Crew Introductions – Traditions of the Corps

The core of any warrior was rooted in discipline, and the Starfleet Marine was no exception. Core values like courage, honor and duty were drilled into every Private and Officer Cadet from the day they volunteered to wear the uniform.  So when a Marine chose to shirk that discipline in favor of more ¨freelance¨ displays of comradery, it was a matter that required review.

 

1st Lt S´tal regared his two junior Marines with typical Vulcan hardness as they entered the 202nd´s Briefing Room and gave their reporting statements. S´tal knew full well why this meeting was called, but the two junior enlisted were entitled to present their case as to why they had chosen this course of action.

 

Staff Sgt. Kalwari leaned forward, his Andorian antennae peaking straight up, ¨So, let me get this straight: at approximately 0200 hours, you two knuckleheads decided to pay a little visit to the hanger bay, correct?¨

¨Yes, Staff Segreant,” responded LCpl Ricekwinge, before he added ¨We were looking for Private Penn´s rucksack, which she said she left in the shuttle.¨

 

¨You mean, you wanted to show off for one of your most junior Marines in the hopes of impressing her.¨ S´tal corrected.

 

Kalweri motioned for the young men to continue, ¨And at what point did it cross your minds that you needed red paint?¨

 

This time, Cpl Palagena answered, ¨I was gonna mark her bag with it…so she wouldn´t lose it again. Nothin´ vulgar or anythin´, just a big ´X´ or somthin´.¨

 

¨And that´s when you two saw Lt Carver´s starfighter, the No Mercy?¨ the Andorian NCO questioned.

 

Palagena shook his head, ¨No, Staff Sergeant, we were next to Ensign Blackwell´s ship by then.¨

 

¨Which, obviously, required you to paint a two meter-anatomically correct human phallus on it for all to see?¨ the Lt frankly asked, causing the three enlisted Marines to repress varying degrees of snickers.

 

¨Well, he was an asshole, sir! ´Bout bowled me over prancing over to his ship during the first drill!¨ Ricekwinge retored. 

 

¨I didn´t realize you were a ranking member of our Starfighter Wing and so enabled to give this…unorthodox counselling to the Ensign.¨ corrected S´tal, sombering the room.

 

¨So when did Lt´s personal craft come into play?” Kalwari submitted, still picturing the giant member splayed across Blackwell´s ship and laughing internally.

¨His was the last, Staff Sergeant. Figured the biggest swinging dick required the best work.¨ the Corporal answered.

 

¨Do I even want to know how you knew the painstaking details of a Klingon erection, or how long it took to paint it three meters long?¨ the Andorian was snickering again.

 

¨Probably not, Staff Sergeant.¨

 

“And the reason you two proceeded to grafitti every starfighter on the Astraea with photo-realistc genitals was a measure of artistic skill?” S’tal posed.

To which the junior Marines nodded. “I suppose so, Lieutenant.” Ricekwinge replied.

 

“In that case Marines, you’ve got a bit of studying to do.” Kalwari finally laughed.

 

“I concur” the Vulcan began, “and my proposal to Chief Koing for ship-wide drug testing will specify you two as the 202nd’s monitors. So you can fully familiarize yourselves with the biological tools of every male member of the crew.”

**********

Another ensemble session of role-players, highlighting only the finest of cross-service bonding. Because in every iteration I’ve ever seen, a Marine is a Marine is a Marine.

I hope you all enjoy.

When Born a Dragon

In the beginning, I was born a dragon,
An engine designed for a sole purpose.
Every component crafted for little else,
blind passion, light and dark, painted my wings.

Yet without that function,
the beast drifts courseless.
Instinct without reason,
impusle without guidance.

Its mission now determined by power,
leaving animal drives over restraint.
The engine cannot balance itself.
A molten heart cannot thaw infinity,
The dragon, doomed to wither, cannot learn.

************

Sometimes it can be quite interesting to see what the brain can concoct with little rest and in the dead of night. If I’m lucky, it might even make sense.

 

I hope you all enjoy.

All Hallow’s Eve

As blood rises in the black

And the winds stand still as Death
Let us rise to the waking world
And dance our annual macabre
Rise, my fallen friends!
Spirits, ghouls, ghosts and horrors
Come and join our jubilee
Let mortal screams announce our year

**********

My entry for a very special, quick turnaround poetry contest, which doubled nicely as a test to see if I could even stanza again. Turns out, not so much, but it was a lot of fun either way.

