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Day 17 [0845 hrs.] (R)idiculous (I)nconvenient (O)rnament

[ Lt Cmdr. Jaru “Janus” Rel | Fighter Assault Bay | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @P.C. Haring  

It hadn’t even been 48 hours, and he was losing his fucking mind.

Janus had never done well with inaction. Typically, that wasn’t an issue. There were many things one could say about his life, but no one would ever describe it as boring. He’d barely been a teenager when he’d found his first war, and Janus had done his best not to slow down since. When circumstance didn’t drop him right into the thick of things, he normally found his way there on his own.

The fact that he’d been down for the count for three months was… inconvenient. That they’d replaced him during that absence made perfect sense. Janus was certain he could come to terms with all of those things, for all they left a bad taste in his mouth. But the real truth of the matter had reared it’s ugly head the moment they’d released him from sickbay. He didn’t have a job. He had absolutely nothing to do, and experience had taught him how well that would end. Last time he’d been left to his own devices for an unspecified amount of time, he’d gathered a group of equally aimless drunken pilots on shore leave and stormed a house by sea like warriors of old. Thankfully they’d managed to put the fire out before it did any real damage.

He’d been distracting himself ever since. He’d visited Ghost in house arrest to learn exactly what she’d been playing at by annoying sickbay until they fixed him. He’d pulled his Bajoran shrine out of storage and failed miserably at praying, distracted by the pain in his new fake leg that Vojona swore shouldn’t hurt. He’d gone to physical therapy for the aforementioned leg problem. He’d read logs from the past three months. And he hadn’t gone to the brig to murder Nicander for being a traitorous bastard, for all the logs made every bit of him itch to do so.

As the third day dawned, he’d found himself back in his old habitat, hoping that the fighter assault bay would provide him with something to do. If he was lucky, he’d run into Razor — where was he anyway? — so he could beg the man for a new posting. It wasn’t like he could just go back to work, his old job was taken, and he didn’t want to start some pissing match by finding a hole and filling it without giving the new boss some due difference. He was too high ranked and had been in charge for too long to not bare his throat to the new leader first.

Not long after arriving in the bay, he learned two things. One, Razor wasn’t here. Two, there were more ships in here than just the Valkyries. In lieu of the former, the latter seemed like a perfectly good distraction when he waited. “What are you?” he asked the ship with a hint of irritation as he approached. An old Peregrine boy who had been hopping each iteration of the Valkyrie for years now, he was a bit irked to see a new ship on the line when they’d finally gotten the Mk III working beautifully. Equally annoying was that he didn’t recognize it. Since the ship wasn’t likely to answer his question, Janus decided to climb up to the cockpit instead.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” he complained, making a face at the sight of the two seater configuration. “Thought we’d finally gotten rid of the dead weight.” His favorite thing about the Mk III Valkyrie was the lack of an RIO, a previous Starfleet staple that had left him longing for the shitty one man jumpers they’d used back in the Bajoran resistance. If he was being honest with himself — a mood he wasn’t in today — his problem with RIOs had nothing to do with the rear officers themselves. He’d had some truly excellent ones. It was just that they were there, like a collar around his throat, another person in the ship to be responsible for. Janus had never cared if he died or not. But he’d feel guilty about dragging someone else down with him.

His last one however, had been an absolute nightmare, steadfast in her belief that off duty hours were for sleeping, or socializing, or anything that wasn’t more flight sims. It had been a bad pairing, and his reassignment had been a relief for them both. But Janus hadn’t left without a parting gift, rewriting her job title into a more appropriate acronym, and making sure it was posted in noticeable places.

R - Ridiculous
I - Inconvenient
O - Ornament

“Prophets, I’m the RIO.” He was going to bang his head against the hull of this ship. Like he hadn’t spent enough time in sickbay already. Right now he was technically more useless, the spare fighter pilot.

OOC: You know I love you Valravn pilots and your lil NPC friends. Come fight me.

Re: Day 17 [0845 hrs.] (R)idiculous (I)nconvenient (O)rnament

Reply #1
[ Lt Reggie “Gemini” Suder | Fighter Assault Bay | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @rae‍ 

Reggie sighed as she stepped off the turbolift and made her way down the corridor to the FAB.  Today was going to suck.  By definition any day she drew a double shift sucked.  At least she was scheduled to be off duty all day tomorrow.  Wait… no… she’d agreed to walk Mr. VanVinter through exosuit training.  That would take up most of the day.  Ah well.

Today was still going to suck.

She’d instructed the computer to drop her off further away from the FAB than was absolutely necessary, but Reggie often used the walking as an opportunity to go through her to do list.  Wolf-13 needed an inspection following it’s maintenance cycle yesterday and she wanted to do some recalibration on her own Exo Suit.  The system’s TVD seemed to be lagging.  It was only off by a fraction of a second and would have been imperceptible but for her ocular implants.  The two were out of sync just enough to be distracting.  Lucky for her, the Wolves hadn’t had to scramble since she’d discovered the issue.  Reggie had already visited Sickbay to have her implants checked and re-calibrated, which left the TVD.

The doors to the FAB parted, granting Reggie access and immediately she turned her attention to Wolf-13.  There was… someone there already.  Standing on the access ramp.  She could only see the person from behind, but by the build of the body she assumed the officer was male and… what the fuck… he was banging his head on her cockpit.

“Excuse me,” she called out as she walked towards her ship.  “But just what the hell do you think you’re doing…”

He turned around at that, and Reggie saw his face for the first time.  Part Bajoran, part Cardassian.  Male.  White collar…another Wolf.  But Reggie had met all of the squadron pilots.  Then she saw the third…black pip.


