On one of the hanger decks of the Battlestar Pegasus, Captain Chase wearing his blue service uniform walked quickly toward one of Avalon’s raptors that shuttled him over for the meetings. He saw the young raptor pilot at the hatch of the plane. “Cupcake, I’m sorry but we have a change in the flight plan. We’re not returning to Avalon.” He said once he was that edge of the wing.
“Planet-side to Gladius Cross,” he told her. “Tauron Headquarters.”
Confusion crossed the young pilot’s face. She knew she wasn’t supposed to question orders, but... “Gladius Cross?” burst from her mouth, unbidden. Then, as if she’d suddenly realized how impertinent the question was, “I mean, eh, sorry sir. Just a moment, and we’ll be on our way. I s’pose I shouldn’t ask...” She blushed.
He hoped aboard. “Don’t worry about it. I asked the same question.” He smirked. James was easy going than most officers and was not the type to bark for no reason. He had to attend another briefing regarding Tauron’s operations to capture those responsible for the terrorist attack. Avalon’s team would support those operations.
“Perfect too. I have a hot date back on Avalon.” He shook his head. “She’s going to kill me.”
For a moment, Rosie’s lips pursed in a silent “ooh” but she thought twice about vocalizing it. She did, however, smile at her superior. She couldn’t help it. “I think she’ll be alright with it,” said Rosie brightly, almost mischievously. “You ought to wear your dress uniform, though.” She smiled now, for real, and added, “I heard girls like the dress greys.”
“Oh really now,” he replied. “I’m ready when you are?” The last question could be taken wrong. He meant he was ready to leave.
Again, the unvoiced “ooh” came to Rosie’s lips, but in an entirely unvoiced context. “Yes sir,” she answered. “Sorry, sir.” She ducked through the hatch and into her seat. A slight embarrassed blush crept to her face as she slid into the shearling-lined seat. Behind her, Rico the ECO called Ops for clearance.
James looked back to make sure the hatch was clear before pressing a red button to close it. He nodded at the ECO and then made his way to the co-pilot seat. He was not an active raptor pilot but he flew many hours on them during his career. Raptor pilots stuck together and would side with his brothers and sisters against viper pilots in a fight. He still got harassed by close friends in the wing for marrying a viper pilot, but he did get points for trying to convert her to raptors.
He glanced over at the pilot as she prep for pre-flight. “Let me know if you need any help with any check list,” he offered.
Rosie brightened, a bit. It was always a bit of a mood lifter when the higher-ups remembered they’d been pilots once too. Of course she had already known that Chase’s bird of choice had been Raptor, but it was still sort of gratifying. The Viper jocks seemed to think they had something over the Raptorites, but truth told, Rosie loved the craft to which she had been assigned. That Captain Chase agreed with her just validated it a little bit. She fished the can out and handed it off to her superior. “I’d appreciate it, if you wanna run the PFCL with me.”
“Not a problem,” he started on it. In a non-emergency situation there was plenty of time prep for flight safely. Even in the modern age of flying, aircraft still fell out of the sky for mechanical reasons or pilot error. He followed the list and called each out with “Check” on his part.
Of all the things Rosie loved about flying a Raptor, the fact that she didn’t have to launch from a tube like the Viper was one of the better ones. The Battlestar simply opened up and discharged the Raptor like a soda from a vending machine. The next few minutes were hardly eventful. Rosie had qualified on a few atmo fixed wings back in Academy, and takeoff in those crafts was a high-concentration affair every time. In space, you just sort of fell of the edge of the Battlestar like a two year old into a kiddie pool, and you could focus on the flying.
“So,” she said once they were clear of Pegasus, “who’s the special lady?”
James had a moment to zone out after pre-flight, since the Raptor crew ran the show from here. He then turned to look at Cupcake to answer. “My wife.”
So he was married. It wasn’t that it was weird or anything, but Rosie always wondered at pilots who managed to maintain entire lives on a planet somewhere. Of course, his wife could have been a pilot too, she didn’t ask. It wasn’t important, and it sure as hell wasn’t any of her business.
Rosie smiled. “Got some special plans?” she asked. “Or just fun?”
“Fun in the sack,” he said with a wry grin. “It’s all last minute, she came over from Sagittaron for the services to represent the Exped’ Force. Hoped a ride on the first space available to be here before ceremonies tomorrow.”
“Nothing wrong with that,” Rosie replied. Tauron’s bulk swam into view before them. It was a big brown sphere, nothing like the pretty blue expanses of Canceron, or the green dotted with grey lakewater that marked Scorpia’s surface. It was dry and empty, but it wasn’t really a bad place, not by a long shot. “Nice that you get to see her.”
“Yeah it is,” he said with a trailing voice. James stared beyond the curved horizon of the planet lost in thought. He read the intel reports about the fractions on Sagittaron that would take advantage of the moment with the death of the Prime Minister. It left a power vacuum. The acting Prime Minister was not popular with the people. Localized conflict was beyond doubt a real possibility under the right conditions, and there was a change of escalation Colony wide. This worried him.
As his voice trailed off, Rosie cast a sideways glance at her passenger. There was any number of things she could say, but she ruled them all out. None of it was constructive, and none of it really mean anything. “Right,” she said quietly, and returned her attention completely to the blackness ahead of them. “Well, good luck, right?” she added with half a smile.
That brought James out of the dark thoughts of the war torn lands he once roam on Sagittaron during his tour five years earlier at the height of last uprising. He turned to Rosie. “I’ll need it if I don’t get back until late. She’s going to kill me.” He laughed.
The lone Raptor sunk deeper into Tauron and out of view except for a small streak of fire in its wake as it burned safely through the outer-layer of the planet’s atmosphere.