I hope you all enjoy

The Bomber and the Predator – Part One

For a Klingon to spill their bloodwine was an act of blasphemy. To actively spit out the warrior’s libation was almost a sin against the warrior-god Kahless himself. But when Captain Vulch’tak heard the proposal, the crimson brew sprayed from his lips onto the table. “You can’t be serious!”

Across from the broad-shouldered barbarian sat a pale-skinned and petitely deceptive Y-Wing ace who now wore the title of Bolo Leader on her helmet. “Not at all, Captain. My squadron has run the numbers through our astromechs and we all agree it’s possible.”

The commotion within the frigate Coronation’s common area forced the Klingon to lean in to avoid attracting unwanted attention to such a ridiculous plot, “And how do you propose to do this? Is my crew to simply lash your ships to mine with our hair?”

Commander Yelah narrowed her eyes “Wouldn’t want your men to risk such fine frizzy locks. I’ve got my ground crews refitting all active fighters they can with magnetizing landing pads. We fly up, latch on nice and tight, then power down everything but life support so your Bird-of-Prey’s cloaking device isn’t compromised.” 

“And then what? So we ferry you invisibly into battle, risking my ship for such little glory? You may be brave for a human, but you do not know Klingon ways.”

Yelah took a long draw from her own tankard and smiled, “I know that a distinguished Captain such as yourself, with many victories in your galaxy’s Dominion War, knows the value of drawing first blood against the enemy. My fighters don’t have to use targeting computers to crank out our torpedoes straight off our noses, just a target. You get us close, point your ship in the right direction, and we’ll give you an Imp banner to fly in your quarters as a trophy.”

The Klingon raised an eyebrow, but did not pull away, “And you bring glory to your lost commander, am I correct?”

This time, the fighter jockey lowered her eyes, “General Pellius is…was,… a great pilot. We won’t forget him, but this isn’t about revenge. This crazy Task Force idea has a job to do so that our combined fleets have a lot easier job ahead of them.”

She pulled a pad from her hip and placed it between them. “Right now, our big ships have their hands full with a bunch of wayward Cardassians without a ship of their own. While the Feds and our cruisers find them beds and blasters, we’ll miss the window to strike the Imperial walker factory just next door. Six hours there and back at your top speed, and we’ll have given the Hate’s Hammer another reason to pull away from its normal patrol. Even a stocked Star Destroyer won’t catch up to us once the Task Force heads out.  Adding the armor factory on Timbauk Seven to our kill list will look great on your banner, as well as save a lot of lives in the future! And we´ll still be on time to hit the Imp´s fighter production plant.”

Vulch’tak gave his drinking partner a long stare, followed by a toothy smile, “I stand corrected, you have surprised me. Such boldness in strategy will bring glory to my crew and the Klingon Empire! Tell me, how many of your Y-Wings are you committing to this?”

“I’ve got four pairs lined up and ready,” Yelah nodded. “Two pairs up top, two pairs inverted along your wings. Plenty of room so we’re not bumping engines. My last pair will have to stay with the fleet, not enough parts to mod all my bombers. We drew straws already to see who’s going and who’s not, but my flyers are all training on this now in their simulators.” 

The Klingon stood suddenly with his cup raised, “Then we depart at once! Your pilots and my crew will bring honor and glory back to the fleet!”

The sudden shift in attitude surprised the fighter ace, “Wait, you’re not gonna tell your superiors on that old battlecruiser of yours?”

Vulch’tak drained his tankard in one swig and tossed the cup across the room, barely missing a passing protocol droid “Let them join us in battle if they are as brave as they are old. But this! This will be our battle, our song for the halls of Sto-Vo-Kor!” In a surprisingly sober motion, the larger warrior swept around the table and took Yelah’s shoulders in his hands, squeezing them like she’d seen other Klingons do to each other. “Qapla!”

