Rolling Uphill
Rolling Uphill
Summary: Quill and Rhea talk of engines, leadership, the Navy chain-of-bitching, and other old snipe songs.
Date: 45 ACH
Related Logs: None

Main Engineering Genesis - Deck 8

45 ACH 6285 Souls

Main Engineering is staffed by the Chief Engineer and his or her crew. There are enough monitors, flashing lights, back-up generators, consoles and various other areas to man the battlestar and keep it in top form at all times. Storage areas, locked areas, pipes, machinery and tools are all around the area. The desk of the ChEng sits in an area where it is the quietest so work can be done.

----< Condition Three - Duty Area >----—-
Contents: Quill Rhea Magic 8 Ball Marker_Four Whiteboard Wireless


Exits: [O] Corridor

Special: +detail - Details available

It's one of those rare occasions the ChEng is at her desk. Rhea's hunkered over some paperwork. It doesn't look Engineering related. Not directly, at least. It appears to be a personnel listing. She's dressed for duty, though, and her uniform is as greasy as normal, so the paperwork hasn't had her for long. Around her, Engineering chugs along in the ants-are-marching manner it always does. Even a little more uptempo. The Persius salvage operation has everyone hopping, and there are several former PAS engineers getting integrated into the duty roster.

In her middle thirties, Rhea Zimmermann is neither a young pup nor particularly grizzled. There's an air of easy, straightforward competence about her. The confidence of a woman who knows herself and owns both her strengths and foibles. She as a strong-featured, handsome face: high cheek bones, a broad nose and almond-shaped hazel eyes. Her face is smooth, save for tiny laugh and smile lines at the corners of her eyes and mouth. When she speaks, traces of a working-class Sagittaron accent color her words, though education and years of living off-colony have softened it. But her most distinguishing feature is probably her hands. Small but strong and calloused, with deft fingers and short nails that usually have traces of grease under them. Her long dark hair is currently worn down, falling in straight, almost black, strands down her back.

Rhea is dressed in Colonial Fleet fatigues minus the outer shirt. A dark brown tank top covers a gray sleeveless T-shirt, with a pair of silver hexagonal dogtags dangling from a chain around her neck. The T-shirt is tucked into a pair of olive green trousers, the legs of which are bloused into the top of black combat boots. A subdued black web belt is worn around the waist. The only jewelry she wears is a plain gold wedding band, on the third finger of her left hand.

"If the intake valves are cracked
And you're well and truly fracked
If the power spikes are high
And no one else knows why
If there's leaks in all the pipes
Oh, it's time to call the snipes,
Call the snipes, call the snipes, call the snipes…"

This jaunty tune announces Quill's arrival to Engineering, though its lack of true volume suggests the Ensign's singing more for his own amusement than anyone else's. He's on time according to the duty roster, and about to check out a toolkit when he spots Rhea at her desk. Aha. Captive CO. Quill trots over before she can escape. "Sir! On a scale of one to 'go away', how busy are you?"

He's on the tall side of average with a lanky build that's fit enough, but nothing to write home about. His skin is an olive tone which looks like it could darken to a lovely tan if he ever spent time outdoors, but the man's got that indoor look of someone who has only passing familiarity with sunlight. His hair is dark and unruly, and his eyes are an unexciting brown color. Those who are good at guessing ages would probably put him at late 20s or early 30s, and his speech marks him as a native of Virgon.

Quill is wearing the dark green navy work coveralls. The coveralls are rugged and flame-resistant, and are complemented by steel-toed work boots. Reinforced dark gray cargo pockets and a handyman belt around his waist hold any necessary tools. On his left sleeve is the black, gold and white Genesis patch, and the pins on his collar show a rank of Ensign.

Rhea looks up from her papers. Well before Quill 'sirs' her. The jaunty tune catches her attention. She listens to it and, eventually, starts bobbing her head a little. She smiles. She likes that. This means her attention is fully on Quill when he trots over. "I am knee-deep in bullshit, Ensign Quill. I've been absorbed in matters ovarian for the past few days." Well, he did ask. "I'd welcome something having to do with my actual job. What's up?" Her brows arch. "This *doesn't* concern someone's ovaries, does it?"

