PWD #21: What is War?
What is War?
Summary: Sergeant Knox discusses the nature of humanity and war with Major Vlakhos.
Date: 12/14/2012
Related Logs: None
Knox Vlakhos 
Landing Zone
Just outside the fences and gate to Sheridan, the first official town on the new planet, is a large area about one hundred yards by one hundred yards covered in perforated, steel planking. The dirt below seems to have been tamped down solid and the planks sit several inches below a 'step up' to the rest of the terrain. There are several green lights surrounding the plating at the edge to mark it as visible from the air. Along the edge are a few Vipers and Raptors parked under semi-permanent structures with basic ground crew kits nearby. A cinderblock shed sits at the edge, the entire top half covered in plexiglass that acts as a control tower, several long, whip antennas on steel supports sit on either side.
PWD #21

Later into the afternoon, the sun is creeping towards the mountains to the west and casting shadows. A pinpoint in the sky providing so much light can be a bit odd to get used to, but the cold of winter is only a few weeks lame and will be gone soon. For now, Knox is working down at the ATC shack. He's in his worn cammies and a heavy parka jacket, both of which look like they've seen a lot of use in their time. On his head is his thick watch cap and a single earphone on one side, a boom mic coming around to his lips. He's working at one of the radio antennas and taping up the bottom with some black duct tape. Field repairs!

A well-deserved run is what she's needed, but the fact remains that she's got a job to do and Major Vlakhos can't waste all day out in the woods. She slows down as she jogs onto the packed earth of the landing zone, lifting a hand to wave thank to a truck that slows long enough for her to pass before it. Her route brings her by the ATC shack and she glances sidelong at Knox, slowing to a stop and resting her hands on her thighs. She takes a deep breath, gathering her composure before she speaks.

"I've got some gum if the tape doesn't work out, sergeant."

The Sergeant looks up at the sound of approaching feet beating the packed terra. There's a hint of a smile to his face as he looks back down as he finishes wrapping the tape. "Oh, I think it'll be okay, sir," he says. The man has a rep for how quiet and reserved he is. The underwhelming, gentle confidence of a quiet professional. The tape is torn into an end and he finishes the wrap, nodding back to the woman. "Have a good run, Major?" He steps back and motions to the ATC shed. "I worked up a little camp stove. Got some hot cocoa packets or instant coffee?" he offers.

"Not on me, sorry," Vlakhos says, patting the empty pockets of her standard issue sweats as she shakes her head. She stretches one arm out before her, clasping her other hand on her shoulder and stretching as she speaks, "Not bad. Good to get out and get a better look at things … plus it beats the hell out of spending an hour on a treadmill."

Knox just smiles, nodding once. He holds up a finger and ducks into the shed quickly. He moves around with his back to her and comes back with two mugs of coffee. "I was offerin, sir. No worries. Take your pick?" After she does, he sips at his and nods. "Aye. I prefer to run on the ground, Major. I feel like I'm actually getting somewhere. The old adage about running yourself ragged, going in circles? Always felt a little too true on a treadmill." He grins. "Course Sergeant Hook and I just spent a few days running the hills down south. If you ever get a chance, Major, you should come on down there with us. Watch the fast movers put on an air show. Those booms hitting the chest?" He chuckles lightly, shaking his head. "Never gets old, sir."

“I know what you mean,” Vlakhos replies, not elaborating further as she moves closer and gestures to the cocoa on the cooker, “Can't afford to take myself too far out of reach right now, though. There's still a lot of work to be done. Still, let me know next time you go and I might be able to scratch together a day.”

Knox nods a few times, sipping his coffee. "I hear ya, sir. Just getting through the red tape these days takes an artillery strike. And then a blowtorch. But if you didn't ay your prayers beforehand, well, that's just wasiting resources, Major. Denied." Coop gives a short laugh and stuffs his free hand into a pocket of his jacket. "Major Petra overheard me talkin about tryin to get down there and he was kind enough to expedite. Just hope the Wing is on its toes so we can move and get some iron work done, ya know, sir?" he offers earnestly. "Things any better for you? It'd be nice to get people down there with us. Typically the only officers we see close to the bombs are those on our teams, sir. Kind of a shame."

"Getting involved in anything and everything is kind of my job," the Major says as she takes a cup of cocoa, lifting it up to her mouth to take a tentative sip, "I don't only busy myself with the civvies. The red tapes about the same. Peacetime always gums up the works but that's what we do all this for, right?"

"Good to hear, sir. But peacetime is always a big fake-out to me, Major." Knox lets off a long breath, it coming out as a mist as the heat hits the cold air. "Look at all the stuff that's happened. Even since the Cylons left? We still aren't living at peace. I mean out here?" He glances to the sky then back to her. "We're safe, Major. Its nice. None of the crazies. But back onthe colonies, if its not one place? Its another. Not to mention that the Cylons could always come knocking at any point." He shakes his head. "Its unsettling. I just like to be ready. Make sure other people are ready."

Vlakhos nods her head, sipping the cocoa and staring off into the distance for a moment. Finally she speaks, a slight sigh in her voice, "I'm with you on that. Still, I'm not one to let the shit roll downhill. I'll save all my misgivings about command for my CO. But you're right. I suppose it comes down to what you want to define as peace."

