Socks Jake arrived at the entrance to Admiral Sinclair's quarters still dressed in his flight suit, having not had a chance to change out since he'd gone on a Combat Air Patrol a few hours before. It wasn't something he did as often as he'd like anymore, but he made a point to get out regularly to keep his skills up and help train some of the younger pilots at the same time.
After three years of war, even those that had been the greenest of rooks when the Colonies fell were now hoary veterans. There were all too few of them, more than half of his pilots had never seen the inside of a Viper prior to the start of the war. He thanked his lucky stars that Mercury class ships had their own fighter manufacturing facilities or they'd be woefully short on cockpits.
"I'm here to see the Admiral, Corporal. She's expecting me," he told the marine guard at the entrance of the short passageway to her quarters
"Yes sir," The Marine saluted and stepped aside, and Jake walked the short distance to Sinclair's open hatch.
Classical music played lightly in the background. A small, but helpful luxury to those few of a high enough rank to be afforded it. While she was still technically capable of flying, Sinclair's piloting days were more or less behind her. At least, in an operational capacity. Some studies, before the renewal of hostilities, pointed to orchestral melodies helping babies to mature; something about it being at that vital stage of development while still in the womb.
The Admiral knew not whether that was true, but did acknowledge that it helped her to think.
If there was any need to verbalize permission to stand at ease, then it was given. Of course, all things considered, it was a given that certain formalities might have been dispensed with. Whatever the case, Jake functioned not too unlike she had, with the previous Admiral. He was probably the one individual she spent the majority of her professional time with.
"I take it you've seen the latest reports?"
"I have." Jake had looked over them after coming off patrol, which is why he hadn't bothered cleaning up first.
"The crew of the Granite Moon might be right, in terms of being overworked. Unless the politicians can free up some manpower from elsewhere in the fleet I don't think the situation is going to get any better in the near term though."
As far as he was concerned the manufacturing ship was complaining to the wrong group of people. The military was charged with defending the fleet, not managing it. That was the job of the politicians.
"I'm more worried about the fire drill results from Pacifica, frankly." He made his way over to her side table and poured himself a glass of water before joining her by the bookshelf. "If they don't start shaping up we're going to be in a bad spot when the toasters find us again." In his opinion it was just that, a question of when, not if, the Cylons would find them again. The bastards always seemed to find a way.
"Absolutely," the Admiral agreed. No hesitation. Total consensus. "I've seen what happens when a blaze reaches tylium stores... It's not pretty. And those figures are assuming it happens at full combat alert - sabotage won't come with a warning."
A pointed look was exchanged between them. Although it was not yet confirmed whether the cause had been political idealism or Cylon programming, one of the prisoners held under suspicion had been caught trying to flush most of the airlocks out into vacuum, aboard one of the destroyers.
A few more minutes without detection and they would almost have succeeded.
"I was reading up on some history," Sinclair continued, gesturing to the volume open in one hand with a nod of head. "During the first war, a wolf-pack was kitted out with the latest of whatever was available. Frigates, destroyers... Nothing fancy. The idea was, quantity over quality. Send out enough to smother the supply lines, move the nearest assets on ahead, then repeat. Unfortunately, nobody factored in logistics. They used up most of their supplies in the initial engagements, chasing anything big enough to function as transport - and spread themselves miraculously thin, as a result. They had to high-tail it home on reserves, almost completely out of ammunition and the whole thing was considered a somewhat dismal failure."
With that said, the book was placed back in its rightful place, leaving Sinclair wearing a decidedly skeptical expression.
"And here we are, repeating the same unintentional mistake..."
Turning more squarely towards him, Sinclair now had that 'I'm-making-a-decision-and-you-won't-like-it' look upon her face.
"Fuel, we're fine for. Weapons and repairs, we're not. If we come out of our next engagement as badly as the last time, we're going to have to consider cannibalizing the civilian fleet, Jake."
Jake almost choked on his water mid sip at the Admiral's pronouncement. It wasn't entirely unexpected, he knew the state of the fleet almost as well as the Admiral, if not better. "Claudia...we haven't got the authority to do that." His protest was more for formality's sake than any real sense of loyalty to the civilian leadership, and he knew that the Admiral would be aware of it. She knew him too well.
What he was really concerned about were all the potential headaches that would be involved if they did start to cannibalize from the civilian fleet, along with the sense of betraying the very people they were sworn to protect. He may not care about the politicians but he did feel a real sense of duty toward the civilians as a whole.
"Let's cross that bridge when we come to it, hey?"
"I assure you, I'm not saying this lightly... But we're not going to have many options and I can't see Wyndom putting up a fight, if they have to choose between their own hides and a few antique tubs. Dead voters don't make for good PR."
She might not have the jurisdiction to force it through, but Admiral Sinclair was the one who had to take the ultimate decisions, when it came to the military. If ordered to disband completely, she would have little choice but to comply with even that. Still, she did have a duty to warn of impending doom and her advice carried weight, no matter how much some would rather ignore it.