The shout stopped all passers-by for a moment, at least until those familiar with the garish nature of a Klingon simply went back to whatever business they had at hand. Yelah was thankful the the lack of questions. Now let’s just hope a few sim hours make up for just how crazy this is…

*****

The plan still sounded crazy an hour later, as Yelah’s Y-Wing latched firmly in to the Bird-of-Prey’s port wing with an electronic ‘thunk’. Bolo Two was just as graceful in his landing a moment later, but cursing across the comm channel gave away that someone still had trouble.

“Lead to Six, you alright there Halass?”

A deep sandpapered voice grumbled back, “No damage to report, One. Just underestimated how strong these magnets are.”

“Copy that, ‘Thumper’”, Bolo Three piped in. “Hope you’re ready for a death-match if you scratch their paint!”

Halass shot back with a retort in his native tongue that no one else understood, but still chuckled at. That told Yelah everything she wanted to hear. “Let’s snap it up, team. Make sure you’re snug and power down everything you can.”

The ‘affirmatives’ rolled in, and she could see Bolo Two’s fighter go dark next to her. “Bolo Lead to May’Siq, we’re locked down here.”

“Target coordinates locked, engage warp drive!” Vulch’tak’s order came, and the Bird-of-Prey banked away from the rest of the Task Force, leaping forward into a streak of iridescent green.

Almost instantly, she heard the main comm channel light up with a Starfleet signal, “This is the U.S.S. Diamante, calling departing forces, state your mission parameters. We didn’t copy your flight plan.”

The Klingon’s response came first as a hearty laugh, “And that is why you’ll never have a seat in Sto-Vo-Kor!” Then the channel was cut.

“Place your bets now, Bolos. My odds say the Feds hold back and leave us hanging.” Two posted to the squadron channel, making Yelah grimace. “So let’s make sure we don’t need them. Keep chatter to a minimum, you’ll have plenty of time for debt collection on the trip back.”

Once she had the confirmation from all her flyers, the Commander closed her eyes and slunk back into her seat, letting the prismatic pinpricks of warp travel wash over her. Speeding past the lightspeed barrier this way calmed her pulse in a way hyperspace travel never would. Maybe because there’s not supposed to be abominations from the deepest parts of nightmares stalking us in this universe… she let herself muse. “Rattler, make sure you’re tied into the May’Siq‘s sensors. Anything comes across our path, you ping the other droids.”

The bubble-headed R2 unit behind her gave an irritated buzz, insisting that Yelah didn’t need to ask it to do something it had already done. She just shook her head at the droid’s cantankering and let her eyes drift along with the stars.

*

Rattler’s high-pitched warble jolted her awake, which annoyed Yelah, more so at herself than the noise. But the stilled stars above her canopy replaced irritation with alert. “Status check.”

Surprisingly, the Klingon leader’s voice answered her first “We’ve located an Imperial patrol dead ahead and closing. We are cloaked and holding position until they are in firing range!”

 No no no no no no! There’s not supposed to be anyone out here! Yelah’s mind raced, made even worse when she saw Bolo Two’s cockpit suddenly light up. “All fighters, standby! Keep your power in check until we need it! Rattler, confirm the Bird-of-Prey’s ID!”

On her Y-Wing’s display, she watched her R2 paint the familiar boxy picture of an Imperial Carrack-class cruiser, calling itself Lunar Impaler. And indeed, 350 meters of Imperial firepower was barreling towards them as fast as its sunlight engines would push it. A fact made even worse when Rattler noted that the cruiser was scanning every particle of dust and space directly in front of it.

Yelah’s fighter shuddered slightly as the Klingon starship’s wings lowered into their classic attack position. We’ve got surprise on our side, but it has to be perfect.  “Bolo Lead to May’Siq, hold your fire! We can’t let that cruiser send an alert out!”

“Do not presume to dictate our battle plan!” Vulch’tak practically screamed over the channel, “Their broken hull will be a fine trophy!”

“And if you charge them head-on, they’ll rip this ship to pieces!” the bomber ace countered. “We have to hit their main comms dish topside, and a cruiser like that will have its guns facing forward and out, not to the rear.”

She took the Klingon’s silence as a clue he was at least listening. “Get above their centerline and let them get past, and we’ll take out both that dish and their engines before those turbolasers beat you up too much!”

A low growl answered her plan, only for the Bird-of-Prey to begin rotating ‘upward’ from its position, flipping over the Lunar Impaler in a tight arc, but keeping its nose pointed at the cruiser’s heart.

