to keep them busy, but so shortly after Picon, they're seeing losses again." The Air Wing's losses have been, blessedly, limited thus far, but they have still lost good men and women in some of the dogfights. "And on your side of the fence? What's the ground like?"

"Not out of people, no." Fairfax agrees with a hint of a smile of his own. "But out of Marines? Yes. And I get it, too." He sips at his beer, passing over the question of his experience in managing large numbers of personnel. "The ground? They're making us pay dearly for every inch. It's an old maxim of land warefare that it is far more costly, in lives and resources, to retake ground than to hold it in the first place. We're currently proving how true that is." His stark tone and frustrated eyes suggest he hasn't spoken to anyone else about this, because they're hardly the sort of encourging words people need to hear him saying. But her? He can talk to her. "And intel is driving me nuts. I almost lost men over beans. Damn important beans but still, how would I even write those letters." The fact he still thinks about writing letters to the families of the dead as if there was a high chance of them being available to recieve them says a lot about the man.

"Especially against an enemy that has no need for food, medical care, and can seemingly renew itself at will." The Cylons have already replaced both basestars over the planet. Ships equivalent to the Orion, the last of her kind, and they just reappear with a seeming greater ease than even assembling a new Viper from a fully functional Viper factory. Ground and air have their own uphill battles to fight, with points of intersection to be found in the atmosphere between land and space. When the Marine officer mentions beans, there's an arch to Epiphany's brow. This isn't something she was wholly aware of. Certainly she knows that her Raptors provided drop-off and evac and there was 'cargo,' but specifics such as what the cargo was is largely unimportant to most of her reports. It's glossed over. Scavenging is a simple facet of day to day life.

"Perhaps I'm just callous, but I think letters in a time of war would be easier. There's the understanding that… things can and will happen. It was letters before the war that I hated. Telling a mother that her son was never coming home because of a mishap during a training exercise. An environment that should be safe… wasn't." Epiphany, clearly, had to write some of those. The woman looks to the glass on the table before her, frowning. "At least in war, the danger is a known element to all."

"I assure you, they're vital to the war effort. Worth their weight in gold or more." Fairfax murmurs, at that arched eyebrow. "I don't know. I've written both and I haven't found them easier just because we're at war. At the end of the day, they come down to the same thing. Their son or daughter is dead because I failed them, somehow." A deep draught of his drink is taken. "I have Sergeants who have never seen war…leading men into battle. And all I have to offer them is silly stories about the mistakes I made when I was green, and platitudes about how it will get better. I wish I could go with them, every time they go down to combat. And it kills me that I can't."

"I never got past the first batch of letters." Epiphany lost an entire class save one pilot over Picon the day this generation's war began. Days, if not longer, spent fighting for survival upon the planet's surface… and trying to conceive of those letters. To write them to deliver to families who, themselves, likely no longer exist. She admits this in a quiet, but flat sort of way. A shame she has long since adapted to and buried deeply. The woman draws a deep breath, looking to her empty glass. It's grabbed as she leans forward, shifting slowly to her feet. "Wait until you begin getting the soldiers who were shaped by this war. The men and women so young they cannot legally drink. So young they may not have known what it is to love. But old enough that we send them off to die alongside the rest."

This is offered in a tone gone flat. In the resigned fashion of one who knows she must use all that she has available to her, even if it is an 18-year-old hacker-turned-ECO who still displays the innocence and naivety of youth. Arrington just cants her head vaguely in the direction of the bar proper, outside the walls that separate the Officer's Lounge from the more raucous bar outside, where men and women of all stripes attempt to scrape out at least a tiny corner of their world that feels 'normal.'

Fairfax stands, because Arrington has stood, and he's not sure if she's done or just looking for a refill. "Mothers of the Colonies, meek and mild, send to me your sweet young child." He intones, from memory. "We'll make them drill, we'll make them run, we're gonna make some changes in your young ones." A shake of his head. "That cadence was a favorite of the instructors when I went to NCO school. I don't guess they ever expected it would be this true." There's another of those pauses. "To be a good soldier, you must love the Corps. And to be a good commander, you must be willing to order the death of the thing you love. I remember reading that at OCS. It's stuck with me." He's right there in her resigned corner. At least neither of them is alone.

