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Simulation Training

Posted on 20 Sep 2017 @ 1:47am by Lieutenant Commander Terry Walsh & Ensign Kelly Khan

Mission: The Finnean Crisis
Location: Flight Deck
Timeline: MD 6 || 1600 Hours

Ensign Kelly Khan was off duty, but still wore her uniform as she walked down the corridors of the Black Hawk-A. It felt weird to be referring to it as the 'A' when she had been on the original and she twitched when she remembered watching it go down over New Bajor while she evacuated as many people as she could in a runabout. The way one of the nacelles had been blown off, the way it looked when it started to go into the atmosphere of the planet. She pushed those thoughts away and decided she needed something to take her mind off of it.

An idea formed in her mind and she tapped her combadge. =^=Ensign Khan to Commander Walsh. Do you have a moment, Commander?=^=

Just because he was off duty, didn't mean that Terry didn't have other things to do. Most of which, he was wrapping up. He just had the next days flight schedule to look over finalize when he combadge chirped. "Well, Ensign Khan," he said. Then he tapped in reply, =^=Walsh here, I sure do Ensign. You can meet me in my office.=^=

=^=On my way,=^= Kelly said as she headed for the nearest turbolift. "Deck Eleven, Squadron Command," she instructed it and was quickly whisked away to her destination. Before the doors opened, she adjusted her uniform and made sure her wavy brunette hair was tied back neatly, then stepped out. She knew her fun-sized friend Dani had told the Commander that she thought he was hot and she really hoped he didn't bring it up as she made her way to his office and tapped the chime.

Terry was almost finished when the chime went off. "It's open," he called out. He'd never been too fond of the 'Enter' or 'Come' or any of the other standard entrance commands. He put the PADD down and leaned back in his office chair.

Kelly took a deep breath and entered the office with a bright smile. "Hey, Commander Rocco," she said, hoping he'd forgive the minor informality. "How's life in the 325th treating you these days? I hear you got some fancy new fighters."

He grinned as she walked in with a smile and what seemed like an I'm-glad-off-duty attitude. He couldn't help but smile and chuckle. "Commander Rocco...that works as far as I'm concerned, at least in here. You've flown with us in combat. You've earned it in my book, Ensign Conga." He got up to go around the end but almost hit the shelf. Terry sighed and went back the other way next to the wall. "Well, okay now, have a seat," he said, gesturing to the couch. "It's treating me well. And yes, we did get some fancy new fighters. And they came with a fancy new ship with a lot of fancy other stuff, too. Can I get you something to drink?"

She moved over and flopped onto the couch as if her bones had liquified and draped an arm over the back of it. "Icoberry juice would be a blessing, Commander Rocco, and the shelf almost got yours. You need a bigger office," she said with a smile. "I saw them flying around when we got to the station, but have yet to see one up close and personal. How do they fly?"

He walked over to the replicator, ordered her icoberry juice, and took it over to her. "A bigger office would be nice, but I think if I could just get this shelf removed, it would be alright." He pulled one of the chairs over and sat down across from her, stretching his legs out and relaxing. "They fly wonderfully. It's almost like a...," he paused and caught himself, smiling. "Never mind. Let's just say they handle beautifully."

"Thank you." Kelly accepted the deep blue juice and took a sip, effectively staining her lips and tongue blue for a while, which was a notorious side effect of the Bajoran juice. "Like a what?" she asked him, her curiosity spiking at the smile when he trailed off. "If you tell, I'll ask my boyfriend in Operations if he can authorize a few customizations for your office."

"As tempting as that offer is, I'll pass," he said. "For now, though. Maybe when you're older than single pipper," he added with a grin. "So what brings you down here, little blue icoberry?"

"Older than a single pipper?" Kelly sputtered before she looked at him and gave a sage nod. "Ah, so I get special benefits when I'm a three pip ancient?" she asked with a grin. "Actually, I'm hoping for a chance to get more simulation training in and since we don't have the Valkyries anymore, do you think I can get a time for the Gryphon, o ancient and venerable one?"

Terry started laughing. "Ancient one, huh. I don't need that one going around. So tell ya what, I'll whisper what I was going to say in your ear on one condition." He scooted forward, "You show me up on the Gryphon simulators." He liked offering challenges, especially ones that he thought he could win. The Gryphon was new to Conga. "But if I win, what do I get?"

"Nothing because you won't win," Kelly said. "I'll just ask Dani later. I know she tells you stuff I say, so it couldn't hurt for her to tell me one thing that you say."

Terry smiled at the young brunette across from him. "She's told me a thing or two. But only one stands out." He couldn't help himself... The brawny Squadron Commander winked at Conga. It was something that he would've done when he was first assigned to the Black Hawk. Something he hadn't done in a long time. But something that he was feeling come back, thanks to Dani. And that was his sense of humor. She was bringing the old Terry back to life. And the old, humorous Terry is the one that winked at Kelly.

She laughed. "So how about the training, Rocco?" she asked. "Or do you want to concede defeat and tell me what I want to know?"

"Hah! Concede defeat? When was yours last psych eval, Conga?" said Terry. "But for the training, yeah, I can get you a spot. Right now, as a matter of fact. There's a break in the rotation between the Flights. Sound good to you?"

"A check up from the neck up? Hah! My headbones are too smart of those things," Kelly responded. "If it's open, let's go!"

Terry laughed, "Headbones, huh. Alright." He stood up and looked down at Kelly. "It's always open for me. Pays to be the Squadron Commander sometimes."

"Shall we?" she asked as she motioned towards the door.

"Of course," he said. Terry turned and walked towards the door. He had a habit of checking where he walked, no matter where he was. It was an old hold-over from his first assignment where he had to walk cautiously around his fighter. That first crew chief always left a tool around on the deck. But this time he spied one of the squadron patches laying on the floor. No one wore them on their flight suits as there was no place for one, but many of the pilots kept them around. "Well that's just not right," he said as leaned over to pick it up off the floor.

