Badger hit the deck of fighter bay five as the ship pitched and shuddered. He managed to get a handhold and kept himself from being thrown around
too badly. Other than a bruise here and there he was fine.
As soon as the Penelope was under control again the bay was put back into order quickly and work was resumed.
Most of the equipment in the bay had been secured to the floor as was standard procedure but tools in use and people were tossed around the bay
resulting in some damage and injuries. Fortunately only a few people were injured enough to need any time in sick bay beyond a few stitches or a
broken bone here and there.
Badger got a short message from Asher asking that the drop ship be brought up to operating condition. Badger issued orders that it be isolated in
bay two at one end and ordered that the isolation wall for launches be erected and left in place. He wanted his personnel to be isolated from Asher as
much as possible and left orders to that effect.
After checking with the chain of command within the wing and issuing a few orders to fast track the fighter refits, Badger called a meeting in the
flight deck three ready room. This involved twenty four fighter pilots with two backups, twenty one weapons officers as well as support officers and
NCOs for the dash ten attack fighters.
The group of pilots and officers sat in briefing chairs nearly filling the room. They chattered and laughed. Everybody seemed happy that despite
the recent excitement there had been no serious injuries. One warrant in the back of the room told a joke about why you never wear a thong in a zero
gravity situation and everybody got a good laugh.
“Group, atten-hut!” called out Petra when Badger entered the room.
Badger walked to the head of the room and turned to look at the standing group of crew members.
The group was mostly late thirties to mid forties aged pilots. Many had grey or thinning hair and had obviously been around the block a few times.
About one third of the group was comprised of women and they carried their fair share of combat badges. The most senior person was a tiny little woman
in the front row who stared at Badger with an expression of surprise and anger. Actually, outrage might be a better term. Most of the older pilots had
expressions ranging from mild amusement to barely concealed glee. They obviously understood her anger. She was the senior warrant officer and had no
patience for standing at attention for commissioned officers no matter what their rank.
Badger resisted the urge to smile.
He was pleasantly surprised to see so many familiar faces. He knew many of them personally from his time as a pilot on some of his former duty
stations. A few he knew all the way back to his time flying dash tens as a young warrant officer. Most of the pilots and weapons officers were combat
veterans. The few younger pilots were obviously recent academy graduates. Badger recognized two that he had personally trained in flight school. Not
the cream of the crop, but solid pilots. There were a few that badger didn’t recognize but they had rank and badges which told their own stories.
The faces told a lot about their owners as well. It was an embarrassment of riches for someone like Badger to have this group of talent and experience
under his command.
He knew he had been dealt a great hand even though he figured the dealer didn’t have a clue. He was sure that fleet felt they had stacked his deck
with over the hill has-beens and mediocre academy rejects who hadn’t been qualified for the latest fighters. Badger knew different.
Badger stood at the front of the room for a long minute or two looking at every face. Lastly he looked at the diminutive senior weapons officer on the
front row. She stared directly back at him not bothering to conceal any of her anger and growing impatience at being forced to stand at attention.
Badger looked back at her impassively as if he didn’t recognize his former boss and ex-wife. He waited for a very slow ten count before
“As you were.”
Everybody took seats.
Even though the angry chief warrant stood for a few seconds to let Badger know she would sit when she was damn good and ready, she too slowly sat,
rigid and tense.
Badger sat on the edge of the desk at the front of the room.
“I am Lieutenant Commander William (Badgerprints) Chase.”
He got a few surprised looks at that announcement. He was wearing subdued rank on his flight suit and it had not been that obvious.
“I am your Wing Commander.”
He gave them a few seconds for that statement to sink in. Most of the room sat in silence.
A few of his old friends had dropped jaws or shocked looks.
Badger glanced at the woman sitting in the front row. She rolled her eyes and put her face into her hands as if she had a very bad headache.
He continued,” Those of you who hold the rank of chief warrant, or above may call me Badger.”
“Those of you who are active flight officers or weapons officers may call me Badger during flight maneuvers or when we are both off duty. At all
other times you will call me Sir or Commander.”