The woman does not appear to be done. Her jacket is left behind. However, she does not escape when he begins to speak. There's a bit of a shift of her jaw. "I think they believed it to be every inch of true, Captain. Our fathers fought the Cylons and someone understood the threat was not eliminated, or else Piraeus would never have happened." Thirty years into peace and a project kept at the most top secret levels was enacted 'just in case.' It's that prerogative that has enabled mos — perhaps any — of them to be alive to continue the fight. Epiphany makes a quiet sound in answer to ordering the deaths of others. Every pilot within the fleet is tasked with it. If you risk capture, you must ensure your ECO is not alive to face it. Raptor pilots more than Vipers, but even the jocks of the Air Wing must live with the knowledge, lest they be in the cabin of a Raptor or upon a downed Predator in enemy territory. And as all pilots must live with the knowledge, so all ECOs must understand that there may be a day in which they must die. There is no hope of rescue for an ECO or a navigator; only a swift end to protect the last bastion of humanity.

With a ducking of her chin, Epiphany moves swiftly for the bar. The exchange is not long. A few quiet words, a wait with eyes turned to watch a group of civilians play pool, and then a murmur of appreciation as she accepts her request. Rather than simply refilling her glass, she has gotten a pitcher. Something to be shared. When the CAG returns, she pours her own first before setting the pitcher in the center of the cable. Her seat is reclaimed and she settles in, a long sigh preceding a much-needed drink.

"Yes. Somebody knew they were coming back." Fairfax agrees. And as she steps off to fetch a drink, he slumps back into his seat, left to stew on that knowledge. Somebody knew, the whole time. And they still weren't ready. When she returns with the pitcher, something to be shared, there's a murmur of appreciation. He pours his drink, then sets the pitcher back in the center. "You religious, Arrington?" It's asked quietly, just making conversation. Perhaps trying to get to know his counterpart better.

Either someone knew or the right person in power was just paranoid enough. Either way, they have their outpost. Their safe haven. A place where at least some folks can put their feet on solid ground and not have to witness a basestar in the skies. Epiphany looks down into her drink, eyes shifting upward only when the question comes. There's a quiet, but thoughtul sound as she takes a long drink. Only after her glass is set upon the edge of the table nearest her does she speak up.

"Religious? Perhaps. I suppose it depends on the definition. Do I devote time during each week to the chapel or speak a litany of prayers before every dogfight? No. Do I believe the Lords and Ladies watch over us? Perhaps. It's difficult to truly come to terms with that one. If they do, how did they let this happen to their children not once, but twice."

"Yeah. I wonder about that myself." Fairfax admits, looking into his beer. Considering it. "I go through all the rituals. I say all the right words. Chapel every week. But…I don't know why. I just do. I always have." A half-shrug and another drink. "Your turn for a question, I suppose."

Settling into the boot, Epiphany slouches in it by a measure. The woman's voice may have a touch of refinery to the Leonese accent, but it's more a byproduct of upbringing than anything explicitly trained and cultured. There is pilot to her. There is worker. Her hands bear callouses and her face holds the lines of life. She tilts her head back into the wall, one arm rising to drape over the back of the bench seat. "My life has never quite suited schedules that would allow for visiting the chapel and hearing the sermons on a regular basis. Religion became a personal thing. As a child, I often thought I could feel Artemis in my life, but now I believe that it was no more real than when children play at the trappings of adult life."

When he mentions a question, she falters slightly. Chin dips down and Arrington regards the man sitting opposite. Her lips twitch a bit and she reaches for her beer, lifting it for a long drink. "That's something I've lost the art of, I think. I can't say I know what to ask. If you have something you wish to share-" The CAG gestures, vaguely, with the glass. "By all means."

Fairfax can't help but chuckle at her admission, though there's little humor in it. Indeed, it seems directed as much at himself as at her. "How did we get so bad at making friends, Arrington?" There's a shake of his head. "I don't know what to talk about either. I tried religion..I guess what we wanted to be when we grew up. Our PT scores. Frak, I don't know."

"The Cylons returned and destroyed our homes, our families, and our hope for the future. If I make a friend, I risk losing that friend." It's a simple enough admission and an honest one. Though Epiphany would likely preach to her Wing that they should hold onto whatever they can find, the woman cannot put it into practice for herself. "Before all of this, I kept a distance from my students. It was part of the experience of Flight School. To have the aloof, standoffish instructors. Partially to foster camaraderie amongst the students, but to also prepare them for the expectation of the structure of command. I had my fellow instructors. I had the civilians I knew." Such as her husband. "Here, I… I don't know. The only people who are not directly below me or NCOs have just as much weight on their shoulders as I do." Somewhat. There are those, such as the Chief Engineer, perhaps, who do not have the same pressures of people upon their souls.

