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Meeting the Blackjacks

Posted on 06 Sep 2014 @ 11:01pm by Captain Harvey Geisler

Mission: Razmena
Location: USS Black Hawk || Flight Deck
Timeline: February 3, 2388 || 1300 hours

It had been a few hours since Harvey had appointed the new CAG to command both squadrons. It had been decided that Sheldon, with reduction in rank, would still command the 325th while one of the newest pilots in the 555th would assume direct command of that squadron.

There were still details to work out, of course, and Harvey would leave those to the CAG. But, until he saw for a fact that both squadrons had settled in and learned to work together would he be able to let go of his concerns. Which is why his sudden inspection of the Flight Deck would be the first of many.

He arrived on the Flight Deck to see the personnel hard at work. Rather than involve himself in the proceedings, Harvey chose to simply step back and watch.

"What are you doing to my boat!?"

The Chief's voice rung out across the busy flight deck, causing more than a few enlisted heads to automatically cower. The heavy footsteps of the Chief Petty Officer in charge of the maintenance crew on the flight deck echoed through the suddenly quiet area around the 555th's fighter bay.

The Chief strode up to a panel in the side of the Valkyrie fighter, open but for the pair of legs dangling awkwardly from it. The booted feet kicked slightly as their owner tried to wiggle around within the bowels of the fighter, but did little to reply to the Chief.

"I said, 'What are you doing to my boat', son! Answer me!"

The thick accent of the Chief drawled out as his furor rose, slapping his hand firmly against the hull of the fighter. The blow echoed within the vessel, causing the occupant to squirm suddenly, clearly startled by the noise.

"What!?" came a muffled cry from within the fighter. The legs twisted and slowly extended out of the panel, followed by hips, a stomach, and the rest of the body they were attached to. The feet landed firmly on the deck as the man pulled himself from the hatch, glaring daggers at the Chief.

"I was running a diagnostic on the shield matrix!" the man protested, wiping his hands on a rag plucked from a side pocket. He wore a standard flight suit, no flair beside his rank pips, not even a unit badge. There was a stain of what looked like lubricant on his forehead where he must have mopped his brow inexpertly.

"That's not even where the shield matrix is, you fool!" the Chief replied, his face turning crimson with rage. The man in front of him gave him a rye smile.

"I got bored, so I decided to fiddle with the avionics, get some better response from the controls. Something we cooked up at the 325th... I can show you what I did if you want to copy it"

"Something wrong, Chief?" Harvey had observed the situation from afar. The captain knew, just as the Chief should know, that flight crews were comprised completely of officers. While even the lowly ensign outranked the highest enlisted man, all were instructed at the Academy to respect the experience of non-commissioned officers.

Lieutenant Junior Grade Gabriel Tainer leapt to his feet, coming to attention in front of the commander. He had seen the Captain of the Black Hawk during his embarkation, but had had little contact since. But his sudden appearance on the flight deck had coincided with a moment of mischief.

"Captain. My apologies," Gabriel began, his demeanor changing from confident to chaste.

"The Lieutenant here was altering the specs of his vehicle against the better judgement of the techs at Utopia Planetia, Commander Geisler, sir," the Chief said, his voice dripping with both respect for the Commander, and annoyed rage at the Lieutenant.

"Improving!" Gabriel retorted, annoyed, "Improving the base format is never a bad thing..."

Harvey did not immediately reply. His gaze shifted from the Chief (who should have known better than anyone that Utopia's tech specs were merely guidelines and that any engineer made tweaks to them over time) and then back to the Lieutenant (who should have known to at least go through proper channels between trying to make modifications to a bird).

"I'm sure the Lieutenant has a good reason," Harvey said at last, his solemn tone doing little to ease the tension. "Isn't that right, Lieutenant..." Harvey's voice trailed off, realizing he did not know the Lieutenant's name.

"Tainer, sir. Gabriel Tainer," the Lieutenant supplied. He understood that with a ship of any reasonable size, knowing the names of all your officers is incredibly unlikely, but he was a little hurt at the commander's lack of recognition.

"And I do have a good reason," he began, speaking quickly and fluidly, as his mind worked through the issue, "Any edge we can get in battle will be useful, because our enemies will do their best to take advantage of any weakness they see."

Harvey noted the sudden shift in the Chief's attention at the mention of the Lieutenant's name. He'd recognized it too, having read the report minutes before arriving on the Flight Deck. "Usually a Squadron Commander would let the Flight Crew handle the dirty work," Harvey pressed. He was sure both the Deck Chief and the Lieutenant would have differing opinions on that. Up until now, all Harvey had was a Starfleet profile and a name to work with when it came to the Blackjacks.

And this wonderful spat, of course. All he needed now was to see how well Lieutenant Tainer fared in this final wave of questioning.

"A squadron commander is still a pilot, sir," Tainer said confidently, "We are expected to know our birds inside and out. Along with the Deck crew. I will say, though, that my bird is in near perfect condition. Small tweaks aside, I had little to do"

He nodded his thanks to the Deck chief.

Much to the Deck Chief's chagrin, Harvey loosed a slight chuckle. It was refreshing to see such a caliber of officer on his ship again. "With me, Lieutenant. If you're done fiddling with your avionics, that is."

"Of course, Captain," Tainer replied immediately, wringing his hands with the cloth vigorously to remove the final scraps of lubricant. He pocketed the cloth and nodded to the Deck Chief, who threw his hands up in response and stormed off. Tainer fell in behind the Captain, half a step behind him to the right.

"You've got a hell of job in front of you," Harvey bluntly stated, leading the Lieutenant away from the fighters. "Coming into a squadron just weeks before deployment, and then being asked to command that squadron. I hope you're up for the challenge."

"It certainly is a challenge, sir," Gabriel agreed, his tone measured and calm, "But one must rise to meet adversity or be crushed by it. We've got a good team here, from what I've seen. Cohesion will come in time, I expect."

"If only time were merciful." Harvey frowned, stopping to turn and face Gabriel. "We're about to go deep into the fringe, where no Starfleet ship has ever gone before. Already we know we're not welcome, but we have to investigate. Cohesion will need to happen quickly."

Gabriel stared at the Captain for a long few moments, his jaw set firmly against the flare of anger within him. He wasn't a miracle worker! Squadrons typically get months to learn from one another, and now we only have days! But at the end of the day, it wasn't impossible. Just ridiculously improbable.

"We will get it done, sir. Whatever it takes, simulators, holo deck, live fire. I'll have them whipped into shape as soon as humanly possible."

Harvey saw the anger in the man's eyes, but chose not to acknowledge it. The young lieutenant was smarter than Harvey was at that age. It was probably why it wasn't until his forties that he made Commander.

"I look forward to it, lieutenant," Harvey replied with a tone that didn't endorse enthusiasm. He was anxious to see how Bridger, Sheldon and now Tainer would work together. The task before the Starfighter Detachment was monumental, and the task before the ship as a whole was more so. Collaboration on all levels would be required. "Lieutenant Bridger may be your superior, but don't hesitate to ask if you need anything."

"Of course, sir," Gabriel replied, nodding his head. It was always good to have the backing of the Captain, in spite of the task ahead of him, "If that will be all, Captain, I need to gather my squadron. Time is of the essence."

Harvey nodded to the Lieutenant and headed off to continue his inspection. Tainer turned on his heels, and jogged back towards his fighter, and the pilots milling around.

"Alright, let's get organized!" he shouted across the hangar.


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