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Redemption

Posted on 18 Sep 2016 @ 5:30am by Ensign Aurilia Moretti & Lieutenant Commander Terry Walsh

Mission: Click Three Times
Location: Squadron Commander's Office
Timeline: MD7 || 1530 hours

All of the fighters were either completely repaired or in the end stages of repair, save the the two that had slammed into a bulkhead. They were almost there. And then there were the six that had been destroyed in the battle. Terry sat there, shaking his head. They were down six fighters and pilots.

He picked up that latest report that had come up from the Flight Deck, the one regarding the Peregrine. That had been a difficult decision to make. The fighter had been refitted for training purposes and he had ordered it retrofitted as much as possible for actual combat. And in a short amount of time. Plus, it was old compared to the Valkyries. But it had to be done; he needed every bird he could get. The report stated that retrofit was almost complete. All the maintenance crew had to do was button up panels and run operational and functional checks. Terry put that PADD aside and thought about the pilot for a moment. Not only did he need every bird he could get, he needed every trained fighter pilot.

The squadron commander tapped his combadge, "Commander Walsh to Ensign Moretti, report to my office as soon as possible. Walsh out." He tapped it again, closing the channel. He moved from behind his desk to the chairs in front of it. Terry spun them around, facing each other, and took a seat.

Aurilia immediately showed up at the Commander's office as if she had been near his office when he had paged her. She wore the brown bomber jacket with the wing insignia on it and looked as if she had been up for days and there was a degree of pain in her eyes which she was just too tired to hide. "You wanted to see me, Commander?" she asked.

Terry had just barely gotten settled when she came in. She looked just as tired as everyone else did. "I did," he said. "Have a seat. You look like you could use a sit-down for a bit." He gestured toward the other chair. "I wanted to say thanks for your hard work on the Deck when the squadron had to come in hot. The Flight Deck Commander made a note in one of his reports about it. Good job, Ensign."

"Thank you, Sir," she said as she eased herself down into the offered chair and was clearly favoring her left side. She shook her head to try to shove the pain she was feeling away and gave the tall, bald Squadron Commander her attention and hoped that he didn't have more grunt work for her.

Terry watched as the lithe redhead lowered herself into the chair. "Are you okay? I can have someone from Sickbay up here in minutes." He had once again been reminded that all of the events had impacted everyone.

"It's just a bruise, Commander," Aurilia said a bit evasively. "A antigrav cart fell on me when whatever happened...happened. I'll be okay."

Terry sat back and nodded. "Alright then. Well, as I said, you did a great job down there clearing the Deck, coordinating personnel, and helping to direct the incoming Valkyries as best as possible. I've made a note of it, and the Flight Deck Commander's report, in your personnel file so that's its all official. I've also been keeping an eye on what's been going on down there recently and I keep seeing your name pop up with reference to the retrofit of the Peregrine fighter for combat. Care to explain?"

"I spent the better part of six months on Unity on fighter maintenance crews, Sir," she replied. "The Peregrine has always been a favorite of mine and I saw that almost all of the regular maintenance crew here were more concerned with the Valkyries, so I threw myself into getting the Peregrine prepped and ready. I hope I didn't overstep my boundaries."

He grinned and nodded. She knew the ins and outs of the Peregrine in general and the specifics of this particular bird...now. He knew he had chosen correctly. "No, you didn't overstep your boundaries," replied Terry. "I like to see initiative in my pilots. And it seems like you've got plenty."

"Thank you, Sir," Aurilia responded, wondering if that was why he had called her into the office.

"Ensign," he said, "We've lost a lot, people especially, but also fighters. The reason I ordered the Peregrine retrofitted in the first place," he didn't need to explain to her why he did what he did, but he hoped it would help, "is that we need every fighter available that we have on this ship. That one included." He leaned back, slid his hand into his pocket, and sat forward. "And I need every trained fighter pilot available that we have on this ship. Including you." He held out his hand and opened it. Resting on the palm was a ceremonial pair of silver colored wings. "Welcome back to the black."

Aurilia's eyes lit up when she saw the ceremonial wings and tentatively reached for them. When they were in her hand, she looked younger and more proud than she had been a few minutes before. "I won't let you down, Commander," she said. "Or the Black Knights."