Quill's brows lift slightly. "Is that good news?" he asks. "As in, you were neck-deep in bullshit and now knee-deep is a considerable improvement? Or bad news, as in you were on solid ground before and thus there's no good reason for shit of any depth?" At her latter question, he quirks an amused smile. "No sir. No gonads of any description. I haven't been able to get a clear answer on whether the data from the PAS and its engine/energy configuration is classified beyond what I can read, and I was wondering if you know."

Rhea considers that. "I suppose it has gone from neck to knee. Which I'll take as good. Excellent." As to the lack of gonads in whatever brought Quill to her desk. "It shouldn't be. Not now, anyway. All the reasons for classifying it are moot now. In any case, you're a military officer now, Ensign Quill. You get to peek behind a lot of curtains. I'm sure we can get you an eye-ball on it. Anything specific you're looking for, or just want to admire?"

Quill grins. "I want to admire," he admits. "And after that, I want to tinker. Specifically, sir, if we succeed in hauling out those Persius FTL drives without incident, I want to re-engineer them with PAS technology to make a more fuel-efficient battlestar rig. The ideal outcome would be that we use so much less tylium, the refinery crew gets bored with all their free time and Command has fits of delirious glee. The drawback, assuming a lack of critical engineering failure, would be that while we're working Genesis doesn't have spare parts in the event of an emergency."

Rhea's grin broadens. This, she likes. "I knew there was a reason I hired you. I'll get you any specs you want for that, Professor. I was actually toying with overhauling the Genny's engines using the PAS specs, before the universe blew up." Her smile takes on a wistful crook. "It was going to be my good-bye present to this ship. Before I sent myself back to domestic life." She sighs. So much for that. "I never got much farther than thinking about it. Shit happens. And taking the Genny's engines offline for a full over-haul isn't very practical right now. The Persius' FTL is older but it should still work for this project."

"It is," Quill agrees, about the Persius's older FTL system. "And as a consequence, early schematics might seem something like strapping rockets to a steam engine. Making Mercury play nice with Valkyrie will be the easier thing though, I imagine; it's making PAS play nice with both that's the hard part. Dare I say, the fun part." Quill taps his chin briefly, thinking, then looks back to Rhea. "Did you make any notes or preliminary designs, when you were thinking about an overhaul? And if I work on this, can I steal… frack, what's his name. Senior Chief from the PAS. White hair, glasses, looks like a cranky bastard but is actually a very decent guy and a damn fine engineer."

"Senior Chief Darius Sagona, I think you mean," Rhea says with a smirk. "That's the one. He and the rest of the PAS engineers were knee-deep in the FTL installation on that station. Their input would be essential for something like this. And I think it'd be good for him. Therapeutic. Maybe give him the feeling his work on that station's living on in some way." She snorts. "Or whatever. I'd make a terrible shrink. It's a worthy engineering undertaking. Let's have some fun."

"He saluted me, is he supposed to salute me? Was I supposed to salute him back?" Poor Quill, protocol just doesn't stick well. Somewhere his training instructor is disappointed (but unsurprised). "Regardless, I don't know whether to envy the man for the fact that he was so involved with that station, or pity him for its loss. Either way it boils down to respect, and if he speaks up, I am going to frackin' listen." Quill blinks at Rhea's desk, and suddenly grins, totally distracted away from his previous topic. "Heeey, when did we get candy?"

Rhea doesn't laugh. Or bark. She doesn't get too riled up with the fineries of protocol down here so long as everyone is doing their job. But she does nod firmly to Quill. "Yes, Ensign. He was supposed to salute you. He's enlisted. Your brass. When they do that, just salute them back as quickly as possible and send them about their business. Best not to slow down productivity." She nods a little, as to the respect part. "Sagona's has a great deal of experience. From what he told me, he turned down a commission himself when he joined up. Just to be contrary." She snorts, amused. "Didn't want to mess with the management bullshit. Smarter frakker than me. Respect the experience. And don't freak out when he calls you sir." She scoots the bowl of candy toward him. "A gift from the Deck. They assembled it for us, in gratitude for our lending a hand with the birds. Dig in. As many as you like. You blistered your hands up good down there."