Re: Day 17 [0845 hrs.] (R)idiculous (I)nconvenient (O)rnament

Reply #2
[ Lt Cmdr. Jaru “Janus” Rel | Fighter Assault Bay | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @P.C. Haring

He really did bang his head against the cockpit. In hindsight, Janus had no idea how that was supposed to help him, because now he had all the same woes plus a new headache to deal with. But at the moment, it had felt like an appropriate bit of drama. For his next trick, he was going to steal a Valkyrie and go for a joyride. That would definitely get him Razor’s attention, if the Captain didn’t kill him first. Eh, who was he kidding anyway. Like Thea would ever let him off the ship with a pirated Valkyrie.

“Excuse me,” a voice rang out from behind him. Janus groaned quietly, certain the words were directed at him. He had a good sixth sense for it, born from a bad habit of sticking his nose in places where it didn’t belong. “But just what the hell do you think you’re doing…” Besides, he was probably the only one in here messing around with someone else’s ship.

Janus turned around at that, trying to think of a response. Admittedly, it was only occurring to him now that he should be asking permission to touch anything in here. He wasn’t in charge — he wasn’t even on duty — and none of this shit was his anymore. He suspected the only reason he’d been allowed so much freedom of movement was because he’s shown up in full uniform to meet with Razor, and no one had quite figured out what to do with the random new white shirt lieutenant commander yet.

As if to prove his unspoken point, the woman added a hasty ‘sir’ to the end of her statement. Janus snorted. She’d meant it to cover her ass, but from his end, it had sufficiently broken the ice. “To be perfectly honest with you,” he replied easily, hopping back down the ramp to the deck. “There’s really no good answer to that question.”

“I’m assuming this is yours?” Now that they were on equal ground, Janus took a moment to examine her. Dark hair, dark eyes. Betazoid eyes. White undershirt that marked her as another Wolf, with two pips adorning the collar. “When did we get these and why do we have them?” Hey, if he’d found the pilot for one of these monsters, he might as well get to ask questions.

“Oh, and have you seen Razor around here anywhere? I’m going to ambush him.”

Re: Day 17 [0845 hrs.] (R)idiculous (I)nconvenient (O)rnament

Reply #3
[ Lt Reggie “Gemini” Suder | Fighter Assault Bay | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @rae‍ 

Reggie regarded the half Cardassian half Bajoran standing between her and her ship.  Like her, he wore TacCONN white and while she was still relatively new to the squad she knew enough to know that the only Lieutenant Commander in the unit was Razor and he was the SCO.  The presence of a second Lieutenant Commander  led to certain implications, though she hadn’t been advised of a new SCO or even a new addition to the unit.  This… would be interesting.

“That, Sir,” she said metering the tone of her voice to be helpful and respectful, but at the same time show him that she was going to defend her turf in the form of Wolf-13, “is in fact my ship, yes. It is one of four active AC-477 Mk I Valravn.   And with due respect, I’d prefer it if the deck crew didn’t have to pound forehead prints out of it’s hull.”

She sensed him as much as she saw him.  He was a fish out of water, leaving her with impressions of confusion, uncertainty and even…inadequacy.


She had no idea what she was dealing with yet and therefore needed to loosen up.

“As to how we got them, I’d be lying if I said I knew all the details.  I’ve only been aboard for barely three weeks.  My understanding is that they were originally assigned to the Black Wolves Squadron when they defected to and were absorbed by the Lone Wolves at the battle of Starbase 84.”

The Betazoid wasn’t sure if her answer clarified or further confused the Lieutenant Commander and the realization that they hadn’t done introductions probably only made matters worse.  So, she decided to adopt a different tack.

“Lieutenant, Reggie Suder.  Callsign ‘Gemini’,” she said as she extended her hand.  “Sir.”

Re: Day 17 [0845 hrs.] (R)idiculous (I)nconvenient (O)rnament

Reply #4
[ Lt Cmdr. Jaru “Janus” Rel | Fighter Assault Bay | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @P.C. Haring

“I know I have a hard head.” Self-deprecating humor, a solid first defense against everything. “But if I can make a dent in that thing, you guys have a serious problem.” A half grin accompanied his words, letting her know it was a joke before she dug her heels in any further. It wasn’t like Janus actually wanted the ship. She was welcome to it.

He listened during to the short explanation on the ships’ provenance, mentally linking it up with some of the logs he’d read yesterday. It had been a skim job, drawing the bigger picture out of the sheer volume of trouble the Theurgy had gotten into these past months. The fact that he’d missed these… Valravns… was only proof that he needed to go through them again, for details this time.

“Jaru Rel,” he accepted the handshake with a firm grip, making sure their eyes met before dropping the hand. “But everyone calls me Janus.” Or they did, back when people on this ship knew him. “You can relax, by the way. Until Razor shows up to give me an assignment, I’m basically playing dress-up here.” There was frustration in that statement, and it would have been obvious even if she wasn’t a betazoid. It was directed at himself, not Razor, though the SCO wasn’t helping matters with his absence. He didn’t like feeling useless, and that was exactly what he was right now. “You never told me where he was, by the way.”

Janus could have – and probably should have – provided more explanation as to what he was doing here. But to be quite honest, he wasn’t in the mood to recount his tragic recent history at the moment. Reintroducing himself to everyone was just further proof that he no longer belonged here.

Rather than stew on it anymore, he decided to vent that frustration at the most offending thing in view – the Valravn. “So, sometime in the past three months, they finally lost so many of my Valkyries that they had to replace some with these. After all that time we spent perfecting them too.” That was how it went for warp fighters during a war, especially with no supply route for replacements, but that didn’t make him any happier about it. “I thought Starfleet was phasing out the backseat drivers.”

Re: Day 17 [0845 hrs.] (R)idiculous (I)nconvenient (O)rnament

Reply #5
[ Lt Reggie “Gemini” Suder | Fighter Assault Bay | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @rae‍ 

Reggie allowed herself to relax when Janus introduced himself and told her he was still off duty.  The Betazoid had not studied all of the original crew members of the Theurgy, but she sure as hell had done her research on the past roster of the Lone Wolves squadron.  Before her stood the former SCO before he’d been injured and put into stasis…and now he was looking for the current SCO.