"So how do I make friends? Any friendship with those in my wing runs risks. Risks of fraternization. Risks of taking risks to protect them when the situation calls for otherwise. I think perhaps friendship is something I don't have the privilege to partake in, like sleeping in on Saturday mornings."

"Yeah, see…I don't know if I'm quite ready to say we don't have the privilege of friends." Fairfax shakes his head. "I mean, you're right…there's a lot of problems. Anyone in your outfit is basically out. But…we could be friends. The other people in our position." He drains his glass. "None of us are getting out of this alive, Arrington. I'm not ready to give up on the camaraderie I've spent my adult life surrounded by quite yet. Just…gonna have to find it somewhere else these days."

Looking to her beer, Epiphany turns the glass. The low lights reflect off of the amber liquid and it serves as distraction enough for a moment. At least until she lifts it and drains the rest. The woman closes her eyes, savoring it, before pouring herself another. It's not the best beer, but it is beer. One has to appreciate the things they can. She may mourn the loss of the Leonese wineries, but at least the universe still has alcohol. The CAG draws a deep breath, looking up and across the table to the Captain sitting opposite.

"I think it was taken from me, rather than given up. I see your offer, as if it were a tangible thing, but I simply do not know what to do with it. I have lost many things in the past year. I think the way a friendship works is one of those things." There's a pause, in which opposite hand comes to rest upon the glass in turn as she leans forward; forearms upon the table and fingers draped over the outside edges of the vessel. One index finger taps gently, almost silently. "You can call me Grey, if you wish. Or Epiphany." Though her given name seems to give her less pleasure.

"Well, ain't nobody taking nothing from me without a fight. But I hear you. It's been a hell of a year." Fairfax agrees. He seems to pick up on the difference in her feeling for the two names. "Grey, then. Grey works. You can call me Alastor, if you like." His name sounds foreign when he says it, as though he's not accustomed to hearing it. Least of all in his own voice.

"You can't fight for everything… Alastor." The name is used, but gently. Carefully. As if it were its own social explosive, simply lying in wait for the wrong switch to be flipped. Who uses given names? In the Air Wing, call signs are as casual as they come. A rarity for a first name to pass the lips save for between those who have fostered the strong bonds that can be found in war. "Sometimes they are lost. Forgotten while you fight on one front. We cannot be vigilant everywhere at all times, no matter how hard we try." While she led that dogfight over Aerilon with one squadron, others lost their lives. Men and women lost to time. Lost to the Colonies. Remitted on to Elysium, should their souls be weighed and not found wanting. "You may wake one day and find it was simply spirited away while you weren't looking."

"I'm a marine. I can fight for everything." Fairfax says with a silly grin, before it fades. "Nah, you're right, though." He agrees more seriously. Marines don't have call signs, and apparently Fairfax doesn't have a nickname. "You just..lose stuff, while you're focus is elsewhere. And sometimes you don't even realize you've lost it for years." A pause. "My momma used to tell me Alastor meant avenger, in really old Tauran. But by the time I came along, it was also slang for a scroundrel. I dunno why. Funny thing, hearing it again just reminded me. I spent the first seventeen years of my life living up to the modern version. Guess now I'm the old version."

The grin is studied for a moment. Perhaps an unsettling thing, those hazel eyes so sharply focused on the man sitting across from her. Epiphany shifts, sitting up just a measure straighter. Her arms remain upon the table, hands upon her beer. She does finally lift it, breaking that gaze, for a drink. "Mmm. I think a person can be both. People do not always know a man's reason for seeking vengeance. If they do not understand, they may see him as a scourge." A scoundrel. "There is no especial meaning to my name, but it is an old family name." She looks to her drink again, frowning momentarily.

"I try," the woman speaks again, at last, not looking up to the marine. "to remember what it is to have friends. What it entails. What it means. How to do it. I would rather teach a Private astrophysics. I believe it would be easier."

"Yeah, probably would be." if Fairfax is unsettled by Epiphany's study of him, he doesn't show it. "The Private is afraid to fail, not succeed." Maybe there's more to him than he lets on. If nothing else, he's definitely been paying attention to what's been said. "Old names…I bet we'll see them become a lot more popular, if we make it through this."

