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The Long Road Back [Backpost]

Posted on 10 Aug 2016 @ 5:52am by Ensign Aurilia Moretti & Lieutenant Commander Terry Walsh

Mission: Risky Business
Location: Squadron Commander's Office
Timeline: MD 1 || 0900 Hours

Terry leaned back in his chair after reading the personnel file and transfer orders for his newest pilot. A young Ensign that came from Unity with a less that sterling record. He tossed the PADD on his desk and shook his head, grinning. "She's gonna be a work in progress," he said to the four walls. But then, most pilots with a penchant for partying at the Academy, staying out past curfew, and a few other minor infractions were works in progress, too. Then there was the whole incident of showing up drunk for duty while on Unity and getting grounded. With all of that, it appeared that she had done some excellent work with the maintenance crews and her overall flying.

Now it was time to see what she had to say. Terry tapped his commbadge, "Commander Walsh to Ensign Moretti, report to my office on the double. Walsh out." Now it was only a matter of time.

It was inevitable Aurelia thought as she got the summons to report to the Squadron Commander of the Black Knights. I should have stayed on Unity and taken my chances there. She got up from her bed and pulled on her brown leather jacket with the custom wings pinned to it and made sure that the rest of her uniform was regulation. She pulled her long fiery red hair back in a tail and headed down to the flight deck.

Aurelia had done her research on the man she would be answering to and saw that he had been a Marine before he resigned and later rejoined Starfleet to become a fighter pilot at the loss of rank and position. Now he was a Lieutenant Commander and a Squadron Commander of the Black Knights and the rumor mill painted a picture of him as a fun loving guy when he was off duty and a serious man and excellent pilot when he was on duty.

She stepped off the turbolift onto the flight deck and headed to the man's office, wondering exactly what lecture she was going to get before she ever had a chance to prove herself or speak on her own behalf. With a sigh, she activated the door and simply walked into the office without using the chime. "Ensign Moretti reporting as ordered," she said as she came to a halt in front of his desk.

Terry looked up as the doors slid open and Ensign Moretti walked in. He smiled and leaned back in his chair while she walked up and reported in. "Have a seat, Ensign," said Terry gesturing to the chairs. "When most people are called in here, they ring the chime first and wait for permission. Way to think outside the box and break with tradition, especially since I was already expecting you." Thinking outside the box and having a non-traditional mindset is probably what makes her a really good pilot with a really good flight record, he thought. Could use some of that.

Aurelia gave the Commander a once over before she took the offered chair and crossed her arms over her stomach while she waited for him to tear into her since what he said didn't require a response.

"I'm sure you've heard it many times before, but, I've been looking over your personnel files," he started, taking note of her crossed arms. "You know what's in them and I know what's in them. So let's put it aside for a moment." He slid the PADD that he had been looking at to the other side of the desk. "I've also seen your flight records. You're a damn good pilot, Ensign. Not to mention your work in fighter preparation alongside the maintenance crews. Tell me how you managed to build a rapport with them so that they would trust you work on the fighters with them?"

Aurelia reached to take the PADD and looked at it. "Easy. I'm a pilot and know what goes where on my fighter, Commander. I don't have time to argue and if I show them that I know what goes where and the fact that I'm willing to get as dirty as they do, they trust me more. I'd rather have a team work with me instead of against me. No pilot needs a maintenance crew that hates them."

"Agreed," said Terry. "We all have to work together, officer and enlisted and officer and officer." He reached his hand out, "PADD please, Ensign."

She handed him the PADD back. "So let's have it, Commander," she said. "What's the flavor of the day for the lecture you have saved for me? I shouldn't drink? I need to watch my mouth? I should be more respectful and ring chimes when I get summoned? Something I haven't heard before, maybe?"

"Okay, let's address what you bought up," said Terry. "Drinking. I enjoy fine wines and other things when I'm off duty. You wanna drink, Ensign, do it responsibly off duty and don't you dare show up on my Flight Deck hungover. Your mouth. I've never known a pilot that completely controlled it. Don't shoot it off at the wrong person. And especially not on duty. As far as the chime goes, I don't see that as you being disrespectful. I see that as you tossing tradition out the airlock and thinking outside the box. That, Ensign, is something I'd like to see you transfer to the cockpit. I need more pilots who aren't afraid to break with tradition but still know their boundaries and not throw caution to the wind. Understood?"

"Yes, Sir," Aurelia said with a smile. "I promise that I won't let you down. You seem different from the others that I've served under. Well, not that I have a lot of experience serving under others. I had a bit of a rough patch, I guess you could say. Getting assigned so far from sort of made me a little crazy, and now I don't have a way to contact my parents, brother or sister and they have to be worried sick that I haven't contacted them by now."