That… was a conversation she wanted to be far…far away from when it occurred.

“I can’t say for certain, Sir,” she replied when he asked again as to Razor’s whereabouts.  “I just came on duty myself and haven’t seen him.  I’d guess if he’s here, you’d probably find him in the SCO office.”

She made a point not to say ‘his office’.  She didn’t sense an over exaggerated sense of ego in the man.  Janus seemed more of a pragmatist than anything else which led her to believe he might not be offended if she had attributed the office as belonging to Razor.  But she still barely knew him and it was better to be safe than sorry.  She sensed his uneasiness, a sense of mis belonging a sense of uncertainty which served to remind her that no matter who he was, he was a fellow pilot… and a pilot in need.

“It has been a rough three months for the squadron, Sir.  I haven’t been here for a lot of it myself, but the wolves have taken heavy losses and need all the help they can get.”

“I wouldn’t worry too much,” she said in response to his commentary about the Valkyries.  “The Valravn program was a competing program to the Vaklyrie line and only twenty ships were ever assembled.  I can’t say for sure but the four you see here,” she motioned to wolves 13, 14, 15, and 16, “as well as one more in storage might be the last of the line.  And yes, the Mark III Valkyries did remove the RIO seat in lieu of a computerized RIO, a decision with which, I strongly disagree.”

She paused before an idea came to her.

“Hey listen, I need to take Wolf-13 out for a check ride,” she lied.  It was a white lie, one that would do no harm and maybe help give him some sense of belonging again.  “I don’t technically need a back seater for this, but if you’d care to join me before you talk to Razor, might be a good way to get your feet wet again?”

Re: Day 17 [0845 hrs.] (R)idiculous (I)nconvenient (O)rnament

Reply #6
[ Lt Cmdr. Jaru “Janus” Rel | Fighter Assault Bay | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @P.C. Haring

“Not in there, already checked.” There was a hint of frustration in his voice, though the emotion wasn’t directed at Gemini. No, he was annoyed at himself, desperate to get back to work while deliberately undercutting his own attempts to do so. Finding Razor was as simple as asking Thea where he was. Janus wanted to have the conversation here, in as official as a capacity as he could make it. Rather than actually ambush the man in a recreational area, or the quarters that had once been his. He was going to be respectful as shit, especially since everyone seemed to think he was looking for Razor to challenge him to phasers at dawn or something equally ridiculous.

Janus had spent his formative years as a resistance fighter. If he was going to kill someone, he wouldn’t be so damn loud about it.

When she mentioned the losses of the past three months, his whole expression darkened noticeably. He’d read that in the reports too, but those numbers had stuck with him. “I heard. Hence me walking in circles waiting for an assignment.” There had been names he hadn’t even recognized, pilots who had come and gone while he’d been lost to dreams. Janus should have been there. But there was nothing he could do about that now. Not for the first time, he silently cursed the officers in sickbay who had left his medical file gathering dust until Ghost had started pestering them.

“Because the Mark III Valkyries are faring so much better? This ship was the testbed for them, there can’t be that many more out there. We couldn’t fly a full squad when I was knocked out, and clearly that hasn’t improved.” Then he mentally kicked himself for falling back into old habits. “But that- is not my problem anymore.” Though spoken aloud, those words weren't meant for Gemini. He'd tell himself that until his brain figured it out.

As a distraction from that sobering thought, he decided to focus on her last comment. “That’s because you’ve never flown with one. Especially after Thea helps calibrate it. Backseaters can’t compare.” Janus threw her a look when she offered to let him ride as her RIO, bringing him back full circle to his thoughts before she’d shown up. His first thought was – embarrassingly – a solid yes, born out of desperation to fly again. Immediately after, he decided to say no. He was a fighter pilot after all, not the deadweight. Then he was leaning towards yes again, because if these ships were going to be in his squadron, he should know how they fly. And now he was berating himself for encroaching on Razor’s job – again. Janus couldn’t let go of three years of habits in two days, no matter how hard he tried.

“You’re really trying to sell me on these aren’t you?” Then his first idea won out. “Screw it, I’m in. Just have to find a suit.”

Re: Day 17 [0845 hrs.] (R)idiculous (I)nconvenient (O)rnament

Reply #7
[ Lt Reggie “Gemini” Suder | Fighter Assault Bay | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @rae‍ 

Reggie didn’t immediately react to Janus’s coment about trying to ‘sell him’ on the Valravn. Truthfully she didn’t care if he liked the ship or not. Wolf-13 was hers and it would take an order from her commanding officer to get her out that cockpit and even then only if her protests were ignored. No… now that she thought about it a bit more, she realized that the Valravyn hull might be the last she flew. She would not trust a computer to be her RIO.

The two parted ways to suit up. Reggie beat Janus back to the ship and began working up the pre-flight.

[Athen to Gemini,] her comm beeped.

Reggie sighed. She should have known that Kalil was on the ball.

“Negative, Athen. You’re all good. I’m taking her out for a quick check ride. I hope you don’t mind that I invited a new pilot to ride the back seat.”

[Who is he? I’m jealous.]

She allowed herself a smirk as she cycled through the startup sequence.

“Not sure yet to be honest. He’s a new Lieutenant Commander though I get the sense that he’s unsure of himself and his place here. He and Razor might have history since he seems to be looking for him. I’m hoping by taking him out I can help get his feet under him again.”

[Have fun, then.]

The comm closed off, leaving Reggie to her pre-flight as she waited for Janus’s return.

