"Is this a scorecard? You guys put scorecards on the side of your ships?" Apollo's first instinct was to wince. It hasn't even been a day yet and Starbuck is already scrapping for a fight. He can hear it in her voice, and even someone not familiar with her mannerisms could hear the deliberate scorn in her voice. Part of him wants to tell her not to antagonize the pilots of what is likely the only other colonial fleet unit still intact, but she's not exactly alone in her sentiments - he can see that Racetrack and Helo are no more impressed by the kills painted on the Viper's fuselage than Starbuck is. For that matter, he finds them rather off putting himself. Colonial Civilization has come to an end, and the Pegasus airgroup is spending their limited paint supplies on kill counts. That betrayed a certain lack of perspective.
Racetrack, being, after all, a Raptor crewer instead of a viper jockey, naturally can't miss the opportunity to take a shot at Starbuck. "Like you don't keep score."
"You don't see me painting them on the side like I'm bragging to the whole frakking universe." Of course not. Starbuck only brags when she thinks it'll get someone else to buy the drinks. Or get her laid, if Zack's stories from the academy were any indication.
"Hey, that's 48 kills right there." Which might be impressive if every Basestar didn't have several hundred Raiders in it's bays, and there weren't far more Basestars in service than the Colonial fleet had intact capital ships. The part of him that isn't vaguely annoyed at everyone in this conversation is beginning to become rather worried about the implications of the Pegasus crewmen thinking that any number of kills means anything when the Cylons can probably churn out new Raiders faster than the Colonial fleet - what's left of it - can manufacture new rounds for the Vipers' cannons. Admiral Cain's welcoming his father 'back to the colonial fleet' said worrying things about her sanity, and her subordinates are not making that initial impression any better.
Naturally, Starbuck is unimpressed. Even had she been impressed, she wouldn't have shown it, as being unimpressed with the competition was pretty much the standard attitude of hotshot ace pilots everywhere. But she's genuinely dismissive, likely because she can do the same basic arithmetic that keeps Apollo up late at nights counting, recounting and wondering how his old man can keep on against these odds. "Special. Do you have caps and t-shirts too?"
Helo laughs, in a half strangled manner that is too loud, to artificial. It's a snarky comeback, the kind Starbuck has long been known for, but Apollo suspects Helo's mirth was cut off by the same, despairing thought that treacherously popped up in his mind almost immediately. Of course there are no caps and t-shirts. Who would make them? The factories for such frivolities are gone, burned in nuclear fire by Cylon orbital bombardment.
It's almost a relief when the Pegasus CAG comes to the aid of his beleaguered subordinate. "Where's the Galactica CAG?"
"Right here," he says, injecting just a hint of challenge into his tone - he's outranked, but hes going to stand by his people.
The wannabe hardass seems to think playing drill sergeant is the solution to the dissension brewing in the ranks. "Let's hear the run-down on squadron of yours, Captain. I see you don't keep track of your kills. You should start- encourages morale, gets competition going, esprit de corps."
Apollo manages a, "Well, that's one philosophy," in a surprisingly even voice given that he is now fuming inside. Esprit de corps. What frakking corps? The Galactica Air Group is largely a mix of second line pilots who had been on the verge of cashiering out of the fleet before the Cylon attack, and half trained ex-civilian volunteers. The last thing they need is competition for kills. Carefully coordinated teamwork, limited as it is between civilians used to flying solo, not dogfighting, is the only thing keeping them alive long enough to learn how to do the job. He counts, not kills, but able-bodied pilots, ammunition stores, and tylium. The fleet is running short of all three. The Cylons show no sign of any shortage of Raiders.
"It's Admiral Cain's philosophy. That means it's your philosophy now, Captain." His ears hear the words, but all his brain hears is 'Admiral Cain is going to get us all frakking killed.
That makes it easier to snap back. "The name of my Commander is Adama, which should be pretty easy to remember, because it's my name." Not the wittiest comeback, but Apollo, for once, is entirely behind his father. Commander Adama, at least, can do math.
It's not until much later that he realized that there was a perfect rejoinder to the bullshit the Pegasus Air Group was trying to impose on his people. It's not one he's ever going to tell those frakwits, nor one he needs to tell his subordinates. It's a truth scored across his soul by days of continuous operations, Cylon pursuit dropping in every 33 minutes like a deranged metronome. Galactica's crew doesn't measure it's victories in kills. It measures them in days, hours, even minutes. Every time he wakes up and the remnants of the colonies are still living on in defiance of Cylon genocide, he knows they haven't lost yet.
There's only one scorecard that matters in the fleet, and every Galactica crewer with two brain cells to rub together knows it. It's kept in the president's office on board Colonial One, written in marker on a plain white dry erase board, and updated daily. Every day the number doesn't fall is a victory.
Yeah, sorry, unbeta'd. Wrote it in one sitting.