AWD #238: Some Must Be Sacrificed
Some Must Be Sacrificed
Summary: Atalanta brings intelligence which she's just received on the Caprican occupation to Holtz. Naturally, an argument ensues about who they can and can't afford to sacrifice in a fight for humanity's survival.
Date: 01/09/2013
Related Logs: Teatime and the Briefing
Atalanta Holtz 
Map Room
Dominating the room is the large bottom-lit map table in the very center. Ten feet across and eight feet the other way, the table can gather a large number of people around it while still accommodating enlisted and support personnel in the small riser seating behind the table. The risers are done in single-piece desk sections that run the width of the seating area and have small reporting displays built into them along with communications ports for headphones. At the head of the room are two very large LED displays that can have almost anything put on them, including projections of what is on the map table. A single computer at the support seating controls this and in the rear of the room is a large, locked case that holds maps and table models.
AWD #238

Even when the fitness center is crowded, Kurt Holtz is usually given a fairly wide berth when he's performing his 'workouts' — which generally consist of the tattooed Tauron major raining a series of furious blows on one of the punching bags until he's exhausted his strength. Judging from his current pace, he's not even close to his threshold yet, still moving lightly and striking powerfully as a few beads of sweat roll down his bare chest. A sequence of punches ends with him taking a step back and unleashing a high snap kick on the bag, striking with a dull leathery thud.

The DCAG is hardly a stranger to the fitness center. On the contrary, she visits often, though usually in her swimsuit and sweats, on her way to the pool. But in her duty blues, carrying a fat file in her hand? That is an odd sight, one which makes her stand out sharply among all the sweating soldiers in their workout gear. She's clearly looking for someone — craning her head this way and that in search of a familiar shape, occasionally stopping at a bench-press or a speedbag when she spots a mess of tattoos on someone's back. "Hmmph," she says with a soft sigh, before finally catching sight of Holtz. She doesn't call out to him. Instead, she steps into the empty space that's been left for him — a clear violation of what seems to be the unspoken protocol here.

With Atalanta standing silently behind him, and his attention focused on the poor, battered punching bag in front of him, Holtz doesn't notice the DCAG's presence right away. He isn't standing in one place, though; as he lashes out at the bag, he's also slowly circling around it, and after a few moments his steps have finally carried him around enough to put Atia in his field of vision. Even as he sees her standing there expectantly, though, he doesn't stop. Brows furrowing in annoyance, he shoots a look at her before focusing back on his target as if silently hoping she'll take the hint and leave. She gives no signs of intending to leave, though, so finally he stops and lowers his arms, leaning to pick up a towel from the floor off to one side. "Most people know when to take a hint," he grumbles as he wipes the sweat off his face, his breathing slightly labored from the exertion.

"I'm not in the sort of mood this morning to deal with one of yours, Major," she says coldly. It is, unmistakbly, a warning — normally patient and reserved in the face of his flares of temper, she's got no tolerance left for it today. And it isn't even noon yet. She hugs her folder to her chest as though it were some sort of shield — a rather flimsy one, given who she's chosen to stare down across the mat. "I need to speak with you. Now." It is a tone which brooks no argument, a tone matched by the expectant expression on her face. She doesn't give one fig that she's interrupted him, does she?

For a few heartbeats, he simply stands there, matching her baleful stare and then some. "What the hell's so important it can't wait ten frakking minutes?" he retorts crossly as he folds his arms over his chest. The man makes no effort to move, simply standing in place like a defiant six-and-a-half-foot tall statue, though his eyes do flick momentarily to the folder clutched in her arms before going back to boring into her face.

She could issue an order, of course. He may not follow it, but it'd be damning for him if he didn't. The thought crosses her mind, a fact which is written all over her normally cool, reserved face. But why bother issuing an order when she already knows how to bury a hook under his skin and pull? "Very well then, Major. I'll speak with the rest of the squadron leaders about the assault on the Cylon fleet." Not ship. Not mining facility. Fleet. "I'm sure that between the seven of them and myself, we'll form an adequate battle plan to present at the briefing this afternoon, even without your input." Ouch. She really isn't in the mood to deal with one of his tantrums today, huh? Without another word, she turns sharply on her heel — parade ground perfection, really — and begins weaving her way back through the fitness center, towards the door.

