AWD #540: Not a Happy Camper
Not a Happy Camper
Summary: In which Gray confronts a very unpleasant moral dilemma with the draft of an AAR.
Date: 13/12/2016 (OOC Date)
Related Logs: Placeholder for Leonis Combat Op
Gray Knox 
Recovery Ward - Deck 3 - Battlestar Orion
About half the size of the Medical Center, the Recovery Ward has fewer beds to allow space for those who are going through recovery. Rather than the drab gray of most of the center, the walls in here have been done in a neutral creme color. The beds are a little thicker and the blankets are actually present. There are a few clocks and the only other decoration are a couple of flatscreens that show muted movies from the ship's library. A couple stacks of old magazines are available near the door for nurses to pass around, too.
AWD #540

Knox sat up with Randy last night, then issued some order today about Randy not being allowed to be alone. He passed out for most of the day at that point. He woke up to a stack of papers and reports on the side of his bed. With being unable to leave, which for a Six means he was pretty badly wounded, he decided to just start reading. He has a finished dinner tray left on the side while he thumbs through a few reports. Fortuntely the rest of the space is quiet with almost everyone else gone or passed out at the other end.

Gray managed to get discharged the previous night, much to his relief. More to the point, his right hand healed enough that he could use it…which meant that the sudden surge of free time he had due to the previous night's 'briefing' was spent drafting a report. It is thus that after dinner, Gray appears with several pages in hand, pleasantly surprised to see Coop awake. "Sarge, here's the AAR you asked me to draft yesterday. I'll…need to go over it with some of the others who were there to confirm who fired what and check /exactly/ what the phrasing of some orders was…" As he hands it over, he quietly slips a note he'd paperclipped to the top of it off and pockets it.

Coop looks up as Gray approaches and he looks at the papers. Then to Gray. Then the papers. He rests his current memo down and reaches to take the offered stack. There's only a half-second glance to it before he looks to Gray. "AAR?" He just looks at the other Marine. "I asked you to write it down and vent on paper rather than in a room with a bunch of very injured people. AAR's are written by the on-site commander or NCO's." Cooper looks to it, then back. "Is this something you were intending to submit as official paperwork?" 'Do you want me to read it?' asked in code.

Gray looks a little bit surprised; that is /not/ what he'd taken away from their chat yesterday…but he's willing to chalk it off to mixed signals. He nods, however. "It is." The idea that what he'd worked up was simply supposed to be a venting exercise, in this context, visibly irks Gray slightly.

Coop nods carefully and begins reading it. The further he goes, the less humor or humanity he seems to have. The guy starts to look like a killing machine. The anger from last night is no longer there, but he's also no longer cracked out on morpha. The papers are put down on top of the others and he pinches the bridge of his nose. "Wow." The Staff Sergeant lets off a long, steadying breath. The kind used to keep centers calm. "Let me first ask something- I need to know: What happened in particular that makes you hate Sergeant Flynn? That document is dripping with animosity. Before I say anything else, I need to know the basis for the anger." Nose still pinched, eys still closed.

Gray takes a deep breath. "The executions." Beat. "No, I don't really give a frak about dispatching a couple of Fives to download. However, our mission was very clearly to attempt to convert or save as many of them as possible. Sergeant Flynn's actions not only ran /grossly/ counter to that, they /directly/ undermined my efforts to fulfill the mission brief we were given." Gray takes a deep breath and forces himself to relax. "There's…there's no other backstory to it, Coop. Until Leonis I considered her to be a friend and a colleague. You spoke about the faith? What she did in there sure left a dent in that for me."

Times like this are where he hates being the platoon sergeant. The hand drops and he just sits there, listening. He's seeming to calm down and no longer looks ragey. Once Gray is finished, the Staff Sergeant takes a long breath and nods. He opens his eyes and gestures to a chair. "Pull that up and pop a squat, Marine." The voice no longer sounds cold or angry. But it isn't impersonal either, almost conversational. Knox sits up a little more in the bed, adjusting the pillows for his neck. "No notes taken, no recordings, no bullshit. This is completely off the record and is going ot be a discussion from a senior NCO to a Lance who will one day soon need to lead other Marines into battle. Its not a lecture, though." Once Gray is settled, he makes a pointed question: "Anderson, we're all taught in Basic what it is to be a Marine. Its shoved in every way it can be until we are spewing it back with rage and pride. That was before the war." e just looks at Gray for a moment. "Think about where you have been since this war started. Think about who around you has died and how they fought. The things you've seen. Forget Flynn, I want to know what the Marine Corps means to you on a personal level." Gray can tell this is not a time to mess with Knox.