Kelly had started to make a comment on the way he was looking down and walking, then stopped when he paused to bend over to pick something up. She took a step back before she ran into him and couldn't help but admire the view for a moment. "Better watch those sudden stops, Rocco," she quipped without thinking. "That's how torpedoes end up exhaust pipes."

Terry shoved the patch into his pocket. "Eh, what's that?" he said, standing back up. Then it dawned on him and he laughed. Loudly. "Conga, you're something else. And you make a valid point." He stepped out the door and into the corridor. "I'll watch those sudden stops. So Conga, been able to explore the new ship much?"

"Yup," she said after a fit of giggles. "Me, my boyfriend Quinn, Commander Teixeira and some others got recalled from shore leave earlier," she told him. "We were part of the skeleton crew to break her in when we brought her from Utopia Planetia to Deep Space Nine where the rest of the crew came aboard. I got her to fly her hard and fast as protocols would allow, too. I still haven't seen everything, but that made my year."

They began walking to the nearest turbolift. "That's pretty amazing. New ship and you got to break her in, congrats. I haven't seen much it, either. It's been work, home, and then all over again."

"Thanks," Kelly said. "You're a department head, right? Or does the squadron have a different title? You should take Dani on a walking tour and get to know it a bit better. You could spend more time with her and get to know the ship better." She walked a bit faster to keep up with his longer legs, but it didn't phase her a bit.

"I am," he said. "The official title is Squadron Commander, but I'm a Department Head. And Dani and I have walked the, well, the old Black Hawk. Yeah, we should hit the decks and take in what we can. He looked down at her. "I'd welcome any chance to get to know her better. We spend most of our time together off duty as it is."

The diminutive brunette smiled up at him. "So have you and her said the magic words to each other yet?" she asked as she wondered if he would tell her or not.

"You mean 'please' and 'thank you?' Yeah, we say those to each other all the time." He smiled and winked at her.

"No," Kelly said. "I mean have you and she told each other that you want to trip the light fantastic while dancing madly backwards on a sea of air?"

"We were dancing at the time, yes," he said. "But not madly backwards on a sea of air. In a quiet little room in Bordeaux, France while on shore leave." He smiled at the memory that it evoked and then shook himself back to reality.

"You look like you had a great time," she said. "And if I'm any judge of expression, you look like you might like her more than a little."

"You're a smart young woman," said Terry, as they came up to a turbolift. The doors parted and he stepped inside. "Like I said, we spend most of our off-duty time together. I don't wanna miss a thing. So if that means more than just a little, yeah, I guess I do."

Kelly stepped in with the tall, handsome bald pilot and smiled. "It's a wonderful feeling, isn't it?" she asked. "It's the same way with me and Quinn. He's my boyfriend and I'm pretty sure he's madly in love with me. I feel the same way about him, too."

Terry gave the order and the lift started up. It would be a short ride as most everything for the Squadron was all nearby. "Pretty sure? He hasn't said so, yet?"

"He has," she confirmed. "There's different levels of it, ya know? You can be in love with someone and smile when you think about them, and then you can be in love with someone and want to steal a star for them."

"You make a good point, Conga," said Terry. The lift came to a stop and he walked out. "There are most certainly different levels of it. Are you and your boyfriend at the steal a star level?"

"I think if something ever happened to him, I'd find a way to go back in time to prevent it," Kelly answered. She stepped out of the turbolift. "I know it seems a bit extreme, but good people can be really hard to find and he treats me like an equal."

"You're right, good people are really hard to find," Terry replied. "And when you find them, you hold on them. And you'd do anything to keep them safe."

"It's like that old love song...what's it called?" she asked as she thought for a moment. "Never Gonna Give You Up!" she exclaimed. "That was such a great song. They had some amazing artists back then for the level of technology they had at the time."

"I can only imagine." They got to where the simulators and went in. "So, pick one and get settled in. We'll see what you've got, little one."

"You want to see what I've got?" Kelly asked with a look of mock shock on her face. "What would Dani say?" she giggled before she climbed into one of the simulators. "Don't answer that. She'd kill us both and I was kidding."

Terry's eyes widened. "Bold." He climbed into the nearest simulator. "Computer, load Gryphon class fighter introductory flight course." The computer beeped and the surrounding cockpit flicked to life to look like the inside of the flight deck.

"We're a different breed than when you went through the Academy, Rocco," she said as she looked around the simulation and began to familiarize herself with the controls. "They wanted bigger, better and bolder and I'm one of the results of that."

"Bold, yes," said Terry. "But bigger, I think you still have a growth spurt or two. Better, we're about to find out." He chuckled and brought his simulated fighter online.

"Don't knock the height, Rocco," Kelly said as she brought hers online. "Good things come in small packages."

Terry laughed, "Yes, yes they do!" He lifted his fighter off the deck and spun it to face Kelly's. "How are you doing? Got the controls figured out?"

She brought hers up a moment later and maneuvered it to face Rocco's. "It's a bit different from what I'm used to," she said. "But if it flies, I can fly it."

"Sounds good to me," he said. "On my six, Conga." Terry turned back around and flew out of the bay. "Remember, this is the introductory flight course. It's designed for pilots straight out of the Academy to get used to the Gryphon, being relatively new to most starships."

"Acknowledged," Kelly said as she lind up behind Rocco and eased the Gryphon out of the bay. "Slow and steady as a greenie, huh?"

"Until you get the hang of it. You thought the Valkyries were sensitive to control inputs...just wait," said Terry. "And when we've run a few battle encounters, I have something on a much larger scale planned for you that I think will fit your bold personality."

"Is that so?" she asked as she watched the readouts in front of her, but resisted the urge to try a few fancy manuevers to see how responsive the Gryphon really was. The voice of an old Flight Instructor came into her mind If you think you know everything about something you've never been in, you may as well stop and get out now. Listen to experience.