There's a part of him that just wants to let her go, if that's how she wants to play it. Luckily, though, that part isn't in charge. With a muttered curse, he balls up the damp towel and throws it to the floor before taking a few long strides after her. "Hold on, gods damn you," he grunts as he hastens to catch up. "Fine, Major," he says as he pulls up beside her. "No more mood. What do you need?" He shrugs. "You'll have to excuse my state of disarray, I didn't think I'd be needin' a change of uniform." Okay, maybe a little more mood.

It's a game she isn't going to play. "Your appearance can be excused, given the circumstances," she replies, brusquely. There's a slight sniff. Indignance? A hint that he flat-out stinks right now? Both? "The fact that you are entirely too familiar cannot." She turns a harsh stare on him. Really, it's the sort of expression that would make a sane man swallow down his next barb — and probably his tongue, in an eager accident. Atalanta has drawn a line in the sand. "I've received new intelligence, both on Caprica and the Cylons, and wanted to discuss it with you…," she trails off. Of course, if he'd like to continue throwing snark at her instead…

Holtz may not be an entirely sane man, but he's also not a stupid one, even if he does look singularly unimpressed by Atia's glaring and sniffing. With his hands on his hips he snorts at her, but at least he doesn't stick his foot any further into his mouth. When she trails off, he just looks at her expectantly, a sweaty brow peaking slightly. "And?" he presses a moment later.

"Commander Spree came to pay me a visit," she retorts, brows arching. It is a fair indication of the gravity of the situation. "And let me with twenty-eight pages of intelligence printed in eight-point font, not including maps. This," she says with a nod to the exercise area, "is hardly the place to review it. Or the information provided by the prisoner accompanying her. I'll be in the map room, Major. I'll expect you there in fifteen minutes." She offers up a cold, polite smile. "Change your uniform, if you like."

The mention of Spree is met with a slight widening of the eyes followed by a curl of the lips. If he has an opinion on the commander, however, Holtz doesn't give voice to it. He looks around with a grimace when she nods at the room, crossing his arms once more as he nods. "Fine. Fifteen minutes." He turns back towards his discarded things, left behind near the sparring mats. "I'll be there."

She stalks from the room, doubtlessly headed towards the map room, as she had indicated. When he arrives, she's already settled in at the table there and — for once — poured herself a cup of coffee. Likely because whoever made it this time, at least it isn't that awful tar that Petra used to make. She's making a face at the mug, though, one almost as disapproving as the look which she shot him in the gym. The aforementioned folder rests in front of her, some of its contents already spread out for his review.

It hasn't even been fifteen minutes when Holtz strides into the map room; he's used to getting cleaned up quickly. He's wearing a set of green fatigues, and his hair is damp as if he'd grabbed a quick shower — or at least ran his head under a faucet somewhere. A hasty salute is thrown off before he approaches the table, a curious glance going down to the various papers and such on the table before him.

"In addition to a visit from Commander Spree yesterday, I received a visit from a Nine who was accompanying her." There's a pause, during which she swirls the brown liquid in her cup, absentmindedly. "She asked after you, personally — on behalf of Ceres, to whom she indicated you'd been quite… closed. I told her I'd deliver the message, though it was not the condition for the information which she provided me." A pause. "Would you like to discuss that first, or Commander Spree's request for the 11th?"

Holtz blinks. The reference to the Nine surprises him, but he simply utters a snort and shakes his head. "'Quite close' might be a bit of a stretch, Major. We were friends. At least… before I knew what she was." The thin smile on his face fades, replaced with something… uglier. "She tried her 'I'm a person' line on me a few times after the big reveal, especially when we got stuck down on Picon for a few days together." As he speaks, his eyes grow distant, his voice hardens and gets cold. "She saved my life, and that counts for somethin'. But not enough to make me forget what she was."

"You haven't answered my question," she says pointedly, though she hasn't yet bothered looking up from her drink. She ought to be showing him some sympathy, shouldn't she? Or perhaps revulsion at the revelation? Something, at least. But there's absolutely nothing on her face — nothing whatsoever. "Very well, then. The Nine's information first. It's simpler." A sip, followed by a grimace. "On the back of the folder, you'll find a set of coordinates located deep within Cylon space. I've been told that at that location is a refueling station, where the Cylons generally park roughly half a dozen basestars at a time — basestars they leave largely unmanned, as it takes approximately a week to refuel and resupply them. The information isn't confirmed, and despite Commander Spree's glowing reference, I don't trust the thing. We will be sending a Raptor to confirm if it's true and, if so, I will be assigning your entire squadron to the assault."

