Liberation of Gemini - Castor Oil [WCGS MUSH]


Foreward: The Wing Commander Gemini Sector MUSH was a Multi-User Shard Habitat set aboard the Bengal Class Strike Carrier TCS Majestic in the year 2657. Seeking to break the stalemate, the Kilrathi launched a surprise offensive through the edge of Terran-controlled space in Gemini Sector. A tenacious counteroffensive has blunted the Kilrathi assault. This MUSH featured both a tough struggle with a massive Kilrathi force in front and a morass of corruption and piracy behind.

While the story interactions weren't persistent, most clients used to access the server come with logging systems. The roleplaying sessions were usually taken from these logs and posted to the MUSH-related wiki. While these logs have remained online thus far, the age of these wiki sites has left me concerned that the host will disappear. So I am posting these logs here as a story. I also think that these logs will prove interesting for some here.

Just an addendum/warning: Due to the nature of MUSHs, characters will often disappear from the story and commonly will not return. In addition, given how these sessions were recorded, logs will often be missing especially during the beginning period. Log recording improved later on.

Each log will be placed into a single post with each thread focused upon each System visited.
Date: 2657.313
Location: The Temple
Designed to house sixteen officers in some minimum of space and privacy, this is the barracks for the 221st Fighter Squadron. Bunk alcoves and locker banks alternate along the walls, with privacy screens for the bunks retracting in front of the lockers when not in use. The bunk alcoves themselves are perhaps two and a half meters long and a meter deep, certainly not an arrangement for the claustrophobic. In the center of the room, a pair of sofas and a pair of chairs have been secured to the floor around a small table. A small hallway off to the rear of the room leads to a small bathroom and communal shower, while a door to port opens into a small private stateroom for the squadron commander.

Xiang looks like she's just recently come off duty, as she's still in her uniform dress. Sans boots, which have been deposited neatly in her bunk. She's digging around in that particular bunk at the moment, as if looking for something, though her privacy screen is open.

A handful of other squadronites recently relieved from duty trickle into berthings, making their noise where they go. Aquilina has a heavy duffel over his shoulder and a cigarette trailing smoke back through the hatchway, leaving a 'footprint' of acrid gray. As he approaches his own bunk, which already has some of his things jammed into it, he glances over his shoulder at the woman rooting through her things. Pilot's luck, the glance will catch her backside.

Xiang is digging around in her bunk in search of some object or other. She's still in her duty uniform, sans boots, so she's probably just come off for the day. Aquilina, and whatever part her anatomy he might be looking at, is not immediately noticed. "Where in the hell…?" she mutters to herself absently, bending down for better rooting. She finally finds her quarry, stuffed under her mattress. It's a thick book on flight tactics. Something of a letdown probably, given the effort she was putting into her search.

And just like that, a moment later, the scene repeats itself. Korsakov strides into the barracks, one duffel on his back, another in his hand, and a burning cigarette bobbing lightly on his lips. He pauses, surveying the room quickly before heading over to one unoccupied alcove, off in the corner away from the door and not far from the head. Perfect. Kor tosses his bags roughly down on the bunk, not paying the room's occupants any mind for the moment.

Thump. The duffel lands on Alex's bunk. As loudly as a duffel can possibly land on a bunk. He reaches across the mattress for the ashtray already there, holding some old butts from earlier in the day or last night. Smoke's blown off towards the wall and he nods towards the book that tried to flee. "That the one on evasive maneuvers?" Ash flicked into tray. He can see someone else moving around over there, sort of, but not their face.

It's the faint scent of smoke that makes Xiang look up, nose faintly wrinkled. But it's apparently common enough in the bunks that she restrains herself from commenting on it. She looks up at Aquilina, nodding. "That would be the one, yes. I want to review O'Dell's write-up on evasive techniques." She admits, somewhat ruefully, "The sims kicked my ass this afternoon." Kor and his abuse of his bag make her look in that direction. The captain's presence makes her stand up a little straighter.

Xiang's words draw a quick glance from Korsakov, just in time to notice the female pilot stiffen slightly at his presence. His lithic facial expression cracks slightly as he chuckles under his breath. "It's not a srany parade ground, Lieutenant. Stand at ease." Max turns back to the bunk and his discarded duffels. "I'm just moving in."

"O'Dell had such a hard-on for chaff techniques you'd think he had a deployer shoved up his ass," Alex replies, flicking ash off the cigarette again. About to say something else, he's distracted by her straightening up for a superior. Which he doesn't mirror. Especially not after hearing that particular voice, which makes him wave smoke away from his eyes and squint in that direction. "What the fuck? Max?"

Xiang relaxes. Actually leaning against the wall of her bunk, to be extra-at-ease. "Yes, sir," she says to Korsakov. She chuckles at Aquilina's words. "He does get tunnel vision in places but his views on evasive flight patterns are worth a look…" She might have more to say but trails off, shifting a look between the men.

With Xiang's response, Korsakov gives a slight nod and turns back to his bunk. He stiffens, though, as he hears a voice behind him. He turns around to regard the second speaker, and his eyebrows fly up as he stares at Aquilina, his cigarette burning placidly all the while. "Alex," he says finally, his brow furrowing in surprise. "You bourgeois son of a bitch." His tone is sharp, but there's no real venom there, only surprised musing.

Aquilina smirks at the greeting. "Come on, Princess, that's no way to say hello. I haven't fucked the proletariat in years, pinky swear." Likewise, there's not a shred of malice. He's even grinning a tad, for what the expression is worth on his face. "I didn't know you were here. Hell, I didn't know you even passed flight school." A glance at the pips. "…Cap."

And in through the hatch with boots thunking is a shorter, more estrogen-laden colleague of the new arrival. "You know Max… I was -trying- to ask that nice Lieutenant about the location of the-" The words are a mix of different untracable accents that probably have a mishmash of eastern european origins. Her soprano stops short when she looks up, though. Dark eyes glance between the other two occupants with a quirked brow. "Good evening. I think. What time is it on this boat?" The bags over her shoulders look heavy but she doesn't seem to be in any hurry to throw them anyplace, either.

"I take it you two know each other?" Xiang asks Aquilina and Kor both. Somewhat wryly. Their acquaintance is obvious. "What's all this about fucking the proletariat?" She manages to make the word 'fucking' sound almost prim. Almost. There's a hint of dry humor in her tone. Though the arrival of Markovic makes her blink again. "Well. Welcome to the Illuminati. Everyone."
Melia saunters into the Temple, looks rather surprised at the amount of people gathered here. She's dressed in combat bottoms, and her tank tip her own boots sounding loud on the decking. "Hiya kids." She drawls, apple half way to her lips, she takes a huge bite, then leans against the door eyeing up the new arrivals or would that be sizing them up.

Korsakov's stony facade finally shatters completely, and he utters a growly laugh in Aquilina's direction. "Sharp as ever, eh?" Korsakov's accent, for its part, is total St. Petersburg. "Yes. I passed. Somehow." A small, sarcastic smirk accompanies a heavy Slavic shrug. His reunion, however, is interrupted as Markovic comes up behind him. "Try to keep up, Dejana," he admonishes the other pilot softly as he starts pulling things out of his bags. "Old joke," he replies tersely to Xiang a moment later. There's a quick look from Aquilina to Markovic before he continues his multifaceted conversation. What a multitasker. "I thought I was leaving Earth behind. Seems half the people I know followed me out here."

A few seconds later, Korsakov stiffens at the sound of a new voice. Curiously, he turns to look, and frowns slightly, advancing towards the entrance. "Kids?" He raises a bushy eyebrow at Melia; there's no visible rank on the woman's outfit, but she looks like a marine, not a pilot. Curious. "You are?"

"I didn't follow you anywhere." Alex turns to put his back against the bunk edge, leaning back against it. "Conspiracy, that's what this shit is." He seems to remember the rest of the room now, partly recovered from some covered shock, brushing the side of his thumb past his nose with a head motion at Xiang that might mean 'sorry', or something. "Old days. Long story, he wore the dress." His pale eyes flick to the hatchway and the two other arrivals.

"Kiss my ass, Maxim." Markovich nods once to Xiang. "Many thanks, Lieutenant. Been here long, yourself?" The blonde finally moves herself past the hatchway and over towards the bunks. One of the empty ones gets a quick sniff from her and a one-shoulder shrug. One after the other, her flight bag and personals get tossed up onto the top bunk near Xiang's. Baggage tossed, she extends a hand to Xiang. "Captain Dejana Markovic." Her voice is quiet, friendly. With the call from the hatch, she stops and casts an expectant look to Melia.

Xiang turns her eyes to Melia. A polite nod is offered to the Marine, though those eyes also narrow a touch. Puzzled. "Lance Corporal." Her tone is cordial. Rather formal, but it's hard to tell if that's habitual for her or anything in particular aimed at Melia. "Is there…something you're looking for in our bunks?" She looks down at her stocking feet, as if just remembering she's not 'fully' dressed, though otherwise she's still in her duty uniform. In her confusion, she's thrown off introducing herself just yet.

Melia takes another bite of the apple. "Who are any of us." She says with a mithless smile. "I mean we all ask, who am I, what am I doing here. What is the meaning of my existance." She's being very thoughtful for a marine, as all eyes turn on her she pauses her lips and gives another grin. "Oh pardan me." She finally says to Xiang. "I just needed something from the CO's bunk." She says pointingto Picketts room off the main area. "And I came to meet all you fresh new people, I was hoping for rookies." she sighs suffering. "They are so easy to get a raise out of…Alass I'm Melia Yama, Lance Corporal, Platoon's Engineer." She seems rather proud of this.

"Not a good omen if the CO's sending around crewman like fetchit monkeys, is it." Aquilina's lips pull back from teeth in a smirked grin. "Least I hope you're not just going around shoplifting, cause last I heard that was still illegal." He drags a drag off the cigarette, ash drifting idly to the floor unnoticed.

"Lance Corporal Yama." Korsakov's thick accent deepens as he stops somewhere near the marine. The cigarette is removed from his mouth so he can speak clearly. "I am Captain Maxim Korsakov. I am to be executive officer of Illuminati squadron." His head moves slightly in Xiang's direction; clearly, it's meant just as much as an introduction for the room at large. Those that don't know him already, anyway. "I would remind you that the 'rookies' you speak of are pilots — and officers, Corporal." His eyes narrow. "And I can assure you that you do not want to… 'get a rise'… out of me." Korsakov flicks his wrist, and ash tumbles to the floor. "Your presence here is not unwelcome, and I certainly won't interfere if you are doing something for the CO. But…" At this point, he fixes his eyes on hers, going for her full attention. "If you — or anyone else, for that matter — disrespects my pilots to my face again, I will skin them alive." His head tilts to one side, and his tone softens. Lecture over. "Am I understood?"

"Too Nietzschian for me," Markovic sighs, shaking her head. "What are they teaching Marines these days, Maxim?" Her faux-depression drawing the words into the dramatic as she looks to the other Captain. "Next thing you know they will be shoving the 'God is Dead, so kill as many as you like' mantra down their throats. Unhealthy, I tell you. Unhealthy." Her accent only plays to the mock-serious tone she carries. But Maxim is on an enlisted gettin' his hide-chomp on so the blonde falls silent in his direction. Her good humor seems to fade towards something a little sour before she looks to Xiang again. "Anyway. Hello."

"He doesn't…usually," Xiang is quick to defend her CO to Aquilina, though Melia's presence obviously still puzzles her. "Well, all right then, Lance Corporal. And I'll make certain to inform Major Pickett you came by his bunk." She seems reluctant to take it any further than that, as there are higher ranking pilots in the room. She appears to like Korsakov's words, however. Though it's difficult to tell. She keeps her expression carefully schooled. "Oh. Hello, sir." Xiang's tone is rather abashed as she turns to Markovic. "I apologize for my rudeness but I was…distracted." She stands up a notch straighter. "First Lieutenant Xiang Jia, sir. Welcome aboard."

Melia goes to look over towards Aquilina, her smile deepening just slightly. "Oh trust me I don't fetch and carry for the Major, that's what you guys are for." She gives a low chuckle, then turns serious as the Captain Korsakov starts to address her. An elegant brow is lifted and her slightly Asian eyes widen a little as he goes on, she tilts her head to the side giving him her ear, before she aha and nods her head. "Your giving me a lecture." She says, going to look all business like. "Your'll have to excuse me sir." She says. "Dumb marine, took a minute to register." She says giving him a hopless look. "I see, I see, right." She says at the right intervals "No sir, of course sir…And Sir I'd like to see you try and skin me sir" She says, with just a hint of smugness in her tone. She looks towards the others. "They teach us how to get your asses off a rock and from behid enermy lines, remember that next time you get your asses shot down, with respect sirs. Now I aint giving the best inpression here, but get use to see me around here." She shoots Xiang a smile. "You do that sir!" She adds. "Now if you guys, need anything let me know, I aint into all this pilots Vs Marine shit, we're all fighting the same war, so you need anything let me know I've been on this pile of bolts since she got refitted a few years ago, so I know her well."

