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Check Ride

Posted on Tue Aug 13th, 2019 @ 10:11pm by Sergeant Shayla Kunadt & Lieutenant Ingrid Hollister & Major Cornelius Tremble
Edited on on Tue Aug 13th, 2019 @ 10:12pm

Mission: Episode 7 - Home Again
Location: Shuttle Bay - Deck 10 - USS Pioneer
Timeline: MD007 1030 hrs

Neil walked into the landing bay, orientating toward the Hawkeye and looking for his pilot. The Hawkeye was sporting a fresh paint job of whitish grey with crimson striping and the Cure’s patch prominently displayed on all facings. Beside the shuttle was the fast patrol vehicle which was currently in the middle of a maintenance cycle.

Nodding to the marines doing the work, Neil stopped to look at the special inserts that were to be fitted within the next week to hold up to five Mark IV suits for charging and maintenance.

It would make the crowded shuttle even more crowded, but it had gotten the Hawkeye an update package to all systems nearly two years early. What caught his eye was the Backpack and Joey pods which could be added to the exterior of the shuttle depending on the mission. He caught movement out of the corner of his eye and saw the Pioneer’s chief helms-person making her way toward him.

Shayla had taken it upon herself to supervise the upgrades to the Hawkeye's navigational array, as well it's engines. She hated anyone else Marine or otherwise touching her little baby. She recognized that voice immediately and she smiled broadly. "Well, well lookie what the cat dragged in. I am in here El T." She shouted, and was glad he was here. She wanted to see if she could get the scoop. Something was going on, and it was something big especially with all the upgrades they were getting.

"I'm not surprised, Lance Corporal," Neil said smiling. "How does she look today? Is the Hawkeye ready for a stretch?"

"She is coming together nicely, it would be nice to test her out. The navigational sensors allow the Hawkeye for evasive during warp. I gotta ask though, what in the four quadrants is going on here. The only way we would merit these kinds of upgrades is if there is something big on the horizon." Shayla spoke without looking up from her console.

Neil slid into a jump seat, powered up a console and began looking at repeater feeds, looking at the Hawkeye's overall readiness. He didn't doubt the Lance Corporal, but a second set of eyes checking that the shuttle's systems were all in the green never hurt.

"The Pioneer's the Task Force flag ship, so we were due some of this as a matter of course." Neil stated, as he sifted through the systems. He knew the basics of the shuttle's systems but also knew enough to not touch anything.

Finess was not his strong suit.

"That being said, this whole sector is a crap sandwich and the way the Pioneer's luck goes, the Commandant and general staff expects the Cure to have to take a big bite when the feces hits the flywheel."

Shayla smiled and kept punching in new data into the flight computer. "You have the illness we have The Cure... Sir"

"That's good to hear," came a voice from behind them. "Because having so many marines on my flight deck makes me nervous."

Ingrid stood outside the shuttle looking in, her arms crossed under her chest. She looked the two of them over with her large eyes and waited for a response.

Rolling his eyes, Neil turned and looked back down the ramp. "It might be your flight deck, but you're on my time and you're late Lieutenant. I'll let you and the Lance Corporal get the pre-flight done and then we'll see what you think of the Hawkeye."

"The Marine doesn't disappoint." Ingrid said, stepping onto the ramp and walking into the Argo Class Hawkeye. "Bossy and early. You remind me of my first husband."

The young woman walked up to the systems display console and ran her painted fingers over the controls. She focused on the readings for a while, needing to pay close attention since she hand't been on the Fearless long enough to really know what's going on.

"What do you need these upgrades for anyway? Are you planning on trying to outrun anything in this runabout?"

Neil shifted into his typical jump seat and pulled off his beret tucking it away inside his mission jacket. "She's not made to outrun much of anything, Lieutenant. The Hawkeye's meant to get us where we need to go in one piece and give anything but a capital ship a bloody nose if they get in our way. Not that she doesn't have some long legs, but it's not about speed. It's about stamina."