“Bolo Flight, power-up and prep your torpedoes for dual-fire. Target the comms array and the center spine, and fire as the Klingons do! We’ll only get the one shot before that cruiser puts its shields up!”

“Bolo Two, ready!”

“Three, armed to launch.”

“Four copies all.”

“Bolo Five, angling the shot!”

“Bolo Six, two hot and ready.”

“Bolo Seven, ready to pop!”

“Eight, ready for visual lock.”

It was only a few seconds to wait, but it felt like hours in Yelah´s chest. The Lunar Impaler plowed straight on, seemingly blinded by its pursuit of what it couldn´t see. Her fingers tightened around the Y-Wing´s trigger and her breath came rapid and shallow. The Bird-of-Prey kept itself within barely three klicks of the cruiser in its flip, ensuring that any Imperial crewman that saw the Klingons de-cloak would have no time to respond. 

And as soon as their nose was straight down on the Carrack´s main comms dish, she heard the command ¨de-So’ ‘ej qul

¨Set marks and fire two!” Yelah howled, and two proton torpedoes lanced forth from her nose. Within the same breath, she could hear her wingmen call out the same shot, commands all but drowned out by the May´Siq´s disruptor cannons raining emerald fire into the Imperial target´s spine. The large communications dish shattered into a thousand flecks of metal and Bolo Squadron´s shots tore right through it and deep into the Impaler´s savaged backside. Yelah could see the internal explosions and bleeding atmosphere, illuminated by Klingon shot after shot raking down the cruiser´s length before hitting the engine block and ripping one of the Carrack´s sublight engines right off the rest.

The blocky Imperial cruiser began a slow rotation, trying desperately to bring its port-line guns against the Bird-of-Prey, but it was a losing battle now. The more agile Klingon scout kept its nose to the mortal wound it had already inflicted and continued to rip chunks of metal out of the Impaler. With little resistance, Yelah ordered her Bolos to save their torpedoes and pump as much laser cannon into their target as possible. 

The next problem arose when the fighter ace spotted the first escape pod pop free of the doomed cruiser, followed by another, then two more. ¨Bolos, hold fire, the Impaler is dead!¨

“Lead, each of those pods will have a distress beacon on it, “Two reminded her. “That could be good bait to pull any other patrols away from the Walker factory.¨

“Or give them advance warning that we’re coming, boss.” Four countered. “It’s not like they will…”

The point suddenly became moot as the first escape pod popped in a ball of fire, courtesy of a Klingon disruptor shot. Yelah had only enough time to gasp as the Bird-of-Prey vaporized each escaping capsule. But they were fleeing! How is there honor in that?

“Sithspawn! They just slaughtered them!” Two confirmed, to which Five added “Might have been the merciful thing to do. Do you know what these ridge-heads to do their prisoners?”

“Stow it, Bolos!” She yelled into her headset, far louder than she thought she had. A sick mix of revulsion, pity and fear brewed in her stomach, but the bomber ace didn’t dare show weakness now. “What’s done is done, and we’ve still got a mission to finish. Power back down until we reach out target!”

Her squadmates acknowledged, though the mirth in their voices was gone. She couldn’t blame them, “General Pellius wouldn’t lose his cool like that…” she whsipered into the recycled air of her canopy. Not even the eerie calm of warp speed steadied her voice or her hand.

“Lead, Two.” Her wingman chirped in on a private channel. “You okay, boss?”

She hesitated in answering that. This was my plan…this, this is my doing…  The thought played over and over, unwilling to let her mind move last the fear she imagined in her enemys’ eyes. 

“Brinn, where are you right now”

That got her attention, pulling her violet eyes over to the dimmed canopy of her wingman. “I don’t know, Krull. We all agreed that we’d never make it back on our own fuel supplies…so, I’m the one who baited Vulch’tak into this…but I never imagined they would be this ruthless. Even the Imps take prisoners.”

“They also blow up innocent worlds and erase entire species,” he countered. “I don’t like it either, but I also don’t like burying our friends and families.”

The muscles in Yelah’s jaw tightened. “I miss them too…” From her backseat, Rattler chittered a positive tune, and Bolo Leader let her body relax for just a second, “And we’re all that stands in the way of a few trillion cases of longing and regret.”