A warrant officer in the back snickered.
Badger looked at him and said, “Question, Mr. Hill?”
The pilot was Badgers age. He was broad faced with a red haired crew cut that was turning grey at the temples. He cleared his throat and took a
He suppressed a smile and said. “No Badger. No questions.”
The group around him all looked at their laps or away.
Badger gave them all a glare. It was hard to do. They were the old gang.
He wanted to laugh out loud and call Hill a rotten old ‘so and so’ but that would have to wait. He was boss now and it had to be that way, at
least on duty.
Badger went on with his speech.
He spoke for about twenty minutes about the current situation. He had Petra give a short review of command structure and they went over shortages in
They needed three weapons officers. An XO who was of sufficient rank as Petra was not, and a few other key positions filled.
After the main portion of the briefing was complete Badger asked for questions and answered them as best he could. He released the main portion of the
group and had a handshaking and backslapping session with the people he knew and had worked with.
For the most part it was smiles and jokes all around. Badger caught the angry chief’s eye and said, “Nora, how are you?”
She looked back and said, “I’d prefer to be addressed as Chief or by my call sign. Sir.”
Badger smiled. “Not a problem, Stilts.”
Badger excused himself and asked Stilts and Petra to accompany him to the flight HQ. He headed back to his office with a big smile and feeling better
than he had in a long time. This job might turn out to be ok after all.
Petra followed Badger looking tired and uncomfortable.
Stilts followed Petra looking like she was chewing on glass.
Hill followed the bunch of them from a distance looking like an oversized twelve year old with mischief on his mind.
When they arrived at his office Badger turned to Petra.
“You’ve done a good job as acting XO. You are being relieved of that duty. You will be in charge of all birds and personnel assigned to Bays one
and two. Any questions?”
“No sir.” said Petra.
“Ok. Get going.”
Chief Stilts stood in front of Badgers desk with her arms crossed and tapping her foot.
Badger sat down at the desk.
“Have a seat.” He said, pointing to a chair.
Stilts stepped to the front of the desk putting both hands on the edge of the desk and leaning as far forward as she could.
“How in the hell did this happen?” she said in a quiet voice.
“You don’t belong in charge of a wing. You shouldn’t be in charge of a sanitation detail.”
Badger smiled and shook his head. “Always were honest and straightforward weren’t you Nora.”
“Don’t call me Nora.” she growled.
“Ok, fine. Just have a seat.”
She turned and walked to the office door. Chief hill was standing in the doorway leaning against the jamb. She glared at him and he stepped back
giving her a half bow and a big grin. She slammed the door in Hills face and walked back over to the chair and flopped backwards into it. She sighed.
“How?” she said.
“Well, I was assigned here and had been put into the computer as a pilot. The acting Captain put me in charge and the actual Captain upped my
rank. You are listed as a weapons officer. You could have been given this job but you aren’t a pilot. They don’t even realize most of you are
here. They don’t know that they have 24 attack aircraft instead of fighters. They don’t know that fleet is interfering with their T O and E and
they definitely don’t know we used to be married. Whoever did this was not working in the best interests of the ship and has no idea of what
they’ve put together here. We’re going to keep it that way, at least for a while.”
Stilts shook her head.
“You’re exaggerating right?”
Badger shrugged and held up his hands. “Come on Nora. Look who they put in charge of the wing. I think they've lost it but what can I do?“
She shook her head. “Ok, so the powers that be have lost their collective minds. What now?”
Badger reached into his desk drawer. He tossed his recently worn Majors leaves onto the desk in front of her.
“Congratulations.” He said. “You are my new XO.”
She shook her head and crossed her arms staring at the rank as if it were a pair of snakes.
Badger picked up the oak leaves and walked around the desk. He leaned over and took her hand. He placed the leaves in her hand and closed her fingers
“It wasn’t a request Stilts. You’ve got the duty.”
“I hate you.” She said.
“I know.” said Badger.
He stepped back and smiled at her. “Coffee?”
[edit on 23-6-2009 by badgerprints]