Re: Day 17 [0845 hrs.] (R)idiculous (I)nconvenient (O)rnament

Reply #8
[ Lt Cmdr. Jaru “Janus” Rel | Fighter Assault Bay | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @P.C. Haring

The computer did not want to give him an exosuit. Something to do with not being on the flight roster, which was both accurate and all kinds of frustrating. It acknowledged that he was qualified to wear one, but at the same time refused to cough up an extra one for him. Janus spent a bit too long arguing with it, being very careful to stick with normal computer prompts that wouldn’t attract Thea’s attention. It was a ride along. He didn’t need to be on the flight roster for a damn ride along. He briefly considered going to get a regular EVA suit, but decided against it. It was a ride along – any pilot worth their wings was going to start doing barrel rolls. He needed the G-suit.

In the end, he started pulling manual override switches beneath a locker until it opened. “Sorry Chaos,” he read the name tag aloud as he pulled it off. Appropriate name for his current mood, maybe he’d steal the callsign for a few hours too. “You won’t even know it was gone.”

A few of the deckhands noticed him coming back out suited up, but none of them decided to say anything. Probably just happy to have him gone, instead of having to deal with him haunting the deck for the rest of the day. Once back at the Valravn, he climbed the ramp and hopped in again, this time in the back. Yeah, he already wasn’t liking this.

“Cozy. All I gotta do now is start kicking the back of your seat and asking if we’re there yet.” Quips aside, he was already getting the lay of the land as it were, powering up and seeing what was available back here. While he’d been arguing with the computer, Gemini had gotten all the way through pre-flight. “Ready when you are.”

Re: Day 17 [0845 hrs.] (R)idiculous (I)nconvenient (O)rnament

Reply #9
[ Lt Reggie “Gemini” Suder | Fighter Assault Bay | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @rae‍ 

Reggie hadn’t been aware of just how much time had passed before Janus got back to her ship until he had.  She might have made some sort of half assed joke at his expense, but she felt as much as she saw his continued dour mood and as he ascended the ladder she noted the name on the exosuit  ‘chaos’.  Odd that he would chose to borrow the suit of a pilot in her own wing. 

His mood seemed to lighten a little as he settled in and reported that he was ready when she was.  But even so, she felt his brooding, sensed his uncertainty sensed…yes.  She understood now.  She too had felt lost and without purpose and it had taken quite a bit to pull her back from that abyss..  Out here, with the threat of the infested and rumors flying about a possible trip to Romulus, there was no time for coddling, especially with a Lieutenant Commander who was likely one of the last few original Lone Wolves left alive.

“I’ll be ready in just a second, want to check one last thing. Oh,” she said with a playful lilt in her voice.  “If you kick my seat again, I swear I’ll turn us right around right now and take you home,” she teased.

She made as though she were working another diagnostic, but while her left hand tapped the LCARS to elicit the appropriate beeps of the computer, she reached down with her right and re-slotted three isolenear chips.  They were too low for him to see from behind, but even so, she kept her movements subtle so as to look as casual as possible.

“All right,” she said.  “I think we’re ready.  Canopy.”

Janus confirmed he was clear of the canopy and it lowered around them, sealing as they taxied out to the launch grid.  Then after receiving the green light for flight ops, she punched it for launch, thrusting the Valravn a bit faster than was absolutely necessary, but enough that he’d feel the raw power of the craft.  Once they cleared the grid, she eased off and guided Wolf-13 into a series of softer maneuvers both to test the work the deck crew had done, and to give Janus time to get his space legs under him once more.

Re: Day 17 [0845 hrs.] (R)idiculous (I)nconvenient (O)rnament

Reply #10
[ Lt Cmdr. Jaru “Janus” Rel | Fighter Assault Bay | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @P.C. Haring

“But moooooom,” he complained, pitching his voice up and drawing the word out in an exaggerated whine. “We haven’t even left yet!” Then he dropped the affect, continuing on in a normal voice, “Unless you’re trying to get out of showing me what this thing can do, in which case, I accept your surrender.”

All joking aside, he was still fully focused on the controls, familiarizing himself with the layout and functions by habit. Prophets, it had been years since he’d been in the back of a warp fighter. Before the Mark III, back when he’d flown two seaters as standard, Janus had run practice sims in the RIO seat as part of his never-ending quest to be an expert on every aspect of his ship. He’d put his RIO in the front, a role she was equally unsuited for, in a misplaced hope that doing the other’s job would help build some camaraderie between them. Aside from some truly spectacular computer-generated deaths, nothing had come out of it.

Janus laughed as they blew out of the bay, a short sharp sound that signaled how they left his darkening mood in the dust. As he had correctly assumed earlier, no pilot worth their wings could resist showing off when there was a guest along for the ride. Still, it felt good to be flying, even if he was in the wrong seat, the rumble of the fighter’s engines in his bones.

After the initial burst, professionalism apparently won out, as Gemini slowed the ship into a series of testing maneuvers that he would have recognized even if he wasn’t watching them play out on the navigation grids and system readouts. As a commander, he would have approved of the choice. Instead, he was unemployed and slightly stir crazy, so he wished she’d gone for the spectacle.

“Board’s green back here,” he offered finally, though Gemini was probably getting the same readouts on her console. Since this was a maintenance check, he decided to be helpful. “Might want to have them once over that port thruster again,” a few taps on the console toggled the offending part, “I don’t know this ship from shit – and the system says it’s in tolerance – but it’s burning a bit more reaction mass than its counterparts for the same maneuver. Not enough to be a problem now, but it could bite you in the ass later.”

Re: Day 17 [0845 hrs.] (R)idiculous (I)nconvenient (O)rnament

Reply #11
[ Lt Reggie “Gemini” Suder | Fighter Assault Bay | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @rae‍ 

Reggie checked the port thruster readouts and confirmed what Janus had reported.

“Well shit,” she said in mock defeat. “The deck crew told me they’d done something to that thruster assembly.  Looks like it needs another calibration check.  I’ll make a note.”

It caught her off guard that she was talking aloud to him.  She’d become so used to the telepathic conduit that she and Athen had developed.

