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Part of USS Denver: Mission 5: A Day Late and a Dollar Short

The Lessons Begin NOW!

Fighter Flight Commander's Office, USS Denver
September 9, 2374 @0820
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Ming smiled.  The meeting had ended only a few very short moments before and T’kown was deep in meditation, while Erikson and McPherson were having a discussion with Sh’iv.  Last he had caught it was discussions about Gem’hadar tactics and the best ways to utilize their knowledge to “kick the Federation’s ass up around their ears” as McPherson savagely put it.

Ming had his own ideas and was starting to adjust some research he’d done into a battle plan for the aggressor squadron that was likely to be the best avenues to train and win the scenerios put to them.  He looked up as Xellath was loudly (and rather happily he thought) issuing orders in between checking the work being done.

There was one face decidedly missing from that line of action.  His new protégé had to start somewhere and, well, it was her idea to start here in the flight bay.  He tapped his combadge and said, “This is Lieutenant Marcus Ming to Órlaith.  Please report to the flightbay…I’d recommend attire apporpriate for getting your hands dirty.”

Holodeck 3…

The Klingon swung his bat’leth, massive muscles bulging as he brought the weapon down from an overhead chopping blow that would have split Órlaith in two. She rolled to the right, the blade missing her by inches.  Órlaith ould smell the Klingon’s sweat, and sour breath stained with too much bloodwine

She slammed the bucker in her rignt hand into his face crushing the nasal bone. It was a powerful cross body blow swung from the hip. At the same time she stomped down on his instep with the heel of her boot and felt the bones under her foot give way.

With her opponent stumbling back and dazed this created the separation she needed to use her arming sword.  In an upper slashing blow she sunk the yard length blade of steel into the body of the Klingon, and immediately the hologram vanished.

This is Lieutenant Marcus Ming to Órlaith. Please report to the flightbay…I’d recommend attire apporpriate for getting your hands dirty,” the com interrupted

Órlaith glanced down at her attire.   She was wearing a loose fitting white pirate style blouse, an pair of high waisted form fitting trousers,  and  soft leather riding boots that ended just below the knee.  Shrugging,  she tapped her combadge,  “On my way sir.”

Hanger Bay…

Ming had just finished speaking with the newly minted Lieutenant (JG) Sh’ivhohlol and was smiling as he watched her go.   She’d have to get over her embarassment for positive recognition just like she needed to show grace under the negative.  She showed great potential on levels that he’d seen only few times before.  Not that he considered himself a great measure of such a thing.  He’d just learned a long time ago that certain feelings were good to trust.  This felt like one of them.

He shook his head snapping himself out of his revelry (as it were).  Looking up he noticed his young protégé entering the flight bay.  Crossing his arms he watched her head his way putting on his poker face that had helped win more than a few hands over the years.  She volunteered to learn from the ground up.  Her education and the show would soon be starting.

“Sir?” Órlaith greeted standing before Ming at parade rest.

“Thanks for getting here so quickly Miss Murphy.  The Knights are going to be playing the role of an aggressor flight for a wargame that is happening in not much more than half an hour. We rather had it sprung on us within the last couple hours and our flight crew is scrambling to meet the requirements posed upon us.  I’d like to have you work with Petty Officer Andrews over in the ordenance section.  That’ll be the first step in your training and, while I know you’ve got experience, I’m having you start on the ground level.  I want you to learn the Starfleet methods and procedures of things which may, if not not likely, varies from what you learned beforehand. in cerrtain ways.  I’d like to ask you to stick around to assist with putting things to rights when the drill is over,”  Ming explained in detail.

The Knight’s CO waited a moment to let what he explained sink in before he asked, “Any questions on the matter?”

“I was the daughter of a self-appointed Emperor and tyrant,” she said. “I did whatever I wanted.” She glanced around taking in the hustle and flow of the fighter bay. “I know a great deal about piloting,  but nothing about the Starfleet way. As for questions I have none at this point.”

“I slept and dreamt life is beauty, I woke and found life is duty,”  Ming quoted in a soft tone that still projected across the sound of the bustling bay.

Marcus eyes focused suddenly and sharply onto Órlaith and he said with a much more serious (and somewhat darker) tone, “What you just described was another universe and another life.  You’re here now and you asked to learn.  You can do pretty much what you want within reason on your own time, Órlaith.  However, right now you are on MY time and I aim for you to get the education you, quite frankly, need.  I will be fair, I will be honest and I will never ask you to do anything I am not or have not been willing to do myself.  What I will not do is tolerate insubordination or any other such bullshit young lady.  I know you’ve got intelligence and the ability to learn. You’ve got holes in your education and you’ll need to use both if you’re going to get very far.  You’ll also need to recall that you are not a princess in this universe and, while you have the opportunity to be respected, you’ll need to earn it.  You’re going to have to do that starting at pretty much the ground level, however.  Now, is THAT clear?”