Aquilina is looking more amused by the milisecond at the 'conflict', if one can call it that. It only manifests in a smirk and then he's back to his cigarette, looking over at Markovic and flicking a two-fingered salute that way. Then to Xiang, who's actually closer that loud-voice distance, he nods. "Xiang, you said? Alex Aquilina, 1st Lieutenant." He offers the hand that isn't holding a cigarette. Which is his left, but whatever.

"I don't have to do anything on your say-so, Corporal." Korsakov's 'officer voice' is back, and he rewards Melia's cheek with a deep scowl. Yeah, there were other people talking to him, but he's sort of distracted at the moment, obviously. "You are not on a planet, and you are not behind enemy lines. You. Are. In. My. Barracks." His accent continues to thicken as he speaks. "As such. You will keep a civil and respectful tongue in your head while you are here. Or I will remove it. So, again. Am I understood, Corporal?" A craggy brow lifts skyward. "I strongly suggest that the next words from your mouth are 'Yes sir' and we can leave it at that."

Dejana taps a pair of fingers lazily to her brow, lips quirking into a quick smile with Xiang's greeting. She falls quiet again, waiting for Melia to finish. She has her own sort of bemused expression. Eyes flick between the two as they discuss the matter of an enlisted having open access to an officer's quarters. She decides its not her fight and cuts a quick smile to Aquilina and Xiang. "So where are you two from? And do either of you know if this ship is wet?" AKA: Can we have booze here?! If she's listening in on Korsakov getting his anger on anymore, she doesn't seem to pay much attention.

Xiang stares at Melia. Her own Asian eyes are very wide and puzzled at all of that. She takes a deep breath, lets it out slowly, and leaves the Marine to be handled by her superiors. Her expression is tight with disapproval, however. But she smooth it as she turns back to Aquilina. "Pleasure," she says, still rather formal, but she smiles slightly at him. She reaches out and clasps his hand, grip firm by brief. "Yes. You can call me Jia if you like. Verdict is my call sign, but we aren't on duty at the moment." The call sign is admitted in a rueful sort of way. To Markovic she replies with a faint smirk, "The First and Last serves as our 'bar' of sorts, sir. I can show you where it is later, if you like. I've been posted here about three months. I was on space station recon duty prior to that." She makes every effort not to look at the dressing down Kors is giving Melia, though she's undoubtedly listening to it.

Melia seems to consider this for a moment, as she looks towards the CO's room and items she's needing from there they'll learn soon enough… "For the sake of the Major, I'm going to have to be cival, so yeah I can give you a Yes sir." She says then looks towards the others, she flickers her eyes to Dejana. "Bar is open and has usual stock of stuff, just make sure your sober for duty…We have a card game every wednesday also, feel free to drop by." She says her eyes going to turn back to the Captain, waiting for his next comments.

For the moment, Melia's acquiescence is mollification enough for Korsakov, and he nods curtly, his eyes still narrowed to slits. Stubborn as hell he may be, he just doesn't have the energy to continue any further. "Very well, Corporal. That will do. For now. Carry on." There's warning in his tone, but for the moment, he's done. The cigarette comes back up to his lips. "Thank you for the invitation," he adds in that gravelly voice a moment later.

"A bar, on this bucket? Good for them, finally figured out Russians can't fly for shit when they're sober," Aquilina smirks and shakes Xiang's hand, likewise brief before it's withdrawn. "Alex, if you want. 'Torch'." His callsign also goes unexplained, as he glances at Korsakov with a smirk and then back to Markovic. "TCS Orlando. Also known as the TCS Marlboro because it smoked so damn much. Didn't catch your name, sir."

Markovic nods in approval to Xiang, a single nod for Melia and she looks back to the aznpilot. "Everyone calls me Needles." She pronounces it 'Neeeduhls' with that accent. "Just finished a tour of duty via the Naval Academy with the Captain over my shoulder. We used to teach fighter weapons up at Saint Johns." There's a big smile on her face at Alex's remarks about Russians. "You, my young friend, are wise beyond your years. Captain Dejana Markovic." A hand extends to him, then.

Melia goes to wonder off towards Picketts, bunk she's in there for a few minutes noises can be heard and swearing. She's lost something, a few minutes later she return going back to the group at large. "Welcome onboard btw the Major is on a CAP I'm sure he'll want to meet you all when he gets back." She checks her watch. "In about an hour."

"Did the two of you also serve together previously?" Xiang asks Aquilina. "You and the Captain there, I mean." Her question is accompanied by a respectful nod in Korsakov's direction.

At Alex's comment about Russians, Korsakov merely rolls his eyes and mutters something in said language under his breath. It sounds at least vaguely insulting, though the words aren't quite audible. He nods to Melia as she reemerges from the Major's quarters. "Thank you, Corporal," he says cordially, almost as if their little spat hadn't happened. "I look forward to it." With that, he turns away from his bunk, advancing towards the other pilots. Unpacking will just have to wait for now.

"Knew him a long time ago," Alex answers Xiang, simply enough. "Before he knew what a uniform was. God, they grow up so fast." He wipes the tip fo his pinky by the outer corner of his right eye. Then to Markovic, "Good to meet you, sir. Going to be doing any training up here?" To the departing Melia he nods.

Melia debates weather or not to hang around seeing her first impression was perhaps not the best, she gives em all a little one handed waves. "I'm off down to the First and Last, for a few rounds of pool, if anyone want to join me feel free." She says.
Markovic nods to Melia. "Thank you, Lance Corporal. We look forward to meeting this Major as well." There's some unspoken question that she looks like she has, but leaves it alone for now. Her attention falls back towards Alex and the question posed towards him. "Yes, I noticed some banter there when I shoved myself through the hatch." Her arm lifts and hangs off the edge of her bunk. There's a flickered wave to Melia and that's about it. To Alex: "Nyet. I think my days of changing diapers and wiping snot are over. For now. Back to the combat for me, personally."

Xiang inclines her head shortly to Melia as she goes, her attention on the pilots. Korsakov, in particular. "Pardon me, sir, I don't believe we've been properly introduced. I'm First Lieutenant Xiang Jia and you're very welcome aboard the Majestic." She clearly approves of her new superior.

Korsakov accepts Xiang's hand with a slight smile. "Spasebo. Captain Maxim Stepanovich Korsakov, callsign Hammer." He nods to the other pilot. "Pleased to meet you." There's a sidelong glance at Dejana, and Korsakov snorts in agreement. "It's good to be back with a combat squadron, I will say."

Melia leaves, heading towards the TCSF Officers [O].
Melia has left.

"You sure that's what you're with, Max?" Aquilina asks Korsakov. His pale eyes have followed Melia out the door, turning a bit chillier once she's gone. "Because - and pardon me, sir…" That goes to Markovic, first. "…-but that's no shit I've ever seen before that didn't end with someone taking a serious timeout."

Markovic seems content to let them exchange courtesies with her own input. With the XO's sidelong look, she cuts the man a quick wink shared between friends. With Alex's words there is a soft snort and shake of her head. "If you want to offend my sensibilities, Mister Torch, it will take more than cold words." There's a smile as the words roll off her tounge. She looks to Max for his thoughts, though.

"My callsign is Verdict, sir," Xiang informs Korsakov with that same mild touch of wryness. "But we're out of the cockpit now, so you don't have to call me that." Really. You don't have to. She makes that very clear. His hand is clasped briefly, firmly and dropped. Her dark eyes follow Melia out of the room, smile fading from her face. "I do thank you for dealing with that, Captain. But I do feel I must make you aware of…that is…" She trails off, lips twisting and nose wrinkling as she seems to search for a way to put…whatever she's trying to put into words. Or she just smells something icky.

Korsakov sighs heavily, shaking his head. "I don't know what just happened," he says to Alex. "But I do know that someone is going to have a major problem if it happens again." Max frowns. "I do not enjoy repeating myself." A browraise is directed at Xiang. "Verdict?" he asks curiously. The question is left aside, though, as she continues, and that craggy eyebrow creeps up once more. "Speak freely, Lieutenant. When we're off duty, I expect all of my pilots to do so."

Aquilina pauses at Xiang's hesitation. Wait for it. He snorts quietly, asking in an unserious tone as he ashes the dying cigarette. "What, is she fucking the CO?" He didn't mean that. Really he didn't.

Locke arrives from the TCSF Officers.
Locke has arrived.

Markovic is the pillar of strength. Nothing phases her. Evar. So when Alex mentions fucking the CO, she snickers. "Oh, Lord-" she crosses herself quickly "-say it is not so. Not in combat. Max, you remember when Lieutenant Commander Forrester back at Saint Johns got caught plowing that ejection seat tech? The E-2?" She begins laughing some more, head shaking. The last few words might be hard to understand through the accent and her oh-so-serious giggles.

Xiang takes a deep breath. "I haven't been here long, sir, and I'm not one for gossip, so I can't to the specificities of their…relationship…" She clears her throat delicately at Aquilina's little input. A shrug. That's not how she was going to put, it clearly, but it's not so much disputed. "…I've noticed the Lance Corporal spends a great deal of time in Major Pickett's bunk." It's just kind of put out there as an observation. He can draw whatever conclusions he likes from it. She tries, very hard, not to smirk at Mark's story. But she fails.

Stepping into the room silently as he always prefers to do, the spook continues his rounds, getting intimate with the interior design layout of the ship. After all, if he was blinded for some odd reason, he should be able to navigate the ship without sight and by sound, and knowing the distance between doorways is always a good start. The scared face man makes no notice of the converstations being had by the pilots. He stands near the door way taking in the sight of the room.

"Bozhe moi." Korsakov snorts derisively, taking a pull from his cigarette as he nods to Markovic. "Da, I remember. They tossed him off the flightline so fast, he still has the skidmarks." There's another weary-sounding sigh. "I will not stick my nose into my CO's business on my first day aboard. If there is something illicit going on between them…" He shrugs. "… someone will find out sooner or later. Those types of relationships do not end well." Engrossed in the conversation and facing away from the hatch, there's no indication Korsakov notices Locke's entrance.

Aquilina eyes Xiang for a while after she comes out with that. His eyes shift to Markovic, then Kors, then back to Xiang, then upwards. To the ceiling he asks, loudly. "What, is she going to walk back in with a million dollars with my name on it?" Pause. He looks at the door and spots…! Locke. Disappointedly, "Shit."

Markovic's smile deepens with Korsakov's remarks about the commander. "True, but damn it was funny. He was so mad when those photos appeared on the internet? Then the Navy couldn't ignore it. The endless mileage of jokes at his expense would make the best comedian cry." As the other Captain's mood turns more serious, she allows the smile to fade away and there is a simple nod. "Wise choice, my friend." Alex's dissapointed use of Code Brown gets a glance from Dejana. "Something we can do for you, sir?" she calls to the man in the doorway.

Xiang nods to Korsakov. "That seems prudent, sir," she says simply. She doesn't immediately notice Locke's entrance, either. He's quiet, and her attention is on the other pilots. When Markovic draws her attention to him, however, she glances in that direction. "Oh, Lieutenant Commander. Good evening, sir. Is there something we can do for you?"

Fresh out of post-mission debriefing, Pickett wanders his way along into his squadron's bunkroom, taking a little glance around as he makes his way through the door. Whether it's in search of new faces, or missing ones, that he doesn't seem to be telling. "Evening, Illuminati" he greets the squadron simply.

Korsakov nods to Xiang, but says nothing else on the subject. Another harsh chuckle erupts from his lips, this time to Markovic. "Remember Lieutenant Chen? The little pizda had enough jokes to make a comedy routine." At the sound of a 'sir' being directed to someone new, Korsakov turns away from Dejana and starts as he sees Locke standing there. He straightens slightly, offering Locke a nod. "Commander." The taciturn Russian pilot offers nothing past that, though, as yet another person arrives. Korsakov puts out his cigarette before he approaches the major. "Major Pickett. I am Captain Korsakov." The squadron's recently arrived XO - very recently, if the partially unpacked duffels on his bunk are any indication - extends his hand.

"'Shit' actually means 'Commander, sir' back home," Aquilina throws that out to Locke, dead serious. He gives Locke a two-fingered salute that hovers between casual and not, then glances at Xiang, and then finally at Pickett. Another one. "Evening." Kors seems to know who the man is, and a glance at tags and pips confirms. "Major."

Markovic watches the LTCMDR walk the room with some mild interest, not bothering to hide the stares at his face for the first few moments. After that, her gaze falls away and settles on Korsakov with a soft shrug of her shoulders. She never gets to his comment about Chen because hey! The Major is here! She straightens her posture, folding her hands behind her back. "Evening, sir." She's standing beside a top bunk that has two bags marked 'Markovic' on it. Apparently she's arrived with or close behind Korsakov.