Shayla could not help but smirk slyly at the comments that Ingrid made about Niel. "Ma'am I do not believe we were ever formally introduced. I am Shayla Kunadt, The Cure's pilot and EVAC Specialist. You must be Lieutenant Hollister. Sorry ma'am your reputation proceeds you. The El T is correct the adaptations made to the Hawkeye were made so she can take licking and keep on ticking. If I may be so bold it seems that our friends, used a certain spoon to stir things up. So we have to calm the waters as it were." Shayla put a certain emphasis on the words spoon and stir. This emphasis was to convey a veiled slur against Cardassians.

"I definitely understand the importance of washing those spoons, Shayla. Nice to meet you." Ingrid said with a personable grin. She couldn't imagine anyone on this ship or in this quadrant hated Cardassians more than she did right now. She kept the anger at bay, however, for the sake of seeming sane. "As for Hawkeye, you've loaded her down with so much material it's bound to make her slower, during landings and evacuations. You don't want to be caught with a sluggish runabout when the spoon is being stirred, right Shayla?"

Ingrid turned back to the console and pulled up a reference sheet. "I'd recommend an upgrade in atmospheric thrusters. I higher grade version exists, but the original specs for the Argo Class didn't include them because they were unnecessarily powerful. In your case, I think it might be just what you need."

"We'll have to see if they'll approve the request, but since they've already went for an overall upgrade, we can probably get it. There are also supposed to be tractorable weapon packs including clusters of quantum torpedoes, but Fleet is balking at giving us the specs for those."

After checking his panel, Neil looked at Ingrid and smiled."Want to try out the Hawkeye, Lieutenant?"

Ingrid gave a smile that was simultaneously charming and devious, leaning in closer to the man. "You read minds like my ex husband too."

With a giggle, she moved slowly toward the runabout's helm, lowering herself into it and running her fingers over the controls. She winced slightly and looked over to Shayla, her eyes amused and friendly.

"You've got a very creative configuration." she said clearly.

Shayla had switched positions into the co pilot seat to allow Ingrid access to the main help of the Hawkeye. "Yes it is a config of my own design. You see very often on mission I will be the only one in the ship. So with the touch of a button the help splits into multiple mini consoles. Tactical, Science, Engineering, and of course the Helm. When the crew is aboard I run it with the Helm and senor output, I like to see what my ship sees..." Her voice trailed off as she realized she was rambling. "Of course ma'am it is no starship helm..." Shayla was proud of her design and a little embarrassed Ingrid seemed to be both ingratiating and intimidating.

Ingrid nodded with understanding. During the months she spent alone in that Cardassian pod, she'd had to do the same thing.

"That makes total sense. Good thinking." she said, feeling suddenly distant and vulnerable herself. "Signal shuttlebay control that we're departing."

"Bridge this is Hawkeye requesting permission and clearance for departure." Shayla spoke into the headset communications mic. "Affirmative Hawkeye you are clear, and please get our pilot back in one piece. We have a habit of loosing them." A clipped male voice spoke back. "Roger, roger but somehow I think we are at her mercy. Hawkeye out." Shyla smiled and winked at Ingrid.

Ingrid added a configuration of her own that she would be able to access easily, one in which navigation, sensors, and defensive systems were prominently featured. She made the change quickly, having alot of experience at helms. After the configuration was complete, she engaged the thrusters and felt as the Hawkeye lifted into the air, though with more difficulty than a different runabout might.

"Yeah, she's a bit sluggish in atmosphere." Ingrid said absently, trying to make slight adjustments to see what might help.

Monitoring a mission control station, Neil ensured all of the systems were sealed then touched the Hawkeye's com, "Hawkeye to Pioneer control. Launching." An indicator light was flashing yellow on the screen then went green. "You're good to go, Lieutenant. The ship's yours." He said, settling into his chair and prudently fastening the chair's harness.

As the craft lunged out of the shuttle bay and came about onto course it passed the windows of After 11, as a shuttle always did when it departed. Marines are creatures of traditions and Shayla was no different. As the ship passed those windows she gave a smile, a salute and a thumbs up to those who watched the shuttle depart.

"Alright, let's start off by testing those speed specs." Ingrid said with a grin that, strangely enough, seemed to mask her excitement. Her fingers flitted across the controls with impressive speed and the Hawkeye responded with sudden jolt forward. The occupants leaned in the opposite direction as it went. "Bringing her to full impulse power. Shayla, give me readings on the top speed you record, okay?"