"I know," said Terry. "You've proven that just in the last couple days. And it's a good thing you know the Peregrine like you do, that'll be your bird. Think you can hold your own with Alpha Flight?"

"I'll do my best, Sir," she said. "I've made myself as familiar with her as I can. I did note that she was originally configured for training purposes, but I think she'll do well with her refit."

"Yes, she was," replied. "But we need all we can get. And when we get back to Unity, hopefully we'll be able to get some replacement Valkyries for the six that we lost. Then Peregrine will return to her training configuration then. But as far as the six new Valkyries, I will only request five pilots, Alpha Three."

"May I make a suggestion, Commander?"

Terry sat back in his chair. He was always open to suggestions, no matter where they came from. But Ensign Moretti was still new enough to him, that he wasn't sure what would happen. Risk taking, though, seemed to be ingrained into most pilots. "Sure, go ahead, Ensign."

"Request ten more pilots, Sir," Aurilia said. "It would make sense to have some pilots who aren't stressed out from constant action with little downtime between conflicts. You'll be able to put more on rotation and have fresh sets of eyes and pilots who aren't combat fatigued."

"That's not a bad idea," said Terry. "I wish we had that during this last engagement. All that awake time isn't a good thing." He grabbed the PADD on his desk and make a note for the request to be sent to the XO. "If you ever have anymore of those ideas, feel free to run them by me. I can't guarantee every one, but you can still put them out there. "

"Thank you, Commander," she said. "It's a way of giving pilots relief and more training simulations can be ran with fresh ideas from other pilots. They may not grant you ten, but if you ask for five, you may not get that, either. Aim higher for what you'd be happy with and if you get more than what you actually wanted, it's a win."

Terry listened an nodded. He smiled as she talked about aiming high and getting more than he actually wanted. There was more truth to that and applicability to him personally than the young woman knew. "With insight and planning like that, you'll make a good leader in the future, Ensign Moretti." Terry made a mental note to see if there was some kind of recommendation he could put in her file that might aid in reducing the promotion restriction. Hell, anything would beat two years. "I'll take care of the necessary documentation to get you fully reinstated for flying. In the meantime, now that your'e back on flying status, you should consider getting a flight physical as soon as possible."

"I was just thinking what seemed logical." Aurilia had been rolling the ceremonial wings around in her left hand and dropped them by accident. When she bent to the side to get them, her uniform to rode up and revealed a nasty looking bruise which was going from reddish to purple on her right side. "I'll do that as soon as I get a chance, Commander," she said as she retrieved the wings, straightened up and pulled her uniform top firmly down again.

Terry noticed the bruise and frowned. He only caught a glimpse of a small portion of it, but could tell that it was fairly large. "I think when you get a chance may be need to be sooner than you think," he said, watching her as she raised back up. "That bruise looks nasty. And if it's bigger than that, you need to have it checked out. Right away."

"It's really nothing, Sir," she said, hoping that he wouldn't make it an order. "I'm more resilient than I look. You know how pilots are..."

"Yeah, I know how pilots are. And I know how I like my pilots to be...ready for anything without having to gingerly lower themselves into a chair. Or a cockpit," said Terry. "I'm not questioning your resiliency. I just want you ready at a moment's notice for anything. Go get that checked out as soon as we're done here. Medical personnel can do wonders for bruises and pain. That's an order, Ensign." He smiled, unsure of how she would take that after their last meeting.

Quite a bit of mental cursing before the redheaded Ensign got her temper under control and it had been an effort to keep her mouth from spewing them out. It had been bad enough the first time and if she gave vent to what was on her mind this time, she knew that he would probably permanently take her wings from her. "Yes, Sir," Aurilia said meekly. "Is there anything else?"

"Nope. Well," Terry paused. "You've been doing great. Keep it up. I can't wait to see what you've got when you're in the hotseat. Dismissed."

"Thank you, Commander," Aurilia said before she got to her feet and put the ceremonial wings in a pocket of her jacket. "For everything." With that, she turned and headed out for the dreaded Sickbay.

Terry watched her leave and went around the desk, back to his PADD's. The top one was the personnel file for Lieutenant JG T'Press, one of the six killed in action. "It's going to be a long trip back to Unity."

 

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