Xiang makes a soft "Ah" sound and nods to Locke. "I've been here three months and I can't say I know half this ship so well as I should, sir. I assume Intelligence has a better eye for that sort of thing than I do, though." Her own posture straightens at Pickett's entrance and she inclines her head to him respectful. "Good evening, Major."

Turning his head as Aquilina explains his comment, seeing the two finger salute, he replies with, "Lieutenant, it has been my experience when someone says the word, shit. They are doing one thing, and that one thing is shitting their pants because a Kilrathi special forces unit was waiting for them before they were slaughtered like pigs." Returning the salute, except he uses his remaining 3 digits, all except his right ring finger which is missing all together. Locke continues to walk the room, as he has made it to the other end and is walking back towards the door on the opposite side, returning his attention to the room.

"Full of good cheer, aren't you commander?" Pickett replies, before he points towards the floor, indicating the deck below. "I beleive you'll find the naval berths are in that direction, since you seem to be slightly misplaced." That done, his attention turns towards the Captain who'd just spoken to him. "Pleasure to meet you, Captain" Pickett replies, reaching out to shake the offered hand quickly, but firmly. "I take it you lot are the replacements they've been promising us for god knows how long?"

"They say language is ever-evolving, sir," Aquilina replies to Locke, giving him a half-grin that kind of curls his lip. Back to Pickett he looks, finally putting out the dreg of a cigarette he had left. "Looks like it, sir. 1st Lieutenant Alejandro Aquilina, "Torch", TCS Orlando."

Korsakov nods. "Captain Markovic and I just transferred in from the Fighter Weapons School in Nova Scotia." There's a Look directed over at Alex. "And like a… bad penny? Aquilina over there always seems to turn up." Max smirks slightly at the lieutenant in question before turning back to Pickett. "I am glad to be back in a combat squadron, Major, and I believe the same goes for Captain Markovic."

The blonde woman standing quietly finally makes herself known when her name is mentioned by Korsakov. "Major, Captain Korsakov speaks well for my thoughts on the matter." Her thin lips curl at the edges into a smile. The voice is halfway between serious and cordial. But she says nothing else for the moment, eyes remaining on the other Captain or the Major.

Attemping to give the Major a friendly smile Locke says, "Indeed I am, but not by accident." his kilrathi accented voice states. At last he makes it back to the start of the room. Before he leaves he turns around and says, "Oh…and Lieutenant." refering to Aquilina, "I will see you later." Hopefully that will confuse him a bit, after all,what fun is it if you can't bullshit.

Xiang stands rather quietly in the background while Pickett gets to know the new-comers. The interplay between Locke and Aquilina makes her brows arch. She extends a curious look with Aquilina. To what does /that/ portend?

"The novelty wears off quickly, I assure you" Pickett replies to Korsakov with a slight chuckle. "But, I'm sure you'll discover that for yourselves soon enough" Pickett replies. "While I've got you all here, I suppose I might as well save you the individual meetings and just give you the basic welcome speech"

"Did you just call me cheap, asshole?" Aquilina asks Korsakov, without a hint of actual malice. Speech time, for which he folds his arms comfortably to watch Pickett. Though not before he catches that from Locke. See…? Bugger. "I'll wear my frilly things, sir."

Max's brow furrows slightly at Pickett's first remark. "You'd be surprised, sir," he states flatly in that Russian burr of his. "After three years of dealing with cadets, I very much want to shoot something with live rounds." He casts a mockingly supercilious glance down his nose at Aquilina before turning back to Pickett and giving the major his attention.

Locke grins, "Oh, you will not need that." His face hardens and eyes Aquilina, oh yes…the fun he would have torturing freshmeat. Locke then proceeds to turn around and leave the room.

Locke leaves, heading towards the TCSF Officers [O].
Locke has left.

She inhales as if she's on the verge of saying something, but backs away from it. Markovic is decidedly the silent type for now. Her hands remain folded behind her back while the Major indicates he'll be saying a few words.

"Right. Here's the deal." Pickett explains. "I know every squadron operates a little differently, so I just want to make sure we're on the same page. I am not one of those officers you see attached to a regulations manual. The law of the land around here is that if you do your job, I will take care of you." Pickett explains, before adding in a slightly less cheerful tone "And if you don't do your job, I will take care of you." Pausing for a moment there, he continues, the smile returning to his face. "After all, New Detroit does always need escort pilots for transports of radioactive waste, or so I'm told…"

Xiang deposits her flight manual back in her bunk, as it's clear she's not going to get to it for awhile. She still keeps quiet, listening to Pickett's intro speech with a faint smile.
Aquilina eyes Locke's back, but then his attention's back on Pickett. Another cigarette's fished from his front pocket and stuck behind his ear as he listens, one foot braced back against his bunk rung.

Korsakov nods along with Pickett's words. He seems to like what he's hearing well enough. "There won't be a need for that, sir, not if I have anything to do with it," he replies resolutely in response to the latter bit.

Markovic? She's impassive. For all her face betrays right now, she could have just heard a weather report.

"And if anyone's uncertain as to just what 'your job' consists of, I'll direct you to the table" Pickett adds with a wicked little grin, pointing towards the table in the center of the room crafted from Kilrathi durasteel. "And, that's about it, really. Since I'm sure you've all got things you'd rather do than stand around and listen to some asshole Major talk at you for hours. Welcome to the Illuminati."

Xiang sits down in her bunk, but only long enough to put her boots on again. Then she's up, bunk closed, and steps away from it. "If you sirs will excuse me, there are a couple of things I need to see to. But welcome again. Very glad to have all of you aboard."

Aquilina glances at the table, then smirks at Pickett's signoff. To that he even lifts a real salute. "Sir." It's dropped sharply, then he lifts his chin upwards at Xiang. "Catch you later, Jia."

Korsakov inclines his head to the Major once more. "Thank you, sir." A small smile to Xiang. "And you, Lieutenant." With that, he's moving back to his newly staked out claim, and returns to his previous task of unpacking. Fun.

Dejana nods to the end of the Majors words and finally allows a smile. She moves a few feet to him and extends her hand. "Pleasure to be aboard so far, sir." That voice is a mishmash of eastern european accents. "I'm not your XO, but let me know if you need anything." She's all business for the moment, but the lines on her face indicate she's probably prone to quite a few laughs in the day-to-day. There's a nod to the departing Xiang, too. "Good to meet you, Lieutenant."

Pickett reaches out to shake the offered hand. "Pleasure to meet you, Captain" Pickett replies to Markovic. "And I'll make sure to do just that. Though for the moment, I'm content with being able to stand up and stretch out. Nothing quite like six hours in a stiletto cockpit to make you appreciate being able to move around"

Xiang inclines her head to Aquilina. "Alex," she replies kind, to show she's retained his given name as well. "Sirs." And off she goes.

Xiang leaves, heading towards the TCSF Officers [O].
Xiang has left.

Aquilina retrieves the cigarette from behind his ear once Xiang flits off, lighting it with the lowest setting of his low-tech plastic lighter. A pretty bright purple lighter with a flower on it, to make the act that much more devoid of dignity. It's tucked away and he holds the cigarette behind his teeth as he yanks out some personal belongings from his own duffel. "Major, they got a library or anything to read on this bucket?"

As Max starts shoving t-shirts and uniforms and such onto hangers and into his locker, he pauses to light a cigarette. Nicotine flow safely in place, he's back to work, though Korsakov's head does incline at Alex's question, and he pauses long enough to look to Pickett for the answer.
The blonde Captain allows a smirk. "Amen to that, Major." Both hands are pocketed into her uniform. "I used to have a ritual of kicking the skids every time I got out to help get the blood flowing once more. Get the feeling back in my legs, and all." There's a quick shake of her head. "But yes, you know where to find me. When should Korsakov and I expect to be put on the rotation roster?"

"There's a small one on deck eight, I believe" Pickett replies to Aqualina. "If there's something that's a particular interest to you, you might want to bring it up next time we're at New Constantinople or Oxford." That answer given, his attention turns towards the blonde. "And I'd take the evening to get some rest. War starts for you tomorrow" Pickett comments. "No point in putting off the inevitable. I'll try and rotate assignments so I have a chance to fly with you all before long, and learn how you operate"

"Will do, sir." Alex looks a lot brighter about all this at the thought of books. Awwwyeah. Smoke curls up thickly towards the ceiling as he pulls the cigarette out of his mouth and exhales upwards. "Looking forward to it."

"I hope there's some Chekhov or Dostoevsky," Korsakov mutters as he finishes putting shirts away. "Military types have little appreciation for proper literature." The rest of his clothes will wait for now, it seems, as he takes a few steps back to the major. "As Captain Markovic said, sir, I am completely at your disposal. Then, as I am the XO, I would not expect anything else." He smiles crookedly.

"It is just round two for me, sir. Been there, done that. They did not allow us positions at Saint Johns because we have parents with connections." If Markovic even -has- parents. Its dubious. Her inflection seems to flirt with the idea that she may have dealt with enough of those people for her liking, though. The Captain moves away and back towards her bunk and makes a quick move to jump onto hers. The larger sack is reached for. She nods a few times with the Major's intent to fly with each of them. With Kors' remarks about the reading material, she gives a soft laugh. "What? You haven't read The Brothers Karimazov or Crime and Punishment to your satisfaction? Didn't they push enough of that down your throat back in the Rodina?"

"Afraid I've little time for literature myself" Pickett admits. "Though if anyone's looking for a copy of 'Forged in Fire: The Yan War and the forming of the Terran Confederation' I'll be happy to loan out my copy once I'm finished with it" Pickett explains, before he adds "Though I suppose you might find it a little dry." Looking to Korsakov, he tells his XO "And we'll go over what I'll need from you in more detail once you've had a chance to settle in"

"Solzhenitsyn, Tolstoy, Krasnikov, Filenko… any proper author will do," Korsakov says mildly over to Markovic. A stream of smoke filters through his lips as he meets Pickett's eyes. "Of course, sir," he acknowledges.

Aquilina hauls his empty duffel up and heads for his locker. A couple clangs later and the bag's shoved inside without much ceremony, door shut and locked behind it. He might've done some of that clanging with obnoxious loudness while Korsakov was talking, but it's hard to gauge. "Will keep an eye out for that roster, sir."

"That's a shame, sir. Never have any time to wax philosophical? Read some Voltaire or Plato? I will even meet you half way with I Ching or Sun Tzu." So the little eastern european does know how to get playful. But she nearly rolls her eyes at Korsakov. "Please, Max. You need to broaden your horizons, my friend. Think outside the frosty bun of Mat Rooskiya."

"If you'd like culture, how's this grab you?" Pickett comments, looking thoughtful for a moment as if trying to recall something, before remembering and reciting "No proposition Euclid wrote, No formulae the text-books know, Will turn the bullet from your coat, Or ward the tulwar's downward blow. Strike hard who cares — shoot straight who can — The odds are on the cheaper man." An amused little grin offered at the end of it, he concludes. "I suppose I prefer to keep my readings more… grounded in my profession"

"Kipling, isn't it?" Korsakov asks, nose crinkling as he tries to remember the quote. "No appreciation for the warrior-poet, eh?" He smirks. "But then, I am not terribly kulturniy myself. I stick with what I know… when I have time to read at all."

"Think Euclid and textbooks are useless in war, sir?" Aquilina replies, as he comes back over to his bunk near the others. A slight smirk. "Tell that to Oppenheimer." He sits down on the edge of the bunk, ashing his cigarette. "Max, you still don't have a thing in your library that isn't cyrillic? I'll find you something to read. Granted it might be Marquez, but that's the way I roll."

"Well that is sort of keeping with Voltaire's thinking, sir. He was the one who said 'God is not on the side of the big battalions but on the side of those who shoot the best.' Sun Tzu said similar things in The Art of War. There's some that don't think either one are applicable in this century but I would wager the weights of Voltaire and Sun Tzu on the course of history more than any other two individuals with published thought. Truly the power of the pen - or in Master Sun's case, the brush." Apparently the Captain has done her homework. She's busy pulling personal stuff out of her sack while she speaks: a small purple pillow, a rubber-banded stack of photos, a legal ped, other personal junk. She does look up to Alex, though. "But Oppenheimer's discoveries and work, arguably, had such an effect on the private sector that one could almost say it brought more peace than anything. Many of the Cold Warriors of the twentieth century would say theories of destruction prevented many more deaths."

"It is" Pickett confirms to Korsakov. "Arithmetic on the Frontier" he further clarifies, before he gives a little chuckle. "And it would seem just my luck to end up alone in a squadron of intellectuals" he notes with amusement. "Someone at personnel apparently has a sense of humor"

"There are certain truths of war that remain the same, no matter the century," Korsakov chimes in. "Voltaire, Clausewitz, Sun Tzu, they realized this. Tactics and technology come and go, yet their ideas endure to this day." His shoulders roll in a Slavic shrug. "That alone would seem to validate their concepts well enough." More clothes come out of the duffel, and Max finally tosses the empty bag aside.