"Yes Ma'am. Registering full impulse and on course. There seems to be a little snag in the aft port engine. Working on it now." Shayla called as an audible knocking noise had developed. About a minute later the knocking stopped. "There we go. Hawkeye is shootin straight again..."

Neil kept re-adjusted his straps, checked his panel and said. "Time for warp engine test." Rattling off a set of coordinates, he said "Maximum warp. Redline the drive to those coordinates. Whenever you're ready."

Shayla looked at Ingrid, with a smile. It felt good to have two women in control for once. "Well Lou. the helm is yours. Care to give the order?"

Ingrid offered the woman a wink and she made her hands to find the right buttons. Her full lips, which were painted red today, parted to speak.

"Going to warp in"

The Hawkeye lurched into warp as stars and space blended and changed through the window in front of them. Then the stars were streaking past the runabout at increasing speeds.

"What speed are you reading?" Ingrid asked, turning to her own readings.

"We are holding course at warp 3.75. All systems are functioning normally." Shayla replied as she kept an eye on the readouts from the Hawkeye's engine.

Quietly, Neil watched a timer he had set wind down to zero and as the two pilots worked through the parameters he set, he abruptly activated shields and hit his command override. The Hawkeye dropped out of warp abruptly and asteroids began bouncing off the screens and hull.

"Evasive Manuevers," he called out as the Hawkeye rocked from an asteroid hit. "Get us clear of the asteroids, trying to avoid the bigger ones, yeah?"

When the ship dropped out of warp Shayla looked around quickly. "Crap on a cracker... Initiating evasive delta epsilon. Hold on this is going to get bumpy and I hope you did not eat anything too strong because your stomach is about to do somersaults."

Ingrid furrowed her brow as the shuttle dropped out of warp, trying to understand why the sensors didn't detect the roaming asteroids in its path. As the shuttle rotated and rolled, she felt the familiar drop in her stomach. Running her fingers over a side console, she diverted power to the inertial dampers.

"What the hell is this?" She asked, frustration in her voice. "Both general and navigational sensors should have detected these when I plotted our course."

Neil grinned as he rocked in his jump seat while the Hawkeye maneuvered. He took a moment to dig a piece of gum out of a utility pocket and popped it in his mouth. After a couple chews, he said "This, Lieutenant Hollister is a Marine check ride. Most anyone can fly from point A to B. We thought you might like to see what she can do under simulated SNAFU. Speaking of...."

Neil touched a couple of more controls, "Oops, there went long range and medium range sensor feeds to the viewer." As he spoke, part of the viewer went foggy, limiting the pilots ability to see beyond four ship lengths. "Looks like we're halfway through the field," he supplied helpfully.

Shayla glanced to her right and the heads up sensors display. She blanched white when she saw what was there. "Ummmm there is a giant piece of space rock right in our path. One so big it has it's own gravity well and we are heading into it with speed increasing." She turned toward the senior pilot. "Orders ma'am?"

Ingrid gave a wry smile, now calmed by the understanding that their difficulties were mostly simulated. She removed her hands from the console and looked at Shayla.

"Use reverse thrusters to keep us under control and...well...pick a gap." she said, looking through the window at the masses ahead. "Try not to kill us."

"Yes ma'am!" Shayla said as she engaged full reverse thrusters. The Hawkeye strained for brief moment as the two forces met. However, that strain wore off and the speed of the ship's approach slowed as well. "New course laid in. 335 mark 6. It should take us through the heart of that thing, at your leisure."

Ingrid leaned forward, her eyes scanning the course which Shayla had laid in. After a ew seconds, she turned to her and nodded with an expression that conveyed some rare warmth. She reached, then, for the console and pressed a key.

"Engaging. if we run into trouble, it'll be your job to get us out."

The Hawkeye sped forward at a moderate speed, weaving immediately between three asteroids which were positioned in something of a loose circle. After passing a few others, she sailed into a clearing where no asteroids seemed to be. Silently, she passed through the empty void for the space of forty seconds before entering a tighter area of rocks.

Ingrid furrowed her brow; there was a large asteroid right in front of them flanked by small but dangerous rocks.

"Well, we were close to perfect, huh?"

