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Screwing the Pooch

Posted on 15 Jun 2017 @ 4:04pm by Lieutenant Callam Jaxer

Mission: The Finnean Crisis
Location: Runabout Cuyahoga/Black Hawk Shuttle Bay
Timeline: Current

Lieutenant Callam Jaxer sat in the passenger section of the runabout Cuyahoga. He was trying his best to be relaxed. He really hated carrier landing when he wasn’t doing the flying. The kid at the controls didn’t seem totally incompetent, so everything was probably going to be fine. Probably…

Lieutenant Callam Jaxer wasn’t really used to being Lieutenant Callam Jaxer. A day or two before he hopped this very runabout for transport to his new assignment, he had been Chief Warrant Officer Callam Jaxer. He had been happy to be Chief Warrant Officer Callam Jaxer. He wasn’t sure he’d get even that far, what with telling Starfleet to go piss up a rope back in 2370 and running off to join the Maquis. They’d taken him back, though. Starfleet Aerospace Command was short pilots what with the Dominion War on. They’d offered Callam a full pardon in exchange for signing back on to fight the Dominion. As long as his service in the war was honorable, when the war was over he would be free to go or stay as he pleased. The other option was spending the foreseeable future in a penal colony making big rocks into little rocks. The decision was easy to make. Callam had a powerful hate for Cardassians and the Dominion’s Jem’Hadar soldiers had just driven the Maquis out of the Badlands and the DMZ, killing countless men, women, and children in the process. If Starfleet wanted to put him back in the cockpit of a fighter and let him kill Cardassians and Jem’Hadar that was fine with him.

After the war, Callam figured he’d be lucky to make Master Warrant Officer before he retired. Surprising him, Starfleet eventually promoted him to Chief Warrant Officer and even gave him a combat flight to command made up solely of Flight Warrant Officers. Just when Callam figured he’d better settle into his rank because it was going to be with him for a very long time, he was told he was being promoted to Lieutenant through the Warrant Officer to Lieutenant Program. He thought this was kind of strange. See, Callam had never applied to the Warrant Officer to Lieutenant Program. That meant someone in a position of authority had done it for him. Having been in Starfleet going on twenty-six years, Callam knew enough to keep his mouth shut. His promotion came with orders to report to the USS Black Hawk for duty as the Bravo Flight Leader. He packed his gear, settled his affairs, and took his casual lover out for a night on the town, then back to her quarters for a farewell shag…okay…several farewell shags. The next morning he was on the Cuyahoga headed for a rendezvous with the Black Hawk.

Callam felt something…something he didn’t like…a rumble. Then he heard a whine. It started out low but rose in volume. The impulse engines were experiencing an overload.

“Uhm…uh…strap yourselves in…uh…please,” came the voice of the pilot over the intercom. “We’re experiencing a bit of engine trouble. We’re…uhm…approaching the Black Hawk a bit fast…uhm…”

If there was anything Callam had learned being a pilot, it was that the amount of trouble a small craft was in could be measured by the number of ‘uhms’ uttered by the pilot as they attempted to inform the passengers what was happening. Callam rose from his seat and entered the cockpit.

“What’s going on, Mister?” Callam asked. “I’m a pilot, son, and something tells me I have more experience putting malfunctioning birds safely on the deck than you do. How about I take it from here?”

“Yes...yes, sir!” the young pilot said. “Thank you sir! We were on approach and I was about to use the impulse engines to slow us down when they went berserk, then dead. Now all we’ve got to slow us down are the thrusters and…and…”

“Okay,” Callam said. “Okay. I’ve got it from here.”

He got on the comms.

“Cuyahoga, Black Hawk Control,” Callam said, calmly. “We are on approach. We’ve lost our impulse engines and we’re coming in hot. We’re on thrusters only. Please prepare for an emergency landing. That or prepare for us to go splat on your flight deck…”

“Black Hawk Control, Cuyahoga,” came the reply. “We copy you are in distress. Emergency crews are standing by. Please try to cut as much momentum as you can.”

“Cuyahoga, Black Hawk Control,” Callam responded. “Copy that, will do.”

What in the name of the Prime Number did you think I was going to do? Callam thought. Just sit here on my hands and let this tub crash into you guys?

Callam focused on slowing the ship down. At the same time, he was trying to make sure that the runabout was going to go in through the hangar bay doors and not through the hull of the ship. If he wasn’t able to convince Black Hawk Control he could land this thing, the ship’s tactical officer would likely raise shields and then see if he could target the Cuyahoga with one of the ship’s phaser arrays. That would translate into a really bad first (and last) day on the job for Callam. The young pilot looked like he was going to be sick as they rapidly approached the Black Hawk’s main shuttle bay.

Still too fast, Callam thought. Got to slow her down some more.

Finally the runabout began to slow to a more manageable speed. It was still moving faster than safety regulations allowed, but Callam was pretty sure he could put it on the deck in one piece. The shuttle bay entrance loomed before them.

“Cuyahoga, Black Hawk!” Callam barked. “It’s party time!”

The runabout zipped through the shuttle bay entrance. Callam poured on the thrusters in a last ditch effort to reduce speed. He was able to bring her down to the deck, but she careened towards the opposite side of the bay. There was a sensation like someone had lassoed the runabout and yanked at it and the craft finally slowed to a halt.

Callam hit the intercom.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” he said. “You may now get up and walk around the cabin. Thank you for flying ‘The maintenance crew missed something’ spaceways and have a nice day!”

The sound of laughter and applause came from the cabin area. Callam turned to the pilot.

“Son,” he said. “What just happened was very likely a once in a lifetime experience, but if it happens again, just remain calm and do what you saw me do. No sense in getting all hot and bothered about crashing. You’re either going to survive or you’re not. Losing your cool isn’t going to help and it damn sure might hurt. Copy?”

The pilot gulped. “Uhm…yes, sir…and thanks!”

“My pleasure,” Callam said. He went back to the cabin, picked up his bag, and disembarked. He saw the shuttle bay manager headed his way, building up a head of steam as the man marched full tilt at Callam.
“Are you the hairbrained pilot who wrecked my flight deck?” the shuttle bay manager demanded when he reached Callam.

Callam looked and saw that the shuttle bay manager was a Staff Warrant Officer. He smiled.

“I didn’t hear a ‘sir’ in there, did I, Staff?” Callam said. “You’re upset, so I’ll forgive that this time. The answer to your question is ‘no, I’m not the official pilot of that thing’ I’m just the guy that kept this from turning into a total disaster. I’ll write up a report and send it to you as soon as I get a moment, but right now I need to report in to the captain. Why don’t you go make sure all of the passengers are alright and while you’re at it you might want to make sure the fuel cells aren’t going to explode. Now say ‘Aye, aye, sir’ Staff.”

The shuttle bay manager ground his teeth, but he managed to croak out the proper response.

“Good,” Callam said. “I’ll be in touch.”

Pissing contest averted...or at least won, Callam headed off first to get himself settled in and after that to check in with the ship's captain.


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