Knox nods in silence. "Aye, sir. I know the feeling. Complaints go /up/, not down," he finally laughs lightly. "Well, sir? I'd say peace is a myth. Its an idea, but a subjective one." Apparently the Sergeant has thoughts on this. "We all have our own ideas of faith, love, religion, everything. I think Peace is in there, too. But using the counter-definition 'absense of conflict' is amoral. It excludes the possibility of future attack and assumes everyone is getting along at all angles." He glances back to her with a sip of his coffee. "In my opinion, its an impossibility, Major."

"I'll drink to that," Vlakhos holds the cup up to connect with Knox's, "Because if you're wrong, then that puts me out of a job." She doesn't laugh, instead idly drawing a line in the dirt with the toe of her shoe. "You're right, though. The Cylons could all be rusting into nothing behind the Line and we'll still be fighting wars forever."

The Sergeant tilts his cup to meet hers in a light -clink-. "I'm less worried about the job than I am about everyone else. I'll be dead honest, sir," he says quietly, another long breath. "I like to play games in my mind. Posit scenarios. Think of solutions. Keeps me from getting lazy. But, really, think about that, sir." He look to her. There's something there. "What would make humanity stop fighting each other? Even during the Cylon war, people were settling scores. What's scarier? Complete peacetime and what might bring that about? Or humanity fighting its little wars forever in it current state?"

"It's good mental exercise," Vlakhos admits, taking another drink of her cocoa, "But I'm sorry to burst the bubble - conflict is what people are."

She holds her hand out, as though explaining something with a visual aid, "Take every person on every colony except for two and turn them to cinders. Bam. Gone. Take those two people and put them on opposite sides of Virgon. Nice place. Lots of space. Give them a year and they'll be fighting over something. I think the only way to get that complete peace you're talking about is mandatory lobotomies at birth and I'd rather be ornery than braindead."

Knox nods. "I hear ya, sir. Top to bottom." He sips the cup once more and looks out towards the flight line. "But conflict is one of the reason I have faith in humanity, you know? Its a steam vent. Revolution. Violence. Its horrible for the atrocities and anguish it brings, but I think that its healthier for humanity as a whole, Major. These things happen and they remember. They don't necessarily /learn/, but all it takes is one dedicated person to have learned who has the guts to stand up. You know what I mean, sir? Its not hopeless. I just find the idea of humanity stagnating under peace to be truly terrifying."

Vlakhos nods her head in understanding, though she adds no new point of her own. Instead she just stands in silence, mostly-empty cup of cocoa clutched in her hands. A somewhat strange look comes over her face, a thousand-yard stare right out to the horizon. Soon enough she speaks again, "Good to see you're thinking about these things, sergeant. Gives me hope for the grunts."

Knox tilts his head away, the quiet expression of a man smiling off. "Just stuff to think about, sir. Ain't a big deal. Besides, half our job is Hurry Up and Wait. I can sit there jawin about people's sisters or somethin crude, or I can do something else. I've got a stack of books in the shed, sir. Reading is the best medicine." He sips at the mug and looks back to her. "But we come out here for this. At least we got pretty sunsets, sir. I won't get tired of these. Nothin like 'em back home, Maj. I love this place. Wish I'd done all three years."

"Mhm," Vlakhos murmurs in agreement, "It's a nice place. Who knows, maybe you'll get an assignment here. I doubt they intend to leave it completely without a garrison once we're done."

"Aw, sir, there you go gettin my hopes up," he laughs lightly, glancing over to her. "I'd be happy as a hawk on the wind out here. This is such a beautiful piece of real estate. I'm glad we've got the military out here. It feel good to have a haven," he says decidedly. "But the reality is, like Hook, after this tour they'll probably ship us back to training rotations at the land bases. And the worst part? I can't even tell anyone about it." He just watches the sun slip lower, a smile plastered on his face. "Feels like comin home, sir."

Vlakhos nods once more, finishing off the last of her cocoa and putting the cup down near the stove, "Well, then I'd suggest enjoying it while you can rather than getting ready for it to end. Personally, I'm looking forward to getting back to what I do best. It's a nice place, but I prefer my planets with a little more history to them."

Knox laughs, some real voice to it this time as he nods. "Hey sir, we had some legitimate reasons for getting to the bombing range. But we could've gone up into the mountains on the east side rather than hang out near the beach. Man's gotta have his priorities." He gives her a knowing look. "Beach, sir. Might not be a bad idea to get some observation time in, Major, if I might suggest wome R&R with your work." He just grins. "Everyone needs some time to unwind. If you ever feel comfortable, once the sorties are done for the day, we usually shed uniforms and get into civvies and sit around a campfire drinkin. No rank. No politics. Just brothers and sisters and the comraderie." He lifts the mug in something of a cheers. "If you ever feel so inclined, sir." He sips the mug. "So you'd rather get back to the colonies? Get back in the saddle with humanity, sir?"

"R and R is something that happens to other people," Vlakhos allows herself a very mild chuckle, rolling her shoulders a bit and rocking on her heels, "But I'll keep it in mind. Cultures are what I study … this is a nice place, but it doesn't really have a culture. At least not yet." She lifts a hand, looking at the wristwatch she wears, "I need to get going, sergeant. Thanks for the offer."

"Uh huh. Well if its all the same sir, if you have that attitude than its probably something you are entitled to. A lot of officers think it goes the other way around." He listens to the rest, though and nods. "Have yourself a good night, sir. Be careful out there." He taps his hand to his temple in a mild salute, smiling with it.

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