Holtz grunts. "I don't care which," he answers. When Atia settles on the information from the Nine, he just shrugs and listens, a stony expression on his face as she describes the refueling station. When she's finished, he utters a confident — one might say arrogant — "Only the best, yeah?" He slowly begins to walk around the table, occasionally stopping to look more closely at one sheet of paper or another. "We'd be fools to go in blind on the word of a frakkin' toaster. And frankly, I don't much care for either of them. A pack of Spree's mouthbreathers nearly put a slug through my head on Picon."

"I am sending the 777th in based on their record, Major, not yours," she replies frostily. "I've seen the killboard, but I've also seen your personnel record, including the long list of reprimands you've managed to acquire over the last two decades." Hades, the woman really is out for blood today, isn't she? The gods alone may know why. "The second mission will be a strike on Caprica. Commander Spree has requested that we target both the Quorum and the entirety of the People's Party at their upcoming induction ceremony. Information from the Nine has been confirmed by Major Jankovic's people on Caprica. It indicates that Adar wasn't the only collaborator, but rather a puppet being used by the Cylons to prop up a new party of registered cooperators, who have been "democratically elected" from an approved list. All accounts suggest that these high-ranking members of the new party have all had a hand in the genocide of the local people, targeting entire families based on a single hint of having aided the resistance, in a manner all to reminiscent of the Pican cleansing of ethnic Gemenese from their planet centuries ago." A delicate hand makes a sweeping gesture towards the maps and intelligence that she's laid out before him. "The newly inducted party will also be declaring the Articles of Colonization null and void and drawing up a new constitution for the Colonies shortly." A beat. "I will be leading the bombing of Avery Hall myself."

Holtz's knuckles go white as his grip tightens on the rim of the table, and stormclouds begin to form on his brow. "I was talking about my squad, Major, but please, by all means, don't let that stop you from takin' a personal swipe at me," he snaps, accent thickening as his volume rises. "Though it is gettin' a bit tiresome." But then she starts describing the Caprica mission, and he falls quiet, silently seething. His anger finds a new focus quickly enough, though, as she describes the situation on Caprica. "'Cooperators'. So, in other words… more collaborators. Traitors," he snarls. Flinty eyes follow the sweep of her hand to the maps before looking back up at her face.

"Something along those lines, yes. Though we have no indication who might be cooperating with the Cylons after having a gun held to their child's head, or who might be turned and able to provide us with useful information in exchange for an escape from the very government that they're joining," Atalanta says so coolly, it's a wonder that the room doesn't chill by several degrees. "Nor do we have any idea who might be attending the ceremony as guests or, more accurately, as "guests" there to add legitimacy to their regime." Her nostrils flare slightly, but she says nothing more, pausing there.

Holtz straightens, his massive arms crossing as he continues to stride around the table. "I had an uncle who fought for the rebels in the Pacification after the first war," he muses. "One of the lucky ones to survive without going up in front of a tribunal or a firing squad. He said once that in a guerrilla war, anyone who isn't actively helping you is effectively the enemy." He stops, pausing to pick up a sheet of paper, frowning thoughtfully as he reads several highlights before placing it back on the table. "Sure, some of them might've been coerced. But we don't have much room to rationalize these things, yeah? The longer we give the Cylons to entrench this puppet government of theirs, the harder things're gonna be in the long run." His tone is still every bit as frigid as hers, but it's no longer directly confrontational as the conversation moves back to the business at hand.

"It must be very nice," she says drolly, which is quite the surprise given her current mood, "to be able to paint the entire universe in nothing but black or white." A pause. "Unfortunately, I don't have that luxury. Someone on this ship will be answerable for this mission — to history and to the gods alike — and in this case, it's going to be me." She presses her tongue not into her cheek, but into the very corner of her mouth, forcing her lips to bulge outward for a moment. "The mission will be Predators only. Major Jankovic already has several on planet, which means that we can jump in on Raptors and hopefully avoid the sort of attention that bringing a cruiser into Caprican airspace would draw."

"I'm not sure I'd call it a luxury, Major," Holtz says with a piercing glance. "We're fighting for our very survival. It doesn't get any more black and white than that. But I guess it's easier when you're not the one calling the shots, yeah?" Is that understanding in his voice? Perish the thought. The mention of Predators gets a sour expression from the man, but he nods slowly. "Good. That'll make things simpler." He rubs his chin. "Haven't logged stick time myself in a Predator in years, though. Never much cared for the things."