Idealism was a commodity the survivors could ill afford. "I'd rather it didn't come to this, but I want you to be prepared for the fall-out, just in case. Until then, we'll pray for somewhere without sub-zero temperatures and an atmosphere of sulphuric acid."
The prognosis, as they say, was not a good one. If the fleet was a patient, then this was a notice to stop smoking and cut down to alcohol once a year. Sinclair had relaxed shoulders at her last comment; the body language and fact that she was calling him by first name, rather than last, being a sign that this was a subject in need of at least discussing now, even if hoping it would not need to be confronted.
"So," she affected with a dash of gallow's humor, "wanna' talk about socks?"
"Right." Jake sighed and made a mental note to call a meeting of the department heads so he could hand out planning assignments. They needed to have everything in place to execute the Admiral's order if it came down to it actually needing to be given. Maybe the civilian leadership would listen to Sinclair's warnings and allocate more of the scarce resources their way.
And maybe horses could sing.
"I'll pray for warm tropical beaches and busty dancing girls, thanks." He responded to her comment about an inhabitable world and took a sip of his water. It was only in the past six months or so that he'd felt comfortable making that sort of joke, even with Sinclair who he counted as a friend as well as his CO. Bridget had been dead three years now, it was time to think about the living rather than mourn the dead.
"I don't think you'll be the only one," Claudia replied with a pragmatic smile and knowing raise of brow.
Those who thought creating the next generation would be difficult, had evidently never been to a refugee camp. Human beings under pressure with little to do and lots of mixed genders, meant sex was no problem. At least, for the civilians. If anything, there had been serious meetings about how to handle the inevitable population explosion. It was one of those things which fell under the mutual heading of both a military and political decision, yet had the capacity to provide all manner of comically inventive solutions, whether unintended or not.
Sinclair still had the formal proposal she had received for 'co-habitating maritime baby nests' safely tucked away, for when she needed something to raise herself a smile.
And that had been one of the more serious ones, complete with diagrams.
"In the meantime, I'd like you and Simmons to draw up some sort of prioritized list across the civilian ships... Hull metallurgy compositions, special equipment, any weapons, numbers of crew - that sort of thing. We need a full inventory and an up-to-date one, too, in case we need to go ahead with this. Anyone stationed on the most necessary are just going to have to be transferred somewhere else. We need to find out what we could pull apart for fresh material, should the need arise. That goes for eveything; from electronics for warhead fuses, right up to bullet casings and deck plating. Find out from the individual Commanders what they're most in need of. If nothing else, if we can find some sort of alternative, maybe I can use it as a selling document, to show what a worse-case scenario might be."
For Jill, it might bring up memories from the time of Admrial Pullo, when being ordered to select the most applicable people to save. At least this time, nobody would have to die. Just... Endure a distinctly less comfortable existence.
"We already have a preliminary report, inventory from when we left the Colonies," Jake reminded her. It would be in the archives somewhere. "I'll use that as a starting point and see where we're at now versus then." He couldn't imagine it would be pretty. These ships were never designed to be ran continuously and at the tempo they'd been under for the last three years without refit or benefit of maintenance at a shipyard. It was the will of the Gods that they hadn't had a major hull failure in one of the civilian ships after the stresses of an FTL jump.
"In the meantime, think you could breathe some fire on Pacifica's command staff? I've been trying to tell them they need to shape up but it's obvious they aren't listening to me based on that report." He'd already decided that the other battlestar's air group was going to get extra drills as a result of this report. If the ship was deficient in one area it was likely to have slacked off in others. "What do they think they are over there, the love boat?"
"Oh, I plan to," promised Sinclair, with just a hint of what might be described as bordering on mischief. "Think an inspection visit at short notice, followed up by a repeated series of chemical warfare drills, might do, to start things off?"
That was, unfortunately, another of the many hazards personnel needed to be prepared for. Toxic chemical residue was notoriously hard to properly get rid of and could render an entire section of the ship even more inoperable, if of a corrosive nature. The Cylons had been using explosives, up until now, both of a chemical and atomic nature. It was only a matter of time before they tried something else to hinder operations, if they could not stop them completely.
All the better to scare the shit out of you, my dear...
"Make sure to, uh, infer I'll only be breezing through, won't you? Because I won't have any reason to stay on for a while, if they're as operational as they should be, wouldn't you agree?"
"Oh, of course!" Jake chuckled with evil glee at the thought of the ass kicking the command staff of Pacifica was about to endure. "Just a routine inspection, won't even last a day." His eyes gleamed as he tossed back the rest of his water.
"With your permission I'll go and draft a memo to that effect to send out." He'd be practically skipping his way down to his own cramped office within the section of the Battlestar dedicated to the Admiral's staff to draft the memo. "It'll be transmitted to Pacifica within the hour."
"I look forward to it," smiled Sinclair, speaking nothing but the truth. It was one of the few pleasures left available to her and, really, could be wonderfully therapeutic. "Tell them I'll be shuttling over, some time in the next few days... I'd like to see their reaction when I actually turn up this evening."
Yes, it was sadistic, but also? Just a little bit fun.
"As you will, Colonel," farewelled Claudia, nodding as he opened the door to depart. "As you will..."