“Also, I apologize in advance if I inadvertently reach out to you telepathically.  My usual RIO is a Betazoid.  We’ve flown together since the War and we operate in each others head.”

“All right,” she said after Janus replied to her apology, “lets see what this thing can do.”

She punched Wolf-13 up to full throttle and the ship took off like a bat out of hell.  Then, without warning or preamble she cut the craft into a series of evasive maneuvers before banking to starboard, before pitching the nose up into an inversion relative to it’s previous orientation.  Reggie then brought the ship around, bringing them face to face with a seemingly inverted Theurgy as she leveled out.

Theurgy’s dorsal hull raced over their heads as they buzzed the ship traveling its length from bow to stern.  It was so close that had there not been a canopy to protect them, Reggie might have been able to reach up and touch the massive Starship.

I’ll probably catch hell for that when we land, she thought for an instant before pushing the idea out of her mind.

“All right.  Time for weapons test,” she said.  “Preparing TVD combat simulation…”

She let her voice trail off, as an idea came to mind… something to give Janus something to do other than to ride back seat.

“Hang on…”

She started working the controls, sending the ship through some herky jerky motions.

“That’s not right,” she lied.

And then she deactivated her console.

“Okay…so my console just went off-line,” she said, making sure to keep her voice calm.

Technically it was not a lie.  Her console was, in fact off-line.  But, she did leave out the convenient fact that it had been her own doing.

“The TVD program is still active,” she reported.  “It's still slaved to the pilots console.  Here,” she switched on the RIO flight controls.  “Take over for me while I get this thing back on-line.  You do remember the TVD sims, right?”

Re: Day 17 [0845 hrs.] (R)idiculous (I)nconvenient (O)rnament

Reply #12
[ Lt Cmdr. Jaru “Janus” Rel | Wolf-13 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @P.C. Haring

“You start talking in my head,” he replied, amicably as ever, “And you’re going to get a lot more than a kick in the back of the chair.” He wasn’t threatening, or even angry. It was what it was. Janus didn’t even like being in his head half the time. Uninvited guests were going to get an instinctive – and predictable – reaction. It was probably an excellent trust exercise for pilot and RIO, and he had no doubt it sped up their response times as a team. But he didn’t want any part in it.

Thankfully, she decided to punch it rather than continue that conversation, throwing in a series of maneuvers that were going to set off a whole host of proximity alarms up on the bridge. Janus imagined whoever was on duty swearing, and he chuckled at the mental picture. At least no one was jumping on coms to yell at them, though Razor might be on the receiving end of an angry message. For his part, Janus didn’t care. The perks of being freed from responsibility.

Janus wasn’t fooled for a moment at Gemini’s apparent ‘malfunction.’ No mind links needed, she was way too calm about it. The whole console going offline during a check flight? In real combat an immediate handoff was definitely the right move. But now? The deck crew should be catching hell while everyone worked to fix it.

“You’re a real soft touch, you know?” he said with a laugh, already loading the simulation into his borrowed exosuit. “Do you hand your ship over to every pathetic person you find wandering the fighter bay? Not that I mind. I am pitiful, and this is my favorite kind of charity.”

Sensing their proximity to the Theurgy, the weapons test started populating it’s simulated combatant further out than normal, sending him an order to intercept that would force them a safe distance from the ship. He took a bit longer than expected to get out there, which was going to hurt Gemini’s score, but considering that he’d never even seen a Valravn until today, Janus needed some familiarization. He’d gotten an idea of how the Valravn moved while Gemini had flown, but it was impossible to truly understand how a ship handled until he felt its reaction to his lightest touch. He repeated some of the test maneuvers from earlier, slowly, carefully, and more controlled, preferring to learn a new system rather than try anything flashy.

“And our randomly generated bogey of the day is… a Romulan. Very fitting.” Janus had decided to narrate, unsure if Gemini still had the view on her visor or not. “Wolf-13 engaging, entering effective weapons range in-” Ah, what the hell, let’s see what it can do. “Three seconds.” Then he rammed the ship forward.

His opening moves weren’t subtle. A full frontal assault, playing chicken with the Romulan fighter hurtling towards them. At the last moment, he quipped, “Omega-1,” flipped the ship over and down into a quick dive that sent them beneath their opponent, right into another flip that put the Romulan into their sights. Janus noticed a couple of things very quickly then. First, the fighter shuddered in a way he didn’t like. Were this his ship, he would have pegged it as a maintenance issue, but more likely he was the problem here, inexperienced in the craft and missing something in the handling. Second, he’d come out meters further back from the Romulan than planned, either because the Valravn was a different size than he was used to or because he’d put a bit too much thrust into the pass. Third – finally and most embarrassing – the phaser controls were somewhere different on his personal setup on the Valkyrie, and whatever he had instinctively pressed here sent an angry warning message to his display instead.

During all of this, naturally, the Romulan had throttled up and out of his sights. “Fuck,” he complained, with feeling. The whole event was over in seconds, and the single expletive was all he allowed before taking off in pursuit. “I’ll spend all day learning the quirks of this ship, but you’re going to need another maintenance tune up afterwards. Whenever you – let's say – 'figure out' how to fix your console, I won’t be insulted.”

Re: Day 17 [0845 hrs.] (R)idiculous (I)nconvenient (O)rnament

Reply #13
[ Lt Reggie “Gemini” Suder | Wolf-13 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @rae‍ 

Reggie didn’t need to be a telepath to know her thinly veiled ruse had been seen right through.  So be it.  This guy was a real head case as far as she was concerned and he needed to get out of his pity party for one.  No, she didn’t know him that well yet, nor did she know his story, nor was his story any of her business.  But if he was ever to come back on active duty there stood a chance that her life or the life of her squad mates might one day depend on him and, as he presented to her now, there was no way in hell she would be comfortable in that scenario.