Terry smiled a bit. "We all have our little differences, Ensign. But as far as you missing your family, I'm sure you'll be okay. A lot of people here are in the same boat and they seem to be managing well enough. You should get with some of them, hang out off duty. Make some friends, it'll help...if only a little. But just as soon as we can get control back and the wormhole opened, you can get a message through to them." Terry thought about his own mother and family back on Earth.

"So do you have any set patterns in your flight groups, Commander?" she asked as she started to get serious about her role there even though he hadn't told her she was going to be active duty.

"I do," he said. "And you will eventually learn them. But there is one other thing I want to address first. Are you aware that your assignment here is pending a probationary review by myself?" He wasn't sure if anyone had told her about that part yet.

"Yes, Commander," Aurelia said. "I'm also fully aware that I'm ineligible for promotion due to my actions for the next two years, Sir. I'm responsible for my own actions and I'm prepared to accept whatever you decide." No, I'm not, but it isn't like I have a choice, she thought and her thoughts were reflected in the look in her eyes and set of her face.

"Okay," he said, looking at her. "Your first probationary period will last two weeks. During that time, you will continue to work alongside the maintenance crews and liaise between them and the pilots. Help build the same rapport between my enlisted maintenance crew and my pilots that you built on Unity. And continue prepping fighters for their missions, be they training or actual. After the two weeks, I'll review the reports and we'll meet again. Also...," he took a deep breath, knowing this was not going to go well. "Also, I'm pulling your wings during your probation. You're going to have to earn them back, Ensign."

The young spitfire redhead started to say that two weeks wasn't bad, but then she heard the rest of his words and found herself on her feet and leaning against his desk as if she would jump over it. "My wings are already pulled, Commander!" she shouted at him. "I'm still doing the same damned thing that I was doing on Unity when they grounded me for six months and took any chances for promotion from me for the next two years. I've kept my damned nose clean since then and you feel the need to rub it in more? I guess the rumors about you were false, after all. Here I heard you were fair, but you're just like all the others."

Terry stood to his full six feet, two inch height and looked down at the redhead. "Ensign Moretti! Sit your ass down! First, you will not address a senior officer in that manner! Is. That. Clear?"

For a second, Aurelia considered going up against him, but she wilted again in the face of his physical presence and his commanding voice. She looked down at the floor and mumbled the words out, almost inaudible in the office that still echoed with his words. "Yes, Sir."

Terry didn't sit back down. Instead, he moved out from his desk and pushed the chair in, standing behind it all. For the moment, he found himself back in his old Marine mindset. "This is not a choose your own adventure holoprogram, Ensign. If you wanna choose your own adventure, then get out." He paused and let it sink in for a second as he paced behind his desk. "If you wanna continue with what you signed up for, then prove it to me. And keeping your nose clean is not the same as proving to me that you want this. You want fair? I'll give you fair. Don't just do what you've been doing since Unity, what I've said you will continue doing. Do more. Go above and beyond. Surprise me. Show me that you've got that drive to sit in the cockpit of a Valkyrie."

Aurelia looked up and she fought down the fire that burned in her despite everything. "I've been doing everything to prove that, Commander," she said quietly. "I make one mistake and it takes my wings and any hopes of promotion from me. I knew you were the one to determine what my fate was going to be, but pulling my wings after they've been pulled...that's insult to injury. I was born to fly fighters and now all I can do is ensure that others can fly them. I'll do my job, Sir."

Terry stopped and leaned down, putting his hands on the desk. "I don't want you to just 'do your job,' Ensign Moretti. How far do I need to break this down? You do what I've said you will do for the first two weeks. And during that time, you do more. You find something, hell, there's a Cadet here who scrubbed and washed all the shuttles and runabouts just for a chance to sit at the Black Hawk's helm. Now I'm not saying that you need to do that with the Valkyries, but do more than what I've assigned. Do more than just your job. And in two weeks, I'll see what I can do about your wings." That was what he had planned to do all along, but he had hoped that somehow she could find the motivation to do it on her own. "Can't do anything about that one mistake, but I can try to do something about your wings. Fair enough?"

Like I care about what a cadet does, she thought angrily. "Fair enough," she said out loud. "I'll do everything I can and more. Sir."

Terry stood. She was tough one. "That's all I ask of you for now, Miss Moretti. I think we're done here. Dismissed."

Aurelia nodded as she got up. "Thank you, Commander," she said before she headed out, her anger still there but she knew she only had to last for two weeks without blowing her fiery red top..again.


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