Quill retrieves a small notepad from his pocket and jots a note, not unlike the ones pinned to his bunk in the Officer Berthings. This one about what to do with NCO-salutes will doubtless join the rest of the herd there. "Good to know we both did the right thing then," he grins as he tucks the notepad away. "I feel as though I've done well on some sort of pop quiz. Unfortunate about the Senior Chief's arm, I think he'd be value added on the sojourn to our pet Mercury." Quill selects one candy from the bowl, turning it over and around in the palm of his hand as though transfixed by its cheerful wrapping. "PO Mopsus Doe did, as well," he notes, about the deck work and his hand in it. "I owe her a debt of gratitude for all the time she put into training me. Or, I mean… I guess I don't. I don't think I'm supposed to owe things material or psychological to Enlisted. But there is a depth of appreciation, regardless."

Rhea purses her lips when Quill takes notes on military procedure. Suppressing a smirk, most likely. Well, long as he's committing it somehow. "We'll get him wrenching proper soon enough. I'm taking a few of the other PAS refugees along, if you want to chat them up about engines while you're yanking out equipment." She nods, as to Snatch. She looks on point of saying something, to his remark about the enlisted. But seems to change her mind. Instead, she asks a question. "You know why I had you doing all that grunt work when you were in Basic, Quill? I put you through some of the most abusive jobs this department has to offer. Figured out the method to my madness yet?"

Quill raises a brow, and quirks a bit of a smile. The candy, still the only piece selected, is tucked into the same pocket that houses his notebook. "For the most part, sir, I think it would be scandalously unwise ever to assume I've totally figured out the methods in your madness. But… mm. I don't know if I can articulate this entirely, but I can say I would have done the same thing if I were you." He eyes his boots briefly, then looks back up at Rhea. "I had to pay my dues. I had to understand and appreciate that these jobs exist and that a thinking, feeling human being somewhere does them. That those people deserve respect. I had to get re-acquainted with the feeling of being the one who doesn't know anything, of being humble enough to learn it fast. I had to discover that being a leader means you don't order people to work unless you're working harder and longer than they are." Another pause. "I hope this doesn't sound like rhetoric, sir. I really do believe you don't get or deserve respect until you earn it."

"It wasn't all about you," Rhea replies, allowing a half-smile. He got the answer right. "Part of it was. I wanted to see how you'd take to the work. And you're right, about the leadership part. That was my primary goal. I wanted the techs to see you sweat. See you work. See you were committed to the job and this ship. That's how you get respect when you're a snipe. I wanted to make sure that, when you got those pins, the techs respected you."

"Do they?" Quill asks, curious and skeptical in about a 70-30 ratio. "For that matter, do the other officers in Engineering respect me? Personally, I'd say the jury's still out on that for both the enlisted and the brass, and will be for a while. Which is more than fair, nothing happens instantly. Except criticality accidents. And THI's, though now that I think about it time inside a THI is probably not at all similar to time outside the event field." What was he talking about? Oh yes. Back on track. "I'm learning. But there's still so damn much I don't know about the Navy in general, and Genesis in particular."

"It's a start," Rhea says. "A good one. Half the battle in winning the respect of any enlisted man is letting them know you can sweat in the trenches with them. There's a lot of bullshit about the division between enlisted and brass. Most of which you're blissfully ignorant of, a quality I'm going to do my best to preserve in you. I try not to let it infect this department. Everybody gets their hands dirty in my shop. As to respect, they respect the rank. That's its privilege. The trust will come through the work. What you said about leadership before was right on the mark. Working harder and longer, making tougher decisions. Being smart enough to know that the NCOs under you know more than you do about a lot of things, and not being afraid to acknowledge that. You manage all that, you've got the makings of a better officer than a lot of the frakkers who went through OCS the proper way."

"Yeah, about that," Quill notes, scratching his head briefly at the mention of divisions between officers and enlisted. Awwww civvie ignorance. "I started out not even understanding why the military bothers with a division. Didn't get why it couldn't just be a meritocracy where the natural leaders rise to the top of a single rank structure. I think… I /think/ I can see how OCS was meant to do more or less the same thing, train up a class of leaders and people-managers and what have you. What I don't understand now is why there's the us-vs-them thing you mentioned. Most officers /don't/ get their hands dirty? Or enough of them don't that they give the rest a bad name? How could they even get through training if they weren't fit to do the job?"