"The mission will be conducted entirely on a volunteer basis, due to both the moral questions involved and the high risk to everyone involved." She taps her thumb against the tabletop, making a dull rapping sound on the hard surface. "There's no need for you to go, if you feel that you don't have the necessary skills." Another sip of her coffee, another grimace. Gods, she absolutely hates the stuff. "To be completely honest, you probably shouldn't. If the entirety of the 11th's leadership goes down, the Orion will be, to put it bluntly, completely and utterly frakked." That word, coming out of her mouth, is so completely anathema to her entire character that it's laughable to hear her say it.

"I didn't say anything about not having the necessary skills, Major," Holtz replies, steely eyes flicking up from the table to Atia's face, his chin jutting out defiantly. Gods, does the man's pride ever quit? "I can still fly, and I can still outshoot anyone in this bloody outfit." Normally, Atia cursing would draw a sarcastic comment or something along those lines from him, but this time his reaction is confined to a slightly raised brow before he continues. "Frankly, Major, if you want to keep me from volunteering, you're gonna have to break my kneecap or something here and now, because the only way I'm not going on this mission is if I'm laid up on a frakking hospital bed." And then, surprise of surprises, a small but genuine smile actually tugs slightly at the ends of his mouth. "Besides, if the wing is gonna rely on me for that leadership, we're frakked anyway, yeah?"

The comment — and more specifically, the smile — honestly confuses her. She gives him an unabashedly skeptical look, as though she's unsure of whether or not he's being sarcastic or laying some sort of verbal trap that he plans to snare her in. Her mouth drops open for a moment, about to reply, before she snaps it shut once more and wrinkles both of her brows at him. "Truthfully, Major, the problem with your leadership isn't a lack of skills or your excessive pride. While the latter is entirely unbearable, it's at least partially justified by your kill record. You are, truthfully, the best gunner we have in the Fleet. You've got a killer instinct that can't be taught, only imitated. But your probelem as a pilot is exactly the same as your problem as a squadron leader. It's your temper. You're entirely too easy to provoke. You charge in when you should wait and fight when you should withdraw. I strongly suspect that it's why I was transferred from the Rubaul, rather than putting you into the post. One day, there are going to be consequences for that; I'm hoping that they're consequences we can both live with."

Truthfully, it's more of a self-deprecating smirk than anything else. Kurt Holtz may be many things, but delusion usually isn't one of his vices. Whatever it is, though, it isn't any kind of trap, not this time. That would require a sort of subtlety that isn't particularly his style. He nearly snaps off a reflexive retort at her evaluation of him, but reins himself when she… starts complimenting him. After a fashion, at least, although he doesn't miss what she's saying between the lines, either. "Risk is our business, Major, and several of our pilots — including you — would be dead by now if not for me," he says with iron-clad certainty. "Maybe it'll catch up to me one day, but neither you nor I know for sure, yeah? I've stayed alive this long, and kept most of my people alive, so I must be doin' something right." He stops his circling to lean against the table, propping himself up against the metal on his hands.

"I'm well aware of that, so you can continue your chest thumping as long as you like, but it isn't going to get you what you want. It's a constant circle — who is alive because of whom, in a properly functioning wing. You can keep tabs if you like, Major, but I'm more concerned with keeping as many people alive as possible than I am with having the winning score." A beat. "As you said, we're fighting for our very survival." Another gesture towards the intelligence laid out before them, towards the pictures of the green park surrounding Avery Hall. "Everyone matters. Even the ones I don't particularly care for or respect, so long as they aren't a deteriment to that purpose. Lieutenant Colonel Shepherd was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of people. What have the spectators that we're likely to catch in the crossfire done, aside from fail to live up to your black and white expectations?"

Holtz snorts sharply through his nostrils, narrowing his eyes at her. "So, I'm just a chest-thumping brute who looks at all this as just a running tally? Now who's speaking in terms of black and white, Major?" He shakes his head. "Oh, spare me your high minded condescension. You think you understand me? You don't." Remarkably, for once his tone and volume remain level, even if he is staring daggers at her again. "You think I don't care about saving lives? You think I only care about these kids we fly with as points on a scoreboard? You think I get my kicks from killing people who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time?" He takes a few steps towards her, voice lowering to a quiet but heated hiss. "This is war, Major. And it's the worst kind of war. The enemy doesn't always wear a uniform, and sometimes he hides behind good people, innocent people. If we let that stop us from doing what must be done, then we may as well quit now. Some must be sacrificed if all are to be saved."