"You could say just about any scientific development brings peace, ultimately," Aquilina gestures at Markovic with one finger. "If one can claim to weigh the deaths of 100,000 people against a boost to the private sector in any way shape or form. But that's too too far into the human capital debate for this hour. And this sobriety level." He drags off the cigarette, exhaling and giving Pickett an upwards nod and a smirked grin. "If you weren't in hell before, right?"

Markovic shrugs. "Clausewitz was good, but I think he took too much away from Immanuel Kant. Its sort of like polluting the mind with too many ideas once you get forward in the march of history. Back to basics, for me. Plato, Aristotle, the others mentioned. But I completely agree, Alexandrovna." She removes a few of her own clothes from the bottom of the sack, discreetly disposing of a few items behind her for the moment. Alex gets a quick laugh. "Mister Wise Beyond Years, you are on. I will have this discussion. You will perish. I'll even supply some of the booze." Oh yes, she's serious. Putting her own bag aside, she reaches for her other bag and looks to Pickett. "Bah. It is the luxury of junior officers to debate military philosophy and strategy, but the weight of the application falls on the staff level, aye sir?"

"Something along that line" Pickett replies, giving a little grin. "For the most part, they just keep me around to make Kilrathi women into widows." He admits honestly. "Well, and occasionally pretend that my job is reconaissance, of course" he adds, almost as an afterthought.

Korsakov snorts. "You read too much, I think, Dejana." He looks to Pickett with an amused grunt. "Stilettos are shit for reconnaissance, anyway, sir. I prefer the former, personally." Max smirks. "That is, after all, the whole reason we're here, when you cut to the heart of the matter."

"You will undoubtedly make me your bitch /ad vitam aeternam/, sir," Alex informs Markovic. "But I can't say I don't find the idea oddly titillating. Fine, soak me in liquor and light me aflame with merry wit, but none of that fucking vodka." Cigarette's ashed again, and just to bury Culture Talk Time in that deeper of a coffin, he belches softly. "What's the last engagement this boat was in, Major?"

Markovic laughs, sticking up her middle finger. "Poshol na khui, Maxim." She even blows him a kiss afterwards. "You are the one talking about finding good literature. Don't complain because I found something fun outside Tolstoy." Her grin is positively evil. To Alex: "Alright. Matches, grain alcohol, and discussion. I'll even bring a pen to explain things on napkins." There's a curt nod before looking back to the Major in expectant response.

"They might be shit, but they're what we've got. Expect to spend a fair bit of time sitting on your ass flying through the official middle of nowhere" Pickett replies. "And the last major engagement was at New Constantinople. We'd been laid up repairing for a while, since we managed to stop three torpedoes. They'd had us running a few patrols into Perry, just to probe the defenses there… but with all the jumps we've been making lately, I think it's safe to say we'll be seeing more action than just testing the defenses shortly"

"K' chyortu, Dejana," Korsakov says the Russian phrase all too pleasantly for it to be anything polite. A smirk spreads across his lips as he goes back to work on his cigarette and his unpacking. "I remember the drill, sir," he replies to Pickett. "I haven't been out of the cockpit that long, myself."

Aquilina checks his watch during the talking, listening otherwise. He nods to Pickett and stands back up, stretching out his back. "Looking forward to that too." He makes a tip of an imaginary hat to Markovic. "Sir. I'll see you at the bottom of a bottle soon." The same hand is then put out in front Korsakov. "And Max. Good to see you again, fucker."

"Been there, Max. Its called Belarus. Two weeks of my life I will never get back." Yep, she's serious. She looks like she might be about to break into story - again - but falls short. She holds up a finger, though. "Another time. Horrible. It involves a friend of mine, her pet weasel, and a very large hairy man named Borislav. Remind me over beers." Dejana + Beers = Storytime!! An equation for life. She doesn't seem too interested in the commenting on operations, though. Likely she has her own ideas but those are hidden away for now. She taps two finger towards Alex.

"Well, I'll be grateful they didn't send me someone who's most recent flight qual was an armor-plated desk, then" Pickett replies to Korsakov with a little grin. "At any rate, if you all will excuse me… I think I'm going to hit the fitness center, and enjoy being able to do something more than sit motionless for a while"

"And you, you govniuk," Korsakov replies to Alex, returning the handshake with a grin. Another pull from the cigarette, and it goes the way of its brother minutes before. "Fucking Belarus," Max replies with a sigh and a knowing shake of the head. "I'll hold you to that, though," he responds to the promise of storytime. Pickett's grin recieves an answering smirk of his own, and then he's back to his bunk. "I'm going to take the major's advice and get some rest," he announces as he clears the last of the loose junk off his rack, and shoves the duffel back in his locker. He'll finish unpacking tomorrow, it seems. "You know where to find me," he finishes dryly as he crawls into bed.
Date: 2657.314
Observation Lounge
Located at the furthest point forward of the ship, this small room has been converted into a small observation lounge. Markings on the floor and walls still technically designate the room to be 'Cargo Area CF-1' but its designated purpose seems to have fallen by the wayside. A pair of small tables rest here, surrounded by four leather chairs. A number of holomags lay scattered across the tables, and a large vidscreen is mounted on the portside bulkhead. The fore bulkhead is entirely clearsteel, providing an uninterrupted view into space from this furthest point forward on the ship. The lighting has been dimmed here to provide a serene atmosphere, a place away from the bustle of the rest of the ship. Even if that tranquility is interrupted by the occasional rumble of a fighter landing on the recovery deck above.

It's getting on later into what amounts to the 'evening.' If such a thing exists on a space ship. There's a crewmember here and there but the lounge is sparsely populated tonight. Xiang is one of its occupants, though. She's seated in one of the leather chairs, a heavy and technical-looking book open in her lap, skimming over the pages and occasionally sipping at a cup of coffee. Her hair is down, which is about as 'casual dress' as she seems to get.

Circadian rhythms be damned. There is evening if one declares it, and apparently Alex is in the same mode, carrying something small and wrapped in clear plastic in the crook of his arm as he heads onto the observation deck. Along with some kind of book, though it's a thin one and very bendy. And a mug. This takes up the total of his armpower, especially as the mug appears to be steaming.

Xiang's attention on her book doesn't seem that deep. Her eyes flit up to the window on occasion, a slim frown on her face. While her glance is upturned, Aquilina is spotted. "Alex." He receives a slight smile and nod of her head in recognition.

"Jia." Alex dumps down everything he was carrying onto a table. Including the mug, which sloshes hot water over the rim and dots the faux wood with droplets. "Too loud in the bunks, or just couldn't stand the smell?"

"I've gotten used to the smell," Xiang replies with a trace of dry humor. She takes a drink of her coffee before replying to the actual question. "Too loud? I suppose that's it. I need a break from my bunkmates now and then." She adds quickly, realizing how that may sound, "No offense meant. I just mean it's not much on quiet. And I do enjoy the view here." Dark eyes rove back to the expanse of space outside.

Aquilina pulls a little white square out of his front shirt pocket, tearing the top off. A teabag, the string of which he uncoils before dunking it into the hot water. "The view /is/ better here than in berthings most of the time, I'd agree. Just don't say that in front of the squadron. You know how fragile egos are."

"Delicate creatures, fighter pilots," Xiang replies with a slight chuckle. The tea bag is eyed with some interest. "That's a better idea than mine. Coffee keeps me alert, but I haven't learned to love the stuff." She pauses a moment, regarding him, before asking, "Are you all right? With the patrol the other day and all." And the ball of fire his ship narrowly avoided turning into.

"I can't stand coffee. It makes my skin crawl." Alex licks his thumb as it ends up in tea water, then rubs his hands together like someone preparing to feast on the finest beef, looking back over at her. "Yesterday? Oh yes, I'm fine. I can't say the same about my controls or how healthy I will be after deck tracks me down, but I'm quite alright. What about you? They did have it out for you near the end, there."

<FS3> Locke rolls Stealth: Good Success.

Slipping into the dark room quietly, the Spook enters, sticking to the shadows of the dimmly lit room.

"It's an acquired taste," Xiang says. Though, from the nursing speed of her sipping, she hasn't acquired a deep affection for it. "It got me through some all-nighters at university, at least. Coffee is utlitarian. Tea is a pleasure. And it's hard to find really good tea aboard ship." She nods at his answer, then shrugs at the question. "Fine. My hull took a beating, and I don't think I've made any friends among the greasemonkeys for the state I brought the ship back in, but it looked worse than it was. I was lucky, I think." She's sitting in one of the chairs, talking with Aquilina. Otherwise the lounge is sparsely populated tonight. Locke's entrance is not noted by her, stealthy bloke that he is.

"The average cup of well-brewed tea is comparable in caffeine to the average cup of coffee," Alex points out, raising an index finger. "Coffee is simply masochism in a cup." He hasn't noticed Locke either, sneaky bastard that the intel officer is. The mild humour dissipates as the conversation roots more strongly in the events of last night. "Well, good. Someone had mentioned you might have been injured. I wasn't sure."

Sticking in the shadows he takes the room into view, spotting Aquilina…he grins…he decides to give him hopefully the scare of a lifetime. He comes up behind Aquilina and proceeds to say in Kilrathi, "Ah ha! I told you I would be seeing you again." as he places his left hand on his shoulder. But does he scare Aquilina? Only one way to find out!

"Everything's attached," Xiang says with a slight grin, holding up her fingers. As if to demonstrate she's still in possession of all her digits. The attempt at a joke is short-lived, though. Her underlying manner is serious. She seems about to say more. But then the spook attempts to spook Aquilina. She still doesn't notice Locke until he speaks, but she wasn't the target of his spooking, so she just blinks in surprised.

Aquilina had tea in hand. A nice, big cup of steaming tea, which in an instant is no longer 'big'. But it is still steaming, and with … "Fucking wanker!"…interjected into the split second as he literally jumps about two feet up and away from the chair, a good bit of it splashes all over him. And probably Locke too. That's /really/ hot.

With his scared faced stretching he grins, and in his usual kilrathi accent voice, he repeats what he said, though only in english, "Ah ha! I told you I'd be seeing you again." The grin on Locke's face doesn't betray that he was splashed with hot tea, quite the opposite, his grin gets bigger…in fact, one would wonder if he had any nerve endings left in his body after his enslavement. "Sit down, you look like you just deficated yourself." with that he gives a slight chuckle.

Xiang is almost more startled by Aquilina's reaction than Locke's sudden appearance. She intakes a breath sharply, jolting back in her chair. Her coffee, fortunately, is sitting safely on the table and out of her hands. The beauty of drink apathy. "Wang ba…!" she gasps. She clears her throat, regaining her composure. "Ahem. Lieutenant Commander Locke. Um. Hello." It's the only response she can really come up with. She winces as Aquilina's spilled, hot, tea. "You quite all right, Alex?"

"Fine, Jia." Alex looks down at his soaking wet (steaming) shirt, picking at the dampness with his fingertips, then gives Locke a cranky look. "Fucking with a man's teatime. You desperately need a hobby, sir." The cup's set down, near empty as it is. "And I need a towel. That was rather exciting."

Locke still grinning, he walk around and says, "Good evening Lieutenant. "Looking to Xiang," and then looking at the other Lieutenant, "Perhaps this will help." outof no where he pulls a small towel out of no where and tosses it to Aquilina. "And how are you to fine officers of the Terran Confederation doing this evening?"

"A bit startled, sir, if you don't mind my saying so," Xiang replies to Locke. She reaches into her own pockets, perhaps in search of a handkerchief, but Locke's towel looks handier than whatever she's packing. "I'm well enough otherwise."

"I am a little wet, thanks," Aquilina eyes the towel as Locke produces it, and smirks as he takes it. "Is your name Katayev or Ford Prefect? I am not sure I dare ask why you're really going round carrying a towel."

Leaning in close to Aquilina, "If i told you I'd have to kill you…" with all seriousness returning to his face as he says it. "Or you can think that i'm just psychic. Doesn't matter to me." as he says that last sentence, he turns to look at Xiang and winks as in, he's really joking…or is he?

Xiang's lips curve upward into a slight smirk, which she exchanges with Aquilina and Locke both. "Perhaps he does this often," she suggests dryly. "And how are you, sir? I hope there's nothing suspect lurking in the dark corners of the lounge." It's half a joke. Half not. With the intel officer about, one can't be sure.

Aquilina just snorts, going about drying his shirt off. He glances up and at the PA box from under his brows as someone goes on about…pie. "Right, then. Your department up there, sir? The pride must be staggering." He smirks at Locke and waves out the towel and drapes it over the back of his chair, mopping the bit of tea that sprayed there too. It got all over.

Shrugging off Aquilina's comment he sits down in a chair with out being asked, "Perhaps, you can show me how to jump that high…that extra height might come in handy." Locke noticed the pie announcement…its all going according to plan with the commander. "You know, I hear someone on this ship makes a pretty good fudge pie with ice cream…in fact he serves it warm with a scope of vanilla ice cream covered in chocolate syrup and chocolate flakes." he looks to the two pilots, "Doesn't that sound good, no?"