"Names of fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, best friends. They may not be ancient or traditional, but they will hold meaning. At least for those who get to move on and see the next generation." There is something in how Epiphany says it. Something in her voice that speaks to a knowledge of self. A knowing that she is of and for this war, but not the world that comes after. If not a knowing, than an understanding. She has been changed in ways that will no allow her to be what she once was. It is the plight of veterans of any war. Many cannot adapt to the life of peace after what they have seen and experienced.

"Do not think so highly of your men that you cannot appreciate for and adapt to their limitations. I care for every officer who serves beneath me, but even I know that if it is humanly possible to frak it up, a rook will."

"True enough. Those names will be popular too." Fairfax agrees with a slow nod. He seems to recognise whatever it is inside her, and something answers from his own eyes. A mirroring of sorts. What was it he said earlier? None of us are getting out of this alive, Arrington. "It's…I know their limitations, of course I do. And I know they frak up. I've been dealing with a lot of that this week.'s part of our culture. They expect me to show that bravado. To project a belief in an invincible perfect Corps. They need me to have that pride. To set that expectation, so they can try and meet it. But I know they're only human." There's a pause. "All of them. Only human."

"You realize that they need you to project that to them, right?" There's a sort of clearing of Epiphany's gaze as she regards the Captain sitting opposite. "That bravado, that stoic face… It's for them. Not for you. Not for me. Not for the pilots, sibling rivalries aside." Navy, marines. Tale as old as time. She lifts her glass, staring at it with the eye of someone who may very well be drunk or at least damn near. "I have to show my utmost confidence to my Wing when I stand before them, when I sit with them, when I fly with them. But behind the scenes, I have to acknowledge all their faults. All their weaknesses. I can tell an Ensign that they're damn good and this war is better off for having them fighting on our side… But I have to slide notes and orders to keep them off the front line because I know if I don't, they won't live to see tomorrow." With this, she leans back again, draining the glass. It's set heavily on the able, but she's in no rush to fill it again. There may be enough for one, one and a half left in the pitcher.

"Yeah, I know. I do know." Fairfax assures the other Captain. He'll have another half glass, it seems, even if she won't. "May not seem like it, but I do. And I take it into account, when I make my plans and the like." There's a shake of his head, then. "That's the rub, right there. There is no keeping them off the front line. There just…aren't enough marines to go around. And it's only going to get worse. We've got to get some sort of training pipeline going. Make some more."

"Talk to Commander Spree," the person running Crandall, on Picon. "We have an arrangement where she is sending us pilots and ECOs as they're deemed ready enough." Keyword: 'enough.' The Orion is now host to some rooks who are too young to legally drink and barely cut their teeth in the resistance on Picon. "You may be able to discuss a similar one for recruits." After considering the pitcher for a moment, Epiphany does finally lean forward and pour the rest into her glass. No sense letting it go to waste. It's not as if she's swimming in credits nor items to barter. Holding the glass in one hand, the other lifts to rub over her features. "Good thing I had little else planned for my day."

"I'll have to do that. Maybe we can get something set up." Fairfax nods, before half-smiling in agreement. "Me either. I got my inspections down here done. That's really all I had on my plate for today, although I'm sure some new things will have found their way to my desk while I was away."

"I was so busy at first, I barely took time to eat. So there's this part of me that feels badly for the fact that I'm drinking. The 'what if something happens,' or disappointment in the rank and file at seeing their CAG drunk. If only Epiphany knew. Chances are, it'll bolster the pilots in their own way. "The former CAG left my desk such a frakkin' mess that I don't think I'll ever catch up. I leave most of it for the downtime I don't have and focus on what's important in the here and now." The woman lifts the beer and drains it. Fairly easily, too. She may be a figure of authority, but she was once a Viper jock like any other during a time of peace in which one's drinking abilities were of more import than most anything else. The glass is set down, heavily, and she reaches for her sunglasses. In case the glare outside is still intense enough to have need of them. "Shall we see if our ride is here?"

Fairfax finishes his own drink, standing slowly. "Oh, I dunno. If it's anything like the Marines they'd be glad to know you were down here drinking, Grey." He points out. "Maybe not that you were drinking with me, admittedly." There's a grin, for the rivalry as old as time. "Yeah, let's see if somebody's out there waiting on us. We've probably had all the idle time allotted to us for the week."

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