"Yes, that's so," he said. "Now that we're far enough way from the ship, I want you to execute defensive maneuvers Beta Nine-Three followed by a Delta Five." He knew that she would see for herself just how much of a difference these new fighters handled than the Valkyrie.

"Roger, Rocco," Kelly said as she pulled the Gryphon into a short, rapid dive followed by a quick series of jinks and turns before she jinked hard to port and then climbed in a shallow, climb in a shallow, curving arc. She was so surprised at the responsiveness of the Gryphon that she knew that even though she had pulled the moves off as described in the books, they were sloppy and a pilot with experience would have predicted them.

"Not bad. Textbook, but needs a few adjustments," said Terry. "This is why we're starting slow and steady. I'll do the same things and you watch. Check out the sensor readings, think about it, and see if you can figure out on your own what to change and how much." Terry then executed the same maneuvers that he'd instructed Kelly to perform and came back to his starting point. "I'm sure it wasn't as interesting as watching me pick up that squadron patch in the office, but you get the idea." If she could have seen him, Terry had a pretty wide grin on his face.

There was no way he could have seen me watch him pick that patch up or what I was looking at, she thought after she went over the readings and watched his handling of the Gryphon. The young brunette was good, though and she learned very quickly. "I was sloppy," she said. "The controls are far more responsive and require a softer hand. I wouldn't have thought watching a janitorial action was interesting, Rocco. I'll have to ask Dani about that. Want me to try again?"

Terry laughed. "Yeah, go ahead and try it again. I bet you get it right this time. And keep in mind, no matter how hot you think your flight instructor is, you have to keep your mind in the game. Distractions aren't a fighter pilot's friend. But you already know that from flying with us once before."

"Isn't Sierra Hotel the name of the game, Rocco?" Kelly asked as she applied a lighter touch as she went into the defensive manuevers again. This time, while she pulled them off with less sloppiness to her form, she was also slower about it. "Call it a lesson learned. I once had a Flight Instructor tell us that pilots were sexy. My question was how sexy related to the fighter itself."

"Oh you're good, Conga, you're good," he said. "I don't want to overload you on the first day on this one, but I don't want to hold you back either. I know you're good in the cockpit, it'll just take time. Do you feel up to running some some maneuvers on a stationary target and using the weapons?"

"I'd really like to get the hang of the Gryphon first," she answered honestly. "As for me being good, well there's good and then there's good. Big difference between the two. The first one will get you good marks in a class. The second will get you a round of drinks after you win the battle."

"And that," he said, "was a classroom 'good' that you just executed. Do it again and let's see if you can get it better. After that, we'll try another combination."

"Good is never good enough," Kelly said before she took the Gryphon through the manuevers again, but this time she let her reflexes, instinct and training take over. While it still wasn't perfect, it was as close to perfect as she could get without spending some real time in one of the simulators or an actual Gryphon to get the feel for it.

"Okay, next, I want to see Omega-Two," said Terry. "Only this time, I'll be on your tail." He moved into position and said, "Just let me know when you're ready and we can get up to a good chase speed first."

"That's an easy one," the Ensign said as she leveled out and accelerated the fighter. "Let me know when it's go-time."

Terry smirked and accelerated. He go closer and then... "Rocco to Conga! Bogey on your six! Evasive maneuvers!" What he didn't tell her was that he had targeted her with his phasers. He had no intention of firing, but he wanted to see how she might respond to her target lock going off on her sensors.

The sound of the target lock gave her inspiration and Kelly immediately climbed to starboard while executing a long S-turn as she did so. She considered disengaging the safety protocol as she pushed the Gryphon near the structural integrity limit, but she decided against it and executed an Omega Four, peeling off to port and turned hard to bring her underneath Rocco's fighter. "Tag, Rocco," she said as she put a simulated torpedo lock on his Gryphon.

"Damn nice move, Conga!" exclaimed Terry. He initiated a Delta Three and pulled hard to port before dropping back. "What say we add a larger target to do practice runs and maneuvers on? Like a Cardassian station perhaps?"

His praise made her beam and she wondered if the structural integrity field could contain her ego as she responded. "Thanks, Rocco," she said, her pride evident in her voice as she lined up on his wing. "That sounds like a good idea to me."

"Alright then. Computer, put Empok Nor in the distance. Say...forty thousand kilometers." Terry watched as the station faded into existence. "Okay, this time, tell me which maneuvers you're shooting for and then have it at. You've got pylons, a ring, and a station center to go after."

"Beta-2 to a pylon," Kelly said after a moment of thought. "It's a bit risky, but no risk, no gain," she said. "On your mark."

Though she couldn't see it, Terry nodded. "Very good then. And sometimes a risky move is what could save your life or that of your fellow pilot. With that said, go."

She broke off formation and approached within ninety thousand kilometers, then jinked the Gryphon to starboard of the Empok Nor before she dove beneath it to emerge on its port ventral side, firing as she went. "Fly free, fly fast, weapons free and moving on!"

Terry watched as far as he could with his eyes before he had to resort to sensors. He watched as she made the move and fired on the pylon. The simulated hits registered on the system. "Kappa-Zero-One-Zero!" called out Terry. "Habitat ring! Engage! Engage!"

Kelly arced the Grypon down and and around Empok Nor to port, firing on the habitat ring as she went and made a quick warp jump out of range before she circled around. She closed in again and execute a Delta-5 in a long, relatively shallow dive to one side of the target bring her weapons to bear on the station cneter and used the target to take cover from station's weapons.

Terry was about to call out another area for attack when something odd on his sensors caught his eye. The recreation of Empok Nor powered up and showed some lifesigns. Then a loud, authoritative voice came over the comm system. "Federation fighters, I don't know how you got here, but you will not leave! Klerrg to all Nausicaan ships, eliminate the intruders before the captured Klingon prison barge gets here!"