Xiang also looks all of puzzlement at the chatter over the comm. "Pie?" It's murmured more to herself than anyone else. Not so much a question to them as to the universe in general for clarity. Which does not appear to be forthcoming. Ahem. "Indeed it does, sir." Xiang can't help but agree to approval of chocolate pie. "I must admit I haven't had occasion to try it myself yet."

Aquilina is about to say something about the jumping, perhaps, but the conversation staying on the pie has him giving both of them a wary look. He picks up his mug, glancing into the tea left at the bottom - not much, and settles in to drink it anyhow. "Sounds lovely," he replies, in that manner of someone who hasn't the slightest idea. "And as though someone passed Bribery 201 at uni."

Locke nodding his head in approval, "Perhaps…if I went to a university…but where I came from, there was not a university for a mere human to attend." Thinking about his pies again, he goes, "I do like pie."

"I skipped that one, I think. Sophomore year was enough of a bitch without extra electives," Xiang quips in reply to Aquilina. Though she looks somewhat abashed about her uni joking when she hears Locke's reply. No more collegiate jokes from her. Ahem. "The cooks on this ship do seem quite competent. Much better than my last posting. I swear, some of what was served on that station made me long for gruel."

Aquilina doesn't look the least bit abashed. But then again he doesn't exactly have a face well-suited for the expression. "I can't complain. What was the story about Aphrodite's son?" He sips his tea, resting one elbow up on the back of his chair. "They were sitting under the branches of a tall tree Aeneas, Ascanius, and the rest of his band. Serving food on loaves of bread. Then " The stiletto pilot quotes from memory. "When the poor fare drove them to set their teeth into the thin discs, the rest being eaten, and to break the fateful circles of bread boldly with hands and jaws, not sparing the quartered cakes, Iulus, jokingly, said no more than: Ha! Are we eating the tables too?"

Xiang tilts her head as she listens to Aquilina's digression into mythology. Her brows arch. That's a surprise. Not an unpleasant one, though, judging by her expression. "A devotee of the ancient Greeks, Lieutenant Aquilina?"

Aquilina scared off Locke with that one. Or the man just had pie to get back to, who knows. "An elective, I guess you could say," his clipped accent replies, and with a slight smirk pulling at one corner of his mouth. "Are you a fan of it?"

Xiang shrugs. "It's familiar. I /did/ take that class at uni. Greek and Roman Mythology, that is. It helped make the Latin a bit less dry. I must admit I was never very partial to it. Zeus spent a bit too much time turning into animals and buggering mortal women for me to take him seriously as the mythological lord of the universe. I'll put my money on Nuwa over him any day."

"Zeus is one of the duller of the pantheon, I must say," Aquilina replies, shaking his head. "But I do have to hand it to the Greeks, they made deities with flaws who could be just as much of a prat as the next man."

"Maybe, but some of them aren't particularly respectable," Xiang replies primly. "Still. It wasn't dull. I'll give them that. So, you're a scholar of mythology who somehow ended up in the Space Force?"

"If only a man could be a scholar paucis verbis," Alex says, drily. He finishes off his tea, pushing the cup aside. "I'm a lowly chemical engineer. And what about you? Obviously you read, that's a step up from most."

"Not so few words as that, I suspect," Xiang replies. And, very dry herself, she answers, "I was pre-law for a couple of semesters. Before I decided that wasn't the direction I wanted my life to go. The credits transferred easily enough into political science, though. That's what I ended up getting my degree in. That seemed *slightly* more applicable to the military." A shrug. "Slightly."

"Political science," Alex says, in a way that makes it hard to discern his actual opinion of the discipline. "And yet you're out flying stilettos rather than waging war from a desk?"

"Officer Candidate School wanted a BA in something, and I'd had enough of Zeus and his minions," Xiang replies. "I didn't want to be behind a desk. Our society, our lives, everything we are is under threat by the Kilrathi, and I wanted to do my part to stand against it. I met far too many people growing up who were all too willing to talk about supporting the war effort, but they weren't putting their own lives on the line to do it." She pauses a beat, shrugging. "I qualified for flight training and…here I am."

"Ah, you're one of those types?" Alex says, a corner of his mouth curling in a brief grin that shows teeth. "Turn up your nose at the poor bastard who makes sure you've got clean socks every day?"

Xiang's eyes widen a touch at that. Show of mild surprise. They then narrow, chin arching a notch. Mild offense. "Not quite. But take it however you like." She sniffs, providing no explanation. "What about you, then? How did you end up in this line?"

Aquilina looks rather satisfied at having gotten a rise out of the reserved young woman, if the added quirk to his grin indeed means that. There's a ghost of it left even once it's mostly faded back into seriousness. "My father served the effort. Contractor, granted, but I never expected to stray. Nor did I want to." He glances at his mug as though hoping one look at it would summon more tea. Failing that, he lifts his chin again and glances at the ceiling. "He would talk a great deal about remembering times when there was no war, and I always thought how strange that must be."

Xiang's eyes do some more narrowing at Aquilina and his grin. She a sniffy "Hrmph" sound. But her chin-dearches, composure assumed again. And she is interested in his answer. "I can't even imagine a time before the war," she says, tone abstracted, as if she's trying to picture it.

"Suppose it doesn't matter so much as whether you can imagine a time after it." Aquilina stands up as he says that, picking once more at his damp, damp shirt. "Shit. Really ought to not walk round looking like I tried to learn to breastfeed." He snags his cup, and that plastic-wrapped thing he'd walked in with. A sandwich, from the look of it. "Have patrol tonight, do you?"

"I'm due to go out on third-shift," Xiang confirms. "In a different Stiletto, most likely, unless the technicians have worked miracles on my bird from the last outing. You?"

"Negativ. Went earlier, free and clear." Alex looks unabashedly happy about this. "Say hello to Pickett when you see him. He got knocked about a fair bit. And take care of yourself, hear?"

"I'll do my best," Xiang says. Third shift isn't that far off, so she stands. Time to prep for that. One third of her coffee is left, but it's long gone cold. Which makes it even less appealing. She wrinkles her nose and picks up her cup. That'll be dumped somewhere, most likely. "Major Pickett wasn't injured, was he?"

"No, just banged about." Alex shakes his head, pausing to light a cigarette before collecting his book too. "He's fine." He lifts his empty cup in farewell. "Enjoy patrol. I've an extra teabag or five if you ever get rid of that filthy habit." He nods to her coffee cup, as the cigarette gouts smoke up around his head. "Ciao."

"I may take you up on that. The tea, that is." Xiang moves out of the vicinity of the smoke. "Later, then, Alex." And off she goes.
Date: 2657.315

Near the tail end of the daily flight briefing, an assignment for a patrol in force in the Castor system is handed out. A trio of starfighters escorting a pair of Broadswords tasked with hitting a series of four nav-points, the middle pair of which are heavily clustered with asteroids. Atleast one light recon element encountered light Kilrathi resistance in an early patrol in both asteroid-laden locations, indicating it was a popular cargo transfer and refueling point for light Kitty ships. And, with the briefing finished, Patrol Element Delta launches from the tubes of their Bengal-class mother-ship, and begin the task of forming up.

The ships are fueled and prepped and ready to go, and Valentine is in his broadsword at the lead of the fighters. The ships launch from the Majestic, and soon a good distance of void is left behind as they head towards the Castor system. "All systems check. Report in." comes the voice of the Wing Commander as he had personally decided to conduct this sweep, having left too many patrols to go without him. Falling silent, the Lt. Colonel waits patiently, listening to those calling in.

After going through the checklist for his Stiletto and getting all greens, Kell gives the flight deck officer a thumbs up to show that he is good to go. When given the signal to launch, the nimble fighter picks up speed and slips out of the launch tube to join rest of Element Delta. The layout of this flight certainly makes sense to the young pilot, having run into a nasty Kilrathi Destroyer the other patrol. "This is Razor, all systems green, ready to go." Kell reports in over the comm system after hearing the Wing Commander requesting a check-in.

His old Scimitar moving at top cruising speed, be that what it may, Jenthson takes a double-glance at his scopes, once he's clear of the carrier. Keying his comms, the old pilot's voice comes through, loud and clear. "Pip. All green. Let's find some heavies." And, that comment was meant for exactly one person the flight, and he likely knows who he is. Damned old man and his big mouth. There is a slight pause, and he tucks his ship into formation.

Frank_King goes through his-pre flight checklist making sure everything is in order before entering the black, "Kindred to flight control, permission to launch" Frank sends out over the communication circuit. Upon receiving permission he pushes the thruster control on the limbering overweight bomber to max. Cueing up the comms for the rest of the patrol he chimes in, "This is Kindred, Lets not dent up my fat baby today escort, I still owe on the lease" he says before punching the throttle.

Koenig leans back in the seat of his Broadsword, and then keys the comms, "Broadsword Two checking in. Green across the board and ready for launch." Apparently, the new pilot has not gotten himself a callsign just yet. Nor, does he seem like the chatty type. The pilot flicks a couple of switches, looks over his shoulder and says something to his gunner, and then turns his attention back to the launch queue.

"Alright, lets keep this nice and simple, boys and gals. Tight formation, 'Swords on my wings. Jenthson. Draygo. I want you two on our flanks." This said, Valentine presses the throttle forward, launching them further through space. "Heading for Nav1." he calls over the comm system. "Over."

Nudging his flightstick slightly so Kell is able to maneuver his Stiletto to the right flank of the formation, he forms up in escort position over the slower but more powerful Broadswords. He also increases the throttle of his fighter to maintain speed with the rest of his formation, growing quiet as his eyes stay peeled on his sensors as well as giving the outside occassional visual glances in case he is able to pick anything up.

Without a verbal response, Pip's starfighter throttles down a hair, and moves in to the 3-o'clock of Koenig's formation, all-but hugging the broadsword, for the moment. It's comforting right? The older pilot does glance over toward his chosen 'Sword, and give the pilot a thumbs up, before returning his attention to searching his scopes for any sign of the enemy.

Frank_King pulls his heavy bomber along the wing of the much sleeker scimitar, keying in the commands to keep the ship in formation to the first nav poin1. Frank checks the indicators on his mass drivers, not that he would use them with the escort but you never know. His sensors give a slight beep and his warning lights come to life with the arrival of red on his radar indicator. "Colonel, I'm picking up 3…no 4 bogies on my screens, confirm?"

"I'm getting it as well. Four light fighters it looks like." Koenig replies over the comms. He had been yawning but the little red blips on his screen seem to have caught his eye enough to get his adrenaline pumping. The man sits up in his seat and calls over his shoulder, "Boegies."

And, sure enough….there are a quad-set of Sartha's inbound on Patrol Element Delta, with all four of them burning hard, and opening fire with their mass drivers almost immediately. Three of the Kats focus fire on one of the Broadswords, while a fourth, for what might seem rather inexplicable focuses on the lone Scimitar, which happens to be on the far-side of the formation. It looks like the Confederation pilots get to earn their money today.

Hands are already playing over his control panel, pulling up readouts of the ensuing areas. The sight of the four fighters inbound does not escape the Lt. Colonel's notice, and as King speaks up. "Confirmed, King." comes the the voice of the Wing Commander after Koenig's response. "We've got inbound. Prep for a skirmish. I want them disabled or destroyed within five, and us to be on our way again." Then the Sartha's are closing, and three are targetting King. "Break and engage, I repeat. Break and engage at will." Valentine calls over the comm system, his finger flicking a switch as he rolls onto his port wing before pulling up on his yolk, heading in at one of the opposing fighters (SarthaD) and loosing a heat seeker for the fighter's cockpit.

Sensors lighting up with blips, Kell takes a look at the sensor readings and chimes in over the comm system in agreement about the four light fighters, "Razor here, confirming. Looks like four Sartha class Fighters inbound, coming in hot!" Shaking himself alert, he ensures that his flight gloves are on tight before one hand grips the flightstick.

With the orders to attack, Kell breaks his Stiletto to the right and instead of going at them head-on, he dives under the incoming Kilrathi who doesn't seem to be targetting him. Jerking his stick back, he pulls his fighter up in a very tight half-loop and falls onto one of the Sartha's six, waiting for a solid tone before unleashing a Heat Seeker Missile.

And, Castor System is never particularly quiet, is it? Frethan's Scimitar is moving swiftly to engage one of the Sartha that have chosen to engage King's Broadsword, while trusting to his own flying skills, and those of his comrades to keep his own ass clear, as he throws his fighter into a tight spin to try and avoid the neutrons already spitting across the void toward his craft. A moment of consideration is given, and he's flicking his the switch on his flight-stick to arm his own heat-seaker, focusing on locking up the lead Sartha. "Pip, Tallyho!" Finger tightens, and a Heat Seeker jets free of his left wing.