She sat more or less silent as he sloppily jerked the ship through the first series of maneuvers.  He had skill.  Of that there was no doubt, but whether his shakiness was due to a lack of familiarity with the equipment or Janus needing to shake the rust off his head, she couldn’t say.  At least not yet.

Reggie caught a glimpse of his thoughts when he exclaimed and complained about the quirks of the Valravn and sensed his unfamiliarity with the Valravn control scheme.  She cursed to herself when she realized she had taken his shakiness and made him even more shaky by putting him into an unfamiliar machine.  That, she decided could be easily remedied.

“Pausing TVD Sim and resuming primary flight control” she said.  “Standby.”

A quick key on her console and the simulated targets disappeared and she took over the piloting duties for at least the next few minutes.

“I apologize, Sir.  I shouldn’t have thrown you in the fire like that.  I thought a jolt might help you get back into the saddle, but I didn’t consider your lack of familiarity with this ship.”

Reggie paused, to allow for his reply before continuing.  “That said, I’m not letting you off the hook that easily.”

With a quick sequence into her console she re-set the backseat consoles to more accurately resemble the displays of a Valkyrie.  It was not a perfect representation of course owning to the difference in both size and shape of the physical displays between the two craft.  But at the very least things were in more or less the position that Janus would anticipate seeing them.

She then spent the next fifteen minutes or so in her flight instructor mindset going over the ins and outs of the Valravn fighter focusing mostly on the performance differences between her craft and the Valkyrie.  She took care to keep her instruction as objective as possible and omit any editorializing she might do regarding the eternal debate among the wolves as to which was the superior craft.  Her intention for this flight was to familiarize Janus with the equipment and get his pilots wings back on his back… not to sway his opinion of the craft one way or the other.  After her orientation…she hated the term ‘crash course’ for certain, obvious reasons…she passed control of the craft back to him.

“Okay, your turn.  Fly.”

Re: Day 17 [0845 hrs.] (R)idiculous (I)nconvenient (O)rnament

Reply #14
[ Lt Cmdr. Jaru “Janus” Rel | Wolf-13 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @P.C. Haring

“Sorry for what?” he countered, interrupting so quickly that his words intermingled with her explanation. Janus had to bite his tongue to keep from interjecting again, trying to be polite and not demand control of the ship back. He loved a challenge. He’d happily trap her in here for the next sixteen hours while he figured out all the little quirks of this ship. And then come back and do it again tomorrow if they let him. As much as she’d irked him, there was a reason his final RIO had hated his guts. He’d worked them both to the bone, and no one appreciated that when there wasn’t a war on.

This was what he got for trying to learn from his mistakes – Gemini thought he was giving up. Nothing annoyed him more than that.

The console before him flickered and switched to a near approximation of a Valkyrie control system. Janus took one look and switched it back. If he wanted to fly a Valkyrie, he’d go con a pity flight off a Valkyrie pilot next. If these fighters were going to be in his squadron – even though it wasn’t his squadron, dammit -- he’d rather know how the Valravn actually worked. The real issue with this little outing of theirs was that neither of them was here for the right reason. Janus kept falling back into the years old mindset of the squadron commander he longer was. Gemini was trying to make him feel better, but solving that problem wasn’t in her power.

“You know,” he began once she was finished, deciding that a little honestly was probably the key here, “Just because I’m a walking cloud of frustration and woe-is-me and whatever else you’re getting,” Fucking telepaths, “doesn’t mean it has anything to do with you. This is the most fun I’ve had in days. I don’t like being in administrative limbo. The computer wouldn’t even give me an exosuit – I stole this one – and I’ve been rated on these things since they were introduced. Once Razor pops out of whatever hole he’s in and gives me an assignment, I’ll be good as gold. I just want something to do. That simple.”

“Restarting TVD simulation.” The Romulan had gotten a good distance away after he’d let it escape and before Gemini had paused it, so he set a pursuit course then they were off to the races. Janus had made sure to look up where weapons control was during her lesson, so at least he wasn’t going to repeat that again.

Once in weapons range, they got right back into their dogfight, flipping and diving and trying to line up shots on each other. For his part, Janus wasn’t trying to kill it anymore, preferring to let the simulated opponent live longer so he could keep testing the Valravn’s reactions. He was improving on his first go around, often repeating the same maneuver multiple times to test small variations on it, reciting the attack pattern each time out of habit. There were still rough patches, jerks and shudders and painful pauses as he found the right motions. But at least he wasn’t going to kill them. Unless they had created another whole new class of fighter in the past few months, Janus has flown every warp fighter Starfleet had rolled out. This one, like all the others, was just a matter of being given time to work out the kinks.

Eventually he decided it was time to end it, and the whole thing was over in a few seconds of ruthless efficiency. Janus let the Romulan get behind him, giving it a perfect shot before throwing the Valravn hard to the side and slowing down enough to the Romulan blew right past them, then speeding up again to put a micro torpedo right up it’s ass. "You see another one? Really low probability of this sim just putting up one."

“How did a flight instructor end up here anyway? You’ve got the tone down.”

Re: Day 17 [0845 hrs.] (R)idiculous (I)nconvenient (O)rnament

Reply #15
[ Lt Reggie “Gemini” Suder | Wolf-13 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @rae‍ 

Reggie did not offer a immediate answer to anything Rel said.  She found herself oddly enjoying Rel teach himself how to fly the Valravn.  He wasn’t wrong about what she was sensing from him, but even so she took care to not project anything into him.  He’d asked her to stay out and she would damn well respect it.

Still, she was growing a bit tired of his pity party and while she respected that he was dealing with something, she didn’t need him acting like a wobbly nugget once he got behind the stick. 

“Thats good,” she finally answered just before he re-started the TVD.  “Because, with due respect, sir, I’m not in this cockpit to wipe your nose and clean your ass when you make a mess.  I’m here to kick your ass back into shape.  If you’re going back on active duty, there’s a chance that the lives of any of the fifteen other pilots, myself included, could rest in your skill and confidence.”