"Computer, freeze simulation!" Terry called out. Nothing. "Computer, end simulation!" Still nothing. "Aw hell, what's going on?!" He tapped away at his controls, trying everything he knew. Something was wrong. He watched his sensors as a dozen Nausicaan ships left their stations and headed for them. Then the station's weapons came online.

"Conga! Get out of there!"

"Now this is what I'm talking about!" Kelly exclaimed before she heard what Commander Walsh was saying. "Repeat last, Rocco. Please confirm." She brought all of her weapons and shields online and veered away from Empok Nor on an intercept course with Rocco.

"This. Isn't. Normal, Conga," said Terry. "I didn't program this. And for some reason, I can't stop it either." He brought his weapons online and activated the shields. "Until something happens, we engage. But, Kelly," he said, using her name, "be careful. I don't know what's happening, so I have no idea if the safeties are still active. And we didn't put on flight suits."

A very unladylike oath came over the com before she cleared her throat. "Can't we just program them on us?" she said, her voice nearly a squeak. "This is a simulation, right, Commander?" she asked to clarify as she looked at her sensors and saw the Nausicaan ships closing on them. "Head for the Denorios Belt!" she called as an idea came to mind.

"It's worth a try," he said. "It's not responded to my commands so far, but who knows." Terry aimed his fighter for the Belt and came up alongside Conga. "Computer, put us in a standard flight suit." The Commander listened to a few obnoxious sounding beeps before repeating his command. First, the helmet faded on, then off. Next came the flight suit, which stayed, followed by the helmet once again. "Well, we have them for now. But if that little show is how the computer is going to respond, I'd still be careful. So what's your plan, Conga?"

Kelly looked at the suit and adjusted herself in the cockpit. "We'll be able to lose them there," she said. "And if that fails, we can take the Bajoran Wormhole and head for the Gamma Quadrant, then call for assistance from Deep Space Eleven, Rocco."

Terry cocked his head to the side and did a few quick calculations. "Um, Conga, at maximum warp, it'll take us three and a half days to get there. I'm gonna have to use the bathroom before then. What else you got, Ensign?" The Nausicaan ships continued to gain.

She checked the Advanced Tactical Sensor Suite the Gryphon came with and an idea formed when she saw what it was picking up. "There's an asteroid field not far from here," she said as she remembered a dream she had when she was in the Academy. "If we can get in there, we can deploy armed micro torpedoes and then use our tractor beams to sling around some of the smaller asteroids and set off a chain reaction once the Nausicaans are in it."

Terry nodded as Kelly gave her explanation. "You know, that's something I bet they won't be expecting...slingshot asteroids and a big boom. Set course for the asteroid field and arm the micros. We need to get them in place before they get any closer."

"I'm on it," Kelly said as she veered off and set course for the asteroid field. "I got the idea from a nightmare that I had when I was a freshman cadet. I was being chased by a D'Deridex and went into an asteroid field and waited for it to come in after me. Then we detonated the torpedoes and turned it into a gallery of death when the asteroids started bouncing off of each other."

"A nightmare? You mean this tactic is based on a bad dream?" Terry couldn't believe it. "Well girl, if this works, I'm calling it the Khan-Boom Maneuver. You'll go down in the history books, little one."

Conga burst out laughing at the name. "I don't do anything in half measures," she said. "I love that name, too. A shame we're only in a simulation that's trying to kill us. No one will ever know other than the two of us." She checked the sensors. "Thirty thousand kilometers and closing fast! Arming torpedoes."

Terry smirked at her previous comment and thought, Yeah, no one will ever know unless you to put all of the technical details of it into a formal proposal and submit that to the Squadron Commander for review. Who knows? "Torpedoes armed," Terry said. "Ready to drop 'em off and make a run for it. And since this is your idea, Conga, take point."

Kelly closed on the asteroid field and checked the sensors. "Approaching in five, four, three. Slowing to thrusters. Two. One." She entered the field and used her RCS thrusters which proved remarkably gentle, yet powerful as she worked her way into the asteroids. "Deploying in ten." She made sure to set the detonators for metals found in Nausicaan ships and a size perimeter, then relayed the data over to Rocco.

Terry pulled into a parallel course, several meters from Kelly. They didn't need to mine the asteroid field too closely. Spreading them out a little might give them a better playing field. He looked at the data coming in across his monitor and nodded. Very good, he thought to himself. The chiseled Commander input the information for detonation into his torpedoes. "And ready to deploy."

"I'll take starboard, you take point," she said as she veered off and began to deploy the torpedoes. She checked the sensors and saw the Nausicaans were preparing to enter the asteroid field as well. "As soon as the field is mind, we can sling a few of these smaller asteroids around and start the fun."

"Roger that," replied Terry. He tapped his RCS thrusters and slowly moved forward, dropping his programmed torpedoes as he went. It was slow moving for them, but he took comfort in the fact that the larger ships would have and even more difficult time. And that would give them all the time they needed to finish the job. "It's a good thing the Gryphons come with thirty-six of these babies. We're going to need all we can get against those jokers." He looked down to see the red indicators slowing. "Looks like they're having a hard time. Heh, it's about to get even harder."

"Keep seeding the asteroid field," Kelly said as she began to work on deploying more torpedoes throughout a small gathering of asteroids. This will be a beautiful bouncing baby bomb by the time they get here, Rocco." She stopped as she realized that she had been more or less giving orders to him and he was several ranks above her. "Uh, Sir," she said.

"It will be a beautiful thing indeed," Terry said between laughs. "It's okay, Ensign. This is, or rather was, a training scenario. You never know when you'll be called on to take control of a Flight. Or when your Flight loses it's leader and someone needs to step in. There's no time to debate qualifications at that point. They're going to need someone to step in and take command. You said yourself that Academy is putting out bolder Cadets. Boldness is needed and you have plenty to go around."