"Engaging new heading 335 mark 6, 75 degrees down z axis." Shayla called out as the Hawkeye squealed into a dive. The ship dove under the asteroid and rocks at a high speed. The speed was to clear the small amount of gravity from the asteroid. "This is going to test the inertial dampeners, hold on..." Shayla pulled the ship out of the dive hard. The strain of the artificial g forces could be felt and everyone's heads rolled for a moment. The Hawkeye leveled and returned to a smooth ride. "That is an old trick you learn in the Corp's flight school. Quick and dirty way to shoot someone down." Shayla said as she was catching her breath.

"Very nice flying indeed," Neil grinned as the two pilots righted the ship. Then he punched several more buttons and pulled the breakers on three isolinear systems at his knee. Immediately, a klaxon began sounding and the computers voice called out. "Emergency. Three minutes until power system and full life support system loss."

Neil keyed touched a few more keys and a celestial marker appeared on the front screen. "Right. Ships dying. Emergency landing on yon moon, which for the record is Y2541027. Light atmosphere, but survivable for species. We should be able to make it in...two minutes, forty five seconds."

"Wow, you guys are annoying. I knew I should've stayed on Pioneer." she said, her face plain but her voice betraying that she was actually amused at the challenge. Moving her painted fingers over the speed controls, she brought the Hawkeye up to full impulse power. She piloted the runabout around the few remaining asteroids without further trouble and set them straight toward the moon. "Taking us toward the big rock, aye."

She looked over at her fellow pilot with an encouraging expression. "You want to land this puppy or should I?"

"The stick is yours ma'am. I am going to scan for a suitable place to land." Shayla shouted a bit over the warnings from the computer. She also knew this was a test mainly for Hollister so Kunadt was going to stay out of it whenever possible.

Ingrid shrugged and looked up at the window where the moon raged closer and closer by the second. They were coming in fast, but there was a time limit in place. She pressed several keys on a nearby EPS control console.

"Transferring emergency power to atmospheric thrusters." she said, her voice tense but controlled. "Where's my landing spot, Shay?"

"I got one it is going to be tighter than prom night. There is a small beach big enough to set down on. But if you undershoot we are in the woods and humped, if you overshoot we are in the water and drenched. Not to make your life too easy but there seems to be a storm coming in from the water as well. This is the only spot that is big enough. It is here or nowhere..." Shayla called out from the sensor screen. This planet while close enough to save them was a death trap in other ways.

Ingrid nodded and braced herself. She reviewed the coordinates her partner had put in for only a second before committing their flight path to it; she would have to trust the Lance Corporal, there was no time for second guessing.

"Entering the upper atmosphere. Hold on to your little green boots." she said, her face focused and her fingers moving.

The Hawkeye grated against the wind and her outer hull started to heat up, though most of the fire was eaten up by the shields. She descended steadily, more in a fall than in a flight until the heat dissipated and the mountains of the moon came into view. The Argo soared in more controlled form through the sky, making its way quickly to the designated landing spot. After a few minutes, she came to the indicated beach and fought the wind to set the ship down. Ingrid brought her to a stop over that place. After a gradual decent, the Hawkeye landed with a thud.

Rotating in her chair, Ingrid offered an amused symmetrical smile. "Marines are still crazy sons of bitches."

Neil grinned at Ingrid as she turned and caught Shayla's eyes with an amused glance. "Very well done you two, though a better test would have been to switch the times and go for a crash landing test. But, have to save some of the fun for next time."

He checked the chrono and nodded. "We'll reset the systems and then head back. But again, nice work." Neil moved to reset his systems and do a cursory inspection of the landing site.

Shayla slumped in her chair and took the earpiece out of her ear. A heavy sigh left her lips. "It is said that you starship jocks get too used to a computer doing the work for you. But I would fly with you any day of the week ma'am. Let's kick the tires and light the fires..." She smiled for what seemed like the first time in a while, she had a new friend which was something she rarely had.

A Joint Post By

Captain Cornelius Tremble
Marine Commanding Officer/Second Officer, USS Pioneer

Lieutenant Ingrid Hollister
Chief Flight Control Officer, USS Pioneer

Lance Corporal Shayla Kunadt
EVAC Specialist, USS Pioneer


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