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The Falcon and the Kite

[ Cadet Sashenka Kreshkova | Combat Tactics Lecture Hall | Starfleet Academy  ]

Excitement permeated the air as the cadets filed into Admiral Sobral’s Combat Tactics lecture hall.  Raucous laughter and congratulations filled the air.  This was their last class before finals and everyone seemed certain that the Admiral, as was his custom was going to have some kind of surprise or challenge for the graduating class.

Amongst the others, Sash meandered in toward her seat.  Her eyes were bright and she laughed aloud at several of her classmates antics.  She had her customary PADD tucked under her arm in case she would find a need for it.  Sliding into her seat in the front row on the far right, she swivelled sideways in her chair to listen to different students talk about where the group should get together that evening to celebrate their final day of classes as cadets.  Just as Mariano’s was determined as their meeting place at 2000 hours, the door on the side of the hall opened up and Admiral Sobral entered with an entourage of four or five people - a Romulan amongst them.

Now this caught Sash’s eye.  It wasn’t every day that you saw a Romulan on earth - but to see one in the most elite fighter class was … to Sash’s knowledge was almost unheard of.  While everyone’s ears were attentively tuned to the Admiral’s words, most of the eyes throughout the lecture hall followed the attractive Romulan as she - and all of the others - made their way to seats across the front of the classroom which faced the students.

Today’s final class would be a round robin of several people who specialized in different types of fighters to discuss and compare the intricacies of each to the other and to answer any questions that the cadets may have about the fighters that each specialized in. Commander Adam Bright was the first one introduced.  He specialized in Peregrine fighters.  The second was Lieutenant Commander Thomas Steiner who specialized in the Mark I Valkerie.  The third was Commander Aufra Dalix who had taken part in the R&D of the Mark II Valkerie.   But the fourth one - the Romulan - the one that everyone was most interested in wasn’t given any note by the Admiral.

Over the course of the next hour, the room was filled with a lively discussion of a myriad of topics relating to the three fighters in question.  At one point the conversation almost turned heated when the topic of the difference in the execution of thrust vectoring between the Perigrine and the Mark I Valkerie came up.

Nearly two hours later, the discourse between the three experts began to wind down and the Admiral rose from his seat and headed to the podium.  A murmur of anticipation could be heard throughout the students in the hall - whispers of what this year’s surprise or challenge might be.
Lieutenant Reika Sh’laan, Assistant Chief of Operations (V3) [Show/Hide]
Ensign Sashenka Kreshkova, Unassigned Wolf Trainee [Show/Hide]

Re: The Falcon and the Kite

Reply #1
[PO3 Lillee t’Jellaieu | Combat Tactics Lecture Hall | Starfleet Academy | Earth ] Attn: @Dree


Rear Admiral Sobral was a short and unassuming man, but the authority that he commanded was palpable. Upon reaching the podium, he took a long moment to look around the hall, smiling somberly, allowing the tension to build. Behind him, the other officers appeared interested, if only to be polite. The one exception was the Romulan, who wasn't even paying attention, simply typing on a computer interface embedded in the table. She'd been active during the lecture, calling up presentations on the large screen behind her or aiding the various guest speakers, but was now clearly ready to be done for the day.

"Before I let you go, cadets," Sobral began, his voice thick with his Portugese accent, "I want to end on a solemn note." Many cadets looked crestfallen, realising that there wouldn't be any surprises or challenges today, but all paid close attention regardless. "During the Dominion War, thirty one percent of all Starfleet fighter crews were killed in action. You all know that statistic. Now I want you all to think about what means."

Many cadets looked uncomfortably at each other as he spoke. Nobody had expected this. "Look to your left, then your right. If a major war begins tomorrow, then within two years, either you or one of those two people beside you will likely be dead. That is the reality of Tactical CONN. No matter how good you think are, no matter how superb your spacecraft is, there will always be someone better than you. Smarter, faster, luckier. You are the best and brightest of the Federation's member worlds, but never overestimate yourselves or underestimate others. Arrogance is something that far too many fine officers have suffered from, and far too many have paid for it with their lives. Don't be among them. Learn. Adapt. Improve. Overcome. Win."

Sobral stopped for a moment, allowing the message to percolate. "Good luck, cadets," he said gravely. At that, slowly, some of the cadets began standing up, but were startled when the admiral snapped his fingers. "Oh no, wait! I'm forgetting, aren't I? I know I odd...ah, right, of course! The challenge!" Within moments, excitement once again thrummed throughout the hall and everyone sat back down. Sobral grinned. "Now, as you all know, every year, I arrange something fun for the graduating class, usually with a prize on the line for the winners...and a penalty for the losers."

An excited murmur spread through the hall before Sobral spoke again. "At 2100 tonight, five volunteers from Nova Squadron will report to Holosim 1 for a seek-and-destroy exercise in Peregrines. Your opponent will be Petty Officer 3rd Class Lillee t'Jellaieu." The Romulan looked up in surprise and bafflement. Sobral, undeterred, gestured for her to join him, and with a sigh, Lillee walked over to the podium. She stood with her hands clasped behind her back, facing the cadets impassively.

"PO3 t'Jellaieu," Sobral continued, "is my aide and shuttle pilot, when the need arises. She is also due for some much deserved vacation. The mission profile is simple. If t'Jellaieu evades you for twenty minutes, you fail, and she gets an extra two weeks of vacation. If you shoot down t'Jellaieu during this time, all of Nova Squadron will, upon graduating, be assigned immediately to the USS Illustrious. The ship will be delivering a squadron of new Mark III Valkyries to a classified location, where you will begin Tac CONN earlier than anyone else in your class."