Not to mention some nightmares she thought was she checked the tactical sensors again. "Looks like it's time to shake things up, Rocco," she said. "All the Nausicaans are now in the asteroid field. Ready to play with some big balls?" she asked, unable to repress a giggle at what she had just said.

"Hah!" exclaimed Terry. "Something else, Conga, something else. Let's do it to it." Terry maneuvered to a safe distance and activated the tractor beam, locking on to one of the asteroids. He was smiling as he said, "Let's sling these bad boys and see what explodes, huh?"

Kelly locked onto one when she activated her tractor beam. "Once we start these bad boys bouncing, we're going to have to hightail it out of here, Rocco," she said. "Ready on your mark. Nausicaans are closing towards the center of the mine field."

"Roger that. Shields to maximum and standby to hightail it." He checked the tactical sensors and slowly nodded as the last Nausicaan ship entered the center of the mine field. "Now!" he called. The Commander spun his fighter around and deactivated the tractor beam, releasing the asteroid.

Conga swung her fighter in the same direction that Rocco did and released the tractor beam. The two asteroids collided and ricocheted off each other, which set other asteroids to hitting in the field. "Let's get out of here, Commander!" she called. "When those photon torpedoes go off, we're going to have much bigger ones trying to turn us into space pancakes."

She turned the Gryphon around on the RCS thrusters again, then began to plot a course out of the asteroid field as fast as she dared. "Five hundred meters to clearance and a lot of debris in the way, Rocco."

"We can make it, Conga. Might get a few scratches, but we'll make it," said Terry. "We're too pretty to die." He increased his speed as much as he dared and worked his thrusters hard dodging asteroids. He didn't look down to check, but he heard his screen beeping as the explosions started.

What the Commander couldn't see was that that asteroid after asteroid was bumping into one another, forcing the Nausciaan ships to adjust course. Right into their mine field. The first photon torpedo exploded as it detected the ship and immediately dropped the shields to forty percent. The added result was that asteroids and chunks of asteroids were sent rocketing towards the ship. Other explosions began to do similar damage to the Nausicaans as the chain reaction continued. One of the ships reversed course and actually backed into a torpedo, damaging the ship to the point of a warp core breach.

When Terry exited the asteroid field, he turned to take in the sight. It was magnificent, all those micro-torpedo explosions and then the multiple warp core breaches. "The Khan-Boom Maneuver...yeah. No other way to celebrate such a fantastic new tactic...warp core breaches."

Kelly watched the explosions on her Tactical Sensor Suite and gave a low whistle as she cleared the asteroid field and jumped to full impulse immediately. "That was some show, Rocco! You're right about being too pretty to die, too. We might want to put some distance between us and the rest of the show now that the main event is over. I recommend Coffeeopolis."

Terry burst out laughing. "Coffeeopolis it is! Course laid in, maximum espresso." He caught his breath enough to continue, "You did great back there, Conga. Keep that up and I might just be able to sign off on your fighter training sooner than expected. Oh, and that maneuver, write it up. Put together an official proposal and be as detailed as possible with everything. Use this simulation as an example, too. It might be a simulation, but it's still holographic...should be a way to save the program and replay it in the holodeck. Anyway, proposal, and submit it to me. You never know."

She had started to say something about his taste in coffee and then her words died in her mouth when she processed the rest of what he had said. "I can put it together, Commander, but the factors involved in such a maneuver would have to be met for it to work. Now that I'm not very happy that you'd even consider submitting it for a actual maneuver, Sir. I'll settle for a Irish Coffee."

"Can we exit the holodeck or is it going to try to kill us again?"

"Your's wouldn't be the first one where certain factors would have to be met for it to work," said Terry. "Ever hear of the Riker Maneuver? Due to practical considerations, it can only be performed in regions of space filled with dangerous, combustible substances such as metreon gas. Limited by spatial factors, yet still an official maneuver. The Khan-Boom Maneuver can only be performed in regions of space where an asteroid field is present. And yes, we should be able to get out of the simulators so you can get your Irish Coffee. But first, we settle this."

"The Riker Maneuver was also done in real space, not in a simulator," Kelly pointed out. "Not to mention that I said I'd submit it. Computer, exit simulation," she called.

"Good. I look forward to reading it and maybe even trying it in real space." He watched as the simulation faded and he was left in the mock-up cockpit. Terry opened it and exited, standing and stretching. "Good run, even with...whatever that was."

Kelly got out of her simulator cockpit and stretched from side to side with a groan. "I'm not saying that the seats aren't comfortable, but how do you handle being cramped in there for long periods of time?" she asked him.

It wasn't the first time someone had asked him that. And it wouldn't be the last time either. "It ain't easy," he said to the brunette. "I usually have to go to stretches afterwards to work out the kinks."

"There's other ways of working out the kinks," Kelly said before she could stop her mouth. "Such as a sonic shower or a massage," she quickly added. "That's what I do after I practice my martial arts."

Terry paused for a second before letting his arms fall back to his side and smirking at her. "Mmmhmm. A sonic shower or massage is rather relaxing and can help with the kinks. Nice save, Conga."

"Save? What save?" Kelly asked as she looked around with feigned innocence on her features. "I mean, what else could you do to get the kinks out?"

"I wasn't born yesterday, Miss Khan. And I have a feeling, neither were you," he replied. "Oh! I owe you something. Nearly forgot about that, since you did so well and all in the simulation. If you're still interested in knowing what I was about to say, I'll tell you."

She thought about it for a moment, then shook her head. "Nah," she said. "I don't want Dani mad at either of us if she finds out I know something she didn't want known." She paused and looked at him with a smirk. "And no, neither of us were born yesterday. Thanks for the training and offer to sign off on me, but I do it for fun. I'll write up that maneuver as soon as I get back to my quarters and submit it."