“Crystal,” Órlaith replied. “No insubordination intended sir.” She was taken back by Ming’s outburst.

Ming got the strong sense of her honesty and shocked surprise.  Once he realized this his face softened and he let out a slow breath.

“Sorry for the intensity there.  Drill instructor moment over.  You’ll face similar at Starfleet Academy should you decide you wish to go that route.  You also might want to limit whom you discuss your acutal history with.  Many to most have a dim view of things and people with a multiversal background and I really don’t want it to be held against you.  I’d rather you be judged for your actions and your words rather than your history and other people’s ignorant bias,” Ming said much more amiably but in a more quiet volume.

He looked thoughtful and said, “Part of my decision to pair you with Andrews is based on a few reasons.  I won’t say that any member of this flight crew will act inappropriately however a nice looking young woman might be the target of such actions.  While locker room behavior might slide to a certain agree not taking a hint won’t.  There tend to be certain elements that can be immature which Petty Officer Andrews tolerates very little of.  Crude jokes are common in flight bays like this.   She’s good about not letting it cross any major lines though.  If you’ll casually glance to your 3 o’clock…The 6′ 4″ fellow, well developed muscles…”

“I can…  Sir, I can handle myself. My training has included various martial styles including Taekwondo,  and European sword and shield techniques.”

“Not bad.  Maybe we could spar sometime.  Regardless and at the least it’s good to have someone with you that can start to show you the ropes of the department and point out who’s to keep an eye out for,” Marcus started off before a brief pause.  

“Andrews knocked him flat on his back a few weeks ago for repeatedly commenting about her butt.  She asked him to stop as she wasn’t appreciating the multitude of comments after three or four times.  After he continued after the second warning she happened to be on a step stool at the time and popped him square in the nose.  He was knocked the hell out for a good five minutes.  I didn’t and Mr. Xellath didn’t reprimand him as the rest of the flight crew has been berating him.  That’s punishment enough considering this group,” Ming said allowing himself to sounding a bit amused.

“She’s also one of he most fair and generally even keeled members of this crew….despite an intolerance for unwanted advances.  She’s also helped forge inexperienced technicians into some of the best on this flight months in the span of a few months.  You want to learn from the best?  She’s one of the best. Plus she will pop any of the sharkes in the nose whenever needed.   At the least she’ll very likely warn you who’s who.  I’ll start expanding your training soon.  I’ve been playing with plans for that but haven’t settled on a firm training plan quite yet beyond what I felt was a good starting point,” Ming said with a slight but sincere smile.

“Yes sir. She sounds like someone I can work with,” Órlaith said. 

“Glad to hear it.  It’s a bit hectic getting ready for this war game esepcially with only about an hour to prep with some very detailed tweaks to be made.  As it stands…”  Ming was saying before he paused to look at his wrist watch (which was digital but made to look line an antique) before continuing, “Just under 18 minutes until we launch.  As such I’ll be rounding up the knights in a few minutes for a final and quick debrief.   I’ll leave it to you if you want to stick around for that and then jump into the proverbial fray with Andrews or else just skip the debrief and head right over.  I’ll let you make the choice on that one.”    

“Pilot briefings are for pilots. I’ll just stick with Andrews. I haven’t earned that privilege yet.”

Ming actually chuckled at his protege’s response.  He explained by saying, “I might be crazy but I feel like say with certainty that you’ll be sitting in on such things sooner or later AS a pilot.  However you prefer it however.”

He turned toward a knot of ground crew and barked, “Andrews!  Need to borrow you for 20 seconds over here!”Andrews was barking her own orders inbetween checking ordenance as he job entailed.  

When Ming’s voice cut through the hubbub she issued a couple of prefunctory commands of her own before trotting over.  She gave Ming a smile and said, “Ya got 15 sir.”

“Andrews, this young woman is Órlaith.  She’s pre-academy and the Captain agreed to take her on board for a bit of training.  She’s already got a fair deal of experience that you might not expect so don’t let any of those lugs out there underestimate her.  I don’t want to have to run interference again because someone offended her and got knocked on their asses like I did for you.  Comprende,” Ming said with that last word being a question as much as a statement.

The Ordenance chief looked from Ming to Órlaith, back to Ming and smiled.  She said, “Sounds like someone I can work with L.T.”She turned and said, “Órlaith is it?  Good to meet you.  The Lieutenant wouldn’t waste time bringing you down here if he wasn’t certain you’d be worth the time.  Which that leads me to think I’ll be glad to show you the ropes but before we get goin’ I gotta ask….what kind of background ya got with ordenance and being on a flight line?” 