It was hard to miss the excitement of many cadets, but Sobral raised an admonishing finger. "However," he emphasised, "if Petty Officer t'Jellaieu shoots any of you down, the 'dead' cadet will pay a forfeit. For six weeks after graduation, they will work as my personal aide in Khartoum. They will get me coffee, and do paperwork. They will fly my shuttle, and do paperwork. They will handle calls from angry admirals, and do paperwork. They will sit at a desk all day, obeying my every whim, which, of course, includes paperwork. Perhaps worst of all, every one of your classmates will remember you as the elite pilot who got shot down by an admiral's aide, someone who has never been part of Tac CONN, or even attended this Academy."

"Best of luck, everyone!" Sobral finished cheerfully.

Re: The Falcon and the Kite

Reply #2
[ Cadet Sashenka Kreshkova | Combat Tactics Lecture Hall | Starfleet Academy  ] attn: @Griff

The eyes and ears of the whole class were glued to the discussion that was taking place at the front.  Forget just paying attention to the exposition to glean potential exam questions, each of these seniors understood the real-world value of the discussion.  Most of them would be heading to Tac CONN in short order, and this discussion could help their rankings if they could truly grasp the concepts.  The pilot on the front row with green hair was no exception.  She was glued to their every word, taking notes as appropriate.  Every now and again, she tossed long bangs out of her eyes,  but her attention never wavered.

And just as abruptly as the conversation had begun, it came to an end with a witty rebuttal from Commander Dalix.  The class laughed with one voice and then held their breath as all eyes fixed themselves on the Admiral.  

Sash would never tell anyone else this, but throughout her teen years, she had been to Admiral Sobral’s house and Admiral Sobral had been to hers.  Her father had even invited Sobral to join them on their 40-foot sailing boat on the Caspian Sea.  She remembered Sobral heaving over the side of the boat at least once before getting his ‘sea legs’ under him.  The thought brought a twinkle to her eyes. 

Her father, Admiral Kreshkova and Admiral Sobral were friends - one heading up the combat fighter division at the Academy and the other heading up Tac CONN.  They, out of necessity, had to collaborate on the different curricula used at the Academy so that Sobral would be able to prepare the cadets for what they would face at Tac CONN.  As a result of that, Sash was more familiar with him than most of the other cadets.

But as he made his way to the podium, she was just as eager to hear what his challenge or surprise would be for their graduating class.  But he didn’t mention either.  Instead, he took that moment to remind them of the seriousness, dangerousness, and even deadliness of the position that they sought.  Some of them were there because they were adrenaline junkies.  Some of them were there because they were glory seekers, but only a few of them were there because they couldn’t NOT fly.  And Sash belonged to that last group.  There was an integral element of her innermost being that had to be in a fighter - that couldn’t stop herself from doing a barrel roll which pushed the limits of her fighter’s inertial dampeners.  It wasn’t the thrill of the fight or the flight.  It was as if it was just who she was.  It was as important to her life as was her breathing … as essential as the beating of her heart.  The Admiral’s warning brought a soberness to the class that it had lacked just moments before.

Learn.  Adapt.  Improve.  Overcome.  Win. Good luck, cadets,” were his final words before he turned to go.  Sasch could almost feel the palpable disappointment that spread throughout the room like the Thalosian flu before the admiral snapped his fingers and turned back.

Oh no, wait!  I’m forgetting, aren’t I?  The challenge.”  And with that one word, the tension melted and was replaced by elation running throughout the group.

The next thing Sash knew the Romulan that had been present yet silent during the round robin was being called up to the podium.  Sash didn’t hear the next part about the prize or the consequences.  Instead, her eyes were focused on the Romulan.  If she was the Admiral’s shuttle pilot and aide, Kreshkova had likely come across her at some point and she wracked her brain to figure out where.  She thought she’d remember coming across a Romulan fighter pilot.  But in the absence of that knowledge, she decided just to study her.  The Russian could see that the other woman - Petty Officer 3rd Class t’Jellaieu moved with both finesse and confidence.  Her face was stoic, which said something in itself.  It said that the Romulan wouldn’t give herself away.  And that worried Sash.  She knew Sobral enough to know he was good at poker, and if he was going to bait the cadets with a Petty Officer, it was because he had an ace up his sleeve - or in a fighter as the case may be.

Though she may not have heard every word he had said up until that point, she didn’t miss, “Perhaps worst of all, every one of your classmates will remember you as the elite pilot who got shot down by an Admiral’s aide, someone who has never been a part of Tac CONN or even attended the Academy.  CO and XO of Nova squad are automatically in,” he looked sideways at Sash, who could see the mischievous glint in his eye.  Then his gaze alighted on Gant Jorae, the Trill XO of the squad.  "The other three positions will be drawn from the pool of volunteers.  Anyone wishing to put forth their names may do so electronically by 1600 hours.  Winners will be notified by 1630 hours.  Those chosen will report to the simulator at 2000 hours and the simulation will take place at 2100 hours.  Good luck, everyone!

And with that the class erupted in a flurry of activity.  Sash received several pats on the back.  Someone ruffled her green hair and she caught a glance and a nod from Jorae.  She knew exactly what that meant.  As the group filed out, Sash hung back.  “I hope I get to fly with you Kreshkova!”  Parnix, a fellow senior - one who had been attempting to (and failed) ask Sash out for over a year called out just before he exited the room. 

Jorae made his way over.  Sash glanced at the circle of pilots at the front of the classroom just as Sobral stifled a slight smile and turned back to the group who had participated in the discussion.

Let’s go,” Sash whispered.  “Best not to talk in here.  Ve could be overheard.
Lieutenant Reika Sh’laan, Assistant Chief of Operations (V3) [Show/Hide]
Ensign Sashenka Kreshkova, Unassigned Wolf Trainee [Show/Hide]

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