"Zeus's thunder!," she finally snaps. "Don't you think that I know that?" Her fist slams down onto the table — hard enough to make it rattle. Hard enough to hurt. She doesn't wince, though she's doubtlessly going to have a bruise on her wrist in the morning, from where it cracked against the table's edge. "Don't you think I know that?!," she hisses at him, in a much lower voice. She draws a breath in, slowly, holding it in her chest for several long seconds — holding it in until it hurts. When she finally exhales it's in a ragged, uneven sigh. She lifts her fist off the table, bringing to fingers up to pinch the bridge of her nose as though it may do something to stave off an oncoming headache. It isn't even the middle of the afternoon yet and she already looks run down, exhausted. "If you're quite finished pontificating about the finer points of war — points you seem to think I'm completely obtuse towards — I'd like to get back to the point of this meeting. The intelligence that I brought. I'd like you to review it. Not to satisfy your morality, apparently, but at least to prepare anyone from your squadron who may volunteer and in the vague hopes that you might be able to think of a way to minimize the needless casualties."

He doesn't jump or gape — it takes a lot more than that to truly unsettle the man — but nevertheless Holtz does look a little surprised at Atia's sudden outburst. "I don't think you're obtuse towards it, Major," he replies with a cold but restrained anger. "In fact, I think you grasp it better than most of us from the Orion. What I do think is that you spent so long in that hell that you're doing your gods-damndest not to think in those terms again. But… as you said, we don't have that luxury. You can talk high-minded ideals all you like, but that ain't gonna change the fact that you can't save 'em all, Major, and you'll just push yourself to an early grave if you try. And who the frak are you gonna be able to help when that happens?" With a last, long look in her eyes, he turns back to the table and begins to gather up the materials she'd laid out for later review. "I can't promise any miracles, mind. But I'll see what I can come up with, for their sakes," he responds to her last.

"Major, I never expected to live to be an old woman. Nor do I want to." She explains no further, but it wouldn't be particularly hard to guess what the meaning behind her statement is. She plans to die in battle, and seems to have calmly accepted this fate as her ultimate future. A beautiful death, some call it. "Those are the only paper copies that we have of those files, being as there's a dwindling supply of it, these days. If you need to keep copies, please have them scanned into your datapad. Those will be going into the Wing's official record. You can leave them at my office or in my bunk, whichever you prefer." Atalanta then rises smoothly from her chair, collecting her coffee cup, her notebook, and her own electronic tablet.

Her meaning isn't lost on him. It's not as if the same thoughts haven't crossed his own mind since all this began. It's not as if either of them has much right to expect anything else, beautiful or not. "Yeah, I'll do that," Holtz replies flatly as he starts stacking the papers and slipping them into the accompanying folder. "I'll try to get them back to you after the briefing." He watches her start to leave. "Major," he calls after her a moment later, the word springing forth almost of its own volition. "I…" There's a soft exhale as he gathers his thoughts. "Your family was in politics back home, yeah? I hope they got away before all… this." The words are stiff and raspy, but wonder of wonders, there's nothing in his expression to indicate he's less than serious.

She doesn't say anything — not a single word, for several long moments. Eventually, she swallows down the lump that is rising in her throat, leaving her voice thicker than it ought to be when she finally speaks. "My family has stood in defense of Caprica since the Fourth Caprican-Gemenese war, Major. Glaucus Frankling sore his oath of service in 1786, and every generation of Franklins has upheld it since — ten generations of Franklins, ending with me. Three generations have stood against the Cylons." Atalanta blinks slowly, as slowly as a cat soaking up the sun, though she shares none of a cat's contentment. "They won't have gotten away. They will have stayed, knowingly and willingly, as was their duty. They will stay, until either this war is over or every last one of them is dead."

Holtz opens his mouth, but closes it again a moment later as no sound comes out, a grim expression locked on his face. Finally, he nods slowly, and gestures in her direction with the folder. "I'll get these back to you ASAP," he repeats dully, before turning and stiffly walking for the exit.

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