Obsidian Command

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Under a Rock: The All Clear

Posted on 10 Jun 2021 @ 8:49am by Commander Calliope Zahn & Commander Bruce Kensforth

Mission: M2 - Sanctuary
Location: A Shuttlebay on OC
Timeline: MD05 0600
1618 words - 3.2 OF Standard Post Measure

Sometimes he missed the simplicity of it. There were days, usually after it’d been a long while since anything of note had happened, where just sitting on the bridge of the Ardeshir was straight up torture. A knife straight to his very soul that twisted every time someone dropped a new report on his lap. There’d been a time when he’d have never, ever agreed to do anything that took him out of a fighter cockpit. He’d hung on to that for as long as he could, fought tooth and nail to stay right in the thick of it but over the years Starfleet had steadily picked away at his resolve, until finally he’d given in and came over to the dark side; the side of Starfleet he’d always hated - Command.

As much as he hated to admit it, it wasn’t as bad as he’d made it out to be. Sure, there were days where he wanted to bash his head against the nearest terminal if another Ensign asked him if he could be excused to use the bathroom. But at the same time, he loved it. He loved the feeling of being in control, but not quite responsible. That was the thing he loved about being a fighter pilot the most - the utter control of every aspect but not the responsibility that the wing commander had. Every little bit of the operations of the ship he had a hand in, from powerplant to course control. Yet - Captain Hawthorne held the ultimate responsibility. It was a place he wanted to be. Much as he thought he’d never be there, he wouldn't have traded it for the world now.

Yet there would always be a special place in his heart for small craft. Fighters, shuttles, even workbee pods. He never missed a single chance to take a flight on his own, log a few more flight hours or requalify his credentials. It was something he prided himself on. He was and always would be a pilot at heart. That’s what brought Commander Bruce Kensforth to the shuttlebay of Obsidian Command to one of the Arrow Class runabouts he’d been begging Captain Hawthorne to bring aboard. So far the Captain had refused, but it hadn’t been for lack of trying. It wasn’t that Hawthorne’s argument that he wasn’t willing to part with four standard type-9’s for it was out of line, it just wasn’t what Bruce wanted to hear. But now, with the Ardeshir in drydock for refit, the crew placed on station and settled in, there wasn’t much for him to be getting on with.

Bruce was sitting in the pilot's seat of the Arrow Class Runabout Seventeen with a data PaDD in hand and his feet up on the center console of the conn, flicking through the flight manual for the fourth time. It was an old superstition that he had to read the manual four times. Stupid, sure, especially since he knew it by heart by the third, but it was how he’d always done it and he wasn’t about to change it. Really and truly, it was a hold out of a policy his first wing commander had impressed on him and in honor of his memory, he’d never let it fade.

“So it’s not true what they say about fighter jocks. They can read.” The jibe came from a freckled Orion approaching from the boarding ramp. She had a kerchief tied over her bald head that only lent to the Orion Pirate look, and as she spoke she angled a cane in her right hand to the side for balance.

“Faster than anyone else,” he replied without missing a beat, or turning his attention from the PaDD in his hands.

“You're Commander Kensforth?”

Letting out a slow breath, he set the PaDD down and turned back to the newcomer. Hide as he might, it looked like he wasn’t getting very far away from his duty. “I am,” he replied, trying to offer a cocksure grin more akin to his normal one. “What can I do for you?”

“I’m Calliope Zahn.” She waited to see if there would be any recognition. “Doctor Walker said I should meet with you. He didn’t mention me?”

Flashing his trademark roguish grin, now that he had his head back in the game, he shook his head. “Slipped the doc’s mind,” he deadpanned. “Should I know who you are?”

It was probably best that he didn’t. Calliope refrained from further detail. He had her name. He’d look her up soon enough. “I have a bit of a mission, in-system. He said you’re a pilot with some time on your hands. It looks like you need to get out of the hangar anyway.”

He shrugged playfully, “Doctor Walker has a super-secret mission for you and you need a crack pilot?” he joked.

She wondered at his mischievous facade and his accent— not from the Australian continent? But something like it, she thought. He was by no stretch a young officer, and she wondered how much of it was a learned and ingrained act. “No. No *super* secret missions. Not yet anyway. Not from Walker.”

“Any chance it's dangerous?” he asked, smirking at the young woman.

“I promised people I’d stay out of trouble,” the Orion said, a natural spark in her own eye. “But if I’ve done my homework right, we may turn up something interesting.”

“Well,” he spun his chair back around and tossed the data PaDD on the side of the console station out of the way, “I need at least twelve hours to recertify, so, why don’t you have a seat so I can start the timer,” he winked, gesturing to the secondary station.

Bruce powered up the shuttle, shut the doors and sent his clearance request to the tower. “Don’t worry, I left the super secret details out on the flight plan,” he grinned. “Where to, skip?”

Calliope took up the co-pilot’s chair, securing the cane with a loop around the armrest, and opened up navigation, syncing it with a device on a bracelet on her arm. “Object 0994 in the outer belt. I have a theory to test.” Under her breath she added, “Assuming they let us launch.” She fully expected Mazur to have her on a no-fly list.

“We’ve got the all clear. Just waiting on our turn,” Bruce shrugged as if it was nothing. Uncertain why they’d hold them back.

“So,” Calliope decided to brief him as they waited to launch. “I’ve been going over all of the action reports, from the battle.” After her initial treatment and the worst of her recovery, she had a mountain of reading to catch up on. She’d hardly put a dent into it. “The Wasp ran across some kind of signal in the outer belt when investigating a wave fragment on the temporary sensor grid which OC had jury-rigged at the time. Some of the Fire Tigers accompanied in case they were shaking something out of a bush. Chief Isuri’s report said the signal cut out and the crew believed it to have been a countdown. The station was engaged immediately following and the signal source was forgotten in favor of flying defense, of course. They took a micro jump back into range of the station in time to engage. Which leaves us to have another look at that rock that got forgotten.”

“Right we are then, our turn’s up,” he said, powering up the thrusters and pushing off the deck. “Shady object in the outer belt, here we come,” he grinned, deftly spinning the craft and pointing them out towards the bay doors. He sighed contentedly as they entered the open space of the bay and saw the big doors wide open for them. This was home to him, back in the cockpit. It might not have been a fighter, but it was just him and open space. The way he wanted it to be. He certainly had no idea what it was that Walker had in mind for him, babysitting whoever this was in the secondary station but when had Ethan ever steered him wrong. Hell, when had Ethan ever been involved in anything more exciting than karaoke night. He navigated the runabout straight through the big bay doors convinced that there wasn’t even the slightest chance of finding trouble.

Calliope watched the bay doors open and the shuttle slip out into space around them, her neck craning upwards for the full view of the sky though the cockpit canopy. She was grateful for any view that wasn’t her fake vid screen. After a good while of marveling at how quickly the station and nearby ships fell away into the distance, Calliope exhaled, as if she’d gotten away with something. No one had recalled the runabout. Maybe she really was in the clear. It seemed too good to be true, between still having her security access and not being grounded. If it weren’t such a black mark against her, she actually thought for a moment that being loosed from her duties was something of a gift— while everyone else was busy making reports and taking orders, she was free to chase down whatever she wanted to. There was the possibility no one had thought to revoke her privileges. She certainly wasn’t going to ask about it and jinx the whole thing.


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