Rhea shrugs. "Some officers treat the pins like they're an extension of their penis." The ChEng is a blunt creature. "Speaking figuratively. It's a gender-neutral affliction. There are some who just bluster and yell and expect the enlisted to jump to their whims. Those frakkers *are* rare, thankfully. The division is overblown in a lot of ways. But it exists for a reason. And it's an important one. When the shit flies, somebody has to be out front, keeping their head together and seeing that the job gets done. We deal with some hard shit. Especially now. The chain of command keeps people sane in the field. Most of the officers I know care about their people and don't jack off to their rank pins. You certainly don't seem like the sort who'd be prone to it."

Quill nods at the explanation, lips quirking in amusement at the Major's turns of phrase. "Hopefully not," he agrees with her last sentence. "I'm trying to be cautious. I don't even tell people about the PhD, you can kind of see them twitch and recoil if it gets mentioned. The work will speak for itself more than the doctorate will, I figure." He pauses. "Although… mm. I wasn't going to bring this up and I want to state beforehand that I am absolutely /not/ grubbing for a higher rank or trying to show dissatisfaction with the one I've got. I think Ensign is completely appropriate. But why didn't anyone tell me it'd be that, rather than Lieutenant? If it's due to particular failings on my part during training, I need to know about them so I can fix them."

"Under normal circumstances, you would be a lieutenant right now," Rhea says, waving a hand as to the 'particular failings on his part.' "That's the standard base rank a doctorate'll get you. I figured command would keep to that. Of course, under normal circumstances you would've gone through weeks of specialized officer training, which isn't possible out here. I guess they thought starting the degreed civvies out as ensigns would be more appropriate. Can't say I disagree. I've been given the discretion to evaluate your performance in the coming months to judge if your current rank is appropriate. Don't get too comfortable, Quill. You may frak up and impress me." She smirks. Live in fear.

Quill looks somewhat relieved when cued that he doesn't have a check next to the Epic Frack Up box on his training evaluation, and nods. "Can't say I disagree either, sir. And I doubt you'll have too many more civilian engineering doctorates to recruit to the lair, here, but if it somehow comes up again, please tell them about the Ensign thing now that we know that appears to be the procedure. The spare moments I had in between working and sleeping were filled with panic at the thought of the letters L-T." At her cautionary statement, he grins. "Warning taken, sir. I shall strive for mediocrity."

Rhea nods on that. "I apologize for putting you through unnecessary panic over high rank. For what it's worth, I would've taken you as an LT. Though I suspect you will indeed be happier as an ensign. For now." Fear. "Try to only drop the things that don't break easily when you're trying to look incompetent. I'll expect dazzling competence when it comes to FTL modifications. I'm sure you can pick Sagona's brain for astounding details about the way the PAS' engines operated. And Major Carter's, for that matter, now that he's properly ambulatory again."

"I'm too paranoid about supply shortages to drop even nonbreakable items in my quest for incompetence," Quill demurs. "I'll settle for suggesting inappropriate engineering projects. Like building a still, and using it to create an alcohol cartel that slowly brings all of Genesis's other departments under Engineering's sway. The Viper pilots will fall first." At the mention of Major Carter, Quill's brows lift in surprise. Somehow he lives with these people and yet does not pick up on pertinent info such as 'wow, Reed is looking significantly less like a corpse these days.' "Is he? Already? That's good news, when's the Major back on duty?"

Rhea's brows arch and her lips crook. "A still? Ensign Quill. I am shocked. Such a thing is against the letter of regulation. Not to mention damned unsafe if you're doing it wrong. I remember back when I was a specialist and a group of young snipes were stupid enough to try and build one right in the engine room." She shakes her head in disapproval. "Now, if they'd been smart, they would've erected it in one of the Engineering supply rooms. Kind of like the ones by the Aerospace Fabrication lab down the corridor. Where their ChEng could ignore it in good conscience." Hint, hint. Her smile gets less smirky as to that last. "He should be on light duty now, as I understand it. From what he told me, Regas is going to put him to work as a watch officer in CIC. Not quite the research lab of his dreams, I suspect, but he's certainly a capable hand on the big Comm."

Quill grins broadly the mention of the Aerospace Fabrication storage rooms, then nods sagely. "You're absolutely correct, sir. Strictly hypothetically speaking, of course." At the latter statement though, Quill stares a bit. "The CIC? /Why/? Major Carter is brilliant! They can't just stick a mind like that in the CIC, that's a criminal waste of humanity's intellectual resources. What will he learn there? What will he create, invent, discover, explore? I mean the leadership aspect, yes, that's absolutely fitting, but…" Quill pauses, then stops protesting. "Sorry, sir. Not my business. Command's got reasons for everything and I'm not here to question them."

