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A Sunbeam in the Dark

Posted on 29 May 2016 @ 2:20am by Lieutenant Jonathan Kilmartin & Ensign Kelly Khan

Mission: Outbreak
Location: Flight Deck
Timeline: MD 10

Cadet Senior Grade Kelly Khan sat in her quarters looking over the personnel files and came across a reference that she had heard about when she was at the Academy. A Lieutenant Jonathan Kilmartin had been assigned as the Deputy Squadron Commander of the Black Knights and a memory tugged at the corner of her mind. He had been a Cadet Freshman Grade at the time and the Dominion War had put a serious strain on everyone as recruit after recruit rehashed the accounts of what had happened according to their parents, siblings, instructors, etc.

Yet one name stood out among the others and that name had been Jonathan "Sunbeam" Kilmartin, a Terran who had been a cadet at the start of the Dominion War and had been one of the few to be at Deep Space 9 at the end of it. The man had been an instructor at the Academy several years prior to her entrance, but he was here now on the ship and she couldn't resist an opportunity to speak with a legend.

Despite the hour and having just woken up after getting off her shift six hours before, Kelly dressed in her Command red cadet uniform and made sure that it had no wrinkles or blemishes, checked her wavy brunette hair and headed down to the flight deck to see if the Lieutenant had time to spare for a cadet. There, she looked around and saw a few officers and personnel checking fighters, but there was no sign of the man she was looking for.

She knew that she was likely to be questioned sooner or later why she was there, despite being a Flight Control Officer as she was on Gamma Shift and was technically off duty. With the virus cured, there were still many people sleeping off the effects of it or stumbling around like holohorror zombies and she quickly made up her mind and headed to the office of the Squadron Commanders and peeked in.

The office was in relative darkness, a single lamp lighting the room as a lone figure stood motionless, a data PADD in his hand. Since coming aboard the Black Hawk, the former Marine had lived through a killer disease and now, unlike many others across the ship, he was using the downtime to read through the biographies of those he was now second in command to. Immersed in the biographical information for Petty Officer Mori, Kilmartin failed to spot the face of the youngster at the door.

Kelly hesitated, then stepped into the office and hoped that whoever was dimly lit by the lamp wouldn't take offense to her intrusion into their domain. "Excuse me," she said as she tried to think of alternate reasons she would be there. "I was wondering if you could tell me where I could find Lieutenant Kilmartin."

"It depends, are you a doctor?" the man in the dim light of the room asked without removing his attention from the data PADD he was reading. Rude, possibly. Intentionally so? No. The man had seen enough of doctors in sickbay over the last few days and had no desire to see another now that he had been released from the ships medical berth.

"No," Kelly said, unsure if the person she was speaking to was an officer or enlisted as they didn't identify themselves, so she decided to identify herself instead. "I'm Cadet Senior Grade Kelly Khan, Flight Control Officer."

Finishing the read on the PADD, the man slowly and finally turned to face the guest at the door way, eyeing up the brunette who had introduced herself, "well since you are not a doctor Cadet, I can tell you that you have found the man you were looking for." Kilmartin placed the PADD on the nearby desk and stepped into the light to reveal his blond hair and two gold pips on his uniform undershirt. Since he wasn't on duty he had chosen not to wear his duty jacket and looked a little relaxed. "Lieutenant Jonathan Kilmartin," he smiled as he offered a hand to the Cadet.

Kelly took the offered hand and gave a firm shake; she was in the presence of an Academy legend and he was acting like he were just another officer. "I'm sorry to bother you, Lieutenant Kilmartin...but I saw your name on the manifest and I was wondering..." she paused very slightly. "if you are the same officer with the callsign of Sunbeam that taught at Starfleet Academy some years back?"

"Aye, that's me," Kilmartin nodded as he gestured for the Cadet to take a seat on one of the several in the room. He stepped back a little and perched on the edge of the desk, folding his arms over his chest as he put up a personal defensive barrier until he knew what the purpose of the visit was. "So, what can I do for you Cadet?" he queried.

Kelly noticed the defensive posture immediately as she went to the offered seat and sat down. She looked up at him and tried to keep the awe off of her face; while the man may have been a legend according to the stories, she was certain that he didn't want to relive the horrors of the Dominion War. "I was actually wondering if you had some time to speak, Sir," she said. "I was in Nova Squad at the Academy and your name and maneuvers came up so often in the Flight classes that I was wondering how you came up with some of them."

Kilmartin nodded his head slowly as he considered a response to the Cadet's question. It had been some time since he had been noticed for his actions at the Academy and before, the war inevitably making him more well known than the missions during the years of peace since then. "It was done with a lot of consideration, a lot of practice and a lot of people to help me," he smiled whilst trying to maintain a modicum of modesty. He was not one for showing off anymore, perhaps long ago in his youth, but not these days.

She considered his response and looked at it from several different angles and decided that it was going to be a little more difficult than she had thought. His phrasing didn't answer her question and she decided to elaborate. "Well, for example, your Below Deck maneuver. You used it against a much larger enemy by inverting your fighter under an enemy ship while strafing it upside down. Surely that's not something you can have time to practice or anyone to help you with. I've read and practiced a lot of maneuvers, Sir, but coming up with something that isn't textbook while in battle is something else entirely different."