“Took the words right out of his mouth, boss. Pellius would be proud.”

She smiled to herself, trying to remember what certainty felt like, “He’ll be even prouder when we all get back and drink these barbarians under the table.”

Krull chuckled over then channel, before it was interrupted by that feral Klingon bravado. “Ten standard minutes to target! Are your pilots prepared for death and glory?”

“Glory, all day! Death, they’ll have to catch us first!” 

************

This is a piece I´ve had stewing for some time now…mainly because I don´t know how it will end yet. Will they succed? Or maybe not, and so pay the price for a hasty decision? Your guess is as good as mine.

This is also a sequel piece to a larger opening move, as major intergalactic powers begin to beat the drums of war.

I hope you all enjoy.

U.S.S Gladius – The Tried and True

She was old before she was even born, coming into the universe in equal parts leftover parts and desperation. Officially, she was christened as the U.S.S Gladius, NCC-41379. But anyone who was fortunate or unfortunate enough to serve on her called her “the Lazarus”, because she would not die.

 

The Abbe-class torpedo destroyer was built for only one function; slinging projectiles at everything around it. She was fast on her feet, and built to run instead of brawl. This was made clear during the Cardassian War, when her primary hull was cut in thirds during an ambush. But the Gladius had proven her metal and was repaired, sent back into the wild to wave the mighty Federation flag in its farthest reaches.

 

As with many of her sisters, it was only a matter of time before the cosmic wonders of creation also became wells of destructive power. Such was the case when she ran across a subspace rupture that bent what once was reality into the raving illusions of the crew’s repressed fears. Several of her crew, Captain included, went psychotic as they collapsed into their secrets and no less than a third of the crew were killed in some fashion. Only by burning the impulse engines hot enough to melt the surrounding bulkheads did Gladius push herself free to begin the silent trip to a safe haven.

 

During the brief Klingon War, she gave more punishment than she received at last, pouncing on the even older K’tinga-class battlecruisers. Her new captain at the time had developed quite the tactic for ripping out the bellies of the older Klingon dreadnoughts, and that method carried the Gladius up to the Dominion War. Then everything changed.

 

If there was a mission that a picket ship like her wasn’t built for, it was counter-insurgency. Calming rebellions and detaining prisoners was a job for a larger Galaxy or Excelsior-class. And the Dominion were savants at creating dissonance and chaos within the outer limits of the Federation. While the might of Starfleet concentrated on saving worlds like Bajor, Trill, Betazed and even Earth, the Gladius watched frontier worlds descend into anarchy and panic. 

 

Whenever she had to fight, the battle would always go one of two ways, depending on who her opponent was. Silencing a planetary resistance or indoctrinated fighting group was easy. The Gladius would simply rain down photon torpedoes on her foe until they buckled, or were blasted into pieces. 

 

The Jem’Hadar were the opposite, chewing up and spitting out the Gladius whenever they met. Her first fight with one of their raiding packs cost her a nacelle, most of her torpedo magazine and all of her commanding crew. She wasn’t even fully repaired when she suddenly had to fight off a Breen assault, which left her adrift in the void for a week until she was rescued. And at the penultimate Battle of Cardassia, the Gladius had endured the suicide ram of a desperate Jem’Hadar fighter, at the cost of having her torpedo launchers ripped right off her back.

 

Time and again, her limping back to a repair yard threatened to spell her end. After all, her parts could be used by a dozen other starships, and her crew were gaining experience unlike many in Starfleet ever would. Yet Fate, either in mercy or as a cruel joke, continued to push the aging torpedo ship back into the stars to fight the irregular and unpredictable fight. And so, “Lazarus” endured, always evading the guillotine of bureaucracy.

 

 When the War ended, and her crew rotated out for greener pastures and greater things, the Gladius was long overdue for a gift rarely known at her age; a full refit. Everything including her bones would be removed, restored or upgraded and reapplied in loving detail. She would transcend beyond the original limits of the Abbe-class destroyer and be a young, modernized starship at last. 