“Ordenance? None. That wasn’t part of my prog… training. I have extensive hand to hand combat training from my father as well as rudimentary piloting and navigation. My mother’s focus was on the mind. Read works from Sun Tzu, the De re militari, as well as Voltaire,  Dickins, Dumas, Doyle ect… But, bombs,  torpedoes,  and missiles? Those were not in the curriculum.”

“That’s….quite impressive miss,” Andrews said looking and sounding impressed.   

She recovered her composure quickly however and continued, “If ya plan on being around these fighters for any period of time knowing what they’re shootin’, how they work and understanding when as well as how to use ‘em is a key bit of knowin’….Wouldn’t  you say L.T.?” 

Ming took the que and replied, “You’re right about that one Andrews.”

He turned to his new protege and said, “It helps knowing the limits and options with our weaponry.  Firing a torpedo at ⅓ yield vs full yield or switching to phasers can be a sticky wicket sometimes.  While hitting full force is necessary often enough there are times we have to worry about collateral damage….in many cases civilians or friendly forces and/or instillations while taking out targets.  Pretty much all the Knights had at least a semester of intensive and immersive experience with the weapons systems.  If you do end up going to the academy and eventually being a Federation pilot it’ll be important to know.”

Marcus smirked and added, “It’ll be good knowledge to have regardless and, if you pick up enough, you’ll get the chance to wow the instructors at Starfleet Academy.  I cannot emphasize enough how having an extensive knowledge of this stuff will help you down the road.  Again, it’s part of why I am having you start here.  And I am not sure there are many better to train under either.” 

Andrews colored and muttered a sincere, if embarrased, thanks for the complement.  Again she recovered with a smooth lack of effort she seemed to excel at.  She said, a touch more southern drawl, “If yer ready we can start yer lessons now.   No time like the present as my daddy used to say.”  

“Let’s do it,” Órlaith said with a grin.

Ming grinned and was quite glad at the response he just saw.  Órlaith was turning out as being at least a half step above expectations much of if not most of the time in his limited experience.  It was very nice to see.  The thought had just crossed his mind not even a heartbeat before when the hair on the back of the pilot’s neck started to stand on end.  His face must’ve betrayed his feeling because both women suddenly turned to face him as he muttered a soft, “Oh hell…..” 

“Sir?” Órlaith asked confusion etched across her face.

Ming was about to reply when the ship went on red alert.  The additional this is not a drill nailed his sudden alertness as confirmed.  He snapped into action by first turning to Andrews, “Get the Vaklyries weapons ready.  Full fangs and claws double time if you please Mikaela.”

As the ordenance chief headed out Marcus looked at Órlaith and said, “Go with her!  Nothing like real world experience I’ve learned.  Take care of yourself and listen to that lady right there.”

Órlaith nodded, turned and trotted after Andrews without any debate.

The lieutenant watched her go before tapping his combadge, “Ming to Xellath…Easier than tracking you down chief but the shit just hit the fan apparently.  Keep the holoemitters on the fighters but reset the computer settings for real combat.  I have a feeling about this one.”

Xellath came back saying, “Very unusual sir…..VERY unusual.”

“Trust me Mr.  Xellath.  There’s a method to the madness I promise,”  Ming said before cutting the connection.  He was about to open a channel to find out what the hell was going on but he was beaten to the punch.

“Talon to Ming,” Rebecca’s voice came over the com.

“Ming here…..Go ahead captain.” 

Marcus, Betazed has been invaded by the Dominion. Starbase 75 has already fallen.”

“Mā de,” the pilot breathed.  His gut told him something was up but Betazed…..

“The flight crew is gearing the fighters back to battle ready, Captain.  They lept into action the second the alert sounded. What’s the game plan Captain,” Ming asked putting on his game face as his last flight leader called it.  

Coordinate with the Combat Controller on the Tigris. They will be directing flight ops. Other than that prepare for the worst. Talon out.” 

“Ming out,” the Knight’s CO replied.  

The Flight Commander tapped his combadge again, “Ming to Xellath:  Keep the holoemitters active.  Keep the Gem’Hadar profiles and add a cloaking function.  I aim to bring all our fighters and pilots home and damned the technicalities.”

Tapping his badge again cutting off some caustic Tellarite cussing, “Knight Actual to all Knights….Report to briefing room in 10 minutes…..Mark!”

Marcus tapped his badge closing the channel before stalking to his office to reach out to the combat controller on the Tigris.  His flight was going into action and it’s first major combat engagement with the Dominion.  He aimed to be part of the battle planning and bring his flight home safe after, he hoped, kicking the Gem’Hadar square in their collective asses.