"It's not about Dani," he reassured her. "I wouldn't do that to her. It was about how wonderfully the fighters actually fly. But I appreciate the thoughts, nonetheless. You're a good one, Kelly. And you're welcome. Anytime you want some simulator activity, just let me know. I'll also be on the lookout for that submission. So if there's nothing else you have for me, I consider this the end of a good session and a good day."

"Thanks," Kelly said. "But what about that Irish Coffee?"

"Oh. Crap. Thanks for the reminder. Yeah, let's get you that Irish Coffee," said Terry. He made his way towards the door. "So, Conga, what in the world happened in the Academy that gave you that nightmare?"

"It wasn't what happened at the Academy," she said as she headed for the closest turbolift. "It was my first week on campus and I had a lot of anticipation built up and was running training simulations of combat. I was on a ship called the Magellan and we were attacked by a D'Deridex. The Captain was killed and I was the senior officer on the bridge, so I took over. I took the ship to a nearby asteroid field and ordered the warp core and all of our torpedoes ejected and fire on them when we got in the shadow of a giant asteroid. The D'Deridex singularity breached and the ship imploded. Sort of like what we did there without the implosions."

Terry nodded the whole time as they walked out the door and down the corridor. "The Academy can do strange things to new Cadets," he said. "And new Cadets can do strange things to the Academy, too." He chuckled a bit as he thought of some of the stories that he'd heard back in the day.

"You sound like you have a few stories to tell, too," Kelly said with a laugh. "Care to share?"

"Ohhhh, I can share," he said. "That I can do. First, you have to realize that I'd been flying fighters for the Starfleet Marine Corps for several years. I knew what I was doing in the cockpit and had been around long enough to know a few things. When I came back to Active Duty, I found that the Corp had been downsizing. I wasn't left with much of a choice, so I went to Starfleet Academy. At least a portion of it. The powers that be took into consideration my previous experience." He paused to enter the turbolift. "So there you have it, an older, war-torn pilot in the Academy with a bunch of wet-behind-the-ears first year Cadets." He looked down at the young woman. "So which genre of stories do you want? The humiliating prank type or the personally embarrassing type? Though not this person," he added quickly.

She listened to him quietly while he related his past and present history, then cocked her head to the side. "Not for you?" she asked. "Where's the fun in that? I earned the name Conga by getting drunk on Romulan Ale the night I got inducted in Nova Squad and ended up dancing naked on the quad before they got me back in the flight hanger."

Terry was speechless. "Uh, well now, that's one way to get a callsign or a nickname either one." He paused for a second and sighed. "So, Rocco it is then. Fair shake and all. Back when I was butterbar Lieutenant in the SFMC, a group of us pilots got together for shore leave and really enjoyed it. One night, we all got a tipsy and went out for tacos. There was this place called Rocco's Tacos down the street from where we were staying. Everyone else was seated and I got the short straw of bringing the meals. All of the tacos were neatly arranged on one large serving tray...until some Fleeter tripped me. Then I was wearing them...all over my chest. The other guys fell over laughing and yelling, 'Rocco's tacos!' Damned if it didn't stick. Just like the tacos."

Kelly started to say something, then she burst out giggling and nearly fell over before she caught herself against the wall. She held her sides as she laughed until she was wheezing and gasping for air. Finally, she managed to get control of herself for a moment. "Does Rocco like Dani taco, too?" she said almost breathless before she cracked up again.

Terry watched the brunette Ensign as she entered a solid state of laughter and couldn't help but laugh himself. Though not on the same scale as her. It was her next question that caught him by surprise. "Ohhh Conga. I think that one's best left to the mystery of the stars. Or at least Dani and I." The lift stopped and Terry put his arm out for Kelly to go first. "The naked there's something I bet your boyfriend would enjoy." The broad man barely got that out before he started laughing again.

"He already knows," she said as the doors opened on the turbolift. "Boy does he know. I could go for some Romulan Ale about now, too. Speaking of drinking, I got something on shore leave for you, but haven't had a chance to get it to you yet."

He shook his head and chuckled as he followed her out. "Why don't we just stick with the Irish Coffee for now. I'm not sure if you could even get some Romulan Ale, at least here. Besides, I'd hate to have carry a naked, Conga dancing Ensign back to her quarters. And then explain it to Dani. Anyway, you got something on shore leave for me?" It was most certainly a surprise and it made him wonder even more. "Maybe I can pick it up later? Or you can drop it off? Or whatever works for you."

"I'll drop it off," Kelly said. "I had forgotten it until just now, but the Irish Coffee will insure that I stay sober enough to know I'm drunk if that makes sense and I'll keep my uniform on. As for you carrying me back, wouldn't be difficult to do if I were dancing at the time?"

"Sounds good, then," he replied. "And...I'm still trying to make sense out of that. But I'll take your word for it." He kept walking down the corridor. "Oh, and not so much if I tossed over my shoulder and I had a good grip on your ankles. I think I'd stand a pretty good chance of holding your legs still with these arms. So dance away, Ensign Kelly Khan, dance away."

"You do have some big guns there, Rocco," Kelly said as she walked down the corridor beside of him. "But even with those, holding a drunk dancing me might be more than you bargained for. I'm small, but I like kneecaps and if I'm dangling over your shoulder by the ankles, it would put me about the right height to reach them."

"You make a very valid point there," Terry said. "I guess I'd get a workout then. 'Cause I'd drop you over my shoulder and behind my back, hold your ankles, and lift you up and down. Work out these guns, thanks by the way, by lifting a wiggling Conga up and down."

"Or you could just request a site-to-site transport to have me beamed to my quarters," Kelly said. "Otherwise, we both might end up in bad shape."

"And deny myself a workout. Hah! But you're right, that would be a lot easier. Leave it to the weightlifter to do things the hard way and the engineer to use the transporter," he said. "Site to site transport it is then." He grinned as they came around the corner and neared the lounge.