 

But the galaxy was a different place now, and there was no rest for the wicked or the dutiful. The major powers were still reeling from the bloodshed, and nowhere was this more prevalent than ever out in the Federation’s frontier. The Maquis insurrection against Cardassia may be a dead memory, but their model of rebellion was alive and well. The promise of utopia and Federation stability had been shattered by the Borg and the Dominion, and several once-nameless worlds now stood alone from the union and each other. So while the shiny new starships rolled off the line and rebuild the Federation from the center first, it was up to her to hold the line of peace until they were ready.

************************************

So this was all based off the picture of the starship itself, which gave me a spark I haven’t felt in a spell. She’s old, rugged and in the twilight of her years. But never call her outclasssed and never count her out.

I hope you all enjoy.

U.S.S Donovan – Crew Introductions: Advice From a Life Lived.

The poor Ensign had been prattling on in his office for at least an hour, wailing to the stars that be had lost his one true love … Whats-her-name?

When it finally reached the point that his empathy hound hit his limit, Cdr. Walter Muldror reached his gorilla arm across his chair and smacked the young man into a stunned silence.

“You done?” He asked, both men knowing full well the answer would either be ‘Yes’ or another smack. The Ensign chose to simply nod his compliance.

“Good,” Walter began, taking a drag from one of his hand-rolled stogies. “Look here, kid, I get it. No one likes losing a love, Earth’s history is full of trite tales and shitty songs on why that happens.”

The U.S.S Donovan’s Counselor took a second smoke from his collection and handed it to the junior officer. “But here’s the catch, the one twist they didn’t have then: a target-rich galaxy.”

When the Ensign gave the burly sage a puzzled look, Walter continued, “How many sentient humanoids are in the Federation right now?”

“Ummmm…I don’t know…six, eight hundred billion?”

“Exactly!” Walter hollered, making Slayer perk his head up. “And you got shot down once! Did she slap you?”

The Ensign shook his head.

“Did she curse you and your family to whatever Hell her species or culture believes in?”

Again, the young man shook his head.

“Are you going to wake up tomorrow morning with all your limbs and faculties intact?”

“Yeah..but, but I’ll still…” The junior man began.

Only to be cut off with a pipe-sized finger in a ‘shush’. “You’re going to brood and pine over her until you have something better to do. So we’re going to skip the whiny shit and get straight into something pure and laborious. Something for your hands and instincts to do so you don’t have to think about anything except how to survive.”

The Ensign looked to his cigar, then back to the Counselor, then back to the given smoke. “Well, … I like camping.”

The mention of outdoor activity got Slayer’s body shaking from tail wags and made Walter laugh. “Then grab your bedroll and a canteen, buttercup! We’re gonna take a hike on Qo’nos!”

———

Another new character for either a resurgent RP effort, like his kin, or just to have on the shelf as an exercise in character. Either way, a relaxing time to sink into someone new.

I hope you all enjoy.

U.S.S Donovan – Crew Introductions: The Preacher

Date: 9 May 2382
Location: Miramarr, California aka Fightertown, USA – Starfleet Combined Services Flight Academy

The hum of impulse engines waking to life was a common sound in the instructor’s lounge, along with the animated conversations between jockeys recounting past exploits or interests in current recruits. For five centuries, this was the mecca for anyone who wanted to fly, but didn’t want to steer. Carriers had evolved into starships, the legendary PB4Y-2 Privateers and F-14 Tomcats had grown into the Hawk-class and larger Peregrine-class multi-role fighters, and the separate branches of service among a hundred worlds had merged into one; Starfleet. It was a place of unity, education and peace. Thanks in no small part to the men and women who had walked these halls, of which there were far fewer now.

The small stack of PADDs detailing curriculum discussions and grading doldrums, while likely fascinating, had done little to distract him this morning. Because it was today seven solar years ago, that Pel Vertrais had gone from brother and Flight Leader to a beaten and insubordinate Marine in orbit around the speck of universe known as AR-558. If not for the grace of the Prophets and the defense of his former Captain at the inquiry, the Bajoran would be enjoying the sweet sweat of the New Zealand Penal Colony.

Now, his fingers flew across non-existent controls and eyes focused through a viewport long gone. On the backs of three Cardassian Hideki-class strikeships that had bore down on his kin.
“…they’re on me close, Howler One! Shrike Six, Shrike Eight, move to….”

“…gone! Six is gone, and I’m losing power..”