She let that sit for a moment before twisting the proverbial blade.

“So show me some.”

And so he did.  Once the TVD restarted Janus seemed like a new person.  It didn’t take a telepath to sense his focus.  As an instructor she had been jostled around her fair share of training craft as she rode back seat or side seat for a cadet, but as Janus took her plane for a ride, she had never found a flight she was not piloting more exhilarating and as he maneuvered, even though he chose not to take advantage of obvious moments to take his kill shot, she found herself slipping back into her instructor role offering encouragement as he became smoother and more proficient by the second.  She played her part as well, acting as RIO and calling target range and distance, adjusting the ship’s systems as he requested and making sure she had his back.

Finally he came about, pulled Wolf-13 into a hard one eighty and unleashed hell on the simulated fighter leaving it to explode in a flash.

The Betazoid saw two more fighters on sensors when Janus asked about additional targets, but before she could report, he then asked about her flight instructor history.  Damn he was perceptive.  She put the sim on pause again.

“That, Sir, is a long story.  The short version is that I was an instructor at Tac-Conn Omega before coming to the Theurgy.  There was an incident during a test flight and I was,” she paused as she felt her throat clench and her voice crack, “forced to shoot down one of my cadets who had turned against us.”

She let that sit for a moment, to see if Janus would interrupt her.  He had the good sense not to.

“The aftermath of the incident left the station all but destroyed.  The survivors were picked up by another ship sympathetic to the Theurgy’s cause, and I voluntarily transferred to the Wolves.”

For as much as it still hurt, she felt better telling him, though she wondered if he would permit her to remain in the unit.  Afterall, if Razor was looking to bench someone to put Janus back in a cockpit, Reggie might have just painted a target on her back.

Re: Day 17 [0845 hrs.] (R)idiculous (I)nconvenient (O)rnament

Reply #16
[ Lt Cmdr. Jaru “Janus” Rel | Wolf-13 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @P.C. Haring

Well, that would explain what a bunch of tacconn pilots were doing on the Oneida. He’d noted the transfers while he’d been going through the Theurgy’s records yesterday, but it hadn’t mentioned how they’d all ended up there in the first place. Iroquois Class ships weren’t designed to staff fighter squadrons.

“It happens,” he said finally, after giving her time to ensure she’d said all she needed to say. The words were quiet, but steady. For a moment he was an ensign again, in a different simulation, working himself to near madness to master disabling maquis fighters without killing them. It wasn’t the same, but it was the closest reference Janus had, remembering how it felt to fight someone who wasn’t the enemy. And it did happen, when someone made it through the psych tests when they really shouldn’t have, made it out to space when they should have stayed home, and eventually it festered and drove them mad. At least on a starship, it was pretty easy to knock them out, keep them sedated, and drop them at the nearest starbase. But when someone lost it alone in a fighter? That was a different story.

“You had to do it to get the rest of them out. I get it.” Janus had always been careful to give his pilots an outlet, giving them space to blow off steam with pranks and jokes and other bits of harmless chaos, all in an environment he could control. It also helped him judge mental states before sending anyone out in their small, personal warships. “That’s the kind of decision they put you in charge to make.”

For what it was worth, Janus wasn’t making judgements. He hadn’t been there. He hadn’t seen the reports, read a com log, or seen any post combat navigational or sensor logs. But honestly, it didn’t really matter. Gemini didn’t seem particularly blood thirsty, the Oneida had let her come here, and Razor had accepted her. She said she’d been forced to, so fine, she’d been forced to. He was much more interested in making sure that she didn’t hesitate the next time she had to shoot someone down.

Besides, why would he target her when the crew roster indicated that there was an empty spot in one of the Valkyrie flights? Gemini wasn’t a bad RIO, but the fact that he was taking an impromptu lesson didn’t mean he wanted to fly one of these fucking things permanently.

“Alright Professor,” he said, tone making it clear that he was changing the subject back to something lighter. As he spoke, Janus tapped the console, transferring flight control back. “Your turn. And before you start on whatever truly inspirational, ‘don’t give up, you asshole’ speech you’re cooking right now, it is helpful to watch you do a combat run, especially now that I have an idea of how this thing moves. Gives me ideas. So go kill one.”

“Also, we’re in flight, so you can drop the sir and just use my callsign.”

Re: Day 17 [0845 hrs.] (R)idiculous (I)nconvenient (O)rnament

Reply #17
[ Lt Reggie “Gemini” Suder | Wolf-13 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @rae‍ 

For a moment Reggie was back there; back at Tac-CONN Omega, watching the engines of her student’s training craft; burning from the damage they had sustained from Reggie’s own friendly fire, fire she had delivered to save her other students from a pilot who had lost his grip on reality and suffered a psychotic break.  His craft careened out of control, away from her students and straight into…

Her attack killed so many more than she was trying to save.

She heard Janus in her com his words slowly pulling her back to the moment and giving her the needed leverage to push that disaster down and she, not for the first time, wondered what it would take to make peace with that incident and be able to move on.

“…you asshole’ speech you’re cooking right now, it is helpful to watch you do a combat…”

The Betazoid’s mind locked in when he called her an asshole, only for her to realize he wasn’t actually calling her one.  He wanted to see her perform.  Oh she would perform.  She would kick his ass.  Maybe then, she might be able to put it out of her mind for a bit.

“Hold on to your neck ridges, Janus.”

She triggered another TVD simulation and watched as three holographic target bouys appeared to launch from Theurgy


She cut to starboard  and fell in behind the formation of targets.  Her target locked immediately she pulled the trigger on the phasers.  Her shot hit home and the number three target disappeared.