The broadsword comes under massive neutron gun fire from the incoming Kilrathi fighters, "Hold your breath boys" the Lieutenant says to the petty officers manning his turrets, "Sir, did you sign up for the paint a target one me brigade?" responds the petty officer in charge. King laughs a nervous laugh, "Nothing to worry about GM2, this should…go well" he says trying to reassure his crew before attempting relatively slow evasive maneuvers.

Koenig flicks his weapons over to missiles, and calls over the com, "Broadsword Two breaking left, I've got your wing King, just keep it together and I'll pick em off." He fires off his FoF missile at one of the Kitties, and then starts to track back to his embattled flightmate.

The Sarthas do not appear to be flown by top-tier Kilrathi, do they? Though, clearly a few of them aren't scrubs. The Sartha that neatly side-slips, and blows a flare to avoid Valentine's Heat Seeker appears to be piloted by a competent soul, no doubt…as does the the final Sartha, managing to put a nice ding in Broadsword Two's armor. The attackers continue to dance with the Confed pilots, two of them focusing on the same Broadsword, while fights for a deflection shot on Kell's Stiletto in an attempt to save the Sartha-B's pilot, near to crippled as his ship seems to be. The flight lead evaporates in an orange explosion, courtesy of the Scimitar's Heat Seeker, but this far, unit cohesion for the Kilrathi seems to be holding.

All his fighters survived that initial barrage with minimal damage, and Valentine's already calling over the comm system. "Koenig, you okay?" he inquires even as he's pulling up tac data. The target he'd attempted to hit evades his missile, and the Wing Commander grits his teeth, slipping onto the tail of that particular craft. Noticing the two gearing for Koenig, he adds, "Koenig, go evasive. We'll dust them off your six." Dipping and juking along with him, he waits for the crosshairs to align before he depresses his trigger once more, loosing another heat seeker, this time aimed at SarthaD's engine. "Two away."

Watching as his heat seeker missile streak after the Sartha, Kell sees the missile impact and blow off a nice chunk off of the Kilrathi Light Fighter. Instead of breaking apart further, the Sartha seems to be limping away still in one piece. Smirking, the Stiletto presses on, doing a barrel roll so that he doesn't pass by the now slower Sartha Fighter and then switches to Mass Drivers to finish off the limping fighter. Before pressing the trigger, Razor pipes a warning through the comm system, "Koenig, you have a couple inbound, trying to smoke one off of your tail." With that, his forefinger depresses the trigger stub, sending out a stream of mass driver blasts at the Sartha Light Fighter.

"Splash one. Intercepting target designated C." These words are spoken automatically by Pip, the Reserve pilot, stepping on his port rudder, and mashing it hard, dragging his unwieldy tank of a starfighter into all-out firing pass on Sartha C, attempting to keep it off of Koenig's ass, bursts of mass driver spitting toward the light fighter's cockpit. "Watch it, Razor. You've got company trying for your six!"

Feeling lucky he wasn't hit to hard King pulls up the interior Comm system once more, "What did I say, told you I would get you through this" with a a nervous laugh he flips the switch off for the interior communication circut and focuses on the task at hand. "First waypoint and we hit up 4 fighters, mind clearing the rest of those out so maybe we can blow up a target worth somthing?"

"Where the hell'd that guy come from?" Koenig asks of his gunners, one of whom says 'port' before firing off a series of blasts that don't do any damage to the attacker that dinged up his Broadsword. Koenig flicks his coms and says, "Broadsword Two going evasive. Switching to guns." He then rolls his ship over and goes into a dive, before pulling back on the throttle and cutting left, attempting to shake one of his pursuers.

As the furball continues, Valentine attempts to roll to port, only to find his stick won't go past center. A few jolting attempts prove it is irrepairable in the middle of a dogfight, and Valentine growls. "This is Grim. My yolk's only giving me half the playing field to use. I need to bug out if I want to survive this." Rolling to starboard and coming about the long way, he adds, "Happy hunting." before heading back to base.

The furball really does not experience much change during the course of that last few seconds of combat, with the Kilrathi holding their own, despite taking some damage from the Confederation pilots, they are able to inflict their own damage on the human's second Broadsword, neutron beams once again impacting against Koenig's bomber, and his safety doesn't appear to be improve anytime soon, as none of the Sartha's change their chosen targets.

"Roger, Grim." A quick reply between grunts, as Jenthson continues to fight his inertial compensators' inability to match the more extreme maneuvers. He doesn't give any further orders, though. There really doesn't appear to be any need. They're all quite focused on surviving the fight, and nothing he can say is likely to bring it to a swifter conclusion. He does transmit…"Broadsword Two, damage report." Oh he knows exactly how focused the enemy are on his charge. Another burst of mass driver is sent toward the cockpit of Sartha-C, easy enough, since Pip has decided to force a head-on pass.

"What the heck are these Sartha's made of?" Kell mutters as he watches as his Mass Driver Cannons pepper the front of his intended target but doesn't shread the fighter to pieces. He sees the bright blue neutron blasts sailing past as he jinks his fighter, knowing that a bandit is still on his six but he is trusting his wingmen to shake them off while he focuses on getting the bogey in front of him away from the Broadsword. He continues to stick with the mass driver and fires another volley, this time aiming at the cockpit of the Kilrathi Light Fighter.

As another blast rips into his ship, Koenig starts to sweat, "Could use a little cover here guys. I'm flyin a big effin target," he says into his coms. He rolls his ship, pulls up, and then slams the throttle forward. Its not enough to get away, but it might be enough for his pursuers to fall into a nice little line for his gunners to take out.

That was more than a nice shot on the part of Kell, as the Sartha designated as B disappears in a burst of flame and debris, small bits of metal shooting off into the universe at high speed, with nothing to stop them from their infinite journey into nothingness. The last two Sartha seem to take note of their less than wonderful situation, and go into full attack mode on their chosen targets, bursts of neutron fire streaming out from the light fighters, very little effort on their part given to evading fire. The Kilrathi way, this. Die in a blazy of destructive glory.

"Nice shot, Razor." A hint of a pause, as the now nearly-suicidal Kilrath have decided to throw everyhing they have, regardless of cost at their targets. "Time to finish this, before they kill someone. Razor, we're going to play some mutual ass-wiping. Clean off Broadsword-2, and I'll take care of your six." And, that is just what Pip sets to doing, turning and burning toward Kell's Stilleto at full speed, flipping his weapons systems to Dumbfire, and waiting until the last moment. "Razor, dive. Now." Otherwise he might end up with a faceful of warhead fired off at Sartha D, which happens to be sticking nicely to the Confed Stiletto's six. Point blank, much?

Hearing the Broadsword pilot in trouble only causes Kell to focus more to blast the Kitty off of his bomber mate's tail, "Hang in there, almost have him…" He tries to reassure Koenig before slashing the Sartha, cutting it to pieces, "Got him! Going for the second one, hang tight." The feeling of elation is cut short though as Razor kicks his Stiletto in a tight scissoring maneuver to evade the neutron blasts angling in at him.
The communications from Pip is exactly what Kell had in mind as he sends a quick acknowledgement over before breaking his Fighter to the left and then back to the right to latch onto the Sartha that is attempting to dig it's claws on the Broadsword, "Switching to Heat Seeker, time to burn, furball." Flicking a switch with his thumbs, Kell waits for the solid locking tone before unleashing a Heat Seeker Missile streaming at the Kilrathi.

And, just like that. Space is clear of violence, though Frank's Broadsword is forced to return to base, thanks to another of those unspecified technical glitches. Their effective firepower has been halved. That does not bode terribly well, does it? "Alright. I want damage reports, now. Pip is clean, down to warheads." A pause as he manuevers his Scimiter onto Koenig's 'Sword's 3 O'Clockm expected Razor to take the opposite side without instruction. "If you feel you are too damaged, you are to RTB. No questions asked." And then he waits for them to make their reports, though he is heading pretty straight for Nav2, and in effect. Nav3, due to their close proximity in the asteroid field.

With the Sartha exploding brilliantly as its engines eat a Heat Seeker Missile, Kell was about to let out another whoop when he sees more neutron blasts headed his way. He tries to barrel roll and thread the needle, evading most of the volley but a couple does end up smacking into the nose of his Fighter, punching a couple of small smoking holes. With a growl, he quickly punches up the damage report on his HUD to assess the situation.
Perhaps he's riding high on the successful kills so far and the successes of the last mission, Razor reports in, "Just a couple of scratches here, still flying pretty. Proceeding to the next waypoint." The Stiletto slides up in the Nine o'Clock position of the Broadsword as the diminished flight proceeds.

"A couple of scratches here lead, but, I'm still good to go." Koenig reports as he settles his ship into position within the diminished flight. "Full torps, one FoF left," he adds.

"TCS Pe….heavy…..k." As they near their second nav-point, an urgent distress signal on all channels erupts through all three fighters' communications systems. "Say…gain….can…..ting atmo….Ral…thr…Dralthi…1..Hrsiss.."and then like magic, contacts begin to appear on the sensors between Nav2 and Nav3. Atleast two large blips, and three smaller. Flight Element Delta has found a party.

"Patrol is canceled, Delta. We've got friends in need. Looks like a damaged Drayman…and fuck us. A Fralthi." The Scimitar is throttled up, and Pip doesn't hesitate in his next order. "Engage at maximum range. "Kill that cap, Broadsword Two. Kill it dead." A deep breath, and he hits afterburners, arming a heat-seeker, and setting his sights over the nearest starfighter moving to intercept the small flight. A Dralthi. A tone sounds, and he launches. "Razor. Break and attack."

As the distress signal comes through, Kell furrows his brows as he looks down at his sensors, seeing new blips popping up at the same time. "Damn, wish we were unlucky with those mechanical failures on our wingmen." Shaking his head, the pilot steels himself for what's to come, falling back and abandoning comrades in need never entering his mind.

"Engaging as ordered." Is the acknowledgement that Razor sends to the new Patrol Leader as the pilot switches to his Mass Driver Cannons, knowing that Dralthis tend to be a little more maneuverable. He selects one at random and kicks his afterburner into full, closing the distance between himself and the Kilrathi Fighters at a very fast pace. Once he is in range, he unloads a burst of fire before going into a barrel roll to avoid any incoming damage.

"With pleasure sir." Koenig says, before turning and calling over his shoulder, "Goin in for a bombing run, keep those Dralthi off us." He then angles his ship's nose down a bit, and pushes the throttle forward. The Broadsword pushes forward, and bears down on its target, the Fralthi.

"More apes to the slaughter…." These words are spoken in computer translated, but still ominous English, translated on open channels for all to hear. "Claw, you will focus on the larger vermin. The warrior pink-skins shall be added to Count T'znar's wall of trophies." The origin of this transmission appears to be broadcast from the Hhriss that enters the fight with a rather nice bit of skill, picking out the Scimitar that so swiftly eliminated the lead Dralthi, and launching a full barrage which impacts with a flash of light damage. And, it would appear that the Capital ship responds as ordered, focusing on the TCS Pelican with it's light anti-matter batteries, and charging it at full-speed, to make things even nicer. The Dralthis continue to pick out targets, and fire, joining their noble leader in the the fighter melee.

"Oh, you fucking wanker. A Kilrathi nobleman that speaks in the third-cretin. Our bloody luck." And, for some reason, the usually polite Jenthson has turned into a profane chav of a Brit. "Pip is still a-ok. But, no more misses, Koenig. We need that cruiser dead or crippled. Do it." Jerking his flight-stick to target the incoming ace, he activates his heat seekers, and begins seeking a lock. "I hope that vaped dralthi was your littermate, you prick." Squeezing the trigger, the warhead erupts toward Count T'znar, though Frethan does not seem intent to focus on the beast, already turning toward the third Dralthi.

The barrel roll was made too early as Kell's hasty shot goes wide on his targetted Dralthi. With a frown, the Stiletto does a quick and tight half loop to bring itself back on the Dralthi's tail as it spins on it's axis, unleashing another volley at Kilrathi Light Fighter. This time, he is aiming for the engine pods of the nimble fighter, focusing more on taking the fighter out before it can get a good shot on the Scimitar. While he unleashes the viscious barrage, Razor calls out through his comm, "I got that mouthy Cat on my tail, going evasive!"

"Working on it, sir." Koenig calls over the coms, and then goes back to lighting up the interior of his Broadsword with a littany of cursing in German. He's quite proficient. He loops around slowly, and then comes in for another attack on the Fralthi, gritting his teeth and aiming as carefully as he can with flak exploding around him.

"Pel….jump…ing on it…soon" The Pelican continues to head for open space, an effort to jump the hell out of the melee, while the Confed fighters buy it some time. That's something, isn't it? But, all is not well in the melee, as Count T'znar is able to rock Kell's starfighter with a salvo from his full set of guns. One of the Dralthi's continues to take damage from the Pelican, while Jenthson's fighter shakes as an accurate shot clangs off of his hull, a foot from turning the cockpit into a crater. The Fralthi? Now that is a better story. It's Bridge is rocked by a torpedo hit, with atmosphere clearly venting, and fire sprouting from various wounded bits of capital ship. It continues after the Pelican, the command crew lost to blood-lust in their possibly last moment.