Gray does as Coop directs him, pulling up a chair and sitting, doing his best to get comfortable (for an applicable value of comfortable). He listens intently as Coop begins talking, keeping his own reactions to a minimum aside from nods of acknowledgment where appropriate or necessary.

When Coop finishes, he gives the question a good, long think. "What does it mean to me now?" he asks, restating the question just so it's clear what question he is answering now. "It means you're my family. Probably…probably the only family I've got left at this point." If rumblings coming back from Scorpia are any indication, he's slowly been resigning himself to that fact.

And then there's another breath, almost pained. "But…that was the case before the war, too. Now? Between us and the Navy we're all that's between humanity and extinction rather than 'just' a calling crossed with a job. Why…why I joined and why I'm here now aren't the same thing…but that's probably true of all of us." The peacetime CMC from before the war and the wartime CMC are two drastically different animals to him.

"I think you hit the nail on the head there, Lance." Cooper keeps it semi-official, but casual in its own way. "I doubt you can find a single living Marine that joined before the war that is here now for the same reasons. Not even me." The saboteur commander, sent to kill them all. Cooper just watches him for a few seconds. "Last night you mentioned transferring or leaving. Pretty sure you were just pissed off. But a real question for you: If you could go anywhere right now, leave your family, where would you go?"

Gray sits back and thinks for a moment. He /almost/ replies immediately, but he holds back for a moment to process his words. "I wouldn't want to leave the Corps. At least, not until we win this war." He pauses for a moment on that thought. "If I had to leave and I could go anywhere?" Again, rephrased to be clear what question he's answering. "I'd want to work on the intel stuff. Piraeus, the hard drive, everything that I /keep/ running into. Frankly, sarge? I come into that intel, I get told it's unclassified, and when I get a chance to try to use it in the field, to try and /save our lives/ I get blown away like that…"

Much to his surprise, he starts sobbing. No, there is no backstory to his anger with Randy, but there's also something deep…and it all comes out. "I…I want to work those problems so I can try to save as many of us as I can. That's why…I didn't know if you were alive or dead or worse but I kept /trying/ to talk because if there was one chance in a million that I could have turned some of them it would've been worth any risk."

Knox doesn't interrupt. The guy sits there in silence, not flinching or moving even when Gray starts to cry. There's no sound of comfort, but there's also no anger or sound of judgment. Family. When it seems like Gray isn't going to say more, Coop speaks quietly. "Leaving family means leaving home, Anderson. This ship is your home." He only pauses for a few seconds before continuing. "What you are feeling right now? That agony and regret? That shit ripping you in half about how you should have done something more and that the opportunity to do-so was robbed? I understand it intimately. That fight that you know a truth, that you know for a fact that you can make a difference and frak-all you worked your ass off to try. Any lives you could save, you just needed the opportunity. You even got to start. Then shit happened." Cooper keeps his eyes on Gray, but there's still no reckoning or judgment there. "I know where you are right now, this minute. That's exactly how I felt when I was writing anonymous letters to command, begging someone to listen. The Cylons were coming. Just as it started to make a difference, they wiped out eighty percent of the population and massacred millions of fleet and Marine personnel. I hated the Cylons so much. I wanted to do anything I could to wreck them. And then when it came out who and what I was, a good portion of the fleet turned on me. You know who didn't? The Marines. Fistfights, brawls, people getting brigged. My girlfriend was stabbed. But the Marines never once let anyone get away with disrespecting me, even when I wasn't there." Another long breath taken and exhaled. "When our people are wounded and at their worst, they need help, they're bleeding, we form a defensive circle and fight for them. We fight to protect them until they are back on their feet so they can keep firing alongside us. Its the same battle. But we do it because we know that if we go down, then everyone else will collapse around us." He lifts a finger slightly. "You might think I'm talking about Sergeant Flynn. You're not wrong." Knox gestures the finger to Gray. "I'm also talking about you. You're hurting, brother. You gotta recognize it first."