"I suspect he'll find a way to wriggle out from behind the DRADIS and slip into a lab coat now and then," Rhea says dryly. "He used to sneak out of the PAS' CIC to discover and explore, and he was a CO then. Easier to find escape routes the farther you get from the top. Anyhow. We're all cogs. We're used as we have to be right now, not as we might want to be. If the universe were still in its right state, he'd be off terraforming some desolate planet into something alive. And I'd be gearing up to head back to Picon, for that matter, to a comfortable teaching job with the Engineering Corps and domestic marital bliss. The best laid plans, and all that."

The words 'domestic marital bliss' provoke a brief grimace. Regret? Something like that. The expression lasts only a fraction of an instant, before Quill's nodding to the rest of what Rhea said. "You're right, sir." Another pause lingers, before he asks cautiously, "How can you be a good cog when you think the watch is telling the wrong time? What do you do? I'm not planning to protest — I signed up for this, I'll do whatever's involved. But these are strange times. Commands pasted to the walls. Commands being removed from the walls by people other than the ones who put them there. How does the Navy handle dissent?"

"Shit rolls downhill, Ensign Quill. Bitching rolls up. That's the chain," Rhea says wryly. "I take it you're referring to the recent directive on pregnancy and marriage?" Her tone is carefully neutral. Very, very carefully. "If you have an opinion on that matter that you think command needs to here, bitch to me. I will then bitch on your behalf to the XO, and he will bitch on our behalf to the commander. If you want to be real industrious about it, you can put your bitching in an official memo." She clears her throat. "Though I'd recommend you self-edit a bit if you have a strong opinion on the matter. Putting your signature on an official Navy document where you use a phrase such as, for example, 'patriarchal Gemenese cult' or, hypothetically speaking, tell your commander to 'keep his nose out of your ovaries' is not the most professional verbiage one could use."

"Someone who joined the military three weeks ago is the wrong someone to be complaining about official policy," Quill says, after a moment of thought. "It would appear very… civilian if I did that, even though plenty of proper Navy crewmen and officers are already pissed as frack about it. But yeah, that's what I meant, the marriage thing." There's another pause, in which he picks up another piece of candy to study, then Quill sets it back in the bowl, still wrapped. "There won't be any memos for you to deal with, sir. Not even any bitching, though there's a nagging voice in the back of my head reminding me that silence implies consent." He draws a breath, and slowly exhales. "Well. Mild bitching. Worried bitching. I just… didn't expect this. When I signed my dotted lines and agreed that the military controls me and other people to a certain extent, I didn't expect /this/ extent. I don't understand it. I will follow orders come Hades or Styx, but I guess what I'm trying to say is that I hope I won't come to regret that."

Rhea snorts. "You're as proper a Navy officer as anyone now. If it makes you feel better, I've submitted an opinion of my own to command about it." Her smirk crooks. "I assure you, I'm *not* a proponent. Like I said, bitching rolls uphill. Wouldn't be appropriate for me to tell you what I really think of that…directive. I can tell you some of the department heads, including myself, are trying to hammer out…alternatives to present to command. If we're speaking freely, I don't think it'll stand. And I'll say this as well, just as people. Almost every remotely adult relationship I've had, including my marriage, has been with a Navy man. That's been eighteen fairly interesting years, personally. It's entirely possible to have a reasonably happy personal life within the regs."

The Ensign smiles a bit, a reciprocation of the Major's own expression. "I hope you're right, sir." About all of it — Quill being a proper Navy officer, the directive not standing, a possible personal life within the regs. "'Reasonably happy' used to be something I thought I was just settling for. These days? Sounds pretty damn good and I hope I'm lucky enough and hard-working enough to see it happen." He eyes a clock, "And speaking of, it'd probably make you reasonably happy if I actually got to work sometime this shift, eh?" Quill seems about to go, then pauses. "As an officer and as a person, sir — thank you." He salutes, then it's off to tools and the work-stations not far away.

Rhea acknowledges Quill's salute and absorbs herself in her desk again. Work, work, work.

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