With the near-miss to his own cockpit, and his sensors telling him that Kell just took himself a massive hit, Jenthson barks into his radio…"Razor, I want you burning your ass out of the combat zone…feel free to dump a missile or two off en-route, though. No fucking need to conserve warheads, now. Use 'em if you got'em." Fighting with his wounded bird, the Lieutenant jukes hard to starboard, coming around for another pass on the Count. He is clearly the most dangerous creature on the battlefield, Light Cruiser included. "Rookie in the broadsword? You kill that Fralthi, and I'm pinning a medal on your ass myself, if I have to take it off Admiral Mallory's fucking chest. Got it?"

"Its not dead yet? I blew out its damn bridge. Goin around for another pass." Koenig says. He loops around slowly, and then settles in for another run at the heavily damaged Fralthi. The pilot calls over his shoulder, "Keep me clear this time boys, let's finish the job."

Perhaps it was fear or inexperience but Kell was unable to focus both on the Dralthi he is attacking while trying to evade the incoming Ace that had latched onto his six. "Can't shake him, still on my tail!" The pilot doesn't sound exactly panicked but there is a twinge of worry in the tone. The hurried Mass Driver attacks go wide and the last second break to the right was too slow as the full complement of guns from the Hhriss Ace smashes into the lightly armored Stiletto. It was by pure luck that the damage was focused on the Stiletto's primary weapons, causing the Mass Driver Cannons to rip apart.
"I'm hit! Mass Driver Cannons destroyed, pretty bad shape." There is a momentary pause as Kell acknowledges the orders and says, "Unloading a salvo and bugging out!" Instead of taking the easy way out and ejecting to safety or just turning tail to run, Razor tries to maintain control of the fighter.
With the damaged Stiletto under control, Kell knows that his friends are still in danger and abandoning them now will put them in even graver danger. Perhaps it is the stubborness (Quirk) that causes the Siletto pilot to suck it up and fight but he angles his fighter around and dives at the Cat that shredded his fighter, putting his targeting reticule on the Hhriss Fighter's cockpit and unleashing a Heat Seeker Missile before kicking his afterburners to full blast, picking up speed as he angles away having finished his attack run.

On the outer edges of an asteroid field, a small but bloody skirmish has been undertaken, TCS Pelican appears to be in rough shape, a Drayman that has been sending distress signals to all Confed vessels in the area. There are currently a pair of Dralthi starfighters, a very crippled Fralthi, and a Hhriss attacking what is left of a heavy patrol element. One Scimitar, a wreck of a Stiletto, and a currently exploding Broadsword.

"And, all is as it should be. Count T'znar has killed his 19th ape. Father will be pleased. Two more will follow." This is broadcast from the Hhriss, which passes through the debris cloud formed by his 'kill' though he doesn't seem to check for an escape pod, or any such. The Dralthi focus on finding their own glory, in the form of shredding either the Scimitar, or what is left of the Stiletto…and without warning the Pelican broadcasts.."umpin….4….2…1…" and with a flash, the Drayman escapes with a Jump. Without thanks. Ungrateful buggers.

"I've got something on my sensors, Razor. Unknown. IFF is down. Could be more Kats. You've done well, lad…" And with that, the Scimitar continues in its less than fruitful dogfight with the ace, which is proving rather more difficult than the other fighters he has vaped in this aborted combat patrol. "You are one dead fucking kitten, T'znar. If it isn't me, it will be another." He doesn't like losing pilots….and then back onto friendly channels.. "Broadsword Two: Do any survivors copy? Pip to Broadsword Two." Juking over -one- of the bursts of fire sent his way, he asborbs another, and skews end over end, launching his last warhead toward the heavily armored Hhriss that ends up in his sights.

The desperate gamble made by the Stiletto pilot is only partially successful as the Kilrathi Ace manages to juke at the last second so that the Heat Seeker Missile misses the cockpit, instead impaling it on the wing and exploding for some moderate damage. "This is Razor, no juice on that Hhriss, didn't nail the cockpit." Now Kell can only kick his wounded Terran Fighter to the right, then left to shake any incoming attacks before looking for another target to unload his missile on, this time picking out a Dralthi. "Atleast the Pelican made it to safety… I have your six, Pip." He does what he can do to draw some fire while focusing on erratic evasive maneuvers.

Koenig ejects, though, it seems he's unsure as to any other survivors from his ship as he calls over the comms, "Broadsword Two, EVA. No Clue about others." One of his WOs calls back, "Gunner One clear. Gunner Two bought it when that cat strafed his wing."

Paz comes into sensor range of what looks all the world like a drunken barroom brawl and immediately switches to friendly coms. "All friendlies, Tizona. I got Spaceboy and a pair of Broadswords, coming in at two-one-fiver mark one three two. Stiletto niner fiver four four A, break right, lining up a shot." she adds, switching her selector to heatseekers and fire walling the throttle. The instant the weapon's seeker head paints a good lock, she strokes the fire switch.

And, sometimes life really does emulate the movies, doesn't it? You can almost hear the swelling cresendo overlaying the epic skirmish that the fighters of the Majesty have undertaken, when a climax hits all at once. The arrival of the Minutemen, and 13th Squadron backup is all that it takes to turn the tide in the Confederation's favor. The dangerous Kilrathi ace eats a Heat Seeker, both of the remaining Dralthi are killed, one of them by the TCS Pelican as it streaks away, and most brilliantly, the Broadswords Torpedoes shred the Fralthi, ending in a brilliant explosion of light that shakes the vessels flying in the vicinity.

"Now that's a beautiful sight." Paz grins as she watches the Fralthi reduce itself to its component atoms, then blinks away the afterimages. «Good shooting, Pip.» she adds over the comms. «Razor, you good to make it back to the ship?» she asks, eyes able to perceive just enough of the extent of the damage to the Ilumminati's craft at this range to know it's serious.

"Ah…It's good to see you, Minutemen. You just saved our asses in the nick of time. You too, Black Cats." This is spoken as Pip's Scimitar finishes the aggressive manuever that takes him through the rapidly expanding shrapnel cloud that was once the Count T'znar, slightly feared Kilrathi. "Broadsword-1….begin recovery manuevers…we've got two men EVA." His starfighter throttles down to cruising speed, and zips to flank the crippled Stiletto."Diamond formation, Razor…you're sittin' in the middle, for the trip home." A final glance at his scopes, and he smiles beneath his helmet. "Pints are on me, when we land."

With the odds weighing heavily against them, Kell was about to mutter some prayers and wait for the inevitable of either ejection or going up in a bright ball of fire. When his remaining wingman notes that more enemies could be inbound, the young rookie pilot almost gives up in resignation. However, training at the Academy that was drilled into him takes over and he continues to juke and roll his Stiletto.
When the voices of friendlies fill the comm system, Kell is suddenly relieved as the cavalry actually arrived. However, the pilot continues to focus, his morale renewed as Paz brings hope in terms of reinforcements. With the Dralthi still clinging to his tail, Razor continues to twist right and left, evading most of the Mass Driver blasts converging on him, only eating a few grazing shots on the noze that burns away paint, forming scorch marks instead of holes.
"Whoop! Now that is beautiful. Yeah, Razor here, engines and navigation still operational. I can form up to head back to base." Though the stick feels extremel sluggish and the response of his once nimble Stiletto fighter is now the same as a giant space hippo, Razor starts the journey home with the others in the protective formation.

«Copy that, Razor. See you in First and Last. Tizona, out.» Paz chuckles over the comm before shutting the thing down lest she accidentally radiate the flight's position to any waiting aggressors.
Date: 2657.315
Recovery Deck
Set behind the flight deck, the recovery deck is a single cavernous space dedicated to the processing and repair of damaged fighter craft. A network of taxi lines crosses the decking here, directing across the deck to a pair of assessment stations, then further to the series of repair hangars, or on to the elevators to the ready line below. The repair hangars occupy both sides of the deck, open facings showing spacecraft in a variety of stages of repair. At the fore end, the deck is open to space with a shimmering blue barrier of energy serving to keep the atmosphere in and the vacuum out. Retracted down into the floor is a heavy bay door to seal the deck in the even power to the containment field is lost.

Her Scimitar bedded down with its crew chief clucking over it like a mother hen, fully debriefed, showered, powdered and nice to be near, Paz strolls into First and Last grinning the the cat who ate the canary.

With the conclusion of the mission, Kell stepped out of the boiling cauldron into a pit of fire which is the ship's maintenance crew. One can easily tell that upon landing, they were not pleased with the condition that the Stiletto came back in. After some tongue lashing by the veteran repair crew, which the embarrassed rookie pilot receives without complaint, the pilot retreats to pilot country. Sporting only a couple of bruises and most likely sore muscles from the intense flying earlier, Kell is debriefed before he grabs a shower to relax.
It's only after cleaning up and dressing again does the pilot with the callsign of 'Razor' appear in the First and Last to kick back and relax a bit, to settle his nerves. Having only arrived two days ago, the young pilot does not know many faces nor has he ventured to the First and Last before so after stepping into the lounge, he pauses and takes a look around the area.

The First and Last isn't the best ship's lounge in the galaxy, if one were to ask Pip, but that is sure enough where he can be found, strolling in a few moments after Paz. He's cleaned himself up, of course…but seems to have slipped into yet another of his faded old flightsuits, which do seem to be about the only pieces of clothing that the middle-aged pilot owns. A hand is run through his grey hair, and Paz is given a polite nod, as he passes…moving toward the bar, and starting work on a tray full of pints. The young rookie regular pilot is also given a nod, though it manages to be a bit more of a relieved grin. A gesture toward one of the tables, as if to wait for the drinks to arrive.

Spotting the two Scimitar pilots, having seen them disembark from their fighters after the mission, Kell makes his way towards the two and openly grins. Grabbing a seat at the able, he looks from Pip to Paz, giving her a very abridged version of what happened, allowing the more senior and experienced pilot to go into details for the story, "A combat patrol that involved a /lot/ of bad luck for us."

Placing the tray on the table, with 6 pints of very dark beer for the three of them, the older Englishman settles himself into one of the seats, and replies with a slight smile, and a nod toward Kell. "What he said, frankly. We engaged an element of four Sartha, eliminated them without much trouble…but then we lost half of our firepower to mechanical failures. Valentine…"Whom he clearly doesn't address by rank, or even appear to have much use for, if his perturbed expression.."made an orderly exit, followed by one of our Broadswords…" He pauses in his explanation, and reaches for his pint, taking a long gulp, and glancing at the Stiletto jockey…as if indicating he should pick up the next part.
Paz nods, sipping at her pint and giving a thoughtful _hrmn_ at the unfamiliar taste as she cuts her eyes over to Razor.

When the pints of the dark, thick beer is placed on the table, Kell stares at the drinks for a moment before grabbing one, certainly not complaining about free drinks even though it's darker than he's use to. While he listens to Pip go through the first part of the patrol, Razor takes a deep drink from the dark beer, finding it pretty good tasting, perhaps the feeling of still being alive making everything taste better.
When the storytelling ball is passed to him, Kell nods and then turns his attention to Paz, "Firepower we could've really used for the next Nav Point. We basically stepped into a bear trap, found the Drayman Pelican under heavy attack by a Fralthi and her escorts. Turns out the big Cat had some kittens, three Dralthis. They also had an ace furball flying around in that nasty Hhriss class fighter, which messed us up pretty badly. Pip over there managed to blow one of the Dralthis out of the sky pretty fast, then things went to Hell." Kell then looks back to Pip, perhaps allowing the other man to wrap up the story while he takes another long drink of the beer.

"Aye. That little skirmish was one of the hottest I've seen for the small number of vessels involved. For a while, things seemed to from bad to worse, until that rook bomber pilot, Koenig managed to cripple the Fralthi with his second torpedo strike. He likely saved our asses, truth be told. That and the mouthy Count Kitten ordered it to attack the Drayman, and leave the glory to his squadron." A draught of the draught is taken, and then a frown. "He was good, though. Came within a hair's breath of waxing Razor, and then managed to destroy Koenig's 'Sword. Laid a decent lick with those forward guns on my bird, too." Setting the half-downed pint onto the tabletop, he sighs. "Koenig lost a gunner, a WO Stein, I am told. Atleast, for what good it did, that bastard Kilrathi got to digest my last heat seeker, roundabout the time that you arrived." A thoughtful nod, and he smiles more broadly at his squadron mate. "That was a neat piece of killing, Lieutenant. I was impressed, lass. Bagged yourself a Dralthi on the first pass." If someone can do what he does, he respects them greatly! "Of course, I'm going to punch the Captain of the Pelican square in the jaw, if I ever meet him. He left without so much of a 'How'd'ya do?"