It takes Gray a moment (and a tissue or two) to compose himself as Coop speaks. The explanation actually hits a /lot/ closer to Gray's core than he was expecting, especially as Coop draws out the deep parallels between their situations. He'd never heard Coop speak of the anonymous letters before, of trying to do what he could. He swallows hard at them, taking several long moments to digest everything. It's a /lot/ to digest and it's clear that he's not having the easiest time digesting it all.

"Alright." He thinks for a moment. "Alright, we do that. I…I get that, I think." The fact that he just had a breakdown is a clear sign to him that yes, he's hurting, that gunshots and shrapnel be damned there was damage done on Leonis that a few days snoozing in Sickbay isn't going to heal. "Yeah, it hurts. Usually I'd say 'you have no idea' but…you actually do, Coop."

There's another pause, also reflective, before Gray rubs the bridge of his nose. "I know…what I said yesterday? Wrong place, wrong time, wrong tone. That I regret. I was out of line and I'm sorry for it that." However, the 'but' hangs in the air with as much subtlety as a bunch of Centurions would manage a chorus line. "How do we deal with this?" he asks, pointing to his document. "On the one hand I want to support Sergeant Flynn. On the other? Right now, I could honestly never speak to her again…and I know those feelings aren't mutually exclusive. And…" He pauses, furrowing his brow. "Sarge? Where can I do the most to help?"

Knox gets it. There's no way he couldn't. "Yeah brother, I've been there. Feels like the loneliest place in the world until you realize your family is actually around you. Their backs aren't to you because they've disowned you. Its because they're fighting while you get back up. Its what I'm doing right now." He then turns his eyes back down to the papers. He lifts them, looking at the paper rather than the words, and he drops them back in place. "Bacchus Bounty." Its as if he titled the document that way. "This is what Flynn could have written about myself and Specialist Mercier after what happened there. I was mad as shit at her. I wanted to beat her senseless for even daring to stop that action. Those fraks ate a pilot. Roasted him like a pig. You were there." He shrugs. "But she didn't. We didn't talk for a bit, but eventually we went back to it and put it behind us. We can't change the past and we can't recall bullets once fired. Same thing. History is penned every moment, Marine." Coop shrugs with his good shoulder. "If you turn this in, likely they will court martial her. Fact. If they don't, they'll demote her back to nothing. Fact. If either one of those things happens, the family loses one of our best NCO's and we are weaker for it. Worse for you, the platoon will know it was you who made the unit weaker. Then you will be isolated because the family was put in danger. These are the dynamics of platoons in contact, brother. We have to forgive some pretty bad shit so we can all make it out. I feel like a frakking idiot after the Bounty. I lost control. Flynn was right. We've never talked about it." He folds his hands. "When you're confronted with a problem you can't attack and overcome, you flank it. You hit it from a new direction. Your anger is not unjustified, but I'm not talking about Randy being the problem. I'm talking about the disconnect between you and the Sergeant. You want to help her and yourself? Support her. Don't judge. The same way I'm supporting and not judging you for this or anything else you may tell me about your past. We are Marines in contact, my friend. The only way out is through and we are not leaving anyone behind. Not you, not Flynn."

Gray swallows. "And after I acidentally shot Fischer I was willing to be the fall guy if you needed one. It's why you ordered me out of the room. I remember." Somehow he'd known the Baccus fiasco was going to come up.

However, there's also a frown on his face. "I know what that report would mean. I did NOT enjoy writing it, anger aside, but I've gotta ask: Where do you draw the line? Because there /has/ to be a line. Somewhere. I mean, you asked me what we'd be if we could live forever the other week. Who are we if there are no consequences for this sort of shit?" His voice is slightly unsteady and /very/ quiet as he says this: He wishes it was being done in a corner of Charlie's with some particularly loud music in the background.

And then it comes around to the disconnect. "That's…I didn't mention transferring because I was angry, Sarge. Well, not only because of it. It took this to make me realize how deep that disconnect is getting. I mean…you know how sometimes you wonder why the frak the brass gives what looks like a stupid order? I…uh, I think I've found out how much more it hurts if one guy in the team actually /gets/ why they gave it. This is, uh…" There's a moment of sputtering as Gray searches for the words, his mind and mouth being temporarily disconnected and he briefly raises his hand in a 'give me a moment' gesture. "I think I get why she did what she did. That's the problem, actually…" He sighs. This is not an easy situation for him in the least: He's processed through a lot of the disconnect and he's having trouble figuring out how to fix it.

