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Roots

Posted on Sunday September 4th, 2016 @ 11:43am by Lieutenant Commander Olivia Constantine
Edited on on Sunday September 4th, 2016 @ 11:51am

Mission: Intermission 1: New Home
Location: Pilot Briefing Room
Timeline: MD 1, 1000

USS Jerusalem, Deck 32, Briefing Room
MD1, 1000
(1 February 2392, 1000)

"No, no, no you're not understanding the question. I didn't ask how it happened - I was there in the sim with you, I know how it happened, Murph. I want to know why."

One on one debriefs often brought out the true personality of pilots in training. For the instructor, it was a chance to take a peek at his or her student's raw, unrefined emotion that resulted from a fire having been lit under their seat for the past hour. How did they perform under the microscope? How did they deal with failure or unexpected circumstances? Often times, the instructor pilot learned more in a sim session than the student.

Constantine's plan in the days leading up to the Jerusalem's arrival to Starbase 39 had been to spend a few hours each and every day in the training center helping any over achieving soul spending their extra time trying to improve instead of going on a seventy two hour bender on the starbase. Of course, she had had to use some variation of "Oh thanks, but I'm getting too old, and I need the time off. You guys and gals go ahead without me" to politely turn down any invitations to any shenanigans that were afoot.

And so she sat.

In the training center.

Instead of enjoying an ice cold beer with her friends.

Olivia would have felt the pips on her collar burning away any of the remaining fun loving twenty-something that was left in her if it weren't for the fact that she wasn't in uniform. It was a day off, technically speaking, and she was going to be comfortable.

Seated across from her was Ryan Murphy, a relatively fresh and inexperienced pilot who was trying to get the hang of atmospheric flight. Thus far, the results had been decidedly... mixed.

"I'm not sure Lieutenant. It was like this, uh, big disconnect between what my brain wanted to do and what my hands and feet were telling the controls to do. I know we got into a flat spin. In atmosphere that's pretty bad, huh?"

"Yes," the bluntness of her student's self-evaluation caught Constantine momentarily off guard. "But look, you're in a starfighter. Not a lot of surfaces to generate lift when flying through a fluid, so you really need to keep the speed up to take advantage of whatever you can. And beyond all else, remember that you have a massive engine that can pretty much power you out of any trouble you get into."

"I'm sorry ma'am, but fluid? We didn't go into any water, did we? Well," Murphy laughed sheepishly before yawning loudly, "except at the end there. Bit of a crash there, waddn't it?"

"Atmosphere behaves like a fluid for all intents and purposes of our discussion today. But basically, Mr. Murphy, the takeaway from today is that we got a little slow, got a little uncoordinated, and ended up in a situation that required a quick response. We just didn't make the proper response in time, that's all."

"I understand, ma'am."

"Murphy," Constantine paused."

"Yes?"

"Have you been sleeping well?"

"Ehh, not really, ma'am. The girlfriend back home calls at strange hours. Well, I guess it's strange hours for me and regular hours for her, but you know what I mean. Add that on to trying to learn a new spaceframe and I've been barely getting any sleep."

When it came to the highly qualified fighter pilots of Starfleet, the root of any performance problems was almost never from a lack of knowledge or ability. This was no exception. Being an officer was difficult enough, but balancing the demands of friends, family, and work together meant that often it was the "self" that went ignored.

"Ah, I'm sorry to hear that," Constantine replied in a calm voice. "Tell you what, the best thing you can do right now is take this liberty time and get some real rest. Eat some comfort food, watch some movies, take it easy for a while. Come back in a couple of days relaxed and focused and we'll knock out the rest of this training module together, okay?"

"Oh, okay ma'am, uh, I'll do that."

"Get some rest. That's an order. I'll see you on the other side."

Murphy stood up and walked out of the briefing room, leaving Constantine alone with a display full of notes she had taken during the sim session. The ship's computers had been running a detailed analysis of Murphy's control inputs and reaction times, but she already knew what the report was going to say. Sure enough, reaction times were much higher than normal, something that usually resulted from fatigue. That would not save him from a harsh evaluation in the future, but for now, Constantine was prepared to give a little slack. Especially since this was all supposed to be time off anyway.

Approaching the door, Constantine stuck her head out and looked down the corridor to see if anyone else was wandering about the premises. Custodial staff aside, no one seemed to be around, which was just as well because an audible alert from her PADD reminded her of the promotion ceremony that would be occurring in a few hours. Thumbing through the notification, Constantine arrived at the conclusion that it would be best to just go ahead and start preparing for the event now.

"Starbase 39-Sierra Auditorium? Dammit, they're going to promote everyone at once, aren't they," she announced to no one in particular.

Putting her earbuds in with a sigh, she began sauntering down the corridor past her office, humming along with the music in her ears. The custodian barely even noticed as she made her way past him down the ever increasingly familiar commute to her quarters. He, too, had isolated himself from the audible world with his own choice in music delivered directly to his ear drums.

The burning desire to play a prank on the unawares gentleman fell away as quickly as it had risen.

Must be getting old.

Of course there had been rumors. Rumblings that Constantine herself might be pinning a third pip on her collar in the very near future. The rank and file loved to discuss this because in uncertain times, the young and willing often found themselves on a meteoric rise to the top. When the chief got promoted, the effect often cascaded down through the ranks. However, through her eleven plus year career, Constantine had never sought out advancement as an end goal, leaving her decidedly indifferent on the proceedings to follow. Up until a few short weeks ago, she was content to return to VF-50 as a squadron leader, the same post she had held prior to cycling back for an instructor tour. Now, she was hours away from being the air boss on a carrier as a lieutenant commander. Life was funny that way.

As the doors shut behind her, Olivia went searching for a crisp dress uniform and laid it out piece by piece on top of her bed. A second notification sounded, alerting her to a party that would follow the ceremony.

"Hmm, okay, I can get behind that," Constantine grinned as she idly waived the notification away into the ether with a gesture from her hand.

For now, only three things were certain. One, leftovers would be consumed for lunch. Two, she would be taking a long bath prior to getting dressed to the nines for the ceremony. Constantine found a mirror and flashed her seemingly permanent and ubiquitous style. After all, if nothing else, the event would be a photo-op - a way for the brass to show off their new toy and their hand picked crew.

Constantine looked at her reflection and began to arrive at the conclusion that she had been trudging towards ever since she found out she had been assigned to the Jerusalem. There was a sense of content and accomplishment hiding somewhere within her that hadn't quite begun to sink in. But now, faced with her own promotion in rank, she looked past her own reflection over to the dress uniform and it all began to finally hit home with her.

She took a deep breath and closed her eyes for a moment. When they reopened, her fiery, cerulean gaze portrayed a look of determination and confidence.

"Alrighty then, let's do this!"

 

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