"Wait, wait…you're tellin' me Grim lit out with half your escorts?" Paz replies, incredulous. "Oh that mother _fucker_!" she snarls quietly enough to keep it amongst those around the table. "We didn't know anything about it back here, at least, me and Spaceboy didn't, ditto the Broadsword pilots that launched with us. All we heard, like I said, was there was major trouble at triple x mark triple y, now go get 'em!" she chuckles, taking a more lusty swig at her brew now that she's used to the flavor. "Sounds like you guys did some damn good flying before we got there." she adds, hoisting her pint in salute. "You managed to nail Count Kitten, and that oughta put a finger in Archangel's notion that the Scim's a POS." she smirks. "And I can't believe you manage to trap with your ship in the state it was, Razor." she chuckles. "You were venting like a goddamn chimney!" she adds, then grows silent, hoisting her pint again. "Here's to Koenig for getting it done, and WO Stein." she proposes the toast. "And that kill wasn't that hard, sir. Senor Fuzzy-Wuzzy was too intent on vaping Razor here, never even saw it coming."

Not showing any reaction to his feelings of the Wing Commander, Razor could only shrug his shoulders, "Both the Wing Commander's Stiletto and the Broadsword had problem mechanically." As the subject of his ship is brought up, Kell can only grin, "It was sparking pretty badly, when I got hit, I almost pulled the ejection lever, almost."
At the mention of Warrant Officer Stein, Kell raises his half full pint of beer in the air towards the other two pilots, "To Warrant Officer Stein, for his bravery and sacrifice." Though this recent engagement has only been Razor's second engagement, he seems to be maturing rather quickly with the Trials by Fire here on the frontlines in Gemini Sector. Time will only tell if the rookie bit off more than he could chew, having personally requested to be assigned here straight out of the Academy.
After the toast was made, Kell drains the rest of the thick, dark beer and puts the empty glass on the table none too gently, letting out a sigh of relief before shaking his head slightly. "You shouldn't be too hard on the Captain of the Pelican though. Who knows how long he was by himself with all those cats breathing down his back, probably pissed his pants and was focused only on getting out alive. He did do us a favor, whether intentionally or not, by taking out one of the Dralthis."

"I am unimpressed with Valentine, as an officer, specifically. He insulted my flying, after I waxed him three out of five in dogfights in the sims, last night. Imagine that. And, both of his kills were missiles." There is a dismissive air to that statement. Sooner or later, everyone is going to eat a missile…it's why they rule the battlefield. A pause, and a frown. "Though, I shouldn't be sharing that disapproval with subordinates. It is inappropriate. I apologize." His own stein is then lifted, as he listens to her explanation of what went down back on the ship to get the help they so desperately needed. "To Warrant Officer Stein." And then he downs his own pint, and settles it to the table, before adding quietly. "And to Scimitars, the finest ships in the Fleet…" Said with true sincerity…"And punching merchant marine captains in the face, too." Kell's defence of the Pelican's CO gets a smirk, and then a perfunctory blow it out your ass snort.

Grabbing the second dark pint of beer, Kell laughs in amusement at the additional toasts that Jenthson tacked on, getting a feeling that the other pilot would not agree with his defense of the Captain. As for the apology, Razor merely shakes his head, "No apologies needed, what's shared over drinks is only between those drinking." The talk of superior officers that aren't liked isn't new to the young pilot, having heard of the same while in the Academy but instead of superior officers, they were instructors. Razor seems to have gotten a bit more quiet as he continues to enjoy the second pint, already finishing half of the drink but it looks like exhaustion of tonight's mission, on top of the other mission is catching up to him.

"Heh, my ship was sparking bad as yours was, Razor I'd be thinking about joining the bird gang, too." Paz chuckles throatily, "Like I said, how you managed to trap that thing is beyond me." she smirks, then sobers as she clunks glasses. "Vale, Stein, you done good." she adds quietly. "As to the other, sir." she says, turning a little to address Pip as she drains her mug. "I've got my own assessment of our Fearless Leader." she says, eyes dancing mirthfully. "Which is why I'm going to offer the two of you an in on what might be the big-ticket item of the cruise." she grins conspiratorially. "There's gonna be a match-up, Archangel versus Grim. Dunno when, but it is coming, and this is from credible sources. Odds are even, well, maybe shave a point or two in Archangel's favor because he hasn't been flying a desk like the Winco. You want a piece of the action, lemme know. I'm getting a pool together." she adds, reaching for a fresh pint and hoisting it. "To the Scimitar, she's big, she's heavy, she's fucking ugly, but good God, she flies good!"

"Fisticuffs, then? I have yet to meet Archangel…so I will have to make my own assessment, before laying down any wagers…" A smile, and Frethan merely sips at his second pint, giving some consideration to the conversation at hand. "Though, if it is a simulator battle, I would be just as likely to claim the victor, and put my own money on myself. I might not be so spry as I used to be, of course…" Damn, now she has him wanting to size up this Archangel fellow, and see just how much he should wager on Valentine getting his ass handed to him! "I'd take a Scimitar over those piece of shit Stilettos…"A pause, and a glance to Razor in silent apology for bad-mouthing his squadron's chosen starfighters…."They're almost as bad as the Hornets I started out in."

Leaning in to join the possible friendly conspiracy, Kell can only grin and chuckle at what he hears. "I will certainly keep that in mind. Certainly sounds like it will be a very good matchup… but I think I'll just remain a spectator for now." Plus, the young pilot has yet to receive his paychecks yet to start blowing cash around freely. When Paz forms another toast, Razor joins in and raises his glass, clinking it, "And to the Stiletto, allowing me to fly better than I am, quick like a dagger but paper thin." With that made, he drains the rest of his second beer and puts the empty glass down.

The comment made by Jenthson doesn't seem to upset or offend Kell who laughs, "Did a lot of training with Hornets at the Academy so the Stiletto is a major step up in my book, I like the speed and maneuverbility." Whether it's the exhaustion or the beer catching up to Razor, the pilot stifles a yawn before looking at the two, "I think I'm actually going to hit the sack. Didn't think that it would be this busy right after assignment… not that I'm complaining." He certainly knows that the only way to become a better pilot is through experience.

"Sims? Oh, fuck that. I'm putting my money on myself. I've flown against the Valentine, and he's good, but nothing special, I assure you. Not as good a gunner as he should be. Could barely hit my Scimitar for Christ's sake. Between those two? If this Archangel can shoot…drop the cash on him." The Englishman takes another long swig of his pint, and then nods to Kel as he makes to leave. "Great flying, Rook. One more kill, and you'll be an ace. We'll get you proper drunk, after that. Find you a lady for the night, too." A smarmy grin from the Lieutenant, then.

Nodding his head at Paz, Kell grins at her, "Thanks, though I'm only this good with good wingman. And these past two missions, I've had pretty damn good wingmen covering me." He says, shooting Pip a smile, glad to have a veteran like the Scimitar pilot looking out for him. The response from the other man brings a chuckle from the younger pilot, "Looking forward to it then, smoked kitties, lots of booze, and a pretty girl, it's all upsides!" Rising to his feet, Razor gives both a wave and a quick thanks for the drinks before heading out to get some shuteye.

A tilted head, and the grey-haired pilot merely lifts an eyebrow to off-set the tilt, and lifts his pint to his lips, takes a sip, and then settles it back to the table. "That, I have not heard, lass. But, I can't say that I'm surprised. The WC looks like he's a hair over 20…"Okay…he isn't that young, but Pip does have a point. "And, they see some old grey hair show up, stand up the WinCo, beat his ass in the sims, and generally act as if he knows his business? I can see why they'd be mistaken." A shrug, and taps the single bar on his chest. "They don't generally put 47 year old First Johns that got cashiered from the service their own squadron. Especially not when they've already fucked up as a WinCo. Jolly's job is safe." And, then he falls silent, looking toward the young pilot with a curious expression. Might as well wait to see what she has to think of the old fellow being a monumental fuck-up.
"Heard a tale or two about that too, sir." Paz replies easily enough, polishing off pint 02 before hoisting pint 03. "Said you got eighty-sixed, but can't find out why. Care to elaborate?" she asks simply, dark eyes scanning the older man's face. "Jolly's a friend." she adds. "Good pilot, and a good leader." she says, feeling the need to defend her CO for some reason. "He stood us up with a handful of raggedy-ass knuckledraggers, birds that hadn't seen a proper refit in twenty years and pilots who barely knew how to fly them."

"It depends on who you ask, Paz. My pilots, well, those that survived, say I was a scapegoat…." A pause, and Frethan drains his own second, and then reaches for a third, too. His voice is quiet, and he face is fairly well set in stone. Stiff-upper, and all that British bullshit…that's Pip. "Honestly, I don't know if that's true or not. I know I made a mistake, but it was a matter of being too aggressive, when caution was better served. I was Acting CAG of the TCS Montgomery, and her flotilla. We kept kicking Kat ass, much like we've done in our past few patrols, large kill discrepencies, lot of fragged fur. But, when push came to shove? It was a trap…and our Commodore walked his fat ass right into it." A rueful smile surfaces on his face, and he leans back in his chair, eyes never leaving the woman's face. "Monty's birds cleared the way, that day. Most of three kitty carrier groups hit us in a hell-hole of navigational hazards, and my men and women gave their lives so that the battle group could escape. We fought better than any unit I have ever seen,…before, or since, lass. Believe me. If you can find combat footage, you'd see." A shrug, as if accepting the blame onto his shoulders, out of habit. "My sins were twofold. Not giving the order to fallback the moment the order was given…it was, I believe, a bad order…the exit corridor was shrinking, as it was." And then he holds up one finger…"And the gravest? I failed to die of my wounds, while more than 60 percent of entire air group were not so lucky as me." His third drink is drained, after that explanation…with a final addendum…"That Commodore? He retired an Admiral, because 'he' saved so many of his ships."

For a long moment Paz remains motionless, absorbing Pip's story and processing it versus what little she knows about fleet actions in the last few decades and balancing that against the man's attitude in this moment. "Sounds like you were force-fed a great big shitburger to eat, and those that knew it made you choke it down anyhow." she replies, hoisting her pint. "Sometimes, I dunno who's worse, the fuzzy-wuzzies for being extreme xenophobes who won't see reason, or _us_…For not being able to let go of the political bulshit when there's bigger fish to fry." she sighs.

"Oh. Don't ask that question. The Kilrathi are hideous, awful blight upon our galaxy, and humankind's political machinations are nothing in comparison. I was with the Fleet when the bastards fragged that ship full of orphans that began this war. I was a your age, a journalist's intern. TCSF starfighter pilots saved our asses, when our ship, the cruiser Agincourt went down. A month, she managed to fight. I entered OCS less than a week after I returned to Earth." And, that was such a typical old-dude memory rant, which is finished with…"That's why we're better, lass. We don't fucking kill ships full of orphans." His third pint is drained and settled to the counter, before he adds…"I like Jolly. He's a good officer, and he's done miracles with what he's been given…especially having to serve under Der Valentine. So, no worries, there." Tapping his chin thoughtfully, he continues with…"So, tell me about what brought you to the

Oh, nothing much…I signed up for JROTC in High School." Paz replies with an eloquent shrug. "Seemed the thing to do, not ot mention the Instructor was …well….Less said on that the better." she chuckles. "Local college from there. Got my double E in civil engineering, off to the Academy and the ink wasn't dry on my sheepskin before we were being called up." she adds, polishing off pint 03 and going for pint 04. "Been an interesting ride." she muses, sipping at her new brew. "Though, I don't reccommend the accomodations in the Brig….the beds are lumpy and room service _SUCKS_."
"Oh, Spaceboy got shot down a few days ago on a CAP." Paz sighs, smirking a bit. "Didn't sound like the SAR was gonna do much in the way of rescuing him, so me and Archangel…..borrowed a Broadsword and went after him." she explains, quaffing her drink. "Archangel managed to bluff his way off the ship, and we got there in the middle of yet another damn brawl. I'm in the rear seat, trying to figure out what's what based on all of about a half-day's worth of instruction on how the rear-gunner's chair is supposed to go." she giggles, shaking her head. "Thought I'd never get the damn auto-align on the gunsight to work…whoever designed that thing needs to be tied to a chair and beaten with a hammer for a good week or so." she adds, lip curling. "It's like frickin' _gelatin_…You give an axial command and it feels like a week before the thing catches up. And, of course, since Archangel's in the driver's seat, we wind up in a knife-fight. I bagged my second Dralthi, I think …yeah..Pickett picked someone off too….someone I wanna say's important…But we got Spaceboy back." she grins drunkenly, hoisting her half-full mug. "He's a good kid, not a natural pilot, but he's got the stuff…all he needs is the time to put it all together." she adds.
From the doorway, the sound of boots thunk across the deck. Markovic appears half-dressed. Her flightsuit is unzipped and with the arms wrapped around her hips, tied around the front in a simple knot. Her hair is a matted mess, the lot of it held in place by a scunci behind her head in a ponytail. She doesn't bother with a look around the bar on her approach - she just sidles up to the bar and signals for the bartender. "Double espresso, pajalista." She hefts a heavy sigh and rubs at her left temple with two fingers.