Cooper nods slowly to the part about the Bounty. Yep. "I don't draw the line, Anderson. I'll know it when I see it. This is war, though, not suburbia. Me and two Corporals found some drunk Marines having their way with a female Marine just after we liberated Picon. There were no reports. We did what the situation called on us to do and I sleep well with what we did. You see a line being crossed and you try to do something about it. But you also weigh the consequences of your own actions. I'd be courts martial'd for what we did on Picon. But I'd do it again, twice on Tuesday. The Corps and Picon is better for it." His arms readjust but hands stay folded. "There are always consequences, though. To this? There are. Tangible, immediate. What happened will change this unit forever, but we will always be a unit. Weigh your actions. If we're still fighting this war in five years and we both aren't dead, you're going to look back on this and remember the watershed. If you want black and white, you're in the wrong business. As the line representing Honor, that has been the hardest lesson I've ever had to learn." he then looks to the side and takes a glass of water. Dry throat getting drier. Even with everything Gray says, though, he just looks at him. "Does this problem involve being unable to refrain from judgment or support? Or not engaging her directly?"

"Yeah…yeah, it does. While my outburst was uncalled-for, this is the first time I've been forced to /seriously/ question the judgment of a superior officer like this." Gray sighs. "She had the same brief we all did and she frakked up. Bigtime. If I sit on this…if I ever hear 'clear the room' one more time…" And he shakes his head, letting the words hang there. "I need to be away from her for a while. I want to help her…family and all…but the disconnect /is/ a problem. And if we can't deal with that and you need me to sit on this then I need to be somewhere else because then /I'm/ going to be the problem eventually." And even then…it's clear this is eating him up on the inside in a way that Bacchus never came close to, since he can't even deal with it over drinks with the rest of the team: It's not /their/ dilemma, it's /his/ dilemma.

"It'll happen again, Anderson. And one day it will happen to you. That's why you feel like this is a family. You don't like everyone, you don't always get along, and you may have serious misgivings about someone's life choices. Or even their actions under extreme duress. But you have a bond with these people, your brothers and sisters, that you are stuck with. The only person who can walk away from that is you. Your own fortitude is what will get you through this." Knox leans his head back a little in the pillow, relaxing the bandaged neck. "You're invested in what happened. That peaks your anger and outrage. But don't hold on to this. Its not worth it, brother. I've seen enough shit in the last.. frak.. almost seven years?" Gods. So long. He shakes his head slightly. "Part of being an NCO is knowing when to step away and put some distance. But the other part is knowing when to come back. This is the hardest job on any planet, but you all are my family and I'm the oldest brother trying to keep you guys on the straight and narrow. I wouldn't trade it for anything else. …That said, take your time. But I can guarantee one thing: If your family see's you take some distance and come back determined to see her through? You won't understand the Corps better, bud. But every other Marine at your level and below is going to know exactly what it means to them. Being a leader means fighting all the battles with your Marines, including the internal struggles. They're the toughest. Its why we lean on each other. Its why I'm not yelling now. Does that all make sense?"

Gray nods as Coop speaks. "Yeah, it does…" It makes sense even if he's not sure how much of it he is or isn't buying. "Look, Coop…I'm going to let you get some rest. I…" He pauses for a moment. "I need to go get drunk. Or high. Or /something/." There's no mirth whatsoever in his voice as he speaks, though he manages a smile. "T…thanks for talking with me about this."

"Oh, one other thing…" he adds. "Uh, Lt. Wescott asked me to help Flynn recover. No offense, but…for the moment could I please pawn that off on you?" Now there's an awkward smile on his face.

Knox nods a few times. He lifts the report back and hands it towards Gray. "Take this. Do whatever you want with it. My off the record advice? Burn it and tell nobody you wrote it. But its up to you." He then relaxes down a little more and picks up the memo's again. A glance up and nod, "When you're an NCO one day, remember this conversation. Worst thing you can do is judge all actions of a fellow Marine in combat without talking to them. …You're welcome." The name gets a frown and he reaches for a paper that seemingly was just delievered before Gray arrived. "Private Kelsey Wescott, TDY Dog Platoon, eight weeks. Just signed. You said the other was a Lieutenant? Ah well. But yeah, I'll make sure she's alright. Sleep well."

Gray looks…somewhat confused, though he keeps his mouth shut at the confusion. "Thanks, Coop." Even if he might sincerely hope he never gets there.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License