Kilmartin, or Sunbeam to his friends and co-pilots, took a deep breath and decided that this conversation would be best served taking place elsewhere. He pushed himself up and off the table and headed for the doorway. He waved his hand and signaled for the Cadet to fall in line behind him. "Have you ever been in combat Cadet?" he questioned as they exited to the flight deck.

Kelly got up and followed him, wondering if the legend she had heard was only that. So far, the Lieutenant seemed as if he weren't the man she had been seeking. Somehow, the reality of the situation seemed a thousand times more understated than the myth and she was wondering how disappointed she was going to be. "No, Sir," she said. "Not actual combat. I've been in simulations, which I know are nothing like the real thing."

"Combat is unlike anything you will ever experience in your life," Sunbeam revealed quietly as they began to stroll the flight deck. "It's a fascinating thing that can teach you so much and in the safety of a Starship like the Black Hawk, more often than not, you will not face any real peril, any real threat to your life. But in a Starfighter," suddenly the senior officer stopped and smiled as he caught glimpse of the very thing he had come looking for. Before them stood the Lieutenant's personal Valkyrie, the Fighter that he had flown on numerous missions since his days at the Academy. War torn, battered and bruised, the Valkyrie herself had stories to tell, let alone the man behind her controls. He turned and looked at the Cadet and for the first time, he relaxed his guard and let out a grin almost child like in creation. "In a Starfighter, the threat is real every single time and makes you do things you never knew possible."

She looked over the Valkyrie and wondered at the missions he had flown in it and the choices he had been required to make, often at a split second's notice. She was certain that he had a point and was well aware of her ever present desire to know things now rather than sit through lectures and lessons. "I understand that, Lieutenant," she said and made certain to keep her voice under control. "But for every thousand officers who do something that shouldn't be possible, only one gets remembered for something in particular. What sets the standard for those actions which get named after the officer?"

Kilmartin walked over to his Valkyrie, placing his left hand on it as he slowly began to walk around it. "You do something no one else ever thought possible. You push yourself to the absolute limit and beyond. For me, I flew by the seat of my pants. I pushed myself to consider the impossible. When people told me things couldn't be done, I kicked down the barrier and did it anyway. The Below Deck maneuver as you called it was one such example." Kilmartin came to a halt again as looked towards the Cadet again. "In the briefing that morning we were told our target had a weakness. It's ventral hull and shielding were weak and vulnerable - but only if you could make it past dozens of beam weapons and torpedo launchers. I saw that as a challenge. All I had to do was get my bird through the hell fire and brimstone they rained down on us and I'd have the chance of a lifetime."

The Lieutenant perched on the ladder that enabled him to climb to the cockpit and continued his story. "I saw friends die trying the move that would bring us victory. It was suicide, our Commander's even called for the retreat but there was no way I was going to give this up. I pushed the throttle to the floor and surged forth," he began re-enacting the move with his hands as he spoke with animation, "a single torpedo came flying at me. Whilst many would freeze and die, I flung my bird upside down and somehow the torpedo bounced off my shields. I found myself upside down with no time to right myself. I pushed every ounce of my engines and unleashed every weapon in my arsenal."

Finally! Kelly thought as she listened to his story and saw animation come to life in his eyes, voice and body. This was the legend she had heard about. She kept quiet and stood still until he finished speaking and then allowed another moment of reverence and awe to pass before she spoke. "You were one of the rare few who made it that extra mile," she said quietly as she realized that some maneuvers were done simply because there were no other choice in the matter. "That is amazing, Lieutenant. Officers like you and others are the reason that I want to fly and push the envelope every chance I get."

"Fly Cadet?" Kilmartin scoffed, "you don't fly a starship, you handle its controls and let the computer do the work. If you want to fly, you need to be in there," he smiled as he pointed up to the cockpit of his craft. "This is a craft that you fly. If you want to learn how to fly, how to push the envelope and how to experience the thrill of flying by the seat of your pants then get in that cockpit."

"I'm not a fighter pilot, Sir," Kelly said. "Although I've been known to make a shuttle and runabout do things that they aren't supposed to do. Does that count?"

Kilmartin pushed himself off of the rungs of the ladder, "I guess so. But if you ever want to truly fly, let me know. I'll take you out in one of these beauties."

"Uh, a Valkyrie is a single-person fighter, Sir," Kelly pointed out.

"Yeah. I'd go as your wing man," the Lieutenant confirmed.

Her hazel eyes went wide and it took her a moment to speak. "You would? I mean, thank you!" she exclaimed. "I'd love the opportunity to just learn from you in a holodeck, Sir!"

"Who mentioned a holodeck? If we do this Cadet, we do this with the real thing. Get yourself some flight time logged on the holodeck in a Valk and then I'll take you out in the real thing," Kilmartin smiled as he slapped her gently on the back before strolling away. Someway down the deck he stopped and turned back. "I can't promise anything like the stuff of legends... but you never know..." he grinned before turning and disappearing back into the office he had occupied before their brief visit to the flight deck.

"Yes, Sir," Kelly said as he walked away, even though it was a little unexpected. "Legends," she murmured as he left. "Some of them are like a sunbeam in the dark." With that, she turned and left to schedule some holodeck time.

 

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