“I’m on your six, Shrike One, come left, two-two-seven by one-nine-zero!”

His Peregrine shook as two torpedos leapt from its beak and ripped one strikeship in two. Their kin had loosened their pursuit formation, but kept on the hunt, green phaser fire searing his brother’s impulse engines.

“My shields are gone!” the older Pel had yelled, “I can’t take another shot!”

Vertaris closed his eye for but a moment and begged the Prophet’s gace and aim, “Break planetward on three!”

The turn was supposed to reverse his brother’s previous vector, forcing the Cardassians to do the same and giving Howler One a top-down shot. He had no doubt he would shatter at least one of them, but prayed for both.

Even to this day, he wasn’t sure what went wrong, it was as if a Pah-Wraith had read his very mind. As soon as he yelled, “Three!”, his brother’s Peregrine started its turn, which was the instant the Hidekis both fired, catching the Starfleet ship’s center of mass. Only static on the comms and the shake of Vertrais’ fighter served as acknowledgement of the loss. What had followed next was a blind rage, as he had not only vaporized both Cardassians, but then made a full-impulse dive at the nearest Galor-class warship. His fighter rang with hit after hit of disruptor fire and smoke filled his cockpit, and then only darkness.

Coughing on the smoke of memories and feeling the hoarseness of his own throat from the screaming he didn’t know he was doing, the Bajoran sank back into his chair, with no energy left to read the doldrums in front of him.

Thankfully, it seems he would have to.

“Major Pel,” Captain DeTomaso walked up to the Bajoran, “I apologize for the interruption but I was wondering if you could help me out? My normal flight instructor is sick and I just need one more check-ride before I can fly solos.”

Pel nodded, glad to be free of the paperwork, while silently praying that he young Captain had only heard part of that episode. “Gear up and head for number 22. Flightline crew just finished prepping the Hawk for a checkout flight, so we’ll make sure they treated her right.”

After dismissing the junior officer, Pel allowed himself a private smile as he went to his office to grab his gear. The Captain could have asked any instructor for the favor, and would probably been encouraged to ask someone like Major Selmen, whose Vulcan precision made him the ire of many cadets. Sounds like he wants the job done right, but can he make a Hawk dance?

They headed to the row of parked fighters together and sure enough, at spot number 22, sat a freshly cleaned and tethered Hawk-class fighter. Unlike its larger brother, in the right hands, she would cut the space between air molecules.

“Alright Captain, run your pre-flight and warm up the engines.”

“Roger that Major,” Andrew began flipping switches and punching commands into the control consoles, “You’ve got a callsign sir?”

Pel almost instinctively replied with this old title “Howler”, but he hesitated. Because that’s not me anymore…he died over AR-558…

“Preacher”, he told DeTomaso, tapping his earring and chain, “comes with the territory.”

He then leaned over to the comm unit. “Tower, this is Instructor Pel. Setting flight plan November-Delta for tail number Alpha-27.”

The Hawk purred to life as the men swiped over pads and input commands. “Alright, we’ll start simple. Set course; one-eight-zero by zero-nine-one. Nice and easy, over the ocean.”

As he monitored his co-pilot’s rundown and compliance with the takeoff “What about you, Captain? You earn yours yet?”

“Nemo,” DeTomaso followed the orders, easing the Hawk to the correct heading, “I earned it while I was flying dropships,” He laughed as he increased the throttle, “Ground fire forced a water landing,” Looking over his shoulder slightly he smirked, “We still made the beach.”

Pel smirked at that, “An interesting title given to a man who saved lives. To then be called ‘no one’…or did I mis-interpret? I confess, I’ve never read the original.”

DeTomaso answered simply “Can one mis-read being called ‘Preacher’? A person of faith, even a Bajoran, doesn’t join the Marines without accepting the risk of fighting and death.”

The comm panel chirps to life, but the Major quickly silenced it. The response has sparked something he hadn’t thought about since AR-558. “We’ve passed the first mark, set course to one-nine-nine, and bring your altitude to 5 meters MSL. No worries about hitting a beach out here.”


This little bit comes from a stalled RP group O had the pleasure of being in, and one I hope restarts again. What do you do with a warrior who has no battles or glory to look forward to?

I hope you all enjoy.