She laughed. "You should like you'd be a fun workout buddy," she said. "I need to get back into my training and I think you'd be a good workout partner and spotter."

"If you're willing, I'm game," replied Terry. "I used to do my workout at odd hours of the night, though. Quieter, more focus, that sort of thing. But I had to change that, so I'm open to times. If you were being serious, that is."

"That really depends on what time of night," Kelly said as she entered Talon's. "I'm on Delta Shift. Life of an Ensign is stuck on night shift until we earn Alpha."

"Oh, I meant that I used to do it at night," he said. "I try to get it in sometime after shift now. Nights are...occupied. Anyway, I remember Delta Shifts all too well." He looked around and decided that the bar might be just good enough. "Bar stools look okay to you?"

"Sorry," she replied. "I'm still a bit scatterbrained after that run. At the time, it was all training kicking in with ideas flowing like water. Now my brain is sort of shifting gears and making suggestions." She looked up at him and grinned. "I bet your nights are occupied. Bar stool is fine with me, Taco Rocco."

"Taco Rocco...," he said, shaking his head. "It's okay Conga, don't worry about it." He sidled up to the bar. "Espresso, French Roast." He patted the stool to him, "Hop on up."

Kelly acted like she needed a running start to get up on the stool before she hopped up on it and stopped her forward slide with her hands on the bar. "Irish coffee, heavy on the Irish," she said. "You're secret's safe with me, Commander," she told him as she turned her attention back to him and switched to a more formal form of address in public since she wasn't a member of the Black Knights.

Terry laughed at the young brunette as she hopped up and slid to a stop. "Thanks, Ensign. As is yours, with me. So, you like a little coffee with your Irish, don't you?"

She shrugged. "It's all synthehol, so why not go heavy on it?" she asked. "You can think yourself sober with that stuff. It's the real stuff that gets you in trouble."

"Good point. Might as well load it up," he said. Then he chuckled, "Don't I know it. The real stuff is good though. Maybe the barkeep could make some visits while we're around here and stock up."

"I have a small stash, but it's being saved for a rainy day," Kelly confided in a lowered voice to him. "If the upcoming missions are anything like the old ones were, I have a feeling that I may have to save it for a sunny day, though."

"Yeah, you could go through your stash quicker than you think if you play it like that," he said. "I started rebuilding my stash while I was on shore leave. Dani helped me, too." He nodded to the Bolian behind the counter as he set the mug down.

Kelly took her Irish Coffee and took a sip of it. "You and Dani sound like you're starting to build a lot of things together," she said with a smile before she wiped the cream mustache off of her upper lip.

"I think we are," he said, sitting his mug back down. He looked over to her and smiled. "How's your sythe-Irish coffee?"

"It's fine," she said. "Although I don't know if I drink it more for the buzz or the caffeine. It's one of those things that I never actually decided on. What do you think is better?"

"Well, I'll be honest. It depends. I like the caffeine for sure," he said, tapping the rim of espresso mug. "But there is always room for the buzz. When the pilots are hanging out after a When I'm pulling extra hours...caffeine. Things like that."

"Some people would say that I don't need the caffeine at all," Kelly said with a laugh. "But how else am I supposed to keep going full tilt all the time? I don't run on air and chocolate, but I'd live on chocolate if I could. I stocked up on a lot of that before I came back and even got Lieutenant Corwin a candy bar of the month subscription."

"Ensign, I say take all the caffeine you want. Keep on going full tilt. Show 'em what you can do," said Terry. "That was nice of you. So, a chocolate girl, eh. Got a favorite kind from a particular planet?"

"Well, there's one dessert that comes to the top of my list," she said after another sip of her Irish Coffee. "That's the Ktarian chocolate puff, but it has seventeen different kinds of chocolate in it. For a single favorite, I'd have to go for Godiva chocolate from Earth. In all honesty, though, there hasn't been a chocolate that I don't like. What about you? Do you have a vice that you can't live without?"

The Squadron Commander chuckled. "Can't blame you there. And yeah, I do. Wine. Fine wine. And most of all, the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. I can't live without my wine. As a matter of fact, that's my stash." He paused a second to take another sip of his espresso. "Believe it or not."

"The Domaine de la whowhat?" Kelly asked as she got tongue twisted trying to pronounce it. "I never would have figured you for one of the oh la la connoisseurs, but it takes all kinds. When I was new at the Academy, I tried a glass of Chateau Picard, but it made me sick."

He laughed. "It's not easy to pronounce if you're not used to it. And I'm not a fan of the Picard vineyards, personally. Heh, it'd probably make me sick, too." He grinned and winked at Kelly.

She smiled although a bit weakly. "I don't think it has as much to do with the wine as it did an arguement that I had with my cousin the night of my swearing in ceremony. She and a Commander who turned out to be my Flight instructor were bickering and I got ignored. We made up much later, though."

"Aww, I'm sorry to hear that," he said quietly. He took a large drink of coffee. "But I'm glad you eventually made up. People sometimes associate things like that."

"It does happen, but we did," Kelly said as she knocked back half of her Irish Coffee and shook her head. "Nice kick there! So when do I get my wings, Commander?"

Terry chuckled; she could really throw 'em back. Probably give half the pilots in his Squadron a run for the latinum. "You may have already been through the Academy's flight school. But you haven't been through any kind of a starfighter flight school or training. Officially, I mean. I've had you on the holodeck and in the simulator. But nothing official. I appreciate your tenacity, though." He paused for a second and put his hand in a pocket, pulling out the patch he'd picked up on the floor of his office earlier. "Here," he said, "honorary patch, honorary member of the team." He held it out for her to take.

She squeaked when she saw it and restrained herself from ripping it out of his hands. She took it as if it were one of the most precious gifts she had been given. "I'm honored, Commander," she said. "Thank you. I'll never let down the name of the Black Knights as long as I live. I'd be happy to fly with you more in the simulator and holodeck, too. Also...I'm sorry that I sort of sandbagged the first time we went out. I got razzed a lot for being Nova Squad when I was in the Academy."