Predictably the remaining two split off, one arcing to port, the other to starboard.  Tactically her best option was to stay on the target which required the least amount of course correction to pursue.  Instead, she cut hard to port a harsh, sharp maneuver that might have been ill advised, but did well to show off just how sharply the Valravn could maneuver.

She executed a wingover roll as she maneuvered, and settled into position, the nose of Wolf-13 gently leading the target before she launched a simulated torpedo.  Target 2 cut hard to port as expected, but Reggie was already there, her phaser beams cutting through the simulated engines.

Target 2 disappeared.

The engagement only lasted a handful of second, but in breaking for Target 2, Reggie had left herself open for Target 1 to swing around and settle in behind her.  She did not need to check her sensors, nor did she need telepathic contact with her Rio or the enemy pilot.

Without a wingman in the sky with her, it would take more to lose the target.  She cut hard towards Theurgy, weaving between the nacelles before cutting hard under the ventral hull.  The maneuver opened enough of a gap and she fired the RCS, flipping her ship in a hard 180 and opened fire, wiping Target 3 from the simulation.

She flipped Wolf-13 around again, resuming a ‘forward’ direction along her current course vector.

“What do you think, Janus?”

Re: Day 17 [0845 hrs.] (R)idiculous (I)nconvenient (O)rnament

Reply #18
[ Lt Cmdr. Jaru “Janus” Rel | Wolf-13 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @P.C. Haring
“Hold on to your neck ridges, Janus.”

Personally, he wouldn’t have minded if the fucking things just fell off. Or flew off, or got cut off in some ‘tragic,’ ‘unavoidable’ accident. It was a deep, well entrenched dislike that would undoubtedly feel different to the Betazoid than the other aspects of his pity party, with a hint of genuine annoyance thrown in as well. His neck ridges were nowhere near as prominent as a full blooded Cardassian's, but even that little bit had never mixed well with Starfleet’s love of high, starched collars. Just thinking about it made his neck itch under the exosuit.

Ah well, at least he’d gotten Gemini back into a good headspace. No telepathic powers needed, it was clear from how she slipped into action with the practiced ease of a pilot thoroughly trained on this ship. A pilot who was showing off really, but that was to be expected, given the circumstances. He would have been more worried if she hadn't tried.

For his part, Janus did exactly what he'd said, switching his console yet again into a trainer’s setup that would show him an echo of every input as she made it, comparing her actions to the Valravn's reactions. Normally, this view was for a trainer instead of the trainee - cubs learned better by doing than watching - but he'd gotten more use out of it later in life, experienced enough to see Gemini's split second choices and how he could alter them to his own flight style.

For a few seconds, he let himself close his eyes and truly feel it, the rapidly changing forces of gravity that no inertial dampeners could ever keep up with.

He wasn't entirely sure why he cared so much. Sticking to his original assumption, there was no logical reason why Razor wouldn't assign him back to a Valkyrie, a ship he's been flying since before some of the younger pilots had ever gotten their wings. No reason to learn anything about the Valravns beyond boredom and a desire for something to do, even if he was wasting Gemini's time by mucking with her maintenance flight. He was still irked to have found this two seater abomination in the fighter bay at all, considering the years he'd spent turning the Mk III Valkyries into a force to be reckoned with.

When she asked him what he thought, Janus didn’t quite think it through before answering “Excellent flying, precise, assured. Certainly gave me some ideas. But since this is also a combat sim - don't use Thea's nacelles as cover. If you're engaged this close to the mothership, there are better places to lead it that will give bridge tactical a clear shot to skewer the thing. If Thea isn't able to take her own potshots, you want to keep it away from the drive systems. The simulation is only marking you as an enemy, but any living pilot with half a brain is going to forget about you for a chance to take out the bigger ship's warp.”

Belatedly realizing that he was probably out of line - did he have the right to lecture anyone about tactics right now? - Janus continued in a lighter tone. “Ops, or worse, an engineer, will be on coms yelling at you before you ever make it back to the fighter bay. They don't look like much, but have you ever noticed how fucking creative they get when they're pissed?”

Re: Day 17 [0845 hrs.] (R)idiculous (I)nconvenient (O)rnament

Reply #19
[ Lt Reggie “Gemini” Suder | Wolf-13 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @rae‍ 

Reggie chuckled at the unexpected critique of her battle strategy.  She was a little miffed by the feedback on her own tactics when she had been expecting a more directed evaluation of the ship.  Even so, Janus had a point but it also had a flaw in the evaluation.

“Fair point, Janus,” Reggie replied.  “That said, had this been an actual combat engagement, Thea’s shields would have been up, and neither the target nor I would be that close as we would have been inside her shield perimeter.”

She paused and collected herself before she got to snippy with Janus. 

“Really, though.  It’s a good point.  I have to admit I wanted to show off the maneuverability.”

The front seat pilot took a look at her check ride checklist.  Everything was in order, and she had her punch list for Liam’s deck team.  Aside from that, the vibe she was reading from Janus was a lot less depressed than it had been when they’d suited up.  She was not reading him directly, but she didn’t have to in order get the sense of him.

“Well,” she said, “That wraps up my check ride.  I’m ready to head back to the den, but if you want to stay out and play a little longer?”

“I think I've wasted enough of your time. We're out here for the maintenance check, not flight school. Besides that, I still have to find Razor, and I don't think he's in here, unless you're hiding yet another chair in this thing.”

His mood seemed better than when they’d started, but the comment about ‘wasting her time’ bothered her.  The check ride might be done, but it was obvious that he’d need more work which, of course meant she was not done with him.

“Sounds good, Janus. Welcome back to the fold.  I’m excited to see you get back into the cockpit and I look forward to flying with you.”

She brought the ship around and began to line up for her approach.

“Now go find Razor, and get your wings back.  But first,”

She cut off abruptly as she switched the primary flight control to the back seat.

“Land the damned plane….sir.”

OOC:  Thanks to @rae‍ for contributing Janus's line.

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