"You're welcome, Ensign," Terry replied. "And thank you, too, for supporting the Knights. I'll definitely take you out more in both of them. And don't worry about being Nova Squad. It just tells me that you're that good. And now I'll expect more when we go out. Don't sandbag it, Ensign. Be real, 'cause that's what we need out there. Just like your idea with the asteroid field. Don't be afraid to step up if your Flight needs it."

"That's just it," Kelly said as she finished her Irish Coffee. "I'm Delta shift. We sit on the bridge and try to stay awake so we know the course laid in stays the same. I drink about two pots of coffee a shift just to be able to look alert. It'll be a while before I get official bridge duty."

"But you will have official bridge duty," he said. "And you can look forward to our fighter training as preparation for what comes your way. Think about piloting the ship against fighters with the perspective from a fighter. You could pull something off, surprise the enemy squadron, and it just might help your career. All of that coffee and Delta shift will pay off."

"Yah, but the difference between a fighter pilot and a flight pilot is the fact that you guys don't have to wait for others to give you orders," Kelly said. "You just do them. We have to wait for orders from whoever has the conn and then do what they decide."

"It's a stepping stone, Miss Khan. You started as Flight in Starfleet. It'll just take time for you to work your way up to where you can request transfers to get to what you want," said Terry. He tossed back the last of his cooling espresso and looked at the young lady. "Next time, we'll see how good you are at Hugging the Donkey."

"Hugging the what?" She asked as her head snapped up from the patch she had been admiring and looked at him as if he had grown a second head. "I've hugged the toilet a few times....but I've never hugged a donkey. Is that some fighter pilot right of passage?"

Terry started laughing. And he continued for about half a minute. "You could say that. It's when you avoid enemy fire by 'hugging the donkey.' You stay close to the ship you're attacking, facing forward, and continue to fly rapidly and randomly around the enemy. You essentially give them a fast moving target with random flight paths. And you can fire your weapons the whole time. Hugging the Donkey."

"Now that sounds really interesting," Kelly said after he explained it. When he had first started laughing, she thought it was at her hugging the toilet, but it made sense. "That is definitely something I haven't heard of and now I have to try it. Have you hugged many donkeys, Commander?"

A Crewman was walking up to the bar and about to place an order when he heard the Ensign ask the Commander if he'd ever hugged donkeys. He stopped and turned to look at the two of them. Then he quietly stepped away and headed for the door. It was apparently time for him to stop drinking for the night.

Terry chuckled when he saw the scene unfolding due to Kelly's question. "Hey, check out the Crewman walking away. I think he heard your question and it unnerved him."

She looked over her shoulder at the retreating crewman and a gleam came into her eyes. Unable to resist, she called out. "You haven't lived until you've hugged a donkey!" and then burst out laughing as the effects of the synthehol made it even funnier to her.

Terry cracked up at Kelly's remark to the kid. It was great, she was a riot, and the poor kid sped up right after it. "Look!" he said between laughs, "you made him practically run!" Yeah, if she ever hung out with the pilots, she could have them rolling on the floor.

Kelly giggled until she snorted, then burst out laughing again. "Donkey!" she called out before she nearly fell off her chair laughing. "Oh man...the rumor mill is going to have fun with this one. We'll be known as Team Donkey or something."

Terry quickly reached out to catch Kelly, but saw that she'd managed to catch herself. He sat back up and continued laughing. "Yeah, I can hear it now. 'Look, there goes Team Donkey! When's the next donkey hugging contest?!' The rumor mill will be going full blast with this one." Then he paused. "Oh. I'm going to have a dandy of a time explaining it to Dani if it gets to going around Medical."

"I can't imagine what Quinn would do if he finds out, either," she said as she laughed. "He's going to think I'm completely off my rocker. Dani would question my sanity if she knew, too. We may end up in I Hug Myself jackets."

"I Hug Myself jackets...." He had to think on that one for second. Then it hit, "Oh for the love of...Khan, that's...that's...." Then a huge grin spread across his face. "Donkey jackets." Then he burst out laughing. "Imagine it, a donkey wrapped in a straight jacket with the caption, 'Starfighter Corp' at the top and 'Hugging the Donkey before grandad was in diapers' on the bottom. All on a patch."

Kelly started laughing harder. "Oh man," she gasped for air as other patrons around them started to look at them as if they were crazy. "This has to be a thing! It has to be. Hug a donkey if you know a fighter pilot!"

Terry shook his head and laughed again. "You know, Ensign Happy, I think it will probably end up being a thing. Someone around here, or a few someones have heard this whole conversation. It'll be all over the ship in a couple days. And we both know what kind of people hang out on the Flight Deck. So I'm sure it'll eventually become a thing."

She looked at her empty cup, then shook her head as she decided against another one. ."You got that right. The only thing to fly faster than fighters is rumors."

"Absolutely." He watched her shake her head at her cup. "So, no site-to-site transport for you tonight, huh. Gonna try your own LPC's...Leather Personnel Carriers."

"Nah, not tonight," Kelly said. "I think I'm going to head back and get some dinner, though. Even simulated, flying a fighter takes a lot of energy, and I have a maneuver to propose. Thanks again, Commander!"

"It does," he said. "Wears you down. And you're welcome, Ensign Khan." Something to eat would be nice. But he had a stop to make before getting back to his quarters for dinner. "I look forward to reading your proposal."

She slid off her stool and shook off the effects of the synthehol, then smiled at him. "See ya later, Rocco," she said. "And watch out for the tacos." With a giggle, the young Ensign headed out.

"Later, Conga," he said, returning her smile. And then chuckling at the tacos comment. He watched her leave and shook his head. She was a spunky one, that Ensign. Terry expected to see her off of Delta Shift within the year if she kept pushing herself. And he had no doubt that she would.


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